Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Mardi Gras parades are different from the Christmas parade in that they are always at least a little rowdy. And actually photographing the parade is difficult, especially when one is short, and one only makes the night parade. That's right folks, I missed out on the Red Hat Parade.

Plus there is the added aggravation of having to get there early to stake out your place, which does no good anyway, since people come along when the parade begins and they squeeze in front of you.

The most interesting part is walking down the street before the parade begins, taking in the sights.

We arrived early and I immediately spotted my first boody shot of the day! Remember the old kiddie joke, "Look Mom, there's a real horse's butt", usually said as we passed a trailor full of horses.

We took a walk down the street before the parade started and saw these folks selling Mardi Gras crowns.

You see all kinds of people walking the parade route, all shapes and sizes. Some people spend all day out here. They bring their barbecue pits and set up camp on the parade route.

Some people bring their bikes and ride the route. My daughter and I joked last year, saying we were going to ride bicycles in between the parades, taking pictures.

Poor dog, he was so ashamed of that girly Mardi Gras collar that he would not look me in the face.

These were two perfectly normal looking fellows walking down the street. They looked totally out of place.

This couple intrigued me the whole night. They obviously were not from here. The woman had on pantyhose and everything. Yuck!

And the man's suit was so wrinkled! I finally decided maybe they had rented costumes because that looked like the cheapest suit I have ever seen on a live person (in other words, it looked like one of those funeral home suits they bury people in, except this one did have a back on it!).

This poor child was packing her sister up and down the street. I know she did not need anyone to rock her to sleep tonight. And look at that Mardi Gras wig! Also note the plastic bag, useful for holding the candy and beads that are thrown from the floats.

Finally the floats arrive! It is not as easy as you think to throw beads from these floats. First of all, the beads do not fly straight through the air. And too many times you think you have caught someone's eye and you are going to throw to that person but you end up hitting someone else in the head, and the float moves on before you can even say "oops, I'm sorry". (Can you tell I rode on a float once?) Tonight I got hit in the head once or twice because I was too busy trying to take a picture.

You also have to manage to keep the strands of beads uuntangled enough to throw them out individually, while standing on a trailer that is swaying through the street. It ain't an easy job, riding the float.

This picture is not too clear (remember, it is dark now) but I included it because I liked the face sculpture on the float. Their hands are in the air because they are trying to get the attention of the people on the float, to get them to throw some beads. Some of the floats throw little moon pies in addition to beads.

This is what you have to manage to see through or around to see anything at these parades.

Now this man here, he grew two extra arms when the floats went by, and he snatched beads like they were worth something. I would move to one side of him and he would move over closer to me. Then I'd move to the other side of him, and he move closer to me. It was truly annoying. It was really all ok. We got plenty of beads in spite of him.

Even with the baby on his shoulders, the man was all arms, I tell you. All arms. And nine feet tall.

This was my view for a good portion of the parade:

And now, of course, what can I say? I mean, other than,

the end.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Away From My Desk

I'm taking some time away from the computer. Most likely I will be gone until after Easter. I will be using the time I gain to get my house in order, literally, and, I hope, spiritually. There has been a lot of stress in the last few years, and much of it seems ongoing. My family is suffering and there is not a whole lot I can do. Maybe the most loving thing I can do is try to get our home in order. I've just let it go right down the toilet, so to speak.

Rita may have left the building, but her handiwork abounds-- a one-woman art show, testimony to the power of nature. We can't forget her, there are reminders everywhere. And I know it weighs heavily on all of us in the area. I can't do much about the various devastations that dot the landscape of the world outside my home. But being surrounded by so much disorder outside our home makes it all the more important that I find a way to create a sanctuary within our home.

I have always loved the shape of this little church, though I also judge it to be highly impractical. I'd like to peek inside and see how the peak of the ceiling looks. It must be different now, worshipping without the light shining through the glass that was once there. I think it mught have been a large stained glass piece, which would have made for such interesting reflections in the sanctuary (the kind of thing that would distract me from the sermon!) .

That is why I have to take some time away from the computer. I get too distracted by all the reflections.

So, I'll be back. Mardi Gras is winding down around here.

If I make it to the parades I will post photos (if I can get them uploaded. I have had some trouble with the card, or the cord, or something). This year, for the first time, there will be a "Red Hat" parade, which should provide many unique observations (and I can talk freely about them, since I am now old enough to be a red hatter!)

Monday, February 20, 2006

My People Have Spoken

These Are The Things That I Are (the Johari window results)

"The value of a diary lies in its often contradictory elements rather than any general picture it may present. It is a series of sketches that are often difficult to reconcile with each other, rather than a coherent account of the person." Paul Tournier, The Meaning of Persons.

The first page in a new journal I bound myself. This is the second time I have tried to bind my own journal. It is an awkward job to do, and I am not sure the amount of satisfaction that I derived from stitching my own journal is worth all the fighting I had to do to keep the thread untangled and get the stitches right!

Whether the words are written in a hand-stitched journal or sent out over the internet, revealing ourselves to another person is still a complicated process. What I reveal here is only a small part of the elephant. What I write in my own hand is yet another. Even combined, they are still not a coherent account of me.

I choose to allow some parts of me to be seen (you know this about me, and I do too). Other parts, I skillfully hide (I know that about me, but you do not). And to make matters more complicated, I may not even be aware that I am trying to hide a part of me, yet others see the thing I am trying to hide as plain as the nose on my face (you know this about me, but I do not). These are three of the "panes" of the Johari window. And yet, there are still other parts that even I am not aware of (you don't know this about me, and neither do I). That is the fourth "pane" of the window.

So, am I complex? Fifty percent of my family I polled said yes. Thirty-seven percent of the bloggers who responded said yes. That makes eighty-seven percent, right? It's true, my mathematical genius is faulty, but yes, I am complex. And so are you. We are all complex, and wonderfully made. Do not forget that when you go out into the world. Stare in wonder at your fellow human beings, at their marvelous complexity. Consider our capacity to reveal ourselves to one another, and mourn our ability to deceive ourselves and others around us.

The traits that are in bold italics were selected by both groups:

I somehow managed to put adaptable on my family list, and relaxed on my blogger list, so my choice of traits was not exactly the same. The things that are "known to myself and others" are the traits that I picked that were also picked by others.

known to myself & others (bloggers):
idealistic (12%)
quiet (12%)
searching (50%)
not known to others:

known to myself & others (family):
calm (10%)
idealistic (10%)
quiet (20%)
searching (20%)
trustworthy (70%)
not known to others:

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tell Me What You See (Please)

I saw this first on
Spooky Rach's blog, and then on The Princess' blog. I first heard of the Johari Window (you can click on "JM" in the index box on the left hand side for a summary of the Johari Window) several years ago and I found it to be an interesting concept. If you would, I am asking you to follow this link (I've had trouble getting the correct link in here, mine should say "annie o") and pick five or six traits that you think apply to me. You can sign your self as anonymous if you'd like.

Here is the twist: I have sent a separate window link out to a few friends and family members. I think it will be fun to compare the results of the two windows. If you will oblige me, I would be ever so grateful, and I will probably post the results at a later date.

I fully expect that there will be discrepancies in my windows. What did they call that in Science class? A hypothesis. I am not sure why I expect discrepancies, but I do.

More later (and thanks for playing along).

Friday, February 10, 2006

I've Been Thinking

(Three stories and two pictures that may or may not be related...I don't know what it all means.)

I Have Seen Another*

I met a twenty-something woman who looked at the fourteen-year-old pregnant girl and quietly said, “I once walked in her shoes.” And I saw the woman’s outer garments, those things that are seen by the world—she was a competent and compassionate nurse. I saw a woman pulled together.

Expecting a neatly wrapped answer, a fairy tale ending, I asked, with great hope in my voice, “Where is the baby?”

And she dropped her head and answered, “my parents had me get an abortion.” I saw, for a fleeting moment, the girl who was undone, the child who was broken. It was an intimate portrait that I will never forget.

We hugged and cried that day, just for a minute, and then we both eased back into our roles and went on about our business. It was only a moment. I often think of her.

How quickly I forget that the ministry of service is often birthed from great pain and sorrow.

I Have Heard

It wasn’t long ago that I recommended him to a woman I had only recently met. We were visiting with a mutual friend who was in town and had decided to kill two birds with one stone by gathering several of us together at the local Starbucks for a “ya-ya”, as she called it. The conversation had already encompassed a couple of divorces, and the problem of setting boundaries with grown children over issues of babysitting grandchildren and dealing with parents who are pack rats, when the subject of my son’s substance abuse issues came up.

And so I told her, that woman, about the man, this counselor, who had helped me maintain at least a semblance of sanity as I was coping with my son’s issues. Someone else had already given her his name. I sang his praises. And then I remembered one tiny little thing that might offend the woman I was talking to, for she was a delicate Southern Christian woman, and he was an occasionally abrasive Yankee man who sometimes used this one particularly offensive word. So I warned her: “Now he does cuss a little bit, you’ll have to overlook that and know that he knows what he is doing. His heart is in what he does. He is a Christian man.” (That is how I had bragged on him, until I remembered the one tiny little thing).

And here is what she said: “Well, gosh, I imagine he does cuss. That’s understandable. Look at the kind of people he works with”.

Excuse me? Okay. What kind of people does he work with? Those kind of people, that is what kind. Not people like us, no, those kind of people.

How often I forget that one cannot truly minister to another human being if they think in terms of those kind of people (whoever those kind of people might be) as being worse than they themselves are. Those kind of people (whoever those kind of people might be) can smell that kind of haughty attitude from a mile away, and they want no part of that.

I Have Observed

It was a bit of a fluke that we were even there at the gospel concert, my daughter and I, but we were there, in a little country church, at the gospel concert, singing "I’ll Fly Away" with the two big-haired widow women beside us who were doing their best to outshine each other as lead backup singer. Yes, I must admit that I thought to myself as I tried to drown the warbling songbirds’ voices out of my ears—hmmm, blog fodder, but when the women settled down, and the concert started, what I saw was beauty in the oddest place.

His left arm was missing. I mean his entire left arm – no stub at the shoulder – nothing. I noticed it when he got up to go to the bathroom during the concert. He put his sports coat on and his wife tucked the empty sleeve into his pocket for him. When he came back he sat down directly in front of us.

At the beginning notes of one of the songs, I heard him utter “oh”, like he had been struck, and he looked over at his wife. Apparently that particular song meant something special to him. It held a personal connection to his life. And I watched him sit up straighter and he leaned forward as if not to miss a single word or note. In the time it took for the quartet to sing that song, I observed a personal moment between this man and his God. For me, there was great beauty in that moment.

As I watched and took it all in, I thought how sad it was that this man had no way to clap along with the lively music and no way to express his appreciation. So when the song was finished, I applauded heartily. I wanted to be that man’s hands, praising God, who is able to touch each one of us right where we are, in whatever shape we are in. I thought to myself, this is how God gives sound to one hand clapping. He comes to one who is observing from a distance, and invites her to join in by asking, “Would you like to help this child of mine? Go ahead and clap. I'll sit with you while you do.”

I don’t remember which song it was that “got” the old man, but I know which one it was for me:

There will be grace,
Grace to make it through this trial.

There will be strength,
strength to walk another mile.

There will be hope,
when I’ve done all I can.

I’m glad to know,
It’s in the Savior’s hands.

Salt of the earth? Sometimes the concept is still a little blurry to me. All I know is that on some days, we are the ones being seasoned through the various trials of our lives. And on other days, we are the ones who are the seasoning, the taste of grace in another's life.

(* "I Have Seen" was inspired by Penni's post, entitled "14", on February 10.)

Happy Birthday Granny

These are a few of my grandmother's spoons.

She would have been ninety years old today.
I think she was poor all her life, but she always had enough.
She taught me to quilt.
She cooked biscuits and cornbread on a wood stove,
even after she had a gas stove.
That's her front door in my blog profile photo.
She was a strong woman.
At the end of her life,
she did not know who I was.
I was surprised at how much that hurt,
not being known by your own grandmother.
She liked to ask (nosy) questions when she already knew the answers.
I liked to tease her, saying
if you already know the answer,
why do you ask the question?"
She would just giggle at me.
Her middle name was Elzeral,
but nobody knows for sure how to spell it.
She was a simple woman,
she was a good woman.

(modeled after the stories found on Story People, many thanks to Ayekah, for introducing me to these charming stories.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006