Band-Aids, Neosporin, and Hemingway

I must have missed stabbing myself while washing dishes last night. When I woke this morning I discovered a small wound in the center of my palm. I immediately headed for the Neosporin and a Band-Aid. And I realized that every single time I tend to a wound like this, I remember Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” Harry dying on the side of a mountain because he didn’t tend to a seemingly insignificant injury.

What we read affects us in surprising ways. I confess to not remembering the story that unfolded after that situation was introduced, but I read it when I was a teenager and that was a very long time ago. Maybe the lesson I got from his story was not the one Hemingway intended to stick with his readers, but it is what got my attention and what I internalized.

This Christmas my daughter sent me a delightful little book, Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book The book, complete with the signature Golden Book spine, is full of familiar pictures. As I browse through it, I realize that many of these images do,indeed,permanently live inside me.

The pace of incoming information was less frenetic when I was growing up. How many layers of words and pictures are forming all those developing young minds out there right now? Can we help them sort it out and make sense out of their lives? I don’t have the answers, just the questions bubbling up this morning.
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Holidays Winding Down

I’m looking out the window at the new year getting ready to start. From my vantage point inside my cozy apartment it does not look like the seventeen degrees my computer is reporting for Bentonville this morning. Same old bare trees, green and brown grass, and piles of dry leaves blown against the fences.

In a few days I will store away my Christmas memorabilia until next year’s calendar dictates the time to bring it back out again.

Back to normal.

I remember a friend years ago telling me her little boy, two or three years old, just about broke his heart crying when they took down the Christmas tree. I guess he had assumed it was the “new normal.”

So here’s what I think.

It is unfortunate that commerce has done its best to usurp the season and make it about greed, but before this all got out of hand there was something else there. There still is. The hopeful “Spirit of Christmas” struggling to stay alive under all the ads for Black Friday and After Christmas sales.

At least we come around every year to a season when we remind each other to try to do something good for our neighbors, where we try to make at least a fleeting connection with family and friends, some who might otherwise drift away altogether.

All the sparkling lights and music and performances of A Christmas Carol come out, and they make us look. We at least tell ourselves stories about how hearts can soften and we can open our eyes and see what really matters.

I don’t think anyone has “taken Christ out of Christmas.”

Everyone who wants to celebrate the birth of Christ does it. The church holiday has not been erased or forgotten or forbidden. It shines on for anyone who wants to to participate. Most Christians that I am aware of celebrate Christmas both religiously and in the secular fashion.

And that is fine. It doesn’t narrow the field, it expands it. Goodwill towards everyone, in and out of church.

Wasn’t that Christ’s message?

For crying out loud in a bucket!

Frances and Bernie Underwood 1923, according to the note on the back of the photo. My mom at five years old with her first brother.

I woke up with a compelling need to find this photo and connect with the power and hope in those two round faces shining out from ninety-five years ago somewhere in Philadelphia.

I also woke up with Mom’s voice in my head: For crying out loud in a bucket! She did not swear, but this phrase fit the bill for her when a little something else was called for.

Sunday’s reading, Isaiah’s voice crying out in the desert, has also come to mind.

I like to think that Mom and Bernie reconnected happily in heaven after years of estrangement. I like to think Mom and I will reconnect some day on a better note. I hope for healing of the many disconnects and distances that have happened in our family, anybody else’s family, and the larger family of the world.

I’m not doing a good job of finding a way to express how this is all impacting me this morning, but I think Isaiah has it covered (40,6-8)

A voice says, “Cry out!”
I answer, “what shall I cry out?”
“All mankind is grass,
and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
when the breath of the Lord blows upon it.
Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
The word of our God stands forever.”

Sharing a Meal

Living alone, it is easy to fall into a habit of grabbing the nearest, quickest food item in the kitchen, maybe eat it over the stove or on the way out to the car. I find myself guilty of this habit more often than I like to admit. I tell myself its just fuel and that is what is important.

But food and meals offer more than fuel, and this morning I took the time to remember that.

