Fulla Holes
Sep 13th, 2007 by Sonja


I am bummed. A favorite theory of mine just got busted. I have this theory. It has proved itself on anecdotal evidence over time. But the scientists in Great Britain have disproved it. A former friend of mine once told me I was not keeping proper records. It is now likely that he was correct.

My theory is that in a family where there are two or more boys, the younger boys will be taller than the older boys. I am wrong. It was on the BBC this morning. No, the headline does not say, “Sonja is wrong,” for those of you wishing it were so. It says, “Older Siblings Stunt Growth.” And it’s kind of interesting. The study authors suggest that the smaller families we are all now having are promoting somewhat larger adults.

Aug 30th, 2007 by Sonja

I am scattered today.  My mind is skittering around and trying to process several things all at once.

One of the things that I’ve been sorting through and want to do some more reading about (if I can find it) is a theory I’m beginning to nourish about the differences between the Celtic Church and the Roman church during the 500s and 600s and just why was Pelagius declared a heretic?  I wonder if it had a lot more to do with who he represented than what he thought.  But I’m still thinking and reading and need to organize my thoughts before I can do any serious writing about it.

We had dinner with some friends up here last night.  It was funny (weird), but I’ve known about these people all my life.  Just now we’re becoming friends.  Another person dropped in towards the end of the evening.  I’ve also known of him my whole life.  But not known him.  They all knew and hung out with each other all summer every summer.  Their families summered here.  I just came to visit my aunt for a few days here and there each summer.  Sometimes I’d spend a week.  We had a conversation last night about the gangs they ran with.  To them those gangs had been all inclusive.  To me, I could never find an opening.  LateComer declared “Oh, if we’d known you were here, you’d have been part of us.”  None of them remember me; they remember my youngest brother.  But I remember them.  Which leaves me wondering … am I really that withdrawn?

I remember the first time I took the MBTI and got the Introverted result.  I thought it was wrong.  But now I as I look back over my life and remember all the times I’ve tried so hard to be outgoing and failed.  Or gotten it wrong.  I remember being shoved out, off the porch to “go find the kids, they’re all over the place.”  But I just could not do that.  I wouldn’t know what to say when I got there.

So I’m trying to put all that together.  It felt like a sucker punch.  It wasn’t meant that way.  LateComer was trying to make me feel belatedly included.  But … the reality hit hard.

I’m continuing to recuperate, but not as quickly as I’d like.  So thoughts like this … “What if I have pancreatic cancer?” keep springing into my head.  I have to say them out loud so that LightHusband can help me push them away with the reality of this takes a long time to recuperate from.  But I have a strong imagination, it likes to win.

My cousin and her children came to visit yesterday.  It was fun, but too short.  Next year, we’ll gather here again for a longer day.  I will feel better and be able to do more.

The next big battle to fight with LightGirl is getting her into some decent clothes for Thanksgiving dinner in November.  I’ve got 84 days.  We’ve invited LightHusband’s parents, siblings and their families for the holiday.  So far it looks as though everyone will come and they’re all excited about it.  My 11 year old niece exclaimed, “I’ll go if I have to drive myself!”  And it’s an 11 hour drive for her … But this side of the family dresses for holiday dinners.  So.  LightGirl will need something appropriate.  Not made of tissue paper.  Not looking like a ‘ho from the ‘hood.  In other words, nothing from any of the local or on-line shops for girls her age.  I will have to make it.  Not a big deal for me.  But it will take some … (how shall I say this?) … negotiating.  So … let the games begin.

Aug 22nd, 2007 by Sonja

Map - States named for GDP

Check out this map.  Click on it and go to it’s website of origin.  Someone cooked up the fairly brilliant idea of matching the Gross Domestic Product of various nations with the gross domestic product of each state.  Now this is somewhat disingenuous because it’s difficult to split out the gdp’s of different states and you really need to control for population, etc.  BUT … it does draw our attention to how enormous the US economy is in relation to other countries.  You can read more details at the website, along with economic data that makes this map make a lot more sense.  Or … you can just sit and be stunned by the whole thing.  Which is what I did for quite some time.

