Lens and Pens

Mindful musings and images from travels around the world and around the block

Monday, May 17, 2010

Day Break

The price for waking early will come later in the day, late afternoon or so, when I'll be struggling to function, but for now it's worth the cost to have this time in the not-quite-dark but not-quite-light time. Windows and french doors wide open to the chill night air of the desert. Unseen birds chirping brightly. The faint hint of traffic sounds in the distance. Quiet inside to be cherished and nurtured for awhile at least. I could fill the quiet with Morning Joe's audio graffiti or NPR's take on the news. Then I would have to face the world and what's happening out there. For now, it's enough to mull and muse and meander through my own puddle of thoughts. Pondering the future. Replaying interviews. Wondering which positions I should pursue - and whether I'm being realistic or reaching too high or not high enough. Anticipating the first day of a new job - and how to make it work with commitments I've already made to be away. Thinking still about text from last night and what it means to be "scattered" from "home base." That seems to be what I am missing most right now - a sense that I have a home base, from which I can work on a long list of creative projects. I've been paralyzed by uncertainty - am I leaving or staying? Will this interview lead to a job or not? How much longer can I afford to live in this house? But if I move out, then I really don't have a home base at all or my own space... The same questions and ideas on their regular rotation through my waking hours.
The birds are singing in the distance now and the traffic noises are louder. It's not yet bright but the dark is erased. Must be time for another cup of coffee.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Time Traveler

Early Sunday morning. Early morning cool air infused with oleander blossoms. Freshly brewed cup of coffee. Classical piano on stereo. What's wrong with this picture? That I'm writing this and not immersed in final touches on a sermon, not filled with the anxious anticipation and intensity of preparing to lead and teach. Today, all I have to do is prepare myself to worship, dragging along another set of rejections, more negative baggage.
Tomorrow I begin work as a consultant with another organization, so that will be a new kind of busy - learning as much as I can as quickly as I can - the nature of the interim specialty. And working on search. And working on projects for family. And... and... but all with my life on hold, unsettled, as if I'm about to set off on another journey, just don't know when or where and can't keep bags packed because still using them.
This photo was in my grandmother's brag book. Mom says it's me. I recognize the suitcase but not the porch. I look so serious. Am I going home or going away? That's still the question.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Candidate Phrases for forced retirement

Most of my candidates for immediate phrased in retirement derive from scream-inducing overuse or misuse in advertising. One that is currently grating on my ears and nerves is from the trailer for the movie "Grand Torino" describing Clint Eastwood's starring performance as "prime vintage." OK, I get they want to say that this role is in the style of early Eastwood yet not merely a stroll down nostalgia lane. Yes, Clint is still a gifted actor but prime vintage sounds like an oxymoron. The combination of terms seems to be putting two separately tasty ingredients into a gag-inducing stew.
A friend has a similar reaction to the beer commercials touting their product's "drinkability." As a former English teacher, she is a stickler for proper language. These ads irritate her but I hadn't particularly  noticed until she proposed her candidate for retirement in response to my rant. 
My guess is she - and every other self-respecting English and/or Journalism teacher - would join me in ranting long and loud about the overuse of a phrase in news writing which I just read again at the end of a post by an editor of a major newspaper: "Time will tell."  Well, duh....
Now we're really talking cliche and the reason cliches are cliches - because the point is obvious. In this case, two opposing views of a situation are discussed leading to the conclusion that both can't be true at the same time. More reporting, more information, more testimony will be required to make the judgment of which side is right/true/correct; therefore, "only time will tell."  Or will it? Does the truth always become public knowledge? Do conflicting opinions always find resolution or a court of last resort? Is history always the judge? Or can writers/reporters ever be so creative, so innovative, so industrious as to be able to avoid using cliches? Only  time will tell.


