Thursday, December 26, 2013


The crumpled wrapping paper is stuffed in the overflowing trash can. The cookies and treats tempt but weakly on the counter. We have feasted.
The decorations and lights suddenly take on a gaudyness we never noticed last week.
The wind carries a breath of fresh winter air. Christmas, that marker of the deepest and highest pinnacle of the season has passed. As much as we attempt to satisfy ourselves with the prospect of New Years, we are bluffing. It will not do. 
No holiday charms and woos quite like Christ's Mass, literally the holiest day of the year for the Christian, and the happiest day for children. 
The magical glow which surrounds it has been exploited, derided, denied, but not yet obliterated. 
I've heard a hundred sermons trying to get me to understand that the birth of Jesus was a gutsy, earthy, unappealing affair that should not evoke glitter, hoopla or any such merriment. No matter. I'm a sucker for the Disneyland experience. Until further notice, I'll be celebrating with gusto and then going back to business as usual til next year.
For now I'm in the post blues. 
But no matter. I've been here lots of times. Besides, the Christmas stuff is all on sale. I'll gear up for next year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Don't Let Me Forget

Something from my archives. Circa1981.

Don't Let Me Forget

On the eve of a Christmas past
I would settle to sleep at last
Magical wonders filling my head
Imagining fantasies on my bed
Thinking of Bethlehem years before
Bringing to my Christmas all the more
Excitement and majesty in legend and lore 

On the eve of Christmas now
I have somehow forgotten to bow
Forgotten to gaze on that manger bed
Remembering not His tiny head
Had only rough hay for a pillow that night
And only the stars to shed any light

Pillows have I and lights to spare
Perhaps they make me forget him there
He came to die and gave His all
But humbled Himself to a cattle stall
Willing to suffer because if my sin
All the time waiting to take me in

Don't let me forget-remind me once more
Let me be awestruck just as before
With richer meaning this year I pray
Let me be most thankful on Christmas Day

Not for my presents or parents or friends
But for the joy His first Advent lends
The wonder that I as a child first knew
Bring back to this year carried by You
Your Presence the reason for happy tears
As days of old in other years 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


 I awoke from a dream where I was holding a baby and that 'milky new baby' smell almost palpable in my nostrils. 
It has been seventeen years since I smelled that particular wonderful earthy smell. But it felt like minutes ago. I relished the warmth and beauty of the feelings of love for my children that it evoked.
I wondered and even dared to ask, "God, why did you remind me of that smell?"
I dared again to hear, "That is what you smell like to me."
The image of a God as a nursing mother is found in scripture, although you'd have to dig for it. It is not a common metaphor.
You can read about it here, in Isaiah 49:15.
While I go about the business of celebrating His miraculous birth, I'm going to relax in His arms today.
How about you?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Bridge

Few people groups beyond my own heritage have stolen my heart as completely as the people of Israel.
As a wide-eyed tourist of 25 I soaked in the dry, dusty terrain, the ancient remains of cities alongside modern metropoli, and pondered the seemingly impenetrable barrier between the Jew and everyone else in the world.

As incongruous as it may seem, another bloodline has crept in to my heart. Its presence demands my attention, dominates my thoughts and makes an equal claim on my affections, and I simply cannot help myself. 

I tell the Jews to move over and make some room. The Germans have arrived.

The dinner party going on in my head is as unlikely as any you may imagine. With a sadness too deep for tears I serve them both; a silent observer of their mistreatment at the hands of evil. Like someone who arrived too late, after a fight between two friends, I awkwardly attempt to bandage both. 

The German woman who lost her son in the trenches is victim as well as the Jewish man who lost his sister in the gas chamber. 

Evil is a devil of an actress. Her costumes, props and entrances are dead on. When first she clutches at us, she comes masked as good. Pride in one's fatherland, keeping up with one's neighbors, following our leaders. Until Act III, we may not even know who the villain is, that it is us. 

There is trouble beneath my benign smile. But- I would sweep it away. For what I admire in both is that mixture of confidence and shrewdness I lack myself.
I will never be Jewish. I will never be German. But I stand for as long as my life lasts a living bridge between the two. It is, after all, humanity that plants enmity and, God helping us, humanity that uproots it. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Pre-Thanksgiving Change

It is the day before "the big meal". Our turkey has  been thawing for six days now. 
The past two years have been quite different. I honestly didn't know if we would have a thanksgiving dinner or not, due to very tight finances. We were in the kind of "borrow from Peter to pay Paul" sort of predicament. The kind where you have to get a check to the bank, but you aren't sure you have enough gas to get there, and you need the check for gas ? The kind where you start counting change on your dresser to buy milk. And those were the "good days" where there actually was a check to cash and change on the dresser. 
Never again will I take a turkey dinner for granted. Well, I probably will, but I shouldn't! I should be the thankfullest of all. And I am.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Three Deaths in Retrospect

I was five, fifty years ago when my grandfather, John Pierce Richardson died. I would eventually understand that president John F Kennedy, nicknamed, "Jack" was shot and killed the same day. Later in life I would discover the writings of Clive Staples Lewis, also known as "Jack" and realize that he too passed to his Maker on that day. Ironically, my grandfather resided in Washington DC and  is buried in Arlington Cemetery, a burial that had to be delayed because of the president's burial.

President Kennedy's death had no immediate impact on me but his shocking murder left an indelible mark on the nation that no one can escape; to encapsulate in contrast - a glorification of the Oval Office and the tragic sense that even the leader of the free world is mortal.

The world is richer because of the scholarly and brutally honest writings of Lewis, and I personally have considered him a 'faith and doubt mentor' of the finest order. His untimely death was certainly a sad day.

All of these men affected parts of my life, and of the three, as you might expect, my grandfather's life has had the biggest impact on mine, but not for the obvious reason that I was his grandchild. While the words of Lewis have both soothed and troubled my soul, the words of my grandfather have had a far different impact.

I never knew my grandfather; I only saw him once, and that one time is just a vague memory, aided by my mother's account of the visit, and a photograph I've seen in which he stands behind the bending form of my grandmother, a silent observer. I only know that he was a resourceful man and talented musically, trained as a concert pianist. For some reason, he suffered from either mental illness, or a consistently negative outlook. My mother recalls mostly angry profane words directed towards herself and her brother. That sad fact led to her glorious conversion to Christianity, to the Heavenly Father who speaks peace and love towards his children, when she was a young child.

Several months before her father died she felt a strong compulsion to write him a letter telling him of her faith and reaching out to him in a way she never had. It was a difficult choice, but she made it, not knowing of his illness and consequent death at fifty five (my current age).

There had been no form of faith in her home. Yet, it is from her that I receive the example of faith in living form, and my grandfather's model notwithstanding, a steady stream of loving and affirming words. She epitomizes the opposite of what she received.

So on this day I mourn three, but rejoice in the day, and what it has brought me.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Review of Codename Hannah by Dan Melligan

A seemingly mild mannered computer programmer is drawn into a high stakes headlock between his crooked boss, and a corrupt federal government digital espionage program. Multi-layered with plenty of money, women and gambling, Milo Caldwell's life spirals downward quickly.  When he discovers just how deep he's in, it's far too late to escape without dire results. His wife, often in the dark about the details of his job, while he works insanely long hours and is away from home most of the time, patiently sticks by him through it all.
This riveting story is made even more intriguing by the suspicion that it just may be true, the names changed, of course, protecting both innocent and guilty, as several key details are easily traceable.

It's the first of three, and I'll be reading them all.
Buy it here on

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Mystery Writing

I'm taking a mystery writing class online.

So far I've discovered:

Mysteries must involve a good and a bad character. The 'good' character is not all good - he or she has a flaw that must be overcome. The 'bad' character must hit the good character right in the weak spot.

The end involves a resolution in which the good character realizes and overcomes his own personal flaw. The bad guy gets retribution, but it comes in direct proportion to the magnitude of  his own personal flaw.

Who knew?

Friday, November 1, 2013

How Conservatives Can Lead

Halloween is over. We've had our chance to carve the jack-o-lantern with a forbidding face, and now the pumpkin is rotting. On a national level it's time for conservatives to stop relying on dissent as a strategy. Nearly everyone is aware of the failures of Affordable Care Act, but preaching to the choir doesn't build the congregation.

Real leaders never lead people anywhere with negativity. Yes, we want fair and equitable healthcare, and we'd like to be able to choose. Yes, the president is championing other policies that at least half the country doesn't want, but he was voted in for a second term according to the rules of our republic. Now what?

We've got three years to present a valid, vibrant conservative vision for the future of America. When the country awakes to the massive Obama hangover in 2016, we need to be ready with the cure.
Now now is the optimum time to begin crafting a plan for the future that will woo, not sicken the worn and weary country. We know we have what the country needs, but at some point we must transition from hand wringing to a workable strategy that includes the everyday American conservative who wants to know the answer to the burning question of the day, "What can I do to make a difference?" We can no longer leave it up to Washington. That clearly is not working.The law of inevitability teaches us that focusing on a thought like 'the country is going to the dogs' will lead it there eventually.

How will we fix the insurance stranglehold and healthcare nightmare that will soon become obvious to everyone? What answers do we have for becoming a responsible, earth-friendly nation without being dangerously dependent on other countries? How can we grow our own economy so that we no longer need to be dependent on the nanny state? How can we encourage our citizens to take charge of their own health? Has everyone forgotten that good health is about so much more than finding a healthcare plan? How can we give our below-poverty masses the hope to raise themselves up to become productive, successful citizens? What will we do about the shrinking middle class? How can we discourage the obscene excesses of the ultra rich classes such as celebrities, media moguls and over-grown banks, who prey on ordinary citizens? What solution do we have for unscrupulous lobbying? How can we manage immigration (isn't it a good thing that we are so popular?) so that we can lift our lamp beside the golden door without bringing vipers into our bosom? Who's going to take responsibility for the NSA? How can we go forward without losing the heart of who we are?

I confess I'm a regular Hannity/Limbaugh listener, but the message is beginning to sour in my stomach. I'm not promoting naïveté. I know the problems that beset politics, and that's exactly why we need the wisdom of serpents along with the gentleness of doves.

As much as I love to hear the dirty details, I think it's time to stop bad-mouthing low information voters, and give them the dignity of education with respect. I think it's time to stop insulting the 'drive-by media' and give them something to report about. Enough already. 

I'm listening for the clarion voice that speaks above the whining and leads us toward the real wide-awake American dream. The land of unlimited opportunity for everyone that's willing to work hard, the compassionate America that provides mercy for the truly unfortunate, and a governing body that weeds out avarice even when it's found among their own. That is a voice that will be heard above the chatter.

For over two hundred years we've been working on this thing. Today's sharply divided ideology seems to be unprecedented, until we remember the conditions under which Lincoln said,"We are testing...whether we can long endure."

I believe that with courageous leadership, we can and will.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Timing or Trust?

Ever wonder why, when God comes through on something we've been holding our breath about, He seems to act in the nick of time? It can't be a lack of planning on His part, though it may have been on ours. Still, I've been puzzling about it for some time. If He's going to do the deed, why not make it happen ahead of time, so we aren't biting fingernails about it.

The answer came in the form of our recent litter of kittens, and the memory of a Bible story I heard long ago.

My journey with God has led me through more than several dozen midnight hour rescues, and until this very week I'd been almost (no, not almost) irritated with God for not giving me more lead time on His spectacular provisions in my life.

I thought about the baby kittens, in fact, babies of all kinds. Their mother feeds them every few hours. She never gives them enough milk to last a whole week, or even a whole day, for if she did, they might run off too far away from her and hurt themselves. Similarly, in the Old Testament of the Bible, the Israelites were stranded without any natural supply of food and God sent them manna from heaven, supernatural food that rained down from the skies every morning, and it was just enough for one day. If they tried to save it and keep it over for the next day, it spoiled.

I'm convinced that whenever God is attempting to keep us close to Him, He stages these little crisis to keep us looking towards Him in faith and dependence. Otherwise, we'd run off with a year's supply of treasures and never look back. It's been well documented that we are wired  like that. I should say that it's been well documented that I'm wired like that. The first sign of spring after winter and I'm outta here, like the nine ungrateful lepers. It may be the reason that Jesus said, "It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven." He also taught us to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread," but don't we love to back the SUV up to Costco and not have to worry about it for a month? We try to hoard the manna in the spirit of the prodigal son demanding his inheritance all at once so he could get on with it.

Instead of a problem that God has with timing, its more likely a problem I have with trust. How about you?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Austenland Isn't Quite

I was more than intrigued when hearing about the new book and movie Austenland by Shannon Hale.
Being the kind of Austen fan who keeps a copy of Pride and Prejudice in the bathroom just for snatching a few Austenian phrases and who has probably seen every movie based on her books. I sadly have no more authentic Austen to explore, as I have read every book, some multiple times, therefore, I lapped up Hale's promise to assuage my thirst.

Her main character, Jane, is a lot like all of us girls because she just happens to live in our modern world and can't seem to get over her obsession with Darcy. So far so good. Who can? With a stack of failed relationships meted out at the beginning of every chapter, we seem to get the idea that this girl has been around. It's obvious that this Jane is no expert in love, so much so that when her elderly aunt dies, the clever woman wills her niece a trip to the exclusive and pricey Austenland, a resort featuring the reenactment of the Regency period complete with actors, costumes and setting. Jane promises herself one last fling in fantasyland and then she will join the real world once and for all.

And this is where the slow leak in Hale's book begins. I'm afraid I didn't feel it. I wanted to. I wanted my last fling in fantasyland too! I imagined the feel of that Spencer jacket myself. I smoothed my imaginary empire waist gown over my own stomach. I love, love the idea of it all. I tried.
But Hale's Darcy, Mr. Nobley didn't deliver. Her veiled Mr. Wickham, Martin the gardener, was not quite up to snuff either. I won't give the end away because you may want to decide for yourself on this one.

I'm back to re-reading the Queen of Regency herself. So what that I know the characters like the back of my own hand? Never mind that I sometimes speak Austenian and often compare people in my life (and my daughter's lives) to all of the characters.  I was a prime consumer for the book. I'll take a look-see at the movie and let y'all know what I think. Hale is onto a good thing. But so far, it's pretty
hard to beat Jane Austen.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Staying Close to the Shepherd

When I was a wee girl at the tender age of 5, I began my formal education in a small town in the midwest with a population of under four hundred people.

My mother would walk me to school up the hill about three blocks away from our house each morning. I remember bits and pieces about kindergarten, such as the cards with words and shapes on them to learn the colors, and every now and then I can still catch a whiff of what I think my teachers perfume smelled like. I learned to read almost immediately but I was shy and cautious in group settings. Recess was particularly traumatizing and I recall that I spent most of every recess next to my teacher, standing as close to her as I possibly could.What a patient woman she must have been. I only remember once venturing into the mass of children to play 'Red Rover'. I was a little embarrassed about that later, but at the time it was a survival technique.

Years later, I find myself reviewing the 23rd Psalm and during a particularly tough season, I have been learning to practice staying close to the Good Shepherd. There I feel safe, and there I feel protected. He too is patient, and doesn't mind that I need to be near Him. Indeed, He encourages it. And now, as a mature woman, I'm not the least bit embarrassed.

I guess it is true that what we need to know in life, we learn in kindergarten.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Helping to Lift the Lamp

I distinctly remember the name of my first choral teacher. Mr. Armentrout.

The first song I remember learning in the choir was, "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor".

We assembled in the muggy, musty gym, a motley crew of teens just getting back to school again in the still hot days of early September. Our small private school had just moved into a brand new-to-us building and my best friend and I had volunteered time over the summer to paint the girls bathroom a faint shade of aqua. If I concentrate, I can still smell that paint job, that building, and I can still remember the excitement, both the agony and the ecstasy of being fourteen.

The words to the song, enhanced by a lovely melody and masterful chord structure, entreat the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free...promising that America, the global mother, will lift her lamp beside the golden door to light the way in. The ideology of that song was beautifully inspiring to me then, and brings a sting to my eyes still, as I type this. And back then, on the eve of my fourteenth year and my first experience in a choral group, it drew me in as well to the magical power of music. In a way, music itself welcomes the tired, the poor, and all of us who need to catch a breath of fresh air in our busy lives.

