Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thirty Days, For Better or Worse

I did it.

Thirty posts in thirty days.

Surprisingly no confetti came shooting out of my computer screen. No bells rang out. No whistles shrieked victory.

Just a page flipping on my calendar: December!


I'm going to make a pot of tea, put my feet up, enjoy the freedom to post at will - or won't - and let the Christmas Spirit descend.

Wish you were here...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Skype and Such

On Thanksgiving, using Skype, I called my aunt and uncle - my dad's older brother by two years - who live in Arizona. My folks and the Arizona loved-ones miss each other, haven't visited in person for years. Phone calls are their only means of communication these days.

My aunt has installed a camera on her computer. (I plan to use Christmas money for a camera of my own.) I called Dad into the computer room and he, wearing a headset, talked for a good long while watching his brother and sister-in-law in real-time on my monitor screen.

Then Mom put the headset on and talked with her favorite sister-in-law, chatting as they used to when they were neighbors and would sip coffee while visiting at the dining room table.

Both my parents enjoyed the surreal experience. My aunt and uncle were pleased for the opportunity as well.

Marveling at the sight of four octogenarians having a conversation regions apart via high-tech wizardry astonished me, warmed me, created deep contentment on a jovial Thanksgiving Day.



And while the grandparents played on the computer, the kids played cards!

Is this backwards or what!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Apres Thanksgiving

Weeks of mental planning.

Days of physical preparations.

One day.

One feast.

And it's all over.

Friday is rest day!

Turkey and noodles!

Or turkey sandwiches!

In a once-clean house.

Full of my favorite people.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful Heart

Today with gratitude in our hearts for the good you give our bodies, we thank you, turkey, humanely taken, respectfully roasted, eaten with appreciation...the circle of life.

To all who celebrate with me the Thanksgiving Holiday I wish you a bountiful day! May your food be perfectly prepared, may your energy be high, may your love flow freely, may your heart find its proper response to God, and may your in-laws leave before the leftovers are gone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Wednesday

Steam fogging the kitchen windows, breads rising by the warm oven, pies cooling on the table, bowls of vegetables prepared, sauces cooling, linens sorted and laid out, this day of the year smells good.

Tomorrow the guests arrive! I am stoked as I've been looking forward to this holiday for a long time.

My mom and dad are among the guests, their first visit outside of their home since they returned after Mom's long illness and recovery. What joy!

This is one of my favorite photos from Thanksgivings past: Sammy and Caroline with our funny turkey puppet that squawks, "Eat more pork!" when you squeeze its bill.

I hope your heart is full of joyful anticipation at what tomorrow may hold. I hope, too, that you have taken long moments to reflect on the many reasons for giving thanks this year.

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Peoples Native to our Land

Sharing and civility among the Pilgrims and Native Americans made the very first feast of Thanksgiving quite special, I am certain.

No tribute to the holiday would be complete without mentioning the life-saving aid given the new settlers. However we view the New World intrusion of Europeans, it's good to note that there was a moment in time when respect for the ways of others was acknowledged and appreciated. Good to remember.

One of my favorite Native American depictions - they're just so cute! - is of two babies in photos I discovered displayed in an Ashcroft Ghost Town building, several miles from Aspen, in the glorious Rocky Mountains.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Where We Live

"Modern American culture is fairly empty of any suggestion that one's relationship to the land, to consumption and food, is a religious matter. But it's true; the decision to attend to the health of one's habitat and food chain is a spiritual choice. It's also a political choice, a scientific one, a personal and a convivial one. It's not a choice between living in the country or the town; it is about understanding that every one of us, at the level of our cells and respiration, lives in the country and is thus obliged to be mindful of the distance between ourselves and our sustenance." ~~ Barbara Kingsolver

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Manipulated? Ya Think?

"When the holiday season of consumption that began on 'black Friday' (the Friday after U.S. Thanksgiving that is supposed to help merchants end the year in the 'black') draws to a close, our consumption doesn't stop, it just changes focus. During the holiday season we are encouraged to consume, especially foods to feel loved. In January we are encouraged to purchase diet foods and exercise equipment; ironically, to assuage our previous over-indulgence." ~~ Mary Beth Lind in Simply in Season

A bunch of sheep. Sometimes we Americans act like a bunch of sheep following momentary impulses. And the media is an impulse that undeniably prompts.

