Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Cool Runnings"

The climactic ending of the film, Cool Runnings, always chokes me up.

Four Jamaican bob-sledders experience equipment malfunction which causes a tremendous crash. Emergency crews rush to them, but slide to a stop on the ice when the team appears to be getting up. Picking up their bobsled, the four athletes, shaken and battered from the crash, lift and carry their inoperable sled over slippery ice to the finish line.

"We have to finish the race," says Derice, the one who is the heart and soul of the team.

It's all the more moving because of a quiet, conversational scene earlier in the movie, before the last bobsled race of the 1988 Olympics. Derice knows his coach was a U.S bob-sledder, an Olympian who'd won medals, and had two medals stripped away for cheating, for attaching weights to the front of his teams' sled for increased speed. He wants to know the reasons why...

Coach, pensively: "Why did I cheat? It's quite simple really. I had to win. You see, Derice, I'd made winning my whole life, and when you make winning your whole life, you have to keep on winning no matter what. You understand that?"

Derice, shaking his head slowly: "No. I don't understand, Coach. You had two gold medals. You had it all."

Coach: "A gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you're not enough without it, you'll never be enough with it."

Derice: "Coach, how will I know if I'm enough?"

Coach: "When you cross that finish line you'll know."

Integrity intact, crossing the finish line, Derice knows. He is enough.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Finally, Real Snow!

Caroline enjoys the icy-covered pond.

Snow begins falling in earnest around seven in the morning and continues beyond two in the afternoon. Rare for our fair valley.

Tom's snowball just misses Caroline. Today's white stuff is premium snowball material. We end up thoroughly whited with snow, red-cheeked, and breathing heartily.

A blue heron takes flight overhead at the pond, large wings flapping like some ancient winged creature. (Click on this, and any of the other photos, for a better view.)

Cassie learns to drive in the snow in the Autzen Stadium parking lot, learning first hand the difference between two-wheel drive, and four. She counter-steers by instinct during slides and fish-tailing, tests the brakes, giggles,...and grins. Hmm, acorn doesn't fall far from the tree.
While she's an Oregonian, her mama is a native-born, shoe-scorning Californian. What can I say? Acorn, tree.

This is winter. We are content.


Snow gently falls.

Soft. Still. Illuminates predawn,

Blankets mud, vehicles, naked tree branches, the unlovely and the beautiful, homogenizes. White.

Feathery flakes, wide, irregular, contribute their individuality to the common.

Feels like peace.

Under porch shelter, blanket clutched around burdened shoulders, bare feet, lungs relax into deep, cold pulls and pushes,

Scent and taste of hope, renewal.

Arms of Mercy embrace, comfort, assure,

Good will conquer evil.

Have patience.

Look within, walk your path, steady, true, accompanied,

Break down, restore, break down, restore;

Such is the creation of wholeness.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


(Because my mind and emotions are still sorting through this topic, I'm not going to edit this post. It's out there, raw, rambling, and real. I want to remember how I'm thinking and feeling right now.)

I don't understand, and yet, I do.

Pockets of evil thrive behind closed doors, or out in the air for all to see. Beatings, rape, incest-rape, the torture of the innocent, of children, sometimes by family members - the protectors!? - catatonic drunkenness and drug abuse, violence of all types, unspeakable terror, murder.

Children born and raised in unsafe environments learn to cope, and yet they are haunted, twitchy, nightmare-ridden, and sometimes imprisoned. How to survive such horror, is it possible to rise above? Truly?

I've lived a sheltered life. That's the first time I've ever said it because I've found it embarrassing.

I'm not embarrassed anymore. I'm on-my-knees grateful.

A book has been teaching me just how fortunate I've been. (Yes, Angela, it's that book. I'm not enough of a drinker to find anesthesia sufficient to narrow my widened eyes and soften the shock. But it's good I am encountering such as I am. Still braving each chapter, hoping to make it to the end. Thanks.)

Decades ago, a woman I know of was raped by a total stranger while walking home from the library. A nice lady who had a kind husband and sweet young children, a safe home. Wrong place. Wrong time. Her violation changed her, took years to battle in her heart and mind, bruised a large portion of her soul, and became her identity. "Raped." Nearly losing her husband, distancing herself from her children for far too long, it was the grace of God and her still strong belief in him that carried her through to other side. Grace for courage. Grace to deal. Grace to forgive. That last one was the stickler.

Not to diminish the stark invasion of her life - physically and mentally - she was raped once. One time. She had an incredible support system. She was lifted on gentle, nourishing, tender-loving wings. Yet recovery was excruciating. Understandably so. An experience like that should happen to no one, ever, at all.

Like a phantom, this brave woman hovers in my mind as I read about Vonnie who suffered innumerable flesh-tearing rapes from the time she was four when Grandpa 'needed' her. Eventually so did cousins, classmates, men she met in bars (Why repeatedly return to bars, I keep asking myself? This I don't get except that old habits die hard, or the benefit outweighs the trauma.), strangers in the dark, cops, boyfriends, brothers, and yes, dear old Dad. And I'm only halfway through the book.

Her mom, sisters, and cousins know this is going on. It happens to them, too! They don't talk about it much, they say it's just the way of men, no support, nor organized rebellion except to fight back like wildcats. But men are stronger - most of the time.

And so are parents who hurt little kids, tiny trusting beings whose salty tears mean nothing to the possessed adults who inflict things better left unspoken.

While suicide is high among the abused, somehow quite a few of the persecuted survive, even know beauty in their lives. The birth of children, kindness, honest-to-goodness love.

The processing of such profound evil, a systemic violence so all-emcompassing it's considered 'normal' to its victims and perpetrators, is an exercise in confusion and disorientation. There are no pigeon-holes in my mind fit for raw ugliness of this capacity. I hesitate to create a bright, clean cubicle for slimy, gruesome behavior, the likes of which I'd rather not know.

But I have to put it somewhere. Otherwise it'll rattle around infecting my thoughts indefinitely. It needs a place to settle, to become a reference point.

Or maybe it should never settle. Maybe it should keep me stirred up because when I realize the devastation such behavior causes I wince, I writhe in my soul, and I consider that any person has the capacity to, under certain conditions, commit horrendous evil. Even me. I don't know if there is a hierarchy of sin, if little white lies are lesser and sadistically violent crimes are at the top of the list. It certainly would seem so. But I know that the source for them all is the same. The human heart. The same heart capable of enormous compassion and beauty.

I don't understand, and yet, I do.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Spiritual Acuity

A few weeks ago our computer began to crash so I backed up its contents.

After the re-installation process I ended up with a mishmashed, bloated photo library. Through a long, winding process, which I won't describe here, my nearly 6,000 count swelled to over 13,000. Better too many than not enough, but still.

Yesterday I began the tedious, time-consuming process of deleting the duplicates. Four years of photos and you know what I discovered for the umpteenth time? Life is beautiful. Imperfect, but beautiful. Interesting, deserving of my attention far more than the books I read, the movies I watch, or the blogs I enjoy - including my own.

With each series of photos I reviewed came remembrances, emotions. Bodies changing, scenery, too. But the fantastic thing was that these were not just photos of people, places, and events, no, these were memories filled with taste, touch, smell, hearing, and seeing beyond the borders of each frame. In my mind every photo came to life just as in Harry Potter's world. Love, laughter, pain, irritation, beauty, sounds and smells, breezes and heat, hellos and good-byes, the pleasures of life and its trials, too. The photos aren't fictional artistic renderings, they are pieces of my life, very real representations of my history, my forming.

Once again I was reminded that life is broader and more complicated than photos can depict or words iterate, than movies can portray or music evoke. We all know this. Literature and other artistic outpourings have their place in aiding our understanding and giving voice to our afflictions and triumphs. But it dawned on me that as we've become a sort of Wal-Mart world - where cheap and easy imitations are greedily snatched and exhibited as though they are the real thing - we have begun to lose the deep, the genuine. Imitation confuses us. Quantity bludgeons quality. Ambition conquers excellence.

