Monday, January 30, 2012

Teaching old dogs new tricks

Trying to teach a really smart person how to use Facebook is tough. Husband is impressed with how in the know I am about the trivia of so many people’s lives so he asked me once again how to use Facebook. 

The last time I tried to untangle the mysteries of friending, posting, liking versus commenting, chatting and managing permissions in this volatile terrain things did not go well.  He wrote an essay in his status box and when it got rejected he took it personally. He declared the app to be stupid because it wouldn’t do what he wanted it to do. That’s the problem. His expectations are too high.

Husband thinks that Facebook is a benign application that is designed to facilitate social connections.  That’s a bit of a Trojan horse. It looks like that is the purpose but actually, it wants to alter our DNA.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The 30%

I've been ruminating on life's statistics: the 99% vs the 1%, the  80-20 rule...then I remembered a blog my daughter wrote a couple of months ago about a lesser known statistic: schizophrenia is 70% hereditary and 30% evironmental.She is writing a novel that explores the legacy of mental illness. I asked her to be a guest blogger on Riddles on the Harp.  Reprinted with permission from My Wilderness Years.

April Trabucco
The Writer Magazine’s email newsletter this week was titled “Why we need pain to write.” I’m all over that, but not by choice. If that’s the key, I should be churning out chapters by the hour. There is the requisite time necessary for licking one’s wounds though and that turns out to be an involved process. There’s also work and children and house and said source of pain that require ample tending. So chapters are not churning as fast as I would like. Is it to my creative detriment that I'm an optimist and cherish the happy times that come when hope prevails?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

George Clooney and the 10/30 window

When I get the witching hour wakeup call sometimes I reach for my latest copy of World Magazine. Not that it puts me to sleep, au contraire. The January 14th issue is definitely not warm milk and wooly sheep.  One article that has stayed with me is a Mindy Belz essay on the 10/30 window.  According to Mindy there are 2.4 billion youth in the world that are in an extended state of adolescence.  They begin puberty around the age of 10 and are not fully formed adults until they are close to 30. That is 20 years of teenage angst!

Furthermore, your kid is more likely to find a kindred spirit in a Facebook friend from Kathmandu than she is from an older family member.  And as she and her brother will search the internet for advice before they will consult their wise elders, there’s not much opportunity for torch passing.  

Even in our Christian circles adults are no longer a treasury of wisdom and experience for children but a directory of services.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Behold what lurks in yonder swamp

What a thrill to leave the flow of the St. John’s river, haul keel over the swamp grass and settle in beside an alligator sunning himself under the watchful eye of a heron. And then to turn around and see cattle grazing chest deep in the murky water—who knew that they fancy the water hyacinth?

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Winter Vacation - Part 2: The American Spirit

Sometimes you have to leave the country and spend time at the crossroads where cultures intersect to appreciate what is uniquely American. In Barbados I was reminded that Americans have always traveled the trade routes to remain in touch with the finer sensibilities of cultures with longer histories. In turn, Europeans have always traveled to America to enjoy the sensation of freedom and wide open space.
Like a pound dog, the space shuttle Endeavor waits for a new home

Monday, January 2, 2012

Island Wisdom

Our taxi mama Mrs. Thompson points to a green fruit growing on a tree. “What do you think that is?” To prompt us she says, “It turns purple. And you can eat the skin around the shell. Then you crack the shell and then you eat the nut.” Turns out, it’s an almond. Not the kind we grow in the Central Valley in California, I’m pretty sure.
I think I may adopt this wisdom as my guiding principle for 2012. Find the good and nourish yourself with what surrounds it, but get to the nut of the matter. Determine what tools you will need to crack the shell and dig for the meat. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  Psalm 34:8
Do you have a resolution, mantra or guiding principle for 2012? Please share!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Winter Vacation - Part 1: Island Time

We gave Santa the slip, flew to Barbados and tuned our hearts to the rhythm of the sea. We switched off the internet addiction – traded beep tones for the chirp of the whistling tree frogs and redeemed leds for the light of the moon. The warmth of the sun and gentle massage of the trade winds rendered us catatonic.

For two days we sat at the edge of the ocean at Peach and Quiet Inn and stared at the horizon, watching the surfers spill their boards at Inch Marlowe around noon and spotting sea turtles who stuck their necks out of the water to sip air at dusk. Our only movement was to trace a finger across the screen of our nooks to turn a page, the one e-device we allowed ourselves. 

Aboard the Royal Clipper, we dispensed with Tylenol PM and let the ship rock us to sleep every night.  The sparkle of the sea served as our holiday tinsel; the unfurling of the 42 sails at sunset to martial music all the seasonal pageantry we required.

No gift exchange, we filled up our bucket list with the suggestions of the many seasoned travelers we dined with nightly. Better than Christmas cocktail party conversation, we shared the wonder the ship, the beauty of the shore and joy of the Caribbean culture with guests and crew representing over 30 nationalities.

Some highlights of our trip:

·         Snorkeling in the champagne reef in Dominica and off a beach in Les Saintes while pelicans dove for fish over our heads.

·         Swimming in St. Lucia with six-year-old Nativia, who explained that sharks don’t come into the bay because they don’t like sand; chatting on shore with the local spear fishermen.

·          Learning the history of the islands: The English and the French played tug-of-war with these islands from atop a fortress in St. Kitts. The Barbadians claim responsibility for George Washington’s win – they say he learned fortification on a trip to Barbados. Also, he contracted a mild case of smallpox that left him immune to the disease which claimed many lives during the war.

·         Feeling more “present” when there is less to be present to. What’s not to love about beach shack living, al fresco dining and the constancy of the ocean?

Sea-U Guest House, Tent Bay, Bathsheba, Barbados

In this context, I’d like to wish the world more of God’s spirit that leads to an abundance of joy. Happy New Year!