Sunday, July 31, 2016

July on a Page

july 2016 on a page button

Here's my July 2016 experiences/learnings roundup!

It looks as if Emily P Freeman isn't doing an end of month linkup, but if I discover she is, I'll link to it and add her button to my post.

Tuscan scene

• Valleys have a well-earned reputation for growing excellent fruits and veggies; slopes of the surrounding hills help nutrients flow down and create rich soil that helps grow nutritious, highly desirable produce. None of us was there, but still we know how the renaissance, the literal rebirth of culture and creativity trickled down from the Florentine Hills into the Tuscany Valleys. Not a very different process from growing good fruits and veggies! For the past couple of months I've lived in a well-developed, industrialized valley... and

sherman way street

• I've been loving the whir swish buzz of traffic along the street because I love to #ListenToTheCity.

sherman way cactus

• I always enjoy having cactus neighbors; typically they photograph well!

sleep again

• I'm still working on sleep (though sleep didn't make my list for June).

desert spirit's fire 14

• On Saturday 16 July desert spirit's fire celebrated #AnotherBlogoversary—14 years! Holy!

• A succulent sizzler lunch and conversation with former roommate AC.

• Is that a [dry] wash/arroyo or is it the #LosAngelesRiver?

christmas in july

• 17 July we celebrated Christmas in July using the RCL readings for Pentecost 9. Worship bulletin was our usual B&W, but I made a fun colorful version for this blog.

• Interim pastor told me I was a "crisp theologian" during SS; I don't know if she meant super well done altogether or only crisp edges, but whatever is fine with me. Pres of congregation thanked thr morning's "guest musical stars"—me and the vocal soloist. I provided guest keyboards 3 July Sundays in a row.

Holy. Holy.

hollywood bowl
hollywood bowl
hollywood bowl
hollywood bowl
hollywood bowl

• Free concert at Hollywood Bowl with #TheDude and #LAPhil! Holy! Holy!

hollywood bowl

• Although I've joined several meetups, this was the first I attended. So happy to meet new friends at the venue; conversation and communication continued online during the week afterwards.

saturday sky saturday sky

• Scary skies don't always turn into storms and can create cool camera captures.

Corita Center Open House
Corita Center Open House
Corita Center Open House
Corita Center Open House
Corita Center Open House

• Corita Art Center Summer Open House – Holy. Holy. Holy—Holy!!!

• ¿Está todo el mundo en todas partes salvadoreña? Sometimes it feels that way, but then when I'm in West LA I realize nah, not everyone everywhere, only in my non-Sunday world.

• Sepulveda Blvd is the longest municipal street in the whole entire world—43 miles worth!

• Valleys have a reputation for providing excellent fruits and veggies; good stuff descends from the surrounding hills to become part of the rich soil and then that nutritious, highly desirable produce. We know The Renaissance, the rebirth of culture and creativity made a way into the Tuscan Valleys from the Florentine Hills. Not so different from re-growing and re-vitalizing human lives? For the past couple of months a well-developed, highly populated industrialized valley has been home... I hope, I trust, this #SFV is part of my own renaissance, a true rebirth.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Three Word Wednesday: go to them

Kristin Hill Taylor's 3 Word Wednesday tells us Go to them!

God told Abram to leave where he was and "go to a country I will show you!" Genesis 12:1. Go. Ever since then, we've looked to Abram/Abraham as our model for trusting God into a future, into our future. I needed to use one of my scriptural expressions, and how perfectly does "I will follow you wherever you go I will follow you" [Luke 9:57; Matthew 8:19] fit the entire concept of not waiting for people to approach us in life or to saunter into the church building on their own, but to go out and find them where they are!? We know the Jesus story: yummy meals, spontaneous and pre-planned, with friends, with strangers, with polite society's literal outcasts and various others who aren't quite like us. Did he sit on the patio waiting for people to approach him? Nope!

"I will follow you wherever you go, Jesus!" Are you willing. Are you able. To drink the cup? Walk the talk? Will you really follow?

We love because God first loved us. We go because God first calls us. We can go because God sends us in the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit. To be sent literally means to go on a mission. Sometimes people go on more or less formal missions: a day or a weekend across the border to help neighbors build or repair; a semester overseas to get some of our own culture shock, learn a new language, teach reading and writing; a couple of years combining proselytizing and humanitarian service. Everyone is a full time missionary all the time. Walk out the door and go. To a person, a country, a place, maybe something simple like texting someone you haven't heard from in a while. Volunteer for park cleanup day. Open the door, step outside, and go. Into your own future!

Jesus commands (leave where we are), go and make disciples, baptize them, who then will go and make disciples, baptize those, who in turn will... but to go doesn't always need to be elaborate or extensive! Walk out the door and go. To a person, a country, a place... open the door, step outside, and go. We still look to Abram/Abraham as our model for trusting God into a future, into our future. Open the door, step outside and go. Into your own future!

"Haven't I commanded you? Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you whithersoever you go." Joshua 1:9

3 word Wednesday go
three word wednesday button

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Three Word Wednesday: A Special Rest

Guest Joanne Viola writes about A Special Rest on Kristin Hill Taylor's Three Word Wednesday.

three word wednesday watermelon banner

Kristin's three words aren't necessarily a prompt; the idea is to write to any three words, though I like to default to Kristin's. As a driven, achieving, 21st century urbanite, I immediately resonated with the concept of rest; how delightful that Joanne mostly wrote about rest and recreation during the season of summer! Rest has been more than characteristically difficult for me because of my fire to help change the world coupled with too many disappointments, too many plans that didn't remotely pan out even minimally as I'd expected. So I've kept on keepin' on to making and working through more plans, with my head full of awareness that human bodies, minds, and spirits require regular rest and God mandates it, but...

I've been preparing to discuss the gospel reading from the Revised Common Lectionary with my adult SS class next Sunday. it begins with:
Luke 11:1-13

1He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John [the baptist] taught his disciples." 2He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3Give us each day our daily bread. 4And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial."
You probably know about the Jubilee Year outlined in Leviticus 25? The Lord's Prayer rings with jubilee images: may the reign of heaven come on earth. Just as prairies and gardens need to rest from being planted and producing every seven years or so, just as God commands Sabbath and we need rest every seven days, we need a time of jubilee justice, forgiveness, liberation. Forgiveness is release! Forgiveness is freedom and opportunity to start over again. As forgivers and as the forgiven, we participate in jubilee. BTW, Matthew's version of this prayer talks about debts and shortcomings; Luke mentions "sins."

Summer is a special rest that parallels the time of jubilee because summer offers enticements to let go of, to release (the technical meaning of "forgive") our usual propensity to overwork and over plan. Summer means vacations from the normal school year, vacation days away from the workplace, better weather for spending time outdoors and basking in the glories of God's creation, specially scheduled activities like concerts, picnics, parties, fiestas, county fairs and festivals. Sabbath is not a time to lounge around and be lazy, but an opportunity to quit watching the clock, to stop counting and producing, to live fully into the moment with total awareness of our surroundings.

Joanne told us she loves the four (agricultural, meteorological, astronomical) seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. I also enjoy them, and the variety we get in southern California is plenty enough for my taste. Summer's warmer, longer days make me want to wear funner, brighter, lighter clothes. Prepare lighter, more flavorful, juicier, more consistently locally-sourced meals. Spend more hours re-creating out in God's creation. Make my art and design more frivolous and fanciful. Less serious! Summer brings a sense of sabbath, conveys a special restfulness by simply being the condition of summer

The Lord's Prayer rings with jubilee images: may the reign of heaven come on earth. Summertime at its best is a season of jubilee—summer is heaven on earth! The special rest of summer leads us into living simply—simply living. Simply being who God created us to be.

rest collage
three word wednesday watermelon square three word wednesday button

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Three Word Wednesday: Surviving Summer Showers

With guest blogger Lyli Dunbar, Kristin Hill Taylor hosts considerations about surviving summer showers.

sunshine rain rainbow

I'll take the 3 word prompt as an analogy by contemplating "summer" as my most fave and most best season of the year, "showers" not the welcome celebratory cloudburst that cools off everything and leaves a fresh earthy ozone scent behind... but as showers the unexpected rain that wrecks an event, demands rescheduling after some guests have gone out of town, ruins a party you knew could be outdoors because of historical weather and rain patterns. The rains came, the rain didn't just cool down the day; the temperature dropped 30 degrees and all my cool weather clothes are packed away at the other place in the former city a couple hundred miles away. Surviving summer showers is about keeping afloat when it becomes clear I'm not in control. It's singing and trusting with Eric Andersen in "Rolling Home":
Truth, with all its far out schemes,
Lets time decide what it should mean;
It's not the time but just the dreams that die.
And sometimes when the room is still,
Time with so much truth to kill,
Leaves you by the window sill so tied
Without a wing to take you high,
Without a clue to tell you why.

So hold onto those dreams—and trust the rainbow after the rain in Kristin's illustration. But this interval has been anything but micro. Rains have chilled me through; not a single sweater or jacket or blanket, no human, ramada, or snack shop warm enough to become shelter. Time's tied me by the windowsill with clipped wings looking out at everyone else's lives. Despite my endless attempts to fathom what's happened I have no clue to tell me why it's all gone down this way.

Have I survived? You know it! Will I keep on surviving? Stop back soon to learn more!

sunshine rain rainbow

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Five Minute Friday: Create

Five Minute Friday at Kate Motaung's prompts us to consider create.

dsf five minute friday create

On several sites I confidently announce,"I'm an all-around creative excited to help design your next project." Create (creative, creator, creativity, creation) is a fabulous concept to consider and imagine. Only God creates ex nihilo – out of nothing – but passion, ability, and tendencies toward creation, creativity, and re-creation form a major part of God's creating humanity (that's us!) in a multi-faceted imago dei. I'm a working graphic artist-designer who sometimes cautions students and clients there's probably nothing or not much of anything that's truly original, but many times we can re-assemble existing elements or concepts to create or invent something never before seen. I enjoy picking up a color combination from over here, a drawing style from back there, a graphic imagining I noticed on that billboard they just put up on the corner.

With a hint of semi-creative originality, I did a google image search for the name of this blog – "desert spirit's fire" – and made a couple of screen captures of some of the results. I used the horizontal one to create my header banner for this FMF post.

five minute friday create five minute friday button

Monday, July 04, 2016

June 2016 Highlights

LCM milkweed plants

What I Learned host Emily P Freeman hasn't posted and started the linkup yet, so I'll connect to her page later.

Learnings, observations, experiences...

• June's banner features a milkweed plant from the church window boxes! Interim pastor suggested planting milkweed to help replenish Monarch Butterflies, and I've taken pictures every week. As I told the social media guy, I've been editing the stucco paint on a few photos from each group so they'll present better, and plan to create a milkweed chronology to blog here soon. I am the stucco contractor—or am I the painter?

• As of the last Sunday of June I'd been in town for twelve months and I've lived in five very different sections of the city! The variety has been fun and interesting, but I'm more than ready to settle down somewhere longer-term. I'm not a put down deep roots into the ground type, but I long to unpack my boxes, acquire a few pieces of furniture, invite my neighbors in for tea and talk or out for sunshine and a walk.

westwood in July Koreatown blue house west hollywood street santa monica rooftop San Fernando Valley courtyard
Westwood • Koreatown • West Hollywood • Santa Monica • San Fernando Valley

LCM church bldg signs in July
• The end of June marked six whole entire months (and counting!) I've been teaching every Sunday morning—"Adult Sunday School."

• You need to be bilingual to work retail in this city—more so than in Former City that was much closer to the international border.

• Every subway sandwich shop in Current City includes cilantro in their salad bar.

• Hearts of gold still live on earth, still walk this planet. Sending gratitude, thanks, trust, and my amazement to all of them!

panorama city gap old navy

• I love Retail Therapy, and I've been ecstatic to discover very nearby Panorama City [an LA neighborhood and not an independently incorporated city] Mall and other shops. A clean, bright, open, spacious Walmart defies and shatters all stereotypes and embarrassing social media memes. I'm a big fan of GAP and Old Navy; here's a picture to add to ones I've taken of Mission Valley and (no longer there) Fashion Valley stores in Former City, along with Beverly Connection and Third Street Promenade in Current City.

made in LA at the hammer museum made in LA at the hammer museum
made in LA at the hammer museum made in LA at the hammer museum
made in LA at the hammer museum made in LA at the hammer museum made in LA at the hammer museum

• I started attending Thursday noon mindfulness meditation at the Hammer Museum again, and enjoyed my first view of the current exhibit.

• As a designer I experiment a lot with effects and ideas; I've been known to use a gradient map overlay combined with layer styles, transparencies, and filters to create some images that wow (at least) me. The cyan layer in a photographic print usually fades first, creating a usually not desired Martian effect, so when I edit a scan of an analog pic I usually bump up blue/cyan and/or reduce red/magenta as a remedy. Recently I accidentally on purpose "improved" a couple of pics with a green-blue gradient map and reduced opacity on the gradient map layer. In each case, original is left; improved on the right:

57 Wellesley Park 57 Wellesley Park

Mount Olympus original scan:

mount olympus original scan
• I'd already Photoshopped a couple dozen versions of Mount Olympus from my East Millcreek Utah back yard; the version I used for the gradient map was cooler than my original scan and was professionally viable, yet in comparison the newer one with added gradient map is better.

Mount Olympus Mount Olympus

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