What’s It Worth To Ya?
Jul 6th, 2010 by Sonja

Okay … well … I’m going to use yesterday’s prompt because I think today’s prompt is boring and I blogged yesterday anyway.  Confused yet?  I’m not.  So … here’s the question:

What’s one thing you think it’s worth spending money on? What’s one thing you always cheap out on?

I actually looked at this yesterday and considered (gasp) blogging twice in one day.  Of course, if I’d done that my answer would have been different off the cuff than when given time to ponder.  My original thoughts wandered towards fabric, coffee and chocolate … because.  Well.  Because I can’t just choose one thing.  And I’m torn between being suspicious of and in awe of people who can choose one thing.


I was sewing and that laid claim to me yesterday.  So I had the chance to let the whole thing percolate while I was fiddling with little pieces of beautiful fabric.  I was able to turn it around in my mind and look at it from many different perspectives.  And wonder about what I consider valuable and worth my money and what do I not.  Is there one thing that I consider worth spending money on?  Yes.  I decided.  There is.  It’s when I can use the gifts I’ve been given to encourage the potential in someone else.  That’s worth spending money on.  When I can buy their art, or help them walk a path they’ve chosen, or nudge them with a book or a magazine or _____, that’s all worth spending money on.

Stuff I cheap out on?  If I’ll have to dust it … then I won’t buy it.  Ever.  Stupid tchokes and useless crap … I usually look at it and think, “hmmm … will I have to dust that?” and if the answer is yes, then it stays in the store.

And a quick plug for my friend Julie Clawson’s book, Everyday Justice, … I do try (and fail most of the time) to live as justly as possible.  What does this have to do with what I consider worth money?  Well … how I spend my money has some tiny impact on the ripples and tides of how people are treated world wide.  If I purchase any old coffee (for example) that drives down the price that individual coffee growers can earn.  It also means that large conglomerates own coffee plantations.  If I purchase Fair Trade coffee which is coffee marketed through co-ops then I’m purchasing coffee which has been grown by individual coffee growers, it has been purchased at a living wage price for the growers, grown in a sustainable manner on the farm, etc.  It’s a way for my money to be used in more healthy fashion.  But it means that I walk humbly and live justly in the land as far as I am able each day.

How about you?  What do you think is worth spending money on?  Or not?

Favorite Movie?
Jul 1st, 2010 by Sonja

Really?  Oh … so not fair.  I cannot possibly choose my favorite movie.  That’s like asking me to choose my favorite color.  What?  As if I have one.  It all depends on my mood, or what I’m thinking about at the moment, or what I’m working on or … or … geez.  In my world, this is a ridiculous question.

What’s your favorite movie?

Now that I’ve got my whining out of the way, long time readers of this blog (the one or two that are left) will note that the Lord of the Rings trilogy probably surfaces the most often as movie(s) and books which speak into my life with the most clarity.  So if I have to choose one, I’ll choose three … but together they comprise one.  Kinda like the Trinity.  That’s fitting.

How about you?  What’s your favorite movie or movies?

The Eyes Have It
Jun 30th, 2010 by Sonja

So.  Basically I really hated yesterday’s prompt and had a rebellion.  You’ll be left forever wondering what it was, why I hated it and what I might have responded to it if I’d stopped kicking over the traces long enough to actually think.  My tiny little excuse is a really really bad case of hives that is apparently caused by the sun.  I have turned into a vampire.

Har.  Just kidding.  Some meds I take for seizures are causing sun sensitivity which, in my case, causes hives.  This has happened before in the past 5 or years since I started this new drug, but I’ve never been in the sun as long as I was on Friday (riding a tube down the Shenandoah).  So the hives were mighty and cursed this time.  Prednisone has become my new best friend.  However, I had so much fun on that tubing trip I’d do it all again … I’d just give in and go to the doctor’s sooner :)

Today’s prompt is this –

What’s the first thing you notice about a man when you meet him? A woman?

