Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Order, order

I'm reading a book on my Kindle about getting rid of clutter. I sometimes read books about de-cluttering, organizing, and simplifying life. They're a sort of fantasy literature for me. I read them and I dream about what it would be like to have an orderly household. I imagine it would be really nice. I have achieved it in the past, and perhaps I will again.

This author, Marie Kondo, recommends discarding over storage. She suggests organizing by category, starting with clothes. Get all your clothes from everywhere in the house and put them in one pile. Take each item in your hand and ask yourself whether it gives you a thrill of joy. Keep only those items that give you joy and get rid of the rest. Then take the things you've kept and decide where they go. She has further suggestions about folding, etc., but that's the gist.

Her book was originally written for a Japanese audience, so her advice about organizing good luck charms from Shinto shrines may not apply, but the idea of respecting yourself by respecting your belongings is worth considering.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Sometimes when I say, "It's freezing outside!" it's just hyperbole meaning I feel cold out there, but today it literally is freezing. My water feature is frozen over, and the ground feels hard underfoot.

Two trains of thought related to "the ground under foot." One was remembering how a few years ago I was troubled by painful plantar fasciitis, which is a shooting pain in the heel. The first standing on my feet in the morning was sometimes agonizing. One day I was in the parking lot of a grocery store and, walking from my car to the store, I walked on pavement, then over a grass median, and then pavement. I noticed the pain in my feet decreased when I walked on the grass, and I realized that I was walking on hard surfaces most of the time. I also realized, upon reflection, that I wore mostly flat shoes that did not cushion my feet from the pavement. Also, I live in a basement apartment where under the flooring is the cement foundation of the house--not even as much give as a wood floor. So I invested in better-cushioned shoes and, even in the house, where I  used to always be in stocking feet, I started to wear slip-ons with some give--often Birkenstocks. Sure enough, my feet soon stopped hurting.

Those thoughts took less time to think than to write, and then a fragment of poetry came to me, "nor can feet feel--." The context is, "Nor can feet feel, being shod." That's kind of against the point of my wearing shoes for my feet's health, but it is about walking on unnatural surfaces. It comes from Gerard Manley Hopkins' poem, "God's Grandeur":

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Not a bad poem to contemplate as we approach the New Year. I tried to find a good recording of this poem on youtube, but they were all either accompanied by music or not a reading I cared for. Apparently several composers have also set it to music, but I didn't care for any of those renditions either. Just the word, please.

Monday, December 29, 2014


Clear and cold today. I visited for a few hours with a friend then went grocery shopping, then came home and walked and fed the dog. I almost forgot to feed the dog, but he reminded me. The evening ahead looks good for reading, or knitting and watching TV. Or both! Maybe I could knit in a kind of frenzy, like a Barbara Pym heroine. (No Fond Return of Love)

Friday, December 26, 2014


I was cleaning my kitchen (oddly enough) when I realized I hardly have any coffee cups. A moment's reflection told me that the majority of my mugs are scattered throughout my car's interior, where they make gentle clinking noises against each other whenever I go around a corner or over a bump.

I managed to fill the dishwasher even without them, so they can wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve 2014

I went to a candlelight service at my church this evening. So much that I liked about it.

1. It was on Christmas Eve. There have been times when we've had a candlelight service for the evening service of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, but that's just not as satisfying. You should light the Christ candle on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

2. We sang all traditional Christmas hymns: Joy to the World, What Child Is This, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Away in a Manger, Good Christian Men Rejoice, and so on. My only caveat in this department is that we sang in a register that was a little high for me. We had two song leaders, a man and a woman. The woman, I know, is an alto, but perhaps the man is a tenor. Anyway, they launched into the songs high enough that I couldn't get the high notes. To be fair, I'm out of practice, plus singing throughout the service--the service consisted only of songs and Scripture readings--started to wear on my throat. I would have liked to have a good cough session to clear the pipes, but that would have been too gross to do in the sanctuary.

3. The symbolism of light spreading through the church, starting from the Christ candle, and going person-to-person, is simple and beautiful. One has to stop thinking symbolically at the end of the service, when everyone blows out their candles and throws them in a box on their way out the door.

4. I saw some dear people: (A) The couple who are the "shepherds" of my "household of faith"--which is a grouping of people assigned to a particular elder, deacon, and shepherd(s). This couple are my dad's age, but very fit and spry. The man is an old friend of my dad's from their youth. They are always friendly and caring. (B) The couple who lead my small group. They are both so good and kind. The woman is someone whose kind, friendly spirit I've admired for years. A couple years ago, when I was thinking I needed some partnership in my prayer efforts, she called me out of the blue to invite me to join their small group. She said that the group had been thinking about how to expand, and my name came to her when she was awake in the middle of the night. I believe that that was the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and I'm thankful she was responsive. Both of these couples spoke to me warmly and wished me a merry Christmas. (C) I saw other members of my small group around the sanctuary, and chatted with another on our way to our cars. (D) An elder, whose good opinion I respect, smiled happily at the sight of me and greeted me gladly. (E) A woman who has always been kind and friendly to me smiled and me, and I gave a little wave back. There were other glances and smiles exchanged. They all helped me feel a sense of belonging.

I've been struggling with church attendance this year, but I thought I should at least meet the lowest level of commitment and come for Christmas. When I was girl, and my father was an Air Force chaplain, we always had a Christmas Eve candlelight service at the chapel, and it was always packed with people who normally didn't come. My dad said these were the "C & E" church members--they came to church only at Christmas and Easter. I think for Roman Catholics that seriously is the basement level of commitment.

I still am a member of my church in my heart and mind, but I am not doing my part towards corporate worship. Fodder for a New Year's resolution. Or (what the heck) even repentance.

Now that I've waited until late in the evening, it's time to start my marathon of gift wrapping for the celebration tomorrow with my family.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Home body

I've been browsing through Nancy Mitford's The Water Beetle which is a collection of articles. She has one called "The Tourist." She asks, "Why do hundreds of thousands of human beings feel impelled to leave comfortable establishments for the certain misery of the voyage and the uncertain amenities of the arrival, not to speak of danger to life and limb?" She replies to her own question: "The answer is that the modern dwelling is comfortable, convenient, and clean, but it is not a home. Now that people live on shelves, perched between earth and sky, with nowhere to sit out of doors, no garden where they can plant a flower or pick a herb, they are driven on to the road for their holidays. All human beings need some aesthetic nourishment and the inhabitants of ugly towns form the bulk of the tourist trade."

That may or may not be statistically provable, but it spoke to me. I love to stay home. I love vacation days where I don't have anywhere to go. And it's because where I live, I can sit out of doors, plant a flower, and pick a herb. Just one of the reasons I wanted a house, not a condo.

It's also a family trait. I once was at a family reunion where one in-law remarked to another, "You must not be a Kok because you like to go places." So I took an informal poll among my cousins and found that a significant proportion of us do indeed prefer staying home to going almost anywhere. I seem to recall that my mom once read an article that said this quality was common among the people of the province of Drenthe, the Netherlands, where the Kok family originated, so that it took a strong motivation (poverty, one assumes) to take them from their homes to the New World.

Saturday, December 20, 2014


There is a type of cedar on my lawn. My dad planted it as a little shrub, but he does not like to prune or trim plants. He likes them to grow naturally. So here's what it looks like now.

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You can just see the roofline of the house on the left in the lower side of the picture.

On the side of the cedar that faces the deck, I cut it back enough to make room to walk and stand.

So, from this side, you can see into the network of branches.

Birds love it in there.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A couple things

Chopped the red-twig dogwood back summer before last. Now it has new growth, and you can see why it has its name.

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Swans flying overhead.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Roast this

On my way home today, I stopped at the drug store. While I was browsing, a Christmas song came on the loudspeaker. The Christmas song was "The Christmas Song," sometimes known as "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire." For me, the most familiar version is that by Nat King Cole, which I've embedded below.

But this was not the familiar version. It was a female singer who was putting her own mark on the song. For instance, she was not bound by the melody but felt free to improvise her own tune. And, whenever a slight increase in volume might be called for, she would bellow and belt the lyrics. Finally, she had that manner of singing high notes that you hear so much today from women pop singers: she would sing the note, then slide her voice down, as if to indicate that she could hit a high note but not sustain it, then up and down, up and down, like a roller coaster, until one was praying for the next syllable so that she could get off the vocal carnival ride. I don't know who she was, but I'm not a fan.

Palate cleanser:

Sunday, November 30, 2014

First Sunday of Advent

From the Catholic Lectionary (I bolded what I liked best)

Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7:

You, LORD, are our father,
our redeemer you are named forever.

Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you
doing such deeds for those who wait for him.

Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!

Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.

There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.

1 Corinthians 1:3-9:

Brothers and sisters:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Mark 13:33-37:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

My thoughts: The day of Christ's return is not a scary threat, a day to be dreaded. In Isaiah, the prophet longs for the Lord to come suddenly, acknowledging that, if he did, he would not find his people doing right or being mindful of his ways. The prophet wants the Lord to manifest his power and majesty and in so doing to rescue his people from their sinful ways. Jesus tells his disciples (that's us) that God has given each of us work to do and we should be found doing it. It's like a surprise inspection in the military, or your boss coming back a day early from vacation, or your parents coming home earlier than they told you when they left you in charge. The apostle Paul praises the Corinthian church for their diligence in God's work and assures them that God will keep them faithful, so that when Christ returns they will not receive reproaches. Our very faithfulness is possible only as a gift from God. He is the potter, we are the clay, the work of his hands; he keeps us firm to the end.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

First snow

I heard the wind picking up last night, then at around 11:30 p.m. saw a traffic warning online for snowy driving conditions on the freeway not all that far from here. So I looked outside and, sure enough, snow.

This morning some was still there.

More than just snow--it was cold. The pond was frozen.

The northeast wind--a cruel blast from the Fraser Valley--blew all day.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Semper Fido

Knitting, cleaning, blogging, whatever, I have a faithful companion.

Purls of wisdom

Okay, after joking about it many times, I'm literally going to knit a ravell'd sleave, and this time I mean it. (Anybody want a peanut?)

Since about the age of 10, I've known the knit stitch. My grandma taught me to cast on and knit, and that's as far as I ever got. I never learned to purl. My one completed knitting project was a coaster. It was rather rectangular, too short one way for setting a glass on it, too long the other way. Such as it was, I gave it to my mom as a gift and who knows but that it is in a drawer or a box somewhere in the very house in which I now live.

Anyway. I asked my talented sister-in-law if she would teach me to purl. I've tried looking at drawings and videos, but I can't learn a three-dimensional craft from a two-dimensional instruction. She said she would, so I ordered some yarn and knitting needles off Amazon. I ordered cotton yarn because if I succeed in making a scarf, for instance, cotton won't make me itch like wool does. My sensitive skin--it's that delicate flower thing. (I recently read that Wagner needed to wear silk clothes because of his sensitive skin.) It was a large skein, which I wound into a gargantuan yarn ball, and yesterday after our Thanksgiving dinner, I learned to purl.

I cast 40 stitches onto a size 10 needle and knit a row, then purled a row. Knit a row, purl a row, and so I've been going on.

I've made noticeable mistakes, but I try to recover them on the next go-round and in any event just keep knitting.

One side.

And the other side. It is not inconceivable that I shall master this.

The day after

It's the day after Thanksgiving, a quiet day for myself. Yesterday was the time spent with dear family members, and I loved it. I have dedicated today to much-needed housework. Already I have filled the dishwasher and set it running. I have a portable dishwasher, if that's the correct term (it is on wheels, and if I moved out of this house I could take it with me), that renders the kitchen sink inaccessible while running because it has to be hooked up to the faucet.

The dishes were piled high in the kitchen. This happens not because I am averse to loading the dishwasher but because I am lazy about unloading it. After it runs, it tends to become the place I go for clean dishes, while dirty dishes pile up in the sink and on the counter. Today I am remedying that situation. I will have to empty this load out and run another one.

I also plan to do multiple loads of laundry. And clean out the fridge. Vacuum the floors. Put stuff away. Clean the bathroom.

But, of course, right now I'm taking a break. I stepped outside to take a picture recording that on this date one can see the creek from my deck, which means the water is high.

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See it? One can also see the sheds and buildings of the lumber yard on the other side of the creek. During the summer the trees' leaves hide them.

(I notice I'm saying "one" instead of "you." That's because I've been reading Mitford books.)

And so we have entered the holiday season and the journey into the heart of winter.

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No sitting outside drinking coffee in the sunshine on a Saturday morning for the next four or five months.

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The pond is full of rainwater and fallen leaves.

The vines among the leaves and frozen flowers are like tattered streamers after the party is over.

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St. Francis keeps a solitary vigil until spring.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Oh the world!

I recently read a "biography" of Nancy Mitford that was composed mostly of excerpts from her letters. Her friend Harold Acton put it together not long after she died. Nancy Mitford is the author of the incomparably English novels The Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate yet she lived from 1945 to her death in 1973 in France.

The two novels I mentioned are hilariously funny, yet poignant. Later, she turned to writing biographies, and I am now reading her life of Madame de Pompadour. What I've read by her has not shown much interest on her part in religion (although no antipathy toward it either), so I was interested to read in her letters, in the years of the illness that eventually took her life, the remark "The longer I live the more Christian I become—Christian civilisation with all its faults has been by far the best in historical times, do admit."

Sometimes she had so much pain from her illness that she longed to die, but when she had relief from the pain, she wanted to live. She said, "Oh the world! how much better off we shall all be in the next one. And yet one’s pretty house, the sunshine, the bird’s moving in for the winter, Hassan and his niceness and all one’s friends can’t but attach one to it." (Hassan kept house, cooked, and cared for her in her illness.) I relate to that because I often think that this world is so beautiful that I wish we didn't ultimately have to leave it, even for a better one, and what I like best are my yard, my deck, my neighborhood, my dog, my family. Simple pleasures are the best, as the baked beans commercial used to say.

I was a little disappointed that, in my Kindle edition of Madame de Pompadour, the introduction, by Amanda Foreman, had several mistakes concerning Nancy Mitford. After mentioning Nancy Mitford's father's aversion to sending his daughters to school, she says, "Nancy was only half-joking when she claimed that the one novel she had read in her life was White Fang." Nancy Mitford never said this about herself, it was a line she put in the mouth of her fictional character "Uncle Matthew" (a character based on her father, Lord Redesdale), who said it was such a good book he never had to read another one. A couple sentences later, Ms. Foreman states, "She achieved instant fame with her essay 'The English Aristocracy,' a witty analysis of class-based habits of speech, in which she coined the terms U and non-U, meaning 'upper-class' and 'the rest.'" In fact Nancy Mitford wrote that essay some time after her novels had become wildly popular. Then, "After the war, Nancy moved to France and lived in a charming house in Versailles." Actually, Nancy Mitford lived in Paris from 1945 through 1966 and moved to Versailles in 1967. All these facts are in the book to which Ms. Foreman is writing the foreword. All she had to do was read the book to get it right.

Amanda Foreman, by the way, is the author of a biography I've read and enjoyed, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. I trust her research in that work was of a higher caliber than this.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Where is the answer?

We've been having windy weather. That seems to happen a lot in October, although, come to think of it, it's November now. Anyway, a couple days ago I stopped at Winco, the big-box grocery store, on my way home from work to pick up a few items. When I came back out to my car, I saw a shopping cart rolling across the parking lot with no visible means of locomotion. I said to myself, "The grocery carts are blowin' in the wind."

Naturally, this led to my singing "Blowin' in the Wind" (or such parts of it as I could remember) the rest of the way home. I knew it was written by Bob Dylan, and I've heard his version, but I prefer Peter, Paul, and Mary's rendition. I like close harmonies and melodic singing.

Judge for yourself. Here's Bob Dylan:

and here are Peter, Paul, and Mary:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Today the wife of one of my co-workers "experimented" with making a carrot cake, and she brought the result in to our office. I had a piece, and I proclaim the experiment a resounding success.

Further studies are warranted, however, to make sure the result is reproducible.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday noon

Today is a cloudy day with light rain. Washington rain. It's cool out, but the wind is not adding any extra chill. Wet leaves are all over the pavements.

Yesterday, Saturday, I slept in a long, long, long, long time, and it felt great. I didn't wake up until 11:00. One more week until we "fall back" an hour. Lucky Europeans already did so today.

In a little while, I'll go over to my sister-in-law's and we'll eat a nice Sunday dinner she'll have prepared and then we'll work on our stitching. I'm on the last flower of a pansy pillow, then I'll fill in the background. She is in the last stages of a large and complex needlepoint of Rembrandt's Night Watch.

This evening, I need to do enough laundry to get me through the work week. It's been many years now that my typical pattern is to do the most necessary weekly laundering on Sunday evening. That is because I tend to wait until the last minute to do almost everything. I don't know why I do that, I just do.

Oh, well.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Town sky

By the time I got into Lynden, about 6:00 p.m., the sky to the west looked like this:


In my back yard, this glowing hump of cloud showed over the trees:


When I took my dog for a walk, this giant thunderhead was due east, as I looked down South Park Street:


Here it is closer up:


And closer yet:



Countryside sky

So yesterday we had exciting weather. Thunder, hail, and rain about lunch time, then the sky cleared up in time for a partial solar eclipse in the afternoon. I didn't know about it at the time, but in Longview, Washington, about 200 miles south of me, there even was a tornado. Those happen rarely in Washington. This is only the second one I've ever heard of.

When I was driving home from work, the post-storm sky was going through rapid changes, with stunning cloudscapes and even a rainbow. I pulled off onto a side road (Abbot Road, off the Hannegan, if you're local) and took some pictures.


Rainbow over the harvested field.


Dark sky.


The sky was dark, but everything on the ground was bright -- clean from the rain and with the westering sun making it glow.


The edge of the dark clouds.


The farm glowing against the louring sky.


A watery effect because the car window on that side had raindrops on it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


P. Allen Smith, whose TV series "Garden Home," I enjoyed, has a Facebook page, and he linked to this blog entry  a woman wrote about her garden. She starts out recounting a time when some women said that their garden was strictly utilitarian and they didn't waste resources on things that weren't edible. So she wrote a blog about why she gardens and loves her garden, which has both edible and ornamental plants.

In Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, the priest who saves Jean Valjean from going back to prison has a garden in which 3/4s was for vegetables and 1/4 was for flowers. His housekeeper told him that 1/4 plot was useless and that it would be better to grow salads then bouquets. He replied that she was mistaken and said, "The beautiful is as useful as the useful." And after a pause he added, "More so, perhaps."

Beauty is an intrinsic and valuable part of God's creation. When we plant flowers and enjoy them, we honor him.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Heat and humidity

I remarked earlier that it seemed quite warm today for mid-October. When I went to church this evening, when I sat in the fireside room, where we were meeting, I found myself feeling too warm and coated with sweat. I was embarrassed during the shake hands greeting time for fear I looked grossly sweaty. After a while I felt a little better, but always quite warm. At my small group meeting, toward the end, I was sweating again.

I was wondering, is it really hot? Or am I having hot flashes? Or maybe too much thyroid medicine?

When I got outside the wind was blowing harder than ever--it's been blowing all day, which makes it tolerable outdoors--and some large raindrops were scattered in with the wind.

By the time I got home, after 9:30 p.m., and looked up local weather reports, the current temperatures for my town were innocuous numbers in the low 60s (Fahrenheit). I finally found a site that said what had happened earlier in the day, and it turns out today's high temperature was 76.5 at around 3:00 p.m. At 6:00 p.m., when church started, it was still almost 70 degrees, and as my small group was winding down it was still almost 67 degrees, and the humidity was getting up near 80%. So, pretty gross.

About now, the temperature is down to just a little over 61 degrees, but the humidity has climbed to 94%.

Fortunately, the forecast is for cooler weather starting tomorrow, also rain, maybe even thunder, which is exciting in this region because rare.


Today was a rather warm day for mid-October, but still had a feeling of fall because of clouds, wind, and blowing leaves. Yesterday I borrowed two of my niece's children to help me do some clean-up around the yard and deck.  One of the things I did was throw away all the annuals I had bought but never planted. This past summer was not a good one for beautifying my deck or growing flowers. But now that is behind me. Ahead is the dormant season, and by the time spring comes I may have regenerated the desire to grow flowers.

This afternoon I mowed the lawn. The grass has gotten greener and lusher since the weather cooled off and we got a little rain. Also there were leaves all over the back yard, so wherever I mowed I left a path behind me. I like that. I don't pick up the leaves and grass as I mow, but I have blades on the mower that chop them up to fertilize the lawn. It was a gorgeous day to be outside.

Now I'm back inside and the only fly in my ointment, so to speak, is that I have a fairly severe infestation of fruit flies in my kitchen. So gross. I will have to address that problem at a later date because right now I have to feed and walk the dog, take a shower to wash off the smell of lawnmower fumes, then go to the evening worship service at my church, and then to my small group. The small group right now is my chief source of spiritual help.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Q: Where was Moses when the lights went out?

A: In the dark.

Yesterday my power was out for about four or five hours. I got home from work later than usual because I had stopped at the grocery store on the way. As I turned into my cul-de-sac, I was following a PSE truck. I went around it to pull into my driveway, where I halted and pushed the button on the automatic garage-door opener on my visor. No response. Push. No response. Hm. I knew the battery was okay because the light on the device went on with each push.

I got out of my car and saw that no lights were on in my house or any of my neighbors' houses. The PSE truck had disgorged a workman who was approaching some kind of utility box on my neighbor's property. "Is the power out?" I asked. He seemed to look at me cautiously. "Yes," he replied after a pause.

I went inside my home and found my way through the gloom to let my dog out of his box. He starts to bark as soon as I put my key in the door. My upstairs neighbors must always know when I get home. Barkity bark bark. Yappity yap yap. I was flipping switches everywhere I went so that when the power came on I would know.

As it turned out, I had a long time to wait. I lit a candle, pondering the saying, "It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness" in the context of this comic strip:

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Good old "Peanuts."

I opened up the computer I am now writing on, and the battery was fully charged. However, I could not get online because I could not connect to my wireless. The troubleshooter told me to turn my router on and off.

So I went on my cell phone. First I called my parents to chat about the situation. Then I went online, which always uses up the battery quickly. I made a post or two about the outage on Facebook and visited the PSE site, where I discovered it was a very tiny outage, affecting an estimated 7 customers. Soon my phone battery went dead, so I read materials already loaded onto my Kindle.

I made a couple trips down the hall to what my mother calls "that little room," but I did not flush the toilet. Because I am semi-below ground level, the downstairs where I live requires a pump to drain water. I don't know what might have happened had I flushed, but I imagine it would not have been pleasant.

Around 11:30, 11:35, the lights came on and the refrigerator started to hum. Just in time for me to turn the lights off and go to bed (after flushing the toilet).

This morning when I went outside to walk the dog, my sprinkler system was cycling through its business. I had turned the system off this spring, deciding to postpone learning how to operate it until next year. But I found the manual and it said that after a power outage it will default to a once-a-day schedule eight hours after power is restored. I think I will get a professional in to get it drained and shut down for winter so that if we have any power outages then I won't have complications involving frozen pipes. For the moment, I just turned it off again. I think. I'll know for sure tomorrow morning.

So that's just about the biggest adventure that's happened to me in a long time. Glad I made it through.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Lapping it up

So here I am, using my laptop on top of my lap, exactly as the name promises. I am sitting in my recliner, with my feet up, using the computer. This is the life. It's practically a beer commercial. I remember one where guys drove big trucks, caught big fish, camped out in the wild, and, of course, drank a specific brand of beer, and the tag was, "It just doesn't get any better than this."

I'm looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow. This week I've struggled with over-sleeping. Since tomorrow is Saturday, I can oversleep with no consequences. I do have to get out there and find some birthday presents for a boy who's turning 15. We have a party (well, just a family get-together) at 2:00.

And now, good-night.


So tomorrow is Friday. That's nice. That's very nice.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Goodness, I'm tired.

Lord Caversham.  Well, sir! what are you doing here?  Wasting your life as usual!  You should be in bed, sir.  You keep too late hours!  I heard of you the other night at Lady Rufford’s dancing till four o’clock in the morning!

Lord Goring.  Only a quarter to four, father....

Lord Goring.  You should go to bed, Miss Mabel.

Mabel Chiltern.  Lord Goring!

Lord Goring.  My father told me to go to bed an hour ago.  I don’t see why I shouldn’t give you the same advice.  I always pass on good advice.  It is the only thing to do with it.  It is never of any use to oneself.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Quiet night

I've closed and locked the door for the night. It gives me a feeling of security to be inside my cozy home -- light, warm, quiet -- with the rest of the world -- dark, cold, windy -- outside. Tonight I am of a mind to go to sleep early.

The Lord Almighty grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end. Amen.

Monday, October 6, 2014


My new computer is here, and I'm using it. It will take a little getting used to, but it's already better than holding my Kindle up to my nose while trying to type on a tiny touch-screen keyboard.

After I came home from work, and before I unboxed the new computer, I mowed the lawn. The days are getting shorter, so that by the time I was done it was dusk if not later. I hope I didn't miss any large patches in the gloom. I did the front yard first, so that the most public area would look the best. For the back yard, I was zooming around trying to finish before dark.

Reminds me of a joke some guys used to make many years ago when I worked at a publisher of automotive information. British cars, such as Jaguars, had a reputation of needing lots of repairs. The manufacturer of the electrical systems for these cars was Lucas Electric, and its reputation was the same. The guys said that Lucas workers had the motto: "A good day's work and home before dark."

Well, speaking of the dark, it's almost time for bed. As Bridget Jones said, "I'm headed for Bedfordshire." Or as the children's joke goes (in houses where kids know Bible stories), "Shadrach, Meshach, and To-bed-we-go." Or as my maternal grandmother used to say, "I think I'll hit the hay." Or as Samuel Pepys used to record in his diary, "And so to bed."

The ease of typing renders me garrulous.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

En route

I have been notified that my  computer  has  shipped. Perhaps I will even receive  it tomorrow. I'm  looking forward to having a  keyboard  again.  This typing on the screen just isn't cutting it.

I remember watching a scene in a  Clint Eastwood  movie --  probably  Dirty Harry -- in which Eastwood is  playing pool while his workplace  superior yells at him. At the end of a lengthy tirade, Eastwood says, "I got one thing to say....Your mouthwash ain't cutting it."

Thursday, September 25, 2014


If have ordered a new computer, but it will take about three weeks to arrive. Meanwhile, blogging from my Kindle is not as smooth as working with a keyboard. I just have to wait for better times.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hair today

So I wimped out. The young lady who does my hair gave me a reminder call that I had an appointment Saturday morning, and that was enough to push me over the edge. After talking to my sister-in-law, I decided not to attend the Walk to Defeat ALS. Instead I got my hair done. It's a becoming shade of dark red now.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My computer crasheth

My PC seems to have given up the ghost. I'm doing this on my Kindle. I have to examine my bank account and determine my next move.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Year after year

Every September is the Walk to Defeat ALS in Bellingham. I've been there eight times now, and next weekend will be the ninth time, God willing. This year my immediate family did not set up our own team because, dreadfully, terribly, horribly, there is another family team we can join, that of my cousin who died of ALS last year.

