Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Asymmetry

At home I have an icon of Christ Pantocrator, a copy of a 6th Century icon in St. Catherine's Monastery at Mount Sinai, in Egypt. I also have a small card-sized copy of it taped to my keyboard tray at work.


This is one of, if not the, oldest images of Christ in the world. Some speculate that it is the most likely of any icon to portray Jesus' actual appearance, and they also say it has the same facial features as the Shroud of Turin. We can take that as we will.

Pantocrator is a Greek equivalent for Almighty. Christ blesses us with one hand and holds the Gospel in his other hand. The blessing hand, I've read, has two fingers raised symbolizing the two natures of Christ -- human and divine -- and the other three fingers touch each other to represent the Trinity.

What is striking, of course, is the asymmetry. The eyes are different from each other, as are the brows, the two sides of the mouth, and the cheekbones.

Here is one side:



And here is the other:



I've read that this, too, is a reflection of his dual nature. Hm. All of us have asymmetrical faces, just not always as noticeably. Here is a series of myself:



One side:



And the other:


I don't know that this says anything profound about anything, but it's an experiment I wanted to try. I thought how wonderful it would be if someday I could recognize Jesus from his picture. And if he looked at me from behind a door or pillar, I would see one side or the other of him.

I like to have a picture of him at work, just like I have pictures of some family members (and, okay, my dog) to remind me of the love I receive from him, my parents (and, okay, my dog). I have to turn away from my work to look at my family pictures, but while I am working I can see the picture of Christ by my keyboard and remember that he is present with me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Egg nog

What is it? Eggs, sugar, milk, cream, and booze. I saw Martha Stewart make some on TV once that looked mighty good.

Who thought it up? I googled "egg nog history" and found dozens of articles saying the same things in almost the same words. Obviously there is one source somewhere for this information--if it is information and not invention--but I don't know the source and don't know if someone researched this or made it up. Most of what I read all over the web is present in this Wikipedia article.

That article also links to an article on advocaat, a Dutch drink or dessert topping that is much like egg nog. According to my sister-in-law, who is closer to her Dutch roots than I am to mine, advocaat was a ladies' drink--for her parents' generation anyway. Ladies had advocaat and men had jenever, a drink similar to gin.

Cheers! or if you're having advocaat or jenever: Proost!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Insert profundity here

Earlier today, I had an idea for a humorous yet somewhat profound blog entry. Wouldn't you like to read that? So would I. I can't remember what my idea was.

I looked back over old posts this weekend. I blog a bit too much about my sleep patterns: that I'm sleepy, that I want to sleep in, that I slept enough, or that I haven't slept enough.

Oh, well. It could be worse. I recently finished a biography of Martin Luther and it seems much of his personal correspondence was taken up with complaints about and updates on his constipation, hemorrhoids, kidney stones, and the like. No wonder the Great Reformer needed so much grace.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Sunday of Advent - Prophet's Candle

Well, my four-day Thanksgiving weekend is almost over. I did not accomplish as many household tasks as I had hoped, which is certainly a shockingly unexpected outcome that no one could have foreseen, unless they knew me at all. But I did do a couple things, which is better than nothing.

One accomplishment was changing three light bulbs in two ceiling fixtures. I have quite low ceilings, so I stand on the lower step of a two-step ladder, less than a foot off the floor, but it still makes me quite nervous. I have to unscrew a little knob (after some googling, I believe the term is finial) and remove a frosted glass shade, then replace the light bulb(s), then hold the glass shade in place with one hand while twisting the final into place with the other. And somewhere in the process I also usually rinse out the glass shade with water at the kitchen sink because there are always dead bugs in it. Gross.

Another accomplishment was to put seed in the bird feeders in the back yard and hang out a couple of suet cakes nearby. Sometime this year I fell out of the habit of filling the feeders, which needs to be done pretty much every week. I've had two bags of birdseed lying around my house and suet cakes in the fridge for some time now. But today I finally got them out where the birds can eat them. And the squirrels. We get lots of squirrels at our feeders.

