Saturday, April 30, 2005

Jennifer Has Some Issues

I'm strangely intrigued by the headline story of the 32 year old "runaway bride" from Georgia.

Jennifer, a long-distance runner, went out for a jog, leaving behind her engagement ring, cell phone, keys and credit cards. She hopped a Greyound bus to Las Vegas, eventually ending up in New Mexico. Along the journey, she changed her appearance by cutting her hair.

Early this morning, after four days on the run, she called 911 from an Albuquerque 7/11 store, sobbing that she was lost.

Today was to be her luxurious thousand-guest wedding, with 14 bridesmaids and a reception at the toniest country club in Atlanta.

The Baptist pastor who was to marry her today released a statement, saying that her fiance "is a man of faith" who concedes that "everyone has a right to make a mistake." The groom's mother likewise said "The heartbreak of it. He was trying so hard to be brave. I don't know how he held up."

The bride's family said only "It has been determined Jennifer has some issues the family was not aware of."


I'm praying for the lost bride.

Monday, April 25, 2005

An Old-Fashioned Coming Together of One Family's Women

In generations gone by, women of a certain age lived close to their daughters, nieces and granddaughters, and were expected to gently counsel them on cooking, keeping a home and especially on child birth and rearing.

In these days of TV and radio counselors and self-help books; when generations can live hundreds or thousands of miles from each other; when women are equally as engaged as men in careers and daytime responsibilities; when politics, religion and lifestyles separate (not heal)'s sadly rare when women of a family have occasion to lovingly pass down time-honed traditions of home and family arts.

We held a baby shower for my eight months pregnant daughter-in-law, Giovanna, last Saturday. We, meaning me, my 13 year old, my former husband's wife of 20 years and their 17 year old.

The shower was attended by 22 women...all but three of them relatives of Giovanna and Ryan, my son. Three prospective first-time grandmothers, two prospective great aunts, two new aunts, a dozen cousins. (My mother, the only living prospective great-grandmother is not healthy enough to make the trip from Colorado.)

We showered the new mother with gifts and advice. We joyfully pulled together to ensure that they have all the necessities to start life as parents. We even played a game in which she was "showered" with 25 practical nursery items, and we explained each to her.

For four hours, we laughed and chatted, ate a delicious lunch and scrumptious cake, took loads of photos, and opened dozens of presents for the baby. It was a heart-warming, fun afternoon for all, and Giovanna left feeling loved, supported, exhausted (of course) and better equipped to be a new mother.

For one afternoon, it felt like an old-fashioned coming together of one family's women to gently counsel and support the next generation.

It was delightful!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

A Disease of Insatiable, Undeniable Urgency

"It's a girl!!!" our daughter-in-law cried last night about her unborn child.

And with that, our first grandchild began to take form, shape and personality for Ron and me.

She's not due for another month, but I can't get her out of my mind. Her lovely face, her soft touch, her sweet baby scent. My arms long to hold this precious new baby. Our precious new baby. I dreamed about her last night.

During a routine check-up months ago, my doctor prophesied that I would be contracting an incurable disease this spring...the grandmother's disease. He said symptoms include an insatiable, even undeniable desire to buy cute baby things whenever I pass by a store...any store.

I'd already planned to spend all today planning and shopping for this Saturday's baby shower. But a new urgency fills my emotions.....

Babies R' Us, Target, that adorable baby boutique down the street.....

I may have contracted the disease.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Transfixed and Captivated in 1969 and 2005

The world seems as transfixed and captivated by the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI a few minutes ago as it did in 1969 when man first landed on the moon.

The moonwalk was a symbol of a bright, pioneering future, an exciting new world uniting all mankind. It was a world, born of science, of great hope and promise for technological and intellectual innovation.

The extraordinary reaction to leadership of the Roman Catholic Church is a symbol of hunger for the promise offered by its social, moral and peace-making teachings. It's a world, born of faith, of great hope and promise for peace and world stability.

The world witnessed political leaders of 70 nations, from every major faith tradition, respectfully attend the funeral for the late Pope. The world this morning celebrates the most stable succession of any world leader. An election above reproach, one that couldn't be stolen.

As a Protestant, it reminds me of the severe deficiencies of the Reformed church....the leadership vacuum, the lack of unity, the dishonesty and politics, the sad ecclesiastical splintering, the lack of respect for traditions. In fact, the general lack of respect. For others, for others' views and faiths, for peace.

At this moment, the Pope is the most powerful person on Earth not because of bombs, bribes, backbiting or battles. He is the most powerful person on Earth because of consistent moral leadership faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

In 2005, the world desperately hungers after this type of strong, peacemaking leadership.....leadership that may no longer be possible from political or Protestant leaders.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

There's No Place Like Home

In the 1980s, I traveled widely on businesss and add-on pleasure. It was great fun, but grew a bit tiresome after a decade. In 1987, I met my now second husband, and knew I wanted to choose him over my high-intensity career.

I quit that job in 1989, taking with me over 100,000 frequent flier miles. We used them in 1995 for a nearly free two-week family jaunt to Hong Kong and Honolulu. We made treasured memories, and I bought my requisite share of jewelry bargains.

Since 2000, we've been constrained in spending and travel due to closure of our beloved "" business, and several typical baby boomer-style bouts of unemployment. We've learned rich lessons about the difference between wants and needs.

To our surprise, family income may be stabilizing for the first time in five years, and even has decent growth potential. We need a couple things, but not much. We're content. A family vacation this summer would be's been a few years.

As my professional writing grows, occasional travel may again be part of my life. For one, I'll be going to Seattle for a few days in early June for an York Times regional meeting.

I want my family to go with me, but Ron has work and Andrea has school and her own activities. Business travel is just work in another place, and travel is no longer pleasurable without Ron. So my trips will be less frequent and shorter than in the 1980s. .

I would rather be home.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Of Podcasts and Comfort Zones

My age is showing.

As most of you know, I write on politics at, a division of the New York Times. I love to write...for me, it's as natural as breathing or drinking Starbucks French Roast ( or lately, Good Earth original spice tea.).

But they're now asking me, and all editors, to go beyond my cozy comfort zone. They want us to learn to create podcasts and perhaps even videos. Yikes....I only recently learned about podcasts, and a video? I'm not film-friendly. Not my thing. Can't imagine.

So, smart people that they are, they're running podcast and video contests with cash rewards. Decent rewards. A couple thousand dollars. I won't enter...I have no chance with all the tech gurus in our midst.

But I see the future, and it's electronic. I need a teenager to help me through it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Ugliness and Death in Youth Sports

As horrifying as this story is, I sadly can picture it. Andrea played softball for eight seasons, and made the all-star squad a few of those years. We saw ugly behavior from some of the "elite" players and especially their parents.

One father was renowned for using foul language, threatening words and being border-line abusive to his own daughter. As talented as his daughter was, no one wanted her on their team. Her dad was undesirable baggage.

Andrea loves the game, but quit a year ago because the pressures got worse as the players got older and closer to potential scholarship money. One girl notoriously tried to bribe her last year with more playing time as catcher in exchange for answers to a science test. Seriously. Andrea laughed at her. We wish churches sponsored girls' softball leagues....she would be the first in line.

Today, from KNBC, the Southern California NBC affiliate....

A 13-year-old boy allegedly killed another teen by hitting him in the head with a baseball bat during an argument at a concession stand after a Pony League game, authorities said Wednesday. Jeremy Rourke, 15, was pronounced dead at a hospital after the Tuesday night attack, said Brenda Shafer, a spokeswoman for the coroner's office.

A homicide investigation was underway, but the younger boy had not been arrested, said Don Manumaleuna, a sheriff's spokesman. Authorities said the boy was detained after the incident.

"He just didn't realize it, it just happened and before you know it and then like I say, I told him, 'What did you do, why did you do that?"' parent Sam Cordova said.

"I could see it in his eyes that it was starting to sink in, oh my gosh, what did I do?" Cordova said. The nature of the argument was unclear. Authorities did not know whether the boys were spectators or members of the baseball teams that had played.

The Palmdale Pony League field has a sign promoting sign-ups for boys 5 to 14 and encouraging parents to "Protect Our Nation's Youth." The city is about 40 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Girlfriends Are Cool

I just spent 90 minutes on the phone with my friend, Jeanile. It was 90 spare minutes that I didn't have and couldn't afford.....90 minutes slated for work....I can accomplish a lot in 90 minutes.

But I called her, and I'm so glad. I feel much better, and so does she. My son's difficult marriage is weighing heavily on my heart, and I had to talk it through with someone other than Ron. (We've discussed it plenty. Even during an apparently important, must-watch golf tournament with Tiger Woods.)

She and I disagree on many subjects, we don't often follow each others' suggestions, we've given each other the cooler-than-cold shoulder many times. Our families have enjoyed good times together, and we've had uncomfortable times, too. We've endured more ups and downs than a proverbial roller coaster. We never fight...we interject space and tact, when appropriate. And we always come back together again. Contentedly, like returning to family.

She and I can talk deeply, intimately, caringly about family problems and burdens, especially extended family dilemmas. Problems with mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children. Problems from yesterday and today. Even decades-old family "secrets."

I am a private person with my fair share of the world's hurts. So is she. I rarely confide to anyone my innermost worries and feelings. My facade is polished, my focus compartmentalized. And my blood pressure occasionally suffers for it.

90 minutes once or twice a month on the phone with Jeanile does more for my emotional health, and hers, than all the usual stewing, yakking, worrying and stuffing of feelings. The unplanned, unscheduled time we just spent on the phone left both of us feeling healthier, lighter, ready for the week.

Through agreement and disagreement, I am grateful for her friendship. God has blessed us both.

As my teenage daughter says, girlfriends are cool.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Watching Butterflies Drift By

For weeks now, we've seen them flutter by in flocks and in small groups. Orange and black wisps of shimmering wings, heading north. One lazy, sunny afternoon, Ron and I sat in chairs under shade trees, sipping ice water, admiring our rose garden, waving to neighbors and watching the butterflies migrating for the summer.

Today from Live Science....

Heavy winter rains have led to billions of butterflies that are beginning to descend on California in what could be a record migration.Millions of butterflies that flew into the Central Valley in the last week of March could be just the advance guard of an unprecedented hoard.

"This may be the biggest migration of modern times," said Arthur Shapiro, a professor and expert on butterflies at the University of California, Davis.

There are now reports of billions of painted lady butterflies around Trona, near Death Valley, and in the San Fernando Valley, Shapiro said. More waves of butterflies are likely to appear in central California over the next few weeks.

Painted lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) winter in the desert. As caterpillars turn into adults in the spring, they migrate north in search of food and a place to mate.

Painted ladies migrate every year, but usually in far fewer numbers. Exceptionally high winter rainfall in southern California has created a bumper crop of plants on which the caterpillars feed, Shapiro said.

The butterflies take about three days to reach the Central Valley. Some will fly on to southern Oregon to mate. Their offspring head up to British Columbia by summer, before returning south again in the fall.

Ron goes back to work on Monday after a two-month lay-off. I will miss having him at home. We have such peace just watching butterflies drift by in the breezes.....

Monday, April 04, 2005

Life is Sublime from April to October

It's akin to a miracle that we survived the boredom, but we did.

The stretch from mid-October to early April is a long one. Thank goodness there are holidays, family gatherings and what not to fill the void. Because the waiting is hard.

Our sojourn is over, though. And none too soon. The three of us are anxious. The famiily room couch has been empty, and the popcorn popper silent. And our car hardly knows the way to Anaheim anymore.

But no more. Baseball season is here!

Our champion Angels beat the Dodgers in three straight games over the weekend in the annual pre-season kick-off "freeway series."

Life is sublime once again.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Big, Dramatic Stories.....About God?

It's been nonstop.

First, it was the day after Christ's birthday, December 26, when a catastrophic Indian Ocean tsunami swallowed up to 200,000, mainly women and children.

Then it was 26 year old Ashley Smith soothing a killer into surrender by quoting from a Christian book.

Then it was the two-week death by starvation of Terri Schiavo, a severely brain-injured women who was otherwise in good health.

Today, it's protracted, moment-by-moment coverage of the dying Pope.

Since the November 2004 election, CNN, MSNBC and the rest of the cable news world have embarked on an orgy of sensationalism that rivals Jerry Springer and the tabloids. And the viewing pubic is lapping up this programming. Ratings are great.

But here's the oddly unique thing.....each obsessively-reported story has a religious twist and moral to it. It's like the public has a thirst for big, dramatic stories involving religion and God.

I don't know what it means. I'm just making an observation. Wouldn't be nice if it meant our nation was actively hungering for Christ?