Friday, January 30, 2009

Packing for another world

I am sending a care package to my sister in Namibia. Many of us take the certainty of mail delivery for granted. I do not know if my package will arrive or when it will arrive or what condition it will be in if it does arrive. I have a 20 lb limit on an international priority mail box. I have filled it with everything in the picture below, although three Luna bars are refusing to fit. I need a scale. Even though I went to Body Pump class yesterday and consistently lifted 10 to 20 lbs of weight for one excruciating hour, I can't decide if this is over or under 20 lbs. I am also confronted with a nasty little Customs Declaration form that gives me one inch for "Detailed Description of Contents", including Qty., Net Weight (in lbs and oz) and value for each line item. Ha!

Sister, it is is coming. I just don't know when.

Contents: random posters and some Geographic Kids magazines, a People magazine, Nivea lotion and lipbalm, alphabet stickers, gum, orange slices (because my sister likes them), more stickers, post it note pads, Ferrero Rocheros, malaria meds, random drawings from the girls, coffee (does my sister have a coffee maker of any type?), more meds, markers, lovely vanilla candles because there are a lot of smells where she is at that she will want to mask, mints, pencils, dry erase markers, more stickers and an assortment of Luna bars because they are yummy and because I have no idea which is her favorite flavor, although this seems like something I should know.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How many decorative boxes do we need?

Today I refereed an apparently critical disagreement over ownership of a tiny shiny gold cardboard box. The box in question was empty until MeiLin put a gift in it for a friend. The box in question had existed in the nebulous position of "not up, not down, but half way on the stairs" for an indeterminable period of time. The box in question is claimed by Maiya, who says it is part of her collection.

Amazingly, my sum total of 20+ years of formal education, a couple of degrees and quite a bit of butterfly-herding business experience has not prepared me for such a task. I failed to address the ownership issue to the satisfaction of either, was too tired and simply sent them upstairs to get ready for bed, stating "we will figure this out later".

Which brings me to another question: how many lip balms do two girls need before they actually start using them?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Any other Lifelong Learning Traveling Extroverts out there?

I took a quiz today at (actually I took two...the first at said my actual age was 32 and that I would live to be 97.3). The quiz informed me that I am a lifelong learning traveling extrovert. Well, it got 3 out of 4 right. It also stated, astonishingly, that 0% out of 42,974 people were like me. Wow--I'm either really unique or I am forgetting the possible combinations of 43 questions.

Mike is an Organized Extrovert Believer - at least based on my taking the quiz for him. He says it isn't valid. Oddly, he also is completely unique.

Shut in

I have embarked on a self-imposed project this week to once again attempt to read through the Bible (or most of it) this year. Shameful for this literature major to confess, but I have not yet read the whole thing through even once. I have read a lot of it, but I can't tell you where exactly the holes are.

It is like roman numerals. Some schools must cover roman numerals in fourth grade and some in fifth grade. We moved every few years with the military when I was young. I also skipped a grade around that time. The result: I cannot read the year on movie credits as I never learned roman numerals past about XX. Skipping parts of the Word of God is probably more problematic than knowing when the movie was made. I'm on day 6 and doing well, but it is days 29 and 72 I worry about.

Today, I read about Noah and The Flood. "The Lord shut them in." God shut Noah, his family and all the animals in the huge, cypress football field block of wood. He closed and sealed the door. Was it necessary for God to help because the door was so huge/heavy and Noah hadn't engineering a way to close it from the inside? I doubt Noah overlooked such a feature, given that he would want to be able to open the door from the inside later and he had apparently plenty of design and build time with a project that massive and only handmade hand tools. (Did you get that part -- he and his sons would have had to make the tools to make the boat!)

No, on this rainy day in Virginia, I fancy that God needed to shut the door because the people and the animals might have been reluctant to do so themselves. Last breaths of fresh air. Last glimpse of sky. Last bit of personal space. Perhaps too Noah wasn't quite sure what this flood thing really would be, if it would really really really come. He believed enough to build the boat. That is a lot of belief. But, to close the door on life as he knew it, his friends, his house, creation?

Saturday, January 3, 2009


The holidays are over. All our family has left. Sister Mandy is now in Namibia. Mike's parents are at their house in Pennsylvania and my parents are on the plane to Seattle. Chris is back in Seattle. School starts on Monday for the girls and Mike to work.

So, I did the only logical thing today to transition back to life's schedule. I made bread. Rye bread. Rye sourdough bread. It is lovely. I don't know yet what it tastes like, but it is one of those perfect breads. It came together lovely. It had just the right mixture of moisture and flours. It rose just right, not cracking or losing shape. I slashed it in a star shape and brushed on an egg yolk-milk mixture. And it baked to a beautiful deep brown.

Bread is life. Jesus tells us that and takes it even deeper: he is the bread of life. And the communal act of preparing and sharing food is universal and draws people into conversation and sharing. But, as a baker of bread for over 10 years, I can also tell you that every loaf of bread is different, just as every day is a surprise. Sometimes the day goes perfectly, like my rye bread. Other days are out of joint, rising too fast or too much oven spring or gooey in the center. Yet, consume each day slowly, savor and enjoy even the too salty ones because each day is precious, unique and can never be duplicated exactly.