Archive for the ‘Backyard Pond’ category


March 27, 2019


Kind of an explanation;  kind of a diary entry record for the Spruce Tunnel.


“Into each life some rain must fall . . .”   Remember that old saying?     It’s true, of course,  but , oh, such a gentle picture compared to the deluge that real life can give us sometimes.


It became a song, too, in the 20th century.  Actually, the Inkspots did the nicest rendition,  to my ear.  Here’s their three-minute song, if you have the time.   (Bonus:  the wonderful voice of Ella Fitzgerald!)


Yes,  “Too much Has fallen in mine….”

So:     Sorry I’ve been gone so long.

Old Hag JPEG 90There’s been  a lot for a “old lady” to cope with.     Pain:  lots and lots and lots and lots of pain (self-inflicted; my fault)   and  breakdowns and home repairs and new studies to prepare for and . . .

Um . . .  that picture is not me, exactly, but here’s what I’ve been up to.

And here’s what started it:

branch cutters

They’re heavy!

Especially when you have to hold them up above your head,  arms extended:

branch cutting thick

And especially when you want to cut thick branches, way  high over your head…it’s already hurting me. . .  and then I really wanted to push those blades together and cut that thick branch….

And . . .  blam!

branch cutting up

Pushed those things together with all my might and ripped and tore things inside my chest, which is already home to a pretty bad disease.  Who knows what happened in that moment,  but the result, the pain, was with me for weeks.   I think those branch cutters severed nerves and tendons and ligaments and bones . .  .

But I really love to work in my back yard.

You wouldn’t think there was much to do in the early Spring, here in the Far North,  but the snow is gone . . .  only ice:

Deck Right Mid-March 2019

It’s not very pretty, lookinginto my back yard.  Old wrinkled ice,  brown grass, and bare trees,  but it’s a sign of Spring — and a sign that there will be a lot of outside work to do in the coming days.

Going to be pretty in places, though.


Crocuses arrived.     How are YOUR daffodils doing?

While I was moving about the house, trying hard not to move my sore arms and shoulders and chest, my garbage disposal failed.   Had to get a new one.

Then the furnace failed.

furnace repari

Didn’t have to get a new one . . .  thought I would have to.  So that was good news.
Double good news – the furnace repair man repaired my hot water heater.  Didn’t know it was broken!

Very nice furnace repair man who went over and above his call of duty.    Of course his extra time and parts were on the bill — but it was worth more than that.  An act of kindness.    I need to Pay It Forward.

spigot   Speaking of “water,”  I made the pretty big decision to have a reverse osmosis system put into my house.   For health.   Or at least for the hope of healing.     It’s not the purity of the water I was after,  but the alkaline.  The installer has it set at 8.8 pH —  quite alkaline.    I’d been buying alkaline water anyway at the price of $2 or more per 1 1/2 liters  and drinking about two a day.

I never did want to add that up per month.      That little spigot will save me lots of money.

The sweater is done and sent on to the High Sierras.

Sweater Sent


Next big (complicated) endeavor –  Our Bible study classes came to an end of one project, and we are turning now to a new one, a study of Calvary.

Bible Rosary and Glasses 270

I thought I knew most everything that happened there,  but I chanced upon a small book called The Six Miracles of Calvary.     My goodness!    What a reward for dusting off my bookshelves!    I thought I’d get it read in an hour or two and then pass it on,  but it was such a treasure trove of insight that I knew I must share it with my classes.

So I’m creating “Lesson Plans.”    Old teacher-habits die hard.      It’s keeping me away from the computer (and from blogging)  but this is a welcome task.     I feel sorry for my classes:  I won’t be able to bring to them half as much as I’m learning from this little book.  Deus vult.

Perhaps during Holy Week I can summarize it for you.

We’ve all endured a “terrible’  funeral.  The loss of a good friend from our class.   I don’t have the words to describe him;  good man;  gentle with us;  smart,  full of faith in God his Savior;  loved the Church;  loved and honored and served at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass;   knowledgeable and generous with his knowledge;  and funny!    The sense of humor that hits you a few seconds later with a big impact and makes you see things through his funny lens.      Sorely  missed.   (Oh, I guess tghose are a few words to describe him….)

We’ve managed to have some recorder practice sessions, my musical friend and I.   Sometimes at her house, sometimes at mine.   And then comes the dessert.   She always, always sets such a lovely table;  seasonal and pretty.

Vicki good centerpiece

This was Winter berries and cardinal.

The “dessert” is superb.

Vicki's Spring Table 370

We always try to please each other with special food.    This was a lemon cake with raspberry sherbet –  Spring tastes!     Do try it sometime.  It’s one of those combinations that is better than the sum of its parts.

My turn today.  I served a homemade almond  cheesecake,  thick and rich and pretty good tasting, along with homemade peanutbutter cookies — well, that’s not a usual combination but it worked —  and some Fair Trade Organic Guatemalan  coffee.    The coffee was excellent.


How can I bake with wounded shoulders and chest?   Well,  thanks to God, the Great Physician, and with appreciation to St. Jude,  the pain has subsided.  So much of it has subsided that I’m beginning to think more is healing up in there than just the  injury.

I’ll let you know.


Meanwhile,  I’m back in business . . .   Ordinary life:

I have my Brackets completed and well on their way to . ..   well, pretty good success.   I’m not a basketball fan, but much to my surprise, I’m enjoying the NCAA Playoffs this year!

BRACKET Mueller Madness

Not those brackets!   I’ve been listening to the news too much — comments later.

Back to ordinary life in the Spruce Tunnel too.

“Random thoughts,”  as it says.







February 21, 2019

Expanding your  (mental)   horizons here:

I’ve written a bit about Light lately, here in the Spruce Tunnel.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot more.

Last night I was positively kept awake  all night by . ..  light.    Right in the dark,  there was the Super Snow Moon,  full and bright, about 30% brighter, they say,  because it’s a bit closer to the earth right now by 17,000 miles, I heard.      (So many conflicting facts out there!)

It wasn’t the moon that kept me awake,  it was the light of the moon:

Moonlight back

I think I showed similar photos a month ago,  but here’s the one from this week’s Super Full Snow Moon.      My house was surrounded by the sharp shadows of trees and shrubs.    As the moon moved in the sky,  the shadows were cast from different angles and the patterns kept on changing.

It was a constant delight from window to window.

I had visitors in the moonlight too:

Moon deer

That got pretty grainy because I was trying different settings on my camera.   I had deer footprints all over the pond and the yard the next morning.    Guess they were enjoying the moonlight too.

So Light reflects off the moon,  and it comes from our sun.

Here’s some fun with sunlight:


Start with a  camera.    Pick a time of day,  the same time every day.   Take one snapshot of the sun.    Come back each day at that time and take another snapshot.   If you can do this every day for one year,  you won’t get 365 pictures that look all the same;   you will get a pattern.


The pattern is called an analemma.

Here’s one professionally done:



Look it up in a Search Engine,  Images.    You’ll see that the sun makes that same pattern no matter who does it.   It won’t be quite that same pattern from the south or north poles, because your camera will see a different angle.     And if you do it on Mars?   It looks like a tear drop!

