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.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The fall of the leaf

Sometime around mid-August, one usually sees the first signs of Fall. This year, right on schedule, on August 14, when I was driving to work I saw a branch of red leaves in an otherwise green tree.

This morning, while I was walking the dog, I saw red leaves scattered through a green maple tree. I saw two vees of geese flying and heard them honk. One was far away, the other was so close I thought they were going to land in the culvert I was walking toward. One put his feet down, like landing gear but then retracted them, and they flew on.

Unfortunately, from my point of view, hot temperatures persist during the day. It's been a hot, dry summer by Western Washington standards. I like summer sunshine, but I do like a few cloudy, cool days to break up the monotonous glare. Since the beginning of July, we've probably only had about three sprinkles of rain. Nothing substantial or lasting.

Today I have taken a vacation day from work so I can take my mom to the Northwest Washington Fair to eat poffertjes.

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Also, three of my great-nieces have pictures on display that they drew, so I'll definitely want to check those out.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Thriving on neglect

My sister says that when she shops at a plant nursery, she looks for plant labels that say things like "Thrives on neglect." I've been experimenting with that style of gardening this summer. My plant care regimen has consisted of watering my plants just often enough so they don't die. I can say that petunias, in particular, do indeed thrive on such neglect. My heliotrope is also looking surprisingly well. The nicotiana tend to wilt between waterings, but then they are in pots slightly too small for them.

Some weeds growing up between the paving stones are also looking lush.

Monday, August 5, 2013

7 layers, more or less

My dog was recovering nicely until on Sunday he ate some bacon-grease infused paper towels, which is bad for his pancreas. Did you know a dog can get pancreatitis? Mine does. He's better again now.

My small group at church needed to provide dinner for the Jesus Gathering in downtown Bellingham that is part of Envision Ministries. I was committed to make a salad, so I made a layered salad. This is sometimes called a 7-layer salad, but I freely add and subtract layers according to my personal taste. Here's how my salad went down:
  • Lettuce (Romaine; when I make a salad I cut lettuce with a sharp knife into small strips because I hate sticking a fork into a salad and coming up with half a head of lettuce)
  • Green onions (cut up, of course)
  • Frozen young peas (thawed out)
  • Sliced water chestnuts (from a can)
  • Mayonnaise spread ├╝ber alles
  • Sugar sprinkled on the mayonnaise
  • Then seasoned salt
  • Then garlic powder
  • Then put it in the fridge over night
  • Then fry some bacon and boil some eggs (this is where the bacon-grease infused paper towels originated)
  • Cut up the bacon and sprinkle it over the top of the salad
  • Peel the boiled eggs, then chop them up and sprinkle them over the top
Now you're done. It was a very popular salad at the buffet. People came back and asked for seconds. Even people from my small group who had brought other salads wanted this salad.

Meanwhile, when I came home and I was in the bathroom (never mind doing what) my dog went nosing much further into the kitchen garbage than I thought he could ever reach, pulled out the grease-infused paper towels, and ate the grease-infused portions of them. He was still pooping shreds of paper towel this evening.

Stop me before I eat something that will make me sick.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


My dog is home. I do have to give him an antibiotic every day, and that will be a challenge. And on Monday I have to bring him in just to get blood drawn, so they can make sure his liver enzyme (ALT) continues to go down. It's not in the normal range yet, but because it's going downward I was able to take him home.

Saturday morning

This morning, I woke up between 6:30 and 7:00. On Saturdays, if I'm awake in time, I like to watch The Victory Garden and P. Allen Smith's Garden Home. So I put on that PBS station, got comfortable in my recliner, and promptly went back to sleep, waking up shortly after both programs were over.

After eating breakfast, I actually did some housework! Exclamation point! It helps that the weather is cooler. We even had rain yesterday, after a hot, dry July.

At 10:00, I called the vet's office to ask if I can take my dog home. The vet was with another patient, so they asked if I could come in at 11:30 so he can talk to me. Okay. I hope this means he just wants to talk over my pet's condition and maybe give some advice for taking care of him at home, not that they still want to keep him there.

Friday, August 2, 2013

I love you, Tomorrow

Pup's liver enzyme count is down. If it's down some more tomorrow, he can come home. Please come home, sweet doggie of mine.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Missing you

Liver enzyme count was even higher today. The vet says there's just some toxin in his system that his liver is processing. There's no way to speed the process, just support his system with fluids and antibiotics while it's happening.

The vet assured me that he's getting lots of attention from the staff there and doesn't seem mopey or depressed. He said it would be fine if I came to visit for a while, but because I work in Bellingham I would have to leave work early to get there before the vet's office closes.  I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll have to leave work early to pick the pup up and take him home, so I didn't go today.

Each day they draw blood and check the levels. I won't know till about noon tomorrow whether he still has to stay or whether he can come home.

No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does. 
- Christopher Morley