December 24, 2016

AventWord::Celebrate



Celebrate
Christmas is a feast of the senses! It is a celebration of our ability to see and know and taste and touch the power and glory and revelation of God. It is not just about a birth that happened long, long ago and far, far away. It is about the way in which God manifests himself to us in the person of Jesus as friend and food and hope and love. It is a celebration of our ability to grasp God and to sense him with all our being.
-Br. James Koester

However you celebrate The Glorious Holiday, may you be filled with joy and peace knowing the earth shook and history changed for ever on the day the Savior was born, Emmanuel. May love permeate each fiber of your being and may you have fun in the celebration.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him.  Matthew 2:10


December 23, 2016

AdventWord::Live




Live
We are meant for life in all its fullness. Our getting together for the sheer pleasure of it anticipates the Kingdom and the heavenly banquet. Conviviality and celebration, especially in the face of difficult circumstances, bring light into the world.
-Br. Mark Brown

On this particular night, we'd seen the a play downtown with dinner before at a beautiful outside restaurant. We ate, al fresco, next to the Main Public Library. Beautiful. Scaffolded. Looming. 

The play was fine. A revival of a 1950's play done in a minimalist modern way. It left us, well, as the young crowd says, meh.

Mary suggested we stop for coffee on the way home. It was late. She and I are both really early birds, the husbands, not so much. So, we drove just a little bit and ended up at a favorite breakfast spot which transforms into a festive garden at night. There we were chatting, enjoying, savoring without the adult considerations of what the morning will bring. And simply living the evening out with each other. I do think these moments are exactly that. A taste of heaven and light in the world. 

We can live on these platters of time when the deeper darkness around us would have us stay in and starve. But then, Christ, the Giver said, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." It will do me good to live out of this gift.

December 22, 2016

AdventWord::Animate


Animate

The Spirit of God animates us, but it all happens in the flesh: every deed of kindness, every act of generosity, every word of encouragement happens in the flesh. Every embodiment of Christ’s grace or truth or love happens in the flesh—or it doesn’t happen.
-Br. Mark Brown

Those beads and bells didn't get up on that door by themselves. It was flesh and blood. These words from Br. Brown are so very logical, but strike me as full of new concepta. So often the conversation is about killing the flesh, but wait.
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." - John 1:14.
I need to go easier on the flesh and remember the Spirit moves, the Spirit animates, but those dishes? Done in the flesh. That Christmas breakfast for my elderly neighbors will be made in the flesh. Giving and receiving? The flesh. The key, I suppose will be recalling that the glory is from Him and through the flesh.

December 21, 2016

AdventWord::Abide




Abide
God’s invitation for us to abide in God as God abides in us is not an invitation to settle down and get comfortable. It is a call to mission, a summons to fruitfulness. We are meant to share the fruits of the divine life with others.
-Br. David Vryhof

The last leaf on the tree is abiding. Holding fast, for now, to the branch. It has been created and nourished. It has flourished with the once-red, heart-shaped leaves of the Red Bud tree. And while I can add some nutrients to the soil, and water the tree, the truth is, life will happen in the coming dormancy. Designed by the Designer. Just like me. I sincerely want to be in this awareness. I abide. I can do what is necessary, the food, water, work, exercise, spiritual practice, love, friendship, all of it. But it's God the Designer of all, who is creating life within my being. Providing what will be found in my next steps. Or in my rest.
Abiding in Him.
Thoughtfully.

December 20, 2016

AdventWord::Prune





Prune
We prune to let go of growth, letting die what is alive but not growing in the best direction. We prune to let go of death, letting go what is dead but still taking up space. Pruning is a form of dying in order for the tree to more fully live and bear more fruit.
-Br. Luke Ditewig

I'm a big believer in pruning. God has taught me so very much about my life while at the tasks of the garden. I see the hard cut back of January as the first step toward the blooms of spring. 

The first time I cut roses back I did it by the book. I did the pruning. Gingerly. And then my beautiful rose-tender-of-a-neighbor, Bob, came over and told me to go harder. Angling my pruning sheers properly and removing all but about 14" of the plant, I cut, believing in his urging, kinda. A few months later, the roses were gorgeous and profuse.

Pruning then, applies well in my life. Cut back, even what's alive but not growing in the best direction. All of it becomes fodder for the sheers. Unnecessary complexities, clusters of "do," the things I take on, the stuff I collect, that thing that is dead and taking up space. Not as simple and pure as the garden work, certainly. 

