Friday, November 28, 2008

They, Who Are So Fresh From God

"It is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us." (Dickens)

Lately this quote about the pure love of children has been on my mind a lot. My nearly-two-year-old daughter certainly has her moments of impatience and pushing her (and my) limits, but on the whole she is unassumingly cheerful and loving, and it often fills me with wonder that such a being is so intensely fond of me. Watching her face light up when she sees me, and hearing her little voice call out "Mama!" as she hurries toward me melts my heart. May I live worthy of such wholehearted, unconditional love.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nice Place to Visit . . .

This will not be a deep, philosophical post (which will probably be a relief to many of you). After all the brow-furrowing political dialogue this blog has seen over the past few months, I felt it was high time to just post something fun. Maybe this post will provide you with a captivating window into my soul. More likely it will just be an amusing read.


Joy and I often go for walks in our community, and as we stroll by the endless variety of houses and yards I often find myself daydreaming about what I want my home to look like when our apartment-dwelling days are finally over. I find that some yards appealing and instructive about what I want to shoot for with my own future home. Other yards provide helpful insight into what I don't like.

The following are an interesting mix of both qualities. They're the top three local yards that I enjoy looking at but WOULDN'T want for my own home.

#3 - Latin-Spiced Xeriscape

Most xeriscapes (landscapes using plants that require no supplemental irrigation) look decidedly barren to me. This one is the most vibrant I've ever seen, but while the eco-friendly concept appeals to me the plants just aren't my cup of tea. I prefer the lush look of non-desert foliage, and I want most of my future landscaping to be edible, or produce something that is. In other words, my front yard will probably contain things like herbs, almond trees, etc., and those require water.

Plus, while I love the fact that this person had the guts to paint their house bright orange with electric blue trim, I just don't think I could bear to come home to those colors every day. I would feel like the building was an edgy art project, not a home. But that's just me.

#2 - Japanese Zen Garden

This yard makes me feel more serene whenever I look at it. I love its flowing, natural design, and its sense of sanctuary. What's more, it has a certain exotic thrill to it since it is so strikingly different from the typical lawn-with-a-floral-border American yard you see nearly everywhere you turn.

I love visiting this yard, but I would no more replicate it at my own home than I would wear a kimono to church. Kimonos are nice and all, but they're not me. I would feel like I was wearing a costume, masquerading as someone I'm not. The clothes you choose make a statement about you, and I feel your yard does, too. If I create a yard that suggests my home is some oriental haven of Zen wisdom and serenity, it would be cool statement, but an inaccurate one. That kind of place would be nice to visit, but I neither expect nor really desire to establish a home that fits that description.

#1 - Harvest Festival

This is not a trick photo; those corn stalks really are about ten feet tall (or at least they were a few months ago when I took this shot). The gardener in me geeks out whenever I pass this house. I've always got to stop and see what they've planted this year, how tall it's grown, and how big their pumpkins are getting. I don't think I've ever seen a vegetable garden so exuberant. Someday I've just got to find out what they put in their dirt.

All that being said, I can't see myself ever doing something like this with my front yard. While the Zen garden would make an inaccurate statement about me, this type of yard would make an accurate one AT THE TOP OF ITS LUNGS!!! That's not my style.

While I love the idea of functional, edible landscaping, and at least a significant portion of my backyard will probably be home to squash, berry bushes, fruit trees, etc., I'd prefer that my front yard be more subtle in its unconventionality. Hence the "herbs and almond trees" approach. They're both decorative and functional, and they don't scream "Look at my funky hobby!" They also don't scream "Come eat me before my owner can!" the way an orange tree would.

So I guess this post does provide at least a small window into my soul: I'm perfectly willing to be different, I just don't want that to be the first impression I make on people. Whether that's a virtue, a vice, or just a neutral observation is open to debate.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Little Election Day Humor

Here's a little election day fun for everyone. Enjoy!

And finally, in the spirit of bipartisanship . . .

Let's hear it for democracy (and Photoshop)!

Divided Heart

It's Election Eve, and I find myself in an unexpected tug-of-war. I plan to vote for McCain, and part of me sincerely wants him to win (read the inordinantly long squirrel post if you want to know why). On the other hand, part of me really wants the victory to go to Obama.

The contradiction arises partly from curiosity--I want to know if an inexperienced visionary can live up to his image and deliver on his promises. I think my main motive, though, could best be described as idealistic yearning. I WANT him to be as great as he says he is. I want to believe that such a political leader exists, even though I know he probably doesn't.

In my more rational moments, I remember that all politicians stretch the truth, promise more than they can deliver, and basically tell us what we want to hear. I also know that even if Obama gets every program that he calls for passed into law, they still may not achieve all the glittering ends he has described. You know that, and I know that, but part of me still wants him to be the knight in shining armor, the cowboy in the white hat, the flawless good guy who will ride in and save the day with a nice, tidy, happy ending.

We Americans love that good vs evil scenario--the Good War against the Nazis, the Jedis against the Sith, Superman against Lex Luther--which may explain why many people on both sides can be so dogmatic. We want there to be a "good side," and we want to be on it, so once we choose a candidate our cause we tend to filter out everything bad about our choice and everything good about the other one. Soon we think we really ARE voting for Luke Skywalker, and that if his opponent Darth Vader wins it will mean the end of civilization as we know it.

I can't imagine McCain as Superman or Robin Hood, even if he were the one encouraging us to rob the rich to feed the poor. After all his condescension, smear attacks, and policies that seem to favor the rich and big corporations, I just can't see McCain in any sort of heroic light. But against all reason I keep hoping that Obama, with his high-road rhetoric and effort to engage minds rather than strike fear into hearts, will be the good guy he implies he is.

I know that's emotion talking, not reason, but by golly I wanna to believe. And for better or worse, I will probably get what I'm guiltily wishing for. Heaven help us, either way.