I haven't been to a Walmart in several years. They weird me out and make me very angry with human beings. Those long aisles of cheap toys and garden rakes spell destruction and abuse. A world gone awry, globalism at its most careless and unimaginative. Well, I went yesterday. I needed to buy some crafty things for work, and since it's not my money, I had to do it the cheapest way possible. Ugh.

Let me tell you how not to walk into Walmart. First, do not listen to Radiohead's 'Sit Down. Stand Up.' while you drive there and park. 'Walk into the jaws of hell...' is not a line you want playing in your head as you trudge slow motion through the hottest day of summer over the asphalt and into those doors. Also, bring a map if you can. Because circling around the perimeter of the store, dodging impulse displays and mothers with rolly carts, staring down the vast aisles of disposable kitchenware in search of puff balls and glitter paint... it can be disorienting if not downright damaging. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, wear earplugs. Not for the screaming children, though drowning them out is certainly an added benefit. The earplugs are for the Voices. I am not making this up. There's a floaty woman's voice that plays just above your head as you walk around telling you what the latest discounts are. I thought I was in Feed. It felt like the end of the world. I would not have been surprised if an automaton had approached me with food samples in little cups.

Suffice it to say, I will not be going back for a very long while. And when I do, I will know to take precautions.


books i got:

at the library: Impossible, by Nancy Werlin, got some amazing reviews and is now available in paperback. Something about a girl who has to complete three impossible tasks or die. Sounds like my kind of book...

at the bookstore: The Greater Trumps, by Charles Williams, because I'm pretty sure I loaned my copy and never got it back. Kind of important to own a book if you're going to be making people read it in a book club. I have the same problem with The Man Who Was Thursday, only I couldn't find it on the shelf. Yes, Chesterton starts with a 'C'. I swear it was there three days ago...

free! from the publisher!: There's more than one reason I love Aqua di Gio. AJ handed me Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver yesterday. If the writing was bad, this book might give Stephenie Meyer a run for her money. But it's not, so I'll just have to hand-sell this thing as best I can. Werewolves? Star-crossed love? Sound familiar? And the cover's pretty, too.


today i learned that elephants are the only creatures with four knees. wow.

thanks for that, emily.


The Poet Visits the Museum of Fine Arts

- Mary Oliver
(thank you Amanda. I told you all it would come eventually.)

For a long time
I was not even
in this world, yet
every summer

every rose
opened in perfect sweetness
and lived
in gracious repose,

in its own exotic fragrance,
in its huge willingness to give
something, from its small self,
to the entirety of the world.

I think of them, thousands upon thousands,
in many lands,
whenever summer came to them,

out of the patience of patience,
to leaf and bud and look up
into the blue sky
or, with thanks,

into the rain
that would feed
their thirsty roots
latched into the earth -

sandy or hard, Vermont or Arabia,
what did it matter,
the answer was simply to rise
in joyfulness, all their days.

Have I found any better teaching?
Not ever, not yet.
Last week I saw my first Botticelli
and almost fainted,

and if I could I would paint like that
but am shelved somewhere below, with a few songs
about roses: teachers, also, of the ways
toward thanks, and praise.

thanks to tara. anyone want a roadtrip to new york?


A lot is going on lately. Not that my postings reflect that, but so it is. I'm very possibly starting a book club with my church through their life group program. It will only last a few months, but I can't shake the notion we should do something life-shattering, like read Till We Have Faces and The Greater Trumps. I've no idea how people outside a course in Modern Mythology will take such literature. And I've never been in a book club, though I've talked about having one for ages. I'm an arrogant reader, though, and my shelves of unread books are legion, so I can't stomach the notion of joining a book club in which I am not a principle selector of the literature. I've tried to get over this arrogance for a while now, and I just can't manage it. It seems too impractical to overcome it.

Meanwhile, I've had something 'social' going on every day for the last week, and more to come for the next several days. I don't think I have a real day off until next Thursday, though I suddenly don't regret this. I look back on all the days I haven't gone into work in the last two years, and I see a trail of waste. It's not that curling up on the couch with a good book is a waste. It's everything else I do and do not do that has curdled inside me.

And as many people can attest to, I have become a very selfish person in the last two years. Perhaps I was selfish before, but I was usually aware of it and sorry for it, and I put myself out of my own way to be present and available for others. Now, I avoid people whenever possible and consider it a drudge when I'm made to associate with them for any length of time. There are the few exceptions to this rule (I will not name them, though I hope they know who they are), but my willingness to set aside my own time for theirs is still more selfishness. Because I enjoy them. It requires no effort to be with them.

All this to say, I am willing to put forth the effort. I am tired of being my own only company, I am regretful of all that has come from my solitude, and I recall to mind Loving people with a renewed hope. I also remember reading something... was it in the Screwtape Letters?... that said real prayer for others involves specifics. Okay, so it didn't say that exactly, but that was the essence of it. That you're less likely to be honestly concerned for someone if you're praying for their eternal significance than if you are praying for their rheumatism to be healed. Well, I have a little trouble with that, because I generally think in enormous, vague, cosmical terms. But I was reminded that God does care about these things - dry skin, a wheezy car, not getting enough hours at work - and he wants to work in us through them.

I could go on, but I will soon start to ramble, and Mom already has her shoes on. To PV we go, to ready the classroom and be Useful Productive Members of Society.

love and peace.....

On Friendship

- Charles Williams

For there, in so far as place mattered at all, was the place of the Principle that had held them together - something that, he hoped, was stronger than the lion and subtler than the serpent and more lovely than butterflies, something perhaps that held even the Ideas in their places and made a tender mockery even of the Angelicals.


books i bought:

Thirst, by Mary Oliver, newly discovered by me, and bound to make a reappearance on this blog. Sooner rather than later.

