Friday, July 22, 2011

Stuff of Note

Do you know Caspar Babypants? You should. Chris Ballew, singer and guitarist for that other band known as The President of the United States of America, heads off in a different direction and starts recording/performing children's music. Talk about a 180-degree turn.

But it works. It's got so much going for it. It's children's music that I, as an adult, still enjoy. Almost as much as my 6-year old loves it. It's the opposite of that Disneyfied, overproduced gunk that sells so much. No slick vocals, no overdubbed, auto-tuned harmonies, to attempts at sounding cool. Just fun, intelligent music. Lots of ukeleles, hooters, saws, and guitars. It's also the opposite of the Barney genre, where everything seems dumbed down and goofy. This is smart music. It catches you off guard. It actually surprises from time to time.

It's mostly original stuff, but there are covers along the way (3 Blind Mice, Frere Jacques). There are lots of songs about bugs and creepy things. And enough catchy little hooks to keep you (and your kids) singing along.

This is currently Clara's favorite:


Just got my copy of the 2nd edition of Mark Baker and Joel Green's Recovering the Scandal of the Cross. Mark was one of my profs in seminary, and this book was important in helping me understand the dynamics of the ongoing conversation on the Atonement. It ought to be popular among us Covenanters, because it fits well with P.P. Waldenstrom's challenge to the same thing so many years ago. Look for a review sometime soon.


I just read where they've closed the Camp 6 Logging Museum at Pt. Defiance Park. One more victim of a bad economy and changing entertainment choices. As a kid I loved going over there and riding the train through the woods. A couple years ago I took our two daughters over and we rode it again, albeit with the diesel engine this time around. But apparently they don't have enough money to keep it running, and fewer and fewer people are coming out to visit. (Insert snarky comment about how people would rather play video games than get out and experience history.) They're looking for a buyer, if anybody's interested in a 1:1 scale model railroad.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dan's Eye, Installment XVII

Just because some of you keep asking. . .

I went to the eye doc today. It was becoming apparent that the latest and greatest (and last and best hope) contact lens wasn't working. Vision-wise not so bad, but fit-wise, it kept migrating inward and downward, and thus was uncomfortable to wear. Eye doc took one look through the magnifying lens and agreed. So out goes this lens.

Which pretty much shattered any hope of working with a hard (RGP) lens, which would give the sharpest vision in this eye. So just for the fun of it, we're going to try a soft lens - a specialty, back-toric soft lens - once, and see if that works. If it does, I'll have decent (but not great) vision. If it doesn't, then we're going to have to look at glasses from here on out.

In the meantime, I'm back to being one-eyed for the next three weeks (just in time for a trip to Chicago and a camping trip - yeah!), and then we'll give the soft lens a shot.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

This is summer?

Went to a wedding yesterday. The post-wedding celebration was marked by an impressive thunder shower, with rainfall levels just a little below Noahic proportions, I do believe. Although the sun peeked out for a bit, most of the afternoon was cold and rainy.

Drove home from Seattle this morning, through rainshowers the whole way. Karina turned the furnace on when we got home, the house was so cold.

Played with the Down Home Band at the Longbranch Croquet tourney this afternoon. We had to play under a portable tent cover, since it was drizzling the whole time. And these aren't your Miami-esque, soft and warm afternoon showers that give way to beautiful sunny evenings. These are more like March rain showers. Cold and miserable.

I'm thinking it's time to sacrifice a goat to the weather gods. We must have done something to tick them off. Anybody want to join me?

Monday, July 11, 2011

The summer of growing up

I had some free time in Tacoma a few weeks ago and wandered into a Big Lots!. I don't tend to spend much time in Big Lots!; I'm not sure I've been in one since we left Turlock. But I found myself in the back corner, back where they sell the cheap plastic toys made in China and shipped over here to fill our closets. And I had a flashback to visiting Big Lots! back in the day, when we'd wander in there with Olivia in a stroller, and we could spend $.95 and it made her happy for a couple days. Back when we'd push the shopping cart back there and her eyes would light up at the splendor of plastic cars and dolls and dogs and buckets and such. Back when we could buy one of those cheap plastic things and give it to her in the car, and all would be well.

The good old days.

While in Colorado, Olivia officially became eligible to join in for the Middle School activities. Even Clara is mostly past the stage of being fascinated by cheap plastic trinkets. The back corner of Big Lots! has lost its hold on our kids as they move into more complicated things, like puzzles and tree houses and books and lighting fires in the back yard.

The kids are growing up and the wonders of toddler-hood have been left behind. And that just makes me a little bit sad.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Book Review: The Way of Simplicity

This was one of those books I picked up at the "Borders is Going out of Business Sale" a few months ago. I've been refocusing my reading lately, digging into books on prayer, simplicity, and heart-work. And this was a nice counterpoint to so many books on the latest fads in Christian ministry.

Going back a millennium, the Cistercians are the Catholic order that gave us both Bernard of Clairvaux and Thomas Merton. With a focus on living out the Rule of St. Benedict, focusing on communal living and simple faith, the Cistercians offer a deep, rich faith that speaks well to our fast-paced, disposable society.

In The Way of Simplicity, Esther De Waal mines the writings of the Cistercians to reveal the heartbeat of their order. These are a people grounded in a place (she spends an entire chapter speaking to Cistercian architecture), motivated with the simple desire of living as Christ, informed by the Word, seeking to love God and love neighbor in all they do. De Waal explains the prayer and study habits of these monks (and nuns); she shares their writings both to support her work, and as poetic prayer guides (a la lectio) in an addendum at the back.

The Cistercians teach us that the Christian life is not easy, but neither is it drudgery. We live in a tension of Mary (attentive to Christ) and Martha (attentive to the other). We are called to love, but only because we are first called forth by the great Love. We are called to live in a community of faith, even while we are all responsible to walk our own journey with Christ. Mostly, we are called to lay aside our own striving, our own desires for comfort and success on our terms, and allow Christ to mold us and shape us as he desires - a process that is never easy but is rich with reward.

The Way of Simplicity is but a mere introduction to a much richer, deeper tradition, and the book gives only a taste of those who have lived out its path. But it was certainly thought-provoking and challenging, as the men and women on its pages become a witness to 'forsaking all else' for the sake of Christ and his people.