Friday, December 30, 2005

Rummage is a fun word to say

I just got back from a walk around my neighborhood. Today is a lovely day, breezy and warm for the end of December. I go walking frequently and one of the things I enjoy about my neighborhood are the numerous piles of trash that sit by the road for weeks and weeks. I can witness firsthand the biodegradability of certain types of household garbage items. I can also scan each pile for salvageable items. One of the things I love is finding interesting and maybe useful things in people's garbage or in flea markets and antique stores. The good thing about garbage piles is that what you find is free! Today I spotted a footboard and headboard for a twin bed, and it wasn't half bad looking. But I don't need a twin bed. My other interesting find today was a pair of black, skater shoes that looked like the wearer spontaneously combusted while standing in them. The insides were completeley charred. It made me laugh. I kept walking and tried to imagine what could have happened to them, and my spontaneous combustion theory is still the best. Here are some others:

1. shoe owner needed candle holder and only the shoes were available
2. shoe owner burned shoes in a symbolic gesture,
"I'm through running from ___ (fill in the blank)"
3. shoe owner drank a little too much egg nog and took off shoes too close to the fire
4. shoe owner is a smoker and accidentally dropped a cigarette in both shoes, at separate times
5. shoe owner had a very bad case of athlete's foot

Well, as you can see, the possibilities are endless. If any of you kind readers have a theory, please post it and we'll hash this out together.

(Let me clarify by saying I don't rummage through people's garbage. I look at it and see what I can see.)

The other fun thing I saw today was three or four little boys up in a tree. They were laughing and trying to get down, but one of the boys got stuck. I walked by as his mom came to help him out. The boy's jean's pocket was hung on a branch and he was hanging from his jeans, laughing. I smelled fresh laundry when I walked by.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in Latin

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5062519

Thoughts on a Tuesday

Ruthie started waving last week(the 13th of December, officially). It was so exciting. She does it more sparingly this week, but sometimes when she's playing she'll wave both arms, like she's practicing. She's also walking more steadily behind her little bike/walker thingy. It won't be long before she will officially be a biped. Just now I laid her down for her nap and I heard her talking to herself and so I peeked in to see what she was up to. She was romping around in her crib, sitting on her head with her booty up in the air, rolling around, looking in the little mirror at herself, all the while "talking" to herself. It was delightful to watch.

I hope yule enjoy this!

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat
Please put a penny in the old man's hat
If you haven't got a penny then a ha'penny will do
If you haven't got a ha'penny then
God bless you
God bless you, gentleman, God bless you
If you haven't got a ha'penny then God bless you.

That is some old Christmas nursery rhyme that just came to mind. It makes me think of Dicken's Christmas Carol, which I am reading to Jay, starting last night. I started reading and Jay said, " Dickens was from where?" ( I was thinking "he really is dumb"). So I said " England, " and he said, " Then I'm gonna need you to read that in an English accent." Just when you think you know someone. So I am sharpening me lovely accent while starting a Christmas tradition of enjoying classic Christmas literature. ( I recommend O'Henry's short story "Gift of the Magi", and Tolstoy's short story " Where Love Is, There God is Also." I also love T.S. Eliot's poem, Journey of the Magi. I may try to post it here.)

O come, O come Inflatable

I have noticed this month the proliferation of inflatable Christmas lawn ornaments. No longer are people content with the huge plastic candles or manger scenes, the push is on for larger than life inflatable Frostys and Santas. At night they glow and wiggle as the continuous air flow keeps them upright in all their garish glory. During the day if you happen to drive by you'll see a bright puddle of nylon where Frosty frolicked the night before. Don't worry, Frosty has not headed home to colder climates, his air supply will return at dusk and he and Santa will reappear to brighten your heart again. A new addition to the inflatables that I noticed at Wal-Mart back in the summer (thank you, dear Wal-Mart) is a huge snow globe with Santa and a reindeer or two inside, and yes, it really snows inside the globe. Wonder of wonders. It seems the days of simple twinkle lights and wreaths are gone. This comment is in fact, a lament. I love driving around at Christmas to see the lights, but I have never liked the huge lawn ornaments, with the possible exception of the little reindeer outlined in white lights. The verdict is out on those creatures. They are low key and tasteful in most cases. But the inflatables make me shake my head and long for the days when life was simple and all people displayed in their yards was the American flag or a bird bath. There is always hope, however; maybe the little boy next door will get a BB gun for Christmas (you'll shoot your eye out) and accidentally use Frosty as a target.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Start at the bottom picture and read upwards!

