Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Monday, December 31, 2007

For Those Who Live With Depression

Just wanted to say, as we roll over into 2008, that I've gained a greater respect this year for those who live with depression each day of their lives and "keep on keeping on."

For insights from Jon, who lives with his wife Heather's chronic depression, visit Blurbomat.

Milton says, "My depression has beaten me like a rented mule this past week," writing with his usual straightforwardness -- even as he reminds himself and all of us -- "I am not alone."

For any of you out there who fight the beast named depression, know that I admire your guts and perseverance. And your honesty.

On a slightly different topic -- Cynthia recently wrote a very personal post about rape and its aftermath -- required reading for anyone who wants to understand how a victim feels and offer them help. Hint: First, practice saying "it's not your fault. No one deserves to be raped."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Have a Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all of you!

See if you can read the sign on the wall next to Anna (click on photo for a closer view). We took a trip to Tunisia over Christmas.
David flies back to Grand Rapids on January 2nd. It's been fun rubbing elbows and getting chummy as a family again.

Oh, in other breaking news--Danielle's appointed to a Peace Corps position in Romania, teaching English to middle and secondary-schoolers. If the rest of her papers go through fine, she departs mid-May for training in the States, and then to somewhere in Romania. Have any of you visited or lived there?

Here's a family picture, now that we're all five together. It's taken in Carthage, which I never realized belonged to Tunisia. Piles and piles of Roman ruins all around the country.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Christmas Poem

"In the Bleak Midwinter" is a poem I've always liked, and this seems an appropriate time of year to post it.

In the Bleak Midwinter

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

--Christina Rossetti (1872)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Little People Art

For your enjoyment, two different links I've come across with miniature people posed in artful ways...

Little People--A Tiny Street Art Project (little handpainted people, left in London to fend for themselves)
and
another group of photos, with little people and food (can you really mow a kiwi?).

Friday, December 14, 2007

Better Than Crack (Ha Ha, Mom)

A great cookie recipe. My oldest daughter baked two separate batches this week and they both disappeared within 24 hours.

Raspberry Chocolate Triangles

Oven -- 350 degrees.

1 1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter (soft)
1-10 oz. package frozen sweetened raspberries (or add sugar to unsweetened berries)
1/4 cup orange juice (or I've substituted lemon juice)
1 T. cornstarch
1 cup chocolate chips
Melted vanilla chips

Mix flour, sugar and butter.
Press flour mixture in 9 x 13 inch pan & bake 15 minutes.
Mix raspberries, orange juice and cornstarch.
Heat to boil, stirring.
Boil and stir 1 minute, cool 10 minutes.
Sprinkle chocolate chips over crust.
Spread carefully.
Spoon raspberry mix over chocolate.
Bake 20 minutes or until mix is set.
Refrigerate until firm.
You may drizzle melted vanilla chips over the top.
Cut into 3 inch squares.
Cut each square into 4 triangles. Voila!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Weihnachtsmarkt Time




Once again, it's Christmas market time in Germany. Heidelberg has a few different markets along the Hauptstrasse, all offering Glühwein (hot spiced wine), waffles dusted with powdered sugar, pork steak and onion sandwiches, deep fried potato pancakes topped with berries and cream, crepes, and many other food offerings. As you can see, most of them won't improve your chloresterol count...except for the Kräuter Bonbons (herb candy), that is.
Anna said that when we move back to the States (whenever that is...) she's going to miss these Christmas markets. So will I--they're better than glitzy malls and flashing lights everywhere. Portland's Saturday Market is the closest I've seen in the U.S.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I got Barbara Kingsolver's book--Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life--and am in the middle of reading it. Then this morning, I discovered that Milton (of Don't Eat Alone)just reviewed her book on another site. Check it out.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Happy Birthday to My Baby Brother


Happy Birthday to my brother, Dan--as proof of his craziness, he ran the Death Valley Marathon last weekend. Will the Antarctic Marathon be next??

Love you, Dan.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Free Rice

Free Rice is a fun place to learn new words and help donate rice at the same time. Innovative idea. And Snopes confirms the claim--the rice is truly being donated, it's no urban legend.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Britishisms 2

My daughter got on the hotel elevator yesterday with a English man. Making conversation, he asked her, "Are you on holiday, then?"
"Yes," she answered. "It's our Thanksgiving."
"Ah..." he said. "Must be one of those colonial things."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Britishisms

A few weeks ago I sent a picture book manuscript to an editor in England. Recently, she replied, asking me to email her my "potted history."

