Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mission accomplished

This evening when I got home I tossed my sweater on the couch, then noticed a couple other sweaters scattered around the room. That's because it's cool enough for a sweater when I leave for work but when I come home it's much warmer and I am carrying the sweater over my arm. Anyway, I said to myself, I should hang these sweaters up. I think I'll make a little project of that this evening. And I'm proud to report that I hung up all three sweaters and even a couple more garments that were lying on my bed. I guess now I can sleep the sleep of the just.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Romance

I'm still driving my mom's car, so the radio sets are not what I'm accustomed to. I was scanning stations until I came to a Canadian one playing oldies, and this song came on.



For some reason I've always loved this song, called "The Last Farewell," recorded by Roger Whittaker in 1971, which became a hit in 1975. It always felt so romantic. It makes me feel like I did when I first read Georgette Heyer novels, or when I watched swashbuckling movies in my teens, or when I read Cavalier poets (I could not love thee, dear, so much / Loved I not honour more).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dudes in vehicles

Saw an interesting contrast as I went to my car after work today. First, going uphill, a man in a convertible, top down, loud music playing--I just shook my head. Then, going downhill, a man in an electric wheelchair, his thin white hair lifting in the breeze as he zipped along--I liked his style.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

And another thing

One more thing about my previous post. "Wimpy Catholic" says: I realized I’d spend my life micromanaged in some corporate cube farm or other. My reward for such constriction of body and spirit would amount to Getting By…barely.

I just want to add: That's if you're lucky.

In the classic film Office Space, the protagonist asks despairingly, "What if in 50 years we're still doing the same thing?" His friend replies, "It would be nice to have that kind of job security."

Wm. Tyndale's translation of Genesis 39:2a (concerning Joseph's service as a slave in the house of Potiphar): "And the Lorde was with Joseph and he was a luckie felowe."

Conversion

Here's a passage I like from the blog Diary of a Wimpy Catholic:

I decided to become Catholic when I realized I’d never be rich — or, more exactly, when I realized I’d spend my life micromanaged in some corporate cube farm or other. My reward for such constriction of body and spirit would amount to Getting By…barely. Compared to the sacrifice, the reward seemed awfully scanty. To resort to a cliché, I wanted something more.

I'm not a Catholic, but as a Christian I say, yeah, my life, too, would be meaningless without faith. I was at a Bible study about 15 years ago when the question came up for discussion, "What would you be like if you were not a Christian?" I was appalled by the mere thought of not having my faith and the first thought that occurred to me (family members, don't get scared) was that I probably would have killed myself at some point, most likely during my college years.

Again, don't get scared. I have no desire to kill myself — because I do have faith in the gospel.

Most people at the Bible study said, "I think I'd be very selfish if I didn't have my Christian faith." I was the only one who said, "I think I'd be dead."

As a certain song says, "I have the love of Jesus, love of Jesus down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart. I have the love of Jesus, love of Jesus down in my heart, down in my heart to stay. And I'm so happy, so very happy! I have the love of Jesus in my heart. And I'm so happy, so very happy! I have the love of Jesus in my heart."

Because I believe that God loves me, that he created me for his good purpose, that he is accomplishing his purposes in and through my life, that he is shaping me through my life in the person he wants me to be, and that I will live in fellowship with him forever, because I believe this, my life is beautiful and full of meaning, even when it seems constricted.

To put it even better, my only comfort in life and in death is:

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.
Heidelberg Catechism, Q and A 1

This morning, I looked out my window and, again, saw the morning sun making my begonias glow. The world God made is so beautiful. God is so good. Life is so worthwhile.

Flowers like flames
I'm stressed about job security and money. My car is in the shop. My house is untidy and my desk is a mess. But as another song says, "Real joy is mine, no matter if teardrops start. I've found the secret: It's Jesus in my heart."

Who knew the campfire and VBS (Vacation Bible School) songs were of such lasting value?

And one more song:



May it be so for you too.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rumination and other activities

Here are a few videos from the Northwest Washington Fair last week.

