Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Freshly Homemade Lemonade

Freshly homemade lemonade served over ice is a delight of summer. Andrea picked a grocery bag of lemons from our backyard tree, and hand-squeezed each one. I mixed in super-fine sugar and water in equal proportions, to taste. The result is smile-inducing, thirst-quenching sugary magic. Add a sprig of fresh mint for special zing.

Send emails to

This is news?

The peppy news anchor recited with fresh energy this morning's local disasters and overnight robbery in a 7-11 store....big-rig freeway accident that killed a motorcyclist....round-up of illegal aliens at a Santa Ana apartment....a shooting in Los Angeles....June gloom weather report.

This is news? Here in Southern California?

This is neither new nor news. This is daily reality. News will be when one of these stories doesn't happen. My only question is....why did I waste 15 precious minutes watching it?

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Perfect Salmon-Pink Polish

Her dainty pink lips smiled sparingly, as her pool-blue eyes surveyed the woman at her feet. Her straight blond hair was neatly tucked behind pearl-studded ears, and topped with a peach-and-pink flowered floppy hat that matched her designer spaghetti-strap sun dress. Her salmon-pink nail polish was still drying.

She tucked her right foot up closer to inspect the fresh polish. She quietly pointed out a flaw. Please do it over.

The older Asian woman bowed her head over the toenail, wiped it clean, and carefully, daintily, slowly brushed on salmon-pink with a soft single stroke.

She lifted her foot again...inspected. Yes, better, she silently nodded her approval.

She was in no hurry....she had no place to go. And she wanted a perfect polish. After all...what's the rush? Her mother was not done, yet. And she's only 6 years old.

Send emails to

Friday, June 25, 2004

Alanis Morissette, Pastor

Alanis Morissette, exuberant and wildly popular rock star, songwriter of angst-filled musings set to off-kilter tunes, recently decided that she had reached special heights of spiritual wisdom. So she went online to investigate her options. She found a fast-track cyber seminary, and was ordained 4 days later. She is now legally permitted to perform marriages and similar binding ceremonies. She recently presided over the marriage of two dear friends.

Another example of the secular nature of our government, giving equal opportunity to all religions, and favoritism to none, whether real or phony.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Spirited Wonderment in My Mind's Eye

" It rests with every professor of the religion of Jesus to settle within himself to which of the two religions, that of Jesus or that or Paul, he will adhere. "

Jeremy Bentham, renowned 18th century English philosopher and Oxford University professor

This fascinating thought has a grip on my imagination. It's sparked all sorts of spirited wonderment in my mind's eye. It's taken days for me to gather the courage to express this radical seed in public writing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Summer for an In-Betweener

She has baked cookies, read a book, visited a girlfriend, hosted a girlfriend, practiced guitar and played with the dog. She has been to a pool party, talked on the phone, watered our vacationing neighbor's plants, and, in her opinion, cleaned her room.

On her summer calendar are more pool parties and Bible studies, a family wedding in Colorado, her long-desired lacrosse camp, Anaheim Angel games, a church beach retreat, and maybe a trip to Portland to study guitar with her Fender-exec uncle. She often visits her sister (and now new husband) each August in the Bay Area. We will enjoy our summer tradition of library trips, movie matinees and picnics in the park.

But she's too young to go places without an adult. Too young to set an independent schedule. Even too young to volunteer at the library. At almost 13, she's now too old to "go play" at boys' homes, even if they'e pals. She's too old to be satsified with "Go ride your bike." She's far too old to be occupied by Disney movies and a nap.

She is a in-betweener. She is bored. And summer is only 13 days old.


Send emails to

Monday, June 21, 2004

Dads Get the Short End of the Stick Again

"Fathers in the United States often get the shorter end of the stick. Mother's Day is the busiest day of the year for florists and long distance phone companies. Father's Day is the day on which the most collect phone calls are made."

From the June 20, 2004 issue of my fave daily email, "The Writer's Almanac" by Garrison Keillor. My morning coffee ritual is not complete without "The Writer's Almanac."

The Apostle Paul Speaking in 1956

"Americans, I must remind you, as I have said to so many others, that the church is the Body of Christ. So when the church is true to its nature, it knows neither division nor disunity. But I am disturbed about what you are doing to the Body of Christ. They tell me that in America, you have within Protestantism more than 256 denominations. The tragedy is not so much that you have such a multiplicity of denominations, but that most of them are warring against each other with a claim to absolute truth. This narrow sectarianism is destroying the unity of the Body of Christ. You must come to see that God is neither a Baptist nor a Methodist; He is neither a Presbyterian nor a Episcopalian. God is bigger than all of our denominations. If you are to be true witnesses for Christ, you must come to see that, America.

But I must not stop with a criticism of Prostestantism. I am disturbed about Roman Catholicism. This church stands before the world with its pomp and power, insisting that it possesses the only truth. It incorporates an arrogance that becomes a dangerous spiritual arrogance. It stands with its noble Pope who somehow rises to the miraculous heights of infallibility when he speaks. But I am disturbed about a person or an institution that claims infallibility in this world. I am disturbed about any church that refuses to cooperate with other churches under the pretense that it is the only true church. I must emphasize the fact that God is not a Roman Catholic, and that the boundless sweep of His revelation cannot be limited to the Vatican."

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, in his speech entitled "Paul's Letter to American Christians, November 4, 1956."

Find it. Read it. It's brilliant and blessed.

Send emails to

Thursday, June 17, 2004

War Crimes Exemption

The United States asked the UN for an unprecedented 3rd one-year exemption from international prosecution for war crimes, presumably for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The current exemption expires on June 30. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is against continuing to make the United States above international law. As of today, the US doesn't have enough votes to support its motion to exempt US troops from prosecution for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

I agree with Kofi Annan. No country, no political leader, no person should be given license to commit atrocities against be above the be above basic human decency and respect. God created all men equal. No one man is better than another. Let each man bear the consequences of his behavior.

One question....does the fact that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld asked for a war crimes exemption in advance of our occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan mean that they anticipated that our "Peacekeepers" would be committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Small Lessons Learned this Week, and It's Only Tuesday

Peanut butter and scanners don't work well together. Maybe I really should take a lunch break away from my desk.
Baseball has a traditional 14th inning stretch. Most of us don't know that, as we're fortunate (or unfortunate?)enough to not have attended a 14-inning game. Especially one that your team lost by one run after 15 innings.
AOL's child controls work. I know because Andrea told me that it "really blocks a lot of stuff." Hmmm.....
Spontaneity is hard for a tired husband settling in for a quiet Sunday afternoon on the couch, even if it's to surprise him with baseball tickets to see his fave team.
Friendly neighbors and good friends are grace notes from God. They can be as important as family.
You don't realize how much you rely on email until the system goes down for a day. someone?
Two 8th grade girls can make an excellent cake without me hovering over them. Good luck getting a decent-sized piece, though. Apparently, the reward is in the eating.

Send emails to

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Keeping Secrets

By the time Ron reads this on Monday, it won't be a secret. We're surprising him tomorrow after church with coveted tickets to the Angels - Chicago Cubs game at 1 PM. An early Father's Day gift. It's sooooo hard for me to keep this fun secret from him. He should be stunned.

It would be keep a serious or dark secret from him. How do people live with that duplicitous tension? I can't imagine.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Eulogies by Lady Thatcher and President Bush

The eulogy of President Ronald Reagan by Lady Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of Great Britain, was heartfelt and exquisitely eloquent. It was all the more poignant for being pre-recorded due to her ill health. It'll long be remembered as one of the great speeches of the 21st century. It helped me understand his greatness despite his many failings.

In not-surprising contrast, President George Bush's eulogy was rambling, unfocused and didn't ring as genuine. To his credit, it wasn't overtly political, except for one mean-spirited jab: he paid brief indirect tribute to former Presidents Carter and Bush, but deliberately ignored supreme narcissist, Bill Clinton. It'll be hilarious to watch Bill take political revenge for this public oversight during the upcoming campaign season.

How sad that the main eulogy, by the Rev. John Danforth, was the most uninspiring of the day.

Send emails to

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Sweet Moments of Life

Bluest skies, summery warm sunshine with a light breeze, emerald green trees swishing and swaying, brightly colored balloons bobbing in the wind, family and friends quietly laughing and chatting while middle schoolers take their seats at graduation. Earnest speeches, well-deserved awards, gaily-ribboned flowers, cameras whirring, hugs and tears and congratulations.

Something has ended, yet it's only a beginning.

Such are sweet moments of life.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Book Review #1 for Summer Reading 2004

Have you ever had a book unexpectedly captivate you.....grab your heart and soul and mind? I bought about 80 books from the estate of a bona fide intellect, a great reader and a Christian. I've since sold most of his books on eBay, but a few seem too fascinating to depart with.

One of his books speaks clearly to me, as if the Holy Spirit is blowing through my very being. (I don't want to put it down and take care of daily life. Have you ever felt like that? ) The author is the Rev. Kirby Page (1890 - 1957), a Disciple of Christ minister, pacifist, social evangelist and writer. The book is "Living Creatively," in which he sets forth his ten commandments for creative living. The commandments are:

1. Relieve human misery.
2. Transform unjust social systems.
3. Gain vision and serenity through silence.
4. Seek beauty.
5. Cultivate friendship and fellowship.
6. Recover strength through penitence.
7. Explore great biographies.
8. Follow the noblest personality.
9. Cooperate creatively with God.
10. Run risks and accept penalites.
He ends with an admonishment to "make wise use of time."

My research shows that Rev. Page authored 12 books. I discovered one on eBay, and ordered it...."Living Prayerfully - How to Experience Life's Deepest Satisfactions." Can't wait to receive it. I am inspired!

Send emails to

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Ronald Reagan, Norman Rockwell Devotee.....Sort Of

Ronald Reagan was governor of California during my tenure as a UCLA undergradute. Admittedly, those were not friendly times on most college campuses for conservative politicians. Reagan was not a friend of University of California, though, or anything it stood for. I've never been able to muster up much admiration for the man.

He was a trained actor who developed a passion for conservative politics. He was comfortable on TV, of course, and had decades of experience using the media to build his career. He knew how to deliver lines when they meant nothing to him and he knew how to make his audience feel good. That's the definition of acting.

By all accounts, he was fairly egoless and had a pleasant, easygoing temperament. He was not affectionate, though, and had zero compassion for those less fortunate than him. He was never close to his children. He and Nancy shared an uncommonly close love, bound together by a need for security and comfort born of insecure childhoods. They created their own tiny universe.

His vision of America was straight out of early Norman Rockwell art, with young dating couples and boys fishing and small town doctors. Rockwell's early Saturday Evening Post covers perfectly captured the atmosphere of Reagan's cherished youth in rural Illinois. After the turbulent 1960s and 70s, we longed nostalgically for those times, and we wanted to believe Mr. Reagan that innocent times could return to America. He made us feel good again.

HIs vision of America was not the one captured in later Rockwell art, with forlorn, praying ethnic faces in "The Golden Rule" or the black schoolgirl surrounded by US marshalls in "The Problem We All Live With."

He was notoriously detached from detail, and intellectually incurious. He rarely read books, and took a nap most afternoons, even as President. As a UCLA student, I remember that university education was a low priority on his political agenda. He successfully pushed the first tuition fees for the UC and CSU systems. He fired UC President Clark Kerr, who refused to use violent force to quell legally-held student protests. Reagan attempted to bar several professorial appointments, because their views differed from his. He just didn't comprehend the role of a public university in a democratic society.

What bothered me most about Ronald Reagan, American political leader, was his shallowness in dealing with many issues. If it wasn't his passion, it didn't exist in his world. And he had few passions. For instance, the down and out were not of concern to Mr. Reagan. According to the LA Times, families living below the poverty line increased by 1/3 under Reagan economic policies. He radically cut federal funds for medical care for the poor. He simply turned thousands of mental patients out into the streets with his budget cuts. He refused funding for the fledging disease AIDS, when a small amount of funding could have inhibited its expansion.

He said in 1984 on the TV show Good Morning America, "You can't help those who simply will not be helped. One problem that we've had, even in the best of times, is people who are sleeping on the grates, the homeless who are homeless, you might say, by choice." Again in 1988 when campaigning for reelection as President, he said of his opponent, "You know, if I listened to him long enough, I would be convinced that people are homeless, and people are going without food and medical attention, and that we've got to do something about the unemployed."

President Reagan was an affable man with a genial smile, a gracefully humble sense of humor, and a love of jelly beans, shoot-em-up Western movies and his Nancy. He demonstrated an unyielding commitment to defeating Communism. He was the right, uncomplicated man at the right time to accelerate the end of the Cold War.

But unlike Norman Rockwell, he had no heart.

Send emails to

Thursday, June 03, 2004

The WalMart Dilemma

WalMart exploits its labor force, circumvents pesky local laws and city councils whenever possible, low-balls grocery prices to drive competitors out of the neighborhood, and creates perpetual traffic snarls. Parking spots are close to impossible to find. WalMart pays poverty level wages to many store employees and has repeatedly been cited for violating federal and state overtime regulations. Thousands of illegal aliens recently found working at WalMart stores across the country, were often paid below minimum wage levels and required to work all-night back-to-back shifts in locked stores. The Wall Street Journal hails WalMart as the retailer that singelhandedly caused millions of middle class American jobs to morph into lower class and poverty-level wages.

But have you seen their prices?

Ron and I went to a WalMart last night. I'd gone there alone twice before, and found it bewildering....crowded, noisy and confusing, with a healthy dose of claustrophobic. It's like wandering around with a crowd in a giant, messy closet. Both times, I left within 15 minutes and never got past the front of the store. (Still have no idea what they sell in the back.) We bought a few household essentials...shampoo, dog food, laundry detergent... and saved about 40% from Albertson's and SavOn prices.

For any family on a budget, 40% is a meaningful savings. What's a family to do? No one likes WalMart's business practices. They do like feeding and clothing their families, putting ever-more-expensive gas in the car tank, and paying their rising utility bills during these times of high unemployment and job market restructuring. It's a luxury to live by one's unaffordable luxury for most families.

I have no suggestions to cure this classic capitalistic dilemma of profits over basic respect and compassion. I just know that like citizens in towns across the country, I would vote against letting a WalMart move into my town. But once it inevitably opened, I would shop there.

WalMart banks on that.

Send emails to

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The Color of Justice

"The color of justice is green."

Johnnie Cochran, TV legal analyst, bestselling author, wildly successful attorney and OJ "dream team" member

Show me an example within the US legal system in the last 10 years that contradicts this sad statement.


I so want this to be untrue.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

There Are Only Two Emotions

It didn't make sense to me when I first read it last week....."There are only two and fear. In every relationship and situation, you're always moving toward one or the other."

The more I apply it to everyday life, the more I see the wisdom of these insightful words. They've helped me to recognize fear in innumerable forms, and to move it back into love. I had no idea that fear was so pervasive in life.