Wednesday, July 30, 2008



French lavender bloom . . .

English lavender bloom . . .

Peppermint bloom (I haven't seen that before) . . .

Begonia and lobelia blooms . . .

Then and Now

Celebration rose last April . . .

Celebration rose now . . .

Impatiens and creeping jenny last April . . .

Impatiens and creeping jenny now . . .

Before and After

Fuchsias last April . . .

Fuchsias now . . .

Spreading petunias last April . . .

Spreading petunias now . . .

Monday, July 28, 2008

Charging batteries and dusty nightstands

Well, my camera batteries are dead and I'm recharging them, so no pictures of how the flowers have grown. This weekend I bought replacement plants for the few that didn't thrive (i.e. died) and I also cut back some that had grown too much.

In other news, I recently re-read a few Jane Austen novels, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility. Now I'm re-reading a novel (The Last September) by Elizabeth Bowen, a British (Irish--but the kind of Irish who belonged to the English upper class) writer of about the same vintage as Virginia Wolf. In fact I think they were friends. Bowen's novels are less maddening to read, however. I can't stand writers who think that the better you write the less your readers understand. Yes I'm looking at you, Mr. Faulkner, and you, Ms. Wolf. As for Mr. Joyce, I don't even look.

Some bloggers, when they write about what they're reading, call it "What's on the nightstand." But I don't keep books on my nightstand, or if I do they soon become dusty. I don't read in bed anymore. It's not as comfortable as reading on the couch. If I want to read, I sit on the couch. If I want to sleep, I go to bed. I think this works because I live alone (except my dog, of course). If I feel like reading, I am never disturbed by the TV or stereo because all these things are my control. (Bwa ha ha.) I don't have to retreat to my bedroom for solitude.

Not that I'm really alone, because my dog is with me. I could get all pious about another reason I'm never alone, but I prefer to trot out the old joke: What do you get when you cross a dyslexic with an atheist? Someone who doesn't believe in dog. I'm eulexic and theist.

Well, time not to read but to sleep. Perchance to dream. Time to knit the ravelled sleeve of care. Great nature's second course? Is that right? Anyway, I'm for Bedfordshire.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Other movie news

Some time ago, I predicted that in May I would see two movies, Prince Caspian and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I have seen Prince Caspian, twice in fact. I really, really liked it. I don't know why. I guess it was just visually very, very attractive.

And I've gone with my sister-in-law and nephew to two less block-bustery movies. A while back we saw Then She Found Me, based on the book by Elinor Lipman. It retained some of the book storyline, that of a woman whose biological mother finds her, and added a second storyline, of the woman wanting to have a child of her own. It was more a mixture of comedy and sadness than the book was. It was good. And it had Colin Firth in it.

Then, this weekend, we went to see Mongol [warning: loud music at link]. We saw a preview for it before Then She Found Me and were intrigued. It's the story of the early life and rise to power of Genghis Khan. It had some beautiful cinematography, as well as quite a lot of violence, complete with CG blood splatters. Ew. But I still liked it. Supposedly, it's the first of a trilogy. I wonder how long until the next two come out.

So I still haven't seen Indiana Jones. It's not that I have a disinclination, I just haven't gotten around to it. I wonder if it's still in town. Maybe I'll have to buy the DVD. I just looked online at some Bellingham theaters, and it's still at Sunset. We'll see.

Fortnightly Review

Now I've been working full time for just over two weeks. I think I'm getting used to the schedule. At first I was feeling too tired in the evenings to blog, or do housework or laundry. I'm still too tired to do housework and laundry. :-)

It's a much better routine than when I was working part-time and going to classes. Now I drive back and forth to Bellingham only once, round trip, instead of twice. Saves personal energy and saves gas, too. Now I only have to fill my gas tank once a week.

My school schedule threw off my mealtimes, too. Theoretically, I worked 8:30-1:30, came home, ate a little something and fed and walked the dog, maybe did a little school work, then drove back to WCC in time for classes that started at 5:30. In reality, I usually worked till 2:00 or 3:00 or even longer. Then my time at home was crunched. Plus, because I waited from breakfast until mid-afternoon to eat, I was starving when I got home. It was an odd time to eat, too. Was it lunch or dinner? And then try to get the dog care done before hurrying out the door, usually late, for class. I'd get home again in the evening, tired and frazzled.

Now, I take a sack lunch with me and eat it at about noon, which is my normal time for lunch. I might be a little hungry when I get home in the evening, but not outrageously so. And once I'm home, I don't have to go anywhere, unless for social reasons, like visiting my sister-in-law on Friday evening. I can feed and walk the dog, have some dinner, then sit down and read or whatever.

I do find I need to go to bed on time to get up on time. I get up early, because in the morning I also have to feed and walk the dog. Hey, what is this? How much trouble is this canine? Not more than he's worth, that's for sure. And I get up early because I'm a slow waker-upper. I can't just jump out of bed and race around quickly getting ready. I have to roll out of bed and creep around slowly, and even spend some time sitting on the couch holding the dog and relaxing, or even dozing a little.

This is a nice time of year, too, although the afternoons might get a little too hot, and the sun might be more glaring than Western Washingtonians are used to. But the days are still so long. It's great to have light all evening long. Even when I go to bed, it's not even completely dark yet. This time of year helps atone for January and February.

So things are pretty good about now. And another few weeks and I'm going to have some family visitors--out-of-state siblings and their kids. You can't beat that with a stick, as my dad would say.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fourth film recommendation

On the Fourth of July, my sister-in-law, nephew, and I watched the musical 1776.

I saw 1776 for the first time on TV years ago. It must have been in the 1970s, because I graduated from high school in1979, and it was before that. In fact, it was when my second brother was still home, so it must have been before 1977, and if it was when we still lived in Phoenix, Arizona, which it may well have been, it was 1976 or earlier. Maybe they showed it on TV close to the Bicentennial.

Anyway, I loved it, and I always cherished the memory of John Adams as portrayed in this musical. Since then, I have read three books about him, one a novel, Those Who Love, by Irving Stone, historical fiction, yes, but I learned a lot in my youth from historical fiction; another a book about John Adams' whole family, called Descent from Glory: Four Generations of the John Adams Family, by Paul C. Nagel; and most recently David McCullough's biography, John Adams.

I admire Adams so much more than Jefferson, though I supposed one need not place them in competition. The thing was that Adams was not only brilliant, he also had sterling personal integrity, while Jefferson thought and wrote great thoughts but was, as a history prof of mine at Calvin put it, "flabby" in terms of living the kind of life he should.

Adams was a devoted husband and a caring, if somewhat obsessive, father, and he worked hard and lived honestly. Jefferson took a slave concubine, had children with her, accumulated debt he couldn't pay, and talked about the evils of slavery, but never freed his slaves. After he died, his own children, born to his slave-mistress (who had no right of refusal of his relationship with her), were auctioned off to pay debts for things he had bought for himself. How anyone could allow his own children to live as slaves and permit a situation where they were sold to who know who to pay for his own selfish pleasures is just beyond my comprehension. I may be judgemental, but in my mind that despicable treatment of his own family members outweighs all the noble sentiments Thomas Jefferson penned.

But anyway, I admire John Adams, and I enjoy his portrayal in 1776. It's a long movie, especially the restored director's cut--166 minutes, which is a minute over two and three quarters of an hour--but it's well worth the time. Funny, clever, not idealizing the Founding Fathers but not debunking them or destroying their characters either. It's a good musical, and a good movie.

Backed up blog

These are pictures from the days I came back from California, which was two weekends ago. When I got back home, I went straight into a busy work week, with also a sermon to prepare, and then I guess I just forgot.

So, the day that I left California, just my sister and I were home--the menfolk had gone fishing--and there was no one to take our picture, so we took each other's. This is my sister's family room. The painting in the background was painted by our grandma. Here I am:

Here's my sister:

On my way down to California, I saw a coffee stand called Dutch Bros. just a little north of Ashland, Oregon. It also had a camouflaged van parked by it that said "Dutch Army." That made me laugh. I thought it was a one of kind phenomenon, but on the way back, I came to realize it's a chain. I liked the sign on this one, "Yeah, we're open." That's how a Dutch-American might talk:

I stopped at a vista point on I-5, and sure enough there it was, a vista. Mt Shasta:

Saturday, July 5, 2008


At my website, I've just uploaded mp3 files of the last two sermons I've preached. One is from just this past Sunday, June 29. The other is from this past Thanksgiving.