November 29, 2011



What is satyagraha? It is a philosophy from India which means to do anything, give anything, sacrifice anything, to pursue what is right without harming another and to do this without regard for self.

Do you have the strength of character for satyagraha? I often wonder that about myself. I definitely have my values and principles and my list of things that start with,
"Well, I would never......."

But, would I? Do I?

I am a woman who has lived a blessed and gifted life. Many of the things I say I would never do, I say them because I have never been challenged by those circumstances. When you look at challenges from a distance they always seem to be constructed of black and white blocks but the closer you get to those challenges the blacks and whites fade to shades of grey.

Ghandi, a man who really introduced Satyagraha to the world at-large, a proponent of "passive resistance" and non-violence and was actually awarded a Nobel Peace prize was a great poser and coward it seems to me. He talked big in the world of men and politics but beat the women in his life. How does one live with those conflicts?

In the light of day with the world watching he taught one thing but behind closed doors he was a different person....

Nelson Mandela was, I believe, is a man who's name and face is more iconic of passive resistance and nonviolence. A man of honor. I would hope that I am more like Mr. Mandela.

I pray for the strength of authentic satyagraha and that Father/Mother/God never test me.

November 12, 2011

Spam Intervention

Dear Spam,
We seriously need to talk. If there was ever, ever, E-V-E-R, ever a need for intervention, well, let's just say I hear your desperate cry!

Please, Spam, I don't know how many more ways to tell you, but:
1.  I don't own a penis, undersized or otherwise, and I certainly do not want one.
2.  I know what my credit score is.
3.  Though my relationships are none of your business, I feel I must inform you that I am not looking for hookups so tell eHarmony, Zoosk, and all your other friends to stop bugging me. I will call them if the need arises!
4. I don't care what Bunny, Lulu or Victoria does in the privacy of her bedroom, nor do I care to share her gymnastic talents with her and her friends.
5. I do not need Carbonite. I can save my own stuff here at home.
6. I only knew 6 of my High School Classmates and I am still in touch with them. Oh yes, and my yearbooks are in the bookshelf in the back bedroom, if I want to look at them its free!

Spam, honey, please, get some help.  Get outside and get some sunshine and fresh air or climb back into your little weird shaped can of gelatinous goo. Just stay away from and keyboards....not good, honey, not good.

November 09, 2011

This Too (2) I Know To Be True!

5. I digress. This I know to be true!

Yes, I have a way of digressing. Two of my granddaughters have noticed the randomness of life and will periodically state: "Random!" and then say what has just randomly come into their thoughts. They, also, often look at each other after I have said something and smile and say "Random!"

I believe that in my case calling out "Tangent" might be more accurate! There are several definitions of tangent. Tangent is an adjective and a noun, it is geometry, trigonometry and idiom!
Now you might say that when I digress my actions are that of the idiom-tangent according to "off on/at a tangent, digressing suddenly from one course of action or thought and turning to another."

I would disagree! I think my digressions are more closely associated with the Geometric definition: "touching at a single point."

I can totally wipe out all connections to the trigonometry definitions: "the ratio of the side opposite a given angle to the side adjacent to the angle" or "a trigonometric function equal to the ratio of the ordinate of the end point of the arc to the abscissa of this end point, the origin being at the center of the circle on which..." okay, okay, you get it, right? My digressions are clearly free of ratio, abscissa and ordinate, though "end point" does relate...somehow....maybe.....

You see, my digressions are "connected" at some point. Like when I am telling a story and mention that it started on Tuesday and then realize that it probably wasn't Tuesday because on Tuesday I had coffee with my sister-in-law and then went to the library and a quick run to Shopko for some soda and hair dye because in this economy I am cutting down on my trips to see Valerie and get my hair done which has caused me to have a section of a neon shade of red close to my scalp because in Hairdresser-ese "warm" does not mean warm and cuddly, it means red!

See! Connected. Nothing shiny that grabbed my attention just connection, connection, connection.

Did I ever tell you how much I enjoyed diagramming sentences when I was a kid in school?

I know, I know, you are thinking to yourself, "She's done it now, that is totally random!" If that is your thinking, then you are totally wrong! You see, Tangents, geometrically speaking, are connected at points.

The Tuesday-sentence above had many connections which reminds me of diagrammed sentences and how much joy they brought me creating those little sideways trees on my lined paper. That makes me happy!

So, I digress. But not in the "attention deficit...squirrel" kind of way. Nope. Though I am feeling a strong allure to look up the definitions of abstract and pulchritude...

So, as long as we are speaking of wandering since the definition of "digress" is not just about wandering off the subject or point in speech or written topic but it also suggests to wander from one's path or main direction.
Yes, this is a more archaic meaning of the word but this part of the definition sings to me. Nothing I like more than to wander from the main path.

Driving on the main highway and an enticing side road invites you to slow down and discover new things. Do you stay the course or do you digress?

I digress. This I know to be true.

6. Happy is a choice we make for our own life. this I know to be true.
It is not my job, or your job or God's job to make someone happy.
If you spend your time trying to make someone else's life happy, you are assuming responsibility that is not yours. It is also not your business.

Now if you would like to make someone smile, Great! That would be very nice of you, but to dedicate yourself to making that other person always smile is a waste of your life and a waste of theirs.

Helping a person to learn to smile on their own would be a much better use of your time as long as its not the only thing you use your time for.

Also, it is not someone else's job to make you happy! If you think your happiness depends on someone else, well, get used to being sad or a whiny, demanding manipulator.

Being happy is a choice we make, this I know to be true.

November 05, 2011

These Things I Know To Be True

The blogging world that I frequent has been presenting blogs about "things" or "Truths" we know for sure.  Most are captioned "10 things I know to be true."

I want to play along but I think I am going to do this in series! There is the Time involved and mix in a little humiliation because, quite frankly, I am not really sure I know 10 things for sure!

Socrates said "an unexamined life is not worth living"?  I swear, my life is nothing if not self-examined and over-self-examined, but I have never counted or made a list of "Truths According to Toni" or entitled a journal, "Toni's Universal Truths!" Though I confess that my ego and I are quite tickled at the idea of a little leather tome with just such a title etched in gold leaf on itselegant little spine!  I would publish it in a New-York-minute if I wasn't so sure that the magnus opus of my life would just sit unsold and un-dusted in a clearance book store at the far side of some factory outlet mall.

Maybe I could talk my friend Brooke into placing it into her library at school and conduct a "token" check-out once a month for the sake of my image to my descendants! (Does one's ego burn up in the cremation process or will it linger about for a century or two still seeking external validation?)

Toni's Universal Truths: These things I know to be true.

1.  There is a God.
Frank and I were driving through the mountains last weekend listening to a CD from his repository of inspiring presentations. (digression:  (which will be one of the universal truths for me but don't know where on the list) We always take talk-CD's for inspiration, yellow pad and pen for notes, soda on ice to stay hydrated and a loaf of good bread, grapes, cheese and maybe little chipotle chicken strips to keep the growling tummies from interferring with discussions), anyway...
Frank and I, still driving and listening, when the speaker reminded us of the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's comment during his flight through space, "I don't see any god up here...".  I pushed the button to stop the CD and looked at Frank. He looked at me. Both of us,  profoundly saddened by such a statement and the poverty of spirit!