Today I had the privilege of witnessing seventy-plus middle schoolers in their new choir class as I accompanied what was for some their first choral experience. I listened with an inward chuckle as the teacher, whose name shall remain anonymous for reasons other than that it happens to be just about as amusing as "Armentrout", urged the students to open their mouths and exaggerate their pronunciation.
I remembered hearing that very same thing several decades ago, and thinking I was doing just that, got a jolt when we watched ourselves on video later. I had barely opened my mouth!

So, I must admit to being just a little jealous of these unsuspecting children who do not yet realize what a great privilege it is to be able to sing to the world, to woo an audience, and to learn the language of music. But, the lamp is being lifted, the door is opening for them all.

Although they sometimes look and act as if the experience is not reaching them by maintaining that deer-in-the-headlights look, I know better. Their lives are about to change forever.

Friday, August 2, 2013

I Don't Read What Other People Read

For example, I just picked up a book from 1976 by Ann Douglas entitled The Feminization of American Culture. Her scholarship is stellar and I'm getting a view of my own cultural history from an entirely new viewpoint. 
As I scroll through my email and see goodreads and B&N I haven't come across it. 
Well. It's not the first time I haven't followed the crowd. 

Homemade Tomato Sauce

It's almost as if I'd written a thousand words! 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Writing Process

Processed foods are bad.
Processed novels are good.
Let me explain. I've been writing a novel for about 7 years now. I "finished" it a few years back, then let it sit for about a year. Then, I edited, re-edited, and got two-thirds through a different manuscript, and blogged a lot. I also edited several other books and reviewed dozens of books In other words, I did a lot of reading and writing.

Then, I came back to the original novel and after getting input from my writer's group, began a rewrite in first person, which was my original instinct about it. So far I am gathering a renewed interest and vigor in finishing and publishing it. The end result will be far different than my original product, which is, I hope, a very good thing. Without that process I would still be an absolute novice. Instead I am just a seasoned beginner.

If you'd like to read an excerpt, just comment below and I'll send a chapter. I'd love to know what you think.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Bang! Pop! Whiz!

Let the celebrations begin. Long live America, land of the free, home of the brave! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cast Of Stones by Patrick W. Carr: A Review

When first we meet Errol Stone he is an orphan, left alone and bereft of all the comforts of a home and family. His transformation from scrawny drunk to hero is a long
arduous story. In the world of this strange kingdom, decisions are made by the casting of lots, carved orbs that only 'readers' can understand. When Errol discovers his ability as a reader goes far beyond the usual, he still doesn't understand his own purpose.

Not until he gives up drink for good, and perfects the art of fighting with the staff does he begin to have a sense of his destiny, and here the story pauses. A blurb on the front hints of more adventures of Errol to come. A compelling read, and full of inspiration.

I was given a copy of The Cast of Stones from Bethany House in return for my honest opinion.

Old Girl on the Block

In one month I will be 55. Old enough to be categorized by McDonalds as a senior deserving of the discount cup of coffee. But the latent 13 year old in me sometimes forgets. Often I feel as if I am not old enough to:
be in charge
know things
have a title (like Mrs.)

But I am no longer the new kid on the block. By this time of life others should be able to look to me for some semblence of example or role model. One never feels ready or fit for such things. But with age comes responsibility.

Which is why when I take my near daily walk around the park, I speak a friendly greeting to the catatonic young man who never speaks to anyone as he walks slowly, headphones on, staring straight ahead.  To show him how it's done, because  perhaps no one has, or perhaps his personal burdens are too great to reach outside himself. And why I welcome all kinds of teens in my home, even the strange looking ones. And why I'm working on being an inclusive person rather than an exclusive one, and opening my mind to as many new things and ideas as I can.

It is high time I began that stretch of life where I focus on what others need from me and not remain paralyzed in the quandry of "am I worthy?" That is a dialogue that never ends well.

So as I near what can only be described as the second half of my life (okay the math is a little off here, I've passed that mark) I feel a new confidence, a new compulsion, and less of that old reticence to step forward and risk making a fool of myself. The worst thing that can happen is that youngsters will write me off as an eccentric old lady. No matter. They'll understand someday.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vacation Bible School!

How magical is summer filled with stories, crafts,games, snacks, skits, and  sports!?  I am privileged to have been at both ends of VBS. The kids end and the helper end. Both are life-altering.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Return of the Jedi

In a rather hometowny way, the people of Modesto welcomed George Lucas as he returned to the streets of Modesto. You can see him just over my left shoulder riding in a salmon colored convertible as Grand Master of the annual American Graffiti parade. 
My friend got a picture signed, but alas, I was too reticent to press the issue and returned home with my Star Wars trilogy VHS set unsigned, even after stalking the poor guy to the airport and having an employee run out to the plane with it to ask. "No" the pilot said.
I went to the first Star Wars movie on a Friday night on my first ever movie date. 
Well, George, you livened up another Friday night for a lot of us. Hope you felt as welcome as we wanted you to be! 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Good Hair Day

Getting my hair done at Salon Valin is one of my favorite things to do! Downtown is a boost of energy as well as    a great hairstylist. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Day for Remembering: Memorial Day

I put my American flag out today. Among the many reasons I did this are these:

I firmly believe in the American dream, that all humans are created in a state of equality  regarding their inherent worth and value, and that each individual should be able to live in an environment where they can strive to realize their own personal dream.

I am the daughter of a veteran. I am the sister of an active service member who is home on leave, and had to wait till today to enjoy his Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner with the family.

I am the recipient of personal freedom and enjoy the right to vote, to worship, to publish my own material, and to conduct business with the absolute certainty that my country will protect my right to do so.

I happen to feel that most of my representatives are hard-working conscientious (though humanly fallible) beings who are doing the best they can to make the 'American Experiment' successful.

Tomorrow is a national holiday commemorating the men and women who died serving and protecting all that I hold dear as an American citizen and I want to show my support and respect for them.. 

On Walking

I've been walking with my faithful dog, Sara, nearly everyday for six plus months now.

Things I've learned on my walks:

Other people walk too.
There are other dogs.
I like my dog best.
It takes a while to go a mile.
It feels all tingly when we stop for Sara to do her business.
I assume that walking is rejuvenating every cell in my body.
It feels good, especially after the second round of the park.
Sometimes my feet hurt, but they feel better later.
Most days the weather is absolutely fantastic in Modesto at 7:00 am.
The sun comes up over the park every morning whether I'm there or not.
Not everyone thinks walking is the best exercise.
Some people do Tai Chi, which looks like slow motion, every morning in funny clothes to interesting music.
Other people's yard get weeds, too.
Some people's yards look better than mine.
I like my house best.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Format Derails Book

The idea that the actual words of Jesus should receive extra special attention and honor isn’t a new one, as the red-letter versions of the scripture attest. The authors believe the concept should be renewed in modern times. Referencing such topics as hell, economics, Islam, and women’s issues, among many others, the book is essentially dialogue written in paragraph form.
While I respect Shane Claiborne and Tony Campolo, and even understand the passion behind the thesis, I feel that the message they were trying to portray in The Red Letter Revolution, and the style in which they presented it lent itself more to a live panel discussion than a literary work.
I’m afraid I never could bring myself to finish this book. The format was much too distracting, and took away from what could be a compelling look at humanity’s besetting sin, that of not taking the Word of God seriously enough.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishing in return for my honest opinion.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Just Another Friday Night at the Maris'

I'm enjoying watching a bunch of kids all dressed up and having a great time in my backyard, while I catch a minute of quiet. Some day it will be too quiet, so for now-party on kids. It'll be your turn to host next, and I hope you'll remember that I did it joyfully! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What's the Point Anyway?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus spent more time healing people and talking to them about how to act towards each other and never once laid out the 'Plan of Salvation' or the 'Four Spiritual Laws', or the 'Romans Road'?

He seemed to meet felt needs, but then again, not always. He didn't help everyone. Not by a long shot.There must have been people he turned away.Sometimes he just told stories, or knocked down tables, or got in a boat and helped people catch fish.

He didn't hold meetings where you had to 'raise your hand' or 'come forward' or 'make a decision'.

Where have we gone wrong? Are we really His followers?

I'm not trying to blow our mind, just disturb it a little.

What's the point anyway?

I'd welcome your comments.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Unaccustomed as I am to reading onscreen as opposed to on paper, I am acclimating quite nicely, thank you, to my new Kindle Paperwhite. 
Thanks to my generous baby brother I am enjoying my first ever e- book purchase: Surprised by Hope by NT Wright. Review to follow.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Menu Planning

Oh, the joy and delight of planning meals!
Isn't it amazing that throughout our lifetime we never run out of new recipes to try?
This week it's Cuddled Eggs in parchment and my new love, Fish Tacos.
The blending of global cultures gives us a wealth of possibilities, and the produce of California's Central Valley provides abundant inspiration.
I'm thankful to be a homemaker in this time and place.
What are you cooking up next?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


God is behind all things green and growing. God is in our garden.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

House Music

Nothin better than your own kids playing homemade music, and you in a front row seat.

Monday, April 15, 2013

First Mobile Post

This is a historic first! Celebrate with me!
First comment wins a special post devoted to a cause or story of your choice.

Keep Growing

God is behind all things green and growing." So says devotional writer Oswald Chambers.

 Prune, water, till, and fertilize. Never stop. To stop growing is the end of life.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

No Safe Harbor Still Onshore

Cara Hamilton is a newcomer to America from her native Ireland. From the minute she steps off the boat, she seems to be holding the burden of her identity as it relates to her family background. Although I was intrigued by the setting of the story, I'm afraid reading No Safe Harbor was something of a chore. 

The plot focused on Cara finding her long lost brother Eoghan ( pronounced Owen) though that plot seemed all but abandoned in favor of a love interest with a man who wanted him dead. The other characters involved were hard to keep track of and in the end I just wanted it to be over. When it was finished, the ending was both anti-climactic and predictable. A recipe for disappointment. Too bad. I think the author had a good idea, but never got it off the shore.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in return for my honest opinion of this book. You can read my review and buy the book at

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dance Froggy Dance

Sometimes being a piano teacher is a dance between the lines and spaces.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cat Energy

I took a cat bath yesterday. No, not a spit bath, a cat bath. During a lovely conversation with a friend in her home, the cat that lives inside (she has others who don't-guest post for another day) insisted on rubbing against my legs and then hopping up in my chair, forcing his head into my open palm, encouraging me to stroke him continuously while he moved his head back and forth. I'm not sure who was petting who!  All this after he barely let me touch him when we first 'met'.  I think every square inch of me from the neck down was covered in cat pheromones. I felt so loved. Although it was past my bedtime, and I'd only meant to stay for a minute or two, the cat seemed to say, "Don't you love the feel of my velvety fur? Just sit here, and let me love on you for a while. Don't be in a hurry to do anything else." I was bathed in kitty love. Don't we all need moments like this?

The gentle, subtle mystery of cats has always fascinated me. Perhaps its because you can't truly love cuddle a cat without its permission, and that permission is so sparingly given. But this cat seemed to hold in him the antithesis of the Cat's Universal Reserve bottled up and served freely.
Josie the Napinator

My outdoor Tom, who was supposed to be a female and didn't get the memo, acts as if the garage where he's fed is his zoo cage, and I'm the new feeder. Everytime. Skittish if there's extra noise, he deigns to let me lightly stroke his back as he begins to eat. Sometimes.

Our indoor cat, Josie, is quite affectionate, especially at breakfast, or should I say just before breakfast :-). This now pregnant tuxedo (thank-you Tom!) sleeps at my feet and then prowls around softly biting my nose so I'll get up and feed her. After all, she's eating for at least five.

This morning I read a post an artist friend sent me about an interview with Fred Waitzkin, a writer whom I must confess I'd never read, and he was talking about how energy is essential for writing. How you've got to gather energy from the world around you. How you've got to write from what you know. Sometimes people can be that energy. Events. Conversations. Situations. But in this case it was a cat.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Discovering Another Part Of Me

I got a swedish massage last week. Seems the massage therapist noticed something I never realized.
"Did you have an injury to your left side?" She asked. "It seems as if you are guarding it. Most of the muscles are developed on your right side, but not your left."

Who knew? I'd had a rather traumatic laceration on my left pointer finger (you can see me holding it up here in the picture) at age two which required a cast up to the elbow. As a result I have a 'funny finger' as I explain it to my piano students. One of them has a similar injury, incidentally. Thankful I still have full use of it, I've never considered it any kind of handicap. Until now. It's possible that it has hindered the full use of my left side. As most ailments seem to center on the left for me this is nothing new. I've got a bum left knee and ankle, and my left shoulder is limited in it's mobility. My left eye has the worst astigmatism and near-sightedness and only my left ear gets seasonal congestion. I'm a walking, listing one-sided wonder!