While truth surrounds us always, too often it's the imposter who successfully lures our attention. While the mystery that is life beautifully carries on we look away, choosing instead to focus on the battering inferior substitutions which rain around us, drenching our cognizance, sapping our strength with their ever-presence. Writings of worth are buried under heaps of mediocrity or worse. The same is so of music, films, theater, dance, family, home, and more. Dazed, we accept the heaps and bemoan our loss.

My heart sighs, whispers to the human race, "Together, let us trade the Wal-Mart world of subpar books, demoralizing music, gratuitous movies, mindless television, and wasted, empty-calorie living for that low-ceilinged, fusty shop run by the gentleman with a heart and the too-small studio of the soulful artist. Discard the pointless and rude, repeatedly relish that which uplifts or gives reflection. Mourn with the crushed, lend a hand. Stop and listen to the life-battered street musician, or the teen victoriously getting it right on his saxophone. Leave a cold television set or that popular paperback for a night at the cultural center; a good play, a creative exhibit, awe-inspiring dance, or live, mood-altering music, all of which offer the element of 'oops'. Vigorously scrape off the barnacles of cheap, popular, and easy. Tenaciously seek under and throughout for the genuine. Awaken to love in your midst - embrace it. Pack essential gear, load family into the car, head not for a campground or an RV park but for the wilderness of beach or woods, desert or jungle. Submit to the elements. Thrill to survive. Learn a secret or two. Dare to discriminate. Pop soap bubble delusions, demand the genuine. Come to know the difference between the many and the few. Discover heart, discover life."

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

McKenzie River

A beautiful river, my favorite in Oregon, the McKenzie.

Tom had MLK Day off. We drove up to the Cascades to breathe in their frigid freshness.

Jolly burst of color in the midst of the startling - for us - cold. The temperature here was in the mid to upper teens.

Exhilarated sisters clown around.

Hard, crunchy snow, temperature in the single digits by this time as we were higher up, and these three began to hike around.

Beautiful moon casting its reflected light followed us home.

As we headed toward a wide spreading sepia sunset, the bright moon low and to our left, shadows and trees and cityscape silhouettes met us. Invigorated relaxation.

We made it home before the colder temperatures settled into our valley. Last night the moon was a clear, bright white I've never noticed before. Tom says it might be because there's no moisture in the air. The girls and I braved the chill, standing, hopping, gazing until our bare feet screamed to go inside.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Heading Home

One year ago this month we found a way to make our dream come true, to add onto our home creating room for our girls to have parties, for our sons to come visit, for our parents to recuperate, for future family members to spend time with us. Room to spread out, play, share. For over a year we have been making the dream reality.

In the process of finding the dream, I lost me.

Soul searching words, meditations, insights - gone. Beauty and pain overlooked, shoved down, 'Save it for later, too much to do.' Nose to the grindstone.

At the same time I am pleased with our material progress. The house is coming along. We'll be painting and carpeting before we know it, moving into new bedrooms. Cassie and Caroline, so patient and kind in their tiny room, no room for most toys - up into the attic they go - clothes jammed into too small closets, too tight drawers. Soon they will have a room fit for princesses. They deserve it.

And Tom and I will have room for a chair from which to read, or knit, or sit alone in the dark and think the thoughts that have yellowed with age and nearly died over the past year.

A hard, hard lesson was learned during this year of prioritizing the temporal. Tom and I are made of tough enough stuff to be ground down to the core - for 12 months - and yet survive. We beat the stress for a change, rather than have it obliterate us with remorse and hurt. Understand this, it was hard. Bickering ensued, disagreements and pouting stamped around. There was stress. And strain. Every single day. In our exhaustion we all but lost sight of the true. But we weren't overtaken. For the most part we managed to keep our cool, our patience, and our togetherness, knowing the ordeal was temporary, but we are not.

I am surprised. Awestruck, really. If you'd asked me a year ago how I thought this process would play out in the day-to-day I would have told you that there would be dozens of screaming matches, doors slammed enough to loosen the hinges, household items hurled and smashed, and regret aplenty. Rabid turning on each other would lead to guilt which would haunt for years to come. "Why do we do this to each other?" Such has been our normal reaction to prolonged, uncontrollable stress.

This time it didn't happen that way. Why? How can it be that I am so surprised, how can we have made it this far in our growth as individuals and as partners and not have noticed? Like Christmas in my heart I understand that God has given us this wearing down process to show us what we otherwise would not have realized. We are never so lost that we can't be found. Even again and again.

"God creates everything out of nothing - and everything which God is to use He first reduces to nothing." ~~ Soren Kierkegaard

Our lesson contains a nugget: The inner man is fragile and strong. Fragile in that neglect will dim it indefinitely. Strong in that sincere concern sparks re-ignition, eyes to see, to notice the starvation. Easy to dim the light, easy to become lost, for temporal things - though lousy substitutes - are great imitators. Inattention allows the fake to deceive, to mask the real, breeding a certain discouragement, for one senses that something is amiss, ill-fitting. Eyes to see, yes, to see and know that a precious thing is shriveling. Then, a heart to fight, a strong inner heart, engaged once again in the real.

For now the testing is over. Awake at last, Tom and I begin taking in our surroundings; we shake off the disorientation, look up and around, see one another, sigh. Smile. We made it. "Hello." Reaching hands, interlocking fingers, faces relaxed, feet walking toward the smooth path, for God knows how long. We begin to find.

It feels good under my feet, this fresh but known path.

I've missed us.

I've missed me.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Retrospect

January 22, 1973. Roe v. Wade. Abortion laws overturned in the United States opening up abortion on demand.

I had to run my calculator just now to count the years as my brain couldn't wrap itself around the fact that this landmark Supreme Court decision happened thirty-five years ago.

Ten years into the abortion debate I found my life increasingly speckled with pro-life activists. Materials were given to me as I was pregnant with my second child, information that made me physically ill. Even as precious life grew inside of me I learned about gruesome procedures designed to terminate life within a woman's womb, about court rulings upholding the 'right' to do such things. I became aware of innumerable political activists on both sides of the issue marching, writing, and fighting.

I am a passionate woman. I am a mother. Babies have always been mysterious, beloved wonders to me. I didn't pick a side in the debate, it picked me. As sympathetic as I am to women who find themselves pregnant against their desire, allowing death is not something I support, barring life-of-the-mother type scenarios, which are extremely rare.

In 1983 I found my newly abortion-aware self invited to become co-director of our county Right-to-Life. When the woman who'd been director of the organization had to move out of state, my friend, Karen, agreed to take over, and she asked me to help her. I talked it over with Tom. Together we decided I should join the cause in this capacity.

It'd been awhile since this group had met, connections had shriveled along with communications. Karen and I jumped right in. In no time we created a Board of Directors which consisted of a doctor, a lawyer, pastors from two denominations, a couple of teachers, and the two of us. We talked. We educated ourselves. We planned. We organized. We got to work.

Both Karen and I had dabbled in journalism in high school and college so a newsletter was a natural step. From scratch we created a monthly six-page periodical filled with political and support information, medical news, book reviews, local events, opportunities for involvement, interviews with people of note on both sides of the issue, editorials, and more, all written and compiled by the two of us in our kitchens and living rooms. The response was huge. The mailing list grew.

Money came in without our asking, money we used to fund our printing expenses, pay for materials, and to support local crisis pregnancy centers.

Soon we found ourselves invited to speak to youth groups, study groups, churches, and schools. Our talks, coupled with films and guest speakers, led to invigorating question and answer sessions. A local radio station invited us for a lively on-air two hour interview complete with an extensive Q & A session with its radio listeners. We found ourselves repeatedly interviewed on television. People of all ages were thirsty for information and we were happy to help them sort it all out.

