a bird in the hand…



when words fail – among other things

I started this year out all excited to begin writing again. Something I hadn’t done with regularity in a considerable time. The new year brought with it positive changes to turn the tide of over three years of personal and financial drama.

As I have written before, I am so very grateful to God for all the blessings that I have received in my own life. In my own life perhaps with the exception of being single, there is much contentment.  What continues to distress me more and more palpably almost with each passing day is what is going on in the life of this nation. I realize it’s still one of the best places you can live on the planet, but it’s not as excellent as it used to be.

I realize, the US is not my home. I am a citizen of the kingdom of God. It is, however, my campground. As such, I want it to be safe, just, clean, healthful, bountiful, peaceful, and orderly for starters. Not only does it seem to myself and other like minded folk it is becoming less so. It seems there is a quickening of the loss of such qualities.

The quickening also seems to be getting quicker. As an American, I find this distressing. I still hold out some hope, but my hope is currently in need of an IV and some B12 shots right now. The first through fourth estates seem to either be sleeping on the job,  completely incompetent, or perhaps in some cases – unimaginably sinister.

The Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and BIll of Rights; the things which set what is good about this nation apart, seem to be not much more highly esteemed than toilet paper. If that is not so, how could the Patriot Act and NDAA – among others -even be penned let alone considered?  How could the “too big to fail” fiasco happen? Congress and the Executive branch give reasons why unread ginormous expedient bills must be passed. Expediency has surpassed efficiency.

The culture seems to be going drive thru from top to bottom. From fast food, to ADD and ADHD, uncommitted relationships, law makers passing voluminous laws they can’t take the time to read, and paltry pills replacing wholeness and prevention. A culture of stress and hurry. Debt and worry.

The image of what is to come troubles the American part of me. The image I get is one from The Lord of the Rings: when the people of Gondor are in their fortress waiting to make their last stand against the forces of Mordor. They are looking out at seemingly innumerable enemy troops and the blackness rolls in over head. And the sound of the overwhelming army makes it even more terrifying. And with this picture the title of a book and movie ring simultaneously in the back of my mind: Something Wicked This Way Comes.

I don’t know what to say. Feel like I don’t have much original to say. Minds more brilliant and pens more sharp and eloquent have broached these subjects time and time again. So, why continue? Why weigh in or contribute? Maybe for the same reason soldiers continue to fight. For the guy (or girl) next to you. Speaking the truth to one another builds up. So much onslaught of the scary and negative all day long. Twenty four hours a day of not news networks spewing fear and drama. Truth and righteousness need to be heard from too.

And for another reason. To stand for what is right. Because it’s right. No matter what the odds are. Like the warriors of Gondor staring at endless oncoming waves of orcs. Like many similar worthy armies in history that have fought the good fight and won. Or died with honor fighting for what is right.

When I get really bummed. My mind, heart and spirit take instruction and solace in many stories in the Old Testament where this very scenario is played out. Fearful, scared, out numbered, outgunned good guys go to God. Acknowledge their shortcomings and fears. Acknowledge His omnipotence and wisdom. And go on to change history – if only for a time.

My American eyes see dimly now as through a glass. I am asking God to help me see this situation with His eyes. The way Elisha’s servant saw the reality of the seemingly hopeless circumstances when Elisha asked God to open his servant’s eyes in  2 Kings 6:

    15Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORDopened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

For those interested, a bonus. This song makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. When I first heard it I knew nothing of the video or the vocalist. I imagined God singing it over me and it reminded me of this passage:

My heavenly eyes see more dimly now than I would like to admit. Lord, please help me to see with your eyes. That those who are with us are more than those who are with them. (No matter what the temporal outcome.) That the truth needs to be told even if there is nothing new under the sun.

Lord, help me give voice to Your glory and Your agenda: love, freedom, fearlessness, justice, truth, faithfulness. No matter what may come.

firm, flaccid, fertile, fixated?

Yesterday the post was on blessing. Today it’s about a pondering question. There is still something about live radio that captures my attention. Chronically guilty of channel surfing even when my iPod is plugged into the groovy after market car stereo.

Is it just me, or is there an over abundance of ED, PE, and similar commercials aimed at the men out there?  Is this just some sort of demographic fluke, high return on investment dollars, or is America really having that much trouble getting up and staying there?- so to speak.  What of all those “little blue pills” out there? Aren’t they helping?

Hyperbole, to be sure, but some days it seems that such ad’s make up fifty percent of the advertising content or more. At this point it’s not a concern relative to anyone in my life and nowhere near the top of my reading list. But, maybe one day when I just wanna lay around and read I’ll pay it the attention it deserves – as gauged by commercial coverage. Until then I’ll just wonder, but wonder if I’m the only one wondering.

There is one herb some use to help with such conditions. The name alone is so blatant, that I’ve been tempted to buy a bottle and put it in my medicine cabinet just to make me smile every time I open it to get my tooth-brush out:  Horny Goat Weed.  Alas, no man to try it on! But, if the pondering does nothing for you, maybe having such a bottle in your cabinet to make you smile will have made the read worth while.

unexpected orange card blessing

Ran errands today after work. Wanted to get a few odds and ends for the straw bale garden experiment, and some ammo for a long overdue trip to the range – among other things. I had a Home Depot gift card that I keep forgetting to use and hoped to use if they had what I needed.

At my last job, a regular customer found out it was my last shift. He went to put his purchases in the car and returned to wish me the best and gave me said gift card. I graciously accepted and kind of forgot about it. No mention as to the value so I assumed it would be about $5 or $10 dollars.

Today, when I went to price soaker hoses and a new split head spigot for the outdoor faucet, I remembered the gift card. I asked an employee if she could check the value. It was $50! Wow! Thank you, Lord! (I hope he didn’t give me the wrong gift card by mistake. He’s a working class person like yours truly. I also don’t have any contact information to thank him for the gift.)

What a truly unexpected bonus blessing. I got out of the store for a lot less than anticipated with beautiful “Made in the USA” soaker hoses.  Didn’t know there was anything made here anymore besides Sharpie highlighters and some hamburgers. Love it when stuff like that happens. Thank you, Lord, bless A—–.  Maybe I can run into him and do him a favor. Now, if I could just find some ammo when I go to the store!

too pee, or not too pee? (themes, gardening, and human dignity)


Ever noticed how a day or group of days seem to have an unofficial theme?

This last week, tragically, had an explosive theme: physical explosions in Boston and West, Texas. Verbal accusatory explosions of a sort: folks blaming other folks they suspected would do such a thing.  Explosive banter back and forth in established media and social media as progressive types blamed conservative types.

Then volleys fired back (pun possibly intended) as conservative types pointed out the hypocrisy in blaming them. Social media ignited and blew on the topic of the failure of the professional media to get the real story right and on and on ad nausuem. (Hey, how ’bout that FBI denial that only turned into an admission after the suspects’ mom called ’em out in a Russian publication?)

And now that facts begin to trickle down (truly unintended pun), it seems the crickets sing deafening loud in sectors where there should be apologies, admissions, and investigations resulting in terminations and resignations.

Correct me if I am wrong, but haven’t we been down this road before?  Suspects with certain lowest common denominator demographics we see over and over in terrorist events. Issues that could have led to deportation. Federal intelligence advised in advance of possible terrorist leanings with a subject. High level Fed intelligence culture drops the ball. Now there are deaths, dismemberments, destruction, injuries of all kinds, and enough PTSD to send Eli Lily stock soaring for years to come. But I digress. Guess I had to get something out because everything I started to knead on this in the last week did not turn out to my satisfaction.

Back to the subject at hand. Subject du jour turned out to be pee. Yes, humble yellow urine. It started late last night (actually this morning) when I was reading about prepping a straw bale garden. You plant a garden in and on straw bales, but first you get them composting inside. Most sites I looked at advise just watering the bales days one through three.

For days four through six to nine or so, the consensus is to water and add things that are high in nitrogen to get that internal process and heat going strong. Conventional methods of late turned to ammonium nitrate. Since I lean in favor of natural and organic and don’t want the Feds to think I am doing funky things with a pressure cooker in my kitchen – that doesn’t really jive with me. Apparently in some places there is no issue with purchasing it,  but in others it raises a flag.

I lean toward the fish emulsion, blood meal, bone meal, and alfalfa meal direction. Since fish emulsion is usually from wild fish – or at least was when I bought it in the past – that is my front runner. (What’s that smell?) Something I saw mentioned in passing  was the use of …are you ready for this? Human urine. I thought it was interesting and rolled over and went to sleep.

Today, went to visit my almost ninety-nine and a half year old adopted gramma as it was her last day at convalescent rehab and I was not sure if I’d be able to see her for a while when they moved her to the new, as yet, undisclosed location. She’d been very apprehensive about it. Her secretive immediate family doesn’t tell any of her friends or extended family anything with ease.

Had discovered today was the day. Didn’t know the time. Wanted to see if I might garner favor from someone and learn her destination if I showed up on the big day. Also wanted to spend time with her, and make sure she got to watch Sunday Mass at  9:00 am on channel 12 as she is prone to forgetting the day, time, and channel and it means so much to her.

Luna (the awesome black and white dog) and I showed up with lattes at 8:00 a.m. to find her curled in a fetal position and pretty despondent over the whole deal. She sat up to extend her arms for a hug and patted the bed for Luna to hop up and began spewing a torrent of worries. I sat down and took her hand. I didn’t explain anything away but did my best to just listen and try to help her see the good in it.

A woman of great humor and intelligence and capability the vast majority of her near century of life. Still of humor and intelligence, just a little impaired by her body ever so slowly gearing up for the eventual exit of her soul and spirit.

Because she was a private care nurse for people in her circumstances, she knows what’s happening all too well. Even in moments when her mind gets stuck in a deep rut and keeps repeating the same thing over and over. And the extreme pain of the realization that her hopes her family would take a more active interest in her condition and care are less than realized.

This lovely woman who moved in circles among the powerful and famous in decades past has become something of a waif – as those who have the legal right to make decisions over her person and resources, for whatever reason, don’t seem to understand how or have the time  to love and be around a person whose body and mind are waning. I don’t think their motives are sinister, but regardless the results are.

While adjusting some stuff on the bed, I noticed she had taken off her diaper and thrown it under the bed. She does have bladder control issues, but she also has dignity. If the aids were able to get to her quickly enough to get her to the restroom, it wouldn’t be a big issue. But, she waits too long, they can’t always come right away, and sometimes a male shows up – which is anathema to her  sense of modesty. And, she can still change her own diapers if they would just give them to her. She can walk with a walker but her broken tibia is still causing some pain and apparently legal policy makes it necessary for her to be assisted from a wheelchair due to her condition. After all, a fall is what got her there in the first place.

Several times during our visit, Gramma expressed her dismay at not being in control of her life anymore. What does one do in those Job moments? The most important thing is to listen, hug, hold a hand, and sometimes, point out what remains of the good and the possibility that there is more of it in the future.

On the prior visit, she expressed “I have run my race. I am done. Why won’t God just let me go home?”

“I know, Gramma. I know. He just keeps movin’ the finish line on you, eh?”

She got a good long belly laugh out of that.

“I wish I knew. Seems like He’s just dangling that carrot just in front of you to keep you moving. There’s a reason you’re still here.”

I hugged and held her tightly, and she reciprocated.

“I LOVE you!” she said. Such a verbal proclaimation is not a common thing from her. Something extra deep was stirring.

Oh, to know God’s purposes and His plans in the difficult things.

By the time I had to leave today, one of my prayers was answered. I was told where she would be going. It was requested I and other friends not visit for a few days so she will be encouraged to focus on settling in. Not sure I agree completely with the logic, but I wanna keep doors open to seeing more of her in the future and will go along.

Upon returning home from a wedding shower, I sat down to take a break and do a little more research into human urine and gardening. Apparently in nations like Nepal, India, and Sweden research is progressing into this cost effective, and green (but yellow) resource.

Check this out:

Cabbages twice the size? Maybe urine mixes better with the soil in Nepal. Or, maybe humans are more natural and have better urine? Who knows? The prospect makes consideration of an experiment in this urina (excuse me, arena) very tempting. Not just for the cost, but for the environmentally friendly aspect. Living in So Cal, it is only getting more imperative our water is not wasted. Saving flushes saves water. And urine is nearly sterile. It’s not smelly and bacteria ridden like human feces.

When I was a child, the water gurus had a program for school children with “Ricky the Raindrop” as its mascot. Part of the program was for us to draw little posters and come up with slogans and plans to  encourage water efficiency. I am no liquid saving saint, but I do what I can. (Out of guilt to make up for the occasional luxurious long hot shower.) And, water gurus rejoice, on long road trips, my mind sometimes goes back to that day and I try to come up with new ideas.

My favorite to date was “Pee Times Three.” The idea being that if all you did was urinate you didn’t have to flush every time. Aren’t we all mature enough to deal with that? Uh, don’t answer that. Obviously, it would primarily be for in home use with immediate family and roommates – unless you were willing to take it to the next level.

I’ll bet I’ve saved at least enough water to fill an Olympic sized pool three times – by myself. You see, I imbibe copiously water, herbal and traditional teas, coffee, and freshly juiced fruits and vegetables. As a result… well, you get the picture… lots of a potential resource. Recycling, saving water, and helping my garden is tempting. Especially as it’s free and I know mine is pretty close to USDA certified organic: no drugs, hormones, antibiotics, MSG, artificial sweetners, hydrogenated oils, etc.

And this is where it comes full circle. Glad the explosive theme is over with for the time being. Sad that the pee theme presents issues for Gramma, glad that it is working wonderfully in other places, considering how it may work in my little microcosm and beyond.

In all of it is interwoven things that are often mysterious and incomprehensible to us in the here in now. For some at any given place in time, it seems dark and hopeless. For others ecstatic and glorious. And there is a universe of states in between. In all of of it there is God. He is working to see that His will and His love is accomplished in our world and our microcosms. I want to work with Him as a more faithful steward of His creation, and as an agent to clothe those who feel stripped of their human dignity with His love- and mine.