Sunday, December 31, 2006

Tomorrow is now. (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Stay tuned for my end of the year wrap-up (I spent hours on it yesterday, in between helping the hoardes of children at the library.) (Kidding--we were so quiet, not a creature was stirring, except for the fish.)

But for your laughter and mine, I give you the last laugh of 2006. Thanks to Babelbabe, over there at Behind the Stove.

Since her post is a clear "Show and Tell" (a picture with a story), it gives me the opportunity to announce that Show and Tell has returned! Blackbird dubbed me the Queen of Show and Tell (it was my Christmas wish) and we'll be starting back up...this Thursday. I don't have a topic yet, so if you have a picture you are dying to share with the Internets, drop a line in the comments or email me. We'll have a topic by Tuesday, I promise!

Happy New Year, n'at!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

My store is closing this week. I own a store. Did I ever tell you that? Probably not. It's a lovely store --

(Meg Ryan as Kathleen Kelly, in You've Got Mail)

My Fox books closed today. I was there when it happened. This is where I would tell you how it was my first bookstore job, how I ended up working for the company for seven years, in three different stores.

But right now I don't feel like writing that post.

What happens when the going gets tough? The tough go shopping. So, I needed shoes and so I went next door to Burlington Coat Factory. I also got a new purse and a hat, which I sort of needed.

And I have dinner in the microwave.

Well, more on that later. I promise. Cause this is the stuff blogs are made of: talking about books and bookstores, and SHOES!

Oh, but here's the good news: Mike, Vince, and Bob all have jobs! They'll be going to Waterworks, Monroeville, and Squirrel Hill, respectively.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sarah Louise cleans her desk for the end of the year

WOW! It's unbelievable (well, believable) how much stuff I have on my cart.

Today I let go of the extra flyers for last summer's Mother Goose Storytimes, the Stuffed Animal Sleepover, notes from stuff, emails I printed out for some odd I'm down to the pile of "Stuff I think I should read."

A note I wrote, "scary books above Goosebumps and below Cirque du Freak."

Two birthday cards. One says, "Hi! I'm the BIRTHDAY CHICKEN!" (inside) "I'm here to lay another one on you!" Well, I gotta keep that one--everyone knows that Sis and I love chickens!!

An issue of School Library Journal from August 2005, about Blogomania. Okay, nothing new there. My boss isn't ready to let me add a blog to our kids webpages. (TOSS!)

A magazine with a business card attached--a woman who came and interviewed kids for an article about teachers--she got my permission to talk to my Mother Daughter girls. Keep the business card, TOSS the magazine!

Three surveys filled out by Mother Daughter girls, to determine what they've read, what kind of books they like to read. I could create a spreadsheet...file.

Dewey and the Alien (who knows where I got this?)

100 We think about ourselves
200 We think about where we came from (religion)
300 We try to get along with others (social studies)
400 We try to communicate with others (languages)
500 We try to understand the world around us (natural science)
600 We try to make nature useful (applied science)
700 We have fun (leisure, games, songs, art)
800 We write stories and poems (literature)
900 We learn about where we are and where we want to go and about our past (geography, history)

000 We learn about everything! (general works)

An invoice for CD-ROMs: file.

An old pay stub--file at home.

Two catalogs for CD-ROMs: file.

A report on CD-ROMs in my collection: file, and make a note to request an updated one.

Some printed from the Internet articles. Toss, toss, toss, keep.

A note: "cartoonnetwork on kid's site--get them in the door." (keep as a reminder to add more sites to our kidspages)

etc. etc. etc.

Things I'm keeping to read later:

The Media Family: Electronic Media in the lives of infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their parents.

An article about DOPA which gives internet safety tips for teens

An article about FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records).

My primary care doctor is in my department, wandering around!

Now, the file drawer...where papers go to die.

I keep way too much stuff...

Thursday, December 28, 2006

This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions? (updated)

This is my brain on a hormonal hiatus--it happens once a month: I have a few days where higher math (or original cataloguing) is just not a possibility.

So this is what I do: I do security tags on books, I sort titles by Dewey #, and when my brain can take no more, I go upstairs, where the books are.

Tonight I have brought back these gems:

The Queen of the Big Time (audio on CD!!) by Adriana Trigiliani. I love her Big Stone Gap books but have never been able to read any of her others. Audio books are the way for me to either fall in love or nix this kind of a book. (The kind that doesn't immediately grab me--this is how I got entwined in the Harry Potter series.)

Confessions of a Slacker Wife by Muffy Mead-Ferro, which I actually picked up because I thought Babs might like it. Let me know!

Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler, read by Blair Brown. This I've already heard, it's insurance in case Adriana doesn't satisfy.

Beauty Queen: Here she comes... by Elissa Stein. It's a history of pageants and it has lots of pictures. Just right for the frame of mind I'm in...I want to be sitting by a pool with a piña colada, por favor...

And just when you thought you had me pegged, a book I snagged from the withdrawn pile:

2002 Index of Economic Freedom, put out by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal. This is so cool. It lists the GDP, whether it is free or not. Albania, for instance, is mostly unfree. Of course, we in the U.S. of A. are free. Well, we wrote the book, didn't we? Now, mind you, this book is three years old, but here we have Congo, formerly Zaire. Suspended!

The time has come, the time is now, Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now?

YES! We are closing down shop and going HOME!!

update: Friday morning

Some audio books weren't meant to be listened to again: Peace Like a River and Back when we were grownups are two. And I adore adore adore Adriana T., but that book (see above) is more boring than boring. So it's back to square one with the audio books. Thankfully I go back to work today.

Audio books that go the extra mile (and listen):
The Nanny Diaries read by Julia Roberts
Sahara Special read by Mrs. Huxtable, whats-her-real-name...
Good to Great read by Jim Collins, my hero!!
and of course, my namesake's book: Jacob Have I loved read by Moira (the chick from that ice skating movie, The Cutting Edge)

Gotta go! Still have not unpacked...I want to go to the Cheswick Goodwill and find something snazzy to wear on New Year's Eve...

Monet, Cassat...and Sarah Louise

You Are Impressionism

You think the world is quite beautiful, especially if you look at it in new and interesting ways.

You tend to focus on color and movement in art.

For you, seeing the big picture is much more important than recording every little detail.

You can find inspiration anywhere... especially from nature.

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day

...nor the pestilence that walks in darkness; nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday. (Psalm 91:5-6)

Last night, I pulled into Ligonier just as it was five o'clock. So I missed visiting the shops I love, which all close at 5 p.m. But I went into the library to use their bathroom and to look at their Children's Department, as I always do. I picked up some booklists. A librarian was standing at the front desk, putting bookplates into books. I approached her and said that I was driving through and did she know of any uncomplicated places for dinner? She recommended two. I also told her how I was sad to have missed the shops and she mentioned the Holiday Home Store, which stayed open later, but unfortunately was also going out of sale. We chatted a bit longer, and I told her that I was a librarian. She knew of my library, as her mother is a director of a library in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. I thought of giving her my name and asking hers but I decided against it. I went out, in search of the first diner she'd mentioned, which was within walking distance.

Now, one thing that is different about Ligonier at five p.m. in the summer and in the winter is that in the winter, it is dark. Ligonier being a cute small town, this didn't bother me too much.

The diner the librarian recommended only took cash. Luckily, they stated this in a sign on their window. I had been traveling without cash. So, I thought, I could go to the ATM. In the meantime, I went into the Holiday Home Store and found two ornaments. As the store is going out of business, they were both 25% off.

