As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

It’s the Oregon Civil War this afternoon. The Ducks are #2 in the national poles and have already clinched the PAC-12 North Championship. If they can get past the Beavers today and Arizona in the PAC-12 Championship Game next week, they will be in the first College Football National Championship Playoff. I just hope they don’t look past Oregon State today. #GoDucks


My first-cousin-once-removed, Anna Carr, was in Seattle/Tacoma early in the month. Her visit PROVIDED us with a nice opportunity to visit Harbor Lights for lunch.

At Harbor Lights

I’m still PROVIDING leadership at church on the Session and on the Committee on Ministry for the Presbytery.

One of the new projects for Bethany I’m trying to get started is a closer relationship with the college students at the University of Puget Sound. I was able to connect with their director, and we will be PROVIDING dinner for their gathering in March. I led a Centering Prayer session with them at a retreat one Saturday evening, and they were really great kids.


As I reported last month, Big Al and I have begun a new creative writing class (he has taken it for the past couple of years, but there hadn’t been space in the class for me, until now.) I wrote a couple of stories and this little poem that I posted here last week.

The rains have started, so I’ve moved my exercise into the Wellness Center. I’ll admit the scenery isn’t nearly as good inside as outside, but I press on. The diet is going well. I’m losing about half-a-pound a week (and for almost one year in, that’s pretty good.) I’m taking the month of December (actually from Thanksgiving through New Years Day) off from the strict diet. I am still working out and counting my steps with my FitBit, but I’ve reduced my target steps from 10,000 a day to 8,000 a day – and I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t “get my buzz.”

I’m going to be posting from prompts from this list during Advent. Join me for a Bible verse, picture, and short reflection every day until Christmas.


I hope you enjoyed my “Gratitude” series during November, and that this will PROVIDE you with a short moment of respite during the hectic days leading up to Christmas.




As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

No sooner had I posted my last monthly update extoling the virtues of the Oregon Ducks than they lost to Arizona and dropped out of the top 10. Oh, well, never mind, they’ve won since then and have PROVIDED me and all their other fans with some spectacular football. I’m almost afraid to mention it, though, since they are playing Stanford – their arch nemesis – this afternoon. #GoDucks

We had a workshop at the church early in the month, where we created Soul Collages. It was very interesting, and I may pursue it further in the future as it PROVIDES much insight and spiritual encouragement.


Big Al and I took a four-day vacation to Victoria, British Columbia. We had spectacular weather and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It PROVIDED me with new walking opportunities, and lots of interesting sights to see. We took the Black Ball Ferry across the Strait of Juan da Fuca, so we had the car with us and were able to explore more of Vancouver Island than we would have otherwise been able to if we hadn’t had the car. We took a drive along the coast,


visited Fisherman’s Wharf,


where we met several harbor seals.


We took a ride around the harbor in a water taxi,


and had High Tea at the Empress Hotel.



The next day, we drove up the island to Duncan, which claims to be the Totem Pole capital of Vancouver Island. They certainly had a lot of them. They were scattered throughout the town,


as well as being clustered in the park in the center of town.


From there we caught a little ferry across the Saanich Inlet to Butchart Gardens.


The gardens were spectacular, and well worth the drive.


We spent the rest of the month pretty quietly. I continued to maintain my 10,000 steps a day on my FitBit, and continued to diet. I even lost another couple of pounds, although I will admit that the High Tea did set me back a little.

I’m still PROVIDING leadership at church on the Session and on the Committee on Ministry for the Presbytery.

Big Al and I have begun a new creative writing class (he has taken it for the past couple of years, but there hadn’t been space in the class for me, until now.)

The rains have started, so I’ve moved my exercise into the Wellness Center. I’ll admit the scenery isn’t nearly as good inside as outside, but I press on.

I can hardly believe it’s almost time for Thanksgiving, and before we know it it will be Christmas, and then the year will be over. During this coming month, I will remember to look around me with gratitude. I give thanks daily for my life here. May your lives be as happy and joy-filled as mine.




As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

I crawled back on my diet this month, and, with the help of my FitBit, was able to continue the downward trend on the scale.

The Lunch Bunch this month went to Stanley and Seaforts for lunch. It’s located on a hill above the Port of Tacoma. Okay food, great views. I didn’t PROVIDE much that day except a hungry stomach.

Port of Tacoma from Stanley and Seaforts

Franke Tobey Jones took the bus to Vashon Island. We enjoyed a ferry ride over, time shopping in the village, and a decent lunch of pizza and salad (unfortunately I couldn’t eat the pizza because… you know… the DIET), but the ferry ride was worth it.


The annual Wellness Walk was held in September. The first year I didn’t even try to go – I was still car-legged from Dallas. Last year, I did a very short walk (enough to get a T-shirt). This year I went on the long walk, and still had plenty of energy to press on!


I was finally elected to the Committee on Ministry for Olympia Presbytery (the only hold-up was, they didn’t have a Presbytery Meeting between the time I was nominated and September).


Now that I’ve been officially elected, I seem to be the clerk for COM. I, again, PROVIDED minutes of the COM meeting. I’m happy to be able to contribute in that way since I’m not really that familiar with the churches and pastors in the Presbytery. I’ve also been assigned four churches to pray for and keep in contact with. I did go with the outgoing co-chair to visit the session of one of those churches whose pastor is leaving at the first of the year. We’ve started the ball rolling for them to eventually call a new pastor.

Tacoma held a Maritime Festival this month, and FTJ took the bus down. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the boats, visiting the Maritime Museum, and eating a little junk food from the food booth (I just had a turkey leg – so that wasn’t too bad.)


My beloved Oregon Ducks seem to be PROVIDING us with another spectacular season. They seem to be solidly in 2nd place so far, and #1 Florida State seems to be imploding. We can but hope!


I’m almost afraid to mention it, but the Cowboys may actually have a team this year. Time will tell.



As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

Food seemed to figure prominently in my life this month. As the primary cook in the house, I’ve tried to PROVIDE healthy meals for myself and for Big Al. Of course he seems to be mostly focused on lots of chips and sodas, but I press on. I took August off from the strict diet I’ve been on since January, but I’ve tried to keep the carbs and calories down. In order to do that and still have really tasty meals, I’ve found myself PROVIDING  fresh vegetables with a weekly trip to the Farmer’s Market.


The Lunch Bunch this month went to Olympia and visited their Farmer’s Market before a wonderful dinner at Anthony’s Homeport.


August was also the scene of a couple of meals that my Team from church was in charge of. I PROVIDED the organization and people for another very successful National Night Out Party in the street by the church. The Tacoma Banjo Band provided some entertainment and church members and neighbors enjoyed a lovely evening.

Banjo Band (2)

This was also the month of the Annual Church Picnic. We went to Point Defiance Park and had lots of hamburgers, and hotdogs, and plenty of potluck side dishes and desserts. Yummy!


Sandwiched in between those three opportunities to overeat was my birthday. I’ll admit I overindulged, but I figure you don’t turn 70 years old but once and if you can’t have a wonderful French dinner to celebrate, you might as well just quit. Big Al took me to Aviateur, and it was everything I could have wished for.


I was PROVIDED with a wonderful trip to Mt. Rainier to see the wildflowers. Going to Paradise on the mountain once a summer is sustenance for my soul.


I, once again, PROVIDED minutes of the Committee on Ministry meeting. I’m happy to be able to contribute in that way since I’m not really that familiar with the churches and pastors in the Presbytery. It’s PROVIDING me a way to contribute.

My beloved Oregon Ducks seem to be PROVIDING us with another spectacular season. They opened with a 62-13 win last Saturday over the University of South Dakota. #GoDucks!


On a final note, my brother-in-law seems to be well on the way to recovery. He was moved back to Texarkana and into a rehab hospital. He has made such good progress that he is just about ready to go home and continue rehab on an out-patient basis. Thanks be to God who is the ultimate PROVIDER!


As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

Goodness gracious, where on earth did June go? July has totally snuck up on me!

I didn’t do much about “Providing” in June, except to be one of the eight people required in order for Franke Tobey Jones to take the bus sightseeing. It may not sound like much, but I can’t tell you how many really great sounding trips get cancelled because we don’t have enough people to go.


Early in June, Big Al and I took the train, and spent the day in Portland. I thought I posted about it, but apparently I didn’t. We didn’t have any particular plans or sightseeing aims, we just went down for lunch – left at 8:15 in the morning and were back at 5:15 that evening. Portland is a great little city with easy-to-get-around trams, and lots of “street art.”




I know I’m in the Pacific Northwest because the public drinking fountains bubble water all the time.

The flowers and plantings in the public parks and on the streets were beautifully tended – it was the Rose Festival the following day.

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The train station has great mission architecture, and has been refurbished/well-maintained, and the views of the sound from the train were reward enough for our tickets.


On Friday that week, the FTJ Lunch Bunch went to Seattle for lunch at Sky City at the Space Needle. (Good Grief! I never posted the pictures from there either.)


It was a beautiful day, and I overwhelmed myself taking pictures, as well as eating myself stupid on clams and mussels. We had great views of the sound, of the city and of Mt Rainier.

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I KNOW I did posts about FTJ’s trip to Northwest Trek and Mt Rainier Scenic Railroad.

I think I remember now why I hadn’t already posted about Seattle and Portland. I spent most of May and June doing a photo-a-day in anticipation of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). You can find all my post by searching here for #journeytoGA and/or #PCUSA. Also during the week of deliberations, I followed the proceedings on Live Feed and on Twitter and Facebook. GA will be in Portland in two years, and I’m determined to go, even if it’s only as an observer.

At church, I continue to provide leadership as a member of the session and as the chair of the Hospitality and Outreach Team. Summer is a busy time for us as we are the organizing group for our National Night Out Street Party in early August and our Annual Picnic in mid-August. Additionally we will be trying an activity during worship in July when we will pack “Gift of the Heart” School Bags for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Church World Service. If that goes well, we will do a similar activity in the fall, making hygiene kits for a local homeless shelter.

Now that I talk about all the “stuff” I’ve been doing in June, I understand why it seemed to disappear in a puff of smoke.

On a related note, the deer continue to demolish many of my flowers, and Big Al and I are off to the nursery to see if we can find something that they won’t destroy. I’m thinking maybe Foxglove (digitalis). I understand it’s as poisonous to deer as it is to people. Bwhahahahaha!!!!!


As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

I’ve continued to PROVIDE a warm body in attendance at Pierce County Hunger Advocates. I’m in charge of sending out alerts to folks who want to know when significant hunger-related bills are moving through Congress. We’ve been working this month on beating back an amendment on the Coast Guard reauthorization bill which would require 70% of all US international food aid to be shipped on US flag carriers, no matter its place of origin. This would severely limit the funds available for actual food to be provided to the world’s poor. Even locally purchased food, which was just recently authorized, would be affected. If you have any sway with congress this is still a hot button issue.

I continue to participate in our fledgling Toastmasters group here at Tobey Jones.

For most of April and the first half of May, I was able to attend a one-hour a week Conversational French class. I was the only person who came, other than the two college students who were hired to facilitate the hour. They were lovely girls who were very understanding of my fumbling lack of memory of vocabulary. They had both spent a year in France, one in high school and one in college, so they were very fluent. I loved visiting with them every week, and I hope Tobey Jones will offer the course again in the fall. One of them has graduated, but the other could be back next year.

The Hospitality and Outreach Team at church PROVIDED an opportunity for folks to get together and have a meal at a local restaurant. We went on a Saturday evening, and had a really good time. It’s nice to meet socially. This was also an opportunity for an intergenerational gathering, so we got to know some of the youth, as well as the other old fogies our age.

I suppose the biggest this thing I’ve PROVIDED is a customer for those local farmers who grow and sell organic vegetables, fruits, and plants. It’s become a regular thing for me to go to the farmer’s market every Saturday morning.


So far there have only been mustard greens, green onions, and asparagus,

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but the local strawberries are just starting.


They also sell organic plants to put in your own garden, that you won’t have to worry about killing all the bees and birds with the pesticides the big, corporate concerns like Lowes, Home Depot and McClendons put on their plants before they sell them.


These are all small, family farms and I especially like shopping at L’Arche, which is a farm for adults with developmental difficulties.


I guess it’s been being on this diet and having the dietician rave about organically grown produce, but I’ve become much more picky about what I buy. Also locally grown fruits and vegetables go a long way to helping minimize hunger here locally – if the farmers can sell their produce for a decent rate, we will have less worry about genetically modified foods and pesticides in what we eat.

rant/ I suppose the last thing I’ve PROVIDED (although not willingly) was fresh greens for the deer.


There you have it – chewed to the stalks – poor lupine – and the deer don’t even LIKE lupine! And all the bloom gone from the astilbe. (Snarl, growl) /end rant





As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”. This month I’m “providing” a little eye candy for our house and yard. (Maybe you remember me complaining that the back yard has lots of very nice plantings next to the house and around the porch, but you can’t see any of it from the house.)

This year, I prevailed on the powers that be to have the landscaping company (who, by the way, do a fabulous job here) to dig me a garden against the fence.

They did, and here it is – dug up, with bushes waiting to be put in. (You can see the fence is pretty grody with splashes of mud, and green moss growing on it.)

New Garden (2)

I bought a lilac and four forsythia bushes to serve as a backdrop. The lilac should bloom most of the summer, and the forsythia will be pretty early in the spring.

The landscapers planted them, along with two lupines and a chrysanthemum that I had left over from last summer. They have made it through the winter, so I figured they has earned a place in the garden.

Early Plantings

(The fence is still pretty awful, but at least the plants will cover it up.)

After my trip to the greenhouse, I added two more lupines and a couple of wall flowers. (Lupine and wall flowers are on the list for being deer resistant, by the way.)

More Plantings

(One of the maintenance men came over yesterday and power-washed the fence. It isn’t mossy and mildewy any more, but a lot of the paint was knocked off. Maybe they’ll paint it. :-))

Here’s a view of the new garden looking along the fence.

More Plantings (3)

I got some new hanging baskets/porch plants as well.

Here’s the basket that’s on the front porch.

Front Porch Hanging Basket (3)

And here’s the red geraniums I got to put in the big pot on the front porch.

Front Porch Geraniums

For the back porch I got a new (pre-planted) hanging basket (because I’m too impatient to wait very long for the stuff I plant to fill in).

Back Porch Basket #1 (2)

I DID get some plants to put in the two hanging baskets we had last year. It will be a while (but not too long) until they are trailing nicely (I hope).

Back Porch Basket #2


Back Porch Basket #3 (2)

I did two dish gardens (sorry the first one has terrible lighting – too much bright sun – too little shade.)

Dish Garden #1


Dish Garden #2

These were planters that hung over the porch railing last year, but when they rebuilt the porch, the brackets didn’t fit anymore. (Sigh!)

Window Boxes

Not sure what I’ll do with them this year, but maybe I’ll just let them sit on the porch. Maybe I’ll get a bench to put them on, or maybe I’ll see if my brackets will work on the fence, and they can move out there and help cover up ugly.

I also got some purple flowered plants – one in a hanging pot, and one (so far) just in a regular pot sitting on a table.

Hanging Pot


Purple Pot

Here’s a close-up of the wall flowers in the new garden.

Wall Flowers

and the lilac (it certainly is healthy looking for just having been transplanted.)


There’s one thing about the Pacific Northwest – plants grow like weeds, so I have to be careful not to crowd things.

I’ll try to remember to take more pictures as the hanging baskets and window boxes fill in, and as the lupines and lilac bloom.


As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

February was spent getting ready to host a gathering concerned with food insecurity here in Pierce County, Washington. It was held this morning, March 1, and I believe it was a success. At least I hope so.

One of the groups that I’ve been significantly involved in is Pierce County Hunger Advocates (if you haven’t “Liked” the page on Facebook, quit reading right now and go do it. I’ll wait).

We began as a local chapter of Bread for the World, and have since expanded to partner with Fish Food Banks of Pierce County, WA.

The steering committee, of which I am a member, has sponsored training sessions for representatives of various churches in the county, so they could conduct an Offering of Letters in their congregations. We have also visited the food bank locations and registered voters, so that those in need could advocate for themselves. Bread for the World was one of the leading voices in helping change the Farm Bill to minimize the cuts to SNAP (formerly Food Stamps). We didn’t get everything we wanted (still $8 billion in cuts over 5 years), but at least it wasn’t the original $20 billion.

Beth Elliott, the Executive Director of Fish Food Banks, was one of the speakers this morning. We learned that over 1,500,000 people visited various food banks in Pierce County, last year. Fish Food Bank, itself, served over 560.000.

We also heard from Matt Newell-Ching, the regional director for Bread for the World. We heard about this year’s focus, which is to streamline and improve international Food Aid. You can read about it on the Bread for the World web-site.

Our featured speaker was the Honorable Derek Kilmer, US House of Representatives, 6th District. He brought us up to date of the status of food aid internationally, the need for an adjustment to food aid in the United States, the pending immigration reform bill, and other matters happening in Washington, DC. He told us that the State of Washington ranks 15th in food insecurity in the country. He also spent time answering questions from the audience, and was very forthcoming about what we can and should expect from our representatives and senators.

By PROVIDING education to a group of people, and empowering them with facts to address some of the most pressing problems regarding food insecurity, I think I am doing my part.


As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

As you also may remember, I finally decided to do something about my weight. To that end, I am enrolled in a medically supervised weight loss program, that I’ve written about here, here and here.

The major way I’m providing during this period is by trying to be sure Big Al is eating. He is unimpressed with the vegetables that are the basis of this diet. He is also dedicated to things like


red beans and rice with sausages,


and bratwurst with sauerkraut and little red potatoes.

I probably don’t need to tell you that the doctor and the dietician visibly paled when I suggested either of these meals. To them, sausages are, by definition, highly processed, loaded with salt (and don’t even mention the salt content of sauerkraut) and generally POISON!

Consequently, I’ve been fixing meals that I have to eat and he’s beginning to look a little sad at meal times. So I PROVIDE him with occasional comfort food. For the most part, he’s been a pretty good sport about it, but he almost rebelled today when I presented him with broiled fish, asparagus, and broccoli. He refused the broccoli, and I gave him a can of corn, so he’s a little happier.

It’s best I can do for him right now, and he has admitted he’s lost a couple of pounds, even while consuming an entire bag of barbecued potato chips in one sitting.

It’s a pain to cook two meals, but I do it occasionally, because I’ve promised to try to PROVIDE this year.

photo credits: Flickr creative commons

and Flickr creative commons


I told you last week that I had chosen “Provide” as my word for the year. Today, I’ll try to explain a little more fully what I mean when I say “provide”, because it’s as much about what I can’t do as about what I can do.

Buttermilk Sky (2)

1.  I can’t provide emotional feelings to anyone else. In other words, I can’t MAKE somebody happy (or sad, or envious, or loving). I can act in a way that may encourage the good feelings and discourage the bad ones, but people’s feelings are their own. I need to keep reminding myself that I’m not responsible for anyone else’s feelings.


2.  Sometimes, when it comes to providing things, I can’t do it all myself. Sometimes it means getting out of the way while other people do the good work. Sometimes it means doing something with my own two little hands. Sometimes it means giving money so that folks are fed and housed. Sometimes it means organizing rallies and meetings, and sometimes it means attending them, and sometimes it only means helping publicize them. But all of those help to provide.


3.  Often providing means working with my time commitments so that I can be available at home, at church, and at other activities. I like to go places and see things, so I have to be able to say “No” to some commitments, while still providing alternative choices to be sure the commitments get taken care of.

Ian & Granddad

4.   I also have to remember that I need to provide myself with intellectual stimulation – new books, and blogs to read – awareness of current events – educational groups to connect with – classes to take – people to talk to.