Last week, I purchased the Blu-ray edition of “Planet Earth.” We’d missed the series when it originally aired in the U.S. because at that time, I was still nursing my firstborn and was such a bleary, exhausted mess, the entire Ringling Brothers circus could have paraded through my living room and I wouldn’t have noticed.

But since my boys are out of diapers now, and since we’d recently acquired the prettiest TV on God’s green earth (a 47-inch LED) and a Blu-ray player, I figured this was the perfect time to view this series I’d heard so much about.

And, holy smokes.

After turning on the first episode, I found myself paralyzed, unable to tear my eyes from the screen. For the longest time I stood there, slack-jawed in the middle of the room, because I couldn’t glance down long enough to take a seat. For someone who’s developed a later-in-life love of all things science, this presentation is magical…breathtaking. I kid you not, it makes me weak in the knees.

Continue reading

Off With Her Head

This post has absolutely nothing to do with pilgrims or turkey or Indian corn or any other traditional Thanksgiving topics. In fact, this is probably a completely inappropriate subject for this time of year. I do apologize.

It all started right before Halloween, when a friend asked a question on Facebook: “What’s the first scary movie you ever saw?”

I automatically replied. “Some movie I saw in church when I was ten years old. ‘A Thief in the Night’ or something.” And then I thought for a minute. And then BAM! Just like that, my internal Rubik’s Cube clicked into place.

I finally realized the origins of my worst phobia, one that has plagued me for as far back as I can remember. Or, as it happens, since the age of ten. Continue reading

Minka Disbrow

Update January 2, 2012 – To those of you who have made your way here from the AP article that went viral today…thank you so much for your interest in this story. My sweet Grandma (though very savvy) has no computer, but we are keeping her informed of all the interest and comments. She is more than thrilled that her story is touching so many people. Feel free to “share” on FB, Twitter…wherever. God bless you!

This summer, we visited my maternal grandmother in California. After a motel mishap left us stranded, I called Grandma and asked if we could “crash” at her small apartment near the ocean. When we drove up at dusk, a few hours later, Grandma was just coming back from the grocery store, where she’d gone to stock up on food supplies for us.

Her place was as neat as a pin, as it has been for as far back as I can remember. That night, after I’d tucked all my boys in bed, I went into the living room to keep Grandma company. I sat down with a book. Grandma was filling out a word puzzle with a ballpoint pen.

“I like to do something like this before I go to bed,” Grandma said. “It helps me unwind.” About 45 minutes later I sleepily called it quits, leaving Grandma sitting in a small circle of lamplight, still working on her puzzle.

Sometimes I think this woman will outlive us all. Continue reading

Spiders or Snakes?

Invariably, conversations with my girlfriends always seem to come around to the same topic: “Which is worse, spiders or snakes?”

Okay, maybe not every conversation ends up here – but I have had this discussion many times. It’s like the girlie version of “Boxers or Briefs?”

From a moral standpoint, I would love to say that I am a friend to all creatures great and small, but both of these species creep me out completely, and when I say, “creep me out completely,” I am perhaps not properly conveying the kind of ridiculous shrieking and flailing about that is produced whenever I see either a spider or a snake. Just looking at pictures of them makes me nauseous. On a scientific level, of course, I love that there are researchers who devote their lives to studying these things.

But on a personal level, I want all snakes and spiders to die. Preferably, from at least two time zones away. And yesterday.

Some people just throw spiders and snakes into the same “yuck” boat; but those people are not bloggers with posts to fill. So just in time for Halloween, here is the Spiders or Snakes Smack-down, by category.

You’re welcome. Continue reading

Don’t Forget the Knox

By now, the story of my first few encounters with Knox McCoy is the stuff of legend.

If you’re one of the 312,398,205 Americans who haven’t yet heard the story, here’s the nutshell: I “discovered” Knox, and fell in love with his blog, at least three times – and then completely forgot him in between times. It’s as though The Adjustment Bureau kept coming in and resetting me. I don’t know how to explain this, except to blame it all on my boys, who have stripped most of the brain cells right out of my head.

Knox forgave my amnesia and actually went on to interview me, for his Residents of Awesometown series, and the experience was…well…awesome.

Knox writes about faith and life and pop culture, and he is smart and hilarious but also kind. Snark without the knives. He makes me giggle, out-loud, every time I read his stuff. (Since I am not a giggler, this feels a bit disconcerting.)

It is impossible to not adore Knox. Go ahead – spend some time on his site, and try to resist the adoration.

It can’t be done. Continue reading