One moment vividly stands out in my mind. After one of our out-of-town speaking engagements I was approached by a gentle young woman in the parking lot as I made my way to my car. She carefully pulled a limp newspaper clipping from her wallet and handed it to me. It was a letter I'd written to the editor of the local newspaper she subscribed to, a letter stating my views on abortion and the reasons why. She said, "I just want you to know that I was completely, actively pro-choice until I read this letter of yours. It opened my eyes and changed my heart. I keep it here in my wallet where I see it every day. It inspires me to speak up for mothers and babies whenever I can."

My mind and body seemed to stop when I realized what she was saying to me. I had changed her life through my words. It took me a long time to grasp the implications of that. I am ever thankful that she took the time to tell me the impact I had on her for it taught me that no effort is too small to make a difference. As far as I know this dedicated woman remains a tireless champion of the unborn.

After more than two years of long days and nights spent writing, answering mail, keeping the books, lecturing, attending meetings, and taking long phone calls at all times of the day and night by people eager to learn from me or tell me their stories, I was pretty much burned out. I had two sons of my own to raise and a patient, supportive husband. They needed all of me. I resigned, leaving the organization in very capable hands, the baton successfully passed.

Each January 22nd I pause to size up the advances made in the effort to protect the unborn. I've always felt that most people will make the right choice if they know exactly what they are dealing with. Education is the key. As knowledge increases, abortions seem to decline.

A lump forms in my throat when I contemplate human beings rationalizing the killing of innocent life for their own convenience or reputation. I know it's not an easy decision for most, that those who abort often agonize over their situation. I am sympathetic, I am. But at the risk of sounding bland, two wrongs don't make a right.

It's my hope that one day we as a civilized people will look back on these days of women sacrificing their unborn children as a dark, dark era in the history of humanity; that human life will be restored to its place of honor and mystery.

Friday, January 18, 2008

"An Unfinished Life"

In watching the movie An Unfinished Life for the fourth time I was moved, yet again, with the beauty of the film, the story, the layers, the final words.

Two older men, Einar and Mitch, long-time friends, wounded by life, restored by truth, sitting on the porch of Mitch's cabin sharing words in muted, pensive tones:

Einar: You think the dead really care about our lives?

Mitch: Yeah, I think they do. I think they forgive us our sins. I even think it's easy for them.

Einar: Griff [young granddaughter] said you had a dream about flying.

Mitch: Yeah. I got so high, Einar, I could see where the blue turns to black. From up there, you could see all there is. And it looked like there was a reason for everything.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

No R&R Club Membership for Me, Thank You Very Much

"He who is of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden." ~~from Plato's The Republic
Three aunts, an uncle, and two great-cousins are proving the 'calm and happy nature' part of this quote to be true. All mid-80's to mid-90's, going strong, enjoying life, experimenting with new adventures, and sharing their love and wisdom along the way. Sure they have health issues, aches and pains. Their bodies creak, and their vision and hearing are skittish. Certainly they've had their share of hardships in life. But their minds, ah, their minds are elastic, confident, curious, and balanced. It's not simply a matter of positive thinking. It's positive being which leads to fresh thinking and the courage to try new things. It's focusing on what is good in life rather than what is disagreeable.

To this I aspire.

The opposite disposition, the frazzled and discouraged, tends to crash early on, it's true. They head for the end of each day like a frothy horse for the barn, and more often than not, sitting underneath a frazzled and discouraged outlook is a reclining chair with a remote control nearby. The R & R Club. Once a bottom learns the backwards flop into the cushiony seat of a recliner, once the arms and feet do the simultaneous dance of raising the foot rest, once the remote control becomes a fixture on the armrest, nearly all is lost. It's just a matter of time from there, my friends. From years of succumbing to this flirtatious, quicksand-like trap the lounging spine, hips, and knees take the shape of the chair when reclining and when rising to walk the stiff, bent walk of the R&R member.

It's a downward slide, usually premature, to the unnatural mindset of 'old.'

I remember one time Tom and I invited a couple who are ten years younger than we are over for Sunday lunch. Having been separated from them by time and miles we were eager to share a leisurely afternoon. The night before our planned get-together I confided in Tom that I wondered if we'd seem old to them.

