Friday, November 4, 2011

Naming Cars

I decided to share this writing from 2008.  I saw where car sales were up and decided this would be fun to share. 

I got a call yesterday from my cousin.  She had just gotten a new car and wanted my help in naming it.  She called me back today with the new name, she told me that her husband had thought she was crazy naming the car.  That got me thinking, usually when I get a new car; I name it.  I remember my friends always commenting on how strange it was that my family named its’ vehicles.  My mother does, my brother does, I do, my cousin does…etc.  Somehow giving a name to your car personalizes it, makes it yours, and gives it life and meaning.  We have all met people who love their car, but don’t name it.  Call me crazy, but I talk to my car and like to be able to call it by name especially when I have to pass someone or I’m driving in bad weather.  I pat my car in loving praise or slap the dash when it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. 

I got thinking about what makes a good name for a car.  It can’t be too long, a couple of syllables only.  If the name is a couple of words long, you want to make certain that it has a cute nickname.  Let me give you some examples of what I mean.  Two of my cars have been named “flash.”  The first was “the green flash,” the second is simply “flash.”  I had a Subaru that my cousin named “Ruby” because I got it the weekend of our Aunt & Uncle’s 40th (ruby) wedding anniversary.  What made the name really cute was it could be called “Ruby Subie.”  Her latest car she named “Scout” because it is the same color as her scoutmaster’s shirt.  My mom’s car is named “Hallie” because she bought it on Halloween, and my brother’s van is named “Goldie” because it is big, gold colored, and well appointed.  My best friend’s first car was called “Penny.”  She used this name for two reasons, the first was the car was copper in color like a copper penny and secondly the first car she ever drove had the name “Penelope Pig,” “Penny” or “the pig” for short.  It was a huge 60 something, Chevy Biscayne.  I could go on & on with the names such as “Truck, truck,” “Red Wing” or “Giddy-up-Go,” but the point I want to make is that the name needs to flow off you tongue with ease and should have some meaning behind it. 

It may take time even years before a car names itself; for example, I had another Subaru that after a few years of calling it “the Subaru” needed some bodywork to pass inspection.  At about the same time the valve gasket started to leak, so the car got named…”Tin man” after the character in the Wizard of Oz because it had tin and rivets on the fenders and often asked “oil can, oil can.”  My best friend had a Hyundai that she had owned for years.  As she recalls I was upset that she had owned it for a long while without naming it, but once when we were traveling the car started to have problems with the fuel pump and died on route 95.  At that same time our friend in PA had shared with us a limerick he had made up about “there once was a lady named Ida, who liked to drink apple cid-ah…I won’t continue because it gets gross from there, but suffice it to say that when my friend’s car had a gas problem, she got named Ida.  And lastly, my father had an AMC Gremlin that he drove many years without a name.  When my best friend and I drove it (it was quite old by that time) we commented on how it rattled, had no get-up and go and you had to down shift and pump the brakes to stop.  We felt like we had to put our feet through the floorboards to get going and to stop and the shape reminded us of the Flintstone’s car, so we dubbed it “the Boulder Buggy.” 

Many times I hear people refer to their vehicles in the female vernacular, “what’s wrong with your car?  Oh, her heater’s not working right.”  “I like your truck.  Yeah, she’s a beauty.”  I had a teenager ask me why I always called inanimate objects “her” or “she?”  The only answer I had for him was that I was taught that way.  But I bring this up because of something I had been told by a friend of mine regarding how to name vehicles.  For the sensitive who may read this, you might want to stop here.  If a car is an automatic, gearshift on the steering column it’s a girl.  If a vehicle is a standard, stick shift it is a boy.  If you wonder why I told the sensitive to stop before, you may want to go back to biology class.  I have to say that most of today’s vehicles do not have gearshifts on the steering column (I’m dating myself,) so the theory of on the column, off the column doesn’t work.  Also the same friend who told me this had a standard, stick shift on the floor, 4x4 truck named “Lola.”  We laughed about how the truck must be confused.  And you remember “Tin man,” he was an automatic and “Ruby” was a standard, stick shift.  Oh well, so much for that…I just think it is a fun thing to consider when picking a name.

