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Archive for July, 2008

Mid-life poetry crisis

After my heady dip into Mary Oliver’s Red Bird, I decided to go back through my own poetry collection. Now that I’m *cough*40*cough,* I thought it’d be a good time to reevaluate whether or not I really need to continue carting these books through life with me — and whether they really are worth the shelf space, which becomes more and more of a premium in this growing family.

Some things have not stood the test of time, and I will soon be carting them to my Half Price Bookstore. But SOME things are even more delicious at mid-life. Badmom, I don’t have enough Keats in this house to indulge fully; but I found a few things in anthologies, one of which describes his writing as “sensuous” and “intellectual.” (Well, THAT’s got Badmom written all over it!)

MY new best friend is Carl Sandburg. I’m not even sure where I picked up this 1960 copy of Harvest Poems. But how FUN to read all the Chicago poems now that we live in, um, CHICAGO! When we were in SC, we lived about an hour from Connemara, his goat farm in NC where he spent the last 20 years of his life. I’m not sure where I’m going with this except to say, I’ve always enjoyed learning about him and digging into his work. There are some treasures in “Harvest Poems.” Here’s one that hit me where I live in the dog days of summer. From p. 25, “Red and White”:

Nobody picks a red rose when the winter wind howls and the
white snow blows among the fences and storm doors.
Nobody watches the dreamy sculptures of snow when the sum-
mer roses blow red and soft in the garden yards and corners
O I have loved red roses and O I have loved white snow–
dreamy drifts winter and summer–roses and snow.

And from p. 74, “Primer Lesson,”:

Look out how you use proud words.
when you let proud words go, it is
not easy to call them back
They wear long boots, hard boots; they
walk off proud; they can’t hear you
calling–
Look out how you use proud words.

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I saw this meme over at Monica‘s, and it seemed to fit perfectly with this post about introspection I’ve had brewing for awhile.

I think I was probably born introspective. I was due on July 4, but I wasn’t born until over 3 weeks later (that was back in the day when they let the little babies percolate in there for awhile). My decision-making style is, shall we say, deliberative. As the youngest of 4 girls, I continued to develop my introspective nature. There was always something going on in the house to watch, analyze, or ruminate upon.

As I grew older and these innate patterns of thinking burned deeper and deeper into my brain, they sometimes occasionally frequently became a problem. Especially after I had my first child, fear often consumed me. (What if she dies?) This post describes where I was and where I ended up at that stage of my life, albeit briefly.

I slowly began to unpack years of unconscious behavior. I began to recognize and confess worry and fear. I began to cede control of my daughter’s life to her maker. She was His child and He would never leave her or forsake her. I clung tenaciously to Roman’s 12:2 and 2 Cor. 10:5. I think I thought that if I just introspected properly, all would be well.

Ironically, after a couple of years of blog reading and a year of blog keeping, I’ve come to see that some things are not worth the time we devote to introspecting upon them. Some thoughts, I just need to lay at the foot of the cross and forget. Some thoughts are not the treasures I once thought they were as I turned them over and over and over and over again and again in my mind smoothing and polishing, smoothing and polishing them.

This summer, my small group Bible study is reading and discussing Joanna Weaver’s Having a Mary Spirit. Weaver articulates this realization perfectly on p. 119:

“…it isn’t enough to take thoughts captive. According to 2 Corinthians 10:5, I must also bring them into obedience to Christ. Which means that, after exposing the lies with truth, I need to promptly hand them over to Jesus.

This is especially important for me, because I tend to place my thoughts under the microscope of self-introspection and study them so intently that I become captivated by the very thoughts I’ve captured. I overanalyze and over-scrutinize to the point that the thoughts I once imprisoned imprison me.

Back away from the microscope, people. I still believe in an examined life. And I still love to think and analyze things. But I continually rely on God to show me the balance between healthy introspection and unhealthy thinking that is simply a waste of my time.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. ~Ps. 19:14

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Go see more pics from a family fun day at the Milwaukee Art Museum at my man’s blog. If you like art and live anywhere close to Milwaukee, you must visit this museum. It is fabulous.

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Salad days

Hey everybody! Look how our garden grows.

This corn’s a redhead!

Those *&%^ Japanese beetles keep eating my basil, but I WILL have pesto.

Lettuce! I’ve already harvested about half of what was there. We could never grow lettuce in South Carolina, so this is a special treat for us. I confess I always feel a little naughty pulling greens out of the yard and then bringing them inside to eat. I half-expect to hear my mom’s voice saying, “You can’t eat that! You just pulled it out of the dirt!”

But isn’t it pretty? And delicious.

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Gayle of Grace4Gayle and Grocery Cart Challenge is hosting a recipe swap. This week’s edition is all about cheap dinner recipes.

If you haven’t been over, you should go check out her blog. She is a real frugal self-starter. I love all her creative “recipes” for things we don’t necessarily need to buy. She really challenges me to think outside my frugal box.

This is one of my mom’s very few “signature” recipes. We had it all the time when I was a child, and I HATED it — mostly because I was convinced I hated tuna fish. And my mom insisted on putting raw onions in this recipe, which crunched when I bit into them and squirted tangy onion juice into the nether regions of my mouth. (But I’m not high maintenance or a whiner…I know I’m really sellin’ it.)

The good news is, now I love this recipe. It makes me so nostalgic for my childhood. This has always been “the one” recipe I turn to when we have nothing else. I keep a can of tuna on hand just for such an occasion. And I have made a very few minor OCD modifications to the recipe, which of course make ALL the difference. I will admit, my children are not particularly fond of this casserole, which is why I dubbed it “Mermaid Casserole” in an effort to make it more appealing. Because clearly, this is what mermaids eat. I’m sure my kids will look back with fondness on this recipe, when they are old like me and force feeding it to their kids.

1 c. hot milk
2 T butter, melted
1 c. shredded cheese
1 c. bread crumbs
1 egg
1 T onion, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
dash pepper
1 can tuna
4 oz cooked noodles

This is a mix and bake kind of casserole. It bakes at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. I usually either saute the onion or throw it in a pan with the milk and butter to soften and soak up their flavor. I also add the salt and pepper to the milk and melted butter so things are distributed more evenly throughout the casserole. My mom used to leave big hunks of tuna here and there, so I am also pretty anal about mixing everything evenly throughout. At our house, this was always served with tiny peas, so I just go ahead and mix them into the casserole now. And my husband has added his signature touch of baby biscuits baked on top. This dish is excellent served with potato chips, which also increases the kid friendly factor exponentially. I like to load each bite on top of a chip…salty heaven.

Enjoy, thrifty friends.

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The above title is dedicated to Gayle (I just thought you’d like it)

So, while we were on vacation, our cat died. Not the cat pictured above; that would be Summer, our new cat, who my daughter proceeded to theoretically pick out and give imaginary names to the afternoon she found out of Booger’s demise — after she shed her tears for Booger, of course.

Our old cat, Booger, was 16 years old. She had been in declining health for a couple of years. At her age, I knew she might suffer a little in our absence, but I honestly didn’t expect her to kick the bucket. Seems she got an infected tooth, which meant she stopped eating well, which meant she didn’t get her thyroid medicine which was hidden in her food, which meant she got a blood clot, which meant her back legs became paralyzed, which meant her kidneys began to shut down, which meant the housesitter had to decipher these unfolding events and take her into the vet, (which meant I probably shouldn’t have made jokes about this unlikely eventuality to the housesitter), which meant, sadly, Booger eventually died. God was gracious through this unfortunate turn of events because I really didn’t relish making all of these decisions solo and long distance, but in an answer to prayer, the necessary decisions that needed to be made were very clear.

Booger was big and furry and magnificent and aloof and loved to be admired and adored…mostly from a distance. Within the last two or three years, I noticed that my daughter began lobbying for us to ‘nickname’ Booger Snowflake or Princess, mostly so she wouldn’t have to actually tell people that her cat’s name was Booger. So it seemed clear that a playful and affectionate kitten named Summer would suit her needs quite nicely. Welcome to the family, Summer. And rest in peace, Booger, old friend.

Edited to add: Poor Booger. This is the only digital pic I could find of her. (She’s the one in the back)

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Last night, I finished Red Bird, a book of poems by Mary Oliver. Loved it. Here’s a gem from p. 37, a bit of a poem called “Sometimes:”

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

Well. There it is then. That about sums it up.

This book is full of wonderful poems — and wonderful bird poems.

My grandmother studied ornithology at Cornell in the 1920′s. When I was getting married, I started noticing birds EVerywhere; and their songs were so loud, and varied, and rich. I was sure they were congratulating me, welcoming me into their little lovebird club. My groom and I lived in our “love grotto,” as we liked to call it, the top floor of an old house redone into three apartments, where we set out birdseed and watched the love birds flock.

Of course, my two favorite poems from this book…not bird poems… Here is a fabulous one from p. 46 called “Of the Empire.”

We will be known as a culture that feared death
and adored power, that tried to vanquish insecurity
for the few and cared little for the penury of the
many. We will be known as a culture that taught
and rewarded the amassing of things, that spoke
little if at all about the quality of life for
people (other people), for dogs, for rivers. All
the world, in our eyes, they will say, was a
commodity. And they will say that this structure
was held together politically, which it was, and
they will say also that our politics was no more
than an apparatus to accommodate the feelings of
the heart, and that the heart, in those days,
was small, and hard, and full of meanness.

Ouch. Must. read. more. poetry. Got any recommendations?

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I’m playing in church tomorrow. Pray for me!

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Here are some pics from our adventures in the city last week:

My man on the water taxi…a great way to travel.


The weather was GOR…JUS.

Lunch. (As in tavern, not meat).

He wanted the crust off his cheeseburger…WHAT?!

Me and the kids

Aspiring f@shion model

She also fights pirates!

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Be a blessing

Today’s small thing:

Order a free Olympic prayer band from Voice of the Martyrs and pray for China during the Olympics.

Thanks to Money Saving Mom for publishing this link in her freebies post.

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