Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hunkering Down

Compared to the snow that's being dumped up in Juneau, it's silly to complain about a little freezing rain. But, hey, most people in Washington are LOUSY at driving in snow and ice. So tomorrow morning when it's icy outside, I plan to be inside with my family and a cup of hot cocoa (like Mom used to make) and a good book. And I'll stay home until the ice melts away, unless, of course, the power goes out, in which case I'll venture out to sip the hot cocoa by the woodstove with Mom.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

One Nostril At a Time

You learn the funniest things on late night TV. Last night I learned that Cameron Diaz can only breathe through one nostril, the left one. I lay awake thinking about that as my own nose was completely plugged. Did you ever notice that even when both are working, most people only breathe through one nostril at a time?

I used to be a multi-tasker, up to my eyebrows in fourteen different projects. Now, though, I've lost that ability. I have to concentrate on one thing at a time. If I try to do too much at once, nothing is done well.

I'm feeling that pressure to do a bunch of different things right now. I just got back to town an hour ago and my calendar has already filled every night for the next week. So I'm back. That doesn't mean I have to do every thing that comes my way.

I need to take it slow.

I need to breathe through one nostril at a time.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Shared Experience

It was strange moving back to America after being away. Americans have a national identity, a common experience bank, that revolves around the TV schedule.

Did you see the news?

Can you believe what's happening on Survivor?

How 'bout them Mets?

It reminds me of the main character on the movie Scrooged. (Now just because I mention it doesn't mean I recommend it). He kept talking about his Christmas memories. In one memory, he pictured himself running through a field of wheat, then the big snow set in and it was only because Mr. Edwards forded the swollen creek that he and his sisters got a tin cup and a penny in their stockings. In another memory, he was hurt, but the dog ran to get help. All his happiest memories were not his at all, but television moments that he took as his own. Think Little House on the Prairie and Lassie.

What memories will you make tomorrow? Will they center around the big game (Denver vs. Kansas City will be on the set here) and the Thanksgiving Day Parade, or will you make your own happy times?

I sit at my mother-in-law's kitchen island breathing in scents of stuffing and rising bread and I'm thankful for the chance for my kids to make new memories with their cousins.

May many happy memories and many blessings deserving of thanks be yours.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Walking Together

Hot air tanks breathed fire with hissing breath into the belly of a great balloon overhead. Other floating behomeths descended on the city in the warming morning air, their fatness rounding out the ever-changing Albuquerque skyline.
It's been 20 years since my first visit to this beautiful city. We chased a balloon then, Edwin and I, thrilling in new experiences and young love. I didn't like the Southwest on that first visit. It was too dry, too brown, too foreign. The family was so loud and there were so MANY of them. Some things take time to grow on you, though.
Now the family is even bigger since we and Edwin's siblings have added 13 little ones to the mix. They come with their quirks and personalities and I love them all. The city has grown on me, too. I love the sight of chilis hanging from every porch, the scent of sagebrush, horses, and dust, the taste of beans and chilis and fresh tea.
We walked beneath the balloons this morning, a brisk morning stroll, slower than 20 years ago, but quicker than 20 years hence. I'm glad I've gotten to know this place, these people. I'm happy that it's still Edwin by my side.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Semantics, Schemantics

Today, according to the U.S. government, there are no longer any hungry people in America. Great news, huh?

Great except the only thing we did to eradicate hunger was to change the terminology.

Now instead of being "hungry", people are considered to have "very low food security."

As if that helped the 35 million people affected feel any better. They still don't know where their next meal is coming from. They still forgo dinner so their children can eat.

I'm sorry, but does the department of Agriculture think we're stupid? No one, least of all the people with "low food security", is fooled by the optimism of this new phrasology. Give it to us straight and let us face challenges head on. For when you solve a problem merely by changing the words, you insult us and the people you're trying to help.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Those of you who follow this blog know that Mom's book has been a focus around here lately. First cover design and editing, then sending it off to the printer's, and now, dun-da-dun!-- her first book signing! Leave it to our family to have a signing at Dairy Queen, but it worked out perfectly-- books for the moms and ice cream for the kids.

Congratulations, Mom!

Contact me if you want to get a copy of JESSIE.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

It's Not News

Oregon just reelected its encumbant governor, Ted Kulongoski. The day after the campaign, he actually said the samrtest thing I've heard from any politician in a long time.

As you may know, we in the Northwest have had a very wet week. Rivers have flooded, roads washed out, houses have tumbled into streams and oceans. The governor declared a state of emergency. But first, he said something like this:

"This is Oregon. It rains in Oregon. It has rained in Oregon for as long as I remember. The Wilson River has overflowed its banks in heavy rain for as long as I can remember. The media has taken this yearly occurance and blown it up into a television event.

"Rain in Oregon is not news."

There you go, folks. Rain in Oregon is not news. It's supposed to rain in Oregon. Aren't you glad there's a man out there to keep this straight for us?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Rainy season-- not a term I normally connect to the Northwest, but this year, the rains have hit with a vengeance. I believe we've had 6 inches of rain in the past two days. Other parts of the state have had over 2 FEET since Thursday. Flooded streets, damp socks and carpets usher in the wet.

Every time I read a children's story about Noah's Ark, I wonder at the pictures of water serenely rising to cover rooftops, trees and mountains. Never mind the animals and people who went to their watery graves, Noah's story tends to emphasize the way God saved the cute critters and ignores how he wiped most of humankind off the earth.

I imagine it was horrific dying in the flood. The tsunami of southest Asia comes to mind. Pictures on TV show cars flooded, abandoned and swept away by water that rushes desparately toward the ocean. Pictures that, then multiply by a thousand, or a million.

Mercy and Judgment.

Truth and Grace.

Judge and Defense.

All come together in the story of the flood, a story of destruction and redemption. On days like this, I'm thankful that God won't destroy the world by flood again. And I keep my eyes open for a rainbow and the hope of God's promises.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

He Hears

I find it easy to get so caught up in the needs and wants and requests of the moment that I sometimes forget to go back and say thank you for the prayers God has already answered. There have been a lot this week.

Mom had 2 things worrying her today and noth of those worries have been wiped away.

A friend was having trouble with her knee and wasn't sure if she'd be able to get around on a planned trip to Europe. She not only got in to see a doctor, but he "happened" to have an opening for surgery right away. She came through safe and sound with time to heal before the voyage.

Another friend lost a filling while in Africa. We prayed for her trip to the dentist, that she would be safe, that the instruments would be sanitary. She found a dentist with a clean office, but when he looked at her teeth, he said there was nothing wrong at all.

Another friend (isn't it nice to have so many friends!) let God overcome her terror at singing in front of a crowd. I can't wait to hear her solo tonight.

Still ANOTHER friend took the kids last night and let Edwin and I have a much-needed date night.

We've known that we'd need to purchase a new car for a while, but we didn't have enough money set aside to get anything reliable. Just as the old car was sputtering to a stop, God provided enough money for us to buy a van, and we were able to find one that was priced well below value because of cosmetic damage.

Those are just a few of the prayers being answered around here. Any requests being fulfilled where you are?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

From Mayberry to Metropolis

Lest we think technology moves swiftly in the West, let me tell you about Tabligbo, Togo, a little town that has gone from Mayberry to Metropolis in twelve short years.

When we moved to Tabligbo in 1994, we put in requests for phone service. It took weeks for our requests to be filled. Finally, one of our teammates heard he would be getting his telephone turned on.

"How do you know?" he asked the bearer of the news.

"I saw the men coming down the road with your wire."

Sure enough, each house had to have a wire run from the Post Office (where the phone company was housed), which meant two men (one to work and one to supervise) had to roll the wire down the road and string it pole to pole.

We were the last family to get phone service, being the furthest stretch from the Post Office. In fact, the phone company had to use our truck to get the job done.

But, at last, we had a telephone... of sorts... and we could call anyone we wanted... sort of.

In order to place a call, we dialed the Telephone Operator who sat in a little closet in the back of the Post Office. "I'd like to call this number," we'd say, then hang up. A few minutes later, if we were lucky, the operator would call back to connect us to our party. We learned to place calls when Maglow was working since he actually tried to do his job. Some of the other operators tended to nap or take breaks or just get annoyed that we would have the audacity to actually want to call someone.

We waited impatiently for direct dial. In the meantime, we experiemented with doing email through a Callback computer in the States, through Compuserve in Ivory Coast, and through any other number of methods that all had their disadvantages (especially the $300 phone bills).

Fast forward a few years past direct dial telephones and the trunk line that was finally installed to allow internet in country, past the cell phone service out of Benin and then in Togo, to this week.

We just got word that Tabligbo, Togo has gone wireless! With a little boost from an antenna, our teammates there can have unlimited internet access 24/7... provided they can get electricity.

But that's another story.

One of the crowd
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?