Same job, different uniform.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Lethargic Longhorn

September 29, 2006

Dear Gentleman in the Winco Wearing a Burnt Orange T-shirt:

Next time you are wearing a Texas Longhorns T-shirt in a grocery store in Boise, Idaho and a cute three year old tries to make a connection with you (because he too has a tie to Texas), by holding up the first and and last fingers of his right hand and saying, "Hook 'em!" this is what you are supposed to do:

1.) Give him a big smile and maybe a little chuckle.

2.) Say "Hook 'em!" back.

3.) If you are feeling really chatty, throw in some commentary on Mac Brown or Vince Young.

This is what you are not supposed to do:

1.) Give him a thin little half smile and say "I'm just a fan" with all the energy of a dead armadillo and then look away.

(See, we actually suspected you were a fan by the t-shirt you were wearing. That's why we thought we'd try to be friendly and give you the hook 'em sign. If you can't get behind this Texas mentality buddy, you don't deserve to be wearin' the burnt orange.)

Jeez. We've had more enthusiam from out of state Aggies fans!!


Overprotective Mother

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Jesus Freaks

Ann Hornaday has briefly reviewed Jesus Camp.

Money line:

"'Jesus Camp' is often funny (just listen to Becky fulminate against Harry Potter), but it's also a scary, sobering inside look at the attempts of an increasingly powerful group to erode the separation of church and state. What's the Christian word for caliphate?"

If you haven't yet, stop by Lone Prairie for an exhaustive discussion of the documentary.

But don't cross Julie. She will trounce you.

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The Illusion of Privacy

This doesn't get any less weird over time.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006


A friend and I went for a walk on Saturday and passed the corner where an Episcopalian church is being built. There is no sign explaining which Episcopalian church is building there, but I was heartened by the site.

They are building in the old way: upward. There appears to be a choir loft (organ loft?) and possibly a bell tower. Even its skeleton is elegant.

We wandered inside. (I can't deny this. There is no effort to keep anyone out. To the contrary, it beckons.)

We were delighted with our little discovery. I know you will appreciate it.

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Roar of the Crowd

Which sporting event has the hum of the crowd that you prefer to hear?

They're different, you know, those hums. I just noticed this; flipping between channels showing football and baseball games. Even the sound of the crowd at college football games is different than the soft roar of an NFL crowd. To some fans, this sound must be music.

Which do you prefer?

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

All the Blessedness of this Life

The aisles were teeming with laughing children. Then I knew today was special.

I should start at the beginning:

With last night and sips of wine, spoonfuls of hot stew and two helpings of green salad prepared by the magnificent woman who is my Mother. Her friendship and counsel filling up my heart. Starting this Day reading that post, which I sent to my mother who said, "That's when I knew, too."

And breathing the wild, windy air.

Little exchanges. One, from my beloved Aunt who reads this journal. Others from my sisters and those who would be sisters. And my father (offering to cook for me); my brother; my love.

A productive day ended and I am back out into the wild outside. Purple hills silhouetted against a blue and ivory sky. The wind is everything.

I arrive at the grocery store where shoppers are frequently on their phones and parents snap impatiently at toddlers.

There was none of this. Tonight was different.

A wide-eyed cherubim gnawed on a green onion through the wrapper and stared unblinkingly at me from her seat in the cart. Mom and dad moved slowly past the imported cheese, mom's hand on dad's back.

A tattooed father and his brood whirled by me as I hunted for Greek salad dressing, a curly-haired angel clinging to the side of the cart. The father said something about an item that they needed that would stretch their budget. The angel lisped, "But, but we don't have the money." (So precocious! So full of care!) "That's right, we don't, because you're an expensive little bugger," he joked as they moved away.

A harried-looking man, in a business suit, with black circles under his eyes, pushed the metal cart that carried a flaxen haired boy about the age of 3 who wasn't afraid to look at me. There was love in those father's tired eyes. Love that was working and fighting.

In line with the scowling clerk (I became instantly irritated--though I had been the one to dash away to look for eye contact solution--checked myself and forgave her. It was a magic day, after all.). I heard a squeal and expected a scolding. I looked up and a be-capped African man (what a nice face) was half-holding, half tickling his son.

I walked outside and the white-haired man moving towards the entrance from his place in the disabled parking smiled at me and said hello. I drove through the cool, mad air, carrying my abundance home in the twilight of this Perfect Day. This Instrument.

I am happier for having been reminded by Malcolm, Lewis' correspondent, that
"one had to start by summoning up what we believe about the goodness and greatness of God, by thinking about creation and redemption and 'all the blessedness of this life.' You turned to the brook and once more splashed your burning face and hands in the little waterfall and said, 'Why not begin with this?'"
My cup runneth over.


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Jesus Loves Me, This I Know . . .

I am singing "Jesus Loves Me" to my sweet faced three year old, stretched out and facing him on his narrow twin bed, and he reaches over as I sing, his eyes crinkled at the corners because of the big grin on his face, and gently strokes my cheek as sing. This is how I know.

