Less Than 24 Hours
Jul 22nd, 2007 by Sonja

I am finished. I began at approximately 8 p.m. last night and just finished. I slept for about 6 hours between 2:30 and 8:30 a.m. …

I set a new record even for myself. But I’m finished. As of 12:30 this afternoon.
And if any of you want to read a great story that tells the big story … the story of love and redemption that includes a lot of the great themes that God has told throughout time, then read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It just might take you a little longer than it did me. I tend to read in great big gulps.  And here’s a fine review with no spoilers …
Deathly Hallows

Death by Memes
Jul 20th, 2007 by Sonja

My friend, Doug, who peregrines around the land hath tagged me once again. It is the dread 8 random facts meme … but I’m not so into random facts lately. I don’t know what to do here. I want to point people to 8 … somethings. But in the end that’s really pointing to me and what I like and there’s something about these memes that are ultimately very self-centered. Of course, the whole blogging thing is too for that matter.

So I am tasked with coming up with 8 items of note about something, someone, or etc. Soo … here are 8 things I am thankful for today:

1. I am thankful that LightGirl’s temperment is not at all like mine. This is not because I have self-image issues, but because I am enjoying watching someone with an entirely different outlook explore and enter the world. I really love talking with her about different episodes in her life and hearing her perspective on them. She is so completely different from me and I am enjoying that very much.

2. I am thankful for antibiotics. I seem to have inherited my maternal grandfather’s predilection for sinus problems and so I’m thankful for the drugs that cure these ills.

3. I am thankful for coffee. I love coffee. If I could travel back in time, I would go back to the time when people first discovered coffee was good to drink and I would kiss their feet. Well … maybe not their feet. But I would hug them and kiss them and tell them what a wonderful thing they had done!

4. I am thankful for cotton. It’s one of three fabrics that feels good to my allergic skin and the other two are frightfully expensive. So I love cotton. I especially love it when it comes in the form of quilting fabric and I’m working on a quilt for someone I love (yes, GreatPea, your time is coming soon 😉 ).

5. I am thankful for BlazingEwe and TexasBlueBelle. They have kept my feet on the ground and helped me put one foot in front of the other more times than I can count.

6. I am thankful for the gift of creativity. The joy that comes from experimenting, designing, doodling and creating is without words. I love to play with color and words and shapes and make them all come together and “say” something using very few (if any) words.

7. I am also thankful for words, because I love to write. I love giving voice to the stories and ideas that wrestle in my head. I love to study the evolution of language and how words have depth, texture and meaning beyond what we think they do. That our language is not flat and two dimensional, but rich and deep and even four dimensional as it changes with time.

8. I am thankful that as I get older I am more and more able to embrace being an introvert. As a woman it is unacceptable to be an introvert, so I had to interact as an extrovert my whole life. But I’m learning how to balance cultural expectations with my own needs a little better now. Interpreted, yes, this means I’m learning to not care what others think quite so much anymore and I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful that I’m growing more comfortable in the skin God gave me.

Sooo … the rules state that I’m to tag eight more people and they have to do this too.


Rules … schmools. Did I also tell you that I’m somewhat rebellious? I’m going to tag a few people … I don’t know how many … for the all new Thankfulness Meme … You have to list 6 – 8 things you’re thankful for and then pass it on to whomever you think might need this little exercise in futility … Here are my victims er friends:
JJ the Smu

Missional vs. Consumerism
Jul 18th, 2007 by Sonja

We had a primer one evening a couple of months ago on the difference between having a missional outlook and a consumerist attitude.

LightHusband, LightBoy and I had dinner out. LightGirl was at the rink and we had shopping to do in preparation for LightBoy’s long delayed birthday party. We went to a restaurant that is one step up from fast food and had salads. It was good and fairly fast. You know what you’re in for at these chains. The food, drink and service are fairly predictable and mediocre. The wait staff are friendly, but not too, and efficient, but not too. We’ve discovered that direct eye contact works miracles because it is, apparently, unanticipated. A smile and a friendly demeanor will also ensure wonderful service. Simply adding “please” and “thank you” to your order and being courteous as you deliver it, is grounds for special treatment. Which leads me to wonder what sort of behavior the wait staff must endure on regular basis.

Over the last year or two LightHusband and I have experienced a gradual shift in our attitude when we enter a restaurant. It’s rather difficult to explain. But we’re there to eat a meal. We’re not there to purchase an experience. There is a difference there. In that way, we’re sort of partners with the wait staff. Well … not partners. But the wait staff are not our subordinates to be sent at our beck and call. Unless they are pointedly not doing their job, they are not responsible for our experience that meal. We read the menu, we ask questions, we order, we eat our food, leave a decent (20-25%+) tip and leave. We believe in treating the staff as human beings who are doing a difficult job and need to be paid a reasonable wage. Since that wage is not included in the price of our food, we add it in at the end.

On the night in question, we had an example of the consumerist attitude. Another family came in and sat near us. They weren’t particularly loud or obnoxious. They seemed to treat the wait staff decently. But like the princess sleeping on a pea, none of the food was quite good enough. The wife sent her frozen drink back twice because “it’s not frozen enough.” As her husband explained, “She likes her frozen drinks to be … you know … really frozen.” and he waved his hands as if that explained it. Huh? The drink looked frozen to me. So did the second one. But apparently she meant frozen as in an iceberg. Undrinkable. Because these just were not acceptable to her. They sent back a couple of other items as well. There was not much at this restaurant that was satisfactory to them that evening. They were polite about it; just demanding, or perhaps persnickety is a better word.

As we left and went on our way. I thought about the difference between our two attitudes. It is possible that the other family had had a bad day and this was not their normal behavior in a restaurant. But this is normal behavior for far too many families. I had to sit silently as I was with a family when they sent a plate of spaghetti back because it had “green stuff” on it (dusted with oregano or parsley) and their 9 year old “… won’t eat it like this.” Interestingly the 9 year old never said a word. It was the parents who freaked out. It never occurred to them to just scrape the offending “green stuff” off and participate with the staff in the dinner. Or give their 9 year old the ability to own his own experience.

So, I’m coming to learn that having a missional outlook embodies an entirely different attitude about being out in the world. It means being involved with the people I come into contact with, even if only superficially. This is no stretch and I’d hope all of us were taught by moms or grandmothers or someone important, to treat others as we wish to be treated. But I think it’s very easy to forget that there are real people turning the cogs of efficiency in our big department stores and chain restaurants. Real people with families and hopes and dreams … just like mine.

Jul 17th, 2007 by Sonja

The seventh and last Harry Potter book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) is coming out on Saturday. We’ve preordered a copy from amazon.com. LightGirl was also invited to a book party at an independent book store in Arlington with a friend on Friday night … she’ll get a copy then. We’ll have TWO copies in our house. This will be good since three of us will be vying for reading rights at once. Questions abound … is Snape really evil? Who will die … Voldemort? Harry? Neville? Someone we’ve not thought of yet? Is Dumbledore really dead?

There is a piece of me which doesn’t want to read the last book. A part of me which doesn’t want the story to end. I’m not entirely certain I want the answers to those questions. I like living with the not knowing. Come what may, Saturday is very likely to come and with it a special delivery of our book. I will read the book and thus, the mystery and the story will come to an end. It will be sad in a way.

In anticipation of the day, I found this on-line quiz … thanks to Sally at Eternal Echoes. It came as no surprise at all that I’m Hermione, since that’s who I’ve always felt the most resonance with.

Which HP Kid Are You?
So … go on and take the test yourself. Which Harry Potter character are you?

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.

Jul 16th, 2007 by Sonja

It’s been brought to my attention, both privately and publicly, that there are some things I ‘need’ to take care of here at my blog. I don’t think I ‘need’ to … but I’m going to, in order to point out the magnitude of how ridiculous this is to those who have attempted to make the point.

