A Season to Break Mirrors

For every time, there’s a season. This is the season  I’d like to break my mirror. Fall brings out my tiny shopping gene, but it never ends well.

I peruse the mail-order catalogs and dog-ear pages before I go shopping. I don’t want to

Barbie has a designer and tailor….that’s why she looks so good.*

waste too much time in those stores which are like buffets of textile disappointment. I’ve done my homework and know what I want before I walk into Macy’s. I’m like a Barbie doll all hopped up on choices and the hope of finding a pair of pants that fit.Smiley

But after trying on the carefully vetted threads, I walk from the dressing room, twisting right and left, trying to see myself from all angles in the mirror. I’m more baffled than an English Lit major trying to do Chinese algebra.

It’s taken years, but I’ve finally deduced the reason for my bewilderment.

The clothing promises every possibility of looking like this when it’s hanging on the hanger……

I’m not sure why those ridiculous department store mirrors reveal…..

I think it’s the lighting…or maybe I need another foot and a half of leg

….or an unbreakable mirror?

I hate shopping.Smiley How about you??

(*Barbie’s Clothes by Hegmony77, Thin model: Heidi Marie by Will Foster)


Secret Back rooms and Church Keys

The Brothers kept the secret to good brews under lock and key

Book research takes me to little-seen backrooms. That’s how I recently came to be in the dark cooler (which was formerly a bank vault) of our lovely local restaurant.

I was learning how to tap a keg.

My protagonist needs to know these things. Being good Lutherans, we take full advantage of our German ancestry. We like beer. I’m not talking about ditch-crawling drunk or as obnoxious as a fanatic at a tailgate party. Just a smooth brew

to go with brats and kraut.

And you, my treasured friends, will learn the secret to correctly launch your beer.

  1. Formerly, you needed a church key. So called because of its resemblance to…well…the old ornate keys monks carried to the brewery in the cellar.
  2. The shape changed because canned beer was invented. You had to punch two sharp holes in a can to get your beer out.
  3. Now days, twist caps and pop tops are universal among brewing companies, thus making the “church key” go the way of the typewriter and VCRs. (Save them, they’ll be worth something someday…to your great, great grandkids who won’t know what they are.)
  4. Unscrew the cap and pour into a tilted glass to control the head (unless it’s a stout—which requires a 2 step pour, and is too much work for me.)


KeyPhoto by OrangeSmell; Video: Michelle Allves

The Smell of Serenity

This Scent has real “Animal Attraction.”

Let’s say you get spritzed by those lab-coated ladies at the cosmetic counter. (Why do

they wear those coats?  Surely they aren’t flinging powder around or saying, “Oops, How do I keep getting lipstick on my sleeve?”

Anyway….a year later, if you had to identify the smellum they sprayed, you’d be able to recall it, with 65% accuracy. Smells are processed by the same brain department that files away your emotions and memories.

This explains why you can walk into a school and be transported to the day Billy puked at his desk which was right behind yours.  And even after the janitor threw that red-sawdust looking stuff on top, you still dry-gagged the rest of the afternoon.  But Mrs. Lockhest, the teacher wouldn’t let you go to the nurse’s room.  Oh no she didn’t….instead, she scolded you, attempting to make you feel sorry for Billy, and then

These desks had convenient flip-up seats to easily clean the floor after Billy

she sat you in a corner, giving you and your fragile stomach extra math problems to do.  But you spent the time figuring out how to get Billy back for spreading his gross mac & cheese regurgitation in a 180° arc. Good grief, couldn’t he have been a tidy vomiter and kept it under his desk? No siree. You’d get Billy—as soon as he got out of the nurse’s room where he was lounging on a cot and skipping math.

Like I said….smells evoke a lot of memories.

Know Your Nose (Helpful facts)

  • Your sense of smell is weakest in the morning, growing stronger as the day wears on.

So whether in church or an office in the mornings, all that perfume, deodorant, and hairspray everyone coats themselves with is less likely to affect you. But by noon…your olfactory nerves will be popping…see the last suggestion.

  • A recent study showed that people in a citrus-scented room cooperated more and
    This image shows a whole and a cut lemon.

    Cooperate!!! Life hands us lemons…we’re fundraising them into a citrus-scented pipe organ.

    offered to make more charitable donations.

Good to know. So during your next fund-raiser, lemon-Pledge the table or walk around swinging a bag of lemons through the air and ask for donations.

  • Your sense of smell becomes sharper when you’re hungry.

Which explains why even sometimes McDonald’s smells good to me. And heaven forbid the late service runs long on a pot luck Sunday.  All those smells wafting from the kitchen will cause a pastor—even a Lutheran pastor—to only sing one verse of the closing hymn rather than cranking through all 114 verses—as usual.

  • The more estrogen you have, the better sniffer you have

Any pregnant woman has experienced this.  One time I thought the smell of the pipe organ was going to make me sick.

  • If you’re in space, you’ll likely loose your sense of smell.  The lack of gravity allows sinuses to back up like a clogged disposal, snuffing out your ability to smell.

See…clogged sinuses can come in handy. They can save you from over-abundant perfume sprayers, sneaky bags of lemons, or Billy and his “shared” macaroni and cheese.

Because mood and medication affect our sniffers from hour to hour, it’s believed we never experience a smell the same way twice.

Chapel of Holy Cross, Sedona AZ, by Dougtone

This doesn’t hold true for me. Most sanctuaries and chapels smell the same. I breathe in the scent dust, extinguished candles, old hymnals, and hopeful prayers.

The tiny part of my brain that processes these clues kicks out the same message each time: Lay your troubles down. Rest. This is the scent of serenity.

What smells take you to a place or event?

How To Stop A JawFlapper

My Roman Catholic friend jokes that:

“…when church is over—people burn rubber getting out of the parking lot.”

Lutherans would do this too if we didn’t talk so slowly. By the time we’ve mulled what we

I like mice like the ones at: All Saints Allesley. Each pew is carved by Robert Thompson of Kilburn North Yorkshire and has a little mouse carved on it somewhere.

truly wanted to say through 15 filters—so it’s not offensive, flamboyant, or overly pigheaded—it’s lunchtime and we’re ready to get in our cars and forget about it until the next time we meet.

Except for me….

My family says it takes a good 20 minutes for me to get from the pew to the car because I talk to everybody—even the church mice. Well…I’ve got stories to collect and another book to write…but if you truly want to escape…then….

How To End a Conversation

For the love of silence, Kris. Give it a rest.!

Here are some tips for ending a conversation with me or someone like me who’s flapping their jaws.

 STRATEGY 1: Make a positive ending comment.  This is the UNIVERSAL signal for wrapping up.

  • DOs:    “I’m glad we talked.”
  •             “You’ve given me some things to think about.”
  •             “I enjoyed our conversation.”
  • DON’Ts: “Kris…isn’t that your husband…driving out of the parking lot?

 STRATEGY 2: Review and Plan.  Again, this is another signal indicating you’ve heard the person and the conversation has come to a close.

  • DO:    “Thanks for letting me know the details. (The review of the conversation).  “I’ll get back to you and let you know.” (The plan.)
  • DON’T:  “Kris!!! My eyes are rolling in the sockets with all these details. (The Review). Just e-mail me (so I can delete it as soon as I get it.)” (The Plan)

STRATEGY 3:  The Excuse AND Reason.

You’re allegedly ending the conversation NOT because the other person is making your brain  go to sleep and you want to run away, pulling at your ears and screaming, but because you have something else that MUST be done.

The excuse and reason must be used together...as you see in this bad example.

  • POOR EXAMPLE:  ”Hi…can’t talk. Gotta go.”

This response doesn’t work as my kiddos will attest. Without an excuse, it makes the other person feel unimportant. (And adding a wave, while walking away doesn’t make it any better…are you kids listening?)

  • BETTER EXAMPLE: “Sorry, Kris. Gotta go. I’m late for a meeting.”

HINT:  If you’re using the Excuse Strategy, at least make your reasons believable.

  • “I’ve got to wash the chickens.”
  •  “Clean out the fridge before the milk expires.”  or
  • “I’m late for a meeting that we didn’t invite you to.”

Are not acceptable excuses. Put on your thinking cap or another mouth filter.

So…there you have it!!


Of course, the best time to escape is when there’s a lull in the conversation; but if you’re visiting with someone like me, who can talk as I breathe both in and out, you’ll have to interrupt. I know …I know….you hate to do it.  But believe me, it’s quite helpful. I appreciate it every time I’m interrupted with:

“Sorry, Barb. I’ve got to let you go.  Your husband is driving out of the parking lot.” Smiley

amadabslater, :Mollypop, Thirdculturejb

Flying over all Creation

If you’ve ever wished FLYING was one of your super powers….

Set your coffee cup down. Turn up the sound on your computer and turn off the lights (well you don’t have to…but it’ll make you feel like you’re flying, too.)

This brings tears to my eyes…I’m not quite sure why….It’s a moment to discover with wide-eyed wonder…this creation we’ve been given called….


Yes, it’s NASA footage from the International Space Station
The white lights? Lightning
The green lights? The Northern Lights

Video Credit: Gateway to Astronaut Photography, NASA ; Compilation: Bitmeizer (YouTube);
Music: Freedom Fighters (Two Steps from Hell)


White People Trying to Clap

A big thank you to everyone who participated in the Tell-Me  poll

What Bothers You About Church Music?

 Here are the results (some logical; some hilarious)

  •  50% of folks feel the music is too loud.(No it’s not okay to arrive early and unplug the speakers as a solution.)
  • 40% are tired of singing all the verses.(C’mon, c’mon…let’s get to the sermon and get out of here.)

And then there were the Other answers

  • Coyote singing

One person felt it was a sin for her husband to open his mouth because he sang so

Let ‘er rip, Granny.

off-key.  Ohhhh….I understand that one. You know how a coyote in pain yowls?  I’m sorry to say that’s just how my granny warbled.  One note covered 6 scales and she belted it out with a gusto that made little kids climb under the pews. She put her whole heart into: “Make a joyful noise.”

  • Morgue Music

Another person couldn’t stand music that sounded like there was a half inch of space between the notes. Tooooo slooooow. And it was even worse if funky instruments were added. “Did you ever shake a maraca to music slower than sunrise?
(Uh…no…maybe shaking the maraca harder will wake a few folks up?)

The comment that made me laugh out loud was:

What Bothers You About Church Music?

  • White people, trying to clap.

    The rhythm seems a little stiff to me.

I’m guessing this commenter visited a Lutheran church. And I ask that you give me a chance to explain.

I’ll admit many Lutherans are clapping-challenged.  It began long ago as little kids when we stood bored and stiff-legged in church and decided to pinch a sibling for entertainment. Even though a “pincher” could expect a swat…it was great fun.  If you did it several times, you’d even get hauled out of church, thus missing that guy yammering up front and the woman who coyote- yodeled during hymns.

So from the get-go, we were told to keep our hands to ourselves.  Fingers clenched firmly at our sides or glued to a hymnbook were the only two accepted positions.  Even if you were very old, blind in one eye and couldn’t see out of the other, you held a hymn book and pretended to sing along. Our hands never had a chance to join the tempo. All those Sunday School hand motions to “Zaccheaus was a wee, little man” didn’t help. We’re not practiced at clapping.

I’m guessing the ability to follow the rhythm ebbs and flows along cultural lines. I attended PowWows with a friend who is Cherokee. She’d spend hours, trying to teach me the Friendship Dance. It’ a simple side-step move, traveling in a circle. My problem is…without warning—the drums stop, leaving me shuffling a step or two in silence. In some mystical way, everyone else knew beforehand the drumbeat is going to stop. My friend would squint and shake her head. “Can’t you hear that slight change in cadence?”

Nope. I”m deaf from trying to learn to clap.

