Thursday, August 30, 2007

jasmine and other things right with the world

I've only recently discovered that I like jasminey things. I fear you will not believe me. I endeavor to convince you:
  • jasmine is my favorite tea. I'm not even sure that I'm dippy about the about the taste, but the smell when you're cuddling a nice hot cuppa is either bliss or his very cute younger brother)
  • jasmine rice is tip-top. I only know that from this week: I tried it by itself (i.e. not smothered in something else saucy and strongly flavored) in my rice cooker and was quite carried away with enchantment. I hope the leftovers do not stay in my fridge long enough to take on a life of their own and start issuing commands - I'm quite sure I'd be powerless to disobey.
  • my cousin is named Jasmine. Of course - I only met her when she was very very small, but (circularity aside) with a name like that, how could she be anything but charming?
  • isn't the word itself, jasmine, evocative of rare and exotic things?!
I rest my case!

Speaking of fridges... I've been wondering lately why they're called refrigerators. Why not just frigerators? Where did we get this big "re" idea? Most things that go in there seem to start out hot, including cow's milk and eggs!

OK, here's a quote from a book I'm reading.
"there is something terribly wrong with life. I don't mean that it's hard or cruel or painful. That much is obvious. There's something about life that doesn't make sense, something that's wrong with the whole picture. And this idea that life is skewed in some way is very much tied to the whole problem of human suffering.
... Anyone who can appreciate a dazzling summer sunset, or a crisp, orange autumn day, or a magnificent symphony, or the smile on the face of a beautiful girl can see that these marvelous works of creation simply don't belong in the same world as a cancer ward, a hospice, or a cemetery. It's not enough to say that the world is full of both good and bad things. That explanation simply doesn't suffice. The good things in life are just too good; the bad things are just too awful. They just can't be part of the same plan. C.S. Lewis put it best; he said that human beings instinctively know that the good things in life are supposed to exist, while the cruel, painful things are not. He said that somehow we know that "right" has a right to be there, while "wrong" has no right whatsoever."
Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To, Anthony DeStefano, pp.67-68
I like it - although I would of course use jasmine (be it the word, the tea, the rice, or the cousin) to exemplify the category of things that are right in the world!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

cabbages and kings

Today I sampled the delights of a sweet, sunny and cool Wisconsin Sunday from the seat of a motorcycle. We did a 160-ish mile loop through many small towns, including King where we made an obligatory stop for ice cream. I didn't want to; I thought we should press on and be more intense about getting miles behind us, but my traveling buddies would have none of it. ;) I hadn't gone on a hour+ ride for probably two years, so it was definitely overdue. My bike is an old beater, but it does the job and it's small enough that I can boss it around. Had one heart-stopping moment where I failed to read the "20 mph" advisory sign for a sharp curve, and ended up in the other lane... thankfully there were no oncoming cars. I have several coworkers who have recently taken lessons, so I think I might be going out on a smaller ride later this week. Anybody want to come?
And while I'm in recruiter mode: Larry from church is trying to recruit people for a kickball league in Neenah on Wednesday nights - anybody up for that?! I'm too escared to do it without moral support; 'specially because I think I'd be lousy and particularly at disadvantage to all those people who played soccer growing up!

In other news, I'm slogging my way through the Bible reading plan I mentioned earlier. It's not terrible or anything, but it's historical reading right now in the book of II Chronicles... started out with building the temple in Jerusalem, and following on with accounts of Solomon and his descendants. I always get bummed out reading about the bad kings who really screw things up and do nasty stuff - and thinking about the suffering that it causes all their subjects. I'm tempted to bail, and go for a different reading plan. I found this and may opt for a different one before long, but should probably stick with this one for a little longer just to see how it goes. Other suggestions? There actually are bits in there that would be interesting to discuss; so let me know if you read any of them and want to talk about it!

Oh - and sorry there are no cabbages in this post - but it sounds so much better than just "kings"! Wait, here:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


So there's this story about slavery in modern-day China, and then there's this one about tracking people in Shenzhen, and now there's this one about regulating reincarnation (that one strikes my fancy, though, somehow)!

I really would like to talk to some of the people I knew from China in college and get their thoughts on this stuff... Somehow my inability to "get it" when it comes to this amazing and frightening place bugs me. I hear such random tidbits, that I really wonder about everyday life for the "average" Chinese person - if there is such a thing! I would love to visit, actually, but to be honest it would be more for the experience than from a belief that I would actually like it there. I think I would like the food!

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Well! I think I can chalk this past weekend up to once-in-a-very-long-while sorts of experiences: Javier, Serena, Justin, Ben and I landed in Eau Claire to watch the 2007 Boomerang National Championships. Javier and I actually headed up on Thursday night, and so on Friday got to catch the nice, sunny day of the event - and some of the more fun competitions - fast catch (how long does it take you to throw and catch a boomerang five times) and trick catch (picture on left - Dan threw 2 booms at the same time, just caught the first, and is holding it in his mouth as he catches the second) among others. We got to hang out with a bunch of the competitors - many of the best boomerangers in the States - and listen to their stories and watch them compete. Joce joined us for dinner, and we were later joined by the rest of the crew. The weather wasn't nearly as fun Saturday and Sunday (it was cold and rainy!), but it was still great fun to be around such quirky amazingness. [pics]

Bro Dan, who was competing, ended up getting 3rd in the Aussie Round (a combination of distance, accuracy and catching), which was very cool - but because he had done consistently well in all of the other events, he got 2nd in the all-around tournament!! It will be neat to see how things go next year as the World Cup will be held in Seattle, with team trials in the spring.

There were tons of stories flung about throughout the weekend, but one of the best actually happened during the competition: Katie, the sister of the Bauer brothers, headed to Shopko for sunscreen on Thursday (I think). She found the pink bottle of Banana boat spray stuff, and ended up picking up the last in the store. She paid, and was walking out with her bag, when a mom spotted the sunscreen in her bag, grabbed the bag away, and hit Katie on the head with it!! She then took off, and only because the store manager happened to be watching was she intercepted and the precious sunscreen commodity returned to the stunned and speechless Katie! So much for midwestern friendliness! Katie did assure us she bore no ill will toward Wisconsinites in general, which I thought magnanimous given the circumstances. I would have loved to have watched that one unfold.

My favorite part of the weekend was hanging out with my nephews & niece who I hadn't seen in far too long... definitely overdue!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bohnanza & Boomerangs!

Tuesday is game night, and tonight we played Bohnanza, the bean game. It's a sweet German card game, but to our chagrin we found ourselves without it after Ben moved to the Twin Cities and Patrick moved to Colorado within the past few months. The only possible explanation is that they BOTH callously took their copies of the game with them when they moved away. Snookpotters. Folks in Wisconsin are people too, you know. If we had known their true intentions, we never would have let them go. Serena saved the day, however, and generously spent a gift card she got for her birthday on her very own game-with-expansion-pack. It was a new one for Javier, and made for a fun night. Now we'll just have to keep a wary eye on Serena. Maybe it's the game that causes such mysterious nomadic behavior.

We had fun talking about/planning a bit for the Boomering Nationals which are being held in Eau Claire this weekend. It sounds like me, Ben, Justin, Javier, and now maybe Serena will be able to make the pilgrimage to see the wonders of trick catching and MTA event. Javier and I will both get time with our families, and there are rumors of other fun things that may be happening as well!

On a completely different note, this week is the one-year anniversary of when my dad came home from the hospital for his last week with us. I'm debating about putting another post out on his blog, but I'm not sure what I would say, really. Will take some thought. Sure miss him and wish he was still here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

what did they do before squeegees?

Yesterday I reacquainted myself with my apartment. It's quite a nice place, really. I forget that when I get lonely and ratchet up the busy-ness to compensate. I actually did quite a few "spring-cleany" things: washing bedspreads, lampshades & windows. I used to clean the outsides of the sliding doors with Windex and a gajillion paper towels, but it's so dang dirty out in that great outdoor world that it would take forever. Then I got a cheap little squeegee thing and it takes me some soapy water, a few minutes and no paper towels . Ahhhh! (see how clean that window is?!)

Today I went to two different church services. One at my regular church, and one at "the bar church" to hang with some friends. Really had a great time at both - I hadn't been to my church for quite a few weeks with all the different weekend stuff that's been going on, and it's so fun to see and catch up with "my family". John's talk today was on Nehemiah 8: "No Spiritual Well-being is Complete without Scriptural Input." I got to thinking about that... do you agree? He acknowledged that people may have different spiritual pathways - ways that people feel closest to God (through nature, solitude, activism, serving others, etc.) - but that without regular times of listening to/learning about/connecting with God through written scripture, we shortchange ourselves in our ability to be close to Him. I do try to read the Bible every day, but he challenged me to try to be a little more purposeful about it. I just looked quick and found this (looks like there are heaps of them out there ) I think I'll try the Story of the Bible one, even though I'll be starting in the middle since it's August, and see how far I get! If you have any interest in doing the same, that would be awesome - you'll keep me going, and we can talk about it as things stick out to us!

Part of the challenge of the above, for me, is to have the humility to actually acknowledge that I really might need something like this. I've been hearing stuff like the above all my life, right? Well, at the bar church, the talk was on humility. Greg had his sister-in-law, who's been in recovery from drug addiction for over 20 years, come up and talk about how humility is a huge component of staying clean and sober. In our "quick fix" world, it's so hard to acknowledge our own brokenness, our inability to fix ourselves. The addict mindset is an "I can handle it" one. (Yeep!) But for ongoing recovery, we desperately need to acknowledge our inability to (on our own) handle the things that can literally kill us. Without getting overly personal (after all, I'm pretty new to this idea of blogging to update my friends on where I'm at! I don't want to OVERshare!), I can say that when I feel most numb, most rootless, least equipped to deal with the confusing things that my life throws at me, I am usually farthest from my last good, intentional time spent with God and His people.

Tonight we have our St. Louis trip reunion. Josh is actually coming up for it - woo hoo! Apparently he found a friend who was willing to drive up with him. Also, my friend Paula is getting back from a week of being with her family - one of her nephews died last weekend. So I think Erin and I will try to stop by and see her and Dave as well.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

motorbikes & little things

Tonight I went for a motorcycle ride with my friend Wendy. I haven't ridden it much this summer at all, as it was out of commission. I had forgotten how great it is to be tooling along a country rode in the midst of a sunset and the (varied!) smells of the country. We stopped at Tom's Drive In in Little Chute and had a great time catching up. Now I'm off to visit my buddy Jon at Barnes & Noble. I haven't seen him all summer either, and am looking forward to catching up. (I posted the photo for Joce, based on her comments!)

Current Reading:
I'm listening to Shadow of the Hegemon on tape, reading Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus for our book club (which is starting to bother me a tad - I may not finish), Kotter's Leading Change and Schon's The Reflective Practioner for work, and Wodehouse and C.S. Lewis to fill in the gaps (like when I leave a book in the car and am too lazy to run down and get it). Shadow of the Hegemon has me most absorbed right now, and I might cheat and go to printed soon because the pace drives me crazy!