Monday, August 30, 2010

Did I Ask?

"Your pants are too fancy!"

Thus quoth Miss Cee at lunch today.

As I often recount to my better half, many of the absurdities of my life seem to occur while I am 'just minding my own business, not bothering anybody'--in short, just trying to do what I think I'm supposed to be doing at a given time.

But, keeping my head down is no guarantee of a peaceful day. Due to an incredible and ghastly oversight, I somehow appeared at school today, one of my assigned days to serve as on-site teacher helper, clad in four-year-old beige capris of indistinct pattern. Did a brick fall on my head? What could I have been thinking? Do I know how to think?

And, gentle reader, it gets worse! Brace yourself!

Peering at me as if I were a mounted slide under a high school microscope, Miss Cee continued the unsolicited critique...

"Well, look, your lips are TOO dark!"

What do you mean?

"I MEAN your lipstick is too, too dark!" *scrunching up nose*

But this is the same lipstick I've worn for, like, three years....

"It's actually, like BURGUNDY!!"

Really? Seriously?

By now, both she and her best friend were shaking their heads in synchronized censure...had I been a few years younger, or having a very bad hormone day, I might have cried...

"Just too dark," she pronounced, putting this unseemly episode to bed.

Strangely, a couple of hours later, someone looking remarkably like Miss Cee...truly, it could be her identical twin!...asked me, while licking the last vestige of ice cream cone off the corner of her mouth...'Can I call Alyssa and see if she is busy, or...something?'

Well, on an ordinary day I might be able to take this under consideration but, you see, today has been rather traumatic...what with my pants being too fancy...

"They're not TOO fancy...they're just, you know, KINDA fancy..."

Oh! This is an interesting philosophy...

And then there's the issue of my wicked burgundy lips...

*eyebrows arched* "Um, well, they aren't quite as dark now...especially your lower lip...maybe you licked it and now it's better..."

Or, maybe, being wise in your own little nine-year-old eyes no longer seems quite so fun as checking to make sure that Alyssa is not too busy....but, that's a guess...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Time Warp

This Afternoon…

David: “Well, what if they legalized pot, Mom, I mean, would you think it was OK, then? If it was legal, you know, since somewhere it says to, I don’t know, obey civil authorities or something…”

Moi: “I think I understand what you’re saying, but I personally would not start toking away, because I try to hold my standards higher than just what the law prescribes….I mean, not all things legal are advisable…as ‘it’ also says somewhere…

A ‘Few Weeks ‘ Ago…

Moi: “To the tiger at the zoo, Madeline just said…”

David: “Poo-poo!!!”

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


"I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't heard it with my own ears."

Have you ever heard anyone say that? Have you ever said it yourself? Well, I have...most recently, well, just about 20 minutes ago.

We all know that "knowledge is power"...that's why it's so important to be well fact, the last I knew, this was codified into the founding documents of the U.S....does 'First Amendment rights'...guaranteeing freedom of speech and a free press ring any bells?

With information, --as with any valuable commodity-- we do well to heed the warning "caveat emptor"-buyer beware. In other words, if you're seeking to be informed, go to the trouble to discern if you're getting 'the straight scoop:"true information. Because, inconvenient as it may be, the dichotomy does exist: Right v. Wrong, True v. False.

Why does it matter? Because what we believe to be true arguably influences most, if not all, of the decisions that adults make. Thus, the concern that media outlets should, and in fact used to, have for accuracy and objectivity.

Which brings me to the issue of disinformation, not to be confused with MISinformation, which is unintentionally false.

"Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately," according to Wikipedia and general public consensus.

At sometime between 2 and 2:30 pm, CST today, I heard the following statement made on National Public Radio:

"I think no one argues that Israel is there [in the Middle East] or doesn't have a right to exist."

Say what? Who said this?

Well, I will tell you: the speaker was a guest, named Graham Fuller, who apparently served as a former vice counsel with the National Intelligence Council at the CIA. Mr. Fuller has just written a book, A World Without Islam, for which he seems to be on a promotional tour. I heard him today interviewed by Neil Conant on the NPR regular feature, "Talk of the Nation." The thesis of his book, according to Mr. Fuller, is 'how much Western relations with the Middle East would be different if there were no Islam.'

Perhaps a more pertinent question would be how much of this book is factually based? Ah, those pesky facts...they can so easily get in the way of what we want to say...

So, really, Mr. it true that "no one argues" about Israel's right to exist? What have you been smoking?

Is it for no reason that Israel is one of the best armed nations in the contemporary world, and until recently was known as the only nuclear power in the Middle East? Is it not the case that the history of the modern state of Israel, since its founding in 1948,is littered with incidences of armed conflict and even declared war waged over territorial boundaries? Why would this happen if no one was bothered by their presence on that tiny little finger of ancient land? Is Israel afflicted with some psychotic paranoia that causes them to doubt that her neighbors wish her good will?

And, here's a quandary; the following quote, taken from the IRIB News/Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting's online news network reported on October 26, 2005 that:

Tehran, Oct 26 - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday called for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

"The establishment of the Zionist regime was a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world," the President told a conference in Tehran entitled 'the world without Zionism'.

"The skirmishes in the occupied land are part of a war of destiny. The outcome of hundreds of years of war will be defined in Palestinian land," he said.

"As the Imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map," said Ahmadinejad, referring to the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Imam Khomeini.

Seems pretty clear to me.

In fact, as I listened to Mr. Fuller's statement, I found myself raising my voice to the air: "Are you kidding me?!!" Is this some ill-conceived, unsuccesful attempt at geopolitical satire? Did show host, Mr. Conant, momentarily black out, causing him to let this statement simply slip by?

Acknowledging to myself that I am certainly no expert on Middle Eastern politics, I checked the search engine to see if my understanding of these statements was somehow faulty. What I found was a rather tedious discussion about whether the referenced quote used a Persian idiom that literally meant 'wiped off the map', or 'erased from the pages of time.' I see no difference in intent between these two.

Allow me to quote Pres. Ahmadinejad further, as posted on the IRIB website:

"Anyone who signs a treaty which recognises the entity of Israel means he has signed the surrender of the Muslim world," Ahmadinejad said.

"Any leaders in the Islamic umma (sic) who recognise Israel face the wrath of their own people."

Further internet research, to those so inclined, may lead to non-substantive parsing, such as the following,

Juan Cole, a University of Michigan Professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History, agrees that Ahmadinejad's statement should be translated as, "the Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e eshghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).[13]

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translates the phrase similarly, as "be eliminated from the pages of history."[14]

According to Cole, "Ahmadinejad did not say he was going to 'wipe Israel off the map' because no such idiom exists in Persian". Instead, "He did say he hoped its regime, i.e., a Jewish-Zionist state occupying Jerusalem, would collapse."[15]

So, why do I go on and on about this incidental statement from a former government official? First, because it seems to be an egregious error, at best, and one would expect better from an author touting his tome over national airwaves. But second, and most importantly, statements presented as fact are often accepted at face value..thus influencing opinions, presumptions, decisions, and even textbooks, potential legislation, and political positions.

I am one of those who remain firmly convinced that the blessings enjoyed by the US for more than 200 years have come from the hand of God. The US is still considered the land of promise and opportunity, the country that many from other nations aspire to make their own, often due to harsh conditions and suffering in their native lands. Not least of those who have come here for a better life are the Jews, God's chosen. I believe we have been blessed as a nation, in part, because we have been a haven to those persecuted, and because we have stood as a stalwart ally of the state of Israel. God keeps His Word, and He clearly states:

"I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
Genesis 12:2-4

In my view, this is The Unimpeachable Source. Far be it from us to be lose sight of what's true because we are beguiled or led astray by false statements masquerading as truth.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hearing Test Needed?


Gack! What is that horrible smell?!!! An acrid stench is infiltrating the whole house...of indeterminate origin...but whatever the source had been, it is clearly beyond total incineration now...can ashes smell THIS bad?

Ben: "Well, Mom, you can probably smell something, right?"

Editor/Mom: "Um, now that you mention it..."

Ben: "You're probably wondering what that is, huh?"

EM: "Well, I'm actually trying to decide if I really want to know...or if ignorance is the better choice here..."

Ben: "Uh, yeah...well, I can see where that might be something you'd want to think about first..."

EM: "OK, you've tipped it...what is it? And was anybody hurt?"

Ben: "Well, we don't have any shortcakes anymore..."

Might this be one of those days when I'm tempted to pull the covers back over my head...and then realize that my absence in the kitchen might have contributed to this unique surprise?...just a thought...

EM: "Shortcakes..."

Ben: "OK, well, just so you know, Cecily put some know those little round yellow ones from the store...and decided she'd microwave them...*wrinkling nose*...and, uh, yeah, she kinda overdid it..."

EM: "Ben, do you know what an understatement is? Never mind; obviously you do...not that this is necessarily a bad tends to be calmer...fewer 911 calls are made and cooler heads--not that your sister seems to have one--tend to prevail...OK, tell me, how long did she nuke them for?"

Ben: "Heh-heh...well, I think it was about three minutes...instead of 30 seconds..."


EM: "Did anything melt?"

Ben: "It's kind of hard to know that glass plate in the microwave that turns around...well, usually...? It seems to be a different color now..."

