Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Comes to the High Desert

Monday morning I packed up my overnight bag for the trip to moms' house. I left it in the living room figuring I'd stop by home after work then head out. Then snow. The most since 1979. Worst yet, I'd also left my camera behind. I was able to get back home on Thursday. Here are some pictures taken after the sun already had some time to start warming the desert back up.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Muddling Through Christmas

A couple of years ago while in the midst of my divorce I came across this post by Dean Barnett. It hit a chord, and I sent him an email. Though relatively famous, he responded to my email. That's one of the things I like about new media. Folks, even famous ones, are more approachable.

Dean succumbed to CF October 27, 2008.

"Luckily, while we muddle, we can surround ourselves with things we cherish. We can muddle nobly, happily and with a sense of purpose. We can choose to love and allow ourselves to be loved as we muddle. Ultimately, if you want it to be and let it be, it’s a beautiful muddle indeed."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mom Chronicles: Cancer and Scary Hallucinations

The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength;
Yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

My mother has spent the month from Halloween to the present limping through her house and her life due to pain in her hip. Last Thursday she was in so much pain that she could not move. She called the ambulance to take her to the hospital.

Monday they confirmed that she had cancer in her hip---and numerous other sites in her body. Monday was spent working through the shock, with tears, questions, and hugs for Hailey as I shared with her the news about ‘Grandma Ta-ta.'

We had visited my mom in the hospital the past weekend. While there, she had me draw close to the bed to tell me that, “Something strange is going on here.” She went on to tell me that there were all types of people roaming the hallways; Rabbis, doctors, Germans and Russians. Amazingly, they all spoke Latvian. More significantly, they were all in cahoots regarding a plot to exterminate her.

When in the tube for the MRI, she says that there was a story that you read along with while the machine made its loud noises. She was amazed that beside the usual choices (Spanish, French, Vietnamese), the story was in (wait-for-it) Latvian. If you’ve ever had an MRI done, you know that it makes a consistent noise; chunk-chunk-chunk. My mom said that with each “chunk” the story pronounced, “You-you-you. Will-will-will. Be-be. Healed healed.” Of course, all in Latvian. Interesting plot for a movie. I’m just afraid that the Latvian references may be lost on some audiences.

One amazing thing regarding the cancer is the amount of folks who have been through a similar battle. Haileys’ bible homework this week was to list some effects of sin that she’s experienced or heard about in the news. Certainly cancer is one of them.

My mom, sister and I (along with a host of others—many who speak Latvian) will be walking through the process over the next weeks and months. One day at a time, step by step, grace upon grace.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Horrors of Mumbai, Horror of the Cross-Response to Shmuley Boteach

"As for my Christian brethren who regularly quote to me Jesus' famous saying, "Love your enemies," my response is that our enemies and God's enemies are different parties altogether. Jesus meant to love those who steal your girlfriend, cut you off on the road or swindle you in a business deal. But to love those who indiscriminately murder God's children is an abomination against all that is sacred. Is there a man who is human whose heart is not filled with moral revulsion against terrorists who target a rabbi who feeds the hungry? Would God or Jesus ask me to extend even one morsel of my limited capacity for compassion to fiends rather than saving every last particle for their victims instead?" So writes Shmuley Boteach in the Jerusalem Post.

Love does not erase consequence nor wrath. While I certainly relate to the heart of the Rabbis' message, he at the same time misses the heart of Christianity. As seen in the life of King David, sin has consequences. The high standard is that each of us, even the most heinous, are created in God's image. However, "Each of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." Love seeks that they know the truth, and repent of evil. Consequences must be paid; either wrath was paid for and satisfied at the cross, or wrath will be suffered by the individual. Love shines brightly, it does not cover truth, nor erase consequences.

For a vivid, modern example of Christ-like love of one's enemies;
note the life, and death, of Graham Staines.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Art at Grandmas' House

The crazy dog hurt his leg, so grandma and Hailey took him to the vet. Grandpa was still sleeping, I was alone, and bored, and with camera.

Photo by Hailey

Monday, December 01, 2008

Wild and Captivating

Journal Entry Dec. 1-That noise you hear is my head banging against a wall. That kind of day. Jagged emotional edges all over the place. Inventory at work. Glenn didn't do squat when he closed the shop last night. Squat. Cleaning the shop. Blood pressure HIGH. "Hello," she says. It's her. Melissa. Great. I'm off-guard, angry, frustrated---and flummoxed, because I'm not certain....what to to react. She's at the store for the day, covering in Bakery.

