Monday, April 27, 2009

Life imitating art

Usually when I go to the aerobics class my body flails away at the routine but my mind is totally tuned out, off somewhere else. Frequently I "come too" mid-way through the routine not remembering whether we have some of the maneuvers -- whether it be the Chicken, Toy Soldier, or "Turn Left, Up Down."

Today, for example, I was thinking about the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series that we watched last night. But just before that, there was a promotional for a movie about Winston Churchill...

And that reminded me of a really great movie about Winston Churchill that we saw a few years ago starring Albert Finney and Vanessa Redgrave....

And then I thought about how Vanessa Redgrave is probably one of the most hated actors in certain sectors because of her political beliefs (her and Jane Fonda)....

And then I remember that she is the mother of Natasha Richardson....

And then I thought about Liam Neeson who was married to Natasha Richardson....

And then I thought about the various movies we have seen him in, including a favorite.... Love Actually. The character that Neeson plays in that movie is mourning the recent death of his wife, and at the same time has to help his young son negotiate the minefield of "puppy love."

And now the poor man in must cope with the real life death of his wife, leaving behind young sons.

What a terrible twist of fate.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Fe-cund adj. 1: fruitful in offspring or vegetation : prolific. 2.: intellectually productive or inventive to a marked degree.

All the senses are engaged...

The sounds...

The sights...

the smells....

the colors....

Spring has come on with a rush. It is everywhere outside...

and some of it finds its way into the house.

I put the hummingbird feeders out today. I saw the first ruby-throated hummingbirds about an hour later. I put two more feeders out on the other side of the house. By mid-afternoon, another hummingbird had arrived and the two of them have begun squeaking angrily at each other as they chase each other around the house, fighting over the hummingbird feeders. They don't share or play well with others,

The wrens have an umbrella full of baby birds to feed, and we all day long we hear the parents twittering as they approach the nest with an insect or grub in their beaks.

The cat lurks on the porch and drives them nuts.

A young opossum came to the porch last night for the dog food and apple cores that I leave out every evening. She was so swollen with babies in her pouch she could barely walk. Her belly barely cleared the ground, a veritable watermelon with legs. Most people here hate possums. Indeed, if I still kept chickens, I probably would hate them too. I like them though. They serve a useful niche in the environment.

Besides, they are very clean animals. They always wash their faces when they are done eating.

The horse trader who owns the farm across the road where we walk has resumed horse-trading. A few weeks ago a new mare appeared in the pasture, and she is swelling as well. In the last few days she has been joined by 3 other mares, at least one of which is also heavily pregnant Before too long, there will be spindly-legged foals will be at their sides.

Rabbits have been chasing each other around the front yard. I have a feeling I know what they are up to. The other day our cat was sitting in the driveway watching two rabbits darting about. She crouched down in the typical posture that a cat assumes when it is about to start stalking something. One rabbit took off in into grass by the side of the house, and the other came running up the driveway and stopped about a foot from the cat. She jumped at it and it leaped and took off. She didn’t pursue; it would have been a waste of energy, the rabbit was as big as she is.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Househunting and truth in blogging

So... I go into the pantry-exercise room-study to...well... study.... for the lesson I need to teach at church for the adult Sunday school class...

and I get my books all set up....

and my papers out and I start making notes.

After we finished Revelation, I wanted to do something “easy,” but he (the husband) wanted to study Job. Not my first choice of something to teach, but I am so glad he did and that I listened to him. I am learning a lot, and I hope they are too.

For the unfamiliar: Job was a very wealthy man – a good man – who lost his children and his wealth in one fell swoop, and then eventually his health; and this was a particularly devastating illness involving his skin.

Most of the manuscripts I edit are for journals that cover thoracic and vascular surgery and orthopedics, so most of the images that accompany those manuscripts are of radiographs, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasonography, or are photos taken through an arthroscope. Sometimes the pictures are operations in progress, but these do not bother me, probably because I’ve killed a lot of the meat that has ended up on our plates. I have been recently editing manuscripts for a dermatology journal, and these too come with photographs. Photographs of skin diseases. Some of the pictures I have seen are of skin diseases that are truly horrific. They make me queasy.

When poor old Job talks about his body being “clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering,” I perhaps have a little clearer idea of what that might look like than the rest of the class. Horrific. And when his wife suggests that he go ahead and “curse God and die” she might have been thinking more along the lines of “you are suffering too much. It might be better to die and be out of your misery.”

This story gives one plenty to think about.

Just for a moment I happened to look up from contemplating this, and from the window I see a bluebird is clinging to the front of the bluebird house.

This is what it looked like. This thrills me. Yes indeed. Bluebirds are so lovely. They have set up housekeeping and are raising babies.

But you know how confession is good the soul? Well, the picture is true, but it is not a true picture. By the time I got my camera out, and turned it on, and it whirred and got in focus, the bluebird had gone inside the house and then flew out and I couldn’t sit there and wait and wait and wait for it come back again. So, I swiped a bluebird from another picture and pasted it onto my picture.

Can’t believe everything you see. The Weaver blogged about this a bit in March. Definitely something to think about.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is Risen!

He is risen! Indeed!

He rose, yes indeed He did! but they didn’t.

In a few hours, after the church service is over, we will gather at the fellowship hall to share a meal. I will be bringing various vegetables. For sure, sweet onions roasted with balsamic vinegar, perhaps Brussels sprouts in a sauce of onions and mustard, or maybe mixed vegetables with red Thai curry paste.... hard to decide.

And I decided to make rolls. I bake bread. I bake a lot of bread. At least once a week I make...

pita bread...

or flat bread...

or French bread...

and time after time it turns out just fine. Making rolls should be a no-brainer.

Perhaps I have no brain. I don’t know. The "brown and serve rolls" I made yesterday from my tried and true Betty Crocker cookbook -- the cookbook I got as a wedding present in 1971, did not turn out very well.

Unlike our Savior, they did not rise up. They just sort of sat there. They are definitely "brown." They are, in fact, lumpy, brown balls. They taste great though. Nobody will eat them. And I will bring them home and get out the...

and the...
and none of the calories will count.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Growing where planted

One of the surprising things we found when we moved here was the mimosa tree. Its lacy leaves reminded me so much of the jacaranda trees that were in our neighborhood in Los Angeles. Many mimosa trees have sprung up over the years around the house. The tree does not live very long as trees go, which might explain why it reproduces itself like the proverbial "rabbit."

At the end of the summer, the delicate blossoms with the lovely scent, which are so attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds, produce many seedpods. The seeds fall, and they sprout readily where they are planted, including places where they really do not belong.

This old, old cactus spends the summer outside on the porch and lives in the pantry-study-exercise room during the winter. I was not very surprised, therefore, to notice in recent weeks that a mimosa tree has sprouted in its pot. Of course the tree cannot live in this pot, and if it were not already starting to die, I would pull it out.

I have had this cactus since the early 1980s when it travelled across the country from California in the back of my parent's car shortly after my grandfather died. It is one of the few things I have that belonged to him. He had an amazing cactus garden in the house he lived in before he became physically unable to care for the yard. He and his wife moved into a mobile home park in the mid-1970s, but many of those cactus were dug up and put in pots and went with him. If this was one of them, then the root could be at least 40 years old, or even older. Being aware that nothing lives forever - even cactus - I have periodically cut pieces off and made new starts, and have sent pieces of this old fellow to cousins so they can have a bit of grandpa as well.

Monday, April 06, 2009

April is the cruellest month

And today, that opening line of the T.S. Eliot poem is indeed rather prophetic. Will the frigid weather sweeping down upon us ruin the tender green leaves, and the redbud, and the dogwood (which isn't quite ready to bloom yet), and the lilac?

And the cat is once again seeking out the warmest places in the house to sleep. Everybody who has a cat knows all about how clever these creatures are to find places to sleep that are warm to begin with or that will reflect back their body heat. Squeaker has several such spots around the house... including the top of the propane heater (when it is not on), and top of the dresser curled up on some silky insulated sweat pants that Richard wears when he goes walking on cold days.

At first she just sat on the uninterrupted power source backup that keeps my computer going when we have brown outs or the 2-second power failures that happen with some regularity. I guess the added height gives her a different perspective to view the birds eating sunflower seeds on the platform just on the other side of the window. She leaps up on my work area when she wants to go outside, which is usually within a minute or two having just come inside. But then came the fateful day when I failed to leap up immediately and let her back out.

And I guess the longer she sat, the more comfortable the UPS felt, and before I realized it....

I had other uses for the UPS besides a place for her to sleep... but it was easier to move my frog collection them then fight with her.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Welcome to my world, Baby Girl

Sometimes I have a hard time getting my mind wrapped around the idea that my precious baby sister is now 50 years old.

Her birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and she gave herself a party. For the next 5 months or so, my parents’ four children will all be in their 50s. And then it will be my turn to flip over to a new decade in life, and I am really having trouble getting my mind around that!

I knew for sure that she had arrived this new stage in life when I got this e-mail:

Want to hear a funny story? This is a good one, I think. Every night after my bath I come out to the couch and sit there and put lotion on my feet and legs and hands and arms. Just to try to keep my feet from looking horrible. Last night I rummaged through our cramped cabinet for a new bottle of lotion because I just used up one, and found one that said “Moisturizing” on it and the fragrance was Cucumber/Melon. Started slathering that on and didn't think much of it. Smelled pretty good and felt very soft afterward. After I looked at the bottle more closely, I realized I just slathered on Hair Conditioner. I don't know. I thought it was funny. What a silly goose. These old eyes of mine need help.

Her birthday was the next day, and I tried to call her but got the answering machine instead. And the reason she wasn’t there was because she had gone to that certain theme park where grown-up people dress up in the costumes of giant cartoon characters -- including a certain mouse -- to the amusement of children. One thing I believe about my Sissy is that even though the years may tick on by, she is never going to be an "old woman." She will always be young at heart. She will always have fun.

Another thing she can expect is increasing difficulty with age-activated attention deficit syndrome. That’s were you start to do one thing and get sidetracked. Like not too long ago when I was cleaning the house and swept the floor and needed a dust pan to pick up the pile of debris. The dustpan wasn’t hanging on the hook, so I went on a search for it. It hadn’t gone far – just in the next room – but more than an hour passed before I meandered back through the kitchen and noticed with surprise that the pile of debris was still sitting there in the kitchen floor.

No Sweetie... you are not a silly goose.

You are lovely.... and amazing... and precious.... and I love you very much.