Sunday, November 28, 2010


i'm going to leave up my fall decorations (no pun intended) for just a bit longer, until the end of november. then everything comes down and nothing goes up...for a while. i found an old advent journal i kept in 2001 that had, handily, exactly 25 pages in it. one way i'd like to begin these holy days is by rereading it, one page at a time.

then, after a week or so of reading and of my home being bare, i will start to decorate. the empty space reminds me to make room for the sacred. as madeleine l'engle put it, "this is the irrational season when love blooms bright and wild! had mary been filled with reason, there'd have been no room for the child."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

first real frost

bundled. i'm ready for one of my favorite things: digging up the potatoes. they are late this year, along with the winter squash that i must bring in from the cold (now there's an oxymoron).
the first frost of the year fell today.

yesterday was the my college friend's wedding. i appreciated that it was a real wedding (as opposed to a glorified "prom for grown ups"--with, sadly, about as much commitment). yesterday, by contrast was authentic, the result of patient waiting. it froze my heart by it's beauty and then melted me as i was witness to yet another aspect of God's love. i love that they weren't afraid to use scripture and U2 lyrics in their ceremony: "love and fear and sex and all the things that keep us here, in the mysterious distance between a man and a woman..."

treasures from the heart, from the ground...all evidence of a faithful harvest.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

love & squalor

i received a fall gift of wine with the label "love & squalor". even though i am an english teacher, i couldn't remember exactly what "squalor" meant. it reminded me of squall; huge strorms but no, that wasn't it. i looked it up and it actually means, "of or having to do with extreme dirt or filth." in a squalid state. that made me laugh because the label shows three little dresses neatly lined up on a clothesline.
i shall now use my new vocabulary in a sentence: after being introduced to my first two episodes of "hoarders" last week and being a neat-freak minimalist myself, i have to say that i was shocked at the squalid environments that some people willfully live in. word of the day sponsored with remind us that life is messy and best eaten over the sink! (but at least we can still find the kitchen sink, right? this spoken with empathy).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

princess shoes and widowhood

six various pink and purple sequined shoes lined my entry way. inside, crayons flew and the small owners of the shoes asked for marshmallows as the older women sipped hot spiced wine. struck by the tenderness with which my recently widowed friend held her husband's ring (newly fashioned into jewelry for her) i stood back and watched the generations mix together in my living room. a true "6-60" gathering; microcosm of shared human experience.

one of the young girls would put her shoes back on to come out and sit by the fire, pointing to the night sky and saying, "up, up! mr. moon" in all of her innocence while other guests went home to care for their aging parents. i have that small girl in me as well as an old soul. i face most every day eagerly with wide eyes. on days i don't it is my confidence in life's ability to continue rolling forward that carries me. regardless of age, in some ways, one size does fit all if we're willing to go with someone that second mile and let them walk with us.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


a treasure of a book wanted to be found by me this week. and so it was. a little tome called "potluck: parables of giving, taking and belonging". honestly, i found it at a dollar store. (sidenote: no author wants to find their book on a table at the dollar store or on a free pile at a thrift shop, but i digress). flipping it over, i discovered that it was actually valued at $12.99 and a whole $17.99 in canada. price and value relative as they are, i did my "book test". 1) feel the cover 2) open it at random 3) read selection. and it was mine for a mere $1.

she is a rich, rich writer. what made me gasp was her opening line. (i had just been to see high school friends put on a production of steel magnolias and was thinking alot about the concept). page one of unlikely book find, (and no, alert readers, i am not making this up):

"southern women with the soft beauty of a flower and the resolved strength of galvanized metal are known as 'steel magnolias'." the author, kim thomas, goes on to describe her first memories of the community of family and food. it's a perfect devotional for this thanksgiving season and helps me slow the days before advent.

is it easy being this tough and tender woman? a warrior-bride who is both sufficient and sensitive? hardly. it is painful and it is beautiful. come to the table, together we will share, over vulnerabilities, the meal of love and break the bread of thanksgiving. (hey, maybe our stories will even make it into the bargain book section of borders!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

for english teachers

(for everyone, really)
this is too true and worth watching:

30 days

a friend just introduced me to the show "30 days" and we watched, of all episodes, the one about a christian who spends a month as a muslim. i was ok and approaching things from an intellectual point of view until this scene: they are sitting around the dinner table debating holy wars and one man says, "it's not like you're going to strap a C4 to your chest and go into a night club in bali or something..." i had to pause it right there (see other blog entries). it opened the way for some great conversation about forgiveness and empathy. i highly recommend watching these mini-documentaries as a way of walking in someone else's shoes.

stormy weather

it's that time of year again! (no, not christmas, more on that later) but time for stormy weather at the oregon coast. a friend and i were intrepid travelers last weekend, walking from her condo down the streets of cannon beach to take in the weather, artistry. the rain hurt our faces and it was worth every moment. if you love storm-watching and art, you'll want to make a tradition out of going the first weekend in november. i can't wait to go back and take cooking classes at EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). it was the best: happy hours, quiet reading, bookstores, meaningful talk, great coffee at local bakeries...mostly, the company (priceless). the sky even put on a show for us the next morning with rainbows, sunrays and heart clouds! (i am not making this up)

beautiful fall adventures, all. so imagine my surprise when i went shopping today to get ready for a fall gathering i'm hosting and i could no longer find leaf-laden cups & napkins in pretty fall colors?! maybe i missed something, but we haven't had thanksgiving yet, right? all the cups and decor were about santa and snowmen. and the local mall? a giant outdoor christmas tree. i felt very out of place; i just brought in the last crop of tomatoes and am still admiring the vineyards after all! (i think it is true about leaves and life in general that sometimes they are most beautiful toward the end.) the early holly-jolly wasn't all bad, though because i have to say i did enjoy my first eggnog latte of the season. not quite ready to deck the halls, but i could take a good swing at commercialism in general. slow down and enjoy the stormy weather!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

leonardo fibonacci comes to school

i don't know that i've ever been more excited about school! our art & math unit started this week and the kids are so eager to make designs based on the number pattern discovery of leonardo fibonacci (1170-1250).
basically, if you add one number to itself starting with 0, you get the sequence for the golden ratio. plugging in 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 13, you see not only the basis for the nautilus shell spiral, but also the math behind the greek parthenon. (if you've been following my blog, you might remember i wrote a lot about my discoveries of flower petals, sunflowers and beehives this summer.)
now it's hitting the classroom: students as young as first grade already have this concept down after one class and are applying it using their shape blocks and graph paper. since i teach K-8 this year, it is fun to see what they are doing in their age-level math classes and watch their eyes light up when they see that art isn't relegated to just drawing and painting but is alive in everything from science experiments and architecture to cell structures and history class.

pied beauty

this is pretty much my view every day when i drive home, look out my window, or go for a walk! the change is electric and leaves the tips of deciduous trees looking like candle flames not to mention the eye-catching vineyards.
today on my walk i mulled over the philosophies of poet gerard manley hopkins; his view of aesthetics mainly. i've always wondered if there is change in heaven? because here, we tend to see the sorrowful sides of change (moving, age, transitions) as loss, which they often are. maybe heaven will be all about variety without the sorrow? at any rate, hopkins wrote a lot about the beauty in variety, believing that nature and life are studies in contrasts. here is his poem, "pied beauty". i love his words so much i still have them memorized:

glory be to God for dappled things--
for skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
for rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
landscape plotted and pieced--fold, fallow and plough;
and all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

all things counter, original, spare, strange;
whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
with swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change.
praise Him.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

to put courage into

the word encouragement actually means "to put courage into". i love that. and i have to share portions of a letter that i received recently. maybe it will encourage an area of your life as much as it encouraged me in my writing process.

"...your experiences are unique to you. and your story, the way you tell it, how you feel and perceive it--it is all you. it may be what someone else is looking for. we all want to feel less alone and like we aren't the only ones who feel a certain way...please keep writing because your story has not been told yet. only you can do it."