It May Bear Fruit

This passage from Luke, chapter 13, resonates.

Don’t give up; try again; there is still hope; take action with care, try a different approach, Good can still result.

Yes. Yes it can.

And he told them this parable:
“There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?’
He said to him in reply,
‘Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.'”

AMEN.

A Place Called Helvetia

A small town in Oregon, a few miles west of Portland.

It is a rural place; quite green, lush, tranquil. One spot in particular is about all I really know about Helvetia, first-hand: Helvetia Tavern.

It’s a destination I’ve been visiting off and on for the better part of 20 years (I love that phrase, “…better part of…”). A good friend from school is a Portland Native; he introduced the tavern to me and a few other friends when we started going to the Oregon coast every year for a guys weekend.

Helvetia is the gateway to a powerful, joyful few days with some of the best people I know in my life. And time with these guys is precious and magic and insightful and I’d say, even sacred.

It’s Soul Time, bar none. It’s one of the most grounding experiences I have every year. I’m always better off after being together with these guys.

And it starts in this little town just west of Portland. Helvetia is on the way to the coast from the airport. The tavern is off the beaten path; you could easily drive by it, miss it, on the country road north off the highway.

The following is a little summary from the community website for the town. It sums up things nicely.

“”Helvetia’s unique character derives from a blend of Native American and European cultures.

Helvetia’s cultural heritage embraces the pre-settlement Atfalati (Twality) inhabitants, now part of The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Helvetia Community Association partners with the Tribes to interpret the heritage of Helvetia’s first peoples.

German-Swiss farmers immigrated to the Helvetia area over 150 years ago. They saw a strong resemblance to their native Switzerland in the fertile soils and rolling hills of the Tualatin Mountains and named the area “Helvetia”, Latin for “Switzerland.” The Swiss culture remains a vibrant element of our area as we continue to honor their hard-working heritage.””

I just think of Helvetia as classic Oregon Americana. It’s a step back in time. Right there in God’s Country. Big burgers, good beer. Need anything else? Just the good friends I visit with.

BLESSED.

Oh yea, and here’s the Jumbo Cheeseburger, maybe the marquee item on the menu.

GOOD.

Lyrics Post: Cheeseburger In Paradise”

There’s this song I memorized a long time back. I’ve sang it a thousand times if not a once. It still makes me smile. And it still makes me hungry. Thank You, Jimmy Buffett!

“Cheeseburger In Paradise”

Tried to amend my carnivorous habits
Made it nearly seventy days
Losin’ weight without speed
Eatin’ sunflower seeds
Drinkin’ lots of carrot juice and soakin’ up rays

But at night I’d have these wonderful dreams
Some kind of sensuous treat
Not zucchini, fettuccini, or bulgur wheat
But a big warm bun and a huge hunk of meat

Cheeseburger in paradise
Heaven on earth with an onion slice
Not too particular, not too precise
I’m just a cheeseburger in paradise

Heard about the old-time sailor men
They eat the same thing again and again
“Warm beer and bread,” they say, “could raise the dead”
Well, it reminds me of the menu at a Holiday Inn

But times have changed for sailors these days
When I’m in port I get what I need
Not just Havanas or bananas, or daiquiris
But that American creation on which I feed

Cheeseburger in paradise
Medium rare with mustard’d be nice
Heaven on Earth with an onion slice
I’m just a cheeseburger in paradise

I like mine with lettuce and tomato
Heinz 57 and French fried potatoes
Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer
Well, good god almighty, which way do I steer…

…for my cheeseburger in paradise?
Makin’ the best of every virtue and vice
Worth every damn bit of sacrifice
To get a cheeseburger in paradise
To be a cheeseburger in paradise
I’m just a cheeseburger in paradise

I like mine with lettuce and tomato
Heinz 57 and French fried potatoes
Big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer
Well, good god almighty, which way do I steer?

Writer(s): BUFFETT, PUTNAM, 1978

How We Spend Time

I’ve got an annual trip coming up with a few good friends from college. We’ve gotten together every year for the better part of 20 years, to catch-up, enjoy the coast, and generally ground ourselves. It’s a great time, and I feel super-blessed every year I get the chance to be with these guys.

And on a seemingly unrelated topic, a friend of mine lost her husband suddenly about a year ago. Thinking about that anniversary, and this piece below she wrote as a tribute to their marriage and years together…

Makes me even more thankful for these friends I see every year, and,

also the blessing of my own family, my wife and our kids.

I feel blessed and humbled and grateful all the more acutely each year when I’m away from them for this trip. I’m lucky to have the people I do in my life, both friends and especially my family.

So, these may seem like a non-sequitur, but the two circumstances that connect in my mind. And too, they give me the chance to share this powerful reflection from my friend about life with her husband.

All I can say after this? GOD BLESS.

“A Ballad of John and Les”

We planned a life together
of that there was no doubt.
Three little darlings in under four years,
that’s what our life became all about.

There was loving, fighting, sharing and all that drama,
sports, Scouts, dance and homework,
the Noone Children Challenging Chore Chart.
We did it all but it sometimes felt berserk.

Engineering was your job while I simply worked part time.
You didn’t mind when money ran short.
You knew I was happy mostly just being the mom.
Though CVC wanted pricey fun things. Well, that was their report.

Our favorite songs and moments others hardly knew—
Dumbledore, “Camelot”, “24601”, “Your hand feels so grand in mine.”
“Tradition”, War and Peace (you read such difficult stuff!) but when
“Same Time Next Year” or “Beauty and the Beast” was on, you were giving me a sign.

The kids, they grew and moved away; then the devil, Northrup Grumman, let you go
leaving you with the deepest kind of sadness in your heart.
Foothill’s changing; it became a place I didn’t want to be:
Retirement became the goal, our better life now about to start.

Scotland, England, Wales, Ireland, oh, that emerald isle.
Nancy and Kent, Kevin and Mo, with our friends we made that trip.
It was beautiful, lovely, joyous and green.
We got through two cancers to do it, happy enough to flip.

The house, the yard got all spruced up
for the wedding coming soon.
Chelsea married Vivek, all full of love.
Then we took our best trip in June.

Lewis and Clark and Ole Muddy sent us on that course, a journey.
Fifteen different states and Canada, too,
Rivers’ confluences, US Parks, friends and family, elk,
Waterfalls, museums, and mini-hikes. All beautiful? True.

John, 2017, so much time spent on the Ride4Diabetes,
Lions’ Thanksgiving Food Drive, Project Linus, fights and more.
Then March ’18: our 40-year anniversary, Disneyland, gorgeous ring and
yes, I will still need you when I’m 64.

The big anniversary still carried on; it was time for more vacation
Europe called us over once again.
Yachts, Croatia, broken crown, Bled’s Castle, Dolomites, to Venice, Cinque Terra, the farm.
A lovelier time? I can’t say when.

Mark and Voni were engaged, Chels and Vivek married one year, Chris attending college.
We came home, said, “Hi!” and “Europe was amazing to behold.”
Then off to Mass. and cousins galore, lobster on the Cape, bathroom repairs,
swimming and “Surprise, you’re 65 years old!”

New York with James and Sue, the Lake, the Erie Canal.
We saw the house, Roxie and Big bro’s train set,
Drove all over the place till we tried a new dessert.
Frozen custard could well be the best yet!

In New Hampshire, George and Linda own a cabin in the woods.
They took us to freezing Mt. Washington by train.
We saw a regal hotel, a pub and went on a moose hunt, by god,
We held baby Londyn then off to the plane.

Home for less than three weeks. He off with the boys
for golf and beer, I with the girls for lunch and wine.
I had such a great day with my girls
Believing that you, too, were fine.

Chelsea gave birth to Arya in April; you never even knew.
Voni married Mark in Montana; I walked her down the aisle.
You’d have loved that little girl so much and she’d have adored you.
Veronica Beth wanted her dad that day; she’d have had a bigger smile.

It’s been 13 months-plus, alone at 63.
I don’t know what to do or who to be
or why you are gone
and left without me.

We had our life planned together to play, to laugh,
to grow old and to sigh
about our aches and pains.
I didn’t even get to say good-bye.

I grieve and I cry.
And I still don’t know why.

by L. Noone 9/30/2019

“Patience is a Virtue”

Another lesson from my grandma comes to mind frequently. Why? Because I find myself oft repeating the phrase to my kids. Mind you, they’re little kids, so I’m pretty sure they don’t understand the context. That said, I use the words regularly:

“Patience is a virtue.”

Not sure whether grandma got it from the epic poem, Psychomachia, or otherwise it just came to her mind from other reading…but it has stuck with me for the better part of fifty years.

And it’s true. Nurture and fortify you practice of patience, and your life will be infinitely better.

So regardless of the origin, I’m going to keep repeating, and with those words try to shape my kids’ behavior — or better stated, REACTION — to the inevitable delays we face in getting what we want (if at all).

This life skill goes right along with the concept of Delayed Gratification. This practice will also serve you well. It’s absolutely related. And it’s absolutely helpful to being happy.

Thanks, Grandma.

More on the Seven Virtues? HERE.

More on Delayed Gratification? HERE.

Not Ready? Let it Soak

Grandma Lucille’s wisdom regarding washing dishes, pots, and pans that weren’t quite ready to get clean?

Let it soak.

Good advice that applies not only to dishes, but other aspects of life as well.

In a rut with a relationship? Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and give it some time.

Stumped with particularly challenging problem you’re working on, a temporary pause in efforts might help.

Running low on inspiration, ease off the gas pedal in your efforts, allow some room to breath.

These two phrases are cliche for a reason: they are true. Life’s not a sprint, but a marathon. It’s the journey too, and not the destination only that matters.

Not quite ready? Let it soak.