I have left my my former faith community. I did so several months ago. I did so when it became very clear to me that there were irreconcilable differences between members of the leadership and I and my husband. We are now gone. There are no links or any other connections here between me and my former faith community (or CLB). I have many, many reasons for that. If members of my CLB read this blog, they are certain to read things about their leadership which will make them very uncomfortable. The leadership of my CLB caused me quite a bit of pain and this is the place where I write about that. I make no apologies for that. I have always written about the things that bring me both joy and pain on this blog. Now is no different. It is a source of enormous grief to me that a place that was once a place of great joy and sustenance is now a place of great pain and, yes, I write and process that here.

I invite conversation in my comments section. However, that conversation is limited to the content of my writing. I welcome agreement and disagreement philosophically, theologically, etc. In the future, I will summarily delete comments which are meant to chastise the imagined “intent” of my writing. No one … but God and I … knows what I intend when I write a piece. Any of you who imagine that you also “know” my intent are engaging in hubris of the worst sort. If you should then decide to chastise me for that imagined intent, I will delete the comment. No one has editorial privileges here but me. I own this site, I pay for the web hosting fees and for the domain name. Therefore, I decide the content.

Reading this blog does not make you my friend. It does not engage you in a relationship with me. Most of my readers understand that. Some, unfortunately, need to be reminded of this. I no longer have “peeps” … anywhere. I had to give that up … see paragraph 2. The few people I do engage in relationship with, I talk to outside of the blog forum (e.g. e-mails and phone). Reading this blog engages you in a very one-sided view of my life. The view that I decide to let you in on.

Last, I considered adding category called RAYOR (Read At Your Own Risk). I could categorize any posts which may offend those of you with overly sensitive eyes as RAYOR. Then you could shield yourselves from offensive content while enabling yourselves to continue your voyeuristic peek into my life. How utterly ludicrous. I will no more do that than I will fly to the moon. You must decide for yourself, just like all the other adults on the internet, what is appropriate to read and what isn’t. And how you will process it and live with what you’ve read. That is your responsibility … not mine. It is an unfortunate truth that my experience is not unique. So if you are reading Emerging Grace or Brother Maynard or similar blogs as they write about their CLBs and finding a grain of truth there, unfortunately, I have discovered the same ugly beast alive and well in my former faith community. To deny that is to deny the truth of my experience. I tried that … it didn’t work for me.

If I sound angry, that might be because … I am. I am angry because I was forced to leave a community and friends I loved more than any place and people I ever loved. I loved those people, all of them even the bully almost more than my family and I had to leave in order to preserve the community and my family. So, I am angry that leaving was somehow not enough. For some reason it is expected that I maintain utter silence, virtue and fidelity to that community which betrayed me. I won’t do that. I am not going to keep those secrets anymore … I won’t buy anyone’s salvation with my silence. In the words of Anne Lamott: “If people don’t want you to write about them, they ought to behave a lot better.” Make no mistake about it … this is a line in the sand and I intend it to be such. If you choose to cross it, you do so at your own risk. If members of my CLB continue to read my blog after this point, you will read things that will make you uncomfortable. You may or may not speculate as to my intent, but you may not engage in that speculation on this blog. Get your own blog for that and I won’t read it. You have no business delving into my affairs at that level.

Is the Pope Catholic?
Jul 13th, 2007 by Sonja

I’ve read quite a bit over the last week about Pope Benedictine’s latest pronouncement from Vatican City. Mostly I’ve been wondering why everyone seems to need to make a fuss over his pronouncement. PopeB is just doin’ his thing. He’s pretty strict from what I understand and this latest bit seems to be right in line with that. Then I read this article by Roland Martin and everything clicked into place. Here’s a little teaser, but read the whole thing for yourself, it’s worth the effort:

It doesn’t matter what Pope Benedict XVI has to say, or for that matter, any other religious leader. A Christian believes in Jesus Christ and what He had to say, not what a man of God has to say. This is not an attempt to completely dismiss religious leaders, but is further evidence of what happens when ego is more important than the work of Christ.

