Saturday, December 29, 2007

Jesus' Campaign Promises

In my favourite newsreader, I have a search set up for the word "Jesus" -- just to see what the media is saying. Lately there have been a lot of stories about nativity scenes being vandalized. This morning, though, I came across an article from the Athens Banner-Herald called Playing the Jesus Card can cut many ways. It was written by William McKenzie, an editorial columnist for The Dallas Morning News.

Mr. McKenzie makes some provocative statements and the article is well-worth the read. Here's an excerpt:
We voters better watch out when candidates play the Jesus Card. The child born in a manger turned out to be a radical figure. And his message can take us in demanding, unpredictable directions.

For example, there's that hard command to love your enemies. How would the professing candidates abide by that charge? Shouldn't we ask whether that dictum will affect how they deal with the opposition party on Capitol Hill? With Iran? And if it will affect them, how so?

Then there's the fact that Jesus spent much of his ministry challenging his day's religious establishment. Wow, that could create mighty big sparks if any of these candidates really played the Jesus Card.
Mr. McKenzie's final thoughts say it all:
Let's not boil Jesus down to the candidate of the left, right or middle. Let's remember that the child born in a manger was too complicated for that.
~ Keith

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Views From My Office Window

I'm a Home Hospice RN and I spend all day
driving around rural Oregon.
This is what I see from my window.

~ Keith

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Keysmas

At 4pm Pacific Time today, recorded in Marion County, Oregon: Keith & Cathy Seckel are the new owners of a spacious home with an even more spacious yard. Address change cards are forthcoming.

Merry Christmas indeed!

~ Keith

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I'm Old

When I was two years old, I had surgery on my right eye (that's OD for those who care) and I wore a patch for awhile -- over my good eye, to strengthen the weaker one. I've worn glasses ever since then.

Yesterday I passed a milemarker: I got old: I now wear bifocals.

The cool thing is, I don't mind. I like the idea of getting older -- I am finally starting to feel like an adult (at least on the outside). It is a new adventure in every part of my life: driving, reading, walking down stairs, anything that involves my eyes.

~ Keith

Monday, November 19, 2007


Saw this over at Lynda's blog and decided to check it out.
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I don't know if I should be bummed that my writing is so juvenile, or happy that my blog is so readable.

I guess I'll choose the latter.

~ Keith

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Washing dishes
Tiny spots of food
Stick to the plate
Jet nozzles blast fiercely
Water drops mercilessly pelt
Stuff stays stuck
Ever-so-lightly touching it
Single fingertip barely brushing
Away it goes

I wonder
How can something so tough
So resilient
At the same time,
So very fragile?
Autumn's rainy arrival
Spiders' webbed bridges everywhereWinds blow fiercely
Large drops mercilessly pelt
Gossamer strands
Hold firm
Ever-so-lightly touching it
Fingertips barely brushing
Away it goes

Still I wonder
How can something so tough
So resilient
At the same time,
So very fragile?
Two Hospice admissions
Two patients so similar
Family dynamics blow fiercely
Disease symptoms mercilessly pelt
Two gossamer lives
Hold firm
Ever-so-lightly touching it
Divine Fingertips barely brushing
One life goes away
One life lingers

Again I wonder
How something
So very fragile
At the same time
So unbelievably tough
So amazingly resilient?
~ Keith

It is such a secret place, the land of tears.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


My job as a Home Hospice Nurse has me driving all over the boonies in Polk County, Oregon. All of the 100+ folks on staff here carry a Blackberry 7250, and we are constantly in communication via eMail -- I get around 40-50 eMails a day on it, and I'm new here, so it will go up as I get more busy.

It is also my work cell phone, and our company has an unlimited data plan, so my Blackberry also carries my gMail, Google Maps, Google News, and Google Search apps, plus access to WeatherUnderground and 2 push-messages a day from AccuWeather. Yes, I'm a geek, but it is also handy to know what weather to expect as I am driving around in it all -- especially as the rains have now hit hard, and winter is still over two months away.

