Thursday, September 30, 2010

A chill in the air

Yesterday and today we have had heavy fog in the morning that suddenly dissipates in the early afternoon, after which the sun shines beautifully. Today felt autumnal to me. More trees are getting color, the sun was almost down by the time I got home from work, and the air felt chilly -- autumnally chilly -- for my evening walk with the dog.

So it goes. Summer and winter and springtime and harvest, sun, moon, and stars in their courses above join with all nature in manifold witness to his great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What a character

I was browsing through the Kindle store and accidentally ended up in the book category "Biographies and Memoirs." Among the actual biographies and memoirs, I was surprised to come across Glinda of Oz, by L. Frank Baum. Later I saw Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte. Good books, wrong cyber-shelf.

Back when I taught home-schooled students online, my local paper did an article about my job, and the reporter quoted me as saying that Jane Eyre was one of my favorite novelists.

Let's just get this straight. Jane Eyre, italicized, is a novel. Jane Eyre, not italicized, is a character in the novel Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte is the novelist who wrote Jane Eyre about Jane Eyre. Jane Eyre is fiction; Jane Eyre is a fictional character.

Ditto Glinda of Oz, Glinda of Oz, and L. Frank Baum.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Insert topic here

Oh,  no. Another night where by the time I think to blog, the only topic on my brain is how tired I am. So, what I would ask my readers to do is think of something funny, clever, witty, and/or profound, and then imagine that you read it here. Better yet, write it in the comments.

And here's a picture.

Actually, looking at a picture of the sky does remind me of that topic that never fails to be of interest: the weather. The last couple days it looks like fall out, cloudy, windy, rainy, but then when you actually step outside the temperature is extremely mild, like summer.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lighter Fare

I finished the Bonhoeffer book, and it was good. Now I'm in the mood for something light and relaxing, so my second Kindle purchase was a Georgette Heyer book, The Reluctant Widow.

Let there be light

This afternoon, I went on a light bulb changing spree. I had a total of five burned out bulbs around the house, and I replaced them all. Fall equinox has come and gone, the days are getting shorter, and I need more light indoors.

Early autumn pleasures

I accidentally went two days without posting. It's because I've been so involved in reading this book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I'm up to the part where he's just been transferred to the second-to-last prison he was in before his death in the final days of WWII. What a tragedy that such a brilliant theologian, who also was such a devout Christian with so much integrity to his faith, died so young at the hands of the Nazis. But his suffering and death are a witness, as he had hoped. The word martyr actually means witness in Greek. A willingness to die for a faith or principle bears witness to it.

Yesterday, I managed to combine reading this book with another favorite activity (if you can call it activity): sitting out on my deck. We had a sunny, pleasant fall day.

I sat out reading my book on my Kindle. Here's a picture of the Kindle when you send it to sleep--a random picture comes up:

And here it is with the book displayed. I have set it to a slightly larger type face than the default.

Here is the view to my right hand, where I have my coffee, glass of water, and Kindle all sitting on the hose caddy next to my chair.

Notice the dog in the background. He's standing by the door, which is his way of saying, "Why are we out here on hard surfaces, when we could be indoors on cushy ones?" Here he is yawning with ennui.

I enjoy what time I can on the deck now, as I know the days of that pleasure are numbered for this season. It is raining more frequently (this very morning, in fact), and it is usually sometime in October that I concede it has become too cold to sit outside, and I put the lawn chairs away, cut back the plants, and place all the pots and containers near the wall of the house, in hopes that they will stay a little more warm and sheltered there and possibly make it through the winter. Last year was a mild winter, and many plants did survive. When we have had more severe winters, then fewer do and I have to replace more of them in the spring. And, of course, some are annuals.

So yesterday afternoon it was a gift to be able to sit outside in the pleasant sunshine.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

More Bonhoeffer

To them [the "German Christians" who accepted Reich rulership of the church], all that business about doctrine was folderol that didn’t matter to the man in the street. Bonhoeffer’s attitude was that it must be made real to the man in the street, and that was where the church was failing.

