church nonsense

The Drip, Drip, Drip of Dogmatism

I’ve been too knackered to read or write anything these past two weeks.  I won’t go into the details but it has to do with my mom falling and injuring her hip (CT scan next week), both of my dogs having a nasty bout of diarrhea (clean-up in aisle 2), and me working just about ’round the clock to prepare for a presentation.

Profound exhaustion.

But then last night I went to the newly renovated Strand Theater in the newly rejuvenated Pontiac to see Phillip Phillips. Just Phillip, Dave Eggars, a guitar, a cello and a voice. In an intimate setting.

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It was outstanding.

Brian Vander Ark opened with skills of his own.

So today I had enough rejuvenation of my own to read a little something and I read this:

“Here’s the thing: Christianity is not about a personal relationship with Jesus. The phrase is never found in the Bible. And the whole biblical witness runs contrary to it.”

I was only three paragraphs into the article and I was exhausted again.

Because I’m tired of statements like that one.

Untrue overstatements to support a point.

Correct, the phrase “personal relationship” is not found in the Bible (lots of phrases to which Christians adhere are not found in the Bible), but that doesn’t mean the whole Biblical witness runs contrary to it.

When God rebuked Aaron and Miriam in Numbers 12 He said, “When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams.
But this is not true of my servant Moses he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face…”

In Exodus 33, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”

Isaiah wrote, “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend...” and in another place, he wrote “look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many.” [emphasis added]

God said of David: “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”

John referred to himself as, “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”  When Peter, learning how he would die, looked at John and asked, “What about him?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

And there was Job who, after a long personal discourse with God said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”

A quick survey of the whole biblical witness (and these are just the first few that come to mind)  reveals that God had many unique, personal relationships.

Oh, oh, oh I just thought of more: Jesus revealing Himself personally to Mary at the tomb and then to the disciples minus Thomas and then to Thomas personally with a personalized revelation tailored to his specific need to believe…

We know from Scripture that He made promises to individuals as well as to nations.

He still does.  He still has unique, personal relationships with individuals AND He has corporate relationships with nations and with the church at large.

Things are rarely one or the other when it comes to the way we practice religion.  They’re almost always a little bit of both.

Which is why dogma wears me out.

#knackered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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love, Michigan

Wes Leonard

Wes Leonard scored the final basket in the final game of the regular season and then he died.

The score was tied going into overtime. The Fennville Blackhawks had won 19 out of 19 games. A perfect season hung in the balance, and then Wes scored 4 points for the win.

That was in 2011.

This past Friday afternoon the hub and I drove to Hope College in Holland, Michigan to attend the 6th Annual Wes Leonard Heart Team Never Forgotten Game:  Fennville vs. Saugatuck.

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At halftime Wes’ former teammates lined up mid-court.

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And presented a portable AED machine to representatives from 20 High Schools.

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The hub, blurry in my haste to snap a pic before he sat down, was one of them.

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Before the game we were taught how to use the device and instructed in the importance of maintaining fresh batteries.  Wes’ school had a device the night he died but the battery was dead.

At the end of the game the fans from both schools – rivals – chanted Wes-ley Leo-nard, just as they have at the end of every game these past six years.

I love this family and this community – who have come together to get life saving information, legislation and devices into every Michigan school.

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Since Holland is about a 3 hour drive, we spent the night.

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In the morning, as we walked into town in search of the perfect cafe miel – and it was perfect – we came upon this sculpture.  Which is another reason I love this town.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

If you didn’t watch the video, scroll back up and watch it.  With a hanky.

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love, the friends

Local Color

We had hoped to get up north for a color tour. But then the beagle was diagnosed. So I’m settling for the color in my neighborhood. I captured a bit of it on our walk today.

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I’ve been letting the beagle choose our route.

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Today she wanted to take the path along the woods.

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Which leads to an abandoned school.

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Hey, Be…

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…Let’s get home before it rains.

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She was unconcerned.

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The sky let loose as soon as we walked through the door.

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When the rain stopped it was Maxy’s turn.

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Good boy.

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Yep, buddy, I think that was thunder.

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I like the way the muted reds and yellows match my brick. Still waiting for my hazel to turn a brilliant  yellow.

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And I love how the trees in my backyard are a gnarly mess.

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It’s not the Tahquamenon Falls, but it’ll do.

 

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Food, Michigan

Michigander

The hub, my shingles and I went up north for a long weekend.

Yep, shingles.

Woke up Wednesday morning with a raised rash on the back of my neck. I couldn’t see it but I could feel it.  Thought maybe I brushed against a poison ivy leaf when I was picking raspberries.  But it wasn’t itchy.

The hub noticed it while I was making dinner, said it was pretty red. It was starting to itch a little.

I wouldn’t normally go to Urgent Care for a red, mildly-itchy rash, but I had been pretty tired and a little off for a couple of days and we were heading out of town in the morning.

I didn’t want to take something contagious with me.

The doc said it was shingles and that it isn’t contagious. I could, however, give chicken pox to anyone who hasn’t had them, but only if they come in direct contact with the rash.

So I packed the antiviral he prescribed, some Benadryl, in case it got really itchy and Motrin in case it started to hurt. Doc said he’d give me Norco if it got real bad.

Norco if it gets real bad?

God, I hope not.

I’ve heard stories, I’ve seen fear-mongering commercials.

We headed north Thursday morning as scheduled. First stop: Harbor Springs.

We walked the pier at twilight. Felt like a date.

Next morning we snubbed the hotel’s complimentary breakfast and went into town in search of something good. No offense to the lovely, hospitable hotel.

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High atop a hill sat Small Batch at the Cupola, with its welcoming porch.

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Oh. Linen tablecloths. This is going to be expensive.

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But the little cow creamer was cute.

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Flash-fried spinach is my new favorite thing.

The hub ordered a Hansel and Gretel Waffle – gingerbread waffle topped with a maple and peach syrup and a cinnamon cream. He gave me a bite. Oh. My.

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I had to snag this photo from their Facebook page to show you because his didn’t last long enough…

After breakfast we headed to Mackinac Island, taking the long, coast-hugging way so we could see the property on which my sister’s retirement dream house will soon be built; the final resting place for her ashes.

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Men arrived and began clearing trees.

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Arriving at the Island never loses its thrill.

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You (meaning me) can’t visit Mackinac Island without saying “hi” to John.

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John is the extraordinary father of my delightful niece, Mary.

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He’s also the Senior Vice President of the Grand Hotel. If you don’t know the Grand, click here. It’s quite special. If you’ve been reading my blog from the start you’ve been there before.

One of these days I’m going to interview John and tell you all about him. In the meantime, this is his bike.

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It’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Many who visit Mackinac Island never venture beyond the town, except to rent bikes and ride around the entire perimeter of the island.

I prefer the interior.

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I like to hike to Arch Rock.

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And check out the view.

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If you know anything about Mackinac Island, you know there are NO motorized vehicles (except an ambulance).

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It’s all horses, feet and bicycles.

After lunch we strolled along the boardwalk, strolled past John’s house.

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Browsed some shops. Bought some fudge.

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And caught the 5:30 ferry back to the mainland. That’s the Mighty Mac in the distance.

The hub wanted to show me something so we took another short detour on the way back to Harbor Springs.

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In a beautiful park-like setting behind a Catholic church in the middle of nowhere waits a magnificent bronze sculpture.

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It weighs 7 tons and is 28 feet tall from head to toe.

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Truly a site to behold. Love the glow of the late-day sun on the tip of the cross.

Back in Harbor Springs we prowled the streets looking for somewhere not-fancy for dinner.

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There was a bar on the corner, down by the water, with a note taped to its door: “Friday Fish Fry $10.99.”

As we stood inside waiting to be seated, the hostess asked if we were there for the fish.  The hub nodded. “I’ll save you one,” she said, “there are only 3 left.”

In the morning I took my complimentary envelope of oatmeal to go as we checked out of the hotel and went forth.

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Early morning coffee in Charlevoix.

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Lunch in Leland.

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I make friends with beagles wherever I go.

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This is Bella. And her mom.

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You (meaning me) can’t be on the Leelanau Peninsula without stopping at Karl’s aka Brisling Pottery.

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Who am I to disobey?

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Treasures in tow, we headed to the hub’s favorite Leelanau wineries.

I lost a round of miniature golf. Only because I’m sick.

And then over to the Mission Peninsula to check into our B & B.

Dinner was pizza at a picnic table at the old State Hospital grounds.

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Those are pickled pears julienned on that pizza. A little tangy and very tasty.

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Yes, we did go back for breakfast the next day. I mean, look at that stuff.

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Rain Man.

The final day of our get-away began with fruit, yogurt, peach and lavender jam on english muffins, pleasant conversation and a goodbye to our B & B hosts.

It was another weather-blessed day so why not head to the tip of the peninsula, to the lighthouse and climb to the top?

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On no-more-than-four-inch steps.

While I climbed and took photos, the hub struck up an over-the-fence conversation with a stranger. It was all about fishing Lake Charlevoix.

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Hey, why not stop at a couple more wineries on the way back down the peninsula?

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The vines were pregnant, ready to deliver.

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Harvest is this week.

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With the warm weather we’ve had, Chateau Chantal says 2016 is going to be a very good year. Keep that in mind when you buy Michigan wine.

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I can’t have any because I seem to have developed an allergy to sulfites.

But you go ahead. I’m going back to the Pleasanton Bakery. Yes, I did already have breakfast. So what?

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Pleasanton Bakery chocolate almond croissant + Higher Grounds brew of the day = good.

Some coffee shops charge $5 for a cafe miel and I pay it. But at Higher Grounds I buy a $2.75 cup of their daily brew and add the honey, cinnamon and cream myself. And it’s really good.

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As you know from a recent post, I love it when old things are re-purposed. That’s why I love the old State Hospital. The old asylum.

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I wonder what this building will be.

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The hub isn’t going to read this post. He’s going to think it’s way too long. But he wanted to show me one more thing as we headed home.

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He ignored the “Private Property, No Tresspassing” signs like he owned the place and drove me through the woods and onto the grounds of the Pere Marquette Rod and Gun Club. He’s been there fly fishing a couple of times with my brother-in-law, Mike. He’s going back again in a couple of weeks. He wanted to show me and that’s okay. I like show and tell.

Stopping for lunch in Clare on the way home is kind of a tradition. A tradition we haven’t kept in several years. Lunch at Bob’s Broasted Chicken in the Saturday Evening Post Bar.

Back when the rooster was white, you could feed a family of four for $20.

Now that he has a new paint job, it’s $14 for 2.

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This photo-bombing patron ought to be in church.

I don’t know if it was the broasted chicken or all the ground we covered, but the rest of the ride home was kinda’ rough.

Might have been a little too much fun for an old gray mare with shingles.

Rainy day today.

 

 

 

 

 

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Food, Jesus, Michigan

Sparkle and Roar & a February Fix

Sundresses, cotton skirts, khakis, good jeans and tidy shorts were streaming toward the Tabernacle. Our casual beach clothes were swimming against the current, heading for the beach.

“I’m starting to feel kinda’ like a heathen,” I whispered.

“I’m not,” she replied with confidence.

“It’s not so much that I feel like a heathen,” I corrected, “it’s more that I kinda’ feel like they might think I’m a heathen.”

“And I feel like I’m dissing my people by walking right past them.”

“Why?,” she asked. “You don’t care about ‘dissing your people’ any other Sunday.”

True, I thought, funny how I consider fellow Christians “my people” when I don’t know them, when I’m out of town.  They look so much shinier and friendlier as strangers. I think I just like the Christians I don’t know better than I like the Christians I do know.

“Maybe it’s not the people, maybe it’s the music, the call to worship. We’re walking right past the call to worship.”

“God is calling me to the beach,” she said with certainty as she steered me toward the path that leads to the lake.

In order to get on the path you have to walk right alongside the Tabernacle, with its open windows and full pews and wafting music.

The walk of shame.

“Must have been an intentional design,” I said, “back when the church was that way: ‘Sure you can go to the beach instead of to worship, but we see you. And we’re praying for you.’”

“Good, they can pray for me,” she quipped, “I’m going to go be dazzled by God.”

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And we were.

I recorded the surf for about five minutes. For a February fix, when it’s -2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here, you can have 35 seconds of it, in case you need it in February, too.

The sparkle and roar of the waves is as much a call to worship as any man-made song. I love the way the waves hit the beach and then scurry sideways along the shore.

After I made my movie,  I thumbed through a couple of books. My daughter, Stephanie, and I were away for the weekend on a personal retreat. The retreat center had a library, which was great because I forgot to pack something to read. If there had been WiFi or a decent cell signal, I would have read you, my blogging friends, but, alas, I borrowed a biography on Hudson Taylor and one on George Sweeting.

