Friday, March 17, 2017

"I hereby declare, on oath..."

It was a very long time ago, and no one now living was even a gleam in our forefathers' eyes. But some of my ancestors were on that boatload of people -- immigrants, refugees, sturdy dreamers -- who sailed on the Mayflower.

With all the talk about new people coming to America these days, I can't help but consider my family as immigrants. I'm sorry that my people maybe didn't treat their American hosts very well. That's hard to swallow. I'm grateful that we were able to stay, despite all that.

This week at work (yes, as part of my job!) I was privileged to attend a Naturalization Oath Ceremony. There were a couple of short welcoming speeches. There were 19 people from eight different homelands -- Bahrain, China, India, Korea, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, and Tanzania -- who stood to take the Oath of Citizenship. They pledged to renounce all prior national allegiances, and to take up arms or do whatever was legally required of them to defend their new country. I cried a little. When they sat down again, they were citizens of the United States of America. We joined another immigrant in singing our national anthem. I couldn't help but cry. One of the new citizens led us all in the Pledge of Allegiance. I cried some more. The ceremony was totally official and, for me, completely emotional. (I did not shed any tears during the cheesy inspirational videos. I will not be manipulated, after all!)

When my people landed here, there was no oath, no pledge, no anthem, no flag. Nor was there a city in which to find housing or a job. No established resettlement assistance. No national leader to whom they might appeal for refuge. They had to make things up as they went along, from scratch, and they must have made more than a few errors. But they made it, many of them, and even welcomed more refugees and pilgrims who came later.

There are so many, many stories of pain and loss and peril suffered by those who are new arrivals to the United States. And so many more people who are not yet here. Some of those stories are hard to hear, hard to even imagine.

I think it's my job to carry out acts of welcome and care. But I've been really busy, all my life, just living my life. What needs to change, how must I grow, to expand my personal horizons? That's scary. Already, though, I am supporting English language learning and Citizenship classes through my work at the library. My church reaches out to assist refugees in a variety of ways, and I have done small things to join these efforts. I can do some more.

For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality, nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt."

Highlights from the ceremony --

Thursday, December 29, 2016

[The Beginning of] the Beginning of the Story

The whole "baby in the manger" thing has me thinking. What in the world are we supposed to do with an infant whose birth was heralded by angels, visited by sheep herders, lauded by wise travelers? It makes for a great story, except there's no closure at the end of our Christmas holiday. That Baby, no matter how special and holy, can't do anything. It's great that He came, but...

My dad used to travel for business, and he'd sometimes bring special gifts home. When he went to Alaska, he returned with photos and explanations of a large retaining wall for which his company had supplied the interlocking pieces. Oh, and jade necklaces for my mom and me. One of his early trips to the east side of the state, he witnessed tumbleweeds blowing across the highway. I was thrilled to take a real tumbleweed to school for show-and-tell! (Side note: I had to wrap it in newspaper so my classmates wouldn't guess what it was. Ha!) Looking back, I enjoyed the stories as much as the presents.
my completed moccasins were something like this

And then, on a jaunt to Arizona, he picked up a moccasin kit so I could stitch up my own slippers. No story, but something representative of the place. I loved the idea of having my own moccasins. But the kit, by itself, was only a beginning. It was what came after, the process of putting them together, that would make them useful. Only after that would I be able to wear them.

The baby in the manger is kind of like the moccasin kit. In order to really get something out of it -- Jesus, that is -- you have to involve yourself in a process. There's the first part of His story, understanding that His birth and His very existence is amazing. As an adult, He did things and told stories and taught lessons that should have our attention. But then... then there was the whole "end of story" part when He was killed -- but He could have gotten out of it. What? Yes, Jesus could have opted out, but He let them put Him to death as a religious criminal. And then, after He was proven to be dead, He was resurrected and reunited with His followers before returning to the right hand of God the Father. The point of all of this was to pay the penalties for all of our misdeeds, so that we could also be with Him forever.

So, celebrating the miraculous birth of the Baby is like opening that moccasin kit. It's exciting just to see this beginning, but there's much more to come if you carry it out to the end. Read and follow the instructions, as it were, to receive the real joy and fulfillment.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Does This Derny Make Me Look Dorky?

Maybe it's just that I was tired when I started watching, but the Olympic sport of Women's Keirin was such an amazing spectacle.

It starts on the steeply banked velodrome track, riders' feet buckled onto their pedals, embracing the men who are their handlers. Waiting for the start. Waiting for... the uniformed guy on a motorized bicycle to come around the track behind them, making the turn, riding on the inside lane.

This guy is sitting very upright. None of the hunched-over streamlined posture for him. His helmet is the round, nerdy type. He wears khakis and a polo shirt in the Rio Olympics colors. And he's not pedalling.

So the best funny thing is this dorky guy -- riding a thing called a derny. ("Hello! You're in the Olympics? What's your athletic event?" "I drive the derny." Silence.) He doesn't have to look athletic. He doesn't have to be athletic. He just has to ride around the track, five and a half times (if you don't count the first half lap before the official start), sitting straight up, looking straight ahead, increasing his speed only incrementally through each lap.

Finally, after watching this measured procession around and around and around the track, the derny pulls out and the sprint ensues. This is when the cyclists get down and dirty, jockeying for new positions, sizing up the field, knowing when to push to the head of the pack for the lead. This is when all the strategy they've had in their heads comes to fruition. This is the action. Two and a half laps of all-out, adrenaline-revving sprint riding. "He's gone! Let's go!"

The photo below is not from this year's Olympic event, but I love how this dernyman looks a bit like a traffic patrol officer. All business. Do not exceed the speed limit. Period. This portion of the race is not. a. race.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Eagles in the Tree, Snails on the Fence

I went walking... by the river, where the eagles live. Mama eagle was posing for the paparazzi, but they all had four-foot-long megalenses that made me feel like I'd rather keep walking and see what I could see on my own.

Who knew that snails climb fences? Maybe to keep away from the nesting geese? There was a tiny narwhal-bird in the top of a nearby tree. And I love that Indian plum is one of the very first spring bloomers.

Some thoughts on my shyness. When I feel self-conscious, I lose most of my social graces. Sure, I can put on an act of warm effusiveness, but that takes effort and brain-energy. Those are the times when I lose people's names, or forget that I just greeted this patron five minutes ago. Ugh.

On the other hand, shyness lets me explore on my own, looking for the ordinary extraordinary details that are often overlooked. Like a snail on the fence, or the hummingbird in the tree just a ways down from the giant eagle.

Therefore, being introverted is a blessing and a curse. But mostly, a blessing. And I'm grateful. Mostly. Because I do enjoy noticing the little things. Thanks, God.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Penthouse Real Estate in Heronville

I went walking near home today... and even though I'm not ready for spring to start, it's clear that other folks are more than ready. Here's the local heron rookery, sizing up the nesting situation and occasionally bronking at the neighbors. Amazing to see so many herons at once. That's part of the beauty of winter, you know -- no leaves on the trees, obstructing the views.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Because Theresa Asked for More...

For one of the few people I know of who checks in on the dogs' blog OF HER OWN VOLITION, here are some pics of my birthday-time hike with son #3 this fall. We were privileged to be able to take a seldom-open path down to the river, then went up the hill as planned. Enjoy -- and THANK YOU for coming! 

The Cascades are out there. Somewhere.
No whitewater was harmed in this telephoto shot.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy and sing praises.
Let the sea roar and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands; let the sing mountains together for joy!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Canyon Sunday

Here is a glimpse of what I was doing a couple of days ago. Had to drive home from a conference... chose to stop SO MANY times to take photos.

It impresses me that God didn't create a stagnant world. Those rock formations probably didn't start out tilted, right? They got moved. Who would have the power to move them?

               O God, when Thou didst go forth before Thy people,
               When Thou didst march through the wilderness,
               The earth quaked;
               The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God;
               Sinai itself quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Welcome to our 20th season with the Chargers! The team I love because they wear my initials... and because the coaching staff is great, and they let me be on the sidelines instead of far away in the stands! My excitement for the first game is like a kid on Christmas Eve. It's here -- let's get started!

Thanks to the wonders of modern computing (I guess), the printed score books I'd used have become obsolete. A few years ago, I designed my own, drawing it on graph paper and getting it printed each season. This year, it seemed like time for a change, so I have been working on an Excel template instead. I still want to fill it out by hand -- if I entered the data directly onto my laptop, I'd be stuck way up in the stands. Where's the fun in that?

So, I printed a few sheets of the new form and looked for a recorded game to use for a test. The first one I found was an AFC Divisional Playoff between the Bills and the Browns. This was in 1989, recorded from television and posted on YouTube. No computerized markers to show line of scrimmage or first down, fewer replays, sideline camera angles -- a pretty good simulation of real life for tonight's high school game. I had forgotten Bernie Kosar's sideways stance under center. The commentators recounted Ron Middleton's highs and lows as his son was born 12 weeks premature and Ron was released and rehired a couple of times that year. I remembered a few names -- Jim Kelly, Pete Metzelaars, Thurman Thomas, Cornelius Bennett, Ozzie Newsome. In a promo for the next day's game, baby-faced Bob Costas and OJ Simpson were pictured. My, how the times change.

Ahhh... good nostalgia. But now I must make a few last adjustments to the score sheets and get them printed again. Sharpen the pencils, dig out the clipboard, it's time for FOOTBALL!

Oh, and if you'd like to share my little trip down memory lane, here's the link to that video. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sights Seen in Seattle

Half the fun of photography is finding new ways to look at stuff. Here are some different views of Seattle. Enjoy!

This tower seems a little off-kilter... but the next one is supposed to be that way? Go figure. Not sure my dad the carpenter would have appreciated the effect.
I guess wooden dragons aren't too scary.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Today's Encounters-From-Afar

Sitting on my deck this morning, I heard a dull tapping up in the tree. It was our birch vandal -- a red breasted sapsucker, adding more bird graffiti to the trunk!

Went for a nature walk later (I covered two miles in about two hours) and came across various interestings --

Eek! This looks like a bald-faced hornet! Thankful for a telephoto lens!

I'm allergic to yellowjacket stings, but such an amazing insect!

Loved being able to get this view of the lake --

Just for fun, I zoomed in on the cattle resting across the lake. It wasn't until I edited photos tonight and super-magnified them that I noticed this fellow's horns! Glad I was far away.