Saturday, November 12, 2011


Working with some friends to help find resources for a young mom & babe has me thinking about nets, of which I know very little...nets. But I do know that nets of safety are real, and really needed. Especially as the persons I'm thinking of, even just when looking at public transportation systems, are being told 3 conflicting stories about how it will (and won't work) in your scenario. Or, when your employer (even if it's a popular chain) indicates that you'll be fired if you don't show up, even if your baby is sick. But daycare can't take the babe if sick. And if you get sick, too, and need to take care of you and the baby, and will probably lose your job, that takes mountains to get to because of the aforementioned transportation issue, where's your net? Family, neighbors? If your ex abused you (as your own family did, too) and you don't know anyone here and are trying to make a fresh start so your kid (and you, just a kid yourself) can have a better need a net.

There's a system that can help, and it does help, in a lot of ways, but it is stressed and stretched and fragile, and not much help on a day that everything can come crashing in...because you got sick. And the system has to be augmented by people, anyway (or it won't work)...people all the more willing to be community, sacrificing (time, which is already likely stressed, and resources, already likely stretched) together (so one doesn't become depleted) to create something strong and new, a better safety-net for one dangerously missing.

Net-weavers, and brave moms, and kids who'll get a chance because of them--they need you and me to stay connected.

From FB notes 8/25/11

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mary Lynn

A really precious Austin friend has passed on. Everyone should be so blessed to have a Mrs. Harr in their life--her friendship has left an indelible imprint. Some thoughts and recollections:

The Heart of the Matter (from Parent's Corner, Chimes newsletter 1/08)

When I first met Mrs. Harr, I thought of my time with her as a kind of gift, meaning, I would give to her. She is elderly and, having suffered from MS and other numerous ailments for decades, she is mostly bed-ridden. Most of her family has pre-deceased her, and she lives in a small, sparse (but cheerful) subsidized apartment. From the surface, she seems to have nothing and be in need of everything, so my husband Jeff and I would try to stop by for a brief visit, bring her meals, etc. What started out as a relationship based on our giving, in turn, became a treasured friendship and a lovely us.

We discovered that Mrs. Harr uses her joyful spirit to share God's love with those she encounters. She uses her sorrows to do the same. Once, concerned about how Mrs. Harr would spend a holiday, we learned she would spend her day with strangers, by volunteering for a suicide hotline. Also, with hardly a new nightgown or robe, she willingly gives her "widow's mite" to those more in need. On one occasion, I overheard her speak to another stranger, a delivery person, about the comfort of knowing God. Her comments to this young man were not patronizing, rather, they were gentle, pure and true. I have many other Mrs. Harr anecdotes like these. She has personally encouraged me (and Jeff) through many life seasons. Currently, she calls on a regular basis to sing "Jesus Loves Me" to our son. Have I painted a picture of this precious woman? I hope so.

Add to your image a splendid smile, a healthy sense of humor, and an affinity for music by Rod Stewart and Flock of Seagulls (Mrs. Harr adores the 80's)! This woman with seemingly little to offer by modern standards is truly a masterpiece of God's creation. I'm so glad to know her, and through her, to further learn the lesson that it is a good and imperative thing to look beyond appearances. I want my children to know this, too. May we all seek to look at the hearts of those around us. And, may we be surprised by what incredible beauty we see.

Mary Lynn and MJ

Mary Lynn Harr. MS patient for years, which meant countless other ailments over the course of this disease, frequently bed-ridden, at other-times wheel-chair bound. But, when her body let her, full of spunk. When Michael Jackson passed away, she told me her Thriller story. It was some kind of Thriller anniversary and Mrs. Harr decided to roll herself to the event happening at the drafthouse cinema behind her apartment complex. Everyone was to wear a white glove. She couldn't find one, but didn't want to miss out. Medical latex glove to the rescue... Lights, action, time for everyone to dance and sing-along. She waved her latex-laden hand in the air like she just didn't care. She said she made so many wonderful friends that day. That was she rolled.