This morning in church we sang two of my favorite Advent/Christmas songs: "Of the Father's Love Begotten" and "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel."

Saturday, November 26, 2011

One last bit of Thanksgiving

Before Thanksgiving ends and Advent begins, I want to sneak in this traditional Thanksgiving hymn. We didn't sing it at my church on Thanksgiving, so I found it on Youtube.



We Gather Together

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, wast at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

Words: Theodore Baker, 1894
Dutch folk tune

Tweede Thanksgiving

"Tweede" in Dutch means second. The Dutch often do celebrate a holiday for a second day: Tweede Kerstdag is Second Christmas, for example. So we had our "Tweede Thanksgiving" today with those who couldn't be there for Eerste Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day.

Sitting nicely at the table. Also, keeping hold of Thanksgiving
specialties such as a pumpkin and a glass of apple cider.
Note to followers in the Anglosphere: In the U.S., "cider"
is non-alcoholic apple juice. If it had alcohol, it would be called
"hard cider."
I joked the other day that we had had our quiet Thanksgiving and implied that this one would be our noisy Thanksgiving. There were a few noisy interludes, caused by inter-sibling conflict (who would guess that two kids would want to sit in the rolling desk chair at the table?), but also a lot of pleasant time together.

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for sisters to color
together in unity.
Thanksgiving Day, we had  rainy, windy weather, but today it was just rainy.

I'm glad I still have one more day before going back to work. Tomorrow will be the First Sunday of Advent, which is the beginning of the church year.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Day After Thanksgiving

Yesterday, my parents, sister-in-law, and I had our "quiet" Thanksgiving. Tomorrow we will have a Thanksgiving get-together that will include four much-beloved children. It's likely to be less quiet, but even more joyful.

Today, as the day after Thanksgiving, is the first day of the pop-culture Christmas season in the U.S., as opposed to the catholic church year, in which the Christmas season doesn't start until December 25. It so happens that today is exactly one month before Christmas. I got out a nutcracker and my Nativity set for decorations. I already have a rosemary "tree" that I bought at the grocery store earlier this week. It's a potted rosemary plant cut into the shape of a Christmas tree. I hung some small Christmas balls on it and put it on my kitchen table. I hope it lives. It won't get much light.

My full-size Christmas tree will wait a while longer. I get a cut tree from a tree farm and set it up on a weekend approximately two weeks before Christmas. This year it will be exactly two weeks before Christmas. It's good for a couple weeks and then by New Year's or thereabouts when I take it down it's getting dried out. The local Boy Scouts usually do curbside pickup of trees on the Saturday after New Year's, but I wonder if this year they will do it the day before, since New Year's is a Sunday.

I have Advent candles on order from Monastery Greetings. I hope they arrive before Sunday, but I don't recall exactly when I ordered them. I know I didn't pay extra for any kind of speedy shipping, so if they're late, they're late.

It's nice having a four-day weekend. I met a Bellingham friend for breakfast at a restaurant (Hilltop Restaurant) and we caught up with each other. We both hoped to get lots done around our homes this weekend. We'll see how that goes.

I have Pandora playing Christmas music. I started with "Folk Holidays," which I generally like, but then a song came on that I don't know, when what I want are the old traditional songs. So I switched to "Joy to the World" radio where I had to give a "thumb down" to the first selection because it was some type of new, different way of singing one of the old traditional songs. The next two have been okay. It's so hard to find the perfect station. See, when I listen to Christmas carols, I just want people to sing them, not interpret them in some unique way. Please don't sing Christmas carols as they've never been sung before; please sing them exactly the way they've always been sung. Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving morning, and I'm thankful to be here.

I wish you and yours a blessed Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I (don't really) love a rainy night

I finally remembered. At a certain stoplight on my way home (at the corner of the Guide and Smith Road) I often see a big building, like a huge quonset building, that says Ural Northwest. I wondered if it sold Russian goods because I had a vague recollection that the Urals are in Russia. In a sense I was right, but it turns out Ural is the brand name of a motorcycle.

Tonight, however, I did not see that building down the road. I could barely see the road. It's dark outside now when I leave work, and this evening there was heavy cloud cover obscuring any of the lesser lights that rule the night. To complicate things further, rain covered the pavement with a sheen of water that created lengthened reflections of road signs, traffic lights, and car headlights and taillights. During the part of my commute that lay on Highway 5, the car tires kicked up spray so that it was a little scary to travel at highway speed. In spite of my tension over driving conditions, I struggled with drowsiness.

I struggled with drowsiness again just a few minutes ago when I tried to play Facebook Scrabble. I looked at my letters and started to doze off.

Tomorrow I work, then two days off (a four-day weekend) for Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wild night

It's a wild and windy night out there. I can hear it blowing. I should turn off my computer when I go to bed, in case we have a power outage. I should have turned off my computer at work, too, but I didn't think of it.

Will I feel cozy or sad when I lie in bed listening to the wind? I think I've written before how when I told my dad that hearing the wind at night made me feel ... and I paused, he said, cozy, but I was about to say, sad. He feels how nice it is to be warm and sheltered when he hears the wind. Right now, with the lights on, I don't think much about it, except that the power could go out. But when I lie in the dark I tend to picture a poor stray cat trying to stay warm out there. And the vast darkness with things moving in it.

When I thought of how wild it sounds out there, I knew there was a poem by Emily Dickinson about wild nights. It's fairly suggestive for a woman of her era, or so it seems to me.

Wild nights - Wild nights!
Emily Dickinson (1830–1886)

Wild nights - Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile - the winds -
To a Heart in port -
Done with the Compass -
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden -
Ah - the Sea!
Might I but moor - tonight -
In thee!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Early to bed

Going to bed in a timely fashion tonight because I want to keep getting well. Heading into a short work week. Thanksgiving on Thursday.

Reading on the Kindle:



Waiting in the wings on the Kindle:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Frightful

We are getting some precipitation in the form of the infamous "frozen mix," aka "wintry mix." Just what the doctor ordered. Not.

If you google "frozen mix," you will get a few links about weather but more about blended margaritas. This weather is less fun than a margarita.

So, the weather outside is frightful, but it's not letting it snow.



Oddly, there are no songs (that I know of) about wintry mix. Let it slush, let it slush, let it slush.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Much better

Lots of aspirin/Advil and a good night's sleep have helped. I still have a cough, but that's about it. Maybe a little tiredness, but that might just be the result of a day in the life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What ails me

I started coughing Sunday night, continued Monday, last night could feel it in my throat and chest, coughed a lot today and feel achy. And I feel cold. Driving home from work, I cranked the heat in my car so it got so warm and toasty in there. I was as snug as a bug in rug. I thought of stopping at the drug store to buy cough syrup, but I couldn't stand the idea of getting out of my warm car into the cold, cold air any sooner than necessary.

Necessary was at the bank because I got paid today and I had to deposit my check at the ATM. It was imperative that I replenish my coffers, lest I stage my own private financial crisis.

When I got home I had to feed and walk the dog. His walk is necessary as the great outdoors is his restroom facility. I didn't even take off my commuter coat, though I did add a headband to cover my ears. I took him for the shortest walk possible that still accomplished our mission (if you know what I mean).

Then I went through the house turning up heater units just a little higher than I normally put them. I changed my attire to: long johns, a flannel nightgown, a flannel robe, cotton socks topped by wool socks (I cannot wear wool next to my skin because I am a delicate flower), and I currently have a shawl-like small blanket over my head and shoulders.

The microwave just binged that my Marie Callender's chicken pot pie is heated up. I'm hoping after I eat to work up enough energy for a hot shower. I very much want to go to work tomorrow because missing a day is more bother than working while sick, and I know if I go to work I'll want my hair to be clean. Then, unless I'm completely stupid, early bedtime.

I suspect this is the most exciting blog on the internet tonight. Top my adventure, if you dare!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A title

Reading on my Kindle: Wait for Me! -- a memoir by Deborah Vivien Freeman-Mitford Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, the youngest sister of novelist Nancy Mitford, and the 10th Duchess of Devonshire.



I love Nancy Mitford's novels The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate.



Every one of the daughters in the Mitford family was unusual in some way. The oldest, Nancy, was a talented novelist and biographer; the next, Diana, married Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists; Pamela farmed and cooked and had a blue Aga stove to match her eyes; Unity Mitford idolized Hitler and tried to kill herself when England and Germany went to war, but only succeeded in inflicting brain damage on herself; Jessica Mitford went left where her sisters went right, married and became a true communist and wrote The American Way of Death; and Deborah, the youngest, married a duke's younger son, became a duchess, and helped preserve a great estate.

I've read a good biography of them, The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family, but you would have to be quite interested in the Mitfords to read it. (I was.)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Too soon!

In the 7-day forecast, a week from today, there's a 40% chance of light snow!

The age meme

I got an e-mail from Facebook telling me a friend has a birthday and also how old he's turning. I thought, "Huh, he's older than I am." Then I realized, "No, wait. I'm older than he is."

Sometimes I forget how old I am.

Also, I'm not good at math.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Baby face

People around me seem younger than they used to. On Northwest Cable News (NWCN), every time I see one news anchor, I think, "What? Are you even a high school graduate yet?" Evidently he is.

A friend of my dad's, who's in his 80s, told my dad, "The older I get, the older 'old' gets."

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hymn sing

For some reason when I'm driving, one of two hymn tunes will come into my head, not necessarily my favorite hymns, although good hymns. I will unconsciously start humming either "How Great Thou Art" or "My Jesus I Love Thee." Other hymns require a conscious effort to produce.



Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thursday is the new Friday

Tomorrow is the Friday of my work week, although it's the Thursday of reality. I'm happy to have just one more day to go. I'm anxious about how much I need to get done tomorrow. The down side of a 4-day work week is trying to squish 5 days worth of work into it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

50%

My work week is half over. Two down, two to go.

I'll be checking final election results tomorrow morning.

Monday, November 7, 2011

November Monday

Worked my work day and did a decent amount of work.

Filled out my local ballot this evening. It's due tomorrow. I could mail it, but I think I'll bring it personally to the Auditor's Office. Or maybe I'll swing through the Lynden Library on my way out of town and put it in the drop box.

I am particularly interested in the results for sheriff, county executive, and auditor, and for Initiative 1183 -- concerning "hard liquor."

How did I vote? That's my secret.

It's great to live in this great Republic. Voting is both my duty and a privilege.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November Sunday

A beautiful but cold autumn day. Some good hymns at church. Kind words and some talk about dahlias with a good church member. Visiting aunts and uncles. Pumpkin pie. Put more plants away. Laundry. Sandwiches for the coming work week.

It's a four-day work week, Monday through Thursday. Friday will be Veterans Day.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Herbsttag

Today I took down my hanging plants, which had been lightly nipped by frost this week, and swept the shady side of the deck. It is the beginning of clearing and straightening up the deck for winter.

Tonight we turn the clocks back, and now for a few months I will not see much of my deck and yard by daylight during the work week, only on weekends. I feel some melancholy about that but not an excessive amount. I will probably start seeing more light in February, and start thinking about and possibly buying (although it will be too early) new plants in March. Today I feel the value of a season of dormancy and darkness, although I may tire of it by next February.

Here is a good poem, originally written in German (below) and translated into English:

Autumn Day

Lord: it is time. The summer was immense.
Lay your shadow on the sundials
and let loose the wind in the fields.

Bid the last fruits to be full;
give them another two more southerly days,
press them to ripeness, and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.

Whoever has no house now will not build one anymore.
Whoever is alone now will remain so for a long time,
will stay up, read, write long letters,
and wander the avenues, up and down,
restlessly, while the leaves are blowing.

Translated by Galway Kinnell and Hannah Liebmann, "The Essential Rilke"

Herbsttag

Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr gross.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren lass die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Fruchten voll zu sein;
gieb innen noch zwei sudlichere Tage,
drange sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Susse in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blatter treiben.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke, Paris, Sept. 21, 1902

Nonsense

I was watching "Gardening with Ciscoe" while browsing the internet, and I muted during commercials. So while my attention was distracted, "Ciscoe" ended and another show started. What caught my attention was the closed captioning:

video

Huh?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Anniversary

Today is the 5th anniversary of my oldest brother's death. Today, I reviewed some of my memories of that day, but I can't share them publicly. It would somehow feel disrespectful.

I'll just share that as ALS took his physical strength away, the verse he repeated was from 2 Corinthians 12:9: "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Just the usual

Well, I told the doctor about my knee. He checked it out and didn't see anything unusual. He didn't have a magic pill (darn!), but he did allow as how if I wanted to keep taking Advil I could, as long as it didn't upset my stomach. He referred me for an X-ray, so we can either diagnose or rule out arthritis. I also received a 'flu shot and a booster shot for tetanus and whooping cough, so I am well-inoculated.

Shots have come a long way in my lifetime. Medical professionals used to come at you with a terrifying hypodermic and an inch-long needle, but today's shots were minor prickles, and once I took off the Snoopy band-aids I could hardly find where I had been injected. I don't know exactly what type of tool they used for the shot because I averted my eyes from the action. I cannot watch a needle go into myself (or anyone else). I don't think I would faint, but it would horrify me.

Dave Barry once wrote about how when he was a kid in Armonk, New York, whenever his mom took him to the doctor's office, he was always anxious to leave as soon as possible because the longer his mom and the doctor chatted, the more likely the doctor would suddenly decide to give him a booster shot. Probably not in the arm, either.

In other news, I went to work and did my job. On my Kindle I downloaded the complete Anthony Trollope. That's a big file. At home, I am reading a thick biography of Beatrix Potter, which I bought on Saturday at the Katz book store in Lynden--a used book store.



What with walking the dog, microwaving a TV dinner (as they were called in the misty past of my youth), and brushing my teeth, I'm quite dizzy from the excitement of my day!

That reminds me that yesterday I was driving to work, when I started to think of things I could complain about, instead I named some things to be thankful for, and sang a rousing chorus of "Count Your Blessings." At work, a co-worker asked, "How are you doing?" I turned around and told her, "I'm counting my blessings." She found that amusing, in a good way. She also is a church-goer, so I think she caught my allusion. She even offered a suggestion, which was that coffee was a blessing. I heartily agreed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Snap, crackle, pop

The title of this post signifies the sounds my joints make when I move around. Well, specifically, it's the one knee. After I sit a while, when I first stand up my knee hurts badly. After a few painful steps, it snaps audibly and then it still hurts but not as badly.

Tomorrow afternoon I have a doctor's appointment. I say that to anticipate my sister's question: When are you going to see a doctor about your knee?

Think they'll have a pill that will fix it?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Catching up

Oops. I last wrote Saturday and now it's Tuesday. It was a busier weekend than usual for me. I shopped on Saturday afternoon for a gift for my nephew's birthday. Saturday night I went to a Harry Potter-themed party. Sunday afternoon was my nephew's birthday celebration.

Last night, my niece and her kids came over to use our house as a base for trick-or-treating. They live in the country, where the houses are too far apart and the roads too dark and lacking shoulders or sidewalks for kids to trick-or-treat. So they come here and trick-or-treat in our neighborhood.

My youngest niece, age 4, was not along. She was sick -- sick to her stomach -- and had to stay home with daddy while her siblings went trick-or-treating. I heard she was very, very sad about this and shed many tears. I don't blame her. Just think, no Halloween again for a whole year. For her, that's 1/4 of her whole life! That would be like 12 years for me. Poor little sweetie.

Here she is with her mom on a happier day.