Monday, May 4, 2020

What was Your First Favorite Book?

Hello, Covid-19 World! If there was ever a time to wax rhapsodic about books, now works. We’ve been staying at home since 13 March. (That’s 13 March of 2020 if you signed up for updates to this blog nine years ago...) What was the first book I read on my own? My mom swears it was Erich Segal’s Love Story. She said I was five years old and she found me reading the dog-eared copy from the book shelf in her room. I think the sexy and sad parts were equally lost on me. But,I do kind of remember feeling guilty/ashamed/ and naughty for lifting it from her room. I don’t recall any better options though. I did love Nancy Drew mysteries and read them all. Even owned the matching collection. The ones with the yellow spines and the version of Nancy with the “That Girl” hair style and matching sweater sets and pearls. I liked Nancy’s spunk, keen mind, and confidence. I imagined I could make my way down a damp poorly lit stairwell with nothing but a flashlight even if reading the passage made me put off going to the bathroom on my own at night. I favored Carolyn Keene over Laura Ingalls Wilder. I had that set, too, but the covers were bland beige and a pinafore was not my idea of fun. Laura’s dad was cool and a musician. He seemed a better father than Nancy’s always engaged sleuth dad. I guess I liked my stories with a little more materialism and less pioneer spirit.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sanctuary for Unwanted Things

That's what Wylie referred to his room as this week. That Boy! When asked for instances he says: you know, the Bionicles, Transformers, old CDs and stuff like that. Since I have been saturated in fiction this summer, I immediately go for the metaphor. Why do you think your room was chosen as the Sanctuary?

He didn't get a chance to answer because something distracted us in the car and another conversation began. But, I can tell you a bit about sanctuary...

Wylie is the ultimate re-user in the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra. If given the chance to save something or throw it away, he never throws away. Now, in the extreme this is called hoarding I think. But, Wylie doesn't keep trash, etc. Only things of purpose and value. So, his room is a safe spot for unwanted items because Wylie sees value and purpose as unchanging constants. And, not only does he perceive these values as constant, he has catalogued them in his mind and can provide details about the time and place the things were acquired.

All of this could set Wylie up to be an amazing docent or curator. Maybe of his own collection?

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Meaning of Life

Above the white noise of his HALO REACH game comes the question: "Mom, what is the meaning of Life?"

Keeping with my professional training as a skilled educator--I stall for time.

"What do you think the meaning is?"

Wylie expands his original question: "What I want to know is, why is life so full of happy, good times but then sad and hard times?"

And, that shames me into thinking about this sad, lonely, ZigZagStraight blog....without a good post in almost a year.

The conversation that followed will be the subject of the next new posts!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Tale of Two Dental Visits

One of my favorite chapters of ZigZagStraight has to do with Wylie's first dental visit. A couple weeks ago, Wylie and I had dueling dental appointments. Mine--a routine crown replacement--was on Monday, Wylie's was on Tuesday. (I have to shout out, I go to one of the most respected dentists in the Loma Linda & Redlands areas. He is the dentist of dentists. Seriously. I highly recommend him). My dentist drew first: "Hmmm...well, uh...Jill...there's just not enough good tooth left for me to build a crown..." Next came words like "peridontist", "root canal", and then finaly "implant". And, with that last shot, I was down for oral surgery in two days. Until then, a steady diet of nothing--the temporary crown was hanging on through sheer force of my will--and motrin 24 hours a day. (I did receive excellent care under the careful precision of Dr. Zalsman in Redlands). Yes, #19 is no longer. And, in its place some bone from a dearly departed. My titanium root will be installed in a couple months. I am robot.

That was all on the Monday before Wylie's visit the next day to his dentist.

Now, if you didn't link to the previous post part deux of the duel will not really resonate with you, but for those of you who recall...

I pick up Wylie from school and begin the drive to Dr. Jiminez . We had a very positive experience there for the boys' cleanings. Wylie knew about the appointment so there was no surprises here. However, as we drove over anxiety began to leak out of Wylie like Niagra Falls.

"I'm not getting a shot, right?"


"It's not going to hurt me, right?"


"They're not going to make me smell anything, right?"

"Um...well, " I had to be honest. The doctor and I had agreed to use nitrous to help Wylie relax for the appointment. This revelation sends Wylie into full-panic mode. Campbell does his best to encourage him. This only increases the water pressure. I keep saying "You'll have to ask Dr. Jiminez, Wylie, do you trust him?" More water.