I think of the ads at Christmas for delicious foods. Mouth-watering ads showing gorgeous, perfectly dressed, unbelievably joyful people delighting in spectacularly roasted turkeys, glistening sauces, steaming potatoes and stuffings, vibrant vegetables, and breads slathered in butters and jams. Desserts shot up-close so that each pecan is magnified in the pie, the icing on the cookies lures, and the hot chocolate melts the plop of whipping cream before my eyes. All of this is put forth as innocent holiday requirements. Afterall the more extravagant the wintery delights you serve, the more you love your family and friends. Right?

So bake and cook and eat we do with permission from Mother Media. "Go for it!" she cackles. "Indulge, my children, eat with abandon! It's guilt-free - everyone is doing it!"

But, sheep that we are, we aren't prepared for the onslaught of palm-rubbing, gleeful GUILT about to be served up after the last feast on New Year's Day. Holiday pounds! Oh, the shame. Better lose them quick with this diet method or that, this gym or that. And you certainly can't do it without that convoluted piece of exercise equipment peddled by an aging t.v. star or swimsuit model you sort of remember.

It's a trap, I tell you!

Besides the obvious blindfolding and unplugging of oneself from the inevitable media blitz - is that entirely possible? - there is a better way, a thoughtful path through favorite, festive, holiday food. Bake and cook and eat to your heart's content and don't look back. Enjoy the goodness of the earth as you celebrate whichever holiday you observe. Take a few extra strolls around the neighborhood. Chop a little more wood. Play vigorously with the kids, especially when you don't really feel like it. Keep a handle on the pressure in your stomach. Engage your mind to keep from gluttony that will burp up regret later in the evening. You can have your cake and eat it, too, because if you don't eat the whole thing in one day there'll be more for the next.

All I'm suggesting is that rather than have our holiday merriment sour into new year depression, it's possible to truly relish the coming holidays not as sheep but as wise men and women who enjoy the people, the weather, the sights and sounds, and the sumptuous cuisine while maintaining just enough self-discipline that, in the end, we may laugh in the faces of the new year taunts about holiday weight gain, bloat, and disappointment.

Let the festivities begin!

(How obvious is it that is a post from me, to me? ; )

Saturday, November 22, 2008


In the middle of the Arizona desert a concrete walkway leading to a viewpoint tells a tale.

Rabbit prints straight, four-pawed, and true cut a path across the once-drying sidewalk.

Angled toward the rabbit prints are coyote tracks.

How much time passed between the two? Did the rabbit make it? Did the coyote have his supper?

Aye, the prints only tell part of the tale.

Things are not always as they seem.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Alaska and Hardy

"... a day which had a summer face and a winter constitution - a fine January morning, when there was just enough blue sky visible to make cheerfully-disposed people wish for more, and an occasional gleam of silvery sunshine..."
~~Thomas Hardy, Far From the Madding Crowd

I'm enjoying this book! The writing paints vivid mind-pictures. Perfect for ever shorter days.

I'd stay and write more, but the book calls and I have hours of 'other' to accomplish before I earn my Hardy reward!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Twenty days of Nablopomo.

Unexpected Con: Posting every day, while an interesting experiment and certainly do-able, means that each post is not afforded its due at the top of the page, but is quickly chunked down and down and down into obscurity. I've read many intriguing daily posts this month that should have been savored but were skimmed, their relevance lost in the enormous volume of writing by fellow Nablopomo trekkers. Like when a movie contains marvelously strung together sentences but there are just too many to mentally retain, so most dissipate before I have a chance to capture their essence, ponder their ideas, digest their meaning.

Unexpected Pro: Like an enforced brain-enema, Nablopomo has left my fusty mind-closet of words and ideas cleansed, refreshed, invigorated. All those musty old words that I'd intended to simmer on the 'back-burner' had instead become smashed and intertwined up against other good intentions. Daily posting has caused them to be peeled apart, examined, and the decision made: save or chuck? De-cluttering is good for a closet - it's even better for a brain. This is unexpected. Didn't know it could be done. An interestingly pleasant side-effect.

Nablopomo? Ten days and counting...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Workin' Hard

Tom cut down the wall between two tiny bedrooms creating a family room. Wow! What a difference. The free part is done. Demolition. Plus covering up narrow trenches between the floors with rugs, ignoring grungy walls, and strategically placing wall hangings. By snagging pieces of furniture from other rooms, including outdoor furniture, we've managed to make a livable space for the winter. Saving up for the remodel and new furniture will take time.

One of Tom's favorite tools.

Caroline stands victorious on the old wall. (The unfinished Dutch door leads to the new addition. We are waiting to finish the door until after we remodel, knowing it may suffer a bit of abuse during the process.)

Sammy is confused!

The weirdest thing is how our brains are so fully on auto-pilot about the floor plan of our house. We are still entering the new space, pausing, shaking our heads, and letting our brains figure it all out. It's pretty funny.

Still temporarily existing are the two doorways with doors still up, which now lead into the one new room, rather that the original two. Cassie, deep in conversation, got up from her seat in the new, rustic room, walked out one door, into the hall, and through the other door in order to reach the other side of the room. She just stood there cracking up once she realized what she'd done. We all laughed.

It takes a lot to get over a habit. What is it, fifty repetitions in a row to break one? Something like that.

No wonder it's so hard to change. It takes determination to muster that kind of conscientiousness. And dedication.

And paying attention to where you're going!

Right, Cassie?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Obama, Women, War

I've read Obama wants to require women to sign-up for the Selective Service just as men do in case we initiate another draft, and that he wants full equality among men and women. No more keeping women out of combat zones (not that they are restricted now, but they are supposed to be.)

Daughters fighting and killing alongside sons.

I remember when my boys had to register. Squeezed my heart even as I prayed they'd never be called up.

I wonder if Obama would be okay with his girls entering the military against their wills during wartime. If so, he's far and away different from every daughters' daddy I've ever known.

It's not hard to realize the reasons why women and men are not equal on the battlefield. Upper body strength differences that could mean life or death when dealing with injured soldiers. Natural protective instincts in men, regardless of how vigorously the tendency is 'trained out of them,' tendencies which cause responses to be altered, again potentially costing lives. There's more.

For me, I know myself and I know my daughters. Putting us on the battlefield would not only weaken the military, but would damage us emotionally and mentally. Yes, the psychological effects harm men as well. War is hell, after all.

But years ago I watched my toddler sons use sticks as swords and guns. I saw them instinctively imitate explosion sounds as they dropped marbles on their Lincoln Logs to blow their creations to smithereens. Plastic green soldiers strategized and 'died' among the furniture, books, and building blocks, even stuffed animals took hits while I implored of the boys to 'be careful!' Childhood brothers punched, they kicked hard and wrestled until I thought they'd suffocate, they played at war from the time they were three feet tall. I know it's not politically correct to say it, but they are wired this way.

My girls didn't do those things at such young ages. Cassie was a tomboy but she didn't play the sort of games the boys did, until the boys taught her. It wasn't instinctive. Caroline has always been sweet. She freaked out if someone stepped on a spider, preferring to escort the bug outside to 'go find your mommy.' The girls preferred games which included cute imaginary animals, dressing up, tea parties, hide-and-seek, and playing grocery store. Their scuffles were noisy with words and ended quickly with tears - oh, the tears and wails at being injured whether physically or emotionally. It took me forever to console them. The boys, not so much.

While my sons are tenderhearted men, still, there is a thrill at guns, explosives, demolition, and all those vigorous-type things while the girls are intrinsically gentler. I don't believe it's upbringing because the differences were apparent at such young ages. Plus, the girls were heavily influenced by much-older brothers in the household and still, the deep-seated nurturer exists in each girl. My daughters can shoot, it's true, and they've learned their way around a man's world, but still, there is an innate gentle nourishing spirit in them. They want to cook and bake for the men in our family, they want to 'surprise them' with special moments, hand-made gifts, sweet kindnesses.

Yes, men and women are different. Much the same, true, but different enough that I believe women should only enter the military if they want to and even then, they should be kept out of combat zones.

Obama is squeezing my mother's heart with his views. Let's hope wiser heads prevail before much damage is done to future mommies and daddies of our compassionate nation.

Monday, November 17, 2008


In the process of cleaning out closets this weekend we came upon boxes of home videos. We watched a few of them last night.

Awesome. Magical. Hilarious. Sweet.

The things we’ve done as a family! The trips to the log cabin with heavy snow falling outside and a warm fire inside. Skiing. Snow-shoeing. Snowball fights. And the trips to the seashore feeding seagulls, running in the sand, visiting lighthouses and aquariums. Holidays, everydays.

My teenagers as toddlers gently fingering sea cucumbers and other mysterious pettable ocean creatures. Ice skating at the local rink with my now mid-twenties eldest gently escorting his baby sister around the rink, scooping her up tenderly when she staggers, holding her on his lap to tighten her skates. I melt into gooey sentamentality at the sight.

There’s my second son laughing and cheering as he beats a quick-drawing Johnny Rio at Enchanted Forest, his teenage mannerisms identical to those he exhibits today: the yanking on his shirt to free up his shoulder, the way he runs his hand over his head when he’s problem solving.

I smile stupidly at the joy of it all.

And there’s Tom who doesn’t look a day older than he did then even though his many choices of eyeglasses tell the tale. Holding the babies, playing with the tweeners, working with the growing boys, and still reading the newspaper or reclining on the couch while I record our family's history via video recordings.

My parents. Tom’s parents, including his now deceased father. Brothers and sisters. Cousins. Friends. Lots of friends!

When we turned off the VCR and TV after we’d watched enough for one night I was pleased to feel not an empty ‘where did the time go’ feeling, but contentment. Because the videos did not record an experience ended, but an experience on-going. The journey continues.

During this month of thankful ponderings I find immense gratitude for the experiences I’ve encountered in marrying Tom and together raising four children. While videos don’t record the yelling and screaming, the depression and dissatisfaction, the mistakes and unkindnesses, they do show that the foundation is healthy, that it always has been.

Good to know.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I'd be happy to find a poster of this under the Christmas tree.

It cracks me up.

Oh wait, it's about me.

Ha, still laughing!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

No and YES

Yesterday I was bummed. No good reason. Just general bummishness.

Because one of our cars was being repaired I had to drive the girls to their class, the last thing I wanted to do.

Sitting in on Cassie and Caroline’s Shakespeare class yesterday was just the fun-fix I needed. All the kids were jolly! All of them. The teacher, full of energy and humor, created an hour and a half of sweet synergy.

While watching and listening to the teacher give direction, lend perspective, and evoke emotion with the kids in rapt attention, I felt cranky sluggishness ooze out my toes and fingers quickly replaced by tingling engagement pumping up from tailbone to scalp.

People of all sorts had come together to share, to teach and learn. More than an observer, I found myself drawn into the craft of acting as it was playing out around me.

Cooperation. Understanding. Kindness. Giggles.

Sometimes cynicism gets the better of me.

Thankfully - now and again - life intervenes in special ways to make a resounding YES out of my poopy no.

And I’m happier because of it.

And so are those around me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Break in the Rain

The sun is shining. The sky is blue. Leaves swirl through the air like golden snowflakes.

Lentil soup bubbles on the stove.

Sam is sun-bathing on the porch.

Tom is painting trim boards in the back yard.

The girls are debating and sculpting in their classes.

I've just finished exercising. Endorphins! Life is goooood.

My mind is full of holiday menus and table settings, chores to complete, turkey-dominated shopping lists, and lectures on why I should tackle the mountain of laundry and fast.

Multi-tasking. The body doing one thing, the mind several others.

An ordinary day in November.

(How I thank God for ordinary days!!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008


A year ago my parents caught terrible colds from children who were quite sick and allowed too near. Months of floundering health ensued.

Mom's illness seemed to subside for awhile but, unknown to all, it burrowed deep into her body. In May she nearly died from it. I faced the prospect of living without my mother more starkly than ever before.

I hated the feeling.

Cold and flu season again greet us, with holidays to boot.

Optimism has the upper hand so far but under the surface there is fear in my mind and heart. Fear of careless people getting too close. Fear of my parents becoming ill.

Those who desire to comfort and counsel remind that God is in control. I know this. But I also know he doesn't promise roses and sunshine all the time. Things get rough and therein lies the teaching ground. But I don't like it. And I'm afraid of it.

I'd be a fool not to be.

If you don't feel pain and fear but dull them with platitudes how do you fully experience life? How do you come to know deep passion, wrenching mother's love, or the full measure of frustration which leads to an altered lifestyle or worldview? I mean, even Jesus wept many a time. He didn't just smile a smarmy smile and say, "God is in control." He felt the raw heart feelings that humans feel. He acknowledged them with deep emotion.

I'm going to continue to feel, thank you very much. I think the more pitiful reaction would be to never embrace the heartaches of life which reveal the absolute joys.

But if you are sick or have sick children I'm begging you, please stay away from elderly people, the frail, the young, and most especially, my parents. Visit when you can leave love and memories rather than a miserable, lingering illness.

Consideration is a gift. Give it often.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hitting Closer to Home

Today I learned of three loved ones who are now unemployed. Three. In one day.

And another is days away from being laid off with a wife and young family to feed.

Salaries are decreasing to keep businesses afloat, to keep employees employed.

Economic skidding and crashing has reached into all our homes with its upsets and challenges.

It used to be that once a job was lost another was quickly found. No prob.

But now - well, it's not certain another will be found right away.

Is this what the Great Depression felt like, this uncertainty?

At the same time there is gratitude for what we have. Tom is employed and so are the boys. Times are normal for us in that regard but it feels more precious now as we witness the losses of others and as we realize it could very easily happen to us. Why not?

Every choice to purchase is weighed against that void of unknowing called 'the future.'

And every moment that we share is noticed. We notice the quiet evenings safe and warm and well-fed. We notice the children happy and pursuing interests. We notice pay-checks and groceries. We notice all that is free - walks around the park, raking leaves together, star-gazing. And we notice the comfort of good choices made which could pad us for awhile from a crash that may come this way.

If this is another depression what will we call it?

Let's hope it's the Small Depression. Or the Insignificant Depression. Or the Short Depression.

Or the Little Blip.

May this post find you warm, comfortable, safe, and content in the midst of those you love!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obese Petite

Guess who I saw on our fence last night as I was out feeding the cat?

Yes, Gollum!! I least, I think it's him. He's so fat!

Ben says we must have taught him well how to steal from pet dishes all over town. Hmm.

Joe says it's the fattest 'possum he's ever seen. "Even his tail is fat!"

The girls think he's adorable, all plump and calm.

Not sure if it's our old Gollum or not, but he didn't run off when we approached him to take his picture. He just sat there looking sweet (?) as we looked and marveled at the...

...World's Fattest 'Possum!!

Good grief.

(You know you live in an abundant place when opossums eat so very well.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

NaBloPoMo and Me

Okay. So, I've noticed something on this tenth day of NaBloPoMo. Posting every day is sucking away too much of my free time.

It's not the posting, mind you. That doesn't take very long. It's actually a good way to take a short break in my day.

No, it's the lingering at the computer reading everyone else's blogs that passes time in rapid speed. The blogs I follow are so interesting!

After catching up on post-reading, I read the news. Then, I look to see what movies have come out to rent, what's on television, how to cook Delicata Squash (otherwise known as potato squash, sweet potato squash, or Bohemian squash. See the things I learn in my dawdling time?).

It's true that an object at rest tends to stay at rest.

Must reach down and find that pool of self-control within, so I can post each day this month - and not gain weight! - and keep the mold off my spirits - and keep in touch with the tangible world - and prove to myself that I, as a balanced woman, can do it all!

Yes, I will stop right now. I've done my good deed for the day here. No, I don't need to find a recipe for cooking parsnips, one of the last things my CSA box delivered, along with the pretty squashes that I really don't want to cook but use as Thanksgiving decorations. Huh, I wonder if there are any good websites on arranging winter squashes in an interesting way for the Holiday table?

Google...oh, no no...

Get up! Get up! Get up!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Responsibility - Part Two

From the Chicago Daily News dated February 5, 1960, by Sydney J. Harris:

"I walked with my friend to the newsstand the other night and he bought a paper, thanking the newsboy politely. The newsboy didn't even acknowledge him.

"A sullen fellow, isn't he?" I commented.

"Oh, he's that way every night," shrugged my friend.

"Then why do you continue to be so polite to him?" I asked.

"Why not?" inquired my friend. "Why should I let him decide how I'm going
to act?"

As I thought about this incident later it occurred to me that the important word was 'act'. My friend 'acts' toward people - most of us react toward them. He has a sense of inner balance which is lacking in most of us - he knows who he is, what he stands for, how he should behave. He refuses to return incivility for incivility because then he would no longer be in command of his own conduct.

When we are enjoined in the Bible to return good for evil, we look upon this as a moral injunction - which it is. But it is also a psychological prescription for our own emotional health. Nobody is unhappier than the perpetual reactor. His center of emotional gravity is not rooted within himself where it belongs, but in the world outside him. His spiritual temperature is always being raised or lowered by the social climate around him and he is a mere creature at the mercy of these elements. Praise gives him a feeling of euphoria which is false because it does not last and it does not come from self-approval. Criticism depresses him more than it should because it confirms his own secretly shaky opinion of himself. Snubs hurt him, and the mere suspicion of unpopularity in any quarter arouses him to bitterness.

A serenity of spirit cannot be achieved until we become the masters of our own actions and attitudes. To let another determine whether we shall be rude or gracious, elated or depressed is to relinquish control over our own personalities which is ultimately all we possess. The only true possession is self-possession."

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Autumn leaves falling, swirling, crunchy underfoot.

Fingers of his bigger hand intertwined with mine.

Daughters and dog stroll four steps ahead along leafy-gold park paths.

He plucks a flower, for me.


I hug his arm closer.

Contentment in the afternoon.

Is this the essence of love?

Friday, November 07, 2008


Inevitably facets of life become askew. Reality and understanding fork. Exaggeration and limited access add to misconception.

Time for a reality check. While I don't always like what I discover - sometimes fantastical renditions of actuality are more appealing or inspiring - I do find that doggedly seeking clarity offers depth of understanding which presents definitive choices, rather than illusional muddy waters.

Recently grappling with a matter, I've found my conception of it disappointing. Or was it? The truth, while not the fairy tale I had conjured, freed me. The grounding of my flighty notions not only shrunk my perspective to its natural size but allowed me to straighten my own posture in the realization that the truth is not so daunting as I had imagined. When compared to a giant we feel tiny. When compared to a mere human, well, the air is easier to breath somehow.

While I have a long way to go in the journey before me there is invigorated strength in my legs and a true confidence that, in spite of past shrinking before heros, I've been making progress just the same.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Meditations in the Desert

Tom and I took a few days out of our busy family life to get away. We have an aunt and uncle in the Phoenix area who mean the world to us and we hadn't seen them in ages. It was time to just do it!

Uncle Floyd and Tom talked non-stop about everything under the sun! So much catching up to do. My uncle is one of my heros.

When we wanted a tour of the neighborhood Aunt Joyce energetically backed out the golf cart for us to use. This lady has been a role model of graceful enthusiasm to me for decades.

While not quite ready for a 55+ neighborhood, Tom did enjoy putting around in the cart. He gave me a good ride - and didn't roll the thing! Looks pretty good in the driver's seat, no? Not as good as Aunt Joyce, but hey, she's had more practice.

Tom and I explored the Superstition Mountain area one day. It really is mysterious, rugged, and beautiful. Quite a history there!

Saguaro cacti everywhere caught my attention. Tourist that I was, I stared and stared and commented on how huge some of them are and how plentiful. Forests of them!

Does he dare? (It's Tom. Of course he dared!)

Checking into our Grand Canyon lodgings we were greeted by a trio of deer. This one stood still long enough for me to fumble around, grab my camera from my purse, and capture her curious, brown-eyed face. Made me smile.

We pulled up to the Grand Canyon at sunset and, though stressed from the situation at home, managed to snap a few photos of the magical moment.

In early morning darkness we were the first people at the rim to await the sunrise. From all over the globe people joined us, soft whispers anticipating the magical moment. At last, in muted silence we witnessed the sun's rays shoot and spread above the silhouetted rim-edge, coloring gullies and crevasses, peaks and strata with glimmering fingers of light. Not a sudden happening, but a lingering, seemingly decisive artistry that left us breathless - and renewed. It was going to be a good day, this we knew.

Statue in one of Sedona's public areas. The little picture-taking girl is part of the artwork. Delightful.

Prickly pear cactus with ruby red blossoms. We bought a jar of jelly from such red orbs and managed to bring it home in one piece. It will appear on the Thanksgiving table this year.

Chapel of the Holy Cross. Locally known as the Chapel in the Rocks, this special place seems to have grown right out of the red rocks of Sedona.

View from a pew. The serenity in this little chapel - candles, soft music, quiet contemplation, majestic view - was the perfect thing for frazzled nerves.

Natural beauty. Family ties re-secured. More than scenery. More than safety. More than vacating the routine.

Meditations in the desert paused our souls long enough to reveal the solid foundations that uphold our very lives.

Necessary moments.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Relief. It's over.

No more campaigning. The healing begins.

At the end of the race Senators McCain and Obama gave stirring speeches patriotic and unifying. Each one made me cry.

For this wisdom, honor, and character I am grateful.

As we remove the campaign signs may we also put away our hostilities, letting loose the dove of peace. There is more that unites than divides. It has always been so.

Last night our nation's furniture was rearranged, some new pieces brought in, some old retired. The lay-awayed political living room looks much different. Is the adjusted feng-shui going to be favorable or unfavorable?

Last night half of our voting citizenry went to bed jubilant and half feeling hollow. Hopefully with the sun arose clarity. We are, after all, Americans. Underneath the passionate disagreement we have huge, loving hearts.

Last night a brand new, silver-tongued Commander-in-Chief was given the keys to the kingdom. He has promised a seemingly endless, succulent feast on a table labeled 'Change'. Is he the water-to-wine chef people deem him to be?

Let's hope this inspirational, though unseasoned, President-elect knows more than how to make political mac and cheese from a box and if not, that he has the sense to surround himself with great chefs who can quickly teach him the moves. Our nation needs a sustaining meal - and fast!

Let there be no gloating or whining. Let there be compassion and hope. Together we are strong. Together we are wise. Together we long to be good, to do better, to make a positive difference in our communities, our states, our nation, and our world. Together we learn the lessons of history even as we forge ahead toward a future energized by vigorous campaigns which showed us our hearts, helped us find our voices - democratic, republican, and parties soon to make their mark - we converse, and in so doing find our balance.

Thank you, Senator McCain, for your on-going service to our country and for running a solid campaign. We know you'll continue to be a key leader in the days to come. We count on it.

Thank you, Senator Obama, for being a gracious winner. Your soothing tone does much toward bringing opposing hands together in healing clasps. There, in those hands, lies the strength of this nation.

Congratulations to all political parties on all levels for exhibiting to the world what feisty, awakened democracy in action looks like! Well done.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

"While soldiers defend freedom, politicians debate it, lawyers interpret it, and the press exercises it, citizens embody it. We the people make liberty happen. If we don't keep freedom and justice vigorous - by serving on juries and following the news and voting in every election - we can allow them to die. That's what happened in Rome. Its citizens didn't create the imperious Caesar, whom the Senate named dictator for life. They allowed him.

Democracy itself is a kind of marriage: challenging, high maintenance, full of squabbles and annoyances, and - when luck and effort converge - a miracle."

~~ Jay Heinrichs

I feel uncharacteristically nervous about the election today. I am unsure if its the months-long media avalanche that has my stomach in knots, the massive amount of money spent to buy our votes, the apathy and/or ignorance among our citizenry, or the general, consistent downward spiral of integrity and morality permeating society as a whole. Maybe it's not as bad as my perception depicts. Maybe it's that avalanche thing. Maybe it's sheer mind-exhaustion.

I'm told that many churches have prayer chains for which members sign-up for two hour slots so that there are prayers being said for the twenty-four hours that are election day. They are to pray for McCain/Palin to win the Presidency. Already members have been fasting and praying every Sunday for a couple of months now.

I imagine there are churches doing the same thing for Obama/Biden.

I guess God will tally up the prayers and let us know who the faithful voted for President? Hmm. I don't think it works that way.

I've always felt unqualified to tell God what to do, you know, dictating to him what's best. I use my knowledge, experience and reasoning, my belief system, even my gut to make decisions and let him take care of the outcome. Thankful I've been that he does things his way because, as the Bible says, his ways are higher than ours. He knows more than we do. It's seems hard for some people to believe, I know, but it's true.

While I believe in being a diligent citizen and keeper of liberty, still I will be very relieved when this election is over.

That being said, Please Vote if you haven't already. Fatigue is no excuse for shirking.

After all, it's up to we the people to guard and defend our liberties.

Shall we allow them to be taken away, or shall we diligently - tenaciously - hold on to the original good that founded this nation?

It's a choice - and an important one.

And it's ours.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Responsibility - Part One

A week ago today Sam, our dog, was attacked by a pit bull. Thus began a week of him hiding under the table most of the time, yipping if we came too close to his head and neck area, and general pain and discomfort for the loyal dog. He couldn't shake his head as dog's like to do, or scratch himself as it just hurt too much. We scratched for him and tried to make him as comfortable as possible.

I'm pleased to announce that yesterday he returned to 100% normal! He was scratching, running, perking up ears and tail. The final evidence that he felt great - he enthusiastically played with his hedgehog toy!

A true relief to have him back!

A week of uneasiness for us as well as sadness to see him suffer so has finally ended.

I wonder if the woman who let her pit bull jump out her car window and proceed to chew on our beloved family dog even thinks about the ramifications of her lack of diligence.

I doubt she knows the physical and emotional trauma Cassie and Caroline went through, how they both went to bed that night with terrible stomach aches - something they rarely suffer. I wonder if she knows the upset they experienced for these several days afterward.

Does she know that Sammy suffered terribly from the attack? Swollen, stiff neck, puncture wounds, broken spirit?

Does she know that Tom and I cut our trip short by two days, rushing home to care for those suffering under our roof?

Would she care if she knew? Would she laugh? Would she shrug?

I don't know and I don't really care.

But it gets me to thinking about the responsibility we each have to consider the effects that our actions - or lack of actions - and our words - or lack of words - have on our fellow sojourners.

Sometimes we manage to soothe a soul or cheer someone. Sometimes we make our friends laugh and relax, or think and ponder. Sometimes we give them a reason to keep trying when life stoops shoulders fatigued from the grind. Sometimes we teach, enlighten, and clarify. Often we are told of the effect and it satisfies to know we helped in some small way.

But what about the times we grouched at a stranger in the supermarket, hollered at a baaaad driver, sniped at a slow checker, or thoughtlessly criticized anyone for no good reason? What about the times we shut out a family member who needed a quality we could have shared but wouldn't just because we were tired or in a funk? What about the kindness we didn't show? What about the time we let the pit bull chew up two little girls' beagle and never stayed around to make sure all three were okay? What about that?

What about that.

Seems there is an innate responsibility we all carry for our words and actions.

Wouldn't life be bettered if we all made the conscious choice to think about where and how the effects of our behavior land?

This week has made an impression on me.

For now, though, I'm relieved to have my healthy daughters and dog back.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Alas, my hour has returned to me after its months-long daylight savings switcharoo in March.

Rhythm is restored.


Peaceful sleep.

I've heard the ancients believed that life is best lived in sync with nature, the embracing of cyclic changes. We are, after all creatures, like it or not. Intelligence does not pre-empt our natural needs. There are no genuine shortcuts to good health and sanity. Life is a long, patient process. Wise to live accordingly.

One look at nature in autumn and winter testifies that slowing down is required. Cessation of busyness. Foods that warm, long, dark nights for rejuvenating sleep. Solace for spiritual reflecting - seeing and listening undisturbed.

Illness creeps in when rhythms are ignored. Exhaustion, irritation.

It's okay to slow down - it's more than okay, it's necessary.

For health.

And peace.

And quiet growth.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

November Challenge

Joining NaBloPoMo, which stands for National Blog Posting Month, is an adventure to which I look forward. Can I do it? Will I become boring? Do I care if I become boring? What will I discover about myself? Will I find my daily life narrowed or widened? Will there be resentment or a sense of fun? Will my family become nasty to me for extra time spent on the computer? Will I care if they become annoyed? Yes, yes I'll care, but I'll find ways to balance it all out. Or will I?

See, lots to discover.

So, I'll be posting every day for the entire month of November, no mercy allowed or I'm disqualified.

Up for the challenge of a marathon blog posting month am I.

Buckle your seat belts and keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times.

Here we go!

(If you are struggling with chocolate and caramel sweets do not, repeat DO NOT click here!)