Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Porch Story :: July 2018

• Porch Stories host Kristin takes a retrospective glance at July; I'll do the same.

About Time

porch stories July 2018 summary

porch stories July rundown

• Trains run on a preplanned, often published schedule, sometimes on time, sometimes not. Most of us anticipate life will run on a schedule, but life doesn't very often happen within the parameters we set for it. However, we still need to plan, we still need to hope and expect—because otherwise the world would stop spinning? Not quite, but a lot of essential services wouldn't happen, a lot of basic needs wouldn't get met.

• I haven't yet opened it, but I noticed the "Career, Job, Calling?" subject line in today's email from The High Calling, a site about Theology of Work.

Dreams Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

• As I still keep agonizing why the life of service I dreamt of, had been gifted to do, had taken advantage of opportunities to develop the gifts into high-level skills could have crashed and burned so badly, I never quit quoting Eric Andersen's It's not the times, it's just the dreams that die.

• What do I want to talk about when we meet on my porch? Most often I turn the spotlight over to my guests. That's ironic, because I'm very much an outgoing classic extrovert and I adore being the center of attention. I want to talk about myself. I don't want anyone to explain anything to me; I've already almost choked to death on untenable rationalizations.

moon flowers

• Typically two to four backyard moonflowers bloom each evening; here's a group of nine from early July. Several seedpods are getting ready to burst so more flowers can blossom. Seed times and harvests also are about time; the seeds can't break open the shell until they're ready.

porch flag 2018

• The USA's Fourth of July birthday – Independence Day – is my favorite holiday. No special activities this year, but during most of July we flew the Stars and Stripes from the actual front porch.

• Every July is blogoversary month! 2018 marked desert spirit's fire Sweet 16!

4 o'clocks 4 o'clock 4 o'clock

• Four O'Clocks flower only at 4 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. "People have seasons," I observed during one of our Monday evening women's bible studies that met at my home the first time I lived in Previous City. Not a novel declaration in the least, but everyone instantly picked up on it, probably because everyone always needs to be reminded life is not about constantly producing and endlessly contributing to The Greater Good. A good life includes times of lying fallow; life needs times of receiving rather than giving.

• You may have noticed I didn't include any outings or events for July. Way back in those bygone days, whatever happened to be going on in my life, I always loved summer. I always wanted summer to last forever. Then a few years ago life became so dicey even summer didn't cut it any more. My previous three summers (2015, 2016, 2017) in Current City I still had a sense of excitement and anticipation, but now, for 2018, I gotta yell out loud to tell everyone I haven't yet rewoven a life of adequate participation—of both giving and receiving. By any measure or standard. This has not been a fun summer... I hardly can wait till it's over; I can't wait to experience what God will do next ... but I still need to plan and prepare.

• Wherever the place, whenever the time, I cannot let my dreams die.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Bach • Schütz • Handel

July 28th every year • Saturday 28 July this year

JS Bach worship bulletin coverHere's the worship bulletin cover collage I designed in City of History for our weeknight liturgical celebration of The Fifth Evangelist, Johann Sebastian Bach; anchor image is Ben Shahn's portrayal of Bach based on Elias Gottlieb Haussmann's famous one. Formally and officially this commemoration's mostly – but not exclusively – a Lutheran thing. Long ago I heard of a novel about a (Roman Catholic, of course) Pope who loved Sebastian Bach's music so much he wanted nothing more than to canonize him as a saint of the RC church, but Bach's being protestant was more than a slight impediment. Only Bach for my collage? Always the liturgy geek, since I followed both Sunday and sanctoral lectionary propers, I kept saying, "Bach, Schütz, Handel" to the pastor, who kept insisting back, "Bach!" Finally I got we'd be officially celebrating only JSB that evening.

Prelude Music Planner observes, "In a delightful example of musical ecumenism, Schütz (a Lutheran) received funding from the Landgrave (a Calvinist) to visit Giovanni Gabrieli (a Catholic) at St. Mark's Basilica, Venice, where he studied organ, composition, improvisation, and probably substituted for Gabrieli at mass." These days that kind of flexibility and interchangeability is super-common, pretty much a given, but was close to unheard of until the papacy of John XXIII.

I suggested JSB's commemoration may mostly be a Lutheran thing since Bach himself was a Lutheran Protestant, yet The Wonder-filled Wikipedia tells us, "the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church remembers Bach annually with a feast day on 28 July, together with George Frideric Handel and Henry Purcell." Not sure if G.F.'s surname needs to be spelled Handel or Händel in which context?!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Porch Story :: Blogoversary 16

porch stories 16th blogoversary

Sixteen Years

• It's Wednesday—Porch Story Day! Host Kristin Hill Taylor's about Adventuring Together; I'm writing about my 16 year blogoversary that happened on the middle day of July – the 16th – but all of July is the anniversary. Beginning a blog at any time qualifies as open-ended adventure; even when I've been discouraged, I easily can admit I've written about a variety of ideas and events, posted excellent photographs and amazingly imaginative art. Every day is a theological, practical, and psychological watershed because {of course} every moment is a new beginning, but clearly I'm at a major intersection I can't keep ignoring or rationalizing. How. Some. Ever. This is about desert spirit's fire's Sweet Sixteen Year, so specifically during the past dozen months?

summer 2000 scrapbook page

July 2017 – July 2018

• I've done something for each of my usual annual celebrations of World Rivers Day, World Water Day, Earth Day, the Day of Pentecost, World Oceans Day... check the links list at the end of this page! I've continued an illustrated activities summary for each month and meteorological season; I've blogged many of my Amazon book reviews.

• On 02 December 2017 I last played the Five Minute Friday free write—I never intended to quit FMF and still consider myself part of their community, but after 7 months? For a long time I used Kristin's own Porch Stories topic as an almost weekly writing prompt, but that declined, too. I realize those aren't obligations, contests, or competitions, but has my functional level declined so radically I cannot do those simple things, or have I subconsciously decided the effort's not worth the return? Both/and?

• #Write31Days2017 31 Days of Celebrating Place highlights year sixteen! I'd long wanted to blog more about places I've lived, visited, and loved, and I did it with thirty illustrated posts. There's one more guest post pending; when Malinda writes about Myrtle Beach, I'll create an eBook of the series.

What Else?

• Not directly blog-related but very bloggable, over the past five or six months I've been printing and organizing my notebook portfolio. I've loved creating a natural & botanical series that frames and presents my {natural, botanical, and related} art far better than a simple pdf of the drawing or painting. So what's the summer 2000 scrapbook-style page? You can't acknowledge what you don't change. Didn't I recently quote Eric Andersen's "It's not the time but just the dreams that die?" I constantly remind myself people have seasons; despite outward appearances, no one spends 24/7 optimally productive. I know what functional is, and this sure ain't it. What about the summer 2000 scrapbook page I've even printed to include in my current portfolio? Summer days, summer nights, blueberries, blackberries, a hint of real community, an overwhelming sense of a full future. I know the future holds more adventures, because that's always the style of journeying in trust with the God of Great Surprises... God of Resurrection. {Was "God of Great Surprises" one of Corita Kent's phrases?}

Two Naturals & Botanicals
July Fry Beach Scene
• Pointillist Beach Scene – original is watercolor / crayon resist.

sky horizon
• Sky Horizon – this is the full original watercolor version of one of my signature suns.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Independence Day 2018 FB Status

July 4th Facebook status

Happy 242nd, USA!
Be free & brave!
Welcome the stranger.
Live justice.
Rock righteousness.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Porch Story :: June 2018

porch stories June 2018 highlights


* Kristin Taylor offers an end of June what happened this month porch story; I'm doing likewise, talking about highlights of the month that ends today as I continue to remind myself insanity is expecting different results from the same behaviors, as I consider Eric Andersen's, "It's not the time but just the dreams that die." Song title? Rolling Home.

• During June Roxy Kitteh and I have been doing well in our new abode; I've been getting less design work than usual, but that's provided me some physical and emotional space to ask a very serious "now what?" Because it all remains unsustainable for longer than a nano-second.

• On to a mostly pictorial account.

desert spirit's fire June blueberries

• My header features blueberries because they were abundant and affordable all month long.

Southwest California Synod Assembly

Southwest California ELCA synod Assembly logo

• I had the high privilege of designing the logo for the middle judicatory's annual meeting, the crazy excitement of seeing my design splashed all over the place everywhere I looked during the assembly. Theme was "Love and Serve God, Neighbor & Creation." I loved getting two shoutouts from the stand during plenary session and you know I loved seeing so many people I knew and realizing I'd connected fairly well in Current City. Another joy was talking with pastor who'd served North Park Church in Former City. He's been in this synod ten years, so it had been a long time.

Green Team Table

• Here's the Green Faith Team table; I designed captions and did the trifold display.

Green Team Table Great Blue Heron

• The Great Blue Heron who belongs to one of our team/committee members had to be there.

California Lutheran University back yard

• Natural beauty on the campus of California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks where we met.

Venice California and Venice Beach

Venice Beach Canal

• A friend and I spent a Sunday afternoon in the famous tourist and student town of Venice; here's Canal View 01.

Venice Beach Canal

• Venice Canal View 02

Venice Beach Palm Trees

• We visited the town of Venice and Venice Beach (with palm trees).

Venice Beach vendor storefront

• I did mention tourists; how about this shop display?

Venice California houses

• If you lived there, you'd be home here.

Closer to Home

Star jasmine

• Synod Assembly was Friday 01 June; Agnes and I sauntered over to Venice on Sunday 03 June—aside from a meeting in Glendale with no pictures for the first time ever, those were the only actual outings during June, but in my current City of Redondo Beach, I've enjoyed plenty of exquisitely scented star jasmine.

back yard moonflowers

• Every day another moonflower / datura or two, three – or more – bursts into blossom in the back yard and fades by sundown. Monday morning 18 June there were five!

strawberry moon

• Added over an hour later, even though the first thing I knew I'd include was the late in June full Strawberry Moon...

It's not the time but just the dreams that die. I dream of the homecoming of contributing to world and church to an extent reasonably consonant with my ability. In one of her books, Kay Redfield Jamison wrote she'd aged so during a particular time in her life and added, "As well one must [age], with such loss of self, such proximity to death, such distance from shelter." I don't expect many people truly to get who I am and why I have the passions I do, but doesn't everyone need the shelter of homecoming? If I let my dreams die... I will die.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Barry Pearman :: Broken to Built

Broken to Built: 31 Days of Rebuilding with Nehemiah by Barry Pearman on Amazon

broken to built book coverFor several years I've followed Pastor Barry Pearman's Turning the Page website; I also belong to his related Facebook page and recommend both to you.

With a short chapter a day for a month of 31 days, mental health advocate and practitioner Barry Pearman anchors his reflective insights in the post-exilic Hebrew Bible book of Nehemiah. Although the book guides individuals as they move from being Broken to becoming (re)Built, Pearman reminds us of the necessity of having community alongside us and the necessity of constant connections with God, the only truly reliable One. The visually striking cover of the book photographically illustrates the idea of interaction and cooperation; in fact, the author crowd-sourced on his Facebook page to determine which one of four cover choices most appealed to people.

This book is for everyone! in his intro the author explains, "..we are in recovery mode. We are building and growing a life out of the rubble of what was left behind. In the choking dust of rubble we find that this is no fairy tale. The biblical Book of Nehemiah is a love story. God is in love with the people of Jerusalem and sees them broken, shamed and without dignity." And, "The big idea is that recovery/life takes place in a relational context."

Each chapter opens with a very short real-life vignette from people the author knows in real life; each chapter ends with a (1)Quote to consider, (2)Question to answer, and (3)A rock to build with. I'd suggest at first quickly glancing through the entire book to get a basic overview, then using each chapter as part of your daily devotions, and during the day remembering the end of chapter Quotes, Questions, and Rocks.

Hopefully everyone's life isn't completely in shambles and shards all the time, yet there's always some element that needs to be healed and helped back to wholeness. Maybe you've heard someone mention they started therapy or counseling because parts of their lives were going extremely well, while another aspect or two was in disastrous condition? Maybe that's been your experience? Despite being grounded in scripture Jews and Christians can relate to and affirm as having authority for their lives, this book is for everyone!

By the historical time period of Nehemiah's narrative, God's people had left their existence under Egyptian imperialism centuries earlier, returned to their home-land Jerusalem after exile under the Babylonian empire (though many deported to Babylon stayed there), and now they needed to deal with another empire. The post-[Babylonian] exilic book of Nehemiah describes life under that other empire—Persia. Scripture shows us how cleverly and effectively Jews – including Nehemiah – found ways to live well, grow healthy, and thrive in spite of far from ideal surroundings. Nehemiah even was employed by the Persian king! Often we simply cannot escape negative influences; for many reasons, we frequently need to stay in our current living situation or employment context, but must figure out work-arounds, as Nehemiah did.

I especially appreciate how Barry emphasizes the critical need of having supportive people alongside us at the same time he keeps emphasizing connecting with God in prayer. Those other humans help a lot, but (aside from Jesus of Nazareth) there's not yet been a perfect, totally reliable person, so God must remain our ultimate recourse and rock.

Notice of material connection: I received a copy of this book from the author with no obligation to write a positive review. As always, my opinions are my own.

My Amazon review: Connecting with Scripture and Community

Friday, June 22, 2018

World Oceans Day 2018

world oceans day desert spirit's fire banner 2018

The annual World Oceans Day happened two Fridays ago, on June 8th. Every year I blog for WOD! It runs in my mind I've been a day or two later than the 8th once or twice, but not a couple weeks' worth. "In spite of," I created a new version of one of my previous WOD photographic banners pretty much on time and finally decided it was enough for a valid blog.

world oceans day official banner 2018