Storing this here for later



Creative People sometimes Make no Sense

If I add this article (click photo and link above) to my bookmarks then it will, quite literally, become one of the hundreds of bookmarks I have added over the years.  I am a book-marker and no bones about it: I love to save a good thing for later.  Be it a compelling website, an inspiring or informative article, a list of the top 50 (or even 500) books/authors/typefaces, I really like the idea of holding on to them and tucking them away for a less inspired, less-informed period of life.

Not to be outdone by the interwebs, I do this with real stuff, too, like storing cards my mom sent me whilst I was in college (or just living in Seattle) alongside the neat-o bulletins from the Episcopal church and the  bar napkin with the finely-crafted logo on which my husband wrote an anniversary haiku.  Okay, the latter example is sentimental for a whole lot of other reasons, but the bulletins and concert tickets and Valentine’s cards are of a piece.

And so, to marry form and function, content and style, I post this entry alongside a list of paradoxes often exhibited by the creative individual (among whom I count myself one).  It’s a coarsely-curated list but it’s more than tolerable as a guide for understanding the oddities of those who aren’t linear or, if linear, inconsistently so.


What we may have left undone


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Forgiveness is the perfume the trampled flower casts back upon the foot that crushed it.

-Attributed to Shakespeare, Mark Twain, and a variety of clueless blog writers

For many years this quote, several poems, a oil pastel portrait of our Scottish terrier, and many a string of daisies adorned our upstairs bathroom.  These gems, the first of which appeared circa 1986, were drawn directly onto the original 1963 yellow-and-white wallpaper by my sister and myself as a protest against the paper’s perceived ugliness.  The bathroom has long since been updated and stripped of its character-filled wall adornments but this particular quote, above–provided, I believe, by my friend Jill–is one of the few that remains, to this day, a source of consideration and humility.

We have all done selfish things, naughty things, things we wish we hadn’t and hope will disappear, but few of us have learned the solidarity of forgiveness that must needs follow these behaviors.  We have all lost our tempers, we have lied and stretched the truth to fit our needs, we have ‘left things undone’, so to speak, and we have very often shirked what little responsibility we have truly been given on this earth.

Most of us, if not each one of us, barring the psychopath or the deranged, has felt remorse, sudden and uncomfortable guilt, a sense of righteousness followed all too quickly by a flash of despair at what we have done.  We wish it were not so and so we follow the lie or the theft or the whatever it was that caught us in need of forgiveness with yet another round of the same.  It is like the hair of the dog and it does nothing to curb our unhappy habit.  In fact, it tends to do quite the opposite, which indeed brings us back to the trampled flower.

Because, much like the statistic regarding selfishness, we have also all been privy to the receiving end of such unpleasantries.  We have been stood up, we have been dumped, we have been lied to or stolen from or hurt by someone.  We have been broken into, in one way or another, and we have not always acted in accord.  We have indeed acted in accord–but not like the flower.  For when a foot, shod or bare, tramples a flower, and breaks its petals, the flower does not and cannot trample back.  The wild exception is the blackberry cane, but even then the fruit it bears is sweet, purple and forgiving.  No, the flower bends and is sometimes broken, but it often will, when carefully and curiously examined, cast upon us a fragrance.  This is what is meant by in accord.

So often the inclination of our heart is not to release anything akin to perfume when the boot comes down upon us.  Instead our first response is to weep angry thoughts and sharpen hardened words and to be, in a sense, the blackberry vine sans fruits.  We dagger our feelings into each other and into ourselves because we have been wounded and we want   When hurt by someone’s selfishness, unkindness, lack of thought or lack of understanding we weep, and we also harden.  Soon we are showing unkindness, being selfish, and crushing the beautiful petals around us, simply because we reacted like a blackberry vine and not a flower.  If forgiveness is the perfume then peace must be the fruit.

