Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On Publishing

Recently I've noticed a disturbing tendency around our house.

It's the newspaper -- the print version, the one the paper-person delivers to our house every morning, sometimes in the yard, sometimes in the flower bed, sometimes, even, neatly wrapped and placed symmetrically on the doorstep.

We bring it into the house, undo it from the rubber band or plastic wrapper, and bring it into the living room with our morning coffee. We put it on the coffee table, settle in, and open our computers.

We're a household of nerds. My husband has a tablet, while I still have a laptop. Sometimes we trade off, but it doesn't really matter, because we are both reading the news, but we are reading it online, even while the printed newspaper sits right there on the coffee table.

After a few minutes, one of us goes offline and picks up the paper, peruses it, finishes the coffee in our cup. Sometimes we even read an item or two out loud. Then we put the paper down, and go back online.


It occurred to me that our daily newspaper is much smaller than it used to be -- smaller in a physical sense, as the actual pages themselves seem to have shrunk, and smaller in the number of pages and sections. Smaller, too, in what is covered, in the scope of what newsprints brings into our range of awareness.

There used to be whole sections devoted to "Home and Garden," where we could read about what's new in housekeeping, in yard care, in home maintenance, in decorating trends. There were whole sections devoted to food and shopping, and frequent articles about child care and family life. Some were locally written, others by regional or national columnists with impressive credentials.

We could find pieces about local houses of architectural or historical interest. We could see photographs of local gardens, read about people who knew how to do things like upholstery, or wallpapering, or laying tile.

There used to be sections about "Business" that covered local business news as well as national and international business stories, and didn't just replay stories we saw online yesterday. There were travel features, in-depth analyses of world news, and a selection of opinion pieces that offered differing viewpoints about current events.

There were local interest stories that didn't fit into any specific categories, but that informed us of what friends and neighbors were doing. 

I miss those things. Their absence is what keeps me from spending much time with newsprint these days -- our local paper tries to keep those kinds of stories alive, but staff and budget cuts make it more and more difficult for them to offer them. And diminishing subscriptions in turn make it more difficult to maintain staff and budgets that allow for creativity and  excellence.

What would draw me back to newsprint? Or is it becoming obsolete as we all move to different sources of information and entertainment?

What would draw you?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Building a House, Making a Home

What does it take to build a house? What does it take to make a home?

The five-year old discovered Lincoln Logs in the playroom, and immediately set about building a house. We tried different techniques, laughed a little, almost cried when the golden lab knocked down our best-to-date effort. In the end, though, the standard building techniques worked best.

Eventually, we figured out how to craft a cozy little log-cottage -- roof still to come.

Making a home is a little bit like building a house: it takes a lot of trying different things, but tried-and-true techniques work best. There is sure to be laughter, as well as tears. And in the end, a home becomes a shelter as surely as a house does.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Job for More Than One Person . . .

What could be better than a good helper?

Raking leaves is a lot of work; it's a job for more than one person, if you can get someone else to help. There's the actual raking, and then moving the leaves to the curb or the compost pile, and of course, the jumping-in-and-reraking.

It's a good job for a grandpa and a grandson to share, with cookies and milk afterward, of course.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Lovely Stay . . .

     We had a delightful stay at The Mission Oak Inn, near Henry, Illinois this past week. The Inn is set in the middle of farm country, but nestled into an area where field and timber meet.
     The property includes a lake, complete with boats and fishing, as well as hiking trails, quiet docks and secluded places to sit and watch the day go by. A variety of birds visit -- everything from hawks to hummingbirds, and you can watch from The Bird Lovers Suite, or the dining room, or from a number of pretty places outside.
      Speaking of the dining room -- you won't go hungry! The breakfasts are inventive and delicious; dinners are available for a small extra fee, and well worth it. The Inn itself shows off the handiwork of owners Denny and Jan Reed; Denny is a craftsman who built much of the cabinetry and furniture himself, and it's lovely.
     Guests' comfort and wishes are anticipated -- everything from comfortable robes and blankets to fireplaces and whirlpool tubs in each guest room to cookies in the afternoon to go along with the cocoa, tea, and coffee thoughtfully provided. There are DVDs available, as well as a CD player and Dish TV. And if that isn't enough, there are antique shops, museums, and other attractions within a 30-minute drive.
     If you're looking for a nearby get-away, this is one we'd recommend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Under Construction

You can't get here from there, right now.

