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In spite of a former co-worker's claim that “friends don’t let friends go to Starbucks,” I do. I let my friends go, I go myself, and I go with friends. What I appreciate about Starbucks is the consistency of their products. Consistency in both ways: yes, they are yummy, but mostly because I always know what I’m getting.* Most of the time.

I asked Dear Husband (hereinafter refereed to as DH) to bring me out a salted caramel mocha while I watched over the dog outside. Soon we were sitting in the winter sun, basenji at our feet staring longingly toward our cups, sharing a moment with the blessing of caffeine.

My drink was definitely not salty enough. Nor carmelly enough. In fact, it tasted rather bland, and I was surprised how dull a salted caramel mocha was. Surprised and disappointed. I thought maybe the quality of service at this particular Starbucks had plummeted.

When I had half an inch left in my cup, DH tells me they didn’t have any sea salt, so what I was drinking was a plain mocha.

Oh.

That makes sense.

But the odd thing about it was that the rest of the drink tasted fine. Now that I knew it was not supposed to taste salty and caramelly, it was really rather good. Excellent, in fact.

Would that I had known it was a plain mocha from the first sip.

That is much the story of my life. Really. I was raised during an era when parents told their children, “You can be anything you want to be when you grow up, even President of the United States!” The field was wide open and the world was a candy store. Fortunately I wasn’t so into politics, since only one person in 314,000,000 can be President. But my expectations didn’t match reality for much of the time. I drank the cup down quite a ways, before discovering I had been handed a plain mocha.

But the point is—the plain mocha is great! It’s warm, tasty, invigorating. Delicious from the first sip. Especially if you are expecting plain mocha. Even more so if you don’t even expect the mocha part. Goodness, a simple cup of coffee can make all the difference anyway! And now I know. And I’m grateful there is still at least a half inch in my cup to enjoy.




*BTW I do want it known that I invented the iced caramel machiato, though SB would never credit me. I was asking for it before it found its way on the board, and was even told once it couldn’t be done(you know, the caramel would be too cold to blend in well.) But now it’s a standard. Ta-da! I have a legacy.




 
 
Having had my windows of perception altered by brain and inner ear trauma, I've found myself often entertained by my mis-perceptions. The alternative, of course, would be to be frightened. But fear is a drag. So I amuse myself, and learn what I can. 
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Among the misreadings is one of my favorites. In My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, is the statement,

          “A child of the light confesses instantly…” which I read as,

          “A child of the light confesses insanity . . .”

I thought that was so profound of Chambers. Of course, to stay in the light, you need to confess your insanity—or insanities—and let God bring sanity back (or to you in the first place). I was actually pretty disappointed when I took a second look and found I’d misread, and Chambers was “only” advocating instant confession.

The problem, of course, is recognizing our insanity(ies). The classic adage relates repetition with unchanging results to insanity. That would be more easily recognizable (and subsequently confessed). But the insanity that came to mind was lack of discernment between reality and fantasy. How can we confess this? We don’t know we are living in a fantasy world—until we stop. Then our eyes are opened and we see as we should. One of the gifts of having experienced altered perceptions is now an openness to the possibility that my perceptions are misleading me. In truth, they probably always have been—to some degree. 

          Hey. So have yours…

 
 

...or, what to do when handed something that looks prickly to you...

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I had a wonderful high school biology teacher, and I loved field biology best of all. It was entirely worth the six weeks in summer school of full days in the classroom, lab, and outdoors. And from each of us a final project—a specialty.

For some reason whenever we encountered a thistle on a field trip, the teacher would hand it to me. At that time I didn't understand that he was offering me the opportunity to be the class Thistle Expert. The problem was, I didn't see the value in it. I didn't adequately appreciate thistles and I had loftier plans which, for the most part, now I can’t remember. I do remember I wanted to study the interplay between geology and botany, to read the landscape, to hear the earth speak. I disdained the opportunity to be the Thistle Expert, and passed it up.


 
 
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Last week I was (im)patiently waiting for a text from God. Feeling a little lost in some decisions and concerns, I needed a quick and simple answer. Er, I wanted a quick and simple answer. This has really been the place I’ve been stuck: what am I supposed to be doing? Am I doing it?

A few weeks ago I landed on Paul Steinbrueck’s blog Live Intentionally, where he posted “Discover Your Calling, Slowly.” He opens his post with: “Do you know exactly what you were created to do? If not, you’re not alone.” That in itself is comforting. (Yay! There’s a bunch of you out there wandering around just like me!) Once again, however, the comments from readers were stacked on the “I found my calling” side. Whaaa? Did they not get it? This post was not for them--or about them! So I left my comment.

In response, Paul shared a quote from Mother Teresa:


 
 
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I keep looking for a text from God. It’s a natural knee-jerky kind of thing based on our current technology milieu. I've developed a habit of reaching for my phone first thing in the morning and peering at its face before I can even get both eyes open. I had been in the habit of checking in with God every morning. So now the wires are crossed and I seriously have this inner conviction that I should be getting a text soon.


 
 
Sacramento hums. In the early morning I sit in the warm water of our hot tub—so Californian—and all around me rises the hum of traffic—Watt Avenue, Arden Way, even the distant highways—undergirding the whoo-hoo-hoo of the resident mourning doves in our back yard. It’s odd to hear, since there is no distinct rumble of a large truck or whizzing of sporty cars. Just a hum that, if visible, would rise like heat waves in a desert, thick at the source and spreading outward in undulating waves.

It is like I had once imagined God. Yes. Really. A low hum of power that somehow energized all I could see. A distant, impersonal generator of some sort. Hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Constant. Simple. An underrumble of creative force.
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But this was before I engaged my brain and realized logically that, if people have personalities, then God, to whom we attribute (our) creation, must at least have that much. And if It has personality, it would behoove me to figure out what that personality is. (Hopefully, It’s friendly!)  And if It has a personality, then, well, It must be a person. The words illustrate this: person : personality. And It probably needs a personal pronoun.


 
 

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I can’t help myself—when a turn of phrase strikes me as odd, no matter how hard I fight against it, every time I see it a strange image comes up, sometimes complete with narrative.

As in this case. 

My local grocery store is now selling, “organic” chicken that boasts on the packaging that it is vegetarian fed. I pick up a pack of boneless, skinless breasts and think, “So that is where all the vegetarians are going.” 


 
 
PictureGetting kids into mud...
…I’ve been doing stuff.

Which is the attempted answer to the question, “Are you still working on the story you started—how long ago was it?”

Twelve years. It was twelve years ago. Sigh. And, yes, I’m still working on that one.

But if I subtract the eight years working, and divide the remainder by 2 years of brain fog, and multiply by the inverse of the accumulation of quantifiable self-doubt, and the discouragement afforded by an editor who told me nobody is buying historical fiction (but, wait, that was 12 years ago!), I've really only been on it for 7 months. Part-time.


 
 
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I've been reading a lot of fiction lately—all kinds of fiction. This is a good thing, as for years I've had difficulty finding fiction that could keep my interest. I think I've finally figured out what makes me stick with it: it’s the overall aura or mood of the story, and the “feeling” the words evoke.

For a long time I have struggled to come up with a “favorite fiction.” The only book that would come to mind was The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. I read the book as a teenager, and, while I could probably analyze my attraction to it based on theories of teenage angst and powerlessness, what has stuck with me was it’s ambiance, particularly when the protagonist becomes self-aware in the midst of her invisibility. I don’t remember what she said, but I remember the revelation.



 
 
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I have been asked why this blog/website has been named WordLine. WordPile sounded too chaotic, and, well, though I love the image, I didn't want my words associated with a Pile. At least not just starting out. So that also left out WordCrock(!) WordPlay is too cliche, and doesn't encompass the entire vision since, let’s face it, words are serious business. WordLove sounds a little kinky. I could change it to a foreign language, say, something like LogoPhile. But alas, that’s been taken.* Plus, it doesn't encompass the magic that happens when words are strung together. Into sentences. Or lines. Lines that coalesce to create chunks that drip with meaning and emotion, visual and tactile.


 

    Carol E. Lerner

    Natural and Cultural History Interpreter, Writer, Storyteller, Wife, Mom,  . . .  Trying to make sense of it all, word by word.

    Fascinated by the power of story, whether through the oral tradition, written word, or visual and kinetic arts.

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