The wind is whipping over the mountain, and the oaks are ducking as much as a tree can duck. Sheets of rain are cascading down. It is dark now. My cat Calvin was not at all pleased to take a walk on his leash today, although he managed to chew some fresh green grass that has sprouted over the past few weeks on the way back. The hills are shimmering again. The command of “wait, I have to wipe your feet” he hears from his caretaker before entering the door is completely ignored in the rush to evade the rain, so I have to grab him before those little footprints get everywhere. It’s like having a kid, although probably not too many kids stop on a walk to chew grass.
I had to mail a package today and the frenetic pace on the roads does not exemplify what the Christmas season should be about, so I was glad to get back home. I had to think again how much more pleasant the driving in Oregon is when I visit part of my family than here in the Bay Area. Yet even here it could be so simple if everyone did their part to contribute to civility.
The highlight of my evenings the past few weeks has been to light the Advent candles before going to bed and to listen to Christmas hymns. Thank you God for the peace that comes. Often my cat will come and sit on my knee, silently watching the candles too.
I have decorated some of the vegetation outside with simple strings of white lights and they lend such a glow to the dark evenings. I am rather happy to say that Calvin has learned the words “Christmas lights” – I have a very, very smart cat.
Have a blessed Advent season as we wait for the coming of Christ.
The days end so soon now, but some of the early sunsets with clouds of all shapes augmenting the evening have been remarkable. During the firestorm that swept across Sonoma/Napa the sun was an eery blood-red for weeks with a smokey tangerine sky engulfing it, the air smelling like a gone out but still smoldering campfire. Thank God, things have normalized a bit now, and that some rebuilding has begun.
I was patiently waiting in the 15 item or less check-out line at the supermarket, having dutifully lined up with merely a few apples and some milk. Inserting my ATM card into the checkout machine I inquired of the cashier what I need to do in order to get a little cash back. Still looking down at the screen the reply I heard was: “you need to go to a bank”. I burst out laughing and looked up into the totally straight face of the cashier. “Just kidding, the cashier smirked at me”. It is ordinary moments like this, that make life fun.
Feeling cooped up in the apartment, I decided to go for a ride down to the water as the afternoon was a surprisingly warm one, especially for December. I was rewarded by a beautiful sight: the water was almost flat with only small ripples here and there. In the distance I saw two kayaks, several feet apart gliding across the water, as the kayakers dipped their paddles into the bay sporadically in order to achieve a slight forward motion. I could tell that they wanted to proceed as slowly as possible, in order to savor the still waters and warm afternoon. Just two little kayaks, close together like a pair of mourning doves on a telephone wire. As I watched them, mesmerized, a huge flock of pigeons suddenly flew up just above me at a sharp right angle, having been startled by something, and thus disrupting the tranquility of the scene. The riff-raff of birds, I chuckled.
Have a blessed and peaceful Advent season.
It’s hard to believe it is December already. From the shower window, I can see my “Botanical Garden”. Yesterday the rest of my potted plants migrated from my neighbor’s house, who had been taking care of them, to the back courtyard here, after which I trimmed, weeded, mulched, and watered them. It is nice to have them back: the maples, the princess flower, the wild rose which now has rosebuds. What a difference potted plants make in a concrete yard. No time to sit outside among them with coffee this morning though, as I don’t want to miss Service. I do open the first window of a chocolate Advent calendar that my son Christian sent me, a surprise that came in the mail yesterday. Unfortunately, the chocolate behind the window is nowhere to be seen, it has fallen below window No. 1 which is at the top, and I am thus deprived of what I anticipated. I will have to wait for a window in the lower elevations to reap the bounty later. This unfortunate incident can be ascribed to the substitute mailman, who stuffed the calendar into my mailbox, thus wrinkling it.
Outside church, I see a lone red rose that has just started to bloom. I’m not sure which countries or Lutheran churches celebrate Advent besides Germany, but of course it is more than just candles — it is celebrating the coming of Christ.
In the early afternoon, I finally get to sit among my plants. Surprisingly, I hear the unmistakable, but perhaps a bit unseasonable jingle of an ice cream truck. Someone overslept it seems. I opt for a walk, as warm sun in December should not be wasted. A peaceful quiet engulfs the streets. I stop, and look up to admire about seven or eight hawks who are circling delightedly under the blue sky. A few blocks later I am greeted by a leftover — a Jack-O-Lantern in the form of a paper lantern, with a big grin on his face. Unseasonable too, but it makes me laugh. Coming home, I slip through the fence in the back — something I observed one of the people in my apartment building doing the other day, much to the surprise of my cat Calvin, who did not expect me to come from that direction.
Have a peaceful 1. Advent