Monday, October 16, 2017

#Write31Days 16 • Salt Lake City

Mount Olympus Utah
Mount Olympus

Days of 47 Utah Sego Lily Utah


This is day 16, the exact middle of the 31-day challenge!

Salt Lake City forever will remain a place I need to rationalize what went right because by most human standards so many things went wrong during my time there. This series featured the state of Utah a week ago yesterday; like the rest of Utah, SLC and its immediate surroundings are packed full of natural wonders. SLC possesses the biblical number of seven canyons; creeks that flow through SLC's more urban canyons {City Creek, Mill Creek, Red Butte, Emigration, and Parley's} have been in the process of becoming literally daylighted and restored to health rather than continuing as canals. Larger canyons Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood were – and still are – near enough to the city for even a short escapade up the canyon into big sky wonders.

Whether or not you've visited SLC or other parts of the intermountain west, maybe you know Brigham Young announced the Salt Lake Valley as "the place" the Latter-day Saints would settle. Pioneer Day that commemorates that event every July 24 is a major Utah holiday. Some years I watched fireworks a few streets up the hill from where I lived, other years at Liberty Park. You've likely seen pictures of Temple Square at Christmas time, and you may recognize the SLC LDS temple. Nearby Abravanel Hall is home to the Utah Symphony Orchestra. I had the joy of attending some Saturday evening concerts with a friend some of the times her daughter had to work and couldn't use her ticket. I also attended some Finishing Touches open rehearsals.

I trudged through CROP walks or the local equivalent during non-CROP years. Most of Utah's land mass is rural, most of the population, urban. I could walk to the Utah State Fair from my apartment on The Avenues! Getting to the fair was a longish walk, but easier than inconveniently parking and then walking for a half mile, or taking more than one city bus a relatively short distance.

Because I served on the board of three non-profit organizations and was active in at least two others, I participated in more than my fair share of activities that were politically, socially, and culturally broadening and enlightening. I never bothered to count my sound bite appearances on the late evening {10 pm in Utah} network affiliate news! Alongside my activist endeavors, I sat in on classes at the U, joined Toastmasters in order to become a better speaker, always attended the annual Poverty Conference and the Neighborhood Conference. I even had the smarts to find computer classes and start digitizing my design! That's the short list, so maybe SLC was more of a growing and learning space than a place of sorrow and disappointment?

Would I visit SLC? Only if someone I knew still lived there. I reconnected on facebook with next door neighbor Laurie, who currently lives in Provo, not far from Brigham Young University or "The Y." Would I vacation in Utah again? In a heartbeat—and I already have!

Avenues Utah Apartment Building

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

#Write31Days 15 • Salem

Derby Wharf, Salem Federal Style House, Salem


A train ride or a drive "up the {north} shore" from Boston into residential, historical Salem leads to dozens, maybe hundreds, of three-story classic federal style houses painted in assorted hues. Salem has a rich maritime history! I've heard tell how way back in the day, clipper ship trade in opium and tea was so central to the city's identity that people across the big Atlantic Pond thought Salem was the New World / the New World was Salem. Salem is full of ecclesiastical history—beginning with and moving beyond colonial Puritans, more than one church traces roots to the first church gathered in the colonies in the year 1629. Early in the 19th century, the first ever foreign missionaries were commissioned and sent out from Salem. "Salem" derives from the Hebrew shalom, peace that's well-being, integrity, and wholeness, that's more than absence of conflict.

By the way, the witches were only a myth, because they happened in today's town of Danvers that used to be part of Salem, just as several other renamed north shore towns once "belonged" to Salem.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

#Write31Days 14 • Ramsey Canyon Preserve

Ramsey Canyon Preserve
Ramsey Canyon Preserve
Ramsey Canyon Preserve

I've previously written about Ramsey Canyon Preserve on this site during April 2007 and featured some photographs on Ramsey Canyon Preserve too.

The Nature Conservancy describes Ramsey Canyon as one of "The Last Great Places." There's nothing more healing than a day at Ramsey Canyon Preserve. It's not too long a drive from Tucson in the direction of the Mexican state of Sonora, but the trip back home Tucson-way definitely warrants stopping for dinner. As I did for San Diego County, I'll fill in some spaces on this one later one. In fact, in the interest of ending up with a major accomplishment, I'll probably add ideas and images to almost everything in this series.

From The Nature Conservancy:

Ramsey Canyon, located within the Upper San Pedro River Basin in southeastern Arizona, is renowned for its outstanding scenic beauty and the diversity of its plant and animal life. Southeastern Arizona is an ecological crossroads, where the Sierra Madre of Mexico, the Rocky Mountains, and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts all come together.

A spring-fed stream, northeast orientation, and high canyon walls provide Ramsey Canyon with a moist, cool environment unusual in the desert Southwest. Summer monsoons create an annual splash zone where all kinds of fun can be had! Water-loving plants such as sycamores, maples, and columbines line the banks of Ramsey Creek, often growing within a few feet of cacti, yucca, and agaves. Communities ranging from semi-desert grassland to pine-fir forest are found within the vicinity of Ramsey Canyon Preserve. Ramsey Canyon and the Upper San Pedro River Basin are situated within the Apache Highlands ecoregion, which encompasses central and southeastern Arizona, southwest New Mexico, and the northern Sierra Occidental of Mexico.

Ramsey Canyon Preserve
Ramsey Canyon Preserve
Ramsey Canyon Preserve

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Friday, October 13, 2017

#Write31Days 13 • Invite

Invite collage
Grand Park, Los Angeles • Truro, Massachusetts, Beach House • Embarcadero Park, San Diego

It's day 13 of #Write31Days; Kate Motaung's Five Minute Friday Prompt fits my Celebrating Place topic well, so I'll take 5 to write about Invite.

For the month of October I'm celebrating place: places I've visited, places I've lived, places I've loved, places that have changed me. Place is about the ground under our feet, the land that grows our food. Often place is about home, belonging, safety, and trust. What are your special places? Have you been places you'd rather not return to? A house, a neighborhood, a city or town that meant sorrow, hopelessness, fear, or rejection? Can a person transform – redeem! – those places by returning, remembering, reliving what went down there? I don't know.

I don't know. But today I invite you to visit a few of my special spots. The Embarcadero along the Pacific coast of San Diego. Sand, surf, fish tacos, and the amazement of knowing there's an entirely "other" world on the other side of that limitless water. The lower Cape Cod town of Truro, where I spent a magical week with a classmate. We could find the same house, breakfast on the deck, lie on the sand and bask in the sun, snack and shop in Provincetown. "Please come to LA to live forever?!" Maybe not, but please spend a week with me in Current City Los Angeles! We'll visit museums, go to the beach at Santa Monica, hit the swap meet, maybe even take a tinseltown tour—if that's your pleasure.

Where would you like to invite your friends?

five minute friday invite five minute friday new button

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

#Write31Days 12 • North End

Boston • Massachusetts

North End Boston leaving Bethel frescoBoston proper is a small geographical area; wikipedia reports it "covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 673,184 in 2016; the greater Boston Metropolitan Statistical Area branches out and around to include close to 5,000,000 people. Boston contains many large neighborhoods with their own designations people often use when they address snail mail {Roslindale, Dorchester(s), Roxbury, South Boston, etc.} as well sections of town typically addressed simply as Boston + ZIP + 4. The North End is one of the latter.

Long ago in the 1630s English Puritans first settled the North End. After several demographic shifts, by the early twentieth century the community housed a predominantly Jewish population, and later became primarily Italian, mostly from Southern Italy and Sicily. To cite the infinitely reliable wikipedia, "approximately one-third of the North End's current residents are Italians or Italian Americans. The remainder are young professionals {yuppies}, college students, empty-nesters, business owners, and other families. The politics of the neighborhood are still dominated by Italian Americans."

Not as long ago as the 17th century, but back in the 20th, I lived in the North End. Memories include walking downtown to work; walking over to the now defunct Boston Garden for Celtics home games; driving a short piece up the north shore to the beach. Recalling time spent tanning and listening to music {remember boom boxes, ghetto blasters, ghetto boxes, or whatever your vernacular may have been"} "Up On The Roof" of my apartment building makes me too nostalgic! Christ Church in the City of Boston or Old North Church of Paul Revere Fame is at the end of the Prado where a sculpture of Revere on his horse remains a tourist attraction. What else about the North End? I mentioned Italian and that meant enticing smells of savory Mediterranean cuisine wafting by as you simply strolled down the streets. And then, Italian pastries. Cannoli, of course; and my favorite, vanilla- and citrus-seasoned ricotta pizza dolce – sweet pie – an Easter dinner essential.

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Winds of Heaven • Stuff of Earth

Winds of Heaven Stuff of Earth book coverWinds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth: Spiritual Conversations Inspired by the Life and Lyrics of Rich Mullins by Andrew Greer and Randy Cox on Amazon

In Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth you'll find a treasure-trove of memories, information, and testimonies to God's pervasive presence and everlasting faithfulness. Andrew Greer provides an ongoing narrative punctuated by reflections from musicians, publicists, producers, band buddies, friends and others who either knew the (sadly too early deceased) singer, songwriter, troubadour, and creation-lover Rich Mullins. Most of us have heard some stories from relatives, friends, or neighbors so frequently that even though the events happened long in the past or the characters died decades ago, the dynamism of the raconteur has brought them alive to the listener. In fact, that's how the canon of scripture began as an oral tradition before it became a written one. Drawing upon that tradition, the book also includes contributions from people who'd interacted with those who'd met him face to face so they'd developed their own sense of Rich's life and persona.

