Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Mystery of Silhouettes

Shadows and silhouettes intrigue and fascinate.

The essence of an object or person is but hinted at when viewed through darkened surroundings.

But the mystery is such that one squints and moves about to clarify and identify what illusive reality exists in such hidden forms.

With just a whisper of Light, success is found. The veiled is disrobed and made plain to see. 

Oh, that we would spend that much time in the waking hours, seeking to solve the mysteries that waltz beside us in peripheral life.
. . . that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
(Colossians 2, part of verses 1-3; ESV)

Monday, September 28, 2015



That is what my gifted glass blower friend calls her mistakes. Gumpies. What to my eye is beautiful, she finds undesirable. Her eyes see the tiny flaws. For her business, these gumpies are not worthy for jewelry.

During a recent beach gathering of friends, there sat the mistakes. The gumpies, relegated to the tub of shame. Imperfections were barely discernable to my untrained eyes. The fascinating, shiny, colorful, irresistible tub of gumpies called me again and again. Dipping my hands in the cool glass, pulling out fascinating designs, sorting and making patterns. I couldn't stay away.

Despite the imperfections, these gorgeous glass baubles are desirable as sources of beauty and inspiration.

Are we not like that?


Imperfect, flawed, full of mistakes.

Gumpies remind me of God. I am the above. Add to that list sometimes unlovable, irritating, sharp edged, critical, lazy, uptight, selfish. I can easily see the flaws in this messed-up human.

But God still desires fellowship with me. In spite of my 'gumpie-ness' He sees me as fascinating and worthy of purchase. He also finds me beautiful, irresistible, colorful, and fascinating. He doesn't stay away. He wants to sort and refine and create in me.

From the muddle of bright shiny jewels, He chose me. He paid for me. He loves me and wants to shine through His creation. Me.

God loves gumpies.


A gumpie.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Things You Gotta Have

 Sometimes there are just things you must have. They may not be mandatory for survival, but let's say some things are great for mental health and stress relief and a happy life.
In other words, you gotta have it.

Sometimes you just gotta have a tent. And snacks. And a cousin.

Other times you just gotta have cottage cheese. Two servings.
We all know there are definitely times we must have some shut eye.

On special days, girls just gotta have a party dress and pretty hair,

while boys make do with comfy jeans and a Mohawk.

Sometimes you just gotta have chill time in the rockin' chair.

Lots of chill time.

And don't forget, sometimes we need a gaggle (ducky blanket) and static hair to make our days complete.

On certain days, we just gotta have scrap wood, a million nails, a hammer,
and some grand ideas.

Sometimes a rocking buddy is the best plan.
You always need a little help. Gotta have it.

You gotta take advantage of Papa sitting on the floor.
And don't forget. You just always gotta have a Nana hug.

What do you just gotta have?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Saving the Birds

After 4 finches came unwillingly into the house in less than 24 hours, it was time to save the birds.

The cats. Mabel and Monet. I don't know what changed, but suddenly the finches were having particularly harried days. Either the cats were mega-charged in their bird snatching skills and were enjoying that success by bringing mommy a bird - often - or the birds were waxing eloquently as they greedily gulped sunflower seeds by the dozens and failed to see or hear gray calico cats lurking and stalking.

Either way, after a robust season of catch and release (by one or both cats) and then catch and release (by me, the mom), it was time to remove temptation.

Don't get me wrong. I adore and love my sunflowers. I really only had to plant them one year. After that, they sprang up unaided from seeds dropped during the previous season. I hated having to put them down. The bees would starve, the table would lack from flowers, the shade would disappear . . .

But the poor finches. I can't even count how many I've rescued and taken out to the front yard (opposite of sunflower territory) and released under the lavender bush to recover. Perhaps not all made it and we will find tiny skeletons when we trim off the growth for winter. I hope not.

So good-bye finches. Realize that while I have taken away your food, I am prolonging your life. Go. Be happy. Sing loud. Stay away from cats.

That is why I do not put out bird feeders. Clever cats.

"Snicker, snicker. Me? Never."

Friday, September 18, 2015

Motorcyle Ride Lesson - Can't See the Mountain

Mt. Rainier, Washington State

I adore exploring the northwest from the backseat of our Honda Shadow.

Now, don't get me wrong. The entire middle of my field of vision is blocked by someone's big head and helmet. But other than that, I have a wonderful view, ringside as they say, of the beauty we are so happy to explore.

On a recent trip, we took a rather long ride from Yakima over Highway 410 to Puyallup. We then came back to Yakima on Highway 12. If you count miles, it is way too many for one day of riding. I was feeling it. No, I was not feeling it, as certain body parts stayed continually numb.

But that wasn't the point. What was important was my view - gorgeous scenes of Mt. Rainier, forests, rivers and streams, Mt. St. Helens, farmlands, meadows, and more. The weather was slightly warm by mid-afternoon and completely heated our frozen bodies from the early morning going-over-the-pass cold temperatures.

As we aimed for home, headed up White Pass, I kept a keen gaze glued to the north side of our path. There are some pretty exceptional scenic views of Mt. Rainier from Highway 12, and I didn't want to miss them.

I looked and enjoyed. It seemed odd, but there didn't seem to be as many as I had thought. No, the mountain in all of it's snow capped glory had not moved. (Whew, right?) But the multiple views were just not happening. Clouds, traffic, trees, buildings, curving roads - all conspired against my efforts.

I knew Mt. Rainier was there. I knew it has not skipped town for colder spots unknown. It was there, stately, majestic, and awe-inspiring. I just couldn't see it.

And then it hit me.

Isn't my relationship with God sometimes like that?

I know He is there. I traipse along, bebopping with my busy life. Sometimes when I glance over, looking for the sight of Him where He has always been, I don't see Him. Where did He go? Why can't I see Him? Has He left, vacated the premises? I keep on traveling, glancing to the sides of my path, hoping to catch a glimpse.

In all of His glory, majesty, power, and beauty, He has not moved. He hasn't packed up and skipped town. Nor has He tired of my whining or forgetfulness or lack of faith. He is there, right where He has always been.

But me? I've let the trees and clouds and traffic of life put up filters and screens that block my view of my God. It's totally my fault.

Yet I don't need to fear or worry. God is not going anywhere. He will always be there, even when I can't see Him. I can rest, knowing that He is right there, just beyond the trees. Right where I know He is.

"It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."  ~ Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Walnut Pesto Recipe ~ Rock That Garlic Breath!

Baked chicken, sautéed vegetables, spaghetti squash, and walnut pesto

Pesto is an absolute favorite summer garden treat. Embrace that garlic breath - it's a right of garden passage. And besides, garlic is good for you.

 Walnut Pesto


1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
5 cloves garlic, minced
sprinkle of salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves, chopped

I have a horrible blender, so I have to do half the work before I can add ingredients to the blender. If you have a food processor, you may not have to do so much chopping and mincing.

Add ingredients to blender. Pulse and stir repeatedly until all is well mixed and chopped. Add extra olive oil if needed to make a lovely paste.

Spaghetti Squash

Poke fork holes all over a spaghetti squash. Place on a plate, cover with wax paper, and microwave on high for two 5-minute cycles, flipping the squash between the two.

Cut in half. Scoop out seeds. Use a fork to scrape spaghetti 'noodles' from squash.

Sauteed Vegetables


1 head broccoli cut into flowerets
1 small yellow squash, cut into medallions and then halved
1 onion, cut lengthwise into slices
olive oil
Mrs. Dash
black pepper

Add olive oil, broccoli, onion, and sprinkles of Mrs. Dash and pepper to pan. Saute until nearly fork tender. Add squash last few minutes. Brown.

Baked Chicken

We used leftover chicken leg and thigh pieces. Serve any type of chicken. We rewarmed ours in the over at 350 for about 30 minutes (covered).

Et voila! A delicious and healthy meal, compliments of the last of the garden produce.

Hint: Make sure everyone in the house eats the same meal! Then no one can complain about garlic breath.

Monday, September 14, 2015


Why is it that the Velcro straps on my much beloved Tevas randomly unlatch but when I sit on the floor at church playing with kiddos, the Velcro gets me stuck to the floor so tight I almost need help getting my foot free?

Alas. My poor Tevas. This is pair number 3. They are on their last leg, er, foot. But can I find them in a store? NO. Is my style still available anywhere I look? NO. Can I find Tevas? Yes. But weird styles and curvy soles are all I discover.

I love my Tevas. I wear them from February (if the weather begins warming) through October (if the weather stays warm). My permanent tanline resembles the straps on my Teva sandals. Once this pair falls apart for good, I am shoeless. In Yakima.

So if you ever happen to be out shopping and see this style of Teva, please let me know! I'll be right there.

Do you have a favorite brand of shoes?

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Back Side of Yellow

the back side of yellow

"Yellow is a small wheel of cheddar cheese,
Permeating a musty odor out of the bakers shop
Yellow is a thousand paper cranes,
Floating down a slow, mellow river
Yellow is the round circle of moon,
The light that stays through the coldest night."

~ ANISHA DATTA, Confessions of a Part-Time Optimist: a Collection of Poems

Answer: A Kousa Dogwood

After several helpful inquiries, we discovered that our mystery dogwood, which I was even considering to not be a dogwood, is indeed one in this beautiful family of trees. Meet our kousa dogwood.

According to online research, kousa dogwoods are either Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. I still don't know the country of origin from which my kousa dogwood had its beginnings, but it is dogwood.

The interesting orbs dotted with tiny spikes? Multiple sources say they are edible and taste slightly like strawberries.

Experiment: pick a bright red pod

Results: bright red pods are very ripe and mushy. I squished one open to find orange sherbet colored pulp, which looked slimy. While it smelled yummy, I am not convinced I can eat it. Birds are supposed to love them. I think the birds in my neighborhood do not know this. Maybe only birds in Japan or China or Korea have the inside track on kousa dogwood fruit.

All in all, it was a good day learning more about my tree.

Fast growing, check. Most dogwoods grow very slowly, but this is easily nearing 10 feet in height and we've had it for about 5 years, beginning with a less than 1-foot tall stick. STICK in the truest sense of the word. Red fruit pods, check. White 4-petal flowers, check. Blooms later than other dogwoods, check.

"Cornus kousa," or Japanese strawberry tree, produces edible tree fruit, grows to 20-30 feet in height, and is an ornamental garden tree. Not only that, this variety has few illnesses or pests that invade its trunk, leaves, or fruit.

Friends, I think we have a winner. I'm happy to know that my kousa dogwood is doing just fine and will for years to come.

Fruit anyone?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What is This?

We thought it was just a dogwood tree, though it acted nothing like the real dogwood trees I have planted elsewhere in the yard.

The leaves look right, the shape is right for a wild dogwood (that's what I'm calling it, as I don't know), it blooms differently from the other dogwoods, and it is a fast grower. This tree arrived at our home in a packet of other similarly scrawny and less-than-a-foot long sticks.

Now? It is covered on the south side by beautiful, orange red fruit balls. Nothing like dogwood fruit.

Perhaps it is not a dogwood after all, though it was labeled as such.

Any ideas?

The hiatus required for our household switchover for internet carriers was indeed a very long time. It's amazing how much one can depend on something that is totally invisible. Oh, we have plenty of cords, boxes, and a huge bill, but the actual internet is floating around like lint in a gnats' eye, unable to be seen by the naked eye.

You might be surprised, maybe alarmed, at what else has been going on since the pause in action.

I sliced the side tip from my left pointer finger. Perfect little scoop going into the second layer of skin, whoosh, and there it was, staring at me on the cutting board. Blood. Oh, the blood. Typing became an acrobatic and quite edit-intensive endeavor, first with a bandage-fat finger that tapped every key but the one I wanted, and then with more accuracy when using a smaller bandage, but less feeling in the remaining fingertip. Now I am finally down to a slowly closing gap and maybe permanently misshapen finger.

My handsome, though quite sick, grandson shared a strong nasty cold with me. He seems all better while Nana is still fighting a sinus infection.

Deadlines abound. This was one reason having no internet was quite helpful. I couldn't easily communicate with friends and co-workers, but I also wasn't distracted by every little message notification or opportunity to 'just for a quick minute' check my social media.

Fall-ish weather was much appreciated, though it is only September. The change is coming. Cool nights, shorter days, the beginnings of color. Autumn is a feast for this writer's soul. After our intensely hot and on-fire northwest summer with plenty of smoke-filled days and falling ash, I am completely ready for a cold, wet, and long winter.

The season of squash is upon us. It's time for some of my favorite recipes. I have indeed already visited a produce stand and filled a basket with spaghetti, butternut, and delicate squash. A few pumpkin varieties were ready, but I just can't quite get those yet. That would be kind of like seeing Christmas decorations in September. Oh, wait. I've seen them. Pumpkin time is coming, but not quite yet.

Have a wonderful day after Labor Day! Happy back-to-school!