Monday, September 29, 2008

Dear Lord,

I sat and read parts of your Letter again today. I just wanted to thank you for always being there whenever I need you. I need you right now Lord as I struggle with a difficult task. My friend J Grockle recently encouraged me to write a “thank you” letter to someone who has come across my path and changed my life. Well, for the past couple of weeks I have been jogging my memory daily to find the very someone that deserves this honor. As I reminisce, I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, and I’ve breathed a contented sigh of relief that so many have crossed my path at just the exact moment I needed them and changed my life forever. But here’s the problem Lord . . . there are just so many that I need to thank!

Do I thank my precious and loving husband for taking a chance on me, even though a day or two before our wedding I panicked and confessed to having rotten DNA flowing through my veins and begged him to choose another? (Incidentally, he laughed out loud and married me without batting an eyelash – but then you knew that Lord, because you heard me cry out in fear over this whole situation.) Or maybe I should thank my wonderful children who have shown me that I have risen far above the bar that my heritage so painfully held down on me. Every day that I rise and greet the day as their mother I rejoice that I took the risk and had children despite my overwhelming fear of failure.

Maybe I should go back to my early years and thank the teachers who stepped in when my world fell apart (over and over again) – like the Spanish teacher in high school who caught me cutting class and refused to be brushed aside with a shrugged answer. Her piercing eyes and firm hand on my shoulder told me in no uncertain terms that I could trust her; so I did, breaking down and confessing the shame of having a mother who had suffered a nervous breakdown that very week. I’ll never forget the look in her eyes – not pity, not horror, but rather the look that I’d always sought in my mother’s eyes. “Why, Miss ---, that’s certainly not your fault nor is it an excuse for you to destroy your own life. Now get back to class and don’t let me catch you cutting again. You need this class for college.” With that she turned on her heel and marched off. I stood with mouth agape and heart pounding. “She still believes I can make it in college!” I cried out in my head. She was right. I did. And I finished well.

Oh, Lord, help me. I can’t forget those women through the years who taught me to cook, write poetry, change a diaper, and even drive a car. How thankful I remain to those long-suffering homemakers that allowed me to park on their barstool and “visit” rather than go home to loneliness and silence or worse . . . strife. How do I overlook all these regular ol’ mom-types that hired me to babysit or tutor or tidy up; who in the process of offering me a few precious dollars that I would turn into books, shaped my character for the better? Even more importantly, how can I decide which proved the most valuable?

Tears stream down my face as I recall the most precious woman I have ever met . . . my mentor. She loved me with a deep love that I longed for forever, but found less than 13 years ago. Lord, this woman taught me to go beyond “knowing You” and begin “abiding in You” every moment of my day and all through the night, as well. She changed my life by showing me how to take all those miscellaneous pieces of "me" and make them an offering to You, rather than suffer to hide them in shame. Oh Lord, you took my precious mentor home to be with you just a few short months ago, and yet the pain I feel makes it seem like yesterday. (*sob*sniffle*)

So, you see my dilemma, Lord? I can’t write just one “thank you.” In fact, I don’t think I can even print any of this for others to read. What would they think of me . . . a child scorned by her own parents -- left lonely and alone? How can I . . .

* * * * *

The wind picks up and rustles the pages of “The Letter” lying open-faced on my lap. I look down and read:
“When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.” (Psalm 27:10)

A stronger breeze turns over more pages and reveals:
“For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.” (Psalm 139:13)

The pages continue fluttering until they lay to rest at:
' “For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” ' (Jeremiah 29:11)

I bow my head, the tears fall freely, and I whisper, “Thank you, Lord . . . for everything.”

Friendship in the Gardens, Japanese Style

Well, it's been some time since I have taken this laptop and jumped on the web to visit my bogger dashboard. Forgive me, but I have been out in my gardens and dancing upon my new deck WITH railings. Hooray! The project is complete -- FINALLY -- but, I shall post about that another day. For today I want to share with you another beautiful installment from Lydia's birthday trip to San Diego.

* * * * *

After a good night's sleep we packed up and prepared to leave our darling inn. We walked out to see the ocean for a final farewell. We stocked our memory bank full of the sights and sounds and lovely fragrance of the Pacific ocean.

We took a final stroll though the lush gardens of our inn . . .

. . . And set out for a bit of breakfast and a brief drive through the Historical "Gaslight" District of Sand Diego before picking up Elizabeth and Whitney after morning classes.

We happened upon this jewel in the heart of San Diego.

The wedding-cake beauty of the architecture stood in sharp contrast to all surrounding buildings.

Lydia and I agreed that our next visit to San Diego must include a visit to the Grand Hotel for tea.

Time flew quickly and we found ourselves on the road back to Point Loma to retrieve the girls and then double back to the center of the city and Balboa Park. The lush acreage invited us to forget about downtown city streets and enter a magical place of art and music and gardens and beauty. Truly a wonderful place of respite and peaceful pondering.

We stopped for luncheon at the Japanese Tea House and enjoyed a variety of Asian delights. I bought a pair of bright red dragon-festooned chopsticks for Rachel in the tiny gift shop.

After chatting and eating we set out on a leisurely walk through the Japanese Friendship Gardens. The tranquil pathways invited us to explore the abundant foliage . . .

. . . and contemplative sculpture . . .

. . . along with the creative expression of bonsai . . .

. . . and inspiring stonescapes.

The peaceful flow of water engaged our ears around many corners enhancing the soothing nature of the experience.

This lantern symbolizes The Light of Friendship . . .

. . . an appropriate theme for our day.

As we approached the exit I just had to gaze back one more time, fixing the beauty and tranquility of our friendship garden walk into my memory bank under "enchanted moments."

Just beyond these peaceful walls lay many more treasures to invite the eye and intrigue the explorer. And so I must, once again, tease you with a tiny peek at the fabulous bounty just down the road a bit.

I shall leave off here, for now. I have more cropping and uploading to do before we can journey through the next phase of Balboa Park together. I better get busy! ; )

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday Wonder

Come unto me,
All ye that labour and are heavy laden,
And I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Final Dance of Summer . . .

. . . should take place on a sandy shore where balmy breezes blow. And so, upon the crest of Lydia's thirteenth birthday, she and I boarded an uneventful flight to San Diego CA, procured a convertible car without incident (push a button -- TOP GONE!), and set out for the Hotel Del on Coronado Island to bathe in the fading days of summer's glory and Lydia's waning childhood.

Our wind-blown hair and sun-kissed shoulders rendered us well-dressed for dining along the seaside, strolling the lavish gardens . . .

. . . overlooking the splendidly groomed beach . . .

. . . and finally traversing the paths to the sand. We drank in the sights, sounds, and delicious aromas of life in view of the Pacific.

All too soon we headed back across the bridge and over to the peninsula of Point Loma.
We checked into our delightful accommodations -- a typical 50s apartment complex lately converted to an inn with all the necessary accoutrements for our all-too-brief stay. The lovely garden setting . . .
. . . sparkling clear pool . . .
. . . and cliff-side setting brought breathtaking views right to our fingertips.
After a brief unpacking and freshening up for dinner, we drove UP the cliffs to meet with Elizabeth and her dorm-roomie Whitney. We walked the gorgeous grounds of campus and ended up at this vista point. Elizabeth says she comes here often to think and read and be alone. God has surely blessed her with a picture-perfect view of His handiwork -- He knew how much she missed the Pacific Ocean when we moved inland to the mountains. What a marvelous daily reminder that God can do GREAT things. We sat contemplatively and listened to the wind rustle the palms until the growling of our stomachs bid us move on.
Onward to O'Bistro for a delicious dinner and a long languid chat about art, history, literature, music, and all the other lovely things that spill out so effortlessly when we take the time to relax and enjoy the moment.
Early classes and weary eyelids drew us back to our respective rooms, but the goodbyes were well-laced with excitement regarding tomorrow's foray to Balboa Park and the splendors awaiting us there. Despite our earlier thoughts of sleep, the pool beckoned and begged to be joined for just a dip.
Likewise we headed out to the rocky cliffs for one final good-night to the Pacific before it rocked us gently to sleep with it's crashing lullaby amongst the bulwark of boulders at shore's end. (Sadly those pics failed to make the grade for this post -- just too dark.)

Eventually we settled into bed for some very light reading followed by heavy slumber . . .
. . . punctuated with sweet dreams of special wonders to be found tomorrow as we enter the Jewel Box of San Diego: Balboa Park.
*[I shall return with more pictures and prose soon . . . do join me as the adventure continues.]*

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Respite Wednesday

The Autumn Is Here
by Rachel

The autumn is here, the summer is gone.
Winter will be here in not too long.
The wind is blowing like a storm,
Though the weather is very warm.
The leaves are turning brown and yellow,
The leaves make a sound like a cello.
The bears are going to bed,
Soon the leaves will turn red.
Now the birds are going away,
They will return some other day.
The sky is now getting cloudy,
The birds are chirping away loudly.
The weeds are sleeping, the flowers are too.
I love the autumn, I hope you do too.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Fall Has Come . . .

Hello my dear friends,

I have returned from my San Diego adventure and found it spilling over with sun and fun and the "holiday delight" that Lydia and I so eagerly sought. I have oodles of pictures to upload, download, sort, crop, review, and choose. So, I daresay it will be a day or two before the travelogue arrives for you to enjoy.

In the meantime, I have found definite proof that Autumn plans to visit us here in Northern California. Despite the warm temps and floriferous riot of roses and such blanketing my gardens, the ripening of fruit and turning of leaves has begun. However, while so many of you have pulled out the woolies and placed a pot of soup on the stove, we have returned to the warm gardens for laughing and dancing and relishing the cooling trend that often feels like a second spring. The garden responds with blossoms and fragrance rivalling June days.

So I leave off with a pic of a pick from our wild pears . . .

. . . And the forethinking duties of a gardener that must have color and fragrance in the dull days of winter. (Though they be ever so short a spate by many a standard, the dark days of winter lighten up for me when suffused with the scent of a Delft Blue hyacinth blooming in my frosted windowsill.)

* * * * *

As for pics from the San Diego trip:

I shall supply just a nibble . . .

. . . And a peek.

Farewell for today, my sweet friends. I must run through the gardens, gather a big bouquet of roses for the table, accompany Rachel to piano lessons, and end with a jaunt through the market for some fresh vegetables and such as we prepare to feast en pleine air on this first day of Autumn.

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Wonder

Happy 13th Birthday Lydia!
I will praise You,
For I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
Psalm 139:14

*Tiny-as-a-fingertip fairy cake slice
courtesy of Rachel

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bon Voyage!

My Dear Friends,

By the time you open this missive Miss Lydia and I will have boarded the silver luck dragon and sped away on the wings of birthday celebrations to the land of San Diego. For you see, a girl only turns 13 once in a lifetime and we intend to celebrate in style as we join Elizabeth for a "Girl's Event" fit to be recorded in the memory bank of oh-so-special moments.

Once we land, gather our bags, and procure our magic carpet transportation (only a convertible will do, I mention politely to the reservationist), we will set out for Coronado Island and my favorite spot in all of San Diego: The Hotel Del Coronado, known affectionately as "The Del."

We will lunch at Sheerwater in the hotel and gaze out onto the pristine beach. Upon finishing the scrumptious meal we will meander slowly through the shops, including my favorite "emporium" of necessities for living the "good life," Babcock and Story Emporium -- named after The Del’s visionary founders, Elisha Babcock and H.L. Story, two mid-western businessmen who dreamed of building a resort hotel that would be the “talk of the Western world.” Need I mention . . . they succeeded?

Hopefully we will not exit the lovely shoppes too heavy laden to enjoy a walk along the surf. This beach ranks as the most pristine I have ever seen in my life. When Gary and I celebrated a "second honeymoon" here four years ago we had an ocean-facing suite that afforded us a full view of the beach. Each morning an employee "groomed" the beach, much as one would an ice rink. The results: Spectacular. So, Lydia and I will surely kick off our strappy little sandals, gather our sunny-day dresses in hand, and frolic in the gentle surf.

Once we satisfy our ocean quotient (remember, we used to live in Santa Cruz . . . Grass Valley is a loooong way from the seaside -- when we detect ocean air we tank up!), we will meander the streets of Coronado until it the clock strikes check-in time for us and school's-out time for Elizabeth.

After checking in to this delightful little inn by the sea, we will peer out the windows to this:

When we finally lay our head down for rest, we will drift off to the sounds of ocean waves meeting rocks and in turn rocking us gently toward slumberland. The tang of salty sea air will bathe our dreams and ensure that we awaken refreshed and ready to play. Ah, but before we even think about sleeping we have a full array of exciting activities to sample.

For starters we shall drive the short distance from our inn to Elizabeth's university for a joyful reunion and a tour of the gorgeous waterfront campus. Then we will cruise along the coast line until we come to Ocean Beach, a delightfully "Santa Cruzian" town with an atmosphere of "casual" that satisfies our homesickness for our Santa Cruz days. We will dine at O'Bistro and talk and laugh and build even deeper bonds over good food eaten en pleine air with the ocean as backdrop to it all.

When we place our napkins to rest and exit the retaurant our scripted schedule ends. In it's place lies a vast portion of possibility from which to fill our vacation basket to brimming. We may stroll on the beach at sunset or return to the inn for a dip in the spa (situated right on the cliffs overlooking the sea and glorious sunset). Our options seem limitless as we relish the holiday mood -- well almost limitless . . . Poor Elizabeth must return to the dormitory and sleep in preparation for a Thursday's class in World Masterpieces. (Hmmmmm . . . maybe we should tag along?) At 11:30 am on the dot we will whisk her away for another day of fun with us. But what will we do?

Hmmmmm . . .

We may visit the Zoo . . .

. . . or take in some of the many galleries and gardens at Balboa Park . . .

. . . or seize any number of splendid opportunities to enjoy ourselves until the clock bids us trade in our flashy convertible for a jet plane ready and waiting to whisk us back to home and hearth and our own comfy beds.

I shall be certain to gather a bounty of souvenir memories (and pics) to share and delight every one of you that stops back by to say "Hi." Be sure to bring a smile to wear, as we will surely be wearing ours for all to see.

I wish you joy 'til we meet again. : )

Me with My Precious Lydia
Little Girl . . . no more