Thursday, June 16, 2016

Cabin of Grace

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

The Lord is my park ranger;
I have everything I need.
He gives me the key to a cabin in the woods
And leads me beside the still waters of the vernal pond
Where the trees all around rustle their praise of God's name;
Thus he restores my soul.
He leads me on the right path to get to the boathouse
and grows wildflowers in the nature reserve for his name's sake.

Even though the way is sometimes too narrow
and the hiking path is covered with mud,
I will fear no evil
For the park ranger has marked the trail with blue blazes on tree trunks
 so that I shall not be lost.
Though the ground beneath me is slippery, he will not cause me to fall;
he lifts my foot up out of the mud.

The park ranger tells me where I can buy matches, which I forgot to bring,
so that I can light the campfire.
You make it possible to prepare hamburgers on the grill,
in the presence of rabbits and birds;
You have caused me to remember the ketchup.
My cup of lemonade overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall sweep me along like the creek waters.
And I shall dwell in the cabin of God's grace for my whole life.

 - The Book of Jubilations 23:1-6

* * * * * * * * * *

I wrote this as a serious expression of gratitude to God for the three-day respite we had at this cabin in the woods earlier this month.  But when I recited the first line to my husband, he guffawed.    I stand by my portrayal of God as park ranger – to me it’s more relevant than the image of a shepherd.

Our three days was quite restorative.  We hiked in the forest, and got entirely muddy.  We observed animal tracks in the mud – definitely deer, and maybe raccoon tracks.   We saw a wild turkey, red-winged blackbirds, and heard a bullfrog in the reeds.

Another name for "vernal pond" is "mosquito breeding ground."
By a miracle, there were no mosquitoes during our entire stay.
Animal footprints in the mud.
Are these raccoon prints (after all, we were in Raccoon Creek
State Park), or, as my husband suggested, velociraptor tracks?
In any case, there was plenty of mud.

Younger Daughter got entirely muddy.  Even way more muddy
than in this photo.  She loved it.

We cooked dinner on the grill outside.  We roasted marshmallows.  We made 6-minute soft-boiled eggs and water for tea on the stove inside the cabin, and enjoyed blueberry buckle which I baked at home and brought with us.

Hooray for being able to buy a
lighter at the boathouse!

A week before our trip, we ran out of ketchup.  For the trip,
I packed one bottle of ketchup. Younger Daughter,
remembering the deprivation of the previous week,
 packed two more.
We canoed and did some fishing on the lake in the face of strong winds.   We observed my family’s time-honored tradition of going to the beach when no one else is there because the weather is cold and unpleasant. 

A fishie!

It was windy, chilly, and rainy.  That's my husband and
daughter in the water anyway.

We stayed in the cabin and read our books. We ignored the internet (no wifi at the cabin!).  YD played board games and card games with her Dad, while I wrote a psalm depicting God as a park ranger.  We played the “Jeopardy Game!!” which I made for my husband’s 50th birthday (which he happened to find under the bed while he was packing for the trip, and threw in at the last minute).  

Final Jeopardy category:  Sports.
Click to embiggen to read.
I lost because I forgot to answer in the form of a question.

It really was a cabin of grace: an undeserved gift.

Saturday, June 4, 2016


In honor of those who have taken AP exams, or final exams, or simply those who like Britishisms, I bring you this Common Household conversation from early May.

Younger Daughter: I have my AP test on next Wednesday.

Her Dad: What's the topic?

YD: English.

Dad: Okay, what's a popinjay?

YD: A conceited person, as in "a puffed-up popinjay."

Dad: And what is “bubble and squeak”? 

YD: A delicious mixture of potatoes and… it has potatoes in it, and maybe some other stuff.

Me:  And cabbage.*

Dad:   Bangers and mash?

YD: Sausage with a delicious sauce and more potatoes. 

Dad:  What is the American equivalent of "sod off"? 

YD:   "Go away!"

Dad:  Under what circumstances would you say "tally ho!"? 

YD: When you are hunting and you hear the trumpets.  Dad, these are Britishisms, not English!

Dad: And what about "Pip pip"?  What does that mean?

YD:  When you clap your hands and say “Pip pip.”

Dad:   What would be the literary, religious, and health significance of the bacon sandwich?

YD:  The literary significance is that it shows the relationship between his work, as opposed to his relationship with his wife.  The health significance is that he is ignoring his own health.  What was the other one?

Dad:  Religious.

YD:  The religious significance is that we are not supposed to eat bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches.

Dad:  I didn’t say anything about lettuce or tomatoes.

YD: Don’t you remember the part when he says, “There was too much lettuce,” as in there was some lettuce?

*I knew this because we dined on Bubble and Squeak in the "pub" at Epcot Center.
* * * * * * *

Here’s to the idea that the AP English exam should be a quiz on colloquial expressions of the British Isles rather than on techniques of argumentation.  But don’t ask me about those references to the bacon sandwich.  I suspect it is a Terry Pratchett thing. 

Speaking of Britishisms, fans of P.G. Wodehouse might enjoy this send-up of a certain political candidate and his butler.

Ta ta for now.