Listening, Learning, Living Everyday!

Tin Foil Hat

Did you ever know anyone that took up the “tin foil hat“?  You know, that is the thing you construct for yourself out of abject fear–just like in the old black & white science fiction movies to protect yourself against the “rays”.  I heard about two things today to make me think of it.

1.  A state representative from OK confirmed bizarre comments about homosexuality being more dangerous than terrorism.  This is something she first said late in April and again during an interview last week. (I think the timing is right).  And it’s not the first time that she has been unkind and hurtful in public.  She also made racist remarks that caused a tearful apology days later.  Maybe the representative is wearing a tin foil hat.

2.  The “sacred” posts of the International Monetary Fund (traditionally headed by a  European) and the World Bank (traditionally headed by an American) will probably go to emerging and growing economy countries within 5 years.  I heard this on NPR while driving to the office.  The economists that study these things believe that the future of the global economy is a bit bumpy but will eventually lead us to more economic equality.

Tin foil hat 2

Image via Wikipedia

To me, with my mind on my problems, this sounded like excellent news for the emerging markets (China, India, Africa, Mexico etc.)  and time for the USA and Europe to start making tin foil hats.

I feel a bit “challenged” by the current environment and it is clear that

I am not alone.  How’s by you?

The long and the short of it is that trust and confidence is NOT in the tin foil hat, the IMF, WB, developed market economies, emerging market economies, a “good” job, saving money, spending money or anything else.  There is “no ground under our feet” which is a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that Martin Marty used in his blog today.  Great blog! That is to say that the things in this realm are not the things we can count on.

When we revile and objectify the other most of the time that comes from the most primal of fears.  The kind of fear that encourages us to put on tin foil hats.  It is this same blind fear that is so very dangerous to civilization.  Instead of seeing ourselves as part of something, we see ourselves threatened by something and as history tells us that can lead to horrible consequences.

What are we to do?  Trust and dependence on the things that change with time and circumstance is misleading.  Trust and dependence on the God who transcends time and circumstance is the way to put some “ground under our feet”.  Do not be afraid, is the message I hear from the God of Love.

Guess I’ll take off the tin foil hat!


Big John Forever!

Today Big John B. will go into the ground.  I do feel sad, but I know that he really had a great 90 year life, and I know that he was a man of strong faith.  So I know that this is not the end for Big John B. this is really the beginning of his forever!

Last night at the funeral home we laughed and visited with his vigorous family.  Wife June, sons John and James and daughter Judy.  My husband grew up with the kids.  Big John’s great-granddaughter was born on his birthday a few short months ago.  A family filled with love and joy and trials and woe–just like us.  A family committed to faith and strong by holding tight to that faith and to each other.

We often take for granted such wonderful people around us.  The best legacy Big John could leave is the one he actually did leave and that is witnessed to by the faith, family and friends that surrounded him all his life and even after his life here.

This is a good day to thank God for letting me know Big John B and his hearty laugh, bear hugs and positive approach to the good and the bad that life has to offer.  And this is a good day to grab hold of that faith, those wonderful family members and loving friends in our own lives.

See you when we get to forever John!


In Praise of the Sunday Nap!

Today we again honored the tradition begun before my father’s generation and continued into my grandson’s.  The Sunday Nap!

Some would say that this tradition was instituted by God in Genesis when after working six days to create the heavens and the earth and all that is in them God decided to rest on the seventh day.  Regardless of how the tradition began, I am grateful for it and heartily endorse it.  Rest is good.

Not only is it refreshing to get an hour of shut-eye, it helps to reset the mind and prepare us for another grueling week of same old, same old. Let me say that I just took a pole and 2 of the 7 poll subjects were still taking a nap!  Not sure that this proves anything other than we are a family bound by tradition.

Sleep is important.  Just like we learned in school we should each sleep 8-9 hours each night.  Few of us do.  Sleep deprivation can cause loss of productivity, accidents,

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...