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The UP side of being a quadruple amputee

The next time you are feeling overwhelmed, getting your unfair share of hard knocks, sick, injured, depressed, failing at your job, worried about the miriad perils of just being alive, consider the case of Mr. Douglas Davis, 36, of Fredonia Wisconsin. At the very tender age of 25, Mr. Davis lost not one arm, not one leg, but all four of his limbs to a blood infection. Not a car accident of his own causing. Not a heroic battlefield endeavour from which he could at least take a measure of pride and knowledge of beloved comrades saved. A random blood infection.

But at the 35th annual One-Armed Dove Hunt (I'm not making that up), outside Olney, Texas this summer, Mr. Davis had this to say about hunting on cold mornings since his accident: "I don't have to worry about my hands or feet getting cold."

This isn't to say that you and I don't have our problems, our worries, or even life threatening situations to deal with. But next time you are feeling overwhelmed remember a man who thinks of the UP side of not having any arms or legs.

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I'd like to be blogging
But I ought to be sleeping
So it is away to rest that I go.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

As anniversaries go, this one is insignificant.

girlfriday has been going strong for over a year. Everyone does this: marks their blogging anniversaries. It is a way of demonstrating our die-hard commitment to hunching over a keyboard hammering out opinions, anecdotes and reflections.

Not very poetic.

Nevertheless ours is here, and I'm glad it is. Among my favorite entries:

Jeb's review of Brokeback Mountain, which elicited some very thoughtful comments, including one in Spanish. Or her Six Women I Admire post which succeeded in doing what love's expression always does.

ihearttexas shares her experience volunteering in the child care center in Austin in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. "...I was on my brother's shoulders, and something in the water kept biting me."

Lois E. Lane succinctly lays out the distinction between experiencing painful or stressful emotions versus transforming that emotion into an entitlement attitude. "This is a crappy world. We have a loving God. Finding the balance in our attitude is the tricky part."

I had nearly forgotten that Jeb and Tex were embroiled in a Bing vs. Elvis debate at one time. It's an important question, people.

The Snark, whose absence has been long felt, waxes philosophical on love. Not on what it is, but on what it is not. "Love is not something done 'for your own good.'"

In my judgement, my most meaningful post was about the nature and significance of our memories. It may happen that I forget that I love you. Or you forget me. Sacrifices made, hard-won victories, crooked smiles, your infectious laugh, my red-hot anger, may slip into the nether regions of a clouded mind. If this happens, I hope you will remember this moment when I tell you that who you are and what our interaction was is meaningful even if I cannot recall it.

I'm glad I journaled that one. I've been meaning to reprint it. I don't want you to forget.

I'm also proud of my "Fifth Noble Truth: Suffering is Only Bad if it's Your Own." If only my pride translated into reform.

This is girlfriday, one year later, not unlike girlfriday every day: life. In no particular order.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Little Delusions

He thinks he can still sing.

She thinks she is not photogenic.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

It is the End of That Day.

I remember walking into our lovely, anachronistic office in the old white building opposite the Court House in Alexandria. Don was in his high-backed leather chair, leaning forward; Tucker stood near the desk bent over the radio. I had walked to work that day and I must have been running late because I hadn't seen the news.

"A plane hit the World Trade Center in New York City," Tucker said.

I had heard, vaguely, of the World Trade Center. I couldn't possibly know what that meant. Just five miles from the Pentagon we discovered it had been hit. While we huddled in our office.

We tried to call out. They tried to call in. One way or another everyone found out that everyone else was okay. Everyone in my little universe.

Don left a voicemail for me to come over to his house to be with him and his wife. "Be safe," he ended with. I went. I was. I didn't erase that message for years.

Upstairs in the bedroom of my strange and cozy duplex I clung to the image of Peter Jennings. It was a kind of morbid fascination. What would happen next?

We barely worked. We knew nothing else. When the President asked us to attend worship that Friday afternoon, I was there, nestled beside strangers.

I have never felt more insulated from crime than I felt that first week. Who would touch me when we were standing together against a common, fearsome enemy? I would be wounded, I told myself, at the first shot fired in a random act of violence. (There were to be many shots fired by psychotic killer and his "son" just a month or so later. I was cold with fear.)

I snapped photos at the draped flags. We three hung our own. I promised I would never forget.

But I have. And I do. I asked someone today what the date was.

"What are days for?" the poet Philip Larkin asked. We used to know the answer to that. Days were for living, for working, for the rituals of normalcy that make up the way of life we have come to know as American. These days had their ups and downs; they had their surprises and shocks. But they had as well a sense of reliability or modest predictability. We barely noticed these small moments of routine that, strung together, formed the ballast of a culture: the commutes to work, the family outings, the plane rides to friends, the coffee breaks and household chores. They acquired a rhythm that, although we easily forgot, took a revolution to begin, a civil war to resolve and dark and bloody wars to defend.

This normalcy was not the same thing as freedom; but it was quietly dependent on it.

Wrote Andrew Sullivan in the aftermath. And I have never forgotten it.

That was what September 11, an important Day, meant to me.

Now a day means the normalcy that is not the same thing as freedom. But it is still dependent on it whether I remember or not.

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O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

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Friday, September 08, 2006

"It's not too soon. It's not too soon. It's not too soon."

