Bloggerhood Etc. 11/10/14

A Sanchez on every team!

So much Sanchez, so little time (Image: Jon Bois/SB Nation).

Best Computer Simulation of Hell.Breaking Madden: The Mark Sanchez Century” by Jon Bois at SB Nation.

Best Open Letter.Dear Democratic Party: Make No Mistake About It, Republicans Didn’t Win – You Lost” by Allen Clifton at Forward Progressives.

Best Mom Post. “Having a Bad Day Doesn’t Make You a Bad Mother” by Lisa-Jo Baker at Surprised by Motherhood.

Best Dad Post.Running With My Kids” by Whit Honea at The Honea Express. 

Wisest.Six Words My Kid Said That Contain Such Wisdom” by Cornelia Seigneur at Huff Post Parents.

Best Redefinition.#Blessed” by Jamie Wright at Jamie The Very Worst Missionary.

Best Parenting Advice.Mom and Dad, You Suck at Parenting (and Here’s Why That’s Just Fine)” by Jon Pavlovitz.

Best Reminder.Being a Christian Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think it Should” by Preston Sprinkle at Relevant.

Best Movie Review.An Obnoxious Review of ‘Interstellar,’ by the 3 Jerks in the Row Behind Me” by Adam Hall at Tenor Dad.

Best Special Needs Post.She Stands Tall: Not Trying to Fix the Child I Adopted” by Gillian Marchenko at Not Alone.

Best Guest Post.De(tales): Bible” by Heather Caliri at Cara Strickland’s Little Did She Know.

Best Commentary. “An NFL Locker Room is Not a Hive” by Stephen White at SB Nation. 

Best Video.Quick and Easy Voting for Normal People” by CGP Grey (via YouTube).

“Boom! Election over.”

Spilled Salt

Spilled salt

Detail of the copy of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper by Giacomo Raffaelli (1809)

There isn’t a Five Minute Friday topic today. Lisa-Jo Baker is taking a break until January. But I felt like writing anyway, so here goes. Today is Friday the 13th and my prompt—chosen just this moment off the top of my head—is “superstition.”

I’ve never been superstitious. I don’t put any faith in little trinkets or actions that might help things break the right way. I don’t believe in “curses” or “hexes” or “mojo.” I don’t think the universe is capricious and certainly don’t believe that God is either.

But I inherited one superstition from my mom. A silly one—more a habit than anything else.

If I spill salt, I immediately pick up a pinch and toss it over my shoulder.

I don’t believe for a minute that spilling salt is unlucky. I also don’t believe that tossing a little of it over my shoulder before I clean the rest up somehow negates this non-existent bad luck. I just do it without thinking.

I’m not sure why. And I’m not sure what it says about me. Maybe just that I have habits like everyone else—habits that I don’t think about. Maybe I have more that I don’t even notice.

Five Minute Friday

Bloggerhood Etc. 6/24/13

Helmuth Rilling

Helmuth Rilling (Photo: Eugene Weekly)

Unlike last week, this week’s collection doesn’t fit into a tidy theme. So in no particular order, here are my seven favorite posts from last week.

Favorite Tribute to Someone I’ve Met.  “Rilling’s Swan Song” by Brett Campbell in the Eugene Weekly. The co-founder of the Oregon Bach Festival steps down as artistic director, though he will continue to teach and conduct for the foreseeable future. As the driving force behind the Bach Festival, Helmuth Rilling not only put Eugene on the classical-music map, he also had an indirect role bringing me here—my first trip to Oregon was for the 25th OBF in 1994. So I’d like to add a personal “thank you.”

Favorite Tribute to Someone I’ve Never Met. “Stephen Colbert’s Tribute to His Late Mother, Lorna Tuck Colbert” via Huffington Post (with video from Hulu and a link to the full transcript). The Colbert Report host opens his first show back last week with a tribute to his late mother, saying “If you like me, that’s because of my mom.” Beautiful tribute. I cried. So will you.

Saddest Post. “When Father’s Day Hurts” by Tamára Lunardo at Tamára Out Loud. I always had a good father and I’ve always tried to be one too. Not everyone gets that blessing or that opportunity.

Best Dog Post. “The Case of the Devious Dogs: SOLVED” by Jim Higley on Bobblehead Dad. Dogs are always dependable in a way that many people aren’t But just because their loyal doesn’t mean they won’t try to get away with stuff. And it’s hard to stay mad at them once they give you that sad puppy look.

Most Likely to Give Fundamentalists an Aneurism (This Week). “Why I Hate the Word ‘Inerrancy'” by Ed Cyzewski on In a Mirror Dimly. A follow up to Zack Hunt original aneurism-inducing post. Sit back and watch the head-exploding fun!

Latest Evidence the “Public Discourse” has Gone to Hell. “Radioactive” by Robert Rummel-Hudson on Support for Special Needs. Rummel-Hudson calls out two Atlanta-area “shock jocks” for mocking former Saints’ safety Steve Gleason, who is currently battling ALS. Yes the station apologized, and yes the on-air “talent” got fired for it, but what was the station thinking hiring them in the first place? And if the routine was slightly less offense or the least bit funny, would they have kept their jobs? What does this say about us, that this crap is on the air at all?

Best (Funniest and Most Informative) Video. Glove and Boots with “The Hero’s Journey.”

As Johnny T. says, “Boom! Done!”


Mary, May, and Mothers’ Day

Icon of the Virgin and Child surrounded by flowers

The Virgin of Zirovitskaya (Reproduction by

“The May Magnificat” by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

May is Mary’s month, and I
Muse at that and wonder why:
Her feasts follow reason,
Dated due to season—

Candlemas, Lady Day;
But the Lady Month, May,
Why fasten that upon her,
With a feasting in her honour?

