Sunday, August 31, 2008


So now all the people who were trying to convince us that Barack Obama isn't experienced enough to be president (a fair criticism) are insisting without a hint of irony that Sarah Palin is. It reminds me of Clinton's critics who were shrieking about how a politician's immorality made him unfit to hold public office until Newt Gingrich got caught with his pants down and then, nary a peep, except the occasional half-apologetic use of the word "unfortunate."

(I'm positive that the hypocrisy works the other way, but right this minute I can't think of an example.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Need a home away from home?

If you're in Gustav's path and need a place to stay, let us know--we have room! You can email me at (Obviously, that's not a real email address--you'll have to modify it yourselves.) We'd be happy to have you. Keeping our fingers crossed . . . take good care of yourselves and your families.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'm tired but it's a good kind of tired

My mom and I worked all day today and at the end of the day (believe it or not, by 4:00), we had made 36 meals to put in the freezer! (Thanks, mom!!) I wanted to take a picture to post here but I was too tired. Anyway, maybe we have a chance now to actually eat at home more often, even if it is just the three of us (or maybe because it is just the three of us.) We made taco meat and chicken tortilla soup and homemade spaghetti sauce and sloppy joes and hamburger patties (which do double duty in hamburgers and in snowy peaks*) and meatloaves and meatballs and lemon grilled chicken and barbecue chicken and just plain grilled chicken and King Ranch chicken casserole . . . I'm tired and happy.

*"snowy peaks" are Boo's favorite, invented by C's grandmother. Just put a hamburger patty on a saucer, then a slice of cheese and then a big dollop of mashed potatoes and then a sprinkling of shredded cheese on top.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The 2008 Olympic games are over now, consigned to history--unforgettable history. We are Olympics junkies and always have been. We watch team handball and table tennis and gymnastics and soccer and swimming (Can you believe Michael Phelps, the dynamo who shrugged and said, "I don't know, I just like swimming fast.") and boxing and diving (although C did finally say one night, "Obviously, there are people who watch prime time Olympics coverage who are more into diving than I am.") We watch the qualifying events and the medal competitions. We watch the medal ceremonies as the national anthems play. On our trip, we drove hard every day and ate in our hotel rooms so we could watch every minute possible.

We fell in love during the 1984 summer games and have been watching the Olympics faithfully ever since. If your kids are the same ages as our kids, chances are you've been to one of our Olympic parties, usually consisting of watching the opening ceremonies with family-style events during the commercials--Q-tips for javelin throw, cotton balls for shot put, wrestling with the daddies in the middle of the den floor. Then the adults would finish watching the festivities on television while the kids conked out on the sofa, after many New Years' Eve-style protestations that they could stay awake until the end.

This year's games were maybe the best I can remember. The opening ceremonies never looked so good, a combination of the insane amount of money the Chinese spent and the fact that we've never watched them on humongous, flat-screen TVs in high def before. To be fair, the Chinese did a terrific job--so innovative and bold. We found ourselves amazed that they thought of such creative ideas and then even more impressed that they were able to execute them. I was miffed that some of it was CG (and even more frustrated that NBC didn't tell us) and I thought the inclusion of Chinese soldiers was chilling (as the narrator intoned, "The Chinese military who will insure the future of China's children . . . ")--Yikes.

And let's just get the negative stuff out of the way: The IOC assured us repeatedly that China had promised to pay attention to human rights issues and then completely dropped the ball. Supposed "terrorists" (can you say, "dissidents"?) were publicly executed before the games. China did keep its promise to allow designated areas for protesters--areas which remained empty because everyone who submitted a request to protest was arrested (an old Mao-era tactic). I had sincerely hoped that the IOC would make sure that the promises made were promises kept but I was wrong--apparently the ends really do justify the means.

But the Olympics are, above all, a terrific symbol of hope. We saw Georgian and Russian athletes competing fairly and then embracing. We saw the American-born daughter of Russian gymnasts compete against her best friend, who was trained by a Chinese coach from Beijing. We saw small, insignificant nations win their first medals ever. And we saw, over and over, the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" and win or lose, we admired the focus and the dedication of the world's best athletes. As Raffi sings in the McDonald's commercial, "The more we get together, the happier we'll be."

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm back!

We did it! We drove Mowgli all the way to North Carolina and left him there . . . and we all survived. I think it helps that he had been working almost 40 hours a week and then running or playing ball in the evenings. We miss him but we're okay.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Small consolation

Several years ago, I heard the story of Christians in Asia who were tortured for their faith. I especially remember the story of pastors who were confined in coffin-like boxes, with little to no room to move. I was horrified and have even had nightmares about that since. Imagine my horror then, to learn that my government uses this particular technique on Iraqi and Afghan prisioners (and possibly those at Guantanamo, as well). The only consolation is knowing that no matter who wins the November election, America will no longer be in the business of torture.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Your tax dollars (not) at work

On July 29, the big story on the front page of the Austin American Statesman was about a state agency whose building is largely inaccessible to persons with disabilities--ramps were too steep, doors were too heavy, counters were too high for people in wheelchairs, and so on. Turns out the agency not only lacked most recommended accomodations for the disabled, it was at least 15 years behind the code (the same code that private businesses have to abide by or face fines and punitive action, by the way). Biggest problem: the agency was the Health and Human Services Commission, the same state agency that administers programs for people with disabilities.

This made me think of two things: One, I was reminded of the absolute impossibility of depending on the government to do anything. I am infinitely grateful that I am not dependent on welfare or an immigrant (documented or otherwise) or waiting for disaster relief or disability services. Even just getting Boo a driver's license has turned out to be completely overwhelming.

Second, I thought about the wider implications of accessibility. For example, since it hits close to home, how often do we invite people to find spiritual answers at church and then make it almost impossible for them to find what they are looking for. We force them to navigate our rituals and our jargon and our social cliques and our petty infighting and then tell them, "Y'all come back now!" and wonder why they don't.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Everyone is back where they belong! C and Boo got back late last night from their mission trip to the border. In C's words, "it was a perfect trip." They did VBS for about 30 children, completely renovated and repaired a home belonging to a single mother and her children, bought her a refrigerator and food to go in it, helped serve food for relief groups, and I'm not sure what all else. C has pictures of standing water left over from the flooding and says the bugs are terrible. Surprisingly, except for Boo and the staff, none of the team had ever been on a mission trip before (actually, the construction supervisor had been to the border 20 years ago) and they were deeply touched and challenged. And, of course, C is so good at helping them process their experience with Scripture and questions. Boo took more than 600 pictures. Here are two.