Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Friday, November 02, 2012

Keeping the Feast

I've been blog-friends with Milton, who blogs at Don't Eat Alone, for quite a few years. Like me, Milton spent his early years in Africa, and he also writes poetry. Recently Milton published his first book: Keeping the Feast.

As he says, "This book about what nourishes us: food, faith, family, and friends, and how all of those elements are essential ingredients of Communion--in fact, how every meal of our lives holds an invitation to the Sacred Meal."

I forgot to say that Milton's a chef, and has worked as a youth pastor as well. Who better to write about feasting, faith, and friends?

Sunday, September 09, 2012

A Quiet Moment

Now you know where I got my love for reading. From Dad, and also Mom. Isn't that the way it often works?

Of course teachers can play a big part, and grandparents, and librarians. Anyone who shows a child the many worlds to be entered simply through cracking open a book (or e-book, nowadays).

How'd you learn to enjoy reading?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Murphy's 14 Years

I waited a long time to post this--but last month we said goodbye to our sweet corgi dog, Murphy. As Anna said, he was "sassy till the end."

When the phone rings, no one's barking at us to hurry up and answer it. As we're going out the door, no doggie nips at our heels to move us along. If Jeff accidentally drops goldfish crackers on the floor while he's making his lunch, no one rushes over to gobble up the crumbs. And most of all, no velvety Murphy ears to scratch...they were the softest ears around!

Love you, Murphy. Since we had you in our lives, I'm forever a corgi fan.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bridge of Hope

At The Justice Conference in February, I found out about a group helping children through an organization called Bridge of Hope. Today I spoke to Steward, one of their volunteers, about what the group's doing in India and other Asian countries. The young man called just as I was about to sit down, drink my tea, and read the Oregonian. After I got off the phone, it struck me how differently I live than most of these children, who often labor long hours for a bit of food. Many of them live in fear of sexual predators and struggle to obtain health care and minimal education.

I'm not sure how I'm meant to be involved yet. There are multiple places I can help out, and only so much time and money. But at least I can spread awareness. That's why I linked to Bridge of Hope.

Thinking about these children called to mind a poem I wrote a few years ago. It's about a Burundian friend and his little girls.

My prayer -- may all children, male and female, know what it is to be safe and cared for by adults they trust.


All dressed up
for Sunday night --
beautiful thick hair
frizzed high,
batik wraps: purple,
yellow, magenta.
Sindamuzi’s little girls
are African orchids
beginning to bloom,
iridescent moths
at their father’s elbow,
lit candles
in the dusky rugo.

Kirundi words:
*Rugo -- a home and yard, usually enclosed by a fence

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Walkabout Grand Finale

I’ve truly enjoyed my role as Walkabout Ambassador for Weil Footwear the last 28 days. Today is officially the final day of the Walkabout, but I plan to keep walking and stay in touch with the other ambassadors, who are spread across the US!

Some of the benefits I've received from the Walkabout:

First, I find it easier to stay motivated when I’m surrounded by others who love to get out and pound the pavement or hike park trails. During the last four weeks I received encouragement from forty-plus virtual walking buddies!

Also, I appreciated the Walkabout emphasis on simplicity--all I needed was an excellent pair of walking shoes. No pressure to buy a gym membership, lots of spandex, or an expensive treadmill. My only crucial piece of equipment? Some extra comfortable shoes (provided by Weil Footwear, but now that I see how comfortable they are, I'll be replacing them when this pair wears out).

Another thing I love about walking is how it keeps me closer to nature and the changing seasons. In our Western cities, a relatively new phenomenon called nature deficit disorder is emerging. Richard Louv, who coined the term, says “The more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need.” Lots of folks in the medical world are beginning to support the idea that time spent outdoors contributes to our overall health.

Murphy and I challenge you to get out and walk in the month of May! If you live in the Vancouver/Portland area, message me and we can meet on the waterfront for an invigorating stroll.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Seattle Shots

This weekend I got a chance to walk around Seattle before I picked up our daughter from university there. When I'm walking in a city, one of my favorite things to do is take photos of public art. This whimsical mermaid decorates an iron gate in downtown Seattle.

Don't you love the skyline? I took this photo a few months ago in a park that overlooks the city. Hope I remember how to find the way back--this would be a great place to take photos through spring, summer, fall, and winter.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Voice of the Turtle

"For, lo, the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone;
the flowers appear on the earth;
the time of the singing of birds is come,
and the voice of the turtle
is heard in our land..."
--Song of Solomon 2:11-12 (KJV)

Yesterday on my walk, I saw turtles out again at Salmon Creek. A sure sign of spring!

As a child, I loved the idea of turtles vocalizing, especially since our pet box turtle never uttered a sound. It made me think of an entire chorus of turtles, singing with utter un-selfconsciousness.

Now, of course, I know the poem refers to turtledoves (in the original Hebrew)...
but part of me still wishes I could hear the turtles' song.

Monday, April 09, 2012

From the Operating Room to the Forest

My Dad, who's almost 84, still gets out and walks whenever he can. He's a great example for the rest of us!

When I was ten, my family moved back to the States from Africa. Dad didn't have a huge amount of free time because he was starting up a surgical practice and also often on call at the Woodland Park emergency room. But weekends, if he didn't have to operate or take phone calls from a drunk lady who thought she'd been bitten by a vampire (true story!), Dad planned hikes for us--to Multnomah Falls or the coast range and other scenic spots nearby.

Some of my best memories involve the smell of pine needles and hiking Columbia Gorge trails along steep drop-offs.

Who are your favorite walking partners from childhood or adulthood?

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter!

"Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song."
--John Paul II

Friday, April 06, 2012

Just in Time

So excited--my Weil Walking Shoes just arrived & fit wonderfully! Now to break them in. My original package included some Rhythm Walkers, but they were a bit snug. These Balance Walkers feel comfortable and seem to have excellent arch support. When I looked online at reviews from others who've ordered them, people raved about the built-in orthotics. [Big word alert: orthotics = corrective shoe inserts, at least in everyday use]

My feet will match our Easter eggs! If I could only find four little Murphy-size sneakers in the same color.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Spring at Salmon Creek

It's spring at Salmon Creek! Jeff and I walked until we came to a stop. The trail had flooded. All this rain we've gotten in the last few days fed the creek and it detoured onto every low-lying piece of land in its path.

We glimpsed cormorants fishing in the water and an eagle atop a very tall tree. Also heard tons of birds singing their little throats out. Yes, I believe spring is here to stay.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Portland Scenes

Attended the Blue Like Jazz movie preview today in Portland with my sister Susan and her family. I arrived about 40 minutes early, so it was a good time for a walk before the line twined around the block.

We sat up in the balcony and thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Blue Like Jazz premieres April 13th in many cities across the US. Highly recommended!

Afterwards, I found Stumptown coffee shop for a lovely strong latte. Then home across the bridge.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Around the Cul-De-Sac

I typed in the title of this post, and then googled cul-de-sac on a whim. The original meaning made me giggle!
Cul-de-sac (literally "butt of bag" in Catalan) is an expression of Catalan origin, says Wikipedia.

This photo is called "Still Life of Murphy & Forsythia." Murphy could care less about what cul-de-sac means, he just wants to leap up and finish our walk.

We managed to take a walkabout between rain drops this afternoon. But our rain garden grew mighty full. Should I be watching for an invasion of bullfrogs?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Keeping a Gratitude Journal

Part of the wellness package I received for participating in the 28 day Walkabout included Dr. Weil's book, Spontaneous Happiness. One section of the book in particular caught my attention. In his chapter on emotional well-being, Weil speaks about the benefits of feeling and expressing gratitude. One concrete way we can start doing this more is by keeping a gratitude journal.

On his website, Dr. Weil refers to author G.K. Chesterton, who wrote: You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.

Then Weil goes on to remark, "I suspect Chesterton didn't do this automatically. He knew that, like forgiveness, gratitude can and should be cultivated through diligent practice."

What a concept! We can truly transform the way we perceive life through this daily practice.

On that note, a few of the things I'm grateful for today:

*Hundreds of muscles, joints and ligaments -- so I can skip, walk, bike (and crawl, if need be).
*My husband -- who is always supportive of my writing and volunteer time!
*Danielle, David & Emily, Anna -- you give me much joy.
*Poetry -- it speaks to feelings deeper than words.
*Green leaves and buds, the flowers just beginning to bloom here in the NW -- nature's art.
*God's love -- always startling & fresh.
*Strong black tea with milk -- mmmm.

What have you found to be grateful for today?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Join Me on a 30 Day Walkabout

I'm excited to let you know that I'll be participating as an Ambassador in the Walkabout 28-day Quest for Good Health! The campaign starts Monday, March 27th with a kickoff tea in New York. Fifty ambassadors chosen from all over the US will blog, tweet, and post updates about their experiences walking 30 minutes a day.

You know how we love to involve Murphy in whatever's going on in our household--so I thought he could model the official walkabout shirt I received in the welcome package, along with a boomerang, to add some Aussie flavor. Murphy'll accompany me on some walks, although probably only ten minutes or so. Now that he's almost fourteen years old, Murphy's slowing down. But fear not! He still tries to chase neighborhood squirrels, even if his back legs don't always move in sync.

So, if you're looking for a fitness challenge, join me this next month on the Walkabout. We could be virtual walking buddies! Let me know if you're interested by leaving a comment, and I'll link to your blog or site.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bologna 2012 is Almost Here

In 2008, I attended the Bologna Book Fair -- an eye-opening experience. Click on the links to find my posts about getting ready & the writers panel, as well as a few photos from Bologna 2008.

Bologna 2012 starts tomorrow! To whet people's appetites, Cynsations is running a series of interviews and posting them in the days before the fair opens. I got to interview Bruce Degen, an author/illustrator, and Susan Raab, a marketing consultant for children's books and products.

SCBWI hosts a booth at the fair and runs special talks and events the entire time. If you happen to be at the Book Fair, stop by. You'll find plenty of interesting people!