“Never suppress a generous impulse.” – George Sweeting

Every waitress and barista we encountered for the rest of the weekend benefited from that quote.

So did the panhandler and the street musician we encountered on Monday. Except it kind of bugged me afterward that I gave the same amount to both. I should have given the musician more. He, after all, was contributing something beautiful to my day.

We encountered a panhandler on Saturday, too, and I didn’t give him a dime. 1) I hadn’t yet been inspired by George 2) I felt no impulse toward generosity 3) He annoyed me.

I probably would have given him a dollar if he had just simply asked me to help him out. But he gave a long, annoying tale of woe about being from Chicago and being left by his buddies and it costs $15 for the megabus and his buddies were arrested in their hotel room and his story went on and on and changed as it went.

If we had been a scene in a movie, I would have held up my hand to stop him and said, “No, ‘cuz I’m not liking your vibe.”

But in real life I’m nicer so I just listened and nodded and, when he was finally finished, said, “Maybe I’ll have some change on the way back.” Knowing I wasn’t going that way back.

In real life I can be a tiny bit of a liar.

After spending the morning on the beach, we headed to town for lunch.

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lunch with legends

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Can you identify all four?

After lunch Steph ducked into a public restroom before our long walk through town, along the canal and out to the end of the pier.

She returned with a story:

Senior Lady 1: “I’m so glad I brought that chair with me, it puts NO pressure on your body.”

Senior Lady 2: “Oh yeah, when we walked over to the other bathrooms we saw those chairs everywhere.”

Senior Lady 1: “I didn’t want to be rude to Mary, but they only hold up to 250 pounds.”

Senior Lady 2: “She shouldn’t buy one.”

Restroom fell quiet for a minute.

All of a sudden one of the senior ladies started singing “Blessed Assurance” to herself in the stall.

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The pier at sunset on Saturday.

Sunday night we watched The Joy Luck Club on my laptop because there are no tvs on a personal retreat. I’m going to have to read the book now because I have unanswered questions.

I wondered whether there is some thing I should tell my daughter, something that will free her, show her her worth.

But I couldn’t think of anything.

It was beautiful in Grand Rapids on Saturday.

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That’s my lemongrass, rose, holy basil iced tea third seat from the left.

But it was really hot and steamy on Monday.

We thought it would be a little cooler along the river.

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It wasn’t.

We got coffee as soon as we arrived in GR Monday, right after putting our names in at our beloved Wolfgang’s.

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I don’t like coffee shops or restaurants that are new and shiny.

I like coffee shops and restaurants that are old and re-purposed.

And good.

There are so many good restaurants and coffee shops in Grand Rapids. Especially in Eastown.

If they ever re-purpose a bank or some other cool old building into a boutique hotel, we’re staying there. We’re going to park ourselves in Eastown for a whole weekend and merrily eat and drink coffee.

Back home now listening to the rumble of thunder in the distance and the soothing sounds of my sleeping beagle right next to me.

Hopefully the coming rain will cool things off a bit.

Life is good.

P.S. If you find yourself in western Michigan:

The Electric Cheetah

Madcap Coffee Company

Snug Harbor

Electric Hero

Hearthstone

The Sparrows Coffee, Tea & Newstand

Wolfgang’s

 

itsparklesmorethantwinkles

 

 

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life

Cake and Ice Cream

Back in June my daughter shared a bit of local news:

A woman drop-kicked a birthday cake at Kroger because it didn’t turn out as she imagined.

When they couldn’t fix it to her liking she pushed her way behind the bakery counter and attempted to fix it herself. She was then told she could not be in the food prep area so she took her cake, headed toward the front door and then… you know.

“They ruined my son’s birthday,” she yelled, as she stomped on the cake.

“Whoa!,” I commented, “There’s a lot more there to ruin that child’s birthday than the cake.”

Wound tight and wound cheap.

If your Batman vs. Superman cake HAS to be perfect in order for your 7-year-old’s birthday party to be anything but ruined, you order from Charm City Cakes, not Kroger.

Kroger prices and reasonable Kroger expectations do not warrant drop-kicking anything.

Charm City expectations and prices – airfare and all – do not warrant drop-kicking anything either for that matter. But disappointment would be understandable.

If your Batman vs. Superman cake HAS to be perfect in order for you to give the illusion that you are the perfect mom and/or the perfect birthday party thrower, then you need some perspective. And a very large chill pill.

