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God Still Goes that Road with Us

The feel of a breeze and the sound of a raging wind evoke two strong memories. I’m a participant in the first. While it was possible to swim at our own place on the St Clair River, my mother, father, and I, often accompanied by my aunt and uncle, would boat across the river to a small, uninhabited island on the Canadian side of the river, Doe Island. We’d hang our towels on the “No Trespassing” sign, and swim and picnic away the day. The best part of the memory is of the trip home. I’d wrap...

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So It Seems

Bloggingyourpassion.com estimates that 500 million (500,000,000!) current websites are considered blogs, and between five and six million new blog posts are published every day. I had to sit with those numbers for several minutes before I could continue drafting this post. How in the world could there be half a billion people believing they have something interesting, unique, and/or helpful to add to the world’s dialogue? The article queried, “Hasn’t it all been said before?” then answered its...

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Five Smooth Stones

“I don’t understand why people read fiction. It’s a waste of time; you don’t learn a thing.” That was the opening of a conversation with a co-worker that happened over forty years ago. So many years back, but how could I, a passionate devotee of fiction, forget such a stupid comment? My response, delivered with fervor, included three main points. One, who says the only valid outcome of reading is education? I read for fun, for escape, to enter unknown worlds. To find joy, be scared, outraged...

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Today is an Eight

My growing up years included school, church, Brownies, and a smattering of dance and piano lessons. All of those molded and formed me.  My life was also a mix of make-believe and magic. They, too, created the person I am today. The Wishing Tree I grew up following some benign superstitions—being careful not to step on cracks in the sideway, and reciting “bread and butter” when separated by an obstacle when walking with a friend. I also believed in several Hingelberg-clan good luck charms....

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We Gather Together

There are many advantages to being a woman-of-a-certain-age and having friends who share an equivalent number of decades. After the frightening  months of the pandemic, we elders were the first age group to have access to the Covid-19 vaccine. When Linda and I passed the two-week post-vaccine mark, we had such a sense of liberation, a feeling of being set free from 13 months of self-imposed house arrest. We delighted in accepting an invitation to a dinner party for six at a friend’s home...

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Needs Must

My light-heartedness was a welcome surprise the past couple of days. I couldn’t have guessed that two snow days in a row would seem such a blessing, but they were. Two days of unstopping, unstoppable flurries. Mostly small, hard-to-see specks of snow, sometimes lovely, large flakes, the sort I most like watching. I couldn’t go out; I didn’t want to go out. For a full eleven months now we’ve been separated, set aside by fear: fear of people and places where COVID-19 could be lurking. Fear of...

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HAPPY TALK

Optimistic, but also realistic. Hopeful, yet cautious. Upbeat, with a bit of soberness. Bold and, of course, prudent. Those are my values when I’m writing my blogs. Many people respond that my pieces lean toward the positive, and that pleases me. It’s my goal: balance, leaning to the positive. Recently, though, my writing critique partner, Heather, said, “Amory, why don’t you write something positive? Something uplifting? I need positive right now. Leave out the negatives.” My first response...

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A Dawn in Every Darkness

Of course, New Year’s Eve 2020 was different. How could it not be? St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, July Fourth, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas had to be re-created. Why wouldn’t New Year’s Eve be as well? For over two decades Linda and I have celebrated a belated Christmas/New Year’s Eve mash-up with two friends from Olympia. Most years our South Sound friends traveled up to Bellingham, often via Amtrak. They arrived on the 30th. That evening we’d have a light supper and...

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If Only In My Dreams

There are songs that have always been part of my life. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” is one of those. We’ve  shared a lifetime together. I was born in 1943, the same year that lyricist Ken Gannon and composer Walter Kent created what was to become a Christmas classic.  “I’ll Be Home” is written from the point of view of a World War II GI stationed overseas. The soldier is dreaming of snow, mistletoe, and presents round the tree.  Bing Crosby helped make the song a hit. He...

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O Blessed Communion

About twenty-five years ago, eight or ten of us gathered. It was most probably on Whidbey Island. The details are sketchy, but I do know the weather was fair, for we met outdoors both days. I am absolutely certain we were strategizing “good trouble,” pushing the United Methodist Church toward full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the life of the denomination. Without a doubt, for it is my most clear memory of the time together, we ended our working get-away with a shared meal. As we finished our...

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Shining City on a Hill

Saturday, November 7, 2020, four long days after the election, was Euphoria Day. Linda and I dubbed it so in a rush of enthusiasm and a deep need for distraction. Just before 8:30 that morning the major news outlets announced Joe Biden had crossed the 270 electoral votes threshold and would be the next president of the USA. We deliberately set aside all concerns up to that day and postponed our worries about what’s ahead. It was time to celebrate the announcement and relish the evening coming...

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Is a Puzzlement

As a young person, my mindset was something like this: Once I get past this problem (a break in a friendship, a rough patch at work, the death of a grandparent) everything will be alright. That theory evolved into a mature recognition that trouble is never finished with us.  When one situation is resolved, another is certain to come along.  The blessing is that as we learn from each setback, we are increasingly able to cope. But, in 2020, we’re seeing something never seen...

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Be Astonished

Flooding from the hurricanes hitting the Southeast and forest fires devouring the West call to mind the ten plagues of the book of Exodus and the seven plagues of the book of Revelation.  Those natural disasters, piling on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial unrest, and political wrangling  seem unimaginable. But, it is all real. The fires are horrendous.  As of mid-September, the fires in California had burned 3.7 million acres, the largest wildfire season in California history. ...

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Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Monday, March 23, 2020, Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee issued his first Stay-At-Home order.  That day became the marker between BEFORE and NOW.  I was so uninformed about viruses, quarantine, and all such related.  Naive, was more like it.  I was not surprised when the Governor’s order extended into April, but amazed when May was also “cancelled.” My wife Linda consistently predicted the pandemic would last through the fall, even into winter.  I couldn’t imagine such...

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Our Better Angels

On August 10, 2020, the above-the-fold Seattle Times headline read “U.S. hits 5 million confirmed virus cases, alarming Europe.” The piece went on to describe the unbelievable number of COVID 19 cases and resulting dismay and disbelief beyond our borders.  A second article, “A COVID ‘silver lining,’” covered a report on the loosening of medical restrictions, allowing for increased on-phone consultations, including diagnosing, and prescribing. Staff reporter Scott Greenstone centered his...

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Fairest Lord Jesus

COVID-19, horrid as it is, has gifted me with time.  Hours that normally would have been used to go here and there, doing this and that, have been spent at home.  Much of that at-home time has been filled with watching and learning. I’ve learned about viruses, flattening the curve, and handwashing/mask wearing requirements.  I’ve also been exposed to George Floyd’s lynching shown live on TV and the resulting protests over his death.  Cable TV and the internet have brought...

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Swiftly Flow the Days

My favorite spot in Bellingham is Taylor Dock.  Ever since it was completed in 2006, it has been my go-to place for strolling and, especially, bench sitting.  I outlined this piece in my head yesterday while sitting on “my” bench, the sound of waves and the feel of breezes from Bellingham Bay soothing me.  In that sun-drenched spot, my mind pondered the concept of time. As a child, I was raised to be mindful of time—being on time, coming home on time.  Honoring time...

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How Can I Keep From Singing?

Two of the questions I hear tossed about during this set-apart time are these: What are you enjoying about these days?  What are you missing?  My wife Linda and I chat about them frequently.  We have no trouble coming up with answers.  We give thanks for our comfortable home, with interesting things to look at out the windows and a large deck for relaxing and catching the sun. Our condo is filled with shelves and shelves of books, and we have quite a collection of writing...

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Fear Not

My childhood God spoke in the cadence of King James.  As I remember, He often told me to “fear not.” … fear not … peace I leave with you … let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid … take therefore, no thought for the morrow … be not dismayed … the Lord is my helper, and I will not fear … the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? … fear not I’ve been compiling a “brave/not brave” scorecard for my childhood self.  Believe I was middling-brave. I...

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Act Your Age

My kid brother and I (he’s 64, I’m 76) talk often on the phone.  As an opener, Ed often ponders deep questions. Questions such as: Why do you have to “put your two cents in,” but it’s only a “penny for your thoughts”?  Where’s that extra penny going?What disease did cured ham actually have?Why are you in a movie but you’re on TV? At other times, he’s in the mood to examine some vintage bits of advice like: Actions speak louder than words.All things come to those who wait.All’s fair...

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Stir Me From Placidness

“There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” I find comfort in those words by Leonard Cohen.  His message helps me handle my mistakes and mis-steps.  Those hiccups are just cracks—the light they let in will be illustrative, all will be better than before, etc.  That light-handed attitude is often helpful, keeping me from wallowing in my worries.  However, the cracks around us today are overwhelming, incomprehensible chasms in the structure of this country....

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Healthy Instruction

Making decisions for my personal life doesn’t daunt me.  Since I’m in my late seventies and live with chronic heart disease, I know that sequestering at home is the right thing to do.  Getting out for a bit of exercise is important, so my wife and I are careful to maintain physical distance between ourselves and those we pass on the sidewalk.  On the few occasions when I’m at the pharmacy or picking up a take-out food order, I choose to wear one of my two decorative face...

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Where You Gonna Run To?

Computers were making their way into library systems just about the time I was beginning my long volunteer career as a public library trustee.  I recall one Washington Library Association keynote session where the speaker began by saying, “I want to introduce you to the concept called the World Wide Web.”  My learning curve was a fascinating struggle. One day my work phone rang.  On the line was our library  director calling to say, “Someone tried to hack into a public computer in one of our...

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Check the Colors

Lottie Daggett was a good friend of mine.  She was in her early 90s and I in my 50s when we met. She died at 101 ½. Lottie rode with me to church for years, and was my  “mother” at a number of Mother and Daughter teas.  I’d visit her quite regularly, and we’d have fine chats.  The two of us would discuss current affairs and the doings at the church. I was continually impressed with the keenness of her mind.  For her 99th birthday, she received more than 75 cards.  Lottie told me proudly that...

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Three Things I Pray

My car radio is fixed on National Public Radio 90.3, and I always listen while driving around town.  I lose that connection though, driving the twisting route out of town.  The foothills of the Chuckanut Mountains block the signal.  That’s when the music comes on. Yesterday’s CD choice was Godspell, the raucous, wonderful 1971 rock opera based on the Gospel of Matthew.  It is one of many musicals I can sing my way through, and sing I did: “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord,” “Save the People,”...

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