The first thing I notice about men and women is their eyes.  Maybe it’s because I was taught to look people in the eyes when being introduced.  Or maybe I just love eyes.  Or whatever.  Who knows … I could spend all day rationalizing, but the bottom line is I dig people’s eyes.  I love eye shapes and sizes and colors.  I love the way a person’s eyes define their face and their mood.  I love the way eyes sparkle and gleam.  I think the most fun I ever had in a class was when I took a class on portraiture and learned how to draw eyes.  I got so much perspective from that experience.

The second thing I notice is their hands.  You can tell a lot about a person from their hands.  You can see how they feel about themselves in the way their hands are carried and used in a conversation.  You can see how they relate to the world in how they take care of their hands and how their hands are used in their line of work.  When they shake hands with you, you can tell a lot about how that person perceives you and your status vis a vis them.  Personally, as a woman, I love it when a man gives me a good firm handshake.  I hate the namby-pamby woman shake that I’m subjected to in the name of chivalry or whatever.  It sucks.  It’s like expecting a great bowl of good chocolate ice cream and you get a tiny dish of half melted soft-serve instead.  Bleh.  I also like good hugs but only from friends.  Stranger-hugging is weird in my book.  And there is entirely too much hugging here in the south (from my northern perspective).  But I digress … as you may have noticed I also love hands.  And lately, I’ve loved watching as my children’s hands are developing from pudgy kid hands into adult hands.  They are beautiful.  The same is happening with their friends and cousins.  It’s like a small marker of passage through time and is enjoyable to watch as they cavort through life together.

What about you?  What do you notice when you first meet people?  Does it differ with the genders?

The Day I Was Born
Jun 28th, 2010 by Sonja

Tell us everything you know about the day you were born.

Okay, first of all I need to say this.  I’m beginning to feel very, very self-conscious about these blog prompts and I might begin to go off the reservation soon.  While this discipline is really good for me, the nature of these prompts is not what this blog is all about and I really do not like talking about myself nearly this much.  So I guess I will answer this one.  Then I’m going to spend some time and make up some prompts of my own … for myself.

I don’t know too much about the day I was born.

I know it was a Saturday.  It was the first Saturday in May because my mom and dad listened to the radio broadcast of the Kentucky Derby in the car on their way to the hospital.  Every year we all three have to look up who won that year (nearly 50 years ago now) because we can’t remember.  Well, they can’t remember.  I didn’t know at the time and even though I look it up every year, I still cannot remember from year to year.  My parents now celebrate my birthday on Derby Day although they/we didn’t when I was a child.

I know I was born at 10:52 p.m.

I know my parents  had not yet graduated from college.  Somewhere there is a photograph of me all bundled up with my grandparents at the graduation.

I know my arrival was late.  I’ve been running behind ever since.  My parents had only been married about 7 months.  Emmmmm hm.  You do the math.  They are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year (October), so it was a good decision all around. They have an excellent marriage and are still very happy together … despite the fact that they frustrate the snot out of their children sometimes.

I was the first granddaughter on both sides and so I was much fussed over and spoiled … for about 6 months.  Then we moved to Kansas.

John F. Kennedy was the president and hope was springing up all around despite the spectre of Vietnam and Cuba.

Annnnndddddd … that’s about all I know.

What’s In A Name?
Jun 26th, 2010 by Sonja

So, I’m a day late … you’ll have to decide whether or not I’m a dollar short.  I was off the grid yesterday, floating down a river in a tube with a group of teenagers and their moms (and a few dads).  Well … we each had our own tube.  There are now sunburns aplenty and at the end of the day a lot of smiles, weary arms, and tired legs, but we had so so much fun.  What a grand day it was.

Yesterday’s prompt – How do you feel about the name given to you at birth?

I was given Sonja by my parents.  It is an odd name for my cohort generation.  Most girls with that given name and spelling were first generation immigrants from an eastern European nation.  I am not.  I’m all English and some branches of my family tree can be traced back to the Mayflower, others to the Revolutionary War.  But I do not have any Eastern European roots (an unfortunate state of affairs).

I hated my name in elementary school.  I was surrounded by Peggys and Kims and Marys and Beths.  Growing up in a tiny backwoods Vermont town where everyone had known each other for several generations, I was the odd child, with the odd name.  Teachers couldn’t pronounce it because of the pesky silent “j” or they persisted in making the “o” long rather than short.  Sometimes they would forget entirely and call me “Tanya,” then wonder at my lack of response.  Children couldn’t pronounce or remember my name either, so I lived on the fringe for a lot of elementary school.

I remember asking my mom to change my name at some point.  She suggested that we could do so, but it would be to the second place name (the also ran) that I did not get named when I was born.


I was horrified.  For those of you who know me on Facebook, you know my maiden name begins with “N”, so I would move from the merely strange to the geeky and weird world of alliteration.  That was an unacceptable alternative.  I stuck it out with “Sonja.”

I’m glad I did.  As I got older it became who I am.  I began to learn more about the name.  It is the Slavic version of “Sophia” and means wisdom.  I’ve always loved that.  I was thrilled when LightHusband when to Germany once and came back with a mug with my name on it because you never see my name on anything here.  Ever.

All throughout grade school and high school I was the only “Sonja.”  It was just me.  I began to really enjoy that in a deep down quiet way.  Then in my senior year another Sonja came to the school!  And she was a senior!!!  To make matters worse, she was absolutely stunningly beautiful and kind!!  AND … because of the way things worked out with our last names we were put right next to one another in the year book.  It was the ultimate irony.

Now I have embraced my name and really love it.  I don’t mind when people mis-pronounce it, but I still don’t respond to Tanya.  I do correct the spelling if it’s important because I love the “j” and as a visual person I think putting a “y” or an “i” in there makes my name look like someone else.  I know that’s stupid, but there it is.  Most of the time I leave it alone, though, because it’s a petty thing.  I get a huge and silly thrill out of running across other women who spell their name like me.  I don’t know why, but I think we should start a club because there are not so many of us.

So that’s about all there is to know about my given name.  Some day I’ll write the story of my middle name and how I had a major depressive episode (that’s what they call nervous breakdowns these days).

What If …
Jun 24th, 2010 by Sonja

Perhaps you’ve played this game. Your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse lets you have one free pass — one special man or woman who is so attractive and out of reach that if circumstances allowed it, your partner would allow you to sleep with that person. Most monogamous couples feel safe with the free pass rule as it’s more theoretical than practical. Sill, if your partner gave you a free pass, would you use it? On who?

For the short answer see Tuesday’s post. There at the bottom … where the prompt asked about whether it’s ever permissible to cheat?


It’s just not how I roll.  Because even if LightHusband gave me permission (and … uh … I seriously doubt it), it’s still cheating.  There it is.  I feel pretty strongly about this.  23 years ago this August, I made some promises before God and our gathered family and friends.  I take them seriously.  Really.  I do.  And to me, with permission or without permission, once that veil is pierced there’s no going back.

Trust and relationship would be badly broken.  Does it mean that it can never be repaired?  I don’t know.  Frankly though it’s a place I’m not interested in exploring.  I have enough broken, screwed up, hard places in my life without creating more for myself and for my husband and children.  I have so many relationships where trust got broken without the issue of infidelity, that I don’t see how it would be possible.

So there it is.  My inner conservative coming out to play.  There are one or two things upon which I do not ever budge.  This is one of them.  If I were ever to feel as though I needed to wander outside of our marriage, then (in my mind) that points out much larger problems in the marriage relationship that need to be addressed.

None of this is to say that there is not a really special person or love from my past that would not be tempting.  There is, but he is not worth the damage it would do.  Protecting my family and friends from the concentric ripples of dismay and hurt that fan out when relationships go awry and twist in the wind have more value than my selfish desires.

I guess all of this makes me not cool.  An old fart, so to speak.  That’s okay.  I’ve been this way most of my life.  I’ll keep on keepin’ on.  Because that is how I roll.

Doing Something Nice
Jun 23rd, 2010 by Sonja

So … today’s prompt is this –

Do something nice for someone today. Then tell us about what you did.

Really?  You’re kidding.  I find myself wondering just what that would look like.