Speaking of Mars,  and outer space,   and lights and shadows,   remember that object that they discovered out there at the edge of our solar system that they called “Ultima Thule”  — making a joke, they were.   It caught their attention because it looked like it was made up of two unequal sized globes glued together somehow.     Since they didn’t know how that could be,  some speculated that maybeit wasn’t a natural object.

Well, then it moved.  And now we have a different view on it:

ULTIMAThule pancake

It wasn’t two globes stuck together at all.   The distant light shows us a peculiar double-circled flat shape.    And now scientists  really  don’t know how that could have formed naturally.

And here’s an un-natural natural phenomenon:

Green DRAGOn Aurora 260

A brilliant green dragon rises from the earth,  unfurling its wings, tossing its head,   ready to roar and spew out fire . . . .

Or so it seems.

It’s a recent aurora;  the northern lights.     If you were lucky enough to be in Iceland that night,  maybe you would have been a little startled.

Once you see something, you can’t un-see it.

I know what northern lights are.   But this still looks menacing!

The first command given in this cosmos:  “Let there be Light!”




September 2, 2018

It’s still Sunday.  Seems a shame to focus on those Unsolvable worldly Problems right now,  so I’ll report a little spiritual matter that came up recently, from a combination of sources.


It began with a quiet evening with Son on my back deck.   I remarked how lately I’d  been appreciating a beautiful portion of my back yard.

Green pathways 350

Some of you have seen my back yard before,  but  this year I had made sure that grass grew on that pathway connecting the two parts of the yard.  (The camera didn’t pick up the bright green of the pathway.)    I had thought it looked nice with a dirt path,  you know, like a natural deer path?  But this year I think the green pathway looks nice,  and it’s more inviting.  Gray rock on one side, old leaves on the other side.

That evening on the deck was still and quiet.  The water in the pond had a shining surface, and looked cool and pleasing.

Deck Left Aug 20 350


“Green Pathways”   +    “Still  Waters”   =   I couldn’t help thinking of the “23rd Psalm (according to Jewish numbering).

lamb not wanting

“The Lord is my Shepherd,  I shall not want.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures.  He leadeth me beside still waters . . .”

At one time this Psalm was not only common knowledge,  but also a great comfort to  most Americans.   Today,  it is practically unknown,  unless you go to a Bible-reading church.    I memorized it as a child, of course;  we “had” to,  but I almost immediately understood its importance and deep,  rich meaning that continues to comfort.

What’s so special about “green pathways and still waters”?    They are  everything a little lamb would need.    They are a symbol for everything a whole flock of sheep would need!   The sheep who follow a  good and skillful shepherd will never be in want.

lamb sit and wait

There are several books written by men who have been shepherds and who know sheep well.

lamb book  According to these books, lambs are cute,  but they’re really,  really dumb, and they can’t take care of themselves.   When they grow up to be sheep,  they don’t get any smarter.   They’ll follow anything that looks like a good idea to them.  They’ll eat food that is bad for them.   They don’t realize they need fresh water and rest.    Stress kills them,  sooner or later.      And they don’t see danger coming until it’s too late!

But a good shepherd loves them and takes good care of them anyway.

And here is the connection to us:  The Bible says  “We all like sheep have gone astray. . .”

Of all the animals in the world,   the sheep most thoroughly resembles – us!

You know that Jesus has called Himself The Good Shepherd.   “Ego sum Pastor bonus.”   Why does He care so much “that we have everything we need”?

One answer.  Because he bought us!

He bought and paid for each one of us.

With His life:

lamb sacrificed


Some want to be counted with Jesus,  the Good Shepherd.

lamb knows voice


They will be all right.  They will lack nothing.  They won’t go astray.  And they will make it to Heaven,  following every moment, every step in His footsteps.


Bar Cross in middle


Of course,  not every human being chooses to be in His flock.    They want to do life their own way.   They want to choose their own path.  I don’t know where they’re heading.

Maybe they should take it from the shepherd,  David, and read that Psalm  (Psalm  22,  traditional Christian numbering,   or Psalm 23, Jewish numbering.)

Maybe people should try memorizing it.   “It’s the Psalm that keeps on giving!”



May 14, 2017

Sorry I’ve been away for a while again.

House upo High

I’ve found a hideaway again,  or pretty close.   It’s been very silent and quiet around here for about a week.   No TV.  Not much radio.  Not much YouTube.    I’m not sure why —   I’ve just “retreated.”

I guess people do that once in a while.

Actually,  my back yard makes a perfect Retreat in the Spring.

BACK YARD I prefer

I just want to sit on my deck and gaze at this.     It makes it hard not to withdraw from the world when I want to even when maybe I shouldn’t,  not so much.

Tree in Bloom cr

It’s just so pretty out there.

I think I’ve been looking normal.    I’ve had two repairmen come to my house this week.   That’s normal.   Now I have TV,  if I want to.   And I have clean water again.    Things  . .  .  break down from time to time.   Normal.

I’ve had an epic Drapery-Fail.    Got free curtain material with a comforter I had bought awhile  ago.    Time for me to get those drapes put up . .  .

Sewing is nice silent work.   Normal,  but silent.


I hit snag after snag after snag  (no pun intended)  but it looked like I was solving the problems.  Son even moved the drapery hardware for me on the walls near the windows.    But then –  I had misgivings.

I sewed for many hours this week, but I will now have to  redesign the whole project.  And the hardware will have to be re-done.    —  Well, it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow.   Can Son refuse. . . ?

Had a normal scheduled recorder session this week.    I hope I was a “good conversationalist,”  though I was struggling with paying attention sometimes.

And I’ve been going to class off and on,  I mean whenever classes are scheduled.   Nobody would know that in between activities I retreat into deep solitude and don’t want to talk.      It’s like a Funk  without feeling anything.

But I think I’ve been normal.


Been studying.  As usual.   Normal for me.   Got another problem I’m working on:      How did the assumptions of  univocal metaphysics arise out of  equivocal  categories   . . . ?   It’s the old Aquinas vs. Scotus thing.   But it’s not made any easier with Avicenna’s use of the word “being”  which tripped everyone up.   You can’t make good Latin from Greek via Arabic!


But I’m working on it.    I don’t always agree with this author,  so maybe he’s the one with the problem.

(How could I have been so busy these last few days when all I wanted was Silence around me?)

Opened up   a new laptop and got it  going . . .   Easy.  No brainer.  No thinking.    Then  I really didn’t want to   go   anywhere on the Internet.

But I did go somewhere a couple days ago.  I went to a good site, and there was a review of a book that presents exactly what I’ve been doing this week –  and what we’re all going through,  and it’s consequences, perhaps a remedy or two.

It’s a new book written by Cardinal Sarah-   one of the Good Guys   – a minority in Catholic thinking today.   Here’s a bit from that review:

We are in an age of increasing social madness. Cardinal Robert Sarah, in his new book, The Power of Silence, reveals this to be symptomatic of a widespread spiritual illness in modern Western culture. This illness, according to him, is largely caused by an absence of crucially needed, God and truth-revealing periods of silence of the ears, of the eyes and of the heart in the life of modern men and women.

