They're up!

The first daffodils of the season! They're trying really really hard to show themselves, but ... they're up against the well house because that's a warmish spot, you see. And, well, the dogs too are devotees of the warmish spots. So the dead grass and hay stuff is more flat than fluffy. But the flowers are determined. Here they come.

And you know you live in a rain forest when you take a picture in broad daylight, facing into the "sun" ... and your camera's flash flashes.

A paradox, a paradox, a most ingenious paradox

They are both little kids of seven!

Published February 25, 2008 10:46 am

Leap Year odds: 1 in 1,461
Odds of being a 'Leaper' long, but two in one household?

By Mark Bennett


What are the odds?

Only 1 in 1,461 babies around the world are born on that once-every-four-years calendar quirk, Feb. 29 — Leap Year Day. The entire population of Covington consists of 2,522 people. A town that small with two “Leap Year babies” would defy the law of averages.

But what if two Leapers lived on the same street in Covington …

In the same house …

And were married to each other?

Most of the time, being born on Feb. 29 is a good thing for the Witsmans. This year, they’ll celebrate their seventh birthdays -- and their eighth wedding anniversary.

On behalf of my country ...

I would like to apologize to the U.K. today.

I am horrified to hear the news story that although the British press (not generally known for avoiding sensational news) agreed to stay mum on the matter of the deployment of their prince, the American press discovered this item, and outed him to the world -- even stating the place of his deployment. Of course, now the soldier must return home. He risks his own safety and the safety of his men now that his location is known. I am ashamed of our free press and its lack of practical, ordinary, good sense. We seem to be a country now completely convinced that soldiering is so contemptible that we can treat it as if it were tantamount to getting caught on a date with a celebrity not your spouse. Go ahead. Take the pictures. Write the story. What does it matter? All "public" people are fair game, eh what?

Eh, no. Once my own daughter is deployed, I'll be less than thrilled if her exact location is broadcast around the globe. Of course, no one knows my daughter - she isn't a "bullet magnet." So for me, the risks are minimal. But for the British royal family, and all the British troops under the command of the prince, this is not the case. Wanna serve your country, Harry? Too bad. We gotcha.

The secret is out: Prince Harry has been serving on the front line with his British army unit in one of Afghanistan's most lawless and barren provinces. Harry is the first royal to serve in a combat zone since his uncle Prince Andrew flew helicopters during Britain's war with Argentina over the Falkland Islands in 1982.

British officials had hoped to keep the 23-year-old's deployment secret until he had safely returned, but they released video of Harry serving in Helmand Province after a leak appeared on the U.S. Web site the Drudge Report.

Dear U.K.

I'm sorry.

A soldier's mom in the U.S.


In other words...

It is useful to distinguish three forms of emergence structures. First-order emergence structures occurs as a result of shape interactions (for example, hydrogen bonds in water molecules lead to surface tension). Second-order emergence structures involves shape interactions played out sequentially over time (for example, changing atmospheric conditions as a snowflake falls to the ground build upon and alter its form). Finally, third-order emergence structures is a consequence of shape, time, and heritable instructions. For example, an organism's genetic code sets boundary conditions on the interaction of biological systems in space and time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence

The art of science, the science of art, eh?

Art is too fluid, too organic, and too "emergent" to fit in a Venn diagram. I repent me of the Venn diagram. Well ... no I don't. Not really. But I think the science of emergence is a close parallel to what I was trying to say about the definition of Art.

It does, I maintain, have a component of communication - but it is more than that.
It will, I maintain, be a presentation in the world of seen things, and it will be presenting something from a world of unseen things.
But as dance is poetry done with the human body, and as music is feeling beyond the words or tunes or instruments, so

Art is a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

There needs to be a way to show the idea of something "rising" to the level of Art. Art is higher than other things. One moves up to the level of Art. Art elevates. How can I show that in a diagram or figure or chart? Maybe the Venn diagram just needs to be in 3-D.


Conflicts of interest

I get up every morning determined to both change the world
and have one hell of a good time.
Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.

E. B. White


I don't even LIKE black pepper!

You Are Black Pepper

You may be considered ordinary by some, but you're far from boring.

You elevate the mood of any discussion, and people miss you when you're not around.

You are secretly very dominant and powerful. Most can only take you in small doses.

What Spice Are You?

Of course ... if I change the two iffy ones, the answer's not much better ...

You Are Cilantro

The bad news is that there are some people who can't stand you.

The good news is that most people love you more than anything else in the world.

You are distinct, unusual, fresh, and very controversial. And you wouldn't have it any other way.

Personally perceiving, Judiciously joining

Caveat: I am not a professional. Didja get that? I am not a professional, I do not pretend to a level of education that makes a professional, and I do not wish to sound as if I am assuming the authority of a professional, recognizable by the meeting of the standards of the profession. And that fact makes this a discussion and a refinement of ideas and an exploration -- not a teaching forum. Translation: comments and reactions welcome.

Now down to it.

Almost no one reacts with friendly acceptance when they hear the terms "perceiver" or "judger" or "feeler" or "thinker." "Sensate" is too odd a word to be accepted or rejected outright, but it's viewed with suspicion, and "intuitive" sounds a lot like the opposite of sensible. None of this stuff ever makes anyone say at first blush, "Oh, finally! Validation! Happiness is mine! I've just discovered that what I am is good." (click on this image of John Lopker's "personality ponds" and you'll find a site where you can click on your type and see how functions rise to the surface for you.)

So ... if you're experiencing a bit of resistance, you should know that everyone does -- until they understand what it means to be of their own "type." And that's the point at which every single person I've ever talked to about this has said, "Well, duh. That's how everyone should be - or they would if they had any sense at all." Our own types are experienced by us as Reality. When we see accurate descriptions of them, we see our own reflections as in a mirror, and we say that we see a "human being."

But it's also pretty common knowledge that "it takes all kinds to make a world" and "variety is the spice of life." We know not everyone is the same - and deep down, as much as some of the other types drive us nuts sometimes, we also wouldn't want everyone to be the same. We need each other. And it's "love that makes the world go 'round." When we love the other types and see them for the value they have in the spectrum of humanity, we get a bit less squirmy about our own types too.

I'm also going to keep repeating here - over and over and over - that we all use all the human functions when we need to. For a fly ball, you almost always need a two handed catch, no matter which hand is your preferred and dominant hand. What "personality typology" proposes to do is to give a conscious awareness of which hand is preferred and dominant. And the best use of this knowledge is the ability to call your other hand into service when you want it, and call in the hands of other people when you want them. "Type" theory isn't determinative - it's descriptive.

