Missing the Foxes.

I realize that a truly disciplined blogger will write every day, regardless of personal circumstances, they will find a way.  But sometimes I am sick, or sad, or busy (this weekend it has been a mix of the three, in fairly equal parts) and I just don’t care to make the effort.  Sorry for those times, if it affects you in any way.

Today, still sick, we set the show up at Mother Fool’s, we being my wonderful brother and me. I ended up limiting myself to nine pieces, which was good because it allowed me to edit a bit.  The biggest challenge in setting up today was working around the coffee sipping patrons (who were accommodating and also forgiving) but what do you know, it’s up.  It feels pretty good to have that art somewhere out of my personal living quarters.  People will actually see it!  Imagine that.  I will return tomorrow to add the title cards and my artist statement, and then it’s on to planning the reception which will be two weeks from today.  Hopefully by then I will have gotten rid of this cough and recommenced a normal pattern of sleep.  Nyquil, do not fail me!

Also, I feel like a bit of an idiot and a lousy comic strip aficionado, but I only recently learned that Bill Amend has retired from doing dailies of Fox Trot!  Apparently this shift in the universe occurred all the way back in January of 2007.  I just assumed the Wisconsin State Journal didn’t print the Fox Trot daily (and it should be said, I held this against them mightily).  To me, this is as great a blow to the comics world as Bill Watterson’s retirement, and even a greater blow than Gary Larson’s retirement (though many would take issue with that).  Fox Trot has always been my favorite comic strip.  I know we still have the Sunday issues but it is a mere sliver of the comic glory we once took for granted.  I know this is a bit overdue, but well done, Bill, and thank you for not leaving us completely.

Some people owe money.

I’m in debt a post about pie, specifically about pie shared between blogging, and now real-life, friends. Pie that was not merely crust filled with peanut butter and banana creme, but pie which, by joint decision, represented a mutual and indeed unifying friend who was not present. It is difficult to be the second person to write about anything, symbolic pie included. Perhaps being the second person to write about a topic should require that one write in the second person. So.

You sat across each other in a booth with plastic upholstery. It was comfortable, familiar, if not quaint. You weren’t even nervous when you met, you were old friends. You were new friends, too, and the pie was on sale that night so you each bought a slice. You probably could have talked all night, about books and writing and faded sitcoms. Nothing is embarrassing with this friend. “Who was your favorite Baby-Sitter? Dawn?” “Dawn!” “Of course.” “Of course.”And your mutual friend, you both bemoaned her absence but christened your pie as her proxy. This was understood simply as fact, which you sincerely appreciated. Why flock a good truth with unnecessary bits of qualifying humor? You helped the waitress win a free meal, both of you, by ordering your pie that night. She met her goal, and so did you. You’re real-life friends now. The Pie, it brought you together.

Andy, you’re a thorn in my sidebar.

After months of befuddlement, I finally figured out why my post entitled One Thing About Forsythia is wildly popular, globally speaking even, and has probably thrown a monkey wrench in any legitimate tracking of my readership. That is the post where I mention Andy Goldsworthy, and include a photo of his work. Well, if a person was to do a Google Image search of Andy Goldsworthy and scroll through the first page results to that particular photo, guess which location Google Image links them to? That’s right. Easel Ain’t Easy.

I feel used!

It’s not even fair, really, that this photo is bringing such traffic to my site, because I myself got the photo by doing a Google Image search. It’s not like I took the photo personally, and I certainly didn’t create the sculpture depicted there.

I can’t imagine this is interesting to anyone besides me, unless someone else tracks my stats with devotion (in which case, um, you’re a little strange!) but it’s one of those things I need to talk myself through. People aren’t coming in droves to read my blog, they are coming in droves to look at a photo that I didn’t even take. I’m tempted to take it down, but then again, maybe one in a hundred of those Google Image searchers stick around to read more. Maybe you are one of them?

Oh, Andy.

What is this strange thing you call a datebook?

Things happened in the wrong order today. First I bought tickets to the Rilo Kiley show in Milwaukee, and then I realized I already had a previous engagement that night. It’s maybe not such a big deal, I can sell the tickets and it’s not like I haven’t seen them before in various forms, and they aren’t even my favorite anymore in the same way that they once were. But it’s still a little disappointing.

After work today I went to measure my space at Mother Fool’s. Setting up a show is not my favorite part of having a show, really, although I’ve recruited some more class-A help this time! I always get the nicest people to help me set these things up, I must say. Since I don’t think I’ve posted the details here yet, here they are in advance (why would you want them after it’s over?)

The Black Line

Paintings by Breena Wiederhoeft
Month of April @ Mother Fool’s Coffee House
Reception on Sunday April 13, 7 – 9 pm
1101 Williamson St.
Madison, WI 53703

Now nobody go and tell me I’ve got something else going on that night–I can only take one major scheduling conflict per day, all right? Please make it to the show if you can!

Easter snow.

Though your sins are like scarlet you will be white as snow, and today, on Easter, it snowed.  Today it snowed giant Christmastime flakes and perhaps it was an attack on our fledgling spirits but it didn’t even faze us, there was just too much love in the room.  Although my drive to my parents’ house was complicated by this Spring blizzard, the roads home tonight were clear and dry, and was there music?  Yes, there was!  Maybe you are dying to know what my first post-Lenten album was.  I hadn’t given it too much thought before hand, and in the end my choice was predictable but nonetheless perfect: Sufjan Stevens, Come on Feel the Illinoise.  After 47 days without playing music there is no lovelier way to welcome it back into your life than by listening to this album during a car trip.  Was there Cherry Coke?  I have to admit that there was, mainly for the sake of staying awake while driving.  It felt a little weird to be drinking it again and I’d like to take that as a good sign, that maybe I’ve really kicked the habit (but I won’t make any presumptions here, not when it comes to Cherry Coke).  But, all right, what is this Easter business really about?  Why all the build up?

Though our sins are like scarlet we will be white as snow.

We sang a song in church this morning that I have always liked, but on Easter morning it seems extra fitting, especially the last two verses:

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

– From “In Christ Alone” by Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend

He lives that we might also.  White as snow!

Superficial Saturday Night

I don’t have anything to wear to church tomorrow!  It isn’t even a last minute realization–I’ve known all week long that I was without an Easter outfit.  I knew it today when my family was out shopping, but I preferred to take a nap.  When I was a young lass my mother, of course, picked out my Easter dress and bonnet, and droopy little white tights.  I wish that I had an outfit like that for tomorrow.  Probably I am writing about clothes because the rest of today’s events were of varying extremes.  I was at the bridal shower of a dear friend.  I was at the hospital visiting my grandmother.  Tomorrow we celebrate the redemption of mankind by one loving saviour.  It’s a little too much to process right now.

The darkest day.

I have never killed anyone.  I have never, in the course of my life thus far, shot, stabbed, poisoned, drowned, or in any other way taken the life from another human being.  But in my absolute failure to live righteously I have contributed to the death of the one man who ever lived who did not actually deserve to die.

This morning as I dressed for work I pulled on a kelly green polo–it would have been the perfect attire for earlier in the week when I forgot to overlook my true heritage for the sake of St. Patrick’s Day.  I was wearing this green shirt this morning as I brushed my teeth and I looked in the mirror and it was wrong.  The shirt was cheery and full of life.  Today is a day of mourning.  Without any fanfare I changed into a black sweater.

We have killed our King.

Good Friday.

I don’t know the man.

I had my first Peter moment when I was about 13 years old I would guess. This was the first time I can remember denying Christ, that is, and it’s not a pleasant memory. Prior to this I remember being bold and even reckless in my faith conversations. I remember asking neighborhood kids if they believed in Jesus. I remember being on vacation and asking strangers. Maybe I lost that spirit long before 13 years old, but it was at 13 years old that I distinctly noticed its absence.

I was at Art Camp at the local university. I was taking a photography course and there were a handful of kids I felt the need to impress. Looking back I’m not even sure why. One girl, a few years older than me, lived in my neighborhood. Another girl had, at age 13, already chosen her wedding dress, not to mention the boy she was going to marry. There must have been other kids, a crowd, enough to make me feel threatened, although I’m sure in reality they wouldn’t have cared one way or the other. We were all sitting around the courtyard eating our lunches in the shade. I was cross-legged on the paved ground with some of my camp-mates, and someone started a conversation about God. I was used to conversations about God–I attended a Christian school and we talked about God every day, it was curriculum. But here I was out in the world, unprotected. Here I was among artists and poets and philosophers, and they made it very clear how they felt about any Divine Being.

