Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Evolution of my Women's Group

Last night was perfect. I felt fine and all was well. Lorrie even “invited” Karen, our originator, into the circle and was thrilled when I called her. She even said, “I meant spiritually. I didn’t expect you to call her.” I just smiled and said, “This has been planned and she is at home waiting this call.” :D :D :D Nice surprise for the group.

Tender and gentle are the words that come to mind this morning. It wasn’t sad. It was tender. We knew we had completed the circle. For ten years we had met, held ritual, shared lives ~ and now it was time to move on. Several of used the word evolving. I don’t think any of us see it as an “end” ~ rather a transition, another step forward, continuing the journey for all of us.

Part of me thinks that if I had done as good a job facilitating over the years as I did last night and if people had been as intentional about coming as they were last night, we might still be meeting. And we weren’t ~ and we aren’t. And that is fine. Friendships still exist. Lunches, ski and snowshoe and tennis dates will happen. Prayer requests will be sent out ~ we continue to be a terrific circle of pray-ers. And when we do see each other whether by design or in the grocery store, we will laugh and hug and share life stories.

Blessed be. Blessed we. Namaste’.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Grammatical Grumblings

"Those ones" or "These ones" ~ I don't understand the need for the extra word. "You may have those." Period. No need to throw in the extra word.

"At" ~ another extra word that is Way overused. "Where's he at?" Never mind the "don't end a sentence with a preposition" rule. What is the purpose? Why not simply, "Where is he?"

And the ever popular but still not correct, "irregardless". "Regardless" is a perfectly good word and may be used without the addition of the extra syllable. So many people use the incorrect form that I understand some dictionaries have added it, if only to say it is colloquial and should not be used. *sigh*

As you can tell, snow has not kept me totally inside. I have been out and about and heard enough to grumble about. ~ signed, the grammatical grumbling grannie ~ :D

Friday, March 25, 2011

It Keeps Coming . . .

. . . and coming and coming. The plows are keeping the roads clear. Fortunately we don't Have to go out our back doors so we have just let the snow pile up on the deck ~ with the following results. Although some of the other pictures are impressive as well.

This is right outside our back door. You can see a bit of the rail and tell how high it is. Turning to my left the picture was of a wall of snow. I can't see over or beyond it. The picture below is of icicles that are hanging off the roof. They usually melt away instead of dropping so that is good.

This is a view off our front deck looking toward our neighbor's. The tiny grey triangle in the center of the picture is the way they get to the street. Getting out of their house is a little scary.

This is the view out my kitchen windows. You can see the window sill - and in the summer, if we open the window we can pass food to and from the deck at that level. Gives you an idea of how much snow is out there. Dean says, "When summer comes . . . " When he finished, I asked him to repeat the first phrase. I needed to hear that someone else still thinks summer's coming is a very real possibility. Sun is shining this morning. We take it when we can get it this year.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Moon and No Stars

Wonderful, wacky weather. Last night at 9 as I crawled into bed and quit paying attention to what it was happening outside, it was snowing. At 12:30, I woke to moonlight pouring in the room. I got up and wandered around, looking out the front windows at an amazing Huge moon hanging high in the sky. Even at that hour and in that sleepy state, I realized there were no stars. The moon is so close to earth that it has wiped away the light of all the stars. There was just the moon in a pale grey-blue sky. No clouds obscured anything and the world was awash in light. At 3:30 I woke again, this time to a different sort of light. It was as if our window panes had been painted amber. The street lights shining through really heavy snow cause this phenomenon. You really cannot see beyond the window pane. It was snowing again. And has been ever since as far as I can tell. A Lot has fallen in the last six hours and although now it is more like a snowy mist, it is still piling up. There are places where March is spring. Not here, not yet, not in Tahoe.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Little Artistic Thought

With the economy the way it is and so many arms of government trying to find ways to cut the budget, those things considered “extraneous” are being hit hard. Schools are cutting back art programs: music, drama, art. Politicians are ready to cut anything that has to do with creative expression. And I am remembering something from a long time ago that made an impression.

We were in China in 1979 ~ very early for tourists as Nixon had only gone there in ’72. We flew from Beijing to Harbin (I think), a short flight on a domestic airline. During the flight I went to the bathroom. Walking down the aisle I realized that the plane was grey. The bathroom was a little grey cubicle. I think I remember a little tiny mirror, hardly big enough to check lipstick if you had wanted to do that. When I returned to my seat, I related the greyness to my husband and said, “I realize we don’t decorate the insides of our planes with lots of color or art, and I could have used one flower or one wall of red or something.”

The arts of all kinds are important to a society. I know there are budget cuts that have to be made and I guess I am optimistic enough to hope we can cut enough across the board that we don’t have to cut any one program totally.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Gentle, Little Rant

Beware the Ides of March - not because you may die but because it may give you ideas.

Whoever said (and I believe it was Ben Franklin), “nothing is certain except death and taxes” had to have been a man otherwise, she would have added “and laundry”. I am 68 years old and for 50 years I have been doing laundry once a week for myself and at least one other person. That’s just clothes. That doesn’t include sheets, towels, camping gear etc, etc. I couldn’t resist. I did the math. At one session a week that is 2600 weeks of laundry. An average of four loads per session equals 10,400 loads of laundry minimum. I’m just saying, that’s a Lot of Laundry!

Monday, March 14, 2011

After All These Years . . .

I finished Peter Gomes’ book, The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus. Within a few pages of the end, he quotes Paul Tillich, German theologian, whose book, The Courage to Be, was read over and over by my generation of students. We didn’t have to be religion or philosophy majors. Tillich was well enough known throughout the college speaking and preaching circuit that by the time I was in college, we spoke of him like we knew him or had sat in one of his classes. My undergraduate years were the last four years of his life. I find it impressive and moving that Gomes would find Tillich’s words so prophetic and important fifty years later that he quotes them at the climax of his own special book.

And . . . I find it particularly moving that the passage he quotes is the one that moved me So Deeply one day as an undergraduate. I was sitting in a small music library in the Fine Arts Building, reading what had been assigned. I was depressed, overwhelmed and feeling just plain awful. I didn’t care about school, life, friends, family or anything else. In this mood, I was reading the assigned chapters from Tillich and came across these words:

You are accepted. You are accepted, accepted by that which is greater than you, and the name of which you do not know. Do not ask fr the name now; perhaps you will find it later. D not try to do anything now; perhaps later you will do much. Do not seek for anything; do not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted. If that happens to us, we experience grace.

In that moment, in that little music library, caring for nothing, I found grace. I took Tillich at his word. I simply accepted. It was a long time before anything else changed or happened or was intended. And that was ok. I was accepted just the way I was. I have lived out of that knowing for the rest of my life. ~ with blessings

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Prophet for Today

I am reading The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus by Peter J. Gomes. It is a Very Good book. The Newsweek blurb on the front sums it up nicely: “Gnomes is an iconoclast, and his book is an alternately eloquent and folksy attack on everybody who’s sure of the right answer.” Because he is “alternately eloquent and folksy” the book is very easy to read. Because he attacks “everybody who’s sure of the right answer” it is very hard to read. Gnomes is a prophet and speaks with a prophetic voice to the church and culture today.

And . . . Rev. Gnomes died within 48 hours of my ordering his book. It hadn’t even arrived in my mail. Because, to my embarrassment, I had never heard of him before, as I have read, I have felt something I don’t feel about other authors, and I was having a hard time putting a word to it. Now I think I have it. It is an old word. One we don’t use very often any more. I am “bereft”.

Bereft of the opportunity to read his next book ~ although there are plenty of older ones I still have to read. Bereft of the opportunity to find his website or email and send him a note saying Thank You for this book. Bereft of the possibility that we just might end up at the same convention or conference and I would be able to speak to him, walk alongside him, share ideas in person.

It is an interesting feeling adding a certain depth to my reading. I hope I may hold on to it long enough to do justice at least in part to Peter Gomes’ vision for church, culture and possibilities for the Gospel today. ~ with blessings

Saturday, March 12, 2011

No Degrees of Separation

We are connected. Witness that oppressive regimes and governments try to cut off the internet when their people are revolting in order to keep the people separated. And witness how quickly we learn first hand of events happening so far away. A FB friend from my time in VA writes that he knows a woman in the next town whose daughter lives on a beach in Japan - and texts that she is fine because she was not at home when the quake and tsunami hit. I knew that yesterday morning.

How small the world seems when the tsunami in Japan destroys a harbor in Crescent Beach, CA. We can no longer ask why we should worry about events happening half way around the globe. We should worry, be concerned, be compassionate because the people effected for all practical purposes are us. We are they. We know of their pain and grief and fears through connectivity and our country is touched by storms that crush their shores and shift their land. "Our" and "their" are used very loosely these days. We are all on the big blue marble and we are responsible for each other. ~ blessings

Friday, March 11, 2011

How Can I?

A huge - 8.9 - earthquake hit northern Japan this morning sending a tsunami onto shore and then out across the Pacific reaching here even. Huge amount of damage and deaths. With the knowledge of this, it is sometimes hard for life simply to go on. I have been to gym - good work out. We had lunch at Sawtooth and split fish and chips - yummy. Took a shower. Heading for a haircut. Just the ordinary stuff of life on a gorgeous day on the mountain. Lots of prayers and caring and energy of light and love going out toward all those effected. And beyond that in the moment, there is nothing else to do -- and so life goes on. Still there is that edge to the doing that asks how can I? At least I am grateful for that much awareness. ~ prayers and blessings, please

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What Do I Do Now?

Any of you following this blog because you know me, know I don't drink alcohol. It is not a moral or religious thing. It is because I Don't Like It. It tastes really nasty to me. I have a flat palate when it comes to wine. $5 a bottle, $500 a bottle -- all tastes the same to me: nasty. Lest you think I don't drink at all, I do like a drop of Bailey's in my hot chocolate on occasion and if I order a pina colada, I will ask the bar tender to put half the rum in it. I really don't like the flavor that alcohol brings to a drink.

So ~ although my cholesterol is better, the percentage is still the same because the good has gone down along with the bad. How do I raise the good, I ask. Well, keep doing what I'm doing, my good exercise. And oh by the way, do I drink alcohol? No. Guess what helps the good go up? A small drink once a day.

After a short conversation the doctor said, don't start. We will work this out another way. :D I have heard that there is something in the purple grapes that will help rather than just the alcohol in the wine so I bought some grape juice. Dean reminds me we have some sangria around and I could add even more fruit juice to that.

We will see. I really am not looking for an excuse to drink. Too nasty. On the other hand if I could drink Something - even grape juice - and it would help boost my good cholesterol, that would be nice. On the other hand, I think I will keep up the exercise - four days at gym and one swimming this week. I'm ok. And I like the taste of exercise a Whole Lot More than the taste of wine.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fat Tuesday and Lent

Late in the year for Lent to begin. Early in the year for changing the clocks. Anyway ~

Growing up in a pretty plain vanilla Protestant family, Lent was not a big deal, much less the denial part of it. And my friends who did give up something, usually gave up chocolate and griped about it the whole time. It took becoming an adult and gaining a greater and deeper understanding of church history and theology to began to appreciate the Lenten traditions.

Thanks to a college chaplain friend, Anne, for a new perspective on the traditional Lenten fast. She suggested we try to fast from things like Judgement and Anger. Ahhh - 40 days without passing judgement or lashing out or even gnashing our teeth at someone. A personal spiritual discipline that just may continue once Lent is over and . . . helpful to others as well. If we live in personal peace, those around us will feel the love coming from us - or at least Not feel the anger and judgement and therefore be more at peace themselves.

When I decide to go without judgement, judgement jumps up and tries to claim its place in my life. So sometimes I don't always succeed. However, awareness that helps me step back, keep thoughts to myself and move on, allows me to raise my level of peaceful energy around me. Whatever you choose to give up - or take on - during Lent, may it be of value to you and to your world. ~ with blessings and butterflies

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A Doll's Story

The Doll, Trinity, Michelle, Susan, and in the picture Susan's mother Polly.

When Polly Trent was six years old, May 10, 1912, she was given a doll that she named Addie, which was her mother’s name.

When Polly’s daughter, Susan Shank, was six years old, January 23, 1949, Polly gave the doll, Addie, to Susan who named her Polly for her mother.

When Susan’s daughter, Michelle Mix, was six years old, April 26, 1972, Susan gave the doll, Polly, to Michelle who named her Susan for her mother.

When Michelle’s daughter, Trinity, was six years old recently, Michelle gave the doll, Susan, to Trinity who named her Michelle for her mother.

That is the basic outline of the story. There is always more of course.

Polly had the doll restrung, new wig and freshened clothes.

Susan was not as on time as Polly had been. Susan realized suddenly about April 1st that Michelle would be 6 in a very short time. She called her step-mother, explained where the doll was (in a trunk in the garage) and asked that Mama Bear (Blanche) send the doll to her. Polly (the doll) arrived wrapped and boxed gently. Michelle received Polly, named her Susan and a tradition continued.

Michelle took Susan to school for show and tell. As she was telling the doll’s story, at age 6, Michelle said, “And when I grow up, if I decide to be married and have children, I will give her to my daughter.” Susan had to smile, being very glad that already at age 6 MIchelle knew she had a choice in the matter.

MIchelle or her sister Meredith said that they should polish Susan’s shoes because the toes were scuffed. Human mother, Susan, said, No. The shoes had been hers when she was a baby and she had scuffed those toes crawling around her childhood home in Dallas. The scruffs remained.

Michelle had not gotten around to bringing Susan out of storage until late in the afternoon of Trinity’s birthday. The kids were asked to sit in the living room and Marc and Michelle moved the tv and cleaned off the trunk, opened it and brought out the doll. Michelle told Trinity the doll’s story. Trinity’s eyes opened very wide and she said, “I know what to name her.” Michelle was waiting to hear “Rainbow Rose”, the name every toy Trinity had received for a while was named. Trinity said, as if she had had a wonderful, new idea, “I will name her Michelle!” She did not hold the doll however.

Later the next day, Trinity came to Michelle and said, “I have been putting her up and down and shaking her hand as I have been getting to know her.” As this is being written, Trinity is now wrapping Michelle in a blanket and snuggling her down with her stuffed animals when Trinity goes to school. She carries Michelle around with her.

Mama Susan and Michelle have decided we probably need to again freshen the doll, bringing Michelle into the 21st century. At this writing she needs a new wig and something new in the way of clothes. She will after all be 99 on May 10, 2011. Her 100th birthday story will be written here once it occurs.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

What Can I Say?

Headline: Top Court Sides with Churchgoers Who Picket Military Funeral

No!! Absolutely not!! The Supreme Court sided with Free Speech, with the First Amendment ~ not with those people (I will NOT dignify them by calling them churchgoers) who chose such a vile and malicious way to express their opinions.

I remember to this day one particular conversation between my father and me about what free speech really means and how Very important it is to our way of life in the United States. He said that means that old phrase, I may hate what you say and I will defend to the death your right to say it.

My father was a decent, wonderful, Christian man who would never in his life have imagined that his defense would have to be for the vicious, cruel, hurtful words paraded by the Phelps family. And he also believed deeply in the Constitution. So do I. So do the Justices of the Supreme Court. Sometimes I wish it did not have to be so hard to uphold.

We can uphold it though by speaking words of love and compassion, truth and justice directly into the face of slander, libel and discrimination. That is the best defense of all. ~ with blessings and butterflies for your day

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Alive Writing Part II

There are those who know with a passion for their subject.
There are those who know with a passion for their subject and can communicate that subject and passion beautifully through the written word.
There are those who know with a passion for their subject and can communicate that subject and passion beautifully through the written word and can't make a speech about it worth a darn!

And therein lies a problem. If you love a subject, and love what some expert has written about that subject and want that expert to speak at a conference or convention, make sure you have heard him or her before hand. I have been on the choosing end throughout my professional life and sometimes we were really thrown. I remember the poet we were So Excited to have as our speaker, asking her to please include some of her poems in her presentation. I sat there as the stage manager sighing. I was also an actor ~ and I could have read her poems So Much Better than she did. Write them? No - absolutely not. She is a brilliant poet. A speaker, she was Not!

We all have different talents and we are wise to recognize them in ourselves and in each other.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

S/he Made it Come Alive!

I'm reading a fascinating book by George Friedman, The Next Decade. I will have more to say about the book later. This morning I will point out that Friedman is one of those people who both knows his subject and can make it come alive with delightful, insightful, penetrating prose.

These two qualities do not always go together. We have all known smart people who had a hard time communicating what they knew. And we have all known people who "made it come alive" whatever the subject. The kid who hates history and is suddenly deep into the French Revolution or the American Presidency because some teacher made this dry and uninteresting subject come alive. The college student who had never considered a particular field of study for a career until listening to someone at a party one night who made it come alive ~ not only because of their passion for the subject but also by the words they used and the way they wound the language around their passion.

That is much of what makes a good teacher, passion for the subject and a way with words to communicate that passion. One example from Friedman as he talks about the United States' rise to world power. ". . . . preeminence did not arrive until 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, leaving the U. S. alone as a colossus without a counterweight." (p. 15) Zing! If you haven't understood the U. S. position until then, that one phrase clicks it all into place. That is the power of language used well. Whatever "it" is, well spoken and written language can make it come alive.