Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bad Joke Tuesday: The Food Edition

What kind of coffee was served on the Titanic?

What do you call cheese that isn’t yours?
Nacho cheese

Chocolate Kissing...

Some brilliant chemist must have come up with this faboo idea! Lickable or kissable lips...with your morning, afternoon, evening, or late-night burst of chocolate indulgence. Lots o' flavas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Gotta love Kermit, Miss Piggy, the Swedish Chef, and Beaker

"Mee MEEmee MEEE-mee" = Beaker singing the "Nine ladies dancing" stanza of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

Ah yes, the immortal words of Muppets... heh-heh.

One of my favorite Christmas albums from childhood is John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together. Kermit is there in all his sincere, well-meaning green-frogness. Miss Piggy is her bossy diva self (gee, remind you of anyone?). Animal protests his "won't go! won't go!" unless figgy (not "piggy") pudding is produced forthwith. The two grumpy guys are...well, grumpy. Everyone is there; and they chime in happily on "Deck the Halls," "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and "Christmas Is Coming." The Muppets do a sweet-spirited performance of "Stille Nacht," in German, after which John tells the story behind the beloved carol. Then the entire group sings the song in English.

The only thing missing from the album is a good solo by the Swedish Chef warbling some buried treasure of a European Christmas carol that only Swedes would recognize. I'm not sure how he could top his "hurdy-gurdy, get duh squirrelee"* act or his unique rendition of "Blue Danube Waltz" (ie. "Da, da, da, DA, BORK, BORK, bork, bork"), but the Chef would be up to the challenge.

* Yep, everything...somehow relates back to squirrels.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Midnight oil burned? Check.

Marathon copy editing. Gotta love it. I didn't think I could do it tonight. Nose to the grindstone actually worked this time. Amazing how time expands when one focuses on the task at hand, rather than counting the divets in the ceiling tiles. Hmm, have I uncovered a new aspect of the time-space continuum? Neh... It was a God thing. Truly.

So...though I have a second wind and though Mark Bray beat me to posting about LW&W (and elicited an interesting mental rambling this morning [well, it was interesting to ME!]), I shall refrain from posting any further tonight.

I know.
You don't care.
And you think my nose is buried too far in my navel anyway.
I don't blog for anyone but me...and my eight readers.

Anyhooz, several movie reviews in the works, stuff about bad fashion or some such fluff, and goodies about Christmas...to be posted this week.

Love to all my loyal fans! Polka-dotted scarf waves to ya. :o)
~@ Elena @~

Palabras de sabiduria, palabras de vida

Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.---Lou Holtz

"The LORD will fight for you; you must be quiet." Exodus 14:14 (HCSB®)

Courage is not the towering oak that sees storms come and go; it is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.---Alice Mackenzie Swaim

Bad Joke Tuesday: The "I *Heart* Grammar" Edition

{with a Christmas flair}

What do you call Santa’s helpers?
Subordinate Clauses

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Meat Special Series (Vol 1, No. 2)

Today's special: chukar

Yes, you read it correctly---chukar. Pronounced CHUH-ker (heehee--sounds like a homophone for my chicken chucker!!). Definition here.

Happy noshing!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Bad Joke Tuesday: The Duh! Edition

Where do you find a dog with no legs?
Right where you left him

What do you call a boomerang that doesn’t work?
A stick

Nerdifacts and Other Geekery



more geekery

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Today's Meat Special: The New Blog Post Series

Today's selection: Squab Kabobs

The story: My friend YellaJacket decided Field & Stream would be the magazine subscription he'd take with his frequent flyer points. He didn't realize nearly every picture would include a gun. So much for taking the mags to Sunday School for the kids to cut out nature photos!

A lovely sheet of stickers was conveniently included in one issue, with this explanation of their use: "Make sure you can track down your wildlife in their deep-freeze wilderness habitat by using these handy labels. They're like radio transmitter collars, except they go on dead things."

As Pink Kitty says, "If steak is murder, murder is tasty!"

Monday, November 28, 2005

"Buy me that squee-rrull, Da-dee"

I sent my sister a list of possibilities for Christmas gifts, from her to me, upon her request. Her reply was an objection to a particular item on the list:

“Clicking a link and buying a squirrel is not so much fun, and it's just one more thing to dust.”

Ring of Fire

Saturday night the 19th, Pink Kitty and I saw Walk the Line, the biographical film of the rise of Johnny Cash from sharecropping farmer's son to country/rock-and-roll star. Really, the film is more than that, so much more. And like Pink Kitty wrote, the film ought to have been titled Ring of Fire.

We began our trek to the movie theater appropriately---listening to Cash's hits. I gotta admit...I had hardly ever listened to Johnny Cash's music. I only remember him from my younger days when there'd be some album of his advertized on TV..."Call now; operators are standing by." I remember seeing a music video or something of his---he was wearing black (surprise, surprise) and singing and walking around an empty boxcar sittin' on the railroad tracks. For the longest time, trains and Johnny Cash and that black outfit just seemed to go together in my mind. And Willie Nelson and Boxcar Willie (aren't they two different people? I dunno) were connected with Cash too.

So...when June (played excellently by Nashville's own Reese Witherspoon) asks Johnny how he developed his sound that imitates the trains' rhythms, the image clicked with me. The steady movin' on to somewhere else...that's what drives the prisoner crazy, as told by Cash's song "Folsom Prison Blues." That freedom...

The film depicts Johnny's raging, abusive alcoholic father's treatment of him. And I see that treatment as having created a prison for Johnny. It was a prison of blame, of bitterness, of hopelessness, and of low self-worth. The perspectives and perceptions of Ray Cash were transferred to his son. Johnny was forever trying to prove his father wrong but missing the mark every single time.

Sound familiar? Sound like our attempts to please our Heavenly Father? They fall short every time. But He knows how to give second chances AND to give the grace we so desperately need (and don't deserve, because on our own, we have not enough merit) in order for what we do to be pleasing to Him.

Perhaps we think too much about grace been doled out in each instance...momentary grace...rather than living in a state of grace, in a spacious place called "I Am Loved by the LORD Almighty." We see life in a way that could be likened to a prison...and in some moments, we are let out for a respite---grace periods. Is God that miserly? No!

He is not playing a game with us, changing the rules constantly about what will please Him. He is not a capricious god like those gods feared by various groups through the ages. He tells us what pleases Him. And most of all, our just being, pleases Him, as a child's merely existing pleases her mother.

Johnny Cash's father, as shown in the movie, never was pleased by his son's talk or actions. And Johnny's mere existence was not enough to please his father. Utter rejection emanated from the man. You see it as he sits across the length of the table at Thanksgiving in Johnny's home, and you hear it in his voice when he harangues Johnny, "You have nothing!"

I think the most poignant moments in the movie come when June Carter, her mother, and her father stay with Johnny after the Thanksgiving meal, to walk with him through an at-home detox from drugs and alcohol---they do what those who are supposed to love Johnny the most, refuse or neglect to do. June cares for and comforts Johnny as he tosses and turns and sweats. Maybelle and Mr. Carter run off the drug dealer who tries to make a house call. Mr. Carter even employs a shot gun in the effort! (Merely to threaten the drug dealer...not actually shoot him.) Then June is her most angelic when she exhorts and encourages Johnny upon his waking from rest after wrestling with the effects of withdrawal. She says, "Johnny, this is your second chance," and smiles, her expression mingling with the sunlight streaming in from the bedroom windows. She who could not stand to be around Johnny in his drug-induced stupors and angry careening out of control, has drawn near to him and has embodied the offer God is extending to Cash.......his redemption has drawn nigh. And the prison door is open, and Johnny can see that...and get up out of the cell and live in freedom.

If prison is the image that repeats in Cash's life, fire is the one that repeats in June's. "Ring of Fire" is the song June wrote to illustrate how the passion between her and Johnny affected her. True, the passion burned hot...and it left some destruction in its wake; but also "the ring of fire" became a true, redemptive love between them, a purifier. It burned the front Johnny had put on for years. It burned June's protective shell on herself and allowed her to shine even brighter.

Reminds me of another ring borne of fire: the One Ring of LotR fame. The evil thing was forged by fire, fire illuminates the Ring's identity, and it is fire that purges the evil.

Fire is destructive, yes; but what is worthy to be left after the fire, will remain. It will be redeemed.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Coffee Tawk

You are a Black Coffee

At your best, you are: low maintenance, friendly, and adaptable

At your worst, you are: cheap and angsty

You drink coffee when: you can get your hands on it

Your caffeine addiction level: high

Friday, November 11, 2005

A word on words

This text came to me via e-mail. Original author is unknown.


So what is this stuff about English being easy?

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meaning than any other two-letter word, and that is "UP."

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we waken in the morning, why do we wake UP?

Sometimes the little word has really special meaning. At other times this UP is just plain confusing.

* At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP A report?
* We call UP our friends.
* We use brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, warm UP the leftovers, and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house, and some guys fix UP the old car.
* People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.
* To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.
* A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.
* We open UP a store in the morning, but we close it UP at night.
* When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.
* When it rains, it wets UP the earth. When it doesn't rain for a while, things dry UP.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!

To be knowledgeable of the proper uses of UP, look UP the word in the dictionary. In a desk-size dictionary, the word up, takes UP almost 1/4th the page and definitions add UP to about 30.

If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with 100 or more.

One could go on and on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so.............

I'll shut UP .....!

Anybody else got a headache now?

Monday, October 31, 2005

Cussing LITE ?

The Tennessean has an interesting article about the slang kids today use. Actually, my generation uses a whole host of words that one interviewee deemed "tacky," rather than profane.

This article is what helped the Holy Spirit further convict my friend YellaJacket about his use of the word c**p and others. His decision, and his discussion of the article, sparked a hallway debate about the related issues: the uncouthness of our society and the further degeneration of our culture, what makes a curse word a curse word, and what should a Christian refrain from saying.

I think we can all agree that our society has allowed uncouth behavior to become acceptable, even desirable. What started this trend? Shall we blame it on our parents and aunts and uncles---the Baby Boomers and Flower Children? Makes sense to me. Previous eras didn't buck the system and scream against "the establishment" as much as the 60s did.

