Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Wyatt on the Slide

Here is a clip of Wyatt totally loving a nearby slide! We had the help of Andrew and Lisa in making this Kendall Home Productions Video.

video

Wes

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Vacation

The luminous orb that is the moon seems fixed to the center of the sky, and weightless clouds float underneath its brilliance like airy waters passing from continent to continent. The wind is chilly for once, and fall is flaunting. It is a good season - one I enjoy more than any other.

Carmel apples have been plentiful at a nearby orchard, although I hear the apples came from Michigan this year. Winter - you may remember - found its way back into the party after being put to bed - interrupting a strange surge of warmth. So, the apple trees around here didn't fare well this year, at least not enough to supply the 21st apple festival at Reid's Orchard. But, pay no mind, apples are always delicious under the copper blanket of carmel.

So, I have been enjoying those carmel apples, almost one a day lately, which will both keep the dentist away and the dentist in business.

For her part, Anna would rather have the cider - by the gallon or in a frozen slurpee mixture. Wyatt too likes the slurpee.

God, I love fall. Thanks for creating it - for the good occasion to remember a hard season past, for a time when work turns to joy. I've put the mower away for a brief spell and taken to the rake and shovel - working until I break a sweat underneath the thick cotton of my long t-shirt and the warm embrace of my new hat.

I was turning back the excessive growth of grass upon the sidewalk and driveway yesterday. It was a job whose time was much overdue, but I have only recently procured an edger to do the deed. So, with the half moon blade beneath my feet, I pushed into the dirt ... once, twice, perhaps fifty times until a neat, linear line had been set against organic chaos. At the end of creating a long row of trimmed grass, like discarding excess icing from a cake, I bent low to pick at the remaining roots. The smell was rich from the four day rain that fell upon the land - musty. Deep browns and blacks hid a filthy matter that repelled and attracted me, the death and life of humus.

Inside I've been painting, lots of painting. Got smart about it this time and prepared properly: drop cloth, and painter's tape, primer and good rollers. All told, it's probably going to equate to one and a half rounds of primer and one, good round of semi-gloss, acrylic, marsh-green coat of paint. Our walls finally look modern, and our house is - inch by inch - creeping into a home that reflects us instead of Lucy and Ricky.

The smells in here are strong like the soil, but this is noxious. I have drunk the toxicity of the fumes far too long today, so much so that my head is swimming beneath the harsh oils and chemicals.

Did I mention that I've been reading Stephen King lately. Actually, just the last two weeks. I've been steadily marching through his less popular stuff: his short stories. The book I'm reading is titled Different Seasons and consists of four novellas for each season. Spring is Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption and Fall is The Body - both of which have been made into motion pictures. Spring is easy enough to remember for anyone who enjoys watching movies or has TNT. Fall is equally famous, although the title is different: Stand By Me.

That's the story I'm reading right now: The Body (or Stand By Me ... however, you choose to remember it). I watched the movie today as well - good movie, better story. King has this fabulous line in the novella, which Rob Reiner chose to use as the capstone of his film:

"I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?"

Great question. My friends at age 12 where fellas I'd still go to bat for: Smithers, Super-C, Levenhagen, Gray, Moore Brothers, and Petrin.

Coincendentally (and wonderfully), one of those friends - the one and only T. A. Smithers - is headed this way tomorrow morning - when I'm still sleeping off the paint fumes. It reminds me of that other King novella - The Shawshank Redemption - and one of my favorite movie lines of all time: "I guess I just miss my friend."

Amen.

Keep rollin' clouds. I got to gets me through the night, and then it is into long waiting of hope - the state that is longer than any emotion.

Wes

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tornado

A tornado - or three - blew through Owensboro last Thursday, doing some pretty significant damage to the historic regions of this city. Third Baptist Church had its steeple collapse inward to the sanctuary - a terrible blow that could have been much, much worse considering there were people in the sanctuary who vacated a mere five minutes before the collapse.

That day was a bizarre day in general, and I had intended to publish a blog that night about one of the strange occurrences. It didn't happen; but here it is ...

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By the time I was ready to leave the home of a church parishioner, the rain was dropping in sheets and wind was howling across the eastern hills of Daviess County. I had arrived around 3:30 pm in the afternoon to give a 3rd grade girl a bible – a bible we had intended to give her back in August. Family travels had kept them away from the church and poor excuses and old routines had kept me away from them.

Wyatt – bless his soul – traveled the fifteen or so miles out into the county to visit this girl and her mother – screaming for two-thirds of the journey. Two motives drove me to take him along with me: Anna’s need to prepare our home and a meal for guests and my desire to make this bible presentation as overtly family oriented as possible.

Wyatt was a good companion – only a minor distraction from time to time. Although he did find it terribly frustrating to get a lock on the family cat only to have it evade his affection.

And I can’t say that my attention was always focused. There is a disorienting awkwardness about entering a family’s home under the pretenses of pastoral work. But despite the timid nature of both parties, we made well at conversation.

I was welcomed by a young girl at the door. Her mom had told me that her daughter was terribly excited about this, and as I entered, I wondered what the girl was hoping or expecting. I needn’t wonder long; her eyes spoke truth. She focused her vision firmly on the burgundy book with minor gold lettering tucked into a corner on the front.

I was carrying a mystery of magic – some wonderful book that she knew not much about except that it had deep, profound worth to certain people, I being one of those.

After some good discussion about school and about pets, I asked her and her mom where she liked to read in the house. This inquiry threw her a bit – not sure if that secret was okay to reveal to me, a relative stranger. Her mom encouraged her: “you like to read in here,” (referring to the living room), “and in your bedroom.” Not wanting to gift God’s word to her in a realm that was too personal, I proceeded then and there to briefly express the beauty, truth and marvel that is scripture. “This is a light, a way to see as you journey through life. This is a seed planted, a seed that can grow to produce peace, joy, patience and kindness. It is not an easy book to read. Some of it is quite confusing. But, it is our story. And, if you ever have any questions, you know you can ask your parents. And you can ask Jonathan or me. You can ask your Sunday school teachers.”

After I stammered this out, the girl took the bible in her own hands – clasping it as though it were her highest prize. Before I left, she dug out three other bibles that were buried beneath some other books near a shelf in the dining room. She wanted me to know they had others. And she told me how she had just watched Evan Almighty, and how she knew the story of the ark. “Genesis 6:13,” she said. “That was the verse in the movie. Genesis 6:13.” And with the bible now in her possession, she hunted the chapter and verse down and read in her naively trusting voice, “Then God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and now I am going to destroy them with the earth.”

The mother quickly averted this apocalyptic word by pressing the conversation back to school. The girl: she was delighted, having taken her new book of wonder and utilized a key she remembered from a movie to unlock one of its mysteries.

Yes, it was about that time the storm broke, which took this already surreal moment into the realm of bizarre. Huge sheets of rain flooded the driveway and rolled quickly off the deck onto the ongoing acres.

I realized the chance to escape with Wyatt in a quiet, smooth fashion had come and gone. So rather than waiting out the storm, we made a fool’s attempt to keep Wyatt dry with two umbrellas, two adults and one sippy-cup.

We slipped Wyatt into his car seat fairly smoothly, the large sheets of rain kicking against the stony drive and our legs. I fumbled my way in front of the car and to the driver’s seat, the mother holding one of the umbrellas to the air like an olive branch against a flood.

On the way home, tornado sirens screamed all over the countryside as varying degrees of gray gathered and hurtled their way into the eastern sky. To the west, vaulting clouds of cotton white where trying to climb one another into the highest heavens, and in between the duality of dark and light, a pristine sky of blue stretched north to the Ohio River. To top it all, a rainbow stretched from north to south over a lone farmhouse. It seemed to disappear into my car it was so close.

I think about that drive now. The bible. And that girl.

The rest of the evening has played out with more fury from the sky. Tornado sounds blared all night long – emptying themselves upon the city and county, forcing families to find shelter and refuge against the sinister spiral. Water ran up and down the street, trees shook their arms as if celebrating the long-missed rain with Pentecostal flare.

I wonder: what if that girl truly believed what she read. What if her faith moved that storm up onto our county? Of course, that would be preposterous. But, you have to wonder …

She eyes that book as though it were a truly magical work – something Harry Potter might employ. She remembers some verse, focusing her mind upon it to give her a way to unlock this new gift. She speaks the verse in wonder and trust – letting the story come alive in her mind even as her mom dodges the brutality of it all.

And God hears the story written long ago, lets it come to life again in the heart of a child. And, for a brief moment, the floodgates are unbound, brining a torrent of rain onto the land. God speaks through the flowing river dropping from the sky:

“Yes, girl, that part is true. I came within a hair’s breadth from snuffing out all that ever breathed – like two fingers joined together against the flame of a candle. There was great violence in those days. Still is. Great violence to fill a world full of tears if I let those tears run from my own face. But my tears were too much for me to bear. And so I set limits upon the earth, and I set a bow in the sky – a weapon of war to mark the peace that will rule the day into eternity.”

I wonder.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Falafel

During this year's multicultural festival at our church I had the good pleasure of talking to a few middle eastern gentlemen who were operating a booth in our "food court." They had some great falafel and tabbouleh ... just wonderful. Anyhow, I gave a few of them a card with my email address and phone number - never thinking it would lead anywhere.

Well, tonight I receive a call from one of the gentlemen. Honestly, I cannot remember his name given its complexity to my western ear and mind. He tells me that there will be an international food festival at his mosque in Evansville on Sunday, October 28th from 1 to 4 pm (1332 Lincoln Ave ... next to a large Catholic church and the University of Evansville). This - I believe - is extremely fortuitous given that some good friends are hoping to join us for a brief stay in these parts.

This also reminds me that I need to explain to all of you another great culinary experience in Evansville: Vietnamese food where the ingredients are picked up twice weekly from Asian markets in Chicago. But, that's another story.

Wes

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mixed Signals

Anna made a fabulous Italian soup tonight: spinach, tomatoes, sausage and some great spices. I enjoyed my bowl heartily - especially with the parmesan cheese from TJ's.

Throughout dinners, Anna and I usually try to carry on something like a conversation. However, Wyatt loves to interrupt these brief moments for us to actually dialogue by crying or whining. We patiently tell him to use the signs he knows to help us understand what he wants: signs like "eat," "please," "thank you," "milk," "water," and "more." Generally, it's a pretty good system. And I think it will serve him well when he enters those sulking teenage years. Perhaps - if nothing else - he can revert back to his "signing" days to communicate with two tired, frustrated parents.

Anyhow ...

Tonight, Wyatt uses the sign for "down" to tell us he's all through with dinner. Anna takes him down and he runs over to me to sit on my lap. (Don't ask me how or why, but Wyatt is absolutely thrilled to be around me right now ... love it.) I squeeze and hug him, but then he pleads "down" with quick gesticulations of the hand and arm. He runs over to Anna, begs to be picked up and Anna proceeds to swallow Wyatt into her own arms.

Then Wyatt looks at the table again where he sees Anna's bowl of soup laying there - empty aside from the remaining broth (which I was targeting as my last consumption). Wyatt ponders what it could be and offers a small grunt. Anna says, "that's soup."

At which point Wyatt reminds us once again why children are so wonderfully beautiful ... and an absolute joy to experience ...

Looking straight at the soup, and then up to Anna, Wyatt briskly makes one last sign. He puts his right thumb up in the air, sticks it into his left hand which is clinched into a fist, and proceeds to pull out his right thumb. Which, for those of you who don't know, is the universal sign for "poop."

Oh, nothing like a big bowl of poop on a fall night to make everyone happy.

Wes

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Kentucky Cabin

Here are some pictures from last weekend, when we had the chance to spend a day and a half out on some great land - enjoying the last bit of summer in early October. Although, I must say, I did enjoy a refreshing dip in the pond.

Thanks to some friends here in Owensboro who were gracious enough to open up their cabin and land for our little retreat away from the big city.






Wes

Evansville's "Westside Nut Club Fall Festival"

Last year, I blogged about the "Westside Nut Club Fall Festival" - a week long festival of absurd amounts of food. This year, we went back ... and I headed straight to the Unitarian Universalist Church booth - not because of a spiritual crisis. No, the Unitarians are the only booth that had a decent selection of food, including an African peanut chicken to die for.

Anyhow, here are some other pictures from the trip:

A Cincinnati chili dog ... which while not Skyline quality was pretty good.

Just a random picture ... Nothing says fall festival than pigs in overalls eating corn on the cob. Obviously this pig is tremendously pleased to eat corn ... and you should be happy to eat pigs that eat corn ... and cows that eat corn and chickens that eat corn.

Gall, I wish this sign was a joke. You might think so. But, no, this was real. And so was this fact: the longest line at the fall festival was the line for brains.

Sorry folks, no cow brains this year. Not with the mad cow disease. Gonna have to eat pork brains instead. Which comes out looking like this ...

And, I'm pretty sure the brains came from these plastic tubs ... mmm. Need I even mention the amount of flies swarming around these "left over" grey ... er, make that "pink" matter?
You all should come next year. It's awesome.

Wes