Archive for August 2011

ALL DONE

August 31, 2011

I’ve got a GREAT dentist!  

I had to “lie low” for a while, no moving around,  no talking, no eating. . . .

But I think it’s time to come out of my hole.

My mouth actually feels pretty good.

Compared to how I was feeling a day two days three days a week  before this big dentist operation.   Well, I worried about it for a long time.   So glad it’s over.    Just a little more healing to do.

Time to get back into life and hang out with my friends….

And just go do normal stuff. . .

…mmmmmmpf

August 30, 2011

A little hyperbole for Tuesday:   (I’m under a little pressure.)

I like my dentist,  but . . . .

. . . . it’s going to be a little rough . . . .

Most of me doesn’t want this to happen. . . .

 

But the tiny, little grown-up part in me, knows this has to happen. . . .I’m going to let it happen. . . . .

This time tomorrow I”m going to be missing something that feels very important right now. . . .

(Maybe by tomorrow I can tone down the hyperbole a little.    Right now I’ll just deal with hyperventilating…)

 

CONNECTED

August 28, 2011

A Friend is….someone you share an experience with and you don’t even have to talk much because you know you both have similar thoughts.    Well, that’s one definition.

I sat next to my friend in church today.

We didn’t talk because she was already kneeling and praying, getting ready for things.    And then we didn’t talk some more because then I was kneeling and praying too.

And then afterwards,  when all was over,  we didn’t talk again because we were both kneeling again……just a touch and a whispered Good-bye.

But it was such a joy to be next to my friend, because we had each experienced the astonishing Presence of God and we would both have similar understandings about this Mystery.     We were most certainly “connected” during our time in church together.

I began thinking about this morning’s silent connection with my friend when I was remembering the hurricane I watched on television for many hours yesterday.   Friends along the coast texted me, and one even sent me a link to their  local TV station so I could experience the whole thing as a resident.     I felt so connected.

I hear people make jokes about the weathermen who are sent out in the high winds and  driving rain,  just to tell us it’s windy out there and pouring rain!

But it’s more than that, isn’t it.    I really don’t know how it feels to stand outside during a hurricane, but I share their fascination with these big storms.    And they’re showing me what it would feel like to be outside during one.      What’s happening to them would happen to me – if I could be there.    What’s happening to them could be happening to my friends, too.     I’m connected.     I can almost feel what everyone there is feeling.

It’s called empathy.    Seriously understanding what your friend is undergoing.    Looks like we have lots of opportunities to practice empathy.

 

 

A BIG WIDE WORLD

August 27, 2011

Our attention is on Hurricane Irene today, of course.   How fascinating to watch the slow northward track of this monster storm.

  I’ve watched this, I imagine most of us have, since its first hint blowing off the coast of Africa, across the Atlantic, and then its development in the warm waters as it entered the Caribbean.  Then we watched as it grew into a hurricane and began “attacking” the islands whose names we’ve heard so often.

Seemed remote, at first.   Just another evidence of nature’s power.

And then it got personal.     For two days now Irene has scoured over my own footprints and Rollerblade tracks that I laid down in parts of Florida and in Virginia Beach.

Here is the wonderful boardwalk of Virginia Beach.   You can walk and skate on it day and night.   There are hotels and restaurants and an amusement park to stop in at.    It’s a long one, and the sound of the  nearby ocean surf is a treat to someone who finds the ocean all new and strange.   I don’t want it damaged or flooded.

Well, for friends and family in Irene’s path today,  there may or may not be electric power, but the cell phones work, and they can communicate by texting.    We wish them well and are praying for their continued safety.

But what is this fascination with  big storms?    Hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards. . . earthquakes. . .. they all cause a kind of  excitement.

I think that’s okay, if it’s not just entertainment.    I think we just can’t help paying attention to such powerful forces.   What does it mean that there are forces of nature than we can’t control and that the world we live in is much bigger than our everyday lives and we can’t really predict what will happen to us next?

This is the “stuff” of fruitful pondering.

 “If we can’t control our world, what are we here for?”