The adults of previous eras still held up adulthood as an admirable state to reach. One was expected to grow out of childhood. Certain privileges were reserved for people of certain ages, and certain activities were allowed only within the confines of marriage (sex, having and raising children, owning one's own home).

Today childhood and adolescence are lifted up as the golden years. The years of maturity are only praised among the senior citizens, when one wants to sell something to them, like Centrum Silver ('cause "it's a good time to be silver"). Madison Avenue has exalted youth, rather than maturity, and now even adults are electing to maintain behaviors and attitudes that generations before, adults would have renounced as they grew up and matured.

This attitude and these values, together, cause, or at least facilitate, the degeneration of our speech. We no longer hold children accountable to our expectations of them. We are told, and then accept the message, that we are too hard on them, that we must be more understanding, we must be more tolerant, we must not dampen their spirits.

It is not the spirit of being a child that rears its ugly head in a child---it is the human nature, the flesh nature, the sin nature, that rears its head. That nature is in each and every one of us. Not some. Not a few. ALL!

Are we to encourage rebellion? Are we to encourage unrestrained thinking, speaking, and behaving? No! Adults are supposed to train the children in the ways that they are to go as adults---to teach them to begin NOW to think, speak, and behave in ways that bring the favor of God and of other people.

In the case of their speech, what does it matter what a child says? Isn't a word just a word? Well, no. Curse words demean the things to which they refer...whether to a sexual act or to full sexual intercourse (sexual acts are designed by God to be sacred acts...in the sense that it is set aside for a special purpose: the joining of two human souls and procreation [yes, pleasure is involved, but it is not the sole purpose, nor the highest]) to defecation or any number of human activities. Curse words involve vehement, even violent, emotions. It is really not the word itself that makes it profane. In theory, we could use any combination of letters and make it a curse word. It is the meaning the word carries, the thing to which it refers (and demeans), and the emotion behind the usual usage of the word--the combination of these things that make the word a curse word. You could also say that connotation has much to do with it.

Yet, I don't think that explains all. Why do we use the particular curse words that exist nowadays? Well, my theory is that we use them because their sounds are harsh, and those harsher sounds seem to express the level of vehemence in our feelings. Isn't there a difference between saying, "Oh, shoot!" and "S**t!!!" ? Yes, there is. I feel it in myself. One expresses stronger anger or frustration than the other. And when I say, "Shoot!" with the same vehemence I would usually say with the other word, well, it's the other word I'm really thinking in my head.

I mean, think about the worst curse word of them all---the F bomb. (And if there is a worse curse word, I don't know of it.) Why is it so beloved as a curse word? Perhaps it is the beginning sound, which one must press one's upper front teeth to one's bottom lip to make [notice that the position of teeth and lip is very like a facial expression of frustration], and the ending sound, which one must extend one's lower jaw and pull back one's upper jaw, keeping the mouth open slightly, to make [this position is like a facial expression of anger]. The sounds of the word are explosive and harsh---and it puts a violent "spin" on the action it originally described.

Is it any coincidence, now, that the F word has become an adjective, moving beyond just being a rather profane way to express sexual action? This word, sex, and violence are inextricably linked. Even if we are becoming more and more desensitized to its use in "everyday" speech... {UGH!}

So what does a Christian do? Are we to be concerned only about what is actual profanity, as defined by God, or must we also be concerned about what "polite society" deems uncouth and unrefined? Should a Christian be refined? Certainly not if "refined" means haughty, cold, and unapproachable. But if one's behavior is dignified because it flows from a reverence and regard for God, from a valuing of human beings and a desire to make others comfortable (which is the purpose of courtesy and manners), then a concern for being dignified, couth, and refined is certainly a godly one. But if it is about self, about maintaining one's reputation (and considering others as beneath oneself), about being "better" than others, THAT is not godly.

I don't think that Jesus was so concerned about being so-called "refined." Besides, back then...there was so much dirt and grime everywhere---how could you be THAT refined in the first place? But Jesus would not have been sarcastic to the point of being hurtful to others. He would not have been a cynical person. Maybe He could be described as a realist AND an optimistic person, but since He also is all-knowing God and not just a mere human with extra powers, optimistic or pessimistic isn't even an issue---He knows what's going to happen. He doesn't have to speculate and decide the worst will happen or hope the best will happen. He will be victorious. He already is victorious.

Jesus was and is confident, in the sense that He knew who He was and knows who He is. God needs no one else to prove who He is. He is "I AM that I AM." He is sufficient unto Himself.

So God is not arrogant...because there is no one above Him. And arrogance is thinking more highly of oneself than one ought. God is God.

God alone knows when gentleness or firmness is needed with one of His creations. Jesus was gentle with His words but also firm (dare I say, harsh at times?). He had compassion on people, but He also told them like it was. He sees the heart as it truly is, beneath our heaped-up extra guilt or beneath our self-delusional pride.

Jesus said, "The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart (Matt. 12:34). ... What comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this defiles a man. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual immoralities, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man (15:18-20)."

So...we Christians should check our minds, our hearts, our mouths, and our entire lives---is what we are thinking, saying, and doing flowing out of attitudes of love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, forbearance, perseverance, humility, praise, gratitude, compassion, boldness, goodness, patience, peace, kindness, gentleness, soberness, and self-control? Or are we letting the flesh have sway? Are we thinking, speaking, and acting out of bitterness, anger, jealousy, wrath, envy, hatred, self-pity, pride, suspicion, revenge, foolishness, lack of restraint, greed, lust, gluttony, and drunkenness?

Through Jeremiah, God says, "The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and desperately sick---who can understand it? I, the LORD, examine the mind, I test the heart (Jer. 17:9-10)."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Morena Elena's blonde moment(s)

Though I am dark brown haired, from this weekend, and especially this morning, you'd think I was blonde.

Today's fortune-cookie-worthy lesson (re-learned)...... Moo Shu Chicken left in waste can in office over the weekend makes for "shoooooo weeee!!!!!" on Monday morning.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Friday Flinging Fun

What other pleasures are there on a Friday afternoon than attempting to get things to go airborne?

I finally succumbed to the seductive lure of................the Chicken Chucker.

This brightly-colored "gun" is actually a miniature trebuchet of sorts and comes packaged with five small chickens. (Refills are available...should chicken be launched and turn up irretrievable.) You place the chicken inside one "tray," snap the top down on it, and pull the trigger. A fowl is flung into the air!

Yes, two chickens will fit in the tray. First attempt of double-cluck chucking resulted in one chicken flung into a co-worker's office across the hall and other chicken landing near my office door.

My editor in chief admitted his jealousy of my new firing arm. He tried it out and got quite an arc with the trajectory.

Why toss paper wads or fire rubber bands......when you can propel poultry?


Candy for the Cannibalistic Set?

I forwarded to MamaJR an e-mail someone had sent me which contained photos of tiny little babies...supposedly made of marzipan. (Marzipan is almond paste, a sweet paste made of ground almonds and sugar, often with egg whites or yolks, used as a layer in cakes or molded into ornamental shapes [yeah, usually fruits...like oranges and lemons and such...NOT babies!].)

Here's the conversation that ensued:

MamaJR: WOW!

Elena: Now you can really nibble on little baby feet.... {And I had just been nibbling on little Baby E-beth's fingers and toes Saturday...just kisses, though!}

MamaJR: Funny... I wouldn't want to eat them!

Elena: I know...but they're MARZIPAN.....which means you could eat them......which sounds CREEPY to me.

To which MamaJR replies that she just wants to put one in a glass case and put it on her TV cabinet...to the mixed horror and delight of her guests, I'm sure. Can't you just see the quizzical stares and the one-raised-eyebrow looks?

See, I'm remembering a certain Austin Powers character with a penchant for child flesh and his cry of glee when seeing Mini Me: "It's a baby! I wanna eat the baby! Come on, little baby! Git in mah belleh!!"

Update: Yep, it's another "urban legends" type thing...check out the explanation at Snopes.com.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Holy shag carpeting, Batman!

You gotta love Pier 1, folks. They sell the....oddest....music collections on CD. I'm currently listening to one I bought there---Cocktails: Shaken Not Stirred.

Track 1 is "It's Not Unusual" by Tom Jones (can ya see the chest hair and the bling-blingin' necklaces between the two long-pointed lapels?).

Track 2 is "Soul Bossa Nova" by Quincy Jones. Movie fans know that track as the Austin Powers theme music.

Hey, when ya work in a mauve-walled office, ya gotta add some real color wherever you can find it!

Monday, October 10, 2005

It was one of those days

Conversation from last Thursday....

Elena: Today’s just one of those days. Not bad........just one of those days when work tasks leave ya shakin' your head and wanting to chuck the computer app out the winder...... Signs of one of "those" days: (1) Liberal amounts of chocolate must be applied to aid in higher brain function [and lower brain function] and (2) rants at the computer are sung with a pretty decent Strong Bad impression.

Pink Kitty: Do you apply chocolate in a solid form, or slather it all over yourself like a mud mask?

Squirrel Saga, Part Deux

My friend MamaJR reports the latest in the squirrel saga:
"Here's the e-mail our car insurance company sent us."

GEICO General Insurance Company

October 10, 2005

Dear [Mr. Bulldog Fan]:

Thank you for your Internet request.

I apologize for any confusion. Comprehensive coverage would cover damage caused by the collision of your vehicle with an animal. You would actually have to collide with the animal in order for the damages to be covered.

I apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused you. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Thank you for using GEICO's on-line services! We appreciate your business and hope you have a great day!

[Ms. GEICO Employee]

MamaJR says: Just let me at them, I'll be happy to collide with the squirrels!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Bizarre car

A story from MamaJR:

"My mechanic just called to explain why my car went berserk and died Tuesday night. BulldogFan and I had stopped by Enterprise to pick up my car at 10:00 p.m. when we returned from Georgia. The car was shaking and acting possessed, so we left it there at Enterprise and had it towed yesterday.

"A squirrel (over the course of a few days or weeks) has chewed through two of my six spark plugs, through AC wires, connection wires, transmission wires; and the breaks have caused them to burn. =(

"Hopefully they haven't burned into the console, but the mechanic said it's going to be a long repair job since he will have to literally rebuild the entire wiring system.

"Those little runts! I can't keep them away from my car because our house doesn't have a garage and we live in a heavily-wooded area next to a river. I will have to think about creating traps to keep the buggers away.

"I am also going to buy a gun."

After consulting a co-worker, Mama JR had this update: "I told Titus2Lady that I need to get a pellet gun to scare them, and she told me that I need to get a real gun to kill them!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Darn tootin,' I'd say...

Related item of pop culture: Carrie Bradshaw, when spending a weekend in the country, wuzznt kiddin' when she proclaimed, "They are NOT cute!!! Squirrels are just rats in better outfits."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Blessings on the concert, LPO!

Tonight is the first performance of the Lousiana Philharmonic Orchestra's 2005–06 season, which was set to open Sept. 15 but couldn't because of Hurricane Katrina + levee damage to their theater. About 60 musicians have gathered here in Nashville for a concert.....and it's an emotional time: a reunion of family.

NPR broadcasted a report from one of our local radio reporters (see link in the blog entry title), and you can hear the excitement in the musicians' voices as they talk about their reunion. You also hear the bits of sorrow over instruments they have lost (or fear are lost). Several musicians have collections of the musical instruments they play, including rare and antique pieces.

But what they grieve most of all is having a home in which to play. For tonight, they do have a home, albeit a temporary one. The LPO's gratitude to Nashville is palpable and the musicians' joy infectious.

May you play with vigor and joy, gratitude and wonder, and renewed dedication to your art, LPO musicians! May your time in Nashville be a blessing to you, as I am sure you will be a blessing to us!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Fall is here...let the weekend fun begin!

Elena's social calendar is filling with delightful things to do and see.

Plaid wearing, caber tossing, and a jig or two
What clan are you?
Elena's a Wallace. Generations back, that is. And yes, there's a William among those Wallaces---again, way on back several generations---but the family's not sure if he's that William.

Costume drama, all rumpled and bothered
Can Keira Knightley improve on Jennifer Ehle's Lizzie? Will Matthew MacFadyen be a better Darcy than Mr. Firth? I dunno. But Ashpenaz and I are gonna do a little popcorn-accompanied research to find out.

Serenity rocks the house!

I agree with Ms. P. K. Nail [spoiler warning] about this flick. Awesome, babies, awesome!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Some blog entries should come with safety warnings

Like "Should be taken with liberal amounts of chocolate" or "Do not ingest while talking on the phone, as might cause choking".............
I'm shakin' my head over a doozie from a very left-brained friend. Evidently, the implications of his left-brainedness had escaped me. More illusions have been shattered...

Please read the entire post I reference (linkie in post title above), in order to understand the text that follows.

"I have always considered the Psalms to have second-tier status in my mind, as compared to the straight historical narrative format of much of the rest of Scripture. However obscure some of Scripture may be, throwing poetry into the mix just seems to be make matters worse."

"Would be fine if it [the Book of Psalms] just stayed as poetry. But this especially gives me fits each time I see later authors of Scripture refer back to the Davidic psalms and use them as prophetic in nature. Where does the warrant come from, to draw such conclusions from this genre?"

"make matters worse" "this genre" *Elena raises eyebrow* Er? ¿Repite, por favor? A little less disdain, if you please. (Braymp, ya know I still love ya, brother.)

So...the form negates the possibility of the text offering truth? Must one tell (prose) rather than show (poetry)? Hmm?

I sense some postmodern thinking cropping up here---ala How can one KNOW the true message of the author, especially if he couches his message in poetic language/form? Well, to that I ask, "How can one KNOW the true message of the author, even if he states it outright? Aren't all authors 'unreliable narrators' to some degree?"

Does the form make the Truth clearer to the reader? More reliable? Do other forms obscure the Truth or make doubtful the veracity of the existence of the particular truth being conveyed?

True, the non-fiction essay form is similar to the steps and process of the scientific method: hypothesis, experiment and observation, thesis, proof and analysis, and conclusion/theory. Is it because poetry seems to deviate from the scientific method that some look askance at it?

Well, now I have good impetus/inspiration/reason for finishing/tweaking a post on "Why Read/Study/Teach Poetry?"

And maybe my friend can add "Why Study/Practice/Teach Pure Science?" to his blog fodder list.

To be continued...

On tap for the evening


It's lovely to have friends who gots da hook-up! ;o)

Trivia Challenge: The actor who plays Serenity's captain was a regular for a while on a soap opera back in the 90s. Which soap opera was it?

Yes, I watched soaps in high school in college. Snicker all you like... I've beaten the addiction: I'm soap opera free now.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

New biography of C. S. Lewis's life

Read an article about this book and found a great quote from C. S. Lewis's stepson, Douglas Gresham, the author of this particular biography:

I am sometimes asked what it is like living in the shadow of such a great man, and I always point out that Jack did not leave a shadow behind him but a glow. If I am able to reflect even the slightest spark of that glow, I am more than happy to do so.

What a wonderful tribute! What a wonderful legacy to leave!

Reminds me of my life word: illuminate

Monday, September 26, 2005

Don't Get Stuck on Stupid

Best sound byte from the entire Katrina-Rita episode...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Nashville's Benefit Concert for the Lousiana Philharmonic Orchestra

Nashville has invited as many members of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestara who can, to come to our city and play together in a concert on October 4. Mark O'Connor will perform with them, and members of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra will play in place of those LPO members who cannot make it.

Click on the blog entry title, for more information and to learn how to purchase a ticket.

I'm back!

After a LOOOOONG bout of writer's block, I'm back with plenty of blog fodder. It'll take a while to get through my wish list of things on which to opine, but God willing---I'll do it, even if it takes me into 2006.

Hope you are staying dry, cool, fed, and hydrated!


Monday, August 22, 2005


Blogging temporarily ceased.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

A conversation about Christians and art

After sending to some friends this link to a series of articles about Christians and making movies, a writer friend and I had the following conversation via e-mail:

Friend: I don't think we should even be asking the question "How obvious should the message of a movie be?"; rather, we should be asking "How can I tell this story most effectively?" Storytelling is probably the most powerful mode of communication we have, but if we stop worrying about telling the story and start worrying about the "message," then we will artificially warp the tale and rob it of its power. Some stories are best told with faith in the background; others with it as the central issue, just the way it is in life---in either case, if the *story* is told well, the message will come through, and people will be willing to receive it, instead of resenting its presence. No one should make a movie (or write a book or pursue any other artistic endeavor) just to preach a sermon, he should be doing it because he has a story he wants to tell. If the person is honest with his story, if he tells it from the heart instead of playing to an audience, then the convictions of the person's heart will come through---maybe in the narrative, maybe just in the subtext, but it will be there. Produce art because you are an artist, not because you feel you should because more Christians need to be in the arts.

Elena: True...but the artist should be about pleasing God...that should be her recognized end in life. Not creating art merely for art's sake. When that is his or her chief aim, to please God and enjoy Him forever, then that aim will inform the art and the work of creating can reliably be said to reveal, somehow, truth/Truth. Read Sense and Sensuality by Ravi Zacharias; the book is a much better explanation of my point than I can make it.

Friend: Certainly, the artist's main goal should be pleasing God; that should be in place in his life long before he considers creating art. Then when he tells his story or writes his song or whatever, he can concentrate on making the best art he can, and that devotion to God will come through. My point was that the "message" should not be an artificial overlay placed upon the art, but should flow naturally from the heart of the artist as he uses his art to express that heart, fully integrated into his creation as it is already integrated into his life.

Elena: Exactly......you just stated it better than I did. I was also thinking about people who elevate art...almost to the point of idolatry.

So...if one really doesn't have anything to say and doesn't know how to say it, even if he did, he's better to stay silent till he has something to say? Perhaps the artist's responsibility to God and to his gift is to hone his craft, even if he has not much to say to the world (it may be just to God and himself, and that's still important).

I'm not sure "what I have to say," other than to relate how truth and beauty touch me---to try to reflect the light I see, so that others can see the original light and want to seek it for themselves: illuminate truth and beauty.

And I don't think in stories. I like to read them and watch them, but I don't usually think that way. I guess I'm frustrated that I can see others' stories, but I can't see mine...or that I can't make up stories.

Friend: I don't think we have to "have something to say," as in having some specific message to convey to the world, in order to create art. Art is an expression of the human heart, an overflowing of our own identities into some outer form; if there is some story, some song, some poem inside of us, then that is a good enough reason to put it into artistic form. Its existence doesn't need to be justified by some explicit theme or message. True art reflects the values and beliefs of the one that creates it, and that is what gives it purpose and worth, that is what will touch the hearts of others and convey to them the "message" of the artist's own soul. Sometimes that message is nothing more than the sheer joy of creation, transformed by the reader/hearer/viewer into the joy of receiving that creation and being part of the artist's world, of being for a while some place other than he is. We identify with stories and poems and songs and paintings and all kinds of art, and it is in that identification more than anywhere else that the heart of the author is communicated. Any more obvious message can add on to that, but I don't think it can truly replace it.

A good example of this is some of my stories. Unlike my novel, I didn't write them with some explicit message in mind, but out of a desire to explore the characters and their world, as well as to entertain. And more than anything else, I wrote them because they were inside of me and demanded to be let out, and the process of doing so gave me great satisfaction and joy. But even though I didn't write them with any overt message, who I am and what I believe are imprinted onto those stories by the very fact that I wrote them; my Christian values are laced throughout the narrative and the characters, even though those characters aren't actually Christians and the story has no overt references to religion. The same thing is there in your poetry. Sometimes it is overtly Christian and sometimes it is about your thoughts and feelings at the time without blatant reference to God, but God comes through in all of it in some way or another because God is in you, and you cannot write your heart and keep Him out of it. So don't worry that you may feel you have no great revelations to give to the world; write what is on your heart and God will do with it what He wills.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Shout-outs and Prayer Requests

Miss O'Hara and her sweetheart, Dear Companion, both have new jobs. Congrats, you two! Dear Companion will be moving as a result of his new job, so pray for he and Miss O'Hara to make it through the separation OK.

