New twists to old tales . . .

I love it when librarians stumble across new twists to old tales. Atlas Obscura invited me down the Arthur and Merlin rabbit hole this morning, and I delightedly dove in. I might have to climb out choking on the cost of the tome promising to reveal all the secrets of the manuscript fragments but perhaps my local or state library can help.

Growing up, I devoured Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy, revisiting it on at least an annual basis. Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series were revisited on an annual basis, and then read to my young son, as well. I discovered Patricia Keneally in college (she tacked Morrison on later) and her Tales of Aeron, Tales of Arthur and the Keltiad Books followed me along through young adult years. There was just something so very appealing with the notion of my ancestors fleeing Christianity and heading out into space — from whence they came, mind you!

As a young mother, I discovered Avalon: The Return of King Arthur by Stephen R. Lawhead. Truthfully, his Pendragon Cycle did nothing for me, but this version — this modern, gripping version of Arthur’s return shepherded by a seemingly ageless Merlin — pleased me greatly. (I’m still waiting for a sequel, Mr. Lawhead . . . pretty please — a returned King Arthur would certainly have his work cut out for him in today’s world.)

King Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere and the knights of the round table lend themselves to so many movies, some pretty “mehhh”, some intriguing and some are downright hilarious — it’s just a flesh wound, right?

Some are more thematic than “true to the myth” — but perhaps all the more poignant for that. Robin Williams’ search for peace and Jeff Bridges’ search for redemption in The Fisher King come together in a gripping search for the Holy Grail itself. I don’t care what Roger Ebert said — I loved it.

Fisher King in an illustration for a 1330 manuscript of Perceval, the Story of the Grail.

And of course, what about the classic children’s Disney feature length cartoon, The Sword in the Stone? MovieFone staff provide nine reasons why this cartoon is the definitive King Arthur movie. Check out reasons 5 & 6 — my personal favorites. You?

Stories that stand the test of time are treasures. Show you care and remember to share with friends and family. We need all the inspiration, hope and laughs we can get these days. Peace and health to all.

What’s bacon got to do with it, anyway?

I’m still disgruntled at the 1970’s notion that I should “bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan” and never let “my man” forget he’s a man.
I didn’t remember quite how disgruntled until I read Jennifer Petriglieri’s article “What I Learned About Equal Partnership By Studying Dual-Income Couples” in The Atlantic (October 13, 2019) which stirred up the ole’ memory banks.

Let me start by reflecting on what was missing from that 1970’s advertising jingle and the picture it painted (along with so many other societal messages) for us GenX girls. Missing activities like setting the table, serving the bacon, scrubbing the frying pan, helping the kiddos with homework, making the cupcakes for the school party, getting them to Little League games and music lessons, bathed and to bed on time. All so hubby could have his cuddle with wifey-poo, who — rather than being exhausted by all these activities — was titillated by them and eager to please.

Balance was clearly a foreign concept at the time.
The message was clear. We could have it all as long as we were willing to do it all. This is not just subtext. I well remember a placard hanging on my grandmother’s kitchen wall about the importance of a woman being a servant to family, a saint in the community, and a whore in bed. I paraphrase — but not by much.

My child’s sense of justice was puzzled by the notion that to be good and worthy, a woman must also be bad. In my rebellious late teens and young twenties, I reveled in the supposed freedom of it. When it came time to raise a family, I resented it. At least as much as women before me seemed to resent my pointing out that the boat was somehow missed in creating equal opportunity for both women and men. 
But, it’s good to have a dream, something to fight for, right? What I hope for upcoming generations is that they can find the support and encouragement to really take the bull by the horms and live into the 50/50 marriage described by Ms. Petriglieri.

In her words, such a marriage is about more than splitting the housework equally. It is a “social revolution that starts at home, with both partners making commitments—and a plan—to challenge society’s endless pulls.”

And if that’s not worth fighing for, I don’t know what is . . . 

survival surprise

Sometimes, we find unexpected treasures trudging along paths that look barren from a distance. When we take those first steps and keep our eyes open along the way, there’s no telling what surprise will greet us. Such was the case hiking the Rattlesnake Slope Wildlife Area outside of Benton City, WA this weekend. Finding a single balsam root flower along the trail was an unexpected gift and reminder of how life survives even in the harshest of conditions. By next spring, we should see a profusion of these flowers covering the desert floor in new life. This is just one of the reasons I love hiking: it brings back to me the power and truth to be found in the wisdom of our ancestors.


I’ll change “cling” to “clung” when all children are reunited with their parents. Taking a cruise through the news outlets leaves me with some trepidation that this will ever be fully accomplished, never mind meeting the court-ordered deadlines. For instance:
Donald Trump has no answers for the border crisis. And things are about to get worse.
CNN Friday July 6, CNN reports that at least 2000 children are still separated from their parents. And since the President’s executive order doesn’t override a 1990’s Supreme Court decision regarding length of time children can be held in immigration detention facilities, family separations could start happening again in the next few days.
For Trump Supporters, the End of Unlawful Immigration Justifies ‘Zero Tolerance’s’ Means
A key thing I remember growing up was my father’s absolute moral certainty that the ends never justified the means. In the black and white days of my childhood, that made a certain amount of sense. In the mishmash of today’s world, however, it can be tempting to find a lever, or a change agent — something, anything, that will make the political and civic system function again.
Trump Administration in Chaotic Scramble to Reunify Migrant Families
I work for state government. There’s no excuse for missing records. Everything civil servants do is a matter of public record and disclosable by law with few exceptions. All this shows is a purposeful and appalling lack of documentation, and apparently, the deliberate destruction of records and identifying information.
Immigrant Children Under 5 Will Be Returned to Parents by Next Week, U.S. Official Says 
The item that pops out from this article is the sentence in which Secretary Azar states that “the Department of Homeland Security didn’t tell the refugee agency which children were taken from parents and which came over the border unaccompanied. The agency is now reviewing the cases of all 11,800 children in its custody to determine whether they were separated from caregivers.”
When will separated families be reunited?
Indeed. When?

52 Weeks: Art Journal Project (learn more here:



Week 1

When comes the soul-loosening breath?

Freedom’s flight — landing where I may?

Sans trust, life requires labor, a spreading of wings

Before entering the dream

Of up, up, and away . . .

S.Blood 1.19.14

Week 2

With gratitude to J.R.R. Tolkien and Pippin’s performance in The Two Towers 

let the journey begin . . . 

Week 3 — Guess Who Makes Me Smile?

Week 4 — Character comes from . . . 

Find your grey. Live there. Be happy.

    There’s a difference between failing at something and being broken. Failing just means you try again; or not, depending on what you have learned from the failure. Broken means something else entirely. There is a hole that needs to be filled, or a chasm that needs to be bridged, a fence mended, a mountain leveled or a stream bed cleared.
      Broken means inward attention. Something needs to stem the bleeding, or open a window to let in some fresh air and sunshine.
     Broken means a hell of a lot more work, frankly.
     Starting with first realizing that there was a break to begin with. So many people can’t see clearly enough the chips or cracks in their own personal vessels. They’re quick enough to point out the flaws in other people’s vessels.
      It’s a tricky thing, this clearing of the sight long enough to see what the breakage in self might be. Linger too long, and your vision narrows. The outer world fades away, and you are caught in blackened rooms, the smoldering wreckage of self-pity. Poor me! you cry out – the world is so unfair.
     That narrowed focus remains only on you and sadly makes the fixing practically impossible. Remember! While a break is rarely the doing of a single entity, the fixing of the break frequently stays entirely in your own hands, regardless of who helped create the crack or the chip.
     If you are tired of your spirit seeping out through the cracks and chips, of the trapdoor opening again and again, plunging you repeatedly down to experiences you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, then you need to keep the vision wide. See the whole picture. You are just a piece of a bigger puzzle – no matter how big your vessel feels to you.
     At best, the realization of broken places allows you to step back, take stock, look ahead and heal. At worst, you stay stuck.
     Sticking is not a place many  want to be. Most folks want to move ahead. Most folks realize that the cracks, the chips, the flaws in their vessel are part and parcel of their individual natures. If we were all perfect glazed porcelain what a boring world it would be . . . and here’s the thing about boring.
     You might think boring means safe, but it so rarely does . . . mostly it means there is a place for wickedness to come in and make mischief. To relieve the boredom.
     People are a mad lot. They need a challenge, a quest, a goal. Something to strive for, to aim at, to attain. If there isn’t something readily accessible, they create one.
     But their creation stories tend to leave something to be desired. Their stories are slanted towards too much filth, cowardice and despair – or towards too much glory, pure intentions, and wholesomeness.
     Where is the balance between light and dark? Good and evil? Joy and despair? Where are the shades in between white and black? And who does not hold those shades in his or her individual hands?
     Find your grey. Live there. Be happy.


Chores, limits, and clear expectations for behavior give children the chance to practice valuable skills and grow into competent, responsible adults who know that they are worthwhile and valuable.

Children that do not get these chances build internal messages of worthlessness and uselessness.

When parents stand firm on chores, limits, and behaviors, there can be conflict. All parents and children experience conflict to some degree – it’s natural.

What it means is that the parent loves the child enough to sit with the short-term discomfort of conflict for the positive long-term result:
a child growing into a competent, responsible, happy adult.

Some Things That Are Valued and Adhered To In This Home

Doing chores teaches life skills, work ethics, and time-management. It gives people a sense of usefulness, belonging, and importance.

Being truthful about what you think, feel, do, or plan to do is critical to happy, healthy relationships.

Doing what you say you will do – following through – helps people trust each other and succeed in meeting goals and reaching dreams.

Learning is life-long. Graduating from high school and continuing on to the Peace Corps, trade school, college, or military is also key in meeting goals.

Being a part of a faith community gives lots of chances to practice skills, build relationships, and form internal beliefs about how we fit in this world.

Community Service
Caring for the people and places that form the community we live in help us feel connected and follow through on what is important to us by making a difference.

Advent Meditation Assignment for Church

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians  4:4-7

I am not easy with the word gentleness. Gentle people are often run over by those less gentle. However, I delight in gently nurturing babies. They have simple needs and wants. Gently nurturing babies is safe. Gently nurturing adults is frequently tricky, sticky, messy, and can feel rather unsafe. Babies reflect back only what they see in the eyes of the nurturer. As adults, we have learned to hide our inner core. We tend to show only what will get our needs or wants met with the least resistance.

In looking at other biblical translations of gentleness, I found many words: moderation, reasonableness, kindness, forbearance, and in the Greek, leniency. Interestingly, the Greek translation also uses the word garrisoning rather than guard in the final sentence of the verse. Those two words grabbed hold, saying, “Pay attention!” They challenged me to rethink the verse’s possible meanings.

I don’t think I am so very different from my Christ-siblings. I think we all tend to protect our inner cores out of fear of the unknown or from past experience. When we do that, we often hold at arm’s length with words or actions our equally frightened sisters and brothers. We stay separate from each other. While we defend our tender places, we focus inward. We are not gently attentive to each other in ways that are forbearing or kind. And we have little understanding that the sister or brother across from us is working just as hard as we are to care for her or his tender place as well.

Perhaps, this passage calls us to be a bit more “lenient” with each other’s fears and evasions, as we learn to live in community – with our families, our friends, our coworkers, and our church family. Perhaps it also reminds us to rely more on God to “garrison” those parts of us that really do need protecting. Perhaps practicing these two ideas — leniency and God-garrisoning – could move us worriers and fear-filled Christ-siblings more firmly into that peace which passes all understanding.

So, I think I’ll sit with the idea that God will garrison whatever tender part I believe I need protected, if I just ask with thankfulness — and try to give my brothers and sisters in Christ a bit more leeway to be fully human, too.

Mother-God, you hold us close to your breast and wrap your angel wings tight around us no matter how old we grow. Help us to honestly share the peace and love you so freely give to us with each other, through a kind word, a gentle touch, a listening ear, a helping hand or a hug. Amen.

Capture the Rainbow


Do you suppose he’s looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Or thinking about something much more esoteric?

At 15 1/2, he’s a constant wonder to me.

On the one hand, a mystery. On the other, he shares more about what he’s thinking and feeling than he has in a long time.

I imagine him standing in his life rather like he is in this picture: poised on the brink of launching into his adult world. There’s still some room in his pack for a few more tools, words of love and advice from mom and dad — but he’s filling his pack on his own merits more and more now.

Words can’t describe how proud I am of his growth, of the person he is now, and the person he is growing into — still a miracle, still a blessing, still a rascal, still a challenge, still my baby — no matter how grown.

Where Beauty Grows

Rock gardens are fascinating — particularly wild rock gardens.

The discovery of vivid color and delicate scents within rocky creches pleases me no-end on day hikes.

This treasure was found as Nathan and I scrambled up the Comet Falls trail in Mt. Rainier in early August. He was practicing for his upcoming big hike, and like a billy goat bounded up and over rocks despite the twenty pounds or so on his back, returning every so often to help his slower-going mother over a particularly big stepping stone.

And patiently waiting for me to “oooh” and “ahhh” and otherwise exclaim over and admire the unfolding beauty of this glorious world we live in.

Hopefully, he hasn’t caught on yet to how some of that admiration is built-in R&R time . . . *grin*

Keeping up with the young man on the trail is getting tough!

But, ohhh — so worth it!

Letting go. Yeah, whatever.

My son has left for three days of wilderness backpacking and hiking with an inter-generational church group. This makes me, shall we say, slightly anxious.

Let me clarify.

The people don’t make me anxious. They are individually and collectively wonderful, and Nathan has known near all of ’em for most of his life, some more than others. They are skilled professionals, with lots of experience and years hiking. My son doing this without either Greg or me being there is what makes me anxious.

I’m not sure this degree of anxiety was a parenting requirement. No matter how excited the kid is by his getting to do this. Nor how disappointed he might have been if I had said, “Sorry, m’boyo — you just have to wait until next year when dad can go, too. Mom can’t handle the worry.”

Letting go is clearly not one of my strengths. Greg and I will meet him at the end of the trail in Holden Village on Tuesday. My thinking brain knows he has what he needs, and what he chose to not take will provide some valuable learning for him (i.e., the pad for underneath the sleeping bag . . . *sigh* . . . )

The rest of me is worrying: Will he remember to take his meds? Will he be warm enough at night? Will he take it easy and stay hydrated? Will he practice good trail etiquette and be safe? Will he ask for help if he needs it?


Well, my little prayer mantra for during this time:

Father in Heaven
Through this day
While he hikes and while he plays
Keep him safe from every harm
Keep him safe within Your arms.


If I say that enough, like a Buddhist chant, it ought to help ease some of the anxiety.


Drum Roll . . . . And Morality Is . . . ?

I came across these ideas in Mary Pipher’s book, The Shelter of Each Other: Rebuilding Our Families and they really stuck with me:

” . . . morality is not the property of any one political party, race, religious group or segment of the population . . . morality refers not only to sex and violence but also the use of power, time and money. Broadly defined, morality is about making decent and wise choices about how to be in the universe. It implies purposeful action for the common good.”

As I welcome my teen into the next stages of growing up, these are ideas I want him to think about as he makes choices about the world he moves and lives in. I don’t want him captured by any idealogue. I want him to think for himself and take the space and time to move along the paths that do contribute to the common good.

I wonder though about the world in general, and how this does or does not play out. What I hear on radio, see in the limited TV I watch, read in magazines or on-line, tells me that people — with rare exceptions — really don’t make choices based on any good other than their own personal good.

And I look back on choices I have made in 40 years of life and wonder how many times I may or may not have made choices that benefitted a greater good, not just met my needs or ego.

It’s a kind-of uncomfortable think to think about, y’know . . .

The Water of Life

It was a surreal experience to wander through a local watershed park today with several confirmands and our youth group leader and pastor. I first walked this park at age 12 with Richard, my biological father, and his dog, Old Blue. As a young mother, I brought my son to this trail (and many others) to learn to walk, and run, and experience the endless, cyclical wonder of this beautiful land.

And now I was standing on a side path, listening to the whispers of the rain through the evergreens, the gurgle of the creek, and the occasional chirping of birds. The pastor invited us to drink in the water sounds, to hold those sounds close for comfort when life got tough, as a reminder of God’s baptismal promises to us as we walk through the season’s of our lives.

Over the years, my son and I have watched for the first trilliums to push through the sleeping earth and open their white petals. We have charted the growth of tiny green buds to baby leaves to full summer foliage on the trees. We have crunched through autumn leaves covering the trail in rich colors. We have splashed through puddles, leaped over mud pits, and exchanged smiles and nods with other trail-walkers.

We have created leaf boats and set them free in the creek, for fun and for grief, to say goodbye to ones gone before. We have urged the salmon upstream and helped plant trees. We have made stickyweed crowns for each other, and posed for pictures in grandfather trees. We have crossed moss-covered logs, gaped at an owl, and watched red-headed woodpeckers show us what true head-banging is all about. Saved fuzzy caterpillars from being smashed under heedless boots and waved away swarms of gnats. Nibbled on blackberries and captured raindrops and snowflakes on our tongues.

As the forest has grown up, so have we, changing even as the forest has through life’s many seasons.

First Time’s the Charm

I suppose that’s what children are for . . . teen-age children. To not only expand their personal horizons, but also their parent’s life experiences. In the space of a little less than a week, I am become a Facebook member and a “blogger” — heavens to betsy! What’s next?

Don’t ask, you say? All right, I won’t. Except I already have a clue. Oh yes, the dreaded (albeit for one person eagerly anticipated) learner’s permit. I suppose it’s time to invest in an automatic transmission, rather than the manual clutch and shift.

How did this happen already? Just yesterday he was taking his first steps. And now he wants to drive?

Yoga. More yoga. Elephant walk. Deep breathing. Cat-cow stretches. More deep breathing. I am assured on a weekly basis that the ONLY requirement is to breathe. Deeply.

Well, that’s mostly do-able.

I suppose I’ll head and off and do it.

Go ahead — you try it. You know, open your mouth and slowly, ever so slowly breathe in air all the way down past your stomach. Fill your abdomen and lungs ever so slowly with air. Keep going. That’s right. A good long breath. Now slowly release it. Squeeze your belly in tight. Tighten all your abdomen muscles. Now Relax. Good. Do that a couple more times.

Do you remember that miraculous first breath and cry as they laid the precious gift on your belly, while still connected by the cord? You know, the one that you practiced breathing for in the first place? Those lessons come in very handy through the teen years. So, haul out those Lamaze books and get back in shape.

Let the breathing commence. And the living continue. Amen.