Monday, February 1, 2016

Joy's grape

Here is a picture of a pair of ducks in the creek behind my house. I took the picture a couple weeks ago.

I see these ducks fairly often when I walk my dog down by the creek, especially on weekends, when I walk him later in the morning. This morning, I saw them again. They were standing on a branch that extends from the opposite bank down into the water. They were just like a textbook illustration, standing side-by-side, out of the water so you could see their orange feet and all. I wished I had brought my camera, but I hadn't.

I've read a blogger who doesn't like to see people reaching for their cameras all the time instead of just living in and enjoying the moment. I think it's a natural impulse, now that we have the ability, to try to instantly retain what we are happy or excited or moved to see. We know that the moments are fleeting and we wish we could keep them a little longer. The camera is a way to try to fulfill this wish.

John Keats' poem Ode on Melancholy attributed melancholy to the fact that life's pleasures pass quickly, and he advised being conscious and mindful of beauty, to get the most out of it, while acknowledging its brevity. Keats was probably living with the knowledge, or at least the suspicion, that he himself would die young, so it was a strong feeling for him. The final stanza is particularly beautiful:

She [Melancholy] dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung.

I remember my English professor, Dr. Tiemersma, admiring the lines "him whose strenuous tongue / Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine," and also his recommendation that we never pronounce "Proserpine" to rhyme with "poisonous wine" except when Keats demanded it of us.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 31

Today is the last day of January. By the end of January the holidays seem a long, long time ago.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday evening

Well, it's that rainy time of year in Northwest Washington. Today we had some sun, and I was glad to see it. Friday evening, driving home from work, I encountered a heavy downpour. Sometimes the rain plus the splashing from other cars plus the time of day when the light was fading made it hard to see. I was glad to get home. I had a quiet weekend, my normal kind. I have some family visitors coming soon, and I'm looking forward to that.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Watch in the night

I am having another "middle of the night" evening. When I got home from work, I took my dog outside, then came back in and fed him. He was so happy to be with me. I was feeling bright but not hungry, so instead of fixing dinner I sat in the recliner and snuggled with my affectionate dog, intending afterwards to try a new knitting pattern. It was so cozy and warm to cuddle with him that I quickly became drowsy and then fell asleep. I woke up about four hours later and have been awake now for a couple of hours.

This has become a pattern for me lately. I usually do eat dinner before falling asleep, but I sleep through the early evening, then wake up for a while late at night, then sleep again till morning. Neither good nor bad, I guess, as long as it all adds up to sufficient sleep.

Bimodal sleep.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Books, trees, and sneezes

I'm reading Elizabeth Goudge's memoir Joy of the Snow

I think I like her books so much because I have a similar temperament to hers. She wrote early on in the book that she has tended to love places more than people. And, though of course I love many people dearly, I love Lynden as a place and I love my house as a place to live and especially my deck, where I grow flowers, and the back yard.

Later in the book she wrote about the gift of singleness and said one doesn't appreciate it until one is older because at first it's so disappointing to be childless, and this also was my experience. I fretted a lot about never finding the right person to marry until I was into my 40s. When it was too late for me to have children, then I lost my desire to find a husband. Elizabeth Goudge mentions in this paragraph that one can always find children to love, and that is true for me. I have received great joy from my nieces and nephews, and now my great-nieces and great-nephew. They're all sweethearts.

Miss Goudge is very introverted and mentions the challenge of social occasions. I am nearly off the scale introverted.

She had a nervous breakdown after her father died, and I have struggled with depression.

She writes of the development of her Christian faith in terms I can relate to.

One quality she possessed, which I do not share, was a certain level of sixth sense, or extra-sensory perception, which ran in her mother's family. But I don't think I would want that.

Meanwhile, I have been having distressing sinus symptoms today. I did have a few stray sneezes last night at my church's New Year's Eve service and this morning. This afternoon, with my kind sister-in-law's kind help, I took down my Christmas tree, and I think the close contact with the tree and the shaking it around that the process entailed triggered an allergy attack. I have been trying various remedies from Flonase nasal spray to decongestant pills to sitting over a steaming bowl of hot water with my head and the bowl covered by a towel. I really want it to be allergies and not a cold because on Monday I have to assist my elderly mother to go to and from a surgical procedure and I don't want to be infectious with a respiratory complaint that would be harder on her than it is on my if she catches it. So I'm praying my symptoms clear up overnight when my immune system has a chance to chill out and get grip while I sleep.

Now, readers, whoever and wherever you may be, a truly happy and blessed new year to you.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


Earlier tonight, I made a glass baking pan shatter. I had used it to cook meat in the oven, then decided to try to make a sauce from the drippings. Because it had cooled off while I googled "make sauce from pan drippings," I put it on a couple burners to warm it up while I made the sauce. Which turned out great, by the way. I poured it over the meat on my plate, and I was well into my meal when I heard a bang behind me and turned around, and there were the shards of the dish. Pieces were on the stove, the nearby counter, and the floor near the stove.

Naturally, my dog came running to see what the fuss was about, so I ordered him away, then put him in his crate. I was worried that he would try to eat the meat-infused glass off the floor. I finished my meal, then cleaned. I swept the floor. I picked up the major glass pieces from the stove—including out of the burner trays—and counter, then wiped every surface with damp paper towels. I threw away an old oven mitt that had glass fragments on it. I threw away the butter from a dish that was standing on the counter, in case any glass got in it, and I poured the sugar from an open sugar bowl down the drain with hot water. I damp-mopped the floor. After it dried, I saw one more piece of glass just out there in the middle of the floor. I don't know how I missed it. I picked it up, but then I felt I had done my best to protect my dog from broken glass, and I let him out of his crate. I also rinsed and wiped his water and food dishes and gave him new water.

I try not to compare my dog to other people's children, because I know that a dog is not a child. But there are similarities in the kind of care and protection you have to give them because they don't know enough to keep themselves safe.

Okay, I'll admit I talk baby-talk to my dog all the time and even call him "baby," as well as "puppy," "goofus," "silly," "pup-boy," and variations on these themes.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

My brain on Christmas cheer

Sometimes I sit down to blog, and I experience my Mary Bennett problem: "Mary wished to say something sensible, but knew not how." Sometimes you could switch in the word "witty" or "profound" for "sensible."

The secular Christmas season is ended, and the liturgical Christmas season has begun. Today is the third day of Christmas, per the song. No one has sent me three French hens. Yesterday I did not receive two turtle doves, and, of course, on Christmas Day, no partridge in a pear tree made an appearance. John Julius Norwich wrote a funny little book about this song.

It's all the thank-you notes from woman receiving the gifts. She starts out charmed and delighted and by the end her lawyer is writing on her behalf. Some years, some local musicians and a reader form an ensemble called Noel that performs throughout Whatcom County in the weeks before Christmas. They wear Renaissance costumes, play beautiful instrumental versions of Christmas songs and carols, and the reader reads poems in between the musical pieces. The reader is a talented lady with a British accent who really gets the most out of the poems, and this one, the Norwich Twelve Days, is always a huge hit, and the audience is roaring with laughter by the end.

This year, Noel did not perform. Every few years, they take a year off, and I suppose one can't blame them. Whenever they do perform, I make it a priority to attend their Lynden concert.

I missed a couple local seasonal events this year, just by forgetfulness. On the first Saturday of December, Lynden always has a lighted parade. Local businesses decorate their vehicles with lights and drive up Front Street in the evening, when it's dark out. My dear friend, who plays violin for Noel when they do perform, lives on Front Street, and she and her husband open their house to any friends who would like to watch the parade from their front porch. It's great, because one doesn't have to stand freezing out on the sidewalk for the duration. One steps out on the porch, with "a cup of what you fancy" in hand, watches until cold, then goes inside to eat some hors d'oeuvres and refill the cup of cheer. It's gezellig.

The Lighted Christmas Parade in a year when my memory functioned better than now

I was going to go, but when it was time to go I simply did not remember. I was in my pajamas and settled down to knit or read or whatever before I recalled the event.

A few weeks later, the friend sent out notice that members of the Lynden Music Festival were going to hold a Christmas performance. I made sure to enquire for the exact time, then, again, completely forgot about it when it was time. So it goes.

Another seasonal moment occurred one morning when I stopped at a store on my way to work to buy some supplies for my office. I loaded the purchases into my car and started the engine. As I backed out, my CD player kicked into action with the Christmas music I had cranked up for highway speed. One moment silence, then the roar of an organ and full choir "YOU MERRY GENTLEMEN LET NOTHING YE DISMAY!" But I was dismayed and in a panic groped at my dashboard desperately trying to end the noise. I ended up pushing the button that stops and starts the engine, killing both the noise and the motor. My new car's controls are still not familiar enough to me to be instinctual. I think I was trying to push a power button for a radio/sound system as in my old car, but in my new car the sound system controls are found either on a touch screen or a couple of toggles on the steering wheel. Fortunately, I was not in a dangerous place, just partway backed out of a parking spot at Cash & Carry. I sheepishly restarted the engine, turned off the music, and drove quietly to the office.