Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hmm

On my Kindle, read Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro. The book has a strange and rather depressing premise. I'm not sure I'm glad I read it. Ishiguro is the author of The Remains of the Day, which is also a rather sad story, but not as strange.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Well, I just watched "The Ceremony in Full" of the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton of England. Very beautiful. Those Anglicans know how to do liturgy. I did doze a trifle during the music that played while the couple were secluded in the chapel of the shrine of St. Edward the Confessor, signing the registers, but only because it was about 11:00 p.m. and I was sleepy.

I enjoyed when the congregation sang "Jerusalem." That is a poem I have taught when I was an English teacher. The poem is by William Blake and alludes to the myth that as a boy Jesus traveled to England in the company of Joseph of Arimathea:

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England`s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England`s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England`s green and pleasant land.

It starts at about 47.15 of the video I linked to, above.

They also sang "God Save the Queen." I do not know all the words to that, so I googled it:

God save our gracious Queen.
Long live our noble Queen.
God save the Queen.
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us.
God save the Queen.

We Americans know the tune well because we have a patriotic song to the same tune:

My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing:
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the Pilgrims' pride.
From every mountainside,
Let freedom ring.

Anyway, beautiful ceremony over there in Westminster Cathedral, London, England, and a beautiful young couple. God bless them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Is it?

The Year's At The Spring
by Robert Browning

The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven—
All's right with the world!

Comment: In many obvious ways, of course, all's NOT right with the world. Yet it is.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The veriest school of peace

I made myself post a blessing about the rain, instead of a complaint yesterday, when it did, again, rain. Today it was clouded over in the morning, but then the sun came out all afternoon until it went down. They are predicting mostly cloudy and rainy this week, but sometimes "they" are wrong.

How fascinating is it to read my weather reports, I wonder.

Over supper tonight (second to last helping of left-over stew--one more left now in the fridge), I finished Precious Bane. Such a beautiful book.

This evening I watched a great many videos of a toddler great-niece of mine who lives in another state. I watched her dye Easter eggs and hunt them, and also watched her on a camping trip. Family dogs wandered in and out of the movies. Nice.

My family dog must have known I was thinking about him because he just came over to lie by my feet. A dog is a lovesome thing, God wot. Actually it's a garden that's a lovesome thing. Harriet Wimsey, nee Vane, quotes that line to Lord Peter Wimsey in Busman's Honeymoon. I just googled the line and found the poem, which is so nice, I here reprint it. As it's a 19th century poem, I'm sure it's in the public domain. I found it over at Bartleby.

My Garden

A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!
Rose plot,
Fringed pool,
Fern'd grot—
The veriest school
Of peace; and yet the fool
Contends that God is not—
Not God! in gardens! when the eve is cool?
Nay, but I have a sign;
'Tis very sure God walks in mine.

Thomas Edward Brown (1830–1897)

The rhyme scheme is a, a, b, a, b, b, a, b, c, c. Allusions to the Psalms ("The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God"--Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1) and to the creation story ("And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day"--Genesis 3:8).

It's an easy poem to read and give expression to, and it has a pleasant meaning. I like it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The blessing of rain

May the blessing of the rain be on you—
the soft sweet rain.
May it fall upon your spirit
so that all the little flowers may spring up,
and shed their sweetness on the air.

May the blessing of the great rains be on you,
may they beat upon your spirit
and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there many a shining pool
where the blue of heaven shines,
and sometimes a star.

An Irish blessing

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The afternoon

In the afternoon, I spent quite a bit of time transplanting plants. This wallflower is a survivor from last year. It was root bound in a small pot, so I put it in this larger one. It seemed a bit long and rangy, so I trimmed it down a bit, then decided also to put some bacopa around the bottom to offset the height. The flowers of this plant smell delicious.


I transplanted a total of 16 fuchsia starts into four baskets, which later I will hang up. And I made some pots of geraniums with bacopa that later I'll put upstairs on my parents' deck. I like them to see flowers when they look out their window.


By "later" I mean Mother's Day, the traditional day, locally, that the danger of frost is past. Although today was lovely, we're supposed to revert to rainy and chilly for another 10 days, starting tomorrow.

If so, the weather is backwards: lovely and mild on Good Friday, the sad, somber day, and rainy and miserable on Easter, the day of new life and hope. It was hard to believe, today, that tomorrow would rain. We'll see.

Later in the morning

Had coffee with my dad (latte for him, mocha for me) in his sun room. We were joined by, you guessed it, the faithful companion, also known as the grand-dog. Mom was out shopping for Easter dinner.


Since Mom was gone, Faithful Companion could spread out and take a chair for himself. He confidently takes his place in the family circle (aka the pack).

The forepart of the morning

Today was finally a perfect spring day. I had my morning coffee and some pop tarts sitting in an Adirondack chair in the sunshine on my deck.


I was accompanied by my most faithful companion.


The pansies are blooming--though something keeps munching the purple pansies. I keep checking the pot for a snail or slug, but haven't seen one.


My dog got a little drink out of the pond.


That reminds me of a story my sister once told me, back when she taught first grade. She drank from a drinking fountain and a little boy in her class watched, then commented, "I didn't know teachers got a drink." Reminds me of the time at Calvin when I saw  my religion prof coming out of the men's room. Really? Him?

He was a prof who told us that people don't really like to realize that Baby Jesus needed his diapers changed. But it's true. It was not a frivolous observation, it was to understand the reality of the Incarnation.

Spring's progress

The big tree in our cul-de-sac is starting to leaf out.


The neighbor lady's tulips are in bloom.


This vacant lot has a fine crop of dandelions.


In our back yard, the leaves are softening the outlines of the branches in the trees.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Contrast

Today on the weather and garden front, it was a beautiful day. The sun shone. The temperature was mild. The sharp branches of trees were blurry with greeny-yellow tender small leaves. Green fields suddenly had expanses of yellow dandelions.

It was Good Friday, the solemn holy day when we commemorate the death of our Lord to atone for our sins.

The contrast between the anguish of Christ's suffering and the soft, sweet beauty of the day reminded me of a passage from one of my favorite books of all time, Precious Bane, by Mary Webb:

I wonder to myself, times, if it was fair, clear weather on Golgotha when Mary looked up at the cross, and whether there was some small bird singing, and the bees busy in the clover. Ah! I think it was glass-clear weather, and bright. For no bitter lacked in that cup, and surely one of the bitterest things is to see the cruelty of man on some fair morning with blessing in it.

With all my heart, I recommend this novel. I think anyone who reads it will be a better person afterward.

And I pray that we may all reflect, today and tomorrow, on our Lord's death for our sakes, and that we may remember and believe that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was broken and that the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ was shed for a complete remission of all our sins.

Tetelestai: It is accomplished.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring chill

Still a cold spring, but getting some sun with it. Some rain, too. The "tender" plants I bought last week are still doing okay sheltered by the upper deck.

When I get home from work, I tend to wander around my deck and to the side of the house a bit to check on all my plants before opening my door.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Is it Friday yet?

Oh, dear. Today was rather a long day at work with more to do than could fit into the workday. And tomorrow will be challenging as well. Oh, for the weekend.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Selfishness

At work this afternoon, my boss looked at my co-worker and asked, "Are you sick?" and he admitted he was. My boss said, "I noticed you looked pale this morning, and now you look flushed." So she told him to go home.

Meanwhile, I work in the same room with him and throughout the day I had noticed he was sneezing a lot, but the only effect on me was that while he was at lunch, after I did a task on his computer, I made sure to used hand sanitizer because I had touched the same mouse he was using.

Reminds me of a time many years ago, a different workplace and a different co-worker, who, again, was sick. She kept coughing. Plus I felt she was dramatizing her coughing. She would cough, then gag, then groan, then sigh. After some hours of this, I urged her to go home. She was touched by my kind concern for her health and thought I was sweet. I knew in my heart that my only concern was to get her coughing out of my hearing before I went crazy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Changeable as the weather

Over the weekend, the weather varied between rain and sunshine. I was cheered by the sunshine. This morning I opened the blinds and it was raining steadily and heavily. I almost cried. When I walked the dog, I put back on the winter jacket I had hoped I was done with. I drove to work in a down frame of mind.

Fortunately, or, rather, providentially, the sun came out by noon and the rest of the day was beautiful, cheering me up.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Palm Sunday

Today begins Holy Week. We had a good Palm Sunday service. The little children waved palm branches while we sang, and a group of girls maybe 6th grade age did a dance while we sang. They were so happy and excited to do what they were doing that I cried. For some reason, the sight of happy beautiful young people makes me cry; it's so beautiful.

During this week, I am going to avoid the political blogs I often read. Politics tends to make me sad, angry, and frustrated, but without purpose. My major political action is to vote in most elections. I do that according to my conscience, but I am not called to do that right now. I want to spend more time thinking about the Lord Jesus Christ and walk with him in my thoughts when I can in the events and places of this week.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O daughter of Jerusalem:
behold, thy King cometh unto thee:
he is just, and having salvation;
lowly, and riding upon an ass,
and upon a colt the foal of an ass.

(Zechariah 9:9)

Blessings upon you, my readers. Thank you.

The view

After a while, my dog sat in my lap and took up the majority of the view.



First green

After I got home from Hi Hoe Nursery yesterday, the sun came out. I didn't want to waste the sunshine, so I went out to sit outside in an Adirondack chair, with a glass of water, a cup of coffee, and my dog.

I made two trips. The second trip was the dog and the coffee. My dog was so excited that I said to myself it might have been a bad idea to have the jumping dog and the hot coffee on the same trip.

My dog did not cause a spill, but when I put the cup down on the arm of the chair then sat down, I jiggled the chair and caused a coffee slosh-over.


I moved the coffee to the other arm. I was afraid the spilled coffee would stain the wood, but once it dried you really couldn't see it.


I looked around and enjoyed the sunshine. My dad has a contorted willow that got a disease and a tree surgeon cut away quite a bit of it. That was a few years ago. This spring it looks a little fuller again.


I love that shrubs and trees are starting to green up. A lot trees are still pretty bare, but many are getting "Nature's first green," which is "gold."


"Her hardest hue to hold."

Whimsy and departure

Here is a baseball with branches grown around it. It's been there a few years. It is a little mossy, thanks to the damp weather we've been having.


A stone figure peering through the plants.


Then it started to rain--see the drops on my windshield as I'm in my car, ready to leave.


I bought a fern while at Hi Hoe, a deer fern it's called, which I'll plant next to another fern I bought there last year. I wanted to buy some bacopa, but their greenhouse was closed because it's been such a cold spring and it was so cold yesterday as well, that they would not expose the "tender" plants. I think that bacopa can survive already in the sheltered part of my deck, so I drove to a hardware store and bought some.

Looking around

These are peonies. The flowers will be lovely. I have never attempted peonies, yet, anyway. They look like a lot of work, because they seem to need support.


The sign in the below picture is for the pot next to the flower. The flower was why I took the picture. I believe it is a Camellia.


A whole shrub full of them on a trellis.


A shot of part of the grounds of Hi Hoe Nursery. As you can see, it's clouding over.

At the nursery

Yesterday was alternating between beautiful and rainy. At one of the beautiful moments, I decided to go to my favorite nursery, Hi Hoe Nursery, east of Lynden. It is a nice place to hang out, as well as to buy plants. It's a large place, with rows of trees growing as you drive up the long driveway, a house, where presumably the owners live, several greenhouses and other shelters, and areas of wonderful landscaping.

Here is an entrance to their "secret garden," one of my favorite nooks:


Around the corner, another entrance, seen from the garden, looking back at a shelter where thy have shade plants.


This is a taller version of my own contorted filbert. Hi Hoe is where I bought mine.


I love this tree with the green leaf buds and green lichen and moss. How beautiful.


And what's not to love about this moss-covered roof, the yellow forsythia and the sense of shelter, quiet, and growth here?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ugh

We've been having a cool, rainy spring, and I've really been longing for some sunshine. So yesterday I prayed for some sunny days, at least three in a row. I prayed for some warm, sunny weather, not a drought, nothing that would harm the farmers, just a little light and warmth to lift our spirits.

This morning I opened the blinds and saw . . .  snow.



Very funny.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gesundheit

I sneezed. Then I thought to myself, "Gesundheit." For some reason, this German wish for good health is a common thing to say in the U.S. to someone who just sneezed. The English variant is "Bless you." You might even say, "God bless you."

Once I was in a crowd of people in a greenhouse in Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania, and I sneezed. A lady nearby said, "God bless you. And thank you for covering." For of course I had.

When I belonged to a Chinese church in California, I asked if there was something Chinese people said after someone sneezed. An elder replied, "We say," pulling a face of distaste, "cover your mouth." I used to tell the story about how, as an allergy sufferer, I went to one of my first worship services there worrying, "What if among the Chinese it is very unacceptable and rude to blow your nose?" Providentially, that very day, during his sermon, the pastor paused, pulled out an enormous white handkerchief and blew his nose quite heartily right there in the pulpit.

Looking on Wikipedia, I see that the Dutch say "Gezondheid," which is similar to the German but not the same. The Dutch are not German. Really, the word Dutch is part of this confusion. It would seem to come from the word Deutsch, which means German. Really, the Dutch people are Nederlanders and their language is Nederlands. And the country is not Holland--that is just one province--the country is the Netherlands.

Ik ga slapen, ik ben moe (I go to sleep, I am tired)
sluit mijn beide oogjes toe (I close both my eyes)
Here, houdt ook deze nacht (Lord, please guard, this night too,)
over mij getrouw de wacht (over me, truthfully)

Boze dat ik heb gedaan (Bad things I did)
Zie dat Here toch niet aan (don't look at them, Lord)
Schoon mijn zonde velen zijn (though my sins are many)
Maak om Jezus wil mij rein (for Jesus' sake cleanse me)

Zorg voor de arme kindren Heer (take care of the poor children, Lord)
en herstel de zieken weer (and heal the sick)
ja voor alle kindren saam (yes, for all children together)
bid ik U in Jezus naam (I pray to you in Jesus' name)

Sta mijn ouders trouw te zij (Help my parents truthfully)
wees mijn vrienden ook nabij (and be close to my friends too)
Geef ons allen nieuwe kracht (give us all new power)
door de rust van deze nacht (through the rest of this night)

Doe mij dankbaar en gezond (Make me thankful and healthy)
opstaan in de morgenstond (when I get up in the morning)
als ik mijn oogjes open doe (when i open my little eyes)
lacht Uw zon mij vriendlijk toe. (Your sun will friendly smile at me)

Amen

Auteur: Ds. J. de Liefde (1814-1869)

A certainty

I forgot to blog last night because I was doing my taxes. Glad to have that over with. Now I don't have to think about it for another year.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sweet Dreams

I've always liked this song by Cass Elliot. She had a stunning singing voice and style.



I like to sing this song in my car--my favorite place to sing.

So, sweet dreams till sunbeams find you. Sweet dreams that leave your worries behind you.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My own stuff

A couple weeks ago already, I bought and planted this calla lily:


This saxifraga is combing back for the second year in a row:


Friday I bought these petunias. The lady at the Garden Spot said it was three weeks too early to plant them, that they would grow for a while and if we got frost they might get nipped. But I couldn't wait.


These pots don't look like much now, but they are a sign of things to come:


Here is a beautiful purple pansy:


These pots were gifts from friends and loved ones. When I went near the wall to take a picture, my adorable dog spontaneously posed himself in the middle of them.


I'm not sure what the flowers on the left actually are. The pot on the right is strawberries.

Shrubs and bushes

Heather is in bloom:


Most azaleas are not blooming yet, but a few are, like this one in the yard of a neighbor down the street:


A few more weeks and these will be lilac blooms:

Blooms

The neighbor's magnolia tree:


Another magnolia tree:


A forsythia branch:


Forsythia:


Blooming tree of unknown sort: