Monday, December 31, 2007

The Gate of the Year

At the Gate of the Year
I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied,
'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'

So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.

So heart be still!
What need our human life to know
If God hath comprehension?

In all the dizzy strife of things
Both high and low,
God hideth his intention."

by Minnie Louise Harkins 1875-1957
Included in King George V1 broadcast 1939

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dinner With Friends

The holidays have rushed by much too quickly. Tomorrow morning it is back to work for me.

Tonight I had dinner with friends. R&L were in town, visiting from Salt Lake. Their visits are always a great opportunity for our 'old' small group to get together and reconnect. Today we all had the pleasure of meeting Rowan, their 2 month old son!

J- received a slow cooker for Christmas (the Lexus of Crock Pots) and made phenomenal dinner. I had three helpings!

Saturday, December 29, 2007


My KinderSURPRISE chocolate egg was bumped around a little on the journey home - so I decided to open it.

Look what I got!

Breakfast At The Beach

Waiting in line at Robertos
Menacing Sky

Mr. Seagull comes for a visit

Enjoying a breakfast burrito at Torrey Pines Beach

On The Road and In The Air Again

Chillin' in the nether regions of the Toronto Airport

Separated by a glass wall (and US Customs and Immigration)
from the Tim Horton Donut Shop

With the donuts inaccessible, I sat and enjoyed the turkey sandwich I packed for my journey.

Today was a l-o-n-g travel day. I left Mount Hope, Ontario shortly after 11 am EST and now 17 hours (2 books and several magazines) later have arrived safe and sound (and tired!) back at my place in San Diego.

Friday, December 28, 2007

No Tobogganing

Sign on the bottom of a snow covered hill full of kids with sleds.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Trip To Harvey's

Today at lunch we went to my a burger place that is a favourite with my sister and brother-in-law. Harvey's is another 'only in Canada' restaurant chain.

Once again big brother Robert (Holla!) supplied us with gift certificates to underwrite our culinary adventures.

Heather Bites Into Her Harvey's Burger

Let It Snow

I woke up this morning to snow flurries.

Great, big, beautiful white flakes falling from the sky!

Snow falling on Mom's House

View From The Front Porch

Child of Wonder take off your shoes!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

In Canada the day after Christmas is called Boxing Day. It is traditionally a day for visiting. We were just hanging out at home deciding what to do when an old friend and colleague of my mother and sister dropped by. They spent the afternoon catching up on old times

Heather, Mom and Sheila

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Our Christmas Tree Lit Up
Mount Hope, Ontario

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Where Did The Polar Bear Go?!?

I came home from my errands today with a pocketful of loonies and toonies. Upon closer observations I was shocked to find the polar bear was missing from the tails side of one of my toonies. Instead, I found on the flip side, what appears to be Inuit art. Intrigued, I decided to investigate (click here for the wikipedia pages on the loonie and toonie).

My toonie is a limited edition coin that was issued in 1999. It features an Inuit drummer and was created to commemorate the founding of Nunavut.

This one is a definitely a keeper!! I won't be exchanging it for any Tim Horton donuts or Aero bars!

Tails - Special Edition
Inuit Drummer

Tails - Traditional
Polar Bear

As always, Queen Lizzie on the Heads Side

Brrr, it's cold

Last night when I arrived it was a "winter wonderland". A foot or two of snow covered everything.

This morning I woke up to the pitter patter sounds of rain. Uh oh, that rain is washing away all my beautiful snow!

Raining Cats and Dogs
Standing on The Front Porch This Morning

Crank the Volume to hear the pitter patter of rain

Current Weather: - 3degC, feels like temp of -10degC 45 km/h winds.
Translation to fahrenheit - below freezin' and freakin' cold!

This afternoon I enjoyed (?!?) a rather scenic tour of Hamilton mountain. I set out to run a couple of brief errands at the local mall. I drive by landmarks and intuition rather than actual directions. Well, turns out, in the year or two two since my last trip to the mall - the landmarks have changed. So the 10 minute drive turned into an hour. I would have called home and sought navigational help - but ... U.S. cell phones no longer work in Canada. I asked the sales clerk in the Roots Store if the cell networks had been recently upgraded to 3G technology - I got a blank stare followed from a "what planet are you on?" look - so I changed the topic of conversation to track pants. That is my theory though, Canada is using 3G technology, making our US based 2G phones obsolete.

Here is interesting new tidbit I have noticed this trip -- detects that you are logged on from a Canadian IP address and automatically re-directs you to (has different skin and slightly different interface) and offers me a version of google en Français.

The temperature has dropped tonight. The rain from earlier today has transformed the roads into skating rinks. However, that wasn't enough to deter any of us from hopping in the car and heading to Swiss Chalet for dinner. I spent most of the flight from Cincinnati to Toronto talking with another displaced Canadian about the wonders of a quarter chicken dinner and chalet sauce - so there was NO way a little ice was going to keep me from my long anticipated dinner. "Shout Out" to big brother Robert for the gift certificate that paid for my dinner!

Swiss Chalet Quarter Chicken White Meat With Fries!

Memorable Moment: The look of horror and the scolding I received from my mother when I took out my camera to snap a picture of my dinner.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Travel Day

I was expecting it to be a zoo at the San Diego airport this morning. I got up extra early, and braced myself for the crowds. What a surprise when I made it through ticketing and security in 15 minutes! Who knew flying the Saturday before Christmas would be so easy?!? So here I am, at the gate with 2 hours and 45 minutes to kill. I have great books along for the trip, but I haven't woken up enough yet to dive into them. How nice of the airport to provide me with free Wi Fi for some mindless web surfing.

Holiday Time In Brooklyn (What Can We Give)?

Heifer Project International

Heifer envisions...
A world of communities living together in peace and equitably sharing the resources of a healthy planet.

Heifer's mission is...
To work with communities to end hunger and poverty and to care for the earth.

Heifer's strategy is...
To "pass on the gift." As people share their animals' offspring with others -- along with their knowledge, resources, and skills -- an expanding network of hope, dignity, and self-reliance is created that reaches around the globe.

Heifer's History
This simple idea of giving families a source of food rather than short-term relief caught on and has continued for over 60 years. Today, millions of families in 128 countries have been given the gifts of self-reliance and hope.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Shopping For Peace

State St., Santa Barbara, California

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Long Goodbye

Time to say goodbye to one of my comic strip friends

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Push Pin Art, The Making Of!

Über Push Pin Art (a.k.a. Push Pin Art VI)

J- has really raised the bar with this latest creation.

J- is leaving life in a comic strip behind for a job at UCSD. What a cool good-bye gift! Shout out to J for hand colouring the pins for the red stripes (yes they were clear pins, before they met the red sharpie).

This all happened while I was busy at my keyboard stressing to meet a deadline. I have been burning the midnight oil trying to get things wrapped up before I return home to the Great White North for the holidays.

Then out by the art wall,
there rose such a clatter,
I leapt from my chair to see what was the matter,

I turned from my computer,
time to call it a day
I'm finished with work, and ready to play
When, what to my wondering eyes did appear

A Canadian Flag, in push pins, oh dear!

What?!? No Squash at Koo Koo Roo

Bring back the butternut squash.

The time to Unite is now. Power To The People.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snow In Toronto

Looks like I may be getting my wish for a white Christmas.

This is what Toronto looked like this morning.

Onramp to the 401 at Keele
(401 is the major freeway across the top of Toronto)

Digging Out

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Picky At Her Post

My furry friend looking down at me as I leave for the day.

Sunday Morning At The Beach

Last weekend I made a little get away to Santa Barbara.

Sunday morning I woke up early and went for a stroll on the beach. Here is a little piece of what I enjoyed.

Child of Wonder. Take off your shoes.

Walking On The Beach, Enjoying The Birds

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Look out Snow here I come!

Well this time, one week from now, I will be landing at Lester B Pearson International Airport (YYZ). Home for the holidays!

Time to go through my closet and find my "Canadian" clothes (think wide cords, turtlenecks and double knit sweaters, toque, snow boots etc) ready for the trip. While getting into the winter groove I found this hilarious piece of Canadian humour about "snow in toronto". I hope am lucky enough to experience a "terrible tragedy" of 20 cm snowfall while I am home.

Click here for a parody Rick Mercer parody. Snow in Toronto.

My sister and her dog tobogganing


They are building an ABBA museum in Stockholm.

Am I the only on that thinks this is weird?!?

click here for details.

Pondering The Nativity

By Emily Varner

Mention "Christmas traditions" and something within me freaks. Tie myself down to one way of doing things forever? Start a routine that's only remembered when I forget it? Not me. Yet as parents, we've all discovered the necessity of repetition in teaching our children about the things we value. This very idea of formation by repetition informs the ancient liturgical practices so many are rediscovering. Our Christmas decorating this year uncovered a simple, natural expression of Advent that I hope can become a part of our Christmas memories as a family.

