Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hideaway at a Hidden Lake

I had planned to spend the day playing "Domestic Goddess", getting all the laundry done and doing some serious cleaning from top to bottom here at home. With fall classes starting up, a trip to Arizona fast approaching and a few other irons in the fire I'm not going to be home much for the next month or so. This seemed to be my one opportunity to get things done.

However....I'm so glad I didn't. Life is too short to let it be ruled by laundry.

My beloved had plans to go out this afternoon to the gun club shooting range over by LaGrande to site in his new scope for his rifle in preparation for the upcoming deer hunt. Initially I had no interest in tagging along. I'm really not into guns or hunting or any of that... but after he pulled away I felt so lonesome for my man I called him up on his cell and said "I changed my mind - the laundry can wait! Come back and get me!" Fortunately for me, I have a very patient man who is much accustomed to my fickle ways.

So I real quick downloaded some coordinates for a couple geocache over that way and off we went. We had a blast.

The shooting range is in a lovely spot surrounded by tall pine trees and amazing sky. I had fun running back and forth from the 100 and 200 foot target markers to see how close he got to the bullseye each time. (Fortunately I had good ear protection - that rifle is LOUD!)

Once he got that all done we took off to find the geocache. The first one was pretty simple - took us to a lovely overlook with an old pioneer cabin. The second one, however, was a real gem. Named Hideaway at a Hidden Lake, it took us to a place neither one of us had ever been or even knew was there. Morgan Lake is a beautiful little spot that I DEFINITELY want to return to. Not only did we have a great time finding the cache Larry caught five trout in in about an hour. He kept three for dinner and threw the others back.

Pat B., if you are reading this, I vote next time you and Chuck are up for an adventure the four of us go camping here. Let's plan it, ok?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Sky is Falling!

Well it looks like Chicken Little is not the only one who thinks the sky is falling.

I just read the report of the meteor that fell on Peru, causing more than 600 people to become ill. Strange that this should occur just as I was finishing up the book "Hammer of God" by Arthur C Clarke about the possibility of an asteroid falling to earth.

There is a pretty amazing (although not very scientific) YouTube video of a meteor fall HERE

Movies like Night of the Comet (1984) and Deep Impact ( 1998) have sensationalized what might happen to the earth if some big hunk of rock from the sky came calling. The special effects guys were more interested in movie ratings than scientific accuracy, but it's not beyond the reach of imagination to think of some celestial body crashing through our atmosphere and wreaking havoc. Having grown up in Arizona, one of my most memorable school field trips was to visit Meteor Crater near Flagstaff when I was in the 8th grade. Of course, that one came down before people had populated nearly every region of the planet.

A few weeks ago my beloved and I layed out on the lawn late one night curled up in blankets into the wee hours of the morning watching an amazing meteor shower. They are pretty when up in the sky and something romantics hang a wish on.

But it would be a whole different matter if they came down here.

The science of "Hammer of God" was interesting enough, but I was more intrigued by the sociology that Clarke proposed. How would people on earth react if they knew scientists had discovered a huge object on a collision course with our planet that was due to hit us in 1 year or 10 years or 100 years?

Clarke wrote of mass panics and suicides. He wrote of governments having to implement marshall law. He wrote of the scientists scrambling to avert the catastrophe. At one point in the novel, it becomes apparent that there is no way that the scientific teams aboard the vessel that are setting out to change the meteor's course will be able to escape. It's interesting to watch how the various characters respond to that news.

I compare that to what we know of the actions of the folks aboard the Titanic.

I can't help but wonder how I would react if I had word of my eminent doom. None of us are getting out of this world alive, we all know that. But there is something about the great uncertainty of our length of days that keeps us scrambling forward.

What would I do if I KNEW my life, or the whole world was about to end? What if I had a date that was a week away or a year away? How would I spend that time?

Perhaps more importantly, what AM I doing NOW so that I'll be ready to meet my maker whenever it does come?

I can only imagine what those Peruvian people must have thought when they saw a ball of fire approaching out of the sky. It would be interesting to carry on a long range cultural study to see what sorts of legends, folklore and other cultural responses there may be over the next 50 years in response to this.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Hot Button Words

You Are 85% Feminist

You are a total feminist. This doesn't mean you're a man hater (in fact, you may be a man).
You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It's a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action.

Well, there were no surprises to the outcome of this survey for me. I have long been a supporter of rights for all men and women to pursue their potential irrespective of gender.

It is interesting to me the type of mental images people conjure up when they hear the word "feminist" as compared to when they hear the word "feminine." I have always believed it was quite possible, and appropriate, to be both simultaneously.

I do not think that being abrasive or confrontational serves any cause. Gentle, reasoned debate can carry an idea far further than bashing others views. Yet I am so grateful for all the strong women and men who paved the way before me to set the stage of social change that made it possible for so many options to open up for all of us. Being feminist is not about wanting to cripple the men in power. It's about being willing to accept the responsibility inherent in sharing that power.

I am mindful of the fact that there remain many areas of the world where women are viewed as little more than chattel. I am so appreciative that I live in a time and place where I am allowed a voice and am treated with respect. I have choices available to me. I have opportunities that were unheard of to earlier generations of females.

One of my favorite short stories is the tale "Options" in the collection "Blue Champagne" by John Varley. In that sci fi story people of the future can choose whichever gender they want to experience by having their own body cloned with the hormones of the opposite gender implanted into the clone. Brain transplants have been perfected to the point that it is a simple matter to have your brain taken out of your current body and put into the cross gender created body of who YOU would be if you had been born the other sex. Whichever body a person is not wearing at the moment is put into a stasis chamber for safe storage until they want to switch back. That way they can experience MALE or FEMALE alternately as much as they like, fully exploring all the rich dimensions of their humanity.

The conflict of the story comes from the rift between a man and wife when a woman wants to consider trying some time as a guy and her husband is adamantly opposed to it. The way things play out has some interesting nuances.

What would the world be like if we didn't line up as "us" and "them" along gender lines, but instead recognized that all human spirits have elements of both? How would we view issues of money, power, intimacy in a world where gender could shift at the drop of a hat? How would we view parenting if mom/dad was interchangeable? How would we view what it means to get close to someone else?

Gender is such an intrinsic part of who we are. I can't even begin to fathom a world where the arrangements were that radically different. But just in my own lifetime I've seen some pretty sweeping shifts of how people experience and express what it means to be MALE and what it means to be FEMALE in American culture.

I can't help but wonder what new changes my children's children's world will bring.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Glass Alphabet Soup

It's intriguing the way different aspects of our lives can come togther in a confluence of a new idea. I was cruising some blogs yesterday after having spent time in the glass studio. One of the ones I read was "Seeds from my Garden" by Morning Glory... she is the one who does the Alphabet Soup, challenging her readers to make a different list of things they are grateful for each week based on a letter of the alphabet. (I've done this a few times but not consistently... I may choose to play catch up later with the letters I missed.)

Anyway, I had been thinking about glasswork all morning. Then in the evening I was thinking about alphabet soup. Those two things tumbled together in my mind to come up with this: I want to make decorative stained glass boxes that will hold 26 3 x 5 index cards that will each have a letter written on them. I will give these little boxes as gifts with the instructions that the receiver write blessings they are grateful for on each index card based on that letter. Then they will have their very own personalized box of blessings to set somewhere. Any time they have a sucky day they can pull out the pretty box and remind themselves of how much good they truly do have in their lives.

What I like about this is that by basing the choice of blessings to identify on letters of the alphabet it forces me to look beyond the normal list I can rattle off of things I KNOW I am grateful for. While it is all well and good to appreciate my family and my home, my freedom and my faith it is only through doing alphabet soup that I give much thought to being grateful for appropriate medical care (X-rays) or the beauty of the universe (Zenith) or the stillness of a new morning (quiet) or a glass of cold lemonade on a hot summer day (quench).

I'm definitely going to have my own specially made box just for this purpose. I'll start working on it right away. I have some awesome opaque blue glass and bits of mirror that I will weave together with some rose and some lavender and some green. I will make one of the sides in a pattern like a patchwork quilt. I like the idea of having a tangible place to count my blessings as a reminder of all the positives. "When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed..."

I've decided I will move my alphabet soup posts over to my other blog - Life by Design. They feel more appropriate for that venue. So for this final posting on the topic here I will just make a list of all the letters of the alphabet, and then as each posting is created over there I will come back and make a hot link to the appropriate letter. That way I can get to them easily from THIS spot, but I'll have them all gathered where I think they belong.

Aa Bb Cc Dd Ee Ff Gg Hh Ii Jj Kk Ll Mn Nn Oo Pp Qq Rr Ss Tt Uu Vv W w Xx Yy Zz

Friday, September 14, 2007

Raising a Bead

I spent some time in the glass studio this afternoon learning how to do the final solder work that decorates the piece I've made. Once again I was reminded that I am NOT just making a pretty wall hanging. I am teaching my perfectionist soul to get over those false expectations of results without errors and learning to ENJOY THE PROCESS as much as the outcome in the things that I do.

The teacher I usually work with was not available since he got called in to substitute teach at one of the nearby school districts. However, fortunately for me, the trip out there was not wasted since his wife was willing to show me what I needed to do. (Thanks Nancy!) Then, while I was working one of their friends came by who is a far more advanced student than I. She gave me some tips as well.

It has been interesting to learn these skills from so many different people (Floyd, Ron and Nancy at Gilded Glass have all had input) plus things I've heard from others or read in books and online. Each has had a slightly different approach, sometimes in direct contradiction with what I've been told by someone else. How do I sort it all out? Over and over today I would stop and ask if I was doing it "RIGHT". Repeatedly Nancy would tell me that it was not a matter of right or wrong, but whether or not I was achieving the look I wanted. It was a matter of personal preference how much of a bead to lay.

Allowing my heart to be content with ambiguity does not come all that easy for me. But I can see that this will be an essential element as I continue working to develop some level of expertise with each successive project.

This week I purchased my own grinder and a couple other tools so I will be fully set up to do more work on my own at home. I DO still want input from others, but the reality of conflicting schedules and distance from where I live make it so I can't get to the studio all that often.

So my next item of business is PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE until I feel more confident in each step of the process. Even so, there will still be times when the glass breaks wrong or when I mis-measure or when things just don't fit the way I wanted them to do. Learning to work in this medium has many lessons for me.

So many little time

HMMM, it has been a whole week gone by now with me neglecting this little blog. High time I got back to it, eh? I have several other blogs that lately I've focused a bit more attention on, but this one is close to my heart, so I can't give up on it entirely.

Most of my energy lately has gone to my newest blog, "Adjunct Lounge" for the community college where I work. That one's private, open only to invited readers so that instructors can freely discuss issues about classroom managment with no fear their student will stumble upon it. We don't use names (FERPA rules), but we can use examples that are pretty it's important it stays out of the public arena. I've rather enjoyed designing it and exploring link land to discover all sorts of cool resources to include.

Then of course there is the Waters of Mormon blog that I contribute to. We've had a few interesting topics going on over there.

Occassionally I still find something I want to post over at Life by Design.

And there's another one that I've been experimenting with for a totally different kind of writing that what I do's still a work in progress which may or may not link back to this at some time.

Someone asked me recently how I manage to keep up with all these blogs (plus the ones I read regularly) AND hold three jobs (my primary full time job for Oregon community college, teaching two online classes for Washington community college and now also teaching face-to-face adjunct classes in Oregon on evenings/weekends). The answer is simple. I simply don't sleep. If I ever get my insomina thing figured out I may be doomed.

Friday, September 07, 2007


A while back my blogger pal Jaquandor posted this list of "technologies that USA Today touted as the most important to come along since 1982" along with comments of his opinions... I started to do a response at that time but never got it finished. It has been sitting in my "draft" box along with a couple other half finished things for some time. It's a slow blog day here, so I'll just dust this one off and kick it out the door.

1. Cellphones

YES, I have a cell and I use it A LOT. But I almost never go over my minutes because I mainly use it for family who are all SPRINT users. Since my sons live in Michigan and I live in Oregon the free sprint-to-sprint comes in very handy. I do still have a regular land line phone as well, although every month when I pay double phone bills I wonder why.

When I was in Santa Fe recently I was impressed by the fact they have a city ordinance banning use of hand held cell phones while driving. I admit I do talk on the phone while driving. Not terribly responsible of me, now is it?

At least I don't put on mascara while driving, which I witnessed someone doing recently. But then, I don't put on mascara ever except for hot dates and job interviews....but I digress.

2. Laptops

I LOVE the freedom my wireless laptop gives me. I take it with me all over the place. Gives me access to geocache coordinates, blogdom, and my online classes. Also when beloved and I are traveling together it gives me a quiet way to amuse myself in the middle of the night when he's sleeping and I'm up with insomnia.

3. Blackberrys

Don't have one. Don't particularly want one.

4. Debit cards

ABSOLUTELY! I almost never go to banks anymore. My husband and I both have direct deposit of our pay checks. I pay most my bills online. Then when I need cash I just get extra back at the grocery store. I seldom ever carry more than $20 with me, if that--don't need to. My trusty debit card gives me freedom to do most transactions quick and easy AND keeps a record of it.

5. Caller ID

Don't have it, don't want it. Unlike Kelly, I DO answer my phone. If it is someone I don't want to talk to I say so and hang up. Otherwise it is a nice surprise.

Actually we do get LOTS of hang ups on our answering machine that I have NO IDEA who is generating. But I can live with the mystery.

6. DVDs

Nifty little storage units for media. However, they are just one more in a long list...I'm sure these too will go the way of the 8 track before we know it.

7. Lithium rechargeable batteries

I like rechargeable batteries. They're neat. What else to say?

8. IPods

I don't own one yet but this is on my current wish list. Having music at my fingertips would be way cool, but even more than that is my desire to have access to the many educational podcasts or others, such as the ones my pal Papa Herman just let me know about, a three part series regarding Fr. Seraphim Rose featuring interviews with Abbot Gerasim and Fr.
Damascene. Granted, I can listen to these from my computer. But I like the notion of having it mobile.

9. Pay at the pump

This is certainly useful for some folks, but since there is a STATE LAW in Oregon that we cannot pump our own gas it really doesn't enter my radar. I will be doing business with a human being regardless of what sort of technology they have on the pump.

10. Lettuce in a bag

While I have eaten bag-o-salad on occasion I'm MUCH rather make my own, and generally do.

11. Digital cameras

Love 'em. Just wish I could find the lost power charging cord to mine!

12. Doppler radar

Never gave this one much thought. Of course, back when I lived in the Tornado zone of the Midwest it was a different story!

13. Flat-panel TVs

Would be wasted on me. I watch very little TV. I do love my flat panel computer screen.

14. Electronic tolls

I was flabbergasted by tolls when I first moved to Ohio. What do you mean I have to pay money to drive on this road?? But I must say the tollways were the BEST equipped for dealing with snow removal and almost never had pot holes, which is a lot more than I can say for the general freeway system back there. Sure it stinks to have to fork over the cash, but like a lot of other things, we get what we pay for. Seems to me having some sort of electronic debit system would be a lot more convenient that scrounging for quarters.

15. PowerPoint

Really? I'm not so sure how that one made the list. I'm currently involved in a project that has me creating presentations in PowerPoint and then converting them to Flash files. So I think of PowerPoint the same way I do flour and yeast when I'm baking bread - it's an essential ingredient, but not the end product. No matter what Al Goremay think, there are slicker ways to do things

16. Microwave popcorn

I'm not a big popcorn fan, but my beloved treasures his stash of this.

17. High tech footwear

I'm just darn grateful my jock son with the size 15 feet is grown up and emancipated so I will never have to pay for these again.

18. Online stock trading

Never have, don't expect to.

19. Big Bertha golf clubs

See answer above in #18

20. Disposable contact lenses

I am the poster child for Lasik. One of the best investments I ever made.

21. StairMaster

Exercise equipment is one of the most frequently discarded/resold purchases there are. Most of these end up gathering dust.

22. Tivo

Although I don't have it and don't want it and would never pay for it, I CAN see the merit of being able to have what few TV programs I DO like available to watch whenever I care to see them and being able to fast forward through the commercials.

23. Purell

In one of my anthropology classes many moons ago we talked about a study involving two remote villages in Africa that had similar resources, similar customs, yet RADICALLY different mortality rates. What the anthropologists finally figured out was the key difference was that the village with the LOW mortality rate had a case of soap that had been left behind by some missionaries who taught them all to wash their hands. The other group had no soap, nor any training in hygiene practice. It make the difference of who lived and who died. (Particularly since the same people who prepared bodies for burial were preparing food.) Yea, I guess this is important.

24. Home satellite TV
We have dish network so my husband can watch all those hunting /fishing shows he likes so much and I can get BYU TV for conferences, education week and the like. So it has its merits. For the most part however, scrolling through the 100+ channels just means it takes twice as long to find out there is mostly crap on.

25. Karaoke

I know there is a whole social phenomena wrapped up in this, but I am a humanitarian so I don't sing in public.

I also appreciate Kelly's other remarks:

"What about widespread GPS technology? Or the friggin' World Wide Web? Yeah, the bones of the Internet existed before 1982, but not the Web. And I'd cite digital visual effects in movies. Lots of people complain about rampant CGI in movies, but frankly, the crap-to-goodness ratio back in the days when effects were models and matte paintings probably wasn't any less than it is now."


As for things that have DIRECTLY impacted MY life?

(CAUTION! All male readers may want to stop right here....)

I'm grateful for tampons, control top panty hose, good moisturizer, and my home foot spa!)

Creative Uses for Floppy Discs

My co-worker Gwen was being all industrious today, cleaning/organizing the office supplies. Among a lot of other odd things in the drawer, she found a brand new box of 3x5 floppy discs. Her computer does not even have a floppy disc drive. MOST of the machines around here do not. More and more people are going to flash drives for saving files. So we puzzled over what they might be good for.

Here are a couple ideas we found: You could make the STARSHIP ENTERPRISE or an INDESCTRUCTABLE SHOULDER BAG.

But since we have too much work to do to get that crafty, we just took a 5 minute break and had a floppy disk frisbee contest seeing who could fly them the furthest down the college corridors. It was great fun.

We've also thought of using them as coasters.

Anybody else have any ideas?


I'm sure the family of Doris Anderson is feeling blessed today. After the 76 year old woman had been lost for two weeks in the rugged Wallowa mountains she was found alive, conscious and alert.

I have spent some time in that country. I can only imagine what those days were like for her. My prayers are with her for a full recovery.


Up to my usual insomnia tricks, tonight I stayed up to watch the movie "Beyond Borders" with Angelina Jolie and and Clive Owen. I'm familiar with the reviews that call this flick a dog. Still, for me, it was very powerful on so many levels. If you are not familiar with the movie - the basic premise is summed up HERE.

As I watched the movie I thought about a lot of different things. But what got to me the most was not the scenes of famine and war in Ethiopia. It was not the horror of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. It was not the brutality of Chechnya.

It was the landmines.

I first became aware of the seriousness of the problem of landmines back in the early 90's when I participated in a Michigan International Development Outreach Network (MIDEON) conference at Michigan State University.

MIDEON was formed by faculty members from Michigan universities and community colleges who were concerned with teaching international development issues. Rather than present information to the regular student population, they focused on teaching other teachers. They provided a forum to exchange ideas and experiences, sponsor workshops, and promote the idea of development education. The idea was that by planting seeds of awareness into the minds and hearts of educators the impact would be far reaching as those teachers would go on to teach differently from there on.

It worked. The summer institute that I attended had a very powerful affect on how I think and how I teach.

One of the issues we talked about A LOT at that conference was the problem of landmines.

The average American does not usually think a whole lot about landmines. I do. But what have I actually DONE between that long ago training and now? Not nearly enough.

There are so many issues in the world today clamouring for our time, our attention, our money. Save the whales, recycle, stop global warming, plant a tree, the list goes on and on. From the old posters of Smokey the Bear saying "Only YOU can Prevent Forest Fires" to the fight against AIDS to the war on drugs...there are so many social problems it can make a person's head spin.

It's easy to see why some people get to overwhelmed by it all they numb out, become immobilized.

I am reminded of the time my father took all us kids to see Ringling Brother's and Barnum & Baily Three Ring Circus when I was a child. Most of my siblings had a fabulous time. Not me. I was so terribly frustrated. To me, it was awful. If I watched the clowns I missed the bears. If I watched the bears I missed the trapeze lady. If I watched the trapeze lady I missed the dancing horses. If I watched the ...oh, you get the idea. No matter what I focused on, the sense that I was missing out on something truly spectacular just ate away at me. I finally just cried and went to sleep to avoid the total sense of overwhelm and anxiety.

Sometimes, when I try to support worthy causes, I feel much the same way. I believe in microfincance, so I share dollars with Kiva. Every month I also donate dollars to Humanitarian Aid and the Perpetual Education Fund. I give blood to the Red Cross. I help pick up litter along our local highway. I also volunteer my time to help specific individuals in need.

But no matter how much I do, there is so much more that goes undone. Sometimes that truly haunts me.

The idealist in me wants to make a difference, remembering the words of Margaret Mead who said: "Never doubt that a few committed individuals can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has."

The more pragmatic side of me says to remember the Starfish story, and to take solace in the fact that I DO make a difference to those particular people whose lives I touch.

But sometimes when I remember the burning desire I once had to get involved in the issue of Landmines (or other social causes that caught my passion in my youth) and then face up to how little I've really done I can't help but hang my head in chagrin.

We grow older. Our priorities shift. That's natural, I suppose. Or maybe it's just a cop out.

I guess for me, the challenge is to stay AWAKE and present to the problems around me and continue to reach out and take action in whatever ways I can, instead of going numb with frustration or overwhelm and turning my back on it all as I did at the circus as a child. It's so much more pleasant to focus on pretty things. There is a time and place for that. But it's all a question of balance. And if I'm not willing to give some of my focus, my time, my resources, to the ugly things of this world, then I become part of the problem. How much is enough? That's something each person answers for them self, I suppose. For me...I need to do more.

I just need to remember the words I have posted on my Kiva Lender page - a quote from Edward Everett Hale who said: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Identity Crisis in the Zucchini Patch

We had an interesting evening in the garden tonight.

My up-side-down tomatoes are struggling, due to neglect on my part. I didn’t put enough soil in the buckets and I haven’t fertilized them since July. So the vines are rather spindly and sad looking. Nevertheless, they are putting on strong fruit and have provided some yummy salads.

My husband’s competing right-side-up tomatoes have vines that are much sturdier and more prolific, but are producing less fruit. He planted too many plants too close together, so that whole section of the garden is a wild, crazy jungle that we can barely walk through.

Then, behind all that are the squash plants. Or so we thought. Because we got a late start with our garden this year, instead of planting from seeds we bought our squash plants in peat-pots. We put in two yellow crook neck and two zucchini. One of the zucchinis did give us some (although admittedly most of them grew too big and tough before we found them and got them picked...see earlier reference to impassible jungle.) The OTHER zucchini has been weird right from the start. All the squash kept growing ROUND rather than long. They just didn’t look right. We laughingly called them our "mutant zucchini". We tried picking them when they were little but they didn’t taste right and the texture was all wrong.

Finally it dawned on us what was wrong. Now that the plant is more mature we finally figured it out. This is NOT a zucchini plant at all. The darned thing is a pumpkin. Apparently it got mislabeled at the nursery.

So we have these ugly duckling pumpkins that are quite lovely when we look at them as PUMPKINS and allow them to mature all the way. But when we pick them too early and try to fry with the other squash they make terrible zucchini.

This served as a good reminder to me that when I feel inadequate or out of place the problem may not be with me or my efforts, but rather with the frame of reference I’m trying to measure up to.

In many ways my life, my values, my history, my goals and desires do not fit conventional expectations. If I look to the world to tell me what makes a “good” mother or wife or Christian or neighbor or friend, in many respects I will fall short. But that may be because I’m a pumpkin in a zucchini patch. I may be trying (at times) to live up to the wrong expectations.

While I like to keep things tidy I am far from a perfect housekeeper. (My grandmother who ironed everything including pajamas and sheets would be horrified to know I don't iron anything at all except for clothing worn for special occasions like hot dates and job interviews.) I'm perfectly comfortable hanging out in places and with people that are absolutely contradictory to some of my core beliefs. How much of myself I am willing to share and how much privacy I expect may not match what others consider appropriate. (I'm WAY private in some settings which makes some people think of me as aloof and then I give too much information or ask too probing of questions in other settings which tends to make me seem intrusive or strange.)

I'm too "straight" for the party crowd, too liberal for many Christians I know, too God-based for the hedonists, too intellectual for some, to metaphysical for others. Because I had children very young, I was changing diapers while my pals went to proms and I became a grandmother at a time in my life when many of my peers still had young kids or teen agers at home. Throughout my life it has seemed that no matter what group I was interacting with, there was some aspect of me that I had to keep under wraps in order to fit in.

Somewhere around my mid-forties I just quit caring whether I fit or not and started expressing myself more authentically - albeit with tact - but still more genuinely from the heart rather than designed to conform to surrounding expectations. Some people appreciate that candor. Some do not.

Working in the garden tonight reminded me that perhaps I may be a great pumpkin, even though I’m a lousy zucchini. By considering my own unique nature and developing THAT to the best that I can, rather than trying to fit into some cookie-cutter mold of what someone else thinks I should be, then perhaps I can celebrate what I have to offer instead of bemoaning my shortcomings.

I don't think I'm all that unique in this.

I read in a magazine article recently that on average children laugh 400 times a day while adults laugh only 15 times a day.

For many grown-ups I know, the laugh quotient is much lower.

I think shutting off parts of ourselves that society finds unacceptable, learning to be "mature" or "responsible" or "appropriate" is far too often a death sentence to spontaneous laughter.

I want to laugh. I want to live passionately. I want to ponder and dance and create.
So if I don't match up to somebody else's expectations, so be it. "Fitting in" is highly over-rated in my book.

It's only natural to crave some sort of social affirmation. But I can't do that at the expense of being authentic to my own soul.

It would be foolhardy to say "society be damned" and go about doing what I want, when I want with no thought whatsoever to how my behavior impacts those around me. I need to use judgment and sensitivity. There are times and places where following certain codes of propriety just plain makes sense. But I will not allow myself to become so corseted by social codes that I lose myself.

The trick is discovering the balance - knowing when to follow rules, to be polite, to accept a prescribed role and when to allow my genuine free spirit full freedom.

I will try to remember that every time I eat a zucchini - or see a pumpkin.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Arizona Bound

Looks like our Italy trip is on hold for now.
Due to a variety of circumstances, we've decided to put off any international trips this year. Instead, my beloved and I will be heading to Arizona in October. I've booked reservations for us to take a hot air balloon ride over the majestic red cliffs of Sedona with Red Rock Balloon Adventures. That seems like an appropriate way to celebrate my 50th birthday. We'll also do some exploring / fishing / hiking / geocaching in Oak Creek Canyon. We will be going to the Apple Fest at Slide Rock State Park, which just happens to be located on my grandfather's homestead.

Frank L. Pendley came to Arizona from his native Texas in the early 1800's. He arrived in Oak Creek Canyon 100 years ago this year. Through hard work and amazing ingenuity he mastered the challenge of getting water to his property - something that had stumped all those who tried to settle the place before. He planted an apple orchard and built a house, developing the property a little more each year. This is the place where my father was born and where we scattered his ashes when he died. It's where I wandered around the hills as a kid and the spirit of the place has shaped me in more ways than I can name.
Although my grandfather died before I was born, I've heard so many stories of his life that I feel as if I had known him. So I'll gather at the ranch with a bunch of my cousins to honor this amazing pioneer and walk again in those red cliffs of my youth. Should be a good trip.
................................Frank L. Pendley

There's a nice photo of the packing shed HERE over on Flikr.
About the park: Slide Rock State Park, originally the Pendley Homestead, is a 43-acre historical apple farm located in Oak Creek Canyon. Frank L. Pendley, having arrived in the canyon in 1907, formally acquired the land under the Homestead Act in 1910. Due to his pioneering innovation, he succeeded where others failed by establishing a unique irrigation system still in use by the park today. This allowed Pendley to plant his first apple orchard in 1912, beginning the pattern of agricultural development that has dominated the site since that time. Pendley also grew garden produce and kept some livestock. As one of the few homesteads left intact in the canyon today, Slide Rock State Park is a fine example of early agricultural development in Central Arizona. The site was also instrumental to the development of the tourism industry in Oak Creek Canyon. The park is named after the famous Slide Rock, a stretch of slippery creek bottom adjacent to the homestead. Visitors may slide down a slick natural water chute or wade and sun along the creek. The swim area is located on National Forest land which is jointly managed by Arizona State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service.
Together these areas have seen the making of many Hollywood movies such as "Broken Arrow" (1950) with James Stewart, "Drum Beat" (1954) with Alan Ladd and Charles Bronson, "Gun Fury" (1953) with Rock Hudson and Donna Reed, and a scene from "Angel and the Badman" (1946) with John Wayne.

Enrich Your Word Power!

Word of the Day
Quote of the Day

This Day in History