1. A Hereford chewing its cud:

video

2. An Angus (I think) chewing its cud:

video

3. A goat chewing its cud:

video

4. A pig either loving or hating the bath it's getting from its owner:

video

I told my sister, who was making similar recordings, "This is how you know we're city kids, because we want to make movies of cows chewing their cud and pigs squealing."

"City kids," is a remark my dad (who was raised on a farm) will sometimes make when our attitude toward animals is excessively anthropomorphic.

Early to bed

I feel extra tired this evening for some reason. I need to go to bed early. Sometimes I make that resolution, then I sit reading a book or surfing the web until all hours, so this time I really have to follow through.

Early to bed and early to rise,
makes a man healthy wealthy and wise.
Poor Richard's Almanack (Benjamin Franklin)

Looking up that quote, I found one I liked even better:

A Ship under sail and a big-bellied Woman,
Are the handsomest two things that can be seen common.

Although somehow I think he means a woman who is expecting a child, not a woman who just eats a lot and has a big stomach as a result. But who knows?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ease on down

I'm glad I eased back into work. I came back from vacation on Thursday, worked two days and now the weekend. Next week, a full work week, then the Labor Day weekend.

Days are noticeably shorter already. The summer has flown by.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Inflation

A couple months ago, the cost of my medical insurance went up 22%. A couple weeks ago, I went to the doctor with a dreadful case of allergic contact dermatitis. A couple hours ago, I was thinking how I really need to not spend on anything unnecessary for a few months because I'm having what's known as a "cash flow problem." Then I opened a statement from my insurance company and, lo and behold, my recent visit to the doctor is my bill to pay because I have not yet met my deductible this year. I thought, "With what I'm paying for insurance, they not only should pay every penny of any cost I incur, they should also come to my house and put a mint on my pillow."

Today on my lunch break I went to a grocery store in Fairhaven because it was fairly handy to where I work and I needed a few things. I paid $5 for a loaf of whole wheat bread. Not a special loaf, not from the bakery or anything, just a loaf in a plastic wrapper. I don't pay a lot of attention to prices but it does seem to me that $5 is a lot for a loaf of bread.

I even had to pay for air today. Did I mention my car is in the shop? (Most likely a deductible to pay there, too, ka-ching, unless somebody waives it.) So I'm driving my mom's car and the front tire looked a little low. I drove to the nearest gas station after work and bought a tire pressure gauge ($2). Sure enough, the pressure was down around 24 psi, while most tires should be around 30 psi. So I drove over to the air hose, and I had to put in four quarters to get air through the hose. The machine that accepted money and dispensed air had a sign on it about feeding hungry people, and a sign said that "a portion" of the money put in the machine will go to feed the hungry. I'm just not sure I believe that. And how chintzy to charge for air.

Everything costs.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Collision Damage

So after I said good-bye to the last of my dear visitors, I was involved in a minor collision. I was not at fault. My car was rendered not fit to drive because of the severe angle of the rear tire, so I got to spend a few hours of my last day of vacation exchanging insurance information with the weeping teenage girl who plowed into me, riding in a tow truck, sitting in a body shop, and conversing with my insurance company.


A week to ten days before I get it back from the repair shop.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Winding down

Tomorrow the last three visitors go to the airport and fly away, then the next day I go back to work. It will be Thursday, so I'll just have two days before the weekend, so hopefully I can ease in.

Oh, why are vacations, weekends, and family get-togethers so short?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Living the dream

Whenever I would work out on my deck, I would dream of the day my family would be visiting and we'd be sitting out there having coffee and enjoying the flowers and sunshine, and on Saturday my dream came true. Here are my brother and sister sitting with me (I'm where the camera is) on the deck having coffee and muffins.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Good times

I forgot to even blog yesterday. I'm having such a nice time with my family visiting. Here is a vista of our back yard with us out by the fire pit barbecuing and having a picnic.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Getting around

Visited beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, yesterday with my brother and two of his kids. First we went to my old stomping grounds Regent College, then had lunch in a nearby Chinese restaurant, then here to Spanish Bank East.

