December 21, 2006

Little Jack Horner
sat in a corner,
eating his Christmas pie.
He stuck in his thumb

and pulled out a plum,

and said,
"What a good boy am I!"

I was surprised to hear so much whining from family and friends over the dirth of news in my "Little Jack Horner" card this year--and I'd sent so few out, too! So I decided to resolve the complaints by writing a Christmas letter on my blog. Here goes...

Many of you have asked about my new house. I've been here a year, and still settling in. It was downright cozy during the big snow storm the day after Thanksgiving. Some of you heard about it on the news. I had snow banking as high as four feet!

A big contributor to feeling more settled is my friendship with the Alesees, owners of Birch Bay's famous C Shop. It's half a block off the beach and just down the hill from me. During the summer Patricia hired me to work part time in the candy side of their candy shop and cafe, and I enjoyed looking out the window every time I scooped ice cream. I was able to keep tabs on the tide and seaside activity--one of the finest summers the Northwest has had in years. We broke all the records for sunshine and heat! A great time to be scooping ice cream, making snow cones, and snitching Patricia's peanutbrittle crumbs!

The C Shop
in the old Birch Bay Resort Hotel
afe on the left, kitchen in the middle, candy shop on the right
Pat and Pat live upstairs

I live behind, up the hill, under the moon

Because the HePat and ShePat have lived here so long, I was introduced to all the locals. At times I felt myself a character in some sort of story book, for the atmosphere is a decided side step in time and perfectly delightful. I was/am surrounded by characters of all kinds that really ought to be in a book! And so I've got this Cozy Mystery series splish-splashing around in my head. It's like right there, but not.

Patricia and I walk the beach and she tells me about the history and all the stories. I borrow her printer--mine was carried out to the garbage in a body bag, hemoraging ink all over the place. Sometimes the three of us--the two Pats and I--go for dinner, a play, a movie. The best, though, is that Patricia invited me to join her writing group. The writing is good, the girl talk fun. I really do enjoy having so many writer friends, and so near me.

I made my first venture back into writing by going to Mt. Hermon last spring. The industry has changed so much I felt a bit like Rip Van Winkle. It remains to be seen whether or not Wilbee is officially Hasbeen.

Before I quit, I have to tell everyone about the plum in my own Christmas pie of 2006. Her name is Evelyn Rose; she was born September 28, my first girl after four boys! We are all tickled pink to have her. Kudos to Katie!

My delight in Evelyn Rose, however, does not diminish my delight in the boys. Rome will be 5 next month, a percocious conversationalist who thinks big things. Nathan is 4 1/2; he lives in his head, his imagination a fascination, and reminds me every time I see him how much he's like his dad. His wheels are spinning, unseen. Kodiak is 2 1/2, a pill. He has to be, to circumvent big brother Rome. Jamie is 2, a cherub child who comes up quietly, tugs on your hand, and cuddles into your arms. Here they all are, lined up on the sofa--only Jamie doesn't suck his thumb and his mama took away his pacifier.

Kody & Jamie & Rome & Nathan

So that's about it for me! Hope this satisfies your curiosity.

Hoping you all find a plum in your pie this year. Merry Christmas and the very best of a Happy New Year!


October 01, 2006

Old Woman's Day

Today is International Very Good Looking, Very Damn Smart Woman's Day, so says Jane. She sent me one of those very-irritating-emails I normally delete. But, because Jane's a new friend, and to humor her, I scrolled down instead of deleting and found the sentiment worth thinking about.

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the inten
tion of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO what a ride!'"

I remember the day my son Blake talked the Chinese ticket-taker at the Great Wall into letting him shoot down the mountainside in their tin bobsled run, a quarter mile or more of snaking switchbacks, a real-live shoots and ladders game. The old guy made everyone stand in line for ten minutes while the guy getting on just before Blake made the bottom, thus clearing the way for Blake. Grin on his face and raring to go, Blake was on his way. From up top, we could hear him whooping and hollering all the way down, his voice and echos trailing behind like a thousand kite tails; now and then we caught blurred images of him careering downhill through the trees. What a ride!

When it came to my turn, I actually dared to let up on the brake and allow myself to hurtle so fast that the spotters along the way "thumbed down" in frantic signal for me to slow down. No way! I got to the bottom all wobbly with the adrenalin rush. Two old equivilents to London's White Tower Beefeaters, only with no teeth, left Blake's side and animated chatter to flank me. Blake came over and, with a very odd grin on his face, translated. "They think you're hot."

