Saturday, January 31, 2009

Twirly dog

Is it dinnertime yet?

Is it dinnertime yet?

And a brief glimpse of the response when the answer is finally "yes."

January's End

Well, it's still winter, but more winter is behind and less is ahead. February tends to be a cold, dark month, but it's only 28 days long.

Will I ever learn to enjoy winter and not spend January and February longing for spring? Probably not. As I say, winter is my fourth favorite season.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Molasses in January

My computer is so o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o slo o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o ow.

It drives me crazy.

Climate change

Warmer, but snowy. :p

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Home from the groomer

Pup got a haircut today. They put a little bandanna on him. I took his picture before taking it off. He doesn't really care about wearing dressy clothes. He's so unworldly. Once I took it off, he did smell the scarf thoroughly before losing interest in it.

What a handsome fellow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today my country honors Martin Luther King, Jr., and I join in honoring him. I think he is probably the greatest American of the 20th Century. I admire his courage, his willingness to die for the cause of justice, his unwillingness to kill or commit violence to achieve his ends, his following of the way of Jesus Christ, his radical living out of the Sermon on the Mount.

It is serendipitous timing indeed that the day after we honor Dr. King, our country will inaugurate President Obama. In 45 years, we've gone from segregation to a black president. I wish that Dr. King were still with us to see it. But he did see it, as Moses saw the promised land from Mount Nebo, and as the heroes of Hebrew Scripture saw and welcomed the promised Messiah from a distance, and as we look toward the coming of God's Kingdom.

May we be as faithful in our Kingdom work as Dr. King was in his. Not many of us will be called to a role of such great leadership; perhaps not many of us are capable of such a role. But whatever work God has called us to, may we do it as wholeheartedly.


These pictures are the "before" pictures for my deck for 2009. All my potted plants are pushed up against the house, so that possibly the relative shelter and the warmth reflected from the southern wall may allow some of them to live through the winter. We have had some severe weather this winter, so some are doubtless dead; some were annuals, so they won't come back; some will recover when the warmer weather comes.

The pond is full of rainwater and leaves.

These hanging baskets held fuchsias, begonias, and lobelia. I think I will have to replant this spring.

Fine morning

Because today is a holiday, I slept in and walked my dog in the daylight instead of the dark. This is a street where I walk. There is frost on the sidewalk and the remnant of a snow pile left by the snowplow. Even though the sun is shining, the air is cold.

Here are frosted leaves on the frosted sidewalk.

As a composition, this picture is unbalanced, blank on one side, crowded on the other. But it shows buds on the tree and how blue and clear the sky is.

When I got home from the walk, here I found my contorted filbert, which also has buds starting. I love that you see the curly branches, and then the curly branch shadows on the wall.

Greeting spring from afar

Although it is only a couple weeks since it snowed, and the temperature still goes down to freezing at night, still there are signs that spring is not here but is on its way.

This magnolia has its fuzzy buds already.

I'm not sure what kind of tree this is. I see it while walking my dog. But see that it has buds on it already.

It also still has some leaves from last year clinging.

This shot is a little blurry, but you can see the buds swelling on this branch.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dry (well, damp) ground

This morning, the stream no longer runs through our yard. It left behind some sand and debris.

No more current wake past the pin oak. Those logs used to be by our fire pit on the other side of the yard; they floated downstream a bit.

Just a little puddle left between our house and the neighbors'.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The waters receded

Friday morning, the waters had receded.

There was still a little current past the pin oak.

Still pretty wet, but good to see the ground again.

The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. And the waters receded continually from the earth. (Genesis 8:2-3a).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

And now, in living color

In case still pictures are not enough, here's a little movie of our little flood (this morning, some minutes before 8:00). I'm trying to think of some pun to make on "Apres moi, le deluge," but I guess that saying has never made enough sense to me for me to be able to make a joke out of it.

The noises you hear are crows. Not the most melodious of birds. Not exactly the stuff of which Keats's odes were made.

The house on the rock stood firm

Hey, no harm, no foul. The waters still never have come up to the house. Here is a picture from this morning. You can see more snow has melted since yesterday.

You can get some idea of the strength and speed of the current from seeing how it breaks around the pin oak tree. The water is not just sitting there, it's flowing westward.

Here you can see how the ground rises toward the neighbor's house, so that it is above the flood plain. Ours is the same, plus we have a retaining wall around our deck.

Here you can see the waters have receded from the retaining wall.

I'm too sleepy to say much more. Interrupted sleep last night.

The rains came down and the floods came up

This is Fishtrap Creek yesterday morning just before I went to work. It's a little blurry because I couldn't use the flash (that just lit up the deck).

I don't have a more recent picture because it was fully dark by the time I got home. However, it continued to rain all day, and more snow melted and the creek continued to rise.

I'm awake now because in a moment of waking I realized I could hear that water flowing by. I looked out my window in the dark, but did not open the door because I did not want to wake up my folks. But then I heard someone upstairs and went up, and it was my dad putting on his coat. He went out on the upper deck with a flashlight to see what he could see.

I told him I read on the internet that the rivers were supposed to crest by 4:00 a.m. It was 3:45 as we were talking. He couldn't tell for sure, but he thought the water might have gone down a bit. He said it had stopped raining. I didn't go out on the deck with him because I had bare feet.

We said what a good thing he had that retaining wall put in all those years ago. Last night as we all went to bed, his concern was that water might seep into the ground under the house. As far as we know, that has not happened.

I said I had seen on the internet that you can get sandbags, but you have to bring your own truck to get them and your own shovel to fill them. Plus I said it was probably too late for that. He thought the retaining wall made us not need sandbags. Even before the retaining wall, the water never came up to the house. I wonder if this is the highest the creek has been. Dad said last night it was just touching the wall.

Fishtrap Creek doesn't always flood when the Nooksack River does. The creek is not fed by mountain snows. However, if a lot of snow falls around here and then is followed by rain that melts the snow, then the creek rises and may overflow its banks. We had a lot of snow over the holidays, and for the past day or so have had a lot of rain.

I had to take an alternate route home last night from work. I usually take the Hannegan, but even when I was on my way to work in the morning, there was water flowing over the road at the base of the big hill just north of the Sunset-Hannegan intersection. Public workers were already closing the road to northbound traffic, and I thought they would probably shortly have to close it southbound as well.

By the time I left work, I saw on the Whatcom County road closures page that the Hannegan was also closed from the Lynden city limits to Polinder Road. That would mean the Nooksack had overflowed. I heard from one source that Meridian in Bellingham was closed at the I-5 interchange but from another source that it was not. I decided to avoid the Guide and got on I-5 at Sunset and took it to the Birch Bay Lynden Road and took that into Lynden. That was a bit out of my way, but not under water. There are just so many places you can cross the Nooksack between Bellingham and Lynden. There were a couple slowdowns on the freeway where people had apparently slid off the road and cop cars were there with their lights flashing. That made everyone brake. But no harm done, I got home safely.

I guess I should try to get a little more sleep before I have to get up for work. I don't know if I will be able to sleep or not.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happiness is . . . ?

Well, I can't say I watch Oprah a lot, but she's having a show about happiness, a suitable subject for evaluation on New Year's. You can take a test to score how happy you are. I got the moderate score of 22. The perfect score is 35.

Bobby McFerrin's song is somewhat reminiscent of a passage from the Sermon on the Mount:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34)

But McFerrin's song does not say HOW to stop worrying and be happy, just TO do it. Jesus says the how is: Seek first God's kingdom and his righteousness. Not that Jesus uses the word "happy." Earlier in the sermon, he uses the word "blessed," which is often translated "happy" (Greek: makarios), but he gives some pretty stiff definitions of happiness/blessedness:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
(Matthew 5:3-12)

Not really a hard sell, but it doeesn't sound too, too bad (mercy, purity, peacemaking) until you get to the persecution part. Is this really what you want to sign up for? Jesus advises you to think about that, too:

And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
(Luke 14:27-35)

Basically, Jesus seems to say that if the price seems too steep to you, don't buy what he's selling. Don't sign on if you're not going to follow through. Reminds me of the traditional Jewish saying that a rabbi should turn away someone who wants to convert three times, and only accept him or her if the person comes back a fourth time. I wonder if Christians, when they evangelize, should spend some time saying that to really live out your faith is not that easy, takes effort and commitment, may in fact feel like a lot work sometimes. G.K. Chesterton said that Christianity has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and not tried.

Well, maybe I should consider re-reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. It's a close reading and explication of the Sermon on the Mount, and very challenging.

In addition to considering the cost of discipleship, one must consider the reward, which is Jesus himself. As Question and Answer 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism say:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own,
but belong—
body and soul,
in life and in death—
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.

New Year's Brunch

My dad and mom, sister-in-law, nephew, and I went to Semi-Ah-Moo for brunch today. I meant to take my camera, but I forgot, so I can only link to the page showing the place where we ate. They had a buffet, and we sat by the window with a nice view of the water. It was a bit misty out, but the water is always beautiful. The food was good, and the company even better.

Happy New Year!

My folks and I celebrated quietly at home. We had some snacks to help us stay awake.

And some bubbly to toast the New Year.

My dad browsed the internet on his computer.

My mom did crossword puzzles.

I just hung out and operated the TV remote control.

My dog didn't even try to stay awake. After 9:00 p.m., he kept disappearing to go sleep somewhere else.

The rest of us made it to midnight and wished each other a Happy New Year.