Friday, September 30, 2022

September 2022

September 2022 header
urban wilderness / city paradise for September

Los Angeles Zoo
Asian Elephants from Thailand
Asian Elephant
• First ever venture to the Los Angeles Zoo. Flamingos, Okapi, and Giraffes were happy to be visited. Although I spent some time at the Elephants exhibit, I only got pictures of the excellent graphic elephants.

• Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8th; her funeral was on Monday, September 19th that was a national holiday in the UK. I could't find a copy of her cypher or any other relevant art with reuse rights, so after all those decades, her passing is only an unillustrated line item here.

dodgers-cardinals game ticket
dodger stadium dodgers on the field
• I got a surprise ticket to the Dodgers - Cardinals game.

• The Los Angeles Dodgers, my current home team, lost miserably in an 11-0 shutout, but it was more than ok because I witnessed history with Albert Pujols' 700th home run. What a life story and career story!
living local 2022
autumnal equinox 2022

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

A Pebble in the Pond

Pebble in the Pond

Paul Howard's brand-new documentary, A Pebble in the Pond reminds us how tiny actions sometimes create far-reaching ripples. In Paul's film, historical highlights and present-day needs converge to inspire and motivate any of us who yearn to impact our communities.

Beginning in the late nineteenth century with Anne Hancock Banning, the charitable child and youth-focused Assistance League has grown to more than 22,000 members in 120 active chapters across the USA. Operation School Bell has become the Assistance League's signature program, with each chapter required to have an Operation School Bell.

Transforming Lives • Strengthening Community, the Assistance League helps youngsters who are low income, occasionally homeless, sometimes in foster care. "Assistance" includes clothing, school supplies, books, medical-dental, social and recreational activities. All my life I've observed government agencies and corporate grants accomplishing what individuals and small local entities simply cannot, but no endeavor is able to reach everyone, and even more critically, deploying government aid often takes so long that urgent needs become hard to overcome crises.

Although females have overwhelmingly fueled Assistance League development and growth, older youth through quite mature men also participate in its initiatives. A Pebble in the Pond shows an impressive amount of paying it forward by previous recipients of the charity's generosity. Assistance League is a favorite connection for people in the Hollywood film industry; many studios, actors, directors, and producers contribute dollars, in-kind, and – most importantly – time.

Are you ready to create ripples? You might check out multi-service agencies, churches, and schools around your neighborhood. If cats and dogs, wildlife, or rivers and streams capture your heart, related organizations have a place for you. You can find opportunities that engage your expertise, some that will teach you what you need to know, others that require certain attributes, such as being able to lift a certain weight or speak-interpret a particular language. As important as financial contributions always are, the gift of your time really generate life! Only a couple hours to spare each week? That adds up to a substantial hundred hours every year, so go for it!

And did you know charis, the Greek root of charity, means "grace"?

Assistance League logo

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Represent

beach house
Five Minute Friday :: Represent Linkup

These days I often seriously consider what represents my dreams. What concrete image or object, which less visible thought or memory is a good enough stand-in for the direction I trusted my life might take. "Seriously consider" is about agonizing not so much if anyone did anything "wrong" to derail and dislodge the momentum, because everyone – including me – has taken less than optimal actions and many times if not quite every time the mis-step or wrong turn has been corrected or redeemed into something better or simply surprising.

There's a very big difference between breakfasting with Suzanne on the back porch in Koreatown during late winter 2016, less than a year in Current City, and assessing my current situation minus a couple years of Covid. There's "best construction" on people and circumstances and then there's lying about stuff that (surprise!) can be quantified. Did you know you can't change what you don't acknowledge?

But what represents me? What's my place in the world versus the place or land under my feet, underneath the house or other building I'm in?

A house, a place, the land, the beach. The particular style of each is critical to my self-image. They're my passions! Obsessions! To be around, write about, illustrate. Style may be important and you know it is, but even though you could say that's a "Leah style" house or loft, the type of turf Leah loves, an urban strip beach or country sand spot that works well for a daily or sometimes refuge, they don't truly represent my heart, my abilities, or my sense of call.

Seriously considering, what does represent my dreams? My art and design website—suntreeriver design, so you definitely could say my beach house header painting represents me. This blog! My other main blog, Urban Wilderness.

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Five Minute Friday Represent
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Friday, September 16, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Spontaneous

yellow taxicabs
Five Minute Friday :: Spontaneous Linkup


From this creative who's been known to surprise other people and myself that I can be so locked-in, close to inert, and un-spontaneous as often as I can be spontaneous and open to almost any "let's do it now, go there right now, let's not wait," this time I won't write directly to the one word prompt.

I love the colors, energy, and content of Kate's illustration for spontaneous. By the way, last I knew, she usually or maybe almost always got her photos from unsplash. I really don't know how common it is, but back in the early grades we sometimes got to write from a photo prompt; that's what I'm doing today.

The Picture

Recently I've claimed a faded memory and turned it into a current dream—a day in the life of a city. Oh, it's true I currently live in a diverse, densely populated section of the second largest city in the USA. And in the past I've lived and worked in stereotypical (is there such a thing?) inner city neighborhoods with easy enough access to downtown, but more recently it hasn't been possible to easily get to the center of urban activities from anywhere I've resided.

