Paladini Potpie

Adventures within The Crust!


Three Score and More

Dr SchollsI was standing in front of the student center at Modesto Junior College with some friends, and I happened to look down at my feet.  I was wearing those Dr Scholls shoes with the wooden soles and the leather uppers (remember them?) I wore them all the time. In fact, I had three pairs in different colors. And on this particular day I was mortified to realize that I was wearing one blue shoe and one brown.

I mumbled an inarticulate something to my friends and practically ran to the parking lot to go home and change my shoes.  I knew I was giving up my premium parking place, and that I would be late for my next class, but I couldn’t imagine going through the rest of the day wearing odd shoes.

That was 30 years ago. Back then, at age 31, I considered myself to be fairly self-assured. I had come a long way from the awkward high school girl who lived in books and ate lunch alone. But I was still insecure enough to go into a desperate tizzy because I was wearing odd shoes.

My friend, Emily had a similar shoe experience just recently. She was in line at the grocery store and a little girl in the shopping cart ahead of her kept looking at her feet. She would look down at Emily’s feet and then look up at her face, and then back down at her feet. Finally Emily looked down and realized that she was wearing odd shoes. She grinned at the little girl and made some silly comment and they both had a laugh.

Prime of SenilityI would do the same thing today. What a difference three decades make! As Benjamin Franklin says, “I am in the prime of senility.”

I kept seeing a little ad on the edge of my Facebook page that says something like “60 is the new 30”. Finally I bit. I checked it out, and was dismayed to find a story about a beauty contest for glamorous grandmas.


I’m here to tell you 60 is not the new 30.

In my teens and through my twenties I always thought I was fat, and certainly not much to look at. Now I look at old pictures of myself and think I was actually pretty hot.

In those days I always felt like I talked too much, or talked too little, or put my foot in my mouth.

Why did I do so much lamenting and self-criticizing?  Why didn’t I relax more?

Can you relate?

Even my sassy outspoken friend Peggy, who passed away at 92 told me she didn’t know who she was, or what she thought about anything, until she was about 40.  I believe it.

What a shame to spend our youth in fretting insecurity, trying to be something we’re not, and being afraid to be who we really are.

And then to spend our older years trying to get the youth back.

My mother-in-law always says “Enjoy the moment!” And from everything I know of this wonderful woman, she has “enjoyed the moment” her entire life, and she has brought joy to others in the process.

I want to be like that.

Proverbs 16:31 says, “The silver-haired head is a crown of glory, If it is found in the way of righteousness.”

So here I am looking at another birthday. Now I’m going to be 3 score and more. I’m finally getting comfortable with who I am – who the Lord made me to be. I can finally relax and not beat myself up when I mess up – which I do all the time!  I can laugh at “bad hair days” or “odd shoe days” and I’m not afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger. I’m even learning to laugh when I can’t think of a certain word… or what I came into the room for.

I think the secret lies in 2 Corinthians 4:16 – So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.

I believe that.  And while my inner self is being renewed by the Lord, I’ll do what I can do to help that outer self stay healthy.

Psalm 103 promises that the Lord will satisfy me with good things so that my youth is renewed like the eagles’.”

I don’t know exactly how or when he plans to do the youth-renewing, but he always satisfies me with good things. And the birthday blessings for this year have already begun to pour in!  – a free car wash coupon, and $10.00 gift cards from Office Max and Victoria’s Secret!  Plus I get senior discounts for the rest of my life! And I’m pretty sure there will be tiramisu in my near future. Woo Hoo!




Unseen Dimensions

When they look at each other all they see is  a straight lineMeet Mr. and Mrs. DVD. They are a well-rounded pair, but they don’t know it. When they look at each other all they see is a straight line.  If they could move around, and circle each other, looking at each other from any direction, it would be  the same. Flat, straight lines.

I, however, am a higher power to Mr. and Mrs. DVD. (I actually created them.)  I can see them as flat lines, but I can also see their perfect roundness.  Mr. and Mrs. DVD can’t even comprehend the idea of roundness.  Mr and Mrs DVD

I’m reading Flatland by Edwin Abbott.  It’s not an easy read, but it’s worth the work. It really makes you think! John read it a few years ago, and it has prompted so many conversations between us – you know those deep, dangling, metaphysical discussions that never resolve, but create more deep, dangling, unresolved ideas.

That’s how Mr. and Mrs. DVD were born.

So here they are. The DVDs are contentedly living on this flat shelf of life. They have no idea of roundness or depth. No concept of the beautiful rainbow shimmer up on their surface. (They can’t even grasp the idea of up.)  All they know is their flat dimensions of length and width.

Their eyes have not seen, and their ears have not heard and their minds can’t even imagine all the dimensions we know. And they can’t imagine the potential they have within themselves.

But I know all about their potential.  I know what I created them for  – to provide stirring music and beautiful pictures!  That’s what’s inside them – their very essence.

So here I am in 3D Timeland. My mind can only comprehend length, width, depth, and time – but physicists and mathematicians keep finding new dimensions.

I looked it up on the internet, (Who would have even imagined the internet 25 year ago?!) and this is what I read “In physics the question is still somewhat open. Originally we believed there were only three, but Einstein demonstrated that time was another dimension, and thus established that there were four (three spatial and one time). Recently, certain problems in physics have suggested that even “higher” dimensions exist. These dimensions are purely (as far as we know) spatial, but are “wrapped up” tightly around themselves, and are thus invisible and undetectable in most situations.

That hurts my head.

The point is this. There is One who is the ultimate High Power – God. He created us. He can see each of our lives in the same dimensions we can. But since He is in a higher dimension, He can see far beyond that. He has created us with eternal potential, and He has plans to give us a future and a hope that is beyond our imagining.

Another dimensionIf someone held a finger just a fraction of an inch above Mrs. DVD she wouldn’t know it. The finger would be in a dimension higher than her experience.  Even if it was almost touching her, she couldn’t comprehend it.

But if she had a soul – intellect and feelings  – she would probably sense the reflection of a higher reality, of something greater than herself.

Our Creator is close. In Him we live and move and have our very being. He is in another dimension, but He created us with souls, and with the ability to catch glimpses of the higher reality reflected all around us. He has given us the capacity to realize there are dimensions far beyond what we see in this world. And He wants to reveal it all to us.

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We Are Like Pumpkins

Thanks to my sister, Patti Hill, for this great illustration she came up with while she and her son, Dillon, were carving their Halloween pumpkin.

“I was talking with Dillon about how we are like pumpkins when we let Jesus into our hearts…

He opens our heart, takes out all the nasty gross stuff…

puts a smile on our face…

…and puts His light in us to shine for all the world to see!”

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BIRGing and CORFing with the Giants

BIRGing and CORFing are acronyms coined by social psychologists.

I first heard the terms a couple of years ago in our Beth Moore Bible Study in the book of Esther. She was warning of the danger of putting people on a pedestal.

BIRGing means “Basking In Reflected Glory”

CORFing means “Cutting Off Reflected Failure”

I noticed a lot of BIRGing back in 2010 when the Giants won the World Series. Giants’ fans came out of the woodwork. It cracked me up. Everybody was on the bandwagon. People who had never mentioned the word “baseball” were suddenly wearing Giants’ jerseys and hats, talking about how “OUR boys are doing good!”

The same thing happened a couple of weeks ago when OUR team clinched the National League West.  I kept hearing that WE are going to the World Series again.

To be honest – I, myself, kept saying, “WE are going to the World Series again.” I couldn’t pass a stranger wearing Giants’ gear without giving him a thumbs up!

We were carried along on the wave of gladness and bonhomie!  What fun!

But alas! Today…we see CORFing at it’s finest.

I was talking to my daughter, Monica, this morning. She lives in Maryland now, and although she’s a Giants fan by upbringing, she’s Orioles fan by marriage.

We’ve all been excited about the prospect of an Orange and Black World Series.

She said “I was so proud when I was watching the Giants on TV. AT&T Park was so pretty and every seat was filled and there was a sea of orange.  I thought, ‘We’ve got this!'”

“We’ve got this…

But we didn’t have it. Both teams lost. Orioles and Giants both lost their respective games.

Our World Series hopes begin to diminish…

As John and I were listening to the game last night I can’t tell you how may times John said “Stupid Giants!” or “Oh come on!”

Today Monica said, “They played like a bunch of Little Leaguers!”

I agreed.

Why can’t they play like champions?  It’s so embarrassing!

THEY.  Cutting off reflected failure.

But… there are three more games in the playoffs.

Come on Giants – we really would much rather BIRG then CORF!

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Nuggets of Knowledge

“Happy First Day of Summer,” I greeted Marty and Justin, when I dropped my car off at their place for an oil change. “This is the longest day of the year.”

“Oh yeah, I heard something about that…” Justin sounded bored.

But Marty was excited, “The Summer Solstice!  Do you know why it’s the longest day of the year?”  He reached for a piece of paper – one of the mats they put on the floor of your car to protect the carpet. He began to draw a diagram of the tilted earth circling the sun. He explained that on this day we were closer to the sun than any other day of the year…and it’s because of the tilt of the earth, not the direction or shape of the orbit…

Then he stopped, sort of embarrassed. “I guess I got carried away.”

“No, I’m glad to know that,” I assured him. “I’ve been trying to learn one new fact a day since my birthday last week. Sort of keep my brain stretched out. I’m trying to be really intentional about it. So this is my fact for the day.”

The previous day I had learned that the heat of peppers is measured by The Scoville Scale. (Named after Wilbur Scoville, who invented it in 1912.)  The Scoville Scale measures the amount of capsaicin in a hot pepper. Capsaicin is a chemical that stimulates nerve endings in the skin. They use it for pepper spray. Pure capsaicin has a Scoville rating of 16,000,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).

“Well, if you want all kinds of useless bits of trivia, Marty’s the guy to go to,” Justin joked without mercy.

The older man looked a little abashed.

It made me think of an old story I heard about a frustrated teacher. He stopped in the middle of what he felt was a very interesting lecture. The students were not even slightly interested. They were texting and whispering – and some were even dozing.

Annoyed, the teacher walked to the blackboard and picked up a piece of chalk to write a word in huge letters: APATHY.

He stepped back and glared at his class.

They stared blankly at the word on the blackboard.

Finally one boy grunted the question, “Apathy. What’s apathy?”

“I dunno,” grumbled the kid next to him, “Who cares?”

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The Great American Treadmill Trek

We left Modesto on May 6, 1990. We were heading across the country on our DP AirGometer – a fancy new stationary bike that worked the arms and shoulders as well as the legs.  We started east on Highway 132, making our way slowly across the AAA road map.

Every day we jotted down how many miles we went, and every few weeks we added them up and marked them on the map. (This was before the days of Map Quest and other mileage calculating web sites.) I had copied the map’s scale of miles onto a twisty tie (from a loaf of bread). Using it as a flexible little mileage calculator, we followed the curves of the road up through Yosemite and beyond.  John had a red line and I had a yellow. We challenged and encouraged each other, and pretty much stayed together.

When we reached the California-Nevada border we got a Nevada map, and then the following year we got a map of Utah.  Sometimes, just for fun, we did research on the cities and places we traveled through. We often talked about following our route as a road trip one day in real life.

Then, somewhere in Utah in 1995 John had back surgery. Real life. After he recovered we decided to exchange the AirGometer for a regular treadmill. We also decided to start averaging both of our miles and travel together in a single line.

Mile after mile, map after map, and year after year, our journey continued. We counted all the miles we walked on the treadmill and any miles we walked outdoors.

Finally, after 20 years we reached our first destination – The Atlantic Coast!  On our map, and in our mind, we triumphantly arrived in Virginia Beach, home of John’s brother, Mark and his sweet family.

We gave them virtual greetings, but wished we could have stopped by for a visit in real life!

By this time we had 10 road maps – one on top of the other – all stapled to the wall near the treadmill.  Where do we go from here?  I tried to convince John that it was time to have a swimming pool put in the back yard so we could swim laps…across the ocean.  (He just gave me “the look”)

Instead we decided to head north and walk around the perimeter of theUnited States.

We still jot down the miles, add them together, and chart them on the map; but the twisty tie has been replaced by WalkJogRun, a site where I can measure the miles on my computer and then put them on the map.

Since our arrival on the East Coast, we’ve walked north along the beach when there was a beach road. We walk along the highway when it runs near the coast.  We have almost reached another goal. Today we stand at Whiting Bay, the most eastern edge of Maine. (There must be a lighthouse around here somewhere…)

Habakkuk 2:2 says “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.”  (Okay, so we’re making it plain on maps instead of tablets.)

It may be silly, but each goal we come to really feels like an accomplishment. Our imaginary destinations have created tangible victories, and encouraged us to keep on walking. We’ve walked thousands of miles.  Someone has said “Success is not a destination. It’s a journey.” So now we’re getting ready to journey inland, up along the Maine-Canada border, to the farthest northern corner of our country. Who knows what adventures await!


Not a Flat Adventure – Part 1

Newspaper photo of Robin and a llama on the opening hike of the Ohlone Trail, May 15, 1987

Robin’s dad laid out the Ohlone Wilderness Trail 25 years ago, and a very young Robin – along with my friend Emily and her llamas – were part of the group that made the first hike to open it.  So you can imagine that I was thrilled to be part of The Fellowship of the Four  who planned an “anniversary hike” on the trail this spring!

Robin, who is now a biology teacher in Southern California, was excited to return to her roots and hike in the land of her childhood.  Emily and Kathy have llamas, and looked forward to the hike as a training experience for one of their new young animals. I just felt privileged to be included for any reason.

At the ranger station, on the morning we began our trek, Robin was as giddy as a little girl! She and her family used to live here…and she played in that creek…and the old green barn hadn’t changed a bit (except now it was a visitors’ center, which happened to be closed that day) We walked along the water looking for the remnants of an old bridge. Robin told us about sitting and watching out the window of the ranger station as a violent storm washed the bridge away years ago.

left to right: Robin, Emily, Kathy and Andrena at the trailhead with "Josh"

Her dad, David Lewton, was Park Ranger for The East Bay Regional Park District, and the family made their home in a rustic cabin, deep in the park.  They didn’t have electricity, and although they had running water in the house, they didn’t have a flush toilet. Her mom cooked on a wood stove, or sometimes with propane gas.It was the life they chose, and Robin says that even as a child, she knew she had benefits that could never be purchased with such modern amenities as electricity or television.

She told us about going to school each day in the modern world, and then returning home to her adventurous real life in the wilderness park.

She said sometimes she spent the night with friends in town, and their lives seemed sort of flat. It was never really dark because there were always street lights, and little lights on the appliances in the home.  It was never really completely quiet.  And when she woke up in the morning it was always the same temperature – never hot and never cold. It was nice enough, she admitted, but just sort of flat.

I think the Lord must have been grinning during the weeks we were planning our trip.  We set it up for Easter break since Robin is a teacher. We’d had a remarkably mild, dry winter and spring, and we felt confident that the lovely weather would continue.  Little did we know that our three day hike would be during the biggest rain and wind and hail storm to hit California this year.  It would definitely not be a flat adventure!  (To be continued.)


The Ides of April

It was the soothsayer’s warning to Julius Caesar. “Beware the Ides of March!”  And sure enough, Caesar was stabbed to death in the Theatre of Pompey on that day. March 15th, 44 B.C.  The Ides of March.

But what do we know about The Ides of April? April 15th — that fateful day in the middle of this month!

Okay, to be accurate, I know April 15th  isn’t really “the Ides of April”. Ides comes from a Latin word that means “the middle”, so it seems as if  it should be. But the Ides is on the 15th only in the months of March, May, July and October.

In all the other months, the Ides is the 13th. Which makes absolutely no sense to me, since that would mean there are only 25 days in all those other months.  (If anyone has insight on this, I’d love to know how it works.)

So for now, apart from the fact that April 15th isn’t really “the Ides of April” — that TODAY is technically the Ides of April — it still makes an interesting conversation.

Beware the ides of April, 1865!

April 15th is the day President Lincoln died, after being shot in Ford’s Theater on the evening of the 14th. Recently I was reading “Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer” at the same time my friend Jennifer was reading “Killing Lincoln”.  We had fun comparing and discussing the two books.

Beware the ides Ides of April, 1912!

Probably by now everyone in the world knows that April 15th marks the hundred year anniversary of the sinking of the “unsinkable” Titanic.

But that doesn’t seem to have fazed my niece, Erin. She’s getting on board a cruise ship today – Friday the 13th– and she’s very excited to be at sea on April 15th.

And finally…Beware the Ides of April 2012.

The taxman cometh. April 15th is the deadline for filing Federal income tax returns.

Now for the good news!  April 15th is my son, David’s, birthday.

(As an interesting sideline:  April 15th became the tax deadline in 1955.  Prior to that it was March 1st, which is my other son, Matthew’s, birthday.)

As a toddler. David heard so many comments about this, that by the time he was two years old, he was proudly telling everybody that his birthday was on Tax Day.