“A truly evangelical sermon must be like offering a child a fine red apple or offering a thirsty man a cool glass of water and then saying: Do you want it?”

"Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic. . . . Do not defend God’s Word, but testify to it. . . ."

Thursday, September 23, 2010


In the biography I am reading of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I have highlighted these thoughts so far:

"[T]here is always only one really significant hour—the present"

“The religion of Christ,” he said, “is not a tidbit after one’s bread; on the contrary, it is the bread or it is nothing."

“Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued.”

[H]e believed communicating what he knew theologically—whether to indifferent businessmen, teenagers, or younger children—was as important as the theology itself.

"God is free not from human beings but for them. Christ is the word of God’s freedom."

And the following, he reported to a friend, he said to a little boy who sobbed out his heart-break because his dog ("Herr Wolf") had died and then asked Bonhoeffer if he would see his dog again in heaven:

“Look, God created human beings and also animals, and I’m sure he also loves animals. And I believe that with God it is such that all who loved each other on earth—genuinely loved each other— will remain together with God, for to love is part of God. Just how that happens, though, we admittedly don’t know.”


The remarks about my Kindle screen not glowing are not complaints. I'm sure that it's because the screen doesn't glow that the Kindle doesn't cause eye fatigue the way a computer screen does.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Well said

I think this is a good article:

Crusade Against the Pope: An Inquisition in Reverse

I'm unfamiliar with the author (apparently he's British, as the Pope just visited the UK last week) and the publication, but I agree that anti-Catholicism and anti-religiousness are bigoted and intolerant attitudes.

Too tired to justify my views further.

No glow

About my Kindle again. The screen does not glow, which means you need a light to read it by. That would be why one cover comes with a light. I hadn't really thought about it. A computer screen you can read in a dark room. In fact it lights the room up. When I wake up in the middle of the night and think that I might as well check my e-mail and Facebook accounts, the light that springs from the screen when I jiggle the mouse makes me wince. (I have sensitive eyes. I am a delicate flower.) Last night, I wondered if I could take my Kindle to bed and read, even though my headboard light has a burned-out bulb. But when I turned off the light, no glow from the Kindle screen. So I guess I should replace that light bulb. Meanwhile, Amazon does seem to sell a separate light for the Kindle as well. But I'm not in a big hurry for it. I'm not one to read in bed a lot anyway. I'm more comfortable on the couch and will read there until I get so sleepy that I must stagger off to bed. In fact, I think I'll go do that now.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Yesterday my Kindle arrived. I charged it up and starting getting acquainted with it. You can use it while it's charging, so I didn't have to wait hours before using it. I had also bought a cover, which arrived several days before the Kindle. The Kindle has a user's manual installed, plus two dictionaries: the Oxford Dictionary of English and the New Oxford American Dictionary.

I bought a book and it downloaded. It is Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, by Eric Metaxas. My dad read that for the book club he and my mom go to. He kept talking about what a good book it was, and I was going to borrow it when he finished, but next thing I knew he loaned it to a friend of his who happened to drop in. So I bought it on Kindle.

I read the first few pages of it last night, but really got into it during my lunch hour today. I'm still in Bonhoeffer's childhood and youth. He had two or three older brothers in World War I. So far, one has died. I think maybe another one did too, but I'm not that far yet.

I'm interested to see how he moved from what seemed like pacifistic views prior to World War II to being involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler during the war. I feel that I've moved from a tendency to pacifism, but that I can't justify my change in terms of Christian growth. I was going to say I can't explain the change, but I sort of can. The Readers Digest version of the reason is: 9/11. But are my increase in patriotism and decrease in pacifism in opposition to my Christianity? Possibly, yet there they are. So I'm interested to try to understand how Bonhoeffer worked through some similar issues.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thank you for sharing

I was driving home from work this evening, and I had the radio on when a lady in a commercial said:

"I've been in cat rescue for x number of years, and Brand X cat litter handles urine and feces odors."

"Urine and feces?" I exclaimed. "Tell me more!"

Sure enough, the announcer came on and reiterated, "Brand X takes care of urine and feces odors!"

It's so touching when after a long and tiring workday, you hear just the right words to lift your mind and spirit.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Poetry book recommendations

These are two poetry book recommendations for my sister and anyone else. First, The Classic Hundred Poems has good, well-known poems, with good commentary.

 Second, Bartlett's Poems for Occasions. If you are in a particular mood or thinking about a particular theme, or even a holiday, you can find some related poetry by paging through the table of contents, and it's pretty much all classic, good poetry.

Just because

And, just because they keep being so beautiful, here are the hanging pots with begonias and bacopa.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fuchsia blooms

Last spring when I planted my fuchsias, I mis-remembered how many I had bought for the four hanging pots. I thought I had 16, but I really had 12. I was on the third pot--planting four to a pot--when I realized my mistake. So the fourth pot has different-colored fuchsias from the other three.

These are blooms from the different pot:

These are the blooms of the pots that are alike:

The fuchsias took a long time to bloom this year, I guess because we had such a cool, rainy June. They grew as plants but didn't bloom until the beginning of August.

So I'm trying to enjoy them as much as I can in the limited time we'll have together. ("To love that well which thou must leave ere long," I guess.)

The beginning of fall

There has been a feeling of fall in the air since September started. Today I took photos of the first fall color in our yard.

At approximately the middle of each photo are yellow leaves, the visible sign of autumn.

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves or few or none ...

I'm trying to quote from memory the opening lines of a sonnet by Shakespeare. Now, I'll google it and have the full text in no time.

Here it is:

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

The poet here speaks of himself, really, more than the season; he is in the autumn of his life, but autumn is that time of year when yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang upon those boughs which shake against the cold, bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
This autumn is not as advanced. There are more than a few leaves hanging on the boughs, and the choirs are not yet bare and ruined. The sweet birds still sing. But yellow leaves are here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Weird weather

This evening when I got home from work, it was exceptionally warm outside. Not just not cold, but warm. And the wind was blowing, and it was cloudy. Sort of strange-feeling weather. Made me thinka storm must be coming. Later in the evening, at 9:30, it was cooler and raining.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It's a mystery

I've been reading The Scarpetta Factor, by Patricia Cornwall.

It was an impulse purchase in the grocery store the other day. I think the mysteries featuring Kay Scarpetta are ones my niece the nurse likes because Scarpetta is a medical examiner -- that is, one who performs autopsies to figure out why a dead person died. In this novel, Scarpetta does an autopsy in the early pages of the book, but not since then. In her defense, I am almost done with the book and I don't think 24 hours have passed in plot time. It feels a bit slow to me.

I'm only so-so interested. Maybe I should have started with the first Scarpetta book and gotten to know the characters from day one. This book has lots of looking back at past events that are the reason the characters are the way they are now. On the other hand, if all the past events described in this book are plots of earlier books, that would make this book quite tedious to someone who had read all those stories already.

Anyway, nothing against the book or anything, but I don't think I'll invest the energy to go back and read the earlier novels. In the words of Freddie Arbuthnot, a supporting character in mystery novels I like better (the Lord Peter Wimsey novels by Dorothy Sayers), "This show's a bit lacking in pep, what?"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Today in downtown Bellingham I saw two young men, early 20's probably, both wearing backwards baseball caps. I thought, Dude, what are you guys? Beaver Cleaver? Dennis the Menace? If you're old enough to drive, you're too old to look adorable in backwards baseball caps.

Later I modified it to, If you're too old for training wheels on your bike, you're too old for a backwards baseball cap.

I understand guys' urge to wear a hat. The brim shades your eyes (but not if it's a backwards baseball cap) and the hat covers your possibly unattractive hair. I knew a guy in seminary who seriously said he wore a baseball cap to cover up that his hair was dirty. But shade your eyes and cover your hair with a fedora or something classy. Baseball caps just don't improve a guy's looks.

So then I started wishing I lived in a time where adults were more grownup. Men didn't dress like boys. Except, on the other side, I don't want to return to the time of girdles, stockings held up by garters, heeled pumps for almost every occasion, and hair curlers made of metal that poked your scalp. On the other hand, comfortable pretty clothes with classy hats would be cool. Can you wear a veiled pillbox hat with slacks?

Anyway, if more men looked like Indiana Jones instead of Theodore Cleaver, I wouldn't complain.

The Beave: No.

Indie: Yes.

Oh, yes.

Although to be perfectly honest, Indie needs to shave. But in the hat department, he's #1.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I have to apologize for yesterday's post. Nothing is more boring than a late-night post that says, "Boy am I tired." But I was.

I was following at least one piece of advice from Pioneer Woman's post, "Ten Important Things I've Learned About Blogging." Number 2 was "Blog Often." Whether long or short, blog often. So I decided to try to blog every day, even if not long. Last night, I was feeling ready for bed, just dead tired, but I hadn't blogged, and the only topic on my brain was how tired I was.

I seem to blog a lot about the weather. It was misty this morning and became sunny in the late afternoon. It was another beautiful drive home.

In other news, tonight I got a message from Amazon that the Kindle I ordered should arrive sometime from September 20-24.  That's exciting.

I tend to try to carry a novel in my purse so that if I end up in a waiting room (whether of a car repair place or doctor's office) or any other situation that requires sitting around I can pull out the book and read. Lately, I've tried to keep a book in my car to read while eating my sack lunch on my lunch hour from work. But of course I always finish the book at some point and may forget to replace it. With a Kindle, I can finish the book and replace it immediately, and never have to remember to switch a new one into my purse.

I'm set for life, I guess.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Just a tad bit more sleep

Tonight I feel like I'm dozing off in front of my computer. I am going to go to bed just a little, little bit earlier and see if that makes me a lot, a whole lot less sleepy tomorrow..

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rain, rain

Fairly typical Sunday. Dinner with my sister-in-law and her household. Grocery shopping. Home in time to see some aunts and an uncle who were visiting with my parents. Walked the dog in a real Washington rain -- small drops, no downpour -- like a cross between light rain and heavy mist. It gets the job done.

Last night, my dad was saying he thought that rain seemed to be better for the plants than watering. I said that as for my flowers, rain washes the leaves in addition to providing water for the roots. The same would be true for trees and shrubs in the yard. The main thing needed for rain with container plants, though, is that there should be enough of it to really saturate the soil in the pot. The potted plants can't seek water with their roots, like plants in the ground can. And I think soil in pots dries out faster than the ground. So they need lots of water.

Today's rain was good. Steady, mild, and prolonged.

Autumn in the Garden

Autumn in the Garden
by Henry Van Dyke

When the frosty kiss of Autumn in the dark
Makes its mark
On the flowers, and the misty morning grieves
Over fallen leaves;
Then my olden garden, where the golden soil
Through the toil
Of a hundred years is mellow, rich, and deep,
Whispers in its sleep.

'Mid the crumpled beds of marigold and phlox,
Where the box
Borders with its glossy green the ancient walks,
There's a voice that talks
Of the human hopes that bloomed and withered here
Year by year,--
And the dreams that brightened all the labouring hours.
Fading as the flowers.

Yet the whispered story does not deepen grief;
But relief
For the loneliness of sorrow seems to flow
From the Long-Ago,
When I think of other lives that learned, like mine,
To resign,
And remember that the sadness of the fall
Comes alike to all.

What regrets, what longings for the lost were theirs!
And what prayers
For the silent strength that nerves us to endure
Things we cannot cure!
Pacing up and down the garden where they paced,
I have traced
All their well-worn paths of patience, till I find
Comfort in my mind.

Faint and far away their ancient griefs appear:
Yet how near
Is the tender voice, the careworn, kindly face,
Of the human race!
Let us walk together in the garden, dearest heart,--
Not apart!
They who know the sorrows other lives have known
Never walk alone.

October, 1903.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

All our love

It was a beautiful fall day today. I went to Bellingham to participate in the Walk to Defeat ALS organized by the Evergreen Chapter of the ALS association. ALS is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. My oldest brother, Dan, dies of ALS in November 2006.

The first time I took part in the Walk was in 2006, and Dan was still there.

Less than two months later, he was gone. I have participated in the Walk in 2007, 2008, 2009, and now 2010 in his memory. Here I am there today with my dad and mom.

I wish we could send this as a greeting card to Dan, saying, "We miss you Dan! We love you! We'll see you someday, but it sure is a long wait. Till then, all our love."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Corn like heaven

This evening I went out to where my sister-in-law and my niece's family live. We had vegetables from their garden with supper. My great-nephew said the corn  (which he helped harvest) tasted like heaven.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Good commute

Tonight when I was driving home from work, the light and scenery were just magnificent. I work in Bellingham and live in Lynden, so I was driving north on the Hannegan Road. The sun was low in the western sky on my left. I put my windshield visor down over the window on that side. I drive through farm country between the two cities, pastures with horses, sometimes cows, occasionally llamas, fields with blueberries or corn, houses and barns. While driving to Lynden, Mt. Baker to the east would require me to look through the window of the back door (I get a good look at Baker and the Twin Sisters on clear mornings, driving south), so I don't look for it; however, some magnificent mountains are in the far distance up in British Columbia, Canada. Only a few trees are touched with color yet; mostly they are still green.

I always see the very first color already in August. Somewhere in the area there will be just one branch of one tree that turns red in August. Now it is a few more branches. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we don't get the spectacular fall colors for which New England is famous, but we get some. I am glad we are the Evergreen State, though, so that even when all the leaves have changed and then fallen, we still have green trees. Snow comes only occasionally in our winters, and doesn't stay long-term, so mostly the pastures and grasses are quite green all winter.

On my drive this evening, the westering sun made the all the colors--green, yellow, and the rest--vivid. The air was clear.

Here's a picture I took in February of this year of the Canadian mountains:

This picture was not taken from the Hannegan, and it's at a different season and time of day than I saw these mountains this evening, but it gives some idea. They were not as snow-covered today as in this picture. I realize I always look at and my eye is drawn to that sort of snaggle-toothed peak, but I have no idea what the mountain's name is.

Now, here's a picture I took last December on my morning commute of the sun coming up behind the Twin Sisters, and if you click on the picture to enlarge it (use your "back" button to come back), you will more clearly see snow-capped Baker glowing to the left of the Sisters:

This picture encourages me by demonstrating that even close to winter solstice, the sun is still coming up while I drive to work--it's not dark all the way. Also, I now go to work a half hour later than I used to (I start at 9:00 instead of 8:30), so that's all the more time for the light to grow.

Beauty matters.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I got home a little late tonight, so I walked the dog around 8:00 p.m. It was dark already, a sign of Fall. But it was just delightful outside. The air was cool--sweatshirt weather--but still, no freezing wind, just refreshing. My deck looked great in the gloaming. I swept and trimmed things this weekend, then we had several days of rain. Today it dried off and everything looked beautiful. I didn't sit out, though. I needed to get dinner for myself.

I like Fall, and I know that it will be followed by Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are great. The hard part about the shortening of the days is knowing that ahead lies the heart of darkness--January and February. I have to take as my "verse" Shelley's line in Ode to the West Wind: "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"