I then walked to my car, pondering whether I wanted to go to the ATM, or just get in the car and see where the other place was that the librarian had recommended. A man was standing by the parked cars by the library and I thought he was a police man at first, putting tickets on the windshields. Surely my hour (for a quarter dollar) hadn't run out yet. He tried to catch my eye and I tried to avoid him. He approached me, and that is when I got in my car. But not before he engaged me in conversation. He was a tall man with a beard and a blue hat. Up close, I could see that he was indeed not a policeman and I noticed that he appeared a little ragged. He asked me if I wanted to go to dinner--the tavern was having a Mexican spread and Ruth's Diner was having a spaghetti dinner. No, I said, I'm just passing through. I had the car door in front of me, as a shield between us. He handed me a piece of paper. It was a tract. At some point he had asked me my name and I had lied, saying it was Sally. Sally, this is information about our Savior, and on the back it has a unique prayer. I hated that I had told him my name, even though it wasn't my name, that he thought he could just use it in conversation, like those spam emails insert your name in the subject line. I said, I already believe in this, as I tried to hand it back to him, and he said, just pass it on. He wanted to know what church I went to and named a few in Pittsburgh. No, I go to the Open Door. Well, fortunately, he hadn't heard of us, and somehow I disengaged myself from this conversation and closed the car door, turned on the car, and bolted out of Ligonier, hungry and creeped out.

I drove and drove and drove, into the darkness, making sure there were miles and miles between myself and this man. I replayed the scenario in my mind, thinking, was this an angel unawares? Was he a harmless lonely man and should I have been more sensitive?

I was haunted. I couldn't let go, replaying the scene in my mind. Finally, as I sat at a Sheetz in Norwin, I called my family to let them know I was still on the road. My mom said, well, call us when you get home.

"Can I run something by you?"
"Sure, honey."

So I told her about the man in Ligonier and how I had made sure the car door was a shield between us and how I had left Ligonier and not turned back but how I was haunted.

"You did the right thing, honey."

Relief flooded me. But how I wish I had a tape recording of my mother saying those words and the words she said after that, encouraging me (giving me courage) and saying that that was stalker behavior. That a person with real intent to evangelize to me would not have violated my personal space, a woman alone at night by her car.

As I write this, I am struck that evangelize has a root in the Greek, which means good news. This man was the opposite--this man was bad news. Harmless he may have appeared, he haunted me all the way home and even this morning when I awoke I couldn't shake the feeling of violation.

Now, perhaps you are reading this and thinking, for crying out loud, Sarah Louise, he did not try to rape you! Give it up and get over it.

But here's the thing: I have a weakness for men. While this man was in no way attractive to me, I have dated men that have violated my personal space in ways that I should have had shields for. If only I had held them at an arms length, with a car door between us for a shield. So while this event did not end tragically, it opened a bag in my closet of all the memories of shame from the past. Reminding me that I have been in worse shape than that before, and that I willingly let these other men into my life.

I get emails from Christianity Today, focusing on women, or the workplace, or books. Today an article caught my eye, called "Remembering to forget." That is what I need! I thought. Although the article did not have any information about how to forget things that had happened to you, things that triggered past shame, this one sentence was helpful:

Satan would lure us to live in guilt and fear. He pulls us into the shadow boxes of memory, in which our worst sins replay on the walls of our minds, flickering with their shameful power …

Which is what has happened. I have been robbed of a few hours in the car and an hour of this morning, haunted by this non-event that happened last night around 5:45 p.m.

The sun is up, and I should go for my walk. Do you know that I couldn't even listen to the throaty voice of Bono this morning, as he sang about this being "The Real Thing." I needed a woman to calm my spirits, so I listened to Shawn Colvin.

In Brent Curtis and John Eldredge's heartbreaking book The Sacred Romance, these moments are called Arrows. There is something that "lays siege to us in...darker hues and brings to it a foreboding that sometimes nags at the edges of out consciousness even on the most sunlit morning. Something fearful stalks us."(14)


Lilly just called--she's back home! (She broke her leg before Thanksgiving and was staying at her brother's while she recovered.) We're having dinner tomorrow, hurrah!

***** (11:51 am)

Well, I feel better. I had a walk and even ran into Babs! My dream of getting to work early so I could leave early is not to be...unpacking will have to wait...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Today started out as one of THOSE days. Days when I wish I was graceful and could let things float gracefully, like water off a duck's back.

Hmm, shall we start with the 7 am awakening to clean out my car to get it ready for the new CD player? (NOT LOOKING THE GIFT HORSE IN THE MOUTH)

Or that the drive home from Circuit City is a straight shot down Rte. 7, so I didn't notice that MY TURN SIGNALS WEREN'T WORKING until I pulled on to my parent's street?

Luckily, Sis let me vent, as both my parents are not the allowing you to vent type. Cause, in truth, it's a pretty amazing gift.

And when I finally got the car back to CC, the guy immediately worked on my car and fixed it within twenty or so minutes.

We had lunch with my aunt and cousin at at Latin American restaurant in the District (if you're cool, that's what you call it.) I had a chimichanga which was devoid of goopy sauces--I was ever grateful! My dad for the 6,000th time tried to remind my brother that he could put "Time Person of the Year for 2006" on his resume. Have not yet seen said issue, as it was potentially stolen or lost in the mail (my sister has a subscription.)

My dad said, "Make sure you check out the mural," as I left the table to go to the ladies room. "The one in the ladies room?" I quipped. Which, I must say, had everyone rolling. It's rare that I can one-up my dad on a joke--you gotta take the opportunities when they come...

My bro got me the U2 singles CD, which now resides in my car and will take me for my first leg north. I plan to lunch in Berkeley Springs and make it to Ft. Ligonier by 4ish--I adore their shops!! I'd love to get to Ligonier by 3:30, as they have many lovely shops, but that might be pushing it...

Parting is such sweet sorrow...up til today I was thinking, get me back to Manhattan (I mean Pittsburgh) but this evening I got to bask in my parent's cable (TBS, how I love thee) and chill with the sibs. They are the coolest people I know. Truly. We all shared beers and just hung out. My sister is going to Miami for her 25th (woo hoo) birthday and so I lent her a bathing suit and for her birthday gave her a book called Washed Up (about flotsam), as a token reminder of our beach walk in South Carolina over Thanksgiving. Then I showed her my new favorite French import, I Love, and I read her excerpts from the bio I just finished reading of the first lady. I was grateful that we could just chill.

Bro got a haircut--he looks like one of the Beatles in the early (I wanna hold your hand) years. We had turkey a la king for supper and I, trying to be all suave, said, "Mother, the turkey is kingish" and it became one of those phrases passed around the table and made into an indie rock band's name, we were all howling with laughter.

After dinner, Bro gave us some after dinner music from the Godfather of Soul, the recently departed James Brown. My mother nor my aunt knew who he was until today. (Is it obvious they lived a sheltered life???) Meanwhile, at breakfast, it was revealed that my father's hometown, Hackensack, NJ, is now oft called Crackensack. But I love Hackensack, and that song...

Sunday after church I spent way too much money at the Columbia Baptist Church Bookstore. I used to volunteer there when I was a regular at Columbia five years ago, when I lived in Virginia. But some of the books I knew I wouldn't see again or be able to get via Inter-Library Loan, so...I'll do a book list later.

Currently working my way through An alphabetical life, which is about a woman's journey through bookstore jobs. As a former Fox Books employee and a current librarian, it is ambrosia to just sink into reading it. (Fox Books is a pseudonym for my former employer, taken from the movie You've Got Mail, which I may need to watch this week before the original flagship store closes in downtown Pittsburgh...)

I guess that's enough of an update...all attempts to socialize upon my return tomorrow night to da Burgh seem to have fallen through, but I shall carry on. It's a week where folks are either: out of town, visiting family, in town, visiting with family and friends, carrying on with regularly scheduled programming, or out of town. Did I mention out of town? Anyways, this time tomorrow, I'll be back in town and you know I'll be happy!! (Dancing the Snoopy dance, most likely.)

Oh, and this just in: Gerald Ford died at 93. May he rest in peace. (So we're waiting for #3: James Brown, Gerald Ford, and ______________.)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Hard Candy Christmas...

