Friday, April 25, 2008

Resilience (or Ruth's Revenge)

So first thing after they moved in
the neighbors dug up Ruth’s old garden,
a front-yard oddity that had appeared —
shaggy, extravagant, sprawling — wherever
her springtime sweat cast its charms.

The new people pulled out
her spindly jungle of asparagus; tore up
the nasturtium border whose sensuous petals,
like mangoes, you could pluck and eat;
they hacked down six-foot sunflowers;

mowed over silky native grasses that flowed
on breezy days like a woman’s hair.
The little paw-paw tree they decided to keep.
They mowed around it.

Grinning and waving at us as we strolled by,
they spent a hot September weekend
digging and seeding, laying straw,
staking off squares of flat, potential decency.

The straw muddied, winds came,
snow fell then melted, the weather warmed,
and Ruth’s earth took its revenge:

A hundred tulips shot up
in the feeble spring lawn,
raising first their cocked leaves,
then their green, defiant heads.

(c) 2008 Debra Rienstra

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Pitter-Patter of Little Paws

It's been a whole week now and we're still giddy with the excitement of adding a new member to the Rienstra family: an adorable little canine fuzz-ball. Yep, last Monday we adopted a puppy.

She is a yellow Lab on the mom's side, and on the dad's side... well, let's just say there's a suspicion a Retriever was involved, but as sometimes happens with these situations, no one's entirely sure. Whatever stock she's from, she's loaded up with the "cute" gene.

Though I was initially lobbying for some clever/geeky professor-type name (Ophelia or Egeria or something like that), wiser family members insisted on something plainer. After much palavering, we settled on Maizey, not after the illustrated mouse, but as a nod to our alma mater.

So far she's super sweet and gentle, at least most of the time. She does have what we call her "crazy Maizey" moments, especially late at night, when she bounces around, chewing anything small, clamping onto loose socks and thrashing them into submission. But as a typical puppy, she also has her "lazy Maizey" times when she curls up in her crate -- or in someone's lap -- and nods off after a loving look and a little lick on the cheek.

We don't have much animal experience, but we've puppy-proofed the house, are reading lots of relevant books, and projecting our best calm-assertive energy.

Welcome to the pack, Maizey!

Friday, April 04, 2008

A Little Dating Advice

Mia turns 15 this week. That means driver's training, obsessive Facebooking, ipod-assisted parent ignoring, and (*gulp*) boys. Fortunately, the giddy terrors of dating remain, for Mia, largely unexplored as of yet. This is giving us time to slap together some parental wisdom on this perennially puzzling topic, filled as it is with risks, with unknowns, with new life and new civilizations.

Not being experts on dating ourselves*, we figure we need to consult the source of our most valuable life-wisdom: Star Trek. (Sample: never beam down to the planet while wearing a red shirt!)

Wesley Crusher, for instance, the ST character in the tender teenage demographic, has a couple of alarming encounters with "young women" who are not what they seem to be. In fact, many a promising space romance has been cut brutally short by some groaner of a revelation. Picard, Riker, Kirk, Bev Crusher, Troi, Jake Sisco--just about every starfleet character with a smidge of libido has discovered that love can bring, shall we say, unexpected challenges.

As with so many things in life, a lot of these complications could be avoided with some careful screening beforehand. So here we present the "Wesley Crusher Pre-Date Quiz." All Rienstra children will be required to administer this quiz to all interested parties before anybody backs out the driveway.
  • Are you now or have you ever been a being of pure energy?

  • Are you a psychic projection, a transporter reflection, or a sophisticated hologram?
  • Are you a shape-shifter? (this does not necessary disqualify you)

  • Are you ferociously guarded by a shape shifter? (this does disqualify you)
  • If we innocently kiss, will I be impregnated by your alien spawn?
  • Do you reproduce in some unexpected way that you really should inform me of right now?
  • Are you a symbiont being, and if so, do both your parts agree in their affection for me?
  • Do you only like me because I'm the first thing you saw when you emerged from your maturity pod? (this doesn't necessarily disqualify you, either).
  • Do you, in fact, exist at this point in the space-time continuum?
Of course, in addition to this filtering system, all would-be suitors will also be required to cite, from memory, the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism. Let's see Wesley's space girlfriends do that.

*By the way, not being dating experts and being Star Trek experts -- total coincidence!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ream o' Fun

Yes, there have been some cobwebs accumulating on this blog, and now it's time to explain the neglect and brush the cobwebs aside (thanks for the metaphor, Mary).

After about three years of labor (sure, let's have another metaphor) we have at last managed to give birth to the manuscript of a book. It may or may not end up being called Worship Words: Attending to the Power of Language in Songs, Prayers, Sermons, and All of Worship. The good people at Baker will make the final decision on title. But it is a book about language in worship, and it has indeed been a collaborative effort.

Now that we've finished it (and quick--before it comes back to us for formatting decisions, proofreading, permissions fuss, etc.), it feels good to move on with life and maybe get back to all the other things that we have been neglecting. Such as blogging, raising the children, and even brushing the very real cobwebs out of the corners of our scruffy house.