Archive for October 2010

6 – 37

October 30, 2010

The Spartans are a  good team.    And we lost “good” today.

  6 – 37 .    Iowa looked very  strong and determined;  played the way we’ve been playing.     I watch these games because I like the game of football.   I pick my teams for other reasons.

Makes for an enjoyable football season that way.


October 28, 2010

Following up from yesterday’s posting:

After a windstorm, along the pathway, in the Tunnel.    

On the pathway or right at the edge, the Tunnel was littered that day with many rather thick branches that had fallen fifty to a hundred or more feet onto the ground.   Some of them were quite spiky little pieces:

Some would have just made effective clubs:

It takes a lot to spook me, but I remember getting a bit unsettled during that “walk in the park.”      Every twenty or thirty feet there was a reminder that danger rains down on an unsuspecting “walker.” 

You see, in American English,  a “walk in the park” is a phrase that suggests that someone is  having an easy time of it,  just “sailing through life” without  ordinary difficulties affecting him.   And there is the subtle suggestion that those who are talking about his apparent good fortune know something that he doesn’t know.   

Here is my “walk in the park” –

It’s such a pretty park.   I’d like to walk through it, forever unaware of dangers.    Forever ignorant of what lies ahead — or what could come raining down on me from above.

Internally, in my interior life, I’m okay;   and with the help of God I’m getting more strongly “okay.”     I know what the Fruits of the Spirit are, and one time I was teaching them to my class.   It was then, while the class and I were working out the meaning of these fruits, that they really began to take hold.   

In the little letter to the Galatians, chapter 5:    But the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity,  mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. . .

Imagine having those things growing inside you!    It’s a New Life that Christ offers us all, and it is He who works in us – with our active participation.     Those “fruits,”  those qualities grow in us as we exercise them in whatever circumstances we walk through.   St. Paul goes on to say:    If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

As   November approaches,  the “random thoughts” from the Spruce Tunnel may take on a darker tone for a while;  but for a Christian,  whatever rains down on us, we really can have our “walk in the park.” 

St. Paul’s words above are taken from Galatians 5:22, 23, 25.     The English words closely match the original Greek words.    They are not the simplified, editorialized words of today’s modernized English Bibles.     These original words are rich and deeply satisfying;  they are well worth the time it takes to learn their meanings.


October 27, 2010

Driving home on the street where I live:  

It was a great day to be outside today.   Deep blue skies, strong gusts of wind, and the roar of the trees overhead that made  you think of standing along the ocean shore with the surf roaring in and pounding the shore.    On the beach, if you have a friend with you, sometimes you can’t carry on a conversation because the breaking waves are so loud.   That’s the way it was with the trees overhead today, like an ocean surf pounding through the treetops a hundred or more feet up above.

Home sweet home –  in the Fall:

I was raking up those beauties throughout the day today.   They’re not really in the trees anymore.  If you step outside the wind will pick them up and blow a blizzard of leaves hard against you.    It was blowing in the right direction,  so with the duty of leaf-raking on my mind,  I went out periodically to rake sections of our yard…our infintely endless yard….

My mind wandered aimlessly around its own landscape, and paused for a moment on “periculum.”    Yes…a Latin word,  the origin of our English word “peril.”   It was in  my mind because I was studying it recently, with all its many interesting meanings.  

And off my mind went….Funny how we can recognize danger when it’s reported on television or taught in some far-off hypothetical situation, but often we overlook the danger  when it’s right in our own front yard….That’s what I was thinking as I bent over to pick up some small branches that had been falling from the trees overhead in our wind storm.  

It occurred to me that “one shouldn’t stand under tall trees in a windstorm.”    After I tossed the little branches away, I took a few steps, picked up the rake, turned around – and couldn’t believe my eyes.  There, right where I had been picking up those little branches, was a very big branch, as long as I am tall.  It wasn’t there three seconds before.   I was there, not this big branch (looking small in the photo). 

The funny this is, last year this time I had taken some photos in The Spruce Tunnel after another windy day.   I had intended to write about the dangers of walking under trees in the wind, with those branches, like javelins, all over the ground….

