Monday, February 23, 2009


I had to use a typewriter the other, to fill in a form at work.

It was both pleasing and agitating. I learned to type on a typewriter. The very same model I used the other day, in fact. It feels quite productive to sit and hear your words hammered out the way a blacksmith is able to ring out his labor in ear-thrilling echoes.

On the other hand, though I'm a good typist, I was embarrassed at myself for needing the corrective tape so frequently: Microsoft Word has spoiled me.

In other words, this is not the only place I write. I write at home, and I write at work, and sometimes I don't write, but I do type on a typewriter. (Have you ever typed on a manual typewriter? Now that is the verbal extension of a blacksmith: rather like driving without power steering.)

Here is a sheaf of pages I've written elsewhere - sans the copyright form I rat-a-tat-tatted out on the Smith Corona XE1950.

Self-Denial in a Recession: Observing Lent During Lean Economic Times, by Elizabeth Glass-Turner. (It is also on the homepage, under the "Lent" section.)

Mercy Ministries: Healing Hospitality. An interview with Nancy Alcorn, by Elizabeth Glass-Turner.

From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An interview with Dr. Sandra Richter, by Elizabeth Glass-Turner.

Gifted Leads the Way: A review of Nancy Beach's new book, by Elizabeth Glass-Turner.

Handcrafted Hope, by Elizabeth Glass-Turner

To order hard copies of the magazines featuring these interviews, articles, and more, call 1-800-487-7784.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's Your Bedtime Routine?

Sometimes I start conversations in the middle, without warning. Like now.

So what IS your bedtime routine? I always feel more well-adjusted, more content, more at ease when I have routine. Then, I inevitably tire of it and shake it up. But the point is, it's there to be shaken. Much better to be there and be shaken, then to not be there at all.

I'm not one for elaborate routines. Too Type A. Some days, it's a triumph simply to brush my teeth before hitting the proverbial hay. I don't have seventy different bottles of face goo; I don't say any rosaries or read a chapter in a proscribed book club book.

But when I do take a little time, I feel better. About everything. Life. The universe. Politics. Dog hair.

Especially the dog hair.

Some people aren't like clockwork; they are clockwork. They're made as minutely as Swiss watches, so you can - proverbially, of course - set your watch by them. I once watched a man search for five minutes for a particular spoon with which to stir his tea.

But if I were a clock, you'd never know what time it was. Sometimes I'd be accurate, sometimes my hands would be swinging around my face doing a chronological tango, sometimes I'd forget to wind myself, and sometimes I'd develop existential timepiece angst and trot off to explore the world; probably Paris.

In the world, there are people who are clocks, and people who always need a clock; these people are never the same people, and often, they annoy each other greatly. People who are clocks think the world revolves around seconds and milliseconds; they think punctuality is next to godliness, that details aren't part of life, they are life, and that linear equations are better than sex. People who always need a clock have worlds that spin internally that people who are clocks never see; time is punctuated, not by chimes in a hall, but by the moment inspiration hits, or the feeling of exhilaration or despair that marks one point in time as different from the next. They think creativity is next to godliness, that flexibility isn't part of life, it is life, and that linear equations will never compare to sex.

Interestingly enough, people who always need a clock often enjoy tangible, outward cues to their inward musings, their invisible worlds. Why do I need routine? Well, it gives comfort, and order, to my rather spontaneous inner world. Why do I need a clock? Because driving down the road, I don't notice what speed I'm going, I notice a stone fence, and imagine faeries who live in it, and who slumber all year, except for one day, when they emerge to have a grand dragonfly race (which happens to coincide with the Kentucky Derby). That's why I need a clock.

And a bedtime routine.

Dr. Who?

When I was a child, I thought as a child, I spake as a child, I watched 1980's Dr. Who. Well, I don't know how much of it I actually watched, but I was transfixed by the man with the miles-long scarf, who incidentally bore a large resemblance to my childhood pastor.

I haven't watched the twenty years of Dr. Who bridging my Kool-Aid moustachioed self of then with the slightly more sophisticated Izze Pomegranate juice moustachioed self of now.

Until today, when my brother and I, laden with the burden of Atlas, or possibly just wicked seasonal bugs, sniffed, drank tea, fretted and moaned with aches and sore throats, and watched a good ol' fashioned Dr. Who.

