Summer’s End

summer's end


The silver curtain has fallen. Summer is over in Shelton. Outside resembles a November storm. Temps won’t even hit 60 today. Leaves fall and the light has shifted. Plus, pumpkin spice. So, yeah. Summer, we barely knew ye! Please come again.

But there is good news. The summer term of Capella’s master’s program is over. It officially ended last Friday (the 13th). The infamous Dr. P of Ethics in the Public Sector sent out several emails. Wanting to finish early, I turned in the last of my work for that class on Saturday, September 7. Every time I got email, my heart would leap. It leapt very high when he created a new running calculator in Blackboard based on all the class assignments, not just on the ones that were graded. In other words, taking points earned divided by total points possible. That put me at a 69.9% in his new category called “final grade”. My heart plummeted into my socks. Still not sure why he did that, since Blackboard, the grading system, runs a current tally all the time based on submitted work, not all the assignments for the class. I did not respond to this email either, because his creating that category seemed unnecessary busywork and would cause more problems than solutions.

Maybe the emails would stop? But alas. “You should consider taking this FEMA training” with 14 paragraphs on how non-emergency management personnel needed the free seminar. Or “Capella offers these writing classes focusing on different areas”. Delete. And of course, “the class ends September 13. Here is every policy in the world Capella has for courses and grades”. Delete. Next up, “just touching base with everyone. Do you need anything from me?” Sigh. Maybe grade something?! Delete. Lastly, “here’s my personal email. I’m available outside the courseroom”. I emailed him a thank you because that needed a response. Not quite lastly, I guess, since 2 more emails came extending due dates because of Capella’s website conking out on folks.

Then nothing for 3 days. The last assignment for week 10 counted as 30% of my grade. It could still tank my GPA. I waited. I stalked the gradebook several times a day. Crickets.

Then last night, another email. “An attempt has been graded for 10A1”. Eek! I clicked and clicked to get to the grade. I got a….drumroll, please…99! I about fainted. Then I danced awkwardly because I could and it was dark. His feedback said the work was “outstanding” and “well thought out”. Yippee!

I breathed a sigh of great relief. Thank you, Lord. Let the break begin! Can we rewind summer?!



Tree Timing

fall trees.jpg

I ran 3 miles today after Dakota and I tossed a tennis ball around. I prepared for rain, as it’s November and every day’s forecast for the next 10 lists at least “chance of rain”. But it didn’t rain. The night sky held a few stars but no moon. The ground was damp. Fallen leaves, downed by last week’s wind, muddled into a slurry under my feet. I took deep breaths of the chilly air.

As I passed the fast food restaurant across from Denny’s, I noticed the 4 trees standing at attention in a grassy strip. Most of the other deciduous trees in town stand dark and bare, leafy cover long gone. This quartet of trees has nearly full coverage. But the colors! Green shot through with red and gold and flame. Each tree has a slightly different palette. Under the street lights and the ambient glow of the restaurant’s signage, they stand tall and beautiful. They’re in no rush to divest their foliage. They patiently wait for their time to let go and enter the next season.

Frankly, they put me to shame. Can I stand in the season that I’m in, with patience and faith? Can I continue to keep on keeping on? Surely, I can reflect God’s grace while waiting. I don’t have to weep and gnash my teeth. All that orthodontia work from my teenage years shouldn’t go to waste, after all. I can see so very little from my finite perspective. God’s perfect timing is worth waiting for.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. – Ecclesiastes 3:11


The Next Day

storm trees

We have a fall flood watch on now. Yesterday, all was breezy and sunny. The sun smiled down. Brilliant leaves tossed in the wind, drifting down and piling into crunch drifts. Today, all is soggy and dripping. Early morning twilight prevails. The rain comes and goes. The wind whips through the trees and water puddles everywhere.

What a difference a day makes.

I think of Harvey Weinstein. Never met him, and barely registered the name before all the accusations of his predatory behavior came to light. One day, he was sitting on top of the world. He ran the show as a film producer, called the plays, held the fate of young starlets in his hands. The next, he was eviscerated in the press. Actress after actress came forward to condemn his appalling, despicable behavior. Perhaps the wake of the death of Hugh Hefner created a space for women to feel safe enough to tell their stories. Maybe they’d simply had enough.

