Posts Categorized: Gentleness

…By Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

Possibly there are folks out there who don’t recognize this partial quote. (The title of this post) It’s Shakespeare, from the play Romeo and Juliet. The longer quote is:
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;”

The speaker is Juliet, and she’s unhappy that the young man with whom she’s recently fallen in love is from a family on the outs with her family. Her point being that his last name doesn’t matter; she loves him anyhow, in the way that the scent of a rose is going to smell just as nice, even if we called it, for example, “stench-plant.”

The name “Romeo” has come to mean a lover, a ladies’ man, etc. (you can look it up). I don’t know what Shakespeare meant by it; maybe it was just a common name in those days.

But … moving on. A while back, I kept reading in the newspaper’s television page about the program TURN, the story of George Washington’s spy ring during the Revolutionary War. Like: “Tonight on TURN, the spy ring finds a new ally.” That sort of thing. Finally, during season 4 (the final season), I got interested and discovered that the library had DVDs of the first three seasons. (Yes, I know. We’re archaic. My kids think we’re ridiculous because we don’t have Hulu.) I watched all those videos and then watched the fourth season on the AMC website.

Then I found, also at the library (how old-fashioned am I!), an audiobook edition of the book Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. I’m listening to it. All 13 hours and 19 minutes of it. I’m a little more than halfway through it, but sometimes I have to go back and start a chapter anew. When I’m listening to an audiobook, I’m almost always doing something else, like working in the yard or doing housework, and, at some point, I realize that I’ve been thinking about herbs and not paying attention to patriots, and I have to skip backwards a little bit. And, for this one, a book of Revolutionary War maps would have helped. And a complete list of all the characters. And which side they were on.

Which brings me to Benedict Arnold. The only thing I knew, and pretty much still know, about Benedict Arnold is that he was a traitor during the American Revolution. I think that may be all that most of us know. And some of us probably don’t know that much. But the name means “traitor.” As in: “That which we call Benedict Arnold, by any other name would still be a traitor.” Even knowing more about him and the positive things he did during the Revolutionary War (before he changed his mind about us), he’s still famous/infamous for trying to sell us down the river, almost literally, and would have, if the plot hadn’t been discovered. And the British guy he was working most closely with, John Andre, got captured and hanged. Arnold slipped away and got himself to a British ship and fought with those guys until the end of the war. And then, afterward, in England, tried to stir up things anew! Give it up, Ben!

It’s interesting, at least to me, maybe you, too, that there are names out there, that, when bestowed at birth may just have been names that parents liked, but they’ve come to mean something that no one might have imagined. Like Benedict Arnold. Like Adolph Hitler. Like Benito Mussolini. Like Josef Stalin. Like Caligula.

And there were other names, that have come to mean something that the name-givers (or name-takers) might not have expected. Or, maybe they thought, all the time, that those named would become so significant. Like Mother Teresa. Mohandas Gandhi. Martin Luther. Marie Curie. Johann Sebastian Bach. Alexander Graham Bell. Anne Frank. Francis I.

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. (New International Version)

A good reputation and respect are worth much more than silver and gold. (Contemporary English Version)

Proverbs 22:1

 

I guess “a good reputation” is what scripture means by “a good name.” Our actions, our behavior, and our attitudes, are what make our “names” good.

 

 

Ladybug! Ladybug!

Three years ago, I discovered that you can purchase ladybugs to strew about your yard, to eat up all your aphids. I bought a package of them, let the little bitty Peter play with some (they do fly away pretty quickly), and took most of them to church for the Sunday School preschoolers to take and release into our church’s neighborhood garden. It has become a yearly tradition.

I bought the most recent ladybug collection weeks ago, and rainy weather and chilly weather kept us indoors for several Sundays. And kept the ladybugs in my fridge. Finally, last Sunday was nice and sunny, so out we went.

After a couple of hours outside the refrigerator, the bugs were all awake and active. As soon as I opened up the container, they were ready to get to work. Or at least get out.