Oh.  Not the doing something nice.  I do that all the time and I’m not going to tell you about it here, because that’s decidedly not how I roll.  And that’s the problem.  I do do so-called nice things for people.  And by the way, I hate the word “nice” so I’m going to use the word “kind” or “gracious” from now on.

You see, I call that living a missional life.  My calling in this world is to reflect Jesus to the people around me.  Of course, most of the time, when they look at me or how I live they get a fun-house mirror reflection of him, because I’m all human and totally screwed up.  But I do have this dance with the Holy Spirit (or as I like to call her, Soraya), that I live in.  My dance naturally includes a lot of other people.  But if I tell anyone what I’m doing or what I’ve done, that will take all the fun and all the mystery and all the joy out of it.  Telling people (or writing about it here) will change the focus of how I live.  It will put the focus on me and that is not where it belongs.

So I will do, as always, several acts of kindness today.  But I won’t tell anyone about them.

Monday’s Child …
Jun 22nd, 2010 by Sonja

… or is that a blog prompt.  Either way here’s my goods from Monday … and as you’ll see it’s a nice segue into Tuesday too.

What was the worst job you ever had?

This is difficult because I was always able to find some redeemable quality in every job I ever had.  So every time I start to think about the “worst” job, I remember something good too and then mark it off my list.  And I’ve done a lot of different jobs in my time too.

I began my working career as a babysitter.  I was in fairly hot demand in my hometown and if I remember correctly topped out at the whopping high cost of $.75 per hour back in 1979 when I graduated from high school.  Hey … I paid for my class ring and most of my clothes with that salary.  During the summer I was also an assistant swimming instructor and part-time life guard.  I was the go-to gal when the little kids were scared to put their face in the water.  I could always get them comfortable and feeling good enough to put their little faces in, blow bubbles and jump in off the dock by the end of the session.  Cause I’m a cheerleader for tots … or something.  But I really, really liked that job.

During college part of my financial aid package involved being on the work-study program, so I got assigned some sort of interesting jobs there.  My first year I was an assistant in the chem lab.  This meant I got to work in the shop where they mixed up all the stuff for the experiments each week.  That was a blast.  I loved that job.  It totally satisfied my inner nerd.  But by the next year it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t going to pursue a science degree so the job had to go to an actual nerd and I was assigned a job in the school snack shop.  There I learned to waitress, work the counter and be a short order chef (and make a mean tuna melt too).  I worked there for my sophomore and senior years.  I didn’t work my junior year because I was away from my main campus on a special study program.

After college I had a bunch of different (mainly secretarial) jobs in a variety of institutions here in the DC area.  I worked from 1983 to 1994 when LightGirl was born.  After she was born my job was to take care of her and then LightBoy and lose my mind.  I have been extremely successful at losing my mind; my relative success at raising children may or may not be seen until after my death.  During some of the time I was working, I was also going to graduate school at George Mason University in pursuit of a Masters in secondary education.  I thought it might be a good idea to be a teacher.  That never quite worked out for a variety of reasons, but while I was doing that I worked as a temporary office worker.  It was then that I had what would be my worst job ever.

Oh.  It didn’t start out that way.  It started out sort of fun and light-hearted.  And as a redemptive quality, I met one of my oldest and dearest friends at this job.  We were tight.  We still keep in touch.  We had a lot of fun together, laughing, talking, working.  We worked for an auctioneer.  It was a small business owned by two brothers who auctioned oriental carpets (persian rugs) on the weekends.  At first it seemed really innocuous.  My friend and I were in charge of setting up the auctions around the country; usually two or three per weekend.  We had to run ads in the local papers.  Ads for the auction and ads to hire local labor.  We had to set up hotels, auction venues, etc.  It didn’t seem like it was terrible.  But then we went to one.  And it wasn’t terrible, but it was really on the dishonest side.    By that time, I’d worked there long enough that I rationalized the dishonesty even though it made me feel very dirty.  LightHusband and I needed the money as we were very nearly broke because of some medical bills and I was still trying to get a job teaching.  However, the day came that one of the brothers asked me to sign letters of appraisal verifying the value of the rugs they had sold one particular weekend.  He gave me a title which indicated that I had knowledge of persian rugs that I did not and do not have.  I wish I could say that I quit on the spot.  I didn’t.  I was entirely too shocked and dismayed.  I signed approximately five letters and went home.  Talked to LightHusband about the situation and quit the next day.  There’s a lot I’ll put up with … grumpy bosses who pull rank and my vacation time (because they want to go to the beach with their boyfriend), customers who swear at me on the phone, c0-workers who are jerks, bosses who’ve fired me 3 hours after telling me they’re renewing my contract (and two weeks after having a mis-carriage), etc.  But I won’t ever, not not ever, engage in fraud.

