Archive for the Family Category

Grandpa’s Pentecost

Posted in Family, Homilies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2016 by timtrue

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John 14:8-17, 25-27

You may or may not know, my grandpa Emmett died this week.  He was one day past 99 and a half years, so we might as well round it to an even 100: born Nov. 12, 1916; died Friday, May 13, at about 7pm.

With him passes nearly a century of wisdom, humor, and selflessness.  He leaves behind his dear wife Peggy (whom he married just seven years ago); his five children (all adopted, by the way); and a vast assortment of grandchildren, nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces, great-grandchildren, and even some great-great-grandchildren.  Quite a legacy!

Emmett’s boyhood brought him from California to New Orleans, where he witnessed his mother—my great-grandmother—navigate her way through a failed marriage to his stepfather.  By adolescence he found himself back in California with his sister and their single mother; struggling to make ends meet in a day when women just weren’t single.

His mother found work building airplanes for the military.  Today we remember her and other women she worked with as Rosie Riveters.

Anyway, something in my grandpa clicked during these adolescent years.  He graduated high school and drove on over to Burbank one day, diploma in hand, inquiring about work with an airplane company called Lockheed.  That airplane company hired him.

Life was now good.  Emmett could now help his mom make ends meet.

But soon—after a certain December day in 1941—he found himself confronted with the possibility of having to join the military.

Instead, however, the people at Lockheed pulled some strings.  Emmett, they said, is involved with a special group of researchers in a place in our organization we call the Skunkworks.

That special group, we know now, was responsible for developing such secret aircraft as the SR71, a plane that for many decades held the record as the fastest of all aircraft.  Lockheed needed Emmett.  He never enlisted.

He then met, fell in love with, and married a woman.  I never learned her name.  Their relationship was fast and furious, like the aircraft he worked on.  In their young, fast, and furious love they decided to adopt a war baby, a girl born March 3, 1945.  They named her Cheryl.

But motherhood and other burdensome responsibilities were apparently too difficult for Emmett’s unnamed wife: he woke one morning to find a note on the pillow next to him; she’d left him and Baby Cheryl forever.

Emmett decided to pool his resources with his single mother.  Together they bought a house and raised Baby Cheryl.

For the next nineteen years, Emmett worked faithfully and tirelessly to provide for this household of three spanning as many generations.  He’d commute from Reseda to Burbank while Granny got Cheryl off to school each morning, picked her up each afternoon, shuttled her back and forth to her cousin Annette’s for play dates, and otherwise raised her.

Then at nineteen, Cheryl moved out and married a dapper, just-graduated-from-UCLA engineer named Dan.

And then—only then: only after he’d faithfully and tirelessly raised his adopted daughter Cheryl for nineteen years and she’d gone off and got married—did Emmett try again to succeed in the realm of romantic love.

Her name was Peggy.  And she brought four children in tow.

Not so fast and furious this time, he fell deeply in love again; and so did Peggy.  They were soon married.  And again Emmett went through the legal process of adoption.  And just like that he found himself with five children, ranging in age from 12 to 22.  Imagine that!

And just like that (!) everything settled into place.  What so recently had seemed chaos was now calm.  And Emmett played no small part in bringing this calm about.

So, by the time Dan and Cheryl had been married for a few years and I was born, this big, happy, stable, functional family was what I knew.

Whatever had occurred in this family’s history didn’t matter to me.  What I cared about was the here and now; and here and now before me (for the next 48 years) was one of the most wise, witty, and selfless persons I’ve ever known, Grandpa Emmett, a calming force, again and again, in our chaotic world.

And you know what else?  He taught me how to wash my eyeball.  Yeah!  Check this out!  <Demonstration.>

So: you know how it is.  We, his family—his five adopted children and all of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren and nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews and everyone else—we miss his legacy.

Especially now, when the grief is still fresh, we miss him—his teachings, his jokes, his example.

—–

Do you think it was really all that different for Jesus’ disciples?

They’d just spent three years of their lives with him.  They’d listened to his teachings.  They’d laughed at his jokes.  And they’d pondered his example.

Who was this man, that even the wind and the waves obeyed him?  Who was he, that at something so simple as his word armed men fell away?  Who was he, to say that no one can come to the Father except through him?  Who was he to bring calm and order to a chaotic world?

He’d left behind a legacy.

But now that he was going away, now with the freshness of the resurrection still playing with the happy end of the disciples’ emotional spectrum, the thought of Jesus leaving them was almost too much to bear.  Hadn’t they just endured the grief of his death?  How would they be able to cope with his absence again?  How would they be able to carry on his legacy?

