Buyer Beware.

Posted by: Richenda at Sunday September 21, 2008 in

While pawing through the Craigslist ads in search of a used car we came on this gem, a listing from Bellingham. The ad listed an unusual creature feature, lol—and I absolutely had to post it. For your $4,000 bucks you get a lovely white Volvo wagon: manual transmission, leather seats, and rust free. But be warned:

a bear chewed the bumper (seriously) and there are some scratches in the paint from its teeth. Purely cosmetic, possibly adds character?

I’d love to post the photograph of the bumper (complete with toothmarks), but I didn’t want to post the image without permission. Instead, you’ll just have to imagine it for yourself, lol. Think bear. Grrr…. :)

“Large black bear at garbage pails on wagon, Yellowstone National Park.” Published by Ingersoll View Company, c1905. St. Paul, Minn., U.S.A.

The above image was printed on a stereograph card, and unfortunately the largest downloadable size isn’t very large. If it helps, however, you can download it here. (1MB)

And just for all y’all’s enjoyment, I downloaded a couple more to-die-for-cute bear pictures:

From the Frank Carpenter Collection, Library of Congress. Alaska, 1900-1930.

You can download a 2000kb jpg of this image of the girls and bear cubs here.

Teddy Bears in a New York Factory. George Grantham Bain Collection. Library of Congress. 1915.

Download a 1900kb jpg of the Teddy Bear factory image here.

Ebb and Flow

Posted by: Richenda at Friday September 12, 2008 in

It’s been a while since I’ve logged in and I’m worried now that I’ll turn into one of those Seminary students whose life ends up washed away in a sea of Hebrew Bible Classes. In truth I guess I wouldn’t mind that, too much!

To make excuses, I haven’t blogged because it’s been a heck of a couple of weeks.

I broke my foot, for one thing. As I’m headed out the door on my way to my first day of Seminary, I forgot to pay attention to all my limbs and WHAMO, ended up with visibly mangled toes. (Eew.) Worse, I had to reach down and grab the worst of them and from its new creepy, backwards ‘L’ shape, pull it out and up to make it straight again. (Double Eww.)

I made the drive to Seminary, anyway (a two hour drive), as I didn’t want to miss anything. But the foot still hurt so the first thing I arrived I headed to the hospital. I spent orientation hobbling around the Salem hospital getting x-rayed.

The result? Of my battered, mangled foot, only the middle toe was broken. Oh, there was some pretty intense bruising, swelling and mangling, but the foot bones shining out from the x-ray looked sound enough. Good! So I stuffed my “Live Long and Prosper” shaped foot into my shoe and hobbled off. lol.

That was last week. It’s been a pain. Literally. But hey, I’m grateful for shoes that are sturdy, and I am also grateful for the reminder to PAY ATTENTION, already, and remember the things dangling off me are fairly important to my health and well-being so it’s not, I mean really not, a good idea to whip them around like I was the Tasmanian devil or something.

[Update on the foot: It’s September 25 and the foot is now in a boot splint. After almost 4 weeks it was still sore and…um…crunching when I walked. An x-ray confirmed that it was not healing, and I am now wearing a boot that will make me qualified to play a one-legged Frankenstein in any public playhouse in the country.]


I’ve also, like most people I know, been watching those hurricanes, Gustav and now Ike. Ike is terrifying and I understand from the news that people are going to ride it out. I don’t know about anyone else, but I still remember the pictures from Katrina. For some of those “non-evacuees” I could hear kids in the background. My heart stops still.

The strangest part is that so far away from the disaster, in Washington State, my life just sort of marches on. On the anniversary of September 11 this kind of struck me double. I kept my kids home from school when disaster struck that day, but yesterday I filed my bills and notes and cleaned up the clutter on the countertop. (My cat had been using one of my tubs of envelopes and ‘stuff’ as a litterbox—Triple Eew.) It makes the whole thing kind of surreal. How can I be sitting in my house worried about the nasty result of cat-anxiety when so many terrible things are going on in the world? How do you deal with that?

Meanwhile my husband hops a plane to France for business meetings. (His meeting place was right near the Iffel Tower so he sent me a cell pic. Nice!)

Without him, I was down a driver and his car is a stick shift. With my foot still sore, I do not want to drive his 5 speed, you know? As a result, my youngest got a crash, should I say a st-st-stall, course in driving a stick.

The nice thing about VW Passats is that they have the nicest gear shifts! Wow, talk about engineering, vewy, vewy nice.

The trouble with that, though, is it is a very unforgiving car to learn on. My daughter’s honda would have been a much better choice but she moved out. (Wah.)

Michael was a natural, thank goodness, and I’ll have to hand it to my fellow humans on the road: they were pretty nice about it the couple of times he stalled out at the intersection.

And…in all of this I began the meditation prayer group I’ve been wanting to start at my church. If you haven’t tried meditation prayer I just can’t recommend it enough. It can be hard, and all the rest, but wow, you learn so much about yourself, your life, your humanity, your world, and your God. If you are looking for a transformational relationship with God, this is it.

For the first sessions I brought an overflowing bowl of apples from my apple trees. Not only was it to make us think of abundant beginnings, but it also made the whole room smell of apples. Mm…

During this time I also got to wish my God-son a happy birthday! I can’t tell you enough what a great kid he is, he’s the ‘everlast’ with his brothers behind him. I’m not sure who they’re babysitting, but babies are always a hit with this group. :)

Talking to him made me sad, though, because we are so far from each other. There in the picture are three of my sister’s fabulous kids. But the majority of time they’ve been growing up we’ve been hundreds of miles apart. I feel like I’ve missed out on something very precious, something I’ll never get a second chance at getting to do. And that just tears me up.

And I cry out, and I’m screaming—I want to put the brakes on the march of time through my life. I want to get hold of the ebb and flow and make it all stop so that I can do all the things I want to do. How can I just sit here in the face of that? The loss in my life! The storms, the terrors, the things I’ve struck, or forgotten, or missed! I mean, if I really sit long enough to pay attention to that, I am overwhelmed. How is it possible to hold so much grief?

And what am I reading this week? Exodus. The story of exodus reminds me of all of this. Of amazing joy and devastating tragedy, that we are all strangers in each others’ land. From alien to nation to alien in the ebb and flow of Egypt, Canaan, Babylon… And all I can think of is those broken Egyptian bodies in the sand. Does it matter that the tambourine plays in the face of so much brokenness and destruction? My heart breaks at bodies on the river shore. What is this triumph? How do these things come to be?

Stay safe everyone under Ike today. I am in prayer for you.

Low Hanging Fruit

Posted by: Richenda at Tuesday September 2, 2008 in

I’ve been walking (rather than driving) to the mailbox a lot lately. That means nothing to all you city folk who have a mailbox outside your front door. But for me, I have to walk down the lane a little. And it’s late summer, so as I walk I get to be reminded of how beautiful the world is.

I’ve also been reading Isaiah. Now I’ll tell you, honestly, that the whole bible thing aside, Isaiah was a book I was ready to chuck at chapter 32. It is the whiniest, most violent and depressing book ever written.

I was thinking, “Geesh, Why bother? Age after age, the same old failure and destruction. And this book was considered the ‘fifth gospel?’ There isn’t any good news anywhere!” I was so depressed that I got to the point where I’m thinking, “Why do I even bother to get up in the morning??” I actually (not kidding) got up from my reading chair and went to bed.

[Note to Isaiah: What the heck?!? Can you get me depressed enough, already?]

The mail doesn’t come until 3pm, so after my nap, off I went down the lane with my little metal key. It made me feel better, taking that walk and getting to see the ripening summer, and creation all around me. (I think all the apples on our apple trees ripened overnight.)

I went back in the house for a paper bag and picked all the apples I could reach. All the low hanging fruit.

But, you know, I just couldn’t shake that feeling of gloom. It colored my world.
Like, why is it that the most beautiful apples grace the top of the tree where I can’t reach?

And another thing: We only got one pear this year. Just one, and it was lumpy. Last year there were so many pears that the tree branches hung down to the ground. But this year a late spring storm hit just as the blossomed opened. What a mess. A snowstorm of pear petals.

Though, you know, I’m not telling the pear story right. I need a dose of Isaiah to really perk up my perspective. Yeah, I need a story to extinguish every shred of hope, humor, or joy with doom and gloom and predictions of slashing vengeance. Something like, “and then the heavens opened up and the Lord sent burning blades of ice and fire-wind, shredding the pear tree, dooming it forever because it sucked, slicing its barren womb, and its bāal-worshiping, mincing warriors into a pulpy mess of flesh for the dogs to snack on like crazy. Curse the vine! Curse those pear trees, for a thousand generations!!”

Yeah. That sounds almost hopeless enough. Isaiah will also, no doubt, be happy to know that the berries I picked all got mouldy.

I can tell you, it was all quite enough of Isaiah for me.

But today, there I was, glutton for punishment. (What I really want to read is Jeremiah, don’t you know. But I make rules for myself, and the rule in this particular case is I have to finish Isaiah first.)

And so I read the second half of Isaiah. And wow! Talk about a different kind of day! Isaiah 2 is lovely. Now, there is the fifth gospel. What a beautiful book and what redeeming sentiment.

I was thinking, geesh! Throw the first part of that book away!

I went to get the mail today in a whole different kind of mood. There wasn’t just out-of-reach apples and one lonely, misshapen and accursed pear in my yard. Instead, it was a cornucopia-ed display of late summer. And you know, it was all so beautiful out there I took pictures.

Our amazing and grand Walnut tree with neighbor’s beagle underneath.

Homesteaders planted that tree, like, 100 years ago, and it’s magnificent. This time of year it drops its green-rind fruit onto the grass and some creature gathers them up and eats them.

And the plums are ripening across the lane.

And what about those pesky-delicious blackberries that stretch their spiky canes anywhere they can get away with? They were perfect, yummy and fresh. They even came free with organic spiders.

Against the backdrop of the pines, the berries looked like Christmas come early.

And you know I was thinking, only in the Pacific Northwest would a plant as beautiful as this one be considered a weed.

Only here would daisies grow wild and wise and watchful in the driveway.

Yeah. I love it here.

And that got me thinking some more. About Isaiah and that low hanging fruit. That in a lot of ways, the deep depressing depths of that downer prophet kind of worked. I mean, sometimes, it really can seem like God looks away, like everything is such a struggle and so screwed up. Right? Some days you wonder, why the heck did I even get up this morning? Why do I even bother?

And the opportunity on those days is pass through it to the second half. For in the second part of the book we learn that no matter what darkness may come, God hates injustice. God loves peace. And God is with us.

Unlike me, God can reach more than just the low-hanging fruit. God can reach to the treetops.

… I have redeemed you. Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it.
Isaiah 44:22-3

Roystone Cave and Hermitage

Posted by: Richenda at Wednesday August 27, 2008 in

From one project to the next! With Shrines finished, I am now beginning to transcribe Rotha Mary Clay’s book Hermits and Anchorites of England .

Stumbling around the bookshelves turned up something interesting on 13th century Knights Templar Royston Cave and Hermitage. I’m including a little bit more information, a tragic story, and a few pictures, here.

According to S. Baring-Gould, and his Cliff Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe, the Royston hermitage was likely occupied up to the time of the Reformation. At that time, though, the subterranean cavern was filled in with dirt. The cave was rediscovered during an 18th century renovation project, and the local townsfolk dug it out in hopes of finding treasure. Mr. Beldam of the Royal Society of Antiquaries turned up about 1852 to check it out, finding the bell-shaped cave:

“The cave is bell-shaped, and from the floor to the top of the dome measures 25½ feet. The bottom is not quite circular, but nearly so, and in diameter is from 17 feet to 17 feet 6 inches. A broad step surrounds it, 8 inches wide and 3 feet from the floor. About 8 feet above the floor a cornice runs round the walls cut into a reticulated or diamond pattern two feet wide. Almost all the space between the step and this cornice is occupied with sculpture, crucifixes, saints, martyrs, and subjects not easy to explain. Vestiges of red, blue, and yellow are visible in various places, and the relief of the figures has been assisted by a dark pigment” (from page 224-5).

They believe it had originally been—

“…an ancient shaft….But in medieval times the puticolus [porticus] was enlarged and converted into a hermitage, and a hermit is known to have occupied it till the eve of the Reformation, for in the Churchwarden’s book of the parish of Bassingborne, under the date 1506, is the entry, ‘Gyft of 20d. recd. off a Hermytt depting at Roiston in ys pysh’” (from page 225).

Most of the rest that Baring-Gould has to say follows here:

…[Dr.] Stukeley was quite convinced that Royston cave was the oratory of the Lady Rohesia, daughter of Aubrey de Vere, who succeeded her father in 1088, but there exists not evidence that she ever lived at Royston. The place takes its name from Rohesia, daughter of Eudo Dapifer.

“In 1537, says Froude, while the harbours, piers, and fortresses were rising in Dover, ‘an ancient hermit tottered night after night from his cell to a chapel on the cliff, and the tapers on the altars before which he knelt in his lonely orisons made a familiar beacon far over the rolling waters. The men of the rising world cared little for the sentiment of the past. The anchorite was told sternly by the workmen that his light was a signal to the King’s enemies’ (a Spanish invasion from Flanders was expected), ‘and must burn no more ; and when it was next seen, three of them waylaid the old man on his way home and threw him down and beat him cruelly.’ [footnoted as History of England, vol. iii. p. 256.]
“The following notice appeared in the Daily Express of 9 th June 1910. ‘A subterranean chamber with a spiral staircase at one end and a Gothic roof has been discovered at Greenhithe. It is believed to have been a hermit’s cell.’”

Gould goes on to say, on page 227,

“I do not recall any harsh words of the departed hermit. After the Reformation it was felt that a factor in life was gone that could be ill spared.”

And here are the pictures of Royton I promised you:

Sculpture in Royston Cave, Representing S. Christopher and other Saints, men in armour and ladies (facing page 220). (Photo by R. H. Clarke, Royston.) Large Size Image here.

Sculpture in Royston Cave, S. Catherine, the Crucifixion, the Five Wounds, and sundry enigmatical figures (facing page 222). (Photo by R. H. Clarke, Royston.) Large Size Image here.

Royston Cave, A section. The entrance with steps at the side is a modern addition (facing page 226). (Photo by R. H. Clarke, Royston.) Large Size Image here.

S. Baring-Gould’s Cliff Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe, published by Seeley and Co. Limited, 38 Great Russell Street, London, in 1911,

For more information, see the Royston Cave"> website.

Turky Carbuncle!

Posted by: Richenda at Friday August 8, 2008 in

What the heck is a Turky Carbuncle??

With my book finished, my collections delivered, and my office clean, I have returned to doing a bit of transcription. I am still working on the eternal Chapter IV from Shrines of British Saints , and as I’m typing along I come across this tasty little morsel:

By virtue of this commission [Henry VIII’s destruction of monastic shrines] there was taken out of the cathedral of Lincoln, on the 11th of June, 1540, 2,621 ounces of gold, and 4,285 ounces of silver, besides a great number of pearls and precious stones which were of great value, as diamonds, sapphires, rubies—

[Wait for it—]

turky carbuncles, etc.”

lol! Back to my first question, what the heck is a Turky Carbuncle?

I should mention this phrase seems all the funnier to me because the book’s author, especially in describing the greed and destruction of Henry VIII and his commissioners, at times sounds very indignant. So when a seemingly snooty and indignant person complains to you about the loss of his turky carbuncles…well, you could see that might elicit a giggle or two!

And the answer is:

Especially garnets, but any deep red stone with no faceting and a round shape was known in the middle ages as a carbuncle. (This is why the sore on your behind after a day on horseback is also called a carbuncle; it, too, is deeply red and round.) As to a ‘turky’ carbuncle, I couldn’t find anything in particular. But I am guessing it is a type of carbuncle associated with belonging to the Turkish territory or Muslim people.

And if you know something else about it, please let me know.

Though I can’t help thinking of all those gorgeous gold and garnet ornaments made during the dark ages by the Germanic barbarian goldsmiths. Were the garnets in those beautiful creations also called carbuncles? And if so, I think that’s a shame. Such extraordinary work, and the best compliment the poor artist could get was “Lovely work, Ulfic, love those pulchritudinous carbuncles.” Hm…not good.

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