Monday, January 31, 2005


Ok, I can't resist posting a link to this bicycling humor. That isn't the original version of the picture, but I like the added Oscar Meyer logos.

Friday, January 28, 2005

being seen

My favorite book on healing ministry, Healing in the Landscape of Prayer
by Avery Brooke, stresses how important it is that people providing healing ministry understand that they are simply a conduit for God's action, not trying to do something by their own power or knowledge. It struck me today that it goes the other way as well. The person providing healing ministry also provides a conduit by which God sees the suffering of the person seeking healing (or at least by which I experience that God sees my pain). I know I need to experience from a person first the deep caring I didn't get in my childhood before I can take in that God gives me that.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


I went to swimming yesterday expecting humiliation. I had asked my husband to stop by a swim meet in town over the weekend and buy me flippers, and he forgot. So we had been told to bring flippers, and I only had the ones I use for snorkling, which are longer and less flexible than the ones swimmers use for training. And we needed flippers because we were going to work on the butterfly, which I never learned as a kid.

It turned out ok. The coach said my flippers would do for now (and the new ones I ordered arrived late yesterday). We started working on the butterfly kick on our backs, and at first it seemed impossible. But then I got the feel of it, and it is actually rather cool. Because you move your legs together it feels like being a dolphin.

Sunday, January 23, 2005


I spent the weekend at a retreat at the Convent of St. Helena on prayer and healing. Several years ago I went to a workshop on healing that came more out of the charismatic wing of the Episcopal Church, and they were much more confident of what they were about. This one was more scattered, but there was a lot to think about. An interesting place to be when I am in a time of inner change (and physical change).

This week is the third anniversary of the death of my friend Ruth Farrell. She needed the support of the church, and her church couldn't cope. I'm looking into giving the convent a squirrel feeder in her memory. Sister Clare, who is 97, loves watching the squirrels.

In May 2000 Ruth wrote:

Out of something like despair -- also frustration trying to fit the things I made for B. into the refrigerator -- I mixed up a mud-pie mess from some of the special (and pricey) flours I bought when Dr. S. told me she wasn't eating wheat anymore...before she told me she was, in fact, eating only quinoa flour. I threw in some caraway and sesame seeds that I suspect might be stale. And I'm baking this mess up for the squirrels, who I hope will eat it.

A few hours later she wrote:

They haven't touched it yet. But that may just mean they haven't found it. I don't put food out regularly -- the occasional burnt cookies or fallen cake -- so they don't hang out, though they mostly find what I've left.

Several days later she wrote:
I have, this morning, made another squirrel cake, with a bag of expensive, mail-ordered chick pea flour. This shelf-full of alternative grains that she rejected almost as soon as they arrived is seeming to represent all that I wish for from her and can't ever get or count on... The squirrels like it fine.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

it gets confusing

One of the interesting things about trying to train for a triathlon is that three sports are more than my mental patterning can keep track of. Saturday I got back on my bicycle after not riding since Tuesday and the pattern felt so strange for a few minutes. This morning I ran after two days off and it took me three laps of the track before I got into the flow of it (and I only do 5 laps).

And then there is trying to figure out swimming. I had heard the idea of breathing every three strokes but that just seemed unrealistic for me. I assumed three strokes was right left right left right left. But the coach explained it to me yesterday--each arm counts as a stroke--so it means breathing on one side then on the other. I can't imagine coordinating that; I can't really manage breathing on the other side at all.

Definitely keeps me from getting bored.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

31 degrees

Friday, January 14, 2005

science vs. technology

It is so hard to get my students past their assumption that science and technology are the same thing. I tried today to talk about pure science, but only a few could imagine that some scientists just want to know how the universe works, aren't working towards some practical goal. They also think of science as any knowledge of the natural world, so someone building a waterwheel must be using physics because they are using their knowledge of gravity. I told them I am interested in a change that took place when technology began to be based on formal science. A student came up to me after class and said he wasn't convinced that that was a major change; I wasn't giving colonial Americans enough credit for using their knowledge of the world to develop new technology.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

swimming again

It was so much easier going back the second time at least knowing where to go and having a little bit of a routine. Sometimes I just couldn't keep track of everything--if I paid attention to kicking fast and putting my hands in the water in the right direction I forgot to watch for the flags that warned me of the end of the lane (that was the backstroke so I didn't even need to worry about coordinating my breathing at the same time). Sometimes when I was swimming freestyle it would begin to come together for a few strokes and then I would get a mouthful of water and stop, sputtering. I realized afterwards swimming requires coordination, unlike bicycling or running. But I have a sense of making a little progress, so I have hope.

