Why Lemony?
(the “About Me” page)

January 28, 2007

Winter coping mechanism #14

I'm walking down the dam in Enmore. It's a very poor village in Guyana on the coast. The dam is a waterway full of stinky brown water with a road along each side. The houses are all built on stilts to protect them from annual flooding in the rainy season and are all kinds of pastel colors. No sombre maroons and navys here. It's teal, peach, lemon and powder blue all the way. I'm carrying an umbrella over my head, as everyone does at this time of day, to protect myself from the piercing-hot sun. My little circle of shade keeps me from burning to a crisp, but I'm still really hot. I'm sweating like mad because I'm out in the middle of the day. The sun is so bright that I can't bear to look up, even to look ahead of me, so I look at the ground and make my way by memory to my friend Sherry's house. I step carefully around puddles full of really gross water and piles of what the donkeys left behind. I also don't like to step on the dried carcasses of those big toads, called 'crapoes', that were flattened by some car, blinded by the headlights. Anyway, I'm pouring down sweat and trying to imagine getting cooled off, sitting in a hammock under Sherry's house, drinking orange pop. When I get there, it takes me a long time to stop being completely overheated, my face flushed and the cool orange pop barely making a dent. You can't wear shorts here because it's thought immodest, so I'm suffering in my jeans. I'm glad to see Sherry though and she shows me the clothes she has gotten ready for her baby that will be coming in a few months. Her little bedroom upstairs is so oven-like that I can't imagine how she can stand sleeping in it. It has that hot wood smell like a sauna. Pretty soon it's time for me to go home and I sigh as I put up my umbrella and make my way down the dam to the bus stop on the main road. It's about a mile and a half walk. Once I forgot my umbrella and a stranger, an old man, came running out of his house on this road and handed me his umbrella saying that I must stay protected from the sun so I wouldn't get heatstroke. As I got close to the bus stop, by which I really mean anywhere on the main road you feel like standing and holding up your arm when a minibus comes by, I bought a few finger bananas. So sweet and full of gentle apple flavor. Mmmm.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2007

A story, a story...

Georgia's always begging me for a story and a few days ago I told her a cooking story about my early experiments in the kitchen when I was maybe 10 or so. I remember making up this concoction that I really liked but was really wierd. It was a layer of peanut butter spead on a plate with shredded carrots on top and raisins scattered over it and apple slices layed around the edges and a pile of celery sticks to scoop it up with. So today while we were upstairs watching Preschool Power 8, learning how to make a homemade kazoo, Georgia decided that she was going to make us all a snack. I said, "Great! Can you get me a grapefruit?" and she said, "I'm not taking orders, I'm just going to make one snack for everybody." (My words, haunting me.) And I said, "But I just want a grapefruit!" And she said, "You're going to eat what I give you." (I don't remember ever saying that, but I guess it's possible.) So with that authoritarian declaration, she went off into the kitchen by herself. When we came downstairs for our snack I was amazed and touched that she had rememberd my kitchen story and recreated my weird peanut butter dip exactly as I described it. I laughed and cried and hugged that big-hearted girl so hard. She made my weird thing just for me. She made my memory come to life. It was beautiful.

P.S. The title of this post is the name of a book we love about Anansi, the spider man, (an African hero-character) and how he becomes a storyteller. One of the first lines of the book is, "A story, a story, let it come, let it go" and the last line of the book is, "This is the story as I have related. Take some with you and let some come back to me."

Posted by Bahiyyih at 02:30 AM | Comments (0)

What's up Friday?

Layli is missing (she was at work, you go girl!) from this otherwise complete picture of the three generations of the Engle matriarchy and the female descendants thereof.

News bits:

Teresa's teething a molar and has had everything and everyone in her mouth and is showing her discomfort by throwing things on the floor, usually food or dishes. Not fun. But when she's comfortable she's coming up with these great songs and talks about everyone she's ever met. She can sing all of "Tender Shephard" (it's a lullabye from Peter Pan) and most of "God is Sufficient unto me..." (it's a Baha'i prayer).

We've had the usual round of winter colds with a dash of pink eye for variety. Cabin fever has ensued but we're all so much healthier than last year around this time that I feel relieved and thankful.

I've been reading: I just finished "The House of the Spirits" by Isabel Allende. Excellent story because it shows the relationship of cause and effect down through the generations of a wild and ambitious family. More graphic than I like usually, but it seemed more gritty and honest than just trying to be outrageous and thrilling. Plus it's about Chile! Mom gave it to me as a souveneir of her recent trip there for my cousin Lucy's wedding. Hooray! She and Grandma had a wonderful time there being enfolded in a very loving family environment where Grandma was the queen, since she was the abuela. Mom just went on and on about how close and attentive the family was to each other and how welcoming and kind they were to her. Yeah!

oo! And I've just started reading the very short "Journey to the Father: New Perspectives on Gender and the Baha'i Revelation". Anyone out there want to read it too so we can discuss it? I really want a discussion buddy (or 5) for this one. From reading the first few pages, it's proving to be just exactly my kind of book- introspective, personal and also connecting and responsive to society at large. Plus, it's so short (60 pages) that I feel like I'll be able to take it all in without getting too overwhemed. I think I'll be ready to discuss it in about a week, but I can wait or even lend someone my copy if they need it.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 12:55 AM | Comments (2)

January 12, 2007

a new friend

I've just made a new friend and it's a book. It's called "The Song of the Lark" by Willa Cather and I'll tell you how I found it, first. I was browsing through the classics section at an overstuffed used book store called Priceless Books and saw a book whose title struck me because it also happens to be the title of my favorite painting hanging in the Art Institute of Chicago. I thought it couldn't possibly be related to that painting but of course I pulled it out and there was the painting on the cover, tattered and looking cheap for being on an old paperback, but still my favorite. Definitely a keeper.

So I brought it home and started reading it. It tells the story of a young artist from Colorado, early 1900's, and her discovery of herself and her talents. A very worthy subject and well-handled. Can you tell that I spent a good part of last night reading it? My writing is not my own this morning but heavily colored by the language in the book. Except that she goes on and on about the details of everything, which I kind of like but don't have the patience to do myself.

Here's why I say I found a friend. Her description of the heroine of the story finding and loving this painting "The Song of the Lark" is exactly the same as my experience and my feeling. Exactly. It's like she stole it out of my head, except, of course, that it was written in 1915! I think this would freak me out a little if I wasn't already a twin and so used to finding my thoughts mirrored exactly in other people. Here's the passage:

"But in that same room there was a picture -- oh, that was the thing she ran upstairs so fast to see! That was her picture. She imagined that nobody cared for it but herself, and that it waited for her. That was a picture indeed. She liked even the name of it, "The Song of the Lark." The flat country, the early morning light, the wet fields, the look in the girl's heavy face -- well, they were all hers, anyhow, whatever was there. She told herself that that picture was "right." Just what she meant by this, it would take a clever person to explain. But to her the word covered the almost boundless satisfaction she felt when she looked at the picture." -Willa Cather

I've even gone to the Art Institute just to visit 'my painting'. It's hard to get the same experience from seeing it 2 inches square from a Google image search, although you can certainly get the gist of it that way. It's very dark with not a lot of contrast except for the sky, so it's probably hard to reproduce.

Anyways, this all makes me want to keep finding and reading more books so I can find more kindred spirits. A very good feeling. Especially for a cold mid-January day. (Not that cold, though, really. My snow drops think it's time to bloom!)

Posted by Bahiyyih at 09:21 AM | Comments (3)

January 10, 2007


Here's the next one! Are you tired of Jessica Harper's voice yet? Yeah, I didn't think so. Me either. I'll do something different next time though. Enjoy the sleeping babies! I sure did. Matthew, Amia, and Lucy are in here as well as my little ones. Can you tell who is who? Billy took most of the pictures that I used. He is so touched by sleeping babies in all their funny positions and sprawling exhaustion.

At the end there, Teresa says to her baby, "I love you, kitty. So much!"

Posted by Bahiyyih at 04:09 PM | Comments (1)

January 09, 2007

Thoughts on pride and humility

It has come to my attention recently how detrimental pride is to my development as a person. Happily, I've come to this from trying out the ideas of Leadership Education instead of from the usual mode of learning- painful tests. It's been like learning a dance- watching a dancer who knows the dance and imitating her movements, trying to learn their basic structure and see the grace in them and whether I can copy them. In the trying, feeling if this is the right dance for me to do and just taking it all in. I know I've said this before, but it just keeps coming back to me how important it is for me to acknowledge that I have a lot to learn in this life and to try to get comfortable with that.

My history with pride looks like this: feeling forcibly humbled early in my life and so trying to hang on to the appearance of self-respect through a prideful attitude, trying to be humble, but getting it confused with self-deprecation (which, ironically, didn't help the pride issue- there's the solid middle ground of a positive self-image that is lacking here), pride working pretty well as a survival mechanism through the turmoil of my growing up but fostering a feeling of separateness and even aloof-ness, my college experience only adding fuel to the flames by encouraging a defensive pride in whatever knowledge I had or tried to prove I had. There it is in one really long sentence.

Now, facing the enormity that is life, I have been humbled over and over and over by how little I know about so many things that are really important, like how to raise my children, how to live peacefully in a close, loud family, what it takes to have a strong marriage, how to live responsibly on/for this earth, how I can best serve humanity, what is important in education, and what is essential for developing a place where learning can occur. And the great, freeing thing that I just want to shout out from the mountain tops is, "I don't know! And that's OK!" (there's some true self-respect building up here too from the real things that I've accomplished and fears that I've faced)

That said, and that space made in my head for things to come in and be considered as potential answers, it becomes great fun to look around at the world and see what's out there. And it becomes what I want to talk about with friends- let's get down to the important stuff and talk about our ideas and those we've come across. Just think what the Baha'i community would be like if that was our main mode of conversation every day. That's where I want to be. Alright then. Time to "Be the change you want to see in the world" (Mahatma Gandhi, of course, the master of humility in action).

Posted by Bahiyyih at 02:14 AM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2007

Mama movie

Here's what I've been working on lately in the movie department. It's my first little mama movie. The music came first, of course, and inspired the presumption of putting pictures of my kids and I in front of it.

Posted by Bahiyyih at 10:36 PM | Comments (1)