March 24, 2015

Faith Journey - My Mother In Law

My parents weren't particularly religious. As I have already mentioned, they sent my sister and me to Sunday school when I was about 4 or 5. But they didn't go themselves. My father once claimed to be a lapsed Methodist, but I think he never forgave his parents for insisting that he move from Iowa to California after high school to help support the family when he just wanted to go to college. I don't know whether or not that muddied the religious waters for him. My mother considered herself to be a faithful Anglican. She was baptized, confirmed, married, and buried in the Episcopal Church. She didn't consider herself lapsed just because she didn't attend weekly services.

All of us cousins were christened in afternoon ceremonies with only a priest and extended family present. These baptisms never occurred during a church service with a congregation in attendance. Both my parents attended Don's ordination. My father said later that my mom complained about the passing of the offering plate until he reminded her that the funds might help to put food on her daughter's table. My mother and father seemed to think that the church was an institution that wished to rule your life and take your money. My father actually was a very generous man. He had a good job as a sales manager for a company that sold glass bottles and donated to several causes over the years. His social realm was his work and colleagues. My mother's was her extended family and a few neighbors.

Don's parents had many friends and acquaintances in Carlsbad including their church community. Don's father's business was land development and insurance. The town was small and the inhabitants were often his clients - as well as his constituents after he became the first mayor of the newly incorporated city. I would estimate that both sets of parents were equal in financial resources. But, Don's family spent money in different ways than my family. When Don's father retired, he commented to his wife that he didn't know why they still had to tithe on their retirement since the church already had the first ten percent of whatever he had made over the years.

My family went out to dinner in fine restaurants and took month-long vacations during the summer to beach resorts. My father and one brother were the only two of seven siblings that completely supported their parents. We lived in a very tiny mortgage-free house inherited from my grandmother. Don's parents lived in larger and newer homes, were fairly frugal, saved up several years for a long trips, and gave generously to their church - a fact that has lead to this entry. It was my mother-in-law who taught me about the concept of stewardship.

My lessons began the first time I was invited to Carlsbad for Thanksgiving with Don's family. As a guest, I visited with the nieces and nephews while enjoying the wonderful aromas of a meal being prepared. When the dinner was finally ready, Don's mom called her sons into the kitchen and gave them plates of hot food to take to all the "aunties" in town. I was flabbergasted. The much-anticipated meal seemed to be headed straight out the front door. However, in fifteen minutes or so, the guys were back, and we lined up and amply filled our plates with a delicious feast. There was plenty for everyone. The point was, Don's mom didn't send the "leftovers" to the people she fed. Instead, they got the first servings off the top before her family was invited to eat.

Once we were married, Don's mom told us that if we took the first ten percent off of our income and gave it to the church (or a charity), we would never ever miss it. I thought that was a crazy idea on our meager budget. We decided to try it out. The thing that blew me away was that she was right. We didn't have a lot of money, but we began giving away the first ten percent. I can shockingly say that we never missed it. We often had unmet needs, but uncannily something or someone would come along and provide for us. If we were short of funds, we'd get an unexpected birthday check or gift or be invited someplace for dinner. When our rugs were beginning to shred, Don's aunt gifted us with money for a new carpet. This happened over and over again. Pretty soon you begin to wonder about those recurring coincidences.

The cultural image of God as some vague presence out in the universe that I (sort of) believed existed was now called into question. Don's mom insisted that all we had came from God's Grace, and we had an obligation to return a portion to further God's work. Was there something in the universe that gave back to those who gave unselfishly to others? Were these gifts we received coming from God?

I rejected the notion of a God doling out gifts only to those who have given generously to others. I didn't think it worked if you gave just so you could receive. What about the stories of Jesus feeding the poor and caring for the disenfranchised? But, I still had to work out how I would define God. Any God I believed in would have to be benevolent to all and not to a select few.

I decided that giving to others was a path you can choose to follow and incorporate into your lifestyle. It's like you put something into existence that reverberates like sound waves and creates harmony. As Don's mom believed, it's sort of like partnering with God and being on God's team.

I will end this entry with another Dee McClellan story. When we were moving to Woodland Hills from Santa Barbara, we looked at dozens of homes and were getting discouraged. We visited Carlsbad and reported our lack of success to his mother. She never wavered. "You haven't found it yet. But, you will because it is waiting for you." Before we drove home, we called our realtor. "A house has just gone on the market." We told him that we were going through Woodland Hills in about two hours and could stop. We stopped. We saw the home. We loved it, but it was more than we could afford. We made an offer and went to a restaurant to await an answer. Our realtor called and said, "They accepted your offer." Since we expected them to counter, we asked what happened. "I told them that a pastor and his wife were interested in their home. They asked 'which church?' and I told them Woodland Hills Community Church. They said, 'that is our church and our new pastor. We will absolutely accept their offer.' We had our house. And Bob and Sara LeBien, the previous owners, became good friends as well as parishioners. I said to Don, "How does your mother do this?"

Posted by Marilyn at 6:37 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2015

Faith Journey - Seminary Years


My agnostic husband chose to go to Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley instead of the Unitarian seminary, Starr King, because he believed that he would have more interesting dialogues in a school where students represented a wide diversity of denominations and beliefs. His fellow students ranged from Episcopalians to Methodists, Congregationalists to Presbyterians, with a few others thrown in for good measure. Three different experiences had a huge impact on us as a couple during seminary.

The first arose out of our living situation - a triplex at 1717 Arch Street. Bob and Carol Olmstead came from the East Coast and moved across the hall from us in the other first floor studio apartment. Upstairs, Doug and Pat White, and their two preschool children, were in the two-bedroom flat. We quickly became very close friends. During the day, while the guys were in classes, Carol and I worked, and Pat was busy being a mom.

I didn't have to go to seminary for a taste of the theological education that came from the hours we three couples spent either sharing meals or hanging out on the stairwell between our apartments. All of us joined freely in the discussion of ideas that our husbands brought back from their classes. After that first precious year together, the guys were hired at local churches and we moved into different living situations. We continued to see each other socially, and we dined together every Sunday afternoon for the next three years. The first year of seminary, there were eight McWhitesteads, a name we coined from McClellan, White, and Olmstead. By graduation, we were twelve since Carol and I had each given birth to two daughters. The friendship and support from these two families greatly enhanced our seminary years giving us an instant forum for ideas ranging from theology to childbirth.

For us, the most significant events during those seminary years were the births of Danielle Christine and Jennifer Anne at Herrick Hospital in Oakland. Birth was a common occurrence during those Berkeley years since most couples were in the early years of marriage. My labor with Dani was very long, causing several friends to call the hospital to check on my progress. My doctors kept coming in to laughingly say, "Another one of your pastors has called." Don was allowed in the delivery room. I'm sure that we would both say that all three of our children's births were a marvelous experience for us. Giving birth was truly a miracle that was deeply spiritual.

The third important occurrence was especially life changing for Don. As an agnostic, his intention was to become a minister to higher education and work in college ministry after graduation. That was before he became the Minister to Youth at Plymouth Church in Oakland where I conducted a children's choir, and we both began a young couples' group. Don's job was to work with Walter Mueller, the pastor, and preach from time to time. We became a solid part of the church community, and it was that community that changed his life's direction.

You might say that it was the act of putting old wine into new wineskins. Suddenly the kinds of Christian activities that he had rejected from his conservative childhood (words such as evangelism, discipleship, and mission) took on a new and fresh meaning in this more liberal congregation. Don saw how these things were truly lived out in a loving church community whose mission was not to look inward with an exclusive faith, but to build a community that would reach beyond the church walls to serve the world. My previously agnostic husband began to put together a new belief system based upon God's Word becoming embodied in a company of believers. From that time on, he wanted to serve a congregation because that is where he saw that Word acted out in the world.

Theologicallyl, in those days it always seemed that I just toddled along after him, enjoying the ride and taking it all in. I had not been brought up in a congregation that thought their ideas were sacrosanct and that you were either out or in depending upon what you believed. That was one of my beefs with the Mormon Church. And, I truly believed that education, as opposed to indoctrination, would enhance my belief system and help me grow. But, most important during this time, I could agree with Don that it was amazing to be a part of a loving congregation who accepted all people who wished to journey together and who lived their beliefs to the best of their ability. That community had a huge impact on both our lives.

Posted by Marilyn at 1:57 PM | Comments (0)

January 2, 2015

On Hold! Or, New Year's Resolutions...

It seems as though much of my life is spent waiting. I was pondering this situation as I was cleaning house after Christmas. There are several things in my living room that are "on hold!" They are mostly things that I need to replace or fix or want to buy -- but it is not yet time. One big item is my braided rug under my dining table. There are several prominent previously mended holes beginning to widen. But, I've been in the middle of painting my dining room for a few months (I'm a slow painter), and I don't want to buy a new rug until I'm sure how it is going to look.

Sometimes I wonder if people gaze around my house and immediately spot all the obvious problems -- the old dog scrapes on the front door, the holes in the rug, the dirty windows, the rips in the rocking chair seats. Surely they notice the half painted room. These are things that I've taught myself to ignore until i can get them fixed. Sometimes it's a financial thing, but other times it is just a priority problem.The situation is made more problematic due to my own nature. When I walk through someone's home, I don't see things that need to be done. I simply get a feeling from the books on the table, or the kind of light in the kitchen, the vividness or quietness of the colors. The ambience gives me a sense of who lives there. I immediately know if they really love music or if they love reading or enjoy collecting things. I have said many, many times that I want people to walk into my house and want to curl up somewhere with their feet on the coffee table, a cup of tea, and a book to read or someone to talk to.

I have a list as long as life of the things I want or even need to do in my house. It will never be perfect just as my previous homes were not perfect. Perhaps we have always bought a bit above our means. But, every time we bought a house, we looked and looked, and finally walked into one and said, "this is it." We just knew that we would be happy within its walls. Both Don and I always agreed. Perhaps that is why I'm reluctant to give up this amazing space, amazing view, and unfortunately amazing size, to move into something more manageable in many ways.

So, once again I begin a new year with lots of lists -- painting lists, chore lists, organizational lists, purchasing lists, cleaning lists, and even some personal improvement lists. They are half made. But, at the moment, my beautiful grandson is home for only one more day and he is playing my piano. The fireplace is going, the tea water hot, and a good book is waiting to be read. Can anybody improve on that?

Posted by Marilyn at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2014

Pets!

I have been neglectful of my blog. I have been neglectful of writing. I have been other directed. It seems as though life just takes me where it will -- I follow the tides as they ebb and flow. They certainly have not been flowing towards creativity! Nonetheless, I thought about the blog today for two reasons. The first is that my writing group and I check in with each other on Tuesdays, and it is a Tuesday! We haven't been exactly good about this lately, but I still remember each Tuesday morning that I'm supposed to check in. Secondly, I am taking care of my neighbor's dog, and that in itself deserves some writing. So, as I was walking down Forest Street in freezing weather, having forgotten that my hair is not as thick as it once was and I needed a hat, praying that Charlie would poop so I could turn around and go back to my warm house, I thought about my blog. Perhaps writing on the blog is my therapy in times of need!

Charlie is a long haired, medium sized, sweet little dog adopted by my neighbor Shannon a few years ago when the employees at the Woods Coffee Shop down at Boulevard Park found him wandering around for a couple of days. Shannon tried hard to find his owners and to also find a new home, and finally decided to keep him. He is mellow, well behaved, and a real sweet pet, Shannon is single and travels often. Dani and Charles take on Charlie when she is gone -- he just joins the family's other two dogs with ease. However, they decided not to take him to Leavenworth after Christmas because taking three dogs to visit Charles's parents was a bit much. So, Shannon asked if I would take him for a few days after they left. Since I was going to be home putting stuff back to normal after a busy Christmas, and since Shannon does many little nice things for me like sometimes mowing my lawn while she mows hers and having her tree man cut off a few branches of my tree without letting me pay, I really wanted to give her something back with more than a few cookies.

I don't have a dog. I don't want a dog or any pets. I like my life. I love animals, but I like my life better. Charlie is a perfect pet. He is easy to take care of. He will walk by my side off leash. He comes when I call him. He never strays. He doesn't run into the street. He is extremely loyal and well trained. But those good qualities also have a back side. He will not leave my side. He won't go outside without me. I can't just open the door and tell him to go pee. He just looks at me dolefully and refuses to go. He must have a huge bladder. Every morning he waits patiently for me to take him for his walk so he can take care of the rest of his needs. It's been below freezing these past few days with high wind chill. I don't want to get up let alone walk in this weather. However, when you have a sweet thing looking at you with yearning eyes, you begin to feel guilty about what you want and feeling like you need to think about what he wants. Or needs! So, I dress as warmly as I can, grab the leash in case we run into other pets, and off we go for however many blocks it takes to move his insides to working order. Once done, I turn around and call him to reverse our steps towards home. He comes obediently wondering why we are stopping this great adventure he is having.

The problem with all of this is it reminds me of my terrible selfishness. I never wanted my parents to follow me around. I never wanted a husband that hovered. I never wanted to be a perfect mother. Even as a child, I needed space in my life. I needed time to muse, to think, to relax, to create. I was extremely fortunate to have a husband who worked a lot and left me on my own. When the children were babies, he would send me out to shop or to play from time to time when he saw I was getting wound up with too much chaos. We were a great team. And, since my children are grown and great parents, I probably didn't destroy them with my independence. For all my concerns, I was a fairly traditional mother. I'm sure they learned when to avoid me when I was overwhelmed. Nevertheless, I hate to be reminded of my selfish nature. I would rather think of myself as completely giving! But, alas, I'm surely not that way.

Shannon will be home tomorrow evening. Dani and Charles get home today. If I'm lucky, they'll take Charlie tonight so I can sleep in tomorrow. They have a fenced in yard so they don't have to take their dogs walking for their morning obligations. However, they do run their dogs daily. Of course, they are much younger than I am! When Shannon gets back, we'll go back to Charlie wandering over to my house from time to time. He will even sit in my chair with me while I read. But, just like grandchildren, I can give him back before I need to do anything but coo and pet.

No poop or pee
or responsi-bility!

Here is the sweet little guy!
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Posted by Marilyn at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

November 8, 2014

Faith Journey -- Sister Mary Corita

My husband was a poet who loved words as well as visual images. I attribute his lifelong interest to the wonderful liberal arts education at Occidental College including the various criticism classes he took in art, drama, and literature. On weekends, we went on interesting dates - often to Hollywood to curious bookshops or coffee houses to hear beat poets. One Saturday, we visited Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles for a sale of lithographs by the students of art professor, Sister Mary Corita. The sale included some of the teacher's pieces.

Corita Kent was a pop artist who saw the sacred in everyday words and images. She produced large, colorful graphics filled with words and phrases about her faith. A large portrait of Wonder Bread, for instance, would convey a sense of wonder about God. Her art portrayed the messages of love and peace during the 60s and 70s -- a time of social upheaval. Sister Corita designed the 1985 Love stamp for the US Postal Service. She sold well, and fortunately, the art that Corita was discarding the day we visited the sale was affordable.

I fell in love with her creations during that visit to the college and still have about fifteen lithographs that we collected over the years. I recently donated a few back to the Corita Art Center as they keep a collection of her works, and they were missing some of those early pieces that she had discarded.

Corita taught me to look at the universe in new ways. She saw the sacred everywhere she looked. She saw it in nature, in products in the marketplace and in everyday objects at home. We bought a large lithograph of the Los Angeles Times that screamed out the gospel in the daily news. She taught me to see God in everything that touched me, everything around me, everything within me. She taught me to look for the sacred in others. It fit for me - all God created is good - and it is we humans that often mess it up out of ignorance or self interest.

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Posted by Marilyn at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2014

Living Alone

I would say that throughout my marriage, I did lots of wifely things! Just like my mom, I cooked and sewed and cleaned the house. But, because Don worked practically around the clock, I also did things that my dad would have done. I mowed the lawn and painted the house. I also did the finances because I didn't like the way Don did them. It wasn't until I began working full time after the children were mostly grown that I hired someone to help clean for me. I'm not saying this to pat myself on the back -- but merely to state that what needed to get done around the house mostly was done by me with a little help from Don when he was available. And, during vacations when he was away from work, we chose to take our children and run away to Yosemite and places where we could both just relax and rejuvenate ourselves.

All of this said, one of the things I simply cannot do is to fix anything. So, those things were left for my husband when he had a moment here or there. Whether it be computer problems or plumbing, things that broke or things to be constructed for birthday or Christmas presents, he needed to be on hand for the project. I can't tell you how many times we put toys together at 2:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve after the midnight service at church -- or the number of times I read instructions while his head was under the sink fixing a leak.

Perhaps that is why I loved remodeling my house and having all those handymen around for so long. My wonderful contractor still drops by now and then to see how everything is working. When something breaks I begin feeling a bit panicky because I keep thinking I ought to be able to fix simple things without always paying someone to come to my rescue.

All this is preamble to the fact that I have been exceedingly proud of myself for the past few weeks. A light fixture broke in the basement bathroom and I didn't know what to do. But, Charles suggested that I get the part that broke from Hardware Sales. I then examined the twin fixture and figured out what to do with the part. After trying a variety of ways to extract it from the fixture when I installed it incorrectly, I finally figured it out. Remember, these things are not intuitive for me. Then, two lights blew out of my living room lamp, and I had to take it apart to extract the bulbs and, after another trip to my favorite hardware store, I finally got the bulbs in correctly and it actually worked! I have also fixed my kitchen faucet and I've just finished scraping lots of paint off of my dining room ceiling. Oh yes, I also figured out what was wrong with my VCR player. It has been a very productive week.

Now, these things I've done are really, really simple for many people. My daughter, Jeni, could do all of them in 10 minutes with her eyes closed. She took a broken burner on our stove apart when she was a young teen, fixed the problem, and put all the many parts back together without even a schematic to figure out where they went. I was aghast! When James was around four or five, I got a three-dimension puzzle for us to do. While I was trying to figure out the instructions, I looked up and he had already put it together. Nico builds Lego projects designed for much older children. I am simply not mechanical, nor do I see relationships between objects. It is my saving grace that I 'm attuned to relationships between humans.

I guess we all have our talents. But, I also have a great deal of extra pride this week for tackling some projects that would normally be beyond my ability. I guess you are never to old to learn new tricks.

Posted by Marilyn at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2014

The Amazing Youth

I have been so heartened by observing the special youth in the news this week. This morning I listened to the Nobel Acceptance Speech by Mahala Yousafzai, the seventeen year old Pakastani who has been speaking out about the rights of women to be educated in her country and around the world. I saw her first on the John Stewart show and was very impressed. What an amazing journey for one so young -- and what intelligence and bravery in the face of those who are threatened by her message and tried to assassinate her making it impossible for her family to return to their homeland.

I also listened this past week to Emma Watson, the beautiful young woman who plays Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, as she appeared before the United Nations as the Women's Goodwill Ambassador. Her speech on gender equality was moving and smart -- not surprising since she is a recent graduate from Brown University. It is impressive that she continued her education while she was growing up in the wake of such fortune and is now using her fame for some larger world cause. It certainly speaks well of her.

On Sunday I watched Bellingham High School student, Lucy Evans, speak to a group about her decision last spring to organize a march of BHS youth stand up against gun violence. She led over 100 students through the town and spoke to the mayor and politicians about the absurdity of the lack of appropriate gun laws and the right of youth to go to school without fearing that they may be shot by some person who should never have been able to buy guns in the first place. She reminded the American politicians that it is their job to protect their citizens. She was eloquent and very impressive.

Last night I was at the Pickford Theater for a special showing of "The Skeleton Twins" written and produced by Craig Johnson who grew up and was nurtured in our church and in our town. It is a sensitive and bittersweet film about a brother and sister who had a difficult youth and were struggling with their lives separate from each other until they meet once again and poignantly remember what family is all about. The showing was a benefit for Children's Literacy and Craig happily answered questions about the making of this, his second film. Craig has been all over the world talking about his film, but this particular audience was filled with friends and family who watched him grow up and pursue his dream which began in our church as part of the Joy Jesters mime group, in elementary school when he played a 6th grade MacBeth, in high school with Terry Grimes (an amazing drama teacher), in the Bellingham Theater Guild, in the University of Washington and Seattle theater, and finally to NY where he received a Masters' Degree in film. Most of the people in the audience have watched his journey with love and can only be impressed to see such success.

As a senior citizen, I am heartened by these young people who are speaking up for the less fortunate and spreading the good news whether it be the need for our citizens to insist on equal rights for others or reminding us all that relationships matter. At church lately, I witnessed Sarah, an impressive young woman, lead our very diverse search committee to the wonderful conclusion to call a new pastor (another impressive young woman) to our church. And, I shed tears while another spoke from the pulpit during a stewardship talk and bravely admit she found our church family when she was very depressed, and it was a lifeline for her. She was inviting others to share in the good news by giving our resources to an amazing community.

I think I can honestly say, with people of this caliber taking their turn to lead our town, our state, our country, and our world, we have nothing to worry about.

Posted by Marilyn at 8:29 AM | Comments (0)

October 1, 2014

Back to My Faith Journey - The College Years

If you read this blog, you may remember that some time ago I began writing about my journey of faith. The first two installments included my time spent as a child in the Episcopal Church and some musings about attending the Mormon Church with my neighbors and friends. This installment focuses on the journey into the wider world of college.

Occidental College

I have always loved school, but college was the best of all once I found my stride. Two important events happened during my two years at Pasadena City College. The first was rediscovering my love of choral music and the second was finding a class that prodded my intellectual growth. I loved choir in Jr. High, and I played the piano in high school in a group called the "Live Five" with four friends including my best pal, vocalist Darla Daret, who sang on television with Bob Mills and Cliffie Stone. At PCC, a friend dragged me to the choir that changed my life. The teacher, Dave Thorsen, was a phenomenal director and mentor, and the reason I subsequently went to Occidental College to study with the famous conductor, Howard Swan.

It was an Intro to Philosophy class where, on day one, we examined the nature of existence. How did we know that the chair we were sitting on was actually real? How did we know for sure that we even existed? That got my attention! This abstract thinking was completely new to my brain and absolutely fascinating. No wonder I felt like a pest in Mormon Sunday School when there were bigger questions to conquer.

When I got to Oxy, I enrolled in the church history class that my Presbyterian boss, the secretary of the music department, thought was the devil incarnate because students came out of it questioning their faith. I absolutely ate up the class. I knew from the moment I went to that little Episcopal Church when I was little that I had a deep affinity for religion, but I knew little about theology or the beginnings of Christianity. This is probably a good place to interject that singing beautiful sacred music in two stellar college choirs was one of the best introductions to Biblical texts that I could ever have.

It was illuminating to find that the books of the Bible were written at different times, that events don't have to be factual to be true, that the Bible was filled with stories, metaphors, poetry, literature all gathered together from people who lived and believed in their own ways. Instead of ruining my simple faith, it deepened it, because I could finally put my heart and my head in the same place and not ignore one at the expense of the other. What an illumination that church history class was to me, and what power it had in my life. How fascinating that even in the holiest of books for the Christian Church, people had a variety of experiences and different points of view.

Theodore Gill, the president of San Anselmo Theological Seminary spoke eloquently at my college graduation. He remarked that although we were celebrating the completion of our college years, we were just beginning our learning process. College taught us how to learn and should have instilled the hunger and quest for further knowledge. As we continued to expose ourselves to different ideas, different points of view, and different worlds we would gain real wisdom.

These formative intellectual experiences were the foundation upon which I built all my later systems of religious belief. I'd like to say here that in learning to sift through what was important to me, how various theological ideas fit my experience and my temperament, in no way diminished my respect for those who believed differently. One thing college taught me is that people form their belief systems out of a multitude of experience. I personally have difficulty believing in absolutes. The more I expose myself to new ideas, the more I change my original premises.

I find it difficult to believe that all the truth in the world might reside in one particular basket. What connects me to my Mormon friends, or my Presbyterian boss, or my Buddhist neighbors, or atheists, or physicists, or philosophers or whomever is that we're all curious for a deeper understanding of who we are and why we exist. I can understand when some believe so firmly in their own answers that they want others to embrace them too. But, as you can see, that point of view only makes me more resistant.

Posted by Marilyn at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2014

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall

I can see that I have ignored this blog for quite some time. I don't remember such a glorious summer where I have done absolutely nothing of any importance other than my trip to England and finally, last week, my annual trip to Ashland, Oregon, to see plays with friends. Four of us took the trek down I-5 stopping in Portland at the wonderful Powell's Books, dinner at Cafe Mingo, overnight in Salem, and into Medford Airport to pick up a friend who had flown down. Then, on to the wonderful Rogue Creamery cheese and wine shop to pick up snacks before the short hop into Ashland and our beautiful flat we rent each year.

Barb and I saw six plays in four days, and the other three saw from three to four plays. We all took a wonderful backstage tour. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, a true repertory, runs several plays at a time -- often three using the same stage. Their actors may be in two plays each day and understudy a third. -- only some of them Shakespeare. They have a variety of offerings including one musical. Barb and I saw two comedies (Two Gentlemen From Verona and A Comedy of Errors), a new rendition of Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time," the sequel to the play All the Way (that we saw two year's ago and that won the Tony's this year) The Great Society, a Groucho Marx play, Cocoanuts, and a contemporary play about cyberspace, Water By the Spoonful. All were quite wonderful. The joy of going to Ashland (I'm sure I've mentioned before) is seeing such high quality work time after time. Even if you don't agree with the way they have decided to stage a play, you cannot fault the performances.

We've had an exciting time at church. Our candidate for senior pastor was here for several days meeting people, answering questions, and generally preparing to preach her sermon. I was really impressed and pleased with our search committee. I loved her answers to all the questions asked during a lunch meeting on Friday, and was pleased that we extended her a call yesterday after she preached. She will be here in January. She has gone home to give her church her resignation, be with them for a time, and then take a month off between calls.

I have turned into a boarding house. Katie, of course, has stayed with me for several years. She is a voice teacher at the University and lives in Seattle where she teaches at Cornish and sings all over the state for a variety of orchestras and other gigs. She is in Bellingham from Monday through Wednesday. Jeni and Ron's friends, the Lintons, have a son finishing his degree in Geology this quarter and needed a place to stay. So, Peter has moved into my attic room for the duration. A nice lad. I wasn't looking for another roommate, but three months will go by quickly. Although I may pay him to stay on since he cleans the kitchen and is very quiet. It does ease the missing of James to have a big, strapping, lad on the premises.

James is launched into St. Olaf's College in Minnesota having a grand old time. He is surprising us by 1) boxing, 2) sewing costumes for the drama department, and 3) hosting a radio show. I don't know much more about these events and look forward to hearing about his experiences. Allie is living with several friends just up the street in a huge house. She has found a job greeting people at "The Little Cheerful" cafe and taking three classes at Western. Nicole is coming up in two weeks to stay with me and take the SAT -- she and Ron are going to go look at colleges for next year. Can my three oldest grandchildren really by that old? I don't feel old myself (most days).

The two little boys are growing too with Nico in second grade and Lionel finishing his last year in preschool. Not much more to recap -- I'm off to continue scraping paint from my dining room that got slopped over at one time. I'm on my third dishwasher full of glasses from last night's book group here. Life is great, weather is so so, leaves are beginning to turn into fall colors, and that's what news is like from Bellingham, Washington.

Posted by Marilyn at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

August 9, 2014

Lazy Days!

I'm so caught between these gloriously beautiful days which call for being outside and relaxing, that I am feeling very guilty for all the household chores that are not getting done. This weighs on me, so on Thursday I simply took off for Seattle and wandered around University Village and did some therapeutic shopping.

I've been on the lookout for the perfect pepper grinder for several years. After hearing a Cook's Magazine podcast, I decided to go to Crate and Barrel to purchase the one that came out on top in their product testing. Unfortunately, C&B were out of the product, but I still bought it and they will send it to me free of charge. Then, I wandered the Apple Store and Anthropology and Williams Sonoma before crossing over to see what stores are in the new huge parking structure. After a few hours of meandering through stores, enjoying a frozen yogurt and then, later, an ice tea (it was a hot day), I finally headed up to Martin and Christine's friend's restaurant, Pair, where I met them and we all enjoyed a simply wonderful small plates dinner. Driving home, I reflected how getting away just one afternoon was so very enjoyable and refreshing. It is what I miss mostly about Don being gone -- I'm not as apt to take these little diversions on my own.

I've been diligent in walking down at Boulevard Park while listening to Podcast. James, who is going away to college very soon, has been in and out of my house with the occasional all nighter since it is easier access to his girlfriend who lives in town rather than in the county like he does. It's great to see him run in and out with "Hi grandma." Yesterday, I even got his girlfriend, Sierra, to join with me in talking him into mowing my lawn. Yay for women power!

Last night I saw the new Helen Mirren movie which was delightful. I am definitely into culinary pursuits lately -- in podcasts, in movies (I also saw Chef), in cooking (my latest some apricot jam), in buying a new Ottolenghi cookbook, and meeting my birthday group at Ciao Thyme for lunch. All this while trying to be true to Weight Watchers. Oh my! Some of my habits do not particularly go together.

So, this is a blog about almost nothing. I do have to get to so many of my unfinished projects, but this is what incessant sun in Washington does do the soul. It has been glorious walking over the water each day with the warmth surrounding you. All of Bellingham is outside these days.

Now I am off to meet Charles at the Pickford -- we're going to see an old Charlie Chaplin movie. I do love summertime!

Posted by Marilyn at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)