Sunday, December 26, 2010

The 25 Days of December

The first 25 days of the month are over now, and the challenge to post a photo per day completed. I had a photo for each day, and only one was posted late.

So now it is done, and it accomplished my unspoken task. I caught the blogging itch again. I may not have a photo for each post, and I certainly won't get them up daily, but I will be more regular with them, working to share my thoughts in this space, out there for all the world to see.

Please continue to read and continue to comment. Your words back to me confirm that my words were not just spoken into the void. As God-like as that would be, I'm fairly sure that this creation wouldn't get the same result. No earth and sky, land and sea, plants and animals. So I look for your words, to know that I have created something.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


A child was born on Christmas Day
Born to save the world
But long before the world began
He knew His death was sure
The pain and strife secured

Mystery, how He came
To be a man
But greater still
How His death was in His plan
God predestined that His Son would die
And He still created man
Oh, what love is this
That His death was in His hands

The Christmas trees
They glow so bright
With presents all around
But Christmas brought
A tree of life
With blood that sacrificed
The greatest gift in life

Mystery, how He came
To be a man
But greater still
How His death was in His plan
God predestined that His Son would die
And He still created man
Oh, what love is this
That His death was in His hands

I am just a man and
Can?t begin to comprehend
When You look into this traitor?s eyes
What do You see that justifies the Lamb

God predestined that His
Son would die
And He still created man
Oh, what love is this
That His death was in His plan
Mystery, mystery

Music and Lyrics by Selah

Friday, December 24, 2010


It's high time I show off my nieces and nephew in this lot of photos. So I figured I'd start with Mr. Handsome, who though he certainly has the word "Cheese!" down, ignored the camera the best.
But just so you don't think I have favorites, here are the Bear and the Bug...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

You see, there's this book...

There are some books that I always have in the back of my mind when I'm in used book stores or wandering the wide web. They're often the ones from childhood which are just so worn (after all, even if they were just given to my sisters and not passed down from our mom, they'd been through nearly 10 years of children before I was even born!) that they won't last to another generation.

Some have been "easy" finds - they've been reprinted in another edition, and while they don't have quite the charm of the old books, they do - the story is still there. Others have proven more difficult.

One in particular is The Big Jump-Up Animal Book, which, if it were as boring as its title I would care nothing about. But it's not. I' s the kind of book you just can't judge by its cover. There's this lovely story within of five jungle animal friends who need food, so they all go out searching but can't find anything. When they gather again, they realize that the giraffe is missing, and so they go searching for him, only to find that he has discovered a feast of food, but, since he has no voice, he couldn't call out to them to help him carry it back.

It's a great story, with beautiful illustrations, and yes, "jump-up" animals, but honestly, that's the least appealing factor of the book. But that's its title, making it all the more difficult to find.

So, I'll continue the search; Google on my side, I shall persevere. And maybe, just maybe, one day I'll find a copy with the binding still intact.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Making Christmas Gifts

My mom is going to be the rocking-est Grammy in this hemisphere this Christmas.
She just did awesome work.

Beauty - in new forms

Beauty has taken on a new definition since I got nieces and nephews. There's something truly beautiful in the scribbles of a child, drawn just for me.
Great art? No.
Beautiful, though.

Monday, December 20, 2010

If only it were Euchre...

Playing "cahds" a time-honored family tradition, passed down from a bunch of MKs on one side and an adopted uncle nicknamed "Bones" on the other, is something I miss when I'm not at home. I just don't get the opportunity to play much when I'm not with my family.

The primo game in our repertoire was introduced by my not-sister-in-law Katrina when she married in: Hand and Foot - or, as I like to call it, "Hoof and Mouth." We're rather particular about our rules for the game, and rules that deviate from ours are promptly labeled "Cheater rules."

It's a good game, and tonight was pretty competitive until the final hand, when Dad decided to finish off in style, and it has introduced words and phrases into my vocabulary which have now become normal, such as:

Befooted - the state of being in one's foot, rather than one's hand
[said with scorn]: "Dirty Queen!"
and, last, but not least,
"Red three. Very bad."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

House of Books

"A house without books is like a room without windows." ~Heinrich Mann

People marvel at my bookshelves when they come to my apartment...I come home and realize that I come by it honestly.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ticket Stubs

Christine (bless her - wonderful roomie who mailed me the negatives I forgot so that I could work on a scanning project over break) gave me a "ticket stub album" for Christmas.

For a while now, basically since college, I've kept my ticket stubs when I go to movies and shows. I've tossed them into a little box in a drawer, thinking someday I'd do something with them.

Well, this delightful person paid attention to that, and found me "something" to do with them...

I began to organize them this evening when I got home (HOME, to Michigan!), and just had to stop and think for a moment about the experience of movie going. I read somewhere once that movies should be watched in theatres because you get a community experience that you just can't replicate even in the best living room set-up.

