Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gentle Jesus

Two posts down I have the fragment of Handel's Messiah that includes some of my favorite verses, because they deal with the qualities of Jesus that I most like to think about, his gentleness, his tenderness, his kindness. I am aware of my condition as a broken, sinful person in a broken, sinful world, and I'm so thankful that Jesus looks on me with those emotions.

Psalm 23 already gives us the image of our Lord as a shepherd, caring for and protecting us. Isaiah 40:11 says, "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." The Messiah music expresses this in its piercingly sweet melody.

Then, Jesus' own invitation from Matthew 11:28-30, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." What a relief that is from the demands and expectations of the world.

Another comforting remark in the Gospel is in Matthew 12:20, quoting Isaiah 42:3, "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out," which I take as an expression of mercy to weak, faulty people.

And I like Paul's exhortation to Christians in Philippians 4:9: "Let your gentleness be evident to all."

Five Golden Rings

In U.S. popular culture, the Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving and ends the day after Christmas. In the traditional liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, the four weeks prior to Christmas are not the Christmas season, they are Advent, a penitential, preparatory season. Christmas season begins on Christmas and lasts 12 days (yes, those 12 days) until January 6, which is Epiphany, and starts the Epiphany season. So right now, we can still be in the midst of Christmas if we want. In fact, by the old tradition we wouldn't even have brought out our Christmas decorations until Christmas Eve or Day.

I'm not Catholic, but I'm attracted to Catholic traditions. So I searched the web until I found out what other saints and events are celebrated during those 12 days of Christmas. I found a page that told me, and here is some of the knowledge I gained:

1st day: December 25 Christmas
2nd day: December 26 Stephen (when Good King Wenceslas looked out)
3rd day: December 27 John the Evangelist (one of the 12 apostles; wrote the Gospel of John and three epistles)
4th day: December 28 Holy Innocents (the boys 2 and under Herod had killed in Bethlehem)
5th day: December 29 Thomas Becket (Archbishop of Canterbury, killed by knights at the hint of Henry II of England)
6th day: December 30 Our Lady of Bethlehem, Egwin of Worcester
Sunday after Christmas: Holy Family (12/31 if Christmas is on Sunday)
7th day: December 31 Pope Sylvester I
8th day: January 1 Mary Mother of God, Circumcision of Jesus
9th day: January 2 Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzen
10th day: January 3 Most Holy Name of Jesus, Genevieve
11th day: January 4 Elizabeth Ann Seton
12th day: January 5 John Neumann

January 6 is Epiphany, the day Christ was first made manifest to the Gentiles, personified by the Wise Men, or Magi. The first Sunday after Epiphany celebrates the baptism of Jesus. Epiphany lasts until Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.

As I write this, it is still only the 5th day of Christmas, so if anyone is feeling a post-Christmas letdown, turn your sparkly lights back on, put Christmas carols back on the CD player, and enjoy another week of Christmas.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Messiah Fragment

Below is a movie/music-with-pictures of one of my favorite portions of the Messiah. I put it together using Windows Movie Maker. It's based on Isaiah 11:11 and Matthew 11:28-29. I've put the words below.

G.F. Handel
“He Shall Feed His Flock Like a Shepherd”
Air for Alto

He shall feed His flock like a shepherd,
and He shall gather the lambs with his arm, with His arm,
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd,
and he shall gather the lambs with His arm, with his arm,
and carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young,
and gently lead those that are with young.

Come unto Him, all ye that labour,
Come unto Him, ye that are heavy laden,
and He will give you rest.
Come unto Him, all ye that labour,
Come unto Him, ye that are heavy laden,
and He will give you rest.

Take His yoke upon you, and learn of him,
for He is meek and lowly of heart,
and ye shall find rest,
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Take His yoke upon you, and learn of him,
for He is meek and lowly of heart,
and ye shall find rest,
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas endeavors

Just for information, for those who've been wanting to know (I'm sure you know who you are), here's a picture of my Christmas tree:

I'll be heading to bed soon. I was up late last night if you can believe it because I made the "movie" last night of the pictures accompanying "Let All Mortal Flesh" in yesterday's post. I could not find a version I liked on youtube. One by Michael Talbot was close, but in the final verse he left out the references to the "six-winged seraph" and "cherubim with sleepless eyes," and just sang the final four lines twice.

The words are more important to me than the pictures. In previous Advent posts, I linked to youtube videos where the pictures were not hot, once to Mario Lanza's mug all through his rendition of "O Little Town of Bethlehem," and the other to a group of Belgians singing "Joy to the World" apparently in someone's home. I think the "Bethlehem" choice was either to get all the verses or to get the least melodramatic rendition. Sometimes when famous singers record Christmas carols, they think they have to assert their personality by singing the song as it's never been sung before. I, however, like to hear it as it's been sung before. The reason for the Belgians singing "Joy to the World" was because nearly all others left out the verse about "No more let sin and sorrow . . . . far as the curse is found." Maybe words like sin, sorrow, and curse are too much of a downer for pop singers to mention.

Anyway, I couldn't find a video with all the verses of "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence," but eventually I found an mp3 that I liked. I didn't know how to upload just a sound file to blogspot, so I used Windows MovieMaker to match the song to pictures I found here and there on the web. What with browsing for pictures and then arranging the order and timing of them, it was suddenly the middle of the night while I was working on it. I kind of like the final product though, don't you?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2007
Christmas Day
The Christ Candle
John 1:1-5, 14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful
His own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
Spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
From the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
As the darkness clears away.

At His feet the six wingèd seraph,
Cherubim with sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to the presence,
As with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Alleluia, Lord Most High!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The fourth Sunday of Advent

December 23, 2007
The fourth Sunday of Advent
The Angels' Candle
Matthew 1:18-21

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

Mary's Boy Child/Oh, My Lord

Friday, December 21, 2007


It is winter solstice today. Christina Rossetti wrote a lovely poem for midwinter, which has been set to an equally lovely tune. First the poem, then a youtube video of a choir and congregation in Gloucester Cathedral, in England, singing it (though they omit the third verse). I wonder if Church of England services are really as beautfiul as they always seem on TV. Somehow I doubt it.

If you read the poem aloud before listening to the song, the short final line of each stanza has more impact, I think. (Don't you love the lines: "Snow had fallen, snow on snow / snow on snow"? That repetition, so perfect.)

A Christmas Carol
Christina Rossetti

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air;
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,--
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Since my surgery, my dad has been walking my dog. Yesterday, he referred to the dog as "Old Shep," which is not his name. That's because Dad had been remembering a song by that name, and he recited the first verse, like this:

When I was a boy and Old Shep was a pup,
O'er hills and meadows we'd stray.
Just a boy and his dog, we were both full of fun.
We grew up together that way.

Later I googled the first line. It turns out it's "lad" instead of "boy," but otherwise Dad remembered it well. Elvis recorded the song, too, but I figured the one Dad heard in the barn in the 1940s would be the one by Red Foley. Finally, I found a site where you can listen to Red Foley sing "Old Shep"; you have to click on the "Play" button for the song:

Red Foley sings "Old Shep"

Here are the words:

When I was a lad and old Shep was a pup,
O'er hills and meadows we'd stray.
Just a boy and his dog, we were both full of fun.
We grew up together that way.

I remember the time at the old swimming hole
When I would have drowned beyond doubt.
Shep was right there--to the rescue he came.
He jumped in and helped pull me out.

So the years rolled along, and at last he grew old.
His eye sight was fast growing dim.
Then one day the doctor looked at me and said,
"I can't do no more for him, Jim."

With a hand that was trembling, I picked up my gun.
I aimed it at Shep's faithful head.
I just couldn't do it, I wanted to run,
And I wished that they'd shoot me instead.

I went to his side, and I sat on the ground;
He laid his head on my knee.
I stroked the best pal that a man ever found.
I cried so I scarcely could see.

Old Sheppy, he knew he was going to go
For he reached out and licked at my hand.
He looked up at me just as much as to say,
We're parting but you understand.

Now old Shep is gone where the good doggies go,
And no more with old Shep will I roam.
But if dogs have a heaven, there's one thing I know:
Old Shep has a wonderful home.

My dad likes songs that tell a story, which is to say ballads. Reading about Timothy Steele the other day, and how in academic or artistic circles he was considered a radical for writing formal poetry (that is, using a form) instead of free verse reminded me of when I taught poetry to my homeschool students. I taught them about different traditional forms, too, such as sonnets and blank verse. One we learned was the ballad meter, which is alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and trimeter, four lines at a time, with the second and fourth lines rhyming (the first and third may rhyme, too, but not necessarily).

An iambic foot of poetry has two syllables, and the second one is stressed. The words tetrameter and trimeter refer to how many iambic feet per line: four and three. So a ballad meter should go:

da DAH da DAH da DAH da DAH
da DAH da DAH da DAH
da DAH da DAH da DAH da DAH
da DAH da DAH da DAH

"Old Shep" does pretty much fit the ballad meter. Sometimes there are extra syllables in the line, but the emphasis in a ballad is how many stresses per line (four and three) rather than how many syllables. Some extra unstressed syllables are okay. Here's the first stanza with the stresses capitalized and bolded:

when I was a LAD and old SHEP was a PUP
o'er HILLS and MEADows we'd STRAY
just a BOY and his DOG we were BOTH full of FUN
we GREW up toGETHer that WAY

I wonder if Red Foley knew about the ballad meter when he wrote "Old Shep," or if he just knew from having heard ballads while growing up what a ballad should sound like. Notice that the second and fourth lines rhyme, but not the first and third.

In searching online to refresh my memory about the ballad meter, I saw that it is also called the hymn meter, because many Protestant hymns use it too:

that SAVED a WRETCH like ME
i ONCE was LOST but NOW am FOUND
was BLIND but NOW i SEE

I think it's just a form that works so well for the English language that we use it without even analyzing it. Pretty neat.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

Toward the Winter Solstice

I was looking out this morning, contemplating the somewhat dark outdoors. The sun did come out a little bit this afternoon, but in the morning it was dark. At this time of year, when the sky is overcast, and the sun comes up late, it can feel like twilight for much of the day, and night for the remainder.

First I remembered a little conversation I had with my dad once, some time ago. The previous night had been windy, and I said I had heard the wind while I was lying in bed at night and it sounded -- "cozy," supplied my dad. I had been going to say "spooky." I think it's an indicator, either of one's personality or state of mind, how the wind sounds to you at night in the dark.

Anyway, I was trying to think of some meaning to attach to the darkening days. This afternoon, I googled "dark winter poems." Of course, one of the ones to appear is Hardy's "The Darkling Thrush." I love that poem, but I don't totally identify with the protagonist, who sees his century (the Nineteenth) dying, and his world as kind of dried out and lifeless, at least in part because of his loss of faith. I haven't lost my faith, though I do sometimes have bleak moods that can make me empathize with Hardy, so I like the poem because I'm so glad the thrush gives the narrator some glimpse of hope to lighten his darkness.

"The Darkling Thrush" is a poem for two weeks or so from now. What's on my mind today is the approach of winter solstice. I'm looking forward to it because after that I can keep reminding myself that the days are growing longer. I saw a link to a poem by Thomas Campion called "Now Winter Nights Enlarge," which is precisely about the shortening days. His poem is one of those "love is folly" types. He talks about all the fun things to do at this season, light fires and candles, dance, sing, read poetry, and says "Though love and all his pleasures are but toys / They shorten tedious nights." That's a bit too cynical for me.

Then I tried one with a promising title, "Toward the Winter Solstice." The poet, Timothy Steele, was unknown to me. I don't know all that much about living poets. I only discover them by hearing of them somewhere. For instance, I became acquainted with the works of Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon (who is no longer living) by seeing and hearing Donald Hall in person at Calvin's Festival of Faith and Writing some time ago. Anyway, here is the poem:

Toward the Winter Solstice
Timothy Steele

Although the roof is just a story high,
It dizzies me a little to look down.
I lariat-twirl the cord of Christmas lights
And cast it to the weeping birch’s crown;
A dowel into which I’ve screwed a hook
Enables me to reach, lift, drape, and twine
The cord among the boughs so that the bulbs
Will accent the tree’s elegant design.

Friends, passing home from work or shopping, pause
And call up commendations or critiques.
I make adjustments. Though a potpourri
Of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs,
We all are conscious of the time of year;
We all enjoy its colorful displays
And keep some festival that mitigates
The dwindling warmth and compass of the days.

Some say that L.A. doesn’t suit the Yule,
But UPS vans now like magi make
Their present-laden rounds, while fallen leaves
Are gaily resurrected in their wake;
The desert lifts a full moon from the east
And issues a dry Santa Ana breeze,
And valets at chic restaurants will soon
Be tending flocks of cars and SUVs.

And as the neighborhoods sink into dusk
The fan palms scattered all across town stand
More calmly prominent, and this place seems
A vast oasis in the Holy Land.
This house might be a caravansary,
The tree a kind of cordial fountainhead
Of welcome, looped and decked with necklaces
And ceintures of green, yellow, blue, and red.

Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem
Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;
It’s comforting to look up from this roof
And feel that, while all changes, nothing’s lost,
To recollect that in antiquity
The winter solstice fell in Capricorn
And that, in the Orion Nebula,
From swirling gas, new stars are being born.

It could be "my kindly agnostic neighbor's enjoyment of Christmas," unless it's more than that. I'd have to read more of his work to gauge where he's coming from. At any rate, I like the picture it draws of the California neighborhood and ambiance. I never lived in L.A., but I did live in San Jose for more than a dozen years, and I like the mood he creates. And L.A. probably is a lot more like the ancient Holy Land than we realize.

I followed more links to read about Timothy Steele, who writes poetry with form (hurrah) and teaches in Southern California. I'd like to get to know more about him and his writing and see if he is what Anne Shirley might call a kindred spirit.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Gaudete Sunday

According to Catholic tradition, the third Sunday in Lent is Gaudete Sunday. Interestingly, the traditional season of Advent is penitential, like Lent, not like the "Christmas Season" of popular culture. However, Gaudete Sunday--gaudete means rejoice--is a break in the somber mood. To symbolize the penitential nature of Advent, the candles on an Advent wreath are purple, but the third, Gaudete, candle is rose-colored.

I did not know until I read an article about Gaudete Sunday in an online Catholic Encyclopedia that Lent also has a "break" Sunday, called Laetare Sunday. Seemingly, laetare also means rejoice. These two words, gaudete and laetare, deserve further study, but not this morning, as I'm recovering from surgery and have used up my blogging energy for the day.

The third Sunday of Advent

December 16, 2007
The third Sunday of Advent
The Shepherds' Candle

Luke 2:8-12

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Joy to theWorld

Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

Joy to the world! the Saviour reigns;
Let men their songs employ;
While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat the sounding joy,
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found,
Far as the curse is found,
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, wonders, of His love

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ladies' Night

I joined some classmates and our teacher tonight at The Keg, in Bellingham, for a little end-of-quarter celebration. Kind of nice to get to know some of the classmates on a more personal level. We were a table (two tables pushed together) of eight women. The majority of paralegal students are women, though there were two men in the Intro to Paralegal Studies class, and one of them also took the Torts class. But the Real Estate Law class happened to be all women this quarter.

Quite different from my seminary days at Regent College. In the more general classes, taken by people in all different degree programs, it was a fairly even split, but once I funneled down into the classes that were specifically for M.Div. students, the classes were usually mostly men with me and one or two other women.

Some of my past jobs were also in majority-men settings. I taught high school English 1985-86 at San Jose Christian School, in San Jose, CA, and 1986-87 at Central Valley Christian Schools, in Visalia, CA. Back then, those were both small high schools with one teacher for every discipline--math, science, history, etc. In both schools, the two women teachers were me, the English teacher, and another woman, the typing and P.E. teacher. (Meanwhile, the elementary school teachers were nearly all women.)

Then I worked for seven years editing and writing automotive technical materials, and in my department I was the only woman among eight men for many years. For the last several years there, I had one woman co-worker. There were other women in other departments. All the proofreaders and typographers were women.

Later I worked a year for a Herman Miller furniture dealership, where throughout my building the women were a noticeable, though not overpowering, majority. Now I'm back in a woman-dominated field--paralegal, that is; lawyers themselves I suppose are about 50-50.

It would be invidious to make sweeping statements about the differences. As far as working in a male-dominated place, I'll say that my experience in the schools was better than among the automotive writers. The teachers had better manners and genuinely respected women. Some of the automotive guys were the same, about, well, two out of the eight. The others mostly meant to be nice (with one glaring exception), but they just seemed uncomfortable with women. They could not behave naturally while conversing with a woman, but seemed to find it necessary to posture, strike attitudes, and try (not always successfully) to be clever. In retrospect, I feel kind of sorry for them; at the time, I merely found them tiresome.

Having mostly women around at school feels pretty comfortable to me; I hope it feels fine to the two men. I don't notice any problems.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The second Sunday of Advent

December 9, 2007
The second Sunday in Advent
The Bethlehem Candle

Luke 2:1-7
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Micah 5:2
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times."

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Alternative passage and song

Isaiah 11:1-19
On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
a spirit of counsel and of strength,
a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
but he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra’s den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.
On that day, the root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the nations,
the Gentiles shall seek out,
for his dwelling shall be glorious.

Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming)
German and English words below

1. Es ist ein Ros entsprungen,
Aus einer Wurzel zart.
Wie uns die Alten sungen,
Aus Jesse kam die Art
Und hat ein Blümlein bracht,
Mitten im kalten Winter,
Wohl zu der halben Nacht.

2. Das Röslein das ich meine,
Davon Jesaias sagt:
Maria ist's, die Reine,
Die uns das Blümlein bracht.
Aus Gottes ew'gem Rat
Hat sie ein Kind geboren
Wohl zu der halben Nacht.

3. Das Blümelein, so kleine,
Das duftet uns so süß,
Mit seinem hellen Scheine
Vertreibt's die Finsternis.
Wahr' Mensch und wahrer Gott,
Hilft uns aus allen Leiden,
Rettet von Sünd' und Tod.

1. Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming,
From Tender stem hath sprung,
Of Jesse's lineage coming,
As men of old have sung;
It came, a flow'ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When halfspent was the night.

2. Isaiah 'twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind,
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind;
To show God's love aright,
She bore to us a Savior,
When halfspent was the night.

3. O Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispel with glorious splendour
The darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God,
From Sin and death now save us,
And share our every load.

An evening in Fairhaven

Well, tonight (actually last night) I didn't eat a tort, but I did eat a piece of tiramisu. It was good, but I've had better. This one was a little chilly and tasted like maybe it was made a day or two ago and had been keeping in the refrigerator since then. Fortunately for the restaurant, I can't remember its name. I went there with a group of people after hearing the Whatcom Chorale sing at the Ferry Terminal in Fairhaven, a particular neighborhood in Bellingham.

A lot of local church people belong to the chorale. At least four members of my own church are part of it, including my sister-in-law's sister-in-law. There were a couple other familiar faces there, too, in the chorale and in the audience.

A gingerbread-house contest was also on display. It made me crave cookies. But, as I've mentioned, I ended up having tiramisu.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Torts - just desserts?

I took my last test of the fall quarter at Whatcom Community College tonight. Torts. A tort is a civil wrong. There are three kinds of torts: intentional torts, negligence, and strict liability. For a tort to occur, we need four elements:

1. A duty
2. A breach of that duty
3. Causation
4. Damages

I know lots more about torts than that, too. I'm usually not the Hermione Granger type, but I did go look up the answer to one question I hadn't been sure of. I got it wrong. Oh, well. I confused it with something else with a similar name. Torts are a complicated area of law.

Perhaps now I can find an opportunity to study this kind of tort:

Far more to my taste (har).

Monday, December 3, 2007

My First Movie!

I filmed and edited my first movie today! It's 31 seconds long. I did not add any music or sound effects.

Impressive, huh? I discovered yesterday that I have Windows Movie Maker on my computer. Who knew? I think it was Linus Van Pelt, of Peanuts, who said that our brains are like 10-speed bikes; we have lots of gears we never use. The same might be true of our PCs.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Advent weather

Here's a picture of the back yard today.

Snow is beautiful, of course, but it's a severe beauty, like a black and white photo. What colors are there, are subtle. I'm glad that in Lynden we're unlikely to have four or more months in a row with the world reduced to these subued tones. Usually snow melts within a week, and then we have green grass again, and some of the evergreens that look black in this picture will also return to green hues.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The First Sunday of Advent

December 2, 2007
The first Sunday in Advent
The Prophets' Candle

Isaiah 2:1-5
This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come,
the mountain of the LORD’s house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths.”
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
one nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.
O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the Lord!

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel:

The Great Pacific Northwest

A busy week after the Thanksgiving holiday. I had a couple take-home exams from my paralegal courses. Now those are done. I have one more exam next week, plus a few assignments to complete.

Meanwhile. Look at this photo. Do you see a blue heron?

Neither do I. One's there, though. A blue heron flew across our lawn at low altitude yesterday, then went into the creek. I grabbed my camera and crept out to the creek to get a picture. He was in the creek, but as I approached, he went up the opposite bank into this tangle of branches and bushes. Even with the bare eye, I kept not seeing him until he moved, then I'd take a picture. I did it twice, and the other picture resembles the one above. Shows how wonderfully the Creator has camouflaged him, huh?

I took a picture of an evergreen later the same day. Washington is the Evergreen State. To see silhouettes of trees like this was one of the reasons I moved back here.

I spent some college vacations in Tacoma, back in the early 80s, and there the weather was more misty and foggy than here in Lynden. Somehow to see a tree like this loom out of the mist was, well, mystical.

Looking at the sky in that picture, you can see why an artist I met once said that the Pacific Northwest is the perfect place for watercolor painters.