Neither of us can imagine, floating in space, thousands of miles above the earth, surrounded by the dark and stars and could one NOT see God!!!

Our old friend, Pastor Jim Ledbetter, once told me if you don't believe in God there is nothing anyone can show you that will make you believe but if you believe in God, everything you see is proof that God is real. I truly see the hand of God in almost everything I see.

What is real? Definition: "real, noun, realm of actual or practical experience as opposed to theoretical, abstract or idealized realm."  Do I believe that somewhere there is a throne in heaven and a male-being with a long white beard is sitting there?  No, absolutely not, but have I had actual and practical experience with God, hell yeah!  Okay, maybe I could have said that better, but I KNOW and BELIEVE with everything in me that a Universal Spirit of unimagined intelligence and passion exists.
There is a God. This much I know to be true.

2. There are Universal Moral Truths.
Truth is not something that should be voted on nor should moral laws.  While some things or notions can be declared to be the truth my majority of voters or critical mass or 100th-Monkey-thinking there are some things that are flat out not open for interpretation or relevence.

I feel my whole body slipping back in time now, being drawn back to Ethics class in college (ah, those were the days, oops, digression! ).  Ethics: Critical Thinking? Just Wars? Theory of Value? Morality? Yes, that's it, Morality?  Are there universal laws ruling morality? I say, again, Hell yeah!

Swept back in time, I sit in the classroom, the heavy, emotional, discussion is about defining morality. How do we define what is moral and what is not? Majority of the students were, apparently, die hard believers in the values of democracy. Opinion was majority rules on what is right and what is wrong?  "Is prostitution moral?" "Is rape moral?" Popular opinion in the classroom that evening: What does the majority think?  Well, excuse me, who is the majority in any given situation?  In a world of 200 sailors, home from years at sea and a village of 20 women and children what do you think the majority is going to vote for?

I tried to explain to class that there has to be a universal moral truth that surpasses democratic principles of voting and majority rules.

In a skilled nursing facility you will usually find a demographic ratio of 30 percent (give or take) Medicare, 60 percent Private Pay and, hopefully (bottom-line-ese)  not more than 10% Medicaid/MediCal/Welfare patients. In such an environment the Majority of residents would be paying privately or through insurance.  If a vote is taken as to who's call bell should be answered first, the majority might suggest that money talks and money provides privilege.  The residents paying their way should get first call (according to last Wednesday;'s vote) but what if the private pay resident just wants someone to fluff a pillow for them or hand them a phone or their knitting and the resident in the non-out-of-pocket-minority of voters is in desperate need of assistance to the bathroom?  Morally, who should be served first?

Lets say you desire to get out and dance a little, drink a little, score a little and your dependent child is hungry, dirty, sleepy, or just wants you to hold them?  Is there a universal moral answer to this dilemma?

There exists Universal Moral Truths. This much I know to be true.

3. If there is a Heaven it will have Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia in unlimited supplies. This much I know to be true.

4.The spoken and written language is inadequate when it comes to true communication.

Love cannot be described in "real world" terms.  When an expectant mother feels that first stir of movement in her womb, an emotion that has been developing (good choice of words, huh?) with the baby reaches a level of intensity that threatens to sweep mother away.  How can one describe the intensity of emotion with the mere word "LOVE!"
I love lasagna! I love autumn! I love homemade clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl!  Okay, the word love kind of works there. But I LOVE Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia just falls short. Doesn't quite tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
How can I use that tiny word to pronounce the depth of emotion when holding my husband in my arms in the wee hours of the morning, or when he is teaching one of our granddaughters about clouds or photography?
When I witness a mother giggling with her daughter or a father smiling at his young son as they throw a softball back and forth? LOVE falls short, way too short.
The profound emotion that surges from your heart the very moment your newborn baby utters her first sounds? Can this emotion be described in words?
The consummate grief one feels at the loss of a loved one? Can you tell me in words just how much this hurts?
Psalm 46:10 states (more or less, I am not that good with Aramaic to know the original statement): "Be still and know that I am God."
"Knowing" is very much a way of being still, being passive and letting the truth come to you, allowing the knowing to fill you up.  Communication is only part spoken or written word. Communication is about communion.
The spoken and written language is inadequate when it comes to true communication. This much I know to be true.

to be continued:

November 02, 2011

Seal Talk

‎"Go get the ball!"
"No, you get it""
"No, YOU get it!"
"SOMEBODY! Get the ball!"

September 04, 2011

Meeting My Younger Self: Part II

A year ago, I stumbled on to this little writing exercise on a couple of writer's blogs. I love writing and examining life so I jumped right on it. Revisiting my blog I thought I would do this exercise again (is that against the rules, were there any rules?)

This time,I would go back to have a long talk with my 10 year old self; The following are the questions and answers.

Would your younger self (YYS) recognize you when you first meet?

I would hope that my younger self would recognize me intuitively, but she would definitely see a family resemblance. The 10 year old me was incredibly open and naive, she would believe me when I introduced myself.

Would YYS be surprised to discover what you are doing for work?

No. I've always loved art and writing and children. Though, little Toni would probably be a little disappointed that I hadn't flown through Outer Space or won a Noble Peace Prize or dug up any dinosaur bones in Montana, and that I didn't own a herd of horses.

What piece of fashion advice would you give YYS?

Fashion advice! Really? I think I would tell her to believe in herself and never let fashion define her. I would tell her that the larger world of Fashion is about making women feel bad about being natural and comfortable with themselves. I would tell her to ignore the pictures of celebrities in magazines, they are manipulated images that have turned women into fiction.

"Do as you always do, little Toni. Brush your hair every day, wash your face and brush your teeth and let the You on the inside shine through. Don't invest in all those Raider's t-shirts because in 1972 Al Davis is going to rewrite the general partnership papers for the team and award himself almost complete control and he is going to single-handedly drive our Raiders into the ground. Stick with the Broncos or take a good look at the Steelers. Invest in Loreal!!!

What do you think YYS is most going to want to know?

I am trying to remember what 10 year old me really wanted to know the most. Will life in California be as good as it was in Colorado? I would assure her that life is good but she would, indeed, miss family as much as she thought she would. I would tell her that cousins and grandparents are one of life's greatest blessings, don't let them slip away.

Don't let anyone or anything, but mostly, any one (Anyone, are you listening, little Toni,) Don't let ANYONE stand between you and your family! Write those letters, send them yourself. Make telephone calls and pay the consequences for in the long run you will be blessed. Don't lose track of your cousins. They help you remember where you are from, they help ground you and remind you that you belong.

I would tell her that the drawing of her dream home was fantastic and the ugly comments made about her white picket fence and yellow curtains in the window were not about her drawing and dreams, they were not about her. Don't put your pencils and chalk away, little Toni. Don't let ugliness and resentment affect your life.

Of utmost importance, I would tell her that under no circumstances must she ever, ever, ever go anywhere with her dad's sister. "Keep your eye out for her around your sister and the other cousins, too." I would tell her that when that aunt has a baby girl try to convince everyone, everywhere that the baby needs to live with us, or anyone, other than her crazy-ass mother. (though I wouldn't say "crazy-ass" to little Toni...well,, no I wouldn't).

