Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Gift of A Holiday Letter

In 1843, an enterprising gentleman by the name of Sir Henry Cole commissioned John Halcott Horsely to design the cover for the first commercial Christmas card. Pictured above, notice the small child joining in the wine infused revelry. Leave to a Zazzle vendor to have a drawing of the card available for purchase.

It is good to be back. DiamondBarPatch.com just published my article Send the Gift of Holiday Letter on the art and history of a great Christmas Card, which now extends to all the holidays of the season.  In the age of the Internet, personalizing the message with images is easy. In 2009, the informal portrait of Gerry and I with Tahoe, Vegas, Reno and Quila was featured in our own letter.

Do you send holiday cards?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

When Humor Works and When it Doesn't . Laughter and Healing

Give a Moose a beer and you never know what will happen.

Must be Moosehead Beer !!!!!!
This actually happened with some guys from Maine.

They dressed the truck up with a guy dummy spread-eagled on the roof of the truck.
The driver and passenger put on Moose Heads.
Down the Maine Toll interstate they went, causing about 16 accidents.
Then they went to jail.

I used to use the expression "drop-dead beautiful"- until a former Breck girl of my acquaintance dropped dead of cancer, leaving a husband with two small children to raise on his own.

Men have a harder time convincing themselves to think of a hospital stay as a spa vacation. They express their emotions differently. A woman might tell her husband " I can't wait to get home to you." My husband kept repeating different variations of "Get me out of here or shoot me."
So I went to Wal-Mart and bought a Nerf-N-Strike Blaster.  At $11, my plan was to pack in in my bag and ambush him the next time my love said "just shoot me." 

Only something happened that made a perfectly funny joke horribly inappropriate.

Last week, a dear neighbor knocked on the door. With his oldest daughter's wedding in less than two weeks, it would be natural to have a day-off to attend last minute details related to the celebration. His face was lined and eyes downcast- I reassured him that Gerry is well on the mend. I shared my planned joke. Our neighbor went absolutely white.

It turned out his ex-wife chose that very morning to shoot herself.

Suicide. I remember years ago, when I drove to work listening to one of Dr. Laura Schlesinger's radio diatribes, she was lecturing on the dynamic of anger in the taking of such irrevocable action. All these years late what she said struck an ever more real personal chord. The anger it takes to thumb your nose at the gift of life- especially coming into a season of joy- the woman who took her life was a fool.

Every ounce of sympathy and compassion I feel is not for the woman who chose to violently end her life, but for those who ever dared love her. I will know their healing has begun when I see them laugh.

Gerry is home, his body teaching it is actually faster to cruise than try to race back to normalcy.    

With this new found wisdom, my husband chose the landscape deer needlepoint  that took a billion years to complete, not to mention the bag of gold to properly frame, for Nerf target practice. Instead of stomping my feet like Rumpelstiltskin,  I laughed out laughed out loud.

 Laughter, being involuntary, is a beacon that I have faith that God shall continue to guide my husband's full recovery. We are overjoyed that with just a couple exceptions, every hour brings a sign of renewed fortitude. Long before the next hunting season, Gerry will be in prime physical shape,back  to stalking wild game with his brother and our sons. Though perhaps armed with a camera.

This Thanksgiving will be quite unconventional. In our home it will be quiet, with feasting curtailed. This year it will be impossible for any tradition to overpower the raising of learnest prayers of Thanksgiving to God for the good fortune and love which surrounds us.

Thank you to Judy Duvall for passing the photo and top story. The visual is so funny, factuality doesn't matter.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Garden Blooming Blog Day - November 2011

In front of the garage. Where a sensible person plants an automobile, a pair of Peter Beale's 'Evelyn May' roses show off the color that launched my obsession to legally import a dozen blooming British Beauties. Easier said than done. One of the top ten accomplishments in family lore.

 I send their good cheer to you. And to our adventurer son Trevor, who is working in the cold of North Dakota.

 I just can't get enough of the many hued succulent that goes by the impossibly long name of Graptopetalum paraguayense ‘Pinky.’ With her easy to love attitude- you can order from Annie's Annuals
The beach bells of peach tinged trumpet flower - Brugmansia is her formal family name. During the day you know where she is from all the buzzing coming from inside her bells. At sunset- she exudes an elixir of  heady floral scent so powerful breathing the perfume might turn acquaintances into lovers 

 Begonia 'Richmondensis' (Richmond Begonia) - is a year round blooming trouper needing only an occasional shearing back. Tickle her taste buds with diluted sports drinks and she responds with a healthy year round response in our relatively mild climate.

I love the juxtaposition of a Germanic rose that divides the civilization of the upper garden from the wild beyond. Every year the firemen checking on brush clearance stop to admire the rare harmony that exists when love of garden and respect for nature marry.

Thank you to Carol May for keeping the gate open for this month's Garden Blooming Blog Day.  Such kindness is appreciated.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Healing begins with Hope and Truth

Saint Jude Chapel Stained Glass by Ann Pope of the Judson Studios
A small plaque just inside the Chapel is inscribed with the words of Ann Pope, the stained glass artist with the venerable Los Angeles craftsman Judson studios behind the symbolism of the chapel's window wall.  

"The effect I have tried to achieve is that of a curtain hung from the ceiling, being rent and torn by the power of the "light" and peeling away from the very framework which encapsulates it."

In describing the design scheme and colors " the grey curtain with a blue lining represents the world in which we live with all the varying shad of light and dark. the netting is symbolic of the complexities of our lives, and the flesh tone behind the netting is the gentle calmness achieved after over coming these complexities." 

There is a final layer of clear glass expressing "there is pure light we have been promised in heaven." The position of the tabernacle she points out plays a very important role. All movement is directed to this point, a starting point for both hope and truth."

It has been a great pleasure being served by medical professionals that enjoy their work. That say "God Bless you" as they go off shift.   What those lacking bedside manner is not related to their ability to tell the truth.  The best professionals know to tell the truth kindly with hope.

Truth in its own can be cold and callous. If it is all a doctor is interested in, he will never be more than a mechanic of people.

However, truth told with kind respect for the patient gives hope.  Doctors who practice this style of medicine are healers.

Panoramic Images by Judson Studios, specializing in stained, faceted and architectural glass since 1897.

In Sickness and In Health

November 8th, 1975. The vows were traditional. I promised-

I, Lydia, take you Gerry, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

Our honeymoon was skiing at Mammoth Mountain. My husband was an accomplished water skier. Teaching him to take his skills and send him down a mountain on the first weekend with snow that year- Gerry had amazing balance. I have never, before or since, seen anyone go so far, so fast, so out of control- yet remain upright. How we kept out of the emergency room that year is proof that God watched over us in the exuberant days of early wedded bliss.

 Mammoth Mountain became a place with special memories when the sons that followed- Trevor and Kenny - were potty-trained on the slopes before they were 3. My theory is that wet diapers are extremely cold.

 Over the past 36 years, Gerry and I have celebrated our anniversary any number of ways. Trips to Knotts Berry Farm, Disneyland, hunting with the in-laws, Pop Warner Fundraisers, the Diamond Bar Community Foundation Gala, a surprise trip to Europe.  

November 08, 2011

This year topped them all.

Our anniversary was spent at Saint Jude's Hospital in Fullerton.

There began a trip back to good health for my husband. 

This is the part where I get to share a thought quite treasonous for a writer to her profession.  I confess: I cringe at the Julie/ Julia blog turned book turned movie project. I pity people caught in  reality-they-are- not programs. Though some of the TV projects are visually quite attractive if you turn the yakking off, there is a value popular culture does not comprehend.

It is privacy. There are times when one is best quiet. The writer is not nearly so important as the people we write about. 

Now is the time to catch my breath. Drink in our family's moment of great fortune. Very shortly my husband will be back off to the profession he was called to when he was 10.  I will return to my garden and my glass.  For as long as God allows, all is to be well. Praise Him.

Not everyone is so lucky. Tonight I learned, members of a family we know were on a road trip.  There was an accident. Understanding the oncoming danger of an out-of-control truck, the driver turned the family's vehicle, saving the lives of his two passengers at the expense of his own.

In the face of tragedy, only the peace of God can transcend grief.

The flower image is by Gene Sasse. More info to follow.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bat Shit ~Rebirth ~ Artistic Expression

Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.

- Danny Kaye

It was planned as a romantic end to a day moving to their dream home in Diamond Bar. After a long day of unpacking, Cathy's husband met her in their master bedroom suite, where she settled in to what else- a love seat. Freshly bathed, Ed carried up the stairs a silver tray with 2 crystal glasses and a favorite sherry. 

It was near dusk. The stereo was tuned to soft music, Ed opened the French doors leading to their balcony. He massaged Cathy's shoulders. The fresh air and sherry worked in concert to let the massage ramp towards some marital bliss.  Ed began to tell Cathy how much he loved her, when in flew the bats.

According to Dirt Works, which sells bat poop (i.e., guano) "Many civilizations have used guano as a soil amendment and considered it sacred, so much so that disturbing rookeries was once a crime punishable by death. Fortunately, you can buy Bat Guano from us and only good things will happen when you do."

It took awhile for the new butterfly to shake its wings out to fly
Earlier in the month I watched the striped caterpillar park on this post. Soon, a green acorn shaped chrysalis was glued in its place. Some days later it turned brown and ugly- like a tumorous growth.  Just when I wondered if a butterfly died en utero, somehow this beautiful winged wonder worked its way out of the encasement.

Not strong enough to fly, I gently lifted it to cradle in soft planting until it flew away.

The actual pattern with our garden features
Enlarging the photo of the inspiration piece 400 % rendered a pattern to manipulate for the stained glass insert in the dutch door. Personalizing with a replica of our Victorian bird feeder, changing the birds to western US species and colorizing closer to our personal vision of paradise. 

As this is a collabortive piece to be displayed in our home,  I gave my husband the final thumbs up on the color, texture and light qualities of the glass selected. 

It didn't used to be this way in our home. My husband has always been an intensely busy man. For many years he spent more time with his suitcase than with his recliner. During those years I made lots of arbitrary decisions. My intent was to smooth things out for him. Turned out this was exactly the wrong thing to do if a man is to feel important to his wife. 

Fortunately, I learned to use some discernment in decision-making.   Young brides, I am not saying this is an easier process- however, the results are richer. 

The artistic use of glass enriches a humble setting 

It was probably 50 years ago, before Knott's Berry Farm had a real roller coaster, charged for parking or admission. This stained glass window in Knott's Chicken Diner  was the seed that grew into a love of windows adorned with stained glass. There is something comforting to see these windows still in place all these years later.

The choir of Mt Calvary Lutheran Church, Diamond Bar
The purpose of life's downturns may be to keep us humble. To keep us aware. To remember to include God as collaborator of how our lives are painted. It has been so long since Gerry and I were both in church at the same time, I'm glad the topic of the sermon was "The world is going to end" with our presence was used as proof. 

The choir sang Martin Luther's "A Mighty Fortress is Our God. " The battle hymn of the reformation still inspires strength in chords nearly 500 years after it was first sung. 

Never doubt the power of words and music. From  his unimaginable personal pain, Martin Luther could not have imagined the lasting impact of his artistic expression.