Friday, June 30, 2006

Living and Dreaming

I know we're breathing. I know we're not bedridden. For both of these things I'm extremely grateful. Life still holds us. Death doesn't seem close, at least most of the time. But this life we're living is confusing. It's often gray and jumbled...sometimes it gets dark, but the darkness is more like a mosquito that comes and lands on you and is very annoying. Sometimes it stings, but then it's gone quick as it came. Mostly there is soft contentment even in the darkness, a peace that is beyond our understanding. For that I'm very thankful as well.

Housebound. Yes, I guess we are. We push ourselves not to be, but it's always a hard push. There are usually consequences afterwards that aren't fun - head and body aches that turn into colds, worsened fatigue, no food to eat because we haven't been at home preparing it and we're too allergic to pick up a pizza.

The world is out there. It continues. It tempts us. It rains and shines on us. We're apart from it even when we venture into it. People see us and don't understand why we weren't at this or that wedding or shower or the barbeque that they invited us to. We're existing in a way that makes it almost impossible to share much of ourselves or our resources. Making conversation is difficult when we're not part of everyone else's world.

We bring other worlds home from the library and the movie store. We enter them. The ability to do that is a gift we don't take for granted. We know we need those worlds. We live in those worlds until we can return to ours. Sometimes we're in those worlds longer than we want to be. We have to get out of them but we're too sick to move. At those times, music saves us. All kinds of music. We listen, we laugh, we cry, as we create new memories with new music or conjure up memories with the old. Video game worlds help as well. (I never thought I'd be so thankful for video games for my children.)

When all those worlds have to be tucked in at night, we dream. If we were able to truly live, what would we do? What is important to us? Why? We dream, we hope, we pray.

Sometimes we get impatient. Sometimes we forget how sick we are. Or maybe we just keep trusting that we will be better...soon. An opportunity comes to help us live out our dreams. We have to try. We are still on this planet and we are breathing, as I mentioned before. We aren't bedridden and if you don't look too closely, we don't look that sick. So we push ourselves to have company over, go out and sing in choir, audition for a play, help make a movie, or book a trip to the midwest to visit family. We take the risk. Our adrenaline starts flowing. Our smiles get brighter.

One day we won't have such harsh consequences afterwards. One day we'll wake up and we'll be able to do so much that we'll be too busy to try to live out our dreams. Or maybe that's what this time "away" has taught us - not to be.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

More About Pieter Bruegel

Pieter Bruegel the elder was my age when he died. (Look it up yourself.) He didn't have time to instruct his boys and their skills never matched their fathers. Comparing the two pictures gives you that insight even though neither image can do a bit of justice to the original paintings. Pieter Brueghel the younger inherited a tradition that his father had inherited. According to Paul Johnson in, Art: A New History, " Bruegel inherited the Flemish tradition of detailed 'reading' pictures, in which scores of separate incidents, illustrating a common theme, have to be read like chapters in a book....Most of his ("Old" Bruegel) reading pictures, 'Netherlandish Proverbs,' 'Children's Games,' and 'Battle Between Carnival and Lent,' for example are mainstream storytelling, done with extraordinary ingenuity and skill....These works were simply intended to give delight, and have succeeded, over four centuries."

'Hunters in the Snow' is, according to Paul Johnson, one of the dozen best-loved pictures in the world. (Wow!) In A Treasury of Art Masterpieces, Thomas Craven comments, "It hardly seems possible that Bruegel, with no antecedent suggestions, could have taken landscape, hitherto a decorative adjunct to figure painting, and at one stroke, have made it an art in its own right. His work in this field, in construction, depth, and the relation of the natural background to the occupation of man, is equaled only by the cosmic, autumnal scenes of Rubens." 'Hunters in the Snow' is part of a series of landscapes to show the seasons. Six were completed (it is thought he may have planned 12 for each month,) but one has been lost.

Even though he couldn't personally teach his sons, his works provided an extraordinary example from which to learn from.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Dance Around the Maypole

For quite some time I've wanted to see a Pieter Bruegel the Elder painting. I think we somehow missed "The Adoration of the Kings" at the National Gallery in London when we visited a couple of years ago. A reason to go back :). Above, is his "Netherlandish Proverbs," done in 1559. Unfortunately, the painting's current home is in a museum in Berlin.

However, the next best thing to seeing a Pieter Bruegel the Elder painting is to see a painting by his eldest son, Pieter Brueghel the Younger. (The original spelling of their last name was with an "h" which the sons retained, but the father dropped at one point in his career.) Pieter Brueghel the Younger was known as a "copyist," copying the style of his father. With a painter like Peter Bruegel for a father, who became known as the best Flemish painter of the 16th century, that seems like it would have been the best way to go! Brady, Erin, and I were able to see "Dance Around the Maypole" at the University of Utah Fine Arts Museum in May. Viewing this painting was pure delight. The vibrant colors in the painting made the scene come alive. My 3-D graphic artist son was impressed with the depth of field the artist captured in the whole scene, but especially in the river as it flowed out of the village to a distant mountain. It's an oil painting done on panel which gave the paint a thinner, more opaque look - a "dainty" feel, compared to the heaviness an oil on canvas can give.
Certainly a treat for the eyes. (Click on the pictures for a larger image.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Back in the Saddle

It's taken me awhile to get "back in the saddle" with our home life after being gone a month. Now it's time to get "back in the saddle" with blogging :)

The big question is: Are we feeling better?

The answer is yes and no. If we look back to April, we can see that we have improved a bit. We are a little stronger. If we try to "do things" it doesn't take us quite as long to recover...usually. Each day there are still hurdles to jump - various aches/pains/allergies keep us from doing all that we'd like to do. We can get discouraged if we don't look past those things to see the overall picture.

The next big question: Do we have to move?

NO! We didn't feel so much improved in the dry climate to need to think about moving to one. Also, my husband located a source of mold in our home (in the air purifier filter portion of our furnace of all places) that could be removed. We also had the whole house fogged with a special (very expensive) chemical that kills molds and neutralizes the mycotoxins from molds, along with having our ducts and vents vacuamed out. We think we've found the source of why we weren't able to eradicate our yeast/fungal infection. Now our medicines and supplements should be able to make progress and help our bodies to get back to normal. That's our prayer.

The BIG Answer: Our Triune God

When we found out about our incredibly high mold antibodies and we didn't know what was causing that problem in our bodies we thought we'd have to move, possibly to another state. We thought we'd become so sensitive to the various molds in this climate that we'd have to move to get better. We wanted to get better, but we DID NOT WANT TO MOVE. We prayed to get better and to be able to stay in our we know many of our friends and family prayed too. An answer of yes to both of those requests seemed impossible. But "with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26) He has taught us this, so we are not afraid to ask him for the "impossible."

The next big answer: The prayers of the saints

We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love we've been shown. Your prayers, notes of encouragement, phone calls, care of my husband while we were away, have blessed us more than you can know. God heard your prayers and built us up with them. We thank our God for every remembrance of you.(Phil. 1:3)

My mom gave me a wonderful reminder that Jan Karon had illustrated so wonderfully in one of her Mitford books (mom read the passage from the book to me over the phone this week.) "In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (italics emphasis mine.) 1 Thess 5:18. Keep thanking God for what He has given the Mcs this last year and a half. He is working it for our good. (Rom 8:28.) Thanks be to God!