Posted tagged ‘Winter Fun’


January 29, 2018

I was raking old leaves this weekend, wearing a sweater . . .  but the Far North gives us surprises –

29 Deck at night snowfall 380

This was taken about 4:30 this morning. We were having such a beautiful snowfall  . . .  I kept going around to all the windows and taking pictures (as though we’d never had snow before!).     The deck lights added so many little patterns  –

29 Deck Lights 380


There are nine or so inches on my deck railing and bench right now.    I know a lot of people  must have wakened  up to this “surprise”;  no one seems to have heard any weather report predicting this much snow.

The whole world looks so different under all this snow.         See those two small parallel white lines against the tree trunk?   —

29 Vines in the snow

Those two parallel lines are big Poison Ivy vines that  had been growing  all the way up that tall tree, and then they were ripped off  in a big storm.    They let go of the tree and just fell off.    No one is too willing to go and get them out of the creek where they fell.

Usually you can’t see them too well just behind my pond  (which is all that white in the foreground)  and when everything is colored in  the same brown tones.   But snow outlines everything in a thick soft covering, accentuating some things, obscuring other things.

Schools are closed.  My class is canceled.   The snowplows will not come today, and neither will the mailman.

But then there’s the driveway to think about.       (Think:  good exercise)

29 Shoveling 370

Can’t get out on the roads to go (cross-country)  skiing anyway.     In fact,  looking at that snowbank at the end of the driveway,  I’ll be staying home for a while.    And when the snowplows come,  that snowbank is just going to get higher.

29 Driveway 370

There is a thin light snowfall right now,  but when we get a puff of wind,  the snow on the branches comes down in a cascade of tennis ball size chunks.

Now that I’m all snowed in,  I’m supposed to be enjoying the couch by a big window in my front room,, and reading and knitting . . .    but –

29 Front Window 380

Can’t keep my eyes off this scene.

I’m easily distracted.




January 5, 2018

Frosty windows today!

5 windows

I’ve  just emailed some of my Friday morning class,   reminding them we don’t have class today.    I ended by bidding them to enjoy the Cold Blast with cozy soft  clothes,  good books,   hot soups and tea and cocoa.

5 soup

But I noticed –  not only do these cups of hot liquids feel good to our hands,  but their sounds  are an anticipation of inner warmth — —   stirring the soup with a  hard metal spoon, scraping the bottom of the pan;

—  the light crinkle of paper surrounding the tea ,   5 tea bag 60

—  the opening of the  container of cocoa,  the swish and light clatter of a spoon around and around the cup   (I have a quiet house).

5 st cocoa str 50

Prolong those sounds and the enjoyment increases.


5 ha ha colors 70  Other sounds too:   All those expected,  overused words we use to express our astonishment that it could actually get this cold!   All those jokes:   “It’s so cold that . . . ”     Here’s a political joke:   “It’s so cold that Elizabeth Warren is now calling herself an Eskimo!”   

Okay,  maybe only 58% of our country would find that funny;  the other ‘half’  don’t seem to have a sense of humor about themselves.

5 birds

The peeps and chirps of the wild birds are sharper and shriller as they remind you to throw out more bird seed.

Then there’s the nail-popping sound when the air gets so cold that the roof contracts and pops those nails right out of the shingles.

5 nails 85

You’re laying there in bed all night hearing a Snap!   Pop!  and Roll!   as the nail is freed and rolls all the way down the roof.    Kind of fun.    (“It’s so cold that I’m losing the nails in my roof. ”  hmmmm)

And then there’s the sound we can all make, if we’re lucky enough to have snow:    You have to walk out to the mailbox and you’re all bundled up like in a cocoon and all you can hear is the Squeak!  Squeak!  Squeak!  of your boots making footprints in the super-frozen dry snow.

Tip:   For added fun,  take your walk to the mailbox when it’s dark.  Preferably by moonlight.

5 moonlight

(Just remember, you can’t breathe that super-cold air  into  your lungs or you’ll come up coughing and sputtering!)


5 cocoa 110 j






December 30, 2017

We are having a non-stop busy week  – no time for the usual activities,  but I’ve stolen a few minutes to tell you about a great new “invention”  for snowy days!

Sled Legs 280

That’s my grandson Cooper going down our nearby sledding hill – on his new Sled Legs.

They’re a great idea!

sled legs on

You strap these things to your legs,  just above your knees and above your shoes, so you can still walk . . .

sled legs walking

. . .  because the idea is you walk up to the top of the hill and then fling yourself on your knees and slide down.

Cooper says you can steer, but the  adults with him say you can’t.

(I think you can believe a 7 year old who plays Scrabble like a pro, two days after he learned that the game exists.   He picked up the rules for Parcheesi in about ten seconds.  And he apparently mastered all the pinball games at Pinball Pete’s tonight.)  


st bar blue snowflake divider

Anyway,   Sled Legs –  highly recommended!




December 14, 2017

Well,  this isn’t too much of a surprise:

Ruler table

I went out yesterday evening after I wrote about our little snowstorm, and stuck a ruler in my deck table.

Ruler Numbers 370

9 1/2 inches.   Just can’t believed the prediction for this storm passed me by.  Took me by surprise, didn’t see it coming.      Cars are moving on the streets now.

But here’s today’s little surprise:   I drove to my library this evening to return some books, and met a  little guy from the Arctic Circle –

Reinder face 370

And his friend –

Reindeer in cage 370


One line of my mother’s family came from Samiland; and one line of my dad’s family came from Lapland.  Both are regions of the world where reindeer like these are part of the families.    Not pets, really,  but food,  drink,  clothing, shelter, etc.

Nice to see them today.  Nice, pleasant little surprise.





December 13, 2017

(Got time for a    s   l  o   w       little snow story?)

There are 18 more days until 2018;  and this afternoon it was 19 degrees with 19 m.p.h. winds –  which makes it a lot colder.

Supposed to be Recorder practice day.  We were going to do Christmas songs.   Looked forward to that, but this got in the way:

A Snow Window 370

That’s the window looking out over my desk in my study, or library, whatever it’s called.

Weatherman said at one time this afternoon it was coming down an inch an hour.  Looks like about 8 inches on my deck railings.

A Sil Left Deck 370

That’s about four inches there, but  it kept on piling up.   The roads weren’t going to be very good, so all “electives” were canceled, including our music.

But snow that deep has to be taken off the driveway.   Shoveled.     My two across-the-street neighbors were already out there shoveling their own driveways.    I had a quiet afternoon while it got real pretty outside;    reading, dozing off ;    not moving around much, getting thoroughly chilled inside the house.

A Sil Shrub Ball 370


Then, time to take care of that driveway because snow-shoveling warms you up.  So does getting into my gigantic new snow parka,  which I put on over a turtleneck, blouse,  a big fuzzy sweater, tied all together with a long scarf .    Getting dressed like that takes some time and  warms you up too.

Then came the long thick over-the-knee socks and my high-tech winter hiking snow boots that I got from a store in the High Sierras.


Took some doing getting the inner and outer laces and buckles done up.  Those boots will put your feet into a slow bake,  but the time it takes to get them on is worth it if your feet would otherwise be walking through deep, cold snow in less high-tech footgear.

Found my big thick stiff ski gloves and got them finally pulled halfway up my arms  and tied in place.

Opened my front door to go out —

And saw that one of my neighbors had already shoveled my driveway!

All dressed up and no place to go.

Nothing to do out there!    Just had to close the door, come back in, and strip off all that  outer gear.

I owe someone a warm fresh-baked loaf of bread,  but I don’t know who.



Neighborliness in the Far North.







June 25, 2017

This posting is just for fun.

Some of you may remember  the kind of winter my grandson Cooper had this year —  buried under 20+  feet of snow.    It’s where they live.   Donner Pass.   As in . . .   the Donner Party.      I showed you some photos of Cooper and the snow . . . (here).

And this picture could look a lot like his back yard when the sun is just right:

Tahoe back 1

Well, their  giant snow cover is mostly gone,  but it’s still snowing!

bikinis in snow

This is a ski hill near Donner –  last week.   While we were having our heat wave,  they were . . .   well, it looks like a heat wave on the ski slope too.

Cooper’s Mommy is having a birthday on the Fourth of July.   A couple years ago, during a birthday phone call,  I asked her what she did on that day on her birthday.   She said,   “Oh,   we went to the beach and had a picnic, and then we went snowboarding.”    All in one day.    In July.

But it’s not all fun and games.     After Blizzard and Avalanche season, now we have the Snowmelt season.

Tahoe 12 billlion into

This is Lake Tahoe, nearby.   The slow-motion video showed the churning of the waters as  12 Billion gallons of water were flowing into the lake.

The video lasted until evening,  through sunset.

Tahoe sunset


Ahhhh,  the Sierras.    In a few short weeks I hope to be there.

