Thursday, June 28, 2012

Water and Fire

This past Sunday, my husband and I took a ride up north. I'll eventually sort out all of the pictures I took, but  in light of current events, I thought I could get all inspired by this picture.

Driving through the little town of Glidden, population 507, we noticed that the Chippewa River which flows right through town, had overrun its banks. Someone had stuck this measuring stick in the middle of the city park to monitor the depth of the water. Sorry that I couldn't get a reading on that stick.

Glidden sits just over 100 miles southeast of Duluth, which you may have heard had flooded on June 20. No doubt, some of the flood waters had made their way down the Chippewa River to this little berg.

Much further south, the northern half of Florida has seen flooding from Tropical Storm Debby. So much water, everywhere, or so it would seem.

On the flip side there are the devastating wildfires in Colorado. Having lived in Douglas County, Colorado, back in the mid-80's, I visited Garden of the Gods, the Air Force Academy, Manitou Springs, and many other places being threatened by fire. Looking at some of the horrendous pictures on the internet, I can feel the heat and smell the smoke.

Seems like there should be a way to even out these extremes. But pretty much all we can do is fight back the best we can, and turn the rest over to God.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Here, Kitty, Kitty

How can you not love cats? 
They have such personalities. 
They have eyes that can see through you, around you and way beyond you.
They know the importance of a good nap.
And they love to just relax and get comfy. 
 And they will stalk anything.
Or nothing at all. 

(Pictures from Milwaukee Zoo and a few from my garden, where the most fierce felines of all may be found.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Be still, my words

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

"Be Still, My Soul"
by Catharina von Schlegel, 1697-?
Translated by Jane Borthwick, 1813-1897

We sang this beautiful hymn in church last night. The fifty or so people in attendance (mostly senior citizens by the way) gave it their all, but I gotta tell you it was lacking in “umph”. When we were at one of the Gaither Homecoming concerts a couple years ago, one of the performers sang it and it was so moving. Some people are so talented.

But God loves it when we sing praises to him, whether we are off key or not. To Him, we are all talented.

(This started out way longer, but I thought I was starting to ramble, so I cut it way back. Sometimes I think God wants me to keep it short and straight. On days like that, they are His words, not mine.)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fun at the county park

 I'm so glad that I left the glass pets at home this day. I wonder if porcelain pets count? It sure does sound safe though to bring the furry pets, don't you think?
OK, but do both the trailers and the vehicles need to be upside down?

Just being silly. Last week Tuesday, I finally returned to Big Eau Pleine County Park. I know I blogged about that place once, but for the life of me, can't find it. When I was a kid, my parents would go camping there quite often. It was about a two hour drive from our house and we would meet there with my mom's cousin from Green Lake.

It has to be thirty-five years since I have there. And nope, none of it looked familiar. Oh, well, my husband and I still had fun checking it out.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Are you a sea lion or a seal?

"What have you got to say?"
"Hello, there."
"Everybody needs some lovin'."

"I can pose pretty too. Blubbery or not."
At the Milwaukee Zoo last week, we attended the sea lion and seal show. Who knew what little personalities they have. Just like our devoted dogs, these sea mammals wanted to please their trainers and show off for strangers.

To me, it is pretty obvious how to tell the seals from the sea lions, but the trainers shared these differences. The sea lion has earflaps, while the seal has earholes. Also the sea lion has long foreflippers, and their hindflippers rotate underneath them so that they can walk on land. The seal however has short foreflippers with long claws and hindflippers that stay straight out. They move on land by wiggling.

I don’t know. I would say that the sea lion is sleek and mobile, while the seal is – well - blubbery. Are the experts just trying not to hurt somebody’s feelings?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Proud Peacock

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” 

Proverbs 16:18 New International Version 

 The saying goes “proud as a peacock”. Well, as pretty as this boy is, I can see why he would be proud. Even his backside isn’t too shabby. It kind of shows how he manages to get those feathers aloft.

The funny thing is that the dull little peahen he was trying to impress was just lying in the grass not even looking at him.

I’m sure that God had a good reason for creating the peacock this way. But God didn’t create us to show off for others. He wants us to be humble and quiet. Instead of trying to be the center of attention, we should quietly go about our day. If someone does notice us, let it be because of the good things we do and not because of the way we look or how we strut our stuff.

Friday, June 15, 2012

don't, don't, don't

Sunday night while visiting my son and a friend in Milwaukee, we went out to eat at the Safe House. A very interesting and fun place. After dinner, we wandered around checking out the many novelties hanging on the walls. Naturally I took lots of pictures, even after finding this sign.

Don’t you hate constantly being told “don’t do this” and “don’t do that”. We hear it from little on, especially when we are little and our parents barrage us with the word “no”. "No" is all right for little kids about to touch the hot stove or run out into the street. Actually I can think of a lot of boys and girls who should hear the word “no” more often. But used too much it loses its meaning, its shock-value.

