Monday, August 26, 2013

We can rebuild her! We have the technology!

I've been thinking and praying a lot lately, trying to find the right balance, trying to discern the right path. Nothing specific is afoot - no huge upheavals or changes. I've been feeling a bit unsettled, and have been wanting to grow spiritually, to do more and to be more - to be better. Better...stronger...faster... a little like the Bionic Man, I guess.

Introduction to The Bionic Man

I came across this list a few days ago, and it spoke to me. I've been studying it, praying about it. Its given me the focus I've been hoping and praying for. I think I've been wanting the wrong things. Growth is surely good, but I've been looking in the wrong direction.

Mother Teresa’s Humility List

01. Speak as little as possible about yourself.
02. Keep busy with your own affairs and not those of others.
03. Avoid curiosity.
04. Do not interfere in the affairs of others.
05. Accept small irritations with good humor.
06. Do not dwell on the faults of others.
07. Accept censures even if unmerited.
08. Give in to the will of others.
09. Accept insults and injuries.
10. Accept contempt, being forgotten and disregarded.
11. Be courteous and delicate even when provoked by someone.
12. Do not seek to be admired and loved.
13. Do not protect yourself behind your own dignity.
14. Give in, in discussions, even when you are right.
15. Choose always the more difficult task.

Mother Teresa
I don't understand everything on this list. Avoid curiosity? About... everything? About inconsequential things? I'm still not sure. 

Give in, in discussions, even when you are right. I can see not wanting to be right for the sake of being right about most things, but isn't it right to gently correct someone who is clearly in the wrong about things that matter? But maybe that's where faith comes in. Trusting that things will turn out, not getting upset, not adopting an "I'm right" attitude.

Most of the list made sense immediately, though. Most of it is difficult. It's hard to walk away and detach oneself sometimes. It is hard to be humble, to be quiet, to be thoughtful. Good is rarely easy. Simple faith can be really hard.

 balance, used with permission, here

A couple of weeks ago, our youngest asked me about birds in the Bible. I could think of only a couple of verses offhand. I recited them, and she said her favorite was Luke 12:24Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds.

 raven, used with permission, here

I explained that there are probably billions of birds, and that God knows each of them. And if God knows each individual bird, just think of how He knows us and cares for us. She really liked that and said it was good. I agreed. It is good.

Right now, instead of trying to do more or be more, perhaps I should work on being humbly happy with what is, and recognizing all that is good. There is so much good. 

good, used with permission, here

Sounds like a plan.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mr. Blue Sky Vs. The Monsters Under the Bed

Minion: So what's the plan, sir?

Megamind: I have no idea!

After the little one went to bed at just before 8:30, Dan and I started watching Megamind. I don't always like computer animated movies, but this is one of my favorites. Funny and sweet, the bad guy decides to do the right thing and changes for the right reasons.

Megamind movie poster, from Wikipedia, here.

ELO's Mr Blue Sky is featured in Megamind. ELO made a new video for it last year, in 2012 for some reason - the original came out in 1977. I've always liked it and have always thought I heard a dog panting in the song. Having seen the new video, either I'm right about the dog, or the animator mis-hears the same thing, because a doggie is animated in at just the right spot. Sweet, right? 

2012 ELO Mr. Blue Sky

The previous video of Mr Blue Sky was a more straightforward performance piece by ELO. From the marvellous and much-missed era of huge 'fros and rockin' mullets, it's neat, but in a different way.

Original video, ELO, Mr. Blue Sky

About an hour after we started watching the film, the little one came down crying. Fast forward another 40 minutes, and we sent her back to bed, still a little upset, but mostly calm. Now I'm upset, too.

Mr. Blue you did it right
But soon comes Mr. Night
Creepin' over, now his hand is on your shoulder
Never mind, I'll remember you this, I'll remember you this way

Lyrics from Mr. Blue Sky by ELO

She couldn't sleep because today at school, when she had a moment to read, she picked up a book called More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (link goes to the Amazon page for the book). Tonight, in bed, she had plenty of time to think about the stories, and when she came down, she was terrified. I have the feeling that she may have picked this particular book up because it has a horse on the cover. She loves horses.

I'm actually not upset about the book. In spite of the title, it seems to be age-appropriate, from what I can see. It simply was not "our child" age-appropriate, but the teacher would have had no way of knowing. Additionally, I'm not one for censorship. Still, I know my child, and could have foreseen this. But I wasn't there. And she wasn't here.

For half an hour or so, we talked to her, and I held her & her pony and gave her tight hugs. Dan told her about a scary movie he'd seen when he was little (he'd seen Jaws) and how he'd had a hard time sleeping when he saw it, but how now he knows that movies and books can't hurt us. When she was calm, but still a little worried, we sent her to bed.

Jaws movie poster, from Wikipedia, here.

Normally, when she's scared, we'd sit up and talk and maybe find another book to read or do something to replace the scary ideas she has swirling around in her mind. We'd take the time until the issue was resolved, even if it took a while.

But we can't sit up for another hour or so.

Sending her to her room is a rude reminder of what "going to school" means.

Hey, you with the pretty face
Welcome to the human race
Lyrics from Mr. Blue Sky by ELO

She has to get up early in the morning for school, and I had to tell her that she had to go back and try to sleep.

Now I'm sitting here, sad and frustrated that I couldn't do everything I felt called to do because of time constraints. We did what we needed to do to calm her and get her back in bed and hopefully  to sleep. With school looming,  though, there is no time to find stories to give her new things to think about, or to have a talk about why we sometimes like scary things and how they aren't always bad.

She asked to stay home tomorrow, right before she went back to her room, and I had to say "no". School is something to fully commit to and attendance is important.

I desperately wanted to say yes.

Taking the time to talk and spend time with her and to fix things is how we've always done things. We both miss that right now.

I feel like crying, and I didn't even read a scary book.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Make A Little Birdhouse in Your Soul

I haven't posted in a long time, and haven't posted with any regularity for even longer.

So many things have happened in the last few years, only some of it immediately positive. I have been content to let events and time pass unmentioned, allowing the bad to wash over with the good.

In the last year or so, in no particular order, my mother died after a stroke. My uncle died. My husband's grandmother died. Our neighbor died. Another neighbor died. Fathers and mothers and grandparents and brothers and sisters of friends died. Dear friends became very ill and came far too close to not being here any more. It was terrible, scary, too sad to put into words.

Friends and acquaintances died, including two who were just starting out in life. We did our best to explain things to our little one that we ourselves don't always understand. How do you explain "faith"? How do you explain "why"?

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen ~ Hebrews 11:1

In one 12-month period, ten people we knew or were related to died. We did our best to do what family and friends do. We did our best to grieve and comfort and pray. We mourned. It didn't always make sense, but we muddled through. Not easy, we're never promised easy, even when we come to expect it. 

It seemed that as soon as things started to feel normal, as soon as our sea was calm, a new storm would gather and we'd find ourselves in the middle of another maelstrom. Bad things came so fast and so hard. Most of it made no sense.

We lost our elderly cat because she was old, lost our parrot to an infection brought on by nearby forest fires, lost our not-elderly cat to illness.

Smoke from nearby forest fires

Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots ~ Victor Hugo


Small things kept us going.
Our dog got sick (cancer), then got better after surgery. Thank goodness. We still have our beloved dog.

We started home schooling our kindergartner, who became our first grader; who went from not reading to reading years ahead of her age/grade levels. We did everything we could to shelter her, to protect her, to explain to her, to reason with her, to teach her, to help her. She's fine. Our older daughters are fine.

We all have each other.

We're grateful and thankful and humble.

Thank God for friends, for family, and most of all, for my husband. He always does his level best to be there. I am so thankful for him.

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort ~ Jane Austen

The storm seems to have receded for now. Calm replaces chaos, and life seems to be returning to a more normal rhythm. It seems right to write again and it seems like a good time to extend myself beyond my little world, to give back and to see what it out there.

Flansy drowsing on freshly killed tissue paper

We got a new kitten, named Flansy. She's named after John Flansburgh (half of They Might Be Giants). We love her, and while she doesn't replace the two we've lost, she makes us laugh and she loves to cuddle. We adore her. Speaking of TMBG, we went to see them recently, out first concert in years. So much fun, and a much needed alone/together night away.

Life goes on, sometimes in different directions than before. 

I've recently volunteered to help with my daughter's youth group. The application asked what I'd been doing for the last several years - 5 or 7 years - something like that. I couldn't think of anything to write. I was sad, and a bit ashamed. I haven't been idle, but I haven't looked elsewhere for things to occupy my time in a very long time. I gave up being out there for being right here. Now its time to be out there again, at least some of the time.