Went out for a walk at lunch to clear my head. When you're fasting and you hit that WALL where you've forgotten your hungry. Then you smell soup. She's like that.

Thinking. I bought that book for her last year, "Captivating." Adrenaline plus. Feeling alive though---very alive. Thought comes to mind. What we all need is someone that reminds us of who we are. For me, that I'm wild-at heart. For women, that they're captivating. At our core, we need to have people and places in our lives that remind us of who we are at our core. Wild. Captivating. Bought. Redeemed. Friend. Lover. Searching. Sought. Done. Til the next entry.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

E-Harmony and Thanksgiving

There I was filling out the “relationship profile” on E Harmony (not sure I'll use the service though, really) ; “Do you consider yourself attractive? (No), Is it important that your mate be attractive? (Yes), Are you afraid of doorknobs? (Decline to state). I came across this question which caused me to pause; Name 3 things that you are thankful for. My answer was:

The Outdoors: It reminds me that beauty and truth exist, inspires awe, and grounds me in perspective.
Friends: They make me laugh. They are my GPS on the road of life.
My daughter: She’s a blast!

The phone call came last week. My dads’ wife inviting the kid and I over for Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is usually spent at my sisters’. Sis and hubby have different plans this year. No Thanksgiving at their house. Mixed feelings about going to dad and Ethels’.

The initial greeting we receive at my dad’s generally goes something like this, “Dillo, good to see you. Too bad about McCain and that moronic, unqualified moose hunting running-mate of his. We saved you and Hailey a seat---just go ahead and move that “We’re Pro-Choice” paperwork out of your way. Hey everybody, Dillo finally arrived. He voted for McCain.”

All of that said, I have three goals for Thanksgiving Day this year. I usually respond with sarcasm to the political and religious barbs. I want to respond with grace and honesty, because the barbs hurt and make me angry. I want to honor the holiday. So Hailey and I (hopefully) will take some time out to note the many ways we’ve been blessed; and to give thanks. Finally, I want to have an attitude of thankfulness. Each moment is filled with blessing and opportunity for awe.

Anyhow, off to dads’ tomorrow afternoon. I’m bringin my own coffee too. That’s one of the other difficulties this year; instant coffee and (only) diet sodas. Rough life. Overall, looking forward to the celebration and the family time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Conversations With My Mom: On Aging

I talked with my mom tonight about getting old. We also talked about the invincibility of youth; how when you are young you think nothing bad can befall you.

" (During the war) I used to like to stay outside and watch the Russian bombs in Riga. My parents felt differently. They would come and drag me into the cellar.

One time, we were on a train, going somewhere, to nowhere. The train had red crosses on the top of it. Filled with refugees---the wounded.

I was laying down in the forest with this girl. I didn't really know her that well. She was a well established (well versed, well known--that's the gist of it) pianist. The Americans bombed the train. The bullet went straight out her hand and through her wrist......Maybe some 0f the trains with red crosses on them were'nt really what they said they were....this one sure was.

Even that didn't affect me. It was sad.

When you're older you have a different perspective. More fears."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Trick or Treat Plus...

Peace out, dude!

Party at the Pumpkin Patch

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Game Over-Fitting Southpark Clip

"Hailey, daddy loves you. Just remember that. He always loves you."

H/T Hot Air

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A Cynics' Hope

"And all the powers of darkness
Tremble at what they’ve just heard
‘Cause all the powers of darkness
Can’t drown out a single word
When all God’s children sing out
Glory, glory, hallelujah
He reigns, He reigns
All God’s people singing
Glory, glory, hallelujah He reigns, He reigns."

The Newsboys song blared from my car radio as I raced to work. Much needed perspective post-election morning.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope Dennis Prager is wrong. I hope we're not going to see significant socialism established here. As anti-semitism increases world-wide, will we continue to stand with Israel? I hope that our free speech isn't restricted. I fear an increase in secularism will lead to persecution of those who worship the God of the Bible.

I hope that the church doesn't remain complacent. That whether prosperity or difficulty comes, that she would wake-up. That radical selfless love, bold integrity, and an unflinching sharing the good news of Christ would be evident to all.

Ultimately though, my hope remains in the God that is "blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him, It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding."

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Drive In New Mexico-Farewell to Tony Hillerman

“You white people can’t drive,” he said, smelling of alcohol. In between my wife, the ice box, the water bottles and our luggage sat two large Native Americans. En route to Canyon De Chelly we took the proverbial ‘short cut’ down a semi-paved road in New Mexico. We were exploring the area around Shiprock, Farmington, and Many Farms, as these are prominent in the novels of Tony Hillerman.