What is something that you probably wouldn’t tell YYS?

I would not tell her about deaths or divorces, I would not tell her about broken hearts except that when her heart gets broken she will come back stronger and braver. That she will eventually find the love of her life. "Don't let the moments of true happiness and bliss pass by unnoticed, Little Toni. Close your eyes and commit those moments to memory. Definitely, remember the smells because when those scents flutter by in the future you will immediately be transported back to those wonderful moments."

What do you think will most surprise YYS about you?

That is a hard question. If she was older, she might be surprised that I outlived my grandmother, but she doesn't know yet that Grandma died, it will still be 4 years before Grandma Rose closed her eyes and didn't open them again.

Maybe what would surprise her the most is that I have learned to stand up for myself and protect myself. Maybe she will be surprised that it took me so long.

At this point in your life, would YYS like to run into “you” from the future?
NO, I don't think so. I look forward to the surprises, the aha's. I don't want to know about the losses.  The future me could leave me a note under my pillow though and tell me if my knee ever gets fixed!!!

What about you? What age YOU would you visit? What would you say? What would you take back?

September 01, 2011

A Character, Better to Lose Than To Find

Have you ever met someone who was just so shallow that you felt sorry for him?

My husband works with just such a boy. I'll call him Boy-Wonder, not because he reminds me of Batman's sidekick, Robin, but because at his age, it's a wonder he's not more of a man than a spoiled adolescent.

This boy is probably late 20', maybe early 30's.  He must be very wounded and that is sad, to start out life under the ladder, having to struggle and climb just to get to break even. 

Customers have often complained to my husband that this boy talks down to them.  One customer in particular, a professional photographer, won't even go in the store any more because of the condescending attitude of this boy. 

The store my husband works for is very well known for the quality of their photo processing. That has truly been their claim to fame. The BEST, absolute best quality photos come out of their lab. A major part of that has been the expertise and dedication of one employee, a young woman who had worked in that lab for the past 16 years. Last month, this woman passed away in her sleep. 

Everyone was devastated. My husband was paralyzed with shock when I told him about the phone message his boss had left on our phone. She was so young, just turned 50. A vibrant, healthy person, gone.  

Every employee in the store was in a state of bewilderment. How could she be gone. She was there, every morning when every body else arrived. Many of the other employees didn't know of a time when she wasn't there when they came to the store.  She was their friend. She was a vital part of the store....a VITAL part of the store.

The store hadn't been open two hours, all the employees standing in a haze of shock, when Boy-Wonder walked up to my husband and another employee and said, "Hate to sound morbid but this really gives us the opportunity to hire someone new for the lab!"

My husband simply walked away.  "Is this vomit or disgust rising up my throat?" he was thinking.  Probably a little of both, my love.

What happens in a person's life that corrupts the soul so much?  How does one become so shallow that life and the loss of life means so little?  What happened to you, Boy-Wonder?

August 29, 2011

Magical Realism

One of my favorite authors, Sarah Addison Allen. In her own words, her books are all about magical realism. My thought is, of course they are, what other can of realism is there?

Her characters are all quirky, magical and sometimes not even human. A psychic apple tree, books, a lucky red sweater!  I love every word and every sentence, but most importantly, I have absolutely no trouble believing it all!

Haven't you ever had a book jump out at you while walking through the aisles of the local library or Barnes and Noble? Ever been stuck in a major dilemma, wondering what to do, asking Source a question and listing your alternatives over and over in your head; then you turn on the television, radio or just walk into a room of strangers and hear the exact words or phrase you needed to resolve the problem?

Life is magical. Anyone who says it's not is living in a dark and dreary dream.

Liv, one of my most magical friends would say that life is numinous. She might reach up first, holding her hands about a half inch from her curly salt and pepper locks at her temples and tweak her amygdala's forward (funny how they always need a little adjustment, amygdala, not locks!). If you take a picture of her she often has various globes floating about her, or a wavy aura. Word to the wise, if Livvie points at you, duck!

Mitch, another mystical friend exuded magic. While escaping from communist Yugoslavia, Alchemy followed and obeyed his every thought.  The full moon in the sky was like a spot light on him, pointing him out to border guards. He turned moonlight into cloud cover. When the darkness proved too much he called in the occasional lightening to illuminate the trail and thunder to cover up the noise of scrambling through the underbrush.  He escaped the walls of his prison and found that he even had more freedom than the Nazi guards.  He believed in magic and freedom of spirit, the guards believed in restrictions and restraints.

My granddaughter, before she believed in the solid world, passed her fingers sideways through my nose. She giggled and said, "Nana, when you are asleep, I can wave my fingers through your nose!"  I wasn't asleep, and I felt those little fingers pass through me like ticklish stirrings of air. It was remarkable.

Mary, another one of my magical friends (Happy Birthday, Mary) can read your mind, can find a missing person or your keys by just reaching into the ethers.

Are Liv, Mitch, Jocilyn or Mary more magical than you? Of course not, they just believe in living life to the fullest. They don't believe in limitations. They know in the very deepest part of their souls that everything and anything is possible and they aren't afraid to dip into the possibilities.

Roll your sleeves up, friends. Take a deep breath, slip that cloak of limitations off your shoulders and make some magic!

August 16, 2011

A Really Good Man

The past several weeks I have been searching for an article published in a Reader's Digest Magazine sometime in the mid-to-late 40's.  Now I haven't found the article but that hardly means that the search has been unsuccessful.  Often, my research projects lead me down paths of numinous wonder!  This has been one of those times.

When I was a youngster (literally I was a Young-ster as my maiden name was Young)...I digress, when I was a kid and that petite Reader's Digest arrived in the mail in its tight brown wrapper my heart did a little happy dance!  Behind The Lines! Life In These United States and my personal favorites: Toward More Picturesque Speech and Quotable Quotes!

Strange to be going through the archives of a magazine, glimpsing our world in the 40's, a world being encouraged to hate, to be afraid, yet a world encouraged to have faith, to have hope.  Political Correctness was unheard of, apparently.  Alas, even with the "not so nice" verbage and philosophy, I still love the magazine and love the trails it leads me down, the treasures it exposes.

One of the monthly offerings was a short personal commentary of someone's "Most Unforgettable Character."  Lovely pieces describing personalities and characters of people who had touched one's life.

I am inspired to share a couple of my own Most Unforgettable Characters.  First character, my husband. Frank. A man I love, admire and trust, not because he is my husband but because he is, truly, a good man. When I use the word Character, it describes Frank in its fullest definition. He is a man OF character and he IS a character.

He was recently interviewed on a radio show about people who are passionate and purpose directed.  What are his passions?...Hmm, thanks for asking!

Frank is passionate about all things sky, by that I mean he loves weather, clouds, astronomy, birds, flying, hang gliding, kites, etc.  He also loves family, children, travel, discovery. He lives to be outside, and has spent the first two weeks of Daylight Savings Time, every October that I've known him, complaining about what a waste "darkness" is. How can he blow leaves on the driveway or clean rain gutters in the dark?

