Saturday, October 31, 2009

:::Darn it, Sun!:::

Guess when this photo was taken? 7:06 am. Not, 4:06 am, 5:06 am, or 6:06 am. 7:06 am. This is one of the very few things that I don't like about this time of year. In this regard, summer, you win.

P.S. -- My grandma had snow last month in South Dakota. Today I read that Colorado has been hit pretty hard. I want snow. Do you hear me, pathetic Mid-Atlantic weather kings? I WANT SNOW!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Sunday, October 25, 2009

:::Christian Ways:::

This post is long but I feel so strongly about this topic and wanted to share what I have been thinking today.

In church today we had a talk about retention and the true calling of Zion that put me to shame. If Christ could teach on the side of dirt roads to lepers and outcasts, then I can happily walk or metro or catch a ride to a renovated minimart, sit on hard plastic chairs, and teach nursery in a room the size of a walk-in closet. If His followers could learn on a fishing boat in a raging sea, if Joseph Smith could restore the gospel in swamps and prison cells, then I can do my work and feel the spirit in a non-traditional congregation. If my testimony relies on the trappings of a stereotypical Mormon ward -- the big building, the active congregation, the nice and new supplies, the people that all know how to act, the wonderful programs and fun activities -- then I am in a sad state. Then I have missed everything that Christ has ever taught about who He really is, and what it truly means to take His name upon us and bare the privilege of being called one of His disciples.

If I have ever made a new convert or a long time member feel like they weren't welcomed or they weren't good enough to be part of the fold because they didn't act 'The Mormon Way', then where the heck do I get off pointing my finger at others for making me feel this same way? I'm afraid that sometimes I might have been so desperate to be a success at fitting in that I have ignored the one so I could align myself with the ninety and nine. Or maybe I have tried to make someone else feel like the one so I wouldn't have to that random outlier that tarnishes the appearances of God's chosen people. There always has to be a scapegoat, right?

Here is something that I've realized about the Savior's ministry as I've learned more and more of His ways -- He was almost always with the ones that no one else wanted to be with, and not in a cool 'look at me' sort of way. Just quietly, day after day, when He could be doing more fun and personally comforting things. He touched lepers and walked next to adulterers and sinners. He knelt down next to the lame and listened to the mentally handicapped. And then He spoke with rich men and princes and merchants and priests. Then He brought all of these people together and said, 'Come follow me.' He had such goodness and love inside of Him that He could sit down with a ignorant man on one hand and a scholar on the other and make them friends. It wasn't a charity project, it wasn't a service activity, He was just being who He was, a Christian through and through.

My ward is not normal, and when I first started attending I was annoyed that things weren't all lined up the way I was used to. All I wanted was to go to church and have the same experiences that I was used to having. We always say that the church is the same everywhere. Well then, why wasn't someone doing something about my ward?

When we meet the Savior again I think we will be so happy, and He will be so happy to see us. But I also think there will be a moment where He show us the people we ignored or excluded because they were different and say to us, 'I coudn't be there, why didn't you go for me? I loved her so much, why couldn't you be her friend? Why did you let him sit alone? Why didn't you adapt to help them?' I don't think it will be about guilt, I think it will be a plaintive questioning from a Father who will want to know why His children didn't love each other more.

If I imagine the Savior during His mortal life, I see Him walking down a road alone, then meeting a man on the path. As he continues to walk He smiles, puts His arm around the man, and looks with deep interest and love into his eyes as the man begins to tell the Savior about his day, about his life. Up the road they come across another, and the Savior invites him to join them as they walk. When he does, Jesus acts the same to this man that he did towards the first man -- loving him and investing in his well-being. And in those encounters, however brief they may be, He loves both of them, He teaches both of them, and He brings them the gospel in a personal, adapted, and real way. He is the gospel in action, not in appearance or in culture. He acts out the gospel to those people, and because of His ways these men He met are now brothers and friends with all the most important things in common.

Everything falls away in the end. Flannel boards, primary songs, hymn books and pews, all these things are just the mortal props for an eternal gospel that has nothing to do with foyers and minivans and tank tops under t-shirts and firesides and Girls Camp. If I can't cope with the Gospel in any other form than the Western USA package, then I have missed the whole point, the whole point, and I am mistaken in my belief that I know what the Kingdom of God looks like. Would I even recognize Zion if I saw it? Will I have the desire in my heart to be there when I see who I'll have treat as my equals?

Friday, October 23, 2009

:::Honest Opinions, Please:::

Is this one of those things that only looks good in carefully staged photos?

In real life, would I look like a tool walking down the street with a bunch of rosebuds on my chest?

Do I have the wardrobe to support this kind of accessory?

$32.50? Is that an insane amount to spend on something like this (I'm leaning towards yes on this one)?

Am I just loving the colors? The textures and shapes? The playfulness of it all?

:::You Inconvenience Me, Sir:::

On Wednesday I went to a library thing at the Department of Interior, which is on the opposite side of the White House from my office. I always cut across the South Lawn when I have to go there.

They were holding traffic on G, F, and Penn as I was walking past, and I couldn't make a clean cut across the South Lawn because it was barricaded off. Pourquoi? Something presidential, I guessed, but I kept walking because I didn't want to be late.

I did turn around when the motorcade went by to get this picture. Your president rides in one of these two tricked-out limos.

While this security helicopter patrols the streets from the sky to make sure no one is up to anything nefarious.

It was hot that day, and that annoyed me.

I had to walk across this field of freshly cut grass, and that annoyed me too. Grass makes me itch.

But the views weren't bad, so I took my favorite style of DC self-portrait. On my left we have the Washington Monument...

And on my right we have the White House.

On my way back it was still hot, and I still had to walk across that darn grass.