Bridging the Gap (July Synchroblog)
Jul 12th, 2007 by Sonja

I count myself among the lucky ones. The lucky few. When I was young, certainly this was not on our agenda. It was not going to be our heritage. This became ours rather later in my life. I’m speaking of our summer home on the lake.

Chateaugay at big dockWe call it “camp.” This is somewhat of a misnomer. When I speak of camp, as in, “We’re going to camp,” most people think of a camp with bunk houses and mess hall and that sort of thing. Not so much. This is a turn of the last century Victorian summer cottage. There are five bedrooms and we’re right on the waters of Lake Champlain in Vermont. A few 100 feet from our front porch lie the remains of the old concrete dock where the Ticonderoga steam paddlewheeler used to dock. This boat brought people and goods from New York City to the people who summered here. It was quite fashionable back in the day for the wealthy and upper-middle class of the cities to have summer homes on lakes. The men would send their families to those homes for the summer. Often they also sent the wait staff as well. The men would join them for weekends and a week or two of vacation. Hence the necessity of the Ticonderoga and its sister ship the Chateaugay … they ferried men from the end of the railroad that had brought them up from the city to the summer homes on the lake for vacations and weekends, then back to the city at the end of each stay. Women and children stayed for the whole summer. The camps stayed in families for generations, or were given to new families. Each point has it’s own community and character or “feeling.”

It’s interesting being here. There’s a sense of community here that is permeable. Permanent. A sense of permanence that is from another time. We have traditions here that are silly and timeless, but tolerated. The roots here run deep. We come back summer after summer for truncated friendships that last for years.

It’s a funny place too. There is something in the air here. In the photo above, the dock is at the very tip of our point. If you round the point by foot you can’t get very far as the rocks rise high in the air out of the water. But right there, just before the cliffs begin, at the waters edge there is a clear spot. There is a large rock just off the shoreline and across the lake is Split Rock in New York. If you sit very still and quietly you can begin to sense the other world shimmering just over the horizon. You can hear it thrumming in your ears. It is a place where the glass clears briefly. I get the sense sometimes that it is an ancient passage. I wonder if it is because the Abenaki tribe used this spot for their rituals, or did the Abenaki get this sense as well and thus choose the spot?

These camps and our rituals here were established in era when men (humans) gazed into the future triumphantly. It was only a matter of time and trial before the key to utopia was found. The utopian vision of human perfection was fresh, the dream was real and realizable. I wonder sometimes if these little communities were established as a step towards achieving utopia … achieving perfection … at least for a little piece of time. Maybe only during the summer.

It has been a hallmark of the modern era to search for perfection. We have reached for the skies in our buildings, modes of transportation, and even discovery. We have dug down deep into the cellular and molecular level to find medical perfection. Perfect bodies can be sculpted with knives and silicon and other bits. Perfect minds can be created with medication. Perfectly comfortable environments can be created to achieve the desired mood … Do we want people to shop? Create this temperature, this music, that atmosphere. Do we want them to work? Then this temperature, that music, this atmosphere. Whatever we want from people, we have the ability to manufacture the perfect place … utopia. We have even achieved the ability to extend life beyond the time when perhaps it is wise … now we no longer know when death occurs in many cases. Or when it should. We argue over when life begins … and when it ends. May we live forever. Utopia.

I wonder if we’re coming to the beginning of the end of that era. If we are beginning to realize the limits of our human fallibility. The new so-called post-modern era may be the beginning the pendulum swinging back. It is a sea change of how the world works. If we begin to understand that all of life here on earth is not ultimately perfectible, how do we live? That basic assumption has guided western thought for the past 350 years. Search yourself. Think hard about how go about each day and how you think about the future … you will find that your assumptions are that your life is going to slowly but surely get better. We assume that it is a “rule” that each succeeding generation should “do better” than it’s parents. These are utopian ideas at their core. The idea that heaven can be achieved here, without God.

