Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Empty Boxes

Well, it's over for another year. The empty boxes are stacked up, trash can overflowing with discarded who-knows-what. We have been blessed with another Christmas! Despite my fears and misgivings, I was able to bless my children with gifts, and in the eyes of any second or third world onlooker, they are spoiled.

The fact is, I rub shoulders exclusively with first worlders, and compared to the average American, our Christmas was modest. That's not to say we were not extremely blessed and thankful. We revelled in the day, in wonder at our blessings.

But the truth is, each morning our boxes are all empty, no matter how full they may have been the night before, and we await the filling of ourselves from the Master Giver, from Whom all Blessings Flow.

Gloria In Excelsis Deo!

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I've been feasting lately. Don't worry. It's not a holiday binge, although on second thought, maybe.

You know how athletes in training, and kids who are growing eat you out of house and home, because they use up calories so fast they can't seem to get enough? Well that's how my spiritual life has been lately. I've been running a faith/trial  marathon, and I can't seem to get enough encouraging, admonishing, and correcting words if I go too long without truth-the kind you get from reading the Bible or attending church. I feel a need to contemplate a steady diet of truth to soothe my battle-scarred soul. I'm a bottomless pit!

It really is remarkable how you can be hungry for truth, get some, and the next hour, need more.

Proverbs says the wise man is hungry for truth. I hope I'm getting wiser. I've certainly devoured my quota of truth lately. How about you? Any truth feasts?

Thy words were found, and I did eat them. -the Bible

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Castle Living

We toured a castle this weekend. I've often fantasized about living in one. Turrets, braziers in the great room, tapestries on the wall, a roast pig turning on a spit on the hearth, and of course a moat to keep out undesirable enemies. I would be the lady of the castle and order delicacies caught on the expansive grounds and prepared in the kitchen below in stone ovens. Entertainment would be provided during our elaborate feasts by courtiers, musicians and artisans, and everyone would revere the lord of the castle, my husband, of course! Our conquests and magnanimous treatment of everyone in our employ (noble knights included) would be known throughout the land.

That was before my furnace went out.

I had heard that castles were cold. Somehow I'd left the actual temperature out of my fantasy.

We've been waking up to temperatures under 60 F. I must concede that a castle just might get colder than that, unless you're glued to the fireplace.

I've been very attached to my fireplace lately, but last night we used up the last of the firewood. Which is why today, I'm typing this post at my local (warm) coffee shop. My lord (hubby) told me that the price of a cup of coffee would be cheaper than cranking up the electric space heater or turning on the oven, again. I'm not in a castle. But I'm warm.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


It only takes a spark
to get a fire going
and soon all those around
can warm up to its glowing
that's how it is with God's love
once you experience it
you want to sing
its fresh like spring
you want to pass it on

Do you remember this 'hippie song' from the seventies?

When I was a teen we used to sing it every week in our youth group meeting. Songs come and go in popularity, but love never does. This weekend, we have been surrounded by love, of all kinds, from all corners, and we are still in the warm glow of it all.

My children reminded me that they are huddling under multiple blankets at home, because our furnace is broken and the part is on order. Oops, sorry kids. I however, am still in the warm glow of their love, as they once again sent us off joyfully to have our weekend alone.

I hope you, my reader, are surrounded by love in your life. If not, I hope you'll find a warm spot to huddle up next to, and nurture your soul with people who love you. Perhaps that may even be in the words of a gifted writer. I've been enjoying the writings of George MacDonald lately as he ruminates about the intimate and real love of our heavenly Father. Perhaps you are the spark of love for others as well.

Go and warm your world!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Weekend in Napa

We have successfully ensconced ourselves in the charming B&B in Napa that is our yearly retreat. What a refreshing blessing it is to get away from home and work responsibilities and just enjoy a few days together. Time seems to stand still for a while so we can catch our breath!

Our host and hostess spare nothing to make our stay comfortable and we are truly spoiled. We do have a bit of work to do (Jim plays piano, and I help facilitate) but the rest of the time is free. The other people that come each year to help along with a few new faces, are friendly and welcoming and the entire experience is a delight.

The weather is mild this year, and promises to continue so, although we heard the wind whipping around the corners of the hundred year old tudor mansion while we were snug in our bed last night.

The Historic Inns tour begins today and we are expecting 450 guests. We have checked in on our children, and are proud that they are managing well without us. After the roller-coaster ride of this year, we are so grateful to be at Cedar Gables Inn once again, and have this familiar place to re-charge for the coming year. Thanks to all of you who made it possible. Just in case you don't know who you are: Ken and Susie Pope, Lana, Emma, Clara, Janna, the good folks at Europa who fixed our van for a great price, Fed Ex (the provider of the $ to fix the van) and our Heavenly Father who orchestrated it all! Play on, Maestro! We are your instruments.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Good and Bad: In God's Hands

Life has been a swirl of change, good and bad as of late, and I have been somewhat remiss in not sharing it all with you, my adored readers!

First of all the bad news.

My hubby's foot pain (from dropping the pool filter on it) has mysteriously moved to the other foot and we now suspect he is suffering from gout. So in the middle of the injured foot getting better, the other foot began to give him excruciating pain. Remembering back to the evening with the magician, we realized he consumed not one but possibly more than three serious gout causing foods, and so the roller-coaster ride continues.

The disability check we were counting on for this week will be delayed because of a clerical error (not assigning blame anywhere here) and the weekend we were looking forward to in Napa will be just a little different than we imagined. That is of course, unless the foods and fluids which I've been researching on google and pumping into him will take effect and give a miracle cure.

Then last night, our daughter came home with the news that a steering column bolt had snapped off the van and she was barely able to drive it home. Thank goodness she had not been far from home at the time!

On to the other good news!

The faith lesson we've been attempting to extract out of this is a rich one. We'd just begun (again) to memorize and chapter of the Bible-Colossians 3, which begins with, "Since then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above.." and are learning just how to do that when one's problems are so, well...earthly! One way is to keep remembering that God has everything under control and it is only by trusting Him that we can have peace of any kind. We have had moments of every kind of emotion, as you can well imagine, but are determined that we are safely in His hands. No other view seems sane!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dinner at the Magician's House

What was going to be a routine Friday evening at home turned into a very special evening with two new friends.

In the interest of everyone's privacy, I won't give out details, but after being invited to a home for a special treatment for Jim's bum foot, we ended up staying way past and through dinnertime, at our host's insistence,  and had such a lovely time that I can only describe it as magical!

We enjoyed a fine meal, great music and conversation with our new friends, who treated us royally, and laughed along with us at the hilarity of life.

You never know when an ordinary day may turn into something very special. Thanks, guys!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Gift Shopping

I haven't done any holiday gift shopping yet. Is that weird?

Not that I wouldn't love to, but I just haven't.

But then, by this time 2000 years ago, Mary hadn't done hers, either. It didn't affect the outcome.

Am I a Grinch? Far from it.

Am I stingy? I certainly hope not. If it was within my power, all my family and friends would have all of their heart's desire under the tree. Or at least as many of them as it would be healthy to give them. I love giving gifts!

Life has not afforded me the privilege of giving materially as I would like. And this changes me as a person. Every year.

Most years I manage to feel reasonably satisfied with what I have given. But there is always the suspense, the wondering...will I be able to give this year? Sometimes I imagine Mary in rapt wonder at the Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh given (for her delight as well, I'm convinced) to her son, knowing that she and Joseph could never have provided such lavish gifts.

Yes, I've tried the 'save all year for a Christmas fund'. This year the Christmas fund was liquidated to help pay a large bill in the summertime. There are reasons for this, and I fear even explaining them would make you jump to the erroneous conclusion that God has not provided for us.  I'm just saying that no matter what, every year is a wrapped, unknown present for me. I never 'sit all the way down' until the end you might say. I struggle with being content with my present ability to give. I always long to give loads more!

The things I'm learning through this are hard-won, but priceless. Dependency on God, humility, the ability to see beyond the tinsel, and cheesy red and green gimmicks. For all it's changed me, I'm certain God isn't finished with me, but it hasn't been easy. Who said life would be?

Perhaps, someday, things will be different. But, for now, I must receive the gift I've been given.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tom is In the Fridge

Yes, the bird is lying in state at the proper temperature.

The dough for the rolls lies near.

The potatoes are snug in their bag, not knowing the horrendous fate that awaits them.

The green beans are cylindrically challenged, and along with the french fried onions, the corn, cranberry sauce and yams repeat the theme. Soon, they will take their place as part of the supporting cast.

Pie crust, folded now, will unfold to bear pumpkin and pecans. Marshmallows and cool whip are in the wings. 

Around the table, not yet set,  are the chairs which will hold the extra weight put upon them in just three short days. And we trust they will hold us.

The question is:

Are we thankful enough to deserve such a feast?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Still Counting Blessings

To my dear women friends who have a husband who loves them just the way they are,

We are blessed!

Even on our fattest, ugliest, worst-hair-days, they see us as beautiful. They still want to touch us, and they accept us even on the days when we feel our least attractive. We must  accept and cherish this with our whole heart. We must live in the moment. There is no other moment to claim. We have been given a tiny glimpse of our Heavenly Father's limitless love for us. Our husbands are His instrument.

To my dear women friends who don't have a husband who loves them, or are single,

I can feel your pain, and yet, you are blessed. To you is given the rare and wonderful opportunity of crying out to the One who said "I will be a husband to you." The one who has invited you to His marriage supper, and loves you beyond human imagination.Your lack of a loving husband is His instrument too. He works all things for our ultimate good.

In whatever situation you find yourselves, if you look for God's blessings, you will find them. Go treasure hunting today for yours. And then let me know what you find. I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kiss and Tell

I think you'd be hard pressed to disprove the depravity of man. Few things are more obvious than the truth of the phrase I heard in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire the other night. "All men are liars." For a fantasy writer, Rowling's not far off the truth.

One only has to look inside oneself to confirm the sad fact. I reflected back on a time when, recently to cover up my obvious lack of knowledge on a subject, I spoke quickly and smeared reassuring words all over the situation. Of course this wasn't the only time I'd done that. I wish I could say it will be the last.

Big deal, right? We've all done it. But what if a teacher does it? a surgeon? the president? What if every single person did this every day? We may very well employ a variation of this type of falsehood regularly. And small lies often lead to big ones.The headlines from my newspaper today were a literal trash heap of stories. There was the man who perpetrated the shooting rampage in Texas who is being forcibly medicated to stand trial while adamantly denying doing it (there were plenty of witnesses), the city leaders in my town that were involved in a massive cover-up of a misuse of government funds, and the firing of two bridge workers who falsified information on the safety of the Oakland Bay bridge, to name a few. The list continues seamlessly day to day. And these are only the lies other people found out about.

Contrary to the belief that the world is evolving into a better place, and that humans are becoming higher beings, we have only increased the possibility for deceit with all our technology and modern 'wisdom'. Among the other ills of contemporary life we now have insider trading, insurance fraud, and identity theft.

