I slept about 3 hours last night. It was not for lack of trying, although I did give up around 2:00AM and decided to get some work done. I am not normally an antisomnabulist. My hope is that I will return to routine this evening. Soon, in fact.
Here are a few loose bits of change that I've been carrying around in my pocket for a bit. None of these notions, on their own, merit a blog entry, but combined, they are like the handful of curious and unusual stones that you pick up in the field in the very early spring, pushed up to the surface by the thaw. You look at them, roll them around in your hand, clean them off in the sink and put them on the window sill. Some months later, you add them to the gravel that lines the driveway.
Above is a picture of the Lynn Friends Church, from some 50 years or more ago. My ancestors helped establish this church back in the early 1800's. It is still a thriving worship community. There are things to appreciate about the Quakers. My grandma, at 91, is now the oldest member of this church. This is an honor about which she has mixed feelings. As a follow-up to my post some time ago on some of the area's country churches, go here for some history as well as more excellent old photos of churches here in Randolph County.
One of the most interesting websites that I know of is dirtybeloved - un regard oblique, and I recommend it to you now. It is a distinctly different and eclectic website that, in turn, will take you to some remarkable places. Places filled with stunning archives of photographic imagery, graphic anomalies, cultural peculiarities, and insightful, creative thinking. It is a blog, but not one like any other that I have seen.
This past weekend, I consciously avoided an opportunity to volunteer to teach a class this fall on the Book of Revelation. I wonder if that was a mistake. Sometimes I wish that either the Holy Spirit would speak more loudly and forcefully, or that I would be wise enough and quiet enough to know for sure when I am being whispered to.
Every summer we try to take advantage of a very special attraction that we have in nearby Winchester. We have one of the few remaining drive-in theaters in the country. I love that when you call in to find out what the features are, the answering machine informs you that "all movies start at dusk." On Tuesdays, it is $5 per carload and $10 every other night to see a double-feature, which is an antiquated bit of entertainment jargon that means you get to see two shows for the price of one. You tune your car radio in to the low-power FM frequency that broadcasts the movie audio. Families come from all over, mostly hardworking blue collar or farming folks, to park next to people they don't know, eat some snacks, and watch the movie from their favorite lawn chair. There is a playground there with all manner of unsafe toys, like jungle gyms and carousels, and sand piles, swing sets, and slides. The kids play until it gets dark. There is a squat, cinder block building in the center, painted yellowish green, that houses the funky concession stand and from which the ancient projectors beam. Just out of sight, less than a quarter of a mile a way, there is a busy convergence of active railway lines that rumble and blow without regard for what features may be showing. The sunsets are routinely spectacular from the drive-in parking lot.
All that to say, that last week we took my niece, Camomille, and her young son, Bryce, to see the animated feature Ratatouille. This movie is much better than one might expect, I am happy to report. There is one scene that is especially interesting to me which I feel I can relate without spoiling the movie for you. At one point, a character tastes a particular dish that dramatically transports him momentarily back to his childhood, so powerfully does it remind him of the flavor, the smell, the essence of his mother's kitchen, the feel of his own childhood.
That resonated with me, in all of its animated surrealism, because it taps into what for me is a curious experiential truth. That is, the way certain sounds, tastes, smells, objects and, for me, especially music all summon remembrances so quickly, so powerfully, without reason or warning. I really like when that happens. I don't understand how that works or what, if anything, it may mean or say about the way we are made. But I like it.
Last Sunday, in conversation at dinner with my parents, I happened to think of and then recalled aloud a certain kind of cookie that I remembered my Mom making when I was a kid. They were called "Secret Recipe" cookies, and they were splendid and perfect in every way. They were, even to my child's mind, the archetypal homemade cookie, long before I knew what an archetype was.
It is not so often that we eat with my parents, and almost never during the week, but last evening we joined them and my grandma for dinner again. As a surprise, my mother had made the "Secret Recipe" cookies. First the sight of them, then the smell, and then finally the taste and guess what? Just like the animated character in the movie, I was 10 years old again. Just for a little while.
That is a powerful and mysterious magic.