Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Over

Today was even more trying than yesterday, but it's over, and February is over. Tomorrow will be the 1st day of March, the month of spring, of new beginnings, and a new epoch will begin for me as well.

As I go to sleep tonight, this is my chosen meditation:

Psalm 121

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Non-firing synapses

A rather trying day, starting with a mental lapse whereby I thought it was an hour earlier than it really was. I am weary.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Perfume and incense

Went out after work with a very kind and encouraging co-worker. Also, smart and funny. God brings wonderful people into our lives sometimes. He gives us (we humans) the gift of each other to enjoy.

A friend loves at all times,
and a brother (or sister) is born for a time of adversity.
Proverbs 17:17

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
Proverbs 27:9

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Winter winding down

I took this picture yesterday (Saturday). It's a bit blurry, but I think it's a clump of female catkins from an alder tree, and alder pollen was the likely culprit of my allergy attack Friday night.


I also took this picture, showing that the deck is still a bit forlorn in the late winter, drifts of leaves, wet surfaces, moss in the cracks.

I do not have Marianne Dashwood's passion for dead leaves.

But because this is the Evergreen State, the yard stays nice and green all winter. There actually are buds in some of the trees and shrubs. Spring is almost here.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Life goes on

Well, a most unproductive Saturday, although I did take a nice little nap in the late afternoon.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tree pollen

My nose was itching earlier tonight, and my sister-in-law suspected it was the pollen of alder trees, as a co-worker of hers is allergic and had been feeling the effects.

Just about 15 minutes ago I started a major sneeze-fest. I sometimes hesitate to take antihistamines because they lead a secret double life as sleeping pills, but tonight I reasoned that it's Friday and I can sleep as long as I want tomorrow so who cares if they knock me out, so I took some.

Oh the relief of Friday night and the bliss of Saturday morning.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Surviving

This has been a tiring week. I'm glad tomorrow is Friday. I'll be gladder, if that is a word, at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Make hay

Bird song again. It's supposed to be nice today but lousy overnight, perhaps as lousy as snow. I'll have to enjoy today's weather.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sightseeing

I had today off from work for Presidents Day. This morning when I was just about to walk my dog I glanced out the window and saw a big blue heron standing right in our back yard. I found my camera, but by the time I had turned it on and aimed it, he had taken off. I tried to take a picture of him as he started flying but ended up with a blurry picture of one of the support posts of the upper deck. So here is a picture from Wikipedia of the kind of bird it was:

This file is licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Attribution: Mbz1 at en.wikipedia.
I took my camera with me outside, but had to settle for some less exciting pictures of the following signs of spring:

Young chives sending up blades in my herb barrel.
 
Leaves budding on my honeysuckle.
Since I had the day off, I took my folks for a drive around the county. My dad likes to do that. First we took a look at the drying tower of the Darigold milk-drying plant (i.e. it turns milk into powdered milk), where there was a fire Saturday night. Then we drove out to the country road where my dad grew up and drove the length of the road, and then we just meandered around the county looking at berry fields, houses, and the countryside in general.

It was nice having the day off. Tomorrow it's back to work.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Father of the year

Here is a touching post by a man who longed to have what I have, namely, a dad who's there when you need him. My dad has been and continues to be a wonderful father to me and my siblings.


World's Greatest Dad

Saturday, February 18, 2012

O crocus root, how do you know?

I saw the tips of crocus and daffodils today, and the buds of leaves-to-be on my honeysuckle. It was cold, rainy, and windy today but spring is inexorably advancing.

The Year’s Awakening

by Thomas Hardy

How do you know that the pilgrim track
Along the belting zodiac
Swept by the sun in his seeming rounds
Is traced by now to the Fishes’ bounds
And into the Ram, when weeks of cloud
Have wrapt the sky in a clammy shroud,
And never as yet a tinct of spring
Has shown in the Earth’s apparelling;
O vespering bird, how do you know,
How do you know?

How do you know, deep underground,
Hid in your bed from sight and sound,
Without a turn in temperature,
With weather life can scarce endure,
That light has won a fraction’s strength,
And day put on some moments’ length,
Whereof in merest rote will come,
Weeks hence, mild airs that do not numb;
O crocus root, how do you know,
How do you know?

