Saturday, October 29, 2011

Everybody's working for the weekend

This morning I put on a pot of coffee before I took my dog for his walk so that when I came home I would smell the coffee when I walked in the door. My plan worked perfectly.

It was a pretty walk, though cold.  It was just getting light and the eastern sky was yellow. It was a little misty, and red, orange, and yellow colors were scattered through the neighborhood on the trees and bushes. When I came back into our cul-de-sac, I wished I had brought my camera because the maple tree looked so gorgeous. This is a picture from last week Saturday. It's like this, only more so.


It's such a pleasant, relaxing feeling to sleep until I wake naturally, get up gradually, take my walk when I'm ready, then come back in and be able to stay home and potter around my house. When I was spooning the coffee into the brewer, the line of the Loverboy song came into my mind, "Everybody's working for the weekend." I do feel, sort of, that my weekends are my reward for my work week. I work for a living Monday through Friday, then on Saturday and Sunday I live my living.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Excitement

How sad is it that a major high point of my week is sleeping in on Saturday morning? I am so looking forward to it.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Deep thoughts

A bottle of Pepto-Bismol is sitting on my counter. The "Pepto" is writ large, while "Bismol" is small. A old roommate of mine occasionally had recourse to Pepto-Bismol, but she didn't like the taste. She called it "Dismal-Bismol."

I don't mind the taste. Not that I would drink it by the cupful as a pleasurable beverage, but in its recommended dose it's quite tolerable. Peppermint flavored. I used to think the "Pepto" referred to peppermint, which is good for your stomach -- that's why Dutch people often eat a peppermint after a meal, particularly a spicy meal -- but I think it really refers to the word peptic, as in peptic ulcer. According to Merriam-Webster, the word pepsin derives from pepsis, the Greek word for digestion.

"Bismol" refers to the active ingredient, bismuth subsalicylate.

Anyway, the label reminded me of the Pepto-Bismol commercial that was on TV in my mis-spent youth, where someone would hold their hand to their mouth and gurgle, "Indi ... (urp) ... gestion," then the announcer would reply, "Pepto ... Bismol." While the person was burping, their picture would be all distorted like a fun-house mirror, but at the name "Pepto-Bismol" they would return to normal. That was quite explicit for its time about the problems Pepto-Bismol treats.

Then they went a little further. A man in the commercial would ask in a confidential manner, "Do you mind if I talk to you about ... diarrhea?" My dad would always yell, "Yes!" He minded. That commercial was also quite "out there" for its time.

Now, there's nothing you can't say on TV, and they sing and dance about stomach problems.



I wish I could say that I am shocked, disgusted, and dismayed by the vulgarity of this commercial, but I can't. It makes me laugh.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Medium

Well, the work week is more than half over. It's neither the fastest nor the slowest week I've had. Just medium.

This morning there was frost on the ground.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A couple little thoughts on prayer

Looking for time to pray. If I want to spend significant time in prayer, what's necessary is that I should like praying more than I like the other things that take up my time. Or at least that I should value it more. What we really spend our time on shows what we really value.

And trying to pray well. I can start by praying badly. I do some of that already  -- why not even more? It may be that the fruit of my unskillful, bumbling prayers will be better prayers.

Now I remember

Every now and then I have a night where I'm so sleepy that I crawl off to bed early and forget that I even have a blog until the next morning. That was last night.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Turning leaves

On a sunny fall afternoon, even the parking lot of a grocery store can be beautiful.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A fall Saturday

Earlier today (before the downpour), I went to see my great-nephew playing soccer. Here's a pretty good action shot of him.


He's the one with the yellow shirt and the long hair. I spotted him in the field while I was still driving around looking for parking because of his hair.

Here are his mom, my niece, and his "granny," my sister-in-law.


Afterwards I stopped off at Muddy Waters Espresso drive-through for some hot, caffeinated beverages for my folks and me.


At this time of year I enjoy seeing this bush around Lynden. It puts on some brilliant fall color. It is appropriately called a Burning Bush or Fire Ball.


Some local trees are also getting red leaves ...


... but it seems to me that yellow or golden leaves are the more typical around here.


The big maple in our cul-de-sac is starting to turn yellow. (I'm pretty sure it's a maple, based on the shape of the leaves.)