Sure, I could look at all these stubs and say, "gee whiz, that was money I could have used elsewhere." But, rather, I look at them and think, "Oh, that was the time I was sitting between Natey and Paul when they wanted to talk about football during Remember the Titans" or "Oh! That's the movie Loren and Kraig and I went to the first time they left Keren with the grands after she was born."

I look at these stubs, and more than anything, I remember the people I saw the movies with. Hmm...maybe movies really are about community.

Sunset at 70

Driving down the Turnpike at 70 MPH makes it a little hard to take photos...and then to get them posted when you're visiting friends is a little rough, too.

So here's yesterday's:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Up Five Ghetto Notches"

A week ago we turned on the TV.

Sound came out.

No picture.

Currently our TV is nothing more than an immensely large speaker. Immensely.

So I will have to get a new one, some time. But, well, there just isn't time right this moment. I mentioned the situation to my coworker, Jodi, and she offered an extra TV they had sitting in their garage as a fill in.

I happily accepted the offer and brought home the TV the other night. Not able to do with the old one yet, I set the borrowed set on a small table in front of the old one. Then I went to hook it up.

But here's the thing. The borrowed set only has a mono audio plug in. And I only have a stereo audio cable.

So, as a solution, we improvised. Currently the video cable is going into the borrowed set. The audio cables, then, are going into that massive video-less speaker sitting behind it.

Christine laughed at me. And then she declared that our apartment just went up five ghetto notches.

But hey, we both appreciate that we've got a TV.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


There are times that my family's long connection with the institution where I work is complicated, but more often than not it is a benefit.

Sometimes it is funny. Sometimes it is bittersweet. Sometimes, it's just nice.

This morning my boss said, "I need someone to start a 'Centennial' box."

I volunteered.

So, sitting on my desk, looking for a place to live for a couple of years as we prepare for the University's Centennial, is an old magazine with my grandfather on the cover. The photo is totally 80s. The issue was actually published a few months after I was born. But right now, it's sitting on my desk, and my grandfather is there. And it's just nice.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

10th Hour Breakfast

Eggs, waffles, pancakes, bacon, sausage, cereal, name it, 10th Hour Breakfast has it.

Yes, that's breakfast. In the 10th hour post meridian (aka 10 pm). For 300 students. Who sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas" table by table, led by the Jazz Band.

Welcome to Finals Week.

Monday, December 13, 2010


"What Jesus said to [Mary in John 12], and those around Him as well including Judas, was 'she has done a beautiful thing and wherever the Gospel is preached what she has done will be remembered.' That is an amazing commendation for someone like me who tends to work from the heart, who tends to work with precious and costly materials. I remember that the extravagance of Christ’s love for me prompted an extravagant response. Eventually, I came to connect what I do as an artist with Mary’s devotional act. Maybe that is the one act we can look to as the centerpiece for a paradigm of creativity."
~Makoto Fujimura

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Men will grow in the oven.

I few weeks ago I needed to make cookies, and I had a hankering for gingerbread. And I also had molasses in the cupboard. And in the back of my brain was a memory that the best gingerbread cookies I'd ever had were from a Christmas recipe book that my uncle and aunt gave my mom for Christmas about 15 years ago.

So I called up my mom and described the book and the recipe I was looking for...the description went something like this: "It's the one Uncle Paul and Aunt Elaine gave you one year. Sort-of country-ish? Christmassy, though. Yeah, and there's a recipe in there. It's either for molasses cookies or gingerbread cookies. I don't remember what they're called. Oh, gingerbread? Yeah, with molasses in the recipe. Yep, that's them. Can you email me that recipe?"

I ran by the store and picked up a couple items I was missing and I came home to print off my mom's email - and opened it, and read through, and began to laugh.

The final instructions read like this: "Add more flour if making gingerbread men. Cut them out and place them on the sheet. Men will grow in the oven."

And my mom had added: "(yes the recipe says just that) :) See if any men grow in YOUR oven."

None did. Much as I tried. Instead, cookies came out. And they were a hit. A HUGE hit. All the college girls that ate them loved them. More than men.

I need cookies again this week. So I decided to see if men would grow in my oven again.

Still no men. But awfully good cookies.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I wish...

I wish I could say I had this delightful day wandering the streets of the City and topped it all with finding the perfect gift.

But, in reality, as most trips to the City do, it actually looked a lot like this:

And that perfect gift? The almost perfect one I found was about twice what I'd that won't work.

But, after all, I can say the day was nice.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Freedom to Flee - er, Fly

I get itchy feet. I haven't often, in recent years, gotten to indulge their itchiness. But I get them, just the same.

Next spring, I get to go. Hop on a plane and cross an ocean.