This is reaching way back into the archives. Senior Trip, 1996. Amelia Island, Florida. It really makes me smile to think of those days and all the days in between that day and this day. So I raise my glass, to Jess, best friend always and forever!

Love, Merrill Posted by Picasa
This picture is from our summer trip to Kazakhstan in 1999. We were frolicking in a lovely wheat field. Oh the mighty metaphor of the wheat field. Dos vidania! Posted by Picasa
Today is the birthday of my longest and best friend, Jessie. I would like to wish her much joy on this day of her nativity. She has two sweet children, Georgia and Eben, and a swell husband, B(ee)rian. I love you, Jess! Wish I could be there to celebrate with you! Since I can't I've decided to put a couple happy pictures here so we can look and remember our fun times together. This one was in Austin, Texas, on our adventure in the Greenbelt. "Are we lost?" "I think so." "Let's go ask the guy playing the aboriginal instrument." Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 09, 2005

This is a picture I took this summer, at a hot-air balloon fly-in. This is for all you hot-air balloon fanatics, and for all you road warriors. Or maybe for those looking for a picture for their school report on the subject of "transportation." Or for the psych majors-you can deconstruct the ultimate subconscious longing of the motorcycle, its frustration with its own limitations and it's "helium envy." And the literary among us:





So much depends upon
A red motorcycle
Glazed with rainwater
Beside the colorful hot air balloon

I am currently rereading the Lord of the Rings, and I can't help but think how easy it would have been for Frodo to get to Mordor if he had had a Harley or a hot-air balloon. I think the Harley would have been my choice, due to the fact that you could leave the Black Riders in the dust. I'm afraid a hot-air balloon would be no match for the Nazgul. Seriously, though, I am enjoying Tolkien's Lord of the Rings just as much as the first time I read it. His writing is enchantingly beautiful and the depth of his creativity astounds me. I feel like I am there, with the Fellowship, heading South through all their danger and despair. I find myself wishing I could stay awhile in Lothlorien, with the Galadrim beneath the golden mallorn trees. This is what makes a good book. And when I say "good book" that is a simple phrase that to me encompasses many varied descriptions and qualifications that would take awhile to expound, therefore "good book" must suffice.
I must away, the baby awakes.... Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Come, ye thankful people, come!

There is a certain worship song that is often sung on or around Thanksgiving that I have come to despise. It is sung like a dirge and I find the words simplistic to the point of being meaningless. Thankfulness is a powerful overwhelming emotion that makes you turn your face upward and weep or laugh. It makes you sing with your heart overflowing. Thanksgiving is also a command, given in Philippians 4:6-7 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God..." I would like to conclude this short missive on thanksgiving with a hymn written in the 1800s. Sing to the Lord of the harvest!


Come, ye thankful people, come
Raise the song of harvest home
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin;
God, our Maker, doth provide,
For our wants to be supplied
Come to God's own temple come,
Raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God's own field,
Fruit unto His praise to yield
Wheat and tares together sown,
Unto joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade, and then the ear,
Then the full corn shall appear,
Lord of harvest, grant that we,
Wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come,
And shall take his harvest home
From his field shall in that day
All offenses purge away;
Give his angels charge at last,
In the fire the tares to cast;
But the fruitful ears to store
In his garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come,
To thy final harvest home,
Gather thou thy people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin;
There, forever purified,
In thy presence to abide,
Come, with all thine angels, come,
Raise the glorious harvest home.

(Henry Alford
George J. Elvey)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Happy Anniversary Nonni and Papa!

Today is my parent's anniversary. This is a picture of them with their two granddaughters, Annabelle(left) and Ruthie. They have been the most wonderful parents to me and my brother, and now they are wonderful, loving grandparents. I love you Mom and Dad! Posted by Picasa
This is Ruthie in October(9 months old). She's eating a leaf. Do you see a trend here? Posted by Picasa

Are you down with down?

I think geese must be very warm animals. I suppose they need to stay warm because they float around in ponds and honk most of their days. If they're not swimming, they're flying, which would also require some warmth. The geese at the park near my house spend their time consuming massive quantities of stale bread crusts and pooping on the walking path. If geese could be obese, these geese would be obese. So what am I getting at?

It has just become winter here in the sweltering city of Mobile, and winter requires different attire and a new setting on the thermostat. Our house is drafty, since I guess in the 1940s people were shorter and generated more body heat, therefore eliminating the need for insulation. (Stay with me here). My bedroom is the coldest one in the house because of the number of windows that don't seal correctly. So last night, I got out the down comforter. It was a big decision, and one I didn't make lightly. I even consulted with my wise husband, Jay, who said, "whatever you think, Merrill." Lights out and the night of the inferno began. I was sweating after approximately five minutes. I tossed around all night, pulling up the covers, then throwing them off with the enthusiasm of an Olympic shot-putter. I will say I like the way down comforters have a gentle sort of crackle when you move around. Even when you thrash around because you feel like you are "en fuego."

So I've determined that I'm not down with down. Unless I lived in an igloo, or if I were stranded on the North Face of Everest and my Sherpa had turned back and left me with only a can of baked beans and some dried fruit. Jay thinks that I produce too much body heat, or BTUs (British Thermal Units or something). I have a high metabolism and I'm always cold because all my body heat is leaking out. This leaking is trapped by the down and creates an inferno effect. Plus, they make down comforters with different ratings, and ours must be rated for high altitude survival and the Arctic Circle.

You may ask, why did you not simply get up and switch back to your normal comforter? I'm not sure. Maybe I just wanted to give geese a chance.

(In no way do I intend to demean geese and their lovely feathers. I have a profound respect for their thermal capacities and I believe they are most generous in donating their down for the sad naked humans who have to wear clothes to keep warm, and must board airplanes to fly here and there.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

the curse is lifted

Winter is here. I suppose the curse is lifted. The Weather Channel will not triumph.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Today I spent over $60.00 at the cleaners

Today I spent over $60.00 at the cleaners. I thought, " this is ridiculous" as I wrote the check. But there is something wonderful and therapeutic about dropping off a crusty pile of man-smelling work shirts and 3 year old bridesmaid dresses one day and picking them up the next day, clean and carefully sheathed in hygienic plastic. No longer do the words DRY CLEAN ONLY strike fear into my heart. It just means ONE PIECE OF LAUNDRY I PERSONALLY DON'T HAVE TO WASH AND FOLD. Lovely.

I would like to comment on a line in the song "Sweet Home Alabama." The line is "Sweet home, Alabama/Where the skies are so blue." I thought about this the other day because the sky was so blue it almost hurt my eyes. It was a very deep, vibrant blue, and I thought that perhaps the sky is bluer in Alabama than in other places. Or maybe it just seems so because of the line from the song. Whatever the case may be, I'm just glad I was able to cast my gaze up into the blueness and let it sink into me and make me smile.

The trees in southern Alabama are too tired to put on any fall colors. I think they have been so tossed about and whipped around by so many heartless storms this year that they took a vote and unanimously decided not to dress out in their autumnal best. Not only this, but a large oak in my yard has decided to muster up a springtime show of new, tender foliage to replace what it lost to the punishing winds. Today was 82 degrees, so maybe it is spring! Like Narnia locked in a never-ending winter under the wicked White Witch's reign, Mobile is held captive to summer and spring...maybe so hurricane season will never end and the weather channel can take over the world.

And now...the word of the day, lovingly dedicated to Jenny Witter Dye (give the I-man a kiss for me and Ruthie)---

innocuous: adjective (in-knock-you-us) 1)producing no injury, harmless
2) not likely to give offense or to arouse strong feelings or hostility: inoffensive

sample sentence: The Supreme Court Justice nominee's opinions seemed innocuous after my brief scrutiny.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Baby Ruth

I would like to tell you about my little baby girl, Ruthie. She was born in January and the first night we had her home she cried the entire night. Jay and I were traumatized. We called the nursery at the hospital three or four times, sort of hoping they might say " why don't you just bring her in and we'll see what we can do." They never offered but they were very helpful anyway. Day 2 we discovered the miracle of the pacifier.

