September 08, 2012

Staycation in the Rear View Mirror



The buzz in the e-reading world is that a couple new Kindles have been announced.  One is called "paperwhite" and it is said to further approximate the book-reading experience.  Kindles presently have a gray-ish background, more newspaper than paper book.  Additionally, the new one comes with a light which is handy for us readers-in-bed-without-wanting-to-disturb-our-spouse.  But I'm not going to buy it.  I'm happy with the current one.  As Jesus said in today's gospel, "and no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says 'the old is good'." The old Kindle is good in this case.

Speaking of Scripture, interesting first reading the other day. St. Paul is usually pretty negative towards the Corinthian behavior which is what makes this twist all the more surprising: "...For God will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hears, and then everyone will receive praise from God" (emphasis mine). I'm not one to look a gift verse in the mouth. Not surprisingly the hope-filled "Word Among Us" goes right after it in its daily meditation: "Sometimes we picture a scowling God...but today's first reading paints a very different picture. God the Father is indeed biding his time.  But what he's waiting for is his opportunity to praise every one of his children..". 

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So had brunch after a baby dedication day. Wish I'd gotten a chance to talk to the brother of my evangelical daughter-in-law and given him the "secret handshake" (joke) on his having become a member of the One Truth Church (copyright pending). He's now a Catholic, having converted after studying Catholic theology at the University of Dayton.  

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I fish out the season's last cigar, attempting to light the fat stub in the windy air.  I'd been good this year, having had only 2 or 3 cigars.  I read "The Bartender's Tale" by Ivan Doig while smoking.  Doig's book, along with "The Darlings", seem to be the last contenders for the next novel up. It takes a certain amount of effort to find a readable novel.  

So it feels the end of an era, the era of my weeklong vacation that is. [Insert sob here.] Of the 9 days off it looks like we had 4.5 sunshiny days, which isn't overly or overtly impressive, at least for the first week of September. Cloudumbus strikes again!  

Wednesday was a nice, hard manual labor type of day. Much different than my white collar norm. Two plus hours of biking and a half-hour or hour of tossin' dirt into the crevices of our backyard. (Our backyard topography is not always even.) I support being supportive, where possible and especially where demands on me are minimal. The 45 minutes of dirt moving was as pleasant as could be expected under the circumstances.

Earlier there was the glorious 2.5 hours on my steed, my bike, under a perfectly distilled September sun. Time in which to do nothing but become mesmerized by the passing fields, the dry corn stalks, the green and yellow soy fields, the resolute asphalt and the alert 'hoppers. And enjoy the sun. I've been a craver of rays at least since the day of Denver's song about sunshine on his shoulders.  

Under the sail of that morning sun, I took my time and tried to resist the adrenalin and exhilaration I felt riding on a summer morning.  So, so rare! I wondered why, of course, why I don't do this more often and the answer I came up with is that it's never, ever the same on a weekend morning. It just isn't. There are crowds of people breaking my dissociative abilities and the air just feels different, worse that is, on weekends.  There's a calmness and imperturbability to late summer weekdays that really doesn't exist any other time of year.  By this late in the season, most people have "moved on" and are occupied with tasks foreign and domestic, back to school and whatnot.  

There's something especially winsome about the 11:30am-1pm period, maybe even earlier. The day still has some legs left in it.  And so I clambered aboard the bike and set out at an easy pace, finding myself off path almost immediately when I came across a diversion in the form of a wide grass path through a local park.  It was flanked by goldenrods and bushes growing up to six feet tall.  I couldn't resist the spin around it even though it was harder going.  

Back on the trail I headed towards my goal, Plain City, founded 1818.  But then another detour.  I came across the House of White on the Prairie, that beautiful gem that sits in steady splendor for so many years.  I've always liked the house and have rode by it at least once a summer for the past ten, so did so again, admiring from afar the breath of country living, the pristine grounds and clean, well-cared for barns.  

On towards Plain City I rode, with dancing grasshoppers nipping at my wheels.  They come out in fall and sit on the path like toy figurines, like noble inch-high GI Joe soldiers of yore.  The asphalt passes under me until I come to the horse farm and where the trail is sided with stones.  On into Plain City I insouciantly rode, despite the miles piling up and despite the chores I'd have later in the day (namely spreading top soil over the backyard to try to level the topography).  On past the cemetery and the elementary school, new life and old death, and past the new city sign announcing its presence. 

Then back, back down the grooving path where old songs come to mind and religious questions as well, like "Whose life is it anyway?" (Answer: God's. I had surprisingly little to do with my own creation.)  I think of the Founding Fathers and how they fought for liberty and how it's not "they fought for liberty so we don't have to" but "they fought for liberty and so must we. Eternal vigilance, etc.).  This goes along with the tension concerning the controversial "treasury of merit" within the Church and how there's that tension between individual imitative and corporate help. 

The old '60s song "One Tin Soldier" came to mind and I realized how when I was young it seemed like the treasure in the song was a joke. They fought and died for something that said "Peace on earth".  But now I recognize that it's both ironic as well as true, that Peace on earth, with its reverberations of Jesus as our peace, is indeed the treasure. The song wasn't joking. 

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I guess the 18.5 miler did its work. I'm ready to remain in a prone and laid-back position for the rest of the day. Hammock, don't fail me now!  

I seem to get more and more 'meta" about vacations. I spend so much time analyzing the time off, writing about it, fretting about it, that I can't enjoy the time itself as well.  Even this, of course, is "meta", so apparently I haven't learned my lesson.  Partially I think this is due to the failure of a good week-at-home vacation, i.e. to get bored, which leads not only to a healthy desire to go back to work.  To have a space of time in which you go to the edge of pain - i.e. boredom - is a good thing at least once a year. But no such luck this time.  We've been pedal to the medal with activities and it fills a day just to prayvalanche ('prayer' + 'avalanche'), read, drink, and exercise. 

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