Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Boom

Earlier tonight, I made a glass baking pan shatter. I had used it to cook meat in the oven, then decided to try to make a sauce from the drippings. Because it had cooled off while I googled "make sauce from pan drippings," I put it on a couple burners to warm it up while I made the sauce. Which turned out great, by the way. I poured it over the meat on my plate, and I was well into my meal when I heard a bang behind me and turned around, and there were the shards of the dish. Pieces were on the stove, the nearby counter, and the floor near the stove.

Naturally, my dog came running to see what the fuss was about, so I ordered him away, then put him in his crate. I was worried that he would try to eat the meat-infused glass off the floor. I finished my meal, then cleaned. I swept the floor. I picked up the major glass pieces from the stove—including out of the burner trays—and counter, then wiped every surface with damp paper towels. I threw away an old oven mitt that had glass fragments on it. I threw away the butter from a dish that was standing on the counter, in case any glass got in it, and I poured the sugar from an open sugar bowl down the drain with hot water. I damp-mopped the floor. After it dried, I saw one more piece of glass just out there in the middle of the floor. I don't know how I missed it. I picked it up, but then I felt I had done my best to protect my dog from broken glass, and I let him out of his crate. I also rinsed and wiped his water and food dishes and gave him new water.

I try not to compare my dog to other people's children, because I know that a dog is not a child. But there are similarities in the kind of care and protection you have to give them because they don't know enough to keep themselves safe.



Okay, I'll admit I talk baby-talk to my dog all the time and even call him "baby," as well as "puppy," "goofus," "silly," "pup-boy," and variations on these themes.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

My brain on Christmas cheer

Sometimes I sit down to blog, and I experience my Mary Bennett problem: "Mary wished to say something sensible, but knew not how." Sometimes you could switch in the word "witty" or "profound" for "sensible."

The secular Christmas season is ended, and the liturgical Christmas season has begun. Today is the third day of Christmas, per the song. No one has sent me three French hens. Yesterday I did not receive two turtle doves, and, of course, on Christmas Day, no partridge in a pear tree made an appearance. John Julius Norwich wrote a funny little book about this song.



It's all the thank-you notes from woman receiving the gifts. She starts out charmed and delighted and by the end her lawyer is writing on her behalf. Some years, some local musicians and a reader form an ensemble called Noel that performs throughout Whatcom County in the weeks before Christmas. They wear Renaissance costumes, play beautiful instrumental versions of Christmas songs and carols, and the reader reads poems in between the musical pieces. The reader is a talented lady with a British accent who really gets the most out of the poems, and this one, the Norwich Twelve Days, is always a huge hit, and the audience is roaring with laughter by the end.

This year, Noel did not perform. Every few years, they take a year off, and I suppose one can't blame them. Whenever they do perform, I make it a priority to attend their Lynden concert.

I missed a couple local seasonal events this year, just by forgetfulness. On the first Saturday of December, Lynden always has a lighted parade. Local businesses decorate their vehicles with lights and drive up Front Street in the evening, when it's dark out. My dear friend, who plays violin for Noel when they do perform, lives on Front Street, and she and her husband open their house to any friends who would like to watch the parade from their front porch. It's great, because one doesn't have to stand freezing out on the sidewalk for the duration. One steps out on the porch, with "a cup of what you fancy" in hand, watches until cold, then goes inside to eat some hors d'oeuvres and refill the cup of cheer. It's gezellig.

The Lighted Christmas Parade in a year when my memory functioned better than now

I was going to go, but when it was time to go I simply did not remember. I was in my pajamas and settled down to knit or read or whatever before I recalled the event.

A few weeks later, the friend sent out notice that members of the Lynden Music Festival were going to hold a Christmas performance. I made sure to enquire for the exact time, then, again, completely forgot about it when it was time. So it goes.

Another seasonal moment occurred one morning when I stopped at a store on my way to work to buy some supplies for my office. I loaded the purchases into my car and started the engine. As I backed out, my CD player kicked into action with the Christmas music I had cranked up for highway speed. One moment silence, then the roar of an organ and full choir "YOU MERRY GENTLEMEN LET NOTHING YE DISMAY!" But I was dismayed and in a panic groped at my dashboard desperately trying to end the noise. I ended up pushing the button that stops and starts the engine, killing both the noise and the motor. My new car's controls are still not familiar enough to me to be instinctual. I think I was trying to push a power button for a radio/sound system as in my old car, but in my new car the sound system controls are found either on a touch screen or a couple of toggles on the steering wheel. Fortunately, I was not in a dangerous place, just partway backed out of a parking spot at Cash & Carry. I sheepishly restarted the engine, turned off the music, and drove quietly to the office.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Coming soon

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. This evening I'll set up my Advent wreath. I ordered and received the candles a while back, but I put them aside and did not unpack them. I trust they are unbroken.

I looked at today's readings at the site of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. I like to go to the traditional Advent source, the Catholic Church, regarding the church year and lectionary because it's not trendy. Not "themes" based on some acronym or some exciting new program, just the pattern the church has developed and used over centuries--the basics. The Gospel passage is an apocryphal discourse by our Lord. I seem to think that the first Sunday is often so. Advent relives the waiting for the Christ but also lives into the ongoing wait for the parousia.

(My spell-checker does not recognize either lectionary or parousia. Well, parousia is a Greek word. And I suppose lectionary is a Latin word, except if it were truly Latin I don't think it would end with a y.)

It is easy to be sentimental about the first coming, but the second coming tends to terrify. Yet I think the immanence of Christ's return was a comfort rather than a fear for early Christians. "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again." This is a very early saying of Christians. But one must be assured of one's salvation--and we should be. Even in his discourse about people dying of fright and nations in dismay, the Lord tells his disciples that at that moment "your redemption is at hand."

Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.

They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.

Friday, November 27, 2015

What to do

Last Sunday when I was walking the dog around the back yard, I saw a pair of ducks in the creek.



I have seen them before. I assume it's always the same pair. They must live right in the area. I wonder if ducks maintain a nest when it's not the season for incubating eggs, or whether when there are no babies they just float around.

At this time of year, on weekdays, I walk my dog in the neighborhood. In the early morning and in the evening the back yard is too dark or wet or frozen or whatever. But on the weekend, I sleep in and walk the dog mid-morning sometime. So then I go around the sheds, the trees, the creek, the retaining wall, and just see how everything's doing.

Today is the day after Thanksgiving, and I have the day off.  I walked around the yard this morning with the dog, too. Now I have a load of laundry in the dryer and one in the washer. I have great ambitions about going outside and just pulling or digging some weeds and scrub trees out of a couple flower beds. Next week some professionals are going to come and clean up the leaves and branches on the yard before winter truly sets in. If I pull stuff out of these beds and just throw it out onto the yard, the stuff should get cleaned up along with everything else. Today is sunny and clear, but the ground is quite damp, so I'm expecting stuff to pull up easily. Actually, this morning, the ground was frosty, so I'm waiting for late morning or early afternoon for it to soften up.