I'm really not a pessimist, and I'm not a very astute realist either.  But, from time to time, one must tell oneself and others the truth. "An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips." So goes the proverb. We need a whole lot more kissing out there!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Upside; Surprisingly Good News!

When asked if the divorce rate, and the crime rate was going up or down, what would your answer be? Yeah me too. Up, right? Not according to Dr. Bradley R E Wright, professor of Sociology at University of Connecticut in his entertaining little book, Upside. Citing many recent polls and research, he asks and answers questions about social topics from world income levels, to environmental concerns. Literary rates and life expectancy, even suicide rates are two other surprises. They've all improved statistically. In most of the areas he explores, Dr. Wright concludes, with a sprinkling of self-deprecating humor, that the world is a better place now than it has ever been.

I enjoyed reading this book, in part because I was intrigued by the title. In the middle of 'doom and gloom' news-casting and preaching, I needed cheering up. The good doctor has done it!

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in return for my honest opinion.

The Gift of Language

Have you ever wondered what language Adam and Eve spoke?

I recently heard Ken Ham speak on the Origins of the Earth, and it got me to thinking about some assumptions that are commonly made about language.

First of all, we tend to believe that language began from a primitive state, and developed more sophistication as time went on. My experience with the English language is just the opposite. Although we are adding technical words daily, and creating cultural jargon, the language itself is becoming more utilitarian in nature, and in some cases more primitive. Take, for example the language of texting: Cn u c wut I mean? Most linguists agree that there is no evidence of primitive language in the historical record. When language appeared, it seemed to be highly complex.

Another assumption is that written language is an upgrade. Well, this may be true.  A physical symbol has greater historical presence than an oral (non-recorded, that is) recitation. But, the value of recitation, as it was used in 'old-school' education, is that it belongs exclusively to the learner's memory, and is therefore retrievable immediately, in any circumstance or location. Even the Kindle can't promise this!

We often think of language as a 'human invention'. The book of Genesis records God's words, "It was good," as being the first uttered.  As many questions as this raises, it also changes our way of looking at language. Communication, in the form of words, is a gift from God.

Imagine for a moment, a day without words. Enough said.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Junk Drawer of My Mind

It's time I sorted out the odd collection of things that are stuck in a corner of my brain. Feel free to check out if you have your own 'drawer' to clean. But I'm betting you have some of the same things in yours!

Unusual pronunciations:

Newscasters do this to annoy people like me - they change the syl-'la-bic accent from 'normal' usage. Ex. 'de-tails become de-'tails, har-'rass-ment becomes 'har-rass-ment. Why must they make up these new accents?

The word 'nuclear' gets mispronounced as 'nucular'. If they could read their own subtitles, this wouldn't happen! (Presidents sometimes do this too.)

Worn out phrases and words:

I read the last "that being said" I ever want to hear -  a couple years ago. Likewise the phrase, "Let me unpack this for you", makes me want to take a long vacation. I'll unpack myself, thank you.

Publishers dozing off?:

Twice, TWICE this year I've been in the middle of a good book, only to discover that a couple dozen pages are out of place, or missing. Who lets these books out of the gate?

Well-known authors get away with glaring editing problems. Tolstoy's lengthy War and Peace contains lots of, well, dryer lint caliber verbiage smack in the middle. That was a long time ago, you say? Well, Rowlings gets away with this too in The Goblet of Fire.

Useless odds and ends:

Does it bother anyone else that the library is always out of CS Lewis books? Oh, well. Just me then.

Vulgar bumper stickers, and appendages hanging from cars? Aren't there laws against this?

Labels on food often ONLY list certain culturally important ingredients, such as fat, sugar and calories.

It is not cute, in the interest of marketing, to re-spell right as 'rite' or are as 'r'. 

Well, that leaves only a few dust bunnies of verbal junk in the corners.Room for more to collect.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

New Beginnings

Every day, we get a chance to start life all over. To chart a new course, to change direction, to take new wind into our sails. Often, it is a word, or a circumstance that causes us to feel a need for change.

Truth, when it is before us in the form of a story, a friend's look, a song or even just a 'knowing' can lead us almost intuitively into change, discovery and a discarding of something no longer necessary for health and well-being. So it is that I find myself at the headwind of a new perspective on my life, once again. This is not earth-shattering news, just a new day, coming a little later than yesterday, giving me another hour to think things through.

And I am thankful for it.

When we embrace truth, there is joy; when we are in the arms of a lie, there's the devil to pay.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


I have always been struck by how timeless the words and themes of William Shakespeare are, even to the present day. Strains of the all-too familiar - love, deceit, murder, jealousy and guilt - run through every play.

My own experience of watching Macbeth it rendered it the bloodiest play I've seen of the bard's.

Friday night, I went to a high school production of Macbeth, and was once again astounded at how many phrases from Shakespeare's scripts have trickled into common usage. 'Double, double, toil and trouble',  'what's done is done' and 'screw your courage to the sticking place', are a few that I heard.

I went with my college age daughter, who is a thespian, and needed extra credit for her theater class. We had just settled into the first twenty minutes or so, about the time the show becomes quite ominous, and the stage filled with fog when Macbeth got even bloodier. "I have a bloody nose!" she whispered. I fumbled in my purse for a non-existent tissue. "Use your scarf!". I urged. Actually it was my scarf, and it was all we could find to staunch the dark red flow that we were trying to hide from the audience around us.We had chosen a seat that was far away from the exit, and a front row at that. There was no chance of going out without being completely disruptive. Finally, it stopped. We found a bottle of hand sanitizer and washed our hands multiple times.