We really do need to go back to kindergarten … and learn how to share our toys well with others.  Right now our report card would have an “N” on it … for Needs Improvement.  And that is unacceptable.

Literally …
Jul 30th, 2007 by Sonja

… the coolest thing since sliced bread.

Friday Five – Floods and Droughts
Jul 27th, 2007 by Sonja

Here in the UK we are struggling with floods, other parts of the world have similar problems without the infrastructure to cope with it, still others are badly affected by drought…. My son Jon is in Melbourne Australia where apparently it has been snowing ( yes it is winter but still!)…. With crazy weather in mind I bring you this weeks Friday 5…

1. Have you experienced living through an extreme weather event- what was it and how did you cope?

My parents moved to Kansas when I was six months old and we lived there until I was 6 years old. Many times during each summer the air raid siren would go off indicating that tornadoes had been spotted in the vicinity. So we had to go the basement. Ugh. Several times tornadoes did go through our community. It was soooo boring in the basement. When I was six I had a broken leg with a cast on and one time when we were confined to the basement, I took a blue crayon with me … so I colored the whole cast blue – hip to ankle. My mother was not pleased, but it did keep me quiet.

Tornado Watch

2. How important is it that we wake up to issues such as global warming?Uhhh … how important is it that we keep breathing?  or keeping drinking water?  I guess if we don’t mind breathing polluted air and drinking polluted water, then we can ignore global warming.  The earth is our home and just as we keep our individual home’s clean and livable, we need to keep the earth clean and livable … not too hot and not too cold.

3. The Christian message needs to include stewardship of the earths resources agree/ disagree?

I never understood how the Christian message could EXclude stewardship of the earth’s resources.  That just never made any sense to me whatsoever.  It makes more sense to me that Christians would be on the cutting edge of being green than anything else.  But maybe I shouldn’t use logic with faith so much.

And because it is summer- on a brighter note….

4. What is your favourite season and why?

Spring … because that’s when all the flowers come back and the world is all new and all.  Just say the word and it makes you happy.  Go on … say it, Spring!  See … you’re smiling now.

5. Describe your perfect vacation weather….

70 degrees, blue skies … for about 3 days, then a day of rain and 55 degrees, so I can stay inside and sleep in and read a good book next to a fire.

Random Kindness
Jul 17th, 2007 by Sonja

Last Thursday night was sort of our last hurrah in Vermont.  LightHusband met up with his sister, her children, their parents and LightBoy at a baseball game.  LightGirl and I went to dinner and a movie.  LightGirl has no patience for baseball games at the best of times, and this was not the best of times.  Just thinking about it made her miss hockey and her team and skating and made her a little bit weepy and scared about her knee injury.

We were running late, so we dove into Pizza Hut for dinner.  We made an impassioned plea to our waitress that we needed to catch a movie … could our dinner be hurried at all.  Certainly, she smiled at us.   But the pace of the restaurant changed not a whit.  LightGirl’s pasta and marinara sauce seemed to have been made from homegrown tomatoes … on the vine … grown while we waited as time elastic stretched to eternity.  We tried to enjoy conversation and did at first, but the movie time loomed larger and larger on our horizon.  Dinner came and LightGirl bargained with me that the movie had already started, we shouldn’t bother those already there by walking in late.  My version was someone always comes in late … it would just be us this time.  We hadn’t missed that much … maybe just the previews.  Off we went to the theatre.

We walked into a mysteriously empty lobby and I said, “Two for Evan Almighty, please.”  The girl looked at me and then looked over her shoulder to the boy behind her and said, “I don’t know … can we still do that?”  Which took me aback for a moment.  The young man looked at me (I was looking very puzzled at the exchange) and said (into his walkie-talkie), “Is it too late to start Evan Almighty in 5?”  and I realized … we were the only people there for that movie!!!  We had the theater to ourselves.  Yes, we were late, but we were the only ones.  What a treat.  They ran it for us anyway.  Just us two in the whole theater … all by ourselves.  What fun.

Evan Almighty is a real treat itself.  I was a little askance about it after it’s predecessor, Bruce Almighty.  But this movie is gentle and fun and for those of us who believe in living our lives a bit differently so that we can express the love of the Creator to all of creation, it has a wonderful message.  Morgan Freeman is once again outstanding as God.  LightGirl remarked that if God is really like “that guy in the movie.  I could talk to him.  I haven’t had much to say to God for a while now.  But I could talk to that guy.  Do you think God is like that guy?”  I told her that I thought God certainly had a lot of those characteristics … that if she wanted to imagine that God was like that guy, there wasn’t anything wrong with it.  I think I liked the movie so much because the theme that ran all throughout it was that God loves His people and invites them to participate in His mission with Him.  What a great way to spend an afternoon or evening … being reminded of that wonderous truth.

Jun 22nd, 2007 by Sonja

Then there’s this.  I/We are walking with some friends who are preparing to move to another state.  There are some potential pitfalls and ups and downs involved with this move.  They hit a snag, a snafu (that’s Army for Situation Normal, All Fucked Up) as it were, this past week.  Up to now they were very happy with the house they’d found, gleeful in fact.  They felt that it was “in God’s plan,” for them.  This snag, this snafu, caused them to begin to doubt the rightness of the house for them.  Just for a moment.  They have continued ahead with the move because the house really is a good place for them.  It really is a good decision.  But the conversations and prayers have gotten me thinking.  I’ve been thinking about how we perceive and communicate God’s plan in our lives.

It’s quite common in the evangelical/institutional church to discuss “God’s plan” for one’s life as if it’s a blue print that may be discerned by a variety of means.  Some of those means are almost magical and require spiritual gifts and talents that merge with those of a nature that I liken to tarot card reading, looking into a crystal ball, or prophesying/divining (and I don’t mean in God’s name).  People wonder if they’re going to the “right” college (i.e. the one that is in “God’s” plan for their lives), or if they’re marrying the “right” person, or taking the “right” job, or purchasing the “right” house or the “right” car and so they look around for signs and symbols that they are making the “right” decision.  That is, the decision that puts them on the path that is in “God’s Plan” for their lives.

Increasingly, I am having a hard time with that line of thinking.  I used to think like that.  I used to think that there was a “right” decision to make and a “wrong” one about things like jobs and colleges and cars and such.  (I still think there might be a right and wrong mate, but that has nothing to do with God’s plan and everything to do with personalities and character and traits and things).   I’m not sure that God really cares about which college I go to.  Okay, well, I’m not going to college.  I don’t think S/He cares about which car I drive, other than the fact that cars degrade creation.  So in my decision to purchase a car, I ought to take that into account.  I need to take my income into account when I’m purchasing a home so that I can continue to be obedient to God’s call in my life after purchasing a home … but I’m pretty certain that God doesn’t particularly care which house I choose.  It’s just a house.  And any cover over our head is a blessing.

I think that something very uncomfortable has happened in Western evangelicalism.  We’ve taken a verse out of context and made it mean something completely adverse to its original purpose.  Big surprise there.  In these times of decision people often quote Jeremiah 29:11.  Some people have even co-opted it as their “life” verse.  So I went to the chapter and re-read the whole thing this morning.  Here’s the verse all by itself.  Actually, I’m just going to quote the part that people usually say all alone:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, … “  Then they put that with a bit about the sparrows and the lillies in the field (parables in Matthew) and come up with an idea that God has put together an individualized blue print for each of our lives.  If we could just divine that blueprint and live accordingly, we’d have a perfect happy life.

I have a lot of problems with the picture that paints of God.  What kind of God is it that has a perfect plan for Her children, but keeps it secret?  Which of us, as parents, has plans for our children, but dangles only enough details for them to get in trouble and then holds them accountable?  Even we humans are not that evil.  That paints a picture of a mean, stingy God who is waiting for His children to get into trouble.  The God I read about in scripture loves us.  Loves us enough to give us free will.  But having a closely held blueprint and a free will I think are somewhat oxymoronish.  If my path to sanctification lies through that blueprint, but I cannot know the details.  And I have a free will to do what I choose.  Then do I have a free will at all?  If my path is already chosen, do I actually have free will?  I know that some would say that free will lies in my choice to be obedient to the path, the blueprint, or not.  But I don’t quite believe that.  Here’s why.

