Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Digital Story of the Nativity

The Christmas message remains the same, but the method of delivering it changes with the times. I copied this from my son Gregg's facebook status, because it can't be shared too much. Gregg said his church shared this during their worship service today. Just click on the arrow to play...

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

“Ragtag” Giants Win World Series

Fifty six years have gone by since I’ve celebrated a Giants World Series win. And now it has finally happened again. Above is games one and five winning pitcher Tim Lincecum celebrating the series victory.

In a post-season run that embraced the many clichés of baseball (great pitching will beat great hitting, for instance) the 2010 San Francisco Giants – called “makeshift and ragtag” by their own manager – are the best in the world right now.

A deserving Edgar Renteria won the MVP award, but a core of homegrown Giants pitchers was the primary reason they have become World Champions. Starters Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and rookie Madison Bumgarner proved too much for the best hitting team in baseball who also had one great pitcher, Cliff Lee.

The Giants were no respecter of pitchers all through the post-season. They beat the best arms that Atlanta, Philadelphia and Texas threw at them -- all while their own staff was virtually unhittable.

Congratulations, 2010 San Francisco Giants – World Series Champions of Major League Baseball.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Giants To Play in World Series

In one of the more unlikely scenarios in Major League Baseball, the San Francisco Giants -- my favorite team since 1951 -- have made it into the 2010 World Series.

At left is NLCS MVP Cody Ross, a Florida cast-off and late season Giants' pick-up off of waivers, holding his trophy following the gut-wrenching 3-2 win earlier tonight in Philadelphia.

The win was an absolute total team effort and is the first World Series appearance for the Giants since 2002, when they lost to the Angels in seven games.

The Giants have not won the World Series since they moved west in 1958. Their last World Series win was in 1954 when they were still in New York and swept the Cleveland Indians, spurred by Willie Mays' famous first game "catch" off the bat of Vic Wertz in deep center field in the Polo Grounds.

Now it's time to create some fresh history.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Talli Wins Champoeg X-C Invitational

Our high school junior granddaughter Talli won her third cross country race outright yesterday. But this time it was a large race, the Champoeg Invitational, that attracted a big field from over a dozen high schools. Photo above shows her all alone nearing the finish line.

Just added (10/12): Click here to read the local newspaper story in The Newberg Graphic.

Talli’s winning time was 19:46 for 5,000 meters; it was the second time, I think, that she has broken 20 minutes. I was so happy she did so well, I just wanted to get it on the blog.

Pic above is Talli receiving her blue ribbon. What a great performance!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Refreshing The Soul With A Day On The Water

My cousin Joel Narva and I drove over the Cascades early this morning to fish for one of the “big ones” that are in Chelan County’s Fish Lake (there are several Fish Lakes).

We caught quite a few rainbow trout; Joel caught abundantly more than I did, as he had his float tube and was serving up locally hand-tied flies. I rented a small Smokercraft Lodge with an 8-horse Yamaha on it – a real smooth rig. I tried to convince the wily things to chomp on my broken back Rapala, but they were too smart.

At this time of the year, it is said that you have as good a chance as any at hooking a five-pound, or larger, fish. Didn’t happen today, although Joel lost one that stripped his fly reel down to the backing – just couldn’t pull the trigger in time.

The early morning was nice, but about 10:00 the wind came up and the rains started to come down. It wasn’t a heavy rain, just an annoying one. Fortunately the temp was warm and we were not chilled. All in all, a great day on the water, and an even better time getting caught up on our common interests.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Birthday People

In our family we have two instances of common birthdays. Our daughter-in-law Jamie and our grandson NJ share a birthday this month – coming up in a few days, as a matter of fact. And my granddaughter Aubrey and I share a birthday in July.

It’s nothing but fun when you share a birthday with a family member. This afternoon we celebrated NJ’s 2nd birthday along with his mom’s. Pic above shows the boy getting used to his new three-book pack – all about trucks – a gift from his aunt, uncle and cousins. NJ loves trucks – any and all kinds. That’s Aunt Elaine helping him get the books out of the pack.

Whenever it’s possible for both of our sons’ families to be all together, we like to get pics of them. Above are all four of our grandchildren. L to r, Hayley, Talli, NJ and Aubrey. Is there anything better than grandkids?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Perfectly Beautiful Wedding and A Get Together With Old Friends

Almost two weeks ago Kay Lynne and I left for a short week’s visit to the San Francisco Bay Area, primarily to attend the wedding of our nephew Mike Narva, but also to touch base with our long-time friends there. Pic above was taken at a get together of long-time friends the first evening we arrived. This is the group who first met in a church “young married’s” class over 40 years ago (with two exceptions). Left to right are Ed Wall, Troy Lester (Ted’s betrothed), Mike & Gwen Silkwood, Kay Lynne, moi, Darlene Wall and Ted Petersen.

We also visited old school friends in San Jose and in Discovery Bay before and after the wedding which was on August 7. Mike and Ginny Silver (above) were married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony in the small community of La Honda, near Half Moon Bay. Mike's dad, my cousin Jim Narva, and wife, Kay, live in Sunnyvale, while the new bride and groom will live in Santa Clara.

It could not have been a better weekend. We got to enjoy a gorgeous wedding, get together with relatives and see friends we have known seemingly forever. Old friends are good friends.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Buddy is in “Paradise” For Five Days

Our dog is in Paradise. No, he hasn’t left us.

Instead, he’s at the “Paradise Pet Lodge” while we travel for a short time. Note the appropriate yellow "convenience station" (above). The place bills itself as “An Exclusive Resort For Pets.” I sure hope it’s a kennel as well, ‘cause that’s really all we were looking for.

The good thing is that we know he’ll be well taken care of. That’s important to us, because Buddy suffers from “separation anxiety.” He won’t eat or drink water on his own when we’re gone. The folks at the “Resort” said they’d hand feed him if necessary, so OUR anxiety levels can remain normal.

Buddy is a great dog. He’ll enjoy the companion-ship of other dogs and the loving care of some good people. Which means we’ll enjoy OUR trip all the more.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Roslyn Café is Still There

Early this morning I jumped in the old “fishing buggy” and headed east over the Cascades to do some reconnaissance on potential trout lakes. However, the pic above is a good indication of how the “reconnaissance” went.

On my way from Lake Easton to Cle Elum Lake, I passed through the little town of Roslyn, the town where the popular 1990’s TV series, “Northern Exposure” was filmed. Of course on television the town was not Roslyn, Washington but Cicely, Alaska.

Let’s just say that there is not much in Roslyn, but the famous TV landmark of fictitious Cicely is still there. As you can see, the large wall mural looks like it was freshly painted.

As far as fishing lakes goes, I swung by almost a half dozen lakes: Keechelus, Lost, Kachess, Easton and Cle Elum. Only wet a line at Easton, with little results. I forgot what summer does to lakes on the much warmer eastern slope.

Just about every one was low, shallow at the accessible shoreline, and virtually impossible to fish unless you had a boat – which I didn’t. And in many cases the water was too low to easily launch even if you had a boat.

But I did get a nice picture by which to remember the excursion. However, the moose that walked down the street in the TV version was nowhere to be seen today.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Life and Death Among Computers

Laptops, for me, seem to last about three or four years – sometimes even less. I’ve always thought that Detroit was guilty of “built-in obsolescence,” but I think the computer industry could be just as guilty.

About two weeks ago, my previous laptop began showing signs of what appeared to be pests and a day or two later simply wouldn’t complete the boot. Fortunately it at least came on, and so I figured the Geeks could do some surgical repair and revive it.

After four days in intensive Geek care, I got the death call. The machine was in a coma and it was just a matter of time. They could remove all the important internal organs, and if I acted quickly in buying a new instrument, they could preserve the body parts long enough for a successful transplant.

Within hours a new laptop (pic above) was ready for the implants and a day later was up and running (with nice upgrades, to boot).

It’s funny how quickly the emotional ties disappear – even from an old buddy. How quickly we lose attachments that no longer serve us. In fact, there will not even be a memorial of any kind. Sounds cold, I know.

But the truth is that the new laptop is already a friendly, functional companion, and the old data and pics have gained their lifelike qualities once again.

Rest in peace, former buddy. Someday, somewhere, there is a chance you might be resurrected.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Grandpa and Granddaughter Share the Same Birthday – 64 Years Apart

Grandma and I were in Oregon Friday and yesterday to celebrate granddaughter Aubrey’s eighth birthday. She and I were born on the same date, though more than six decades apart.

Among the nice presents Aubrey received was a beautiful new mountain bike (pic above). Now she’s ready to keep up with her sisters.

Grandpa got a beautiful picture frame with the word “grandkids” on it from Gregg and Elaine, and it now sits proudly on my desk displaying a gorgeous photo of all four grandchildren, which Gregg printed for me. My office has never looked so good.

Of course there’s always a “blowing-out-the-candles” ritual, and the photo above shows Aubs and I making the attempt. Yep, we had lots of fun this year celebrating our birthdays. The pics above were aptly taken by Grandma who is having fun with the camera of late.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Fun With Grandkids

This week we’ve been enjoying time with our granddaughter Aubrey who’s with us for the week from Oregon while mom and dad get some much needed “R&R” up in the San Juan Islands.

Yesterday we went to visit her cousin NJ who lives in a nearby burb. They hadn’t seen each other for several months, and we wondered how well the boy would remember his cousin. The pic above answered our question immediately.

Aubrey got a long hug right as she came in the door. From then on it was nothin’ but fun for the entire day! They have another outing together planned for tomorrow. Aubs can’t wait.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lutheran Culture Scratches Our Spiritual Itch

You may have heard me say on this blog, a time or three, that of all Christian venues through which my wife and I have traveled, the Lutheran pathway not only is working for us, but also has provided purpose for our lives.

Yesterday, once again, we received another confirmation of this during the sermon by our Pastor, the Rev. Jim McEachran, a gifted scholar and Bible teacher.

Before we get to his Bible text, it may be worth noting that we’ve often used the phrase, “living out the Grace of God in our everyday lives” as sort of a summary capsulization of how we’ve come to understand what it means to live the Christian life in Lutheran terms. By the way, Lutherans love “grace,” as did Martin Luther himself.

The core of yesterday’s sermon text was the familiar message of Ephesians 2:8-10, but for some reason, the way the NRSV Bible translates the 10th verse really struck me yesterday. Here’s the passage:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast.

"For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.”

Italics on verse 10 are mine; that's the portion that stood out to me yesterday. If that verse doesn't provide an excellent rationale and wonderful perspective for "living out the Grace of God in the world,” I surely don’t know what would.

Thanks be to God.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Spinning Our Wheels?

I finally finished James Davison Hunter’s book, To Change the World – The Irony, Tragedy & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. The book really delivers in the realm of social theory, explaining why Christians are mostly ineffective in their efforts to “change the world”.

In fact, “changing the world” should not be our primary focus, he suggests. And he laboriously makes the case that despite our country being nearly 80% “Christian,” the influence of Christianity is, to a great degree, ineffective. Further, he suggests, rather than positively influence society, Christians (especially the Christian Right) have instead come across as angry, bitter and resentful.

A significant part of the problem, he says, (and I’m greatly oversimplifying here) is that the Christian Left, the Christian Right and the neo-Anabaptists, all have chosen, in one way or another, politics, policies and law as the target areas in which to “penetrate” in order to change society.

This will surely fail, he says (two thirds of the book is given to explaining why), and his proposed alternative is what he calls and defines as “faithful presence.” “A theology of faithful presence,” Hunter says, “calls Christians to enact the shalom of God in the circumstances in which God has placed them and to actively seek it on behalf of others.”

This should be done in our daily living, rather than through the political or legal systems as is seemingly the current focus, he offers. You can see that simply understanding what he means and how it should be implemented is a significant challenge - but a worthy one - and one for which the book is very much worth a read.

The book does not end on a particular high note. His own assessment of his theology suggests that even if Christians and the Church could live according to his concept of “faithful presence,” his best prognosis is that we may be able to live in “a better world.”

I think I might have titled the book, Spinning Our Wheels?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Aubrey Performs Like a Veteran in End-of-Year Recital

Our youngest granddaughter, Aubrey, 7, (above) performed wonderfully last night in Oregon at her Year-End Piano Recital, culminating two years of lessons. Sorry, btw, for the less than perfect photo; it was taken with my phone cam under low light conditions.

Grandma and I made our second trip this week to the Yamhill valley to enjoy end-of-the-school-year musical functions (also see Tuesday’s post for a note on Hayley).

For her recital selection, Aubrey chose the rather interesting Paul Revere’s Ride by Jane Smisor Bastein. It’s an airy piece with some almost dissonant chords near the end. Our gal did an absolutely fine job, as she was one of 13 who performed.

Nice going, Kiddo; we were glad it worked out that we could be there. Keep up your great work, Aubrey Joy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hayley Shines in Year End Band Concert

Last night we were privileged to attend the year-end band concert of our granddaughter, Hayley (above pic taken by dad), who is in the seventh grade at Chehalem Valley Middle School in Oregon.

Hayley was virtually the only seventh grader in the Advanced Band and Advanced Jazz Band (Advanced Bands consist usually of eighth graders, but she was a good enough clarinet player to make both by audition). She flawless held up her clarinet end of a duet with a trumpet.

The school district is fortunate to have director Dave Sanders and choral director Gwen Gilbertson, who work hard to prepare these hundreds of young musicians for future development in high school.

The Advanced Bands never run from difficulty. Their challenging, and well-performed, renditions included Don’t Stop Believin’, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Lion King. That’s the Advanced Jazz Band above. Hayley is in the top row, second from the left.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Unlikely Friends

Our grandson loves to watch this video of the most unlikely of friends. Click on the arrow and join in his fun.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Should Christians Try to “Change the World”? A Controversial Sociologist and Theology Professor Believes It May Be A Misdirected Effort

I enjoy reading “controversial” or “edgy” books that want you to stretch your thinking. I’ve found another one in To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World by James Davisson Hunter.

This professor of Religion, Culture and Social Theory at the U. of Virginia has taken on the views of some heavyweights in the Christian world like Chuck Colson, Jim Dobson and Jim Wallis with his persuasive – and provocative – observations.

His 1991 book, Culture Wars, in which he described the dramatic realignment and polarization that has transformed American politics and culture, laid the groundwork for his current writing efforts.

Christopher Benson, a book reviewer for Christianity Today, said the following in his comments about Hunter’s latest book:

“Faithful presence (Hunter’s coined term) is not about changing culture, let alone the world, but instead emphasizes cooperation between individuals and institutions in order to make disciples and serve the common good. ‘If there are benevolent consequences of our engagement with the world,’ Hunter writes, ‘it is precisely because it is not rooted in a desire to change the world for the better but rather because it is an expression of a desire to honor the creator of all goodness, beauty, and truth, a manifestation of our loving obedience to God, and a fulfillment of God's command to love our neighbor.’"

Interestingly, this is not, at first look, at odds with our Lutheran concept of “living out God's grace in the world.” Stay tuned. More coming when I finish the book.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

For Us, There Was No Better Time to Make the Switch

Our nice, comfortable SUV is now serving some new folks. After much consider-ation, we decided it was time to trade-in the nine-year-old Acura MDX and make the transition to a more fuel efficient automobile.

Pictured above is the “pre-owned” Toyota Prius we recently acquired that has catapulted us into the green age. I was fortunate to get an unexpectedly higher amount on the trade than I thought was possible, and that sealed the deal.

I wrote about the thinking which resulted in the transition to a hybrid in my column in last Sunday’s Kitsap Sun newspaper. To read it, just click here.

I finally had a chance to check the “around town” mileage today, and it came out to 47.8 mpg. At that rate, our monthly gas bill will be cut by just about two-thirds. I couldn’t be happier.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Enjoying Good Times With Old Friends

Our California friends of some 46 years, Ed and Darlene Wall, stopped by this past week for a couple of days while visiting the Pacific Northwest. They are both natives of the Bremerton area, and my wife and I are mostly Californians. So it seems a bit ironic that they now come to their old haunting grounds to see us.

Whenever Ed and I have a chance to be together, going fishing is high on the priority list. Of course you have to know that the odds of being able to CATCH a fish by just dropping in on a lake, are pretty long. Except for the “Koskela Guide Service.”

We started out at Blackmans Lake, located smack dab in the middle of the city of Snohomish, but had no luck at all. We then headed for Flowing Lake, about ten miles north-northeast, and it wasn’t too long before Ed was fighting a scrappy, young, fat rainbow trout (pic above). We didn’t have a whole lot of time, as we all wanted to drive up to Snoqualmie Falls in the afternoon.

I'm sure Ed is thankful for a competent guide service. To my chagrin, he almost missed the fish while watching a mother duck train her ducklings after I had provided the location, pole, line, bait and may have even baited his hook. Apparently, his mind wanders easily.

Above are Darlene, Ed and Kay Lynne whom I snapped at the Falls overlook. At this time of year, the water is really gushing as you can see.

Good times with old friends is a commodity you can’t purchase. It has to be developed. There were lots of laughs as we recalled several of the more humorous times we’ve shared in the past. Ask Ed sometime about “slippery rock at Donner Lake.” My side hurts from laughing when I think about it.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Moms and Wives

In a parallel life to retirement and a part time work enterprise, I write a bi-weekly Sunday column for the Kitsap Sun, the daily newspaper in Kitsap County, across the Sound. With it being Mother’s Day, for today’s column I gathered some wisps about my mom and some recollections of the day that have all but disappeared.

You can read the post here, if you’d like.

With moms covered in the newspaper piece, I didn’t want this Day to go by without acknowledging moms (and grandmothers) who are also wives. Specifically that includes my wife, Kay Lynne, who, if you ask either of our sons (or any of our grandkids), is deeply loved and acknowledged as “the Great Encourager” by all of them.

So much is required of a good mother, and when one is blessed with a wife who is also a great mom, one is truly blessed. Happy Mother’s Day, KL.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

A “Significant” Birthday for Kay Lynne

My wife has a “significant” birthday today. I’m not sposed to reveal her age, so I won’t, but here's a sneak clue: she had her first Medicare deduction this month from S.S.

Her first choice on very special occasions is always to be with family, so this morning we went to the Seattle Children’s Museum (with the son, daughter-in-law and grandson who live nearby) and then had lunch at Chinooks in Seattle’s historic Fisherman’s Terminal. The week following next we’ll repeat the celebration in Oregon with the son, daughter-in-law and three granddaughters who live there.

The pic above of the five of us was taken earlier today at FT, and one or two of the boats you see in the background you might have also seen in the extremely popular TV series Deadliest Catch on the Discovery channel. The few crab boats still here will soon be leaving for the treacherous Alaskan waters to search for and harvest King Crab for your next great restaurant or home dining experience.

Grandma is enjoying her day, and deservedly so. This matriarch is the personification of love, care and understanding for the Koskela clan. Happy Birthday, KL – all shmixtysome years worth! You are loved by all who know you!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Discovering Perspective in Lutheran Worship

The longer my wife and I worship in the Lutheran venue, the more we appreciate its teachings.

During this morning’s worship, we participated in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism for two precious infants who were welcomed into the family of God and whose families and the congregation were commissioned to be an integral part of these young lives until each can declare her own faith at Confirmation. The wonderful photo montage, by the way, is on the main web page of our church, St Andrews Lutheran in Bellevue.

Just as water is needed to sustain physical life, Lutherans believe that the Baptismal water initiates and symbolizes one’s entrance into the kingdom of God. The encompassing support a child receives from family and congregants provides the guidance to lead that young child to his or her own personal faith and salvation.

An idea that is new to Kay Lynne and me is the “sidebar” on each page of our weekly worship bulletins. Each week these informational comments shed light on the particular theme for the week - usually related to the church calendar - or give enlightenment on a liturgical point that we might be celebrating.

As an example, because we had Holy Baptisms today, following is the sidebar which appeared on the first page of our worship order bulletin. It provides a wonderful perspective and deeper understanding as to how Baptism fits in to our faith practice. Here it is:

Today’s Theme – Grace alone is key to our understanding of life with God. In Jesus Christ, we share the promise of forgiveness and new life. By the power of the Holy Spirit, God comes to us again and again through the Means of Grace, the Gospel, Holy Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper. This morning we remember God’s enfolding grace that comes to us as we remember our baptisms into the Body of Christ, the Church.

Thanks be to God.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Here Comes #3…

Seven-year-old Aubrey, the youngest of our three granddaughters, has started in organized sports. She had her first tee-ball game this week.

From the pic above, it’s not clear if it’s pitching in her future – or the outfield. Whatever the case, she’s got the moves. Looks like a fun time on the diamond for the next couple of months. Can’t wait to see her play.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Granddaughters Are Athletes!

Granddaughters Hayley (13) and Aubrey (7) are both very busy with Spring sports in Oregon. Seventh grader Hayley had her first track meet yesterday in Forest Grove, and Aubrey has a new baseball glove and is practicing for her first T-ball game.

Pic above shows Hayley running the hurdles yesterday (the girl is athletic – she also long jumps).

Above is Aubrey with her appropriately colored mitt (it’s Aubrey).

Now, if we can just figure out a day or two when all three of them are playing or running, we might be able to catch them all in action on one trip. Talli (15) is on her high school track team as well.

Monday, April 05, 2010

“His Ribs Feel Fine to Me”

Grandson NJ had fun checking out our Cavalier KC Spaniel, Buddy, yesterday, following Grandma’s delicious ham dinner and his mom’s incredible cheesecake. The boy shows signs of future success as a physician, as he seems to be checking the dog very thoroughly.

Above, he’s having fun counting the Easter eggs he found. Come to think of it, he also shows indications he could end up as an accountant. Eggs are pretty much the same as beans, aren’t they?
Click on any photo for a larger image, if you'd like.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

“He Is Not Here; For He Has Been Raised, As He Said”

This 14th century painting, The Holy Women at the Sepulchre, by Duccio di Buoninsegna, depicts the early moments of that first Easter morning when the angel proclaimed the exciting news of the Resurrection.

We trust your Easter will be filled with worship, thanksgiving, and celebration of the Risen Christ.

He is risen, indeed!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rare Old San Francisco Film Footage

Here's something you likely have never seen before. This film was shot with a 35mm camera mounted on the front of a San Francisco streetcar. Note the chaotic traffic system and apparent lack of vehicle regulations. It looks to me like it was possibly shot on Market St. heading east toward the Ferry Building. Recently recovered from long-time storage, the film is said to have been shot just a few days before the great S.F. earthquake in 1906.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Reflective and Memorable Palm Sunday Holy Communion

Today’s worship service at St Andrews Lutheran Church was perhaps one of the most memorable that I can recall in my dozens of years of church attendance.

As we entered, we noticed that behind the center altar in the circular-shaped sanctuary was a long table with 13 places in a tableau-like scene. Following Scripture readings and prayers, 13 people fell into place at the setting, representing the 12 disciples and Jesus at the Last Supper, or Passover Meal.

Each disciple then offered personal reflections on what it was like for him to follow their leader, Jesus. We learned a bit about each one’s home town, family, calling and commitment.

It was a moving worship experience. We were reminded that Christ chose ordinary people, warts and all, to follow him and embrace a changed perspective for living.

When all had spoken, the entire congregation came to the altar one-by-one to celebrate and participate in Holy Communion. Still today we find our spiritual strength renewed and refreshed with every partaking of the meal elements.

My wife and I have learned to appreciate a fresh and deeper meaning to the Communion sacrament since we have been worshiping in the Lutheran tradition. We have become conscious that the Eucharist is much more than just a “remembrance” or a symbolic ritual.

The Eucharist meal, we now recognize, in a mysterious way provides us and sustains us with what we need to live out the grace of God in our daily encounters and occurrences.

Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Experience Adds Appreciation

There are certain things in life that you must experience in order to fully appreciate. I suppose a variety of things could fall into this category, but (a) kids and (b) grandkids are certainly two of them.

On Monday night a second cousin of mine gave birth to a beautiful, healthy little girl (click here for their blog story). The feelings and involuntary responses that she and her husband have experienced since then could not have been “explained” to them, nor could they have felt them, ahead of time. But right now they are overwhelmed with love and feelings of bonding for their little sweetheart.

The same was true when Kay Lynne gave birth to our sons, first to Gregg and later to Doug. The intense feelings of love and total acceptance we felt and experienced following their arrivals came totally out-of-the-blue and ended up deep within our beings from where we could not extract them.

The same has been true at the birth of each of our grandchildren. And I’m very happy that things work that way.

For the past two days we were privileged to enjoy time with our sons, daughters-in-law and grandkids at a beautiful ocean beach front vacation home on the coast. Pictured above are all of us just before we left for home (except moi, of course, the “taker”.)

All I can say is that this pleasurable experience has already woven its way deep into my psyche and memory and will forever remain there to “call up” from time to time.

These times together are also occurrences you have to live through to fully grasp. Even so, much takes place at the feeling level, almost subconsciously, and the reality of it all often doesn’t totally sink in until you’ve had a chance to process it.

I think I’m continuing to do that right now, and I’m deeply thankful for each and every one of these incredible human beings whom God has brought into our lives.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A First & A Second For Talli In Track Inaugural

Our high school sophomore granddaughter, Talli, took first place in the 3K run (and beat several boys in the process – note pic) and a second in the 1500 meters on Thursday in a dual meet at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Oregon, just east of Portland.

What a great start for Talli’s 2010 varsity track season. She ran an 11.36.02 in the 3K and a 5.19.88 in the 1500, getting nosed out by less than 2 seconds. Both are excellent “first race” times, especially when run within an hour of each other. I get tired just thinking about it!

I didn’t know girls ran directly against boys in high school track, but perhaps in a dual meet, when there aren’t that many competitors, they can gain some event efficiencies by doing so. I’m going to ask Talli about it when I see her in a day or so.

Congratulations, Talli. You’re off to a great start for the season!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, Nikolai

Today, I’ve been told, is the birthday of Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov. But I think I’ll call him "Nick".

Nick may have been one of the first to use a hyphenated last name. He was a Russian musician who lived through the turn of the 20th century. He died just short of 102 years ago.

A passionate and accomplished pianist, Nick became an active composer and was a contemporary of Tchaikovsky. They were “cautious comrades,” however, each proud of, and protective of, his own work.

One of his more well known pieces is Flight of the Bumblebee which closes act III of his opera, The Tale of Tsar Saltan, composed in 1899-1900.

The reason I noticed Nick’s birthday is due to a very creative application of his last name. If you’ve ever been to Portland Oregon’s funky east side, you may have come across the Rimsky-Korsakoffee House, a very popular eatery, coffee gathering place and music bistro. Click here to reach their blog.

My wife and I enjoyed some outstading chamber music there back in the 90’s. Apparently, it’s still going strong.

So, Happy Birthday, Nick. Thanks for your music contribution to our lives!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Some Music Fun

You can't beat this for music improvisation! It was sent to me by my old California friend, "Boof." Click on the arrow below for some great music on video. First grab your guitar/uke/banjo so you can strum along...

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Fishing May Take a Back Seat For a While

Life in general, for this retiree, is getting busier rather than calmer. And I couldn’t be more jazzed about it.

Once you’ve been retired for a period of time, daily routines become less than challenging and efficiencies begin to erode. But it’s really only during the last six months or so that I’ve become more aware of the slide toward inadvertent time squandering.

As a result of an incredibly fortuitous set of circumstances, I now have a part time work assignment that I not only am most happy with but also that provides me with an ideal resolution for time malaise. On top of that, the southern California hi-tech company providing this opportunity operates using cutting-edge technology in its field and grants the opportunity for this older guy to stay on top of things.

The only factor for which I’ll now have to incorporate some creative efficiency is the fact that I’ll have less overall time for my favorite recreational enterprise: salmon, steelhead and trout fishing. Somehow, though, I’ve got a feeling I’ll still be able to work it in from time to time.

Btw, the pic is of the largest trout I’ve ever caught. It was a 17-pound Brown Trout that I hooked in Lake Michigan near Sturgeon Bay, WI three years ago this April. I still can appreciate it everyday because it's mounted on my office wall. (Sorry about the shirt dishevelment in the photo; I wasn't exactly focused on attire.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Finding the “Right” Church Is a Challenging Experience

Since we moved to the Eastside (actually the NorthEastside) of the Seattle metro area just over four months ago, my wife and I have been “church hunting” on most Sundays. We’ve been to many churches once but we have visited two churches several times at least.

Today, after a wonderful worship experience at St. Andrews Lutheran in Bellevue (above pic), Kay Lynne and I agreed that we may not have to look much more. It’s a good feeling to be finally zeroing-in on what could become our church “home.” We very much miss the wonderful experiences we had at First Lutheran Church in Poulsbo when we lived in Kitsap County.

As an overview, St Andrews maintains a traditional, orthodox, liturgical worship service (which fits our particular needs at this point in life) with an inclusive, broad-based membership that crosses apparently all socio-economic categories as well as a fairly balanced age distribution from the very young to the very aged (thankfully :). Holy communion is celebrated each Sunday.

The primary preaching minister (and senior Pastor) is the Rev. James McEachran (right), a learned Bible scholar and superb communicator. He’s been at the church since 1983 and appears to be loved and esteemed by the congregation.

One of the things most attractive to us at St Andrews is the incredible variety of Bible studies and opportunities for growth and learning. It looks like there’s no excuse here for relaxing into complacency regarding one’s faith journey.

I won’t be so bold as to say our “church search” is over, but I think we both agree that we’re going to give St Andrews every opportunity to become our church home. Thanks be to God.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It’s “Almost” Spring…

We got outside for a walk and then some play time on the patio today, as the days are getting longer and warmer, though it was hard to tell in the cool back yard shade this afternoon.

Our grandson NJ is simply happy anytime he can go outside, even if he has to bundle up. Today Kay Lynne caught this pic of him sitting in his own “big boy” patio chair.

Of course he’s not a charmer, or anything like that…

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

About Time I Posted Something

I got a phone call today from my former business partner and California fishing buddy, Ed Wall, pictured above this past Christmas with his lovely wife, Darlene.

“How long are we going to have to look at that five- or six-inch long fish?” he asked, referring to a photo in the last post.

“FIVE OR SIX INCHES,” I responded. “It’s at least 15” long.”

“Can’t be if those are ‘two-by-fours’ it’s laying on,” he retorted.

“Ah, but they are two by eights,” I pointed out.

Turns out, he was bored silly and was looking for fresh reading material. Admittedly my last post was two full weeks old.

Well, now it isn’t.

At least Ed has something to read tonight. They were planning to fly out at midnight to visit their son’s family in Maine, but the east coast snow storm cancelled their flight.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Flowing Lake Yields Nice Rainbow on First Trip

When I stuck my head out the door at 6:30 yesterday morning to check the weather for possible fishing, it felt very cold and it was raining steadily. A perfect reason to head back in for a few more winks.

But by noon the rain had stopped, and the sun, trying to peek through here and there, had warmed the temp a bit. I decided that an afternoon trip to Flowing Lake (see Jan 21 post) might be in the cards.

Finally got there around 3 p.m. only to find the “free” dock loaded with more fishermen than it was designed to hold. So I went back around the lake to the State Park at the north end where I had to pay a small fee to park and fish.

But I was then the only one on the dock.

The top pic, taken with my cell phone cam, shows how beautiful and peaceful it was from that vantage point. I was actually fishing by 3:30 and enjoyed a very quiet 30 minutes with nothing but an occasional dog bark in the distance.

I decided to move the bait a few feet along the bottom (a technique used to sometimes arouse a fish’s interest), and it wasn’t five minutes till the pole tip was twitching furiously.

The fish felt good, so I loosened the drag a bit and let him make several tiring runs. I was then able to ease him out of the water onto the dock to get a closer look at what I had caught. Not spectacular, but it was a very nice 15” rainbow trout (yes, I measured it – 15-1/4” actually – see photo above). He was what we call a “pounder” (weighs about a pound).

I left him in the water on the stringer to swim around until I gutted him just before leaving for home. That kept the fish nice and fresh in case we want to cook him up in a day or so. All in all, it was one of the best “first-time-at-a-lake” experiences I think I’ve ever had.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Underwater Excitement at Seattle Aquarium

Yesterday Kay Lynne and I had a chance to meet up with our son and grandson at the Seattle Aquarium, right on the waterfront. I snapped the above pic with my cell phone just before we entered.

We had a great time trying to keep up with our grandson as he wanted to see everything and is getting really fast on two feet. He loves to watch any living thing, and fish are among his favorite things to observe.

In one section of the aquarium a large, underwater dome lets you view just about every fish and sea creature said to swim in Puget Sound. Seeing the underside of a large sturgeon provided the biggest surprise (for me, at least); it almost seems as if they have four “legs” on their belly (I think they’re actually stabilizers). Hmmm.. wonder if they once walked around the area. They are said to be prehistoric, you know.

Anyway, we had a great time. I think the boy did too. He was asleep quickly once in the car on the way home.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fishing Bug Causes Me To Check Out Nearby Lakes

The fishing bug has been annoying me a lot lately, and it usually takes a catch or two to assuage it.

Rather than actually going fishing today (I did throw the pole in the car, however) I visited three lakes within a 30-mile radius of home for the purpose of doing some reconnaissance work. On my leisurely drive, I stopped at Lake Stevens, east of Everett, Flowing Lake, north of Monroe, and Blackmans Lake right smack dab in the city of Snohomish.

The first stop was at Wyatt Park on the west side of Lake Stevens. There is a beautiful fishing dock there alongside the boat launch but the wind was kicking up quite a bit and I found no one fishing. The largest of the three, Lake Stevens may offer some good trouting later on toward spring.

I then went to Flowing Lake, a beautiful spot tucked into the back roads on the north side of Monroe (on US Hwy 2 about 20 miles east of Everett). There are both a State Park (fee based) and a free public boat launch that have nice docks for fishing. At the free dock I met a very interesting, 80-year-old retired Chicago chef (top pic), who told me that he fishes “eight days a week,” mostly here at Flowing Lake or at nearby Tye Lake. My kind of guy, this man named McCann.

During our conversation I discovered that we had a lot in common. We’re both retired, both lived in Chicago, both spent a lot of time fishing in Wisconsin and Michigan and we both are writers of sorts.

But the astronomical-odds occurrence was that he went to high school some 65 years ago in Eau Claire, Wisconsin with a brother of my late Aunt Beatrice who grew up on a farm near Eau Claire that was actually closer to the little town of Mondovi.

My cousin Linda (Beatrice and Bill’s daughter) and Linda’s daughter Kelly and son Erik all live nearby in the greater Seattle area. I can’t wait to let them know of this wild coincidence to see if there’s any name recognition with the man I met today. (I guess they might see it here first. :)

Final stop was at Blackmans Lake (above), a watershed basin within the city of Snohomish. Three guys were fishing on the dock, and I saw a very nice 13” rainbow reeled in while I was there.

I’ve made this conclusion: all are good lakes for trout fishing from a dock (which is what I was looking for), and I plan to return to all of them. All are good for trout fishing with a boat, if a person has one (I’ve long since sold my last boat but one of my sons does have a beauty). Flowing will have the best tasting fish (from what my new friend said), Blackmans likely has the largest fish but it’s a shallower lake and the fish quality can deteriorate in the summer, and I’m sort of in the dark about the quality of fish at Lake Stevens.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Independents Gaining Influential Political Strength

Republican Scott Brown (above) captured the hearts and minds of Independent voters in Massachusetts and last night won the late Ted Kennedy’s – er, the PEOPLE’S – Senate seat.

In watching post-election TV wags of all varieties, it became apparent that, right now, if you win over Independents, you’ve got a shot at winning an election.

Massachusetts has more than twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans but the overall plurality goes to registered Independents. Brown won them over and won the election.

Apparently, that’s been going on for a long time in the Cape Cod State – rather unnoticed, I might add. It does explain how an electorate can at the same time vote Ted Kennedy and Mitt Romney into two of the top three political positions in the state some years ago.

Barack Obama won the Presidency by getting overwhelming support from Independents in ’08, and many Democrats were swept into power at the same time with the same formula.

I guess now the question is going to be whether or not Democrats in the elections this Fall can continue to do what they did in the last election year or whether enough Republicans can win over enough Independents to change the balance of power in Congress?
We better stay tuned.