We'll miss and love you always, Mrs. Harr. You rocked our world...

walk on

"Not everyone is able to walk, but most people can, which makes walking one of the most easily available spiritual practices of all."

"Where you are going is not as important, as counter-intuitive as that may seem."

"'I began to feel at peace in my body again after being very angry that it had let me down,' the woman explained."

There's more greatness in Taylor's delighting, insightful An Altar in the World. A worthwhile read. I love the story about this particular woman, and her comment resonates with walking (poquito running some of it, because my friend Michelle "made me") a half-marathon last year. I was super tired (like almost all the time, from PCOS and thyroid stuff--on the mend now, and neither condition is comparable to the immeasurable hardship the woman in the book went through, but, for me, it was a frustrating time) and I felt that I just needed "to cross a finish line." So I signed up for a race, conveniently in NoCal, so I could walk near sweet wineries with sweet Michelle.

The finish line was, of course, fabulous. The best part, though: the walk.

From FB notes 6/14/11

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Kale, Glorious Kale

I had heard of kale chips but actually never tried them till at a friend's house last week. Ooh, very delish and addicting. What a great way to use a vege that sometimes confounds me in our csa share. Following is a very easy recipe for this fun and healthy snack. Followed by another for Zuppa Toscana, a hearty soup using fabulous Vitamin C & A rich kale. Buon appetito!

Baked Kale Chips

1 bunch kale
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse and thoroughly dry the kale (salad spinning followed by air-drying on a towel works great), remove large stems, toss with olive oil in a bowl, then sprinkle with sea salt. Arrange leaves in a single layer on a large baking sheet & bake for 15-20 minutes, or until crisp. Let cool and enjoy.

Zuppa Toscana

1 lb turkey sausage
sliced red potatoes
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 cups kale, chopped
2-3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 quart water
1 cup milk
ground pepper to taste.

Cook sausage and set aside. Place potatoes, chicken broth, water, onions & garlic in pot, and cook on medium heat until potatoes are done. Add sausage & pepper to taste and simmer another 10 min. Lower heat and add kale & milk. Heat thoroughly & serve.

Some Zuppa Toscana recipes call for cream, but 2% milk worked well here. Also, Jeff, who can't have onions & garlic (such a bummer), found his onion & garlic free soup very tasty and even better the next day. Kale is flavorful, wonderful stuff!

Note: both recipes adapted from a variety of sources.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I've been catching up on hee-larious 30 Rock of late. That's right, already hitting New Year's goals hard. Thank you, Netflix. I love the episode when Jack and Frank bond over their absentee dad history (“Goodbye, My Friend”). Their connection is juxtaposed by the friendship Liz forms with a pregnant young woman and her understandably super-freaked-out boyfriend.

The episode was timely. I have a recent FB status that goes like this: “While dropping Carter off at preschool this am, he told me that he was going to play in the 'house' center today. And be a dad. A good dad like his dad.” I'm so exceedingly grateful that Carter & Jessica have an attentive, loving dad. Even as a single dad to Jess, Jeff made great effort to “be there.” It seems, no matter what the family dynamics might be, it's the being there, or “showing up” piece that often means the most.

I received some “return to sender / no longer at this address” mail recently. It was a Christmas card that I had sent to my biological dad. Our shared history is that he was absent from my life till a phone call when I was 15, then absent again till 26, then around for a little while (unfortunately with what felt like unrealistic, presumptive expectations of me, but that's another story), then kind of gone again but leaving me with a PO box address to stay in touch. Thus the holiday cards sent over the past decade. To get one back is like a re-rejection. I'm good, though—at 40, I can honestly say that much of that is processed and I wish him happiness. And I've been blessed anyway with a great family and a lot of love. But what another juxtaposition, to receive such mail, and the sweet moment when my 4 year old son wanted to emulate his “Papa.”

If you relate, maybe watch the 30 Rock episode I'm referring to, and have a good laugh-cry. And if you're a parent wondering about your role in your kid's life, here's my best 2 cents: just be there.