Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday Night At The Park

The day before we left for Mexico - the memory card in my camera went bad. I ended up loosing the final four assignments for my night school class. All due Monday. Eeeek!

Tonight , after dark I headed down to Balboa Park to re-shoot my night photography assignment.

Park Boulevard

Science Museum Fountain

Friday, May 30, 2008

Two Canadian Peas In A Pod

This year I had the coolest tent-mate ever!

A- came all the way from Surrey, British Columbia. She had planned with a friend to join an Amor trip in February - but when that fell through, they suggested that she join our trip. Now 5 months pregnant, her friend was unable to come, but A- decided to brave the unknown and join our team! Being the locally available Canadian I was dispatched to pick her up from the airport and make the initial connection. We instantly hit it off!! On the way back from the airport we were stuck in Friday rush hour traffic, holiday weekend, raining .. we barely noticed, the trip flew by.

Don't you love it when you meet someone you connect with right away? How fun to share the same perspective and quirky sense of humour! While I was out and about shooting team pictures, A- managed to shoot video snipits of everything I missed - the very memories I would have been snapping pictures of. How amazing it has been to watch and relive the fun.

At night, back in our tent we were surrounded by chatty Kathy's talking, talking, talking -- we smiled enjoying the peaceful silence in our tent ... and drifted off to sleep.

God is good!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

C is for Cande, C is for courage

Several folks on our team came without knowing anyone else on the trip. C- had the courage not only to join a team of strangers, but despite speaking only spanish, she joined a team of anglos. Each morning she lead our team and family in a spanish prayer. What an encouragement to start the day with her words of blessing and thanksgiving.

Applying stucco is a physically demanding job. By the time you reach the stucco phase, you are tired and exhausted from two days of hammering and sawing. Cande amazed us all with her determination and strength lifting shovel after shovel of concrete stucco.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Through out the weekend we worked along side our Mexican family. Mom, Dad and the two teenage children were eager participants. This would be their home and they took pride in the work and inspired us to do the same. Angel (Dad) sifted our sand pile three, yes, three times.

The member of the family that stole my heart was little David. He ran around the construction site Saturday morning in his flannel PJs with the feet in them. Later in the day he emerged in street clothes and the most adorable little backpack. David would plunk himself down in the middle of the flurry of activity, smile and soak it all in!

David in the center of things

David helps with the stucco

David and his dog

David's drawings

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Images That Stick With Me

Some random pictures I took of children sitting on the side of the dirt road as I walked by.

This is Carlos looking over the fence at us. It didn't take long until he was standing in the yard with a soccer ball asking us "play now?" His favourite saying is 'you a funky monkey'.

Monday, May 26, 2008

We Did It!

Two and half days working together with our Mexican family and the neighbourhood kids - and look what we were able to accomplish together!! The fruit of our labour is this beautiful two room casa. Check out the smoooooth stucco job. This is our third year building homes over Memorial Day Weekend. This year Steve perfected the art of stucco -- I am sure I could see my face reflected in the glassy smooth finish.

Click on Picture to Enlarge

Our casa is built completely by hand - no power tools ... just hammers, saws, nails and stucco made from sand we sifted ourselves.

It is a blessing to know that our family will keep dry when it rains and warm in the winter. Our small contribution to building hope in the midst of overwhelming poverty.

Here I am home safe and sound and catching up with the Pickster. Next order of business it to get out of my work clothes and enjoy my first shower in three days. I am feeling thankful beyond words for the many blessings of home.

So many stories to tell - but first some rest.


Quote of the Day

Organizations exist only for one purpose: to help people reach a higher purpose together -- something wonderful that they couldn't achieve individually.

--Robert H. Waterman

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Building Hope - Looking Back

Today is day two of this year's Come Build Hope trip -- and the blog is on auto-pilot!

Below is a video of the highlights of last year's trip.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Where is Maclovio Roja?

The blog is on auto-pilot for a few days.

I am on my annual Come Build Hope trip to Mexico. This year I am in the community of Maclovio Roja building homes.

Click here to read a recent article in the local newspaper about the Mexican Community I am serving in this weekend.

Friday, May 23, 2008

We Are Off

Well we are off to Mexico for the long weekend to build homes.

I snapped a few photos of us loading up this afternoon - but my memory card got corrupt ... so they are lost forever.

The last few days have been busy busy busy with all the last minute details.

This afternoon I scooted down to the airport to pick up a participant flying in from Canada. It was rush hour, Friday of a long weekend and raining. Not exactly the ideal time to be on the freeway in Southern California. As always, things have a way of working out. We had fun getting to know each other and there is this instant connection when you meet someone from your home country after being away for a while. There is something comforting about hearing the word -eh!

A final e-mail went out yesterday with a flurry of last minute information. Thought I would share some of them here.

God is good: By the numbers:

  • 380 participants
  • 23 casas built and families served
  • Over 1/3 of our group is 17 and under
  • 10 buses, 2 vans, 2 luggage trucks and 3 RVs.
  • Three other "church partners" joining us
  • People from Ireland, Canada (2), New York and Colorado (11) joining
  • Three medical services staff
  • 175 tents
  • 4 Amor Staff
  • Over 2,500 meals
  • 1,567 s'mores

Temperatures: Ideal for casa building. Partly cloudy skies. No rain.
Temperatures about 68-84 F. May be cooler at night.

Building Relationships: At our May 12 Mega Meeting, Amy and Juan-Daniel clearly defined our # 1 objective... to build relationships with those we serve. This is a "gift" we all can give.

Building Casas: We are committed to completing as many of the casas as possible in 2008. This is the "gift" that Amor and the local pastors have promised the families we serve. A completed casa!

Time Management: As much as we try, we do not control time and space in Mexico. Stuff happens. There will be surprises. Having said that, we are going to do everything possible to stay on the schedule that we have defined and provide maximum site time for relationship building and casa completion.

Buses: 10 large buses to Baja. 11 factory buses in Baja.

Minor Registration List: We have about 120 participants 17 and under. All are listed on a notarized "Minors List." All Trip Leaders will have a copy.

Border Crossing: The bus passenger list has been sent to the Department of Homeland Security for pre-clearance return on Monday afternoon. Hopefully the border crossing on Monday's return will be as convenient as last year. Patience please. The rules keep changing.

Medical Services: We have three well trained medical service providers and two RVs that will be deployed in the build area as "clinics" if required.

House Warming Gift Package: Like last year, these "kits" will be distributed to the trip Leaders on Monday morning for the casa dedication about noon on Monday.

Bathrooms and Porta Potties:
This year we will have 12 Ecosan porta potties placed throughout the build sites (Yeah!)

RVs: We have three RVs. One will remain at the camp site and used as the Come Build Hope HQ. Two will be deployed in and around the build sites. During the day, they will be "clinics" in case of medical emergency.

Safety: Safety.! Safety! Safety! Think safe. Work safe. Be safe. Drink lots of clean water. Sun protection! Know where your team members are! Safety!Safety! Safety!

Attitude: Remember, it's all about attitude. All the participants (many have never been on a build trip and many have never been to Mexico) will model their behavior on the behavior they see in their leaders. Let's be positive. Let's smile through the unexpected surprises. Let's be flexible. Let's be patient.

"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain" (Psalm 127).
Thousands of hours have been spent by hundreds of different individuals who volunteering their time and their talent to serve.

Just watch us Come Build Hope in 2008.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Quote of The Day

The present moment is the field on which the game of life is played.

Ekhart Tolle

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pintura Fresca

Just as I reached out to grab the railing ... I noticed the sign!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Class Trip

Last night my UCSD night class went on a field trip to Balboa Park. .

It was just like being in public school - we had to hand in signed permission slips and everything!

Our Prof Taking a Timed Exposure of the Fountain

Looking out from the overpass

Monday, May 19, 2008


An excerpt from the LJCC weekly E-Newsletter

Our personal affirmation for this topic is this: I am thoughtful, considerate and calm in dealing with others.

Thoughtful means I think carefully about how I interact with others.

Considerate means I consider (un)intended consequences of my actions.

Calm means that I do not create unnecessary damage or pain in how I act.

Gentleness is a delivery system. It is intended to avoid damage.

