Sunday, July 30, 2006

Cooking Out at Chez Smiff

We cooked out with our friends Manley and Rebekka last night and had a great time. We love those guys. David and Rebekka didn't make this picture for some reason! A lot of my hair fell out when I was sick last year. It's growing in curly and red. Being me, I take this as a sign. Of what though? (BTW, I'm the one sitting down, not the red-head with the extra pair of legs.)
We had ribeye steaks,grilled asparagus, roasted new potatoes, fried green tomatoes and Elberta peach ice cream. (And lots of wine.) The food was nice, the company was better.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


The eggs hatched sometime during the night.

You can't see the babies, but the empty eggshells are visible in this photo.

Soon, the babies started to flop around and peek out from under their mother.

They are incredibly ugly.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Our Basic Incompatability

David wakes up early to see how his bonds are doing (he's like a bond farmer.) Sometimes, when he gets home, he's really sleepy. And that's ususally when I feel wide awake.

I like to take pictures of my wide-awakedness.

Sometimes, I take pictures of David's sleepiness. He doesn't ususally get mad.

I think he's cute.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Millions of Peaches...Peaches for me!

One of the best things about living in Alabama is being able to eat Chilton County peaches right off the trees.

It hasn't rained much in Alabama this summer, but it's still green in the orchard.

These are Elberta peaches from the Culp family orchard in Jemison.

Elbertas are larger and easier to eat than many early-season Alabama peaches. They are my second-favorite. My first favorite peach is the General Lee peach. General Lees have white flesh (big surprise there) and are very sweet. They are so hard to find that most people have never eaten a General Lee peach. I am a lucky girl. If I have a daughter I will call her "General Lee Peach Smith."

My mom has never eaten a General Lee.

She doesn't care.

I wish I lived in a peach tree.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Shucked Like Corn

When I first came here, I was drugged into a stupor by idealism. Everything was shiny and new. Everything was good and unaffected. The sugarplums dancing in my head were shaped like community involvement, change in Southside, spiritual growth and connectedness. Life was good. I was happy. Now, after having been here for three years and change, the finish is worn off. I see the unadulterated dysfunction of the people around me. I see community fail. I feel alone and far from home. I see the lie of Us-Them mentality in its festered fruition and I am sad. I am discouraged. I feel withered and small. As it turns out, strip off the pretty and they are all just as sinful as me.

The death of illusion is painful and ugly. I don't want to endure it. I want to escape to dream my dreams somewhere else. I want to go home. I want to find something more than depravity wrong with this place and escape like Peter Rabbit under McGregor's fence. But what are these illusions but idols? What is this reliance on men and women but a fetter from which to be freed? Christ, in His mercy, will have our illusions stripped, our idols burned and our faith in other folk obliterated. We are like full-grown babies sleeping comfortably in the dark under warm blankets only to have the lights turned on and the blankets snatched away. "Wake up, Sinner, and Christ will shine on you." And it hurts.

At this moment, when Christ would lead me to a new level of trusting Him and leaning not on anything else, my old Evil Friend, Cynicism, creeps up and seeks to devour. "Everything is tainted," he says. "Everything is a lie and you are the ultimate mark." For me, the Old Fool, it's easy to be angry with myself for ever being dumb enough to hope so much. It is tempting to give in to his lie. After all, isn't this Cynicism protection against the pain? Yes, perhaps, but more than that Cynicism would keep me from the victory of the mortification of my flesh. And that is, painful as it is, our greatest good.

Oh, how my hopes have been abused! But I have always been comforted by the truth that in Christ is no disappointment, no darkness, no hoping for what will never be. I've been let down more than most, but never, never by my Jesus. A small spark of Hope ignites the darkness. A small flame of joy illuminates my path. Hope has come in the night to whirl me around with my eyes closed. Hope has come in Christ's skin to remind me who the hero really is. My mind's eye is borne up to the rare air of heaven and I see the seminary degrees, the struggle for power, the divisiveness of here, burn in the pure flame of a holy word from a Holy God.

Oh man, I have no faith in you. Oh Cynicism, I know you speak a lie. Oh Jesus, it is you who will not disappoint. Amen and come, Lord Jesus, to strip the comforts that would keep me from you.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Suckity Suck Suck Suck!

Wonder if this happens in Vestavia?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Be careful, Gretel! I see a bee!

This weekend, David's mom gave me these little Hummel children to hang on the wall. They're really old. I like them a great deal, but I'm not sure why. It probably has something to do with their little fat faces, mouths ajar in horror at the prospect of assault by the dumbly old bumble bee. Bumble bees are too fat to be aggressive. They're just happy they can fly.

When we first got married,David's mom didn't like me very much. Truth be told, she didn't know me very well and was probably skeptical about my intentions. I think she likes me now, and I like her now, too. She's got a lot of good qualities. (The least of which not being that she lets me float around in her swimming pool in a big blue chair like a princess.)

I'm grateful for the progress we've made.

And on another mom gave me this for our anniversiary. It's our wedding invitation with flowers painted on it. I love it.

Also, Corduroy Dog doesn't like to be waked up by the camera flash, but I think she is very cute.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Pidgeon or the Egg?

This morning, our little dove must have been frightened off of her nest. (Or else, I witnessed the changing of the guard between mama bird and papa bird.) She came back a few minutes later, though.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Moths and Doves & Doggies in Bed

This is a tenacious little dove who has insisted on living and raising a family on our windowsil. This is her second brood this summer. Unfortunately, something ate her first two babies.

This is an orange moth who has been hanging around on our back porch today. I suspect his arrival signals something ominous, but I'm probably just being paranoid. I wonder what his caterpillar looked like.

This is what happens when David gets in the shower in the morning. Heh Heh.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Eerie Whistler

We Smiths have a "family whistle." It keeps us from having to yell at each other in public. Last night, I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and I kept hearing David whistling. It wasn't the family whistle, it was a disjointed little tune.

Steve Bingham, Dusty Lens

Now that I think about it, it sounded a lot like my grandpa who used to whistle like that as he worked in his garden.

When I came out of the bathroom, David said "What was going on in there? I kept hearing you whistle."

It freaked me out, to be honest.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mahmudiyah: Mei Lei redivivus

Lt. William Calley circa 1970

I don't pretend to be a millitary historian, but I did meet William Calley at a jewelry store in Columbus Georgia one weekend after an Auburn ROTC military ball held at Fort Benning. He works there. He's not a big fan of people coming in just to look at him.

The recent talk of the "Mahmudiyah Incident" as it has come to be known coupled with my personal relationship with Lt. Calley has started me wondering. What if Mahmudiyah is this war's Mei Lei Massacre? And if so, what does that mean?

I've long wondered if Mei Lei was a sign that the war in Vietnam was over. Not won, but over. Now, I'm wondering if the war in Iraq is over. Not won, but over. Maybe. I've never really been against the war, but now I wonder if it is time for our troops to come home.

Steven D. Green circa 2006

Mostly, both of these stories make me sad, because of the incidents themselves and for the tarnish I fear they place upon the reputation of our worthy soldiers.

Evil's Unknowing Push Toward Christ & Odd Nerdrum Certainly Is

[The Christian method]is not, 'Set about imitating Christ, adopt His moral ethical teaching, and try to put it into practice'. It is not, 'Get away and become a monk or a hermit'. But just where you are in the midst of the world, with evil and sin rampant round and about you, and everybody and everything doing all they can to discourage you and to drag you down, just as and where you are, 'Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand the wiles of the devil.' It is not retreat, it is not escape, it is not attempting something that is impossible. No, it is this supernatural, miraculous Gospel that enables us to be 'more than conquerors' over everything that is set against us.D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Return of the Sun Odd Nerdrum, 1986

Yesterday, David stopped in medias res and said "Do you think we're under attack?" It was a weird question knowing him whose philosophy has always been that the flesh causes enough trouble in and of itself without any help from Evil. I thought about it, though, and I tend to think we are.

It seems that everyone we know (or at least many of the people we know) have experienced great loss or upset over the past few months. Our hearts are heavy as we consider all the suffering going on in our little church. And what are we to make of this? For the small Smith family, it is making us take to prayer with renewed vigor. We feel a compulsion to run to Christ like little chicks seeking shelter under the pinions of their mother as the hawk circles overhead. We know that no trial comes to us except that it has first come through Christ. We are encouraged to think that he uses these trials to bring us to himself, not to cut off our hope.

I love the hope exuded by Lloyd-Jones in this quote, but it makes me wonder what defense we have against Evil if we do not run to Christ, run to prayer and to scripture reading and abandon the faith we have in our own pitiful logic. Can't Evil warp and twist our own thoughts to work us woe? I think it can and does. Oh, without Christ revealed to us in Scripture daily, we have no hope. We respond to him in prayer and grow stronger. A friend of mine recently confessed that he doesn't care about the Scriptures and doesn't read them. I wonder how he avoids being overcome with darkness. I know that I could not. I know that I do not. And this drives me Home.

Dawn Odd Nerdrum, 1990

Do you remember a time when you arrived at the absolute end of yourself? I do. It's a memory that sticks with me even as it fades with the passing years. I remember being absolutely poured out and empty before God like a sad little lonely little wrinkled balloon. I was totally without defense. My logic, my status, my physical strength had abandoned me. I know there is no strength apart from Him. I know it and my prayer is that I would not forget how desperate a person I really am. So often, suffering answers that prayer, but I know that if I am compelled by suffering to seek Him, he really is at work in me.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

An Evening in July

Southside goes crazy for the Fourth of July. We divided our holiday between the parties of two of our friends. We drank Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer and cheered for the fireworks exploding over Red Mountain. I have the strange feeling that I'm at the end of an era in my life, but I'm not sure what that means.

I heard God Bless America with new ears this summer. It's a beautiful song. I sing it as a prayer.

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her and guide her,
through the night with a light from above.

From the mountains,
to the prairie
to the oceans, white with foam,
God bless America,
My Home Sweet Home.