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.