Saturday, April 29, 2006

Go See "Akeelah and the Bee"

Just got back from seeing the new film, Akeelah and the Bee, with Andrea. I have to tell's the best film I've seen in a few years. Film critic Roger Ebert was absolutely correct when he awarded it his highest rating.

Akeelah and the Bee is about triumph and compassion, the healthy balance of education and humor, the importance of parental love and support, and about valuing others. And.....get this.....this sparkling film is never boring. It unexpectedly touched both Andrea and me.

Akeelah and the Bee has my A+ recommendation. Go see it!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

My New Side Gig

For the next few months, I'm earning a bit extra for my family by blogging at's Guide to Diabetes, until they find a permanent guide for that site.

Join me there, and learn more about Ron and me, and about keeping diabetes at bay. It's been part of our daily lives since Ron was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic eight years ago.....and we've learned a lot about health and wellness.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

April Tulips

Flower god, god of the spring, beautiful, bountiful,
Cold-dyed shield in the sky, lover of versicles,
Here I wander in April

Cold, grey-headed; and still to my
Heart, Spring comes with a bound,
Spring the deliverer,Spring, song-leader in woods, chorally resonant;
Spring, flower-planter in meadows,
Child-conductor in willowy
Fields deep dotted with bloom, daisies and crocuses:
Here that child from his heart drinks of eternity:
O child, happy are children!
She still smiles on their innocence,
She, dear mother in God, fostering violets,
Fills earth full of her scents, voices and violins:
Thus one cunning in music
Wakes old chords in the memory:
Thus fair earth in the Spring leads her performances.
One more touch of the bow, smell of the virginal
Green - one more, and my bosom
Feels new life with an ecstasy.

--- Robert Louis Stevenson

Photo of Oregon 2006 Tulip Festival, courtesy of Patricia Marchetti (my daughter!)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Summer 2006 Fiction Selections

I read most non-fiction quickly, skimming for new facts and knowledge relevent to my info needs. Biographies and some histories are read at a more normal pace, but still not savored as an experience. And from September through May, I read mainly non-fiction and the Bible. That's it.

It's a time thing, and a priority thing. Perhaps this will change when we're empty-nesters in three years. But for now, with our busy lives and my professional obligations, that's the deal.

But the summer is an entirely different matter.

Little is more pleasing to me on a warm summer day than sitting on the slouchy couch in the living room, mint iced tea at hand, a sweet breeze wafting gently through the open front window, as I vacation in imaginative fiction, read pleasingly slow.

Today, I selected my summer 2006 reading....and I'm beside myself with self-indulgent anticipation. I'm reading a 1,067-page anthology of sixteen short novels by some of my favorite classic American writers.....John Steinbeck (Tortilla Flats),Willa Cather (My Mortal Enemy), Edith Wharton (The Old Maid), Mark Twain (Pudd'n Head Wilson)....and a few internatonal authors I that I've longed to meet, most notably Albert Camus and Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Been feeling down and a bit dry lately, and it hit me that I need to live my life with more imagination and less dogged determination.

And then I remembered that I feel like this every year.....just before my annual renewal by fiction.

The anthology (Sixteen Short Novels, selected by Wilfrid Sheed) is sitting here on my desk. It's hard to wait.....:)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Times....They Are A' Changing in Our Home

Once heard a pastor preach about change. He said that it's not possible to resist change, but unhealthy people often attempt to do just that. "Life IS change," he thundered. "Get used to it."

And baby boomer poet laureate Bob Dylan sang, " For he that gets hurt; Will be he who has stalled; The times...they are a' changing."

I've worked only for myself since about 1990, with a brief exception in the mid-1990s. I'm now fulfiling my lifelong dream of being paid for my writing......making me a Professional Writer...and I love it. God has truly blessed me.

But I don't earn a lot of $$$, which frankly, doesn't bother me much. (Apparently a strange, nonconformist attitude in 21st century America....) Being heard and touching others is far more important to me than buying and having lots of new stuff. And contrary to Southern California sentiments, money is not a source of security or happiness.

(I kept telling Ron that all this top-quality, hard work will pay off someday. Not sure I really believed that.....but deep down, I clearly felt God pulling...not just along this path. I consciously chose the adventure of following God's call.)

But college tuition is looming ominously in the future for our bright high school freshman daughter. And inflation is running rampant here, while Ron;s engineer salary remains the same. It's getting harder and harder to make ends meet, visit out-of-town relatives and enjoy a quiet annual vacation, too....especially if you plan to drive.

So on Wednesday for the first time ever, I took a gander at I finally have credentials and a writing portfolio now, and I heard that is has a plethora of leads for freelance work.

For curiosity's sake, I looked at employment ads, too. And there it was...... a plum, well-paying opening at the respected regional newspaper in our area, exactly like what I do at Online news and commentary, and working with longtime print journalists to acclimate them to online pecularities. The job title is something like Senior Online Editor of News and Commentary. Honestly, I couldn't believe my eyes.

I sent an email and resume, and received a response the next day. I had a telephone interview that same evening with a top editor. Turns out we have much in common, live in the same neighborhood, even both attend a church in the same Lutheran denomination, in which he is quite active. We both commented how odd it is that someone in the neighbrohood so perfectly fits what the newspaper needs. How very, eerily odd. The chances might be a billion-to-one.

I have an interview on Wednesday afternoon with the managing editor, the editorial director, the two online editors and this director of the online team. I don't have the job...and I'm not sure how I feel about holding a job at age 54. But if it's offered to me, I will take it.

The times...they are a changing.

God always provides for our needs. God is so good!

The progression of my professional writing second-career, our family financial trials since 9/11, even our spiritual journey to be part of our new all feels very, very strongly tied-together into God's plan for something.

I've finally learned to Trust (with a capital T) and follow God's promptings.....but wouldn't it be great to know what He has in mind? :)

(US Liberals at

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Pondering Control and Connections

No, I haven't disappeared. I'm right here....but as my grandmother would say, "'s been a week!"

I've been avoiding my doctor for the last six months, working hard to bring my blood pressure back under control. My control. It flared up for the first time about six years ago. With exercise, a closer walk with God, a change of certain circumstances, and a tiny diuretic, my BP returned to normal.

But this last year, I've again struggled with it. Just as my dad did and does....just as his sisters did. Just as his mother apparently did when she died one day, standing on her farmhouse back porch while calling her family to dinner.

I could avoid the verdict no more. Saw Dr. Mutter on Monday, and yes, my blood pressure still soared at lofty, frightening heights. And I had to finally accept what I didn't want to accept: actual medication and daily BP monitoring at home.

It's admission that I can't handle it alone. It's an admission of aging. It's an admission of needing help.

I admitted it all. And the good doctor smiled at me for the first time in two years.

(Started taking the teeny white pill on Thursday. BP today is 121/84, the best it's been in I-don't-know-how-long. And I feel absolutely fine, with nary a side effect. )
OK, that's not the strange part.

Arrived home on Monday from the doctor's office, and sat down to send Ron an email at work. And our cable connection was down, which is very, very rare. Unheard of. I called the cable company, and they couldn't send a repairman until today, Saturday.

So the very week that I was forced to focus on my rethink time management and peace of ponder my passion for getting caught-up in great causes....I was also cut-off from the internet, except for inconvenient forays to the public library.

Ron said it was God.

I think Ron is correct. But it seems to me that Dr. Mutter may have secret connections to the cable company.....:)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Spirit of St. John Wooden

May the spirit of St. John Wooden bless UCLA in today's Final Four semi-final game today against LSU.

Tip-off time is 5:47 PM, Pacific time.


(I found a photo of Coach John Wooden famously holding a rolled program during a game, which was a essential part of Coach's good-luck game-day routine. This is a perfect likeness of him as he sat on the sidelines, coaching UCLA basketball. )