Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Three Word Thursday. To play, get the three words from Quilly, figure out what they mean (or not!), and put them into a story. Sounds easy? Wait until you see the words!
This week's words:
niddering (n) - a cowardly person; a wretch (I have to say, Quilly, that this one is awkward to use as a noun -- but that's what the dictionary says! Ick! Thanks for the challenge!)
amanuensis (n) - one who is employed to take dictation or to copy manuscript.
tyro (n) - someone new to a field or activity
“This isn’t going to be easy,” thought Alice, as she contemplated the disaster in front of her. Having always grudgingly admired those stories where a woman showed up at a bachelor home and transformed it into sparkling cleanliness, she was not sure now that she could be one of those women. Still, it was Brian’s place and the last thing she wanted her younger brother to think of her was that she was a niddering. Right now he needed her to be the brave one. Squaring her shoulders she asked, “Brian, where are your cleaning things?”
Brian looked up at her from the sofa on which he was sprawled. His eyes were bloodshot, his hair splayed out in all directions. He looked like the mess surrounding him was a camouflage pattern with which he blended effortlessly. “I don’t know,” he confessed. “Marina always did the cleaning.”
Alice’s countenance softened. Poor guy, the love of his life had been dying for as long as he’d known her, yet he’d stayed with her to the very end, obviously at the expense of everything else in his life. “When’s the last time you were here at the apartment?” Alice queried.
“I don’t know…after the funeral I sort of lost track of things for a while,” he answered. Alice considered her options. Should she be the stern sister or the cajoling one? “Bah!” she thought, “enough coddling. This place is out of control!"
"Alright,” Alice spoke aloud. “You are going to learn to take care of your home and I’m going to teach you. You may be a tyro in the area of cleaning, but you’re also a fast learner.”
Brian groaned, “can’t I just watch you and take notes of what you say and do?”
“No. You are not going to be my amanuensis!” Alice declared. “You are going to learn to do for yourself. It is time.”
Brian groaned again, “can you at least speak English with me?”
Alice responded, “it is a perfectly good word and if we can ever find a dictionary or a laptop in all this mess, I’ll prove it to you. Now take this old shirt and we’ll use it as a cleaning cloth.”
“Are you crazy?” Brian leaped up from the sofa and grabbed the shirt from her hand. “That’s my championship Bulls jersey! I was there the night…” he trailed off when he saw the triumphant look on her face.
“Okay, now that I know you CAN move if sufficiently motivated, let’s get started. Find me a garbage bag. Now!”
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
It is pouring rain today and promises to do so all day...so I visited my photo archives to see if I could find something worth looking at. These were all taken last Wednesday at Margaret's Garden in Herndon, Virginia. This endangered piece of heaven beckoned me last week to come discover all the shades of red I could see.
It is my hope that through my blog-friends at Ruby Tuesday, Margaret's Garden will receive a reprieve and if not, at least you will all have been blessed by photos of her lovely home.
Thank you to Work of the Poet for the Ruby Tuesday photo meme.
Monday, May 25, 2009
How about one that says,
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
M’Bote began each day with a search for meaning. Before the sun rose above the horizon, in the false-light of early dawn, she climbed this small rise of land so that she could look around the landscape and consider her day. Just as there was a monotony to the landscape, there was a sameness to her day. The sameness was wearying, yet in a curious way, comforting. To know what was coming was to be able to go through the motions without concentration. This freed her to engage in endless mental divagations as she searched for a way to make her future different than it was appearing it would be. So far, she had not been able to see a different path.
