Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A vsion for the new year

Okay, so somewhere seven swans are swimming. The lectionary Gospel passage is the beautiful first chapter of John.

It's also New Year's Eve. What thoughts are appropriate there? I went over to youtube and searched "New Year's hymns," and among the results was the lovely song, "Be Thou my Vision." I watched a few videos but couldn't find one where both the visuals and the singing pleased me. So here are the words -- sing them yourself, if you choose:

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven's joys, O bright Heaven's Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

It's a worthy prayer. May God bring it to fruition in all of us in the coming year.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Old lady

Well, and today is simply the 6th Day of Christmas, not, apparently, anyone's Feast Day. The Gospel passage tells the story of Anna the prophetess, who, like Simeon, adored the infant Christ when he was presented at the temple.

There was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they [Joseph and Mary] had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Luke 2:36-40



Gotta love a story about an old lady who knows what's what.

Disorderly

Funny thing about Christmastide. It comes right at the darkest time of the year. Did you ever notice that?*

I've mentioned my struggles with waking up when it's dark out, my general non-morning-personness, and my night-owliness. It's been particularly bad for me lately. Yesterday, I was sleepy all day, even dozing at the computer, so I finally lay down in the evening to go to sleep and little by little I woke up until I was quite perky as the night wore on. So I went on an internet search engine and searched: during the day I can't stay awake and at night I can't sleep.

I followed a link to an article at Lifehack called Tired in the morning and awake at night? Here is a REAL solution. The author wrote about his own sleep pattern:

It’s truly a bizarre pattern of dead tired mornings, walking around like a jet-lagged zombie, followed by a tortuous afternoon in desperate need of a nap, and finally an evening where I start to wake up.

That sounded exactly like me, and he offered the diagnosis Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. Sounds impressive. He even called it a sleep disorder. Everything has a diagnostic label these days. People used to be larks or night owls, but now night owls have a sleep disorder. Just like a kid used to be pesky but now he's got ADHD, and people used to be odd or eccentric but now there's a DSM-IV code for any weird way you might be. I don't know if that's good or bad, or if I really have a sleep disorder, but I do know my sleep issues make life more difficult for me.

Oh, what a beautiful morning.

The lifehack dude recommended a light therapy device. I've heard of these as treatment to help your mood if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder (yet another disorder!) but not to help regulate your sleep. Since this guy's story sounded so much like mine and he testified that the device was helpful, I ordered one from Amazon. I don't know how long ago he wrote his article but I got the impression that the specific device he mentioned was obsolete, so I ordered a later model. It should arrive in 5-8 business days, so then I'll give it a try and see if it helps. I've seen other light therapy tools that were considerably more spendy, so I'm glad this one was not astronomically expensive.

I remember once watching a Today Show segment about how to wake up more easily, and one thing they kept saying was "Look to the light" and, every time they said it, they would show a little film clip of curtains opening and sunlight streaming in. Trouble is, in the wintertime around here, if I throw open the curtains when I wake up, it's still total darkness outside.

I had a friend at my previous church who used a light therapy device. She said her young son called it her Lite-Brite.

Anyway, we'll see if it helps.

----------------------------------------------

* Yes, I know that's on purpose. The date for the celebration of Christ's coming was chosen for its symbolic value. Under the calendar of the time, it was winter solstice, so that as soon as the church celebrated the incarnation, the light began to increase. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Flight

Today is day 5 of the 12 days of Christmas.

The focus is on the Holy Family (Joseph, Mary, and Jesus), and the Gospel passage is about the flight into Egypt -- to escape Herod's attempt to kill Jesus.



When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”

Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt I called my son" [Hosea 11:1]....

When Herod had died, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”

He rose, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel....

And because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee. He went and dwelt in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazorean" [unknown reference].

Matthew 2:13-14, 19-21, 22b-23

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lully Lullay

Today is day 4 of the 12 days of Christmas.

In the traditional church calendar, it is the feast day of the Holy Innocents, commemorating the victims in one of the saddest stories in the Bible:

When the magi had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.” Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. He stayed there until the death of Herod, that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled, "Out of Egypt I called my son" [Hosea 11:1].

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

     A voice was heard in Ramah,
     sobbing and loud lamentation;
     Rachel weeping for her children,
     and she would not be consoled,
     since they were no more.
        [Jeremiah 31:15]

Matthew 2:13-18

One of the most poignant tunes of the season, the Coventry carol comes from a medieval mystery play and commemorates this heartrending event:

Friday, December 27, 2013

Eagle and sun gaze at each other

I went looking on the web for a poem related to St. John the Evangelist and found that Christina Rossetti had written a number of Christmastide poems. I am not sure whether the following is one poem written in two stages or two poems on the same subject.

It helps when reading to know that, in iconography, John the Evangelist and his Gospel are often represented by or accompanied by an eagle. Each of the Gospels has a symbol: Matthew, a man; Mark, a lion; Luke, an ox; and John, an eagle. It also helps to know that people used to believe that the eagle was the only animal that could gaze into the sun (information from this article: The Man, The Ox, The Lion, and The Eagle, by Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.).

St. John The Apostle

Feast Day: December 27

Source: The Poetical Works of Christina Georgina Rossetti, with a Memoir and Notes by William Michael Rossetti (1904), page 159

Earth cannot bar flame from ascending,
Hell cannot bind light from descending,
Death cannot finish life never ending.

Eagle and sun gaze at each other,
Eagle at sun, brother at Brother,
Loving in peace and joy one another.

O St. John, with chains for thy wages,
Strong thy rock where the storm-blast rages,
Rock of refuge, the Rock of Ages.

Rome hath passed with her awful voice,
Earth is passing with all her joys,
Heaven shall pass away with a noise.

So from us all follies that please us,
So from us all falsehoods that ease us,–
Only all saints abide with their Jesus.

Jesus, in love looking down hither,
Jesus, by love draw us up thither,
That we in Thee may abide together.

Before 1893

'Beloved, let us love one another,' says St. John,
Eagle of eagles calling from above:
Words of strong nourishment for life to feed upon,
'Beloved, let us love.'

Voice of an eagle, yea, Voice of the Dove:
If we may love, winter is past and gone;
Publish we, praise we, for lo it is enough.

More sunny than sunshine that ever yet shone,
Sweetener of the bitter, smoother of the rough,
Highest lesson of all lessons for all to con,
'Beloved, let us love.'

Before 1886

Beloved

Day 3 of the 12 days of Christmas and the Feast Day of St. John the Evangelist.

The lectionary contains this passage from the First Epistle of St. John:

Beloved:
What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life —
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us—
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.
I John 1:1-4

I love that he addresses his congregants as "beloved"and "little children":

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. I John 4:7

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. I John 3:18

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Feast of Saint Stephen

It is day 2 of the 12 days of Christmas, the feast-day of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59

Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke.

....

When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said,

“Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. 

As they were stoning Stephen, he called out,

“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”

Also:

It is the night that Good King Wencelsas looked out and, under the bright moonlight that shone on the deep, crisp, even snow, saw a poor man gathering wood.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Sometimes called the Angels' Candle.



Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel [God with us].
Isaiah 7:14

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Third Sunday of Advent

Sometimes called the Shepherds' Candle.

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Today's readings seem to have the recurring theme of the healing and freeing of the disabled and imprisoned, and in general relief to the suffering:

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.

Isaiah 35:5-6

The LORD God keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
The LORD gives sight to the blind;
the LORD raises up those who were bowed down.

Psalm 146:6-9

Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates.
Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters,
the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

James 5:9-10

Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you hear and see:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

Matthew 11:4-6

Last week and this week the Gospel readings were related to John the Baptist, which is not conducive to a sentimental, cozy enjoyment of the Christmas season. That is because the world's calendar and the church calendar are not in sync. By the world's calendar (using the world to mean popular culture in my own world), we are currently in the Christmas season. It starts the day after Thanksgiving and ends by dinnertime on Christmas. It is about buying presents, decorating the house, going to parties, and opening presents. After the presents are open, the decorations are messy, the kids are screaming, and you have to go back to work tomorrow. Christmas is over, though "the holidays" linger until New Year's, the aftermath of which is still more dreary because there really is no more holiday ahead.

But by the church calendar (and here I am relying on the Roman Catholic Church -- my fellow members of the catholic church), Advent is a penitential season, like Lent. The church's Christmas Season starts on December 25 and lasts through January 5 (the twelve days of Christmas).  January 6th is Epiphany, and that is the day the Wise Men come. The season of Epiphany lasts until Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

So, anyway, some of the readings do seem more penitential than celebratory, and that is why.

John the Baptist, for me, is not comfortable reading. He's odd, for one thing, wearing animal skins and eating locusts and wild honey. Is that really necessary? And his rhetoric is distasteful. Always calling people hypocrites and broods of vipers, talking about axes and fire. But, there he is, in the Bible, in the Gospels, commended by and loved by Jesus, so we've got to read about him and at least listen to him and hope it does us good.

(I am back-dating this post, because I did not get to it on the actual Third Sunday of Advent.)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Second Sunday of Advent

I've heard it called the Bethlehem Candle.

Today's lectionary readings have the common theme that salvation is for the gentiles as well as Israel. God's salvation in Christ is for all people -- every nation and every tribe.



The earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea.

Sunday mornings

For quite a while, now, I'm having a hard time getting to church on Sunday mornings. It started when they changed the worship time. We used to have two morning services, one with contemporary music at 8:30 a.m. and one with traditional music at 11:00 a.m. I went to the 11:00 a.m. traditional service. Both the time and the liturgy suited me. I loved having a leisurely Sunday morning.

The church leaders, quite reasonably, made a decision to have just one morning service. They thought it would be better for congregational unity -- we were in danger of becoming two congregations instead of one. Also, I can imagine that preaching twice every Sunday morning was demanding for the pastor. Preaching really pulls it out you. And having to staff the nursery and children's worship twice every week would stretch our resources. So it was all a very reasonable, probably wise, decision, and I totally see the point.

The one worship service we now have is at 9:30 a.m., and I would say that the contemporary style dominates. That was always the more popular service.

I have never quite made the adjustment, even though it has probably been a couple years since the change. It is not so much the worship style that is driving the problem, it is the earlier time. If I am going to attend a 9:30 worship service, I need to set an alarm, strictly get myself up at a particular time, move briskly to get ready, and get out the door promptly.

Instead, I sleep until I wake up naturally. Then I move slowly. I find that quiet morning at home delightful. I drink a cup of coffee and look out the window at the yard. I don't have any noise and I often don't turn on the lights for a long time, just let the sunlight -- whether bright or overcast -- do what it will. I don't want to go anywhere, not even church, and frequently I don't -- until later in the morning, around 11:30, when certain family obligations call me. It's like a little hidden time for me.

That's where I am right now.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tomorrow is Friday

This week, Friday has been a long time coming. And when it comes, will it be worth the wait?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

First Sunday of Advent

The prophets' candle.

Advent is about awaiting the coming of the Lord. We re-live the anticipation of his birth, but we also continuously live the anticipation of his return. The first Sunday of Advent is focused on the Second Coming. The Gospel passage, Matthew 24:37-44, is not about the manger, or the angel, or the shepherds, or the wise men, or anything else we connect with the Baby Jesus. It's the Man Jesus warning of his unexpected return.

Prophets foretold his coming both in the humble form of a suffering servant and in the majestic form of a triumphant king.

Jesus himself prophesies about his own coming: ... keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.... be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

We await the great and glorious Day of the Lord by living as people of the light. Another passage for today is Romans 13:11-14.



And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Amazing

Amazingly, tomorrow is the first day of December and the first Sunday of Advent. For me the year has flown by. I lost one job at the end of January, went to visit my sister in California in February, started my new job in March, had a visit from my brother in June and from my sister in October, and along the way celebrated holidays and family birthdays. Gatherings at my home and my relatives' homes, and barbecues in the back yard. This weekend, Thanksgiving, and coming soon Christmas, then it all starts over again.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Home day

Today I spent quietly at home. That is my favorite kind of day. There were some household tasks I wanted to get done, and I did get a start on them, a little bit. But, hey, the night is young -- I still may get more done. I'm a bit of a night owl and sometimes get a second wind around 10:00 p.m.