A quick browse through a cookbook reminded me of the simplicity of baking an egg in a ramekin. I didn’t have the ingredients in the recipe on the page but checked the fridge for possibilities.

A few single pieces of leftover produce presented themselves, and soon I was slicing off a bit of zucchini, onion, bell pepper, and tomato. A quick sauté in a bit of olive oil and into the ramekin.

breakfast1

The act of chopping vegetables always takes me to warm places in my memory of certain occasions of preparing meals for or with friends or family. The colors on the cutting board mingle and make me smile. The sizzle and aroma in the frying pan build the anticipation of a good meal.

I broke an egg over the prepared veggies, dolloped a spoonful of half-and-half over that and sprinkled some parmesan cheese on top,

It took ten minutes to bake in the oven. In barely more time than it would take to toast a piece of bread and slap some peanut butter on it, I sat down to an inviting feast.

Good morning!

I just ran a marathon through an obstacle course, and I’m still in my pajamas.

Noon will arrive in five minutes, and as I have mentioned in the title, I am still in my pajamas.

I did not plan it this way.

In the first place, I didn’t wake up until eight thirty, which is late for me. I have a list of things I wanted to accomplish today. Still want to. But I was trying to find my way to my blog page to accomplish my first desired task of the day

Instead, I got caught up in a crazed mob of news items, emails, emails about Facebook postings, videos that I tried to pass by but actually caught my interest, Instagrams I actually wanted to see from my out-of-state daughter. I had an email with a grammar test I had to stop and take and then had to get involved with commenting in the ensuing virtual conversation.

In short, I am exhausted before even getting started.

It didn’t help that a thunderstorm was in progress when I awoke, making it difficult for me to extract myself from my pillows and blankets. It has tapered off now, and I have opened the back door to allow some of the fresh air in. Hopefully, this will help me relax and focus.

So now I had to stop in order to take a picture through my back door. I want to share my view of the beckoning day. The stained glass monk hanging on the glass portion of my door is an unplanned but serendipitous expression of the peace I would like to experience at this moment in place of the frustration and exhaustion.

Just taking the photo and getting it where I wanted it was a time-consuming challenge for me. I have to face the fact that some of this is not the fault of the technology I try to manage in my life. There is also the aging factor as well as a lifelong battle with procrastination.

Be that as it may, it is now past one o’clock. Whatever it was that I originally planned to write about has flown from my thoughts. I am going to get dressed now. And take a few deep breaths. And re-start my day.

pink as my rosiest dreams

Opening up the blinds to find even a small and fleeting streak of pink in the sky stops me in my tracks every single time. This morning I stepped out into the chilly autumn morning in my robe and slippers to take a picture–try to hold onto it. I have opened the back door, which is glass on the top pane and screen on the bottom, to let some more of that morning in. Already, the  palette has given way mostly to lavender and periwinkle since I snapped the picture, but the quivering morning stillness is still there.

It speaks to me. Tells me I am not alone. Tells me this is a new beginning, the gift of a morning. The evening sky stops me, too, with a feeling of comfort. Somehow the glow of pastels settling back on top of whatever kind of day I have had offers a –

promise that all will be well

See, the home of God is among mortals. Revelation 21:3b (cited on today’s page of Forward Day by Day)

 

Honestly, a Talking Llama?

Yes, I was confronted by a talking, smart-ass llama when I logged onto my bank this morning. Who are these people in marketing these days?

What demographic survey told those marketers that a photo-shopped llama dressed in a pseudo-suit and made to appear as if it is speaking sarcastic one-liners was just the right representative to sell bank products?

There does seem to be a current trend toward using an annoying,  slightly high-pitched, cloyingly ironic male voice in commercial ads. Did llamas test positive with baby boomers, so therefore mixing a dromedary with that wise-guy was just the right touch?

Llamas did figure in the prediction under my senior picture in our 1965 high school yearbook, now that I think about it.  Something like “At the last minute she abandoned her convent plans and is now happily raising llamas in the Andes.”

Not a bad guess, all things considered. Look at me now, writing about llamas in Arkansas, of all places.

The world gets stranger all the time.