Well, no harm done.   

I went indoors, turned off the furnace,  opened the windows so I could hear the “surf” roraring up high, and  returned to my studies:  periculum, periculi, periculo;  O Pericula!!!


October 26, 2010

All Sunday afternoon and into the evening Bears fans were trying to figure out what in the world the Bears were doing on the field!   They’re off for two weeks, now, and it’s going to take that long to figure out that last game.      Along the way, I was hearing strange reports from Oakland about what the Raiders were doing!    

They took off and got way, way ahead of the Broncos, winning by an unbelievable 59-14.   

Well, here’s the announcement I’ve been kind of holding back on for a while –  A New Raiders Fan:

Yes, sir –  the Raiders have a “Tiny Kicker” !      

 Check out that profile.
And the Mama:

Half way across the country:  We’re with you Raiders fans!

Who would have guessed a Bear would have a Raiders grandson?!


October 25, 2010

I walked straight into that tunnel a day or two ago:

There really is a “spruce tunneL”  and that’s the pathway into it.   You’d think the way ahead is as dark as that black square up there, but when you get closer, when you’re not quite into the towering Spruces, you first have to round a corner into glorious autumn light –

Even around the corner, as you approach some of the Spruces,  the yellow light rules the scene:

The Tunnel itself is nearly always dark and awesome, but it was all lit up that day –

There’s a metaphor here, but I don’t want to face it too directly.    When I first saw that entranceway up ahead, I thought, “What a black hole I’m walking into by myself.”

I thought it would be a “bad day” for photographs…and maybe a little dangerous walking through miles of dark woods, alone.  

I had no idea of the abundance of light I would find.    

“Random thoughts in the Spruce Tunnel”   this blog says at the top.     Let this day’s journey into the Tunnel give you some random thoughts too.


October 23, 2010


Northwestern was way ahead, holding us down, and time for us to punt.

The announcers said,  Northwestern will remember that (successful) faked punt against Northwestern and be on the lookout for just about anything from the Spartans….They shoulda listened to the announcers. 

MSU did it again!   They lined up for the punt, the whole team looking a little less energetic as the punt began — then the quarterback tossed off a good long one to the wide receiver – and BOOM !   the whole game turned around at that point!  

Ahhhhh.    But if you’re not into football, I’ll spare you each of the glorious deals of the last half of the game!   35 – 27!  


I’ll just go out and rake up some leaves now, and use up a little of this football energy…..


October 22, 2010

Well, we won’t starve!

I’m part of God’s good process:   put one potato in the ground, get two back.   Or three or four!

I saw the squirrels burying acorns, so I got the idea to check out what’s left of the garden.    It was a little hard to tell the acorns from the potatoes because they were both the same color, but after you rub the dirt off, you can tell by the shape.

Here they are, in situ, so to speak:

Bonus –  I also found three more onions.  I’m quite sure there are more down there, but I’ll save that little treat for later.   These guys are an inch to an inch and a half long!      It’s possible, now that the poison ivy is dying back, that I’ll find more potato plants to dig under in a little while.

I do believe I’ll try this again next year.

A Little Addendum to this Post:

Hubbie says I ought to be able to distinguish a potato from an acorn by its size…not just its shape.   

Hubbie says, Why don’t you try making itty-bitty french fries out of those….

Hubbie says we can save them for when our Minnesota cousins come over for the Game — and then we can serve them one on each plate…..

Hubbie is having altogether too much fun with my crop.


October 21, 2010

Early Friday morning I’ll be getting up and driving past these fields:

They are literally “world famous” fields associated with our local university.  They’re not famous in the way movie stars are famous, of course, but they are well-known among reserachers in crop science and animal science.  Many important advances in these sciences began here in these fields.

One of our neighbors worked at the Poultry Research Center, which you can see up ahead there:

I took these photos on my way to class last Friday morning.    We are studying the Parables of  Jesus.   Most of them are about the Kingdom of God.       In the “fullness of time”  the Kingdom was established among us, it grew, and it will some day be completely fulfilled at the end of time, passing through phases, like seasons.