Somehow I've received as gifts, nativity sets enough for each room of our small house. The bedroom dressers, end table, kitchen windowsill and computer hutch each have at least the basic characters: Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Most have more. My favorite is a hollowed-out coconut with tiny, featureless wooden figures glued inside. Most, however, are the glass-figure, dollar-store variety, each figure looking particularly reverent and somber. Turning most of these into additional props for my daughter Elinor's daily play has me mulling over Advent aloud with her, and silently within.

It's mostly about presence and mindfulness, of course. The constant visual reminder of where we stand in the church year and the tactile prompt to talk about it are vital given the other Christmas messages vying for my attention.

The other day Elinor and I discovered a crèche just right for her dresser, which she can currently just barely reach the top of. Resisting my urge to set up the scene myself, I decided to sit back and watch.

She sets up a scene unlike any storybook picture I have ever seen. Joseph in the distance, looking at Jesus straight-on; Mary and one of the wise men kneeling with heads together; the other two wise men, backs to Mary and Jesus, looking south.

My unsuspecting daughter has just laid out for me a meditation; I study it like an icon. Joseph thinks to himself, "You know, he still looks just like any other baby." Mary listens to the wise man's travel tales, holding them in her heart. Maybe some night when Jesus is having trouble getting to sleep, she'll tell him the story. The other magi discuss what they've found. How can this be a royal family? They're poor fugitives, on the run from their country's ruler. They muse together. I muse too.

Where am I meant to recognize the face of God in my day? Perhaps in similarly unlikely places.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Push Pin Art IV (Peace)

More from the push pin "art" wall.

Peace Out!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Child of Wonder, Take off your Shoes

From Seasons Of Your Heart:Prayers and Reflections
Macrina Wiederkehr

My bare feet walk the earth reverently
for everything keeps crying,
Take of your shoes
The ground you stand on is holy
The ground of your being is holy

When the wind sings through the pines
like a breath of God
awakening you to the sacred present
calling your soul to new insights
Take off your shoes!

When the sun rises above your rooftop
coloring your world with the dawn
Be receptive to this awesome beauty
Put on your garment of adoration
Take off your shoes!

When the Red Maple drops its last leaf of summer
wearing its "burning bush" robes no longer
read between its barren branches, and
Take off your shoes!

When sorrow presses close to your heart
begging you to put your trust in God alone
filling you with a quiet knowing
that God's hand is not too short to heal hyou
Take off your shoes!

When a new person comes into your life
like a mystery about to unfold
and you find yourself marveling over
the frailty and splendor of every human being
Take off your shoes!

When, during the wee hours of the night
you drive slowly into the new day
and the morning's fog, like angel wings
hovers mysteriously above you
Take off your shoes!

Take off your shoes of distraction
Take off your shoes of ignorance and blindness
Take of your shoes of hurry and worry
Take off anything that prevents you
from being a child of wonder

Take off your shoes;
the ground you stand on is holy.
The ground you are is holy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Canadian TV Comes To iTunes

Yes, Virginia, Canadian television content does exist!

As of today a little bit of Canadian culture available for download from iTunes. I'd love it if they added the nightly CTV news with Lloyd Robertson!

A Little Canadian TV clips from YouTube

Sample Rick Mercer - here and here
Corner Gas here and here
Sample Little Mosque on the Prairie here

click on picture to enlarge

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Three Kings

From Revolutionary Patience
by Dorthee Solle

I've thought a lot about
why they went
a major disturbance in the sky
a threefold source of light
in an unexpected place
an unfamiliar star among familiar ones
is that reason enough to set out
on sand-drifted roads
carrying stale water in leather bags
month after month
putting aside for now the question of high powers
that might have influenced them
I have no grasp of things like that
I would call
what drove them from home
where they must have had it good
I would call
this revolutionary virtue of the modern era
this I'd guess is what spurred them on
they wanted to see what was up
to straighten out a new confusion
to account for this unexpected brightness
and incorporate it in the existing order

So they built
a more powerful telescope
it didn't help
didn't clear anything up
the new light just glowed
more brightly than ever
so they charted
well-to-do as they were
a fair-sized caravan
to run down that star
so they bargained bought organized laid in supplies
mapped out with thoroughness and foresight
their route and watering places
planned to travel at night
so they could promptly modify their plan
in accordance with the the somewhat erratic
course of the star
so they set out
on their arduous way to explore
this mysterious disturbance
brought into the world
by light

Were they able to explain this start
did they go home
conscious of a higher order
are they still underway
tracing irregularities
in the heavens and on earth
did they accommodate the unexpected brightness
to the everyday twilight around them
or is there a chance
that they accommodated themselves
to amazing light
could it be harnessed if so for what
did they see clearer when they got there
more important still
did they who saw it
reports are few
evidence is scant
but assuming they did change
I would praise the travelers
and rejoice in them and
if this uncommon light is still shining
look at it long and often
for their sake
hoping fervently
for change

Push Pin Art III

Here in Dilbertville, the internet ban continues -- and my 'art' collection continues to grow.

Here is the latest edition to my 'art' wall.

How many engineers does it take to make a push pin Christmas Tree?
Three. This one is a team effort by M-, ET and Tippie!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Advent Reflection

Adapted from Advent Reflection, Apocalyptic Texts
www (dot) owlrainfeathers (dot) blogspot (dot) com

You wouldn't expect it if you didn't have some experience with the liturgical calendar, but the Scripture readings during Advent are largely apocalyptic. They speak of war and of the end of times. People interpret these texts in many different ways, of course. One of the most common interpretations is that since Christmas is a celebration of the time when Jesus came the first time, then Advent ought to be an anticipation of the time when Jesus will "come again, to judge the living and the dead," to quote the Nicene Creed. I'd like to talk about another possibility when it comes to the apocalyptic texts.

Advent is a time of waiting, but it is not a passive time. It is a time of waiting for justice, for freedom from oppression, and for peace. The so-called apocalyptic texts focus on oppressive systems toppling. Yes, they speak of God as Judge, but God is always the Judge of the people who have hurt and oppressed the vulnerable in society. In other words, God is on the side of the poor, the weak, the hungry, the homeless, the lonely, the elderly, the orphans, the victims of war.

When Mary is pregnant with Jesus, she goes to her cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John (the Baptist). As they meet each other, the babies inside them leap in joyous greeting. And then Mary spontaneously begins singing about God. Here is part of what she sings:

"He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the
thoughts of their hearts.
he has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty."

Mary is hoping what all the Jewish people looking for a Messiah were hoping: that God would free them from the terrible oppression of the Romans, as God had freed them from the oppression of the Egyptians. Mary is also quoting Hannah, who was the mother of Prophet Samuel. Hannah, too, sang in anticipation that Samuel would be part of God's plan to free the oppressed.

Advent ought to be a time when we consider the people of the world who are being oppressed, and consider how we can participate in their release (and our own release) from oppression, captivity, and violence.

MLK quotes apocalyptic texts in his sermon in opposition to the Vietnam War (Click here to listen to it.) , and he gets at the heart of the biblical apocalyptic texts that are crying out for justice, crying out for the end of suffering. This is the speech in which he says, quoting the prophet Amos, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice...With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

As Advent begins, may we all wait eagerly, may we work tirelessly, may we hope with aching anticipation for the day...the day when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

The Bongo Recital

The writer strike is now entering its' second month. Despite the missing writing staff, TEDs has continued to air. I think the spontaneous nature of the show makes it even better. Here is a recent favourite ... the bongo monologue.

The Bongo Monologue

The striking writers are putting out some funny videos of their own!

The Strike Explained By Elijah (five year old son of a striking writer)

Writer's Strategize On Ending The Strike

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Pinkberry In San Diego?

From The New York Times Travel Section.

53 Places to Go in 2008


Wildfires this fall didn't prevent the opening of the much-anticipated Hard Rock Hotel San Diego (, a 420-room resort in the trendy Gaslamp quarter. The 12-story hotel includes a Nobu restaurant, two Rande Gerber bars, a spa and a Pinkberry frozen yogurt shop — all under one roof. Greasing the wheels is Virgin America, which is starting service between San Diego and San Francisco in February.

... and according to the Union Tribune we are also going to be getting a Pinkberry in Hillcrest!

A Blessing

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious unto you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you
and give you peace.
May God give us grace never to sell ourselves short.
Grace to risk something big for something good.
Grace to remember that the world
is now too dangerous for anything but truth
and too small for anything but love.
May God take our minds and think through them.
May God take our lips and speak through them.
May God take our hearts and set them on fire with
passion for peace and justice and truth and love.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Road Trip - Santa Barbara

This weekend I am enjoying a little 'get away' to Santa Barbara. It was cold this morning when I packed up. I almost packed my "Canadian" fall coat and toque - but decided against it.

On the way up I stopped at a little French Bakery in Montecito to pick up supplies for a picnic at the beach. The bakery had petite fours - something I have not seen for a long time. My grandmother use to bring these as a treat at Christmas time. In honour of my grandmother, I added a little chocolate petite four to my picnic lunch.

I must admit, since moving to California I am use to strange things showing up in my sandwiches. You can pretty much guarantee when they call something a Californian xxx sandwich or add an 'A' to it (i.e. BLTA) that they are going to slip some avocado into your innocent sandwich. I have learned to be preemptive and have them hold the avacodo. However, it never thought to say hold the cooked peas today when I ordered my chicken salad sandwich? Does anyone know if this is a 'french' thing? Seemed like an odd addition to my little picnic lunch at the beach.

I stopped at East Beach, which has become my favourite beach in Santa Barbara to stop for a picnic and reflect. Today, for the first time I noticed these cool trees.

Cool Trees at East Beach, Santa Barbara, California

Not bringing my fall coat and toque - bad decision. It is FREAKIN' cold here in Santa Barbara. 47 degrees F tonight as I walked State Street. I stopped at the local Starbucks and picked up some hot chocolate to take the chill off. The downtown was a buzz with holiday music and all the palm trees are wrapped in white lights. The trolley was full of enthusiastic tourists jingling bells as they passed. I have to say despite shivering, the cool temperatures added to the holiday atmosphere.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Memories of Winter

Today I received a pledge card in the mail. It is from the school where I did my undergraduate studies in Computer Science.

The holiday check list (below) includes items that were such an integral part of winter life in Ontario, but now, living in California seem distant oddities.

Click on picture to enlarge

How Did Advent Accelerate?

Adapted from "How Did Advent Accelerate?"
by Amy Ard

As a child I found no joy in an Advent calendar; all those little flaps and doors and bite-size pieces of chocolate signified nothing more than the fact that Christmas was still a really, really long time away. Especially as I got down to the last few doors, just a few days before the big event, time seemed to take on a pace as slow as molasses sucked through a straw. Admittedly, the coming of the Christ child was not what had me wound so tight. It was the portly fellow in the red suit who delivered untold delights on my living room floor that made the Advent season so terribly long. While the object of my desire may have been misdirected, the spirit of Advent was palpable. I was waiting for something big and it was taking a very, very long time to arrive.

How odd that the older we get, the faster Advent seems to fly by. Barely has the Thanksgiving turkey been devoured before we find that we're out of time to prepare for Christmas. The units of time have not changed over the years; a minute is still 60 seconds, a day is still 24 hours. How is it, then, that Advent speeds past us when once it crawled along?

Perhaps it is because as adults when we want something we can usually find a way to get it without waiting very long at all. When we do have to wait longer than expected -- someone decides to write a check for their groceries or the line at the coffee shop is out the door -- we get antsy, even angry for the delay.

Advent should be a time for slowing down not speeding up. On Christmas Day we celebrate a world transformed by the birth of a small child. What if we lived as if the world might be transformed once again? Our faith tells us that how we keep ourselves busy ourselves during the wait is important. We are not called to lives of idle desperation but active hope. Would Advent creep up on us if we truly believed that the world might be so transformed again by something as unassuming as a child born in a manger? How would you prepare your household, your family, and your neighborhood for a gift so radical and promising?

This year I'll try to wait (the active hopeful kind of waiting) as if I believe that my most impossible dreams - a world where no child goes hungry, no sick are left to die, no bombs explode - could be made real. The anticipation will certainly rival anything from my childhood. I'm waiting for something big this year but I've found that God's gifts always surprise.

Time For Peace

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Push Pin Art II

Another picture from my art wall in Dilbertville.

Stop Complaining - An Advent Reflection

Adapted From
"My Big Beef About Christmas"
by Rachelle Mee-Chapman

"Isn't it awful how "they" have hijacked Christmas!"

Christmas has basically equaled time with family + commercialism since the 1800's. The 1800's people! How long are we going to complain about it being hijacked?! Isn't 200 years enough?

Besides, what about the family half of the equation. The warm lovely let's-create-family-memories part may not be oriented around the manger bare, but at least it's shalom-like in nature. And as for the marketing stuff, well we're all sucked into that one way or the other. Seriously, have you seen the ads for the Singing Christmas trees and Live Nativities at the mega churches? And face it, you and I are just as into gift giving and red-and-gold wrapping as the next guy. Besides, it's nice to give presents. It feels generous and loving and celebratory--again, all stuff that can move us a little closer to shalom, if we are present to it.

I don't know. I guess I'd just like thear someone talk about the things we can celebrate in our cultural expression of Christmas. What if we tried to embrace that which is good in our "national" holiday? What if we saw the God-active spots in our cultural celebration---a desire to be together, a hope for peace on earth, an impulse towards generosity -- and we supported that whole heartedly. And what if we expressed alternatives to that which we cannot embrace?

  • Where our celebration is soul-less let us offer something, not accusatory and prideful, but humble and soul-ful.
  • Where there is excess let us offer simplicity. Where there is marketing, let us offer story.
  • Where there is illusion, let us offer unvarnished bits of truths.
  • Where there is debt, let us offer relief. Where there is need, let us offer charity.

I sometimes question the transformative nature of Christianity. So often we seem to get stuck in these cycles of blame, critique, and ...well...just outright poutiness. But I never question the transformative power of Jesus, of purposing ourselves towards living like Jesus. If we seriously commit to being Jesus-y, well, things just have to change.

Let's try it, shall we? Let's experiment. Let's play in the fields of grace. Go ahead, start a meme. What three things will you embrace about our culture's expression of Christmas? (i.e. Where will you dance in the overlap?) What three things will you practice an alternative to? Here's mine.

Things I'll Embrace about my culture's Christmas:

  1. I will embrace spending time with friends and family.
  2. I will embrace giving charitably to those among us who are poor.
  3. I will embrace expressing love towards friends and family through thoughtful gift giving.

Thing's I'll practice an Alternative to:

  1. I will not run around like a chicken with my head cut off during the holiday season (I will limit my "Christmas" events and parties and enjoy and "be present" in those I attend) and I will practice "Sabbath".
  2. I will be intentional about my gift giving and moderate in my spending.
  3. I will be conscious of the season of advent and the expectation that goes with it.

Tag! You're it!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Big Waves

Today the surf was B-I-G. I woke up to find an e-mail from a friend excited by big waves seen on her morning walk -- plus a news flash 15 ft surf later in the day.

This was just the excuse I needed to sneak out of work for a few minutes and hit the beach. Here are a few pictures from "The Big Surf Adventures of Tippie and J-".

A Big Wave (estimate 8 - 10 feet)

Tippie Escapes Dilbertville

A Typical Day At The Office

Click here for official Dilbert site.

Click on comic to enlarge

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Don't Hate On Me

Why do we hate on those who are different? How does a faith that is rooted in love for God and love for others end up creating so many haters?

Exchange on the Ask-Ro blog. Funny, but sad.

u r a hypocrite 4 celebrating Christmas after turning ur back on religion. CHRISTMAS IS A CHRISTIAN HOLIDAY! Ppl need to remember that.

jesus wouldn't like u

Seeing “people of faith” hassle u for not being exactly like them is getting old.

Push Pin Art I

What would Dilbert do if he worked for a web company and they blocked internet access from the office?

He could dress up like an elf and sing and dance ... or create an art wall and invite everyone to exercise their frustration in creative ways by creating 'push pin' art!

Sample From Tippie's 'Art' Wall At Work

The push pin donations continue to come in. I have a droor full just waiting for the next 'push pin' artist to come along. So ... swing on by and help decorate the place!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Happy Pinkberry Monday!

A talky blog dedicated to Pinkberry.... and
we learn that 'Green Tea' Pinkberry is 20 calories less than regular!?!

One question remains --- when are we going to get a Pinkberry here in San Diego?

Let's Do The Elf Dance

Click here to watch me sing and dance.

Tippie the Elf

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Prayer For Advent

Prayer for Advent: Hope in a Dark Time

In this time of darkness,
We choose to look toward the Light.
In this time when so many are suffering,
We choose faith, not despair,
We choose the work of compassionate justice.

As we move together,
Hungry for transformation, for hope,
Our steps themselves
Transform us, nourish us.
We are on constant pilgrimage,
Moving to the heart of things,
Reaching beyond what any one of us
Can accomplish ourselves.

The brightness of the Incarnation
Guides us as we continue,
With the promise of the Prince of Peace
As the bright star in these dark nights.

- Julie Clawson

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Move Over Griswalds

The picture above is the home we met at for our Biloxi re-union party. It would make the Griswald's proud - or so our Biloxi friends joked!

Over the last two year there have been nine teams of people who have travelled from San Diego to the Gulf Coast to help rebuild homes that were damaged or destroyed by Katrina in South Biloxi. Tonight was an opportunity to get together and reflect on those trips and hear about the adventures the folks from Biloxi have experienced during their volunteer work this week in San Diego. They spent today on the sand bag work crews, scaling the sides of slippery, muddy mountainsides. Hard work - but they felt so blessed to have an opportunity to help the community that supported them in their time of need.

