Saturday, December 31, 2005

Echos of the past

We attended the memorial for my great aunt this afternoon, A. Born 12/10/1919, died 12/19/2005. A sad and somewhat melancholy day: sleeting rain and wind all day, as if the weather itself mourned her passing.

She was a kind and gentle woman; as one of her granddaughters said: "She believed that everything and everyone had a purpose and place". Housewife, mother, service nurse (USN, WWII). She rafted in her mid seventies, rode an elephant for the first time at 82, became a clown late in life, survived 6 months later than the doctors gave her.

She was a link to an increasingly disappearing past: Born a gold miner's daughter, one of six children (her next oldest sister, Edna, was my grandmother), raised until age 11 on a ranch 2 miles from the nearest town (in this case a slowly dying gold mining town) at 3500 ft., growing up without so many of the conveniences I take for granted (Her younger sister Claire said that they didn't have many toys to play with, but they had hillside!). She and her surviving sisters, are a link to a increasing dim echo of the California past; indeed, my past.

I have been up to the location of the Ranch, where they grew up. I have stood where there front porch was, walked down in the meadow where the barn was and my grandmother's donkey, seen the glory of the Canyon in the sunset played out before me, had the fleeting thought (as did my forefathers who mined before) that there was gold to be had there.

Anna E, one of the keepers of that flame, was buried in body today. Her soul rejoices even now in the throne room of heaven, where Christ himself serves her for all her faithful labor. The world is lesser for her going.

But we, the survivors, have a job to do as well.

I think perhaps this year I will go up, maybe hunt for the gold, take my daughters with me, and see if we can all hear the echo and make it go a little longer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Thoughts on a cool October evening

I'm struggling through depression at the moment. The impact of quitting The Firm and having to go back to a "real" job continues to reverberate in my life. Today I had to go perform a clinical audit. The doctor at this site is the same age as myself - the comparisons are inevitable. One begins to feel a failure, then the crushing weight of worrying about debt, then questioning whether one has truly understood the will of God.

Am I entering another one of those phases which approximates a middle age crisis? When one takes stock of one's life, realizes that many of the dreams one has will never get done, and begins to feel the cold walls of reality close in? Perhaps I understand a bit why men and women suddenly go off the deep end - it's a grasp of trying to deny the way things are, to get at the way we think things should be.

I took my job with much prayer and gratitude - yet only one month in, it feels like such a burden. The commute, the work, the missing time with my family...I begin to question "Did I pray enough? Did I seek God's will enough? Should I have held out just a little longer for The FIRM(Forgetting, of course, my mental and fiscal anguish at the end)?

Perhaps I need to take refuge in the fact that our lives, like the seasons, sometimes enter times of decay and death, but like winter to spring, will be renewed, as Captain Nemo (James Mason) says in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea, "In God's good time".

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Bee Sting

This weekend I officially joined the ranks of official bee keepers - I got my first bee sting.

It was sloppiness on my part. Having added the second deep almost a month ago, it was time to see if the bees had done well. I had never smoked them to this point - indeed, there was no need - so I thought there would be no need again.

When I cracked the outer and inner covers and pulled out the first frame, the bees came boiling out - and they were not happy. I was certainly not swarmed, but I was definitely jumped on.

Then it happened - under my veil, which I had failed to tuck into my overshirt, I felt something crawling. I slowly tried to extract my hand from the glove, but by then it was too late - I could feel the burn.

Remarkably calmly, I slowly walked away, shedding gloves, driving hangers on off, removing my veil, and then going into the barn, where I looked in the mirror and - sure enough - there was the stinger and poison sacks. I gingerly removed them, but the swelling - and pain -remained for a good part of the day. The next time I opened it, I made darn sure I was armed with the smoker. (The bees are doing well - we put on the first honey super).

The interesting thing is that the very thing that "mindless bees" will do - defend there nest - is something that a great many people seem to have difficulty with. To defend against an intruder or a terrorist is thought to be "extreme" by some - even questioned as being "savage" or "unnatural".

The bees, I think, would disagree...


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