To see my grandson, of course.



March 14, 2017


A hint of Beauty this week:

Snow stars on cars 380

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.

Snow Stars 380

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


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.”


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.

Heavens Gate

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!!!


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

(easily available at Amazon and as an eBook elsewhere)


February 2, 2017

Well,  I’m not!


This was my back yard a few nights ago.    So pretty.    I had a floodlight set up into the air so I could see the snowfall better.     We got only four inches, though.

Unlike my little grandson in the high Sierras:



This photo isn’t from his area,  but it very well could be.

A story from a nearby newspaper   . . .   (The San Jose Mercury News –   Do they still use the name San Jose?)  . . .   today discussed the  well over 100% of normal snowfall they’ve received this year.


Now, “the sky is not falling,”   and no “climate change connection”   and they’ve had higher snowfall amounts in previous years from time to time,  but nevertheless, when you get a big year,  you’ve got to deal with it.   You’ll still find people who are happy with all the new snow for skiing and snowboarding  –  after all,  most of the people up there chose to live there so they could have plenty of snow to play in!     But the news article today said that people are beginning to show signs of “enough is enough”   and “we need a break.”

Normal life has been disrupted.    Schools,  postal delivery,   electricity,  cell towers.      Firefighters have to use  metal detectors to find the fire hydrants!

And what happens when you open your door — and the door is still there!!


I just keep thinking about their weather forecast for the rest of this week.   About a foot more  by the end of the week;   and another two feet by the end of the weekend.   The comment that followed was that the winter sports snowpack will last into  July.

Great.     Cooper’s Mommy,  my daughter,  has a birthday on the Fourth of July.   This wouldn’t be the first year she’s gone both swimming and snowboarding on her birthday!









January 24, 2017

(Life underneath a good snowfall) –

I could have entitled this, yet once again:  “Cooper RE-buried!”    but I think Cooper’s Daddy took care to keep him  un-buried.


That’s my grandson again,  Cooper,  pushing back the snow near his house.  Aren’t they getting cabin fever yet?    Aren’t they beginning to feel a little “suffocated”?     But Cooper and his Daddy and Mommy claim that they love living in the high Sierras, right near where the Donner Party had so much trouble with the snow . . . .   They claim they love the snow because then they have more to play in.

The base at upper Squaw Valley today is:   190 inches!    How many feet is that?

This is pretty close to what Cooper’s back yard looks like:


Somehow, the kids find each other,  even after a third or fourth week of six-foot snowfalls.  Last weekend it was five.


Five feet.    This is quite near Cooper’s neighborhood during a snowfall.   I recognize those roads.  I distinctly remember pushing him around in a baby stroller in that neighborhood  —  in the summer.

Wonder what it’s like to really “play” in all that  snow?   Well, before anyone can go skiing or snowboarding,  they have to  PLOW the slopes!


A Midwestern flatlander like me wonders why they have to plow up there on the peaks.   This is why –


You can probably recognize what those are;   they’re the lifts, the lift chairs – or the very tops of them.   The snow is too deep for them to work until some of the  snow is removed.

If you need help,  the California Highway Patrol will come – or try to come  –


Don’t hold your breath.

Better to stay inside your house –


(I’m pretty sure I pushed Cooper’s stroller past this house too.)

Can you have too much of a good thing?




January 17, 2017

Doing my errands today . . .


. . .     doing errands on a solid sheet of ice that used to be my driveway.

Getting back up onto my front porch wasn’t any easier —


It was only raining today.  It shouldn’t have been this bad.

We didn’t have the major part of that ice storm that crossed the nation during this past week,  but we had an interesting “weather event” just the same.

Our temperatures are pretty warm.  It’s going to be around 40 degrees more or less, for the next few days,   and precipitation will be in the form of rain.    HOWEVER —  our ground is frozen!    The temperature of the soil is less than 32 degrees,  so when rain comes down,  the ground freezes it.

So we’ve had an “ice storm”  at ground level, I guess you could say.    Everything else above two inches is pretty soaked and happy, and our  trees and power lines are just fine.

Cooper, however ––   remember the posts called “Grandson Buried”  and  “Burying Cooper Again” ?       Well, Mother Nature’s taking aim for a third try.   Another 5 to 6 feet of snow by Friday, and probably near 10 feet total at the end of a week.  Their forecast shows heavy snow for the next   eight  days!    I couldn’t drive out to see him if I tried.

How about a Snowplow Train?  –


By the way,  Cooper lives on “Donner Pass Road,”  if that tells you anything.

Ice Science:


Not Science Fiction, though.


These are two photos of one of the science stations on the western edge of Antarctica.   They’re relocating because two huge crevices have opened up and are growing rapidly in length, threatening to cut off these scientists and their labs.

Thousands and thousands of new volcanoes have opened up in that region of the ocean,  warming the waters,  steering the warm water currents into that edge of Antarctica, so the ice shelf is getting unstable.

It’s not “climate change.”    And charging us massive “carbon tax” fees will not stop it. *

According to scientific statistics the area covered by ice down there has increased, year by year, over the past several years.   Antarctica has more ice than before.   However, this western edge is facing strong warm water currents.

Now what is causing the increase in volcanoes, underwater and around the Ring of Fire?

I guess we’d have to turn from Ice Science to Fire Science.




.*   But don’t worry.  If you don’t know much about true science and you think you might be causing planetary changes in weather,    the outgoing Barack Hussein person, in the last three days of his White House occupation,  just gave away  one-half billion of our dollars to the United  Nations  “Climate”  Fund.

Do you know how much more he has already given away?


January 5, 2017

  Taming that awful bug now; cutting him down to size.   

angry blue germ 25.jpg

I always say we were given Self-Healing Bodies;  that helps,  that  and keeping to a strict regimen of dozing-sleeping-dozing-sleeping-dozing . . .    (Heh heh — or is that just plain self-indulgence?)

Began to “return to the world” and  listen to the radio today and heard the national weather report.  Little Cooper, my grandson, is back at his home now in the Sierra Nevadas.    THAT Sierra Nevadas.   The one the weather service is giving three to five  FEET of snow to  this week!

I texted his Daddy and told him his weather has made our local news.    He looked out  his front door and sent a photo back.


That was the first two feet.   More to come later that day.    And then the three-five feet on Friday/Saturday.     They’re talking ten to fifteen feet in some places.   Not surprising, I guess –  they live near Donner Pass . . .    THAT Donner Pass — the documentary they keep showing on the Weather Channel about the ill-fated wagon train party that never made it over Donner Pass one winter.      Twenty-two feet in that snowstorm.      Cooper lives within a couple miles of the Donner Party Memorial.

Their story is actually worth knowing.  It has some elements of general human importance.      I wrote about it a couple years ago, so you can read the story,  here.    

If you read the story,   you’ll see a beautiful lake in the midst of the forest.   Cooper’s house is on that lakeshore.      It’s all grayed out in the above photo, though;   too much snow in the air.

The Donner Party was caught off guard, but Cooper and his family just take all that snow in stride.   They wouldn’t feel  “buried.”     Cooper shovels snow too.    He has a six-year-old size shovel.   But I happen to know that that area has  mountain-blizzard sized  snow plows!     Loud, horrendously screeching metal behemoths that move mountains of snow off the roads.    The sound still gives me chills.

I had been taking care of him for several weeks one winter, and  I was thinking about ending my stay, making the long, long cross-country drive that would take me home — and then they got one of those snowstorms.   In one afternoon, we went from almost no snow cover to three feet of snow, drifting all over the place.

And forget about driving home!


That was my little blue car,  parked under a car port!     We got more snow that evening and more snow the next day.    For a few panicked moments,  I could almost feel what the Donner Party had begun to experience.     Stuck!  Stranded!  Buried!

“GRANDSON BURIED.”      That’s not what they would say.      They live there and that’s their playground.        “Skiing!!”  is what they would say.


Here’s Cooper on snowshoes a few years ago.    They  have no problem getting around.

We had a baby snowstorm today:  15 degrees;   40 m.p.h. wind gusts, and, oh,  maybe an inch or two of snow.   More weather like that coming this weekend.


It was hard to get just the right photo of the clouds of snow swirling around, but the wind took the snow and made pretty patterns in the air.

Well, it’s winter, and we’re in for it for a while  –  all over the Northern Hemisphere.    How about a trip to the German Alps?   Like this  –


Think how beautiful it all can be!!!


Ahhhh. . .   now I have something lovely to think about as I go back to my couch and doze off some more . . . .



March 2, 2016

(The lady laments):

Just about the same time as  last week.   Another snowstorm.  Like deja vu .

Which is a very good thing . . . .

Somewhere between 9 and 10 inches of snow today.  No need for a ruler this time.  You can see it two postings ago.   9 1/2 inches.     As I was shoveling – again –  I remembered last week’s Snow Bear —


But it wasn’t there today.

