Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Maybe Spring is springing

I saw a robin this afternoon and, as we all know, the robin is the harbinger of spring. Do we all know that? I remember it from vocabulary and/or spelling in high school. The word was harbinger, meaning someone or something that arrives ahead of someone or something else. The sentence in which the word was used was, "The robin is the harbinger of spring." And I don't think I've ever heard harbinger used for anything else--but I do think I've heard robins called "the harbingers of spring" any number of times.

Merriam-Webster says it's descended from an Anglo-French word, herberge, meaning camp or lodging, and that it used to mean someone who went ahead to prepare lodgings. It also gives a meaning I didn't know, that is of initiating a change rather than foretelling it. And the third meaning is the one I learned.

According to Wikipedia, harbinger occurs more than I knew.

Anyway, I saw a robin today.

I can't help but add that when I went to Wikipedia to get a picture of a robin, I saw that the Latin name of the American Robin is turdus migratorius. I thought that must be a joke by someone who doesn't like robins, but apparently turdus is Latin for thrush. Naturally, I hastened back to Merriam-Webster for the English homonym, but it derives from Middle English and possibly Middle Dutch. I am Dutch by descent and English by language, and not Latin in any way, so this name makes me snicker.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Is Spring Springing?

It can't be.

We've been having day after day of beautiful, mild weather. It feels like spring. But it can't be. It's too early. The weather is leading us on. Finally, we'll believe it and say, Okay, good, it's spring! Then the east wind will blow and rain will fly and maybe even snow will fall. I don't want to be the victim of that cruel joke, so I keep not quite believing in the sunshine and the warming temperatures.

My post title comes from a poem my Dad loves:

Spring has sprung.
The grass has riz.
I wonder where
The birdies is.

I don't think Spring really has sprung yet.

Dog Food

I saw an ad for dog food on the back of a magazine recently. I forget the brand name, but it could have been "dog food for people with too much money." One of its selling points? It's "gluten free." In case your dog is allergic to wheat. And, although it had meat, it had "no animal byproducts." That's a relief because we all know how much dogs hate to eat gross stuff!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Looking forward to May

I have hardly been to any movies in the past few years (just Harry Potter and Narnia), but two are coming up that I'll want to see. First is the second Narnia movie, Prince Caspian. Its first television ad was a 30-second spot aired during the Superbowl.

Now a full-length (two and a half minute) trailer is out, with much of the same imagery.

That movie comes out May 16, and I'm definitely interested.

Now, when I first heard they were making another Indiana Jones movie, I thought, Oh, good grief, how long do they think they can milk that? How old is Harrison Ford by now? What will it be -- Indiana Jones and the Chapel of the Health Care Center?

But the trailer has won me over. It's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and it comes out May 22.

I loved Raiders of the Lost Ark, but I really didn't care for the other two Indiana Jones movies, so I hope this one won't disappoint. I'm glad they have Karen Allen back (the love interest from the first movie). The imdb site doesn't list John Rhys-Davies (Sallah), who was a significant character in two of the movies. It would have been nice to have him back. Oh, well.

So I guess I'll go to the movies in May, if no sooner. The 16th is a Friday, and the 22nd a Thursday, but there's no reason I have to go on opening night of these films. I'm sure there will be long lines for both.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Patriarchy: It's a good thing

If you have the right man for the job.My dad turns 79 this weekend. He has been a son, and is a brother, husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. And great guy. Happy Birthday, Dad!

The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage
Psalm 16:6

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him,
and his righteousness unto children's children;
To such as keep his covenant,
and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
Psalm 103:17-18

The righteous man leads a blameless life;
blessed are his children after him.
Proverbs 20:7

Thursday, February 14, 2008

In honor of Valentine's Day

Storybook Love, from The Princess Bride

At first I wanted to put in the wedding scene, with the Impressive Clergyman preaching about "mawwiage, that dweam within a dweam," and "wuv, twoo wuv," but those parts are actually very short and intercut with the storming the castle scenes (nevertheless, here's a link), so I went with this.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

It's a gift to be simple

Here is a litte picture movie of the Shaker hymn, "The Gift to be Simple."

It's a gift to be simple; it's a gift to be kind.
It's a gift to smile and to share a happy mind.
It's a gift from the Father when we go on our way
With a joyful song at the start of the day.

But the gift to be simple and the gift to be kind
Are the gifts which only a very few will find.
Yet these gifts from the Father can be found every day
If we look to him and his will we obey.

Love! Love! It's a gift to be kind.
It's a gift when we smile, when we share a happy mind.
Love! Love! We go on our way
With a joyful song at the start of the day.

It's a gift to be simple; it's a gift to be kind.
(Love! Love! It's a gift to be kind)
It's a gift when we smile, when we share a happy mind.
It's a gift from the Father when we go on our way
(Love! Love! We go on our way)
With a joyful song at the start of the day.

Love! Love! It's a gift to be kind.
It's a gift when we smile, when we share a happy mind.
Love! Love! We go on our way
With a joyful song at the close of the day.

(Sung by the Calvin College Alumni Choir, 1995)

How Green Was My Back Yard

Today, and to a lesser extent yesterday, we returned to more typical Western Washington winter weather. Gentle rain in the foreground, mist in the mid-distance, and no far prospects at all, just disappearance into gray. I like it. But what was really great was the mild temperature. Intead of low 30s with 25 mph winds, it has been low to mid 40s with very little wind.

It stopped raining this afternoon. This morning, every branch and twig had a water drop, like a glass bead, on it. Now, though it's still damp out, the glassy drops are fewer. If you look closely at the evergreen branches below, you can see water in them.

The following picture shows how even the trunks and branches of trees are green here because of the moist air. It also shows Fishtrap Creek high and muddy, with a good current, as it is in the winter.

Below is my most successful photo of the day, in my own opinion. The dark, damp, rough bark with the thick green moss.

I think it's so pretty here. Everywhere has its beauty. The Santa Clara Valley, in California, where I used to live, was beautiful. But I particularly like the damp, misty, green kind of beauty here in the Pacific Northwest.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


I was looking at Steven Graydanus's year in review of movies, and he had one category, "Worth Noting." At first I thought it said "Worth Nothing," and I was surpised by some of the titles listed. I misread words and phrases as different but similar words fairly frequently if I'm not careful. I did not do that when I was younger; this is a middle-aged phenomenon. The only other specific example I can think of was quite a while back when I had a Land's End catalog that had sheets and pillowcases on the cover. I read the slogan as "Beige Dreams," which made some sense, given some tan colors in the picture. But later when I picked the catalog up to look at it, I saw it said, "Dream Big."

Come to think of it, I haven't gotten a Land's End catalog for a little while now. I think it's been too long since I bought anything. If I ever make one purchase, I start getting several catalogs a week. I don't mind. Gives me something to peruse in the bathroom.

My sister likes to look at catalogs and fold the page over on products she likes. That doesn't mean she'll order them, or even ever open the catalog again. She just does it.

My dad is an L.L. Bean guy.

What are your catalog habits?

Are you a misreader?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Ash Wednesday

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is a penitential season, and Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance. From a sales website, I picked up three verses of a suitable hymn, the Psalter classic, "How Blest Is He Whose Trespass."

There are two more verses. The full text is here. The Psalter of any church is a songbook in which the songs are versions of the Psalms, in the Bible. This song is based on Psalm 32. The Catholic lectionary readings for Ash Wednesday are here. T.S. Eliot's poem "Ash Wednesday" is here.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A Late Saint

Methought I Saw My Late Espoused Saint
John Milton (1608-1674)

Methought I saw my late espoused Saint
Brought to me like Alcestus from the grave,
Who Jove's great Son to her glad Husband gave,
Rescu'd from death by force though pale and faint.
Mine as whom washt from spot of child-bed taint
Purification in the old Law did save,
And such as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in Heav'n without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
Her face was veil'd, yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness in her person shin'd
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But O as to embrace me she enclin'd
I wak'd, she fled, and day brought back my night.

John Milton, a widower, had gone blind in 1654. In 1656, he married a second time, to Katherine Woodcock, who died in 1658, probably from complications related to giving birth four months before her death. So Milton never saw Katherine's face, though he loved her. In 1673, he wrote this sonnet. In searching for it, I thought it was "I dreamed I saw my late espoused saint," but it is "Methought I saw." But the last line does indicate it was in a dream that he saw her. In the dream he recognizes her and sees all her good qualities shining from her, but he still cannot see her face; that is not how he'd know her. He sees her as purified and in the white robe of those who worship God in heaven (Rev. 7:9-17) . He also states his belief that he trusts to see her that way some day in heaven. Meanwhile, they are separated. He longs to embrace her, but wakes up and she's gone. Day brings back his night--his night of loss and mourning, and also the darkness of his physical blindness. It's a beautiful poem, though poignantly sad (yet not despairing--we do not grieve as those who have no hope).

I looked for it today because today is my late brother's birthday. He would have been 54.

Dan Kok, 1954-2006

God be with you till we meet again--till we meet at Jesus' feet.