Gratitude #3

 In this third gratitude essay, I focus on my dad. I have written many essays about him and his influence in my life, which you can find by simply googling his name—Robert Wallace Blair.  Or look here.I am grateful that Dad’s heart was always good, that his fidelity was constant. He has expressed regret that he wasn’t fully present for us kids as we were growing up, though I remember him as very much a presence. Perhaps as he settled into his professorship, he spent too many hours aw … [Read more...]

Christmas Church in China

dad in Shangdong with woman

“Do you actually believe in GOD? Do you PRAY to him? Do you think he lives in the clouds?” These were the chants of my parents’ students in Shandong, China upon learning that Mom and Dad were Christians. The questions mocked–as though the askers had been collectively coached in how to deride religion. But outside the classroom, the questions and the tones changed. The year was 1980, just a decade after the Cultural Revolution. Mom and Dad, accompanied by my baby sister (Carol), were teachin … [Read more...]


poor clares

(Part I of this series is here.)CloistersWhen my friend Robinlee and I visited the Old Mission in Santa Barbara, California, we happened on two statues--one of St. Francis of Assisi and the other of St. Clare. Most Christians are familiar with St. Francis's life and words. We sing his poem, "All Creatures of our God and King", which celebrates nature as God's grand cathedral. St. Francis and his chaste friend, Clare, began new orders for monks and nuns on Palm Sunday in the year 1212. … [Read more...]

Dad at the Graves

dad at the graves

Holy Sonnets: Death, be not proud BY JOHN DONNE Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so; For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery. Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost … [Read more...]

Yucatec Maya Noun and Verb Morpho-Syntax

margaret and dell in Xocampeche

My father's doctoral dissertation is titled Yucatec Maya Noun and Verb Morpho-Syntax. I find that an impressive, even intimidating title, though I'm not sure what it means. I amazed my elementary school teachers when I told what my dad “did.”  Nothing common like doctor, lawyer, banker or accountant.  My dad was “an anthropological linguist.”  Picture me at age eight saying that. The typical response was, “Oh.”When I think of Dad working on his dissertation, I see myself romping around a sand … [Read more...]