It's also helpful to be able to call on the strengths of others when it's going to take more than one person to perform a complicated task - like a rescue - physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise. Type knowledge is extremely practical, can be ultimately very loving, and enables us to use all the parts as a whole.

So ... first off, here's a new term or two. Maybe it has undertones for you - but maybe this one's cleaner than the Jungian pop terms we've already heard too often.


If you have a "P" at the end of your type, it's a "P" that stands for "perceiver." Put a bit more into my own experience of the type (some of my favorite people), I'd also call this person the Personalizer. Life is experienced for Perceivers as something they are personally touching - personally experiencing - personally feeling - arranging for themselves or organizing in personally comprehensible ways.

Perceiver is not another word for selfish, but it's almost another word for "self." Perceivers know what they have touched - I mean to say, touching (in thought, word, or deed) is it how they come to know it. They're existentialists. Experiencers.

Recently, a Perceiver I love rather particularly said that she's very careful about who she lets see her inmost self because "it's exactly like touching their skin and letting them touch mine. And if they're not people I want touching me, I don't let them." It's the personal contact that makes the difference for the Perceiver; a Perceiver perceives personally.

"J" types, on the other hand, are left-brainers. They view the world, and all of their experience as categorizable. Judgers join things together with other things so that the world will have "predictable reference points." (Thomson, p.67) Perceivers figure everything is its own thing. Judgers can (will, and can't generally refrain from the need to) join things together so that they make a kind of organized and predictable world. Perceivers are "global," where Judgers are "specific" in ways that can sound like a need to make things all tidied up when they're messy, or to make connections that to a Perceiver simply do not exist.

A wonderful illustration of the difference is found in the dedication page of Lenore Thomson's book. It says,

"For my ESTJ father ---
who doubts that type means much of anything ...

my INFP mother ---
who fervently hoped I'd write a book on the Enneagram ...

and my ENFP husband ---
who can't believe I'd invest so much time in one project."

(Makes me smile every time I read that!)

David Kiersey's book, Please Understand Me II, is the one that holds the categories of Artisan, Guardian, Idealist, and Rational. It's a pretty popular book - in fact, the Keirsey categories were the ones used recently for discussing the presidential candidates.

In that way of viewing this landscape, there are names and not just initials for denoting the 16 Types. Here, for your interest, are the names he gives them. I have arranged them here by categories of their "first functions" -- like being right or left handed, your first function is your most natural self. Try yours on for size. Do you think it fits?

(Extraverted Sensation)
ESTP --- Promoter
ESFP --- Performer

(Introverted Sensation)
ISTJ --- Inspector
ISFJ --- Protector

(Extraverted Intuition)
ENTP --- Inventor
ENFP --- Champion

(Introverted Intuition)
INTJ --- Mastermind
INFJ --- Counselor

(Extroverted Thinking)
ESTJ --- Supervisor
ENTJ --- Fieldmarshall

(Introverted Thinking)
ISTP --- Crafter
INTP --- Architect

(Extroverted Feeling)
ESFJ --- Provider
ENFJ --- Teacher

(Introverted Feeling)
ISFP --- Composer
INFP --- Healer


Venn and Myers Briggs

Okay ... so the Venn diagram makes the heads hurt, and the husband says he knows of no use for the silly things once the people discussing the matter have agreed on the meanings of the terms, and the Mario says that he cannot figure out what the Abstract Nouns have to do with anything, and that there is art where there is not the intent of communication.

And for a' that, I still like my little diagram. It's the left-brainer Me that likes it, I think. And I think that the shape of the nautilus and the breath of the spring and the sound of water across the rocks are indeed meant to communicate. That's the religious Me who thinks that. I also like diagrams for useful explainings.

However, I too am troubled by the section called "Abstract Nouns" - because it's not words themselves that go there. It's the things the abstract nouns denote. Patriotism, and fear and joy go in that section.

I'm going to work on this concept some more.

And I'm also going to post about personality type some more.

In the meantime, here's a little personality type observation from the news. I think they got 'em right at Slate.com. They've used Kiersey's four divisions of Artisan, Guardian, Idealist, and Rational for the discussion. Of course, not everyone agrees with the take in the article ... see NPR's blog for discussion of the matter, and listen to Columnist Emily Yoffe of Slate talk with Alex Chadwick about what she feels her mini-experiment revealed over at this part of the site.


Yeah ... stay away from that ....

"Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it."

Jane Wagner and Lily Tomlin

I'm a Comma!

You Are a Comma

You are open minded and extremely optimistic.

You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything.

You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests.

You find it hard to turn down an opportunity, even if you are pressed for time.

Your friends find you fascinating, charming, and easy to talk to.

(But with so many competing interests, you friends do feel like you hardly have time for them.)

You excel in: Inspiring people

You get along best with: The Question Mark

A propos nothing at all

Am I the only one who wondered about this one?

I just heard a Brit on the TV say "blind man's buff." But we don't call it that. We call it "blind man's bluff." So ... which is it?

The Wiki knows ...

The game is known as blind man's buff in the UK and Ireland, buff meaning a small push. It is possible that the American name is a corruption, or it may originate from the older sense of bluff meaning to blindfold.

And that, my friends, is why God made the internet.



Influenced by the Greats

The longer I live, the harder it is not to unwittingly plagiarize. Well, okay. Not really plagiarize. But I sat here and thought and thought and researched and researched and asked my husband (a man trying to work at the moment), trying to figure out how to say "charity first" and "obedience always" - as an answer to sola fidelis, sola scriptura, sola gracia (faith alone, scripture alone, grace alone -- which is funny anyway, because how can it be three things, and each of them "alone"?), because I think that's a cockeyed way to look at the historic Christian faith, (getting the impression I'm spending too much time thinking lately? Look at the length of this sentence! Diagram it if you dare!)

and then ...


I realized where I'd heard it before. It's St. Augustine.

In necessariis unitas,

In dubiis libertas,

In omnibus autem caritas,

In essentials unity,
In doubtful things liberty,
In all things love.

Someone asked me the question last week -- what would I do at lunch with an old friend who didn't know I wasn't eating meat on Wednesdays? (It's Lent - traditional practice is that every Wednesday in Lent is a mini-Ash Wednesday.) My answer was that it's charity first. I'm not allowed to use my religion as an excuse to be rude. So I got to thinking about this shift in my head (and conversations!) over the last decade, and I realized that this is enormous.