The press corps waits anxiously while I kept walking across that stinking grass in the hot heat. Can you spot the sniper?

And then I heard the big chopper and had a flashback to Nam.

The big man was traveling to New Jersey and he needed a ride.

The end.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

:::For Today -- October 17, 2009:::

I saw this little prompt on Ali Edwards' blog post yesterday.

Outside my window...It's gray, and occasionally sprinkling. I think we're safely into fall now.

I am thinking...of change as a force in life, and wondering why I always crave it so badly. Money, and why I can't seem to handle it properly.

I am thankful for...beautiful things.

From the kitchen...I almost bought I Know How to Cook yesterday after seeing some of the illustrated page samples on a design blog. If I had ordered it before 10:30 am it would have been delivered through a new same-day delivery service that Amazon is offering in select cities. Oh, sweet temptation.

I am wearing...a dress with leggings. This was one trend that I just had to try out, and I love it. And, it makes me look thinner and taller. It's just too bad that I caught on at the tail end of it.

I am creating...a Blurb book for one friend, something special for another, scrapbook pages this weekend with Shorty, and plans for a fall activity at the house.

I am going...nowhere today, I'm on duty.

I am reading...The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I have never read a book like this before. It is re-teaching me philosophy without being about philosophy, and concurrently keeping me entertained and delighted.

I am hoping...for a chance to do something I really want to do, for snow, for a slow and quiet day.

I am drive through wet street. I think the sound of tires through water is my favorite sound in the world.

Around the house...the heat has finally been turned on. It's been in the low 40's lately, and that's mighty cold in the morning when you have tile floors.

One of my favorite skim milk. I just love skim milk.

A few plans for the rest of the week...fold laundry, write essays, organize photos...

A picture to share...

I am abnormally obsessed with leaves and acorns this year. I have only collected these leaves and one acorn thus far, but the season is still young. Perhaps I will become the crazy leaf lady, or maybe just an eccentric aunt who sends the children boxes of acorns for Christmas this year.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

:::Idiot Revision:::

Here's what I'm thinking of today.

I had my wires crossed during conference weekend (aside, what is the capitalization rule for General conference? I see on the church homepage that they write 'General conference', while I've always thought it was 'General Conference.' I guess the website is right, but I just don't know...). 'Stop being an idiot' was about something completely different, about an unrelated stumbling block that I've been trying to get passed for a long time. I've got the answer now and that stumbling block is dust -- ta da! Burden unburdened. I've stopped being an idiot.

Now I see all the layers and beautiful depths in the General conference (Conference) messages. I will devour my Ensign when it comes, for sure.

Here's something else that I'm thinking about -- I do not like Sunday dinner, your roasts, your rolls, your green beans, your mashed potatoes. In my house I will marvel at the goodness of the Lord over spicy yellow curry and sticky Calrose rice. Amen.

Monday, October 5, 2009

:::Quit Being an Idiot:::

General conference.

There's an episode of the Golden Girls where Sophia is trying to teach Rose how to run a successful business. She sits Rose down at the dining room table, and proceeds to tell her that rule number one is 'Quit being an idiot.' That's what I kept hearing as I was listening to all four sessions -- 'Hey, you. Yeah, you. Quit being an idiot.' I know the commandments, I know what covenants I've made, I know what the Lord's expectations are. So, why aren't I doing what I'm supposed to be doing?

Quit being an idiot.

I also heard a lot about parents raising, shall we say, 'entitled' children...

quit raising idiots

and the pioneer legacy that we may or may not being living up to...

quit being idiots

and also, Elder Holland is not messing around anymore. Not. messing. around.

Pretty soon I'll get my hands on the conference Ensign and I'll be able to see if I really did miss something. Or, maybe what I needed to take away from the sessions this October really was, 'Quite being an idiot.'

Friday, October 2, 2009

:::The Source -- Is That What the Cool Kids Call It?:::

Last night the Shortness and I met up at Paper Source in Georgetown for a holiday card making workshop.

There were three stations that we rotated to throughout the night. Every table had a little place setting for each participant with a neat bundle of supplies and the correct tools to make two cards. We also received this *free* (the workshop was $25) garnet linen portfolio to store our cards in.

In total, we each made 6 cards that mainly used stamping and embossing techniques. Here's Shorty working on one of my favorite cards.

Nothing but stamping, embossing, and some scribbles with a white pen. Sometimes I forget that stamping goes beyond simple stamped images. There really is a lot that you can do with stamps, too bad they are so blame expensive!

This is one of the envelopes that I decorated at the second station.

I had our instructor write the message (Versamark marker with clear embossing powder) because I liked her handwriting so much.

During the breaks we enjoyed a small selection of cheeses, chocolate biscotti, and these delicious meringues that I just couldn't eat because the texture reminded me too much of astronaut ice cream and a very, very bad sensory experience I once had at Sea World.

That was random.

Anyhow, we were also given a coupon for 10% off an entire purchase, and at the end of the workshop they closed the store for us so that we could shop.

We finally left a little after 9:30 pm, and Shorty -- because she's a crazy New Yorker and unconcerned for her personal safety -- walked back to her office in Foggy Bottom to finish some work. I, of course, do I even need to tell you? Took a cab home.

It really was a lot of fun to do some organized crafting, and it was especially fun being there with Shorty. As we were shopping after the workshop wrapped up, one of the workers came over and told us that she loved our dynamic. Shorty had just pulled a piece of paper from the wracks and asked me if I thought she needed it. My immediate response was, 'No, you don't need it, put it back. Now.' I boss because I care.

If you have a Paper Source near you, sign up for one of their workshops. It's fun, they give you all the supplies and instructions, and you get to be creative without having to come up with a project from scratch.

I wish I could do crafts with friends in well-light, trendy spaces more often.