My trouble with cleaning is that I get distracted by details. I spent an inordinate amount of time today sorting through the toys in the toybox in the room where I let my little great-nieces play. I found some pieces missing from some puzzles, threw away a few broken items, and organized the toys into groups that will last until the next time the little girls open the toybox and play with anything inside it.

Most of the toys are from when my siblings and I were young, meaning they are between 50-60 years old. They are mostly wooden blocks (including a Playskool Duffle Bag O'Blocks) along with a few Lincoln Logs, a few Fiddlesticks, and a few Matchbox cars. They have been well played with for three generations now.

From a few years ago -- the latest generation playing with the toys. She has fiddlesticks in her hand,
and you can see a couple of the Playskool blocks and a little car on the floor nearby,
plus a few other odds and ends 
.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving

Today I am thankful for the time I'm anticipating with my family. Good food, good people, a good time.

Wednesday's thanks

Human kindness. Caring for one another.

For the joy of human love,
brother, sister, parent, child,
friends on earth, and friends above,
for all gentle thoughts and mild,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of thankful praise.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

From then to now

Today I am thankful for church history. Lots of mistakes we've made, but lots of beauty, devotion, and love. And so it still is.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Good idea

Today I am thankful for human ingenuity. From the internet to bottles and bottle openers to making clothes out of plants and animals. Go figure.

Our creativity is an aspect of our being created in the image of God the Creator.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Video

Today I am thankful for good TV shows and movies. Lots of talent from lots of people required to turn out a good product.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Many thanks

Thursday: I am thankful for my warm, cozy blankets and bed.

Friday: I am thankful for mochas, and coffee in general.

Saturday: I am thankful for music. Also, Jane Austen.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Swans

Today I am thankful for ... swans. Lots of them on the wing lately. They are beautiful creatures.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Harvest

Today I am thankful for the turning of the seasons. Autumn is giving way to winter. I always joke that winter is my fourth favorite season, and that's a fact. Still, it is right that the seasons should succeed one another. As the Lord said, while savoring Noah's offering:

As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.

Elizabeth von Arnim remarks:

It is delightful and instructive to potter among one's plants, but it is imperative for body and soul that the pottering should cease for a few months, and that we should be made to realise that grim other side of life. A long hard winter lived through from beginning to end without shirking is one of the most salutary experiences in the world.

The Solitary Summer

And in the encouraging words of Percy Bysshe Shelley:

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

Ode to the West Wind

Monday, November 18, 2013

Word and food

Yesterday: I am thankful for the Bible.

Today: I am thankful for sufficient food. I have never had to go hungry.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Whoosh

Today I am thankful for indoor plumbing and hot and cold running water.

Which reminds me of a story. (A true story from my own life.) I recently had a garbage disposal installed under my kitchen sink. My sister and her husband were visiting and the whole family came over for dinner. My sister, who is a wonderful cook, made dinner. She rinsed some food scraps into the garbage disposal and announced she would be the first to use it. She turned it on and clatter, clang, bonk. She turned it off. "Oops. There was a spoon in there." So we all agreed that she was demonstrating what not to do. Thanks, sis!

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Information highway

Hey! I know what! Today I'll be thankful for the internet! Because of the internet, I can blog. I can see friends on Facebook. I can look songs up on youtube. I can order books from Amazon. I can browse randomly from one site to another. I can exchange e-mails with my family.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

That's life

Hm. What should I be thankful for today? Today was notable only for its ordinariness. I got up, I went to work, I came home. I guess I can be thankful for health and strength to live my ordinary life.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Good for what ails ya

Today I am thankful for modern medicine. Over the course of my lifetime:

Antibiotics saved my life when I had spinal meningitis.

I had hyperparathyroidism, which causes kidney stones, depression, and sometime osteoporosis. Surgery cured me.

I had kidney stones accompanied by severe nausea. Anti-nausea drugs kept me from the discomfort and dehydration of endless vomiting. Narcotics eased my pain. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy broke up the large stones without invasive surgery so I could pass them, and a scope procedure and temporary stent took care of complications.

Thyroid issues were affecting my emotional well-being. Surgery and pharmaceuticals have provided equilibrium.

General anesthesia made surgical procedures painless.

I had a severe allergic reaction to an ointment I used on my skin. Prednisone brought it under control.

And the list goes on.

Last night, as a result of holding and using the leaf blower for a long time, my arm was sore. When I went to bed, it throbbed with pain. I took an ibuprofen and fell asleep. I woke up an hour later still in pain. I took another ibuprofen. I slept all night and felt fine in the morning. Now my arm feels a little sore again. I took some ibuprofen and am eagerly waiting for it to kick in.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Natural woman

Today I am thankful for -- Nature would be the greater category, but specifically I am thankful for my yard.

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The green Japanese maple -- gold for fall

I spent a long time outside today, first blowing leaves off the gravel parking space, then mowing the lawn.

The gravel area had not a carpet of leaves but more like a wading pool of them. I have an electric leaf blower and a long extension cord and I wielded the same to clear out shin-deep magnolia leaves. I couldn't help but consider the fact that the magnolia tree is my neighbor's, not mine, but on the other hand, I enjoy the blooms in the spring, so I do get some benefit out of it. Nevertheless, as I fully realized today, a magnolia is a messy tree. Anyway, I ended up with a very large amount of leaves on the cement driveway.

I hoped that I could clean them up with the riding lawnmower, but they just clogged it up. The pile was too deep. So I let it be while I mowed the lawn. That took longer than usual because of the leaves all over the back yard. The above picture of the maple shows the "before" situation. Pretty, but can't be left that way for the winter. Almost every time that I made a circuit of the yard, I would have to stop and empty the bags because they were jam-packed with leaves. I was almost running out of sunlight when I finished, then I still grabbed a rake to move the very large, deep pile of leaves off the driveway onto the street by the curb. There were more leaves than one usually puts at the curb. I hope the city sweeps them up. :-) 

Now the wind is blowing, maybe the leaves will scatter so that the pile in the street won't be so embarrassingly large.

Now I'm tired but "it's a good tired" as they say. I need to shower and do some laundry before going back to work tomorrow.

Today was Veterans Day here in the U.S. Maybe I should have been thankful for veterans today, but I can save that one up to use another day. Tomorrow, perhaps. At any rate, today while I worked outside I was also enjoying the beauty of the day and the scene.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Good books

Today I am thankful for good books and gifted writers. I'm reading a biography of the Bronte family.



They had a difficult, and ultimately tragic, life but transmuted it into art.

That is the theme of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem, "A Musical Instrument":

What was he doing, the great god Pan,
Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And breaking the golden lilies afloat
With the dragon-fly on the river.

He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,
From the deep cool bed of the river;
The limpid water turbidly ran,
And the broken lilies a-dying lay,
And the dragon-fly had fled away,
Ere he brought it out of the river.

High on the shore sat the great god Pan,
While turbidly flow'd the river;
And hack'd and hew'd as a great god can
With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,
Till there was not a sign of the leaf indeed
To prove it fresh from the river.

He cut it short, did the great god Pan
(How tall it stood in the river!),
Then drew the pith, like the heart of a man,
Steadily from the outside ring,
And notch'd the poor dry empty thing
In holes, as he sat by the river.

"This is the way," laugh'd the great god Pan
(Laugh'd while he sat by the river),
"The only way, since gods began
To make sweet music, they could succeed."
Then dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed,
He blew in power by the river.

Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan!
Piercing sweet by the river!
Blinding sweet, O great god Pan!
The sun on the hill forgot to die,
And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly
Came back to dream on the river.

Yet half a beast is the great god Pan,
To laugh as he sits by the river,
Making a poet out of a man:
The true gods sigh for the cost and pain—
For the reed which grows nevermore again
As a reed with the reeds of the river.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Home, sweet home

Today I am thankful for shelter -- that I have a home. A week ago I took a picture looking out my window on a rainy day.

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Even if it's cold and rainy out, I can stay warm and dry.



Not everyone has that blessing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Three thanks (thankses?)

Wednesday I was thankful for living in the U.S. This thanks was triggered by my voting in a local election on Tuesday. I'm a little disappointed, actually, in some of the election results, but then that's how elections tend to go with me.

Thursday I was thankful for ... what? Let's say, all those members of my family not already covered by previous posts -- so everyone else in addition to Dad and Mom and my oldest brother. I do seem to have wonderful people in my family.

And today I'm thankful to be starting a three-day weekend. Oh, the things I'll do. Or so I always think before I have time off. I hope to live in a clean, beautifully organized home surrounded by a tidy lawn by the end of my time off. Doesn't usually happen, but sometimes I make progress, and that's reason for thankfulness too.

Dang, I'm some kind of Pollyanna.

Oh, and then there's this. I stopped at Food Pavilion grocery store on my way home from work and what to my wondering eyes should appear ...

The Oscar Mayer Wienermobile

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Heigh ho

Today I'm thankful for my job. The work is worthwhile, my co-workers are congenial, and I earn a paycheck.

Monday, November 4, 2013

O brother, where art thou?

Today I am thankful for the life of my brother and for the promise that though he has died, yet he lives and will never die.



When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

John 11:20-27

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The body

Today I am thankful for my church, Third Christian Reformed Church in Lynden, Washington.

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I am thankful for my small group and my pastor and my fellow members. I'm thankful for the Christian Reformed Church in North America. I'm thankful for the holy catholic church consisting of the whole
Christian fellowship in all places and ages.

I'm thankful for each congregation I've been a part of:

Calvary CRC, Seattle, Washington
Woodlawn CRC, Grand Rapids, Michigan
San Jose CRC, San Jose, California
First CRC, Visalia, California
Friendship Agape Church, San Jose California
Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, Washington
Third CRC, Lynden, Washington

A post for yesterday

Oops. I forgot to post yesterday. Yesterday I was thankful for my parents. Short version: They're wonderful people.

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Friday, November 1, 2013

Good stuff

I have a friend on Facebook who, in the month of November, posts one thing every day she is thankful for -- since this is the month of Thanksgiving (Stateside). I was thinking of what to be thankful for today, and I didn't want to come up with something I can be thankful for or should be thankful for but something I am thankful for. So I looked back over the day for happy moments, and I guess they mostly were related to my dog. I took him to work today; many of my co-workers were out of the office for various reasons, so I spent several hours alone at my workstation with him. He was with me on the drive to and from work, and he's been with me all evening. We occasionally just exchange affection. Sometimes I go out of my way to pet him and talk to him, and sometimes he seeks me out to give a kiss or cuddle up close. We're good companions.

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Thank you, Lord.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Variations

Charles Wesley wrote a hymn. Well, actually he wrote a hymn approximately every three days. But I have a particular hymn in mind, and that is "Jesus, Lover of My Soul."

Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;
Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.
All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;
False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.

Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;
Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.

There are several tunes you can sing it to, and the tune called "Martyn" (composer Simon B. Marsh) is the tune I learned to play for this hymn, the first time I ever learned to play a hymn. My mom recommended it to me as a good one to start with because three of the four lines of music are identical.

Here it is with the tune I learned:



It's pretty like that, but when I was older I learned a different tune that has more appeal for me. The tune is called "Aberystwyth" (composer Joseph Parry). From the spelling of the title and the name of the composer, I'm guessing the tune is Welsh. It seems like Gaelic or Celtic tunes always have a poignant quality.

So here it is with the Welsh tune:



Take your pick.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Road conditions

It was foggy yesterday morning as I drove toward Bellingham to meet a friend for brunch.



Misty weather is a very Pacific Northwest vibe.



I talked to an artist once who remarked that this area is perfect for watercolor landscape painting. Not that these pictures are landscapey. I took them through my windshield while driving to show what visibility on the road was like. They're more traffic-cammy.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Well, what do you know

It really is the last rose of summer left blooming alone.

