Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fashion Advice

(Pre-script: To get the most out of this post, possibly including but not limited to a dose of wardrobe savvy, you'll want to read it as the song " Superman," by Five for Fighting plays. Go down to the playlist, click on the song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

If Derek ever asks me what he should wear, I like to say something like "how about the breastplate of righteousness?"

He laughed the first couple times...but now I think it's just getting old.

As for the rest of you...feel free to direct your fashion questions to the comments section of this post. I will do my best to give a swift and appropriate response.*


*Responses may vary greatly from case to case.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Covered Bridge Park Dancers

(pre-script: To get the most out of this post, please read it as the song: "Heavenly Day" plays. Go down to the playlist, click it on, then come back and resume reading this post. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Dancing takes many different forms.
We discovered a new one at the park today.
I have no idea what it's called, but it involved about 7 people strapping jingle bells to their shins, holding large sticks, performing some choreographed moves that involved tossing and catching each others sticks and randomly singing at certain places, as a mandolin player and a violin player played the accompaniment. Oh, and there was also a girl who's job it was to stand on the side and catch any wayward sticks. She was necessary at least a few times.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Baby turned 2

(Pre-script: there is no prescripted song for this post. Just hum "happy birthday" to yourself.)


Friday, October 24, 2008

The amazing tricks of my cat Jake

Pre-script: To get the most out of this post, please read it as the song: "Sweet Pea," by Amos Lee plays. Go down to the playlist, click it on, then come back and resume reading...I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

When I was six years old, I had a cat named Jake. He was actually my cat, since I loved him the most. Jake actually came to our house accidentally; One night, when we got home, he was just there, on our porch, with a torn collar that had no tags or other source of identification. I remember that we gave the cat some food, and low and behold, he was there the next day...and the next day...and the day after that...until finally after about a week, my parents decided we could adopt him and actually let him inside the house. I used to pick him up and carry him around like a baby. He had a magic trick that I have never seen repeated by the cat species of the world. Since Jake's food and water dishes were right next to each other, he would push one piece of his dry cat food into the water, let it soak, then pick the cat food piece up with his paw and put it in his mouth. Yes, you read that right. My cat fed himself with his paw, one piece of cat food at a time. Folks, even if you're not a cat person, you have to admit that that is a great trick. Jake was also good at sneaking onto my pillow at night and falling asleep. I would wake up in the middle of the night and my pillow would be covered by the cat...who would never leave me even a corner. Have you ever been a 6 year old trying to get your sleeping heavy cat off of your pillow in the middle of the night? If not, let me tell you, it is very, very frustrating for a child, even a child who adores her feline friend. At other times in Jakes life, he narrowly avoided certain death situations, like the bee bee gun shots that mysteriously appeared on him one day, and the time he got caught in the next door neighbors rabbit trap...the neighbor who raised and skinned rabbits and kept pigeons as we spyed over the fence from our fruitless mulberry tree...that's a whole new post...


All over the map

I'm looking at a blank page wondering why I can't think of anything to say. What is wrong with my thinking? Where did the inspiration go? I need to email someone I don't even know. I need to clean the house. I need to enjoy the quiet of two sleeping children. I need to bake 2 cakes. Instead I'm sitting here trying to write a blog post. I could say some really awesome things right now, I'm just sometimes not willing to be very revealing in a blog. I'm going to call a friend instead. Hold on...called the friend, had a good conversation, and the head space I'm in right now is this, peeps: Life isn't just a tidy little box. Open your eyes and be deliberate. You can put the award on your chest, walk tall, and wear it proudly for the world to see, and everyone will congratulate you, but I, for one am not inspired by that. I think you'll have a rude awakening when the lid doesn't fit and all of the contents come pouring out. Look beyond your peripheral vision. The whole entire world is even bigger than that.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bumper Sticker Culture

(pre-script: To get the most out of this post, possibly including, but not limited to, a little bit of common sense, go down to the playlist, click on the song "Big yellow Taxi," covered here by the Counting Crows, or "The Boys of Summer," by Don Henley. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

"...Out on the road today,
I saw a Deadhead sticker on a cadillac.
A little voice inside my head said
'don't look back, you can never look back.'"*

While driving today, I saw a green minivan with two distinctive bumper stickers. The first one said "Where she is queen, He is king" In the middle was a picture of Mary holding baby Jesus. They both had halo's over their heads. The other bumper sticker was for a Catholic Radio station.
Please let me know if your life has ever been changed by a bumper sticker.
That's all I have to say about that,
For shizzle.

*From the song "The Boys of Summer," by Don Henley

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


i don't want to be a book
with a title that indicates

that it is closed before it's ever been opened.

if I found a piece that was hidden

or missing or invisible
i want to hold it in my open palm

on a day when the sun is blinding

on a day when the sound has been turned off

(Sometimes there are too many words,

Sometimes there just aren't enough.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Monarchs and Humpbacks

(Pre-script: To get all that this post has to offer, possibly including, but not limited to, a bit of common sense, you'll want to read it as the song "Blackbird" plays. Go down to the playlist, click on that song, then come back and read this post. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Raise your hand if you've ever tried to take pictures of butterflies.
(Oh, I see hands there, there, there, and there.)
I tried it today when we went to see the Monarch Butterflies who migrate from October until March at Natural Bridges beach; it wasn't easy. Those beauties are quite fluttery. And the still butterflies were far away, high up in the trees, all clustered together. And trust me, I am no expert photographer. Like I have the time or the patience to set up a tripod and a huge zoom lense. If you think Photographer's Weekly Magazine* calls me on a regular basis to ask if they can showcase some of my work, you are wrong.

Here are a few of today's feeble attempts:

After visiting the butterflies, we drove along the coast and gazed at the Pacific Ocean, where a great number of dolphins, and possibly even some whales, were practically flirting with us. Trust me, it was flattering...but if you think it's hard to photograph butterflies, just imagine trying to photograph sea life in it's natural habitat.

My little digital camera couldn't even begin to handle the pressure.

*There is no such magazine. I made the title up so as not to offend any actual magazines.

Please, judge this book by it's (back) cover

It says:
"About the author
Mr. Burrill loves making Roodle Doodle books.
They are books for your children and grandchildren."

-Jeremy, 7.

Friday, October 17, 2008

To All The Gum's I've Loved Before

(Pre-script: To receive the full benefits this post has to offer, possibly including, but not limited to, vitamin B12, you first need to go down to the playlist at the bottom of this page, click on the song "32 Flavors," covered here by Alana Davis, OR "100 Years" by Five for Fighting. Pick which one you like, click on it, then come back and resume reading...I'll wait...)(...still waiting...)

I remember the first time I ever tried a piece of sugar-filled gum. I was probably 9 or 10 years old, and my friend
Debbie (now Deb)* gave me a piece of her Watermelon Bubblicious. Wow, what a revolution! What a magical burst of flavor and texture explosion! I immediately noticed the grainy crunch of actual sugar granules, which was completely mind blowing to this sugar free gum veteran. And the bubbles! You really could blow bubbles the size of your head! I took to sugarful gum automatically and instantly.
My experiences with gum up until then had been purely sugarless. My dad used to favor the dark green pack of Carefree gum, and he would offer myself and my 3 brothers a half of a stick whenever we were driving somewhere that involved a change of altitude. I loved it! Chewing
gum was always an enjoyable pastime. While I was blissing out in the backseat, working that half stick of sugarless dark green Carefree gum, the rest of the family would be saying things like "Chew quieter!" or "Don't chew your gum so loud!" Eventually I learned to tone the chewing down, since this annoys A LOT of people....but didn't they realize that chomp chomp chomping was half of the fun? Apparently not...but I propose that they just might have been happier people if THEY had taken the liberty of chomping their own gum once in a while.
In the ensuing years, as I grew older and developed my own ability to choose what flavor and brand of gum to chew, I switched loyalties based sometimes on ignorance, flavor curiosity, packaging, and whatnot. I also returned to my sugarless gum roots. The sugar was just not worth the tooth damage or the calories. Eventually, by the end of the '90's, I was pretty settled on light blue Extra chewing gum. Then Orbit gum was invented, and it was the perfect combination of terrific texture and original, fantastic flavors. I have not been disappointed with Orbit gum. In fact, I would like to take this moment to publicly thank Orbit for it's excellence in the gum department. Thank you, Orbit.
Y'all, last week I discovered yet another brand of gum. It's called "5," and it's really good. The texture is perfect, the flavor long lasting, and the packaging is all blinged out. But one of the very VERY best things about 5 gum? No where on the package does it say: "Not a low calorie food."**


*I have another story that involves Debbie (now Deb) chasing me around the church to try to steal the piece of gum away from me that I had just removed from the Valentine that she had just given me. But that's another story for another day...and in her defense, it was still the '80's.

**Am I the only one who cracks up when I read that on a gum package? It just seems so...ridiculous. And don't even get me started about people who say that they are "eating" gum, instead of "chewing" gum. Um, you don't EAT Gum, peeps! No one Eats gum! 'Cause they told us so many times that it takes 7 years to digest, and who wants a huge ball of undigested gum hanging out in his or her intestines for 7 years? Like I have TIME to wait around for THAT! Gosh!

***"Sugarful" is not an actual word. I just invented it for this here post.

The one where I tell you what I dreamed last night

(Pre-script: To recieve the full benefits this post has to offer, you'll need to read it as the song" Good Intentions" by Toad the Wet Sprocket, plays. Go down to the playlist, click on that particular song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

This morning, I was blasting through space* when in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, my dream from last night returned to my full conscious memory. And then I thought, "Wow, how about that?" So I thought I would share it here, today, with all y'all, my peeps, gentle readers that you are, even those of you who are imaginary...(It wouldn't be my FIRST encounter with imaginary friends...But I digress...)
I dreamed that I woke up on the morning after the Presidential Election, opened the newspaper**, and read that the person who won was someone that I had never heard of, from some obscure party which I had also never heard of. The new Presidential Elect did not have any distinguishable characteristics that I remember; that wasn't important in the dream. The important part was simply the fact that some unexpected and previously unknown person had won, and what a surprise that was! I did not react to this news with fear or anxiety or disappointment. In my dream, I was just really surprised more than anything, and probably fascinated, in a "well, would you look at that!" sort of way.
Feel free to interpret this dream however you want. You might be wrong, but feel free to interpret it, anyway. Before you analyze, let me give you some guidelines for dream interpretation that I know from having researched the subject extensively about 14 years ago for a paper I had to write. Since I got an A on the paper, I now concider myself a Dream Analysis Expert and am going to add that to my profile as soon as I am done writing this.
Remember that when you analyze dreams, what is important is the feelings involved in the dream, more so than what is happening***. You can learn a lot about yourself by writing down your dreams in the morning, too. You will find that every night, there is a theme in all of your 3-5 dreams that night, which is sometimes hard to pull out...but if you are serious about it, you can really learn a lot about yourself from your dreams. You can actually do a lot of personal therapy this way, too. I experienced this personally 14 years ago, when I started writing down my dreams. I realized that there were certain things that were always happening in my dreams that I had not noticed before. For example, I tended to dream about:
1.falling into the ocean,
2.losing my shoes,
3.people getting mad at me.
When I saw these constant themes, I realized some things I won't share here, except for:
#3."Oh, I have a fear that people are always going to get mad at me."
And guess what, once I had that epiphany, I stopped having the angry people dreams. See, free therapy you can try on yourself. It's like your unconscious mind throws up into your dreams, and it's up to you to sort it out...or not. You could just stick to living an unconscious life. It's really up to you.
Really, you are probably better at analyzing your own dreams than anyone else...Unless you are like Joseph or Daniel in the Old Testament, and the ruler of the nation summons you to interpret his dream, or else he'll kill you or everyone else, and so you have to pray that God will give you the dream and the interpretation. Then you have a gift and a duty to fullfill it. But I digress...
Y'all, I can't tell you EVERYTHING I know about dreams, that would take too long; I'd have to write a book or something, and LIKE I have TIME to write a book that requires me to stay focused on only one topic for, like, 306 pages, at least.


*This should actually read: I was running really fast on the treadmill.

**I don't generally read the newspaper. I sometimes sort through the Sunday paper to retrieve the TV guide and the comics for the kids, and might even read an article if it catches my eye, but again, that's only on Sunday.

***If you always dream about the same thing, then it IS important, but again, it will be the feelings associated with the events that you really want to examine.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sometimes I am a tourist in my own life

(Pre-script: To get the most out of this post, please go down to the playlist, click on the song:" One Headlight," by the Wallflowers, then come back and resume reading...I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Sometimes I am a tourist in my own life
never completely understanding the language and customs,
gawking akwardly at the cost of what is for sale in store windows,
(compared to the value therein)
impatiently strapping into the roller coaster,
then closing my eyes tightly shut and clinging desperately to the handrail
as it plummets and spins me every which way
but sometimes I prefer the bumper cars;
Somedays, I stay in the teacups,
and sometimes I'm just content to wear the t-shirt while taking pictures
It says :"I was here." with an arrow pointing somewhere
(I am here)



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

When Homegirl asks for a pony...

Pre-script: This song is best paired with the song "Hello," by Hawk Nelson. Go down to the playlist, click it on, and then come back here and read the post. Oh, and when you hear the lyrics "My sweet, sweet Madeline," change them in your mind to "My sweet sweet Natalie." That's how I sing it. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

When Homegirl asks for a pony,

...She's not talking Apaloosa.

She's talking about this:

That's right, peeps, baby girl actually asked for a "pwetty pony" yesterday morning. I responded by hastily applying the fastest ponytail I could muster for fear that the longer I took on her hair, the more time she would have to contemplate and change her mind. Once the "pwetty pony" was applied and admired in the mirror, it actually stayed in place for about 5 minutes before being pulled out. Maybe next time I'll actually attempt a bow...assuming, of course, that there will be a next time...and maybe the time after that, the pwetty pony will actually make it out of the house, to an actual public location... assuming, of course, that there will be a time after that.

(and please take special note of the purple nail polish. Oh yeah, that was her idea, too.)


New feature!!!! Never before attempted.

(pre-script: To get the most out of this post, read it as the song "Loving a person," by Sara Groves, plays. Go click it on on the playlist at the bottom of this page, then come back and resume reading...I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

I'm going to add a feature to this blog, wherein I write the thoughts that Derek shares with me after a particular post. I realize that a lot of people read blogs but don't leave comments, but Derek is the only one who lives in my house, so I get to hear his thoughts about the post even when he doesn't leave comments. Often, Derek's thoughts go something like "I don't understand the poem" or "I really love the poem" or "That's funny!" or "Why did you edit that picture that way? Why is my face blue? Didn't you want to straighten it? The engineer in me just wants it straightened."*
I will post his comments to me in the comments section, so if you want to see them, you'll have to click on where it says "comments" at the bottom of the post. I'll give you another example...Yesterday, Derek said "I like the picture at the top. I liked it a lot, actually. At first, I just saw the fingers, I didn't even SEE the eye, and then I saw the eye, and it just added a whole new dimension to the picture." Me:"Oh, so the picture illustrated what the words were saying." D:"Hey, yeah, I didn't even THINK about THAT!" (he absolutely adores this picture.**)

*But Derek, we don't actually live in a straight world...and yes, I kept it crooked on purpose...and yes, I like the blue right where it is.

**Just kidding.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Greek to me...

(Pre-script: To get the most out of this post, read it as the song " A thousand winter's melting" by the Myriad" plays...I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)
Can anyone tell me what this means? :

"When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men."
(What does "he ascended mean except that he also descended into the lower, earthly regions?...") -Ephesians 4:8-9.

I think I understand these verses on a surface level, but I always feel like it has a deeper meaning that I'm missing...
...But I also think that there are certain things that we do only understand on a surface level, and that maybe we're not supposed to know the full, deeper meaning of everything...
...Sometimes we need to allow space inside of ourselves for the mystery; let it knock around inside the heart and mind for awhile; examine it from different angles; look up the context in which it was written...but even then...
I'm studying the book of Ephesians in the bible.
This book of the bible was written by Paul to a church in the city of Ephesus. What piques my interest about this book is how Paul speaks of physical realities that we see and feel on Earth as being just as real as Spiritual realities that we don't necessarily see or feel. The concept of time as we know it is happening within the larger reality of the timelessness of an eternity that is not limited by time. He intertwines phrases like "when you..." with statements like "before the foundation of the world."
Which makes sense, and it also makes no sense at all; we don't know everything, we can't know everything...
And the reality that we don't see is more real than the one we do see.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Toenails Optional

(pre-script: To get the most out of this post, read it as the song "Carry On, Wayward Son," by Kansas, plays...go down to my playlist, click on that particular song, then come back and resume reading. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

