Monday, April 26, 2010

E = m(mom)c(can’t)²

The theory of relativity works at our house, if it’s not relative, we don’t do it. Unfortunately this has been haunting me for the past month.

We are not very scientific oriented. I enjoy science, the Discovery channel is a household favorite. I enjoy math, too, for its logic and accuracy. But generally, we are into music, writing and other artistic endeavors. And we are stodgy in our willingness to explore outside our niches.

This week is our homeschool science fair. I’ve been reminding the girls to get their projects ready and handing off the responsibility to Paul. Paul loves science fairs. He did projects with Erica that won awards, in spite of our artistic leaning. So it came as a surprise last week when he told me we are all too stretched to do the fair. April’s had at least one planned major event a week with two or three more thrown in as unexpected challenges. Not fun, but we’ve managed on our feet. This week is holding true to this unusual form.

Due to this late change in procedure, we were stuck. One teen is insisting science is not relative to her life and I am trying to make the point it is, even if relegated to the back porch most of the time. Paul’s solution is to assign reports. I’m happy with that, no extra work for him and me, and they will do the same research.

I didn’t bring it up until we were in the car on our way to do something fun. I have to pick my moments! I briefly explained that Dad and I are up to our ears in ‘other things’ and they don’t have a project ready so we want them to write a ten page report on a science subject of their choice due the end of May. That’s fair and they have a whole month. The other homeschoolers will lose the benefit of their input but they will be off the hook this week and can help out at the fair in other ways.

There was a long silent pause. Then I almost ran a red light, their responses blew me away. One exclaimed she wanted to do her presentation, never mind the fact that she only has four days to pull it together. The other one thought for a moment and declared reports were awful so she’d do her project as well in four days. I added that Dad and I can’t help and they agreed they are fine with that.

Yes! We’re on!

Their determination is refreshing, even now they are studying on the net, taking notes and calling me over to review experiments.

Does the theory of relativity allow for the unexpected? I’m not sure but I use the scientific method frequently on non-scientific things like relationships. This time the data has come back to go with the easiest solution and be prepared to change midstream. I am thrilled to have my teens step up to the plate and take charge when they weren't so inclined to begin with. They both get A’s for amazing attitudes!

Photo credit: Erica McGrath

Saturday, April 17, 2010


A few weeks ago I started a job as an editor at MuseItUp Publishing. MuseItUp Publishing is an new e-publisher from Canada. It is owned and operated by Lea Schizas, famed for her online writing conference. She is an award winning author and a mentor to many writers. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with her, and my colleagues are each wonderful. Tres excellent! Please check out the website in my sidebar here.

The week after I started at MuseItUp, I received an author contract in the mail. My memoir story, An Invitation to Hope, will print in the Patchwork Path, A Christmas Stocking anthology, in October. A dream come true!

As many of you know, I’m working on several novels, non-fiction works, and short stories. I had an idea for another novel this week so I’m busy making notes, researching details, and dreaming in type again. The others are getting revised and edited and one is almost ready to submit; Primordial Sun, my NaNo novel last November. A few plot fixes and such and it will be on its way.

Does it feel good? No, it feels great! It’s sort of like giving birth. You wait forever it seems and all of a sudden, your little treasure is right there crying for attention and demanding to be fed. So enjoy the process to the birth and send me the announcement when your bundle of joy arrives!

Photo credit: Erica McGrath

Friday, April 9, 2010

Street Kid from Dorchester

I’m a sucker for a purr. This is why I say no more cats in the house. I can’t take it when they die, but no one knows that. Paul and the girls just think I’m mean, and I like it that way. I don’t want them to know; it makes me too easy and I’ll lose the credibility I’ve worked so hard for through the years. So I remind them of the hundreds of dollars we spent, and countless midnight hours in the animal hospital. I pull out cat hairs from my secret collection to remind them this is why we don’t have cats anymore, too many white hairs on black pants and dander, don’t forget the dander. And the litter box, I exclaim triumphantly.

Then the street kids from Dorchester happened onto the scene… The girls’ friend found two kittens under her porch. These are miracle kittens. They survived not one, but two major week long rain storms and floods. Mom cat stayed with them until a few days ago so they are weaned. I heard bits of conversation here and there and absently stated how wonderful kittens are, foolishly letting my guard down. The girls asked if maybe we could get one of them and I said no, when we get a cat it will be from the MSPCA so we know it is sanitized. Yes, I used that word… or thought it. Sad, eh?

The girls glared at me when they thought I wasn’t looking. Paul grumbled around the house and banged a few things in passing. Something was going on and I seemed to be missing it. Finally the kettle boiled over. Paul told me about the kittens himself and claimed he sternly said no to the girls. I said I wanted ours to come from the MSPCA for germ reasons, oh, and rabies. Then he referenced the fifth piano, the nerve…and how Elizabeth was asking for a kitten and these were the second free babies to pass our way. Maybe God brought these kittens to us and we are ignoring Him. Indeed. So I stuck to my guns and refused the cute little kitten images fast-forwarding through my brain, sure I did... Even as I was shaking my head no, that small still voice in my heart was echoed by Paul’s voice word for word. “Why don’t we bring one home for a day or two and see what we think? We can bring it to the shelter ourselves if things don’t work out.”

Isn't this the most beautiful face you've ever seen?!

Here I sit now, with my arms scratched from playing kitty wrestle, a few typos in this post from getting kitty off the keyboard and holding my breath every time she leaps from the couch to the coffee table which is three times the length of her tiny body. And she meows at me in the morning because she’s mad I left her alone at night.

I know why animal lovers would rather be with their pets than people, they remind us of God. It’s the goodness of God that leads a man to repent. It’s the goodness of the pet owner that brings kitty out of hiding, but that is another post. We are trying to rescue her brother, we're even offering a reward. As you can see, no non-sanitized kittens are allowed here.

See you later, folks, I’m playing with the street kid from Dorchester now, she wants to sit and purr; I’m a goner.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Godzilla Resurrected - a note from Paul

Decay and corruption can only hold power over something that is dying. That is an amazing thought to me. My entire Christian life was rocked when I heard the admonition “do not try to change the old man, he’s dead, put him off.” Yet daily my spiritual eyes grow heavy and I slip back into a comfortable dream world like being lulled to sleep by a lullaby. A place where visions of getting it all together and organized fill me with false hope and the bravado which endangers myself and others.

Or worse maybe. My head dances with the nightmare of a zombie, an animated corpse, whose desperate attempts to conduct itself as one of the living fills itself only with frustrated anger. Perhaps that is why those movies are violent, the acting out of a hidden self-loathing. Perhaps that is why we find so often in Christian circles an atmosphere of cultured and highly refined abuse. Where the individual’s worth is rejected, ever so delicately, and the group’s purity is embraced instead.

The desire for a Savior who only “instructs“ is a poison that goes down like a chocolate Easter bunny. Ears tickle with the oath “I will save the rest” but soon the whole thing sits in your belly, churning away. One more book, one more bit of new knowledge, some choice bit of info, calls out as if it could reanimate a stone heart. “Learning “ dances before our eyes enticing us with the lie that it has the breath of life to offer, but it will only leave us panting in exhaustion after the waltz.

When God enlightens the heart it is never with words void of power. The master over his creation, he gives life not with ideas or ideologies, but with words carried on the wind of his breath. That is why he said “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. ... Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. ...” The true power in scripture is found in accepting the speaker, not just the spoken.

All this thought from the memory of a film clip that resurfaces from time to time in my mind. This short scene has traveled with me like a hidden message unopened until this year. A flash of a recollection that the adult in me, busy with bills and family, has time and again brushed aside. But now the seal of it was broken by some gentle breeze passing over it, or maybe by the few moments of acceptance I gave it. It wasn’t written or shot with the intention of communicating things eternal. Dear God, not at all. This is something from the world of a child, something a boy once thrilled over. Godzilla.

Not the Original black and white masterpiece with its slow and deliberate shots of the Japanese suffering from radiation sickness. Ho No, nothing so grand. It’s from the class of movies with men in rubber monster suits tramping about on a set of miniatures, dueling out. Movies complete with toy tanks and jet planes on wires and poor dubbing. They are the purely ridiculous Saturday morning creature double feature ones.

Godzilla is defeated. Two monsters completely trounce him into submission, and bury him alive beneath tons of dirt. One of the hideous beasts actually dances on his grave tamping down the earth till there is only one conclusion, Godzilla is dead. The hero of Japan is gone leaving Destruction free to roam and destroy. Time passes in the film, and with it, all hope in a childish mind … But then the earth begins to stir as if some invisible hand was reaching down to dig. A young heart skips a beat. The evil victors in their rampage pause as a grave explodes; and claws raised, Godzilla roars his challenge. His eyes levy with his foes, sand pours off his face. You know he is undefeatable now – for hell only has power over that which is dead, never over something resurrected.

I think of this clip that popped in my mind from time to time and wonder. Did an almighty God, a being of incalculable power, sit down with a young sparrow of a boy and fellowship with him watching a meaningless movie? Did he highlight an image of baptism, of redemption, and give the boy his first glimpse of the Gospel? Could it be even remotely true that God is that involved in our lives to leave a message that he has always been there?

Or is it just as the adult, intellectual, reasonable man would say, “The middle aged mind romanticizes the past” or “this is a common and misleading phenomenon produced in the psychology of a developing mind resurfacing through the trigger of stress in the adult life.”

Well …to hell with all that reasonable babble. I am tired of being lulled to sleep by a lullaby of rationality. I am tired of managing dead flesh with dead words. I want to become like a little child with my Father. I want to believe.