Archive for the ‘Cooper’ category

FOR COOPER’S EYES

October 5, 2016

(Okay, a brief break from hurricane news . . .  ) 

Dear Cooper,  here are some pictures of the trucks and the men who came to work on my driveway.   Wish you could have been here!

Here is my bad driveway:

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I don’t know what this guy is called, but he’s  coming!

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Cutting into my driveway:

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The shovel thing on the big truck scooped up the pieces:

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And then it dumped it into the dump truck:

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Lots of things in Grandma’s driveway — and they were noisy!

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Lots of men working too!

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This man got to walk on the hot, soft driveway with special shoes to pack it down smooth.

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This man got to use fire to burn the new asphalt into the old asphalt on the street so  the old and the new would blend together and make a smooth seam,

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Little car, big truck.   Grandma’s car was trapped by big trucks all day:

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Where’s my nice new driveway?     What does it look like?

Well, it rained.    I have to take a picture of it tomorrow, and then I will put the picture on a CD-Rom and send it and more pictures to you.

So check your mail in a few days!!!!

 

Bye!

 

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ALLIGATOR SEASON

August 23, 2016

It’s that time of the year!!!

Football

Football season!!   I know it’s pre-season,  but it’s not “just” pre-season;  it’s “you get to watch your favorite team many  times and see who all the second and third string players are and who can be a back-up for your favorite players”  season!

You really get a chance to see players on your team who you’ll probably seldom even hear of again – if you’re lucky,  because if you don’t hear much  about these “new” players,  it means your first string is all right.

Besides.   No pressure.   No season rankings.  Just plain, pure football playing.

So,  time for football to begin!!   And time to take out the knitting needles again!

ALLIGATOR 400 Football

Five-year-olds love alligators.

Last year Grandson Cooper got a bear in the woods with big pine trees,  just like where he lives in the High Sierras:

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But this time he knows he’s going to get that alligator — and he’s excited,  so I have to deliver.

I know,  the world seems to be in such serious trouble,  about to “break” – so how could we be thinking of football?

I could get all philosophical about the importance of recreation . . .   The saints caution us against too much frivolity.  But they also warn us against too much seriousness and tell us that a little fun and recreation spice up our lives and keep us from getting all tied up in knots.

The story goes that there was a young monk who was playing some sort of ball game, and a man looked on with surprise at the young man’s obvious involvement in the fun.  “You’re a monk!   What if you knew Jesus should come to take your soul right now and find you playing games?!”

The young monk replied, “If I knew that,  I would continue on playing because this is the hour designated for my recreation – and Jesus would find me doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing.”

There are many variations on that story,  but it shows us an important point.   Do what you are supposed to be doing, right now,  in the manner in which it should be done,  for as long as it should be done, before you go on to the next thing that you should be doing, according to your station in life.

Just focus on your duty.  That ought to eliminate a lot of stress in life.

Meanwhile,  I’ll worry about not dropping stitches and getting the pattern just right – and I’ll worry about not dropping passes and working through those patterns . . .

Oh, well.

My team is, of course,  the

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BEING A BEIGNET

July 23, 2016

I’ll try not to be too philosophical here.   The food deserves to speak for itself.

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THAT is a beignet.    Delicious, one of a kind taste.    A French deep fried pastry with an interesting, though quite mild, flavor.   I had never had one until I followed Hiawatha to his home country this past week.

There in the Far Far North was a genuine Cajun restaurant,  with a chef actually from New Orleans!       Unfortunately – and unfortunately for the beignet – his restaurant,  The Lagniappe,  didn’t open until 11:00 a.m.  on the day I was supposed to leave.  I hung around and delayed my journey home until I could get an order of beignets and of jambalaya to take home with me.

The beignets didn’t quite make it.  Oh, the one I had as I started off was wonderful!   Warm,  light,  fluffy,  airy,  and oh, so tasty!     But then I had to drive some more.   Hours later,  the first bite into the second beignet was cool and chewy,  not quite . . .   good.

Home again,  I had an idea:

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Now it was warm again,  that unique flavor came through, but it just wasn’t the same.  The texture had been lost.     (Which is not to say I couldn’t overlook that!)

How perfect is the beignet at its right time and place:   immediate, in its “present moment,”  and close to its origins,  I’d say about ten feet away from the chef’s  deep fryer.

Its delicate existence has a perfect place and a perfect timing;  like the snowflake in winter that landed on your jacket and you run in the house to show your Mom – and it lasts about 7 seconds;    like the beignet,  about 7 minutes;  like a man,  whose common given lifespan is 70 years.

But I said I wouldn’t get philosophical . . . .

 

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The jambalaya was heartier.    I make good jamabalya so I wanted to taste the recipe of a master(new Orleans)  chef.    That’s his.    At home,  I took it off my red plate and doctored it up a bit.    I like more cooked tomato, more celery and green pepper.    And I added the rich flavor of filet gumbo!

I took what someone made –  and I made it better,  tailor-made to suit my tastes.      You take what is handed to you,  not passively,  not as a victim,   and you add some creativity and individuality.

But I said I wouldn’t get philosophical . . . .

 

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I visited the Land of Gitche Gumme.    Gitche Manito had given the People an abundance of food:   animals big and small,   plants that grew easily in the forest soil;  and fish.

I took some home with me, prepared the way Hiawatha would have known:

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One is a Menominee;  the other is a Whitefish.    Smoked.    Deep rich flavor.    They will feed me through many meals.    (Maybe too many;  they didn’t have smaller pieces!)

Eating from right out of the earth and the waters.

Right away in the early chapters of Genesis,  mankind was given for food the fruit of all the trees of the earth and of the herbs of the field.     Later in chapter 9 of Genesis,  flesh was added,  meat and fish:   Gen 9:3 – And every thing that moveth and liveth shall be meat for you: even as the green herbs have I delivered them all to you:

Fruit, vegetables, herbs, meat, and fish.   Of course, we have to work to produce, catch, and prepare our food;  and the further away from nature that we get,  the more labor is put into the food.  But the more we labor and tinker with the food,  the less like natural food  it is.

Being a beignet,  then,  is tricky.     Labor-intensive;  short-lived.    Appealing not to our (natural) health but to our sensations only.

But then I said I wouldn’t get philosophical.

bar simple green dividerA beignet lover in New Orleans:

Cooper and Kathy

The French missionaries came to Hiawatha’s people from Canada.   The French Canadian people were forced out of their homes by the English Protestants and fled to New  Orleans.  The French cuisine there gave birth to Cajun and Creole food.    Now,  Cajun and Creole food has returned to the Far Far North.

I wonder if Cooper can take that all in!

Fun facts.     Not a  philosophical lesson.

Just eat!

 

 

LESSONS IN SMALL WONDERS

May 10, 2016

(continuing adventures in Indiana)

Wonder is the happy astonishment at what comes before you, either an occurrence, a sight,  a word.
It is happy because it increases  intellectual pleasure of a new insight  and at the same time it’s  delightful to the senses.
It is an astonishment because it came to you through no effort of your own.   It’s a bit humbling.      It came from some place higher,  a Higher Power, a Higher Force, a Higher Person, and it was gifted to you because Goodness and Good Pleasures draw you to Him.
    Therefore, wonderment is an act of Love from your God to attract you to Him – and as such,  a created being responds with humility, awe, love, and gratitude.
I’m writing about “Small”  Wonders,  because Our Lord God said:  Unless you become as a little child,  you won’t see . . .  (see the Kingdom of Heaven,  now and forever.)    You must have in you a childlike openness to Wonder.
Wonderment is available to all ages, races, material circumstances, conditions,  and geographical locations!     All you have to be is a created human being.

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Four-Storied Children’s Museum

I could tell you about all  our adventures at the Terre Haute, Indiana,  Children’s Museum,  but you, like me,  have probably seen children’s museums:    “been there, done that.”     I went because Cooper, my grandson,  wanted to go  (and so did his Daddy, actually).    I confess  I was prepared to be  slightly bored.

But I have some photos –   and after pondering them in The Spruce Tunnel for a while,  they became  lessons to myself.

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There were stars to learn about, of course.  The picture on the back wall of the display is easily recognizable as Ursa Major – you can see it every clear night – and only in the Northern Hemisphere!      But the bigger white dots are a representation of the stars as they actually exist in space, relative to each other.

So – from another perspective,  say if our space ship were coming in from a different angle,  it wouldn’t be a big bear (or a Big Dipper)  at all!

Nor would it have entered our minds to even think about grouping these stars together to make a picture of a familiar (earthly) object.

The Ancients knew,  the Greeks scientists knew,  the  Church philosophers knew,  they all knew that Mankind is only a small speck within a vast cosmos.   And they wondered at it!   Humans have dignity and infinite value only because God made us and cares for us.  And that’s a wonder too.

As a corollary:     It is another kind of wonder that Modern Man thinks he is the sum and summit of knowledge and importance;  and so much so that his reasoning must be separated from Faith and his attempts at science must be separated from the vast scientific learning of the Church.  

Ch Museum weather report
The museum had a Weather Station –  fun for me and Cooper,  except I love thunder and he doesn’t.     There was a television “studio” there where you could sit behind the desk and be televised as you give the weather report.

I refused.   I realized how “shy”  I still am.   Cooper refused.   He’s shy too.    What a happy little astonishment  to realize how alike we are — and how our traits and characteristics are passed down into our grandchildren — and how MUCH we love them for it, for being familiar to us.

Did you know that when God looks down on this planet,  He looks for and recognizes those humans who are like Him, and who are becoming more and more like Him?    He is Holy and Good, and only those who are like Him can survive  (can exist)  in Heaven where He is.

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Cooper and I share a fascination with music too;  or maybe it’s more a sensitivity to sounds.  Like his Mommy too.

They say the universe vibrates with energy and sounds.   The Music of the Spheres, the Ancient Greeks used to call it.   Everything reverberates with energy, within and without, making beautiful sounds which we can only hear a small range of.  Harmonious vibrations because they all have one Source.

If you’re “small”   —

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—  you can put yourself into a giant soap bubble and wonder how it happens.   Fun for little ones.   But interesting for “big ones”  when you think about all the forces that hold things together:  surface tension of the soap bubble;   gravity;   strong and weak atomic forces;  gluons;    . . .   and the ongoing will of God to keep it all together – for now.

I don’t.   We don’t.  No one knows how to “keep it all together.”   I live!   But I am not the One keeping my self alive!   Astonishing!

Okay.  Fewer words.

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Little boys love big . . .   things.  Vehicles and such.    Machines.

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If your heart stays  “small”  you need to try things out.  Get involved.     I had a turn in some of the farm machinery.  I sat in a huge … farm thing, and through the window was a display set up so you could see what a farmer would see if he were out working in that machine.

It was fun.    I was astonished at how much work there is to bringing our food to us.   The whole process of tiny little seeds growing into tall plants –  parts of which we can eat!   And we must eat food from plants!  

I’m reminded too about how much space it takes to grow our food —  and I remember observing how very much “space”  our country has.    It is astonishingly EMPTY of people and towns and cities!

It is we who turn our backs on all this wonderful open space and choose to live in costly, crowded city situations.   There is so much space available for us, but we think we don’t want it.       A small two-acre plot with a nice house costs a half or a third or even a quarter of a dwelling place in our cities!     Astonishing what is available for us – if we avail ourselves of it!

I’m going to eliminate, oh, about twenty other photos and get to this fun adventure in the museum.

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Little Blur

See that little blur?

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Big Blur

How about the big blur!

The blurs were Cooper and Daddy, and it’s called Run With An Animal.   And see if you can run faster than that animal!!!

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That’s the Display Screen.   You touch the planet earth . . .

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. . . .then you choose a continent.  Then you choose your animal.

The animal (and you) begin to run when you press a button — and the squares on the floor light up as the animal is “running.”

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There he goes!   He’s beating that one!    I think Cooper got smart and picked a turtle that time,  but I can assure you,  he and his Daddy could not beat most of the animals they picked.

Animals  are astonishingly – fast!

Animal life is not like our life.   There really is a “jungle out there”!!