Uuuoooohhh boy...I suppose even the molecular structure of tempered glass can change under sufficiently extreme conditions...we all have our melting point...I'm pretty sure I've reached mine....

Well, one thing I've noticed over the years [not to mention decades] is that there are some upsides to being dysthymic, as I am; one is that you tend not to scream or carry on, because it just takes too much that can be much better spent making coffee, knitting, ordering more novels from

At the moment, I'm quite amazed that the smoke alarms have not gone off...maybe the batteries have been taken out to make them less annoying...and, oh yeah, less effective...but I digress...

A small sliver of a familiar brown head appears around the corner...

Miss Cee: "Mmmmmooooommmmmm?"

EM: "Yes?"

Miss Cee: "Can I light a candle?"

EM: "What would be the purpose of that?"

Miss Cee: "Well, I had a little bit of an accident..."

EM: *eyebrows rising* "An....ACCident????"

Miss Cee: "Well, I thought it would be a good idea to make some shortcakes for breakfast....and, um, wasn't written down anywhere how long to cook them...and, well, I thought I'd do like you...and just kind of put some numbers in..."

Ahhhh...some numbers...yeah, THAT'S the ticket...why get all anxious over a few pesky numbers?....

Miss Cee: "And, it was maybe too many..."

EM: "What happened?"

Miss Cee: "Well, I think it was too long...I mean, yeah, it was too long...I think..."

EM: "So what does this have to do with candles?"

Fast forward five painstakingly explanatory minutes....

EM: "OK, so what have we learned here?"

Miss Cee: "To not cook things so long."

EM: "Uh, no. We've learned that you're not to use the microwave. Now, what have we learned?"

Miss Cee: "To ask how many minutes before I do "START".

EM: "OK, this is no longer funny...actually, it never was...what did YOU learn, Cecily"?

Miss Cee: *blue saucer eyes search the heavens* "Um, I learned"

EM: "You are NOT allowed to use the microwave!!!!"

Miss Cee: "Ever, ever again??!!!" *semi-convincing lip quiver*

Ben: "One adventure after another, right, Mom?"

Monday, August 2, 2010

When Rest Is Praise

Sorrow and unequal parts and at unpredictable intervals. This undulating pattern comprises much of our lives. Solomon examined this reality a few milennia ago in Ecclesiastes.

It seems clear, but not always noted, that far less ink is spilt on the mountain tops of earthly experience than on the valleys...the nadirs, not the zeniths, spur more contemplation, it would seem. We think we 'deserve' to be happy; we often don't understand when we're not.

Maybe that's because joy, and it's lesser cousin, happiness, are the objects of desire and pursuit...almost everyone seeks them, at least at times. The responses elicited by Good Things are no-brainers; but few crave heartache. It takes a while to go through the acknowledge-accept-resolve process provoked by pain.

Perhaps this is an echo of our desire for How Things Were...back in the Garden, when all was as it had been created to be. Now, we have to wait to be 'present with the Lord' to experience that.

There's a place for grieving and tears...and it's a place we return to again and again, if not willingly. Devastation of many kinds may roll in unexpectedly, like a tsumani that threatens to take us under. It may loom on the horizon, and then inexorably advance upon us as we watch and wait helplessly. Or, it may be a persistent series of defeats posed by a challenge we can't master...

But whatever the source or shape sadness, like everything else down here, it is temporary. We should acknowledge and grieve, but I don't think we should camp there after we've done the necessary processing.

Pardon? This from the ambassodoress of emotional expression? Well, yes. I'm not advocating denial, just a God-designed balance.

When my tears fall, it is often because I am more focused on the object of my prayer than on the One Who Answers. And it's important to make that shift in focus from the horizontal to the vertical. Looking to Jesus is where we find Real Life, anyway.

Being a leaky faucet, tears have always come (too) easily to me. I can find occasion to weep not only over heartache, but also in gratitude for God's faithfulness and character. Whether the cause is joy or sadness, tears are not wholly unexpected from time to time.

But peace and serenity are. Especially when they seem to be incongruous to the present context. That's when people notice. That's when they either think you're dissociative or intriguing...and they look more closely.

And it's at such times, I'm thinking, when we are resting in Him--despite everything else--that we may demonstrate the most powerful testimony to who God is. Inexplicable peace is a form of praise...

I think it's likely that, for every person who is put off by hand-raising, hymn-singing worshippers who are hard to relate to, there may be at least one person who wants to know what is really going on; when we rest in the peace that passes understanding we demonstrate that it is real and possible.

When we beseech the Lord in the valley, we bear testimony that He is and that He listens. But when we rest in Him, it's a special kind of praise.

So, the next time I need to be reminded of this...hopefully not before tomorrow!, please feel free to give me the necessary poke...