I love this song by Dolly Parton, although until this year I thought it was "heart candy.'' I guess I just go for the sad Christmas songs.

Fine and Dandy
Lord it's like a hard candy christmas
I'm barely getting through tomorrow
But still I won't let
Sorrow bring me way down

We had a lovely morning of opening presents. My mother got an acre of land in Africa and a bunch of native plants planted in a nature preserve in the Poconos. (Where we were this past summer--maybe I'll link this up later.)

I got Friends Season Three and my brother got Season Two of the Simpsons. My sister got The Little Mermaid on DVD, the first movie she ever got on VHS.

A quote from Dad: "They're Goldilocks pears in the sense that they're just right." (I'll leave pear eating to the rest of them...)

We are within moments of going to my cousin's for a holiday meal. It's raining here.

Merry Christmas, n'at!!

Tomorrow I get a CD player installed in my car, WOO HOO!!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

it's the winter lull

So I took a nap and even had dreams.

I started to read the Thirteenth Tale and can see that I won't be finishing it--it just doesn't grab me.

But I'll share some cool quotes:

"People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic." (p. 17)

And this, which gives me permission to give up this book: "There is one thing on which we are agreed: There are too many books in the world to read in a lifetime; you have to draw the line somewhere. (p. 29)

Home is where the heart is...

So I'm at the homestead in Falls Church, Virginia. This computer is weird and keeps asking me if I want to update AIM and Dell stuff and the keyboard is loud...

But it's good to be here. Mom and I went to TJ Maxx and I found SHOES! So now I have "Sunday" shoes--I'm still looking for day to day flats. (Oh, and I got a pair of New Balance walking shoes, too.)

We also stopped by her school and she showed me the rain gardens and special habitats. Ever heard of bio logs? They're filled with coconut shells (porous) and grass seed and you put them on stream banks to prevent erosion.

I dropped my dry cleaning at the $1.85/item place, woo hoo! (If we have one in Pittsburgh, I've yet to find it.)

I still have to wrap everyone's gifts. And I haven't officially gotten my dad's gift, but I'll make him a ''raincheck.'' (It's been a super busy season--you try to go to the chiropractor's three times a week AT CHRISTMAS!) I do have something to wrap for him, too, though, so it will be okay.

I think I'm ready for a nap!

Driving last night was wicked--thankfully all the yinzer's were going from DC to Pgh, so traffic wasn't bad, but rain was torrential and there were about 10 minutes of fog where I could not see at all! So I put on my hazards and drove at about 30 to 40 mph.

Oh, and gas down here--cheap! I saw $2.23 at one place. (In Pgh the best price is $2.35.)

Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

(Oscar Wilde)

I don't really keep a diary anymore. But I do carry a notebook in my purse, and it came in handy this morning when I found myself at the chiropractor's with nary a book in my hand and no interesting magazines.

I mostly use my notebook to write quotes I like and sermon notes.

Some quotes I like:

This book is about the songs my friends and I are singing. (p. 239, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller)

Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way. (p. ix, BLJ)

This is a verse that Beth Moore highlighted for us in our Patriarchs Bible study:

I am your shield. I am your very great reward. (Genesis 15:1, NIV) A friend was going through a hard time and I text messaged that to her right away.

Notes on the next page:

how can I?
God took him outside.
2nd mention of stars in the Bible.
Count them if you can.

This is of course, Abraham asking God, how can I have a child at my late age and God saying, watch me!!

From The Myth of You and Me (which I wanted to like, but in the end could not)
"While my friends went to high school together, I was set adrift again with noone but my family, three passengers on a dirt sea." (p. 19)

I have notes from Doug Pagit's talk on the Emergent Church--here's something I want to read more about: Dow Chemical working with Earth First. "We will work with anyone who wants to work with us and that doesn't mean we won't critique what they do with the water." It's a quote I think from Earth First that DP got off

He talked here about collaborative vs. competive and I brought up the Union Station Cafe and Tazza D'Oro. The UP is run by Mennonites--so DP countered, "what, are the Moravians next, in cutting edge?" I looked at Moravian College but in the end did not apply. It was one of the Allentown/Bethlehem college visits. What I remember most about the whole trip was that my hostess at Muhlenberg had Mademoiselle magazine, which I read, and that her roommate was having an affair with a professor.

More notes:

God initiates all relationships (also Beth Moore.)

I just got offered a chance to leave early. I'll clean this up later.

Merry Christmas, All!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

This just in... (updated with photos of Rte. 8!!)

The seventh Harry Potter book will be entitled Harry Potter and the Deathly Gallows.

The Pens are off the market and Lemieux is considering taking the Pens away from the Burgh (say it isn't so!)

Four lanes for Christmas--I think so! The Mae West Bend at Rte. 8 is almost done--I'll post pix when I get home tonight.

Look, there are cars on the South and Northbound lanes! (I'm northbound.)

Look at the rest of the Norhtbound lane, being readied for two lanes in one direction...

The lack of machinery and construction men--it makes my heart go pit a pat...

Look!! Road that will be part of two lanes in the SAME direction!!

Yes, my geek flag is flying high tonight. But hey, when it's the road you travel to work 90% of the time, it makes a HUGE difference!!

Oh, and I was stopped in traffic--I did not take pictures whilst in a MOVING car. Since we're still one lane each way, I was able to take four pictures whilst we were STOPPED.

Back to your regularly scheduled lives...

Holiday entertaining--the slow week, (note to self)

No pity party here, but next time I think of having an Open Door get-together the week in between the holidays, remind me that EVERYONE WILL BE OUT OF TOWN!

Alas, at least with an evite, folks can say they might be interested in getting together once they get back.

As you were...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Fa la la la la la la la

Yes, SL is going bonkers. It is quiet here at the library and I'm going bonkers. I haven't been feeling the Christmas thing so much this year and I want to be in the thick of things at Fox Books, helping grandmothers get boxed sets of Harry Potter for their grandchildren...

I did help a lady get some audio books for her daughter, but it is QUIET HERE. I want Christmas music, I want hustle and bustle, I know I am crazy!!

I scored two VHS tapes at the library store this morning: In Love and War (Sandra Bullock plays the nurse Hemingway falls in love with during WWI) and Up Close and Personal (Michelle Pfieffer is a broadcast journalist, also stars Robert Redford.) I also got a fun book for Sis and me to giggle over when I go home--How to be Well Dressed by Joan O'Sullivan. It's from 1963. (I had to use the Roman Numeral Converter to figure out the date...)

How to be well dressed features advice such as: "An umbrella is an umbrella is an umbrella...color is all-important....Pink and most shades of red are beautifying, too, for they make your face reflect their rosy glow." (Their favored color for umbrellas: white.)

Happy Birthday #3!!

Today is also my brother's birthday. He's 24. He's home for Christmas, yay!

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum...the Christmas song meme

From Days Go By...

1. I wonder as I wander: this breaks my heart every time I hear it.

I wonder as I wander out under the sky
How Jesus the Saviour did come for to die
For poor on'ry people like you and like I;
I wonder as I wander out under the sky

It's featured in Jacob Have I loved, which is the book from whence Sara Louise comes. (Yes, I added the h at the end of Sara, to differentiate us.)

2. Do You Hear What I hear?: I love all the parts of this one, how it goes from the night wind all the way through the ranks to the king.

3. Silver Bells (I'm a city girl, through and knew that!) Plus, it's on the Bing Crosby White Christmas album, which is heavily played in the Louise household.

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks.
Dressed in holiday style
In the air
There's a feeling of Christmas

4. A la nanita nana (who knew the Cheetah girls did this?) from a Columbian Christmas album--this song is hardwired into my brain and it's not Christmas if I don't hear it at least once.

