4.29.2008

Signposts


On Sunday after church I was clearing out some of the D.O.T.A. (Detritus Of The Ages) in the library & I came across the guest registry book from 1976.....
Me
My parents got divorced when I was one & a half. We were in Tahoe, my dad was a music teacher. It was the 70's. After it happened, my mom, my older brother & I moved back to Santa Cruz, where my mom grew up. We lived with my grandparents at first, for about 6 months.

In the spring of '76 we were about to move across town; right off West Cliff Dr. (only blocks away from what I came to know as the scariest preschool in town...but that's another post.) In all this upheaval, my mom decided we were becoming distinctly unchurched- maybe she thought we needed the stability. So, in the spring of 1976, a week before my 2nd birthday, she signed in.........



And there I was, 32 years later, holding this ratty old book that smelled like my childhood, (mildewed vinyl must have figured in heavily,) with a lump in my throat.

So this is a signpost. I've had them here and there. The wisteria was one, and the post office box. Little signs along the road that Someone is in all this, that I am in the right place at the right time, that my back is covered, and I am not alone.


4.28.2008

This American Life, LIVE!


Is anyone else excited about seeing this? I don't think I've ever heard of something like this before....a radio show-cum-TV show doing a live show in NYC and then broadcasting that live into movie theatres all over the U.S.....
and plenty of Ira Glass. Yes, please!
Thanks for jumping in, Eleven!

4.26.2008



There's something so splendid about a quiet house behind me & oak moth larvae swinging through the breeze, their silken threads shimmering in the sunlight. They are interesting additions to the neighborhood, part paratrooper, part acrobat. I like to think of them out there, living streamers, festooning the air like God's throwing a birthday party or is advertising a used car sale in my driveway. Their threads cover everything-I open the front door and suddenly it's Miss Havesham's garden-roses, clematis, watering cans, G's sand buckets & compost bins are all covered with a network of glistening strands. Not unwelcome, exactly. I always assume them to be gathering in the oak limbs above, rapacious, eyeing the new growth below; ready to fling themselves towards earth's green & succulent feast. But each year, the damage is minimal, and I lose more plant material to slugs coming from the ground, than pests from the sky. From our vantage on the porch the sunlight through the oak's branches coupled with the green waterfall of redwood branch & trunk provide many backdrops of tea and talk in our green-painted, helplessly battered & scavenged wood chairs. Each year there is a natural progression outside, and the garden becomes an extra room in which to live: on one's back in the grass, spreading fingers through soil, reading lazily & squinting upwards.


Tonight's Soundtrack: 'Meditation on Commemorative Transfiguration and Communion at Magruder Park' by Sufjan Stevens.


Tonight's reading: picked up last night at Logos ($3.50, not bad):'The Path Through the Trees' by Christopher Milne. (That's right-Christopher Robin Milne.)

It's interesting so far, he's talking about when he was 19, going off to fight in the second world war. Both his father and himself were passionate pacifists, until WW2....I was very interested to hear that A.A. Milne's reasons for renouncing pacifism were "that Hitler was different; different than anything he had ever imagined possible; that, terrible though war was, peace under Hitler would have been even more terrible."
I've been reading about the Christian opposition to the Nazis from within Germany. Pretty much the only organized resistance from within Germany came from Christians, the Confessing Church. I don't know yet what to do with this, I am definitely still ruminating (chew chew). I end with another quote from Milne:

"Indeed I am doubtful if pacifism vs. militarism, either in general or in any particular instance, is a proper subject for argument-anymore than one can argue about love. War and love: they have much in common. You can theorize about them, but until you have experienced them you cannot know them, for the emotions they engender are as complicated and as conflicting, as noble and as ignoble, as any that life has to offer."

Worms, War & Winnie the Pooh. You never know what a new post will bring.

4.21.2008

Confessed Vice No. 467: Why I stay away from plant nurseries when I am poor.



I went into the nursery for a few herbs and came out, struggling, with arms full and a guy named 'Sluggo' hauling a hand truck to my car.

I couldn't resist. Cerinthe major, two perennial poppies (purple breadseed & p. rhoeas 'Falling in Love'), and a 4" pot of valeriana officinalis, presumably because I love the smell of mushy peas mixed with old socks. The roots, when grubbed up, send cats into ecstasy and me into dry heaves. Yuck! But it has a lovely architectural form, it attracts beneficial insects, (so vital in an organic garden); and besides-medicinally, nothing beats it for sleeping draughts. Not that I would ever consider lacing any 3 year old's night-time milk with it anytime soon. That would be bad. And someone would have to call a hotline on me. No, definitely a bad idea. I would never do that. (Do I sound like I'm trying to convince myself?)



Cerinthe Major
Cerinthe major is an unusual and under-appreciated perennial. It's glaucus leaves play beautifully off the richly purple bell-shaped flowers; but what I really love about this plant is it's uncommon flower form. It's a scorpioid cyme, so named for the scorpion-like way the flowers curve as they grow.
Literally: scorpi from scorpion, and oid (Greek) 'resembling'; whenever you see this in a plant name it is a reference to how it resembles something else. As in Negundo aceroides, the box elder, whose leaves resemble that of the acer (maple).
The other name for cerinthe is shrimp plant, but I ignore this, because I do not allow squishy pink oceanic bottom feeders into my garden. Besides, it already has a sweetly colloquial common name: 'honeywort'. Forget-me-nots also have a scorpioid cyme.....


I think I love plant ID and botany because it's like finding friends everywhere I go. "Oh! It's you! Good ole Taraxacum officinale!" And then I try to remember everything I can about the plant. "You're in the asteraceae family! Your common name comes from your jagged tooth-like leaf edges! Dent-de-leon! One of your cultivated varieties is edible, but just barely-you're very bitter! G loves to blow your seeds hither and yon!" etc. It's like having little books to read that God stashes everywhere.
It's all very engaging and companionable, although that doesn't quite describe it. More like the world feels interesting and small, and close.



(Thanks to the following photographers: Ard photos for the dandelion, scottdmontreal for the valerian, and xerantheum for the cerinthe. A fine job, all around.)

4.14.2008

The Incongruities of Stella Artois and The Church Library, Or Why I Go To An Emergent Church


So the church library is rising from the ashes, finally. It's been held, embryonic, for months now, dissected and preserved in dozens of lumpy cardboard boxes. Pulling them open has revealed, variously, junk and jewels, trash and treasures, from the sublime to the ridiculous. On Saturday night we invited some friends down to the church to open up boxes and decide what to save and what to remove. Which was tricky. But much laud and honor to Raquel and Mark (or The Marv The Marvelous, as he is known in certain circles), for their unerring discernment and unflagging good will.

Stella & Strong's Exhaustive

So there we were, drinking the Stella Artois they brought and going through all these mainly stodgy and respectable books on things like the Vatican II's proclamations, New Testament Greek, and Birds of the Bible.
I found myself thinking, foolishly,"Don't let the anti-Emergent Church people catch us like this!'-With the demon 'likker' in one hand and books on Christian Symbolism in the other.

A Little Church History

Our church is in an interesting situation. Our church was started a few years ago as a sort of sister church-type thing from a large non-denominational box church on the east side of town. The church met in the evenings in the larger church's sanctuary-cum-basketball court (don't even ask) and started looking for it's own building: hopefully closer to downtown, and to the resident university with it's 4,000 students. The church ended up collaborating, for lack of a better word, with an old Presbyterian church that was centered exactly where they wanted to be, with a leadership that had been praying for a way to reach out to the local students, and to use their resources for the mission of Jesus. So, they came together. I should say, we came together, sharing resources, combining services, getting into each other's lives in such a beautifully messy way that we decided to merge. This occurred early in the year. The church took on the name of the younger church from the non-denom. (Vintage Faith Church) and Vintage became Presbyterians. I've never been in this situation before, and I find that I like it. So far. We give to each other different things, things lacking on our own. The Presbyterians give us history, grounding, and organization (apparently they go wild over something called Session, as well as a good long meeting with pie charts). Not forgetting, of course, their wisdom, based on much life experience. I really appreciate that one. We bring a fresh expression of faith, lots of art, music and poetry (yay!) as well as ideas, energy & the post-modern perspective. And, naturally, the largest sampling of pompadours and tattoo sleeves found in any church west of the San Andreas fault line.

I Am A Closet Church Lady

So I'm now the church librarian, which is partly laughable, because for all the reading I do, I'm awfully picky about which books I read; so many of the authors/subjects are unfamiliar to me. And the shelves are virtually swollen with books that have not been checked out since I was first listening to the Thompson Twins and Duran Duran, and pegging my pants. Those are easy to toss. I am a professed fan of fiction, so most of the fiction will stay. There's also some poetry, and a lot of great devotionals. As well as bible commentaries, theology, history and counseling. It's all a little daunting. I got some pastoral people who had some book learnin' to help me go through stuff and decide, so hopefully that will help....

The Hope

The hope is that the library will be used. When it was still functioning in it's old room down the hall, no one knew it was there, and that killed me. The people who spoke up front in the church would never mention it, and the closest I heard of it's existence from the church staff was in regard to "the old library", or "the room that used to be the library", or "that room down the hall, next to the prayer room." It was strange.

I am not alone in this, there's also Audrey the Indomitable (she asked me to call her that). So that makes 2 librarians, a spiffy new paint job, tons of books and about a million groovy bookends. And who knew that an owl could be so well portrayed by a handful of sunflower seeds, corn and mung beans?

Solicitation

I want names of authors/book titles that you think we should include in our newly updated library. I've already asked the Monday Poets to give me poets-any recommendations?Fiction and non. And don't even mention the Left Behind series to me, or Precious Moments, or Chuck Swindoll. Enough!

4.09.2008

Non-Sequitors:A Scene From The Life

I think this is in Japan (some 'Ice Fest', says B. No kidding!)
Apparently it's sculpted to represent scenes from The Chronicles of Narnia's 'Prince Caspian'. Random!
Can anyone name Caspian's horse featured above?...... Just how many Narnia geeks are out there? And no looking it up!
Tonight
A good night tonight, dinner with Joann, the Molly and one of our many Daves. Take Two and Dr. Seuss's 'Too Many Daves. ("Mrs. McCave had 23 sons and she named them all Dave.....") Although all of our Daves are unique and much loved. We ended up praying together for a friend's brother, who is seriously suffering with mental illness. It sounds so hard. After they left, I was listening to 'This American Life" (how I dearly love podcasts!) about a man who suffered a stroke. They talked about how his mind was affected, turning him into this entirely other, completely annoying, person. The show was about how families don't change, and his segment highlighted the situation where he wanted to change, and everyone else in his family wanted him to change, but it was impossible. It was sad, and yet hopeful too, for it showed how his wife stuck with him, and even had more kids with him after the injury. I don't know what I'd do if this happened to B, or to myself. I hope I'd have grace for him, (and he for me), but I don't know. I don't really think I have any amount of 'staying power' in me-my reserves of patience and endurance are miserably shallow. This is probably what "abiding in the vine" produces; one of the most visceral images Jesus used to explain our relationship with him. Like vines and branches and fruit. So organic and knit together. I'm beginning to sound like the Molly. And that's not a bad thing!
To Sleep, Perchance.....
It really is time for a lot of sleeping to happen now. I think now, like I did when G was a baby, "Quick! Go to sleep! She's beating me!" Whenever she was asleep and I wasn't, I'd think this, and immediately want to lay down and nap-it was dreadful thinking of her sleeping, filling up her sleep reserves while mine dwindled away like so much bath water down the drain. Things are much better now, but she's still up like a little Pop-Tart in the AM, (like her dad); I need to be the awake, in-charge person between the two of us, not just wimpering and clutching my coffee cup, gibbering to myself like Milton from Office Space- "I was told that I could sleep until a reasonable hour......"

4.08.2008

Have You Seen This Man?


An addendum:
After reading my last post, Eleven told me the following story:
About a month ago she was downtown and noticed 6 or 7 girls walking together, all wearing bright pink and carrying umbrellas. She approached them and asked them what they were doing. They told her it was a performance piece entitled, "Searching for Robert". Apparently, he hadn't been seen downtown for few weeks, and wasn't responding to his Facebook page. (Eleven chuckled to herself at this, everyone's got a Facebook page.) As they were talking, a homeless man sitting near them, listening to their conversation suddenly piped up, "Now that's strange! He's usually very prompt about responding to email!" (Which was even funnier.)
So has anyone seen Robert around in the last few weeks? I'm a little worried about him.
(Thanks to franny for the pic.)

4.03.2008

They Are Pink: Jesus & the Umbrella Man

So G chalked this today, right by the front door. It's Jesus. (See? Can't you tell?) Didn't you know he had googly eyes and wore scribble shirts? And He's pink because "it's His only favorite color." I asked her why she decided to draw a picture of Jesus and she said, "Because I love Him."
This Little Light of Mine
These days it's like a foot-stompin' Sunday-Go-To-Meetin' tent revival around our house. She's been bellowing away about Peter, James & John in a sailboat, and how He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, Ha-Ha-Hallelujah, and our recent favorite, the story of "Ikea-us" who climbed up the sycamore tree. It goes like this:

"Ikea-us was a great little man,
And a great little man was he!
He climbed up in the sycamore tree
For the Lord he wanted to see.
And as the pastor passed his way,
He looked up in the tree,
And he said to him,
"Ikea-us, you come down from there!
For I'm coming to your tea party!"

Downtown
I love the hodge podge of her world. Zacchaeus has become Ikeaus, and Jesus is coming to his tea party. She got an umbrella for her birthday, and pretty soon started walking veeery slowly underneath it. "I'm just like Robert downtown!" Which is something that probably only Santa Cruzans will understand-we have our own slow-walking, dressed all in pink, umbrella-toting guy. People call him Pink Umbrella Man. His name is Robert. G is fascinated/creeped out by him. So am I. It's not the pink clothes (I know preschoolers who could out-pink him anyday.) It's not the umbrella. It's not even the tattered pom pom scarf and poodle purse. It's the probing smile he gives, imploring, inviting scrutiny. "Look at me!" He seems to say, "Notice how weird I am acting!" With eyes too wide, holding my gaze until I break away. Last year we saw a group of guys run from behind him, grab his arms and rush him down the street swinging him and yelling. They ran right by us, we were sitting in front of Lulu's, drinking coffee. All the people around us started yelling at the guys,"Leave him alone!" and booing and hissing. I was so proud of all of us neurological typicals (as B calls them at his work). I mean Robert may be crazy, but he's our crazy. Hands off! I'm so glad G has the chance to be around people like Robert, who are different than her (except for the high pink factor in their wardrobes.) I want her to learn that God loves all of us here, umbrella or no. And that we must love each other like He loves us.
Non-Sequitor
A few congratulations:
to Gavin & Julie, getting married on Friday.
to Will & Mariana, who gave birth to Liam last week.
to Camille & Dutch, engaged!
Yeah!

Read Your Way Through the Garden: Choice Tomes From Garden Literature

  • A Book of Salvias by Betsy Clebsch
  • Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon
  • Making Bentwood Trellises by Jim Long
  • RHS Encyclopedia of Plants & Flowers
  • Rose Primer: An Organic Approach to Rose Selection & Care by Orin Martin
  • Start With the Soil by Grace Gershuny
  • Sunset Western Garden Book
  • Sunset Western Landscaping Book
  • The Book of Garden Secrets by Patent & Bilderback
  • The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany
  • the Gardener's Table: A Guide to Natural Vegetable Growing and Cooking by Richard Merrill & Joe Ortiz
  • The Gardener's Year by Karel Capek
  • The Hutchinson Dictionary of Plant Names: Common & Botanical
  • We Made A Garden by Margaret Fish

lotsa latin: rosa's botanical & etymological ruminations

  • vespertinus: flowers in the evening
  • vernalis:spring
  • veni vidi nates calcalvi: we came, we saw, we kicked butt. This was printed on a T shirt I bought at Abbot's Thrift many years ago. It encircled the NEA symbol. I wish I knew why.
  • superciliaris: shaped like an eyebrow ex: sturnella superciliaris, the White-browed Blackbird
  • rosa-sinensis: species of Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. Lit. Rosa of China, so named by British plant hunters.
  • placentiformis: shaped like a cake ex: discocactus placentiformis
  • nudiflorus: flowers before leaves show ex: flowering quince, magnolia
  • nivalis: growing in or near snow ex: galanthus nivalis (common snowdrop)
  • muralis: growing on walls
  • mirabilis: marvellous, wonderful
  • formosa: beautiful ex: dicentra formosa, a.k.a.western bleeding heart/dutchman's breeches/lady in a bath
  • carpe vitam: get a life
  • Carolus Linnaeus: Latinized name of Carl von Linne (1707-1778), Swedish naturalist considered the father of plant taxonomy. Whatta guy.