Archive for July 2012

GRANDMOTHERING WITH A LITTLE HELP

July 29, 2012

Just a couple days ago Christendom celebrated the life of St. Anne,  the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.   That makes her the grandmother of the Lord Jesus.    I used to think that she was pretty irrelevant and somewhat removed  from the “life and times of Jesus.”

We know very little about the life of St. Anne.   I’ll let the “experts” do all the doubting and the “piously devout” do all the describing,  but for myself I can do some pretty good explaining, now that I’m experiencing that special closeness that a grandmother and grandson really do have.

I understand now that the kind of person you are and  your relationship to your Creator  makes a very big difference in the lives of your children.  I don’t mean “having good parenting skills.”  I mean being a person worthy of parenthood.

And   I understand now that the kind of people your own children have become,  what you have taught and shown them,  makes a difference in the lives of your grandchildren.

There is wisdom and dignity in family living.  The succession of generations form the foundation of our lives, so it is notable that when Christ came to earth, He came into a family.

It was this family that included St. Anne that He called His own, a worthy family of quiet faith and goodness.

Indeed, we know little of the facts of St. Anne’s life, but we know the importance of her role, and any person who cares about the next generation can pause and think about what kind of person she must have been.

Cooper and I have fed the birds on our deck and laughed at the sound our frogs make and we played inside a big cardboard box and then we went to the zoo and then to a playground and then got soaking wet playing with the sprinklers and hoses and we watched the cars in our neighborhood go zooming by and …. and St. Anne was never far from my mind.

 

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BIG PEOPLE, LITTLE PEOPLE

July 26, 2012

The point of this trip to the Far-Far North with Cooper and the family was to introduce Cooper to his very own Great-Grandma.    He’s not yet two years old, but these experiences and all the photos and stories will be a part of his own autobiography as he finds his way into the history of his own family.

Cooper thoroughly enjoyed the nursing home where Great-Grandma lives.  There were so many new things to see, birds in cages, rooms with unusual, extra-ordinary objects and equipment, mobiles hanging down made of shiny tinfoil stars…..He has one word for anything which impresses him or pleases him greatly:  “Wow!”    He used it liberally at the nursing home, but the best, most sincere Wow came when a man rolled by in a wheelchair.    “Wow!!!!!!!!”  

He seemed to accept Great-Grandma as a part of “us” — a part of his family.  He watched how we interacted with her and knew we feel that she is special to us.    Cooper spent some time figuring out all of Great-Grandma’s “riding equipment”   –

And then he discovered her bed is SOFT and BOUNCY!   –

We went out into the Activity Room for some more “activity,”  and a nice lady invited him to play a game,  and Daddy said Yes   —

BUMPER CARS !!!!!!

That was a good game of Bumper Cars, with an audience of  chairs and wheelchairs on the other half of the Activity Room, and indulgent smiles from everyone.

Cooper was absolutely indifferent to wrinkles or no wrinkles,  black hair or white hair,  uniforms or nightgowns,  legs or wheels….He just enjoyed being with the people.

Cooper gifted everyone with a friendly Hi!  and when they said something kind and nice to him, he responded with a shy    “Thank You.”      When it was time to leave,  he gave people a very grown-up and serious:  “Bye-bye.”

Sure impressed me.   Wow!

SEEKING A PLEASANT PENINSULA

July 25, 2012

Cooper and Daddy and Mommy have safely arrived from the Far West, we four are quietly ensconced in a nice little family-owned motel in the Far-Far north.

The trip was a long one, an all-day car ride,heading northward –    “north-er” even than the Spruce Tunnel.

You can tell you’re traveling northern roads when you share the road with these big logging trucks.

Of course, we need to travel a little faster than they do.

(Remember:  “Trees are a renewable crop. “)

We had interesting stops along the way — interesting, that is, to a 20-month old who needs to stretch his legs once in a while.   I think this is the first time the criterion for making a stop is:  “Is there a playground nearby?”

We found one.    A giant “playground” called the Mackinaw Straits!

That’s Cooper,  putting rocks back into Lake Huron!

Cooper was peculiarly “uninterested”  in the view on his left:

That’s the Bic Mac,  the Mackinaw Bridge.   Cooper lives in the present,  he didn’t quite catch our excitement about driving over it.    “The fastest five miles” of the trip.

There is a lighthouse on the Straits, of course.

It’s small, stylish, not too tall,  and  closed when we arrived.    Although there is a nearby fort “guarding” the Straits that dates from the 1700s,  this lighthouse is not that old:

1909 and the shadow of the  camera.    The seal of the State of Michigan is: “If you  seek a  pleasant peninsula, look around you.”   A pleasant motto, although I’m not too sure how many people think of seeking a pleasant peninsula.

Son is en route to our Nice Little Motel in this pleasant peninsula, ‘though it would be impossible to tell where he is right now since  our cell phone networks don’t extend this far.

With no texting or cell phone voicemails, we are reduced to tom toms and smoke signals.     I’m hoping Son will find  our Nice Little Motel anyway.

 

 

 

 

WHEELS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD

July 22, 2012

Preparations for the week ahead.

Scrubbing and cleaning,  hauling away, moving furniture, dusting, polishing, cutting, chopping, dragging, and…

….Sudsing!!

The Blue Cruze was washed.  The Big Red Car was washed….and Son drove up to join in on the cleaning and cutting and dragging and pounding and blowing…and otherwise preparing for the week ahead, and once I saw his beautiful black car sitting there…all dusty ….well, he actually gave me permission to wash his beautiful GTO, otherwise known here at The Spruce Tunnel as Black Beauty.

Washing his car was actually a Thank You to him.   Son was everywhere, literally,  up on the roof, down in the basement, and way out down in the back yard mowing the grass – and things – between the pond and the creek, helping me get this house ready for this week’s visitor from California.

Funny thing about a shiny black car, though…

The more you get it clean, the more it looks like  a mirror, and you can’t get a good photo of it.

It looks nice in person, though, and his sister and family will see it this week.   Cooper is coming!!!!    It will be so nice to see my daughter and son-in-law,   but I see the way my mind works:   “Cooper’s mommy and daddy are bringing him to us for a visit!”

We’ll be on the go a lot.   We’re packing in more things than people usually do in a one-week visit.

But Son and I?  We’re ready for Cooper.  Got him some wheels too –

Genuine antiques!    One from Cooper’s Mommy and one from Cooper’s Uncle…   We’ll have to see if these old horsies can hold up in the week ahead.

 

A FOLLOW-UP TO THE PRINCE’S STAND

July 21, 2012

For those of you who have asked for a follow-up:

In a little post that asked “Our Last Christian Leader?”  that I wrote a couple weekends ago,  I reported that there was an upcoming vote by the people of Lichtenstein for or against a proposed initiative to limit the powers of their monarch to veto any harmful and non-Christian laws.

Prince Hans-Adam and the Princess Marie of Lichtenstein:

 

If his powers were thus limited, Prince Hans-Adam, hereditary  monarch of Lichtenstein,  declared that he (and his family)   would leave their country rather than be forced to violate his conscience and uphold laws that would violate the fundamental human right to life.

The following is reported from out of Lichtenstein:
 
The outcome of the vote, which took place on the 1st July, is a resounding victory not only for the Principal Family, but also for the Right to Life: 76 percent rejected the proposal, the Prince stays in the country, and abortion remains illegal. The inhabitants of the Principality know too well that, to maintain their status as an independent nation and one of the most prosperous countries in the world, they need the Prince more than he needs them.

Good news indeed for this courageous monarch.

I see there are now several columnists and bloggers in Europe who have been enlisted to demonize this man and his country.

 

MACBETH COULD HAVE WON!

July 21, 2012

I wrote about MacBeth and MacDuff in the last posting.    MacDuff did the right thing and defeated the demented tyrant, thus freeing his corner of Scotland from degrading servitude to an unworthy ruler.

But MacBeth could have won.   If he had been clever, he could have announced a royal decree that all men must “register”  their swords.   For the good of the country (for the good of MacBeth)  the whereabouts of all weapons held in private hands must be made known.

And then….the next royal decree would be:  “all swords must be confiscated.”   No private ownership of “swords.”  Swords can be used legally only by MacBeth’s private police force and army.

And neither MacDuff nor his army would have been able to rid their land of tyranny.

MacBeth would have won!

And no one would have been safe.

By point of fact, today,  everywhere that private swords (or handguns)  have been outlawed,  the crime rate has gone up significantly, without argument.  Home invasions have increased dramatically.    It’s a matter of public record.   For my part,  I feel safer knowing that there are probably a few MacDuff’s in my neighborhood and that the criminals don’t know which house they live in.   Safer to just not invade at all.   Not so my beloved city of Chicago.  Guns are now outlawed.   And you know what has happened to the crime rate there,  recently.

Did you know we have less than a week before the whole nation is put down this same road by our Rulers?   Are you aware of the Senate vote later this week?   It destroys our national sovereignty and puts our laws subordinate to the laws of the United Nations.  (International Treaty on Small Arms)

This won’t be safe for us, but it will be much safer for…MacBeth.

MacBeth will have won.

MACDUFF, COLORADO, AND OUR VOTES

July 20, 2012

O NATION MISERABLE,   WITH AN UNTITLED TYRANT BLOODY-SCEPTERED, WHEN SHALT THOU SEE THY WHOLESOME DAYS AGAIN…?

Seven days since I’ve last written here?

It was more than an earache.   More.   More.   More.    I’ve kind of kept up with my duties, but intermittently  I’ve been down in bed with hot water bottle and pills and … books, of course.    The above quotation in all caps is from MacBeth, Act IV, Scene 3, somewhere around line 95.

It seemed appropriate, given the bits and pieces of “news items” I’ve been hearing.       MacDuff has just cried out for his poor country, “O SCOTLAND!  SCOTLAND!”     And then:  ” WHEN SHALT THOU SEE THY WHOLESOME DAYS AGAIN?”

The problems caused, of course, by that   “”UNTITLED TYRANT…”    (MacBeth)      My goodness,  I can cry out my own nation’s name, and I would ask the same question, and though MacBeth is not my nation’s enemy, I can recognize a tyrant when I see one.    We are in great trouble.   Just when I get complacent and vaguely hope that “someone will do something,”   then we have a terrible event like the one in Colorado early this morning.

Now, the Colorado event itself is horrible and criminal,  but what makes the event so “terrible”,  (“terror-filling,”)   is that according to foreign news services,  the young man who committed this crime of shooting people in the theater was known to be attracted to extreme left-wing ideals and to be an anti-capitalist.  He has apparently attempted some activity with the Occupy (whatever) groups.

We don’t know his stated motive yet, but we can assume things weren’t going his way.

This young man is a miniature Lenin, Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot, shooting, killing (or enslaving or imprisoning or taxing or otherwise oppressing) .     Human beings in the way?       Do away with them.

Tyrannical ideas as well as tyrants like the one Scotland had  must be overthrown.   Today we remove from office with our votes.   MacDuff didn’t  have the opportunity to vote and hope for the best.   For him, there was nothing more to say to the tyrant who had done so much damage to his beloved country.  “I HAVE NO WORDS;  MY VOICE IS IN MY SWORD…..”  (MacBeth, Act V, Scene 8, line 10 or so)

MacDuff’s voice was in his word;   our voices are in our votes, today.

Unfortunately,  many of our votes will be counted by a foreign company, a Spanish company.   A left-wing owned Spanish company.

MacDuff, with a handicap.

THE FUTURE BECOMES THE PRESENT

July 13, 2012

I’ll try not to make this very much about my earache, although it is this forced slow-down that has given me time to think and observe and passively receive a lot of incoming information,  that is, without comment or much discrimination.   (Might make for some interesting blog comments in the coming days.)

And then. . . .

. . . .the Little Blue Cruze and I found an interesting parking space yesterday before class. 

Acute pain fosters some interesting thoughts at times.   Apparently I still need the pain medication,  something I found out after having lost the little bottle for 14 hours.   The “interesting thoughts”  arose from remembering comments from some friends : “Oh, your ear?  You’d better see a doctor!  An ear infection is very close to your brain!”     (huh? )

I had visions of this infection turning into some flesh-eating, deep-drilling microscopic entity…  Oh, well, that would be a quick end.

 Did you read the story this week of the little boy who was playing outdoors, as little boys will do, who got a scrape on his leg,  as little boys will do,  and the scrape got infected, as scrapes do? His mother took him to the doctor, who cleaned out the scrape, applied some antibiotic salve and sent them home with  instructions and some Tylenol.   Which the little boy never finished.   Three days later he was dead, with sepsis.  The infection had entered his bloodstream…

So…what awaits me?    Most likely I’ll recover.   I don’t usually cherish morbid thoughts.    

I just finished re-reading Elisabeth LeSeur’s Journal.   She was a devout French woman, upper middle class, married to an avowed atheist-physician, whom she loved very much and feared for his soul.   She kept her spiritual thoughts mostly to herself and fortunately for us,  wrote them down in a secret journal that was not discovered and published until after her death.  

Among her insights, one that I read just today,  was this:      “The future is becoming the present….”

Time does march on.  Life goes on.   Our fate awaits us.    The One who knows all things knows what our individual futures hold for us.  

“The One who knows all things”  is there, already, in all our future days as they become todays, one by one.   He never changes, never becomes less Good,  less Loving,  less Merciful. . . .

I like to read this page (from my own home-made missal):

See that?   “…the same everlasting Father.”      God willing,  you and I will have many more “tomorrows and everydays”  to come, and we will need the special help and graces from God to do well each of those days.

Here is the entire sentence that Elisabeth LeSeur wrote, about a hundred years ago as she was experiencing her final, very painful illness:  ” As the future becomes the present, it will bring me its own necessary graces.”

And then, as though reading the same words from St. Francis de Sales that I had cut out and pasted into my little book,  Elisabeth writes:  “Whatever it may be, let the future be welcome since it comes from the Heavenly Father and from the One Friend.” 

I have more days to come.    You and I have more days to come.     Our future days become our present days, one by one, until our future becomes our eternal state of being.   

Awesome thoughts…..not fully understood yet.

       

THE BEST MEDICINE

July 11, 2012

Still “timing out” as I wrote about in the last post, only my earache got worse and those “magic words”  (ow, ow, ow, ow)  didn’t work anymore.    Did you  know pain can cause a person to feel like throwing up?   Yick.

So off I went to the doctor –  a very, very unusual and desperate move on my part.

The doctor took a long time inside my ear and seemed to find something interesting in there.   “Yep, that ‘s an infection.”  I suspect he kept more comments to himself,  he only  remarked:  “You’re in a lot of pain, aren’t you.”

All I could manage was a “yep”  back to him.

They seemed surprised by the fact that I take no medicines, no prescriptions   (at my age, is the unspoken rest of that sentence)  but I came home today with a few packages.   So glad they’re there when you need them.   One of them is a painkiller for the ear.

At home, the pain-killer turned out to be a mere pain-lessener,  but that’s okay.  Good enough.   I decided very reluctantly to stay home from our monthly Book Club tonight — I miss my friends and I actually liked the book we read for this month and  I wanted to be in on the discussion with them.    I texted our leader and told her I couldn’t come because of my earache — and then got a text back from some computer saying my text went through, thank you for their using text to voicemail program.  Hmmmm.

Later in the evening I got a phone call from our leader:

She wanted to know if that was me that sent the message, and then, as the background noise sorted itself out I was hearing “Hello…!”     “Come and join us”    “Where are you?”   And the sweetest of all:  “There’s still time for you to come!”

First time in a couple of days, I wrinkled up the sides of my face, crinkled my sore ear, stretched my muscles into my aching ear drums….and smiled!

Those voices of my friends is the best medicine.    I’ll take it.   And I’ll keep that lesson in my heart, to give to others that same kind of wonderful medicine:   Happy friendship!

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine…..”  Proverbs 17:22

Yep.

 

 

 

TIME OUT

July 8, 2012

Had a very busy, eventful week,   been hearing some  interesting things,  but I can’t write about anything yet.   This is me for the last two days:

Well, I’m not a guy,  but close enough.

 Son – who is a pharmacist –  asssures me there is nothing safe to put in the ear that will take the pain away, so for a while I’ll use my nice hot red  “pillow.”     Feels good to just lay my ear on the heat, close my eyes,  and repeat the magic word:  “ow, ow, ow, ow….”

 

I’ll get back to The Spruce Tunnel later.

TINY LITTLE STORM VICTIM

July 5, 2012

Our turn for the big midwestern summer storms.

Woke up in the middle of the night to a mighty roaring overhead.   Strong, steady, straight-line winds that roared through the treetops and sounded like a parade of bull dozers on my roof.   The rumbling and vibrations went on for almost a half hour in the heavy rain.

Lost a tree top:

That looks like brush at the edge of the pond, but it’s not, it’s the tree top.    Plants and chairs blew off my deck.   There is tree debris all over the yard again.

Found a tiny little tragedy on my driveway:

That would be “one less robin.”

So fast can bad things strike.

Life is precious.

OUR BEST FOURTH OF JULY

July 4, 2012

Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July today!

 

Each year our little family celebrates the anniversary of our very best Fourth of July.   The conditions were very much like today, in 2012.    On that day:

it was very hot,

heat index above 100;

humid;

windy;

a beautfiul full moon

and a wild ride to the hospital where our first child, our daughter, was born a few minutes later.

A few hours later a tornado went through the south side of our little city, and new moms and new babies were brought together in the same room, a practice which was not common back in those days.

Here is that little daughter,  a few  years later —  practicing being a little angel –

Independence Day –  the declaration of a new nation.   New life for our little daughter.   And a couple years later,  on the 200th anniversary of our nation, the birth of our son.

So much to think about today.

Deo gratias.

 

SUMMER MISCELLANY FROM THE TUNNEL

July 4, 2012

That was a heavy, serious last posting, red with the Precious Blood…Let’s change colors:

Thank you, my friend, for your telephone instructions last night about What To Do With a Whole Bag of Lemons  (besides using a couple for ice water….and watching the rest slowly turn moldy….)     You slice them, freeze them, and bag the frozen slices for storage in the freezer and later use.   You grate them into Lemon Zest…freeze that too.   Boil the leftover lemon parts, which I used to call “garbage,”  and add a little sugar and — voila! —  lemon syrup for making lemonade.

I’ll follow your instruction for freezing my herbs in olive oil — when I get around to picking them out of my garden.

So….what’s that….yellow,  green….then BLUE !

As in Blue Splotches . . .

(I did that.)

(I did that too.)

That was my favorite backyard little bench.

 I had an algae problem in our backyard pond.    Have.   Had, I hope.   I’ve notice lots of algae this year, and along with the hot, humid weather,  our fish have a lot less oxygen.  I haven’t seen our goldfish back there in a week or two, and I thought they might need a little human help —  cleaning up their living quarters, so to speak.   But….without Hubbie around for advice — and his skill and muscles —  I kind of muddled through and chose hopefully the best remedy –  a deep blue-yellow dye for fish ponds that will absorb the light rays that algae normally use for photosynthesis, thereby starving them, or suffocating them, rather than the fish.

The idea was easy.   Getting the deep blue-yellow dye INTO the pond was not easy.    My arms weren’t long enough, my muscles weren’t strong enough.  I found that out when I tried to sling the liquid dye into the pond at twenty-foot intervals.

So I’ve now dyed my entire pond a deep teal blue.   And, yes, more splotches along the back there too.    Still haven’t seen any goldfish.  I’m a little worried that when they finally surface I’ll discover that I’ve dyed them BLUE.    And then there are my turtles, swimming around now with only the very tip of their nostrils above the water surface.   I wonder what I’ve done to them.

But I have a new outdoor job, now:  watering the pond.

I borrowed that metal support from my tomoato plants and rigged up the hose into a kind of a fountain.  I’m hoping that will add a little oxygen into the pond too — and disperse the teal blue dye a little faster.

I’m hoping Hubbie is looking down on me with kind thoughts.

Thought of my own Mama too.    “When Mama tells you not to play outside in your good clothes…..Don’t!”     Just.   Dont.

I don’t understand how that dye got all over the place.    Indoors, kitchen floor, cabinets, sink, my dish towels — everything seemed to explode with blue splotches.   Not everything cleaned up very well.

Let’s see…back to red.

My raspberries are doing nicely, not quite ripe yet.   But they seem to have invited another type of bright red berry to live with them.  I don’t know what that is but they seem to get along together.

One more summer issue –  I guess it can be called a purple issue –

Around the big tree are purple-hosta-flowers-to-be.    This is the only group that hasn’t been eaten by the deer yet, and here’s the remedy:  You put up some stakes and make a barrier of those thin Christmas ribbons that you use when you wrap presents (the kind you take a pair of scissors and curl the ribbon…. )   Deer hate  that kind of ribbon, and it worked last year.  I ran out of ribbon for this summer.  An oversight on my part.  I wasn’t thinking of Christmas supplies for my yardwork.

So I substituted thin strips of what used to be a plastic garbage bag and tied them to string.    They flap very easily in a light breeze.   If I understand the farmers around here correctly,  it’s the uneven, sudden flapping of the ribbon or these strips that the deer don’t like.    Or maybe the way the faint moonlight of night reflects off the uneven surface of the ribbons or strips.

I’ve hung on to Hubbie’s favorite hosta plants so far!

 

 

REVERSE THE CURSE

July 1, 2012

Feel like you’re under a “curse” ?

Yep.

An easier word for today’s understanding  is:  consequences.     In the last posting I wrote about the crushing of Christianity in Europe.  What European newspapers also write about is vast complexes of corruption in their banks and among their political leaders, a massive increase in crime of all kinds, rioting, murder, abortions, euthanasias,  greed and the rising prices of utilities, petrol, food and other consumer goods.

The cost and consequences of  crime, corruption, immorality, and just plain sin are increasing  the misery of the people in Europe.    The socialist governments offer – are demanding –  austerity for  their people.  More austerity.   More misery.

Sounds like a curse to me.

And, yes, Christian values are on the decrease all over Europe.   The Name of Christ is blasphemed;  the Body of Christ is insulted;  the Blood of Christ is …  not even understood.

I heard in our sermon this morning that “blood stains” things.   I hadn’t thought about that, so sheltered am I from the real way we procure our food (meat).    But I do remember my Mom scolding me about bringing home yet another skinned knee:  “Don’t get blood all over your clothes!” she’d say  — or the furniture!

Blood stains things.  It stains things crimson and red and dark red and brownish red. . .The great prophet Isaiah writes that our sins stain our souls like blood stains things.   Then he tells us the words of Someone who can remove those stains.   “If your sins be as scarlet they shall be made as white as snow.”   (Isaias 1:18)

How astonishing!

at the foot of the Cross

 

This blood, pouring down at the foot of the Cross, which should produce stains on physical things instead removes our stains and produces the whiteness of holiness in our souls.

All of Christendom celebrates today with gratitude and humility the astonishing fact that the Blood of Christ, offered on the altar of His Cross, has the power to remove the stains produced by Original Sin and by our individual sins.

The stain, the consequences, the curse of sin — all reversed by the Blood of the Lamb.

Blood Sacrifice indeed.   Thanks be to God.

May Europe remember  where to find this Most Precious Blood. . .

In  the uplifting words of our postcommunion prayer today:

We who have been admitted to

Thy Holy Table, O Lord,

have drawn waters with joy

from the fountains of the Savior.

May His Blood, we beseech Thee,

be for us a fountain of water

springing up into everlasting life . . .