Archive for July 2011


July 29, 2011

Yesterday I wrote to you “from the O of the word Wisconsin” (see yesterday’s map).    Today I was in Wisconsin and then north of the “O”  by about 200 miles.   Far North:

Warnings for moose, warnings for elk;   and deer playing on the highways as though the cars were the intruders.

I visited my cousin who lives at the end of this road:

……..Way, way far away at the end.     I asked her if she can see “lots of stars” at night because it must be so dark out there away from city lights.    She said she barricades herself inside her home when it gets dark.    Counts the bear claw marks in the morning.    Uh-huh.

Lots of critters along that road too.

I do believe people in the Far North have a different relationship with the critters around them:

Travel can be very enlightening.

(Please note gentle humor in  the words I’ve written in this post.)

(Some of the words.)


July 28, 2011

Well, I’ve made it all the way to Wisconsin now.   I’m actually writing from the center of the O in the word Wisconsin on the map,  so to speak.    I’m apparently playing peek-a-boo with my GPS and cell phone towers, so I can’t  send the photos I took today to The Spruce Tunnel.

However, I can give you something to think about….(photos to follow).   I’ve seen such contrasts of world views here.   It’s not surprising, really.    I suppose every state in our country could illustrate the same kind of thing, and admittedly the reason I came to Wisconsin was to see the location of a religious event that occurred in 1859, so I set myself up to see this “contrast of worlds.”

The “event” involved a well-liked young immigrant lady of the 18th century who was walking to a grist mill in  this area of Wisconsin when she saw a Lady standing between two trees.   Knowing immediately this was something strange and out of the ordinary, she consulted her priest to find out what to do.  Eventually, carefully, cautiously, she learned that the Lady asked of her to “gather the children” of the immigrants and teach them their Faith, because America is a land of heresies and the children who don’t know the content of their faith can easily be led astray.

Here’s the way it’s sometimes said today:  “If a man doesn’t believe in God,  he doesn’t believe in nothing;   he’ll believe in anything!”

Sr. Adele Joseph Brise did take up the mission requested of her, and the children were taught, and the Faith existed, strong and healthy, for many generations here in the area.

That’s the good part.    But after enjoying an afternoon in the area where all this happened,  I couldn’t help being jarred by the contrast with what was actually right in front of my eyes, all over, on the streets and roads and in the stores and restaurants, and especially on the  television.    Of course I’m looking at surface appearances, the general picture, the world as a whole.

But I just wonder how the people I’m seeing would regard such things as a heavenly mission and a serious vocation;  piety and devotion;  respect and obedience;  modesty and humility for both young ladies and young men; self-sacrifice and service;   attention to the details of one’s faith, handed down through the centuries, norather than  a spirituality which allows one to pick and choose from a cafeteria of comfortable ideas…..

I could go on…..but how strange the words in the above paragraph seem to our world;   and how well the previous world would have understood them.

How rapidly the fundamental things which produced and upheld Western civilization were laid aside and now we don’t produce and we cannot uphold a civilized world.



July 27, 2011

The photos will say it today:

Left my home this morning and took to the road:

When you get on the Interstate near my house and head north, eventually you’ll be looking and looking and looking….until you finally find that tiny little vertical  gray line underneath the  yellow part of the sign:   it’s the tower of the Mackinac Bridge.   In the past, our family used to see which of us would be the first one  to spot it.

Just before I got there, I was driving through some of the great, long-distance small “mountains” of Michigan’s northern parts, and  I decided to take a “scenic lookout.”     Just to stretch my legs.

First thing I saw was this:

Isn’t that a great rock!!   It’s about five feet in diameter and an example of a layered sedimentary rock formation.  (I think.)    But it’s quite strange, from any angle.

Nearby the pathway to the scenic lookout.   Quite scenic all by itself, and very inviting:

Eventually you get closer to the “scenic lookout”  platform:

Fun to walk on, because you’re way up high.   You can just about  see the scenic hills you’re going to be looking out over.

Little did I know….a very strange thing:

The scenic lookout really just looks out over….the freeway I was just on!



July 25, 2011

My favorite time of the day:

I stared at these colors just out my front door until I finally remembered my camera.

