03 December 2007

The mud flat advances

The promised rain, slight as it was, produced little more than a slight dampening of our area overnight. Thought you might like to see the advancing mud flat at our end of Country Club Pond.

It looks as though the water is down about three and a half feet. I wonder how many rainy days it will take to get the water back up to normal.

02 December 2007

Advent cactus

The houseplants I managed not to kill through neglect last winter spent the late spring, summer and early fall outside. Tal found a perfect spot on the west side of the house in a corner where the foundation forms a right angle and where the mass of the screened porch provided good shade. Also helpful was the three-morning-a-week sprinkler schedule.

When the temperature began threatening near freezing numbers about three weeks ago and we thought to tend the plants, we discovered that not only had they thrived during their months in the real world, having grown alot, but the two Christmas cactus (cacti) were coverd with buds.

This photograph was taken today, the first day of Advent. I suspect both plants will have finished their blooming by the time the Christmas season arrives.

In the meantime, we are mindful of the need to enjoy them now, treating them a bit like the Advent calendar with deliberate focus at least once a day. It would also be nice if one of us would remember to offer them a little water now and then.

21 October 2007

This is my solemn vow

I officiated a marriage yesterday afternoon at Our Saviour in Trenton. I am solidly with the vast majority of my clergy colleagues in detesting weddings. Even I have to admit, however, that this one was different.

The bride and groom, in their late 50s and early 60s respectively, were radiant. The bride's three adult children presented her for marriage and the three of them offered the prayers. In that quiet, lovely, long-prayed-in space with the afternoon sun streaming through the clear windows on the west side, familiar words lingering in the air, each of the six of us fought tears, some more successfully than others.

Very occasionally I remember why I do what I do. Those events mark red-letter days. In my book October 20th 2007 is crimson.

I had the camera and tripod with me. This photograph was taken before the bridal party arrived. A parishioner, related somehow to the bride, for the sheer joy of it put the flowers on the altar. The fragrance of the lilies was transporting. The bride, tearful on her arrival, was unable to stay composed in the face of the tenderness of the gift. They took one arrangement home to enjoy over the weekend; I took the other and delivered it to a parishioner this afternoon in the nursing home when I delivered her weekly communion.

These other photographs came after the litury was finished and before I turned out the lights OR turned the air-conditioning back up. There's something about sunlight on wood that I find hard to resist.

20 October 2007

Living on a mud flat

Well, "on golden pond" is isn't! With our region's now long-standing rainless spell Country Club Pond is fast becoming a mud flat. The water is down three feet and yesterday's predicted and longed-for rain didn't materialize. Pictured here is the shallow end of the pond and the end of the deer fence which was designed to project six feet out into the water. This is now the deer's route to Tal's roses ...

Fall color is pretty brab. Leaves are simply turning brown and falling. The brightest color across the Ridge, actually, is in the soybean fields, the leaves bright yellow. Sadly, for most farmers the yield from those fields once the leaves fall is going to be minimal.

It's a dry time. But, such times -- agriculturally, spiritually, personally, if honored and pondered -- can also prove enormously fruitful. I'm hanging my hat there. I have to admit, however, that I'd prefer water to come eventually and refill the pond. Adapting to living on a mud flat forever, while certainly something I could do, isn't my first choice.

16 October 2007


Yesterday, after climbing into a tree stand before 5:30, followed by the trip to the fair in Columbia, Tal was in need of a nap. Whitby was so glad we were home, all he wanted was to be with Tal, so they napped together. Here Tal's blue recliner is stretched out almost flat and Whitby found a spot, precarious but comfortable, above Tal's head. He was so sound asleep I was able to enter the room, set up the tripod and make several exposures of three seconds or more.

Laughter is good for the soul. Whitby's contributing to my spiritual health just by being his faithful self.

15 October 2007

Fair food

Tal and I have had this day on the calendar since before I went on the Ansel Adams trip in September -- a visit to the SC State Fair. It's not that this particular event is something either of us particularly like. In fact, it's hot, noisy, dusty and crowded. But, it IS an event! And, we were determined to take a day off, and to do that requires leaving home. Hence, the plan.

True to form, it was all those things I listed above. Beyond that, though, it was colorful and interesting and even surprising. My #1 agenda item was to view the photographic exhibit and it did not disappoint. I gravitated to the black and white images in both the amateur and professional categories and had my preference for not giving photographs names reaffirmed. The photographer doesn't need to tell the viewer what to see or feel or how to react. Giving location is one thing; making the viewer get past serenity is another.

We fell into conversation with a man while there who is a member of the Columbia Camera Club. His invitation to join them some Tuesday evening was so tempting. Distance and job responsibilities kept the offer from moving beyond a nice gesture. But, that conversation helped me know I probably need to find (or found) a more local club and, by the way, that I must locate a class to learn PhotoShop and for guidance on printers and the like.

We also visited the flower and sand sculpture display. Always a favorite and this year an eye-popping surprise. The various garden displays installed by local nurseries and landscapers had very distinguished focal points: sculpture from Brookgreen Gardens. Probably 10 pieces, maybe 12. And the huge sand sculpture was of the "Fighting Stallions," the first thing a person sees when coming through the main entrance. Also present was a representative form Brookgreen's bookstore and a large array of books and other items for sale. Yes, it was strange seeing such familiar sculpure out of context. But, also a delight.

And, finally, here it is -- true confessions. Another aspect of the fair is a once-a-year thing that I hate to admit ... corns dogs and funnel cakes. Yes, it's fair food and, truth be known, it's only fair. But, oh yum, anyway! A supply of Rolaids is always a help after that particular indulgence.

And, now it's done for another year.

10 October 2007

From the judgment seat

After I posted yesterday's essay, I continued thinking about those drivers whose cars were left running while they transacted business. Noticing such things probably says as much about me as it does about them. Such as? Well, it appears my sense of righteousness, my flair for self-justification, my superiority complex are all, each one, quite well formed.

While I still don't understand leaving a vehicle running unattended and while I cited economic considerations (isn't gasoline expensive enough yet?) at the end of the essay, I realize there is more to this whole phenomenon than a car left running at the curb.

First, this is an isolated example of a larger issue. My brother, Paul, once commented after witnessing a particularly surprising action by another person which caused some confusion, "Well, that was thought-free." That, more than the pure economics of fuel costs versus comfort, is what I noticed. How many of those drivers really thought about what they were doing when they exited the car? Or the passengers who requested that they air conditioning stay on? I'm talking, I think, about being self-aware, about being thoughtful, about considering a larger scene than the one we're starring in at the moment.

Second, I can get all puffed up and privately outraged and innocently confused about cars left running unattended. After all, "I would never do that," insists Miss Virtous herself. But, BUT there does exist a host, a legion of things I do without thinking, a gracious plenty of ideas and positions I've always held that could use a serious re-thinking. Just because I've always thought a certain thing or gone about doing something a certain way doesn't mean it's necessarily right, and it certainly doesn't mean my way is the only way.

What I'm noticing on these unseasonably warm autumn days outside places of business could actually be the proverbial speck or splinter I'm so quick to notice in an other's eye while missing altogether the mote, the PLANK (let's make it 2X8X12), protruding precariously from my own. How much of the activity filling my days is thoughtfully evaluated for accuracy and worth and its effect on others? Focusing on what another person is doing and disapproving of it keeps me from attending to the things I can do something about, the ONLY things I can do something about. My own actions and attitudes and prejudices.

Cease the "tisk, tisk, tisking," Janet. Step down off your throne, oh, high and lofty one. There's way more than enough thought-free in the world to go around. The question I have to attend to is this: what is it I do in my daily life that would be the equivalent of leaving a car running unattended, the A/C on high?