Winter and the Balm of Color and Light

I recognized the effects of color one winter when I bought a bag of lemons–before they were priced out of my league. I had them in a bowl in the kitchen, and I noticed that I was drawn to keep looking over at them. The little shock of glossy yellow was comforting. I got a similar effect from a heap of limes and tomatoes I purchased for salsa, chili, and spaghetti ingredients. My groceries were doing double duty as medicine for the soul.

I observed something else during the drab, frozen days when darkness closed in before five and a bleary dawn held off until almost nine the next morning. Movies I watched piecemeal on the treadmill were a real mood lifter. Even a few minutes of absorption in a drama not my own made a difference. Of course watching movies was a far more sophisticated solution than buying a bag of fruit. But viewing life in faraway places–where the sun always shone, a gentle breeze ruffled lovely dresses, green lawns stretched alluringly, ladies took walks in rose gardens, and characters conferred under trees where the light through the foliage made fretted patterns in the grass–had healing properties that made me glad for the technology that provided luxurious escape.... [Read More]

6+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

A Good Word for the Latest Star Wars

I just saw The Rise of Skywalker, and I loved it. The visual and aural effects were astounding, the settings beautiful, the story fun, most of the main characters engaging, and the adaptations of what audiences love about Star Wars present without being too derivative. This was brilliant high-tech, family-friendly fantasy storytelling. I did think parts of the script were too warm-fuzzy, but not enough to ruin the movie. It was one of the best they’ve ever made, in my opinion. A dramatic scene with Adam Driver* demonstrates the contrast in acting skills between him and Hayden Christiansen, who played the young Darth Vader in those nearly unwatchable prequels. It’s odd how these films vary in quality.

Now I can go back and read the Ricochet members’ analyses of this movie. Judging by their post titles, they seemed disappointed.... [Read More]

5+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

“Like Getting Jello to Move:” A Day with Kindergarten

I was going through pre-Ricochet writing on FB, when longer pieces were posted in the form of “Memos.” I found this item from 2010, and although I may have posted it before, I thought a reprise would be fun. Note: My experience with this age group was much improved later, due to a new teacher and other factors.

Yep, that’s what a sympathetic school faculty member said when she saw me with that group. “I don’t envy you. It’s like getting jello to move.” And when I thought about it, I realized that you almost couldn’t say it any better. It was hard to do ANYTHING with that group–walk in a quiet line to the playground, do a worksheet, get everyone to the rug, get out scissors for the next stage of an activity, play bingo at lower than ninety decibels.... [Read More]

5+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Unexpected Trouble

As a child, did you ever do something you thought was innocuous, or at least only semi-problematic, and then find out your parents were surprisingly steamed about it? I ran up against this unexpected trouble more than once.

One incident was when I was nine years old at boarding school in northern Thailand. My friend C. dared me to eat a worm. Well, she wasn’t really my friend at the time. She was my rival. We were around the same age, and she was a newcomer from the States, with a collection of novel American toys. Plus she had olive skin, dark hair, and large, expressive green eyes. She liked the boy I’d had a crush on for years–despite her unusual looks, I had dibs on him. My jealousy weighed on me unpleasantly. She and I were always vying for first place in stupid scenarios: who would win in arm wrestling? Who could climb a mountain? We both sensed when the other was showing off, and were mutually annoyed. I affected a slight babyish accent that rubbed her the wrong way; she wanted everyone to know her affinity for animals and talked to lizards with a high-pitched lilt I couldn’t stand.... [Read More]

11+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Unpleasant Sensations

I sometimes get to thinking about the human body’s exquisite sensitivity to pain and the suffering it has caused over millennia of human existence. How brutally painful it would be to have been dispatched by sword edge, or to die in childbirth, or even to expire with a simple case of appendicitis. Just an infected cut on the skin could inflict great misery. It’s bad enough nowadays to struggle with burdensome back or neck problems, or to be in serious condition where pain can barely be managed. Even stubbing a toe can feel unbearable at first.

I understand pain as the body’s alert system for trouble, to protect appendages from damage, to keep one from overusing a hurt limb or even to create desperation so the afflicted individual will seek desperately needed help. But what, I wonder, is the function of such torturous sensation, once time has elapsed, the problem has been addressed, the issue is not life-threatening, or bodily systems are shutting down? Surely, these red-hot alarms need not be so loud, so sharp, and so insistent in order to accomplish their purpose.... [Read More]

7+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

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]

4+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

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]

5+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

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]

5+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

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]

4+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

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]

9+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

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]

12+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

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]

8+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar