Archive for May 2014

WE ARE EARTH AND HEAVEN

May 29, 2014

I  EARTH

The day started out with a lot of “dirt.”   Earthy dirt.    Dirty drips on my dusty garage floor led me to the dealership for an oil change and a possible “oil drip check up.”    Well, they knew what I meant.

And while I sat and daydreamed next to this beauty,  the mechanics did the dirty oily things under the hood of my car.

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As I drove home, Son met me at my house, ready to do really dirty-earthy work.    The stones around the edge of the pond are getting unstable, and I need a man’s creativity (and muscles)  to do something about it.   We made more plans for maintenance and planting around the house and went off to get tools and parts and flowers.

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The nitty-gritty of everyday life.   Sweat.    Dirt under my fingernails.  Elbow grease.  Taking care of things “by the sweat of our brow.”

And then it was time to change gears.
II    Heaven

I got all cleaned up, dressed in silky, swishy summer  clothes, and I even got to wear a lacy veil.    It’s Ascension Day,  today,  the day Christendom recognizes the ascension of Christ into Heaven.

Before me now it was all clean and white and golds and shiny silvery things.   I stayed in the moment.  I paid attention.  I was so much in the moment that I really wasn’t anticipating what was going to happen.

Paschal

And so it seemed that suddenly I was watching a silver candle snuffer coming down onto the beautiful Paschal candle that has been burning since Easter Sunday.   The small soft flame at the top of the candle represents for us our Resurrected Christ walking among us for forty days.

And then it’s over.  The little flame is gone.   There is the little smoke of memory and the slight fragrance of snuffed out candle…  but that’s all.

“He is not here.  He has risen, as he said.”   Quid statis aspicientes in coelum?     (As I was doing, staring at the “empty” candle.)

Jesus is no longer here, with us, walking this same earth as we do.

Yes, of course He’s “here.”     He’s here in Holy Communion.   He’s here in the Tabernacles.  He’s here within us, our hearts His temple.

But He’s no longer here walking on the earth, as we still must do.   We can no longer touch His robes,  hear His voice.

But then — suddenly it will seem — we’ll have ahead of us the clean white golds and shining silvery life for us in Heaven.    As Christians have heard the words for almost two thousand years:  ...sic veniet, quemadmodum…     “This same Jesus, in like manner,  will return.”

We are  creatures of this earth made alive by His spirit.

Earth and Heaven!

Deo gratias!

WHAT WE JUST CELEBRATED . . .

May 28, 2014

Here’s a riddle:    “When is a parking lot a park?”     (Okay, I’m not a professional riddle-maker.)   The answer is –  “When it’s a parking lot in one of America’s small towns.”

SAMSUNGMy little blue car is there, behind the big car.   I drove “to town” to pay my insurance bill, and as I returned to the car, it occurred to me what a lovely and pleasant experience I was having.    Even the parking lot looks more like a park than a “lot” for parking, although my little camera hardly captured the greenness, the  serenity, the fragrant air full of spring blossoms.

I pay for my insurance here twice a year.   Astonishingly,  the lady who takes my money remembered me from last May and that I was soon to be on my way on a road trip to California.   She asked me how the trip was and, as she got my receipt ready,  made small talk that was personal and genuinely interested.

SAMSUNGNothing special about our little town.      I’m just hoping it’s like tens of thousands of other little towns in our whole nation.      It’s where many hundreds of thousands of our soldiers and sailors came from, and it’s what they had in mind when they sung songs to “the girl I left back home.”    In their minds,  ordinary, normal, unknown, non-famous American people are who our Veterans were fighting for – and we are the ones who give them grateful honor and praise for their success  on Memorial Day – and especially the ones who didn’t make it back home to us.

Now of course,  “the girl back home”  or “hot dogs, apple pie, and mom”  lived in both small towns and cities.   My formative years were spent in Chicago, and it remains in my memory the loveliest, most beautiful and interesting city in the country!

Chicago even has a “river” running through it:

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Not like this one behind my insurance office, though.

But no matter where you lived,  the American culture was in harmony with American people from both small towns and cities.     It was something you could define and something you could count on.    It was something immigrants dearly wanted to become part of.    (Oh, yes —  “we’re all immigrants here.” )   And it was something worth defending and perpetuating.

SAMSUNGI thought about this attitude —  “happy to be here in America” — and taking pride in living here,  and so I walked away from the car, leaving the door unlocked, and went down by the river which this little town had made a part of their “scene” so that people here could experience the natural beauty.

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I got on the walkway.      This landscaping took effort and planning —  and civic pride.    It took an awareness of the goodness the town has all around them.

I’m quite sure that you have things like this around you too.    Good people.   Good values.   Good hard work.

The disruptive thoughts are within us,  they sometimes come from the noisy media,   but I think they can be overcome.     It wasn’t Memorial Day which was disruptive to the urgencies of our daily schedules.    I think it was Memorial Day which is normal.

SAMSUNGTo truly celebrate Memorial Day is to truly appreciate what we have here in our “home towns.”

I took a little more time to enjoy the walkways. that were built for us.    To experience it, to get to know this part of town,  to get to recognize a genuine good thing.    And that’s the key.   If we hold on to the genuine good, we will recognize when someone comes along to tell us their way is “better”  because it is “different,”     or their political creed is superior to the one our Founding Fathers gave us.

To truly celebrate Memorial Day, we need to know just what it was our soldiers and sailors fought to preserve.

 

U.S.S. UTAH – Remembering

May 25, 2014

One family’s Memorial Day:

A photo taken from the forward deck of the U.S.S.  Utah  –  (1918)

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Perhaps it was the Viking in my Grandpa’s heritage that made him choose the Navy.   That water rolling over the deck stirs the blood!

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My Grandpa was off to fight The War to End All Wars.   The Great War.   The War to Turn Back the Huns – who marched towards world domination and threatened the freedom of citizens in Europe.      Woodrow Wilson was elected on the promise that he would keep America out of the war – did you know that? –  and Americans believed him.   But he was a world socialist at heart,  a believer in one-world government,  and so we all – collectively –  fought for that particular common good.   I’m not angry about that war.    Those issues belong to my grandparents and great-grandparents.

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All I know is that my Grandpa thought he was doing a good thing, and so he became part of the crew assigned to the U.S.S. Utah.   In these pictures he was on his way to France to supply the battleships.   He had some “duty time”  in Paris, that I’m sorry I never thought to ask him about.   Instead, I asked him  what he and his friends did on the ship.   He told me he spent most of his time on board below decks –  a waste of far-seeing blue Viking eyes, in my opinion.   He worked with dangerous and dirty machines in the dark, but the real danger came from the German boats that had the U.S.S. Utah in their sights at times.

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These are  some of his friends.   I can’t decide if my Grandpa is in this picture.

Why did they go?  They were protecting their families back home.

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And I think they truly were.   Dictatorships had arisen.   Was it worth it to fight against Napoleon?     Was it worth it to fight the Franco-Prussian war and prevent a German/Austrian takeover of Europe?   Was it worth it to fight against the ambitions of Hitler?     My Grandpa and his friends would have thought so.

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Life was waiting for them back home – if they made it back home.   The girlfriend was waiting for him.   Good, pure, moral, loyal, and capable of running their future home and raising their future children.    Together,  they made it through many serious difficulties and dangers, but they worked hard and became a family

And when that happened,  then many years later,  my Grandpa could tell me some things about those days of war.

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My Grandpa and many others made it home safely.   The U.S.S. Utah was safe for a while.  And then it was sunk – at Pearl Harbor – at the beginning of another war.

So, this is one family,  one person at least,  remembering the dangers and sacrifices the men of our military made to keep us free and to give us a life we call “normal.”

 

ROLLING THUNDER

May 23, 2014

What could make us prouder?

Rolling 1

 

Good people.   Good veterans.   Good families.   Good pa*  tri*  ots.   Good feelings.   Good music.  Good reasons . . . .

Rolling 2

I’d like to recommend to all of you that you check out Rolling Thunder 2014.       It’s the annual gathering of bikers at Washington D.C. during the Memorial Day weekend.     There is strength in numbers.   And affirmation and comradeship and courage and confirmation in numbers.    And there is “voice” in numbers.   Hear them.

They’re coming.  They’re on their way.

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Rolling Thunder began as a tribute to those who fought in Viet Nam, but who never came home.  Our brothers, husbands, and sons had been killed,  imprisoned, or just “lost.”   KIA’s and MIA’s  and POW’s – and much of the attention of Americans back then was being distracted and misdirected and propagandized away from our military.     Rolling Thunder began in order to keep our attention on the Viet Nam veterans and, now,  on all those whom we honor on Memorial Day and to whom we owe so much.

I don’t have a bike and  I don’t plan to go to Washington and  just about everyone I’ve talked to seems to be unaware of these people.       But I’d like us all to be the kind of citizens that Rolling Thunder is counting on us to be.

 

Rolling logo

 

MAY 21st

May 21, 2014

About 3:30 in the morning, a certain number of years ago,  Hubbie raced out of the house to awaken our neighbor who promised to care for our little daughter….  I somehow managed to get myself into our car, and in a few moments we were speeding through the city.

“The baby” was on its way,  and the hospital was a half hour from our house.     I was put in a wheelchair, and someone said  “Arrival time, 4:00.”

Son was born at 4:19.

A night to remember!   And a Son to celebrate today, May 21st.

We had a nice day,   Son did “whatever he wanted to do,”  and I enjoyed scurrying about getting birthday surprises ready.

Neither of us managed to feed ourselves much today,  so we really  enjoyed a late birthday meal of  unusually good-tasting baked potatoes,  broccoli,  a good salad,  and — ribs!

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That’s a large pan that held a whole rack of ribs with barbecue sauce from Georgia, made with peaches, from Georgia of course.  Oh, my,  that was good sauce!    Not much left!

Then it was time for the birthday things:

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I took a photo of Son sitting behind that birthday cake,  but Son is so big that the cake looked rather miniature.     Chocolate-lovers torte…creamy and delicious.   How fun it is to do everything you can think of for another person whom you love.

I think he had a good day today:

SAMSUNGNo –  I did NOT put him to work.   He “did whatever he wanted to do.”    I’m just really glad he had my lawn in mind.   He used a push mower for the front lawn, a power mower for the back.  I don’t know why.

Tomorrow he goes back to his pharmacy to work –  where I hope his employees will treat him well, in a birthday kind of way.  In the evening there is a nice dinner planned for him – a “dinner for two.”   And then more work and more birthday invitations in the evening.

For someone who took only  19 minutes to come at the hospital,  he knows how to stretch out a celebration!

Happy Birthday, Son!    Your day!   Your life!    To celebrate.

Deo gratias!

 

“FILLED WITH A NUMBER OF THINGS. . . “

May 20, 2014

“The world is so full of a number of things/I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings!”    That was a little couplet I grew up with in my children’s set of books, edited by Olive Beaupre Miller.

I wrote in the last posting about the terrible tragedy that hit close to this home and then the need for all of us to … then …  go on.   And we do.     So, a little “dazed,”  I took part in one of my favorite local “things”  –  our library’s Used Book Sale.     Come with me, see how it was:

Boo LaCrosseWell, that’s a LaCrosse field.  Together with soccer games,  there were eight fields in use by the children at school, and consequently all the parking lots were overflowing.Book ParkingSo   —   You get to park “out of the lines”  (of the parking lot)  and wherever you want to!   Or wherever you can find room for your car.

Then a walk to the right building, following the signs:

Book signIt’s not that round, gray building, it’s the white one,  way, way over in the distance.   It’s been a half-mile walk.    A fast one,  because I love books.     And then – a familiar sign:

Book Door Sign

First glimpse through the door at what awaits.    And it’s another familiar sight.

Book Coming InThose are the people at the table that you’ll see on your way out.  They’ll count your books and take your money.  And they’re waiting!

A little conversation and hello to friends,  but mostly we’re all pretty seriously concentrating on book titles –

Book PickingWho can resist books for 25 cents?   50 cents?   Or be wildly extravagant and choose a specialty book for $1.00 or $3.00!

Book Picking Room

Each table holds one category of books.    Fiction, Science Fiction,  Music,   Crafts,  Business,  Computers,  Foreign Language, Mysteries,  History,  Religion.      Here’s the Cooking –

Book Cooking

There are many, many audio books and CDs and DVDs  too.

Book CDs DVDs

But by now we notice the room is hot and stuffy, and our backs hurt from bending over and our arms begin to protest holding all those books we picked out.    As exciting as it is to arrive,  it begins to feel that it’s time to go.

Check out with the nice people who chat about your book selection as they count up the cost for you.  I had chosen a big audio book set of Homer:  the Iliad and the Odyssey.   I’ve been reading them and studying them for some time now, so I thought I’d have them on in the background and listen to the cadences of the words –  in English,  but nevertheless they were meant to be heard.   I was astonished when the man who was checking my books said,  “You’ll like Fagles!”

Fagles?    Fortunately he went on to discuss various translators, and he explained that Robert Fagles is his favorite translator of Homer.    “He’s the best,”   the man said.    I thanked him for that assurance;  kind of an affirmation that I had chosen well, however inadvertently.

No matter how much you know about something,  there is always someone who knows far, far more than you do.

As I left the book room,  I glanced upwards:

Book Sign Next Time

Familiar sign,  new date.   There’ll be a next time.

I was fairly restrained in my book choosing this time.   I walked out with all my books carried in one hand.     Holding a large bag.

Then I got to do something unusual – way out of bounds! –  driving deliberately on the grass at school.

Book Driving in Grass

A few weeks ago my house had a little “accident.”    All by itself a book shelf let go and collapsed….

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I’m not surprised.  It was overstuffed anyway.   I sort of fixed the shelf, worked around the broken little supports – and then I solved the problem permanently:   I bought another book case to thin out the shelves a little!

And then I had a little empty space in the new bookcase….  just in time for the Used Book Sale.

“The world is so full of a number of things/I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings!”

SHY ABOUT “NORMAL” — DUO’S DE DIABLO

May 18, 2014

I know.   I know I know I know.   “Life goes on”  and you have to just pick up the pieces and soldier on.   For most people these last several days were “normal” days — but not for us, and I’m feeling a little “shy”  about calling life normal yet and going on, unchanged.

Police Tape

Things happened in two’s  in the past week or so –  “duo” in that Pidgin Spanish;  and even if you don’t believe in the devil,  you’ll acknowledge the “devilish,” evil nature of some of these unfortunate duos.  TWO people were killed here last week.    Hit close to home.

Son called one morning and said “I just want you to know I’m all right, Mom. . . .”     That’s a surefire way to make a Mom’s heart start beating fast.    Of course you’re all right,  you’re safe at work, right?   Well, Son is a pharmacist, and he didn’t want me to hear it first on the news that a pharmacist had just been shot at a Rite-Aid pharmacy, like his,   and  in his same town.

He had just spoken to that pharmacist minutes before.  A routine call;  a friendly call for advice.    And within minutes that life was over.

I want to pay  a small tribute to that pharmacist:

Police PharmHis name is Michael.   He was well-liked and well-respected in this close-knit community of pharmacy workers.   He loved his work.   Always a smile on his face.  Always ready to laugh.   I will not write the details of his dying, but that wonderful face is no more.    He leaves behind a wife and two small children.

And a Mom.   Like me.    The morning after it happened, I got up early and thought of her and wrote and wrote and wrote – I wrote fifteen blogs’ worth of writings.  But I couldn’t post any of it.   I thought I could empathize with some of the people involved…but I really couldn’t,  and none of those words seemed significant compared to the grief and loss experienced by those who loved him and knew him.   Love him and know him.

