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.


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.


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.