This guy is fairly big as spiders go. He can bite, hard, but there’s nothing that can hurt you. He’s great to have around natural insect control. I love it.
Typical of these orb-weavers, he’s been hanging around the doors of the church and at the end of the social hall of the parish in this late Summer, early Autumn time of year. The strands of the webs will cover doorways or stretch between buildings. Some might be temporarily surprised, but they get over it right away, and find it rather humorous.
Last night was no exception. Our bishop graciously made the four-hour trip from Charlotte to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation Wednesday evening. We had fourteen confirmands:
Our next class (every two years) should be quite large as well. The Deacon from Maggie Valley Living Waters Retreat Center assisted, as did his son, who is the pastor of the next parish over, both good friends. It was the most packed we have ever had the church. The city of Andrews must have wondered what was happening, as all three parking lots were overflowing far unto the neighbors lawn. Ooops. Sorry about that!
Earlier in the day, in protective mode on behalf of the spider, I grabbed a stick and had him crawl onto it, and placed him up the steep ridge next to the campus. I’ve done this before and it’s taken him a day to get back. But, learning the ropes, he was back within hours and made a grand appearance at the reception after the Confirmation Mass.
The bishop and I ended up having a seat for a bite to eat outside the social hall at the end of the tables at the end of the carport, just where our spider friend dropped down on a bit of silk thread right in front of our faces. Haha! I swept my hand above the spider so as to drag the thread to the side. The spidey, not to be outdone, simply dropped into the food of one of the confirmands, which I immediately flicked off. Our confirmand said that spidey was crawling on me. I brushed him away, for the sake of those at table.
That didn’t work. Throughout the rest of the meal until the bishop was in his car, the spider kept returning to me. He was on a leg, on a hand, on my neck, on my head. Brushed away again and again. Back again and again. Quite the triumphalistic spider if you ask me. He was reeling himself in with his silk thread. I tried to ignore him as I was speaking with the bishop. To no avail. This went on for a good twenty to thirty minutes. The spider knows I don’t want to hurt him. The bishop was most amused. :-)
You have heard that it was said, keep your friends close to you and your enemies even closer. I say, made friends of your would-be supposed enemies. Our Lord did that with us, right?
This is a rare Cecropia Moth, as big as a bat. They don’t bite. They don’t even eat, surviving only for some days after caterpillar stage. For all of his fake eyes, this guy surely doesn’t even see me. I’m not in his purview. He’s on his way out. This picture was taken just down the way from the rectory at the gas station pumps, in the way of everyone, not long from death. Everyone was busy talking on their phones. No one else noticed him. Perhaps such things are not in their purview.
Are there other things not in our purview? Think about it. We can’t really know if we have no time or desire to see whatever it is we don’t even know we are not seeing.
So, we can ask whether Christ Jesus is in our purview. What a dumb question. As if we would even know what that means. We would ignore Him if we were without His grace even if He had His hands on both of one’s shoulders, trying to get us to notice Him. Our ineptitude of purview is total. What’s important is that we are in His purview. That’s what counts. We’re on our way out. But He sees us. Salvation is then wonderful to behold.
This gargantuan fellow was out at the hermitage, a Great American Hornet that is also called the European Hornet. There’s a controversy about this. Apparently everyone calls them only European Hornets. You have heard that it was said: “European hornets are the only true hornets native to the U.S.” Stare at that. Native. To the U.S. If that’s true, then can we not say that “The Great American Hornet, truly native to the U.S., is also native to Europe.” That’s my view of it from the hermitage. Making Hornets Great Again, and all that.
Meanwhile, Jesus has stood in our place, the Innocent for the guilty – for all human beings from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Jesus redeemed all. We do what we can that the many be saved also from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
In the face of that, can we be so proud of one nation over another? Well, yes, but on other levels. Those other levels, be they political, economic, social, linguistic, artistic, etc., are appraised not by relativistic standards – which is what most all do – but rather appraised by mercy founded on justice, on respect for the individual as necessary to the common good, on honesty and integrity about who we are before God, where conditions of whatever nation are either a help to the free exercise of true religion, of the sacraments, or not.
No individual is better of himself more than another individual of himself. We all stand subject to original sin and whatever of our own rubbish sin, and all of that is responsible for the death of the Son of the Living God.
This not being better thing is also true with time. We’re not better today than those of the past just because we live today. No.
Having said all that, and having been in – if I remember rightly – some 26 countries, it is America which is, in my not so humble opinion, far and away the best country, the greatest country. I’m NOT saying that there are not sins against life, against justice, against reason, against mercy. There are. But the Constitution we have is soooo much better than dialectical materialism, etc.
I am patriotic. I’m a proud American.
Thanks, dad, for helping me to understand. Thanks for taking me to all those 4th of July parades when I was a little kid. To all the fireworks shows. Thanks for showing me around Northeast Virginia, Washington D.C., all around this great country of ours.
A group of Ink Cap saprotroph mushrooms in the backyard… thinner than paper…
They come up in hours at night, burn away in the sun hours later after dropping their spores. So, I thought that’s all I would see. Instead, the backyard has been taken over by these guys.
Laudie-dog is scared of them, even though they seem to have contributed to her getting over her fear of heights:
Laudie-dog has not been shrooming, by the way, as these mushrooms are harmless if one doesn’t drink alcohol at the same time. These mushrooms are called Tippler’s Bane. Laudie isn’t a tippler.
Anyway, I know these aren’t exactly flowers, and I know they these are the ultimate “Natura morta” presentation to Our Lady, but – Hey! – this oldster is still fascinated by all that is nature as all that is nature shouts out the glory of God, with things being as they should be, each thing having its place, each cooperating with all other things to make it all work.
“Natura morta” or “Dead nature” is badly translated as “Still Life,” as in paintings that include fruit and flowers, things that are dead because they cut off from the supply of life from a plant or tree, and therefore are for the moment especially to be valued because of their passing beauty, the reference to “the flowers of the field” made by our Lord Jesus, the Divine Son of Mary.
I myself have often been the subject of analogies to mushrooms of all kinds, you know, someone who is kept in the dark and fed, well, you know…
Why give such a saprotroph to Our Lady? Isn’t that an insult? Not at all.
On the one hand, saprotrophs, in and of themselves, have a beauty all their own.
We, on the other hand, have only our sin to claim as our own, and that sin makes us less than the animals, less than anything, including saprotrophs, which instead feed on us and turn us to dust when the time comes, and it will come, much much sooner than later.
Good thing that Jesus even takes away our sin, so that we have nothing, as the neighbor to the hermitage told me recently.
And that last point, then, is what giving saprotrophs to Mary is all about, namely, it is about the wounds of Jesus witnessed by Mary, we casting our sin unto Jesus and, revealing the glory of the love of the only Begotten of the Father, we see His mercy upon us, having us die with Him, but this time on the Cross… under which Mary stood.
All that comes to mind with a saprotroph. :-)
Of course, we don’t need to overthink it when giving a flower to the Immaculate Conception. We can just do it.
It is said that this guy’s species is vulnerable, not quite endangered, but getting there. Near the hermitage, Box Turtles are everywhere to be seen. Like the turtle pictured above, they eat snails, raw. I guess you would have to call that poisonous Sushi or badly prepared Escargot.
If he’s eating a vulnerable snail, I wonder… if it went to DOJ prosecutors as handed over by SWAT teams from the deep-state EPA, which one would be protected more, the turtle or the snail. You’d have to kill the turtle to get the snail, which is already mortally wounded… So… Let’s spend billions of dollars on litigation while the whole rest of the world is going to hell and both the turtle and the snail die anyway! All so very absurd. I’m sure you can make analogies…
Meanwhile, in the Church, regardless of whatever improvements in policy are being made or not in regard to the abuse crisis over decades of more of the same abuse of authority, the ONE WHO IS IMPORTANT, JESUS, IS STILL NOT MENTIONED FOR MORE THAN FIFTY YEARS. How has that worked out? How’s the Church doing with that?
These guys have just jumped out of their little purple martin bird house a few feet away for the first time, learning how to fly, with purple martin mama anxiously protecting them from the neighborhood around the rectory which gathered to see the sight. I mean, these don’t look like purple martin kids, do they? I mean, the beak is hooked… Is that right? And the “babies” are already twice as big as the mama before they even know how to fly. What’s going on here?
Anyway, my first thought was “Flowers for the Immaculate Conception,” which I always have on the front burner. I’m thinking that that’s not a bad thing. Oh, and here’s another, who keeps looking at how far down the ground is…
Last night after the Vigil Mass the Latinos had a Fathers Day party, complete with singing and cake:
On Mothers Day the Latinos give all the ladies roses after Mass in the social hall with another party, of course. I said last night that the Fathers should get something as well. Many suggestions were made but all immediately dismissed as it was said that it just doesn’t work that way. But to my my way of thinking, it’s a gift to any Father to be able to give a gift on Fathers Day. So, a whole heap of flowers for you, Mary. I suppose the birds will fly away, having learned how to fly. But that’s as it should be.
Insignificant, unassuming, unnoticed, blending in, not because he’s humble, but because he’s the ultimate “gray man”, the one who’s a fly on the wall while actually being the elephant in the room, the most clever of all creatures. What to do with such insidious deceit?
The serpent in the picture, only some inches long, was seen yesterday in the gravel just outside the church.
“Look! A Squirrel!” Yes, the squirrels in these parts commonly lack color, so much so that there is a white squirrel festival complete with the soup kitchen guy wearing a white squirrel outfit put together by the neighbor to the hermitage.
On the “Day Off” I spent some time in town at a friend’s house, parking in the shade of a massive tree. Before going in, I sat in the car with the windows down for a few minutes checking emails and such. This girl didn’t like it one bit, parking herself on the tree just a few feet above me, scolding me continuously for minutes on end without a break. I thought I had better just go in so that she could get back to her young squirrels.
We fallen human beings thrive on being reprimanded when this is done for a good reason, is reasonably carried out, is consistent, predictable. And we learn. And we recognize that as a good thing. That’s when it’s all reasonable. But it needs to be met with reason on our part as well, a bit of humility. The Lord has given us commandments. As He said, if we love Him, we will keep those commandments of love of God and love of neighbor.
The reprimands for our lack, we have to know, will be as continuous as a mama squirrel. Our guardian angels will make sure of that. Count on it. Don’t discount it. When it happens, don’t get frustrated, upset. It’s best to thank our guardian angels for doing their job and helping us get to heaven.
It’s been raining. The creek is flooding over the road out front of the rectory, with the road acting like a dam. Water is up to the house. The birds don’t care. There are three here:
Meanwhile, Nebraska is still mourning, still suffering from its worst flood ever, with 76 out of 93 counties declared disaster zones. Remember this picture?
Tiny little feathered friends seen on the Day Off. Very humble, that. Merely receiving. Not grabbing. What does the Lord say to us all in Psalm 81:11?
“Open wide your mouth that I may fill it.”
Also, the Tree of Life, i.e., the Tree of the Living Ones, comes to mind. Adam may receive the fruit of the Tree, the Eucharist from the Cross, but Adam may not reach out his hand and grab the fruit of the Tree, pretending that in that way he will live forever, that is, because he reached out his hand as if he’s saving himself. No. But he may receive if he is receptive.
Adoration this past Sunday at 6:00 AM at Holy Redeemer:
This is toward the end of the Smoky Mountain Expressway near my parish, last evening, on the infamous “Day Off.” This is the first time since early 2011 to see any Elk. Big creatures! You can tell they are Elk and not Caribou since Mrs Elk does not have a rack:
To rejoice in God’s good creation is good. Mind you, this is not some nothingness, irrelevant, a distraction, forgetful of the worst torture and death, to be condemned as tree-hugging and a sacrifice to the gods and goddesses of new age hooey. No.
Behold, the praises of the three young men thrown alive into the fiery furnace but saved by the Lord:
Sorry, I couldn’t help but make the analogy…
Of course, Mary’s ferocity is to get us to go to Confession and go to heaven.
Anecdote time – and this does NOT break the Seal of Confession!
When I was a permanent chaplain in Lourdes and hearing zillions of Confessions of the 12,000,000 pilgrims that 150th anniversary jubilee year in the “Confessions Chapel,” the last penitent left the confessional leaving the door open. Another pilgrim appeared and, before coming in, declared before God and everyone else in ear shot (really a lot of people as it was jammed) that he didn’t know what he was doing there, that he didn’t want to be there, that he hated this, but it was just that after some moments in the grotto he felt compelled to come into the Confessions Chapel, and there he was, hating the whole thing, surely with his guardian angel smacking him down hard. And then he came in, closed the door, and…
That’s how our Lady works. Don’t mess with Jesus’ good mom. She’ll get you every time.
My last sightings of the majestic Kingfisher were back in Minnesota at “The Pond.” The King has a magnificent crest reminiscent of a crown. You can’t see it in the picture above as his head is turned entirely sideways in the opposite direction as he rearranges the swallowing in one gulp of a fish about as long as he is. This is just some few feet outside the window of the rectory. He’s over the creek next to the rectory. There are plenty of minnows and small fish. Here’s what they otherwise look like:
I remember the ones in Minnesota had blue markings and perhaps the familiar rust-belt. And they were much bigger, more like the size of crows, much bigger than Blue Jays.
Meanwhile, Father CC in the diocese here texted me about the reading of the Passion for Palm Sunday. As is his want, he pointed out some worthy to be noticed incisive irony on the part of Jesus over against Simon Peter:
“Jesus calls him Simon when speaking of his strength in confirming the brethren, but Peter (the Rock) when speaking of his weakness in denying Him.”
Ha ha ha. And then: Yikes!
Pray for Pope Francis, that he may confirm the brethren and not deny our Lord.
Pray for Pope Francis that he might follow our King, Jesus and be a fisher of men.
This is the third maxed out size wise momma snapper turtle that I’ve seen in the last couple of weeks looking to find a place to lay her eggs crossing the road and ending up getting run over on purpose. I say that because people would have had to swerve to have their tires hit the ones I saw. And I did see one crossing the road in the middle of a lane and the knucklehead did just that, swerved so as to hit it with a tire. I hate that.
This ol’ gal didn’t look too badly damaged. I figured with a little help she could at least crawl to a place to lay her eggs and then die of an infection some weeks later. I stopped, as did a number of other vehicles on the side of the road, and we all got her safely into the ditch and crawling away. Huge turtle.
I’ve seen the same thing with Mountain rattlers, with the knuckleheads first running the snake over, then stopping and cutting the head and the rattler off. People can be so mean.
Stats have it that people who are mean to animals like this do exactly the same thing to the human beings around them, hitting them, smacking them down, yes, running them over on purpose. And they don’t have to start with animals, just go right to being violent with human beings.
Oh. I forgot. I was so busy being sanctimonious that I didn’t want to notice that my sins did that to Jesus. Sorry, dear Lord.
From a reader:
“I thought you would be interested in what caused a lot of the damage during the flooding. This is my brother in law […]. The ice chunk he is leaning on is actually made up of several sheets of river ice that were broken loose from the edges of the river then they refroze together. By the way this is a smaller one.
“MANY bridges gone. Parts of roads gone. Homes gone. Whole herds of cattle gone. A man and his house, barn, bait shop, and saloon business gone. Spring calves dead or gone.
“One man was crossing a bridge to rescue his brother when the bridge washed out taking his 8430 John Deere tractor and him away. They say his body washed up right where he lived on the river.
“We talked to […] and […]. 2/3 of the 24,000 residents of Norfolk we evacuated but they did not evacuate. The evacuation line was at the end of their street. We talked to […]’s brother […] and life is getting back to normal in our little town of Stuart.
“They took a backhoe and cut two 6 foot wide trenches right through the road to let some of the water out of town. I guess a lot of folks are without power because some of the power lines crossed the river. Several little towns have lost their town wells because now they are contaminated.”
Sorry, I guess the phone camera moved slightly and got a double digital exposure while trying to collect more light.
Werewolves and lunatics… a commonality among diverse and disparate cultures geographically and across the millennia. Interesting, that. I recall also that The Woman clothed with the sun stands upon the moon. Haha.
It’s fun to have a good imagination. Let’s play “What if?”
These pictures were taken late afternoon 13 December 2018. Moving relatively quickly. Note, above, how the other surrounding, higher clouds, move away from the darker clouds in a circular fashion, pushed away by the darker clouds below. That‘s an indicator that something serious is amiss. The darker clouds aren’t dropping, but rather moving over the terrain. I’m guessing that the length of this event, from nearer to farther away, just of the darker stuff, is about a mile all told. Give it a couple of miles for the spreading of the upper clouds. Give it more for whatever effect on the ground. Remember, these are moving relatively quickly. I was really fumbling to get my camera in traffic as I didn’t want to just let them fly by. They are roiling and boiling but staying together.
At first glance I thought these were clouds of trillions of starlings. If you’ve ever seen the shows they put on – common in Rome, Italy – you would know what I mean. But these didn’t have the ever changing shapes of starling acrobatics. You’ll notice that there seems to be a more concentrated opaque center of the “clouds” with a weird semi-transparent “net” – if you will – draped over the opaqueness. But, let’s look closer:
The outer “net” is not liquid, like rain, as it defies gravity, and equally surrounds the center both below and above, all around, like roiling boiling fumes, not H20 based, with H20 opaqueness, but more like gasoline fumes that roil and boil and are transparent, providing a more blotchy appearance. What you’re looking at is not the wispiness of H20 clouds, but the the messiness of roiling boiling fumes. Let’s tweak the raw picture a bit to make it darker:
This is just 50 miles as-the-toxic-cloud-flies from Oak Ridge, TN, with all of their testing sites. These were coming from exactly that direction. This defies further description. By the time I got home, just a stone’s throw away, these darker clouds had already raced away.
That’s the entertainment of imagination for the day. I’m sure there’s a name for such meteorological formations for both upper lighter and lower darker clouds, something like “downburst” or some such ill fitted name. There was no down and no burst. All was at a dead calm. I’m sure there’s a reason why the wispiness did not have H20 opaqueness but was transparent and not at all wispy, but rather roiling and boiling. I’m sure there’s a reason why they were flying relatively quickly.
It’s just that I’ve never seen anything like this in clouds since I was born. Anyway, if these were toxic and just a test, there’s no reason to question it. After all, there’s no one important who lives in these remote mountains, right? //off sarcasm
Again, just my fun imagination.
The locals call these guys turkey buzzards, which buzz around big as wild turkeys. I just call them vultures. I’ve seen as many as seventy in a “kettle” (as if swirling in a kettle up in the sky) above an active landfill that handles household garbage. But in the midst of the back forest ridges near the hermitage on any day off I might see just a few on the road, like bandits. They’ve been here at the exact same spot on the gravel one-lane hermitage mountain road near the waterfall for the seven or eight years I’ve been driving this road, never with road kill, just owning the place. They’ll move just off the road for a vehicle that dares approach them. I’ve wondered what they would do if I were walking alone on the road and acted with timidity, skittish, hesitant, backing up a step, and then another. What I don’t have to wonder about is that acting with confidence is 99% of any success in dealing with any would-be adverse encounter, and can pretty much control any outcome. Bravely walk up to these monsters and they’ll run away.
Dealing with the dark side is one thing. Quite another is dealing with human beings who are not perceptive to mind tricks, but are instead wasted on drugs, especially the drug of, say, counterintel, and it is a drug, with all the same effects, unless… And, by the way, we’re all lost to mind games on every level of our lives, unless… unless we have a constant which cuts through all mind games, that which is more powerful than mind games, more powerful than anything we hold dear in this world, including life here. That Constant is the Cross. Love, like Wisdom, cuts through idiocy. The world spins about while the Cross remains a constant.
Don’t be lost to a palimpsestic faith. Truth is Love is God, ever ancient, ever new, always the same, always full of Life. Our thinking that we can edit Truth, edit Love, edit Life is where all our shattered ways bring darkness. In our stupidity, we think that spreadsheeting analysis of stats based on fallen human nature takes account of all reality and is the key to unlocking mysteries. Pffft. Soooo NOT. When it comes to Truth who is Love who is Life, so that we walk with Truth, with Love, with Life, then it’s no longer an iffy confidence manipulating success 99% of the time, then there is success 100% of the time, with success not being measured in this world, but by being drawn into eternal life.
There’s no greater joy before the angels of heaven than when…
Didn’t expect that, did you?
These were seen near the hermitage on the last kind-of-day-off. (I haven’t been able to target practice for the last number of weeks, so any day-off isn’t really a day-off.)
If this is a dead red oak tree (hard to tell because the mushrooms are so thick) there’s a good chance that these are little baby Laetiporus sulphureus, otherwise known as Chicken of the Woods shelf mushrooms. “Chicken” because, just like rattle snakes, they taste like chicken. They can get big (from Wikipedia:).
Each shelf is like a chicken breast, prepared just the same way. Delicious. I used to fry these up on the wood stove in the hermitage.
O.K. These are not quite “flowers” if you have to be technical about it. But, if these were Chicken of the Woods and I was a kid with a chainsaw, I would cut the tree so that it wouldn’t quite fall all the way down. I’d get the bed of the truck near to one end and tie up the log with a chain to the back of the truck so that when the rest of it fell it wouldn’t hit the ground except for just the far end. Then I would drag it back to the house and prop it up on one end with some other logs, and then watch the proliferation of chickens, as bright as any flowers could ever be.
Then, when the chickens are all eaten up, the log is still great for firewood if you chop it up right away. Otherwise the roots of the mushrooms will rot the wood fast.
I don’t think Jesus’ good mom would object to such a monstrosity in her garden. It might even put a bit of a smile on her face. Sometimes a little imagination, a little thinking outside the box goes a long way.