The killing continued onstage. Macbeth and his wife were exposed as the murderers they were.

"I feel like I still have blood on my hands." My daughter whispered. When we got home, we noticed there was a spot of blood on the program. "I can't wait to hand this in to my teacher!" She said, delightedly. Four centuries later, and how relevant the bard is!

(Good thing we're not superstitious!)

Day What? Lake Tahoe From 33,000 Feet

Okay, I'm slacking off. I've skipped a whole week of posting. I could offer excuses, and this video will show one of the things my husband and I were doing this past week, but nonetheless, I'm back. The perspective a little mini-trip gives is so refreshing, isn't it?

Today, I'm thankful for you! Those of you reading this post. I'm humbled that you took the time, and I'm hoping that you'll share a word or two with me. Your feedback is invaluable. Your unique perspective is needed in the lives of those around you!

What are you thankful for, and why?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Day 7: Thankful For Family

I was a Hamilton for 27 years. I have always been proud to be a Hamilton. I have been equally as proud to be a Maris for 25 years. Both heritages consist of creative, God-fearing, hard-working European-American immigrants.  By next year I will almost have been a  Maris for as long as I'd been a Hamilton.

This weekend I spent time with more Marises than I'd ever seen at one time.

We celebrated Dad Maris's 80th birthday with most of his brothers and sisters, and all six of his children and most of their spouses. My mother-in-law and my sister-in-law tease each other by calling one another 'Mrs. Maris' because  it is our married name and we share it. More Mrs. Marises joined us! There were 5 of 7 original Marises present as well as all 6 of grandpa's children, and the in-law Maris wives. (This is beginning to sound like the St Ives poem about wives and cats!)

After several decades of people hearing my married name and asking if it had two r's, I was surrounded by a roomful of people who knew my name and shared it. There's some sort of gratification in that, you know?

To top it all, I discovered what I suspected. They're all lovely people with whom I would have wanted to spend time, even if I wasn't related! 

The party included lots of food (surprise) and lots of stories about Grandpa and their life in rural Kansas. There was some discrepancy about the memory of a butchered hog being hung in one of the bedrooms to cure, and a highly corroborated story about Grandpa (Robert is the oldest son, after all) being some sort of family policeman, keeping kids in line. No surprise there either.

Grandma Maris worked very hard to put it all together and bring people from multiple states in one month's time without Grandpa knowing!

But the best part of all was the signature half-grin on Grandpa's face all weekend long. It was a memory for a lifetime, and I'm honored to be part of such a wonderful family!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 3: Say It

Being grateful is a choice.

A little like love. It's nice to feel grateful, but being grateful is a higher option.

Saying "thank-you" to your husband or wife for the things they do for you every day can really put oil into the relationship.

Have you thanked your parents for their input, and sacrifice into your life? How about your boss? He or she provides work and a paycheck.

Here are some templates for you to use if you're feeling shy or tongue-twisted about thanking someone:

"I really appreciate the way you___________________________."

"Thanks for making it possible for me to______________________."

"I'm really grateful for your_________________________________."

"____________________has been a big blessing to me. Thanks!"

You probably won't have to say anything else, because your recipient's jaw might drop in silence.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day 2: Things That Grow

This morning I enjoyed beans from the coffee plant, grown far from here in mountainous regions at optimum temperatures, picked, roasted and ground at their peak, brewed in scalding hot water, at just the time I had scheduled my coffeemaker to turn on.

With my coffee I had nutty, rich buckwheat pancakes from golden grain grown in a sunny field, harvested, threshed, and ground to a fine flour, mixed with oil, pressed from the tiny kernel of beautiful yellow sunflowers. I poured over them maple syrup, made from sugar extracted from green, willowy canes, and flavored with maple which dripped from the bark of a hardwood tree in the frigid early spring of the year.

All this, for pennies, I found in the various storage areas of my kitchen, the product of several seasons of labor. I made it in minutes.

I am so thankful for all things growing, and the people who tend and harvest them!

What about you?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

30 Day Recount Your Blessings Challenge: Day 1

Yes! It's that time again. Time to recount the blessings. The official holiday is a month away, so we're getting an early start. We will conclude on Thanksgiving Day.

This time around I'm asking you to join me in posting your own blessings in comment form on each post that you read. I'll introduce a topic, and share my blessings, and you can add yours, or challenge me further if you'd like.

Today, I am thankful for the feeling of being alive. I can smell, taste, hear, see and touch my environment. No matter what else is going on, my senses can experience, record and savor each moment. It is a privilege I never want to take lightly.

The sense I most value today is sight. Typing would be a bear without it, especially as I am a notorious hunter and pecker.

What sense do you lost appreciate, and why?

Stephen King's 'salem's Lot a Juicy Read

I'm reading a vampire book.

Not my usual fare, but since it's Stephen King, I thought I'd read educationally.

So far I've noted the symbolism regarding religion, sacrifice, sin and atonement to be right up there. Surprising? Only if you don't believe those things don't drive every society on earth. Good is often afraid of evil. Evil laughs in the face of good. Good musters up it's courage and through confession, diligence and perseverance triumphs, but not without great cost. There is tragedy along the way. There are reluctant heroes, innocent victims and foolish busybodies whose unthinking blundering gets others hurt.

It is great storytelling. Did we expect less from the man who is the self-proclaimed Big Mac and Fries of the literary world? It's dripping-down-to-your-elbows-good.

Note: As soon as I get permission, I'll post an image of the book cover. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Change; the Great Constant

Imagine a world where nothing ever changed. The leaves on every tree remained, and fruits grew year round with no budding, no emptying harvest. No new people were born, and the people on earth just stuck around because they never aged. What if perpetual even temperature ruled, with no fluctuation in weather?

Utopia? Or nightmare?

I personally am bored without change.

And I'm simultaneously traumatized by it. This past season has brought the unexpected death of several men in the prime of life, both in the public eye, and in my private acquaintance. This kind of change is horrifying, and sobering. But, it also allows an opportunity to peer into the unknown with greater interest, and to view a life in its totality.

The death of Steve Jobs opened a door of appreciation for the man and his contribution to the world that made his living image pale by comparison. The sadness of our loss remains, however, as change is always bittersweet. We cannot have something new without giving up something old. The concept of 'eternal exchange' entombs the idea of trade; tit for tat.

The revolving seasons, the daybreak and evening sunset remain as a pulsing reminder that we are still here. At any time unexpected change could occur, while everyday the comfort of daily and seasonal change lulls us through life like a child rocked by its mother.

I remain in wonder at the paradox.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One Little Bone

What a marvel is our body! We have 208 bones in all. When one little foot bone is stressed or fractured, it can keep us off our feet, as my hubby has been learning. Such a small part, and so important.

When one part can't function, everything else is compromised. So all the other bones, and muscles lean toward it, and make new arrangements to help.

The hands touch it, and give it ice and heat. The knees bend so it can be elevated or immobile. The mouth relates the story to the doctor, so he can prescribe treatment. The neck turns to find other alternatives to activity and industry. There is a virtual concert of self-care that is automatic, not to mention the emotional, and psychological nurturing that happens whenever we have an injury.

So, let the nursing begin. As he's heard me say before, "You only have two feet, and you need both of them, so take care of yourself." I think he's listening. The ears are helping, too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Picking Up Words

Some people work well with numbers. I don't. That is why I am not at the business end of a bank counter, or behind the desk of a math teacher.

Words, however are a bird of a different color, at least to me. I collect them.  The image of me scanning and collecting alphabetical symbols resembles Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins as Bert the Chimney-Sweep/Street musician with instruments strapped to every appendage. They are as much a part of me as those instruments were to Bert. Have you seen the "hoarders reality show"? Sufficient metaphorical insertion.

Some people scavenge curbside garbage scheduled for pick-up and others scavenge ideas, concepts and their expression in the printed and spoken word. Actually, I'm guilty of both.

The other day, I was on the elliptical bike at the gym, and a catheter commercial came up. To most people, this would be either an annoyance, or a godsend. To me it was neither, but rather it was an opportunity to add  a word to my book that gave it a new dimension. Throw the word catheter into a conversation and you've definitely changed the dynamic. I then saw the word ingress on  the screen of a newscast. I'd heard of egress, but never ingress. In this instance they were describing a cyber-hacker gaining access into a computer program. What a lovely dark word. I must use this too, I thought, but perhaps in a different way. The possibilities of words and their combination seem endless. I guess I'm a word junkie.

The sounds and images that words emit give depth to our everyday lives. Why settle for the same few hundred words (as research suggests we have defaulted to) when language offers so much more? 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I've Fallen, But I'll Get Up

It's happened. It's no longer light enough to see in the kitchen without the light on when I get up at 6:30. The mercury dropped, too, but only slightly. A little rain came down.

Summer fell to it's knees today, and my heart sank just a little. I love summer, and am always a little blue when its over. I know I'm not typical. Most everyone else is ecstatic.

That's okay. My time will come again. In about 4 months.

In the meantime, I console myself with all things pumpkin, lots of extra lights and candles (to imitate the sun!) and the excitement of the Christmas Season. That gets me through half of it. The other half I will myself through with hot drinks, and lots of reading!!!

I feel better already.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Intimidated by a Smart Phone

It's chic. It's cool. It was *free*.
It knows things I don't and assumes I know things.

It has its own  vocabulary. I thought I was pretty intelligent to use the word sync in a musical sense. Oops. I have to choose to sync apps manually or (I forgot the other choice). Speaking of choices, it offers me more choices than a Costco in Hong Kong. I'm a baby boomer in app paradise.

It takes pictures almost before I push the button, and I call people accidentally.

It can leap tall buildings in a single bound, and go across two oceans to tell me the time, news and weather in Germany.

I'm impressed. I feel a little bit smarter, but not much.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Toast to the Mystery

In the past week, who could have guessed that more people would be jeopardized by cantelopes than by falling satellite debris?

Who knoweth what a day may bring forth?

When I awaken each morning I have expectations about what the day will bring based on several things: what I have to do for the day, how my mood is, how the people I live with respond to me, and what I believe about the Creator of life. It's often in that exact order.

Tomorrow  is an unopened package that I mentally shake, and maybe even tear a corner off of to peek into the future. I live virtually blind to the future, and yet I live each day with hope. The amount of hope I have for the day usually determines how well I meet it. In other words, if I look for a good day, I can generally find it.

Here's hoping that you meet the next new day, new week, new month, and  new season with courage and above all, hope.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blessings Are Often Disguised as Challenges

None of us would deliberately choose troubles. And yet, some troubles come with their own side-kick blessings.

One example of this is money trouble. It forces you to:

sympathize with others less fortunate
accept a liberal dose of humility
contemplate what is absolutely necessary for life

It adds a depth to your life that affluence can't. Of course, I'd like to try affluence, just for a while, to see how it feels! But I've discovered over the last 50 odd years that depth of character is more important to me than most anything else. I guess God knew that too. He always knows, doesn't He?