5. Pacabel Canon (which isn't really a Christmas song, but at Fox Books it was always on the Christmas music cds that we played over and over and over.)

And one that I haven't heard this year, that is sort of a wild card, not a favorite, per se, but it makes me laugh:

Dominick the Donkey. Apparently not many folks know this one but in da Burgh, it gets a lot of airplay. I just haven't been listening to the all Christmas all the time stations so much this year. It's about Santa's Italian helper.

Others I like: Grandma Got Run over by a reindeer, Trees on Fire (a parody on Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire), and the entire Chieftains Bells of Dublin album.

Too many to name.

Oh, and It came upon the midnight clear is a really nice one to sing corporately at church, which we did last Sunday (can you tell I'm into the whole ragamuffin thing?)

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

This just in: Blackbird has handed me the keys to do Show and Tell! (it was my bloggy Christmas wish.) So we'll start up with the New Year, and it will be on Thursdays. Send me your ideas via email.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."

Signs of the Times...

The Riverside Tastee-Freez isn't Tastee-Freez anymore, so it's just Riverside, and their sign thing is empty because they're closed for the season.

I thought it was Experienced Smiles, as I sat at the light at Craig and Bayard. Hmm, is that like a polite way to say Geriatric Dentistry? No, as I went through the intersection, I saw that it's Exceptional Smiles. Well, that makes more sense. It's where the old Dental School office used to be.

Pittsburgh Veterinary Dermatology--is that like if your cat gets eczema?

I was behind a car whose license plate read GFT--which of course made me think of who else I have to remember...I spent 15 min too long at Target before work...

At Target, I couldn't resist this card--I may give it to Sis: I want romance. Other cards were miss you or stud.

Oh, and did you know that KFC is returning to their roots? Kentucky Fried Chicken, yes ma'am!

I thought there was one more, but it's escaping me...

I remembered!! It's a automotive place on the way to work. "Under New DAILY." But what I see as I drive past is Under New Management DAILY. Gosh, that must be hard on the staff...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep (Genesis 2:21, NIV)

Sleep is this bizarre thing. We need it. So, some random thoughts...

From one of my favorite films: "Peter once asked me when I fell in love with Jack. And I told him, "It was while you were sleeping." (Lucy's last words as the movie fades out.)

Having my deep slumber Monday night to Tuesday morning, and waking up not knowing what day it was, made me think about sleep. And dreams.

Wee Willie Winkie, runs through the town!
Upstairs, downstairs, in his nightgown.
Rapping at the windows, crying through the locks
Are all the children in their beds, for now it is eight o'clock! (Traditional Nursery Rhyme)

Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.
If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

(Someone embroidered this for me as a child and it hung in my bedroom.) Though now it reminds me of the Metallica song, Enter Sandman.

I think in some ways, sleep is like prayer. We need it to thrive, but we resist it. We come up with everything to do--get a drink of water, read a book, watch TV--but at some point our bodies fall in exhaustion. I often have trouble getting to sleep and I often have trouble starting to pray. I pray best when walking but as of yet I don't think I sleep walk. (My brother does sometimes though!!)

Of course, one of my favorite Psalms talks about sleep:

In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves. (Psalm 127:2, NIV)

And on a totally different note, here are a few links about giftgiving: (for tis the season)
  • Adrian's thoughts on gift cards with a bonus link to Colin's philosophies...
  • Erin talks about being kind to ourselves and mentions community gifts
  • Pat mention's Carlos' book (which I linked back on Online Shopping Day)

and a few folks I support...

And hey, if you can't think of ANYTHING, why not I heart PGH paraphenelia?

Moo! Moo! Moo!

Here's an interesting tidbit, for you children's book lovers (I have to throw a crumb out every once in a while or I'll lose you, I fear...): on the cart of books I'm marking call letters for "J PIC PAL" or "J PIC FLE" I have two books about cows that have lost their moo. I seem to remember a book from my childhood, Emily's Moo?

Moo Who? is by Margie Palatini (Yes, that would be J PIC PAL) and a cow who goes hither and yon to get her moo back. It's cute.

The Cow Who Clucked is by Denise Fleming (J PIC FLE--you catch on quickly!) about a cow who clucks.

I guess in this same category would be Bark, George, which features a dog who mews, moos, and clucks, only to discover that he has all those animals stuck in his stomach...

Anyways, I never really thought of this as a bovine malfunction: maybe Oprah should do a segment on Cows that have lost their moos...

Back to work!

Til Tuesday

Why are there so many songs about Monday and not the other days of the week (well, except Friday?)

I came home last night at 6, ate, and slept clear through to 5 am. WOW. Then I went back to sleep until 8.

Sleep is good.

And that is all.

See, even I sometimes have quiet days (well, you see, I wrote a really long comment on Katy's blog...)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow--for a good cause!

This is so amazing! Remember how you cut up paper snowflakes as a kid? Here you can do it online and it makes money for the Salvation Army! You don't even have to use scissors, so it's a good activity for the kids!

Thanks to Days Go By and Stay-at-Home-Mommy!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Jesus's letter about Christmas

Got this from Heidi who got it from...

Happy Merry Advent and Christmas and Hannukah and Kwanzaa...

Bite off every one of these fingers, one at a time!

(Joe Pesci in Home Alone, the first one)

Sarah Louise's Favorite Christmas movies:

Home Alone (I have the soundtrack, which is a wonderful Christmas album.)

While You Were Sleeping (when I got the DVD last year from the 'rents, and was gleeful, my sister said, you are such a girl! And your point is? It's a Cinderella story at Christmas...)

This is one of my favorite scenes, thanks to the lovely folks at (It's the scene where Lucy gives her wedding invite to her boss, Jerry)

Jerry: Whom are we marrying?
Lucy: [turns over invitation] Peter Callaghan.
Jerry: The coma guy? Are you insane?
Lucy: Yes, Jerry. I'm insane. I go to work and I sit in a box like a veal. I work every holiday, I go home to a cat and now a rich and handsome man has asked me to marry him and I've said yes. OK. That makes me a total raving lunatic.
Jerry: The wedding is tomorrow!
Lucy: I know it's tomorrow Jerry, but you know what? I even wish it were yesterday. Because that would mean that *today* I would be on my honeymoon, that I would *finally* have a stamp in my passport, and that it would say *Italy* on it.

Love, Actually (my favorite scene is Hugh Grant dancing to Aretha Franklin...)

Almost Famous (yes, it's a Christmas movie--it starts off with the Chipmunks Christmas song, which is why I watched it before lunch.)

The Family Stone (last year's gem. I adore Sarah Jessica Parker. And I don't care what yins bloggers say, I like Luke Wilson, too.)

This year I want to see Unaccompanied Minors and of course, Charlotte's Web.

I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now.

Put up the brightest string of lights I've ever seen.
Slice up the fruitcake;
It's time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen bough.
For I've grown a little leaner,
Grown a little colder,
Grown a little sadder,
Grown a little older... (Mame)

It's slow season for routine. Everything gets put on hold from now until the New Year. Which means I go a little bonkers. Which means I have a cold. Don't worry, I'm taking my zinc and the day off work. I'll eat my minestrone soup and nap the afternoon away. Right now I'm listening to my favorite Christmas album, The Chieftains and the Bells of Dublin. Well, I guess it ranks #2 to Bing Crosby's White Christmas, but I don't have a copy of that album. The year my mom was in the hospital on bed rest my dad and I listened to Bing Crosby straight thru to Valentine's Day. My mom on the phone today said I seem to key in on all the people that died around this time of year. Well, a lot of people did! If a sister and an aunt died one day apart in June, would I be morbid to key in on that? If you spent Christmas with your dad and your mom spent it in the hospital and you never met that brother, wouldn't you remember it?

My dad's sister died today, six or seven years ago. I remember it because I was the first one in our family to know. I answered the phone and I could tell by his cracking voice what happened--but I gave my uncle my dad's number at work and five minutes later my dad called me back to tell me what I'd already figured out. A lot of people have lost family this time of year. They lose family all year round. I know if my sister/aunt/mother/father/uncle died, I'd want people to remember. Maybe it's that one bit of Catholicism that has stayed with me.

This is from Big Cherry Holler, which I read this morning in Tazza:

"I used to bring the kids here on holidays. We came on Memorial Day, my mother's birthday, and every Christmas. When we visited the cemetary, I would tell the kids stories about their grandmothers. Jack always thought it was creepy, that I liked the cemetary and found comfort there. I tried to explain that this was part of my Catholic faith and my Italian heritage; our gravesites are as important to us as our living rooms. In Jack's Scotch-Irish tradition, a cemetary is a place you visit on the day of burial, and hopefully, not often after that. So when I came here, I came with the kids or alone, sometimes just to sit and talk to my mother." (p. 111-2)

I finished Baby last night before the graduation party.

I did a google search and found this site (HAND: Helping After Neonatal Death). Here's a quote:

Attending the funeral or memorial service just as you would for an adult acknowledges the significance of the family's loss, as does sending a sympathy card or writing a note or poem expressing your personal feelings...

All of these things will be appreciated on the anniversary of the due date, birth date or death date just as much if not more than immediately after the baby's death. You can be assured that the grieving family will never forget, and if you love them, you cannot afford to forget either. Remember, your attempts to help will meet with the most success if you avoid making judgments and remain tolerant of all behavior (except that which is self-destructive or suicidal) no matter how strange it may seem to you." (emphasis mine.)

So anyways, Happy Advent. I'm working through my grief, because I never did before. You can't microwave these emotions. I'm not going to.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

If I take the wings of the morning...(Psalm 139:9)

Psalm 139 is the Psalm that got me through my senior year of high school. It is the Psalm that ushered me into the women's Bible studies at Bellefield. It is almost singlehandedly the Psalm that I can trace my beginning longings for a relationship with God.

I have no idea when I discovered the verses that follow:

If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there thy hand shall lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. (Psalm 139:9-10, KJV)

It was sometime my senior year. I was seventeen. I was skipping class, I was in a twisted relationship (my first boyfriend) with a guy who I later learned was "seeing" five women including me. I was your rebellious teenager. I felt like it was my last hurrah--my last year under the yoke of my parents. I thought my parents were old fashioned and irrelevant. My dad was studying Polish, translating newspapers in the evenings, and so, I the economist's daughter, got a D in Economics. My mom was constantly telling me how important it was to marry a Christian, so I was illicitly talking into the wee hours of the night with a guy who said he believed in God. I imagined that in twenty years, he'd be marriage material. Mr. Morning, where are you today?

Every time I visited a friend's house and they had a Bible, I'd flip to Psalm 139:9-10. Those two verses had enough poetry to carry me through the pain and confusion, through the lies and the deception. I loved reading the verses in different translations. I now own a Jerusalem Bible, at least one King James Version, Dios Habla Hoy (Spanish), at least two NIV translations, and the falling apart red letter Bible that I got when I was confirmed in seventh grade at Northwood Presbyterian Church. It is a Revised Standard Version and as it is the Bible I read the most often, and because it has more poetry than the NIV, it is my favorite. It is currently hiding in my garret. Books will do that when you live in a place long enough.

There's a hymn that has a line, "wherever man can go, thou shalt be there too." I remember that verse and it comforted me. It also led me to Psalm 139:9-10.

I wish I could say I came easily to faith. I did not. I came easily to church. Bellefield was down the street from Carlow College, and I figured, why not? I kept going and eventually got involved in a Bible Study with two other women. We studied the names of God, from the Old Testament. It was poetry. I wanted to be like these women, who were in their thirties and wrestling with the concept of being a Godly single woman. So I stopped doing some things. I stopped calling Mr. Morning. I wrote him a "Dear John" letter with a dinosaur stamp. (I thought it was poetic, you know, dinosaurs are extinct?) By the beginning of the second semester of my freshman year of college, I professed faith. What was it that got me over the edge? The last study in our book on God's names asked if I knew where I'd spend eternity. I realized I didn't know, and I wanted to. I walked to Bellefield the next day, hoping to find the campus minister I really liked, but she wasn't there. I'd heard about discipleship and I thought it sounded like a good idea. Instead, I met with the other woman campus minister and she told me about justification and sanctification. We met a few other times, but I never felt like I'd been "discipled."

I have felt that lack a lot. I'm the older brother in the story about the Prodigal Son. Wait a minute, I didn't get MY share! But God has provided for me in other ways.

I spend a lot of time alone. I take walks. I read books. I drive to work. In these places, God meets me if not daily, every couple of days. Where I have not had the companionship of people discipling me, I have had the words of Kathleen Norris, Anne Lamott, Madeleine L'Engle, Brennan Manning, John Eldredge. I have experienced the words of the Bible as a double edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intentions of my heart (Hebrews 4:12).


I look forward to being someone's wife, someone's fiancée, someone's girlfriend. I know it will not end my loneliness, or my solitary life, but it will be a sharing of at least a bed, a bank account perhaps, and a future. I expect it will require more of me than has ever been required of me in a relationship with another human.

At the last Christmas party, I witnessed folks younger than I in every stage of young adulthood: early dating, late dating, engagement (rings) and wedding dates, married for a year, married for two years, pregnant. I felt out of place--where do I fit in this picture?

Don't get me wrong--I don't wish my life had turned out otherwise--I have a great life. But I haven't met someone yet who makes me laugh, who makes me want to care for the rest of my life. Even though I know I want the whole package and maybe a house with a picket fence, I am scared shitless, too. I wonder...

Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me...

Even there.

Lead me on, LORD. I will follow you. In your beautiful timing, and not a moment before. Teach me patience and prescence and take my hand.

Joy Cherene Louise, d. Dec. 16, 1975

Thank you to all the women who have shared their stories as I've wrestled these past days with the short life of my baby sister, who lived for 8 days, thirty one years ago. There are things we just will never understand, but we can still live through and past and beyond them. Rest in peace, my little darling. I can't wait to meet you on the other side of heaven.

Love-30, or Tennis Courts I have known...

Webster's Dictionary: Love (Tennis) a score of zero.
Wikipedia article on tennis scoring.

We're experiencing warm weather here in the Burgh. Well, colder today--36 degrees Fahrenheit. But mostly, it's been in the 40s and 50s. I've been wearing my pink fleece jacket instead of what I normally wear in December--my brown Russian coat.

I'm grateful for the warm weather. They've been finishing up the Mae West Bend on Rte. 8, and the nice weather makes it easier for them to finish--before Christmas??? All I want for Christmas is four lanes of highway?

On my birthday, in late November, I went for a walk. Not so unusual, as I try to go for one every day. But it was coldish on my birthday, and yet, in the middle tennis court, two men were playing tennis. I don't claim to read two men playing tennis on my birthday as a sign from God that..x y and z, but it was hopeful. For a good (or bad) year, I walked daily to and from the Seminary on my morning walk. Their tennis court is abandoned. It became a metaphor in my mind, the abandoned tennis court. So imagine my surprise and delight when this morning two men were playing tennis in the middle courts again. It's not a sign of x y or z, but hopeful. That my neighborhood has people that play tennis, that care about the upkeep of the tennis courts, and the community gardens. That there are people walking their dogs.

When the sparrows flew away as I walked through the grass where they had been resting, I thought of the sparrow, and how not a one falls without God knowing about it. "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." (Hymn)

And when I think of hope, I think of the lady poet from Amherst...

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

(Emily Dickinson)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Hang your shining star above the highest bough...

...and have yourself a merry little Christmas now...

Three Christmas parties down, one graduation party to go!

The final Christmas party was a dress-up dessert party. If you didn't dress up, there were decorations like garland or bells or Santa hats to wear. One girl made an oragami star and wore it in her hair. Very festive.

Today's luncheon party was wonderful. Yesterday's luncheon party was also wonderful, except that I lost my lunch pretty soon after it, and so I'll be going in to work every day until Friday to make up the lost time. (I was already behind time and this is the year's last pay period.)

I feel a little (actually a lot) geeky, blogging about a party I just left, when I know there are people still there making merriment. But I have to pace myself and I was starting to fade. It was good to see everybody, though. (The introvert confesses...)

Oh, and my dear brother sent me an email! This is very rare--so it must be celebrated with much fanfare. SHAZAAM, my brother sent me an email. Fanfare, fanfare!

Why did he email me, you ask? There's a new bike path between Northwest Maryland and Pittsburgh and today's Post-Gazette had an article. (It actually is the top of the top five emailed articles for today.) I emailed it to him and in his email to me, he wrote thusly:

haha awesome.

i'm planning my trip already.

thanks for bearing the good news.

A man of few words, my brother. He's the best.

I'm in denial about the other news in today's paper, about Balsillie retracting his bid for the Pens. I remember saying I was going to go to a hockey game this year, and yet, this year is almost over. Perhaps in the beginning of the new year.

Yes, I have hit a new geek all time high--talking about hockey on my blog when there are people playing games and dancing at the party I just left. Oh well, I'm off to read in bed. TTFN!

laughing all the way...Bells on Bobtail ring....

Well, that Days Go By chick did it again. I needed a morning laugh and she delivered...with pictures of hockey players. Well, go visit her and see.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Blogger's going bonkers

So, on any given day, the beta-bloggers and the non-beta bloggers can't comment on each other's blogs. Blogger Status doesn't have all the answers, but they are a good place to look for info. I've added them to the left, right below Favorite Shoes.

I'm not much of a cook, but my take-out skills are top-notch. (Kathy Shaksan)

So, contrary to popular belief, I do cook. So, a recipe. Bon apetit!

Sarah Louise's Strata (for the Children's Department Lunch)

Prep time: 30 minutes.
Sit time: 1 hr to 12 hrs.
Cook time: 45 minutes.


6 Eggs
2 cups of milk. Whole is best, but I've used skim.
6 slices of cheese--your choice (I used American this time)
an onion, or a frozen vegetable of your choice (I used spinach this time, but often use broccoli)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
parsley flakes
mustard or mustard powder

You want an 11x13 baking pan. Lay the bread in two layers. You want the bread to be "stale" which can be speeded up by putting the bread in the oven on warm for about 20 minutes.

Did you know that if you slam two eggs together only one will crack?

After you "stale" the bread, you want to take it out of the pan so that it can be slathered with margarine so that the strata doesn't stick when it's baked.

So mix the eggs and the milk and the spices.

Lay out the bread on the bottom of the pan. Layer the slices of cheese, then layer the vegetable. Cover with the second layer of bread. Pour on the egg mixture. If there is some bread that doesn't get moistened with egg, pour milk on top.

Cover the pan with foil and put in the fridge for at least an hour, up to 12 hours.

Bake for about 45 min at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. The look you want is "golden brown."

Cut, eat, enjoy. Serves about 6, depending on how big you make the pieces.

This recipe is a Sarah Louise version of "Crustless Quiche" in The Kitchen Survival Guide by Lora Brody.

The joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10, TLB)

You chart the path ahead of me, and tell me where to stop and rest. (Psalm 139:3, TLB)

How well he understands us and knows what is best for us at all times. (Ephesians 1:8, TLB)

My senior year of college was the worst and the best. (Isn't that the beginning of a Charles Dicken's novel?) The verses I've just quoted you are from a page-a-day calendar I had that year. I have resisted getting a page-a-day Bible verse calendar ever since, because I liked this one so well--it had trivia questions at the bottom, like, "Q: Where eight people made a new start" (and then you turned it upside down to read, "Mount Ararat (Gen. 9:1)"

I didn't go for my walk. And now I'll have to rush around to get ready for my physical. I started to look for a book, Other Bells for Us to Ring, which is a sad story around Christmas time, which is what I feel like I'm living right now, as I remember Joy.

One of these nights I need to stop avoiding the pain and sit and read Patricia MacLachlan's Baby, which tells the story of a family that lost a baby and never talked about it. But I don't see a free night in the forseeable future, or a free lunch hour to sit and read...Sunday. I have nothing planned for Sunday.

Joy comes in the morning--I found that verse this morning, without looking for it. It's in the 30s of Psalms.

I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight. (Isaiah 45:2)

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well. (Dame Julian of Norwich)

Go hug someone. Or send someone flowers. Or call them on the phone. Or just leave a comment. I am so not ready to face today or the next two. Can't we just leapfrog to Sunday?

Oh alright. I'll go get ready. I'm getting my hair trimmed Friday--can't we leapfrog to then?

So take a new grip with your tired hands, stand firm on your shaky legs, and mark out a straight path for your feet, so that those who follow you, though weak and lame, shall not fall and hurt themselves, but become strong. (Hebrews 12:12, TLB)

Everyone telling you be of good cheer...

Well, it's like this. You discover a new blog and you link it and you get a comment from its creator and then it wins the first laugh of the morning. (You gotta read the comments too, though...they're what set me off, truth be told.)

The movie was great. More on that later, if yins are good. Right now I'm going to ride off into the sunrise...I mean take my WALK!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Denial is just a river in Egypt...

Tonight I am staying in. Tonight I am watching a movie. I may not even call the 'rents. In the next 3 days I'll be attending 4 holiday/other parties:

Thurs: lunch with Tech Serv Dept at a Country Club
Fri: lunch (I'll be making my strata) at Waverly's with the Kid's Dept.
Fri eve: party at Kelly's
Sat eve: graduation party for Jay.

I never leave shopping this close to the end, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. And this girl's gotta veg.

In the desert prepare the way for the LORD...

(Isaiah 40:3, NIV)

I had a use the rest of the quotes from A Charlie Brown Christmas for titles until Christmas came. But a lot of the quotes are long, so I decided not. But they're pretty good anyways.

This morning I used my remote control (that's what it's for) to turn on my stereo and grabbed my Bible, which opened to Isaiah 40. The book of Isaiah is my favorite. It is what got me through my senior year of college. It is what has gotten me through a lot.

This is my favorite verse (of all time).

"A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out." (Isaiah 42:3, NIV)

I so often feel like this--a bruised reed or a dimly burning wick (the RSV wording). It's basically saying the same thing as the New Testament verse, 1 Corinthians 10:13. But there's less poetry. I'm all about poetry, folks.

"No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it." (The Message)

But GUESS WHAT? (back to poetry--or rather photography.) This picture was featured in a post in October. I wrote that it mirrored my mood at the moment.

Well, yesterday was my first walk in AGES! And guess what? There's a new garage door! I could have danced the Snoopy happy dance! Plus I took more pictures too.

Isn't it purty? Shiny and new--it's like an early Christmas present!

This is me, holding a piece of ice from Lake Carnegie (yes, that's it's actual name, though it's really a pond) that is triangular in shape. I dragged out my Joy bracelet and am wearing it until December 16, as a memorial. I love ya, sis!

Doesn't this look like a picture postcard?

The triangular piece of ice, sans my hand. Check out the tiny feather (left side).

I set it free (it was stuck behind a rock). There were other triangular pieces--I wonder if that's a thing about ice, physically speaking.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I don't wanna work, another in a series...

So I'm alone in Tech Serv tonight. Ellie was here earlier, and she wasn't going to let me check DDC (Dewey Decimal) numbers if I still had videos to class and add.

I don't work well in Tech Serv by myself if I'm tired and not necessarily motivated. But I've added 8 videos or DVDs to the collection, and identified as many for lookup in OCLC.

