30 April 2011

Marietta W. Shaw: My mom

Today would have been my mom's 71st birthday. Her name was Marietta and she's been gone for over 15 years now.

It was only after she died, and I was sitting by her brother's side as he was dying, that I learned where my mom's name came from. Her grandmother was Marietta, but that lady died too young, and never knew my mom. In fact, my grandmother was raised by her step-mom who might have fit many of the stereotypes assigned that label.

Part of the reason my name is Jill is because my mom's name was a long one. The story was that she wanted to make it easier for me in my early years at school. Not sure if that's true. I'll check it with my dad to be sure.

My mom was born at home in New Castle, Indiana. Home-birth wasn't a trendy thing then, it just was the norm in many communities. Coming and going to my grandparent's home in Hagerstown, Indiana, we'd often pass the house in New Castle and I'd remind my mom that she was born there; as if it was news to her. I was fascinated by the whole thing. I had previously thought my mom had always been, so the discussion of her birth was a novelty to me.

I recently sat behind a very pregnant young woman who was obviously uncomfortable with the weight she carried and the movement of the child. I watched her shift her position in hopes of comfort, then rub her side to dispel the pain.

I had never considered whether I caused my mom much distress as she carried me. What pain, what hope, what fear . . . I've heard the story of the day I was born, mid-February in a year when my mom was 22 years old. Seems she stepped off of an icy curb to wave down a bus, slipped and did something akin to the splits. The bus stopped. She got on. I was born that night, a few weeks early.

It was a caesarean section procedure that brought me to light, though I was uncooperative even then, choosing not to breath a few times and frustrating the O.R. staff. Finally the doctor threatened me and I musta believed him cause I got on with the business of breathing.

So there was my mom, recovering from surgery, with a husband studying at university, a two and a half year old son and a new baby girl, in wintery Indiana. My earliest memories do not reach back to that university town, and the hospital burned so pilgrimages to the site are futile.

My memories of numerous meals, baths, vital life lessons taught and all the other things moms do for their kids are also fuzzy. They happened, as naturally as breathing, but so much was just assumed, taken for granted.

When my mom was unwell at the end of her life, I took care of her. There was chicken, broccoli and an appealing fruit on her plate. What might she like to drink that would provide some energy? I opened doors that had become too heavy for her, and minimised the difficulty of daily tasks. I filled in the gaps for her, much as she musta done for me years ago.

There's so much I wish I had asked her, but I only think of the questions as events arise to stimulate curiosity. I'm glad Uncle Tom told me about her name. My great grandmother's name was Marietta Personette. My mother's was Marietta Shaw. I don't have a daughter to give the name to, but I put it on the Hospice Memorial Tree every Christmas. She features on this blog from time to time, though not usually by name. I'll find ways to keep it in circulation.

I took a lot for granted in my early years, as kids do, but have paid better attention these past 15. Those of you who still have your moms around, pull up a chair, settle in and ask questions. Ask them about their name and why they named you what they did. Ask them lots of things about their childhood and formative times in their lives. Make a timeline, it'll spark more conversation. Capture those stories and memories somehow.

27 April 2011

Basil Pasta Salad

I'm taking a salad to a shared lunch on Sunday.

I think I'll raid my friend's garden and take this Basil Pasta Salad.


  • 5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes, chopped (any variety you like)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon basil leaves, chopped*
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound bowtie pasta, cooked to package directions
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lighly toasted


Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl and toss well.
Serve at room temperature. Do not refrigerate.
* If you can't find lemon basil, use sweet basil leaves and add the juice from half of one lemon to the olive oil. The hint of lemon adds a brightness to the dish.

I like lemon and lime juice in many dishes, and the subtlety of fennel in tomato sauces gets my attention.

What new recipes do you have to share?

Writing out of our identity

"Writing is not about method, technique,
but about identity.
We write because of who we are."

Cheryl Belding

26 April 2011

Suffering: When we ask "Why?"

Check what Adam Hamilton writes about tragedies in life: bit.ly/gW4vLz

25 April 2011

Not Made For Here: Brooke Fraser

Brooke is one of my favourite New Zealand exports.

Her new Flags CD is fun, meaningful and a work of art. Seeing her live is fun.

Check her out online at BrookeFraser.com

24 April 2011

Hayley Westenra

Hayley is from Christchurch, New Zealand, but tours the world now.
Visit Hayley's Website here.

23 April 2011

Keith Green

Keith Green was one of the voices in the formation of my faith. He died in a plane crash several years ago now, but the freshness of how he communicates is still relevant, even if his fashion-sense is not. Give it a go. He's refreshing cause he never tried to sell anything.

While this may seem out of date to us in 2011, Keith & Melody Green were simple in the way they lived and expressed their faith. Their simplicity gave us back a credibility some of the TV evangelists had tarnished and had a sense of humour that endeared them to most everyone they met, believers, non and all.

22 April 2011

So many ways to tell a story . . .

Miniature dioramas use scale models and landscaping to create scenes that tell a story.

Some of this might be on your level.

20 April 2011

How is Social Media like a Farmer's Market: Pt. 2

I don't remember exactly how I got on Twitter.
I think I saw it on someone's contact options, or read a tech article about it, and tried it out.
I've never had a class to show me how to use it. Same with Facebook. I usually just ask a power-user if I ever have trouble using an app. Usually those power users are younger than me, but not always.

Old dogs are learning new tricks all the time,
working smarter rather than harder.

I've connected with some really nice people and have had heaps of questions answered and problems solved. Really! If I post something I need on Facebook or via a Tweet, people within my networks respond with possible answers or sources.

For example, I was looking everywhere for a pictorial timeline of history that included most of the vital interactive components of civilisation: science, arts, politics, religion, etc . . . What I found on-line looked good but I hated to spend a lot of money on something I hadn't actually seen. Timelines can be bulky with all their folding bits, so I was hesitant. Then a friend on Facebook, with whom I worship most Sundays, said she'd seen just the thing up the road in Browns Bay and it was on sale. It was just the thing I'd seen online for more money! I saved $20+, and the wait of it being delivered.

She and I would not have discussed my need for a timeline on a Sunday morning. She has small children and there's usually a buzz of conversation before and after the worship services. It just wouldn't have come up. But because she was trawling on Facebook after her kids were in bed, she connected my need with a possible source. Score!

Now imagine that on a bigger scale working for the benefit of your business.
Go ahead. Imagine it.

Imagine you could connect with your customers in an efficient way that really got to the core of what they needed or wanted. Imagine the potential if they then posted their satisfaction with your product or service and all of their network, because of their relationships, knew to call you, or refer others to you, when they had similar needs. That would sure beat the comment box on the end of your counter, wouldn't it? Who sees those comments? Who takes the time to write those? Usually only complainers.

I've got a core group of twitterers amongst whom I interact. Most of them are local, here in New Zealand, but others are in UK and USA. I've responded to tweets as to which restaurants in nearby neighbourhoods were good. That was to help out a man who wanted a nice anniversary dinner with his wife. I've had questions answered and even won a laptop stand via tweeting.
I've heard of one day specials and saved heaps of money. People find jobs, sell cars, give away surplus furniture or garden produce via social media.

You can be as local or as global as you need it to be. I guess it's like an electronic bulletin or notice board where people used to leave notices for puppies for sale and rummage sales this weekend.

With Facebook pages now serving as web presence for many businesses, it would be in your best interest to check out the possibilities. That is especially true when you calculate the cost of newspaper or TV/radio advertising and the cost of Twitter or Facebook. Social media does not replace advertising, but works together with it. Both need to be used well for maximum benefit.

Check out what Rob Crawford, a Twitterer whom I follow, has to say about all of this on his blog. It was from him that I made the connection between social media and a farmer's markets. He's also given me hotel tips and some fun conversations via Twitter.

Mashable has an article you might like too. Five Unique Ways to Use Twitter for Business.

19 April 2011

How is Social Media like a Farmer's Market: Pt. 1

It builds relationships!

Business used to be done with people you knew. They lived in your neighbourhood or town or you were related to them somehow. Then things started getting bigger and moving faster and billboards went up. Ads went on TV and radio and relationships started getting more shallow.