And so, I'm here again, too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

We're Goin' Hoppin'

Everyone my age grew up with Dick Clark.

On Saturdays, American Bandstand came on in the early afternoon. No matter where we lived, it served as the un-official end to the hours of cartoons we'd all gotten up extra-early to watch. So, I hated AB when I was little, because it meant no more cartoons for an entire week.

Even during the week, Dick Clark could not be avoided. He was the host of a popular game show called The $10,000 Pyramid. During the summer, or if you stayed home sick from school, there he'd be,
coaching celebrities and their non-famous partners, offering hints, friendly commiseration and enthusiastic congratulations.

Still, I'd watch Bandstand once in a while, because there was nothing else on (this was BC, Before Cable). It was either Dick Clark or professional wrestling.

Eventually, I realized that I preferred Bandstand to cartoons.The end of an era.

Dick Clark, Loretta Switt, & McClean Stevenson 
on Pyramid
Dick Clark was our parents' age (or older), but he was still pretty cool. Before MTV, Dick Clark introduced us to bands we'd only heard on the radio. Bandstand was where we studied the dancers and the dances we practiced later with our girlfriends.  

Dick Clark & The Village People 
Bandstand was where you saw what teens in other parts of the country were wearing, how they styled their hair, how they did their makeup. Best of all, you got to see what they thought of the music played on the show. During the Rate-a-Record segment, teens selected from the live audience were asked to tell Dick what they liked about a song, and then to give a score. "It's got a good beat and you can dance to it" - the stereotypical phrase teens used to describe the song they'd just heard.


Dick Clark died today^ and he will be missed.

Barry Manilow singing American Bandstand's theme,
Bandstand Boogie (which he also wrote) 


Friday, October 21, 2011


I am incapable of conceiving infinity, and yet I do not accept finity.
Simone de Beauvoir

Egyptian symbol
for 1 million or "many"
For as long as she's been talking, Clementine, five, has been asking about numbers. For years, she has asked me half a dozen times a day, every day, to tell her what time it is. I answer, knowing that she can tell time at this point and is only asking for confirmation. She let the fact that she could tell time  slip out last summer when she was taking her Kindergarten placement tests. We also discovered that she was reading well enough to answer multi-step math problems. This was only slightly surprising.

Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica

Clementine has always been all about math. She gets it from her daddy. Dan is an engineer and thinks in the same terms, sees the world the same way.

This way of viewing the world is foreign to me. I am not all about the math and really have to think about it sometimes. It helps to tie math to something concrete. For me, geometry works better if I'm calculating something real, a wall to be painted, for example.How much fabric to buy to make a dress.Real stuff.

finger symbols for numbers, 
from the 16th Century

Because their thinking is foreign, I find it fascinating to watch Clementine make all these connections that don't always seem obvious at first. Dan, too. I love to listen to him explain something new. I love to observe the way these two think about the world.

the Ancient Egyptian symbol for 100,000, 
a frog or tadpole

Clementine learned to skip count by 2s recently, and the next day, she taught herself to count by 3s and 4s. 5s were easy, because they repeat a pattern of 5 & 0, but she quickly taught herself 6s and 7s, too. Clementine asked about 9s, and we taught her the rule (the "ones" number goes down by one and the "tens" number goes up up by one as you count up). The next day, she knew her 8's, figuring how to take away 2 instead of the "take away 1" from the 9 rule. On Monday, she asked about 11s, and was counting them within minutes.

Clementine asks several times a day about what will happen if you add two specific numbers. Or if you subtract them. Or what would happen if you added them to negative numbers (which she calls "minus numbers", and has understood since she was tiny). Or what would happen if one number was a minus number, and one number was a positive number.And so on. She thinks about numbers and sees patterns all day every day.

And Clemetine constantly asks about infinity. She's fascinated by the concept, and is always asking different questions about it, trying to find a way to push the idea of an endless number into a space she can handle. We've explained that it isn't a real number, but a concept, an idea about numbers. She loves that part. She wants to be reassured that you can
"always add one more".

 train tracks by DarrenHester,

Clementine seems to worry about infinity a bit sometimes. One day, I showed her the symbol for the concept. I"See, it goes around and around. It never stops." She "got" it and loved it.

This is infinity:

In math and physics, the figure-8 infinity symbol on its side is called a lemniscate. Like a Mobius Strip, it never ends.

I showed her this, from my own childhood:

There are other, similar lemniscates in math: the lemniscate of Bernoulli,^ the lemniscate of Gerono^, and who can forget the lemniscate of Booth^?


Recently, we went out and grabbed a bite after a busy day. We were given a number, an 8 on a red acrylic disk so that our food could be brought to our table.

 Einstein at the blackboard

Clementine, put the number in the holder, declaring that, "Our number isn't 8, it's infinity!"

Not an 8!

Watching her thoughts unfold is like trying to talk to someone with whom you don't share a common language. You know that they probably make sense somewhere, but not necessarily to you.

I love her so much, for so many things, including letting me see what is important and what makes sense in her world.



Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tangentially Speaking (or) How to Waste 20 Minutes In No Time Flat

I read a brief article earlier about a local man who is facing several years in prison and up to $100,00.00 in fines for picking up a Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep skull, possibly cougar killed, and trying to sell it without getting it "plugged". It doesn't sound like the man poached the ram. It sounds like he may not have been aware of the rules. I feel sort of bad for him. If he doesn't hunt, he may not know all the rules surrounding a specific species. I hope he's allowed to simply learn from what sounds like an honest mistake.

Bachelor Herd

Now, I had no idea what a "plugged" skull was; so of course, I spent the next 20 minutes trying to figure it out. We have some Pronghorn skulls with horns, and I want to be on the right side of the law.

Plus, I like to know what I know I don't know. And I really like minutiae - details are everything. 


/insert 20 minutes of Googling here/

A plugged skull means that the Division of Wildlife has tagged it in a way that allows the skull to be recorded with the who/what/when/where/how details. It helps assure it wasn't poached, and tells the DoW a bit about the distribution of the animal, how it died, how it lived, etc. Usually, the plug is an aluminum thingy (it's a technical term, I swear) placed in a hole drilled into one of the horns. 

Yay, knowledge!

Bachelor Herd laying in a meadow. 
They walked right past us, as if they hadn't a care in the world.

The law doesn't seem to apply to Pronghorn, not that we would sell our mounts anyway. They were earned the hard way: getting up early, standing in the cold, trying to get close enough (which is still several hundred yards away) to take a shot. Track, clean, deliver to the butcher, pick up, tada! You're in flavor country Pronghorn country.

So, good to know, but it took at least 20 minutes to figure all this out. 

Whoever said the Internet saves time/effort clearly doesn't know me at all.

There are a couple of pictures of Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep (and Dan) a few miles from our house in a local park in this post. Taken a few summers ago, there were dozens of rams, and they calmly walked right past us on all sides, then nestled down in the meadow uphill a bit to snooze. I think this is what is called a bachelor herd, because they are all male (see the horns?). Until a male manages to start his own a harem of females (really, it's called a harem), they live alone or in bachelor herds. We didn't make any sudden moves, and they reciprocated by not goring us or stampeding. 

Bachelor Rams and Dan

Good times.



Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The First Snow of Autumn

We woke up Saturday to cold weather and snow. Clementine was almost impossible to get moving. She complained about the cold and didn't want to get out from under the covers on our bed after I finished putting her hair up.

After ballet, we ran a few errands. Even after the snow stopped down here, we could see a storm up on Pikes Peak. Here are a few photos from around town...

From the parking lot on the way to the tire store. Dan needed new tires and I'd promised myself that we'd carve out time to get them by the end of the week. There is a snow storm on top of the mountain, and the snow is blowing from the top toward the north.

Snow storm with blowing storm at the top of Pikes Peak. It was dry, sunny and cold down here as we watched the storm. After 11 years here, I still find all of this simply fascinating and love to watch it unfold. 

What looks like the top of the mountain in the previous picture is really the top of the storm, as seen here. 

Later in the day, the sun is beginning to set. Taken at the end of Academy Blvd, in the parking lot of the grocery store. I think that we probably have the best view in the world from this grocery store.

Pikes Peak as the sun sets, with Academy Blvd. in view.

America The Beautiful was written after Katherine Bates in 1893. Bates was an English professor at Wellesley College, and was inspired after a trip to the top of Pikes Peak. She was spending the summer locally, teaching at Colorado College. You can certainly see where the line about purple mountain majesties came from, can't you?

I've lived all over the United States, and the sunsets out west, and particularly over the Rockies, stand out for their beauty and breathtaking color.

The last few moments of daylight... time for us to go home, have dinner, and happily snuggle together against the cold autumn night.