SOME THOUGHTFUL BROODING

August 25, 2011

I have been brooding about today’s saint, ever since this morning, when I usually take the time to read-and-learn the day’s saint.    Brooding isn’t all bad,  but the more I think, the bigger I realize the task placed on our shoulders is, and daylong brooding results.

 Here is today’s saint.     St. Louis IX.       You may know him from visits to New Orleans where he sits atop a fine horse just outside of the St. Louis Cathedral.

He was king at 12 years old.   At the time,  he was a pious young man, servant of Our Lord,  and faithful and obedient to all the Church’s teachings.    As he grew into manhood, he became a pious, noble man, who considered himself a servant of Our Lord, faithful and obedient to all the teachings of the Church,  and servant and well-loved  king to his own people.  He was respected for his fairness to all, and for his effective regard and service to the poorest and most unfortunate of his realm.

He exercised his rulership over France  as much in conformity with the precepts of the Faith as is possible, although in ways that our own emasculated, effeminate, cowardly age would find “horrifying.”    Again, his people loved and respected him, and trusted his judgments.    He did not exempt himself from any of the rigors of his Faith or of the laws of his land.

So why have I been brooding?    It’s this:

For most of my childhood school career I was in a marching band.  Navy blue and gold uniforms in Illinois and black and orange uniforms in Michigan.     That’s not MY marching band in the picture, but they do have dark uniforms.

One thing my marching bands had in common was playing that great old classic:  “The St. Louis Blues.”     I can talk about the relative merits of various marching band pieces, but this one — this one crosses the line over into the very corrupt, immoral sounds of the particular seduction  of a certain low-life culture of New Orleans, steeped in sin, sex, and alcohol.   The people of that culture are not healthy, happy, or hopeful.     Yikes!   Too harsh?

(You can find samples of this music on the Internet.)

You will not find the likes of Saint Louis walking the streets of the city that gave rise to the sliding-downhill sounds of  The St. Louis Blues.

The contrast!  The conflict!      The conundrum of how we elevate The St. Louis Blues into some great example of Classical Blues,  and yet not perceive the degradation of the human condition that gives rise to the “blues.”

And yet, again,  it’s not inconceivable that one might could see Saint Louis walking down the streets of New Orleans – if he were its king today –  in search of, not the music,  but his own people who need the help of the king’s coffers, and of the king’s Faith.

If you’d watch our culture from the outside,  you’d think we think that Politics will solve the social problems of our times.    Politics won’t.   No policies, rules, regulations, taxes and redistribution of wealth, no politically correct ideas will help save our country.

Our problems lie in the realm of Faith and Morals.

We don’t have a King Louis over us, but we do have a King.   Christ the King.   We must, then,  in this world each be a “King Louis”  in our own private lives.

MENTAL DISTRACTION

August 24, 2011

We all have something that causes us  so much consternation that it  keeps us in a state of Mental Distraction until it’s All Over.

Today was my turn:

Eeeee-yewwww. . . .

Teeth don’t get better by themselves.

And six days later I have an even worse “follow-up.”

So.  I will try to thank God for the opportunity   (the reason)  to practice the good habit of Courage.

But I’m a little distracted right now.

 

 

 

MAN-MYSTERY

August 22, 2011

I don’t know how guys do it.

That’s “up there,”  the pipe and pipe things that weren’t doing what they were supposed to.

Son was visiting, and when I went down to the basement for something, he responded to my inadvertent cry of dismay as I splashed in some water — on our nice basement floor.    I was approximately under our dishwasher, and under an area that had seen a plumber before.

It was just – a surprise.   Son  came down and looked here and there and with the help of a flashlight,  a cell phone camera, and a chair, he said, “Uh-huh…mmm-hmmm.   It’s just…..won’t take too much….”  etc.,   etc.

Now, he had to work the next day, so I chose to call our trusted family plumber, who already knows these pipes.    He came over and told me  “…is where the trouble is…..see the….it will …..it just…and I’ll try to…..it goes here…. over to that…..that should work…or else I’ll have to…..”

He seemed not at all stumped by what he saw.   He gave more names to those things  in that picture than I could tell there were things there.    I know “pipe.”    I see a pipe.   I see some green, and that means it’s copper and isn’t that way when it’s all right.

The rest is mystery.

