Friday, December 11

Do you know him?

I had to quit my little part time job working at a Korean owned after school academy so that I could go to Kentucky for the birth of my second nephew. So, I've been meaning to post this story for a while. I went in yesterday to pick up my last paycheck from there and remembered it:

Tony, a middle schooler who has been in the States for about a year or so, asked me one afternoon, after he found out that I lived in Korea for a while:

Do you know James? He lives in Korea.
(puzzled look on my face)

He's white.

(I start to open my mouth...)

He's a pastor.
Do you know him?

(I ask him if he knows his last name.)

He's married to a Korean.
He lives in Seoul.
Do you know him?

(I tell him that there are probably many white pastors named James who live in Korea and are married to Koreans. I want to tell him that not all white people know each other.)

He has two dogs.
He's kind of huge.
Do you know him?

(Tony is totally serious asking me this question, and he's pretty sure that if he gives me a few more pieces of information on this James guy, I'll end up figuring out who he is. Stories like this are one of the reasons I love teaching.)

Tuesday, December 8

When Death Comes by Mary Oliver

From New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver (Beacon Press, 25 Beacon St, Boston, MA 02108-2892, ISBN 0 870 6819 5).

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measles-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

one paragraph at a time: alliance

Found at one paragraph at a time:


“You have to make an alliance with your anguish,” he said,
“not wage war against it.” And I thought of all the fists
I had shaken at misfortune: games lost
because the shot clock ran out,
a good meal scorched in a forgotten oven,
money dropped on a dress worn only once,
the bully in 6th grade, the math test in 9th,
the wrong outfit at Halloween.
But of course, this isn’t what he meant.

If I were brave enough, I’d tell you how my heart
has raged for love, stretched thin as a high wire.
If I were brave enough, I’d tell you
how my body has been fighting to stay upright
on every precipitous downhill the city
throws at it. If I were brave enough,
I’d climb into your lap and weep with longing.
All I can say is that any attempt at beauty and hope
is land-mined with failure. And so the perilous
track-making begins. A certain blindness must necessarly
set it. Wending our way through darkness,
there are possible clutches at sunlight, at windows, at yes.
We are each of us inches from death.
We are each of us inches from life.
We are each of us inches from one another.

Friday, December 4

Holiday Shopping for Good

Last year about this time, I linked to the Advent Conspiracy.

Recently, I've come across some more links to share in the same spirit:
  • You can buy boots for a kid in North Korea for only $5 here.
  • You can check out the rating of stores you might shop at here to see if they are a company that actively prevents exploitation of workers.
  • You can check out the social and environmental responsibility of companies and brands here.
  • The Preemptive Love Coalition has unique shoes made in Iraq and t-shirts that help fund needed heart surgeries for kids in Iraq.
  • Better World Books is where I buy my books now. They're a certified B corporation. Find more companies like them here.

My Cards on Etsy!

I just set up a shop to sell my cards on Etsy!

I have holiday cards, other types of blank cards, and gift tags.

Monday, November 23

Chilly Morning: Aliso Beach

This morning
I watched a pelican
waiting a few feet above
the waves
then diving down
headfirst with intention
to snatch up breakfast in its beak.
Followed by a prayer skyward,
giving thanks
swallowing the meal waiting in the beak pocket.

A little time to ride the
wave of contemplation.
Just floating there.
Then that mighty thrust of its wings
to lift up above the waves
again into the air.
The creatures on the ocean -
so beautifully functional.
Reflectors of our creator's intention.

(Last week I went to a womens retreat near the beach. I woke up early for some solo beach time on Sunday and saw this.)

Saturday, November 21

the two nephews

Curtis Michael, my second nephew, was born just an hour after I arrived in Kentucky from L.A. on Wednesday evening. He came a few days early and the process was much faster than expected! I got here just in time to take Wesley, the two year old, from the hospital out to dinner. We didn't expect to have dinner end with a call from John Mark telling us the baby was already here!
I've spent most of my time with this two year old cutie. (Here he is in his lion suit from Halloween that he asks to wear almost daily.) He's saying so much, repeats the craziest things, and cracks me up.

Wednesday, November 11

Veteran's Day Prayer

On this day, we remember the peace accord that brought the First World War to a close. And as we honor and thank military veterans around the world for their service, we also remember those who have suffered great physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage as a result of such service, and we pray for their restoration. Moreover, we yearn for that day when swords will be beaten into plowshares, and we will make war no more. May it come to pass, Lord, and soon.

(From Sojourners)

Tuesday, November 10

Over the Rhine. I'm in love with you again.

Colin and I went to see Over the Rhine on Saturday night at the Largo. They were amazing, as usual. The trio that opened for them - Katie Herzig - was also amazing (and you can download her acoustic album here until the 15th for free!).

I've gone to see Over the Rhine three times now and each time I am more in love with them and their music. This time it was even better to get to share it with my love. As we were leaving, I heard the girl behind me say on the phone to a friend "If you want to know me, you have got to appreciate Over the Rhine" and Colin said "You didn't tell me they were so good live!"

They even played our song (the song that Colin proposed to me with) as one of the encore songs, which sweetened the deal a whole lot.

Monday, November 9

Halloween...just a few weeks overdue

It was Colin's idea to be cowboy and cowgirl on Halloween. He got boots and a hat from Goodwill. I got a $5 hat from H&M and everything else was not so much a costume but my natural Texan self. I was happy that we got to carve a pumpkin and do a little trick or treating with Colin's college friends and their 2 year old. Then we went to a party down the block. They had decorated every square inch of their house for Halloween and had two tables full of spooky treats!

Wendell Berry is my hero

The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

by Wendell Berry

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won't compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion - put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn't go. Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front" from The Country of Marriage

copyright © 1973 by Wendell Berry

found here

Monday, October 12

No Impact Week

Have you read about No Impact Week? It's starting on Sunday and it reminds me of things I want to be improving on. There's a downloadable guide here.

I've been driving way more than is healthy for the environment or me and I feel really wasteful, but it's hard not to just follow those patterns of consumption living in the suburbs of a huge city with people and places all spread out and no real option for public transportation. So, I'm going to try to re-think a few things to see how I can be less of a consumer.

I am taking a few steps:
  • I asked if our small group could use real plates and silverware instead of disposable ones. I volunteered to put them in the dishwasher and then put them away afterwards.
  • I use re-usable bags when I go to stores. (I've been doing this for a while, but I just started carrying a small bag in my purse to always be prepared!)
  • I started carrying around a stainless steel container instead of using the styrofoam ones for leftovers at a restaurant. I haven't actually used it yet, though.
  • I've been to three local Goodwills in the past week for furniture and dishes to get set up for the new apartment. I also got a few bottles I plan on using as centerpieces for the wedding.
I'd love to hear ways that you are being good to the environment! I've got a long way to go.

Saturday, October 10

a month already!

Wow. I can't believe I've been in California for a month! Sorry about not actually living up to my promises of updating this more often.

I don't have a lot to show for this month that's passed, but here's what's going on. I got a part-time job tutoring math at a Korean owned after school academy. Next week, I'm going to also be teaching English language learners debate. That should be fun! I realized one day as I was helping a kid solve a math problem that I was really happy to be working. It gives me a little structure and makes me feel useful.

I volunteer at the church one afternoon a week. One of my regular tasks is to update the photo section of the website. The first time I tried, I thought I almost shut the website down, but it turned out to be OK.

A few weekends ago, I swam and ran in the Oasis Aqua Run! The day after I got here, a friend of mine asked me to do it with her, so I had two weeks to get ready. It was fun and felt so good to finish.

Last Friday, I went with two friends to the beach, which was great. That night, I went to Big Bear Lake in the mountains! That's a Texas girl's dream - to go to the beach and mountains in the same day.

This week, I've been getting a little stressed about wedding stuff. I was spending a good amount of time looking for another job, but this week I decided I was going to focus on wedding stuff until at least the invitations go out. Argh. It's more work than I thought it would be and I have become a different person than the normal laid-back Lela who lived in Texas. Hopefully I can return to my former self at some point in the future.

Wednesday, September 16

The Amazing Road Trip ends: Hoover Dam and Las Vegas

On Saturday, we drove to Hoover Dam on the way to Las Vegas. I suggested it since my Dad had talked about touring it earlier this year and Colin kept telling me what an engineering marvel is.

We took a tour of the insides. It was pretty huge and impressive.

They're building this bypass bridge, which Colin volunteered to hold up for a while.

On to Las Vegas, where we spent the last afternoon and evening of our road trip. Colin won about $25 on the slot machines "teaching" me to play. (I contend that he only left that much ahead because I encouraged him to take the money and run.)

He used his winnings to pay for part of our yummy buffet at the Wynn that night. We ended our evening in front of the Bellagio watching a famous fountain show, which was a perfect end to a wonderful trip!

(If you want to see all the pictures I took, you can go to my Picasa site.)

The Amazing Road Trip: The Grand Canyon

We got to watch two sunsets at the Grand Canyon: from Hopi point the first night and Yavapai the second night.

In between those two sunsets, we did a little stargazing, slept at Bright Angel Lodge, took a short guided fossil walk (you can see some really cool fossils right off the rim trail!) and hiked down a few hours into the canyon on the Kaibab trail to Ooh Ah Point and Cedar Ridge.

The Grand Canyon is truly amazing! No words or pictures can describe the feeling of standing on the edge of it and looking into what seems to be forever.

The Amazing Road Trip: Sedona and Palatki

Thursday, we made the beautiful drive from Flagstaff to Sedona. It turns dramatically from forest into expansive red rock formations. I'd heard about Sedona before, but didn't realize how beautiful it would be.

We visited the Palatki Indian Ruins found in the cliffs of red rock. It's staffed by volunteers who tell you what you're seeing at each site. There are remnants of dwellings and rock art on the cliffs.The weather was perfect - sunny turning into overcast with a surprise thunderstorm as we were hidden in the cliffs. When we drove back through Sedona, we realized we'd just missed a flash flood!

We drove to the Grand Canyon Thursday night, making it just in time for in the next post.

The Amazing Road Trip: Saguaro and Lowell Observatory

Wednesday, we went to Saguaro National Park.

It was an interesting contrast to the day before because in Carlsbad, we didn't want to touch the formations because it would hurt them. At Saguaro, we didn't want to touch the cacti because they would hurt us. Colin and I both got a few pricklies in us before we got out of there.

We were excited to see this one, because we'd seen one on a postcard before we went in the park. Colin apparently likes the thumbs up sign a lot.

We got so carried away (okay, we probably got a late start too) at Saguaro that we just barely made it to Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff (what a great city! a nice cool break from the heat earlier in Tucson) before they closed. When we got there, it was just clouding over, so at first we couldn't see anything. But right before they closed, the clouds in front of Jupiter cleared up and we saw Jupiter and her four moons through two different telescopes. We could even see the stripes on the surface. We also got to see the Andromeda Galaxy, which I think they said is the farthest thing the human eye can see. Amazing! I think Audra recommended this place. Very much worth it.

The Amazing Road Trip: Carlsbad Caverns

On Tuesday, we were sent off early in the morning by my parents with omelets, biscuits, and coffee. We made it to Carlsbad Caverns in time for a picnic lunch before we met our tour in the cavern.

Colin had signed us up for a tour of the lower cave. We donned gloves and headlamp helmets then went down a rope and three ladders to get there.

We were instructed to stay between the orange tape to keep from disturbing too many of the cave formations.

We were told this tour is one of the few where you can see cave pearls, which are formed around bits of sediment or bones.

I took my little camera and the only light we had was the light on our headlamps, so the pictures aren't all that great, but if you're ever at Carlsbad, I recommend this guided tour!

After our tour, we drove through El Paso to Deming, NM where we spent the night.

Tuesday, September 15

The Amazing Road Trip begins: Austin goodbyes

Colin flew to Austin to drive with me back to California. We looked at possible wedding places, had last minute goodbyes with friends and got packed up and ready to go.

We had dinner with Carolyn and Suzanne at Korea House. Yum.

Coffee at Dominican Joe's with my cousins Audra and Sarah. Colin's in the background working on Sarah's computer. Sarah sang his praises after that.

While Colin was researching places for our road trip (he planned an awesome itinerary for our trip), he found out that barbecue in Lockhart is not to be missed. So, we drove out there on Friday night.

Sunday I had a last hurrah at Mimi's house for people to stop by and Monday morning we packed the car and drove to Abilene to see my parents before heading further west.

I've been busy unpacking, organizing, finding my way around this place, and applying for jobs, but I finally got all the pics uploaded! So, I'll post the pics from Tuesday through Saturday tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 1

getting ready to say goodbye

I'm jobless, but plenty busy lately because I'm getting ready to move to the L.A. area! Colin and I decided that it was probably a good idea to at least live in the same city before we tie the knot. So, he's coming in tonight to stay a week and we're gonna head towards the West coast sometime next week. In the meantime, we hope to find a place to get married (still haven't set the date), meet for a few pre-marital chats with my pastor, and say goodbye to Austin friends for a while.

I've started the packing and saying goodbye process, but I don't think it's really hit me yet. The other day I told my friend that I wouldn't be able to go to some show in September because I'll be "out of town."
I finally went to Flip Happy Crepes with my cousin Sarah. It was delicious. And, they have really amazing cold brew coffee. Have you tried cold brew coffee? It was so nice that I thought it had sugar in it!

The Smothers brothers and me at Chez Zee for brunch on Sunday. Such a lovely place! Since it was under 100 degrees outside and such a warm festive feel on the inside, we felt like it was the holidays already.

Besides packing, I just finished reading this love story, which is almost as addicting as the Twilight series, trying to finish the books I have borrowed from friends and the library before I go, plus I just started P90x (bought it for less on ebay!) and have an ever lengthening to-do-before-I-go list. I might be staying too busy on purpose to keep myself from thinking about how I really need a job and am a little scared to move to California, but I don't know.