Saturday, June 25, 2005

Just because I can

I think Blogger has made it easier to post pictures, so I'm testing by posting my favorite painting of Jesus by Caravaggio.

I dont know of any image more compassionate, more wise, more human and more profound than this one of him with Thomas.

Moved shoes, unexpected potatoes, and other signs of love

I blog partly because I want to be as cool and smart and spiritual and funny as some of the other (mostly) women that I know a little through their words. But mostly I do it because it makes me feel a part of something bigger than me - it feels like community to know that we're all out there in the blogosphere, trying to figure it all out. There's a little early summer lull happening on the blogs I check most often - Rachelle hasnt been posting all that much (I bet the kids are out of school), Jen is on-and-off because of technical difficulties and Jenell is on maternity leave.

On Thursday night, we tried to go to Monkfish. I called Rachelle just like an hour or so before to see if we could come over, and if I could try out our longest portable ramp, so Jeff could get up the few steps. I like Monkfish so much, but it's hard to get going somewhere on a Thursday evening, and we've never gotten it together to figure out if one of our portable ramps from home will work there and I really dont want to have more things in my life that dont include Jeff and Eli, so I havent been for awhile. Anyway, when we arrived, all the shoes were outside, which warmed my heart completely. See, like most walking people, Rachelle and her family have a big pile of shoes right inside the door. And, in anticipation of and JUST IN CASE Jeff's ramp would work (Which it didn't - it was much much much much too steep and perilous. Now, we have to talk to Rachelle's neighbor about building one, which I guess is what we should have done in the beginning when he offered. But that would have been the easy way, which is hardly ever my path - have you noticed?) all the shoes had been moved out on the porch to make room for Jeff's entrance in a wheelchair.

So much is just not set up for us, you know, but Rachelle, man, THOUGHT about the shoes! When she probably had a few other things to think about just then. It makes me realize how much we have to advocate for, because of the relief of not having to negotiate that one. So even though the ramp didnt work out, it was as good as getting inside to see all those shoes grinning at us from the front porch.

And speaking of front porches, I found a bag of newly dug potatoes and a head of garlic on our front porch this afternoon. I deduced it must be from Julie and Laurie down the street (sometime their albino great dane - yes you read that right - will get a post and hopefully a photo all her own) because I've seen them walking around with bags of produce before. So I knocked on the door - "Are you the potato fairy?" - And it WAS them. And I had to ask them their names for the millionth time, and they very nicely told me and then they asked about our bamboo, so we invited them over to see it. (We're not just imagining it - our bamboo is the talk of the neighborhood.) And they came over and admired our bamboo and Laurie gave me advice about the garden ("Um, no those arent weeds - they're delphiniums. But you can cut them down if you want.") They plant potatoes wherever they have a little space and Julie told us she'll drop off some more sometime.

So community keeps finding us. I miss the everyday on-line check-in I had going for a while, but maybe it's lightening up to make a space for this other stuff. I mean, I love hanging out in virtual space with other mommies who love Jesus in a humorous, feminist way. I feel like they totally get me, which is a good feeling. But when someone with whom I have a passing aquaintance drops produce on my doorstep, I feel gotten in a totally other way, and that's important too.

And I didnt even mention how today we also went to our other neighbors' house and her big boys wrestled with Eli on their big trampoline just roughly enough but with remarkable gentleness, too, until he was weak from laughing.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Cellular gratitude

Sue over at Inner Dorothy writes about her husband's MS (which is multiple sclorosis, which is not the same as muscular dystrophy, which is what Jeff has. But the effect on a family is not, I think, dissimilar.) Anyway, she writes:

There is a wierd ritual-loving part of me that wants to tell P's struggling cells that it's not their fault, that they've done well and worked hard ("Well done, good and faithful servants"). There's a part of me that wants to thank them for hanging in there over the years and allowing him the quality of life that he still has. I want to tell every cell in his body that they are, and always will be, loved regardless of their level of ability.

There is so much sweetness here, and so much generosity. It makes me feel ashamed of my sometimes-impatience with Jeff, with what is slow, with what doesn't work, with what needs fixing. It made me wonder what it would be like if every morning, I thanked God for Jeff's cells, for "hanging in there and allowing the quality of life he still has" instead of constantly what-if-ing.