One last bit of thought of naming cars & trucks, not every vehicle has a name or gets a name.  As sad as that may sound, some vehicles are just modes of transportation, a way to get from here to there, pieces of moving metal on the highway of life.  Not all my cars have had names, they’ve been known by their make, model or vehicle distinction (i.e.: “it’s out in the Honda” or “ let’s take the Focus” or how about “ I left it in the truck.”)  This is kind of impersonal, but let’s face it, some inanimate objects are just that- inanimate objects.  When I was talking about this with my friend I made the statement that the cars that got names are the ones that “talked” to me or “told me” to name them.  No, I’m not hallucinating or taking drugs, I’m talking about that moment in time when the inanimate takes on a personality and you just know inside this piece of metal is a living, breathing piece of machinery asking to be recognized and named.  Names are associated with memories and some vehicles, sad to say are not memorable.  You just “bought the car cause you had to,” there’s no special occasion to associate with the purchase, after years of driving it no special memories are attached, it simply did not speak to you.  For some of you, you’re thinking how strange I am, but for those who enjoy driving and understand what it means to have a vehicle speak to you, this is not odd, I know I am not alone.

Well I’ve mused enough for now.  Just remember when you name your vehicle make it short, make it personal and don’t worry whether it is a boy or girl…you’ll know by how stubborn it is.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Change of Season

Sometime this past summer I made a vow that I was going to enjoy each season as it was.  I was going to try to not complain about the heat of summer or the cold of winter, and would attempt to refrain from lamenting about fall being the harbinger of winter.  Come to think of it, the only season I didn’t really complain about was spring, for it was getting warmer, the days were noticeably longer and all was fresh and new.  So here I sit writing my thoughts regarding the end of summer in Maine and the onset of autumn.

My mother commented the other day how the hummingbirds had left even though the weather was still quite balmy.  She figured that it had to do something with the change of the light and length of day.  I would tend to agree with this as my drive to and from work is a bit more challenging due to the position of the sun, a tell tale sign of seasonal change. 

Whether it was the change in the angle of the sun or something else, this week in particular heralded change for me.  I began to long for the comfort of a pair of jeans and the warmth of a hoodie.  I made heartier food, although I will confess the cravings started 2-3 weeks ago when I went in search of winter squash and potatoes.  This week however I sought the comfort of soup and whole grains.  I made coffee this evening, preferring something warm to drink to the icy, sweating glass of Kool-Aid that had been drink du jour for the past two months.  When I crawled into bed last night the warmth and weight of my comforter wrapped up to my chin coupled with a chill on the tip of my nose made me smile.  I had come to love autumn!  I won’t lie; I continue to be concerned with having to drive in the snow and oil bills.  I still do not like being cold and suffering with cold feet all day today was distracting, but these past few weeks did not fill me with dread as they had in previous years.  Rather, when the cold front moved through the other day, I was filled with anticipation like a child is filled with anticipation just before Christmas, I was going to be able to wear heavier clothes, eat warmer food and curl up under a blanket with a good book.  The past week has had pumpkins, apples and Vermont cheese dancing in my head.  I am longing for colored leaves and crisp morning air. 

As autumn arrives I am thankful to be a New Englander.  I hope to savor each unique moment of the season: the harvest, the warmth of blankets and heavier clothing.  The beautiful sunrises and sunsets I will witness since the sun rises later and sets earlier.  The sense of awe I will have watching the leaves don their final beauty for the year, as the earth prepares for its winter rest and the trees, having shed their leafy mantle, stretch their bare limbs to the sky waiting to receive the first snowflakes.  I wish for everyone that in the midst of our daily lives we do not crave something other than what we have, failing to take time to appreciate each day for what it is, for it is “the present.”

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rebuilding Walls

I had a few experiences this week that has caused me to pause and think about Nehemiah, the re-builder of walls.  As some may recall just over a year ago the company I worked for closed suddenly.  As I searched for God’s will as to where I should do for work, God provided three biblical examples to guide me.  The first being Daniel (praying for favor in the eyes of the new King); the last being Jonah (go to the Ninevites or to the belly of the whale.)  The story behind those two names is something for a later date or you can email me to find out the rest.  The third name given to me was Nehemiah; re-builder of walls and here in lays the rest of the blog.

Had you asked me fourteen months ago what the name Nehemiah meant to me I would have replied, “I believe God wants me to be a restorer of broken walls.”  This was the attitude I entered my new employment with, I was there not only for paid employment but to re-build broken walls.  This is not written in a boastful manner, I don’t consider myself to be any “great” Christian rather it was the attitude of a servant that simply sought to do what God wanted me to do in the place HE had chosen for me.  I’ll not lie and say that for the first few months I questioned whether this was my final destination or simply a bridge to something else.  But when nothing else came it became apparent that at least for the foreseeable future, this was where I was to be.  As time went on I became acquainted with my coworkers and saw there was a place and a work for me there.  There were individuals who became important to me and relationships that were being built.  I found happiness in where I was; a place, I am jokingly reminded by others; I did not want to be, fast forward to the present.

Recently, as I was driving home from work the thought came to me…God has used my job and my coworkers to restore some of my walls.  Those who were the Ninevites to me had become Nehemiah.  The place that appeared so desolate and bleak had become a place of restoration.  Although I was hesitant and reluctant, God placed “Nehemiah’s” in my path to rebuild and restore what others had broken and burnt. 

As always I have to ask, what further can I learn from this, how can I apply this in other areas of my life?  First, there are times and places we chose not to be, but in obedience (or desperation) we go.  It is in those places that God can meet us.  Secondly, those who we think we are sent to minister to, often end up ministering to our un-recognized need.  I was of the belief that I was to go and be an encouragement to others, yet in just over 24 hours I recognized others being an encouragement to me.

What were the experiences, you ask??????  Those are not important for they were simply everyday occurrences that will mean nothing to anyone else.  The people who were involved will remain nameless for they were simply acting as they always do.  That is the beauty of being a Nehemiah; you don’t know when you are one.  Our words and actions are stones and we live life one stone at a time.  We can either cast them at others or we can place them row upon row restoring what was once a wasteland into a beautiful city.  Oh, may my life be one of construction and not destruction.  God, bless those who are Nehemiah’s to me by simply being who they are.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Two things I don't understand

Just this week I attended the funeral of a friend, one who died at a young age leaving her husband and three children.  Now you might think that this is one of the things I don’t understand, but I do.  What I understand is that GOD appoints a time for each of us, we are part of HIS master plan and though we might not understand why GOD does or allows certain things into our life, I understand that GOD is over all.  Whenever a believer dies (this person was a believer) I am reminded of the scriptures we are given concerning what awaits those who “fall asleep” and those scriptures concerning those who will be alive at Christ’s return.  Of being “absent from the body is present with the LORD.”  Of the corruptible putting on incorruption and being transformed.  This brings me to what I don’t understand.

How can a person walk through this life without hope of a life beyond?  How can someone find hope in simply living and then simply not living?  As odd as this may sound, I am encouraged in the midst of sorrow at the death of a believer in Christ.  Psalm 116 tells us that the death of a saint is precious in the sight of the LORD, meaning that GOD values our lives, takes notice of our deaths and Jesus tells us in the Gospel of John that he goes to prepare a place for us.  I find that at funerals that I sorrow not so much for my loss, but for those who have yet to find the hope of eternity.

Please don’t take me wrong; I am not being disrespectful of other beliefs.  I appreciate the fact that others seek GOD through a variety of channels and am (in politically correct terms) tolerant of other beliefs and faiths.  What I am saying is that I have a problem understanding how when offered a future prospect such as Jesus gives, it can be turned down?  I have come to appreciate some of the finer points of other faiths, such as the discipline that often accompanies a person’s faith that can be so absent from mine. But, I still struggle with only having hope in myself or thinking that this is all there is and when I die I return to the dust from whence I came.

This kind of brings me to the next thing I don’t understand.  What do people do when they have no one to turn to beyond humans?  I have been to points of despair varying times in my life and the only thing that has kept me from total despair was my faith in Christ.  Once again the scripture of “…those who have no hope” comes to mind.  What do people do without the hope of GOD loving, caring, supporting, encouraging and intervening when all earthly hope is gone?

As is obvious from this writing, I am un-apologetically Christian in my beliefs.  Scripture and experiences have shaped my worldview.  We have all been shaped by experiences in our lives; some experiences have left us without hope and adrift while others of us may have been left hardened toward the GOD of the Bible, having been given a picture of a judgmental tyrant through the actions and words of others.  Maybe I do understand how people can walk around without the hope I have, but it still weighs on me.

Life can be so discouraging, especially in these days of economic woe, famine and sickness.  It seems like every morning I hear of another situation of despair.  I’m certain that down through the ages each generation had moments of despair.  In just the last century there were many wars, depressions, natural disasters and maniacal people.  Horrendous incidents of death and destruction, During which people thought that surely Jesus would be returning or the end of the world was at hand.  I am someone who looks at world situations and wonders if we are indeed hurdling toward “the end times” but does not get caught up in “hype.”  I instead look at situations in the world and am grateful that I have a hope beyond my sight.

I guess I better understand the scripture that talks about men’s hearts failing them during the last days.  Without hope of a better life beyond, without hope of a loving, heavenly father who will not forsake his children, without the hope of things ultimately getting better, I too would ask that the mountains fall on me.  Maybe I understand more than I think I do and in that understanding compelled to pray for those who are hardened, set adrift; who do not have a blessed hope to cling to.

As always, this is my opinion and along with $2.50 might get you a coffee.  But more importantly, if you don’t have this hope please spend some time contemplating my words.  Talk is cheap, sin is costly but the gift of eternal life is free through Jesus.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Combating the Drive-thru mentality

I have come to understand why people will see the glass half empty versus half full.  I also firmly believe that technology is wonderful, when it works.  Beyond that it is frustrating at best, infuriating usually. At one time, many years ago I owned a coffee mug that showed a duck with a sledgehammer poised to strike a computer.  The saying under the picture was “strike any key.”  I admit I have often felt that way as the years have passed and technology invaded my simple world.  I have tried for a long time to look at the positive side of things.  Being radically thankful, but it is very difficult to maintain a positive attitude at all times.  I have come to think that there is something to be said for looking at life expecting the worse, hoping for the best.  If I expect the worse to happen, then I will not be disappointed when it does and will be pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t.  If I expect people to not respond in a timely fashion, then I am pleasantly surprised when they do.  If I expect technology to not work, then I will be pleasantly surprised when it does. 
I have been heavily influenced by the “drive thru, microwave” mentality that permeates our society and there in (I think) lies the problem.  I expect my computer to work instantly, I expect people to respond within a short amount of time (under 15 minutes.)  In writing this I realize how unrealistic my expectations are.  Although I don’t wear a watch, I am driven by time; pushing myself to do things quicker and faster and expecting others to do the same.  What would happen if I were to slow down and move in a decisive yet moderate pace?  What would happen if I just allowed things to “flow” and not seek to push?  That would be a foreign concept for this American to accept- other side of the earth foreign to me! 
Some of my best friends have recently returned to South Africa.  I remember when I visited them a number of years ago being struck with the African way, which means (my interpretation:) things will happen when they happen; a meeting will start when people arrive and end when it is done.  Granted, I live in America and work in an American company that runs by American standards and culture.  I cannot simply allow something with a deadline to go past stating, “it will happen when it happens.”  I can’t schedule a meeting, telling the invitees that the meeting will start when it starts and ends when we’re done. But what I can do is challenge my stress and frustration over things I cannot change (oh, I’m hearing the serenity prayer.)  Seriously, being able to let go of things I cannot change and putting everything into perspective is what I’m talking about.  Like I said earlier, I don’t wear a watch anymore, which is from my experience in Africa.  The other change that I am challenged with and committed to is relationships, the value of each human.  So now I am faced with implementing the “it will happen when it happens” attitude.  How do I do that while living in America?  I don’t have the answer to that question; it will be something I ponder for awhile.  It is the subject of another blog, I fear, but while struggling I would welcome any suggestions or comments.  And, as always…this and $2.50 will get you something, maybe a cup of Roobios Tea.
* roobios tea = sub-saharan tea from the red bush.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The life and meaning of a pen

A few years ago in a flight of fancy I came up with this; hope you enjoy...

            I am a pen.  I have many purposes in life and perform many functions.  However, my purpose in life is determined by others, my destiny is not my own.  My primary function is to write.  I am used to sign documents, write out checks, leave love notes and good-byes.
            When I sit beside a guest book my purpose it to leave lasting memories for families to read.  Notes that are both sorrowful and sympathetic (such as at a funeral) or notes of congratulations and encouragement in life (such as at a wedding.)  I am an instrument of communication. 
            Down through the ages I have had many different looks and styles.  I have been a feather, cut at the end and dipped in a bottle of ink.  I have been made of wood, reeds and other such items that are conducive to conducting ink to paper.  I am ballpoint, fine or medium in width.  I am felt-tipped, calligraphy, gel, click, large barreled and small.  But whatever I am, I know that I am a pen, an instrument of communication.
            When I sit for long periods of time without being used, my ink dries.  I become useless until friction or fire melts my ink, causing it to flow freely again, my life’s blood spilling from my artery onto the paper, defining my life as a pen, an instrument of communication.
            Please do not perceive that I have feelings, I do not sense loneliness when I am not used or you chose another pen over me.  No, I wait silently in a penholder or on a table, beside a journal or guest book.  Time does not pass for me, I am not jealous of another’s shiny exterior or rotund barrel that is easier to hold.  I do not lust for the life of a pencil, for my entries are permanent.  When I write on the pages of life, I am not easily erased, I am bold, confident even when smudged, for I AM A PEN, an instrument of communication.
            Computers have taken away some of my function.  But computers cannot leave entries in guest books, cannot sign checks at the bank, do not have personal touch of a handwritten card or note.  I have lain in the hand of maestros as they write concertos and symphonies.  Granted the work was begun by a pencil, but completed by me, a pen an instrument of communication.
            I wrote the scriptures in many languages before Guttenberg was born.  I brought permanence to the dreams of Leonardo and wrote the musings of Dante and Poe.  I scribed the hieroglyphics in the caves of early man and flown into space.  I have traveled the seas, charted the stars and down through the ages been used to solidify the fluidity of time and history.  Technology was drawn and recorded by me, a pen an instrument of communication.  Technology that would seek to replace me cannot for I am a pen an instrument of communication.
            If you sense any jealousy, it is not in me for all of my feelings come from the one that charts my destiny, defines my purpose, gives me life.  For I wait silently in a penholder or on a table beside a journal, for I am a pen, simply a pen an instrument of communication.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My "Little Comforts"

I have just made a cup of tea, Christmas Chai to be exact.  As I was lifting the tea bag out of the cup, snuffing up the wonderful aromas of the spices I thought, “this is one of my little comforts.”  As I poured honey on the spoon and dipped it into the steaming liquid, I began to reflect on “my little comforts.”  It is at moments like this that I realize that it does not take a lot to comfort me although I realize the opposite is also true, often times it is the “little things” that make me uncomfortable.

As is obvious from my disappearance from this blog for over two months, I have been preoccupied with the little discomforts of winter in Maine.  Being cold, damp, worried about oil, shoveling what seems like endless amounts of snow and driving on less than optimal road conditions have sapped my creative energy like my furnace drains the oil tank.  I would like to reach a point in my life and attitude that this is not true; that I would look to my little comforts and take advantage of the peace God has provided me in them.

Oh Father God caretaker of the storehouses of snow, let me see the beauty in your creation and trust that you take care of me in the midst of the winter!

Back to my little comforts, I enjoy a good cup of tea in the evening.  I like reading a good book while sitting under a warm blanket or in the sun.  I am comforted by my cat on my lap or feeling the warmth of my dog lying at the foot of my bed or the feel of fleece against my skin and the weight of a wool sweater.  For me it is easy to forget these little comforts in the summer, I don’t need as much comforting I guess.  The smell of the ocean, sound of waves and the whistle of a lighthouse that is summer comfort.  A cup of coffee beside a campfire by a body of water and the sound of nature at play; I find joy in those.

I have written in the past about my “romance of the seasons.”  Although I have not shared it in the blog, they exist on my computer.  What I have just come to realize is that in fall and winter, I seek to be comforted; in spring and summer I seek joy.  Maybe these two words mean the same in this instance, I honestly do not know.  But whatever the truth may be I want to remember to indulge in the simple, little comforts and joys and not race through my life, wishing the cold snowy days away in preference to warm sunny ones.  I will confess, I have not been radically thankful over the past two months.  It has been difficult to bring that attitude forth.  I know that in here in Maine I have at least another 4-6 weeks to work on this and if I don’t get it right that’s fine the opportunity will present it self again in about 8 months.

I plan to share some of my earlier writings over the next few weeks.  Please let me know what you think.  I hope that this blog may become a “little comfort” for you.