Missing . . . .

We had had a couple “warm” days  this weekend so the snow bear I had made went away.  But since I was outside shoveling the same snow from the same driveway,  it just seemed like it should be there.

Which reminds me why this snowstorm is a good thing. . ..

And sorry for the dark photos this time.

My laptop and my desktop PC  are gone today.  Gone like that Snow Bear.   And so , too, is all my software for lightening up photos.   

The snowstorm made it a dark day today.


Big snowflakes.   Dark day.

Dark, dark, dark.  

All the bits and pieces of my brain are in my missing laptop and PC.     So many times today I wanted to check email –  not there –  check the news –  not there –  answer some questions – not there —  find a pretty painting I was reading about — not there.     Dark.

I do love a good snowstorm.   I love having some useful exercise to do.  (I wasn’t planning to drive anywhere,  but shoveling snow just seems – useful.)   I love the beauty that the snow brings, and the geometric patterns on my backyard pond –


Deja vu on watching pond patterns again, I guess.   I’d lighten that for you and turn up the contrast.   But I can’t.

My laptop and my PC both,  AT THE SAME TIME,  “got sluggish” to the point of being unusable.  My PC was giving me very scary messages like “No operating system found.  Press any key to reboot.”      Yikes.

I saw it coming.   But I delayed taking them in.  I couldn’t figure out what I would be doing without them while they were being fixed.

They’re in good hands now.   Geeks.  Real, genuine, computer geeks.   I’m very confident.  They weren’t much for small talk but they had a large computer vocabulary.    They seemed to appreciate having my computers to work on,  like  “Oh, boy –  an interesting challenge.”    At least I hope that’s what they were thinking.  

No one could have more affection for my laptop and my PC than I have.

So,   I’m glad for a repeat of last week;  another snowstorm to distract me, and all the things that come with a snowstorm:  fireplace, reading, knitting,   hot cocoa,  comfort food,  and a little fresh air.

Not much else to do.      I could write about something serious today,  like we shouldn’t rely on computers so much, especially when it comes to voting, like electronic voting where today in Texas the people who cast votes for Trump report that they watched their vote on the screen get changed to another name —

Computers can do funny things to you.   But I can’t think about that much now.

My brain is in bits and pieces on someone’s work bench right now.






February 25, 2016

 (Just a little photo journal  . . .)

I’ve had one long 32-hour distraction!


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 –


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.


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:


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:


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 —


—  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.


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

Everything was covered with snow or painted with snow.


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


Well, as seen through snow falling.

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


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


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


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.


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!

banner for Himself.jpg 27

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






January 26, 2016

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

20 degrees for five days:

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


Time for a little hockey!


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

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

Here it is again:


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Deo gratias.




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 —


—    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.


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.

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:


“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.

Purple ed
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)


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. )


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.


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.


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


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!


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!


March 2, 2014

An approach to the Tunnel:


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



February 28, 2014

I think my Florida family has forgotten the “joys” of winter in the Far North.   So. . . . 

It was a rare sunny day up here in the Far North.   Shortly after noontime,  with the sun trying to be “high” in the sky,  the shadows of the trees stretched across the snow-buried lawn and across my driveway.

RR Driveway narrows

And then I noticed:  the way out of my driveway was narrowing with each passage of the snowplow.   If I didn’t do something, I’d be backing into the snowbanks.

 RR driveway lane

Once I got to the end of the driveway, I wasn’t sure why I bothered to shovel… RR road impassable anyway

Our streets were not going to be easy to drive on.

Neighbors were out, though,  taking snow-walks – carefully in the frozen ruts –  and they were all talkative, all with the same (justifiable) complaints about the long, severe winter we’re having.   I smiled and nodded in rather silent agreement, because I didn’t want to admit what a GREAT winter I think this is for skiing and ice skating and exercise and fresh air and the fireplace and. . . .    (Am I the only one having fun?)

No.  They saw difficulty.  Slipping and sliding,  shivering, shoveling and —  ice dams!   I asked a neighbor if he knew where I could buy a roof rake, which had become quite rare these days,  and he said I could borrow his!

And there started a new winter activity for me with a steep, steep learning curve. RR Roof problem

My little yellow house sure had a need.    And, yep – there are the ice dams forming: RR the roof problem

So now I had my neighbor’s roof rake with a thirty foot long aluminum pole to vault up onto the roof.   I thought about it for a while…thought about things like “technique”  and how can “aluminum”  be so heavy!

 RR  Rake siaze

I got it going, though.

 RR Rake at work

A long, long way up….  RR Pole extending

And if you back up holding the pole,  you inevitably back the bottom end of the pole up into something, and if you do it fast enough you  launch yourself upwards like an untrained pole vaulter.    Move slowly.

 RR Up there working

But I got the hang of it and was making progress.    But my front door was locked.    My side door was blocked.   And I had just closed the garage door so I wouldn’t be getting snow piles in the garage.   Smart.  Too smart.    I decided to keep working and not panic,  but there was that gnawing feeling about the back deck door…..Did I feed the birds that morning?  Had I re-locked the deck door?  Had I locked myself out – out in the cold?  

Ice dams on the back deck.

 RReight of deck dam

An hour more of doubt – an hour more of shoulder-breaking, upward-heaving pole-smacking roof work in the front…squinting against the only sun we had this month (!!)  and then I checked the back deck.

Yes, ice dams there too.  Somewhere between 20 and 30 inches of snow and snow drifts on the roof back there too.

And an unlocked door.

Altogether a good and interesting day.



February 12, 2014

Here’s the smile of a little boy who just skied with the big boys!   

 (L’apres ski d’un 3-yr.old):Ski SMILE

Oh, yes.  Somewhere near Squaw Valley.    If your back yard is the Sierra Nevadas,   you just might end up doing something in the Olympics some day.

(I beg your patience:       that’s a “grandma’s”  opinion.)

And that’s MY Olympic Watch.  

I just might be watching for the next 16 years!


February 9, 2014

Olympic values.

Arete:    Excellence.    The goal of a human being.    (Great advertising slogan:  Be all you can be!)   Excellence.

speed skating

As I watch the Olympic games I notice how often the winter sports present an image of unison.    Above are some speed skaters from some past year;  below are some Olympic Nordic skiers, practicing:

nordic practice

Today I watched the cross country competition  (Nordic skiing).   I had my favorites, but as an extremely amateur cross country leisurely skier,  my eyes were fixed on their form.   Perfect form gives the freedom and ease  that facilitates speed.

As I saw the first half hour of the race, there were dozens and dozens of skiers, all in rows,  all doing exactly the same thing.  Like clones.    As  much as they were individually able to,  they had all perfected the best form for achieving the highest possible speed.

Today, an American broke his ski pole.   That happens sometimes, but what followed is an unfortunate but not altogether unexpected result:  His skis got out of place slightly,  he knocked into another skier slightly,   he got an elbow in his face, lost his sunglasses….etc, etc….and lost too much time to hope to win a medal.    He had been distracted by the necessity of the new ski pole, which of course, ruined his perfect form.

Oh, yes   The sermon.   Once again I didn’t anticipate the new twist today’s sermon presented for us.    It was a familiar passage:  The parable of the Wheat and the Tares (cockles)  (weeds).

wheat and tares

In the parable,  the agricultural foreman reports to the landowner that there are too many weeds growing in the field of wheat.    After some discussion,  the landowner tells the workers to leave them be,  wait until harvest, and when everything is ripe,  He. the Owner,   will send in the experts to judge what is good wheat and what is just cockle and weeds,  to be thrown out and burned.

Take a look at today’s Church.   According to what we read in the news,  the harvest must be very, very close now, because we see such an abundance of “weeds” in the Church.   You can hardly see the good wheat.

But the twist in the sermon today was to turn this field into – not the world (the field)  with wheat and weeds  –  but turn this parable into a kind of self-examination.   You are the field.    Within you you have the good (wheat)  but also, if you’re not careful, you will have some weeds growing:  erroneous thinking,  errors in doctrine,  faulty actions,  bad deeds, lazy attitudes,  etc.


Well, I get a little distracted nowadays.  My thoughts went to this young man,  one of the world’s finest slopestyle athlete/artist on snowboards.    It is excellence in motion.

Just how many times do you think he had to do this maneuver to get it perfect?   As we visualize him practicing, in all ways possible, during all seasons,  for many years,  what was he doing with all these repetitions?   He was learning the good.   He was recognizing the errors and eliminating the imperfections in his form.

He was nourishing the wheat.   He was eliminating the weeds.   Now.      This is what we can do now,  before the Creator of all things decides it’s Harvest Time, and begins eliminating the weeds for us.

This is indeed our time of Mercy.confession

Enjoy the Olympics!   May they inspire us to Excellence!