Some years I have been the one to set up a team online at the ALS website. Always I do a moderate amount of fundraising. But this year I've been putting off even signing up at all. Every time I think about it, I feel an aversion, and I realize that the thought of it is depressing.

This evening, as I was walking my dog around the back yard, I wondered why I should find the idea of the Walk depressing, and the thought came into my head, Year after year I walk, but he's still dead.

He being my brother. I'm tired of my brother being dead. I've had enough of that.

The first time I participated in the Walk, in 2006, he was there.

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He was there, but he had less than two months left to live. All the years since then, he's been gone.








And, next week, 2014. Still gone.

I believe in the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. Someday we'll walk together, again, forever. (But the wait feels long.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Fall was in the air today, for which I was heartily thankful. Windy, with leaves blowing around. There's something wild and exciting about that. I did hear a rumor of hot weather again this weekend, but I hope it's not true.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The cool sequester'd vale

The long, hot summer drags on. Yesterday I was so hot! During the night I woke up feeling too warm to sleep, so on my cell phone I looked up Lynden weather. It said that Sunday was predicted to be much cooler than Saturday--yet the Sunday predicted high is over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Saturday it was over 90! For my international readers who think in Celsius, that means that today it is going to be about 27 degrees and yesterday it was about 32 degrees. High humidity yesterday, too.

No wonder I felt crabby and irritable in the afternoon. Even my dog was getting on my nerves.

Right now on Sunday morning, it feels fairly pleasant indoors with the windows open. I am once again missing church. It's just so tempting to sleep in and have a slow, quiet Sunday morning by myself.

This is how I feel about almost every gathering except family:

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I don't mind socializing at work, although even there I talk more to off-the-cuff knots of 3-4 people than at the full staff meeting. At church, I keep moving through the after-church coffee time, but I am happy to get together with my small group. And I like having extended brunch with one close friend, where we talk for hours. But I must say that I do love staying home alone and sometimes wish I could do it far more often, though I suspect it's a wholesome discipline for me to have to go out and interact with others.

My longing both for quiet and solitude and for cooler weather makes me realize why I so like these lines from Gray's Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard:

Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,
Their sober wishes never learn'd to stray;
Along the cool sequester'd vale of life
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

I want to keep the noiseless tenor of my way along the cool, sequestered vale of life, far from the madding crowd.

Monday, September 1, 2014

New possessions

There are two things I've bought lately that have pleased me very much.

A few weeks ago I ordered a silver bracelet from Monastery Greetings. It has the most famous saying of Julian of Norwich stamped on it:

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"All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well." From the 13th revelation of the Revelations of Divine Love of Julian of Norwich:

But Jesus, who in this Vision informed me of all that is needful to me, answered by this word and said: It behoved that there should be sin; but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.


Synne is behovabil, but al shal be wel and al shal be wel and all manner of thyng shal be wele.

I first encountered this saying in college, in a seminar on T.S. Eliot. In Little Gidding, one of his Four Quartets, he quotes it. I always liked the singing, round feel of it, as well as finding it a comforting saying.

For the past two years, almost, I've been looking for a renter for the upstairs of my house, so that I can continue to live here. In July, that was accomplished, so in August I bought myself this bracelet as a celebration.

The second new possession, which I just bought this week, is an oak sideboard for in my kitchen.

My kitchen has less than ample counter and cupboard space, so I was looking for such a piece of furniture. I searched the local craigslist under "buffet table," but realized from the search results that I needed to look for a "sideboard." One of the first things that came up was this beautiful oak sideboard.

I had received an oak table from my parents when they moved into their retirement home, and I felt that this sideboard would go with it perfectly. I wanted it so badly that I almost wanted to pray for it, but I didn't know if it would be right to pray for a material possession just because it is beautiful. Anyway, the Lord blessed me with the ability to buy it, and with dear family members who helped me move it into my house, and I love it.

So I hope I am not materialistic to love these things. Instead I will claim the rabbinic saying that God will hold us accountable for every good thing he provided that we did not enjoy.