Thursday, January 24, 2019

Emerging from the mist...

Like the well-remembered Grendel’s mother—make that “Grandmother”—to confront (yet again) the Four Horsemen of the (domestic) Apocalypse.  Pictured above.  This morning, I think, they personify “Dirty, Dark, Dilapidated, and Deferred.”  The secret here is to set limited goals, limited goals, for the day ahead.  About four tasks—putting together a cleaning kit I can carry from room to room; running amok from front door to back door with one or more vacuum cleaners (NOT simultaneously, picturesque though that might be.  Also loud); three quart-jar salads for lunches through the remainder of the week.
One foray into the community to bank and library and pharmacy—and any other energy that appears, undesignated, goes into correspondence.
OK, here we go — let’er rip!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Things avian, and related

It was an amazingly good summer in many many way -- lots of travel -- lots of contact with friends and family -- and even measurable progress on a few projects here at Tether's End.  (Not enough, mind you, but that's one of those Eternal Verities, I believe).

The first expedition involved Thing #2, aged FOUR AND A HALF as she was happy to inform the people we met.  In defiance of smoke and flame (presumably) and more smoke, we headed across the Rockies toward favourite spa-place nestled on the edge of the Columbia Trench.  A big birdly feature of that blessed vale is the OSPREY, as pictured above.  Thing #2 established rapport with ospreys ("osprey-ers" in her take on the world) on our trip last summer, and was delighted to see more of the same on this trip.

A highlight for Doting Grandma was watching her observe an osprey family in and around their nest atop a pole just on the edge of a children's playground... and she took the opportunity to deliver a lecture to the other children (total strangers) on what those noises were, and what those birds were, and what they were doing, and why.  Accurate and voluble ornithology...

And as we traveled upstream and downstream along the course of the big river -- we were lucky to see clearly either two kingfishers, or one kingfisher twice...

Swimming in various hot pools, Thing also registered the presence and activities of SWALLOWS, various, a family that hadn't really made an impression on her until now.  Much excitement.

During another side trip at a higher elevation in the National Parks...there on the path was a CLARK'S NUTCRACKER.  Much joy.

As a kind of culmination we dropped into a pleasant giftshop in search of mementos for our stay-at-home family...there were numbers of bird-ish objets d'art, recognized and exclaimed over, and explained in terms of our experience of them to the somewhat startled proprietor... As the recital of what we had seen, and what we hadn't seen (yet) unfolded, the shopkeeper presented Thing with a wonderful gift... the National Geographic full-color, double-sided, fold-out, plasticized chart of "Birds of the Rocky Mountains."  AND declined to be paid for it... so much handier than a BOOK, although Thing is pretty adept with Peterson's Field Guide, at that.  She continues to pore over her bird chart and recall what we saw.  And didn't see, yet.  "But NEXT summer, Grandma..."

Another day, I'll tell you how Thing went whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River.  Yes.

Monday, September 4, 2017


After a very long silence due to equipment failure...and missing my blog very much indeed -- I'M BAAACK...

And enjoying pretty much Earthly Bliss...a lovely new iPad which I'm just getting acquainted with...a statutory holiday...a tidy house (well, barring a few Fisher-Price antiquities left in the wake of Things #1 and #4, who were here for supper with their Mom last night)...a fridge full of sumptuous leftovers (see above)...sun shining... and an all day TV marathon of my favourite programming--HIGHWAY THROUGH HELL.  And the unequaled Al, assisted by the unequaled Gord,  is putting a four-fold snatch block into play in response to the G**awful mess at the bottom of the very long off road slope...

With, of course, the most beautiful scenery anywhere as a backdrop to all the DRAMA.

And the airbrakes on the object of the exercise are locked (of course: a prominent feature of a Fallen World is locked-up airbrakes) ... in short, "Earth hath not anything to show more fair."

It's good to be back. More, later.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

January.... random thoughts

 Back at the Library.  I love it, also the Librarians...and home-time is a lot more productive WITHOUT access to the Internet, go figure out THAT little phenomenon if you will.

Had a fine morning at in-town parish, contributing to our collective ministry as a distribution depot for the city Food Bank.  My role (barring emergencies) is to encourage the volunteers (who are brilliant) and do a little outreach by firing up ecclesiastical charcoal and sage (wild picked, I believe) to offer "smudge" to our visitors, come to pick up their groceries.

That was particularly joyful this morning as we had a large number of clients for whom "smudge" was part of their culture'n'customs.  Nobody seems to mind that a European-settler-type-person is fanning the smoke with a feather.  And we have mutually affirming conversations, if only about our aches and pains (or our grandchildren).

Having a very interesting time with grandchildren this winter.  In the fall I embarked upon the "extended play" version of the Ignatian spiritual exercises -- some days it's toilsome, but I'm glad I did, finding it all very stimulating.

In the meantime I continue to visit The Granddaughters on two evenings of each week, putting the elder GD units to bed in their respective households.  One particular evening the eldest of all, "Thing #1," had had an especially trying end-of-day, and without any premeditation on my part we got into a conversation about "TIRED," how we both were, in fact, and how CRANKY that made us...and I heard myself saying, "Why don't we take all your cranky, and all Grandma's cranky, and mash them together in a ball" (suiting the action to the word)"and on the way home tonight I'll roll down my car window and throw them out to bounce away into the dark???" and Thing #1 entered into the spirit of the thing immediately, and said, "And a HUGE TRUCK will come along and SQUSH them away."  

So we did that....

And at our next session, I just asked, "Is there anything you'd like Grandma to throw away for you tonight?" "Yes, all my Whining, and my Not Good Listening, and my Fighting..."

And halfway home I thought, "great suffering cats...I think that was the Ignatian Examen...almost-four-year-old version..."

So it's become a ritual, and a happy one.  We've expanded it, to include recollection of the happy parts of the day, also rolled up and left under the pillow for recall in the morning...

And here is a reference...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

On the baptism of the Lord, and so forth

Had a good time this morning discussing the lectionary readings as reassurances for those "afraid of the water"... and talking about cultural images of "Jesus standing in line" and taking everybody by surprise.

A beautiful drive both ways.  Weather has warmed up spectacularly overnight but temperature was still below freezing on the way 'out' this morning.  So everything on both sides of the highway was delightfully frosted over.  I am accustomed to the lovely "apple-blossom" aspect of mountain-ash trees, leafless, with the berry clusters covered in snow.  But this morning was the first time I recall seeing willows with their vivid early-spring stems likewise veiled in white -- the resultant colours were like saltwater taffy...implausibly beautiful.

Some raptors to be seen, along the way -- a nice change from the all-prevalent corvids...only two bison quite a long way from the road as I was coming through the nat'l park...and a couple of ponies kicking up snow at each other in a paddock.

It has grown warm enough as the afternoon comes on to make the road surface mucky -- I need to refill my windshield washer before I quit work for the day.  And it would be prudent to clear my walks while it's nice and mild also.

Some cooking-projects await my arrival at home...and I'm down to about the last 100 pieces of the 1500-piece monster jigsaw I've been assembling this week.  A good, quiet, scaled-down kind of an evening.  Happy sigh.  "Savouring the graces," as they say.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Winter fauna

Do 'fauna' include birds?  I suppose they must.  In any event there was a fine vocal magpie in the backyard grove this morning declaiming in Anglo-Saxon: "Hwaet!  Hwaet!  Hwaet!"  I didn't have time to stop and explain "Hwaet" was going on, unfortunately.

We have had pictures and reports of a number of unusual birds in the area this winter -- a yellow-shafted flicker, and more spectacularly, a gyrfalcon... There is a Christmastide bird-census, but I've never yet taken part.  (They don't use the long form, I understand.)

Guest once more of the blessed library...and grateful for it.  Time to fly away and free up this terminal for some other happy soul.

Happy "Baptism of the Lord," tomorrow, everybody.  Remember, your cue is, "Jesus stands in line."  All else follows from that.  You have been told.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Sliding into the New Year, or Slouching toward Bethlehem, or possibly just Slip-sliding Away.

Back in the blessed Library again, poised between handing in the books/DVDs that are due, taking out replacements -- in the meantime, getting caught up on inter-web-doings.

Pondering the tensions around the theological idea of Special Providences.  

It's an uncomfortable idea from my theological POV -- I kind of second Sydney Smith's scorn for special-providence-watchers, "The Lord found me a job, the Lord found my keys, the Lord kept my cake from falling in the oven..."  Our man Sydney seems to have felt that the Lord might well step into history in order to adjust matters at the imperial level, I think--but it would be unseemly to imagine divine intervention in the mundane minutiae of our daily lives: a short route to self-delusion and egomanias, various.

So now I am wrestling with the Ignatian aim of "seeing God in all things" ... and I know the good saint did not mean "seeing God in all things that turn out to suit my convenience and my preconceptions" ... but there is still some discomfort swirling around that aim.  I mean, I can grasp that it would be a grace, to "see God in all things," but in so doing I'd just as soon not behave like (what I conceive of as) a complete idiot.

And if it's not utterly blasphemous to say so, I have to wonder whether the Almighty has not undertaken to tease me with phenomena (illustrating his perceptibility in all things) that severely challenge my notions of divine decorum.  More often, it seems, I am confronted by divine, well, CORN.

Case in point.  I am zipping along a nearby highway, through a pleasingly wintry landscape, and pondering very lightly on some questions regarding the Holy Spirit, when I am passed by an entirely solid, concrete, actual, tangible tractor-trailer unit (or an eighteen-wheeler, if that's your vocab), bearing in large unmistakable lettering this label...


Trying now to identify the form of prayer that can begin, "Oh, come ON...."