I grew up knowing my milkman by name. He worked for the dairy that was owned by friends of my grandparents. They were also friends with the president of the bank and a local builder and . . . .

In another town, my other grandfather's business appointments were mostly scheduled in the evenings on his front porch as he sat drinking iced tea and towns people wandered past. Everyone knew who needed what done and who was able and available to do it. Surplus from the gardens was swapped and a sparky would trade a wiring job for a bit of plumbing.

The bank was owned locally.

Fast forward to today

We often don't even know the names of the people behind the counters of our bank, pharmacy, hardware store . . . . or do you? Do you know their names?

As our towns and cities become bigger and busier, how do we maintain community?
How do we connect with those we pass each day?

I've heard stories of regulars on buses and trains talking with each other; solving problems and sharing tips on books, movies and such. How did that get started? Someone with a relational IQ probably initiated it and it caught on. I think one such community started when one of the regulars became very ill and the others realised that they missed her, that each of them were mortal and life was too short to ignore people they saw everyday.

How do you build community either for yourself or for your business?

Social media, in all it's various forms, is community. It's a long way from grandpa's front porch, but it provides connections between people that often turn in to actual friendships.

Businesses can use Facebook or Twitter, just to name two options, to connect with their customers or suppliers in a way that one-on-one phone calls or just don't anymore.

Customers, or potential customers, can ask questions, applaud great service, or complain about quality or service, in a way that can get immediate feedback.

If I were to call Telecom or AT&T about poor service, I'd have to wait for a customer service representative computerised algorithm to understand my responses and put my call in the right queue for attention. Then I'd wait, or not.

Now, I can post a question or a comment in a forum or on a Facebook page and await a response. The response might come from the company or from another customer who has a solution, or who agrees or disagrees with me. It is in the company's best interest to respond quickly to my complaint because other forum users can see what's happening.

Conversations are happening that were impossible before, well, impossible since we moved away from the front porch and first-name basis of interacting with our community.

Stay tuned . . . . for Part 2.

17 April 2011

A Piece of Me - Shanda Oakley writes about an Egg?

A good & long-time friend of mine writes a blog you might like to read. You can subscribe to it through Google Reader or some other RSS aggregator or you can go to A Piece of Me to see what Shanda has offered up.

Shanda's writing reflects her life. She's real, she's generous and she's fun. Shanda invests in others and celebrates or cries with them, as appropriate. Her moves from country to country haven't put her off friendship, but have somehow made her value it more.

Here's a piece of one story that will show you what awaits.

In talking about how little Shanda sometimes feels she has to offer . . . .

... brought to mind a childhood experience. We were attending a church service in a rural village in Zambia, or, as we would say, a bush church. In those days women and men sat on separate sides of the church. Even if the church met under a tree, there was a dividing line down the middle. During offering and communion, each individual would come forward to the homemade table at the front and either take communion, or leave their offering to God. In this setting, everyone knew who left an offering and who did not.

On this particular Sunday, as we sang, one by one people came forward and dropped 5 ngwee, 20 ngwee and sometimes a kwatcha into the offering basket. One lady came forward, humbly knelt at the table, and put an egg into the basket. We watched, wondering what in the world God could want with an egg. But it was all this lady had.

At the end of the offering, the leader of the church began to auction off the egg. It probably went for more than one would normally buy an egg!

Read more of this story and other posts by Shanda at her blog.


One-size-does-NOT-fit-all in connecting with God.

It was His initiative that made us all the individuals we are. Why then would we think that we all have to conform to some weird preconceived notion of 'religion'? That's not helpful! It sets people up to feel like failures.

veryone should connect with God in a way that suits them, and is respectful of His sovereignty.

This not to say I come to Him on my terms and make Him part of my life.

Nope. His terms. He's God. And it's "All in!" or not in at all.

But after that, my relationship with God shouldn't look like anyone else's. It should be unique, as unique as I am.

What do ya reckon?

If you don't like that argumentative tone, then consider the following,

"If I could sit at Jesus' feet near a river in Galilee, I'd ask Him..... "

15 April 2011

Regional / National Word Associations

Keeping in mind that I list all of the following phrases with innocent intent..... moving from country to country and culture to culture informs my writing, but I also forget about regional discriminatory slang....