I needn't have worried.

Before the first hour yielded to the second the conversation had been hijacked - by them - to the subjects of aches and pains, feeling 'cold all the time', the necessity of afternoon naps, scaly rashes, blood sugar dips and spikes, thyroid levels, cholesterol numbers, the need for fiber as 'constipation has become an issue,' and 'I feel chilly. Do you have any lap blankets in here? We always wear lap blankets when we are home."

I sat there, the fattest, grayest, cheeriest person in the room, struggling to keep a straight face, to keep the guffaws inside, nice and quiet.

"Are they serious?" I asked myself. It was obvious that age-fear had captured the minds of this couple, imprisoning healthy bodies, brainwashing them into false thinking and behavior.

Glancing at Tom I saw upwardly peaked Norwegian eyebrows hovering over somewhat alarmed eyes. I quickly looked away, suppressing the laughter. Sad, sad was the scene playing itself out in my living room, yet the absurdity of it induced astounded humor.

I'd just turned 50. The couple had just turned 40.

I just don't think in those terms.

"Have you noticed, now that you are older, that it takes much longer to heal from injuries and illnesses?" asked the still-in-the-prime-of-his-life husband.

"I guess so," I said, while thinking, "Get me outta here!" Steering the conversation like a drunken pirate only led me back and back and back to the same old stuff. Pills, holistic doctors, and natural remedies. Organic green grass drinks for breakfast, and goat milk for lunch. Nothing wrong with those things, but they didn't seem to be working for this couple.

Maybe a little chocolate now and then and a potato or two would help. Vodka in the wheatgrass smoothie.

Yes, I realize that health is not something to take for granted, nor is a good attitude any guarantee of a long and limber life. Genes play a role along with the will of God. Calamities happen. We live in a dangerous world. I do suggest however, that with whatever we are dealt we can choose to make the best or worst of it.

To a large degree happiness is a choice.

And so is 'old age.'

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Poise is the art of raising the eyebrows instead of raising the roof.

I learned that little bit of whatever-you-want-to-call-it when I was in college.

I practice it now and then.

Today, for example, I accidentally discovered that for months a 'friend' has been shamelessly using me as a stepping stone to try to further herself. In her insecurity she succumbs to the ploy of attempting to tear me down to build herself up after she has allowed me to open doors for her.

Decades ago I would have been wounded to the quick and angered. Today, the eyebrows lift. It still hurts, but not to the tender interior of my being. No anger boils within.

So, I guess this is a chance for me to see that, hmmm, maybe there has been some growth in the old girl - me - after all.

Not anything to brag about. But a little encouragement goes a long way.

To you, my faux friend, I utter a sincere Thank You. Though your intentions are selfish and unkind, in the end it has done me good. I'm sorry that fears assail you. I wish you strength to see that there is a higher way to exist, and it is available to you.


Friday, January 11, 2008


Go see Riverdance if at all possible.

It will amaze you, inspire you, touch you.

What men and women are capable of!

Music by hand, lips, and voice. Words. Dance. Energy. Color.

Took my breath away and gave it back to me full of wildness and vitality.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Key Moments

"I discovered that if you really keep your eye peeled to it and your ears open, if you really pay attention to it, even such a limited and limiting life as the one I was living on Rupert Mountain opened up onto extraordinary vistas. Taking your children to school and kissing your wife goodbye. Eating lunch with a friend. Trying to do a decent day's work. Hearing the rain patter against the window. There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it, always hiddenly, always leaving you room to recognize him or not to recognize him, but all the more fascinatingly because of that, all the more compellingly and hauntingly. If I were called upon to state in a few words the essence of everything I was trying to say both as a novelist and as a preacher, it would be something like this: Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace." ~~~ Frederick Buechner

Lacy snowflake alights on a friendly nose. (Click photo for better view.)

Early morning breakfast. Good man. Hearty grains. Simple is true.

Spanish homework. Practice. Practice, practice.

Hmmm...the mysteries presented when one stick, wet sand, and a teenage girl combine.

"...because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."

Peppered With Glimpses

"Our days are simply peppered with glimpses of God all around. The trick is to catch those flashes, to wallow in the present and soak them up so that on those grey days when life is more like a game of hide and seek, our souls can receive balm from the memories of God echoing around us. Seeing God in everything today will help provide sustenance on those days when we refuse to be distracted by God's playfulness."

~~~Frederick Buechner, as paraphrased by Liz

(Thanks, Liz, for sharing this quote.)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Great Books - Terrible Books

How some books reach publication is beyond me. Why some people consider themselves 'writers' is astonishing as well. I suppose I should be content to know that there are clear-eyed editors out there who know how to wield the red stamp of rejection. Bless them for sparing us from narcissistic drivel and just poor writing.

When winter's lack of sunshine ushers in bouts of Seasonal Affective Disorder I enjoy reading thoughtful books, uplifting accounts telling of events and people who have risen above life's sludge to realize their faith, their potential, or a deeper understanding of what is True.

I was given such a book recently, or so I thought. P.U. This book is a stinker! Written by a wannabe hack who can't decide if she wants to be a poet, a biographer, or the purveyor of pointless, titillating tales, it was only with a sense of fairness and hope that I finished this disoriented book. I was left feeling not only ill at ease but gypped. She wasted my time!

Frustrating it is to find inferior 'work' wrapped in a luscious title, with glowing reviews from (read the fine print) people and publications I've never heard of. Yes, I admit it, I became caught up in the manipulation of a creative cover and clever title. Reading the content, however, was like finding coal in my Christmas stocking. At least I could burn the coal for warmth or draw funny pictures on the sidewalk. But this piece of swill only takes up precious space in my home, for I cannot bring myself to burn any book. Reconsidering that.

What comes to mind is the old adage which states that most books would have made great articles; most articles would have made good paragraphs. I would add that some paragraphs would make good spit balls.

The hunt for a new-to-me great book continues. Anything to rinse this foul taste from my mouth.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Snow and Daffies - Huh?

Saturday evening it began to snow. In no time our tulip leaves, the same ones seen here, looked like this. They were completely buried soon after this photo was taken.

All that snow has melted already. We are in the banana belt of western Oregon. We get the fun, but not the mess.


Areas further west, between the Willamette Valley and the Pacific Ocean are having quite a time of it though, with mud slides, downed trees, and wet snow making everything worse.

The folks further east, in the Cascades, have treacherous driving conditions on the roads and heavenly Utah Powder at the ski resorts. Yin and Yang, baby.

You can watch the news to see the devastation in California and Nevada. Wow.

Three storms, one-two-three, and we are feeling it. Another snow is due tonight. The skies have 'that look.'

We shall see.

For you kind souls who have inquired, my family and I are fine. Like I said, banana belt. So far, so good.

It's January 7th, and surprisingly, these brave (foolish?) daffodils are already peeking their chubby little heads and slender leaves through the mulch in one of our flower beds, watered aplenty by torrential rains, as well as melting ice and snow. I expect my one type of tulips to be banzai bulbs; they are always up and taking a ragged beating in the middle of winter, though they don't flower until true spring. But the daffies usually wait their turn, remaining nestled in the warmer earth. Will they make it? Probably. Still, I rubber-necked when I saw these brave soldiers this morning, thinking I must be crazy. Nope.

Always, the hope of new life.

Nature keeps me on my toes, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

At the same time my heart and prayers go out to those who are suffering the terrible effects of these storms. Heartwrenching. And yet, such courage is shown in times of tragedy. Courage that sustains - and inspires those of us watching from our safe havens.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

January Winter in Western Oregon

Hail came with temps in the low 20's...

...and did this...

...and this....

...and this...

...and this.

(Click on the photo to get a better view of the diamond crust of ice on the lawn.)

So we did this...

...and this...

...and, when I lifted our bedspread in curiosity about the big lump under it, I discovered that Sammy did this (little sneak!)

So happy that we did this (how I love our flannel sheets)!

Yawny January. Chilly outside, cozy inside.