There in the green pastures you can see many little white dots.   They are Canadian Geese, hundreds, thousands, some resting on the grass, some fluttering around.    It’s not the best picture, but I was driving by at 50 m.p.h. and that’s what I got out my side window.

In the evening I can hear them honking overhead, and I run outside with my camera and try to get their picture.They have to practice flocking together and forming a V.

At first they form W’s, I’s, S’s, and other letters not in our alphabet.    Here they are moving from right to left, in a slow-moving T  –I won’t take any more photos of the university fields on my way to class, but I’ll try to get some better geese-in-the-sky pictures.    They do get better at making V’s as their season goes on.

It’s the “fullness’ of their season now, but soon they’ll be gone.    It’s good to be preparing for the next season to come.


October 20, 2010

Got two of these phone calls.   24 hours apart.   The first one last night was from Son who happily told us, Well, I’m ready for my Adventure tomorrow!     — thereby making me wonder if there was some substance to my darkly hyperbolic attempt at humoring myself out of my uneasiness in last night’s posting about where he was being sent today….

 The second call came just a little while ago….This time Son is driving home,  telling us about his day.     Interesting tales.   It’s a different culture up there in Flint.    People with a different approach to life….   The District Manager thought to  remind all the pharmacists up there “Not to be a hero”  if something happens.   Uh-huh.

Meanwhile, I was determined to live  a “normal life” today –  which for a person of Faith is a day filled with confidence that we are being watched over and cared for and that we are not alone, no matter what happens, no matter what we are called upon to face, to do, to fight for, to appreciate…..

A sample of everything happened today.  It was sunny and pretty outside, and then overcast and pouring rain.    There was much to do, but also time to sit down and read.    There was happy news from my  family in Florida, worrisome concerns when I watched my husband throughout the day.   Good news thinking about some people I would be seeing soon;  and a sad phone call from a good friend.    A brand-new recipe with brussel sprouts and bacon turned out much better than expected;   a familiar beef-vegetable soup I was making turned out uncharacteristically not so good – so far!     (working on that)

So it’s a normal day made up of little things.  One of the “good-ol’-days we’ll look back on some day.  

We just don’t know where each day will lead us!      We don’t know where the path is taking us!

That would be okay, though, if you know Who to follow –

Coincidentally,  two of my classes have come to a point in their lessons in which the Kingdom of Christ is being discussed.      Twice this week I get to present the verse:  “Fear not, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you a Kingdom.”   (Luke 12:32)  

“Little flock.”    Being one of the little lambs that doesn’t know anything about anything.    Knowing only to keep my eye on the Shepherd who knows how to lead us to the good things of the Kingdom.

Sweet Dreams

October 19, 2010

Note to Son:    I wish I didn’t know where you’re going tomorrow.

I’m already having nightmares and I haven’t even gone to bed yet.    

How about a little Dark Humor to keep the Bear away?

I’m insanely, irrationally fearful of where they’re sending you tomorrow – the WORST city in the world.    A third of it is boarded up.   Highest crime rate; highest unemployment rate…   Not.   Good.

I’m afraid the people there may have heard you’re coming:

You’re…..a….pharmacist…!!!    Everyone knows what pharmacists have.  

I hope they don’t decide to pay you a visit –

I’ll see you tomorrow night, right?

‘Cause that guy isn’t wearing a white medical coat….

Okay,  now all that looks silly.    It’s not going to happen.   

See, I know it could, because I go up there to that city every Sunday, and I walk out of the church at dusk and one time as I walked across the parking lot to my car I heard three gunshots echoing down the city streets but they were far away because things like that stay far away…

But that’s why we pray and that’s why we exercise our faith and that’s how we keep the bears away.


The bears may come, but the guns won’t….

I prove that every Sunday.

Sweet dreams.      I’m a Mom.    It’s  a form of insanity.

#20, #21, #22

October 18, 2010

But….who’s counting?

I put the spoon there so you can gage the size of these sweet juicy babies.    Smaller than a thumbnail!    

Way smaller.     Sighhhh….

Tomatoes.    Two or three per week.

(When does gardening end for the year?)


October 17, 2010

We go to church every Sunday (and other times) to adore and worship and praise Our Savior, and in a specific way, to enter into the Act by which he procured our salvation.  

Our “going to church”  is a cosmic event, in that it gets the attention – and audience – of Heaven itself.   For this reason, there is a presence during the Mass of far more than the humans in the area.     (A closer view above the altar):

Men conduct themselves with reverence and lead their households in  worship by their example and by their watchful care.    Women conduct themselves reverently and modestly, knowing that Jacob’s Ladder, Who is Christ Himself, is before them and is filled with Heavenly beings, moving upwards and downwards for our aid — until that specific time, when the bells ring, and even they come to a stop and bow and adore Christ . . 


In 2,000 years very , very few humans have been granted the privilege of seeing our heavenly helpers above the altar.   Nearly everybody must use their God-given imagination, informed by our Teachings  ( “whether written or by mouth”  as St. Paul says);  and believing doesn’t depend upon seeing.

But artists have helped!   The first image above was painted by John C. de Miranda of Spain, several hundred years ago. 


This is a church in New York City, Manhattan, I think.  Back in the days when all churches who called themselves “Christian” still retained Christian teachings and symbols,  the best efforts of our artists enhanced our imaginations and directed our attention to the realities behind what we merely see.   (See the steps ascending to Mt. Sion – Calvary ?)

The activity we see at the altar and the heavenly Reality that we know to be present is the  Act of Sacrificial Love, willed and accomplished by Our Creator, a Love so great we can only begin to know it and experience it here, while on Earth.  

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (Oct.17)

The image in the vision above came to St.  Margaret Mary Alacoque about 300 years ago  as a remedy for Christians who need to be reminded of the depths and riches of the Love of God.    In the modern world, of the last 300 years,  the “heart” has been designated to represent the seat of love.  And so, this image of Jesus shows for us His Sacred Heart, the “Seat” of His Love.

As this period of human history winds down, amidst all the difficulties and confusions and the weakening of faith in general,  this image was given to our imaginations to help us cling to our Faith in Our Savior and to visualize His Love for us.    

In te credo,  in te spero, te amo, te adoro…..


October 16, 2010

“Gorgeous day,”  the announcer said.     He’s right.   Fall is for . . .

. . . football –

(“We interrupt this week for a Super Big Ten Football weekend, 3 televised games, back to back….”)

Cleveland Clinic Crosses

October 15, 2010

There weren’t any.

It’s Friday today, and although we are still “newly home” from our Cleveland trip, I’ve found time to think…a little bit.    Friday kind of thoughts.   Calvary.    The Cross.

The only crosses seen in the entire Clinic at Cleveland were the kind people wore.    There were a few of those.

Italy has just banned all crucifixes from public places;   again, I think.    It’s a trend, because anti-Christians are in positions of power all over the world.  

Here is the “waiting room” areas of the Clinic’s Heart Department:

There are little alcoves all the way down that long curved hallway, and there might be a hundred or more patients waiting at any given time, discreetly, semi-privately.  But you can see them as you walk by;  and then six or seven or eight times, Hubbie and I were among the wait-ers.

Remember Princess Leia’s desperate request?   “Help me, Obi-Wan-Kenobi — You’re are only help!!

A hundred or more patients waiting there, needing the help of the doctors, some of them in desperate need.   Human lives are so short, and eventually we’ll seek an Obi-Wan-Kenobi to extend our lives….all the while knowing that one day there’ll be nothing anyone can do.   

The Christ Who died on the Cross, experiencing death as we will some day, was the first to rise from the dead — and this is “our only hope.”       The Only Death that makes Peace with GOd for us.   The Only Resurrection that opened the door for us, to the next world.

That’s what I was thinking about as I waited on those comfortable black chairs in the alcoves that line the hallways of the Cleveland Clinic;  the hallways with the bare walls that had nothing to remind the poor, sick people of Their Only Hope, after the doctors are done.