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The Last Rose of Summer
Thomas Moore (1779–1852)

’Tis the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone;
No flower of her kindred,
No rosebud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
To give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go, sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o’er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love’s shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie withered
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

An unexpected treat

I thought I had read all Dorothy Sayers' Lord Peter Wimsey mystery novels, but my sister recently was talking about the plot of one that I didn't recognize. So she looked up the title for me, and it was Unnatural Death. I ordered it from Amazon and now have had the pleasure of reading it.


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Make hay later when the sun comes back

I woke up in time for church this morning, which is a matter for praise. Good sermon, some good songs, and then beautiful weather all afternoon.

I have been doing housework today, and plenty of it. My house could not by any stretch of the imagination be called clean right now, but certain parts of it are much less messy than they used to be.

It cooled down as dark fell, and I believe it will rain tonight and probably tomorrow. It's supposed to start clearing up on Tuesday. I'm depending on it, as I did not mow my lawn this weekend, even though the weather was perfect for it and the grass is getting long.

Here's a picture of me at a work function on Friday:

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Go figure

Sometimes I think about blogging and then I think that I've done it and then I come here and realize I haven't.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

42

Seeking inspiration. Not finding it.

Googled "Thursday":

“This must be Thursday,” said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer. “I never could get the hang of Thursdays.”
― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Something, anything, or nothing

I have so many household tasks that need doing that I don't want to do any of them. I tell myself, Just do something. Anything you do is better than nothing. And I did do a little bit, but much, much more remains to be done.

Meanwhile, this morning I attended the local Walk to Defeat ALS. My oldest brother died of ALS almost 7 years ago, and now a cousin of mine has it, too. It's a terrible disease.

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My brother, a little more than 7 years ago

I am now at the age he was when he died.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I did it all by myself

My cousin who has been doing my lawn care has resigned from the position, due to other demands on his time, and due to the departure to college of his assistant and son, my first-cousin-once-removed.

While I was thinking about whom to hire in his place, the grass started to get long, so yesterday I did a bold thing and mowed it myself! The lawn is large, so we have a riding mower -- a John Deere, in fact. Nothing runs like a Deere.

Well, I hadn't driven it before, so I searched online for "how to operate a John Deere lawn mower," and I read some instructions and watched a couple videos then went out the shed and figured it out.

I'm kind of proud of myself.

My handiwork.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Serve yourself and save the difference

I didn't get to the grocery store over the weekend, so on my way home from work today I decided to stop at a store that recently opened in Bellingham: WinCo. When I drove in, it was bigger and more monolithic than I expected, and that made me feel like it would be time-consuming to look for the few items I wanted. But, since I had taken the trouble to drive into the parking lot, I parked and went in.

It was very large and warehousey, and I walked up and down most of the aisles to see what there was to see, and I found my stuff.

I chose what looked like a reasonably short check-out line and realized that you have to bag your own groceries there. The lady in front of me most efficiently bagged hers, but the cashier had evidently graduated at the bottom of her class from checker school, poor thing. A produce bag full of tomatoes caused a stoppage. She kept looking at the sticker, entering a code, peering at the screen, asking the customer how much it cost per pound, and the re-doing all those steps. She pressed a button for help. She checked the remainder of the items and then continued to try to figure the cost of the tomatoes. She again pushed her help button and finally another woman came to assist. She too entered a code and frowned at the screen, then she looked at a piece of paper, pronounced the price per pound, asked the checker if she knew how to do that, and, finally, between the two of them they got the tomatoes checked out. Then the customer tried to use her debit card and the machine kept buzzing at her, and the cashier told her to start over.

I tried to keep my face expressionless the whole time. I hate it when people throw hissy fits in stores and, ever since I was a cashier my first year out of college, courtesy to cashiers has been one of my benchmarks of character. The customer kept looking at me deprecatingly and finally mouthed how sorry she was. I told her no problem at all.

Anyway, it all finally got done, then I got checked out, bagged my own groceries and headed home.

I wasn't that crazy about my WinCo experience, but I will say that a lot of the items were noticeably cheaper than at other stores.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Rats

I took a picture this afternoon to show the work I had done. The significant thing in this picture is what's not there. For a couple years there were two half-barrels (stacked one inside the other) and an old wheelbarrow by this pile of grass clippings. Now they're gone.



I moved a lot of junk today, put it into the back of my dad's pickup and took it to the dump, where I dumped it.

The most interesting part of this enterprise was the moving of the two half-barrels. As I mentioned, one was stacked inside the other, like you can do with paper cups.

They were out there because several years ago, when my dad installed pavers to replace the boards of my deck, the workers moved these barrels, which were serving as planters, and found they were starting to fall apart. So they stuck them out there, and there they stayed until today.

I always found them unsightly and wanted them gotten rid of, but they were heavy, too heavy for me (for instance) to move. This weekend, I was determined to get rid of all the unsightly junk that I could, so yesterday on my way home from work I stopped at Ace Hardware and bought a hand truck.

I used to call that a "dolly" but "hand truck" seems to be the current or local term.

Anyway, I wiggled the platform under the bottom of the bottom barrel and tilted back. I had to hold the opposite side of the inner barrel to keep them from tipping off again and lean the hand truck way down, so I was moving with a very bent posture. I noticed a round hole in the bottom of the barrel that was inside the other one, and it made me remember once when I saw a mole on my deck and, when I startled it, it crawled under a planter barrel. I thought I bet it went through that hole into the dirt in the barrel.

Even as I thought about the mole, a movement caught my eye, I let the load drop and a pointed nose and a pair of bright black eyes poked out of the hole. Next thing a rat -- I'm sure it was a rat -- came out through the hole leaped out of the barrel and ran back to the trees, shrubs, and undergrowth by the creek.

I'm sure it was a rat. It was gray, it had a hairless tail, and it was too big to be a mouse. With its little nose and bright eyes, it was almost cute. It did not remind me of filth and city sewers but more the kind of creature that could be in Wind in the Willows or a Beatrix Potter book.