Here is my standard advice to all my classes:   Go to the public library  (or buy books if you have to) — and see all the picture books,  the photographic books,  the science books about . . .   pick a topic:  Animals of the World.    All the Birds of the World.  All the Flowers of the World.    Alpine Flowers.   Desert Flowers.   Flowers Mankind Never Sees.   Ocean Life.  Microscopic life.    Stars.  Mountains.   Rivers and Seas.   Forests.  

Then don’t let anyone disturb you.   Be a child, with that book.    Be amazed.   Be astonished.   Be very, very small.   Be humble . . .  and grateful that you got a glimpse of this vast Creation!

I don’t think I want to stop.      So  I think I’ll go and grab a book now.

HUMAN LIFE: SUPERLATIVE IN EVERY WAY

April 28, 2016

I’ve been home for almost 24 hours now, back from my photo-scouting trip,    and wondering why on earth I still feel so tired.

Not really physically, I realized,  although we did our best to wear ourselves out each day.  I’m mentally and emotionally worn out.    Mostly because of this:

penske side truck

Inside a truck just like that was a very brave little boy,  trying almost successfully not to cry;   breaking  my heart because we had to say good-bye.     We had been together almost non-stop for two whole days, enjoying a “secret world” that only a grandma and a grandson can create.   We saw the world together;  were amazed at the same things together;  had the same shared feelings.   Bonded.

And then it was time to part and Daddy would be driving that truck  . . . away.    When you’re five years old, you know it has to happen,  but you feel sad about it.  When you’re many-decades + five years old,  you know it has to happen,  but you’re sad about it too.

map for snow

Daddy and Cooper had to continue westward along that red line.  Grandma had to re-trace the blue line.   (There will be  a southern swing to the otherwise straight shot across the country due to April snows along I-70 and I-80:    13-16 inches over mountain roads!   In a truck full of precious family cargo.

In that green spot in the middle there is where I got LOST in the woodlands of Indiana for an hour or so.   On foot.    Halfway through that little adventure,  every time I opened up my cell phone, it gave a pathetic little  “meeep”  and indicated it need a battery charger.    Which made me a little uneasy, being so far away from my car.

But the three of us had many interesting adventures in Terre Haute, Indiana, where we had met for a couple days.  Good stories and photos coming up here in the Spruce Tunnel, but I wanted to begin with that little “human” type experience of saying good-bye to your loved ones.

Because what I was doing out in the woodlands in the middle of Indiana, on foot,  is looking for Indian mounds,  from people who lived there about 2,100 years ago.   People just like us in almost every way.   Families.  Family love.  Family needs.   Family relationships.

Take a mental trip down the timeline of human history.    Make a mental stop every 2,000 years or so.      Technology changes.  What our clothes are made of changes.     What our buildings and homes are made of changes.   How information gets passed around changes.  How we obtain our food changes.   How we travel changes.

What doesn’t change is that we live in small family units within a larger tribe or clan,  or more artificially:  within a larger nation.    Again:     Families.  Family love.  Family needs.   Family relationships.

Put me in a shelter along a shore of a northern sea.   Put me in a cave in southern France.      Put me in a longhouse in the north American forest.  Put me in a fine stone castle.  Put me in a little suburban home.

But part me from my grandson  and I will have the same feelings in any Time.    Part us from our loved ones:  a grown child marries;   a parent dies;   a spouse dies;   a friend moves far away.   We will feel love and loss.

No matter what Time is your present Time –   it’s the people in  your family,  your close kin, and your close friends that matter to you; and  how you treat them and love them  that defines you as a person.

After I waved good-bye to Cooper and his Daddy,  I went backup to my hotel room and immediately began beating myself on the head –  “I forgot to show him this!”    “I forgot to tell him that!”      “I should have done this with Cooper.”      “I could have said more of this!”  

I could have – I should have –  I wish I did . . .

Silly,  I know.    But it’s because it matters.

 

(Fun stuff coming up in the next post.)

 

 

 

 

 

A CHILD’S THINKING

February 22, 2016

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Jesus said “Unless you become as a little child,  you will not see the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Okay.  Start there today, on this Second Sunday in Lent.    “As a child.”   But not childish.  a little tricky,  but my grandson can help.    When he’s being childish,  he’s just being silly and unpredictable and a little annoying.  He’s not himself.

But when he’s being a child, something he does brilliantly,   he displays childlike simplicity,  directness,  honesty,  affection, courage,  tenacity,   and much to my delight,  he sees the Obvious,  which I often miss.

glory

Now, I have several sermons written more than a thousand years ago on this day of the Liturgical Year:  The Second Sunday in Lent — the Lesson has always been  The Transfiguration.   By reading these sermons I enter the minds of great men who came before me,  and yet we are in agreement and in communion, across the years.

It’s a familiar Bible story,  but first I want to demonstrate  some of these childlike qualities which Jesus prizes so much.

Cooper and I exchange pictures sometimes.  Pictures that we draw.  Today I received this one:

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(“Today” — Sunday.  I’ve been sick for a few days and only made it to the mailbox today.)

That picture is a little more sophisticated than it would appear at first glance.   For one thing,  it is a Mixed Media picture, and I complimented him for using mixed media to achieve such an interesting result.    (I was a first grade teacher, remember?  This takes planning,  foresight, the ability to see a result and work your way to it, and stick to the theme. . . .)

But look at the water.   That is stroke after stroke of blue crayon.  He stuck to it until the fish had enough water to safely swim in.   I thought of what it would take for ME to keep at it like that,   concentrating,  achieving the result I want.

Dedicated.   Focused.  Single-minded.    Persevering.

I know,  because I’ve done this recently for him.

A short time ago I sent to him a little meteorite.  A genuine, actual  interesting little meteorite.   He and I share a love of “things” up there in the heavens.   He called to thank me and then proceeded to tell me where meteorites come from:   “….and then a big fireball smashes into an asteroid and the pieces fall to the ground! !!!!!!!!!!”     (Well, it’s an exciting concept.)

Can’t improve on that explanation.

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I made a picture of his words.  Here’s part of it.   Cooper lives in the mountains, in a forest, near a beautiful lake.   I wasn’t sure how to make a “fireball”   but after a long, long time,  I think I had it right,  just like he explained it to me.

And so now I know for sure what it’s like to be “childlike”  with  pencils and paper.

Back to today’s  Transfiguration.   It’s the very important story  of Jesus taking three close friends to the top of a mountain where He then proceeded to show to them some of His actual glory.

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This was a very important lesson for them because they had begun to dimly perceive His Divinity,  but they were grown men and it was getting “complicated.”  They needed to have this knowledge affirmed and their faith strengthened  before they witnessed the next events in the life of Jesus,   which will soon be His Passion and ignominious death.

The presence of Elijah and Moses for a brief time also confirmed for them that this was the work of God.   No room for  complicated, tricky theological explanations;  this IS the Son of the God of Moses, the Lawgiver,  and Elijah, the great prophet.  It is a simple, straightforward conclusion, profound but uncomplicated.  Even a child could understand that Jesus is of God.

Why don’t more people know this?     With a childlike mind,   look at the obvious.

The Transfiguration happened here:

view from the top

I have a friend, “My-Friend-With-The Camera” that I write about once in a while,  who jogged up the winding road of this mountain,  Mt. Tabor.  I still remember how he talked about that view!   You are so high up that you can see amazingly far in every direction!  It rises out of that plain like one huge bump.

While the “bump” is Mt. Tabor,  that plain you’re looking at unfolds itself near Mt. Megiddo — which some of you will know is the location of Armageddon.

“You are so high up”   . . .”that you can see. . . ”

And that’s the obvious thing to spend some time with.    The Transfiguration had to happen at the top of a mountain.     It’s not for the man whose life is lived among lower elevations, content with earthly things.

Experiencing the Transfiguration is not for those who are reluctant to climb.   Climb upward.   Understanding takes willingness and effort and purpose and focus and persistence and you keep at it until you’re there.

Like a child.

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GOOD OMENS

January 20, 2016

With the loss of my mother-in-law last week,  death on my mind,  grieving,  missing out on the funeral,  issues of past family history,  I needed to take a few days off to get some perspective.   I was open.   And the “perspective”  came.

On Monday morning,   I made eggs for breakfast.   Morning:  “sleepytime”  for me.   I clumsily turned the eggs over in the frying pan and stared down at this, staring back up at me:

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I could have chosen to say,  “Well, hmm,  look at that!  I couldn’t have done that if I tried!”   But instead I chose to take it as a good sign,  a good omen for the time ahead.    My choice;   a Rohrschach pan.  My choice to be reminded of love — God’s love!

A step forward this week with a new understanding of Life and Death and the Meaning of Being Alive, and being loved.   Going forth in a world so full of love and caring from God,  that it can manifest in a pan of eggs!

Sometimes “signs” are repeated, as if to say you’re on the right track.

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I cleaned the kitchen after breakfast,  dusted the shelves… and there I discovered two little coins that Cooper had given me.   Cooper is my five-year-old grandson,  rather remarkable for maturity and spiritual insight.  (His early birth and his presence had brought an aura of peace into  Hubbie’s hospital room during his final days.)

Cooper was visiting here at Christmastime.   We enjoyed each other’s company.   But one day,  in the kitchen,  he stopped and reached into his pants pocket and said,  “Here, Grandma,  because you’ve been very good.”   And he handed me the contents of his pants pocket —  30 cents.

My first thought of course was to say, Oh no, that’s your money,  you keep it!   But he was very solemn.  He was serious.  He knows how things work.  In his mind, I had deserved his coins.  This was not the time to contradict what was going on in his mind and in his heart.  It was his gift to me.

I will never forget the eggs, which my clumsiness had formed into a heart, a message of love.  And I’ll never forget the burst of love that came out of my grandson that day.

I will pay him back manifold, someday, somehow.   And for the rest of my life I will try to live up to his opinion of me that day.

Those two little coins will never be spent at  a store.

 

AT THE ENDING OF A YEAR

January 1, 2016

You know,  a lot of things don’t end at the end of the year.   No serious issues in the world got “fixed”;  none of them ended.     No use to write about those.   We’ll see the same things again.

But closer to home, there were a few “endings.”  Holiday visits ended and the “last day” arrived:

Last chance to play with the new drone:

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Uh, the bright green thing floating in the air.

Last hours in Grandma’s state, ending at the airport.  He’s California-bound:

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Last happy moments with “uncle” –

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The airport walk puts a final end to the visit:

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Last glimpse of our little family,  Daughter in red amidst the Green of the Marching Band :

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Our  Marching Band,  heading to the Cotton Bowl.

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So . . .it’s the end of this year’s football season too.

Kind of wish we had seen more of this:

NYE didn't get there much

38 – 0

Sheeesh.

sad football   Kind of wish we had played while we were out there on the field.  It wasn’t that Alabama was so good  (ahem);    it’s just that we were so . . . not good.     Season’s ended.    Good.

But the game gave us an opportunity for a little New Year’s Eve party.

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(Sorry for the blur, guys — just preserving a bit of your privacy.  )

It was fun being with friends as the year ended.  We watched the painful ending  of our football season together,   along with the ending of the year,  and the ending of any attempts at dieting for a while.   That’s what parties are for ??  !!

And then the little party ended, and all I have is the aftermath at the end of the night:

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Not much food left, pizzas are gone,  glasses are empty, “Sparty”  blanket is empty and alone, and the fireplace is on its last log.

The Old Year is Ending:

old year new year

Time to let go and get on with a whole New Year!

And I’d better stop writing now and bring in the extra drinks that were cooling on the back deck;  our “warm spell” is ending too and winter weather has finally arrived.

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THAT’S NOT NOTHING

December 6, 2015

It’s the Post-Thanksgiving Football Season now.        I’m not a “man”  and this  is not my “cave,”  but I live alone, so I CAN put a turkey in front of me . . .  in front of the TV.

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I began the season enthusiastically with football on my TV and knitting needles firmly in hand . . .

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. . .   and now  I’m coming near the end of the season – with football on my TV and knitting still in hand.

A couple of you have asked how my projects are coming.  Here they are:

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I’ve just about finished Cooper’s bear sweater – just the sewing together.   And I’ve started on a pretty  sweater for me.   Not pink.  It’s “Iced Orchid.”     Very pretty and soft.

Well.  And one more  –

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I did the green vest too.  Almost finished, just a few more stitches.   (Might take those buttons off and put different ones on.)

Uh —  I suppose this indicates I’ve spent a lot of hours watching football!

My great-grandmother would not approve of sitting in front of a television set, watching football games — and “doing nothing.”     (That’s her in the right-hand column somewhere;  Hilda Larsen.  Farm wife.  Hard worker.)

My grandma would not approve of me sitting in front of a television set, watching football games — doing nothing.   She was always busy and occupied.

My dad would not approve of me sitting in front of a television set, watching football games — doing nothing.    He had  very high standards for behavior and productivity.

So I knit.   That’s not nothing.   And I generally do housework during half times.  I clean things when the teams are taking a break.    Because I’m “driven.”       Hard work;  keeping busy;  be useful and productive.

I let my Friday class “loose” in their discussion last week.    I joined in, and the Advent discussion about Christ’s first coming meandered off into His second coming and what conditions will be like when He does come back.   These are Advent themes;  we were being “productive.”

And we discovered how lucky we have been.

We concluded that we have no experience with how bad things will be getting, soon perhaps,  and we were all struck with the realization of how very sheltered we’ve been in these last seventy years of upward material prosperity and relative peace — relative peace, because none of us have ever experienced war on our soil.  We don’t know what it’s like to be invaded by a foreign army.   We don’t even know domestic civil war.

We’re grateful for this.    I’m personally grateful because these many decades of relative peace and relative prosperity have given me time to learn; to reflect; to feel gratitude;  to prepare;  to discover what is serious about life; maybe to grow stronger in faith and character so that when things change for the worst,  I will not be surprised, but I will be ready to do my part and to be useful to others;  and to meet Christ, my Maker,  if the coming Bad Times result in my death.

So that’s why I watch football –  to take pleasure in some small things of this world and to show gratitude for leisure time,  while we have it.   And that’s why I knit and clean during the games – to show that there is always work to do that each one of us owes.

It’s not my great-grandmother;  not my grandma;  not my dad.   It’s   Jesus, my Lord and Savior, who said:

I must work the work of Him that sent me, while it is day the night is coming when no man can work.   (John 9:4)

So,  work!    Don’t do “nothing”!

“Work for the night is coming. . . ”     Oh, dear.   And that’s the first line of a wonderful old hymn.

piano happy

And now I want to go waste time at the piano!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEAVING NOVEMBER

December 1, 2015

Yes, good.    We’re leaving some dark thoughts:

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I must have been in a Deep Blue Funk in November,  more affected by the memory of Hubbie’s death than I realized.  I wanted to write about our last weeks together, I really did,  for they are not only sad, they are sweet — and, well,  very precious.

I wanted to write about the surprise miraculous premature birth of Hubbie’s first grandson —  whom we all acknowledge came early so he could meet his grandfather . . .  and so his grandfather could pass on to this tiny baby all the things that a man passes on to his sons and grandsons, just by being near, living and  breathing in the same air, holding on to each other, which most surely happened during Cooper’s time of nearness with his grandfather, in his grandfather’s hospital bed.

You can read about these remarkable times in the archives, over on the side.  You can even see them “holding on to each other.”  Just go to November, 2010.

I didn’t review all this though in this blog.   Not this year.  Son and I are still going through “adjustments” that I know are perfectly normal, but it just turns out they are darkly internal and personal.

Hence,  the Deep Blue Funk.   I can funk really well.  I can be good at funking.

And then it becomes . . .  over.   It lifts.    I took that deep blue photo from my front yard yesterday, as November was ending.   Son and I were outside in the dark,  doing “yard”  things.    Darkness comes early up here in the Far North in November,  and sometimes there’s still outdoor work to do.

I was doing this:

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Putting up our Christmas lights.  A little less elaborate than in years past,  but they’re pretty.  (Especially when seen in focus.)   I was surprised how the camera brought out the beautiful blue left in the very late twilight.

My eyes saw only a dark, black sky.   The camera pointed out the beautiful dark blue.

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So what do I “learn” from this dark November night?   That there is beauty from darkness.   Beauty out of darkness.  Beauty after darkness.

Beauty waiting for us, after this life.    Because Beauty is eternal and good and holy.   God the Creator is not “beautiful,’  He is Beauty itself.   As St. Augustine cried out, “O Beauty, so ancient and so new!!  Late have I (come to) love thee!!”

What else comes out of these dark November nights?    Advent!   This year as November passes,  Advent begins.

The first candle, of course.

advent one urple

Hear the admonition of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, of a few centuries ago when men’s minds were strong and vigorous.  He tells us to think about what we’re doing during this season of Advent:

 “Consider who He is that comes,  whence He comes, to whom He comes,  for what end He comes,  when He comes, and in what manner He comes.   This is undoubtedly a most useful and praiseworthy curiosity, for the Church  would not so devoutly celebrate the season of Advent if there were not some great mystery hidden therein.”

 

(Taken from “Sermons of St. Bernard on Advent and Christmas.” Easily accessible on the Internet.)

{Advent}

KITCHEN: A PLACE TO LAY ME DOWN

September 26, 2015

Okay,  just a few photos.   There are four things that need to be finished by the workmen,  but they’re coming back when they have the “parts”  —  that is common,  and I now have “places”  upon which to lay the debris of my life:  keys,  purse,   mail,  coffee cup,  half-eaten…things.

Here it is —

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A bit lighter.   Still kind of pretty.

And the new sink,  the “business end”  of the kitchen —

 Now,    all the proportions and sizes are just a tiny bit “off”  from what they were before.   All the counter tops were raised by a half inch or maybe more.   The new sink is two inches deeper.   This makes me feel  small when I do things in here!   Takes some getting used to.    Nobody but the homemaker who spends much of her time in the kitchen would notice these things.

The biggest change?    As I said before,  my counter tops are white.   Were white.  A lot of family history happened on those white counter tops.    Now . . .    not quite white.   They’re kind of that pretty shade of tan in the center of the photo.  Matches the new wood at least.  Will I like it?    How long before I really, really like it?

Here is a bit of a miracle —

 Dishwasher.   Just a new dishwasher.    Not quite a necessity for me,   but I’ll use it and appreciate it.   That’s not the miracle.   The miracle happened a few hours after it was delivered to my kitchen — and the delivery men drove away.   Of course.  They are not the installers.

Son was going to be the installer.    I had to leave for class shortly after Son arrived. — He had full confidence that he could install the dishwasher and make all the connections.   (He’s done it before.)     I had full confidence in him too.

I’m glad I wasn’t home to see all the things that happened during the installation !!!     But Son was unshaken.

And for the first time since this whole new-kitchen process began,  when I came home and saw that new dishwasher ready to go,   I felt unexpectedly  happy and joyful, relaxed and relieved.

It’s over!

See the date?

 One day before my birthday.

I’m on my way to the airport now to pick up Cooper (and Daughter)  for a week-long visit.

 His bed is ready,  stegosaurus and all.

Deo gratias.

FUN WITH A STEAM CLOUD

March 10, 2015

(Kind of musing randomly today.  That happens sometimes in the Spruce Tunnel.)

I was thinking:  Sometimes the goal is worth it,  but the way forward is not so clear.

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It’s a common human dilemma.  You want to achieve something,  but the steps to get there are not all laid out for you.  You’ve got a duty to do,  but it’s not at first obvious how to go about the task.

You can’t see beyond the step you’ve taken.
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I knew where I wanted to be last Sunday morning,  but a big poof of steam filled the air and obscured my vision.  That was okay.  My head was already foggy with an impressive night of insomnia added onto the first morning of Daylight Savings Time.    I knew where I was going  although I couldn’t see where to put my feet.

For about a minute I walked forward “in faith.”      Time enough for my mind to send up to me a little metaphor for Life itself.  “I know where I want to go,  it’s not always clear how to get there.”

But that’s no reason to stop . . . walking forward.

Then the steam parted.

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It was coming from a familiar manhole.   Now the way forward was just plain fun.    I don’t know what’s going on down there under the sidewalk,  but the steam stuff is fun to walk over.

I love puddle jumping and when there’s a puddle over a manhole,  it’s the best fun of all to hear the big splashy metallic “Shplungk!”

I taught my grandson everything I know.   

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So we walk forward — sometimes through a steam cloud, sometimes enjoying the fun,  and once the steam through that manhole burned my leg.  But that’s fair too;   life hurts sometimes.   It just seemed to me on  Sunday morning that whether our vision is clear or not clear,  we’re going forward to the End.

To God on that Sunday morning;  and at the End of my life,  I’ll stand before that same God.

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But, see,  the further you keep walking,  the higher you go, the brighter it gets.

St.  Paul kind of knew about walking onwards through steamy air.   He says:   “For now we see as through a glass, in an obscure manner; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  (I  Corinthians 13:12)

FUN WITH FRACTALS (Or: CORRECTING A RANT)

January 30, 2015

There is no easy way to segue out of my past horrible week of death and Hell  and victimization by a criminal element working from within our State government.

But being with people helps.

Bubble Lost in a

My classes.    My friends.    My grandson in that photo – in a big bubble in a pool.

 

Science helps too.   Look at the water up there in that pool.   Or:

fractal smoke

And after all my troubles  I can still smile thinking about Son and I out there in the midnight cold, doing our astronomy,   looking for the asteroid….

And then there are these things:

fractals vortex
I re-read last week’s “Saturday Rant”  about the information black-out we are generally subjected to,    and thought I should “refine”  it a little bit.   Our Rulers disagree with most of the American people, and so I wrote about how they censor information, so we think we’re alone and weak.     I had written  “…more importantly for the continued existence of our Republic which depends upon a Free Press…”  were the people in my classes who didn’t get to  see the recent March For Life demonstration.

Ha ha!!   —   Are the people in my classes so important that if THEY cannot see all of the news themselves,  our Republic might fall?   Ha Ha Ha

fractals rug

The existence of America depends upon the people I know!

fractals blue

No, really,   The people in each of my classes ARE that important.  And so are the people in any group that you know of.    The people in your family gathering.   The people in your office or shop.   A random sampling of people on the sidewalk that you are  on.    Your religious congregation.

It’s not just that ANY group of Americans are vital to the preservation of our Republic.   It’s not just that we believe that EVERY citizen is important.     Beyond that, deeper than that:

It’s the fractal dimension.
I’ve been showing you pictures of fractals.  A fractal is more than just repeating patterns.    A fractal illustrates that any one small segment or portion of something contains within it information for the whole.

That’s my non-mathematical definition.

fractal smokies

Ahhhh…the beautiful Smokies!

At the foothills of a mountain range,  pick up a tiny, tiny piece of … like, sand.     It’s a miniature rock.   And it contains within its contours and components the whole mountain range.

fractal mountains

The edges of a wave in the ocean exemplifies wave action of all waves in their totality.

fractals spiral waves

Smear some oil into a mud puddle.  (That’s the kind of science I like to do!)     Then a small penny-size portion looks just like the entire pattern of the colorful oil film.
Too many photos?

Want some math?     (This fractal thing is real.)

The math involves Julia Sets:      The function for certain Julia sets is: f(z)=z^2+c.   That’s it.   The new complex coordinate is set to the old one squared plus “c”. What is c? It is simply a complex number, and it can have any value you like. Different c values produce different Julia sets. Let’s use (1 + 1i) as c. So, if we were to start with the point (2 + 1i), the first iteration would be:

f(z)=f(2+1i)=

(2 + 1i)^2 + (1 + 1i)=

2*2 + 2*1i + 2*1i + 1i*1i + 1 + 1i=

4 + 2i + 2i + 1(-1) + 1 + 1i=

5 + 5i -1=

4 + 5i

So the first iteration brings us to (4 + 5i). We can do it again now.

f(z)=f(4 + 5i)=

(4 + 5i)^2 + (1 + 1i)=

4*4 + 4*5i + 4*5i + 5i*5i + 1 + 1i=

16 + 20i + 20i + 25(-1) + 1 + 1i=

17 + 41i – 25=

-8 + 41i

So our second iteration gives us (-8 + 41i). We continue to do this . . . .
xxx

Thanks to  this Website …

http://www.angelfire.com/art2/fractals/lesson2.htm

 

Don’t forget the point I was making.   (I almost did!)    Enjoy the pretty pictures.  Look up some more fractals on the Web.   But remember,  my classes,  or any group of people:    each person in your life,  is   “like”  a fractal.    They are representative of the whole.   Thus:

You cannot “love the world.”   Love the person next to you.

