Friday, November 17, 2017

Thanksgiving Thoughts- Kindness as the Twin Pillar of Gratitude

 Even through the dreariness of life's winter seasons, dream of spring.
 Dream it forward. 
~ Lydia Plunk

Photo by Glenda Bona Thompson
For life to be good, kindness should bloom as bountifully as a spring hillside

Image by Gene Sasse

Gratitude is great. But without its twin, kindness, it dies. So spread kindness like wildflower seeds blown in the wind. This is only sure course to choke out the taproots of the saddest of human conditions, the  hardened heart.

 There is scholarly disagreement on whether  these words are properly attributed to Mark Twain. If his name helps spread the wisdom more than 'Anonymous', this is nothing I'll argue with.  

'Wild Blue Yonder' rose bouquet. Image by Gene Sasse.

Kind gestures. Kind words. These are never remembered with regrets. Gather and give.   
Close up by Gene Sasse
Examine your life closely for kindness. In words and deeds.

For us, this past year has been a journey of miracles.  

My husband was in a foreign country when the medical crisis would be ignored no longer. It wasn't a problem the size of a lizard, It was a full-on fire breathing dragon.

To all who helped get him home.... to family members for their loving friends, neighbors  and colleagues whose kindness has included dinners delivered, fruit discovered on the front porch... cards of encouragement, prayers and more ... thank you.    

Sparkling lemonade and cookies 
One of the highlight's of this past month was Pastor Anne Grethe's visit. The Lord is with us everywhere, so  our communion toast in the garden was with sparkling strawberry-lemonade and crackers standing in for wine and bread. Unforgettable. Moving.

Image by Gene Sasse

However difficult life gets- Kind gestures. Kind words. These are never remembered with regrets. They are rays of sunshine through darkest clouds. 

Until we meet again, THANK YOU for all you do to make the world more beautiful. 



Thank you, Glenda for 31 years of friendship and guidance.

Thank you Gene Sasse  for providing images which light up the screen. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

In Sickness and in Health- Thoughts from our 42nd Anniversary

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. 
~Ecclesiastics 4:9

My doctor is a young widow. She shared,"There is no handbook for when your husband has brain cancer."

If there was, it would tell you that life is as precious as you decide it is or not. 

As a young bride, I really didn't have a true understanding that either of us would really be called to care for the other in sickness. I certainly did not comprehend the collateral beauty of bonds deepened through trials beyond our control.

'Julia Child' blooms nearly year- round. 

Cancer heightens awareness. Every day is different. Every hour is different. I can recount what has happened the last 4 hours- but the next 4 is always in God's hands. 

'Meerlo' lavender- 
Should have. Would have. Could have. These are useless thoughts. My husband is finally home enjoying time watching me try to keep up with the garden of our hearts.

Take action, or forget it. This summer was time to do something about moving 'Meerlo' lavender up the wish-list. For heat tolerance, it was bred with the constitution of a John Deere tractor. Planted in the hell strip between the spa and our garden, the plantar now  wears the most luxuriant lavender scent. Ever. 

Asclepias Curassavica - butterfly weed
Accepting serious illness is not the same as giving up. A couple holes in the leaves of the milkweed do not deter from its lovely purpose...

For look who comes to dinner. Hang-out. Fly away. To watch the fat-crawly thing encase himself in a chrysalis and then emerge as a butterfly... miracles happen every day... the secret is to notice. Count them... and make them count.

Like our family, this daylily multiplied and spread
As one of my oldest- err- longest friends, artist Charlie Mott advised "Be strong. Be honest. Be present. Always give and accept love. BREATHE." 

Unruly patch of narcissus  
Accept imperfection as part of life. Not everything is equal in importance. 

What I have learned being married more years than single, is that being right is not nearly as important as the relationship itself. Husbands and wives- take care of each other.    

The face of faith and courage. My husband.
Never allow yourself to think of yourself as a victim. That is a dark hole with no benefits.  Choose to LIVE: survive and thrive. 

Thank you to friends and family who have brought real joy to us in what is a challenging- but rewarding- time.   


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hosting Angels at Garden Wedding of Robyn Green and Jacob Dilick

It was a miracle.  Not too different from when Moses parted the Red Sea for his people to pass out of bondage. This parting of  torrential rains. I believe the mother's love was so strong, from on-high she held back the clouds for her daughter's wedding. 

A cameo of Cobi Neal attached to the bouquet provided by the groom's mother
The bride's mother flew the pain of cancer on December 14, 2006. But love knows no boundaries. Her spirit was with us last Saturday.  

Edda Gahm, the bride's grandmother, called 10 days before. "The kids" had planned a park wedding- only fate proclaimed that heaven would continue wringing water on Southern California for the first time in years. The small family wedding included family from other states. Even if it didn't rain, mud already closed the parking lot where the nuptials were planned for. Did I have any ideas? 

The answer was instinctive. Hospitality is ingrained into the culture of our faith. God hosted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Abraham and Sarah offered  hospitality to three strangers- only later to find they were angels unawares. We would not know many of guests, but if they were faithful enough to this young couple to brave wicked weather, they are angels to us.

 If Robyn and Jacob (Jake) were amenable, our home and garden were at their service. At my husband's suggestion, we ordered a canopy. Unless the day turned out to be a gale, the bride could have her outdoor wedding. A modest rain, the guests could watch under the patio's protection.  Worst case, we would scoot furniture out of the living room, and they could marry in front of the fireplace. 

After helping set-up, Jake used our bedroom to change into his Air Force dress blue uniform.

With the groom ready, the bride and her friends took over the room.  


How did the couple come to this day? 

Robyn recounts, We met in passing when I was about 17, he 18, at a friend's graduation party. We would see each other every few years at their New Years parties, when would come home for leave for Christmas. Sparks never really flew until we were Best Man and Maid of Honor at our friends' wedding. After three months of texting and Facetiming I flew out to Florida, where he was stationed. We spent an amazing two weeks together. A couple months after I returned he stationed out here, at Edwards (AFB) to be closer. 

Everything about the festivities was profoundly personal. 

While the rain pushed sideways the day before and after the ceremony, on Saturday, January 21, 2017, the heavens opened for the angels to be Robyn and Jake's guests. The canopy wasn't needed. 

Kandi Schultz Hardy officiated. She has known Robyn since she was the bride's teacher at Valley Christian School in San Dimas. The tone and tenor both sober and celebratory. When asked about the service performed, Kandi explained she lightly updated the archaic language of the Christian ceremony her father, the Reverend William Schultz, used during his pastoral days.  She adds " I feel so blessed that he gave me his actual wedding book, not a copy of the ceremony." 

The guests. Some drove through blizzards to be present. Some flew to give support to the forming of the new family of Jake Dilick and Robyn Green.

Prayers said. Promises made. Rings exchanged. Robyn's father passed to Jake the ring her mother had given him, back in the day. The bride says " I don't ever want to resize it- I'll wear it on a necklace."

The lighting of the unity candle signifying bride and groom are stronger now that they are one to the other. Before man and God. 

With this first kiss,  Robin and Jake's life begins anew.   With little commentary, please enjoy these images. May the silent universal language of photography of convethe joy surrounding this union. 

The groom with his mother, Rochelle Dilick. She covered the dining table with a lavish buffet. 

 She served love from the ceremony the following day in presenting "planned-overs" from the wedding feast to feed the homeless in Lancaster. She wrote on her Facebook page " I wasn't sure how many would 'show up' in the rain. They came. They ate and they stayed around and visited with us all for quite some time. I'm thinking that some are considering this their Sunday Family Meal and that makes me happy."

The bride's father with his new son-in-law. 

The bride's sister, Kaitlin, baked and decorated cupcakes. The bride made lemon and chocolate snickerdoodle cookie bars.  

Nikki served as unofficial Maid of Honor. 

It was a fun moment when the little girls ran in the house together, announcing they had picked "all the plums off the tree" to make money selling. 
When we stopped laughing, we took a couple bags out to collect the big yellow plums, actually grapefruit, off the lawn. Tangerines plus some assorted "jewels" from the pathways were tossed in. Not all- we left some polished jewels for the fairies to find their way back):- 

The bride complemented her forest green lace gown with Converse high-top  basketball shoes. 

It's been a secret wish, to have a wedding here. You made that dream come true. Thank you. God bless. 

Thank you, Robyn and Jake, for choosing to share your sacred start of your life together here. The occasion helped me realize how much I take for granted. Every guest was an angel to us. Come what may, all the love which graced this place on your wedding day shall remain with us -and with this place we call home. 

A special thank you to Nikki, Marissa, Jaimie,  as well as my husband Gerry, for contributing the commemorative photos.  

Until we meet again, thank you for ALL YOU do to make the world more beautiful. 


Saturday, October 8, 2016

M.F.K Fisher: Home Ground ~ Loving the California Landscape ~ Paula Panich at the LA Arboretum

A quilt for a tablecloth makes for a country formal picnic 
“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.
M.F.K. Fisher
'Mary Frances'

The landscape where the lecture took place- The LA County Arboretum and Garden - from their Facebook Page.

Landscape. A two syllable word which opens endless linkage to the context of our lives. 
Brea Canyon painting, by John Anderson . Photograph by Gene Sasse captures my neighborhood.
We are products of the landscapes which envelop our lives. Doyenne of modern American writing and founder of the Napa Valley Wine Library, Mary Frances loved California, her descriptives of one place, frequently redolent with memories of other times, other locations. Best known as the originator of the genre of passionate renderings of home craft we enjoy now. Her “cookbooks”  reach beyond the making of food, but commemorate values learned communing with land, community and each other.   

Dijon France Mustard Field, from Pinterest, Steven Block
Born in Quaker Whittier, she lived most of her life in cities up and across California, including Laguna Beach, Hemet, Napa and Sonoma.  She lived in Europe. First in France, during an ill-fated first marriage. 

Dillwyn Parrish with Mary Frances in Hemet Image by Counterpoint Press, Berkeley, California

Then Switzerland, with her second and most passionate companion, artist Dillwyn Parrish. They started as Laguna Beach neighbors , whose respective marriages failed. He was very encouraging with Mary Frances’s writing. And complicating her life as only one deeply loved can. 

In 1938, the couple married, and she wrote of the Swiss mountainside where they inhabited as being where large trees leaned, pushed by wind.  The sudden onset of a circulatory disease required her husband’s leg be amputated. In 1939 there was no escaping war was coming to Europe. The couple stocked up on a pain medication not available in the US, fleeing back to the US. They set up home keeping in a modest cabin on 90 acres in the hamlet which Hemet was at the time. They proceeded to fit it to their needs, which meant including a studio for her husband to paint in. Forebodingly, his best known works from this time were dominated by images of the angels of death.  

Wyoming rainbowm image by Trevor Plunk
With Dillwyn devastatingly ill, his sister largely supported them on the land overlooking groves of apricots and acres of roses. Mary Francis painted with words grounded with grace, scenes such as watching a rainbow grow and die.  The property itself: a visitor once described as being full of “red rocks and rattlesnakes.”

In 1942, facing further amputations due to incurable Buerger’s disease and unable to procure the only pain medication which gave him relief, 47 year old Dillwyn walked a short distance from his home into the countryside. He chose a bullet to end his pain.

Paula Panich began reading M.F. K. Fisher 40 years ago. She was living in San Francisco, the epicenter of the food revolution which she good-humoredly describes as having grown into something of a “splinter religion” where food is the great metaphor for nourishment and shelter.

How does one read the same author for so long, and still eagerly return? Because Mary Francis’s unique writing style braids food, travel and memoir is accessibly authoritative. Great writers, as our own lives are expanded as experience become, we can return to the pages to mine ever deeper layers of intoxicating language. In the words of the poet Rilke,” The world is large, but in us, it is as deep as the sea.”

Author/ Teacher/ Speaker Paula Panich with  Mitchel Bishop, Arboretum Associate Curator of History and Photographer Ilana Panich-Linsman 
An east coast transplant, Paula found retreat from LA life by keeping a writing shack in Hemet. Here she followed her muse, so far as to imitate an archaeologist, mini-excavating on the late writer's land, turning up wine bottles, which now set on a shelf of Paula’s Los Angeles home, near the collection of immortal words brought into existence by the woman known as M.F.K. Fisher. 

Arboretum Librarian Susan Eubank told the capacity crowd, that she intends today to be the inaugural edition of lectures at the Los Angeles Arboretum and Garden.

Until we meet again, thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful.