Two things I thought about while Christmas shopping this year

1. Don’t wear a red shirt if you’re shopping at Target because people are going to ask you about bath and bedding and let's face it you have no idea which aisle that shit is in.

2. You know how department stores will have a set of entry doors, and one of them is automatic and one is manual? What not two automatic doors? They couldn’t afford two automatic doors? These international retail chains couldn’t spring for one more electric door on their billion dollar megastore? The architect just couldn’t sell the CEO on this idea?

“You want doors that do WHAT?”

“Open on their own, sir. Automatic doors.”

“Why the hell would anyone need that?”

“People are going to be going through these doors with a lot of bags in boxes, shopping carts, children, automatic doors make it much easier to get in and out.”

“Sounds expensive.”

“Not really, sir. They run on electricity. It’s 2008.”

“Alright pencil pusher, you can have your doors. But only ONE per store! We’re not running the World’s Fair Expo here.”

That has to be it, right? I can’t think of one possible reason someone would PREFER manual doors. Are they put there just for old-fashioned folks who insist on opening doors for ladies no matter what? Even when it’s extremely awkward and impractical and the door opens inward and you have to jump in front of them and lean way in and try to inch out of their way and make a big scene? And speaking of that what’s the protocol for opening doors for dudes? Is it ever expected? When a dude opens a door for me, I experience an uncomfortable pause before I realize I’ve just been vaguely emasculated, and then dart quickly through the door to minimize the duration of the awkwardness. If I ever lose my arms, though, like maybe in a swordfight or a luge accident, please do open the door for me, even if you're a dude, or even if you're a lady. That would be nice, especially if it’s a pulldoor, because I could probably open a pushdoor without having any arms, but a pulldoor? Not so much. Not so much.

2008 in review

"Summing up, let me just say that I reject, repudiate, renounce, denounce, dismiss, and utterly regret 2008." And so Kathleen Parker begins her column in the 12/31/08 morning newspaper. Her words challenged me to assess how I feel about this past year and I have decided to celebrate, honor, value, and cherish the past 12 months. This is not to discount the tragic amount of pain and suffering in our country and in the world this past year. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the financial collapse, rising unemployment, and a disastrous conclusion to the Bush presidency are all to be lamented. But I choose to focus on those things that have given me joy and hope.

February 3, 2008.....The New York Giants win the Super Bowl. As a lifelong Giant fan I have experienced the agony of defeat and the joy of victory. Watching this game, surrounded by family members (all NY Giant fans, a requirement), I was able to share the excitement of the game with three generations. Here is a summary of the game as described on Wilkapedia. "The first three quarters of Super Bowl XLII were largely a defensive battle, as both teams combined for only 10 points, with the Patriots leading 7–3 entering into the final quarter. New York finally scored their first touchdown with 11:05 left in the game to take a 10–7 lead. New England eventually responded with a touchdown of their own to take a 14–10 lead with 2:42 left. Then came the defining play of the game: faced with third down and five yards to go from their own 44-yard line with 1:15 remaining, Giants quarterback Eli Manning avoided what looked like a sack and completed a 32-yard pass to wide receiver David Tyree, who made a leaping catch by pinning the ball on his helmet which put them at New England's 24-yard-line. Four plays later, New York wide receiver Plaxico Burress caught the winning touchdown with 0:35 left.[13] Manning, who threw both of his touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, was named the Most Valuable Player." Here's a photo of Granddaughter Jena and I preparing for that memorable day.

February 22-March 21.....For the second year in a row we had the opportunity to spend a significant part of the winter in Central Florida at a small rented Villa. John, Mary, and I adopt a relaxed daily routine while we are there that includes sitting on the porch, squeezing fresh orange juice for breakfast, walks in the sunshine, visiting with friends, lunch at Gator Joe's, dancing outdoors in the evenings at The Villages, and scenic drives.March 23.....Easter in Savannah, Georgia where I was born almost 64 years ago. We had two wonderful days in this old city of great charm.Every Tuesday.....Tai Chi classes at The Tai Chi Center in Saratoga Springs, NY. I am in my third year of learning this ancient internal martial art. The practice of Tai Chi has improved my overall health and is an effective tool to manage stress.

June 1 to present day...I was appointed as the clergy member of a three person Transition Team to serve a small local congregation during their pastoral transition. My duties have included leading workshops on transitions, occasional worship leadership, pastoral care, and other pastoral duties. I am thankful for this opportunity to work with a small but dedicated group of faithful people as they struggle to discern what the future holds for them.
August 2......Daughter Sarah married Todd Mraz in a beautiful outdoor ceremony at Lanzi's on the Lake. We gained not only a great new son-in-law but a new granddaughter, Morgan.
August 25-27...John and I camped in the popup trailer at a State Park on the shores of Lake George. A great one on one time with John as we set around the campfire each evening telling stories and singing songs.

August 27-September 2.....Our annual trip to Diamond Point on the shores of Lake George. All of the children and grandchildren were able to gather for this end of summer time.

September 17-27....Our son, Joshua, and his family purchased a home in Waitsfield, Vermont where he began a new job. I spent ten days working beside him to prepare the house for their moving in. We stripped wallpaper, tore up floors, sheet rocked, painted, and laughed together through long 16 hour days.

October 13-24....Mary, John, and I took a cross country road trip to visit Mary's family in Iowa. It was a great adventure that included a visit to Galena, Illinois and "The Field of Dreams" in Dyersville, Iowa.

December 24, 25, &a 26.....A wonderful three day family celebration of Christmas. the 15 of us attended church together on Christmas Eve at 4pm and then gathered at our home for pizza and wings and some gift exchanges. I led worship at 7pm at Grace church and it was a warm and inspiring experience of singing, communion, and candlelight. Josh, Elizabeth, and Noah spent the night so we were able to share the excitement of Christmas morning with a 4 year old. The remainder of the family gathered in the afternoon for more gift exchanging and a dinner of ham and turkey and all the fix'ns. On the 26th we helped the children make a ginger bread house at Suzi's.

And so, to you and yours, I wish a Happy New Year!


This will be quick, but I just wanted to ask for your prayers today.

I'll admit... I am sort of anxious about it turning 2009. I'll try to explain.

You see, 2008 was the "year of Isaac" for us... we found out about him in February, found out that things weren't quite right in April, and found out just how devestating his prognosis was in June. We had countless doctor visits, ultrasounds, and various fetal tests... almost every week, or at least every other week, there was something.

So much time and energy was spent caring for our little boy... time spent at those visits, time spent fervently praying, and time spent making memories and enjoying whatever time we were given.

I've had some difficulty welcoming each new month, as it was a reminder of how the world is marching on when I'm still trying to pick up the pieces and make sense of it all. I would imagine that it turning to another year will be that much harder. I am not sure how I will respond tonight when everyone, in a celebratory fashion counts down and shouts "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" I am just not sure I feel all that happy about it, because in a lot of ways, it feels like I will simply be further away from my son.

So we could use your prayers... that God would continue to teach us how to adjust to this "new normal," that He would provide us grace for each step, that He would help ease the ache a little bit as we continue to miss our sweet Isaac so deeply, and that He would continue to restore our hope as we look ahead to the future.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Thanks for continuing to pray for us and walk with us.

Doodle Penance: "the kiss painting"

This week's Doodle Penance comes from someone who found our site after searching for "the kiss painting."

Probably this poor searcher found him- or herself visiting one of Mike's old swipe file posts. (Incidentally, this is by far our most-visited page on the site. Could that have something to do with Uma in the altogether? Personally, I prefer to imagine that it's just general affection for the details of our second issue. Order it now and have it in plenty of time for Valentine's Day!)

But here's what the poor Googler probably wanted to find on our site:

Many people do not realize that Chaim Witz, otherwise known as Gene Simmons, based his "Demon" persona on an early version of Picasso's 1903 The Old Guitarist. Recent technological inspection has revealed a preoccupied woman, apparently nude, under the famous painting, but the earlier and more awesome version of the painting has been lost to the vagaries of time... until now!

(You may click to enlarge somewhat.)

It's worth noting that Simmons is unlike Picasso, in that there are some things that Pablo Picasso was never called.

"Things as they are / Are changed upon the blue guitar," indeed.

Mike, I hope you'll paste your penance below...

