Thursday, May 31, 2012

Just Humming Along

I’m just humming along to your nature sounds,
the busy buzzing of wings,
your furtive flights that limit captures–
ah, but I got you, wee one,
drinking my nectar,
my temptor’s brew so I can see you.

Lone trees, lone fence . . .

Two lone trees,
straggly sentinels
to guard a whole ocean, a world of wet life and dreams.
One lone fence,
one scrappy wave of a fence,
slats barely standing in shifting sand, weathered by salt, gale, and sifting breezes–
your purpose seems a bit spurious,
so perhaps you stand just for me.

Though blackness comes . . .

Though blackness comes,
and it will;
though vision is seared with haze,
and it is–
the stock in trade of soul-stealers;
there is light beyond the layers of doubt,
hope above the clouds.
In You , oh, Lord, do I put my trust . . .

A Dove Song

Your prayers are like my prayers,
earnest and weeping, more like a cry than a song.
Morning’s mourning and evening’s coo,
threads the raw pieces of my day into the whole fabric of my life.

Fastfood on the Fly

I was photographing birds from my window with my new telephoto lens. The neighbor’s rose and sparrows perched on the fence makes for an enjoyable frame; however, all of a sudden I realized I was capturing something very special.
These are youngsters, newly flown from the nest, but still hanging around for provision. They are very contemporay children. That happens a lot! :-)

Snap, snap, snap! I took a bout 350 pictures! A bit of complaining going on here. “Wait … are we expecting company?”

“Yo, Mama!” And here she comes with the food set out by that weird lady in the window with the black circle always in her face.

One is starving; the other nonchalant.
“Is it organic, Mom. I only do organic!”

“Yum! This is much better than the grub and worm stuff. That was probably from those other fastfood joints. What no seconds! I’m not heavy–only fluffy!”

“That’s more like it!” (Brother may seem nonchalant, but after all this special attention for the sibling, he is getting mildly irritated.)

“Okay, are you leaving any for me, or what!”

“Fine, you eat all the hard seeds. But I found some really spiffy low cal string here. If you chew long and hard you barely even notice your stomach growling. Or is that gizzard?”

“Mom, thanks for all you do.”
“No problem, son. I get incredible fulfillment from birthing you, providing for you, and protecting you from predators. But that said . . . it’s about time you packed your bags, Love you.” :-)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Moonscape Xeriscape

It has been an ordeal trying to grow anything green in our backyard. With a combination of desert blistering heat and the workmen’s leftover whatevers that make the soil like concrete, it has been a struggle for years. We have gardened, we have treed, we have sodded, we have tennis elbowed all over the place, making valiant attempts at greening our space. But we end up only offering life-support to forever dying flora. And since mowing is increasingly a tough chore for hubby (especially when half is thatch and dirt), and it is not on my bucket list, we have opted to save money and effort and go xeriscape. To make us sound even greener than we are, you can say it is totally an effort to be eco-friendly–smaller footprint and all that jazz.

I must admit, though, my vision does not appear to be quite the same as hubby’s. When the mountain of pea gravel was dumped and carted to the backyard, I was having a lot of misgivings and started dreaming of English gardens instead. Who cares about the CA water shortage! Our dog adapted fairly quickly and was seen hopping over these little mounds. Traitor!
I told him to wear sunscreen!
Since this was to be a long process, budgeted carefully, I was feeling a little blue–or maybe grey. But when it was leveled out, it seemed a bit better. And now that we have a lot of the paving stones in place and ready to be sunk in, I feel somewhat better.

Plants were a ways off in our budget, but my sis-in-law bequeathed to us some succulents from her yard. So now I can look out the window by my computer and see red steps to succulent land, and it gives me hope that an English–okay maybe Russian (like Siberian) garden is not far off. :-)

Roses on drip will come in groups, and colorful desert grasses will eventaully dot this desert wonderfland. So stay tuned. This will be a process. I am sure you all are just holding your breath in expectation. I know I am! . . . Oh, and did I mention it is May, and yesterday it was 102 degrees!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hot Chili—Cool!

We have been using the same canned chili for over 38 years! Amazing!
When Kel and I first met, we lived in a ministry commune (Think: Jesus freaks, no Kool-Aid involved.). Someone in the house bought this chili and used it to make chili omelets, and so a habit was born that lasted, well . . . almost forever! In addition to omelets, we have eaten it with quesadillas, burritos, nachos, and of course alone. We bought it by the Costco mega-pack, raising four boys on it.
As a developing health food nut over the years, it just never crossed my mind to read the label. This chili (to remained unnamed for threat of suit) was just part of our domestic landscape, right up there with dust clods under the fridge—a fixture.
My youngest son has become more health conscious of late, as well. He works out a lot and has been concerned over that miniscule, tiny, almost imperceptible, wee roll on his 6-pack and has been trying to figure out a way to trim it down. I offered to take it since another millimeter would be lost in my 6++++ granny-pack!
To be honest, I have been trying to dump this and other canned goods in order to avoid the BPA chemicals present that will kill us all, right after the GMOs, the DDTs, and the FDAs. I have tried health food chilis, but he complained they tasted like the Home Depot (Or was that the aloe vera juice?). So back to Den—I mean the anonymous chili—I returned.
When Dan-man read the list of ingredients, though, I was shocked, chagrined, and shamed. Well, almost. There is 2060 mg. of salt in one chemically loaded can. That was enough. I was done.
Now I make quite a mean chili myself. It’s fairly gringo and would never take first place in a Texas chili cook-off, but it’s not bad. And it’s organic. So I decided I would just cook my chili, keep some ready in the fridge, and freeze the leftover portions. Well, the men are won over, and the hubby took back 2 unopened cases of the old brand to Costco. After 38 years, we have begun a new family tradition, and I’m having a hard time keeping up with the demand. So I thought I’d share my recipe.

1 lb. organic ground beef (The cow doesn’t feel better, but I do.)
If you want to use beef-looking soy granules, that’s cool. Just be sure they are organic since most soy in this country is GMO, and you don’t want to look like a Cyborg in 15 years.)
1 diced org. onion
Org. garlic (You can use non-organic, but all this organic stuff makes me feel really superior to you pesticide lovers. I’ll work on that.)
1 can org. tomato soup–If you use the concentrated stuff, you will need to add a can of org. water (Good luck with that one!). I am currently using Trader Joe’s Organic Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup out of the aseptic pack. It is ready to eat, so no extra water is needed and no can to get squirrely over. For those who don’t have Trader Joe’s? I am soooo sorry!)
2 T. vinegar
2 T. chili powder
Salt to taste (or org. no-salt mixtures)
Your favorite hot sauce—enough to fire it up as you like. Add fire extinguisher, if needed.
1 small can of rinsed org. kidney beans
Brown beef, then drain the fat off. While the fat is draining, in the pan cook the onion and garlic till soft. Add meat back into the pot, as well as all the other ingredients, and simmer till it cooks down to the consistency you like.
For a bowl of chili, you may want it a little more liquid, served with a big hunk of cornbread or whole grain bread. But for other uses, it is best to have it fairly thick. Divide into 3 glass (not demon plastic) containers, cool, then cover. Store one in the fridge ready to go; freeze the other two to have on hand for the hoards that will descend when they find out it doesn’t have chemicals and salt enough to kill a . . . well, you get the idea.
Let me know if you like it! If you don’t like it, don’t tell me. I have a very fragile ego.

Sorry for the funny formatting sometimes. With Chrome, it copies and pastes from my other blog in odd ways.

Blackbird Singin’ in the Dead of . . . Afternoon?


I had a nice feathered visitor, who put on a little show for me, happily right next to the neighbor’s lovely pink rose.

I looked in my Audubon bird guide, and he looked to me like a Brewer’s Blackbird, him with his fine beak and white eye. Since I am not very bird savvy, given the various kinds within a group, I asked my blog friend The Birding Bunch to confirm my ID. Yay, I got one!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I Took My Camera for a Walk in Long Beach

While visiting relatives, I took my camera for a walk to see what I could see.

Behind the Headlines


“Three fast-food workers were found shot to death Wednesday . . .”
“An explosion caused by a leaking propane tank leveled a house, killing a woman . . .”
“A young actor was found dead in a hotel . . .”
“A former long-haul trucker was executed by injection Wednesday for raping and stabbing three women . . .”
“One body was discovered Wednesday in the wreckage of a pair of collapsed buildings . . .”
How many deaths was that—four, five, no seven?  I scanned the news in the local paper as I sipped my hot coffee and nibbled the remaining crust of my whole grain toast.  How could I just sit there eating—so uninvolved, so unaffected by the suffering of so many?  Did the weight of all that pain only justify a few lines of ink and newsprint, read today, tossed tomorrow?  I had become callused, hardened, I suppose, by the constant barrage of reported crime, death, accident, and war.  I’d become somewhat immune to the suffering of sons and daughters, fathers and mothers.  People just like me.
I wondered if someone had picked up the Atlanta paper in May of 1979, and over coffee, skimmed the tiny headline about a young man in a motorcycle accident who spilled half his bright red blood on Bankhead Highway.
My eighteen-month-old son was in his highchair, screaming and pasting spaghetti to his hair.  The phone rang.  A woman identified herself as a nurse from Cobb County General Hospital:  “Your husband has been involved in a motorcycle accident.  He may have a broken leg.”  I proceeded to ask perfunctory questions, and she proceeded to give directions and very little specifics.
I knew in my heart it was bad.  My mind flashed an image of Kelly flying through the air.  My son still screamed.  I felt numb.  Immediately, I arranged for a baby sitter and a ride to the hospital.  I didn’t dare drive.  I moved in and out of a haze of tears and desperate “please Gods.”
Word spread, and friends gathered, keeping the long vigil with me on hard plastic waiting room chairs.  Tears, phone calls, prayers, blurred conversations, heaviness on my chest.  We waited and waited and waited.
I saw him for a brief moment as they wheeled him down the hall to recovery in ICU.  He was barely lucid, sunken, gray, and vacant, but he was alive.  And he still had his leg—what was left of it.
This was the beginning, the beginning of numerous reconstructive surgeries, infection, physical and spiritual pain, depression, physical and spiritual therapy.  For others, the crisis was over.  They moved on to the next headline.  But for us, the crisis ebbed and flowed for months and years and still affects our lives today.  The newspaper headline became an archive while the pain wore on.
Are we like the ancient Romans and their gladiators; do we get some kind of vicarious pleasure out of the suffering of others?  Or is it just that we hold headlines at an emotional distance, cluck our tongues, and inwardly thank God that this tragedy didn’t touch our home?
“Five perish on deadly day in Valley.”
“Twelve special-needs adults suffered minor injuries when the bus they were riding in collided with a vehicle . . .”
“A man was killed Thursday morning when he allegedly ran a red light . . .”
I can’t help in every situation.  I may not be in a position to touch directly the lives I read about, but I need to care.  I need to deeply care that someone in my community this night comes home to an empty house—comes home to a future alone after great loss.  Someone faces months of protracted pain and recovery and so many “whys.”  There is someone weighted with guilt over choices made and consequences earned, someone who wishes they could relive the moments.
I need to care.   I need to pray for the peace of God to intervene and invade these broken lives, these broken hearts.  I can pray in a knowing way, as I remember what it feels like to live behind the headlines.

The Small Pleasures of Surprise

Smaller and smaller,
tighter and tighter,
see what cannot be seen,
the breathless wonder of design.
Slower and slower,
lighter and lighter,
give up the big burdens
to the small pleasures of surprise.