Nothing really prepared me for the tiny infant who required attention 24 hours a day. But I began to love her more and more each day and now, almost 10 months later, I truly delight in her and I am so thankful for her life.

She is small for her age, with big blue eyes, lots of light brown hair and a wonderful smile that wrinkles her nose and lights up her whole face. It is especially sweet when accompanied by wiggling and leg kicking. Ruthie hates socks unless they're in her mouth. One sock on is acceptable, but never two. She crawls around with insatiable curiousity and loves eating little pieces of debris that she finds on the floor, or pages of magazines and books. She especially loves our cat, Wally. She exclaims when she sees him and crawls frantically over to pet him, her breath puffing out in short breaths with excitement. When I say pet, I mean grab. Ruth grabs handfuls of fur and yanks, so I intervene and teach her how to be gentle, even though Wally is so sweet and never gets angry.

When Ruth laughs, she gets hiccups. This is sweet but also sort of troublesome, because she'll often spit-up when she gets so worked up. This is passed on from her Dad, who suffers from the same condition. Maybe Ruth will grow out of it, but in any case, the laughter is worth the side-effect. Her laughter is pure, unrestrained glee. She throws her head back, her nose wrinkles and I will perform whatever ridiculous antics I can to hear that sound.

She is a master work, and I defer all praise to the Master. She is beautiful, and I am reminded of the One who is beauty. She is loved by us, but I want her to know the One who is love. He formed her, He knows her, and He holds her.

dot dot dot


Here is a poem I wrote when I was pregnant- it is silly but I like it.

My Belly Button is Gone (Nov 4, 2004-How crazy-I wrote this a year ago today! Wow)

My belly button is gone
It's flat with just a dimple
Or maybe just a crinkle
At any rate a mere shadow
Of what it used to be

I no longer get fuzz
Tucked snugly inside
From clothes of different colors
Little balls of lint
That made me smile

I don't really mind that my belly button's gone
I know that it'll be back
When my daughter arrives
And both will make me smile

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Debut of a Blog

Oh the power of a blog! Four letters that form an odd little word that sounds like the name of a friendly monster that might be found under my bed. I am very excited to have this little corner of cyberspace to myself- to exercise my mind and share a little of my soul with whomever might care to listen. I feel like this moment should be heralded by trumpet playing or a ribbon cutting with huge shiny scissors, but alas, it is just me, sitting solitary at my uncomfortable desk, wrapped in a fleecy blanket and thinking about what I need to be doing right now because my baby is taking a nap.

I would like to take this opportunity to relate the story of how my world was shattered last week. It was bedtime for little Ruthie, around 8 o'clock. Bedtime is a glorious word these days, not because I do not enjoy my days with my little girl, but because it is the wrapping up of another day of her life. It means we made it through the day, and we can rest, she slumbering so sweetly in her crib, and me tidying up the house and settling in with a book or magazine, or snuggling with my husband, Jay. It is like a sigh of relief and contentment, internal and external.

So after bedtime prayers, we turned the lamp off, shut the door, and raced to the welcoming arms of the worn leather couch that was a hand me down from my parents. I was trying to beat Jay, so I leaped over the coffee table, and then over Jay, throwing myself gleefully onto the couch, about to win the coveted remote! However, our couch is not anchored to a wall, and it slides backward ever so gently when one sits upon it in a normal manner. My 120 pound frame slamming into it is another matter. The couch shoved backwards, in turn shoving the table behind it backwards. On this table sat the antique globe that lights up so charmingly, illuminating all the continents and countries, including the USSR. I repeat the word "antique." The table gave up its care of the terrestrial ball and it shattered in a glorious crash on our unyielding hardwood floors. Oh, the despair! I was truly horrified and I apologized to my husband, whose grandmother originally owned the globe. He was gracious and forgiving as we picked up the shards of Europe and South America. I cut my finger on Asia, but I am certainly not holding grudges, due to the circumstances.