I'm listening to Pandora, which is an Internet Radio Station (sort of). I've created a station that plays Brazilian samba, which I've called "The Girl from Ipanema." It's amazing how many versions there are of that one song and variations on other songs. But I love the soft jazziness and it's good background music. I don't really know any Portugeues, but it was my first language (we lived in Belem du Para at the mouth of the Amazon in Brazil until I was two.)

I'm re-reading Adriana Trigliani's Big Cherry Holler. It's wonderful, and good to be reading in times like these when the Sago families want answers not theories on why the mines killed their kin.

Well, back to work. I have about a half hour to get something accomplished or at least started...

Practicing in belief: 6 impossibles before breakfast

Woo hoo, I had an amazing walk. And I believed in at least six impossible things. Go forth and do likewise...

More laughter in the morning, woo hoo!

(or why Cameron got droves of people responding on Sunday...this morning in an email it was like a hit myself with the forehead moment. I was using the old model. Watch the You-tubes, you'll see.)

So, I visited Heidi's blog and watched the You Tube on Eve.Harmony, which is hysterical, and then visited Paul and watched a bunch of "I'm a Christian, and I'm a Christ Follower" which sort of plays on the Emergent/Traditional church...

Happy Tuesday, and enjoy.

(yes, she who laughs at the future and laughs at herself will never be without things to laugh about, I'm GOING FOR MY WALK!)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Take Joy! A Tasha Tudor Christmas evening among friends...

Tasha (yes, that's her name, she was named after Tasha Tudor, a family friend) invited the rest of the Technical Services Department over for dessert. It will be small, she said.

Understatement of the year.

It was beautiful. First, their tree is a blue spruce, not trimmed. With real candles on the tree. She lit them for us after everyone had arrived, and turned out all the lights. All her ornaments were either big balls that have pictures from Tasha Tudor greeting cards or wooden from Germany. She's been to Germany many times. She also has some Scandinavian ones, which I recognized as such. She even had one Polish one, a blue bird, painted exquisitely.

Our tree, the one at my parent's house, has Scandinavian, German, and all sorts of ornaments, so I felt right at home.

We sat around the dining room table--Tasha had ice cream that was formed in molds--mine was in the shape of grapes, Alice got a hen, Ellie had a rabbit, and so on. Alice didn't want to pour hot fudge on her hen, or eat it--I offered to trade but she didn't want to do that either. We sat around and shared stories for two hours! We laughed and laughed--it reminded me why we have holidays (besides the religious reasons, I mean), to share food and fellowship with friends and family.

I'm still the junior member--I don't have stories about children or grandchildren, so no one asked me if I'd decorated my house yet. But I did entertain them with stories like when my brother expected a toothbrush from Santa (we got one every year) and threw his old one out Christmas Eve. It was the one year Santa didn't give out toothbrushes...

So it's beginning to feel a bit like Christmas...did I mention my new favorite Christmas song, Trees on Fire? It's a parody of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire.

(The post title refers to Tasha Tudor's Christmas book, a perennial favorite in the Louise household.)

Online Advent Calendars n'at... (with a little blah humbug squeezed in)

This one is cool--and fascinating, that it gives Protestant and Catholic readings. Thanks to PCUSA Blog.

This one doesn't seem clued in that today is Dec 11, but I like it anyways.

Last night I called Erin. We both agreed that we're just not feeling it this year. I hope you are.

I don't feel like doing the Christmas Meme, because to me, Christmas has always been about traveling, not tradition.

This year it's a little less crazy than it would have been. My brother is going to be in Virginia, so I'll drive down. We were possibly going to fly to Austin.

Here's the kind of conversation my mom and I have been having lately:

Me: So, did you talk to J?
Mom: Yes, we did. Did you?
Me: Yes, so, what are our plans?
Mom: You talked to him already--are you trying to figure out if I know what you know? He's coming up to Virginia pretty soon.
Me: Okay.

Can't fool her!

Take a deep breath. January will be here soon.

Oh, and for easy access to posts that allow you to either laugh, ponder, or take a deep breath, new feature on the left, "Favorite Shoes." I may rename it, but that's what came to me.

Where other people are obsessed with the idea that I am always reinventing myself, I'd rather think that I'm shedding my layers, and slowly revealing

myself. It feeels to me like I'm just getting closer to the core of who I really am. (Madonna)

Yesterday I was in a conversation with a woman after the budgeting class I've been attending and I said, I feel like I'm getting younger, as I deal with things. She asked me how old I thought she was. I, flabbergasted, said, I have no idea. The woman is fifty. I would have said 43 if pressed. She is gorgeous. And she's dating one of the nicest, most scatterbrained guys at Bellefield. He does roofs.

I feel like as I let go of Joy's death and Peter's death and as I let go of the sludge of my early dating life, I am becoming lighter. More Sarah Louise. The layers are coming off.

ooh ooh! Two literary allusions:

From the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when the boy becomes a dragon and then de-dragonified, and from The Ragman.

Hold the phone, lemme get my books.

From How the Adventure Ended, the de-dragonifying of Eustace:

"...and I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off?
...then the lion said...You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty near desperate now." (p. 89, C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)

From The Ragman, (one of my favorite short stories of all time)

"...I myself walked up to the Ragman. I told him my name with shame, for I was a sorry figure next to him. Then I took off all my clothes in that place, and I said to him with dear yearning in my voice: 'Dress me.'
He dressed me. My Lord he put new rags on me and I am a wonder beside him." (p. 6, Walter Wangerin, The Ragman and other Cries of Faith.)

I'd write about this and stuff, but it's time to get this morning going, and as usual, I have quite a day ahead.

Oh, and check out a new link on Church Shoes, Adrian, a friend of Pat's who I think lives in SanFran. He's got some pretty interesting stuff on there, and it's easier for me if it's a link on the left, so there you go.

Oh, and last night (or this morning) I dreamt I went to Chestertown.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two.

"Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” (Jerry Seinfeld)

I do not fear public speaking. Communication is my thing. I write, I talk, I talk in front of people--hey, I was a Mary Kay consultant! I fear not being understood, not getting a response.

Welcome to my nightmare.

I'm trying to get something started for a Women's Ministry at the OD, because I NEED the companionship and fellowship, BADLY. So part of that is starting to get women excited about a Women's Gathering at Bellefield, our mother church (the OD is a church plant). So today I had a chance to get up and give an announcement and in the middle I felt so wooden, I was just reading from the paper and I think I just lost everyone or maybe no one else feels this need to have a women's ministry. My dear friend Cameron gave an announcement after me. He had no script, he was loose and hip and genuine and everyone flocked to him afterwards.

At the beginning of the service, I was fresh, I had just had a nap. "Wow, you look rested" more than one person said to me. After the service (after my humiliating moment up front and the non-response to it) someone said, "You look really tired." Ya think?

But later, as I did some retail therapy -- yes, tulips at Whole Foods along with the milk I did need -- I thought, it's about priming the pump. And it's not about me, it's about God's plan. So maybe if I was initially successful, I wouldn't remember, Oh, I'm not the one in control here, God is. It wasn't the words I said or didn't say. If all those women that said "oh how was your Mary Kay party, oh yeah, it would be nice to have some girl time" had come up to me and said, SIGN ME UP, DUDE! I might have forgotten who I'm in this for to begin with.

I think I threw them off when I started with this verse: "She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs at the time to come." (Proverbs 31:25, NIV)

Oh well. Tomorrow is another day. I think it's time to break out that last beer in the fridge.

Learning to be me...

A few things:

Like Chandler, I use humor to disfuse situations. You will rarely find me posting about something of deepness without a tidbit at the end that disfuses it.

(That long pause--you didn't notice it?--was me looking for a good Chandler quote. What good is the Internet for if not for quotes from the bestest TV show ever, Friends?)