If I ever decide to start a blog devoted to running, which I never will, it will be called
"Toenails Optional."
This title is clever, gross, and bound to generate curiosity. Plus, I figure with a title like that, it will attract not only runners, but also ballerinas who don't know any better, and possibly some gymnasts.
I would write posts about things like what is the best type of music to run to, (answer: whatever you like. Even slow songs have some sort of a beat, and if you are listening to music you enjoy, you are more likely to stick it out.) How to build endurance, (answer: You just...keep going. That's all. Then you do it over and over. The end.) Whether to stretch or not to stretch before or after a run, (um, sure, if you want to, go ahead! What's that, you don't want to? That's cool, too!) if you should get a good night's sleep before a run, (Um, yeah!) What's the best thing to eat before and after a run, and how soon before and how soon after to eat it, (What do you think I am, a doctor, or a personal trainer, or a nutritionist, or something?!?)
After that, I'd pretty much be out of advice, so I'd just have to rotate the posts over and over again. Eventually the peeps would catch on, though, and stop reading, so then I might be compelled to bring in guest blog hosts, like maybe an actual Sports Medicine Expert, or an Olympian, or something. Gosh, I guess that means I'd actually have to meet some of those people. And even if I met them and enjoyed them as people, they might be terrible bloggers, and if my blog is going to have a terrible post, at least I want to be the one to have posted it. But having my own personal space be the source of someone else's bad post? That just might go against some deeply fundamental beliefs that I hold very dear. In other words, read my lips: "Not Gonna Happen. Wouldn't be Prudent at this Juncture."
Oh, I guess I should start the whole thing out by telling you something about myself. like "Hi, I'm Michelle, and I'm a runner. I used to run outdoors, in nature, all the time. I used to be so proud of myself for getting good and muddy. Now I run on treadmills indoors." As soon as I shared that tidbit about myself, you could have come straight off of your own hill run, still freshly muddy, still riding your mountain high, and you could point your sweaty finger accusingly at me to tell me that I am a succumber; that I have succumbed. And I, at this point, will feel compelled to say that yes, you are right; I am a succumber, and I have definitely succumbed... but I will be smiling sheepishly when I say it.
But gentle reader, Mama Bear here is never going to start a just for running blog. I don't think I could handle being confined to one topic like that, although I'm sure that eventually it would morph into a platform for me to turn anything I felt like posting that day into a running analogy...only to turn THAT into a Spiritual analogy... I can do that pretty easily, you know...("I already do a 'finity of those.")

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Tall, Tall Trees

(pre-script: To get the most out of this post, go down to the playlist and click on the song" Walk Down This Mountain," by Bebo Norman, then come back to continue viewing this post. I'll wait...) (...still waiting...)

Today, when I looked down I saw this: When I looked up, I saw this: When I looked ahead, I saw this:
Coastal Redwood trees are the tallest trees in the world; they only grow here, 30-40 miles from the coast, along about the top half of the California coast. The trees in this particular park are special because they have not been chopped down; they are ancient. Some of these trees are possibly 3-4,000 years old.
All of these facts were provided here courtesy of what I remember from my conversation with the nice gentleman who was working in the visitors center this afternoon. Y'all, this man was kind, patient, and I continued to ask him question after question because he had one of those voices that soothed my head*. Does this happen to you? Sometimes, I will hear a person talking, and I just want that person to keep talking because the sound of that particular voice soothes me. So I asked him all about the redwood trees, and I listened closely as he told me about the different trees and wildlife growing around there; I let him show me the anomalies that randomly can occur among coastal redwood trees.
And then he gave me this piece of advice, which is what you need to remember:
"If you ever get attacked by a bear, play dead. If you ever get attacked by a mountain lion, fight back. It will shock the mountain lion, for he is used to attacking things like deer that do not fight back...and if you play dead after a mountain lion attack, he'll just eat you."
He was also quick to assure me what I already know, that mountain lions don't like people and will generally stay away...UNLESS the mountain lion has eaten something that affects his brain and makes him crazy. A crazy mountain lion is unpredictable. There is just no telling WHAT a crazy mountain lion might do.
This useful advice reminded me of why I will never fully be a nature lover, but will always only be a nature sometimes interacter. (with all of my babies in tow.)

P.S. But then I discovered this song, "Walk Down This Mountain," by Bebo Norman, tonight, and it practically knocked me off of my if you didn't really listen the first time I told you to, listen to it now! I love it.

*The last time this happened, Derek and I were in a sporting good's store. I listened and listened as the store employee told us all about being in the army and about her Grandmother's upcoming surprise birthday party. When we finally left the store, I told Derek "I just liked her voice."