Sunday, October 30, 2005

Context -- please read this before reading backwards

Somehow I think I've gotten over a hump of some sort. I went back this morning and edited and posted some old posts, one of which I never posted or posted only briefly, and now I have split up and reposted ("Crabby Old Earthmama" and "Revisiting parenting...") and the other was posted but was way too long, so I split it up and reposted the pieces ("Yoga", "Anne Bradstreet..." and "Babysitting news...", which is still probably too long.) "Crabby Old Earthmama", in the September archives, details some of my feelings about posting my opinions, especially w.r.t. "Revisiting Parenting".

Maybe I'm getting over my fear of writing-for-other-people-to-read. [Hmmm... is that a good thing or a bad thing? And does anybody besides Emily read this stuff anyway?] In any case, I have to stop writing now and go work on other things.

Blessings to all!!

for you Veggies and especially you possible future Veggies out there...

My friend Sally Kneidel has written a new book (her 11th!) and it is about the rationale for being vegetarian. It includes recipes as well. I started reading it last night, and it is great!! I hope all of you reading this will pick up a copy and see what you think.

Sally is an excellent writer, and collaborated on this book with her daughter, Sarah Kate Kneidel. I haven't read much of it yet but even the introductory sections are quite fascinating.

One of the things I really like about this book is that its tone is not strident; Sarah Kate and Sally present the information in a matter of fact way and let the readers decide for themselves how to feel and what to do about the material.

Sally and Sarah Kate did a ton of research for this book. I can tell you first-hand that when Sally is working on a book, she takes her subject very seriously; it is never far from her mind. I had the pleasure of accompanying her on a trip to New Town Farms, which she writes about in the book. It was fascinating not just to see the farm and hear the farmer talk about his work but to see how Sally conducted the interview.

Reading this book is an experience like no other I've had... I can hear Sally's voice when I am reading the book, so it is more like being read to than reading, actually. And I love being read to!
I'll post more about the book later, when I've read further.

Daylight Saving Time

Did you set your clock back?

What did you do with the extra hour?

Here's a heads up for those of you who like to be in the know on what's coming up:

"On August 8, 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This Act changed the time change dates for Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. Beginning in 2007, DST will begin on the second Sunday of March and end the first Sunday of November. The Secretary of Energy will report the impact of this change to Congress. Congress retains the right to revert the Daylight Saving Time back to the 2005 time schedule once the Department of Energy study is complete." (From the Webexhibits article on "Daylight Saving Time", link above.)

I really hate DST, but I guess it just doesn't do any good to rail against it.

Faith and Possessions

So, the lecture yesterday morning. It was great!! There were lots of people I know there, some of whom I don't see often, so I had a good time talking with them. But more than that, Luke Johnson is a very engaging speaker, and he knows what he is talking about. There were three major points of his talk that struck me: First, his discussions of the language around possessions: rich vs. poor, being vs. having (he credits Gabriel Marcel here, see this link and mystery vs. problem; second, the importance of the intentional community, along with its role (for lack of a better word here); and third, his definition of idolatry and discussions around that term. I'm getting a cd of the talk, and I'm sure all of these ideas are discussed thoroughly in his books, but I want to expand on the third point here, mostly so I don't forget it. He talked about how we are born longing to center on something. It is when we center on something other than God (or "our Higher Power", in 12-step language) that we begin to have a "deep disordering of freedom" -- idolatry -- and it when we center on God (or H.P.) that we have faith. Both begin at the same place, he says: our experience of our own closeness to death at every moment. In response to a comment during the Q & A at the end of the talk, he suggested that we "spend our lives oscillating between idolatry and faith."
The talk was both affirming and challenging, and made me realize again that I am not alone in my conviction that Christianity and the Christian community must be countercultural in some very fundamental ways.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

listening to Arlo

I'm just here, chipping away at the chaos in my office, thinking about you-all and listening to my new Arlo cd, Live in Sydney... I think that had to have been a hard concert for Arlo to play, as the audience seems to be just sitting there quietly listening to Arlo's stories, with none of the usual catcalls and other audience wildness that happens here in the 'States. He even tries to get them riled up a few times, with mixed results. Well, anyway, it's a good cd from the standpoint of the music and the stories. Maybe the audience will get more crazy on the other cd (it's a 2-cd set.) I've been trying to get time to sit and listen to this for days, ever since it came in the mail (thanks, Liz!) Office cleaning gives me the perfect opportunity. Speaking of which, it's slow-going... So far there is a little space in the closet that wasn't there before, and about 8 inches on a bookshelf has opened up. I was going to get rid of a whole pile of math books but haven't been able to let myself part with as many as I had hoped. Does anyone want the math puzzle books I'm giving away? I'm keeping the Martin Gardner books and a couple others (unless one of you would like to have them), but there are a number of others that are in the giveaway bag. Maybe I'll post a list of the discards before I get rid of them. There are other books to go besides these, including maybe some cookbooks and a bunch of "Key to" workbooks -- hmmm, maybe I ought to take those to John and Brenda.... Does anyone want my three-volume set of American Religions?
Gotta run, I've got a sitting job tonight. Been doing a lot of that lately. I'll be back on the office cleaning tomorrow afternoon. Must make space for Dan -- he'll be here in five days!!