We all see people do things harshly when they should be gentle. It has the effect of escalating tension, stress, distrust, anger and fear.

An African proverb says that “When the elephants fight the grass suffers.”

Why do we do this?

If we can learn to link passion with gentleness we will bless the world.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Jimmy Carter on the Gulf Coast

The 2008 Jimmy Carter Work project took place this week on the Gulf Coast. The plight of the Gulf Coast communities still struggling to recover after Katrina is close to my heart. I had wanted to return to Biloxi and participate - but the scheduling didn't work out. Together we can read about the events of this past week and the ongoing rebuilding effort by clicking here.

Snow Cake

Last night I watched a funny, quirky, indy film called Snow Cake. First off, it takes place in Wawa, a small town in Northern Ontario. A film that takes place in my home province - what's not to like about that!

The famous Canadian Goose Statue even makes a few appearances.

SNOW CAKE is a film about friendship, trust, autism, odd behaviour, snow, a dog called Marilyn, acceptance and the power of friendship, no matter how eccentric, to change lives and heal hearts.

Neighbourhood Trees Get A Hair Cut

Friday as I left for work there was alot of activity and trucks in the neighbourhood. Time for the annual trimming of the Palm Trees. I think they may have been a little overly enthusiastic with this years hair cut!

Palm Trees Across The Street After Their Hair Cut

A good old-fashioned buzz cut

Friday, May 16, 2008

Another Parking Lot Pic

Another picture from strolling through the parking lot. I love the cool bark on the trees along the path.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thought for a historic day

Fear always springs from ignorance.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

We Are The Web

Michael Wesch
Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology
Kansas State University

Thought for the Day...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

World Wide Exclusive - Two Hours Late

I was recently at a dance party in Burbank (a.k.a. a taping of The Ellen Degeneres Show). This was the show where Mrs. Mariah Carey-Cannon made her first public appearance. In true Diva fashion, when the show started, there was no sign of Mariah. It was lots off fun watching how creative the show staff were at dynamically re-ordering the show. They were able to make the situation into a fun time (full studio audience and no guest could be a bit stressful!). They re-arranged the order and even taped a segment for next week (Hilary Duff). Ellen had to change into different clothes for the segment for next weeks broadcast. That turned into a bonus for us - an extra long and enthusiastic audience dance competition. Everyone was having so much fun - we didn't notice that Ellen had returned and was sitting in her chair enjoying 'our' show! A fellow near me did a flip down the stair at one of the cameras - and then a head spin right on the stairs. Ellen stood up and clapped for him! Periodically during the show they would cut to the camera at the front gate scanning for Mariah. It was worth the wait. Beyond, just enjoying the contrast in style and personality between these two woman - my favourite part was watching Mariah's entourage dash out at each commercial break and primp and fuss through the entire break.

The musical guests were a very cool, all vocal band called Naturally 7. They use no instruments - everything is their voices. Check out one of their videos here on YouTube.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A Day In Burbank

Johnny Carson Park Across the Street from NBC Studios

Strolling Bob Hope Dr.

Studio 11 on the NBC Lot where TEDs Tapes

Studio Audience Check-In

Universal City Walk

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Colonel and I

Santa Monica Beach

As I walked from the parking lot towards the pier, I noticed two older men in uniform carrying a flag draped casket. This was not an image I was expecting to encounter on my way to ride the ferris wheel. I followed along behind them to see what was happening.

I soon found myself at the Arlington West memorial.

I stood and watched as a procession of 18 caskets, one for each American soldier killed this week, was carried out. There was during the ceremony, the hustle on the pier calmed and may stopped and looked down in silent reflection.

Arlington West Mission Statement
In accordance with the Veterans For Peace Statement of Purpose, the Arlington West Mission Statement is to

  • honor the fallen and wounded
  • to provide a place to grieve
  • to acknowledge the human cost of war
  • to encourage dialogue among people with varied points of view to educate the public about the needs of those returning from war

Click here to learn more about the Arlington West project and Veterans for Peace.

As I sat in the sand watching the procession - a stray beach ball from kids playing near by rolled past me.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Strolling Through The Parking Lot

Recently, I have been struck by the beauty of the trees and flowers as I walk through the parking lot from my apartment to the gym each day.

This morning I schleped my camera along and snapped a few pics.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Thought For The Day

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It's How You Play The Game

Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace know there is more to life than coming in first. They carried their injured opposing team member, Sara Tucholsky, across home plate for a home run and the winning run of a college baseball game.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Beware the terrible simplifiers

Bill Moyers reflects after his interview with Reverend Jeremiah Wright.

Text of this essay is available here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Thought For The Day

"Remember, kind actions-
more than anything else-
cause the soul to shine with brilliance."

- gertrude the great

Monday, May 5, 2008

Ross, Thanks for the Squash!

My trip to the Santa Monica Pier put me smack dab in the heart of Koo Koo Roo territory.

Once back on solid ground after the harrowing Ferris Wheel experience -- I asked my GPS to find me the nearest Koo Koo Roo! Less than a mile away - score! How could I pass up an opportunity to enjoy the amazing butternut squash?!? Or should I say... the Ross Squash.

So, here I am enjoying the squash. I snapped a picture to send off to Ross. I little thank-you e-mail to show my appreciation to the person who single-handedly brought the butternut squash back from extinction!

Well... Ross being Fanfreakin'tastic guy that he is - actually wrote me back

LOVE THESE PHOTOS!!! I'm gonna post them on the blog. So... how was the squash?!?!? :)

That's right! The latest Elizadventure makes it on the Ross blog. Click here to check out Ross' blog! May 5th entry - not only to I get a mention in the bumper, but scroll down and eeek there are my pictures!

Ross was on Good Morning LA the other day talking about Koo Koo Roo. Click here to view.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Ride Into History

Starting this evening the Santa Monica skyline is set to go dark for 17 days. The world famous solar powered ferris wheel that dominates Santa Monica Pier (Pacific Park) skyline is being taken down. It was recently sold in an auction on E-bay to make room for a new improved version.

Always in the celebrity spotlight, the Pacific Wheel has a very impressive list of credits with appearances in more than 105 photo shoots, 71 television commercials, 69 television shows, 28 feature films and 13 music videos. The Hollywood "buzz" for the wheel includes the opening shots for NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno and appearances on American Idol.

The Pacific Wheel has provided more than 3 million rides over the last 12 years. It stands 130 feet above the Pacific Ocean and features 20 gondolas which can accommodate up to 800 riders per hour.

A historic occasion like this was just tooooo good to pass up.

In honour of the final day - rides are free and dollar will be donated for each rider to the SPCLA.

I consulted with Wanda* - she was up for the adventure ... so off we went.

The Pacific Wheel
My Sunday Afternoon Destination

I arrived shortly after the park opened and found my place in line. The wait was a moderate 20 - 30 minutes. There line was full of interesting people - all anxious to be part of history. My first ride on the wheel was with a Pepperdine University alumni who was in town for a few days from Texas. When his friends told him the news about the wheel ... he rushed right over. When we stopped at the top he was busy texting his friends on his blackberry - I snapped pictures.

View from the top

I had so much fun I decided to ride again!

The second time around I was in line with two families. We managed to cram 5 adults and 2 kids into one gondola. Just about the time I took this picture I started to remember I am afraid of heights!?! We were stopped at the top, with a jammed gondola swinging in the wind. At this point the ride couldn't finish fast enough for me! I went a peculiar shade of green, while the two little girls stood up and waved to Ariel the Mermaid out in the ocean!

Eeeek I am scared of heights

When we landed there was a T.V. crew waiting - anxious for an interview. Here is my little traveling companion enthusiastically sharing her experience!

* Wanda is my fellow wanderer and faithful car.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Today I attended a Learn to Curl Clinic sponsored by Curl San Diego.

Who knew shuffleboard on ice could be so much fun!

I invited along a number of friends - but the only one brave enough to accept the challenge was my winter sport buddy- Jac! She became an honourary Canadian for the day ... and we were off.

Jac's only experience with curling was laughing at it during the Olympics. I played once - about 15 years ago. All I remembered was how much fun it was yelling SWEEEEP! Yup, that was what I was here for. I didn't care if I had a chance to play. Just let me stand on the sidelines and yell SWEEEEP!!

