Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Five: Comfort Food, Media Course

Here in Michigan this week the weather turned for real. The leaves are for the most part off the trees; the autumn flowers are gone; we are officially now in furnace/afghan/comfort food weather. Which makes the RevGalBlogPal Friday Five challenge this week especially relevant:

Today's Friday Five is an opportunity for you to list five of your favorite go-to' movies/tv shows/books. You can use images, links, explanations or Netflix.

Comfort media, in other words.

I used to be one of those children who would read and re-read the same beloved book until the spine was broken and the pages were dogeared, or become so attached to a television show that when it was cancelled it felt as if my world had been turned upside down. Those days, I'm relieved to say, are over; although part of that "overness," I suspect, has less to do with my growing up and more to do with our increasingly fragmented attention in the wake of so many reading, viewing and listening choices. But there are still a few films and books and musical selections I turn to when I need the media equivalent of a warm, snuggly afghan:

1. Fried Green Tomatoes. One of the few chick flicks I enjoy and can watch over and over again. (How weird is it, though, to be reintroduced to Mary-Louise Parker in Weeds, a series I'm finding oddly addicting...pardon the pun.)
2. A Charlie Brown Christmas. Having seen what they're doing to the Charlie Brown franchise on ABC these days, I'm glad I have my own copy of the old and unimproved original.
3. Seed catalogs. These used to be a kind of visual Xanax for me in the dark of winter. Now, thanks to the miracle of the Internet, if I'm stressed out I can access them anytime, for a pleasant interlude of virtual garden planning.
4. Cookbooks.
5. James Taylor and Carol King. The early years, specifically. Destressing balm for the ears and psyche.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Five: Got Connections?

This week's RevGalBlogPals challenge asks us to examine our here goes:

1. Self: Who was your hero/heroine when you were about ten years old?
I have always taken a shine to heroic righters of wrongs: Robin Hood, Zorro, Sherlock Holmes. I also was moved by people who overcame obstacles -- disability, prejudice -- to become change agents in the world. Those were my heroes when I was that age.

2. Family: Who are you most like? Who is most like you?
I think dispositionally I borrow heavily from both parents. But the person most like me...I think my maternal grandmother, a lady I never got to know because she died when I was maybe two. She was very creative and bright; despite a rough start in life thanks to an evil stepmother right out of a Brothers Grimm story and a life of poverty and illness, she found joy and beauty in books, in music, in nature, in the domestic arts.

3. Friends: How do you stay in touch?
The much-maligned Facebook has been a real tool for me to find and keep in touch with old friends from various ages/stages in my life. A recent find was an old penpal I hadn't been in contact with in almost 30 years. Right now I'm trying to find friends from my "Cadillac years" (the Michigan city, not the automobile).

4. Neighborhood, community: What are ways you like to be involved?
Well, as frequent readers know, we get to know our neighbors by doing business with them. As two transplants from elsewhere, we don't have familial or social connections in our town, but we've gotten to know a lot of locals through hiring servicepeople or by patronizing farmstands and home-based businesses like our Amish friend Mary's basket and quilt shop.

5. Job/church: Do you see a need that will help in developing connections?
One of our weak areas at church is adult religious formation. I think that might someday provide a means for building relationships between people, but the trick is discerning what people need and want in terms of growing in discipleship. It's been our experience that floating new programs in a top-down way -- "We think people need X class, so here it is" -- is a sure way to fail. We've not yet discerned an organic desire for any kind of new group bubbling up within our congregation.

Bonus: Here is an interesting Pew study on social networking among older adults.

Wade in the Water...

I know. I should probably write about why I've been scarce in the blogosphere, what I did on my summer vacation and other questions my remaining readership may have.

And I will. But first I want to talk about this other thing:


Water has been on my mind the past few weeks as we ponder how to best care for our backyard pond, an "inherited" feature of our property that we want to keep healthy for the living things that live in and around it.

This is a big spring-fed pond, almost as wide as our lawn and maybe 10 feet deep, not a little kidney-shaped plastic pool. We don't have aeration or other mechanical devices to keep the water oxygenated; we don't do chemicals; we're basically relying on Mother Nature to keep the pond's ecosystem going.

And it has for the most part. It is home to two slider turtles and a multitude of fish, planted comets from the pet store as well as an assortment of tiny wild fish that have just shown up (probably as a result of fish eggs migrating via wildfowl feet.)

But a population explosion of fish this summer has got us worried about winterizing the pond; making sure that we don't experience winterkill, a condition that happens when toxic gases from decomposing plants become trapped under ice and suffocate pond life. This happened to us a couple of years ago; we were horrifed, come spring thaw, to find dead frogs and fish bobbing in the water.

So I've been doing a lot of reading. I've been raking dead leaves and vegetative muck out of the water as I've been able. I've been moderating our fishes' snacks to lower the ammonia content of the water for winter. I've been asking around on gardening forums about creative, non-electricity-using ways to keep open spots in the pond during the winter.

Keeping water clean is hard work, even on our relatively small scale.

Millions of human beings around the world have no access to clean drinking water or safe sanitation. That's why I, like a lot of other bloggers today, are inviting you to think about the importance of clean water to the whole world (and, as our Native American friends would say, to all our relations on this planet), to learn more about this issue and to, if you're able, lend some support to programs that help make water and sanitation available. On the right side of my blog you'll see a widget for the United Nations' clean water initiative; it's likely that you'll also find information about clean-water initiatives on the websites of your church bodies' aid/development agencies and other faith-based organizations.

As many of us are reminded everytime we celebrate a baptism in our churches, water is a good gift of God. We should give thanks for ours...and we can help others to receive this gift.