Thursday, June 30, 2011

Social Media Day

So apparently today, June 30, is Social Media Day. At least according to Mashable, the social networking blog--THE social networking blog, more like.

Why June 30? I can't find a reason, but I guess there doesn't need to be one. There are meet-ups planned all over. The one in San Francisco involves going to The House of Air which is (wait for it!) an indoor trampoline park. I don't think they were focused on the middle-aged lady crowd.

But I do like the fact that Social Media Day is all about...actually socializing. You know, like, in person. Which I think gets it right. Social media is meant to be in service of human interaction. I'm glad that to celebrate all these new-fangled forms of technology, the impulse is to get together and have a party with friends.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Women in full

It's time for my yearly campaign to get people to use the full names of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Ross Tubman in the collect for their feast day, four weeks from today. Here's what I wrote about it last year.

The Facebook group I started to promote this now has 52 members, and you're welcome to join.

I also started a Twitter campaign using the hashtag #womeninfull.

I know it's not world peace, but it's about equality and respect, and it continues to rankle me that these women who were all for equality are referred to by a diminutive.

Here's a snippet from Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office (great book!) that explains better than I can why this is important to me.

Whenever I hear a woman answer the phone with only her first name, or leave a voice-mail message that says, "This is Sarah. Please leave your message...," it makes me wonder why she dropped her last name. It's comon among administrative staff--and entirely unnecessary. You will rarely hear a man answer the phone using only his first name*. It's a small but significant difference. Using only your first name relegates you, once again, to a childlike status. Ask a child his or her name and most often you get only the first name. The combination of your first and last name moves you to adulthood.

*The priestly equivalent of that is how often I hear male priests leave a voicemail as "Father X," while female priests often do not claim any title.

Equality occurs in the little things as well as the big ones. How can I believe that the church is interested in men and women being equal in the big things if it can't be equal in the small ones?

Please share the word.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Homeward Bound

You may recall after lovely Georgia died, we took up with a winsome old Golden Retriever named Jed who had been left with Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue after his owner went into the hospital.

Well, this morning we got a call from Homeward Bound saying the owner was out of the hospital and baying for his friend.

So Jed's gone back home to be with the companion of the first 12 years of his life.

It's a happy ending, but I'll miss the old guy. He is grand.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Curse of Christian Niceness

excerpts from a sermon preached June 26

This sermon may not apply to you. But I suspect it will apply to many of us who are afflicted with the Curse of Christian Niceness.

I think you know what I'm talking about, but in case you don't, here is an illustration:

I was recently in a parish where one of the staff members had left and been replaced. When I had worked with that staff person, I found she had been unable to perform the tasks assigned to her, so I thought it was a good thing there was a new person in place. Before the service, I asked one of the servers what had happened. He praised the former staff member saying, "She was good. She was slow...but she was good." I blurted out, "She was terrible!" The server laughed and said, "I was just trying to show I had learned something," and proceeded to tell me about how this staff person had also leaned on him to do her job.

He had indeed learned something: he had learned the Curse of Christian Niceness, in which saying anything critical is perceived as UnChristian.

The gospel for today is the ending to a long chapter full of instructions Jesus gives to the disciples before sending them out. It includes such tidbits as
  • If people don't welcome you, shake the dust off your feet as you leave that house or town (Matt. 10:14)
  • Be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matt.10:16)
  • What you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops (Matt. 10:27)
  • and the classic, Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matt. 10:34)
And yet somehow we've gotten the message that as Christians, we must be nice.

Reading the gospel for today, I had to laugh when I got to the part about how "Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward," since Jesus is very clear that prophets don't get much in the way of tangible remuneration. The righteous don't do much better. Which explains, in part, the Curse of Christian Niceness.

The great reward of niceness is no one chops your head off. No one gets mad at you for saying nice things. The problem is that niceness is one of the more insidious ways we are tempted to gain the approval of the world at the cost of our own souls.

We lie to ourselves and others because to tell the truth isn't nice.
We accept things we find unacceptable because criticism isn't nice.
We stay in places we'd rather leave because to walk out isn't nice.
We are silent because speaking out isn't nice.
We hand over the reins to whoever is willing to run the show because taking charge isn't nice.

Let me be clear: the solution to the Curse of Christian Niceness isn't hostility. I'm reminded of the time a vestry was taught about using "I" statements in order to foster more open and honest communication. One man, not totally clear on the concept, told someone in a vestry meeting, "Well, I think...you're stupid!"