“Silence of the ears, of the eyes and of the heart.”   *

He also talks about the    “tyranny of destructive external and internal noise.”

All that noise,  All that information.   All those words demanding that you pay attention and make some sort of decision.     It becomes a tyranny.    That’s what I’ve been shutting out, I think.

Because of all the noise experienced by our eyes, ears and hearts, modern man no longer hears, experiences and knows God. He is unable to comprehend the purpose and even the value of his life and the lives of others . . . Our world no longer hears God because it is constantly speaking, at a devastating speed and volume, in order to say nothing. Modern civilization does not know how to be quiet.

Quiet.   Silence.

Everything that enters the mind and heart through the senses, emotions and memories can create howling internal “noise” and greatly disturb our internal equilibrium, sense of being and relationship to our Creator.

Howling.   No TV howling.  No radio howling.  No music howling.  No Internet howling . . . Not much talking in the Spruce Tunnel either.   And sorry about that,  because today was an important anniversary for the whole world.    I’ll get to that in the next post —

—   but meanwhile,  one more glance backwards here.  I wonder if my craving for silence is coming from the Blood of my Forefathers.

sami sign

I’ll go visit them there, in Samiland, ,  once again,  before I move out into the “howling”  world where there is that “tyranny of noise”  and everyone is expected to comment on everything.




sami mountains

Nature, being quiet.

sami reindeer

Oh.    I guess it’s usually winter there.

How about a quiet cabin,  all alone . . .

sami in snow


.*  If you want to read the article about Cardinal Sarah’s new book,  it can be found here by removing all the spaces when you use this URL:

http:// angelqueen .org/ 2017/05/13/cardinal-sarah-reveals-surprising-cause-and-remedy-for-the-fears-and-anxieties-of-our-time/


April 9, 2017


Sorry I couldn’t get back here right away after the storm.  I’ve been “perturbed.”

But we’re still here:

2nd Tree and moon

That tall tree that twisted and turned so menacingly in our big storm is still standing.  The sky the next day was gloriously blue.  Innocently blue:  “What?  What storm?”   The pond level remains high but the raging torrent has returned to a normally high spring-level creek no longer uprooting trees and gouging out the creek bank.

Nature is calmer,  but this week becomes one of “perturbations”  and turmoil in the spiritual world,  during which Christians try to enter into the experience of Holy Week,  Jesus’ last week of life on this earth.   Try to enter into;  try to figure it out;  spend time  uniting in the experience, the story, the details.

The time approaches.

2nd Tree and Fist


Next to the photo of the top of the tree is a moon becoming full.  Not just any full moon;  the Paschal Moon,  for it is always full on Passover, and therefore on the Thursday of this particular week.    I put up my fist to measure the height of the moon.   One fist = 10 degrees.  The moon was about 50 degrees high in the sky.   As Thursday evening comes, it will be about that high,   but it will be just about at its highest point later in Gethsemane,  where Jesus had his  unspeakable agony,   sorrow beyond our understanding.


2nd Waves

So, the storm that Mother Nature gave our area is past, but the wind still blows little waves and ripples across the pond to accompany our unsettled feelings during our Holy Week meditations.

And now there is the storm our politicians are giving us in international affairs.    “Russia threatens war,”  the new headlines say.     Well,  yes.   We attacked a sovereign nation.   One which Russia was working with to defeat ISIS.   They would be “perturbed.”

And   “Perturbations in Egypt.”     Palm Sunday today, and 43 Christians were killed in their churches by Islamic bombs.    “Innocent children and women  should not be killed in that manner”   . .  .  to use the words of the American president commenting on events in Syria.    I hope he is not so perturbed that he takes advice to retaliate against Egypt.   And if not,  why not?

(Maybe an unnamed “chemical gas”  is supposed to perturb us more than a more familiar bomb-attack.)

“Perturbations” as Islam advances apace in the Western world.

This week, after a few months of listening to a lecturer from Yale present Late Ancient and Medieval history,   he suddenly began giving lectures falsifying  (and sanitizing)  the history of Islam —  I could have thrown fifty books at him that tell a very different  history,   and consistently different throughout the centuries of experience with Islam,  some of these books written long before this man was born.   I suppose he has to agree to say these things or else lose his tenure.

But, gee — if you can’t trust a history professor from Yale,  who can you trust?   (That’s a joke, my friends.)

But again, “Islam advances apace.”     Look up that word “apace.”


April 6, 2017


(Property jeopardy) —

Well, as far as yesterday’s post, “sailors take warning”  – it’s come true.   Rain, hail, snow,   and wind today;  but it’s an odd wind.   The wind is strong and jerky,  gusty,  blustery.    Trees aren’t just swaying,  they’re twisting.   I’m sitting here listening to things fall on my roof.

And trees and tree limbs crashing down . . .  and getting swept away:

I shouldn’t have a rapids in my creek!

A Rapids 400

You can walk across it in the summer and not get your ankles wet.   It gets high in the Spring,  but not this high.

The wind is blowing the trees around, and while I sat in my rocking chair this afternoon, right up next to a window, a 25-foot tree came crashing down into the creek.  Within a minute it had been washed downstream, without a trace.

I saw my lilac trees along the creek bank get washed away too –  too quick to grab my camera.


I’m losing my property fast today!    The soil between the pond and the creek is getting washed away,  but the biggest danger is  from this giant:

A Root 400

Starting from the roots which have lost much of their support from the soil around them,  on up and up and up –

A middle tree 345

I don’t know,  maybe 150 feet?     Maybe 200 feet?

A top tree 400

Same tree, farther up.   The top part of the tree is twisting in a partial circle when the gusts come, and I get the image of the whole tree just drilling itself loose from the ground.

That tree will crash into my house if it falls!!

(I know.     A tree that tall has a gigantic unseen root structure that spreads out widely and helps to anchor the tree . . . but they do fall.)

I was outside during the snow and rain this morning to rescue some objects from the rising creek and to check to see how much “land” I had left between the creek and the pond.

A Waters Meet 380

The pond is overflowing into the creek, and where the rivulets run, the snow has melted or been carried away.

A Waters mingle 380

The water rose rapidly and began to mingle.    From the looks of it now,  several hours later,   I’ve got even  less muck to walk on between that creek and pond.

I caught a glimpse of our father Duck  in the creek,  but he zipped by too fast downstream so I couldn’t get a  picture of him.

But here’s that  “little” tree getting carried away:

A 25 foot tree washing away 380

When I was out there this morning,  I was able to get a lot of  branches out of the pond.  The higher water level in the pond made it easier for the branches to float to the edge where I could  fish them out.

As I worked back there,  I heard something walking through the woods,  probably a deer.  It had to be something heavy because sometimes a very big branch would snap, like being stepped on.  I could even hear footsteps every once in a while,  then a branch or a twig would snap and then . . .  nothing.   For a while.     Then more footsteps.

