Thursday, February 24, 2011


3o,ooo + feet to be exact. No, I'm not there at the moment, but I was yesterday, winging it from the Mediterranean like climate of the NW corner, back to gray, cloudy, snow covered Ohio. What follows was written from altitude. In my journal. With a pen!

My life can be defined by landmarks. The Olympics, Long's Peak, Lake Erie. Just another day in the big blue yonder. Plane travel is truly a marvel. It is moving me from the hug of my Dad in drizzly Seattle to the hopefully semi cleared driveway and the possible hug of my tall man-boy son in Ohio. All in the course of 8 hours. A marvel.

The downside of air travel for me is the fact that my emotions can lag behind. My body ends up in a new location while my heart languishes in some NW garden plot overlooking Puget Sound. It will catch up with me as it always does. But it is not always easy.

I want to be able to articulate my own 'theology of travel' which is what I call it for now. I'm not quite sure what it will end up to be, but something along those lines. How is it that Jesus goes ahead of me and meets me at my destination while at the same time he settles right beside me in the airliner? Another marvel. Since Jesus is not bound by time or space or any earthly thing, all is possible. (I love that mystery!) He shows me how to look upon the landscape below and its inhabitants with his bird's eye view. Another post, another time.

I love that He is intimately acquainted with my traveling companions today, though they may or may not have any awareness of that reality.

.... the semi frazzled mom sitting in my row with her toddler on her lap and her five year old in between us. I was happy to help the chatty little girl with the pink pony ("Do you like my pony?") from spilling her drink and losing her hairbrush and forgetting to buckle her seat belt. Better to have a seasoned mom in the same row that the tattooed 20 something sleeping male who sat beside me on the next flight. I ended up being a little gift from God to that mom whether she would notice or not. I'm glad.

....the frail elderly couple I helped on the plane last week as they were en route to San Diego to see their son. They were back on my flight today! Go figure. I was relieved to see that they survived the whole trip.

....the other older couple, she traveling in a wheel chair and being well cared for by the airline employees. This will be me and Mom in three weeks, so I NOTICED where I might not have before. Nice to see some personal care from those who push wheel chairs day in and day out.

.... all the TALL GIRLS who were heading for the same gate. I figured it must be a college basketball team. I was right once I saw the matching backpacks with athletic shoes dangling from the bottom. Young and gorgeous, heading for New Orleans. I hope they won.

....and all the rest.

Seeing one's fellow travelers from the perspective of a God who knows them all and loves them just the same fuels compassion. It makes travels even more interesting than they already are. I guess that qualifies as a beginning on my theology of travel. More flights are already booked and more yet to come.

Tonight, however, I sleep in my own bed at the altitude of 1,200 ft. This too is good.

Monday, February 21, 2011


I have known about Regent College in Vancouver, BC for 30 years. I have had friends study there. It's kind of a secret place in some ways. Housed in one building adjacent to the University of British Columbia, the place is a magnet for Believers from all over the world. So, while it is a secret to most people, even in Vancouver, God is at work luring his people there to come study, grow, be a community and figure out their callings to further His Kingdom on earth.

Truth be told, I haven't looked into studying there and don't intend to, though others absolutely should! I have not read their admissions materials. What I just said comes from a 20 minute walk through the place on INTERNATIONAL FOOD NIGHT. Oh. My.

Regent was fragrant with the Kingdom in wonderful ways! Tables piled with foods from other continents; students in native attire; kids filling their plates with rices and dahls and fancy chocolates and stews; people in all shapes and colors; smiles on faces. The couches were populated with thoughtful adults having intense conversations to solve the problems of the world while eating the world's dinner. It was a glimpse of heaven. Flavors and fragrances of heaven.

Residing in the midwest as I do, we are more than a little provincial. Our mingling is among those of mostly the same skin color. For the most part, ethnic restaurants aren't filled with the stews and rices of the world. You can find them, but it's not easy. The church, likewise, looks rather similar and we forget how flavorful God's people are!

With the exception of our hostess, a Regent student also from Ohio, I knew no one on my walk through INTERNATIONAL FOOD NIGHT. Yet I was totally at home. These were my people because these were God's people. Kingdom builders and Kingdom residers. I'll look forward to eating their food one day and sharing intense conversations over a cup of chai. Meanwhile, if you are checking out Regent College for graduate work, the facilities are wonderful and artsy. They say it rains in Vancouver, though I have yet to see it. For those whom God lures there, a flavorful experience awaits.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

En Route

Tis like magic. I am on the train en route to Vancouver, BC and I'm writing a post. WiFI has its advantages, does it now?

It's a bright sunny day in Seattle and the Olympics were glowing in all their glory in the dawn light and full moon as we crossed Lake Washington for the Amtrak station. It is the little sights and moments that bring e great joy when I am traveling. Moon over the water; glimpses of winter mountains; shoes hanging off the electric wires (right above the tracks... go figure); and more. If you know me, you know I love Seattle and am always glad to arrive here. Family is here so I have good reason to come. I have a family who also appreciates moments and loves to explore. I consider this a great gift.

Train tracks over the locks near UW. The water is churning today in the sunshine. I am happier on a train than a boat! And OMG, the Olympics are crystal clear and snow covered! What am I doing typing.. I need to be watching.

So, later folks..


Friday, February 18, 2011


I had forgotten that green is one of the colors of the landscape! I have become so accustomed to gray, blue, white and brown for the past several months. Don't get me wrong, I love the Bleak Midwinter in many ways. BUT, upon arriving in the NW corner and looking out the window, all I could see was GREEN. And, I'll admit, it made my soul sing a bit.

Went walking on the island as we always do when I am here. The smells of the pines and the greens of the moss, the ferns, the rhodos and all the rest made it a wonderful walk, in spite if the winter chill. (What is all the talk about 'wet cold' being colder than 'dry cold'?!) The best part of the green was the red tuft of feathers on the pileated woodpecker's head as he worked hard to clear brush from his dinner spot. What a treat!

It happens to be migration time around here. Yesterday I saw about 6 new birds and today we're going hunting for snow geese. I happen to think birds are one of God's Top Ten and I love searching for them, though it is a rare moment when I can hear them any more. Greens and Birds. Made my day.

Oh, and out for dinner with my darling daughter and her college friends happened to be a big bonus as well!

Time to grab my binoculars, hat, camera and hiking boots. We're off!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


It's been a while since I signed up. I was a skeptic when my daughter's teen friend first showed me her home page. What? You are sharing your photos and life out in cyberspace where crazies lurk? Are you sure it is safe? (She had not used her first and last name...)

My concerns quickly gave way to curiosity. After curiosity came possibility. After possibility, the Plunge. I signed up. I have not looked back. I think Facebook is great!!

Why, you ask?

Now, I am a big fan of that ancient concept of Personal Communication. You know... when people sit face to face and share stories, life's hopes, philosophies and faith, dreams and recipes. I do not think gestures and the rolling of one's eyes and a touch on the arm are overrated. I believe this is the stuff of true relationships. But, hey, I don't get to see a lot of people every day. In fact, some people I have been quite fond of in the past I never get to see.

That is why I like Facebook.

For me and them, it is a quick way to touch base. To share humor and glimpses of life across the miles and truly, across the decades. I have connected with many of my college friends from, eh um, 30 years ago. It has been encouraging to see where they have ended up; to see photos of their families; and to even pray for them when challenges arise. Facebook allows this.

Better yet have been the FACE TO FACE interactions that have arisen specifically because of those cyber connections! Last summer I invited three friends who were all celebrating their 50th birthdays to come to my house for several days just to hang out and be 50 together. The ONLY way we had reconnected with via FB. Reading their status reports, I thought "this would be a really fun group to get together!" And, get together we DID! We never once talked, and yet they arrived at the appointed time at my home from Michigan, Connecticut and Japan!

We talked and played for four days and had a blast. I cannot wait to be with them again. The last time the four of us had been in the same place at the same time? 29 years ago.

That is why I like Facebook.

My mom, bless her socks (they are warm ones), has been willing to set up a page in order to keep tabs on her children and grandchildren. She's a user. But, I don't mind. As her abilities to write and communicate begin to diminish from the evil onslaught of ALS, Facebook enables her to stay connected. To participate in the mundane and distant... in the lives of our teens and young adults who live in cyberspace. (I agree, that is both good and bad.)

That is why I like Facebook.

Then there was our overnight in Newcastle Upon Tyne last summer. I found a good old friend with whom I shared summer adventures in the Rockies in the early 1980s on FB. He's a physician in England. When my husband and I decided to venture to England we set up a rendezvous (via FB) and ended up staying at their English home for a night. We met his wife, heard about his kids and enjoyed a fabulous meal together. (An English meal, no less!)

That is why I like Facebook.

Oh, the status reports are fun. Keeping tabs with my daughter at college is wonderful. Keeping my teenage son in line is necessary. But setting up lunch dates, weekend trips, overnights in other countries; connecting on blogs, enjoying photos and all the rest makes me smile.

That is why I like Facebook.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


I had not used a typewriter, for let's say, 28 years; until Tuesday. In fact, I didn't know they were still around, much less still used; until Tuesday.

Mom and I were directed to room 129 at the county courthouse -- the probate will office, or some such thing. Our mission, to get her husband's will put on record for posterity. "We have records from 1840," said the cheerful clerk.

To be honest, I was just Mom's ride and wheelchair pusher for this assignment. However, counters being created for the standing population, not the sitting population, I also had to be her means of communication.

If you've been around either of us, you know we are communication challenged, having one good ear between the two of us. (Love those genetics!) I cajoled the nice lady behind the counter into speaking very slowly.

I thought she was kidding. "You will need to TYPE the information in the blanks on this form." I laughed. "Can you say that again please." I had actually heard her correctly. Therefore, I chided, as I inquired where in the world was I going to find a typewriter in this day and age to fill in the blanks. And, besides that, who in the world requires ANYTHING to be completed by typewriter in this day and age? The government. Oh, the government. Of Indiana. I should have known.

"You can find a typewriter in the law library, room 207. Go up the elevator to the second floor, down the corridor, around the stairs... " I packed up Mom and the 'form' that had been photo copied a bazillion times so that is was barely legible and somewhat wavy at points which contained the blanks that NEEDED TO BE FILLED IN BY A TYPEWRITER.

We found the law library. Negotiated the wheel chair in and then Mom used her cane to get through stacks to the far corner where an ancient, lonely electric typewriter stood. THIS was my tool. Would I remember the college skills I had gained typing every last college paper (and there were MANY) on an electric typewriter? Do they still make ribbon for these things? The lady assured me that I could correct mistakes. I could not.

I began. The paper loaded onto the black roller, but it did not reach as far as the blanks, so in and out the paper came. Numerous times, since the blanks were all over the place. Then there was the matter of actually trying to type the letters ON the lines rather than just in the vicinity of them. I decided vicinity was good enough. Meanwhile, I could not contain the incredulous nature of this assignment. My frustration mounted and more that once I proclaimed under my breath "this is the most stupid thing I have been required to do in a long, long time. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid." I guess that helped. In the very least, it gives Mom a story to tell

We reversed our course with the now required typed form in hand. Back to room 129 and the cheerful lady at the high counter. "I know you are not the one to make decisions like this, but is anyone aware that it is 2011 and no one types anything anymore? In fact, faxes are considered legal signatures? Yet, we had to go over the river and through the woods to TYPE this form? This is the stupidist thing I have been asked to do in a long time." Sweet lady. Nice lady. She maintained her composure, mostly because I was not lashing out at her.

She explained that this was actually a 'service' to us, keeping us from having to see an attorney to have the will deposited for safe keeping. I'm sure she has a point, but I was, after all, only the driver and not sure why we were making this visit in the first place; nor why said form was required.

She said that she was going to retire soon. And, with a wink and a nod, once she retired, she knew it wouldn't be long until they actually put all this information on MICROFISCHE! Oh good.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


No problem with servers being busy this evening. The world is watching the Big Game. It is on in front of me as well, but my laptop is handily in between me and the screen.

As a rule, I don't give a flyin' rip about football. It is far too overrated in my less than humble opinion. If it were 'just a game,' it would be OK, but it has become an altar with many, many worshipers falling on their knees before the football gods. We are created to worship something. For far too many, teams and players and coaches and games have become a problematic focus of that worship.

I didn't really open up my computer to climb onto a soap box, but that IS my general attitude towards what should be 'just a game.'

What I thought about posting on my FB status report was about the half time show: "Spectacle. Another instance when I find myself embarrassed to be a citizen of a certain country."

I admit, I'm not a fan of the Black Eyed Peas. I'm not a fan of Usher. I am even less a fan of crotch grabbing. I am also not a fan of bad art which is what the show was in my less than humble opinion. As an American it's tough to be associated with spectacles and bad art which are so publicly put on display for the world to see.

That aside, in the mid winter, every year, an Occasion for Gathering Together is created with the SuperBOWL. For many, like me, the gathering together is more important than worshiping at the in-zone altar. Tonight I am not part of a gathering, which is right for this year too. Meanwhile, all over the country small and large gatherings are full of fun, food and football. For me, therein lies a slice of redemption in an otherwise overblown cultural event.

(I had better wrap it up so I can watch the game...)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

On the Road Again

Half a year. That's the last time I posted anything on my blog. It's time to START AGAIN. They say that you can't become a writer if you read about how to write. You can only become a writer if you write. At one level, I know this. At another level, I ignore it. Am I destined to be a writer? Unlikely, but possible (IF you can be destined to be anything in your early 50s!)… Would I LIKE to be a writer? I suppose so.

It was a great encouragement to hear from two friends after the writing of our 2010 Christmas letter: "When are you going to start writing on your blog again. I miss it." And, "You're a really good writer." (Never mind the fact that said reader has only read like, one thing I've ever written… but I was flattered and motivated, nonetheless.)

Which brings me to today—On the Road Again.

I won't recount the collective details of the radical travel calendar of our immediate family, but I will say that today I'm sitting in one of my childhood homes with my mom. I have been making more frequent trips here for all the right reasons. But "here" is still a rather obscure location when it comes to the Grand Travel Plan of America's airlines. It is simply hard to get here… from, well, most anyplace. Thus, I experienced a fleeting sense of discouragement when after boarding my first plane this morning, sipping from my water bottle and settling in to read the paper, the kind lady next to me informed me that we all needed to deplane. Unfixable mechanical problems. First time I have ever had to step off the plane immediately after boarding. But, better that option than sitting on the tarmac for four hours.

I was already in what I refer to as "Travel Zen," but this sent me in deeper. For me "Travel Zen" simply refers to the manner in which I move through time and space knowing I have either little or no control over the timing and circumstances and therefore it is useless and completely counterproductive to get stressed out over anything. I become a semi pleasant zombie-like adult who is going with the flow. I have traveled this way for many years. I nearly always arrive at my destination, though not always at the appointed time. Along the way, there are people to meet and discoveries to be made. Though, honestly, flying between a Midwestern hub and the Destination the Airlines Forgot, I didn't expect too many discoveries. I was right. The ones I did make were:

  • Wearing a turtleneck and 650 down filled vest was the wrong idea. Dead of winter or not. The change in gates and airline assignments after we had to deplane, meant I had to hoof it to the Very Last Gate in the entire airport. I arrived in time, but a sweaty mess. And I had to do this in not one, but two airports, resulting in two sweaty mess episodes.
  • Just because you get dropped off at the terminal where there is a covering doesn't mean you won't be subject to climbing up and down stairs and traipsing through slush, snow, ice and thick salt to board, unboard, reboard, unboard, etc…. I was a small, salt covered dripping mess three times. There were no covered walkways to be seen on these little commercial, go-out-onto-the-tarmac-to-find-the plane routes.
  • Propeller planes require that everyone sit in the back to provide ballast for the heavier front of the plane. All 10 of us. Back rows.
  • Propeller planes on commercial routes in the dead of winter are likely to result in crabby flight attendants.
  • Traveling with a 17" laptop is a royal pain. In order to justify that royal pain, it is necessary to update one's blog.
  • Arrival and Departure monitors must be really, really expensive since airports now seem to use them very judiciously. I used to be able to use these handy devices to maneuver my way around airports, but alas, there were none to be found today. Maybe this was a cruel joke because I was heading for the Destination the Airlines Forgot. Oh.
  • Travel Zen, a bag of Trader Joe's trail mix and a good book are all you really need when you're on the road again.