Archive / April, 2014

Doing Lunch

During the first few years of our marriage, my Beloved and I often visited family located in other states. On one visit to Kansas where his grandparents lived, his grandmother (Georgia) presented me with one of her prized possessions, the plate pictured below.2014-04-30 18.29.28

When she gave us the plate, I felt a bit sheepish about accepting it because she intimated there were others in the family who might be unhappy she’d bestowed this gift on her grandson and his (relatively new) wife. I believe she told us the plate had been a wedding gift when she married her husband Fred in 1915.

The plate has been in our possession for more than forty years through multiple moves. Only rarely have I used it for serving a small birthday cake or serving small delicacies for another special occasion. Most of the time, the plate has either been stored or displayed in a glass-front cabinet.

There are no markings on the plate, so I know little about it outside of its having been in Georgia and Fred’s care before it came to us. Is it china? I’m no expert, but if it is china, I tend to think it’s a somewhat crude example. More likely, it’s a porcelain product. Given that the couple were married in 1915, it is nearly a century old. Is it valuable? Who knows? As I said, I’m no expert! (But if the plate has monetary value, it isn’t safe with me. I’m more likely to accidentally break it … so don’t tell me!)

During the era when my Beloved and I were married, many couples had decided not to plunk down loads of cash for the formal china dinnerware previous generations had insisted upon. (We were one of those couples … practical and penurious.) Consequently, I’ve had very little experience with a fine china product; I’m definitely a stoneware gal. (My lack of experience with Noritake or Wedgwood is a deficit I’ve knowingly lived with all these years, but I confess, at times it makes me feel slightly barbaric. Perhaps that’s why my poetry below reflects a slightly passive-aggressive tone?)

With today being the final day for the 2014 iteration of National Poetry Month, I thought a piece of whimsy would be appropriate. (I started the month off with whimsy as well.)

Mexican plate lunch, plates, China, hot sauce, light verse, poetry, poem

Poem: China’s Finer

Sky Sometimes Falls

Wikipedia provides an interesting chart (pictured below) reflecting the status of alcoholic beverage sales by county throughout the United States. The blue counties are wet, the red counties are dry, the yellow counties are a mixture and both West Virginia and Louisiana are governed by local preference.

Alcohol_control_in_the_United_States.svg

The 75 counties in my state of Arkansas present a colorful tapestry of mostly dry counties mixed with a smaller number that permit alcohol sales and a couple others where beverage-sale schizophrenia reigns. After years of having the issue on ballots almost every election cycle, Benton County (just north of us and the home location for WalMart’s headquarters) voted in 2012 to become a wet county.

Few liquor stores are open on Sundays, but I happen to live near a small community where Sunday sales are permitted. I’ve always wondered about that. Do people wake on Sunday morning in a sudden panic because they failed to stock the beverage larder with enough brewskis to get them through until Monday? It’s just not a mindset with which I identify.

Sunday blue laws have a long history, not solely directed at prohibiting sales for alcoholic beverages but also designed to govern Sunday labor. However, a number of states with blue laws on their books no longer enforce those laws.

Many years ago (I’m guessing it may have been concurrent with one of the local wet/dry votes), I wrote this tongue-in-cheek verse. With National Poetry Month winding down, the poem presents a sardonic approach to the Chicken Little hysteria that often accompanied these votes.

I’m always amused when issues such as this one come up on the ballot. The proponents usually paint a glowing picture of all sorts of good that will come if what they consider a “bad law” is soundly defeated by the voters (and subsequently removed from the books). Likewise, those who hope to maintain the status quo paint a picture of far-reaching and awful ramifications to come if their desires don’t win the day. I suspect the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.

hysteria, liquor, blue laws, light verse, poem, poetry

Poem: Be Sober!

 

Zxcvbnm

Beginnings

My friend Joseph is, like me, keenly interested in family history. His interest, however, is much more highly motivated than is my hobby-based approach to beginnings. Joseph began his life (some forty-nine years ago) as an infant without a name or known family; he was placed in a blanket-lined basket and abandoned without explanation on the steps of a Chicago apartment building.Joseph Wood

I mentioned Joseph and I are friends, but I didn’t know his history. What I know about Joseph is that his broad, warm smile is a reflection of his broad, warm heart. When Joseph greets you, his generous manner communicates sincere attention about your life.

