Saturday, August 30, 2008


Any illusion we have that we are in control is just that - illusion. It's like trying to tame the wind.

Hang on and enjoy the ride.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Time is money.

At least that's what they say in America.

In other parts of the world, time is time and money is money. There's no practical way to trade one for the other.

Even after being back in the states as long as I was gone, I still find myself struggling with converting time to money. Maybe that's why I find such pleasure in doing things that don't necessarily pay for themselves.

Take gardening. The payoff for hours and weeks and months of work and waiting comes in a crop that would be cheaper at the farmers' market. But the satisfaction I get from harvesting and eating food I planted is worth the work.

Take garage saling. There's no guarantee you'll find a treasure every time you go out, but the pleasure of the hunt makes the day worthwhile.

Take dumpster diving, Sara's term for digging for treasures at our Goodwill outlet store, which we did yesterday afternoon. We dug and sorted and looked and laughed. It took a good part of the afternoon, but I found enough clothes for the kids to get us through the next season, some books for some missionary kids, a fun Christmas decoration (still in its box), and a radio headset for my husband to wear while he works.

Price: $20 + 3 hours
Payoff: the thrill of the hunt

Girls Night Out

It's amazing to me how a group of serious, composed women can transform itself into a pack of silly gigglers when the kids and husbands aren't around.

That's what happened last night when I joined 6 of my friends (aged 30-something to 60-something) at the theater to watch Mamma Mia! First off, let me say that Pierce Brosnan in a musical was exactly what I dreamed it would be. But Meryl Streep was great and the humor in movie had us all cackling like a bunch of hens. (side note: there was enough inappropriate content that I was glad my mother wasn't watching it with me.)

No, more like giggling like a bunch of teenagers.

It felt good to laugh. I should do that more often.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

In Memory

Mom's only brother, Sam, passed away today after and long, traumatic illness. To the many of you who prayed for him over the past few months, thank you so much.

I always thought it was cool to have an Uncle Sam. We used to shout, "Uncle Sam! Uncle Sam! May we cross your river dam?" in the dusky midnight of Alaskan summers. Maybe no one else was thinking about a real uncle Sam, but I was.

I didn't grow up around Sam and his family, but on our summer visits to California's Central Valley, I collected a heart full of memories. Two smells come to mind - cows and chocolate. It was fun to visit Sam's farm and drink goat milk like Heidi of Switzerland fame, pet the chinchillas in the barn, and moo to the cows. To drive between Grandma and Grandpa's place and Sam's place, we had to go right past the Hershey factory. I'd always look up at the kiss-shaped streetlights and gulp in great big breaths of chocolate air. Sometimes we even got to go in the factory and watch them make delicious wonderments like Hershey bars and Reese's Pieces.

I don't think the temperature ever dropped below 100 on those summertime visits. But in the winter, the valley is damp and foggy. Early morning light barely presses its way through the mist to reveal the silhouettes of hundreds of birds nesting in the trees about the farm. But inside Sam's house, it was always toasty warm.

And Sam always had a special way of greeting us. A special treat, a trip to the fruit stand, a cherry picking trip, a breakfast out at Brian's place, Sam loved to share the things he loved. A favorite memory is of going out to a restaurant when our twins were 2. We'd just come from Africa and the kids had never seen helium balloons before. Sam got them each a balloon and they thought he'd hung the moon.

In recent years, it's been fun during our rare visits to share book recommendations. Sam loved a good read, both for himself and for the many young minds he guided as a school librarian.

I'd appreciate continued prayers, especially for my mom and for Sam's wife and children. And if you've got anyone in your family you haven't hugged lately, do it soon.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

The Day After and the Elixir of Life

I awoke this morning to an impressive symphony of lightning, thunder and car alarms. A peek out the window tells me the 100 degree weather this week is doing wonders for pinking up the tomatoes. A cool breeze sneaks in through open windows.

I'm going to go make a pot of tea (thanks, M & D!) in my new French press (thanks, L!) and dream about sharing more cups of tea or coffee at Starbucks and Peet's (Thanks, P, G, D and E!)

I have an unscheduled day ahead of me (Thank heavens!) which I hope to spend with family and with a manuscript that needs polishing.

What are you doing today?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Black Streamers and the Kiss of Death

It's my birthday.

I came home from lunch to a house covered in black crepe paper streamers and signs announcing my age to the world.

Thanks, oh sibling who might receive the self-same signs in the not-so-distant future. You shouldn't have. No, I mean it. You SHOULDN'T have.

Can I really be halfway through? Is this mid life? Or is it true what they say? Is this the new 30?

I know some of you are approaching some milestones. How are you feeling? Is it just a number? Or is it the beginning of the end?

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Social Scene

This has been a very social couple of weeks for us. We've had people drop in from out of town... and from out of country. We've had kids spend the night and company over for dinner several tiems.

And we've been graced with a visit from a little guy who will be part of our lives for a very long time to come. Meet Elijah.

Eli is a month old now and completely portable. (My brother's first child and the first grand-SON on my side of the family) We took him to REI and Powell's books yesterday.

You never saw so many Portlandians so eager to hold doors, step aside, even gawk.

One woman with an Andy Warhol book the size of a small office building did a complete about-face to get a closer look at the baby.

At this age, even the screaming and diapers are cute. At least they are when you're the auntie who always has the option of handing him back.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Making Lemonade

At a birthday party last night, the guest of honor opened a gift that had already been used. Not just used, used up. I'm guessing the gift came from a garage sale and the givers didn't know it was already used. When the birthday boy discovered it (after the givers left), all the other adults made suggestions of how he could enjoy the parts that were left.


The squirrels are back. Technically, they never left. They've spent the summer preparing places in the garden to bury walnuts. And now the fantastic feat of removing every single walnut from both huge trees begins. Maybe I could try loving squirrels more than I love walnuts. Or carnations. They eat those, too.


My friend came home from Alaska with 50 pounds of halibut. 3 of the vacuum sealed bags didn't seal, so that fish needs to be eaten right away. Darn. We're having halibut for lunch today.


I love the redemption themes that run throughout the stories God writes, both in in the Bible and in the lives of his people. He takes things that are broken or missing parts and makes them whole. He takes garbage and makes it into art. He restores, renews, refreshes, redeems, recycles.

He takes the bitter and makes it sweet.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Life Lessons

I bought the wrong brand of toilet paper.

24 rolls.

It was on sale.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

In Memory

I may have learned more from Angie Long than from almost anyone else, though I don't know if I ever had her as a teacher.

In a culture where all adults went by Mr. or Mrs., I can't remember ever calling Angie anything but Angie Long - first and last names together, always. She was the woman at church who was happy to let me sit by her.

4th row back on the gospel side, Angie Long always had gum in her purse, as well as a pencil stub and paper and a little metal number puzzle. A little girl's dream.

She'll probably be best remembered for her pies, especially her chocolate cream pie. And I'll always remember her for her hospitality. Whenever we went to dinner at her house (fried chicken, mashed potatoes and, of course, pie), she made us kids feel welcome. I remember playing with the legos in the basement, match-box cars, and a huge plastic coke bottle. Even if Mom and Dad talked forever, Angie Long had things for us to do. A game of aggravation could last the whole evening.

It's hard to imagine Juneau without Angie. She lit up those dark winters. Our love and prayers go out to her family, both physical and spiritual. She'll be dearly missed.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

the More Things Stay the Same

This is my favorite picture of my husband from the olden days, snapped at a picnic not long before I met him. I think it captures his smile and his ease.

Our youngest was looking at this photo the other day.

"I never saw this picture of Daddy before," she said.

I was surprised she recognized him.

"Does it look like him?" I asked.

"A little. And I recognize his shirt!"
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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Pretend Money

When I went to upgrade my cell phone the other day, the salesman went on and on about what a great deal I was getting, saving hundreds of dollars. Thing is, I expected to get a free update, so in my mind, any money I spent was more than I planned on.

So, even though I was "saving" money, I was really spending it.

Have you ever seen Deal or No Deal? It's interesting to watch the way people react to the numbers on the board. Say a player gets an offer of $120,000 but opens some cases that drive the next offer down to $90,000. Invariably, the play feels like he's lost $30,000 and has to keep playing until he gets that money back.

The money was never his in the first place! Until it's in hand, it's imaginary money. My advice... take the deal! (One of many reasons I'll never be on that show. I wouldn't be able to sustain the drama.)

It's been interesting to watch reports on the high price of gas. I know it's affected us all and has driven up the cost of groceries and other goods, but it seems like our thinking on gas prices is warped. People will drive across town to save 3 cents a gallon, easily spending more on fuel to get to the distant gas station than they're saving.

Buy One, Get One Half Off! The posters at the shoe store scream. What a bargain. I'm saving so much. Only I don't need two pair of shoes. So I can spend $20 for the pair of shoes I need, or $30 to go home with that pair plus another that wasn't on my list. Why can't I just take 25% off the first pair? That's the same thing, right? But psychologically, it feels like I'm getting a good deal.

Only as soon as you hand over the cash or swipe the card, it's not pretend money any more.