Gratefulness and Common Grace (a re-post)

[F]or he makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. ~Matthew 5:45b

Somehow we survive on this small blue planet, we fragile bipeds vulnerable to the elements, to disease, to time, and to each other. Logically, our lot is sustained misery, ended only by a merciful death. Yet mankind has done far more than survive. Our life experiences are a rich intermingling of joy and angst, satisfaction and boredom, love and suffering. We look back on our early years and we remember carefree, secure innocence. Centuries’ worth accumulated knowledge was ours to study. Next we loved, and married, and cherished children. We are paid well for skills that we are pleased to perform. And all this while we are nourished with good food, warmed with comfortable clothing, and aided when we are ill.... [Read More]

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Quirky Service and Other Hazards of Shopping Local

My 2004 Subaru interior needed cleaning—badly. And since I was looking to start a new job where I would be driving my car, it was urgent that I get it done soon. I did a quick Facebook search and found a local car detailing business. The reviews were glowing. But besides the votes of confidence, it was hard to get much in the way of crucial information from what the page offered. A bead on the location would have been helpful. I called the number and the proprietor said he charged $150. I would need to leave the car all day Monday. Later, when I had questions, a couple of my text queries went unanswered.

It was a pain dropping the vehicle off. Other detailing businesses I’d seen offered to come to you with their supplies. And it complicated things that the detailing business lacked clear signage. “Across the street from the Toyota dealership” wasn’t helping me. I pulled into a body shop that seemed close to the description of where I was to turn and asked the woman behind the desk whether anyone recognized the name of the business I was looking for. No, they’d never heard of it. Customers seated against the walls of the cramped pre-fab office regarded me with interest. I pulled back out onto the busy highway and finally found the establishment behind a car wash.... [Read More]

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Highly Recommended Drama from India: Laakhon Mein Ek

Yes, you’ll need subtitles to understand what is going on, but this is a brilliant series that illustrates how corruption in high (or mid-level) places hurts needy people the most. Ordinary men and women lose incentive to try their best when they are caught in high-pressure circumstances created by those using the system for their own ends.

It sounds bleak, but it’s not. The acting, script, and story are excellent, the characters ring true, and the series maintains humor (okay, dark humor) every episode. The truths being told aren’t happy, but the depiction is artful and human.... [Read More]

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Anyone else see the new space movie?

My husband and I both like sci-fi and went to see Ad Astra yesterday. It was showing in a small room, and only a handful of viewers were there. So I wondered whether it would be any good.

Without giving much away, I would say that I enjoyed the plausible technological and political vision of our future.  There was an “airport” for going to the moon.  The effects were beautiful, and much of the acting was good. There were original aspects to the plot. I also appreciated the conclusion lMILD SPOILER below, then more to read.]... [Read More]

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Sun in Autumn

On this drizzly October day, I’m looking back on some recent sunnier memories. Here is the view from the house I just moved out of, when the furniture was mostly sold and I was operating from an office chair and folding desk tray. With the blue sky as backdrop and prospect of getting work done, this felt like a luxury.... [Read More]

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Saying Goodbye—to a House

Certain years with my daughters have been especially sweet.  I still savor the time they were three and four and went to a small preschool two mornings a week. On chilly mornings, they went bundled in little sweaters to this place of enrichment and nurture, with lots of great things to do and toys to play with. It had been a good pick for them.

This last year has been difficult in some ways, for sure. And the summer ended with my girls packing up their things and moving on to college together. Now I’ve picked up a second part-time job, and I’m figuring out how to best scale down. But it’s not an easy decision. This morning, I had to take some more pictures of the house that has been our home since last October. Here, we were warm and secure in the winter, and enjoyed glorious walks all summer. We cooked (well, I cooked, mostly) and ate together with phones generally not allowed. We had a lot of interesting conversation, daily silliness, and times where I would say we were actually witty. At least we think so. And this modest 1970’s house was the quiet backdrop. I quickly came to love its soothing colors in the upstairs rooms, and how we had arranged things to make it all our own. More below:... [Read More]

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Tales from My Camera Roll

In June, we had a string of storms. When it rained, it poured—and it rained often. There were high winds, and at least once, it hailed. There’s my faithful little red Subaru just waiting it out.

Hold on, trusty car. It will be over soon. At least I hope so, because there is a seeping issue in the basement. One rainstorm lasted, with varying intensity, for an hour and a half. I was up sopping up basement water after midnight. The owner worked on the gutters, and I haven’t had any more issues so far. It still rains like this, when we get occasional summer precipitation. I don’t know what is up with these extreme downpours.... [Read More]

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Summer Pictures

Here is the bridge over the river before late spring, when it really got gorgeous.
This is my younger daughter on “our” lake near sunset. I have a just okay camera on my phone, so I was skeptical about taking pictures. But the light that evening was amazing. My older daughter and I walked by the lake nearly every evening. We love the landscaping, trees, and walks to private little docks.

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Checking Off My Summer List, Part I

Note: Ratburger friends, I will have to post pictures soon.

Summer in Northwest Montana goes by in a blur. One breezy, sparkling day, a season I call “late spring” emerges out of the weeks of rain, mud, fog, and false starts. I’m ogling the blossomy landscaping at our McDonald’s drive-through and thinking that this must be the prettiest corner of the prettiest region in the US. We’ve arrived, and I vow to hold on to each day so that the months don’t flip by quite so quickly. But then after just a couple family visits, an out-of-town trip, several smoky days we hope will go away, and some weeks of tourist-packed traffic, we’re suddenly back to new teacher training at my job. And then I see the back-to-school supplies at WalMart. And finally—the death knell for summer—come the first crimson leaves that signal we’re about to enter that other season, that one that is unpredictably glorious, and we hope long, but always the gateway into weeks of bleak indoor weather.... [Read More]

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The Super Secret Hideout Fort

If you were anything like me growing up, one of your main modes of play with friends was identifying your super secret hideout, or at least get busy building one. Some of these were out in plain sight—no one was duped as to where you were playing. But other times, you might have managed to find a nifty clearing under low-hanging branches of a tree, or a little wooded area, or an old structure. These hideouts were often unsafe, of course. And although you talked it up often with friends who weren’t in on the secret location, most people over the age of twelve didn’t care a fig where you were playing, as long as you were quiet and stayed out of their way. Hideouts were good for that.

When I was seven, we commonly referred to a special location, which we believed was known to only an initiated few, as a “secret hiding place.” We built ours along one side of our house, next to the swing set on top of a large cement platform that covered the septic tank. I know what you’re asking: where was the supervision? They were glad to stay cool indoors, absorbed in their own tasks. The children could climb trees, launch off swings, and build secret hiding places on the septic tank with panels of sharp tin roofing as long as they played outdoors. There might be a ruptured kidney here and there, but that came with the territory.... [Read More]

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Our City Council’s Strange Decision

I noticed it the first few late evenings after my move to a different town last fall. How could I not? It was a loud, wailing, siren, foreboding and impersonal. Unlike friendly chimes of a city clock, this signal made me want to look for the nearest bomb shelter. My daughters said it went off at 9:58 each night.

We speculated often. Was it some kind of curfew signal? This got us talking about dystopias, about gangs on the street each night. You weren’t safe unless you were indoors. The sound never failed to startle visitors in our home. One thought it must be the end-of-shift siren for the workers at the nearby train yard. I accepted that explanation, until one night, I happened to be driving through downtown right at ten pm. The siren suddenly blasted, and there was no mistaking its origins. It most definitely did not come from the train yard, but wailed deafeningly from some building near me.... [Read More]

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Recommended (or not) on Prime

I thought I’d do you the favor of listing some more quick Amazon Prime Video recommendations so you don’t have to waste your time wading through mediocre productions. This is assuming our tastes align, but have I gone wrong before?

You’re welcome.... [Read More]

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