Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Nothing Much

Not much to report. It just seemed wrong to end the year with a Heaven and Mall post. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year.

We plan to ring it in with special friends in Dallas with whom we have celebrated the last few years, unless the new baby decides to make an early appearance. Maybe we could have the first baby born in our county in 2006! Is there a prize for that? Steph is officially 37 weeks and 2 days along, so it could happen anytime.

Be safe and we'll catch up next year!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Heaven and Mall

The word that best describes the opposite of heaven for me has four letters and ends in double hockey sticks. That's right, M-A-L-L. There are few things I would rather do less than search for a parking space, fight through the crowds and over pay for stuff no one really needs anyway. However, Stephanie and I, being good Americans, ventured out to our local shopping center last Friday to do a little browsing and see a movie. It turned out the show we saw for free was more entertaining than anything Hollyweird could manufacture. Here are three simple observations about our visit to mall.

The first thing I noticed was the way people were checking out my wife. It was an interesting sociological study. Stephanie is tall, beautiful and 8 months pregnant. There were three basic groups of people checking her out.

1. Men. I would watch men's eyes as we passed them. They would look first at Steph's face (which put a grin on theirs) then down at her expansive belly, then quickly look away.

2. Women who have not experienced the joy of child birth. They would see the belly first, then raise their eyes to Steph's face, then look away in horror.

3. Moms. Ah, the wonderful secret society of women who understand that although children are a blessing from God, giving birth to them can feel like being tortured by the dark lord of mall! These women noticed the pregnant belly first, then looked up and held Stephanie's gaze with a knowing nod and caring eyes.

The second thing I noticed was a bit more shocking and disturbing. Let me preface this by confessing that I was a smart mouthed teenager who in my day, was capable of annoying adults with the best of them. I took special pleasure in my Jr. High School years at messing with mall security and doing silly things in public. And I fully realize I am now an old, crotchety, bitter person.

That said, you tell me if I'm making too much of this. At the back of the Brookstone store by the check out counter stood a display of two mattresses (one double and one single). There were two teenage couples spooning on them! One boys pants were half way down his backside. The store was packed with people and there were plenty of employees walking around, but no one seemed to be bothered by this. What the mall was going on here?

We left that store only to return about 25 minutes later to find one of the couple's was still there! The boy who was losing his pants was now covered by a blanket and his girlfriend was sitting by him on the edge of the bed! I looked at the girlfriend, but she just shot back a "Go to mall" look. I said something to the clerk, but she played it off before realizing that I was serious as mall about my concerns. She then told a manager who went over, but did nothing.

Note to homeless people: Stay safe and warm this winter. Simply visit your local Brookstone and sleep your days away!

Note to girl sitting on edge of bed with pantless boy: He's not worth it.

Note to self: Don't allow daughter to talk to boys until she is 30 and do everything you can to save her from mall.

The third thing I noticed is that there are A LOT of people in mall who are VERY concerned about my nails, my skin and my cell phone plan. They all seemed desperate to speak with me and tried to stop me, but I fled in fear.

Mall is a scary, if not interesting place to visit and I have no intentions of going back anytime soon. But you know what they say, the road to mall is paved with good intentions.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Musicians of Auschwitz

There's a great scene from one of my favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption, where a prisoner who has just served extended time in "the hole" (solitary confinement in a space not big enough to stand up in with no light) tells his fellow inmates it was the easiest time he'd ever done. He explains to them that he had Mr. Mozart and other great musicians to keep him company. He tells them that in prison they can steal your freedom, but they can't take away the music in your head and in your heart. It's a beautiful sentiment and one I believed until yesterday.

Yesterday I learned that even music can be stolen from a person if the thief is cunning and evil enough. Yesterday I learned about the musicians of Auschwitz.

Auschwitz was a concentration camp run by the SS in Poland during WWII. The vast majority of Jews who were sent there were murdered. However, Auschwitz also had an orchestra. Prisoners were told that they could audition for one of the 40 orchestra positions and if they were selected it meant extra food, daily showers and no hard labor. Those who made it considered themselves very fortunate until it was revealed how they would be used.

The powers that be ordered the orchestra to set up at the entrance of the camp and play upbeat marching songs as their fellow prisoners returned from forced labor having left some behind for dead and carrying others who could not walk. The marching music was not only unbelievably offensive, but seeing it being played by fellow Jews who were clean and well fed and not forced to participate in the manual labor made the others feel like their own brothers and sisters had turned against them.

They were also forced to play happy music in the death houses where people were literally on their death beds, and they played the role of welcoming band as new arrivals got off the trains and were separated into those who could be used for hard labor (10%) and those who would be taken to the gas chambers (90%). Even though the musicians knew what was going on, their only choice was to play or be killed. The music put the new arrivals at ease. They figured any place with a welcoming band at the train depot couldn't be all bad. The musicians had no choice but to propagate the lie.

Music saved the lives of those in the orchestra, but when they returned home after this experience, most never played again and some could not even listen to music because of the haunting memories. Their stories made me literally weep. I cried for them, I cried for those who never made it home and I cried for what I am capable of when evil lives in my heart.

Evil loves nothing more than to take what could be used for so much good (money, power, desire, intelligence, talent, music, art, the human body, community, etc.) and corrupt it. That is still the goal of Satan today and I am his prime target. So are you.

God help us.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Feeling Lowe's at the Home Depot

When "we" take on a home improvement project at my house, Stephanie and I play to our strengths. She makes a plan, gathers her tools and does the work. My job is to get out of the way, pay a few bills and, if Steph is feeling generous, she might entrust me with the task of going to the store and picking up whatever she needs. Even then she doesn't get anything done while I'm gone because I call her several times from the store with dumb questions.

Today I was sent out to get some thin set so Steph could finish tiling the bathroom "we're" remodeling. I braved the icy roads and headed to our local Home Depot. I found the flooring department, but I had a few questions for their experts so I set out on a search for help. After several minutes, I found a little old lady who assured me she would send someone to help me. I heard her page for help immediately so I stayed in the flooring section and waited...for 10 minutes. At that point I proceeded out the door to my car and drove across the street to the Lowe's store.

At Lowe's I devised a different game plan. I parked near the door by the "help" desk and went there first just to let someone know I was headed for flooring and would need some help. Once again, no help arrived, so I set out to find some myself. I thought I found it in the form of three female employees sitting around a desk in the kitchens department enjoying a warm beverage. One of them came back to flooring with me and stood beside me while I called Stephanie and received actual answers to my questions.

In twenty minutes at Home Depot and 15 at Lowe's the only interaction I had with an employee was initiated by me and of no help whatsoever.

I paid for the thin set, put the receipt in my wallet and headed to the exit closest to my car. On the short walk from the cash register to the exit I was stopped twice and asked to show my receipt.

Monday, December 05, 2005


We had a musical week in the Bailey family last week. Rainey had a violin recital on Thursday night. Her solo was scheduled about half-way through the program and she fell fast asleep while waiting her turn. She woke up just in time to play a moving rendition of The Flower Song and a duet with her Mom of The Little Drummer Boy (a violin classic).

She and I both participated in a Bluegrass show on Friday night. It's something our local college does every semester and we always enjoy performing in it. As you can see from the picture, Rainey was the lil'ist singer in the children's group. After the kids were interviewed they sang In the Highways from O Brother, Where Art Thou, but not before Rainey stopped the show down and asked for a step stool so she could be closer to the microphone. That's my girl!