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Jul. 12, 2017

 “The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.” George Bernard Shaw

“Fer-til-iz-er: A substance which makes soil more fertile.” (Webster)

When last we chatted, I waxed rhapsodic on the joys of homegrown tomatoes and now I've moved along in the garden to zucchini - a bane or a blessing?

Having grown zucchini and pumpkins, fertilizer is a superfluous frill as far as they are concerned. Put a couple of seeds in the ground, go away for the weekend, and be astonished when you return to find that their vines have cascaded all over the geraniums, the Dutch Iris and zinnias are fighting for their lives and thse greedy little tendrils are eyeing the garage. Zucchini is delicious when it’s small and tender but neglect to pick it and a day later, it has metamorphosed into a club the size of a baseball bat. You can grate one all day to make zucchini bread and never finish. Neighbors see you coming and won’t answer the door. The zucchini phenomenon is sort of like Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Fantasia!  with his enchanted broom and buckets of water. The zucchini inexorably keep coming and coming!

Anyway, when the zucchini overwhelm you, chop up some in your salad, sauté some in olive oil with tomatoes and lots of onions, drain and stir in some sour cream and top with a little parmesan cheese for a really great veggie dish. Or get out your Cuisinart and grate some for bread. This one is particularly good. This recipe originally came from Dorothy Reinhold’s column in the Pasadena Star News in 2011. In it, she described her son’s ecstasy about the zucchini bread that his 3rd grade Webster Elementary School instructional aide, Mrs. Corinne Le, had baked and brought to share.  “It’s soooooo good,” he said, “and she gave me the recipe. It’s really really good!” And it is, too! So, thanks Dorothy and Mrs. Le.  This is the best zucchini bread I’ve ever had. It’s neat to think that these third graders got to taste something fabulous that a teacher wanted to share. Teachers ARE exceptional people!

Zucchini Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease 8” x 4” loaf pan.

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

1 cup sugar

1 cup finely shredded, unpeeled zucchini

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 tsp. grated lemon peel

½ cup chopped pecans (optional), dried cranberries are good in here, too, and maybe a little chopped apple.

In a medium bowl combine first 6 ingredients.

In another medium bowl combine sugar, zucchini, oil, egg and lemon peel. Mix well.

Add dry mixture to zucchini mixture, stir just till moistened (batter will be lumpy)

Add nuts and/or cranberries, and apples.

Spoon batter into greased pan. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan or on a wire rack for 10 minutes. When your bread has cooled off a little, cut yourself a slice and sit down and enjoy it with a cup of coffee.  You deserve a break after all that planting, fertilizing, harvesting, distributing and baking! This freezes well, too, so you can double the recipe, which just happens to be in my book, “A Tablespoon of Love, A Tablespoon of Laughter.” 

“In simple humility, let our Gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation garden of your life.” James 1:21

“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” David Hobson

 

 

 

“The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.” George Bernard Shaw

 

Apr. 11, 2017

I’d like.... another yesterday.

Turn back the hours, make it yesterday.

Go back to when I was your trusted friend,

What would I give to start with you again, beloved friend?

I’d like.... another yesterday.

Turn back the hours, make it yesterday.

I’d walk these roads again with you,

Share wine and bread and share the laughter, too.

I’d like.... another yesterday.

To feel the sun again upon my face,

To listen to the things you say,

This time, believe you really are....The Way.

And now it’s all come down to this,

I’ve betrayed you.....with a kiss.

These silver coins fall through my fingers,

Just like petals from a rose....

Too late to change things.....I suppose,

Too late to change things.....I suppose.

I’d like.....another yesterday......”

Good Friday is coming up in just a few days. Having wondered many times if Judas regretted betraying Jesus, I wrote these lyrics as part of “Hands!” The Musical and my co-writer, David Wheatley, wrote beautiful music for it. He has sung and played it several times for Good Friday services and it is very moving. We don’t really know, do we, what happened with Judas, except that it all went wrong.

Maundy Thursday services are coming up, commemorating Jesus’ breaking of the bread, “This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. And taking the cup he shared it with his disciples and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” We’ll remember, too, that Jesus washed his disciples feet, Peter protesting all the way.

The Good Friday service will end in silence and darkness, but we know Sunday is coming! He is risen! He is risen, indeed! We know our Redeemer liveth! Easter at last! A time of celebration that has absolutely nothing to do with bunnies (chocolate or otherwise), exhaustive hunts for hard-boiled eggs or even honey-baked ham.  It might have something to do with new outfits, but extensive biblical research has not proven that, one way or the other.  "Before Dawn…Sunday" celebrates the fact that Jesus did, indeed, rise from the dead and lives today.  Which is an exciting thought, an amazing concept upon which we base our lives.  And beats the heck out of chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs….unless they were dyed personally by your favorite four year old. 

Before Dawn….. Sunday  

The sky was gray,

The world was hushed,

Before dawn… Sunday.

The women walked

Toward a tomb,

Jars of spices in their hands,

To tend the One,

The One Who died,

Crucified that Friday.

The women walked,

Toward the tomb,

Mary Magdalene and another.

They walked, and worried, wondering,

Who, would roll away the stone.

The sky was gray,

The world was hushed,

Before dawn, Sunday.

They stopped to rest,

Await the day,

Sad eyes filled with tears,

Sorrow for the One Who died,

Crucified that Friday.

Another dawn, another day,

What did it matter, anyway?

The One who loved her as she was,

Who changed her life, was gone.

She raised her eyes to see the sky,

Streaks of pink and gold.

And then they saw,

The guards were gone,

The stone was rolled away!

The grief she’d felt since Friday,

Like the stone, was rolled away!

She grabbed that jar of spices,

And running like a child,

Climbed the hill,

To tend her Lord, early on that Sunday.

They looked inside that borrowed tomb,

Petrified with fright,

An angel sat there on the stone,

Clothed in brilliant white.

“I know the one you seek,” he said,

"Jesus, crucified.

He is not here, he is risen!

He’s risen, as he said

He’s risen!  He’s risen!

He’s risen, as he said!

Now go!  And tell the others,

He’s risen, as he said!

Look not for the living,

Here among the dead!

He is not here, he’s risen!

He’s risen, as he said!”

We rejoice on Easter as we KNOW that Our Redeemer liveth!

 

 

 

Mar. 24, 2017

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” Matt. 10:29

This picture shows what our front door usually looks like with this colorful wreath which has been up there forever because it’s sheltered from the rain, wind and sun. I say ‘usually’ because until this past week, nothing has come along to bother it. However, last Monday I noticed a whole bunch of twigs on our doormat and thought, cleverly, “where did all these come from?” So I picked them up and my eye caught on the wreath. There on the inside were a whole bunch more twigs and further inspection revealed that a sparrow or some other tiny bird was building a nest in our wreath. “Oh no, you’re not!” I thought, took all that nest stuff out, tossed it underneath the tree by the front walk and proceeded inside. I know, I sound really mean.

Later that day, went outside, more twigs on the mat, nest rebuilt. Again, removed it, and went to the market. Returned with groceries. Nest rebuilt. Removed. Next day, nest is back and I realize this little bird is going to win so nest removed and wreath taken down. I noticed that all the nest stuff that was under the tree was gone so, hopefully, she found a better spot to build her nest. You’re thinking, my gosh, what a meanie! Well, there’s a reason, friends and neighbors.

A few years ago, another little bird built her nest in a different wreath. We were thrilled! We quit using the front door, walking all the way around from the back every time we wanted to use the front gate...and when I say ‘all the way around’ – trust me on this – it’s quite a ways around! So we’re not using the door, creeping up every now and then to check on the nest and soon there are eggs in there, two of them. We feel like midwives! We caution family and friends not to go on the front porch as the little mother is nervous and flies frantically off when the nest is approached. Time passes, we’re getting a little tired of carrying groceries an additional mile and up the stairs to get them inside, but now there are little peeps coming from the nest and the eggs have hatched. We are thrilled! Our babies are finally here!

This joy and jubilation don’t last long. We come home a couple of days later to find the nest, pieces of baby bird, and a lot of ugly stuff on the doormat. One of the neighbor’s cats has found the nest and.... well, you can imagine the rest. We were devastated! We both cried as we were really invested in this little family’s success, imagining little birds learning to fly out of our wreath, taking test runs around the yard, landing in our trees.

You can understand my strong desire not to go through this again, I’m sure. I still feel mean, but it was the right thing to do. Our front door is a war zone. But this much I know, God cares a lot about sparrows:

"Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Matt. 10:29-31

“The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God.” Ps. 84:3

This poem about God and sparrows was written by Civilla D. Martin in 1905. The next day she mailed it off to Charles Gab­ri­el, who sup­plied the mu­sic. Sing­er Ethel Wa­ters so loved this song that she used its name as the ti­tle for her au­to­bi­og­ra­phy.

“His Eye Is On The Sparrow”

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

I’m pretty sure God helped our sparrow find a better spot to lay her eggs, where He could keep an eye on her.

 

Mar. 4, 2017

“Dance like nobody’s watching,

Love like you’ve never been hurt,

Sing like nobody’s listening,

Live like it’s heaven on earth."

Now I ask you...don't these people look like they're having the best time ever? And aren't these faces too funny for words? And isn't that Daddy the most patient guy you've ever seen? Crissy, our Texas daughter, sent us a bunch of pictures of the Daddy Daughter Dance and they all featured small children racing around so fast the camera could hardly capture them, and a bunch of Dads with their hands in their pockets waiting for this to end. But, Good Sports all, they were there! These little girls will never forget the Daddy Daughter Dances. Crissy, the only one of our girls who went to a school where there were dances, has never forgotten going with her Daddy, and the one year he was on a business trip, her big brother, John, took her. This was great for her as he was and is incredibly handsome and all the little high school girls swooned.

The Misses Emily and Jessie had a big night out last week.

Wally W. Watkins Elementary School, The pride of Wylie, Texas,

Where the Misses E and J, are the stars of first and third grade,

Was totally redone, redecorated, transformed,

Into a magical place, where memories were made.

 

The Misses E and J and their Daddy

Were dressed up to the nines,

They both were fluffed and buffed, and he,

Could not have looked more handsome.

The smiles on all their faces,

Were happy and sweet…and then some!

 

The Misses E & J and their Daddy enjoyed all the refreshments,

Hawaiian punch and cookies,

Chocolate chip and Oreos,

Have another two or three,

“No, no thank you, girls, that’s quite enough for me!”

 

Miss Emily spent the evening racing ‘round with friends,

While Miss Jessie and her Daddy talked and laughed till almost eight.

No, they didn’t dance a single dance,

Not a foxtrot or a waltz.

But they finally got into the photo booth,

Which you can see was quite a blast!

 

The Misses E and J and their Daddy, made memories last week.

They looked so lovely and he looked just grand,

Nothing they did was thought out or planned,

An evening together, dressed up, that’s all,

But the Misses Emily and Jessie, and their Daddy, who is their Prince,

Loved every single minute at the Wally W. Watkins Elementary ball.

"Memories are the sweetest things we carry with us through life."

Feb. 18, 2017

“Let me die with my eyebrows on!”

“Between Your Status and Your Quo”

Fay Angus (1975)

It has been a year now since Fay Angus left us and I thought I would put this blog up again in honor of her daughter, Katrelya, her son, Ian, and his family. Her memorial service took place on an absolutely perfect day in the park. Katrelya danced, hearts were shared, music was played, stories were told and there was much laughter. And there was tea. Really good tea and cookies. Fay would have loved it.

I’m not sure she did (have her eyebrows on) as it was late at night when she was stricken, but as now she’s in heaven with her beloved Lord, my dear friend and fellow author, Fay Angus, doesn’t have to worry about that anymore.

Sometimes an amazing person enters your life and you don’t realize it then but it becomes crystal clear later. That was Fay Angus. John and I were married on April 1, 1967. His three children, Leah, Patti and John, came to live with us after school ended in June and we moved into the house up the long driveway behind Fay’s house in July. I was 25 years old and had no clue about what to do with children or how to be married. Fay invited me into her red kitchen almost immediately and gave me the first of several hundred cups of tea that I drank with her over our lifetime of friendship. She also gave me the best recipe ever for chicken and rice which I have made 10,000 times.

When I say, “tea,” that does not mean a teabag in an ugly mug of hot water. No, indeed! Fay made “tea” the way it’s supposed to be made, with a warmed pot, water in a kettle brought to a boil, but not poured boiling on the tea leaves, and the whole thing covered with a tea cozy and time to steep. While the tea was steeping, I could quit crying, could pull myself together, could realize whatever was the matter was not the end of the world, and by the time Fay poured tea into a beautiful cup with a saucer and put a few cookies on the table, my heart had quit pounding.

Fay made tea for so many people, always just like that. She would say, “let’s have a cup of tea, dear,” and she would sit down with me or whoever had appeared at her door, and listen as though she had nothing else in the world to do.

When our dog, Trinka, had puppies, Fay took one and named him Zippy. When Crissy was born, Fay was at my side within minutes to pray with us and dedicate this new little girl to the Lord. Thanks to Fay, I learned about Dr. Ettinghausen, who specialized in home births, which is how Crissy arrived on the planet.

Fay was an amazing woman, born in Brisbane, Australia to parents who were both born in China. She grew up in Shanghai, lost her older brother, Maurice, to appendicitis when she was nine and she and her mother were interred in a Japanese concentration camp in Yangchow for two and a half long difficult years during WWII.

As I look at her books, each autographed to me...

Deanne...Hope this tickles your sense of humor – thank God you know how to laugh! Blessings and love, Fay. (Between Your Status and Your Quo - 1975)

Deanne...An encouragement and dazzle in my life. Rejoicing in your friendship. Love, Fay.

(How To Do Everything Right and Live To Regret It – 1983)

Deanne...Super special in my life...Love ya, Fay.

(The Catalyst - 1979)

Beloved Friend – Deanne – Blessings and much love, Fay.

(The White Pagoda – 1978)

Deanne...Who rejoices my heart and...always...delights my life – forever friend...

Fay Angus (Mortal coils and Other Splendid Stuff – 1995)

There may be others I missed, I know she had been working for some time on a book about her father, Ernest William Woodward, who was quite a dashing figure during WWII, but I don’t know if it was ever finished.

Fay worked tirelessly in Sierra Madre’s Canyon area in the 60’s and 70’s finding and rescuing teens who were in drug or alcohol trouble, runaways, kids who needed help and we had a thrift shop organized by Fay here in town for many years to raise money to support her refuge house.

She was a terrific and much sought-after speaker and did countless retreats and engagements all over the world, but there was always time for tea and a talk. She helped me grow up, she explained children to me. She encouraged me in my writing and was proud of every word I ever wrote. She was funny! She was a force in our community, she campaigned tirelessly against hard core pornography. She was Jesus to so many and now they are together.

Occasionally, we would meet in front of the broccoli at Albertson’s and find a half hour had ticked off as we laughed and caught up. I miss that, Fay, and I miss you terribly. John and I walk by your house most days and I find myself looking up at the front door, hoping you'll come out to retrieve your paper and we can have a hug. You were a precious gift to so many, including me.