What did I think?

First, the scarf still rocks.

Second, there was nothing special about those effects. The monster alien resembled lime Jell-o left out in the July sun, and while I know it was the 70's, come on, people, Star Wars was about to hit the scene.

Third, the dialogue was hilariously witty. Almost enough so to make me stomach future fever-hazed afternoons enduring terrible so-called special effects.

Since I won't bore you (chorus: "too late!") with complaints about sore throats and losing one's voice, let me leave you with this Dr. Who quote:

"Say, are you in charge here?"


"No - but I'm full of ideas!"

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Luckily, my fingers aren't broken.


Because an unspeakable tragedy just befell me.

I lost my voice.

Folks, I am a consummate talker (and apparently, pun-weaver). And I have never, ever lost my voice, or even misplaced it. I've had strep throat, bronchitis, and all kinds of allergy dilemmas - and while my throat has hurt, or scratched, or felt like a million tiny razors were lodged in it - I have never lost my voice.

Until today.

And it happened in the space of about 30 minutes. I was sitting at work, minding my own business, listening to the thunder outside, watching the wind whip the rain, and soaking in Gregorian chants I was streaming from Pandora radio. Earlier, I spoke. I laughed.

(I laughed really hard at this.)

And then my editor walked in, and started telling me a story about the time all his favorite CDs were stolen, and I tried to respond. And my mouth opened, and air came out, and I started to form words - but no sound. I opened my mouth again, rather guppy-like, and nothing. It was like being Ariel in "The Little Mermaid," or Carlotta in "Phantom of the Opera," or Zechariah in the Gospel of Luke, chapter one.

I was wild-eyed with bewilderment. My throat didn't hurt today, I didn't feel sick, just typical seasonal allergies a bit. Nothing out of the ordinary, and no gradual disappearance of vocal tonality.

Nope. Hear one minute, gone the next.

Since I was listening to Gregorian chants and a thunderstorm, I kind of wondered if a mischievous old monk-ghost came up behind me and stole my voice when I wasn't looking, just to be mean because he'd taken a vow of silence years ago, and he knew that silence isn't my strong point.

HA, Gregorian monk-ghost: I can still type. I still have my deft, rapid fingers.

For now.

But if I'm going to be voiceless, it may as well be in preparation for Lent. HA again, Gregorian monk-ghost: I don't mind your poltergeist pranks.

I'm reduced to not talking, or if I can take a little pain, whispering, or just thinking and typing. I know, I know, it feels like one step removed from the man who could only communicate with his left eye in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Don't worry. I don't have to blink my letters into publication.

For now.

Don't get any ideas, Gregorian monk-ghost.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Where have I been?


Well, I didn't fly, or take a grand steamer like the QE2.

But my head's been in Ireland, thanks to some of the best TV I've ever watched.

[Aside:] Thanks to the revolution of DVDs, TV series available on DVD, and rental services like Netflix and Blockbuster online, it's easier than ever to set your entertainment table well with a variety of stuff you'll really like - not shows that seem tepid, old, and recycled (most of American TV today). Explore to see what's out there: you'll be surprised how many series there are to enjoy.

Ballykissangel is a comic drama, or a dramatic comedy, much like All Creatures Great and Small - but Ballykissangel is set as a village in Ireland, actually named after Ballykissanne, a village the creator of the show visited as a child. It's possible you've seen bits of the show on PBS, in the late 90's - which is when it was originally on.

It's fascinating.

First, there's the obvious - this scenery is mouthwatering. Not stunning, or beautiful - mouthwatering. Towering peaks, the famous "40 shades of green," streams, hills and dales, cottages, low, dark pub interiors, stone bridges and winding roads - ah, take me to Ireland.

But it's not kitschy Ireland: no generic "St. Patrick's Day" Irish-ness with four leaf clovers and leprechauns.

There's also a fascinating depiction of clergy and the faith. Village life centers around the church and the pub, and Catholicism is not presented as a huge institution, but rather the local church and people that make it. It's rare to find a nuanced portrayal of a religious figure in television, but Ballykissangel manages to do it. In particular, a young Catholic priest is an anchoring character who attempts to live out his calling in the small, idiosyncratic village - and anyone, who has ever lived in a small town, can appreciate it. And I should mention that, despite the particularity of celibacy to the Catholic priesthood, the depiction of clergy life and responsibilities is remarkably apt.

While a couple of primary characters pin down the show, it has a rich, strong ensemble cast that manages to weather significant changes between seasons 1-3, and 4-6 (in Brit-speak, it's "series" 1-3, and 4-6 - don't let this confuse you).

The show moves smoothly between seemingly mundane, every day moments - rural farmers attempting to avoid tax assessors, the gossip who runs the local shop - and grave theological questions. It manages to avoid stereotyping; to avoid glib situations; and to avoid both oversimplification, and overly preachy dialogue. Creator, and writer for first three seasons, Kieran Prendiville, also has a gift for suspense; not of unworldly creatures and horror, but the kind of suspense we all encounter: relational. In fact, Prendiville manages to create situations that, as my brother referenced re: "The Office," are like "Jim and Pam on crack."

In fact, it's rather like spending time in a real village.

I have laughed harder than I have in a long time at this show, and last week, I actually, literally, cried at it.

While seasons 1-3 are the most...potent, seasons 4-6 are still very good; better than most shows on television any given night - especially the networks.

Ballykissangel reveals the small town, or Irish village, as successfully as Agatha Christie does through her wrinkled little crime-solver, Miss Marple. While the show isn't about murders, and solving them, it does present the rich existence - and trials - of life in a small town. In fact, I found myself doing exactly what Miss Marple always does. Throughout the quaint adventures of the characters, I repeatedly said, "Quigley reminds me so much of Mr. Furr," or, "doesn't Ambrose remind you of..."

The whole world can be seen in the English village, Christie asserted. No true highs or lows of human life exist outside of births and deaths, marriages and community; likely enough, sin and crime sprout in cottage flower beds as much as any sophisticated urban patio. Human foibles and frailty are universal.

No where is that clearer than in Ballykissangel.

If you decide to find Ballykissangel at your library, rental store, online rental service, or local bookstore, note a few things: 1, don't research it too much online - you'll find out more than you want to know, trust me; 2, note that Gaelic spellings and pronunciation vary - a lot; the name Niamh, for example, is pronounced "Neeve;" and 3, apparently actor Colin Farrell got his start in the last couple of seasons of this show - and let me just say, Hollywood likes pretty boys more than actual acting talent, because most the actors on the show are better than he is. He's not bad, it just highlights the irony of who makes it "big."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Back Page News

Follow these links for unusual stories...

"Up" could elevate animated movies with its serious story

Well, that's different...if you want a stretch after winter hibernation, try Christian yoga with Northern Exposure's Janine Turner.

Two satellites collide 500 miles over Siberia - but then, is there anyone in Siberia to have seen it?

Contemporary wedding video shot in grainy black and white 8 mm

Vatican to discuss intelligent design. Maybe they liked Ben Stein's tennis shoes in "Expelled."

Egypt unveils ancient mummy, part of new discovery

The attack of the machines: from "First Things"

Spielberg may get "Lincoln" into theaters this year, in time for Abe's Bicentennial birthday.

AHOY: the U.S. Navy captured some pirates.

The Church of England is finally moving forward on plans for women bishops.

Coolest site ever...presenting classic Beatles - with the ukulele.

This could intensify church splits...Arkansas House ok's bill allowing guns in churches

Letterman couldn't pass up the opportunity to rib a strange, strange Joaquin Phoenix.

Saudi Arabia says only mosques are allowed in the country. At least they're not being dogmatic.

Bloom County is finally getting republished...

Well, we all are getting tired of lower gas prices, so President Obama is blocking offshore drilling to hike them again.

Whether Father Tim from "Mitford" or Father Peter from "Ballykissangel," clergy know fatigue well...check out the rested leader.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Sometimes, we have no good, very bad days.

Even me.

It's true. Granted, my brother gave me a good ribbing yesterday about how I have no molehills - either I'm drinking milk, or crying because it's spilt, but not often in between.

But even those whose lives tend to be either sunshiny days or catastrophes, with little in between - sometimes we, too, have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Or weeks.

The other day, I found myself curled on the floor, gazing up at a couple of my icons. Of Byzantine fashion, they portray Christ on the cross; the disciples on the highway to Emmaus; the Last Supper; and the Ascension. In particular, I gazed at Christ on the cross, and the disciples schlepping along the dusty road.

What do you do when the world presses in? When all news, it feels, is bad news, when friends and loved ones are losing jobs like there's no tomorrow, when the seasons are grinding gears between ice and mud, when stresses resemble a wobbling Jenga tower, when there's nothing more to do, or no energy to do it?

This is what I wrote for the "Good News" Facebook group today:

It seems to me that olive oil is making a comeback. Olive oil shampoo, moisturizers, lip balm; from Rachael Ray's "EVOO" to boutique bottles harvested by an elderly Italian couple on a remote farm, olive oil is, well, anointed.

"You anoint my head with oil..."

A lot of folks are feeling that the past year has been an accu
mulation of hard knocks from banging their heads against the wall. Savings have dried up, retirements vanished, security withered.
"My head is bloodied but unbowed..." Invictus: the ultimate assertion of human will against the heavens. Naked rebellion in an upturned face and a sneer: it is original sin, the curled fist shaking at the heavens.

Prepare, this Lent, to kneel at an altar, to offer your forehead as a canvas for oil and ash. The same forehead that's been banging against walls, lifted in self-will, revealing your plans and intentions - allow it to be painted with the burnt-out remnants of hum
an pride. Take the brow of Simon, and allow it to be molded into Peter.

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust..."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ice Ice Baby

Vanilla Ice has been in my head a lot the past week. I don't know, something to do with...



I have some distant relatives with a few screws loose. I'm not claiming to be unique in this; all I'm saying is that mental illness, paranoia, and acres of snowy wooded land tend to add up to an extra dash of crazy.

Which is why some people I'm related to are very familiar with the terms "militia," "government," "ammunition," and "canned goods."

Maybe it's what people used to call "cabin fever."

Well, the entire state of Kentucky is getting edgy these days.

Perhaps you've noticed a couple small news items about a bit of ice we've gotten lately.

Ice that keeps us indoors for days at a time. Ice that has cut off power to millions of people, and has turned off water for others, literally - no joke - causing them to get water with a bucket out of a creek. Ice that for some reason makes people think it's a good idea to lug in their charcoal grill from outdoors to use as a cooking device, only to send them to the hospital a few hours later with severe carbon monoxide poisoning.

We're kind of a mess. Let me explain: south of the Ohio River, we're not really used to a lot of "winter weather." So when we get pounded with several days' worth of ice, sleet, and snow, we (I) discover we've (I) never stocked a snow shovel, or rock salt.

And of course, now Wal-Mart - WAL-MART - is out of rock salt. In my cushioned capitalist existence, I very rarely experience a store not having something I need. The only other time in memory was this past Christmas, when, the week of Christmas, they ran out of brown sugar. Look at those little bakers go.

This was after I liberally poured (ran out of) Morton's table salt on the front porch and side steps. And after it took me and my hubby over a half hour to chisel and water the car out of a solid casing of ice. It's after Daisy's feet flew out from under her when she excitedly ran out on to the back porch and suddenly found it a skating rink. (I love it when dogs are clumsy. It makes me feel less alone.) This was also after I saw about four small trees down - from my front porch - and after my brother saw a flash and heard the pop of a transformer nearby giving up the ghost.

Yessir, we've been in survival mode all week. The funny thing?

We didn't lose power.

Now, a lot of the state did: there are people who will MISS THE SUPER BOWL because of Tuesday's arctic wrath. I'm not kidding: they exist. Right down the road.

But not us. No, we were a part of the bless-ed few who didn't lose power (heat) or water. But that survivalist mindset? Oh, full force. We hunkered down and didn't go anywhere. We looked suspiciously out of the blinds at the harsh, menacing tundra. We felt far away from the rest of the world, cut off, like Eskimo elders sent out on the ice to die.

We watched a lot of movies.

Oh, and the result of being cooped up inside for a week, after a sniffly-nosed seven year old came to stay for a few hours Monday night?

We all have colds.

Colds and power.

Colds and power and water.

Colds and power and water and intact roofs.

We feel blessed.