Wednesday, February 15, 2006

so nice

I did a good deed today (which helped me out greatly since my boss decided tonight that I was being a snob, this was my redeeming grace).

When Kate, the gal who is in the Peace Corps in Tanzania, emailed to say the kids love pencils, please send some if you get the urge to do so, I did. I had tried to get her a little something put together at Christmas but failed, so I had two or three other things to send including a few boxes of Mac & Cheese, a bottle of serious hair conditioner and some bottles of body wash, along with a pouf and a Christmas stocking. So this weekend, I go out and buy 5 boxes of pencils for a $1 each and added them to the box.

I finally got around to mailing it this morning.

Turns out mail to Tanzania is NOT cheap.

Twenty-seven dollars not cheap. Almost twenty-eight.

I almost passed out.

But then I remembered the way a child lights up when they get a gift. I saw the faces of the beautiful Tanzanian children that Kate sends and I knew it was worth every red cent to send them the pencils (and Kate the other goodies). I hope they make it there safely.

So, I did my good deed today. Did you??

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

a love affair

In a rare obeisance to Valentine's Day, I give you this little ditty about my longest affair.

And what, you ask, has captured my heart so? *She laughs as she thinks that you know her oh so little* One word: books.

Yes, those dainty little delightful delicacies of paper and ink. Books. I love them. The way they feel in your hands, the way they smell, the way they stand by quietly and let you laugh and cry at the events they contain. A book is always there for you, waiting, ready to to take you on an adventure. They are just truly loveable.

The first book I remember falling for was The Pokey Little Puppy. It's a Little Golden Book and it was one of the first that I read. I loved that story about the little puppy who went on great adventures and was sad when he went without dessert (but I now realize that he was disobedient and deserved to face the consequences for his actions). I read that book over and over and over. I think it is the reason I had a fascination with getting a dog that only recently evaporated.

Since then it's been one book after another. I spent more time in the elementary school library then I did in the classroom. I read every Nancy Drew mystery they had (and found a few they didn't at garage sales), I read my copy of Little Women ragged. I devoured every book I could get my hands on (including some of the romances my mother had that I probably should not have read, but hey, I was young and none of it made sense at the time).

I discovered the joy of buying and owning books. There was (and still is) something about buying a book that takes my breath away. It's a treasure chest and you don't know what you'll find when you break open the cover, but you know it's going to be something amazing. I remember the days in school when the Scholastic book club flyer came out. I'd pour over it on the way home and tell my mom which ones I wanted. I didn't always get them all, but I usually could swing a few (and they were cheap, wish I could go back and buy more!).

As I mentioned, I read a few books ragged. Little Women, James and the Giant Peach, just to name two. I re-read books. No one every told me I couldn't. I grew up thinking everyone who was anyone (i.e. anyone who is anyone was a reader) re-read books. Why read it in the first place if you weren't going to keep reading it over and over? What a waste of paper to only read it once. It never crossed my mind that people only read books once. Sure, there are a few I've never gone back to, but so many more that I do revisit. They are old friends. I never knew why I went back, per se, but I did.

Then not so long ago I learned that there are people out there who read, they read a lot, but they don't ever re-read a book. Honestly, when I heard this, I about had a full out stroke. The horror! To leave a book after one reading it like leaving the table after the first course of a meal. You may think you are satisfied but you have no idea what you are missing in the following courses.

When I tried to reason with the person who revealed this disturbing fact to me, she thought I was the crazy one to re-read a book. Her thought was, "I've read it, it won't change, why waste time reading it again." I nearly died on the spot. So here is what I told her.

While the words on the page may not change (indeed, they should not), you are not the same person from today to tomorrow from yesterday and therefore you can never read the book the exact same way you did before. And books are more than a stroll through the park on a sunny afternoon. To get their power, to learn their lessons, you have to spend time with them in the dark, in the wee hours of the morning, in the long winter days and chilly spring afternoons. There is no way to catch every offering a book has on one read. And you'll never learn as much about yourself if you limit the experience.

I've ready most of Jane Austen's books five or six times (at least). Every time, I learn something new about Austen, about her characters and about me. Each time I visit with those dear friends of mine, I have changed, I may understand a character more or less, or see eye to eye with the author in a way I couldn't before, because I had not yet grown tall enough as a human being. The same thing happens with all my favorite books. I believe for a book to be really great, it has to pull you back, make you want to read it again, keep looking and digging to find each precious moment, word, look and secret.

The other gal conceded that I had a good point. I challenged her to recall a book she really enjoyed and try reading it again. We'll see if she takes me up on it.

So, that's my great affair, the deep love I hold. If you want to make my head swim and knock me off my feet, forget the jewels, forget candy and even the flowers. Take me to a bookstore and tell me to pick one. Let me wander the isles, soaking in the wonderfulness. Surprize me with a new selection from an old friend or a new voice. I'll love you forever.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


You know the old adage... when it rains... well, that's life for the past few days.

Let me explain (pause) no, takes too long, let me sum up.

I get a call Friday from my worship pastor asking if I'm available to step into the role of producer for "a few weeks" while some of the regular staff are "away". I've had a feeling that this course could happen and likely should happen and I'm in full support of everything (yes, I'm being vague but that is because I won't gossip and I can't be more specific without risking the perception of gossip, so I'm trying to watch what I say here) and of course, I agreed to step up because that's what I'm here for. Not a big deal, but enough to take up a significant amount of time for the next month or so.

Then, I remember that I need to go to my sister's staffing (it's a yearly review where everyone involved in Vicky's care gets together to see how things are going). So I arrange to get off early and go to that today.

Then yesterday I get phone messages from both parents, in one day (which never happens) and they both sound grave and just say "call me as soon as you can". So I finally get a in touch with my dad. He tells me that Vicky's host mom took her to the doctor for a check up on a "rash" she's had on her breast for a while that isn't responding to the antibiotics, and that the only other thing the doctors can think of is that given Vicky's situation, age and medical work-up, there is a good chance that this might be breast cancer.

Add this on top of the fact that we are missing two key people from staff at church due to unresolved issues in their lives, that the wife of another key figure is mysteriously ill and the doctors can't find a diagnosis, and now Vicky may be facing serious health challenges, and I see red flags everywhere. The Evil One is on the warpath.

I'm just wondering if he didn't learn his lesson well enough the last time... he can't win. We are on God's side and that about says it all. So your prayers for everything are appreciated, especially prayers for restoration and health. And somebody send me an umbrella and galoshes if you don't mind.