Great fun when you have a good imagination!  I imagined myself being stalked.   Maybe by a rogue deer,  the dangerous kind, because a rogue has no pregnant doe or harem to protect,  but he still has the urge to stalk around and search for enemies!   (My classes, take note:   a rogue deer is like the young “unattached”  young men hired by  Jephthah and by Abimelech, unpredictable  lone wolves,  needing a leader. )

A Stalk 1 370

I looked for a long time into the woods,  but could only see shadows that didn’t move.

A Stalk 2 370

Nothing.   But the occasional   twigs breaking and footsteps  were still there.

That was fun;   waiting for a tree to crash into my house is not fun.    It wouldn’t be the first time.      I still remember the sound,  the feeling,  the shock of a large tree crashing into the back of our house – and that happened when professionals were taking down a tree on purpose.   (They had underestimated its height.)

I’m not sleeping on that side of the house tonight.




Dear Johnny Cash,   I know what you mean:
We can make it to the road in a homemade boat
That’s the only thing we got left that’ll float
It’s already over all the wheat and oats,
Two feet high and risin’

How high’s the water, mama?
Three feet high and risin’
How high’s the water, papa?
She said it’s three feet high and risin’

Well, the hives are gone,
I lost my bees
The chickens are sleepin’
In the willow trees
Cow’s in water up past her knees,
Three feet high and risin’

How high’s the water, mama?
Four feet high and risin’
How high’s the water, papa?
She said it’s four feet high and risin’

Hey, come look through the window pane,
The bus is coin’, gonna take us to the train
Looks like we’ll be blessed with a little more rain,
Four feet high and risin’

How high’s the water, mama?
Five feet high and risin’
How high’s the water, papa?
She said it’s five feet high and risin’

Well the rails are washed out north of town
We gotta head for higher ground
We can’t come back till the water goes down,
Five feet high and risin’


April 5, 2017


(1),    (2) ,   (3)   points.


(1)   It happened again :

Sunrise 2 cr best

A red sky this morning.     (Sailors take warning.)     This time the colors were even deeper and richer than before.    I ran from window to window this morning trying to get into my camera that  shade of deep reddish-salmon-orange that I was seeing in the sky.

I couldn’t.        Fifteen pictures later, I was still frustrated.

Sunrise 3 cr new

And as the sun was rising,  I was losing the color.

Sunrise 1 cr

I had two choices:  either run out and grab my friend from out of his wife’s bed  because he knows a lot about photography and promised to teach me sometime;  or instantly learn how to use oil paints,  because only a pallet  of oranges, pinks, reds, and yellows could duplicate the color I was seeing.

Two choices which were no choices;    so I just  watched the Nature Show of salmon,  orange,   pink, and yellow,  then finally pale blue.   As I watched, I settled down and my mind began reprising the pathways it had taken during the night.

(“Sailors take warning . . .”)

(2)    The night before,  just before I had  called it a day, I’d been reading up  on Pope Gregory XVI,  perhaps a rather obscure pope today,  but he aroused some controversy in his day,  not too long ago,  in the 19th century, and gives us something to think about today.

greg xvi

He wrote some interesting and valuable documents, among them an encyclical putting forth in clear terms  the Church’s opposition  against slavery,  a  teaching which had long been proclaimed by the Church,   but needed reinforcement.

However,  even though he  produced some valuable and helpful documents,    he was personally and deeply suspicious of the consequences of  what we now would call the technological and industrial revolution.   He opposed the growing socialist movement which reduces people to  “economic units,”   under the management (control) of a central state government.    He saw this as the depersonalization of the individual, individuals becoming “the masses”  which the revolutionary socialist movement is  there to provide for.    (Move over,  God.)

Technology,  this pope believed,   would only hasten this development, as  families are torn  from their land ownership and  migrate into industrial cities where the artificial societies were  generally harmful to the dignity and well-being of human beings.

Curiously (to our ears)  he pointed out that . . .

DESK and gas lamp

. . .   gas lamps  (indoor artificial lighting)  would be ultimately harmful to the health of people,  interrupting their daily rhythms, allowing industrialists to extract longer hours   from the “workers.”   He also spoke out against  locomotives, for the same reason:  disruption of human society,  harmful to health;   dirty, polluting  machines  that create an artificial sense of human travel and again,  tear apart families.



(3)       Next,     (Sailors take warning . . . )     I woke up to  the big radio station out of  Detroit in which  the host was discussing with guests the current threats from North Korea.     It was a good, thoughtful discussion,  but the host then said that the biggest threat from North Korea’s isn’t that   one of their nuclear bombs would  go off – boom –  in the middle of our country,  but rather that they would (or someone else would)  explode a big one in the atmosphere,  near our coastline,  causing a destructive EMP which would wipe out all our modern technology,  putting  us right back into the 19th century,  perhaps like the days of Pope Gregory XVI.

Although that sometimes seems like a quaint,  charming,  more clean and pure society before all our technology,   the hard truth is that  no one today knows how to live as they did in the 19th century.   (Our government has projected that 90% of our population would die within the first year.)

And then I opened my eyes to that  beautiful  salmon-red sky.

And so  there is a  (4).

Duck creating a wak 1

Our springtime Drake has put his lady-wife somewhere, haven’t seen her for a week; she’s probably in a protected nest nearby.   He likes to sail down our creek at a high rate of speed and he likes to swim across our pond, leaving a definite wake behind.

I’m sure he saw the beautiful sunrise this morning, and I’m just as sure he was oblivious to the beauty.    But though he misses out on the ability of humans to appreciate such beauty,  if – and when –  the EMP or something takes us back into a pre-industrial age,  he would miss out on the resulting chaos – and death.

Duck Wake 2

After such a horrific event,  he may feel some “disturbance,”  but he would be off, as usual,  to visit the nest or find some food or check for any enemies or take a drink of water . . .  In other words,  life for him would go on as normal,   just as it did for human societies after  the Carrington Event.


1859,  right?    Just after Pope Gregory XVI.    A few technological difficulties,  but life went on and few knew what the sun had just done to us.

Today?   We are,  unlike my springtime Drake,  we are “sitting ducks.”   Dependent upon ever newer and more fragile technology that is dangled before us like a snake charmer using his wiles.

(You do know what the “Watchers”  brought down to humanity according to the Book of Enoch?)

   —  Of course I’m a Luddite (at heart) !







March 13, 2017

(Fetching:  going out to get something and bringing it in)

Been “disabled for a few days” – so no posting here.   It all began one “Dark and Stormy Night”  last week,  Tuesday,  about midnight.   The only light came from above my desk where  I had all my books and notebooks  spread out,  studying and writing,  when all of a sudden I heard a big   noise in the basement  (I thought).

Something – big – had shifted or collapsed  in the basement –  and I didn’t want to go down there to see what had collapsed,  or what critter had caused it!

But the next morning,  I glanced out the window and saw this:

PO 1 Tree in pond 390

I didn’t use the panorama mode in my camera,  so that’s only a portion of the approximately 60-foot tree that had fallen into my backyard pond.      It had been dead for a while,  and Son had picked it out as one he’d have to take down soon.