We live in a land and an era where the slogan, placard, party, club, and group titles are terrifically important to us. (I think this might be because we're a mash of all kinds of heritages, and so we seek our "tribe.") We also revere The Sale. I feel good about my group if I can sell you on it. Talk you into joining me. (A whole nation of pyramid schemers - that's what it seems like sometimes.) If I can show you enough good reasons, you won't have any choice but to agree with me and join me.

The land of pyramid sales is not actually enough of the world to be functional, though. In the end, there are all kinds of people, and there's no amount of convincing demagogues who will ever be able to change that. The population of humans is, in the end, less of a herd animal than that. Tribe we need. Cult, not so much.

I've also learned that nobody - ever - not ever one time - was argued into faith. Faith isn't ever a matter of argument. It's a matter of choice and obedience and will - stuff much sturdier in the end than mere "reasons" or just being "right" about things. Humans can't live on reasons alone.

It's charity first. That's the rule in historic Christendom, errors to the contrary, both large and small, notwithstanding. Charity first. Take your limited understanding, feeble strength, and puny needs for validation off of it, and just be nice. That's really what it more often boils down to.

So I start to figure out how to say that in something more intriguing than English, and I hunt and hunt and bother my husband at work, and then I realize it. That's the voice of Augustine whispering in my ear - by way of a Sunday School teacher named Mrs. Needham.

She gave it to us as a class of seventeen year old girls.

In essentials, unity.
In non-essentials, liberty.
In all thing, charity.

Influenced by the Greats - Saint Augustine and Mrs. Needham.

Tweak this Venn?

Venn Diagram you want, Venn Diagram you get. Thoughts, please? Taking the following definitions of the sets and subsets, would you tweak this Venn?

Things Unseen - the spiritual world
Things Seen - the corporeal, material world
Expression - the contact attempted between sentient beings
- the contact made between sentient beings
Abstract nouns - denoting something immaterial and abstract, as patriotism, fear, love
Laws - Gravity, No Stealing Allowed, Head of Household's definition in a tax form, and anything else all people can see and act upon or universally acknowledge
Art - the intersection of all of it

So? Tweaking?


Artistic Clarity

A friend has helped me clarify a bit. (Like what happens when butter heats up and all the solids float to the top, I think.)

Regarding the post immediately previous to this one ...

It seems to me that:

"Art" is a subset of "Expression."

(Not all Expression is Art.)

"Communication" is a subset of "Art."

(Not all Art is Communicaton.)

Perhaps, then, Art is the intersection of Expression and Communication, when the subject at hand is the Unseen and the Un-embodied. (This would not be the same as disembodied.) In other words, when the Artist enters the Land Between, and brings back to the Corporeal Landscape something of that other land, he endeavors (or, I think he should endeavor) to communicate what he has seen (felt, heard, known). I just don't think it counts as Art if it's mere Expression alone. A tantrum is an expression, but it stops its communicating at the point where exasperation is the message. Eloquent, maybe. But not Art. Art is the embodying of that which has no body without expression. Isn't it?

Does ANY of this make sense outside my own head to ANYone else in the world? Comments please.

Don Dahlke and a Life Between

He ne'er is crowned with immortality
Who fears to follow where airy voices lead.

John Keats

Back when I started this blog, I wrote a bit about this painting that speaks so eloquently to me every time I look at it. To see more of Don Dahlke's work, click on this one - called, "Between Green and Orange" - and you'll go to his site. All the paintings are like this. They're all paintings of windows that open into interiors that open onto the sea. It doesn't look on my computer monitor like it looks in person - this is the one I saw the original of, and it is the only painting that ever made me begin to weep so unexpectedly.

I decided at the time that the reason this painting drew me in was because of its sense of being "between." The other paintings follow the same elusively haunting and beckoning format, but the one I loved - "Between Green and Orange" - it has the word between in the name it got from its creator. He thought it was about being "between" too. It wasn't just me. It was the artist's intent.

Keats lived "between" too, if that ethereal and romantic quote above is anything to go by. Poets and artists and musicians of all kinds - fascinating photographers who are able to see more with a camera than we can see with our eyes - I even know a couple such people. One of them is Douglas Bienert. This is what true artists do. They follow where the airy voices lead, and they enter the place between green and orange, where the yellow light is blinding and obscuring until the eyes adjust. The artist is the person whose eyes (eventually) adjust, so that he can bring some bit of what he's seen back to the other people - the ones who had the sense to get dinner on the table while the artist was off being blinded by the light.

But what is it good for? It almost never puts dinner on the table. Not in the "real world" where there is a clear difference between green and orange, and dinner is served at six and is made with groceries someone thought to buy ahead of time (and this highly sensible person also remembered to take money to the store to do this buying - and had that money they remembered to take) - but not too far ahead of time - or else the groceries will have become science experiments while waiting to be turned into dinner. (An aside: I read a great turn of phrase the other day. Healthy eating is to "eat foods that spoil - and eat them before they do.")

Artists with words or paint or film or clay -- they nearly never get food on the table by way of their time in the land between. Such sojourns are not usually good for financial advancement. Sometimes, but not usually.

Today I ask myself the question, "What is it good for?" Is it just self-indulgence? Or - worse - self-deception? The making of an imaginary world as personal as a child's imaginary "friend" world, and as much a reflection of the artist as the child's friend is a reflection of the child? That's nice and all ... but it just seems ... well ... futile. It seems futile and fruitless and therefore kind of pointless. Sad, even.

And so I realize that to my mind, Art is not about expression. It's about communication. It's about taking something from that place Between, and bringing it back to the table with the corporeal food and drink.

This, then, is the question I am trying to answer for myself. I do not know if, when I follow where airy voices lead, when I go to the place Between Green and Orange and then wait for my eyes to adjust, and finally, after a great deal of work (I no longer kid myself about that -- it's really hard work), finally bring something back with me ... am I one of the people - can I be? - who returns with a friend anyone else can see?


A rather shocking amount ...

... of thickly dripping sarcasm can come from a 21 year old when he moves through the living room where his mother is watching TV ...

"Wow. Ballroom dancing and a medley."

(If you know a quicker way to clear the room than ballroom dancing and a medley, you could probably make money with it!)

Jane Austen

What an interesting find! I have been trying to figure out what happened to Jane Austen's mother and sister after her death, and I found a site called pemberly.com and "a prayer written by Jane Austen." It is a thing of beauty, oh, so Anglican in sensibility, and I'm very glad to have found it - especially considering the laughing stocks and silly-face goobers many of her clergy characters are!

Give us grace, Almighty Father, so to pray, as to deserve to be heard, to address thee with our Hearts, as with our lips. Thou art every where present, from Thee no secret can be hid. May the knowledge of this, teach us to fix our Thoughts on Thee, with Reverence and Devotion that we pray not in vain.

Look with Mercy on the Sins we have this day committed, and in Mercy make us feel them deeply, that our Repentance may be sincere, & our resolutions stedfast of endeavouring against the commission of such in future. Teach us to understand the sinfulness of our own Hearts, and bring to our knowledge every fault of Temper and every evil Habit in which we have indulged to the discomfort of our fellow-creatures, and the danger of our own Souls. May we now, and on each return of night, consider how the past day has been spent by us, what have been our prevailing Thoughts, Words, and Actions during it, and how far we can acquit ourselves of Evil. Have we thought irreverently of Thee, have we disobeyed thy commandments, have we neglected any known duty, or willingly given pain to any human being? Incline us to ask our Hearts these questions Oh! God, and save us from deceiving ourselves by Pride or Vanity.

Give us a thankful sense of the Blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by Discontent or Indifference.

Be gracious to our Necessities, and guard us, and all we love, from Evil this night. May the sick and afflicted, be now, and ever thy care); and heartily do we pray for the safety of all that travel by Land or by Sea, for the comfort & protection of the Orphan and Widow and that thy pity may be shewn upon all Captives and Prisoners.

Above all other blessings Oh! God, for ourselves, and our fellow-creatures, we implore Thee to quicken our sense of thy Mercy in the redemption of the World, of the Value of that Holy Religion in which we have been brought up, that we may not, by our own neglect, throw away the salvation thou hast given us, nor be Christians only in name. Hear us Almighty God, for His sake who has redeemed us, and taught us thus to pray.

Our Father which art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.

Pause ... Rewind ... Fast Forward ... and other things I'm not really allowed to do

There are few things to which I am allergic as strongly as anything smacking of "good old days" mentality. There was no such time. It's a fond mythology, but it's just a silly longing for escape from present perceptions we'd rather not have. "Back when I was a kid," I was indeed unaware of some really nasty stuff existing in the world - but it was my unawareness that shocks me now. The stuff was there all along - I was just a child, that's all. I didn't know.

However, there is one thing increasingly a part of our modern world which I do happen to find tempting me over and over and over (and over and over and over) into a mentality that would insist on controlling the passage and direction of TIME!!! Now, THAT's hutzpah for you! That's some kind of nerve! Imagining that I ought to be able to carry around some kind of mystic remote control - a TiVo for my interaction with people ... ahhhh.... just think about it for a minute, would you?

Wouldn't it be great? I could do like Samantha in Bewitched. Some horrid words or fit of temper or sad, sad little petty gripe escapes my mouth, and then I could run my finger anti-clockwise, and poof! All better! I never said it after all. All fixed. No disaster caused by me at all.

Nice, huh?

Or, how about the ability to re-wind something that just went past and, and there I was, not paying attention? It would be great! Just point my mystic remote control at the car radio, or the person across the table, or the guy in the pulpit, and start that part over again.

This ever-present temptation to wish and wish that I could manipulate time first came to me on an airplane, on the way home from college, decades ago. I just HATE the part of anything that's the last 5 to 15% of the thing. I hate it. Hate hate hate hate it. After about 4 hours on a plane, it came into my head, as we flew across the state line into Oregon at last, that I'd been on that damned plane for long enough, and I just wanted to fast-forward the tape. I knew the ending already. There was no need whatsoever to do this last part. Just fast-forward to the end. Press the button on the tape recorder. Skip this bit. Read the last page of the book I've read before. I just want the last part now, thank you very much. This part before the last part? It gets me into a nearly screaming frenzy.

Now, I do agree with C. S. Lewis. I do think that our sense of frustration with "time" - just the whole thing - linear time's inexorable march - is a bit of Eternity we have within us. We know we are actually immortal. Time and death seem "wrong" to us somehow. We just know it's not supposed to be like this.

But nothing so lofty as a longing for Eternity motivates my irritation with the last bit of a thing or my desire to rewind after I've just said something unforgivably insensitive or embarrassingly idiotic. No, it's not a holy desire for Eternity at all. It's an absurdity of hubris and the false humility of shame driving this itch for a mystic remote control. I'd just rather not think of myself as needing to take anything back - and I'd also rather not adjust my opinion of myself so far as to include "godliness with contentment is great gain" when it's only 20 minutes to landing. This is a matter for repentance - not an acknowledgment of inner Awareness.

And to top it off, once considered, it seems a most perverse thing for me to wish for the power to control time. Look what I'd do with it! I'd be a nightmare of a Bill Murray, Groundhog Day-ing over and over. To my mind, there is indeed a modern temptation which, if it existed in days gone by, did not exist in this form. We are now able to leave our houses without looking for directions or a map - instead, we have GPS, or a cell phone. (My husband heard someone say that cell phones have turned us into a nation of birds - calling out merely to say over and over, "I'm here. Where are you? I'm here. Where are you?") We can always call, right? Bother whoever is at the other end, and get them to give us a turn by turn. We don't have to get a grocery list together either - just stand in the aisle while the person at the fridge tells you what's missing. And if you missed that snippet on the TV or DVD? Just rewind. Have commercials? Fast forward.

All this control on a daily basis is nearly too much for me. It's a temptation nearly - not quite, but nearly - overwhelming to me. It makes me long to be like God, knowing yesterday from tomorrow, and good from evil. Seems to me the last guy - no - I mean, the first guy who did that ended up being very sorry for it.

It is time again for me to find a place of silence. I need to reorient myself in the universe and remember that "to dust I shall return" - at a pace of 60 seconds per minute, 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year, and only in one direction in time for as long as God grants me breath. And I have to do it without a mystic remote.


Sun Came Out, Machines Started Up

A few weeks ago, looking across my yard and over the tops of the lilacs, there was this yellow arm of a huge machine coming up the driveway.

Now ... after weeks of rain and snow and cold and wind and more snow than we've seen in ages and more rain to wash it away ... when both the guys have the same day off for once, out came the "D7" -- which is not this thing in the picture - and which I know the name of only because one of those guys keeps slapping his forehead and saying, "we coulda had a D8." (I'm surrounded, and there's nothing to do but surrender to this sort of thing.)

Today, the D7 which is not a D8 is moving back and forth and back and forth, up behind the barn. I've tried twice to get a picture, but instead I get an "error." Maybe my very cheap camera has died. But the D7 has not died. There's sun on the grass, and machinery noise in the yard. I think winter might end this year after all.

Van Gogh's "The Raising of Lazarus"

Not a painting of a moment in time, but a painting of an emotion. I hadn't seen this one before, and I think it's got a very surreal dream-like power to it.


Time for a full frontal assault

Damn. Damn damn damn and blast it all! I really really didn't want it to come to this, but here it is. Right in the middle of the road, and there's obviously no way 'round it. I have to scale it. Go OVER it. Climb and conquer it.

I've TRIED everything else ... including doing nothing but sitting here. Guess what? It doesn't work. Neither does floating around near it, or trying to go around it, or climbing high enough up a tall tree so I can see over it. I need to be on the other side, and there's nothing left to do but figure out a way to go over it.

And what is "it," you ask? What is this metaphorical rant really about?

An anonymous commenter asked me the question. What are you doing about going back to school? And now, all of a sudden, all the flippant answers I usually use, and all my contentedness about waiting, and all the scenarios for all the possibilities that might happen someday have gone up in a puff of smoke. Anonymous poster, I don't know who you are, but you woke me up today, and I'm on my feet. I'm not happy about it, but I'm up. I have to figure this out and make it happen.

And to make it happen, I have to get past the one huge rock in my road. I have to figure out how to make the curriculum my husband and I sell (it's traditionalist Anglican religious ed curriculum -- we've got a customer base that would fill a whole ... uh ... well, we probably couldn't fit them all around the dining room table at once, but pretty close). Our customers are tired tired tired of waiting for us to send their orders, and we are tired tired tired of never having enough time to fill orders when they do come in, and I know perfectly well that there is a way to sell downloads from our website.

But I also know that my overworked husband has NO time to figure this out. So that's what I have to do to get over that rock. I have to figure out how to do computer stuff well enough to be able to make a website that can sell downloads. Not just write ad copy. (That's easy.) Not just do design work. (I love design work.) No, no. I have to do the hard part.

Do I want the income I could be generating? Is this something that is right in front of me to do? Do I believe that "he who is faithful in small things" can be trusted with more to oversee? Yes. Yes. Yes. So it's fallen to me to figure out the computer sales thing, and I just have to do it, that's all. I've already spoken to someone who can help me, and I'm just going to have to make it happen. Me. I'm going to have to do that. I know our part of Christendom is a little splash out of one of the puddles at the edge of the whole ocean of Christendom, but I also know that we're the only ones who have what we've got at our sadly neglected, gasping for breath, barely alive Littlefarm Publishing. There is a little dribble of income to be had if we can get better at selling it. And then - if we don't have to spend all that time just trying to collate, bind, and ship (not to mention the printing press that can suck up eons and ages and millenia for one little project), then maybe we can WRITE for it too! Have something new to offer people!

Dang, I hate computer stuff.


"One doesn't discover new lands
without consenting to lose sight of the shore
for a very long time."
Andre Gide


All I ever need to know ...

...I learned in choir.

You know the series of books and spin-offs, right? It all began with the outrageously popular Robert Fulghum book. Last spring, the theater class at our son's high school did a spring play based on this book - vignettes of the stories it contains. Lessons like "share" and "listen" and "love" -- good, universally human stuff - with song and dance and the energy of high schoolers. It was a good play.

Well, I've been thinking about it a lot lately - and I think that it's true - all I really need to know I learned in choir.

1. Pay attention at rehearsal.

This is a biggie. See, at rehearsal, parts are assigned, and you find out about things like the place where you're supposed to stand, and you get information about when to shut up. You learn to listen to the other parts, if you're paying attention. In fact, you learn "the music" - as in, music itself - as a universal language of emotional expression - becomes part of who you are. It's worth it to pay attention at rehearsal.

Last year at about this time, I had a Braxton-Hicks evening. A rehearsal for days to come. A practice session. This evening, I said that day, in the soaking rain and February chill, my husband will come home from another long day away. When he gets here, we'll have another practice run at living in a nest from which the offspring have sprung. It won't last long, but it's a genuine moment of preparation for a new day ahead. Today is a day when the breath in my body, the understanding of why my joke was funny, and the place where my tears find equal and answering emotion comes home to me - and only me. Today it lasts for a few hours. When our new life is born (due date, sometime this year), today will have been good practice.

I anticipated the date a bit ... that life still hasn't been born ... but it's on its way, and all the moments of "just me and you, we two" that happen between now and then are rehearsal days.

2. Make your mistakes out loud.

This one's a two-edged sword. If you don't make your mistakes out loud in practice, you WILL make them out loud at performances. So you have to be willing to make mistakes in the venue in which they can be corrected. You have to get over yourself. You have to see that the choir together, and the music made by a choir, are far more worth working for than your own face-saving perfectionistic desires. Good choir members make mistakes - and they do it in rehearsal so that the performance of the group will not be marred on the big night.

3. Some folks are soloists, and some aren't.

It's true, you know. And the fact is that if a soloist will not do his or her part (and all the practice and hard work and taking criticism and finding the personal voice and interpreting the music itself), then the choir is poorer for it. And if someone comes up out of the group to sing the solo who really shouldn't, all the choir and audience cringe a little. The soloist without the choir is poorer for it ... and the unintentional solo (see #2) is the worst of all - and worst of all for the one what did it.

4. Pay attention to the director.

Have you ever gone to a choral performance of any kind and had one of those oddball, disconcerting experiences of observing one member of the performing group in a moment of wandering attention? Every single time this happens - if the opera member's attention wanders to something off stage, if the choir member's attention suddenly wavers to see who just walked in ... no matter what the audience was looking at in the fraction of a second before it, the wandering attention draws all attention away from the music and the performance and the story and the progress and arch of the emotions. It's just not fair to anyone for a member of the choir to do that.

Distracted parents can't parent.
Distracted writers can't hold the interest of readers. Distracted drivers cause wrecks. And sometimes it takes a lot of effort to hold one's own attention to the task at hand.

5. Get enough rest - don't eat phlegmy foods - don't lock your knees.

In other words, in a choir, the support and communion of the group doesn't remove each member's responsibility for himself. I gotta take care of me, and you gotta take care of you, or the whole choir goes down when the guy in the back row faints on us.

A choir is good rehearsal for life.

Your test results are in

A-a-a-hem! You, who've taken the little personality inventory? You got what you paid for, didn't you? A few kind souls have pointed out to me that they have no way to figure out their own results!!!

