Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Evenin' Hymn Sing: My Jesus, I Love Thee

  1. My Jesus, I Love Thee

  2. My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
    For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
    My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
  3. I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
    And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
    I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
  4. I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
    And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
    And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
  5. In mansions of glory and endless delight,
    I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
    I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
    If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

~William Featherston, 1864

Friday, February 26, 2016

Hip to Be Square: A Confessional

I now own a SmartPhone.  Technically, it's an Android.  Like Data on Star Trek.  Phew, it makes me feel better to confess that to you all.  After waxing somewhat eloquently about my affection for my $.12 non-furbishable flip phone that was falling apart--comes with detachable screen, don't ya know--reality struck.  Hard.  Here's how.

Obviously, my Favorite Philosopher and I were in need of new telecommunications apparati.  And, we had it in mind to simply "upgrade" to a new flip phone.  Easy-peasy, right?  Not so much.  After visiting our local Verizon store, we learned that it would cost more--yes, cost infinitely more--to purchase low-tech, "I just want to call people" phones than to be ushered into the 21st century (or 2015, as it was right around the corner) with a SmartPhone.  For the record, I wanted mine to be cute, too.  You know, the whole technological package.  It has also has a nice personality, likes to go on moonlit beach strolls, and "isn't much into health food" (Points to those who can sing the next stanza to that 80s one-hit wonder without Googling). So, we succumbed. 

Yet another confession:  I am rather pleased with the whole texting thing.  It does make life easier when communicating with my Favorite Philosopher (MFP) about ETAs, Kroger runs, or what kind of post-game wings are desired.  And, as a flaming Extrovert, the world of emojis is ever so delightful.  I have backed off a bit--but sometimes Image result for blowing kiss emojior this Image result for crazy wink emoji speaks volumes--you know what I mean?  Of course, I am still rather focused...umm, okay, fixated on proper grammar and spelling out words like You and Your.  Thus, I will never be a speed texter or have thumb callouses.  Thankfully, I have friends who share my same affection for the English language as we know it; so, they wait patiently while I capitalize and punctuate.  But, I have liberated myself from using colons when talking about meeting times--330, 715, and the like.  Me and James Dean, we're rebels, we are.

And those nifty apps like GoodReads are simply delightful in the library or bookstore.  On a recent Bluff City night out with MFP, we landed in Burke's Books, a favorite haunt of ours.  Rather than wracking my Mom-brain for that "mental list" of books I wanted to read, I simply tapped my little GR friend, and there was my appropriately-titled shelf.  I strolled out of Burke's with four books from my "Want to Read" list and supported a local business.  As I am prone to giddily exclaim, WHEE!

Much like I eerily predicted in that Square post, I have had to discipline myself with regards to how much I "check" my phone--affectionately known as Carmen.  Why, Carmen, you ask?  It's a nod to two facts:  Firstly, in my flip-phone life, I was infamous for not being able to find my phone, likely because when I used it, I would set it down wherever I finished a conversation and would move on from there.  Secondly, I vaguely recall a show called "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?"; so, it just seemed fitting.  The boys find it mildly amusing.  

So, you might say that I have one big toe firmly planted in the twenty-first century.  The other facts remain the sameHopefully, Huey will forgive me this lapse and still allow me to freestyle boogie to his aptly-titled beat.  

On Spotify.  Did you expect me to dig out my CD?  Really.  

Saturday, February 20, 2016


"Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” 

Few books have captured the imagination or landed on as many "all-time favorite" lists as Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird.  As she quietly passed away in her sleep on Friday at the ripe old age of eighty-nine, it would not surprise me if somewhere, in some high school English classroom, her classic was being read, analyzed, and discussed.  Mockingbird held a permanent place on most required reading lists.  And, I suspect that the 1962 film version of the same name, starring Gregory Peck as the nobly erudite Atticus Finch, helped along some reluctant readers on papers, tests, and quizzes regarding Harper Lee's best seller.  Much like Colin Firth will always be Mr. Darcy, Gregory Peck will always be Atticus.  Period.  

I'm quite sure that I first read Mockingbird in Mr. Briggs' 10th grade English class--also the place where Jay Gatsby caught my attention.  I recall enjoying it.  But, as youth is often wasted on the young, I didn't come to appreciate the wordsmithing, the complexity of character and story, and the deep South dynamics until later in life.  Then, I binged.  This binge played out like the literary version of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.  

“Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I'd have the facts.” 

It started with a re-read of To Kill A Mockingbird.  Then, I had to know more about this reclusive author, Ms. Nelle Harper Lee; thus, I located her aptly-titled biography, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, in our local library.  As I read her biography, I learned that she started her book career as Truman Capote's research assistant on his true crime novel, In Cold Blood.  "Research assistant" is an understatement as many would later argue that her affable nature and painstakingly detailed notes were the reason that In Cold Blood ever made to publication in the first place.  Naturally, Capote didn't see it that way, and after giving her a terse acknowledgement for her help in the book's prologue, their friendship began to deteriorate.  After the grand success of To Kill A Mockingbird, it was dead and buried.  His loss.  Naturally, I read In Cold Blood--in broad daylight.  When everybody was home. Terrifying.  Like a good binging bibliophile, I picked up a Capote bio and read a few of his short stories--the best known, Breakfast at Tiffany's, became a screen classic.  Hollywood lightened it up.  And we fell in love with Audrey Hepburn.  But, that's another post entirely.

Ultimately, I came back round to where I started--with Scout, Jem, Boo, and Atticus.  And this was where I stayed.  On the front porch, sipping sweet tea, trying to figure out why Aunt Louise was always trying to get Scout to wear a dress.  Or why a "grown man" would take out his drunken frustrations on two innocent kids, to avenge his daughter's alleged assault and their father's defense of the truth.  Or how some simple acts of childish kindness, mixed in with some "I dare ya to touch the Radley's porch" schemes, moved a simple man to protect those kids--and fight for their lives.  All packed into a so-called children's book.  

“Atticus said to Jem one day, "I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird." That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. "Your father’s right," she said. "Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” 

Thank you, Ms. Nelle Harper Lee, your "little book" made a big difference.  

Disclaimer:  Yes, I have read Go Set A Watchman and realize the portrayal of Atticus in his later years is somewhat shocking, to say the least.  But a wise friend instructed me to read Watchman as a completely separate book from Mockingbird.  Not as a sequel, prequel, or any other type of "-quel".  Thus, my reading and admiration for Atticus as I first knew him remains intact.  Thank you, Amy.  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Stuff That Still Amazes Me

Perhaps I am simply getting old-er.  Or, maybe Ann Voskamp’s prompting to make note of all things for which we are thankful--big, small, or somewhere in-between--has birthed the following reflections.  Regardless, here is just a random sampling of things that amaze me.  Or, I’m just glad that they function they way they do.

 Air Travel--For those for whom air travel goes with their professional territory, those two words might inspire a groan, internal eye roll, and a nervous twitch associated with their last four-hour delay “experience” in the city of Delta’s hub.  However, I find it fascinating that a large group of people, all shapes and sizes, can enter into a tube of tin and find themselves traveling at triple-digit mph where they will be delivered to their intended destination in a shorter amount of time than traveling by car.  No matter how you slice it, it’s pretty darn astounding.  And, occasionally, your luggage even arrives with you.  A Festivus miracle.

 Libraries--I know, I know, I’m a bibliophile; so, such bastions of intellectual stimulation make me giddy.  But, think about this concept.  You walk into a building, packed with books.  With a picture i.d., you obtain a library card.  At no cost to you.  At that point, you can wander through the stacks, select your titles (usually twenty-five books are the maximum), and hand your card to the librarian.  With a scan and a swipe, your brain power has the potential to increase exponentially.  And, they trust you to return those materials on a pre-determined day.  And, they will print out a receipt and send you an e-mail to remind you of what is due--and when.

    Should you find yourself tardy with your returns, they charge you a very small fee.  In comparison to the cost of the materials that you thrust into your earth-friendly totebag, it is miniscule.  You can even borrow DVDs, Audio Books, and the like.  Magical, eh?

 Postage Stamps--This might fall into a similar category as libraries.  But, ponder this with me, for just a moment.  You write a note, send a card, or what have you. You place the item in an envelope, address it, and affix a $.49 stamp on it--and it gets to the desired location.  For less than the cost of a shareable bag of M&Ms, your correspondence flies about the country--or possibly across an ocean--and, generally speaking, lands in the right mail slot.  Nifty stuff.

The list has just begun.  Sometimes, it's the little stuff like finding all the matching socks in the laundry, or discovering that He Who Is Now Taller Than I has set the trash receptacle at the curb, without being asked.  Or realizing that you have all the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies in your pantry--without having to make a Kroger trip.  

Whatever makes you grin, chuckle, or otherwise glad.

Chocolate chip cookies, here we come! Oh, snap, the emergency bag of chips has been depleted.  Excuse me while I make a run to the grocery.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

You Give Love a Bad Name

“I love that sweater!”  I looove that song.  I so love this Truffle in Paradise ice cream.  I am so in love with that fabulous show, Mad Men.  I love my kids.  I love my man.  Have you ever noticed how very limited the English language is in its’ expressions of affection and admiration?  How is that we can love a new restaurant--and also love our darling significant other? Arguably, we do not feel the same affection for our nifty Stella & Dot earrings (adorable though they are) as we do for our offspring.  But, yet, we declare “love” so very easily.

As a self-admitted logophile, I am a sucker for beautiful language, evocative adjectives, and finely-crafted word-smithing.  Words like serendipity, carousel, and enigmatic are among my list of favorites.  However, I do envy other dialects that find ways to express affection, satisfaction, and preference, very specifically and intentionally.

For example, the Swedish word, mangata.  It means “the road-like reflection of the moon on the water”.  Looking for a word that describes “much more than coziness, a positive warm emotion or feeling rather than just something physical, and connotes time spent with loved ones, a togetherness”? The Dutch have a word for it--gezellig.  For other marvelous monikers, I highly recommend Lost in Translation:  An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World.  The title alone is worth the cost of the book. 

The French have “aimer” which means “to like”.  However, when you say, “J’aime bien”, you are saying you like something--or someone--very much.  Interestingly, if I should say, “Je t’aime”, I am saying “I love you”.  I would inquire as to how various conjugations and forms of "aimer" cover such a gamut of emotions; but, if you know anything about French culture and tradition, you simply don’t ask such questions stupides!

I do think the Greeks were on to something.  They have four different words--agape, storge, eros, and philia--to describe various types of loves.  Agape is an unconditional love, the love that God has for man--and vice-versa.  Storge is a love and affection that is found between parents and children, a familial kind of love.  Eros is an intensely passionate desire for someone.  Ideally, that someone is the person with whom you have exchanged vows (or with whom you plan to do so in the very near future!).  Philia is an affectionate regard between two persons, in a friendship context.  As a side note, C.S. Lewis wrote a mind-blowing (at least, for me) book on this quartet of concepts--The Four Loves.  There is much in there on which to chew.  And, I am still chewing. 

There are two roads which have diverged in this wood of words.  (Robert Frost is rolling over in his grave).  Firstly, I want to challenge myself to find other words to describe my affection for inanimate objects--things like my new fleece hoodie and the nifty ’69 Corvette Stingray I saw at Discovery Park.  Such an effort may “noodle my noggin”, as it were; but, a good thesaurus and a great imagination can help ease the pain.

Secondly, I will discover other ways to tell my “Ninja” and “He-who-is-now-taller-than-I” just how special/unique/incredible I think they are.  And, to tell my favorite Philosopher how much “I ardently admire and love” him.

Oh, wait, that’s Darcy talking.  Perhaps, I’ll just go alphabetically.  I appreciate you.  I am besotted by you.  I cherish you. Dude.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Frost Warning

A Time To Talk

When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016