Monday, December 25, 2006

The Reason for the Season

This was one of our best Christmas’. It just sort of fell together, rather than being planned. We originally planned to go to Portland to be with family, which we usually do and enjoy, but this year we were invited to friends for Christmas Eve dinner. This complicated our plans to travel out of town, and due to the girls rarely getting to see their friends, we decided to accept the invitation and adapt our plans.

This left Saturday free for a little more shopping and gift wrapping and the belated discovery that if we weren’t going to go join family for Christmas, that we had to come up with a complete dinner on our own. Hmmmm. So off we went shopping and planning.

Sunday morning we had a short service in the morning with many great carols as a part of the worship. Sunday evening we went back again for a Christmas Eve candlelight communion service which was beautiful and reverent. Directly after that we arrived at our friends home where the evening was full of good food, laughter, games, conversation and relaxing around the fire. Coffees with eggnog and candlelit conversations were the ingredients of wonderful memories. We made a late trip home, helped Santa fill stockings and finally fell gratefully into bed in the early minutes of Christmas morning.

Christmas morning early (but later in the day than a normal working day wake-up call) brought the hurried capture of the pet mouse who had escaped from cage and who brought him/herself to the attention to the dog sleeping in the master bedroom. Fortunately for the kid owner and the mouse, the dog did not make the capture, mom did; and shortly all were back in bed again hoping for a few more coveted hours of sleep.

Later morning brought breakfast, homemade eggnog lattes, the reading of the Christmas story and our traditional reading, by dad, of “The Littlest Angel.” As usual, the parents snuffled through the end of the sweet story. Presents followed and each person had something they were delighted to have received. ( I am trying to stretch out reading my new Tony Hillerman book. . .trying.)

After presents we quickly threw the turkey together and put it in the oven to cook while we went to watch The Nativity, a new movie about the birth of Jesus. We spent nearly two hours getting a glimpse back in time of what life was like for people in Israel two thousand years ago. Wonderful movie. . .ahhh.

After the movie we jumped into hurried preparations to get the rest of dinner caught up with the turkey when we realized our neighbors next door were home alone for the evening. We made an impromptu invitation for them to join us since there is always more than enough food to go around at a holiday dinner and soon were were six at dinner rather than four. More food, laughter and stories and another fun evening swiftly passed.

Tomorrow life goes on as usual with myriad responsibilities and tasks. But today life was filled with one memorable and satisfying hour after another.

Best of all, we had time to remember and enjoy all day the Person who gives all of life meaning – the baby in a manger to whom shepherds ran in amazement to see and wise men crossed vast miles to worship. And tomorrow we wake to Him in our lives just as usual – no longer as a baby, but as the Messiah of God who came once two thousand years ago, and Who really will come again at the end of the age whenever it turns out to be.

If it’s hard to believe He’s coming again, remember that it’s always been amazing that he was here the first time. But he was and the world has never been the same. His love and purposes have never changed and we are glad to welcome Him into our home and lives tomorrow as well as today.

Merry Christmas – God bless us every one!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Face to Face Introduction

Finally I was able to get a photo of my little friend at the feeder. Not really close enough, but with digital zoom, close enough to see almost clearly. He'll let me walk much closer, but not with camera. I was surprised this time that he let me take the photos from the top of the deck. I also discovered that he seems to have found a new little hidey-hole in the perrenial bed. I wasn't sure what would happen when the neighbors cut down their tree. Perhaps he has a little snuggly spot in that corner of our yard. At least we don't have to worry about predators reading the blog and knowing where to look!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Visual Bird Feast

OK, I admit I was a little depressed sounding on my last post. Since then time has gone by. We had a great time in Wisconsin over Thanksgiving, visiting my husbands family. Good visits with family, safe trip, interesting conversations -- things have happened and I'm not feeling so down about the election. Oh, do I think it is a bad thing, yes. Do I think it is quite the end of the world, no. Do I continue to know that God is still in control, yes. Do I wish things were different? Of course.

But now we've had a major snow and my interests have narrowed. My little hummingbird is back again and since we've had three days with freezing temperatures, we're back in business of providing breakfast (and today lunch and dinner) transfers from frozen nectar to warm and drinkable nectar. Today the temperature never got above 26 degrees F, so I had to rotate nectar containers several times.

I really thought about sleeping in this morning, but knew that by 7:15 my little friend would be waiting. And he was. A gorgeous little male Anna's hummingbird. May be the same as last year when we thought the Annas was an immature.

We also have a plethora of other delightful birds. A Hairy or Downy woodpecker (didn't make specific identification), bunches of juncos, chicadees (both black capped and rufous sided), at least a half dozen goldfinches with just a hint of yellow left and house finches as well. Usually they are plentiful at the feeders in the morning and evening. But with the harsh cold, all were busily eating most of the day.

We even went so far today to move the bird bath from the front yard to the back (complete with heater to keep the water from freezing) so the birds would have water. During the summer they drink from the little fountain, but when the temperatures drop they need sources of water.

Such little things, so much pleasure. A veritable visual feast of flitting feathered friends!
(Photo: My little Anna a few inches from his feeder - Canon 610 with digital zoom)

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Beginning of the End

Well, it is the beginning of the end. Not the beginning of the end of the world, I hope, but the beginning of the end of life as we have known it recently. The Democrats, by lying over and over, have taken over Congress.

Lying? Well, the new candidates they put forward were “conservative” democrats. Ha! The likelihood that they will vote conservatively is probably less than zero.

Lying? Because they use the media – who walk in lockstep with them – to make up “news” that puts conservatives in a bad light. All that brouhaha about Rush Limbaugh making fun of Michael J. Fox -- didn’t happen. I heard the whole thing; he never did, but they couldn’t be bothered to correct the record even though they had two weeks to do it.

Lying? Because to listen to the media, President Bush has done NOTHING good in the past four years. Can’t remember a thing. Everything is his fault even Katrina, Rita and the Tsunami.

Lying? Because all the reports from Iraq are only the bad news. No news about all the great things that have happened both militarily and with the infrastructure. No reports that the troops think we need to finish what we started and do it well.

Lying? Because they said that the President was spying domestically when it was international phone numbers to known terrorist organization members.

Lying? Because as long as they thought they might lose, they were screaming about “voter fraud” but the moment it looks like they win, they are silent.

Lying? Because Nancy Pelosi just said about the war in Iraq that “you can define winning any way you want to.” THAT IS A LIE. If we walk away from Iraq and let Al-Qaeda take over there because the government in place doesn’t have the ability to fight the insurgents alone, then we will see what it looks like when there is a huge bloodbath in Iraq followed by terrorism moving throughout the world.

Lying? Because they believe that by wishing that we could get out of Iraq that that is good enough.

Lying? Because they can’t seriously believe their own words.

If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What? A Month?? Sheesh. .

What, it's been a month since I posted? Alas, this having to work, while trying to come up with a plan to continue working in another capacity after the first of the year, is a bit challenging. I feel a little manic-depressive (currently called bi-polar - but I actually FEEL manic-depressive and since I don't have a diagnosis, well. . . I'll call it what I want. After all, it's my blog). One minute I'm feeling relatively calm and positive about the future, slightly confident that I can pull off this self-employment stuff. The next observed minute, I'm panicking on the inside and playing minesweeper in an effort to not think about things. Yes, I can do this; no, I won't be able to, I'll crash and burn. . .I'll be a great success, I'll work hard and still have free time, no, I'll never figure this out, wait maybe I'm going about this the wrong way. . .

Nothing wrong with my brain :-)


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Choosing Your God Wisely (Reprise)

President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, addressed the UN yesterday and ended his speech with the following:

"The Almighty and Merciful God, who is the Creator of the Universe, is also its Lord and Ruler. Justice is His command. He commands His creatures to support one another in Good, virtue and piety, and not in decadence and corruption.
"He commands His creatures to enjoin one another to righteousness and virtue and not to sin and transgression. All Divine prophets from the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), have all called humanity to monotheism, justice, brotherhood, love and compassion. Is it not possible to build a better world based on monotheism, justice, love and respect for the rights of human beings, and thereby transform animosities into friendship? "I emphatically declare that today's world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity; and above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet.
"O, Almighty God, all men and women are your creatures and you have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by you, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause. “

This was a prayer in front of the general assembly by a man who doesn’t believe the holocaust happened, but would be quite happy to duplicate it. Ahmadinejad is also a strong believer in the 12th Imam, known as the Mahdi, who was the 12th Shi’ite leader and who disappeared in 941. He is supposed to return at the end of time to bring in a time of Islamic justice. Apparently he is also heralding the end of the world. The disturbing thing about Ahmadinejad is that he firmly believes that since the Mahdi is to bring order out of chaos, and since his job is to pave the way for the Mahdi’s return, that bringing as much chaos along as possible will encourage the Mahdi to return.

Jesus said that in the last days that many would come claiming to be him and that when people said, “he’s out in the desert” to not run out to see. When He returns, Jesus said, everyone would know at the same time.

Truth, lies, truth, lies. Listening to the news will certainly not bring the hearer the answer. Ahmadinejad is praying for the return of his Imam, his hoped-for savior of his world. We too wait for a Savior. The One who didn’t just disappear, but who left the Holy Spirit so that Jesus Himself is always available to us; we are not abandoned. Uhlike the Jesus mentioned in Ahmadinejad prayer, the real Jesus is not just another admirable prophet in a long line, no, He is the Son of God, fully God and fully man. There is no one else like Him anywhere at any time. He is unique. He came because "God so loved the world that He gave His Son."

Jesus also said that the last dayswould be evil before He returned – He compared them to the days of Noah; he said that if the days were not shortened no flesh would be saved; He asked, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?, and most sobering to me, He said, “because of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold.” I find that last sobering, because sometimes I, because of the constant evil in the world, get tired of caring about whether or not people end up in heaven or hell. Jesus doesn't ask us to bring chaos so He will come, He asks us to share the good news of the gospel before the end finally arrives, to "seek the lost."

Ahmadinejad and I are not looking for the same Messiah. It is easy to read the words of his closing prayer and think that, the 12th Imam is just another representation of the Jewish Messiah, of the Christian Jesus. But it’s not the same. The 12th Imam is a completely different thing, a belief in someone, but not in Jesus Christ. They can not both be true. On the other hand, Jesus and the Jewish Messiah can be the same; He only needs to be recognized.

In the meantime, I need to constantly be on guard to not have my love for the lost “grow cold” and need to have a heart of compassion (although not acceptance) for Ahmadinejad and all like him who believe in a god and a messenger of that god,who is not the Truth.

We are being brought to a place in our world where we have to evaluate and decide. What religion is the truth? What God are we going to follow? It matters.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

My Good Neighbors

Three years ago we moved here to our little culdesac and thought that we were just getting a little nicer house (3 bathrooms instead of 1 - yes!) in a little quieter neighborhood. But what we got was dramatically more than that. In our fast-paced, hectic world, we found a great little neighborhood with neighbors that get together for family nights, barbeques, Saturday morning coffee and a helping hand.

I am always thankful for our welcoming little corner of the world. Lots of excitement over the short years. We encourage each other on our deck, floor, carpet remodel projects, watched with great interest the furious speed at which two families redecorated with TLC Trading Spaces.
This summer we spent a week camping together in a mini-culdesac out in the San Juan Islands.

What more does a person need more than the care of God, a loving family, a steaming cup of coffee, a good book, a hot bath and the best set of neighbors in the world. Love Ya L, M, T and J!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Price of a Lie

This week we saw a movie called Beyond the Gates of Splendor which was about the five missionaries who died attempting to contact the Auca Indians of Equador five decades ago. The movie was basically a documentary of that time and had interviews of the wives of the men who were speared to death as well as their children and colleagues. Those wives and colleagues had later successfully continued the work of sharing the love of Jesus with the Auca's begun by their husband and friends. It was an amazing story but what struck me the most was that the reason they were all speared to death was because one of the first three people they encountered, in order to avoid blame for his own irresponsibility, told the rest of the tribe that the missionaries had come to kill them. The death of the five men, five men with families and children of their own, was all because of one small lie.

One little lie. No wonder one of the ten most important rules for life is "Thou shalt not bear false witness." Satan is described in the Bible as the "Father of Lies." His one lie so many years ago resulted in the deaths of five men who were completely sold out for God. But in spite of that attempted intervention, the purposes of God were still achieved. Achieved because the wives and one sister refused to be detered from the purposes they shared with their husbands and continued to share the gospel with the Aucas. The Auca's slowly became Christians and gave up killing each other and killing those tribes around them. They turned away from hate and anger and were saved from killing each other off completely (not to mention a life of sin and an eternity without knowledge of God).

What a blessing that God can make good out of anything, even the schemes of Satan. Satan is the Father of Lies. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. What a magnificent contrast!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Newly Lost Hope

All of a sudden, one morning, two months ago, our director at work notified us that our work was at an end. The entire company will be gone by the first part of next year. One minute we were working hard, looking forward to each work day and working together to succeed. We had reorganized, had felt the acceleration into the brightening future. The next minute all effort was history; the wind was gone from the sails, the engine dead, the fire extinguished. All that is left is the fading momentum as we slowly settle into the doldrums from which we shall not be saved. A saving breeze will not come with the morning sun. Our Hope is gone; the laughter of children that might have touched our lives sails on to another place.

Individually we shall arise and move on, dorries of individual rescue will reach us, one by one, taking us off to new places and new hopes and dreams. Our beloved corporate entity will forever lie in dusty death, visited by us in dreams and in flickers of nostalgia laced memories.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Crash Effect

I didn't realize it had been so long since I had written here until I finally got back to the site! June - and now it's August. That's what happens when your computer hard drive turns into dust, so to speak. It's nice to be back up and running with internet and email access. Granted, I could have posted from my work computer, but I find writing relaxing and don't like a time limit. Like those "wee hours of the morning" the best.

Thanks to our friend Jim who saved all our old documents, photos, i-tunes, etc. Its great to have competent friends in a time of need. We said our thanks through an Ethiopian dinner and a good time was had by all!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Choosing Your God Wisely

On a Saturday in May I was driving a bit of a distance and came across a radio show along the lines of Art Bell’s late night program. I’ve been thinking about this amazing experience ever since. There was a man being interviewed who proclaimed forcefully that we have been visited by aliens from space. He labored over the fact that this is all well-known throughout the higher echelons of government and it has all been hidden from the American public. He talked about the bodies of aliens that our government has captured alive and that are still, today, stored in secret. He even asserted that everyone in the very highest levels of government know the following specifics:

First, they have proof that aliens exist and they have visited earth.
Secondly, they know that aliens have impacted modern inventions and are responsible for our modern technology.
Third, they know that many people have been captured by aliens and have had a variety of painful experiments inflicted upon them.
Fourth, aliens are responsible for many of the “missing persons” throughout the country.
Fifth, President Eisenhower knew there was no God, only aliens, but in an effort to keep the illusion of God and to keep the population compliant and not panicked, he made it a point to advocate for “In God We Trust” to be added to currency and “Under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.

As I drove along, I was impressed with his passion and his confidence. He obviously believed what he was saying. He was convinced, or at least was convincing, of the truth of his words. While driving along, I felt a combination of both incredulousness and horror. Could this be true? Could he be telling the truth? I found myself looking at the three options that CS Lewis and others have used over the years when looking claims made by speakers. Either the speaker was telling the truth, was lying or was deluded. There really aren’t any other options.

There this man was, loudly asserting the presence and impact of aliens on planet earth. He was asserting to anyone who would listen that what he had to say was the truth.

Is he telling the truth? Has he seen these with his own eyes while awake and lucid? Is he one of a few lonely voices trying to get the truth out to us?

Or is he lying? Does he know for a fact that this is not true and says it because it gives him popularity and his fifteen minutes of fame? Does he enjoy horrifying and frightening people with visions of lying under the knife of alien scientist who views us as nothing but another specimen? Is he serious on the outside and laughing on the inside?

Or is he a crazy person who has delusions? Does he have visions in his head and thinks that they are reality? Is he schizophrenic? Is he a person who has visions and dreams and can’t separate them from reality?

Then as I continued driving along, I looked at Mount Rainier and the slanting rays of the afternoon sun lighting up the snow. I thought of my little hummingbird coming to my feeder throughout the winter, looking for his daily food. I thought of my dog and cats, the roses and cosmos growing merrily, and the tulips recently come and gone for another year. I thought about coffee and chocolate, lounging in the sun or swimming in the pool. I remembered snuggling on the couch with husband and kids, watching Apollo 13. I considered Jesus’ words that he “came to give us life abundantly.” He talked about God caring for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. Jesus said, “Come unto me you who are burdened and weary and you’ll find rest for your souls.” David wrote in Psalms, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”

I considered the speakers alien gods. Gods of fear and terror. Gods who come to inflict fear and pain, gods who come to feed off of mankind and to take people away in the dead of night. Gods to run away from and escape if at all possible. His aliens sound more like the demons of the spiritual world. They have no compunction about lying or leading people astray. Demons come to harm, kill and destroy. They aren’t aliens, but are created spiritual being alienated from the Creator of the Universe.

Jesus has maintained his credibility much longer than this speaker, however well intentioned he may have been. One of them is telling the truth about God, one is lying or is delusional. Jesus has been changing lives for the good for centuries now. The speaker's gods bring destruction and fear. The speaker can have his reality and his gods; I’ll keep the One who said, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I will choose my God carefully.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Glorious Summer Morning

What an absolute glorious morning. The sky is blue with not a cloud in sight, light breeze and the sounds of birds chirping merrily. We have the usual morning rush of chickadees and finches at the feeders; it’s too late in the year for the goldfinches any longer. The house sparrows are busily helping the fledgling get better at flying and two swallows are taking turns feeding their hungry brood. The swallows have refused the swallow box two years in a row, and have again opted for the vent holes in the attic. (But we love them, so what are we to do. We just won’t look inside; ignorance is bliss.)

But the best thing of the morning is absolutely new. The hummingbirds haven’t been coming to the feeders at all in weeks. Too many flowers; sugar water is pretty lame as an alternative to nectar. But for the first time today the excitement was at the fountain. [The fountain is a little water feature we purchased three years ago when Lucas Statuary was moving location and putting their wares on sale. It has a little stone pineapple on top (where the water emerges) and two small bowls where water drips each into the one below and finally the larger pool at the bottom.] This morning the hummingbirds were drinking from and bathing in the top level of this feature. Even more fun, the adults would perch on the top of the pineapple and flutter in the cascading water. Two adults were having territorial fights over this, but the winning adult would let what appeared to be a juvenile sit nearby. The blur here in the photo is one of them busily bathing and trying to keep from being washed away. What a glorious morning!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Howling Dog Point Lighthouse

On my recent trip to Japan I was able to visit the lighthouse at Howling Dog Point (although in Japanese it is apparently Dog Howling Point). Inubousaki Lighthouse is the name in Japanese. Ee-new-bow(ribbon type bow)-saw-key Say it fast and you have it - or so I was told.

What a treat for a very part-time keeper to get to visit a lighthouse a third or so of the way around the world. There are a variety of possible legends about why it is Howling Dog Point. One being that a Samurai was killed in Kyoto (across the country) and the dog could be heard howling all the way from this point. A second that the samurai left the dog to go to war and the dog could be heard howling from the sadness of being left behind. My least favorite, and apparently the one proclaimed on the sign is that the dog was demon possessed and the Samurai tied him and left him there to be rid of him. Being a dog lover as well as a lighthouse aficionado, the last legend is a bit of a downer. Another likely scenario is because of a rock that looks a bit dog shaped with “ears” standing up and hence the name of the point.

This lighthouse was built in 1874. We got to hike the 99 stairs to the top to look at the view out to Sea – and there it was, the wide blue ocean with home sweet home somewhere way beyond the view. The tower was very narrow at the top and those of us going up had to lean into the center of the tower and suck in our stomachs to let those heading downward past. There were little signs about each quarter of the way up; the first three encouraged us (if we could read it) that we could make the climb and the last congratulated us on a hike well done.

At the top we could also see above our heads the huge Fresnel lens ready at sunset to flash a warning to ships at sea. Because of the crystals there was a large curtain that protected the lens during the day from the rays of the sun. But on the shadowed side, the lens could be seen although it wouldn’t flash until night.
A port not far north from this lighthouse is a major fishing port for Japan. For the past century and a third, the light has warned sailors of approaching dangers warmed their hearts with its welcoming glow.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Walking the Knife Edge of History

I’ve been wondering recently if we are standing on the knife edge of history with a fall to our doom, whether to the right or the left, if we don’t choose our steps carefully. I look at the war in Iraq and I wonder how it would have gone if the country had stayed united and determined as at the beginning. We all know that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” It doesn’t matter how powerful a nation, or any group of people are; if they become focused on destroying each other, a small, dedicated and ruthless enemy, motivated by ideology and no fear of death, can overcome. We are the world’s greatest military superpower, but we are nearly as battered internally by the constant negativity as we are externally by the insurgents in Iraq.

But what if this is part of a bigger picture. I know, generations have come and gone and Messiah hasn’t returned yet. . .but, He did come, as predicted, the first time 2000 years ago and He said He will come again. . .so. What if the scenario is like this.

What if the noble experiment of the US is held in the balance by what we do now about this war here in this time. What if God did bring George Bush to the presidency for this time. Everyone was certainly happy to see him in charge of things on 9/12 – even Al Gore, the stories go, was glad he wasn’t president while he watched the towers fall. But what if the US is hanging in the balance of judgment. We seem to think that the constant negativity is neutral and has no effect. Unintended consequences can change the course of history.

What if our choice here is to be united and stand strong, or to be divided and fall dramatically, like a falling star, from the world’s scene. What if our choice is to put our differences behind and get on with the task of finishing this war with a united front or to hate our own leadership so much that we “cut off our nose to spite our face,” as my mother used to admonish me to not do, and we destroy ourselves because of hate for one man.

What happens if we fail? It would seem that the world would fall into terror on every side. The new testament notes that near the end a time will come when “men’s hearts will fail them for fear.” A world in which fundamentalist, extremist Islam has the upper hand would definitely be a world of fear. We cannot fail through lack of strength of computer and steel, but we can fail and fall mightily if we lack resolve and strength of mind. The knife blade is getting narrower. Lord God Almighty, please have mercy and spare us; help us make wise choices.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Getting Back In The Swing of Things

After a full week of frantically trying to get ready for vacation, followed by a wonderful week in Tokyo and environs, and then another week trying to catch up with the rest of my responsibilities, I haven’t had a chance to write here at all. I haven’t forgotten, however, and hope to get back to my musings shortly.

When I traveled to Japan, the first two days I missed my dog the most. Well, not really missed; I just felt the most guilty about leaving him behind. After all, when I told him I’d only be gone a week and would come back, why would I think he would understand? So, guilt over “abandoning” the dog. But after a couple of days, I really did miss my whole family and wished that they could have traveled with me. Missing the dog receded well into the background (whew, nice to have priorities in order). I kept thinking about how much the rest of the family would have enjoyed the various activities and I wished they were there. I had a great time, enjoyed my friends, saw my first Japanese lighthouse! And saw 17 new birds! The least exciting was the Carrion Crow, the most exciting (but not most rare) the perky little Japanese Pigmy Woodpecker. We’ll have to go back as a small herd if the friends think they could put up with us all for a few days!

It was such a treat to travel with a family that is completely bilingual. I could just relax and let them lead the way. Their kids could easily move back and forth between English and Japanese as could the parents. I was stuck in one language. But because of them, I could concentrate on enjoying the things I was seeing and didn't have to overtax the declining cognitive abilities by worrying over getting back home. Riding the trains was great, but I’m not sure I ever really knew where I was going!

The week included bird watching, walks through parks, hours chatting and catching up on friends, family and events, a day trip to the ocean (lighthouse), a day trip complete with a traditional Japanese barbeque by a river in the mountains, Edo-city museum, national museum, shopping and a small, but quality highlight, visiting a bird-nest exhibit at a local museum.

What a great week! Before the trip it just seemed like forever before the day would come, now we’re over a week past and it is already receding into the past. How quickly time flies when you’re having fun!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Ongoing Saga

Well, obviously blogging life is not as simple as I had initially thought. I finally got the photo of Baxter and his sibs uploaded onto my previous posts, and voila', it worked fine from work (weekend access, not during work time!!) and even though my first attempt - on "The World's Best Dog" - didn't appear to work, but did seem to on "Alas" -- I ended up with the photo nice and visible on BOTH postings. Didn't want to mess with apparent success, so left it both places. Came home, accessed blog from home computer and all I get are small squares where photos should be. When I click on them, I can see the photo, but don't know if that is everyone's experience. At my work computer, they all just showed up where they belonged in glorious color right with the posting - like the earlier photos.

I wish I was a little more computer/blog literate. It would be nice if everything actually made sense and wasn't all trial and error. But if I can get trial and error to work, I won't be unhappy.

So, I'll try once again from home to see if I can get the other photo of Baxter to upload. I hate feeling stymied - but it's a common feeling when it comes to computers!!!

Nope, no success again. The next time you see Baxter here, I'll probably have sent the photo to my work computer and then tried again. This is rather annoying!! Continuing on with trial and error yet again!

Friday, April 14, 2006


I've been attempting to dowload the two photos I had wanted to add to my last entry -- The World's Best Dog -- but I haven't been able to get them to upload. I thought I'd try once again as a new entry. . .so here goes.

Alas. . .no go again. Hope I can figure it out :-)!
Almost - 4/23 - maybe it's here this time!

Thursday, April 13, 2006


This morning I sat in the recliner by the window with the world’s best dog on my lap. Baxter is just four years old, born in March and picked up by us on Memorial Weekend four years ago. What a cute little puppy he was! Schipperke pups look like small bear cubs and we have no idea, in the photo of the little quintuplets provided by the breeder, which of the pups is Baxter.

He’s my dog. He’s really the family dog and is devoted to and protective of everyone. But he’s my dog because I’m “mom.” When the other’s lament that he isn’t most devoted to them, I remind them that when he was a little puppy, who was the one person who would crawl out of bed at 3:00 am to take him outside when he was miserable and needed to piddle? Yup, me. Who made sure he got every meal? Yup, me. Everyone played with him and he adores them all, but since I met all those puppy needs day and night after day and night, well, he’s bonded to me in his sweet little doggy mind.

He’s so cute. If I give him a greenie and then leave the house, he usually won’t eat the greenie until I’m back home; he waits for my return. He barks with joy whenever I come home and shakes with delight that his fears of abandonment were unfounded. He’s a great little early warning system and it is unlikely that we will be snuck up on by a person with evil intent. One night he barked at 3:00 am and we grumpily told him to be quiet and the next morning I had an email from a neighbor asking why the police were in front of our house at 3:00 am! What??? We had police at our house at 3:00 am? Turned out they had chased a stolen truck into our cul-de-sac and the culprits, discovering there was no place to go, abandoned the truck in front of our house and took off through a nearby yard without a fence in the front. By the time we knew about it, the truck was long gone and the only evidence that remained were the black tire marks showing exactly where the driver was when he realized there was no exit!

Schipperkes are also called Belgian barge bogs because they were apparently bred to be ratters on barges. Baxter has proven his breeding because he’s done in a couple of rats in the back yard over the past few months. The reason we have an occasional rat come through is because we also have three pigeons in a coop and they are not very neat eaters. There are always leftover seeds on the ground under the coop and the rats that live under the neighbors shed have been seen coming under the fence to have a snack. Baxter has turned some of their excursions into the last meal before their execution! We do not mourn the rats!

Baxter has a great personality, thinks every dog is his friend -- although he’s been surprised a few times and has moderated his enthusiasm. He is very protective of me. Just let husband or kids “pick on” mom and voila, there he is nipping at their ankles and letting them know that this is not appropriate behavior.

He is a complete affection sponge and adores being petted by “dad” who is the world’s best dog petter. He love chasing balls, but won’t let go so you have to have two in order to get him to chase more than once. He loves going for walks and his favorite phrase is “go with?” which means he’s invited along in the car. At those words, he runs in circles and barks for joy! He loves to sleep on the foot of the bed and on a cold winter night I enjoy his little 104 degree heater by my feet. Best of all, he sits next to me on the recliner and offers his furry little back as a sensory treat. When I’m happy he is happy along with me and when I’m sad he licks my tears. Lots of people have very nice dogs, but I have the World’s Best Dog!

Monday, April 10, 2006

HOW THE GENERATIONS PASS - Healy, Richardson, Stevens, Sherwood

This week I've spent a lot of time typing up the entries of an old journal of my great-great grandmother - Rosina Jane Richardson Stevens, who went by Jane. It's difficult to read some of her beautiful cursive writing, but definitely worth the effort. She began writing when her mother died in 1872 and seemed to only take pen to diary when one or another family member passed on or a similar tragedy occurred. She sounds rather pessimistic in her writings, but her narrative shows that life was not easy. Their family made many moves while trying to establish themselves in farming or business; she lamented business losses (e.g., fire in furniture store, financial debts, cyclones wreaking havoc on their farm, and the loss of siblings and children. Theirs was not an easy life in the late 1880’s for those lower to middle class families who were trying to make it in either business or farming the land.

It’s wonderful that she left this short 18-entry journal. Two of the last few entries give lists of events with places and dates recorded. The first is an outline of the moves of her early marriage. Only 19 moves in 18 years – you can hear the satisfaction in her voice as she mentions that they were still living in Elgin, Minnesota six uninterrupted years later. It appears she actually stayed there many years more.

In her journal she hoped that her life would have value to someone who she had touched and due to her experiences, was always reminding herself that we need to be ready because “we don’t know at what day or hour our call will come” to pass on to the next world. Considering her brother, Nathaniel Healy, died of Consumption, while in London and reportedly feeling better; her sister Mary Dexter died suddenly of heart disease and dropsy, and a little unnamed but not unmourned niece or nephew died at the ripe old age of 22 months, her anxiety in this regard was not unfounded or exagerated. Reading this 134 years later, I’m struck with how her life did have the meaning she desired it might have to those who followed – and how her jotted notes of decades past touch my heart even now. We’re not so different, she and I, but I do feel more optimistic. But on the other hand, my life is much easier, so why wouldn’t I be.

Our lives have intersected in another way as well. She and her husband apparently couldn’t have children and they later adopted their six year old niece, Eldora Julia Dexter who they named Ella Jane Stevens. So she is my blood relative in a roundabaout way, but being my great grandmother’s mother, she is my true great-great grandmother as well. She was the one who was mom, even though her sister was her daughter’s birth mother. I have a slight interest in those first parents, the Mary who died of dropsy and her first husband, Levi, who passed away when Ella Jane was an infant, but it is enough to see great-great Grandma Jane reflected in my grandmother and later my father. Both, including the two generations before them, had strong faith in God and looked for His help and comfort in time of need. I don't know what might have happened if Eldora Julia had grown up and lived her life unaffected by grandma Jane, but Ella Jane is person our great-grandmother became.

In 1883 Great-great Grandma Jane wrote

"Elgin,[Minnesota], Nov. 8th, 1883

No cyclone here Sept 21st as predicted but one passed over us eastward, striking [illegible] in Wis., doing much damage. My health is quite poor and I feel it s my duty to divide some precious things that were our mothers. I am growing old. Soon the places that know us now will know us no more." This "predicted" cyclone would have been the one everyone feared after the devastating ones of July 21st and August 21st of the two months previous. Little did she know that her life would become easier as time went on. In spite of her feeling old and her own "prediction," she lived almost three more decades until February 1912 -- a few months before her granddaughter, my grandmother, Susan Rosina, graduated from high school. She had a long time to live before it was her turn to be the one passing on.

I'm loving reading her words, feelings her thoughts and feeling our hearts reaching out to each other across the century. Perhaps from the gates of heaven now, along with Grandma Susan and her son, my Dad, Great-great Grandma Jane watches me read her words and knows that all of them, and the rest of the family who are already there, live on in my heart. As Grandma Jane said when her sister passed on, "I trust to meet you there with many loved ones gone before."

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Inadequate Prayer Study

This morning I heard a segment on the radio about how a ten year study had shown that prayer really didn’t make any difference in the health of heart bypass patients. Apparently there were three groups, those who knew they were being prayed for; those who thought they might or might not be, who weren’t; and those who thought they might or might not be who were. What was reported was that there wasn’t much difference between the two groups who might have been prayed for, but that there were actually more complications for those who knew they were being prayed for than the other two groups.

There is a major flaw in this study; actually there are three major flaws in this study. The first is the fact that they were talking about whether or not prayer made a difference. Their pray-ers were three groups of Christians, two catholic and one protestant who prayed specific printed prayers for the persons in question.

Here is the first major flaw. There was no way to control for variables in this study. I find it hard to believe that those who were “maybe” prayed for had no people in their lives that didn’t care whether they lived or died. Just because no “official” person prayed for them, doesn’t mean that there weren’t family or friends who were fervently praying for them. In fact, knowing that there might only be a possibility, not a certainty that an official praying group might pray for their loved one, they might have been more likely to spend time praying themselves. For the group that “definitely” had an official group praying for them, perhaps the people who really loved them just trusted in those official prayers and failed to add their own petitions for their loved ones health.

And this gives rise to the second major flaw. It was said that the prayers were all printed out and read by those who prayed. So did they actually mean those prayers? What makes prayer effective anyway? Doesn’t it have to do with actually believing that there is a listener out there to whom one can appeal when the possibility or certainty of losing someone you love looms? The official Word on the subject is that it is “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man (no gender) avails much.” We can hope that the official pray-ers were righteous, but can we, with any certainty, say that they were fervent. Was it their father or mother who was hovering by death’s door? Was it a face that they loved that might never come home, or just a name on a piece of paper?

This brings us to the last major flaw. The God part. The study sounds like they expect prayer to be a little formula that obligates the Master of the Universe to take note and to do what we want. When we pray are we just reading words on a page and putting in our time, or do we actually believe that we are communicating with a Being dramatically unlike us, but a knowable Person who can touch our heart of anxiety as well as the body of the person for whom we pray – a Person who cares for even the individual sparrow, and “how much more” for us who have so little faith.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Late Christmas at Work

Every year at Christmas time, our office managers purchase beautiful poinsettias which are placed stategically throughout the office to make things festive. Every January it seems such a waste to toss these beautiful plants just because the holiday season is past. A co-worker of mine is simply the best at keeping poinsettia greenery alive and has a three year old plant still thriving. So, following her example last year, I continued watering mine. As the season progressed, the red leaves (are they leaves, bracts, something else??) died off and were replaced by new growth.

The plant thrived throughout the year. The first half of last year it had a very sunny location, facing southwest, but then I moved to a different office with only a northern exposure. The other interesting feature of my new office is that is gets very warm during the day. The best attempts at moderating the heat are futile. It seems to be all or nothing. So we make it a point to wear layered outfits so that we can be dressed for any of winter, spring, summer or fall on any given day. Well, the northern exposure, the stifling warm days, followed by cool evenings and actually quite chilly weekends (when the heat hardly comes on) and being watered lightly twice a week must have just been the ticket for the poinsettia of Christmas 2004. Near the middle of January 2006, I noticed a few tiny buds on the ends of some branches and slowly the new growth turned out to be red. This pattern has continued with the magnificent display of a full five flowering branches and maybe even a couple more to come.

I am delighted to share with you my very first poinsettia display, grown at work! I've never had a poinsettia ever re-bloom, particularly with enthusiasm. As it has gotten the new red leaves, it has been losing the old green ones, so it is getting a little straggly looking again. Perhaps this year I'll start my first attempt at cutting it back and trying this again next year. Of course, it might be 2008 before it is ready to bloom again. We'll see how it does - or if it lives that long. Poinsettia's are generally rather cranky plants and I find it hard to believe I could keep one happy for years. But here's to this year's success!!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Evenings with Friends

One of the things that I have come to appreciate most in life is sitting around with friends over dinner. Friday night we had three friends over; one coworker family and one former coworker. Our dog even had a social evening as former coworker brought little Mr. Tucker along and the two dogs had a delightful evening chasing each other around the yard or the house with hard-earned intervals of little naps between romps. I made the main course and garlic bread and guests brought salad, desert and wine. Conversations ranged over lighthouses (no surprise), stamps, garden plants, seashells, work, arrowheads, and antique furniture. We laughed and talked and told stories of both shared experiences and individual adventures over the years.

At our church we also have informal dinners called "Dinner for Eight at Six." This happens once a month on a Saturday night and includes anyone who cares to sign up. There’s no agenda except getting to know each other. Couples or singles are assigned to host homes and usually about 8 people end up together, hence the name, each bringing a part of the dinner. Tonight we had our second social evening of the weekend, meeting new people and learning about new lives. Participants included gardener, firefighter, veterinarian, computer geek, accountant, bookkeeper, adoption caseworker and former banker, current home school mom. Conversations ranged all through these lifetimes of experiences and we learned the things we held in common and new things about people that formerly we simply familiar faces on Sunday.

What a fun weekend. Good food, good friends, good times. Jesus said once that 'not even when a man has an abundance, does life consist in what he owns.' Our evenings were simple and in no way elegant. None of us owns a lot. But the evenings were also rich in experience and memory, filled with love and laughter and peace. A veritable feast of friendship.

And, as icing on the cake, on Friday night at our house, guess who showed up? Yes, little guy Anna, sitting on the feeder and entertaining friends with his interest in his observers. So very fortunate am I, surrounded by friends, pets and visiting little birds.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Hummingbird Treats

Shortly after we came back from the lighthouse I realized that I hadn’t seen my little hummingbird. Well, not my little pet, the hummingbird -- more as in my little master, the hummingbird. I had heard no morning clicking and nearly a week had gone by without a sighting. But I’m getting ahead of the story. For those who don’t know -- Anna’s Hummingbirds winter over here in the Pacific Northwest, near the water which moderates the lower temperatures. Our other local hummingbird, the Rufus, heads south when conditions start becoming inhospitable. Last summer we had several Anna’s hummingbirds that had frequented our feeder and one apparently decided to winter over at our multiplex bird bistro.