Our big wind storm here in the Far North took care of that!        And the ducks enjoyed the new feature in their pond,  trying out  various positions on the floating tree.

PO 2 ducks on 380

The wind continued, and after more 60 m.p.h. wind gusts,  the power line and telephone poles around here came down too.   Temperatures fell,  and “mister”  gently corralled his lady-wife into a sheltered little cove:

PO 3.5 Cuddle ducks 370

The lady fluffed up her feathers and slept for a couple hours,  with mister watching over her.     (I think we’ll be seeing some duck eggs soon.)

RECORDER   I went off to play recorderat my friend’s house while her lamps “browned out” once in a while.       And Son  texted me that the power had gone completely out at my house –  and to be careful driving home because things were flying all over on the roads.

pinned under

I arrived home to find a happy,  busy Son pulling the tree out of the water.  I helped – and although I’m usually not clumsy,  as I was pulling on my end of the tree,  my feet slipped in the muddy bank just as the tree pivoted over me and I got pinned under the top of the tree.  The narrow end,  only about two inches in diameter,  but I couldn’t extricate my legs by myself!    Kind of a creepy feeling.

We got  me and tree out onto the grass and son got busy with the chainsaw :

PO 7 Son w chainsaw 380

As the house cooled down,  I got my revenge on that tree –

PO 6 burning that tree

We burned those round logs that had pinned me down that day!

And there began a few days of “fetching.”

Fetching firewood periodically as the temperatures plunged to 12,  15,  17 degrees.

Fetching water from the creek for certain  “necessities”   in the bathroom.

Fetching gasoline for the generator which we kept running to protect the refrigerator and the freezer,  light one lamp for the evening,  although we had a beautiful source of light on the table for the nights:

PO 5 beautiful night lamp

Light was always necessary because we lived among cables connected to the generator for a few days:

PO 4 cords

We were “ugly,”  inconvenienced,   and unclean for those four days,  but eventually power came back on and it didn’t take long to  get all the mud off the floors (from all our “fetching trips, in and out  of the muddy backyard),  clean the grime,   and put things back in their proper places.

And the heat from the furnace  feels so good!   And a warm shower feels so good!   And bright lights at night is so good!

And freedom from all the hours spent  just fetching!!     So good!

See,  I did okay during this power outage –   I’d be a good Luddite.

But I’ve experienced “modern technology” –   and it can feel   so good!!

LDY pc














March 5, 2017

I woke up one day this week to this:


Thin ice!   We had thick ice earlier this winter,  a little bit of ice skating was possible,  but then we had a thaw . . .  and  then a slight re-freezing.     A little later that day the cold continued and the ice had completely closed up over the water.

But it was still thin ice.    I looked at it often that day and thought about that “one last heartbeat”   between us being alive – and then we’re dead.   A very thin boundary it seems between us and our final destiny:   “up,”  as we say,  or “down.”

Some of us, the Bible says,  will have to “pass through the fire” ;   the things we have done here in this life will be tried and tested , and the worthless things burned up out of us,  before we can go “up.”   .*

It is with a kind of wry  humor that I’m reminded of this every time I go to Mass or to class,  because I have to pass through the smoke    . . .  of burning heat below my feet!


The city steam  pipes below the sidewalk are vented right near the entrance to our church!

In our art work, down through the centuries,  painters have shown  that the location of Purgatory is right below us,  right below the altar during a Mass;  so how funny that the smoke of Purgatory seems to be vented right nearby!



And someone in the city decided that this would be a good opportunity for the children to display some artwork   . . .



Except I don’t think they called upon young painters who understand much about the Four Last Things:  Death. Judgment.  Heaven.  Hell.


Yeah,  maybe bad language is one of those things that will need to be “tried by fire” –  the hay, straw, stubble of their lives.

I thought it was  ironically funny,   but someone must have complained,  because one day I walked by and the steampipe was rather plain:


The “pipe of purgatory”  had been “purged.”

One can find humor anywhere, I think,  as long as we take care of the major things,  have it all settled between us and God,  all, all, all settled;  and then do the right things.  Then you’re so free to enjoy life as it comes to you — and to see the love and joy and humor all around.

It’s soon becoming Sunday here in the Far North,  so I’ll leave you with one last picture that shows how   this all  works together.


God the Creator,  Our Father, started it all;  the Son sacrificed His life for us,  which is made present to us at every Mass;   and every Mass touches Eternity and all the angels and saints in  Eternity.

And the souls in Purgatory,  beneath the altar,  are being made ready.




. *  Found in:  I Corinthians 3:11-15    –    (A life of  …  gold, silver, precious stones?  Or  wood, hay, stubble:)      [13] Every man’ s work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every         man’ s work, of what sort it is. [14] If any man’ s work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. [15] If any man’ s work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire. 




“Up” is unimaginable, indescribable good things that God has prepared for us;   and down is the pain of forever being “out.”    As I wrote  before,  intense pain,  like a physical pain, like a fire.

And it’s also one heartbeat below us,  waiting for us.




November 14, 2016

We’ve had the election.  Things are “shaking out,”  and people are busy discussing the various issues with more or less effectiveness . .  .  They can do it;  I turn away.

It’s Fall here around the Spruce Tunnel.   I have a sweet little fountain in my pond (floating among the leaves) :


It’s bubbling away  in the sunlight because it’s a solar powered fountain.   It’s not often that the sunlight falls on it,  so it’s fun to watch it when it comes alive — in its small, gentle way.

And we have a “big”  fountain too,  (floating among the leaves)  which sprays up streams of water, 24/7,  powered by coal,  I suppose,  from our power company.



It’s especially nice in the dark of night because it has its own lights and that’s the only thing you can see out in my back yard.


So that’s my leaf-covered Fall.

Pardon me while I go rake my pond.






August 8, 2016

(Oh, my;  has it been a week?   A very dismaying week;  fruitful for my mind,  but not for my writing. )

This photo doesn’t match “the Times.”


So many dire and dismaying news stories this week, all wrapped in a packet of lies  within lies  within lies.   “News” stories are made up;    fabricated as an author would think up an interesting or controversial story-line, and then presented as though true;    and then argued about, debated about,  and tsk,tsk,tsk –  until  the controversy itself “proves” the lie.

It produces a Turmoil in the mind.     These days are difficult for us;   “rugged times,”  as John Jay wrote a couple hundred years ago.   He wrote about all the “sensations” that intrude into our minds.

He was born two hundred years before I was,  but yet he describes the process as we can perfectly  witness it  today:

“In such Rugged Times as these, other sensations are to be cherished.   Rural scenes, domestic bliss, and the charming group of pleasures found in the Train of Peace — all fly (away) at the approach of war; and are seldom to be found in fields stained with Blood, or in habitations polluted by outrage and desolation.”     (John Jay to Robert Livingston,  as war and revolution approached.)

What is he telling us?     That there are two opposing sets of “sensations”:      Rugged Times versus the Train of Peace.         “Train of Peace” may be an old-fashioned and poetic way of stating it,  but we’re not so stupid that we can’t understand – and deeply feel – what he means by that phrase.

Rural scenes, with all their charm and tranquility.   The photo above is looking out from my back window.

Such scenes provide a “charming group of pleasures . . .”


A morning sun ascends onto (the possibility of)  domestic bliss, promising a “Train of Peace.”


Morning Sun

John Jay and others eventually wrote that this country is to provide for the Pursuit of Happiness.    This is a state of affairs that allows men to pursue their dreams,  to see the fruit of their labor,   and to rest in a state of confidence and peace,  that if they work hard at a goal,  it may be attainable.

Opposing this is a tyrannical government that decides things for us.  Big Brother.  A  powerful State.   Laws, rules, regulations that put us into submission to the State.    We live by permits and licenses – and by “staying under the radar.”    We must believe their publications.  We agree to be entertained by their “entertainment-news media”   which is the source of the “pollution” that John Jay made reference to.   Facts polluted with  deception and lies.

And if we see behind the outright lies,   when we admit the many “outrages,”    and we witness the “desolation” of our country,   our peace “flies” away at the “approach of war” and our “pleasures” are fleeting indeed.

This “war” that approaches must be fought.   Don’t think of war as  physical altercation with physical weapons.

War is the deliberate opposition of one side to the other.    It means paying attention;  choosing a side;   standing up;  confronting the enemy (if it insists upon being an enemy);   choosing a method of opposition best suited to your abilities;    and getting busy to do the actual fighting.

I fear huffing and puffing and tsk-tsk-tsk-ing will get us nowhere.

Kronos on an urn

Kronos eats his children


Lies being told to conceal the identity of an enemy who has declared war against us and to lead us to believe that we somehow deserve the attacks are a kind of mental pollution,  not worthy to be taken seriously.

Lies that are being told to protect the one political candidate and to attack the other political candidate are not really worthy subjects for our entertainment  while we experience the “approach of war.”  (John Jay) .    Lies waste our time.

And the one thing that Time does is . . .  pass.

And we may still have time for these Rugged Times to produce great minds,  great men of truth and of valor.    These Rugged Times may be our awakening  that America is a real concept and that the United States is worth saving .     We may yet learn and understand the wisdom of our Founding Fathers.       We may yet find the strength to do our part with determination.

“These Rugged Times”    are our times too.




June 15, 2016

Robin angry birds

I like playing the game.  No big deal,  but it’s a fun way to pass some time – if you’ve got some time you want to have passed away from you.

But it’s NOT fun living inside an Angry Birds screen.     The birds around here are crazy –  and think they own the place, it would seem.

Two evenings ago, I decided to take my evening reading out to the deck and enjoy a cool summer evening overlooking my backyard pond, as the low sun shone on it.


I opened the door and walked out — to a flurry of heavy wings and angry quacks.   I had disturbed the ducks who were also enjoying the evening along the banks of the pond.  They were not happy with me.

I’ve already given up my front porch this summer – to Mother Robin.

Robin angry bird

Last year it was Mother Cardinal,  this year it’s a robin who packed my porch light tight full with stuff.     It’s a  G R E A T  disturbance whenever I walk out the front door.  I do feel a bit guilty.    I’ve been pregnant.   I know what it’s like to  be disturbed once you’ve found a comfortable seat to relax in.

robin angry watching

Mother flies off in a “huff”  or what sounds like a bird huff, and sits on the grass nearby,  “barking”  at me in robin-speak.  It could be kind of cute, but the longer I stay outside  (like planting flowers, doing a little weeding. . . )  the more it gets annoying.

Which is, I suppose, her intention.

I leave.   She goes back to my porch light.

It’s always been like this –  Birds First.        I remember one time I went out on my back deck to just . . .  well, to actually pray for a brief moment out there.  My eyes were closed, when suddenly I felt a Presence – at my cheekbone.    And I heard an intermittent, loud buzzing.   When I slowly opened my eyes,  I saw a blurring motion right at the tip of my nose.  It was a curious hummingbird, looking for a landing, I think.  Or maybe I had just had some orange juice.

But too close for comfort!     My nose is close to my eyeballs!   I wrote about it in a post called Fawn Fun, here….

Back door.  Front door.  It’s enough to make one stay indoors for the Duration.

And to make one remember from whom the birds descended:

bird dino





June 7, 2016

This must be Sissy Weather –

Sissy Pond

See any goldfish in there?     Nope.

I have more than three dozen so far this year, and they’ve all disappeared because it got a little chilly out there.   The big sissies.   They’ve been gone all day.

For my part,  I’ve been enjoying the cool winds all day.   I kept the windows open today, in 62 degree temperatures, so now my house is . . .  about 62 degrees inside.   It’s going to get down to the low 50s tonight – and I’m NOT turning on my furnace.    Quilts,   hot tea, and a stack of books are what cold houses are for!

We’ll see.

Sisssy herbs

The Weather Channel has not announced our three or four spells of “unseasonably:  cold weather this Spring  –  temperatures   “way below average.”    (They do, however,  enthusiastically announce wherever the temperatures are warmer than average.  Must be that that “climate change” is going in only one direction.)

I’ve been much more active in this cool weather.

I’m just getting started on my herb garden,  and I promised myself I’d take a year or two off of tomato growing.  Maybe the Great Midwestern Tomato Blight will be done by then.    I live around enough Amish farmers to make a trip to the Farmer’s Market a  better alternative.


All of my neighbors are busy trying to keep up with late Spring yard chores, so that the summer’s growth doesn’t become overwhelming.    Like these pretty flowers surrounding St. Joseph –

sissy invasion

I didn’t plant those flowers.    Every day they seem to get bigger and thicker.   Turns out they are an “invasive species”  and they are efficiently invading my space.   So rather than “growing” things  this year,  my summer will be busy “ungrowing”  things.

Sometimes we need to  stop growing things,  to “ungrow,”  to cut back, to weed out — oh, I think I’m talking other things:  my books,  my extra possessions that are “extra”  for no particular purpose,   all my photos,   and all the photos on my computer desktop waiting to be used . . .

I’ve just taken a kind of interlude from more serious issues.    I need the courage and prudence to say things in just the right way,  because our civilization is at stake.   It’s so easy to let it go,   to make no remarks,   for “good people to do nothing,”  —  to be a big Sissy.

Sissy white pond

Well.      That’s not our gray sky through the trees.   That’s still looking down at the pond, at the empty pond;  still nobody there.

The big sissies.


April 21, 2016

Springtime in the Far North – finally –  and with it comes some annual chores:


Kind of a messy overview of my annual spring task,  which is to add some kind of blue dye to the water to prevent an overgrowth of algae —  which uses up the oxygen that the fish need.   The dye prevents some of the  sunlight from penetrating the water, thus preventing the overgrowth growth of plants that shouldn’t be there.

I always worry about putting the dye into the home of the goldfish.   I know it mixes in after a while, and dilutes itself,   but I didn’t want to dump the dye onto the goldfish.       Little critters saw me at the edge of the pond and kept following me,  though.

