Sunday, December 30, 2007

Chris Teeter's new site is up!

Chris Teeter has recently become known around these parts for his fabulous doors at Orr St. but he's done a whole lot more than that. Check out the art on his site (which Wayne recently designed AND programmed).
PS: I've decided I'm going to retire and make Wayne my designer. Lunch anyone?

It was merry, it was very

Our Christmas holidays officially started on December 21, our anniversary, which we celebrated in style as tourists in our own downtown Rocheport. After a romantic dinner at Abigails, my hubby surprised me with a rose decked night in the Onyx Room (the two-way fireplace warmed the bedroom AND the bath, need I say more?) at the Amber House. It was a charmed kick-off to the holidays which included hosting my parents as well as a Christmas Eve visit with my cousin and his wife (recently moved to St. Louis from Maryland) and my uncle (who was up to visit them from Florida). I've never lived closer than a 5 hour drive to any family member since I left high school so having family two hours down the road is a real treat.

Another treat is having someone present you with art they created just for you. Wayne made this gorgeous boxed piece for me for Christmas (though the shot, due to the reflections, does not do it justice.) His work is completely stunning and what he comes up with never ceases to amaze me.
Here, too, is the debut of another artist's work: Karen Miedrich Luo! Whodda thunkit?! I gasped when I unwrapped this gift, amazed at how far Karen's recent dabbling with paper collage has progressed. This piece is built around on hearing Pergolesi, a Friday concerto , a favorite poem of mine written by Margo Berdeshevsky. The text of the poem appears on the back of the panels, handwritten in layered text. Guess a little dabblin'll do ya. Well done, amiga!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Weight of Addition

Yesterday I received my contributor's copy of The Weight of Addition, an anthology of Texas Poetry, edited by Randall Watson and published by Mutabilis Press. The anthology includes the work of 118 poets with Texas connections including Adam Zagajewski, Susan Wood, Ed Hirsch, Naomi Shihab Nye, Tony Hoagland, Sandra Cisneros, Robert Phillips and Cynthia Macdonald. Two of my poems are included.

This from the website:
Randy writes in his introduction, "It is my intention, then that the title, The Weight of Addition, should suggest the depth and range of the work that appears here." He goes on to conclude, " . . . --we have the poems themselves: each a sign and a revelation of our uncommon lives . . . each an artifact of the spirit, of the inner life with its mass and fluidity, . . . each an addition and a weight--humane and troubled and hopeful and necessary--a mirror in which we might discover not just those things that distinguish us, but those that identify us, that connect us, individually, in what might be called our mutuality, our belonging."

The cover photo was taken by Frank White, who shot the fabulous photos ars graphica used in the cities stores campaigns we produced for a few years before cities was no more.

I'm looking forward to making my way through the volume, recalling again what I took with me and what I left behind.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

but conducive to sledding so after the girls came in and thawed we put together our annual gingerbread house. The water was still off so when my fingers got so sticky I could no longer manipulate the bag of frosting, Samantha liked them clean. I don't think she minded the job. The water came back on at bedtime. Hurrah!
Later we watched a gorgeous film called Water, set in India in the 40's and exposing the plight of Indian widows, some as young as 9. Once widowed, a woman was either to join her husband on the funeral pyre, marry his younger brother or go to live a life a self denial at a widow's ashram, forbidden to ever marry again. The story centers around a nine year old widow who doesn't even remember having been married before she was whisked away from her parents and deposited in the ashram and another young widow who is lent out as a prostitute to wealthy Brahmins. She falls in love with a high caste young man who has been questioning these traditions under the influence of Ghandi. I won't give away any more but the story has a Romeo and Juliet twist to it. So alongside my renewed appreciation for running water was profound gratitude that my daughters and I were not born to the fates of so many other women in the world who, even today, have no recourse from the religious and government sanctioned oppression and brutality they are subjected to.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

At least we can melt snow...

Not an hour after the last post I was at the sink filling my pot of cut vegetables with water for soup. We're iced in, no church today, no Christmas shopping. A sweet excuse to cozy in and enjoy a laid back day, perhaps finally getting to the gingerbread house that has sat unadorned on our kitchen table for a couple of weeks now. The water came out strong then lost pressure then stopped completely. We checked all the faucets in the house. No water anywhere. I was still two inches short of the water I needed for the soup pot so I sent Hayley down to drain the last sinks. Just made it. I'd chopped onions and reached to rinse my hands. Oops, yeah, no water. We thought perhaps a pipe had broken but there was no water on the floor. Turns out our surrounding area is without water as well so no trucking to the neighbors with jugs for drinking water or showering. I don't know how many times I automatically went to the sink today and turned on the faucet for this or that and each time was reminded of what we so take for granted: clean water at our fingertips, whenever we want it. The water is still off, the soup still simmering and I'm still thinking about that video...

Addendum to last post

Just ran across this from Chris Seay, pastor of ecclesia, my much loved church in Houston. A thoughtful addendum to the last post.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Constructive Consumption

Who doesn't like to give gifts to those they love? And who doesn't, at Christmas time, feel guilty about buying things for people who don't really need the gifts we give them? I deal with this dilemma every year but this time around I feel less conflicted about the gifts I'll be giving since I've decided to buy as much as I can (full discloser: this does not include Webkinz) from Fair Trade organizations which insure fair wages and working conditions for those producing the goods. At the site I've shopped, you can read about who is making your product and where, and if your purchase is going to provide health care, put food on the table or grant access to education. Hopefully, this Christmas, my giving will bless in two directions. Three, actually, as it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Another idea: buy from your favorite local artist or artisan, musician or writer, usually toiling for the joy of it in some life affirming way and typically underpaid!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Let us eat cake!

Last week while grocery shopping with my mother, my 9 year old daughter spent some of her allowance to buy a celebrity mag at the checkout. When she arrived home with it I felt as God must have as he watched Adam and Eve exit the garden. So far she has no detectable insecurities about herself--she's a happy, healthy, and confidant being. Then comes the magazine, highlighting and glamorizing every superficial, narcissistic, vapid and self indulgent impulse of humankind. It's then a slippery slope to comparison, self doubt, envy, greed, self loathing and all their accompanying lifesuck emotions. Name one good reason a young girl should waste an hour of her life on such. I used to "read" those magazines and they're as irresistible as junk food. I still find myself reaching for them on occasion at the doctor's office or in waiting rooms and inevitably afterward feel like I've eaten a dozen twinkies. Sickly. Defiled. And always inferior. That cultural battle lasts a lifetime and I'm not quite ready to see her have to take it on. I want her to learn what creates real beauty and for her to aspire, not to designer fashions, riches and empty lifestyles, but to a life of substance and meaning--one that will enhance and affirm not only her life but the larger world around her. God save us from US.

Wayne celebrated a birthday this weekend and after blowing out the candles, our daughter did what we all do on our first birthdays: a faceplant in the cake. At age one, we acknowledge the fact we have taken our spot in the human parade and begun what we hope will be a long journey, witnessed and aided by the very ones who have gathered around the cake to celebrate. The child does not then eat the cake as much as plunge herself into it. Cake! Yes! The whole big cake is for me! So, why don't we plant our faces at age 9? or 43? or 102? It's still our cake. The theme of the current issue of Sojourners magazine is aging which, although our culture has conditioned us to fear and dread it, should be cause for joy. Aging is life lived, wisdom earned, cake eaten, cake worn: aging is creating the story that is you. The cake baked just for you.

And you are part of a bigger story, one that is playing out for eternity. Richard Rohr asks in Sojourners, "Is my life passing by without me? Am I so caught up in my life dramas and daily situations, that I miss the Big Life, the One Life, the Shared Life that is floating and immense underneath it all? Once we contact The Life, which is consciousness itself, Being itself, God, then we are not so afraid of aging. In fact, old age almost seems like a misnomer. Then we have tapped into the Stream that only grows deeper, stronger, and ever more living (John 4:10) because it is infinite." Not something you'll glean from a celebrity mag. In fact, they're designed to throw your cake out in the rain.

Yesterday morning as I knelt to take communion, thankful for my life and the years I have been granted, and for the world without end, I was certain I detected, in the wafer melting on my tongue, a lingering sweetness, tasting something like cake.