So, I've been using my left hand and arm more often for things I have traditionally relegated to the right side. It works! I have a whole side that has been underused. It also explains my weird roller skating stride.

How could a grown woman not realize this until now? I feel like half a new person!

Have you ever rediscovered a part of yourself? How did you discover it, and what are you doing to develop it?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Writing Through the Fiction

For a writer whose primary work happens in the head first, it's a daunting task to get it to paper. Like the musician who 'hears' the notes he cannot reproduce, the experience is often frustrating. But, we soldier on. Never give up. Never stop writing, as my tumblr - prolific daughter proclaims.

So now I am toying with an author page with a Pseudonym, a form of self-promoting writing that feels so foreign and almost like writing fiction about myself. Who is this person I've pictured and described? What is this work she's selling? Another fabrication from my own pen/mouse/cursor. The manuscript isn't even edited, published or critiqued, and yet I have a critic. She is with me always.

And so,  we soldier on. On the outside chance that someone else might want to read what we have written. Thanks so much for visiting my blog and/or my new author page. It's immensely comforting. I haven't invited the public yet. My newborn authorskin is still sensitive. But you are friends, readers, fellow authors. Comments, suggestions welcome!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth: A Review

Having been bulimic in my adolescent years, I gobbled up this tasty little soul treat by a women who knows whereof she speaks. Ms. Roth talks the talk because she has had her cake and eaten it, too!

From one compulsive eater to another, she puts pen to palate, explaining in masterful and poignant strokes the hidden current of hunger that drives many of us to food in place of so many other things.

I read on into the night when I first got hold of this gem for $3 in a bargain bin. Worth more than it's weight in chocolate, Women, Food and God will make you laugh, cry and think long and hard about the thing you do three times (or more) a day and why so many of us struggle with guilt, shame, and loathsome hatred of our bodies. After a few chapters with Geneen, you'll not only begin to appreciate yourself in a whole new way, but also begin to live by being present for your own life, something she claims we foodies have a hard time doing.

And the title's reference to God? While I would not call it a devoutly religious book, I found that it made me appreciate the way I was created and the wonder of life in its grand variety. According to my belief, God Himself intended to be the nourisher and feeder of our souls. Replacing His deeper gifts with a piece of chocolate cake is like wearing a cracker jacks ring at your wedding instead of a diamond.

If you're a woman, and you've ever struggled with your weight, or acceptance of your body-you've got to read this book!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

When is it a Good Day to Die Hard?

Two men. One's a dad (played by veteran shoot 'em up actor Bruce Willis), in search of  a prodigal son. The other is a son, (played by newcomer Jai Courtney),  trying to run as far and as fast away from dad as possible. After the obligatory tough guy interaction with each other due to their recent estrangement, they find themselves working together intuitively to carry out an undercover operation that exposes political corruption in the Russian Chernobyl incident. Some bad guys die, and some others aren't what they seem to be. There's where the intuition comes in, powered by a few machine guns, of course. In the final analysis the apple hasn't fallen very far from the tree.

Why is it that you feel so good at the end of a Bruce Willis movie? Is it that the chasing, punching, lacerating, falling from great heights, machine gun shooting, explosions and expletives and car crashes finally end, or that something is a little 'righter' with the world when Willis' character completes his mission? Maybe it's a little bit of both.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A Review of The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack

Three Mexican fishermen adrift at sea, fishing over the side of the boat to survive, with little hope of rescue. A former high ranking American businessman for a major motion picture company with a severe addiction problem, now jobless, with a failing marriage. The author weaves an almost unbelievable tale of connection between these two unlikely entities. He should know the story well. He was the businessman who met the fishermen and interviewed them after their miraculous rescue, which became a part of his own personal rescue.
With painstaking detail and a stranger than fiction quality this true story brings the reader to the realization that God is Sovereign in all of our paths, the good and the bad, and that He is in the business of rescuing.
I was given a complimentary copy of The Fourth Fishermen from Multnomah Press in exchange for my honest opinion about the book.