Tuesday, October 15, 2013

So Many Distractions!

Today, I had to drive way out to Small Town Library for work. Rough commute, with scenes like this in the foggy sunshine...

By the time I got to work, my usual parking spot wasn't available and I had to park under this tree...

(The last one is doctored. Do not adjust your monitor.)

Instead of sneaking a nap during my lunch break, I had to drive to Very Large Flagship Library for an interesting (and rather short!) meeting. On my way back to work at the third library of the day, I had to sit in traffic...

(This shot looks odd, but I liked the repetition of the beams on the overpass. 
Trying to enhance the shadows also darkened the drippages from above.)

After work was truly done for the day, I went for what was supposed to be an aerobic walk. I'll upload my phone photos later, but catch this from a street near my house...

I lost count of how many times I paused for photo ops today. As I said, so wonderfully distracting!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Breaking News: Adaptation May Be Key to Survival and Sanity!

I met someone yesterday who had very high, very specific expectations. He wanted personal assistance with details related to an application on the library system's website. NOW. And he was not at all pleased that I could not deliver what he saw as his distinct need, in the manner that perfectly suited his expectation.

We all build ideas of desired outcomes. Sometimes this is completely necessary (isn't this chicken supposed to be fully cooked?) and other times it's best to adapt and adjust based on a new reality (the brownies collapsed, but they taste still taste great!)

What does it take to recognize that a change is required? How much reality must be experienced in order to be willing to shift one's vision? There are many, many stories in the Bible that illustrate this point. Times when things appeared to be headed in one direction, but then God communicated an entirely different plan leading to an unanticipated outcome.

Being a people-pleaser at heart, I am pretty quick to change direction based on what I perceive to be the needs of others. That's nice, except when I really was on the right track and let myself get derailed by popular opinion. Some of the people whom I most admire are strong, firm in their convictions, rarely swayed by mood or whim. That's good, too. There are times to change, and situations in which it's best to stand firm. Reminds me of that text adapted by Pete Seeger...

     There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven -- 
     A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones;
     A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing.
     A time to search, and a time to give up as lost;
     A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
     A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; 
     A time to be silent, and a time to speak.

So, some planned outcomes must be pursued to full completion, and some must be altered. My job is to listen to the One who advises, encourages, directs, and occasionally gives me a shove in the right direction.

Oh, and about that person with whom I had the unfortunate interaction... Well, I'm sorry I couldn't meet his perceived need in the manner to which he'd like to become accustomed. Maybe another time?

Saturday, June 29, 2013

My First Tattoo!

I am afraid to make up my mind. I'm a perfectionist.

These two statements form the foundation for my reluctance to get a tattoo. There may or may not be biblical reasons against permanent body markings, but I'm not going there. For me, it's my personal hang-ups. How could I choose something to place on my skin forever?

It would be impossible for me to choose a design, first of all. Should my tattoo be an image, or text? If an image, realistic or artistic? If text, what words and what kind of font?

Then there's the artist. Allowing someone to permanently  ink me would require my complete trust in that person's competence, artistry, and commitment.

Most serious of all is my tendency to dig at my own imperfections. One might call this obsession. When I write, I edit... and edit... and edit... until I choose to hit "send" and walk away. When I knit, I plan on making two or three dry runs at a project until I'm satisfied that it looks good enough to continue. When I draw, I compose geometric figures, because I cannot replicate the intricacies I see in my mind.

If I were to get a tattoo, I would obsess over it, learning every dot and line. Measuring, comparing, evaluating detail upon detail, until I realized the flaws. And the next logical step is to see only the flaws. I'm afraid I would hate the whole thing, just for the sake of one millimeter of ink.

On the other hand, random imperfection is the silent asset of the greatest artistry of all: God's creation. A mountain is beautiful thanks to the jaggedness of its ridges. Towering Douglas fir trees are not mirror images of one another. One bird has more red plumage than its siblings.

Yes, there's the whole body-image thing. Talk about hang-ups! But I am learning to accept myself as I am, not arguing with my Maker or trying to bargain with Him to remove this trait or those few inches. Either my physical being matters not a whit (because it's the spiritual stuff that endures), or the stuff that bugs me is allowed to help me to practice patience and graciousness.