Is it only its being brighter
Than the most are must delight her?
Is it opportunist
And flowers finds soonest?

Ask of her, the mighty mother:
Her reply puts this other
Question : What is Spring?—
Growth in every thing—

Flesh and fleece, fur and feather,
Grass and greenworld all together;
Star-eyed strawberry-breasted
Throstle above her nested

Cluster of bugle blue eggs thin
Forms and warms the life within;
And bird and blossom swell
In sod or sheath or shell.

All things rising, all things sizing
Mary sees, sympathizing
With that world of good
Nature’s motherhood.

Their magnifying of each its kind
With delight calls to mind
How she did in her stored
Magnify the Lord.

Well but there was more than this:
Spring’s universal bliss
Much, had much to say
To offering Mary May.

When drop-of-blood-and-foam-dapple
Bloom lights the orchard-apple
And thicket and thorp are merry
With silver-surfèd cherry

And azuring-over greybell makes
Wood banks and brakes wash wet like lakes
And magic cuckoocall
Caps, clears, and clinches all—

This ecstasy all through mothering earth
Tells Mary her mirth till Christ’s birth
To remember and exultation
In God who was her salvation.

May God bless all mothers today and every day. Amen.

We Are All Stories

The Boyhood of Raleigh

The Boyhood of Raleigh by Sir John Everett Millais, oil on canvas, 1870.

Everyone is filled with stories because everyone is a collection of stories. Most people won’t become writers, but among family and friends these stories will live on long after those who have told them are gone.

Writers or not, we all have stories.

My Mom told a lot of stories. She grew up poor in South London during the depression, lived through the blitz, got bombed out of her family’s flat, and joined the British Army the day before Hitler shot himself. All by the age of eighteen. She had many more adventures in a life that took her from Malta to San Diego after she met and married my Dad. And she always wanted to write them down, but she never did.

This is one of my greatest regrets. I should have encouraged her more while she was here and while she still had her memories. She’s gone now, and while I remember a lot of her stories, I’ll never get to hear them again and or give them directly to Anna. No typewritten pages, no recordings. Just my memory and my Dad’s.

I still plan to write them down as best as I can someday. I want Anna to know what it was like for her Grandma Dolly to live through a war. It will be a novel, since I’ll have to fill in too many details to make it non-fiction. It will be something to give to her, but it could have been more.

My Dad has a lot of stories too. We’ve been recording these—turning on the video camera as he’s talking and getting them on tape. One I always remembered, and liked enough to include in A Smile for Anna, was this one which I told in his words.

Continue reading

Something Else I Want Anna to Know About My Mom

My Mom

In September of 2011, on the second anniversary of my mom’s passing, I wrote a post titled What I Want Anna to Know About My Mom. In it, I talked about several things I remembered—her laugh, her singing, her dancing, her sense of humor, her generosity, and her faith—and that I wanted my daughter to know too.

Well today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “What Mama Did.” My first thought was “well I wrote that already, can’t I just re-post it?” But instead I decided to try to think of one more thing; something that I missed a year and a half ago.

Then it hit me. My mom loved to read.

“Ever since I was a kid,” she said. “I always had my nose in a book.” It was still true for as long as I could remember. She read every day. And our house was always filled with books. Shelves of them in every room, and boxes of them in storage.

Ask my wife Julia, she and I helped my dad sort through them all after she passed away.

I got my love of reading from my mom. My dad reads quite a bit too. He still reads the paper every morning and will pick up a book if the subject strikes his interest. But my mom was always reading. Only at the end when she began get lost inside her own mind did she slow down and finally stop.

That was hard to see.

But I don’t focus on that when I think about her. Instead I think of all the books she read, all the books she wanted to read, and how she passed her love of reading on to me.

A love of reading that Julia and I share, and have passed on to Anna as well.

Five Minute Friday

Bare Innocence

Mary Cassatt: At the Window

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) At the Window (1889)

When you’re a little kid, nakedness is innocence.

My dad made a home movie of the first year of my life. Me as a little baby, smiling crawling, rolling around in my stroller, learning to walk, and playing with our dog. This was different time. He shot it on 8mm film, complete with title boards, and spliced it together with a home-editing kit—like something out of the dark ages.

The storyline was simple enough. David’s first year, from new baby to first birthday. But the most embarrassing part for me growing up was the coda, titled “Bare Facts.”

It was one minute of one-year-old me toddling around the living room naked.

For years, my mom threatened to show that video to any girlfriends I brought home, and I threatened to never bring over any girl I was dating, or even considering dating, until she dropped her threat.  I was a teenager, and I was embarrassed as all teenagers are by just about anything, no matter how harmless, no matter how innocent.

After many years, during which the old 8 mm reel was transferred first to VHS and then to DVD, my mom finally got to make good on her threat; I brought Julia home to San Diego for the first time, almost twelve years ago, and they played the whole movie, including “The Bare Facts” for her.

By then I was nonchalant. “It’s not like it’s anything she hasn’t seen.”

“David!” My mom said, shocked.

“I only meant that Julia has babysat lots of her nieces and nephews, since they were that little, and she’s seen her share of naked babies.”


Okay, that wasn’t what I really meant, but I gave myself an out, and a gave my mom an opportunity to hold on to the innocence as had as a baby, the innocence that I had long outgrown.

And now Julia and I have our own child, who still runs around the house naked from time to time, but not as much as she used to. Anna just turned seven, and she’s starting to understand privacy. She usually shuts the bedroom door when she gets dressed, and she usually doesn’t open our bedroom door when we’re getting dressed. She still forgets sometimes, but she’s getting better about it.

She’s learning that her nakedness is her own, and it’s private. It’s just the first step, but she’s slowly losing her bare innocence.

Five Minute Friday