Sunday, August 12, 2007

From this cluttered mind to our cluttered reality

I have a pieces of a grand plan buzzing in my head...if only I could get it together and get it out, I think some pretty great things could happen. Here's praying for clarity.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Neighborhood Updates

Now that you know and love Lou and Bernice, I thought I would share the latest:

1. In the last week, I have seen two deer running down (repeat...down, not across) Columbia Parkway, stopping traffic in both directions. I have also seen deer walking down the sidewalk (repeat...down the sidewalk) of my street. It is like they are following me around, pleading to me with their eyes to save them from Lou. I am haunted by deer.

2. The people at the very end of my street are growing corn. Not just a garden. Corn. There are huge stalks of corn growing there. And they aren't growing in their backyard or even their sideyard. They are growing in the grassy area between the street and the sidewalk (is that called an easement?). I seriously love this street. The laughs never, ever stop. Add to all this a certain house around the corner that houses a rooster which greets me in the morning, and you would scarcely believe I live in the city.

3. Bernice got a new dog this weekend. It is a 4 year old Pomeranian that she got from the pound. His name is Barney, and he is adorable. He seems to like me, but I think that is because I was petting him after I had just gone for a run, and he enjoyed licking the salt off of my skin. But I am not proud. I will win him over however I can. And I can see that Bernice is very, very happy. I am happy for her.

4. I met a neighbor from the apartments across the street when I went over to talk to Bernice and Barney. She is really nice and mentioned that her friend wants to be a child psychologist. Um...I think that was a gimme for making a connection, so I invited her and her friend over to barbecue sometime so that her friend can pick my brain and I can make more connections with neighbors. Anyone else wanna come? (Note - this WILL NOT be my next pie party, which incidentally will involve an amazing peach and creme fraiche concoction ala Martha Steward via Emily Pradera, so don't think you can get in the backdoor on this one).

5. Late breaking news - Bernice told me that a young, male architect bought one of the houses on my street. This could be promising. Maybe I will push up the timeline on that design work I want to do in my basement. Well, either that or reconsider the hot tub fund. Hmm...

Friday, July 27, 2007

One Down, Sixty-Two To Go

I have now officially watched Citizen Kane. I don't have much to say about it. I was pretty tired when I watched it, so that probably wasn't the best decision. I liked the message of the movie - the whole haunted by where things got off track in the past thing hits home a little. I would guess there were a lot of things about the film in general that were ahead of their time. Orson Welles knew what he was doing. One of the actresses really annoyed me, but I think that was intentional. That's all I have to say about that.

Next up...Raging Bull (#4 on AFI's list), as I am proud to say that I have already seen The Godfather (#2) and Casablanca (#3). I am really excited to see Raging Bull. It's one of those I have always intended to see but haven't made the time. Well, I soon won't be able to say that any longer. Who's in?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Who Needs TV When You Live in a Sitcom?

We all have them. Young or old, loud or reclusive, tasteful or tasteless...they come in all sorts. You guessed it. I'm talking about neighbors. And while we would all probably argue we deserve the prize, I think I would get at least an honorable mention in any "interesting" neighbor contest. Truth be told, though, I would not have it any other way. I love my neighbors. We get along, and I get all sorts of interesting and amusing stories as a bonus. Who could ask for more?

So let me introduce you...Meet Lou*. Lou is the first person that I got to know on my street, and he is incredibly nice. He mowed my lawn all last summer because he could tell I was having a hard time getting to it with all of stresses of moving into a house as a single person while maintaining a (more than) full time job. He trimmed the bushes around my house after asking permission, because he loves to garden. He gave me bulbs and even planted some for me. He gives me all sorts of tips on gardening, and he also knows the good gossip on the street (which I of course close my ears to completely).

Lou has probably provided me with the most amusement, though you could say it is a toss-up. He's at least in the top two. First, he gets really nervous and worked up about things. I will admit that I am not the most laid back of people, but the stuff this guy gets worked up about doesn't even occur to me, and I find myself trying to calm him down a lot. Then there's the way he will come outside to talk to me when I am out in my yard, bring up topics of conversation, and then abruptly state that he has to go, with a tone conveying annoyance that I am somehow keeping him (recap: he came out to talk to me, introduced the topic, and is standing in my yard).

The absolute best Lou story, however, is one that just keeps giving and giving. It began last summer, when Lou starting complaining about a deer in the woods behind our houses who would come into his yard and eat all of his flowers. This would come up every time we encountered one another. Now, I understood his frustration, as he has a beautiful flower garden and he works hard on it. As he kept talking about his failed efforts to put a stop to the sabotage, however, things got more serious. He started talking about how he was checking with the city to see if you could shoot a deer within Cincinnati city limits. I said, "yeah, um...I think you can't." That was all that I could get out verbally, because images of camouflage-clad, shotgun-touting Lou shooting a series of bullets into my yard as Bambi's life flashes before her eyes and a soundtrack of me yelling for all my barbecue guests to "hit the dirt" were going through my head. Lou continued to bring that subject up all last summer, and my house guests started somewhat avoiding him for fear he would bring it up again. They had all heard it before. Luckily, cold, hard winter set in for a while, but the talk of the perils of deer sprung once again with spring 2007. Tonight, he conveyed a particularly amusing story of how he saw a pregnant doe in my yard the other day. Beautiful, right? Wrong. He decided to run after it and throw a rock at it. Um...that frightens me a little. But really, the image of it just completely cracks me up. Aw...Lou.