We keep our hummingbird feeders filled throughout the year. One week during early January and another during mid February, we had unseasonably low temperatures. For us unseasonably merely requires that temperatures fall below freezing during the night. The first week night temperatures dipped consistently into the mid twenties. In February the temperatures made it into the mid and high teens and some days didn’t make it above freezing all day (wow!!). During these cold spells the nectar in the feeders would freeze. Every evening I brought in one feeder to keep from freezing. Our normal winter routine has our household up before sunrise, but by nearly 7:00 when the sun was finally coming up; I’d take out the feeder with the warm sugar nectar and exchange it for the frozen one hanging in the tree. “Little guy” Anna proved to be a quick study! After a couple of mornings of sitting on the feeder contemplating cold food in crystal form, and then discovering that a warm breakfast was served shortly thereafter, he developed an expectation. After those couple days I’d come out on the deck in the morning to a series of rapid little clicks and the small hummer bouncing around in the plum tree. I’d mimic “clicking” back in an attempt to say good morning and I’d get a series of clicks in reply. I have no way of knowing if a strict translation would be closer to “hurry up slowpoke!” or “oh thank you, great exalted provider.” The former strikes me as more likely. Usually he would sit on the feeder until I came close and then fly just a few feet away up into the plum tree. After the feeder exchange was made, and I got two or three yards away, he’d swoop right to the feeder and get drinking. I’d hurry back inside where it was warm and join him in a warming drink with a toast of my morning coffee!

While we were at the Lighthouse we left all the bird feeders filled to the brim. The temperatures didn’t drop very low and there was no need for our house sitter to add hummingbird care to her list of animal husbandry. When we came back home, several mornings went by with no sightings of the little guy. I began to get worried. Had he died? Had the cat eaten him? Had he felt neglected and gone into decline? There were no little clicking sounds, no little buzzing noises as he rocketed from tree to tree past my ear. Oh, no, I began to think – something has happened to him. Fortunately, my beginning foray into mourning was transformed into happiness when at the end of the week, at last, there he was, sitting at the feeder and clicking loudly. He hasn’t been around much but now that there are trees blooming all over the neighborhood, perhaps fresh flower fare has more appeal. Happy spring, our hummingbird is just fine!

One Sunday in the middle of my constant hummingbird care, I thought of the verse that talks about how God answers our prayer before we ask. I realized that God looks out for me, in advance of my mornings, just like I looked out for “little guy Anna hummingbird.” I thought about him, made preparations evening and morning, and brought the warm and ready food when the freeze came. God has always met my needs, often before I realized there was even a need. It’s comforting to realize that the Lord actually thinks about me when I’m not thinking about Him. How strange and wonderful. I’m sure my little hummingbird thinks I’m pretty amazing, stepping out of the great tan wood and glass "unknown" to meet his needs. How similar when God, who is so great and so unknowable, steps out of His home and Jesus comes and meets me where I have need. And all my "clicking"? Well, sometimes it’s, ‘thank you, thank you, oh Great and Glorious” but also it’s quite often “Hey, what’s taken so long, where have you been, why am I stuck in this terrible situatio, don't you care about me????” -- when I’ve no idea how dear to His heart I am.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Teenage Engineering Marvel

While staying at the Lighthouse, A and B first gathered driftwood on the beach and built a fort. It was very sturdy, and they could stand on the roof. Once that project was completed, A started building a tipi. Everything she used in the construction of said tipi was found on the beach. She started with a center pole, anchored deep in the sand and surrounded by battered and broken tree rounds that had washed ashore on some high tide. She then leaned tall driftwood poles into the center and tied them together with sea battered rope. She then added cross piece supports between the poles and tied them on with wet kelp. The seaweed dried and tightened. She left an entrance. The only potential covering she found on the beach was one dead seal but, not surprisingly, wasn’t willing to take the obvious next step to use that windfall! The following night we were treated with increasingly howling winds from the southeast and the morning brought dramatic whitecaps. The winds held steady most of the day between 40-45 miles per hour, with gusts into the 50’s. A’s solitary tipi stood firm against those and the high gusts of 58 mph without even a shudder. It was a grand engineering achievement and we were all impressed. Alas, the tipi and fort had to be gone by the time we left the Lighthouse since Fish and Wildlife don’t approve of structures. But nothing was used in this that wasn’t already a part of the beach.

Not a trace remains, just like none remains of all the S’Klallam and other native members who would rest at the Spit on their long hauls around and across the Straits. The Lighthouse has stood since 1857 and throughout that 149 years many keepers have stood on the tower, polished brass, cleaned windows and watched for ships in distress. Many keepers have washed dishes at the kitchen sink and looked across the Straits toward the lights of Victoria. Many a sailor, ship large or small, has been oriented by the sight of the light or comforted by the boom of the foghorn through the damp and starless darkness. Many of them have disappeared into history and we short term keepers will follow. But their work remains and their laughter, struggles, tears, and joy linger. They touch us in the breeze on a sunny day and in the warmth and peace found in the keeper’s house while the storms and winds rage outside and the light stands as always, shining 17 miles out to sea.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Worlds Best Week

There is nothing like staying at the New Dungness Lighthouse. Ahh, such solitude at the end of a six mile sandspit, almost completely surrounded by Straits and Bay. A "working vacation" means we give a few tours, polish brass, and clean the windows of the tower. Offsetting these little tasks are hours of walking on the beach, eagles, seals, dunlin, sanderling, pink sunrises and glorious sunsets, starfish and hermit crabs. The first two days you can feel your muscles loosen and you find yourself taking deep relaxing breaths and often slipping into short snoozes mid-day while reclining on couch or on porch Adirondack chairs. Evenings bring family movies, games of scrabble or take-two. When occasional strong storm winds howl around the tower, we remain snug in the keepers house.
Ah, keeping at the lighthouse certainly makes for the Best Week in the World.


Where It All Begins

After months of considering starting a blog, I'm at the very beginning stages. A new adventure begins. I refuse to be intimitdated by all this technology any longer. Yes, this "old dog" will learn new tricks!