Friday, July 30, 2010
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
The Challenge of Advice
I've been in a long season of officiating at weddings. Weddings are more and more fun for me the older I get. What tickles me most are the occasions of advice-giving that happen at wedding rehearsal dinners, receptions and among bridesmaids and groomsmen. They all love the couple getting married and they pile on words of blessing and advice. Sometimes the advice I hear brings tears to my eyes, when it comes from seasoned (and scarred lives) of grandparents, parents, and siblings. But sometimes it is so silly, like when an unmarried friend waxes on about how the have a perfect marriage. Who gives you advice and where does it come from?
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
A Bad Day Sailing in South Africa
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
My New Car
I love my little Volkswagen Jetta. We bought it new in Minneapolis in 2003 and it has been the most efficient car we have ever had! I consider it my "new" car. When I give it a wash, it still sparkles. But today, driving to the hospital I looked down and had to pull over to the curb. I was going through and "epochal" change! My "new" car just clicked 100,000 miles. What happened so fast to my new car?
Monday, July 12, 2010
Final View from France
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Each time I go away to France, I reflect on my stage and place in life. This year I have some thoughts on being who I am and where I am in life. At this point…
1. not wearing skin tight T-shirts with “hip” logos is a good idea
2. not having ears, nose or eye-brows pierced looks better
3. not needing to have the last word in most conversations is more gracious
4. success is more than a number
5. listening is more valuable than expressing
6. being “right” has limited value
7. winning arguments isn’t what it used to be
8. getting someplace fast is less valuable than going safely
9. pauses are good things
10. second helpings are not what they used to be
11. instant responses can get you in trouble more than waiting
12. feelings pass, take a breath
13. not knowing and being wrong is OK
14. history does matter
15. understanding others’ motives for their behavior is not that important
16. my solutions in the past are now problems that need fixing
17. a lot of new ideas are really pretty dumb
18. a lot of old ideas are also really dumb
19. the bathroom mirror in the morning makes you honest
20. no one completely “gets it”
21. great art and music are healing
22. the most important news is the weather
23. sports is just a game
24. I have enough, I don’t need more
25. waiting for others to get ready is a good habit
26. laughing with is better than laughing at
27. I will die, get over it
28. not that many people need or want my advice, especially my children
29. a reputation takes a long time to earn and a moment to lose
30. other people really are interesting
31. good wine is worth drinking now
32. the plat du jour is the best thing to order on the menu
33. little white lies aren’t
34. simple things really are beautiful
35. a good night of sleep does change things
Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Making change is not a big issue at home. Most every ATM spits out $20 bills. If I want a cup of coffee at Starbucks, and all I have is $20, no big deal. The cashier makes no objection to the bill, and makes change.
For some reason, making change is a big deal in France. Almost every transaction includes and appeal from the cashier if you don’t have something smaller and exact change. So we rummage through our pockets for 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 euro “centimes” to make as close to exact change as possible. Now, here’s where it is interesting.
Over the years I’ve noticed a gender distinction. Women, by and large, like giving exact change and will take extra time combing through their purses for change to the penny. Martha is that way, and especially in French, where she has conquered the numbering system (don’t even ask me!). A cashier or vendor will announce the price, I’ll try to give a large bill (to make change), they ask for exact change, and Martha finds it for them, leaving me with the big bill unbroken.
Now, you might ask. What’s the big deal with that? The ATMs in France spit out 50 Euro bills. Cashiers and vendors hate 50 Euro bills. They will throw up their hands and make popping noises with their lips as if you had just done something inconceivably stupid! So, the other day I withdrew a bunch of Euros (all 50’s) and decided to walk into the bank that had the machine that gave me the cash, and ask them for change. After a long line, practicing the phrase “Changemont si vou plais” in my head, my time arrived. I asked the teller who turned to the manager, who waved his finger and told me that the bank does not give our change! The BANK does not give our change. Totally befuddled, I asked where I could get change. He pointed out the door and said “La Poste” (the Post Office). No way was I going to stand in line at the post office and ask for change.
What did I do? I drove to the MacDonalds, where I was already planning to do email and bought one cup of coffee, with a 50 Euro bill. No complaints at the MacDonalds…they do change!