Friday, September 30, 2011

Evidence of the fall

Dave had a great suggestion for a blog post today.  He thought I should post a photo of my destroyed gloves and entitle it, "Evidence of the Fall."  I would do it in a moment except for one fact: I have misplaced my camera.  And that brings me to last weekend.

Dave and I went camping last weekend.  We crossed the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and explored the Mora Valley on their eastern slopes.  It is a beautiful, if poverty-stricken, area.  We had a fascinating time at Fort Union National Monument, and mused about the fact that without men, such a place would never have been built nor thrived (women are eminently too sensible to undertake such a thing!) But somewhere between taking pictures in the mountains on Friday and going to Fort Union on Saturday, I misplaced my camera.  So, there are no photos of the mountains, nor of the Fort.  There are no pictures of the beautiful Morphy Lake, nor the amazing road from the Mora Valley back up and over the Sangres via Angel Fire and Taos.  Suffice it to say the scenerey (and the company) were beautiful and fascinating.  It was a relaxing weekend.  Except for the camera. And that, too, is evidence of the fall, I guess!

And speaking of the fall, I must report that I am stiff and sore in places I have no recollection of ever having felt before. But I am well, with no serious injuries evident. But I digress...

So, for the time being, Gentle Reader, the photos on this blog will all continue to be my own, but they will not be current (except for photos sent to me of Emma by her mama, of course!)  And I hold on to the hope that if we open the camper this weekend and hunt for it, we may yet find my precious camera.  It's not worth that much money, but I do miss its companionship, and being able to share photos here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Wee, wee, wee," all the way home

This morning I drug myself out of bed at 5:30 am and left my cozy house to jog and walk.  I usually walk for 5 minutes in the chilly dark (carrying my trusty flashlight for the really dark bits) and then begin my series of jogging/walking intervals as the sky lightens and day dawns.  It has occurred to me that as it is darker and darker at this time, I might have to brave the heat of the sun and do this after I teach my morning classes.  But I have been loathe to burn in this high plains desert sun, so I keep dragging myself up and out early.

This morning I had barely started my first interval of jogging and was almost directly under a street light when it happened.  I must have caught a toe on some uneven spot and before I knew what was happening, I was flat on my face in the sidewalk.  I took the brunt of the fall on my hands and knees and chest, and partially knocked the wind out of myself.  And this is where I realized that I am no Dave Finnegan.  When Dave falls, as happens occasionally, he gets up, finishes his run, and usually forgets to tell me about it.  Me?  I cry like the proverbial piggy all the way home, and tell my sad story to the world since he is not here to offer me sympathy.

Now that I am home and in the light, my knees are only slightly scuffed, and I feel slightly banged about, but the only real injury is to my pride.  I guess I should be grateful it all happened in the dark, early enough for no witnesses. I'll have to replace my little gloves, which have both palms ripped out of them (better than MY palms, I guess!) And I'll have to start going out when it is light and I can see.

I have a feeling there are huge numbers of spiritual and moral lessons to be learned here.  But right now I'm smarting from my knees to my pride, and I think I'll make myself a cup of tea and wait for Dave to add some sympathy to it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blessing and encouraging

Every once in a while as a teacher, you need to make one of those calls.  You need to telephone parents, and try to figure out what is happening with your students.  These can sometimes be fear-inducing calls, since not all parents are equally approachable where their children are concerned.  The blessing of those calls, even when they are difficult, is that I have an opportunity to come alongside a parent and offer encouragement. Parenting is the toughest job I know about, and it gets downright discouraging in the trenches. It is a blessing when I get to validate their desires for their children, and remind them that God will be faithful to them. Today contained such a call, and I was blessed and encouraged as well as being able to offer some blessing and encouragement.

I love my job!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thoughts on the NICU

This is an old photo of Emma, wearing the smallest preemie outfit we could find at the time.  See how big the legs are?!  I've been pondering God's blessings to us in that little girl today, as I have been praying for acquaintances in ABQ who have a little NICU (Neonatal intensive Care Unit) baby who is hopefully heading home today.  I pray little M. and his parents will be able to cuddle and relax in their own beds tonight.

Starting life in the NICU is tough on babies, though without this special place many of these tiny ones would not survive.  But as tough as it is on the babies, it is even tougher on the parents. Emma's mom is helping with a project to make hand-knit and crocheted blankets for NICU babies in Tucson.  It will speak volumes to those parents, who cannot help but be exhausted and stressed.  I wish we were closer to a NICU here, because I would definitely volunteer to go in there and hold those tiny ones.  But maybe I'll take a cue from my dear daughter-in-love, and see if we can't do a project here and deliver it there.  Wouldn't small, handmade quilts be fun? 

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Today the clouds have changed from the tempestuous thunderheads of summer to the heavy-laden, gray-bellied clouds of winter.  And those clouds with an almost-summer sun peeking out, makes for beautiful fall weather.  This is perhaps my favorite season of all.

As a child, annual trips to look at the colorful fall display of leaves along the Mississippi River Valley predisposed me to love this season.  And several years in Maryland where prolonged cool makes for showy tree colors didn't hurt, either.  And now, we have the freshness and moisture of the high plains dessert, the brilliant color of the aspens (whoich are just starting to think about changing, and the fresh snow on the mountain peaks.

 These season changes are delightful reminders that God is, indeed, in his heaven, managing and providing. I hope you are enjoying Fall today, too, Gentle Readers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The joy of teaching is learning...

I have been teaching composition classes for 20 years or so, in one form or another, and there are certain aspects of composition have always mystified me. For instance, when students write persuasive essays that don't really engage the questions at hand, I am often at a loss.  As one who sort-of intuits these relationships, I have struggled with how one teaches students who don't intuitively sense this. And I'm not sure I have been extremely successful in helping my students, despite my best intentions.

In preparing and teaching my classes for today, a little piece of the puzzle locked into place for me.  And hopefully, now, I can better aid my students into the same realizations.  I love having a light-bulb pop on in my own head, and seeing it pop on in my students! Part of the real joy of teaching is learning.

{And for you composition geeks out there, today's epiphany just involves thinking of a better way of explaining why one must make sure one thinks through the thesis and antithesis of an opinion, and why the wording of the antithesis is very important if one is going to address the problems with the thesis. Without this clash of ideas, an essay's points are like ships that pass in the night instead of an argument. I'm sure all of you, Gentle Readers, realized all of this long ago. But it excited me this morning!}

Monday, September 12, 2011

For glory and for beauty

I have been reading through Exodus lately in my daily bible reading, and this morning found me in chapter 28.  For several chapters now we have been preparing the tabernacle and the articles God required for proper worship.  But for the first time, amid all those details, the phrase, "...for glory and for beauty..." jumped off the page at me.  Several of the items of garment worn by the priest are to be made"...for glory and for beauty..."

This got me to thinking... if I am now the temple (1 Cor. 6:19), then shouldn't I work to cloth myself (both my garments and my actions, my thoughts and my deeds) in both glory and beauty? The glory must be God's, of course, and the beauty must reflect Him.  But He must love both glory and beauty, and delight in me when I am reflecting those things back to Him.

So today, Gentle Reader, I will go about my every-day tasks-- I will pay bills, do laundry, work on lesson plans and pray for my students, plan and cook meals for my family, exercise my feeble body, and perhaps do a little sewing.  But I will try to remember in each of these tasks to proceed with glory and beauty.  Won't you join me?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A cacophony of copia*

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
~Colossians 3:16

This morning as I awoke, I found myself singing a psalm to the Lord, made up of all the bits and pieces of various passages and hymns that I've memorized or learned over the years.  I just caught these things as they flitted by and praised God in the wee hours while the cool fall breeze drifted in my window, and as I was in that place-- not quite awake but not fully asleep, either.  It went something like this:

Praise the Lord , oh my soul! And let all that is in me praise His name.  For the Lord is God above all other Gods. Enter his courts with thanksgiving and his gates with shouts of joy. Sing a new song to the Lord, for He has done marvelous deeds. The earth is the Lord's, and all that dwell therein. For our God is a great God. He speaks and the earth trembles. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name forever...

You get the idea.  It was a cacophony of copia* from the abundance of my little heart this morning, to the God who calls me into his presence with his people today, who showers me with uncountable blessing, and who makes a flat place for my feet.

May today find you singing psalms of your own to our heavenly Father, Gentle Readers. And may you be headed, as I am, to public worship in the company of the saints.

*{And if you are wondering how I am using that lovely little word, copia, please see here.}

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A quiet day

Last night we enjoyed the sound of a gentle, steady rain most of the night.  And it continued straight on through much of our morning.  This is a very unusual sight in our dry, New Mexico home, and we enjoyed every minute of it.  We worked on things around the house-- Dave finished changing the radiator in our old truck and I made cookies, and we enjoyed having friends over for grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch.  The afternoon held some school work for me, and then, in the cool autumn sunshine, some walking/jogging for me, and running for Dave.  And now a quiet, cool evening.

*Sigh* Have I mentioned that I love the fall?  Hope you are having a lovely evening, too, Gentle Reader!

Thursday, September 08, 2011


This morning, I read an inspiring post about the weight of hope, and it has me pondering the difference between hope and resignation.  Sometimes we are resigned to the inevitable, and perhaps we ought to be.  But if we are resigned to something without hope, I think our God is too small.

This little flower on the right grows out of rock on the blue dot trail that runs from Overlook Park into White Rock Canyon.  Seriously, it is all rock there. And yet, its tenacity in producing a lovely blossom speaks not just of it being resigned to its spot on the earth, but it speaks of the hope of a brilliant and big God, who works outside the boxes we would make for Him.

Be resigned where you must, Gentle Reader, but never lose hope.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A new school year begins

Like dawn breaking over the mountains, a new school year is beginning: full of promise and unknown adventure, heartbreak and hard work, bother and beauty.  As I start this school year, I pray for my students and myself as we enter this realm called learning.  May we be humble and teachable, may we be excited and enthusiastic.  May we prioritize what really matters. May we know God better at the end of this year than we did at its beginning. 

So far this year, I have started  an online class and forgotten to turn my mic on, and gotten confused about class times and tried to end a class early (the student who politely and respectfully pointed out my error was not extremely popular with her classmates!)  And that's just after the first day!  Teaching requires a humble attitude, too, and the ability to laugh at one's self. It also requires that the teacher love what he is doing and love the pupils God brings his way.  I am enjoying getting to know this fresh crop: ~40 composition students, and 4 Worldviews students.  I hope we have a marvelous year together.

And may you have a marvelous year, too, Gentle Reader, as you continue to learn in your own place in life.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Our labor this Labor Day

 For a long time I have wanted to make the Blue Dot- Red Dot loop in White Rock.  You go down from Overlook park on the Blue Dot trail to the Rio Grande, follow the River Trail for a couple of miles, and then climb up the Red Dot trail.  But I have, quite frankly, been afraid I would be one of the many people who have to call search and rescue to get out once they get in.  The loop has around 2,000 feet of elevation change, between about 5,500-6,500 feet above sea level, and is almost 5 miles long.  And the uphill is all at the end. Well, I decided that today was the day! So at about 7:15 this morning, we dropped off the edge and into the canyon.  You can see the trail sign above.  And below, you can see one of the "Blue Dots" that mark the trail in the foreground and another toward the middle of the photo.  Yes, that IS a trail! We switch-backed in rocks for about a mile, going over level benches, then dropping again through the rocks, until we leveled out with the river below.

 When we hit the river level, these dots below showed us which way to head on the River trail to meet up with the Red Dot trail.  We hiked downstream beside the river for a couple of miles.

 Below: it was an awesome sight to look back at where we'd come from!

