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Off the top

A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Friday, June 30, 2006

mystery plant

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I don't know what this plant is, but I thought the backlighting on the leaves was really cool.

I've gotta get a camera with a high enough ISO setting to get better depth of field. If I could add one thing to most of my photos, that's what it would be.

I suppose I could lug a tripod around too, then sometimes (in low wind situations, which don't ever seem to exist when I want to take pictures) I could get away with a slower shutter speed. But that's impractical most of the time -- oh well.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

All the pretty faces

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Well, I’ll get right to the point and ask my question: Why are the people pictured on the dust jackets of Christian books or in magazine advertisements for Christians products, organizations, or institutes for higher learning always so...good-looking?

Seriously, why picture only the elite of appearance?

What is being sold – a product, or an image? Are the advertisers subtly equating the value of the product with the supposed value of the beautiful appearance of the people pictured in the ad? Are they selling “romance”? “Read this book and dream you are gorgeous, with fab hair and an awesome life!” “Attend _____ college and (never mind our great programs) meet this hunk, or this amazing chick!” “Buy ____ insurance and make your life secure like this perfect-looking family!”

You could say I’m jealous; my looks certainly don’t qualify me for a commercial photo shoot. Not that I actually care to be pictured on a dust jacket or an ad for Christian health insurance (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But by using only really nice-looking people in supposedly Christian ads, these organizations are, in an auxiliary way, courting the flesh and hawking worldly appeal. They are provoking vanity and pride, not to mention all sorts of lusts.

Is this really what the kingdom of God is about?

Addendum: Internet Monk writes a post illustrating the broader context of my complaint in American Idolatry: The Good Life

Quote du jour

This one's good for every day.

Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.

But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Luke 6:26-28

playground bars 2 Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 26, 2006

dogwood, after the rain Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 24, 2006

What is beauty?

I propose some ideas at Intellectuelle.

On being antique

I got a good laugh out of a column by a local writer in our newspaper yesterday.

(Note: I’m probably not much younger than the mom who wrote the column, though my kids are not yet in their teens. I can relate to what she’s saying.)

Anita Lynn Brown spoke of the approach of the “golden years:”

My daughter was talking about her day in high school the other day and happened to mention the fact that she thought the desks in many of her classrooms must be ‘‘antiques.’’ Noting that she seemed dead serious, I asked the dreaded question, ‘‘Why?’’

‘‘Because there were the words ‘John Lennon RIP’ scratched on one of them.’’ I rebutted with another long question, ‘‘So?’’ ‘‘Well, John Lennon is really old and has been dead forever so the kid that wrote that must have been a student there a hundred years ago.’’

Her words hung in the air like lead. John Lennon? Old? I can vividly remember watching Monday Night Football with my brother...when Howard Cosell (another mastodon) said he was shot in New York City. It was 1980, 26 years ago. My daughter wasn’t even in my horoscope yet.

It’s hard to imagine, but to a 17 year-old, John Lennon is an antique. I’m not sure why this makes me feel more golden than green but one thing is certain — time is going way too fast.

When Paul McCartney took the stage at Super Bowl XXXIX last year, my daughter said, ‘‘I know it’s Super Bowl 39, but why do we have to listen to 39-year-old music?’’ A good point, but to me, it seemed thrilling to see the old boy still rocking and rolling. He no longer has to fake the question, ‘‘Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?’’ He is 64. In my daughter’s eyes, he was just old. I can still remember the poster of Sir Paul hanging in my bedroom, how long ago was that? Let’s not think about it. Can you hear those bones creaking again?

It was even worse when Mick Jagger and the Stones sang ‘‘Satisfaction’’ at this year’s Super Bowl. My son said, ‘‘This guy’s like a hundred and he’s singing a Britney Spears song!’’ The generation gap is looking more like the Grand Canyon everyday.

(Yeah, I saw Jagger too, for the whole 10 seconds I could stand it; I thought he looked and sounded every bit as grotesque as he did when I was a teenager!)

It’s hard to imagine pop artist Britney Spears singing at Super Bowl 85 dropping her dentures for the fifth time and singing, ‘‘Oops, I Did it Again,’’ but someday it’ll happen.


I hope that my grandchildren will be there to say, ‘‘Wow, is she like a hundred?’’

My family owns a ‘73 Saab 96. It’s a fun little “vintage” car and people often comment on it. The other day I overheard my younger son telling someone, “yeah, it’s like from 1920 or something; it’s really, really old!” I decided this was a homeschool mathematics “teachable moment” and asked him, afterward, to figure out just how old the car is. When he got the answer, he stood there for a moment, then his eyes opened wide and he said, “’re older!! I then rubbed in the lemon juice and said, “OK, how old was I when this car was made?” When he realized I was almost as old then as his older brother is now, his eyes got even wider.

But then, bless him, he said, “Well, Mom, you’re kind of old, but not really old.”

*sigh* That’s my boy.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Silly quote for the day

Why do we say "after dark" when it's really "after light"?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

daisies Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

twister slide Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 19, 2006

playground bars Posted by Picasa

Saturday, June 17, 2006

beluga beguine

A couple days ago I posted photos of the killer whales at Marineland Ontario. Here are some of the belugas.

Had trouble with focus (not just the camera's ;-)) and missed some close-ups. These views will do.

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Friday, June 16, 2006

hanging basket Posted by Picasa

Thursday, June 15, 2006

restaurant interior

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This is the view opposite the one pictured yesterday (of the fan curtain).

At first I was bummed that I didn't get the window lined up with the edges of the frame, but now I kind of like the off-kilter effect.

Below is the same shot in black and white.

restaurant interior B&W Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

fan shade

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This curtain of sorts shaded a lovely lunch I enjoyed with my husband a few days ago at, not a Chinese restauraunt, but a wings joint (Buffalo wings, that is.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The happy orca

Yesterday the kids, some friends, and I had the pleasure of visiting Marineland Ontario in temperate weather with no crowds at all. Talk about nice.

Nowhere else in the world can you get so up close and personal with killer whales, beluga whales, seals, and land creatures such as black bear and red deer. Not to mention some other type of deer (never found out what) that crowded us in droves, chewed up my map of Marineland and made our $2.00 cupfuls of deer food vanish in less than 10 seconds. But you can watch the whales from only a few feet away as they are fed by trainers and coaxed into displays of leaping, wave-making, "singing," and other antics.

Also impressive is the dolphin/sea lion/walrus show. Its use of booming techno-disco (or whatever it was) music is unfortunate, but the feats that these animals perform are pretty entertaining.

From the underwater observation area, the whales can be seen gracefully arching, twisting, cavorting, and even hot-dogging. Some appeared to come up and pose for pictures! Unfortunately I wasn't in the front of the group that got to take those pictures. But when I had the chance, I grabbed a few shots of my own.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Chautauqua Creek Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 09, 2006

Dashed-off "hello reader" letter

Not that you don't deserve better, but it's been so long since I've actually written something at this blog that I'm seeking to remedy that, even if to do nothing but blather. My head's a veritable hive (never mind the wig); lots of stuff in there swarming about with no apparent form. I should spend less time reading other blogs and do more writing, I suppose; perhaps the room would stop spinning.

But man, there's so much good stuff out there and I'm finding more all the time. Also realizing that the blog market itself has both improved and...become glutted. It's impossible to compete. Successful blogging is a discipline in itself, and if a person just wants to do it as a leisure sport, without a good deal of organization or consistent content, there's probably not much hope of gaining readers.

Not to mention that, without a niche, it's nigh impossible to blog "successfully" unless one has lots of time to devote to it or its content flows out of one's daily life and work.

The trouble is, most of the things I'm interested in don't have much to do with my daily life. Except that much of my daily life is spent thinking about them. But I don't have the time to devote to proper exploration or quality research.

Not that I'm not interested in nor think about my daily life, mind you, but my daily life is task-oriented. I don't really know how to blog about that, nor can I imagine that anyone would want to read about it. Those who can blog this way and who do it well, though, I admire greatly.

I'm also noticing that people with quality blogs upgrade them with beautiful layouts and great features, or else their content is so strong that the blog's appearance is of less importance. Well, I'd love to give this little blog a makeover but the thought of the time and effort that would require makes me want to dive under my chair (which itself is about collapse -- can anyone recommend a good computer chair?) Considering that I'm seriously technologically-challenged, I'd rather just keep chugging along!

Guess I'm kind of into emergent-blogging; not emergent-church blogging, but blogging without creed; just bein' me :-).

Well, to anyone reading this, I hope that you are finding true Meaning in life and thank you for visiting this little corner of the blogosphere. Godspeed.


ash trunk and branches Posted by Picasa

ash trunk & branches 2 Posted by Picasa

Which of these 2 photos do you like better, and why?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

shagbark hickory 3 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

shagbark hickory Posted by Picasa

shagbark hickory 2 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Captain Jack's Posted by Picasa

bait shop and restaurant at Long Point Marina on Chautauqua Lake, NY

Monday, June 05, 2006

Which theologian are you?

You scored as Martin Luther. The daddy of the Reformation. You are opposed to any Catholic ideas of works-salvation and see the scriptures as being primarily authoritative.

Martin Luther
John Calvin
Karl Barth
Jonathan Edwards
J�rgen Moltmann
Charles Finney
Friedrich Schleiermacher
Paul Tillich

Which theologian are you?
created with

HT: Blogotional

Sunday, June 04, 2006

mayapple 2 Posted by Picasa

Carry-on luggage: Psalm 121

I am starting a new series of sorts which I will call for now, for lack of something better, "Carry-on luggage." (At first I called it "Back to basics" but then realized someone else was already using that phrase. Oops. I'm open for suggestions though.) Why "carry-on luggage?" Because that's where we put our essentials when we're traveling. So much of blogging and any other Christian endeavor can become about the endeavor itself rather than the God it is supposedly for, at least for me, especially if the endeavor supplants what ought to root it, i.e., a relationship with God through prayer and meditation upon Scripture that is founded upon Christ. We must make sure that we "bring along," and rely on, the essentials of Christian faith when embarking upon any enterprise.

It is simple things that ground me: a Psalm, a great hymn, or other nugget that distills the gospel and draws me back to the Lord's bosom. Today I am reminded of the Source of my peace by Psalm 121. May it bring you peace also:

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains
From whence shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.
The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.


Saturday, June 03, 2006


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Friday, June 02, 2006

maple leaves 4 Posted by Picasa

maple leaves 3 Posted by Picasa