Christ speaks these words in John 15:  “1 I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you." 

Reflecting and consuming these concepts, I have to place it all on the Gardener's altar. Allow His wisdom and love to show me where to make the cut and which angle to use so that new growth is not halted, but prepared in the right season. The waiting is not without anxiousness, but filled with joyful expectation.

December 19, 2016

AdventWord::Simplify


Simplify

A simpler lifestyle can be a way to share with those who have less and a way of returning to them what is usurped by unjust social and economic structures. Assuming a stance of under-consumption can be a provocative invitation to others into a conversation about affluence, poverty and social justice.

-Br. Robert L'Esperance


December 18, 2016

AdventWord::Open


Open

When we open our hearts enough to truly love, our enemies can open up the possibility for our healing. It’s not just about treating our enemies a certain way; it’s about the fruits of relating to each other, to everyone, in the fullness of Christ’s love. When we practice loving fully, our great reward is being free from holding onto feelings like anger and hatred.

-Br. Nicholas Bartoli

And when we open, we can be beautiful. We afford others the opportunity to grow and blossom too.

December 17, 2016

AdventWord::Embrace


This beautiful woman met me standing outside the church at the University of San Francisco. I had coffee. I was banished. It was cold.
She took the opportunity to enter my standing cafe and my life -- beautifully interrupting with her love and joy. It was an I-Thou moment, reminding me of His presence. Filled with grace.

Embrace

We are a manifestation of Christ in the world. Our mission is not to bring Christ to people, but to help people come to know and embrace Christ already present.

-Br. Mark Brown

December 16, 2016

AdventWord::Awaken


Awaken
Jesus calls us to live into the fullness of our humanity, to embrace what we, in our brokenness, experience as physical, psychic, or spiritual limitations. Jesus urges that, rather than seeking to be cured of our limitations, we ask God to heal us in them, and waken us to the spiritual gifts hidden in them.
-Br. Jonathan Maury

Not unlike the unfolding of the Narcissus. These were tucked in a bag, purchased in November and forgotten with a couple of ornaments. They tried to sprout, to grow. But they needed the light. They needed the water. 

December 15, 2016

AdventWord::Trust




She met him when she was a tiny eight week old and from the first day, curled up in his belly or tail for sleep. He wondered about her. Maybe even worried. But in the not so long run, they found love and trust. Some clear, wordless agreement founded that no matter what, she belonged to him -- he would protect, and he belonged to her -- she would provide fun and love.


Trust

God’s love, like any love, involves real trust. And in relationships, trust requires mutuality. Sometimes it may require a part of myself that I don’t necessarily want others to see. This same vulnerability, intimacy, and mutuality should characterize our love for and trust in God.

– Br. Robert L’Esperance

December 14, 2016

AdventWord::Surprise



Surprise

The egg took me by surprise. I was puttering in my garden, picking strawberries when I noticed it. The blue color striking. The brown dots in line with what I think a Robin might produce. But I'd never expect to see it. I've never seen one in my yard. The Bluejay grasps my attention. This was a moment of God's providence for me. God knows me and that I'm very often surprised by what becomes joy. Things that come from small things, like color, or a word, things noticed, kindnesses, love, eggs.

This thing, sticking with the One who turns the world upside down is a lovely thing. Sticking with Him, takes me to places where I'm startled and confused and surprised. I want to find Jesus as I come along with him, as he has come to me with love. I want to look and listen and find him in the unexpected way.

Here, I live in delight.


God comes to us as a vulnerable human baby to an unlikely couple in an obscure place. And in doing so turns the world upside down. Jesus says: Stick with me even if I am different, confusing, or surprising. I have come, and I am coming to you today with love! Look for me. Listen. I am coming in an unexpected way.
-Br. Luke Ditewig

December 13, 2016

AdventWord::Mend

Mend

Restoration is our calling. In the tension of potential defeat, we move to do what can only be done because of love. Sometimes that restoration requires leaving pieces of what's broken behind for something new. With grace.


Christianity is really all about mending. That is what redemption means: mending something which is broken. Every Christian is called to share with God in mending that which is broken: mending our relationship with God, with one another, and mending the torn canvas of God’s broken world.


-Br. Geoffrey Tristram


December 12, 2016

AdventWord::Rely



Rely

Every once in a while, I notice the sticks in my yard where the anemone was. Seasons change. Sticks occur. And I wonder about what I need to do to help them come back. Really? Water. Wait. Rely.



When we are inconvenienced, we have to rely on God. When we have to rely on God, the impossible becomes possible, and we find that we are able to do and achieve that which we never could do or achieve on our own power. We have to have God’s help.
– Br. John Braught


December 11, 2016

AdventWord::Glow


That glow, the one of littles expectant with story, the fiance at the asking, the first notice joy, is from an inner fullness in what we have. A deep kind of gratitude. A deep beauty. Contagious. It spreads the light to us, the witnesses. Knowing who we are and to whom we belong, we can glow in the exchange of that knowing love. May you glow.


Glow
As children of the light we have the opportunity to either squander God’s riches or to capitalize on them by being ministers of God’s light, life, and love for all people.

-Br. Jim Woodrum


December 10, 2016

AdventWord::Befriend


Befriended.

I've learned something with these earnest friends. Love requires presence and the ability to see the (inherent) value of the other. 

Befriending and living in friendship, or relationship, can be so much more simple if we keep it thus. We carry our needs and wants, expectations and demands into relationship. I'm working to enter each encounter with gratitude for who the other is in my life before anything else. It requires being awake to the moment. (A worthwhile task.) And in that, I have a change to encounter the beauty of God's creation within you.

He comes for petting and sometimes, my hands/our hands and minds are too full. Other times, the boy lays on the floor. Available. An undemanding and forgiving friendship ensues.

December 09, 2016

AdventWord::Promise






Promise
God gives us the responsibility of doing something ourselves about those faithless fears and worldly anxieties that are holding us back. We don’t have to do this alone. We have God’s promise of holding our hand and of helping us.

-Br. David Allen

Parenting? Dog husbandry? Air travel? All hold the promise of the unknown. The adventure. The anxiety. But just knowing the Ruler of the Universe, the High King has my back makes me giddy right there with the anxiousness. So, let's also grab the hand of the one next to us and remind with gentle love: we don't have to do this alone.

Photo credit to my Dear Husband who is off on an adventure himself.

December 08, 2016

AdventWord::Hope





Hope

Converted anxiety is hope. Anxiety is dreadful expectation; hope is expectant desire. They are like cousins to each other. Pray for the conversion of your fretful anxiety into promising hope. If you are anxious just now, you are almost already hopeful.
– Br. Curtis Almquist

What could be added? We plant, anxious to see fruit (or in this case, flowers), fret for the bud to bloom and then, well, we breathe. It really was always going to be fine. I choose converted anxiety.



December 07, 2016

AdventWord::Act



Act
What will we do with the blessings God gives us in answer to prayer? When we pray and God heals us, what will we do with our restored health? When we cry out of our need and God meets that need, what will we do with the resources that have come to us in answer to our prayer?

-Br. David Vryhof

It would seem the call is to response.

December 06, 2016

AdventWord::Be



Be
People in trauma need our presence and our prayer rather than our preaching. We will bear a much more comforting witness to someone facing deep loss by simply being with them, and in so doing, representing God Emmanuel – God with us – by our being with them. Not by our words, but by our presence.


-Br. Curtis Almquist
My experience is this: we're not exactly alike, really. And, I notice the white of the white and the purple of the purple, the qualities, when we're sitting close, being, not homogenized in look or feel. When we can simply be what and who we are in creation. There is the breath of grace of this. 


December 05, 2016

AdventWord::Commit

Commit
In Advent, reflect on a commitment you are considering accepting, or a commitment that needs renewing. In building the house of your life on the rock of God’s committed love, you may discover that you are called to commit; that you cannot claim the Life that God desires for you without it. -Br. Keith Nelson


We wrote words on the back sides of rocks at Mother Daughter camp about six years ago. We promised to nurture or honor the other's dream. She wanted to be more serious about singing. She has a lesson again tomorrow.

The commitment of parental love is deep/steep. God's faithfulness and constance allows me to follow in His wake, doing my best to remember that her dreams were planted by Him. My joy is in my commitment to help her see them to fruit.

Oh, and I still have my rock.

December 04, 2016

AdventWord::Touch

Touch

As followers of Jesus, our responsibility is to listen for those calling out to us, and to respond in love by reaching out and touching the untouchable, reminding them by word and deed of their sacred identity.

– Br. Nicholas Bartoli


I'm touched, constantly by depth of this woman's faith and her love.

She's the first person who held me, who taught me about touch and comfort -- my mom. She is and has been gracious that way, with her touch, her hands, full of gentleness and care. She sent some amazing energy through her fingers when she'd rub my feet or back as a little. To calm or quiet my busy self. And to this day, if she's at my house and the situation affords the moment, I'll put my head in her lap and she'll rub my head as she has for oh, these many years. Instant peace.

She taught me that a touch can say far more than a word. That a gentle brush of her hand across my arm which sometimes came with words of assurance, brings comfort.

She loves me. She wants me to be the hands and feet of the Savior. She provided the example.

December 03, 2016

AdventWord::Play


He heard (as did she) the words, make a joyful noise to the Lord.
And he played his trumpet, and sang.
And she sang from the very beginning.

Play. Sing. Send all glory right on back to the One who provided the gift in the first place.

December 02, 2016

AdventWord::Light




AdventWord::Light


We will be a more luminous epiphany of the love of Christ not only when we love, but when we recognize Christ present in the loving hearts of others, whatever their beliefs or understanding of God.
– Br. Mark Brown

Light your lantern but do not look for love. Trespass into the dark. Bring light where darkness reigns. You're the answer you're looking for.
John Patrick Shanley
So, from the words of my childhood worship, the language of my heart: Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matt 5:16 KJV

I love the thought then forming in my head from five or six as our Episcopalian pastor spoke those words. My light, coming from the very Light of the World, can shine. With joy and grace and peace, the light from within me isn't my creation, but a further expression of Christ in me. His response, his responsibility. My job is to allow the glow and not to extinguish it. Oh how simple it could be.

December 01, 2016

AdventWord::Proclaim


AdventWord::Proclaim

Proclaim
The gospel Jesus proclaims is that in God’s economy everyone will be fed, but we have to be willing to share from the riches that God has given us. In order to do that we have to stop and recognize the goodness that God has given us in our lives.
– Br. Jim Woodrum

The tools of proclamation.
Color and word celebrating the Creator's creation.
The truth of his majestic gift.
Love.
Sharing goodness.
Sharing life.

November 30, 2016

AdventWord::Listen



Listen.
In the deep, still quiet of the morning. I am listening.

And in the midst, a text of encouragement from my friend: "confess and let the pure water of grace flow over your mistakes."

Oh yes, I am listening.

November 29, 2016

AdventWord::Renew


Renew::Christ is all in all. He is here symbolically in a stone altar He is here sacramentally in bread and wine. He is here spiritually in hearts lifted up and returned to us renewed, transformed, consecrated.  Br. Mark Brown

I marvel at my friend Nancy Santullo. She's there on the left in the Rain Forest, where she's giving a significant portion of her live to serve, to renew, to love the people there and to help bring fresh water to their lives. There's so much more. Her short biography states brilliantly: "The essence of her activism is not only a functioning clean water source, or creating better hygiene and health — it is the building of a community that values, maintains and benefits together from its existence in their village."

Nancy has made her life to be about renewal. Through her presence, her love and her diligence. Hands and feet, you know?

You can read more about Nancy Santullo and Rain Forest Flow here. And, it is giving Tuesday!


November 28, 2016

AdventWord::Love

On the big board across from my desk.

It's the best reminder of the Savior's words in John:

John 13:34-35 The Message
34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

November 27, 2016

AdventWord::Shine



My dear friend Marjorie made me aware of #AdventWord.

A sort of Global Advent Calendar. It's up my origins alley. I grew up in the Episcopal church and have much to be grateful for those years. I learned to think there. I grew a tremendous vocabulary of belief and exploration.

So, I'm gladly in.

Today's word is SHINE.
And in true Reformed manner, I'm assured of this:

God's profound love shines through His creation.

Thanks Marjorie.

November 07, 2016

This knife.



My son gave me Alton Brown's new book: Everyday Cook. It's great. Chock full of good ideas. But I got stuck, joyously, on the page with all the things he uses to get where he wants to go. Like Binder clips. It's about the second or third page. I've been peeking and then surfing to see if I have what I need. Mostly I do, but I upgraded a knife so far. (Not the one pictured.) And I have perused the interwebs for some of his recommendations.

Alton certainly said it loudest, or to the biggest audience, but I have almost always held that point of view -- everything in my kitchen should have more than one function. No gadgety gadgets for me. Years and years ago when I went to cooking school, friends and family loaded me up with this and that. All intended to make the kitchen easy and fun and what I found was that I didn't really end up using all of it. I'm fall-over grateful for every consideration, I just didn't use some of the pieces. I shared a bunch and kept a few. An example of one I don't really need? Turkey forks.  They look smart, but really, you use them once or perhaps twice a year when you make a turkey. And my dear, dear friend Jemma, who loves the Joy of Cooking, method for turkey (me too!) reminds me, you just need a couple of paper towels. I still have my Turkey forks. I use 'em, but you get that they live rent free in the kitchen all year.

My son, who loves all things Alton, gave me the Original Bear Claw pulled pork shredders for those days when I have no forks available. Ha. I got the joke right after I opened the package. He was quite proud of himself. (They turned out to have more than one application and one is actually a garden application.)

What I love is a well-considered tool. Like the knife you see in the picture. It was the first I bought, about a day after the introductory meeting at UCLA for my professional cooking course. I was so excited. And decided to be slow and careful to only buy knives I need. Really good knives and really serviceable knives. So this one had my name on it. An 8" Zwilling JA Henckels Chef's knife. About a week later I bought a 4" paring knife, then a boning knife. These were my companions and made it into my knife bag which went with me just about everywhere I went. (In my car. Is that legal?) I was thrilled, then, and am now, to have the tools of the trade in my hand.
I'm reading a book about a girl completely dedicated to cooking great food -- Kitchen of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. And I'm reminded of how cooking is always new, with portent of magic and good problem-solving, just around the corner.

My knife, that should never have doubled as an opener for a lid of some kind, reminded me of that, too.

Just like writing, I'm called back onto my path.

October 28, 2016

Lucy and the iPhone 7







































The doggy didn't get an iPhone. But my husband did. So Lucy had her portrait done. We're quite pleased. Well, my husband is quite pleased. His new iPhone 7 gives him the option to play with depth of field. When he takes pictures of Lucy.

Lucy is a funny dog. Full of sweetness, (I'm not sure I've known a dog to hug like she does), and spice -- she runs the German Shepherd off her territory, which may be the whole house, at whim.

Free. Because she was a friend's dog's puppy. Costly. Because she ate almost every pen, pencil and sock she could find (we tried to get them all but she managed to find them) and saw the vet more than once for said practice. She pushed the puppy limits for sure.

My Dear wasn't completely sold on Lucy as the addition to the family when she joined us. My daughter and I were certain. My son fell in love. But Dad held out. Until her sweetness and her desire to be near him melted the borders and he too fell for her sweet and sassy charm.

On the awful day we came home from losing her best friend and mentor (read about Max here) to an irreversible illness, it was Lucy who softened the landing. She attended to each of us the way doggies do, with love and licks and gentleness. We all believe we owe her a debt of gratitude for offering her foot or just laying on us during that first week of numbness and sadness.

A month later we noticed the toll his absence was taking on her. She was so quiet. Sad looking. Wandering. It was then we decided to bring Ace home. He's her new best pal. Kinda. They're still figuring it out, but that's a different story.

This is about Lu and a phone camera.

So, what do you think?

October 25, 2016

Writing my way.

Today I asked Amanda how I'd know she's a writer. I wanted to hear about when and how she writes. She went right to journalling and blogging and how she is rather on and off with it. Cycles. And I thought two things: right! and then, wait a minute. I write just about everyday. Journaling, Artist's Way and I drifted (everyone is now talking in the rooms - back and forth - about her writing and the whatever else) and I think, I've never excelled at anything I did cyclically. They were just things I did.

At some point Chris said, "Vicki should have a blog."

I thought, (really), "Mercy. I have a blog." I said. Oh, yes. I do.

Then I went back into the drift and wondered, what am I doing? What's so important? Where is my writing. My art. My stuff. And it occurred to me, things don't become cyclical (other than seasons and things like that) we lean into them in cycles. I learned to be a cook by cooking everyday. Writer by writing everyday. Violinist by playing everyday (until I stopped).

What are the everyday things?
What are the joys and actions we love and have to do?

Rest.
Consider.

A week before my birthday I picked up a wonderful small book by Claire Diaz-Ortiz: DESIGN YOUR DAY. On my birthday I started reading it. I had to stop because she asks that the reader (that would be me) stop and take the required time to find ONE WORD to hold in focus for the year ahead. For me that is not the literal 2016, which, as you likely know, is 5/6 over. But for the seasonal year ahead. The one that follows the season of my birthday. So I'm doing that.
And somehow,
the considering
of what
makes up the
ABCs of me
is all
a part of my
pondering my way
into focus.

I have a blog.
I have a voice.
I love to write.

Stillness.
Resting.
Considering.

October 06, 2016

Surprised but not entirely surprised.

I notice things. It's my nature to try to see, and writing, drawing and playing are all disciplines requiring attention, listening, noticing. Lately I've been noticing what I think I've known for a long time about my husband. (I've known for a long, long time. We'll celebrate a quarter century of marriage this month, and I've known him even longer. Years longer.) Every now and again, but a lot lately, I'm surprised as I notice his well considered and thoughtful ways.

Yesterday I found our voting guide, with a pen on the tub ledge. He's reading the whole thing -- the pros and cons provided for every proposition. I know he thinks before he moves. I know he reads. I know it all matters to him. But seeing the dedication to the process reminded me of his deep desire to give to the democracy as it is.

The other night when we were walking up the stairs and out of the theatre, I walked ahead a little, climbing the shallow steps out of the Ahmanson and I lost him. He wasn't right behind me. Then I heard these words coming over my shoulder, "Well, take my arm, I have no where to be. We'll climb together." He was helping the woman with the cane who was struggling. Of course he was. And this night, he touched my heart with that love he so easily offered to a gal having a tough time going up.

I find him often with one of the dogs. Either on the floor or on the bed. Belly rubbing, talking softly, loving, just sharing time and giving and taking a moment of community. Both pups know he's the pop and love that closeness to him.

I think I forget that I really am in the presence of one of the most deeply caring people on earth. I love his heart. I benefit all the time from his compassionate and giving ways. I need to think about this. And, about how I can join him rather than getting ahead of him. I have things to learn here. I'm enthused to get going.

But not entirely surprised.

Surprised but not entirely surprised.

I notice things. It's my nature to try to see and writing, drawing and playing are all disciplines requiring attention, listening, noticing. Lately I've been noticing, rather frequently, what I think I've known for a long time about my husband -- who I've known my husband for a long, long time. We'll celebrate a quarter century of marriage this month, and I've known him even longer. Years longer. And every now and again, but a lot lately, I'm surprised as I notice his well considered and thoughtful ways.

Yesterday I found our voting guide, with a pen on the tub ledge. He's reading the whole thing -- the pros and cons provided for every proposition. I know he thinks before he moves. I know he reads. I know it all matters to him. But seeing the dedication to the process reminded me of his deep desire to give to the democracy as it is.

The other night when we were walking up the stairs and out of the theatre, I walked ahead a little, climbing the shallow steps out of the Ahmanson and I lost him. He wasn't right behind me. Then I heard these words coming over my shoulder, "Well, take my arm, I have no where to be. We'll climb together." He was helping the woman with the cane who was struggling. Of course he was. And this night, he touched my heart with that love he so easily offered to a gal having a tough time going up.

I find him often with one of the dogs. Either on the floor or on the bed. Belly rubbing, talking softly, loving, just sharing time and giving and taking a moment of community. Both pups know he's the pop and love that closeness to him.

I think I forget that I really am in the presence of one of the most deeply caring people on earth. I love his heart. I benefit all the time from his compassionate and giving ways. I need to think about this. And, about how I can join him rather than getting ahead of him. I have things to learn here. I'm enthused to get going.

But not entirely surprised.

October 05, 2016

I choose writing.

I pondered.
I'm writing.

It's just too sweet to consider and lay down a strings of words as they become one thread to another. An idea, a thought, a story.

Today I chose someone else's writing. Here's a wonderful string of words, ideas, actions that will end up a tasty plate for you.

So here is David Leobovitz's fabby way to roast tomatoes.

This is my before picture:


If I showed you the after picture, you'd want to eat them and you can't because they went so fast it would make your head spin. They were sprinkled with a little mineral salt, thyme and chopped garlic before they hit the oven.

My friend Claudia found Kumato tomatoes at the 99 cent store. (Those are the dark green/brown faces amid the reds.) They are super delicious. So there's your start. Go make them! Report back.

September 28, 2016

I like to write a little blogpost now and then.

My lovely friend and colleague Linda came into my office today and said. You write. And your pictures and art and oh!

It meant a lot. More to me than it will to you but, it was the voice.
The voice that says, "Hey you love to write, someone was reading, write."

So, I'm going to think about that.

I'm going to think about how not writing works.
Then, I'll think about how writing works.

I'll choose the one that works best.

I bet it will writing.

But I'm just guessing.

I'll let you know which.

June 28, 2016

Old dog. New tricks.

There's a fair amount to be said about this new-to-my-life doggy. First, the details: his name is Ace, he's about two years old, and we found him, (you know, the mutual finding) at a GSD Rescue not so far from us.  He's not the old dog, by the way. I'm the old dog. He's the one teaching me about relationships.

To back up, we lost our sweet Max, an 11 year old German-born GSD. He left us in January because a tumor, much more than he could handle, made him acutely anemic, and as quickly as we learned about it, we had to let him go. It took a day of saying goodbye, right after Christmas.

It was a hard goodbye to one of the best friends we've all ever had. Then, because God is good and He knows us, we went home to the love of Lucy, our mix-of-some-kind puppy we brought home two summers ago. Lucy added joy to Max's life and was trained well by him. Lucy made the landing softer for all of us. All 20 pounds of her buoyed our sad spirits for a good while.

Knowing there would be a next German Shepherd Dog, just not yet, I contacted a breeder or two of German-style GSDs and thought maybe by summer we'd be ready to think about a new dog. Then one end-of-January morning, my husband walked out of the bedroom dressed to go and suggested we all get ready to visit Westside GSD rescue -- just to look. Pause. If you're a dog lover, you know what just looking means.

So the meeting was funny. He didn't give me the time of day, but leaned on my daughter. My husband thought he was beautiful and well-mannered. We had to go back twice to let him meet Lucy. (They still haven't figured their friendship out and that's a long story). Needless to say, he was ours the day we met him. He went directly to about seven weeks of in-board training with Robert and his team at Assertive K-9 Training. Diana (Foster) Vorhees and her son Robert own this facility. Diana is a highly credentialed trainer who has an uncanny understanding of dog (and human) behavior. Robert is the most direct, almost magical, trainer we've ever met. In our opinion, Assertive K-9 Training is the best place to have a dog trained by professionals who know how to train the mighty GSD. More on them later.

Now, to the point -- the reason for this post.

The truth is I just now figured it all out. This boy, who was in a high kill shelter, then a rescue, then training, is now home. He's been home for about eight weeks. In this training method the first four weeks home are tough for people like me who want to roll on the floor with their dog. You don't get to do it. You maintain a loving, respectful and distant relationship as they settle in to learn the family routine. There's not a lot of talking and greeting. There is feeding and moving from in to out and back, and lots of walking and training. He heeled and sat and downed and stayed a lot these four weeks. He also played ball and frisbee and hide and seek. And as time goes on and he adjusted, the commands have become a language between us. We ask for a behavior and this working dog is happy to offer. He's finding his way. And so are we. While he's been studying my ways (and the ways of the family) I've been learning about him. When I think we're practicing obedience training, we're actually relating. He looks for my knee to stay with me and then my eyes and I tell him how great he is to check. We walk into the yard and I ask him for the big finish, a half hour down-stay. He was really good at this before he left training but when he got home here, it became a bit of a struggle. He pushed. I pushed. And sometimes had to reset him in his spot fifteen or so times before he stayed. (Insert all the things we think and say when things don't go the way they're supposed to, when we're pushed to our limits. I sweat like crazy and lose most of my dignity.) Then I remember, he wants to know if I'm serious. I want him to know I'm the leader. And it just seems to work out.

Every Saturday we get up early and hop into my old Land Cruiser and drive way out to the training facility. We heal and sit with a bunch of other GSDs and a Catahoula Hound-Mastiff mix named Lucy who we love.  Most of them younger than Ace. Some more stubborn. All trying to learn how to do what their people are asking. This past week we turned a corner. He was the star of the day. Sitting and downing and staying like a champion. They pulled out agility equipment at the end and we really got to play. Up and over barrels, through tunnels, over hurdles and then home. It was then that it all came together. Its a relationship.
And for this guy, who spent the first two years of his life who-knows-where, it's one requiring agreements. Shelter, food and water for sure. But presence and love and play all the more. As I was helping him into the truck as we were going home, he licked my face like I was made of steak. Kisses. A profusion of kisses. I think he was thanking me for the day at what must feel like Doggy Disneyland. And for being his family. And for training and loving him.
We are beginning a relationship. He's no longer a foreign dog in my home. He's my dog. I'm quite ready to learn all he has to teach me.


Old dog. New tricks.

There's a fair amount to be said about this new-to-my-life doggy. First, the details: his name is Ace, he's about two years old, and we found him, (you know, the mutual finding) at a GSD Rescue not so far from us.  He's not the old dog, by the way. I'm the old dog. He's the one teaching me about relationships.

To back up, we lost our sweet Max, an 11 year old German-born GSD. He left us in January because a tumor, much more than he could handle, made him acutely anemic, and as quickly as we learned about it, we had to let him go. It took a day of saying goodbye, right after Christmas.

It was a hard goodbye to one of the best friends we've all ever had. Then, because God is good and He knows us, we went home to the love of Lucy, our mix-of-some-kind puppy we brought home two summers ago. Lucy added joy to Max's life and was trained well by him. Lucy made the landing softer for all of us. All 20 pounds of her buoyed our sad spirits for a good while.

Knowing there would be a next German Shepherd Dog, just not yet, I contacted a breeder or two of German-style GSDs and thought maybe by summer we'd be ready to think about a new dog. Then one end-of-January morning, my husband walked out of the bedroom dressed to go and suggested we all get ready to visit Westside GSD rescue -- just to look. Pause. If you're a dog lover, you know what just looking means.

So the meeting was funny. He didn't give me the time of day, but leaned on my daughter. My husband thought he was beautiful and well-mannered. We had to go back twice to let him meet Lucy. (They still haven't figured their friendship out and that's a long story). Needless to say, he was ours the day we met him. He went directly to about seven weeks of in-board training with Robert and his team at Assertive K-9 Training. Diana (Foster) Vorhees and her son Robert own this facility. Diana is a highly credentialed trainer who has an uncanny understanding of dog (and human) behavior. Robert is the most direct, almost magical, trainer we've ever met. In our opinion, Assertive K-9 Training is the best place to have a dog trained by professionals who know how to train the mighty GSD. More on them later.

Now, to the point -- the reason for this post.

The truth is I just now figured it all out. This boy, who was in a high kill shelter, then a rescue, then training, is now home. He's been home for about eight weeks. In this training method the first four weeks home are tough for people like me who want to roll on the floor with their dog. You don't get to do it. You maintain a loving, respectful and distant relationship as they settle in to learn the family routine. There's not a lot of talking and greeting. There is feeding and moving from in to out and back, and lots of walking and training. He heeled and sat and downed and stayed a lot these four weeks. He also played ball and frisbee and hide and seek. And as time goes on and he adjusted, the commands have become a language between us. We ask for a behavior and this working dog is happy to offer. He's finding his way. And so are we. While he's been studying my ways (and the ways of the family) I've been learning about him. When I think we're practicing obedience training, we're actually relating. He looks for my knee to stay with me and then my eyes and I tell him how great he is to check. We walk into the yard and I ask him for the big finish, a half hour down-stay. He was really good at this before he left training but when he got home here, it became a bit of a struggle. He pushed. I pushed. And sometimes had to reset him in his spot fifteen or so times before he stayed. (Insert all the things we think and say when things don't go the way they're supposed to, when we're pushed to our limits. I sweat like crazy and lose most of my dignity.) Then I remember, he wants to know if I'm serious. I want him to know I'm the leader. And it just seems to work out.

Every Saturday we get up early and hop into my old Land Cruiser and drive way out to the training facility. We heal and sit with a bunch of other GSDs and a Catahoula Hound-Mastiff mix named Lucy who we love.  Most of them younger than Ace. Some more stubborn. All trying to learn how to do what their people are asking. This past week we turned a corner. He was the star of the day. Sitting and downing and staying like a champion. They pulled out agility equipment at the end and we really got to play. Up and over barrels, through tunnels, over hurdles and then home. It was then that it all came together. Its a relationship.
And for this guy, who spent the first two years of his life who-knows-where, it's one requiring agreements. Shelter, food and water for sure. But presence and love and play all the more. As I was helping him into the truck as we were going home, he licked my face like I was made of steak. Kisses. A profusion of kisses. I think he was thanking me for the day at what must feel like Doggy Disneyland. And for being his family. And for training and loving him.
We are beginning a relationship. He's no longer a foreign dog in my home. He's my dog. I'm quite ready to learn all he has to teach me.


February 24, 2016

No Problem!

This isn't a rant.
Just a comment.

When did "No Problem!" become the response to thank you?

You held the door for me.
I said, "Thank you!"
You responded, "No Problem!"
I wondered, "Problem?"

I know it's a well intended kindness, I get it. But why would we bring the idea of PROBLEM into the relationship? I didn't ever consider that opening a door for someone would be a problem. Really, I didn't. I'm happy to hold the door for you if you need me to or not.

Done.

And, by the way, you're quite welcome to the small kindnesses I'd like to share with you.

Now really done.

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