MauiGirl recently celebrated her 26th birthday! Yo, buttah!!! ;o) ¡Feliz cumpleaños a ti!

BrayMP of De Novo also celebrated his something-somethingeth birthday this month. You rock, Mack Daddio! ;o)

Another friend is looking for a job. Please pray for E.S. Scriptures you can pray on his behalf are printed below. (All Scriptures are HCSB® unless otherwise indicated.) Thanks!

Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us;
establish for us the work of our hands---
establish the work of our hands!
---Psalm 90:17

He led them by the right path
to go to a city where they could live.
---Psalm 107:7

Make my steps steady through Your promise.
---Psalm 119:133a

I will give You thanks with all my heart;
I will sing Your praise
before the heavenly beings.
I will bow down toward Your holy temple
and give thanks to Your name
for Your constant love and faithfulness.
You have exalted Your name
and Your promise above everything else.
On the day I called, You answered me;
You increased strength within me.
The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me.
LORD, Your love is eternal;
do not abandon the work of Your hands.
---Psalm 138:1-3,8

Also the entire chapters of Psalm 142 and 143---the enemies being any fears or anything that paralyzes.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Giving of yourself

It's a good thing, folks. And you're too blessed to be stressed, so don't stress over this. Just chill 'n' read.

Digital Cowboy has posted about masculinity and about what men want, over at his blog, which was partly inspired by previous blog conversations here at the Polka-dotted Sky.

DC says: Love gives. Until you've given, you have no right to expect.

That's the crux of the issue with most women, I'd say. God's been trying to teach me this lesson for a LONG time. "Give, Elena, and do not expect the return from the human. You cannot depend on the human to return your love. But you can depend on Me. Your expectation of Me does not insult Me, because very few expectations of Me are unrealistic. The limit is don't expect Me to follow your timetable. But you can expect Me to listen, to smile at you, to hug you, to laugh with you, to cry with you, to defend you, to teach you, to sing with you and to you and over you, to inspire you, to correct you, and so much more. I will be there when humans cannot. I will be there when the humans are there too. Let Me truly become your #1, and everyone else will take his or her rightful place in your life. When you seek from humans what ultimately only I can provide, you will be disappointed every time."

The woman who places God first will be enabled, equipped, and emboldened to love a man in such a way that her love creates a safe place for him...a wide open space in which he delights to respond by laying down his life for her...and I think this kind of love points the man back to God. (Nagging is not nurturing!)

Both persons in a marriage should fulfill Christ's command regardless of whether the other is doing what he or she is supposed to do. The wife should submit, unless she would be disobeying God or allowing injury to herself, even if he is not loving her as Christ loved the church. The husband should lay down his life, even if she is not submitting to him. Christ did what was good for us, even before we were doing right by Him. So...fulfilling our roles in a Christlike manner, whether or not the other person first acts in a way that encourages us to do the right thing, is living out Christ's life.

Expressing love without succumbing to fear of reprisal, of rejection, or of meeting with blankness or coldness is the challenge.

I believe that Jesus can teach us when the kind word will be timely and will be well received (that the person will take it in and be blessed by it, even if you see or hear no outward sign of the kindness being appreciated) and when the person is being like hard ground and cannot receive what you are wanting to say or to do bless him or her.

Lord, let me see the other person's need truly, not merely as an opportunity to have my need to help be fulfilled. Let this be about You and this person, not about me.

I think that kind of attitude and prayer is CRUCIAL to relationships, especially marriage.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Are they throwing down the gauntlet?

What is Elena to do when her male blog readers start attacking/insulting one another's brands of masculinity? Intervene? Slap their hands? Lay down the law? Let them duke it out and clean up their own blood spatters and apply their own cold slabs o' steak? Stand back and drool? I dunno...

Guys tease one another all the time, throwing barbs and insults, calling one another names... And among some people, the "yo mama" barrage back-n-forth is an art form! (The females indulge in that activity as well.) According to my friends over at Blogger Blaster's (see "Nate" in the sidebar), learning how to take insults and dish 'em back out is a rite of passage for guys, especially among brothers within a family. I've never experienced this myself, since I only have Ashpenaz (or Ashley the Blue Raider, as some of you know her). We didn't have a brother to pummel or to pummel us or to tell us we were stupid poopheads. We had enough of the teasing and name calling from the boys at school. And we decided we didn't like that behavior when it was directed at us.

Over the years, I've noticed that I and other women find men's fighting (physically or verbally) with one another...kinda...you know...sexy. Maybe it's the displays of strength. But then again...the movie version is different from the real-life one. I mean, even if the guy looks like a hunk, do ya really want him name calling at the family reunion or throwing a large object through a restaurant window?

And what about in the body of Christ? Does the sarcasm, the teasing, the usual "manly" repartee amongst "the guys" have a place?

Are some guys being too agressive? Are others being too sensitive? I still don't know.

I think some individuals, both men and women, are struggling these days to figure out if their brands of masculinity or femininity are valid. Should he feel bad about himself if he's not white collar? Should he feel ashamed that he knows beans about car repair? Should he hang his head in shame because he doesn't own a gun or know how to shoot? Should she tease the guys like they tease one another and tease her? Should she be sweet and innocent, or is it OK for her to know about certain *ahem* things (if only in theory, not in practice)? Should she use her brain and go after a career (not necessarily climb the ladder for its own sake), or should she eschew the contemporary world and seek to build a lifestyle pre-1960s?

Who are we supposed to be? Are there only so many flavors of man or woman to be allowed and praised?

These are confusing times indeed.

The dating lesson, redux

Note: Edited from previous version

The story:

Helping a friend clean her apartment, I used a bagless vacuum cleaner for the first time the other day. It was discovered by her boyfriend that I had accidentally dumped not only the crud but also the HEPA filter into the trash....which had already been taken to the dumpster. Argh...

Friend's Boyfriend was astounded by my blunder. I didn't like his reaction. His tone of voice, facial expression, and body language communicated to me his opinion that I had NO brain whatsoever, just because I didn't pay attention to what I was doing and threw away an essential component to the piece of machinery.* Yeah, I got my feelings hurt and sillily thought I'd be vindicated if throttled him with the cable TV cord or brained him with the Mickey Mouse blender. But I refrained and made light of the situation. I offered to purchase the replacement filter, and he warned me it would be expensive.

"What?" I inquired, "Is it going to be, like, 50 dollars?"

"No," said he. "About 35."

"Oh, well, [my friend] can just count it as an early birthday present."

I ran to the conveniently located Tarzhay, found and bought the thing (and a cute hobo bag purse to assuage my ire--I admit it, I'm a shopoholic), and returned to the frenzy o' apt cleaning.

Props to the boyfriend--I felt he was nicer to me as the afternoon wore on. Maybe the new filter and the fresh package of toilet paper were good peace offerings.

I really deserved the second laugh I got from him when I sucked a shoelace up into the vacuum cleaner...and parts of the shoelace melted. And I did praise him for his application of muscle power when he vripped the remaining shoelace length right off the roller brush thingy. I get some points for being a nice gal. *grin*

He really was helpful---switched the hose to the right spot on the vacuum cleaner so that the machine was converted into Tim Allen "augh augh" power mode. Doggy hair and random plastic thingies were no match for that Dirt Devil!!

And he came over the next day and helped out his girlfriend some more, patching up a hole in the closet door. I may not like him, but she does. And that's what counts...

However, this experience made me think about men who consistently deride the women they date or are married to.

For the guys: Don't deride your gal every time she does something silly or careless or even downright stupidity. Likely, she already feels like an idiot. Don't be a turdbucket by making things worse.

For me, and maybe other gals:
DON'T date a man who consistently derides you. (If you feel like an idiot around him because you find him intimidating [eg. awed by his excellence in some area], that's different---it's not his fault.) A man who constantly treats you as if you have no brain, and therefore a worthless piece of dookey; who does not recognize and praise your strengths and abilities; who only feels strong if you are perceived by him and others as incredibly weak; and who needs to be in control 24-7 is to be avoided as a potential marriage partner.

Be nice to the guy, but do NOT date him.

Update: On further reflection and b/c of discussion in the comments, I admit that I overreacted in my emotions. And certainly, I exaggerated a bit and hammed it up here (which, for the newbies, is my writing style here)---it was a funny story b/c I did internally act like an idiot in my reaction and I did do at least two rather careless things. As I was driving to the store, after the original "moment" happened, I prayed about it and knew that no matter what I had said to him or did around him, he is a human being of value and worth to God--and not beyond God's ability to reach and to change him. Yes, I had operated out of my impression of who this guy is, having been around him several times before, but really not knowing him. He had acted like a jerk in the past, numerous times, and I assumed he'd be a jerk no matter what I did. I didn't give him the benefit of the doubt. He was nice to me, and the niceness may have just come from the goodness of his heart. I don't know.

I have been reminded (for the humpteenth time, over the course of my life) that I have to take responsibility for my part in situations, especially when it comes to emotions. And that I am just as tempted to say ugly things as any other human being is. Question for me is: Will I say what immediately comes into my head; or will I stop and pray and then say something kind or something to diffuse the tension or just keep quiet?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Asking Elena the 10 Questions

Pink Kitty had her turn. Now it's mine.

1. What is your favorite word?
Similar to Pink Kitty's: Faboo!

2. What is your least favorite word?

3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
I respond creatively to poetry, beautiful vistas, and terrific music. Spiritually---to God's truth, to hymn lyrics, to what God does in my life. Emotionally---good bear hugs, happy or sad tears, sappy commercials and movies (I'm such a girl!), a good love story, words of affirmation.

4. What turns you off?
Arrogance; refusal to open up; selfishness; surfaceyness (yes, I just made up that word)

5. What is your favorite curse word?
Real ones or fake ones? I'll share the fake ones: Lordamercy! Oh, my word! Crudmuffins! Bad words, bad words!!!

