Archive for November 2011


November 30, 2011

First look, early this morning:

Looking across the pond, that’s one forty-footer down,  one cherry tree down,  and the plum tree is missing.

Couldn’t walk around the yard much:

 The “Dawn’s Early Light”  in that direction was more purple than blue.   That’s a fourth tree down blocking my pathway.

I decided to wait for a little more light.   This is Sunrise at my desk:

I went outside to get a close-up of the largest tree downed last night –

I see there will be NO Finch-Feeding today:

And then,  as always happens after a winter storm,  the sky becomes beautiful, all blue and innocent.   It hardly looks like the dark and menacing sky we had all day yesterday.    No troubles today……

…….except for my neighbor across the street whose house is under that beautiful blue sky.     See, the mailman ventured out, in his 4-wheel drive mailtruck — and slid off the street in front of our house, crashing into our mailbox posts.    My neighbor’s mailbox is now propped up against its post.

And it’s against the law to deliver mail if the mailbox isn’t in its proper place.

Four trees and a mailbox.    “Innocent blue sky”      —    Hah!



November 29, 2011

Worked hard on those leaves yesterday so I could enjoy this today:

I work at my kitchen table but keep looking up to stare at this beautiful branch hanging just above our deck.

I can’t stay seated at the table.   I have to go out onto the deck and see the place where I raked leaves 24 hours ago:

Instantly, the world outside has changed.  I feel somehow exalted to witness this transformation and wish I could find appropriate words –

And then this,  spoken by three young men about 2,500 years ago as they contemplated the Forces of Nature put into motion by the Power of our Almighty Creator:

Blessed art thou, O Lord the God of our fathers: and worthy to be praised, and glorified, and exalted above all for ever: and blessed is the holy name of thy glory: and worthy to be praised, and exalted above all in all ages.

O ye stars of heaven, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

O ye fire and heat, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever

O ye frost and cold, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever

O ye ice and snow, bless the Lord: praise and exalt him above all for ever.

Yeah!!     They said that and so much more as they praised God from inside a fiery furnace, recorded for us in the book of Daniel,  third chapter, verses 51-90.    If  the powers of nature lead you to think of God and to praise Him for His incomprehensible majesty,   this place in the Bible is a good place to give words to your praises.

As I write this, I heard “gunshots”  just outside my window.   Not gunshots, of course.     I just now  lost a 40 foot tree…horizontal, now, over the pond.    Power of Nature, indeed.


November 28, 2011

I saw our weather report today.   

5 – 8 inches of the dark blue stuff — I mean the white stuff — coming our way on Tuesday night?       No!    Too early!   It’s been almost sixty for the past several days.

But just in case,  I’ll show you my To Do List  this afternoon —

Yep, I’m still at it.   Just one more strip, one more l-o-n-g strip between the pond and the creek.   It’s longer than I ever remember it being.   It had to get done, just in case.   Nothing worse for your lawn than burying the leaves all winter under a blanket of snow where the oak leaves turn into a black acid-y goo that kills all the vegetation.

Turning around, looking  in the other direction from which I had just come —

An equally long strip:   d0ne!

To-Do.    D0ne.     We are always at some point in between the things we have accomplished and the things we still must do….   In our backyards….in our lives.

Maybe it’s  not leaf-raking for you.     But I’m sure it’s something else.

“Work for the night is coming….”     I can still hear my Grandma’s voice singing those words to me….reminding me  to always look Homeward.

I did this afternoon.   I wanted to be at rest, in there, under warm cozy light  —

— and  done with my work.

The motivation for us is keeping our eyes on our Destination.

And on the weather report.

Just in case.


November 27, 2011

An interesting Advent experience. . .

We all recognized Advent today.   We heard sermons and Readings that tell us what it’s all about.  Advent calendars are on our minds.  Advent wreaths, candles, daily surprise boxes.  Maybe a Jesse Tree.   Maybe a cradle in which to add little straws, preparing a soft bed for the Baby, each straw representing an act of kindness or of self-denial….

We begin the year now so that we can prepare for the advent of the Son of God, the first coming of the Christ to this Earth.  This Holy Child, this Son of God, comes to make possible the creation of a whole new world, made of redeemed human beings. All are invited, all are brothers and sisters, equally loved by God and loved by each other.   All citizens of Heaven, some day, by the mercy of God.

I had an additional experience today.  It was a living example of what it means to be all brothers and sisters of Christ.    I saw someone whom I haven’t seen for several years, and all the interesting things about her (and her ancestry)  rushed back into my memory and mingled with the meaning of Advent.

Her ancestry is of one of the great northern woodland tribes who lived in America.  Four hundred years ago these people met the Jesuits and, however much Hollywood likes us to dwell on the drama and the martyrdom of many of these missionaries, the actual lasting result is that many of these tribes were converted and entered the Church.

European politics intervened.    A more warlike European people confronted the Native people,  and they enlisted this tribe to fight against that tribe,  this tribe to ally with this European group against that European group.

Finally one “European group”  prevailed, and eventually a new country was born.   But one’s religion is an eternal matter.   The religion that some of these tribes had first adopted was also known as Universal.   One Lord, one Faith, one baptism.   All are invited,  all are to be respected,  all humans are equal children of God.

A whole new way of relating to each other had arrived in the northern woodlands.  Advent was brought to this continent, and my friend and I are one, together, and equal.

Here is a reminder painting of Kateri Tekawitha: 

And my friend?  Her own forefathers ignored the later developments of politics and competing religious denominations.  They remained in the Faith and continued to consider themselves American citizens.   They refused the offers of “free money”  and “special” privileges and exemptions from American law, but instead went to schools and universities, became doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers.  They intermarried and made friends with everyone as any American would.

My friend and her large extended family attributes this to the Church which has taught them and has taught us all that we are all of equal worth and dignity before God, no rich nor poor, no male nor female, no free nor slave….etc.    This is a sign of our love for God that we freely love each other.

The coming of the Jesuit missionaries was the advent of a whole new world for any of the Native Americans who chose the new Faith offered to them.

By the grace of God Advent still occurs.


November 24, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.    I wish for you that your thanks-giving this year is deeper and richer than ever before.   Thoughtful times will do that for you.    Life will do that to you.

I have no idea how I feel.   Sweetness and Sadness.  It’s an odd combination of feelings.    It seems like they shouldn’t appear together,  but it is our condition in this world,  the human condition,  the fallen world, that often brings this odd combination together.  I know my giving of thanks to God is a little more thoughtful now, deeper and richer, taught by all we’ve experienced this past year.

Life changes.  Plans change.   You have to go in a new direction. If you’re the one who is still alive, you keep going forward.   Follow the arrow.

Cooper, Daughter, and Son-In-Law were supposed to visit us this week.  We were supposed to come together as a family on this Thanksgiving; to circle the wagons, so to speak;   to remember last year and to hold on to each other this year.   Our  little family table would be missing one, but gaining another.  Sad and Sweet.   Their plans changed, though, and I won’t be seeing them this week.   Cooper’s daddy has a severely hurting back.  I’m very worried for him.   It was the right thing to do for them to stay home.

Skyping with Grandma:

Happy baby, getting to be a big boy now.   Cooper Kenneth, carrying both names.   Sad thought, and sweet.   One year has passed.

One year has passed, from this scene.   But Son and I will have a Thanksgiving.   What we see on our Thanksgiving table today will be overlaid with what we saw here last year this time.   Hubbie came home.   Hubbie was sent home.   For one more day of life.

We have so much to be thankful for.  

We will remember all the sweetness of God’s providence throughout this past unexpectedly abnormal year, but we are assured that Our Lord understood us:  “For we have not a high priest, who can not have compassion on our infirmities. . . .”   (Hebrews 4:15)     Another version puts it like this:  “For we have not a High Priest who is unable to feel for us in our weaknesses. .  .”    I like those words too.    We were not alone, not at all.

Thank you.    Thank you.   Thank you to all of you who have supported us with your kind thoughts, good wishes, understanding, and prayers.  They have been a balm to us.

A new, happy, stronger year will be beginning.  


November 21, 2011

It’s pronounceable.   TEOTWAWKI.   It’s an acronym, but it’s pronounceable.   And it means The End Of The world As We Know It.

Week after week Sunday comes to take us up out of our routine thinking.  

Today was the end of the Liturgical Year of Christendom, the last Sunday of the year.   The Readings today were from various places in the Bible, all reminding us that some day this world will end.   How?  Many passages foretell that it will end by fire.  Why?  Evil will have produced its worst, and humans will be immersed, willingly, in all manner of evil.

I don’t know if we’re coming to the end of our planet, but it certainly feels as though we are soon coming to the end of our particular age,   our “world  — as we know it.

Evil, wickedness, and sin comes to us through our culture, and entices us with promises of prosperity, enjoyment, and approval.   But while any culture rewards its participants,  a wicked culture is storing up the very means of the well-deserved judgment that will come at its end.   These are the words of the prophet Obadiah:   “For the Day of the Lord is at hand upon all nations;  as thou hast done so shall it be done to thee.  He will turn thy reward upon thy own head.”   (Obadiah/Abdias 1:15)    A culture without God sows the seeds of its own destruction.

It’s hard to comprehend things on such a grand scale.    It’s good  that what’s left of the Church still reminds us to think on a personal level.

The  Church teaches the Four Last Things that we each face — Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell —  and this teaching presents a wonderful paradox to us:  on a personal level the more sure we are of our own end, the more deliberately and worthily we’ll live our earthly life while we still have it.

Each new day is a mercy;  each new day is a gift of loving-kindness; each new day is an opportunity to get ready for the end of our life on this planet.  Our prospects can be better  and our hope more sure.

Next Sunday begins the season of Advent.   Then we focus on the arrival of the Reason for our Hope — as this world “ends,” a New World dawns.    The old world with its difficulties, sufferings, fears, and uncertainties ends;  a new and better world is offered to us.

TEOTWAWKI  is a good thing!


November 19, 2011

Our household cannot help but relive this date, last year.   It was a day of once-in-a-lifetime drama and surprises, joy, and incomprehensible sorrow.

The day was November 19, 2010.

Son had just driven the long ride home to check on his pharmacy, which couldn’t do without him much longer.  He had spent weeks at the bedside of his seriously-ill dad at the Cleveland Clinic, but reluctantly decided he could afford a couple of days back home.

Daughter had just flown across the country to be at her dad’s side that week.   She was eight months pregnant, but she thought she could afford a few days away from home to see what’s going on and to encourage her dad.  We’re a close family;  all four of us were together that week.

I was floating around among them, feeling their conflicts between duty and family, but tightly tethered to Hubbie’s bedside.    Deep down, where we don’t have words, we were all aware that “this time” the Cleveland Clinic was not making Hubbie feel better.   This time, for all their efforts, they  couldn’t find the right combination of medicines and procedures that always used to bring him out of danger.

We were not comprehending.

And then, early  that Friday afternoon, Daughter came walking down the hallway toward her dad’s hospital room — with a strange and serious look on her face.   She needed her mom.   I stepped out into the hallway and received her tentative news:    Mom,  I think I’m in labor.

And then I went into some Professional Mother Mode that I didn’t know I had.

I got Daughter comfortable in the big easy chair in her dad’s room; and then she got connected with her San Francisco hospital birthing department which had trained her well.   Recording contractions kept her occupied — until it became apparent that the time was now!

Hubbie put on an uncomprehending, watchful-from-a distance expression, which was perfectly appropriate.

The nurses, technicians, and young residents on the floor of the Cleveland Clinic were glassy-eyed with confusion.   They are experts in cardiac care.    Hearts.   Nobody there had ever delivered a baby.   I finally told them to call their own emergency room and tell them to bring up a stretcher.   The ER personnel could take over from there.

I had texted Son at 3:45 p.m. and informed him that his sister had just gone into labor – and all was well.   I’m quite sure he had an out-of-body experience right then and there, and joined us in spirit.

I picked up Daughter’s husband from the airport and somehow managed rush-hour Cleveland traffic with a frenzied soon-to-be-first-time-father in the passenger seat.

And the baby — Cooper — discarded the next five weeks that he was supposed to stay in the womb.   He had a Grandpa to meet.

And that’s the way it was,  November 19, 2010.

There are many photos taken at  this time  posted when I wrote about it,  as it was happening.  ( In the November, 2010, archives now. )    But I can tell you that the images of this day that I have in my memory are far more vivid than any of those photos.    The images in my mind are not made with pixels, but are made with strong emotions of joy, relief, and grief and sorrow,  birth and death, happiness and hope.

So it is for us “poor banished children of Eve…in this valley of tears..”


November 18, 2011

Sorry for the gap in posting.

Just.   Been.   Raking.    For.   Days.

It’s taking forever!     Either I’m getting older…or our trees have dropped a LOT more leaves this year.

Well, that could happen.

You know,  I think our trees were looking very healthy all summer.  “Abundantly healthy.”

Every spare hour has seen me out there raking up these leaves.    My neighbor called over to me tonight:  “Kris!   It’s getting dark!”       (I know;  but I can still see the darned leaves.)

You know the very worst part?       Son sent me a photo of his front lawn this Fall:

That’s BEFORE he wondered if he should take out his rake.      One leaf.    He thought it was very funny.



November 12, 2011

It’s been about a year — and I just got this in the mail –

For those of you who don’t know about the miraculous timing of Cooper’s birth,  you’re welcome to go to the right-hand side of this page  and check out the Archives for November 2010.      Look especially at the second half of that month.

I’d like to think the blessing and strong will of his Grandpa has helped to give him such a happy start in life.    He’s strong and healthy and very, very happy.

He’s traveled to many states in our country and to many countries in Europe.   He has his own “ski pass”  and he’s been on a sled on a mountainside near Tahoe.   He’s been on a motor boat and  he’s been on a mountain bike.    He’s been on numerous airplanes, swings, and carousels.   He’s enjoyed the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

Of all the tens of thousands of miles Cooper has traveled,  I’m glad to report that he has also been to the Spruce Tunnel:

Cooper and I (and Daughter too)  headed out to The Spruce Tunnel one day recently.

I’d like to report that Cooper was impressed with the tall spruce all around him. . .

. . . but he just stretched out in his stroller as though it were a lounge chair and slept peacefully througout the Tunnel.

Hmmmm.    We’ll have to try this again next time he visits.    And then he’ll be one year old!


November 11, 2011

(This week we’ve had Upwards, Outwards, Downwards, and now Inwards.)

It’s Friday today,  a day Christians should not let pass by unremarked.   So here is a thought for a Friday.   It’s a thought about looking “Inwards”   “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

This is a command from the Son of God.   A teaching of Jesus.  “….Love yourself.”    “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”    Did you ever think that another word for “your self” is  “your soul”?   Your soul,  your self,  the essence of who you are.  Your real “self.”
When you love yourself this way, you love the person God created you to be.   You’re not being “self-ish.”   You are simply taking good care of the person whom God created…you, in this case.

God  simultaneously thought you up and loved you – boom!   You’re created in God’s mind.   And then at the very most right optimum time you were placed here and now.

I’m thinking, now,  that “looking inwards” at our “self”  isn’t quite as small as we might think.  Yes, take care of your soul, make sure you are clean and at peace with God – honestly and truthfully – but after that,  you, your “self,”   is a center of a small circle around you that includes your immediate family, your family of origin, your extended family.

And then it includes each person whom you have something to do with.   Friends, of course.   Those you do business with.   Even strangers that you “collide” into in your personal life as you go about your daily business.

Your Self has an extended personal world that you are also responsible for.    At a certain point in our Sunday prayers we pray something similar to this:  “Permit me, O God, to intercede with Thee for special blessings upon those for whom Thou knowest that I have a special obligation to pray….”     We do have an obligation to ask for blessings for ourselves and for those we are responsible for.     We love our “neighbors” just as we love ourselves.

So feel free to look Inwards.   Be sure you’re taking care of you and yours.

He thought you were worth it.

Happy Friday.


November 11, 2011

Just can’t resist sneaking in this “direction”  –

I was so excited about our first snowfall that I wanted to get a picture of it as it fell.    I was disappointed that the camera didn’t  show how full of snowflakes the air  was, but when I saw this photo on my computer screen,  I noticed something else delightful.

See the streaks of white?   There is one big one and several others.  Each streak is  a snowflake falling on our deck.

All these little things, whizzing downwards, and they left a trail for the camera to see!


November 9, 2011

Outside of my own immediate life there is a Hurricane Evacuation going on .   Right now!


We live in such a great big wide world, that it wasn’t until the trees above my own house began roaring in the wild autumnal wind gusts  that I remembered that  far away, far up north,  the people in Nome, Alaska, and nearby coastal villages have been evacuated because of the approaching hurricane.

Upwards”  was my last posting.    I really meant that.

But today, before I start writing about these past few busy days,  I’d like to remind myself to also look “Outwards.”   There is a lot going on out there, and I’m not sure I understand it all.    Sometimes trying to take a closer look doesn’t help much.

If you try to take a closer look at Nome, Alaska, from their live webcam,  you’ll  just see foggy air and rolling waves.

If the people of Nome looked “upwards” into their sky,  they won’t see much there either.    I hope when this is all over for them,  they’ll be able to look beyond this ‘up”  and see “Upwards and Beyond”  for their strength and perspective.

We could remember our fellow-Americans in our prayers.     This world and all its forces is so much bigger than we humans are.






November 8, 2011


Sometimes The Spruce Tunnel just speaks its own message.    “Look up.”

Been way too busy this last week or two….Loved every minute of it…but there is the  necessity to retreat a bit and strengthen the “inner soul.”

How nice to know that “up there” is always availble for us.



November 2, 2011

All Soul’s Day today.   Not All Saints;  All Souls.    People don’t think too much about the implications of this day’s meditations, so the Church reminds us to do so  —   every November 2nd.

For those who are familiar with this day,  this partial quotation will be meaningful:   It is “…the ordinary rule that for every fault satisfaction must be made to God’s justice, either in this world or the next.”   (Dom Prosper Gueranger;  Vol. 15, p .93)    This idea is summed up by the oft-repeated Biblical injunction,  Do Penance.

For those who don’t know too much about All Soul’s Day,  there is a little story……

There was once a nice little boy who was playing outdoors on his front lawn  with some of his friends.  It was a good summer day and the children were having fun.    But suddenly, somehow, during their play, an object “just flew out” of his hands and crashed into the big front window of the neighbor’s house.

It so happened that the neighbor was the local county judge who presided over many civil matters.    The window was big and costly to repair, but the judge was a fair man.     The little boy was truly sorry and admitted they shouldn’t have been playing that particular game in that particular place.

The parents of the little boy and the judge conferred for a while.   They all agreed that the little boy understood the situation and was repentant.  They believed him when he said he had learned his lesson and would never do it again — or put himself in a situation where it might happen again.   The judge forgave the little boy completely.

And the judge paid the entire cost of repairing the broken window.

If this were the end of the story,  it would not be a genuinely happy ending.

Now, the judge has the power to pay for all the costs, but he knows that there would be something lacking.  If you remember Dom Gueranger’s quotation above, “…for every fault satisfaction must be made….”     Down deep, we don’t want to be let off “scot-free.”     There is a vacuum that is left, until we satisfy, in some way, the justice that was offended.

The little boy does not have the ability to pay for the entire cost of repairs,  but we would expect the little boy to do some extra chores to earn money to help pay for the window.   Or he may do some extra work for the judge in direct payment with the coin of his own toil and time.

Or – as we must remember on All Soul’s Day – the boy’s mom or dad may work and give the judge money for the window.     Or the friends of the little boy may help the little boy do work for the judge to pay off their debt.   Or a kindly passer-by may chip in a little financial help too.

All Soul’s Day reminds us that we are all a Communion of Saints.    What is good for one saint to do increases the goodness of all the saints.    We all rise in merit.  The beneficial effects of our  deeds of kindness, selflessness, of detachment, mortification, and penance can be shared by all.     With these deeds we can help those who are not able to help themselves…at this moment in time.

Communion with saints then, saints now, saints to come.