She appeared at the video store counter with three movies. One of them was Flight 93. She asked what it was about.

They told her.

In return they got a blank stare.

White Noise brings the fantasy that it's "too soon" to be making movies about 9/11 to a screeching halt.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Brisket Found!

About 2 years ago, my family moved from Austin, Texas to Meridian, Idaho. It was a good move for us in most ways, but if there are two things we miss terribly about Texas it is the music and BBQ . . . and by "BBQ" I mean brisket.

When we first moved to Texas in 2001 and started going to the likes of Rudy's, Mueller's, The Salt Lick, and the County Line, I never ordered brisket. To me, BBQ was ribs - dry rubbed or dripping with sauce - or pulled pork on a sandwich, such was my introduction to southern BBQ by my deep south friends in Washington, DC. But Texas isn't the deep south (it's Texas), and BBQ in Texas means, among other things, brisket - slow smoked and crispy at the edges, plump and dripping with juice. Cut across the grain, it should just about fall to pieces (as Patsy Cline once said about a man - clearly she hadn't had brisket) when you pick up a slice. You can put some sauce on this amazing piece of smoked beef but if it's done right you'll hardly notice if you don't.

At first, living in Austin, I could take or leave a trip to get BBQ. And then one day, my husband took me to Mueller's and told me to order the brisket and to get it "moist."

Well, put a fork in me. I was done.

I never ordered another rib - dry rubbed, short, baby back, or otherwise. I came to crave brisket even more than my husband, who had previously been the aficionado. So when we moved to Boise in July of 2004, we were salivating for a place to get good BBQ. And we were pretty much left to just salivate, because let me tell it is hard to come by in this town.

And then a friend told us about Roadhouse BBQ in Eagle, a bedroom community of Boise, like Meridian, and right next door. We walked in the door, and the aroma that greeted us almost brought tears to my eyes. It looked the part of a roadhouse (without the grime), but the true test would be the brisket. I ordered mine "moist" or "with the fat," picked some sides, grabbed a lemonade and barely made it to the table before digging into the blackened exterior and juicy red (red, not pink - well-smoked meat has a reddish hue to it) interior of the brisket on my plate.

My husband would have to tell you exactly what the expression on my face was, but I believe my eyes rolled back in my head, my eyelids fluttered, and my body went limp as I teetered on the edge of euphoria. We had found it. Brisket. Real brisket. Texas brisket. Slow smoked, crispy at the edges, plump and dripping with juice.

In my not so humble opinion this is the ONLY place to have BBQ in the Boise area. And not just for the brisket. If you haven't quite made the jump yet to real BBQ (brisket), you can still get ribs and pulled pork, as well as sausage (this is another Texas thing I really dig), turkey and ham. (Their menu is mercifully devoid of CHICKEN!) You can choose from various traditional BBQ sides, such as beans, potato salad, red potatoes, cole slaw, turnip greens, sweet potatoes, black eyed peas, green beans, and cucumber and onion salad. I've had the beans, the red potatoes and the cucumber salad and I love them all.

But the food isn't the only thing to love about Roadhouse - the original Stevie Ray Vaughn concert posters on the wall, the giant photos of Caddo Lake and bluebonnet fields. Signed photos of Pat Green and Robert Earl Keen (both have eaten at Roadhouse and sung its praises). The Texas music they keep pumping through the speakers. The garage doors off the main dining room that are opened on nice evenings. And finally, but far from least importantly, the Shiner Bock beer. God Bless Ross and Polly (the owners - who made their way up here from Texas, via Louisiana) for the Shiner Bock. If you haven't had a bottle(they'll serve it to you in a glass, but why bother), get one of those too when you order your brisket. Settle in to a table near an open garage door or under that enormous bluebonnet photo, pick up a big juicy slab of brisket, pretend you are sweating profusely from insane heat and humidity, think about college football, and by gosh you'll be having yourself one true Texas experience.

Go to their website for more information:

[One final note: When you go, if you order the brisket, don't be a nancy boy, pretend you care about your waist line and order it lean. Get it with the fat. This is the way it's done. You're not going to be eating gristle or anything. Good meat has some fat in it. Fat is where the flavor is. And when meat is smoked right, like this is, the fat just melts right into the flesh of the meat and infuses it with all that is good and holy. Trust me on this.]

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Well, SOMEONE'S blogging about food out there...

It can be done.

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Monday, September 04, 2006


“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church & in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and forever.”

Eph. 3:20-21.

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

girlfriday: my best advice

(Perhaps it is not my best. If it were, it may not be worth listening to. But it is my best worldly advice.)

If you lack an air of confidence, fake it.

If you're scared to death, suppress it. Shake hands and smile, keep your back straight, pretend that your haircut is good and your toenails are painted.

If you don't know, choose: I will guess with flair, or I will keep silent. If you're wrong, you apologize with a laugh. If you're right, no one knows you guessed.

Do all of this with courtesy. And a smile. A great pair of shoes helps.

Self confidence is a lovely thing, a useful thing, though it is no great virtue. You don't have to be a confident person. But when when you need confidence (you will) and cannot summon it, pretend that you have. We promise not to know the difference.


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