Don't forget to turn your clocks back tonight, and get an extra hour of sleep (or whatever...)


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Anne Bradstreet and Luke Timothy Johnson

My reading the past week has been a book about Anne Bradstreet, the author of the poem I read at L and T's wedding a few weeks ago. It is Mistress Bradstreet: The Untold Life of America's First Poet, by Charlotte Gordon. I don't know how I got caught up in this -- I have about six other books, at least, waiting to be read -- but it is for some reason very fascinating to me at this particular moment to read about this particular woman. It has a lot to do with the way it is so carefully written, I think. It is obvious that Ms. Gordon did a tremendous amount of research. She tries to get inside the mind of her subject and discern how it must have felt to be in the unimaginably difficult situations Anne B. found herself in, including spending nine or ten weeks on a ship with the other emigrants to America (her first and only experience with sea travel) and, upon landing on the shores of what is now Massachusetts in the early summer of 1930, finding that the settlement where this group of Puritans were supposed to be wintering in a couple of months was pretty much non-existent. They had little hope of finding adequate supplies and building reasonably warm shelters in order to get through the winter. Consequently, 200 of the settlers in this group of about 700 died that first winter. I think I, and most of my contemporaries, would find that rather daunting!! But Anne B. and her little group persevered.

Next Saturday I am hoping to go to a talk on "Faith and Possessions" by Luke Timothy Johnson, a professor from Emory University. From what I have been able to read about him on the web, it promises to be a great lecture. It would be interesting to hear him talk on the topic of his interview (if you haven't already done so, click on his name above for the link to the interview -- it's at the bottom of the page the link takes you to) but that isn't an option this time. If you live in the Charlotte area and want more info, click here.

That's about it for now...time to get ready to go to Mass. More later!

All blessings!!

Babysitting news...

More babysitting this weekend... Last night for a three-year-old girl, and the night before for a 6.5-yr-old boy and an 8.5-yr-old girl whom I have sat for before, about 14 months ago. The latter are the kids whose trampoline I jumped on with them last year. The trampoline is temporarily out of commission so we didn't repeat that experience, but we played games for awhile (each of which sparked its own unique spat between brother and sister) and then we came across a book of string games (Cat's Cradle, etc.) and I found out they had not learned any of this yet, so I taught them (or attempted to, anyway) how to do Cat's Cradle and the Cup and Saucer, which were the only ones I could recall in the short time we had before their bedtime. They were fascinated. I wish I'd had J, F, and E there to do the teaching -- all were much more accomplished at this than I. :-)
Last night's job was really different... The little girl was very sweet; she is going through an extended princess phase and wears her Cinderella [princess] costume (complete with "glass" slippers) all the time, her parents tell me. And of course it was endearing that she appreciated my rendition of "I See the Moon and the Moon sees me..." and the Milne poem that begins "John had Great big waterproof boots on...." (I'm going to have to relearn more stuff by heart for these occasions! I ran out of material pretty fast.) It was a relatively uneventful sit (except for the 2-yr-old cocker spaniel who tried to eat my spaghetti) but it made me feel all the more sympathetic for today's parents and the unique challenges they face. I talked with the parents a little after they got home about some of the issues. Mostly our talk centered around two issues: the difficulty in learning how to manage children's exposure to various electronic media in our high-tech society -- there being not much precedent in past generations; and the isolation of children from other children in the after-school hours, unless they are in day care, due to the small numbers of children (and parents) who are at home during in the day now. We were reminiscing about how in our youth, and in my kids' growing up years, children played outside so much. (In another conversation earlier this week the same topic came up, and people reminisced about what games they played outside. One remembered "Sling the Biscuit", which apparently was like a game I played with my friends, "Statues". Others remembered "Capture the Flag" and "Red Rover".)
I talked some in a former post about the media issue... Judging from my limited experience with child care kids the past 15 months or so, children of all ages are not just watching more tv than a couple of generations ago, but allowed to choose more for themselves when and how long to watch, even though parents do seem to be limiting their choices somewhat of what to watch. I don't know if parents now are unaware of the well-documented negative effects on children of watching tv or if they know of this but find it too difficult to regulate this. It is a complicated issue, for sure, and something each family must figure out for themselves. Parents don't want their children to grow up ignorant about media, but how to help children learn what it is and how to use it judiciously without them getting hooked on it? Our family's solution was to not allow the children to watch tv except very occasionally and under very specific circumstances, and for my part I decided to wean myself off tv, and didn't watch except on rare occasions for many years (and this is still pretty much the case.) I don't know if this was the best solution, it just seemed like it would be easier than allowing tv, having it readily available (ours was tucked into a corner of the basement play area), and then having to constantly monitor and regulate the activity.
I'll post some links to resources about the media issue (websites and books) in my lists on this site.


Looking back over my week...
I went to yesterday's Yoga "levels I and II" class at the YWCA, and met Alison, whom Emily recommended as a fabulous teacher. She is a warm person, very positive, very knowledgeable, and a teacher who is relatively easy to follow (considering that I have very little idea of what I am doing, still.) I was especially impressed by how she takes her time to get to know new people -- she came over to me before starting the class and welcomed me and asked my name. She is also very aware of the class as a small community: she cares about each member and took the time to have everybody share their name and a little about themselves before starting our practice. (I gather she doesn't do this every time, but just occasionally.) She also took a minute or two to talk about what it means, the "practice" of yoga. The students in the Saturday morning class have been together, most of them, for quite awhile; yesterday there was only one other real beginner besides me. They asked Alison how her baby was doing, and she said fine, and related the detail that now, at six weeks, he is starting to smile a lot, and she is really enjoying that. (So there's an update for you, Em, on what Alison's been up to lately!) I reluctantly left the class a few minutes early to get home for an appointment with a student. I probably won't be able to get back to this class for about 6 weeks because of things going on for the next five Saturdays, but I hope eventually I will get to be more of a regular attendee. In the meantime I have checked out a yoga dvd from the library to try to get in more practice. Also I checked out a Pilates dvd. Will let you know in a future post what they are, if they are any good. Maybe if I get regular with this stuff, I won't be so sore afterwards!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

domestic violence

Last night I went to an information session about volunteer opportunities with Child and Family Services working in the area of Domestic Violence. It was very interesting. I knew already a little bit about all of the areas that the presenters talked about, but I learned a lot more in detail about the various ways to help. There were four major areas: being a support to rape victims by phone and in the hospital (emergency room), connecting with and supporting domestic violence victims at Carolinas Medical Center, helping out in a variety of ways at the Shelter for Battered Women, and being a support person in the courtroom for victims of domestic violence (mostly when they are seeking a restraining order.) I haven't figured out yet what I can do, but I do want to participate in some way. There is a tremendous need for volunteers in all these areas.
In the meantime, I have connected up with a friend of a friend to do some work with students in a low-income neighborhood in northeast Charlotte, one evening a week. There is another possibility for volunteering that I haven't explored yet, working in a middle school. I don't know where I will go with that. And I don't know why at this point, volunteering has become such an intense interest for me. I have been doing a lot of volunteer work for a lot of years, so it is not like I feel guilty for not doing anything to help in the community! I guess I just see such a need, and I have always been an idealistic person, believing that one person can make a difference, change is possible, etc. And I believe that all this extra energy that I have ought to be spent doing something worthwhile, helping others.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Today's been interesting, sometimes frustrating, and only moderately productive. But I wanted to relate one thing in particular that was a victory for me: I finally went to my first yoga class! This may not seem remarkable to most people but several people very close to me who have been trying to convince me for years to try yoga will be glad to know that the seeds they planted have finally taken root. Thanks to all for your encouragement! What finally convinced me to go was rather simple: desperation. I have been cooped up inside for several days due to work, lack of transportation (my car was in the shop for 50 hours or so), incessant but badly needed rain, and lack of motivation, and about 5:30 I caught myself headed to the sofa for another evening of reading and napping. "Enough of this!" I said, and headed off to the YWCA, where the only class tonight was YOGA. The rest is history. I still love Pilates, though. I hope to do more of both.... By the way, I enjoyed the class, but I had to do easier poses at many points in the class. The instructor was very helpful in this regard, and also commented on my good position several times. Must be the Pilates training.
p.s. My favorite pose is The Corpse :-)