The shooter ran a mile back to his own home, and then shot and killed one of his neighbors, so there were two deaths that day.      Dos.   Duo.   There was grief and shock for his family and friends and neighbors too.

And then the police captured the shooter.

Police shooterThere’s the judge;  there’s the shooter.

The aftermath has not been easy for everyone involved.    From what I hear, everyone seems super-sad, super-tired, super-perplexed,  super-confused about proceeding on with things.   Not one word of anyone “doing well”  yet.

Things will unfold and develop for everyone as it will, each according to his own nature, but it will take time.

I had more “duo’s”  this week –  bad ones that kept me a little tense.   We had lightning strikes and two quick and hard power outages –  and two of my computers were affected, lost  a router,  and twice this week I’ve had long Internet interruptions.     My two cars (Hubbie’s and mine)  each became unreliable;  double problems there.    A few other pairs of difficult things to deal with — but as you can see,  nothing as significant as the sudden, untimely death of two good young men.

So, this is about my longest time away from the Spruce Tunnel —  Blogging is “normal” for me;  and it feels a little strange to return to normal.

But it’s time to pick up the pieces.   Just wanted to explain my absence – and thank you all who contacted me to inquire.

 

HE AND I – ON THE BEACH

May 8, 2014

I’ve had a little time since I’ve returned home to look back on my trip to Florida.    I remember that I “made” myself spend time on the beach.  And then I made myself stay there even a bit longer,  because the human mind needs more time than we realize to grow and mature.

SurfTwo or three posts ago I wrote about sitting near the surf one dark, stormy evening, and what I had learned then.   But on this day I was walking – walking and feeling.

I was feeling the glare of the sun producing a painful, blistering rash on my exposed skin.   And I was also feeling the cool force of the weight of the surf bubbling over my feet:

Footstep

I knew I needed this sensation to last for a very long time.  It’s so strange to me, I don’t feel the surf very often,   and it was opening up all kinds of sensations and feelings and thoughts.   Step after step in the shifting sand I was feeling the very high and joyful experiences that I was having in the south, and also the very, very low experiences I and my Mom were suffering.

It was so sweet to be with her – to see portions of her mind that remembered me and all our old photos, and every single precious word that she could speak.   But I learned some very terrible “secrets” from her nurses too, and I’m brought very low.

I marveled that Florida looks like a beautiful tropical paradise with exotic vegetation and lots of outdoor activities available,  but the local news was filled with violent crime after violent crime,  and sad, wounded people.

The streets were usually filled with slow, bumper-to-bumper traffic, people going everywhere,  but many stores were empty – abandoned buildings,  closed businesses.   I seemed to be always hungry because the restaurants I remembered were closed or had very limited hours.

I was often  filled with both happy expectations,  and then also surprising sorrow.

And then –  while I was walking –  since it’s just after our celebration of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus,   I remembered that He too walked along a beach – often going down to the shoreline of the Sea of Galilee.

Surf walk

What rejoicing and victory!  He walked in His “new and everlasting body” —  so different from the body He had in this world and during His suffering and death on the Cross.    It just came to me that the manner in which Jesus walks now, on shores and beaches and in surfs, if he chose to, just like me,  He would be walking beyond all suffering —  I’m so glad for Him! –and so will we some day too.

Once or twice a day, I say in the creed:   “…carnis ressurectionis…”    –  “I believe in the resurrection of the body”;  a body that  in the next life will be  impassible,  no longer feeling uncomfortable changes, no longer affected by physical wounding and corruptions,   no longer having a heart heavy with sadness, losses, partings, and sorrows,   no more worries about the pain and difficulties of my life coming to an end.

The sense of His presence with me in the surf that day was so strong.

He wants this impassibility for all of us, because it is the right thing for us, and because He loves us and wants good things for us. . . .

So, it was He and I on the beach that day.

A touch from His loving hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHORT “TUESDAY TRIBUTE” with JOSEPH AND HIS RULER

May 7, 2014

Car okay;  driver still down, a bit.