It takes a while for the dye to spread out into the pond.    That’s not “sky,”  that’s just the reflection of the trees in the different colors.


But then the pond becomes a beautiful blue in the sunlight:



Blotchy blue at first,  then a nice Caribbean blue:



Blue  +  gold = green?    Every year I fear I’m going to change the color of the goldfish.   But it never happens.   They just swim around looking like exotic tropical fish in their  newly “decorated”  habitat:


They’re doing fine.

Deo gratias.

And thanks also for  this backyard pond which produces a sense of natural serenity for us here.

I’m the caretaker; the pond can be a lot of work,  but I don’t mind.


April 10, 2016

Here it is,  here is what I woke up to a day or two ago:


You can just about make out the small disk of the sun.      The early morning pale far-northern early spring sun, reflecting in the pond.

My pond.   For which I am so grateful and full of thanksgiving that God worked my life out this way,  and that there is such beauty to see.

I’m going to miss this world.

bar dissolve er

That “pale sun” haunted me all day.   I moved my books and my studying to the window that overlooks the pond,  but I was very distracted from my work.

So, my work paled too.   All the important things I thought I had to accomplish.

They say the beauty of Heaven is so overwhelmingly and satisfyingly beautiful that we will not miss the beauty of this earth.

So,  I’m working on understanding that.

bar dissolve er

Sludge –  I’m held down by sludge.    Prepare for a “data dump”  this week.   I’m getting rid of all the intangible thoughts that are weighing me down,  all the things that caught my attention,  all the photos that illustrate what had held my attention, for a while;  it just feels like something I have to do.      To free up my thinking.

Here’s the Lesson.   You can’t think “Up”  when you have so many distractions keeping you “down.”     What is it that I really care about?

Remember the old Annette Funicello  Walt Disney series called “Follow Your Heart“?  (The Horsemasters.)  annette side

Annette played a kind of city girl who loved to ride horses,  but when she went to an equestrian camp and took lessons with a friend,  she found that she didn’t have the courage to jump over the fences.

Try as she might,  she could only gallop up to the fence, and then to our great disappointment,  she just couldn’t complete the jump.    We were all cheering her on.    It was a Walt Disney production.  Surely she will overcome her fears in  the end!

Well,  her best friend finally thought of something.

She said, “You know you love to ride,  you know you’d love to jump over that fence.   Next time, as you approach that fence,  just throw your heart over that fence first, and follow your heart.”

And of course, it worked.

Where is my heart?

What you love you will treasure.    And Jesus told us “Where your treasure is,  there will your heart be also.”

With your treasure in front of you,  everything else on the side,  everything else behind you,  will seem very pale.   Even a sun.   Even the whole world.

A passing, pale world is not worth the price of one human heart and soul.     That’s what my pond with the pale sun taught me.


January 26, 2016

Well, the last posting about “a walk in the park” was very nice —  well,  a reversal —  But — a private matter.  Private,  I guess, until God reveals all things on Judgment Day   —  but  perhaps things will “fixed”  by then. . . .

But let’s stay with the cold outdoors here in the Far North.   Another outdoors story.


January 26th, last night or early this morning,  was the full moon,  the one that is called the Wolf Moon.   The  wolves are heard, ever closer to human habitation as they search for food that is getting scarcer in the deep winter.

If you’ve ever been outside, out in the open,  in the dark,  and have heard wolves howling,  you will have experienced some kind of primeval sense of fear and mortal danger.  Even if you know their cries can be heard from miles away,  you still have that sense of vulnerability.

On this planet,  humans are not so high up on the food chain.   There are far more skillful and efficient predators out there, looking for dinner.

My goodness.  What can I write next?   Where do I go from here?

This weekend, after I came home from that walk in the Spruce Tunnel,  feeling pretty happy, I  did my work,  did my duties,   then came to the family room in the evening to relax.


This was the almost-full moon I saw out my window.   Not quite “wolfy,” I guess.   Just rather lovely.

20 degrees for five days:

Well, that’s the rule for forming strong ice.   I was heading for the fireplace,  but outside in my backyard —  the “klieg” lights came on!


Time for a little hockey!


Bang!   Slam!   S l i  i  i  d e !   Crack !!!       Ahhhh, the sounds of civilization!

You might notice that blue blur near one of the players feet.

Here it is again:


That’s the new high-tech LED hockey puck – made for playing in the dark!   Hard to track with a camera, though.


This was a multi-sensory experience.  Not only were there the loud sharp sudden sounds of a normal hockey game,  and the clean, crisp, cold air of the night,  there was the colorful blur going back and forth across the ice rink.

I love seeing my pond in use.   I love having my neighbor pop in with news and updates.  I love seeing that there is a good world out there, outside my window.

Because.    Wolves are real.   (I’m still unsettled from this weekend.)    Usually  it’s Bear that is my metaphor for the sudden unexpected attack of evil things in  life.   Once it really happened to me in the woods;  and from then on — it   c o u l d happen again;  maybe not with real bear,  but with something just as bad.

It can come all of a sudden, right while you’re feeling safe and okay.

We’re only humans.   We’re vulnerable.   We’re very weak.   We can’t make it alone without Supernatural help from above.

God is stronger.   If we are humble,  He’ll get us through.

Deo gratias.



Push Back: N-N-OOOOOO-OH!

April 14, 2015


They’re pretty:

pod lily

But that big fat  No!  up there in the title was Hubbie’s response to my plea for adding “just a few”  lily pads to our pond.     That kind of  “no”  was a total push back to the idea of lily pads in our pond,   pretty flowers or not.

I didn’t want to start this week’s Spruce Tunnel’s musings about push back, so I took some early morning photos of the pond today,  just to delay . . .

SAMSUNGSome of those “algae pads”  look like lily pads,  and there were some reddish brown leaves that had landed here and there, almost looking like flowers on the pads.

SAMSUNGClosing in on one area, I was delighted to see the first big goldfish of the season.    It was actually quite reddish, a sign of good health,  good nutrition…. or, in other words lots of algae and junk to eat —  which reminded me of a big problem.   The pond takes a lot of work to keep clean and debris free.  Too much algae is not a good sign.

And although that “No!”  resounds down through the years,  Hubbie was right.   Lily pads multiply like crazy and it would have been a constant chore – another pond chore — to keep them in the one tiny little corner that I had envisioned.

The fish were having a great time swimming fast from one “algae pad” to another.

SAMSUNGSo,  I’m glad now there was that big “push-back”  to my plans for turning “just a tiny part”  of our pond into a lily pad field.    It’s saved me a lot of   hard work, undoing a bad decision.

Even though I had planned to delay starting this week’s hard writing about some necessary push backs.   I guess my pond photos are leading me right into it.   Some push backs are necessary.

pod lily no

There are NO lily pads like these within 50 miles from my pond!     (probably)



January 20, 2015


Here is a beautiful sight which greeted me yesterday morning –

Just like those beautiful night visions I photographed (a few blog posts ago),  this one held me there for a while, until I remembered my camera, so I could get myself unstuck from the window.   This is my backyard pond, and it looked like a shining lake that winter morning, reflecting the sunrise colors.

