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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Laguna Tic Bit Me Again!

I went back in time yesterday. That’s what it feels like whenever I wind down through the canyon road that leads to the other side of the rim of foothills behind Laguna Beach. There are four houses in the Cliff section  that I’ve called my home at times ranging from 1937 through 1975. Do I wish I’d stayed in any one of them? How would my life story have read today if I had?

Well, my favorite town definitely was Laguna Beach. Even though it has kept much of its charm from my childhood days it is polished and still the same “ten miles long and six inches wide.” That is simply a geographical fact and no doubt one that has helped to keep it unique.  

“Where shall we go for lunch, Mom?” My weekly date with Robin, my daughter, hadn’t taken us to Laguna Beach in a long time so we decided quickly. Lunch at a special place is usually a part of our day.

“If I could have my pick of places I’d choose Trotter’s Bakery,” I said. 

Robin agreed. “Me too. Who could forget those ham and cheese sandwiches on rye bread we used to take to the beach? They were warm and so filled with thin slices you could hardly open your mouth wide enough to take the first bite.”

“And don’t forget the aromatic mustard and delicious giant dill pickle too!” I added. But many years ago Trotter’s had been taken over by a fancy gourmet restaurant. “It might seem traitorous, but let’s try that one,” I said. And we did. We sat right by the sidewalk with only a half partition to keep us separate from mothers with baby strollers, friendly dogs and shaggy old-timers as well as young laughing teens clad scantily and heading toward the beach. The ambiance, service by a charming young woman and superb food were great.

Afterwards we went shopping and I bought a pair of shoes that cost me what three pairs might have in my usual shops, but they promise to be easy on my feet and they’re not clunky but good looking as well. In quest of a garden watering can we ended up at the old Coast Hardware store that “has everything” we were told. I didn’t buy one but went out with a new clock, a potato masher and two paperback books about Laguna Beach in the early days.

“There’s a picture of me and my mother in this one,” I told Robin. “We’re in the crowd standing on the curb as President Franklin D. Roosevelt went through town back in July of 1938.” With the help of a magnifying glass Robin found me. “Yup, that’s you all right, Mom! You must have been about twelve then, right?”

I couldn’t decide between the books so I bought both and now I’m going to have to ration my time perusing them because, well, it’s been so long since I spent my junior high school days there I want to savor every page and picture. 

I’d gladly have lived in Laguna Beach all my life if I could have but we did land there at the end of Wally’s Marine flight career and stayed for fifteen years when our three kids were going to school. We all picked up the “Laguna tic”as the old-timers said we would. 

But had we stayed I’d have missed those eight years on our Oregon ranch, the three in our lakeside home in Bellevue Washington, the seven near Robin’s little family in Laguna Niguel after Wally G. died, the three in my old hometown of Preston, Minnesota, the eight with Robby, my second hubby, in Chesterfield, Missouri, the four in Santa Barbara after he passed, and my latest five in Laguna Hills. 

Laguna Beach now shares its first name with all the other Laguna cities that have sprung up where bare hills, strawberry fields and orange groves claimed the lands in back of the hills behind Laguna Beach. What has grown up here since those early days? Cities, suburbs, and spreading crops of skyscrapers, not to mention the labyrinth of packed freeways and an international airport. 

My little community here at The Willows is quiet and homey and lovely. I’m glad to be near my beloved Laguna Beach so I can see her, reminisce as I taste the salt air, bask by the beach and stroll her quaint streets. Through all the years she has managed to keep her charm, but golly those books I bought sure make me feel old! (But better!)

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Game of "What If?"

I don’t know if there is a game called “What If?” This little piece of mine is not meant to plagiarize the name if there is, but it sounds like it might be a fun parlor game. On the other hand, if you bother to read this you may agree that my particular “What if?” would take more time than an after dinner fun game. It’s far too serious than that. My question would be, What if Eve had not eaten of the “Tree of the knowledge of good and evil” and tempted Adam to do so too? Would they have become bored to death having all things handed to them on a platter? Not needing to labor either in the fields for food or in procreation to have children? Would they still be living in an old age of 6,000 and some years of relative retirement? Or might they have then eaten of the “Tree of Life?” Would they have found all children born of God?

Silly questions I suppose, but they bring to bear another question. Would it have been the loss of that thing called “free will” we think so highly of? Sure, we’d have been spared the pain of wrong choices and chance, but would it have made us practical robots of a “Lord God?” 

Knowing the world’s constant dangers and warfare, strife and terror, would we choose the better option of foregoing the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and passing it up for the tree of Life? 

In thinking about this I know my choice would be to be obedient to the Lord God’s warning. Only, I’d have to ask, “Why did you allow the good and bad tree to grow in the garden in the first place? Why did you present such a temptation to snare your children into slavery and a world of pain and short-lived pleasures? If You are the good God you’d like us to believe, why would you make life take place in a wild and dangerous wilderness? Even I am a kinder soul than to put my kids into a school where there are countless wrong options to every one right one.”

Now I’m asking myself what can I learn from this allegory which is so unlike the record of creation in the first chapter of Genesis? That God was not some tribal “lord” but a good God, a one and only God, who sees darkness as only a first impression on the “face” of creation, sort of like a cloud or mirage that presents an initial misconception needing only light to penetrate the darkness and ignorance and reveal the truth of being.

I’m thinking now that this earthly schoolroom is merely the way God, divine Truth, Life and Love encourages His children to take on more of His light in order to get through the initial "dark glass" so we can see clearly out of the “Valley of the shadow of death.” Maybe we’re like His children playing in the streets but learning in both school and home. We find here that we must daily choose the paths to take but it’s not hard when we are obedient to maps the successful pioneers have drawn for us. 

The Bible says that God rewards us for choosing His way and following it as they did. With long life will I satisfy them and show them my salvation, He promises. To me that implies that if we need more time and are given it, I’ll buy that. I’ve done my share of lagging behind. I want to be ready for the next grade in this "school." I’ve got some make-up homework to do. I’ll need a good lamp as well as my own light and plenty of extra oil because it’s beginning to look a bit dark out there!

So you won’t find me complaining about old age. There’s time for me and you too if we keep shining. Our light comes from on high but we need to do a lot of letting it be! A friend of mine, well along in years, once said to me, "These are good years to figure out the meaning of life." I agreed then and especially now.  So, get out your old rockin' chair too. Or think about it with your hands in the dishwater. When you're in the shower or saying your good night prayers. I'm finding it beats solitaire or old movies. And it keeps your mind on pleasant prospects.