Sunday, August 30, 2009

Facts of Life, Gerbil-Style

What do you get when you mix a lonely, middle-aged, dominant, male gerbil [a.k.a. Sensei] with two younger, naive, skittish gerbilettes?

A homemade biology lesson, of course...

Earlier today:

Scene 1: Ben is found hunched over the kitchen table-

Me: "Ben, what happened?! Is that blood?"

Ben: "Yeah, well, I kind of destroyed my hand. I can't believe I was so stupid!"

Me: "How bad is it?"

Ben: [peels back a blood-soaked tissue] "What happened is, well, I was cleaning out Sensei's aquarium, and for some reason, I stupidly leaned on it while I was reaching, and I knew it was glass and all, but I didn't think, and my hand just went right through it..."

Outside on the deck, the wicked shards of evidence glitter in the sunshine.

Scene 2: A few hours later, Ben's right mitt is swathed in gauze and antibiotic ointment. Sensei has already "marked" and, now, eaten through the grocery bag that was to be his temporary abode. Suitable temporary accommodations are few and far fact, we seem to be fresh out of possibilities.

Against my better judgment, Sensei is quietly deposited into the Other Gerbil Aquarium; yes, that would be the Girls' Dorm, home to Sly and Desert, John's two little lady rodents.

Me: "Remember, Ben, this is vewy, vewy temporary...we're not getting into gerbil breeding around here."

Ben: "Right, right, I KNOW."

Scene 3: Never-before-heard high-pitched squeaks emanate from the newly coed gerbil aquarium in John's room.

Me: "Cecily, what is that noise?"

Miss Cee: [nonchalant]: "Oh, they're just having a little talking party in there, Mom."

Me: "Hmmm, well, that's funny, because I never heard that sound before when it was just the Girl gerbils, and everyone knows that girls talk all the time..."

Miss Cee: "Well, they must have more to say today."


Scene 4: John's head is seen leaning over the banister...

John: "Um, Ben? I think the gerbils are Doing Things."

Ben: "John, just leave them alone, I've already checked on them, and it's just fine..."

John: "I don't know..."

Ben: "John, it's FINE!"

Scene 5: I am innocently grading Cecily's grammar workbook pages.

Miss Cee: "Uh -oh."

Me: "What?"

Miss Cee: "Well, I better go get Ben. BENNNNNNNY!!!! You better come!!! Sensei and Sly are going to get married now!!! At least, I think they NEED to get married! Hurry up!!!"

Stay tuned, gentle readers...the coed gerbil dorm may soon be a nursery...and we'll be launching into Accelerated Biology class...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thanks for a great way to end the summer!
Bill and John--both die-hard Cub fans

"Man, this TOTALLY beats lying in a hospital bed!" - Ben

The 'digs' weren't too shabby at all!

Sophomore Sister, Senior Brother; also known as Numbers 2 and 3 in the Holliday line-up.

"Did I ever tell you about the time, 'in an earlier life' when John fell overboard and had to be fished out of the drink by a brave and quick-thinking uncle? I didn't think so...we try to keep that episode on the down-low now..."

Beach a [rare] moment of peace...

Looking out to Fremont Lake in Fremont, MI--a relaxing weekend, courtesty of our friends, Gary and Cheri---who are also responsible (is that the right word?!?!) for introducing the Ancient Hollidays...but that's another story.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Approaching the Finish Line"

I just returned from the home of a dear friend who moved her mom into her family’s home less than a week ago. Barring miraculous intervention, it is doubtful that Mrs. R. will reside in her own residence again. And, depending on how the Lord chooses to heal her-physically or ultimately- she may not reside in her earthly tent much longer.

Several years ago, the first of a series of unwanted medical diagnoses intersected her life and changed her circumstances, as such news tends to do. The original malignancies were overcome, but the unwanted visitor has now returned and taken up residence in her brain.

In the past several years, it has dawned on me repeatedly that life seems to get sadder as I get older. Like many aspects of this earthly journey, there’s an emotional, psychological counterpart to the physical entropy we all experience as the birthdays accumulate.

As I held Mrs. R’s hand, recalled some common memories, and helped her sip a shake, it occurred to me that maybe it is more accurate to frame it differently. There is sadness, of course. Life as we know it now is not how it was originally intended to be, when man inhabited the Garden where he heard “the sound of the Lord God walking …in the cool of the day” [Gen. 3:8]. The Fall, which is the pivot referenced whenever scholars talk about “prelapsarian” and “postlapsarian” history, is the origin of human sadness. If not for that, everything would be so unimaginably different.

But perhaps it is, finally, not so significant that life gets undeniably sadder. More to the point, it gets more real. As in what is really Real. The veils that obscure temporal life from eternity are peeled back with greater frequency. I’ve heard scoffers maintain that all it amounts to is ‘falling off the barge’—to be crass about it-- and into oblivion. They think this in part, I suspect, because they don’t want to be accountable and refuse to countenance the Truth they cannot change.

Quite a few years ago, I sought temporary refuge from my feuding preschoolers in the basement laundry room of our first home. The tumbling of the dryer was more soothing to a young mom’s nerves than tiny men squawking and bickering. Craving adult “conversation”, I had tuned into a Christian radio station and heard a man say things that hit me between the eyes.

Those were moments of transforming clarity for me. The statement that echoes in my mind even today, and which constitutes one of the lynchpins of my life view, goes as follows:

“This life is a walk toward eternity.”*

[*David Shibley.Ultimate Success.New Leaf Press, 1994.]
That handful of words expressed ultimate reality. Like selecting “Solution” on the pull-down menu of some computer games, formerly disparate components tumbled together into a whole. Answers to some pesky quandaries came into focus:
-“This life…” – we’re in it, but it’s not the ‘whole show’
-“…is a walk…” – it’s not static, it’s not a destination, it is a journey, a course progressing somewhere

-“…toward eternity.” – there is a purpose, afterall.
We’re destined, like it or not, to be somewhere Entirely Other. Or, as the British express it, we’re all going to “go elsewhere!”

In this sense, progress into the latter part of life is a matter of it getting more Real. When someone cuts us off in traffic, we don’t usually count that as a highlight of the journey, or a step toward understanding the ‘grand scheme.’ But when you stroke the cheek of a dying believer, or feel their fingers loosen around your own as the day’s strength ebbs away, you realize you’re touching someone’s “jar of clay” that will soon yield up its eternal treasure; and who they Really Are will enter the presence of the Lord, where

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"-- [I Corinthians 2:9]

That's the Real deal.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Winning Form"

Within the past 20 minutes, as I walked toward my vehicle in the church parking lot, I got another glimpse of the time warp we all subconsciously live in.

I’m getting a little more used to these episodes but, since one doesn’t usually “anticipate” them, they can still be jarring. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a well-dressed and dignified lady being escorted to the passenger side of a car. As her husband held her arm, she carefully bent herself at the waist to maneuver inside the vehicle, all the while keeping herself ramrod-straight from the waist up. I hope I didn’t noticeably slow my step as I walked by, but it was evident that she was having a bit of difficulty with her mobility. Still, they were managing well and negotiated it all in only slightly more time than it probably “used to” take.

“Used to;” as in, “formerly;” as in, “may soon revert to, but is not quite the case yet.” In spite of myself, I reflexively did a double-take and recognized this faithful couple-people who are part of the context and human scenery in the family of believers we’ve been part of for more than 25 years. We’ve never known them well enough to use the word “friends” in any but the broadest sense. There have, perhaps, been words spoken here and there, briefly, over the years. Maybe a general awareness that one child or the other of theirs has grown, married and is raising family of their own somewhere else now.

Time changes us all, but seemingly not at the same rate. Children of relatives we see only infrequently seem to undergo startling metamorphosis between visits. After adulthood is reached, there may be the occasional realization that someone’s hair is not just a new style, but perhaps a new hue. There may be a little “softening” in the jawline of someone’s profile (like mine!)

And then, as birthdays accumulate, gradual, irrevocable changes can become more noticeable—or, perhaps, harder to register subtly. One of my sons, now overlong in the easy denial of adolescence, often has an unnecessary and derogatory comment at such moments. I no longer bother to remind him that the only difference between himself and the person whose age he scorns is the passage of time…and that it will tell on him, too.

But I think it’s the unanticipated moments I find myself bouncing up against that offer a choice: they can either wear me down with the undeniability of decay and mortality; or they can be opportunities for recalibration. Always best to make the latter choice….much more useful.

Many years ago, as a college student, I found myself taking a mental note when my roommate’s fiancĂ© made casual reference to some future time when they, as a couple, would be “35 years into our marriage.” It was probably the first and last time I’d heard a 20-something male make such a comment. He was voicing his expectation and assumption about their relationship, based on the “ life-lens” through which he lived.

It seemed unusual for someone so young to project so far into the future, and with such certainty. I’m sure such a view is even more unusual now. [By my reckoning, it will only be a few more years until they will actually be at that milestone.]

Now and then, usually when we’ve been out somewhere, my husband and I will see an “older” couple [relative term, that!] and tell each other, “That will be us someday soon, doll.” Or, “we’re going to be just like that in a couple more months…”

Today, in the parking lot, the couple I saw had somehow, in a way ‘sudden’ to me, arrived “there.” Do they realize it? I’m sure they do . Do they regret it? That would seem to be an unwise expenditure of emotional energy. Do they accept the inevitable with grace or rancor? Do they treasure this stage, knowing that the future direction is inexorably downward…until these “earthly tents” are cast off for the Ultimate Improvement?

Just prior to stepping into the sunshine and out into the parking lot this morning, I learned that another woman had stepped into eternity two nights ago. I think I had been introduced to her once, years before. Shortly after that, I heard that the mother of another acquaintance has just received a dire diagnosis. So perhaps these newsflashes lent some gravitas to my emotional outlook.

But I reminded myself again, as I have been doing for my own past several birthdays, that it’s best to take The Long Look. These milestones undeniably progress….and I use the term “Progress” intentionally: both in terms of Moving Forward, and in terms of Getting Better.

For the lady in the parking lot, for the believing cancer patient who has now passed from Darkness to Light, for the slacker-jawed reflection I see in the mirror each morning: the physical evidence of entropy is most rightly understood as a prelude to the glorified bodies we will know in eternity.

I know that how we negotiate the twists and turns of mortal life matters—what we do with Jesus determines our Destination. How we live now reflects for good or for ill on who we are as people, and on the difference He is making for those of us who follow Him.

But I also look forward to that ultimate “winning form.”

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What He Does...

It's a blessing to realize you live with someone who is, occasionally at least, a source of Wisdom.

Not long ago, I came to the end of an unusually trying and discouraging day. As in, "boy, am I having A Day." Friends nod sympathetically; no one needs a definition.

Such days contain more stress and unanticipated How-Can-This-Be-Happening than any self-respecting 24-hour unit should contain. One climbs into bed more than depleted: it feels as if months of effort and persistence were consumed just to finally arrive at bedtime.

Mustering my last reserves to drag my other foot into bed, I turned to my semi-somnolent mate.

"Hey. I'm just wondering."


"I'm just feeling like...well, do you REALLY think God hears your prayers? All the time? Like, even at times like this?..."

A moment of silence and then familiar crinkly eyes squinted at me over his shoulder.

"Yes. He does."

"Are you Sure-Sure?"

A tired smile and nod. "Yes. He does. It's what He does. I don't understand it. And He doesn't hear me because I think He does. He does because of Who He is. He just does."

Hmmmm. Well, that's what I was thinking-and-hoping; but I didn't feel so sure.

Once again, move the lens off of myself and my Day and focus it back on The One Who Hears. And Sees It All.

It's what He does.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Attend, Please!"

Recently I read an interesting article in the online version of one of the London dailies. It was a thoughtful piece recounting some moments of unexpected emotional resonance that the author experienced in the aftermath of her ‘very civilized’ divorce. Eschewing an expensive divorce lawyer in favor of a simple paper contract they had drawn up together, the two estranged spouses apparently set about determining the destination of various pieces of shared property.

It was all so polite, so pragmatic, so unemotional. Evidently, they continued to ‘believe the best’ about each other as people of honor, despite the failure of their marriage. Personal schedules were even arranged so that the partner-still-in-residence would be absent when her counterpart (for lack of a better term) showed up to collect whatever possessions were agreed upon as his.

The only snag was the unanticipated, repressed—perhaps, even, compressed?—emotions that simmered near the surface when certain, ostensibly mundane, household items morphed into Objects of Contention. Who knew?

It seemed to me that no particular professional insight was needed to understand this: when an intimate human relationship is torn asunder and the consequent emotional toll is denied, it’s bound to come out somehow…even in so “petty” a matter as who wins possession of the kitchen cutlery. And, sure enough, the writer included a couple of quotes, attributed to behavioral experts, which bore this out.

She wound up her account noting that when all was said and done, she realized that what really lay ahead of her was A New Life; all the rest was just “stuff and nonsense.”

If this is the culmination of her emotional processing and allows her to ‘move on,’ I imagine it was a helpful insight for her.

But, not for the first time, I couldn’t help wonder what all had gone wrong for this couple who had built a life together—gone so wrong that, ultimately, a civilized rupture was the only legacy left from more than two decades together…

On one hand, each story must be as unique as the individuals who inhabit it. On the other hand, people are people and the same human failings probably afflict us all in varying flavors and degrees. I’ve no doubt, based on a cursory glance at the mirror of my own life, that one of the biggest taproots is plain, old self-centeredness. It’s so pervasive we can’t, really, see around it most of the time.

But I think there are also shoots and tendrils branching off, and they’re probably not all that hard to identify. In the London writer’s story, it seemed her former partner spent most of his time ‘traveling abroad’-gone more than he was home. People grow apart, we’re told over and over. There’s no longer a shared life focus and before you know it, couples who were previously ‘in sync’ are careening off in separate orbits. You don’t have to work at it—it just happens. Human nature, the busyness of life…all the usual suspects.

I suspect, though, that to some degree it might really be a matter of Emotional ADD---or, not to put too fine a point on it—failure to attend.

It’s not just Paying Attention. It's Attending, as in these few helpful clues from Webster’s Tenth Addition: “to look after;” “to go or stay with as a companion;” “to be present with;” “to apply the mind or heed.”

We all “attend” to something, all the time. If you’re reading this post it is, by definition, claiming your attention right now. How intentional you were about deciding to focus your time and attention here is a question only you can answer. I know my own attention is all too easily drawn away from previous intentions.

But surely there are some ‘wake up calls’ or alarm bells that ring when we’ve wandered too far afield –when we’ve ceased to attend to those relationships or ideals we once vowed to make Priority. It IS possible to take oneself in hand and ‘make the main thing the Main Thing.’ Maybe not Easy, but certainly Possible.

Note to self: Be aware and Beware…INTEND and then ATTEND to my intentions. It’s a tiring endeavor, no doubt, and impossible to sustain 24/7.

And yet, it seems foolhardy--perhaps even inexcusable-- not to try. Otherwise, it's likely all too easy to one day find oneself, standing in the kitchen, at pains to persuade anyone listening that the collapse of the Really Important stuff of life is all just “stuff and nonsense.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blazing New Trails in the Professional World


In today's economy, it's wise to be innovative, think 'outside the box,' and be willing to take risks...especially when it comes to bringing home the ol' bacon.

As some notable entrepreneurs have proven, sometimes the most unlikely concepts lead to veritable gold mines...[think Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak...the 3M engineer who created Post-It notes...the culinary genius who concocted hazelnut coffee syrup...well, you see what I mean.]

And, it pays to keep your eyes peeled, because you just never know what possibilities might be lurking nearby...perhaps even as close as the kitchen sink!!

Scene: Holliday kitchen, sometime earlier today. Unsuspecting matriarch converses with patriarch on phone, oblivious to the suspicious silence now reigning...


Miss Cee: [slipping through the French doors to flag my attention], well...

Moi: [alarmed to notice her reddened, tear-filled eyes and quivering chin] WHAT? What's the matter?!?!

Miss Cee: Um, Mommy, I really, really didn't mean it...[*danger! danger!, Will Robinson!*]

She reluctantly leads me to the kitchen...the Kitchen Sink, actually...where wickedly jagged shards of tempered glass are strewn about the sink. My French press is now history.

Moi: Hmmmm....what happened here?

Miss Cee: It slipped and...I...*sobs*

Moi: Well, what do you think about this?

Miss Cee: I...I...shouldn't have...Mommy, I am so, so sorry. It was an ACCIDENT!

Moi: Well, accidents happen, but why were you fiddling around in the sink when we've talked about this a "Few" times before?

Miss Cee: I just like to....I was being a Bubble Scientist...and I really LIKE to be a bubble scientist!!!!

Seen in this light, I guess a broken carafe is minor collateral damage incurred during "cutting edge" [I couldn't help myself] Research and Development.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Today's post is just a brief update--one more small step on the long journey of progress that Ben has been on since this past December. [To avoid repetition, I am assuming that most of you who may read this already are aware of Ben's lengthy hospitalization that was precipitated by a severe staph infection.]

This morning, I took him for a "surveillance" appointment with "Dr. Green Bay," the orthopedic trauma surgeon who opened up Ben's knee and left the impressive "war wound" scar. During that surgery, it was discovered that Ben had significant infection inside the cavity of his right femur; bacteria had been tirelessly mounting an assault that led to the infection being under pressure. As a result, about two dozen small holes had to be drilled into the bone, and some bone removed, in order to relieve the pressure; apparently the layman's term for this is "Swiss-cheesing"--well, at least that helped us to understand the surgery a little better.

Today's x-ray showed that not only have all the holes filled in completely, but a "callous" of new bone tissue has formed on the inward side of the knee. Ben's growth plates are not quite closed up, giving him a small ray of hope that he may gain a little more stature before he is completely done growing...and birthday #18 comes up next week!

All of this is cause for much gratitude on our parts--not only to the Great Physician, but also to the many who prayed so faithfully for Ben's healing.

More surprising to the doctor and physician's assistant was the news that Ben has been on no insulin at all for about 10 days now. [His type 1 diabetes diagnosis came the first week of January.] His glucometer reading this evening was 93.

Dr. GB: "Wow, that is just amazing...*head shake*...Ben that is are a lucky guy. You guys made my whole day."

Well, we always like to be of service...but we know that Someone else is behind all that has happened to Ben.

At this point, Ben seems to think that the expired need for insulin is due to his pancreas "just rebooting itself," since the diabetes seems to have been precipitated by the MSSA infection. That is one way to look at it.

But, I heard myself telling a friend on the phone a couple of days ago, that if the end result of this odyssey is Ben (and the rest of us) seeing, undeniably, God's involvement in his life, it will have been worth it all. OK, that's easy to say.

Yet, I really believe that.

I try to more consistently take the eternal perspective on everything.

Anything that leads to a person's authentic surrender to Christ, at whatever cost, is worth it. I say this to Ben, and at nearly 18 years old, that is too much of a stretch for him. [Although, unlike many of his peers, as a result of his illness, I think he knows he is not invincible.]

But it's only the truth. This life is a vapor...what we do in mortal life really matters. What we do with Christ determines our ultimate destination.

But I try to keep in mind that it's the prelude.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Miss Cee's School of Consumer Economics

Ah, and you thought Miss Cee’s Scope and Sequence was limited to the sphere of domestic management! Think again, gentle readers…

Armed without a federal stimulus check, the intrepid Holliday Clan [sans patriarch] set forth this noon to do our part for the stuttering retail economy. Destination: Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, once billed as the largest shopping mall under one roof…but that, of course, was in the Previous Century.