I also want to clean some leaves off my deck and trim back, cut down, and pull out annuals that have had it for the year in containers on my deck. Often this is done in October, but first we had a very mild autumn, when the plants were still enjoyable, and then lots of rain when it was impractical to work outside. To work outside I not only need to have the right weather, but I need the right weather to happen on a Saturday. Now it's a Friday, but it's functioning like a Saturday for me--except I have more time than usual because on actual Saturdays I go to visit my folks in the afternoon.

I treasure my time with my parents and with all my family, which is why I go see my parents on Saturday and my sister-in-law on Sunday, but I also love time at home. I fantasize about days when I don't have to go anywhere and can just putter around home doing this and that. I begin to think that puttering is my true vocation.

Frederick Buechner says that the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet. Does the world have a deep hunger for my puttering? Surely creating a place and a person of peace, quiet, and contentment is worthwhile? Or is it selfish? Am I "cocooning" and closing my eyes to the needs of the world?

Candide decides the only worthwhile thing to do is to tend one's own garden, but I cannot take Voltaire as a guide to the good life. The writer of Ecclesiastes says more than once that there is nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in your work. He says this is a gift from God. The Old Testament vision of the Kingdom sees plows, pruning hooks, and every man sitting under his own vine and his own fig tree. However, Jesus says to take up your cross and to follow him who has no place to lay his head. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says that when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. Am I living the good life or storing up judgment?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Down by the creek

The creek behind my house changes much with the seasons. Here is a picture from four months ago, July 14:



And here is a picture from today, November 14:



I was not standing in exactly the same spot to take both pictures, but close. In the front bottom left of each photo, you can see some dead branches, with a particular bent branch arching over the top of them. The tree on the opposite bank is the same, and the shrubby growth to the right of where I stood.

You can see how much higher the water is now than in the summer. In summer, it can get down to a pretty shallow little trickle, and you can go down and stand on stones that are underwater in the winter. In winter, it gets deep and full and fast. Every few years, it will overflow its banks, if we get heavy snowfall followed by a thaw and heavy rain. It covers much of the back yard when it floods, but it has never yet come up to the house.

This creek does not flood as often as the Nooksack River, which is just south of Lynden. The Nooksack originates in the Cascade Mountains and is influenced by mountain snowfall. Fishtrap Creek, my creek, originates just north of the U.S.-Canada border and flows through lowlands. It is a tributary of the Nooksack.

Monday, November 9, 2015

How good and pleasant is the sight

Just now I went through all my social media and unfollowed and unsubscribed from and unliked everything political. There are any number of politicians I favor and pundits whose opinions I respect, but I need a break. We just had local elections and the side I favor won some, lost some. 

The other day, when I made reference to next year, I wrote "2017" and had to go back later and fix it to "2016." When I realized my error, I was dismayed at the thought that there's still a full year to go until the presidential election, and that's a long time to invest in any amount of anxiety about the outcome. 

So right now the feeds on my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter should mainly be from family, friends, and local businesses. Some of my friends may post political screeds, but I'll just hide them or delete or whatever.

Talk to me about children and grandchildren, dogs and cats, yards and gardens, hobbies, recipes, and home decor. Let me not hear of debates, policies, protests, crime, contempt, anger, posturing, ranting, or accusations.

I have an uncle who, whenever family discussions wander into controversies and become heated, will say, "Hey, how about them Mariners?" I welcome discussions of the Mariners and the Seahawks (although I am not that knowledgeable on the subjects), and I am passionately interested in the weather (but not climate debates).

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Skin deep

Some years ago, when I was reading a novel by Joanna Trollope, one character's internal thought was that another character--a middle-aged, pudgy man, if I recall--seemed "comfortable in his own skin," I don't know if that's the first time I came across that idiom, but I remember it made an impression on me.

Not idiomatically, but literally, I am not comfortable in my own skin. My skin is dry and irritable. I'm itchy a lot. I scratch a lot, and consequently my skin is rough and broken. The solution would be to put lotion on every day. I've known that since my mom used to suggest it to me as far back as grade school. I've rarely been consistent in doing so. The degree to which my skin itches, burns, prickles, and the rest varies with locale, climate, weather, my clothing fabric, and, no doubt, my emotional state.

Angry

Well, after all that, I went in and the phlebotomists could not find an order for me in their computer system. The way it's supposed to work is my doctor enters into his computer my need for a blood test, which he did, and then when I show up at the lab they have in their computer what test I need. This is not the first time I've shown up and not been able to have my blood drawn because they can't find me in their system, and it happened while I was waiting, haven taken a number, to another person, who had driven in from Everson, The way it works is, you come in and take a number and sit down and wait. Eventually they call your number and that's when they tell you they can't help you.

I do want to mention that the doctor's office that ordered the test is Lynden Family Medicine and that the lab that was unprepared for me is PeaceHealth Laboratories in Lynden.

Meanwhile, I came home and am preparing breakfast for myself. Later this morning I'll call Lynden Family Medicine and cancel my appointment for later this week, since the doctor won't have any blood test results to discuss with me.

Early to rise, bleah

I'm awake early, for a Saturday. I've been awake since about 6:00 a.m. I need to go to a lab and get blood drawn this morning, as a preliminary to a regular check-up later this week. (To any readers who are my parents: Just a check-up, nothing's wrong, everything's fine.)

I have to be fasting prior to the blood draw, so I set alarms all over my cell phone that bring up the message "FASTING blood draw." I am something of a robot when I first wake up, and it would be very like me to just potter around in a slow sleepy way and fix myself some breakfast and eat it without really thinking about it. The lab I need to go to doesn't open till 8:00 a.m., so I can't just go and get it over with until then.

I am abstaining even from coffee, because I get conflicting answers on the internet about whether coffee affects one's blood sugar readings. It would, of course, if one added sugar and cream, but what about black coffee? Coffee is a bean, so the cup of coffee is sort of like bean broth. Doesn't that sound appetizing? Anyway, I'm looking forward to having some later this morning.

Meanwhile, I am trying to get well hydrated. I figure that will make my veins nice and puffy, not flat, so that no excessive needle-probing will be necessary. And you never know when they'll ask you to pee in a cup, so that's another good reason to drink a bunch of water before I go.

I want to get dressed, but the fog of morningness is affecting my brain, and I can't decide what to wear. I need a top that is warm, but not too warm, with sleeves that can easily push up or roll up for access to my inside elbow. And it needs to be suitable to taking my dog for a walk before I go to the lab. And it would be convenient if I didn't need to change before going to my hair appointment later this morning--that means a neckline or collar that doesn't interfere with my hair. And then I'd rather it be clean--no smell, no food dribbles--and not something I pull out of the dirty clothes pile. It's all rather complicated, and I'm starting to feel as if I'd like to go back to sleep.

Aftermath

Another month almost between postings. I will say that my car wreck freaked me out. I did everything correctly in the driving situation, but because someone else was inattentive my car got smashed and pushed around with me in it.