You cannot “feed the hungry”  Feed the hungry one next to you.

You cannot rail against censorship and ignorance.   Inform the friend who you are talking with.   Spread the word.  Spread the truth about your Creator, without fear.   Spread the truth about our wonderful country (or your wonderful nation).   Spread the truth about morality and virtue and good citizenship.   Spread the word that Life is to be cherished and protected and celebrated.

Our Rulers do not.

It’s up to us to stop censorship and political correctness.

Each of us is important.   Each of us is representative of the whole.

CAPTURING TIME in 2015

January 6, 2015

(A few more thoughts on Time . . .)

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I had forgotten how much Cooper liked my marzipan.   I think he’s the only person in the world that I know personally who also likes the taste of marzipan!!    Imagine that.    His Mommy and Daddy couldn’t believe it.  He walked around saying “I just love Grandma’s marzipan.”   (I just  think he liked saying the word!)

Well, thanks to some journal pages of late December (a week or so ago), I saw that I had written about Cooper and marzipan — and I delighted in his reaction once again.

Journaling like this –

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Journaling  (hope you can’t read the actual words) is a natural and easy thing to do, and the rewards are far greater than the little amount of effort it takes.     I finally created a “form”  on paper that would make it easy to briefly record what went on each day.   Journaling is just a way of dropping things into your memory so they can be of use later.

For example:

Daddy asks,   “Remember when we went to the mall?  ….. (Cooper answers)

” Remember we saw that silly man in the ice cream shop?”        …..

“What did the man do?”       …..

” And then what happened?”   …..

Daddy was “journaling”  for Cooper, and together they were drawing lessons from what happened before.

That’s all keeping a “journal”  or a “diary” does for us.   They keep the days for us so that the day’s lessons do not disappear.   Especially if we’re not ready to think about the day,  that day will remain on paper for us to contemplate later, if it’s helpful,  or just to enjoy all over again.

Psychologists tell us that keeping a short an easy-to-do diary relieves stress, promotes well-being,  and resolves psychological problems.   Well, I won’t admit to any psychological problems  (is that a problem?)  —  I just enjoy my life and like to keep all of it present, before me.

I would strongly encourage all whom I love and care about to keep a little journal of yourself.      Use words or sketches or interesting little prayers or insights,  record what happened around you that day,   or just save your To-Do lists.    Capture the Time of your life!      It’s interesting  –   Like Grandma’s marzipan.

 

 

 

 

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS – 4-YR-OLD STYLE

January 5, 2015

Byt –Hope you don’t mind:  I’m still fascinated with Time (whatever that is)  and still learning from my grandson.

time marching

 

“You know what, Grandma?   Pretty soon it’s going to be the New Year!!   And we’re going to have a whole new year for happy things!!”  

I thought this was another example of the good positive teaching coming from his parents,  but when I talked to my daughter and son-in-law about this, they expressed surprised.    They didn’t know where he got that idea from.   (Maybe a good teacher who taught the children to look ahead, positively and exepctantly, to the New year.)

time accurate  We talked about a four-year-old’s perspective on the “New Year”   and how nice it is that he thinks it’s a whole new time that holds the possibility of happiness and learning and all kinds of bright happy things.   We got to thinking about how New Year’s resolutions carry with it the “burden” to change and to reform  — and so we list our resolutions to be better people.   How much happier to receive God’s gift of the next “bundle of time,” and to experience the new year with eagerness.

 

But —  There will be good things in the new year!  There will be growth and maturity!   There will be unexpectedly pleasant opportunities!

kick the bucket sign

So Mommy, Daddy, and I decided to help the New Year’s opportunities along a little bit by making our own New Year Bucket List, not resolutions.   We each spontaneously revealed a couple of things that we hope we can do . . .   And it was fun and strangely uplifting.

I’ve always loved New Year’s for the solemn responsiblity it brings and a chance to “prove” myself.   But now….

I have a Bucket List for this coming year!

 

TIME: The Whatever Clock

January 4, 2015

Cooper has a great sense of humor!    He’s only four years old,  but he “got” the humor in my kitchen:

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Cooper is being taught how to read an analog clock –  good for him —  and so I pointed out my kitchen clock to him.   He loves numbers.  He very much loves order.   And this clock violated both his sense of order and where numbers belong  in such a surprising way that he laughed with delight at seeing the numbers in a pile at the bottom.

He said, “Hey, Grandma,  your numbers all fell down!”

I laughed too and said:  “What time is it?    Oh….whatever.”

He just loved the incongruity of that question and answer.

(An important question; a seemingly dismissive answer.)

Although we can’t “explain” time, and  we can define it only with reference to a specific scientific  focus,  we all have Time  to use  in this New Year, and most importantly, we can all enjoy the Time we are given.
Sometimes during the holidays Mommy or Daddy would ask Cooper:  “What time does Grandma’s clock say?”

And he’d get that fun look in his eyes and shrug his shoulders and say:  “Oh, I don’t care!”

Whatever.

CHRISTMAS: NO, YOU CAN’T — YES, YOU CAN!

December 29, 2014

Christmas!   Finally it’s here.    Almost gone.

You probably have new things in your life now.   New books.  New gadgets.    New toys.

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At our house it’s new toys to keep our attention and challenge our creativity.

If you know the real Christmas story and if you know the real Child born at Bethlehem, and know Him now,  then you probably have new understandings to enjoy and be thankful for.

So,  Cooper,  up there on the piano bench offering advice,   is appreciating Christmas  and that is fun to see.    But he is doing Christmas with a four-year-old’s  logic.    Two days after Christmas Day, we were all enjoying the sight of the Christmas tree and  then Cooper’s Mommy said,  “I know what would be fun this year!   Let’s make Christmas ornaments.”

Like these:

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“We can all do home-made decorations for the tree.”

“No!  We  CAN’T!”   was Cooper’s response.      ( No?)        He explained to the stunned adults:   “Christmas is already over with!”  

Well, yes.   It was “over with.”     Traveling to Grandma’s house;  done.    Decorations;  done.    Christmas tree;  done.   Cookies;  done.  Presents opened;  done.     Done.  Over with.