Saturday, January 03, 2009

Night Lights

The sky is a dominant feature of the landscape in the southwest. So few days are cloudy that the absence of usually brilliant sunshine clouds my mood before I have consciously acknowledged the weather conditions. My daily activities move from room to room as I follow the light around the house. Living on the west side of the mountains, I'm rarely aware of sunrises, but every dusk is another opportunity to be enchanted by an evening sunset. This New Year's Eve the moon and Venus dueled for attention with earthbound holiday lights. The season of light is no competition for the daily sun and sky show.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Church: Past Tense

Broken. Empty. Abandoned.
Building. Institution. Community.
Past. Present. Future.
Symptom. Symbol.
Broken Body?
Empty Tomb?
Dead Church.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Can't get to the new without news of old passings

Of all the traditions observed at the end of the year, the one I'm finding most annoying this year is the listing of those who "left us" - as if a decision was made to deliberately travel solo to a distant destination - or whom "we lost" - as if the lives of the famous and accomplished are possessions. The recounting of "passings" and in memoriams did not seem any longer than other years or any more celebrated in its lives noted. Some people died "before their time" as if it's possible to die after our time much less to reach the point of perfection to die exactly at the right time. 
As I've watched and listened and read these necrology reports, this year my response has been lingering  sadness. Maybe because the times are sad, when we're grieving so many losses in the economy, the society, the community. Maybe because I'm reminded of my own mortality, of the decreasing amount of time left to fulfill dreams or notch accomplishments. 
I've always enjoyed reading biographies. As a child, I was enthralled with a series of books about inventors: Thomas Edison, George Washington Carver, Marie Curie. As a teen, I was fascinated with the lives of Presidents: Lincoln, Jackson, Jefferson. So few receive recognition or fame during their lifetimes - how sad that so many stories aren't told until after death. Of course, this is the whole premise of "It's a Wonderful Life" - to have the opportunity to review our life as others see it. And just when the reality of mortality is inescapable in year-end lists of the dead, the first day of a new year dawns on the scene with the gift of a clean slate, another opportunity to make a fresh start, to make changes, to finally get around to those good intentions and long list of resolutions. 
Happy New Year! 

Monday, October 27, 2008


I voted yesterday. Yes, a Sunday afternoon in October, not the first Tuesday of November. What a change from my first vote in a Presidential election. (Way) Back then, I was a wife, mother of a toddler, and living in rural NW PA. To vote, we went to the township hall? fire station? (the distance of years has fuzzied the memory) Into a huge metal box, pull the lever to pull the curtain behind me, then push down smaller levers to vote for individual candidates. In other small towns, voting was by punching a card with a stylus - long before I knew to worry about hanging my chads.  This time, voting was touch screen. Show ID, sign name and initial, receive a voter card. Something like checking in at a hotel front desk and receiving a credit card size room key, complete with printed arrow to indicate direction to insert into slot on the voting machine. First a choice of language, then a page of instructions. Touch the box: Continue. Sets of names with party affiliation appear under each office. President, Senate, Congress, Sheriff, Constable, Judge, Rail road commissioner....
Touch a box to mark my choice, review all my votes and I have one more chance to change my mind. No, looks like everything is marked the way I intended. Now, one more touch and I have officially cast my ballot. Back at the sign in desk, I toss my used voter card in a basket and pick up a sticker out of another. Over the Presidential Seal is the proclamation: I voted. 

This makes the 6th state in which I've voted, from rural to urban communities, in school hallways, town libraries, church gyms, and the lobby of a nursing home. Neighbors and strangers drawn to an appointed time and place, the shared experience of civic decision-making, an exercise in idealism based on the expectation that our vote - as we intended, as we cast it - will indeed count - and be counted as we intended.    

I voted for change. I voted for hope. I voted for the idea of the United States as a nation we should be, as we could be. My heart has been broken again and again by the cronyism, incompetence, greed, and perversion of justice of the last 8 years. Outrage has welled up again and again: Iraq, Katrina, Halliburton/Blackwater, DOJ, Rove-Cheney .... Lost lives, lost jobs, lost health, lost minds, lost homes, lost justice, lost ideals ....  But now, maybe, just maybe, we're ready as a nation to vote for the best interests of the whole community, to begin the adult work of cleaning up the mess of our national self-indulgence in fear, greed and division. I've been distressed before by election results but managed to maintain confidence in the long-term national wisdom of finding the center again after swinging too far to one side or the other. I hope ... I pray, that we will do so once again. Yes. We. Can.