“I don’t really believe in God,” announced Ashley, the girl with the wedding dress, who was perched casually atop the brick half-wall. Noted, I thought in my head and continued to munch on my sandwich. “What about you?” Ashley asked, and all eyes were on me. It was the question I had been quietly dreading. “Are you a very religious person?” My heart began to race and I thought about a million different ways I could deflect the question, or answer with something “cool” like, “I have a soul and I know it’s connected to something greater, so yeah, sure, what’s it to ya?” In actuality I believe I took the world’s longest swallow on my peanut butter and gawked stupidly at my shoes for a few moments before muttering some embarassed answer. Maybe it wasn’t even a denial, I can’t remember my exact words. Isn’t an ashamed, “Yeah,” as bad as an outright, “Absolutely not!”? Maybe I said something about believing in God but not being religious (it’s always religion that is truly unpopular, rarely God), maybe I said something about my parents making me go to church (they have never made me), maybe I was simply noncommital: “I don’t know. Maybe, sort of, sometimes.” I don’t remember. I remember feeling a little sick afterward, I remember feeling guilty. The point is, I was not proud to align myself with God.

I think I heard a rooster crow that day.

Since then my life has been a series of denials and half-hearted admissions of my faith. It’s really sad to type that out. I would like to be bold again. I guess you could argue that this is bold, writing this here, on the World Wide Web, but really it’s not. This is easy. I want to be bold in my neighborhood, in my workplace, in my every day. I want to be that kid again, the one who bumps into another kid at the campground swimming pool and shares a laugh and then just puts it all out there. Or at least answers a question with confidence. I could be that kid. But it takes time.

Everything takes time.

Maunday Thursday.

The end of fast is fast approaching.

Not that it is at the top of my mind these days, but today it occurred to me (well all right, it has occurred to me on a few earlier occasions as well) that by this Sunday the fast will end. By Sunday I am free to crack open a can of Cherry Coke and crank up the tunes on my stupid little music phone, if I so desire. On Sunday evening as I make the two hour drive home I will be able to, for the first time since the beginning of February, drive to the sound of music and imbibe a gallon of Mountain Dew to stay awake. What will be the first album that I play, after these long days of quiet? I’m not sure yet. I’m not sure if I ever want to drink soda again. I’ve gotten rather fond of water and tea and fruit smoothies. I’m not sure if music is such an addiction any longer. I like to hear it, but I have also come to adore the quiet.  I really like having quiet time! And I think I’ve learned how important that is. Remember when I gave up blogging for Lent? Ha! This has been much healthier, I’m sure of it.

The Monday after Palms.

I didn’t write yesterday, but now I will write about yesterday. Palm Sunday is probably my third, maybe even second favorite holiday. There is something so lovely about it, after an already somber five weeks of Lent have passed, to have a day of celebration before the darkest days of the passion set in. Even though this celebration was based largely on a misunderstanding (that Christ was about to liberate the Jews from Roman persecution) I still like to imagine that at least for one day during his life on earth Jesus was recognized as a champion. Maybe this has always been more exciting for me than it ever was for Jesus. As a child I would imagine Jesus riding in on a donkey and beaming, delighted by the praise and adoration being lavished on him. But how happy could he have been really, knowing full well of the torture and eventual death that awaited him at the end of the week? How happy could he have been to know that these people who were waving palms so elated before him were completely missing the point? That these people were looking for a savior that would fall far short of what they truly needed? Maybe for Jesus Palm Sunday was a little depressing.

Regardless, I can’t help but love it, along with the pale reenactment that inevitably constitutes most church services on the day. Our service featured jubilant songs of “Hosanna to the King!” and a procession of children waving palm fronds. Adults in the congregation also got to wave palm fronds. I waved a palm frond. What is it about the palms that I love? To those of you reading this from Hawaii (ahem) or anywhere tropical, try not to take them for granted. To a congregation in Wisconsin who has just endured a seemingly endless gray winter there is nothing so promising as a bunch of green palm leaves being waved about. There is life, after all, in this dead world. There is hope! Great, green life, with even greater life to come. Palm Sunday may have originated out of a misunderstanding, but for the life of me I can’t get myself to focus on that. Palm Sunday is a taste, I think, of what is to come. There will be a real celebration. We will wave palms. And we’ll trade “Hosanna”s for “Hallelujah”s!

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    Breena Wiederhoeft
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