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.
Rain and drizzle continue, translucent raindrops, glistening at the tips of branches. The ginkgo trees have lost almost all their leaves by now, the sparse remaining few that have not been swept up already, lie dormant below the trees. The rain makes me contemplate an outing to the North Bay, where a summer trickle always turns into a winter torrent — where the salmon make their way back home. Although I have never seen an adult salmon in the stream, I have seen plenty of fingerlings. The smell of the trees there is heavenly.
As I walk by a gymnasium, I hear noise coming from inside. A party it seems. I spy an Elmo balloon in a window, then another one, a third, and looking through the next window at least a dozen more. An Elmo party! It looks adorable to see so many Elmos. Kids are jumping about in between the balloons. I also pass I would say, an about five to six-foot tall inflated gorilla on the way to the supermarket. The specimen is dressed in bright red attire. A Santa Claus gorilla — what will the obnoxious sales people think of next?
At the store I find some sunflower seeds and a delightful seasonal specialty: peppermint ice cream. With much satisfaction, I notice on my walk back, that the ridiculous gorilla contraption has deflated. I come by a yard and see a man putting up a wooden manger scene: simple and beautiful — and a true reflection of the season.
Today is the 4. Advent, represented by the candle of love. May the son of God give you peace in your heart today. Amen.
As the year winds down, I am grateful for a wonderful Christmas visit to Oregon. I reflect on the candlelight Service; I remember the woman in front of Patrick and me thanking us for singing the hymns with our deep voices behind her; I ponder Patrick doing all his culinary preparations — he has the motions of a chef now — and I can only marvel at the skills he has acquired; I delight in the unique home-made jelly Christian gave me; I muse about the sleepy hedgehog Hannah showed me that bit me (my fault for smelling like a chicken taco); I remember the great Christmas dinner Big Patrick and Sanae made, and chuckle about the cats hiding from me. Thank you for a peaceful Christmas God.
I paid a visit to a Home Depot store the other day (during the last days of October), to purchase a few household maintenance items. Outside the store sat dozens of pumpkins waiting to be taken home and carved, or better yet, turned into pie. It reminded me of the Half Moon Bay pumpkin festival, where they seem to have the annual pumpkin convention, more than well attended, judging by the sea of orange. Inside the store however, no pumpkins were to bee seen — instead Christmas music (and bad music at that) blared over the speakers, as Christmas merchandise was piled high and wide. Come on folks, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. It’s really disheartening to see such corporate greed, taking all the joy out of the gradual seasonal changes and their accompanying holidays, not to mention the total lack of regard for Christmas and it’s true meaning of God’s son Jesus coming to earth for us. The employees who I talked to about it, seemed resigned to the unseasonal intrusion.
This morning, while I sat in the back under the “acorn tree”, as I playfully like to call it, my cat Calvin joined me, first coming down the stairs at a brisk pace, and then casually exploring the surroundings, including a curious sniff of my donut, that was acknowledged, but left alone (I did eat some bread with cheese and salami too — in case there are questions about nutrition). The jumpiness on his part in regards to falling acorns seems to have disappeared too.
I saw two people coming down the driveway that extends along the fence and then saw the man pick up an acorn cap, which he proceeded to bring near his mouth, cupping his hands and which he then blew into. A high whistling sound emerged. He grinned at me and said, “these acorn caps sure are practical if you get lost in the woods”. After they had left — monkey see — monkey do, I tried to emulate his feat with an acorn shell, alas to no avail. I never could whistle either, much to my consternation. Oh well — we all have different gifts and talents.
Have a blessed week
“My” two ducks
I took a short walk on Saturday to visit two of my fine feathered friends, a pair of ducks with colorful plumage who frequent a pond in a nearby park. They are always happy to see me. I wonder, do they recognize me by now? I’m pretty sure they can identify the bread inside the plastic bag I carry in my vest pocket. They were swimming their usual circles in their winter habitat, surrounded however by a good dozen or more geese who were being rather intrusive as far as bread crumb gathering and distribution was concerned. Two of them actually started an ongoing fight, despite the fact they both had a piece of bread in front of them. I have never been fond of geese (not even when cooked). They may look nice flying in formation, but they are a pushy noisy bunch, not to mention the mess they leave behind. What amused me is that the ducks climbed up out of the pond onto the small ledge in order to be in closer proximity to the bread crumb dispenser. They were duly rewarded, while the riff-raff on the pond was busy fighting with each other. When the bread was gone I was able to briefly stroke the dark-feathered duck as it went back into its nautical domain. It was also surprising to note, that the duck undercarriage when out of the water elevates the whole duck by quite a bit.
Yesterday was 3 Kings (Epiphnanias), and in the German Lutheran tradition the day afterwards is the time when the Christmas tree decorations are taken down, so that’s one of my chores for today, after finishing writing this blog. I guess that’s part of the holiday blahs and blues, putting things back into the box for another year. Thank God New Year’s Day was such a sunny and beautiful day. For Christmas, my potted indoor redwood tree served as the Christmas tree, and was decorated by my youngest son Patrick and his girlfriend Hannah who came down to visit from Portland. A fine job they did too, keeping most of the ornaments out of my cat Calvin’s reach.
As I look at the trees outside my window over the top of my computer screen, I see that they are finally losing their last leaves, the last deciduous hold-outs of the season. The forecast cold nights and rain later in the week should help them in attaining their proper January tree appearance.
Have a blessed week,
P.S. Can anyone help me to identify the bird species swimming along with the two ducks?