At first, I thought of potted plants...potting soil...then I realized what she wanted! (potted = abridged, brief)

Made me laugh. An example of those little language differences.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bunny Ears Murphy

We spoil this animal so much. He gets to lick out all the yogurt and sour cream containers when we're done with them. He sleeps in the recliner at night. He holds his leash in his mouth and tries to take us for a walk. He moans at the door if we accidentally shut him out of the bedroom.
But he sure is cute, isn't he? Anna calls him her "little brother."

How Do You Worship?

I found an interview online recently that interests and challenges me--in it, Anne Zaki talks with Joel and Amy Navarro, a couple from the Philippines, about what Christians in the Philippines and U.S. can learn from each other. Just an excerpt below; for more, follow the link.

************************************************************************************* What have you found most challenging or shocking as you worship here?

Amy: I still wish I could move more. When nobody else is moving, that situation inhibits me.

Joel: The opulent use of technology and massive performing forces in worship in your mega-churches is always a cause for culture shock. Beyond that, I miss hearing a broader mix of music. Churches need to be politically and culturally sensitive to the makeup of their congregations. I hear music from Mexico and Africa being represented, but I have yet to hear music from Asia, the Middle East, or Eastern Europe.

Being committed to welcoming people of color is a good thing, but housing the culture of people of color is a higher commitment. Churches need to decide: “Even though we are the dominant color here, we must show preferential treatment for people of color. Christ incarnated himself to become one with the poor, the alien, and the alienated.”

What does that mean in practical steps?

Joel: White people need to identify with non-white people, to engage themselves more in the culture of the emotions, the perspective of the heart, and the perspective of relationships. The diversity I seek is not just in terms of color, but also in educational background.

Language from the pulpit doesn't always have to be profound. We do yearn for the eloquent from time to time, but sometimes we need to hear the language of the poor and the uneducated, as a way of engagement. The Jesuits have a term for this – preferential option for the poor.

Amy: So to be preferential also means covering topics that are significant to immigrants, like establishing one's identity, discovering one's role in this community, and carrying out the purpose for which God has brought that person to this new community.

Joel: We rarely see a person of color in the pulpit, challenging people in very plain language. I wonder how many of us internationals are invited to homes of white people. Many churches ask international people to speak in Sunday school on random mornings. How about inviting them to speak in the pulpit?

Amy: Even just once a year, or once a quarter, invite non-whites to give their testimonies. The choice of topics and speakers should reflect the church's commitment to diversity.

What has been instructive that you wish to recreate back in the Philippines?

Amy: I appreciate very much the Sunday when we remember victims of abuse. Until now in the Philippines, physical and emotional abuse is a topic that is rarely spoken in the pulpit. I think it's so beautiful to dedicate a whole Sunday service—liturgy, music, and prayers—to that issue.

Joel: The practice of Communion at Church of the Servant CRC moves me profoundly—the music we sing as we gather around the elements, and as the bread and wine are passed from communicant to communicant. I also find its liturgy excellent, thoughtful, and carefully prepared. The use of the liturgical calendar is especially helpful.
*************************************************************************************
This article was first published by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship:
http://www.calvin.edu/worship/.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Eternal Light, Shine Into Our Hearts

Eternal light, shine into our hearts, Eternal Goodness, deliver us from evil,
Eternal Power, be our support,
Eternal Wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance,
Eternal Pity, have mercy upon us;
that with all our heart and mind and soul and strength
we may seek thy face and be brought by thy infinite mercy to thy holy presence;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Alcuin of York (735-804)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Colors, They Are a-Changin'

This is the route I walk each week...I usually pass at least one to two joggers, quite a few folks walking dogs, and several bicyclists.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Another Bedtime Story

Ran across this picture book in a catalog I picked up at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and I can think of several children who'd like it for a birthday gift. Nice cover art!
I did wonder if magic honey could take over a share of the market from Beano...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

In The Mood To Bake

On a cool fall day, nothing's nicer than a warm loaf of pumpkin bread...so here's my own adaptation of several recipes I've used:

PUMPKIN BREAD

1 1/2 cups flour (I use 1 cup white and 1/2 cup whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or raisins (optional)

1 Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.
2 Mix the pumpkin, oil, applesauce, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients. Stir in nuts or raisins, if desired.
3 Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Turn out of the pan and let cool on a rack.