...uh, okay, Isaac, hyar 'tis:
Clearly this is based not on Klimt's famous painting "The Kiss" (as seen, sort of, in SatCom #2, as noted above), but on Edvard Munch's less famous painting "The Kiss," which you can see here in its oil-paint version and here in its woodcut version. I have altered the image ever-so-slightly to suggest that it depicts a scene of osculation between Prince, original performer of the song "Kiss," and Tom Jones, who covered it with the Art of Noise. Munch's original design didn't leave a lot of room to suggest who's who in my version. I leave it to the viewer to decide if TAFKAP is wearing his own apparel or if the Performer from Pontypridd is sporting the Purple One's coat as the fan he must be.

Things everyone wants for Christmas but never gets

Future technology (anti-grav boots, flying skateboards, pizza pills, etc)

Beneficial genetic mutations (vampire teeth, pockets in skin, cupholders, functional extra arm)

Video game machines that make video games go so much more awesome

Like a shit-ton of money

Gift card to that store in the mall that sells swords and knight stuff

Gift card to the bank for buying money

A world where everything is fun and people are made out of chocolate


Just What I Needed

For those present in our house when my sister and I were little or have ever seen our home videos, you may know that this was a common phrase. As I opened presents on Christmas morning, I would often excitedly exclaim, "Just what I needed!" And in an effort to be like her big sister, my sister Kate would do the same. Looking back at those videos, I must say it's quite charming.

This year I thought a lot about what I needed this Christmas. Like I mentioned earlier, I had trouble answering people when they asked me what I wanted or needed for Christmas. The truth is, I just wanted Isaac here... and yes, I would even go so far as to say that there's a part of me that feels like I need him here. I just miss him.

While Isaac wasn't here with us this Christmas, nor will he ever physically be until we're reunited with him in Heaven, there was a lot of ways that he was present with us this Christmas... and truthfully, I have my family to thank for that.

We started the morning at the cemetery, and while it was comforting to have a place to go to be "with" him, I just couldn't help but think, "I can't believe that this is where I will be spending each Christmas with my son..." I still don't think that realization has fully set in.

From the cemetery, we headed up to my mom's. She purchased two kids' Christmas books for us to have in memory of Isaac... my favorite one growing up (a scratch and sniff nonetheless!) and her favorite one growing up, entitled The Littlest Angel. There was also a beautiful little angel of rememberance pin and an angel ornament. My sister, Kate, and her husband, Tim, gave us a Christmas ball with pictures of them with Isaac in it, too. These things were so thoughtful and sweet.
We then headed over to my dad's house. My dad and stepmom also gave us a beautiful angel ornament for us to hang on our tree. We didn't set up a tree this year, but next year... next year we have a few ornaments that we'll be able to hang as we remember our sweet baby boy.

The part that moved me the most, though, was at my aunt's. Admitedly, I was a little nervous to be around so many people all day long. My extended family is a ton of fun to be with... always lots of laughs; but I just wasn't sure that I felt like laughing. It's been hard feeling like I want to celebrate when my heart is still so broken. And I wasn't sure if people would feel comfortable asking me about Isaac or not... it can just be a hard thing.

Anyhow, each year we do a stocking exchange that involves clues and guessing who gave each person's stocking to whom. It's a little confusing, and I am not sure that we all even understand the "rules." After the exchange was done, my aunt Janie announced that she had one more stocking to give. My heart started to pound... hard... when I realized what she was up to. She mentioned how much she wished that Isaac was here with us this Christmas, but that he would always be remembered. Inside the stocking were contributions from various family members towards Isaac's playground.

Needless to say, I just lost it... and the tears just started flowing. Tears of sadness because my sweet son isn't here and I wish so badly that he was; but also tears of gratitude that they remembered... that I got to hear Isaac's name on Christmas... it was just what I needed.

I wanted to leave you with just a few pictures from our day...

An ornament we made with Isaac's footprints and birth information thanks to the generosity of the String of Pearls ministry...

The Rochfort sibblings... my uncle Dick, aunt Janie, uncle Steve, and my Dad!
The gang... TOP left to right: my brother-in-law Tim, step-brother Brendan, cousin Emily, cousin Meghan, cousin Doug, Spencer; BOTTOM left to right: sister Kate, cousin Grace, me, cousin Annie; front and center: cousin Missy

Stockings galore...

Isaac's sweet little stocking...

Thank you for continuing to lift us up in prayer, for continuing to encourage us, and for continuing to walk with us. It's my hope that your Christmas will filled with love and peace as you celebrated our Savior's birth.

Our littlest angel....

Christmas 2008

It would have been out of character for me to have not gotten up "before the sun" as my mom always says... be it Christmas or any other day, this seems to be my pattern. In fact, at one point my mom had to implement a rule that we weren't allowed to get up before the sun on Christmas morning; of course as a child (and, admittedly, as a teenager) my anticipation kept me awake anyhow. This morning seems to be no different, though I don't believe it's my anticipation that awoke me this morning. Because truthfully, this Christmas has been hard... really hard.

I may have mentioned that we haven't really done anything "Christmas-y" this year. Sure, we've participated in some of our same traditions with family, but this morning, the traditions that we wanted to start as a family... with Isaac... aren't happening the way we had envisioned. Instead of playing Christmas music and opening a few gifts (whatever that would look like with a 2 1/2 month old), we'll be starting the tradition of spending some time on Christmas morning at the cemetery... a place where no one dreams of being with their child on Christmas. The only real "Christmas-y" thing we did this year was send Christmas cards... mostly because I know it's the only year that Isaac's sweet face will make it's way onto our annual Christmas photo card. I also enclosed a letter this year, which I wanted to pass along to my faithful blog readers as well...

Christmas, 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

This has been a year of unspeakable grief for us; yet even in the thick of it, we know that we are incredibly blessed.

It was on February 26 of this year that we found out we were expecting Isaac. On April 21st, we learned that there were some major concerns, and on June 17th, we found out just how grim Isaac’s outlook was. With great resolve, we decided to do everything possible to enjoy my pregnancy and the time we had with him, and by God’s grace, we were able to. Not without tears and tremendous heartache, but God graciously allowed us to enjoy the time with Isaac that we did have… for nine months in the womb, and, on October 7th, for the sweetest sixteen minutes after. Isaac was buried on October 11th, and we honored his life with a memorial service on October 18th. We miss Isaac daily, and his absence is profoundly real to us, particularly during the holiday season. But in the midst of it, God is teaching us how to navigate this “new normal” way of life. It’s a slow and difficult process, but we are learning.

We know that many of you are familiar with Isaac’s story. So rather than reiterating the same details, this is our hope: that this Christmas, you’ll hug your loved ones a little more tightly, linger with family a little bit longer, and most importantly, see Jesus a little more clearly.

In other family news, Spencer is still plugging away with his graduate work in school administration through Hood College’s partnership program with Montgomery County Public Schools. His coursework will be completed this summer, and he will then begin his internship next fall. Stacy has returned to work and is slowly getting back into the swing of things. We recently learned that she achieved her National Board Certification for teaching, a rigorous process which she completed last school year.

In closing, we just wanted to reiterate our sincerest gratitude for all the ways in which so many people have come along side of us and supported us over this past year. We are truly grateful.

Merry Christmas,

Spencer & Stacy,
with Isaac forever in our hearts

I would pass along the photo we enclosed as well, but you already have seen it if you've been here before... the photo at the top of the page in the header (on the left).

Blessings and peace to each of you today and in the new year. God's grace is sufficient for each step...

Ideas for Solving the Economic Crisis

Ideas for solving the economic crisis:

Get consumers spending again by having someone make a really awesome new thing that everyone will want.

Bail out the auto industry, but only on the condition that they develop a flying car by 2012 because that was supposed to happen a long time ago dammit.

Convert currency from dollars to chocolate gold coins because those have inherent value.


It's Been a While


Thank you all so much for your suggestions about where to stay in Jamaica. We had our travel agent run several of the properties you suggested, but many of them were booked (go figure... with less than a week!) We had a few options, and decided on the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites, adjacent to the Iberostar Rose Hall Beach Resort. Should be really nice!


Again, it has been longer than I typically like between posts. Here are a few, rather disjointed updates...

12/18/08-- Our 4-year wedding anniversary. Spencer had class, but his classmates were kind enough to devise a ploy to get him out of there so he could come home. We actually celebrated the following evening at a new restaurant that opened near us.

12/20/08-- Ended up on reading some pretty horrendous reviews of the resort where we're scheduled to go in Jamaica leaving this coming Saturday. So, our trip is up in the air at this point. We're currently trying to change resorts... we'll see. If we can't, then we're cancelling the trip altogether (gotta love trip insurance!) I just can't deal with the headaches that are possible to encounter based on the reviews. If anyone has any suggestions for resorts in the Montego Bay area, let me know... ASAP!

12/21/08-- Back at our church for the first time in a few weeks, and I am just so thankful for our church. Many of you posted in response to our experience last weekend at my mom's church (the church I grew up attending... which I LOVE). This past Sunday, our Pastor got up and acknowledged that this time of year can be so hard, particularly for people who have recently lost someone they love. Within the last week, a few members of our church experienced the death of a loved one, and our Pastor had them come up so that we as a congregation could pray for them. I am just so thankful that our church is a place where people are known... where you can come as you are, be authentic, and know that you will be met with the love of Christ.

Spent some time at the cemetery as we usually do. I noticed the abundance of wreaths, poinsettias, and other Christmas decor everywhere. It was both beautiful and saddening at the same time, seeing how many people were missing loved ones this Christmas. Spencer also noticed one of the graves in Babyland (the section where Isaac is also burried)... it was from the 1960's (the exact year escapes me) and there was a brand new toy there that we hadn't seen before. Forty years later...and these parents are still remembering and missing their child.

Had a chance to visit with my mom's side of the family at my grandad's house. It was wonderful to be able to catch up, and I am so thankful that my family mentioned Isaac. My grandad and Maria (his wife) had pictures of him up, right along with their other great-grandchildren. My aunt and my cousin asked about Isaac's playground and offered to come and help once construction and installation of it begins. They asked what we were doing to remember Isaac this Christmas... I just love it that people ask. I know I have communicated here that I do sometimes fear that people will forget him; and so being asked those types of things is so good for my heart because it helps me to know he isn't forgotten.

On a different note, I have recently started thinking alot about the relationship between Christmas and Easter, and have started thinking about the crucifixtion in a whole new light. For years, I have thought and even given Young Life talks about the birth of Jesus as the start of God's redemptive plan for humanity... and about Jesus's death on the cross as him bearing our penalty for sin. And both of those things are deeply true.

But lately, I have started thinking about both of those events from Mary's perspective... from the perspective of a mother. I still have a lot to mull over and will write more about it once those thoughts can give form to words.

This post is a bit all over the place, so I will end with a few prayer requests...

1- That we'll figure out what to do with this Jamaica trip... either a new resort, or that we can cancel it. It has me a little stressed.
2- For Christmas... this week is heavily weighing on my heart. I am just missing Isaac so much.

Love and a Towtruck

I wrote a new song. Like "Girl on the Internet", this is another of those "just for the hell of it" songs. Wrote and recorded it this weekend while trapped in my apartment by a massive snowfall. It's my way of striking back at the elements.

P.S Sorry I suck at piano. : (

Doodle Penance: "superboy jamie muscles"

There are more than fourteen inches of snow on the ground here as I write this, and yet I'm still planning to fly home tomorrow morning. It seems pretty implausible, but that won't stop me from getting up crazy early to head for the airport.

But before I go, I think there's some penance to take care of.

Some hapless soul was directed to our website when he or she asked the internet for "superboy jamie muscles" this week.

Probably this fan of Silver-Age silliness was looking for that issue where a thinly-veiled Charles Atlas made a cameo appearance to thump the twerp on the chest, kick sand in his face, and steal the affections of Lana Lang.

Superboy never was much of a "Hero of the Beach."

Happy Hannukah, Mike. Drop your doodle in here when it's done, okay?

—Sure thing, Isaac! Here's my vision of Superboy Jamie Muscles:

Here's my Sharpie-direct-to-paper doodle, executed so swiftly that I screwed up the socks. Whatever: it's a DOODLE, not a proper drawing. And I think I have captured sufficiently my vision of a pint-sized Highlander heavyweight, though his sideburns make him look older than his age (he's a wee lad of some six summers, he is). Jamie Muscles. Respect him!

The 12 Days Before Christmas

On the 12th day before Christmas freezing rain coated the trees, the power lines, and everything else. The area experienced widespread power outages and we were dark for three days. We are fortunate to have a wood stove for heat and a gas stove for cooking as we ate and read by candlelight.On the 11th day before Christmas we found a restaurant that was open and had power so we gathered to celebrate granddaughter, Jena's, 2nd birthday.On the 6th day before Christmas we experienced a snow storm that brought us 9 inches of snow. We drove in a blinding snow storm to the Troy Music Hall to attend a concert by "Sweet Honey in the Rock". Their sweet harmony and soaring spirits made the journey well worth it.
On this, the 4th day before Christmas we received another 6" of snow. More predicted for Wednesday. It will indeed be a White Christmas here. Click here to experience Bing Crosby creating this enduring carol. I get a kick out of Bing's whistling!

My brother's autobiography!

Many of you people know my brother: noted community organizer, supporter of the arts, and international dance sensation, Nathan Marion. His inspiring life story has been the subject of countless articles, dozens of documentaries, several unauthorized biographies, and three slightly fictionalized biopic films. (Step Up, Step Up 2: The Streets, and Stomp The Yard.) But this is the first time we've been able to hear the REAL story, straight from the man himself.

The Nathan Marion Story

By Nathan Marion

CAN'T STOP DANCING is the quintessential American story, full of hope, optimism, and sexy dancing. Born into poverty in Haiti, no one ever expected Nathan to get out of the slums. But after a run in with local law enforcement gets him deported to America, he discovers hip-hop dancing on the streets of Brooklyn, and his life is changed forever. As he practices relentlessly to be the best street dancer in New York, he finds himself out of cash and out of luck, forcing him to go to the Mob for help. Things look bleak as Nathan sinks deeper and deeper into a tangled web of crime, but his indomitable spirit and irrepressible love of dance win over the local Mafia boss, who agrees to give Nathan ten of his men to form a dance troupe and join the upcoming national dance competition. The only catch--the rival team in the competition is the NYPD! It's cappos VS coppers in the dance brawl of the century. Can Nathan Marion help the police department and organized crime overcome their differences through the power of dance? The answer will leave you breathless, in one of the most gripping, poignant true stories in American history.

Dear Overly Expressive Coffeeshop Guy... I wish you were not sitting one spot down from me.

You are alone at your table, but your exaggerated body language, sharp movements, loud sighs, chuckles, and mutterings carry on a boisterous, one-sided conversation with everyone else in the room.

The math homework you're working on might be a riveting dramatic novel by the way you grunt and go bug-eyed and violently adjust yourself in your seat.

Do you have so little going on in your own head that outer stillness horrifies you? Or are you just desperately forcing yourself into our awareness in the hopes of being noticed and--somehow--befriended?

Oh Overly Expressive Coffeeshop Guy, how I wish you had taken your meds today.



I received word yesterday that because of your generosity, over $10,000 has now been raised for the construction of Isaac's playground at our church.

Thank you.

Your generosity speaks volumes to me about the fact that my son's life matters to you. That's the greatest gift.... for a parent to know that her child matters and has had an impact on the lives of others.

Thank you for continuing to pray for us, cry with us, encourage us, and carry us. We are so grateful...

I haven't had much time in the last few days to think about the book, but I'm up late again, working on my last firing before christmas. I thought I'd just post a picture and say I'm working on the edit where and when I can. I plan to do a lot more of this in the next couple of days and beginning next week- everyday.

This picture was among those found in the clay cellar in Niederbipp shortly after Jake arrived. The hands seems to be of a man much younger than Isaac, but then the photo seems very old. I'll try to post others before Christmas. Ben

Densely Packed Children

You know how when you see those big mobs of little kids being herded across the street like tiny hairless cattle? Are those daycare groups on their way to the park, or an illegal child-stealing operation bringing shipments of children to a sausage plant where they make illegal sausages out of children? You would think that kind of thing would be illegal.
But if it’s not illegal I think the daycare workers should definitely wear cowboy hats, and be riding horses. And if a kid got too far out of line, instead of saying something like “Hey, get back in line!” they would do that thing where they throw the lasso around them and then tie their hands and feet together and sling them over their shoulders, cowboy style. That would be a daycare that teaches kids about the realities of life.

(For the next few updates I'm going to include my WARM BODIES promotion at the bottom, so it doesn't get buried. I really want to this book to go.)

So my friends, we are coming down to it. Reports from my test readers are coming in, I'm working on the edits, and everything is on schedule to have this book written, printed, and beautifully bound by January 2009. Keep in mind I can ONLY PRINT 100 COPIES, so if you really want to read this book, I encourage you to PREORDER NOW. Unfortunately, as much as I like you and all, I won't be able to reserve or set aside copies for anyone, I just can't afford to risk it, so it's going to be first come first serve.

That said, I love you all very very much, and can't wait to share with you the world I've been living in for the past 8 months. Merry Christmas.

Doodle Penance: "wobbly space craft comics"

Oh, right: we have a blog!

Isaac has already explained the idea behind our "Doodle Penance" series. Our latest search term/drawing prompt: "wobbly space craft comics"—which term, Isaac informs me, led an internet seeker to spend a whopping eleven seconds on our site. Perhaps one of these images would have held the seeker for longer:

I like the way Isaac has turned to old-fashioned romance-comics tropes here, though I am a bit dismayed to note that this is our second science-fiction joke involving bad driving by a woman at the wheel (or should that be the helm?). The first such joke, a cheap shot fired obliquely at my beloved spouse's inexperience with manual transmissions, appeared way back in Satisfactory Comics #1, whose heroine's costume and overall anatomy also earned us some dressing-down by readers unhappy with our resort to design conventions of dubious propriety.

What this evidence suggests about my unintentional but unreconstructed sexism is a bit depressing. But I shouldn't hijack Isaac's doodle for my own public second-guessing. Here's my doodle for "wobbly space craft comics":

I had already seen Isaac's doodle when I started mine, hence the predictable "variation on a theme" rather than, say, a four-panel comic strip about wobbly space craft (which thought did occur to me, briefly). Note how I (accidentally) omitted the word "craft" in my title—not the first time I've botched a title that's been handed to me (see my first Mapjam entry, and compare it against the map itself). However, I think the omission is appropriate inasmuch as my design riffs on the logo of the Industrial Workers of the World, who promoted not craft unionism but industrial unionism—in this case, no doubt, that of the aeronautics & space industry. There are a couple more references to the Wobblies, just in case that's what our errant seeker was searching for. Though if it's Wobbly comics that s/he seeks, this would be the place to look.

"Are you ready?"

"Are you ready?"... to leave, that is.

Spencer turned and asked me this about 3/4 of the way through church this morning. We don't ordinarily just pick up and leave church like the way we did today, so let me explain.

Tomorrow is my mom's birthday, and so Spencer and I went up to Baltimore, back to the church I grew up attending with my family and then to brunch afterwards. I usually love going there, and it's a great church. So, I thought this was a good idea because 1-we got to celebrate my mom's birthday, and 2- because the children's Christmas pagent was taking place at our church this morning and I just wasn't sure that was something I was going to be able to handle.

Little did I know, that what I was in for was a lot harder.

I've shared on here that it has been difficult for me into the Christmas spirit his year... the whole "holly, jolly Christmas" thing just isn't where I am. So when worship started and we sang nothing but Christmas carols, I was a little on edge. It probably didn't help that one of the worship leaders had a big pregnant belly. But, given the spirit of the season, it was something that I could sort of let roll off my back, an even somewhat enjoy.

The sermon started, and to be honest, this is where it went downhill, and for me, it went downhill fast. Just about every analogy made had to do with pregnancy and babies. I mean, I do get that... at the heart of the Christmas story is a teenage girl who is pregnant with the Savior of the world. What I had trouble with was over and over hearing phrases of us as Christians being "pregnant with possibility." And truthfully, it was a creative illustration and metaphor; but as a mother who just lost her son, it just wasn't working for me.

What I had more trouble with was when the "hardships" of the holidays were described as traffic at the malls and getting together with family that can sometimes be difficult.. and that we needed to "get over it." Because, of course, there are parts of the world that are far worse off.

Get over it.

Really? To the wife who just lost her husband as he was fighting in Iraq and for the first time won't be here for Christmas this year, she should get over it? To the man whose wife is fighting a terminal illness... and losing, he should get over it? To the mom and dad whose teenage son died in a tragic car accident last month, they should get over it? And to the moms and dads who have given birth to a child and have held them as they died just minutes, hours, or days later, they, too, should just get over it?

I acknowledge that we are a prosperous nation and that in numerous ways, we can't begin to imagine the hardships of poverty and disease-stricken countries in other parts of the world. That is absolutely true. But there's another truth of the matter and that's this: tragedy exists in America, too. Not just in the blatantly visible ways, but also in the hearts of men and women who are or have experienced deep, profound, and unspeakable grief.

And for those people, the holidays can be excruciatingly painful. For some people, the frustrations aren't with the trivial things like traffic at the malls, but with trying to reconcile who God is with the pain that He is allowing them to face. Trying to figure out what it looks like to have hope again in the midst of their grief.

Later this evening, though, I thought more about this question of "Are you ready?" So often we find ourselves asking each other this question in regard to Christmas, frequently referring to whether or not we've accomplished all the things on our to-do list... the decorating, shopping, and cookie baking.

But as I thought about it further, I think a better question in terms of "Are you ready?" is thinking about whether or not our hearts are ready to be reacquainted with the story of Christmas... the fact that we're celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world and the start of God's redemptive plan for humanity. Because of Christmas, we can have hope. Because of Christmas... the beginning of Jesus's life here on Earth, ultimately sacrifced as not just a ransom for many, but for each of us personally... because of those truths, I know that my sweet Isaac is safe in the arms of God.

I want to be ready to be reacquainted with those familiar truths in a fresh way this Christmas... and I'm getting there. Will you join me?

WARM BODIES official trailer!

You know me. I don't let a little censorship and family outrage slow me down. After having my teaser trailer axed and pulled offline by the offended father of the kids I filmed, I have gone back to the drawing board, and created another one. This one is not a teaser, this is the full length official promo for WARM BODIES. Think of it as the back of a book jacket, but more fun, and with less drooling hyperbole by the publisher. Enjoy...

So my friends, we are coming down to it. Reports from my test readers are coming in, I'm working on the edits, and everything is on schedule to have this book written, printed, and beautifully bound by January 2009. Keep in mind I can ONLY PRINT 100 COPIES, so if you really want to read this book, I encourage you to PREORDER NOW. Unfortunately, as much as I like you and all, I won't be able to reserve or set aside copies for anyone, I just can't afford to risk it, so it's going to be first come first serve.

That said, I love you all very very much, and can't wait to share with you the world I've been living in for the past 8 months. Merry Christmas.

Well, I'm up late firing a kiln. If its true that a watched pot never boils, it seems to be even more true that a watched kiln never reaches temperature. The firing just passed the 12 hours point and is nearly done---about 2380 degrees-on its way to 2400 before it will be time to shut it down. This part always take the longest--Especially in the witching hour of 4 am.

So, I have been working on the book. Alot of things still have yet to be ironed out. I have been a little slow this month, trying to get my studio openhouses out of the way and working on last minute Christmas orders. I look forward to next week when I can spend more time editing.

I wanted to post a photo or two.
This is an old picture of Isaac, taken just outside of the Bergerhaus in Niederbipp, circa 1965, back before he bought the electric wheel and was still using the old kickwheel. We found this in the studio, in the clay cellar, stuffed into the middle of an old book. I wonder why the photo was taken. I have written an email to the Mayor to see if he might know.


WYlie Burp Finished

The blogger uploader is totally useless, took nearly 25 min for this


Well friends, it's finally happened. My first (probably first of many) run-in with censorship. Yesterday I posted a video trailer for my book, WARM BODIES, on Youtube. It featured a lonely zombie wandering through a deserted city while a soft Frank Sinatra ballad plays on the soundtrack, attacking a living person, and then offering some leftovers (a severed arm) to his two children. The arm was played by a plastic prop I bought from a costume store, and the children were played by my kindergarten niece and nephew. Their parents are divorced and they live with my sister. My sister saw this video for what it was--a whimsical, sad, slightly funny vignette promoting a life-affirming book about zombies. My brother in law, though, as the parent of the kids in question, saw it differently, and was very disturbed by it. So I had to take it down. So, no more book trailer. Sadface. But oh well, I had another, longer one in the works anyway. Stay tuned.

Wylie Burp in progress