Sunday, May 30, 2010

Even Uglier

In my last entry, I quoted a speaker I recently heard who offered an aesthetic principle:

"Ugly can be beautiful; but pretty, never."

I've received a couple of queries from confused readers, so I think I ought to offer what clarification I can. If we were to grammatically expand the assertion, it would read like this:

"Ugly can be beautiful; but pretty can never be beautiful."
This is to say that what does not follow the popular conventions of enjoyable appearance (ugly) can still possess something deeper beneath the surface which speaks to the soul (beauty). That whose purpose is to convince the viewer that its function is in its appearance (pretty) cannot have the deeper possession of beauty.

That's about as far as I can get without tripping over the fact that the expression itself has a certain inexplicable aesthetic. If the poetry is ruined in the expansion, then I'm sure there will be another unrelated post following soon.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why We Should Be Ugly

I attended a workshop yesterday on using projected images in worship. Most of the session had to do with mechanics, details, and the decisions that go into using images in this way. I found it very helpful in clarifying my own thinking about this medium in service to the people of God.

What helped me more, I think, dropped like crumbs from the table of detail to the floor of creativity. The pastor leading this workshop does everything she can to use multiple forms of art in her worship space, reflecting her and her husband's deep interest in aesthetic. (Step into their world here.)

One morsel I have held, even after a full night's sleep, is a quote she offered us from her husband's reflection on the ceramic arts:

"Ugly can be beautiful; but pretty, never."

I could explain what chords this phrase struck in me, but I imagine it might be wiser to let the words do what they have done for me. Steep the soul.

Ugly can be beautiful; but pretty, never.

~ emrys

The Face of Liberalism

This week I'm attending a conference for preachers in Nashville, Tennessee. It began on Monday evening with worship and concerts in its principal venue, the First Baptist Church of Nashville. That evening, and into Tuesday, I looked around at my fellow participants: one thousand to twelve hundred of us filling up the massive sanctuary. Of this vast number of pastors and ministers, only a handful--that is, to be counted on two hands--are people of color. Take away the presenters who are people of color, folks who receive some sort of honorarium to be here, and the number may be countable on one hand. That is, about half a percent of us have non-white skin tone.

During a break yesterday I was chewing the fat with a couple of colleagues, and made my observation aloud.

"Hey, did y'all notice that we're all white?"

One of them nodded. "Oh, yeah. This event is the liberals' event."

That wasn't quite what I asked. "You mean all liberals are white?"

"Yep," he said, without missing a beat.

Funny: the conference organizers didn't put this on their website.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Gardener In Training

GBaby is getting her Gardening 101 course this summer. She began by making sure she had the proper tools:

And then observed those more experienced:

She also was good at asking for help and assistance when necessary:

After an adequate time of observation, it was time to get busy!

And after a full day out in the garden playing in the dirt and water, it was really no surprise that she couldn't hold her head up by the time dinner was over:

Friday, May 14, 2010


The other morning I was making frosting. I had finished mixing it and was getting ready to transfer it to a bowl for storage. I took the paddle out to the KitchenAid, scraped it off and placed it in the spot where I'll lay it down to wait so I can get one last finger-full of gooey yumminess before I wash it. Apparently the Little Person in the household has been observing this practice. As I turned away from the mixer back towards the sink, this is what I saw:

Followed by little finger covered in frosting going into the mouth, and reaching up again. By then, I had the camera and was really glad the camera was on top of the fridge at that moment! She still wasn't sure if she was in trouble or not, but she sure liked the frosting.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

15 Months going on 15 Years?

I've said this last week that my daughter has the appetite of a teenage boy with the crazy amounts of food she can pack away (thank you Emrys, for giving her your metabolism!). Now, it seems, she's working on the facial expressions that teenage girls perfect:

Oy vey!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Evidenciary Post

I just realized that in my postings about the progress of the bedroom closet, not many pictures of me--working--have made it in. I am suddenly aware of the danger that my first-person-plural pronouns might be interpreted to mean that I've been paying someone to build this closet, while I sit back, sip on a Shirley Temple, and snap photos. Well, cynical audience members, here's the proof.

Here I am on a ladder, cutting the interior with primer (wearing my t-shirt from Geo's 2005 IronMan competition: go Team Geo!):

Here's my wicked downstroke with the cutting brush:

And here's my lightning-fast reload of primer:

You didn't see it, did you? That's how fast I am. No Shirley Temples here, man.

~ emrys

Finally coming together

and when I write, "finally coming together," I mean that I can finally take away much of the debris and tools that have made our bedroom a construction zone for four months.

The last step in getting the structural work of the closet cabinetry done was cutting and fitting the shelves. Above the five drawers (yes, only five) are five shelves. The bottom shelf (the same depth as the drawers) is permanent. The four above sit on pegs which can be moved to change the size of the space on them. I didn't quite go as drill-happy as an IKEA engineer--who would have put in enough holes to host 4^25 possible configurations. The four shelves have six possible mounting locations. You do the math.

With the shelves ready, I slapped on a couple of layers of polyurethane. I really like clear urethane. Not only does it leave the natural color of the wood unmolested (here, white birch), but it lifts the contrast of the grain, produces a quiet sheen, and makes a smooth surface. Plus it won't stain if we spill anything on it--which is a danger when the guests at our raging house parties bring their Shirley Temples upstairs.

At long last, the closet is ready to host clothes! It's not completed yet by any means--notice the lack of trim, doors, et cetera. But the rest of the work does not require evacuating the contents of the closet, which milestone was a major marker for me.

We've got our colors picked out: the next step is painting the whole room. Stay tuned.

~ emrys

Caught by a sunset

on the way up the stairs:

~ emrys

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Mowing Mayhem

There are a lot of things I can do with GBaby in tow. Some are easier than others. I decided that today I would give mowing the lawn a shot. I have a play pen for the back yard- I nice gate system that provides about a 6 x6 play area for an active toddler. If G could adequately articulate her feelings I think she'd say its a baby penitentiary- instead she just voices her lack of appreciation for confining boundaries. Loudly. And sometimes angrily.

Into the pen she went - it was equipped with shallow containers filled with water, balls and other sundry toys for her amusement and I set out to mow. As the mower fired up, so did G. I figured I'd give her a few minutes to settle and as I moved away from her I looked over my shoulder. Sure enough, she was off exploring the toys and water. I got to the end of the yard and moved back towards her. G was still content. Went to empty the bag, mower stops. G wails. Ugh. I empty the bag at the far end of the yard, fire up the mower and head back to the side of the yard where G is confined. I can see the continued distress on her face so I killed the mower and moved up the hill towards her.

As I reached her I heard a noise and turned just in time to see the lawn mower rolling down the hill heading straight for the one area of the bank of the creek that is not overgrown with stuff to block it's decent into the creek. OH [insertbadwordhere]!

I take off running. G screams louder. The mower topples into the creek landing upside down.

I right the mower, empty the bag right there in the creek (thank you yesterday's thunderstorms) and haul the mower up the creek bank (yeah, I'm going to be paying for that tomorrow!) G is still wailing because now she's confined and mommy ran away.

I spent some time consoling the poor kid over juice on the back porch. We repeated the cycle (minus the mower taking a swim) a few more times and finally the back yard was mowed and my free spirit of a child was free to roam again-until she grabbed a handful of dirt where I have spinach planted!

P.S. My gardening and kitchen adventures are all over at ThrivingMama. Check it out if it's your cup of tea.