Wednesday, March 27, 2019

March 2019 :: Porch Story

porch stories icon 2019

• Looking outward, contemplating inward from porches around town during the month of March. Porch Stories host Kristin wrote about her month of March, as well.

porch stories March 2019 summary 2019

• A couple of Tuesdays ago, LA Metro Conference gathered for Spring Assembly with reps from most of the 21 congregations in this conference – excellent food, excellent conversation, excellent ideas. I even got to take a very large serving of homemade spaghetti and four pieces of chicken home with me! God is good, all the time. As one of my fave Cornel West quotes reminds everyone, "We are people of hope. Why do we party on Friday nights? Why do we go to church on Sundays?" Because we are people of hope who think we know the rest of the story, but resurrection from death still always surprises us.

spring 2019 conference assembly spring 2019 conference assembly

• On 22 March every single year (one month before Earth Day), United Nations World Water Day reminds us Water Is LIfe. Again we celebrated World Water Day 2019 by our local Los Angeles River; for the third year in a row, the Green Faith Team planned and sponsored the event that included music by the Water Is Sacred band and a yummy lunch prepared by one of the not far away churches. You can enjoy more of my pictures on this World Water Day 2019 blog post. By the way, how about getting baptized in your local river and then claiming ongoing care and stewardship of that river and its watersheds?

world water day 2019 at LA River

• Because the Los Angeles marathon routed past the church building, we scheduled worship for Saturday evening. I got to accompany Holden Evening Prayer on the piano—such a magical setting of vespers!

LA Marathon city tow zone sign

Holden Evening Prayer accompaniment book Evening collage

• Instead of after-worship Sunday brunch, we had a yummy sandwiches and salad supper and the first ever dessert bake-off that attracted the biblical number of seven entries. Here's the traveling trophy:

Dessert Bake-off Trophy

• A blissful Sunday outing to nearby Madrona Marsh yielded peace and pictures

Madrona Marsh
Madrona  Marsh
Madrona  Marsh
Madrona  Marsh Madrona  Marsh Madrona  Marsh

Kristin Porch Stories Icon

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Silver Meadows Summer :: Emma Otheguy

Silver Meadows Summer on Amazon

silver meadows summer book coverTwo roads diverged and I had to choose one of them (Robert Frost), yet there's never a real pathway because we can't see far ahead, so we create our own road as we walk (Antonio Machado). In this post-industrial, digitized world, most of us need to make "what next" choices more frequently than ideally we'd choose. Just as for Carolina's family in Silver Meadows Summer, needing to update plans or take a different path because of disruptions in the lives of family or close friends is common, almost a given.

Very briefly, in Emma Otheguy's new Silver Meadows Summer, family circumstances bring together cousins Carolina and Gabriela along with both girls' parents and Gabriela's friends. Even a casual reader gets to ponder fitting in, cultural differences, life transitions, and survival necessities as they track the narrative. Book cover colors and design evoke an elaborate embroidered tapestry and reflect summer's magic with its enviable weather, slower schedules, natural garden extravagance, spaces for dreaming and imagining.

Carolina's family relocates from Puerto Rico to New York State. You don't need to venture far from your own backyard or explore much of the near-borderless world of the internet to realize cultural anthropology – the word about the people and their overall culture – also speaks about geography and climate. Whether your nearest water feature is Lake Ontario, the Caribbean Ocean, the Mississippi River, or the Mediterranean, if your summers reach a humid 102 degrees most days or your winters snowy near-zeros, weather, water, elevation, and vegetation determine what grows around you, your recreational activities, your architectural and your sartorial styles. Flamboyan trees thrive in places like Cuba and Puerto Rico, not at all in central New York state. Ski resorts bring in the customers and the cash in areas like New York state, but can't happen in the Caribbean.

For some people, where I live in Southern California is home of the 200%—100% American plus 100% Latinx. That's possible because signage in these environs is at least bilingual, as are many people you pass on the street or the freeway. Alongside their burgers and chicken menu items, national fast food chains offer cilantro and agua fresca. Everyone (yes, every single person) knows tacos and burritos hit the (inter)national eatery scene decades ago, but culinary appreciation or even a bit of appropriation isn't the same as having live opportunities nearby for embracing other aspects of a lifestyle; a person can be a 200% only if or when surrounding artifacts support it.

Artist Carolina demonstrates If flamboyan trees don't grow locally, you still can create your own flamboyan(t) art, yet she learns (probably already knew before leaving Puerto Rico) you can't be even 100% Latinx if your classmates and neighbors don't speak español or celebrate quinciñeras, if the nearby Catholic church that's your religious tradition schedules worship only in English. In brief, though of course she'll retain aspects of the Caribbean that's long been part of her, the overall milieu won't support her being both 100% North American and 100% Latina; she'll need to pick and choose, though like the path we make by walking, some of the choices will happen by themselves. As days and weeks go by, a new blended style that's a combination of many will emerge and take root.

So... Silver Meadows Summer reminds us when you relocate to a different city, state, or country, you may need to do as the locals do if you want to fit it, if you want to make friends at school or get a job, if you want a real life. Being cordial to a current or potential boss is basic human smarts and essential kindness; dissing your boss or your teacher is plain stupid. If you're a younger person, even rocking similar clothing and obsessing on the same music as your classmates can be a good starting move. I sometimes consider how I have the code to get into a nearby office complex because they trust me that far and they know I need basic access, but I have neither code nor a physical key to get into any of the offices—someone needs to let me in. In social settings you need to learn and use the key that includes spoken language, clothing style, social conventions—music preferences? If you finesse everything well enough, maybe they'll let you in?

Global internet reach has led to increased cultural awareness, blending and blurring—even a degree of ethnic fluidity. Fusion music and fusion cuisines are here to stay. However, in this story set in today's twenty-first century, the ruckus teen music icon Chiquifancy causes between Gabriela and her non-latina friends makes it clear it's fine for music or sports icons to be ethnic minorities but even now, possibly not okay when an ethnic minority is extremely close to home—a classmate or a potential friend. On the other hand, local ethnic minorities may be just fine if they do everything possible to assimilate to local styles and habits.

Though this book review has focused on cultural aspects of Silver Meadows Summer, special summer activities and summer friendships also are prominent throughout Emma Otheguy's carefully crafted chronicle.

Antonio Machado reminds us, "Traveler, there is no path; you make your own way by walking" while Robert Frost challenges, "Two paths diverged in a yellow road..." Both poets lived and wrote a distance away from their birthplaces; in this physically and culturally mobile world, many people will move away from their places of origin, sometimes to a place with very different habits and customs. Technically this is a YA/middle school novel, yet this story of a summer in the lives of a few young persons is engrossing and close to a roadmap (a path, possibly?) for almost everyone's practice and response.

Friday, March 22, 2019

World Water Day 2019

world water day graphic 2019

• On 22 March every single year (one month before Earth Day), United Nations World Water Day reminds us Water Is LIfe. Again we celebrated World Water Day 2019 by our local Los Angeles River; for the third year in a row, the Green Faith Team planned and sponsored the event that included music by the Water Is Sacred band and a yummy lunch prepared by one of the not far away churches. By the way, how about getting baptized in your local river and then claiming ongoing care and stewardship of that river and its watersheds?

world water day 2019 at LA River
world water day 2019 at LA River
world water day 2019 at LA River
world water day 2019 at LA River world water day 2019 at LA River
world water day 2019 at LA River world water day 2019 at LA River

# # #

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Winter & February 2019

porch stories icon 2019

winter 2019 summary

February 2019 desert spirit's fire

• Meteorological winter is over for the northern hemisphere; Porch Stories host Kristin writes about her full...

Stories from the Porch in February

• Just as at the conclusion of every season, I'm linking to Emily P. Freeman's quarterly reflection.

• With spring on the way, this blog post doubles as a winter summary:

here's December 2018;

• and January 2019.

• I'm still doing my best to deal with more unexpected disappointment along with envisioning future possibilities; part of dealing means finding interesting activities.

• LA Metro has been holding a series of Transit Workshops around town; I enjoyed the one in nearby Inglewood City Hall, and also appreciated a tasty free meal.

• Santa Monica Church in Santa Monica, The Vital Worship Grants Program of the Calvin Institute of Worship, and the Lilly Endowment has been sponsoring Honest to God: Encountering the Psalms.

ª On the third Saturday of February, I had an amazing opportunity to be Ecumenical and Reformed with the Geneva Psalter and its metrical descendants with ultra-renowned John Witvliet from Calvin College and Seminary. Participants even received a copy of Psalms for All Seasons, with several musical settings of each psalm.

• Another stellar presenter, Paul Ford, told us more about Psalms and the Lectionary that I'd previously known on February's fourth Saturday.

• On Oscars night (here in LA, yay!) a couple dozen of us watched Occupation 101 at the judicatory offices and received a Live Generously Thrivent t-shirt—what a great color! We savored a yummy middle eastern dinner, as well.

winter 2019 Emily Freeman

porch stories button

Friday, February 15, 2019

Five Minute Friday :: Confident

Around a year ago and counting backwards, I used to play Five Minute Friday almost every week, but quit when the going got tough. Oh, not the suggested one-word prompts and not my imagination; everyday life in general kept presenting itself to me with too many overwhelms. I barely could crawl, and for sure couldn't add anything more. Maybe you've heard or read about someone doing something "on a lark?" That's what I did this evening when I realized it was another Thursday and larked over to the FMF site. And realized I might like to write about confidence or confidence. BTW, some of the resources for writers FMF host Kate Motaung offers might interest you.

five minute friday confident

Take five:

It's been raining in southern California—not sure if the storm that tapered off then ended this afternoon was the sixth, seventh, or another this calendar year. I didn't need an online resource to figure out confident combines Latin words con=with and fi=faith, trust, belief. I didn't need to think hard to realize i trust my abilities because God gave them to me and provided opportunities and experiences that developed them well. I don't need to think long or tall to remember my confidence the sun will shine again.

It's been eons longer than a day since I've seen myself around town. Am I confident I'll see myself again? No. Not at all. Sometimes my body reels with grief as I sit at the computer working on a client design. Often I get up, go out, take a walk, distract myself any way I can.

I'll be waiting right here for myself until the day I'm home. Back in Previous City, the first time I heard Phillip Phillips' "though this wave is stringing us alone, just know you're not alone 'cause I'm going to make this place your home" moved me to want to search for home again. It was at a Blue Christmas service, and then the song kept playing everywhere I went. I can't make my own home. Will anyone anywhere make a home for me ever again? Waves stringing me along? These waves are triple overheads! I know the sun will shine again, but I have no confidence I'll ever be home again.

five minute friday confident five minute friday new button

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Dusti Bowling :: 24 Hours in Nowhere

24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling on Amazon

24 hours in nowhere coverAs a lover of middle school novels, I enjoyed this adventure that's short in elapsed time, long in lives transformed—though the dense kids in the cave descriptions that completely bored me probably would interest or entice most middle-school kids.

Long ago the Sonoran desert in Southern Arizona claimed my heart. I've passed through Casa Grande that's a named landmark for the book's characters; I've seen urban and remote rural Arizona nowheres. I know all indigenous Arizona-born people aren't from the same nation, and I wonder around the phenomena of the current state of Arizona being and acting both Old South and Wild West, so I easily placed myself in the southwestern geography.

In Dusti Bowling's 24 Hours in Nowhere, European descent White, Indigenous, and Latinx kids all reside somewhere in the tiny place called Nowhere (tiny, yes, yet this Nowhere has two bars); all have experienced fractured and scattered families of origin; all need a future. You don't need to have spent many hours as a parent of teens or tweens or whiled away much time online to realize how mean both girls and boys can be; if you've been on Facebook much, you've likely encountered more than a few chronologically mature adults that chronically personify meanness. Those unfortunates just may be what happens when kids grow up with unchecked meanness.

Especially shared difficulties that necessitate finding a solution together can create understanding and compassion between people of any age, and these kids found themselves in exactly those circumstances. To an extent the narrative plays through in expected ways, but Bowling redemptively brings both flawed and graced humanity into a chronicle that concludes with all the kids knowing each is incomplete without the others, resolving friendship and togetherness during the next school year.

"Our table has an open-door policy," Tohono O’odham girl Rossi said. "Anyone is welcome." [page 256]

my amazon review: a desert adventure in friendship

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Porch Story :: January 2019

porch stories icon 2019

January 2019 desert spirit's fire

• Though I'm still in Southern California, I designed a cold winter header for my January summary blog because most of the USA and Canada are experiencing record cold temps and corresponding unheard of wind chill factors.

• Porch stories host Kristin also writes About January.

• On the actual day of the Feast of the Epiphany, we celebrated the installation of our settled pastor who's served as interim for the past almost three years.

Epiphany 2019

• Epiphany Sunday afternoon, J and I enjoyed a spontaneous excursion to Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden.

Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden
Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden
Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden

• This year's MLK Day celebration was in the nearby city of Hawthorne—all of everywhere around here literally is Los Angeles.

Trinity Church Hawthorne Sign MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019 Trinity Church Hawthorne Tree MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019
Program Cover MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019 Litany of Libations MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019

• Three of the Stained Glass Windows from the our MLK Day host, Trinity Church, Hawthorne.

Trinity Church Hawthorne Stained Glass Window MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019 Trinity Church Hawthorne Stained Glass Window MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019 Trinity Church Hawthorne Stained Glass Window MLK Day Celebration Commemoration 2019

porch stories button