This explains everything.

I always suspected that Scout’s ancestors were not wolves, but I never figured out what they were. Watching this animal’s movements and attitude, I think I may have solved the mystery.



When the coast is clear

When I think of Jimmy Buffett, I don’t usually think of spiritual growth or renewal. This is, after all, the man who gave us such spiritually uplifting lyrics as “Why don’t we get drunk and screw?” and “wastin’ away again in Margaritaville.” But this evening, a televised benefit concert for the Gulf Coast provided the answer to prayer.

It hadn’t occurred to me until tonight, but the Deep Horizon oil spill is a pretty accurate metaphor for the disaster that my spiritual life has become this summer. Like BP, I’ve been sloppy about maintaining the safeguards that protect my thought from the dark, messy contamination that invariably spews forth when mortal mind is allowed to operate unchecked, and like the sea creatures in the path of the spill, I’ve found myself mired in error, struggling to stay afloat.

This evening, as I was frantically trying to sort out a difficult calculus assignment, Ron turned on the TV, and out floated the Coral Reefers’ soothing steel drums.

All day, I’d been praying to remember how to let go of the fear, anger, and frustration that have been clouding my thought all summer, so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when Buffett sang a set of revised lyrics to “When the Coast Is Clear” that included this line:

“We’re gonna have to work to see that the coast is clear.”

Work to see? That sounds like something that would come out of a practitioner’s mouth, I thought. I scribbled the line on the edge of my math assignment.

A moment later, he reinforced the lesson:

“Anger makes us doubtful, while fear can cloud the view.”

Heh, I thought. That’s got Mrs. Eddy’s fingerprints all over it:

“Let neither fear nor doubt overshadow your clear sense and calm trust, that the recognition of life harmonious–as Life eternally is–can destroy any painful sense of, or belief in, that which Life is not.”
Mary Baker Eddy

Apparently the voice of God sounds like Jimmy Buffett. Who knew?


Scenes from the road

This is the first time in a month that I’ve been in town for an entire weekend, so I’m finally getting caught up on some things around the house — like Photoshopping some of the pictures I shot on the road.

While I was in Illinois for a visit with family and old friends a couple of weeks ago, my parents and I drove down to the area around McClure, Ill., to find the property where my late grandmother grew up.

The homestead where Grandma and her siblings grew up was near Horse Creek. See the bridge in the background? It didn’t exist back then, so people had to ford the creek at the point where the road in the foreground runs out.

The property is adjacent to the Shawnee National Forest. Imagine having such a magnificent forest as your playground. I’m not sure how much time Grandma got to spend tromping around in the woods after Great-Grandpa died — Grandma wound up taking care of her nine siblings more or less on her own while her mom worked to put food on the table — but I’m sure in the early years, she must have spent at least a little time under those trees.

Here is the road leading from the creek back to the old homestead.

I love the way the light filters through the trees.

The forest is heavily populated with little ferns.

Tiny minnows were swimming in a cold, shallow stream.

I waded in the stream for a minute or two before Mom noticed tadpoles darting under the rocks. We were afraid I might squish one of them, so I got out of the water and put my shoes back on.

Mom took this picture. She thought that hole near the roots of a tree looked like a gnome house. We didn’t stick our fingers in there to find out who lived there….

On the way out of Oklahoma, I stopped for a quick photo op with Bobby McGee at Afton Station.

This pretty little leopard moth was resting on a gas pump in Joplin. I think it looks like a cross between a butterfly and a Dalmatian.

Ron and I spent last weekend in New Mexico.

Some rugrats from Arkansas signed Bobby McGee. The little bitty guy’s name is Otis. Really. Isn’t that cute?

We sat outside the Blue Swallow on Sunday night and watched Tucumcari’s fireworks display with Bill and Terri (above), who own the motel. Bill and Terri are great hosts. If you’re ever in Tucumcari, you must spend an evening at their motel.

On the way back, we encountered another art car outside the Midpoint Cafe on Route 66 in Adrian, Texas. It isn’t exactly like Bob’s van, but it was close enough to make me sort of suck in my breath a little bit as we pulled up.

On the way home, we took a short detour to Palo Duro Canyon, south of Amarillo, to see the rock formations. Palo Duro is a really nice CCC park. (Note to President Obama: The stimulus package is nice, but I’m still waiting for you to bring back WPA and CCC.) We didn’t have time to do much more than drive through it, but we’ll definitely go back when we have time to hike on the trails and explore a little more.

As we were coming through western Oklahoma, we encountered an old friend. This Muffler Man used to stand in front of a car dealership in Clinton. The dealership changed hands, and the Indian vanished. We stopped at an Indian art shop just off I-40 somewhere outside of Clinton on Monday evening and discovered a familiar-looking character out front. The girl working the cash register confirmed that this was, indeed, the Indian from Howe Motors.

Hope you’ve been enjoying your summer weekends as much as I have.

— Emily

KISS it, calculus.

Normally, you’d look at something like this and think, “OK … somebody has way too much free time.”

In reality, I have absolutely no free time. This is what I was doing while I was supposed to be doing my calculus homework. I will almost certainly regret that decision tomorrow morning, when I am crawling out of bed at the butt-crack of dawn to try to finish all my assignments before we leave for Tucumcari … but for now, let’s just enjoy the moment and contemplate what sort of mind would produce something like this. 🙂