31 August 2010

Caption Needed

1. "Will someone please tell the kid int he yellow shirt to go home?!"
2. "Uh oh, I'm gonna get wet!"
3. "Odd place to pray, but a heck of a good time to do it!"

Add your two cents by clicking COMMENT below and then pray for the people affected by the storm heading North from the Caribbean up the East Coast of the US. NYTimes

Oxford English Dictionary With Pages to Turn?

Britain's venerable Oxford English Dictionary third edition will very possibly not be printed, but Oxford University Press is not making a definitive statement about how things will be in 10 years when the new edition will be ready. Who knows how we'll be reading and seeking answers then! Prophecies pertaining to the publishing practices post 2020 are not particularly precise from this perspective.

"The print dictionary market is . . . falling away by tens of percent a year," Nigel Portwood, the chief executive of Oxford University Press, told London's Sunday Times. Asked if he thought the third edition would be printed, he stated his personal opinion: "I don't think so."

The dictionary has been available online for more than 10 years to subscribers who pay an annual fee of about $372. A 20 volume hard copy version of the OED is available online for $1,290US.

I found my old two volume set in a bookshop in Auckland and will hold on to it. Most of the words I need to look up are somewhere between those hard board covers. Most new words I can either spell, don't need to know, or the spelling won't matter. Then there's always the online versions via my phone or laptop.

According to Simon Winchester, author of books I highly recommend, "The Surgeon of Crowthorne" and "The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary," the switch towards online formats was "prescient."

"Until six months ago I was clinging to the idea that printed books would likely last for ever. Since the arrival of the iPad I am now wholly convinced otherwise," Winchester said.

"The printed book is about to vanish at extraordinary speed. Books are about to vanish; reading is about to expand as a pastime; these are inescapable realities."

Tim Carmody of WIRED Magazine describes it thus, "The 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary is the bibliophile’s equivalent to the movie geek’s high-end home theater setup. It’s a mighty, totem-like symbol of mystical multiple-shelf-spanning lexicographic power. But when the third edition is completed sometime in the next decade or so, there might not be anything physical on the bookshelves to show off." Read More

The description of the first one to pop up in an eBay search today:
• This is the full text of the 1971 edition of the 12 volume OED with a 13th appendix volume. It has been micrographically reduced and is presented with a special magnifying glass to aid reading. • It is presented in 2 volumes in a sturdy case with a top drawer containing a special magnifying glass. In very good condition. • Please note that this is a very heavy boxed set of almost 10K, so please contact me before bidding if you wish to have it sent outside the UK
Imagine all of that on a Kindle. With Amazon already selling more ebooks than hard copies, will we really think to get up and walk across the room to turn the pages of a large dictionary on it's own pedestal? Will we not just SELECT, CLICK and SCROLL to the desired definition feature in our ereader? Will we really call those old things with pages dead-tree books?

I've just used my spell checker on this post and was able to change pedestal so you wouldn't see how I typed it in the first time. Would I prefer it any other way?

30 August 2010

Integrity In Our Opinions & Positions

There is no more integrity in holding a traditional belief that you merely inherited, than there is in rejecting a belief unexamined.

What of hot topics that seem to consume the media waves?

When you take a stand, is it as a follower, or as a thinker?

Team Work Required in Air Emergency

And you can get a decent cup of tea on Air New Zealand.

*A little nudity at the end.

29 August 2010

Brooke Fraser Video

Behind the Scenes; Behind the Songs.

FLAGS PREVIEW - Writing from Sideways Media on Vimeo.

Download Something In The Water on iTunes

28 August 2010

12 Things Ladies in Waiting can do in a Hardware Store

You may find yourself in a hardware store this weekend. Some of us will be seeking shelter there from heat, others from rain. Or, as my friend Sarah did, just spending time with the one you love. Consider Sarah's advice on how to entertain yourself while waiting for someone to choose just the right nail.

S: Here's a list of things you can do if you find yourself at hardware stores too, and believe me, I'm a pro. (I married a man who has car projects, yard projects, home projects- some my fault, don't-throw-away-that-I-can-fix-it projects, that have gone for longer than a year simultaneously, and yes, we have had meals in the garage.)

Here in NZ we have Mitre 10 Mega and Bunnings Warehouse- I think these are a close equivalent to Home Depot, maybe Lowe's or a big True Value.


1. Wear comfy shoes, you never know how long you might be there.

2. Bring your phone- could be a good time to catch up on texts in between waiting for the husband to select the right kind of rivet.

3. If you are the academic kind, memorise what they have and where everything goes, it might make it faster to find something for the next time round, because you will probably be back.

4. Take note of things to get him for birthdays and Christmas. This is a hard one but yes, pay close attention.

5. Find the sections you like and go to them every time you go there so that you don't have to go where the husband goes, where everything looks the same- nail-like.

I personally enjoy looking at 'storage solutions' (plastic boxes, laundry baskets, cupboards, shelving), kitchens (for ideas), bathrooms, doors (could make a headboard out of a door), wood moulding (someone's framed a mirror with that stuff), plant pots (giant teapots are my favourite), etc. I don't really like power tools, hardware, gardening, lighting, etc... but that's just me for now.

6. Keep walking. Might as well get a bit of exercise while you are there.

7. Sometimes they sell massive bags of washing detergent/random other cleaning product like that- why not calculate if it actually is cheaper to get those than the smaller portions you get at the supermarket. That's one I've been meaning to do.

8. Ask someone for help if you or the husband need a hand. There might be a small scuffle between the two of you because either one will always claim they don't need help but it saves time (and your marriage)- that's if you can find a staff person in the giant land of metal shelving.

9. If you are feeling brave, there often is a child-proofing section, so you can plan what you'd buy there one day, or how you'd be such a great parent that the sound of your voice would turn them away from the doorknob so you wouldn't need that stuff. Of course, if that is too overwhelming to daydream about, which is often is for me, then please don't. Take that as a warning instead- so if you see baby-gate, run.

10. If you lose the husband, don't bother looking. It never turns up any finds and he's probably not ready to go anyway- still figuring out which type of wood is best. Maybe go buy some saws and sculpting tools so you can use them in the kitchen for baking like on Ace of Cakes. (Love.)

11. The paint sample cards can be semi-fascinating. They are free so you can collect a few every time you go past and make them into some craft project at home like a piece of art (like this dress) or design your own greeting cards.

12. If all else fails, turn to food. Some stores now have cafes in them but if not, there are bags of lollies at the checkout counters, or sometimes there are sausage sizzles going outside so go have one, or two. "

Thanks Sarah. You can find her journey with infertility, and much more, at Can I Walk With You . . .

Blasphemy is an Art?

Auckland's Religion is Garbage campaign.

What's the point?

I don't like religion either, but I'm fond of Jesus.


Follow the link. I'm not reproducing the ad campaign here.

26 August 2010

Captions, please?

What story begins with a milky cup of tea in a terra cotta cup?
Go on. Take it from here.

If I ran the world, I would . . .

Have you ever said, If I ran the world I'd . . ."? It's good for dinner table conversation, for dreaming with young people and for gleaning wisdom from the oldies. But what about joining the conversation via the internet?

"Imagine what could happen if we found a way to tap the single largest natural resource in the world: the pool of good intentions (human & business) that never translate into action.

This is an experiment in doing just that. Are you game?"

Complete the sentence:

If I ran the world, I would

To join in with others of good intentions, and who are acting on those intentions, go to


It's good to think big, or small, but good.

25 August 2010

Waiting can be agony, exhausting . . . and beneficial.

"Liminality is a place in between. It is emptiness and nowhere. Adolescence is the liminal
space between childhood and adulthood. But liminality is more than a point along the
way to somewhere else. It represents anti-structure to structure, chaos to order. The
place between two world views is a liminal place. It is a place of dying and rebirth, even
of metamorphosis, the place where the caterpillar spins its cocoon and disappears from
view. Liminality is Israel in the desert, Jesus in the tomb."
Leonard Hjalmarson

Waiting: For what? How?

liminality: being on the threshold between spaces or spheres or seasons.

My friend describes a segment of an authentic but agonising journey through time and space:

Those Wretched 187 Days . . .

I'm thinking about my 187 days of waiting.
Wondering about the hidden preparation that has overtaken me...
Why do I remain in this 'liminal space'?

"My ways are not your ways," (Is. 55:8)

...echo's in my mind. Is this the cosmic patience of God making me wait and wait?

"Our ways, you see, are the ways of instant-knowledge and instant-solutions and instant-gratification... We {must} begin picking up the deep rhythms of the Spirit, the heart beat of God. We begin thinking in terms of years and decades rather than minutes and hours." (Foster)
Reality is that place between the sea and the foam.
Irish Proverb
So, instead of pondering what I've lost, I should be...where?
Am I still stuck in my own INDEPENDENT ways? Is that what this is all about?

I feel as though I've been thrashing and wrestling with something...could it be the independence of my own ideas and desires?

Do I understand how to slowly release the need to manage and control life and instead find delight in God working to will and do his good pleasure in me?

I'm still there...thinking.
Richard Rohr says, "I am convinced that without experiences of liminal space (that place where all transformation happens), there is no truthful perspective on life. Without truthful perspective, there is neither gratitude nor any abiding confidence. It is precisely this deep gratitude and unfounded confidence that I see most lacking in our people today . . ."

For what do you wait?

For a pdf download of Hjalmarson 's paper on Forty Years in a Narrow Space.

to read further within Conversations@Intersections on liminality, the being on the threshold between spaces or spheres or seasons.
Photo: C. La Shure

Trapped by GPS Video

Or on Sheepfilms site.

24 August 2010

Geotagging Photos & Online Photo Hosting Services.

I've sifted through boxes and albums of photos and often wondered when and where they were taken. Sure it would have been nice to have a scribbled note on the back, but by the time I got them back from the lab, I was probably off on my next adventure!

Pros & Cons of Digital or Dusty Photos
You may not even know what I'm talking about, "boxes of photos". Many of you will only have photos on your computer, iPod or phone. When you've lost that, it's gone and you don't have to worry about those boxes and the dusty lids anymore.

Others will have uploaded their photos to Facebook, Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa or blogs. Flickr is owned by Yahoo. Picasa is owned by Google. Photobucket has been taken in by MySpace though all of that changes from time to time so correct me if I have those wrong. It may suit you to go with the one that also provides your online email services.

See this photo hosting comparison
for more input in making that decision.

Picasa & Flickr compared by Set on Hub Pages.

Would you like to know where you were when you took that super photo? It'd sure help update the info in your travel journal, your blog or your article that you hope to sell for a lot of money.

But how do you go about geotagging your photos as you take them? What technology makes that process easier?

Check out this very helpful series
from Uncornered Market on how
to geotag your photos with
hardware & software reviews
made easy.

About.com explains geotagging:

Geotagging or geocoding is a way to add geographical meta data to photos, RSS feeds, and websites. A geotag can define the longitude and latitude of the tagged item. Or it can define the location place name or regional identifier. It can also include information such as the altitude and bearing.

By placing a geotag on a Web page, website, or RSS feed, you provide information to your readers and to search engines about the geographical location of the site. It can also refer to the location that the page or photo is about. So if you wrote an article about the Grand Canyon in Arizona, you could tag it with a geotag indicating that.

Just when you thought that making good photographs was all about dividing the scene by thirds and getting in close! Now you can enable the kids and grandkids to follow your epic journey by way of your photos uploaded and geotagged on a map! No postcards required!

23 August 2010

Safety & Grace: Carol

A friend of mine died a couple of years ago on this day.

I later wrote about Carol, the humour and struggle of her life. If you'd like to read the first post in the series you'll be enriched, enlightened, a little entertained.

Carol mighta tried a similar bike stunt on a rainy day.

She usually just donned a rubbish bag.

Carol had a keen mind and a great sense of humour. She was generous and kind, intense and childlike.

The posts I wrote are not so much about death as about courage.

Read the series if you'd like. Be sure and start with Pt. 1, though I wonder what it would be like for a stranger to read them out of order. Hmmm ... That sounded like a Carol question.

The Safety & Grace Series on Conversations@Intersections.

22 August 2010

Globes inspire!

I like globes and maps. Maybe it's because I've been enamored by the mystique of foreign places since I was a little girl.

We traveled extensively within Indiana when I was young, camping in every state park. Because my dad set that goal, we went to parks we might not have thought to visit. Maybe that is what set me up for Geocaching now; that sense of curiosity and adventure might be hereditary!

Armchair travel is quite a good option for people who can't actually get out and go. Reading about far away places and the people who inhabit those places can stretch our worldview, enrich our lives and give us a different sense of the place in which we live.

Maps and globes are fascinating. The early versions were better than nothing, but often inaccurate due to the limitations of travel and the inability to capture data as we can today. Their rudimentary instruments and lack of perspective that satellites give makes their achievements amazing!

