January 18, 2013 | 0 comments

There have been many excellent cooks in my family, including grandmothers, mothers, and our daughter.  I know how to cook, but I don’t always follow a recipe. I’ve made a couple hundred meatloaves over the years, and Rick claims they’ve all been good, and all different.  He’ll say, “You can’t duplicate that one, can you?” Ah, well, who knows what went in them?  I don’t remember.  Whatever was in the fridge and cabinets.  I made spinach soufflé when neighbors came to dinner and the husband dubbed it “Green Death”.  He had three very large helpings.  No, he did not die.  I presented a beautiful “European” salad one evening and my eldest son asked me if I’d been weeding. 

Cooking is all about experimentation.  Isn’t it? 

Recently, a friend made a delicious beef stew based on a recipe of Carbonade Flamande-Dutch, Belgium origin.  It called for all kinds of ingredients, including dill pickle juice and an anchovy!...

Read More | Leave a comment or a question
January 11, 2013 | 0 comments

I may be a native Californian, but I often find myself shaking my head. 

“Medical marijuana” is being grown all over the place, inside houses and out.  My brother lives up in the Green Triangle.  Over the past few years, his picturesque little town nestled among the giant redwoods has begun to look like the movie “Deliverance”.  I went up for a visit not long ago and took a nap on the sofa.  The window was open and I thought I smelled a skunk.  The scent was so strong I was afraid to lean my head out the window. Later, my brother asked if I’d noticed the smell.  Oh, yeah!  His neighbors are growing pot, a field of it.  For medicinal use, of course. 

No walking in the woods anymore.  Some growers have trip wires, guards with guns and pit bulls to guard their plants. 

Not that the growers are limited to his remote area.

No one seems to believe or care that marijuana is a gateway drug to other more...

Read More | Leave a comment or a question
January 4, 2013 | 0 comments

Rick and I attended the International Conference on Missions not long ago, and sat in on every session to do with sex trafficking.  A friend in ministry told me the crime is increasing in Northern California, and we wanted to find out what we can do to stop it.  Frankly, we were shocked to find out how rampant this crime has become and how cunning the predators are. 


Warning:  This blog is not for the faint-hearted, but forewarned is forearmed. 


What is happening?


Girls between the ages of 12 – 14 are primary targets for sex traffickers.  Predators (gangs and cartels) don’t come after them openly.  They use a “bottom bitch”; a girl who is usually attractive and in her teens and connected to the predator.  The BB will go into a mall and strike up a conversation with a girl, then begin an on-line friendship.  Facebook is a primary tool.  Girls love to chat...

Read More | Leave a comment or a question
December 28, 2012 | 0 comments

December 26 always finds me in the throes of post-Christmas blues.  I don’t want to put away the ornaments and take down the tree.  I don’t want to put away the Christmas music, Christmas movies, Christmas books.  It’ll be another year before I can bring out the bright red Swedish candlesticks, the Russian nesting dolls, the two foot brass tree with tiny ornaments that represent all the children in the family.  I’ll miss the scent of pine, not to mention the cookies, candy and leftovers from the family gathering.  At least I can still enjoy reindeer punch (ginger ale and pomegranate juice). 

The only thing that helps pull me out of the doldrums is pondering the new beginning right around the corner:  January 1, 2013.  A time to reboot.  A time to step up to the starting line and begin another marathon.  A time to refresh and rejoice. 

The new slate keeps my mind occupied with laying out a plan (not written in...

Read More | Leave a comment or a question
December 21, 2012 | 0 comments

Rick and I were married on December 21, 1969.  Looking back now, I wonder how we could have done such a thing to my parents.  A Christmas wedding?  Within months after they resettled (in a trailer) and started building (by their own hands) their retirement home in the Applegate Valley of Oregon?  I did most of the planning because Mom was far away.  Rick had little say because he was serving as a Marine at El Toro at the time.  I was a women’s libber then and had the word “obey” cut out of the ceremony.  All Rick needed to do was get to the church on time.  His superior officer thought it a joke to delay the request for leave until Rick made it clear he’d go AWOL if necessary.  Ah, the romance of a man on the run from the military, so he could marry the girl he loved, and then go back and serve time in the brig.  Thankfully, that didn’t happen. 

It rained, but cleared up just before the wedding, a beautiful candlelight...

Read More | Leave a comment or a question
December 16, 2012 | 0 comments

Shortly after Rick returned from Vietnam, he and I, with his parents, went to a Christmas cinematic presentation of “Ben Hur” in San Francisco.  The theater was magnificent, red velvet seats, an enormous screen, all the gilt and glamor of what movie theaters used to be.  It was the first time Rick held my hand.  “Ben Hur” became indelibly fixed in my mind as something special.

Last night, Rick and I watched the movie and enjoyed it as much as we did forty-four years ago.  Judah Ben Hur’s story is interwoven with Jesus’ throughout the entire movie, but it isn’t until the end Judah Ben Hur encounters the Christ.  I still get choked up and teary when Jesus goes to the cross.  I still get goose bumps when the storm comes, ripping trees up by the roots, wind howling and Miriam knows Jesus has died – and within moments, Miriam and Tirzah are miraculously healed of leprosy.  I still cry at the end when the blood of Jesus runs down the cross,...

Read More | Leave a comment or a question
December 7, 2012 | 0 comments

Some years ago, I went to a small, one-day retreat about simplifying Christmas, based on Unplugging the Christmas Machine by Jean Coppock Staeheli.  The teacher applied her own expertise as a family counselor in practical exercises throughout the day to take a good hard look at what we’ve allowed Christmas to become and what we long for it to be. 

We made lists of all the things we (women) do to make Christmas special for our families.  I apologize if this comes off sounding “sexist”, but for the most part women do the lion’s share of the labor to make Christmas happen.  We shop, wrap presents, write, address and mail Christmas cards, pick up the tree and decorate it – along with the rest of the house.  The “to do” Christmas list is an entire page single-spaced.  By the time Christmas rolls around, Mom is exhausted and feeling let down. 

It’s taken a few years to change how we celebrate Christmas, and there have been minor...

Read More | Leave a comment or a question
December 3, 2012 | 0 comments

I’ve finished my part of the work, and Rick now has the complete manuscript.  He is working diligently with his highlighter pen and pencil at the nook table.   He’s passed me half the chapters, and I will be putting his changes into the computer this week.  As soon as all of his changes are grafted in, I will email the project to my agent who will format it for the editors at Tyndale.  Every chapter is a file and she knows how to put it all together so it can be read on a Kindle.  I haven’t a clue how to do that.

I know and am preparing for more work once my trustworthy agent, her associate and editors at Tyndale get their hands on it.  After months of focusing on the characters and story, I can be too close to see weaknesses.  I know what I want the story to be (in my head), but have I succeeded in putting that down in writing?  Fresh and expert eyes are good.  Some characters may disappear, others get built up.  We...

Read More | Leave a comment or a question
November 20, 2012 | 0 comments

We have so much to celebrate and we have friends willing to share the day.  Like the early settlers and the Indians who helped them survive, we’re all bringing something to the table this year where we will spend time talking about the many blessings we have experienced over the last year and in our hopes for tomorrow.

Thanksgiving isn’t just a day.  It’s an attitude toward life. 

Wherever you are, whatever your circumstances, may you know the unfailing love of God who upholds us through the trials and tribulations of this life and who secured our life eternal through the atoning sacrifice and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.

This and every day is a day that the Lord has made!  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Read More | Leave a comment or a question
November 11, 2012 | 0 comments

It’s always at the beginning and end of a project that I wonder why I ever thought I could be a writer.  In the middle, I’m having fun.  I’m in my groove, zinging along, letting the characters tell their story.  And then I edit.  And then I start putting the changes into the computer, and what’s this?   I discover how a few characters have been acting up or acting out, as it were.  How did I miss this?  I thought I had them under control (ha!), but they’re misbehaving.  They can get on soapboxes.  They can rant and rave and repeat themselves.  Actually, I love it when characters take over -- until the end when I see how far they went.  That’s when my conversation begins.  Oh, will you be quiet!  Oh, no, you’re not going to say that! What’s going on in that head of yours? You sound like a dimwit.  Enough with the attitude! Oh, dear, what’s my sweet editor going to think about what’s going on here?  I’m...

Read More | Leave a comment or a question