I've been fortunate to have been born in the most wealthy country in the world, and have grown up privileged in many ways. This current recession is a blessing in disguise for all of us who never knew that we really can trust God for our daily bread.

How many blessings in disguise have you experienced? 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Weeding Is Tonic

A bout of yard work was just what I needed to clear out the doldrums.

I highly recommend it. There's something about turning over soil, pulling weeds and re-potting plants that makes you forget all (ok, most) of your troubles.

That worn furniture I complained about is getting slipcovers! Why not?

Anyway, the outpouring of love I experienced during my little pity party was far more than I deserved, and I am up and thankful once again.

The swelling in my neck is down considerably, and I'm beginning to think I injured my shoulder doing stretching during drama class. We are getting older aren't we?

So about that kitchen floor? It's clean too.

Moral of story:

Doing is better than stewing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's Good To Have Friends In Time Of Trouble

Cured: or Rather Cleaned

There was nothing wrong with me that a view of the planes flying into the twin towers couldn't fix.


It's what keeps us going. We can always find someone better off, or someone worse off.

Most of our little problems are light in the weight of eternity. Still, we have to live through them.

A few friends help too! 

Lots On My Mind

Have you ever looked at your kitchen floor when you're overdue for a sweeping and mopping? Little and big ugly things are swished to the corners, clinging to to the floor and walls for dear life, the grunge a sickening reminder of meals, dogs, dust, and ick.

That's how my mind feels today.

I told you I would try to ignore the censor, so here goes:

I feel God is far away, though I am talking to Him daily, and reading His words to me.  Our financial situation remains dire, mixed with tenuous, although we have done many things to alleviate it.

My children have problems I can't help them with, like anxiety, nasty break-ups, and unemployment. My dog has periodic seizures which we have no money to get testing for, and I have gained about ten pounds making all my clothes tight and uncomfortable. 

Despite many jobs, and a schedule that is erratic and full, Jim and I are not able to earn enough money to solve things.  We are constantly draining our resources, and watching our vehicles lifespan ebb away without the ability to fix them. Since they are our primary means of transportation to work, it's scary.

I never have been a good housekeeper, and seeing my house dirty and disheveled, with old ratty furniture and carpet is disheartening. Looking at my green pool (no money for chlorine) and my dying lawn (sprinkler system is broken) hampers my struggle to be thankful I'm alive. Daily, the semi-crisis errupt, draining my energy, and seeming to require more faith than I have.

This morning, Sunday September 11, the morning we're all supposed to be focusing on remembering (I do remember, honestly I do) I woke up with a swollen neck. I think it's a swollen lymph, and I'm terrified at what that could mean.

I really have little time to even talk to friends about this, or to cultivate friendships (would love to go to a women's conference, but again, no  money) so you, my blogging buddies get to hear it all.

The censor is telling me I should wrap this up with a platitude, but I'm fresh out.

If this reads like a Psalm, well, then at least I have company. This is the scariest post I've ever written.

Thanks for listening. I'm sure tomorrow will be better.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tragedy and Comedy

Life can be so funny you want to cry, and so tragic that all you can do is laugh.

I often find myself wondering about the hidden forces at work behind the circumstances of our lives, and wishing I could understand so much more.

I find a kind of exhilaration in pathos. It's embarrassing, but true. Similarly in great joy, there is often a fragility, a feeling of false happiness.

And so it is, that we find ourselves fascinated by the ups and downs of imaginary as well as real people. So much so that we go to the movies, read tabloids, and watch with interest the goings on of the neighbors. Sometimes life is so deep, we reduce it to a performance, and ourselves the audience rather than the participants. While reviewing Shakespeare's Hamlet, and Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest for the class I am teaching, I am delightfully entertained.

The detachment this produces is an insulator for extreme emotion, which we often feel ill-equipped to receive.

Stranger still, most of us will pay hard-earned money to ride a roller coaster when life offers us ups and downs that would rival anything Hollywood could muster.

Roominating Out Loud

I've been holding back a little on the blogs I've been posting, afraid that someone might actually read them that I don't want to.

I didn't realize this until my daughter and I had a conversation about this very thing. After all, writers are very afraid that people will actually read what they've written, especially if it's honest. A really good choir director once told me that when we sing, we should sing out, even if we make mistakes, because then they could be heard and corrected. I find this excellent advice for many tasks, writing included.

Now, I believe a bit of restraint is a good thing, and I'm not about to start vomiting my ugly thoughts all over y'all.

But I was encouraged to blog my little heart out, just a little more, so if you are a reader that's queasy, then, well, by all means, be queasy.

Let me start by saying that I've been hearing a censor in my head who is perhaps, my mother, my children, that guy I went to school with, or forbidding thought, a publisher, *gasp*, and so I'm going cautiously into this new room. If you want to come here with me, I'm humbled. If not, I'm humbled still more.

God is in here, listening. He will lovingly filter my thoughts and words. I have asked Him to.

PS. The censor has already told me I've said too much, way too much. Can you hear her?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Arthur: a biased review

How could a guy get away with doing all the wrong things, being absolutely the  wrong person, and still get my vote for one of the best movies of the year?
Well, you'll have to watch it for yourself.
Everyone's had an Arthur in their lives at least once, and if you have, you know exactly why I love this movie.
Check it out for yourself at a redbox near you!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blinking Cursor

The cursor is blinking at me as I sit, in somewhat of a stupor, after doing almost nothing yesterday.

Some Labor Day.

I'll join you back here when some semblance of wit returns.

Happy REAL beginning of school!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Getting My Autumn On

It is so hot in California in the fall that we really have to pretend. The leaves start changing and falling about the time we get our Christmas trees.

Still, come September, we all start thinking about pumpkin bread, soup in the crock pot, and cool evenings. We start thinking about them.

Last night I took my girls to a high school football game and asked, instinctively, "Don't you guys need jackets?" They laughed. We were all sweating in the car with the AC on.

I guess living in Michigan for 14 years still affects my thinking. Maybe it's the heat.

I heard today is going to be the hottest day of the year.

Happy Fall, y'all. In keeping with the calendar, not the thermometer.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Garbage Truck and the Delivery Truck

Things I'm taking to the trash this fall:

The hope that I will someday be a spotless housekeeper, okay just a good housekeeper

The fear that I will never publish a book

The fantasy that I will feel skinny while being able to eat what I want

Things I'm having delivered to myself:

A regular schedule of excercising weekdays (don't raise your pulse, I'm just walking)

Reading a proverb a day, prayer during walk

Writing AND reading whenever I want to 

What's in your inbox and outbox?

Monday, August 29, 2011

School Starts

I kissed my college student good-bye this morning as she trekked off to junior college. She still lives at home, as do my three other daughters. I don't even have the tiniest idea of what an empty nest is like.  It's just as well. I'm not nearly ready.

While many of my friends are dropping off kids far away, I am putting the dishes into the dishwasher from my little birdie's early morning breakfast. and dropping off PE clothes for the high school student. Alas, I am still indispensable.

My time will come. But I am not quite ready.

So for now, I look forward to more laundry than is physically possible for my heavy-duty washing machine to handle, more beauty products in the bathroom than Sephora stores in it's warehouse, and a schedule that would give Martha Stewart a faint heart.

I have not become a famous author. I have not wowed crowds with my piano playing. I have not been asked to speak at any large gatherings. I have a modest amount of friends. I don't even have much of a bank account. (big surprise)

But. I am the mother of four of the most delightful children on the planet. They are my claim to fame!

Still. One is glad when September rolls around!!!

Friday, August 26, 2011


I have a thing for titles. Yup. Just titles.

Such as:

Waltzing Before Sunset

Lake of Dreams

The Greening of September

The Cat's Tale

Morning for Momma

Bentley's  Boarding House

Hardly Breathing

Just fun sounding words, that evoke an entire story.

Then again, when I've written  book, or story, the title just escapes me like fluff blown from a dandelion, and the only ones I can think of  sound just as seedy.

Oh well. I talked to someone else today who had the same problem. 

I'm reassuring myself I must be normal!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Second Guess

You know the feeling. It's that nagging voice that tells you the great idea you just had is lame.

According to most personality tests, some of the population is plagued with this 'decision making anxiety'. I am one of them. As soon as I hit 'send' when I'm writing I start wondering what I should have changed, and telling myself that someone else would have done better.

It's the single reason I don't follow through on a lot of my ideas. I'm just not confident they're good enough. And the truth is, most of them probably aren't.

But I don't want to let that stop me. After all, Thomas Edison learned several thousand ways not to make a light bulb. And then, he made one. The whole world is benefiting. That little voice just told me "You're not going to do anything that stupendous."

I just told it to be quiet, because I'm typing.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

25 Years

In 25 years you can grow a large oak tree. Or establish a business. Or educate a child.

You can also decompose a plastic bag. Partially.

A lot can happen in a couple decades or so. Whether by accident or on purpose, patterns are built that reflect the activity that has gone on in that amount of time.

These days it's considered an accomplishment for a marriage to last for 25 years.

If that's the case my husband and I have made that accomplishment. When we said 'for better or worse' we had no idea what we were getting into. Who does?

And often our compatibility has been a combination of accident and on purpose.

To be honest it hasn't been that difficult to live with the same man for so long. I guess I'm blessed in a special way. But I wouldn't know. Because I'm not trying anyone else out to find out. This one suits me fine.

We're going for the big tree. The massive oak that shelters everything around it and has its roots so far in the ground the wildest storm would feel like a summer breeze.

Here's to another 25, or more!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


In case you hadn't noticed, there's a new kid on the block.

The ultimate way to dream your way through life in full color is keeping many of us from actually living it. is such a nice way to forget that you haven't made your bed yet, or that the project you started in the living room still looks like a scene from urban decay, or that you haven't even thawed the chicken from the freezer, and it's dinner time. Don't say I didn't warn you about clicking the link. You might not come back.

I know we'll all reach a saturation point and it will go the way of farmtown.  But for now, I'm oogling wonder, creativity, and everything I ever wanted.

I'll catch you later.
I've just got to repin the pictures I saw while testing the link for this post!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Getting Organized

Why does it seem I must get organized to get organized?

For a creative, the hardest thing is to prioritize drudgery and DO IT.

So, in order to make sense of my higgledy-piggledy system of 'storage', which translates to I have too much stuff sitting around without a proper place to put it, I must step back and analyze the problem on my blog. It's my way of looking at it critically.

Sometimes it helps me to look at the smudge on my glasses in order be able to clean them.

So here goes. My DO LIST:

Multiple media getting dusty. Must throw a lot out.
Recycling piling up. Must acquire more bins to hold it neatly and haul to recycle place.
Paperwork for several streams of work. Must establish a place to keep it, and labeling system.
School supplies backing up. Make space for new items.
New ideas bulging out of brain space. Must list in order of importance. invading time. Must set timer while on Pinterest.

Well that about does it. Except for:

Blogging becoming addicting. Must get off blogspot and go do boring cleanup!

See y'all when I've done some real work!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Turned a Corner

Ever have a moment when everything seemed to change direction, and a new door opened, unexpectedly?

I'm having one.
Just so you know, the dire, dour thoughts in my stuffy room are cleared out. I must have made room for something else.

Out with the old, in with the new!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Somebody Open a Window; It's Stuffy in Here

"No thank you, gentlemen. My own business occupies me constantly" Ebeneezer Scrooge replied when asked to help the poor.

I get a little preoccupied with my own affairs too when, for example, my checking account balance is under, well...let's just say under, and it's only one day after the paycheck went in. And I'm no Scrooge.

Sometimes I forget that there are people in hospitals saying their last goodbye to a loved one, or on an army base far away from anyone and anything familiar, or on a mission field with others whose cultural traditions seem to suck the life out of their family, or people who just got word that they lost their job.

The room gets quite stuffy when I'm only thinking of myself. Today I need to let some air in, to open the windows of my soul long enough to remember the things I have been blessed with, and to remember that I'm not the only one with troubles, and this is not the first or last of them.

Joseph's words do me good, too. "God meant it for good..."

In the overall scheme of things, and in the broad stroke of history, the graph of my fortune and prosperity would be quite high, even now. So would the spiritual blessing graph.

So let the breezes blow. I'm breathing in a new thought. It's just wonderful to be alive!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Royal Teas is Fit for a Queen

I am a coffee drinker who would like to switch to tea on occasion. Royal Teas with Grace and Style was just the nudge I needed to cross the beverage bridge into the delicate world of tea.

Filled with delectable pictures of tea table settings and luscious recipes, such as home-made clotted cream and salmon sandwiches for tea time, Eileen Shafer’s book is a treasure as a coffee table book (or a tea table book, if one may be permitted) and as an invaluable reference for the conscientious hostess. Her travels in England and in several areas of the American South, as well as many years of experience as a tea shop proprietor in the Midwest lend credence to her collection of interesting facts about the customs and traditions of serving tea. It is this expertise and passion which fuels her admonition to the reader to delight ourselves and our loved ones with an ancient pastime of refreshment.

Numerous quotations about tea from famous figures, a surprising number of them men, are sprinkled about the pages like ornamental blessings. Whether you are preparing a tea service for one or many Shafer’s genteel guidance will help you to serve like a queen. This lovely book compels one to try once again the age-old custom of taking tea.

I received a complimentary copy of Royal Teas as a member of the    
Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team.  Visit
to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shootout at the Willow Oak Corral: Another Amazed by God Post

Okay, y'all. Jest cuz I saw Cowboys and Aliens and LOVED IT, doesn't give me the right to post about shootouts, right?

How about gunshots on my block, a hole in a neighbor's truck, and a miraculous escape from a gunman?
Will that do it?

Lat Saturday night around one o'clock in the morning, I heard what sounded like a cap gun. You know the sound. Tinny, small, quick pop, pop, pop. Three in a row.
It's always just firecrackers when I hear these. I ignored it.
Till the dogs started barking.

Then hubby went outside, being the brave masculine protector of the family that he is, and hid behind our van to see if anyone was, by chance, on our street. We lady folk huddled in the master bedroom at the back of the house and, well, freaked out. Everyone except me. I tend to be pretty low key most of the time. Mostly I just prayed for whoever it was out there, and for my husband.

He saw a man walking slowly down the middle of the street (there was a half moon out) and called out, "Hello?"
When there was no answer, and the guy kept walking toward him, my gallant hubby decided to save himself for his family and ran inside the front door, locking it behind him.

It was then that we heard , "Pop, pop, pop, pop, pop." Five more of those.

They were not, in fact firecrackers, or caps from a cap gun.

Turns out some guys came to a neighbor's house to collect some money he owed them. One of the girls of the house was just returning home and seeing trouble ran into the house just when he fired the five shots. She felt the air rush past her, but she was not hit. One of the bullets made a pretty hefty hole in the neighbor's truck.

We'd called 9-11 after the eighth shot, and apparently they caught the guys.

"I'm glad you're okay." I told my neighbor. And once again, I was thankful.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

If You Give a Moose a Muffin

I started out today hoping to get one basket of laundry done, namely the one in my bedroom. It wasn't even that full. Easy task for one day, right?

Going over to the washing machine, I noticed the clothes in it were dampish and not as sweet. They'd sat all night. I re-soaped and washed them. In the meantime, I'd unload what was in the dryer. When I took the clothes out of the dryer, I noticed there was a pile of unfolded clothes in the living room. As I walked past, I saw the movie that I'd been wanting to watch. "I'll fold clothes and keep doing laundry as I watch it", I rationalized. I even got someone else to do this with me. But I should clean up the kitchen up, first. So, I did. Then I sat down to fold clothes and watch the movie.  The person watching with me could only watch half of the movie, because she had to go somewhere at 12. I turned it off. By then I was hungry for lunch. I made myself a grilled cheese, and ate it, making a small list of things I didn't want to forget to do today.

While I made the list, my husband called, reminding me to send an e-mail I had forgotten about. Just then my daughters needed help getting a bike fixed so they could take a bike ride. As I settled in upstairs to send the e-mail,  my husband called. In the middle of that phone call, a piano student showed up unexpectedly at the door, so I taught a piano lesson. Then I came back upstairs to finish the e-mail, and I got a long distance call from my sister-in law. In the middle of that call I got a call from one of my daughters telling me she'd aced her job interview.

I just now remembered the laundry.

It is 3 pm. I decided posting about this is a much better use of my time than doing the laundry.

I'm going downstairs right now to finish the laundry.


Right after I take this phone call...