Monday, October 29, 2007

no, No, NO!

It's October. Summer's warmth is remembered more than faintly. Crops are still coming in. Leaves are hanging on, some still unchanged green. Just this weekend we began contemplating our Thanksgiving guest list. The menu and groceries are still 'out there' not in my organized brain or pantry. That festive glad holiday seems a million miles away.

So someone explain to me why are there Christmas trees in the stores, Christmas decorations, Christmas stockings, Christmas candy? Why, I even saw a red-bowed wreath hanging on a telephone pole today. IT'S NOT CHRISTMASTIME! Shoot, Halloween is two moons away.

I had a conniption when entering the home improvement store on Saturday for I was overwhelmed with the sight of two dozen individually decorated fake trees, each one eight-feet tall, positioned in an enchanted elflike forest, complete with fake snow and twinkling lights. One tree was decorated in yellow and green for the Oregon Duck's football team, another orange and black for the Oregon Beavers'. One was even decorated with Halloween ghosts, witches' hats, and tombstones, I kid you not!!!

Words jammed up in my brain as I let out a little squeak right there in the store. My hand flattened and shot up like a blinder to shield my eyes from the forest of plastic trees. "It's too early, people. This is wrong. I refuse to be manipulated. You're messing with Christmas."

The outdoor garden department suckered-punched me once more. "Thomas, tell me I don't see a four-foot high, lighted Santa Claus standing in my favorite zen fountain!!"

Tom nodded.

"I hope he fries!" I said.

Yes, a few shoppers glanced my way. Bewildered or empathetic? I don't know. I don't care. It's too early!

Try as I may, the last few years have found me exhausted by the time Christmas Day rolls around. We unwrap our gifts, eat Christmas dinner, and a little voice inside whispers, "Finally, it's over." To me, this is sad.

Planning and preparation I understand. But unrelenting manipulation saps the energy, meaning, and joy from a beautiful celebration of Love.

Two months of commercialism pound pound pounding my mind, battering my senses, emptying my wallet - dread.

Not this year. Blinders up. Eyes on the floor as I walk the aisles looking for trim-boards, pots, and bark mulch.

"Wait your turn, Santa!"

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Snowball This Way Comes

A photograpy assignment to profile a mountain town led Ben to the Cascades this weekend. Three of us tagged along. Here he is capturing Westfir's covered bridge with his camera.

At first I hesitated to go due to a stodgy mood, then I remembered this quote: “The secret of radiant health and well-being is to practice willingness. Train yourself to say ‘Yes,’ where others may say ‘No,’ or only ‘Maybe.’"

I rode along and discovered serendipity.

After two weeks of heavy rain -and mountain snow! - the colorful mountains sparkled clean on a blue-sky autumn day.

Salt Creek Falls, which descend a dark, sheer cliff, was one of Ben’s assigned locations, a gauzy, wispy waterfall hidden among verdant canyons.

A side trip to our favorite lake took our breath away for we discovered not only glassy, clear water enchanted with light mists, but fresh, powdery snow.

Hushed in reverent awe, our steps squeaky on the snow, we hiked through mossy green woods and along the snowy, boulder-covered shore. Ben and I snapped photos. Tom and Caroline explored the lake’s shallow edges.

Then, well, how could we not? The first snow ball was thrown - by me! At Tom. Slid down his neck, sorry about that. With the first snowball heard around the lake a war began which I could not win; here Ben sends a white missile my way, while my brave protector Tom jumps out of the line of fire. Can you spot the snowball in the lower center part of this photo as it hurls toward me?

The lake bade us play, and we did. Relaxed, lungs full of fresh air, spirits lifted, bodies invigorated, warm pink cheeks, snowball-dampened hair, smiles.

Welcome Serendipity.

Friday, October 19, 2007


"People hardly ever make use of the freedom which they have, for example, freedom of thought; instead they demand freedom of speech as a compensation."

"One thought succeeds another; just as one is thought and I want to write it down, comes a new one - hold on, catch it - madness - insanity!"

As my days with Thomas Merton come to an end, days with Soren Kierkegaard begin. Soren squeezes my brain harder.

In 2005 I began this blog as a place for my written-down thoughts to land and be kept for my perusal. Also, I wanted centralization for sharing news of my family to my extended family, you know, my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, parents.

The former is still in play. The latter is a waste of time. My family doesn't come around to visit, except for one beloved uncle in one town and an equally beloved aunt in another state. I think they find interest in my words which is happy for me.

My blog address has been given to my family repeatedly, but they tell me they "forget about it, even though it's bookmarked." This is unhappy for me. The sharing of my personal journey is largely who I am. Sad that it means little to people who mean much to me.

Oh well.

Positively glancing at the experiment of this sharing of mine, I find joy in the making of friends near and far and farther still. Beyond the sounding board effect is the stretching, the influence of new ideas introduced on their blogs and from their comments here and there.

Blogs are good.

So are friends.

"Thanks, you guys!"

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ducks Rule, Cats Drool

Tom, Cassie, Caroline, and I went to Autzen Stadium to watch the Home-coming Game for the Oregon Ducks. They played (stomped, mashed, wiped the floor with) the Washington State University (Wazoo) Cougars, defeating them 53-7. A very fun game, blowout though it was.

Lots to watch, including the game!

Caroline had her orthodontist put green and gold bands on her braces just for the game. You can see them here if you look closely.

These two men were opponents who shared a tense moment at one of the ref's calls, then broke the ice with each other and ended up sitting side by side, having a great time conversing. At the end of the game they smiled, wished each other well, and shook hands. It really IS just a game, for fun. Good to see these two showing kindness and good sportmsanship. Really good.

Every time the Ducks scored the mascot would swagger onto the field and do push-ups equalling the total score. We'd all count with him. He got a good workout today! The cheerleaders did gymnastics across the end zone, too. Amazing!

I am wearing my Angry Duck Eyes cap. I call it my Mommy-Hat because when I put it on backwards I have eyes in the back of my head, as do all mommies. Right?

Going for that last touchdown....and it's GOOD! More push-ups for the Duck!
Half-time was fun, of course.

UofO's cheer leaders jumped, swooshed, neck-snapped, and smiled!

The pep band kept us energized.

The stadium was completely packed. A sea of green and yellow, with a dotting of red here, a small dash there.

All in all, a fun way to spend a sunny October day.

Perfect weather. People you love. Music. Yelling.

(Did I mention we won?! Yay!)

Friday, October 12, 2007

October 12, 1997: Ten Years

Friend, I will remember you. (Zack and John Denver)

Ten years ago today John flew his last flight. There is a sadness with me still today, and a joy that I knew of this amazing person. Though I'd never met him except through two concerts, many record albums, and television, he's had a positive impact on my life. He felt like a big brother to me somehow...and I miss him.

For a period of eight weeks, back in the fall and winter of 1997, Tom and I lost 13 people that we loved, most were close family and friends. It was a grueling time of terror whenever the phone rang, and of too many funerals. Tears. Heavy Sadness. Emotional and physical Exhaustion. So much loss in such a short amount of time. Children without parents. Spouses suddenly alone. Sons and daughters torn away. Tragedy and 'natural causes.'

Today I pause to remember each one, reflecting on their lives, and the love and times we shared.

Ten years Tom and I have lived beyond the lives of those 13 people. Have we lived those years well? I hope they'd think so. I know I do.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Pieces of October

I need a new camera. I think I've about worn out my faithful Canon. Ben has given me a perfect suggestion, but there are other things on The List ahead of a new camera for me.

Christmas is coming. Hint, hint, my family, hint hint, wink wink.

My old, yet trusty camera helped me capture these shots just now, of life from my vantage point. Just a slight glimpse, of course. I like my secrets.

And I love October! Changes. Change can be strange, hard, unpleasant, lovely, frightening, and good. Seasonal changes are crucial for living things, and we are all creatures here on Earth. Little, fragile, hopeful creaturely creatures.

October in my neck of the woods means a few late tomatoes and other delicious harvest delights, leaves dressing up for their grand final farewell, blue skies, stormy skies, and soggy ground, beloved, best-friend sandals forlornly positioned back into the closet, wet muddy boots and shoes by the front door, piles of pumpkins and plastic bags of tiny candy-bars at the grocery stores, rapidly thumping then intermittent windshield wipers, fired-up furnaces and wood stoves, hot beverages gingerly handed to grateful loved ones during chilly evenings along with snuggly, fresh-scented blankets. Too-many catalogs in the mailbox each day, election noise and propaganda, a bit of lethargy in the in-between, and yet, a certain excitement brought on from gusts of wind, splattering rain, and the promise of something unknown about to happen...soon.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Similar Humanity and Compassion

"Years after the Spanish civil war, George Orwell used to tell the tale of his refusal to kill a fascist soldier. Crawling close to the enemy trenches, he caught a fascist in his rifle sights who was holding up his trousers as he ran. Orwell could not pull the trigger. 'I had come here to shoot at 'Fascists'; but a man who is holding up his trousers isn't a 'Fascist', he is visibly a fellow creature.' Would that the world could witness similar humanity and compassion today from those who worship the Creator of humanity and serve the Author of compassion." ~~from Fit Bodies Fat Minds, by Os Guinness

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Stormy Weather

A weird week this has been. What we'd planned couldn't be undertaken because the entire Pacific Ocean decided to rise up and storm eastward over the Coast Range to our valley deluging us for many days.

Currently we have a 'lake' on the south side of our property which receives the raindrops with pitter patters all night long. Pleasant sound really. Said lake wasn't there a week ago. When it stops raining I am compelled to count the pets and children every now and again, to be sure they haven't been sucked into this mucky mire which Joe has named the La Brea Tar Pits.

Fantastically beautiful menacing skies and gorgeous sunsets have been the upside to these storms. Clean air, fresh scents, vibrant colors. Amazing cloud formations.

