Monday, October 27, 2008

A Drive In New Mexico-Farewell to Tony Hillerman

“You white people can’t drive,” he said, smelling of alcohol. In between my wife, the ice box, the water bottles and our luggage sat two large Native Americans. En route to Canyon De Chelly we took the proverbial ‘short cut’ down a semi-paved road in New Mexico. We were exploring the area around Shiprock, Farmington, and Many Farms, as these are prominent in the novels of Tony Hillerman.

Out of place on my street, but a perfect fit for the clay red road and big blue sky were shepherds and cowboys, cows and wild horses. An Indian woman appeared at the side of the road driving sheep. The road developed deeper and deeper ruts and less and less paving. The scenery grew in color and complexity; blood reds, citrine yellows, bone whites; and the two lone men walking.

Stopping to ask them where we were, they asked us to give us a ride back the way we came. Apparently, the road we were on would not take us (expediently) to where we wanted to go. The road was rutted with tire marks on either side of a high, rail-like middle. I’m driving and trying to keep the tires in line with the road, while each bounce slams the undercarriage against the bump in the middle. This is made much worse by the extra six-hundred pounds of Native American squeezed into the Toyota. The Indians continue to rant about my driving, the wife interjecting commentary, and I imagine the oil pan slamming into the road one-to-many times before it shatters into a million pieces. Finally, I’d had enough. I stop the car. At the top of my lungs, I scream, “Everybody out!” Realizing that I was serious, and very near the edge, the men leave the vehicle. We leave them with two water bottles, and continue on our way.

I have deeply enjoyed each of the Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn novels. If not for Hillerman, I would have missed out on the previous adventure. Greater still, I would have missed out on a respectful and well-balanced look into the Navajo culture tied in with some wonderful mystery writing. Finally, I would never have met Jim Chee or Joe Leaphorn, two fictional members of the Navajo Tribal police department, two men of deep character and integrity who rank among my top ten leading characters in the mystery genre.

I am saddened by the thought that there will be no more Joe Leaphorn or Jim Chee stories. Tony Hillerman died yesterday, at the age of 83.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Next Time Girls, Stow The Phones

Because Hailey's always worried about her friend's pics appearing here! The girl with cell phone WAS NOT staged.

Hailey celebrated her birthday today with five other girls. All one year from becoming teenagers (the technical age for becoming a teenager is one that ends in "teen"*). Three of the five girls spent a good portion of the day texting and talking on their phones. Until Hailey's parents ripped their heads off, er,graciously requested that they stow their phones.

I don't know if this behaviour says more about Hailey's friends or about Hailey's generation. I do know that the Millenials are heavy into this type of behaviour. The word that came to mind was Gestalt; the idea of fully experiencing the moment. Seems like they are missing that. Supposidly, the engineer of the Simi Train Wreck
was texting instead of paying attention to the red warning light.

My guess is that it isn't the technology at fault here. More than likely it's the parents that aren't plugged in.

*That's my interpretation anyway

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Boy Scouts Missing the Boat

Obfuscate true North, chuck the compass and bury the anchor! Part of the reason I became a Christian is that I was a Boy Scout. Part of the Scout Oath reads, “To do my duty to God and my country...” Repeating the Scout Oath two or three times a week, I thought it might be a good idea to find out who my God was. How could I do my duty if I didn’t know what was required of me?

The final sentence of the Scout Oath states that I will “keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” Today’s Boy Scouts are being taught “how to procure and use condoms.” Just great. How does one keep oneself morally straight without something to measure straightness against?

What if Godly principles were being taught? What if “morally straight” was defined by Judeo-Christian principles?

Duty to God implies principles one lives by. Morally straight can only be understood in the context of God as anchor for one’s soul. Perhaps we’re missing the boat here.

Update: Additional comment from Dillo follows in the comments section. Bottom line: We need to provide a godly, principled and moral response to sexuality, rather than "They're going to have sex anyway...."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday at the Movies-Modern Shoot Em Up or Western?

Tough choice tonight: Whether to go see Appaloosa or Body of Lies. Which do you think I chose?

I agree fully with Roland Zwick when he said, "the characterizations are rich, the relationships complex and the performances authentic, the movie itself suffers from a bad case of inertia, loping along at an enervating pace when it should be racing ahead at a full-on gallop."

The friendship between Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) was convincing, deep and enjoyable to watch. Jeremy Irons rocks in any role, and how can you not love any character (Dean) played by Luce Rains.

If you want cinematography, this isn't the film to see (instead you can rent The Assassanation of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford or 3:10 to Yuma).

If you're a guy, I think you'll enjoy Appaloosa. If you are going out to see a movie, it is worth shelling out the bucks for this one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall at the Preserve

I went hiking at the Preserve this past weekend. It is constantly amazing to me how much it changes from month to month; different texture, various vibrant colors, and interesting wild life.

This guy literally followed me through a thicket. Every time I would stop, he (?)would hop to the branch just-out-of-reach and just above my head.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I'll Know It When I See It

Since setting my goals at the end of the Summer, I've been looking for a stand to set plants on. I had this image in my head of what I wanted, but could not find anything resembling my mental image. I've been growing more and more frustrated and ready to settle for anything, an old toilet, a wheelbarrow, a shelf....because I could not find the ideal.

There is a thrift store next to my pharmacy. On a whim, I dropped in. And I found it. Can't go wrong for $6.99. I think I'll repaint it black; or a dark green. Then buy the plants! Yes!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What Do You Want On Your Tombstone?

What do you want on your tombstone? I'm not talking about a pizza ad. I've spent some time on the counsellor's couch. It was during a dark period in my life. My marriage was crashing. In the grip of an ongoing bad habit, no visible hope of getting out. No vision for my future, no (seeming) hope for my present. During one of my sessions, my counsellor asked these questions: How many people do you want at your funeral? What do you want them to say about you? What don't you want them to say about you? What do you want on your tombstone?

What I didn't want said was easier. "Nice guy. Lukewarm. Always seeking, never arriving." What I wanted said-more difficult.

It's been 5 years or so since I sat on that couch. My perspective is much clearer now. Hope for life is consistently visible. Some of the answers to the questions clearer; some I'm still wrestling with. At my service, I'd like to see the church full of folks. I want them to say I was a little intense. That I was a good father. That Hailey's passion for Christ reflects my heart. That I knew God, and His joy, and that I desired that others embrace that Joy as well.

On my tombstone: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves..." (2 Cor. 4:7). Beloved father of Hailey, Lover of Christ, Servant to men.

What do you want on your tombstone?

"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but that I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus."

Saturday, October 04, 2008

From Carmen to Classroom-People Coming Alive Files

She said she was a teacher. I asked her how long she'd been teaching. "I've been doing it for a year. I used to be a professional opera singer. One day I was teaching children, and I realized that I was having much more fun than I ever have on stage. So I turned in my contract, and started teaching." Not only did she make the change to the classroom, but to special education! "Children, today we'll be singing Tosca. You each have a copy of the libretto. Please sing along."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Him In Whom the Fullness Dwells

For it pleased the Father, that in Him all the fullness should dwell,
And by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross-Colossians 1:19,20

Dear God,

What I’m feeling isn’t pain-exactly,
Nor emptiness.
In my darkness, frailty, and confusion,
I think holding a woman would,
End the discomfort.

To fill the emptiness,
I will turn to things I can feel, touch and taste.
Like David before me,
Bottle and bathing beauties soothe my boredom.
God, I will submit to weakness,
To feel something beside not feeling.

Bread I can eat, wine I can drink,
Both I can taste.
God of wheat, Owner of the vineyard,
Who knew me in the womb,
Be my sustenance and satisfaction,
Him in whom The Fullness dwells,
Be my fullness and comfort.