But this blog isn’t about scandalous national current events. It’s not about how power corrupts those over us and how we all make allowances in order to save our own skin. No. It’s not even about how both men *and* women sexually harass, demean, and objectify each other, in big and small ways, on a regular basis.

It’s really only about how one day can change everything in your life.

You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. – Hebrews 3:13

Fall Finish

fall leaves

It’s fall now. The rain has come, gentle at first, but will push its advantage as time goes on. I ran outside in the on again/off again drizzle. Even by the light of the street lamp, I could tell the trees were turning crimson. Their tie-dyed leaves, red-green-gold, made me smile. At one point, I pulled the earpiece from my ear. You know the season has changed when the rustle of the wind in the trees cuts through the music pouring in through your earphones. 

I’m up to 8 minute running/two minute walking intervals, three times through. It’s good. I stretch any cranky calf muscles that tighten up, and we keep on going. I ran past the graveyard. Funny how there are no lights down there, not even along the street. The graves lie in shadowy darkness behind the wrought iron fence and pillared gate.

I have an acquaintance who works for the cemetery. He doesn’t make corny jokes like “People are dying to get in!” or anything. But he says it’s steady work. It’s honest work, too, digging rectangular holes in the ground for the dearly departed. Lately, business has picked up. “Otherwise,” he says with a smile and nod to the change of season, “it’s just blowing fallen leaves around. That gets old. Time goes by faster when you’re digging.”

I guess I’d never thought about making time go quicker when you’re working in a dead-end job. Get it? Even cemetery workers need to keep busy. 

I suppose it’s a bit gruesome, but I like running past the graveyard. It reminds me to keep the main thing the main thing. Burial – or cremation – is the period on the end of the sentence of your life. As I keep aging, I realize how short this life is. We don’t know how many years we’ll get. I want to make them count. I want to be about the Father’s business, as my particular job description in the kingdom requires. For now, it includes loving people wherever I am, with a smattering of running, writing and worshiping thrown in. Personally, I want to have as much fun as possible along the way. Every breath is a gift, another day to live in the light and share it with the world.

P.S. I didn’t get a chance to post yesterday, but it was the 7th anniversary of this blog. I know I haven’t been as regular as in the past. I appreciate all of you who read and comment and keep hanging in there with me. Things are changing again. Yay! Mostly for the good this time. I’ll keep you posted as I have more details. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His faithful love endures forever. – Psalm 136:1-3





Stormy Season


We’ve had a few storms blow over the West Coast this weekend.  I heard it was remnants of a typhoon, which sounded very exotic. Nothing happened like the Columbus Day storm of 1962, as originally predicted. The closer you lived to the sea, the more damage you sustained. But here…no need for water jugs or generators. Locally, A few tree branches knocked out fences. Some experienced short power outages. And rain, as in about 10 inches. I took a walk this afternoon to survey the neighborhood damage.

The rain had paused. But everything dripped. Red, gold, green and brown leaves – tree currency – littered the ground. Some stuck to the pavement from the damp adhesive. Nearly translucent, they clung with tenacity, like stamps to envelopes. Squirrels scurried up trees. Their gray poufy tails twitched as they gathered acorns. Birds chirped and hopped about, catching up on socializing. The hazel-eyed creek, swollen with runoff, curled and swirled around downtown with swiftness.

I breathed in the fresh scrubbed air. The relentless rain makes me restless. It creates a sort of barrier with its wet silver curtain. Nobody wants to go outside, or go anywhere, really. We all hibernate, dashing out into the damp to gather groceries or pump gas. It’s the season for getting lost in a book and drinking hot beverages.

I packed up my summer wardrobe yesterday as the rain drummed down. I boxed up all my sandals, shorts, lightweight dresses and capri pants. So long, summer. This year, it’s taken me awhile to get around to doing it. Oh, I had a couple of pieces on standby as the weather turned cooler. But I couldn’t quite surrender. Usually we have a last-ditch effort on the part of the dry season. A couple of freak hot days sneak onto the calendar and we all flip back to sleeveless mode. But summer is truly gone now.

I pulled out my knee-length boots and corduroys. I folded the sweaters and placed them on the shelf. I hung up skirts and blouses. I unpacked long-sleeved pajamas and fleece pants. I even dusted off the clown pants. Hey, you never know.

So I’m ready. Seasons change. I can’t hold onto summer like those soaked leaves stuck to the sidewalk. There’s a natural progression to the seasons and to this life. More storms will come, I’m sure. It’s time to move on.

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”– Genesis 8:22

First and Last

back-to-school 7

It started raining in earnest yesterday. First, a light drizzle, like an appetizer, then it bucketed down. We may have a few more hot days, but the stuffing has been knocked out of summer.

The kids started back to school yesterday. No pictures, because in Zac’s case he wouldn’t let me, and I totally forgot with Ruby. Zac’s added AP Government, Honors Chemistry and Human Anatomy to his class load.

We went to Fujiyama last night to celebrate the start of school, a Japanese restaurant where they cook dinner in front of you. The chef does tricks with eggs and beef fat. You sort of have to be there.

“Mom, you didn’t ask me about my day,” Zac chided with a smile while we sat around the table.

“Okay, Zac,” I said. “How was your first day? Tell me all about it.”

“Well, Honors Chem has only 13 students. I guess lots of kids got scared off, hearing how tough it is.”

His face portrayed mixed emotions. His voice sounded a little apprehensive but also excited. He hasn’t truly challenged himself before. I think he’s kicking the tires on his abilities like some men stroll around a sports car and think, how fast will it go if I really open ‘er up? Zac is ready to punch it. I can’t wait to see how this year goes.

“And Ruby, how was your first day?”

We both pulled back from the huge metal grill in front of us as the chef lit our food on fire.

“Well, it was good. I like my Spanish teacher. She has a good sense of humor.”

I should mention here that her teacher, fresh from Spain, spoke not a word of English on back to school night nor when we dropped Ruby off yesterday morning. Intimidating, to say the least. But perhaps total immersion will get the job done.

Ruby rode with me on the first day of school as a special treat.

“Where is Dad going?” she asked as Jonathon pulled out.

“He’s going to meet us at the school,” I said. “He wants to be there with you, too.”

“Oh,” she said. “It’s kind of embarrassing.”

I chuckled. And so it begins.

I’m praying this year is even better than the last.



Winds of Change

leaves blowing off trees

Last Saturday, it clouded over. The wind chilled and blew. Prematurely dead leaves rained down, pushed from their homes into a nomadic existence on the ground. Summer, it seems, had turned a corner. This weekend proved similar. I had both the front and back door open in the morning, but the back door kept slamming shut.

I ran 6 miles on Saturday. I pushed up the hill, the wind in my face. Once I turned right, the wind blew at my back. It pushed me along. Most of the time, though, it blew right at me, or sideways. At one point, my hat nearly blew off. I caught it in time, yet only just. It challenged me.

Fall is in the air. The sun put out its best show, pushing temps into the mid 90s last week. But school starts in 3 days. Ruby’s back to school supplies for 5th grade sit in a neglected pile for now, pink-and-gold binder, composition books and patterned pencils still in their original packaging. Not for long, though.

Anna’s Bay Chorale starts up again in a couple of weeks. Jonathon will be deep into rehearsals for their fall concert. Zac, sans school supplies until he gets a list from his individual teachers, will begin his senior year this week. Gulp.

I am ready for change. This has been a great summer, filled with sun and travel and good friends. We’ve eaten berries and watermelon. We’ve planted flowers and weeded in the yard. We’ve roasted marshmallows for s’mores. We’ve watched fireworks and looked for fireflies.

The wind symbolizes and summons change. Wind can cause a change in direction. Our thoughts turn to shirts with sleeves and long pants, as the wind propels. We start dreaming about rich stews and warm cookies. Each season has its own unique beauty. Fall isn’t my favorite, but it’s a good one. I plan to savor it.