And even as adults, don’t we sometimes do exactly what we are told not to?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Birds of the Zoo

 Went to the Milwaukee Zoo yesterday. As usual, I took way too many pictures. I know that you probably don't want to see all of them, or even most of them.
 Since the bird pictures turned out the best, most likely because they were not behind bars or glass, I thought I would share them first.
 It is amazing what a wide range of birds we have on this Earth. How can they possibly stand on such thin legs?
 Or carry around such long tails?
 These three remind me of some cartoon characters. Only these are swans and the Disney characters were geese, I think.
I caught all of the birds I could.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day by Day

Day by day
Oh Dear Lord
Three things I pray
To see thee more clearly
Love thee more dearly
Follow thee more nearly
Day by day
(from the 1971 musical Godspell)
Yesterday was the first day of my week-long vacation. Instead of being able to relax and enjoy it, though, I had a full day. I knew that coming into this and had myself already stressed before it started.

I rushed around in the morning trying to get some housework and laundry done. In the afternoon my husband and I took my mother to visit my cousin who is in a nursing home 50 miles away. My 85-year-old mother’s health has been slowing declining over the last year, so we secured a wheelchair for her use. I was fearful that they would keep her at the nursing home.

After a nice visit with my cousin, we headed across town and down the highway 20 miles to the wedding of my niece’s daughter. The wedding was outside, the weather warm and muggy, and my mom was still in the wheelchair. On top of that, my niece’s family – well, they truly are a nice bunch, but they are a bunch so it is always interesting. And finally, my friend from Minnesota happened to be in the area, so at the last minute, I invited her to join us. It was no big deal, as the wedding was very informal, but it still made me feel weird.

So, all of this made for a stressful day, or I thought it would. I went in to yesterday feeling tense and basically unhappy. Why can’t I just have peace and quiet today, I asked myself. But it all turned out fine. I had a good day, got to visit with lots of people I haven’t seen in a while. And my wheelchair-bound mom, who I was most worried about, had a good day too.

Lord, thank you for all our days, whether they are good ones or not. Help me to remember that you are with me each and every day. And any unhappiness I feel in my days is from me and not from you. 

My sister and brother-in-law with their granddaughter and  her  new husband.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Go on living

"If you enjoy living, it is not difficult to keep the sense of wonder."

Whenever someone famous dies who was very old, I say to my husband, "didn't he die a long time ago?" And so it was when I read this morning that Ray Bradbury, age 91, had passed away. When he was a small boy, a carnival magician touched him with his sword and said, "live forever." Certainly, Mr. Bradbury will live forever through his many, many works. I sadly must admit that I don't remember reading his two most famous works, Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. In high school, however, I did read many of his short stories. What a fascinating mind! 

I've been looking up quotes for today's blog. My goodness, he did have a lot to say. Though I will never, ever be as prolific as Ray Bradbuy, I can dream that someday something I wrote or said in passing will pop up on an internet search.

 "We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out." 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What's in your sky tonight?

When I left work this afternoon, I heard rumbling to the east and looked up at storm clouds swirling. Behind me, to the west, the sun was shining. As I headed out of town, I continued watching the sky, looking for one thing. Sure enough, a rainbow started peeking through the trees and buildings. As I got into the country, I could see the full-length of it, running from one end to the other across the sky.

Nuts, was all I could think, my camera is at home.

I flew up the driveway and tore open the front door. Poor Dino whined from his pen, as if to say, did you forget me, Mom? I had other things on my mind besides the dog. Rainbows never seem to last long and I wanted to catch this one.

I drove back up the road, out of our thick woods and unto the highway. It was still there and I started shooting pictures as the car rolled to a stop. Then it dawned on me that the perfect setting would be down the road less than three miles. But could I make it there before the colors started to fade? 

As I accelerated to 55 mph, I snapped pictures out the open window.One just never knows what one might capture. 

Then the car came up over a rise and the field I had been seeking appeared on the left. Ahh, I had made it. I need to get a life, don’t I?

As I drove back to the house, the DJ on the radio was saying something about Venus, Earth and the sun all being aligned tonight. And if you could look into the blinding light of the sun you would see something cool. Really? I already had my something cool. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Old or New? Tarnished or Shiny?

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
1 Peter 3:3-4 New International Version
 On Friday, I went to Wausau to visit my daughter and we explored downtown a little bit. We started with lunch at the restaurant where she works. She told me that it is a fancy place, but I never imagined how fancy. Holy cow, it is a bit out of my league.

We walked several blocks to a second-hand store, Studio 7, where she bought an armload of clothes. It is so neat that so many second-hand stores have popped up. I know that it is mostly because of the economy, but isn’t it better to recycle whatever we can instead of just throwing stuff out?

Of course, while she was trying on clothes, I went next door to Janke Bookstore, which is one of the staples of downtown Wausau. I think that besides the Mint Café, it is the only business still in the same place as when I was in college there.

We explored an antique store, but didn’t find anything of interest. Then we walked in to the next store and were completely blown-away.

Evolutions in Design, on the internet, is advertised as a florist, but holy cow, I did not get that out of the place. I can’t even begin to describe it. The two floors are an eclectic mix of old and new, combining things like antique metal fans from the 50s with pink orchids. I sneaked a few pictures, but I don’t believe that business owners generally like you doing that, thinking that you are stealing ideas. The pictures don’t nearly do it justice anyway.

These places that we visited reminded me that the old and tarnished can be as beautiful as the new and sparkly. It’s not just about the outward appearance, it’s about history and where these things were and where they get to go now.

Same goes for us. It’s not about how we look, it’s about what we are made of. If our history includes tragedy, we need to make a new history for ourselves. We need to smile on the inside before we can smile on the outside.