Tuesday, June 24, 2008

sick again

The weekend started out pretty well, and included some summertime fun with the kid. Seen below, a few trips to the pool near our home, where new friends are made (including chiggers, if one sits too long in the sand, apparently. Poor kid.) Also, notice HT taking a quick break from riding his FIRST BIKE EVER in order to relieve the stress of it all by popping some bubble wrap -- he was careful to "wear" this bubble wrap mit on one hand for quite a while, in case the need to pop were suddenly to come over him.

And yet... I fell ill mid-weekend. I can't remember the last time I rode this roller coaster of crap -- I think I have a lighter version of the same flu I recovered from more than a week ago. For some perspective on this, the last time I was really ill I also fell on a rainy sidewalk and tore up my knee -- the knee is still healing right now, still has a scab on it, and I'm sick again.

It's unusual for me, such a slow-down. That paired with other recent events and visions makes me wonder if the message here isn't exactly that -- Slow Down -- pay attention, to yourself and to others, to the world around. If so, my impulse is to resent such a thing -- work was, you guessed it, kind of crazy again this week with food shelf traffic and our other admin person out with a sick child. I was really frayed by Friday. What can I do?

On the bright side -- hmm. I'm glad things aren't worse. I might have to take a day off soon, though tomorrow isn't the day to do it. I desperately need to finish my current art project, and get it off my plate -- I'd love to try something new.

I'll have something more insightful to say tomorrow, maybe. Thanks for putting up with my whining...

Saturday, June 21, 2008


It's nearly 3am. It's noisy, in that various types of air movement can sound really loud in the middle of the night. Fan blowing, refrigerator cooling itself, distant currents past an open window.

Today Cathie expressed some amused frustration at the fact that she doesn't often see me acting "delighted" or "enthusiastic," a comment I was genuinely surprised by. To be fair, this conversation started on the topic of eating -- and I admit, I get less and less "enthusiastic" about food every year -- though there are exceptions to the rule, mainly sushi. Cathie is a food lover, and she gets riled when she presents me with something bought or baked and I don't emote sufficiently. In this she and my husband are well paired, since he too would love it if I'd find as much pleasure in front of the open refrigerator as he does. He's a great cook, and he probably thinks it's wasted on me. Not really; I know good food when I eat it. And I like to bake, by the way, and I do it pretty well -- when I do it, maybe once every couple of months. (Interestingly, my spouse doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, so my cheesecakes don't impress him.) Cathie doesn't care for sushi -- lots of people don't care for sushi -- but twice per year Ron and I go to Origami in the warehouse district and blow a large quantity of cash. And man, that is "delightful" in my book. Overall though I just don't want to wake up each day thinking about what's for dinner, as my spouse does. But does my life lack "delight?" I don't think so.

In point of fact, I am constantly noticing things that interest me. I find many many more places, subjects, and people fascinating than I have time to study or consider. The world is a rich, chaotic, overwhelmingly sensual experience and it takes up all my time. Maybe my level of enthusiasm lacks great peaks -- though it admits occasional valleys -- I don't know. I wish I had another 12 hours to every day. And actually, my main complaint about food is that it takes up too much of my day. So I'm up at 3am, because it's alive time. Aware time.

But instead of blogging I really should be SEWING!

Yes, Yuri Arajs is leaving town.



Though not without some recessional fanfare. I've been hearing about it for weeks, since anyone who pays even the slightest attention to what's happening on the Minneapolis art scene has at least encountered a show produced by Yuri. He's been successful in the most hard-working, least obnoxious fashion possible, curating great art by unknowns as a labor of love and actually achieving some commercial success in the process. A Google search of his name lands an easy half-dozen pages of unique links before they start to repeat and age, but after 12 pages I stopped clicking. Since I'm no more than a distant observer, and haven't bothered to ask, I don't actually know why Yuri is splitsville; but, walk up good ol' 13th Ave NE and take a look at some of Yuri's recent work a la Rogue Buddha Gallery (reception was this evening) and maybe you'll bump into the guy himself. He's returning to Canada, I hear, leaving a big ol' pile of lore and a much-enriched local scene in his wake. Alas, alack.

Oh yeah, and here he is again, getting profiled. He takes a good picture. Even his poster in the City Center downtown is a respectable shot. He reminds me of Alan Rickman, for some reason.
What happens after he's gone?

Here's an older piece, something I totally missed at the time, from Minnesota Public Radio.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

hangin out with the B-Man

Hey, who are those aging gen-xers in that hip little tiki bar? Why it's Brady and Jen, together again, taking silly snapshots and drinking elaborate booze.
After some half-dozen attempts to get together over the past year we finally pulled it off. Seen here at Psycho Suzi's, the default location for infrequent outings these days; where they serve your spinach dip on those woven-wood plates from the sixties, and your Suffering Bastard in a special faux-coconut ceramic vessel that carries a hefty deposit. B-Man regaled me with stories from his trip to Costa Rica (where driving is strictly for the brave and the drunk). Then he tormented me with his camera phone until I made this dumb face, looking a little wasted already, even though I had to attend a Board meeting about 30 minutes later. You can't tell in the photo, but those tiny white polka dots on his golf shirt are actually itty-bitty skull-n-crossbones. Perfect for Suzi's. Thanks B.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

random darkness

I wrote a devotional piece for the weekly newsletter, last week (published by NECL.) It might show up on the NECL site eventually; I thought about pasting it into the blog for the sake of filing a copy (something I've done once or twice) but my mouse controls are acting up and I can't select text from within an email -- so maybe I'll do it later.

The devotional was rooted in a story I wanted to relate -- it wasn't really inspired by the text, as is often the case when I write devotionals, but the week's Biblical text had some personal relevance to the story. Truthfully, most of the devotionals I write are an excuse to talk about something already occupying my thoughts prior to the assignment.

In this case, it was an incident with a deer in a city park. I don't really want to re-write the story -- if it makes an appearance on the website I'll just add a link, but some of you get that E-Scroll newsletter yourselves and may have read it. The story is simple enough -- a wounded deer appeared in a sunlit park, dying as it crossed the sunny baseball field, while children played nearby and the rest of the world seemed carefree and oblivious.

I saw the deer because I was in the park myself, across the street from church, having a meeting with two community leaders. I was myself arrested by this scene -- after we called Animal Control and instructed the kids not harrass the deer, I couldn't turn back to the business at hand. I was just too distracted -- I ended the meeting as quickly as I could, and returned to the office, knowing it could be hours before the Animal Control people showed up. This week the memory still obscures a bit of the normal affection I have for Logan Park -- a dimming of the sunlight there. Such suffering is hard to tolerate -- this from the girl who throws gravel at her own cats to keep them from catching and tormenting the baby rabbits and squirrels who stray into the yard. I get weepy when I find dead baby birds fallen from the nest, I rage and curse at the bluejays when they raid the nests of sparrows and carry off the nestlings. Cars squashing animals day after day seems nearly as big a crime and a trial of carnage as the evening news. Not to mention all the time I spend squinting up and down the street for the source of a child's cries, making sure that the shrieks of kids playing or the cries of a tired toddler aren't something more sinister. Yes, I am that big a head-case.

It's not that this thing with the deer, with its three broken legs and its desperation, has me unable to smile at my son or live my life. I eat ice cream, I make jokes, it's not crippling. It's just that you can't really get away from suffering -- it's everywhere -- and I swear that making ourselves un-feel our empathy for other living things is not the answer. It's true there's only so much one person can do. I get that. But I need to think I'm making things better, somehow, for someone. It's the difference between hope and despair.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Reflections on an Ordination

I feel I've been neglecting my creative self, with only one day of sewing out of the past two weeks and not much blogging; but I've done plenty of writing elsewhere. Input and output; the days are rich and varied, and my desire to sleep has cut in on some of the chronicle-output, but I should at least carry my camera more often than I do.

