A Salt Water Girl

Posted on Wednesday 1 April 2009

Her name was Jane. I had the good fortune to work with her on the staff of a Houston church for seven sweet years. When I began the job, I was 30 – and she was 84. She was born in 1906, just a few months before the San Francisco earthquake, in a little Texas [...]

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Leigh @ 11:06 am
Filed under: Wednesday Words
As Dark as it Gets

Posted on Wednesday 25 March 2009

Johann Sebastian Bach’s The St. John Passion was first performed on Good Friday in Leipzig, Germany, some 280 years ago. I heard it for the first time in a small Lutheran church in Houston, Texas. The libretto combines the text of John’s Gospel, stanzas of old church hymns, and poetic text. It is not known who [...]

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Leigh @ 9:54 am
Filed under: Wednesday Words
Shine

Posted on Tuesday 23 May 2006

When I was 10 or 11, I participated in a city-wide championship spelling bee. The “bee” contestants were all “winners” from their schools or school districts and it’s been quite a long time, but I think there were probably 100 or so of us in the competition. That’s the truth of the story. I spelled a bunch of hard words in a row and got to go to the big meet. (Once a word-nerd, always a word-nerd.)

Now for the humility footnote: I missed my very first word – and it was only five letters long. I could have spelled “xylophone” or “prestidigitator” – but they didn’t ask me those words. They asked me to spell “easel.” And I did: e-a-s-l-e. At the time I was also taking art lessons and painting on an e-a-s-e-l once a week. The judge leaned into the microphone, said “that is incorrect,” and I went to my seat duly embarrassed. Five letters.

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admin @ 8:24 pm
Filed under: Wednesday Words
Inside the junk drawer

Posted on Tuesday 23 May 2006

Most folks I know have a junk drawer, and I’m no different. The first drawer closest to the kitchen door is the one – and a not long ago, it refused to open. At first I ignored this inconvenience, but in a fairly short time I realized that although the contents of my junk drawer are a random assemblage of uncategorized “stuff”, I open it a lot. Because you never know. The odd thing I’m looking for just might be in there.

When the unavailable contents of my junk drawer began to really torment me, I stuck my head underneath the cabinet to see if I could fix the problem. The drawer had simply fallen off its “track,” and needed to be pulled out completely and set right. It took awhile, but I finally removed it.

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admin @ 8:22 pm
Filed under: Wednesday Words
A hero in the wings

Posted on Tuesday 23 May 2006

Jason McElwain is only a senior in high school, and he has done two things I’ve never done and certainly never will: sunk six consecutive three-pointers in a varsity basketball game, and sat on Oprah Winfrey’s couch to talk about it.

Jason wasn’t really a player on the varsity team to begin with. He has autism, and was accustomed (and happy) to be on the sidelines, chasing stray balls, gathering up towels, and clapping and encouraging the “real” players at every opportunity. As a reward for his dedication, his coach let him suit up for his very last home game – and to everyone’s shock and surprise, he called Jason to floor with four minutes left in the game.

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admin @ 8:19 pm
Filed under: Wednesday Words
She blooms

Posted on Saturday 1 April 2006

The azaleas bloomed first. They were an early surprise. The warm winter must have tricked them into thinking it was March, and they exploded into early color almost overnight – then were just as quickly gone. Their internal sentry said “Bloom!” and the whole hedge obeyed in a fuchsia rush.

Then nothing blossomed for weeks. Nothing.

Grief makes grey of everything, and lately it has leached most of the color from my world. But last week – the same awful week that placed a final mark of punctuation on my sadness – the lone rose bush in my backyard sprung to Technicolor life. And it hasn’t stopped blooming yet.

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admin @ 1:31 pm
Filed under: Wednesday Words
Inside the junk drawer

Posted on Saturday 1 April 2006

Most folks I know have a junk drawer, and I’m no different. The first drawer closest to the kitchen door is the one – and a not long ago, it refused to open. At first I ignored this inconvenience, but in a fairly short time I realized that although the contents of my junk drawer are a random assemblage of uncategorized “stuff”, I open it a lot. Because you never know. The odd thing I’m looking for just might be in there.

When the unavailable contents of my junk drawer began to really torment me, I stuck my head underneath the cabinet to see if I could fix the problem. The drawer had simply fallen off its “track,” and needed to be pulled out completely and set right. It took awhile, but I finally removed it.

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admin @ 1:27 pm
Filed under: Wednesday Words
Learning to let go

Posted on Saturday 21 January 2006

“It’s congestive heart failure,” the veterinary cardiologist said. (Before last month, I was blissfully unaware that such specialists existed.) A leaky mitral valve has finally reached its tipping point, and my sweet little companion of eight years is very sick.

Sometimes, he’s himself. He still barks at the UPS boys-in-brown, and at the twin Boston terriers who parade their sleepy owner past our window each morning. He eats well, and lets me know when it’s time to go outside.

But in spite of regular doses of very expensive medicine, he’s not getting measurably better. His choking, rattling cough catches us both off guard several times a day and in the wee hours of the morning, and I’m helpless to soothe it. When he lies still in my lap I can feel his heart thumping none-too-calmly in his thin, heaving chest.

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admin @ 2:41 pm
Filed under: Wednesday Words
Wrestling the tree

Posted on Wednesday 14 December 2005

I do this every year. Envisioning a tall, sturdy, fresh-smelling fir tucked in the corner of my living room, I do significant recon on where the most reasonably-priced specimen can be found, and make the annual expedition to the tree lot. Then, after looking at and handling no less than a dozen viable candidates, I select one tree to take home with me. Usually I’ve chosen a lot that will hoist it to the top of my car and tie it down, but after that, it’s do-it-yourself all the way home and beyond.

And every year I acknowledge that setting up a Christmas tree is no one man (or in this case, one woman) job.

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admin @ 2:04 pm
Filed under: Wednesday Words
“I see the moon…”

Posted on Wednesday 19 October 2005

Every night before bedtime when we were small, my sister and I said our “God blesses” with our parents close by. “I see the moon and the moon sees me,” we’d begin together, “God bless the moon and God bless me.” Then we’d leave the moon for still more distant lights: “I see the stars and the stars see me, God bless the stars and God bless me.”

Our “God blesses” started big (the heavens!) then got sweetly small as one by one we’d name every member of our extended family – grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins – and ask God to bless them, too. It was the surest liturgy of my childhood, and I can’t remember more than a handful of nights that it was missed.

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admin @ 1:23 pm
Filed under: Wednesday Words