Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sometimes I Like to Watch TV

A couple of years ago I found a website called watch.series and with it, have proceeded to keep up on American culture via TV shows through the magic of the internet. Sometimes I just need to hear Americans and I need to watch them and I need for them to make me laugh.

I just watched the latest episode of Modern Family and I'm convinced that if I could just remember to switch this show on whilst in the middle of a crisis, I could weather anything with a smile and perhaps a belly laugh. How in the world are these writers and actors so dang clever??

I thought once about writing a show based on my dad's veterinary clinic. I still think I might. But now that it's out in the universe, one of the big three will probably have one in next year's big fall lineup. But I digress.

Sometimes I like to watch TV. Most of the time I feel guilty about it. But I've pretty much decided to give up the guilt thing. Because sometimes I just need a laugh and sometimes I just need an escape and sometimes I think that's okay.

And I just noticed that I use the word "just" a lot. That's okay, too.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


It's one minute past midnight--officially 9/11.

The BBC has been broadcasting shows all week leading up to today, the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I'm sure it's the same in America, and possibly around the rest of the world. It seems as if it happened so long ago in some fuzzy past that I think I can barely remember it until I watch the footage and remember in meticulous detail exactly where I was and how I spent that day and then I feel as if it happened yesterday. Frankly, I was startled to feel the same tightness in my chest, the same tears running down my face, the same sense of disbelief and utter devastation that I felt ten years ago. I didn't realize how much those events affected me, how much they still affect me. As we watched a rebroadcast of the footage shot by a French film crew who happened to be in a New York fire station filming a documentary on that day, I couldn't stop myself from sobbing. One of the firemen who was interviewed said this: "I didn't know evil could be so evil." I don't think any of us did.

The world changed that day. My world changed that day. On September 10, 2001 I believed that American was invulnerable, unstoppable, and completely safe. I thought of the USA as the big kid on the world block, the one no one could bully, the one no one could beat. On September 11, 2001, all my illusions were shattered. I felt vulnerable and so did my country. I felt uncertain and unsure of myself and I felt the same for my country. I felt bewildered by how suddenly the rules had changed and how unprepared we were to engage in a war with this type of enemy, an enemy whose true depth of evil was only glimpsed in the bombing of the USS Cole, an enemy perceived as an anomaly, an aberration, an irritating and harmful bug that could easily be squashed by our mighty boot.

But this enemy didn't disappear and it wasn't just hiding in the shadows of some sheltered caves in a wind-swept, arid, backward country. It was here, on our soil. It was using our resources against us. It was killing indiscriminately. Now we understand that this enemy is made up of individuals willing to die for their cause, willing to kill anyone for their cause, willing to sacrifice anything for their cause, with no regard to the sanctity of human life. There seems to be no end to the masses of faceless drones lining up for the privilege of blowing themselves up to murder. And they don't care who they take with them. Two months ago I read about a little eight year old girl who was tricked into carrying a bomb, promised she wouldn't be hurt and then blown up by the animals who lied to her. My youngest daughter is eight. How do you fight an enemy so completely devoid of any trace of humanity?

After seeing the first of several of these shows, I felt compelled to reread an article written in the Miami Herald by Leonard Pitts, Jr. called "We'll Go Forward From This Moment." It brought tears to my eyes and as strong a sense of patriotism as it did when I first read it on 12 Sept. I searched for and found the slideshow that someone put together using his words and the images are still as powerful.

Mr Pitts' words seem prophetic now, ten years later. He wrote, "...What is it you hoped to teach us? It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred. If that's the case, consider the message received. And take this message in exchange: You don't know my people. You don't know what we're capable of. You don't know what you just started. But you're about to learn."

When I see the footage of 9/11 I have no doubt why we went to war. Our son asked me if I thought we would have invaded Iraq if 9/11 hadn't happened and I said no. I feel certain we wouldn't have. I think we went to war because we needed to do something. We needed to prove we were still the big kid on the block. We needed to assuage our desperate fear the we were no longer in control and could no longer protect our people. After seeing the devastation again--physical and emotional--that America suffered, I understand the compulsion to fight even more.

In many ways I wish we hadn't gone to war, but I understand at least emotionally, why we did. Tonight I watched another show, one about Flight 93. At the end, a young cadet said he wanted to join the military because he wanted to punish those who took away all that we lost. I understand him too. But I don't know that fighting is the answer. Then again, I have no idea what the answer is.

The world is different. It doesn't feel as stable and unshakable as it used to. But after reliving the horror of 9/11, I have decided to keep foremost in my mind and heart the other side of 9/11: the images of people reaching out, of strangers comforting each other and bonding through common pain. I want to remember the stories of those who experienced chasms of grief but found the strength to rebuild their lives. I want to honor the bravery and courage of those who sacrificed their own lives to save strangers.

It has been said that what we focus on expands. I happen to believe that. In this strange new world of almost daily pointless death, we have to have hope. We have to believe that good will overcome evil. We have to believe that love is still more powerful than hate. And we have to act as if we believe it. What we focus on expands. Maybe that's the only answer I need.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Angry, Angry Bird

I love playing Angry Birds. I revel in making messes I don't have to clean up--so unlike real life where I get to clean up messes I don't have the pleasure of creating. I get a kick out of popping smirking green pigs and reaping the reward of 5000 points every time they disappear. It's immensely gratifying to wipe the cheeky grins from their mustachioed faces or see black eyes appear as I pummel them with my skillfully placed winged weapons. I laugh at their impotence as I blow them up with TNT and smile as they roll slowly off some edge and plunge to the ground below. Destruction without consequence. Aggression without fighting. What's not to love?

It has occurred to me though that I perhaps at times may be unwittingly emulating our small winged friends, and it's not a good thing.

Depending on the circumstance, I may be the tiny and sweet innocuous bundle of blue softness that suddenly splits into three blazing bullets of blitzkrieg, or the sleek and driven yellow firebolt of fury that screams through anything in its path, or the brooding, glowering black cannonball that explodes on contact, spreading mayhem indiscriminately.

Because of my usually less-than-passive temperament though, I can pretty much guarantee that I'm never the impotent red Nerf ball that sort of glides half-heartedly toward the target and gently taps at it like it doesn't want to be annoying and apologetically drifts to the ground before disappearing in a self-conscious poof of embarrassed feathers. That's just not my style.

I did delete Angry Birds once. All three versions. And I stayed away, feeling virtuously controlled. And then...and then...and then I missed them. I missed smashing things. I missed the feeling of triumph as Golden Eggs and Golden Bananas and Golden Papayas and Golden Pineapples rose in splendid shining glory as I cleverly discovered the hidden little beauties. I missed high scores and three stars and smashing pumpkins and waterfalls of love hearts.

And so I revived my sorted love affair with The Birds. My husband doesn't approve. Truthfully, there are times when I hear him coming up the stairs and quickly turn off my i-Touch so he won't know I've been playing. I think he suspects.

I check for updates. I wait none-too-patiently for the next chapter of Angry Birds Rio, hoping they won't use any more of those ugly little varmits that resemble monkeys. They leer at me when I can't kill them.

I need more Birds! I need more challenges! I need to find more Golden Eggs!

What I really need is a 12 Step Program. Fast.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Our Week...

Excerpt from a letter to our missionary son. Just to get back into the blogging thing and to finally post something!

We went on our annual family camp out last weekend. Very cool! We took the big thick luxury bed and it worked! I can now go camping without popping 50 ibuprofen tablets. Yea for me and stuff. And we saw cool Corfe Castle and lots of things. Corfe Castle was the inspiration for castle in the Enid Blyton Famous Five books. Just so you know. We took pictures.

So then Monday we were still all about camping and we went to Corfe Castle for a town fete and I was all excited about it because I love those crafty-foody kinds of things, but it turned out to be so funny and silly because there were like 10 booths set out on the grounds in the rain. Ten little stands of home-made jams and home-grown plants and junk that they were trying to pawn off on the unsuspecting tourists and then some baps with bacon and some other stuff. I bought a jar of grape/plum jam from a man who looked like he could use a sale, but I don't know if I trust the safety of the product so will probably give it a watery burial down the drain. It made him happy and he was old, so it was okay.

We came back from our wanderings here and there to find baby spiders throwing webs everywhere. We had to clear them out and then when we were packing up, found several other little spidery nurseries that we also swept away. It was good.

Tuesday we packed up and came home after picking up some lovely pasties at the local bakery and sitting on a beach and then we came home. It was good to be home. We were tired and stuff.

Wednesday was the 1st day of June and we had a YW/YM beach trip planned. I was not in the mood to go as my brother and family were coming Friday morn and there was so much to do in the house to prepare. But I went anyway, as it was my duty. Then I realized that I really didn't have to go, but we were already there, so I made the best of it. It was gray and a bit cold, but the children seemed to have a good time. A friend borrowed a minivan from his school of employment and drove us to a lovely spot down by the water. We done been there before once, between Boscombe and the other beach which I can't remember the name of.

So then it was Thursday. The day of massive cleaning and preparing. And so I will tell you what we did from the front of the house back. Dad dug out the flowering spiky tree and then planted it will all our very own greenhouse birthed plants. It looks lovely! and then we also planted things in other pots to make it all feel special and pretty. And one of the coolest things was when we were planting the one leafy plant, this MASSIVE worm crawled out! It was the most massive worm I've ever seen except for the worms we dissected in Biology in high school. Like 12 inches long! and so we put it back in it's pot home and left it there like a pet. We should be worm farmers because we're good at it.

Sarah is finished with Year 12 and will be going back to school at the end of June for the beginning of Year 13. Can hardly believe it. Then she'll be going to university.

Hannah is going through this thing where I think she feels embarrassed by everything I do. Like complimenting her and hugging her and talking to her. It makes me laugh. It's a totally normal teenager thing, but it's so funny. Anyway, I sort of gently harass her with love. She can't blame Kathryn any more for her messy room. She's continuing to do well with piano and trumpet and even guitar now. While we were camping, she commandeered Sarah's guitar and played and sang. Lovely voice.

Kathryn is full of energy and gigglyness. She is a cutie. We seem to be getting along much better. I think I told you how I stopped losing my temper and stayed calm and how it seemed to make her go nuts. It was kind of funny, really. She ramped up the tantrums and I still remained calm and now she's calm herself. It's good. She's excited to have her own room, but it's only been temporary as Lizzie is coming home today to stay for awhile. She'll be staying in Kathryn's room and Steve will stay in Sarah's.

Big news about Lizzie is she was accepted to the Master's program for Occupational Therapy! Still not engaged, but I think she has the wedding planned. So she'll be home later today for awhile.

What else...

Well...the rest of our week. Friday your dad and I got up very early and picked up my brother and his wife and their two girls. Their plane got in at 5:45 am.

So we got them home and fed them a little breakfast and your dad and Kathryn and I accompanied them on a whirlwind magical mystery tour of some cool things. All in one day we hit Stonehenge, Bath, Lacock and Avebury. We were all trashed by the end of the day, especially them as they had jetlag. But it was good to do all that seeing things stuff. My brother didn't believe in jet lag. Now he does. Every time we got back into the car and started driving, he was out.

Saturday we had planned to go to London fairly early, but they were so tired, I let them sleep and then we didn't get out of the house until probably 11am or so. And it was a day of delays! The train signals had been vandalized, so they had to cancel the fast trains and so it took us ages and ages to get a train to London. Then there were Tube closures so it just took us awhile to get to the Big Bus Tour, but we finally did and then just cruised around London. It was cool. I don't think I've ever done the full circuit, but we did this time--twice! The second time, only my brother and me and his fam rode while your dad and the girls walked to Buckingham Palace to wait for us.

Sunday my bro and co. went back to London to explore more and we went to church. There's another new American couple who just moved in so there's too many Americans now! :) We had a nice roast chicken dinner and then raced to get them to Portsmouth as my brother had mistakenly thought that the ferry left at 11:30 pm but it really left at 11. So then when we got there, with plenty of time, turns out the ferry was 45 minutes delayed! I swear their whole trip was like that! Anyway, they'll be back in two weeks and spend the night and then we'll take them to Heathrow for the return journey. I've loved having them here. Great to visit and hang out.

Yea for American visitors!