It was kind of sad to give up my old car. I bought it new in 1998 and it has always run fine, no problems. I think the most major repair I ever had to do was a muffler. In case you're wondering, it was a Honda.

Since the wreck, I've tended to be more nervous while driving. I feel the tension in me when someone pulls up behind me at a traffic light, or when they approach me at right angles at an intersection, or when they seem about to charge out from a driveway. I don't trust people to stop in time or see my car or yield the right of way.

But the whole incident is winding down now. I drove a rental car for several weeks after my car was totalled but finally got a new car last week. I bought another Honda, since my last one was so reliable. My new one is a hybrid, so it should get great mileage.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Crash

Here it is well into October, and I haven't posted anything this month. I was in a car wreck on September 29th, and my car was totalled, but I am okay.

As I was driving home from work, traffic ahead of me stopped, so I stopped behind a line of cars. The guy behind me came up at speed (the speed limit on the Hannegan Road is 50 mph, i.e. 80+ kph), swerved at the last moment and slammed into the right rear of my car. Below is the damage to my car.

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The impact propelled my car across the oncoming lane (by God's mercy no oncoming car hit mine) and into the ditch on the far side of the road. Below is my car in the ditch.



Below is the car that hit mine. Its airbags deployed because it was a front end collision for that car. My airbags did not deploy.



As my car was pushed from the rear right, my front bumper clipped the rear of the car in front of me.



It was what the traffic websites call an "MVA": multi-vehicle accident.

I am currently driving a rental car, in communication with my insurance company regarding a payout for my old car, and getting ready to shop for a new car.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Quiet day

Yesterday I tackled a big job of mowing my lawn. I had kept waiting for a dry Saturday to mow, with the result that it had been probably four or five weeks since I mowed--certainly not since before I went to Ashland. The grass was crazy long, and even though it didn't rain yesterday it was still quite wet. But I couldn't wait any longer.

I went to the gas station and bought a couple of gallons of gas for the mower. Before mowing, I used an electric leaf blower to blow leaves off the driveway and steps onto the lawn so that the mower's mulching blades could chop them up. My deck had lots of leaves on it, too, and I blew them into piles then used a broom and dust pan to pick them up and throw them over the retaining wall.

When I mowed, I set the blades three-quarters of an inch higher than I usually do, so that the mower would not have to handle as much wet grass as all that. It was plenty as it was. I went over some areas twice, especially in the front yard, if some parts looked rough. The mower would dump a lot of wet clippings on the driveway and yard, but one of the girls from the family that lives upstairs was kind enough to use the blower to clean up the driveway while I was still mowing the back yard. So it was an intensive session of cutting, but at last I got it done. Then I took a shower because I always smell like lawn mower exhaust after cutting the grass.

In the evening I visited my folks.

This morning I slept long and woke up slowly. I made a pot of coffee and, while it was brewing, took the dog for a walk. Weekends are hard for him for the same reason they're nice for me: because I sleep in and get up slowly. He does not get his walk and breakfast as promptly as he does on work days.

I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful it is outside today. Sunny but crisp, with touches of fall color. I left my big door open so fresh air is coming in through the screen door. I love that. And the coffee was brewed.

After breakfast, I knitted a row of my secret knitting project, but I was getting to the end of a ball of yarn. I have a second ball of yarn, so I looked up on youtube how to join a new ball. Typically, there were many methods. One person says, "I start here at the end of a row and do such-and-such." The next person says, "Now it's important not to start at the end of a row." The several methods I watched left the tails of the old and new balls of yarn dangling out of the work with the remark, "Later you can weave these into the fabric." But then I found a lady who knotted one ball of yarn to the next and cut the tails off. She also had the charm of delivering her instructions in an Irish brogue.



So I carefully followed her instructions, and it worked just like she said. I even made it go "sproing, sproing" when I snapped the yarn tight, like she does on the video when she says, "Can you hear me?"

When I got up to get a scissors to cut the tails, I saw out my window that a hummingbird was at one of my hanging baskets. Another beautiful touch to the day.

This evening I will go to my small group and I will lead the Bible study discussion, so I'm pondering that while I knit and have coffee.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Be it ever so humble

I'm back home again. I got home last night. I went back to work today. On my way home, I picked up my dog from my niece's house.

Earlier this evening, I was feeling chilly. I put on a robe that was still warm from the dryer. I sat down to knit, but my dog got on my lap. He was extra cuddly, I suppose because of our time apart. So I stroked his head while he lay against me with his eyes closed.

Soon I'll go to sleep for the night. While I was in Ashland, I didn't sleep very well. Everything else was great, but I have my ways of getting comfortable in my home environment that didn't translate to where we were staying. I wasn't comfortable enough to drift right off; I would only fall asleep when I was so tired I couldn't help it, and I'd wake up as soon as I'd had just enough sleep that any lack of comfort would wake me up. So now it's nice to be back in my own "nest," as my sister called it.

Nevertheless, I loved my time in Ashland and hope to keep going back.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Off to see the bard

Today is the day I head to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I'm driving, and a couple people have asked if I'm leaving early. Um, no. One co-worker asked when I would start driving. I said, "As soon as I can."

My sister, who has a 6-hour drive from her California home, was planning to start at 7:00 a.m. I, who have a 9-hour drive from my Washington home, still have not left at 9:30 a.m. My sister and I have many things in common, but she is a morning person and I am not. She is a lark and I am a night owl.

Right now, at almost 9:30 a.m., my last load of pre-trip laundry is in the dryer. I still have to take my dog over to my niece's house. She and her family will kindly take care of him while I'm gone.

But packing for a car trip is not like packing for an airplane. Things don't have to fit into a compressed size, and if you miss your planned starting time it doesn't mean you can't go, it just means you'll go pretty soon.

Last night when I got home from work, I knew it would be a good idea to take my dog over to my niece's during the evening and not have to worry about that this morning. But I did need to wash some of his blankets and towels that go inside his crate. And I was tired, very tired. I was hungry when I got home from work and needed to fix something to eat. My accomplishment for the evening was doing enough laundry that I have clean clothes to wear on my trip and all I would have to do in the morning was put the last load in the dryer. Which I have.

And I turned off my alarm. To me, one thing more important than getting started on the drive is getting sufficient sleep before the drive. So I allowed myself to sleep out my full sleep. That way, I'll get there alive (I hope and trust) no matter the time. Our activities in Ashland start tomorrow morning at 10:00. I have plenty of time.

I might think it was unwise to write on the internet that I'm leaving, but my home will not be unoccupied, so if any malefactor out there was thinking of breaking into my home to steal my 1998-model giant tube TV that is definitely not high-def or my non-functioning PC, think again. But if you do stop by, would you do me a favor and unload and load my dishwasher?

Oh, and yesterday on my way home from work I stopped off at the eye doctor's to pick up my new glasses. I took a picture last night, with poor lighting and messy hair.

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When my sister was here recently, she helped me pick out the frames. I need that help because when I am trying on glasses that don't have my prescription in them I don't see well enough to judge my own appearance. So I need someone who loves my face to be with me to tell me what looks good on it.

And, now, "On to Oregon!" which was the name of a book I liked in grade school (about kids whose parents died while the family was on the Oregon Trail so they had to complete the journey themselves). I shall be on to Oregon after I take my dog to his sitter and throw my stuff in the car.

The dryer is done.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Blessed rain

It's a rainy Saturday morning, and I have coffee brewing, which smells wonderful. I like coffee to drink, but I also love its smell. It's my incense.

Yesterday morning, I had a beautiful walk around the back yard with my dog. It had rained the previous night but was not raining when I walked. The ground smelled...like earth after a rain. The lavender plants by my shed were giving off their aroma. Every pine and evergreen needle had a crystal drop at its end. I saw a heron standing in the creek. I often catch a glimpse of one as it takes off, startled by my presence, but this time I got to see it standing in the water before it flew away.

The rain is delightful to me personally, but it also may serve a greater good if it helps bring wildfires in Washington State under control.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sew-c-d behavior

Here's where I am right now on my needlepoint project:

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It is a glasses case. The back, which is some suede-like material, zips to the front, which is the needlepoint. Picking this up and working on it has become a compulsive behavior with me. I think needlework--whether knitting or needlepoint or whatever--is a good outlet for anyone with obsessive-compulsive tendencies. All that focus on niggling details that can become problematical in life reaps a reward in needlework.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Small updates

The hot weather has made a comeback. I was determined to plant some flowers this weekend, so yesterday and today I tried to get out on the deck before it got too hot. Both days, it was hot by 10:30 a.m. Bleah. But I did get some stuff planted.

In other news, this week I received a needlework kit that I ordered a while back. I did a little bit of it already. I'm also still working on the secret knitting project, and that's going well.

Last week I tried to get to bed on time and get good nights' sleeps. I'd better keep it up, but that means I need to go to bed immediately.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Update on Kindle Unlimited

So here's what I eventually discovered about Kindle Unlimited--the one where you pay about $9 a month and can download any title in the Kindle Unlimited library. You're limited to having 10 at a time. I've maxed that out, so now when I download another Unlimited e-book, I have to give one back. So it's sort of like Netflix for books.

As I mentioned earlier, I like to get the ones with narration, if I can, so I can listen while I knit. I listened to Barchester Towers, which was fun. I listened to I Can't Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays, by Elinor Lipman, whose novels I have enjoyed. In one of the later essays, she wrote poignantly about her husband's death. Now I'm listening to her novel The View from Penthouse B, which she wrote after her husband's death and the protagonist of which is a widow.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Rain!

Hooray! Relief from the heat. Today it is cool and rainy. A Facebook friend was joking that's because she and her husband just had the roof torn off their house for a remodel. I also know of a co-worker in another office who has an outdoor wedding planned this weekend. So perhaps not everyone in Western Washington is greeting the rain with joy. But I am!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pleasantness

The weather has cooled off. I have some windows open right now and we don't need air conditioning. Huzzah.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Visiting

Went to my sister-in-law's Sunday afternoon. Here she is working on a quilt.

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Looking out the window behind her, I could see some cows that belong to my niece and her husband.



They saw me looking at them, and they looked back at me.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday morning coming down

This was a favorite song of my brother Dan. He said it was the song that made him go back to church.



I'm guessing the poignant lines, it took me back to something that I'd lost / Somewhere, somehow along the way, affected my brother, and:

I stopped beside a Sunday school 
And listened to the songs they were singing. 
Then I headed down the street, 
And somewhere far away a lonely bell was ringing, 
And it echoed through the canyon 
Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

We have Sunday observance in our bones in my family. I thought of posting this on Facebook with the remark about my brother, and then I imagined one of my church friends saying, "What would it take to make you come back to church?" And I imagined myself replying, "Pray for me."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A link to a good poem

Reading Out Loud to my Father, by Jane Kenyon

Things that take longer than you expect

I went out on my deck this morning, determined to do some work since it was perfect weather--we've had a cooling trend, so it was cloudy and pleasant outside. I wanted to plant some lavender and wallflowers but thought, first I'll get rid of that box. I had a huge box full of large pieces of styrofoam, which had contained the disassembled bench my sister-in-law and niece put together for me more than a month ago. I thought I could break up the pieces of styrofoam and put them in a big black garbage bag and then cut the box down into manageable pieces. Well, it took three big black garbage bags to hold all the styrofoam, and then cutting the box up was not as easy as I had imagined. The right tools make all the difference, and I had the wrong tool--a pair of scissors, open wide, instead of a box cutter. Once I did get it cut into smaller pieces and bundled them with string and carried box and bags up to the garage, my allotted time for work on the deck was done.

I came inside feeling hot and sweaty. I remembered my mom's advice when I was a little girl and came in overheated from playing outside: Just sit quietly for a while and you'll feel cooler. (When I was a kid I hated that advice. Few things are more boring to an 8-year-old than sitting quietly, and a "little while" to my mom equaled a long time to me.) But as I sat down I wondered, What if a spider crawled up my pant leg? There had been spiders setting up household in that box. I tried to ignore the idea, but finally had to hurry down the hall to the bathroom, take off my clothes, turn them inside out and shake them vigorously, then put them back on (right side out).

Finally ready to sit quietly for a while, I thought that I would get on the internet and quickly use the program my dad uses to send out invitations for our family reunion. It's a clunky, non-intuitive, user-unfriendly site, and today it was running slower than molasses in January. Every time I clicked to the next step, it would sit for a while saying "waiting for blank.com" before moving on. After I went through my dad's address book on the site, clicking every relative one-by-one (and I have a large extended family), I went over the list of those I had chosen and realized one cousin was missing. So I went back into the address book and clicked that cousin. Well, then it thought I only wanted to send one invitation to that one cousin, so I had to go in and click each person again and get it right this time. Seven aunts and/or uncles. 30+ cousins, plus my own parents, siblings, and their children. Got it right then paid for the cards and the mailing. The site has this goofy system where you buy "points" to send out the cards, and pay dollar amounts for the postage. Got it all done, entered my dad's credit card information, and submitted the order. After spinning for some time, the site said Oops, some kind of error. I had to go back through the process again. Just about the time I'd planned to finish lunch and head over to my folks' I got the order confirmation screen and was free to start making lunch.

Well, even if I didn't get my lavender planted, I did get rid of that unsightly box on the deck. I don't have to keep looking at it and thinking I really should get rid of that. And even if I was late to my folks' I did get the invitations mailed out for the family reunion. My glass is half full. I think I'll make it a full glass...of gin and tonic.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Smoke gets in your eyes

This evening after I ate dinner, I sat down to read and immediately fell asleep. I woke up twice momentarily to check the time and be astonished that I was sleeping before falling asleep again. I'm awake now, at about 10:30 p.m., but I hope I haven't slept just enough to keep me from sleeping all night.