The first time I bought ladybugs, I asked the clerk at the nursery how many bugs were in the container (which was different than this one). She said, “About fifteen hundred.” This container says, “About 500.”  Still, it seemed like enough. And, the carton says, “New Look! Same great bugs!”

 

IMG_3792Later, I was in worship service, enjoying the choir-led, lots-of-music, service, and sitting in my favorite spot, up in the balcony. I felt a sort of tickling, down the back of my thigh. I was startled for a moment, and then thought, “Oh, of course.” And I reached back and carefully gathered up the ladybug, who had not flown away when she should have. I tried to wriggle my phone from my pocket, to photograph her, as I figured no one would believe that a ladybug had hung on for 45 minutes or so. But, before I could get the phone on and focused, she took flight.

If you look closely, you can see lots of little lady bug-sized spots on the carpet. They are the drips left behind from the Lord’s Supper grape juice. I searched each one I could see, to be sure it wasn’t moving around. Nothing was. I’m hoping she got a ride out of there on someone else’s back, and made it to freedom.

Winter is past, the rain has stopped; flowers cover the earth; it’s time to sing.

The cooing of doves is heard in our land.

Song of Solomon 2:11-12 (Contemporary English Version)

Springtime. I wish it lasted a little longer.

When I’m driving Peter back and forth, to and from Waco, he sometimes likes to listen to Peter, Paul, and Mary recordings. One of the songs is “Rain, Rain, Go Away.” There are several verses, in between the “rain, rain, go away, come again some other day,” chorus. One of those verses says, “Ladybug, Ladybug! Fly away home! Your house is on fire, and your children-they will burn.” When that verse comes on, I sing, pretty loudly, “Your house is on fire! And the firemen-they will come!”

My favorite ladybug song is one I learned when the boys were little and watching Sesame Street. There were songs for every number up to twelve. The “twelve” song was  “The Ladybugs’ Picnic.” I still know all the words.

The Game’s Afoot

 

When Kevin, and then Jeremy, were at TCU, I used to visit Hulen Mall in Fort Worth pretty regularly. It was sort of on the way to the university—just a matter of where one turned off I35. There was a Container Store in front of the mall, and right across the street there was a Border’s Bookstore. Lots to do. After graduation, Kevin moved to the Cultural District; Jeremy eventually moved over there, too. Kevin and April still live in that area. Jeremy and Sarah married and moved to Brooklyn. The Border’s moved much closer to Kevin and April. Then, that store closed down, and The Container Store moved into the old Border’s spot. So, all in all, I don’t have much reason to visit the Hulen Mall area any more. Until yesterday. I was on my way to hear a speaker at a Fort Worth library which was really close to the Mall, and I’m on a quest to find a skirt with pockets, which turns out to be a much more difficult task that any sensible person might imagine. Maybe it is nonsense, but I tried.

 

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When the Grandchildren Come

Well, at our house, it’s the grandchild. He’s our one and only. And it’s just as great as people have said it would be, and as I suspected it would be. Which doesn’t mean that we don’t have our moments…

But for every disagreement there are many, many more moments of delight and joy and charm.

And of course, at grandparents’ house, things can be a little more lax. Vegetables at most meals at home. Vegetables at some meals at Mimi and Grandad’s. At home, a regular, specific bedtime routine beginning at about 7 o’clock: bath, book, bed. In Waco, well, at 7:30 or so, it’s: bath, ice cream and Nutty Bar, two or three or four books, and bed. And things rock along pretty well for all three of us.

A few weeks ago, some folks across the street cut down a tree in their back yard, doing some work before getting the house ready to rent. The limbs and leaves and lengths of trunk have been out on the curb for weeks, waiting for the city to come and pick it all up. Meanwhile, I sent David there a couple of weeks ago to get two of the trunk pieces for Peter to use for woodworking. The garage gets pretty warm right now, but Peter did spend a little time out there with his new tools.

We went to Target Thursday, mainly for a prescription and some groceries. You can get everything you need there for a great lunch!

 

But he was sitting quietly in the living room, putting the cards from a Dr. Seuss game in a plastic bag that usually holds colored large craft sticks. He was a little miffed that I showed up, and he tried to send me back to the sleeper car, but I insisted that I had some chores to do. He was exasperated that I would not stay put. I have not idea what he had in mind for his next activity (w/out Mimi's supervision).

After post-lunch “quiet play time” in the living room (which is essentially Peter’s room, as it is where he sleeps and where all the toys are), I went to release him from there and we ended up playing for the next couple of hours. At one point, we pretend rode the TRE, which is a commuter train in Fort Worth that Peter and friends took a ride on for Peter’s birthday celebration, back in January. We walked around the house, on the TRE, and ended up in the guest room which was the “sleeper car.” (FYI, the TRE is a commuter train and doesn’t have a sleeper car, but, apparently, according to Peter, it should.) By then, I was pretty happy to lie down and close my eyes. After all too sort a time, Peter left. Eventually, I went off to locate him, imagining all sorts of unsupervised devilment that might be happening.

But he was sitting quietly in the living room, putting the cards from a Dr. Seuss game in a plastic bag that usually holds colored large craft sticks. He was a little miffed that I showed up, and he tried to send me back to the sleeper car, but I insisted that I had some chores to do. He was exasperated that I would not stay put. I have no idea what he had in mind for his next activity (w/out Mimi’s supervision).

For dinner, his idea was that we should have a BIG grilled cheese sandwich, that everyone could share. I couldn’t quite figure out how to do that, but I did make some homemade bread in the bread machine (oh, yes, I did, because it makes a taller loaf and I could make a bigger grilled cheese sandwich than usual). So, the three of us shared two big grilled cheese sandwiches. And ate the rest of the cucumber.

Then he and David went to the Mayborn Museum, which is open late on Thursdays, and they always do that when he comes. (I’m not the only pushover in the house.) Friday morning, we’re going on a first-thing-in-the-morning-before-the-temperature-gets-unbearable trip to the zoo, to see the elephants, giraffes, and orangutans, which we didn’t see last month when we went. Then, a stop by the zoo’s splash pad to cool off.

IMG_1458Saturday is supposed to be much cooler (well, in the 90’s instead of 104). David is supposed to help Peter practice kicking a soccer ball into a tiny, preschool-sized soccer goal, because he’s going to play soccer this fall. April ordered cleats for him, and they arrived this evening.

  Grandparents are proud
    of their grandchildren,
    and children should be proud
    of their parents.

Proverbs 17:6  (Contemporary English Vesion)

And my favorite thing he said this trip: When I went to get Peter on Wednesday, I had lunch with him and Kevin and April at their house. At one point, we were talking about our respective Sunday School classes (their kindergartners and my 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s). I said to Peter, “In a few months, you’ll be four!” “I know,” he said. “I’m so excited about being 4 years old.” “You’re really growing,” I said.

He became quite serious, and said, (with sort of choppy, delineating hand motions) “First you turn one. Then you turn two. Then you turn three. Then you turn four. Then you turn five. Then you turn six. Then you turn seven. Then you turn eight. Then you turn nine. Then,” (a brief pause, for dramatic effect, I suppose), “you turn ten.”

Kevin and I waited for a moment, then Kevin, said, “And then what,” expecting some more numbers, because Peter usually counts pretty reliably to about thirty. Peter looked at him, shrugged his shoulders a little and said, “Then you die.” I’m so proud.

Happy Easter Weekend

I thought that Kevin and April (and PETER!) weren’t coming for Easter. But, then, they decided to!!! Which made a good weekend even more anticipated, more delightful, more satisfying.

I had Peter all by myself on Friday. There was a little shopping. A little napping. And a surprise! April’s birthday is coming up soon, and I thought we could make a surprise for her. I planned to make treats to serve on Sunday. However, when a three-year-old prepares a surprise on a Friday, you just have to have that surprise on a Friday. I asked what kind of cupcakes he thought Mommy would like. White. And what kind of frosting? White. With sprinkles. So that’s what we did.

 

Saturday was a beautiful day.

 

 

Peter was the first one who arrived with flowers.

Peter was the first one who arrived with flowers.

Sunday morning–We have a large cross that stays in the Worship Center all the time.

We have a tradition of putting fresh flowers on it on Easter Sunday morning.

 

 

 

 

I handed Peter over to David when I arrived at church. Then I went on along to my Sunday School room to prepare for preschoolers’ arrival. As I was rushing around the room, suddenly, something seemed a little odd.

Of all the things we do at my church, and maybe ever have done, my most favorite is how we do baptisms these days. Instead of sitting in our pews and watching from afar (well, it’s not that far), we gather forward. Kids in front, so they can see well. The rest of us packed behind them, on the platform, on the steps, pressed together.

Welcome, young lady. Welcome into your faith family.

DSC_0066

“Now, get on your way quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He is risen from the dead. He is going on ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there.’ That’s the message.”

Matthew 28:7 (The Message)

Christ is risen. Christós Anésti, or Χριστός Ανέστη. (We have Greek relatives.)

Let’s face it, for people who love Jesus, every weekend is a happy Easter weekend.

Not Quite Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, But …

Trying to put together a family Christmas when three families are involved can be a challenge. Not quite as much of a challenge as some folks with several family members who are farther-flung that mine. We have a family of three who live a hundred miles away in Fort Worth, and a family of two who live in Brooklyn, and we two. We share the Brooklyn family with the rest of their family in southern California, And we share the Fort Worth family with a slew of siblings and parents and in-laws and grandparents, almost all of whom live in the Fort Worth area. So, only a little bit complicated.

Holiday treats were ready! Top to bottom--chocolate chip meringues, peppermint stick bark, peppermint M&M's bark (an experiment/tasty!), cookies w/chocolate chips, walnuts, and dried mulberries

Holiday treats were ready!
Top to bottom–chocolate chip meringues, peppermint stick bark, peppermint M&M’s bark (an experiment/tasty!), cookies w/chocolate chips, walnuts, and dried mulberries

This year’s plan was for the Fort Worth people to drive down first thing on December 26. The Brooklyn people were catching a plane at JFK first thing that morning, also. They would come on down from DFW by train to McGregor, a small town a few miles from us. David was really eager to take Peter to pick them up, because Peter loves trains.  Christmas dinner ingredients were in the cabinets and fridge, cookies were baked and pie fixins’ were ready to be put together and baked. A good solid plan.

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Who in Their Right Mind Would Go to the Grocery Store Three Days Before Christmas?!?

Note the late date of this e-mail, and the lack of suggested deadline for answers.

Note the late date of this e-mail, and the lack of suggested deadline for answers.

Who would do that? Well, maybe it would be someone who waited until the last minute to ask family members what specific kinds of food they want to have during the holidays. And, if someone is going to ask the question, then someone feels a little bit compelled to prepare/provide those foods. Since she asked. If she’d been thinking more clearly, she’d have asked weeks ago and given a deadline for responses, but alas, she did not.

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I Just Can’t Help Myself.

Who *wouldn't* want to chat with somebody as cute as this! With such a darling hat!!

Who *wouldn’t* want to chat with somebody as cute as this! With such a darling hat!!

I confessed to a class once, when I was teaching Child Development courses at our community college, that I can’t help myself; I talk to little kids at the grocery store. I will talk to them anywhere, but the grocery store provides more opportunities, as they are corralled in a seat in a cart. And, while their nearby adult is putting groceries on the conveyor belt, I am pretty much face-to-face with them, and it just seems a little rude not to chat. I am careful to keep my distance, and I never reach out or touch them.

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Yeah. *That* Waco

In mid-May, I was in North Carolina, attending a Writers’ Conference. I arrived on a Sunday afternoon. That evening, I was playing Words with Friends on my phone, and a message popped up from my sister in San Diego. It said, “WHO lives in a dangerous part of the country?!? It’s a good thing you’re out of town.”

And I said to myself, as I rolled my eyes, “Ollie, Mollie, Gollie. What’s happened now.”

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