Saturday, November 21, 2015

Enjoying Moby Dick

For some time now I have reading Moby Dick. It has many short chapters, but as someone recently said they are short but DENSE. I am thoroughly enjoying it, but tend to put it down for a period of time when things get especially busy. I am in the mode right now of trying for a chapter a day. Herman Melville was a superb writer on this, which is why it is such a classic. This week I ran across a section that I wanted to share. I am going to try to set the stage first.

The whaling ship that holds Captain Ahab and his crew is named the Pequod. I am over half way through the book, and they have just killed their first whale, a large sperm whale. The 2nd mate named Stubb had the honor of the kill. After towing the dead whale to the Pequod and securing it to the ship for the night, they proceeded to cut whale steaks, arouse the cook 'Fleece' to cook their steaks, and in the light of burning whale oil dine on deck in the dead of night. Meanwhile, "thousands on thousands of sharks swarmed around the dead whale feasting on its fatness." The sharks were making so much noise that Stubb summoned Fleece from the kitchen, to stand before him waiting for his orders. By his own confession, Fleece was an old black man 'bout 90 years old just waked from his hammock. Stubb proceeds to order Fleece to preach to the whales to quiet them down so he can enjoy his steak. Fleece goes to the rail, leans out over as far as he can go, and begins his 'sermon'. After a few colorful sentences, Stubb stops him and tells him that he can't swear in his preaching. He tries again several times but each time is stopped and reprimanded for his swearing and commanded to speak to them 'gentlemanly' to convert them.  Once more the sermon proceeds:

    "Your voraciousness fellow-critters, I don't blame ye so much for; that is your nature and can't be helped; but to govern that wicked nature, that is de point. You is sharks, certain; but if you govern the shark in you, why then you will be an angel; for all an angel is, is nothing more than de shark well governed. Now, look here, brethren, just try one time to be civil, a helping yourselves from that whale. Don't be tearin' de blubber out of your neighbour's mouth, I say. Does not one shark have as good a right as another to dat whale? And, by golly, none of you has de right to that whale; that whale belong to some one else. I know some of you has very big mouths, bigger than others; but the big mouths sometimes has the small bellies; so that the bigness of de mouth is not to swaller with, but to bite off de blubber for the small fry of sharks, that can't get into the fight to help themselves.
    Well done, old Fleece! cried Stubb, that's Christianity! ....Give the benediction, Fleece, and I'll away to my supper.
    (Fleece raised his shrill voice and holding both hands out over the fishy mob, cried-)Cussed fellow-critters! Kick up the biggest row as ever you can; fill your bellies 'till they bust, then die!" (You'll never be converted)

I got such a kick out of this. What a great scene...who could have dreamed up preaching to thousands of attacking sharks? And Mr. Melville used it to illustrate a great truth. I just love the old authors, and they way they wrote and knew Christianity so much better than I ever could.

*By the way, the above quote is edited to a more modern interpretation, by me.

Monday, November 9, 2015

October Birthdays

 Our granddaughter Kendall turned 19 and got a new car. She is going to college now, and commuting to Vancouver. So, her other grandparents leased this car for her to drive back and forth and save on fuel. I took a ride in it, and it's safer and has more room in it than it looks. Her mom had to find that out too, before letting her tackle I-5 in it!

On October 17th, Dad turned 94 and we were there to help him celebrate. We had a nice dinner out, and then opened gifts and had a chocolate cake and ice cream. He got a nice shirt, and some snacks to enjoy while sitting in his recliner. His best present was having the family all there with him, he says.

 On the 30th JoAnn turned 36 and we had a small family party with her....
 and her buddy Neil, who also turned 36 on the 28th.
 He got a Captain America flying disc, which he had to try out even in the dark!
And then on Saturday night we had a fun time with a handful of trick-or-treaters and watched the old movie 'Gremlins' while trying out 'Seattle Dogs' (which is franks on a bun with cream cheese and carmelized onions.
October is always a very full month, but lots of fun.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Whisperings and Explorings

 Indistinct; from which direction come the sounds? Standing on a creaking board I hesitate, trying to absorb it all. Though it's sunny outside, it's chill and dim here inside. The old living room wallpaper still shows the taste of a former rancher wife. Large pieces are peeling off the walls, but overall there is still a cheerfulness and hominess to the pattern. As I move into the kitchen I can see that the wooden kitchen cupboards are painted green, and adorned with old chrome handles. Some of the doors are hanging crookedly by just one hinge, and the old white porcelain sink is streaked with rust stains and dirt. Amazingly, the window glass is still here, but is too smeared and dirty for me to see through. I can imagine that the same rancher wife must have had a good view from her kitchen sink of the high desert sagebrush, the vast sky, and maybe even livestock grazing. The pack rats have been busy, making piles of debris across the old linoleum floor, and I move gingerly. Something catches my eye on one of the kitchen shelves and I reach up to find a very old pack of Rolaids that has been chewed on and then rejected.
Next I climb the narrow back stairs, watching for rotting wood, and gain the second floor. Walking through a succession of small rooms, presumably bedrooms, I scan for bits of lives left behind: an old metal curtain rod perhaps, or any furniture or broken items left behind, unheeded. The wind gently blows around the eaves up here, and I feel those whose lives were bound up in this place. Little skittering noises run around the floorboards, but all else is entombed in the whispering silence. How many children were tucked into bed up here? I know there were children as there are still broken swings in the yard. How many seasons of harvest did this family see? Was it a good life?
Back downstairs in the main room, I stand before the stone, cold fireplace, once the heart of the home. It looks to be made of rock possibly quarried from the surrounding dessert. There is a dusty, broken desk in a corner, and piles of leaves strewn about the wooden floor. Abandoned and lonely, the home whispers of its past, its glory days and its stories to any who will pause and listen in the silence. I can almost feel the people who once lived here, can almost touch their lives. This is the place where together they struggled, laughed, despaired, cried and loved. This is the house they called home and that sheltered them. They once came and I've gone back, so the two of us can almost, almost touch.
I shiver and head for the back door, back to sunlight and the company of my real-life husband. He is sitting on an old rusty abandoned tractor, lost in his own thoughts for a moment. Beside the back door a lone rose still blooms, on a bush struggling for life. As I bend to smell, it also whispers to me that here in this lonely place there is still life and beauty .

By Jennie

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Beauty in Resting

The insurance man and I recently returned from a California vacation. We decided to follow highway 49 on the middle-eastern side of the state, down through Gold Rush country.
This route took us through many small old towns, that once were boom towns from 1849 to approx. early 1900's. The town of Sutter Creek is in the Sierra Nevada foothills, and very cute and tourist worthy. There were a lot of vineyards in the foothills, and we wound all through the area until reaching the small town of Angel's Camp which is where our timeshare was located, as well as a major gold mining museum.
We made different excursions during the mornings, as the afternoons were HOT. We visited Columbia, which is a California State Park as well as a restored gold rush town.
Lots of restored buildings and shops.
This was the post office and Wells Fargo office as well.
This is the Columbia Hotel and where we ate a delicious lunch. (One of the only places in town with air conditioning.)
They have a wonderfully restored 2-story brick schoolhouse, and it looks like it is perpetually waiting for the students to arrive.
There were also a lot of wonderful old buildings and houses that have miraculously escaped fires over the years.

One day we drove south, and spent the day in Yosemite sightseeing. 
What a wonderful park, and what amazing rock and land formations. We enjoyed it so much.
This is the famous 'half-dome' and it is an immense part of the granite in Yosemite.
We saw the effects of the 4 year drought everywhere we went, and it was very evident in the lack of water in Yosemite. This is Yosemite Falls, and although it's often reduced in autumn, this was heart-breaking.
This was the view as we entered the park. What amazing beauty and power.
We also took a day, and visited the Big Trees National Park. We had not realized that sequoia's grew inland as well as along the coast. There is a large grove here, and although they are stressed from the lack of water, they do look healthy.
This was once a great tree, but after discovery men cut it down to ship around the world as an exhibit. Now it remains a famous artifact.
Such amazing size and it does make one feel rather insignificant. I'm glad God sees our insignificance ("What is man that Thou art mindful of him?") and loves us each.
A napping squirrel, tired from all his harvest activity.
We enjoyed this park, and the peace of the forest and the big trees. It was great to be off grid, and off schedule and able to do just what and when we wanted. We are blessed.




Monday, October 5, 2015

I Can't Believe It's Been 30 Years!

This last week, the insurance man received recognition for his 30 years as a Farmers Insurance Agent. He received this certificate in the mail, along with a nice catalog of gifts to choose from. He chose a new watch, which he'll probably get around Christmas time.
Then several company people were visiting our area, and invited us to a nice dinner out to recognize his 30 years of business. The agents from our district 09, went together to get him this engraved glass plaque.
One of the district agents from Prineville wrote a poem in his honor, and read it at the dinner, to good laughs by all of us. We toasted his effort and success...and ate a really nice dinner.
We capped it off by taking this photo with Kim, who is in charge of Washington and Oregon with Farmers Insurance.
His actual 30 year anniversary is October 15, and we are going to plan a little celebration at the office as well.
Congrats Insurance Man!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Best Way to Say Good-Bye to Summer....

is to celebrate with end of the season dahlias, of course! These first photos were taken in a lighter last of summer mood... and the following ones in a deeper autumnal mood.
All spectacular.
Last year, Julie and Amelia helped me cut, collect and arrange the dahlias. Great memories...great flowers.