"" Writer's Wanderings: January 2005

Monday, January 31, 2005

The Late Mr. Robbins

Long before the do-not-call list, the privacy manager, the caller ID and the answering machine, I was forced to answer the telephone while making dinner. There was a rule in our home that dinner would be on the table at 6 p.m. and everyone needed to be there at 6 sharp or run the risk of missing dinner. I'm not sure if the rule was more for the kids or for my husband who would allow himself to get sidetracked with one last phone call at work and be late for dinner.

One night the hands of the clock began to slip farther away from the six o'clock hour. The kids were very quiet, relishing the fact that they were on time and Dad was late. (Did I mention this was all before car and cell phones, too?) He hadn't called from work to say he'd be late so I was slowly becoming a bit agitated but that was tempered by a bit of anxiety wondering if there had been an accident.

Then, the phonse rang.

"Mrs. Robbins?"

"Yes," I answered wondering to myself if this were the dreaded phone call from the police or the hospital.

"First of all," the caller continued, "I'd like to extend my condolences to the family of the late Mr. Robbins."

My heart began pumping harder. I grabbed my forehead and turned my back to the kids.

"I'm calling from the XYZ Monument company to see if we can be of help in choosing the perfect headstone for Mr. Robbins."

I laughed. It must have really confused my telemarketer. "Mr. Robbins is only late for dinner," I said, "But you might try back later."

Friday, January 28, 2005

The Lone Sneaker

There it was in the middle of four lanes of traffic--the lone sneaker--sitting forlornly on the cold pavement waiting to tell its story. How does one sneaker find itself in the middle of a street separated from its mate?
  • It was tossed out the window as a joke by a passing car full of teens
  • It held on to the roof of the car where someone had rested it while they opened the door and then finally fell off exhausted, bouncing across the asphalt until finally coming to rest against the median strip (the mate fell off earlier)
  • A dog, thinking it great fun to tease his master, ran off with it in his mouth only to become confused by the traffic and dropped his prize in the middle of the street

So many possibilities stream through the mind when you wonder how one lone sneaker can end up in the middle of the street. But wait--perhaps the sneaker chose to sit there and watch life fly by speculating on where all the cars are going.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Cyber Dependency

Whew! It has been almost two days without internet service. I didn't fully realize my dependencey until I began experiencing withdrawal pains. My entire morning routine changed.

Not only could I not check my email, I could not see my kids on line. We have instant messenger and even though they may not be online or may be posted as away, they are still there before me. I can tell when Ron gets to work. He pops onto my screen at about 8 a.m. It's kind of like mothering him again. I can smile and know that he made it to school, I mean work, on time.

Andy pops in and out during the day depending on his schedule but I can tell he's moving about and not sleeping in. (It's that mother thing again.) His wife Aya will pop onto the IM and I imagine that she is posting pictures of our precious, and at times precocious, granddaughter. I begin to look forward to that visit to her website to see what Kotomi's been up to.

Lori, Ron's wife, will occasionally greet me when she see me on IM in the morning. A lot depends on the little whirlwinds in her life and what her morning is like. If Danielle or Tyler are around, the IMing can get a little garbled as little hands try to help out.

Now, if I could just get Rob and Leah to cooperate and come on line...hmm maybe they're just hiding out.

I am so glad to be back. It can get lonely out there without "Cyber Space".

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Beating "Depression" Day

Yesterday was supposed to be, according to psychologists and news media, the most depressing day of the year. It's a time when the holidays have passed, everything is put away and the bills are beginning to come in. Add to that the cold, wintry, gray weather and long dark nights of much of the country and the mix can be quite depressing.

I spent the day with some writer friends having a delicious hot bowl of French onion soup and a salad and great conversation. There is nothing better for defeating depression than having like-minded people with whom to share joys, fears, accomplishments, struggles, and encouragement. We call ourselves the "Barnabas Girls". (Barnabas was the great encourager in the New Testament.)

Now I am ready to face the next seven weeks of winter, unless of course the gray days continue and the groundhog doesn't see his shadow. Then there will only be seven weeks until spring. It's all in how you look at it. Thanks to the Barnabas Girls, it's not looking too bad right now.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Musical Sound Bites

There's a new trend in worship music today. It's moved away from the old hymns and into the realm of what seems like "musical sound bites". They are choruses made up of phrases that for the most part don't tell any story. They are meant to praise or invite God into your life. They don't say a lot about how or why. I'm sure they are meant to be simple but I've never found it easy to read the words on a projection screen and follow someone's voice instead of following musical notes. Even if you don't know how to read music, you would at least know when your voice is supposed to go up or down.

In today's hurried and media blitzed world we have learned to compartmentalize and extract only that which we think will influence. The sound bite is the tool of the spin doctor. We're told that this is how the new generation receives their information. We used to call something like that Cliffs Notes. The sound bite is even shorter. Can you imagine reducing Moby Dick to a couple of sound bites? Or how about Gone With The Wind? The Bible?

A friend of ours calls the new choruses the 7-11 songs--seven words repeated eleven times. Not too unlike the convenient store chain, we can pop into church and pick up just the needed items and be out in a jiffy rather than shopping through the larger grocery store and seeing what else might satisfy the hunger.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

DaVinci's Last Supper

This past June, I had the opportunity of seeing DaVinci's fresco, The Last Supper, in Milan. I purposely did not read Brown's DaVinci Code before going to Europe so that I might view the work with fresh eyes.

We arrived at our appointed time. (See my website www.karenrobbins.com/milan for more information). A few minutes and two special entrance chambers later, we were ushered into a dimly lit room that was a huge dining hall at one time. Against the back of the wall was the famous work. It has been touched up so many times it is difficult to say what is still the original. The basic work is still there however.

The astounding thing was how the perspective in the picture led your eye to Jesus who was in the center. After seeing so many churches and cathedrals with the emphasis on the saints they were named for, I found it refreshing to see a picture that centered on Jesus. The muted colors of the fresco were beautiful. I stood there just drinking in the history and the artistic talent that had created it.

The question arises, now that I have read the book by Brown, what/who is the artist creating his work for when he is crafting his piece? Paintings were usually commissioned and the artist made his money by painting for his patron. Is it the patron? Is it the beholder (I still believe the beauty is in the eye of the beholder)? Are we to interpret the work as we, the viewer, see it?

If that last question is the case, I did not see anything but a beautiful work of art featuring Jesus and his disciples at their last meeting before his crucifixion. There were no hidden V's. I did not notice any knives pointed the wrong direction, etc. What is found there is found by those who are trying to look beyond a piece of artwork.

Mr. Brown has done a wonderful job of putting together historical facts, suppositions, and theories and weaving them into a piece of fiction. Soon to follow, the movie moguls will weave that fiction into a screenplay and put it on the big screen. The interest will rise again. The discussions will ensue. And, hopefully, Mr. Brown will profit from the movie rights.

I can't help but wonder if DaVinci were able to know the hulabaloo his work has caused, if he wouldn't just chuckle and say, "It was only a painting, people." That's my theory.

[Check out the information at The DaVinci Code: The Biblical Response]

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Surviving Winter

The snow is falling slower today. The flakes are a little bigger and I can almost say it's pretty. Almost. You guessed it. I am not a winter-fun-in-the-cold-and-snow person.

The bears have a good way of passing the winter. Find a cozy cave, curl up, and go to sleep. When the first signs of spring begin to warm the earth again, you stretch, open your eyes, and come out into the warmth of the sun.

But maybe the birds do it better--at least the smart ones. They fly south for the winter. Warm breezes, plenty of berries, the sound of the surf, steel drum music...Oh! Excuse me, I was daydreaming.

Unfortunately I am neither bird nor bear. Time for another cup of hot chocolate and some garden catalogs to pour over. Please, Spring, don't be late!!

Friday, January 14, 2005


I have a cold. It's the third one this season. I kept thinking that somehow I was reinfecting myself with the same one but I learned the other day that there are around 200 different cold viruses. Once you get one, you are immune to that strain but not protected from the others. Optimistically, I only have 197 more to go to be "cold free".

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


We were aboard the Queen Mary II when the news came of the great disaster in Southern Asia. The staff arranged for a short memorial the following Sunday at the beginning of the interdenominational service to remember those who had lost their lives and those who were struggling to put lives back together. Collection boxes were arranged near the Purser's office and at the doors leading into the theater where the service was held.

The service began with a 10 minute video of bits and pieces from the CNN news reports we had been receiving by satellite TV. It was quiet in the theater as people tried to absorb the immensity of the tragedy. We had a moment of silence then Commodore Warwick led the service that followed.

Near the end of the service was the Lord's prayer. As we began to recite, my mind began to review the pictures we had seen. "Thy will be done..." I trembled. "...On earth..." Was this God's will? Certainly the power of all that had happened was in His control. "...As it is in Heaven." I suddenly felt relieved. While there was certainly a great tragedy in the tsunami, there was also hope in a God and a Heaven. His power is great. His grace is greater.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Writing On The Wall

We have just returned from a lovely vacation. It started with a weekend in Miami visiting our son and daughter-in-law. We had breakfast at their favorite place and while we waited for our order, I began looking at the plaques on the wall. Two caught my eye and I wrote the sayings down:

Good morning. This is God. I will be handling all your problems today. I will not need your help. So, have a good day. I love you.

And the second:

Shopping with your husband is like hunting with the game warden.

Both sayings can be appropriately applied to my life.
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