And what would we do without Google Maps? Damon Zucconi’s Fata Morgana strips Google Maps of all the imagery — no coastlines, bodies of water, or roads — leaving only the labels behind. Zoom out and all you see is country names; zoom in close enough and you see street names, highway markers and exits, subway stops, and other points of interest. via The Map Room

What people have done with maps is fascinating too! I've seen jackets & dresses, umbrellas, lamp shades and shower curtains made of maps or map prints. Glass globes make good paper weights. I have globe marbles, key chains and ear rings. No, I don't wear the ear rings, but they were a thoughtful gift that I don't have to dust.

Another element to my map appreciation is the naming of or inclusion of places. Many people can tell when a map or globe was printed by checking the names of countries. Some countries change their names more than others, but a sense of geography and historical political events can assist in the dating of a globe, if it is not written in fine print somewhere obscure.

Does the globe include Abyssinia, Siam, Ceylon, Yugoslavia, Rhodesia, Kampuchea or Nyasaland? It might be out of date but a great historical find.

I like this version of DHL's globe. It's almost smiling at you. Another important factor is that it includes New Zealand. While many other island nations are left off, NZ is included. I know that must be a difficult decision for map makers.
"Do we include Fiji or not?"
"All 33 islands or just the significant ones?"
"If the island is inhabited, it is significant to someone!"
You get the idea.

When next you pass a map, especially a large format that takes authority over a space, consider where you'd like to go that you've never been to before. What country or continent intrigues you? I have my short list. What's yours?

21 August 2010

GPS Phenomenon & New Garmin GPS 62 Handhelds Reviewed

GPS: I have one in my phone and another handheld device I take hiking, tramping and geocaching. How did people get around without these things? You can often choose rental cars with GPS built in so you can find your way around unknown territory.

Why those are not outlawed along with cell phones, I'm not sure. But then, maps in cars are dangerous. I remember Grandpa grabbing the map Granny was reading and throwing it out the window. He knew where he was going and couldn't see the side mirror for her holding the map up at full width!

Why the proliferation of GPS enabled devices? About ten years ago selective availability (SA) of GPS signals were disabled to make the super accurate technology open to everyone on Earth, rather than just the U.S. military. Thanks to that decision made by the Clinton Administration in 2000, today we’re able to find Tupperware containers in the woods (geocaching), get turn-by-turn driving directions, geotag our point and shoot photos, and a lot more.

Geek.com reviews the Garmin 62 of the new series.

"The new Garmin GPSMAP 62's features include a route planner, proximity alarm, waypoint averaging, area calculation and then general tools include a calculator, calendar, hunting calendar, alarm clock, stopwatch, and a sun/moon chart. The two higher end models add even more featuring, like an elevation plot and wireless data transfers.

Garmin’s GPSMAP 62 is a great handheld GPS. It’s not the cheapest option, but it’s one of the most competitive packages out there and, perhaps even better than that, it’s an easy pick if you want a great GPS device but you don’t feel like doing a ton of research. It’s still early on for the 62 series, especially if their lifecycle will be anything like that of the 60 series, but so far everything is looking good. I had a great experience with it and so far the general consensus in the online geo community seems to be really positive. The 62 addressed what problems people had with the 60Cx and while the latter remains a popular choice it’s clear the new buyers should opt for a newer GPSMAP 62 or Oregon device."

GPSMAP 62 series prices: the 62 ($350), the 62s ($450), and 62st ($550).

The difference between these latest models is that GPSMAP 62S adds microSD card slot, electronic compass, barometric altimeter, wireless data sharing, high speed USB to the base model whereas the 62ST tops everything off with a preloaded 100K topographic maps for the entire US.

So the Garmin 62s would be the way to go for those outside the US, I think I'll stay with my Garmin 60csx until they've tweaked this series to it's peak performance.

Play date with Friends.

Heather, Jane & I are going out to play this Saturday. Mike's working so we're kidnapping Heather. What to do?

Different interests & personalities . . . .
What to do on a rainy Saturday with two phlegmatics who rarely care what we do as long as we're all together?

Well, I start with the NZ Herald to see what's on. Then I go to EventFinder. If we were in Wellington it would be colder and
wetter, but there's this very big book fair on. Heather could look for puzzles. Jane could seek out counseling books and titles for kids. I could peruse my normal categories and resist temptation. Maybe it's best we're not in Wellington.

Hmm, Katchafire is in Kaitaia and there's
a running festival in Tauranga. Those are too far away and not to our liking, tho' Katchafire might warm our bones on a winter's day. How about the Somewhat Different Design Exhibition in Shed 10? It's free but it's more in my line of interest than that of my friends. Geocaching? No, too wet.

