Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Reminder

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is not a suggestion.

And no, the reminder is not that I have a blog. My profound apologies for the neglect.

It sound much too cliche to say that my life has changed. A more accurate description would be that my perspective has shifted tremendously.

How do I summarize a relationship without over-dramatizing it or without making it sound trite?

An open door, a short talk
A noisy lunch, a quiet walk
Down on pennies, Up on movies
Holding hands
A yellow rose, chocolates, books
Homemade tacos, long looks
Weekend planning
From a small villAge to the big City
Improvising conversation
Homemade meals, Firefly
Free beer, getting lost
Right dinner, Left books
R - A - I - N
Introductions, a full house
F - O - O - D
Black Friday caffeine, Happy Thanksmas
C - A - R - S
Giving (and receiving) gifts
Yes, this family likes football
B - U - C - K - E - Y - E - S
Let's play What's His Name Again?
Late night pizza and PJS
Crying nephew(s)
Finding a Good Burger
Did we forget something?
On the road, again

Yeah, I like my boyfriend a lot. He makes me happy. 'Nuff said. :)


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Before I post about anything else...

I just wanted to say hi to my newest friend. She was born less than twelve hours ago.

Hello! Many people are very happy you are here. God bless you always!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Harvest Moon and Courage

Two completely different topics this evening:

Taking a walk this evening, and chatting with my (currently in Boston) mother, I became distracted by the moon. Technically last night was a full moon, but I swear it's bigger tonight. Anyway, it doesn't have the harsh, bright white reflection like in the summer, nor the red Armageddon, but a pale yellow. It's a softer reflection tonight, reflecting the softening season of autumn.

Leaves leave the trees and carpet the ground. Lighter clothing and sandals give way to sweaters, khakis, socks and flannel pajamas.

What are you looking forward to this time of year?

I was having a busy day at the end of a busy week today. Often, there's not enough week to finish the work. I get so caught up in how hard it all seems to be, and then...perspective smacks me in the face.

A coworker in another department called me with a question around 4:20 this afternoon. When her name came up on my phone (internal calls show the first initial and last name) I was intrigued. T works on a different floor, and we don't often interact. She is friendly, though, and conscientious. I knew it wouldn't be a social call, or worse, an incredibly dumb question that I would be forced to answer, all the while internally bemoaning the lack of common sense in some members of the staff.
But T does not gossip or shirk. She works hard, and genuinely wants to do her best. I hadn't talked to her in a long time (other than an occasional hello). She asked her question, gave me some background of the problem, and we worked through it. I remember thinking, if every phone call were like this one, I would probably enjoy going to work most of the time.
In the end, we figured it was most likely an error in my department, and not a misunderstanding on her part. I felt genuinely sorry when I apologized for confusing her. T took it well. She was mainly relieved that she understood the situation, and that she could solve it fairly easily.
A mundane phone call about work? Hardly.

You see, T's first language is not English. I would estimate that she is in her late 40s, early 50s. She immigrated to America a number of years ago from Russia. When she was sworn in as an American citizen a couple of years ago, we had a party at work for her. Her English, while accented, is excellent. The only word in the entire conversation that she had trouble pronouncing was someone's name.

I had to concentrate harder during the call than I usually do because 1) her voice is very soothing and I wanted to actually hear what she was saying and 2) I had to think about what I was going to say before I said anything. I didn't completely change the way I talked; I just cut out some of the consonants and enunciated more than I would with a native English speaker. I didn't doubt her ability to understand. I just wanted to be as clear as possible. One thing I did not do was raise my voice or speak (much) slower. If you are speaking with a non-native English speaker and they seem to misunderstand you, do NOT speak louder or slower. Americans on the whole are loud and fast talkers. I'm not saying this is wrong; it's just the way we talk. But it is insulting to speak loudly and/or slowly as if the other person is either deaf or stupid. Okay, I'm done sermonizing...

The point is that T is a completely ordinary person. By her own choices or circumstances (I don't know the story of how she came from Russia to here) she showed exceptional courage.

How do you think you would fare if, in middle life, with family, friends, career, traditions, home and habits firmly established, everything changed?

It did for her. And she faced it.

And now T lives on the far side of the planet from her birthplace, speaking a second language every day (a different alphabet too), and all the while just trying to do her best at her job.

I think my life is pretty easy.


P.S. I haven't forgotten about posting the rest of the trip!

Monday, September 20, 2010

First Part

I meant to start with the first part of our trip, which was Indianapolis (Indiana-POLIS), but forgot about the adventure before we left home. There was a Vatican Exhibit over in the city that Mom really wanted to see - I did too. There were priceless artifacts, paintings and sculptures there. Some of them had never been displayed outside of Vatican City. My favorite section was on the Renaissance. I prefer the art during that period over the Baroque period.
Most of the really famous artists come from the earlier period, and...

Oh really, it's just because anytime I see the word "baroque" I think of that line from Beauty And The Beast: "And as I always say, if it's not ba-roque, don't fix it!"
Yes, I highly doubt I will ever grow up. :)

My only disappointment of the Vatican Exhibit was that the curators couldn't figure out a way to remove the ceiling from the Sistine Chapel and bring it to America. It would be nice to look at that marvelous painting without getting a stiff neck, don't you think?
I was not disappointed with the scant coverage/explanation of the Reformation. They're Roman Catholics, for crying out loud - I didn't expect them to use half their exhibit to display artifacts on Luther, et. al.

We saw the exhibit on Friday, September 3rd, and left the next morning for Indy. It was late in the morning - we took our time. It's not a bad drive over there. Gorgeous weather, too. The entire week was actually gorgeous. We only ran through rain once - on our way back west. Of course it was in Ohio. There are some times that I don't really miss living there...:)

There is a suburb in Indy called West Clay that Mom and Dad wanted me to see. It's fascinating. It's a planned village, totally built by developers. The houses are all different models, and they're all very close together. The point of the closeness is that the people living there live as a community. Sort of like a throwback to the 1950s, when everyone knew their neighbors or something. (I kind of doubt that every place in the past was a perfect community.)
It is contrived, but I appreciate the idea behind places like West Clay. I just doubt if building a perfect-looking community can actually, you know, bring people together. I'm sure that the lure of such a place brings in people who would be more willing to participate in a close community. But over the long run, I'm not so sure. And the perfection of the place was slightly unnerving to me after a while. There were trash cans, but I don't remember seeing a single piece of loose trash anywhere. Even a stray plastic bag blowing across the street would have looked more normal.
That being said, it was very beautiful to see! I think living there would be above my income level too, come to think of it...

On Sunday before we drove to Ohio we went to church only a few miles from our hotel. My older nephew's godmother goes to that church, and it was lovely to see her again!
It's a blessing to see friends after a long gap, or short ones, for that matter.

And then it was on to the place (as my college choir director described it) that's round on the ends and high in the middle...The Buckeye State.

Sunday afternoon was spent shopping, which I don't do a lot of. A couple of cute new shirts, on clearance, began it. Then it was on to the Apple Store. As my brother put it, "You've joined the 21st century!"

I got an Ipod Touch. Technology is an amazing thing. Thousands of songs and multiple hours of video that fit into an object smaller than my hand. I love it.

We met up with Brother and SIL for dinner. We ate outside - another advantage of the fabulous weather was the amount of time spent eating outside. Then it was on to Starbucks before ending up at their home in Lancaster. That Sunday was the 2S day (two Starbucks).

Monday, Labor Day, was perfect - I didn't work. Slept in, had a fantastic butterbraid that SIL very nicely made that morning, then spent several hours on a website Brother showed me and Dad that has all kinds of quizzes on it. Some are standard (Name the 50 states!) and others are obscure (name all the All-Star goalies from all the NHL teams!). It is possible to lose several centuries on websites like that.
Later, we picked up sandwiches and took them to the local park. Beautiful place; hilly, lots of woods, lots of people. After the picnic, we went back home, gathered the rest of our accumulated belongings, and headed for Pennsylvania.

Next stop: Pittsburgh.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Well, I'm Back".

So says the character Samwise in The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. (Both the film and the book.)

I'm back home, after a vacation to PA. A shortened version of where we went goes like this:


Stay tuned for the longer version.

And yes, I miss the AT&T/Cingular commercials where people cram everywhere they've been into one word.


Smells and Sounds

Driving back from choir, I was smacked in the face by a scent. Right as I entered my village (after driving under a starry and moon-lit sky) the smell of onion grass came out of nowhere. I don't know if its real name is "onion grass". But that's what it smells like. It's one of my favorite outdoor smells.

Other smells and sounds today:
The smell of turkey on my sandwich at lunch. (It was a turkey sandwich, so that's a good thing!)
The tick of the wall clock in the living room.
Fish and mac n' cheese for dinner.
The hand soap in my bathroom.
A dog in the back of a truck barking.
The smell of paper - I work in an office, so it's constant. Sometimes the printer smells like it's burning, and the paper feels hot. It's a nice hand-warmer in the winter.
Choir singing the last verse of "Abide With Me" in four-part harmony a capella.
The laughter of friends.

Looking back on it, it was a blessed day. God bless all your days!


Monday, September 6, 2010

A very tall man and a small boy

Somewhere in Illinois in the mid-1930s, a small boy, my grandfather, felt very tired. So naturally, he took a nap. He inadvertently fell asleep against someone. Grandpa was five or six years old when this happened.

The patient person he used as a bed was at this time in his late teens. This older boy, nearly a man in terms of his age, far exceeded all men in his height, even at his young age. His name was Robert Pershing Wadlow. When he died in 1940, he was twenty-two years old and was 8 feet, eleven inches tall.

The sight of a small boy sleeping against Robert would have made a nice picture, don't you think?

And I thought I had heard EVERY interesting story about my grandfather. Apparently not.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Waiting and Preparing

The dryer's running and I'm making lists, etc. Usually I only organize, plan and prepare before I go on a trip (longer than a weekend). Even when I moved last fall, that did not feel organized. Going away, on the other hand, always gets me focused. Instead of the same everyday routine, it's something different.

Travel gets me buzzed - in a good way. And to the person who asked yesterday - I got Airborne today, lemon-lime edition. If I'm drinking something dissolved in water, I don't usually go for the orange flavor. Too tangy.

The dryer's done. Gotta go!


Friday, August 27, 2010

Fish on Friday II

Just to explain my randomness...Roman Catholics used to always have fish on Fridays (don't know if they still do). No meat. My (Lutheran) pastor adheres to this standard during Lent.
This is one of those practices that I need to find out more about it. Not sure I could do it. I like fish, but maybe not that much.

Fish on Friday

Is good. Of course, the fact that it just seemed way too work-intensive to make anything else for dinner contributed to my choice. Fish and french-style green beans. Yum.

I consider myself catholic, small "c". In other words, I'm catholic (the universal church), but not Roman. If there was another word for Lutheran, I'd use that because Luther himself didn't like the term. "I didn't die for anyone!" he said. Very true. Christian is the best term, and the most accurate.

Enjoy the lovely weather this weekend!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010


"You'll be fine." He looked out the window and sipped at his drink again. "The traffic might be rough getting through Columbus, but after that, you should be clear."
My brother, whether he meant to or not, sounded like my dad. A few minutes later, he and my sister-in-law left to go to work. And I left to go home. But not yet. There was one place I had to go first.
Shifting into the turn lane at Carroll, I wondered if it was worth it. As the road wound up and down, the green hills came into view. The morning exactly fit the mood - grey skies, no rain, low humidity.
There were runners on the road into the park. Of course. The weather was too good. Besides, the girls probably had a meet coming in the next week. And to top it off, they were wearing "Tigers XC" shirts. Naturally. I recognized nobody. How fast ten years go.

I parked, then started up the hill. Why is it always less steep and shorter in memories? Of course, I used to take it at a run, not at a brisk walk with a cup of half-finished chai in one hand and keys in the other. Right at the top of hill. If I had more time, it would have been left, through the meadow, then up the really steep hill (too steep to lie about it in memories) and into the place by my favorite route. Instead, it was the shortcut. More puffing, then the top.