But I’m listening to the news as I get better.   Mainstream media is very happily repeating and repeating and repeating our Rulers’ desire to redistribute our wealth – take from successful people and countries and pass our money through their hands,  hoping that we’d believe our money will some day  get to countries “in need.”

I don’t know.   If they scare you enough,  would you begin to  believe them?  

All evidence to the contrary,   would you impoverish yourself to make the sun stop affecting our weather?    Would you give up some of your money and your independence to make the sun stop having its 510-year  cycles so our climate wouldn’t have “disturbances” ?

A Tuesday Tribute to our (victorious, 11-06-12) Rulers who are trying so hard to “disturb” us by telling us our activities are causing “disturbances” in the climate.

How about a peek at the last ten thousand years?

cycle chart

Dear Rulers:  This is before automobiles were invented.   Maybe you should begin studying Joseph of the Bible.    He knew another cycle was going to begin, and he convinced his ruler (pharaoh) to begin storing up grain and preparing for the coming drought and food shortages.   Pharaoh was smart.   Egypt prepared.  Egypt and many other peoples were saved through difficult climate “disturbances.”

Dear Algore:  We know how you cheated in your inconvenient eighth-grade level power point movie –  You cut off the chart to make it fit the conclusions our Rulers told you to have.

Dear National “Geographic”:   We know how you cheated by cropping the polar bear photo just right to scare us into thinking their icebergs were melting and their water was rising.     There is more ice cover now in the world than when you did that a few years ago.

 

CAR AND DRIVER

May 4, 2014

Car and driver made it home –

Car and Driver
After we drove out of the steamy, thick, humid, hot southern air,  the car slowly revived.   Drove over a thousand miles, white-knuckled,  repeated the mantra “Fix it, Lord…”   with tears not far away.    And the car kept going.

Funny thing is,  the further north we got,  the better Hubbie’s car was acting.   But the further north we got the worse I was doing.

I was finding it undeniably difficult to drive, not because of car trouble, it was because of me.

After breathing in all that hot, humid air, and all the strange smells coming through the various musty, super-cold, super-dry air conditioners, and spending time with the ladies in their nursing home ward, all cooped up together, incubating goodness knows what,   I have definitely breathed in something very unwanted.

It seems I’ve slept here at home for two nights,  but I don’t remember yesterday – it just…went by.   Son came to visit.  That must have been yesterday.

NASCAR happened. car races

That must have been today.

Ears, eyes, nose, and throat are making themselves known.   Lungs are getting in on the act.    I’ll let them have their turn,  and then I’ll get better.

Home is the place to be.

Deo gratias.

ON A WING AND A PRAYER

May 2, 2014

(I do hope you’ve all had the  strengthening  experience in your formative years of that movie “On a Wing and a Prayer.”    Very good for teenagers, young adults, and adults.)

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Strengthening effect notwithstanding,   I’m not sure I even have a “wing” today.

Broke down in southern Georgia – rural southern Georgia.    (They “heard of computers”  they said, which is probably what’s causing my Warning Light to inform me that there is a Loss of Power, or sometimes Low Power.)

On the other hand,  ever hear of the Robertsons on Duck Dynasty?     It’s ALL TRUE!    There really are Christian ladies and gentlemen down here that enfold you  in love and kindness when you are in distress.

But, well, stalling when you need power steering and power brakes is pretty unsettling, and losing power on any slight uphill grade is downright dangerous.    Semis veer around me and whiz by at 60 m.p.h.

And today I have two mountain ranges to get through.

I got going  on the road again through the prayers of those southern Georigians and their kindness which gave me a small amount of courage…a womanly amount, I guess.     If you have any skill in praying,  please give me a thought today in your prayers.    I know I drive under a whole panoply of angels and saints who help me implore our God to get me home –

I saw a billboard – in middle Georgia – that showed a man hanging off a cliff by a rope.  The words on the billboard said:   “It’s okay.   Let go.  Jesus will catch you.”

Deo gratias.