Good Works in Green Bay


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In this video you will see Katie Stockman advocating for the creative powers, stories and beauty of women everywhere–but particularly these refugee women in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

It’s never a bad idea to share the good works of another person.  By Good Works I mean the work of another person that promotes Goodness, one component of the trivium–Truth, Beauty and Goodness–that points to God.  (The other two components have been and indeed will continue to be discussed on this here weblog.)

My neighbor’s daughter is part of the Good Work featured in this video and I am so proud to say that I know her and that my life somehow intersects hers, for Christ calls us to surround ourselves with others who do His work and to learn from one another how to discover and use the Gifts He has so generously given us.  Not everyone can be an organizer or a motivator or an advocate, but neither can everyone be a lawyer, a teacher, a lineman, a chef. And so when we see others using their gifts, not afraid or held back by fear, challenges or social constraints, we must thank God, both for the gift and the recipient of that gift.


Ash Wednesday


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Remember that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.

For Ash Wednesday I am letting Professor Alison Milbank speak for me in this University of Nottingham Department of Theology and Religion Sacred Calendars video.

This series, Sacred Calendars, sets to explain the church year, the liturgical calendar to people who, like me, did not grow up in a liturgical tradition.  But it does not assume total ignorance, and that, I believe, is its mark of success.

Let us be penitent; let us rend our hearts and not our garments, and let us sing litanies, long prayers to God, and wear the ashes.  On this Ash Wednesday may our petitions for clean hearts and right spirits be made in humility and in genuine love and may our understanding of the ash on our foreheads remind us of the dust from whence we came.


Shrove Tuesday


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Today, for Shrove Tuesday, I post to the site a video that, in many ways, isn’t phenomenal.  It has had 107 views, and a dozen of those are likely the person or organization that uploaded it.  It has one ‘like’ (mine) and for some seemingly-insensitive reason, one ‘dislike’ (why does that option exist?).  It is a video I found through rather phenomenal circumstances, however, and that is what merits its presence here.

I found this piece after spending the weekend in Rochester, Minnesota, at the annual L’Abri conference, where I met a man named Joe Holbus who attends the church featured in the video.  He and I got to talking, as people do at conferences, and it turns out his church, Trinity Presbyterian, works closely with the Crow Creek Tribe and Reservation to restore and preserve their graveyard.  When I went searching for more information on the leader of this project, Wes Peterson, I found–as one must–there to be more to the story and a strong need for understanding and silence as we hear the stories another culture tells us about its own, precious humanity.

Should you decide to watch it, I recommend sticking to it through all 22 minutes, even though at times it is slow and even repetitive.  Good narrative repeats itself and is rarely–perhaps never–summed up quickly.  It is a Christian video, that is, it possesses and shares the message of Christ which is to Love one another.

Truth is stranger


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I’ve just finished reading a fantastic article from the TLS about a little-known Russian author who (more than likely) forged an account of the ‘lost years’ of Jesus’ life.  While this sounds utterly sacrilegious–and in a way, is–it is also an attempt at an exoneration of the Jews’ part in Jesus’ crucifixion–by a converted Jew.

The man who wrote this account, Russian-born Nicolas Notovich, had been living in Paris for many years and had encountered great discrimination and seen great evil done, both by and to the Jews.  The author of the article, Marcel Theroux, writes with great clarity and turns a side-note of history into a very compelling read. Thus, I spent about 20 minutes this morning utterly engaged in another world and viewpoint on humanity.



Better than Vogue

From a blog I follow called THE FRENCH YAM.  Here’s their YouTube page. Unfortunately, the link to their blog page is banned by our inane service provider (one of the corporate giants whose name contains two letters, one repeated twice), and so by copy-and-pasting here I do not mean to pass of its content as my own, simply to provide a glimpse into French Yam Territory.



Many of us enjoy seeing the latest trends off the runway – oversized coats, statement accessories, etc. We all secretly dream of having a closet full of designer labels and couture gowns.

Hélas ? The realities of being human get in the way.

To stay fashionable without the headache, one needs to cultivate a sense of personal style.

What is personal style ?

Personal style is your best uniform designed to always make you look chic regardless of the trends. In a way it is like your personal brand except that you are not particularly interested in any buyers.

To develop personal style you need to follow these steps:

#1 Define your best face

Stand in the mirror and identify your 3 best features from the neck up. Is it your hair, eyes, lips, skin, neck, etc ?

Yes, you can have more than 3 but the point is not to overwhelm people with your beauty but to cultivate style – now focus.

Once you’ve identified these 3 features, you will want to highlight them. This means that everyday, these are the 3 features that will stand out when people see you. These will be your calling card.

Of course, the secret trick to all of this is balance. When highlighting your triple threat areas, decide which one will play lead and which two will play supporting roles.

This harmony is called your best face.

For example, my best 3 features are: hair, eyes and lips.

To define my best face every morning, i start first with grooming my statement hair. Once my hair is complete, i move to my 2 supporting features: eyes and lips.

And on days where my hair is cast to a supporting role, I can choose between the other two characters depending on the look (re: mood) of the day.


Melanie Laurent serves her best face: Hair, Eyes & Lips

#2 Accept your body and dress accordingly

Stop dieting right now and accept that this is who you are… Seriously, stop !

Yes, we can all agree that our stomach, hips or thighs could be one way or the other. But for that we would probably need to stop actually enjoying life, which ultimately defeats the purpose of the entire exercise.

So instead of watching the scale, let us work with what mother nature has provided: 5 Gorgeous Body Types for us all to play with. Each one of these shapes celebrates the human form in its own unique way. Identify your shape from the one below and start dressing accordingly.

Dress For Body Type

Classic Body Types (l-r): Hourglass, Apple, Rectangle, Pear and the V.

Keep in mind that each shape will need to adhere to its own rules in order to bring out its unique aesthetic. This is the true beauty of being human. No one shape is better than the other.

#3  Assemble the package

Now that you have identified your best face and how to dress for your body. It is time to package it all together into your unique personal style.

Remember, this is not about anyone else but you.

Once you understand what works for face & body, ONLY shop for items that continue to enhance your uniqueness.

If the latest trend does not flatter you, ignore it like it doesn’t even exist. When friends rave about fashions that you can’t wear, frown as if you are bored by the conversation.

Inversely, when the trends turn in your favour. By all means, spin around like an over excited puppy looking forward to a walk. And of course, when your friends make a face, smile quietly on the inside and keep it moving !

Et voilà, you have now cultivated your unique personal style.

French model Jeanne Damas demonstrates why staying true to your personal style is ultimately more interesting than following any fashion trend.

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Many of us enjoy seeing the latest trends off the runway – oversized coats, statement accessories, etc. We all secretly dream of having a closet full of designer labels and couture gowns. Hélas ? The realities of being human get in the way. To stay fashionable without the headache, one needs to cultivate a sense […]

via How To Stay Fashionable Without Becoming a Victim ? — THE FRENCH YAM

Born on Christmas, 1642


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“Isaac Newton said he had seen farther by standing on the shoulders of giants, but he did not believe it. He was born into a world of darkness, obscurity, and magic; led a strangely pure and obsessive life, lacking parents, lovers, and friends; quarreled bitterly with great men who crossed his path; veered at least once to the brink of madness; cloaked his work in secrecy; and yet discovered more of the essential core of human knowledge than anyone before or after. He was chief architect of the modern world. He answered the ancient philosophical riddles of light and motion, and he effectively discovered gravity.  He showed how to predict the courses of heavenly bodies and so established our place in the cosmos.  He made knowledge a thing of substance: quantitative and exact.  He established principles, and they are called his laws.”

These are the opening lines of James Gleick’s Isaac Newton and they are words I wish I had written, for they convey, at least to me, a real sense of the human Isaac, the man and also genius who stood not merely above the world, he also struggled within it.