Ok, we may take in the design exhibit or stop off at the Crafternoon Tea in Kingsland before going to the Antique Fair at Alexandria Park. If all else fails, Heather will be thrilled with the Weird & Wonderful Insect and Spider exhibit at the Auckland Museum. She loves spiders!

I'm sure we'll be fine, but the decision-making process can sometimes take the fun right out of everything. If someone sets their heart on one thing, but the group is uninterested . . .!
And sometimes, trying to figure out where to go for dinner could lead to fasting! As for movies, I learned years ago that the decision needs to be made BEFORE arrival at the theatre or cinema. If the group settles on a film you really don't want to see, conflict can ensue. I was held hostage once. I can remember the film to this day.

In our case, three adult women, it's not that hard
to settle on a few options, any of which will be fine. If the weather was better we'd have more options. In the case of Jane & Heather, that would not be good because it makes the deciding process excruciating.

• What if we had kids with us?
• What if we were of vastly divergent backgrounds with extremely different interests?

Well, we'd probably not be friends if our
interests were vastly different. As it is, I have great friends, and they're all a little bit different. I mean that in a good way.
I do different things with different friends. Does that make me a chameleon or versatile?

A partial roll call:
What if Tiffany, Cindy & Cheryl were here? Then Angela, Eleanor, Rachael & Bev showed up? Then there's Nancy and Sonia, Tash, Leslie, Mich, Shanda, Sharman, Laura, Wendy, Maureen, Linda, Carla, Rebee, Usha, Ashleigh, Jaime and possibly you! What would we find to do for fun?
Well, at least Rene & Dede have just been to NYC and they are too pooped to play!

I don't have too many friends. I just have friends who all enjoy different things.

•Do you find your circle of friends too small or too large? Either extreme can have its own challenges. Do you have just a few good friends, each one right for different occasions?

•What's your best advice for making and keeping friends?
One bit of advice would be NOT to make a list like this cause I'm sure to have left out a hundred or so.

•What do your squad of friends say about who you are?
Mine are a wonderful lot and I wouldn't trade very many of them for . . . .

20 August 2010

"Literally, follow me."

Because language is a living thing, the meaning of these words can evolve, or devolve, in our thinking.
They still mean the same to Jesus as in pre-Facebook & Twitter days.

Thnx Merle.

19 August 2010

How does a pastor, or church, measure success or effectiveness?

. . . the causes of clergy burnout and poor mental and physical health are far deeper than poor boundaries, or the failure to engage in self-care, or the seemingly insatiable desires of congregations." says Anne Dilenschneider, award-winning poet, essayist, spiritual director, and leadership consultant in The Huffington Post. "Burnout and poor health are symptoms of a far deeper "dis-ease" of soul that has plagued clergy for nearly 100 years. They are symptoms of starvation. Addressing the symptoms of burnout does not get to the root of this serious matter."

Dilenschneider says, "Pastors who are effective and get things done are considered "successful." Denominations focus on results that can be measured (e.g., increased membership and the congregation's financial well-being). Yet numerous studies over the past 20 years reveal that this approach is, literally, killing clergy and, by extension, churches and denominations."

"The current emphasis on clergy effectiveness is due to a change in the role of pastors that occurred in the 1920s along with the development of the assembly line and the adoption of the production efficiency methodology of Taylorism in corporate America. At that time, as Richard Niebuhr observed, clergy became "pastoral directors" who focused on the administrative tasks of managing and maintaining churches for the benefit of the denomination. And, as retired United Methodist bishop Richard Wilke has noted, by the 1960s, pastors were being evaluated on their "competency, acquired skills, and professional status."

"Until the 1920s, the pastor was a cura animarum, the "cure of souls," or "curate" -- a person who cared for souls by helping people locate themselves in God's greater story. The first step in this work was the pastor's own attention to her or his soul-care through an intentional focus on her or his personal relationship with the Holy. Yet, as I learned as a participant in a Lilly Endowment convocation, seminaries focus on academics and do not train Protestant clergy in spirituality or spiritual formation. At most, even in 2010, only a handful of seminaries require a semester of study in this essential subject"

These are excerpts only. Read the entire article on The Huffington Post Religion site.

How does a pastor, or church, measure success or effectiveness?
At what cost?

Books for Bougainville

The Bougainville Library Trust was established by writer Lloyd Jones, author of Mister Pip, a novel set on the island of Bougainville during the crisis in the 1990s.

In 2007, Mister Pip gained international acclaim winning the Commonwealth Literary Award and being short-listed for the Booker Prize. It also drew international attention to the ten year long crisis in Bougainville.