He has a work ethic that has no end. If I had my own company I would want a dozen Frank's working for me. He goes to work early, stays late and works 7 days a week if that's what it takes to get the job done. He doesn't stop at getting the job done but always goes beyond. In fact, he has been working 7days a week until about three weeks ago when his boss finally told him he could take Wednesday's off!

He works at Crown Camera in Redding, California.  He has worked there for over 22 years. Photography is another one of his passions but like everything about Frank, there is a back story to the passion.

When he was a young boy someone gave him an old camera. He experimented with picture taking, the desert, some old cars, odds and ends. In high school he took photography and joined the photo club. He enjoyed the creativity and processes.  Not a passion yet, but an interest, something fun to do in the few moments of spare time that he had. Frank had very few "spare moments". From the time he was 12 he was working. The oldest of 10 kids, he helped run the family business after school and in the summer, eventually taking over the running of it while his father worked a second job.  Frank has basically worked full time since the age of 12.

Shortly after his 18th birthday, his father died of complications from open heart surgery. Frank gathered all the photos he could find of his dad.  He wanted to make sure there were copies for everyone. It was vital to him that his little brothers and sisters have pictures of Frank Sr., he wanted his dad remembered. What if the little kids couldn't remember Dad's smile or his wavy black hair?

When Frank went back to the photo lab to pick up the precious pictures his heart was crushed and a passion was born. The lab had lost all the photos. No copies were made, no originals to be given back. No photos of his father to keep the memory alive in his nine brothers and sisters!

That was the day when Frank realized how truly vital photography is. Nothing is more important to most of us than family. Recording family memories, reminders of times shared with those we love, images of those familiar faces, smiles and even frowns became a priority in Frank's life.

Why is he successful at Crown Camera? Because he believes in photography and he believes in people. He knows that it is different for each person who walks in the swinging door on Market Street. He wants to help you record your history, your passions, your gardens, your kids, your grandparents...your dads!

If you have met my husband, in the store or out, you know that he is all about getting those pictures and printing them. I often wonder why I don't hear him whisper in his dreams at night, "...get those pictures off your hard drive and print them!..."  He knows the pain of lost images, he doesn't want you to lose your connection with the past and lost loved ones.

Frank is passionate about teaching people to take the best pictures you can! He is passionate about matching you with a camera or equipment that you will be comfortable with and that you will use.  He could sell you a camera with all the bells and whistles but unless you have the experience and expertise, he never would. He wants you to use your camera. A camera sitting on the shelf gathering dust because you are afraid of it is not what he is about.

Our phone often rings at odd hours of the day, from sun up to awesome sun downs! "Frank! How do I capture this sunset?" "Frank, there are too many shadows, what should I do?" He loves those calls, because when he hangs up he knows that you are going to be so happy with your photo that you will take more.

He takes people out on the river trail or sits at our kitchen table to help them learn their camera, their new lens or just learn about composition.  Ever the teacher, Frank is definitely in his element helping others be the best they can be or doing the best they can.

What else about my Frank? He is just as passionate about having fun and he is also passionate about God.  He is one of the most spiritual men I have ever met.  Not a man who preaches his religion to others, or judges others because of their beliefs, but a man who nurtures a personal relationship with God, every day.

There is a Perpetual Adoration room at our church, a part of the church to sit, quietly with Christ through the Eucharist.  It is manned 24 four hours a day, 7 days a week. Frank has attended Adoration every Saturday morning at 1:00 a.m.  for a quiet hour of prayer and has been for about 10 years. It is the rare Saturday that he is not there. He also sits in prayer and adoration on Monday's at 6 p.m. and at 1 a.m. one Friday morning  a month for the Knights of Columbus.  He is a Eucharistic Minister and has often conducted communion services for shit-ins and taken Communion to nursing home residents. Frank has taught Altar Servers, training them not only what to do during Mass but teaching Servers "why" they do what they do during mass, always emphasizing "reverence".

He taught RCIA classes at Our Lady of Mercy for a couple of years.  He loved sharing his faith with returning Catholics and those new to the faith.  Now one might think that Frank would have a "know-it-all" kind of attitude but nothing could be further from the truth.  He searches every day for a closer relationship with God and a deeper understanding of his faith. Often exclaiming out loud, with joy, of his newest "aha moment!"

Frank is a good man, a really good man.

Oh, at last but not least, one of my most favorite things about Frank?  He makes me feel cherished! And that, my friends, is a good thing!

June 23, 2011

Once Upon a Time: A Story

Once Upon a Time, as the story always goes, there lives a marvelously imaginative little girl. Her name is Alaina.
Now, Alaina is very much like you and me. She has a big sister, a cat named Monkey, 5 dogs (4 huskies and a hound) and a large aquarium full of fish. She sleeps in a bed with three pillows, a pink paisley quilt and 27 stuffed animals.  She sometimes eats cereal for breakfast but her favorite breakfast is pancakes or waffles, pass the whipped cream and strawberries please! She loves hamburgers and pizza but she really, really, really doesn’t like mustard or potatoes.  Everyone always looks at her with disbelief and wrinkles in their eyebrows when she doesn’t eat her french fries or says “No, thank you”, to servings of mashed potatoes.

Alaina has blonde hair and big brown eyes, though sometimes if you glimpse her dancing down the hallway you might think her hair is pink or shiny black or striped in shades of blue and purple. You might think she is wearing a princess ballgown but  when you look again you see that she is just wearing her pajamas.  Sometimes, if you walk into Alaina’s bedroom you might hear her stuffed animals talking to her.

You see, Alaina’s imagination is soooooo big that it fills the room and, very often, leaks into your head!
One hot summer afternoon, Alaina and her sister Jocilyn, decided that it was just too hot to go outside and really, they were very tired of being stuck indoors.

“I know” said Alaina, “Let’s go deep sea diving and visit the sea horses and starfish!”

“Mommy,” Jocilyn asked, “Can Alaina and I go exploring in the ocean?”

Mommy was teaching one of their husky puppies to sit and, if you know huskies, they don’t like to be taught to do anything unless it is their idea! So, mommy was a little distracted.

“Sure!” Mommy answered, holding the treat above Cooper’s head, “Just try to be back in time for dinner!”
Alaina ran into her room and swooped a deep blue cover from her blanket chest.  It was so soft and had long fringy things on the edges.  Running back to the dining room, she motioned for Jocilyn to sit on the cool tile floor and Alaina sat down beside her, much like Little Miss Muffet’s friend the spider.

Sitting criss-cross-apple-sauce, the girls spread the blanket over the top of them.

“Ooooooh,” said Alaina, “I like it down here in the ocean!”

“Look at those shells!” exclaimed Jocilyn. “Hey, there is a hermit crab living in that one!”

“Jocilyn!, Jocilyn!” shouted Alaina, “Look at that octopus, they really do have eight legs!  How do they dance with so many legs?”

Sponges here and there on the ocean bottom, moved so very slowly and tiny little schools of orange and yellow and sparkling blue fish darted in and out of swaying plants.

“Have you ever seen a mermaid down here?” her sister asked Alaina.

“Of course, I have! They always seem to know when I visit! Here comes one now.”  Alaina said, as she pointed to the west.

It was hard to see the mermaid at first because the scales on her tail were the same color as the ocean, sea green and aqua blue. As she came closer her tale became very shiny.