I went to Jeremiah chapter 29 and read the whole thing.  The first verse stunned me.  Chapter 29 of Jeremiah is a letter!  It is a letter from God to the exiled Hebrews in Babylon.  The first four verses are the bona fides.  But verse five gets into the meat of what God wants the Israelites to hear from him.  So read with me now:

5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD.

10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. [b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

15 You may say, “The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,” 16 but this is what the LORD says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city, your countrymen who did not go with you into exile- 17 yes, this is what the LORD Almighty says: “I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like poor figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth and an object of cursing and horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them. 19 For they have not listened to my words,” declares the LORD, “words that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets. And you exiles have not listened either,” declares the LORD.

20 Therefore, hear the word of the LORD, all you exiles whom I have sent away from Jerusalem to Babylon. 21 This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says about Ahab son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah son of Maaseiah, who are prophesying lies to you in my name: “I will hand them over to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and he will put them to death before your very eyes. 22 Because of them, all the exiles from Judah who are in Babylon will use this curse: ‘The LORD treat you like Zedekiah and Ahab, whom the king of Babylon burned in the fire.’ 23 For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives and in my name have spoken lies, which I did not tell them to do. I know it and am a witness to it,” declares the LORD.

When I read this letter, I hear the words of a parent speaking peace and calm to a troubled child.  I hear myself saying to my children things such as, “Yes, you really screwed up this time.  Here are the consequences of your bad behavior.  But you’re going to live.  You’ll survive and thrive.  I still love you and want what is best for you.  When you calm down, you can join us again at the dinner table.”  Okay … I know that’s the human version and God has much more stringent standards of behavior than I do.  But I think you get the picture.  What this verse does NOT say is that God has a plan for our lives that involves which college to choose, which car, which house, which mate … that’s why S/He gave us free will and good brains.

I believe that generally S/He wishes to bless us, to bring good into our lives (whether or not we can recognize it).  Generally, we ought to (because of our love response) desire to spread that love around to others using our gifts and talents.  In that way, we are living within Her plan for our lives.  But I’m beginning to think that where and how and when we do it, is kind of up to us.  We’re grown ups, after all.  Praying about those decisions, I’m increasingly thinking, is like praying for a good parking space.  It just might be a little trivial.  What do you think?

Going Green?
May 19th, 2007 by Sonja

The street sweeper went by our house today.  It blew up a lot of dust and sucked it all back up into its big dark tank.  It was very quick and painless.  Our little cul de sac only took about a minute … maybe two.

It came early in the morning.  Shortly afterwards I left to go to the gym.  As I drove down a nearby street I noticed that the street sweeper had been there as well.  It had only been down one side of that street though because parking is allowed on on the other side of that street.  I admired how clean and grime free the curb area was on the “clean” side.  Then I looked at the “unclean” side.  It was full of leaves and clutter.  And mostly cars.  It was not clean because the street sweeper couldn’t get there when the cars were parked there.  It being basically a huge gasoline driven power scrubber and vacuum cleaner, it cannot go where cars are parked.

It really bugged me seeing one side of the street clean and the other messy.  I like matched sets.  So I started to think about ways that the messy side could be cleaned.  I came up with a novel approach.  I thought of …

… wait for it …

… a broom.

Then I began to think more about it.  What would happen if we got rid of all the gas powered street sweepers and replaced them with brooms?  And paid people who don’t have jobs (homeless people, for example) to sweep the streets?  What might happen?  What other jobs, simple jobs, do we now engage gasoline or oil powered machines to do that people might do?  I think it might kill two birds with one stone.  We could simultaneously give people employment while reducing our dependence on petroleum products.  It might not be much of a reduction, but it would be some.  Maybe there are some other things we can do in small ways to reduce our dependence.

In a similar vein, we participated in the Gas Out the other day.  Which is to say, by coincidence we did not need to purchase gas on May 15, so we did not.  LightGirl and I were talking about it later and thinking about how it really probably didn’t do any good.  Her idea was that there should be a Gas Out Month!  “That would make a difference!” she declared.  “Well … yes,” I thought.  Then I began to imagine what that might do our economy.  How would we go about managing to not buy gas for a month?  How about a week?  Think about it … how long can you reasonably go without getting gas?  How long can you make a tank stretch?  Can you make it go longer?  I wonder if we all just started thinking in terms of how long can I make it before I have to fill up again? it might change our use habits, which might change our dependence.  It might just take a slight change of perspective.

Like brooms, and paying people instead of buying machines.  Like finding out how many days you can take a tank of gas.

Bleak and Dim
May 5th, 2007 by Sonja

It’s Saturday afternoon and I have a spring cold along with some sort of intestinal thing. It’s just a stomach ache, but combined with the cold, I’m feeling bleak and aguey. Dim, without spark. LightGirl has team tryouts today. I wanted to go watch, but I have no motivation and then there’s this aguey feeling. So I’m on the sofa searching out new front doors for our house, this does nothing for my spirit as the door I found is made of Brazilian mahogany, so I think I will single-handedly demolish the rainforest.

SnowballI began serious work again yesterday on my snowball quilt from the Kaffe Fassett workshop I took in November. Here is my first shot at it on my design wall. I don’t like it. There are some blocks that are too light. I took them out and replaced them with others. It’s better now. The intersections between each square will have small burgundy diamonds which will give it a lot of spark. I spent some time this afternoon figuring out how many large squares I will need to make a bed sized quilt. The answer … 193. I may have cut that many already, but I’m not sure. Next I need to get some border fabric. I’m no longer certain of the fabric I did purchase when I took the class.

I’ve also been following, but not participating in an e-mail conversation about how to be more “green.” The conversation was initiated by my sister-in-law. LightMom contributed a link to an EPA site where one can calculate one’s carbon footprint. Another person pushed back a bit asking questions about the increased costs of production for hybrid vehicles and flourescent bulbs, not to mention the somewhat poisonous ingredients that those products contain (mercury, and battery acid).

Don’t get me wrong, I think these conversations are vitally important. I’m just depressed. They’re coming about 20 years too late. I was on the debate team when I was in highschool. I don’t want to get into specifics about when that was, but I will say that I’ve passed my 25th reunion … Bono and I are the same age … separated by about 1 year and 4 days. In any case, the question up for debate my senior year (late 1970’s) was whether or not the United States needed to reduce its dependence upon foreign sources of oil. We drew straws to see who would debate the positive and who the negative. I was on the negative team, which meant that I argued to continue with the status quo. It didn’t matter. I still needed to be well versed in all the arguments that our positive opponents might throw our way.

Here’s the sad thing.  The technologies that are being touted as so new and vital today … yeah … well.  They’ve been around since the late 1970’s.  The automotive industry has been able to manufacture hybrid vehicles for decades.  They simply had no incentive to do so.  No one gave them any.  Not our government.  Not us.  No one.

I’ve known since 1979 that our gas prices would hit $3.00 a gallon at some point.  The only miracle that it didn’t happen before now.  I’ve been waiting and watching for this for years.  The Europeans have paid these prices since the late 1970’s, it’s about time we start ponying up.

This has been coming for a long, long time.  So now it’s cool.  But after all of the Green Up Days I worked on.  After the days, weeks and months I worked canvassing for a National PIRG to get a stupid bottle bill passed in Virginia and we still don’t have one.  So now at the last minute, it’s trendy and Consumerigon can make a few extra bucks on so-called “green” products.  I just hope and pray our national ADD doesn’t kick in and our attention turns elsewhere at the crucial moment.  These changes need to be life changing … like the sort of diet where one loses weight and keeps it off, rather than yo-yoing for years.  They need to be slow, steady and permanent.  And I’m not certain we’re capable of that.

A Star Is Born
Apr 25th, 2007 by Sonja


This is a photo capturing the birth of a star taken by the Hubble Space telescope in the summer of 2005. It’s one of our new neighbors on the Milky Way block. The new girls are always gorgeous.

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