Posted tagged ‘Beauty’

HUNCHBACK REDUX

April 27, 2017

 

Anybody remember who this man was?

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He was a celebrity, to be sure,  but he was a kind and wise fatherly figure to me . .  .

Well,  wait a minute.

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Yesterday I wrote to you about two ugly people,  hunchbacked, blind, hobbling around, apparently useless — indeed,  rejected by society.   The story of the  first one, the hunchback who lived in Notre Dame cathedral, packs a powerful punch and it takes courage to read that book.

The second hunchback is a real person,   Margaret of Castello,   and her story will fill you with outrage and pity –  and astonishment.

The first figure displayed heroic Christian courage,  constancy,  loyalty,  love and tragic action. marg  The second figure,  Margaret,  all her life showed wondrous Christian  love and forgiveness,  wisdom,  virtue,  goodness and kindness.

I wanted to revisit their stories a little bit because I’m not sure if I told their story well enough.    The one common point that these two figures have is that their interior lives were both made good and wonderful and valuable by the power of God which they allowed to work in them — in spite of great difficulties. 

Our world is full of serious, even life-threatening problems,  and maybe in our personal lives we have serious problems.    That old saying is pertinent for our difficult world:  “Change the world?  Change yourself.”

The effect that Margaret of Castello had on her surrounding world was profound and life-changing for many, many people.

Okay,  the man in the first photo above?     Jimmy Dodd!

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Even as a child I could tell that he was a good man,  a wise man,  and that he genuinely cared that we grew up to be good and caring people.  He sang to us, as he taught us and he taught us his lesson by teaching us to sing.  Here is “Doreen”  from  the original (and very good)  Mickey Mouse Club singing his song.     It’s less than a minute:

 

 

“Beauty is as beauty does.”        To the one who follows Jesus —   who knows Him and loves Him, and so therefore follows Him,  there is a real change inside,  no matter what the outside appearances are.

It comes out like this:   (Galatians 5:22,  23 ) –  “. . .   the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. “

A follower of Jesus gets some “gifts” too.  Among them are wisdom and understanding, discernment.    With these we can help solve the problems around us.

Here’s Blessed Margaret of Castello now:

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Her body is incorruptible after several centuries.  But it doesn’t matter what her body used to look like.

She’s no longer ugly,  hunchbacked, and blind.

She’s beautiful.

 

 

 

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WINTER PHOTOGRAPHY

March 14, 2017

 

A hint of Beauty this week:

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It was a cold morning, and I had left Hubbie’s car outside of the garage, but I needed to get going anyway.   It was routine . .  .  mumble mumble mumble . . .  gotta get going . . .  mumble mumble . . .   get those car keys in . . mmb . . .   start up the engine  . . .

And THEN —  I looked up, out, through the windshield!    There,  right in front of my face I looked, I really looked at the windshield, and saw the beautiful pattern the frost had laid down on the glass.

It was fascinating.   It pulled me up out of my routine and I just had to stare and appreciate and “feel”  the little snow stars.

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Fractals.   I’m sure there are mathematical formulas to describe those patterns with numbers;  beautiful  formulas to describe the beautiful material patterns!

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We’re created for Beauty.     We’re created with the capacity to recognize Beauty.  We’re created to find enjoyment in Beauty.      We’re created to desire the Source of Beauty,  the Creator Himself.

I’ve been reading from that book on Heaven  *  to my Monday class.  It says we’ll see our Creator, face to face, in all His glory. Our intellects will be glorified and we will see things in all their glory and splendor and beauty.  We won’t see just reflections of Beauty,   hints of Beauty,   we’ll see the essence of Beauty itself, and we will see our own soul as the beautiful creation that it is.

We will know ourselves clearly.     We will see ourselves as we really are.     Quote:

“We shall see (our soul)  clothed with a surpassing Beauty, adorned with gems of grace and good works,  and shining in the presence of God like a bright star.  This sight of ourselves will kindle in us sentiments of unbounded gratitude to God who is the giver of our existence.”

Enough.

An encounter with Beauty can take our breath away.

But with our intellects clarified and glorified (in Heaven)   we will live forever within the full enjoyment  of surpassing,  enchanting Beauty that is the Presence of God, Ever-Beautiful, Ever-Glorious,  Ever-Lovely.

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And we will know and love and possess Him and all that He has for us.

It’s enough to make one want to seriously begin preparing!!!

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.*    The Happiness of Heaven   by  F.J.  Boudreaux

(easily available at Amazon and as an eBook elsewhere)

THE SCIENCE OF WHIMSY

February 21, 2017

“True Science is whimsy.”

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There was a young lady named bright
Whose speed was much faster than light.
She set out one day
In a relative way
And returned the previous night.

Science is whimsy,  for God made the world out of Love and Joy!    It is the serious pudding-faced “science practitioners”  of our day who put a heavy weight to science –  and dare you to disagree!

If you cannot find fun and admiration and joy and gratitude in the science you know,  then you have not done science at all!

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I took my studying 0utdoors today –  it was 61 degrees, for goodness’ sakes!!!    That’s a pretty warm February day here in the Far North!   I did my work right in the middle of nature with the sounds of many seriously happy birds, the  water in the  creek  babbling over the rocks,   and the wind soothing itself through the trees.

So enjoyable,  this science of  meteorology.

Speaking of which,   WHERE IS MY GRANDSON AGAIN?

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White-out in the High Sierras

Cooper lives in the Sierra Nevadas where they’ve had  five feet of snow one week, six feet the next, five feet again the next week,  and one time it was eight to ten feet.   Today and yesterday they are having a three to five feet snowfall –   not so much –  but the wind gusts  nearby were measured at  199 m.p.h. (Alpine Meadows)  and 193 m.p.h.  (Squaw Summit.)   Fascinating.      Intimidating.       My son-in-law works up there at times!

Haven’t received any recent photos of Cooper.    Probably don’t have cell phone service again.  Or electricity.

I think they could use a little science and technology help out there.

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Science is delightfully beautiful but it’s probably not a good time to teach Cooper that “each little snowflake has six points and each one is different from every other snowflake   . . .”  They’re not seeing  “flakes” out there.

Amazingly,   the world is so big and man and his dwelling places are so tiny,   that  Cooper can have his blizzard way over there and I can have my heatwave way over here.

Looks like the Pacific Ocean has been having an unexplained heatwave of its own.

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They call it “the Blob”  sitting alongside our West Coast,   a large heat anomaly.  It’s been there for a couple years, but science hasn’t figured it out yet.

It’s still a mystery to wonder at.

And then there is  “gorgeous”   on an ordinary day:

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Do you know what that column of sunlight is called?   Do you know what causes it?

Just driving along one evening   —     all of a sudden,  the sun shoots out a pillar of brilliant golden light.

It was gone in 45 seconds.

Just a whimsical  reminder of the power and glory of the Creator of all science.

 

 

 

COLONIAL BEAUTY

January 16, 2017

 (  Just one observation to correct our “modern” prejudices.)

“The development of Western Civilization  has allowed for the greatest manifestation of the highest human values.”

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My daughter visited the above church in Sao Paolo,   Brazil,  an actual result of  Western colonialism.   It’s an attempt to glorify God and show the beauty of His Kingdom with the use of higher philosophy leading man’s spirit upward,  with order and hierarchy,  and an architecture intended to reflect the beauty of heaven, focusing the eyes on the presence of God at the altar.

Yes, those floors are mirrors!   The edges of the pews are decorated with sweet smelling flowers for one of the many weddings that take place in that cathedral.   Hopeful promises of better things to come.

Western civilization is the culmination of Greek thinking and  Roman law and governance in combination with  Christian principles.       The enemies of the West have prevented nearly every citizen from knowing what those Greek philosophies are,  what the genius of Roman government was,  and the actual Truth mediated to mankind through the Kingdom of Christ.

In fact, each of these three elements are so thoroughly denigrated today, that it seems impossible to have anything good to say about them.

Now,   real Truth is identical with Beauty and with Goodness and with Purity and with Holiness  . . .   with God the Creator.

Historically,  wherever Western Civ has spread,  there has been the spread of  kindness and respect for the dignity of the human being:

Hospitals

Hotels and Hostels   for travelers

Safe, free traveling

Universities,  schools,  and literacy

Orphanages

Commerce and common methods of bookkeeping,  common laws of interchange

Advanced technology:  Farming;  Beer and Wine-Making;    Irrigation;  Grinding Mills

Scientific   inquiry,  discoveries, and knowledge

Architecture that uplifts the human spirit

The ideal of honesty in politics and peace treaties

Equality before the Law and the presumption of innocence when accused

 

Exterminate the Church and the Christians;    destroy knowledge of the past.

Then cross out all those things in red.   Because all those things in red don’t come to humans just because they are humans.      They existed here and there, perhaps,  but not all together in one civilization.

 

Just one geographical example:     When Christian colonialism came to   African nations, for instance,  it brought with it all those things in red.     (Please  don’t look to an imperialism divorced from Catholic Christian principles.)     When Christianity was kicked out by the enemies of Western Civilization,  African nations collapsed into anarchy, chaos,  poverty, starvation, and the rule of whichever tribal despot could gain power.

And anarchy can happen anywhere.

To follow after the dystopian future vision I wrote about in the last post,   how long do you think it will take for all our institutions to also collapse – without a firm commitment to the principles and values of Western Civilization?

To my Foreign Readers:  Perhaps this explains why supporters of Donald Trump are cautiously optimistic;  not that Mr. Trump will lead us into some wonderful future and solve all our problems.    He has very little power, in the face of our anti-West Rulers behind the scenes.

No,  there is optimism because perhaps the social and political climate will now allow those who understand the value of Western, Christian, European, American ideals to live freely and without fear of reprisals and destructive opposition.

Optimism.     Hard work,   but optimism.

Something for all of us to do!

 

INCIDENTAL BEAUTY

May 26, 2016

A little break from my rants against barbarism.

I’ve written about this before.  Twice a year I go into the little village where I live and pay my insurance.   I could set the payments up to be paid automatically through the Internet.   I could go back to the traditional way and write a check and mail the payment in.

But there is something about maintaining a face to face relationship with your insurance agent who knows you by name, and asks about my latest travels and is interested in my grandson!     A personal touch.     I know lots about her now too.

Well,  and it’s an opportunity to  take some good advice:  “Take time to smell the roses .”   Or the purple flowers, in this case:

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Behind the row of little small-town businesses,  there is a back-alley type of parking lot.  On the other side of that parking lot is this walkway.  I noticed the lovely purple flowers and it made me think.

I knew this beautiful little river was there.

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I actually pulled out of my parking place,   then changed my mind,  pulled into another parking place, shut off the motor, and got out of the car.     It doesn’t matter if I’d be a few minutes late for . . .   whatever.

The Spring air smelled wonderful, all  perfumey with flowers and tree blossoms.  A slight breeze rustled through the leaves and  the tall grasses.    It felt gentle out there.   And it was beautiful with a natural, pure sort of beauty.

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The little river has a series of rapids, all quite photogenic.

Worth the drive into town  and worth the time it takes to stop and breathe in some incidental beauty.

There is a book called “The Evidential Power of Beauty.”     I’m not a brute beast looking at this scene with indifference.    I am human being,   fully aware that this beauty is evidence of the Source of all beauty, and I’ve been created to recognize it.

Deo gratias.

 

 

PALE SUN – PALE WORLD

April 10, 2016

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

FLEETING WINTER BEAUTY

February 25, 2016

 (Just a little photo journal  . . .)

I’ve had one long 32-hour distraction!

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It started yesterday with the beginning of our little snowstorm.   Looked up about noon, over my computer keyboard, out the window — and that was the end of all my work.  Can’t concentrate when there’s so much going on outside!

It seems all day long I just went from window to window as though I had never seen a snowstorm before.  The snow and the wind made such beautiful scenes and patterns –

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The pond was no longer good for ice skating and hockey,  but all day there was a swirl of changing patterns.  I don’t know what the aquamarine color was,  but it was a nice touch.  No.    No blue sky to reflect into the ice.

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The little weed tree at the edge of the pond was getting coated with thick, heavy, sticky snow.   Rather artistic for a “weed.”.

I checked the azaleas just outside the bay window:

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Well, they kind of looked the same as the little weed tree at the edge of the pond.

I went to the front of the house:

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I have a Snowball Bush!       Bloomin’ snowballs.

The snow came all day,  sometimes heavy, sometimes light.  I thought in order to keep up with it,  I’d have to shovel the driveway two or three times while it’s falling, or else I’d never be able to move it all at once.  It was wet and heavy!

Of course, this heavy, wet, sticky snow is good for rolling and packing so now I have —

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—  a Snow Bear!

Okay, you can hardly see a white Snow Bear in a snowstorm,  but I had to alternate snow shoveling with . . . some fun.   Came in soaking wet,  just like when I was a little girl.

Today brought pretty much an end to the snowfall,  but we still  had wind,  shadows, patterns, and interesting things.   First I wanted to see how much snow this area got.

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Mid-morning light shows 9 1/2 inches on the ruler.

Everything was covered with snow or painted with snow.

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I think the neighbors across the street won’t mind if I show you their landscaping shrubs:

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Well, as seen through snow falling.

Then I turned to my backyard pond.   It didn’t look the same today!

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Same aquamarine color but darker in a different lighting –  and what are those circles!

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As I kept going back to check on the snow patterns in the pond,  the sun came out —

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So now we have patterns of gray shadows crossing the giant “lily pads.”

The sun added a whole new range of things to look at.    The temperature dropped,  the snow got lighter and dryer,  and as the wind swirled the snow into the air from off the rooftops and trees,  the sunlight lit up each of the tiny frozen particles, and it seemed like the air was filled with a million glittering little diamonds.

I’m not sure even the finest painter could capture the beauty of a bright sunlit snow scene, after a snowstorm,  with the wind still blowing.

You would have to start with paper that is light gray and blue, and then use brushes dipped in all shades of white, and maybe a little silver.

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The scene is no longer fuzzy and dark and subdued,  but bright and full of contrasts.  And if you were an artist,  you’d have to remember to save the brightest white for the forest floor where the sun shines down full onto it.

We’ll lose all this in a few days.   We’re going to have a warming trend.  40 degrees and more.   Not good.   These photos will be my only memory.   Fleeting beauty!

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Kind of a nice bright interlude in the middle of Lent!

 

 

 

 

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.

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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.)

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MUSIC IN THE GARDEN — SUMMER 2015

July 7, 2015

A gift of Flowers:

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They come from the liberality of a friend who rejoices in the beauty of her garden,  and from which she generously shares her flowers, her musical talent, and her hospitality,  at regular intervals.

We have begun this summer to make (somewhat) beautiful music together.

I wrote a while ago about this new activity for me;   I’ve taken up the recorder at the prompting of my friend, a fine instrument for the sounds of  Renaissance and Baroque music      Earlier this summer,  one day,   she surprised me by saying we’d be playing outdoors.   I drove to her home in the country, and while I was parking the car I heard her say she’d be “on the bench.”

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I got out of my car and it took me a while to locate “the bench,”  but there it was, a little distance away, surrounded by a lovely garden arranged in the “English” way;  that is,   non-symmetrical,  non-plotted,  and rather untamed at first glance.

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Closer in,  I could see there were happy, colorful bunches of flowers of this and that kind,  with happy bees,  happy dragonflies,  happy all sorts of buzzing creatures going in and out of the various blossoms.

She told me to sit on the bench with her awhile, before we started the “really stressful”  activity of making music together — and perhaps she perceived in me my inheritance from my own Grandmother — a need for speed.   A need to get right to it, hurry up, and be doing it, whatever  it  was….    (What gave her a clue?  Maybe because the first half dozen times I tried to find her country home, I drove right past —  I raced right past —  and even though I knew better,  I just couldn’t slow down enough to insert my car into her driveway in time.    I was in a hurry.   I came to our music session tense and purposeful. )

One can’t be speedy and purposeful in a beautiful English garden.

We sat and talked quietly together on the bench.  At first I was filled with admiration and many questions about her garden, which extends all around her property,  not only in the “English” arrangement.

But then the quietness descended on us,  the peace and quietness that fills a person when Nature speaks, always insisting on having center stage.    I did slow down;   I did feel at rest now.   I was ready for our music.

 There,  just beyond the flowers,  was a gazebo,  sheltered by the tall trees.

This is where we make our music.   And last week there were three of us.

recorders threeSoprano, tenor, and alto — a full voice for the beautiful chords of the music that  was produced during the pinnacle of Western culture.  We three did well.  We could almost hear what the music was supposed to sound like!    I could almost see the people who appreciated this music.

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Two hours of music pass by in an instant.

Then there is Tea, of various kinds,  with mint leaves from the garden.   And there are English tea biscuits,  or lemon bars,  or scones.    Light and lovely.

The notes of our music have penetrated every cell of my body, calming, soothing, ordering my  self.    Each color, each petal of the flowers  have done their work,  lifting my spirit upward in some ineffable gratitude.    The quiet conversation of friendship has encouraged  and strengthened me.

I go home with it all.   Some of the experience is “vased” __

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— vased, so I can see and remember.      But most of the experience stays inside of me.

I’ll slow down now.   I will slow down and practice hard —  so I can do this again, next time.

ANCIENT BEAUTY CALLS IN WINTER TWILIGHT

March 8, 2015

I wanted to say that this beautiful snow white curve caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks one day.  I wanted to write about it —

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—    how I had just gotten out of my car and was rushing into the house with an armful of stuff,  full of plans for my next errand,  and how I almost missed the pleasure of light and shadows on my snowy front yard.

Just low sunlight and shadows and crusty snow that seemed to glow.

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I wanted to say something about Beauty being everywhere, if you only took time to look, and the pleasure of Beauty can draw you to the Source of Beauty,  Beauty Itself.
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But the memory of the words of a man who lived before me overshadowed my relatively small thoughts, and his words lifted me even higher than I could have gone by myself.     He too was stopped in his tracks by Beauty, and he cried with words of sublime longing for union with the Source  — and with regrets for how much time he had spent looking for It elsewhere. . .

His words:

“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you.”

From errand to errand I rushed around that day, thinking I was doing good, doing well;  but I was only preoccupied with the things of this world,  using up lots of the precious time allotted to me in this life.   “You were with me, but I was not with you.”

“Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all.”

The created things of this world  keep me from their Creator.   This man knew what the ancient Greeks knew,  that everything is sustained within the Creator,  the Source of Beauty holding everything from moment to moment in a state of existence.

I crunched around in the crusty snow of my front yard, finding the right photographic angle:

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“You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”

This is the strong cry of a man for his Creator, and after that first taste, the courageous cry for more, the manly willingness to hunger and thirst and  long for his Creator.   (I’ll give you his words all together in a minute here.)

The man’s name is St. Augustine,  and I took his mother’s name for my name as I entered the Church.    Because I too have a son.   So similar in many ways.
And my son was experiencing the Beauty of the same day’s twilight from within his own home.  It wasn’t snow white and contrasting shadows,  it was a beautiful Purple light that poured through his windows, and landed on the floor in amethyst.   It must have been remarkable in person.

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St. Augustine:    “Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you.    Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you they would have not been at all.     You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”  (from  Confessions)

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My dimwitted intellect can hardly break through my daily tussle with created things and see beyond,   but sometimes something points to the wonderful Beauty that must wait for all those who long for God,   “Ancient Beauty.”

“Thy altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God!  Blessed are they that dwell in Thy House, they shall praise thee for ever and ever.”     (Prayer said on the Third Sunday in Lent during Holy Mass. )

SNOW AND SUN

February 2, 2015

While we were busy watching the Super Bowl  on Sunday,  our weatherman was busy steering 13 inches of snow into my little town.

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Then,  as often happens the day after a blizzard,  the skies become clear and blue.  The bright sun cast beautiful dark contrasting shadows onto all the snow;   black tree trunks and branches  on a snow white palette.    Monochrome modern art.      I turned my cell phone on to get some photos, but by the time I remembered to take a picture,  the sun had moved away from my front yard.

But the sunshine delighted in my backyard too.   One patch and one branch.

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That’s an untouched photo.    Did you know shadows can be so blue?

A few minutes later,  along the “shore” of my little pond,  the sun made a bright little chain as it got lower in the sky:

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And now tonight,  the sun is gone,  but the snow is lit from within by my deck railing lights.

SAMSUNGAt just the right angle you can see a claw-like shadow on the floor of the deck.    The claw is a moon-shadow from a tree branch above.  A little eerie out there under bright moonlight.

 

A CLOD IS WASHING AWAY

January 20, 2015

 

Here is a beautiful sight which greeted me yesterday morning –

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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:

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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 — 

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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.

“ROSES” IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

January 15, 2015

     1-15-15  !!

       1/15/15    . . . 

Pretty cool date today according to the American way of writing dates!   1-5-15  was pretty fun too.   And 1-1-15, although that drives me nuts because I am a perfectionist when it comes to my handwriting, and I’m never good enough at making all the number ones look the same.

It’s the middle of January and I am in the middle of my First Week of classes in this new year.   That means about 125% of my time is devoted to class prep and fussing about all the little thoughts that should be stuffed into the lessons.     I study…sleep a bit…study….sleep a bit….all day long.   Since this is a 24-hour cycle,  I get to appreciate some interesting things in the middle of the night.

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I particularly liked this view.   It was pretty dark in the house, but my eye was caught by this beautiful pattern coming from my deck.      I stayed there looking at the pattern made by the lights on the deck railing, partially covered by snow, until I thought I’d better capture the view with a camera so I could go back to bed.

It’s beautiful.    Proportional.    Simple.     Restful.

The pattern will change as we get more snow and again as the snow melts.

Since it’s also very, very cold around here lately,  another common view in the middle of the night is this:

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That’s a fire in the fireplace, making things warm and inviting in the middle of the night.

Very inviting.   This is my home.    I’m invited!

I hope you all have some beautiful, interesting, inviting things to look at around your home  – anytime of day.    Beauty is everywhere.     I guess it’s a matter of taking time to “stop and smell the roses.”      Or see them.   Or hear them.

Deo gratias.

He made us to know beauty.

TIME BETWEEN TWO PARTIES

December 19, 2014

“Garbage in; garbage out.”     Input, not only for computers,  but also for human minds.      Song lyrics come to mind. . .come into our minds.

The Christmas Season!   Time for parties!  At this moment as I write, I happen to be between  Party #2 and Party#3 at my house. . .  People will be coming within the hour.    I ought to be running around right now. . . .

But I stepped out onto my deck and noticed this:

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The “artist” left his name:  Jack Frost, of course.   Three different boards, three different sets of patterns.   I had to Take Time with this.  Pause.  Get the camera.    It was adding value and a bit of “certitude”  for me.

How is it that this arrives into my mind as Beauty?    It’s stunning (in real life)  and exquisitely beautiful.   And it points me to the author of Beauty.     It points me there because of what I’ve read in my past,  what I’ve listened to,  what I’ve thought about,  and what lyrics I remember:

“Take Time”

1. Take time to be holy,
 speak oft with thy Lord;
 abide in him always,
 and feed on his word.
 Make friends of God’s children,
 help those who are weak,
 forgetting in nothing
 his blessing to seek.

2. Take time to be holy,
 the world rushes on;
 spend much time in secret
 with Jesus alone.
 By looking to Jesus,
 like him thou shalt be;
 thy friends in thy conduct
 his likeness shall see.

3. Take time to be holy,
 let him be thy guide,
 and run not before him,
 whatever betide.
 In joy or in sorrow,
 still follow the Lord,
 and, looking to Jesus,
 still trust in his word.

4. Take time to be holy,
 be calm in thy soul,
 each thought and each motive
 beneath his control.
 Thus led by his spirit
 to fountains of love,
 thou soon shalt be fitted
 for service above.

 

It’s the things you choose to listen to and what you choose to pay attention to.

Thanks to my early teachers who understood the importance of songs like this to a child’s development.

Thanks to my Grandma who made her pump organ available to me — and her songbooks.

Thanks to God for bringing his holiness into the world and making it available to us.

No “garbage” here.

Deo gratias.

 

 

DEFORESTATION BEAUTY

December 6, 2014

 

I told you we are beginning to see the open skies overhead, now that some trees are gone. 

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Here was the beautiful almost full moon above us last night.    I could stand right in my driveway and see this now.

Then Son and I watched a  DVD about the Hubble telescope that I had purchased from that science museum in Florida of couple of weeks ago.    Then we watched YouTube video after video of more Hubble photographs of deep space.      Kind of had the colorful gaseous clouds like the ones that surrounded our own moon.

Our tree cutting revealed other hidden beauty for us too:

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And this one:

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Lots of patterns like this revealed by the axe.

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We found almost “playful” surprises during our woodcutting.    A “tree inside a tree”   –

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Beauty and delightful surprises.   This is a reward of Husbandry –  pruning away overgrowth so the remaining trees can stay healthy.    “Dominion over the earth” —  it means taking care of the planet as though it were a valuable and beautiful garden.   That’s our job as human beings.

(Be careful you don’t let anyone confuse you about Christendom and the destructive greed of unregulated corporate capitalism.    You may confidently reply that the two sides are opposed to each other.)

Here,  have  another Milky Way:

Timelapses Of The Night Sky

Even though we’ve taken down many trees we can only see a portion of this from my front yard.     But it’s enough for us now.

SPRUCE TUNNEL OVERCOME – WALK WITH ME

October 11, 2014

There was something different in the Spruce Tunnel today:

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I haven’t forgotten to get to the “4-letter word”  in my posting here,    but after those last two, I needed a break.  I needed to get some grounding  today,  so I went out to the “real”  Spruce Tunnel to quiet my thoughts in a familiar place.

As soon as I drove into the park,  I could see something was going to be different.

SAMSUNGInstead of a quiet walk under the cool, dark giant  spruce trees,  I could see that sunlight!  and yellow!  were going to be dominant.  Here, the yellow maple announces its dominance over the Spruce Tunnel.

I began my walk down the pathway —

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—  but the pathway, this time, led to shining yellow sunlight.      I wasn’t going to get my quiet, thoughtful walk through the dark Tunnel.

SAMSUNGI passed  the familiar mossy tree trunk, but it was guarded by yellow leaves.    Mostly I just looked upwards, 30, 40, 50,  75 feet up into the air.

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Good thing my ankles are strong because I kept walking off the pathway.     The whole Spruce Tunnel looked – different.

The forest of giants was filled with yellow air.

 

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I stood close up, right under the yellow.

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The yellow maples had just about overcome the giant spruce trees.   They were still there –

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Towering above even the tall maples,  the giant spruce are there, waiting for the colors to pass.

Change of seasons!   Color!   Football!         Cider and Donuts!    Cool, crisp air!       It’s hard to be somber and thoughtful in the Fall in the Far North.

And it’s going to get “worse” !

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The trees are beginning to change from yellow to red!

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It’s going to be very hard to take this beautiful world for granted for a while.

Deo gratias.

A PAUSE (13th SUNDAY P.P.)

September 8, 2014

Too much is swirling around in my life right now, so I needed to take a break.  I don’t want to  write too much, though I fear I will.

Karlskirche Austria

I took my break here today  (in a way);  Karlskirche, somewhere in Austria.  It was built for all of us, for everyone in the whole world.  That’s what “universal” means – for everyone.  You can enter freely, sit in the back, if you want,  let other people do their own “thing” in there too, while you enjoy the beauty and experience the immense space that quiets your mind and enlarges your own personal perspective.
So I didn’t exactly go to Austria today.   Not exactly.   I went down some steps into a “basement”   where the air was stuffy,  the carpeting was old, and the chairs were of the “folding”  variety.     But in the front, front and center,  the altar was beautiful, as beautiful as we could make it, because our attention would be focused on the exact same thing as that beautiful Austrian cathedral, front and center.

water  I went to my familiar place today and knelt while others were coming in and kneeling too.  I composed my mind.  I read a familiar Psalm,  Psalm 62 * and treasured these words:   “O God, thou art my God;  earnestly  I seek Thee;  my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh longs for Thee like a dry and parched land without water. . . .”

 

Then everyone had come and things began, and soft male voices rose gently in song,  prayers at the altar began,  and then the Asperges  for us –   cool water, fresh air comes our way,  but more than just a refreshment,  a spiritual presence, a spiritual cleansing;  not just “water” but water joined with Intention:  God’s intention to cleanse,  our intention to receive his cleansing.

“My soul thirsts for thee…like a dry and parched land….”    Things change with the cleansing Asperges, things change and become sharper and crisper, cleaner and brighter,  and as we continue, everyone there — on their knees, sometimes standing,  sometimes sitting —   is one in the same intention.

We were reminded today of the Ten Lepers who were cleansed  (healed)  by Jesus, when they sought Him (earnestly I seek Thee)  and He agreed:  they needed healing,  and He did heal them.    And then, as the familiar story goes,  they left to go find their priests who would declare them ritually clean.  But one came back.    That one had experienced the cleansing and was so full of gratitude that he came back to express his thanks to Jesus, the Great Physician.

Today,  amidst the sights and sounds, the young torch bearers walking in so solemnly, the incense,  the singing,  the bells, the intense silence,   the Elevation . .  .   I closed my eyes and saw that cathedral in Austria and felt myself become part of the universal Church, trying my best to give adequate thanks in the most beautiful way I could think of.

Those lepers of long ago, healed,  would return to their busy lives with all the cares and joys of living humans,  but first,  one of them  returned to give thanks.

Deo gratias.

 
*   (or Psalm 63 in the Jewish numbering used by Protestants)

 

 

 

 

 

LITTLE OBSERVATIONS NEAR THE SPRUCE TUNNEL

June 24, 2014

Robin egg one

I live quite near the Spruce Tunnel, within walking distance if I want to challenge the traffic, and then  turn off into the countryside and confront the herds of turkeys, the deer, the coyotes, and our industrial-strength mosquitoes.    (Sighhhh…can’t take the City out of the Girl.)

Nevertheless,  I have some observations out here.

A few days ago I was feeling fairly optimistic and strong and capable.  I was taking care of the lawn, getting it ready for a little neglect during my upcoming road trip.   (Well, people temporarily in the house and the neighbors will be watching over things.)   But it was when I was having that sense of well-being and while I was sweeping the driveway that I noticed the broken egg.

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Obviously,  I didn’t just sweep it away.  I looked and pondered;  my mind was busy, and my heart.

I was struck by two things – the beauty of that particular color (a bit washed out by the afternoon sun).   “Robin’s egg blue” we say,  but that doesn’t do it justice.  It’s a beautiful shade of blue, inhumanly beautiful.   No one even has eyes that color.  It’s compelling and delicate.

And the other thing that struck me was its delicacy and vulnerability.

I know that’s the way of things on this planet.

Some robins do just fine and hop around and eat worms.   Some robins don’t make it.

QUITE A RUSH!

April 24, 2014

 

Quite a rush today. 1 Rush

Some days are like that –  but you have to make it happen!

Time for a little road trip —  time to see my Mom – on the other side of the country!     I looked up these Falls on the Internet before I left home. A nice tourist stop.     I read that “at the edge of the parking lot”  we could find “the trailhead.”    Just a “short one,” you know;  just “a little exercise”  during a long road trip.

Well, here is the edge of that parking lot I read about: 2 Edge of parking

See that drop-off?     That’s the “edge” of the parking lot.      I peeked over the edge –  that’s a stairway down there…a steep, steep stairway.

3 over edge peek

Straight down.   I was beginning to have a few misgivings about going down there, but it was the way to the Falls, so I believed.

Down, down, down, down I descended,  walking down the stairs and then down a steep pathway –

4 sheer dropp off tot he left

That’s a sheer drop-off to the left.    (And lots of rocks and stones to trip on.)

I tried not to think about the long walk back up this trail,  but I did turn around to see where I had just come from –

5 looking back up

Yep.    Pretty steep.    And  very beautiful –
6 cliff path

I was all by  myself in that beautiful scenery.    It was quite a “rush” to begin to feel part of all that.   I walked downward for about thirty minutes before I finally began to hear evidence of a waterfall.    Then the  soft hint of distant roaring water began to sound through the trees,  getting louder with each minute.

I came to the river. . .

7 river granit rock

The river had been cutting through this base of solid rock for “a very long time” —  (I was too tired to get technical at this point.)    I began to see some other people at the river.   We could walk right out onto that flat rock, right up to the river.   Which I did, of course.

8 the fallsAnd there really was a Falls.   The Cumberland Falls.   The Niagara of the South!    Beautiful!   Loud and beautiful!   Like a powerful nature rush.

And there really was a rainbow at the end of my . . . efforts.

9 rainbow

I wish I could enhance that photo somehow.   All the colors of the rainbow were actually there.    It was such a nice place to be.   Very uplifting.   The tourists seemed so happy.   I saw about a half dozen Amish ladies – in dresses, like me.    They did a double-take when they saw my dress!  Ha!   Dresses are cooler in the heat of the day.    Every lady should know that!

There was a nice gift shop,  snack bar, lots of maps and geological information – and Bear Signs!   Everywhere the rangers had posted signs to watch out for bear:   “There are Bear in this area.”    “Bear have been seen recently.”    “If you see a Bear, please tell a ranger.”      (If I see a Bear,  I will die of a heart attack – why, why, why, why is it that every time I take a hike out in the woods, the West, the Southwest, the North, and the South –  everywhere there are warnings for Bear…..?)

This was on my mind when I tried to find the Upward Trail that would take me back to my car in the parking lot – somewhere over my head.   And there it was,  winding upward.  Inevitably, steeply upward.  I was already hot, thirsty, and tired – but my car was far away.    Far upward.

12 uphill

One last look at the Falls:

13 one last look

I decided to distract myself as I walked (upward)  by counting my steps.   I’d count one hundred steps and then take a rest.   Good idea, maybe,   but I never made it to a hundred.   I rested when I had to.   And breathed very, very hard, gulping in oxygen and hoping that dizzy feeling wouldn’t lead to unconsciousness.    Hoping a clumsy step wouldn’t lead to embarrassing myself by getting some bones broken.

10 railing

The Boy Scouts had made a nice railing for a few hundred feet.  Sheer upward wall on the left;  sheer cliff downward on the right.

Want some Vertigo?

11 vertigo

Looking over the railing at one point, the hiker (the weary hiker)  could see far down below to a wide two-lane bridge over the river!   That white strip in the middle is the road.    Straight down.    Time for a little “rush”  again . . . as long as you don’t mind heights.

I did make it all the way back up.   I did find my car.   And – miracle of all, by this time –  I managed to open a bottle of water and begin to replace the gallons I had lost.

14 sign enh

“Cumberland Falls State Resort Park”  —  Highly recommended.

Watch out for Bear.

UH-OH – A HINT OF SPRING

March 8, 2014

I know I’m supposed to be appreciating our warm weather today.  For the second day in a row, our temperature reached somewhere over 40 degrees.   But, then,  if you had a pile of skis and ski poles, ice skates, and assorted jackets, scarves, and mittens just inside your front door,  you’d understand that “spring”  brings the end of a lot of nice things.

It’s too early to think “rose buds and robins”  but almost too late to get in more winter fun.

Here was Hubbie’s red car last Sunday, parked near little  snowbanks.

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Tomorrow I’ll be there  again,  climbing snow banks to get into church, because it takes more than a couple 40-degree days to turn winter into spring.

Sometimes winter on that red car  just inspires “photography.”   One freezing cold day the car door was covered  with beautiful little crystals,  not from ice but from the salt and sand plastered against the car.

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You’ve got to take time to find ‘beauty”  where it is!

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But in yesterday’s warmth I washed my cars and said a “good-bye soon”  to the ever-present grimy coating.    And then I remembered the other photo I took when I was walking back to my snowy parking place last Sunday.

Palm Trees in the Snow!

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The front license plate?    Ron-Jon’s.    My favorite tourist shop in Florida.  No robins yet, but, oddly enough, I began to remember some happy times in warm weather.

I love the change of seasons.   You try to hang on to the fun of the present season,  but then you can begin anticipating the pleasures of the next.   Surely, this is a beautiful Creation.

Deo gratias!