Lotta Prints, a scrumptious book of practical crafts for my favorite entrepreneur.

The Juniper Tree
and other Grimmtastic tales, replete with illustrations from our favorite Maurice Sendak (whom we love not only because his name's Maurice, but also because he knows and loves the wild thing in us all)


It's not that there's nothing to write about, I suppose. Just that I've had better things to do. :)

I'll try to be more considerate. How 'bout I break one of my rules and talk a bit about work? Sort of....

Last night, I went hunting for a storytime in Fullerton with one of my coworkers who's soon to be doing a storytime of her own once a week. It was a research trip. We had faulty directions from one of our managers, but the fault began with us not paying attention to our exit. A couple streets were missing from the directive and signs were also misleading, the result being that we had to make four phone calls to different people during the drive and arrived twenty-five minutes late. Only to find that there was no storytime to begin with. Grr...

Lesson learned: call in advance, get directions beforehand from reliable source (i.e. a map), and allot significant extra time for the journey.

Our attempt to go incognito failed as well, since two of the managers recognized me immediately. They were really excited to see us though, thrilled to give us over an hour's worth of suggestions and advice (mostly the same few words of wisdom repeated in a variety of ways: 'don't forget to stamp it!' - 'and you can use a stamp' - 'when they see that stamp'). Not a wasted trip, overall, though thoroughly exhausting. After the driving adventure, we decided to forgo hunting for the cute restaurant downtown and just walked across the parking lot to Islands. Sometimes you make sacrifices for sanity. Beauty and adventure fall subject to stability and familiarity. The conversation, I think, does not suffer much from lack of ambiance or taste.

(sidebar: a girl is running down the sidewalk across the street with her hands in heavy black mits making broad swimming motions around and around above her head, freestyle in boxing gloves. the strokes are distracting from her pace, so her jogging has become a kind of shuffling run. bizarre. i love this street.)

When I got home, Uncle Bob was seated cozily in my living room. He had made a spontaneous visit just that afternoon and is in the house even now. Emily will be driving down later on today, and Tara and Spencer are also in town for a little while. There's a sandcastle competition down the beach a ways, Amanda's home sick, and Jenny B is back in town. Lots to do, people to see, places to go. But I don't feel busy. Maybe there's a resting somewhere inside that defies all the activity around me. Maybe it's the fog over the water. Maybe it's watching my cat sleep in her seafood box for hours on end.


'A Song for all Maries'

- Christina Georgina Rossetti
(Before 1891)

Our Master lies asleep and is at rest:
His Heart has ceased to bleed, His Eye to weep:
The sun ashamed has dropt down in the west:
Our Master lies asleep.

Now we are they who weep, and trembling keep
Vigil, with wrung heart in a sighing breast,
While slow time creeps, and slow the shadows creep.

Renew Thy youth, as eagle from the nest;
O Master, who hast sown, arise to reap:—
No cock-crow yet, no flush on eastern crest:
Our Master lies asleep.


'Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.'

- Phillips Brooks
A red helicopter is buzzing over the bay. After weeks of fog and smog, Catalina is finally searing its way across the horizon. There's a breeze and sun, convertibles cruising the boulevard, a yacht on the water, crows. The neighbors are walking by, slower than yesterday. They dress in bright, bold colors, and he always wears a hat. For all the busyness of this place, it feels more neighborly than our house on Silktree ever did. Car alarms go off every night around eleven, but there's no one screaming bloody murder at their granchild across the street or punk kids throwing rocks in the pool from next door (or blowing out your air conditioner with a pellet gun, or letting their ferocious dog out to attack innocent bystanders).

It's easy to be overcome by the illusion of self-importance. Especially when you have an account on facebook, a twitter page, and a blog. Lately, I've toyed with the idea of dropping them all. Like when I quit going to New Life and started going to St Francis instead. It kept occurring to me, Sunday after Sunday, 'these people won't actually miss me.' It wasn't a sad thought; it was liberating. But as you see, I have not quit the blog. I feel like I've an obligation to your internet routine, being here every now and then with something new. When I really feel like quitting is when I find myself fiercely curious to know who is reading and why and from where and for how long. I'll putter about on my analytics page, frustrated with the teasingly minute information it gives me, only to realize how absurd it all is. Like when you realize you've just had a lengthy, intense conversation with yourself in the mirror. 'Fool,' you say, 'you really need to get out more.'

But it's not so idiotic to want some kind of response, really. Because blogging is more like the conversation in the mirror than anything else. That's why I'm so thankful, you regulars, that you post comments all the time. It reminds me that I'm not chattering away at myself. There is still conversation left in the world. We still relate.

The world passes by around me, not one of these pedestrians giving me a second thought - most of them with stories more interesting than my own. I will never know them, they will never know me. I am as inconsequential as the crab in the sea. It is not a sad thought; it is strangely liberating. (Thought not exactly true.)

Thank you for not being strangers.


'Explanations of Love'

- Carl Sandburg

There is a place where love begins and a place where love ends.
There is a touch of two hands that foils all dictionaries.
There is a look of eyes fierce as a big Bethlehem open-house furnace
or a little green-eyed acetylene torch.
There are single careless bywords portentous as the big bend in the Mississippi River.
Hands, eyes, bywords - out of these love makes battle-grounds and workshops.
There is a pair of shoes love wears and the coming is a mystery.
There is a warning love sends and the cost of it is never written till long afterward.
There are explanations of love in all languages and not one found wiser than this:
There is a place where love begins and a place where love ends - and love asks nothing.


saw this sign back when my grandpa was visiting. every time i see a sign that makes me laugh - or 'found art' or... anything noticeable and unexpected, i make amanda take a picture. this one actually made it onto my computer! i like the earnest entreaty followed by a glib raise of the eyebrow that this implies.
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