In the late 1990s the New Zealand government initiated peace talks. The introduction of peacekeepers brought an end to the hostilities on Bougainville.

"Building a library and cultural centre is an important part of the island's future. A new library will address a younger generation and do much to rebuild the community's cultural capital and confidence," says Lloyd Jones.

The Trust is working with Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) and the Bougainville Heritage Foundation, which is based in Arawa (Bougainville's capital), to build and stock a library and cultural centre.

A casualty of the Bougainville crisis was the loss of meeting places and books. A community library will provide a home for both. It will be a place to tell stories and read the stories of others.

In New Zealand the Trust is currently fundraising for the Bougainville library. Donations can be made and further information about the library project can be found on the Bougainville library website - http://www.bougainvillelibrary.org.nz/

18 August 2010

What makes another person "other"?

I ask, what are you passing on to the next generation; a heritage of openness and bridge building or closed doors and high walls?

Donald Miller asks, in the midst of a bigger story,

"My question to you is, did the community you grew up in teach you to see the “otherness” in others, or did your community teach you to see the common humanity in us all?"
Don Miller's Blog will fill you in on the rest of the story that led to his question.

But answer it for yourself. Do you focus on differences or similarities?

What makes another person "other"?

Is it skin colour, language, limp, lisp, bank account, brand of computer or car, zip code, title, denomination, head covering, hair length, accent, marital status, style of worship, sexual preference, nationality, grammar, or . . .

I'd love to peer in to the conversation if you'd be so kind as to comment here.

Free Stuff I've heard of recently and thought you might like.

Brooke Fraser is one of my favourite female songwriter/vocalists. She is a Kiwi and, having heard her in person many times in simple surroundings, I can say she's the real deal. I thoroughly enjoy her music and stories.

For a free acoustic track from Brooke Fraser's new CD, go to http://brookefraser.com/

Christian Audio offers a free audio book download each month.

August's offering is:

Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road (Unabridged) by Tim Keller

Why would someone risk his safety, destroy his schedule, and become dirty and bloody to help a needy person of another race and social class?

And why would Jesus tell us "Go and do likewise"? Like the wounded man on the Jericho road, there are needy people in our path- the widow next door, the family strapped with medical bills, the homeless man outside our place of worship. God call us to be ministers of mercy to people in need of shelter, assistance, medical care, or just friendship.

A review of Ministries of Mercy.

It's fun to get things for free! Glad to alert you to the opportunities.
Reading blogs can have fringe pay offs! Know of free stuff other
Conversations@Intersections readers might benefit from?
Tell us in the comments section. Thanks.

17 August 2010

Injustice, Racism, Prejudice, Misconceptions, & Preconceptions:

Think about it. Sort it out. Don't let ignorance affect how you look at other people. Put yourself in their shoes. Much of the happiness or hardship people have is because of where they were born, not anything they've done themselves.
That's probably equally true of you and me.

16 August 2010

Wedding Proposal, sort of . . .

It's good to get a wedding proposal every 20 years or so. It's been nearly that long, I think. Let's see, my last date was in . . . so the last real possibility was . . . yep, about 20 years, give or take a decade.

I've been busy, you see. I reckon that in the midst of me living the life I enjoy, I'll meet the man of my dreams. Remind me to tell you about that dream sometime! Then, if I never marry, I'll still have enjoyed the life I've lived! It's a Win-Win situation.

Seems reasonable to me, so I'm going ahead with that plan until someone convinces me of a more efficacious strategy. Someone has suggested I simplify my vocabulary, but again. If I want a man who can speak in complete sentences, I can't dumb things down and then complain about the results! Really!

Now get this straight. I'm not suggesting that my vocabulary is too extensive for men. I am saying that most of the intelligent men I meet are already married. That is not a mathematical surprise since it is equally true that most of the men I meet at all are married. Much of life is quite logical.

Now, back to the proposal. Well, it wasn't a proposal so much as a proposition. NOT a proposition in the sense you might be thinking. Goodness me! It's just that he didn't ask so much as tell me that he had our wedding all planned and he was anticipating my return.

Well, we had met in person, so that's a different scenerio than the online dating options which are often full of surprises. I think the surprise in his case might be the reality of my age.

Guessing ages of people from differing ethnic backgrounds can be a bit tricky. I've seen some villagers who were so weathered from outdoor life that they look ready for senior citizen discounts in their 40's. I've seen Asian women who so protected their skin that they were pristine, or nearly so, at 65!

I am neither weathered or pristine. My skin tone has coped well with my active lifestyle, but is reasonably seasoned for having clocked up the number of years I have. But how could he have known, poor boy?

Anyway, when I got the text, having ignored his phone calls, that said he was looking forward to our wedding ceremony that was to be held in his village, I had to think of a way to let him down lightly. I had given my contact information to the chief of the village so I could stay in touch and send him teaching resources. It really wasn't a recruitment ploy to win one of his men as my husband!

The letter in the mail this week nailed it! I must get in touch with the man and tell him he needs to look for a woman who is more likely to give him children. As it is, I fear I'm old enough to be his mother!

If it's another 20 years until the next proposal, then so be it. I'll be calling every man Sonny by then, and I'll have well earned every wrinkle, ache and pain.

If we're still writing and reading blogs by then, I'll alert you to developments as they happen. Or possibly after the honeymoon.

14 August 2010

Neglected. Reengaged.

"Are you the Christian lady who does the talks on campus?"

My friends roared with laughter. They would not address or describe me as such. Whether it was the "Christian" or "lady" or the fact that I not only "give talks" but do hold up my end of most conversations . . . . Anyway.

I ignored them and answered the student respectfully, "Yes, I am. How can I help?"

"I'm interested in getting together with others on campus who are discussing faith and spirituality. I find it is an area of my life that is neglected. Something's out of kilter and I think it is because I am focused on the To-do lists and here-and-now."

I told her how she could e-mail me so I could forward her the times and place of gatherings she might be interested in. I told here about coffee groups and lunchtime discussions and groups reading through a set list of Scripture passages together. She made a note of how to email me and went on her way hurriedly to the meeting for which she was late.

I turned back to the table to rejoin the conversation of my friends only to find it had stopped. The conversation about weather, shopping, recipes and celebrity gossip had dissipated into a palpable silence. Smiling, I reengaged with my friends, sensing that the students' enquiry had accomplished far more than I could have in ten sermons or admonitions.

13 August 2010

Pilgrimage? To where?

Have you ever undertaken a trip that could be labelled apilgrimage?

While we often associate a religious agenda to a pilgrimage, spirituality can be expressed in returning to a childhood home or to a final resting place of ancestors.

A pilgrimage might be in following the footsteps of a famous explorer or hero, a saint or artist. I remember visiting old haunts of literary figures in Ireland and England. I have photos of myself in front of David Livingstone's statue at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

When in Chennai, India a few years ago, a friend asked if I'd like to stop in at the big beautiful cathedral there as it was on our way. I readily agreed, only to discover upon arrival that it is reported to be the burial place of Thomas, the doubting apostle. The burial places of saints are common destinations for pilgrimages. Here I was on an entirely different mission yet had stumbled upon a landmark many people never reach.

Another friend of mine is soon to go
to Mt. Athos in Greece. It is rare opportunity and he is preparing by reading the lives of those associated with the monastery there.

Consider the meaningful people or events in your life. What would you consider a pilgrimage?

More than a trip to the Cadbury factory in Dunedin or the home of Dr Pepper in Waco, Texas, the meaning may be as much in the journey as it is in the destination. The trip, and the sacrifice that might be involved to make such a journey, will connect with something in your heart and will stir emotions you may or may not understand.

Where might you go? What might you seek? What might such a pilgrimage do in you?

12 August 2010

Are you wealthy?

Are you wealthy?

Interesting concept, wealth. Is there an objective scale or marker to say what wealth is, or is not?

Ancient kingdoms had great wealth in gold or other commodities, but they may not have had flushing toilets. Most people reading this right now take flushing toilets for granted, but would not answer the above question in the affirmative.

Are you wealthy?

Compared to whom?

Need a comparison be made?

Are you wealthy?

I have discussed this in dusty rural schools and villages in southern Africa. The students or subsistence farmers would say their non-motorised and unelectrified lifestyle did not reflect wealth. Wealth was the realm of stuff, cities, TVs upon which you could watch sport.

I have discussed wealth with women in comfortable rooms with soft carpet. Wealth was perceived to be luxury cruises and every whim satisfied.

I have seen poverty in the eyes of the terminally ill, for whom wealth would have been the energy to laugh. I have seen fear in the eyes of a woman who had to choose which of her children ate the last of the porridge.

Are you wealthy? Upon what basis, what scale do you answer that question? You have more than most and not as much as some.