Here, I say.
Take this test, I say.
Find out about yourself and others, I say.
But ... do it blind.

Oh, very helpful, you say.
Thanks awfully.
You've been very helpful indeed.


Okay. After slapping my silly chimp head in chagrin, with sincere apologies for using my own personality so obliviously (it's all about the process ... --oh -- results? People want results?), I now post the order of results so that you can see for yourself what your most favored and useful "functions" of personality are. I'll be discussing it some more, of course. Once or twice a week, I'll add a post to the "human development" topic. In the meantime, take the inventory for yourself if you haven't, and here's how you read it when you're done.

Across the bottom of your columns, there will be eight numbers, in four sets of two. Those read, going across from left to right, as follows:

(E / I) -------- (S / N) ------- (T / F) -------- (P / J)

Which is translated as:
Extrovert/ Introvert

Now, one more clarification on this post.

An anonymous and highly agitated reader has told me that people "don't like it" when referred to by their personality functions. (I believe this reader was defending Douglas, who is a personal friend, and who discusses this topic with me on a regular basis ... so really, it's okay -- Doug's okay, I mean -- I didn't hurt him -- honest.) This agitated person even said that saying someone is a "thinker" or "feeler" type is the same as referring to women as "boobs" and men as "muscles." This particular reader might want to skip all posts under this particular topic, because I'm not going to stop talking like this. Wanna know why?

Because it saved my sanity and my family relationships, that's why!

Figuring out that I'm not so maladjusted as I'd always thought was a big help -- if someone knew what an INFJ was, and could tell me to myself, then maybe I wasn't a mutant after all! This was huge for me. And then there's the matter of learning all about the lenses people use for viewing their world. What a glorious gift this has been! Now I can figure out how to do the translation from different perspectives. After all, if I'm standing on the dirt, and looking up at the building, but you're standing on a hill a mile away, it's just possible that I can see things you can't see, and you can see things I can't see, and I'd like to compare notes! (Especially if the building I'm standing next to is about to fall on my head.)

The Judeo-Christian creation story says that man is created in God's own image -- I believe this means that mankind as a whole - all of us together - that's God's image. God is light, and we are the colors of the spectrum. The more colors there are together, the more of light illuminates us. And blue makes something different with yellow than it does with red -- we need each other.

That's how I see it, and that's why I'm just going to barrel ahead -- serious omission right at the starting gate notwithstanding.

I'm blue,
Who are you?
Red, you say?

Come together,
And the two of us shall be
What is joined
And blended into
Light's own
Color harmony.



"I do not know which makes a man more conservative—to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past." John Maynard Keynes


Lent grub

As we used to say back in youth group days, "Really sufferin' for Jesus, there, aren't ya?" This is tonight's soup.


Okay! Want to know what your test results mean?

Over the next few weeks, and probably on and on, I'll have a topic on the blog called "Personality Type." Most of my quotations are going to be from Lenore Thomson's books because I think her is the best and most helpful, but there are other books that a person could look at to get a picture of this idea. I'll be mentioning some of those as well.

First, I want to start by saying that some people really hate to be "typed." It seems to some people that if some other person says anything that sounds like, "you are a ____," then a very disagreeable, written in stone, locked in place opinion has been formed. So it's necessary that this is much more like saying "right-handed" than it is like saying "short-tempered." This isn't about character or goodness or evil or anything else a person has free will over. This is about the way you came into this world - tall, short, dark, light, curly-haired or not, left or right handed. Any personality in a human is capable of over-riding impulses, choosing behavior, or learning or un-learning habits. This is just a way to understand a person's own inborn "dominance" (as in left or right handedness) or "preference" (which is how the personality type people talk about it.)

The quiz gives you a set of four letters. You'll be either

Extroverted or Introverted

Sensate or iNtuitive

Thinking or Feeling

Perceiving or Judging

I myself am an INFJ - that is, Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging. So far, an ISTP, a couple of ISFJ's and an INFP have told me what their results are. I'd love to know the results for the rest of my readers. If you haven't done the evaluation yet, hop on down to that post, and line up your columns! Oh, c'mon! It's fun!

In brief, Introverts get recharged and re-energized from inside themselves and the energies of other people deplete them, while Extroverts gain energy from being around other people, and are often thinking while talking or interacting in some way - the interactions are the means of processing information.

Sensates are grounded and aware of the physical world - in their bodies, in their position in the room or the group or the hierarchy, and they generally have a specific relationship to their stuff. Some Sensates need order, and some are energized by more chaos. The point is that they're aware of it in the first place. (Notice how I slip into saying "they"? That's the N coming out in me. Sorry.)

iNtuitives live in their heads instead of in the world around them - as much as they can get away with, anyhow. They're about possibilities and implications and ramifications and what if. iNtuitives can see how things could be (even if they really couldn't be that way). They're all about the imagined reality.

Now, don't get your knickers in a twist about Thinkers vs. Feelers. These slightly unfortunate delineations only mean that some folks organize cognitively by way of structure, logic, and the framework or cause and effect. They tend to want the rules for the thing. (Doesn't mean they'll obey the rules - they just assume that there are some.) Feelers think too, of course. But Feelers think about people and relationships and in a fight between the rules and the people, Feelers would vote for the people.

The last either/or is Perceivers and Judgers. (Again, don't get all irritated - no need for sand in your shorts - they're unfortunate terms, but we can work with them.)

Perceivers have as their "first function" (the part of human functioning that they lead with in their lives and minds) either an interior (introverted) relationship with the thinking or feeling function, or an exterior relationship with thinking or feeling. In other words, they experience things first. They perceive them first. There is always an immediacy to a perceiver's world, and it is apprehended personally.

The leading function of a Judger type is that of cognition rather than personal contact. Judgers have either an interior or an exterior (introverted or extroverted) contact with the world that is either Sensate or iNtuitive first. Information has meaning - it isn't its own thing, with the meanings optional, as for Perceiver types.

Now, if you take the functions, and arrange them in order of the 16 Types, people are going to have one of these eight ways of leading off in the world - these are the eight "handedness" possibilities:

1. Extraverted Sensates (ESTP or ESFP)
2. Introverted Sensates (ISTJ or ISFJ)
3. Extraverted iNtuitives (ENTP or ENFP)
4. Introverted iNtuitives (INTJ or INFJ)
5. Extraverted Thinkers (ESTJ or ENTJ)
6. Introverted Thinkers (ISTP or INTP)
7. Extraverted Feelers (ESFJ or ENFJ)
8. Introverted Feelers (ISFP or INFP)

More - lots more - where that came from on its way! Feedback welcomed, encouraged, begged, and otherwise solicited. Folks is folks ... and it takes all kinds to make a world.