Makes one loaf of moist, tasty bread. Enjoy! Both my daughters came back for seconds and thirds.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What a Wonderful World

This is my favorite Louis Armstrong song of all time. Needed to share it with you (and myself) today. Despite all the pain and sadness in life, I don't ever want to forget -- what a wonderful world.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Words Can Be Tricky

A few weeks ago, I visited the Frankfurt Book Fair, since it's only 45 minutes north of me--and one of the biggest events of its type in the world. Did I mention BIG? Overwhelming might be a better word.

Anyway, I mainly stuck to the hall for English language publishers, but visited the area for German publishers at one point. Pushing past the crowded masses of stalls with an acquaintance, I asked her, "Do you have any idea how I can find my friend's publisher? She said she'd be at their booth."
"What's the publisher's name?" Kristin asked.
"Umm. Hmm. Oh, I remember...it's Verlag!" I answered, feeling proud of myself.
Silence. Kristin smiled.
"Laurie? You do know that Verlag just means publisher in German?" Kristin said.
Oh.
Never did find that friend. Too many Verlags.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Halloween Approaches...

With Halloween quickly approaching, our thoughts turn to costumes and candy bars (ok, I confess, I was the mother who handed out plastic spider rings and boxes of raisins when my kids were little). While you're choosing a costume or helping family and neighbor children think of good dress-up characters, here's a helpful perspective to ponder.

Also, see Betsy's blog for a unique costume link!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Why Do We Write?

Our discussion question this week from the Writer's Center: Why do you write?

My answer:
I write because I like words. I like putting them together. I enjoy their sounds.
And it’s amazing to see a poem or story emerge that I never knew was inside. Sometimes writing helps crystallize a moment in time.
I write to understand, to “make sense of life,” as Nadine Gordimer says. To try and figure out how I feel and think about spiders, people, God, spaghetti, and anything else. Somehow the act of writing taps deep inside and accesses those thoughts and emotions.
I write to have a voice. So many people want to talk loudly, all at once. Maybe it’s easier for me to speak through writing.
I write because I love reading the writing of others -- books and essays and poetry and stories. And I hope to give at least give a little of the same.
Good question!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Happy 25th to Us!

Wow, I really liked primary colors back in 1982, didn't I?

Yesterday was our 25th Anniversary. Jeff and I celebrated earlier in September by taking an overnight trip to Cologne (Koln), Germany.
My grandfather, Rev. Daniel Brose, helped marry us, and that means even more to me now then it did back then. Susan, Beth and Jackie, my two sisters and Jeff's sister, were bridesmaids, along with my brother Dan as a groomsman. Mom and Dad walked me down the aisle. And I can't forget my college roomates, Lisa, Allison, and Mary, also bridesmaids.
What a bunch of wonderful people! They made me laugh--when Jeff and I kissed, everyone pulled noisemakers out of pockets and bouquets, and blared a loud "Waanhh."
Remember anything funny that happened at your wedding or a friend's wedding?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Divided

Stone from the Costa Brava, Spain
We, too, can divide ourselves, it's true.
But only into flesh and a broken whisper.
Into flesh and poetry.
—from "Autotomy" by Wislawa Szymborska

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Listen To This!

Amazing.

Thanks to Natalie from Italian Moments for the link.

Jeff, Minus The Mustache


Just wanted David to see proof that his Dad shaved off the mustache. Now do you believe me, Javier? (Jeff's never been seen without facial hair, at least not in recent memory)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Gotham Writers Center

This is week four of a class--Children's Book Writing--I'm taking through the Gotham Writers' Workshop, based in New York. They offer both in-person and online classes . So far, so good. This motivates me to write every day and to try some new ideas. Nora Raleigh Baskin teaches the class I'm in at the moment.


Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sonnenschein Für Immer

I joined friends in the Schwetzingen gardens for a picnic today. After munching, I wandered around, using my camera's macro mode (which I only just discovered--good reason to read instructions when the camera arrives in the mail). Shot lots of closeups of flowers and other autumn-looking vegetation. Just can't believe I waited all this time to figure out a few buttons on my camera. You'd think the tulip symbol on top of the dial might have given me a small clue...


