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Archive for May, 2008

Right now

Some things I’m loving


1. Farmers’ market popcorn. I get to meet the people who grow it, it comes in a glass jar, and it pops up amazing. I like to make popcorn in a pan, with oil, shaking it occasionally over the stove top. I put salt on the unpopped kernels before I start, and then it’s just the right amount of salty when it’s done. This organic farm corn is the best I’ve popped–it pops really quickly, and all white and fluffy, and nearly every single kernel pops.

2. The public library. Okay–maybe because I was already working in the school library when I moved to NY, or maybe because I have unlimited access to all of CU’s libraries…I don’t know, I just never checked out the NYC public libraries. Well, given how fast I read novels, it was about time. I went in last week, got my card (free! easy! fast!) and within ten minutes had checked out three books of fiction. Which have lasted a week. Sometimes I finish a really good, 120-200 page novel in two to three days, and then feel bad for having paid twenty dollars for it. No longer. Now I can read for free all summer.

3. Top Chef. It’s another show that we often watch, because on a dorm floor, a particular kind of show is easier/more fun to watch as a group. But lately, I’ve been trying to watch less Law&Order, because I think it adds to my anxiety. Top Chef has been fitting the bill–it has a kind of routine to it, same “schedule” in every episode, and I really like seeing what they make. I don’t think the in-fighting, but usually that only happens in the last four-five minutes. I think they cook too fancy, though. Why don’t they just make a delicious, flaky, buttery biscuit sometime? I think the judges would gobble that up.

4. The Crafty CrowI love this blog. I’m often looking for little projects to do with my Sunday school charge, but sometimes “modern” crafts get too…mass-produced? Like you have to buy a kit or special play-doh accessories to do them. Crafty Crow is very old-school, but in a beautiful way. Old-fashioned crafts that are cheap, or involve recycling–they remind me of things we did in Girl Scouts or 4-H. And the photographs and commentary are very sweet and pretty.

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In Flanders Fields (1915)

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae

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My laptop was in the shop for a week.  At first, I missed it terribly.  I needed to check Facebook a few times a day, and keep up with all the blogs I read, and read Salon as I get ready for work, instead of stealing glances at it while actually at work.  Let alone e-mailing, and Flickr, and blogging. 

But then, I found that I often could get my Internet fix at work, and not really care about it in the evening.  It was interesting to actually watch television without my laptop in my lap, to actually pay attention to what was happening.  I also can check e-mail on my zippy phone, and I noticed that I actually don’t get that many e-mails between leaving work and getting there again the next morning.  So.  It wasn’t so bad.  I should get on the Internet less, I think.

And then, yesterday, we went to see _Prince Caspian_, which was amazing and beautiful and true.  I thought about how Peter and Susan spend less time thinking about/believing in/looking for Aslan, when he is constantly on Lucy’s mind.  I began to feel guilty about the lack of time I spend in prayer, as well as realizing (again) that it’s a true relationship, and I must make time for it.

So now I’m thinking that I should give up some of my morning computer time (incessant searches, news reading, e-mail checking) and spend it in prayer.  Or at least, be a little quieter and more reflective, and open to God’s presence.

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Last Sunday, when I was teaching Sunday school, the discussion was about Zacchaeus–the disliked, short, tax collector who climbed up in the tree to see Jesus as he passed by.  One of the points of the story is that Zacchaeus was a cheater, and a liar, but had a complete change of heart after dining with Christ.  He was totally different, can gave his money away afterwards.

To begin the discussion with the kids (ages five to eight or nine), I asked about examples of cheating.  I was thinking of cheating in games, or maybe in school.  But these kids are pretty young to really be as concerned about cheating on tests or homeworks–that’s what I was thinking.

One of the boys, who is eight, began to talk about how he cheats in school.  He was gloating about it, proud, and enjoying the fact that I and a few other of the students were shocked.  He talked about how easy it is, and how his teacher doesn’t know.

I have to admit–I didn’t know what to do.  I was surprised, first of all.  And I tried to brush away the implication of what he was saying, “Oh, you don’t really cheat.  Your teacher probably knows what you’re doing.” 

To make it worse, another little girl (who is perceived as less popular) chimed in that she would _never_ cheat.  This sentiment egged the boy on to smirk and say that he did it every day.

I know that I didn’t handle the situation well.  I indicated that it was wrong, but I didn’t have just the right thing to say about it.  I’ve been thinking about it all week, wondering what I might have said.  The boy’s mother is, in fact, a schoolteacher.  But I get the feeling that she would be angry at him for _saying in Sunday school_ that he cheats, more than angry that he cheats.  And that would make it worse, I think.  That would just tell him that he has to be craftier.  I still haven’t figured out what the best thing would have been to do.

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Giving blood

I gave blood today.  It was M’s idea; he’s been doing it pretty regularly for long before I knew him.  The past few times I’ve had the opportunity, I wasn’t able because I’d been to Haiti too recently.  And once, they couldn’t find a vein.  (They dug around for a while, digging, digging, and finally apologized and thanked me for trying.)

The blood drive was combined with a health fair in the school where M. teaches.  Student volunteers ushered us around, most officiously and full of importance.  They were great, insisting that we drink juice and carrying our bags.  I was looking around, and I thought, “I want to give blood, too.” 

So I filled out the paperwork–that series of questions, “Have you ever…?” is such an encapsulation of the fears and knowns of our society today–and waited my turn.  I chatted with the nurses, asked some questions (I’m always curious about medical technology, and equipment), and waited my turn.

Finally, I laid on the beach chair and let the nurse look at my arms.  As expected, she couldn’t really find any veins, on her first look.  She called a male RN over for advice, and he showed her how to find her best chance.  I was a little nervous.  When I’ve needed an IV, I’ve had to take it in the hand, such are the shy and hiding ways of the veins of my arms.

But the nurse did a fine job, and only dug a bit–this digging, or rooting, for the vein is the weirdest part, especially when I consider that this is part of my body, connected to all the other parts of my body, and something from _outside_ is touching it.  Incising it. 

Soon I was all hooked up and taped down, and I obediently pumped the little hand-thing, while the blood came out of me.  It’s so, so strange, that with all of the technology we have, we still need the blood of another person.  The literature we had available said that a car accident victim can use up to 50 units of blood–that’s fifty volunteers like me.  A cancer patient can need 6 units of platelets a day.  A day!

After it was over, and my blood was neatly packaged in a little rubber bag, I asked the nurse if it was warm, and could I feel for myself.  She said it was, and of course.  I put my hand on the bag, and yes, my blood was very warm.  So strange, again, that this was inside me only moments ago, but will still _work_ and do everything blood is supposed to do, not too long from now, when someone else needs it. 

What a crazy undertaking.  It’s a good thing to do, and interesting.  I learned that I have excellent iron counts, and remembered that our bodies are strange and weirdly known and mysterious.

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