          For Thou didst form my inward parts;
          Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb.
          I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
          Wonderful are Thy works,
          And my soul knows it very well. 

I have a pile of my mother's DNA, and a touch of my father's, but I have been crafted by the Master and it's all good.

Oh, and my tattoo? It's just a temp, a free henna opportunity that I get to smile over for a couple of weeks. See how it blends perfectly with my random freckles?

henna, drying
henna, top of wrist

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Graduation and Photos and Pride!

My son earned his high school diploma last night. It's been quite a process for him, and we are all very proud of him for putting in the time and effort to see this through. Although he earned his GED some time ago, he wanted to prove that he could do more than pass a test. It was fun to celebrate his accomplishment, and heartening to hear stories of other grads who have persevered to pursue their goals. I was inspired by the diversity of ages and life situations of these community college students. Here are a few highlights of the evening:

You can't go wrong, being led by a pipe band!
outstanding in his, er, crowd of grads

the 2013 graduates

my son is the handsome one in center of photo   :-]

a moment of action in a long night of sitting

didn't I tell you he's handsome?

on the big screen!

the moving of the tassels -- we're done!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Contentment with Limited Perspective?

How does it make you feel when you know you can't see the whole, big picture? Being "limited" is a bad thing, right? I can only make an informed decision if I have all the facts! But we cannot possess all the information that exists. We may think we know it all, but our minds are distinctly finite.

Open Sails on the Sound

These limited perspectives were photographed through the stationary binoculars at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.
Far-off Bridge

Top o' the Mountain

More of the Mountain

Although the size of the viewing field is small, the magnification is great -- better than my camera's zoom, and much better than the naked eye.

Across the top quarter of this photo, you can see a portion of the Narrows Bridge. That's a good ten miles from where I stood.

And then there's Mount Rainier. Here you see part of the summit. Distance, about 40 miles as the crow flies.

This pic of The Mountain reminds me of photos taken from the windows of spacecraft, looking back at Earth.

I had fun playing with my toys, both in shooting these photos and cropping them later. Taking advantage of limited perspective, if you will. The narrow view (no pun intended) lends itself to a different kind of contemplation. Maybe it's good to be reminded of our limitations.

Paul noted something like this --

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known.

One day, we will know all about everything. One day, we will understand. One day, all will be revealed. Until then, I can trust God who fully knows, completely understands, and whose will is being accomplished. He's looking out for my very best interests, and He sees the minute details as well as the really big picture.

"For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."

We don't get it all now, but it's okay. Might as well make the most of this and enjoy what we've got!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Spur of the Moment (or, Before the Lawn is Mowed)

Our yard doesn't always look like this... but when it does, it is pretty amazing. It all depends on perspective. (Click on a photo for larger image.)

Spacelion Needle

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Days of Well-Spent Youth

I never considered us "weekenders". Sure, we mostly visited our cabin on summer weekends, but we owned that piece of paradise. Owned it. Every tree, every rock, every high and low tide.

My grandparents bought a derelict farm, acres of woods, and several beach lots on lower Puget Sound back in the 1950s. They fixed up the house, tried their hands at raising a steer, and cursed the deer that kept eating Gramma's roses. All my aunts and uncles had a beach lot, and a couple of my dad's cousins came along and built nice cabins there, too. If anything, it was the non-family full-time residents down the road who were "outsiders".

I spent many, many happy hours combing the beach, digging clay and making tiny pots, walking in the woods, hanging out with my cousins, eating hotcakes cooked on an outdoor griddle, and digging clams. Oh, and watching Dad and my brothers fix the tractor. There was always a project to be done, and the machinery was never ready to run immediately. For me, this place and time were idyllic. (For my brothers, perhaps not so much. The benefit of being the much younger sister.)

Many years later, after most of the property had passed out of the family, my Aunt Margret said that she hoped all of us could hold some woods and beach in our hearts where it wouldn't go away. I think this is why I crave quiet, natural places and wild flora. I'm always going back there, to where life was gentle and the silences were companionable.

Following are a few photos from the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. I had a wonderful, quiet, spectacular day there yesterday, and I'll be going back again and again in my mind. Hope you enjoy these little glimpses of our temporary home.

Looking to Sea

Olympic Mountains

THE Mountain

Little Singer

Narrows Bridge from Nisqually

Friday, April 26, 2013

Code Talker -- Book Review or Vicarious Experience?

My father volunteered in the Army during World War II, serving in the South Pacific. My mother was an Aerographer's Mate in the Navy and helped crack an enemy weather code. Those two sentences sum up almost everything I know about their experiences. I'm very grateful for their service, but wish I had a better understanding of what they did and what it was like.

Chester Nez grew up in the Checkerboard area of New Mexico, herding sheep and goats, living a pretty traditional Navajo life in the 1920's and 1930's. No electricity, no running water, sleeping under the stars while roaming with the grazing animals, he appreciated life and honored his elders. Then came boarding school.

Because it was deemed necessary for Navajo kids to learn English, Chester and his siblings ended up having to leave the sheep and goats and the secure familiarity of the hogan for the alien discomforts of live-in elementary and secondary schools. Nothing in his life seemed easy, but Chester held firmly to the values and beliefs taught by his father and grandmother. He learned to remember the small joys and look for beauty wherever it might be found.

During the beginning stages of WWII, it was realized that a super-sophisticated code might be created using the unwritten and little-known language of the Navajo nation. Chester and many other young men volunteered for a "special project" in the Marine Corps, and the Code Talkers were born.

Chester was involved in the battles of Guadalcanal, Guam, Peleiu, Bougainville, and Angaur. The conditions were awful and even horrific. The odds were often significantly against the US troops. Although most (if not all) of the other Marines got occasional R&R away from the front lines, the Code Talkers were an absolutely vital piece of our strategic success and could not be spared for even a few days' respite. Those hard times back on the Checkerboard, sleeping on the ground and going for days without fresh food or any comforts of home, made the Navajos able to be survivors.

I listened to this book as an audio, and the reader (David Colacci) became Chester Nez for me. His pronunciations of Navajo names and words, as well as his careful use of emotional voice, brought the story to life. Although it was difficult to hear accounts of the treatment of Native Americans of that time, I appreciated their resiliency of spirit and commitment to their family values. Survivors.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Is This Hyperbole, or am I Exaggerating?

No personal photos this time. I was too busy driving -- and gawking. I attended a meeting on Mercer Island this week, and had to arrive early so I could find the place. This being only my second time ever on The Island, I had a good look around.

I've heard that "island life" is a little different, no matter what island it is. There's the whole transportation thing, having to rely on ferries or bridges to get to the mainland. Seems like that would make you consider the necessity of each trip and consolidate off-island errands whenever possible. Then, when you're on the island, make the most of its quieter, slower pace.

Methinks Mercer Island has the "slower pace" thing nailed down. (Here's where the hyperbole comes.) The highest speed limit I found was a mere 35 mph. Residential streets were narrow and they  *ALL*  had speed bumps! Everywhere, speed bumps! The winding road that circles the southern two-thirds of the island had to be shared with bicycles, but they were going nearly the speed limit so it wasn't really advantageous to pass them even if you could find a wide enough place to do so.

Some of the homes were very upscale, set into the woods for a natural effect or surrounded by meticulously groomed gardens. One house was perched on the edge of a gully, road on one side and steep drop-off on the other. No grass to mow there!

All of this made me think about how the location and situation of your home has much to do with your lifestyle. If you live in the city, you've got people and traffic and busy-ness all around, all the time. Out in the country on acreage, there's a necessary degree of self-sufficiency. The suburbs? Well, I guess I have some of the hustle and bustle but not the easy public transportation of the city, and a little space but more access to consumer conveniences than the country. Middle ground.

Another lifestyle consideration is participation in community. The closer you are to people (geographically), the more you are a part of their lives as you see one another frequently. Country life benefits from neighborly interdependence, but maybe there's more intentionality required.

I enjoy reading a blog by a Canadian gal living "in community" in Amsterdam. She and her husband live in an apartment, but she is very much a part of a close-knit group of Christians who are committed to sharing their lives together. Interdependence is a balance, and Brenda occasionally shares in some detail what it means to be part of a wholly intentional community.

Thanks for reading my ponderings this morning.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Photos on Good Friday

This sunny day had to have photos taken. Later, as the sun goes down, it will be time to focus on the irony of Good Friday's true significance.

Elephant Toes!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Today's New Wallpaper on my Phone

When I stopped by this cute little [read: very upscale] grocery market for a sandwich today, this was the first thing I saw. They were such happy little fruits in their little baskets, I had to take a photo.

It was a long day. I needed a smile.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Exploring a Reference Source

Polo is quite interested in the five-volume Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life. I explained to him that it contains articles that its articles focus on "the traditions, living conditions, and personalities of many of the world's people groups. Further, this resource provides information in twenty different headings -- everything from language and location of origin to folklore, religion, sports, interpersonal relations, foods, and living conditions. Not that Polo pup intends to travel, but if he did, he'd certainly want to know what to expect. For example, does a particular people group eat anything really interesting? Does their style of communication involve lots of wild gestures? How many people live in one house, and do they sleep on soft beds that he could share?

Poor Polo would really like for me to bring these books home so he could learn more, but they are intended for use in the library only. He'll have to come to them, and prepare to settle in for a long session of discovery.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Exponential Information

Polo has three basic means of gathering information: what he sees, what he hears, and (most importantly) what he smells. In normal daily life, these methods are totally adequate for accumulating the news he needs to know. Occasionally, however, he encounters different surroundings and is bombarded by a Pandora's box-full of new sights/sounds/smells. The poor guy's brain goes into overdrive to process all this stuff!

Many people are likewise pretty comfortable most of the time with their usual means of accumulating information. Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and Facebook are easily accessed and familiar sources of lots of news.

Sometimes, though, a person might find himself/herself in a unique situation that offers a boatload of information or a cascade of unanswered questions. Help is needed! There's way too much info available, and I can't sort it out on my own!

That's where a library might come in handy. Not only are there print sources for bits of knowledge on everything from soup to nuts, but also online sources leading either to more thorough Internet-available data or back to print.

If young Polo could thumb through a book on his own, or if he could type words into a search engine, he'd be way ahead of the pack in information-gathering. Alas, he can neither manipulate paper pages nor utilize Google. He'll have to listen to Mom and keep his nose to the ground... or, in this case, wherever there's something he needs to investigate.

checking out cheap-o homemade bird feeder project

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Changing Gears

Way, way back in '07, the dogs and I started this blog as part of a class at work. This was a great way to process my (our) responses to various Web tools and activities. From there, we just kept writing and taking photos because it was a good thing to do.

Enter 2013 and a new class at work. I'm studying to become a Public Service Assistant (PSA), and have decided that it would be beneficial  to enlist the help of one Polo pup to help me ponder this new material. In a nutshell, I'll be learning how to answer library patrons' questions and meet their needs for information. I feel a little overwhelmed, so it'll be a great comfort to have my dog along for the ride.

Wise dog in the library, indeed. Polo has not set paw in a library or any other public building in more than two years. His contact with people outside of our family is severely limited especially since Jon fixed all the loose places in the fence. He does perform a core set of services with excellence: our yard will have NO crows in it, we will always know if anyone is walking down the street, no coyote will howl unanswered, and there is never a crumb left on the kitchen floor.

So, with this post begins a new series in the Wise Dogs' blog. PSA reflections and ramblings. Here we go, Polo! What do you think, boy?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What's Hotter Than a Hot-Button?

[Spoiler alert: I'm not going to tell you the question.]

I work with the public. I thoroughly enjoy working with -- and for -- the public. Sometimes there are odd things that happen, or dumb questions that get asked, but I consider these to be par for the course. After all, I do plenty of odd things and regularly ask my fair share of dumb questions.

But there's one thing... there's one topic... actually, one question... that I abhor. I can't stand it. Last week, it almost drove me to curse. It's a dumb question, asked innocently enough, but when I hear it... I spout steam and smoke and fire out of my nostrils. IT MAKES ME REALLY, REALLY ANGRY.

Enough about me. Let's talk about you.

Is there one thing that makes your blood boil? Is there a subject that you wish could be made permanently off-limits? Maybe it's the way something is said, the tone of voice or an underlying accusation, that gets your goat. Or perhaps it's a long-buried memory that isn't dead after all, and it rears its ugly head at the mention of an associated idea.

I got it again today. Out of the blue, as always. And I'm seething! I hate hearing this! May I curse now?! If only there were words that would blow off my steam, I'd shout them.

Everyone's got a hot-button, I suppose. Probably most people have figured out how to get over it, too. I mean, you have to be able to get over it. Whatever it is, it's going to keep coming up. That's life.


Okay, I'm feeling better now. Thanks for letting me vent. But do you ever feel this way? I'd like to know.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Just Talkin'

I went to a lunch meeting today that was as low-key as low-key gets. For a good hour, we sat around and told stories about animals we'd known (or heard about). It was easy to sit and listen, to chuckle together, and take turns talkin' while others listened.

I went to a different kind of meeting tonight, where two people had the spotlight to tell their stories. It was easy to sit and listen, to chuckle together, and let each of the talkers have their turns while the rest of us listened.

It's good to be heard sometimes. Call it validation, affirmation, or fellowship, but it's just talkin' and knowing that someone else is listening and appreciating. It's healthy to let a person talk out their thoughts once in a while, without judgement or answers or advice.

For me, this is one vital aspect of prayer. I know that I can trust God to listen, to nod His head and chuckle at the right times, to let me put words onto the junk in my heart and let it out. Hopefully, I don't have to do this too often or for too long at a time. Sometime after I've talked through my stuff, I'm ready to listen. That's when He gives an insight, or a challenge, or a straight-up correction. But it's delivered in love, and I know He's right and it's time to move ahead.

Thanks for listening. It's good to be heard.

Monday, January 14, 2013

My Favorite Excuses

I love to walk. I love the woods. There are lovely wooded parks nearby. It's too bad I've got so many good excuses not to get out there and walk. Here are my top five rationalizations against going out to exercise:

5. It's raining. Okay, given that this is the Pacific Northwest, where we supposedly live under clouds all year round and we have moss growing between our toes, you might think it rains all the time. But that's not exactly true. Even on the rainiest days, there may be times of reprieve while the clouds soak up more vapor so they can unleash a new downpour. This excuse only works a few days of the year, therefore. Sigh.

4. It's cold -- or it's hot. During the winter, it sometimes gets icy or snowy. I don't mind snow, but I hate everything about being outside on ice. Driving, walking, standing -- none of these activities are performed well on ice. But just plain cold? As long as I'm walking and wearing appropriate clothing (especially a hat and gloves), I'm fine. And the summertime? We usually have a couple of weeks of really hot temperatures, but there's always morning or evening when it's comfortable. Bah.

3. It's going to get dark. There is about a four-week period when it gets dark way early. But since I only work part-time, I've got one morning and two afternoons a week that could afford some walking time. Grrrrr.

2. I should be [insert menial housework chore here]. Yep, I definitely could be doing that. But if I go for a walk and stir up those helpful little endorphins, I might actually feel like doing something for a few minutes when I get home. Hmpf.

1. The dog. One of the reasons I hired Polo was to be my walk-buddy, but he still hates cars. He is afraid of being trapped inside of a car. He's afraid of other cars driving nearby. He's afraid of any kind of noise a car might make. He won't walk more than a half block in our neighborhood, because then we're getting too close to a busy [noisy] street. If I decide to take him someplace in the car, I'll probably have to tug him at least part of the way outside and then lift him at least halfway into the back seat. And even if I can't smell, I don't want my car to remind everyone else that I've been lugging a wet dog around. Ugh.

Today, I was out running errands and realized that I'd be finished before dark and I'd be very close to a scenic little lakeside park. It's not a place I want to take Polo, because he'd be way too distracted by offleash pups. But I knew there would be other people around, so I felt safe going there alone. Guess what?

I did it! I walked for 20 minutes! In the cold! Without my walk-buddy! And I loved it! Endorphins are my friends. I should remember this fact. 

Another good reason to walk, besides the physical betterment that results? I can take pictures any time I want, and there are plenty of great things to see. Here are a couple from today's icy lake:

The second photo is kind of beyond the ability of my camera phone's, er, abilities. But it looks just impressionistic enough to be art, so there you go.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Doggyoga (or, why Polo isn't writing)

Polo just isn't as much of a writer as Blackie. He's not even as motivated to blog as Rufus was. In case you've wondered why this is, I offer this explanation. It's worth a thousand words, if not more.

This is Polo's main indoor pursuit. Yes, he is a pro. You might say that he's "prone" to practice this fine art.