So, as I sit on the porch of this nearly 100 year old cottage, and reflect on the people who built it. I think about them and their dreams. Why they built this place, what they were escaping. Some of the things they were escaping were the same as I … the city heat and stink, cramped space and loud noise. Others are different and yet the same. They came here to get fresh air and so do I. Yet I come here to feel the fresh air, not canned, perfect air. They came here to achieve a little utopia and I come here to escape the modern version. I come here to understand, again, the limits of our human hands and feel, once again, the power of the elements on my skin. And I marvel at how a place from the past can be a bridge to the future. A future that will likely be stripped of utopian thinking, but will be all the more livable because of it.

This month’s SynchroBlog is a series of discussions on Utopian ideas. As is a perfect Utopian concept, we have not mandated the topic on Utopia to be specific to any one concept, or dogma. So please … follow the links to check out what ma peeps’s writ’n ’bout:

Steve Hayes at Notes from the Underground
John Morehead at John Morehead’s Musings
Nudity, Innocence, and Christian Distopia at Phil Wyman’s Square No More
Utopia Today: Living Above Consumerism at Be the Revolution
Nowhere Will Be Here at Igneous Quill
A This-Worldly Faith at Elizaphanian
The Ostrich and the Utopian Myth at Decompressing Faith
Being Content in the Present at One Hand Clapping
Eternity in their Hearts by Tim Abbott
Relationship – The catch-22 of the Internet Utopia at Jeremiah’s Blog
U-topia or My-topia? at On Earth as in Heaven
A SecondLife Utopia at Mike’s Musings
Mrs. Brown and the Kingdom of God at Eternal Echoes

Adventures In Cooking
Jul 10th, 2007 by Sonja

On the menu this evening:

Hmmm … well … I dunno. Let’s see what’s in the frig. So I looked in the frig. I found the makings of a grand chicken and wild rice salad with dried cranberries and almonds and some other things that I found (frozen peas, green onions, etc.). It really, really needed a curried salad dressing though. I said as much to LightHusband. But I despaired. There would never be curry powder in this kitchen. My mom hates curry. It just doesn’t sit right with her. She’s well mannered about it and still tries it every now and again. But she simply doesn’t care for it. So there would be no reason to find curry powder in the camp kitchen.

Top Shelf

This kitchen is very old. It never does to make assumptions about what one might find or not find in the cupboards of this kitchen. I looked in the regular cabinets. The ones we use all the time with the fresh herbs and spices. I came up with some of the ingredients in curry powder, but not all. I was working the “yankee ingenuity” angle. If I couldn’t have curry, I was going to make a facsimile of curry that still tasted good. LightHusband, on the other hand, was not so easily swayed. He went straight for the jugular.


Yanked open the door, let in some light, clanked a few bottles together and moments later yelled, “Eureka!” Okay. He didn’t yell, “Eureka.” But … He dove into the pantry, searched the antique spice bottles which see only the barest glimmer of light in the far back corner of the cupboard and he found … curry powder. What he said was, “Well I found some … but it’s got to be at least 50 years old! I don’t think it’s ever been opened.” I said, “Do you think I should open it?” It felt like a treasure or something.

Curry Powder

But there it was … curry powder that is potentially older than I. So I opened it, expecting it to smell like a sneeze. Instead all the treasures of India met my nose. We were both amazed. I supposed I should know better, I once made pudding older than I when I was a teenager here in this kitchen.  But that was then.  Older than I, was much younger then.  And spices seem to have greater limitations than pudding.   So I used the curry powder in my chicken and wild rice salad.  It needed a little vinegar and a dash of salt, but that curry powder has more kick than any curry powder I’ve purchased recently.  It was some of the best salad I’ve made in a long time.  Too bad I’ll never be able to replicate it … you can’t get 50+ year old curry powder just anywhere!

It’s Catching …
Jul 10th, 2007 by Sonja

… so LightHusband created himself and I am pleased to introduce:

Reginald Bean:


Then I got a little silly in the head and created the LightChildren. I’d let them create themselves, but they are with their grandparents and don’t have internet access. So they’re stuck with what their horrid old mother did. This is why we don’t have a college fund … we have a psychiatric fund for them. So here are Rosalie and Scooter Barnaby-Bean:


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