Day Trip:

Luther Burbank’s Home and Gardens in Santa Rosa, California

Luther Burbank was a famed horticulturist who made his home in Santa Rosa for more than fifty years, and it was there that he conducted plant-breeding experiments that brought him world-wide fame. His personal friends and visitors to his home and gardens included Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. During his career, he introduced more than 800 new varieties of plants–including over 200 varieties fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains as well as hundreds of ornamental flowers.

Luther Burbank’s greenhouse and home in the background. One interesting fact is that although the town of Santa Rosa was greatly damaged by the great earthquake of 1906 in California, Luther’s home and greenhouse were unscathed. This little pocket of beauty is surrounded by a very busy street in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa and surrounded by street noise and foot traffic. I was struck, however, by the quiet once we stepped into the house. Luther’s father was a brick-layer and he made the bricks himself. A sure testimony to how well this place was built, in addition to the aforementioned fact about the earthquake.

“Fourth of July” roses and trellis below:

Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb.

Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.

Luther Burbank

Wandering around the grounds you can see the imprint of Luther’s second wife, Elizabeth who had a thing for unusual tiles. She and Luther married in 1916 when he was 67 and she was 28. That marriage lasted until Luther’s death in 1926. I didn’t snap any pictures of her tile collection since we were on a tour and I thought it might be rude to the sweet lady who was informing us of everything we were seeing.

Here is another angle of the greenhouse, which miraculously still has the original leaded glass. Only one pane has had to be replaced and that was because a rock was thrown through it.

I took many pictures but only selected a few here. It is a wonderful piece of American history come to life as you can see by the many photos on the grounds. As I wandered the gardens, it was incredible to think that I was walking where Helen Keller, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Jack London and so many others had set foot. People of all walks of life down throughout history have found peace in gardens.

After all, it’s where we all started……..

Isaiah 51:3

Indeed, the Lord will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and a sound of a melody.

A very peaceful and happy Sunday to all. Lori

He is risen! (and so can we)

A motley crew. The rock band spelled it differently so I don’t think that will land me in copyright jail. It’s just really the perfect term for all of us. Jesus most trusted friends all scattered when He was arrested. Matthew 26:56 says: “Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled.” Each of us is gets to rise up this morning; we have another chance at life and a myriad of choices in one 12 hour day. 

Just getting up sometimes is hard, isn’t it? But we get to, today. And we will continue to have victories and failures, sometimes simultaneously. We will curse the driver in front of us and then apologize to God for our language and our anger flare ups. We will act like the disciples did when they gave up on Jesus. 

I went to place fresh flowers on Mom and Dad’s grave yesterday and I saw people laying on the ground next to their loved ones resting place. I saw Easter eggs scattered around graves, bottles of adult beverages (which always seems strange to me) and food. I saw sorrow. 

Then I thought of the words of the two Angels in Scripture here as described in Luke 24:

“While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He is risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still with you in Galilee.” 

Why do we seek the living among the dead? It’s human nature, I guess. Why do we as a human race continue to choose things like war, addictions that wage war on our bodies and souls, death instead of life? 

But because of Jesus final victory over death, we too can rise to new life. PERMANENTLY. That is what makes Easter the most important event in human history. We have the victory because when Jesus rose from the grave He had the final word. Because of this, though our bodies may rest in the ground, our souls reside in eternal home with Jesus. 

Until the time God says enough is enough, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16 comes to pass, we rise. And because of Easter. We rise with hope! 

Letting Go

It continues to feel strange, this new journey I’m on. In 2021, Dad passed on August 19, and then Mom passed 44 days later on October 2. At first, there was the flurry of activity involving the memorial for Dad, then we barely turned around and the same had to be done for Mom. We were taxed out emotionally and other ways too. We said our goodbyes with family and friends and things kind of leveled out. Then the house cleanup began…….(lots of buried emotions, plowing through and just getting it done.) 

Now the house sale. More emotion. More tears at unexpected times. I recorded certain sounds on my phone that I will never hear again which I may keep or not down the road. The sound of the old door locking/unlocking, the funky doorbell that for 40 years has sounded the same, and the closet doors my Dad installed that have been off kilter (also for years). 

But here is what I hear that can never be recorded except in my memory, and there they will stay. The sounds of hundreds of gatherings over the years. The October parties I used to plan with Mom, every backyard Birthday party with all the neighborhood “gaggle” of kids we played with. The fresh pot of coffee that was ever brewing for all kinds of friends and neighbors. Faces I still see so clearly: Mrs. Nystrom next door coming down the steps with a freshly made cake (from scratch of course). Mrs. Day from across the street with a loaf of something healthy and homemade. Ladies gathered around my Mom’s table, all strong women, each with their own heartaches and joys. I can see them, their faces aglow and the walls echoing their laughter. Praying hands in a circle. 

So much love, so much grief, so much life. And now all is stripped bare, devoid of any life but flowing with memory. This little tract home was Mom and Dad’s pride and joy. It was the model home of the neighborhood complete with the ugliest rock wall anyone’s ever seen. My Mom used to curse those rocks because when she vacuumed, they would come loose. When my cousins came to say goodbye to the house, a couple of them wanted to take a pebble from the infamous wall. I told them, “Just get the vacuum out!” 

The funny thing is, they had to find tools to pry them off, almost as if they too, were reluctant to say goodbye. And if those little stones could talk, I’d like to think they would whisper back all those prayers my Mom said for me as we held hands before the fireplace, when going to school was so, so hard for me. 

I know walls, (and stones) can’t talk, but I do think they remember.


First Sunday of Lent

Each evening the sun’s rays hit my Mom’s sheep and birdhouse at exactly the same spot. I never planned it that way, it just happened. Sometimes the cat poses along with the sheep putting himself squarely in the portrait. More than likely he’s only following the last bit of warmth before evening.

This morning I was leafing through my Dad’s Book of Common Prayer. He had written a note over part of the Eucharist seen below:

This made me smile. I know Dad was proud of his Scottish and English heritage. Since I did my DNA a few years back I’ve found that I’m 28% Scottish. I previously thought I was more English.

I read aloud and as I did, I recalled the soft murmur of voices in the chambers of my heart and memory. I remember the sounds in the old St. John’s church when it was on Lee Street in the middle of town. I heard the soft insulated thumps of prayer kneelers going up and back down. Dust motes floating through stained glass light; I heard us saying the words of the Eucharist all at once: 

We lift them to the Lord

It is right to give Him thanks and praise

So many years later it’s as if I’m there. And there are so many other church services down through my youth, Baptist, Methodist, Non-denominational, weekend Church retreats, you name it. My folks were denomination hoppers for a while and now I’m glad they were. Because the common denominator running through them all was tradition, and community. 

More than that, it was Jesus.

I remember faces, voices from the past, too many to count. I thought again how grateful I am to have this rich heritage of Churchgoing. Those memories hold you together in all those in between times in the desert of faith when you’re trying to recapture what you’ve lost. 

What I am sad about is that I am wondering if my generation will be the last to remember the old hymns. I can still chime in with the melodies even if some of the lyrics are lost. I can see the value in churches holding fast to keeping their traditions alive. In a world that is spinning out of control, it’s comforting to know you can attend church and parts of it at least, will still ring true. Still hold to tradition.

The fundamentalist in me misses altar calls. Remember those? The closing music starts up, and the Pastor stands at the front, invitation open. Hopeful hearts pray while eternity waits. Then one courageous individual stands and scoots across knees out of the row and into the aisle. The most dramatic and personal moment in the church for me was that moment. I was fourteen. I grabbed Mom and she went with me.

And the great miracle is that as Christians, we carry this living cathedral wherever we go. Held safely in the shelter of our hearts. A turn of the key, sealed for the day of redemption. As parents, the most invaluable gift we can give our kids is something, or most importantly someone bigger than themselves.

To deal with life’s blows you need this.

In closing, join me in prayer for our war weary tear-stained world. For you, for me, and the Ukrainian people and (no doubt, many Russian people) many of whom are not in favor of what is going on.  

God of the nations, whose sovereign rule brings justice and peace, have mercy on our broken and divided world. Shed abroad Your peace in the hearts of all and banish from them the spirit that makes for war, that all races and peoples may learn to live as members of one family and in obedience to Your law, through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Anglican Church, Diocese of Perth. 

A Pretty Nice Life

It’s been awhile since I posted anything here in my little corner. So much has been going on. Sometimes it still feels surreal that Mom and Dad are both gone. Elaine says, “You will feel a bit like an orphan,” and she’s right. We had the garage sale and the house is mostly empty. The cousins came and we did a walk through. Shared some memories of 1127 Glenhurst long ago. Of exploding homemade firecrackers and waking up to the screaming engines of the hydro-boat races on Fourth of July mornings at the lake. 

This war that has just been started is hitting me hard. Several times I have cried, prayed over the pictures I see on the news. What is it all for? Maybe it’s because I’m thinking of Grandma and her family coming over on the ship, immigrants from Russia themselves. How bad must it have been to risk that horrific trip across the Atlantic to land on Ellis Island with only hopes and dreams of a better life? 

This morning I feel incredibly lucky. We’ve been living in this small space going on 6 years now. It hasn’t been easy, but we have made it work and made it homey. But we are longing for a real home again. And we are closer now to being there, wherever there is. Real estate is ridiculous in California but there are places to be had up in the foothills. And neighboring states close by are a possibility. 

I think of the Ukrainians on the run, fearing for their lives, their homes. I settle in my cozy spot by the window, with second steaming mug of coffee, reassuring stack of books nearby, within eyesight. This old tub is burdened with books in every storage place. Elaine says its like the long, long trailer only it’s not rocks its books. 

The other day I lifted the storage under the bed and took all 15 or so out. “I’m cleaning books out,” I said. She was hopeful. My measly little stack of four didn’t make a dent, but it was something. “Hey, it’s a start,” I say. 

And it’s another Saturday and the collectors are coming for the throwaway stuff at Mom and Dad’s house today. And today, I will exercise, and thank God for our freedom as my heart aches for those whose lives will never be the same. 

Between Two Worlds

A little trapped between two worlds. That’s what it feels like to me. I know they are in Heaven. I can feel the comfort, the security of that. And it helps greatly to fill the void they left. They died 43 days apart, Dad on August 19 and Mom on October 2. Of course we knew it was coming with both of them being in their 90’s.

As I held Dad’s hand and listened to his labored breathing I was aware again of the immense weight of a soul. It’s the one thing that can only be measured and felt once it is gone. Death is a mystery. One minute there is a living breathing person full of ideas, thoughts, personality, whose DNA you share. The next minute the person they were is one hundred percent gone.

It was a blessing to be there when Dad passed. We almost made it for Mom, but between the time we got the phone call and the time we got in the car enroute, they called again. But we were able to hold her hand when it was still warm and say our final goodbyes. Dad had a wonderful celebration of life and I had a brunch for Mom and many of her dear friends. I could tell they were so very thankful to be able to gather in their home and share stories about Mom. Closure is needed in times like this. As Dolly Parton said in Steel Magnolias, “Laughter through tears in my favorite emotion.” And there were plenty of both.

I have been thinking more about eternity. With so much going on in the past 6 years it’s been all about stifling emotions and just getting through each day. Some things I still can’t unsee. I still remember the panic seeing the ambulance and firetrucks at the house when I rounded the corner. And to see Dad on the bedroom floor bleeding from the head……ever since then we’ve been on autopilot. Dad in the hospital, then navigating the healthcare system over admission into the Carehome. Then Mom with Alzheimer’s suddenly without Dad for the first time in 71 years. 

In the process we got a wonderful caregiver part-time for Mom. Jo was so good for Mom and I gained a friend. Mom’s whole world changed and she spent every day trying to navigate the maze in her mind, and figure out her life in segments of what would happen next. She was so very fearful, but she loved seeing me every day. I made a vow to take her flowers every week so she could enjoy them. We had our Saturday date nights together. I gave her food and wine. Sometimes a martini. And she would fuss when I wanted to sit out in the dark before bed.

After some terrible falls and incidents we checked her in the same Care-home Dad was in and she was able to go see him several times before he passed. She got great care and we were able to breathe a bit. She was able to attend Dad’s Memorial which was a blessing.  Staff and nurses at her facility said after that day,  though, Mom changed. Even with Alzheimer’s I think it really sunk in that Dad was truly gone.

She followed him to Heaven just 43 days later.

And we are catching our breath. Slowly going through the house. I gave each of the ladies a piece of Mom to take home. I wrapped up her figurines and handed them each a bag on their way out. And the other day I remember when Dad and I went to the show and saw an awful movie called “Stanley” about a rattlesnake. Dad hated snakes and I’m not why he took 12 year old me. But now I just think of that day and smile.

O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

— ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:55-57‬‬

Letting Go

It was the night of the Strawberry Moon and I awoke at around two thirty. I sat transfixed in the passenger side of the Motorhome parked here on the California Delta. It was as if God Himself had a Yahtzee cup full of light filled diamonds and thrown them across the water.

On the opposite bank in the distance I could see the red lights of the wind turbines along the Altamont Pass on I-5 blinking out a rhythm as they slowly turn, beyond that, beyond the hills lies the great Pacific Ocean where so many happy times have been spent for so many years now.

As I watched the moon, I also tuned into my latest Netflix addiction, “Manifest.” Soon, I crept back to bed but not before I had a few scoops of artichoke spinach dip with some chips. I fell asleep with the sparkle of God’s diamonds behind my eyes.

It’s been an almost unheard of reading run for me as well. I’m on my fifth good book since summer break. I’ll give the titles in case anyone wants to check them out. The first was “What Comes After” by JoAnne Tomkins, then “Eternal” by Lisa Scottoline, “Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS letter” by Amelia Pang, “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride, and my current read by Eric Metaxas, “Fish Out of Water.” All different, all wonderful.

I am sitting here with a water view out every window. Where else can you do this? We are truly blessed to have this treasure so close. I can hop on the freeway and be home in just about 20 minutes.

I have David Nevue on Alexa and scullers are just now coming by. We’ve seen 3 big freighters going out to sea. Everyone comes out to watch the massive wall of ship go by. We watch for the Tugs. When they go out, you know there’s a big one coming in.

In the normal course of life, we work, check things off to-do lists, stress, stand in lines for prescriptions, groceries, gas…..and we wait, hopefully to get to a little oasis of time where life is suspended just for a little while.

A merciful letting go.

It’s been a very rough year. In addition to the stress of COVID, my Dad entered his own suspended reality in the Convalescent Home the last part of 2020. My Mom is continuing to navigate through the rough waters of Alzheimer’s/Dementia. We watch her trying so desperately to figure out her world and the people in it. She has lost her way, and we spend much of our time trying to help her find it.

In all these things, we know God is here and continues to hold us in the palm of His hand, even as life veers wildly out of control. We grieve…..we wait for the next thing. In between we have moments of Grace.

I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief….For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. Wendell Berry

The river knows the way to the sea: Without a pilot it runs and falls, blessing all lands with its charity. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just Breathe…..

Let there be a place somewhere in which you can breathe naturally, quietly, and not have to take your breath in continuous short gasps. A place where your mind can be idle, and forget it’s concerns, descend into silence, and worship the Father in secret. There can be no contemplation where there is no secret. Thomas Merton, Book of Hours

This book has been a comfort for many years. Though months might pass between the times I open it, the power and beauty in its pages has never dimmed or failed to renew. Merton’s words crack open a place deep in my soul where the Holy Spirit dwells. There is wisdom here that I need to return to again and again. It reminds me of who I am in Christ and the assurance that despite everything we see around us, God is holding it all together. It speaks to me of the dawn of Creation, and how we are all longing for our true home. Everything we reach for in this life hearkens back to our longing for Eden.

Being trapped is a terrible feeling. Can one find happiness in a few measured moments of peace between days that threaten to squeeze the life out of us? Care-taking affects everyone involved, not just the ones doing the caring. That’s the hardest part. Is it enough to say it won’t last forever? And what happens after? What sorrow lies on the other side? Yet I know that the sorrow is part of it all, and the sweetness of the good memories that will replace it. And the going on part will come, that embracing life once again. Finding that path of redemption and freedom we once knew. Plans will once again be made and followed through on. That’s the hope that keeps us going. 

I took Mom to see Dad yesterday. He was facing away from us and I was a little shocked at how he looked. He requested a buzz cut and he got it. He had no hair! It was a good visit for he and Mom. Mom joked about having a boyfriend and Dad laughed. They held hands as we sat by the aviary. 

I thought maybe I would feel sorry for the birds, but it was hard to watch them and not smile. They had a nice home and could fly to and fro. There was a big perch in the middle where they would simultaneously all land on, then promptly vacate as they rocked it back and forth. They were like little grey, brown and yellow comedians as they flitted around. Mom and Dad loved watching them and so did I. They had a good clean home and food and they were safe from predators. And they didn’t seem to know or care that they didn’t have their freedom. 

Maybe I can learn something from them.  They have no clue about time, just one day flowing into the next. But I am never not aware of time, right now what it looks like is a huge clock with legs. And it’s coming for me.

The other day I gave myself a day of freedom and I didn’t call anyone, didn’t go see anyone. I….just….came…..home. I felt like my old self again. Elaine and I went for a ride and laughed at everything and nothing.

Oh how I miss that.

God’s Creation

No matter how small….

You can see by the nails how small this was. I don’t even know how I saw it one cool October morning. Whenever you think you are insignificant in the scheme of things, remember this little creature. God created it and you. What kind of mind could make an almost microscopic living thing have the ability to weave a web like this?

I am a person who really doesn’t like spiders. I used to wake in the middle of the night and flip the lights on just to make sure none were lurking around. If they were I would wake the whole house by sucking them up in the vacuum. Now when I find these teeny ones, I take them outside and find them a safe place. They deserve it and all the more so you.

Make God your safe place. He will never leave you or forsake you. He is the God who sees……El Roi.