Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring hiking; take one!

Gaiters and lichen and rain, oh my!

A pair of gaitered women, much-loved members of The Church of the Sensible Footwear, joined one Collie/St. Bernard mix and a fellow girl pal and trekked up the Boulder River trail today in a lovely misting rain.  A fine time was had by all!

Sweet Sully, sporting his own pack,
with his beloved Sheryl, at Boulder Falls.

Jenny and Ellen: choir buddies, yoga fans,
 and lovers of all things bike!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A bulleted list

A small collection of truths,
in no particular order:

  • I smoked for three weeks in grade nine.
  • At age six, curiosity propelled me to drop our chihuahua from the sundeck to the ground below. 
  • I excelled at shoplifting-- until I got caught.
  • I took risks that could have had horrific outcomes.

As for the sign, well, frankly, I regret plenty.
That was then; this is now.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Gathered in community

Spoken as a call and response last evening at a Service of Remembrance at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance:

In the rising of the sun and in its going down, 
we remember them.
In the blowing of the wind, and the calm of its stillness, 
we remember them.

In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring, 
we remember them.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer, 
we remember them.

In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn, 
we remember them.
In the midpoint of the year, and at its beginning and end, 
we remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength, 
we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart, 
we remember them.

When we have joys we yearn to share, 
we remember them.
So long as we live, they too shall live, 
for they are now part of us, 
we remember them.

Littany of Remembrance by Roland B. Gittelsohn

And remember them, I do.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unleashed creativity

A creative one, this.  Always designing, cutting, and crafting things from paper and natural objects, he's a veritable poster child for thinking outside the box of conventions.  Trust me when I say that he kept things lively the year he was a student in my classroom as a Kindergartner.  
Most memorable was the day he tucked a googly eye into his ear canal and casually mentioned it during recess to a classmate.  "Jonah put an EYE in his EAR!" Elijah responsibly reported, and, well, the rest is history.  (Yes, he visited the school nurse, and no it could not be retrieved, and yes, he was put under anesthesia to have it removed surgically, and yes, his mother created a poster board of the entire escapade.)
But check out the twinkle in that child's eyes.  Oh, the rascally things boys do.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Vertical then, horizontal now

Everybody's outside today. Mowers are humming, families are unearthing dusty tools and toys, and bare legs in various hues are in full view. My dear spouse spent his morning reading indoors, got out of his fleece lounge-wear by mid-afternoon, showered, dressed for the warmer weather, and promptly fell asleep in the sun with a worn paperback still upright in his hands.

As neighbors edge, mow, weed and crawl about on their knees, I recall with fondness a time when my dear man did the same. Today is not that day.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Friends at play

Keepin' it simple:

"Thumb to thigh, elbow high, reach behind, let it fly!"

A coach's guiding mantra for throwing a ball

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mindful living

During choir rehearsal last night, Virginia reminisced out loud about her dear friend Anna, a fellow alto who sang next to her for many moons until the early 1990s. "She loved to make hymns rhyme and would change the words to achieve it, leaning in to me and emphasizing her new-fangled lyrics right in my ear!"

That got me wondering about how impressions are made and what sticks. What sorts of things influence and impact what we remember about someone? The good, the bad, and the seemingly benign day-to-day stuff; is there deliberate intention to the process of remembering?

The whole thought process improved my posture right then and there. I want to be remembered for small kindnesses. Let the memory-making begin.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Curious, engaging Chriss

We met eight years ago in a crowded classroom in rural Tanzania in the foothills of Mt. Meru. Amid the chatter around us, Christian leaned forward in his chair and posed some numbers questions with focused eye contact. "What is the most powerful religion in the United States? How many people are registered voters?"

It matters not what I offered in reply, but one sure thing I know; we found some kinship, he and I, and it lives on between us still. Now in medical school, Chriss, pictured here in a community medicine class researching municipal water supplies, keeps in touch with the occasional email.

This week he wrote to ask me to send him an Amplified Bible. He wrapped up his brief note with the universal practice of commenting on the weather and signed off with a lovely closing mantra:

It's a good day, it rained twice overnight. Tanzania is having what we call Winter; to you might be Summer.
Have happy moments

One never knows where questions may lead, but having the courage to ask them is a fine place to start.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A tall order

Truly I ask you, is it too much to want more than a single day of warmth and sun?

O' weather gods, on bended knee I pray, bestow upon us the heavenly gift of
S U N S H I N E. Amen.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

And baby makes three!

Approach slowly, lower your voice, and lean in. Meet Vivian Claire Robinson, born April 13, 2012 in our nation's capital at 4 pounds 1.5 ounces at 33 weeks gestation to my lovely niece, Eliza. Early arrival and low birth weight aside, this spit-fire girl with the multi-syllable moniker emerged with working lungs, a hearty cry, and good reflexes: a blessed miracle, and no small feat. At the ready to greet her was a well-prepared medical team, two eager grandmothers, and an endearing set of first-time parents. Vivian's daddy, Adam, pictured here, displays a measure of gentleness as he gets acquainted with his new-born daughter.

Reports from her grandfather, Jeffrey, my one and only brother, showcase his classic wit:
"She lost a little weight as expected but is also getting fluids through an umbilical catheter so there is no cause for worry that she will become dehydrated. She is peeing and we will of course alert the media when she has a poop."

And this, regarding his own post-birth status with his equally tiny dog at home in North Carolina, where he provides care to his community as a family physician:
"Feather is good company and I have a freezer full of homemade soup. We will be fine; this is what families do."

Welcome little Vivian! We are thrilled you are here!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Simple truths

"Just to be is a blessing.
Just to live is holy."

Abraham Joshua Heschel

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In her own words

Known for her cheery disposition and eternal optimism, even a double-punch couldn't bring her down. Three months after learning that she had both colon cancer and Alzheimer's, my mother, pictured here in colorful attire, let's loose on the dance floor at her nephew's wedding.

Ten years earlier, while still fully engaged in her busy professional life as a business owner and interior designer, she carved out time to pen a letter to her four children. We found it yesterday in a stack of family documents:


Dear Kids,

You have been the light, the way and the life for me in this wonderful visit to this earth. You can tell from my smile lines that I have had a hugely happy sojourn here. I owe this in great measure to you. I owe substantially to my sisters, as well. They have supported me strongly, never mind that they are my juniors.

You come from mighty good, strong stock on both sides, you were welcomed onto this earth with great delight by extended family and friends, and my wish for you is that you will continue this tradition within your own family and the extended families you cultivate and foster.

Stay together through all turbulence and celebrate together often. I'll be watching. Jerry, Bob and I are watching the late show, drinking coffee and smoking Marlboros.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

An artifact of great significance

I never had a single aspiration of wearing it, but I can, however, say this. It took three people to help me sew this triangular head-scarf, a required project in my Home Ec class in 1968, and I nearly lost my self esteem in the process. I was terrified of the sewing machine, saw myself as inadequate and inept, and was reduced to tears more than once over the prospect of completing the project.

I've revisited the experience many times in my adult life, but not once did I wonder about the scarf or its demise. I had no memory of the fabric's design until yesterday when I unearthed the scarf in my mother's drawer. There was no mistaking it; I knew exactly what I was looking at.

For 44 years she's kept it- and I had no idea. I can't say what I plan to do with the scarf, but frankly, it matters not. The value lies in the priceless gift my mother gave to me by holding on to it all these years, cherishing it, and honoring the effort that went into its creation.

Thank you, Mom, for your enduring love.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Connecting the dots

Like many folks, I need a certain measure of understanding about things to help me get from point A to point B. I had a professor a few years back who loved to mix it up, creating class syllabi that utilized bubbles, squiggly lines, and idea webs that nearly made me crazy. I learned to quietly place his plethora of creatively inspired handouts under my notebook and give him my undivided attention because his written materials made no sense to me at all.

Truth be told, I'm a fairly linear thinker. But believe me when I say I rarely get anywhere along a straight path. Today I connected the dots about my chronic hip issue. It's taken me five years and a boatload of practitioners and therapeutic modalities to get me there, but hey, it's all good!

The events, as I see them now, in linear form: 15 years of regular practice in martial arts with a great affinity for left-leading fighting techniques found me standing on my right leg a lot, holding my dominant leg up in a chambered position ready to fire kicks to the head-body-head in rapid succession which resulted in a less developed musculature on my left side. Knee surgery for a torn meniscus in 2003 was followed several years later by a switch to long-distance walking with a resulting lopsided stride (which I had no awareness of), then bursitis, chronic hip and groin tightness, a stress fracture and plantar fasciitis, a muscle strain on the back of the knee, ... connect those dots, Jen!

So, what's the benefit of seeing the dots and connecting them? For me, it's gaining insight, understanding, and finding some clarity. It's about finding ways to move forward sensibly, step by step, dot by dot, because frankly, I have places to go and I'm makin' my own path!

"The shortest distance between two points is the least interesting."

~ Kris Ellingson

Putting things in perspective

S u n, come hither.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Church of the sensible footwear and other marvelous things

The sign out front reads Faith Lutheran Church, but a quick glance around during worship today brought a more fitting name to mind: The Church of the Sensible Footwear. As if the practice of wearing Keens, clogs, Tevas and athletic shoes was not enough to signify a comfortable 'fit' for me, today brought further evidence.

"Did you hear the song of the varied thrush this morning, Karen? Do you know what you're listening for?" posed Sheryl, during choir rehearsal.

Oh how I love my church!