Simply saying whatever is on your mind is not what I'm talking about. It's something much more difficult and subtle than that. It's about being as wise as a serpent and as innocent as a dove. It's about acknowledging the truth about a situation without blame or judgment.

I'm not saying that's easy. But Jesus is not sending us out into the world to be nice, but to do the work of love.

Monday Morning Preacher: Itinerant Preaching

I've preached almost every Sunday this month, a different place each week, and it is finally sinking in how very freeing that is.

One of the things that's great about being an itinerant preacher is that I can tell stories of what happened at one parish to the other (leaving out names, of course). The person referred to isn't in the pews; the parish will only see itself reflected without feeling hectored. Suddenly, the stories are not, "You did this." Instead, they become this universal, "We do this," and it's much safer to say and to hear.

I also find myself willing and able to say things I could not say as a settled parochial priest. Because I am not dependent upon the church for my living, the scope of what I feel I can say has widened. I am more critical of the church; I am less worried about being perceived as doctrinally pure. I am, in short, more honest. And I cannot help but think that that's a good thing.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Various and Sundry, June 24

From a traveling correspondent, I recently learned of Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, OR, which features a Voodoo doll doughnut: "Raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake! (characteristics of Voodoo Dolls are all different)," according to their website. Apparently, the store has been closed for 3 months but is opening again on the 4th of July, so that Portlanders can be patriotically pastrified.

In other travel news, you can Savor the Central Coast this September, including a wine tasting poolside at Hearst Castle. "You’ll feel like a celebrity as you sip wine under the stars and sample tapas beside William Randolph Hearst’s Roman-style Neptune Pool at historic Hearst Castle." Well, I don't know if I'd feel like a celebrity, but I do think it's pretty cool.

Hmmm...seems to be travel on my mind.

Not a lot of obits that caught my eye this week...with the exception of Bill Haast, a professional snake handler who died at the age of 100 of "natural causes," which begs the question, isn't a snake bite a natural cause?

A secret of his success was the immunity he had built up by injecting himself every day for more than 60 years with a mix of venoms from 32 snake species. He suspected the inoculations might have explained his extraordinarily good health, but he was reluctant to make that claim, he said, until he reached 100.


I don't think I'll try his technique.

Book bloggers will appreciate this rant. I can't do it justice with an excerpt. You'll just have to read it.

And finally, for some reason, I cannot get enough of this video. I can just imagine one of my cats doing this very thing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sisyphus

In case you're wondering where I've been, I've been cleaning. Actually, it's mostly not me doing the cleaning, but I've been trying to stay out of the way while other people clean. Houseguests, you know. (That came out wrong; the houseguest is not doing the cleaning.) Stressfully, this particular houseguest was head of housekeeping for the Atlanta Olympics.

So yesterday it was the upholstery guy who worked for 5 hours to clean the sofas and chairs. He said he thinks he got 90 percent of the fur out of the furniture (making it "niture" I guess). I thanked him profusely, paid him, wished him great fun at his daughter's quincenera, waved goodbye, came in the house and found...


Well, you knew that was coming.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Funnies

Made by a Berkeley High School grad who is part of a moviemaking collective, naturally.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Curb Appeal on a block I know

Friends of mine recently had their house re-done by the good folks at Sex Curb Appeal: The Block and very kindly invited me to the wrap party. Let's start with this, shall we?
Sally H., the ridiculously handsome John Gidding, and me, looking goofy

I will not subject you to the huge number of photos I took. Let's just say I didn't see a bad angle on the man.  At one point, I was talking to my friend Heather, who is the homeowner, and said, "He's even better looking in person." She said, "You realize I'm still miked, don't you?" So I leaned over and said loudly, "He's even better looking in person." Probably why he's leaning away from me in the photo as he mutters to Sally through his teeth, "Save me..."

Aside from gazing at John Gidding the wrap party, which was a blast, it was great watching the process day by day as Heather posted the work in progress. I won't go through them all, but I would like to share the before:
and after:

Fantastic! And couldn't have happened to nicer people.

BTW, if you're in the SF Bay Area and want to have one of these makeovers, you can apply for one!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Various and Sundry, June 17

And now for something a bit more light-hearted.

Go the F**k to SleepYou remember I posted something about the book Go the f*@k to sleep about a month ago? Well, there's an audio recording with Samuel L. Jackson. Sadly, Audible has removed the YouTube, but you can still read about it on the Huffington Post.

The Anonymous Historian sent me the link to these fabulous Peep Dioramas from the University of Chicago. My personal favorite was the one showing the Peep parent crying as their peeplings headed off to college.

MD wanted to make sure I saw this article, headlined, This Awesome Urn Will Turn You Into A Tree When You Die:

[The Bios Urn is]a biodegradable urn made from coconut shell, compacted peat and cellulose and inside it contains the seed of a tree. Once your remains have been placed into the urn, it can be planted and then the seed germinates and begins to grow. You even have the choice to pick the type of plant you would like to become, depending on what kind of planting space you prefer.

I wish it were a little less...you know...ugly. But still, mighty clever and a good start.

In more mundane obituaries this week, I laughed out loud while reading about Alan Haberman who helped make the bar code the standard for supermarket scanning. This required some serious diplomacy. To wit:

At one meeting, in San Francisco in the early 1970s, as Mr. Brown’s book reports, Mr. Haberman found a spectacularly good way to smooth dissent. First he organized a dinner at one of the city’s finest restaurants. Then he took everyone to a local movie theater to see “Deep Throat.”

Not long afterward, the committee voted unanimously for the I.B.M. bar code, adopted in April 1973.

And of course I have to pass along the obituary for Henry Lorimer whose "life as a monk came to an abrupt end after two years, when the novice master found fault with his polishing of the brass in the abbey. Lorimer is said to have upbraided him in turn with a large Easter candle before stuffing him into the confessional. The novice master was eventually discovered and revived, but it was suggested to Lorimer that perhaps his vocation was not for the contemplative life." Indeed.

Let us celebrate these fascinating lives with a song from Paul Simon. Thanks to Chaplain Mike at Internet Monk for bringing this to my attention.

Prayers for blogging friends

I have a couple of blogger friends much in my thoughts and prayers these days and wanted to pass their news on to you.

It's Margaret, who comments here regularly and blogs at Leave It Lay Where Jesus Flang It (isn't that an awesome name?), is on sabbatical in Guatemala. She's been posting about her experiences at Camino Segura, an organization that works with the children who live and work in the dump in Guatemala City. What she writes about her first-hand experience there is...I'm not sure what. Revelatory? Chilling? If it has this much impact second-hand, I can only guess how it's affecting Margaret, being there in person.

Meanwhile, Kirstin over at Barefoot and Laughing has kept us all informed about her ongoing fight against cancer. It seems only a few weeks ago when we first heard about the lesion behind one ear, but she's far, far from that place now. Yesterday, she wrote

I’ve been fighting for three years. That’s enough. Just saying, “I want hospice,” gives me so much peace. I don’t need to fight to the bitter end. I don’t need to be a warrior anymore. I can let go as my body wants to, into as much comfort as possible.

I'm praying for immense comfort.

Finally, I learned yesterday that the Anglican Scotist, a blogger I never met personally but greatly admired, died suddenly a couple of days ago from a brain aneurism. He was just my age, 42. Services will be held tomorrow.

My prayers are with all of these folks and their loved ones. May they find abundant blessings and peace forevermore.

Inspiring obituaries

The past couple of weeks have offered several inspiring obituaries, and I don't want to gloss over them in a Various and Sundry post.

As I did last week when I highlighted the obituary for Albertina Sisulu, the mother of the anti-apartheid movement. If you didn't read the obituary then, well, I commend it to you again.

This obituary was shortly followed by one for Clara Luper, the woman who, along with the youth of the NAACP, staged lunchcounter sit-ins in Oklahoma City, 18 months before the more famous ones in Greensboro, SC.

As often happens, the obit ends with a punch:

"[Her father] used to tell us that someday he would take us to dinner and to parks and zoos,” she said. “And when I asked him when was someday, he would always say, ‘Someday will be real soon,’ as tears ran down his cheeks.”
What an amazing gift she gave her father, to help bring that about.

Finally, another inspiring obit for someone I'd never heard of: Mietek Pemper who "typed up the list which helped Oskar Schindler save 1,200 Jews from the Nazis." Well, it was more than that, actually.
In the summer of 1944, as the war turned against them, Pemper found out that the Nazis were intending to close any factories which were not dedicated to the war effort. Realising that this would probably result in the Jews at Plaszow being transferred to Auschwitz, at great personal risk he persuaded Schindler to switch to making anti-tank grenades, and together the two men laid plans to secure a transfer of the enterprise, with as many Jewish workers as possible, away from the camp at Plaszow to a new factory in Bruennlitz in Czechoslovakia. It was Pemper who compiled the famous typed list of 1,200 Jews to be recruited for work “decisive for the Nazi war effort” and transferred to the new factory.
All of which tells me that no great act of justice is done by a single superhero. Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Oskar Schindler were not able to do the work they did on their own.

The Pemper obit makes this point as well, again with a punch at the end:
Pemper’s role was played down in the film, but he did not seem to mind, arguing that the “crucial accomplishment’’ was not the list itself but “the multifarious acts of resistance that, like tiny stones being placed into a mosaic one by one, had made the whole process possible.’’
What stone do you have to offer?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Conan O'Brien explains it all to me

The commencement address that Conan O'Brien gave at Dartmouth resonated with me in many ways, but perhaps most at this point:

"Now, by definition, Commencement speakers at an Ivy League college are considered successful. But a little over a year ago, I experienced a profound and very public disappointment. I did not get what I wanted, and I left a system that had nurtured and helped define me for the better part of 17 years. I went from being in the center of the grid to not only off the grid, but underneath the coffee table that the grid sits on, lost in the shag carpeting that is underneath the coffee table supporting the grid. It was the making of a career disaster, and a terrible analogy.

"But then something spectacular happened. Fogbound, with no compass, and adrift, I started trying things. I grew a strange, cinnamon beard. I dove into the world of social media. I started tweeting my comedy. I threw together a national tour. I played the guitar. I did stand-up, wore a skin-tight blue leather suit, recorded an album, made a documentary, and frightened my friends and family. Ultimately, I abandoned all preconceived perceptions of my career path and stature and took a job on basic cable with a network most famous for showing reruns, along with sitcoms created by a tall, black man who dresses like an old, black woman. I did a lot of silly, unconventional, spontaneous and seemingly irrational things and guess what: with the exception of the blue leather suit, it was the most satisfying and fascinating year of my professional life. To this day I still don't understand exactly what happened, but I have never had more fun, been more challenged—and this is important—had more conviction about what I was doing."

Well, maybe not the cinnamon beard part. Or the national tour part. Or the basic cable part. But the part where I "abandoned all preconceived perceptions of my career path"? That most definitely.

Later in the speech, he talks about how dreams change. And that's most definitely true as well.

I graduated from seminary 10 years ago, expecting to have a life-long career in the church, and now I find I'm a social media and marketing consultant. How did that happen? I don't know, but I feel really good.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A very brief excerpt from my sermon for Pentecost

Here's what struck me about the reading from the Acts of the Apostles:
  • The disciples were all speaking different languages;
  • The people who understood them were outside the place where they were meeting.
This struck me because so often in the Church I see us working very hard to get everyone to speak the same language and spending our time talking only to those already on the inside.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday Cuteness

I'm slowing down on the photo-taking, so you may get something other than puppy pics soon. In the meantime....



woojie woojie woojie

Friday, June 10, 2011

Various and Sundry

Yet another week in which I let other bloggers and writers and artists do the heavy lifting. I'm glad to be busy, but sorry not to have the time to blather on with you.

Let's start with the obit section, shall we? There were a number of good ones this week, but the obit for Albertina Sisulu stands out for her valiance in the struggle against apartheid. Here's the line that killed me:

“I did not mind going to jail myself, and I had to learn to cope without Walter [her husband, who was imprisoned for 26 years],” Mrs. Sisulu once said. “But when my children went to jail, I felt that the Boers were breaking me at the knees.”

The obit ends: "Her daughter Lindiwe Sisulu is the nation’s defense minister. Her son Max is speaker of the National Assembly. Another daughter, Beryl Sisulu, is South Africa’s ambassador to Norway. She is also survived by her son Zwelakhe Sisulu and daughter Nkuli Sisulu."

Just...wow.
Gee, thanks, Dad.


I loved this story about the dad who embarrassed his high school age son by donning costumes and waving at the bus as it passed by every day. Did I mention, every day? Wearing a different costume? It inspired me enough to write a post for the Confirm not Conform blog about how this relates to youth ministry. I love how the Wave at the Bus blog with pictures of all the costumes has a donate button for the son's college/therapy fund.

I thought this article on 10 common mistakes made by non-profits in social media was spot-on...and that they apply equally to churches (with the possible exception of #3). And for churches, I would change #7 to "Ignoring Yelp and other user-generated review sites."