 We were quite surprisedto find there is a real "bosque" along the river: a forest, wet environment that was quite different from the surrounding area.  What a difference a little water makes!

 We came to the falls of the Pajarito Spring.  It was a lovely spot with a deep pool, and so unlike anywhere else in or around White Rock.  No wonder they call New Mexico the Land of Enchantment!

 Around the falls, we lost our trail a little, and had to search for some dots.  We eventually found the Red Dot below, along with the fauna: a local centipede.  We saw dozens of these along the route, along with dragon flies in bright blue, and swallows and other birds.

 The last mile of the Red Dot was back out of the canyon-- and, as you can see below, it was pretty steep.  It went up like this across rock faces for most of that mile.

 We were heading to the top of these cliffs:
It was quite a climb!  But lest I pat myself too hardily on the back, I should mention that my mother-in-law, who will turn 85 on Wednesday, kept up with me every step of the way!
 It was a beautiful hike, and a real accomplishment for me.  We climbed out just before noon, and were happy to climb into the car we had left on that end of our route before leaving from the other end. Now we'll see if I can still move tomorrow... What wonderful labor this Labor's Day! I hope you are having a wonderful day, too, Gentle Reader!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Sabbath Songs

We are singing this in church this morning.  The song contains lovely images from both Scripture and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

On the joy of having energy

Today has been a productive day.  I exercised vigorously-- at least for me-- before breakfast.  (That means completing my third day this week of Week 2 of the Couch to 5K program-- I am doing the workouts three times a week, but going slower than they say.  For instance, I did week one for 6 weeks before moving on this week to week 2! So I am now doing Curves three times a week, and jogging three times a week.) Then, after breakfast and a shower, I washed all the windows, with little breaks for quilting when I was getting tired.  I love clean windows.  But I have to sheepishly admit that I have not washed both the inside and outside of my windows since before my cancer diagnosis three-plus years ago.  I have not had the energy! But today, the windows are done, and most of the blocks for a quilt are, too, and we did a little garage-sale shopping and watching of track and field worlds to boot!

When one has energy to work hard, one hardly ever appreciates it.  But now, to return to that energy level after not being there, makes me very grateful to God.  I think I felt horrible for a good while before my cancer was diagnosed, as my body fought the weight I had put on as well as the cancer. .  And after three surgeries and radiation, it took me a longtime to recover. I know some people never really do. I am so grateful that God has given me that grace! May I use this lovely energy to glorify Him!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

I love September

I love September for many reason. Here are just a few:
  • School starts, full of fresh hope and enthusiasm, and I dream big dreams of all that will be accomplished.
  • The pungent smell of roasting green chile fills the air.  This is an acquired taste, but now it says "Fall!" to me.
  • The coolness of the mornings which remind me of fall, and the afternoon reminders of the heat of summer. Those cool morning temperatures call me out to hike, and the afternoon heat encourages me to hole-up inside with something to drink and a good book
  • The sense of the changing of the seasons and the changing of the light.  I don't know if I was just too distracted in my younger days to enjoy this sublime change from one season into another, and more than that, the changein the quality of the light as winter approaches.  Perhaps that is more evident here in the Southwest, where you have so much sunshine and can see so much of the sky than it was in the Midwest, where the trees can make one claustrophobic, the portion of the sky you can see is usually gray, and the humidity is stifling.  But the bright, white light of the summer sun is beginning to mellow and fade, and i enjoy its golden hues.
  • The aspens will soon change and display their richness, rejoicing with the change in the seasons.
  • The roses are in their final glorious bloom for the year.
  • The fresh tomatoes and green beans from the garden are abundant, and more flavorful than anything you can buy. The pears are weighing down the tree. As I prepare to freeze or can these delectables, there is a sense of preparing for the winter and providing for my family that is very satisfying.
  • Our sweet Nikki joined our family in September, and I don't know what we'd do without her.
I love September, Gentle Reader.  Don't you?  What do you love about it?