"Rich's imagination was so saturated by biblical narratives ... Yes, he longed for the winds of heaven, but he also ached for the redemption and restoration of the stuff of earth, and he had the courage to let some of Christ's passion for the world infuse his own." Page 175, from Chapter 34, "The Bittersweet Longing," by Carolyn Arends

I discovered Rich and his music when a friend linked me to "Help me, Jesus." The World as Best I Remember It was my first Rich Mullins album; "Calling Out Your Name" the cut that grabbed me so I couldn't leave it: "Where the sacred rivers meet // Beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the Plains // I feel thunder in the sky // I see the sky about to rain // And I hear the prairies calling out Your name." The Revised Common Lectionary appoints Psalms 96, 98, and 148 for Christmas, the celebration of God's incarnation on earth in a body made from the stuff of earth. Fields rejoice, oceans roar, trees sing, sea monsters, fire and fruit trees, wild and domestic animals all praise God because God in our midst means the end of pollution and decay, the beginning of the new creation, the dawn of humanity reclaiming its divine image. Martin Luther described the divine presence as "in, with, and under" all creation; in his closeness to Creator and creation, Rich heard the prairies praise. How about us?

"Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth" celebrates Jesus Christ, the power of the Holy Spirit of Life, and the promises of God the Father throughout—though it's not exactly a devotional book. But reading the short entries in order or at random still could enhance anyone's devotional life; it's not too much to claim it has a place alongside any collection or single volume of lives of the saints. As much as we can learn from the people of God in centuries past (shoutout to this year 2017 being #Reformation500 / #Luther500 and our ongoing awareness of ways God used both passions and imperfections of Martin Luther and other reformers, and more recent Jesus followers like Saint Teresa of Kolkata), Rich Mullins' inner struggles, his contributions to the world of music, the world of the church, and society in general bear pondering and at their best, are worth imitating.

I've had the privilege of being on the launch team for Winds of Heaven, Stuff of Earth; I'm excited to start wearing my t-shirt and finding even more fans for Rich!

my amazon review: Remembering Rich Mullins

Winds of Heaven Stuff of Earth book launch team

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

#Write31Days 11 • San Diego County

VBS 2013 leaving on Friday VBS 2013 Friday cupcake snacks VBS 2013 towels on Friday

Filling in the blanks on my perfunctory San Diego County post from last night.

You don't need to listen to many weather forecasts to realize San Diego County has four micro-climates: coast, inland valleys, mountains, and desert. Depending on the moment in time, the City of San Diego {also known as "Previous City" in this blog} has either the seventh or the eighth largest population in the USA. San Diego overall has a true multiple mystique that includes small town – almost hick town – sensibility, border town awareness, shadow of the huge city up north inferiority, all the while plainly recognizing itself as a surfers delight, as that place where "I plan to keep this job only until surf's up again, so why bother to do it well?"

With its oversight of air, land, and sea, the Unified Port of San Diego meant 1–flying out of and into Lindbergh Field to and from Tucson more times than I can count. It sometimes lead to 2–walking across the international border for a day of bargaining, purchasing, and savory comida local because I had papers. For several years it meant driving to the international border for posada sin frontera that provided temporary respite, a short-term home for the Holy Family on their way to Bethlehem; symbolically posada sin frontera also announced solidarity with and sanctuary for all strangers, sojourners, or travelers, documented or not. I've already written about the 3–place of ships or Embarcadero in this series.

The Pacific coast of San Diego is a place of wild imaginings because you know it stretches further than anyone possibly could see. Ocean Pacific is where you can't help but "still feel small when you stand beside the ocean" as Mark Sanders' and Tia Sillers' "I Hope You Dance" implores. The far-reaching expanse of San Diego County included concerts in North County, seasonal excursions to Julian to enjoy snow, apples, hiking, day-long and weekend retreats. San Diego County was Thanksgiving Day Dinner with neighbors and friends, with their neighbors and friends.

The San Diego County Fair (formerly Del Mar Fair) became the place where I received multiple awards for my art and design, including a Best in Show and two Best in Class. {I'll photograph my ribbons and rosettes and add them to this post when I retrieve them from storage.} San Diego County meant acceptance into juried art shows and several other presentations of my own design. University City in San Diego County award me a prize for Street Banner contest entry; you know I loved seeing my banners all over that section of town! That was a few years ago, so I imagine all the banners from that year have faded enough they no longer use them.

San Diego County was a place where several churches welcomed me to various ministries. That's a long one I won't even attempt to blog... When this series concludes I'll take some time to illustrate my post more generously, but for now my three header photos are from Vacation Bible School 2013 at Church Around the Corner. The open, casual welcome from pastors and people finally gave me confidence to leave a place that had offered me growth and change, yet at the same time helped me admit I needed more. During fall, winter, and spring I was part of the prepare and serve crew for Thursday evening family dinners; bible study followed, and I got to facilitate whenever senior pastor was out of town. Three summers in a row I taught Vacation Bible School at Church Around the Corner.

That's my summary of San Diego County highlights; stay tuned for City of San Diego.

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