So tell me if there's anything I need to delete.

Kiwi ingenuity
Mexican wave
Russian diplomate
German engineering
Irish stew
French fries
Island time
Southern hospitality
Northern lights
Cuban cigar
Swiss Army knife
Scotch fillet

Add to the list .... keeping it clean & appropriate, please.

13 April 2011

Not To Do List

People often speak of making a To Do List.

I've just added something to my Not To Do List.

It had a few things on it already, my Not To Do List.

Not To Do

  1. Drive on the wrong side of the road
  2. Go to America from New Zealand via Australia
  3. Ask dumb questions
  4. Micro-manage perfectly capable people
  5. Carry too many books in my shoulder bag
  6. Pack my Swiss Army knife with 2GB flash drive tool in my carry-on
  7. Neglect the people I love
  8. Drink caffeine in the evening
  9. Put keys and phone in the same pocket
  10. Take words and phrases out of context
  11. Miss deadlines that cost me money
  12. Apply the second coat before the first coat is dry

What would you add if it were your list?

12 April 2011

So, women in France have had the freedom to choose their clothing taken away

Freedom for any must mean freedom for all.

Exercise of my freedom must not impinge on your freedom. Other than that, we should all be able to live peaceably together.

Other than going nude or wearing messages of hate, I can wear, or not wear, pretty much anything I choose.

Leaving domineering husbands and matters of national security aside, how would you feel if your government told you how you could and could not dress?

08 April 2011

One hell of a storm (Mark 4:35–41)

Chris Grantham's version of events from a Kiwi perspective If a breeze is blowing and you can hear sheep or cows, you'll have a better feel for the following . . .

Day’s over, night’s here. Jesus says to his mates, ‘Hey guys, let’s go across the other side, eh?’ So they took off, leaving the crowd in their wake, with the odd observer boat tagging along. They were out in the middle when one hell of a storm hit them. Water everywhere, and seemingly forgetting what side of the boat it was supposed to be on. Talk about sink – man, they were that close. While this went on, Jesus, believe it or not, was having a bit of a kip down the back. Well, his mates didn’t think too much of that, and shook him awake. ‘Listen boss,’ they said, ‘we’re about to drown and you give all the appearance of not giving a stuff!’ Jesus was rather unimpressed with that remark, and equally unimpressed with the weather. He got up, turned to face the elements, and quite simply said, ‘Shut up!’ And just like that, the wind did shut up. End of story. Turning to his mates, he said, ‘Well lads, now what do you say? Still don’t trust me?’ They sort of freaked out at that. ‘Good grief!’ they blurted out. ‘Who on earth is this guy? He tells the wind and waves and stuff what to do, and they do it.’ You've just read an extract from The Kiwi Bible. For more of the same, click the link above.

06 April 2011

No Lines; Just People

God doesn't see it this way –
I'm not talking about the lack of colour.
Nor am I referring to who's in the middle.

04 April 2011

Jesus is neither an -ity or an -ism.

More than 85% of the world’s population is part of a religion.

Could you carry on a conversation to find common ground with those of other faiths?

  • Baha'i
  • Buddhism
  • Christianity
  • Confucianism
  • Hinduism
  • Islam
  • Jainism
  • Judaism
  • Shinto
  • Sikhism
  • Taoism
  • Zoroastrianism
While I much prefer to talk about Jesus rather than Christianity, since I have no idea what others hear when I say the words Christian or Christianity, it is still useful to classify religious practice for purposes of study.

Religion can be like language though,

You can study a language, and never learn it.
You can learn a language without ever studying it.

Jesus is neither an -ity nor an -ism.

There is reasonable agreement among information sources about the total number of adherents of the world's largest religions. However, the data should not be considered precise. Some things cannot be measured precisely.

Major religions of the world ranked by number of adherents. (2005).
from http://www .adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

compare with www.Religious tolerance.org

01 April 2011

Different: an ambiguous word

Reading stacks on diversity right now and how it can generate creativity and grow global/cultural literacy.

Differences can be challenging AND enriching.

When have you found that to be true?