6. What sound or noise do you love?
Brook or river water flowing, rain on rooftops, a baby's laughter, 100-piece orchestra playing gorgeous symphonic music

7. What sound or noise do you hate?
Incessant, sharp screaming or squealing from a child in the store; fingernails on a chalkboard

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Stage actress

9. What profession would you not like to do?
Trash collector

10. What would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
"I've longed for this day, My daughter. Welcome home! You have done well." And then we'd hug. Then I'd hug my family and friends. And then we'd eat. And drink. And laugh and talk and sing. And praise God... :o)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Utter silliness...

My mother sent me this forwarded e-mail. Maybe it's the bad influence of the CD I'm listening to (Nickelback)...maybe it's the cute shoes. Anyway...I giggled. Enjoy!

Now that Uday & Qusay have been eliminated, a lot of the lesser-known Hussein family members are coming to the attention of American authorities.

Among the brothers:

Sooflay ..............the restaurateur
Guday.................the half-Australian brother
Huray.................the sports fanatic
Sashay................the gay brother
Kuntay & Kintay.......the twins from the African mother
Sayhay................the baseball player
Ojay..................the stalker/murderer
Gulay.................the singer/entertainer
Ebay..................the Internet czar
Biliray...............the country music star
Ecksray...............the radiologist
Puray.................the blender factory owner
Regay.................the half-Jamaican brother
Tupay.................the one with bad hair

Among the sisters:

Lattay.................the coffee shop owner
Phayray................the zoo worker in the gorilla house
Sapheway...............the grocery store owner
Sashay.................the country line dancer
Cashay.................the owner of a check cashing store

And finally:
There is Oyvay.........but the family doesn't like to talk about him much

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Confidence is key

As discussed in today's "Adult Swim" segment of 107.5 FM The River's morning show, what transforms a man or woman with more ordinary physical features is confidence.

Speaking about initial attraction and our "animal side," the guest expert said that men look for women who look healthy: clear skin; clear, bright eyes; proportioned figure---a sign that she takes care of herself and isn't lazy. He said that women notice first in a man: broad shoulders, strong chest, flat stomach, and round tooshie. (Have you ever seen a man with a nice body walk into a room hunched over and cowering? I can't think of one!) He looks strong and healthy and shows that he can take care of himself. Taking care of oneself usually is a good indicator that a person can take care of others. (But beware the person who is overly interested in his or her own grooming and work and leisure activities and doesn't care about others!)

Yeah, if you're blessed with a faboo bod or if you've worked on your health so that you have a faboo version of whatever you've been given, and you still don't exude confidence, you won't be as attractive.

We must face reality, my friends: You cannot let yourself go and expect people of the opposite sex to find you attractive. When you work hard to accomplish goals and when you accept your basic personality (at the same time are willing to work on your weaknesses) and try to smile and be agreeable in public, then you are much more likely to be a person others want to be around.

Laziness, sloppiness, negativity, a critical spirit, and lack of confidence turn you into a miserable person. And though misery loves company, the company do NOT love misery. Misery is going to get you exactly what you don't want---total alone time. And even the most introverted person needs SOME relationships (whether work or project colleagues, acquaintances, close or best friends, Bible study group members, relatives, spouses, children, etc.).

I know that I have much to work on in my life. I won't enumerate all the stuff here. Just wanted you to know that I'm not perfect. Far from it! But at least I've come to admit I have to face reality about things and stop demanding that the world change in order to fit me.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Today's Linkies of Interest

Braymp of De Novo asks, "Do you bling for Jesus?"
How wide is God's mercy? Discuss at Digital Cowboy's place.
Newest blogger StarGazer examines the unholy yoking of companies.

Original Cyberpunk and friends discuss ridiculousnesses.
When you've gone Oompa-Loompa, you've gone too far.

What's in a Name?
What's in a Name? Part Deux

More About Elena
She's currently...
And longing for Narnia
Don't overlook the "Plain Janes"

Monday, May 23, 2005

New Look!

So...whatcha think? Like the new digs?

I thought the font would be easier to read. Black type on white background is always the best for legibility and readability.

Note: Contest results coming soon!!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Best online cartoons around

Strong Bad e-mails:

lures and jigs


comic (or "Debut of Teen Girl Squad")

On a Mission: Equilibrium

OK, I've GOT to find me this movie. Tonight! If Nate's thumb's-up wasn't enough, how about a nice serving of hotties for ya? Angus McFayden (Braveheart's Robert the Bruce; Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood's Connor), Christian Bale (Little Women's Laurie, Swing Kids, Reign of Fire), and Dominic Purcell (Blade: Trinity's Drake) to be exact. And there may be more...

I hear the action's as good as or better than The Matrix. Hot dang!

Update: The movie was out of stock at the store, so PK and I are gonna do the Netflix thing. Will let you know how it turns out.

The Woman in Black, Avenged

I am in all black today... my neighbor across the hall at work calls me "The Woman in Black" and likes to compliment me when I'm wearing an outfit with color (especially if no black is in evidence). Well, he's out of town, and the other work neighbor said, "I don't care what Yella Jacket says; you look good in black."

Yes, yes, I do. Which is why I'm glad that wearing all black to a wedding is no longer a fashion and social faux pas... At my cousin CardinalFan's wedding, I wore all black, and reviewing the photo, I looked darned good.

You know, I'd rather people wear all black to weddings than wear jeans...unless the wedding party is all in jeans. And that would be an interesting wedding, wouldn't it? Rather casual... I suppose horsies would be involved...or a beach. I would hope. Definitely NOT appropriate for a church wedding!

Until the ghost of Emily Post comes to haunt me, I shall wear black, even all black, whenever I want!

"Omigosh, you're how old?"; or Elena and Age

Last night, for the umpteenth time, someone expressed total shock (and perhaps some awe) that I am 29 and will turn 30 in October. Since some of y'all have never seen me and since I have yet to post photos of myself, you have nothing to which to compare/contrast your idea of my online persona---you can't tell. But I wonder about the opinions of those of you (like Pink Kitty, Ashley the Blue Raider, Duke Diva, StarGazer, and others) who knew me first from the "real world"---do I look THAT young? One person last night said I looked 18. Yikes!

Another commenter, a few weeks back, speculated that it was the Holy Spirit preserving me. Never thought of God as a pickling agent...

Every time someone says this to me, I just respond, "Well, it'll come in handy when I turn 40."

Sunday, May 01, 2005

What's in a name? Part deux


[See earlier post here.] Found the meanings of the real names of some of my friends (www.babynamesworld.com). Here ya go! (Form is "first name's meaning'; "middle name's meaning.")

Pink Kitty---"God is gracious, girl!"; "light" (that fits perfectly!)

Duke Diva---"consecrated to God"; "gracious" (wow...)

StarGazer---"ever-powerful"; "created by God" (how's that for impressive!)

Salsa Guy---"famous spearman, quiet" (how interesting!)

De Novo and Digital Cowboy (same first name)---"warlike, hammer, defender" (quite appropriate!)

Pevey---"shining light, high mountain, messenger" (something to live up to!)

Nate---Nathan is "gift of God." (don't let it go to your head!)

WellDigger---"bright, famous" (yay!)

Elena---as I said, it's Spanish and it means "the bright one." I like it!

A plain gal can be a heroine too


Q. D. Leavis, in the "Introduction" to the Penguin Classics 1986 edition of Jane Eyre, explains that one of Charlotte Brontë's intentions with this novel was to show "that a heroine could be interesting without being beautiful" (11).*

Oh, yes, Jane Eyre is interesting, but how close to real life is this kind of romance?

Other heroines have not been strikingly beautiful, plain Janes (pun intended), ugly ducklings, or pretty or handsome (but not described as beautiful) girls---with incredible beauty of character and personality and passion for living: Anne from Austen's Persuasion, Fosca from Stephen Sondheim's musical adaptation of the Italian novel Passion, Molly Gibson from Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters, and Melanie Hamilton Wilkes from Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind (although Melly is not the novel's central heroine, she is of more good character than Scarlett!)---just to name a few.

Anne gets her man in the end, after having refused him the first time because she was persuaded to do so by an family friend/mentor/confidante. She is in her late 20s when Naval Captain Frederick Wentworth reappears in her life, and she fears that because the bloom of her youth is fading, his interest in her will not return. But she demonstrates her affability, her kindness, her loyalty, her integrity, and he reveals that his heart has always been and forever will be hers.

Fosca, an ugly invalid, becomes obsessed with a young officer in the Italian army stationed in her town and living in her home. (Her cousin is in the same unit.) Giorgio shares books with Fosca and talks with her about truth and beauty and life. The intellectual stimulation is a treasure to her, and she finds herself bonding quickly with him. Giorgio is in love with Clara, a beauty married to another man. He and Clara exchange letters, which infuriates Fosca, who has become obsessed with Giorgio. Their discussions intensify: he tries to explain real love to her and she refuses to relent. She keeps loving him and claims that it is the reason she has for living now. Eventually, Giorgio gives up Clara, refusing a love that is "convenient" and scheduled in favor of Fosca's brave love that is "implacable as stone...a love that like a knife has cut into a life [he] wanted left alone."

Orphaned Molly Gibson is pretty and good. She takes care of her father, becomes an almost-adopted daughter of the local squire and his wife, learns about insects from the squire's son Roger, and defends the honor of her new stepsister Cynthia. She is passionate and intelligent and not afraid to speak up for those she loves or for herself, but she also has grace and restraint. Roger's infatuation with Cynthia fades and he discovers Molly's true value (it is she who shares his love of learning---and appreciates the wasp's nest he brings to her as a present) and asks her to marry him.

Melanie Wilkes refuses to believe ill of anyone. She defends Scarlett and does not listen to the idle tongues of her sister-in-law India and the other women of Atlanta. She keeps seeing the good in each person. She tries to get through to Rhett, to see that Scarlett really loves him. Melly delights in pleasing her husband---gives him her brightest smiles, her trust, her hopes. This woman is so good, so resilient! She's not perfect---she is willing to cover up her husband's involvement in what was the predecessor of the KKK and willing to drag a Civil War scaber and attempt to kill an intruder with it.