But the best comment came from Merril at Snowbird Press. I’m sharing her name because she also put her lovely thoughts in the comment section for all to see.
She said:

“Our church’s organ went the way of all things, and our organist is now in a nursing home. We were left with either using recorded music or no music at all. That’s when The Spirit moves. Today we have a wonderful guitar choir that was formed by a few of our members. The music brings us together joyfully… can you ask for more?”

No. You can’t ask for more.
That kind of puts it in perspective, doesn’t it?
Sometimes it takes having only a little to appreciate a lot.

Clapping Photo: Captain Kobold

Why Church Groups Are Going the Way of the Typewriter

courtesy zmescience.com

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe from a church site.  Of course, I linked, gave them credit and said a few warm words about the organization. Done and done.

I’d hoped to drive some traffic their way. I think we’re all in this together. A group doesn’t have to be Lutheran.  The more we get the word out about our projects, efforts, trials, and solutions the more helpful it is for everyone.

And then, I tangled it all up.  I called the organization to let them know, and asked permission to use the  recipe. Well, actually, I emailed a request to the generic address on their site.  I received an email back from the group’s secretary,  who told me to call the president and gave me a phone number.

Uh-oh.  Didn’t this church group ever meet? Pass along information?  And didn’t the president have e-mail?

Turns out she didn’t. Nor did she know what a blog was.  She didn’t even know they had recipes posted on their own site.  And the member whose name was listed with recipe? The president had never heard of her. (Probably died long ago)  The leader kept interrupting my explanations, her questions becoming pointed and tinged with what sounded like ticked-off  suspicion.

Gaaaak! I should’ve use angel food, instead.

My tender little deed was degrading faster than an open container of guacamole. Nope, she wasn’t interested in checking out this blog, or even her own group’s site. “No,” she said sternly, “I will not give you permission to use a lemon cake recipe.”

Oooooo-kay.  Darn. I can’t even help grow traffic to another organization. I was beating myself with the thought:  Why did I even ask? And this is why older church groups are dying off.

 I understand the classic response to blind fear.  When something is unknown, strange or foreign, the immediate knee-jerk reaction is to block everything. I get it. I’ve done it plenty of times.

But it’s so worth our time to update ourselves to make a decision. We may not like change, but it’s here whether we appreciate it or not. According to Beloit’s Mindset List, the  two million young people heading to college….

  • have never worried about a cold war missile strike. During their life time, Russians and Americans have always been living together in outer space.
  • They’ve never even used phones with cords.
  • Few students know how to write in cursive, and latest generations seldom if ever use snail mail.
  • Caller ID has always been available on phones
  • IBM has never made typewriters
  • The Hubble Space Telescope has always been eavesdropping on the heavens.

(See entire list at: http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2012)

  • Consumers are able to customize most everything in their personal life: cars, phones, TV schedules (using DVRs) and for goodness sake…of course, their music.

A plain backpack?  YUCK!  Your Twitter handle makes your water bottle, pack, or jewelry one of a kind and increases your social media branding.

Not just teens, but several generations have grown up using technology. They employ it both as a statement and a personalized style.  They understand it. They feel comfortable with communication at their fingertips.

Hopefully church groups will make the effort to learn about their own websites. Perhaps they’ll even have virtual meetings in chat rooms someday.  Or start a world wide discussion under #tweets. Maybe we can even link and support each other?

Because the best way to overcome fear of change is with education.   It’s time. There aren’t many typewriters around anymore.

(And if you’d like to be exposed to other cultures, lifestyles and mind-broadening experiences, check out. Lesley Carter’s travel site)

Afterlife Messages

by 19melissa68

Sixteen bags of garbage.  Oh, excuse me. It wasn’t garbage. It was all stuff that would come in handy someday.

That’s what we found when I helped my neighbor clean out her mother’s house. Forty years of saving  stick-on bows, aluminum pans, and extra sets of dishes.  My neighbor had wheedled and cajoled, trying to get a head start and purge the place before her mother passed.  But the old matriarch wasn’t interested, waving a hand away and saying, “I don’t have the energy, honey.  Do it after I’m gone.”

Mostly the bags were filled with garbage we’d found festooned between financial papers and coupons that had expired in ’92.  But there was one rare find.

by Muffett

A box. Inside were love letters between my friend’s mother and father during the war. And home-made cards she’d  crayola’d  as a kid.  She held in her hands the knittings of her family’s love that had made it all the way into the future.

Things have changed.  We rarely write letters on paper anymore. I love getting them, but I’m guilty about not writing.  Instead I use technology. That’s why a recent news article popped a light bulb over my noggin.

Some families are bemoaning the privacy policies of internet sites.  If you use on-line bill

pay, internet banking, or communicate with e-mails, those accounts aren’t accessible to heirs after you die.  Your Facebook, Pinterest, or Google account can be shut down with the proper certificates, approved paperwork and sometimes legal wrangling, but you don’t have access to content.  For example, if nothing is done, those e-bills will go on forever, piling up in the deceased’s Yahoo mail, but the family won’t know anything about it because they can’t access the account.

This is birthing new legislation, but for now, attorneys are recommending leaving a list of usernames and passwords (and instructions) with your will.  EX:  Download the family pictures and delete Vegas Weekend pictures from PhotoBucket.

But I had a better idea for this man-made perpetuity.

With a little creative scheduling, I could blog far into the future, even though I’d actually be singing in the heavenly choir.  Long after I’m gone I could wish the kids Happy Birthday each year. I could schedule posts 50 years from now to nag my great-great something-or-others into doing better in school, getting  jobs, or going to church more often.   Messages from beyond the grave.

When I shared this with the kids, they shrugged, telling me technology would change by then.  Besides, they’d prefer I leave a letter.  Something they could hold.  A missive with my funny-looking Rs and loopy Ys. A note that crinkles and makes noise when folded and refolded. Maybe even one that carries a scent.

I know what they mean. I love holding my Dad’s teensy-tiny Bible. He rarely talked about his beliefs, but I learned so much from the underlined passages and notes he made in the margins.

Things change. Things stay the same. So I’ll write my afterlife messages in a letter.  And I plan on passing it along in my Dad’s tiny-little Bible. Now if I could just figure out how to add the scent of homemade bread.

To Paper or To Plate: That’s the Question

We were packing boxes to send to missionaries and behind us, at another table, was a Vera-type-gal, a micro-manager of the Universe.  She was organizing the Ladies’ for an upcoming reception, “And of course, we must use the nice plates, and the good glasses.  Nancy Sue will you iron the tablecloths and napkins?”

Heavens to mergatroid. Poor Nancy Sue  I thought.  I haven’t used my iron in…well, let’s just say I think it still works. Last time I used it was to create melted crayon crafts. I leaned over to my packing partner and whispered, “That’s a lot of frou-frou.”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, that’s why I never volunteer for those things.”

Now obviously, I was born without a Martha Stewart gene, but it got me thinking, with all the coffee hours, receptions, mid-week suppers, etc., we’d get more volunteers if we’d use disposables. So what’s the better choice? Hence…


Being frugal Lutherans, most of our matched plates and flatware came from saving boxtops. (Everyone keep eating…we need 10 more sets of service.)

Ceramic/Glass Benefit

  • Their production and delivery have a carbon foot print, but it’s a one-time thing.
  • They have to be washed. (Blah…like we all don’t have enough washing in our lives). But according to GreenGoPost.com dishwashers have become more energy and water efficient. (Obviously they’ve never watched the youth wash dishes).  Of course they caution if you run the dishwasher with only a cup and a spoon inside, it’s not too cost-effective, but the nature of most Lutherans is to fill that machine up until it looks like a steam-punk contraption. We know how to get the most soap out of a buck.
  • The threat of bacteria spreading is most likely not an issue unless we’re experiencing a horrible disease like cholera or maybe contamination by zombies.  Basic hygiene still applies.

Paper Plate Benefit

  • Disposable. No clean up. Hooray. But…here comes the rain on my dancing-dish parade…we’ll be buying them again and again. More production, transportation and bigger carbon footprint.
  • So, we’ll just recycle, yes?  No, not really. Usually soiled plates can’t be recycled and not all grades of plastic can be recycled. “Even if your community could recycle each and every disposable fork or cup,” says Leon Kaye of GreenGoPost, “they still require energy–and water–to create new batches of paper or plastic goods.”  And then there’s the bags of garbage after an event, percolating gas and goop like the eggs in an Alien movie.

So my lazy bones stand corrected. Ceramic and metal flatware is the winner.

It’s wise stewardship for money, attitude, and planet. “Think single purchase, not single use,” says Kaye.

Okay…I may volunteer for clean-up, but I’m still not ironing.

How has your church or organization solved the problem?

Thanks to Leon Kaye, editor and founder of GreenGoPost.com. Check it out for more info.

Lutheran Ladies Confused, Overused, and Never Schmoozed

English: Vacation Bible School at the Monsey C...

As much as I grumble about change, sometimes expectations need to take a flying leap into the nearest disposal.

During a Council meeting, we discovered the Ladies’ Circle was branded with certain expectations.

Committee members were making reports of “happenings” which went something like this…

1)      “Well, this church is going to host an all-day hospitality workshop for the district. And we’re working with the Ladies’ Circle to provide lunch and snacks.”

Sounds  exciting. Next report….

2)      “There’s a Memorial Service on Friday.  The Ladies’ Circle will provide a meal for family and friends.”

They always honor the families with such a wonderful gift.  Next report

3)      “The church needs a new heating unit, so we’d like to have BBQ fundraiser. Or maybe a strawberry shortcake feed.  We’re trying to get the Ladies’ Circle to help with the details, but they’re slow in getting back to me.”

Let us know when you get it worked out.  Next report on volunteers.

 4)      “Well, we’re having trouble getting volunteers for coffee hour.  Maybe the Ladies’ Circle will fill in when no one signs up?”


5)      “We could use help providing the snacks for Vacation Bible School, but a number of the women in the Ladies’ Circle say they aren’t going to be around….”

Okay…when the litany of requests line-up, the expectations become obvious.  Often, IF it has to do with food, some people think a gangle of church ladies are standing by, bowls and spatulas in hand, waiting to whip up…and even more importantly…clean up.

Usually the ladies consider it an honor to help out. A gift.  And it is—until everyone starts expecting that it’s their job.

In this day when so many of the women work and those that are retired are traveling, sometimes there aren’t enough hands to do all the great projects everyone else comes up with.

 HOW TO FIX IT?  (Because we love to fix things).

  • Change expectations.   Just because it has to do with kitchens, coffee, or food, doesn’t mean it’s a Ladies’ Circle “thing.”  One of the best fundraisers I’ve been to was a men’s chili cook-off. Probably because men were cooking and cleaning, but it was totally worth the money to watch.
  • And it’s great when different groups host coffee meet/greet.  The 3rd/4th Grade hosted coffee hour by baking animal cookies one Sunday and serving the next Sunday. I think there was a lesson about Noah in there somewhere, but it sure got a lot of different people involved.
  • But…what if “nobody wants to do it?”  That’s tough one.  Rather than asking the same people over and over until they burn out, perhaps it’s time to change the expectation that it must be done.   And that’s how change comes about.   Some people will be shocked into volunteering when they find out the annual rummage sale isn’t taking place because no one else wanted to organize it.  And if no one volunteers?  Perhaps it’s time for a break? Let it go for a while.
  • Lastly, When’s the last time you thanked the Ladies’ Circle?  Or the Property Committee? or the the Sunday School Teachers?  Or….. you get the idea. I mean really thanked them, in addition to  hurling a few bodacious words their way.

    This image was selected as a picture of the we...

    This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Czech Wikipedia for th week, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A card. A cookie is nice. Yes indeed, people are usually willing to volunteer. It’s a gift. But when a contribution is taken for granted,  it tends to fray the bow on the present.

If you wanted to say thanks and schmooze your Lutheran Ladies’ Circle today, (or your favorite volunteer group), I’m sure it would be appreciated.  And remember: Chocolate is always welcome.