It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Sorry about that. I’ve been busy with my SRPS blog.

Anyway, I thought I’d start off light with a short RWLP post to help me get back into the swing of things. In addition to doing a lot of research for various posts, I’ve also been taking in a whole lot of media.

Reading: Anne of Green Gables
I haven’t read Anne of Green Gables since I was a kid, but I’ve always had fond memories of it. Re-reading it as an adult was a wonderful blend of visiting old friends and discovering new insights about them. What I love about Anne is her uncanny ability to always see the best in people, even when they’re being down-right dreadful to her. And her wonderful sense of awe about the natural beauty around her. I have to wonder how much of her rubbed off on me when I was reading this book when I was a kid?

I never did read any of the sequels in the series, although I loved watching the CBC television show from the 90s. The Kindle book I bought a couple of weeks ago is actually the complete series as well as many other writings my Lucy Maud Montgomery. I cannot wait to dive into uncharted territory!

Watching: A lot of different things
I finally finished Gilmore Girls, and have been spending most of my time watching this and that, getting myself ready for the Fall series premiers of my favorite shows by watching the last couple of episodes from last season, including How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, and The Good Wife. I’ve also been checking out some new and new-to-me shows, like Arrow (eh… I only like it so-so) and Quantico (the first episode seemed promising).

Eric and I finished watching Madoka Magica (what a great story!), and have just started watching Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex with the idea of watching through all the TV series and then the movies. It’s an ambitious goal, but with the weather turning cooler, it’s doable.

Listening To: Not much
It’s kinda sad, but working from home means I rarely spend any time in the car, and that means I rarely listen to the radio to hear anything new. And if I’m sitting at my desk, I seem more likely to queue up something to watch rather than something to listen to. Weird.

That said, I do follow several music blogs, and through them I do find new music to listen to once in a while. Most of which I wind up blogging about over on SRPS: Flint Eastwood, Elle King, and Ana Tijoux.

Maybe in preparation for the next RWLP post next week I’ll make it a point to log into Spotify and actually listen to some stuff.

Playing: Child of Light
Eric and I have been working our way through Child of Light. I’ve had it for quite a while, but never finished it. In fact, I really haven’t played much of it at all, as it turns out. It’s a lovely game, though, and I feel about ignoring it. I’m looking forward to playing more over the next couple of weeks.

Friday Favorites

I have a welldocumented obsession with perusing the local Goodwill for dishes. Most I use for serving food or as mini-vases, but I found a pair of what I assume are some kind of small mug. They’re larger than a sake cup, but smaller than a small soup bowl. I feel in love with them immediately, although I hadn’t a clue what I would possible use them for, but I was confident I’d find something.

Front View

I figured it out pretty quickly once I got them home. The size is perfect for storing my homemade deodorant. (Note to self: fix the photos in that very old post!) And it looks lovely on my bathroom counter, which is also blue.

Top View

“I think it’s important to find the little things in everyday life that make you happy.” Paula Cole

I couldn’t agree more. Every morning when I pick it up, I get a little spark of happiness, as I do with all of my Goodwill dishes. It’s such a little thing — the joy brings outweighs it ten-fold. And I think it’s the little joys that add up to a truly contented life.

What do you do to bring little sparks of joy to your day?

A little light reading

I see bloggers sharing photos of stacks of books. I’m not sure what the purpose is besides showing everyone what they’re reading in a quick image.

So, here’s my current stack. Oh, who am I kidding? This is only one of what could easily be considered many stacks.

Stack of books

You’ll probably notice that five out of the seven books shown here are library books, and two are even from other libraries and came to be by way of the miracle inter-library loan.

You may also notice that they’re all non-fiction. I keep being invited to join reading groups where the focus is on different fiction genres (sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, etc.). I want to join them, but I it takes me what feel like forever to get through a novel. It’s not that I don’t love novels. I do. But my intense craving for understanding history and how things got to be the way they are is primarily satisfied by these kinds of books right here.

So, from the top down, we’ve got:

Letters of a Homesteader, by Elinore Pruitt Stewart
Frontier Women: “Civilizing” the West? 1840-1880, by Julie Roy Jeffrey
Food in History, by Reay Tannahill
Labor’s Promised Land: Radical Visions Of Gender, Race, and Religion in the South, by Mark Fannin
We are an Indian Nation: A History of the Hualapai People, by Jeffrey P. Shepherd
African-American Odyssey, by Albert S. Broussard
The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans, by Lawrence N. Powell

They may seem like disparate topics, but you can be sure my brain is always looking for ways they intersect. There are so many ways!

Monday Musings

A blogger’s happy meal.

Crackers cheese and pears on flower plate

This is a picture of today’s lunch. It’s not that much different from the lunch I have most days. It’s pretty perfect in that it satisfies my cravings for something sweet and something salty, something crunchy and something smooth. But there’s also the sheer simplicity of it that satisfies my craving for something simple and uncomplicated, while also being visually satisfying.

