Archive for the ‘Just for fun’ Category

Escape from reality

Today brings a situation I’d rather run from than deal with. Deal with it, I will, one way or another. But if I could run from reality, I’d love to have this in my living room to run to:

bookshelf chair

The bookshelf chair, which I discovered via Cascades, comes with 16 feet of shelving and variable slot sizes, so that just about any book should fit one place or another.

Of course, I’d have to face reality again anyway when the £3,550 bill arrived.  So, I guess I’ll pass on this escape. But a girl can dream of being a literary-couch-potato-in-style, can’t she?

The Story of the Day that arrived from StoryPeople this morning was very fitting, I thought:

If I ran the world, he told me, I’d pretty much leave it alone & spend my time reading & I’d advise other people to do the same. Which is why I’ll probably never run the world, he said.

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David Ker is my blogfather. He is the one I thank or blame (depending on my mood) for getting me into this whole blogging thing. I think my comments on his blog were getting too long (imagine that) or something, and he nicely recommended I start my own blog.

Well, I’ve now been blogging a little over a year, and I’m guessing that in blog years, that makes me just about a blogolescent. Which means I’m supposed to rebel, right? And if I’m supposed to rebel, when I hit the blogging teen years, then it really doesn’t matter if I break a few of my blogfather’s hard and fast rules. I don’t remember exactly where these rules are written, but I seem to remember his saying that to be a good blogger one most post frequently. I’ve obviously been breaking that rule. And then, I think I recall his saying that one should never blog about why one has not been blogging frequently. I’m now about to break that rule, too.

Here are the top reasons why Eclexia has become rather unpredictable in her blogging habits:

5. Single Mom. Four Kids. Summer Break. Self explanatory.

4. Blogging is like  mixing pen pals with reality TV. Pen pals, on the one hand, can be fun. On the other hand,I can’t stand reality TV and the stilted drama-for-entertainment-that-pretends-to-be-real-life.  Pen-palling, like blogging, is only a one-dimensional relationship, but that’s not bad in and of itself. You get to meet interesting people and learn interesting things. But, in blogging, to have such public pen pals, in such a big social circle, brings certain social dynamics into the public realm without all the bigger social supporting beams that support face to face relationships. In pen-palling, there usually aren’t social pressures to put a strain on the relationship. On reality TV, social pressures are magnified, but in a context where there is no connection beyond the contrived and limited context to fall back on. And to make it worse, those voices-with-nothing-else-to-back-them-up are very public. Both agreements and disagreements are made more of, I think, in the blogging world than they would be in the rest of life where the people agreeing or disagreeing have more to life and relationship to fall back on than just their intense, disembodied talk. Disagreements on blogs, in my opinion, take on more of the reality TV drama than they ever would in ordinary dialogue, which is anchored in deeper social contexts. I haven’t quite decided, as I get to know and enjoy more online friendships, if I can handle the lopsided and public nature of those friendships, or if I’d just rather revert to the penpal model (I suppose it’s called something like epal these days. Or maybe Facebook.) with the online friends I’ve already made.

3. Some days trying to make sense is just too much work. I recently received this little statement in a daily email I get from StoryPeople:

Thinking there’s not a whole lot to say anymore, now that people listen and he has to make sense.”

With all the joys of meeting so many interesting people, comes the pressure I feel to have to make sense and say something that they–my new friends–will find worthwhile reading. That part was easier when I didn’t know anybody online and didn’t care if I could write well or if I made much sense in what I wrote. Being able to write my thoughts helped me make sense of them to myself. It was an anonymous little world where I could work to try to make sense of my thoughts without social pressure, and then having sorted them out a bit, find it easier to communicate my thoughts in my face-to-face friendships. I wanted a place to struggle to articulate my thoughts on various topics without having to worry about how they would be heard or understood. Now, blogging feels more like real life where I really care about communicating what’s on my heart in a way that real people who I know and like will actually be able to hear and understand what it is I’m trying to say. That people are listening intimidates me a little.

2. Blogging is a lot more like public speaking than I ever imagined. I’m an introvert. I like my friends one a time. I can be quite talkative one-on-one. But you will find me speaking up to a whole group of my friends a whole lot less frequently. I like to be fully engaged with the person I’m communicating with. And you can’t do that with a lot of people. Blogging stresses me out a little bit, because I’m thinking of each of the people I’ve come to know who are reading my blog, and I can’t really talk to each of them. I have to talk to all of them at once. And that is not easy for me.

And the number 1 reason I’ve not been blogging much lately:

1. I don’t have a waterproof laptop in my shower. Just this morning, in my pre-church shower, I had an interesting thought I wanted to blog about, and the words to express it were right there. All of that was gone by the time I got back to my computer. Either I’m delusional in overestimating the profoundness of my shower thoughts, and once I get out, I come back to reality and realize they weren’t all that interesting after all. Or, I’ve got some serious short term memory loss issues going on. Either way, I’m never so confident about my ability to talk about interesting things in interesting ways, as I am when I’m in the shower. Which is, needless to say, not very conducive to blogging.

Well, it might sound like I’ve just talked myself right out of blogging anymore. But for me, the most important step in doing anything is spelling out all the obstacles, and then deciding whether or not I want to really do the thing and if so, how to work with or around the obstacles.

I will say this:  I only want to continue blogging if it gives me energy, rather than takes energy from me. By looking at these challenges, I’m encouraged to think that there might be ways around some of these stressors, so I can continue to enjoy this venue for expressing myself and dialoging with all manner of interesting people who make me think and feel (Thinking and feeling both give me energy. So, blogging really is a good place for me to get energy. But only if I can minimize the above obstacles.)

Any suggestions are appreciated.  Of course, if no one comments, I might think everyone I know has gone away during my quiet time, and if no one I know is reading my blog anymore, I’m back to not having to worry about making sense!

I’m just kidding about that. I do miss chatting with those of you who read and comment here, and I look forward to hearing any thoughts or suggestions you might have as I keep growing up (and hopefully maturing) in blog years. I really do see many things I like about this odd little social realm, and I don’t think I’m ready to totally step out of it yet.

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I’ve just taken a fancy to write a relatively pointless and highly uninformed post. Meaning, I read a ponderable, I decided I wanted to ponder it, and I decided I wanted to have an opinion on the matter, even though I’m highly unqualified to do so. It’s Saturday, a day for relaxing, and as an introverted feeler, thinking about things that make me feel good is, well, relaxing and makes me feel good. I also like to think in details and it is fun just to think of a thing from different angles, considering a variety of possibly relevant details. It makes me happy to think about things I know nothing about and think of questions that might be relevant to learning about the topic, if I so decided, or, If It Tickled My Fancy, which leads me to the point of the post.

Chuck Grantham, in talking about something that didn’t tickle his fancy, wondered out loud “where the fancy is located on the human body”.

Hmmm, good question. I have a very emotional memory, so I started thinking about it from different angles, based on a variety of things I felt when I considered the issue (just in case you wondered and are thoroughly confused now about why a feeler is talking so much about thinking–Feelers Think. We really do. It’s just that thoughts that don’t somehow either stir up feelings or aren’t driven by or at least connected to a feeling don’t go anywhere and don’t make any sense. So, every time I say I’m thinking about something, I’m also (and primarily) feeling it. And now the thinkers in my audience–are there any?–are cringing, I’m sure, as I return to the questions that the original ponderable let me to ponder):

1. What is the opposite of a fancy being tickled? Of not taking a fancy to do something?

2. What part of my body feels what when something tickles my fancy and I want to do it (which made me think about the connection between ones fancy being tickled and motivation. How are the two similar, how are they different? Is a fancy being tickled a subset of the bigger issue of motivation.

3. Is there a difference, perhaps, in the fancy-tickler location between thinkers and feelers? Or is the possibility of doing something because it tickles ones fancy absurd to thinkers, say, as opposed to feelers (I ask that, because I know some thinkers who cringe at the possibility that I would do much of anything based solely on it tickling my fancy. Yet, we all, I must believe, do that, in different ways and to different degrees.

4. What is the difference between a decision we make because it tickles our fancy and because we reason out that we need to or want to do something (which ties into my previous number–is doing something because it tickles our fancy more of an emotional thing, tied into emotional centers of the brain vs. reasoning centers? or is “the Fancy” something that is somehow related to both sides of the brain, and can both (a) be tickled by either emotions or reasoning and (b) motivate emotional or reasoned activity.

5. Hmmm, the majority of these ponderings are focusing on the brain rather than the rest of the body for locating the fancy. I suppose it could be someplace else (which is why I was thinking about where I FEEL whatever it is I feel in my body, when my fancy is tickled. So, is the fancy someplace in the body that can be tickled or tripped by some brain activity in a particular region or regions? Or is it actually a place in the brain.

The answer, I have no idea. But it tickled my fancy to think about it, and I enjoyed looking up brain maps as I pondered the question. I couldn’t even make much sense of most of the brain maps. I found these particular images, with words I actually understood, but I’m still a bit confused about what does what where in the brain, because parts of the two images overlap, and because for every thing I think I understand, I have more questions (which shouldn’t be hard to imagine, if Chuck’s simple comment, in just a few minutes drug me relentlessly through all those questions above).

Still, given as I’m just speculating here, I’m going to take a tentative guess and say whatever that part of the brain is that they’ve labeled, “Imagination, Creativity, Yes”, is where the fancy might be found. If it’s the part of the brain where I’m thinking perhaps possibility meets creativity meets motivation meets decision making and everything lines up so that I go, “Oh, yes, I think I’d like to do/try that”, then that seems pretty close to me to what I picture the fancy being.

brain right

brain left

I just love the brain! I don’t come close to understanding much of anything that goes on in there, but it sure is one fascinating array of beautiful complexity!

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You know about Water Aerobics and Step Aerobics (made easy, nonetheless, though I would beg to differ with semantics of “easy” on this video). What about Chair Aerobics? Gospel Aerobics? Swedish Dance Aerobics? And one that I might actually be able to keep up with, Senior Fitball Aerobics.

I actually have a very strong aversion to anything with the word “aerobic” in it. But this morning, my brain went down a funny path and ended up with a bizarre picture of “Rock Aerobics”.

I’ll warn you, if rabbit trails drive you nuts, this is probably not a post you should read.

Growing up, my Mom had an old painting that hung on the wall by our dining room table. It wasn’t the painting, but the words below it that impressed me:

Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”

I liked the sound of the word Hitherto. I liked the way the whole phrase sounded. This painting has come back to my mind through the years for a variety of reasons.

To this point in time, God has been faithful to me. I suppose it can sound funny, as if there is some doubt about whether or not God will continue to be faithful a moment beyond “this point in time”. But, for me, the past is the most certainly known thing there is. And there is both a comfort and a confidence in recognizing and specially acknowledging the faithfulness of God, hitherto.

The future can freak me out a little bit if I think about it too hard. But the past. That I can see clearly, and usually calmly. I’ve walked through some pretty hideous things. I’m still walking through some pretty hard things. I have questions, struggles and doubts. But up to this very point, I’m still comfortable affirming the faithfulness of God in my life. That makes the future a little less uncertain.

I don’t have to know the future or justify ahead of time how the faithfulness of God is going to look. All I know is today, I can look back on things, and I can look right up to this very point, and I can still say, “Thus far (the NIV’s version of Hitherto) the Lord has helped me.”

All of that has nothing to do with rock aerobics. It’s just that the main direction I wanted to go with this post had to do with that verse, and that verse reminds me of that painting my Mom had and makes me wish I had a nice work of art with those words on it, in my house.

This morning I was looking up all the occurrences of the Hebrew word ezer for a friend of mine who is going to be teaching a Bible study. I’m not a Hebrew scholar, so I feel a bit nervous trying to talk about something I don’t know a lot about in such a public place. But here goes, a rabbit trailer’s thoughts on ezer.

One of the Bible studies my friend is teaching is on the life of Eve. In Genesis 2, God notices that it is not good for Adam to be alone and decides to create an ezer, often translated helpmate, for Adam. So, as my friend and I talked about all the other uses of ezer in the Old Testament, we got to wondering where on earth the idea started that ezer/helpmeet meant someone who defines their life by the one they are helping. Most of the uses of the word ezer refer to God as helper.

In most contexts, when we talk of helping someone, we are thinking of someone who is disadvantaged in some way, and the one helping has an advantage–an ability to help the other where they are in need. Being a helper is not usually about defining myself and all that I do exclusively in terms of what the other person needs. God helps us, for sure. But that looks very different from how I hear people talk about a wife helping her husband. And, that’s still not the point of my post.

Looking up ezer got me to notice the meaning of a couple of other words, names, actually, that have ezer in them. Eliezer, God is my help. And Ebenezer, stone of help.

