Praying for our city

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The Faith-based Subcommittee of Visalia’s Committee on Homeless Issues invited any and all interested Visalians to come spend a half an hour at lunchtime today praying for our city. Of our 127,000 or so residents, a stalwart dozen showed up at Oval Park downtown for 30 minutes of silent prayer or meditation. There were no organized speeches, no hand-outs or microphones…just ordinary people sitting quietly at picnic tables in the center of this historic park, smack in the middle of some of the roughest neighborhoods in Visalia. Some read their Bibles, one wrote in her journal, others simply closed their eyes and prayed silently. Rev. Suzy went to the gazebo and invited those residents sitting there to join us, and after a few minutes one gentleman did.

For me, the traffic swirling around the park provided an instant reminder that we truly were in the center of downtown, and that we need to continue to bring the light of Christ into all areas of our city. Having thirty minutes designated for prayer was an absolute gift (even though “Jesus Christ is Bubbling All Over” was still singing in my head, compliments of ChristKids’ Preschool Graduation this morning). Several attendees asked that we do this on a monthly basis, and I hope that happens.

Perhaps next time our numbers will have doubled. Please pray for the health and well-being of your city, wherever it may be.

We love, as Christ loved us

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I had breakfast with a group of friends this morning, and what began as a simple “How are you?” soon became so much more. As I grow older, I appreciate the honest answers those of my vintage and beyond give to such simple questions. It is as though we realize life is too short to gloss over truth and reality anymore. Life can be tough as we and those we love age, and the sooner we feel free to acknowledge that, the sooner we are also free to offer and receive love, understanding, and support to and from our friends.

Each of us at breakfast was dealing with or has dealt with some form of dementia in a loved one. We know the hurt, frustration, and horror of our loved one no longer recognizing us on a consistent basis. We have watched our loved one disappear into a fog of forgetfulness and fear. We know how difficult it is to always be called upon to be strong, plan for all possible contingencies, stay cheerful when the bottom of our world is falling apart.

So through our conversation about dementia in general and our own experiences in specific, we kept coming back to Christ’s message of love. Not the Valentinesy roses and chocolates kind of love, but the love that gives us strength to bathe and dress our partners or our parents when they have forgotten how buttons work, the love that lets us listen to the same story this afternoon that we were told two minutes ago by our partner who has no recollection of telling it in the first place.

That same love that Jesus modeled for his disciples and followers so long ago allows us to tell our hurting friend, “If you need anything — a break in routine, a bad joke, a meal — just call and we will come.” And that’s the whole point of our belief, isn’t it? We are to love, as Christ loved us. It isn’t the most important thing He taught; it is the only thing.

A modern fairy tale

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Once upon a time, in a kingdom not too far away, there lived a dowager queen who was organized, efficient, and filed her taxes in a timely manner. And whenever that happens, I will tell her story.

However, this is not her year, so she is burning the midnight oil to file her taxes only a month or so behind schedule. Her goal is to be finished before she goes to bed. No story tonight.

Sweet dreams.

Comfort food

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It is middle-of-the-night comfort food time. The rest of the household is fast asleep, and I’m raiding the kitchen for ice cream and tea. Not just any ice cream, but wonderfully rich and creamy Dryer’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream — a huge bowl full! And along with that, my thermal mug filled with Mango Ceylon tea. Aahhhh…contentment.

Rocky Horror Picture Show

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I was out in the garage a bit ago, relaxing for a few minutes with my daughter, when she switched the television channel to the Rocky Horror Picture Show. My mind instantly traveled back to the night nearly 35 years ago, when my not-yet husband and I went to see Rocky Horror for the first (and for me, the only) time. I loved the music, and most of the dancing, but overall the movie freaked me out. Enough so, actually, that I walked out midway through and spent the rest of the time in the lobby.

Rocky Horror

Not so my date, who became infatuated with in this strange musical, visiting it in theaters up and down California, seeing it nearly 300 times, and memorizing every nuance and every line of dialogue. Last year he and our daughter went to see a live performance in Fresno, and she said it was the most fun she and her dad ever had together. As I’m typing this I can hear snippets of song through the wall as Georgia sings along with the soundtrack of the television.

I still haven’t seen it all the way through, although I am curious as to how my reactions would change, 35 years later.

Perhaps someday I will try it again.

Herb encrusted salmon and all the trimmings

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Saturday night I splurged and bought myself dinner after work. Georgia was serving a large party, so another of my favorite servers/adopted children took care of me. Every time he came by to check on me, my mouth was full of amazing Herb-encrusted Salmon or fettuccini Alfredo, so I was reduced to pointing and nodding.

I was sitting at a table for two, and there was an empty chair at my table, so I had a steady stream of servers and bussers who came for brief visits during dinner. I am so blessed to be part of the team at Olive Garden 1630, where “When you’re here, you’re family” is not just an empty slogan.

Herb-encrusted salmon, fettucchini Alfredo, the world's best breadsticks, and a Scotch and soda...who could ask for more?

Herb-encrusted salmon, fettuccini Alfredo, the world’s best breadsticks, and a Scotch and soda…who could ask for more?

And my Sicilian Cheesecake is waiting here at my computer for me right now.

Delicious!

Mother Nature

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Mother Nature is messing with us again! As I was taking the girls to school and running a few errands early, the rain was spitting down, hardly enough to get the windshield wet. The skies stayed mostly gray, but with sunshine now and again, until later afternoon when the thunderheads started piling up.

I kept asking guests whether it had started raining, or was it still sprinkling. A couple of guests noted that it was feeling like rain, but only one said it was raining hard. When I got home tonight, the sidewalk was actually wet, and the ground was showing moisture. But by this time even the sprinkling had stopped.

Meanwhile, Facebook was filled with a variety of photographs of people kayaking in their neighborhood streets in Fresno, less than 50 miles away! And Tioga Pass, which had been opened for the season with great fanfare last week, was closed again last night in anticipation of a huge snowstorm today.

The weather report is calling for a 70% chance of rain in about 10 minutes. Let’s hope Mother Nature comes through and we all stay inside, warm and cozy, while the rain pours down.

Sweet dreams.

Reading binge

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I’ve been on another mini-reading binge over the past few days. I discovered Coming Home, Danielle Steel’s very first novel, published way back in 1973, in my local WalMart. As usual, I started reading and couldn’t stop until I finished. But the extra treat was in knowing that this was how she began her career — with as delightfully solid a novel as any she has written since. Look for it at the library or your favorite bookstore.

Then Melody sent me another book box, and off I went again. First out of the box was Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed, by Michelle Knight. Michelle was the first of the three young women kidnapped by Ariel Castro in Cleveland, Ohio. Her story is so horrifying…but so compelling I read it nearly non-stop, too. So much of her story was of incredible cruelty that my mind was blown by the parts she chose not to share. Although this is definitely not bedtime reading, that’s exactly what I did. Stayed awake until 2:30 reading because I had to know how she got away. Not for the faint-of-heart, but definitely an amazing story of determination and grit.

Next in the stack was A Love Undone, by Cindy Woodsmall. This was billed as “an Amish novel of shattered dreams and God’s Unfailing Grace”, and it totally lived up to the description. The contrast between this and Finding Me was amazing. The story was told in such a sweet and simple way, but was compelling, non-the-less. Woodsmall has written three separate series of books involving the Amish community, and I will be looking for more of them. Thank you, Melody, for so many good reads.

I finished the last title in my reading binge this evening (and started on another one, but I’ll leave that for later). One of my doll club friends loaned me The Tinker’s Daughter, a story based on the life of Mary Bunyan, by author and doll artist Wendy Lawton. This is part of her “Daughters of the Faith” series, written for pre-teens and teens, and is woven around John Bunyan’s daughter Mary. I was first introduced to Pilgrim’s Progress by Louisa May Alcott, as Jo March and her sisters acted out portions of it in Little Women, and found Lawton’s depiction of 17th Century England very intriguing.

I think this catches me up from my last 2015 Reading Challenge Post.

2015 Reading Challenge: 12, 13, 14, 15/50.

Planning Commission Meeting

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This evening’s adventure was a trip to the City of Visalia’s twice-monthly meeting of the Planning Commission. Among the items on the agenda was an amendment to the city municipal code that would add chickens to the approved list of household pets allowed within the city limits.

PUBLIC HEARING – Paul Scheibel
Municipal Code Amendment No. 2015-06: A request by the City of Visalia to Amend Titles
6 (Animals) and 17 (Zoning) to allow chicken keeping in the R-1-6 and R-1-4.5 Singlefamily
Residential Zone Districts. The project is Categorically Exempt from the California
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15305,
Categorical Exemption No. 2015-29

My son-in-law’s aunt, who is also our down-the-street neighbor, was instrumental in bringing this issue to the City Council, and spoke in favor of the amendment. Of the dozen or so people who took part in the public comment session, all but two were in favor (there was also a small group encouraging allowing pigmy goats within the city limits, as well, but that issue was not being officially addressed). Pro-hen speakers talked about the joys of having chickens as pets, teaching children responsibility, self-sufficiency and self-reliance, and how much quieter chickens were than barking dogs. The two ladies who spoke against it cited concerns about noise, smell, potential for disease, and loose chickens causing havoc in the neighborhoods.

The Planning Commission process is rather interesting. The City Council had staff write the proposed amendment and gather information regarding what other municipalities allow and disallow. Then after the citizen comment time, the Commission members discussed the ideas in the open session, and ended up recommending a denial of the amendment so that it could be re-written and strengthened before being voted on by the Council.

I know I’m pretty weird, enjoying watching the process unfold. The next meeting will be June 1, and although I can’t be there, I know Christine will keep me posted. Watch this space for further chicken-as-pets news!

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