It was even more beautiful than I remembered.
The trees, the grass and flowers seemed to shimmer. Everything was extra green, as if it was spring and not late August. No one else was there.
At such times the Venite comes naturally:

"Oh come let us sing unto the Lord/Let us make a joyful noise unto the rock of our salvation/Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving/And make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms./For the Lord is a great God/And a great King above all gods/In His hand are the deep places of the earth/the strength of the hills is His also./The sea is His and He made it: and His hands formed the dry land..."

The "joyful noise" was barely above a whisper. There were too many things to hear, and see, and smell, and taste, and touch. The light breeze was saying "Good morning!" to the treetops; the vine on the lattice was looped as delicately as if invisible fingers had placed it there; the fresh scent of flowers before the day's heat; the sweet taste of honeysuckle; the touch of dewy grass on feet.

This place was - no is - special to my family. We never owned it. It owned us. It's a place to go to enjoy each others' company, to reflect, to pause for a day or an afternoon. We celebrated birthdays and other occasions up there. Sometimes the occasion was nothing more than a beautiful day.

The irony is I never wanted to move to Ohio. It took me a long time to feel like it was home, and even now there is a certain ambivalence. But this place feels like home. Maybe if my parents still lived in their former house, I would feel differently. But I doubt it.

It was great fun to see old friends again and realize that friendships made in school don't have to fade. It was wonderful to witness a dear friend getting married to a wonderful man, and share in their joy. It was comforting beyond measure to visit with church family. Talking with one of them on Sunday, the comment was made that "other churches are friendly, but this is home." I didn't want to cause offense, but I consider my church family in Illinois, well, family too. They're all family to me. Sometimes I think, oh wouldn't it be great for so-and-so in Ohio to meet so-and-so in Illinois? And then I remember they will. If not in the "Shadowlands", as C.S. Lewis put it, then "beyond the Stable door".

As I left and drove back toward the highway, it was fitting that the song playing on the radio was Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me."

If I could just come in, I swear I'll leave
Won't take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me.

Part of the house that built me doesn't have a roof, except for the sky. There are no walls, only trees, and the floor is grass.


Hi L :)

This post is for my sister-in-law's mother.

It was great seeing you and (most of) my extended family...I know my brother married into the family, but I've known you all for around seventeen years now, so that should count for something, right?

I'm already looking forward to the Christmas letter!


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Obligatory Additional Post

Why am I thinking about music tonight? As the wise ladies of The Shirelles sang, "Mama said there'll be days like this!"

Okay, I'm done.

The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and other favorites

I don't know why, but sometimes listening to oldies ('50s and '60s) is like eating comfort food. While dressed in your most comfortable at-home schlub clothes. And snuggling with your (spouse/baby/pet/pillow/all of the above).

Whether it's any Beach Boys tune, Brit Invasion chart-topper, or jukebox fave, there's just something about that sound that makes me want to sing along, dance or cry.
Take The Tokens' immortal and endlessly covered "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". You will sing along. You will start dancing when the lead singer wails "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee....aweeeamummawayyyy!!" And you will cry because popular music today doesn't deserve to be called music. Forget Katie Perry - if you want songs about California, listen to the Beach Boys. "Tell the teacher we're surfin', surfin' USA!!!"
I listened to Herman's Hermits earlier this week. They have such an odd sound; it's quirky, but it gets in your head. You know you're singing " I'm 'er eighth old man, I'm 'Enery, 'Enery the Eighth I AM!!"
Who would dare write (let alone try to market) a super-repetitive song about a four-centuries dead king? Or a song sung in high falsetto about a jungle animal? (I still don't really know what that's all about.) A surfing song would maybe pass muster in this day and age (see Ms. Perry), but still. What is it about these songs that moves people? Why are they still, to a certain degree, popular, even among those who weren't even born when they were first released? Why does music stir us so? Why can we at times communicate through music better than we can verbally? Well, I wonder, wonder, who...who wrote the book of love? (Shameless Gary Larson rip-off)

Don't answer the questions. Just listen. And sing. And dance. And be happy, for the lion sleeps tonight.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Have you ever been glad you had to visit the doctor because he/she was cute?

That's a rhetorical question, naturlich.


Now that it's July, a round-up of what happened to me in June (in no particular order, and not trying to put everything in):

1) Last Saturday, went to a soccer bar (they advertise themselves as one) in St. Louis. U.S. versus Ghana. NEVER been in a bar/restaurant that packed. It was hotter inside than out - and the heat index Saturday afternoon was over 100F. Craziness reigned when Landon Donovan scored America's only goal. When the game ended, gloom sobered everyone up (except the three of us in the place who were already sober). It was fun while it lasted, though - the R rating worthy (and totally nationalistic) chants that were constantly yelled. "F---in' AMERICA!! F-- YEAH!!!" Stuff like that. Oh, and the song "When The Saints Go Marching In" being sung with the word "saints" being replaced with "Yanks". I can watch the sport, but I'm more of an America fan than futbol.

2) Went to a performance of Wicked at the Fabulous Fox. I had seen the show once before, but never been to the theater. These musical theater people - they blow me away. The real talent they have, and the fact they do it, oh around eight times a week for months on end, just proves that there is real talent in this country. Just don't look for it on TV. I was amazed to see how many different (and great) performances have been presented at the Fox. Definitely glad I went. Now I can say I've been there!

3) Before Wicked, there was dinner at Blueberry Hill (the restaurant). I was lucky to avoid a lightning (Ning-Ning!) strike, as I inadvertently stepped on Stan Musial's star on the sidewalk. The baseball gods were forgiving.

Well, that's the interesting stuff. Have a great Independence Day weekend! Say a prayer for our men and women in uniform, both current and retired. Remember why we celebrate this holiday, and remember those who died defending our freedom.

Quoting an unknown patron at the bar after the American goal:


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Storms and Sunsets

More rain this weekend. I held off taking a walk today for a long time, mostly because of the heat. The other reason was that yesterday afternoon storms blew up and I didn't want to take the chance to get caught in one. It was about 4:30 when I left. Hot, steamy weather. I got all the way to the western end of the park when I heard a rumble behind me. Ran part of the way home before heat, lack of stretching and hurt lungs forced me to slow to a walk. More rumbling. Got home, peeled off clothes, drank water. Looked outside, saw the sky darkening. More rumbling. This went on for a good 45 minutes before there was a drop of rain. Then it came down in buckets, and cleared out quickly. On the upside, there was a spectacular rainbow to the east as the rain was sweeping away.
The sunset was beautiful this evening - orange and pink against the blue, with wispy white clouds hovering on the horizon.