But I needed to update my passport. It was nearly at the end of its life. So I sent it off for renewal, and for the past month have had this horrid feeling that, if I needed to, I couldn't leave the country. I mean, not even for Canada.

Today the new passport arrived in the mail, all stiff and computer-chippy and fancy. And, for another ten years, I can go wherever I want.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Bright Morning

At a biblical university, even the geese walk on water.

It made me laugh, which was a delight on this bright morning. My sister wrote about comic relief yesterday, at the end of the surgery. She likened the moment to the steam coming off a pressure cooker - laughter.

And this morning, in the bright sunshine, I gloried in the silhouettes of trees against the sunrise. It brought to mind the lyrics of a favorite carol: Disperse the gloomy clouds of night / And death's dark shadows put to flight.

And I laughed at the geese.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


In these dark, predawn hours I'm imagining the household awakening - ZEB crying a bit, his Nana or Grandpa comforting him. Mom's hands are busy with Meimei, his little sister, and they shake a little as she bathes her in the special soap and dresses her in the freshly laundered clothes. Dad helps out, or just stands behind Mom with a comforting hand on her shoulder.

And then they're off. And the hospital staff welcome them in. And the day begins; the day that a surgeon will fix Meimei's heart.

Through it all she's probably gurgling and charming. This baby girl who came into the world almost unobtrusively - she scheduled her appointment and kept it perfectly. She came home on time, without a fuss. She's lived the past four months in a home with a boisterous older brother and a great mom and dad, and lots of neighbors. Most of the time you would not think a thing is wrong - but from the very first day we thought today might come - just a little murmur through the stethescope - but it could lead to this.

Today is the day, though, that it gets fixed. And we'll all breathe a little easier.

So I look at the picture of the baby on my fridge, flanked by her brother, overlooked by her grandparents, kitty-corner from an old card from a friend that says, "HONK! Fact # 4 - Geese in formation honk at each other as a means of encouragement." And I think of all the "geese" honking for Meimei today, and I trust that God hears those honks, and I look forward to tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The things we don't see

I've walked past the display for months now. I helped, a little, in setting it up. I have my favorite pieces - the mask with the enormous beak, the woven rugs.

But I never saw this one before.

Forced to go and take more photos of the Charis: boundary crossing exhibit for a project I'm working on, my eyes were suddenly opened to the simple beauty of one piece - tucked away in a corner, its neutral tones almost blending into the wall behind it. Perhaps it was the spilling rice that caught my eye. Or the rose petals. Maybe just the brown paper, so different than the garish gold, green, and red typical of this season.

I don't know why I saw it this time. But I love it.

Oblation, 2008
by Jo-Ann VanReeuwyk, United States, Canadian
Fiber; variable size installation

Monday, December 06, 2010

Why He Came

For he grew up before him like a young plant,

and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men;

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

by God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the LORD has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Crazy, Small-Town Parades

I thought that the small-town parade had been left behind me in Glennallen when I moved here from Alaska - really, who could compete with the shutting down of a main highway for 45 minutes at the height of tourist season so that the Electric Company and Parks Service can drive big trucks down the road and throw candy to the crowd.

But Newtown almost compares. There is a whole lot of character - and a bunch of characters, too.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Textures of the 18th Century

You know those days that are just right? The ones where you wake up in the morning, having slept just enough, and you get up, and you do the things you need to do to get the day rolling, but no more. The ones where you take a walk, pick up a hot cocoa at Starbucks, stop in at the jeweler's and find that you only owe four dollars for your fixed earrings, and then continue your meander down the street. As you go you pass the Tubby Olive and the Grapevine Grocer, the Lubavitch and the Newtown Borough Hall. Flakes begin to fall as you approach your destination, the Newtown Theatre, and you cross the street to the chattering voices of children, coming out from their viewing of The Polar Express to the sight of snowflakes.

You make your way inside, buy your ticket, and find a seat, thrilling in the old red curtain that covers the screen and the miniature town and train that stretch from side to side of the stage. And a few moments later the lights dim, and the curtains open, and you take a trip back to your childhood as you watch a Disney fairytale and melt into your seat at the song where the hero and the heroine fall in love.

It's those days that make you think that it can't get much better. That this must be the pinnacle, but you realize that it's only 3 PM and you still have much to do. You walk back out into the chilly town and you remember that the Half-Moon Inn is open for visitors, so you wander back through the streets, approach the stone building at the corner of Center and Court, and reach your hand out to open the door...

And that's when you realize you were wrong. Because, as much as the day had been perfect so far, it only got better when you stepped back two centuries into the wood, metal, and stone of an old inn, full of the smells of crackling fires, mulled cider, and roasting duck.

After all that, the best part of your day were the textures of a lost century.