Saturday, September 29, 2007

At Least It's Not The Plague

I'm the designated "nurse" today--Anna caught a flu bug or something, and keeps a stainless steel bowl ready beside the couch for her next stomach upheaval. No fun, for her. I have to make sure the dog doesn't jump on her in his exuberance. He doesn't seem to understand the concept of sickness or being quiet.

Today, I remembered what Mom used to do when I was sick. She'd toast a piece of white bread, butter it, and float it in warm milk. Then she served me "milk toast," guaranteed to warm the body and spirit.

Wonder if that's where the phrase "milque-toast" originated. Must google it. Hmmm...this sounds like the same dish, but not with such fond memories.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Think About It

Last week, we had visitors from Oregon--Ashley, who lived up the cul-de-sac from us in Aloha, and her friend Andrea. Fun times. I showed them around Heidelberg and they washed clothes in between outings. Ashley and Andrea had just come from Italy and kept saying va bene (it goes well). After two days here, they boarded the train for Paris.

I love it when friends visit. So, I wanted to extend an invitation to any readers: if you visit Germany while I'm living here, email me. I'll pick you up at the Heidelberg train station or Frankfurt airport and give you the tour! And if we have room, you can stay a few nights at our house. Just think about it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Thoughts On Hebrews Eleven

I've been mulling over Hebrews 11 lately. Recently, I submitted a poetry collection entitled "A Stranger On Earth" to a children's publishing house and I'm waiting for their reply. The poems are about the country of Burundi and its people, and about my experiences growing up there. Here's where the title of my collection comes from:

11By faith Abraham, even though he was past age—and Sarah herself was barren—was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
13All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.

14People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.
--Hebrews 11: 11-14

I think part of the reason this passage speaks so strongly to me is due to my upbringing as a "Third Culture Kid." Home is important to me--but where's my real home? In Africa, where I spent most of my first ten years, a year in high school, and a summer in college ? Or in Oregon, where we moved next? It took quite a long time (into my thirties) for me to begin to feel truly American. At the core, I was still a mix. Anyway, you get the picture.

Now, we're in Germany, and Oregon feels like home. What a crazy mixed-up world...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

More Signs

Once again, I had to post a few signs from around Germany. I particularly like the one below:
which leads me to ask, are you a "friend of weasels" too?

Monday, September 10, 2007

My Saturday Entertainment

I took part in my first Volksmarch on Saturday -- we started in Heidelberg, walking 10 kilometers up into the hills above the city and then back down. Quite an idyllic view up top. Reminded me of Switzerland, with cows grazing and green pastures.
I also made a sidetrip into the World War One cemetery (with Kelly, who likes taking pictures too). Sobering, seeing the names engraved on grave markers. So many fallen soldiers, so many stone crosses.
After the Volksmarch, I claimed my prize for finishing: a large beer stein with a picture of Heidelberg's Königstuhl. I enjoy a few sips of beer, but that's all. Guess I'll have to use it for Orangina ... I know, sacrilege for those true beer fans.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Around Town


What do you think of this sign?
I'm not so sure I'd want my children watching "Cinderella Meets Dirty Old Drunk Guy..."
Maybe I missed something in translation.

Monday, September 03, 2007

In Alsace

David flew out yesterday to return to college -- before he left, we took a whirlwind trip to Colmar, France.

Stayed overnight at Chez Leslie, a bed & breakfast within walking distance of the old town.



















After breakfasting on the best croissants in town, we cycled through cornfields and vineyards to the tiny town of Eguisheim. As we passed one farmyard, a little white mutt with a distinct resemblance to Snowy chased David, nipping at his heels and spurring him to cycle even faster.

That afternoon, we took in the Musee d'Unterlinden: spent a long time pondering the Isenheim Altarpiece and moved on to Picasso afterwards.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Few Snaps

A few snapshots of my time in Oregon for Mom and Dad's 50th anniversary -- this first picture shows our folks with Beth, Dan, myself, and Susan -- the four siblings.

All the cousins (except for David & Anna, back in Germany). My oldest daughter, Danielle, stands top left. Then, moving clockwise, Aaron, Josiah, Gabrielle, Andrew, Hannah, Benjamin, and Austin. A great group, and I'd still say that if I weren't the "auntie."