The storm is passing over
The storm is passing over
The storm is passing over

Saturday, June 12, 2010


This was the final score between England (NOT Great Britain, or the United Kingdom) and our good ol' United States of America in our first World Cup 2010 match. Ordinarily, I wouldn't think much of a tie, especially after watching the highlights and seeing the opportunities that the Americans missed, but I'm making an exception.

First of all, this is the World Cup. Everybody (except U.S.) is watching. Most Americans might not care about soccer (I don't) but the rest of the world does.
Secondly, we played England in our first game. Soccer to the Brits is like basketball to U.S. Losing (or tying) in international competition is intolerable. Soccer (they call it football) is their sport. Even though England hasn't won a World Cup since 1966...but I digress. Schadenfreude is a great thing. This would be like our Olympic basketball team playing, say, Greece and winning by two points. Not exactly a confidence builder. Also, need I say again that we played England? And tied them. We pretty much fought them to a draw at a place in Massachusetts almost 235 years ago, too.

Matt Drudge wins the prize for best headline for this one: BRIT KNEELS BEFORE AMERICA!

All I can say is, "God Bless America!"

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


And not in a good way. I am by no means a Detroit Tiger fan, One out shy of a perfect game and...ouch. That ranks up there with the '72 Olympic basketball fiasco when the referee gave the Soviets about fifteen trillion tries to catch an incoming pass and make a basket to beat the good ol' U.S.A. At least there was no political overtones to an umpire making a bad call.*
I hope the pitcher keeps his chin up, and his perspective. Not to sound cliche, but there are much worse things.

He could play for the Cubs.

*Caveat: If in the next 48 hours someone blames the whiffed call on President George W. Bush, I reserve the right to repeal this sentence.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Little Man and Bam

I must say a few words about these two. They're ridiculously cute. While they're brothers, they each have their own distinct features. One is blond, the other is (for now) dark-haired. Little Man, being older, has been observed to be affectionate towards Bam. For his part, Bam has been observed to start crying when he hears his older brother crying. On the other hand, he managed to sleep through L.M.'s demon-shrieking Sunday night. Little Man's name comes from his parents; Bam comes from his brother's attempt to say his Christian name. Little Man has his mother's nose; Bam has more of his father's. Bam is bigger than Little Man was at that age.
Both slept through most of Sunday service. L.M. snored; Bam did not (he sometimes whimpers in his sleep). Both are very much loved by parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.

A King In His Old Country

Re-watching The Civil War for an unknown number of times, I am struck by a thought: no one now comes to this country because he is a king in his old country.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Something Really, REALLY important happened today

For the first time ever since moving to my new place (and village), I stopped at the green corporate coffee place before heading in to work.


However, I must mention that approximately six hours before this earth-shattering event took place, my second nephew made his grand appearance.
He weighed 8 lbs., 5 oz. at birth. (I received two different numbers regarding his weight, but I'm putting in the one given to me by his mother, as her number is more likely to be accurate). He is 20 inches long and has (for now) brown hair. After speaking with his grandfather after work, I was informed that Second Nephew had made his first "constitutional". Naturally, everyone involved is delighted.
As for his aunt from the multi-animal village (squared, as a friend put it), I think he's adorable. And relieved he's here and safe and that he and his mama and daddy and big brother are doing fine.
So here's to you, Master S. You may be the second born, but today you're first in all our hearts and minds. May God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit bless you today and every day of your earthly pilgrimage.

Love always, Aunt M (BR)


Friday Night

Not much goin' on in my one-horse town. Actually, I'm putting my village (it is a village and not an actual town) down when I refer to it as "one-horse". There is probably more than one horse here. There are multiple cows; I walked past five of them earlier this week. They were chewing their cud and shooting the breeze - the female bovine version of the old guys hanging out and drinking coffee at the local restaurant. There are multiple restaurants here. The Big Cheese is just down the block (I can see the back of it from my kitchen window) and serves all kinds of Midwestern fare. The gas station/convenience store/rent-a-conference-room/restaurant a few blocks east serves similar foods, although it's less fancy than the Big Cheese. There's also a new pizza/ice cream place that just opened across from the multifaceted place. Of course, there's a bar further west on the main drag. The BC has its own bar, too. There might be another bar in town that I don't know about, but I doubt it. Not bad for a village of around 600 people, eh?

*If anyone can find a restaurant that actually has the name The Big Cheese, let me know. It wouldn't surprise me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Random Thoughts

-One of the best quotes heard in the last few days: "You don't get medals for a natural delivery." Not that there's anything wrong with that. And major kudos to every woman who decides (and is successful) in delivering her child/children naturally. Not sure it's my cup of tea, though...

- Next-door neighbors M and his older brother are typical boys. So after the downpour Saturday, they played in the puddles, splashed water and got mud all over themselves (M did, at least). M is 4. His brother is somewhere probably between 8-10. It's difficult to tell. How do I know M's age? Because he told me. He didn't hold up four fingers, though.

-Aren't rainbows beautiful? Remember the colors: Roy G. Biv (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)

-While thinking about acronyms, here's another: HOMES. The five Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior.

-Read 1 John 3:20.

How does He KNOW!? Oh, right. Because He's God.

So there I was, in my anxiety-laden, impatient holding pattern, just bumming out. The weather here has been downright early Secret-Gardenish depressing, without the sheep or Yorkshire accents. The low, heavy gray clouds that occasionally provide a hint of maybe some light above them only tease me. I was in this state and then I went to church Sunday morning. Before the service began, I sat in the pew and looked at the bulletin. And there it was, emblazoned across the front: Those Who Wait on the Lord Shall Rejoice. Subtle.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


I'm not very good at it. Right now it feels as though I'm waiting for something, but I don't know what. Life? You're in life right now. Sometimes this feeling is good, like I know something is just around the corner! Today, though, I feel almost a dread. No. Dread is too strong a word. I guess anxiety is the closest description. The worst thing about waiting is that I don't know what's coming next. Is it good? Bad? Indifferent? I don't know.

That's the problem - because there is no way of knowing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

20 Innings!?

On the way home from Springfield Saturday evening, I started listening to the Cardinals-Mets game. There were in the sixth inning when I was leaving town. I got home, then went out and got a pizza, came home again and kept listening until the twelfth. I'm glad I didn't listen any longer - it was getting frustrating to hear guys getting stranded on the bases. But still - 20!?


Mr. Lincoln's House

The house itself is quite narrow, but with high ceilings. It was bought by the Lincolns in the 1840s. As the park rangers say, it was the only house Abraham Lincoln ever owned.

A few thoughts on visiting the place:

-The railings on the stairs are lower than we in the modern world are used to. It makes the average American adult feel tall. The hallways are narrower, too. The government doesn't need to commission studies on our average heights and weights - just go into a house over one hundred years old and anyone can tell we're taller and fatter.

-The smallness of the furniture and the rooms made me wonder about Mr. Lincoln living there. He was 6'4", after all. He'd be taller than average now. No wonder he looks gigantic next to, say, General McClellan in the pictures. His whole life indoors must have been spent stooping and cramming his long legs under the dinky tables and desks everyone had back then. If he could see the future, he would appreciate Big & Tall stores. :)

-Park rangers at the Lincoln Home make it a point to emphasize that this building has a real connection with Mr. Lincoln. "None of the other Lincoln parks have authentic buildings."

-While emphasizing its tangible connection with the great man, the guides also talk about how Lincoln has been made into a legend. He's been "marbleized". People can't reach the man behind the legend anymore. Maybe it was just the guide my group had on Saturday, but while he talked about understanding the man and not the myth, he tended to talk about Mr. Lincoln in quite reverential tones. This is understandable - we're way beyond anyone's life span who actually knew him. Near the end of the tour, I thought if Mr. Lincoln was there, he would speak up and say something to the guide like, "Take it easy, Jack. (or whatever the guy's name is) I appreciate history just as much as you do, but I ain't a saint, either. Just ask my wife, or my boys. Or better yet - ask the half of the country that hated my guts. Or the many people on this side of the Mason-Dixon who thought I was a few short of a dozen. I'm a man, not God."

Something like that. Then he'd probably shake the guide's hand, put an arm around his shoulders and say, "Did you ever hear the one about the guy who walked into a bar and said to the bartender, 'Hey, that's not a duck!'"

-It's amazing to see how many different people visit Springfield specifically for the Lincoln sites there. In my tour group, there was a family of four, several couples of different ages, a few strays (like myself) and four or five older gentlemen in suits with name tags that said things like "Brother Randall, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints". God bless America.

-Later I walked to the museum a few blocks away. There must have been a school group there because there were elementary school-age kids everywhere. In the atrium area, after you first enter, there is a life size group of statutes of the Lincoln family, as when Mr. Lincoln first took office. They look like a family posing in the area, in authentic clothing - Mr. Lincoln, who towers over everyone else; Mrs. Mary Lincoln, who looks even shorter next to him; their oldest son Robert, who in 1861 was around 18 and stands about 5'10"; and the two younger boys, eleven-year-old Willie and eight-year-old Tad. Of course most museum visitors love to take pictures next to them. Families pose next to them. Teenage girls pretend to kiss Robert. Little kids pose next to the younger boys while their dads creep behind and put bunny ears on them. (I saw all this in a matter of about three minutes.)

-On the left side of the atrium is the first major exhibit. It's of Lincoln's early years, and there is an elaborate recreation of a log cabin that you have to enter through the front door. Inside the cabin is a recreation of Abraham's childhood home in Indiana. There's a fake fireplace and a young Lincoln on the floor trying to read by the dying light. There's a bed with someone snoring. After you pass through the cabin, then you go through a series of places documenting Lincoln's young adulthood, marriage, and election.

-The late, great Tim Russert lives on in the Lincoln museum. Several years ago, he did a "news report, live from 1860", documenting the four candidates for president that year and running campaign TV ads for each of them. Watching this exhibit, you sit in what looks like a TV studio. It's a very interesting and entertaining way to portray the campaign. It certainly isn't the British Museum, but it gets the point across.

-On the right side of the atrium is a huge replica of the outside of the White House. Inside, of course, is displayed exhibits documenting Lincoln's presidential years. When I was going through this part of the museum, parents with some kids were next to me part of the way. At one point early on, the girl said to her mom, "I want to see Mrs. Lincoln crying!" I thought, Don't worry. That part's coming.
One of the more interesting video exhibits on this side is a video map of the U.S. You can sit and watch "The Civil War in Four Minutes". One week for every second, I think. The map is blue for Union territory and red for Confederate. It's really something to see the geographic gains and losses. Also, the entire time, the box in one corner has the casualty numbers going up and up and up. (But not in a good way, P.)
One of the best things in either big exhibit (in my opinion) is a certain artifact in the Presidential section. At times there are more "museum-like" areas, with genuine artifacts, like the nameplate that was on the Lincolns' front door of their house, Mr. Lincoln's wallet, etc. All of these things are labeled and behind glass with Do Not Touch featured prominently. But there is one thing that has as its sign Please Touch. A sculptor during Mr. Lincoln's time in office had made a bust of the President early in his first term, in 1861. You can tell he's a vibrant man. Another bust was made in early 1865. It's incredible how much he changed. The last one is of an obviously aged man. The cheekbones are hollower. Apparently, after Mr. Lincoln's death, another sculptor had seen this last bust and said, "Oh, it's a death mask." Death masks were made of someone's face after their death. The original sculptor told him that it was done while the President was still alive. Touching either bust feels incredibly personal.

-It's a lot of fun to go see the Lincoln sites - there's plenty more just in Springfield that I haven't seen. Oh, one more thing - the museum has an entrance fee (of course). AAA pays; there's a discount. There is no entrance fee for the house. When Robert Lincoln sold it to the state of Illinois (for $1), he made only two requests: that it be maintained the way it was, and that no one would ever be charged a fee to see it. After the state transferred it to the National Park Service, they kept the promise. They do take donations, though. I prefer dropping a five dollar bill in the box. It just feels right.

What places feel authentic to you?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow

Sound and fury, signifying nothing. I'm too lazy right now (makes sense, I should have been asleep for at least an hour by now) to look up the actual quote from that Scottish play.
Actually, since tomorrow will be today by the time this post is published, I'll just let you know. I'm going to my state capital on Saturday. I haven't been there in quite some time. One of our presidents lived there for a long time. For some reason, even though he's been dead for going on 150 years, people still like to go to his old house. Like me. One thing I do remember from the last time I visited was that the trees in front of the place are never allowed to get bigger than a certain size. I guess they rip them out and plant new ones when they get too big. The idea (I think) is to preserve the look of the property as closely as possible as to when the man lived there. It reminds me of the Victorian practice of "enbalming a room". When someone would die in that era, people would stop the clock in the room, keep the bedclothes peeled back, and not touch anything in the room ever again. And yet time continues on. Dust gathers, spiderwebs (alas) grow ever larger, and those who cling to a memory will, in time, fade into memory themselves. I have nothing against preserving artifacts, rooms, buildings, etc., especially for historical purposes. I do have a problem with carrying the process so far that it includes the destruction of natural life.
On that note, good night.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Spring Fever

Thoughts on this spring day (or night, but I digress)

1) Little 'uns and ol' folks are all alike. They get excited about, well, going to the bathroom.

2) I like the smell of freshly mown grass, but not when it's my body odor.

3) For some reason, I associate the smell of gasoline with summer. It probably comes from my childhood and smelling the fumes from the gas can (to fill up the lawn mower) or being at the lake ("YAKE!!") and riding Grandpa's boat.

4) I cannot get Michael Buble's song "Haven't Met You Yet" out of my head. So if I meet the right man, will it leave?

5) How will I know when I meet the right man? I've had people tell me, "Oh, you'll know." I find this somewhat maddening. Really? I have found throughout my life that at times I have a gift of not seeing the obvious. So maybe everyone else will know, and...I'll just keep being oblivious for another six years. Or something.

6) Movies (romantic comedies, to be exact) have distorted modern society's view of romance/coupledom/civil unions/marriage/togetherness/whatever you want to call it today. I think a lot of people want their lives to play out like a movie. But they know (or know) that life is not a movie. In fact, life can often be better than any movie ever made.

7) For those who don't know, I started mowing a friend's yard in my town. So it's not my yard. Back to the mown grass theme (if you're wondering why I skip around like this, have you met me? This is how my brain works.) While I was mowing this evening, I had a thought. Mow this yard like you're mowing God's yard. Almost immediately I thought Duh. This is God's yard! He just entrusted it to His servant Mr. X, who entrusted it to you.
Like I said, I have a talent for missing the obvious.

8) The Boys of Summer are back. And in St. Louis that means...the Bud Light "Real Men of Genius" radio commercials are back on. Like "Mr. T-Shirt Launcher Inventor". They make me laugh, and even if I don't laugh out loud, I laugh like Aunt K. "Skkkuh!" They're snort-worthy, to say the least. I love the guys in those ads.

9) Last, but not least, today is a historic day. Abraham Lincoln died 145 years ago, the Titanic sank 98 years ago, and there was another beautiful sunset here. God bless,


Monday, April 5, 2010

Oh yeah...

I forgot to mention this. Colby Rasmus had a homer in the 'Birds win, YADI YADI YADI had a grand slam in the ninth (he likes theatrics in the last inning) and oh yeah, some guy named Albert had two home runs, too.


Hoosiers and 'Birds

Duh. Of course I'm rooting for Butler tonight! And yaaaaay for the Cardinals for beating the Reds!

How Was Your Easter?

Mine was...GREAT! It didn't start out too well (but then again, few days that my alarm goes off at 4:45 AM start out well), but once at church and into Easter Matins (the 6:30 service) things flowed well. The trio piece didn't go quite as well as I wanted, but I think God was pleased. He's the one we were singing for, anyway! :)
The pastor(s) preached joy in Christ's resurrection, choir rocked, the bell choir rang, the trumpets blasted, the timpani woke the dead (figuratively), our wonderful organist somehow managed to accompany multiple groups and play a fantastic Bach fugue prelude (not all fifteen minutes, about six minutes worth) and the sun shone eventually. Grandma said the music sounded "majestic", and I agree. I felt very privileged to stand behind the organist C and turn pages for him on the Bach piece. He played it at both services. I watched the music, getting lost a couple of times, but marveling not only that anyone could actually play a piece like that, but also how anyone could compose and write such a marvel.
Came home around eleven (main service was at 9 AM), took a short nap, threw the hashbrown casserole in the oven, then the ham. Did some clean up, then set the table. My guests (who I should have invited over long before) arrived at 3:00, after which none of us paid any attention to the time until late. Conversation at the meal, conversation after, a very long walk in exquisite spring weather (wearing shorts for the first time this year! YAAAAYYY!!), then returning to my place where we talked some more.
I have to say something about them now, these guests. A few readers of this blog have met them. Staying true to form, I will not mention them by name except for their initials - J, the husband of the pair: a true poet with a gift for words and intuitively knowing what someone is thinking; and K, the wife: a teacher with a gift for music who directs the choir and has a wonderful gentleness and strength mixed together. I have been incredibly blessed by their friendship and love them like a brother and sister.
After returning from the walk, they told me that in October (God willing) they will welcome their first child. At this point, the day had already been good, but their news made it great.
I have not had many close friends in my life, being an introvert. The ones I have are all blessings in their own ways. These two I can only describe as Anne Shirley put it - they are "kindred spirits". To say that I was happy at the news of their coming child is to put it mildly. For them, (as well as for immediate family and friends) their sorrow is shared sorrow and their joy is my joy also. It's not that I live through their or others' lives; I just want them to be happy. And they are happy. :)
After they went home, I talked with my brother. I need to tell him (I guess this blog is a way of telling him, too) that I love to hear him laugh. He and my sister-in-law were watching the first baseball game of the year (if you know them, that's not a surprise). I got caught up on church family from the Old Home, which is always great. After talking with Brother, came Sister. Along with talking with Sister, I got to talk to Brother-In-Law, Adorable Nephew, Unseen-But-Already-Loved Nephew (he'll be coming the end of this month) and Mom and Dad, who were visiting them for the weekend. Everyone there was laughing and in fine spirits, which always is a great blessing. I'm glad Nephew is getting a little brother, otherwise he would get too used to having everybody dote on him. Competition is good sometimes. :)
So: joyful worship to Christ our Risen Savior, accompanied by music played to His glory; good friends, good food (I think - the guests didn't complain! Their dessert was excellent.), good times catching up with family and great news -both for our salvation and personal happiness.
Yep, it really was all good.

P.S. I've been laughing at myself today for not catching their news earlier. Before the meal yesterday, I offered wine that Mom and Dad had given me. (Yes, I share it!). J took some, as did I, but K declined. Why didn't I realize something was up? Even though she rarely drinks...oh well. Happy news makes everything funny.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

September 23, 1779

On this date Captain John Paul Jones, commanding the USS Bonhomme Richard, famously told the British captain who demanded his surrender:

"I have not yet begun to fight!"

An interesting fact about this incident - the reason that the British (eventually) surrendered was not because they were outgunned. Rather, the HMS Serapis was forced to concede to the Americans because the ships were tied together.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


My bracket is officially screwed. Thank you, St. Mary's. Appropriate, considering yesterday was St. Joseph's day.
If Northern Iowa hangs on to beat Kansas, my bracket will be really officially screwed. On the other hand, I'll be happy for my cousin who plays for UNI.

Just so y'all know, I picked OSU and Kentucky to play in the championship, so I could still squeeze some $$ out of this...

Something completely different

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid-air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

"A Prayer in Spring", by Robert Frost

A very apt poem for today, considering everything that is going on.

I should have stayed in Wisconsin

after I graduated from college. One of my roommates had family in Janesville, which is part of Rep. Paul Ryan's district.
I just finished watching him defend his own proposal on healthcare, while rightly pointing out that the Democrats don't seem to want to talk about theirs.

How in the HELL did Rep. Slaughter ever get elected to Congress? I'm sure she's a personable woman (it's impossible to be successful in politics without people skills, unless you're Rahm Emmanuel, but I digress) but I had no problem understanding Ryan. And I am not an expert on congressional-speak, nor do I find talking about "subsidies" and "taxing health insurance benefits" remotely interesting.
This is not quite 2 + 2 = 4, but it's not rocket science either.

I'm going to re-read the Constitution and find which amendment guarantees health care...


Pray in the name of our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, for our country.
Pray that His will be done, and that we stay in it always.
Pray for repentance.
Pray that the Holy Spirit never leave us, and let us always be able to hear the "still, small voice" even through the din and noise and chaos of this world.
Pray that though we may not feel strong, that He remind us that He is strong enough to carry all of our burdens.
Pray that the Cross be kept ever before our eyes.
And on a personal note, please pray for a young member of my church. His name is Ryton, and he is five years old. He has been undergoing treatment for cancer for over a year.

We ask all these things in the name of our one Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen

Sunday, March 14, 2010

This post's for Dad

Happy Pi Day! (March 14, circumference of a circle is 3.14............)

Better than tomorrow, when we come to bury Caesar (again), not to praise him.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Money. I hate, loath, despise and abominate money!"

"You also spend it."

-a daughter's comment and her father's response, from the film Meet Me In St. Louis

"Pa, what's confiscate mean?"


-a son's question and his father's answer, from the film Shenandoah

Has anyone in the federal government ever seen either one of these movies?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

And no, I did not forget whose birthday it is!

Happy Birthday to the greatest basketball player EVAH...Michael Jordan!

A very happy and blessed birthday to the man who taught me how to dribble a basketball, my father. He also taught me how to behave in church. And pray. And many more innumerable things. I love you, Daddy!

Exit question, Daddio: If your grandson is known as "Little Man", then what would you prefer to be called?

Ashes to ashes


1) He is perfect, we are not. We cannot save ourselves, so He did. "I am yours, save me."

2) Advent is for kids, Lent is for adults.

3) It's been awhile since I've heard such a loud meltdown from a kid in church tonight. I started thinking, what if that was my kid, and how embarrassing that would be.

And then I remembered who my father is. "Pray!!"

4) Three cute little boys today: Two and a half year old grandson of a colleague; infant son of church family in the pew behind me; fourteen month old son of church friend after service. He kept reaching for my cookie. I probably didn't help by giving him part of it. :)
They all made me smile, but not as much as when I see my nephew!

5) Nephew (Little Man) likes to play peek-a-boo. He puts his hands over his face, palms out, and grinning waits for the reaction that inevitably comes. "Where's Little Man? Where'd he go?"
He lowers his hands, toofers showing. Then comes the favorite part.

"Dere he is!!!!" The funny thing isn't that he could do it for hours. The funny thing is when it's your turn to do it you have just as much fun as he does.

I love you, Little Man.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

You Don't See This Every Day

At least, I don't. So I left work around five, crossed the street and walked in front of Walgreens as usual. Then I saw a cop, standing in front of the automatic doors. I kept walking past. I saw another police officer in front of me, guiding a woman in handcuffs to the cruiser in the parking lot. Hmmm...

Curiosity - It made me think about the unknown woman. What did she do? Stealing is the most likely scenario. But what would she steal? They wouldn't call the cops if she was slipping lip balm into her purse. If I had to guess, I would say the situation had something to do with prescription drugs. There's a pharmacy in that particular Walgreens, and meth is a huge problem.

Of course, this is all idle speculation. I hope that whatever it was, the arrested woman gets herself sorted out. She seemed to be going with the officer willingly. He wasn't dragging her, and they seemed to be talking.

How quickly things can change. Most people popping in the local convenience store don't intend to walk out with their wrists bound.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Here Comes The Sun

Well, it came today. And it received a very warm welcome from us here in the Midwest. It isn't that I want it to go away again; I just think the folks on the East Coast would love to take a look.


Ephesians 6:5-8:

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free."

This passage was explained to me in a new way (for me) today. First, the whole "slaves" and "masters" terminology should, in the modern sense, be understood as "employees" and "employers". That being said, the other point made was that employees should obey their employers as if they (the employers) are Christ.

Ummm...ouch. Yes, because that's exactly what I think when I skip into work each day!

Not that this passage hit me in a personal way or anything...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Monday Night Musings

1) God is more important than football. Which is easy to say in February AFTER the Super Bowl is over, and way BEFORE the college football season starts.

2) A friend of mine was blessed with a niece February 3rd. Yay for new life and February birthdays! And wedding anniversaries too...

3) Why is it so annoying when the local news forecasts snow and there isn't any? Maybe it's because they get it so wrong. It would be one thing to say, "There will be two inches of snow" and not to have any. They have a tendency, however, to say things like "WE'RE GETTING SIX INCHES OF SNOW AND WE'RE GOING TO DIE!!!!" and then...nothing.

4) 58 would be a spectacular score on the golf course, but in the bowling alley, it means I stink.
5) Ephesians 5 is one firecracker of a chapter. Read the whole thing, and whatever you do ladies, don't stop after verse 22 and dismiss the rest. Because there's so much more beyond submission than what we know (speaking as a member of the female species, I'll leave it to others to decide whether I'm a lady or not)

And finally,
6) "In-law" is a term, when attached to a member of the family, that often inspires a negative response. This isn't the case with me (so far). For example, my sister-in-law I think of as my sister. It makes it easier to just drop the extra part. Also, I've known her since she was about seven years old. She has a blog that is far superior to mine. She also manages to post interesting things in it far more than I do. If her blog was a bowling score, it would be about a 290. Here's the link: Love you, R! (And you too, C.)

My blog is a 58, but like my game, I'm working on improving it. Love to all, including the other "IL", Brother J.

Monday, February 1, 2010

" I wanna be a STAAAAAAAAARRRRR!!!"

So shouteth Lady Gaga at the Grammys Sunday night. It is fortunate that the sentiment was overtaken by a surprisingly sweet duet with Elton John, performing his "Your Song". The performance made me think of why we think of such people as "stars". They become so by shining truth onto the human condition. Consider:

I hope you don't mind/I hope you don't mind
That I put down in words/How wonderful life is
While you're in the world.

Even in our most base, crooked and inward-looking condition, there is still acknowledgment of others. That is why the morphing into celebrities, "idols", stars, et cetera, is so dehumanizing. When one becomes a star, all light (so to speak) comes from that source. Everything is concentrated on the self, making it nearly impossible to see anything beyond.
And yet...

Who created the stars, both those in the heavens and those in Hollywood? Light comes from them, but they grow old, burn out, wither away; sometimes they implode or explode. The Light that created them does not grow old; He does not wither, implode or explode. Instead, He poured His Light into the creation to reflect His majesty. He sent His only Son, the Vine, so that we may not wither, but grow in His grace and mercy. And He sent the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to burn in His children; not to make us perish but to praise Him.

I don't want to be a star. I belong to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that is enough.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Can't Believe I'm Saying This

...but I like Tim Tebow. God bless him and his mom too!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Technical Issues and Two Men from Massachusetts

So my internet connection decided to play with me and cut itself off...on an election night, no less. Thank God for AM radio and the Geek Squad at BestBuy.
Barrels of ink have already been spilled over Senator-Elect Scott Brown's (R., MA) victory over Martha Coakley on January 19th. Listening to the radio that night as he gave his victory speech, I thought of another "Miracle" that was capped off by an ordinary guy from Massacusetts: The famous "Miracle on Ice" at the Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York in 1980. Thirty years ago next month, Mike Eruzione, captain of the U.S. hockey team, scored the final goal in America's semifinal against the U.S.S.R. The score put the U.S. up 4-3 with ten minutes to play. If you've never seen (or heard) Al Michaels' call of the final seconds of that game, get yourself over to YouTube and hear it. If you have, listen to it again.
Eruzione's goal put the U.S. over a team that many at the time considered unbeatable. The Soviet team had won the hockey gold medal in 1964, 1968, 1972 and 1976. However, as that game proved, no one is unbeatable. Even Democrats in Massachusetts.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

For the lost sheep, a good song

Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I've come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wand'ring from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.

Oh to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be;
Let that grace now like a fetter bind my wandering heart to Thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; Prone to leave the God I love.
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

Oh, that day when freed from sinning, I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in the bloodwashed linen, how I'll sing Thy wondrous grace!
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry; take my ransom'd soul away;
Send Thine angels soon to carry me to realms of endless day.

-"Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing", verses two through four, #686, Lutheran Service Book

As far as I know, this is not a Lutheran hymn, but it's one of my favorites. Whether it's played by a handbell choir or belted out by a congregation, it's simply sublime.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


This is a year that should come to mind when thinking of the epochs of history. 1066, 1492, 1620, 1776, 1860-5, 1914, 1939-45, 1989, 2001. These years speak of beginnings of epochs. History itself does not end; it simply moves from one moment to the next. The moment of 1453 is a foundation on which American history finds its deepest roots. If the dawn of America was Columbus stumbling upon a New World, then what happened nearly forty years previously was the waning moon before the sunlight.
On May 29th, 1453, the Ottomans conquered the Byzantine capital city, Constantinople. The inevitable fall of the empire had been coming for a long time.
Constantinople sits on a strip of land between the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara. It is the only city in the world to straddle two continents. Its place in geography, as well as that of most of the Byzantine Empire, were what made it so susceptible to enemies.
Once Constantinople fell, the trade routes used by western Europeans on their way to the Orient were closed. To get to the exotic East, made famous by Marco Polo (originally from Venice, once a Byzantine province) their only directions were south or west. The Portuguese had begun sailing south along the coast of Africa early in the 15th century. However, sailing around Africa was not a viable choice. Its coast was too long, ports were too few (then, as now, travelers needed a decent amount of rest areas), and if an adventurer made it through the stormy southern tip, there were pirates and other dangers to contend with in the Indian Ocean.
So the Europeans headed to the West to reach the East. The history of the Western Hemisphere is the result of their choice, brought on by the fall of the Byzantine Empire.
Constantinople still stands. Its name now is Istanbul. The flag flown there is the Turkish flag. It is red, with a star and a waning moon.

The Lion in the Wizard of Oz asked the right question

And he received the correct answer. When I think as to why I did not begin this blog sooner, I think of the Cowardly Lion's question, and the answer:



Sunday, January 10, 2010