Monthly Archives: March 2010

Week Full of Big Events

The kitchen was gutted on my Big Birthday, leaving us to camp in a corner of the living room with an electric skillet and microwave that more than once have overloaded the power strip, so I have learned to take turns, at least until Sergio and Jorge and Edgar finish the electrical work and turn all the circuits back on.

Paper plates are the most uncivilized and literally distasteful thing about this week; I never use them even when we camp in the wilderness, so why should I have to in my own house? Must retrieve some real plates from a box for tonight, so the food will taste right again.

As we were dealing with rain and illness, the weeds were taking over the yard. Still, ranunculus do grow tall, and these showed above the robust sea of green. One Big Event this week was the pulling of all the weeds in this bed, accomplish by moi.

Today is a wonderful commemoration of a resurrectional event, when Christ raised Lazarus, so we have Lazarus Saturday, with celebrations. After the Liturgy, there is a clean-up effort to get the property and buildings all beautified for Holy Week and Pascha, but I didn’t go, because I did my such prep work at church yesterday.

After shopping for plants and dirt, I planted all new plants in nine containers, ranging in size from half-wine barrels to smaller clay pots. That might not have taken five hours if I didn’t have to start by emptying three of them, heavy with old dirt, into my wheelbarrow, which I labored to drive what seemed a quarter mile to the dump pile. Then I loaded up some compost from the other side of the pile to put in the bottom of the containers. I went the long way around buildings if it helped me to avoid steps–I didn’t like trying to do wheelies.

The huge bags of Supersoil I’d bought to top-off the containers were almost too weighty for an old woman. But I had heaved and dragged all four of them into my car earlier, and I managed again, to get them into the wheelbarrow, then out of the barrow on to the ground so I could grab double-handfuls of the rich stuff and nestle it around all the little flowers. The picture shows the three old medium-sized wooden containers that I’d moved from one area to another. Though the weather was perfect for gardening, it was too bright for good photography.

After weeding some, and cleaning up all the mess, I was surprised at how sore and tired I was. I went home in time to clean up and recover a bit, and return for Matins of Lazarus Saturday. The church had been decorated, while I was decorating the gardens, and was full of calla lilies, with palm fronds on the chandelier.

Today Mr. Glad and I worked at home, and I tackled the back yard. The mass of weeds is ten times that of the front yard, but I rested at one point by this table, looked at the “trees” instead of the looming “forest,” and thanked God for the strength to work, and for the spring flowers. This pot of nemesia that one friend gave me, I’d like to put in a pot so it can spill over the sides.

The children and husband and friends were so good to me for my birthday. One interesting gift I received was an olive tree, hand delivered from Oregon by my son and decorated with drawings by the grandchildren.

I’m going to buy a big pot to put it in, and remember that “I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.”
(Psalm 52:8)



North Coast Beauty

To celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary, B. and I spent a whole day on an outing to coastal places.

We stopped at this spot by the Navarro River and wondered at the water color.

It was chilly under the ramrod-tall redwoods there, but on the whole, the day was unseasonably warm for the coast, and we thanked God for that extra gift. After a long drive through spectacular landscapes we reached the little artsy town of Mendocino. First we ate lunch, which provided respite for the visual senses, while we indulged our taste buds.

There’s lots of nice driftwood on display in the town –see the faces?

One of the first shops we visited was full of kaleidoscopes that were amazing works of art and engineering, some priced at well over $1000. Looking through just one kaleidoscope gives the aesthetic mind a lot to ponder.

In other art galleries we feasted our eyes and fingers on wooden bowls and buffets, ceramic platters and sculptures, quilts, and paintings of the landscapes that are beloved by us after living in Northern California for most of our adulthood.

To think of all the craftsmen making these lovely things, it made me glad. I snapped this hand-carved wooden Noah’s ark in one window…

…mostly because I loved the sea otters,
in a characteristic pose with little “abalone” shells on their chests.

We wanted to go out on the bluffs to look at the flat ocean, because by then we were experiencing Art Beauty Overload.

Maybe it is because we aren’t used to protracted active examination of the visually sublime. I usually have lots of work to do and break it up by occasional joy in one flower or tree.


Any one of these objects might be more satisfying if you could sit and hold it a while, or put it on your wall to befriend slowly. The whirlwind tour of so much creativity makes for too much to actually “take in.”

Outside again, I did have work to do, trying to get good pictures of the world around me, adding my own sub-creative endeavors to my Father’s.

Anatole France said that “Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another.”

Studying is a kind of work, and I already know more about the plant world than the art world, providing some foundation for further study and making it easier on my brain to examine the flora of Mendocino than the things in galleries.

Mustard trees like these above could easily hold birds, as mentioned in the Gospels. Their “trunks” are sturdy enough to survive the blustery winters out there above the surf, and in the spring they scatter their yellow cheer all over the rough brownness.