Bubble Tea Recipes

JW asked for bubble tea recipes -- here are a few:

* Bubble tea history and recipe -- "The drink originally started as a childhood treat in Taiwan in the late 1980's at small tea stands in front of the schoolhouses."

* Another bubble tea recipe

I've never tried to make my own bubble tea, but it doesn't look too hard. Just need to hunt down a store that sells large tapioca pearls...they must be sold somewhere in Germany.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Update From the Northwest

Yesterday I canoed with my two sisters, a few of their children, and Danielle in Sunriver. When the waterfront worker picked us up at the end of our 2 hour trip, I asked if he liked his job.

"Yeah, except a lot of people do stupid things and end up hurting themselves here," he replied. Recently, one teenager swung out far over the river on a rope swing, but forgot to let go and smashed back hard into the rock cliff wall. Another man injured himself falling out of a porta-potty, and when his young daughter saw his gashed leg, she fainted dead away. That was just the beginning... I'll bet the emergency room does good business this time of the year.

In other news: Trina of In the Buj posted about my brother, Dan, and his wife Tam. She wrote a nice tribute -- Dan and Tam just moved back to Oregon from Burundi, Africa.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Our Law-Abiding Neighbor

Olaf, our neighbor across the road, waves and says "Hallo!" whenever we see him. He's also the self-appointed "enforcer" of German laws in our neighborhood (given that many of us rent our rowhouses, so haven't lived here long enough to memorize the entire canon of South Germany rules ...).

Mike, an American who lived next door to us for two years, had a feud going with Olaf. Mike's daughter liked to play her rock music loudly with the windows open on Sunday afternoon. You may not realize, but Baden-Wurttemberg has quiet hours during the week from 1-3:00 in the afternoon, and all day on Sunday and holidays. This means: no lawn-mowers revving up then, no screaming and shouting, no loud car engines, and of course, no stereos blasting. But Mike didn't take kindly to Olaf's reminders about needing to be quieter. In fact, he may have encouraged his daughter to continue playing her music at an even higher volume. Maybe it's just as well that they're no longer living kitty-corner to each other.

But I had to chuckle at what my husband, Jeff, described seeing this morning--the neighbor directly across from us owns a huge golden retriever that barks its head off at random moments. Olaf walked over to their patio and leaned close to the fence. He whispered to the dog, "shhh, shhh," and held his finger to his lips. For several minutes, Olaf stayed there, making sure the retriever understood the importance of quiet hours. After he left, all was silent.

Now, if I still had cranky toddlers? I'd hire Olaf in an instant. Then I'd let him work his magic during nap-time. This man has a gift.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Oregon, Here I Come

In less than a week, I'll be setting foot in Oregon again. My folks are celebrating their 50th anniversary, and (miracle of miracles), all four of us kids plan to celebrate with them. Danielle's going too, on a separate flight. I'm gloating here: got the ten hour, straight shot Lufthansa flight! Last time, Anna and I had two LONG connections, and by the time we boarded the last plane headed towards the west coast, I came very close to using my handy "personal motion discomfort bag."

I won't be able to connect much with friends in Portland--most of the time is booked--a week in Sunriver with the entire clan, and a few days in Newport at the beach. So I guess that means I'll need to make a repeat trip soon...

What I can't wait for:
* The one-of-a-kind Sylvia Beach Hotel, a hotel for book lovers! This place is quirky and fun. A spot to meet intriguing people from all over the world. Check out some of the rooms.
* Walking along Nye Beach and listening to the waves. Picking up smooth rocks. Hearing the seagulls. Feeling the ocean mist on my face.
* Laughing with my family at the same old stories and silly jokes we bring up each time.
* Cycling along the trails at Sunriver. Sighting hawk, deer and maybe elk.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

For My Youngest Sister

Susan -- hope you had a wunderbar birthday celebration!

I'm bringing you a gift from Germany (just pray it doesn't break in the suitcase).

A few of your special qualities:
* You combine an artist's outlook with a down-to-earth business mind.
* You're always willing to try ethnic food--Thai, Mexican, Ethiopian, or any other triple chili pepper blend.
* You inspire me with your fitness walking.
* You have a knack for learning new things quickly.
* You care about your kids and take time for them.
* You make me laugh!
* You don't remind me too often that I'm the older sister.

Susan, I could write a lot more, but I mainly want you to know that I love you and you'll always be an important part of my life. I'm glad we got to spend time together in Italy last November and I'm looking forward to seeing you again in less than a week. Let's treat ourselves to espressos and tiramisu...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Thought-Provoking

If I hadn't started painting, I would have raised chickens. -- Grandma Moses

Everything is a miracle. It is a miracle that one does not dissolve in one's bath like a lump of sugar. -- Pablo Picasso

I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could. -- Georgia O'Keefe

Art is never finished, only abandoned. -- Leonardo da Vinci

Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly? -- Frida Kahlo

I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me--like food or water. -- Ray Charles

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Waiting Game

Well, I'm feeling productive. Got a themed collection of thirty-five Africa poems off in the mail yesterday to a children's/young adult publishing house. Now, I'll wait a long time for their reply. Also, I have two children's picture book stories out at a different publishers, along with several poems submitted to Weavings journal.

Time to figure out what to focus on now. Should I work on chapter 3 of a young adult novel I started awhile back? Or pick up the thread of an old picture book that needs reworking? I could send out a few completed essays that came back with a "no..."last month. Choices, choices.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pawing Through Old Photos

I'm rummaging through boxes of old photos, and thought I'd post a few pictures from younger days--Laurie and friends holding new puppies (a mix of our dachshund and the local basenji breeds).

Burundian women carrying loads of firewood and produce home from market--notice their excellent posture! Also, I now realize how much strength it takes to carry those loads any distance. Amazing.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Happy 23rd Birthday

Happy July birthday to Danielle:

History buff,
black tea drinker,
dog-hugger,
étudiante de Français,
wonderful oldest daughter,
shoe-hoarder,
service project volunteer,
Gilmore Girls watcher,
gear shift driver,
raspberry chocolate fiend,
avid reader,
world traveler,
DANIELLE!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Time to Play Tag

Ginger at Joyful Woman tagged me to write eight random facts about myself. Without too much extended thought, here you go:

1. I’m the oldest child of four, and somewhat compulsive about knowing what’s going to happen in the near future (surprise parties throw me for a loop, fyi).
2. I love Tandoori chicken, Tazo Earl Grey tea with milk and sugar, dark chocolate, Thai chicken pizza, and, I guess, pretty much any type of food. When my youngest challenged me to tell her a food I didn’t like, I replied, “Umm, brains on toast?”
3. My brother’s nickname for me as a kid was “Truck.” As in lorry=Laurie. Those Brits out there will understand. Also, I got called “Professor” at boarding school when I started wearing glasses.
4. Like Ginger, I enjoyed climbing trees constantly as a child. Tall, bendy, spicy-smelling eucalyptus trees. I also liked lying in our tree house, listening to the wind blow.
5. Bumblebees are another one of my loves. They’re just so much fun to watch, bumbling among the blossoms. They’re like clumsy planes which somehow manage to become airborne.
6. As far as I know, I’ve never broken a bone or had strep throat. I did take tons of malaria medicine growing up and suffered my fair share of immunizations.
7. In high school, I skipped countless afternoon classes my junior/senior years and drove the country roads around Gresham. (Not recommended, for you students out there).
8. Choir concerts in old cathedrals and African drumming both make me happy.

I’m tagging :

Betsy at Blog Ness Monster
Holly at And Sew It Is
Laura at Today On My Wanderings
Milton at Don’t Eat Alone

The rules:
* Players start with eight random fact about themselves.
* People who are tagged need to write their own blog about eight things and post these rules.
* At the end of the blog, choose eight (or less!) people to tag and list their names and blog addresses.
* Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged.

Friday, July 13, 2007

What's Your Idol?

Just returned from gassing up the car at our local Esso station. While there, I glimpsed a bright yellow pickup with this logo on the side:

"IDOLATERS OF CLASSIC SCOOTERS" and in smaller letters underneath,
"Lambretta, Piaggio"

Did they maybe mean "Worshippers of Italian Scooters?" I'm guessing, here. But it made me look twice!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Latest Harry Movie

Took our two daughters to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix tonight. I think this one turned out to be my favorite movie so far--maybe because it felt so realistic--all that teen angst and Harry's struggles with grief and rejection. Good photography, too.

Ah, you gotta love German movie theatres, though. We reserved our seats ahead of time online (can you do this in the States?) and claimed our nice middle row, not-to-close-to-the-front spots. I had the option of purchasing Welde beer at the concession stand, along with nachos and sweet popcorn. What really threw me for a loop--Anna ordered a chocolate bar, and the snack person asked her, "from the Kühlschrank?" (from the fridge?). Apparently, if you like, the candy's precooled so it doesn't melt in your clammy, hot hands.

Anyway, a nice outing. If you send me an email at the address listed in my Blog profile, I'll mail you a Harry Potter postcard in German. Picked up three, so first come, first served.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Murphy's Chin-Rest

Our dog loves to rest his jowls on the bottom rung of our wooden dinner chair. Also, on the rockers of our rocking chair. I guess he just needs a little extra support now and then. Doesn't it make him look thoughtful?
Jeff and I have been discussing a few intense topics lately: where we might live in the future, types of jobs to consider, family finances, etc. Our discussions are helpful; however, I'm feeling the desire to mix a bit of lightness and humor into our daily lives. Jeff and I need to laugh more on a regular basis, especially with each other.

I like watching comedies with Jeff, and he reads the funnies from the newspaper to me on Sunday. We chuckle together about silly quirks in people, and the odd habits of our corgi.

My big question, thrown out into the blogosphere—
What ways have you found to laugh together in your relationship with a friend or family member? I’d love to hear some fresh ideas. Please leave suggestions in the comments below. Remember, you can sign in as Other, you don’t need a Blogger account to comment.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Park of Naked People



If you've never had an opportunity to visit Vigeland Sculpture Park, just on the outskirts of Oslo, Norway, here are a few photos from our trip to Oslo a few weeks ago. Jeff is half Norwegian on his mother's side, and he finally got to see the land of his ancestors. He thought the country beautiful but didn't care so much for the Norse fixation on fish for most meals. I have to say, on the bus from Torp airport, someone opened a packet of smoked salmon and munched on it on the drive to town. Had me salivating the entire way!

I loved Vigeland and could easily have spent all day there. On the other hand, my daughter Anna said, after a brief hour in the park, "I don't like it--isn't it kind of creepy to stare at a bunch of naked people, standing around in different poses?" I guess art appreciation truly is a matter of individual taste.

One of the things I noticed--Vigeland sculpted men, women, and children of all ages and shapes. Not only people in the prime of life, but those near life's end and just at the beginning. Genius, as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rwandan Litany

Here's the poem of mine that appeared in the spring 2007 edition of Portland Magazine, edited by Brian Doyle. Check out the magazine website for more stories and photos!

RWANDAN LITANY

Praise for the laughing group
of schoolchildren
& their chant: “abazungu, abazungu!”
Praise for the scarlet-crested turaco
wings flashing red and black,
pecking guavas split by the sun.
Praise for the priest’s forearm
corded with veins.
Praise for dugout fishing boats,
trolling Lake Kivu at midnight.
Praise for cowhide drums
beaten by men’s callused palms.
Praise for the widows, draped
in coarse cotton.
Praise for all manner of beetles.
Praise for yeast bread, baked
in rusted barrel ovens.
Praise for the overturned truck
on Kijabe’s slick curve,
a woman prematurely in labor
beside it.
Praise for rain on tin rooftops,
erratic tap-tap and din of water.
Praise for the market lady
and her piles of soap,
rice, razorblades.
Praise for the plastic shunt
in a child’s skull,
draining excess fluid.
Praise for coffee beans.
Praise for red dust
caking each eyelash.
Praise for voices rising
from terraced banana groves.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jeff!

Last week we were out of town and I didn't get to post on Jeff's big day. So now it's time-- Happy Birthday to you, Jeff, and here's to many years ahead!

See here, for a poem I wrote last year. It still holds true.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Such Oddballs

Topic of conversation at dinner last night:

Are mother birds bulimic?
(because they throw up food to feed their young)

Friday, June 15, 2007

And Yet More of Rothenburg

I shot many photos in Rothenburg, so here you go again...

A runaway carriage--

A view of the city from the castle gardens--



The infamous "Schneeballen" (otherwise known as snowballs--deep fried fatty pastries rolled in powdered sugar, dipped in dark chocolate, and otherwise made dangerous to the arteries)--