But the biggest mystery of all is:   why do guys look at this and suddenly get overcome by feelings of comprehension and confidence and competence?     It has to be a thing that men can do.     A man mystery.

And thank God for it.

BREAD

August 22, 2011

Bread.   Panis.   The staff of life.   The symbol for all that we need for life in this world.

I don’t eat a lot of bread, and it had been two weeks since there’s been a loaf in this house.   It was time.

Bread is comfort food because it nourishes us nicely;  gives us what we need.   We can ponder all the things we need that come from the Creator who made it so that this planet produces the stuff our body needs to grow and repair and sustain itself.

There’s a pan of cornbread in the back of the picture, made just to keep the oven busy while the bread was rising.    We can make the bread,  but we ask our Creator for “bread.”   Please give to  us our bread. . . panem nostrum . . .the  daily kind . . . quotidianem . . .  the bread we need every day, whatever its many forms . . .  give us today . . . da nobis hodie.

I’ll left unsaid all the rest.    You  know it well.

Deo gratias.

 

PERIPATETIC vs. THE INFRASTRUCTURE

August 20, 2011

Peripatetic – doing your thinking while you’re on the move.

Peripatetic –  it means “walking around”  Going from place to place.    Back before there were uninspiring government schools to sit in;   back before there were “upper class” schools like Eton and Harrow to educate the ruling class;   back before there were universities that you brought your brains and your books and your sword to in order to defend your scholarly point; . . .

. . .Long, long ago before Rome even,  the Greek philosophers walked the streets of Golden Greece, accompanied by their disciples who listened and debated and learned from such as Socrates and Aristotle.    Having no classroom or lecture hall, these great minds taught their students to think and to act rationally as they all walked from place to place.   Peripatetic.

2,500 years later,  I went out this evening to do some thinking.    The Good News is nowadays we can speed along on Rollerblades!  The Bad News is moving fast doesn’t make you think like a philosopher.

But some thoughts caught up with me.  I was thinking about the State of the World, for one thing.   Couldn’t help it when right under my feet I had a reminder:

Our road hasn’t been resurfaced for a very, very long time.    It’s beginning to crack up.

And worse:

Our roads all over are in desperate need of repair.    I read about our electrical grid system, old and vulnerable to breakdowns and hackers and little “surprises” from the sun.   Aging water pipes in Texas are bursting all over because they can’t handle the dry soil heaving and contracting in the heat.

I wonder about our own underground “infrastructure.”

I wonder about a society that can make Rollerblades and automobiles,  but can’t maintain the roads to make the vehicles move smoothly and safely.   We can invent city-wide water systems,  but can’t keep the pipes new and clean and repaired.   We can create electronic marvels,  but we can’t modernize and protect the   grid to keep the electricity flowing.    Railways.  Bridges.
I wondered about all those things tonight.    We move around a lot nowadays.  We can move swiftly from place to place and we keep on the go.    Maybe no one can take time to think well while we’re moving that fast.

Maybe the Peripatetic Philosophers of Greece had it right.   Walking.  Walking gave them time to think.  Thinking well takes much time.  It develops.   It can’t be hurried.

It finally began to get dark, and it was time for me to coast home….right there under the peaceful trees.  Coasting slower and slower….Rollerblades off…returning to the Speed of Life….walking….thinking….

How interesting:   Tomorrow is Sunday, the day we’re given to return back to God with all our spirits, our minds, and our bodies.    I was thinking about all the troubles of the world tonight, and tomorrow the Church in its Readings tells us about all the ways that we can solve those problems.

Tomorrow.   Sunday.   There’ll be time to think about that.

TAKE TIME TO SMELL THE ROSES

August 18, 2011

About my last posting.   Sorry about that, but I do love hyperbole.    It wasn’t too much of an exaggeration though.

Things get busy sometimes, and duty calls.   And duties and duties and duties…all calling.   And walking through the weeds, by an old tree,  other things call out too.

Funny how, the wild roses are there, all the time, every summer.

All kinds of cheerful pretty things to delight us.      Waiting to be noticed, even as we rush by to do our errands.

I don’t think a parking lot next to a brick building in a hot, dry strip of soil is the perfect place to grow these happy little things,  but there they are.

Ready to gladden the heart.     It’s not just for a female mind to notice, you know.  The greatest gardeners are also male.   They tinker with the plants and create beautiful hybrids and open up flower shops in big cities and little towns……where people are so busy, they hardly ever notice, unless they make a special effort.

It would be nice to take a moment to “stop and smell the roses.”

 

Or whatever it is that conveys to you the idea that such beauty is real, and worthy to be enjoyed.

BEEN BUSY

August 18, 2011

The incomparable Randy Glasbergen knows how to say it:

Everything’s happened at once around here.   This week:   Legal stuff.   Financial stuff.  Health insurance stuff.    Cemetery stuff.   Class stuff.   Work stuff.

All the “stuff” has myriads of papers of all sizes.

Forget the “electronic footprint”  we’re constantly creating.     I haven’t quite tamed the paper blizzard that blows my way each time I have to do something.

One half of my house is tiled with  8  1/2 by 11 paper piles of varying heights.   Quite seriously.   You cannot walk in one half of my house, nor can you find about 3/4 of my counter and table tops.

This week, as long as attorneys,  financial consultants,  insurance offices, and state agents are asking for the papers they think I have,  I’m going to locate,  touch,  sort, organize, assess, and find a home for every single piece of paper that has ever migrated into my home.

The stacks will be neatly labeled according to content, date, and usefulness and  carried to an appropriate destination.     Insurance card?   Got it.    Application form?   Got it.   Tax notice?   Got it.    Instruction manual?  Got it.    Account history?   Got it.   Address?  Got it.   Numbers, letters, logos?   Got those too.

A destination for everything.

I’m just going to need a few more “destinations.”

See you again when that “Rescue Squad”   finds me.

 

LOOKING UP FROM UNDER

August 15, 2011

There are our physical eyes with which we can see the physical world around us;   then there are artists’ eyes which see the beauty of the world around us;  and then there are the eyes of our understanding with which we can see meaning in the world around us.

It all just takes a little shift in perspective!

I’ve written about this object many times before, and I drove across it most recently just a few weeks ago.   But I’ve never quite seen it from this angle!     Rather graceful artistic elements here.

When I drive across, I usually try to get on the metal gratings.  It  makes an interesting noise as your tires roll across the grate, and,  if I’m careful,  I can peek down through the window and see the water below.

And what if I am below –  looking upwards?  What fun!!

“It” is, of course, the Mackinaw Bridge.     When I was a little girl I could watch it being built as I floated by with my parakeet on the ferry that was taking us across the Mackinaw Straits (along with my mom and dad and car).

I never thought I’d have fun crossing the Bridge as an adult!  I always try to take photos that would capture the experience.    Sometimes it’s like driving through a Double Harp.

The photo above is from my camera, but the others with the interesting perspectives are from My-Friend-With-The-Camera who graciously allows me to use his photos from time to time.     Thank you!!

Here’s one more thought-provoking one from his camera: 

Our physical eyes see the wake made by the boat that took my friend Under the Bridge.

Our artists’ eyes can see the beauty, the speed and the power, hear the the churning foam, feel the splashes, and count the many shades of blues and purples and grays as they go off into the distance.

And with the eyes of our understanding we can ask “what kind of creatures are we”  who can see these things and know the beauty and be drawn upward to our Creator in simple thanksgiving.

Look up, from under!!

ANCIENT WORDS THIS SUNDAY

August 14, 2011

Long ago  Our Lord spoke the words in one of our prayers today.

Approximately 2,000 years ago the Lord said….Dominus said….Dominus dicit….this:

He that eats my flesh, Dominus dicit. . .

 

. . .and drinks my blood,  Dominus dicit. . .

. . . abides in Me and I in him,  Dominus dicit.

So much does He desire to remain with us in a real, corporal, actual, spiritual way,  that He provides a way for us to live in Him and He in us.   Who wouldn’t want to go to church on Sunday to take part in this ancient sacrament once again, and to be strengthened by His Presence?!

Ahhhhh.      “Qui manducat mean carnem,  et bibit meam sanguinem, in me manet, et ego in eo, dicit Dominus.”   And:  “May the participation of this Thy sacrament…both purify us and unite us…..”

“In me manet” —   remains in Me…..abides in Me….and I in him.

HARVEST – START TO FINISH

August 10, 2011

It starts here, with happy bushes:

Then you find your clumps, ready for picking:

Then you collect the luscious things:

And even though they’re good enough to eat as is,  you can “do things” to them for your friends:

Raspberries can decorate a whole lot of things!

Thanks, Book Club,  for the Julia Child book discussion tonight.   It was inspiring!!!     And my table?   It was “just raspberries.”

Thanks be to God that the fruits we must eat for our health are so delicious!!

Deo gratias.

 

PERSEIDS

August 9, 2011

Perseids,  my friends,  are due this week.    I’m planning my nights accordingly.

We have, unfortunately, a full moon in the way on Friday/Saturday evening,  August 13,  during the peak of the Meteor Shower,  but the two nights preceding should be good viewing as well.    I heard that Thursday night, just after midnight, Eastern Time,  will be our best chance.

It’s very much worth looking into the origin of these, and also finding out what that streak is made of and other associated wonders of creation you could not wonder about if you missed this opportunity.

Happy Viewing!    I’ll be under the same stars as you!!

LINGERING GOOD-BYES

August 8, 2011

I think I see the wisdom of moving beyond the “saying good-bye” stage.    I’ve been home for a few days now, but I don’t want to put the trip in the past.    I’m not fully committed to being “home” again;  still “surprised” that I get to use my own kitchen,  my own shower,  check my own mailbox, shop at familiar stores.

I must put my trip to the Far North behind me, with its decades of deep memories.

Son and I went to find the sunsets that Hubbie loved so much.   We found many like this, all beautiful.

But,  good-bye.    Some day the memory of these lingering “feelings”  will be a quick, brief Object Lesson for my classes.   I will tell them:   We are creatures of intellect.  We must be led by the faculties of our intellect, not by our feelings.    Our feelings will follow our actions, and we must make sure we act well.

Here is my last experience in the Far North:

I was halfway out of the Far North, at the last scenic turnout along Lake Superior.   I stopped and sat there in the soft sand, overcome for a while by memories and emotions.     All I could hear was crashing waves against the shore and seagulls faintly overhead.

I stayed until I was finally overcome instead by the rhythm and power of the waves.    Something larger than I am, much, much larger, and much older and more enduring.   In the brief time I have remaining in my own life, I have many things to do.

I have a household to run;  a family to watch over;  good friends to enjoy;   classes to show things to;   people to help;  and a Good God to serve.  And one day, it will all come together, the past, the present, and the future.

If I act wisely and well, good feelings will follow.  All kinds of feelings, but I suspect that most of them will be very good.

No need to linger in the old ones.

ABSURD IN THE NIGHT

August 6, 2011

It was an absurd experience:

Son and I were sitting in the sand on the shore of Lake Superior in the Far North, somewhere just before midnight.    Not much talking.  We were both enjoying the dark, shiny beauty of the lake surface before us and the immense deepness of space above us.

As beautiful as the lake was, we just couldn’t take our eyes off the Milky Way.   So many stars together that you can’t even see the individual ones!      Occasionally we’d see a satellite glide by;  rarely we’d see a shooting star.     Our soft voices telling each other of one of these seemed like an intrusion into the stillness of the night.

We were the only two on the beach as far as we could tell.

Until….a small flicker of light behind us, back by the tree line.   Small, like a little match;    or like a Bic lighter.  After several seconds another flicker came a few feet away from the first.     Maybe a minute later we saw a larger flicker closer to us, closer to the lake.

Then the flicker became larger and sputtering like a Fourth of July sparkler.   It was no longer behind us, but alongside us, about forty feet away.    It was a small flame now, a little closer;  and then two flames that began bobbing up and down, around and around, up and around, twisting in patterns.

It was hypnotic.   I took some photos and a video with my cell phone.

There, alone at midnight on the dark night shore of Lake Superior — we were being entertained by a baton twirler who was practicing with his fire batons!

Apparently.

When the flames went out, I couldn’t see anyone there.    I thought of applauding, but under the night sky, under all those stars, and with the dark waters softly rippling against the shore,  it was just another little experience to receive, quietly, without judgment.

 

 

FAR NORTH ‘FOOD’ ?

August 4, 2011

When you’re “on the road” for a while, it’s difficult to find enough fruit and vegetables to eat.  Son and I were #1 needing fruit  +  #2 feeling adventurous.

So we shopped the produce department of a grocery store in the Far North and found this –

Looked interesting.   You know,  there’s Star Fruit and Ugly Fruit and…this:  Hedge…   Once we bought it, we forgot what the sign said:     Hedge Ball, Hedge Fruit,  Hedge Apple.    (Hedge Hog Fruit?)

We put it on the table and proceeded to attempt to peel it.  Or slice it.   Or cut it.   Or open it somehow.    Son worked on it for a while.  I had some scissors in my purse and worked on it with that.    Then later Son obtained a thin milky white juice coming out of some of the wounds that we had inflicted.

Of course he tasted it.   He had such a strange look on his face that I dipped my fingertip into some of the juice and tasted it too.

No.   No words to describe the taste.   But the milky substance was very, very sticky.   I poured water over my hands and rubbed.   Now all my fingers were covered with something that felt like Super Glue.   Very sticky.

(A wet washcloth takes it off your tongue.)

So those of you who already know what this is are probably laughing at us.

After we got cleaned up as best we could and had sat and stared that thing down for a while, we turned to the Internet.

Hedge Apple.   Favorite food of the giant tree sloth and mastodons.   A leftover from the Ice Age…..

Now.   Why would they put something like that in the Produce department among the bins of other fruits and vegetables which happen to be:  edible?!

 

OUR REASON…..

August 3, 2011

(feeling a little inarticulate tonight….)

The Reason for my trip to the Far North:

Photo taken two days ago.    Class of 1961.

Small.   Very close.   State Basketball Champs.

Hubbie is the first team member to be . . . missing.

 

Maybe a little addendum.   “Our Reason….”   is “Cherish.”    I wanted to tell our friends at the reunion about the word Cherish.   I wanted to let them know how much Hubbie loved their emails and cards and phone calls through the years.    After a contact Hubbie would launch into many stories about whoever had called or written, same old stories, same old fond memories, same old funny things…..   Hubbie really cherished his friends.

I wanted to tell them all that when they each keep in touch with each other like that,  that they cement the bonds of friendship and love….and to be aware of that and to Cherish their closeness and each other.

Of course I couldn’t actually speak those words.  I could just keep thanking them for all the tissues…..

“Cherish”  is the reason for our reunions.

SCHOOL FORESTS

August 1, 2011

On my little “side trip” to Wisconsin I saw many of these:

In the middle of the vast northern pine forests filled with thick underbrush, I saw many “stands” of these tall, straight trees.    In a wilderness of wild  trees all jammed and jumbled up together — there were these neat and tidy trees.

Like they had been planted there on purpose.

Well, as I’ve written here before, I had my cousin with me for the drive into Wisconsin, my cousin who lives way out in that wilderness among the bountiful berries, apple trees, and syrup maples during the day and the bears on her porch at night.   She knows so much about living in the Far North.

And indeed, she had an explanation.

These are called School Trees, or a School Forest.   They were planted by school children, together, as a school project, for the purpose of fund-raising.    It’s a garden, really.   It’s a garden that grows a Renewable Crop – lumber!    When the trees mature, they are cut and sold for lumber.

The forest has been tilled and tended, the school has earned a little money through the work of  its students, and the children –   think about it!!!     They were in elementary school when they planted the small seedlings;   they were young adults when their crop was harvested.    What does that teach people, young and old alike, about the way nature works, about the speed of life,about  patience, the passing of time, and the reward that comes eventually by doing a good thing!

As I traveled the roads of the Far North I saw many of these out my window;  maybe two or three dozen of these logging trucks.    The logs had been harvested from many stands of timber all over these northern forests.

And then the timber that is hauled away leaves room for a new crop of seedlings to take root and grow into tall trees – the crop is renewed, and we can make things like houses and beautiful tables and chairs and wooden salad bowls and “natural” toys for our children to play with. . . .

Trees.   A renewable crop.