Image via Wikipedia

disrupt hormone production and the proper metabolic processing of carbohydrates.  Severe sleep deprivation can cause symptoms that resemble drunkenness, including lack of coordination and poor judgement.  Even if one does not sleep, the quiet rest in a calm space can do a lot for us.  There is so much general noise in our lives that any excuse for quiet is a refreshing change. That is as far as we will go with sleep study information–don’t want to put you to sleep!

I look forward to the quiet of the whole house on Sunday afternoon. The homeyness of the family safe and snug.  The refreshing decadence of it all–chores can wait, we have something important to do.  I cherish and protect it vigorously. I hope I have passed it on to the next generations and if my poll is any indication, I have!

Does anyone have a Swiss Army Knife?

Richard Dean Anderson on the set of "MacG...

Image via Wikipedia

Belt tool fans of the world unite!  We know who you are–the tinkerers, the inventors, the thinkers, the ones who are prepared for nearly everything!  We want you to jump into the mess we’re in and put those belt tools to work to get us out of it.  We want you to take bits of duck tape, imagination, faith and know-how and fix it!

We want MacGyver!  We need MacGyver!

Sometimes the problems seem so overwhelming that only the intrepid hero that resolves every crisis and saves the world in 60 minuets will do.  Our hero–he knows how to use what he has instead of what he wishes he has to resolve the crisis.  At least that is what the Wells Fargo Economics Group says in their August 10, 2011 Monthly Outlook about the way out of our economic mess.

Making do with what you have is not a new or trite.  It is reality.  If you stop to think about it, it is something we do all the time.  No staples in the stapler? Use a paper clip. No buttermilk in the fridge?  Take milk, add vinegar, wait for 15 minutes.  Storm take the power out?  Break out the candles and board games.  We really do it without thinking much about it–it needs to be done so we find a way to do it.  And usually that works!

One of the things it is easy to forget is that MacGyver took a moment to notice what there was to work with.  He didn’t panic, he got to work.   What do we have at hand to apply to the economic mess?  Let’s take a minute or two to survey what we have.

What we have is very important.  The freedom to dream and think in a variety of ways continues to be essential.  I read this week that foreign applications to US graduate schools is very high this year.  There is a reason for that–we have a deserved reputation for big ideas and folks that believe in their dreams.  Who doesn’t want that in their lives?

It’s time to take stock of supplies and dream a little.  Time to stop worrying about failure and keep trying until we succeed.  Time to call upon the tinkerers, the inventors and the thinkers to reveal their big ideas so we can believe in their dreams.  We not only want those wonderful visions to come true, frankly we need them to come true.

Then of course we need to take out the belt tools and get to work!

Do you watch noir in the dark?

Cover of "Double Indemnity (Universal Leg...

Cover via Amazon

Just saw Double Indemnity with Barbara Stanwyck, Fred MacMurray and Edward G Robinson.  I love old films like that.  I watch not just for the acting, Barbara is wonderfully wicked in this film, but also for the artistic play of light and dark.  The cinematographer has to know what the craft is all about to do a good black and white film.  The themes are usually pretty black and white too in film noir.  There’s good guys and there’s bad guys, but the really good films have some grey areas too.

The reluctant hero is one of those grey areas.  Sometimes, like in Double Indemnity, the hero is the guy who starts walking the straight and narrow, gets side tracked by something or in this case someone but comes ’round in the end to confess and conquer the demons.  The ones on the inside as well as the outside.

Watching this interplay in the dark is itself kind of exciting.  It helps to draw us into the divine battle.  Sometimes we root for the dark and sometimes we root for the light.  I know–most people find this pretty cheesy.  While it is a great form of escapism, our most beloved film art says a lot about us.  We are not just all good or all bad–there’s tons of grey area in there.  That is where we live most of the time.  Real life is never as simple as reel life and that gifted cinematographer is not here making us look wonderful!