After Thursday's panel discussion (I'll add a link for the project) came Saturday's graduation for my cousin Delanie, followed by NOT having coffee with Mustafa (another missed opportunity, but he needs to give me more than 24 hours notice of when he'll be in the country); followed by church this morning and delivering the Prayers of Intercession from the lectern (ah! ah!); followed by Dean's ordination. (Hence the photo.)

This shot comes right after the "laying on of hands" wherein some 20 ordained ministers from various churches (Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Other) prayed over the kneeling figure of my pal Dean Seal, who FINALLY became a Reverend today. After lots of hard work and struggle, including a pig-headed determination to do it HIS WAY always. He's been ordained to his own organizational ministry, Spirit in the House (need to post a link for this too), though he retains an unpaid Associate position at Westminster Presbyterian, where the ordination took place. I digress - the laying on of hands was moving and remarkable, particularly in that the visual composition of the act was so perfect -- I didn't take a photo, because we were supposed to be praying after all -- but the small altar in the Chapel framed a classical gathering of figures all touching one another, a chain of those furthest away from Dean, at center, towards him kneeling where five ministers touched his head and shoulders -- all facing him at center, heads bowed, and you can see how power and responsibility are conveyed in this physical act of connection and acceptance. Really amazing. My shot is after the Amen of course, during the hand-shaking and back-slapping.

My son was with me, in the interest of spending time with him and also giving his father a break on Father's day -- Harper stayed focused on a fair portion of the service, and seemed interested in the laying on of hands (though he didn't comment.) What really caught his attention was the organ recessional, the Toccata from Symphony V by someone or another -- "It's church party music!" said Harper excitedly. As indeed it is, joyous music and quite powerful in the small Chapel. He sat on my lap and rested his head on my arm while he listened. He looked tired, not surprisingly, but he had the pleased expression of enjoyment on his face. I wonder if it didn't remind him a little of merry-go-round music -- I've never coaxed him into riding one, but he loves to watch them and to listen. Now that I think of it, one of his first observable acts of music appreciation happened there at Westminster, when he was barely a year old -- I took him with me to a gallery opening in their Heller Commons area, and we paused as I held him in my arms to listen to someone playing an upright piano. He was very focused on the music; and he extended his little arm to lay his hand flat atop the piano's case, clearly feeling the vibrations of the keys as they were played. Someone took of picture of this and sent it to me, seemingly long ago. I'm glad he'll have these early memories to form some sort of seedbed for future experience.

Meanwhile, I wonder if I'll ever wish to pursue ordained ministry. It's still hard to imagine why I would, but I haven't closed my mind to any of the possible avenues.

Friday, June 13, 2008

shower drama - "As the Drain Clogs"

Today has not been terribly productive, and I blame my shower.

So I'm standing under the spray this morning, washing my hair, doing the usual rundown: scenes from the night before that are still bugging me, things I have to talk myself out of thinking about or feeling, moments that made me happy yesterday, remarks I evidently misinterpreted since the real (obvious) meaning is just now dawning on me (this pertains to emails and comments from others, generally.) And then, things I'm ashamed of; items from the news that upset me; and reasons to stop acting like an idiot. My morning constitutional. Every day it's the same, unless I skip my shower.

I'm kind of tired of this routine.

Yesterday I took a bath instead, and it was a nice experience. I did the whole thing in reverse: washed my face, did my hair, THEN had a bath. Took the same amount of time, but was much more relaxing. It gave me the chance to think about the ten pounds I've lost (as of my doctor's visit Wednesday) and the nice bike ride I had Tuesday morning. It also reminded me that the tub needs to be cleaned again.

I wasn't as stressed yesterday as I could have been, given the evening panel discussion and the pertinent details -- maybe the bath takes the credit. This morning it was back to the grind, with the added attraction of the boys being at home and impatient for me to get ready for work, so they could drop me off and head for the book store. Hurry up. "Don't forget to put the hair trap over the drain." So this morning I'm not terribly competent, not as smart as I think I am, not as pretty as some guys' wives. MAN IS THIS DUMB! How can so much of my day hinge on whether I shower or bathe?

