Monday, May 15, 2006

Little by Little Things

Hola! Saludos de Nuevo Mexico, la Tierra del Enchantment.

Hello! Greetings from New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment. It's been good to be home. Even though Atlanta is now our home, this will always be home, too. It's a muy bonito place, in a very stark way. And it's so, so good to be with family. For those of you who haven't had the privilege of visiting these tierras hermosas, especially our little farming town, here's a primer. Some things that have made me smile:

Discovering that on Saturday, the temperature was actually an unholy 91 degrees Farenheit (sorry, Sam---I don't do degrees Celsius) but I had no idea because there was a brisk breeze and very little humidity...

Eating green chile, and lots of it...

Seeing the sky, and not just a green canopy overhead...

Meeting up with old friends at the (nice, clean!) Wal-Mart, the social hub of the county...

Did I mention eating a lot of green chile?

Waving at people on the road and not having to worry about scaring or offending them (you just wave at everyone because that's what you do!)...

Watching Food TV at my in-laws (okay, that's not unique to New Mexico by any stretch, but it is a perk of coming home since we don't have cable at home, in an effort to actually leave our sofa at times)...

My own rusty attempts at Spanish. I grew up here and still can't speak the language very well. Muy embarazoso!

Seeing the random small-townisms: "Taco Box, taco 'bout good, full of Boxpitality" and "RC Feed & Supply, Bridal Registry Inside..."

Getting about 80 hugs from the sweetest group elderly folks you will ever meet (I think I missed the first half of the worship service trying to get them all in)...

The homegrown newspaper, with interviews with local school children and typos galore...

Buying 3 jars of real, fresh, New Mexican salsa from our favorite restaurant, to bring home and promptly devour...

I could go on and on! It's been a fantastic week, and I'm grateful to be here. But it will also be nice to be back home tomorrow. There are little things there, too, that make me smile:

Having our entire Square Peg Artists collection at my fingertips on our computer (iPod for Christmas? I wouldn't complain)... Listening to Scarce and Appendix A doesn't get old, per se, but I miss Miracle of Forgetting and Love and Thunder, among others...

Getting to promote the Square Pegs at work whenever I can---last week I got to write down some websites for a lady that really liked Jars of Clay but had never heard of Caedmon's Call or any of the Andys (gasp!)...

Watching our plants grow as we count down to eating city bred tomatoes (mmmm, love that acid rain!)

Spending time with our awesome friends who generously hooked me up with plane tickets to see my Mom for Mother's Day, who pooled their resources to help my parents through a rough financial time, who love the Lord immensely, and who are the best, most refreshing kind of crazy, to boot...

Harrassing our crazy cats, who love every minute of it...

Watching the little countdown clock on my desktop that is counting down until football season starts...

Reading aloud, with all the voices, to Kennan after a hard day of work...

Hearing the Word of God preached in a British accent, with that dry British humor...

Knowing that I'm home! ...but I guess that's true wherever I am. How blessed am I.

Las Gracias esten al Dios! Thanks be to God!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Home Improvement

Our gate has been broken for awhile now. We called and asked about getting it fixed recently, and our landlord said he'd send the handyman in the next couple of weeks. Okay. Sounds good.

Tonight, we heard a neighbor's truck start up, back up, and then we heard a loud CRACK! Oh my.

We opened the front door. I was expecting to see a truck sticking out of the side of the apartment... it wouldn't be the first time, actually. (The last time a truck crashed into my house, I was in High School and it made front page news in our little town.)

When we stepped outside, the neighbor's truck was back in its spot, but we heard the neighbor dropping rather vehement F-bombs. "Yup, I'd say he did back into something," I said to Kennan.

The neighbor, who moved in a couple of weeks ago and we hadn't yet met, came running over, apologizing and cursing profusely. I was hard pressed not to laugh, just because the entire thing seemed rather surreal. I was also grateful that it wasn't me for once! Our neighbor, though, was hopping up and down and was very upset. Apparently, he was in a hurry. And I have to admit that it is a tight squeeze, especially for a large truck.

Kennan examined the gate, and found a medium-sized split in the wood. No biggie. It was easy enough for Kennan to snap it back into place. We chatted with the neighbor a second, asked if he was okay, and helped him back out without hitting anything. Then we discovered a most amazing thing.

Our gate is fixed.

Completely fixed. It doesn't sag anymore, it latches, and it looks just fine.

What a scream! If only all home improvement were so easy.

On a related note, our tomatoes and catnip are flourishing. Yay! I think we'll have to buy a trellis soon. Sadly, our cilantro (NOT for salsa, just for Indian Dal lentils, thank you very much) is being munched upon by some wretched little creature-bug type of thing. I mourn for thee, cilantro! You were so bright, so green, so healthy! Rest in Peace, dear cilantro. Maybe we'll have better luck next time.

Maybe if we get the neighbors to come stomp on the plant, it would miraculously kill the bugs and reanimate the cilantro. Hmmmm...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Not Stupid, Nor Do They Smell Like Poo

I found this on snopes.com. I have a sudden urge to visit Northern Idaho.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Politics and Religion (oh, my)

Sam the Brit has asked for my opinion on Cynthia McKinney. Oh, dear. What can I put that won't get me into trouble? What to say about her reckless behavior with both her fists and the people's finances? Or about her love of conspiracy theories and randomly inappropriate questions asked in formal settings? She sure seems fond of accusing people of murder, first accusing Pres. Bush after the Sept. 11th attacks (although I can't find proof that she did, and I did find some websites claiming she never said any such thing... 11 Alive News does make reference to it, and it's ridulous enough that I believe it) and then more recently sparring with FEMA folks over the Hurricane Katrina devastation.

Now, I don't much like Dub-ya (lesser of two evils, I tell you) and I think FEMA did make some mistakes, as well. But my disgruntlement with Cynthia McKinney can be summed up in two words: "ghetto-fabulous." I blame Shirley Franklin, our bling-blingin' mayor. Since when did Tupac become someone to quote as a wise sage of the ages? GRRGHHH. After the incident with the Capitol Hill police officer, Rep. McKinney said that some things never change (referring to racism and prejudice), as "Tupac said." Oh, great. Let's combat the stereotype of a lesser-than black person by being ignorant. It drives me crazy that the Hip Hop culture has become such a revered thing in Atlanta---excuse me, the ATL. Yo.

When intelligent folks (black, white and every shade between) hold up as role models the thugs that like to "slap their ho's" and "smack their bitches," I just don't get it. Yes, there is something special and unique in the Hip Hop culture. No, I don't think a "young brother" should have to be "white" to succeed in the world. But why is it that while a Latino might be able to find the good parts of a rich heritage and blend them into the boring, white bread majority, the usual African-American response is to take the very worst parts of the culture and strap them on like weapons?

Shirley Franklin has made our city into "the ATL" and it drives me nuts. When I was teaching in South DeKalb, at a primarily (okay, all) black school, it was a battle to get the kids to want to learn about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King. They wanted to hear about Usher and Lil' Kim. African culture was only interesting to them as it applied to what their favorite celebrities were wearing or decorating their million-dollar homes with. I know that other cultures glorify violence, promiscuous sex and drugs, too. I'm aware that I'm speaking in generalities and stereotypes. But it hurt so much to look at an eager, shining face and see there all the promise and possibility of a young life, being stunted by the belief that her highest achievement would be to slink around in the background of a "Yo! MTV Raps" prime-time video. That is why Cynthia McKinney hacks me off, because even though she has made her way in the world of politics, she endorses a style of living that doesn't really appreciate her achievements, except as they further that life style. The large number of successful, graceful, proud black women fades into the background in the spotlight of her antics.

So there you have it, my friend. My political thoughts for the year. I try to stay away because politics in general aggravate me. I think they're all crazy and crooked, just to varying degrees and in their own special ways.

As for religion, I'll delve into controversial subjects therein with much more regularity. While thinking about the importance of Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, and Sola Scriptura, I came across this website, which has really gotten me to thinking. One of the nice things about Reformed theology is that you don't necessarily have to ascribe to every single intricate detail to still be worshiping God in Spirit and in Truth. Unless you're a hyper-Calvinist, in which case not many of us may make it to heaven, anyway, and can we really know for sure until we get there?

I enjoyed reading the website, written by a former obsessive Calvinist who has now converted to Catholicism. I thought he had a lot of good things to say about the battles (both theological and more practical) between Catholics and Protestants. I'm still working out where I stand on certain Reformed theology, and I don't strictly adhere to the basic TULIP model. And the title alone, "Snipping Calvin's Tulip," was good for a chuckle.

At the end of the article, though, I found myself disgruntled by the author's exhortations to pray for "our Calvinistic friends." He says that "Only God can change minds and warm hearts" (ironic, I thought... perhaps he has not rid the lies of Calvin from his soul so thoroughly as he thought) and extends a genuine heart of love for us Protestant folks. It's nice, but it embodies what so many believers, from all denominations alike, get caught up in: trying to convert people to a specific denomination. Instead of reaching out to those not part of God's Holy catholic Church (little c) and loving the world as did Christ, we get caught up in petty squabbles about non-essential matters. It's a brilliant strategy of Satan's and it works quite well.

I'm reminded of Andy Gullahorn's song, "If I Were" where he says:

"No, I'm not the devil but if I was, I'd take God's people and split them up/ to keep their minds off who they're called to be. So they're no longer fighting over living or dead/ it's is it the body or just bread/ while all the unfed die hungry on the street."
copyright 2001 and don't even think about stealing lyrics, etc... visit his website, because I for one don't want him & Jill & the kids to have to live under a bridge and eat grubs from under a rock because they can't afford to make house payments (his joke, not mine). Buy a cd---it's really good!

Wow. I think that sums it up. So there's my controversial religious thought for the day. With more to follow, I'm sure!