The mermaid nodded her head and greeted them, “Hello, Girls! Have you come for a tour?”

Alaina smiled and introduced her sister to the beautiful sea creature.

“Glad to make your acquaintance, Jocilyn!” she said. “Come, follow me!” She took hold of each of the girls hands and together they continued to swim.

A giant blue shadow floated above them. Ah, a whale on its way to Alaska!

Balloons with long legs floated by…”Jocilyn, look, jelly fish!”

They saw bright red star fish with many, many, many arms. They saw purple starfish with just 5 arms.

“Here come the seahorses!”
“Oh my,” sighed Jocilyn, "I just love seahorses."

There was a tall forest of seaweed. “This is kelp,” said the mermaid.  They kicked their legs and made their way through the long flat leaves.

The mermaid smiled really big and squeezed their hands, “Look",she said, "Here comes a very good friend of mine!”

An immense turtle was swimming towards them. If turtles can smile, I do believe this one was smiling.

“Jocilyn, Alaina, this is …”

“We know, we know!” shouted the girls. “You are Chelonis!  You are the great seafaring turtle!”

“Nice to meet you, young ladies. Climb onto my shell, all three of you!” ‘the giant grandfatherr turtle winked at them and they continued their adventure under the waves of the deep blue ocean.

A long, long shadow started to follow them. The mermaid was looking over her shoulder and getting a little fidgety.  “I am afraid we have uninvited company,” she said.

The turtle slowly turned in the water. Everyone gasped as an enormous great white shark came into view.   “Hold on tight, girls” said Chelonis, “I think we can out run him!”

“Wait!” shouted Jocilyn, “I’ve read about sharks, I know how to make him go away!”

Jocilyn eased herself to the edge of the turtle and braced herself. The shark was swimming in circles around them. With each circle, it came closer and closer.  They could see rows and rows of scary, sharp teeth in the sharks huge mouth. It continued to circle, coming closer and closer still.

Just as the shark suddenly turned to attack, Jocilyn made a big fist and punched the menacing sharkt right in the end of its long nose! The shark winced hard and hightailed it off into the dark depths of the ocean.

“Yay” everyone shouted, “good for you, Jocilyn!”

“Girls…..Girls” Jocilyn and Alaina could hear Mommy calling them. “Time to clean up for dinner girls.”

“Bye!” said Jocilyn to her new friends
“Bye!” said Alaina to her new friends, “We’ll be back!”

The girls threw the blanket off of them and headed to clean up for dinner.

“Wait!” said Mommy. “You forgot to put the blanket back where you got it!”

Too late, the girls were already down the hall, talking to each other about their adventure.
Mommy picked up the blanket to fold it and put it away.

“What is this?” Mommy asked herself. The blanket was a little bit wet. When she looked down at the floor there was a long piece of seaweed, a tiny periwinkle sea shell in a couple of drops of water where the girls had been sitting.

Mommy just smiled. She knew that nothing is better than a strong imagination!

June 20, 2011

Reading to Children

Reading. Reading. Reading. I love to read. I read everything and I can't remember a time when I didn't read everything....everything! Milk cartons, cereal boxes, if it had print on it, I read it.

Reading to my children and grandchildren is also, a great joy for me. Somewhere I read that a young child was asked how he knew his daddy loved him and he answered, "Because he doesn't skip any pages when he reads me a story!"  Wise Daddy!

Reading to children opens up new worlds to them; enriches their lives. Reading introduces children to cultures and ideas, consequences of choices and critical thinking.  They learn correct pronunciation and language skills. Reading enriches vocabulary.

When you read aloud do you read all at the same tone and tempo or do you find your voice fluctuating in resonance? Do your characters all speak alike or do some squeak while others kind of grumble? Do some sound French while others sound like they are from the deep south?

Do you want to truly give the children in your life a gift? Read aloud and read with exuberance. Enunciate and exaggerate! Entertain and delight! Vary your face and your pace, and, for the sake of all that is holy, stop looking at your damn watch!

June 06, 2011

Father's Day...a message to Dads.

Father's Day is right around the corner. A day to celebrate Dads around the world. We need to thank Sonora Smart Dodd for launching the idea of a Father's Day.  

In 1909 she was listening to a sermon regarding Mother's Day. Her mother had died and her father had raised her and her siblings pretty much by himself.  She decided to honor him and pay tribute to his courage and sacrifices by celebrating the first Father's Day on his birthday, June 19th. 

She later solicited an official Father's Day but it was not well accepted. People made a joke of it. In 1913 it was made official but wasn't really approved until Woodrow Wilson showed support for the holiday in 1916. Since then we have honored our fathers with a day of their own....but is only the one day a year, the rest of the year the media invades our homes and portrays fathers, and men in general, as idiots, derelicts and morons. They have basically become the laughing stock of our culture and commercial television!

Fathers on television can't make toast without burning the house down. Male bashing is in.  If aliens landed today, after monitoring our televisions for a year or two, I am sure they would believe the average american male over 21 to have an IQ of about 23....32 max. Then, as they age, their IQ drops drastically!  

Why do we allow this?  What young boy wants to see role models who are good only for their paycheck?  Can't cook, better order pizza.  What about the idiot who goes to Vegas and calls wifey to say he lost his "chips!" Why do we purchase products that portray our men in such dismal light? Young girls are not inspired to raise their sights on men of character and values...according to our media, those men do not exist.

Can we please have some decent television and commercials that sell an idea or product without bashing men, (or women or children!) How about honoring people? What about "at no one's expense" and "love thy neighbor"?

That said.....Have you watched any HGTV lately?  All the men on the shows talk about their dream for a "man cave" cave!  Each guy wants his man cave....a nice big room where he can be alone with his "man friends" and his "big man tv".  A place where he can shut out his wife and his kids. 

After spending his 40 or 50 hours away from home he wants to isolate himself for his Sunday games and playoffs and whatever else a man cave is for.  Most of these men are also looking for a nice big PRIVATE office space, another door shut on the kids and wife.  

Hey, I like a little down time myself.  Nothing better than a quiet moment of rest and recuperation but, geez, how about staying single and getting yourself a real cave?

If you want to be a father and you have children then sit in the family room with them, let them crawl on your lap, let them ask you questions about why the sky is a participating cog in the family not a missing one!

Oh, and Happy Father's Day, ya'll!

June 05, 2011


My grandmother Rose has been on my mind this morning. Grandma, bread, and Jesus! What a mix, huh?

Do you ever have those days when there is a swirl of thought carried by its own energy in and out of your head, around your body, peeking out at you from behind every door and curtain?  There is a strong essence of something divine in the energy but nothing that I can grab. It's real enough that I know that I should be able to at least smell it; I feel it but it swirls just above the fine hair on my arms,  just out of reach. Teasing me to stretch, search, find.

Bread is very much a part of this mystery today.  Of course, when I think of bread I think of Grandma.  Anyone who was gifted a thick slice of her fresh home baked bread right out of the oven, would claim, "Aha, this is where the divine comes in!'  Her bread was definitely heaven sent!