When I read Mike Masterson’s post, The Foundling in the Basket, I was immediately reminded of another infant in a basket … Moses. The parallels between Moses and Joseph K. Wood are noteworthy. Because the Egyptian Pharaoh feared that the Israelites were becoming too numerous, he ordered the boy babies of that time to be killed (thrown into the Nile River). But when Moses was born, his parents placed him into a basket and set the tarred/pitched basket into the river, stationing his older sister nearby to watch over the basket and young Moses.

Of course, God had a plan for Moses and eventually Moses grew up in the Pharaoh’s palace. (Read the story in the second book of the Bible, Exodus. It’s a good one!) In time, Moses would be God’s leader to shepherd the Israelites out of Egypt to their own land.

God also had a plan for Joseph Wood’s life. Even though he’d been abandoned as an infant, God provided adoptive parents and siblings to love and nurture him. Serving today as a Deputy Secretary of State for Arkansas, Joseph has experienced joy in his family and success in his career. In my view, he is to be greatly admired.

Let me suggest Joseph Wood also reflects qualities of his namesake, the biblical Joseph. Though the biblical Joseph led a charmed boyhood, being sold into slavery brought that idyllic experience to an abrupt end. Even in slavery, the biblical Joseph served his masters well and excelled, rising through the ranks to become the Pharaoh’s right-hand man. (This was a different Pharaoh from the one in Moses’ time.)

As with Moses, God had a plan for the biblical Joseph, part of which was to provide for the people of Israel when famine became widespread. Having been sold into slavery by his brothers, the biblical Joseph forgave them, saying:  “It was not you who sent me here, but God …” The biblical Joseph recognized God’s hand in his early suffering as well as in his high achievements in Egypt. The biblical Joseph had a complete and purposeful life in Egypt, serving in high government position, enjoying his family and the satisfaction of a job well done. But when his brothers came to Egypt seeking food (two decades after they’d sold Joseph into slavery), Joseph saw his life coming full circle. Questions were answered, relationships renewed and reconciled, hurts healed. In this instance, God had given Joseph an unexpected gift.

Like the biblical Joseph, Joseph K. Wood has risen to a high position in our state. (Who knows what lies ahead?) Masterson quotes Wood saying:  “God found and saved me in the beginning of life and continues to be with me through the journey.”

We’re often reminded (by psychologists and psychiatrists) that there are three key questions we want answered during our lifetimes:

(1) Who am I?
(2) Why am I here?
(3) Where am I going?

Like most of us, I suspect my friend Joseph has formulated clear answers to each of those questions. He lives a purposeful life, dedicated to God, his family and his community. As with the biblical Joseph in some respects, the hope Joseph Wood embraces is a means for completing the circle in his life, finding a full resolution of that first question, Who am I? As with the biblical Joseph, I pray God makes it happen.

Love That Will Not Let Me Go

It’s a week since we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus. I’ve been contemplating this amazing event all week, trying to look at the event through unjaded eyes. We have a tendency to celebrate the day and then move on through our lives … as if this pivotal event has relevance exclusively on Easter morning.

Think of it! Jesus died on Friday and was buried and numerous people who followed him went to the grave that Sunday morning, expecting to see his body still lying in that grave! But he wasn’t there!

ThePowerOfTheResurrectionWhere did they lay his body? Where have they taken him? Those were the queries of his followers. We flesh-and-blood humans aren’t so different even these many years later. Wouldn’t you have similar queries … wouldn’t I? His followers knew Jesus as flesh-and-blood and even though he had demonstrated he was God in the flesh, they viewed the crucifixion event as each of us would. It was final. Say goodbye to the dream.

Yet when the news came that Jesus had risen, many of them scoffed; they thought it was nonsense! After people who had seen the risen Lord reported it to the disciples, those witnesses were ridiculed. (Haven’t you heard? People don’t rise from the dead! Dead means dead!)

Except that for forty days after his resurrection, Jesus continued walking this earth. FORTY DAYS! Forty days during which he shared meals with his followers. Forty days during which he showed them the nail-scars in his hands and his pierced side. Forty days during which he comforted his followers, opened the whole of scriptures to help them understand the consistent message had always been there … and they’d been oblivious to it. Forty days during which he could bolster their confidence that he was who he said he was … and all of it was REAL!

I can imagine what it must have been like to wake up the Monday morning following the Resurrection. If I’d gotten any sleep at all, I’m guessing I’d wake up and be immediately flooded with memories of Friday and the terrible, awful images of Jesus hanging on the cross … or his dead body as it’s removed from the cross and hastily laid in a borrowed grave. But wait! My gradual wakefulness reminds me there’s more. The women say he’s alive! I pinch myself. Maybe I’m even like Thomas (doubting) who declares he won’t believe Jesus is alive unless he personally sees (and touches) the physical scars Jesus bore in his body.

When I awaken the next morning, these same reminders flood my brain. But there’s more! The eyewitness account has come of a couple walking along a road who meet a man they don’t recognize and he opens all the scriptures to them, explaining all that happened to Jesus was necessary according to scripture. He sits to eat with them and eventually they realize he is the risen Jesus!

Next morning, same thing. More stories of a corporeal Jesus appearing (sometimes out of nowhere) to his followers and teaching them and feeding them and loving on them. Followers are beginning to meet with each other and bring the news:  “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.”

But it takes time. The Good News has to sink in … Jesus is risen, it’s all real, it’s all true!

Eight days pass. Eight whole days of the disciples getting together and processing the truth before them. The doors were shut, clearly a private meeting. We don’t know what was said, but we have a pretty good clue their conversation centered around this amazing Resurrection event. And this time, Thomas is with them in the room. Though the doors have been shut, Jesus is suddenly standing in their midst. He quickly invites the doubter to press his fingers into the nail-scars and trace the scar in the Savior’s side!

When you wake up tomorrow morning, consider Thomas. It was eight days of hearing others talk about their encounters with the Savior. But for Thomas, touching those scars were proof. Jesus graciously stepped up to Thomas’ challenge. Touch me, friend. Know for certain who I am.

Even after this appearance and confirmation to Thomas (and the others), Jesus continues to walk among them, for another 32 days! Do you think their lives were affected by walking with the risen Lord that month? I certainly do. They had been his peers for the three years they’d shared with him … now they looked at him as “My Lord and my God” (as Thomas had declared after seeing the scars).

This is the love that will not let me go, the love that gives ALL (sacrificially) even though I don’t deserve it. This YouTube video also reflects how such love translates into action for an entire family and what an example of sacrificial love it is.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Im9_iAQhd5E[/tube]

No Plastic, Please

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been an incorrigible romantic. I suppose the first love of my life was my daddy. By the time I was in junior high, I’d experienced the usual pre-teen pangs of first love … and first heartbreak as well.

cartoon_couple_03_vectorMy first heartbreak was thoroughly distressing, but it didn’t sour me on romance … infatuation … puppy love … the possibility of loving someone so much I’d want to spend the rest of my life with him. Once I discovered matters of the heart, I spent countless hours reading about romantic love in hundreds of books, mostly fictionalized tales. I also read my share of historical fiction, tales based on historical figures but with plenty of fictional details meant to keep the story flowing and to “add interest.” (As if book publishers should have to be told the true stories are the best!)

I also watched many of the old films, films of the 40s and 50s and 60s where the hero eventually won his lady but not without some trials and missteps along the way. These appealing presentations from that long-ago time usually offered a comforting, underlying message:  true love was possible and happy endings were common.

These truisms took a beating beginning around 1970 when films like Erich Segal’s Love Story was released. The stereotypical happy ending became passé and “love” earned redefinition:  “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” (Arrgghh! How I hated that!)

In general, women are romantically inclined. We are relational and nurturing. I believe that’s how God made us. We thrive in company with one another. Again, I believe that’s how God made us. (No, I’m not suggesting men aren’t relational. Of course they are, but their relational needs are different than ours.)

I’ve posted about romance before (here‘s one and another). If you’re a culture-watcher (as I am) you’ve likely noticed how the concept of romance (whether reflected via films, on television shows or in observable relational interactions) has been stunningly redefined. Look at this interesting discussion from the online thesaurus to get a sense of how the concept of romance has been massaged away from its original understanding. (Some people might call it “progress.”)romance

I’m struck that the medieval concept included “chivalric adventure.”  It shouldn’t surprise us the definition grew to encompass “love story” elements. Yet the aspect of chivalry − courtly knight defending a lady and treating her with customary honor and deference − seems to have been chucked onto the dung heap of history.

[I know chivalry is a concept feminists rejected years ago. Without wishing to be argumentative, I don’t think they had any idea how bad a decision that was.]

In my view, God is the author and creator of this thing we call romance. I think his idea of romance is so much better than our weak concept. Long before there was a Romance language, God originated and understood our Love language. When sin came into the world, God performed the ultimate sacrifice of Love … dying himself to pay the price of our sin.

Sacrifice is one of the most important aspects of mature Love. Selflessness, too. But these qualities seem to be in short supply today.

Romantic comedies are a film genre that developed as a subset of popular films about 1989 When Harry Met Sally. Yes, I’ve watched a large number of rom-coms through the years. Yes, I’ve enjoyed their predictable plots and found it satisfying when the handsome male lead (with a winning smile) bumps into a disheveled female lead and they immediately despise each other. Yes, I know they’ll eventually wind up falling madly in love.

In more recent years, though, this formulaic presentation has become tedious for me. Why? Because I long-long-long to read/watch/see a truly chivalric adventure! Rather than a skin-on-skin insta-coupling after a passionate, twenty-minute “courtship,” I’d like instead to see (on the screen, in books, on television) relationships that build and become more beautiful with time.

Today’s sonnet expresses some thoughts about the rom-com genre. In a time when people are avoiding plastic (as a way to prove their earth-friendliness), why would they want to see it on the screen?

rom-com, romantic comedy, romance, to have, to hold, wedding bands, sonnet, poetry, poem

Sonnet: Rom-Com

Minimal Verse

Few words today
(I’m sad to say)
Beyond these six pathetic lines of verse.
I had no play
Just worked all day
And no more words than this could I coerce!

Egg-istential Art

Does anyone doubt that culture has entered its death spiral?!! Every time I read one of these stories, I’m reminded that — in the name of hipness, edgy “art” and avant garde pretension − we’ve descended into the absurd. Read about it here and here and here. I wish I could say this expression of “art” is horribly gauche, but it seems to have struck a chord with various news outlets.

Take a look at the video below and make up your own mind about it, but one warning:  some may find this video objectionable. YouTube has an age-restriction warning on their site.

[tube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKFZOIv5sS0&oref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DwKFZOIv5sS0&has_verified=1[/tube]

So what do you think? Did you find the video awe-inspiring? A deeply personal unveiling of femininity? According to the SLOG article by Kelly O., one author calls this demonstration an “an almost meditative art birth performance” full of “universal symbolism.”

(These comments are attributed by SLOG to a writer named Elaine Abrams at www.elaineblogs.com and while I did find a post on the Abrams blog referring to plop-egg painting, I couldn’t track down an Abrams post containing those aforementioned quotes. They are found in a Huffington Post article written by Katherine Brooks where they’re attributed − sort-of − to the video’s description. Which is it? Who knows?)

I am admittedly far too dense and lacking in femininity to fathom the deeply moving − an apt description? − significance of this daring new “art” form. However, in my own humble way, I have found the words to immortalize this “artistic” endeavor within a piece of verse. (Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to go and relocate my dignity!)

performance art, naked woman, dropping eggs, paint-filled eggs, poetry, poem, light verse

Poem: The Vagina Monol-eggs

Put On Your Sonnet Bonnet!

April isn’t over, so even though I haven’t mentioned it in recent posts, we’re still celebrating National Poetry Month!

NPM1Regular readers of my blog know my fondness for the sonnet form. Posts from July 30, 2010 and October 23, 2013 relate one of my goals was (is) to write one hundred sonnets. The earlier post mentioned that I’d originally set the goal to be accomplished in a single year. I fell short and decided it was more realistic to adopt this as a lifetime goal. (Phew!)

ASIDE:  For reader convenience, I’ve set up Wise Blood Galleries so readers may click right through to either my Sonnet posts or my Verse posts. (The galleries are available at the top of the Wise Blood Home page.)

The Redeemed Reader website is one I enjoy. With a primary focus on children’s literature, the writers of Redeemed Reader offer book reviews, interviews and a ton of other resources for cultivating a love of reading. Though my childhood is far in the past, I can still enjoy being a child at heart and their posts provide me with food for thought and enjoyment.

Truthfully, I wish I’d had this website as a resource back when I home-educated my kiddos. I consider their posts a gold-mine … I and my children would have cherished RR input way back when!

Imagine my delight when earlier this month Redeemed Reader announced their salute to National Poetry Month and challenged aspiring young poets to test their skill at the sonnet form! (The contest ends at midnight tonight.)

In addition to some helpful general instruction in the Shakespearean sonnet form (with links to other sonnets written by well-known poets), Redeemed Reader included a bonus … a link to a sonnet template as a helpful tool for beginning sonnet writers. This printable template unpacks the sonnet form for students (of all ages).

You don’t have to be an aspiring young poet (i.e. school-age) to try your hand at the sonnet form. Grab a copy of that RR template now, print it out and give it a whirl! Come on, you know you want to do it!

… Of course, I hope you’ll share your results here!

Dog Blog

People who know me quickly come to understand I’m not a dog lover. It is a fact of my life about which I’ve recently had some serious pangs of guilt. I believe all animals are God’s creatures. Because God created them, they deserve respect from humans. Almost every family that has a dog (or dogs) has ceded familial love to them. In principle, I get that.

However, when I married my husband, he was (like me) tender to animals in general but disinterested in the idea of family pets … at least for us. Neither of us cared for animals that bark, jump up and take liberties to lick you uninvited.

All that changed (for my husband, anyway) more than ten years ago when our son and daughter-in-law brought a puppy named Tank through the door. If you’d like to read this story in greater detail, I posted about it here.

More on my pangs of guilt in a minute, but I thought I’d temporarily shift into a semi-friendly mode and share this lighthearted poem about “my dog” which is a wholly fictional account. Written many years ago, I could only imagine what dog ownership might be like. This was the result.

dogs, mutts, dog tags, poetry, poem, light verse

Poem: Spot

In reality, Tank isn’t a mutt but a pure-bred Labrador Retriever. (The above picture of Tank with my husband is only added for visual interest.) Showing how long ago this poem was written, today’s license tags today surely exceeded the seven bucks threshold long ago.

Tank is an indoor dog. Because he’s a black labrador, he sheds stiff, thick black hair everywhere. We don’t allow him in areas of the house that are carpeted, but his shed hair still gets carried throughout the house! When he’s been outdoors, he’ll return with a layer of dirt and grime covering his coat. Consequently, wherever he lies down, the area will have a noticeable layer of dirt after he moves elsewhere. (This is like having the Charlie Brown character Pigpen living in my home!)

Tank’s dog bed is ensconced in my laundry room, so whenever I enter that room, I have to step over him, step over his large dog bed (which he only occasionally uses) and breathe what is (to me) dog air. [Don’t even let me start on the stench emanating from within my husband’s pickup truck where the dog often spends time. It’s awful!] I would be less than candid if I neglected to admit one time when Tank wandered off and was gone about a week, I felt sorry for my husband … while inwardly I rejoiced at the prospect of retrieving my laundry room for exclusive use as a laundry room!

Maybe I’m a baby, but can you sense the rationale behind my negative attitude? Those of you who are dog lovers, I understand if you don’t feel the same (or if you conclude I’m a creature from another planet). But can you see my side of things, if only a bit?

Back to my pangs of guilt, yes, I feel bad about my hostility to this four-legged creature. When I must sweep up the dirt and debris he leaves behind, my resulting resentment disgusts me. My heart accuses me of being an unfeeling beast! And there’s not a shred of denial because the pangs of guilt I feel are condemnation enough. But love? Nope, I don’t have it in me. Nada.

So today, as a means of penance, I tip my poetic pen to Tank the dog. If I ever wanted to have a dog, he’d be the one.

Who Likes Change?

Out with the old … in with the new?

heading-940-by-198.gifFor my subscribers, this blog is recognizably different than a week ago. My younger daughter, the Chatelaine of Raising Camelot, had grown tired of the blood platelet template. Because she’s talented and able to create the best designs, she went to work!

At the same time she set things up with a whole new look, we decided this would be a perfect time to move hosting from WordPress to an independent hosting site. We’re still pretty green in our understanding of how things work outside of WordPress (though I’ll continue to post using the WP user interface). Still, we have plenty of questions about the practical aspects of marriage between a self-hosted blog and the WordPress interface, so the next couple weeks will definitely be a learning experience.

If you’re a subscriber who has followed this blog via the WP web address wiseblooding.wordpress.com/ that’s been changed to http://wiseblooding.com/ Please make a note of the new web address for future reference. I hope subscribers will continue to receive email notification of new posts … but I’m not entirely sure.

For those of you who’ve made this leap before me, if you have any tips on navigating these unfamiliar waters, I’m all ears (eyes?). Please share your expertise.

Anyway, thanks for sticking with me thus far and I hope you continue as we launch into the unknown. I’d love to know what you think of the new look, too!

%d bloggers like this: