Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
July 22nd, 2013


Yesterday I went out into the backyard with a bottle of frozen water, sat down in a lawn chair, and watched night fall.  This week in July is historically the worst week of summer, and the week had lived up to its reputation — over 90 degrees every day, oppressive humidity, warnings to the old folks to stay indoors.  Our Hart bus even parked an air-conditioned bus on Main Street, inviting sufferers to come in.  Relief was predicted for last night so I went out to watch the sky and wait for its coming.  Have you ever just watched the sky darken as night falls?  The rain did not come but  Martha and Dan came over and informed me that our Mimosa tree, which is now in bloom, is being frequented by hummingbirds.  I’ve never seen a hummingbird on this property and it was too dark to see properly but I look forward to a daytime sighting.  I expected mosquitos, but saw none.  It was a good musing time.

My birthday festivities are all over now, save for a  raincheck for lunch with Sis Ann.  They seemed to go on and on, such that a church friend deemed it “celebrating the octave of Dottie’s birthday.”  There were several lunches, a big cake, a small cake,  a designer cupcake, and tiramisu, flowers and plants, sundry gifts, numerous cards including four that actually said, “For your 90th birthday” and only two were duplicates!  Plus Facebook, which is a good place to gather wishes from far afield.

It was good to be able to spend a length of time with the grass and the sky, to check out the two new pear trees and the fig tree that looks like it will really produce many figs this year.  I note just on the other side of the fence a tree that has suddenly (where have I been?) grown huge, to shade-tree size, and I don’t even know its name.  It is definitely not a maple, perhaps an elm?  I must check it out.  One should know the name of a sizeable tree so close at hand, even though it’s not mine.

During the night it apparently did rain some but no storm as predicted.  Another hot day coming up,  only in the eighties.  I hope to watch night fall again in the near future–it’s a nice change from watching one TV program after another until I fall asleep.  A good time to commune with nature and count one’s blessings.


Nightfall. Fireflies in abundance as a bonus. Haven’t seen any for years!




July 16th, 2013


I had a meltdown this morning!  It was brought on by a TV commercial for something called a Perfect Polly Pet.   I was surprised by the energy with which I shouted, “No!  No!  No! No! No!  and shut off the TV.  Perfect Polly is a pretend parakeet that sits on a perch and looks quite real sitting in a cage.  When you enter the room, Perfect Polly chirps and turns its head and waggles its tail feathers.  It requires no care, no food, no clean-up, and stays quiet all night.  It is suggested  as the perfect companion for someone you love, at only $14.99.  My immediate thought was, “Please don’t give me a plastice bird for my birthday!”  Anything that is supposed to keep me company needs at least a spark of life.

O.K., so I over-reacted.  But I would be entranced by a battery-operated bird for about a minute.  I am reminded of the prisoner in solitary confinement talking to the critter crawling on the floor (an ant? a cockroach?  a spider?) saying, “Please don’t go away.”  He was hungry for the presence of another living thing.

Every senior person in every nursing home in this affluent country has his/her own TV to keep him “company.”  And, yes, TV does while away the time.  You get to know the personalities on the programs you watch and it is almost like having friends visit.  In fact, some folks are so dedicated to their favorite programs so that if a friend should actually visit in real life they can’t turn off the TV long enough the pass the time of day with their visitor.  What bothered me about Perfect Polly was the artificiality of it all.  Please, I’d like something REAL in my room–and by real I mean alive.

If you visit or call your  loved one often enough so that you feel no guilt, what might comfort them in their lonely hours?  Many dote on their dog or cat.  If that’s not practical,  how about a gerbil or a goldfish?   Goldfish live a long time.  My idea of a really fun gift would be a guppy — a pregnant guppy!  In a bowl, of course.  With fish food.  And if that went well, next time, after the babies are born, a flashy male guppy to flirt with the female!  And maybe a couple of snails to clean the fishbowl.   It could happen that a whole new enjoyable hobby would develop.  Or it could happen that  after going to all the trouble of buying a guppy and fish stuff for a loved one they would really rather have had a Perfect Polly Pet!

Shut-ins usually enjoy plants.  A plant requires little care, and it might even do something, like grow or bloom.  I still have the begonia that was in my mother’s room when she died ten years ago and I look forward to it blooming every springtime.    My spider plant  makes new spiders regularly.  I also have some air plants that Wendy sent from Florida two years ago.  One was blooming when I received it and made six babies (which I delivered and replanted) before it died.  Living things do have habit of dying now and then but they give you something to watch and care for in in the meantime.

I noted when my daughter, Peggy, died I found plants and flowers strangely comforting.  After a long cold snowy winter there comes an impatience to get outside, dig in the dirt, and put in at least some tomato plants and basil.    There seems to be a healing power  in nature as Bryant notes in Thanatopsis. He was only 17 when he wrote this:

To him who in the love of nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty; and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy that steals away
Their sharpness ere he is aware.

We admire the work of the craftsman in a mosaic, a fine piece of furniture, a quilt or sculpture.  I think perhaps the things of nature are comforting because we know that they did not just happen on their own.  They speak of a designer of infinite creativity, beauty, and power, beyond our understanding but there.

I am reminded of the little girl who did not want to be left alone at bedtime.   Her mother explained that she wouldn’t be alone.  God would be right there with her all the time.   “But I want someone with skin on!” she exclaimed.

It’s all very well to tell the lonely person that God is right there, with them.  Even persons who sometimes feel the presence of God only do so now and then.  In the Old Testament days people might really believe the stories about how God made the world and that he spoke through the prophets, and gave the Ten Commandments, but still God was invisible and for the most part silent.  I think perhaps God recognized our need for a “God with skin on” when he sent Jesus Christ.  He was like us, in all things save sin, walked the walk, suffered and died.  We could relate.

“Into the hand that made the rose, shall I with trembling fall?”

Even the Perfect Polly Pet had a designer.   But it doesn’t even begin to compare with a single rose.





July 12th, 2013


Face it.  My blog has not gone/will not go viral.   I rather like it that way, low on the radar.  I can write whatever I think and not expect blowback the next day, probably never.  It turns out that the lively dialogues that I really enjoy occur on Facebook, not here.  Facebook is where I (and many others) turn for human contact.  Facebook is where I play Scrabble and argue with grandkids and their ilk about global warming, or evolution, God or no God, Obamanation or Abomination.  Its amazing how much they think they know.   Without Facebook how would I keep up with the greatgrandkids I’ve never seen, like Caleb in New Hampshire and Aiden Lux in Florida?

We’ve seen a sea-change in society, we old ones. We remember a time when we left our keys in the ignition and didn’t lock our house doors. A time when children played outdoors (in the street), walked to school unaccompanied,  and played with each other instead of with little machines. A time when most people lived by the Ten Commandments, whether they knew them or not.   I have read that people today  have some lingering morality that is a hangover from the time when we had a Christian society, but it is gradually wearing off and having a diminishing effect.   When you think there is no God and no after-life, it makes sense to take and enjoy what you want when you want it, because it’s now or never.

It does not seem possible I could not have known what a lesbian was until after I was married!  (Nowadays children read about Heather and her Two Mommies in kindergarten!)  Though I truly loved my best girlfriends, it could never have occurred to me to have sex with them. We all eventually married and have the children to show for it.

More and more often I turn off the TV as a waste of time. Who knows how much time I have left! I find my musing time to be my most valuable time, you know, pondering eternal verities or intimate relationships, looking for insights, I guess you might even call it prayer time.  Believe it or not, life at 90 is still exciting.  Just a few months ago a student from Kenya, studying for his doctorate at Rutgers, asked to “Friend” me on Facebook.    I wrote back one word:  “Why?”   It turned out he had read my article on MercatorNet saying that evolution cannot/does not explain how the differentiation in sexes came about.  As far as I know, this young man in Manhattan and I are the only two people in the universe with the  same ideas on the subject!  A kindred spirit!

Another exciting online discovery this past year was what I consider to be the best-ever proof of God from design in a PowerPoint by an Indian blogger.  Also I was very happy to discover that Nick Vujucic, an Australian who I have written about before, who has no arms and no legs, has  married and is expecting a baby boy!

The first day of my 90th year (7/11/12) latest greatgrandson, Aiden, was born.   Here he is today, almost one year old,  in a Father’s Day photo with his Daddy, Robert Beck.   I have yet to meet this child in person.

beck boys

This year I have broken a toe and have had three facial malignancies removed. I am impressed with how this old body still heals itself. Six months after breaking my toe the toenail was still black. When I mentioned that to Mary she insisted on seeing it immediately. I think she feared her mother might be walking about with a gangrenous toe. Yes, the toenail was black, but the flesh around it was pink and healthy. It was April Fool’s day when the toenail got caught on my bedclothes. Lo and behold, it was loose and I lifted the whole toenail off, entire, painlessly, leaving behind a fresh new pink toenail. My face, too, shows little sign of surgery on the malignancies.   Then, too, I lost a  molar after 80 years of faithful service and am currently coping with a new, updated denture that used to attach to that molar!

Granddaughter Amy had a December wedding that was extraordinarily beautiful and I think I have raved quite enough about it.    My friend from the Rescue days, Anne Fitzpatrick, died this past year.   We became acquainted in 1988 when we slept next to each other on a mat on the gym floor at Niantic prison.  A widow, she remarried and we went to her wedding.  Following an accident we visited her often at a nursing home  in Springfield.  She was a good friend.  Rest in peace, Annie.

I would be seriously amiss if it did not here put in a plug for a book by another aged blogger, Leona Choy, who at 88 is still not only blogging away but writing and publishing actual print-and-paper books. I recently finished her Living It Up which was so chockful of wise advice and pithy comments (which I was tempted to use as my own) I figured I might as well just recommend the whole book. If you have an aging parent, relative, friend in a nursing home, anyone old you’d like to do a nice thing for, get them Leona’s Living It Up.

A recent snapshot of the times we live in  took place in Texas.  A bill was passed by the Texas House yesterday stating that unborn babies could not be aborted after 20 weeks, at which time we know they feel pain.  The bill  also required  abortion clinics to be duly inspected and have access to a hospital in case of emergency.   Pro-choicers attempted to shout down speakers by chanting “Hail, Satan,” and pro-lifers responded by singing “Amazing Grace.”     Every day the lines are being more clearly drawn.

I am sad about what is happening to our beautiful nation, “sweet land of liberty.”     I lament with Hamlet:

O God! O God!
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on’t! O fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!

Padre Pio’s advice gives me some peace:  “Pray.  Hope.  Don’t worry.”  We did not make ourselves or put ourselves in this world.  The God who made us  has shown us the way and is worthy of our trust.
And as life slows down and I find myself less able and less in charge  I remember Milton “On his Blindness.”

God does not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts,
Who best bear his mild yoke they serve him best.
His state is kingly.  Thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.

After five years my blogging is slowing down but I’m not quite ready to close up shop.   After all, I have new computer and my driver’s license was just renewed last month for another six years!

Stay tuned.