Tonight, as I exited the freeway and made my way to Poway - the car filled with a heavy burnt smell. It is amazing how 6 weeks later and after a full day of rain - the smell of smoke is still so powerful in this area. Just being able to meet here tonight is an amazing blessing. Last months the fires were burning right across the street. The man who lives across the road was at the party. He had made several trips to Biloxi to help re-build. The firestorm completely consumed his backyard - but miraculously his home was spared.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Heritage 1981 Beverly Center, Beverly Hills, California

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Visitors From Biloxi

I have a new 'must do' activity for visitors to San Diego. There is an amazing walking tour of Coronado that departs Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturday at 11:00 am from the Glorietta Bay Inn (across the street from the Hotel Del). It is a leisurely walk and the guide is awesome. Not only is she enthusiastic - but she shares the most amazing tales of the history of the area.

One thing that was really neat about the tour is she took the time for everyone to introduce themselves and tell where they were from. A- and M- from Biloxi are in town - and that is how I came to be on this tour. They both shared with passion their story of surviving Katrina and the long journey to recovery. They shared some of the heart breaking details of insurance coverage that wasn't there when they needed it and the many obstacles that their community is facing as they try to rebuild. They also shared very powerfully how they were touched by miracles and generosity in the midst of their tragedy and that seeing the fires in California they wanted to come and reach out to the people here.

Walking Tour Group at The Hotel Del

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wonder and Astonishment

- by Eugene Peterson (condensed)

Birth: Wonder...Astonishment...Adoration. There can't be very many of us for whom the sheer fact of existence hasn't rocked us back on our heels. We take off our sandals before the burning bush. We catch our breath at the sight of a plummeting hawk. "Thank you, God." We find ourselves in a lavish existence in which we feel a deep sense of kinship-we belong here; we say thanks with our lives to Life. And not just "Thanks" or "Thanks It" but "Thank You." Most of the people who have lived on this planet earth have identified this You with God or gods. This is not just a matter of learning our manners, the way children are taught to say thank you as a social grace. It is the cultivation of adequateness within ourselves to the nature of reality, developing the capacity to sustain an adequate response to the overwhelming gift and goodness of life.

Wonder is the only adequate launching pad for exploring this fullness, this wholeness, of human life. Once a year, each Christmas, for a few days at least, we and millions of our neighbors turn aside from our preoccupations with life reduced to biology or economics or psychology and join together in a community of wonder. The wonder keeps us open-eyed, expectant, alive to life that is always more than we can account for, that always excedes our calculations, that is always beyond anything we can make.

If in the general festive round of singing and decorating, giving and receiving, cooking meals and family gatherings, we ask what is behind all this and what keeps it going all over the world, among all classes of people quite regardless of whether they believe or not, the answer is simply "a birth." Not just "birth" in general but a particular birth is a small Middle Eastern village in datable time-a named baby, Jesus-a birth that soon had people talking and singing about God, indeed, worshipping God.

This invites reflection.

So how did it happen that this birth, this Jesus birth managed to set so many of us back on our heels in astonishment and gratitude and wonder? And continues to do so century after century, at least at this time of year?

In Jesus' birth the wonder is extrapolated across the screen of all creation and history as a God- birth. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us"- moved into the neighborhood, so to speak. And for thirty years or so, men and women saw God in speech and action in the entirely human person of Jesus as he was subject, along with them, to the common historical condition. That God was made incarnate as a human baby is still not easy to belive, but people continue to do so. Many, even those who don't "believe," find themselves happy to participate in the giving and receiving, singing and celebrating of those who do.

Incarnation, in-flesh-ment, God in human form in Jesus entering our history: this is what started Christmas. This is what keeps Christmas going.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Other

"You need your enemy to be ugly. You don't want to discover anything good in your enemy, or you will find yourself in the wrong. When we portray our enemies as utterly depraved, then we feel justified in treating them however we want."

- Mazhar Mallouhi

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Fountain

A fun surprise I found while strolling through an outdoor mall on Saturday evening.

The Fountain at The Grove, Los Angeles, California
Choreographed with Christmas music for the holidays

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Stay Awhile

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness,
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.

-- Mary Oliver

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Return to Pinkberry

Green Tea Flavoured Pinkberry with Raspberries

Today I was up in L.A. so I swung by my Pinkberry in West Hollywood. It was my lucky day. Not only did I get served right away- but I had the coolest swirler. First, he greeted me with a big smile and an enthusiastic 'how are you?' - and then he sang "The Pinkberry Song" and danced as he swirled up my green tea treat!