These women prove that their inner qualities shining through transform any outer plainness or ugliness into something much more. What I want to know is where are the stories of real women, real plain Janes who are held to be beautiful, not for their looks (although they may actually be attractive on the outside) but for their virtues?

Obviously, this is a topic to which a blog entry does not do justice. The issue begs an essay or a research paper. (And watch someone else steal the idea...)

Well, this entry just holds the place for the idea... So much of "literary stuff" has been churning in my head of late, I needed a place to dump it all.

* Q. D. Leavis, "Introduction," Jane Eyre, New York and England: Viking Penguin/Penguin Books, 1986, 11.



* The Sound on the Page: Style and Voice in Writing by Ben Yagoda
* Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Penguin Classics Edition, reprinted 1986

Listening to:
* Breathing Freely by Ruth McGinnis (instrumental---violin, drums, flute, and more)
* whatever's singable on the radio

* coffee, every morning during the week
* Plantation Mint hot tea, by Bigelow

Eating and enjoying:
* Dove Dark chocolate (gotta have a little chocolatey goodness every day!)
* chicken nuggets---satisfies the protein snacky craving
* Aunt V's strawberry 'n' almonds 'n' bleu cheese topped lettuce salad w/ poppy seed dressing (good stuff!)
* leftover and warmed-up yeast roll from Logan's (all that soft, fermented [yeast] goodness!)

Amazed by/Delighting in:
* ultrasound pics of babies (no, not mine!)
* how darling kittens are when they're really young
* how yummy "rare" steak can taste
* how essential water is to the human body
* technology (I LOVE my new insulin pump!!! Thank you, MiniMed!)
* my understanding a literary criticism article on a better[?] level (did my brain flip a switch?)
* the power of the French blue shirt on a guy (try it!)

Dumbfounded by:
* the persistent misuse of its and it's
* refusals to obey school zone speed limits
* butt bows
* Padmé's dialogue in Revenge of the Sith (let's take away Lucas's laptop, shall we?)
* the MSM's lack of understanding how abstinence pledges are supposed to work (anyone see the segment on Silver Ring Thing on "60 Minutes"? they just don't get it!)

Daydreaming about:
* a really good idea for a poem
* getting my apartment fully straightened up and decorated
* grad school (namely, a PhD in English or an MFA in Creative Writing---first come the two GRE tests, though!)

How'sit with you?

What's in a name?


Do you know what your first name means? Middle name?

My real first name's meaning is "womanly." Real middle name's meaning is "bright." Elena is Spanish for my middle name. (I have dark hair, but no, I'm not Hispanic. Sorry to disappoint.)

Did you know that the Book of Revelation states that Christ-followers will receive new names, ones which no one knows now, written on white stones? I think they'll have something to do with our identities in Christ, but that's just my pet theory.

If I could select mine, it would be Chosen.

Do you know what your real name means? If so, you can share its meaning with us. (No revealing of the real name is necessary.) If your online pseudonym is an actual name and you'd like me to research its meaning for you, I'd be glad to do so.

Maybe you don't like the name your parents gave you. If you could change it, what would it be? (First or middle or both....whatever!)

For the Christians, if you could give yourself a new name that reflects your identity in Christ, what would it be?

Friendly reminder: Keep it safe for work!

Friday, April 29, 2005

Runny and stuffy in Rainyville

Yarg!!! You'd think I was a "heavy breather," but no, folks, it's just a stuffy+runny nose. Yes, the "I hab a toad in by dose" voice and all that. Poor Elena...

This is what you will get if you ever move to the Allergy Bowl (ie. middle TN). Geographically, we're in a bowl, and we have lots of pretty flowering trees....which means lots of pollen. And of course, the weather changes every 10 minutes, so the barometric pressure likes to wreak havoc on one's sinuses. It's not pretty. Come fall or spring, we're all sniffin,' hackin,' coughin,' and sneezin.' You would be too. Even if you've never had allergy problems before---move here, you get them. It's free with move-in.

Maybe that's why people forget to use their lights when driving on a rainy day, like today. Maybe the sinus pressure affects their brain synapses. I dunno...

Wish I could say, "Go, go, gadget arm"; reach out of my car and into the other person's; and smack the idiot upside the head...you know, the one who drives without his or her lights....and it's frickin' raining!!! *shakes head* Hmm...or attach LED-screen displays that run advisories across both sides of my car: "Ya moron, turn on your lights!" or "Ya igmo, merge right." *sigh*

Friday, April 22, 2005

Scream for Ice Cream! (Contest)

If you could invent an ice cream flavor, what would be the main ingredients (such as chocolate, pineapple chunks, walnuts, etc.; not MSG and guar gum) and what would you name the flavor?

Prize: Franny, the paper-clip-bedecked fake ficus tree (who lives in my office)

Here's mine...
Flavor: Coffee-flavored ice cream with cinnamon-and-black-pepper-laced brownie bites and a ribbon of fudge
Name: Mi Mocha Loca

Thanks, in advance, for playin'!

Note: Comments that are not safe for work (or are accidental repeat posts) will be deleted.

Beautiful, beautiful words: Musings on vocabulary

I had another "I really ought to be a grad student in English" moment yesterday. Ashpenaz (aka Ashley the Blue Raider) will be glad to hear it: she keeps telling me to go to grad school. Anyway...

I was trying to describe the light of April here in middle TN. I wanted to use the word fulgent, thinking it meant "fruitful or fertile." But after reading the definition over at merriamwebster.com, I discovered that fulgent describes light, not fertility. Which was interesting...the connection, that is. Wonder why the word sounds so "full," so "pregnant"? Is fulgency (is that a word) a different kind of light from luminosity or lustrousness or brilliance? (The online dictionary is wonderful at explaining the connotations of various synonyms.) And where and in what context had I read the word fulgent before?

I've discovered that I understand vocabulary instinctively by context: how the word is used in a sentence and how it is usually used by other writers. I see words as the linguistic counterparts to paint colors. Miss Blue Raider can attest to this---I love the metaphor--->that having many words which one knows how to use is like having a palette of many paint colors and knowing how to use them. (Mom uses the same metaphor for fabric. Of course, she's better at spatial things and at geometry than I.)

My office has a dearth of metal surfaces. I figure if one must house all this stuff in filing cabinets and on shelves, why not put the surfaces to good use? Bless the person who invented magnetic word kits. I think I have four sets of them here. I love using the little magnets. But you have plenty of paper and pens, don't you, Elena? you point out. Why not just use those? Or heck, the computer? Of course, I use those things. But there's something about holding that little magnet in one's hand...then moving it to another spot...making all sorts of combinations...the serendipity of new or revisited phrasings. The flexibility of language comes alive, in a sense. You see that words are components...that they can be and do many different things.

I actually tried to organize my magnets by part of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, linking verbs, interjections, adjectives, and so on. But some words can be more than one part of speech! Ack! And the system breaks down... So we have partial organization and partial "muddle" (mess, in Britspeak).

So...back to the "grad school" moment---I wanted to find the Emily Dickinson poem in which she describes the light of winter. And I did. I was so excited. More excited than one probably ought to be about poetry. But there I am...finding again this poem I had read in high school (when I was described as Emily Dickinson reincarnated, a story for another post). Yes! Someone else understands that light has different qualities and that it changes with the seasons.

My friends were baffled last autumn when on a hike in a local park I remarked about the light being different in the fall, winter, spring, and summer. Baffled. I tried to explain. But how do you describe the ineffable? Another artist might have understood. (Perhaps Ashpenaz will.)

This difference of light perhaps involves the distance of the sun from Earth and the amount of moisture in the air. Do you not see the difference between the bright, almost sharp, dry light of winter and the soft-edged, almost dense, moist air of spring before the rain falls? Emily did. She knew the harshness of winter's stark sunshine. I see that sunshine and it pains me. It's like needles.

But the light these days...the beautiful light of spring...so green here. And periwinkle, lavendar, and warmish pink. It's the flowers and grass and trees of course---the color palette. But the light cannot be divorced from what it shines upon---at least, for me, because of how I see things.

I see things in snapshots. Explains why I write poetry, rather than fiction. (I don't think in storylines, which is odd---because in my mind, I can see how to get to a particular location linearly, not spatially. My thinking doesn't manifest itself in novel or short story form, though. 'Tis a pity.) And of course, photography is highly dependent on light.

So...this thing about light and about the words to describe light and its qualities. Wow...I sensed that certain words had certain connotations but could not articulate those nuances. And that's where Webster's came in yesterday. Fabulous, fabulous resource! If you click on the right word, its main entry shows its synonyms and then explains the connotations of those words. Some of them were ones I already knew, really, but reading the explanations was confirmation. And I like confirmation. Don't you? ;o)

My "discovery" (at merriamwebster.com):
Brilliant has to do with sparkling light. Radiant has to do with rays of light (eg. me---according to one co-worker; what an interesting compliment!). Luminous suggests "steady, suffused, glowing light by reflection or in surrounding darkness" (eg. candlelight). Lustrous describes "an even, rich light from a surface that reflects brightly without sparkling or glittering" (eg. the reflection off of my coffee table when it's sporting a new coat of furniture polish).

Ooh, more "light" words: dazzling, startling, stark, focused, beam, diffused, scattered, dimmed, patterned...

See?!? So many possibilities!

Why do people limit themselves to the usual words? Why not expand one's vocabulary? Why use a word that does not fit exactly, when a more precise one exists?

I am passionate about this---this artistic selection of words! You see, "for your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that [s]he has come upon the right word" (Catherine Drinker Brown).

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Contest Results: Peas 'n' Carrots

I'm not quite as quick as Pink Kitty in posting contest results. Sorry for the delay, folks!

Drumroll, please! *dudududududududududrrrrrrrrrrrr*

Winner of the paper clip bedecked, potted fake ficus tree: Res Ispa for "John Kerry and Defeat" (True dat!)

Runner-up: digitalcowboy for "Me and you?" ('cause that was just cute)

3rd Place: JACIII for the poetic combinations

Congrats! Thanks to all for playing.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Man Should Have to Kill the Bug, Redux

Over at Vox's, debate, rather discussion, rages about whether or not a man's work is harder than a woman's and whether he should or should not help her with household chores. I've left several lengthy comments in Haloscan over there, so I thought I'd spare Vox and the Volk my rantings and thrust them upon my adoring public.

Points in no particular order (you know I love a good list):

* Heavy labor is more difficult than household chores. Mining and hunting for missing socks do not require the same energy or applied power or strength, no.

* If the most difficult physical thing you do in your jobs, gentlemen, is walk yourself to the men's room, while your wife is at home wrangling children, grocery carts, and laundry baskets up flights of stairs...keep your yap shut. (Yeah, DC, I'm not the only one who can dish it out.......honey chil'! Heehee!)

* Don't play one-upsman with your spouse at the end of the day, and I'm speakin' ta both husbands and wives, when he or she is sharing about his or her hard day. This is a request for understanding and compassion, not for a "Well, you think that's horrible, just let me TELL you!" rebuttal. You're teammates, remember?

* Is it really so awful to help out with the things she cannot reach or the things she's not strong enough to do? Is it so bad to help with diaper changes, 3 am. feedings, the kids' baths? Do you not want to serve your wife and your family? Do you not want to spend time with your kids?

* Is it really so awful to get up early and fix him breakfast before he leaves? It it so awful to iron his shirts? (Well, if you stink at it and can afford the dry cleaner bill, send the shirts and suits to be laundered---better for his professional image.) Don't you want to serve your husband?

* Most men want to come home to quiet, orderly houses with food ready to eat. I've heard and read this one. I get it. Why don't some wives get it?

* Sometimes, dear husbands, your wives just want a show of manliness from you...some risk-taking, adventurous action; some heroic feat...may just be killing that bug that just made her squeal. May be showing her that you can carry all the bags of garbage out at once. Or hauling more bags of groceries in than she can. (I'd LOVE for my husband to do that. I have to make 10 million trips from the car. And those plastic bags cut into the soft skin of my hands!) I dunno. I trust Nate and the other Natenick men could give a better list.

* Appreciate her, appreciate her, appreciate her. With compassion, compassion, compassion. Learn her love language. Thank her. Praise her. Thank her in front of people. Praise her in front of people. And when she's not present too. Know when and when not to tease her about being a goofball.

* Respect him, respect him, respect him. Praise him. Thank him. Brag on him. Encourage him. Follow his lead. Bite your tongue in the moments you think he's being idiotic. Let him see you drool over him...I mean about him. Near him? Oh, confound it! You get the idea.

See all I know and have learned? And I'm not even married yet.

What pearls of wisdom have you to share? (Keep it SFW, please.)

Ciao, dahlinks!

Door Quotes

For an explanation of the term door quote and for the first posting of door quotes go here.

Here are some more:

Overheard at Elena's...

"You can have my crusty part."

"Yeah, I'm not so much the Pooh."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Elena's World

Yes, folks, I am alive. I'm still writing. I'm still as cute, funny, and well heeled as ever. Thanks for missin' me!

I've been a leetle behind at work and now have caught up (mostly), even turning in an assignment over a week early. Woohoo!

Finally saw Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Movie review forthcoming. Also saw The Incredibles. Fantastic flick. Again, complete review forthcoming.

Roller coaster blood sugar levels lately. Ick. That's what being on shots will do for you. That and not dosing at the proper times.

Spring is finally here in Music City. Beautiful green everywhere... The pear trees are dressed in their white April finery. The redbud trees are pinked up. Daffodils are smiling their sunny selves at blue skies. Violets peak out from under the grass blades. Birds are chirping. Insects are tuning up, preparing for summer. (I predict it's gonna be a scorcher this year. Thank goodness, no cicadas are due to arrive. Those things are nasty.)

You haven't had a good traffic rant from me in a while. Well, my local friends have had to endure my rants. Here's a guide to driving in Music City:
* Turn signals are good things. Use them when preparing to turn or change lanes. Turn signals: they look good on you.
* Merge early. I think that TDOT actually is running a campaign with this idea. Folks, you have nothing to prove by riding out the white line on the right till the lane peters out. If you are familiar with the particular section of the interstate, GET OVER AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! And do use your signal. Which brings us to...
* Use your signal! (I can't repeat this one enough.) If you will signal, I'll let you in front of me, or I'll speed up so's you can get behind me.
* If I'm signaling, let me in! It's one thing if it's a plain stretch o' road with nary an exit in sight, but when I'm trying to get to the exit I need, LET ME IN, ya moron!
* Note: It does not insult your manhood or womanhood to have people be in front of you on the road. It proves nothing for you to be ahead of the pack. Now, I do understand if you are hurrying to get a good parking spot. Goodness knows, parking downtown is at a premium. Just don't run over or clip other drivers' cars in your morning rush, please.
* If it's raining, please don't abandon your senses and drive way over the speed limit or way under. Drive cautiously, yes. Drive smartly, yes. Not stupidly.
* If you know how to drive in snow, please volunteer your transportation services to those of us who don't know how or who tremble in fear at the mention of the dreaded four-letter winter precipitation word. Better yet, teach someone how to drive on snow and ice.
* If it is overcast, raining, snowing, or foggy, please use your headlights appropriately.
* If your headlamp(s) go out, go get new ones. Conveniently available in the motor supplies section at your local Wal-Mart. And don't tell me you don't have a Wal-Mart. They're everywhere. Everyone has one. So anyway, don't blind people by driving with your brights on.
* Don't tailgate. It's rude. And can be dangerous.
* NO rubbernecking. If the accident victims or pulled-over vehicle(s) are not actually IN your lane, don't slow down. Who cares that the car was on fire? Who cares that you can see the blood all over the stretcher? Say a prayer as you pass by, and go the speed limit! Provided some igmo in front of you is not slowed down....if he or she is, then yeah, you gotta slow down. But don't cause other people to be late merely to satisfy your curiosity.
* No weaving and stopping for no reason.

Heh... *thuds to a stop* That's all I can think of for right now. More posts later as inspiration strikes!

The Polka-dotted Scarf Awards

Somehow that doesn't ring quite like "The Voxies." Oh well... If you have an idea for a better name for my awards, feel free to share.

During the past few weeks (and from before, too), these folks have earned recognition for their kindness, their admirable qualities, or their ability to make me laugh. A porcelain Lladró-like statuette of a young woman waving a scarf goes to you all for these reasons:

Sweetest Gesture: StarGazer. When I was sick Sunday. Thanks, my friend.

Looking Out for My Best Interest: Pink Kitty

Best Coming Out of Shell Moment: SalsaGuy. Shut up long enough, and he'll bare his soul.

Nicest Compliments: digitalcowboy and Res Ispa tie for this one.

Friendliest Bloggin' Females: another tie: Miss O'Hara, Arielle, and bufelda

Best 2-by-4 Postings: yet another tie: Vox Day, Nate, and digitalcowboy

Funniest Rednecks: this would be shared by the brothers three: JACIII, Welldigger, and Nate (reflecting the birth order)

Funniest Blogger: Jeff of Protein Wisdom

Cuttin' to the Heart of the Issue: Wes, Res Ispa, Difster

Challenging Me Spiritually and Intellectually: braymp, SalsaGuy, StarGazer, and Pink Kitty

Best Kick in the Tookas: Ashpenaz

Best Listening to Me Whine: JRMama

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Incredible disentegrating pantyhose

from We Hate Curvy Girls International:
"because fashion should hurt...or at least depress you."

I swear.....by the time I leave this office, my hose are going to be dangling from my legs in shreds. I have at least two holes and a run in them. Why oh why must my piggy bank and I be tortured by hose that lasts less than eight hours? Why??? You know, you try to do the professional business attire thing and it just smacks you upside the head. (It's a combo of black with pink pin stripes skirt suit, black shoes with pink stitching, and hot pink sweater today. Yep, the cute librarian look. Glasses too. Heehee!)

It's "Elena's Fashion Campaign to Become Editor--->Dress the Part."

I'll let you know how that turns out.

Meanwhile I'm off to find some sugar. I'm startin' to twitch. I hate being on shots.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Swiss Cake Roll of a Movie: _50 First Dates_

Just as the snack cake analogy suggests, this movie has less nutritional value than say, The Passion of the Christ, but it tastes oh so good!

Adam Sandler plays Henry Roth, a Hawaiian veterinarian working at an aquarium who is notorious for sleeping around with female tourists and then ditching them with a cleverly-devised excuse. Rob Schneider dons self-tanner, a ponytail, and some kinda odd accent and plays Adam's sidekick, Ula, aka Idiot #1 in the movie. Ula lives vicariously through Adam's exploits, having a "boring" life himself with five kids and an oversized wife.

Drew Barrymore is the endearing Lucy, who's suffering from short-term memory damage from an auto accident, which means that she wakes up every morning thinking it is the October day when her vehicle hit the tree.

Her dad and brother (played by Sean Astin with an annoying lisp and presence of mesh tank tops over bulging muscles; this is Idiot #2) try to keep things as normal and even keeled as possible.

Henry meets Lucy in the cafe at which she eats breakfast every day. The chemistry is nice, comfortable, fun...with a bit of sparkle. Henry does eventually find out Lucy's "problem," and he puts into action a crazy, creative plan to win her heart anew every day.

The addition of Henry in Lucy's life throws a monkey wrench into their daily routines. Is the monkey wrench a good thing?

I'd spoil the movie for you if I gave away the rest. Listing the wonderful things to "learn" will suffice:
* Love worth having is love worth working for.
* Obstacles are not impossible to overcome, with hard work.
* Faithfulness and loyalty are sexy too.
* A life lived in fear is a life half lived. (polka-dotted scarf wave to Strictly Ballroom)
* Love can come in a quirky package and still be wonderful.
* Humor goes a long way.
* Sometimes what we think is the right and best thing to do turns out not to be the best thing to do. (Hmm...although that verges on situation ethics. Ergh...)

It's a cute movie. And makes the girls go, "Oh, a guy who would do all that! Wow..." Yeah, it's a chick flick. But hey, watch it with your woman, guys, and I'm sure she'll reward ya good!

three and a half polka dots


Survey and Contest: Like Peas 'n' Carrots

What two things commonly linked together is your favorite pairing?