Out of place on my street, but a perfect fit for the clay red road and big blue sky were shepherds and cowboys, cows and wild horses. An Indian woman appeared at the side of the road driving sheep. The road developed deeper and deeper ruts and less and less paving. The scenery grew in color and complexity; blood reds, citrine yellows, bone whites; and the two lone men walking.

Stopping to ask them where we were, they asked us to give us a ride back the way we came. Apparently, the road we were on would not take us (expediently) to where we wanted to go. The road was rutted with tire marks on either side of a high, rail-like middle. I’m driving and trying to keep the tires in line with the road, while each bounce slams the undercarriage against the bump in the middle. This is made much worse by the extra six-hundred pounds of Native American squeezed into the Toyota. The Indians continue to rant about my driving, the wife interjecting commentary, and I imagine the oil pan slamming into the road one-to-many times before it shatters into a million pieces. Finally, I’d had enough. I stop the car. At the top of my lungs, I scream, “Everybody out!” Realizing that I was serious, and very near the edge, the men leave the vehicle. We leave them with two water bottles, and continue on our way.

I have deeply enjoyed each of the Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn novels. If not for Hillerman, I would have missed out on the previous adventure. Greater still, I would have missed out on a respectful and well-balanced look into the Navajo culture tied in with some wonderful mystery writing. Finally, I would never have met Jim Chee or Joe Leaphorn, two fictional members of the Navajo Tribal police department, two men of deep character and integrity who rank among my top ten leading characters in the mystery genre.

I am saddened by the thought that there will be no more Joe Leaphorn or Jim Chee stories. Tony Hillerman died yesterday, at the age of 83.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Next Time Girls, Stow The Phones

Because Hailey's always worried about her friend's pics appearing here! The girl with cell phone WAS NOT staged.

Hailey celebrated her birthday today with five other girls. All one year from becoming teenagers (the technical age for becoming a teenager is one that ends in "teen"*). Three of the five girls spent a good portion of the day texting and talking on their phones. Until Hailey's parents ripped their heads off, er,graciously requested that they stow their phones.

I don't know if this behaviour says more about Hailey's friends or about Hailey's generation. I do know that the Millenials are heavy into this type of behaviour. The word that came to mind was Gestalt; the idea of fully experiencing the moment. Seems like they are missing that. Supposidly, the engineer of the Simi Train Wreck
was texting instead of paying attention to the red warning light.

My guess is that it isn't the technology at fault here. More than likely it's the parents that aren't plugged in.

*That's my interpretation anyway

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Boy Scouts Missing the Boat

Obfuscate true North, chuck the compass and bury the anchor! Part of the reason I became a Christian is that I was a Boy Scout. Part of the Scout Oath reads, “To do my duty to God and my country...” Repeating the Scout Oath two or three times a week, I thought it might be a good idea to find out who my God was. How could I do my duty if I didn’t know what was required of me?

The final sentence of the Scout Oath states that I will “keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.” Today’s Boy Scouts are being taught “how to procure and use condoms.” Just great. How does one keep oneself morally straight without something to measure straightness against?

What if Godly principles were being taught? What if “morally straight” was defined by Judeo-Christian principles?

Duty to God implies principles one lives by. Morally straight can only be understood in the context of God as anchor for one’s soul. Perhaps we’re missing the boat here.

Update: Additional comment from Dillo follows in the comments section. Bottom line: We need to provide a godly, principled and moral response to sexuality, rather than "They're going to have sex anyway...."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Saturday at the Movies-Modern Shoot Em Up or Western?

Tough choice tonight: Whether to go see Appaloosa or Body of Lies. Which do you think I chose?

I agree fully with Roland Zwick when he said, "the characterizations are rich, the relationships complex and the performances authentic, the movie itself suffers from a bad case of inertia, loping along at an enervating pace when it should be racing ahead at a full-on gallop."

The friendship between Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) was convincing, deep and enjoyable to watch. Jeremy Irons rocks in any role, and how can you not love any character (Dean) played by Luce Rains.

If you want cinematography, this isn't the film to see (instead you can rent The Assassanation of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford or 3:10 to Yuma).

If you're a guy, I think you'll enjoy Appaloosa. If you are going out to see a movie, it is worth shelling out the bucks for this one.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall at the Preserve

I went hiking at the Preserve this past weekend. It is constantly amazing to me how much it changes from month to month; different texture, various vibrant colors, and interesting wild life.

This guy literally followed me through a thicket. Every time I would stop, he (?)would hop to the branch just-out-of-reach and just above my head.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I'll Know It When I See It

Since setting my goals at the end of the Summer, I've been looking for a stand to set plants on. I had this image in my head of what I wanted, but could not find anything resembling my mental image. I've been growing more and more frustrated and ready to settle for anything, an old toilet, a wheelbarrow, a shelf....because I could not find the ideal.

There is a thrift store next to my pharmacy. On a whim, I dropped in. And I found it. Can't go wrong for $6.99. I think I'll repaint it black; or a dark green. Then buy the plants! Yes!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

What Do You Want On Your Tombstone?

What do you want on your tombstone? I'm not talking about a pizza ad. I've spent some time on the counsellor's couch. It was during a dark period in my life. My marriage was crashing. In the grip of an ongoing bad habit, no visible hope of getting out. No vision for my future, no (seeming) hope for my present. During one of my sessions, my counsellor asked these questions: How many people do you want at your funeral? What do you want them to say about you? What don't you want them to say about you? What do you want on your tombstone?

What I didn't want said was easier. "Nice guy. Lukewarm. Always seeking, never arriving." What I wanted said-more difficult.

It's been 5 years or so since I sat on that couch. My perspective is much clearer now. Hope for life is consistently visible. Some of the answers to the questions clearer; some I'm still wrestling with. At my service, I'd like to see the church full of folks. I want them to say I was a little intense. That I was a good father. That Hailey's passion for Christ reflects my heart. That I knew God, and His joy, and that I desired that others embrace that Joy as well.

On my tombstone: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves..." (2 Cor. 4:7). Beloved father of Hailey, Lover of Christ, Servant to men.

What do you want on your tombstone?

"Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but that I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus."

Saturday, October 04, 2008

From Carmen to Classroom-People Coming Alive Files

She said she was a teacher. I asked her how long she'd been teaching. "I've been doing it for a year. I used to be a professional opera singer. One day I was teaching children, and I realized that I was having much more fun than I ever have on stage. So I turned in my contract, and started teaching." Not only did she make the change to the classroom, but to special education! "Children, today we'll be singing Tosca. You each have a copy of the libretto. Please sing along."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Him In Whom the Fullness Dwells

For it pleased the Father, that in Him all the fullness should dwell,
And by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross-Colossians 1:19,20

Dear God,

What I’m feeling isn’t pain-exactly,
Nor emptiness.
In my darkness, frailty, and confusion,
I think holding a woman would,
End the discomfort.

To fill the emptiness,
I will turn to things I can feel, touch and taste.
Like David before me,
Bottle and bathing beauties soothe my boredom.
God, I will submit to weakness,
To feel something beside not feeling.

Bread I can eat, wine I can drink,
Both I can taste.
God of wheat, Owner of the vineyard,
Who knew me in the womb,
Be my sustenance and satisfaction,
Him in whom The Fullness dwells,
Be my fullness and comfort.

Monday, September 29, 2008

First Fall Rain

Ninety-three degrees outside, and it's the first Fall rain. That is life in the high desert. Soul restoration, baby! Wild, crazy weather is one of the great plusses of living here.

You can't see anything unless you click to enlarge this one!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Driving Boxes and Having The Blahs

Didn't much feel like getting out of bed today. I have moments when everything feels negative. Tires spinning without traction all week. At work nothing is clicking. I have deadlines that I'm behind on. A kitchen table that is piled high with mail. A couch piled high with laundry (which, at least, is clean!). And I have to drive a van all week.

When I said, "There goes my nice neat box," I wasn't expecting to be driving a box the following day. Went to the rental car place after having reserved my economy car over the phone. At the airport they advised me that all they had left were vans. I proceeded to stop by all of the other rental car places at the airport, but none had any cars left. So, I'm driving this thing to the concert tonight.

I'm expecting that hanging out with Hailey, an awesome concert, and a day off will restore some joyful perspective.

"For indeed, while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life."
2 Cor. 5:4

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Providence, Serendipity, and Getting A Rental Car

There goes my nice neat box. Tomorrow Hailey and I head out to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (The name confuses me; how do they power up those big screens, small microphones and loud musical instruments?) for the Third Clay Foot Tour (Third Day, Jars of Clay and Switchfoot). But today, as I chugged up the steep grade to my house, my car blew up.

By God’s grace I was able to drive it into a gas station and call for a tow. Furthermore, my daughter’s school bus was late, so she was coming up the hill as the tow truck inched past her and her mom, my car proudly displayed. So her mom drove me home and offered to drive me to the airport.

No, I’m not flying into the concert. Where I live there is one car rental place. And they are out of cars. All three of them. So, it’s down to the airport to rent a car.

I’d already made plans to pull Hailey out of school. I’ve got the hotel reservations. I’ve Googled the directions. All the boxes that I can control I’ve taken care of.

I keep telling myself to get perspective, take a deep breath. This is not a big thing. Frustrating though, as we’ve had these tickets for half-a-year.

God’s timing is funny. He allowed my car to explode TODAY. But the bus was late so I got a ride. There are no cars for rent here. But Hailey’s mom’s willing to drive the 40 minutes to the airport. Gracious offer, and I’ll take it. Emotionally though, that’s 38 minutes longer than our usual conversations. Now I wait.

Will I be able to get a rental car? Will I get a ride down the hill? Will scientists agree on global warming? I’ll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Book of Martyrs-Meanwhile Ahmadinejad Attends U.N.

While I sit at my desk drinking my coffee, eating my Cheerios and listening to my music, one of my brothers sits on death row in Iran. His crime? Converting of course. I applaud President Bush for recognizing the regime and Ahmadinejad as evil, and not giving him private audience. The bigger picture though:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kids'll Be Kids

Even though every trail had signs with pictures of children exploding into the air---and even though every one of those signs had warnings about strong heat and acid content.....The questions remained. Can I touch it? Can I walk on it? Can I swim in it?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hailey for President; Yes, I REALLY Said That-Plus, Palin-Mania

So, Hailey asked me if I would vote for her for President of the U.S.A. if she ran (when she's older, of course). I hemmed and hawed, and said (wait for it), "I'm not sure. Probably not."

What kind of father would say such a thing? Gads! As Hailey told me, "Dad, aren't you supposed to say 'You can do anything you put your mind to'? Truth is, there's still some part of me that's uncomfortable with a woman in the role of President, or Prime Minister. I'm not saying that it's a good thing, or a right thing. It just happens to be where I'm at currently.

Ironically, the following day, McCain chose his running mate. Tonight, I went to get a burger at John's Place. The vivacious co-ed that took my order said, "People keep telling me that I look like Sarah Palin." Then she kept talking about Sarah Palin, and the elections, and her beliefs....Meanwhile, the waitress walks by (en route to a customer) and says, "Do you like Sarah Palin?" I nodded, or said yes, or something and she says, "I really like her....."

I've never seen anything like it. Palin-mania is truly everywhere. Amazing phenomena. That's a good thing for Hailey. She'll have a much better chance of getting into office now....even if her dad doesn't vote for her.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Horrific Train Wreck

Their lights alternating blue, red, blue, red; a line of police cars flew down the side of the freeway. Hours earlier I sat with my dad in the hospital (for an unrelated incident) and heard the head nurse telling the other nurses to be ready, that surgeons and specialists were all on their way. Trying to get to the freeway, I saw at least five ambulances---each one leaving the scene was being replaced by one taking its place. KNX has pictures and full coverage.
Say your prayers for the people of Los Angeles, Simi Valley and Moorpark tonight, and throughout the week. As I write this they are still recovering people from the scene. At least 10 dead, 100 wounded.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Piano-(oh,oh,oh)-Show Me Photo Challenge

My grandfather passed away somewhere around my 5th year of life. I have no memories of him. He left me this music box. It has been through a lot. When you are a kindergartner; you don't take real good care of stuff. Try as you might. So it's been dropped once or twice, and taken some bangs and bruises along the way. One of the legs is cracked and glued. The lid (What do you call the top of a piano?)has a decent crack in it too. Still cranks out a tune though.

Can you guess its real purpose? Hint: How do you fit a Camel into a piano? Can you tell where the matches go? When you lift the lid, (with it wound up), it plays a tune that my sister and I sing along with. It goes like this: Piano, piano, pi-a-a-a-noooo....

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Show Me Your....Photo Challenge: Mailboxes

Robert is challenging us to take pics of normal, everyday, household views and things. Today's challenge is: My mailbox. I should of known that taking a challenge from a guy that lay's in the middle of his street to get a picture could provoke similar wierd looks and things from my neighbors. WHAT? You've never seen people taking myriad shots of their mailboxes before? Here are my two choices.