The bridge by our house is gone, and in its place is rubble, rebar, and debris.

We're getting a crash course in construction, and aside from the house shaking occasionally, it's been kind of fun to watch.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Grace and Hope

Tulips are done blooming here, now; and so are the forsythia and lilacs. In their place, Bells of Canterbury bloom, and sweet woodruff. Walking in the backyard is a fragrant adventure.

The tulips are done, but we took pictures. We wanted a record of where tulips were blooming, and where daffodils migrated to, so that next fall we might re-plant bulbs and fill in the spaces that have gone empty.

It’s an optimistic venture, one that assumes by the time we’ve enjoyed a summer full of picnics and lawn-mowing and gardening, we will still be in the mood to plant bulbs for next year, bulbs that will disappear into the dirt, under the snow, into the cold of January, with the hope that they will push up through the mud in March or April with color and cheer.

Sometimes by the time autumn arrives, we are so busy or tired or indifferent that we skip planting bulbs. We always regret it. Optimism seems fool-hardy, sometimes, but in the biting cold and deep snows of January, the optimism of bulb-planting is nothing less than grace and hope.

We have pictures.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's Your Passion?

What is your passion?

I’ve been thinking about that question for a long time, but Mary DeMuth’s guest post on Michael Hyatt’s blog this morning makes me think I need to come up with some answers.

Mary’s observations about why people hesitate to identify their passion resonate with me. At one time or another, one or all of them seem to have been true in my life. Fear and insecurity are powerful de-motivators, and they aren’t a good way to live.

So I’m setting them aside, and gathering up courage. If Mary’s prescription to Find Your Passion in Three Steps works, I’ll have my answer soon.

Will you help me? One of Mary’s suggestions is to ask your friends “What is my one thing?” Her idea is that our friends are “entirely insightful” about the things we are passionate about. What do you think my “one thing” is?

Another of Mary’s questions is about your three favorite movies, and the common thread among them. So here’s my question for you: what are your three favorite movies, and what’s the common thread among them?

What’s your passion?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

After Easter . . .

Easter Sunday is over, but the joy of it lightens up these drippy spring days.

It’s easy to look out the window, sigh, and wish for sunshine. It’s not so easy to remember that change takes time, and this year, spring is certainly taking its time getting here.

Yet, every morning, there is some new sign that spring is on the way. This morning, we had a bit of sunshine and blue sky – fleeting, to be sure, but bright and lovely, for just a few moments – enough to brighten the whole day, a promise of what is to come.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday, 2011

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

 Bernard of Clairvaux

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lenten Reflection, April 21, 2011

Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name.

Once we’ve been forgiven and renewed, we have choices to make. The question becomes “Where now, Lord?”

Asking God to lead us is an implicit acknowledgment of His Lordship over us. We are asking Him to show us His way, to lead us into the green pastures the Psalmist spoke of. We are also signing on to follow into the less pleasant places through which He might lead us.

By asking Him to lead us, we are signaling our willingness to follow Him, even if we don’t understand where we’re going, even if it’s taking a long time, even if we don’t particularly enjoy the journey.

We will follow wherever He leads us.

The end result of this is that we learn to delight in His will; we learn to walk in His ways, and He is glorified. That kind of delight is not dependent on our circumstances; it is dependent on our relationship with the One who leads us.

God forgives us; we can trust Him.

God renews us; we can rely on Him.

God leads us, and we can delight in Him.

Thanks be to God!