Spanish Bank East, Vancouver, B.C.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Me at Birch Bay today

Most pictures of myself I don't really like, but this one is not too bad.

This summer's flowers #8

The west side of the house with all the Veronica, aka speedwell, that I have planted on the sand steps. Immediately to the left of the retaining wall, three ferns. Climbing the hill: hosta, blueberries, irises, various succulents, some azaleas.


Closer up of a hosta. The hostas came back from last year. I thought they were dead; I didn't see a sign of them when I planted the irises, but then they came up. That's why they're a bit mixed in with the irises.


A somewhat blurry shot of the French lavender by my kitchen window, around the brick corner.

This summer's flowers #7

I forget what this one is called.


Saxifraga and St. Francis. Got the saxifraga as a tiny starter at least two years ago when Hi Hoe Nursery was giving them away.


Dark-leaved begonias in a barrel.


Begonias and bacopa

This summer's flowers #6

The four fuchsias




This summer's flowers #5

Lotus


I forget what this one is called.


I forget what these two are called, too. I do remember that at one time the one with the more rounded leaves seemed to have died, but there was just a little life left in it and it came back.


Needlepoint ivy, I think it's called.


Double impatiens and creeping jenny

This summer's flowers #4

I forget what this one is called.


Nicotiana


Daisy type of flower -- It came without a label; it was a gift.


Heliotrope. I grow this in memory of my flower-loving grandma.


Bee balm

This summer's flowers #3

Verbena. A little scrawny this year. I think I should have fertilized more.


The verbena is under the contorted filbert.


Petunias


Honeysuckle. It hasn't bloomed this summer. My theory is it needed to recover from the severe pruning I gave it last year. I cut it back to a mere stick to get rid of aphids.


The herb barrel: parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and chives. I ruthlessly chopped down the chives because they were keeling over onto the other herbs.

This summer's flowers #2

Peppermint


Peppermint and lemon balm (oops, I see a weed in the peppermint)


Pansies


Pansies


Pansies

This summer's flowers #1

Callie rose


Wallflower with bacopa


Three lavenders


Strawberry: This one has lots of leaves, but has not borne fruit.


Strawberry: This one has produced fruit and is blooming again.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Expectation

Lots of straightening, moving stuff, re-organizing in preparation for my visitors. They need to sleep in rooms where I've put lots of stuff just to get it out of the way until I have time to deal with it. Now I need to deal with it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gang agley

There is a chair I have, and I wanted to clean it before my guests come, because my dog, pictured below seated upon the chair in question, has caused some, shall we say, uncleanliness to the cushions. Let's just say that when he stands on the chair to look out the window, if he sees a cat outside, he cannot contain his excitement.


A very troublesome beast

Because of my canine's excitability--and, before him, the like issue with my cats--I keep on hand industrial-size containers of a certain product called Nature's Miracle. It does yeoman's work, but I wanted to clean the cushions nevertheless.

So I went to the hardware store on Saturday afternoon to see if their carpet cleaner, which has attachments for upholstery, was available to rent. It was, and I rented it. I took it home in my car, lugged it down the outside stairs to my apartment, read the instructions about how to attach the upholstery cleaner--you had to switch a vacuum hose and water hose--filled the bucket with water and cleaner and got started. The fabric on the chair is a faux* suede and I hoped it could take it, but I didn't really care if it got damaged or discolored. As I worked, I discovered that not only the back cushion could be detached, which I already knew, but also the bottom cushion easily pulled out. Then I saw that there were zippers cleverly hidden so that presumably the covers could come off the cushions.

I have never used a water-extraction cleaning machine before, so I wasn't sure how it was supposed to work, but it seemed like although there was powerful vacuum there was not much water happening to the cushions. Then I saw that there was a lot of water happening on the floor under the machine. I switched everything off, got some towels to mop up the puddle and tried to figure out what I had done wrong. I discovered that when I was running the machine the water was spraying out of the connection where I had hooked up the upholstery attachment water hose. I tried to figure out if I had hooked it up wrong, but I couldn't see any other way to connect it.

By now it was a quarter to five, so I called the hardware store to see when they closed. They did not close till six, so I emptied out the bucket of water and cleaner, dried everything up, and changed into drier clothes. I lugged the machine back up the outside steps to my car and heaved it inside, then drove the whole caboodle back to the store. I asked if I had been hooking it up wrong, but the very courteous and helpful staff thought more likely an O-ring needed repair, so they returned my rental money.

I came home and tried unzipping the cushion covers. I was able to remove the covers, and I threw them in the washer and washed them in warm water, then dried them by running them in the dryer without heat. This morning they were perfectly dry and clean, I stuffed the cushions back into them and, voila, they are clean and in good condition.

I kept thinking of the Robert Burns line, something to the effect of, "The best laid plans of mice and men go oft astray." I looked it up today online, and it's, "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley." That must be why people don't often quote the second half. Unless you are an actual Scot you can't really say "gang aft agley" without sounding like a complete dork. And who knows what the genuine Scottish pronunciation would be? You might say it all wrong, so that a Scot would merely look at you in puzzlement when you quoted his country's greatest poet. Here's a link to the poem "To a Mouse," which is where the line comes from.

____________________________________

*Don't you love the word faux? It's French for fake. The first time I saw it used to describe merchandise was in a magazine advertisement for "faux pearls," which sounds like extra-special pearls from some lagoon in Provence.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sweet Days

Even if I weren't on vacation, I'd have today off because it's Saturday, but knowing I have the next week and a half off makes the leisure that much sweeter. I feel so relaxed. I have things I need to do to prepare for my visitors, such as, clean stuff out of the guest room that I've been storing there, wash sheets and make beds, wash towels and have them folded and ready to use. I also want to, if possible, finish transferring a lot of books into the room that will henceforth function as a library. I keep calling it the library but right now it's really the room with empty shelves.

It's funny how as you think about one thing, the words of your thoughts will trigger associations that make you think about other things. When I thought how sweet it is to feel my vacation stretching ahead of me, it made me think of the song "Sweeter as the Days Go By."



And when I thought about preparing the guest room for my visitors, it made me think of, "I go to prepare a room for you," which turns out not to be the exact quote:

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. (John 14:1-4)

Just like I will be cleaning, laundering, making beds, fluffing pillows, all to make a welcome place for my beloved brother, nieces, and nephew, so Jesus is preparing a place for me in the Kingdom of God. Just like I am looking forward to their arrival, he is looking forward to mine. And just like I will drive to the airport to meet my dear family, so he will come to greet me. Will we hug each other like family members at the arrival gate in the airport?

At my uncle's funeral this week, my dad read this passage:

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (I Thessalonians 13-18)

Glorious and mysterious.

Thinking about greetings on the other side makes me think of the song, "The Far Side Banks of Jordan."



The song is somewhat theologically incorrect because it's a song where an old person tells their spouse that the singer will wait at the gates of heaven or outside the walls of the new Jerusalem and not go into heaven until the other one arrives as well. But it's how we feel sometimes about the people we love on this earth, that we really can't imagine life without them, even in the new creation. It's as Dietrich Bonhoeffer told a little boy who was mourning for his dog, which had died, and asked if he would see his dog again:

“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." (Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Anticipation

Just have to survive one more work day, then my break starts. In five days, family members start to arrive.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Unbroken circle

Attended a funeral today. Christian funerals are so beautiful. Special music was the deceased's daughter-in-law and granddaughters singing "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" The words varied slightly from the version below, as they sang of a father rather than a mother, but this is the song.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bonus

I bought this plant, which is bee balm, because the leaves were fragrant.


Now it's getting these gorgeous flowers. What a bonus!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Different colors

I just noticed today that, even though I made sure to buy fuchsias all of the same kind, with the same tags, I still have two different colors.


Oh, well, both colors are beautiful.