Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Drive

Today's church, the Family Missionary Baptist Church, probably used to be a gas station.  Now instead of filling up on fuel, you can fill up on the spirit!  If I were them, that's what I would put in the sign on the window.  And then I would start making it look a little less scary.

Anyway, C and I went for a country drive this afternoon.  He's been feeling pretty sick with a cold and cough, and I'm not feeling too hot myself, so driving around seemed like a good way to be lazy and still see new stuff.  We headed north and found ourselves driving through towns like Stem, Providence, and then into Oxford.  Here's a lovely place we passed:

And we also saw this place, which was a contender for this week's church pick, but I couldn't really pick it because it's not in Durham:

We stopped at a tiny cemetery in the middle of some newly plowed and planted fields and wondered over the graves of the Tippets and Currins.  We ogled Victorian mansions in downtown Oxford, saw a beaver cross a road (C said it was a muskrat, but I think it was a beaver) and we walked across a no-longer-used bridge over the Tar River.  We also saw this place:

Who says a wood-chip factory can't be a work of sculptural art?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My TV Bipolarity

I've got TV bipolar disorder.  There are two shows I have been watching, and they are completely different.  The first one is Mad Men, and the second is Call the Midwife.  I'm sure everyone knows about Mad Men: set in 1960s New York City and the world of a cutthroat advertising agency, centered around Don Draper, the ever unfaithful yet ever unflappable mystery wrapped in a mystery man.  He's not happy, his wife isn't happy, his ex-wife isn't happy.  His children aren't happy.  His coworkers aren't happy.  They all do destructive things to themselves, and it's gorgeously filmed.  

The second show I've been watching, Call the Midwife, is perhaps less well-known, and in its second season.  Produced in England, it tells the story of a group of nun-midwives in east London during the post-war 1950s baby boom, and their young assistant nurses, especially Jenny Lee.  The characters are sweet, cheerful, kind to each other but witty, sad at times but very happy a lot, especially when they have helped someone, and it's gorgeously filmed.

I guess I like both shows because they are beautiful, not just visually, but in a well-executed artistic way that encompasses acting, filming, costumes, writing, and everything.  It's fun to look for parallels in Mad Men and try to guess how things that happen or are shown are supposed to relate to each other, or contrast.  I think the creators put a lot of thought into it, and I appreciate that.  But then sometimes watching Mad Men just seems like a waste.  I am frustrated by it because I want to see the characters grow.  I want a woman to think Don is disgusting and refuse his advances for a change.  I want a married couple to be happy and faithful.  I want someone to be genuinely kind.  It leaves one feeling very disappointed in society and wondering how trustworthy people really are.

On the other hand, Call the Midwife leaves me feeling peaceful and uplifted.  It is a much more realistic show in the sense that there is a wider variety of types of people.  Some husbands and wives are loving and kind, some aren't.  Some are good mothers, some aren't.  Some babies are born easily, and others aren't.  The poorest Londoners of the time are portrayed realistically, maybe slightly sensationalized because it is a TV show after all, but beautifully.  Every show has a victorious moment, a realization for someone, a moment of sweetness or sometimes bittersweetness.  And the thing I love the most about Call the Midwife is that the main characters are kind, helpful, and hardworking.  They may struggle with insecurities or personal heartbreaks, but who doesn't?  The writers of this show chose to portray women with real moral values and valuable skills, and even highlight those things.

So, while I can't stop myself from watching Mad Men, I encourage everyone to watch Call the Midwife.  Both shows capture the mid-century nostalgia that we all have right now, but one is just hollow beauty, and the other full of nourishment.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tabernacle of Joy

The church of the week!  I was going to use a different one, but then my husband and I were driving past this one, and I snapped a picture out of the car window, and I liked it.  The scripture in the window reads, "Except the Lord build the house, they that build it labor in vain."  And you can't read it but the sign on the telephone pole points to a Catholic church across the street.  Poor little tabernacle of joy.

In other news, it's been a great weekend apart from the deluge of little green canker-worms that are starting to rain down.  Yesterday I spent an hour picking them out of the tender green buds of the dogwood tree in my front yard.  This is going to be the year I put sticky stuff on the tree trunks to kill next year's batch of worms!

C and I have been enjoying the springtime otherwise.  I feel like my pictures of springtime on Instagram are cheering up my friends in the north and west who are still in winter.  My garden is growing.  We planted beans this weekend in one of the boxes, and will do the second box soon.  C was so excited about the beans that during church today he was calculating how many bean seeds he planted and imagining the green beans we'll be eating in a few months.  

We went for a long walk in Duke Forest and I could not stop admiring all the baby greenery, the array of wildflowers already in bloom, the rain-swelled creeks, the birds and the butterflies.

I've been going to the temple monthly, which is my own tabernacle of joy, and when I was there yesterday I just got such a peaceful happy feeling that seemed to tell me, "You have a wonderful happy life so enjoy these moments!"  And so I will.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Jesus Time

First I must apologize once again for being so absent from my blog!  It has been a busy few weeks.  But today I finally got a chance to rest and relax.  This weekend was General Conference (check it out at and for the first time I decided to try and test my hotspot to the max.  The hotspot that my cell phone generates lets me use my computer at home, but I've only used it for small quick things until now.  Today I streamed live video for four hours!  Luckily I have an unlimited data plan.  It worked like a dream!  And it was so nice to listen to the conference talks in my own living room rather than get dressed up and go to the church.

It was such a gorgeous day and the conference talks were all wonderful.  During the afternoon intermission, C and I went for a Sunday drive, and we came across this little church by the side of the road.  C had seen it before and wanted to show it to me.  I loved it!  My favorite thing about it is the golden silhouette of Jesus on the door with the word "nondenominational" written across him.  And I really like the artist's attempt at symmetry with the way the words are painted on. 

We also took a nice walk through the woods near Falls Lake, where we saw so many trees beginning to bud, lizards and bugs coming out of hibernation, and a bright red biplane that flew so close to us we could have shaken the pilot's hand almost.  We also saw horses galloping across a meadow.  So, all in all a very nice day.