What two things should be paired together?

Contest Criteria: Creativity and what makes me laugh
Contest Prize: a paper clip bedecked fake ficus tree for your decorating pleasure

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

My Dad's a Hero Again

Dad is facing several dilemmas involving a friend, and when it was suggested that he make a promise to this friend but then break it or change his plans at the last minute, Dad said, "No, my word means something."

It's amazing, wonderful, cool...wow...to discover what a man of integrity my father is. Oh, that I had gotten to know him better when I was young. But my heart was hurting and so distrustful then. Now I realize that he was trying to teach me so much but I wanted so badly what I thought he wasn't giving, that I refused to submit to him and be teachable.

May you or the man or men you know be ever becoming more and more men of honor!

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Mint Julep of a Movie: _The Long Hot Summer_

Recently I watched the late 1950s production of _The Long Hot Summer_. Wow... great flick! It stars Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Orson Welles, and Lee Remick. Paul plays a drifter who finds employment doing odd jobs for a small Southern town's main businessman (ie. he owns nigh everything in sight). Joanne's the pretty but plainly-dressed younger sister. Lee's married to Joanne's brother. The brother desires to please his father, played by Orson, but for most of the movie, fails miserably.

The on-screen chemistry between Paul and Joanne is fabulous, heightened by their off-screen romance, which was heating up like the Southern summer weather in which the cast was filming. Joanne is the proverbial schoolmarm and old maid at 23 or 24. And Paul sets out to stir up the passion hidden inside her. She wants none of it. Or does she?

Pater familias promises Paul all sorts of things if he'll take the obstinate daughter as his wife. Pater wants a passel of grandkiddies to ensure his immortality. Paul complies...for a time.

Joanne plays the older daughter with grace. She seems cold but she's not really. She's passionate about keeping her purity. She explains to Paul that she has something of worth that he cannot understand and that she will not give away willy-nilly. She deserves to be cherished and respected, and she'll wait for the man worthy of her.

Good woman!

Watch the movie to see if Paul turns out to be the barn burner and bum everyone thinks he is.

Five polka dots!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Great Posts of the Week

Dating and Marriage Articles and Posts
Singletons, you don't have to marry someone who isn't God's best for you. Even if you're already engaged. I broke an engagement. If you need to, you ought to! Read this.

Pink Kitty's got a great blog entry about the messages that TV is sending about our men. Check out the comments as well.

Digital Cowboy's ridin' tall in the saddle over at his place and openin' eyes to the truth. Check it out.

Dr. Bray {wow, that sounds odd to say...} is contemplating Ash Wednesday and Lent.

Happy reading and commenting!

Any recommendations of other blogs or sites? Remember, they must be SFW. Thanks!

Hero Award of the Week

goes to...........my dad!

Last night I made a surprise visit to my parents' home. SewMama (Mom) and I chatted for a bit. And LuvsTrains (Dad) was in the basement, as usual. I tromped downstairs to say hello to Dad, and he and I hugged (sometimes gals just need those good daddy hugs) and chatted for a bit too.

Reason #1:
He gave me a teddy bear. Spontaneous gift-giving.

Reason #2:
He was patient with me last night. This is the man who snapped at me a lot when I was a little girl. I don't know exactly what has caused him to be gentler with me in the past few years, but I know God's behind it. :o)

Reason #3:
He came to my rescue. My car's temp gauge was climbing, even though I was running the heat on such a cold night. Dad met me at the store where I had parked the car and came inside to look for me. (Again, no barking at me. Amazing!) We examined the car and discovered that it needed coolant. Dad helped me decipher the info. in the owner's manual and helped me pick out a good choice for coolant. Then he put coolant in the tank for me. Yay! (Car seems to be doing fine now.)

I had been wanting to see him for the past couple of weeks. Mom and I always had the better relationship and it's usually her I'm going to see and talk with mostly when I go "home." (Dad's not the talker that I am.) But this time my visit was really more about seeing him. And though he may not think of it this way, he showed me much grace. And he took an interest in me, asking me about things...even reminding me about things I need to take care of...but with such gentleness. It was like Valentine's Day came early!

I think God's using my dad to show me Himself......which is something I knew He could do but felt would never happen.

God can use anything to encourage our faith in Him. Anything. And anyone.

Hear Him whisper: "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Hear Him reassure you: "Nothing is impossible with God."

Who are your heroes this week? How is God encouraging your faith in Him?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Redefining "Hottie"

A comment from Nate has made me realize that although I say I value real men, I often take notice first of the "pretty" ones. You know, the ones with chiseled, symmetrical features and riveting eyes... The ones who can do justice to good tailoring and sweaters of almost all kinds. I mean, hey, this is the girl who had a crush on a cute soccer player for almost all of high school. (But in my defense, he did seem to have a heart of gold. Well, as much a heart of gold a boy who isn't a Christian can have. And I don't think he was one at the time.)

Real men...really valuable real men, that is...cannot always be detected by the appearance-meter. Take the example of Saul and David. (Yep, the guys from the Bible.) In the HCSB, King Saul is described as "impressive." In fact, "there was no one more impressive among the Israelites than he. He stood a head taller than anyone else" (1 Sam. 9:2). But what sort of person was he? Well, his speech and his behavior before being chosen the first king of the Israelites should clue you in. When Samuel told Saul that he is the man that all of Israel wants for their king, Saul replied, "Am I not ... from the smallest of Israel's tribes and isn't my clan the least important of all the clans of the Benjaminite tibe? So why have you said something like this to me?" (1 Sam. 9:21). And then when Saul was to be presented to the Israelites, they could not find him: he had hidden himself (1 Sam. 10:22). Throughout the rest of Saul's life and his kingship, he rebels against God, fearing for his life and his pride rather than trusting the One who put him on the throne in the first place.

In scrambling to keep what was never yours to lose, you will certainly lose it. (Such paradoxes are rampant in God's kingdom!)

A true, real man knows who he is and is neither ashamed nor arrogant. He is humble. He knows that any greatness he has or achieves comes from and is because of God. And it's God's greatness that shows through him, actually. He knows he is a vessel, but not just any vessel---a prized one, though made of clay. This humble, trusting confidence allows him to lead others without bullying, to draw out others' strengths without fearing for his own diminishing, and to stand for truth and for the one true God. He knows that human beings cannot jeopardize his soul, so he does not prize his life, though he is a good steward of all that God has entrusted to him.

I believe this kind of man can be found in the city, in the suburbs, and in the countryside...defend which zone you like. I believe this kind of man can be found at any age. Jane Eyre (of the same-titled book) tells Mr. Rochester that his advantage of years more than hers is only such if he has made good use of that time. (She is 18; he, 36.) And he admits he has not. It is the use of the resources, gifts, abilities, situations, opportunities, and so forth that a man has made that forges his character.

And yes, character can show on the face and in the body. The "ugliest" person, male or female, is transformed by the radiance that shows on the face...from being with God and being transformed internally by Him. But one must look with the eyes of God to see this transformation. Darkness does not understand light. In fact, darkness despises the light.

Saul chose darkness. He chose to half-obey God or to rebel against Him, as if he Saul knew better how to do things. David sought God and desired to please Him. He wanted to live in the light. He had done so since childhood, and this heart for Him was what God saw in David that would make the boy a great king.

When Samuel the prophet was sent to anoint Saul's replacement, Samuel first noticed one of David's brothers, Eliab, who must have been good looking and tall and strong. God instructed Samuel: "Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the LORD sees, for man sees what is visible, but the LORD sees the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7.) [Note: In Hebrew thinking, the "heart" is the seat of the will, the emotions, the mental processes...not just the feelings, as we think of it today (which is inaccurate anyway, since our thoughts and emotions proceed from the brain).] God knew that His choice was still in the fields with his flock...being responsible, which is one of the prerequisites for leading people.

{Sidebar: OK, I just gotta say I'm falling in love with our new translation, the Holman Christian Standard Bible®. That's what I'm using for this post.}

Samuel has Jesse send for his youngest son, and when David arrives, God tells Samuel to anoint him. The HCSB words the description of David thusly: "He had beautiful eyes and a healthy, handsome appearance" (1 Sam. 16:12).

I'd say that's a man any woman would be proud to have as her husband. He wrote poetry and was intelligent. He was a strong, capable warrior. His heart bent toward God. OK, he did go rather wild with the women...how many wives did he have? Yeah, he wasn't perfect. But God gives people second chances. And more...

So where are the warrior poets? What do they look like? What are their personalities like?
Well, some are talkers; others are not. Some seem to light up a room the minute they walk in; others are more reserved. Some love the open spaces of the countryside; others dig the city life. But you know them by the way they handle themselves and others...in their unique ways.

One guy I know could deliver the intellectual smackdown on top of anyone's head, but he doesn't. He restrains himself. He volunteers. He never meets a stranger. He gives great hugs. I'd say he's a P31 man if I ever did meet one, and the girl that catches him is one blessed female.

Another guy I know is a stay-at-home dad with a great sense of humor and ability for tellin' a fine yarn or...50. He fiercely defends the honor of his wife, delights in his son's antics, and does all kinds of interesting things to fortify his home.

Yet another was honest with me about his situation...warning me to guard my heart with him.

A few other guy friends encourage me about my future aspirations and compliment me on my gifts and talents. They take the time to do it.

One guy I know is passionate about what is best for children in teaching them the Bible and the things of God.

A man from my church who also works here where I do is phenomenal at responding to customer complaints. He does so with grace, gentleness, and restraint...but also firmly communicating the truth.

So many unsung heroes are out there, going about their lives without the applause of fans, without appreciation from friends or family. They aren't hanging their heads in self-pity and defeat, thinking they'll never be more than the worms they are now. No, they are doing what they can with what they have and trusting God will make each one of them a warrior in His army for truth and beauty.

Give me a man who embodies the qualities of Jesus, David, Daniel, Moses, Abraham...in the particular way God has designed the mixture to be in him. That man is the true hottie.