Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 New Years Wish to Stop the Planet

I've posted here very little in 2008, but not because I've lost interest. Far from it.

In fact, this blog is my favorite writing venue. But the year got away from me, I guess, buried under an avalanche of political news and profound family milestones and events.

All is well, my friends, but so much is changing. Not that change is a negative, mind you... it just is, and it's time and energy consuming.

Andrea will be leaving home and going to college in 2009, most likely to UC Berkeley, University of Chicago or Tufts University, in Boston. Possibly Swarthmore College outside Philadelphia. (I'm privately rooting for the California school. Closer to home.)

My parents celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary a month ago. All three of our parents are now in their 80s, and dealing with bewildering, slowly deterioriating health, both physical and mental.

Our two adorable grandchildren are healthy, happy toddlers. Our adult children and their spouses are caught in the inevitable whirl of career, busyness and accumulation of too much stuff.

Ron continues to take five daily medications for diabetes, and I finally succumbed this month to obtaining an official diagnosis for the family arthritis in my hips and knees.

In our family, everyone knows they are loved. There are no family feuds, and relationships are in reasonably good repair. No one lost job or home. No one is facing life-threatening disease. Most know God, some intimately. All look forward to the future. We are blessed beyond words.

Life is good, but it's ever-changing. Sometimes, I wish time could stop for a while, so I could savor, at my own pace, a non-changing snapshot of the pleasures, the pains, the beautiful collage of life.

But that's not the nature of our existence. Instead, it keeps moving forward like a mighty river. Or like a proverbial avalanche that temporarily overtakes me.

This year, my resolutions have less to do with physical tasks or relationships, and more to do with my spiritual and personal growth. One of my resolutions for 2009 is more writing here.

My wish for you in 2009 is the same: deliberate focus on personal and spiritual growth, and the time and space to do it well. And finding something you love to do as much as I love writing.

Happy New Year, and God bless you!
(Art courtesy of NASA)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Slipping Off to the Park

This morning about 8 am, while my husband and daughter slept in, I slipped off to the local park a few blocks from our home for a sunshine-filled walk....something I rarely do.

And it was lovely, of course. Our park is smallish, with gentle green slopes surrounding a lake filled with ducks, geese and assorted other water bird, and stocked with trout and catfish. Tall, aging eucalyptus trees sway in the breeze, scenting the park and shading sojourners. (See photo.)

What struck me most this morning, though, was the quiet love that filled the park:

  • A 30-something couple, her with a walker, he walking alongside, gently helping her. They laughed together, sat on a bench for a while, then slowly walked a bit farther.

  • A young father with his daughter, feeding the ducks, taking photos

  • A father fishing with his boys

  • An elderly, eightyish couple walking hand-in-hand

  • Mothers chatting quietly while their children clamber on the playground

And walkers of all ages, sizes, and ethnicities, with and without dogs...mothers and daughters, women friends, couples, singles.

Everyone savoring the moment and enjoying the morning.

The pastoral park scene reminded me of the beauty of life.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Summer Postmortem - 2008

Hard to imagine that it's been two months since I've posted here, my favorite journal.

Summer was filled with visits to college campuses, two trips to Northern California to take and pick-up Andrea from her 11-day, 73-mile backpack through Yosemite, and a delightful, weeklong sojourn in Portland, Oregon with my 31-year-old daughter and her husband.

Chestnut, our beloved 11-year-old dachsund, died about a month ago, peacefully of a natural causes (a heart attack?) in our backyard. We adored her from the time she entered our life as a 12-week-old puppy. She had a sweet temperament, and brought much love and fun into our home. We were genuinely surprised at the depth of sadness we felt at her passing.

Politics, and writing about politics, have consumed my energies, too, of course.
Politics and the pursuit of social justice can be a good and noble calling. But political shenanigans, and political devotees, can also be frivolous, infuriating, and even destructive and nefarious.

So to officially kick-off the post-convention, fall political season, I took this weekend off from all things political. Instead, I:

  • Langorously read from a relaxing book, "A Year in Provence," by Peter Mayle.

  • Enjoyed a glass or two of velvety California pinot noir.

  • Watched baseball with Ron, especially our surging Los Angeles Angels.

  • Attended our annual church picnic.

  • Listened to 1960s-era jazz I've grown to savor on my iPod, by Dave Brubeck.

  • Made a delicious dinner for Ron and Andrea: seared pork loin chops and paprika cauliflower, followed by lime sherbet.

  • AND... took a Sunday afternoon nap.

I now feel refreshed and ready to face the last 57 days of this political season.

And I'm already planning my post-election relaxation: on November 6th, I fly to Denver to spend five days celebrating my parents' 60th wedding anniversary, and to enjoy the Rocky Mountain fall air.

Ron and Andrea can't get away to join me. And I'm thinking that my laptop may stay home, too.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Secret, Small Sadness

Haven't written in several months here at my favorite blog. I'm not sure why, except to repeat the tired cliche that life's been busy. And time glides by much too fast.

Daily life in our home has changed greatly since the holidays, and yet, the changes are normal. To be anticipated. And wonderfully bittersweet.

Our youngest, and only, child at home got her first job in January... and wow! The responsibility of a job, and the empowering joy of one's own money, have matured her beyond our imagination. Her new self-reliance has gifted her with a self-confidence belied by a new, deeper smile.

Between work, school, activities, church and friends, we see her mainly at family dinner. When she's here.

She finished her junior year of high school with outstanding grades, and unbelievably great scores on that triad of college-bound tests: SATs, APs and IBs. So..... one year from now, we will be packing her off to college. And to beginning of her adult life.

As I write these words, Ron is driving her home from the airport while I make her favorite dinner (chicken soft tacos with all the trimmings) . She's returning from a week-long trip to the East Coast generously provided by her 31-year old-sister (my oldest) and her husband, who has relatives in New England.

Besides catching a Red sox game in Fenway Park (Ron was eating is heart out!), savoring "Young Frankenstein" on Broadway, and seeing sites previously unimagined, she toured Yale, Columbia, Brown and Tufts.

When she walks in our door 30 minutes from now, she will be different from the girl who left eight days ago. She'll be more traveled, wiser, less young.

And despite my unending joy for and pride in her, the mother in me will secretly, quietly feel a small but discernible sadness....

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Remembering Scott

I heard the news today that an old friend, Scott Foster, passed away last year of cancer.

Scott was the first boy I had a crush on... he was head of the boys line in first grade Sunday School, and I was head of the girls line. He was fun and friendly and had a wonderful, hearty laugh, even then.

Our parents were friends, and we had younger brothers the same age. We attended the same schools and church.

Scott and I were like brother and sister in many respects, friends who felt comfortable with each other at that awkward teenage time when we mostly feel uncomfortable with our peers.

We went to a movie together the night of our senior prom because, like foolish kids. we were afraid that other kids would think we were boyfriend-girlfriend.

We lost touch in college.He married a lovely girl from our high school, a year younger than us, and I married, too. And life moved on, as it inevitably does...

Scott and I danced at our 20th high school reunion. Both our spouses stayed home, so it was natural that we would laugh and talk and dance together, just like old times.

He hadn't changed a bit from first grade.

But that was almost 20 years ago. We never saw each other or spoke again.

Scott left his heartbroken wife of 33 years, and two young adult children.

I know their loss is terrible and great.

But I grieve today, too. Somehow, I always thought I'd see Scott again...

Monday, March 31, 2008

That Magical Day Heralding Summer

Today is that magical day Ron and I have waited for over six long, rainy, cloudy, cold, dreary, busy-bee months: opening day of baseball season.

We enjoy baseball not only for love of the game, but also for love of the easy rhythm and beauty, the languor, of the season: sunny, warm, less complicated and less rushed.

After work, Ron hurries home and often fires up the barbecue for an outdoorsy, charbroiled dinner followed by leisurely hours of watching our team win or lose. Later, he tunes in ESPN's SportsCenter for the latest scores and standings before nodding off for the evening.

All I can say is... Let's play ball!

Friday, February 29, 2008

"We're on lockdown at school."

The following is an actual text message conversation I had today with my daughter, a junior in high school.... a terrible and terrifying conversation dreaded by every parent in 2008.

Andrea (3:33 PM): we're on lockdown at school so im still in class. we arent supposed to call so im texting. im fine :)

Me (3:34 PM): Are you ok?

Andrea (3:35 PM):yes im totally fine

I called the school office, and a secretary verified that the entire school of 2,500 students is on lockdown because of shots heard north of the campus. Until the police clear the area, school will remain locked down.

Me (3:40 PM): Text me when they release you. Your dad will pick you up. Please be extra cautious.

Andrea (3:42 PM): Okay i love you

Me (3:54 PM): Do they have any idea when this will be over?

Andrea (3:55 PM): no they keep coming on and saying just stay in class

Me (3:58 PM): The office said it was an off-campus incident with a student. Need police clearance to let you go.

Andrea (3:58 PM): okay

Me (4:15 PM): Any word? Where are you?

Andrea (4:16 PM): Nothing. im still in government.

Me (4:17 PM): I should call your employer. (She was due at her job at 5 PM.)

Andrea (4:19 PM): we just got out
She's now safe at home. Thank God!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Moved by the Democratic Ballot

I was surprisingly moved today at the privilege of voting for either a woman or an African-American to be President of the United States.

I suppose that, despite leading a comfortable, middle-class life, I've always unconsciously felt the invisible glass ceiling of hard reality and unfair boundaries.

What today's Democratic ballot means is that I, and my daughters and granddaughter, can be regarded as professional equals to men. That the world no longer sees us as second best... as lesser imitations of white men.

My life's work will be unchanged, of course. But there are no limits for the young women in my family.

Knowledge of that new freedom to follow God's leading anywhere is indeed, a privilege and a deep blessing.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Annual Accountability Moment, 2007

Well, it's here again... my annual public accountability moment on my greatest weakness: exercise!
Stationary Bike Mileage, by Year:

  • 2007 - 614.0
  • 2006 - 645.5
  • 2005 - 564.5
  • 2004 - 562.0

I was on track to easily top my 2006 total until my doctor told me to vary my physical activity... include other exercise, as well. So I did... sort of. But not enough.

Mainly, I sporadically walked. The family-heirloom arthiritis in my knees is a hindrance, though... and as a writer and journalist, I'm not inclined to leave my laptop for great lengths of weekday time.

I may shop for a treadmill, as I know that's the answer to more physical activity.

But for now, I feel GREAT about keeping up the pace in 2007.