Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mr. Rogers´ Neighborhood

I picked up "I´m Proud of You" by Tim Madigan off our Barnes and Nobles $1 rack. It´s a short, sweet memoir of the author´s relationship with Fred Rogers. It´s 196 pages on the amazing value of unconditional love and friendship. I wanted to share a quote from Mr. Rogers (he credits it as being an Arabian proverb) that he included in one of his letters to T. Madigan:

A friend is one to whom one may pour
Out all the contents of one´s heart,
Chaff and grain together,
Knowing that the gentlest of hands
Will take and sift it,
Keep what is worth keeping and,
With a breath of kindness,
Blow the rest away.

Call your best friend today. Wish them a Happy Thanksgiving and share this thought. Oh, to be such a friend! And with family gatherings coming up tomorrow, oh, to be such a family member!

Happy Thanksgiving, my dear friends. I´m "graceful" (as Kathryn calls it) for you!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Wee Bit of Literature (pronounced as in the Old World)

Sometimes I get in a poetry mood. Those days, strange little musty books from the library get stacked on the back of the toilet, on the bedside table, here and there. Sometimes it´s old Spanish, sometimes Wordsworth, Kipling, or Milton. Anyways I discovered one fascinating piece this week and rediscovered my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE fall poem. I´m afraid that this will only highlight my strange and eclectic preferences. Oh, well. I yam what I yam.

The first, I´ll just stick an excerpt in here for Julia (Nathan said you´d appreciate this, Juwah ;o) Anyways, it just goes to show not all parenting hundreds of years ago was worthy of imitation. And the end is the tailor does indeed come, and well, you know... And no, I haven´t resorted to this tale for Alex ;o)


From the German of Heinrich Hoffmann
One day, mamma said: "Conrad dear,
I must go out and leave you here.
But mind now, Conrad, what I say,
Don´t suck your thumb while I´m away.

The great tall tailor always comes
To little boys that suck their thumbs;
And ere they dream what he´s about,
He takes his great sharp scissors out
And cuts their thumbs clean off, - and then,
You know, they never grow again...

Now that you´re all grossed out by my macabre finding, here´s my FAVORITE FALL POEM. It seems I memorized a bit of this in junior high. Love the language of "thisun."

by James Whitcomb Riley
WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best, 5
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here— 10
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock— 15
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill; 20
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps 25
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...
I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me— 30
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Thursday, November 05, 2009


As one should not shop while hungry, one should not post blogs while tired and weary. At least that seems like common sense at the moment. However, I´m so at the verge of hilarious tears of weariness that I feel the creative juices flowing in spite of myself. I´m once again feeling the pull between my dreams and expectations and what is reality.

I have this vision of bedtime- that is, the children´s bedtime. You know, the warm glow of lamplight, the softly read bedtime story, the sweet kisses and recitation of memory verses. Of pajamas that smell of Snuggle and hair that smells like Johnson´s and Johnson´s. Children that sweetly gaze into my eyes, and say, "Good night, Mother Dear. Thank you for all you´ve done today!" OK, so the last part is COMPLETE fantasy.

When I was a kid, bedtime was mainly sneaking a final read of my favorite book, and since I slept with a kid sister who was much younger, I generally fell asleep with a human octopus wrapped around my body. My daddy did sometimes do something special- he would tuck me in- literally. It was just a joke, and when he left, I looked like a quilt-clad mummy. Once in a while, bedtime was spiced up by a brother who had snuck into the room to leap upon me from a dark closet or from under the bed. So my fantasy definitely doesn´t come from past experience.

When Kathryn was just a baby, I bought an oil lamp. Yes, people- an OIL lamp, thinking what a nice tradition it would be to always read bedtime stories by an oil lamp. I received funny looks from family members who saw me reading bedtime stories to my 4 week old. Somewhere along pregnancy week 32 with Alex, I realized my peaceful dreamlike bedtime ritual was probably about to disappear. The oil lamp stunk, the book fell apart.

Reality looks something like this: have children clean their rooms (this means Kathryn throws everything on top of her bed and we sort it, and Alex comes in after every toy he puts away, yelling "I did it!"), if they haven´t already had a bath due to playing in mud, a nasty blowout diaper, or a mishap with a marker, they get one. Oh, yes, then we simply must have a bedtime snack. Many times, Mr. Tumnus (how I am changed to a goat-man, I´m not sure, but I´ve perfected the tippy-toe walk while delivering milk and muffins to the table) has tea with sardines with Edmund and Lucy. And then we brush teeth, say our verses (maybe 3 out of 7 nights :( ), pray away the bad dreams, read a story, deliver that tiny sip of water, get kid out of bed for last minute peepee, spank other child for sneaking out of bed, turn on sleepytime CD (which is SUPPOSED to hypnotize children within 30 seconds max), leave the room, come back after shrieks of terror to shut the closet door, deliver favorite stuffed animal that has crept into the kitchen, and you get the idea.

And then I´m so, so tired. Truth be told, I long for a simple, hygienic, cozy, loving bedtime routine. Maybe, just maybe, if I´m lucky, I´ll hear a little 2 year old voice piping out of a darkened room: "Night, night, mommy. No mon-ters?"

Monday, November 02, 2009

Praying to be Faithful at the Edge

Thy Brother´s Blood - A Vision for Souls
by: Amy Carmichael

The tom-toms thumped straight on all night, and the darkness shuddered ‘round me like a living, feeling thing. I could not go to sleep, so I lay awake and looked; and I saw, as it seemed, this:

That I stood on a grassy precipice, and at my feet at crevice broke down into infinite space. I looked, but saw no bottom; only cloud shapes, black and furiously coiled, and great shadow-shrouded hollows, and unfathomable depths. Back I drew, dizzy at the depth.

Then I saw forms of people moving in single file along the grass. They were making for the edge. There was a woman with a baby in her arms and another little child holding onto her dress. She was on the very verge. Then I saw that she was blind. She lifted her foot for the next step…it trod air. She was over, and the children over with her. Oh, they cry as they went over! Then I saw more streams of people flowing from all quarters. All were blind, stone blind; and all made straight for the crevice’s edge. They were shrieks as they suddenly knew in themselves that they were falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, catching, clutching at empty air. But some went over quietly and fell without a sound.

Then I wondered with a wonder that was simple agony, why no one stopped them at the edge. I could not, I was glued to the ground. And I could not call; though I strained and tried, only a whisper would come.

Then I saw that along the edge there were guards set at intervals. But the intervals were too great; there were wide, unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned; and the green grass seemed blood-red to me, and gulf yawned like the mouth of hell.

Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees with their backs turned towards the gulf. They were making daisy chains. Sometimes when a piercing shriek cut the quiet air and reached them, it disturbed them and they thought it a rather vulgar noise. And if one of their number started up and wanted to go and do something to help, then all the others would pull that one down. “Why should you get all excited about it? You must wait for a definite call to go! You haven’t finished your daisy chain yet. It would be really selfish,” they said, “to leave us to finish the work alone.”

There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get more guards out; but they found that very few wanted to go, and sometimes there were no guards set for miles and miles of the edge.

One girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but her mother and other relations called, and reminded her that her furlough was due; she must not break the rules. And being tired and needing a change, she had to go and rest for a while; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.

Once a child caught at a tuft of grass that grew at the very brink of the gulf; it clung convulsively, and it called — but nobody seemed to hear. Then the roots of the grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over, the two little hands still holding right to the torn-off bunch of grass. And the girl who longed to be back in her gap thought she heard the little one cry, and she sprang up and wanted to go; at which they reproved her, reminding her that no one is necessary anywhere; they gap would be well taken care of, they knew. And then they sang a hymn.

Then through the hymn came another sound like the pain of a million broken hearts wrung out in one full drop, one sob. And a horror of great darkness was upon me, for I knew what it was; the cry of the blood.

Then thundered a voice, the voice of the Lord. And he said, “What hast though done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground.”

The ton-toms still beat heavily, and darkness still shuddered and shivered about me. I heard the yells of the devil-dancers and weird, wild shrieks of the devil-possessed just outside the gate.

What does it matter, after all? It has gone on for years; it will go on for years. Why make such a fuss about it? — God forgive us! God arouse us! Shame us out of our callousness! Shame us out of our sin!

Amy Carmichael, Thy Brother’s Blood Crieth:
(India: The Dohnavur Fellowship).
Obtained from an article from Bethany Fellowship, Inc.
Minneapolis, MN.