Ebenezer is what Samuel named the place where he placed a stone memorial commemorating the help of the Lord. I Samuel 7:12:

Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

So, while I was talking to my friend and making the connection between ezer and Ebenezer, she began to sing a line from the hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”:

Here I raise mine Ebenezer…

And that line suddenly struck me as very funny. I’m thinking it is referring to “raise” as in “build” or “construct”, but when I hear “raise” my mind goes first to a picture of lifting something up. Like raising a banner or a flag. I’m guessing if I stopped to picture anything when I’ve sung that line, it must have been along the lines of the hand motions that go to: “Joy is a flag flown high from the castle of my heart…So raise it high in the sky….”

If you don’t know those motions, at the point where you sing “raise it high” everybody starts lifting their arms up and down and then waving them from side to side. Like an exercise class.

Only, now that I stop and think about what an Ebenezer is, if we’re all raising an Ebenezer, it’s going to be a big old rock that’s being lifted up and down. And that brought to mind a picture of a Rock Aerobics class, to the tune of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”.

So, there you have it. Whether you wanted it or not. A glimpse into how my brain works and jumps all around (Ha, brain aerobics are actually the only kind I, personally, can tolerate.)

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Two Types of Readers

I divide all readers into two classes: Those who read to remember and those who read to forget. –William Phelps

Do you agree? Disagree? I think I sometimes read to remember and sometimes read to forget. Sometimes I read for both reasons at the same time.

What are some of the reasons you read? What kinds of things do you read for each of those (or for other) reasons?

What are you reading this summer?


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(to me, at least)

I am reading a book called The Body Remembers, which is helping me understand a bit more about how my memory works–both why I apparently (so they tell me) remember things so well, and why I have such a propensity to post-traumatic stress. Fascinating stuff, and I am enjoying the book and the things that are clicking and making sense to me as I read, though I am only on page 37, where I discovered this fun poem by a Danish poet, Piet Hein:

Rhyme and Reason

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
But try as she would she could never detect
which was the cause and which the effect.

Piet Hein. What a fascinating guy. Not, perhaps, your ordinary poet. Fascinating enough that he wrote his poetry in several different languages. I also discovered that he:

…was a genius with many different sides. In addition to discovering the Soma cube, he created a new geometrical form, the “super-ellipse”, which is something in between the rectangle and the ellipse. The form also came in a 3D version and was then called “the super egg” or “the super-ellipsoide”. As an artist and constructor, Piet Hein in the 50’s and 60’s gave form to beautiful pieces of furniture, and he contributed to make “Scandinavian design” become an international conception. Internationally he always tried building a bridge between the “hard” technical and natural sciences and the “soft” humanistic subjects.

Here a few more of his poems, known, for some reason I haven’t looked up yet, as “Grooks”:

Problems worthy
of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back.

(I’ve got a few problems like that, which obsessively and obnoxiously seem to keep trying to prove their worth!)

This is a brilliant idea, I think:

Whenever you’re called on to make up your mind,
and you’re hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you’ll find,
is simply by spinning a penny.
No – not so that chance shall decide the affair
while you’re passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air,
you suddenly know what you’re hoping.

And finally, this one, which gave me a smile for how relevant an encouragement it was to me tonight:

Put up in a place
where it’s easy to see
the cryptic admonishment
When you feel how depressingly
slowly you climb,
it’s well to remember that
Things Take Time.

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Symbols and brands–why do they work? What makes one work and another not? I am enjoying studying this chart from the cascades, and thinking about these kinds of things.

I also enjoyed looking at these symbols and wondering which country I would want to visit, if the only thing I had to go on were the graphic. Of course, it’s hard to be totally objective and block out my own interests and what I already know or feel about a particular country.

country logos

Three that my eyes are drawn to each time I scan the chart are Bulgaria, Qatar and Japan.

I also like the graphics for South Africa and Peru, because their symbols clearly connect me with things I do already know about that country.


Finally, I like Morocco’s (which I found on another site with a few others not included above). I’m not sure if the design by itself would have won me over, but for some reason, I find myself really liking the combination of the artwork with the slogan.

What about you? Which do you find most graphically appealing? Are any particularly unattractive to you?

Forgetting the graphics above, is there any country you’ve always wanted to visit?

As for me, I think I’ll do my traveling these days through books and magazines. I spent a significant part of my first 35 years traveling to different countries and now I’m too tired to think about long trips, even in my own country. But I still love reading about other countries and the people that live in those places.

I’ve started a little summer project with my younger two children. We’re going to see how many books set in different countries we can read this summer. I’ve printed them each out their own set of (free) outline maps from Houghton Mifflin. The literate one of the two got the maps with country names. His little sister has the blank maps. As we read each book, they will color in the country. And the literate one gets to practice his writing skills by keeping a running list of the countries as well as the book titles and authors. image

For my own travel reading, one of my new favorite books, A Camera, Two Kids and a Camel, satisfies my love of photographs and my interest in people and lifestyles in other countries. Annie Griffiths Belt is a National Geographic photographer. I love her pictures and the stories behind some of them as well as the tales of adventures she and her family had along the way.

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rock and a hard place

This was the best visual I could find for expressing where I’m at emotionally today. Quitting is too costly. Keeping on going seems, well, pretty near impossible.

I thank God for the perspective of a friend who listened to me wail about being stuck today. Having a friend around when you’re stuck doesn’t necessarily mean you can or will get unstuck. It doesn’t automatically make the impossible seem possible. But a friend can bring perspective to the situation, even if it is just by stating the obvious so obviously that (1) I realize I really do have good reason to despair (i.e. I’m not crazy to be feeling overwhelmed) and (2) I can actually even laugh a little about it (I find it nearly impossible to laugh, alone, when I’m stuck. I have many good and funny friends, though, and I appreciate every little laugh they can eke out of me when I’m down).

It’s amazing how being able to lament with someone else about how hard things are can infuse a desperate situation with a ray of hope. A friend’s very presence reminds me that I’m not alone. One friend can be a tangible reminder of the many other people still in my life. And although I cannot defend or explain exactly how it works, a friend’s listening to my cries (and sometimes crying them with me) gives me courage to keep crying out to God and trusting Him, even in between a rock and a hard place.

Don’t ever underestimate the strength and courage you can give to someone who is stuck, by sitting with them, sharing in their grief and lamenting with them. You may or may not be able to help them see another solution to getting through or even out of their problems. But you honor their suffering by listening. You pass on courage and strength by grieving with them.

Okay, that’s enough philosophizing about pain and suffering and feeling stuck and wanting to quit and the importance of friends being there with you even if they can’t do any better than you can at getting yourself unstuck.

All that’s well and good, and I’m really grateful it’s true.



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I’ve been thinking about this topic lately. Last night I was reading the latest in my favorite series of books, No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series. The book is called The Miracle at Speedy Motors. What is it that I like so much about this series? Well, it is set in Botswana, and having lived in southeastern Africa, I enjoy the memories that are stirred up. Botswana is different in many ways from where I lived in Africa, but not so different in other ways.

But I also like the books, because they are just so all around pleasant. One reviewer said this about them:

Utterly enchanting…It is impossible to come away from an Alexander McCall Smith ‘mystery novel’ without a smile on the lips and warm fuzzies in the heart.”

Happy sigh. What more could I ask for in a story? Happy memories. A smile on my lips. Warm fuzzies in my heart.

Well, none of that has to do with contentment, exactly, except that I’m perfectly content with a good book in my possession. (A good book I hadn’t even been expecting. I went to the library totally unaware there had been a new release in the series and was delightfully caught off guard to discover this one while browsing a display.) And really being content with a good book in hand is nothing to write home about–I’m content because everything is going my way 🙂 Somehow that misses the point, doesn’t it?

But, I have been thinking a lot about contentment lately, and I have a couple of posts, I think, rumbling around inside of my head. While the words for them are still forming, though, I wanted to share this paragraph from my new book, which felt very similar to some of what I’m thinking about with contentment. If the connection doesn’t make sense yet, don’t strain your brain–it’s me, not you! My feelings often make me connect things that might not be very connected. Hopefully, though, I’ll find the words to explain the connection in the days to come. Until then, I leave you with this selection that I found beautifully fitting with my recent thoughts:

Mma Ramotswe turned the van and they had just started back when the first drops of rain began to fall. First there was that smell, that smell of rain, so unlike anything else, but immediately recognisable and enough to make the heart of a dry person soar; for that, thought Mma Ramotswe, is what we Batswana are: dry people, people who can live with dust and dryness but whose hearts dream of rain and water.” (p. 76)

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What is your favorite (or least favorite, depending on your perspective and degree of optimism at the moment) example of a verse from the Bible taken out of context, misused or misapplied?

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