Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Thankful Thursday!

This morning, what fills my heart with joy and gladness is the promise of a plumber on the premises between one and three this afternoon, to deal with the bathtub tap, which is dripping -- no, running -- like Alph the sacred river, and running hot water, at that.  Old-fashioned sink taps I know how to fix.  Fancy-schmancy tub taps, not so much.

So hooray and thank you for plumbers, I say.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Thankfulness some more....

If I were to list all the things for which I have been thankful in the last 48 hours I would probably be liable to vigilante justice or some other form of reprisal, so I will just say that today I am thankful for a little "blip" on the computer, courtesy of my public library local branch, to say that there is a Louise Penny mystery waiting for me on the "Hold" shelf.

Oh, and the smell of cookies in the house.  Pumpkin cookies.  With chocolate chips.  And sunflower seeds.

I think I'll stop  now.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Whatever day this is -- the thankfulness exercise.

Okay -- this will do it for today -- SUN'S COMING UP AGAIN -- an actual photograph from this vicinity just a few minutes ago -- the sun is coming up and I am here to see it.  We'll premise a few other things on those two, later on.

But just for extra -- photograph taken not by me but by Breadperson driving into the city from the bakery, bringing hot and fresh to one or more of our Saturday markets.

We have daylight!  We have bread!  Let's get'er done!

That is all.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In harm's way -- the thankfulness blog-entries

The last 24 hours have been something of a challenge to the Grateful Spirit in this country, but I was reminded again this afternoon of how thankful I am that I live in Prairie Metropolis (and have done for lo! these forty-plus years -- "pretty soon I think I am born here" as the old woman said).

I am thankful to live in a city where bus drivers ease their way in and out of puddles at the curb so as not to drench the passers-by; and where bus passengers disembarking from the rear doors call out "THANK YOU!" to the driver when the doors open.

And I am thankful to live in a city where throughout the day today, our municipal cenotaph was guarded by Canadian veterans in their grey flannels and their blue blazers and their berets and their glengarries and their medals.

I am grateful to live where we can remember a multitude of men and women who have chosen to put themselves in harm's way in order that the rest of us can come and go freely and play frisbee with our children on government property, and not, every moment of the day, fear for our very lives.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Five alive -- the Thanksgiving exercise

Continuing to think about things I'm thankful for.  Last night I said good-bye to one of my three brothers--none of whom lives,is domiciled in this province or the adjacent ones; but the peculiarities of my youngest brother's profession have led to his being in Prairie Metropolis, or in the immediate hinterland, more over the last couple of years than not.

There are -- have always been! -- nearly eleven years between us.  Putting it another way, "I walked the floor with him" (and with his twin -- for their first two years they had the tag-team form of colic, going on more or less night and day), which is pretty comical to remember given that he is now more or less 6'5" not counting the boots.  He and his twin were only 12 when I "got married and left home," and I'd been away from home at university most of the time for the previous five years.  So there is, potentially, something of a GAP.

But this summer and last we have had The Best Time--eating and drinking and talking world without end -- and we have a new joint pursuit as well in these latter years -- the fine domestic art of PICKLING things.  And then CANNING them.  Turns out that my baby brother (my baby brother, the colonel) is a demon in the kitchen when it comes to PUTTIN' UP STUFF.  Especially once we ascertained that the mandolin was strictly off limits to him (he's a south-paw).  We chopped, and we stirred, and we timed things, and we lifted hot jars in and out of the canner, and we listened and congratulated each other as we heard the cooling jar lids "poinking" successfully, and successively, into place.

We made bread and butter pickles.  We made chutney.  We made bread-and-butter-style jalapeno pickles.  And on the most recent weekend, we made our grandmother's Green Tomato Mincemeat.  We made a 1/2 recipe and the yield was SIX QUARTS -- enough for what we agreed would be a MORT of mince-tarts.

And meanwhile we talked. And TALKED.  Literature and music and politics and liturgy and history and MILITARY history and movies and family, and then around the circuit again and again.

He flew homeward this morning.  But I look at this array of shining (and perfectly sealed, please note) jars of good things...and remember hours and hours of good talk.  And am very very thankful.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thankful Four

Reflecting as I drove out this morning to do the first of a short series of errands, that over the last two or three years I have been increasingly thankful for a cadre, or a bevy, or maybe a squad, of amiable and competent young women who are at present clustered around the "party of the first part," here, and bending their impressive talents and efforts to keeping me healthy, solvent, and secure.  We all know it takes a village etc. to raise a child?  I think it also takes a fair-sized village to keep the ol' lady on her feet and on the move.

There is my new physician -- who, blessedly, LISTENS.  And her clinic-pharmacist -- a consultant, whose conversations with me are completely uncontaminated by retail considerations.  (There is also a splendid pharmacist who does dispense my prescriptions but also goes to bat with my insurer on my behalf and sorts out the bureaucrats.)

And there is my new insurance broker, who phoned me a year and a half ago to say, "I think I can save you some money..."  and then did.

And a duo of bankers...who discuss, and advise, and encourage, and then say -- "you go have some fun, and we'll see if we can make you some money, here."

Not to say that there aren't older women, and men, for whose professional skill and generosity I'm not profoundly grateful too. But tonight, I give thanks for "the girls" who brighten my calendar in the ways I've described.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thankfulness, Three

Picking up the theme of thankfulness, again...

I am thankful for the play of the seasons in this part of the world.  (With a possible asterisk against the name of Winter.) But autumn here can be very beautiful, and this year it is.  We have taken pride, municipally, in harbouring what is perhaps the last major stand of un-diseased American elms, here in Prairie Metropolis; and in our older neighbourhoods in the autumn there are still some wonderful "elm avenues" blazing with gold both above and (after a bit of leaf-fall), below.  

We don't have the kind of stands of maple that add so much colour to the Carolinian hardwood forests of eastern Canada -- but the Mountain Ash can muster up a pretty striking red, and there are some ornamental non-native plantings that also vary the yellow of poplars and the coniferous green.

Just at the moment we're promised some Indian summer days over the weekend -- sandal and shirtsleeve weather again and bright although low-angled sunshine.  (Come the winter solstice, the sun will rise a whole splendid eleven degrees above the southern horizon...LONG shadows.)

So even as we mentally batten everything down in the face of "what we are about to receive" meteorologically over the next six months -- there are days of great comfort and pleasure in the outdoor world, to lay to heart and to memory.

And for this I am thankful!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thankfulness some more, Day #2

Considering the question of how and for what we are--for what I am--thankful again this morning.  Staying small-scale for now.  Working up to some sort of cosmic, apocalyptic utterance later (hah!  that at least is the dream).

I am thankful for my cat.  She appears to have had Siamese ancestors; she is black all over, and vociferous.  I think little gold Egyptian ear-hoops would become her, but I doubt she would agree.  Much of the time, or most of the time, she "sleeps at me."  (At this moment, curled up on the sofa next to where I'm typing.)  At night she comes and finds me sometime after I've turned in.  She was a Humane-Society kitten, and on her first night in the house she slept across my throat like a little poultice; the second night she coiled up like a little furry Danish pastry and slept on my ear.

But she doesn't sleep all the time.  Come nightfall, she importunes me for a game of "fetch."  We live in a bi-level house with an open stairway to the basement in the living-room.  Her joy is to persuade me to pitch small balls of paper over the banister and down the stairs, whither she pursues and captures them, trying to make as much noise as a troop of cavalry en route.  How cats can manage to "stamp their paws" remains a mystery.

If I don't respond to her loud invitations to play, she steps up her persuasions, and eventually she will collect all the paper-balls currently in use, and bring them to me like a little dog -- and LINE THEM UP next to my chair.  So there's another mystery.  How does a cat perceive a STRAIGHT LINE?  What moves her to create one?  I'm serious -- three or four little wads of paper all in a ROW.

So for the mystery, and the beauty, and the comfort, and the comedy, of one small black cat, I am thankful.  And now I'll go scoop her box.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Season of Thankfulness

Pastor Kelly at G-Free Rev ( invites us to a Season of Thanksgiving in the gap between the Canadian celebration (this weekend past) and the American one six weeks hence.
Thankfulness has been much on my mind this week for various reasons, some more comfortable and edifying than others -- that's quite another story.  But I'm happy to take up Kelly's challenge and make a start here, at least.
I am thankful again and again for a battery of really substandard, off-code, frankly kinda "ad hoc at best" and "crappy at worst" kitchen utensils that I've grown accustomed to over the years, and come to rely on in a grab-this-first sort of way.
There is my cutting board.  I have a Sunday-go-to-meeting one, but the one that knows the knives best is a slab of 1" X 12" Lauan mahogany, about 18" long, a relic of somebody's rec-room renovation in a bygone decade, I am sure, that I bought for maybe $1 at a garage sale in a posh neighbourhood, years ago.  It fits across my sink and leaves room to scrape debris into a colander below.  It is double-sided.  I have scrubbed it down countless times.  It's faintly cracked here and there, but unwarped.  "Remember now, you're bacteriostatic," I remind it from time to time.
I have a proper big wooden pastry-board too -- but it is neglected in favour of the patch in the middle of the old Arborite kitchen counter where a previous owner's au pair set down a hot saucepan and burnt the &^%* out of the surface.  The ruined section was replaced with a slab of Corningware ceramic, with a neat metal margin around it like a sink fitting.  The best thing to roll out pastry on because it's always cold. And always a safe place to set down something too hot to handle!
An array of battered "Harvest Gold" nylon scrapers and spatulas, scorched and warped and -- from time to time -- rehabilitated by a little scissor-work...and still serviceable!
I might also mention the genuine pre-owned Mouli hand-grater (French) bought back in the last century for fifteen cents in a thrift-shop operated by the women's auxiliary of the Canadian Opera Company back in The Navel of the Known Universe aka Toronto.  They make them in plastics, now, but this is the real tinned-metal dented and battered article.  It has chewed up a lot of Parmesan in its time.
And for all these widgets and who-jimmies I am thankful, this morning.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

hitting the road....

Going out to the car for a fast loop through the closest shopping mall, pharmacy, bank, coffee shop, and then back into the now-packed vee-hickle and THE OPEN ROAD.  

By tonight I should be back in my calf-country, or one segment of it, and snugged down in the motel I've been returning to for, oh, the better part of 40 years off and on.  Not every year, but most.  And then into the hot springs.  Soaking out the aches and pains and perhaps some of the Original Mean.

Hoping to make some gentle side trips away from my base of operations, north or south in the great Columbia Trench, tallying up the visible osprey population, drinking Fair Trade Coffee -- the whole East Kootenay region floats atop a gigantic seething reservoir of Fair Trade Coffee, I believe.  Other places have magma etc., they have coffee.

"Sat" the elder granddaughter last night, Thing One, and we discussed our summer travels; she was quite sure she could "come with" Grandma to the mountains and just maybe we would see a BEAR.  Apparently she canvassed this possibility with her parents over breakfast this morning also.  One of these days, I told her.  One of these days!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday again, woo hoo, I think, anyhow...

Up and full of good resolves this morning, some of which I've even carried out.

It is a constant, repeated (I don't know whether I mean "continuous" or "continual" or both of them) business managing what I need to do, what I want to do, what I have to do, and what I can do -- not to mention "what I FEEL LIKE doing" which usually has nothing to do with any of the above.

Part of this -- I think of it as "ergonomics" in a sense -- has to do with noticing when there is energy and when there isn't -- against a backdrop in which the constant is "less energy than there was, more than there will be" -- which is disconcerting at the very least.

Part of this is learning to ask the question, "What and how much of it do I need to do today in order to feel contented when I turn in, tonight?"  because there will always, always, be more on THE LIST than can be done in one day.  Not to mention more things in the "henh" file.  I am very fond of the concept of the "henh" file. (It contains all those items which you pick up, or remember, or think of, and then say "henh" and lay them down again.)

I have letters to write.  I have nearly finished the laundry.  I have made two business-like phone-calls.  I have scheduled some deliveries.  I have done all the newspaper puzzles over my breakfast this morning -- a sign of sufficient sleep last night.

There is ironing.  There are groceries to manhandle into meal-form before dark.  There are pots to wash, books to read, carpet to vacuum, and a kitchen floor to scrub...and somewhere in there, a walk; and somewhere soon a foray to buy new bedding for a new bed, a brand-new bed, to be delivered next week--very exciting.

And there are books to shelve, papers to sort, archives to shred, garments to mend, projects to complete.

And there is a parish on the horizon--six weeks' interim supply work in last summer's venue, "Little Prairie Town Halfway to the Jumping-Off Place" as we might call it.  Long, long drives every Sunday, but I'm looking forward to it.

But the Blog Post is done.  So now that comes off the list.  It suffices.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Three, and counting

After a fair-ish night's sleep, up in good time and did a complete patrol of the house.  Part of the new daily discipline will be to go into every room of the house, every day -- and when weather allows, to walk the perimeter of the front and back yards, every day.

I am more and more aware that if I do not continue to push -- physically as well as mentally -- into the corners, the corners will draw in and the world will grow steadily smaller and smaller.  As I said to my Helping Neighbour last week -- "I have to cut my own grass just often enough to keep me from thinking 'Oh, I can't'.  Because if I start to believe that, I can't continue to live in the house."  He agreed that that made sense.  Same goes for snow-shoveling, and a degree of house repairs.  Same goes for digging in garden-space.  Push the edges, all the time.

Besides...if I don't look at the rooms, I forget what is in them.  I have too much stuff (I know I'm not alone) but the corollary to that is that one doesn't OWN what one can't FIND.  So, working on that.

Went out midday and had a long catching-up visit over coffee with a good-friend.  We were in a mall coffee shop a long way from home-base -- and still, two or three other people who knew one or both of us came by and joined in the conversation -- it's delightful.

Just before I went out, made a verbal arrangement for six weeks' pastoral and liturgical supply in the wonderful parish I served as interim last summer...will try for 6 - 8 weeks' tenure there starting in September, before the weather and travel conditions become too daunting (it's 200+ km., one way).  Looking forward to this -- looking forward to seeing the dear folks again and the lovely terrain between here and there.

Let us be candid, the "re-MEW-neration" is not unwelcome either!

Then stopped at the library on the way home and handed in TWO books and picked up Roz Chast's memoir of her parents' decline (Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?) -- and just for frivolity, a volume of Carrie Fisher's memoirs.  So there is a lovely varied little stack of "stuff to read," here.

Had a bite of early supper and went off to ride herd on Thing Two, my junior granddaughter, while her parents did chores around the house and in the yard.  We had a fine playtime with snacks and about five books, and then I helped her Mom with bathtime.  Thing Two's sibling is due in about six weeks or two months, so it is timely and appropriate if Grandma hoists the little girl in and out of the tub...  Much enjoyment.  Son Unit and DIL Unit and I accounted for a box of Haagen-Das ice-cream bars -- so home to put the garbage out for early-morning pickup.  Chasing Shackleton on the TV.  What a story.  (What a MAN!  Whoo!)

Tomorrow, I think, at home all day and -- I hope -- working productively.  Library reading -- and I have Slow Church on the reading pile (this morning I bookmarked the videos of Stanley Hauerwas talking about SC -- looking forward to hearing his perspective also).

A good day with lovely affectionate moments to look back on -- helps with the recurrent feeling of being at odds with the ENTIRE KNOWN WORLD, which burbles up from time to time.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Plus Two Days...

Today has been very warm in these parts -- about 85 F this afternoon when I returned home to Tether's End -- but the house had been shut up tight since 8 a.m. and it's only 73 F indoors (without A/C, mind you), and that is pretty easy to bear.  After a bit I'll go and invent some supper.  

I had to take Harriet-the-Chariot (ten year old Echo) in for regular service and some squeaks and rattles; we anticipated it would be an all day session, so there I was on the "funky" south side of Prairie Metropolis, with my tote-bag and my bus-pass and my big shady Tilley Hat -- almost a "picture hat" with a lovely broad brim.

Found breakfast, sat over LARGE coffee with a couple of newspapers (and their puzzles), some reading matter, a folio of letters to write, scrap paper for the making of notes; then sauntered along easily until I was ingested by a notable used-book-store... by sheer strength of character I was able to flee without buying more than 2 books, a Wendell Berry title and a graphic-novel-style biography of Walter Benjamin.  Walter Benjamin is my King Charles's head.  I am determined to find out who he was and what he was important for and why (and whether) I should care.  This last purchase may accomplish that.  But oh dear, I had made such solemn resolves not to buy any more least these were not expensive, nor terribly bulky -- but heavy enough to be a proper penance to carry with everything else in my bag incl. water bottle etc.

More sauntering, and brief bus-riding, and I rendez-vous'ed with a very good friend for a lunch-hour meeting of an interfaith group, to hear a presentation by a "Faith Leader"... we came away debriefing on how intelligent, educated, right-minded, well-intentioned people can be so blithely and unapologetically ... inept. It would have made a classic case-study.  Brains to burn, degrees out the wa-zoo, and they couldn't hit the ground with their hats, two times out of three. (and the Rambler lets it get to her every time, which is HER form of practical ineptitude.)

We came away alive (thankfully, for we had about 45 people in a room which would have held 15 comfortably, and in those circumstances -- ONE doorway -- I can't help but think, "and if there's, say, a FIRE??????") and resorted to a nearby eatery and lingered over a delicious lunch, and got calmed down.

Then ambled away in the opposite direction, stopped off to deliver a book I had long promised to lend to a friend, hopped on a bus and picked up the vee-HICKLE, whose repairs cost less than estimated, AND SO HOME and into the cool, to find a phone message from yet another dear friend--coffee-date tomorrow, and a message about maybe a bit more part-time employment, and today's mail...

I think a quick library run later (two in, one out); and perhaps some laundry; and then luxurious reading until an early bedtime.

This retirement thing is a good gig!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Moving along

Aha.  Back again at 70+1 day.  Got through a Eucharist this morning with active help from "Sound System Guy," "Musician," and "Acolyte," not to mention "Rector's Warden" and others in uncredited roles.  Preached -- about three times longer than I meant to.  I have a strong feeling the congregation was finished listening well before I was finished talking.  However they were polite, and did not retract the honorarium.  We had good coffee afterward and pleasant if desultory conversation.

One of the Rambler's birthday gifts yesterday was a set of beautiful bedsheets.  Of a size incompatible with the Rambler's current bed.  Which has been her current bed since 1967.  Indicating the impatience of her family with her SLOWTH in the replacement of worn-out furniture.

So this afternoon I must ramble forth and take advantage of a momentary mattress sale (but when are mattresses ever NOT on sale, we ask ourself), and then investigate a suitable bed-frame, like, you know, with a headboard and a footboard and side-rails, and like them.

And then grapple with the whole SEQUENCING problem -- delivery of new bedding, delivery of new bed-frame, removal of worn-out bed, possibly ripping up of worn-out bedroom carpet somewhere in the one-two-three-four of that process?

And the lovely Robot Lady at the public library has called to tell me I have a book on hold, so I should pick that up this afternoon also.

And think about some supper, and the week's doings ahead of me.

Avanti! Away I go.  No Sabbath nap this week!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Milestone

As of today -- I have turned the corner into a new decade -- this is my seventieth birthday, and I have very little vision of what that means -- sixty-ish, yes; eighty-ish, yes; but SEVENTY??? 

Partly I want to ask, "HOW did this happen?"  but I know the answer to that one well enough.

I have enjoyed a day of almost entirely untrammeled self-indulgence (well, it's a start....) -- up and a long phone conversation, very affable, with the Father of My Children -- then rushed off to get my haircut -- home and met my neighbour between our two houses and heard him apologize that he hadn't got my lawn cut for me before I cut it myself, earlier this week (it looks a bit like a kindergartener's self-hair-cut, but hey)...then I chased down my weedkiller/fertilizer technician and made him sort out the invoices that he had put in the wrong mailboxes...then I repelled the earnest efforts of the Jehovah's Witnesses (ah, Saturdays in the summer)...then I went to the Library and played on their computers and handed in one book and took out four more, all slender and non-challenging... then I did a little reconnaissance on the dinner-venue for this evening...then stopped at a cafe for a mid-afternoon treat, came home, and in due course got myself out of the house again for supper with 2/3 of my children and 2/2 of my grandchildren, one DIL, one SIL, and the co-grandparents of one of the little granddaughters.
Dinner was Italian, in a right-sized private dining-room where the granddaughters could hoot and holler and play tag around the table when they were tired of eating (Italian food which they both like, and watching the 20-month-old smack the table and demand more OLIVES was a highlight of the evening) after wonderful charcuterie and wine and pizzas and pastas and -- for me -- praline gelato in a bowl about as big as the average washbasin... and lovely cards and presents ... "and so home," like Samuel Pepys...

Tomorrow I'm preaching and presiding again for the first time in a couple of months; must look out a clean black shirt etc. and make sure my vestments are packed and in the car.

Time to take one more look over the sermon notes...I feel very very "guest-preacher-ish" this evening and the sermon is perhaps somewhat idiosyncratic also... But I don't think I'll do them any harm.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

a day to remember...

Well, dear allI would love to strew this post with picture-proof, but I am on a "borrowed device" (public library) and not sure whether I'll EVER have access to my own pictures, documents, etc., EVER AGAIN.
New computer time, in short.  Actually new computer time + 10 days.  Ah, well.
Yesterday WAS ANOTHER DAY, however.  Annie and her intrepid parents and I met at the local summer fair, which has been called all sorts of things, some of them printable, but for the moment is called "K-Days" again.  Do not ask me.  Il ne faut pas chercher a comprendre.  Just take my word for it.
Now a week or ten days ago the Notable Annie, Thing #One, spontaneously expressed an ambition to RIDE A HORSE.  After some dialogue she agreed, "Pony would be better.  Little would be better.  And a seatbelt" (the thought of which makes me helpless every time I think of it).
Are you keeping in mind, O Best Beloved, that Annie is 28 months old???
Inevitably, FATEDLY, not long after we embarked down the midway, there were RIDABLE EQUINES.  Parenthesis here to note that she and Grandma had already met the Clydesdale pair in the farm-animal display...individually in box stalls, with their heads down in the hay-box.  Until they straightened up.  I had just a glimpse of how big a Clydesdale looks to a 2-year-old.  When that big head comes up into view, it might as well be the Kraken.  But "did she tremble, did she blinch?"  She did not...took in the spectacle with utter satisfaction and aplomb.  Heart of a lion, in this little girl.
Back to the RIDABLES.  The usual panoply of pony-sized critters harnessed to a windlass-arrangement, walking solemnly in a circle.  In due course it was Annie's turn.  Her Mommy put her in the saddle and walked around with her while Daddy and Grandma cheered on the sidelines.  First round, considerable consternation on the face (but not distress); second round -- all tranquil and calm; third round, HUGE grin.
Her Mommy reported that throughout the ride, which was substantially long ("Grandma, I went ROUND AND ROUND AND ROUND"), there was a constant inner bubble of delighted laughter in that little mortal frame.
This all bodes delightfully well.  I see clearly boots and a little black velvet helmet in the future.
Oh yes -- and when it was over, and Annie was lifted off -- "Mommy, I think I jus' have to give Horse a Little Kiss"  which she did.  He took it well.
Some other time I'll tell you about the Rubber Ducky game and Annie's triumphant win of a small non-specific green/blue stuffed dog, christened "Loola."  Oh yes, and the sheep-shearing at which Annie interpreted the bleating of the patient...
And a good time was had by all!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A reflection on a non-preaching weekend....

seeing as HOW nobody at this house is preaching tomorrow, I am sympathetically offering a funny of some antiquity to all those of you toiling over three-points-and-a-poem today.  Here's how we do it in the True North Strong and Free: 

February 21, 2008
Canadian Sermon Types, eh?
And now for something completely different...

Neil Young, who pastors Erindale United Church in Mississauga, Ontario, sent us this inventory of sermon styles in the Great White North.

The Maple Syrup: Boils source material down to about 1/50th its starting volume.

The Mountie: When it's most dressed-up, it doesn't arrest anybody.

The Igloo: Goes 'round and 'round until a final capstone is dropped in.

The Curling: Kind of incomprehensible, but everybody seems to have a good time.

The Lacrosse: Fast, hard-hitting, and it's hard to see the points as they're made.

The Hockey Fight: Staggers unsteadily, swinging wildly, but lands a punch or two.

The Canadian: Overly apologetic.

The Snowmobile: Loud and a bit obnoxious, but takes you places you otherwise wouldn't go.

The Beaver: Dams everything in sight.

The Maple Leaf: Has 11 points; always ends up falling to the ground.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Second Day, with some outings...

Today the routine was a little different -- went out to shop for a short list of items, then swung back past the library, dropped one off (Ursula Le Guin), picked one up (Rana Dasgupta), then to the pharmacy for a prescription and vitamin C, to the P.O. to mail a couple of items...and home again.
It's been hot...I've kept windows and drapes closed, will open up everything again tonight and turn on some fans...
Meantime I have finished Barbara Ehrenreich, Living with a Wild God, which was very good indeed (I'd read her Nickel and Dimed earlier).  It would be a great book I think for university student groups...
I am very far behind in reading the periodicals that come in -- but have at least made some "stacks" and can commence to get caught up.
Tomorrow I go out for coffee and some book-talk (Eliot's Four Quartets and John Booty's book of reflections on them); then I have a date to go to the University farm and collect a dozen "heirloom eggs" on behalf of the daughter-family-unit, who are away...they have sponsored a University Chicken this year and collect eggs every two weeks.  Very exciting!
And in the evening, a sit-down with an art-studio group.  I am hoping that the contents of the mending basket qualify me to take part!
And that is all that is new at Tether's End.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Day...

A quick post here this morning; in fifteen minutes this apparatus is turned OFF for the day.  In words repeated oftener than anything else in my memory, "There's going to be a new regime around here!!!"

This is a "statuary" holiday hereabouts, as a friend likes to say.  The sun is shining, the winds are calm, there is nothing ominous in the forecast.  Festivity is imminent all around and about, culminating in "illuminations" on the Big Ol' Bridge tonight, and fireworks.  I intend to take it all on trust.  Standing in a crowd, in the dark, in a cloud of mosquitoes, is not really all that much fun.

But today is a new day.  I have started with a new morning routine.  And a modest frittata (green onions, jalapeno, spinach, cheese, and 2 farm eggs) and 2 pieces of toast (homemade bread).  There is a pot of half-caf coffee on the warmer.  The bed is made, the bathroom is tidy, I am showered and dressed (and medicated and "vitaminized") and insofar as such a thing is possible, READY FOR THE DAY.

A new schedule, a new way of managing time and space and chores.  I am about to sit down with bookbag, reading specs, reading journal and pen, and READ AND READ AND READ.  It may be what I'm all about, from here on.

After while, I intend to go outdoors for a time, with my hat on, and walk in an intentional way.

But not to do errands.  Tomorrow, errands -- library and pharmacy and grocery store and bank and post office. 

Today, I'm reading and walking.  And eating delicious leftovers; cold roast beef and cold potatoes and carrot/cabbage slaw and carrot sticks and hummus and Washington State black cherries.

Then I'm going to read some more.

Back atcha, anon.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

and a glimpse of Thing #2

"Grandma played with me all morning, and now I am just 'zosted."

(Grandma could use a bit of a nap also!)

Monday, June 23, 2014

"Goin' on a TRIP"

The #1 granddaughter is getting equipped for her new status as a Conscious Traveller later this summer.  You see her above, getting into the skin of the role.  I hope travel is as much fun for her as it has been for her Grandma.

Just home yesterday in the small hours from a cross-country jaunt to a major ecumenical conversation.  A new venue that I hadn't visited before, a style of hospitality I already knew very well.  And we had a very fine time altogether.

I have a suspicion that when the time finally comes for Shady Pines, I am going to have a very fine time there also.  Ecclesial gatherings often mean we are assigned rather small, spartan, sparsely-furnished rooms for our sleeping and ablutions -- and invariably I am as happy as a clam therein.  Maybe because a dorm-room was the first space I  thought of as MINE?  who knows.  But it's quite funny, I think.

This was an especially challenging jaunt in some ways because of various symptoms that appeared about 24 hours before departure...despite the lapse of 64 years since the chicken-pox, and the Zoster vaccine a couple of years ago -- SHINGLES.  So the day of departure along with a haircut and a midday church meeting I found myself speed-dating both my own physician and an optometrist (shingles being particularly bothersome around one EYE, where complications can be serious).  

And then picked up a prescription for formidable big blue pills, finished packing, hired the little boy next door as cat-feeder,and off down the highway to the airport. 

The plane was full and I had a centre-seat, between two genial types returning home to Newfoundland, so conversation was very brisk until they worked out "who they were" with reference to each other, and just exactly how crazy HE had been over HER youngest aunt, and like that.  Then they went to sleep, and I tried to, and by about 2 a.m. I was thinking if someone would just open a door maybe I would try walking home--but the cabin attendant brought me some water and I got my little air-blower turned on cool, and managed a little bit of shuteye with some comfort...

Then a limo to the conference centre, and a rendez-vous with a friend of fifty years' standing, and breakfast, and a bit of a nap, and we were into our ecumenical deliberations.  Part of the work at this session was making videos of each of us reading our essays on very basic questions.  Challenging!  I hadn't worked with a teleprompter before -- and of course this was scheduled on the day that the shingles were most conspicuously LEPROUS.  But I had a little sit-down with myself on the topic of Vanity~~and the lovely young woman directing our videos was equipped with face powder and a big brush~~so that went off all right too.

A very special group of people -- theology nerds, to start with, but there are also aspects of "book club," and "writing group" and heaps of benevolentia mutua animorum as the poet Petrarch called it.

The shingles are (is?) improving.  Feeling quite pleased with myself that I thought of taking my good old-fashioned icebag with me--our hosts showed me where the big icemaker stood in their back kitchen, and on the way home a kindly bartender filled the icebag one final time,so that I could keep everything happily numb throughout the four-hour flight.  I had a row to myself this time, so could stretch my legs and wriggle about as I pleased.

Now emptying bags and working at re-organizing the permanent "go kit" in each of them, and then it's time for the post-trip paperwork...and, in due course, back to the rhubarb fields!


Sunday, June 15, 2014

"full of sap and flourishing"

And the end of a rather pretty but not terribly accomplishing kind of a Sunday draws near -- 10:15 p.m. and the sun just setting, lots of light still in the sky, and almost a week left to run before the solstice.

Trying to put some order into my days and nights here, to not very much avail; but it's becoming clearer that certain things like medications and daily tasks will have to be assigned to specific regular times every day.

And one of those tasks will be CALENDAR DRILL.  Twice in the past week I've simply gone oblivious of events I really quite wanted to, and intended to, be present at, and enjoy.  They were written on the calendar -- but I was somehow mesmerized by the thought of a FREE DAY with NOTHING ON THE SCHEDULE, so I forgot what WAS on the schedule, and there you are.

However I did manage today to lay out the daytimer, the weekly white-board calendar, the four-month white-board calendar, and make them all talk to each other.  And then I found time and energy to extirpate a certain number of dead or dying houseplants.

And I did also manage to do a kind of cursory inventory of the pantry, and a survey of the grocery flyers, and then went out to one Wholesaler, one greengrocer, two supermarkets, and the (sh!) liquor store, so we are all well stocked for the moment.  "We" being self and cat, you understand.

Tomorrow I have to pick rhubarb some more, and deliver it to the processors. Then I have: one seminar, two meetings at different sites, and supper with #1 Grandbaby and her parents...all grand and good!

And part of the attempt to improve the shining hour is a return to Morning Prayer.  The title of this post was in this morning's Psalm, Old Style,as a Blessed and Graced Condition of the elderly.  It might have needed the Oxford comma,but as it is I like the ambiguity, being,most days, "full of flourishing," if not "sap."  (Query: is "sap" perhaps the Hebrew equivalent of the better known P and V???) (or maybe "beans and gravy," if that's your locution?)

So for today, "that's all,folks....."

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Haven't had much energy the last couple of nights to catch up on the blog...

But it's been a nice week of new experiences.  Tuesday turned out to be the Ultimate Retreat Day.  Very simple recipe: alone in a friend's elegant house full of soothing eye-space, big windows; the world's most comfortably supportive chaise longue; a sturdy carry-bag full of fat library books; and a gracious, warm, drowsy schnauzer.  And NO ELECTRONICS.  No screens.  None.  The schnauzer and I read, and slept, and slept, and read, and had one hurried 8 block walk between rain squalls.  Finished the fat library books.  The dog may have been reading while I was asleep.  We took turns.  He was certainly sleeping while I was reading.  Absolute bliss and relaxation.  

Wednesday for a complete change of pace, the Rambler became a Rhubarb Rescuer, equipped with large plastic bags and a little note of two addresses where there was rhubarb that the owners didn't want or need.  The first address there was a small patch of rather scrawny but brilliant ruby rhubarb.  That didn't take long.  The second address there was a rhubarb patch the length of the garage, and anywhere between 20 and 50 years old.  Picked more rhubarb than I could comfortably carry, and that was ONE I conferred with the owner for follow-up visits.

Second part of the day was to take all 35 pounds of rhubarb to the processors, a quartet of women at work in a community-league kitchen, making exotic amazing jelly out of rhubarb juice.  The batch of the moment included juice, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, hot sauce--and I arrived just as they were about to add the GIN.

So I had some exercise outdoors and I engaged with six total strangers, including the grandmother of triplets (because Moms'n'Tots were playing in the hall next to the Rhubarb Kitchen) -- NINE if you count the triplets -- not counting the hard-hatted workmen from Prairie City Power who came down the lane by the rhubarb patch to clear brush from around the power lines.  We exchanged pleasantries and rhubarb recipes and they looked muscular at me and made their bucket-hoist go up and down, you know, the typical exchange between the sexes.  All very amiable.  Part of the campaign Not to Become a Recluse now that I've retired.

And I have several pounds of lovely prime rhubarb to process for myself.  But I think I'll just drink the gin on the side....

Monday, June 9, 2014

A quiet Monday, again.

It has been a relaxed sort of day ... recuperating from yesterday's hefty drive (240 km), chatting with friends...then off to the noon hour seminar for a further reading and discussion of St. Augustine, De doctrina christiana; we're into Book Four, batting to and fro Augustine's theories about rhetoric, his rhetorical analyses of Scripture, his "helpful hints" to preachers.  One of the other attendees is a retired English teacher -- and a former parishioner of mine -- we consider ourselves to be members of the same union as St. Augustine and we have a great time with our "shared interests."  There is just one more meeting in this session, next Monday, and we were in no hurry to rush away at the end of the hour, so wound up just sitting in the empty classroom and trading stories and perceptions about the art of teaching...and students we are glad to remember.  And others.

The question had been raised earlier as to whether preaching is primarily paedagogical or hortatory.  Are we informing? or are we SWAYING people to take action?  (Or are we just being as entertaining as possible so that they don't start meditating on tar and/or feathers?)  I don't know.  I think when I preach it is always fact I think the paedagogical exchange is my primary model for human connection.  Teach me something, and I'll love you forever.  If you have nothing to teach, sit down and I'll teach you something.  If that isn't on the cards either -- "get off my porch."

When we finally gathered up our stuff and took off-- I had papers to pick up, background stuff for a national meeting next week, and then looked for some lunch, wound up eating half and getting half packed up for supper, and off for coffee with a friend and instructions for dog-sitting tomorrow.  And so home.  

Sunday, June 8, 2014

When you come to the end of a pretty good day...

It was a happy Pentecost -- up very early with lots and lots of time to get everything ready to go -- out of the house about 9 a.m. and arrived at The Church of Two Names an hour and a half later.  An easy drive, blazing sunshine, just one stretch of highway where paving is happening: an interlude of the stink of tar, and the rattle of "loose chips".
The route is not one I've taken very often, but it is a kind of thrill to swing northward toward a whole array of sonorous destinations, with "Alaska Highway" at the foot of the list ... and the thought that I just might could run away altogether, if I took the notion.
Arrived good and early for the service; the church is next door to a large Roman Catholic church: "Cage match -- Spiritual Ecumenism vs. PARKING SPACES".  I went around and around a couple of blocks, and, true to form, the minute I parked, turned off the key, and opened the door, that was The Signal ~~ Ite, missa est ~~ they all came out and drove merrily away.  It's actually kind of a municipal tradition in this community. 
Preached on the Holy Spirit as the Inconvenient Infrequent Conflagration AND the unquenched unnoticed essential pilot light, and how that manifests itself in language, in speech.  It seemed to go down well... Fluent instantaneous Pamphylian, vs. five words in a row that make sense.  I worked off a sustainable sermon-text from about five years back...
We were  a small group, about fifteen, service went smoothly around and over the inevitable idiosyncrasies.  Pleasantries were exchanged, and off down the road for home, stopping on the way for a good, healthy, late, lunch (in a restaurant, yet, conscious of the honorarium in my pocket).
I was full of yeasty ambition to continue working in the yard, but instead had the usual nap and am about a third of the way into The Lords of Finance.
Time now for a little snack, a little tidying in the kitchen perhaps, another kick at the laundry situation, and so to bed.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Winding up, one more time...

It's very late -- it's actually Sunday -- but I slept earlier in the evening, and I have a few things to put together for tomorrow morning, a one-shot assignment to a parish 120 km from home, more or less, whose interim priest just can't make it work,tomorrow, on top of what else he is responsible for in his own parish.

So we'll have good word on what the Holy Spirit is up to -- the spectacular vs. the totally unnoticed -- and let that suffice (it generally DOES, is the message, more or less.  Suffice, that is).

Today felt very Saturday-ish...hairdo, bank, gas in the vee-hicle ("Harriet the Chariot"), dropped off a prescription for refill, and then went to the Library to pick up a heap of "holds" -- and of course found a couple of other things just crying out to be borrowed.

Then the cumulo-nimbus helpfully rolled in, preventing me from doing any more yard work -- Friday what with the yard and to and from the Library I walked 7,500 steps, and today every time I stand up I feel like an old ironing board that had been left out in the rain -- so I came home and contemplated this heap of library books and put DUE DATE sticky-notes on them all.  Picture me launching into #1: Lords of Finance, which is due on the 12th.  I'm going to know a whole lot more about the gold standard, and the IMF, and Bretton Woods, and central banks -- and, inevitably, the four Great Bankers the author says he has chosen to focus on.  I was amused but NOT surprised to see that there is as much about John Maynard Keynes in the book as about any of the four.  Now there WAS a man.

Also eying two recent arrivals from Amazon minions -- Glyn Maxwell, On Poetry; and The University: An Owner's Manual, by Henry Rosovsky.  Having a mild and entirely unrequited passion for both topics.  

And then I had to rush out before they got to the actual horse-race, and go sit upon the beautiful #1 granddaughter.  We had a fine evening with a quick trip to the park, a leisurely bath, great story-time...she went into her bed perfectly contented and then told herself stories quietly for about another half-hour, as I could hear from the monitor.

The language development is a continuing delight...not just vocabulary but SYNTAX, hot damn and hallelujah.

Good Pentecost, everybody.  She's got your back, remember.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Evening sunshine, again...

Well -- we got through a whole day, today, without rain -- the first for a while -- so it seemed like a day to be outdoors as much as possible.
I got the last of the current list of thank-you letters written just as a robo-call came in from the Public Library reminding me that there were on-hold items to be picked up.
So with pedometer strapped to ankle (I've tried the waistband, but unable to keep pedometer in place owing to lack of...a waist) -- and bookbag in hand (water bottle, Tilley hat, sunglasses, etc.) off I went on foot to the closest branch of the library.  Picked up my four books, checked FB (the library computers are faster than my old laptop) and then on the way home popped into Second Cup for coffee, grilled sandwich, muffin, and a peaceful read of Frances Fyfield's Let's Dance -- P. D. James recommends FF's fiction (they're friends as well as colleagues) -- I think this title, a suspense novel, comes into the sub-genre of "dementia fiction."  A little of which goes a long way!
Eventually, home by way of a mailbox where I dropped off eleven letters -- keeping the tradition alive, folks!  Stamps on these: an artful combination of The Queen (63 cents) and Useful Insects (10 cents and 2 cents) to come up to the current price per letter of 85 cents (robbery).
Then unlimbered the big long extension cord, and the less SCREAMY of the two weed-whackers (how did I wind up with two weed-whackers? a mystery), and cut a swathe down one side of the back yard, grass and weeds and poplar suckers there being all about a foot or 18" tall.  It's a start.  My arms got shaky, so I stopped at that point.
And now supper -- a little stuffed veal "thing" from the supermarket -- a tomato -- some carrot and pepper strips and guacamole -- and a vegetable combination, chiefly zucchini.  
Sermon is ready for my guest stint on Sunday -- so after supper -- read, and read, and read, and read.  And maybe push the laundry, just a bit.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reading as an avocation...

I am sitting in the slant rays of the evening sun -- it won't go down yet for about another two hours, at this season, so it's both very pleasant and very inconvenient for reading or--indeed--looking at screens, computer or television.

So I have given up on reading for the moment, tired of squinting but unwilling to draw the curtains against this lovely light after a cold, wet, windy, miserable day -- and am glaring instead at a solid double armload of library books.  I've just confirmed that four of my "HOLDS" are ready for pick up at the local branch; and I've put a hold on yet another volume.

It was an epoch-marking day when I learned how to manage my library book account on line.  The collaboration between GREED and TECHNOLOGY produces awesome results.  So far, alas, it hasn't produced PHYSICAL FITNESS, although the closest branch library is a feasible, if long, walk.  But there has been such a disproportionate amount of foul miserable weather that even since the snow and ice disappeared there have been few days when hiking out with a book bag has appealed.

Before I gave up, temporarily, just now, I was reading P. D. James's diary/memoir, Time to Be in Earnest, written over the year that she was 77.  It's a  bookshelf companion to May Sarton, Turning Seventy.  I'm trying not to consider either of them an instruction manual, but...  The quality of these women's prose is an antidote to Twitter -- and even to Facebook; I don't think I need any more practice in 140-character snark, as a genre, if that's what it is.  Although there was an interesting Tweeting exchange earlier with Alan Jacobs over the status of YA fiction vis-a-vis "literary fiction."
Still mulling over that question, muttering under my breath just a bit.

I know that in my lifetime the reading of "literary fiction," if that label has any meaning at all, has had a lot to do with my formation.  (I was going to say "maturation," but let us not kid each other, here.)  And in P. D. James this afternoon, I found this from Henry James--no relation, of course!--writing about Anthony Trollope: "We trust to novels to maintain us in the practice of great indignations and great generosities."  And that catches it, just about exactly, I think -- by contrast with social media, which maintain us in the practice of our Daily Snits and Hourly LOLs. I can't remember who said that we check FB in the morning to verify who it is we're supposed to despise, today.  Not enough, to keep the mind, or the heart, or the soul, alive.  Not alone, anyhow.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

All you hungry campers...

"Today is Wednesday, Today is Wednesday, Wednesday SOU-OUP..."  according to the old campfire song, anyway.  No actual soup on the menu at Tether's End today.

An undecided sort of day -- brilliant sunshine very early, then heavy, racing, threatening clouds, now some of both.  Do I go out for a walk!??  Do I seize shovel and get all seriously gardinacious before my poor bedding plants die of sheer boredom??? Do I go out to the kitchen and cook and eat accordingly?  Do I burrow into this impressive heap of library books?  Do I go back to my desk and attend to the now-definitely-due thank-you letters I need to be writing?

Retirement is challenging (Platitude of the Day). On Sunday at noon I wrapped up the most recent interim appointment after three months of half-time duty in a small parish in a small town ninety kilometers from home (exactly ninety kilometers, and exactly fifty-seven minutes, every single trip).  At this point, beyond a single Sunday-supply appointment on Pentecost in another small parish, in a small town, rather more than ninety kilometers from home, there is no word of a further interim assignment.

So the cassock has gone to the dry cleaner, and the surplice is in the laundry "whites" pile downstairs, and the stoles are up on a hanger in the spare-room closet, and the prayer books and the communion kit are tucked away on a shelf, not too high. 

And I contemplate the possibility that I may now, in the fifth year after retirement from full-time parish ministry, really be, really and truly, RETIRED.  Which gives a bit of perspective on the exercise of ministry, perhaps even some of that 20/20 hindsight stuff.

I was a curate, part-time, for about four years; ten years in full-time ministry as Rector, Head of Staff, Senior Pastor~~whatever your nomenclature~~and I've been an interim parson since February 2010.  Since then I've served six parishes, part-time: three in the city, three in the hinterland.  And the difference from full-time ministry has been staggering.  I've been relaxed; I've been comfortable and unanxious; I've been -- happy! (I KNEW there had to be a word for it).

And there has also been a difference in the climate, the ethos, of the parishes I've served.  The folks have been warm, and friendly, and appreciative.  Now have I been happy because the people have been different?  Or, as I very much suspect, have the people been different because I've been giving off a very different vibe?  And if that's the case, where the heck was that vibe during the previous ten years!?!?

When I took leave of St. Thaddeus, on Sunday, we had a potluck lunch of ESCHATOLOGICAL splendour--you know, where everyone finds what s/he most enjoys--and there were PRESENTS -- a photograph of the church, and a bushel of flowers, and a beautiful hand-crafted pen -- it looks like byzantine jewelry, but it's decorated with tiny little electronic components I couldn't even name -- and a little trousseau of hand-knitted things, hot pads and dishcloths and a SCRUBBY which I can use on my saucepans or my heels, whichever needs it more. 

There were also speeches, on the general theme of "We've tried to figure out how we could JUST KEEP YOU ALWAYS" and there were very elderly retired farmers saying very quietly, "You know -- we JUST LOVE you" and the wives of elderly retired farmers telling me how much they and their husbands have enjoyed and been moved by the sermons ("You reduce him to tears, every time, Crimson").  And finally one Mother-in-Zion who leaned in close and said, "I probably shouldn't even say this, BUT -- your HAIR looks WONDERFUL."

Somehow I could not dredge up any impulse to re-assert my Personal Boundaries under those conditions.  I just sat down and mentally rolled around in the ambient goodwill and affection and praise.  Perhaps that means I really am somehow "too far gone" to exercise ordained ministry with appropriate professionalism.

But I don't really think so.  Now I will go and write some more thank-yous.