Quiet for the Weekend – November 17-18, 2012

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, 
for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another
to acts of love and good works.
And let us not neglect our meeting together,
as some people do, but encourage one another,
especially now that the day of his return is 
drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:23-25, The Message

Oh, kind friends, may you enjoy the privilege of meeting together for mutual encouragement and for holding onto hope, tomorrow 
and through the week ahead.
Please know that the ‘meeting together’ we discover
out here is a gift to me, from you and from the God 
in whom our hope is found.

Joining with Sandy King and Deidra Riggs and their invitation to quiet and rest.

31 Days in which I am Saved by Beauty – Day 9

This circle walking.
And circle praying.
Tonight I was a little distracted.
This is the season for the acorn drop,
and there are hundreds of them,
all over the paving stones of our driveway.
Can you see them in this picture?
The one below these words?

Earlier this fall, my grandgirl Gracie and I picked up a few,
and put them in a bowl on my china cabinet.
We don’t usually see their small caps,
just the cylindrical bodies.
But this year, early in the dropping season,
we found a hundred or so that had their hats.

My husband believes that 
the number of acorns on the driveway
is a good predictor of how rainy it will be during 
the winter months here on the coast of California.
So far, he’s been right. 

I think maybe we’re in for it this year.

They’re in every crevice, 
cracking underfoot as I turn circles,
round and round.
And when our cars drive over them,
they break open,
revealing the nutmeat inside.
a small brown bird hopped out
from his hiding place under the
jumping into the space I had just left.
He began busily picking at the broken pieces.
When I’d get within about 15 feet of him,
he’d hop away into the bushes again.
He did this on almost all of my 36 circles this night. 

I like the crackling sound these acorns make as I walk.
That noise, these small objects – they remind me
that it is now fall,
even as the changing angle of the light
helps me remember that the seasons
are shifting.
We don’t have a lot of other clues in 
central California, 
just these subtleties, these small things.
To me, they are beautiful
and evocative,
reminding me of how things
stay the same,
even as they are changing.

If I have planned well,
and begun my walking early enough,
I can finish my time outdoors
by sitting in this swing,
which hangs across the yard.
It’s a beautiful spot,
sheltered under the oaks,
and the swing is strung up by sturdy chains,
wrapped around a large, twisting branch. 

If I have planned well,
I try to spend between ten and twenty minutes
in this swing,
focusing quietly on one or two words
from scripture.
I breathe carefully,
with awareness, trying to stay
in rhythm with both the words
and with the swing.
It always feels to me like I am
Secure, cradled.

Even when the words are these:
“Mercy, Lord.”
Which is what came to me tonight,
for a long list of reasons. 

I choose to believe that God hears and answers.
And even when I don’t particularly like
the answers,
there is still mercy to be found. 

A Photo Essay: Quiet for the Weekend – August 31-September 2, 2012

It’s been a strange sort of week.
‘Found time,’ here at home,
time we thought we’d be traveling –
but we’re not.
So we got to extend our days with our
youngest granddaughter by a couple of weeks,
and that was sweet.
Next Wednesday, she begins pre-school.

We took time to plan vacations for next year,
always a fun thing to do.
But communication with the agent got a little dicey 
and we weren’t sure why.
Everything worked out in the end;
it generally does. 

Yesterday, we went to see “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,”
and found it quirky and sweet.
And then the projector blew up about 2/3 of the way through.
Say what?
We got a couple of free theater tickets out of it,
but still . . .
So we had an early dinner at a nearby
cheap-o place that turned out to be pretty good,
and we shopped at Costco, to prepare
for the thundering herd (in the nicest possible way!)
that will descend on us for the holiday weekend. 

It was 7:00 p.m. and the sky was unusually pretty,
so I turned the car right instead of left as we drove out of the parking lot, and headed to Isla Vista – the crazy college community that isn’t quite crazy yet,
 as UCSB hasn’t begun their fall semester. 

There was a good place to park, so I grabbed it,
reached in the back seat for my camera bag,
and headed out onto the bluffs,
just as the sun was beginning its last 
sinking, saturating radiance,
and the blue moon was starting its ascendency.
And I walked.
And I looked.
And I breathed.
Every once in a while,
I stopped to take a picture
to exclaim over the beauty all around,
and to say, ‘Thank you’ to the One who made it all. 

Come along with me, won’t you?

(By the way, I have no idea what all those multi-colored small flags mean,
but they were pretty and whimsical in their own right, so I took their picture.
And I have to say that just scrolling through these pictures makes me say ‘Thank You’ over and over again. I cannot begin to put into words how grateful I am to live where I do.) 

And these words from scripture jumped out at
me as I reflected on this experience today, 
the day after all that confusion – and all that beauty.
Because someday, all that we see now as 
and life-giving
will pale in comparison to the LIGHT
that will overwhelm and bedazzle us on the Day of the LORD.

“No longer will violence be heard in your land,
nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
but you will call your walls Salvation
and your gates Praise.
The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end.”
Isaiah 60:18-20

Joining Michelle DeRusha’s invitation to Summer, for the last time this year,
and with Sandy and Deidra for their ongoing weekend invitation to quietness and reflection.

At the Marina: a Photo Essay

It was a beautiful morning – 
clear skies right from the get-go,
warm sunshine,
gentle breeze. 
A perfect day to treat ourselves to lunch out 
at the local marina.
Although boat culture is not our thing,
we love to look at them.
So we took ourselves to a ringside seat,
with a close-up view of hungry starlings 
and brightly blooming hibiscus, 
 and a more distant view of masts and docks.
Dick had his favorite seafood Louis salad,
I had a chicken quesadilla,
and we just sat and breathed for a while,
taking in the spectacular view 
and wondering aloud every so often 
if very many of these boats
before us actually make it out to the open sea.
After lunch, we took a slow amble down the waterfront,
noting how much clearer the water is now,
after a major harbor clean-up a few months back. 


We spied one turquoise-bottomed fishing boat 
as it slowly wound its way into the dock.
We stood and watched a bit, as it idled
in the unloading area while we walked 
south along the wooden decking.
There were others out and about, too, 
enjoying the warmth of the sun,
the sound and smell of the water. 
 One of the things I love about our town 
is the juxtaposition of ocean and mountains.
There is always something beautiful and inspirational 
to look at, no matter which direction you face.
 At least two fisherfolk were still out at sea 
(see their empty slips in the picture below?);
we hoped we might be lucky enough to see
at least one of them come in and unload their cargo.
 Sure enough,
a small, 2-person ship –
complete with crow’s nest –
came chugging into view as we walked along the pier.
 These boats are far more interesting to us than the 
luxury cabin cruisers and humongous catamarans  
that dot our marina.
(See that big one in the right-center-rear 
of the picture above?)
Maybe that’s because these small, well-worn boats 
represent the life and livelihood of a dying breed
in these parts – the journeyman fisherman.
Their territory has been impinged upon by 
multiple facts-of-life –
government regulation, most of it necessary;
predatory otters – all of them adorable, but destructive;
over-fishing and diminishing quantities of some of the
Santa Barbara channel stock-in-trade –
abalone and lobsters in particular.
 The white-haired gentleman atop the boat is the captain;
his long-suffering wife is waiting on the dock,
barely visible through the rigging.
There was one other crewman,
middle-aged and about as worn looking as this boat.
 We’d seen scarecrow-owls atop buildings before,
but this was the first time we’d seen one 
on a sea-faring vessel.
 We waited patiently, walking from one of the
weigh-in piers to the other,
noting two grey, covered trashcans on the deck.
What could be inside this time?
 Slowly, the winch raised those grey cans off of the ship
and onto the dock where a scale waited.
These two gentlemen below,
with Chinese last names,
opened some grey trashcans of their own,
taken from the bed of their small pick-up truck.
And then they poured amazing quantities of…
octopi… into them.
 The longer-haired gentlemen switched position
at the exact same moment I clicked the slow-shutter on 
my point-and-shoot camera, so I did not get a
picture of those slimy critters as they swirled into the can.
The buyers snapped on the lids, to protect their precious 
purchase from the vagaries of freeway traffic,
then got into the cab of their truck,
and drove those things back to somebody’s
favorite Chinese restaurant somewhere. 

Just before we headed home,
 we snuck a peek into the local Fish Market
to remind us of what we usually see
when we come here!
 A beautiful selection of fish,
much of it very high-priced –
all of it delicious and fresh, fresh, FRESH.

We may not be part of the boat culture,
but we are most definitely part of the FISH culture.
And we are appreciative of the those who are dedicated and brave enough to gather the fish that we eat from the sea. 
All in all, a lovely summer afternoon.
Joining Michelle and her Graceful Summer invitation each Friday of these summer months: 

A Few More Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer, Please

 It seems I am a slow learner.
I need considerable amounts of downtime.
I need it so that I can find center,
so that I can breathe with my mind, as well as my lungs.
I need it so that I am an easier person to live with.
I need it to live, period.
 And one of the gifts of retirement has been
the increased accessibility of such time.
Without the schedule of a regular work week,
it is sometimes easier to sit in the backyard;
to take a field trip to a local nursery;
to sit in the car on the bluffs overlooking the ocean.
 But they say ‘pride goeth before a fall,’ right?
 Or maybe it’s ‘the truth will out…’
‘water finds its own level…’
or some other such hackneyed cliche.
Whichever, whatever –
the downtime has up and disappeared of late.
And I’m feelin’ it.
So… I am very grateful for Michelle’s invitation to 
stop and savor,
look and listen,
sit and set a spell.
And I’ll try to find my way here each Friday,
and to Sandy’s place on Saturday,
and over to Deidra’s on Sunday,
just to honor the gift of downtime,
of Sabbath rest,
of soaking in the beauty of this world.
I’ll keep it short, and hopefully sweet – 
with a picture or two,
a word or two,
a sigh or two.
Maybe you need a little more breathing room, too?
Come along and slow things down.
Joining with Michelle DeRusha’s invitation to celebrate the slower pace of summer living over at her blog, Graceful.