one walk to remember November



November is light and color: reflecting, piercing through, glowing on tree tops, casting shadows.



November is dramatic skies – blue or dark slate – either way, they look amazing behind butterscotch tinted tree tops.


November is frost and a little sheen of ice on puddles.


November is the river flooding and receding.


November is afternoon sunlight that seems to burn in a spiral through the bare-limbed trees, finding you no matter where you are.


November is the moon appearing to chase the sun from the sky.


November is quiet, stillness in twilight, cold.

have you had the conversation?

During October, I participated in some discussions at our church titled “Living Better, Dying Better.”  I was only able to attend 3 out of the 4 sessions but it was enough to jumpstart my thinking about how to support family members to have discussions about how they want to live as they die.

I think my parents have filled out Advance Directives – and given me and my sibs copies – but it is time to revisit them.  A suggestion is to review them every 5 years.

Today I visited my 92 year old mother-in-law and began the conversation. I know plenty of fuss has been made about her will and finances etc. but I wasn’t sure about the health side of things.  I took her a copy of the Five Wishes pdf and another document that supports this conversation as well.

“No, I haven’t talked about these things,” was her answer, “but I can see it would be a good idea.”

So I left a purple folder with the documents and suggested she sit with them and write on them as though she was writing a letter.  She writes beautiful birthday card sentiments.  Her own birthday is coming up in December. So this can be her birthday and Christmas sentiments to us all this year.

I know I’ll have to bring the topic up again – because it is hard, and because she’s forgetful and because it should be something shared with her family.

It is a discussion I need to think about and plan for myself too – so I’ve downloaded the starter kit from the Conversation Project and this Christmas, it will be some homework for me.

No flow but Flowpaper

I’ve been having trouble getting words on paper so I’ve been playing with rainy day drawings with my Flowpaper app



I am thinking about buffers—

Definition of buffer as noun:

an apparatus at the end of a railroad car, railroad track, etc., for absorbing shock during coupling, collisions, etc.
any device, material, or apparatus used as a shield, cushion, or bumper, especially on machinery.
any intermediate or intervening shield or device reducing the danger of interaction between two machines, chemicals, electronic components, etc.
a person or thing that shields and protects against annoyance, harm, hostile forces, etc., or that lessens the impact of a shock or reversal.

I have buffers in place in my life and I am recognizing the ways I actively engage them. What do I need buffers for?  That isn’t my question.  My question is: How will I continue to maintain the buffers I need and want?

extravagant welcome

extravagant – origin and history: Latin – extravagari: “wander outside or beyond”


Extravagance is not a part of my lifestyle or something I covet or even know how to enjoy when I happen into experiences I would describe as above and beyond the norm. So it was with trepidation that I accepted the offer of a gift horse to attend a retreat in San Francisco that I knew would be more extravagant than a typical weekend away.

The weekend included both a service opportunity feeding the needy in the basement of Glide Memorial Methodist Church and moments for self reflection on the labyrinth in Grace Cathedral. The lavish aspects of the weekend were tempered by the contrasts we witnessed and provided opportunities for rich and provocative discussion and revelation.

But besides the actions and reflections of the weekend, the one experience I came away with was of receiving “extravagant welcome.”  The two spiritual leaders who planned and coordinated this trip welcomed each one of us as though we were visiting dignitaries and asked only that we take care of ourselves as though each one of us was a precious commodity to preserve for the world.

Again, this was in direct contrast to the vast numbers of homeless we saw scattered on the streets standing with their meager piles of clothes and belongings, sleeping with blankets or cardboard wraps, or wandering and muttering aimlessly.


Imagine a world where all of us were the recipients of extravant welcome – knowing ourselves to be precious.


Thank you Bobbi, United Church of Ferndale, and Sharry, First Congregational Church United Church of Christ, Bellingham.

Out on the ocean

Last weekend I wrote these words:

“Some mornings I wake up and despite not being quite fully rested and knowing I have a complicated day ahead, I still manage to feel …..not just happy, not just optimistic, not just content, but full of grace.”

This weekend I am adrift on the ocean having just been released by a 4 year old pirate patrolling the seas of my creativity and successfully absconding with every last notion of grace and poetic thought left in my pockets!!

But – avast ye mateys – do not despair for me!   It’s the weekend – and I am safe from pirates on the high seas for a little while.  I’ll retreat to the holds of my own ship and restock my pockets.

24 hours later

yesterday I wanted to quit

16 children under the age of 5

only 5 of them have ever been in a school situation before

4 of them have to be reminded to go to the bathroom…..often

one pooped in his pants yesterday

I don’t have a changing table so I’m cleaning poop off a standing child

Not fun

no matter the thoughtful and repetitious demonstrations about how we care for our classroom supplies and how everything has a place and doing a little clean up before we move on

It’s a forever lesson I know….

We’ve only been in session for 4 days but we’re still figuring out the wrinkles in our schedule

so despite poopy pants and getting 10 feet of train track back in a box and tiny pills of playdough off a table and scraped off the bottom of shoes we have to get to lunch at a specific time or our window for a somewhat sedate lunch is gone like the wind….

we barely made it yesterday

and everything I know about teaching young children was not happening

we washed our hands with baby wipes  – big no-no  …..we were flying down the hall pulling kids sideways, they are screaming with delight – not okay in a school building …..and we are plopping kids on stools and plunking food on their plates and commanding them to eat – quick – because the bus will be there in 25 minutes

and when I finally buckled the last kid into those twisted and complicated straps on a hot and sticky bus I went back to the classrom and put my head down on the desk and thought to myself “how am I ever going to make it this year!”

but 24 hours later after going much more slowly through a day and checking in with James at least 10 times today about what to do if he has to go poop

I made it through another day

and I don’t want to quit

because I was a good teacher today

and I know why they give me 16 kids under the age of 5

because what I do will help the next teacher

with 24 kids under the age of 6


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