Thursday, December 29, 2011

adventures of tin tin

self-correction #1: this is NOT referring to rin tin tin (the dog). canine-correction #2: tin tin's dog hero is "snowy" and he's AWEsome (two words: AWE-some). french correction #3: pronouncing is akin to having a cold and comes out something like "tan-tan". great movie; i had not known about these comics before and the movie was fabulous in 3D. plus, i thought it set up really well for a sequel...

Sunday, December 25, 2011

we wish you a monastic christmas

after meaningful times with friends and family, i tried adding a new tradition: christmas day solo at the local monastery. even though i missed the christmas mass, the weather cleared for a beautiful climb on the familiar trails where i ended up meeting a group of men who, instead of magi, could easily have been called the three wise cracks. after some friendly banter together--spirituality that doesn't take itself too seriously, let God's laughter ring in the hills--i honed in on the guest-house coffee (also spiritual as i'm sure St. Arbucks would agree): rich and welcoming as the site itself. after a couple of hours to catch up with myself via journal, i headed to the newly constructed chapel. everything was dark except for christmas lights around the creche; silent except for the shuffling of one monk. one by one, the lights came up and candles were lit; the 20-foot tree illuminated while a new crescent moon rose outside the south windows. lauds. the holy packaged in human terms. and the stars? brightly shining. to look into your own retreat: i've been visiting for years, though this was my first christmas, and consider the brothers very gifted in hospitality. great bookstore too.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

just the beginning

this is the first image in my new calendar "salt of the earth". (virginia wieringa, "joy to the world" acrylic & collage) what i love is that it is organized by liturgy featuring fine art and the symbolic color for that season. for example, advent shows november 27-december from december 25-january 5...flip...epiphany january's a new way of seeing 2012. instead of just showing month to month, it helps me to remember what meanings are going on year-round and be mindful of the deeper rhythm. (ever had a sneaking suspicion there was more to something only to go years and years of your life and finally find out that it's true!?) the page that begins tomorrow only has 12 days (or even just 7 like holy week) while others span three months. "are you ready for christmas?" we ask as we push toward the 25th and then collapse, considering the holiday over. but really it's only just begun. i like giving celebrations time to spread themselves out. i've often felt like a proverbial fish trying to swim against the popular culture's stream; like something of a lavish eternal week-long feast was planted deep within me and i just can't be content with the fast-food version of the 60-second drive-up window. so this calendar is actually a very important tool of courage for me. the colors represented right now are gold and white, like Easter, reminding us that the birth of Jesus was also only the beginning of *"a dangerous and difficult pilgrimage through suffering and death to new life". (*see also the art of john august swanson's "flight into egypt", serigraph.) let's get that feast underway...

Friday, December 23, 2011

the works of our hands

all i want to do is make things. word girl + art=more, more, more! i tried blockprinting this week and really liked the shape that turned out. once you get one you like you can stamp everything around you that doesn't move...including people if they are slow enough. quilting with paper is also a blast. p.s. i did finish reading the world history of salt (but i must confess, absolved by book club president, that i only got through the second half by reading the first sentence of each paragraph before i had to take it back to the library) and the second of l'engle's series "a wind in the door". interesting if you like journeying to the heart of mitochondria. may the works of your hands be established as we celebrate the season.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

animal, vegetable, miracle

this is a good, informative read. and barbara kingsolver is funny! wouldn't we all love the time to be this's like having a love affair with asparagus. who knew? before i dub myself a dismal failure, however, for eating too many packaged foods during the teaching year or for not testing my soil (gasp) or for being a poor composter (double gasp)...i thought about changes that i could reasonably make. breathing a sigh of relief that i didn't have to do it all on my own, my action steps thus far involve looking up local creameries and places to get farm fresh eggs. here's a test for you: how many fruit and vegetable varieties can you name in seasonal order?

treasure, island

what do church and robert louis stevenson have to do with each other? alot recently. i'm still looking for a regular place to fellowship so i haven't been in quite a while. but i went to a church last weekend and the sermon was about treasures in heaven which really lined up with what i'd been thinking, talking and praying about lately. it's not that stuff is bad, the message seems to be not to be anxious about it. and, as the main character jim hawkins notices in the classic treasure island, "is it really worth all this fighting for a chest or five of gold?" (you decide.) we have troubles here (so did the pirates and sailors) and, humorously, as the pastor noted, it's not as if Jesus was saying that nothing bad happens to the flowers and birds (see matthew 6). trying to come up with memorable lesson plans, i thought back to 5th grade when our teacher took us on an archaeological "dig". thing was, we were the ones who buried all the stuff in the first place, so it wasn't really surprising to dig it back up again. i always wondered what the point of that was. but the people in ancient Israel would have known that if you had valuable things, you put them in a box and buried them. in this case, definitely hoping you remembered where you dug. honestly, the more i study this passage, the more questions i have. along with a sneaking suspicion it can be a practical guide on how to live worry-free even if we're not all *hippies (*disclaimer, see also entry entitled "1974"). peace out, mateys.

tumbling tumbleweeds

more and more, i want less and less. today i followed the "if it's not useful or beautiful" maxim and pared down yet again. i'm going for grand prize in the "she who dies with the least toys wins" game. more accurately, quality over quantity. i do love my snowshoes and french press (and plan to use them in tandem). a few really nice things...besides, aren't these tiny homes just the most quintessential things you've ever seen?


i like to read obituaries. not to be morbid, just to see what the person was known for; what legacy they left behind. one lady from last sunday's paper stands out in my mind. she started a group called The Reading Club that met for over 45 years so "women could get together to read to each other and sew." kudos, Rose. so here's an update from my Reading Club. if you've seen the new release "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" i'd be curious to know how it compares with the book; illustrations nothing short of stunning to me. and then, there's salt. "Salt: a world history" by mark kurlansky. it's intriguing, mostly historical and to be honest i'm looking forward to getting past the 1500 and 1600's because i think i've just read over 86 pages about preserved cod and herring. not that fish aren't important,they are. i just didn't know there were so many brine recipes. i perk up, however, when my favorite food is mentioned. charles de gaulle, in a 1961 speech explained the nature of French government with the following, "Nobody can easily bring together a nation that has 265 kinds of cheese." i would add 100 though, just so there could be a different one for every day of the year. come to think of it, maybe that will be my legacy: she loved brie.


8:13 a.m. homeroom. wednesday. "miss smith, where can i plug in my book?" "awesome. i'm old. ok everyone, have a seat. yes you can plug your book in right over here and let's have a little talk about how your teacher is old as dirt..." taking attendance could wait. it was one of those flippant "back in my day" talks. i was asked if there were hippies when i was born and what record players were like. "richard nixon was in big trouble," i said, "and tv's didn't have color yet. my computer in college was HUGE..." but my favorite questions (asked with complete sincerity)"what kind of horse did you drive?" and "was there electricity?" to which i mock cried and pretended to leave the room, shoulders sagging. not to worry, we brought it full-circle. "horse, eh? a mustang. i've always wanted a Ford Mustang (giggles ensue). and yes, there was power, i'm not that old and ok, it's time for chapel now and, you know, by the time we get back your book should be fully charged. let's go."

festive flotillas

"oh look, a flotilla of ducks!" "did you just make that word up?" "no, it's a real word" "wow, you're smart." this was the walk conversation last week wherein i learned from my friend that the word flotilla, derived from spanish, refers to a fleet of ships (or in this case, ducks). so if you're singing christmas carols, feel free to throw in, "i saw a flotilla go sailing by on christmas day in the morning." and, did you know that scion isn't just a make of car? it is actually 1. a young shoot or bud of a plant or 2. a descendant of a wealthy or aristocratic family. likewise in the carol department, maybe a twist of "the little Lord scion lay down His sweet head". this would make sense on a couple of levels. Jesus is called "the root of Jesse" in the scriptures and is, afterall, the most wealthy descendant i can think of. happy advent from word girl!