Okay, here's one:

Rachel: Guess what, GUESS WHAT?
Chandler: The fifth dentist finally caved and now they ALL recommend Trident?

I got it from, the librarian's answer to "who was in that movie with that girl from 90210?"

See, I'm doing it again.

Last year at Lent, I had a journal. In the front, I had a quote from Soren Kierkegaard, "And now, with God's help, I shall become myself." I have to interject here that I've still not read any of Kierkegaard's books, I'm still relying on random quotes. Same with Camus. Maybe that should be my New Year's Resolution: to read Kierkegaaard and Camus.

Oh, did I get off track again?

This is one of those "experiment in writing" posts.

And I haven't had breakfast yet...

Well, anyways, tune in tomorrow, when I gather my brain cells once more to bring you the loveliness of my bloggy mind.

Oh here's a tidbit. It wasn't last year at Lent, it was this year. Except that my mind is still tuned to the academic calendar. Oh boy. I need breakfast.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The girl who didn't live: Joy Cherene Louise, b. December 8, 1975

This post will probably only be up for a day as I'm not really sure I'm ready to share this, but I think I'll feel better when I do.

The day before yesterday was the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. It was a Sunday, and though I am way too young to have remembered it, it resonates in me because I have listened to Moira Kelly describe that day through the eyes of Sara Louise Bradshaw (yes, my namesake) in Jacob Have I Loved, the audio version.

Yesterday, December 8, 2006, was my sister Joy's 31st birthday. Joy Cherene lived about 20 days, because thirty one years ago premies didn't live. Cherene is probably spelled wrong, but it's the word in Farsi (the language of the Persion people) for sweetness. My mom lived in Iran for three years before my folks got married. If you haven't heard that story, well, it's a good one. I'll save it for Valentine's Day, though.

When I was in ninth grade and all depressed (ninth grade sucks for everyone!) I went to a therapist, and all she wanted to talk about was Joy and Peter. Which at the time I figured wasn't that important. And at the time, it wasn't.

But last year, as my new therapist was trying to piece together my history, all of a sudden I needed to know. So one time when my dad was visiting, we sat in the café at Fox Books and I got all the dates from him. Joy was born in December. I think (I don't have that paper in a place readily available--euphemism for it's lost) that Peter was born in April. He died about 20 days later too. I was six or seven.

So yesterday, driving to Oakland, I thought, today is something, I have to know. So first I called my house and then my dad's cell phone. Later in the day he called me, to ask me about something but also to tell me that yes, it was Joy's birthday, and that he'd be arranging for flowers on her grave.

Her grave is in Poplar Lakes, NJ, where my mom grew up. It's the family grave site. My grandparents are there, my Aunt Margaret, my Uncle Klaus, and Joy and Peter. I guess depending on who I marry I'll be buried there too.

I talked to my mom briefly last night and she said, "Honey, I talked to Daddy about it and I think at this point it's more important to you than it is to us." She wasn't being cold, but it's true. My mom has gotten past the pain (I almost typed pasta--which makes me giggle in this very somber post.) The last time she and I talked about Joy and Peter, she said, yes, Joy died, but we had you. You were our joy. Yes, Peter died, but we had you. It is wonderful for me that my mother is past the pain, because for years she couldn't forgive God. But apparently the pain has been passed on to me. All of yesterday, I brought out my grief, as if it was something to hold in my hands, and examined it. Is it okay for me to grieve a sister I never knew? I have the bestest sister anyone could ask for. But Joy was a person, and one I never met, because thirty one years ago a four year old would not be allowed into the NicU.

Good grief, now I have to get ready for work. Here's a tidbit of a conversation with my chiropractor (yes, I'm now seeing the chiropractor three times a week, for the next six weeks.)

Dr. P: So how big is your staff?
Me: About 100 or so.
Dr. P: Wow, and you're in charge of all of them?
Me: (thinking, where did he get THAT idea) um, no.

I don't have a staff, I am the staff. Talking to your chiropractor whilst he is adjusting your back is a little better than talking to your dentist. At least you can answer intelligently because your mouth isn't full.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Friendship, like crime, is a simple matter of means, motive, and opportunity.

(Malcolm Gladwell, in the Foreword to Roger and Sally Horchow's book, The Art of Friendship.)

On my desk:

4 different years of Leisure Arts Presents The Spirit of Christmas. (I'm supposed to figure out if the 20th anniversary edition would be in fact, book 20.)

Brian Wildsmith's Mother Goose (did you know Little Bo Peep has 5 verses?) I'm supposed to change the barcode to a 13 digit barcode as it currently has an 8 digit barcode, which has not been used in this library for two years!!

To check out:

The Art of Friendship (see above)

Peace like a River by Leif Engler (audio, read by Chad Lowe.)


Today is my tenth day in a row. I am so burned out--and Happy Feet was not the diversion I'd hoped (wait for my fortcoming review--do not go willy nilly to the theatre for this flick!)

But a few good things:

Sally R. (the one who used to live downstairs) gave me my birthday/Christmas gift: sugar cubes! Not just any sugar cubes, these have icing on them with pictures of purses, shoes, tea cups...I'll take a picture. I have always thought sugar cubes were so high class and have never purchased them--I squealed with delight.

I ran into Babs while she was running. (Well, I didn't literally run into her.) I backed up, and we talked through my open car door. It was so nice to see her!!

I went to Fox Books and saw an old co-worker, who also volunteers at my library on occasion.

And how could I forget my sumptious meal at Chili's? A friend waitresses there and I try to stop by when I can. I had the Quesadilla Explosion salad and it was the sort of food that made you say thanks the whole time you ate it, it was that good.

And (now it's 10:41 and I've done all sorts of fun things including driving home, looking for black ice all the way. I only skidded a little on the entry to the tunnel that takes you onto the Bloomfield Bridge.) I just added a new blog to the right, Days Go By. (Yes, it's a Talking Heads reference!!!)

Get the biggest aluminum tree you can find, Charlie Brown, maybe painted pink. (UPDATED!!)

(Lucy Van Pelt, in A Charlie Brown Christmas)

So, I've been stressed, I've been stretched. I am to the point of snarkiness. But look, it's snowing outside! And I don't have to be anywhere for...twenty minutes! So, for you, (and for me, because after all, it's ALL ABOUT ME) some Christmas/snow pictures. Enjoy. It's really coming down out there... I brought the tree up from the basement, put on Erasure (yes, they talk about snow and being cold and staying inside on there) and decorated.

It made me feel better, it did. Oh, look, it's really snowing, I just took a few more pictures!!

My skylight, blanketed with snow.

The view outside my window--my car, blanketed with snow.

The view outside my bathroom window--other roofs, blanketed with snow.

It's time to say goodbye to birthday flowers and the pincushion plant...

Mistletoe, need I say more?

Oh look, it's a Duralite tree! With ornaments and stuff! Can you find the nativity scene?

Here it is, close up. I have other pieces (a Baby Jesus, a Shepherd and a sheep) but they are huge compared to these pieces...

Shards of shells from South Carolina. Can you find the heart shaped shell?

The bird on the top of the tree.

What's a Christmas scene without a lit candle? (Yes, those are birthday cards--I don't have any Christmas ones yet, so deal with it!

These are actually from the lobby of the theatre at the Children's Museum on the North Side, but don't they look festive?

Snow on the Creasy's car, from the retreat.

A closeup of the tree at the South Side Works.

My aunt's tiny tree in South Carolina.

Snow on my car, a picture from a few days ago.

I thought there were some more pictures...I'll track them down later...

Oh, and drive safely! I did some slip sliding down a hill on the way to work and EVERYONE on Rt 8 was driving below the speed limit (and no one was complaining!). It's like a bad joke, How do you get Pittsburghers to drive the speed limit? Drop an inch of snow.