Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dante's Inferno and Bathing Suit Shopping

After spending forty-five <insert your favorite melodramatic adjective here> minutes in the dressing room, I'm utterly convinced that in a modern-day version of Dante's Inferno, one of the circles of hell would be shopping for a swimsuit.  Never-you-mind that I will own up to the fact that I no longer have the body of a 16-year old teeny-bopper.  Disregard the fact that it seems the less fabric there is, the more the suit costs.  (For the record, I just glance at those, laugh uproariously, and move along!).  And, the pale pink glare of the hideous fluorescent dressing room lights notwithstanding.  Yes, you're feeling this, my sister.  I just know it.

And trying to find a suit that is modest though not frumpy, comfortable yet not muumuu- like, is about as futile as searching for the Fountain of Youth where apparently Amelia Earhart, Jimmy Hoffa, and Elvis gather for an annual charity event.  So. Not. Fun.

Look online, my friends say.  That's all fine and good.   But haven't we all learned that just because it looks good in the advertisement, doesn't necessarily mean it will look good on us?  I need to try these things on--but yet, I hate doing it.  "Hate" is such a lightweight word in this case. Dare I say loathe?  Despise?  Yup.  Both of 'em.

I'm stuck somewhere in the middle of wanting Mary Pat, Mary Frances, and Mary Katherine to bring me everything off the rack that might look good, whilst I sit in an overstuffed chair, in a luxuriously air conditioned (and might I note, properly lighted!) dressing parlor--a la Pretty Woman.  And, to keep the realism of chick movies in view, how about Cher's electronic closet in Clueless?  But alas, most of us dwell in the real world.  The garishly-lit, claustrophobically-tiny dressing rooms of the real world.

So, it comes down to this.  You just give up.  Or you watch this clip. Laugh until your sides hurt.  And, pack up the pool bag and head out.  Wearing the tried and true suit that may or may not be adorning the covers of Vogue this season.  But, you like it.  Voila.  

Friday, June 2, 2017

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

One of the occupational hazards of having spent four years of my pre-Mommy professional life in a robust University Career Center was discovering new and interesting vocational paths. As we counseled students and used various skills and interest inventories to help them choose a major or learn more about just what one can do with their chosen major, we were strongly encouraged to take those assessments ourselves--more street cred and such. And while my areas of interest, skill set, and the like were of no surprise to me, sometimes a new job title would pop into the river of ideas.  Guidance Counselor.  Kindergarten teacher. The helping professions--minus medical school.  Phew!

Thus, the standard line around our home became "here's career idea #426"--and out it would come. Wedding planner.  Cruise director--Julie McCoy, at your service.  Children's librarian.  Given my previously-documented penchant for children's books, the last title put forward made me nearly giddy, as I envisioned my idyllic world of children sitting enraptured at my feet, while I read to them from Jerry Pinkney's most recent illustrated work--or they asked me the blessed question, "What should I read next?"

Fast forward.  In a world of personalized everything--personal chefs, personal shoppers, personal assistants--I recently thought of how I could combine my wholehearted affection for great books, my desire to help others learn, and--truth be told--my inclination towards "suggesting" what folks might like to read.  And, thus a new term was birthed, possibly.  Literary Concierge.  Or perhaps a Biblio-something.  Personal Library Consultant.  In any case, it's someone who helps you choose what books to read, helps you develop a reading list, purchases the books for you (using the client's funds, of course), and delights in the whole process.  Like a kid at the candy counter.  Or like Belle in the animated version of Beauty and the Beast.  Ahh, that library.  Or someone akin to Prudencia Prim in The Awakening of the named Miss.  Just not as stuffy!

Recently, my sweet friend and fellow bibliophile--who just happens to be the fabulous Children's Librarian at a "cozy" local public library--flattered my little book-loving soul.  Years ago, when we first moved to the "rhinestone on the buckle of the Bible Belt", I volunteered at this library.  In the Children's area.  But, this was before her time.  He Who Is Now Taller Than His Dad (his new moniker having reached 6'1" and size 15 shoe--and is still growing, according to our pediatrician) remembers hanging out on a comfy red camp chair, reading books about ninjas and Green Berets, near the non-fiction section. Meanwhile, Mini-Hooper (who may also require a new alias by summer's end) would roam the area, looking for more Kipper the Dog books.  I happily shelved books and modified themed literary displays.  But, I digress.  Which I am prone to do.

Anyhoo, we were recently chatting talking about her summer work projects and she said that there is one particular project to which she would trust only me as her eager assistant--a book inventory!  I was a whee bit giddy!  Seriously.   Learning titles of fiction and non, counting, organizing. Yup, I am so in on that.  So, if you happen to see me in mid-July, blissed out over multiple copies of Anne of Green Gables or because I found yet another Elisa Kleven gem that I never knew existed, you'll know why.

Literary Concierge.  I like the sound of that.  Immensely.

★Actually, I'd like both! lol:

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wish I'd Said That...

"We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for the daily gifts.

We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good.  Then we dep;ore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, an we consider this lament to be pious.

Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things."

~Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Thanks Be To God

Friday.  Picture this, if you will.  A dimly lit sanctuary.  Usually gloriously brightened stained-glass windows blacked out.  A simple wooden cross draped in black, a crown of thorns sits atop of it.  A single Christ candle is lit in front of the gently-spotlighted cross. The flame extinguished at the end of our liturgy. "The death of Christ", our pastor states quietly. To which we respond, "Thanks be to God." Silence and near darkness, despite the noon hour, in the room.  Somber, reflective.  Some linger, many exit.  All reflecting.  

Thanks?  Yes, thanks.  For without this death, there can be no resurrection.  Without the shedding of blood, there can be no pardon of sins.  Mine.  Yes, mine.  And yours, too. Thanks be to God.

Come, behold the wondrous mystery; slain by death, the God of life;
But no grave could e'er restrain Him, praise the Lord, He is Alive!
What a foretaste of deliverance, how unwavering our hope;
Christ, in power, resurrected, as we will be when he comes.
~Come, Behold The Wondrous Mystery

Sunday.  The blinders have been removed.  The sanctuary is illuminated by the springtime sunlight. There is Light where darkness once prevailed.  The cross is now draped in white, innocence and Light.  So much Light.  Brass fanfare and bells toll the life-giving words that we are about to declare:

He is Risen
He is Risen, Indeed!

Thanks Be to God.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday: "Beneath Thy Cross"

Beneath Thy Cross

Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood's slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon--
I, only I.

Yet give not o'er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

Christina Rossetti

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Big Dance

March Madness.  In the opening weekends and the days to follow, the kinds of games that make the Tourney what it is, have happened.  Despite bracket-breaking potential, I find myself rooting for the underdogs, for the “human interest” stories—like the Wisconsin team with the “AD-KG-NG” patches on their uniforms.  What do those initials mean?  They are the initials of folks who meant much to the team, coaching staff, and the basketball program—including the mother of the assistant coach.  All three passed away last year—and this is now the Badgers mark their memories.  Heart.  That’s what these young men have.  Heart.  And a whole lot of talent.  From UCLA to Providence, from Baylor to WVU.  And those Gators just won’t go away (home state pride--sadly, those Gamecocks that Darius loves made them go away on Saturday!)—and the MTSU ---(our adopted home state) gave it their best. Admittedly, I usually get teary-eyed with those who painfully add an “L” to the column—even if it’s those teams that are coached by the real-life Godfather and his cronies.  
Bracketology makes its fourth annual appearance in the homeschool lesson plan.  Brackets abound, including the ever-popular and enthusiastically-debated Mascot Bracket.  Geography, statistics, and the like.  But, this year, I’m thinking about life lessons that can be drawn from The  Big Dance.  Some fairly obvious, others not so much.

1. Fundamentals are the key—If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard My Favorite Philosopher (and our offspring, echoing their wise papa) say, “You can’t win a National Championship without making free throws,” I could buy a closet-full of my beloved Converse, in multiple colors and patterns.  Seriously, think about it.  You can hot dog, dunk, and fade-away jumper all you like; but, when you get fouled and come to the line, you need that basic skill:  a sweet, simple (or so it looks) straight-on swish.  No dazzle or fireworks.  Just straight ahead and shoot.  

2. Don’t stop until the clock runs out—Or maybe simply, Finish Strong.  I watch these young men, and they don’t give up.  Even when it’s seemingly ridiculous and futile to continue the effort, they don’t slow down.  They work hard.  Sometimes it changes the course of the game, and sometimes, it’s the end of the road.  Either way.  

3. People will make mistakes that affect you and are “game-changers”—and sometimes, there is nothing you can do about it.  Watch the last two minutes of the Northwestern v. Gonzaga game—and you’ll see what I mean.  A horrible call.  And, I’m a Zags fan.

4. Your allegiances make sense to you (and possibly, only you)—see above statement “I’m a Zags fan.”  Why, you might ask.   No, I’m not from Spokane or even the Pacific Northwest.  In general, I’m really not much of a NBA fan—I did go through a phase in my early 20s where I was a Utah Jazz fan.  HOWEVER, I am a Zags fan because:

a. John Stockton played for the Utah Jazz.
b. John Stockton totally reminds me of my best guy friend from high school, Todd.
c. So, I like John Stockton.
d. John Stockton played for Gonzaga in his undergrad days.
e. Thus, I like the Zags.

*That's likely what My Favorite Philosopher would call an illogical syllogism.  But, all's fair in love, war, and basketball.*

My bracket has been beaten, battered, and torn.  But, I have still have two teams left--and the team I chose to win it all has a TarHeel.  And hails from a place where the sky is Carolina blue.  We'll see how it all turns out.

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