It is really nice to be out and about in a new area, and have the world at my fingertips. As such, I now use it even when I am off duty. I have become "that guy" with the holster on his belt. No, I have not stooped to wearing black socks with white tennis shoes or wearing a belt with shorts -- and I've never worn socks with sandals.

But I am now gloriously, hideously, happily addicted to having it with me at all times.

It is, indeed, my Crackberry.

~ Keith

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Even When Bad Ideas Seem Good...

...they are still bad ideas.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
has long been a favorite movie of mine.

But this is so true...
~ Keith

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Glory of Bedpans

...religion is totally integrated into all that we do and think, but never forced on anyone. It is there, largely without words. Florence Nightingale, I think, is the one who said "You should carry the bedpan for the glory of God." Many would prefer to say, "I'll carry it for the dignity of man." But, you know, the two belong together.
~ Dame Cicely Saunders

~ Keith

Quotation from The Moment of Truth: Care of the Dying Person -- full bibliography here

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Anger & Depression

Sometimes well-meaning people respond to someone else's grief by trying to give advice.

When that happens I want to respond in grace, knowing they meant well and trying to believe the best about them. That's fine, on one level -- I don't want to be mean to people who are trying to help and comfort me...

But I know myself and in making more grace for others at this time in my life, I run the risk of placing myself in a position of trying to be the nice person for them when I am the one hurting. That is not healthy for me. This is a season where it is OK for me to be overly sensitive.

So instead, I'm allowing myself to feel the anger and depression and sense of abandonment when people...just. don't. get it.

If you're trying to think of how to relate to me at the moment, please allow me to give some advice of my own. Left to me, I would use profanity and offend you, so instead I'll use the words borrowed from someone who can express it more eloquently than I can right now:

Now Is The Time For Tears
by Charlie Peacock

Now is the time for tears
Don't speak
Save your words
There's nothing you could say
To take this pain away
Don't try so hard
You can just simply be
Cry with me don't try to fix me friend
That's how you'll comfort me

Heavenly Father cover this child with mercy
You are my helper through this time of trial and pain
Silence the lips of the people with all of the answers
Gently show them now is the time
Now is the time
Now is the time for tears
~ Keith

Monday, September 03, 2007


Joseph Clarence Seckel
13th April 1930 -- 3rd September 2007

My dad died this morning. He was 77.

Two pieces of irony:
  • Today is Labor Day. My mom died on Memorial Day in 2002.
  • One week ago today, I started work at a Home Hospice agency.

My sister says he was not in a bunch of distress, and was in good hands when he died. It was his heart.

So now my sisters & I are orphans. Here's a picture of me and my dad and some other family at breakfast a couple weeks ago. I'm glad I got the chance to see him.

I'm also glad that now my parents are together again.

Lots of happy memories.

But mainly I miss my dad~ Keith

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Today we did a little loop around our area -- on the motorcycle!I call these "Simpson's Clouds" =O)A nice local orchard, on a winding country road.

And here's our route.

~ Keith

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Technology Time Limits

This is an Apple iBook battery. I've shown it small here because mine seems to be lasting a shorter and shorter amount of time. Only about 90 minutes at this point.

But maybe that is a good thing. Maybe it would be good for me to only use my laptop until its battery is flat, and then sign off until it is recharged.

I just got a warning saying I have 1 minute before my iBook goes to sleep whether I want it to or not. I could choose to go plug it in and sit there and type. Instead I'll choose to go do something else!

I guess a technology fast doesn't have to be total abstention.

A Sunny day awaits,

~ Keith

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Road Trip: Detroit Lake

Here is my bike all loaded when I arrived on Monday afternoon -- sorry it is a little dark. I didn't have time to tinker with the camera settings since I was too busy getting rained on!
I filled the tank before leaving, and when I got there. Once more after a ride on Tuesday, and a last time when I got home on Wednesday. If I did my math right, I averaged over 53 mpg! Not bad for a fully loaded bike on the highway!

Here is camp all set up
with things hanging to dry once the rain let up.
Note the brightness of my reflective gear in the flash -- even my gloves drying on the rack by the fire! And here I am, happy to be there and done with the set-up. I wasn't dry yet, but I was on the way!
On Monday afternoon, the lake was gloomy and foreboding -- kinda cool looking!
Tuesday dawned clear and warm, yea! I went for a ride to see some of the national forest nearby:
I was hoping to get to Olallie lake (some of the signage is a bit nonstandard, put up by folks who don't work for the ODOT!):
I rode about 34 of the 37 miles there, only to come to a sign that said "pavement ends" -- not wanting to brave 3 miles of hilly gravel roads, I simply turned around and headed back. Bummer.

Tuesday night I had a nice fire, and let it burn down to rich coals. I wish the picture did it justice. There's nothing quite like getting away from it all, and watching something like this for a few hours instead of a TV.
After the coals died, I went out by the lake at around 11:30 pm. The sky was clear, and as I let my eyes adjust, I was amazed at the canopy of stars. It was dry enough to tinker with my camera settings, but I couldn't get the exposure right, so unfortunately I have no pictures of the night sky to share with you. I sure wish I could though!

On Wednesday -- another warm day, yea! -- I broke camp. As I was packing things up, I saw this:
That's my sleeping bag, and the bright green is the air mattress. Beyond that is the door to the tent, and my watch on the floor of the tent. See it? Right there at the seam between the door and the floor? Here's a closer look, with my watchface in the foreground for perspective:
I don't know if my impromptu roommate had been there all night, or if he'd come in at 3 am when I went to use the little camper's room, or if he had only been in there for the 5 minutes or so since I opened the tent flap to the world around me. Anyway you slice it it was pretty freaky. Normally I follow the catch-and-release policy with spiders, but this guy freaked me out a little too much. Look at the little spiky-pointed ends to his legs! I offed him with the edge of my flip-flop, and he made a loud sickening crrrrr-RUNCH as his exoskeleton crumpled. Here he is squashed, with my breakfast next to him for perspective. Two of his legs actually snapped off!

This is my bike all packed up and getting ready to ride home on Wednesday.
My trip back was uneventful, and I stopped at the DMV on the way home to get my Oregon license plate.

All in all it was a good trip. You can see the rest of the pictures here

~ Keith

PS -- for the serious inquirer's who just have to know, here is my route, and here are a few close up shots of how I attached things:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

First Rain

awakened a-listening
constantly intrusive whitewaternoise

cold wood cold cement cold feet
sparkling silvering shimmering

stepping out stepping under stepping in
face upturned arms upheld
spirit uplifted
2:48 am baptism

kevin joins david & paul
& three-in-one singing in my head:
the natural things
speak of the invisible
look around and see
who could deny the wonders
of His love
standing dripping
reminded refreshed renewed
reborn Oregonian
in the
first rain

~ Keith

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Oregon Weather

We've been here almost two weeks now, and the daily high temperature has been in the mid-high 70s to mid-low 80s. It hasn't been bright and sunny all day every day, but we've had quite a bit of sun! We've only had a very light sprinkle or two, but Autumn is on it's way, and I'm ready for some weather!

Where we lived in California, "a chance of showers" meant "it's going to be cloudy" and as for the rain, it meant "there is a chance it will rain either somewhere else or overnight -- so don't plan on enjoying it, nyah nyah nyah!" =O(

Growing up here in Oregon, I remember the forecast always included a specific %chance of rain if they thought it would rain at all! The old standing jokes were:
In Oregon we have two seasons:
warm wet, and cold wet.

Last year 2,762 Oregonians fell off their bicycles
and drowned.
To get acquainted with the new forecasting vocabulary here in Salem, I went to a few weather sites online. Here's how the weather continuum shapes up:

Mostly Sunny
Partly Sunny
Partly Cloudy
Mostly Cloudy

(...and keep in mind any of the above might be days that are in the mid-50s or the mid-80s, depending on the time of year -- and any of the above might also have a %chance of rain listed!)

~ Keith