Nevertheless I was taken aback. "I hope you were living alone, buddy," I said, and stood looking at the barrels, loath to lean in and hold onto them to move them. I kicked at them a bit and waited and, hearing no further noise, and no further animals leaping out, I did lean in, tilt the hand truck, and laboriously move the load up to the driveway, where I had Dad's truck backed in.

I managed to get the inner barrel out of the outer one and more or less heaved into the bed of the truck. When I went to pick up the second barrel, it fell to pieces. Every stave separated, the metal hoops fell into a pile, and lots of leaf litter and dirt plopped onto the pavement as the bottom dropped out. I got a snow shovel and a rake out of the garage and was going to scrape the dirt and leaves up with the shovel, using the rake to push it onto the shovel blade, and just put it over in the dirt by some bushes by the side of the house, where it could serve as mulch.

I heard some squeaking that at first I thought was birds, but I realized it was tiny creatures in the leaves and dirt. I even saw tiny pink feet waving around helplessly, and I realized it was a nest of baby rats.

Rats are vermin. I know that. The sensible, the farm wifely thing to do would be to kill them. I had a shovel right there. But their little cries and tiny waving limbs made me feel sorry for them. So I did scoop the dirt and litter, including the rat babies, onto the shovel, but I then carried it down to the creek, to where I had seen the adult rat run into the undergrowth, and I tipped them out there. I ended up making three or four trips because I didn't get all the babies the first time. I kept hearing more squeaking and finding another one or two.

They were gray and looked hairless and their eyes were not open.

I figured either their mother might find them and drag them off to another hidey hole (I don't know if rats can carry their young like cats carry their kittens), or their natural predators will find them, or they will die of exposure or starvation.

I got the broken barrel bits into the truck and lots of other junk, including the old wheelbarrow that had been by the grass pile and took it all to the dump.

Later in the morning I had coffee with my folks. When I told my dad about not being able to bring myself to smash the baby rats, I expected maybe he would shake his head and say, "City kids," which he sometimes does when I show too much tendency to anthropomorphize animals. My dad grew up on a farm. But he said, "I don't blame you."

At various times during the remainder of the day, I have been searching online to see what kind of rat it may have been, and how old the babies might have been, and so on, and I must say that reading all the information about rats has made me feel a little nauseated, plus worried about how many other rats might be in my back yard.

I do believe I also have cat living on the property. I think it lives under the oldest shed we have. I have seen it there while out in the back yard walking my dog around. There are also lots of cats in the neighborhood. When I used to keep a full birdfeeder, we had nearly constant cat presence as they stalked the birds. We also had a lot of squirrels eating out of the feeder. We do still have some squirrels around. I see them frequently.

I'll just hope that what rats there may be are finding enough food down by the creek not to come up towards the house, and that the neighborhood cats will also keep them in line.

I hope I don't dream about them tonight. Could be a nightmare, big time.

I'd better read something to distract my mind.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I love to go a-wandering

Today I had to take posters for the agency where I work, which serves low-income people, to various other organizations to ask if they would put them up so our potential clients would know about our services.

One of the places I went to was Bellingham's homeless shelter, the Lighthouse Mission. When I was walking toward their drop-in center, I was struck by the juxtaposition of a handful of the urban poor standing in front of a homeless shelter, with a big billboard across the street advertising a luxury hotel and restaurant, also named "Lighthouse" something-or-other. I didn't read it closely enough to remember the name, but after searching online, I believe it was the Lighthouse Bar & Grill at the Bellwether Hotel, which is, in fact, just down the road a ways from the shelter, sort of.


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I am not one for leading the rich people's guilt trip, but it did seem almost in bad taste to put that particular billboard in that particular place.

Another place I needed to go was a social services office, DSHS, as it's called around here. My co-worker had told me it was right near Christ the King Church, which is a church in a strip mall.


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So I pulled into the strip mall off Bakerview and to my right I could see the big entrance doors of Christ the King Church. I figured it wouldn't be in that building and I took a left and drove by the store fronts, doing sort of a U-shaped trek, without seeing DSHS. But this big parking lot let onto other parking lots. I crossed some kind of road and drove into a lot featuring a Dairy Queen restaurant.

"DQ, DSHS, what's the difference?" I said to myself. (Of course, I was just joking. You can get a milkshake at DQ but not at DSHS.) I kept rolling along, seeing the Department of Licensing -- yay, a government building, surely I must be close -- but then an empty store, back on the little road and then into the parking lot of a bowling alley. But I said, "She said it was near Christ the King, so I'd better go back," and driving toward those doors I saw to one side the DSHS. When I first came into the parking lot and saw CTK (as it is also known) to my right, I should have taken the right and driven past the large, impressive front of CTK to the smaller, more seedy front of DSHS.

The impressive front of CTK

After leaving my posters there, I pulled out onto the Guide Meridian and went north a very short ways then turned left onto a road I thought would take me to Whatcom Community College, but it turned out to be that little road I had been on before and, yikes, there were the bowling alley and the DQ. "Oh, no," I said, "I'm in the parking lot from hell." But eventually I found my way out again and completed all my stops.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Too beautiful

It might seem like lazy blogging to embed youtube videos, but really, this song I keep singing.

The first two verses come from an old hymn that I first came across in Tom Sawyer, in the chapter where he goes to church:

The minister gave out the hymn, and read it through with a relish, in a peculiar style which was much admired in that part of the country. His voice began on a medium key and climbed steadily up till it reached a certain point, where it bore with strong emphasis upon the topmost word and then plunged down as if from a spring-board:

Shall I be car-ri-ed to the skies, on flow'ry BEDS of ease,
Whilst others fight to win the prize, and sail thro' BLOOD-y seas?

He was regarded as a wonderful reader. At church "sociables" he was always called upon to read poetry; and when he was through, the ladies would lift up their hands and let them fall helplessly in their laps, and "wall" their eyes, and shake their heads, as much as to say, "Words cannot express it; it is too beautiful, TOO beautiful for this mortal earth."



I have sung it as a traditional hymn, as written by Isaac Watts. It was recorded by The Carter Family in a bluegrass style with a different chorus and third verse:

Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause
Or blush to speak His name?

Chorus:
On the sea (the sea the sea)
Of Galilee (of Galilee),
My Jesus is walking on the sea.
On the sea (the sea the sea)
Of Galilee (of Galilee),
My Jesus is walking on the sea.

Must I be carried to the sky
On flowery beds of ease
While others fight to win the prize
And sail through bloody seas?

There shall I take my weary soul
In seas of heavenly rest
And not a wave of trouble roll
Across my peaceful breast.

Here is the Carter Family version as sung by Emmylou Harris and the Peasall Sisters (who appeared little girls in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? singing "I'll be somewhere a working for my Lord"):



I like a song that says "my Jesus." It's sweet and intimate.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Mountainous names

Last January, I posted some pictures of Canadian mountains but didn't know the names of them: Janette Kok: Saturday to the north. One day I happened to be looking at a map, saw a couple of names of mountains in B.C., and searched them. I found out they were these very ones.

This one is Mount Robie Reid:

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And this double peak is, I'm pretty sure, Mount Judge Howay:

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Here are the two together:

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I'm not a hundred percent sure of the Judge Howay identification, but I'm pretty sure of the Robie Reid one. That one's quite a unique shape.

If anyone from British Columbia knows their mountain peaks, please feel free to correct me and/or to name the conical peak to the right of the one I've i.d.'ed as Judge Howay.

Meanwhile, just as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, these mountains are beautiful, whatever they're called.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Is it September?

Well, when I woke up this morning, my ears felt much better, so that's a mercy. I spent the afternoon with my parents. We watched a DVD of the funeral of a cousin of my mom's. Perhaps not the most thrilling weekend activity, but my mom really wanted to watch it. It's not what we do when I'm with my parents that matters, it's just the being with them. I didn't mind watching it; I could take an interest in the music, the eulogies, the sermon, and the facts of the good man's well-lived life.

On another topic, the weather forecast for next week is warm and on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday downright hot. Bleah.

Fall, please. Bring on autumn, if you will.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Don't say "What?" say "Huh?"

For some reason, my dad, when we kids said "What?" was prone to respond, "Don't say 'What?' say 'Huh?'" and if we said, "Huh?" he would say, "Don't say 'Huh?' say 'What?'" This could go on indefinitely.

Today my ears are a little plugged up, or, rather the left one is a little plugged and the right one is very stopped up. The last time I had this symptom, a doctor diagnosed an ear infection. He was all set to prescribe an antibiotic when I mentioned how those frequently give me allergic reactions, such as hives and even blisters, so he prescribed one unlikely to have that effect. Unfortunately it likewise had no effect on my ear infection, so I called back and he prescribed the one he thought was best for ear infections. That one did give me an allergic reaction. That was in March.

Now I'm getting over a cold but seemingly starting an ear infection, but a cure is likely to be worse than the disease. I'll see how it goes over the weekend. If it doesn't clear up by Monday, I suppose I'll call the doctor's office.

Meanwhile:

"What?"

"Huh?"

Saturday, August 31, 2013

This and that

Today was sunny and warm, but definitely with a autumnal vibe. While I was walking the dog this morning, I heard, then saw a large flock of geese, flying low. They were flying east -- I imagine from one body of water to another. The afternoon warmth was not as sultry as a summer heat. I felt that early autumn is really what I'd prefer summer to be like.

I have been suffering from a cold for several days, and feeling tired from it, but this afternoon I did finally potter on the deck a little: a little pruning, a little watering, some spraying of Roundup on weeds growing between the paving stones. I think it was the The Dow Chemical Company that had the advertising tag "Better living through chemicals." I always find it amusing to use that for anything apt, from Roundup to antidepressants.

My cold was not as afflictive today as yesterday. For a while in the afternoon, after a hot shower that cleared my sinuses, I felt almost well, but now, in the early evening, I am feeling tired again. I stayed home from work yesterday, and Monday is a holiday, so I am hoping to conquer it by resting whenever I need to and drinking lots of water.

I recently read through some Tudor history by Alison Weir. Her reputation is that she's more of a popularizer than a scholar, but then I'm not a history scholar, just interested in history. It was a series of books that I already owned and have read previously: The Six Wives of Henry VIII, The Children of Henry VIII (somewhat mistitled, as it includes Henry VIII's great-niece Lady Jane Grey), and The Life of Elizabeth I. They are meant to be read in this sequence.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer's end

I can't remember if I've put this up here before, but I just felt in the mood for it tonight:



'Tis the last rose of summer,
Left blooming all alone,
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone.
No flower of her kindred,
No rose bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

Words: 1805, Thomas Moore
Music: 1813, John Stevenson
Singer: 1938, Deanna Durbin

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Quiet, please

I heard a fine sermon in church today, and good music. There were just a couple things I would quibble about, and I have come here, to my blog, to quibble.

The first quibble is that at one point, after asking us to think about our answer to a certain question, the pastor instructed us to turn to the people near us and ask them what their answer had been. I immediately wished I had stayed out in the narthex to listen to the sermon instead of coming into the sanctuary and sitting in a pew. I was a goodly space away from a couple with whom I am wholly unacquainted. I did not turn my head but looked out of the corner of my eye at the male half, who was nearer to me. They evidently shared my feelings because they not only didn't turn to me, they didn't even turn to each other. I felt a sense of relief that I was among cold, unresponsive Dutch people like myself. I jest, but being forced into conversation with people makes me extremely uncomfortable. It's distressing.

I was reminded of the following passage from the book Introverts in the Church:

The first three-quarters of the sanctuary were occupied by people who had attended the church for years, stretching back to their days in Sunday school. Over the years the church settings had changed—from classroom to youth group room to traditional worship service to contemporary worship service and now the Sunday night postmodern worship gathering—but the seating arrangement had remained the same. They sat in their well-established groups of friends, as comfortable as they were in their own homes with their own families. In the last quarter of the room were a few rows of solitary stragglers, spaced out by an empty seat or two in between. These people were visitors or, in some cases, regulars who had not been attending since birth. They were drawn to worshiping God in a postmodern language that they understood, but they were wary of the rigid social boundaries. At the time of Communion, the pastor said there would be an experimental new format for taking the sacrament. He explained that the Lord’s Supper is not an individual act but a corporate meal in which we celebrate together the meaning of Jesus’ death. Therefore, instead of coming up to the front one at a time to partake of the elements, people would come up in groups and celebrate Communion together. He instructed them to choose their own groups, from the people situated around them, and to assemble at the table when they were formed. My friend Sarah, an introvert who attends frequently, sat in the second-to-last row. After hearing these directions, she stood up, in extreme social discomfort, and walked out of the sanctuary. Sarah is an ordained Presbyterian minister. [McHugh, Adam S. (2009-10-20). Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture (pp. 187-188). Intervarsity Press. Kindle Edition.]

The second quibble was something that happens most Sundays. It's a two-part quibble having to do with taking the offering. First, we sang during the offering and, second, the worship leader informed us that the offering would start at the back and as the offering bag passed us, we should stand up. That way, when the offering is finished, everyone is standing and we can move right into the parting blessing. Heaven forbid that there should be a pause in the proceedings.

This is akin to a quibble I have with our celebration of the Lord's Supper, which is that we almost always sing throughout (although, here, I do simply close my eyes and remain silent).

I would like no words, just music, during these elements of the worship service. I would like to sit quietly and contemplatively for at least those amounts of time. It seems like the worship planners believe that if there are no words for us to read, hear, or vocalize we will be bored; whereas, I feel that if there is never a pause in the flow of words, I never get a chance for anything to soak in. At the end of a worship service with non-stop verbalization, I am past saturation.

There are elements that can be added to worship services that feed introverted souls. Find a way to insert authentic silences into worship. I say “authentic” because a brief perfunctory pause can feel like an empty gesture. Incorporate silences that last for several minutes, explaining their significance so that people will not think it’s a mistake. One church I know allows a full two minutes of silence after every sermon. Simply inserting regular pauses in the content of worship services, instead of rushing from one component to the next, can also be fruitful. So much of our human relationships, even the very best parts, is unspoken, and our worship, in which we interact with a personal God, ought to reflect that. [McHugh, Adam S. (2009-10-20). Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture (p. 199). Intervarsity Press. Kindle Edition.]




Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Taking down the old website

A long time ago, but not in a galaxy far away, I created a website. It was in the era of personal websites. First I made one about my grandparents, just for practice. I remember working with Photoshop to shrink the size of the pictures for web use so that they would not take too terribly long to download, even if you had a dial-up connection.

Later I made one about me. I think I made one for my store, when I had my framing store. I forget all the permutations, but when I was making a site for my framing business, I started to use a web-host called Homestead, which cost money, a certain amount per year.

After I started my blog, and after I closed my store, I slowly lost interest in my website, and updated it less and less. However, every year Homestead charged a certain amount of money to my debit card, and I just let it ride because I had put a lot of work into what I had there, and I often had intentions of updating materials less suited a blog, such as sound files of sermons I've delivered.

But what with unemployed spells over the last year and sundry other matters, I decided this year I would cancel that payment and take down my site. I got an e-mail from Homestead letting me know that payment was coming up, and I made a mental note to cancel. But then Homestead started sending me e-mails that the card information they had was out of date. I suppose it was an old expiration date. So I realized I didn't have to cancel, just wait until they take the website down because of non-payment. Now I am getting e-mails that they are suspending my site and that after a certain number of days they'll remove it. If you want a last look before it goes, here's a link:

Janette Kok website

It's funny. Blogs replaced websites, but then Facebook started to replace blogs. I love Facebook, but I still make the effort to blog because that allows longer trains of thought. They say now that Facebook is giving way to Twitter and Instagram, but I am well behind the curve on that. I recently joined Google+ just because every time I went to youtube, I was getting prompts to change my identity there to my Google identity, so I finally did just to make Google shut up. I don't even know what Google+ really is, and I haven't been to look yet. Right now, I'm good where I am.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Job well done

Hooray for me. I accomplished my goal of getting half the deck cleaned. Here is the "after" picture:



There is no "before" picture because I would not have taken a picture of that mess, but now, for comparison, I did take one of the other, less tidy side:



When I was going to write this blog entry, I first got up and walked in a northeasterly direction through my living room, and as I went I forgot what I got up for. So I went in the kitchen. Maybe I wanted a glass of water. But I had left my water glass by the computer. I recalled that I had been thinking that I really quite deserved a gin and tonic after all my hard work, so I made one and, while I did, I remembered that the reason I got up was to get my camera and download the pictures.

So now you have the pictures to look at, and I have a gin and tonic to drink. Everybody's happy, right?

Home body

Today I am engaged in one of my favorite activities: staying home. I have spent several hours on my deck, sweeping and also trying to de-spiderize the shady side. I never really got my deck into good shape for sitting out and enjoying this summer, I guess because of being sickly in the spring and then averse to the heat later on. But today is a mild day, and I feel fine, so I've been out there. I would like to make the shady side, which is also the part I see out of my sitting room windows, look neat and clean and uncluttered.

Right now I'm taking a lunch break, although it's about 2:30 p.m. I had some leftover thuringer buns from yesterday, so I took some and stuck some yummy cheese inside, wrapped them in foil, and put them in the oven to heat up. Yes, it would be faster to use the microwave, but it would not taste as good. This way, the buns will get crunchy.

The second half of August is a bit late for getting the deck cleaned up, but there is still enjoyment to be had sitting out there in the weeks of autumn, so it will be worth it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Wake up

Sunday morning. Today my extended family has a reunion in the city park. Last night I assembled buns with thuringer, aka summer sausage. My mom always tells how her father, who immigrated from the Netherlands, would order at the deli or butcher: "Turinger, sliced tin."

Meanwhile, this morning, coffee is brewing, which is a very good thing.