If you have not experienced baking bread with a beloved grandmother you are definitely missing one of the finest blessings of life.  Sifting flour, tossing in a bit of this and a bit of that, watching timeworn hands kneading and kneading with a soulful rhythm, all the while surrounded by unconditional love. Watching the little towel rise as the dough grows under it.

There may be scientific reasons why dough rises but I always felt the small ball of dough doubled and tripled in size because Grandma's love was being absorbed be the bread.  That's what made it so truly delicious. 

In ancient times, the women who baked the bread, who kneaded the dough, had to go to confession prior to making bread. It was believed that sin and negativity would infiltrate the cells of the bread. In Bulgaria the dough for the special bread of holy days was mixed with "silent water," water brought from the wells by a virgin maiden in absolute silence. Flowers and herbs were then soaked in the water to flavor it, then only a young girl or newly married woman could knead the dough. Only someone filled with love and joy.

Sadly, today,  in a world where tradition is laughed at and rituals, other than daily flossing, are the target of scorn, kneading dough is being discarded.  Many new cookbooks are suggesting "knead-less" recipes. Dough is made with extra liquid and stored in the refrigerator for several days to do its gluten-thing.  Where is the soul in that?  Where is the love?  Talk about a white bread with nothing to offer but air.   Where is the intention of purpose?  Sad, very, very sad.

To  "break bread" with another is about making peace, sharing, to engage and partner. How can a mess of soupy flour and water, sitting in a bowl in the coldness of a darkened, noisy refrigerator ever be worthy of the ritual and humanity of breaking bread?

A starter is a piece of dough in which yeast is continually reproducing with regular help from the baker. Sourdough breads need a starter.  San Francisco's famous Boudin sourdough bread is still made from a starter created prior to 1849. This starter or "mother dough" as it is often called, was rescued from the bakery in San Francisco during the earthquake of 1906. Mrs Boudin carried the mother dough in a bucket to Golden Gate Park where she continued to bake the famous bread until they reopened the bakery at a new location. Can you imagine, a mother dough more than a hundred years old!

In ancient times daily breads were typically made from barley. Wheat was only used for special occasions, for holy days.  I often wonder why we have so many wheat allergies today, is it because we are over indulging in the holy without the reverence?

When I was a young woman I had an old neighbor who was from Greece. Mr. Macdemus. What a wonderful character he was.  He walked with a cane and came through the fence often to see my garden. He  made fun of my garden because I had pretty ribbons tied here and there and my garden beds were not straight rows. I planted beds of companion plants, veggies and fruits that liked each other and tasted good together. If they taste good together they always grow better together!

One day he was at the house when I was making sandwiches for the kids. I placed a loaf of bread on its side! Thump! He whacked me with his cane. (he always did alot more whacking with it than walking with it). He admonished me about my lack of reverence for bread, the staple and icon of life.  "Jesus chose bread to share his body with humanity!" he exclaimed. "Never, ever handle it without reverence and always place it in an upright position!"

So, today, Grandma, Bread and Jesus and I guess, Mr. Macdemus are gently making themselves known to me today...good day to bake some bread.

May 29, 2011

A Random Thought.....Rutabaga! Seriously?

Rutabaga...root bag! Isn't that what you would call your little brother when he has annoyed the hell out of you for the million-teenth time?  How could this be something you would want to invest time in cooking let alone putting it on your plate or serving it to company?

Poor vegetable. It not only has one of the worst names but it looks bruised and beaten. It is a cross between cabbage and a turnip....really? God, were you really tired the day you invented the rutabaga?  You even hid the poor thing underground!

In Scotland this root bag is called a "neep" and in England (hold the respect) it is a "snaggers". Yum...not!
But then, the Brits call beets "mangelwurzel"!

 Uh...please pass the carrots!

May 28, 2011

Thunder.....oh yeah

Thunder thunder
rumble and roar,
close the windows
and lock the door.

Do you remember this poem from grade school?  Close the windows and lock the door?  Not at our house. 

We are a household that throws open the doors and windows.  We watch and we wait.  We count moments from flash to rumble. Eyebrows raise the closer it gets!  All the better if the hair on our arms and neck stands at attention while the goose bumps race to the top of our heads.

"Open the doors. It is warm;
And where the sky was clear--
Look! The head of a storm
That marches here!
" (Mark Van Doren)

Thunder, glorious to some, damn scary to others.  Gather the candles! Where is that flashlight?
Don't answer the phone...(in the old days of land lines...the lightening could get you). Get out of the tub or the shower!

No fear here. Thunder is therapy. It's rumbles cleanse. The sudden burst of light in the lightening, the salvo, growling low and building as it nears, purging sins and wounds from heart and soul.

"The farthest Thunder that I heard
Was nearer than the Sky
And rumbles still, though torrid Noons
Have lain their missiles by --
The Lightning that preceded it
Struck no one but myself --
But I would not exchange the Bolt
For all the rest of Life ..." Emily Dickenson

Have you ever made a declaration and a sudden clap of thunder attests that, if not God, 
at least the heavens above are in full agreement?  Ah, synchronization of heaven and earth, 
truth and faith!

Did you know that you can make thunder?  We have all done so at one time or another and
 don't even know that we have mimicked Zeus or Thor or even Chaac, the Mayan god of thunder.
Blow up a small paper bag and then pop it. Bang,  the air inside has expanded quickly, 
just as it does when it is heated by lightning. 

Same principle but gods do things so much bigger!

May 27, 2011

Married 27 Years

My husband and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary yesterday.  It was a joyful celebration.

Like any couple we have had our up and downs but truly more ups and the longer we are together the ups just keep coming.

I met Frank over 30 years ago. I was an Information Specialist (Tour Guide) for the Bureau of Reclamation at Shasta Dam, he was a Hang Glider Pilot. At the beginning of a tour one hot afternoon, while standing on top of the dam a big shadow sped across all of us and we heard a shout, "Look up!"

We looked up and there was Frank, gliding over the dam, using the lift from the heat off the concrete. He looked like a giant blue caterpillar, hanging from his glider. Ever the photographer, he had a camera attached to the far side of a wing.

Well, no one wanted to hear about Shasta Dam, or the Central Valley Project or anything, except the Hang Gliders and their pilots for the rest of the tour.  "Where do they launch?" "Where do they land?" "Who are these daredevils?" "How do you get to the launch?" "Do they ever land in the river?" The rest of the tour was all about hang gliding.

Later, that afternoon, I was sitting in the tower, a highly coveted spot for us tour guides, away from the politics of the visitor center. I was reading a book that had been passed from one guide to another, a little bit of a no-no, but sometimes you could sit in the tower for hours and never have any one come in to ask about the next tour or the dam.

In walks this very nice looking man. I quickly put the book on my knee and then pushed it up against the bottom of the table, holding it by keeping my foot on its toes.  He came in and told me he was the pilot who flew over my tour. He sat down across from me and we started to talk. After about 5 minutes, he smiled and told me, "You can take that book out from under the table, your leg is getting shaky!"

He was very nice. He was interesting. He was a City of Redding fireman. We talked a little longer and then he left.

A week or two later he came back, but this time he had a friend with him, this time he had an audience and this time he was a jerk! Yup, a jerk.

He came in many more times while I was working there. When he was alone, he was very nice. I enjoyed our visits.  Whenever he came in with one of his cohorts, if I caught sight of them before he came into the visitor center, I would usually grumble to my fellow guides, "I'm going in the back, call me when this jerk leaves!" The rest of my tenure at the dam, I avoided him if I could.

Shortly after being riffed from the Bureau, I was hired by a home health agency.  I was spinning blood for hematocrits at a local health fair.  I looked up from the spinner and saw a vaguely familiar looking man standing in line at another booth.  God's honest truth, he was in color and everyone else in my vision faded to  shades of gray. I do tend to see people's auras but this was different.  Way different!

He was looking at me. When he saw that I was looking at him, he turned his attention back to the line he was in.

I was intrigued! How could it be that he was in full technicolor and everyone else had faded into a colorless background?  I still remember what he was wearing, white linen trousers, royal blue yoked t-shirt and a royal blue zip-front sweatshirt, Everytime I looked up, I caught him watching me. Then he disappeared. I was sad.
Who was that man?

Maybe half and hour later, he was standing at our booth, signing his name and medical release. I walked over to him.

"Hi, I'm Toni, You probably noticed that I was watching you when you were standing in that other line," I said. "but I noticed that you were looking at me too!"

"No, I wasn't!" was his response. No, I wasn't? No, I wasn't? I have no time for this guy, sign from god or not!

"Well, then screw you!" I shrugged my shoulders and walked away.

"Wait, wait!" he said with a look of shock on his face! "I was looking at you!"

We drew his blood and while it was spinning,  we talked. We have been talking ever since.

He asked me out for dinner. I advised him  that he really didn't want to date me. "I have three kids," I told him, "They go where I go and usually a couple of their friends, so wherever I go I usually have about six kids with me!"

"I'm the oldest of 10!" he answered.

I discovered over the years that he is passionate about all-things-sky, clouds, weather, birds, stars. He is passionate about photography. He is passionate about science and technology. He is a deeply spiritual and religious man, a devout catholic. He loves our grandchildren more than life itself and never passes up the opportunity to teach them something or to let them know how proud of them he is and how much they are loved. He has a photographic memory for numbers and science, but, can't remember anyone's name to save his life. He does not believe he knows it all, he reads and reads and reads. I believe he wakes every morning, looking forward to what he may learn this day!
Resting at landing site after a flight.

He is my best friend. It is a good feeling, to know that you are loved and cherished, and he makes me feel that in many ways. He is romantic, he is funny, he is sexy, he is passionate, he is Frank.  I love him. I am looking forward to the next 27 years with him.

May 15, 2011

Trinity Lake

Don't you just love the mountains?  The sounds of the wind blowing through the pines, the call of the osprey as it glides through the sky, the smell of pine, forest soil rich in its own mulch and, mostly, the smell and energy of adventure!

I was born and raised in Colorado and spent many, many days in the Rockies. Camping near a creek or river, sitting on a big rock watching my dad fish, running through the woods with my sister and brother. Now I live in Redding near the Sacramento River so I am surrounded by mountains on three sides. Though I can see them everyday it just isn't the same as being in them, part of them, in their mystical energy.

Pretty often my husband and I pack the car with our cameras, a quilt and pillows, lunch, color pencils and drawing pad and head off into the mountains for our fix!

Yesterday, we drove into the west, on Highway 299, headed for Trinity Lake. Not a spectacular day for photography with the cloud cover and wind but a great day for sweethearts to just drive and talk and be.

Trinity Lake is a man made lake, doesn't matter though, its gorgeous. Surrounded by tall trees, marshes and wonderful mountains, it invites one to sit still and be a part of it. "Join me in my celebration of life," it invites you with the whispering of the trees and the waves lapping against the shore.

Trinity Dam was built by the Bureau of Reclamation in the early 60's, maybe finished in 1964, if I remember correctly.  The lake was originally named Trinity Lake and later changed to Claire Engle Lake after the U.S. Congressman and Senator.  Born in Bakersfield and grew up in Red Bluff, Mr. Engle loved the northstate.

He lost his voice due to a brain tumor and still fought, without a the aide of speech, the building of nuclear power plants in San Francisco. Even though the name of the lake was officially changed to Clair Engel, it didn't catch on. The people of Trinity County are total mountain people and, by god, no one is the boss of them. They stuck to the name Trinity Lake and today it is once again, Trinity Lake.

I think there are about 147 miles of shoreline, though it might be 127, still substantial but way smaller than Lake Shasta which boasts 365 miles of shoreline.  I have often wondered what it would be like to take a year and hike the lake, one mile per day!  I know myself though and am sure I would find a nice beach or nice inlet and stay 5 days and make it up on the 6th day! 

We've camped on the shores of both lakes many times, skied on the waters in the hot summer and sang and laughed around campfires at night.  While camping at Trinity, my husband and I kidnapped a pair of Seattle Seahawk sweatshirts from some friends.  My sister and I photographed the poor sweatshirts in all manner of degradation, sleeping in the doorway of the bus station in the middle of the night, sitting at a dive bar with empties all around, hitchhiking along the road in the bad side of town! We sent the photos to the owners with a ransom note...I don't remember how the sweatshirts were returned but I don't believe the ransom was paid. Our Seahawk friends remained Seattle fans and would not come over to the dark side, the black and silver of the Raiders.
Yesterday, we parked at the side of one of the marshes. Binoculars and cameras in hand we hiked around, discovered wildflowers bursting in color here and there, birds galore flitting about and watching us. One osprey whistled as it soared above our heads. A little family of Canada Geese floated by. They, too, watched and studied us and we studied them.

We found a pine cone that had been completely dismantled and all the nuts broken open, little chew marks here and there.  Deer tracks, raccoon tracks..."Frank, is this a bear track?"

Back in the car we drove further until we found the campground we shared so many wonderful memories with good friends. We stopped, wandered around the shoreline, remembering the breakfasts around the fire, cold mountain air, a big cup of coffee sweetened with a large portion of Baileys or Emmetts.  Is anything better then smelling the smoke from last night's fire in your hair and clothes? Looking across the fire and seeing friends, sleep still in their eyes, bed hair and smiles!

All alone in the campground we even did a little making husband is a really good kisser!

It was a good day!

May 09, 2011

A Mother's Heart

Being a mom is the most precious blessing in the world. Having a mom is the second most precious blessing in the world. There are those blessings though that come with pain, an agony so deep that only death can relieve it, maybe. Maybe the burn is that it stays with you after death, maybe hell was designed from the wounds of a child who had not felt a mother's love. Maybe the architect of hell was a mother whose anguish came from feeling the disdain of her child, a child she has loved more than life.

My dear friend Mitch told me an old Serbian story, a story that defines a Mother's love. I'd like to share it.

There was an old woman who had raised her children. They had all left home and made lives for themselves. Some lived near and some lived far.

Her oldest son, who loved her dearly, still lived close by, just a short walk through the forest. He visited his mother often. Taking her cheese from the village and sometimes bringing in wood for her fire. His wife really didn't like these visits. She felt that it took time away from her. She really was quite jealous of his mother. She could not understand love that was without conditions, love that was without boundaries.

When the son would come home from visits with his mother, bringing a fresh loaf of bread from his mother's oven or a small jar of his mother's jam, the wife would become hysterical.  She would demand that he throw the bread out. She would accuse him of loving his mother more than her.  

The young man tried all that he could to prove to his wife how much he loved her. He stopped going to his  mother's house for visits at his wife's insistence. 

He still had to hunt in the forest near her home. When he would return home with a dove or a rabbit his wife would accuse him of visiting his mother's home. "But you were in the forest near her home!" She would scream.  He stopped hunting in the forest at his wife's insistence.

Walking down the village lane, shopping at the open market, the man and wife happened along his mother as she traded some eggs for cheese.  The young man wrapped his arms around his mother and gave her the biggest hug. His wife lifted her skirts and stormed off towards home.  

"You love her more than me!" the wife ranted at her husband when he returned home.
"Sweetheart, I love you! You are my wife. She is only my mother." The young man tried and tried to make her understand the difference between the love of a mother and the love of a wife. She would have nothing to do with it.

"Prove your love for me!" she demanded.
"Anything,  my love, anything!"

Kill your mother and bring me her heart.  He could see how intent his wife was.  If he didn't commit this abominable deed he would lose the love of his life.  He agreed.

He went to the village and bought a big wheel of his mother's favorite cheese and fresh strawberries that his mother loved so much.  He presented the gifts to his mother and when she turned her back to prepare some of the berries and cheese for her son he drove a knife into her back. 

He wrapped her heart with the scarf from her head and placed the bundle into his leather pack.  Headed straight home to present the bleeding heart to his wife, tears streamed down his face. The dark of the forest and the tears made it difficult to see the path. He begin to walk faster and faster. He was almost running when his foot caught on a root and flying he went. 

His face and knees and hands were skinned and bleeding, thorns and pebbles embedded in his palms and his knees. His mother's heart flew from the satchel, unrolled from the scarf as it bounced, coming to rest at his side. Gently, the heart whispered, "Are you okay, my son?"

May 07, 2011

When Our President Said, "I Did It"

One of my friends changed her status on Facebook. "Bin Ladin is dead."

What? I ran to the living room where my husband was reading the newspaper.  I turned on the tv and, wow, it was everywhere. Depending on what channel we watched the story was different.  I remember when I was a kid and watched the news, it seemed that news had to be confirmed before it was reported, but today, any rumor is reported as factual. the clowns that report the news were reporting it all,  "Huge shoot out," "Been dead for over a week" etc.

The President comes to the screen. He confirms that, finally, Osama Bin Ladin, the evil architect of 9/11 is dead.Was killed just hours earlier. In his speech he used the word "I" several times.  The final order to "Go" came from him. Ultimately, the decision to kill OBL came from our President.  The Ultimate responsibility was President Obama's.

Oh the backlash!  "he's taking credit, must be an election year," "boy is our president taking all the glory," everything from A to Z.

Then came the confirmation of Bin Laden's death from Al Qaeda and with that confirmation came the promises of retaliation and revenge. 

When our president stepped onto that platform and said, "I did it" he knowingly placed a huge target on himself and his family.  Could you do that? If you had two precious little daughters and a beautiful wife who have to live in the world, would you get on national tv and announce to the bad guys that you are responsible for killing their leader?

Would you be prepared to carry that target for the rest of your life?  Al Qaeda is an extremist terrorist group. We all know what they are capable of.  Do you have the courage to do what Mr. Obama did?

May 01, 2011

A Prayer for May 1, 2011


I did not write this and don't know who did but I thought I would share it.

Audio, Video, Disco

Did you take Latin in high school?  I did. I was headed for college for pre-med and my counselor advised me to take German and Latin.  German was fun, Mr. Allen, my teacher was a hoot but we will leave Mr. Allen for another day, another blog.

Latin class, however, was very...well, difficult! Not the learning of Latin but being in a public school with a teacher who was also my catechism teacher at St Lucy's Catholic Church. I was a little bit of a disruptive student in religious class, asking many, many questions. When I showed up in Mr. Loring's latin class I am sure I saw his head shake and might have even heard a little prayer escape from his lips, "Why me, God?" 

I did receive an A in the class but it was an uphill battle all the way....I did not take a second year of Latin! But I most definitely continued my catechism classes.

I discovered that Latin is fun though.  I especially love Latin mottoes. Latin adds a touch of sophistication, a distinguishable aura to a phrase. Can you imagine the Captain of a ship, standing at the helm, sword in hand, demanding obedience from his sailors, "A Mari Usque Ad Mare?"  Captain Jack Sparrow is the sexiest pirate "from sea to sea" but A Mari Usque Ad Mare makes one forget about the poor hygiene, me thinks!

For all of you who think that we are not a Christian Nation, a quick peek at the dollar bill should change your mind.  Latin phrases on it are sprinkled all over our currency.  Other than "In God We Trust"  there is the phrase "Annuit Cœptis",  literally translated, "He approves of the undertakings"! Some may certainly argue that may mean has approved but no one disagrees with who the He is.  It definitely wasn't King George!  Of course, adding the national seal with it's "Deo Favente" (with God's Favor) seals the pun intended!  By the way, speaking of the National Seal, there is also the word "Perennis" at the bottom of the pyramid which means Everlasting. That would seem to imply that God approves the undertakings forever.  Hmm, I bet He's not very happy with us at the moment. 

Surely, you have all heard Carpe Diem! Seize the Day! Get out there and do it! Live! The phrase, I believe came from Horace and the whole phrase is Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero – "Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future."  My take on that? Drink your wine today folks, there might not be a tomorrow!

In the Gospel of John, verse 8:32, John pens Veritas vos liberabit or Veritas liberabit vos.  "The truth shall set you free." Especially, if you listen to me and drink your wine today!  Doesn't have to be wine! How does one say, Eat your Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia today, there might not be a tomorrow!

Nec Temere, Nec Timide  translates to Neither rashly nor timidly and is the motto of the Royal Danish Naval Academy and the University of Edinburgh.  It reminds me of Dylan Thomas' poem. 

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, 
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, 
Do not go gentle into that good night.

We all call our old school or university our Alma Mater. Did you know that means Nourishing Mother?
Wish I'd had one of those; nourishing mother, that is, not a university! Speaking of mother, I believe her motto could have been, "Conlige suspectos semper habitos" "Round up the usual suspects!" Just ask my brother and sister!

Want to be your very best? Your motto could be "Ad alta" - To the summit!  Maybe you are a little learning challenged you might adopt the call, "Ad astra per aspera" - To the stars through difficulty!  But then again, why ask for trouble, shorten your motto to "Ad astra"- To the stars. Short, Sweet and can be embroidered on your baseball cap!

How many professors have had this little adage on their desks, or at least wished they had it? "Disce aut discede"? Learn or leave! 

"Audio, video, disco." Believe it or not, this is a famous Latin adage - I hear, I see, I learn. Now that is just wrong! It seems to me the interpretation should be I rock, I play, I dance! My argument that Latin is not a dead language but a language that is adapting!

My personal favorite? Aut viam inveniam aut faciam! Translation: I will either find a way or make one! Yes, one can fit a square peg in a round hole!

And you? What are you thinking of my little blog today? Are you thinking "Non Gradus Anus Rodentum!  Not Worth A Rat's Ass!