Meanwhile, in addition to hot weather, we have smokey skies. Large wildfires are burning in British Columbia, across the border to the north of us, and the smoke is blowing south to us. We need rain to clear the air and douse the fires.

Now, by mind association, here is a song I've always liked:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Scorched earth

Wow. It's hot. About an hour ago, my upstairs neighbor told me it was 97 degrees (Fahrenheit) outside, and a Facebook friend here in Whatcom County posted a picture of her back yard thermometer hitting 100! That simply doesn't happen here. This is Lynden, Washington, not Phoenix, Arizona! Nevertheless, it is happening.

This morning, when I took my dog out, a hot wind was blowing hard. I took a picture of my lavender plants by my shed (#1 of 3 sheds). Those are lavender plants I had in pots last year, and sometime, I forget when, I planted them in this little bed by the shed. They're doing pretty well, actually. Lavender are drought-tolerant plants.

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Meanwhile it's a challenge keeping the potted plants on my deck alive in this weather. No relief is in sight. The extended forecasts show it staying hot and dry for at least the next two weeks. I'm so thankful I have air conditioning both at home and work. Most people in this area are not so fortunate. Air conditioning is not considered a necessity in Western Washington. I did read on the net that the local UPS station is overloaded with window-unit air conditioners that people have been ordering.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

I ain't missing you

I saw an ad on the internet yesterday. I suppose it was for an electronic device or software. The slogan was: "Never miss another meeting." I thought, Is that supposed to make me want the product?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Listening for thunder

We've been having hot weather for some days now. I saw on the internet this morning that a thunderstorm then occurring in Everett would move north and hit my area around noon or 12:30. It's 2:00 p.m., and I haven't heard any thunder yet.

Animal lovers were warning pet owners to watch over animals who get scared by thunder and especially not to let them run off in terror and get lost. Fortunately my dog cares nothing for thunder and is likely to sleep through the storm if it ever comes.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Knitting and listening

 Recently, every time I go on Amazon through my Kindle, they've been trying to sell me Kindle Unlimited. I've mostly ignored it, but finally opted in for a free month's trial. What it is, is a $9.99 monthly fee to download and read any of the books in the Kindle Unlimited catalog, so for the price of one book, I can download and read multiple books. The fact that I won't "own" them is fairly irrelevant to me in the digital format. When I care a lot about a book, I'll buy a physical copy.

I'd been trying out some Georgette Heyer mysteries. I've read her romances since I was about 12, but never even looked at her mysteries. They're not as good, but they're not bad. I like them just because I like that older English vibe--country houses, servants, people who change their clothes for dinner, and so on. So I had read a couple of the "Inspector Hemingway" books, and the next one I wanted to read, Duplicate Death, cost $9.99 as a Kindle book, same as the $9.99 monthly charge (which I won't pay till next month anyway). Then when I downloaded it, I was also offered the audible version. I have sometimes been tempted by those with other books, but never got it because it added another several dollars to the price. I tend to buy and read Kindle books at the rate of one every few days. I buy Kindle books that I might not buy in a paper copy, just for something to read. Sometimes they're cheap, but often they're $9 - $10 or more.

So anyway, I got both the screen and recorded versions. When the recorded voice was reading, the screen version would highlight the text as the voice progressed through the book, so I could follow along if I wanted to. If I left the screen untouched long enough, it would go into sleep mode and go black, but the voice would keep reading. If I turned the voice off and read from the screen myself (as during my lunch in the break room at work), the next time I wanted to listen, it started from where I stopped reading (not from where I stopped listening).

It was entertaining because the reader had an English accent, so it helped give that Anglophile emphasis that I like. She varied her diction for the characters, so they each had a recognizable "voice." One policeman in the story was a Scot, so she did the Scottish accent.

I also had been reading lately about Jane Austen's family and her society in general, when one person might read aloud while the ladies, in particular, did their "work"--i.e. needle work of some kind. So as the novel progressed, I allowed the Kindle to read it to me while I knitted. So that was fun. I'll probably keep it up. And who knows how much knitting I'll get done.

Pros: Multiple books for the price of 1 book per month. Cons: You don't, technically, own the book--if you unsubscribe, the books you downloaded will be removed from your device. And only the book in the Kindle Unlimited catalog qualify, not every book on Amazon; however, there are more than 800,000 books in the catalog.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Old wives know what they're talking about

Earlier, I quoted a saying about my cold: "Three days coming, three days with you, and three days going." My cold started on Tuesday, June 16, so I calculated (counted on my fingers) that yesterday should be the last day. It's pretty darn close.

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Yesterday I was well enough to go to work, but felt pretty draggy and tired by late afternoon--not quite well. Today I worked and felt normal all day. My sinuses have opened up enough that I can smell (it seems I need to clean my fridge) and taste again. Still some remnant of the cold, however. Should I specify? Okay. Mucus. Yeah, that's still clearing out, not quite all gone. And maybe I feel about 96% well all over, just a small percentage of residual aches and fatigue.

This blog has provided quite the saga of my upper respiratory infection. Maybe sometime they can make a mini-series about it.

Remember mini-series (mini-serieses?)? I think the first one was "Rich Man, Poor Man." The first one I got caught up in was "Roots." I was in high school and another girl and I raved about it to each other in gym class the day after watching LeVar Burton portray Kunte Kinte.

Anyway, mini-series(es) were always "sweeping sagas," just like the saga of my head cold, which lasted nine days, just as the old wives' saying predicted.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rest needed

I went back to work Monday though I felt tired most of the day. I did not sleep well and woke up this morning with a severe headache and upset stomach. I texted in sick again to work and fell back to sleep until 11:00 a.m. When I re-awoke, I had a mild headache, sort of a memory of a headache. I think I am well enough to go back to work tomorrow. I hope I can sleep through the night. I seem to get restless leg syndrome as soon as I try to sleep. I've had bouts of that ever since I was a teenager. For a long time, I thought it was some weird mental quirk of my own, but it's a thing.

On another topic, I just discovered this afternoon that I can turn on a light under my laptop keyboard so that the keys light up. I often type late at night in an area where the lights are out (I need to call an electrician), and I've had to type by touch or adjust the angle of my screen to cast some glow onto the keyboard if I need to find a key that I don't commonly use, like a hyphen or the "home" key, for example. Today I think I accidentally punched a function key that lit up the keyboard. Now that's handy.

Okay. To bed. I must and shall sleep.

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Improving

Yesterday and today have been a little better, healthwise. I still am coughing and a little congested but I breathe a little easier. My sense of taste is not yet restored. I am going to go have coffee with my folks this afternoon, but I will buy hand sanitizer on the way to try to prevent passing my germs to them.

Meanwhile, it's a beautiful day outside. I wonder if I have the energy to plant some flowers.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Ugh

My cold is progressing--if progress is the word--through its stages. Today it descended into my chest so that I have a croupy-sounding cough. I sometimes feel cold and other times break into a sweat, which I suppose is a fever spiking and breaking. I have enough of a headache that I wonder if this is a cold or influenza.

If I recall correctly, both colds and flu are viral and not treatable by antibiotics, so not much to do but stay home and rest. A dear friend and co-worker transported my dog home from my niece's house, where he had been staying, so I have the comfort of cuddling up with him in my illness. I hope whatever I have cannot be passed from human to dog.

I remember the character Mary Richards, of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, saying that a cold is three days coming, three days with you, and three days going. Today is day three of my symptoms. They began on Tuesday as I traveled. We'll see what happens. Meanwhile my eyes ache right now, so I think it's time for more Advil and bed.

My mom called and advised me to drink lots of fluids. She needn't have bothered. She long ago instilled a voice in my head that tells me that.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sick day

I'm back home. I went down to California to attend my nephew's wedding and had a great time with my sister's whole family.

Yesterday I flew back and also started a cold. I had a raw throat when I woke up in the morning, but just drank some water and took some tylenol. But as the day went on, I became congested and sneezey. My ears were plugging and popping during landing and takeoff. During my layover in Seattle, I bought a couple packages of kleenex. I felt chilly, which is unusual for me and made me suspect I had a fever.

I felt so blah when I got home, I didn't even want to drive out to Custer to pick up my dog from my niece's house, where her kids have been caring for him. I didn't want to drive, I didn't want to carry his crate and his bag of food down stairs. So I asked her to keep him another day.

Symptoms did not improve overnight, so I texted in sick to work. In the old days, I would have called in sick. My home is a couple inches deep in used kleenex. I still am stopped up in my sinuses and feeling tired and chilled. I may ask my niece to keep the dog another day.

I'm just lolling around the house, mouth-breathing, blowing my nose, reading a bit, watching a bit of TV, dozing off, and drinking water.

I'm so glad I didn't get sick while I was visiting with my sister's family. I hope I was not incubating and contagious while in their midst. Meanwhile, I feel I'm doing my co-workers a favor by staying home in this condition. No one wants to catch this cold.

I'm reading on my Kindle a book about C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien's literary group, the Inklings. It's okay. If I were feeling better, I'd link to it at Amazon, but that feels like too much trouble right now. Maybe I'll go lie around some more.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Good idea

Yesterday I traveled by airplane. On one leg of the trip, after we took off, a lady came walking up the aisle to the front of the plane, where the restroom was. The flight attendant, who was still buckled into her seat. told her that the captain had not turned off the seatbelt light, so she needed to return to her seat. A conversation ensued in which the only word audible to me was "diarrhea." It occurred more than once, and then the lady proceeded to the restroom.

Good idea.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

No scratching

Bought this guy some anti-flea medicine today.

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It was pretty pricey, but I guess it's worth it to keep him (and me, and the house) flea-free.

First and last

The first sentence of Pride and Prejudice is famous, but what about its last sentence? and the first and last sentences of Jane Austen's other novels? Here they are.

Northanger Abbey

First: No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine.

Last: To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty-six and eighteen is to do pretty well; and professing myself moreover convinced that the general’s unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience.

Sense and Sensibility

First: The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex.

Last: Between Barton and Delaford there was that constant communication which strong family affection would naturally dictate; and among the merits and the happiness of Elinor and Marianne, let it not be ranked as the least considerable, that, though sisters, and living almost within sight of each other, they could live without disagreement between themselves, or producing coolness between their husbands.

Pride and Prejudice

First: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Last: Darcy, as well as Elizabeth, really loved them [Elizabeth's Uncle and Aunt Gardiner]; and they were both ever sensible of the warmest gratitude towards the persons who, by bringing her into Derbyshire, had been the means of uniting them.

Mansfield Park

First: About thirty years ago Miss Maria Ward, of Huntingdon, with only seven thousand pounds, had the good luck to captivate Sir Thomas Bertram, of Mansfield Park, in the county of Northampton, and to be thereby raised to the rank of a baronet’s lady, with all the comforts and consequences of an handsome house and large income.

Last: On that event they removed to Mansfield; and the Parsonage there, which, under each of its two former owners, Fanny had never been able to approach but with some painful sensation of restraint or alarm, soon grew as dear to her heart, and as thoroughly perfect in her eyes, as everything else within the view and patronage of Mansfield Park had long been.

Emma

First: Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

Last: But, in spite of these deficiencies ["Very little white satin, very few lace veils; a most pitiful business!"], the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union.

Persuasion

First: Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs changed naturally into pity and contempt as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century; and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed.

Last: She gloried in being a sailor’s wife, but she must pay the tax of quick alarm for belonging to that profession which is, if possible, more distinguished in its domestic virtues than in its national importance.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Camp fire girl

I just fired up the barbecue and now I'm waiting for it to get nice and hot so I can grill some meat. The smell of the smoke made me remember about 25-30 years ago when I used to go camping with the singles group from my church. We camped a lot at Big Sur. (I lived in California at that time.) It was nice to camp with a big group like that, because I had very little preparation to do. I frequently volunteered to organize the camping. I would hold a meeting at my home and go through what needed to be done and bought, and various people would volunteer. Then I was done until it was time to throw my sleeping bag and some clothes in the car and head out there. Often I carpooled, so I didn't even have to drive. All I had to do was sit by the fire, drink wine, and enjoy myself. I did help with cooking and cleanup, of course. During the day, we would go hiking. Back then I was fit and trim. Those were good times.

Driving Mr. Doggy

It's such a beautiful day in Western Washington, I took my parents for a drive to Birch Bay. My dog was with us, and he was so excited/nervous to be in the car that he panted loudly and incessantly for the duration of the drive.

He was in the back seat with my dad but would frequently put his front paws on the center console between the front seats so that his face was between me and my mom. Panting loudly and incessantly.

Sometimes I would try to push him back with my hand or elbow him back with my arm, but that doesn't help with the driving, so a few times I just turned my head and blew in his face. Dogs don't like that. He would retreat for a little while. Eventually, when I just turned my head even without blowing at him, he would wince and draw back.

I remember when Ellen Degeneres did stand-up, she said (approximately), "My dog hates it when I blow in his face. You know who else hates it? My grandmother." Ba-dum ching. Thanks, folks, I'll be here all week. Try the veal.

Shoe box

I now have a bench by my door. It's for me to sit on while I put on and take off my shoes. I ordered it quite a few weeks ago, and it arrived disassembled in a big box. On Memorial Day, when my family were over, I was going to say I put it together with the help of my sister-in-law and niece, but it would be more correct to say I watched while my sister-in-law and niece put it together.

Here it is.

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I have been vacuuming the area this morning. Lots of dirt and grass clippings get tracked in.

There's more. The bench seat is hinged, and when you open it - voila! - there is space to store my shoes. I vacuumed the shoes, too, before putting them in the box.

