Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas in pictures

Favorite cousin! Austibear is taller than I am . . . when did that happen? I used to give him piggy back rides along that very sidewalk. Not anymore. Sweet little cousin, now a future English major! Yes, I've influenced another to take the life of thankless poverty and bumming parties for free food.

Sweet aunt and uncle. Aunt Laura's stories make me laugh so hard. And she is a kindred spirit of the book world!

FAVORITE COUSIN! "PaPa, you must've gone to the bank for this." Brannon was in fine form, and didn't trash talk too badly about the BCS game. Yes, we have Auburnites in the family.

Favorite cousin! Tyler, mid-evil laugh. I forget what infamous plan he was sharing, but know this: it wasn't good. However, he's also one of only two of the cousins who have read Harry Potter. Which gives him major points.

Jim's present to Dad. Nice wrapping job, Jim.

The snow on the fields look like a huge frosted mini wheat. (I know, can you believe that beautiful simile?) And the sun shone on the mountain across the way . . .

. . . and the horses rode in the snow . . .

. . . and Mom tried out her childhood sled but it didn't really do anything except sit and look pretty . . .

. . . and the Loop was perfect in the snow.

"We know that we abide with quarks and constellations . . . the matrix of our supposedly quotidian existence."
-Marilynne Robinson, Absence of Mind

Exactly. Just look around and you'll find that everything is interesting.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Being with

(We have a white Christmas, and it is gorgeous and fat fluffy flakes, and my aunt saw a cardinal in a bush and it was lovely.)

All this was a long time ago, I remember
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

-T.S. Eliot, Journey of the Magi, lines 32-43

Lord Jesus, in our doubt and pride and wounds, in our laugh and wonder and joys, in the earthy grit of our inescapable humanness,

give us Thy death that we may live

O Christ

give us Thyself.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

epithalamion to epithelium

Last week? Lovely. Anna came into town on Wednesday, and we spent Thursday seeing friends, in particular the wonderful Joanna. Getting trapped by the rain in a consignment store, wandering around the streets and stores I love so much, trading stories and worries and joy, frozen yogurt for supper, and Preston-bygolly-Lovinggood at a random house concert! (Wild Sweet Orange captured my heart almost 3 years ago. Go listen to Ten Dead Dogs. Right. Now. Oh and there was also the sweetest sweetest St. Bernard/lab mix thing dog at the house concert, and it was PRECIOUS. The end.)

Being with friends who know you is like relief breathed warm and sweet.

I went to Texas, and got to hug Val. And I walked into Michael's arms and hugged him tight, and he gave me The Long Surrender and I screamed with glee. And we stuck it in the CD player and listened to good music during the golden afternoon drive through flat rippling fields and blue sky. And on Sunday night, he took me to a concert, Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God tour, which was way more awesome and beautiful and marvelous than I could have expected.

And then he threw up. And after biding my time for two days, last night I threw up, and it was gross and I was calm because by that time I pretty much was expecting it. So today has been Sprite, toast, tea, and four hour naps. What a thoughtful gift.

During my conscious times, I have been reading what is frankly one of the best ever ideas for a book. Okay see, I really only had two years of science in high school, Chemistry (anathema) and Physics (love). The first two years, I was supposed to be doing Biology and Anatomy. I did Biology, yes, but maybe Mom trusted me a little too much on the Anatomy part. Anyway, I reached and graduated college without having more than a rudimentary idea of how my body works, much less where everything is. Then, back during the wrist saga (which is not over, my friends, oh no) I was waiting in the doctor's office and bored and I picked up a tattered kid's book about the body that was sitting on the counter. Oh. My. Goodness. Do you how insanely cool and fascinating the body is? Did you know that our bodies make new cells to mend our broken bones? Do you know how complicated we are and how things just work, that we are these marvelous machines? Did you know that your liver is not where your appendix is but actually by your ribs? I told you I was clueless. So I was flipping through this book going, "So that's how that works!" and decided I needed to know more about my body. Enter the Human Body section of the Hoover Children's library department, in particular Dr. Frankenstein's Human Body Book. BEST THING EVER. Seriously, folks. The human body? Amazing.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

darlin, darlin

Tonight is mine. Everyone's going out but me and I'm . . . excited. (Note: This is one of those things you're not supposed to post online-"Hey criminals! I'm home alone!"-so if any psychotic killers are reading, know this: I don't shoot to injure.)

Well, that got morbid in a hurry. Back to more cheerful things, like . . . seafoam nail polish!

I've been craving this color polish ever since I saw a similar hue on Rummey Bears. Today, I found it at Sephora. I sang (internally) with glee. I tried it on. Then I looked at the price: $18. For a tablespoon of polish? No no. And then the very same color was just sitting in the bargain bin at Forever 21, waiting for me. It cost $2.50. Result: Seafoam turquoise happiness, sans guilt. It makes me happy like a five year old child to look down and see shiny color glinting on my toenails. Winter needs some color.

And now. To turn off the computer and t.v. and sit in the great room where the tree is all lit up and there's a fire in the fireplace. I want to read and write and think and pray. And then I want to read Flavia and the Christmas Legacy because it's the best thing ever.

I've got clementines and popcorn and real dark chocolate. And Snow Angels, one of the addictive Christmas albums by--you guessed it!--Over the Rhine.

Darlin Christmas is coming
do you believe in angels singing

Monday, December 13, 2010

Falling like forgiveness

Yesterday afternoon involved snow and ice and driving and terror. Lots of terror. If I ever do achieve the Minnesota dream, I'll be . . . walking.

But. Last night, I curled in bed and listened to the wind keen snow flurries around the roof. I woke up and had books and coffee time, and then I bundled up in a ski jacket and walked in the sunshine and snow that spun like glitter in the light.

Jim and I ate lunch with Dad, and then our widower horse-training neighbor came and set with us for a while. We talked about horses and religion and dogs and significant others. And the weather. Of course.

And my family ate supper together, on the gold tablecloth while the dark gathered outside.

Simply thankful.

Beautiful winter poem. Take me to the Czech Republic, now please.

Reading Marilynne Robinson's take on the Freudian self (among other things). She makes me look up words. It's great. Thank you Michael.

The very worst missionary? My favorite site. Ever.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sweet, sweet Dog

I don't know how to write this post.

Last Friday, the Sweet Dog got sick. My dad took him to the vet. Saturday morning, the vet called. Mo was poisoned. He didn't make it.

A dog's death is a strange grief. Internally, it hurts like hell. But I feel sort of ashamed of the tears, too. I mean, what about orphans, and babies with cancer, or a raw and ugly divorce, or the multitudinous sea of human pain? How can the loss of a sweet stupid dog even register on the grief scale? And I wonder if I even have a right to weep.

One day back in October or so, I was driving and talking to God. I was telling Him my frustrations and fears and questions. At one point, I passed a dog's dead body lying on the side of the highway. I got mad. You see that puppy, God? I said. That's wrong. That's so wrong. How can I trust you when there's so much wrong in the world and it hurts me so much?
I won't say I heard God speak, because that kind of language always irritates me some (note: if God speaks to you, that's fine, as long as you don't think you're supposed to kill people or stop washing your hair). But I did realize something in a way that seemed to come from outside. Oh, I said. This is all yours . . . how must more it must hurt you.

Nature's groaning, right? And even broken, the world is beautiful. I want the wonder and joy that Mo brought to my life to lead me to a deeper delight in life - animals, trees, rivers, the way the winter sky turns deep burning red at sundown. Because life is everywhere, and thank God for Mo who opened my eyes to that.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Last day of classes. Last day of first semester of grad school. Last time in the library in 2010. Last bite of a Clif Bar. Last time I will use the word "last" in this post.

This morning, I brought doughnuts to my baby freshmen, and when one girl tried to study her Psych book instead of doing the exercise I assigned, I snatched the book from her and read them tips on prejudice issues ("You should just be glad I don't write 'This wants to make me put my head on the table and cry' on your papers!" I told them). Then I laughed maniacally and wandered around the room. They wrote. I calculated their grades. I went on a rant about energy drinks. They laughed. I went on a rant about how they should never never get drunk because you lose control of yourself and just try sitting in a Dave Matthews' concert full of drunk people and how it's not so much wrong as it is SAD and HORRIBLE. They laughed again, more hesitantly this time. I slammed my fist on the table and said I was serious. Then I smiled and said that they should choose coffee as their addiction of choice instead.

Sigh. I will miss these children. I have an urge right now to write encouraging notes to each of them on their papers that I will return Friday. And then I think, "Hey, I can go read Marilynne Robinson!" or "Hey, I can spend an hour browsing the Sartorialist!" and I know that urge will probably not be completed.

In other news, I'm leaving on Friday. Fo' good (at least until I have to come back in January). Done done done except for two minor things, and full of happiness at the thought of home and Christmas and oh yes--home.

New poems coming up! Stay tuned. The Grimms' stories are back in my poems, and I've also got a peacock and playhouse in the mix.

Bare trees, blue sky, grass fields - winter is beautiful.