And so, today, on the true “Ides of April”…IDE like to say bon voyage to Erin as she sets out on her cruise, and Happy Birthday to David!


Forward Thinking

Supposedly we’ll SPRING FORWARD this Sunday.  That is to say – our clocks will spring forward.  My friend, Jay, said it should be known as the day we FALL BACK …asleep.  But let’s not confuse the issue.

Daylight Savings time begins this Sunday and we set our clocks forward.

Last week we visited my mom in Arizona, and when we called to give her our ETA, we had to remember to take time zones into account. California is on Pacific Standard Time and Arizona is Mountain Standard. We have to move our watches ahead an hour when we cross the state line.  Except during the summer.

If we were going to visit mom next week we’d be on the same time because Arizona doesn’t use Daylight Savings Time.  (Nor does Hawaii)

Just thinking about it makes my head spin! Who came up with this idea in the first place?  I did some poking around, and found out it was Benjamin Franklin.  Well, duh!  What would you expect of the man who came up with the proverb: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”  And it became a law in 1918.

I think everyone has funny stories about oversleeping or being an hour late or an hour early when the time changes, and I hope you’ll comment on this blog and share some of them.

The funniest experience I’ve ever had was soon after John and I got married.  We had just started going to a little tiny church that didn’t have its own building. They met in a borrowed facility at 1:30 in the afternoon, between that church’s scheduled services.  We were pretty excited about it, because the teaching was good, and the people were friendly and it was pleasantly casual. Plus, it was kind of fun to sleep late on a Sunday, and then meander around and have a leisurely morning schedule.

So there we were puttering around in the yard, planting our garden, and pulling some weeds. We had a nice lunch and then went to clean up for church. We planned to get there about 20 minutes early so we could meet some of the people. (You know where this is going, of course.)  We walked in, and the singing was already well underway. We couldn’t understand it. We looked at our watches. We looked at each other. A couple we had met the previous week motioned for us to come and sit with them. I gave the man a questioning look as we settled down next to them.  He leaned over and quietly grinned, “Time change.”

“That’s weird,” I whispered to John, “they changed the time of the service and they didn’t even announce it last week.”


Golden Memories of The Golden Book Encyclopedia

“The ink in the period at the end of this sentence has more atoms in it than there are people in the whole world.”

 The words opened up concepts I had never even imagined. I read on.

 “In a thimbleful of air there are more atoms than you could count if you lived to be a million years old.”  (I was currently eleven years old.)

I’d been snuggled up in the corner of the couch, reading, but I was so astonished by this new information that I got up and wandered around the house reading the sentences to anyone who would listen.

I was like Belle, walking around with my nose stuck in a book. That in itself wasn’t unusual, but said nose was usually stuck in a Nancy Drew or Judy Bolton book. In the summer of 1963 I broadened my world in every direction. I set out to read straight through all sixteen volumes of The Golden Book Encyclopedia.  And I did.

I read all the time and everywhere, but the memory that stands out most clearly in my mind, is taking my book and climbing up to the little tree house my dad had built for us in the cherry tree. It was a roofless structure with four-foot-high walls, and a couple of little windows. A fair distance up the hill from our house. I would lie on the floor of the tree house and read, and then look up through the branches and ponder. And eat cherries.

The books are long gone. But for some reason I’ve always remembered those exact words describing atoms. They sort of make the caption on my mental picture of the summer of the encyclopedia.

A few weeks ago John and I were at a library sale shopping for books for One More Chapter. Imagine my delight when I caught sight of the first volume of The Golden Book Encyclopedia! As I stood there and  thumbed through the book every picture brought back a shining clear memory. 


From time to time I get an e-mail from someone asking about a particular book, trying to replicate a memory from their childhood. (“Does your book have a picture of such and such on the cover?”) Nostalgia.  I love it when I can send them the very book they describe.

As I reached the end of my new encyclopedia I realized that Volume One only covered Aardvark to Army.  I would need to find the next volume if I wanted to read about Atoms again. 

Now I was one of those people sending e-mails to booksellers, asking specific questions about a book from my childhood.

Volume two arrived a few days ago.  Arthur to Blood.  And there was the entry about atoms – word for word as I remembered.

And here I am again talking about it to anyone who will listen.

Post a comment and tell us your favourite book memory from your childhood.