Which leads me to today’s question/prompt:

Do you think it’s ever permissible to cheat?


I just hope that speeding is not counted as cheating.  Because then I would be in big trouble.

Jun 18th, 2010 by Sonja

Today you get two for the price of one … because I forgot yesterday.  Or got distracted.  Or something.

Without further adieu …

What’s the one food you feel like you couldn’t live without? What’s the one food you’d rather die than put in your mouth?

I cannot live without ice cream.  Chocolate ice cream.  With nuts.  And/or brownies in it.  Ice cream is what God eats.  But it doesn’t make Him/Her gain any weight.

The food I’d rather die than put in my mouth?  Canned fish, not tuna, but things like sardines or mussels, or octopi … horrible snotty bits of oily smelly seafood that look like turds in a tin.  [shudder]  LightHusband and LightBoy love these in a very primal way.  It makes my stomach turn just to write these sentences.

If you could take a train journey through any part of the world, where would you go?

For all of our married life LightHusband has loved to tease me with the idea that he is going to take me to Kenya and we’ll live in a hut there.  Now, lest you think I’m a suburban princess who cannot get by in a hut, that is not why I find this forbidding.  It’s the heat and humidity.  Sub-saharan Africa has always looked like hell to me because I hate heat.  Cannot stand it.  I’d much rather be cold than hot and I’ve been this way since I was a very small child.

So when I daydreamed about this question I was very surprised by the pictures that came to mind.  I saw myself in a train, a very old-fashioned steam powered train (by the way), traveling slowly through sub-Saharan Africa!!  This train went through lots of small tiny places and I got off everywhere and walked deep into the bush so that I could visit the back of beyond and meet people.  It was a fabulous trip.  And I loved it.

P.S.  The train was not air-conditioned.  I just wanted all of you to know that.

Jun 16th, 2010 by Sonja

What’s your greatest fear?

We had an (ahem) interesting day yesterday.  LightGirl had a very negative reaction to some meds she’d begun taking.  I won’t go into the details of it here, but we ended up in the ER just to make sure she was okay.  As the meds metabolized she was alright, but we had a frightening couple of hours.  She will not be taking those meds anymore.  She has a pattern of strange responses to medication and I think we need to be more careful about introducing it to her system (but that’s another story).

The whole situation highlighted for me how frightening it is when I cannot take care of the people I love.  I’m not one of those moms who ran around wiping every drippy nose or making the house spotless or anything like that.  But it’s important to me that my peeps are happy and healthy.  When there are circumstances in their lives that are beyond anyone’s control and certainly beyond my control, it really freaks me out.  So … I guess I have two greatest fears; they vie for first place depending on the day, sometimes there are three.

One is that I will die before my children reach adulthood and can stand on their own.  It’s important to me that I see the LightChildren through to their own two feet.  I’d also like know their children.

Another is some sort of apocalyptic event that would separate us from our extended family in New England … they would die or we would die or we couldn’t get to them or something like that.

A third is that one of the LightChildren will die or become severely maimed before reaching adulthood.  As I watched LightGirl in the ER yesterday and contemplated the what-ifs of her situation, I was horrified.  My mind could only dance around the fringes and waltz away to hope.  We were extremely fortunate that the incident indeed appears to have been caused by the meds and she was back to her normal self by evening.

So what about you, what is/are your greatest fear?

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