In Remembrance of My Mother-in-law

Betty was the mother to five children. She taught them this poem. When I read it from a book of poetry to our children, my husband remembered it from his childhood. With Thanksgiving upon us and table manners on display I thought you might enjoy it.

I believe the version in our children’s book of poetry read as follows:

The Goops they lick their fingers, and the Goops they lick their knives; they spill their broth on the tablecloth; Oh, they lead disgusting lives. The Goops they talk while eating, and loud and fast they chew. So that is why I am glad that I am not a Goop. Are you?

Gelett Burgess

It is said you must read this with dramatic voice and emotional emphasis. Will you be reading this at your table? I think table manners are a lost art. Perhaps it involves too much corrective guilt?

Yes, Bernini!

When my husband took me to Paris the museums were breathtaking. I was stunned in the Louvre when I saw this sculpture in bas-relief.

Bernini, Paolo – https://collections.louvre.fr/CGU

Created in 1665 it moved me almost to tears. Depiction of Jesus as a baby playing with nails and a hammer. Well of course, Joseph was a carpenter, but what absolute inspiration for Bernini!

Bernini, Paolo – https://collections.louvre.fr/CGU

In case you missed it, the head of the hammer is between his hands, under the nail. The longer I ponder it, the more poignant this sculpture is for me.

The very idea of creating something like this from marble amazes me. How this inspiration came to him brings more fascination.

These photos were downloaded from the Louvre online site. If you ever get to travel there, be certain to look for this one!

It took me quite a while to find the name of the sculpture, especially since it was in French. L’Enfant Jésus jouant avec un Clou Was fairly certain I remembered the name Bernini. Turns out there are at least two Berninis made famous by artwork! If you want to read the inspiration this created in another blogger, click here https://parkerwindle.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-baby-who-plays-with-nails.html

Gin-Gins and My Weird Connections

This morning when I opened my computer the Bing page had a grand photo of a manatee. Sadly, it said use of the photo was for wallpaper only. Their page with manatee date is located at https://www.bing.com/search?q=manatee&form=hpcapt&filters=HpDate:%2220211115_0800%22

I have had a fascination with manatees for many years.

Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), Crystal River, west-central Florida, U.S.A.

The idea of a sea cow seems to me something that only God would think up for amusement! I was amazed that some translations of Exodus 26:14 refer to building the tabernacle using the skins of manatees. Others translate as seal skin, fine leather, goat skin, badger, ram, sheep, porpoise. I was told by a young graduate of Bible college that the Holman Christian Standard bible may be the best translation that we have. You guessed it, they translate Exodus 26:14 manatee skin.

Here are two previous blog entries about manatees and water bears.

microscopic Tardigrade, Water Bear

I find the world just fascinating! Treasures every place we look. Below are links to two previous posts about these animals.

https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/185

https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/1728

Checking out recently at Cracker Barrel restaurant these candies were at the register. I took one look and bought them. Not only do I like ginger, but I found the cartoon on the box irresistible! You will draw your own conclusion 🙂

Oh Lord of sea and sky, thank You for blessing us with amusing animals. Help us to keep the rivers and seas habitable for the manatees. Thank You for cartoonists who delight me. I praise You for the tardigrades around me that I never even see. You are an amazing God.

Then I hear the Dan Schutte song made popular at The Walk to Emmaus retreats, “I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry, all who dwell in dark and sin, My hand will save.”

Advent Came Early

There are many traditions around Christmas trees and Advent. Advent is approximately 40 days before Christmas and commemorates the birth of Christ and His coming again. Some sources say it provides a time for us to prepare our hearts for Him in the midst of the Christmas rush. If you want a resource for Advent meanings, prayers and traditions you might refer to this link https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/christmas-and-advent/the-beautiful-meaning-and-purpose-of-advent.html

There was a time when Christians did not put up a tree until Christmas eve. This year with our household being likely the first one in our neighborhood with a tree up, decorated and lit we have broken all kinds of traditions. However, being retired and not caught up in the “Christmas rush” of past years, this has given me an opportunity to think on the birth of Christ and His coming again in a new way.

Recently at our sharing group among the Transfiguration Associates I shared my thoughts about placing an angel on the tree top or crown? Pondering why I would want the glittery crown I was reminded of Bible teachings such as King of kings, and Lord of lords, Prince of peace, the many regal titles given to my Lord.

In the evening we have lights under the edge of our kitchen counter. They calmly twinkle in many colors. I see them reflected in the glitter on the treetop crown. And I am drawn into “Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon the Throne.”

Our discussion also covered a Scriptural discussion about angels. The angels in the Bible are described as looking like men and having a huge presence. Most of our ornamental angels look like women and are depicted in flowing gowns. I assured my friends that there are plenty of angel ornaments on our tree as well as around the room. I am thinking this crown is just the thing to keep my heart and mind on celebrating the coming of my Lord!

I have seen trees decorated with flowing ribbons. I am thinking of placing ribbons on our tree with the titles of Jesus written upon them. Stay tuned for a posting if I actually do that! In the meantime, Our tree is adorned with a crown to remind us Who our hearts bow to.

The traditional Advent themes are hope, preparation, joy and adoration. I am praying that Bob and I will celebrate those things as we await His coming again in glory. May your home be filled with these things, too.

Stillness

I was humming this song one day and could not remember the words. This song has nothing to do with the Biblical Christmas story, but a great sentiment. I am usually trying to live Isaiah 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God.” We are called again and again to be still in His presence. So prone to run ahead and not wait for instructions from on high.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him;

Psalm 37:7a

So in this busy season, hear this Austrian lullaby and Christmas carol from 1865 and try to rest in the peace that only the Prince of Peace can give.

I often have difficulty getting to a place of stillness. Maybe listen to the song more than once? Though it takes practice, coming to a still point is SO VERY WORTH IT!

Bob, Lucky and the Singing Squirrel

For years there has been a joke circulating about Bob and the squirrels. When we lived on Danny Drive he would get upset at the squirrels for eating the bird food. Occasionally he would get out his BB gun and have at one.

He told the grandchildren that in our yard there was a one eyed squirrel, a tailless squirrel and a three-legged squirrel because the sight on the BB gun was so lousy, (never that he was not a very good shot). If he did kill a squirrel he never told them. I said if he killed one he would have to skin it and nail the pelt to the shed as a warning for other squirrels to stay away.

At our house on Siesta Drive he would occasionally get one. We installed a spring on the bird feeder that was hanging over the edge of the deck (with a twenty foot drop to the ground). That squirrel was so confused and frustrated that he could not feed upside down and gorge himself on bird seed.

What have you done?!?!?!

He would climb out on the pole and touch the bird feeder. It would bounce and he would retreat. First day I think he did it 8 times before he gave up!

Some years ago our daughter and Grandgirl Ellie gave him a mechanical singing, dancing squirrel.

We stored the squirrel with Christmas things. This year when we brought him out Bob sometimes tormented Lucky with the squirrel. He would turn on the music and watch her retreat in fear. He would turn on the music and set it next to her. She would run a safe distance away and watch. Remember that Lucky is a rescue. She has been with us for over 1-1/2 years. Our daughter, Emily, had told us we might need to live with her for more than 2 years for her to show her true self to us.

I have never gotten Lucky to play with toys unless I put a treat in them. I have sewn elastic to the legs of some toys so I can attach treats for her. Once the treat is eaten she ignores the toy. Realize she was caged the first 4 years of her life and never had toys, so yes, she is clueless. Throw a ball and she looks at you asking “Now what?”

Imagine my surprise when I was crocheting Levi’s Christmas gift, watching TV one late afternoon and Lucky went to the table to sniff the mechanical Squirrel.

Next she put her claws on its foot and dragged it to the loveseat with her. Before I knew it she knocked it the floor and began chewing. Bob was working at his computer in the office. I texted him to come see.

Bob went back to work. You can see Lucky’s face when he walks in again at end of clip.

Before we knew it she carried the squirrel off to where he was working in the office. I told him we had to be careful she doesn’t try to eat it, wires, batteries, fringe on scarf, fake fur, etc.

I went into office a few minutes later and she had chewed out one eye. Thank goodness the pieces were all there!

Yes, then we removed it from her reach. Bob wants me to make an eye patch as he finally owns his one eyed squirrel.

What baffles me is she had been alone all morning while we went to the 25 year church reunion. So glad she did not tear it up then. We could not have protected her. Perhaps she was waiting to see what our reaction would be? How do dogs think?

Remember the new Christmas tree?

She has now dragged out Snoopy, who fortunately has sewn patches for eyes. No danger there! Wonder how Charlie Brown will taste to her?

How We Found Dr. Fauci

Remember how I posted that Dr. Fauci was missing? (https://wordpress.com/post/treasures-in-plain-sight.org/6922) Recently we retrieved all the Christmas storage boxes from our storage rental. We were anticipating whether or not Dr. Fauci would be in there. If not, he was lost and gone forever, (Clementine).

As soon as we placed the box in the car after we retrieved it from storage cube, I flipped this box open and there he was! Inside the candy cane turtle neck, cushioned in a towel! Yes, my instinct was correct. I had placed him in a Christmas box when moving. It had space and padding to keep him safe.

So once again, Dr. Fauci is here to encourage us to wash our hands, get our booster shot ( which we did weeks ago) and keep a safe distance from others. Doesn’t he look amazing, tidy and well-kept after months in a storage cube?

Even with variant, we believe in the science in contrast to the science fiction. We will get through this pandemic and eventually receive injections similar to the flu vaccine (which we have also gotten already this year) to keep us from deadly Covid-19 infection. Please love your fellow citizens enough to get your vaccine. Those who have suffered Covid-19 know this is nothing to fool around with. May you stay healthy and out of the hospital, never have to wear a ventilator, live long and prosper!

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31

Grooks

In 1966 Piet Hein published a little book of poetry entitled Grooks. It brought me cheer and challenge. The cover says he began” writing Grooks during Nazi occupation of Denmark. They were, quite literally, underground literature – Piet Hein was in hiding as as resistance leader. …they enabled Danes to talk to one another about what really mattered in a range just beyond German understanding and several octaves beyond Nazi sensitivities. “

A Maxim for Vikings

Here is a fact that should help you fight a bit longer.

Things that don’t actually kill you outright make you stronger.

Yes, that has challenged and comforted me through many, many years. Now I have passed my 71st birthday. We have a tiny (by comparison to past houses) front garden. Each spring at other locations I would participate in what I called “Death by Gardening,” cleaning up the flower beds and putting in a new perennial or two. Suffering the consequences for days and at times weeks afterward.

Bob had planted over 200 of my favorite daffodil bulbs at the last house. When we were packing last spring, I was lamenting leaving that glorious daffodil display. One friend bought me two pots of large daffodils to plant at our new house. I nurtured those bulbs through the spring and into the summer awaiting a flower bed. Another friend attended our open house and gifted us with a sack of daffodil bulbs and a sack of tulip bulbs.

Our weather went from summer hot (think 80s) to chilly (think 40s). For the last few days we have entertained 60 degrees. Twice I have gone out to plant a few bulbs. Whereas I used to spend 3 or 4 hours in the garden I am no longer able to do that due to fibromyalgia and arthritis. Now I might spend 45 minutes or so.

Here is the deal. When Ryan built this house, they delivered tons of huge gravel for the eventual driveway. First, the crane parked there to lift the walls and roof trusses into place and then the construction dumpster sat on it.

The rocks spread. Then the driveway and sidewalk were concreted and the rocks spread.

Rocks throughout the rain sitting on top of the clay

Then the grading machine came to shape the yard and the rocks spread. Our son advised adding inches of good topsoil to the garden area before they came to put in our plants and single tree. We did that with his help.

So now this old lady is out trying to plant flower bulbs. The soil and top layer of mulch have settled. The bulb digger is a handy gadget we have used for years.

Here is the current struggle. To plant the daffodil bulb at the suggested depth (about 6 inches), I twist the bulb digger to make a hole. Before I reach 6 inches deep the digger hits either clay or rock or BOTH. The clay is wet and will not drop out of the digger, so each attempt the clay must be removed with the dandelion remover. This is no longer a simple matter of place a few bulbs in the ground!

“Things that don’t actually kill you outright…” Make me ache and moan and groan the next day. Actually I was gasping for air and having trouble getting upright after planting, too.

What was I thinking? I have this gardening bug that makes me believe I am 27 instead of living into my 72nd year. I want to plant and grow things. I delight to see flowers blooming and bobbing in the breeze.

I must try to content myself with a few lovely daffodils and let go of the glories Bob planted for me in the past. I placed the clods of clay into a flexible tub. It was so heavy when I finished placing about 15 bulbs I could barely drag it to the sidewalk, much less dump it in the garbage can.

Weighty Clay Clods

Ryan homes has done nothing yet regarding the drainage problems in our backyard. I had hope for a perennial bed out there by now. The mums and aster from this fall will need to be thrown out as there is no place to put them in the ground for the winter.

“Make you stronger …” Maybe this yard will make me strong enough to embrace gracefully that I am no longer a strong young woman? The crocus bulbs are in. All the plants we brought with us are in the ground (thanks mostly to Bob and son Jeff). I will see if I have grown wiser when the new plants are available in the spring?

Wiser to embrace the blessings I have and release the ones that have passed as my younger years fade away. Oh Lord, You know how much help I need with this!

The grass withers, the flower fades;

    but the word of our God will stand forever.

Isaiah 40:8