Now, please allow me to introduce you to Bernice. Bernice lives across the street. She is somewhere in her 80's and lived with her rather overweight boxer named "King" when I moved in. She immigrated from Vienna with her husband as a young woman, and she has lived on this street for many, many, many years. She pretty much owns this street if attitude, experience, and knowledge counts for anything. She has always been very sweet to me, but I was warned early on not to get on her bad side, and I can see why. She is a tough lady. She is, however, also a lady who is very hard of hearing. I have been awakened many a summer morning to the sound of her repeatedly screaming "King" in an unbelievably high-pitched voice only to look at the window and see her prod him along with some sort of walking stick. Say what you want, but that woman loved her Kingy. Sadly, King died this spring, and she has been devastated. It has given me many opportunities to talk with her and get to know her better, though, and I am really enjoying it. When I recently returned home from Colombia, she came running out the door to see me as soon as she saw me again, and we talked for like 45 minutes even though I was really needing to be somewhere. We hugged. It was sweet.

My favorite with Bernice, though, is how she will often make statements like, "Oh, that's nice dear" when she can't hear what I just said. It reminds me of the King in the Princess Bride, when Princess Buttercup tells him that she is going to kill herself and he says, "Well, won't that be nice."

My mission now is to find out ways my other neighbors can amuse me. Oh, and I guess I will try to get to know them, too. Won't that be nice.

*names have been changed to protect these very friendly, helpful, and overall lovely people who just happen to provide me amusement even as I likely do the same for them with all of my idiosyncrasies and those of my visiting friends (e.g., Aaron Maxie, who, when Lou had his shirt off as he worked in his garden on a hot day and stated "nice to see you again, Aaron," responded, "nice to see, too. And I am seeing a lot, aren't I?")

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Colombia: Preludes

Once upon a time, five young professionals stepped onto an unknown path, traveling to Bogota, Colombia as part of their church plant's first international mission trip. They had been charged with a God-given mission to love Him and spread His love for others in both their local community (Clifton) and their broader global community. Loving others, serving others, and creating community by opening a coffee house were three components of that mission , so Colombia seemed an obvious choice. And then there was that small connection created by two adorable little boys born in Colombia and brought to the USA to be loved and raised by two great parents who also oversee this whole crazy thing called D'VINE.

The group worked with their broader church community to raise money and elicit donations of much-needed medical equipment for Luz y Vida , an amazing facility for orphaned children with special needs. Through these efforts, they were able to provide car seats, clothes, a patient lift, and, together with another group's donation, a much-needed commercial grade washer/dryer to replace the single household washer that was being employed to wash the clothes, diapers, and linens of the 120+ children cared for at the facility. They then traveled to Bogota to provide whatever hands-on help was needed in the orphanage, which generally included holding, feeding, changing, and otherwise entertaining the children as the staff worked tirelessly to meet their extensive basic and broader medical needs.

Through this experience, God worked in amazing ways. He touched the hearts of each team member, and, they were quite sure, touched the hearts of those served as well. Reflection will undoubtedly yield insights, musings, lessons, direction, and even callings for some time to come, and this is where our story begins...

Sometimes (or oftentimes) God doesn't have the same plan for us that we have for ourselves. His is always ultimately better, but it doesn't always seem like that at every point along the way. Then there are the times when He really throws a curveball - you don't know whether to swing or whether you should let it go because it's really not the best pitch for you in the moment.

Here's my recent curveball.

I know there was a divine purpose to this encounter, I just don't yet know what that is. I know it confirmed some things and brought some other fleeting possibilities closer to the forefront. I know this child touched my heart and, with that touch, brought a fresh touch from God. For now, that will be enough until the rest comes into focus.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Stop the Presses...

I officially have a new goal. Ok, in actuality, it’s not just a goal - it's more like a need. And by need, I mean it's kind of an obsession.

No - I am not referring to gin and tonic (I felt I needed to say that before my next run in with a certain friend of mine involves him jumping out of a parked car, pulling me off the sidewalk, and driving me out west to a famous clinic established by a former first lady). What I am referring to is the fact that I just saw AFI’s list of top 100 films of all time, and it is seriously bothering me that there are a lot of films I have never seen. There are a few I have never heard of (mostly silent films), but what disturbed me the most was the sheer number of films I have heard of, know to be famous and acclaimed films, and have just never set aside time to watch.

Do I hear you asking what I am going to do about this? Well, I am going to start with the top rated films and watch all the films I haven’t seen until I reach #100. When they add more and drop some, I will watch the new ones as well. Maybe I’ll watch some I’ve already seen, because I just can’t help myself. Maybe I’ll write reviews and stuff. The sky’s the limit when it comes to obsession.

First up…Citizen Kane. I seriously haven’t seen the #1 movie. How pathetic am I?* If you, too, are pathetic, feel free to join me.

*This question is rhetorical

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


You issue the invitation
Once, twice, countless times

Excitedly, I answer

Longing to come
My heart soon recoils into dark corners
Of a drawer full of broken promises

“Something came up,” I first say
Next, I bring guests to a date meant only for two
Always understaying my welcome

You never give up
Another missive arrives
Carrying peace which envelopes as the seal is broken

It is time
I cannot miss the opportunity
I cannot miss You

Not again

Receive my RSVP
Tied not with the fragile chains of will and resolve
But the tender longings of my heart

I go where I know You wait
This party for two is soon to begin