My favorite picture from our trip to Mt. Angel Abbey:
I was talking to my grandfather about how I don’t like to fly, and he laughed and said that I should have seen air travel back in his day — especially where he lived! He spent most of his adult life working in Mexico and Colombia, and he and my grandmother would occasionally fly between the two countries to visit friends.
He said that they’d often go through storms that bounced the plane around so hard that they got bruises from the seatbelts. And the pilots used these commercial passenger flights to train new copilots, so sometimes they’d turn off an engine in mid-flight just to see how the trainee would react.
But here was the best one: my grandfather once took a trip with a friend of his who owned a small single-engine plane. On the flight (a Pan-Am airliner), the guy went into the cockpit to chat with the pilots…and then, a few minutes later, my grandfather sees both the pilot and the copilot come out and sit down to have a Coke with the stewardesses! They thought it might be nice to let him try to fly it for a while.
Next time I feel stressed by a little turbulence on a flight, I will definitely think of those stories and remember that it could be a lot worse.
Yesterday I took the kids to a local farm/petting zoo place. I got them all excited about seeing the “freaky bugs” exhibit, and we eagerly entered the darkened room full of glass boxes. I quickly realized, however, that one of the downsides of living in this kind of house (other than, you know, the obvious ones) is that exotic bug exhibits are pretty anticlimactic for my kids. “That’s like the one we saw on the porch, ” my son said nonchalantly, pointing to a brightly-colored centipede in a display case.
Large roaches, scorpions, gigantic “redhead” centipedes, lizards, wasps, tarantulas, big barn spiders — they all make appearances around here, sometimes in our living room. Our house is the exotic bugs exhibit.
I think that we, as a society, need to start a tradition of making every Monday “Check Your Spam Filter” day. I’ve recently had some exasperating miscommunications with people because emails from me got snagged in their junk mail folders: a blog reader with an important, urgent question thought I didn’t reply; I missed getting a good babysitter because she never saw my email; and, worst of all, a potential adoptive family had been interested to hear more about our Kidsave child, and by the time they saw my lengthy, enthusiastic reply weeks later (that I’d sent only hours after I received their email), they’d already moved on to another opportunity (though, luckily, there is another family interested now).
And, yes, it does keep me up at night to know that these are only the spam filter fiascoes that I found out about!
Okay, grammar people, I have a question for you: how do you state a universally true concept when it’s revealed as part of a past-tense story? For example, imagine that this is an excerpt from a novel that’s written entirely in the past tense:
The morning after his eye surgery, he stood at the door, looked around, and realized for the first time that the sky was blue.
Or would it be…
The morning after his eye surgery, he stood at the door, looked around, and realized for the first time that the sky is blue.
(The difference is whether the second-to-last word would be was or is.) I know that there are various ways to avoid the issue by writing in the present tense or phrasing the whole thing differently, but I’d be interested to know which of the two above sentences is correct. Or is it one of those things that’s simply a matter of personal preference?
A few of you asked how I made that bulletin board with used corks that I mentioned last week. Well, I went to Home Depot and had them cut custom lengths of wood for the frame. Then I sanded them, and…kidding. My dad gave us this cork board kit for Christmas (which made a great gift, by the way). It was so easy: we just glued the corks onto the ready-made board.
The other day I was in the “cry room” at church with the super-fussy baby and a grouchy toddler. I was really tired and irritable; to be honest, it was one of those days when I wouldn’t say “I went to Mass” as much as I’d say “I survived Mass.”
It occurred to me that I must look like the most unhappy person in the world, and probably not a very good Christian to boot since I had a scowl on my face all through the Mass. A man in the cry room looked over at my motley crew a few times, presumably to express his irritation at the baby’s whining, which only made me sulk and scowl even more. After the final blessing he approached us, and I braced myself for him to say something about the kids’ behavior. But what he said was far worse…in fact, perhaps, the worst thing a person could say to me on a bad day at church: “Do you have a blog called Conversion Diary?”
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