As the dawn began to break, she murmured a little prayer that the missionaries had taught her in grade school, reflecting on a God who loved everyone. “Even the men who take the boys to fight?” a girl had asked. “Even them,” the white missionary woman had answered. M’Bote remembered that young woman. Her hair was the color of spun straw and her eyes the color of sky. “Kim-ba-lee,” she had told them to call her. M’Bote mouthed those syllables, foreign to her pattern of speech. Kim-ba-lee had taught M’Bote about caring for people, their illnesses and their broken hearts. M’Bote had loved studying how the different medicines helped people’s coughs, and itches and even more serious diseases. But when the soldiers took her father, all of that had ended. She wondered where the missionary was now. She wondered whether the missionary wondered what had happened to M’Bote. “Does she miss me?” M’Bote asked herself.
The bleating of the she-goat wanting to be milked broke her reverie. She turned to go back to the kraal, winding her way through the senticous plants that covered the terrain. It wouldn’t do to be caught by one on her bare skin. The missionaries and their medicines were many kilometers away, and any wound could become very bad, very fast. M’Bote had seen too many deaths already in her fifteen years of life.
As she approached the goat, M’Bote heard her mother call, “leave the goat! Your brother will take care of it. You must come to be washed so you will be ready.”
“Ready for what?” M’Bote asked.
“For your husband to come,” her mother replied.
“I do not want a husband,” M’Bote responded.
“You are foolish. You need a husband. If you do not have one you will have no one to take care of you and you will die alone. Now come get ready,” came the answer from M’Bote’s mother.
After the goat was milked and the morning milk drunk, there was a call from the space outside their hut. “I see you,” called a male voice. M’Bote’s mother answered, “we see you also. Please come.” M’Bote hung back as a tall man entered the hut. He was not too old. He had only the wrinkles of working in the sun, but not of age. He spoke with M’Bote’s mother and as he smiled showed strong teeth. Her mother called her over. “This worthless girl is M’Bote. I have told you about her.” M’Bote looked at the floor. The man said, “oh no, this is not a worthless girl. She is worth very much! She is costing me two goats and three chickens!” his laughter boomed out. M’Bote was astonished. That was an unheard of price for a girl from a poor family whose father had disappeared with the soldiers earlier in the year. She risked a glance up at the man. He was smiling and looking straight into her eyes! She looked down again, confused. “Get your things,” her mother said.
As M’Bote walked away from the hut with the man, her younger brother looked at her from behind the goat. He raised his fingers in a small wave. So many had already left this boy. He no longer questioned that this was the way of his world.
M’Bote and the man walked until the sun was straight overhead. Neither spoke. When they got to a place where there was a tree, the man sat down under it. “We will rest here until the sun is lower,” he said. She sat, saying nothing. “Do you speak?” the man asked. “Yes,” she responded. “ Tell me something about you,” he said. “What do you want to know?” she said. “Tell me something that you are curious about.” M’Bote thought for a few minutes. No one had ever asked her a question like that. “I wonder . . .” she trailed off. “Yes?” he demanded. “I wonder whether the missionary Kim-ba-lee ever thinks of me,” M’Bote finished in a quiet voice.
The man’s laughter caught M’Bote by surprise. It rang out with an infectious joy. M’Bote began laughing with him, unsure of why she did so. When he calmed down he said, “young girl, that missionary is why I have just paid two goats and three chickens for you!” “I don’t understand,” the girl responded. “Miss Kimberly remembers you. She remembers that you have a very good mind. She remembers that you have very clever hands. She remembers that you have no father to care for your family. She remembers that you want to be a nurse.” The man paused for a breath. “Miss Kimberly wants you to come to live in Nairobi and study to be a nurse.” M’Bote was confused. “You are not buying me for a wife?” she asked, suddenly ashamed that she was not what he wanted after all. “No child, my wife would not want me to buy another wife. She is a Christian and I am a Christian and we have only one wife for each husband,” he said. “I am taking you to Miss Kimberly. Would you like to go there and help work in her clinic?” M’Bote’s heart began dancing. The man saw it reflected in her eyes and laughed again. “But my mother believes I am going to get a husband!” the girl suddenly remembered. The man looked a little bit troubled, “we let her believe what she wants to believe. I told her that you would be taken care of, and that was enough for her to let you go. Come now, we must resume our journey.”
The next few days were a wonderful homecoming for M’Bote at the mission clinic in Nairobi. Miss Kimberly immediately put her in charge of assessing the young children who came for health care. Some were very sick. One morning M’Bote saw a baby who had died, but whose young mother would not or could not let him go. With compassion, M’Bote went to sit with the young woman. “May I see your beautiful child?” M’Bote asked. Wordlessly, the young girl pulled back the scarf that covered the baby’s face. Even in death the baby was exquisitely formed, a miracle. M’Bote held out her arms, and the young girl fell into them, sobbing. “Sh-h-h-,” soothed M’Bote as she rocked the girl back and forth. After a few minutes, the young mother allowed Miss Kimberly to come and take the baby away to prepare him for burial.
Later that afternoon, Miss Kimberly sat with M’Bote to take a little break. M’Bote noticed that Miss Kimberly’s hair was not so blonde as before, and her eyes were not so merry. “This is hard work, M’Bote,” Miss Kimberly confessed. “I feel so powerless. I want to help all of them, but there are so many. And there are so few that I have the medicine to really help. Even those who have serious illnesses. I can give only cough drops for tuberculosis. I am limited to broth for people suffering from HIV-AIDS. I can give only a rubifacient for deep muscle injuries. “Yes”, M’Bote agreed, “but the people love the medicine that makes their skin red, and they think they feel better!” Miss Kimberly flashed a tired smile.
“But why…” M’Bote began, but stopped. “Go on,” Miss Kimberly encouraged her. “Then why, Miss Kimberly, do you come to Africa to help us?” Miss Kimberly began to speak again of this God who loves everyone, rich or poor, African or not. M’Bote listened carefully, waiting to hear the exceptions, the things that would apply to her and exclude her from this big love. When Miss Kimberly paused she asked, “do you understand, M’Bote?” “I understand your words, Miss Kimberly, but I do not understand a love this big,” M’Bote responded. “This is such a big love, I cannot understand how many goats and cattle it takes to equal this love.” Miss Kimberly smiled, “that is just the thing, M’Bote. There were never enough goats or cattle that could do it. Only God’s son’s death was enough to satisfy it.” M’Bote marveled at such a love.
Soon it was time to begin the evening clinic. M’Bote handed out colored slips of paper to the mothers that indicated in which order their children would be seen. As she worked her mind started its peregrinations again. She reflected on a worthless girl from a poor family being worth 2 goats and 3 chickens. If this was part of the big love, it was very big indeed. Suddenly, M’Bote stopped what she was doing and asked another girl to stand in for her. She went outside the clinic compound and walked among the people waiting for the evening clinic, searching for a particular face. Finally, in a dark corner, she found the young mother whose arms were empty, whose breasts ached with milk that her baby would never drink again. M’Bote sat down with her, and began to tell the young woman about such a big love.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Invigilate -- what a great word! Used by the 'test proctoring' community, it is what I will be doing today at South Lakes High School for the International Baccalaureate program exams. It is the same thing teachers have always done -- monitoring students to make sure they're complying with the rules of fairness. It is a LOT harder these days for teachers though. With electronic devices getting smaller and smaller, and students being more and more creative, I wonder whether eventually testing rooms will have to have electronics jamming devices to be switched on during exams. Of course, that just escalates innovation and IB students tend to be a very smart bunch!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Don't you just love finding something new to marvel to your friends about? I do, and I probably drive them crazy with my enthusiasm for the "most lately discovered" thing on my list!
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
This one is cool!
- prayers proclaiming God's anger against sinners; read in the Church of England on Ash Wednesday
- a threat of divine punishment or vengeance
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I'm reading a book set in Venice. Writing about the city at night, the author says, "A boat, that during the day, was making a delivery of soap powder or cabbages, at night became a numinous form, floating toward some mysterious destination." Now I have to figure out a way to get it into normal conversation today. Stay tuned.