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Previously, all my shoes were scattered around the entrance area, just ready to trip the unwary as they entered. The less frequently worn shoes were dusty and, again, grass clippings and dirt abounded. Now it's all tidy. As a college friend of mine would say, "I'm such a Becky Home Ecky."

P.S. That's a new rug, too, that you see the corner of.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Oh, deer

This morning as I was driving in to work (southbound on the Guide Meridian, for locals), as I was in the outskirts of Bellingham, a deer ran across the road right in front of my car. I had to tap the brakes to avoid him (her? no antlers). That's the third time I've seen a deer in Bellingham. The other two times were well within city limits, once by Barkley Village (before the movie theaters were built) and once on Orleans, between Alabama and Sunset. That time, the deer was grazing on someone's front yard.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Nature scenes

The Washington Post has an article Just looking at nature can help your brain work better, study finds. Science is always discovering what literature has taught for centuries. Here is Jane Austen, in her novel, Mansfield Park:

Fanny agreed to it, and had the pleasure ... of having his eyes soon turned, like hers, towards the scene without, where all that was solemn, and soothing, and lovely, appeared in the brilliancy of an unclouded night, and the contrast of the deep shade of the woods. Fanny spoke her feelings. “Here’s harmony!” said she; “here’s repose! Here’s what may leave all painting and all music behind, and what poetry only can attempt to describe! Here’s what may tranquillise every care, and lift the heart to rapture! When I look out on such a night as this, I feel as if there could be neither wickedness nor sorrow in the world; and there certainly would be less of both if the sublimity of Nature were more attended to, and people were carried more out of themselves by contemplating such a scene.”

Thursday, May 21, 2015

So sensitive

I mowed the lawn this evening after I got home from work. It was a pleasant job in many ways, as the grass is cool and the air was warm. However. After I was a little more than half done, the flying grass clippings and dirt triggered my allergies. My sinuses filled. I sneezed to the right and I sneezed to the left. I snorted in an unfeminine manner.

By the time I finished mowing and came inside, my eyes were streaming, my nose was congested, and my skin was itchy. I hurried to gather supplies then blew my nose repeatedly, put allergy eye drops in my eyes, squirted fluticasone up each nostril, and took a drugstore-brand Benadryl. I told myself that if I did not feel better in 20 minutes, I would take another pill. Thankfully, I did feel better.

I should go to bed early tonight. With the aid of the antihistamine, I should fall asleep quickly.

The life of a delicate flower is not an easy one.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A pleasant afternoon

Some days you go out on your deck on a sunny afternoon to pot flowers. You bring your little dog for company. You're wearing a vest because you're chilly. After a while, you take off your vest and hang it over the back of your chair. It's warm out. Eventually, you take a break and sit in a lounging chair. You watch your dog as he wanders around, sniffing the air and objects, trying out different places to lie down in the sun or in the shade. Sometimes he stops and looks at you, just to see if you're okay and if you're okay with what he's doing.

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Yesterday was such a day.

The plant he's looking through is a type of flower you've never had before this spring. You bought it because the colors were so rich and deep.



What is the name of that plant? You find the tag.



The Latin name is easily forgettable, but the folk name is amusing: "ladies' purses."

A plane flies overhead in the clear air.



It leaves a condensation trail in the blue sky.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

This and death

Why, looky there. It's three days until tax returns are due. Better get on that. Yippee skippee, as a certain nephew of mine says.

Each year, the longest tax-related task is finding the W-2 I received back in January.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Radish sandwiches

The other day, I was thinking about cucumber sandwiches, and today, courtesy of P. Allen Smith, I read about radish sandwiches. Those sound good, too. I like radishes in a salad.

Radishes make me burp. I debated whether to share that and decided yes.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Cukes

This evening after work I mowed the lawn. I mowed carefully and thoroughly and did a fine job, if I do say so myself. While I was cutting, the grass smelled like cucumbers to me. It smelled green. I started to think about those cucumber sandwiches you get when you go to a tea place. White bread with no crust, butter, and thin slices of cucumber. On my own, I would never have come up with idea of a cucumber sandwich, but they're tasty on a summer's day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Two sleeps

Recently I've had a tendency to fall asleep after supper for an hour or two, then wake up for a few hours, then go to bed. In some ways it's unhandy, but I figured if it all adds up to eight hours or so, it's all to the good. I know several people, including members of my family, who have talked about a similar sleep pattern. So I googled, and found plenty of articles about "bimodal sleep." It's a thing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Springing

I'm so glad that the mornings are starting to get lighter. It's about 7:00 a.m., and I've had the blinds open for a while already. During the winter, I can't do that because it's as dark as night outside. I mean, of course I could open the blinds, but all I'd see would be my reflection in the glass. Now I can see the yard and the bushes down by the creek.

The light helps me wake up in the first place. In the winter, I could sleep till who knows when, but now when I wake up a little, I see some light in the windows, and I know it's morning, not the middle of the night.

I have been buying plants and flowers. I need to start getting them into the ground and into pots.

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I have visited three nurseries so far this spring, the Garden Spot Nursery, My Garden Nursery (new--opening where Bakerview Nursery used to be), and Kent's Garden & Nursery. I still plan to go to Vander Giessen Nursery and Van Wingerden Greenhouses. I also have bought and will buy plants from out in front of grocery stores, drug stores, and hardware stores.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Christ is risen!

He is risen indeed!

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John 20: 1-9

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

Friday, April 3, 2015

We call this Friday good

T. S. Eliot
"East Coker," from The Four Quartets
Part IV.



The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer's art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam's curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Looking out

When I put the dog on his leash this morning to walk around our backyard, I asked myself if I should take my camera with. At first myself answered no because I have many, many pictures of my back yard, countless shots of the creek at high and low water, and even quite a series of shots of the forsythia bush I only planted last fall. But then I said to myself that if I saw a duck or heron I would want to take a picture, although myself reminded me that usually by the time I get my camera out of my pocket and switched on the bird has flown. I took the camera with anyway, but I didn't take any pictures outside.

It is cold and windy out, and the wind throws tiny drops of cold rain at one. Usually I am sheltered from the wind in our backyard because it is a declivity, but this morning it's blowing even there. I imagine, then, that up at street level it's an even colder, harder wind. So I got damp and chilly on the walk.

When I got inside, I took a picture through a living room window, since that is the kind of day it is--a day to stay inside and look out the window at the wind and rain.

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You can still see the forsythia in bloom. I made sure to plant it where I can see it from the living room windows so that in springs where the cold lingers and most flowers delay their blooming, when I am color-starved, I can look out and see that yellow bush. This has been an early spring, so that lots of fruit trees have bloomed already, but some years the forsythia is a lonely advance guard.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Westering

This is kind of a cool picture I took a couple weeks ago.

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It's looking west (where the sun sets) along the creek. I was walking the dog after work. It was before Daylight Saving Time kicked in and two or three weeks further back toward last winter's solstice so the sun was already close to the horizon before 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Workaday

Today was Tuesday, and I went to work again.

I've started reading a book called The Pleasures and Sorrows of Workby Alain de Botton. It's enjoyable--good writing, interesting thoughts.


Monday, March 9, 2015

Monday, Monday

Today was Monday. I went to work. (Tries to think of something interesting to say.) I guess a highlight was that a co-worker brought in some homemade chili so I had some for lunch.

I have the following comment to make about Daylight Savings Time:

video

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Firsts

We are still enjoying our extraordinarily early spring here in the Pacific Northwest. Yesterday in the morning I pottered on my deck, pulling old dead plants out of pots and watering the honeysuckle, which already is leafing out. It was my first potter of the year. Today I mowed the lawn for the first time.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Time Marches on

I found this poem on the web. I don't know who Susan Reiner is; I couldn't find a poet of such name anywhere, just the one poem attributed to her. Happy March 1st.

Spring Cleaning
by Susan Reiner

March bustles in on windy feet
And sweeps my doorstep and my street.
She washes and cleans with pounding rains,
Scrubbing the earth of winter stains.
She shakes the grime from carpet green
Till naught but fresh new blades are seen.
Then, house in order, all neat as a pin,
She ushers gentle springtime in
.

Apparently, March 1st is St. David's Day in Wales--St. David being the patron saint of Wales. I had not quite realized that. I knew that St. George was for England, St. James for Scotland, and St. Patrick for Ireland. I believe St. Teresa of Avila is one of two patron saints of Spain, and I think St. Joan of Arc is the patron saint of France. I wonder who is the patron saint of the United States? I just searched online, and the U.S. patron saint is Mary, the Immaculate Conception. I like better when someone local is the saint. I'm sure there must be saints from the U.S. that could become patron saints for us. A number of countries have more than one.

Actually, I'm not even a Roman Catholic, although of course I am a "catholic" as in "the holy catholic church, the communion of the saints."

Friday, February 27, 2015

Abide

Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.
(Luke 24:29)

Mostly I don't blog about events in my life because I don't want to compromise anyone else's privacy. But tonight it is heavy on my heart that tomorrow we'll start moving my mom into an assisted living facility. My dad will stay in their current apartment. They will be in the same building but in separate wings. I think this is the right thing to do, given their differing needs. I am glad they're in an excellent establishment. As far as I know, they feel okay about it.

But I am sad. Even with all the good things, it's sad to see life go inexorably through its stages toward the inevitable end. I am so blessed that my parents' stable, loving marriage has been a foundation for my life. They have been married for over 62 years. I'm sad to move them into separate units.

Many years ago, when I was a young woman, my mom was about the age I am now, and my mom's mom was not quite as old as my mom is now, my grandma was in an assisted living facility, too. It was in New Jersey, her home state. My parents and I visited there shortly after I graduated from high school. Here we are...I am on the left, 18 years old:

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That visit was the last time I saw my maternal grandmother. I remember that I saw her in the dining hall and after dinner the staff led the residents in singing "Count Your Blessings." Afterwards, my grandma complained that she and others wanted to sing "Abide With Me," but the staff made them sing "Count Your Blessings."

For my mom's mom, then, here is the hymn of her choice:



Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
change and decay in all around I see;
O, thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need thy presence every passing hour.
What but thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless;
ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes;
shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Complete

Okay. Well, here it is.

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A knit bookmark. I laid it on the closed lid of my laptop to take the picture.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bookmark

The book I bought, Knit One, Purl a Prayer, is good so far. At the end of each chapter, she has a knitting project, and I am doing the first one, a bookmark that I am going to give a friend who recently had surgery, and I am giving her a book to put it in. I am almost done. I will probably finish tonight, although I am quite sleepy, so maybe I'll wait until tomorrow. When it's done I'll take a picture.

Since I am knitting this for a friend and integrating prayer, as I knit I've been praying for my friend. Sometimes I just keep her in my mind as I work, sometimes I think verbal prayers. This evening, I've been trying different phrases with the stitches, like, "Lord, bless [name]" with each stitch, then more rhythmically, insert needle to "Kyrie" and complete the stitch to "eleison." Or one stitch "In the name of the Father," next stitch, "and of the Son," next stitch, "and of the Holy Spirit." Or insert needle to "Lord," wrap the thread to "have mercy," pull the stitch complete to "on [name]."

It's a little project; you cast on just 10 stitches, and I guess it's about 50 rows. I just have 4 more rows to go, then I'll have to cast off, and there are instructions how to make a tassel.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tally ho

This time around with my knitting, I am keeping track of my pattern by these marks.

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I had to google what to call them. At first I tried "hash marks," and that could qualify, but it also means marks on a sports field and the "pound sign" or "number symbol" # (also known as a "hashtag" by people savvy enough to tweet). But the more precise term seemed to be "tally marks."

Since I need to knit 4 rows then purl 1, I can make an upright mark after each knitted row, then slash across after I purl a row.

The flaw would be if I forget to make the mark after each row, and that is a real possibility. However, this is still likely to be more accurate than my unassisted memory.

There's also the issue of my handwriting. You might notice in the 3rd group, the 3rd line has a squiggle next to it. Was that just a sloppy stroke on the 3rd mark? Or was it a 4th mark that I made tinily and messily because I was sleepy? I asked myself that this evening, and decided to go with the sloppy 3rd stroke hypothesis. I knit a row and the purled a row. I had actually gotten up and gone on to another activity before I remembered to go back and make the purl slash.

So not a flawless system, just less flawed than no system at all.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Little House

Yesterday was Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthday. I loved her books, starting in third grade. When I was in that grade, and I guess age 8, my family moved from one state to another. In the new school, on my first day there, when it was time for the teacher to read a story out loud to us, she read the next chapter in the book she had already been reading to the class. It was the chapter in On the Banks of Plum Creek where mean, stuck-up Nellie Olson gets her comeuppance by getting leeches on her legs in the creek and screaming and being horrified. My classmates shouted with laughter.

Later (I don't know if it was the same day), we went to the school library where we could each check out a book. We sat down at tables and the teacher told us that the quietest table could go first to pick out their books. We all tried to be quiet, but she chose a different table than mine. The girl next to me said, "Oh, they'll get all the Laura Ingalls Wilder books!" I can't remember when I got one to read on my own--I may even have previously read Little House in the Big Woods without knowing who the author was--but from about that time, I read her books through and through.

In older grades, when my mom would take me to the public library, I usually checked out multiple books, maybe six or eight. I would pick out ones I thought I might like, then get one or two of the Little House books to re-read. Even as late as seventh and eighth grade, a friend and I would play "pioneers," which simply consisted of pretending to be pioneers. We may have been influenced by some other books, like Caddie Woodlawn or On to Oregon, but our primary ideas of pioneer life came from the Little House series.

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By the way, I did not really like the TV series that Michael Landon created. It wandered far, far from the books, and was basically a TV show where the characters happened to have the same names as characters in the books. Also, it was emotionally overwrought and manipulative in ways that Laura Ingalls Wilder's writing never was.