October 14, 2010

Here is that gorgeous Acrylic Fountain outside the Heart Clinic at the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio.   It’s a lovely mint green, although the color doesn’t show up in the shadows.

It’s actually a surprise that I even have this photo.   It was taken from a brand-new cell phone which I didn’t know how to work at the time.

It’s also a surprise because the trip to Cleveland came on us very suddenly.    Hubbie has severe heart disease and is in some late stage of heart failure.   The wizard-doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have him appearing to be almost normal at times, but every once in a while, the severity of the disease manifests itself, and we go to Cleveland for “more tests.”

After two sleepless nights at home, we found ourselves early Wednesday morning heading out towards our nearby Interstate, with me driving and asking Hubbie, “Okay, do I turn right to go to the emergency room or do I turn left and we drive all the way to Cleveland?”    

His face was gray, he was having trouble breathing, and once we were pointed towards the Ohio Turnpike,  he kindly informed me that his chest was feeling “tight.”    His decision was to go forward, on to Cleveland.    Made for a tense four-hour drive.

The doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, and even the janitors  (is that what they’re called now?)  were all very, very kind and gracious and friendly.   They all made us feel like guests.   

Here is the skyline of Cleveland, looking from somewhere on Lake Erie.

Hubbie wasn’t admitted to the hospital,  but the tests lasted two full days, so we had to stay in one of those shorter buildings that you see, a lovely downtown type hotel.

Hubbie is safe at home and looks pretty good.    We’ll be hearing from the doctor(s) next week sometime, after various committees see the results of the tests.

And life goes on for us again……

Deo gratias.


October 12, 2010


Stop and look.
Draw in a deep breath
Open your eyes wide and wider
Breathe in until your delight touches your joy
Let gratitude soften your eyes
And let your tears praise God the Creator

Pay your dues.


Sometimes the colors surprise you!

Lucky us in October!!     Deo Gratias!!


Photos are from my camera during our trip to the Far North.   Here, down at 42.5 degrees latitude, we get to see the color changes all over again in the coming days.


October 10, 2010

October morning sky in the Far North:

Everything was so different last Sunday, just one week ago, including getting up very, very early in the morning while the moon could still be seen, to find a church during our travels.          38 degrees out there.

But beautiful:That was the view going into town.   Kind of worth getting up to see.    

Then I found the cathedral, and the sun was sending beams of light onto the sidewalk –

This was St. Peter Cathedral, with the whole scene of the Giving of the Keys, up front, inspiring prayer and a sense of age-old truth that exists right down to today:

After,  there was time to pay homage to Bishop Frederic Baraga, missionary and shepherd to the Far North, about 150 years ago.    

Bishop Baraga was known as The Snowshoe Priest, but before the snows came, he would have seen trees like this, that I drove past on my way back.

(I have some “instructions” about these trees….next posting.)


October 10, 2010

No, not me.   The “miserable sinner” to learn from is this man:

He is St. Francis Borgia, and it is his feast day today, Oct. 10.   Here are some of his words as he began his oath to the Religious life:

“I, Francis Borgia, Duke of Gandia, a miserable sinner, unworthy of the vocation of God and of this my profession, yet trusting in the mercy of the Lord, and hoping He will be propitious to me….”
Although I know personally I am a sinner, most of the time I have no comprehension of what being a “miserable sinner” even means. I don’t have enough wisdom or knowledge to understand my own spiritual misery.  

“We understand the state of our souls better as we move towards our Holy God.”   That’s what Francis Borgia did, during the course of his whole life.   I’ve known his biography for a little while now, but  I had never before seen him in a devoutly written biography in which the saint’s motives and words are presented in the light of holiness.   The author is “devout” in that he is devoted to God, as is St. Francis Borgia, and for that reason the author is able to show us the soul  of this saint.

“Redeeming the time”  with  Francis Borgia:

Today is the 20th Sunday after Pentecost.    During this season the Church continues to teach us and lead us into a more devout and holy life – if we would just pay attention.    The Epistle Reading for today tells us to “walk circumspectly” (very carefully); “not as unwise, but as wise:  redeeming the time because the days are evil.”