My closet seems floorless with shoes piled upon one another. I am wealthy. I can choose to wear shoes, and even which shoes to wear.

My pantry has packets of sauces and containers of pasta. It has tins of fruit and of beans. My fridge has an extra tub of butter for the when the old one runs out and the freezer has just enough room for ice cream.

So why, when someone asks me if I am wealthy, is my conditioned response one of denial?

Is it because my vocation has an implied simplicity of lifestyle? Is it because I glory in secondhand furniture, finds that no one else can copy? Is it a false humility or a dissatisfaction with life and my acquisitions thus far?

No guilt intended as I write, nay wrestle with wealth and its baggage. Just a question as to how we would grip its content so tightly yet seem to hold the label at arm's length.

Abbey of the Arts Monk's Manifesto and Links

Welcome to Abbey of the Arts

The Abbey is a monastery without walls, offering online classes, retreats, books, and resources to nurture contemplative practice, creative expression, and kinship with nature.

When you think of a monk, what comes to mind? Come on. Give it a moment.

Too much of what we do online is skimming without contemplation. This is an opportunity to think and reflect a minute.

What's your traditional picture of a monk? Robed, hooded, sandled?

Check out what it might look like, according to Abbey of the Arts, to be a Monk in the world.

Monk Manifesto

Monk: from the Greek monachos meaning single or solitary, a monk in the world does not live apart but immersed in the everyday with a single-hearted and undivided presence, always striving for greater wholeness and integrity

Manifesto: from the Latin for clear, means a public declaration of principles and intentions.

Monk Manifesto: A public expression of your commitment to live a compassionate, contemplative, and creative life.

Jun 19 2010 0083a11. I commit to finding moments each day for silence and solitude, to make space for another voice to be heard, and to resist a culture of noise and constant stimulation.

2. I commit to radical acts of hospitality by welcoming the stranger both without and within. I recognize that when I make space inside my heart for the unclaimed parts of myself, I cultivate compassion and the ability to accept those places in others.

3. I commit to cultivating community by finding kindred spirits along the path, soul friends with whom I can share my deepest longings, and mentors who can offer guidance and wisdom for the journey.

4. I commit to cultivating awareness of my kinship with creation by spending time in nature and recognizing that it is the foundational matrix from which I live and love.

5. I commit to bringing myself fully present to the work I do, whether paid or unpaid, holding a heart of gratitude for the ability to express my gifts in the world in meaningful ways.

6. I commit to rhythms of rest and renewal through a commitment to regular practice ofSabbath and resist a culture of busyness that measures my worth by what I do.

7. I commit to a lifetime of ongoing conversion and transformation, recognizing that I am always on a journey with both gifts and limitations.


Abbey of the Arts has e-courses and live courses as well as a blog, resources and links. Check it out for an old world practice in an e-world context.

Upcoming classes

I'm not sure how I found the Abbey of the Arts, but there's a font
of inspirational and informational resources to tap in to.

11 August 2010

A Mixed Bag:

It was raining.
No, it wasn't.
Yes, it was.
Not another one.
What'll it be?
A mixed bag.
Be prepared.

Words, Language & Common Usage: Pt 2

Clichéd phrases can communicate much in a short space, or they can annoy. Because we tie disproportionate meaning to some phrases, and that's why we use them, we must be careful that others are hearing what we are really saying.

A friend of mine brought a phrase into a conversation this past week, commenting on its overuse.

"On a daily basis." or "On a weekly basis."

When bureaucrats or academics are writing gobbly-gook, they'll often use more words instead of fewer words. What's wrong with just saying, "daily" or weekly"? When one word will suffice, don't use ten!

If you are painting a verbal picture, choosing quality words to bring in feeling, sound and flavour, then by all means use more words. Don't be spartan or minimalist when engaging the imagination of your reader. Don't do it all for them either. Just as in any art, leaving something for your reader/observer to do makes the process more engaging.

What's wrong with this sentence?

"The All Blacks beat the Welsh by 24 to 17."

Actually, they beat the Welsh by 7.

To say they beat the Welsh 24 to 17, is fine, but adding "by" changes the math.

As a friend was leaving the house one morning, I said, "Have a good one." My friend nearly lost her nut! That was a phrase that had been over used or oft said by a doubtful character and so had taken on negative vibes.

I was taken back a bit by her reaction, but, upon reflection, realised that it is a senseless, throw-away kind of phrase.

Any pet peeves come to your mind?
What phrase could you happily never hear again?