Surely the dark bushy stuff can’t be broom….wish I could get closer to look better. It would be a lot shorter and denser than what we see inland. But so many plants on the coast do seem to squat down close to the ground to brace themselves against the wind.

Lupine plants are spread all over the fields, not blooming yet. I think they will be blue when they come out. The giant yellow lupines we often see on the coast stand three feet tall. They haven’t flowered yet, either, but on our way out we passed large patches of purple lupines along the road–a medium-sized variety.


A little iris nestled into the tangle.

We took the long way home, which included hours of driving along the cliffs, with repeated vistas of cattle grazing below a backdrop of dark forests and clear blue sky, and redwood stake fences running along the highway intermingled with stands of spreading cypress trees.

These sights became familiar enough after a while that they were comforting and not so overwhelming. Look at the steers–they are doing their work, so they can bear the view without it tiring them out.

During part of the car trip, we listened to a whole disk of George Gershwin, which was another relaxed intake of beauty and appreciation of artistry, this time through the ear gate. At home, I never give my full attention to the music that might be playing, because I have too much else to think about. Sometimes we were in silence, just enjoying the sights. And for some hours B. played many of his iPod songs that I like, and we even sang along together with tunes that have accompanied us through our married years.

It was a splendid day!

Cubbies and Holes Question

When we were at the furniture refinishing shop the other day the owner showed us this piece that he is currently working on for other customers (who, it turned out, are members of our family!). No one knows what it was designed for. The holes in the bottom of the compartments are too big for shot glasses, and I think too big for egg cups, also. When it was found, some of the cubbyholes had labels attached in front, listing some of the United States. But you will notice there aren’t enough spaces for all 50. 

Does anyone out there have an educated guess as to the intended purpose of this furniture?

Meeting on the Bike Path

A brisk walk before 7:00 a.m. was just what I needed, I thought as I pulled on my clothes and quietly left the house yesterday morning. There was frost on the rooftops as I headed down the street to the bike/walking path a block away.

No sooner had I reached it but I overtook my neighbor and his dog, whom I’ve seen walking these paths for over a decade. Our relationship demonstrates the way friendship sometimes develops by baby steps, or maybe I could call them old-man-walking-old-dog-steps.

I don’t remember him from the first five years that we lived about six houses down from his, though I spent a lot of time on our wonderful paths that run along all the creeks through town. We were both busier, I suspect, and moving faster.

Ten or fifteen years ago I started noticing him with his dog. The dog was never in a hurry, and the man hunched a bit and shuffled, stopping and starting to avoid stumbling over his companion. He didn’t often look up at me when I drove past or when I met them strolling the other direction, but if he did, we would smile at each other.

A few years later I got a chance to speak to him a couple of times, and I told him that I lived just down the street. I didn’t say anything about how his yard was always neglected and full of tall weeds. Earlier on I had thought of bringing him cookies or offering to do some yard work, but once or twice I did see a woman there who I thought to be his daughter. Maybe it was she who planted some petunias one spring.

On this day, I had my perfect opportunity. Our relationship had progressed through the smile stage, into the speaking stage, and now, it seemed natural to slow my pace to theirs and say, “Good morning!” We started talking about his dog with the beautiful champagne-colored coat, a French sheepdog he’d gotten at the pound 14 years ago. “His name was Ben when we got him, but I changed it to Spunky.”

Somehow the conversation turned to politics–it wasn’t my doing! I walked alongside and followed their route, across this bridge, at which point Spunky stopped, changed direction, and was ready to go back more in the direction of home. That was as far as was his usual, his owner said. The whole hour I was with them I had to watch out for the leash and dog as they kept crisscrossing the path.

My friend told me about his childhood in Pittsburgh, PA, how he realized that if he didn’t leave shortly after high school, he’d be working in the factory forever. So he left, and he joined the Army, and traveled, but didn’t fight in Korea after all. His traveling gave him a different and broader perspective on the world from the average person, he believed. He recommended that I read The Economist, and told me about the three periodicals he reads to help him decide what companies to invest in.

Old men are often fun to talk to, especially if they like to talk about their lives and will carry the conversation. Then I can just show my interest and listen. Often they have a refreshingly old-fashioned outlook that I rarely encounter anymore. My neighbor doesn’t care that his jeans have a hole in the knee, or that his jacket is dirty. He had enough manners to pause in his story and ask a question about me or what I thought, but he wasn’t pushy if I didn’t talk much.

Eventually we got back to his house, and stood in the driveway for another ten minutes chatting about the Middle East and other places he had visited, and about how he has lived in that house for 38 years. I pointed out my house. He looked at Spunky, who had settled down to rest on the pavement, and said, “I have to get him inside,” but just before that I had introduced myself and found out that the man’s name is Ray.

My time was used up, it was nearly 8 o’clock, so I just walked quickly around the block and went home to tell B. about my new friend.