Holding On

Have you ever wanted to just let go and give up?  Tempting I know—we sometimes look for the smallest of excuses.  It’s too hot to do that now.  I have a headache.  It isn’t my job.  Who cares anyway?  What difference does it make?

Usually the work, the task, the stuff is still there when I return from my little rebellious tizzy.  The pity party for one.  So usually it doesn’t really matter if I do it now or later.  But sometimes it does.  Sometimes it’s not just you involved, it’s the people who are watching you.  As most of us learned when we were children, someone is usually noticing and watching just at the time we wish they weren’t.

Last Friday when I got in the car to drive home from work, exhausted, hot, crabby and ready to give up I noticed a katydid on my hood.  His or her bright green body and white dot eyes were hard not to notice.     I wondered when he would get off the car.  I touched him very lightly to see if he would fly away.  With a bit of a hop away from my finger, he turned his back on me.  I got in and drove away.

Imagine my surprise when I merged onto the toll way and the little guy is still there.  I drove the normal pace which is 5-8 miles over the posted limit with other cars whizzing and big trucks whining past me.  And still he held on.

You guessed it—he was still there when I arrived at home half an hour later!  When I got out of the car, I lightly touched him again.  He didn’t turn his back on me—he seemed to look right at me—but he didn’t fly away.   He wasn’t ready to give up.  The steady wind of the car and the turbulence of the other vehicles were much tougher than my finger.  He didn’t give up then either.  Despite myself, I had to smile.  “Thanks!” I said and went inside the house.  Oh I was still hot, exhausted and crabby but I was no longer ready to give up.  Someone is noticing and watching you.

What is it that you want to just give up?  Who is noticing and watching you?

Don’t give up!

Playing to the Balcony

Picture one of the great Shakespearean soliloquies coming from the actor on the grand stage.  The voice—it is like dark soft velvet as it rises and falls with the poetry that still finds a remarkable audience hundreds of years after it was written.  The old language is unfamiliar yet powerful as though we know it more by instinct than intellect.  The ideas are the classic good vs evil, the corruption of power, and the ruination brought about by secrets.

ActorThe actor is working hard—he wants the good review in the morning paper and besides he loves his craft and hallows the words he is speaking.  He is playing to the balcony.  He wills for the person farthest away from him to feel what he feels and hear what he says.  He knows that is a sure route to success.

As wonderful as great theater is, it is only theater after all.  In the real world the ideas are the same but it is harder to see the nobility in the process when the action is on the floor of the US Congress or the Senate or the White House briefing room.  It is hard not to believe that we have spent the last month seeing real life.  Or has everyone been playing to the balcony?

Yesterday, I got good and mad.  Not just the average angry–but the “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” howl at the moon angry.

Grown-ups aren’t supposed to get this way.  I sat dutifully watching both the President and the Speaker of the House with steam coming out of my ears!  It looks like we’re going to do this OK Corral style—or maybe the better metaphor is MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction). 

Someone needs to lock these guys in a room and not let them all out till the problem is solved—but who could do that if both are using the Mutual Assured Destruction concept?  What if they stayed in the room and the problem never got solved?  Two huge surreal thoughts!

My reality is somewhat different—small.  I clean up the basement after one foot of flood water and wonder if my homeowners insurance will cover any of the loss.  I drive to work with a full tank that costs more than it did three weeks ago.  I continue to work, drop into bed exhausted and get up to do it all again.  I am contemplating the meaning of life.  It would be comforting to think that this daily “taking care of business” is noble.  I am not sure.  It is, however, very real.  It is real life that is lived 24/7/365.

All it does is beg the question about what is real, who is and who is not playing to the balcony and are they MAD?

Road Trip

Have you taken a road trip lately?  I drove to Cedar Rapids, IA for the day on Sunday.  My godson and his wife are about to have a baby and I was invited to a baby shower.  Started at 9 am and we got home just before midnight.

Traveling along 88 and US 30, you can’t help but notice the flowers.  White ones, yellow ones, orange ones, purple ones and blue ones on the side of the road and in the median.  It was a riot of color from natural wildflowers.  And it is mostly due to one person’s influence.

When I was a kid, an actress named Fannie Flagg parodied the president’s wife and urged everyone to plant trees and flowers and bushes.  My dad and I mimicked her and laughed having silly wonderful fun.  It was gentle loving humor that we shared along with admiration for the one person responsible for the beautification of America.  Lady Bird Johnson was the wife of President Lyndon Johnson.  She took up the cause of beautification as her own.  She encouraged the legislative process (a pioneering First Lady!) and we are the beneficiaries of her efforts today.

The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 along with the beautification of the city of Washington DC and many of the national parks and monuments across the country gives each of us the vision of flowers, trees and indigenous plantings to admire as we travel.  Together with her friend Helen Hayes (first lady of the American Theater) Lady Bird Johnson founded the first organization devoted to wildflowers which now carries her name:  The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas-Austin.  There wildflowers are studied and natural planting is promoted.

Today we refer to what Lady Bird supported as habitat conservation, biodiversity and restoration ecology.  She was committed to the idea that a beautiful environment not only enriches the human spirit, it contributes to a sustainable ecology which we all need–it was not simply a cosmetic change but a stewardship of the health of our land.

Thank you Lady Bird for making all our road trips better!

wildflower field“My heart found its home long ago in the beauty, mystery, order and disorder of the flowering earth.”

Lady Bird Johnson

Picking Up Where You Left Off

Probably the thing I like best about good friends is that when you don’t see each other for a while–sometimes years–and you meet again it is like you just had a chat yesterday. You pick up where you left off. It is wonderful when that happens!

That happened yesterday. We had one of the kids elementary school teachers over for a BBQ. Rob, his wife Kay and their two lovely girls came for a visit. We haven’t seen them for 17 years! We went to their wedding and we really haven’t been together since.

It was a wonderful evening. We talked about everything–life, kids, work, travel and on and on and on! Daughter #1 did the cooking and Son #1 manned the grill. We sat on the lawn and let time slip away. We ended with a family photo, good-bye hugs  and invitations to see them next time we are in their sate.

What is it about friendship like this that makes it so comfortable? Is it personality? Is it just being yourself? Is it spiritual? What is it? It is a mystery.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious, it is the true source of art, science, and friendship.”
Albert Einstein

A Funny Thing Happened …..

The joke usually starts this way. But today it wasn’t a joke.
When I woke up early this morning, and wandered into the bathroom I noticed I had an unusual clicking noise in my ear. It was startling and it sounded loud.  No pain and no apparent congestion. Very scary!

I could not seem to cause it or stop it. I woke up my husband with what must have seemed as a truly absurd request to investigate my ear. He could see nothing. The noise would come and go and I was determined to get to the bottom of it.  As soon as the doctor’s office opened, I called and they agreed to see me in about an hour.

Turns out that there was a flying creature caught inside my ear.  With a simple solution of warm water and hydrogen peroxide the Doctor flushed out my winged hitch hiker.  Sadly he was dead by that time.  I on the other hand was feeling very much better.  I had an image in my mind born of too much Star Trek and The Twilight Zone to be comfortable in any way with a critter, no matter how benign, in my ear!

No doubt the family will debate over dinner about how much of my brain the minute beast ate–we will all laugh at my expense–but I think I’m pretty much intact.  Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

I learned a new fact today:  Bugs have no reverse.  They can only move forward.
Once they get into a tight space, if they can’t turn around or kind of angle their way ahead, they are stuck.  We, on the other hand have all the reverse we need or want.  We have choices.  As long as our change of mind/heart does not occur after we jumped off the cliff.  It is pretty hard to “take it all back” during free-fall.

So today, a funny thing happened that I can laugh about now and I was reminded again how grateful I am that I have reverse gear.  I just hope he didn’t eat so much of my brain that I can remember to take it all back before I jump off the cliff!

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: