Friday, December 24, 2010


today's Latin lesson is sponsored by a song we're singing for Christmas Eve service. because i wanted to know the meaning behind the words, i looked up "Gaudete". it is a sacred Christmas carol, composed in the 16th Century. the text is a typical medieval song of praise, usually about Mary, the saints, or other Christmastide themes.

Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete!
Tempus adest gratiae
Hoc quod optabamus,
Carmina laetitiae
devote reddamus.

Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born
Of the Virgin Mary--rejoice!
The time of grace has come--
This that we have desired,
Verses of joy
Let us devoutly return.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

make art, not boredom

i did my part. well, at least i tried to improve family life in the greater portland area for 2011. i gave every art class a charge. because, as we all know, kids can't wait to get to christmas vacation. until, that is, tragedy strikes. about 6 days, if parents are so lucky, into break three little words follow kids around like wet socks, "mom, i'm bored." their friends are out of town, nothing left to do but video games. oh no, my friends, this will never do. if, i told all 320 of them, you find yourself tempted to utter such unspeakable horror, please stop yourself. (you know your parents will only give you more chores afterall.) no, instead go outside, read a book. don't just sit there, MAKE SOMETHING! and again on their way out the door just to make sure, "make more art, happy holidays, make more art...did i mention to make more art, see you next year, don't get you-know-what!?" i refuse to get bored, there's just too much life to be had. cook, dance, paint, write, read, ski, make a movie, design a tshirt, take skating your part, don't make someone else responsible for your happiness and entertainment. no boredom allowed, ever! what are some ways that you eradicate boredom in your home?

Monday, December 13, 2010

looking up

i've been thinking about the magi a lot lately. they were sky-watchers. and not just for a day. likely for years. trained, ridiculously patient astronomers who knew when something changed in the cosmos.

tonight there is supposed to be a grand meteor shower, best viewing times between midnight and sunrise. and next monday-tuesday is a lunar eclipse.

i'm not trained nor near as patient, but i'm going to try to go to bed early, set my alarm and see what i can! add coffee to the list of wise men's gifts.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

what happiness feels like

adventures in tree stealing's time to celebrate! question for you, "when was the last time you were truly happy?" (because nothing can stop God while He's creating.) what did it look, feel, taste, smell or sound like?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

how very grand

i knew i wanted to get a tree this year, but i didn't expect to get it today. my saturday walking buddy and i were out for our usual trek enjoying the particularly clear morning. we had just been talking about how nothing in our lives is wasted and how transformation and renewal come from hard times when i noticed IT. a perfectly good tree on a burn pile. "stand guard for dogs and people with guns and stuff" i shouted back to her as i impulsively trespassed, heading straight for the tree. upon inspection, it was a freshly cut grand fir tree with some minor irreguarities, making it unsellable.

"all clear?" i hollered, dragging it several yards to the road, thankful that it was so early and that we were the only ones out and about. "yep," she laughed, "i'll help you carry it back to your house". so there we were, two women carrying a rather large tree awkwardly down the side of the road. as people passed us in their cars, they did double-takes at this strange sight. "we just stole a christmas tree, you know." "no we didn't," she replied, "we rescued it. a gift for the noticing."

i like the way she thinks. maybe i'll go back to the tree farm (which shall remain anonymous) with cookies or something.


my creative writing student taught me a new word! we had finished our tutoring session and she was working on some grammar. "miss smith, what's 'nadir' mean?" i didn't know, so we looked it up...

nadir: 1. a point on the celestial sphere directly below the observer, diametrically opposite the zenith 2. the lowest point

(from old french, from arabic nazir as-samt)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

you've been cloved!

my friend showed me how to clove an orange. i'd never done that before. his was already done and starting to dry. you probably already know this, but come to find out, the cloves have this mummifying effect on the citrus and then you can decorate and hang it for the holidays. i started out sitting on the couch until the holes started spurting and i realized i had to get serious. moving to the floor and getting closer to my task, i resumed poking. the spices jabbed my thumb (you might need a thimble) sometimes refusing to go in as i tried, somewhat in vain, to make a pretty pattern. i settled for mere even placement for my first try. "my orange has been cloved!" i announced to everyone amid the running juice and mess of my fingers; their home warm as people cooked, came and went, warmed themselves by the fire. life is messy and stabs at us sometimes; but the few people who truly, truly know and love us have this powerful preserving effect on our broken places; the fragrance of belonging.


i'm a giver. gifts are a huge part of my love language and it's so much fun to get things ready for others. and i love to cook for people or go out for shared meals. this year, my church put me on the list to receive a thanksgiving box. when i was employed there, part of my job was to get the kids involved with bringing food donations. but me, now on the receiving end? the word "charity" came to mind in a most uncomfortable way. i wasn't homeless or out of work. in fact, i had just been made full time at work and was doing fine. i couldn't possibly receive it, could i?

when i picked it up, there was so much food i had to make three trips from the church kitchen to my car. everything from pie crusts and olives to rolls and a 16-pound turkey! cupboards, pantry and freezer full, i stepped back and thought about it again. disarming as it was, we give AND receive in community. the food was a tangible thing and the feeling of being cared for slowly snuck up on me. i wasn't used to it, but it felt good. together with others we are healed, we are loved, we are fed if we allow ourselves to be.

thank you.