It was a bright, sunny 80 degree day when we set out on our curling adventures. We arrived at the rink in time to catch the end of a hockey game. While we waited, I schooled Jac the fine art of Canadian spotting.

See that guy - he is wearing a Montreal Canadiens jacket. Wait, just wait - there you go - a French Canadian acccent ... bingo!

See that guy in the canteen. That shirt - it is a roots olympic t-shirt - how much you want to bet he is Canadian? Bingo, again!

Soon it was time for curling school- and we were out on the ice. Jac had to work to overcome her genetic handicap of being American (pretty sure the only such rare bird in attendance). Our first few attempts at pushing off were rather tentative - but in no time we were moving on to sweeeping (SWEEEP!).

The Curling Adventures of Jac and Eliz

Next ... on to playing a real live game. We were teamed up with Tricia and Jamie. Jamie is from my home town and went to public school across the street from my high school. How cool is that?!? Tricia was an instant natural at curling - and, well, turns out Jamie is a certified curling geek. Not only does he watch curling on YouTube, he Tivos curling - Eh?!?

I was pretty inspired after our curling adventure. We are changed people. Jac promises she won't laugh at the Canadian Olympic curling team now that she realized the finer nuances of the sport. As for me ... well curling just may start showing up on my Now Playing on TiVo list!

It is amazing how much we learned in one day.

For example...
  • The curling stone is darn heavy - weighs in at 42lbs
  • To convert arena ice to curling ice - it must be pebbled. This is done using a back-pack of water with an attached sprinkler head. The drops of water create a pebbled ice surface. The curling stone/rock skates across the pebbled surface. Without the pebbled surface a suction will develop between the rock and the ice surface.
  • A typical game is made up of 8 ends (kind of like baseball innings).
  • A team has four players. Each shoot (deliver) two rocks per end. Each player on the team has a name/role.
    The first to play is referred to as the "lead." The "second" shoots next, and then the "third," or "vice skip." The skip usually shoots the last rocks, and calls the strategy for the game.
  • The skip is the brains of the operation. He/she decides on shot selection, and "reads" the curl in the ice for the shooter.
  • Each running stone curls, or curves, as it proceeds down the ice. The amount of curl is determined by the twist given the handle during the delivery.
  • Sweeping is where you get your work out. Sweeping heats up the ice and reduces the friction. It helps the stone slide further.
  • A turkey in curling is a good thing. A stone in the center of the target is called a Turkey!

Check out the etiquette of curling here.

Written in the Sky

Driving home today I was entertained by appearing and disappearing messages in the sky. fades and then Sip Jolt. Chug Life.appears.

As I pulled into the driveway I looked up to see...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Ross Squash

Yup, the squash is back!

I am heading into Koo Koo Roo territory on Sunday. So ....look out squash here I come!!

From The Ross Blog

Innate Dignity

Pope Benedict addresses the U.N.

Human rights are based on the "innate dignity" of every person In other words, the recognition that each of us is created in the image of God should inspire us to fight for the basic rights for all.

Here is what the Pope had to say ...

The life of the community, both domestically and internationally, clearly demonstrates that respect for rights, and the guarantees that follow from them, are measures of the common good that serve to evaluate the relationship between justice and injustice, development and poverty, security and conflict. The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security. Indeed, the victims of hardship and despair, whose human dignity is violated with impunity, become easy prey to the call to violence, and they can then become violators of peace. … a vision of life firmly anchored in the religious dimension can help to achieve this, since recognition of the transcendent value of every man and woman favours conversion of heart, which then leads to a commitment to resist violence, terrorism and war, and to promote justice and peace.

Indeed, questions of security, development goals, reduction of local and global inequalities, protection of the environment, of resources and of the climate, require all international leaders to act jointly and to show a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the law, and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the planet. I am thinking especially of those countries in Africa and other parts of the world which remain on the margins of authentic integral development, and are therefore at risk of experiencing only the negative effects of globalization. In the context of international relations, it is necessary to recognize the higher role played by rules and structures that are intrinsically ordered to promote the common good, and therefore to safeguard human freedom.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thought For The Day

"u cant scream at a flower bloom
it opens when it is ready"