But here is another version of Isaac, from the Twitter feed of Neil deGrasse Tyson Christmas 2014:

On this day long ago, a child was born who, by age 30, would transform the world. Happy Birthday Isaac Newton b. Dec 25, 1642

It has, of course, been re-Tweeted over the past years. In fact, in this Facebook note deGrasse Tyson himself remarks on the magnitude of this phenomenon.  And yet, if Tyson’s intention was to truly honor Sir Isaac, who was indeed born on Christmas (according to Julian the calendar kept by England at the time) and whose anuus mirabilis or years of wonder, did occur prior to his 30th birthday, then why does it ring so differently in tone to Glieck’s opening lines?  I grant that this is a Tweet, an easily and often intentionally misconstrued bit of writing, not something more full or complete such as not a tome, manifesto or credo.  Gleick’s contains more words and is not constructed in Tweet-ese, but to compress it would look something like this:

Inventor of calculus, Newtonian laws, born into darkness and obscurity on Christmas 1642: Happy Birthday Sir Isaac!

Or something similar. Tyson’s, on the other hand, initially conjures or implies–certainly by design?–the birth of Christ, only to effectively mock that birth in the final line.

But Tyson makes no secret of his disbelief in God and because of this disbelief, has no one else to recommend on Christmas but Isaac Newton.  Scientific giant that he was, Newton is not, nor ever will be, able to offer salvation, forgiveness of sins, or eternal life.  Newton did, however, and to a great extent still does, grant us scope for the imagination, confidence in experimentation and discovery, and not least the persistent struggle or effort that a life of worthwhile work cannot hope to disregard.

Newton himself never divorced his discoveries or ideas from his understanding of and reverence for God, and even though he dabbled in the darker arts of alchemy and failed to fully comprehend or accept the Trinity (ironic he attended Trinity College Cambridge), at no point did Newton disavow God and hand over Creation to something impersonal, entirely scientific, or cold.  Despite all of Tyson’s love for Newton (and he has some good love), the comparison Tyson draws in his Tweet cannot be made beyond those he mentions, for it remains true that Newton is dead, buried at Westminster Abbey (interesting link here), a feature he may share with scores of poets and statesmen, but not with Christ.

Into the snowy bank: The first day of Christmas



To invoke the Twelve Days of Christmas is to begin the season on the thirteenth of December, which was yesterday.  Yesterday we woke up in Manitowoc to snow–the first of the season and light, powdery, blanketing snow it was, too.  And so began the climb, the season of shoveling into the snowy bank.

In Alaska we shoveled a bit of show but as we lived in a remote village with no paved roads it was really only porches and steps that received such consideration.  Everything else just got packed down with boot-wear or by the snowmachine track.  And in Seattle, where I grew up, snow meant a duality of emotions and responses: glee, at least initially, at the novelty of this white stuff; then panic forever after as the realization of what snow in a supremely hilly and densely-packed city means to daily life.  Which is why everything shuts down and the rest of the country points to us and laughs.  If only they knew.

But in Wisconsin, as I was telling my sister the other day via text message, snow falls on gently rolling hills or level roads and is ploughed or swept within hours, if not sooner.  They are prepared for snowfall here, just the way Seattle is prepared for the millions of coffee-drinkers who enter the city every morning. Call it priorities, but in each case it’s a system that works.

le divin Enfant for the seventh day

This has got to be my favorite Christmas carol, or chanson Noël, as it is in French.

The lyrics are beautiful, particularly the French, and even if you don’t understand the French, they’re lovely.  It is a lively song with a joyful-serious subject at its heart: the birth of Christ.  Strange to me just how much is pushed into this four-stanza carol.  Awe-inspiring, really.

Also delightful is this version of the carol sung by (one of my faves) Annie Lennox.  Here’s the link.  The intro is rather contemporary but, no matter what one does to this song, it remains traditional.  That’s the French for you.  That’s the Christ-child for you.

The lyrics to this song are provided here, courtesy of Wikipedia.  Thanks, open source.  Stay net-neutral, everyone, and Merry Christmas!