I long for Uptown-Downtown, the Central Business District, the Financial Sector, Urban Shopping, Snack Stands and Flower Carts. I feel the city waking up before daybreak and slowly coming to life as the world gets light. Street cleaners, supply vendors, delivery trucks, every variety of office and retail workers. Tourists.Shoppers. People with appointments.

Most don't live within a reasonable walking distance; how do they get there? A few may drive their own vehicles, but do you know how expansive parking can be? Many arrive by subway, a handful in city buses or via rideshare from an app. I don't know how common it is to taxicab into the city from an outlying area or suburb, but once you're there, a big yellow taxi is absolutely the best way to get from this spot to that one.

Can that dream come true? Or, how can the dream come to life?

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Friday, September 09, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Generous

UnionJack UK Flag
Five Minute Friday :: Generous linkup

Queen Elizabeth II lived with "depth, breadth, generosity."

The world has become so very interdependent, complex, and confusing. Increased global awareness of overbearing actions of countries and groups toward less-economically and technologically developed ones goes back at least to the end of World War II, continues with the flag of British imperialism being lowered over one colony after another, on to a slightly new configuration and terminology—British Commonwealth of Nations. Civil rights and voting rights constitutional amendments in the USA, fragile class, economic, and ethnic "integration" across the globe, renaming sports teams and other organizations… the quite recent Black Lives Matter. Can we sum up our uneven global, national, institutional, ecclesiastical, and individual progress with "When You Know Better, You Do Better," because we can't rewind history, and adequate monetary and other reparations remain a huge question mark? Or is "when you know better, you do better," far too generous?

Empire, justice, and God's gracious generosity are pervasive scriptural themes. God calls us to claim our divine image and serve with loving justice. God calls us to resist and help dismantle structures that enslave humans and creation, that impede and destroy life, that cause death. God calls us to practice resurrection!

When we know better, we do better, yet how do we interact with and serve individuals, communities, and nations who clearly have less advantage in terms of overall infrastructure and natural resources?

Only considering close to home, is it possible for an individual, work team, or church group from an affluent suburb to go into a needy place and offer gifts like home repairs, academic tutoring, microloans, community gardens, without attitudes of condescension? Is it possible for the giver to revel in feeling-good generous without diminishing the recipients' humanity?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke of "God's unfathomable condescension" in Jesus' incarnation, crucifixion, and death. Jesus asks us to bear his cross, but is condescension Jesus' alone because he lived as God embodied? I don't know.

But I do know being generous with my unique gifts not only feels great, it's a necessary way I respond to God's generosity, and I can't be whole and well unless I use my gifts, skills and education to serve to God's glory.

I also know national, regional, and local governments have become very aware of the need to undo as much past violence and degradation as possible. Less-developed and still-developing regions and peoples can't be whole and well unless someone helps them unlock their potential. That's going to include generous undoing of effects and fallout of past actions that often were meant to be generous, yet definitely didn't turn out that way.

That's my five minute long free ramble for this week. Thanks for listening!

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five minute firday generous roses
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Friday, September 02, 2022

Five Minute Friday :: Root

Five Minute Friday Root Radishes
Five Minute Friday :: Root Linkup

"… that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love … you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:17-19

The apostle Paul's successor or colleague who wrote to the Ephesus church prayed intently for that community to possess the essential of love.

In September 2003, I wrote about radishes—that grows up from the ground, pull up from the ground root vegetable whose name is about root. Whether idea, action, hope, or outcome, anything radical relates to the root, the ground level (or lower!) basis of whatever it is. Root veggies such as beets, potatoes, carrots, turnips, and onions are excellent winter keepers. However chilly – or maybe not – winters become where you live, root vegetables can be prepared near-countless ways as they nourish and sustain us through the cold, take us into the spring.

We talk about radical ideas, radical Christianity. People have a habit of separating out styles of Christianity into categories like conservative, progressive, liberal, radical… but all Christians live rooted and grounded in love, and love is a radical reality anywhere. Besides, God created humans out of the ground—rooted us in the land. Just as for planet earth, water is the womb of our creation. As we enjoy an aquascape's plants rooted in water, let's imagine human parallels.

Different church traditions may have interpretive, sacramental, and liturgical histories and preferences; they may read various styles of polity or church governance out of scripture. Those of us in the mainline have public theology in our DNA; others tend to emphasize individual holiness more, yet each person, each community needs some of everything, and all of it creates a mosaic with all of us together grounded and rooted in Jesus Christ.

I couldn't quickly find any pictures I'd taken of onions, potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, or turnips, but I had radish captures from the Farmers Market. On my header photo I especially love how the veggie vendors left a lovely patina of just plain dirt, and, of course, the green tops that cook up nicely and season well.

I happily recall tenant and friend Mary in A Former City where I managed rental properties reminding me as I dug up front lawn dandelions, "That's hard work! You need to get to the tap root!"

It's not unusual for us to desire a return to our roots, whether that means home town, original cuisine, First Church Small Town (or Large City), or simply a simpler lifestyle anyone can rock anywhere. For many humans in this world where few stay in a single city, dwelling place, or employment center very long, going back to our roots literally can mean tap roots that support all the other roots that grow outward from it.

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