It is into this emotional roller coaster that Jesus sends his Spirit.

The world is crazy.  It’s chaotic.  It opposes the truth that Jesus is and brings.  But the Spirit continues Jesus Christ’s legacy, bringing calm to a chaotic world.

—–

Let’s revisit now the idea that John’s Gospel breaks the fourth wall.

If you were here two weeks ago—today’s Gospel actually overlaps some with that one—I talked about how John the Evangelist often comes out of his story into the present lives of his audience to make a point.  I likened John’s story to an imaginary rendition of The Wizard of Oz, where right at the tensest point in the movie, what if Dorothy suddenly turned to the camera with a snarky expression on her face and asked, “Would you get a load of those lame special effects?”

It doesn’t happen, of course; but that would be to break the fourth wall.  And that is exactly what John does, several times in fact, in his Gospel.

He writes to an audience living two or three generations after Christ’s death and resurrection—two or three generations after the Day of Pentecost.

Jesus Christ has ascended into heaven.  He is no longer with his disciples.  And now they’ve been kicked out of the local synagogue.  What are they to do?

Through the story he tells, then, John breaks the fourth wall and comes into the present-day story that his community is living out.

“Do not be afraid,” he tells his audience directly.  “Jesus has sent the promised Advocate, his Holy Spirit.  And this Holy Spirit will guide, comfort, and teach us.  Do you see what Jesus promised to our forefathers, the first disciples?  And look around us!  That promise is still happening with us, nearly a hundred years later, despite the trials and chaos we now experience.  Do not let your hearts be troubled.  The Holy Spirit is with us.”

So, my grandpa’s story is something of a fourth wall for me.  I hope it is for you too.

Grandpa Emmett wasn’t a theologian.  He never taught Sunday school.  He didn’t read theological books or become an EfM mentor.

But when trials and chaos came his way and to those around him, he trusted the same words St. John wrote to his community so long ago.  The Holy Spirit was Emmett’s Advocate throughout his life.  The Holy Spirit brought Christ’s peace to Emmett in times of uncertainty.  The Holy Spirit guided Emmett through the way of truth.

And, Emmett’s century of life tells us, the Holy Spirit is still at work in our lives, advocating, guiding, and comforting us through the chaos of our world.

The promises Jesus gave to his disciples and the promises St. John gave to his community—these promises still hold true today.

Thank you for leaving me with this legacy, Grandpa.  May you rest in peace.


Follow up note: I’ve since learned that my grandpa did in fact enlist in the Army for a short time in 1945.  After boot camp and being sworn in, he was released because of the recent adoption of Baby Cheryl.  He returned to Lockheed something like two months after leaving for the Army.  The war ended very shortly after that.  He was thus a veteran, a thing I did not know until his funeral, when a decked veteran showed up and performed Taps while the coffin was lowered into the grave.

Picnic at Plateau Point

Posted in Family, hiking with tags , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2016 by timtrue

It began with a question.  “Hey, Tori,” I asked my daughter on the phone, “how’d you like to hike the Grand Canyon while on spring break?”

That was about a month ago.

Now here we stood, at the South Rim.

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That’s not just Tori in the picture, by the way.  Emily came along too.

She’d caught wind of my plan and said, “Um, Dad, you know, I’m doing well in school, and, uh, well, I could plan ahead and get my assignments for any days I’d miss.”

And so the plan became more complex.

And my wife posted on Facebook something like this: “A good dad gets his kids to school on time; a great dad pulls his daughter out of school to hike the Grand Canyon.”

And so Emily came to the Grand Canyon too.

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What became more complicated still is that I have more than two kids; and at least one other would have liked to go.  But, you see, only Tori had no spring break plans.  And the others had school obligations.

So, anyway, here the three of us stood (two in the photo and one taking it), at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, about to descend the Bright Angel Trail.

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Our plan: to reach the overlook at Plateau Point and make it back to the car before 5pm, 12 miles round trip; and onto home by midnight so that Emily would miss only one day of school.

This was Monday morning, by the way.  We’d driven to Mather Campground on Sunday after church, arriving at our reserved campsite at 8pm.  Having to set up a tent, etc., meant that we were climbing in our sleeping bags by 9pm.

I would have taken a shot or two of the campsite, but the camera lens was frozen.  Yeah, it was that cold!  And, so you know, our sleeping bags weren’t really cold-weather bags, not to mention mine was too short.

We were smiling nevertheless at the trailhead on Monday morning–despite our numb toes!

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You can see our trail, by the way.  Plateau Point is in the middle of the canyon.  You can’t tell from here, but it’s 3000′ below us and still 1000′ above the Colorado River.

To hike to the river and back in one day is not recommended by the NPS.  In fact, anyone doing this is required to obtain a special permit.  That’s about 20 miles round trip.  I figured our planned 12 would be enough.

Here’s one more shot of our trail from the top, with Plateau Point almost exactly in the center:

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I thought about photographing a sign at the top of the trail that said, “Trail is icy.  Crampons recommended.”  But I didn’t.  I don’t know: maybe I still struggle with feeling invincible.  But it struck me as humorous at the time.  I remember thinking, “Wow, these Park people are really going overboard.”

Then, not more than a few hundred yards into our day, we encountered ice.

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Yeah!  That’s ice in the foreground.  And to the right is steepness, or plain old abyss, depending on whether you look a few inches or a few feet to the right.  So, okay, maybe the crampon recommendation wasn’t so overboard after all.

Well, we made it through the first ice patch without event.  And so Emily took a picture of me safe in a tunnel.

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That sign behind me says, “Dangerous overlook. Do not climb.”  So, okay, after this first ice patch without crampons we’ll not laugh this one off.

And here’s their token tunnel shot:

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Then–wouldn’t you know it?–a few hundred yards later we encounter another ice patch.  This one transgresses the entire width of the trail.  There’s no way around it.  We’ve got to go right over it.

So, feeling my twenty year-old invincibility boiling to the surface, “I’ll lead the way,” I volunteer.  So what does Emily do but take another picture.

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But she takes it two seconds too early.  For, literally, within two seconds of this shot my feet slip completely out from under me and I go down hard on my left cheek.  And when I say hard I mean it.  Like landing on concrete!

How I wish I’d had crampons!

Now here’s the rub.  When I was 35 (12.5 years ago) I broke my back resulting in an emergency discectomy.  Yeah.  I have no L5 disc.  So a feet-out-from-under-me-left-cheek-concrete smack is disconcerting (disc-disconcerting!), to say the least.

So I’m lying on my back and running through a mental checklist.  Did anything slip?  No.  Did anything jolt?  No.  Do I have feeling from my waist down?  Yes.  Did I fall into the abyss?  No.  Etc.  Etc.

And, slowly, I rise to my feet, and–no twenty-something sense of invincibility now–I say, “Girls, I hate to say this, but I reserve the right to turn around.  We may have to try this hike another time–”

. . . looks of sadness and anger and betrayal and loss and grief and frustration and . . .

“–but, for now, let’s keep going.”

And so we press on, uncertain.

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And somehow we make it to the 1.5-mile waystation:

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And, “I’m good,” I say; “might as well continue.”

And we did.

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And we came to the three-mile waystation . . .

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. . . where a sign read, “Down is optional; up is mandatory.”

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So, do you see all those switchbacks?

Anyway, by now my back felt surprisingly fine.  So, relatively drama free, we continued our descent.

The scenery was spectacular at every turn in the trail.

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From icy pines at the rim to blooming trees and flowing creek below . . .

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. . . to desert-like plateau (and 70 degrees).

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And now we’d made it to Plateau Point and lunch, smack dab in the middle of the Grand Canyon.

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And here’s one for perspective: three college students on spring break just enjoying a lunch–on a cliff edge a thousand feet above the Colorado River!

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From our vantage we could see the trail that continues down to the River . . .

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. . . as well as a reminder of our “mandatory” journey up.

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So, after beef jerky and oranges and gouda and smokehouse almonds and cranberries and ample water, we were on our way again.

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The trek up the canyon was quite difficult.  My back’s pain increased throughout the climb and, to aggravate matters, my head began throbbing and continued to do so throughout the duration and–doggone it!–I’d left the Advil in the car.  Ugh!

Turns out uncomplaining Tori was in a bit of pain too.  With numb toes in the morning she’d not tied her boots tight enough, not knowing for the first half or so of the descent that she was jamming her toes repeatedly against the fronts of her boots, resulting in several blisters each now screaming for her attention like so many needy orphaned ducklings.

But–we took the tortoise approach; who cares about the hares?–we plodded steadily and reached the rim by 4pm, an hour ahead of the plan.

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Then, three Advils each for me and Tori, a change of clothes, and an hour’s drive to Flagstaff and a stop for coffee and a light dinner, and we felt energized enough to make the drive home to Yuma, bonding over Civil Wars and other soulful tunes.

And, yes, good dad that I am, I did get Emily to school on time on Tuesday.

Today, Wednesday, by the way, my left cheek, tailbone, and lower right back are sorer than my muscles and blisters.  I’m not nearly as invincible as I once was.

But it was so worth it.

Telegraph with Company

Posted in Family with tags , , on December 20, 2015 by timtrue

Thought I’d steal a few of my kids’ photos from a recent hike up Telegraph.  Enjoy.

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I tell you, Arizona in the winter’s pretty rough!

Hooters for Haircutters

Posted in Family, Musings, Rationale with tags , , , , on October 7, 2014 by timtrue

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I took the bait.

“$10 off men’s haircuts,” the coupon said.  My wife had grabbed two: one for me and one for my five year-old son.

“It’ll be fun,” my wife said.  “I’ve heard good things about this place, like it’s a step or three up from that place you usually go.  Besides, it’ll be some father-son bonding time.”

Father-son bonding time, eh?  We usually experience that when we go to that step-or-three-down barber.  But they know us there.  And they know how to cut our hair.  It’s functional–and as stylish as we want to go with our timeless, product-free “boy cuts.”

Plus, with the money I save, my five year-old son and I usually walk a few doors down to Baskin-Robbins afterwards, for continued father-son bonding time over single scoops of Peanut Butter Chocolate and Mint Chocolate Chip.  Bet the new place isn’t next to a Baskin-Robbins, eh?

But ten bucks off each haircut, and a step or three up?

Like I said, I took the bait.

I wish I hadn’t.

We walked into this new place, this place that boasted to give “sports cuts,” this place whose only clientele were men, this place that promised us ten bucks off, and the reek of gimmick penetrated deep into our olfactories.

Firm but relaxed chairs beckoned in the waiting room, each one strategically facing a large, flat-screen television displaying a live football game; each one covered with a deep-red faux leather, a manly textile.  We indifferently chose two facing Tennessee vs. Georgia.

And now I noticed that the lights were dimmed just so and angled for minimal glare–another manly touch.

Then the cutters of hair began to appear, girls all, wearing black stretch pants–or was it mere body paint?–and shirts to look like referees, black-and-white striped.  And were those actual whistles around their necks?

They offered us soda, PowerAde, water; sweet and bubbly–the girls, that is, not the water.

And, except for the coupons in my hand, I thought we could have been at Hooters.

My son didn’t seem to mind so much, or maybe he didn’t really notice.  He’s only five, and the hormones aren’t boiling in him yet–at least they aren’t to the extent that they obviously were in a middle schooler next to us.  I wanted to shout, “Put your tongue back in your mouth, boy,” but opted instead not to draw any more attention to this already skewed vision of reality.  Maybe my son wouldn’t take much notice, I thought.

The haircuts came and went, and were nice enough in their own right.  A step or three up indeed, as my wife had said.  But after our haircuts–my son too!–the bubbly, scantily clad cutters of our hair led us each back to a dark room behind a curtain, where they shampooed our hair and massaged our scalps, quietly giving us permission to fall asleep in their capable hands if we so desired.  Which was followed by a backrub.

On our way home my son said, “Well that was weird!”  He had noticed.

As for me, I found the whole experience maddening.  We live in a culture that prides itself on becoming increasingly gender-equal.  Women were allowed to vote quite early in the bigger picture of world democracies.  Average women’s salaries are closer than ever to average men’s salaries for equivalent jobs.  The Episcopal Church is the first church in the global Anglican communion to elect a female presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori.  And yet we have this haircutting chain that objectifies women?

It’s hip, it’s trendy, it gives men an experience with which they are comfortable.  And it’s successful.

But the haircutters, all female, wear skimpy clothes.  They look like referees: a quasi appearance of authority.  But the truth is that these women are paid to do the bidding of men, the real dominators in this scenario, who lounge around watching sports and refreshing (and scratching) themselves.  It’s twisted, even perverted.

Definitely not the message I want to teach to my five year-old son!

So, coupon or no coupon, we’ll not return.  Instead, we’ll go back to our step-or-three down barber and ice-cream conversation, thank you very much.

Raising a Child in Middle-class America

Posted in Family, Musings with tags , , , on August 20, 2014 by timtrue

$250,000.

That’s the cost of raising a middle class kid these days, according to a figure I read a few days ago.

A quarter million.

A little simple math: five equals $1.25 million.

Or, a little more simple math: that’s $50,000 a year for twenty-five years.

Dang.

That’s more than my annual salary has been for most of my adult life.

So, a few thoughts.

First, no wonder debt is a way of life for most Americans, eh?

Second, this scenario kind of encourages me to live more simply–or at least to want to.  What does “middle class kid” even mean?  A kid who follows all the latest technological trends?  A kid who’s just got to have the latest iPhone, simply because all his friends have one?  A kid who’s more concerned about Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s breakup than she is about her own mom and dad’s relationship?  A kid who thinks name brands and straight teeth will make him a more confident and secure person?  A kid who has no appreciation for history because, hey, everything I could ever want is a product of right now?  A kid who buys into the capitalistic suggestion that the more you spend on something the happier you will be?  A kid who . . . well, you get the picture.

And it gets me thinking.  So much of what constitutes middle-class American life is just so much fluff!  Can’t we cut some corners?  Somewhere?  Isn’t there a way to raise a kid in middle-class America for, say, half that $250,000 mark; and still provide her with adequate education and culture and generally good broughtupsy to make an upstanding citizen in tomorrow’s society?

Then my mind goes to really strange places.  Like to Ovid.  You know Ovid, the classical author who wrote poetry in the time of Augustus Caesar?  Because I think, why can’t middle-class American kids take on cheap hobbies, like writing books instead of gaming?  Ovid wrote poems.  Books and books of them.

But then I remember, oh yeah, Ovid got into trouble for writing books: he published a poem, apparently, that the emperor didn’t like; a poem, apparently, that led to his exile onto an island in the middle of the Black Sea.

Here is a picture from that island, Tomis.

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Okay.  So it was exile, sure.  There was supposed to be some kind of humiliation in that, I suppose.  But, c’mon!  How bad could it have been?  Alone.  On an island.  Provided for by the emperor’s own hand.  For the rest of his life.  And able to write poetry without interruption.  Unless a muse perchance stopped by.  For tea and, um, conversation, of course.

I bet my muse and I could raise our children quite happily and contentedly on our own island for the rest of our lives, lost to the busy, stress-filled, worrisome, frenetic pace of middle-class America; in the complexities of poetry, music, tea, and, of course, conversation.  For a whole lot cheaper than $250,000 per child too!

Ah, sweet exile.

But I said “a few thoughts.”  So to round out the few, third, back to the reality of middle-class America, my kids are awesome (and so is my muse); I can’t think of a better reason to go into debt.

Vacationing, Part 2: Purchasing Pluto

Posted in Family with tags , , , on June 16, 2014 by timtrue

(And what trip to California would be complete without a visit to the Getty Villa?)

I left off in “Vacationing, Part 1: Taking in the Tides” from Oregon.  We’re safely home now, having arrived last night after two long days on the road at 7pm.  But Oregon was more than a week ago.  What happened in the meantime?

First, we had another vomitous adventure.

Do you recall the last one?  I posted about it around the New Year; my son threw up in the middle of a Holiday Pops Concert at the Majestic Theater.  Yeah!  You heard correctly: a pops concert.  I’ll say!  Pop!  All over the person in front of him!

Needless to say, he has a sensitive stomach.

This time we decided to take a scenic route, a rather well-known windy road that hugs the California coast: Highway 1.

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Awesome scenery!  That is, until we round the third 10mph hairpin.  Then it’s not so awesome.  That’s because the boy starts moaning and saying things like, “I’m thirsty,” and, “My stomach hurts!” followed by those telltale burps.

So I pull over lickety-split, and illegally, and get the boy out of the car.  And there, standing hunched over, leaning over an embankment, just like that, he projectile-vomits everything from the morning.

And by “projectile,” I mean neat and clean.  He didn’t even need a tissue!  And, just like that, thirty seconds later we were back in the car and the boy was feeling bucketloads better.  Such efficiency!  I’m so proud.

Additional adventures included the Santa Barbara Zoo, a Country Club dinner, and a day divided.

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This zoo resident pretty much captures what I wanted to be doing on the day we went to the zoo.  Not that I didn’t enjoy it.  Rather, the SB Zoo is one of my favorite places on earth.  But the perfect combination of ocean breeze, sunshine, and lunch had its way with me.

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And, yep, this is the dining room in which we dined country-clubly–for which I had to make a run to Walmart in order to meet the dress code (I packed lightly).  Ironic?

By “day divided,” on Thursday, our last full day in southern California, two of us went to the Getty Villa

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while the rest of us (i. e., they) went to Disneyland (from which, due to my absence–this is my blog after all, meaning my perspective–I attach no photos).

A favorite exhibit at the Getty was “Byzantium: Heaven & Earth.”  It’s on display till August.  I highly recommend seeing this if you can.  Admission is free (but you need tickets, which you can get online); parking is $15.

So, check out this altar covering from about AD 1300.

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Or check out this icon of St. George–you know, the knight who is supposed to have protected a town by slaying a dragon–probably written in the thirteenth century.

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The Christian influence in Byzantium was large.  Much praiseworthy art, architecture, and music comes from this era indeed–an era that spans a thousand years, roughly from the fall of Rome in 431 to the fall of Constantinople in 1456.

However, there are also some things Christians did about which I am not happy.  This head of Aphrodite, probably from first-century Greece, has been vandalized by Christians.  Notice the cross etched into her forehead and the misshapen nose.  Her eyes have been gouged out also.  These defacings speak for themselves.

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It seems that zealots appear in every age.

Today there are Christian churches that take issue with any image, including any image of Christ.  If you walk into one of these places of worship, you will find no stained glass, no icons, no crucifix, no paintings.  You may even be hard-pressed to find a cross.  It is a violation of the second commandment, they will say.  (“Do not make any graven images.”)  To which I say, “Yeah.  Whatever.”

With these thoughts in my mind, and as a gift to myself for Father’s Day, and to commemorate this vacation with a sort of souvenir, I purchased a figure of Pluto with his three-headed dog Cerberus from the Getty gift shop.  Notice the staff he’s holding.  It sort of looks like Neptune’s trident, but there are only two prongs, leading me to call it a bident.

It likewise leads me to wonder too, incidentally, if holding up your hand with only two fingers raised, the index and pinky, originated with this bident.  Some maintain that this is a sign of the devil.  But it’s not too far a stretch to go from the devil to hell to Hades, the Greek name of Pluto.  Any thoughts?

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At any rate, my mom met the two of us (me and a daughter) at the Getty.  If I’m not mistaken, she shuddered visibly when I purchased Pluto.  But, Mom, I assure you this is not a graven image in the sense of an idol–just a decoration to supplement the mythology on my bookshelf.

Vacationing, Part 1: Taking in the Tides

Posted in Family with tags , , on June 6, 2014 by timtrue

In the spirit of this blog being a sort of web journal, for posterity if you will, I offer a vacation photo update.

We left San Antonio on a Friday afternoon, after Holly and I each put in half a day at work.  We packed the kids and our bags in the car and we drove.  And we drove.  And we drove some more.  600 miles in fact, all the way to Las Cruces, New Mexico.  And we checked into a hotel by 10pm.

The thing about west Texas is that for nearly a 500-mile stretch the speed limit is 80mph.  That means I can set the cruise control at about 85 and travel relatively stress-free and cross half the state in short order.

And my father in-law wondered if the van could handle it.

But this is a 2010 Volkswagen Routan!

We saw a picturesque sunset, behind a mountain range in Mexico.  But I was driving.  Fast.  And far.  So I took no pictures.

The first picture came the next day, as we drove along Route 188 in 103-degree Arizona.

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See that Saguaro cactus?  We simply had to stop.  The boy, by the way, was just told (not by me either) that there might be snakes on the ground.

We made it to Prescott by 5pm, in time for a swim in the hotel pool and a tasty non-Tex-Mex-but-Mexican-nonetheless dinner.

From there we drove to my dad’s in southern California.

Then it was on to Davis the next day for a visit with some old friends and a meeting with some new,

and, yes, on to Bandon, Oregon.

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Here is the A-frame we’re calling home for a week; we arrived just before 2am and more than 800 miles on the day.  The kids were troopers.  Not state troopers either, otherwise I’d have gotten a speeding ticket or two.

Now here we chill–literally, by the way: it’s 55 degrees and a stiff wind’s blowing–for a few days before we return to southern California and back home to Texas.

So what are we doing in Bandon?

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Eating meals together,

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playing in tide pools,

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playing bridge (my partner and I killed it tonight),

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getting close to harbor seals (look for several on the rocks in the background),

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and enjoying sunsets.

Of course, we’re doing more too–but not too much more.  It’s a relaxing vacation, just the sort of thing needed at the end of my first year of being a priest.

More soon.