So having read this post, and thinking all these grandiose thoughts, I went to pick up the book that was waiting for me at the library, that a pal of mine has been urging me to read, If we're so in love, why aren't we happy? by Susan Page (Ugh, a terrible example of what happens when too many marketing people name a book. And believe me, from working in publishing for a while, I can tell you that the name that everyone agrees on is hardly ever the best one.) Anyway, 20 pages into this book, I can tell you that it's about the very thing that Sue was writing about - gratitude at a cellular level.

Page's thing is that we talk about fixing marriages the way we talk about business transactions - it's all about communicating, negotiating and fairness. When in reality, she says, the purpose of marriage is to learn to love and to be loved, and when you act out of love, instead of trying to figure each other out (and change each other!) all the time, your marriage will actually just get better, deeper, realer. She talks about being married itself as a spiritual practice and she offers some tips on how to do this.

In the meantime, I'm practicing cellular gratitude. Starting right now. Yes, now.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

the grass

God bless the grass that grows through the crack.
They roll the concrete over it to try and keep it back.
The concrete gets tired of what it has to do,
It breaks and it buckles and the grass grows through.
And God bless the grass.

Next year we're going to put a surveillance camera on the roof pointing at the bamboo patch in the backyard. Jeff and I lie in bed at night and imagine we can hear it growing. We know it's a grass, and that you have to put a barrier around it that goes 30 inches down in order to keep it from poking holes in our deck or the neighbor's pool and we know the patch in our back yard sent out shoots that have grown up to 15 feet in less than a month, but beyond that, we dont know much about it. It spreads, even with the barrier. The speed and tenacity with which it grows is certainly one of those agricultural phenomena that a childhood in northern Minnesota could not prepare us for.
God bless the truth that fights toward the sun,
They roll the lies over it and think that it is done.
It moves through the ground and reaches for the air,
And after a while it is growing everywhere,
And God bless the grass

I talked to Mom on the phone really briefly yesterday and I asked her more about Matt Lourey's burial and how Becky is holding up. She says Becky is getting lots of supportive notes and emails, and some critical ones too, saying she should be speaking out more strongly against the war. Becky doesn't crumble, though. She says that Matt had a job to do, and that job was to follow his commanding officer. The real question we should be asking, she says, is what the commanders are doing.

Jeff Brownell took the photo. Melvina Reynolds wrote the song.

You can dance if you want to

If you liked the Hamster dance, you'll LOVE...

Now, get back to writing your sermon, lazybones.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

End the war, end in the war, end the war.

Let it be our constant prayer. Our constant shout and wail.

In honor of Matt, and the more than two thousand six hundred other service men and women (well - boys and girls, really. Honestly, just look at their ages) who have died.

I've been reading about this kid, Zach, who came out to his parents last week, so they sent him to gay re-education camp - after which his blog stops except for 400 comments in his support (as of this moment, and more coming in all the time). And of course, I'm sick to my stomach like any decent and compassionate person would be, and of course I cant imagine it either - having parents act that hateful in the name of something not hateful.

But I cant figure out why we're not riled up about this war, this horrible, useless war, in the same way.

Why aren't we?

I'm not trying to get on your case, whoever you are (I have a limited understanding of who the exact, uh, demographic is for this blog - if there is even a large enough group reading it to be called an actual demographic) anyway - I'm not on your case. Notice I havent quit my cush job to work for peace either.

What will it take?

Monday, June 06, 2005

Three Men and a Baby

Boy, do we love Kipper around here these days. So much less hyper than other kids' shows and the sophisticated yet homey British accents are so endearing and the MUSIC is so great.

I found this review at Amazon that was like, "Love Kipper. But what's with the eyebrow? He only has one, and it's always changing sides." And me and Jeff have spent countless hours when we could be solving the problem of zero or figuring out how to get our troops our of Iraq trying to suss out the relationships between the characters.

'Cause see, there are like 3 sort of grown-up animals, 2 dogs and a pig. And then a baby pig. But it turns out, all the grown-up animals are BOYS. So my theory (that Pig and Kipper were boyfriend and girlfriend, and Pig was a struggling single mother who cant be blamed for always losing wee Arnold because she has so much to worry about what with the rent coming due, and Arnold's absentee father no where in sight) got shot all to hell when we found that out.

Remember when I was pregnant and I kept scoffing at those flowerly maternity tops and saying "HELLLO. I'm HAVING a child, not TURNING into one." Coulda been wrong about that. Stay tuned.