Ah! Is that what skidding side
ways into the grave is like? What I'm trying to figure out right now is, How did I forget that lesson?

Thanks, Jane!

September 30, 2006

fear and faith

Bruce Larson, my former pastor at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle, used to ask, "What would you do in life if you weren't afraid?"

I'm reading Katie's Life of Pi and Yann Martel deals with this a lot via his main character Pi. Pi is sharing a lifeboat on the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger, and probably someone who knows a little about fear--and faith. Pi says:

I must say a word about fear. It is life's only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy. It goes for your weakest spot, which it finds with unerring ease. It begins in your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubts meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out. But disbelief is a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble. You become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured. Reason is fully equipped with tthe latest weapons technology. But, to your amazement, despite superior tactics and a number of undeniable victories, reason is laid low. You feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread.

Fear next turns fully to your body, which is already aware that something terribly wrong is going on. Already your lungs have flown away like a bird and you guts have slithered away like a snake. Now your tongue drops dead liken opossum, while your jaw begins to gallop on the spot. Your ears go deaf. Your muscles begin to shiver as if they had malaria and your knees to shake as though they were dancing. Your ear strains too hard, while your sphincter relaxes too much. And so with the rest of your body. Every part of you, in the maner most suited to it, falls apart. Only your eyes work well. They always pay proper attention to fear. Quickly you make rash decision. You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There, you've defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.

...your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.
But if Pi dwells on fear, he also speaks of faith.
Faith in God is an opening up, a letting go, a deep trust, a free act of love--but sometimes it was so hard to love. Sometimes my heart was sinking so fast with anger, desolation and weariness, I was afraid it would sink to the very bottom of the Pacfic and I would not be able to lift it back up.

At such moments I tried to elevate myself. I would touch the turban I had made with the remnants of that shirt and I would say aloud, "THIS IS GOD'S HAT!"

I would pat my pants and say aloud, "THIS IS GOD'S ATTIRE!"

I would point to Richard Parker [the tiger] and say aloud, "THIS IS GOD'S CAT!"

I would point to the lifeboat and say aloud, "THIS IS GOD'S ARK!"

I would spread my hands wide and say aloud, "THESE ARE GOD'S WIDE ACRES!"

I would point at the sky and say aloud, "THIS IS GOD'S EAR!"

And in this way I would remind myself of creation and of my place in it.

But God's hat was always unraveling. God's pants were falling apart. God's cat was a constant danger. God's ark was a jail. God's wide acres were slowly killing me. God's ear didn't seem to be listening.

Despair was a heavy blackness that let no light in or out. It was a hell beyond expression. I thank God it always passed. A school of fish appeared around the net or a knot cried out to be reckoned. Or I thought of my family, of how they were spared this terrible agony. The blackness would stir and eventually go away, and God would remain, a shining point of light in my heart. I would go on loving.
Fear dismisses our allies, Trust and Hope. This I understand. But faith as a choice to love? Is Pi right?

A more germain question is Bruce Larson's. How would you live your life if you weren't afraid?

What would you do? Me?

I'm still thinking.
footnotes: Life of Pi, Yann Martel. Harcourt Books, 2001.

September 29, 2006

Evelyn Rose Kent... here! Born September 28 at 7:26 a.m., weighing in at 7 lbs., 4 oz., measuring 19" long. Her mama is doing great, her dada even better. Her granny? Silly question.

Evelyn's big brothers, Nathan and Jamie, were not adverse to the new baby, and seemed for a few minutes quite taken with her. But the moment passed and next thing the grandmas and grandpa knew, Evelyn Rose's big brothers were racing around and around their mama's privacy curtain.
So Granny Bee left the new arrival to her other grandma and her grandpa to go "es'ploring."

Nathan knew exactly what he wanted to do. Not only was he specific about the agenda
, he had further instruction. "I want to s'plore a hole in the woods." I took him to the River Walk along the Snohomish River and we spent a pleasant fall afternoon walking along the river, under the golden trees. Feeling a little worn out, I stopped by Fred Meyer to pick up the new release of Curious George on DVD--a perfect day, I hope, for the boys. A perfect day for me for sure.