February 1910

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lack of memory

Today was unmemorable. Work. Reading books I've read before. A little rain. It was Thursday. Didn't Chesterton write a book The Man Who Was Thursday? I tried to read it but couldn't get into it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Humor is a funny thing

I once loaned a novel by Barbara Pym to a friend, assuring her it was hilarious. She didn't find it funny. I have been re-reading my Barbara Pym novels and tonight laughed at these two sections of An Unsuitable Attachment

[A somewhat prissy male character asks out his female co-worker.] "I suppose these clothes will be all right?" she said. "I hadn't expected to be going out."

"Oh, a woman always looks suitably dressed in a grey costume," he said, in a way which did not add to her feeling of gaity.

[At the restaurant:] "Now I can recommend the pate because Eric makes it all himself from pig's liver and fat bacon."

Ianthe felt sickened by this description and chose soup instead.

You read those, and either they are funny to you or they are not. To me, they are.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Don't worry

Okay, so Matthew 6 says, Don't worry about tomorrow.

Easier said than done. What should we do instead?

Seek his kingdom and his righteousness.

What does that mean?

Well, what do the words mean? What is God's kingdom? What is God's righteousness?

Hm. Matthew abounds with descriptions of the kingdom. It is near. It is good seed among tares. It is a mustard seed. It is yeast worked into dough. It is a treasure hidden in a field and a pearl of great price. It is a net that catches all kinds of fish. It is a settling of accounts and forgiveness of debt. It belongs to children and those like children but is difficult of access for the rich. It is payment for work where some get more than they deserve. It is a wedding banquet. It is a bridegroom who shows up unexpectedly and an absentee boss who comes back to see what his employees have produced.

Righteousness includes not publicly disgracing the pregnant girl you were engaged to. We should hunger and thirst for it, we may be persecuted for it, and we need more of it than the Pharisees had (and they had a lot of it). It makes no difference in the rainfall. We should do it secretly. We should welcome those who have it. It is the difference between wheat and tares and between good fish and bad fish. It is the way that John the Baptizer showed. It is feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, inviting the stranger in, clothing the needy, visiting the sick, and visiting the prisoner.

Or as the prophet Micah put it: "And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).

Do this instead of worrying. And while you're doing it, God will take care of all the stuff you're worrying about.

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:31-34.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Just right

I went to Sacred Space, and they had just the right words in their introduction that I needed to hear tonight:

In hard times, it is important to remember that God has a springtime in store for us and for our tired world. God will make everything new. Beyond all our shattered hopes and dreams, something wonderful and transformative will make us forget the tears and pain and drudgery of life.

Listening pleasure

Today I am home from work with my cold. I am trying be quiet and meditative so that I can improve the health of my whole self, body and soul. It occurs to me, as Lent approaches, that perhaps in Lent I could try to read the Sermon on the Mount daily, although that is a long passage, three chapters. Today I was thinking mainly of the admonition not to worry about providing for ourselves but to seek God's kingdom first. What does that mean for me, in specific actions? I simply have to keep asking the question and wait for an answer.

I came to my computer and went to Bible Gateway to look up the passage, Matthew 6:25-34. I discovered something I had not really noticed before, which is that you can listen to the Bible a chapter at a time on Bible Gateway as well. I listened to Matthew 6 first in the King James Version, then in the New International Version. (There have been several issuances of the NIV; the one I listened to varied slightly from the one I was viewing, mainly in that the one I was viewing had been tweaked to be gender-neutral, so that the voice said "men" while the print said "others.") Listening like that could help me slow down and focus more, plus it's always a pleasure to hear good reading. It would be computer-aided lectio divina.

So, for your listening pleasure and edification, here is a link to Psalm 23 (KJV) read aloud, and you can follow along:
  1. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  2. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
  3. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
  4. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
  5. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
  6. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Day of rest

So my Sunday is less busy than I anticipated because I'm not feeling well. I have a severe cold. It seems like I had a cold not too long ago, and browsing back over my blog I see I had one in November. I don't usually catch so many colds so close together. I think it is stress making me more vulnerable to getting sick.

Anyway, I'm spending today at home, drinking lots of water, blowing my nose, reading books, mouth-breathing, reading stuff on the internet, coughing, sitting and looking out the window, and dozing.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Soft focus

So here I am at the satellite broadcast of the Calvin-Hope basketball game. (Calvin lost. Boo.) I'm kind of out of focus, presumably because of the back lighting, but I still kind of like this picture.

Moi

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Looking weekend-wards

Well, well. So tomorrow is Friday. Sounds good. I have a busier weekend than usual ahead of me. Saturday is the famous "Rivalry." My alma mater, Calvin College, plays basketball against their arch-rival, Hope College. Calvin is in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Hope is in Holland, Michigan. Calvin is affiliated with the Christian Reformed Church, and Hope is affiliated with the Reformed Church. When Calvin and Hope play basketball, it is televised by satellite so that alumni can watch it.

When I was a student at Calvin and attended Calvin-Hope games, I literally went crazy. And when I say literally, I know what the word means (i.e., not as you see many people use it when they mean not literally but figuratively, metaphorically, or the like). My brain did not function normally, I got caught up in the mob mentality, and I went crazy. Fortunately, it was a fairly contained and controlled mass insanity that took over the crowd at the games, although sometimes the Grand Rapids Press would get sniffy about how we could presume to set ourselves up as a Christian community and still display such animosity at our games. But the Grand Rapids Press liked to sneer at Calvin.

The local alumni will gather at Milt's Pizza Place in Lynden. That is a so much nicer venue than the sports bar where we used to go in Bellingham. At the other place--the name of which escapes me at the moment and which I think has since closed down--we were assigned one TV out of many and other customers at the bar wondered who the heck we were and why our game should be on. The place had pool tables and if smoking were still allowed in restaurants definitely would have been smoke-filled. In fact it was a sports bar, emphasis on the bar. Milt's is a much more family-friendly place, and they make great pizza. We filled up our area and the whole atmosphere was more gezellig. Milt's is clean and sun-lit.

Then on Sunday a family wedding.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mid-week

Man, I am tired. Long day at work. I will try to go to bed right on time tonight so hopefully I'll have better energy tomorrow. The dishwasher is running. That's a good sound to go to sleep to. I have a pot of coffee loaded into the coffee maker to start brewing tomorrow about 15 minutes before I should get up. So I'm set for the morning. And I already made my brown-bag sandwiches for the week. All I need to do now is relax.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Excellently bright

Absolutely a beautiful moonrise tonight while I was driving home. The moon truly is full tonight and when it came up it was big and golden. I did not know until someone pointed it out to me a few years ago that the moon looks large and yellow when it is near the horizon and smaller and white when it is higher in the sky.

Sometimes on my drive the moon was behind trees, and it made me think of the line of a song, something like "moonlight through the pines," but I couldn't think of what it was. Now that I'm home, through the miracle of google, I found that line comes from "Georgia on My Mind." For some reason I had been thinking it was some old Linda Ronstadt tune. Googled some more and found "The Moon's a Harsh Mistress," which has the line, "The moon a phantom rose through the mountains and the pine."

Then there's Ben Jonson's "Hymn to Diana":

Queen, and huntress, chaste and fair,
Now the sun is laid to sleep,
Seated in thy silver chair,
State in wonted manner keep:
Hesperus entreats thy light,
Goddess excellently bright.

Earth, let not thy envious shade
Dare itself to interpose;
Cynthia's shining orb was made
Heaven to clear when day did close:
Bless us then with wish├Ęd sight,
Goddess excellently bright.

Lay thy bow of pearl apart,
And thy crystal shining quiver;
Give unto the flying hart
Space to breathe, how short soever:
Thou that mak'st a day of night,
Goddess excellently bright.

This poem also functions as a compliment to Elizabeth I of England, the Virgin Queen.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Waxing

Well, I had e-mails today from family members here and there, and it seems we were all not so much pro-New England Patriots as anti-New York Giants. New York teams have that effect on the rest of the country.

Tonight I stayed a little extra at work. All day I was on one project and then at the end of the day made some phone calls. So when I came out, sunset was over, but the sky was a brilliant blue. Within minutes it turned dark blue, indigo perhaps. The moon was large and bright. For a few moments I thought it was full, but then I realized it was still a sliver short. According to my google "Current Moon Phase" gadget, it's 99% of full. It's waxing.

I think that "waxing" means simply "growing" or "increasing." It's an old-fashioned term. We still use it for the moon, and it lingers in the phrase "waxing eloquent." (Where does that come from?) In the King James Version Bible, I believe it was used both of Samuel and Jesus. I'll go check at Bible Gateway.

There are 72 occurrences of the word "wax" in the King James Bible. Four of them are uses of the noun "wax," the substance that melts easily. The rest are the verb. I was wrong about Samuel. The Gospel of Luke talks about children "waxing strong," about John the Baptizer in Luke 1:80, and about Jesus in Luke 2:40.

It seems that sometimes "to wax" means "to become" because you can wax weak, too.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Sunday

I watched the Super Bowl today. I don't really watch football, but I like to keep my dad company for the Super Bowl. My dad will watch football during the season, but his true love is baseball. But we watched. It was two East Coast teams, so we had no emotional investment in the outcome. We rooted for the New England Patriots rather than the New York Giants because, in baseball we will always root for anyone other than the New York Yankees, so we just transferred that principle to another sport. The Patriots lost however, but in a close game that seriously could have gone either way until the last couple minutes.

Watching the Super Bowl is a cultural event in the U.S. "Cultural" in the sense that it's part of our general, popular culture, not high-brow culture. You're supposed to watch the Super Bowl on TV with friends, while eating junk food and drinking beer. My dad and I ate a modest helping of junk food (chips and dip) and my dad had a beer.

You're also supposed to watch and rate the commercials. Super Bowl advertising is the most expensive advertising on TV, so advertisers sink a lot of money into the ads and hope to be the one everyone talks about "around the water cooler"--i.e. at work--on Monday. I was hoping that this year the commercials wouldn't be too gross, in the sense of grossly suggestive and loaded with sexual innuendo. That's kind of disgusting to watch, especially with one's elderly parents. Most were not too bad, except those for some kind of web service called go daddy.

My dad said that much of the time he doesn't understand the commercials and sometimes he can't even figure out what they're advertising. Most of them seemed to be advertising either cars or beer. One Honda commercial had actor Matthew Broderick doing a parody of his movie "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." When some of my co-workers talked about this one last week, I didn't bring up the fact that I've never seen that movie. I do know the general storyline and some of the better-known scenes. But my dad has never heard of it, so when the commercial ended I told him, "That whole commercial was a satire of a movie that actor was in that you've never seen." Dad shrugged.

The half -time show was a performance by Madonna. Madonna has been around a long time. Some of her music I don't mind hearing, but seeing her perform is distasteful. She's pretty much always gross in the sense of lewdly suggestive in her onstage antics, or if not lewd then offensive. She didn't reach the heights, or rather plumb the depths, attained by Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson a few years back, but after watching this 53-year-old do a few squats in front of the TV camera, I opted to take my dog for a walk in the fresh air. I don't know why the Super Bowl gets these rock stars whose schtick is lasciviousness. Who do they think is watching? I wish they would get entertainers that you could watch in the company of your grandma and your first-grader without cringing. Of course, even if I were alone, I'd probably cringe to watch Madonna.

I'm sick of the coarsening of our culture. Let's re-refine it instead of coarsening it.

But it was a good game and overall it was a pleasant afternoon because I was hanging out with my dad.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I can see clearly now the rain is gone

Once again, the sun was not quite down when I left work. Darkness fell as I drove home, so that by the time I got home, it was full dark, but for a good portion of the drive I had light to see the countryside. It seemed such a sudden and drastic increase in daylight the last couple evenings, but then I figured out it was probably because there is no cloud cover, which made it even darker than it needed to be on the rainy evenings.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Up and down

This evening when I left work, I left on time, and it was not even twilight--it was still sunset. On the downside this evening at home I am either having a severe allergy attack or starting a cold.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A good word

Today is the first day of February. February is one month closer to spring than January is, and it's shorter, which helps spring come sooner. It was twilight instead of night again when I started my drive home from work. And while I was at work I noticed through the window that we were getting some sunshine. I heard birds twitter.

Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad. (Proverbs 12:25)

Water, water everywhere

This morning when I was just about ready to leave for work I knocked over a full glass of water, which shattered and splashed water over the kitchen floor. I made some outcry of distress and frustration, and the dog came running to see what all the excitement was about. While I used up a quarter of a roll of paper towels soaking up the water and wiping up the glass splinters, I had to keep telling him, "No! Get back!" or he would have walked right into the mess and probably gotten glass in his paws.

Am I one?

Well, so what's been happening in my life lately? Last night, the front cover fell off my copy of Excellent Womenby Barbara Pym.

A well-read book