A Landscaping Truce

We have decided it is time to take a break from our landscaping project. Reason number one: It is getting expensive. Reason number two: We are tired. We will complete the railing, water pressure the old paint off and repaint the deck at a more leisurely pace.

Here are some photos of what we, with lots of loving help, got done so far.

New pool liner installed (and lilacs about to bloom!)

New pathway from pool to around the new lower deck. And, new planter boxes planted with tomatoes, squash, and decorative pumpkins that will climb over wire and create a short trellis to walk through.

New deck and rock patio and plants and Japanese maples.

And looking out of dining room window, the dogwoods are blossoming.

This evening, I will plant peppers by the chicken coop and sow some cut flower seeds in another area. I will also plant some bush bean seeds in a planter box we built that already had pole beans just planted.

What will I do with my spare time? Going to fish for bass in Lake Oroville on Friday afternoon (catch and release) and maybe, just maybe play a round of golf on Sunday! My New Years resolution was to read 20 books, fish 20 times, and golf 20 times. The score so far is 11 books read, 0 fish, and 0 golf.

Time to adjust!

And now I will randomly type three letters to see what parting autocorrect message I might have for you…

This dogma Chu house strong.

There you have it, autocorrect wisdom. This is actually making me laugh a bit. Try it.

That Time Again

In America, at a certain time in your life, we like to buy a new bicycle…and store it away in our garages. It is kind of a rite of passage thing.

Two years ago, I bought a shiny red bicycle. I have ridden it exactly, oh let me add this up….once two years ago, and hmm, once last year. Yes, I have ridden it twice.

Today after building a couple more planter boxes for our landscaping project, I sat down to watch my favorite sports team, the San Francisco Giants. Then I thought, “Man you can’t sit on your ass all afternoon. Go ride your bike.”

Naturally when I went out to check on the nearly new bicycle, the tires were flat on it. Why do I say naturally? Because it is a given that whenever I decide to ride, even when I used to ride 3 hours a day, the tires will be flat. It is a personal curse upon me and mine.

Yet, that was not going to stop me from ride #3! What was going to stop me was raising my leg up over the bike seat. I am the first living person who has early onset rigamortis, or is it spelled rigor mortis – seems to be some disagreement on the old World Wide Web about the spelling of it. However I figured it out- I found a curb where I was going to ride which allowed me to get about 6 inches higher and I was able to swing my leg like a broom stick over the bike seat.

Off I went. Look at what a beautiful place I rode by, rigamortified and all!

When I came back, I sat by and under some Japanese Maple trees and their leaves have just opened.

Then I remembered some pictures I took at work last week as I walked around our campus.

And then I thought about the turkeys I saw during a walk yesterday.

And then I thought about a family gathering we had for Easter last week and I made 2 of the 7 grandchildren take a selfie with me.

And then I thought…I am a very fortunate man who is surrounded by love and beauty. I should ride my bike more often. It is good for the soul.


It is 11:02 p.m on a Friday night. Outside a howling wind accompanies the rain – which the weather gurus refer to as an atmospheric river. That means the rain stretches from Northern California all the way to Hawaii. They used to call it the Pineapple Express, but I guess that didn’t sound scary enough. I still prefer ‘it is raining cats and dogs.’

This week I had three young men in my office. They all are about to graduate and they are very good soccer (American usage) players. We were just kind of “shooting the shit” as vulgar people say when I suddenly asked them, “Do you believe in God?” This is not the kind of question one asks in public higher education, but I felt the urge plus I could always play the ‘senile card’ at my age if I had to.

One hour later, I had to wrap up the conversation or we might still be there. They hungered to express themselves and each one had a different answer. It was like one of those old insensitive jokes, ” An atheist, a Catholic, and a New Ager walk into a bar…” Although holding strong opinions, they politely listened and thought about each person’s answers and they shared personal experiences supporting their views…and they cared for one another. I just sat and listened.

The atheist is an engineering student and he loves studying physics. He sees the world as completely explainable through the laws of physics. I enjoyed his talk and greatly admired his scientific approach. The Catholic one went to a Catholic school as a child and although not dogmatic in his beliefs, the Catholic traditions provide him access to a deeper sense of spirituality and wholeness. I was touched by his humility. The New Age disciple described the world in forms of energy and he borrowed terms from both Buddhists and Christians. He had an enthusiasm for life and an openness to possibilities.

At the end, as they all walked out together, probably to finish the conversation over a few beers, they turned and asked, “What about you Gary? What do you believe?”

I told them that I embrace science … and I believe in God…but not the God I was taught about.

I also embrace doubt. I now am beginning to believe that religion’s purpose is not to provide answers but to create questions. All my life I looked for answers from religion, but couldn’t really accept what I was told. “Doubting” Thomas was presented to me as the least worthy of all the disciples because of his lack of belief in what he was being told about the resurrection of Jesus. Well move over Tommy, I would be right there with ya.

The funny thing is, I am developing a deeper faith through all my questions than I ever did with all my answers. I think sometimes having questions offers a more active, engaged, curious life journey than an answer based journey does. I know it allowed me to sit and enjoy immensely listening to three young men discuss their big life questions.

Man, that atmospheric river is really roaring outside.