We shrugged and laughed – another high maintenance customer. Sightings are frequent around here.

I chalked it up to a frayed rope; the straw that broke the camel’s back.

But today she is back in the news.

Last summer she smacked a worker in an ice cream parlor because they didn’t have the flavor she wanted. Just smacked and ran. No birthday party pressure that day. Stopping for an ice cream cone – alone – has got to be about as pressure free as it gets.

Eleven months later the manager of the ice cream shop read a newspaper article about the Kroger incident and recognized the assailant as the same woman from the attack in her shop.

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The look on her attorney’s face says it all.

You can see the ice cream surveillance tape here: Cake and ice cream.

What the heck?

I was in the customer service line at Walmart one day a few years ago. A man was trying to return a television set.  He had no box, just the TV- the old, heavy, hard-to-get-your-arms-around kind.

The young woman behind the counter explained that the TV could not take be returned because Walmart no longer sells that particular television – hasn’t for years.

The man did a lot of yelling, grabbed the TV off the counter and took a few steps toward the door.

Suddenly he turned, walked briskly back, flung the TV over the customer service counter while yelling, “It doesn’t do me any good if it doesn’t work!” and then stormed out.

I don’t know whether he was stopped on his way out or whether the very young customer service worker was too stunned to react, but he should have been. He should have been charged with disorderly conduct, with disturbing the peace – my peace – and for destruction of property.  He should have been made to sweep up the broken glass.

My friend, Helen, used to run impulse-control groups at a prison on Saturdays.  (Just imagine that for a minute – a woman alone in a room with a group of men who lack impulse control.)

According to her, lack of impulse control is a huge issue among inmates. Well, yeah.

At the bond hearing for the ice cream assault, the judge said the woman is not allowed to own a firearm or any sort of weapon.

So now I’m wondering a few things:

  1. At what developmental stage is impulse control acquired?
  2. What factors prevent acquiring it?
  3. Is there a test for impulse control – or lack thereof – that could be administered before the issuing of a gun license.  Not that those who lack impulse control would have the patience to apply for a gun license. Or the self-control to refrain from striking the person who denied it.

All this over cake and ice cream.

The world has gone mad.

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life

Iridescent Clouds

 

I borrowed this clip from Out of a Great Need the other day and posted it on Facebook with this note:

“I love Maya Angelou. I met her on a bus when I was a student at MSU. As soon as I boarded she motioned for me to come sit with her. I didn’t realize until years later who it was who spoke to me with such wisdom and caring. She has been one of the rainbows in my clouds.”

Then yesterday the hub and I saw two “rainbow clouds” when we were at the Farmers Market.

The hub commented, “I didn’t know God was psychedelic.”

“Apparently He is.”

I unloaded my stuff onto the hub so I could snap pictures with my phone.

The pics I took didn’t do them justice, but the clouds we saw looked a lot like the one in this photo – which I snagged from crisfulton.com.

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According to news.nationalgeographic.com, spotting them is rare:

Like common cloud-to-ground rainbows, iridescent clouds usually accompany thunderstorms. According to atmospheric phenomena expert Les Cowley, they often appear in the late afternoon, on very hot and humid days. This stems from the fact that most rainbow clouds form on top of cumulus clouds—the fluffy cotton-ball-shaped clouds we often see in children’s drawings.

“What happens is that the cumulus cloud, boiling upwards, pushes the air layers above it higher and higher,” Cowley explained. “As the air gets pushed upwards, it expands and cools. And sometimes moisture in that air suddenly condenses into tiny droplets to form a cap cloud.”

This “cap”—which scientists call a “pileus”—is the source of the brilliant spectacle.

“The droplets in the cap cloud scatter sunlight to form the gorgeous colors,” Cowley said.

Though the ingredients for rainbow clouds seem simple, they’re not spotted often, and are even less frequently photographed.

The iridescent clouds we saw yesterday were cirrus, not cumulus, and there wasn’t a thunderstorm in sight.

It was a gorgeous day with interesting cloud formations. White, puffy cumulus clouds were layered upon wispy cirrus clouds, which made them look like they were outlined in blue.

As we approached home the hub said, “The sky doesn’t look real.”

It didn’t. It looked like a painting.

Very cool sky. Very cool day.

Delicious burgers and Michigan corn on the cob for dinner.

#Godpaints

 

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