The funny thing is,  I had just taken a photo of that pond in the previous afternoon:


It was looking well-used, and it made me happy to see all those ice skate tracks on the surface.  My neighbor said afterwards,  yeah, it’s getting time to zamboni it again.  Not exactly his words, but I’m so glad that he and his sons can make good use of my pond in the winter.

It’s a connection.  A neighborly connection.

creek overflow    Some day the pond may not look like that.  Things will change  because every spring, if there is a lot of sudden snowmelt, part of the creek bank and even the side of the pond washes away.    Great clumps of dirt are removed, by Mother Nature,   ( great clods of dirt)  .    Things change, but I’m sure that connection with my neighbor will always be there.

This was supposed to be a happy chirpy little posting,   but the day turned rather melancholy.  I received word that a man in one of my classes, a man who has been coming for several years now,  has become suddenly very ill — and now we know why he didn’t return to us this year after the holidays.   He is unable to answer emails and voicemails.  And he is somewhere out of state,  and we don’t know where.

Then, a friend came to visit with me today — 


We hadn’t seen each other for a long time, but we’re still connected by our friendship,  so we had a lot of catching up to do.  For a time, she sobbed as she told me of the loss of a good friend, how it happened,  her role in it.   I understood.   I’ve lost four who were very close and dear to me in these past four years.

Like the clods of dirt on the side of my pond and creek,  parts  of us wash away as we live on this earth.   It matters.  It affects us.  Because we’re connected.    Because we’re human beings, capable of love and affection.   Because we were made by a God Who is Love, and He acts and creates out of His love.

This was not an easy thing for me to come to believe.  My childhood was filled with fears, tears, loneliness and emotional pain, to a degree that almost drove me mad.   It was startling to learn that, above it all,  we are   supposed to   feel connected and these connections are precious.  I didn’t believe it.

When we had to learn the Englishman John Donne’s “poem”  For Whom The Bell Tolls,  at 14 years old  I angrily wrote a rebuttal, in verse.   His poem starts out  “No man is an island…”  and my rebuttal began “Every man is an island.”   I believed I had stated my case well.

Now, at my age,  the emotional pressure is finally off of me…  and I can begin to believe that the connections we have with others is a very precious aspect of our natural lives.  And that’s why it’s painful to see the “clods” wash away, a little at a time,  which is also natural.

John Donne didn’t mean this to be a poem,  he meant it to be a meditation after he heard the town church toll out the bells for someone who had just died.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

Such beauty we can enjoy!  Like my pond in the soft morning sunrise.   But always, we must wonder, who will be the next clod to be washed away by the sea?      What connections will be “lost”?       (That is the meaning of the black bear on my tea table;  bear, never far from me;  symbol of the hidden dangers that suddenly rush out at us.)

Life here is not intended to be permanent.

A better life is intended for us.

Deo gratias.


June 24, 2014

This is another “random observation”  from near The Spruce Tunnel.


I woke up one morning, looked out the window, and saw this little creature.

We have quite a few of these around here.   I guess there’s plenty to eat in our back yard, around the pond.

I know they’re supposed to fly around and land on cool …  weeds and things.   Cool and wet.  They’re not supposed to dry themselves out on hot sunny windows.

I kept coming back to him.  We had a lot of dragonflies that day.   Every time I got the camera ready,  they’d flit away.   But this one was still there.   He turned his head once,  but he stayed there in the dry heat, stuck to the window.


I listened to the television news for a while.   The news was bad and was getting worse.  I thought, this news is giving me the same sense of discomfort as the poor stuck dragonfly.  I know things are getting bad, but I don’t know what to do about it.

Sometimes I’m almost afraid to look –

Garden Stripes for fawn

That’s a photo of a familiar corner of my garden.    The low but bright afternoon sun is casting “stripes” through the tree trunks.   I took the picture because of the contrast between light and dark,  but when I looked at the photo, I noticed something else.

Something else that didn’t happen.

See the dark shadows surrounding the garden?   Last week,  Son was mowing the lawn – with our push mower.   He walked around the right-hand side of that little garden area to throw some branches away, but he noticed a small animal in the bushes.  Not a squirrel, not a little dog,  but a very small fawn.  He said he’s never seen one that small.    We were glad he hadn’t used the noisy power mower.

You could study deer sociology, if you wanted to, back there.   Families,  mating behavior,  lone bucks, does, rogues, twins and triplet births, eating habits, playtime, etc.,   but you don’t think of a fawn that small, all alone.   I told Son that perhaps Mama was nearby, watching him, ready to defend.   Yeah, that’s what he thought too.

But that’s what we both hoped.    I tried to watch out my window more often for signs of Mama.   There was a big thunderstorm that night, followed by a few days of scorching heat.

The fact that I didn’t follow up (on the story),   that is, I never did see Mama,   doesn’t mean anything bad happened to the baby.

But, you know —   I just never looked.  I’ve not yet gone back around the little garden area…to look.

Just like with the dragonfly on my window all day,  I wouldn’t have known what to do.



Just keeping a small watch on my character.


March 2, 2014

An approach to the Tunnel:


The Spruce Tunnel is a safe place for seemingly random but interconnected thoughts.   It’s a good place to think out loud and observe what comes up; to “see” what you already knew.


I was looking at my frozen backyard pond which is now a well-used and well-appreciated neighborhood ice rink.

I was thinking about all the things that happen when water meets freezing cold temperatures,  and the results can be a little “complicated,” offering the possibility of fun or danger  but it all starts with ice, and you need the freezing temperature and you need the water.    Together.

If you begin a “great divorce” between cold and water,  you end up with slush which is no safe place to skate!

I wasn’t wearing my ice skates, so my mind drifted off into my main task this week:  serious study, on my part, to prepare for a new topic in my classes.   We begin the book of Genesis.  I’ve taught this book before, several times,  but I’ve learned so much from continuing studies  and just from life experiences that no new class about Genesis is quite like the one before.   The “teacher” is a little nicked and sliced up now, just like that surface of the ice rink.

But teaching the book of Genesis is more than knowing the material.  It’s also knowing the people in the class, knowing where they’re coming from,  knowing what they face in today’s blatantly anti-Christian culture; and although that culture is artificial,  unsubstantiated by reason, and temporary, it still sends out some pretty strong attacks.

There is an exaggerated point of view on one side which invites ridicule and mockery from the other side. The actual truth is caught in the middle. And so I took comfort in thinking about my frozen pond, because just as the ice is there, a combination of cold and water, there is Truth there in Genesis, and we arrive at that Truth by holding in our hands, in our minds, together,  our faith and our reason.

We humans have been gifted with all the faculties of our reasoning powers and we’ve been gifted with the grace of Faith.    One doesn’t shut off one to gain more of the other.   There is no “great divorce” here because they are not in conflict with each other – any more than we can say freezing cold and water conflict with each other.

What you get when you have both together is a solid foundation.