I wonder should I get it plain,
or green tea?
It doesn't matter to me.
Don't care how long I have to wait.
I like it in the rain,
or in the wintertime,
like a burst of sunshine...
P-I-N-K-B-E-R-R-Y for me

How long would you wait in line?!?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Day Of Thanks

The Thanksgiving Table

I spent Thanskgiving Day with friends and eating VERY well. Above is a picture of the Thanksgiving table. My favourite part is the Teepee place markers. Each Teepee has a person's name on it - so we know where to sit!

Click here for more Thanksgiving Day pictures.

The History Channel has a great website all about the history of Thanksgiving. My favourite is the video and commentary about the presidential pardoning on the turkey. Click here to view.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pay It Forward

Did you ever see the movie Pay It Forward? Trevor is in the 7th grade. His homework assignment -- 'Find a way to change the world and put it into action'.

Trevor's calls his approach to changing the world, "Pay It Forward". There are three simple rules:
  1. It has to be something that really helps people
  2. It has to be something they can't do by themselves
  3. I do it for them, they must then go and do something to help three other people

The teacher likes the idea but doubts it will work. A "little Utopian".

I haven't thought about the movie in years. However, it re-surfaced in my mind recently as I have been witnessing around me wonderful acts of kindness and generosity by those who are overwhelmed with gratitude for the grace that was shown to them in a time a need.

A few weeks ago, I was working with a group that was helping clear debris and search for valuables with families that had lost their homes during the recent wild fires. We had worked at several homes during the day and as the sun was starting to set we were all tired and hungry and running out of steam. A car pulled up on the side of the road and a woman popped the trunk to reveal a cooler full of cold drinks, baskets of fruit and bags of snacks. She called out to us and asked if we would like a snack break. We were all amazingly thankful, but also wondered who was this lady that had appeared from no where. As we chatted with her we learned that she lives in the Tierra Santa area of San Diego. In 2003, her home burnt to the ground during the Cedar Fires. She knows what it means to loose everything. During her time of crisis and need she was overwhelmed by the support she received, not only from family, friends and strangers - but from people she had never met who came and volunteered and helped her get back on her feet. So, she woke this day, she felt compelled to stock up her car and head up the freeway to Rancho Bernardo and drive through the streets looking for volunteers - to feed them, encourage them and express her gratitude! As we talked with her our team lead went and brought over the families who's homes we were clearing. How amazing it was to watch and listen as our new friend share, even as we stood amongst the rubble, her journey of recovery. What started out as tragedy had brought joy and healing to her life. You could see the hope starting to re-appear in the eyes of the families who had lost so much.

A week later, a group of New York City Firefighters and 9/11 survivors came to San Diego to help with the Fire Relief effort. Click here to read about it. There is a foundation called New York Says Thank You that sends volunteers from New York City each year on the 9/11 Anniversary to help rebuild communities around the country affected by disasters. It is their way of commemorating the extraordinary love and generosity extended to New Yorkers by Americans from all across the United States in the days, weeks, and months following September 11th.

This fall I spent some time in the Gulf Coast helping with some rebuilding projects for those in the Biloxi area that were devastated by Katrina. One of the things that struck me most about the experience was the outpouring of gratitude I experience. Clearly, in the midst of tragedy the people of the Gulf Coast has been touched and inspired by those who had come and volunteered and they had been transformed by the acts kindness they had experienced. It was no surprise that a family from Biloxi was the first call to check up on me and see if I was o.k. and if I had been impacted by the fires.

Our friends in Biloxi, who lost everything just two years ago in the hurricane - next week are hopping on a plane to come to San Diego and offer their help to those here who lost their homes in the fire. How amazing it will be for those who survived Katrina to walk along side those who are picking up the pieces after the wild fires.

Paying it forward may seem like a schmaltzy Hollywood plot. But, in real life, grace filled gratitude, can and does change the world!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Growing Push Pin Collection

I recently took the money from the Push Pin fund and picked up a box of large colourful push pins. I then invited the members of the 'Push Pin Collective' to express their creative frustration by decorating the wall with their best push pin inspired creations.

To my surprise - my creative friends were appalled by the small palette I provided them with. I believe the word they used was 'stifling'. Clearly, 50 push pins was inadequate.

So .... the next day boxes of pins started appearing on my desk. The financial donations have now given away to 'in kind' donations. My only stipulation is that any donations I receive must be clearly differentiable from the 'official' corporate office supplies!

This enhanced palette does seem to be bearing fruit. I now have a scene created with push pins that includes a flower, a bird and a glowing sun.

Coming soon - pictures of my newly founded Push Pin Art Gallery!