I love this tree's massive, bumpy, mossy trunk and limbs.


This is the kind of tree that could have been an ent.

Autumn rain

We had a downpour this afternoon. For some reason I like to take movies of the rain, so I stepped out the door with my camera. First I took this overview of rain on the deck and back yard.

video

Then I took movies of the rain on parts of the deck. Here is the rain on what I think of as the "sunny side" of the deck. Of course, it's not sunny in this movie, but when the sun is out, this is the sunny side.

video

And here is the rain on the pond. The manneken pis is not on -- no need for his contribution in this weather.

video

But my favorite movie of today's rain is from the "shady side" of the deck. I think I like the way it's dark, but then there are touches of red and pink.

video

Friday, October 21, 2011

The night before

I'm so excited about sleeping in tomorrow. I've been looking forward to it ever since I woke up this morning, not having slept in.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Who's your daddy?

I just watched the end of a program on PBS about children conceived by artificial insemination finding their "donor fathers." Specifically it was about one guy who "donated" a lot to a sperm bank so that he has about ten kids that they know of so far. The kids--young adults--are interested to meet him and each other. They guy lives in an RV near a beach in California with two dogs and a pigeon and believes in conspiracy theories about the world being run by a secret elite. I've heard of such a theory before, where the secret rulers are called the Illuminati. The dad is spiritual in a vague, hippie-ish way.

Interesting world we live in.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occlusionally

Yesterday I received an occlusal guard from my dentist. It's supposed to keep me from grinding my teeth at night. Although my sleeping partner:

Your teeth seem okay to me.
How do mine look to you?
has never mentioned to me that I grind my teeth in my sleep, my dentist deduced that I do based on the condition of my teeth. They warned me when I received my occlusal guard that it might feel awkward at first and it could take a few weeks to get used to wearing it. I wore it last night for the first time, and it did feel weird but not too uncomfortable. What I chiefly objected to was the taste, but I intend to persevere so that I do not wear my molars down to little nubs.

This is about as much detail as I can go into. Much of what is involved in dentistry and proper dental care grosses me out, even though I am very thankful to be able to receive good dental care.

Monday, October 17, 2011

At the old ball game

This afternoon, I went with my dad, my brother, and my niece ...


... to watch my great-niece play softball on her middle school softball team.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday afternoon

This afternoon I went to my sister-in-law's place. Our lovely fall weather is continuing. I love this bed of little pansies, which are all "volunteers."


The marigolds stay good late into the season. They are in the vegetable garden to act as a slug repellent.


My sister-in-law thought she was planting zucchini but got these lumpy yellow gourds. I suggested she harvest them and use them in her table decorations for Thanksgiving.


Same with these little pumpkins. We are at or near freezing temperatures at night now, so "The frost is on the punkin."


Just a couple of sweet peas were still clinging to their stems.


And a few roses ('Tis the last rose of summer / Left blooming on the vine).


Here's my sister-in-law cutting me a bouquet of larkspur. We were out in her garden because I'd caught sight of the purple blooms from a window.


Here's my sister-in-law's cat. His name should be Nimrod, but it's not.

Old friends

After the performance, I chatted with a good friend of mine, Gaye Davis, who is one of the planners of the Music Festival, as well as a talented musician in her own right. She plays the violin beautifully. I mostly get to hear her at church events, but she is also a member of the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra. She teaches violin and viola (at Studio Rue Avant) and also offers Kindermusik. I heartily recommend her as a knowledgeable teacher a wonderful human being.


Gaye and I have been friends since we started fourth grade together at Lynden Christian School. That's a few years now. As Anne of Green Gables would say, "She's a kindred spirit."

Guitar and contrabass

The Wine and Song event I went to at Samson Estates was in this little building, in the tasting room.



Since there was no charge for the performance, I wanted to show my appreciation to Samson Estates for hosting it, so I bought a glass of blackberry wine and a blackberry truffle. I sipped the wine during the performance and when it was about three-fourths gone I ate the truffle.


I don't have it in my picture, but after I had eaten the truffle, a ladybug showed up on this little trunk that was functioning as my table and walked back and forth a few times. A ladybug is one of the few bugs that does not cause me to feel intense revulsion.

Here is the guitarist, David Feingold, playing the second guitar he had with him. Some of his talk was over my head, when he talked about tuning two strings to create a fifth, and how nylon strings lose their tune as you play. First he played alone, some classical pieces, and that was my favorite part of the show.


Then he was joined by the doublebassist, Ben Musa. Mr. Musa's instrument was so beautiful, like a piece of antique furniture. Together Mr. Feingold and Mr. Musa played some more jazzy music. It was very well done. Sometimes jazz goes over my head, too, if it is not melodic. They had good mixture.

The doublebassist would often close his eyes and even scrunch up his face while he played and breathe in a way that was obviously related to his music and sometimes he would hum. It reminded me of what I have been reading about meditative prayer -- coordinating your breathing with your prayer word. Music can be like prayer, or can be prayer itself. I don't know if it's a true quote but I have read that St. Augustine said, "He who sings, prays twice."


Here they are appreciating each other at the end of the performance.


This is afterwards, when most people had cleared out of the room, so you can get a better idea of the venue. It was charming -- small and intimate. More people showed up than they had anticipated, so it did become crowded, but fortunately I was there in good time and sat front and center.

The view

Today I went to one of the events of the Lynden Music Festival. I went to the event called Wine and Song, out at Samson's Winery. It was a performance of a guitarist with a double bassist. On the drive out, the scenery was beautiful.

Baker and the Twin Sisters from the Hannegan Road
I arrived at the winery.

Samson Estates Winery.

I was saying to myself what a privilege it is to live in Whatcom County. It was such a lovely fall day.

The view looking northeast from the winery.

Looking east. That hill hides Mt. Baker.
You can just see the very top of it.

Looking south.

Well, now it's late and I'm sleepy so I have to finish this episode of my life tomorrow.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

You get what you pay for

Because it was so incredibly cheap, I bought on my Kindle Works of Edith Wharton (31 Books) and I read a couple short stories. Now I am reading The Valley of Decision, which is set in 18th Century Italy. I have done this a lot on my Kindle, that I buy lesser-known works of authors I like. Often I realize there's a good reason why the lesser-known works are lesser known. This book, The Valley of Decision, is okay but occasionally becomes tedious. I'm deciding whether I'll finish it.

 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sampling

Seeing as yesterday I had a Monday, I thought that today I'd have a Tuesday. It was okay. Tomorrow I'll try a Wednesday.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Scope for the imagination

Well, today was Monday. As Mondays go, it wasn't bad. It was rainy, but I like rain for the most part. And I had plenty to do all day at work and I did it.

Tonight I made my dog very happy by giving him a rawhide bone. He loves those. It will last him for days. First he gnaws it into two or three pieces, then he slowly chews away each piece. I can hear him crunching and scraping his teeth on the bone right now. Sometimes he stops and pants a bit. I made sure to refill his water dish because chewing a bone always makes him thirsty.

I'm re-reading Anne of Green Gables on my Kindle.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A good place for plants

Today I went with my dad to Vander Giessen Nursery to close on a deal of plants and planting service. My dad had the bushes pulled out of two areas, one on each side of the garage, and needed to decide what to put in those beds. I was all for flowers on trellises and more flowers in front of that, but Dad wanted bushes because he considers them lower maintenance. So we went to Vander Giessen's last Saturday and talked it over with their young manager. I offered to e-mail some pictures of the areas that needed plants, along with more precise measurements than we had with us. Based on that, the manager came up with a recommendation of certain bushes to plant and an estimate of the price of plants plus the cost of someone planting them for us. Came out to a very reasonable total. So today we went back and he showed us examples of each the plants he had recommended, and we told him we'd like to go ahead with the project.

Vander Giessen Nursery has memories for me. In 1970-71, we lived just a block away from it, the year my mom, siblings, and I lived in Lynden, to be near family, while my dad spent a year in Viet Nam (he was an Air Force chaplain). I walked by it every day on my way to school that year. Also, my flower-loving grandma lived next door to us and she worked part-time at Vander Giessen.

My flower-loving grandma and my grandpa
while they still lived on the farm west of Lynden.
It was some years later that Grandma lived on
Hawley Street and worked at
Vander Giessen Nursery.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Relaxing feeling

Good to go to bed knowing tomorrow is Saturday and I don't have to wake up at a fixed time.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Books and Jobs

Well, I finished Gilead on my lunch break today. Now I have to decide whether to keep reading Marilynne Robinson until I exhaust her oeuvre* (had to look up the spelling) or whether to go in another direction for a while.

Steve Jobs died the other day. Sad that someone so brilliant died so young. Interesting to find out that he was adopted (h/t Anchoress).

Now, to bed at a half-way decent time.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hearing things

Today I went to Sacred Space and the Scripture passage was Luke's version of the Lord's Prayer (Luke 11:1-4). What timing, since I just went to that seminar on the Lord's Prayer. And when I went to Living Space, the commentary on the daily readings, the teaching was very similar to what I had heard--that is, use the Lord's Prayer as a pattern for your own prayer. It's almost like Someone is telling me something.

I also noticed it said that yesterday's reading was the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42), so I took a look at that, too. It contrasts the choices of Martha--distracted by the tasks that kept her busy--and Mary--sitting and listening to Jesus. I feel that God is giving me a sense that I need to spend more time in prayer and specifically listening for what he has to tell me, but I am distracted by my own activities. I think of how I could carve out one or two half-hour segments for meditative prayer, but I haven't done so yet. To my shame, I know that if I could take a half-hour from my work day for this, I would gladly do it, but when it comes to taking a half-hour from reading a novel or spending time on the web, or blogging, then I'm less willing.

Or taking a half-hour off my sleep in the morning. The trouble is, I would need more sleep, not less, to do this praying. Right now, if I sat and focused on prayer word and synchronized my breathing to it, I know I would be asleep within ten minutes. In order to pray better I need to get enough sleep at night.

I keep praying to pray better. Meanwhile, I'm up late again. I scheduled stuff into my google calendar, I caught up with friends on Facebook, I went and left a comment on my sister's CRC blog (I had forgotten my user name, of course, so it took me ages to log in just to leave a brief remark), and I wrote this blog. I am very, very sleepy. I will go straight to bed, and I know I'll fall asleep quickly, and I imagine I'll have a hard time waking up tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sleep deprivation

Well, the last two nights I was at a prayer seminar at my church about using the Lord's Prayer as a model for prayer

Living Prayer: The Lord's Prayer Alive in You

It was pretty decent.

Then last night after I got home I stayed up late finishing Home: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson. It is a companion volume to Gilead: A Novel. The story in Home takes place at the same time and place as the story in Gilead, but each novel focuses on a different character. The main characters in one are supporting characters in the other. So now I'm re-reading Gilead.

But really tonight I should get to bed at a decent hour. Last night when I got in to bed very late after finishing Home, I said to my dog, "Tomorrow morning I will regret staying up so late tonight." And I did, although I don't regret reading the book.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The silent land

I am reading a book called A Sunlit Absence: Silence, Awareness, and Contemplation, by Martin Laird, who is an Augustinian monk. I like it already. One of the first things I found out when I started is that it is the companion volume to another book by Martin Laird, called Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation. I intend to get that book, too.

I thought of two things while reading. One was a blog entry my sister wrote last year called Just Sitting, where she wrote, "If I don't listen to something while I walk or exercise my brain seems to absolutely lose its ability to think. After a while I start mindlessly counting my steps. It's agonizing. Even when I've tried to use that time for prayer, after a while I can't think of anything more to pray about and it's 1, 2, 3, 4, aaauugh. You'd think I could be alone in my mind for a while!"

This book describes a practice, which I've read about elsewhere (in an online resource about centering prayer), where you focus on a prayer word or phrase, such as the name "Jesus," or the Jesus prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me," or a Bible verse.  You keep repeating that "prayer word" in your mind to keep it focused. Inevitably your mind will wander, but you don't get upset when that happens, you simply return to your prayer word:

The basic instruction in the practice of contemplation remains fundamentally the same throughout its seasons of practice: whenever we become aware that our attention has been stolen, we bring it back to the prayer word united with the breath. The practice is not to sit there trying to have no thoughts or only certain thoughts. As St. Teresa of Avila put it centuries ago, "by trying not to think, we hopelessly stimulate the imagination. . . . The harder you try not to think of anything, the more aroused your mind will become and you will think even more." Nor do we push away thoughts in an attempt to generate a dull blankness. Instead we simply bring our attention back to our practice whenever we find that our attention has been stolen. The challenge lies in its simplicity.