But, no matter. Your Faithful Correspondent had been hoarding Christmas and birthday mad money with the aim of purchasing a Brighton watch. I hesitate to admit that I even had spent an unseemly amount of time surfing their website to study various watch styles.

I was on a mission. As were my Spending Associates. This was a maiden voyage to one of the bastions of consumer craving.

After a relatively quick search for a parking slot on the Macy’s side of the complex, [in a former life, I worked as a security checker at the erstwhile Marshall Field’s department story and, since that time, have used that location as a lodestar to find my vehicle in the acres of parking lot there], we quickly reviewed Appropriate Mall Behavior and sallied forth.

There was a time when I truly enjoyed the atmosphere and tempo of shopping malls. But that sentiment has faded; whether the reason is my advancing age, the dizzying changes in popular society all too clearly on display at malls, or a combination of the two, I’m not sure.

But the human scenery can be vaguely depressing: first, there are the roaming packs of Disaffected Youth, shuffling about with jeans precariously hanging below their “sitters;” no, it is no treat to me to see your underwear. Just when I think I’ve seen every possible body piercing, someone manages to push the envelope further. I am basically hardened to tattoo sleeves. Then there’s the pervasive “time lapse” sociology lesson: clumps of nubile females spilling out of their clothes and peering out from Cleopatra eyeliner…and soon to pass by are any number of child-mothers with vulnerable looking infants in tow. It’s all old news, but it never seems to get happier, no matter how “normalized” some would have it be.

But, I digress.

Once in the vast mall forecourt, we began traversing the catwalks. A familiar yellow sign beckoned: LEGO! There was no turning back…the Lego construction possibilities still amaze me. But the Hollidayettes were more absorbed with the new Sponge Bob Square Pants play sets. Did you know you can build a Krusty Krab restaurant out of Legos? Well, now you do.

Miss Cee promptly clamped her busy pink hand around a few Lego keychains [“I found all the girl ones, Mommy!”] and declared herself sated.

For Sir John, things were a bit more problematical. There was a noticeable gap between the amount of greenbacks in his trusty wallet and the sticker prices of the most desirable Lego sets. How was he to know we would stumble upon a Lego emporium today when he plunked down $3.50 for an ice cream sandwich from the ice cream truck five days ago? But money spent is money gone: Consumer Economics 100.

Ben, Alina, and I tried in vain to steer him toward the smaller Lego sets still in his price range or to suggest he begin his birthday and Christmas wishlists while he had The Goods before him. But, he would not be consoled or condoled with. The eyebrows knitted together and the dark, face-sized cloud descended.

Some time later, we had accomplished a successful foray to Brighton Collectibles and enjoyed a sit-down lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. It was time to check off another destination on our To Go list.

As an aside, today’s field trip yielded unexpected educational benefits; aside from the obvious economics lessons, there were several opportunities to read maps and exercise spatial orientation…neither of which is among my strong suits.

On to Game Stop. In my limited experience, these stores are completely interchangeable regardless of the location. Same layout, same pierced sales associates (usually clad in black), same clusters of Transitional Males scoping the games. Well, some are “gamier” (excuse the pun) than others, but that’s a minor detail. Come to think of it, not always…

Planted in front of the racks of GameBoy DS games, John began making selections. I was willing to spot him a few bills, but not at the cost of compromising the economics lesson at hand. He hadn’t anticipated this wrinkle. Sheesh! What’s a guy to do?

Well, save your allowance, offer to do extra chores for mom or dad, exercise restraint when the ice cream Truck of Temptation tinkles down the street. Just sayin’. These pearls of wisdom went unappreciated.

Time for Contestant #2: “Mommy! Look up there! It’s a Littlest Pet Shop DS game!!! Can you see it!” Yup, $29.99. Crestfallen, she peered into her wallet. “Is that this much?” Um, no.

Ben and Alina exchanged Knowing Glances.

“But, but, that’s really, really the game I want.” Have I mentioned the concept of a wish list? “But my birthday is long away!” [Just-a-guess: this plea most probably would succeed with a grandparent…and perhaps will with me when I am Grandma Kathy. But today, no dice, baby.]

Alternative suggestion: how about looking at this case of Nintendo game cartridges that will work in your DS? They’re gently used and only $8 to $10. One eyebrow arched hopefully.

“Are there girl games?” A quick scan revealed a small handful of pink-labeled offerings. She narrowed it down to “Barbie” and “Groovy Games.” Decisions, decisions. The moment of truth arrived as I summoned a friendly associate to the locked case. “Groovy Games” was the winner.

Now to belly up to the check-out station and open the pink, heart-spangled wallet.

“That will be $10.99 with tax.” We unscrunched the well-fingered singles, and I slipped in a couple of Georges…nine, ten, eleven. “Wait, all THAT?!,” she turned a baleful eye on the cashier.

Well, you DO get some change. You get a penny back! Eleven dollars minus ten dollars and 99 cents equals one cent.

“A PENNY?!?!?! For all those dollars I get one cent back?!” The cashier and I exchange Knowing Glances.

“This is part of your spending lesson, Cecily.” The Eeyore-Formerly-Known-As-John had no sympathy to extend.

“Here’s your penny, Miss. Don’t spend it all in one place!”

"Well, You Don't See THAT Every Day..."

Mere minutes ago, the Hollidayettes and I arrived home from our day trip into the congestion of suburbia. I have traversed the ribbon of pavement, officially known as I-90, countless times, and seen a few anomalies in my time. But today’s sighting was singular.

Having left the outer edge of Elgin behind us, we were settling into a reasonable spell of cruise control, keeping alert for the last-second lane changers before and aft. We had just assumed a comfy cushion of space around us, when I had to press the “Coast” button on the steering column. Directly ahead was a red Neon which seemed intent on exploring both sides of his lane—constantly.

I slowed further to keep my distance. Traffic became stop and go, but he didn’t seem to notice when it resumed. I held my breath as I watched the vehicle behind me suddenly grow larger and larger in my rearview mirror. I was about to honk at this ne’er-do-well when he apparently “came to.” After almost 15 minutes of this, I was losing patience. I-90 at 5:10 pm on a weekday is no venue for a joy ride. What the heck?

I began voicing my surmises to Ben before noticing he was dozing beside me with his earbuds firmly inserted.

What were the possibilities?

… a couple of teenagers distracted with any number of behaviors completely unrelated to operating a motor vehicle?

… a driver even older than myself, having trouble with the power steering?

… an executive type fiddling with her GPS?

… an unfocused driver (it pains me to suggest it, but perhaps a female) blathering into her cell phone?

You know how this goes…curiosity eventually gets the better of us and as soon as there is room in the left-hand lane, we maneuver over and pull up to take a gander at this interstate hazard. No GPS; no female; not even any teenagers in evidence.

Nope; it was a 30-ish looking man shaving [more effectively than he was driving] in his rearview mirror. And it looked to be with a hand razor. Ben opened one eye and then sat upright. We exchanged incredulous and alarmed glances.

It is probably too much to hope that Mr. Neon Shaver was caught on a radar cam.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Every morning we get up, and the world is still spinning. Spinning through time toward eternity. But on the way, the whole surface--I suspect-- is covered with great clamor…and I daresay that most of it savors of some sort of human distress…even if the end result is a new life coming forth to breathe the air of earth, or the final departure of one whose life is spent, there is constant change and stress, accompanied by the challenge to cope.

Just this morning I learned through an e-mailed prayer request that a group of young people ascending a mountain near Kathmandu are in urgent need…one is experiencing altitude sickness and needs to be airlifted down.

Another e-mail described to me the storybook proposal of a friend’s son to his sweetheart—rose petals and a park gazebo figured prominently…I hope to see some photos. I remember this young man as a spunky towhead with a ready smile, not so long ago.

Each of us has our own heart concerns…of various “flavors” and urgencies…the sheer scope and weight would be too much for any one of us to absorb. I have my own, and you have yours.

I remind myself again that, in the words of T.S. Eliot, “He is the still point of the turning world.”