Saturday, October 23, 2010

1830's Trails

Never could keep 'em straight: the Trail of Tears and the Santa Fe Trail. In all honesty, I'm not sure that I ever realized they were separate places.

They both were east-west trails in the US.
They weren't that far apart, and both trails overlapped some of the same longitudinal lines.
The stories of both trails involved Indians and soldiers.
They occurred at the same time.
And obviously, they both contain the word "trail."

We're reading a history book that covers world events during Abraham Lincoln's lifetime. (By the way, I've learned more about Napolean in the last month than I ever learned in school.) Also, Andrew and I are working through some lectures on American wars, and right now we're on the events that led up to the Mexican War. So, in the same week, we stumbled upon both trails.

Now, maybe you learned more history than I learned. Or maybe you can keep straight titles that have the same word in them. But if you too are a Bear of Very Little Brain, here are the differences:

The Santa Fe Trail was a little further north, and began & ended further west than the Trail of Tears.

But more importantly, people went back and forth on the Santa Fe Trail; it was a trade route. The Trail of Tears was a one-time trail, from east to west, from the Cherokee homeland into exile.

I think now I'll be able to keep them straight.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My Name ... according to Alia

So as to differentiate between the two grandmothers, it was discussed amongst some people who live here what my grandma-name should be. Lu (Nathan's mom) is Grandma. Some of the family (but especially Andrew) decided I should be Nanna. For days they tried to teach Alia to call me Nanna. She finally complied.

For about a week.

Wednesday she decided I was "Grandma." Funny to see her and her 18-yr-old uncle arguing over whether my name is Nanna or Grandma!

For those of you who haven't met me and my eldest, here's a picture. We do look just a little bit similar. So the computer's screen-saver is rolling through pictures; Alia is watching; a picture of Rachel pops up on the screen; and Alia says, "Grandma!"


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lack of Jokes

Some of my friends and family have greatly enjoyed the daily jokes I used to have on my blog. I hear about people missing the daily laugh when I don't get around to gathering jokes. But it's been hard recently to find jokes. Internet copyright laws have become stricter. Sifting through online jokes involves skipping over lots of really filthy (and unfunny) jokes. Then there are the mediocre jokes which aren't worth laughing at. And when I find something funny, these days it is inevitably copyrighted. I spent an hour this morning hunting jokes and found only one I could post, and it was only slightly funny. I found a three hilarious ones, but I'm not willing to risk the fines if somebody finds out I've posted them here. And I'm not willing to post the links because there may be one or two good jokes on a full page of other stuff (including icky ads). Gary suggested finding old joke books, old enough to have gone out of copyright. But those are probably old jokes that y'all have heard before. Besides it would take a lot more work. I understand that people want to be paid for what they do. But still, ... "pay me to pass on my joke and brighten somebody else's day"?

Today's Laugh

Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.

The question? What do women really want? Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query; but, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.

Arthur returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone: the princess, the priests, the wise men, and even the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Many people advised him to consult the old witch, for only she would have the answer. But the price would be high; the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.

The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no choice but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer the question, but he would have to agree to her price first. The old witch wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend. Young Arthur was horrified. She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, and made obscene noises. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature in all his life.

Arthur refused to force his friend to marry her and endure such a terrible burden; but Lancelot, learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur. He said nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table. Hence, a wedding was proclaimed and the witch answered Arthur's question thus: 'What a woman really wants,' she answered, 'is to be in charge of her own life.'

Everyone in the kingdom instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared. And so it was, the neighboring monarch granted Arthur his freedom, and Lancelot and the witch had a wonderful wedding.

The honeymoon hour approached and Lancelot, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. What a sight awaited him! There was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen before him. The astounded Lancelot asked what had happened, and the beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she appeared as a witch, she would henceforth be her horrible deformed self only half the time and the beautiful maiden the other half.

Which would he prefer? Beautiful during the day ... or night?

Lancelot pondered the predicament. During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch? Or, would he prefer having a hideous witch during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous intimate moments?

What would YOU do?

Noble Lancelot said that he would allow her to make the choice herself.

Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.

The moral of the story is:
"If you don't let a woman have her own way ... things are going to get ugly."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


We watched a movie tonight that would not have drawn our interest were we not APT fans. It's supposed to be a story of hope.

I'm not sure I saw any hope.

I loved watching Jimmy and Brian and Sarah. I loved seeing the local stuff: the scenery, the beer labels, the houses, the restaurants.

There was a lot of rhetoric about politics and the war. As we watched, I wasn't sure whether the show was trying to promote those viewpoints or giving us cause to shake our heads and say "tsk tsk." There was also a lot of foul language. But these things would have been forgivable if the story had a great message in the end.

But it didn't.

The poor chap in the movie had been a war correspondent and came home jaded and hopeless. He couldn't get rid of the horrid memories. He no longer believed that we can Change The World and make a difference. I didn't expect a Christian message of hope. But I did expect some secular version of hope. And for the life of me, I don't know what it was. The reviews talk about how Michael (the main character) finds hope. Through the movie he drinks a lot. And then he spends Christmas with a friend, including babysitting the friend's daughter on the afternoon of the 24th. The friend is positive and upbeat and has hope that things are generally good and will work out. But that in itself doesn't appear to give hope to Michael; it just seems to show him that not everything everywhere is thoroughly despairing.

Gary said it was the most depressing thing he'd seen in a long time. Afterwards he hunted up a funny tv show to watch.

Right now, I am thinking about what Pastor says about the Christian life being full of joy -- even when we do not feel it. Right now, I am thinking about the joy of family, and satisfaction with a job well done, and comfort in not taking on responsibilities that are not yours. Right now, I'm noticing the lack of dialogue in this film (all the scenes that are so so quiet, filled with pensive waiting and thinking) and contrasting that quietness with the voice of God's Word that brings life. Paul said that if Christ be not raised from the dead, we are of all men the most pitiable. But when you see what passes for "hope" out there in the big wide world, maybe not. Even if Christianity were a hoax, it still would have a lot to offer. Do you remember what Puddleglum said to the Witch when she was trying to convince them that there was no Narnia, no world except the underground one that lay in her grasp?

Suppose ... suppose we have only dreamed and made up these things like sun, sky, stars, and moon, and Aslan himself. In that case, it seems to me that the made-up things are a good deal better than the real ones. And if this black pit of a kingdom is the best you can make, then it's a poor world. And we four can make a dream world to lick your real one hollow.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"I Be Back"

My granddaughter Alia has been learning to talk. You know how some kids start to speak earlier and make solid progress? Well, Alia is one of those kids who didn't talk and didn't talk -- and occasionally people would suggest that something was wrong with her. But when she started talking, it was a torrent.

One day, Nathan asked, "So what is this? Is she learning a new word every single day now?" Oh no! WAY more than one a day. Probably more than one per hour. And then, a couple of weeks later, 3- and 4-word sentences. And even pronouns and possessives used correctly. It is so much fun to watch and listen to kids as they acquire language!

At the playground the other day, waiting for Maggie to finish at choir practice, she would "leave" me with a cheery reassurance, "I be back" and wave farewell. Around the back of the slide, climbing up the different levels of the fort, informing me at each level, "I be back," and then she'd slide down. "Look! You're back!"

Not everything is perfect in Language-Learning Land, though. This morning, Alia was telling her daddy that she wanted beer for breakfast. Beer? The kid wants beer? For breakfast? He finally discovered the item was "pear." Ah! That makes sense!