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.

Renewed Hope


I had a dream once when I was living away from here. I’ve remembered it all these years later. I’m standing on a snow covered road and Mom is trying to walk to me but she is afraid and I can’t help her. I never forgot that feeling of trying to save her, and I have the same feeling now. I feel helpless that I can’t rescue her from Alzheimer’s and her own mind. My overwhelming thought so many times throughout the day is “my Mom needs me.” 

I can’t fix her lostness right now. All I can do is remind her of who she still is. And help her remember. She spends most of her days trying to piece things together, gathering the threads of her life that have become unraveled. I do my best to field the questions, “Why am I like this?” “What’s going to happen today?” “When is Dad coming home?” “Why do I always have to leave my home?” “Did I take my pills?” 

All day long, we try to reassure her that things aren’t as broken as they seem, but she knows the truth. 

After I wrote this the other day I realized how depressing it was and I didn’t even want to share it. But then, like a thunderclap in my mind, God reminded me of my life. My wonderFul and precious life. Of everything He has helped me through all these 61 years. And the words held tremendous power: 

“But God…….” 

When added to the end of every juncture in my life, however painful or sad, it’s the blazing hope that stands out. Like a bas relief carving, the pain fades into the background as the image stands out. But God……

He has come through so many times I know I have lost count. 

I can’t write a happy ending for Mom or anyone else for that matter. We each have to decide to do that for ourselves. I can do what I can to make Mom’s transition easier but I can’t lose myself in the process. And I feel like I am lost right now. In the thick it. 

But God….God has already written us all a happy ending, and His name is Jesus. It’s what we’ll celebrate in two weeks that has made that possible. If I had to be truthful right now I haven’t felt like Holy Week is coming, we’ve all just been trying to stay afloat. 

I miss my life. I miss my best friend. I miss God even though I know He’s never left me. I thank Him for every grain of peace I can snatch up. I thank my best friend in the world for sticking this whole thing out. The only reward she is getting in all this is hours spent alone. I miss our drives, our weekend trips. I miss just driving across town and finding 10 things to laugh about. 

But God says……”For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Cor. 4:17

I am not healthy, I exercise but still put on weight. When did my body decide to betray me? In shock I saw my reflection sitting on the toilet (from the closet door) and I wonder when my profile from chin to neck changed so drastically? And the stress is always there just under the surface. I find myself gulping food like I’m in a race and I don’t realize how shallow I’m breathing until I pause to take a deep breath. I live with an hourglass in my head, and the sand is always draining away.  

But God….”My health may fail, and my spirit grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” Psalm 73:26

I am already grieving the loss of my childhood home. It’s a comfort to go there because I feel like it’s already drifting away. When my Grandma’s house was left empty after she went into the care-home it was devastating. I remember walking across town, letting myself in with my key and walking from room to room while others were out living life, I felt like part of mine stopped.

At that time I was in the throes of Anorexia. I couldn’t stop walking, I measured every ounce of food, and I wanted to disappear. I could’ve easily died. But the prayers of my Mom and Dad and many others I’m sure brought me out of that pit. 

But God….”Brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay. He set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand.” 

God healed me. I awoke from a dream and it was as if a spell was broken and I began to eat. I began to fight for my life, and God and I won. And I can’t even explain everything else I went through after that. God brought me through it all. How can I keep from having hope in this instance too? 

And I worry about the cats at the house. Abby and I have made a truce. I think she finally realizes I am someone she can trust after 10 years. And George is used to being fed and coming in sleeping on the furniture. What will happen to them when the house is sold? 

But God……remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” And…..”Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” Matthew 10:29-31

Friends, when I started this post a few days ago, I felt a lot of things, sadness, depression, hopelessness. But God turned it around even in the midst of it. He is the hope-bringer and He has assured me that all will be well. We will get through this. 

Thanks be to God, for today this message comes with renewed hope: 

” But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead in our trespasses , made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved.” 

Cat Chronicles: Enter Sydney

In my last post, Briggs had entered our home. Though the loss of Buster and Rocky was still keenly felt, the antics of a comical little kitten worked like a balm to heal both of our hearts. But it was time to find him a playmate. I scoured the internet and found a woman who needed to find homes for the feral kittens she had rescued.  We made an appointment to go see them. They had all just recovered from been spayed and neutered.

The owners cats were curiously watching us from the stairs as proceeded to the “kitten rooms.” The girls were in one room and the boys in the other. We were there two hours, going from one room to another. Buster was a talky fellow so I was looking for one with the same qualities. Among the males were Tony, a solid light orange, and Frankie, a flame point Siamese mix, and his brother who could have been a twin, Sammy. It was so hard to choose, but in the end Sammy was the one who stole my heart. His fur was as soft as a bunny and his eyes a brilliant blue, and a little bit crossed at times. He kept coming up to me wanting to play. I fell in love.

Sammy became Sydney and we couldn’t wait to get him home to introduce him to his new brother. We still have a picture of Sydney in his carrier and Briggs peering in at him. If he could have talked I’m sure he would have said, “C’mon open up already, I’m ready to play!”

I think there was one hiss and that was all. Sydney was used to being around lots of cats and he was undaunted. And Briggs was so happy to have a playmate he didn’t know what to do. He played so hard he literally panted like a dog. Several times we had to rescue poor Sydney by removing Briggs from the scene so Syd could recover. Sydney was a scrapper though. He got his digs in as well.

And so our little family was complete again. Briggs was even-tempered around people and loved everyone just like Rocky and Sydney just wanted me. He was bottle fed so he was used to human handling and actually preferred that to anything else. It was like my prayers were answered. My niece had been born around that time and I was missing her terribly. I was 12 hours away by car and an hour and 45 minutes by plane and I needed my arms filled.

Sydney became my baby. He was totally content to lay upside down in my arms for hours. The Siamese came out in his meow which sounded very much like an infant crying. People would hear him in the background and often ask if there was a baby in the house.

It was as if God had answered my prayer by filling my arms and heal my heart that was missing our Lauryn, the first ever baby in our family.


Cat Chronicles, Buster (then)

After his initial dusting with flea powder, we decided it would be best to give both cats a flea bath. Rocky was first. Gentle giant that he was, he turned into a cougar when wet and it took us both to keep him from lunging out of the sink like a large furry banana. When he was done it was poor Buster’s turn. He was so small and so stressed that when it was all over, he collapsed. Horrified, we thought we had killed him. That was the last bath they ever got.

Turns out Buster was part dog (he growled, and fetched). He also had a penchant for opening drawers and retrieving underwear which he scattered different places for us to find. The front door had a window you could see through and several times people must’ve thought there’d been a break in when they saw clothes strewn up and down the stairs.

We also found out he didn’t like whistling, not one bit. I started whistling to the Seven Dwarfs tune watching an advertisement one night and he leapt from where he was on the living room floor, and headed straight for my face the source of the infernal sound. 

When he was a kitten, he tormented poor Rocky endlessly. He jumped on his back, and clung to his tail and ambushed him every chance he got. Every now and then Rocky would have had too much and just held him down with one giant paw as if to say, “Okay now sonny, I’m still boss here.” But it was obvious they loved each other.

Buster also liked cookies and would try to bat them out of my hand before they got to my mouth. Rocky and Buster went through several out of state moves together which they handled like pros. They observed all through bright curious eyes, except the time we encountered a violent downpour crossing the desert and both of them dove to the back under the blankets. Buster was thrilled with the Arizona house with its wooden banisters two stories up. He scared us to death by sailing through the air and landing on the skinny railing, part cat, part monkey.

The next move to New Mexico was also just fine as long as we were all together, except for our stop in Gallup. Buster went mad and wouldn’t stop yowling and we couldn’t figure out why. Later we found out that there was a frequency there that humans couldn’t hear.

After our two years at Intel Corp. in Rio Rancho, NM we both put in for a transfer. We longed to move closer to California so we transferred back to Arizona. 1 hour and 45 for a flight, and 12 hour drive is do-able.

Our temporary stay for the first weeks there was a local business hotel with many rooms and a homey atmosphere right in the center of Chandler. There was a Great Pyrenees dog show nearby and they were all lodged at the same hotel. Buster and Rocky just took it in stride. They never had potty accidents there or any other place. 

In fact, the only bathroom incident Rocky ever had turned out not to be. While we were still in California, my Mom had kicked off her Birkenstocks and Rocky decided there was a smell on her shoes he liked so much he had to mark it. While we all looked on horrified, he filled up the entire shoe. We determined he was exactly a size eight bladder.

Arizona was our home again from 1998-2016. After renting for awhile we put an offer on a nice house on a corner lot. We built a huge fire pit in the backyard which Rocky loved. Happy times were spent there. But those times also were tainted with sadness. Rocky and Buster were getting along in years.

Now: We have spent almost 5 years living here at my Aunt’s property in a Motorhome and four and a half months without a cat family member. (Since 9/28/2020) when we put Briggs down. There are cats around, the two Weigumina’s and George at my folks. But we miss the patter of feet. The constant presence, the expectant looks, the furry body in the lap, and the purrs. It’s amazing how one small cat can fill up a space in a home and a heart.

“Animals are proof God loves us”