Finally, two visuals. I loved, loved, loved this list of Sexual Assault Prevention Tips:

And I also loved, loved, super-loved this ad from the Alamo Drafthouse. Really, it will make you happy. (h/t Andrew Sullivan)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tuesday Book Blogging

Maisie Dobbs (Book 1)Aha! A new mystery series has made its way into my hands and I am thrilled. The first of the series is named for its protagonist, Maisie Dobbs, a maid-turned-WWI-nurse-turned-private-investigator in 1929 London. And here is your teaser:
Maisie knew that she had found the lover, the man who had caused Christopher Davenham to pay a princely sum for her services. The problem was that the man Christopher Davenham thought was cuckolding him was dead.

Do Unto Otters: A Book About MannersIn other book news, I did manage to finish Do Unto Otters. Given that it's geared at 6-8 year olds, I'd say that's a good thing. I found this book because, for National Donut Day last Friday, I was reminded of my favorite donut protagonist, Arnie, the Doughnut, reviewed by the NY Times here. Do Unto Otters is by the same author and is equally delightful.  I now know how to please, thank you, and excuse me in five languages: Spanish, French, German, Japanese, and Pig Latin.

Enjoy!

And thank you for visiting my blog!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Plain clothes clergy: prone to wander

So there I was, sitting in the back row, having arrived a couple of minutes late for the service, but in plenty of time for the readings, saying the responses in all the right places. I stood up for the gospel. I said, "Praise to You, Lord Christ." I sat down for the sermon.

The preacher said, "Wasn't that the most poignant gospel?" And I thought, "What? What gospel? What did it say?" I never learned. I only looked it up now. And I wondered how many times have I assumed everyone had been paying attention to every reading and not bothered to refresh their memories--if indeed there were any memories there to begin with.

I worry about talking down to people, that by repeating the story I'm suggesting they're stupid. Today I'm thinking I'm just helping them out.

I have no idea what I was thinking about during the gospel, but it wasn't the gospel, that's for sure. I was perhaps still distracted by the person leading the Psalm who intoned, "Let the varnish like smoke." Then he went back to correct himself and said it again! I loved that. Perhaps he was distracted by the wax in the very next line. I'm glad the celebrant was on top of things, anyway!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Various and Sundry, June 3: Prisons, Planters, Pizza, Passings

It's June and schools are starting to let out, but one school superintendent asks the governor of Michigan to turn his school into a prison.
The State of Michigan spends annually somewhere between $30,000 and $40,000 per prisoner, yet we are struggling to provide schools with $7,000 per student. I guess we need to treat our students like they are prisoners, with equal funding. Please give my students three meals a day. Please give my children access to free health care. Please provide my school district Internet access and computers. Please put books in my library. Please give my students a weight room so we can be big and strong. We provide all of these things to prisoners because they have constitutional rights. What about the rights of youth, our future?!
It's a provocative letter.

Considerably less provocative is this terrific blog post at Dirt Therapy on creating a good container garden. The advice is very helpful and the photos, as always, are gorgeous. Isn't that a great planter?

If you have some time, and you aren't already a Daily Show regular, I recommend the show from June 1 for its rant on the proper consumption of New York pizza and its wonderful interview/conversation with Bill Moyers. I've never seen Jon Stewart more upset than when Donald Trump ate his pizza with a fork. "Watch and learn, people. Watch and learn."

In other dining news, the creator of the Flip camera is now starting a chain of grilled cheese and soup restaurants, starting in the SF Bay Area. There's a great blog post in the Times where he talks about the demise of the Flip camera, entrepreneurship, and his plans for The Melt restaurant. The first one opens in August. I can't wait! In the meantime, you can check out the website that will allow you to order your grilled cheese sandwich online.

Finally, two interesting obits. The first, a terrific obit for Dana Brand, 'The Proust of Mets Bloggers,' which is interesting for the way it treats the conventions of obit writing in baseball terms. I know that sounds cheesy, but it's not. Mr. Brand had a sad and sudden passing, and so I am glad he at least gets the royal treatment from the Times.
Dana Aron Brand was born in Manhattan on Sept. 23, 1954, to Brooklyn Dodgers fans. By 1961, the Dodgers had left for Los Angeles and the Giants, New York’s other National League team, had decamped for San Francisco. But a new National League team was coming, his parents knew, and so they dissuaded Dana from rooting for the hated Yankees, even when Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle were chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record. The next year, the boy learned to love the Mets, in all their staggering ineptitude.
The whole thing is lovely.

And finally, the obituary for Rosalyn S. Yalow describes the relentless persistence required of a woman to become a scientist in the first half of the 20th Century. She applied for a graduate assistantship at Purdue and "the university wrote back to her professor: 'She is from New York. She is Jewish. She is a woman. If you can guarantee her a job afterward, we’ll give her an assistantship.'" "When she received an A-minus in one laboratory course, the chairman of the physics department at Illinois said the grade confirmed that women could not excel at lab work; the slight fueled her determination." She won a Nobel prize in medicine, the second woman to win one. The obit ends,
Five years after she received the Nobel, Dr. Yalow spoke to a group of schoolchildren about the challenges and opportunities of a life in science. “Initially, new ideas are rejected,” she told the youngsters. “Later they become dogma, if you’re right. And if you’re really lucky you can publish your rejections as part of your Nobel presentation.”
 You tell 'em.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ascension Day

Oh, how I wish that Jesus had just disappeared! That "ascending into heaven" image is one of the tough ones for me, knowing as we know now (as little as it is) about the vast expanse of interstellar space, and that heaven is not Up There.

And how many hopes were built upon that image of Jesus, and the promise that he "will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."

I have real trouble with "up in the air" Christianity. I'm sorry, but I just think it looks silly.

Strangely, the Luke-Acts account of the event are slightly different. Acts has Jesus "lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight." Definitely an up in the air moment. Luke, however, is a bit more nebulous, to use another cloudy word. Luke reads, "While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven." And lookee at this footnote: "Other ancient authorities lack 'and was carried up into heaven.'"

Even in the up in the air moment, there's a moment of vanishing into a cloud. It's not a straight shot through the atmosphere; there's a part of the Ascension that is hidden from our sight, obscured by a cloud. I can live with that. I can live with obscurity, with nebulousness.

But even more so, I'm grateful for the gospel passage that shows Jesus withdrawing rather than levitating. That's the image I'm going to hold on to on this Ascension Day. There is more than one way in which Jesus vanishes from our sight.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sarah Palin training

I'm giving in to my baser nature and writing a post on Sarah Palin. Actually, it's more on the "lamestream media" because I can't STAND how they are reacting to this situation.

They are chasing the puppy! As I recently learned, when you're training a puppy and the puppy runs away from you, if you chase the puppy, the puppy thinks this is a fabulous game and keeps running. If you want the puppy to come to you, you have to walk away from the puppy.


Let her ride on the back of a motorcycle. Let her travel in her tricked out bus. Do not send your top reporters, CNN, for God's sake! Do not have John King tracking her down. Suggest--heck, maybe even believe you have bigger news to cover. Give her 30 seconds at the end of your broadcasts as if she were some novelty spectacle. Let people tweet her location to you and pick a few of the best ones. Do NOT waste your resources on this! You're just making yourselves look ridiculous.

OK, I'm done now.

Garden Update, June 1--The backyard

A quick update on the backyard where there is LOTS to be done! But let's start with something magnificent:


This is the rose arbor. Yup, that's a rose. You can see the last of the pink blooms on it. Isn't that amazing? Probably 100 years old, that rose, and we're doing our best to keep it happy.

In the arbor itself, you can see a pot. I'm tapping my toes impatiently waiting for the various dianthus (dianthii?) to bloom, so I'm not going to bother with a photo of it until it gets its act together. That will give it some incentive, I hope.

To the right of the arbor:

This rose was just a scrawny little stick when I transplanted it here for no particular reason a couple of years ago. My goodness, it seems to be settled in! I love how it hooked itself into the trellis. Guess I won't be moving it now. And by a small miracle, it works well with the Chinese lantern blooming orange behind it, and the African daisies in front. This has been the "Well, I'll just stick it over here" section for a while. Now that the avocado and banana trees are out (remember them?), this area gets a ton of sun! It will require some thought. In the meantime, we're thinking to put some pumpkins in this section to the right of the rose, just for this year, to get the ground in shape.

Alongside the house:

Let's just say there's potential, there.

The lettuces in the raised beds are coming along, though.

There's also a couple of rows of radishes you can see hiding back there, and carrots in another planter. In the pot behind is an orange tree which is not looking so hot. I need to figure out how to help the three potted citrus trees that are struggling along (two oranges, one lime).

This bare patch:

is where I finally planted some corn last weekend. It took me forever to get the seeds in because this bed had rocks by the bucketful. I had to dig them out, then add compost and amender, then top it with topsoil. So we'll see how this does. It's still pretty rocky in there, but I'm hopeful.

And finally, the apple tree that looked so denuded after its trimming:

is now a picture-book image of an apple tree with fruit all over.

Lots more to come. I'm loving the rain, but hope we get some heat soon. I hear you East Coasters scoffing at me. Yeah, well it's cold for California!

Happy June to you all!