Driving to the grocery store, with Cassie at the wheel, we saw what looked to be the beginnings of a funnel cloud, Cassie's worst nightmare. Thankfully she didn't full-out panic and steer us off the road, jump out of the car, and attempt to run the three miles home, arms flailing like a lunatic. No, she kept her cool even while mildly hyper-ventilating. Talking her through her terror landed us in a large unused parking lot where we had a bird's-eye view of the gray, upon darker gray, upon darkest gray clouds which were moving rapidly and forming, yes, it looked like the top of a funnel.

We were transfixed, until Caroline piped up, "We're going to be those stupid people who sit there and say, 'Oh, look how pretty it is!' just before the tornado sucks 'em up!'"

THAT got Cassie's attention. "Mama! We need to go! Now!"

"Okay, okay, let's get to the grocery store and get our shopping done quickly, then we can get home where it's safe," I responded. Four wide brown eyes stared at me.

"The STORE??!!! It's right under the tornado!"

"It's NOT a tornado. Well, not yet. We don't GET tornados. Except for the one last weekend that tore the metal roof off that farmer's barn, but he lives north of here. We'll be fine. We'll be safe in the store anyway. It's big and strong," I lamely replied, failing miserably in my attempts to sound assuring.

We parked at the supermarket, looked up out of the front windshield of the car, and sure enough, there was a low, huge, dark, almost black mass of clouds directly above us which not only canopied the entire large parking lot but stretched its way over neighborhoods in four directions.

"It's like in the movie 'Independence Day' when the people look up and see the gigantic alien ships overhead," I said gawking in amazement.

Again, wrong thing to say.

"MOM!! THAT doesn't help."

With my two daughters sticking closer to me than normal, we managed to complete our shopping and exit the store only to find the alien ship had increased in size, descended, and was leaking. Leaking badly. Like heavy heavy huge-dropped, gigantic puddle-creating, splattering leaking. Oregon Rain. Flash-flood rain. Soak you to the skin while you run through the parking lot shoving a grocery-laden, gimpy-wheeled cart before you, rooster-tailing water onto other running shoppers, eyeglasses water-blurred so you almost get into someone else's Trooper rain.

It was wet.

But we got home without swirling around in a tornado with metal roofs, houses, cows, trees, and bicycles with doggies in the back baskets. We were dripping wet, laughing, relieved, and happy.

Tornado. Pffbt.
UPDATE: Friday, P.M., Oct. 5th - Our local weatherman just informed us that, yes, that big, black, alien ship WAS the beginnings of a large funnel cloud, and there were several others in the area that evening. Cassie is strutting around here like a little peacock. Read her comment. The Bible says that God preserves the simple. I guess that's why we made it out alive. I'm simple. The girls were just hanging on to me for dear life.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dark, Early, and My Brain Won't Shut Off

Books. I've been tagged a tag which digs into my relationship with the literature of our world. Hard hard hard.

Once my brain has received such a challenge, well, it won't quiet itself down. I'm up before the sun again. I know the Dalai Lama gets up at four to meditate, but me? I'd rather be asleep. Meditation can wait. But apparently my brain wants to settle the issue of this tag in a way besides ignoring it, or doing it injustice through a too-hasty reply.

So, Deanna, here goes. Hope it's worthy of the honor of your tag.

My Current Reading List:

Well, thanks to Deanna, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds, by Os Guinness is on the list, along with...
Annie Dillard's An American Childhood
Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth
Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy (which seems to be making the rounds of those I know and love, thus I shall attempt it at last) Natural Capitalism which is a book my son, Ben, loaned me to answer some of the questions born from a conversation I had with him this summer on our back porch
A Kierkegaard Anthology, edited by Robert Bretall and
Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Total Books in my Library:

I stopped counting at 1,000. What is this madness?

Last Books I've finished:

Thomas Merton's Seven Storey Mountain
The Intimate Merton: His Life from His Journals
The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women, by Naomi Wolf
Annie Dillard's Holy the Firm
Go North, Young Man, by Gordon Stoddard (read for the second time)

Last Book I Bought:

A Kierkegaard Anthology, edited by Robert Bretall,

Meaningful Books:

The Bible
The Most Real Being, by Jack Crabtree
Mere Christianity, by C. S. Lewis

My Favorite Books:

Okay, this is an amazing question. Which are my favorite books? Too long a list. I'm 51 years old and have been reading since I was four or five. As I sit here writing and deleting a list or a long excuse why I can't list, as I contemplate copping-out or waxing deep and apologetic, I realize I must do something with this category so I can go back to bed. "To bed! To bed! To bed, I said." Aha! Dr. Seuss. The beginning of books.

Okay, here goes, I shall close my eyes and let consciousness stream. The first five books I think of I shall write down. Here goes:

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss
Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Shepherd's Castle, by George MacDonald
Go North, Young Man, by Gordon Stoddard
Son of Laughter, by Frederick Buechner

Like some crazy high-speed movie the images of books flip through my brain, decades of joy, tears, laughter, thoughtfulness, and heartache all derived from....books. How I love them.

That's the best I can four in the morning.