This is my country

"My country, right or wrong," is a thing that no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, "My mother, drunk or sober." G. K. Chesterton



Today is Ash Wednesday. It is time for me to attend - in every sense of the word.

–verb (used with object)

1. to be present at

2. to go with as a concomitant or result; accompany

to take care of; minister to; devote one's services to

4. to wait upon; accompany as a companion or servant

5. to take charge of; watch over; look after; tend; guard

6. to listen to; give heed to

7. (archaic) to wait for; expect

–verb (used without object)

8. to take care of or charge

9. to apply oneself

10. to pay attention; listen or watch attentively; direct one's thought; pay heed

11. to be present

to be present and ready to give service; wait (usually followed by on or upon)

13. to follow

14. (obsolete) to wait.


I'd like to get to know you ... yes I would ...

If you're old enough to remember that song ... well, never mind. It was the first thing that came to mind for what I want to do. I have readership from all over the world, and I want to know who you are! No, not your names. Not your pet peeve or your parentage. Well - if you want to say those things, then I'd love to know that too. But I'm ever so deeply fascinated to know your "type." Who are all of you who read this blog? Writers are supposed to have a target audience after all ... so who are you?

Here's the plan. Answer the questions from Lenore Thomson's book, and then tell me the results on the comments section. (If this stuff fascinates you the way it does me, you cannot go wrong with this book. There isn't a more helpful one on the market if you want to think about healthy human development throughout the entire scope of adulthood.)

No comments ever get posted without approval here, so you can also say if you don't want your results and/or comments posted at all - if your answers are just for my benefit ... well, I'd be ever so grateful. Please please please? Tell me about you. I'd like to get to know you!

Here's how you do it.

Arrange your paper in four columns, with each column having an A and a B half to it. Like this:

(1)A ___ B___ (2)A___ B___ (3)A___ B___ (4)A___B___

(5) A ___ B___ (6) A___B___ (7) A___B___ (8) A___ B___

(9) A ___B___ (10) A___B___ (11) A___B___ (12) A___ B___ ...

...and so on,

(53) A___B___ (54) A___B___ (55) A___B___ (56) A___B___

until you have spots for 56 answers.

After you answer each question with either A or B, add the column going down, and you'll have some A's, then some B's, then some A's, then some B's ... to add together. There will be eight totals.

With me so far?

ADDENDUM: You can set this up any way you want to, of course. Whatever floats your boat. The part to get right is the part where you add up four sets of A/B answers in the right groups. They're like weeks. All the first days of the weeks have to be added together, then all the second days ... And if you want to be anonymous, make sure to comment as "anonymous" on the comment page.

Number the totals across the bottom of your columns from 1 to 8, and then send me the results. You'd send me something like:

1. 10 - A's
2. 4 - B's
3. 7 - A's
4. 7 - B's
5. 8 - A's
6. 6 - B's
7. 3 - A's
8. 11 - B's

Then tell me your age, and where you live, and your name if you want to. Tell me ANY thing about you that you want to tell me. Just "comment" at the bottom of this blog entry - and if you want me to email you your type test results, include your email in your comment to me. Otherwise, I won't know who you are - the silly machine just says your name is "no reply blogger" - but THAT's not your name, now is it? Who are you really? I'd like to get to know you, yes I would. If you're game to let me see you a bit, here are the questions. Answer them as if there were no consequences to your world - as if the answers would not have an impact on anything in any negative way - this is your chance to live for a moment in a consequence-free environment - you know, like Austin Powers before he got in the time machine. Choose your own ideal world where everything is just the way you wish it was, and answer from your devil-may-care, most free-of-constraint self. Dream big. Dream free.


1. When you meet new people, do you
A. talk as much as you listen?
B. listen more than you talk?

2. Which statement characterizes your general approach to life?
A. Just do it.
B. Check out the alternatives.

3. Which do you like more about yourself:
A. your cool-headed, logical approach?
B. your warm, understanding approach?

4. Which are you better at:
A. shifting gears when necessary?
B. focusing on one task until it's done?

5. Do you prefer a social life that includes
A. many friends and acquaintances?
B. a few people that you feel close to?

6. When you're trying to understand something, do you
A. press for specifics?
B. get an overall picture and fill in the details later?

7. Which is more interesting to you:
A. knowing how people think?
B. knowing how people feel?

8. What kind of job do you like better:
A. one that allows you to react quickly and improvise?
B. one that allows you to determine goals and take steps to meet them?

9. If a heavy snowfall keeps you from going to school or work, do you
A. wonder what you're missing?
B. enjoy the unexpected time alone?

Which statement are you more likely to make? (You might say either one at different times, but which is more likely to be something you would say or think?)

10. A. I'm interested in people's experience -- what they do, who they know.
B. I'm interested in people's plans and dreams -- where they're going, what they envision.

11. A. I'm good at making a plan that will work.
B. I'm good at getting others to agree with a plan and cooperate in the effort.

12. A. I may try something impulsively, just to see what happens.
B. I want to know what's likely to happen before I try something.

13. A. I usually think on my feet, as I'm talking.
B. I would rather reflect on what I'm going to say before I say it.

14. A. I'm almost always aware of how things look.
B. I may not notice much about how things look - at least not right away.

15. A. I tend to be an analytical sort, maybe a little skeptical.
B. I'm interested in people and care about what happens to them.

16. A. I like to leave room for new options, even after plans are made.
B. Once plans are made, I want to be able to count on them.

17. A. People who know me are generally aware of what is important to me.
B. I don't talk about what's really important to me unless I feel close to the person I'm talking to.

18. A. If I enjoy a particular activity, I'll engage in it frequently enough to do it well.
B. Once an activity is familiar to me, I want to change it in some way or try something new.

19. A. When I'm making decisions, I weigh the pros and cons of my choices.
B. When I'm making decisions, I want to find out what other people have done in similar situations.

20. A. I tend to learn by experience; I often have my own way of doing things.
B. Generally, I learn by following instructions and adapting them if necessary.

21. A. I get restless when I'm alone too long.
B. I get restless when I don't have enough time to myself.

22. A. I'm not very interested in ideas unless they have some practical application.
B. I like ideas for their own sake and enjoy playing with them in my imagination.

23. A. When I negotiate, I can count on my knowledge and tactical skills.
B. When I negotiate, I find common ground with the other person.

24. A. I need a break now and then when I'm working on something.
B. I do not like being interrupted when I'm working on something.

25. A. When I'm having a good time with other people, I get energized and I can keep going for a longer time.
B. When I'm having a good time with other people, my energy runs out and I want some space of my own.

26. A. My physical surroundings are important to me and they affect how I feel.
B. Atmosphere isn't all that important to me if I am enjoying what I'm doing.

27. A. People can count on me to be fair and to treat them with respect.
B. People can count on me when they need me.

When you're on your favorite kind of vacation, are you more likely to

28. A. take things as they come, doing whatever you feel like at the moment?
B. work out at least a tentative schedule of things you want to do?

29. A. spend time doing things with other people?
B. take time to read or walk or daydream alone?

30. A. return to a vacation spot you already love?
B. go someplace you've never been before?

31. A. take a work or school related project with you?
B. renew relationships that are important to you?

32. A. forget about your everyday routines and concentrate on having fun?
B. think about things you need to prepare for or be ready for when your vacation is over?

33. A. see famous landmarks?
B. spend time in museums and quieter places?

34. A. have a good meal at a restaurant you know you enjoy?
B. explore new cuisines?

Which word best describes the way you see yourself? Not the way you think you should be or want to be someday ... the way you think you really are if you don't have to be something else at any particular time.

35. A. levelheaded
B. idealistic

36. A. spontaneous
B. systematic

37. A. open
B. reflective

38. A. factual
B. conceptual

39. A. knowledgeable
B. understanding

40. A. adaptable
B. organized

41. A. expansive
B. intense

42. A. down-to-earth
B. imaginative

43. A. questioning
B. questing

44. A. enthusiastic
B. deliberate

45. A. well-rounded
B. deep

46. A. seasoned
B. spirited

47. A. just
B. merciful

48. A. open-ended
B. goal oriented

49. A. straightforward
B. reserved

50. A. realistic
B. visionary

51. A. impartial
B. sensitive

Would you rather

52. A. put off unpleasant chores until you're in the right mood?
B. get unpleasant chores out of the way so they're off your mind?

53. A. be admired for your work, even though you're not really satisfied with it yourself?
B. create something of lasting worth, but remain unknown?

54. A. have extensive experience in an area that pleases you?
B. have many options to choose from?

Which slogan better captures your point of view?

55. A. People are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument.
B. Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence.

56. A. He who hesitates is lost.
B. Look before you leap.

Okay. That's it. Now total up your eight columns, and tell me who you are. I love you already, of course. You read my blog! You couldn't be more lovable! So don't worry about telling me the truth. C'mon. I want to get to know you.


Good reasons

There are some very good reasons to keep a journal - especially if you're a teenager - especially if you're a teenager with an absolutely fierce determination to meet a good man and marry him. Someday. Someday would be good. That's what I wrote over and over and over in a thousand different ways.

I've been looking through old journals lately, and I figured out a couple of things. I figured out that it's a wonder my parents survived all the way to my adulthood without needing some kind of medication to soothe their nerves - and it's an even bigger wonder that I did. How can one girl sustain that level of emotional upheaval? If we had to be seventeen forever, we'd combust. Not spontaneously either ... it would be the product of unremitting passions over the course of time. Nobody could live through that.

But I also found out (after I fanned away the smoke and heat radiating off the pages so that I could read them) that I had some very good friends. There was much hugging. I'd forgotten about all the hugging. I'd thought it was only in my dreams, but apparently my dreams were memories and not sheer invention. I really loved all those people all those years ago. I felt their feelings and rejoiced when they rejoiced and mourned with those who mourned, and that's what love is. Even when you're seventeen. And eighteen. And nineteen. It was awhile ago, but tonight when I go to sleep it will be to the rhythm of

God bless Barry.
God bless Brian.
God bless Tim and Greg and Pat and Tom.
God bless Carol.
God bless Larry and Dan.
God bless Jimmy and Billy and Mike and Charlie.
God bless Nancy.
God bless Jim.

I still have more guy friends than girl friends, and I still like a good intellectual sparring match. But I don't need to have the heat turned up so high now. Maybe when I grew up, I also grew my ability to find love. I've sure had a lot of it in my life.

Truth or Consequences

Unless we admit to something larger than ourselves, we must bear the weight of being an entire universe. Humans were not made to be context and meaning - we were made to find it. photo: Genesis, 1990 © Douglas Bienert


The snow outside seems to be melting. No puffy blobs of it frosting the fir trees this morning, and everything is dripping, and there are even shadows (caused, it seems, by the SUN - quite the visual phenomenon!) visible to the naked eye for ... oh ... whole minutes at a time. Not during this minute. But still. I've seen the shadows and the sun in the past 24 hours.

Since the snow started falling a couple of weeks ago, the whole weather pattern has reminded me of something and today I figured out what it is. It's the too-heavy blanket. I have been under a blanket of snow.

Back when I was a teenager, I figured out that another world of sub-conscious escape and resulting refreshment and restoration was possible under certain conditions. I'd gotten an electric blanket for my bed, and I figured out that if I turned it way up - all the way up - my bed would get impossibly warm. It would be a dry and nearly suffocating version of a nearly-too-hot bath, and it didn't cool off the longer you stayed in like a bath of water would do. If you fall asleep in these conditions, the dreams are surreal and clingy, and it's akin to something that happens if your brain is being chemically toyed with. (Don't suspect anything here - the chemicals that touched my brain back then were prescribed by over-zealous doctors, and I get a mild panic attack just thinking about it.)

Back then, the blankets could get hot enough to induce weird dreams and mental trips to emotional wastelands and deserts and operas and orgies of feeling not possible while conscious. This last couple of weeks of the heaviest snow I've been in since moving here has been nearly the same thing. But it lasts all day and all night. My dreams are insane and my waking moments feel slightly unreal. The emotional and psychic waves and colors and sounds are very near consciousness, and now that the sun is trying to come out and the frozen fluff is turning to compacted dripping hardened water, I can breathe again. And I can understand how people get cabin fever.


MORE snow???

It started up again out there! I've never seen this kind of winter here, and it's taking some getting used to. Six to eight inches in the forecast for today - they underestimated last time.

My husband is saying that he "can't wuss out two Sundays in a row!" because "nobody will believe" him -- stuck in your own driveway? Two Sundays in a row? Yeah, right. We don't live in a climate like that, and everyone knows it.