Saturday, December 29, 2007

from our house to yours

We made a gingerbread house on Christmas.  Here it is, along with my prayers for warmth and delight for you.
Heck, for sweetness, too.

We've been busy.  Christmastime is hectic for a preacher, and more so for a crazy one whose family is trying to build a house out of stuff like wood and nails, not just candy. Or who's trying to savor any time she can get with her dear husband, who's fixing to deploy to this insane and immoral war in Iraq (again) at the end of January.  Or so.  The Army seldom really gets their act together about sharing useful details like this.  

In the meantime, we're ducking out of the blogosphere for a big of a vacation together, and some time with my family.

After I preach one more sermon.

Friday, December 21, 2007

it's beginning to look a lot like xmas

I finally decided it was the right time to climb back into the narrow space behind our shed (I use the word "climb" because it requires maneuvering around oddly-placed shovels, a large pick, a wheelbarrow, 2 ladders and the scrap wood that used to be our aquarium stand, plus an overgrown passionfruit vine and the shed itself...) to harvest some of the poinsettia flowers back there.

[I know, I know.  It wasn't really the "flowers" that I was after, but "bracts" just doesn't sound as lovely.  And darn it, those radiant red things deserve a word as nice as "flower."]

Now, our coffee table is decorated very well.  And the lily Jay left with us when he went back to Iowa combines nicely with the smell of pine from our tree and garlands to make a sweeter Christmasy smell than I've known before.

As a bonus, I discovered that I could replace the gaudy plastic wrap around the lilies with a chunk from the sleeve of a sweater I felted.  :)  No sewing necessary--just scissors.

Punctuating this Christmasy goodness are bouts of play of the coolest, most fabulous video game ever: Rockband.  It's a good thing that we don't own the game.  I wouldn't get anything (other than channelling rock stars, with the use fake guitars, microphone and drums) done.  But how cool is it to have a friend with the game--in our neighborhood!?  Rock on.

Now, if I could just get my crafting projects for Christmas done...

Friday, December 14, 2007

a bit of gratitude

If Orangeblossoms can do, it so can I.

Here's something I'm grateful for:
Our clownfish, Jackie and Nighty (named by the child of a friend), used to live in a coral in our aquarium.  In coral reefs, they tend to live in anemones--just like in Finding Nemo.  But, in the midst of some technical malfunctions earlier this year, the coral that had been playing the part of an anemone-like home, died.  They became homeless.  And, in our new aquarium, they seemed so lost--floating around the edges, as if lost.  Or, worse, swimming so near to the top that my corner-of-eye vision often thought they were, um, floating there.

Last week, we added a *real* anemone to our aquarium.  And, after a few days of contemplating the possibility, Jackie and Nighty took up residence inside.

It feels so good to see them now, hanging out--even sleeping--in the comfort of their green anemone.  Like everything is going to be alright.

complaints about the army #291 & #292

With news that my dear husband is really almost certainly deploying in January, I share two of my current complaints, neither of which really addresses my broader and deeper frustration with war:

# 291-Though the nice ads on television suggest that joining the Reserves while going to college is a fantastic idea, that has not been the reality I've seen.  In five years in the Reserves--six by his anticipated return from Iraq and exiting of the Reserves--my dear husband will have completed four semesters of college.  He has enrolled every semester possible since he joined.  That's two out of six years.  Which is remarkably less than his hopes or expectations, and less than the touching ad suggested.

#292-Though our government already rightly noticed that it seems unfair that Reservists who serve long deployments should not have access to the same GI Bill benefits as active duty military folks, and opened up this benefit to Reservists, they do so ONLY while Reservists are IN the Reserves.  Not after they've left.  And, as mentioned in complaint #291, it's difficult to actually complete semesters of schooling WHILE in the Reserves, making this benefit, well, not very beneficial.  

Not that I'm bitter.

Don't even get my started on how KBR (who we're playing lots of money to provide services that, in previous wars, were provided by military personnel) burns the plastic plates they serve our soldiers on, and lets the smoke from their burning plastic trash drift through the barracks they set up for soldiers to live in.  Wrong in SO many ways I lose track.

And, of course, all this does nothing to express the complex immoralities of a war of occupation, or the unthinking cost of human lives--mostly Iraqi--in this war. Among other things.

-

Plus, I just really don't want to have to live without my husband for another long piece of time.

Monday, December 10, 2007

a little humor

Thanks to Erika, I've fallen for ASBO Jesus, whose post for today is way worth checking out.

Merry Advent.
 

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

in the cracks

This summer, when we were working on making our backyard more delightful, Matt hacked away at this giant plant that was growing in the little space between the back of our shed and the fence.  We wanted to be able to keep some tools and things there.

I noticed that it was a poinsettia.  I was a little bummed that it had been hacked away (though glad for more storage space.)

Last weekend, while looking for a shovel, I went behind the shed again.  The poinsettia has returned, this time in Christmas bloomin' splendor.

It's not easy to get around to see it, but there it is, flourishing away in a narrow canyon of metal and concrete.  It must be 10 feet tall.
Lots of little blooms are growing, too.
I take this as a good sign.

It's been a week of grand discouragement, frustration and outrage.  My dear husband was told he's on a list to re-deploy to Iraq, as an Army Reservist.  In January.  Next month.

His local commander is trying to get him off that list.  But only so he can go with that commander in September.

Now, I know that it's not unreasonable to imagine that anyone anywhere near the reach of the military would be called up to deploy.  It just really, really sucks when it's your beloved life partner.  And a war that you hate so much.

I had harbored hope that he could make it through 'til he's able to get out of the active Reserves next November, without another deployment.

So, we're waiting anxiously, to hear if he's really on the January list.  And then imagining how we're going to live in this little space between now and his departure.

I hope it looks even a smidgen as lovely as that poinsettia.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

eating seasonally

My quest to eat more locally, and to eat what it in season, seems hardly fair when you live in San Diego: I made fresh pasta sauce out of tomatoes and basil I picked from my garden this weekend.  Yum.
My tomatoes are not nearly as bountiful or gigantic as during the summer months, but one should never complain about fresh tomatoes from the garden in December.  I give thanks also for kind people at the church, who shared both persimmons and tomatoes with me last week!
Winter sun, compressed into juicy orbs.  

Sunday, December 02, 2007

needles and pins

When I was a kid, and Mom was teaching me how to sew, she always warned me to be careful that I didn't catch my finger in the needle.  It seemed impossible to me that a person could sew her finger.

After this weekend, I'm a believer.  I hurts a whole lot to sew your finger with a machine.  I don't recommend it.

So, as of this past Friday night, I've renewed my commitment to pinning what I sew.  I will no longer grow lazy and just try to use my fingers to keep things together.  Really.

Crafting can be dangerous.  Darn dangerous.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

magical speaking

I think my dear husband has magical speaking abilities.

See, last weekend, when we were up working on our house-building project, he started us talking about this pile of leftoever concrete blocks we've been trying to get rid of.  Months ago, we posted on Craigslist, and a nice man agreed to take them.  He started the process of picking them up, but stopped maybe 2/3 of the way through, and about 5 weeks ago.  Also, he hadn't made it by to pay us yet.  So, we were left with this annoying obstacle we've dodged for, like, ever.  

The next day, the guy calls. He wants to come by to pay us, and he promises to take care of getting the rest of the blocks.  The cash is in our hands, and the promises to retrieve blocks seem hopeful.

Then, this Thursday night (while playing Rock Band, the most fabulous video game, EVER), my dear husband complains to our Rock Band-owning friend that the city has never followed through with our request for repair or replacement of our trash container.  As you can see, it has NO LID.  It used to have a lid, but it cracked one day, between the time we set it out and the time when we retrieved it after it was dumped.  Later, the crack became a split, and before long, the lid was all the way loose.  It persevered for a couple of weeks, but then one Friday, when the trash truck dumped our dumpster, it dumped the lid right into the trash truck.  Since then, our driveway has been smellier than usual.  It rained this weekend, too.
But, thanks to his magical speaking abilities, and my dear husband's complaints to friends, the nice folks from the city called Friday morning (the next day, you'll note), saying they'd be by Monday to repair or replace our container.

Now, if we could just get him to complain about bigger things.  Like this war in Iraq.  Or loss of civil liberties...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

my monsters



My current obsession with making things from old, felted sweaters continues.  Tonight, these monsters told me they wanted to come out of some sleeves.  (Is making a monster out of a sleeve like having a trick up one?)

Oh, the fun.  It's like a creative wonderland in my living room.  These guys are just the tip of the iceberg (if an iceberg would last long in front of our cozy pellet stove).

Anyhow, the three of us send happy greetings from City Heights.

[Though it's a lovely time of year from gardening in San Diego, our garden is sort-of on hold.  The nice folks at City Farmers Nursery told us that the reason we're feeling frustrated with the growth of vegetables out there is that there are, like, no nutrients in our soil.  We have our list of happy organic amendments to add, but 'til we get our act together to do that, we're just grateful for the one chard plant growing, alongside two scraggly broccoli plants, and some garlic that's sprouted.  I hope the garden isn't jealous that my attention is turned toward felt.]

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

the dangers of corn


While I've been concerned for a while about the state of our food and farm economy, and particularly troubled about the way our system encourages over-raising of corn, which provides an excess of useable grain, requires intensive chemical inputs, feeds the coffers of agri-business as the expense of small growers, destroys the fertility of our land, and does all of this by using government subsidies, today the dangers of corn seem to have come to new immediacy.

Apparently, an Iowa family has been injured and lost their home in an avalanche of corn, from a nearby storage bin.  Mounds of corn are dangerous is so many ways.

For more on mounds of corn, check out the new documentary, King Corn (see below). 


Saturday, November 17, 2007

messes and cleaning up

I decided it was finally time to try roasting the big, orange pumpkin that has been so much fun in my yard and on my step.  But when I cut into it, I found lots of sprouts!
I'm not sure whether sprouted pumpkin seeds mean problems for pumpkins or not, but this pumpkin didn't smell anything like I think pumpkins should smell.  (Not awful, or rotten--just sort of earthy and sprout-like...)  Ultimately, I decided that one of the butternut squashes from my garden would rather be roasted and made into soup.
Crazy. 

And, while I wasn't scooping pumpkin bits into and out of the sink, I thought it'd be fun to try making soap.  Here's one of my first two batches: a honey-oat soap.

Unfortunately for me, I have to wait three more weeks to try it out and see if it's yummy to use.  Ah, the challenges of life.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

buying less, doing more good

I'm feeling called to use this year's Advent season as a time to challenge consumerism.

Not just to be a grinch, but because we need to remember that things are and are not good for: when they add beauty to the world, sustain life and build what I'd call God's kin-dom, things can be very good. More often, though, they distract me.

So, this year, I'm gonna try to give better gifts. I love to make things, so that's going up at the top of my list: things I can enjoy creating that others will find useful. (Using recycled materials would be even better, though I also have no problem with simply using up the containers of materials I've been accumulating and storing away...) I'm also keen on thinking of gifts that might help build relationships with other people--finding ways to give the gift of time together, and good things to do in that time. And, of course, giving "alternative Christmas" gifts--donations to worthy causes--in honor of people.

I think it's gonna be fun.

Wanna join me?

I was delighted by the Advent Conspiracy website (thanks for the tip-off, Er). I can jump on that bandwagon. Or, better, find my own solar- or human-energy powered vehicle to ride along that route. ;)

Buy less. Worship more. Give more. All that.

snail mail gone awry

This postcard arrived in our mailbox yesterday. I'm baffled.

Westport, Connecticut is a long ways from San Diego, California.

CA and CT are only one letter apart, but otherwise... Our street address has 4 digits. One is a zero, but that's hardly a similarity. We live on a numbered Street. Not a named Road.

How this reached our box is beyond me. We decided it deserved an envelope and a new shot at making its destination. I mean, someone's waiting for their postcard from Botswana!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

everything is connected

Somehow, everything is connected. My thoughts haven't all connected yet, today. See if you can follow a trail through this.

-

First, I've been pondering a video I watched from leaders at Willow Creek Church. I often resent Willow Creek things, as I grow tired of hearing how we United Methodists can beat ourselves up because we're not like them. (As in, not drawing huge crowds. Not growing.) On bad days, I feel like we're about 15 years behind them--just now telling ourselves what we should do now that they tried back then.

So, I'm intrigued by these new questions they're raising today--about rethinking how we do church. They define the mission of their church much like the UMC's official mission: making disciples of Christ. They further definite that as helping people grow in love of God and in love of other people. (A pretty darn decent definition.) Their new realization is that all the programs of the church (worship, small groups, classes, caring programs, service opportunities) don't really help people grow in love of God and love of other people. In fact, the people who define their love of God and others as most central to their lives are least satisfied with church programs.

They're challenging us to definite discipleship as more than showing up at church. And our "job" as churches as more that putting splendid programs together.

Diana Butler Bass, whose work on the practices of our faith I've admired for quite a while, commented on this in a blog entry at Sojourners.

On good days, I'm aware that many of our old, tired "mainline" churches are still doing some of these things that really matter: allowing people to participate in growing a deep faith that will sustain and nourish them as their faith deepens. I hope we can hang on to that. Or find it anew. Maybe we can use it in partnership (even) with the Willow Creeks of the world.

-

As a pastor, I feel really lucky to get to share moments of stirring honesty, reflection and hopefulness as I talk with folks willing to share their spiritual journeys with me. This week, I got to spend time with someone whose life and work I admire a whole lot--someone who really gets the "love God and love neighbor" thing. She's especially good at loving neighbors who are poor, and at choosing to offer herself to those who have suffered injustice.

She does this, though, separate from church. She's seen how churches can be. Her love of God, though, will not let her go, nor will her ever-growing love of neighbors.

And then I see people in my church--people who come regularly, and even have leadership. My heart breaks when I see them fall far short of the vision of divine love that's possible, and not even seem aware that they're missing out on anything.

I know, it's dangerous to judge. But this week, set next to these ideas from Willow Creek, I'm wondering how we fall so short in really giving the people who come to church a vision for the Kin-dom of God.

(I hear the words of one of our faculty members at the Youth Theology Institute back when I WAS a youth: "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald's makes you a hamburger." And I want to figure out how to help.)

-

Though I've never bought hamburger at the carniceria on the corner, I love their cow logo. It's detailed enough to feel elegant, and yet SO SIMPLE. It gives me pleasure as I turn onto my street.
-

Just below it, though, is a "Water Center." Nowhere do I see as many "water centers" and water stores as in my poor neighborhood. It feels vaguely dirty to me that people are capitalizing on insecurities of water safety, in a neighborhood where so many immigrants come from places where there really is not safe drinking water in the tap or the well.
I want to live in a country where we know there is and will always be safe drinking water, readily available in taps in our homes and in drinking fountains on our streets and in our parks. I'm tired of the bottled water market telling us we need to buy plastic bottles of water. Too much plastic (and too much oil). To much transportation waste.

So I make a point of drinking from glasses filled straight from my tap, in my big kitchen window on the street. A witness for our water supply. And a prayer that we will invest in our increasingly dilapidated water system. Everyone should have access to safe drinking water.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

promise and hope

Whew...what a week it has been. Watching from the sidelines as fires ravage your region is not something I'd wish on anyone. Such frustration--to see powerful destruction, and now that there is very little to be done to lessen its horror.

I kept experiencing the same frustration in others: a desire to do something to help, and an inability to find something that would feel sufficient. I went to the evacuation center at Qualcomm stadium--they were inundated with people wanting to help. And I marvel at how half a million people evacuated their homes, and found places to be. If Qualcomm held 10,000 of them, and felt like a massive operation, my mind reels at what 500,000 people seeking shelter there would look like. It seems incredible that so many people could find places to be--at evacuation centers, in their rv's in parking lots around the county, in hotels, and staying with friends and family. I like to imagine that the biggest number of people were imply absorbed (given shelter?) by extended family and friends. A vast informal network of people willing to provide hospitality and care to one another. A grassroots relief project that provided shelter on a massive scale, relying on people's basic decency toward one another...


In between my feelings of amazement and gratitude for how good people can be, though, I found myself braced for the possibility of loss. Our friend Mark lost his house--everything he owns, except for a duffel bag of clothes, his car, and the laptop he forgot at a friends' house. My thoughts are with him and so many others who've lost so much. Life, even.

We continue to spend much of our outside-of-work time up in Julian, building Matt's family's house that burned four years ago in the Cedar Fire. All that effort--the thought of losing it to fire again was, well, pretty crappy.

Thankfully, it did not burn again. And we got up there yesterday to do some more work--the power's back on, the water works, and the sky was blue. The autumn leaves are gorgeous. The neighbors even came by to say congratulations for making it through this one.

And, best of all, on the way home, we saw a rainbow. A big one, all across the sky to the east, over the desert. A double rainbow. And, it came with a gently sprinkling of rain. Promise and hope for my eyes and my tired, dry skin--how good it felt and looked! As if God was saying, "I know it's been hard. Just remember that you can never lose it all. And I will not destroy you completely. My promise is still here. You'll make it to a beautiful new possibilities, just ahead."

Monday, October 22, 2007

fires

San Diego is surrounded by wildfires today. The smoke and ash in the air, and the still quality in the street oddly and immediately evoke memories of four years ago this week, when the Cedar Fire raged through the county.

It feels strange to have been up in Julian all weekend, working at rebuilding our family house there, only to come down the mountain to relive the crisis of an overwhelming wildfire.

Not again.

This time, though, the fire spread into the city during the daytime--and having been through this as a city four years ago, everyone is less surprised by the power of the fire. So, we watch, riveted to the news as this fire causes evacuations of more and more communities. And burns more and more houses.

We're not close to the fire's imagined path (and neither is the half-built house in Julian), so the danger feels less personal, but the heaviness of fears seems to match the heaviness of the smoky air.

So, we pray, and share food, and take walkers from the church closet to the evacuation site and the stadium.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

i *felt* crafty

Last weekend felt fall-ish, and I was feeling crafty, so I decided to try felting. The idea of turning old wool sweaters into cool new things has been tempting me. I gave into temptation.

What fun: a couple of washes in hot water, and knit things become all stuck together. Like felt. (Ok, so they ARE felt. Whatever.)

Here's my first felting project, a little purse made out of an old sweater. I even made a lining with *pockets* out of a cloth scrap I had.
I thought it was so much fun I decided to try more. And, I've been fixated on etsy.com lately, thinking it might be fun to try selling crafty things. So, I went thrift store shopping...and found a few (er, twelve) sweaters I thought would be fun to play with.

(they were such a good deal. i just couldn't resist. and whose gonna buy wool sweaters in san diego, anyhow?!?!?)

Here's my pile of newly-felted sweaters, just waiting to be remade.
Oh, the possibility!!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

what the Bible tells us to love

It's been an exciting couple of days: an unexpected chance to see some of country radio's big names in concert, and a film about the Bible and homosexuality.

Sunday night, we went to see Brooks & Dunn AND Alan Jackson in concert. Every song was a top hit with lots of radio play--it was hours of sing-along fun. I love sentimental songs whose choruses include finding Jesus, drinking beer and wrecking cars. All in 2 lines. Really, it was fun--Boot Scootin' Boogie-ing, Chattahoochie-ing good times.

It helps that these 2 acts have the post-9/11 patriotic anthems I can most go along with. (And, we all know that a good country music concert has to feature 'em. Sometimes they make my stomach hurt bad.) Unfortunately, their staging and order reinforced what my good friend, Christian Left, was saying just the other day. In an encore that started with a gospel invitation to believe in something more than what we can see (and with a shout-out to red letter Christians), they followed this moving gospel number with (you guessed it) patriotism. And they used a song about USAmerica as a land of opportunity (a swell idea) as stage for a visual tribute to the Marines. As if the only thing better than believing in Jesus is America. And the real America is military America.

My Dear Husband, though he shared much of my complaints about the staging, said they had to do it so they could end on a rockin' number. Maybe Jesus could be last if his songs rocked more.

ANYHOW...

Tonight, my adventures in Jesus and America continued. Differently. I went to see "For the Bible Tells Me So," a documentary about the Bible and how it's used to form our beliefs about homosexuality in USAmerica. It is playing here in SD this week. I went with some courageous and beautiful people who are trying to build a community of support for LGBT folks at a conservative Christian college in town.

It's always hard to watch reminders of the spiritual and physical violence done to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people in the name of the Bible. It's been far too much, and far too destructive.

What made me cry, though, is the bold witness of families and parents who are being "church" much more daringly then most of our churches are. And the folks in the film certainly aren't the only ones: so many others are putting themselves out into the world as witnesses to a Gospel call to love.

I'm just worried, tonight, about how horrible the whole things looks from the outside.

We've gotten so easily deceived into believing that homophobia is a holy obligation--that it's the Christian expectation. Which makes we wonder how we're going to get beyond this. For a culture that finds religion more and more optional, and that may never have the kind of rich and formative experiences of being raised in a nurturing church community, I wonder what reason for joining a church community one would see.

I want to be a part of church communities that proclaim by demonstration a love that comes to everyone and changes the world.

The choice isn't whether or not there are going to be gay and lesbian people in the world. (There are.) We need to choose whether the church is going to be open to all children of God. And, eventually, we need to choose if we're going to be relevant to a world that loves its gay and lesbian sons/daughters/mothers/parents/brothers/neighbors/co-workers/teachers.

Or just look afraid, ignorant and hypocritical.

At least, that's what I'm thinking tonight.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

the little things

Today was a frustrating work day. Miscommunication, impatience and not honoring each other threatened to destroy far too much.

Then, the little things saved the day.

See, the toilet paper dispenser in the bathroom I share with the finance office (I know, I know: I'm spoiled. A private bathroom at work...) has this toilet paper dispenser that will never give you more than one square at a time. The roll gets jammed, and then you have to reach your hand up into the narrow area on the edge and get your thumb to inch the roll around so you can get more paper. It's annoying, but never so annoying that I stop to do anything about.

But, today, our head custodian, Paula, turned the rolls around so the flap comes into the middle of the holder and the rolls can spin freely. Life is good. Bathroom breaks have never been better.

And, then, at Vespers, a man whose spirit is still heavy with grief for his wife joyously told me that he's already saved 45 pounds of greenhouse gas since his solar energy system became operational yesterday.

And, another man shared the story of his visit to a dying friend: watching a television commercial that advertised coffee drinks, the friend lamented that he'd never again share one. Undaunted, the visiting friend immediately decided that this visit was not at all a visit to share last moments, but one in which to share cappuccinos. And they did.

Plus, the olive tree just outside our sanctuary window captured the most amazing light show during the organ postlude at Vespers. As if the God's grace had the cues all lined up to end the day.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

optional side-tours on the odyssey?

An op-ed piece in the NYTimes today caught my imagination. Not because it was anything particularly new--it just seemed well-said. Or, perhaps, fit well into stuff that's been bouncing around in my head.

[David Brooks certainly doesn't tend to write political columns I agree with. But here he quotes Robert Wuthnow, so what the heck... ;)]

Brooks makes a case for a new stage in life--between adolescence and adulthood. In that fuzzy area we UM's call being a "young adult." Rather than writing it off as a period of aimlessness, he describes the intense "improvising" that tends to go on as young people look to make sense of a world that less-and-less fits into neat, easy boxes. He says this is good for knitting circles and bad for churches.

I agree that it's "bad" for churches in the sense that it makes it hard for young people to fit into the church in our current forms. (I mean, how do we count members if people are transient? Or unwilling to sign on for joining institutions that are homophobic, or that seem to be worried mostly about their own self-preservation?) But it seems like it could be incredible "good" for the church, if we can only figure out how work with this "odyssey."

On our best days, odyssey characteristics like "uncertainty, diversity, searching and tinkering" are exactly what our church life ought to be about. At least, they're what draws me into it. (They seem to me to be things that Jesus was all about--questions assumptions, daring to include the excluded, answering easy questions with stories, and always doing so with love.)

I haven't found the right metaphor--"tour guide" seems far too much like we in the church should have things figured out. But perhaps the church can be like optional side excursions--helping give ways to deepen the experience of the questions, exploration and engagement. Or like a community journal, providing a context in which folks can reflect on odyssey-ing. Or like time on the tour bus for building community with others.

So many possibilities.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

california dream

I finally got myself one step closer to that California dream: I tried surfing today.
I know, I know: I've been here for over 9 years now. It's about time this Nebraska girl who grew up with grade school fantasies of life with the Beach Boys in California carried a surf board under her arm and into the water.

And I have to say that it was SO not that bad.

Being not naturally gifted at anything athletic and prone to clutzy moves even on solid ground, I was (I admit...) leery of the prospect of standing up on moving water.

Don't get your hopes up. I didn't do a whole lot of standing up on moving water today. (Maybe 2 seconds on itty bitty waves in foot-deep water.) But, more importantly, it wasn't horrible and I didn't feel like I was going to die at ANY point.

Also, I was impressed by the warmth of the rented wetsuit. It really was warm.

My only time in neoprene before today was when we went hiking through the Narrows in Zion National Park. There, the 50-degree water combined with fear of flash floods and the bloody reality of a rock that knocked my dear husband out cold. I wore neoprene socks with my hiking sandals as we slogged that endless journey through the river, and my feet were freezing pretty much the whole time.

Turns out that a whole wetsuit in ocean water (that's significantly warmer than that Virgin River water) is pretty darn warm. Who knew?!?

I don't think I'll early the title "surfer girl" anytime soon, but I'd be willing to give it another go... Thanks for inviting me, Jen.

------

An unrelated highlight for the day was watching a giant poster for Duncan Hunter's presidential campaign receive "boos" as it roamed through crowds at Oktoberfest in La Mesa. I mean, if folks in his East County home aren't even enthusiastic, that makes his prospects pretty weak, right?

Friday, October 05, 2007

planting things

On Monday, the garden club met for some planting fun. C, the 7th grader, got a head start by sticking a handful of pinto beans in a plastic pot with some dirt. They'd all sprouted, and the 30 or so plants in the little pot were getting crowded...so, now there's a line of pinto bean plants along the fence, happily transplanted with a whole bunch more space. We planted other beans and peas, too, plus some sweet peas. And moved some strawberries, which are the consistent favorite of R, the 4th grader.

Making the labels was a favorite activity. It was pretty exciting (as you can see from R's punctuation choices for the sweet peas!!!)

Then, for my favorite part of the meeting, we picked some of the basil and a ripe tomato. I got to introduce them to one of my favorite summertime treats. (I know, I know: it's fall now. One must gather her basil leaves while she may.)

Yesterday, some new packets of heirloom seeds arrived in the mail--my clever use of some birthday money. ;) Now, we'll see if these new-to-me kinds of broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage like City Heights life.

What fun.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

31

According to the Book of Discipline, a young adult is someone who is "approximately" 18-30 years of age. Which means that I am now, officially, young only in an approximate sense.

I do, however, give thanks for all 31 completed years, and for celebrations yesterday, which included cobbler, cake and a choco taco. (Plus a full moon, good company, and the rest of Weeds, Season 2. I'm hooked on Weeds, which is, I suppose, how a show about a drug is supposed to work. I should be glad it's not named for a more addictive substance. And, since we're never going to have Showtime, I'm attempting to cultivate patience as I wonder what will happen to dear, deep-in-trouble Nancy. It's all clever social commentary. And has that addictive "Little Boxes" song that Pete Seeger used to sing. I would not, however, recommend showing it to small children.)

My folks have been here this week. I just took Mom to the airport, and am working at my transition back to regular life. It's fun to show them my life, but, as one might guess, life is different when they're here. Oh, the impossibility!

My neighbors of the Garden Club have been coming by in search of access to a little piece of ground where they can plant whatever they want; I've been too busy to come out and play. Maybe tonight. Or tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

word on the street

To Matt, she said:
Yo, your house is phat juiced up.

I take that as approval of our new paint scheme. Rock on.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

more beautiful things

i'm just excited because i got to see sinead o'connor sing last night.


and, as grace would have it, it's giving me things to ponder as i read contemplate how to preach Jeremiah again this week.

one thing i love about sinead is her resilient and bold inability to play to audiences. mad props to sinead for dedicating a song to britney spears, speaking up for a mother who's being trashed in the press. "keep your chin up," sinead offered her, along with a rockin song. it feels similar to the line she keeps walking between giving voice to powerful lines from scripture while distancing herself from the churches that use them.

she talked about how she's been talking to lots of christian press folks as she promotes this album. and how they're not all thrilled when she says that god doesn't like war. (she used different langauge for the "not all thrilled" bit, as i remember it.)

amen, sister.

Friday, September 14, 2007

on color and things i find beautiful

I found someone near me who has chickens--17 wonderful, varied chickens in her backyard on the canyon. And, she sells their eggs. They are a beautiful collection of wondrous colors. (As are the chickens themselves. They looked very happy.)

I'm glad to have a local source of well-raised eggs. If you're in the area, and would like to know where to get some, let me know. I'd be happy to connect you!
And, this morning, I'm pondering how long it will be before I change my profile picture. My house doesn't look so much like that any more. It's more colorful now.
I don't know if it's the new color of the house or the growth in the garden, but it seems like many more people are stopping to tell us they like our garden these days. A family came by a few weeks ago, and asked after the too-dry-for-sweet-corn ears of corn then standing in my yard. I shared some corn, and they came back that evening with fresh tamales!

Last night, the littlest member of what shall henceforth be known as the Garden Club (that is, the kids who live next door who are keen on helping in our garden) was helping me pick grape tomatoes so I could take some to book club. After finding five or six in the midst of what's become an overgrown region of sprawling tomatoes, leafy rhubarb, out-of-control strawberry plants and more bermuda grass than I'd like, I was ready to give up. Little D, though, kept going--finding so many they wouldn't all fit in my bowl. With a mischievous 3-year-old smile, he'd lift up his arm and say, "Another one!" There were plenty for snacking in the garden AND for taking to book club.

Monday, September 10, 2007

help with the yardwork

I made friends last week.

Two girls who live next door--one in the front house and one in an apartment in the back, off they alley, came over and knocked on my door.

"We really like your garden. We think you look nice. Will you be our friend?"

So now I have two new friends. One who just started 7th grade, and one beginning 4th. (Plus, her little brother who's about 3.) They want to help in my garden.

Last week, I didn't work outside very much. (At least, not after they'd already come by.) But this past weekend, we planted some things in the back yard: calla lilies from a church friend, and papaya seedlings that grew from seeds from a fruit enjoyed this spring. Oh, and we got to play with the worms that live in the backyard's dirt.

What could be better?

Friday, August 31, 2007

compost is like grace

This morning, Matt decided we should rent a little trailer and take all the junk--like the old window trim that we tore off--that's lying around the house to the landfill. I persuaded him that, as long as we've got a trailer and are going to the landfill, we might as well get some fresh compost for the garden.

We've picked up free compost from the landfill before, but the availability of a trailer opened up a new possibility for us: they could use a big machine to load the compost for us.

Scale is difficult at the landfill. Huge piles of trash. Little bitty people.

Turns out it costs $4 to have them load you up with compost. But it's WAY worth it.

The biggest scooper truck I've seen comes over to help us. (There's probably a better word for this piece of machinery, but "backhoe" is the closest approximation I have and this is WAY bigger than any backhoe I've seen.) The very large man in the very large truck looks at our receipt and starts loading. Just before he dumps the beautiful, smelly compost in, though, he beckons Matt over to his cab. (Well, like, over to 10 feet under his cab.)

"Is this for your garden?"

When Matt nods yes, he backs up, dumps the compost back where it came from, and takes off. Turns out, we get the top shelf compost this time. "Food compost," he called it. The best they have. He came back with his scooper less than half full.

We'd been having this discussion about volume. Our receipt indicated that we could receive 1 cubic yard. I realize that cubic yards are a lot bigger than cubic feet (like, 27 times bigger, by my math), but it didn't seem like a lot. I told this to Matt. He told me a cubic yard is big.

So the nice big man in the nice big truck dumps his partially-filled load of the good stuff in our trailer. Suddenly, it looks bigger.

Now, as darkness falls over City Heights, it looks huge.

Here's the pile that's left in the driveway, after I spread a layer liberally around the garden. (Gardening liberally is a specialty of mine...)
I think we have enough.

Our windows are all open (on account of it being really-hot-for-San-Diego today). It smells like compost around here. Pretty cool that this all comes from our trash...

stuff you probably didn't even want to know about me

Erika tagged me again. Here are my answers to the big questions of life:

Breakfast Items That Are Critical To My Happiness:
Coffee and...
My day just doesn't feel right without starting with a cup of coffee and something else--often peanut butter and jelly on toast. (Now that I've got homemade jam, it's taken up a notch.)

Oh, and it all goes with the morning paper, except on Thursdays, when I'm always running too late to get to the paper.

People I Would Most Like to Share a Table With On a Cruise:
I don't know if it was because it was a Carnival cruise, or what, but the cruise vibe just isn't really me. What I'd really like is to share a table at home, filled with homegrown goodness with Matt and dear friends. And, while we're at it, it'd be cool if I could make those friends live just a few blocks away. ;)

Rudest Thing Said To Me This Week:
Not sure--I try to forget these things.

Rudest Thing Done To Me This Week:
Again, I'm failing in memory. And grateful that I don't live and move in the midst of rudeness. Would the incessant littering that goes on in my fence line, sidewalk and garden count?

Jobs That Have Made Me Go, "Huh?"
It's trash day, and the window's open...so I continue to harbor a mix of emotional reactions to the handful of people who regularly move through our neighborhood, sifting through trash and recycle bins for bottles and cans that are redeemable for deposits. On one hand, I'm grateful that our trash can generate income. It also seems like a miserable way to make money.

Jobs I Have Had That Concerned and/or Confused My Mother:
More than my jobs, relocating at great distances from Nebraska is probably what has most confused my mother. Boston, Niger and California are all pretty far.

Favorite Curse Words That I Can Use In Front of Children Without Too Much Fear of Repercussion:
I've been known to say things "suck."

Curse Word That I Use Most Frequently After Leaving the Children:
Variety is the spice of life.

Most Honest Bumper Sticker I've Ever Seen:
War is not the answer.

Changes I Would Make If Money Were No Object:
Ah, if only money could solve our problems. The ones that it seems money could solve--access to safe drinking water, hunger--I suspect to be much more deeply rooted in our ways of setting world priorities. And in (not) honoring the dignity of all humans and all of creation. If we're going to solve things, it can't just be generating more money; we need to reallocate things.

That said, I'm pretty thrilled that we have the money to repaint our house right now.

Favorite Piece of Technology:
This week, ceiling fans. It's San Diego hot this week.

I'm tagging Marian (so I can see her new blog), Krista and Deb.

Friday, August 24, 2007

friday five: giving credit

I figure, what the heck. It's about time I played another RevGalPals Friday Five. Today, it's about art, which I dig. Here goes:

Name a

1. Book
Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle." Especially lately, I've been thinking about food a lot on this spiritual and physical journey of mine. I treasure the way she brings the intricacies of turkey life cycles into crisp, beautiful invitations to live differently in this world.

2. Piece of music
While naming the Indigo Girls is tempting, as they sang me through some critical years of spiritual development, I'm gonna say Sinead O'Connor's "Thank U for Hearing Me." Exquisite. (Bach's "St. John's Passion" gets a shout-out, though, too.)

3. Work of art
Matisse's cutouts. They are so clearly made by human hands, so grand in scale, so vibrant and such a testimony to the possibilities we humans can find to express ourselves, even when we lose physical abilities.

4. Film
Shawshank Redemption, I suppose. It's a good one, anyhow. Nothing soars like that opera music through a prison yard...

5. Unusual engagement with popular culture
"Unusual" is such a tricky category. I listen to country music these days; I especially like to wake up to its honesty and direct way of speaking of things. (Later in the day, I love rich, metaphorical poetry, but there's something to be said for just layin' it out there, especially before coffee. I mean, how do you beat this kind of clarity:
id like to see you out in the moonlight
id like to kiss you way back in the sticks
id like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
and id like to check you for ticks


That have helped/ challenged you on your spiritual journey.

Bonus: Is engagement essential to your Christian faith, how and why?
If engagement means being involved in all the richness of language, visual perception, our hearing, relationships with others, and turkey mating, then my answer is: yes.
All we have are these bodies through which to know God and seek to live in the world as God intends it to be. We're certainly called to engage, for ourselves, for our communities and world, and for God's sake. (Am I allowed to say "godsake" in this?!?)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

thresholds

We got a new door to our house yesterday. (The neighbor installed it for us.) I like it a whole lot more than our old door. And, it's one piece of our current round of home improvements, most of which are aimed at tidying up the outside of the house. (That is, improvements like patching the siding under the kitchen window that's been a gaping hole since January.)

It's incredible how much better I feel coming home to a door (and lack of hole) that looks beautiful to me.

And it's not even finished yet.

All this is making me wonder about the importance of thresholds, entrances and boundaries. If it feels this good to walk through a beautiful door, how can I do a better job of opening beautiful doorways into our church?

Wednesdays often make me think these things, because they almost always include communion worship at Vespers. Standing at the communion table speaking words of grace is a little bit like opening a beautiful door.

And, today these doorway thoughts are even stronger for me, as I made a visit to Strength for the Journey. I've always (like, "always" meaning "every year since I've been a real pastor" which is, in human terms, for six years) been a part of camp, often in what felt like big, responsible leadership roles in this retreat for adults with HIV/AIDS. This year (#7), I got to pass leadership on to two people I look up to in ministry. And, today, they let me come for a visit. (Ostensibly, I was there to share our portable labyrinth as a workshop option.)

Today felt a bit like poking my head in the doorway to check on things. And, I was delighted to find that the magic of camp, with all it's grace-filled possibilities, is most definitely still happening. In beautiful ways.

And the horrible part of me that was mildly disappointed to see that things go fine without me was also delighted to be warmly received. I love the community that happens at Strength for the Journey.

And, I love it when "church" opens its doors wide enough to make space for people living with HIV/AIDS--gay and straight, male and female, young and old, sick and healthy, Anglo, Hispanic, African-American, at all places in their lives of faith (or lives without faith). If only it were all the time and not just for a week, up in the mountains.

'Til then, I'll try to enjoy my new, wooden door. And keep it open as much as possible. Celia, my neighbor who taught me that "elotes" means "corn" like corn-on-the-cob, is extravagant in saying hello, and I'm starting to feel more like I know my neighbors.

I've had two fabulous visitors last week and this--friends from college. Getting to offer a little bit of hospitality to people I love is cool. Plus, it's like making time-travel doorways that span 10 years. So, thanks for visiting, David and Z! What fun it is to open my door to you.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

eating some very local food

Yesterday and today, I've been enjoying fruit from the yard. Marian came over, and we ate figs, with goat cheese. (Don't worry: I don't have goats in the yard. I got that at the store.) Delicious. I'm liking learning to eat figs well.

We made 'em into a little pizza, too. A splendid combination of savory and sweet. The rosemary from the yard set it off perfectly.

(We made a tomato and basil pizza, too, but didn't take a picture. It was good, but nothin' like figs and goat cheese. Marian told me: "They can't all be figs and goat cheese." I should just be delighted that it was fresh and tasty.)
Tonight, I had my first corn from the garden. My favorite summertime meal: a blt and fresh corn. Good stuff.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

garden perspective

Today, I've enjoyed looking at how things have grown 'round here. The bananas in the backyard seem CRAZY big. (At least, crazy bigGER than they were...I'm hoping they keep growing taller, so they don't hit my in the face when I walk by.)

Here's the backyard when we planted it.Here's that same little banana plant today. (The fig tree and kiwifruit are a lot bigger, too!)
(Excuse the window, leaning against the fence, that's waiting to be installed in the house...)

And here are our vegetables. That's a six-foot fence the corn is towering over. The first pumpkin looks about ready to pick.
And, my little delight for the day is how well the stephanotis is doing. It's just growing away in the backyard, filling the area with smelly delight.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

i heart tomatoes

for breakfast, lunch and dinner
in salsa, soup, salad and sauce
tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes!Not that you asked for it, I thought I'd share my tomato joy. It's joyous enough that I've been able to share with neighbors and friends. (I'm hoping that my sharing will prompt the neighbors across the street to want to share their Chinese water fruit with us, so we can try it... See, I have my motives.)

I'm rather enjoying this summer harvest (even if I am a bit disappointed with our zucchini's resistance to growing well, and if my flower bed looks fairly wretched and rather patchy...)

Here's what the vegetable garden looked like before camp, the last time I thought to take a picture when it was light out. The corn has grown considerably since then--this was July 13, I think.
I keep thinking these long summer days will give me time to do more projects around the house, during the week. Alas, so far, this has not been the case. By the time I get home from the church, I'm ready to just sit on the couch. I try to convince myself that, because I don't have a television to turn on, it's not that bad. But I spend a lot of time living vicariously through other more-active people's instructions for how to make cool crafts and revolutionary gardens.

Oh, and searching for the ideal colors for the exterior of our house.

If you lived in a neighborhood where you could--really--paint your house ANY color and it woudn't look out of place, what color would you paint a cute, little (and did I mention "little"?) wood-sided house built in the 1920's?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

figgy

It's been a while since I've posted, so I thought I'd share a tasty piece of today's joy. My first fig.



It comes after another break-in at the house. So, I'm praying that it's a signal of Micah's good promise for us (and all creation) about the time when we'll all have vines and fig trees and no one will make us afraid.

And, it comes after Jr High Camp, which was most excellent. I'm glad I get to hang out with junior high age people sometimes. It's good for me. As are the fabulous adults who work with them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

fresh mountain air

We're just back from a little vacation to the mountains--a backpacking adventure in the Sierras, a bit of lounging and a day's work in Julian on our house-building project.I love high mountain meadows.

It feels so good to have time out and away. Reminds me of the goodness of Sabbath rest. And, it reminds me that too often I use my time "off" to work on projects, or at least scheme on them. Having, like, five days in a row when I didn't think about projects and schemes and dreams felt really good. I can only hope that God was doing all that good stuff inside and with me that'll make my work more than work, and more than I could be if I did things on my own.

Today, though, I woke up exhausted, fretting about all the things that need to be done today (and tomorrow, before Jr High Camp and another week away from the office...). Sigh.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Unable to resist a game of tag with my friend Erika, here are my answers to questions you didn't know you wanted to ask:

Four Jobs I've Had

-My first job was as a weaver for a friend of my mom's--first in her basement making denim rag rugs and handbags made out of denim rag rugs, and later at a living history museum in Nebraska where I got to live out my Little House on the Prairie fantasies.
-For a year, I was the accompanist for a children's choir at my church (back in the day)
-I worked as a summer camp counselor at Nerd Camp (they didn't really call it that) at Duke U
-Pastor (which is my present gig) at a United Methodist Church in San Diego

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over
-Rubin and Ed (I know. You haven't seen it. It still makes me laugh, but I hope you won't decide if I'm cool or not by your opinion of it, should you ever find an old VHS copy and decide to watch it. It came at a formative time in my life...and I cannot resist saying many of the lines along with the movie)
-Moulin Rouge (with singing-along)
-Microcosmos
-Goonies

Four Places I've Lived
North Platte, Nebraska
Niamey, Niger
Boston
San Diego

Four Places I've Vacationed
Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado
the Big Island of Hawaii
Zion National Park in Utah
Palm Springs, CA

Four of my favorite dishes
Enchiladas Verdes (one shitake and one cheese) from Rancho's in San Diego
Bean and Cheese Burritos from any drive-thru in San Diego (a staple of my diet)
Apricot Salmon (a new dish in my attempt to eat locally-ish)
any good lasagna

Four Sites I Visit Daily
Common Dreams
MySpace
Urban Dictionary (I love dictionaries of all sorts!)
Erika's blog

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now
-in bed (with the laundry done. Is that too much to ask? Man, that sounds old and boring.)
-in the mountains (any mountains will do), preferably in a comfy lounge chair from which I can see the big moon and the stars
-on the beach, listening to the waves (again, with comfy chair)
-in a better-stretched-out position on this very couch where I presently sit

Four people I'm tagging:

Marian
Vanessa (it's dangerous to tell me you read this thing)
my mom
Sharron
(if I knew anyone else out there, other than my brother whose blog isn't given to such games, i'd tag them, too. ;))

Sunday garden tour

I didn't have as much time to spend in my garden as I'd have liked today, but I did stop to enjoy it, just before sundown. Wanna come on a tour?
I picked the first tomatoes today--"Juliet" grape tomatoes. They were tasty. My challenge for the day was figuring out what to do with the rowdy Brandwine tomato that has outgrown its stake and made it fall over. Tonight, it's strung up with twine, tied to the fences. A little sketchy, but mmmmm, those tomatoes are gonna taste good!

And, as you can see, the corn is more-than-knee high, and it's only the first of July, so things are looking good. The chard won't stop growing. The squash and pumpkin are flowering and making fruits...

My surprise is the pot of calla lilies you can see way over on the left (just an edge in the top picture)--Matt planted the bulbs back before Iraq, when we were in the condo. The whole pot looked rather dead, but I decided it might be worth watering. And, by grace, it's in bloom!

Bonus points to anyone who can identify all the edible things growing here. (I counted 11, but I have some advantages. Like I know what I planted.)
The passionflowers on the fence keep blooming--I was afraid they'd quit by now. I like 'em because they don't like to show their faces in the morning any more that I do. (They're an afternoon-opening flower...)
The sunflowers are growing tall--this one's over six feet, and glorious-looking. I love sunflowers.
And, for kicks, I thought I'd throw a craft project (a little bit o' garden art) into the tour. Here's one of my recycled wine bottle lantern prototypes, hanging in the backyard. It's not glowing, but you can use your imagination...
Now I'm back to dehydrating things for our backpacking adventure...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

evan

We went to see Evan Almighty. Good stuff.

I especially liked recasting the story without the whole "destroy-nearly-all-the-world" bits. But I guess that's what the rainbow promise was supposed to be all about.

Favorite bit: the speech where God tells Evan's wife to act on her prayers, as co-creator. (My word, not theirs.)

This God is a kind of "almighty" that I love.

Monday, June 25, 2007

with power comes responsibility

I'm currently reeling from the news that I was elected to lead the delegation of folks from our Annual Conference to General Conference next spring. I'm not entirely sure what this will mean (and I suspect its many meanings will come into being as we go along), but I'm sure that it feels like a daunting task.

In many ways.

But, before I get to the daunting, I ought to say how honored and flattered I feel. Whatever the reasons people felt compelled to vote for me, I feel honored that they would think me worthy of this role. Even those of us clergy who are given to cynicism about the church are likely to want to send good people to make church policy. We all have to live with church policy.

And, I hope my election is a sign of hope for things to come--in younger generations and in training and trusting new leaders. We don't always have a lot of hope when we talk about General Conference and denominational trends and such.

A lot of young people--and, most definitely, my dear friend Erika--advocated and campaigned toward my election. I don't think any of us really believed it possible until we saw the results of the first ballot.

So I'm hoping that being the person with the right to be on the Conference floor, participating in legislative committee and voting and all, will not be as frustrating as watching the Conference floor was 8 years ago. I don't have great confidence in the chances that things will go as I'd like at General Conference. (I'm too insistent that we need to be truly welcoming of gay and lesbian people, for example.) But I'm open to that possibility.

In the meantime, I have lots of prayerful figuring to do--what committee I'd most like to be on, how I'll relate to the others on the delegation and others in other delegations, whether to dress like others expect for delegates or like I'd prefer, how to balance being taken seriously and being a different, new style that the church might well need.

It's a good thing I have 'til April.

Monday, June 18, 2007

and off again

So many things seem blog-worthy, and then I let them slip by...so here I find myself checking last things and packing for my week away in warm ol' Redlands CA for our Annual Conference meeting. Church meetings in smoggy, hot inland CA. And, yet: I look forward to them. I get to room with dear friends, and share time with folks I don't see often enough. So I stayed up a bit longer than I meant to, making a pie to share.

I've been into making and baking lately. Since my dear husband's parents' apricot tree came into fruit, coincidental with the height of my Eat Local resolve, I've been working apricots into every meal, and experimenting in preservation. So, tonight, it was a batch of apricot salsa and an apricot pie that I thought I might be able to bring to offer to our gathering. Turns out that apricots make a pretty mean salsa... (And are good with carrots, salmon, ice cream, pie, bread, and more.)

Since our last batch of kitchen cabinets came to hang in our house, it's been fun putting things where they might *actually belong* in the kitchen. And then getting used to them. (I am amazed how even bizarre locations for cooking supplies, when they become habit, can seem "right." You'd think I'd adjust more quickly to the new locations. Maybe that's a part of my extra motivation for cooking these days--to re-set my habits in reaching for the right cupboard. It occurs to me that there's likely a good metaphor here somewhere, but I'm not quite ready to make reaching for the olive oil into a spiritual practice...)

Preparing for trips always brings me a mix of excitement, anxiety and pressure (to pack the right things and remember the little stuff. Who am I kidding: to remember the big stuff. I'll not forget to Women's Retreat where I forgot to put my suitcase in the car, but remembered the odd supplies for activities...)

In addition, Conference brings added excitement and anxiety: will the church (my church, and the folks I'm closest to in it) find vision and hope in its gathering? Will we make decisions that will be beautiful? We get to do all those rites of passage: ordination, retirement, memorial service. All of which make me wonder what the church will be like when I get to the latter two.

I hope we'll find ways to move forward boldly, hanging onto the good stuff that gives us life.

Certainly, though, we'll get to share apricots.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

a farmer

I've been happy for a while now, knowing that I could go outside, touch some plants, and come back in with hands smelling of tomatoes. But now, oh, life is looking good. The fruits are growing.This afternoon, I drew a labyrinth on our driveway. (It was part of a project in which I'm living out my fantasies of being a graphic artist. A little chalk, a little Adobe Photoshop, some uploading, and life is good.)
While I was drawing the labyrinth (and before I played with Photoshop), a woman stopped to talk to me. She's from Somalia, and wanted to know if I lived in *that* house. I do. She told me I was a farmer, with a warm smile.

So, today I'm grateful for sidewalk chalk, labyrinths, my Mac, tomatoes, and neighbors--she says she just lives over on 50th Street.

Friday, June 01, 2007

friday five for hope

Today seems like a good day to play along on the RevGalPals Friday Five. Here goes:

1. Think back to the time you left High School, what were your hopes visions and dreams for your life/ for the world?
My dream was to leave western Nebraska for the big city (any one with a good art museum would do, but New York would be ideal) to live a life rich with the beautiful things of life. And, of course, to share them with others. (Professionally, this would involved being a director of educational programs at a fabulous museum.) My dream for the world is pretty much the same as now. Vines and fig trees for everyone. No fear. And all the weapons turned into farming tools. (My apologies to Micah.)

2. Have those hopes visions and dreams changed a lot, or are some of them still alive and kicking? (share one if you can)
See the post below.
There's also the matter of the dream that emerged in 3rd grade or so, when I discovered the Beach Boys. It involved California, beaches, palm trees, a swimming pool and a convertible. Now, I'm trying to sell the condo (with a pool) by the beach in San Diego, so I can live more comfortably in the house with a garden a few miles inland. And hopes of a convertible were (at least) put on hold, as houses are a bit pricey out here.

3. Hebrews 11:1 " Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. " Comforting, challenging or frustrating?
Yes. All at the same time.

4. If resources were unlimited, and you had free reign to pursue a vision what would it be?
Perhaps the convertible. Or chickens in the backyard.
And, of course, helping give birth to some kind of cool not-like-church-usually-is community in our neighborhood, where folks with amazing diversities can share together in the body of Christ.

5. Finally with summer upon us- and not to make this too heavy- share your dream holiday....where, when and who with...
There are too many good places. I'm definitely looking forward to trying out backpacking in the Sierras with my beloved this summer. (Our only other attempt at backpacking resulted in head injury, blood loss, fears of flood-induced whitewater rafting on ThermaRests, and little sleep. I guess that's NOT my dream vacation. Though in the end it was a good time and we made some swell friends...) Colorado's Rockies are always nice, too. Oh, and I discovered that the Big Island of Hawaii agrees with me, too. (Beautiful beaches, sea turtles and locally-grown coffee!)

how my (kingdom of god?) garden grows

Last evening, I hung my new collage creation on the fence in the backyard. I've been so delighted by my subconscious choice to plant a vine and a fig tree back there, and how this means I'm living into Micah's vision of the good stuff. Swords into plowshares and all that. No more war. Instead: vines and fig trees.

I used one of the nasty boards from the pile behind the shed--a piece of old trim that we tore out of the house. With all that ModPodge on there, it the grain looks pretty. New life, I suppose.

Now, I'm inspired to make another, but need to figure out what it should say or depict...

In other backyard news, I fashioned a set of four marshmallow roasters, with bent wire and bead decoration on the handles, too. They're hanging on a lovely holder. Now, the next time folks gather around our recycled brick firepit, and we want to make s'mores, we don't have to rummage for more wire hangers. They're already there and waiting.
Last weekend, I tore out most of the things that had been growing through the "cold season." (One has to write "cold season" with a little irony when she lives in San Diego.) So, I have lots of bare soil, waiting for things to sprout through it. But this corner, home to rhubarb, four tomatoes, strawberries growing full-tilt and some carrots I really ought to harvest, is GREEN. In the pot is a "yuca"--manioc. I planted one from the grocery store to see what would happen. It's growing!!
I continue to wait in anticipation for summer tomatoes. (If you remember those newspaper-pot tomatoes of long ago--they've gone back to the soil. But, thankfully, others grow on.)
And, a columbine plant is blooming. The poppies are still lovely. And, happily, the shortage of bees hasn't come to my yard. They're happily pollinating away here.

(Do you think Matt would let me keep a hive? He didn't go for the keeping-chickens plan...)

Thank God for growing things.