I’m lucky to live in the northern latitudes where there are long twilights of sky blues,  light blues, amethyst,  aqua, deep powder blue, medium turquoise,  middle blue, navy blue, dark blue, blueish black…   I’m making up all those color names.  I have to.

My own Grandmother’s first language was Finnish.    She told me there were dozens of names for the different blues in that language, and when she was a little girl learning English she would have trouble because English doesn’t have as many words to describe what there is to see.

Grandma saw many blues in many twilights, when the day calms down, no need to be busy and productive anymore, and there is time to think and ponder the day…and grow a little wiser.

And then Grandma entered the twilight of her life, and her life quieted down, and she spent many years thinking over her life….and she showed me how to do it, because I suppose I’m heading toward the twilight of my life too….just a few more things left to do…..and now comes the thinking and pondering and sifting through all my experiences and cherishing all the people I knew and know, and sorting out what things are important and what things don’t really matter that much.

I’ve always felt a kind of peace descending at twilight time.


July 24, 2011

Well, it was Sunday today.    It’s the Sixth Sunday after the Christian world celebrated Pentecost.   The Reading that has been traditionally appointed for this day is from Mark, The Miraculous Feeding of the Multitude.

Here’s a “traditional” picture from a children’s Sunday School book.   I’ve taught this lesson several times in my past years as a Bible Study “teacher,”  so it ought to be fairly familiar to me;  I ought to know all the lessons you can mine out of it.

But I don’t.   And today, looking at it from yet another man’s angle,  that of the homilist’s today,  I was challenged with a new question which put a deeper, more thoughtful spin on all the facts I knew about this story.

The facts are that Jesus, Great Rabbi and Prophet that He was, was teaching a large number of people.

They had left things behind and followed him away from their villages and out to the hillside  to hear Him speak.   No one wanted to leave and lose their place or miss any of the teaching.   But after three days of this outdoor “camp meeting” Jesus perceived that they had become hungry and weary.    With eternal and infinite compassion, He directed that the people sit down in an orderly fashion, and through the medium of His Apostles,  Jesus fed them – He fed them both physical, material food and He fed them with Himself, with the spiritual miracle of never-ending nourishment. . . .

That’s the telling of the event.  Here’s the new question that was asked of me:    “If you want to go down that spiritual pathway,  to be fed with spiritual food, how much inconvenience are you willing to undergo?  How much denial of the comforts of the body?   How much suffering? ”

Three days of fasting?    Three days of soaking in the Word without thought to bed, shelter, showers, and meals?

The crowd was so captivated by the words coming from Jesus that these things didn’t matter.

Of course in this  world we need to be “responsible”  and stick to our schedules so that people can depend on us.    In fact, in this modern world, we need to be very busy to meet our responsibilities.   We think.

Surely even Modern Man can allow himself to become wholly captivated by the Word….just once in a while?

How inconvenient would that really be?

(Many thanks for that question today.    I needed that!)


July 23, 2011

Oslo, Norway.    The man-who:

Have you seen this photo of the man who has been arrested for the Oslo shooting and bombing?    It was published in one of the British newspapers this weekend.

32 years old.   Not a husband.   Not a father.   Not of the  Traditional Christian Faith.     Not a productive member of his community.   Not . . . .a lot of things he could have been.   What is he instead?

I’m sure we’ll find a lot more about him in the near future.

But so far, we know one thing about him  –   “For those who have eyes to see.”  –     He is a joiner of “causes.”

And he can make big headlines.

WHAT’S IT – #17

July 23, 2011

Assuming my numbering is correct,  I’ll give you the next photo and ask:  What-is-it?

In the last posting,  I showed you a photo of a “globe” or a “bubble” that had formed in the atmosphere over one of the Hawaiian islands.    Was it a weather phenomenon?  Was it an energy field?   Some natural anomaly?

The photo in this post was released a couple of months ago and was authenticated as a work of Leonardo da Vinci.    It is named  “Salvator Mundi,”   and although it is a weird, eerie looking morphing of a Christ/Mona Lisa, what is still more puzzling is that globe that is being held in the left hand.

A globe?   A bubble?   An energy field?   A scrying glass?  An orb?

WHAT’S IT – #16

July 21, 2011

A long time ago The Spruce Tunnel ran a series of “What’s Its” ;   I think we got up to #15.   If that’s right, then tonight I offer you #16.


A globe formed in the night sky above Hawaii.   And then it slowly dissolved.     No explanation was satisfactorily made from atmospheric conditions nor from camera malfunctions or lens artifacts.

It remains unexplained.   And a bit interesting.     Here is some information from one of the Web sites that featured this picture:    “…..This video is very interesting and genuine. It was filmed by a webcam mounted on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Mauna Kea. It was captured in time lapse photography, but is still extremely interesting…..”

And stay tuned for What’s It # 17.       Related, but creepy.




July 20, 2011

“Random thoughts  while strolling  in the Tunnel”:


That’s Cooper, Hubbie’s grandson (and mine).    Looking pretty happy with his Big Friend.   His home is actually high in the Sierras, in bear country, so I guess that’s what little boys play with up there.

Cooper’s coonskin cap and ‘coon sweater is en route to him right now.  I sent it because I wanted to introduce Cooper to Daniel Boone’s life and times, show him how courageous  he was in conquering the wilderness and wildlife so that his family and others could live in peace in our great country.

That kind of bear isn’t what I had in mind.     But he looks pretty happy.    They both do.


I can’t help pondering, though, the way bear usually appear here in The Spruce Tunnel.   For these past several years, the “idea’  of bear has been a symbol in my writing of those dangerous things which lurk about, ready to spring out at us if we’re not prepared.

I mean,  let’s say you’re walking along among the Spruce, enjoying yourself.    You let yourself go, you let become unprepared,  you let your guard down, then  suddenly

–   you see one……and there’s nothing between you and the danger.

My “idea” of bear might have something to do with my childhood experience of actually being chased by a big, black, smelly, slobbering bear in the middle of the woods.   Just like that picture.

My childhood life wasn’t all that safe, stable, or secure.   I sometimes have to make an effort to see that things are “okay.”    Not that they will stay that way,  but as long as things are okay for now, maybe we can enjoy, appreciate, and give thanks for it.

Is Cooper’s life “okay” now and his task will have to be to learn to understand that sometimes it’s not?

What is life like?   Is it ultimately safe and predictable?   Or is it actually quite impersonal, hostile, and unpredictable?     Is living like dining at a big banquet?   Or are we the ones who get eaten up?

That’s why I like to study Daniel Boone.    He chose to live Free in a dangerous wilderness, but he met the danger and tamed it.   He lived in the midst of the wild things as a gentleman of his times would:   with practiced skill,  with education and faith, he was hard-working, useful, respectful and well-respected.

That sounds possible!    And worthwhile!    And enjoyable!


Maybe that’s why there are other bears in my life:

Life is a hard game, worth the effort, worth the danger, worth the bumps and bruises –   as long as there’s a  Good Goal in mind at the end.


August 7, 2011    8:00 p.m.

So much to think about when there are bears lurking in this world!


July 18, 2011

There was only one this year:

I was delighted to see it.   I loved it.

But I am filled with a deep melancholy.

It is the only rose that bloomed in my rose garden.

Having had only one this year has given me the need to look at it over and over again.   It lifted my heart to God in thanksgiving for its beauty and for me being created with the capacity to enjoy beauty.

Such beauty amidst so much sadness.



July 15, 2011

Well, since I wrote a post about Granny last time,  I might as well show what happens to a real Granny –  who got trapped by Cuteness, lying in wait for her….innocently walking by  a certain store….BOOM !!

Fell into the Trap!

But I have a Reason for this purchase.    Young Cooper, who carries’s Hubbie’s middle name,  may –  just might – carry on his interest in American History.

You see, last year this time, we were visiting the state of Missouri, and happened to find Daniel Boone’s home in the beautiful rolling hills of Missouri’s wine country.    And just this past May  I made sure to visit Fort Boonesborough in Kentucky just to learn more of this great American –  and to honor Hubbie’s interest.

So I think his grandson deserves a little……you know….remembrance of Daniel Boone.


Yes, I know.  Some of you will remind me that this coonskin cap —

….never happened.

Daniel Boone was certainly a man of great character, leadership, courage, hard work, fortitude, accomplishment, independence, and rugged individualism.   But not a man of the coonskin cap.   He never wore one.

But some people in America’s past did.    Anyone can.   Even today when it looks so cute next to a little raccoon sweater.

And, as Pilate asked:   Quid est veritas?   What is truth?

Legends, fables, myths, stories are all worthwhile and enduring when they present truth.   The  details of the story are chosen to carry the truthful things into the person’s imagination where the truths can percolate and grow along with the intellect.    The more mature one’s mind gets,  the more one understands the value of the truth, and the more one tolerates the charming little details, even though unverified.

I wish for my country that all children would come to know and love heroes like Daniel Boone!

Whether or not he ever wore a coonskin cap!!!!


July 14, 2011

Have you been reading the newspapers this week?


If you want to attend, you have to pay anywhere from $35,800 for all the fun, or as little as $500 dollars for a 3rd class ticket.   (You can’t have all the fun if you don’t pay up.)

Those of you who are politically minded know what “bully” this seems to be.   It’s the one who was asked if he wants to ration healthcare for the very sick,  the disabled,  the genetically-damaged,  and the elderly.

He was asked,  “Limiting healthcare even for your own grandmother?   What if she falls and breaks her hip?”

This person declared that people will get too old for his healthcare system.  And then, a direct quote: “There comes a time to talk to Granny about taking the little white pill,” says he.

Mmm-mmm-hmmmm.   Poor Granny.

(Bully the weak and the elderly so you can afford your healthcare scheme.  They can’t fight back.)

Oh –  the Bully was at work again this week.    If he doesn’t get what he wants, he will start taking Granny’s social security checks.

These are the tactics of a bully.    It’s how Chicago was ruled.  (That’s a Chicago newspaper link in the first line of this post.)      Remember Capone?     I grew up in that city.   It’s easy to recognize.    And I’m angry.

I’m  a granny now.


July 12, 2011

Summer evenings.

Last night, after a couple hours in the garden,   I turned around and saw this:

I enjoy “playing in the dirt”  this summer.    Working with vegetable plants that will be my food and pretty flowers is an added bonus.      But it’s work.   It’s toil.   You need a good shower and a rest afterwards.

Our Dear Lord says:  Work, for the night is coming  “when no man can work.”   (John 9:4)

And then, for some, will come cleansing in the Light,  Glory ….. and rest.

Big   “Bonus.”



July 10, 2011

They oughta make a law against . . .

…selling things at the gardening store that are TOO HEAVY for a person to carry home!

I cheerfully bought lots of things for the garden this evening, including a very, very large bag of good soil to give some of the plants a head start in the “desert dust”   that makes up my yard.     The huge bag easily slipped off the store shelf into my waiting cart.

I just didn’t think about “slipping it ” up  out of that cart, and up into the back of Hubbie’s SUV.

Never mind.  I just…finally did it.

I got all those plants and gardening things packed into the wheelbarrow and distributed,  but I think I’ll think twice about my own capabilities next time.

There is a little “tug” on my memory from earlier today…..   It’s from today’s Gospel Reading.     It’s nice to remember that Jesus selected Peter’s boat to do His teaching from.    It’s nice to know Jesus had a “private” message for Peter –  “Go back out into the waters, set out into the Deep;   draw in many fish.”

After Peter’s initial reluctance, based upon his everyday, material experience,  he did set out “into the Deep”  and Jesus was able to demonstrate  something spiritual by way of a miracle.    The nets of Peter’s boat couldn’t quite contain all the fish they had caught!     Peter called for help, and with the assistance of his qualified friends,  the fish were brought in.

(Seems like someone else had a hard time lifting all the weight he had to. . . . )

It’s not a new Gardening Law that was needed;   it’s a whole new Law of the New Covenant.


July 9, 2011

I finally did it!

A few years ago, after learning how dire our country’s economic circumstances are,  I encouraged Hubbie to bring home to us the old Push Mower that he had left at his mother’s home.    You know…….you never know about the future.    If we didn’t have enough gas for our power mower or if we couldn’t afford repairs or a replacement,  we’d still have grass growing tall.   We might have to invest in a neighborhood pet goat!

Hubbie assured me this  had been a good mower in its time,  well made and sturdy.   It wouldn’t break or fall apart or need repairs.    Or gasoline.   And it doesn’t make loud noises!

See what nice rows it makes!    We are having a bit of a drought this month, and although most of the grass is short and dried up, there were two patches  that were getting quite long.   It took a little more work than I thought.   Push, push, push in the 90 degree weather – but it was such a novelty!     Such a new thing,  I didn’t quite know what to think, so I kept going.

A neighbor drove by…pulled up into my driveway.  He wasn’t smiling.   So I came over to him and said, “Look what I found!”     Then he smiled a bit as I told him all about the Push Mower;  and then, as he left,  he said, “Well, don’t overdo it.”

“Overdo it.”   That was the phrase I was trying to think of.

If the economy ever goes bad,  I won’t need a goat anymore.   Just a little elbow grease.




July 9, 2011

Left to my own devices, I would rapidly become a hermit, I think.   I did this and that today, cleaned and puttered around,  watched and read little bits of things here and there,  raised great clouds of dust as I weeded one section of my front yard in preparation for laying flowers there.

I would have been happy to continue to look down at my garden dirt, down at my laundry,  down upon my  muddy floors, down on my books….but the Church would not have it so!   The Calendar we live by says to Stop!  Pause a moment!  Look up and consider the great ones who have lived before you!

So…today is his day:

This is the most famous painting of St Thomas More;  dignified, intelligent, courageous,  chancellor of the realm — and executed because he clung to his Faith and would not change with the changing times.

We ought to also associate the following photos with ST. Thomas More.  The Tower of London, for instance, where St, Thomas lived the last months of his life, wondering if his friend, the king, would indeed have him executed:

St. Thomas and King Henry once shared the same Faith, but the king took one step away, one little (giant) step away from Matthew 16:18 and 19.    King Henry stepped off the Rock – and St. Thomas More didn’t.

And the King sent Thomas through the “Traitor’s Gate.”

At nearby Tyburn Hill, crowds gathered regularly to watch the executions of King Henry’s “enemies.”   Many saintly and faithful people were hanged, drawn, and quartered and beheaded here.    It was quite a spectacle!

Today, we don’t worry about our Faith getting us into trouble.  As a whole, society doesn’t worry much about faith at all.   Here is the location of so much fear and courage, grief and joy,  holy and godless decisions:

It’s not a big tourist stop.     The London buses pass it by.    Daughter lived for a while across the park that’s near this memorial.  She didn’t even know it was there.    She remembers that once she saw someone kneeling down at the edge of the sidewalk, but she didn’t know what the man was doing.

St.Thomas More knew what he was doing.   He is a model of courage and steadfast faith and an example of choosing God over man – even when it means our life.

His last famous words are   “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s servant first.”

I need to go back outside and finish my work in the garden.    But this time, my attention will be divided.   I’ll be looking down – and up – musing about the availability of my own courage, in times of trouble.


July 8, 2011


Good-bye to space, now.

I was there in Florida several weeks ago to see the second to the last shuttle launch.    And today was the very last shuttle launch.

I  have an emotion that I dont’ have words for.    The emotion arises from the fact that I WAS THERE at the beginning of our space program!

I was a child sitting at a desk like this, in a classroom like this,  and we were all told very solemnly that Socialist Russia has launched a vehicle that has actually reached “outer space”!    Sputnik.   They did it before we did because they were focused and hard-working and determined to beat us to space, and the implication – to us children – being we had better get serious about our schoolwork, specifically math and science.

Their premier,  Mr. Khrushchev had already publicly declared that Socialism will defeat us.  “We will BURY you!!!”  were his precise words.   We understood Socialist Russia’s focus and determination quite well.

Fortunately, I loved math and science!

I got busy and worked very hard for the best grades that the teachers could possibly give.   I still have my own slide rule on which I calculated trigonometry, logarithms, calculus….    I was in good company.   Our Space Program began before the days of computers.   We went to the moon with calculations made on slide rules.

So… that’s a picture I “borrowed” showing an early rocket launch.

Today, if we want to do science experiments in space or explorations from space,we have to rent-a-ride to  the Russian Space station.   Oh, I know it’s called the “international”  space station.   But, nevertheless,   we can’t go there on our own.    Americans can’t take themselves to the space station anymore.   The socialism that is emanating from our nation’s capital has seen to the end of our independence. . . .

Somehow, I keep remembering Mr. Khrushchev’s words.    Somehow I’m feeling a little “buried”  right now.   Maybe that’s the emotion I’m trying to describe.

I was there at the beginning.   Now I’m here.    At the end.


July 5, 2011

In short,  the “food of July”  is best eaten outdoors . . .

. . . . at night. . . . at poolside . . . .  preferably with beautiful blue underwater lights. . . and under the family fireworks on the Fourth of July weekend.

And also best  when the food is given as a gift to someone else (and their children):

Or best eaten when prepared by good friends:

And sometimes best eaten in the middle of a big picnic crowd:

Anywhere outdoors:

I guess  I’ve been doing some serious summertime eating lately.

Summer food can be so festive.    And how strange that eating outdoors is such a pleasant event.

Grab a picnic tablecloth!

You can do this only in the summer.


July 4, 2011

Not to be to grim about it today,  but just a question for us….

56 men:

56 men proposed a question:

“Can a human society govern itself?”      

The force unleashed by that question produced two things:   it produced their answer,  their cautious affirmative which we call the Declaration of Independence, signed in official history on July 4, 1776.

The second result of that question was a mandatory propagation of that question echoing down through the years and addressed to each succeeding generation.    “Can human society govern itself?”  is the question each American citizen must reckon with.

The answers must be equally forceful.    

That is, our answers must forever forcefully push back the tyranny that our Founding Fathers separated us from.  

Through the succeeding generations of our republic we have pushed back boldly, courageously, optimistically, attentively, painfully, sacrificially, willingly, happily …  proudly …  merrily ….  casually …. routinely ….. fondly ….. distractedly ….. quietly ….. confusedly ……

That’s “pushing back against the ever-present tyranny”   which never loses its focus.

Or its force.

As we hear The Star Spangled Banner played today, I like to remember that “the bombs bursting in air”  wasn’t referring to fireworks.

“Oh, say, can you see….that our flag is still there…?”



July 2, 2011

Facts are funny things.   They exist, they are real, they are true, but they can be obscured, obfuscated, confused, and made to be downright inaccessible.

I recently took a visit to this state, to see my family:It’s rather obscured by the night and by the altitude;  however, by knowing enough about the shape and location of the state, you would recognize  the peninsula of Florida.

If you had never studied much about each of our states, that would look like a meaningless, lighted-up….well, anything.   Anyone could tell you anything about that lighted-up “thing” down there.

I sometimes think that’s what’s happening to our country in these past few decades.    Our nation’s founding has become relatively unknown, and now it’s obscured and confused.   For example:  No,  the pilgrims did not come here for economic advancement, nor to conquer the natives nor to exploit the land and its treasures.

No, the Constitution wasn’t written to determine what type of  government would rule over us.

No, voters were not supposed to be uninformed, uneducated, and voting favors for themselves.

And, here’s a big one:   Our Founding Fathers knew that for a nation to survive, its population must be, as a whole, Good and Moral, with consciences well-formed by religious beliefs and natural law.      For that very reason,  our consciences must be Free!    The government must not be permitted to set up one particular religious denomination for all to follow.

Religious debate, religious expression,  religious wisdom is all incorporated into the public debate;   demonstration of religious belief is lawful in the United States that was set up by our Founding Fathers.

I was reading some news from a Florida newspaper tonight, and there was a fun poll in there for its readers.   It went something like this:    What are you going to do on the Fourth of July?

1.  Fireworks and BBQ !

2.   Reflecting on how great this country is!

3.  Work

4.  Other

Well.   I couldn’t answer the poll because there wasn’t a slot for “All of the Above.”

Lucky us!   We can all choose to all of the above!    Freedom is the reason.   Freedom of conscience.   Freedom of relgious expression, if we choose to.

Here is the view from my classroom where I teach Bible studies:

That’s our state capitol building out the window……..