“The days are evil.”    As my Friday morning class pressed the point onto me, “It’s always been this way, there’s always been evil.”    Well, yes; over the past 20 centuries, this last period of time of human history,   evil has waxed and waned.  There are some who say this planet is dying;   more importantly, it’s a dying world.  In the Gospel for today,  a Ruler comes to Jesus because his son is dying and is at the point of death.  Dom Gueranger explains that the “fever” of the passions of our business and  our pleasure is like the fever that had infected the son of the Ruler … and caused his death-dealing misery.     

This is an image of how sin makes our souls miserable unto death.

St. Paul had told us to use our time wisely,  “redeem the time,”  and to live not in the fever of our passions, but in holiness and wisdom, devoted to Our Lord.

The life of St. Francis Borgia indeed shows us  the way to live such a life.   By his religious practices, he teaches me what I can do to redeem the time I have left.   He gives us examples of disciplining the mind, the heart, and the spirit so that we can live purely and simply and devoutly before God.

St. Francis was a real person, like us.  His relic, above, brings him closer in the spiritual dimension than people can be in the merely physical dimension.  I have “affixed” this into the inside cover of his biography, where it will be handy, along with some prayers.   ( You will know my profound gratitude, S.C., when we meet Up There.)

I wrote that I have so little comprehension of sin and holiness.   This generation that we are living in is so devoted to pleasure and comfort, self-esteem and self-actualization, protecting our own rights and freedoms,  that any move towards self-denial for the sake of holiness seems extraordinary by today’s standards but feeble indeed compared to the spiritual concerns of this “miserable sinner” who is St. Francis Borgia, great in the eyes of the Lord.

So much to learn….

3,000,000,000 B.C.

October 9, 2010

I promised you all a little Time Travel, backwards in time:

These photos were taken on the southern shore of Lake Superior.   That would be Canada, across the water, looking north, but the Lake is too big to actually see the land on the other side.     Here is a person in the scene, for some perspective:

The locals call this area Black Rocks.    According to geologists these were once mountains taller than the Alps, severely weathered now.

There are deep water-filled crevices –

But most of these you can jump over.

These are  pyroclastic formations, created during the archaeozoic and precambrian time periods, making them 2.5 billion to 4 billion years old, as geologists like to date things.    This was a period when, according to them, there was very little oxygen in the air;  the atmosphere was quite different and the trees and grasses and flowers that are familiar to us now couldn’t grow then.

“Pyroclastic” is “rock” layers formed by extreme heat and pressures that forced various minerals together and through each other.  The resulting patterns look almost like petroglyphs – ancient writing  on rocks –

Black Rocks is  an area of ancient rock formations from a very different earth.   After much uplifting and down-sinking of proto-continents, the area was scrubbed down by the various glaciers that grew and receded for many millions of years.   Here is Hubbie pointing to some rock debris at the tree  line, dropped by the underbelly of the last melting glacier, about 12,000 years ago:

The slow movement of the glaciers made grooves in the hard schist and tuss and gneiss and granite and greenstone basalt…

The grooves are generally parallel, telltale signs of glacial movement:

All except for this one which had us puzzled.    It was almost a circle.  As much as we examined it, we couldn’t tell any difference between this “round groove” and the parallel ones; there was no evidence that it had been carved out by someone, but we had no idea what made it that way –

It’s a great place to climb and get down close to the water of a Great Lake that was carved out by a glacial covering more than a mile high, close to a time so ancient and mysterious that it becomes irrelevant to ask questions.   We’ve taken our children here many times and let them play and climb and experience the earth –

Back to the “present” now.    The ore boat on the horizon passing by is  a reminder that the Lake is a “highway” too, a highway for industry, transporting iron ore to make the iron and steel that once made our country an industrial giant.

More ore boats in future photos….

#18, #19

October 8, 2010

Speaking of food….

. . .the garden was “hard at work’ while we were gone…

Two more little tomato marbles, one red, one green.


Not quite worth putting under the Food category.