Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Pumpkin Patch

We visited a pumpkin patch this week. Once a dairy farm, it now is a destination for harvest fun; open every day from Sept-Oct.
Acres of orange amongst dying vines make a obstacle course for running.

A pumpkin can become a throne for the littlest pumpkin child.

Which woman is scarier?

All farm hands must be able to reach the pedals.

     The best part was the corn maze designed like a map of Washington state with the pathways labeled like our major highways. Everyone enters, via hay wagon, in Idaho and must exit in Gray's Harbor. I-90 is a straight shot across the middle of the maze. You can take a more scenic route which walks you through Puget Sound.

You certainly can stop over and visit an Island or two. Here we are next to Vashon.
The farm also offers miniature golf, a bouncy pad, go carts, and a pig train.

Last but not least the food was delicious and very reasonably priced. I will go there again, for sure.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What Is Being Authentic?

    My Hibiscus plant is peculiar. She puts out one blossom at a time, for three days duration, then falls off. It is the second day that it opens wide, wholeheartedly wide. Other flowering bushes hold their blossoms longer, but this is authentic to the Hibiscus.

   My class encompasses the ideas of authenticity this week. Are we authentic with those around us? Is that like saying, "Are you honest with your fellowman?" I'm asking because I don't have the answers. I do know that I pretend sometimes; to like what I am doing, to be happy when I'm not. Pretending is not equal to being real. It has potential to become real but it also has potential to leave us empty.

     So I have a story to tell. It will help me clarify my own motivations. I wanted to do sometime authentic for my birthday. I came up with the idea to go swimming with my whole family. Swimming is fraught with vulnerabilities for those of us who have body issues, but it also has potential to be  wholehearted fun. What is not to love about being wet, treading water, and splashing others? Our athletic club rents out their swimming pool so I pursued finding a date. They don't rent the pool often, mostly because their times are after closing on Saturdays and Sundays. Saturday's time was way too late for toddlers and so I considered Sunday. Does swimming together as a family break the Law of the Sabbath? I honor that day as a day set aside for spiritual things. I never go swimming that day personally, but would it be kosher as a special family event? I felt it was right for me so I scheduled the pool and announced my celebratory occasion. Then the trouble started. Not everyone was in tune with my plan. I understood and knew it was important for each family to choose for themselves. I was disappointed but chose not to cancel. For weeks I re-thought and re-thought, each time feeling that I should let things be as I planned. On the day of the party, with some members of the family missing, I proceeded to go to the club to set things up. The employee knew nothing about my reservation. He wanted to close and leave. He called the boss. My grandchildren were lined up behind me excitedly talking with each other. Several phone calls later he announced the boss was coming in himself. We rushed in. I watched the children's faces. They were totally open and having such fun. The Dad's were playing with their children. This was what I wanted. A large place to be together without bickering, without distracted parents, just body and soul participation. Was it right? Yes. Will I do it again? Probably not. It left out people I love. It did, however, teach me to stand. My default mode when I am challenged for doing something wrong is to capitulate.

   "Some of us move toward (criticism and shame) by seeking to appease and please."
   This does nothing to move me towards compassion and connection because it is a pretense. It does not require evaluation, just giving in.
    "Others move away, withdrawing, hiding, silencing ourselves, and keeping secrets. And, some of us move against it (criticism and shame) by trying to gain power over others, by being aggressive."
   These reactions move us away from real courage to feel what we feel. To have compassion for what we lack and move us to be more authentically connected to our most important source of truth, the Holy Ghost.
   "Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are."
Brown, Brene (2010-09-20). The Gifts of Imperfection (p. 50).

   To this I add, it is the practice of listening to the spirit. If the Hibiscus could be shamed into blooming longer would the blossom be as beautiful?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Turning Sixty

  Yesterday I reached a milestone. I turned sixty. The next decade seems important to me. I've grown up to be a……..(Ta Da!) creative person. That is what I always wanted to be. To make it official I made an office space for my creativity. Upstairs, in what used to be kids bedrooms I have my own yoga space and art desk.

    It overlooks the yard with falling leaves. I am almost in the canopy. I have a cozy bed to read on and a wonderful desk to write and draw.

       How did we celebrate?  Finding our restaurant of choice closed, we wandered in to the newly opened Sea Breeze Farms Le Boucherie. It is a dining experience. One menu, six courses, everyone eats at 7:00pm. The meal lasts until 9:30. Reservations recommended because the restaurant seats 20 people. We were turned away once, years ago.

        All the food comes with a pedigree. The duck, sausage, beef, and pork were all from the farm. The vegetables from local growers, even the apple juice was made just 50 miles away, Small portions of delicious flavors made us feel just right as we wandered back home.

   With this much time to eat we watched the candles melt down into dripping sculptures. My husband is a great conversationalist, so time was consumed along with the food. While all the other guests raced to the boat we stayed until the waitress warmly thanked us for coming. Bye, bye.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I Am Enough

  This morning, after my husband left for work, I turned off the lights, cozied up with my pillows and tried to go back to sleep. For ten minutes…….I pretended I could do that. My seasonal allergies made me sniff and snort, sorry…too much information, and soon I decided the wiser move was to get up to my office and on to my yoga mat. I love being on the mat but I hate getting there. Moving through down dog seems to move my energy around and within the hour I feel released from the allergy and the mental fog. After yoga I had an hour to do classwork. My art journal work was calling me. Today I made permission slips. These remind me to be intentional about my work, yet allow for the pain of growth.

Then an assignment was to write down the names of those few people who I am safe enough with to carry my shame and fears. There are supposed to be a very few. And there are. Not so much because I don't have wonderful close friends, but because it takes tremendous courage to be that vulnerable with someone. To those few names I owe my sanity. God, please don't take them from me, and when you do, please make me enough to go on.

   I also copied my picture to mount into the journal. The assignment made me feel uncomfortable. I was to write on my palm the words, "I am imperfect and I am enough" with a Sharpie. There it was, black and bold. I had these words with me until the evening when they finally washed off in the shower. They peered out at me when I was teaching piano and felt frustrated with my student. They flashed before my eyes as I walked into the pool for an evening swim. Did I believe them? Intellectually I do! Emotionally they are loaded with baggage.

  As I am learning in this class, courage is from the latin word heart. If we move from the heart our courage is more than toughing out a hard thing, it becomes a vulnerable leap into the unknown. That leap often requires compassion for ourselves and the those we leap with and onto. Truly we move with courage to make deeper connections not merely to push ourselves into the the darkness.


  This is my intention for the first week of class. I see it all around me. A friend opening up about a very difficult experience, my son taking care of his sick wife and being the "mom" to his children, my daughter asking for letters from her friends to open on her birthday when she is far away, all these acts of courage, compassion, and connection make me eager to watch and act, myself.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

First Day Of Class

   My e-mail inbox has all the links for the first day of class. Before I click I need to write down what I think I might learn from taking this course based on "The Gifts Of Imperfection" by Brene Brown. Ten days ago, when I paid for the class I was very excited to begin. After reading the forward to her book I wrote down the questions she asked herself about the wholehearted people she interviewed. I have those same questions.

What did these folks value?
How did they create all of this resilience in their lives? 
What were their main concerns and how did they resolve or address them? 
Can anyone create a Wholehearted life? 
What does it take to cultivate what we need? 
What gets in the way?

Brown, Brene (2010-09-20). The Gifts of Imperfection

   I will refer back to these questions as I journey through these next six weeks. My good friend handed me this leaf as we commented on the amazing color of her bush. The leaf, which had fallen to the ground, was waxy and firm. I noted the wholehearted color, the connected veins reaching outward, and the imperfections. This will be the symbol of my journey. In the autumn of my life I desire firmness, wholehearted color, healthy veins that reach outward to connect, and belief that my imperfections will be made perfect through my faith in Jesus Christ.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fall Colors

I saw a tree on fire and wondered at the exquisite drama of these autumn days.

    Do landscapers know what fall leaves will look like when they plant a long row of trees? Do they visualize the parade of color?

   "What a discovery! She could not get a satisfactory answer from anyone about what in heaven’s name these flowers thought they were doing, showing up here at the cold beginning of autumn, leafless and unprotected, just when all else was dying. “They are autumn crocuses,” Beatrix told her.

Yes, clearly and obviously they were— but to what end? Why bloom now? Were they stupid flowers? Had they lost track of time? To what important office did this crocus need to attend, that it would suffer to put forth bloom during the first bitter nights of frost? Nobody could elucidate.

 “That is simply how the variety behaves,” Beatrix said, which Alma found to be an uncharacteristically unsatisfying answer. When Alma pushed further, Beatrix replied, “Not everything has an answer.”

                   Gilbert, Elizabeth (2013-10-01). The Signature of All Things: A Novel (p. 60).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fall Zoobie

We had another visit to the zoo. We are zoobies, you know. Not zombies, as the spell checker would like you to think. On a partly cloudy day, the clouds parted just for our time there.

   I love checking on Kali, the Sumatran Tiger Cub. We have been watching her grow. This week she was out of the nursery and into her own habitat. I marveled at her paws, which are huge and hint at what an awesome tiger she will be.

    William Blake leaves us with the sobering question, "Did he who made the lamb make thee?'

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pop Up Foldables

   One of the challenges of teaching is to vary activities so that all learning styles have an opportunity to flourish. One of my seminary students last year loved when I occasionally added arts and crafts. She listened and comprehended much better when she had work for her hands. Here is a journal of sorts with pop-up pages.

                                             A small slit in the paper creates a step for glueing on an image.

   Two slits create a added dimension. A lesson about Brigham Young is a perfect example of using two slits to create a comparison pop up.

                                            The file folder closes easily even when you add four to five pages.

                                               To start, fold a paper horizontally, we call it hamburger style.

                                                    Cut the slit, or slits, on the folded edge.

                           Slide your finger through the holes and bend the paper back to create steps.

   Glue the outside top edge to a file folder or piece of construction paper. Do not put glue along the folded edge. As you add pages glue the top page, outside edges, to the back of the preceding page. Finding graphics is easy when you google Book of Mormon coloring pages or Church History coloring pages. Many of the hits lead you to The Friend but the google search is easier than navigating The Friend site. Some students will want to create their own graphics.

                                                                          Happy Teaching!!!
                            Doing a search for Book of Mormon coloring pages will connect you to The Friend.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Everyone Is An Artist

    When did I stop drawing regularly? I loved crayons, markers, paints, so very much when I was a child. Somewhere I noticed that I wasn't gifted and I quit. What if everyone had a sketchbook and pencil with them? What if drawing was a way to communicate in every day life? I try to engage my grandchildren in art when they come over. If my pencils are on the table, they ask to draw.

   "Things must be kept track of— even things one could not comprehend. Beatrix had instructed her that she must always record her findings in drawings as accurate as she could make them, categorized, whenever possible, by the correct taxonomy."

Gilbert, Elizabeth (2013-10-01). The Signature of All Things: A Novel (p. 61). Penguin Group US.

           Recently, five of us did a study of a fawn. We have two in the yard everyday. Their dimensions and coloring are familiar to everyone who stays at my home. I started with observations and adjectives. Nothing was more pleasing than to hear them comment on the proportions of their fawn and correct themselves with eraser.

                                                              I think art is for everyone.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Bring My Messy Heart

  My sixtieth birthday is coming up. It means something to me, different than other years. I made a few plans. I am going to have a pool party for my grandkids. The whole pool to ourselves to splash, yell, and laugh. I intend to do a lot of laughing. Maybe even a little at or with the yellow submarine, my swimming buddy.
  I also signed up for a 6 week E-Course with Brene Brown, Daring Greatly author. This course will cover the material in her book, "The Gifts of Imperfection", which I've read and look forward to studying more deeply. Her class requires watercolor paints. That was the trigger; and I pushed, buy.

   All that was required was a messy heart. I've got one of those. It has potential to be true-blue but it leaks every now and then.

                   Go here if you want to find out more about this course. I am really excited!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Word Bubble

     If a computer could look through all the words appearing on my recent blog site, what words would appear the most often? It makes me happy that the top words are the very ideas I want to communicate.

                                                  Make your own word bubble here.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Our Own "Who Do You Think You Are?"

   Have you seen the television show entitled "Who Do You Think You Are"? A famous celebrity is invited to go on a genealogical adventure to find mysteries in their family tree. Aided by professional genealogists they make discoveries in data files and ultimately go to the their ancestral homes where they are emotionally brought to a discovery of "who they really are".

                                                                Minne Driver is on the show this season
    Our story would begin with "The Six Siblings", who endured the hardships of World War II. Losing Erich so early changed everything for his wife and little son Lothar. Helena and her daughter Renate, Kurt, his wife and  4 children, and the 3 younger sisters also survived but all survivors were forced to re-locate to West Germany as refugees.


     Enter the star of our show, Ingo, the youngest son of Kurt, who is a "celebrity" in his field of study.  Ingo would be interviewed and would announce that he is looking for the name of his great, great-grandfather. The Titze line research has been at a stalemate with Ernst Robert Titze, born in 1855 for years and he always wondered about who Robert was and where he came from. The show's genealogist would then ask what steps have been taken to get information from relatives.

                                                              Renate, Goetz, Peter, Lothar, Ingo, and Gaby
      Now, the saga of the cousins. The six Titze siblings produced six children who are "The Six Cousins", some in the USA and some in Germany.  Ingo would tell of the valiant efforts of continued connection between German cousins and American cousins. He would tell of the many visits to Germany and Renate's visits to America.
   At this point, the host would request a trip to Germany to meet Lothar again.  Lothar was visited for the first time by Ingo last year and Ingo shared some family history about his father Erich.  Ingo would hope to introduce  members of his family,  share a meal and more family insights.  To his delight, his cousin connected  with him in a deeper way than before.  The two, seventy something year old, men  shared personal experiences of being  refugees and their new life after war. After dinner, Ingo found out that the information he shared a year ago was deeply appreciated so much that it prompted Lothar to do research.  This time Ingo's cousin  was prepared  to share a box of picture albums, not seen before, given by his aunt.  He also filled out the fan chart given to him by Ingo as a gift the year before.  On the chart, Ingo and his daughter noticed "a gift "-  there were 2 names never before seen written in, as Roberts parents.   Gasps were heard and  tears starting to well up .  After a commercial break, a scene would open again with the celebrity’s daughter, Karin, explaining in tears that her Aunt Gaby spent hours looking for these names.  Ingo exclaimed with joy "I finally know who my Great Great Grandparents are!"   Could this cousin have the missing link? Alas, it is true. Upon arriving back on American soil the e-mails blasted the documents and translations across the sea. You can see the highly coveted birth record of Gustave Hermann Titze, son of Robert here.

  It reads something like this in english:
Birth Record
The undersigned civil officials hereby verify the the midwife Mrs. Anna Hauder nie Schmidt living in Johnsdorf reports a birth in the afternoon on 18 December 1881 to Henriette Tietze nie Kindler, Lutheran, wife of master Blacksmith Robert Tietze, Lutheran, living in Johnsdorf. The male child was named Gustav Hermann.
Civil record recorder  Barthsch
This copy was re-issued  in 1926.
A handwritten note on the left side reads:
A legal name change was made in Landeshut for this child pronouncing the surname Tietze instead of Titze. 

The second jaw dropping document was a marriage certificate between Ernst Robert Titze and Henriette Kindler. You can see that here. That document produced the mind blowing information giving us the next generation, Robert Titze's parents. Mind you, at this point in the show there are tears and moments of pregnant silence. 
  It reads something like this in english:

Marriage certificate No. 3 from Seiffersdorf on 11 May 1880. We hereby certify that blacksmith apprentice Ernst Robert Heinrich Tietze, born 10 March 1855 in Kammerswaldau, Kreis Schoenau, living in Seiffersdorf , Kreis Schoenau, son of renter and helper at the mill, Johann Heinrich Tietze and his wife, Johanna Luise nie Andretzky from Kammerswaldau 

and Ernestine Henriette Kindler, Lutheran, born 5 December 1857 in Kammerswaldau , daughter of the late, farmer and landowner, Christian Benjamin Kindler and his wife Christiane Juliane nie Simon from Streckenbach, Kreis Bolkenhain
The witnesses were Master Blacksmith Johann Wilhelm Schroeter 46 years old, living in Sieffersdorf and Landowner or Lord of the manor Christian Heinrich Haensch age 50 Living in Streckenbach.

Signed by Ernst Robert Titze and Henriette Kindler

Copy made in 1926 in Seiffersdorf

   After much rejoicing the genealogists go to work with the new info. Luckily the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Genealogical Library is a short drive away. Our celebrity's wife and daughter giddily go to find the microfilm associated with the place where Ernst Robert Titze was married. They begin to scroll through countless pages of black and white, old german script. Their stomaches get queazy as the pages scroll by. There is a bit of sheer insanity in these searches and often husbands and children lose their mothers into the depths of the library walls. But the luck of the Germans is with them, (whoops, is that the Irish?) and they recognize the Titze name and snag two more important documents.
  The image is e-mailed to our celebrity, who is a scientist, and painstakingly, translates these two new papers. Another marriage is discovered. This time it is the marriage of Ernst Robert's sister Louise. Hey he has a sister!
It reads something like this:

14 November 1881
Ernst Wilhelm Krause
Born 2 September 1857
Lives in Seiffersdorf as a servant
Son of servant Ernst Gottfried Krause and Johanne Beate Stumpe
Who lives in Kammerswsldau
Louise Auguste Pauline Titze
 born15 June 1857
Born in Kammerswsldau
Daughter of Johann Henrich Titze and
Johanne Louise Andretsky
Ernst Krause age 55 from Kammerswsldau
Robert Titze age 26 living in Johnsdorf in Kreis Landeshut

  Then our celebrity translates the last record and finds to everyones surprise that it is a death record for our initial discovery, Johann Henrich Titze. With some awe he finds his parents listed and another generation opens up. More drum rolls!!!!

It reads something like this-
Cammerswaldau, 11th of July 1882
Millworker Gustave Titze, from Maiwaldau, No.147, personally gives notice that his father, Johann Karl Heinrich Titze, age 55 years and 5 months, from Kammerswaldau, Lutheran religion has died. He was born in Gruebel, Kreis Jauer and is survived by his wife, Johanna Luise Andretzky. The parents of the deceased are Samuel Gotthilf Titze and Johanne Eleonore Kallert who died in Gruebel, Kreis Jauer. He died in Kammerswaldau on the 5 July 1882 in the afternoon.
Notice made by Gustave Titze on 11 July 1882

Well, the hour long show is over but aren't you just reeling? Who said genealogy is boring? In closing our celebrity is renewed and excited about finding new information and looks longingly at a picture of his grand-parents, Anna Hoppe Titze and Hermann Titze.

                                                               Ja, dass ist gut!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Nurturing Something New

     Over the years, I have developed a reputation with my husband as a careless caretaker of plants. He claimed he could tell my mental state by the state of my houseplants. It was true that I stopped watering when my mind got too cluttered. As the plants dropped their parched heads my own spirit thirsted for refreshment.

     When I brought home the Habiscus bush and placed it in the bathroom, he merely raised his brow. True, it is a tropical plant but the bathroom has a tropical climate. Right? My plant came with blossoms ready to open. Within a week they dried up and fell off.  I was disappointed. I watered, fertilized, and waited. Their growing season goes through October.

     New buds finally appeared, five to be exact. I was thrilled. I noted how they reached for the light.
And this morning, this sunshiny morning, one opened.

    I live in a mortal condition that is not perfect for my development. I yearn for the light. I am grateful for nourishment and refreshment from a divine source. And I struggle to reach my potential. My gardener is perfect. He never forgets to water, only sometime I forget to drink.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Perfecting The Pie Crust

       My son and I went to a pie making class at an Eat Local grocery store. The idea was to learn how to make a crust from scratch. It seemed like a skill worth learning well, as the season for pies is coming.

          The recipe was simple but the technique is everything. We used 2 1/4 + 2 T pastry flour, 13/4 sticks of  cold butter, 7 T of ice water, and 1/2 t of salt. A flaky crust comes when the butter is not completely worked into the dough, hence the cold butter and cold water. You can work these ingredients with your hands or put them into a food processor for about 20 seconds until the mixture resembles peas. At that point we heeled the dough a tiny bit, pushed into the dough with the heel of our hand, and formed it into two balls which were refrigerated for at least 1/2 hour.
       We rolled out the dough making sure the dough never got stuck to the board. That meant plentiful flouring under and on top of the dough. The filling recipes used cornstarch which turned out to be better than flour.

  We each made a pie, mine was apple, my son made blueberry. We took them home ready to bake.

   Eat Local is a store that makes ready to heat food with only local, organic ingredients. The class was held in the back of the store where they prepare the food. The baker was very skilled and quick, a little disorganized, but very fun to be around. Our class mates seemed very excited to make their own pies for evermore.