One of the swimmers is an organizer of a local group of women training for triathlons (someone told me they range in age from 24 to 52). So now I need to get their schedule.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

being a beginner

I grew up in a family where much importance was given to kids learning all the key skills (swimming, riding a bike...) because you had to learn those things as a kid, adults didn't learn new skills. After the age of about 12, you weren't supposed to participate in sports or arts unless you were talented, or if it was a recreational sport not only had decent skills but knew proper etiquette as well.

While I enjoy long swims in lakes and the ocean, I've almost literally never swum laps in a pool. When I was a child a swim teacher came to our house once a week all summer and we learned swimming skills from our dock on a salt water inlet. I did learn the basics of different strokes, but I haven't had any instruction in swimming since I was maybe 10. As a young adult I figured out for myself a way to swim more slowly so I could keep going for 1/4 mile or more. I have enjoyed that kind of swimming now and then ever since, mostly swimming the crawl with my face always out of the water (partly so I can see where I am going).

So going to Clemson Aquatic Team's masters swim group this morning was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I knew in advance my swimming technique was all wrong, and I knew I didn't know the etiquette. But I was determined--I got half way there and realized I had forgotten my bag but even knowing I would be late I didn't back out.

The coach and the three other people swimming this morning were friendly. I did have to share a lane with someone, and after I nearly ran into her she told me what to do (stay on one side). Some of the time I swam one lap to the other people's two, but that seemed to be ok. What the coach was teaching wasn't utterly over my head, and I did at least make progress over the course of the hour in being able to swim comfortably with my head in the water. It was a struggle at first and I breathed a lot of water--it is a shock to swim in fresh water after swimming in salt water over the vacation and I must be significantly less buoyant after losing 55 lbs (since Nov. 2003). I've ordered prescription goggles but they haven't come yet; I felt so at a loss not being able to see (from my goggles fogging up as well as from how nearsighted I am).

By the end I was near tears feeling humiliated by struggling to do something I wasn't good at. I felt like I was slowing everyone up, though I wasn't. I know rationally it is ok to be a beginner but the messages in my head that it is not are so strong. I'm determined to get past that; I want to be able to do new things. Part of what got me into running and then into the idea of doing a triathlon was wanting to embrace being a beginner and do things I had never done before.

After the swimming I took my son to school and then had an appointment and then I went for a bike ride of a little over an hour to burn off some of the feelings. I was blessed that when I got back I found an email from the woman who had originally told me about the group, welcoming me. I told her I would be back Thursday.

Monday, January 10, 2005

vacation ending

I'm not ready. Classes begin Wednesday. I spent this morning visiting a possible school for my son for next year--he has been accepted to Christ School in Arden NC but we also want to explore the closest thing to a local alternative (a dayschool 45 minutes away). I did stop and buy myself new running shoes. I am psyched because they have more cushioning and might help my hip problem (I've been running one mile 3 times a week but with enough soreness I've been hesitant to increase the distance). I have to leave early this afternoon to take my son to pick up new glasses and get a haircut.

Actually, I did take advantage of the glorious weather over the weekend--rode my bike almost two hours Saturday and two and a half hours Sunday. If I don't wimp out of getting up in time to be there at 5:45 am, I'm going to try the local masters swim group tomorrow morning to start working on my swimming to prepare for the Clemson Triathlon.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

home again

This is from our visit to the rain forest in Puerto Rico. Vieques was beautiful but with all the complications of a little-developed island--we left a day early when our house ran out of water (actually, there was a second cistern for when the first one was empty but the pump failed). The most spectacular thing we saw was un-photographable--a bioluminescent bay. In the dark of the moon we paddled kayaks out into the bay and then swam, stars streaming from our arms when we raised them from the water. We could see the glowing trails of fish swimming by.