I was thinking about this in church today.    We were reminded, just in passing,   that we are somewhere within the Octave of Christmas.   Thursday to Thursday this year.    Eight days,  one octave.

The Church,  throughout long centuries and in her wisdom,  has developed a time of peace and reflection after major events.    We’re not talking quick marketing cycles here;   we’re looking for time for the development of thoughts and ideas and new insights.    Time  in human terms.   Time that is compatible with the natural work of human minds.

Time to play with our new trains and discover what they can do.      Time to “play”  with our new insights — to find them first, then to play around with their meaning, and then to let them grow in us.

Creativity and enjoyment.    The Octave of Christmas.

Do it!     It’s for all of us.   A four year old would say No, we can’t.   When we grow up, we can say Yes, we can!

(God’s  own  Si  se puede for us!)

Deo gratias.

MAKING AMERICA GREAT – 3 (“WHO ARE YOU?”)

December 14, 2014

writing lady

I’m not sure if my writing skills are equal to the thoughts in my head,  so since I really care about the topic  — restoring, if possible, the strength (greatness)  of a nation (specifically America since I’m an American) —  I thought I’d clarify my first two points before I add a third.

1.  Duty.  

 SAMSUNG     The posting about the Thank You Note written by a four-year-old was meant to illustrate that the citizens of a great nation must first know their public and private duties and also feel responsible for carrying out those duties, no matter how tedious or difficult,  how trivial or momentous.   (Since the four-year-old is part of my family,  I’ve since found out that his Mommy and Daddy didn’t ” make” him write the note.  Rather,  he saw his Mommy and Daddy writing thank you notes,  and he really, really wanted one of his own to write on.      He didn’t want to be left out of what he understood to be an important task.   He’s not a baby!)

2.  Compassion.

chimney boy with bag    The posting about the little chimney sweeps, and the poem by Blake, was meant to locate empathy and compassion and pity inside the reader — if any.     Read the poem;  do you feel compassion?
We consider men great if they have contributed to the welfare and advancement of society, and the same is true for nations.   Generous nations are admired and looked to for aid.  Strong-peaceful nations are admired and looked to for help.    The laws of good nations are looked to for example.   But –  first! –  the majority of the citizens of that nation must  be compassionate and generous — and then act on their compassion.

As Jesus said,  “What good does it do if you come across someone who is hungry,and you say to him, oh, that’s too bad;  go get something to eat!  but you give him no food?   Or if you see someone cold, and you say to him Be warm!  but you dont’ give him a coat?”

Know the good inside of you,  and then be ready to act on it.    On your own.   A great nation is made up of good people.

Honesty.

3.  I think this naturally leads to a  third essential quality for citizens of a great nation:  being honest with oneself — and, of course, with others.

All over Christendom,  we heard Readings today in which John the Baptist was confronted with that one important question:  “Who are you?”    (You’ve got a public image.  You’ve got a lot of rumors running around you.   But who are you,  really?)

John the Baptist
Each of us is made with individual, unique characteristics, so you are you and I am I.    However, in this age we experience the constant bombardment of information,   entertainment,  music all the time,  words all the time.  While constant background noise has deleterious physiological and psychological effects, the real danger is that we succumb to the resultant “mass identity.”   A right way and wrong way to think and feel.  Check what the polls are saying.    Check what the majority thinks.    And don’t make an idiot of yourself by disagreeing.

Group-think will destroy honesty, as well as integrity and clear thinking.

The Majority Opinion  — or what people can be convinced is the Majority Opinion — has led to the demise of many good societies.   Be honest with yourself,  and you’ll be able to recognize propaganda.   Be honest with yourself, and you’ll be able to recognize the agenda behind certain Political Correctness. . .
. . . And then oppose the damaging, foreign agendas.

. . . And then honestly  see what’s making this nation weak and restore the goodness.

Alexis de Tocqueville:   “America is great because America is good.”      (1831)

 

MAKING AMERICA GREAT – 2 (ANOTHER LITTLE BOY)

December 10, 2014

I do hope the Chimney Sweeper in the last posting had meaning for you all.    It’s been a part of my “literary memory”  for many years now.

Here is another “literary” endeavor:

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I can read it!!   I’m sure you almost can too!

It’s a Thank You Note written by my grandson, Cooper, who has just turned four years old, about three weeks ago.

This is a thank you for  his birthday presents from me.    His Mommy and Daddy are teaching him to do his duty and fulfill his social obligations by writing thank you notes for whatever people give him.   In Cooper’s World,  he is so young that he will never know a time when he didn’t do this;  this will seem normal in his World  and will be second nature to him.

So –  “Making America Great”   again –   In a “great society,”  there are rules of  courtesy and consideration for others, based upon Christian kindness and  caring for others.   We may express gratitude or sympathy or concern or mutual happiness.      This is a “good” thing.   We learn etiquette  to help us manifest these expressions of our mutual humanity.

The rules of courtesy are the same for everyone;  for the very poor orphan in the last post  (we have to say “disadvantaged” now) and for the economically privileged child with parents who are present and loving and for everyone in every situation in between.    There are no excuses.  It has nothing to do with being rich or poor, educated or uneducated.     So much can easily happen between people that it’s essential to affirm our own dignity as human beings  by respecting the rules of a good society.

Somehow my grandson was born into a home with the most loving, attentive, and responsible parents.   I thank God for that.  It’s not easy to write a thank you note (especially when you’re just four years old)  but his way in the world will be easier for having learned such things.   He will gain self-respect, and the more he respects others,  the more self-respect he will gain!

Is this an unusual situation?   I don’t know.   But where our society has broken down, where we are cynical and suspicious about others and expect the worst,  we can make repairs.    We can teach and insist and demonstrate the importance of building and maintaining a civil society.      There are little social niceties to practice.     There are ways to speak to each other.     There are civil ways to disagree with each other.     And there are firm, respectful ways to disengage with those who insist on bad social behavior.

The responsibility lies with individuals.   We are each responsible to for the quality of our society.

 

 

A BIRTHDAY – AT LIFE’S BEGINNING

November 19, 2014

Cooper:  God made a wonderful you.

Cooper Balls

Grandson’s name  — in seashells:

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November 19th.      Happy Birthday, Cooper.