Archive | December, 2013

Clang, Clang

30 Dec

We have a four-poster bed, which up to this point has had a metal canopy. Very nice, and all that, but after our visit to Williamsburg this past summer, The Squire decided to replace the metal frame with a wooden one, which he started on Friday.  Much measuring, sawing, staining, and drilling. The old metal framework was dismantled and stacked in the corner between a closet and the door.

We have lived in this house since we got married, and the bedroom furniture is exactly where it has always been. To this day, I cannot get from my side of the bed to the door in the dark – a straight shot, by the way – without walking into something. The base of the cheval mirror, the corner of my dresser, the cedar chest, or the bed itself. I have even overshot the mark and crashed into the nightstand. A week or so back, I walked into the corner of the abovementioned closet and gave myself a fairly tidy shiner.

So – last night I had to get up around 2 AM, and staggered into the stack of metal rods from the canopy frame. It sounded as if I had tossed a half dozen metal buckets down the fire escape. The dog began barking, and I stubbed my toe opening the door.

And The Squire slept through the whole thing.

From the Ridiculous to the Sublime

29 Dec

Last Christmas, I told you about our rector’s adventures with Baby Jesus on a zip-line. This year, at Midnight Mass, he told us the rest of the story.

Apparently, Fr. Casimir (for want of a better name) always liked to have some sort of pageant for the Christmas service. These events were generally followed by the question, “Did anyone get hurt?”

On the Christmas Eve in question, the congregation was first entertained by a fist-fight in the narthex; the matter under discussion being who was going to play the back end of the camel. As part of the pageant, in addition to the camel, there was an ancient husky dog, who was to play the “schzeep” – the sheep – who had not been walked before he took his place the procession, with the obvious results, so people were having to side-step certain obstacles in the aisle.

After the Baby Jesus had descended from the clouds, with such spectacular results, it was time for the Magi to be led to the manger by a star. Fr. Casimir had attached a HUGE star to a twenty-foot bamboo pole, and asked the smallest child in the parish to “go even unto Bethlehem”.

The pole was both top-heavy and very flexible, and the child was having a extremely difficult time staying under the center of gravity. Stagger to the left, stagger to the right, shimmy this way, try to avoid the chandeliers, and suddenly the star began falling forward. The young man raced to keep up with his burden, stepped when the dog had unburdened himself, and the entire business came crashing down, landing on the karaoke machine (don’t ask!) and shorting out every light in the building.

Fr. Casimer shouted out “Proszę zapalić świeczkę!” (Please light a candle!) which was the cue for the children’s choir to begin processing, candles in hand, singing Panis Angelicus. And so, we went from the ridiculous spectacle surrounding us to the sublime beauty of cherubic voices singing heavenly songs.

And so it is with life. We go from the ridiculousness of everyday life, with its silliness and sorrows, and step into the sublimity of God’s presence. It is our job, now, to bring this sublimity back out into the world, to bring sanity where there is madness, and peace where there is turmoil.

And maybe a bit of joy and jokes along the way.


Old Dog: New Tricks

23 Dec

I have been trying for ages to get Blazer to “give paw” or shake hands. He always stays in the hallway until I come down in the morning, and I will sit on the step below him, grasp his right front paw and repeat “give paw” while I lift his foot and hold it for a few seconds. We do this five or six times. After a few weeks – months? – of this, he is no further along than he was when we started, so I decided this morning to try it with treats.

He was sitting beside me while I ate breakfast, so I got down on the floor with a bit of egg, grasped his right forefoot and said “give paw”.  He immediately flopped down on his side and rolled over for me to rub his tummy.

Somehow, I don’t this this is a battle I’m going to win.

Dinner Bowl Rock

20 Dec

Blazer’s favorite pastime is to carry his dish around in his mouth, in the (generally) vain hope that someone will put something in it. If he is distracted – or disappointed – he will throw the bowl on the floor. Not drop it. Throw it.

He had a metal bowl that finally developed a round bottom from being dropped so many times, and I replaced it with a heavy plastic one that I picked up at a thrift shop. It was a children’s bowl, so it was pretty sturdy, but after about two years, he’d thrown it around so much it had developed a bad crack, which The Squire mended with duct tape. Earlier this week, the bowl broke completely in half.

Yesterday I purchased a pack of three plastic bowls at the local Dollar Emporium. Last night Blazer ate his dinner and then proceeded to chew the bowl to pieces.  I think another metal bowl is in the offing.

You’d think he never got fed.

Breakfast on the Patio

18 Dec

The Squire and I put out peanuts for the squirrels every morning. We have two lengths of PVC pipe, into each of which we put about three cups of peanuts, shoving them in as far as possible, so the blue jays can’t reach them.

I overslept a bit this morning and when I opened the door to tie Blazer outside, a squirrel came up to within about two feet of me, sitting on his haunches, obviously expecting to be fed. I had the dog by his collar, trying to figure out how to get him on the rope and still keep him from going after my morning visitor.  I managed to flick my fingers at the squirrel enough to convince him to take a short hike, and the dog raced off in search of who-knows what.

By the time I had gotten the peanuts to put in the pipe, the dog was ready to come inside, and I had about five squirrels hanging upside down on the oak tree, waiting for me to get breakfast. There are one or two critters – maybe just one, as they all look alike – who will actually take food from my fingers; the rest will hover just “this far” out of reach, and dart in to pick up whatever I toss to them. Stale crackers and corn chip crumbs, but they don’t like popcorn.

I wouldn’t want to live anyplace else in the world.

Drizzle Fizzle

10 Dec

Last night, the forecast was for three to five inches of heavy snow, which is always bad news, so The Squire brought down fire wood, and dragged the snow shovels out of the barn.

We got about two inches of snow, and then it turned to rain. By lunchtime, it was all over but the slush.

Eldest Daughter lives fifteen miles north of us, and they got about seven inches. Her husband took the truck and left for work, so she had to shovel the entire drive, and she is such a fuss-budget that she will shovel all the way to the very, very edge of the drive. Not as long as ours, but long enough. She had an errand which absolutely had to be done, weather or no, so she took her car out to the main highway – about a mile.  She said she was all over the road both coming and going. Fortunately, she has anti-lock brakes, and they were “stuttering all the way”.

Our youngest daughter lives in Virginia, and they always get a lot more snow than we do.  They got five inches on Sunday, and then a quarter inch of freezing rain. In her email at 9:30 this morning she said they already had three and a half inches, and it was still coming down.

So much for moving south for better weather.

The North Wind Doth Blow

8 Dec

We were supposed to get one to two inches of snow, beginning this afternoon. It started to snow on the way to church, and by half past the sermon we were in full whiteout.  North of Baltimore, we got about four inches of snow, and now, even though it is 28-F, it is raining.

Things should be just lovely tomorrow morning.

It is supposed to go up to 45 tomorrow, which will melt a lot of this, but then the temp will drop again, and the forecast is for more snow on Tuesday.  Our grandson is a lineman for the electric company. Pray for him, and if you see a crew out clearing branches, take them some coffee or hot chocolate. And then there are the poor souls who pick up the trash at O-dark ugly every morning.

The dog is loving this stuff. He races around in circles, “snoveling” tunnels all over the yard, and playing “gonna getcha” – running straight at me, and then veering off at the last possible second. The cat, however, is taking the weather as a personal insult, and wants to go outside every ten minutes to see if things have cleared up. He seems to feel it is my fault, and doesn’t hesitate to tell me so. Loudly and often.

We were supposed to have a tree lighting and caroling party this evening, but that has been postponed.  Friday is supposed to be clear and cold, but at least it won’t be raining or snowing.  I’ve made a batch of spiced cider to be heated, and there is a good supply of hot chocolate at church, so we’re good to go.

Making His Point

7 Dec

As I’ve mentioned before, we generally keep our dog on a 40 foot wire, with a 30 foot line. This gives him plenty of space to run; he can reach the kitchen door, but cannot get as far as the barn, or the spot where we feed the foxes.  Almost every night, he will convince me there’s something out back that needs barking at, usually deer or the foxes.  I’ve seen the foxes sit down, just out of his reach, while the poor dog dashes back and forth in frustration, and I swear I can hear them laughing.

Last night, Blazer went racing out with his rope already tangled around the tree (I need to keep an eye on that), and pulled the hook clean off the end.  This morning, I had to let him out without tying him – always a risk, but I figured he wouldn’t go far on an empty stomach, and he didn’t. Pretty much out and back. The Squire replaced the hook after he had eaten his breakfast.

A little while ago, The Squire took the compost out for me and came back chuckling.

It seems that while Blazer was out taking care of business, he left a “message” in the foxes’ dish.

The Ravens are Playing!

1 Dec

??????????Came downstairs this morning to see these guys in the front yard. “Cronk! Cronk!” I don’t know if they were annoyed that the squirrels and blue jays had eaten all the peanuts, but they did try some of the dog food I put out for the jays.

They are about two feet tall, about twice the size of a crow, about twice as loud, and very glossy.  They don’t sound at all like a crow, but unless you see them together it’s hard to tell one from another.