I can nibble on it while working on blog research or writing. Which is good because I tend to get wrapped up in whatever project I’m working on and forget to eat lunch until I’m past hungry and into the making poor decisions state. Too many times Eric has come home to me greeting him at the door asking, “What’s for dinner? I’m starving!”

I always use what I refer to has my “happy plates.” Simply put, they’re plates that I’ve bought here and there that make me happy. This one came from Goodwill almost 9 years ago, and was the plate I kept at my desk when I worked in a real office. I had a mug that matched the color of the line around the edge, and a large white bowl. They were the set of real dishes I used to heat up and eat lunches I brought from home so I didn’t have to eat out of a plastic bowl.

These crackers are my current favorite crackers, Stoneground Wheat from Trader Joe’s. The cheese is TJ’s Monterey Jack, which is nice and mild and creamy. And the pear is an Anjou that I picked up several weeks ago, also from TJ’s, and has softened in the fridge so it’s perfectly sweet and juicy. The project that I worked on while eating was research for a post about a television show, which I’ll post on my “princess blog.”

While snacking, I was thinking about the kinds of things I’m sure many bloggers ponder: How can I make sure I make it entertaining enough for others to want to read? And share? Is this going to sound stupid? Maybe I should just check Facebook for a minute.

In fact, I think a lot of the blogging work I do is thinking. Which is one of those things that’s difficult to quantify and sometimes challenging to justify, even if only to myself. Or, maybe I should say, especially to myself. See, there’s a part of my brain that doesn’t think I’m a very good writer. And so when I’m in the thinking stage of writing, that part feels like it’s necessary to share its opinion. Loudly. And often.

When I’m in the writing stage I’ve already turned it off, or at least down low enough that I can ignore it. But when I’m doing the brain work, contemplating where to start, and how to organize things, it’s more difficult. It’s not impossible, of course. If it were, I’d never write anything. I have developed strategies to counter most of its arguments, most of the time.

But it is harder when I’m tired, or sad, or hungry. Which is why it’s really important for me to eat. Especially something that makes me happy. Hence, my happy meal — something delicious, appealing, and pretty that nourishes my body as well as my soul.

Advent 2

Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 2 Peter 3:14

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'” Mark 1:2-3

I bristle at the admonition to “have patience” in the face of suffering. I am thankful that Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori wrote in her message following the readings that patience in this context may not mean simply sitting quietly and waiting.

As Peter puts it, we wait for a new heaven and a new earth, in spite of all the forces that stand in the way. We wait patiently, confident that God is working his purposes out. Yet patience does not mean total passivity. Perhaps surprisingly, passive originally meant that one was capable of suffering; today it often implies that one is unfeeling and unresponsive. To live as Jesus did is to embrace the world’s suffering — in as full a way as possible — and yet to endure, knowing that God is still in our midst, and in the heart of the pain. Patience in this season of waiting is not just about putting up with delay, but having deep compassion for all who wait for justice, healing, and peace. It is about solidarity, and suffering-with (which is the literal meaning of compassion).

John the Baptizer is announcing the presence of compassion in the flesh — and reminding his hearers that God’s road builder toward that future is coming. Not only will a fellow sufferer stand with you, but he will help unfold that path to a healed world. The pathway isn’t finished yet, but if you’ll turn around, you will see it and become part of it.

Advent 2In this way, patience is a virtue in that it re-centers the individual within the larger world with its suffering and its grace, placing the focus on hope. By remaining centered and aware of the larger problem, we can offer compassion freely, with the strength to resist despair, which is the absence of hope.

And it is hope that allows us to continue forward on on our task to prepare the path toward righteousness.

I worry that the word patience is sometimes used to stop that forward movement by those who are afraid of what they believe they will have to give up in order to live in a truly just world. People in positions of power have long turned to those they oppress with advice to “have patience” to dissuade them from taking meaningful action. We see it even now when some misuse the words of Dr. King to calm angry protesters, claiming they are tarnishing his legacy.

But patience has its limits. And the patience that Peter is advising is not the passive kind that does not push forward. We are told to wait for the coming new world by making sure we are the very best we can be, “without spot or blemish.” I would argue that passively allowing another to abuse and mistreat us is a type of blemish, and that standing up to that kind of treatment is not only a matter of self preservation and/or solidarity, but one of incredible patience as well. Patience in knowing that while we may suffer additional abuse, we are working for the betterment of ourselves and the betterment of our world.

“We have no alternative but to protest. For many years we have shown an amazing patience… But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Montgomery, Alabama, December 5, 1955

I am struck by the phrase “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness.” Many of the images we have of Jesus or John the Baptizer have them quickly being surrounded by throngs of excited, accepting people. We forget that they were seen as kooks and frauds by many in their day, forced to go out into the literal wilderness to pursue their cause. We are viewing them through the lens of over 2000 years of history, and compressing their lifetimes into a few moments as we read through their stories, it becomes easy to forget that they had to face the daily abuse of those who wanted them to simply be quiet.

Lone dissenters in modern times are rarely viewed so charitably. And yet, to stand up against oppression we may have to stand alone at times in what is surely a kind of social wilderness with hostile forces all around us. Solidarity is not guaranteed, and we need to have the strength of our convictions to do it anyway. By the same token, when we see others making a stand toward the same goals, we must support them however we can, in whatever way they need.

This is our task. This is the road to the future. We are the ones who must build it, “through the wild and fearsome darkness.”


Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. Mark 13:33 

When I was a child going to Sunday school (we were Southern Baptist at the time), this is one of the teachings that stuck with me long after church was out. I suppose it had something to do with the idea that children should always be on their best behavior in case an adult is watching, or something like that. “Be good” was pretty much my mantra at the time.

As an adult, I read this passage somewhat differently. Sure, it can still be interpreted as suggesting that people should always be acting as though Jesus was coming back tomorrow. It’s clear to me that many people still feel this way when I see jokes like “Jesus is coming! Look busy!” As though Jesus is the boss who will fire us for being lazy.

Instead, I read it as a reminder to be wary of being turned away from our mission. Be careful that we don’t become so wrapped up in our own experiences that we neglect our task to make life better for everyone. This is especially important for people in privileged positions in society. Just because I don’t have to worry about some issues, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t care about them or work to improve them. I must make the effort to become and remain aware of issues that negatively impact others, and work to reconcile them.

On a more personal level, I also read this as a reminder that tomorrow is promised to no one, and that at any time I could lose someone dear to me. Or that I may be the one to leave them. And because of this uncertainty and impermanence of life, it is important to be mindful during the joyful moments, with the knowledge that they are precious.

Monday Musings – Coming Home

I love synchronicity. It always feels like it’s a kind of reminder that whatever I’m doing is the right thing.

Tonight I was determined to get back into my new winter routine of shutting off everything, lighting a candle and welcoming the darkness while quietly reading. Before stepping away from the computer, though, I re-read the Advent readings for this week, and checked the word of the day, as well as re-read my post from yesterday. Yesterday’s word was “awake” and today’s is “coming.” (This will be eerily important soon.)

I lit my candle and sat down and began thinking about the word “coming” and all its meanings and relevance to Advent and to my own life.

The list I came up with:
Second coming
Coming to a conclusion or decision
Come to Jesus (meaning to be forced to understand something)
Coming out (of the closet as well as the darkness)
Coming in from the cold

I then opened my book, My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss, with the intention of just sitting quietly and reading, and not really thinking much about Advent. But, coincidentally, the chapter I read (chapter 15) was more appropriate than I could ever hope for. In this chapter, she’s struggling with the break-up of her relationship and feeling lost in her life. Most people I know have felt this way once or twice in their lives. Honestly, I think of this kind of struggle as the hard work of becoming a whole person.

In those strange, clear days in late spring in Paris, I remember finally realizing with earthshaking certainty this simple yet essential fact: You, and only you determine your own fate. You get only one chance at this life. Do something with your life; open your heart to risk. At some point, enough is enough and you must think of the biggest leap you can fathom and then take it.

I’ve taken this leap. And I’ve watched many dear friends take their own leaps. And the one thing I can say with absolute certainty: The ‘universe’ will always catch you. Always. It always does.

The difficulty comes learning to trust in ourselves enough to believe in what we’re doing. I’m watching a friend going through the process of walking up to the edge of the precipice and then edging back, still unsure. I know that eventually the pain of remaining will cancel out the fear of leaping, and she will close her eyes and hold her breath and step off the edge… and gracefully fall into the open arms of those who love her and support her, and land solidly on her feet, albeit still a bit shaky from the experience.

The interesting, almost coincidental connection between this chapter and its personal relevance and the Advent words I mentioned above are that we can only know we need to make a change once we’ve woken from our slumber of ignoring the problem. And one we’re awake, there is no going back to sleep. Ever. It is only after we leap into the unknown that we realize that we are coming home.

The title of the chapter I read is “It Shook Me Awake.” And the final paragraph reads, “The next day it was warm enough to wear my new red sandals to work. And at the office my Irish friend, Dervla, told me that pigeons — and doves — are the symbol of homecoming.” Now, if that’s not a timely coincidence, then I don’t know what one is.

But how does this relate to Advent and the readings for this week? Well, to me, I have never been one to believe in the strict teachings of the bible I received as a child. Instead, I’ve read it more as a guide with simplified language for complex concepts. When I think of the “coming” of Jesus, what I translate that to for myself is something akin to the majority of the world living in love and kindness. We are not so much waiting for Jesus to return to us, so much as we are tasked with making this world one where his love is ever present.

It is an enormous challenge to ponder, and one that we cannot hesitate to undertake. Because, once we’ve become awake to injustice and hate, we cannot go back to sleep. We must make the leap, jump into the void, do the scariest things, to set the world to right, with the faith that while we running into danger, we are truly coming home.