This must be one of those irritating chick habits that men are always raging about. The need for a really great ablution experience each morning. Wish I could just get baptized every morning, before I wash my hair. Maybe if the water had a purpose besided improving my body, I could focus on my inner peace and spiritual well-being.


Today has not been a productive day.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Maureen On Hillary


Is a scheming, fibbing, self-centered woman in the White House better than no woman at all? Not as far as Dowd is concerned.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


She said, What is history? And he said,
History is an angel being blown backwards into the future.
History is a pile of debris.
And the angel wants to go back, to fix things,
to repair things that have been broken.
But there is a storm
from Paradise,
and the storm keeps blowing the angel backwards
into the future.
And this storm, this storm, is called

-- Laurie Anderson, from "The Dream Before (for Walter Benjamin)"

I was standing in the shower thinking about who Obama is likely to pick as VP, when this lyric came to mind. Since our nation's voting public still hasn't quite worked through the dysfunctions and inspirations of the Sixties, it's an especially interesting question -- on the one hand you have Clinton, at one time an appealing candidate (bias here) who gives those original founding Feminists a vision of arms lifted in final victory. On the other hand you have Edwards (and for the moment we'll leave out the other options, whatever they are), a sincere replicant of Bobby Kennedy and the evocation of some lasting vision of racial healing via the King/Kennedy aura. It's much too much to hope that short of divine intervention either ideal will wholly come to pass in any practical sense, should a Democrat be elected. But it's long past time for some larger moral vision (we're talking real morals here) to lift a significant portion of the country out of its backyards and ghettos long enough to effect discernable change.

Hillary Clinton is just on my nerves, frankly, and I think Saturday Night Live has her pegged. She has blown her chance at respect, in my mind, by being shrill and vindictive, and by bending the truth for no good reason. Plus I've always thought her an establishment candidate, relatively speaking. More white than woman. And nobody likes a sore loser.

And the angel wants to go back, and fix things. It's not necessarily a good way to view politics, by virtue of a need for recompense and retribution. Yet "move forward, forget the past" has so often been the message of those in power who benefit from a move away from moral progress, away from the progress of social justice, of human rights. And yet again -- maybe Progress comes full circle, eventually -- maybe Progress catches up with itself, the pendulum swings the other way, the angel's work is done right here and Now. I hope so, whatever happens.

Monday, June 2, 2008


It is an oddly silent night here in Northeast, a sort of culmination to an oddly quiet week of vacation -- and now, as I'm wanting to get back to work, I'm dealing with a nasty virus as well that has me hot and cold, up and down. But outside it is unusually quiet. I don't think my ears are so terribly stopped up, as it was this way last night as well. No wind, no sirens, only the occasional ringing of the wind chimes; no traffic, nothing. Quiet. No train noises, even, a distant racket I've grown used to.

I haven't had much email from work all week -- no calls from anyone in a state of panic over this or that, and hopefully the plants haven't died yet -- and I feel torn between relief and a pouty sort of huff over not being (apparently) much missed. And yet...this is what I need. A genuine break in the chaos and busyness. A genuine period of silence, even if I'm forced to sleep through some of it. I'm not in demand at the moment, and whatever else may be happening is out of my hands.

Maybe somewhere in this silence is a reconnection with whatever it was I haven't had in the past few months -- the elusive strain of inspiration that has left me with a vague dissatisfaction -- the feeling not long past that something was building, that I was going somewhere -- that we (at church) were going somewhere -- that it was more than just a lot of sound and fury. Something's been missing lately, though it's not all been wasted effort, no. After a week away from the usual influences, the voice of longing and frustration has gradually quieted -- though I'm not sure what remains. I get addicted to the breakneck pace. I feel a little bit of resentment towards this quiet: how can this be better? What's in it for me? Silly I know, and I should just shut up and listen.

Listen. Maybe to something other than the blood singing in my ears. If I stop running, do I stop being me?