By the time we got to the office, the falls had dried up and Wylie presented himself stoically. The capable assistant invited "mom" to come back with Wylie, but I deferred to him. He said he was fine with just he and the doctor.

Out in the waiting room, Campbell did his homework sitting in the stump of an old tree and I immersed myself in a short novel under the watchful eyes of forest critters (Dr. Jiminez's office is fashioned after the 100 Acre wood). I tried to avoid all references to time so as to remain calm, cool, collected, detached.

A very short 45 mintues later, the capable assistant comes out with a briefing:

"He did great, Mom. Four fillings done and he did just fine. No tears or resistance. We had The Secret of Nimh playing on the screen and he was completely engrossed. Even told Doctor to move out of the way one time. He didn't want to get up because the movie wasn't over. Just so you know...he did tell us after that it was incredibly painful for him and that he was screaming in his mind." Because the staff had only seen Wylie once before, she didn't know how to take this declaration. I assured her it was quite normal for Wylie and they had succeeded where others had failed.

Soon after, Wylie comes out with a triumphant, yet somewhat nitrous-y grin. He never heard a word the assistant said about the visit. We all walk out to the car.

Campbell asks: "So, Wylie how did you do?"

Wylie: "It was so painful. I was screaming in my mind. But, The Secret of Nimh was on and the doctor couldn't hear it. I can eat in 30 minutes. Can we go to Blockbuster and rent Secret of Nimh and then to McDonalds, Mom? It will be 30 minutes then."

We drove into the sunset. Campbell looked at me through the rearview mirror, shook his head and rolled his eyes. Wylie was lost somewhere between his first and tenth nugget only 29 minutes away. As for me? I shook my head, too, except that made my mouth hurt and reminded me of my impending dental drama. With the entire left side of my bite shut down, 800 mg of motrin coursing through my veins and an empty stomach, I was pretty close to those Niagra Falls myself. But, looking over at my brave son, I decided to smile in my mind instead.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's in a Name?

Like this blog name for example?


There's a lot of zig zag going on at the Harris Ranch right now. Who knew that title would be at once descriptive and prophetic? This is a place-holder entry for future blogs on:
  • Wylie & I: dueling dental drama
  • 8/10 of a mile
  • Jehovah Jireh
  • Band mania

Wait for it!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The New Diary (of a Non-Wimpy Kid)

We are 11 days out from the adventure of middle school for Wylie and Campbell. Coincidentally, the movie "Diary of A Wimpy Kid" came out on DvD this week. We watched it and it is well-done, laugh-outloud funny.

Not surprisingly, Wylie is a big fan of this author and this series.

I cannot know now if Wylie's experiences in a couple weeks will mirror Greg and Rowley's, but one thing is certain: there will be stuff to write about.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Calling C.S. Lewis

I profess faith in God and in his son, Jesus. This defines many of the boundaries and templates of my life and my perspective. Having just celebrated Easter--the Super Bowl of Christian tradition some might say--it is especially troubling to me that I am having such a difficult time witnessing the end of my friend's life after a long battle with cancer.

It's difficult for me to even articulate my difficulty.

I don't think it's anger about the injustice of her struggles with a buffet of chemotherapies.
I don't think it's frustration about the cycle of hope and despair I've seen her go through.
I don't think it's sorrow for the days she will not have ahead.

Although all of these things are catalogued in my emotions, these are not the root causes of my own pathos.

I think it's fear.

And, if I am fearful about my friend's transition from this side of eternity to the other side, what does that imply about my own inevitable transition?

C.S. Lewis said, "Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret?  There are better things ahead than any we leave behind."

The first time I read those words I believed them, I think.

But, these past two days give me pause.

One good quote deserves another, so here's another:  

I would rather be ashes than dust!  I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than should be stifled by dry-rot.  I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow than a sleepy and permanent planet.  The proper function of man is to live, not to exist.  I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.  I shall use my time.  (Jack London)


I am all for living and not simply prolonging. But, I wonder why I am seemingly unconvinced about the better things ahead just now.

I'm calling C.S. Lewis.  I'm using a spiritual shout-out on Christianity Cash-Cab.  I don't know the answer and time is running out.