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Off the top

A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

trillium Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

it's easy being green: oak tree & grass Posted by Picasa

tattered leaves

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Yesterday my family and I picnicked at a park by the local lake. The weather has been unseasonably warm, which has enhanced the verdancy of the natural spring flora. Unfortunately, the weather also seems to have brought out a bumper crop of inchworms which have feasted rampantly upon the trees.

The damage creates a beautiful effect, however, in the backlighting from sky and water combined with the natural interplay of light and shadow upon the leaves.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Rumbling and crash helmets and head-shaving, not necessarily in that order

Joe Carter must’ve been getting bored out there at the outpost. He did what any self-respecting male would do in his situation; he picked a fight. Hoping to incite a Royal Rumble in Godblogdom, it seems, our dear friend resorted to brash insult. Never mind that in person Joe’s as unassuming as they come; we all know where a blogger’s true colors shine. Even his best blog-friends and associates, which include some of the finest godbloggers out there, did not escape his affront -- not even Tim Challies, Michael Spencer, nor David Wayne. Sheesh!

What's worse, Joe even saw fit to pick on women. Of the Intellectuelles, he asked some deep, heartfelt questions:

Do you keep your heads covered when you write your blog posts? Also, if you read something on a theoblog do you have to ask your husbands to explain it for you? (I know the church rules don't apply to blogging. But still...)

Our own Catez made a right royal complementarian response (since she was the one wearing the helmet):

I can assure you that I take headcovering very seriously and in a theologically astute manner. A woman must have her head covered when writing blog posts. If she doesn't something terrible happens to do with angels and the complete decline of the family. Not sure of the details. To the point - as I sit here responding to this probing question I am wearing a motorcycle helmet. The visor is up. Of course not everyone will wear a motorcycle helmet, but I will point out that the type of headcovering to be worn is not specified and I like helmets. Helmets cover the whole head, and are not just a partial covering which leaves big spaces for the angels to slip under. I've been told by the bikers at the bar where we go evangelising that my helmet is quite attractive.

On to the second question. Unfortunately many theoblogs defy explanation from persons of either gender. Sometimes I give up part way through a post and watch video reruns of Spongebob Squarepants instead. I often wear my motorcycle helmet while doing this as apparently Spongebob is a subversive influence and watching without a covering can cause the complete decline of the family. And who said church rules don't apply to blogging? Sounds like a dash of cultural relativism there.

Catez went on to rumble I mean celebrate with David Wayne over his most excellent post, Throwing Mark Driscoll Under the Bus (which I was going to link to myself but now don’t have to).

Well, not to be outdone or to turn the other cheek or anything, the Jolly made his own most gracious response to Catez in Why I’m More Gracious and Spiritual Than You Are:

I Corinthians 11 tells us that our spirituality is governed by what is on our heads. You women are not to pray with your head uncovered and us guys are not to pray with our head covered. So, I have taken this exhortation quite literally and this has payed off handsomely in terms of spirituality and graciousness.

What I have done is this, not only do I not wear a hat when praying, preaching or blogging, I have shaved my head. And not just the top of my head, but any and all hair attached to my head in any way.

I shave my eyebrows and clip my eyelashes at least once a week.

My wife plucks my ear hairs on a regular basis.

Recently my son took a lighter and stuck it up my nose and singed off all of my nose hair. This has an economic benefit since the nose hair is now permanently gone and I can quit buying electric nose hair trimmers. I've burned up three this year already.

Sometimes I even use Nair on my whole head just to be safe, but I gotta tell you that when I spray it up my nose it really messes me up.

I'm actually quite hideous to look at, that's why in the pictures you see of me I've got on hair pieces and heavy theatrical makeup. I hear that sometimes kids read my blog so I don't want to scare them.

But being completely hairless I am also far more spiritual than almost anyone I know. This is my secret to being gracious - I have less hair than anyone else and it makes me more spiritual, gracious and humble than anyone.

Go on, read the whole thing.

You gotta wonder about a guy who messes with Nair and encourages his wife to grow a mustache, though. Not to mention the stiletto heels and pink chiffon (see comments at link). But all this does explain the perpetually-jolly visage sported by the Jollyblogger at the last GodBlogCon – it’s amazing what they can do with theatrical makeup these days.

(Whew, now I can take off this ridiculous wig. I think I’ll go back to letting my husband write; this head-covering stuff is not for the faint-hearted.)
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Friday, May 26, 2006

chimney and branches Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 25, 2006

treetops in spring Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

top of the slide

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(Can you see how this shot "connects" with the one posted yesterday?)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

playground, bars and chains

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The chains pictured suspend one of those walking bridges you can find in large playset constructions at public playgrounds. It’s interesting to watch kids approach these bridges -- some are completely fearless; others (usually the younger ones) are timid because of unsure footing on the bridge.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Intellectuelle update

Don't forget to check out Intellectuelle -- Melinda of Stand to Reason discusses which (or whose) side God might be on; Ilona of Truegrit continues an in-depth discussion on women and their place in the church as the Trinity may inform such understanding; and I write an essay on nightmares - I mean on the psyche and art.

Feel free to leave a comment!

hyacinth by the window

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I got this lovely white hyacinth for Mother's Day. It had barely begun to bloom but has since blossomed fully and perfumed my entire kitchen area.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

maple leaves 2 Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 19, 2006

There's a reason they call it "chokecherry"

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

spring ash

(on an overcast day)

Actually it's a green ash, in our yard.

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I had to lighten the original exposure quite a bit to compensate for backlighting (there's a meter-override function on my camera but I haven't figured out how to use it yet :-P )

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

wild strawberry

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The wild strawberries have kind of taken over the landscaping around our garage, but I can’t decide whether I mind or not :-). I shot this late in the evening after a rain shower.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Hazards to society

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political cartoon by Michael Ramirez dated May 9, 2006

Monday, May 15, 2006

T. S. Eliot on the family

"But by far the most important channel of transmission of culture remains the family: and when family life fails to play its part, we must expect our culture to deteriorate. Now the family is an institution of which nearly everybody speaks well: but it is advisable to remember that this is a term that may vary in its extension. In the present age it means little more than living members. Even of living members, it is a rare exception when an advertisement depicts a large family or three generations: the usual family on the hoardings consists of two parents and one or two young children. What is held up for admiration is not devotion to family, but personal affection between the members of it: and the smaller the family, the more easily can this personal affection be sentimentalised. But when I speak of the family, I have in mind a bond which embraces a longer period of time than this: a piety toward the dead, however obscure, and a solicitude for the unborn, however remote. Unless this reverence for past and future is cultivated in the home, it can never be more than a verbal convention in the community. Such an interest in the past is different from the vanities and pretensions of genealogy; such a responsibility for the future is different from that of the builder of social programmes."

-- from Christianity and Culture: The Idea of a Christian Society and Notes towards the Definition of Culture. original copyright 1940, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A card for mothers

This is actually a birthday card that I received from a wonderful lady (a mother, grandmother, and baby-sitter extraordinaire), but I thought that you mothers (especially those of you who have or have ever had very young children) would appreciate it today.

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(card design copyright Hallmark Licensing, Inc.)

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 12, 2006

On their way out

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I took this photo several days ago during the daffodils’ final days of glory. I wanted to capture their form and beauty without a lot of background clutter (which, in our yard, isn’t easy :-) ).

These particular daffys grow in a clump at the foot of a tree, so I was able to shoot from an angle that set them off against the hazy evening sky. The muted lighting helps convey the sense that the flowers are nearing their bloom's end, yet the sky outlines their still-lovely form. The quality and direction of the light gently defines the petals' contours.

The title is a play on words based on the fact that the blooms are getting a tad “crispy,” yet their bearing, as seen from this perspective, gives these "lovely ladies" the appearance of being “dressed” to go out. A metaphor for aging, yes; it concurs with thoughts I’ve had lately regarding the aging of the older women in my family not to mention my own. (my photography helps me come to terms with things :-) ).

I enhanced the contrast and color a bit from the original exposure in order to intensify the yellow color and make the daffys stand out even more from the background.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

maple tree B&W Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

At the Corner of the Eye

by Patricia Hooper

In Science, years ago,
the teacher assigned homework:
study the night sky,
wait till a star flickers
at the corner of the eye,
then turn to face it squarely
and see it disappear.
I watched, amazed: stars glittered
and vanished, reappeared
just as I turned away.
They were the herons rising
over the field the day
I searched for tadpoles, watching
the blue sky of the pond, then saw it pulse with wings.
Or they were someone’s face
half-glimpsed, a look I’d longed for,
that vanished when I looked.
Or they were something else:
a vision, seen askance,
that flickered in the mind,
an unexpected light
I turned to recognize,
then looked for all my life
and never saw again.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

maple leaves Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 08, 2006

maple tree Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Today’s message is brought to you by my good friends, Frog and Toad.

(This is the chapter titled, “Cookies,” from Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel.)

Toad baked some cookies.
“These cookies smell very good,” said Toad.
He at one.
“And they taste even better,” he said.

Toad ran to Frog’s house.
“Frog, Frog,” cried Toad, “taste these cookies that I have made.”
Frog ate one of the cookies.
“These are the best cookies I have ever eaten!” said Frog.

Frog and Toad ate many cookies, one after another.
“You know, Toad,” said Frog, with his mouth full, “I think we should stop
eating. We will soon be sick.”
“You are right, “ said Toad.
“Let us eat one last cookie, and then we will stop.”

Frog and Toad ate one last cookie.
There were many cookies left in the bowl.
“Frog,” said Toad, “let us eat one very last cookie, and then we will stop.”

Frog and Toad ate one very last cookie.
“We must stop eating!” cried Toad as he ate another.
“Yes,” said Frog, reaching for a cookie, “we need will power.”

“What is will power?” asked Toad.
“Will power is trying hard not to do something that you really want to do,”
said Frog.
“You mean like trying not to eat all of these cookies?” asked Toad.
“Right,” said Frog.

Frog put the cookies in a box.
“There,” he said. “Now we will not eat any more cookies.”
“But we can open the box,” said Toad.
“That is true,” said Frog.

Frog tied some string around the box.
“There,” he said. “Now we will not eat any more cookies.”
“But we can cut the string and open the box,” said Toad.
“That is true,” said Frog.

Frog got a ladder.
He put the box up on a high shelf.
“There,” said Frog.
“Now we will not eat any more cookies.”

“But we can climb the ladder and take the box down from the shelf and cut the
string and open the box,” said Toad.
“That is true,” said Frog.

Frog climbed the ladder and took the box down from the shelf.
He cut the string and opened the box.
Frog took the box outside.
He shouted in a loud voice, “HEY BIRDS, HERE ARE COOKIES!”

Birds came from everywhere.
They picked up all the cookies in their beaks and flew away.

“Now we have no more cookies to eat,” said Toad sadly. “Not even one.”
“Yes,” said Frog, “but we have lots and lots of will power.”
“You may keep it all, Frog,” said Toad.
“I am going home now to bake a cake.”

lines and curves Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 05, 2006

tree shadow on lawn Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

bleeding heart Posted by Picasa

Desire and misery

"But while that Tree flourishes she will never come down into Narnia. She dare not come within a hundred miles of the Tree, for its smell, which is joy and life and health to you, is death and horror and despair to her." (spoken by Aslan)

..."I forgot to tell you. The Witch has already eaten one of those apples, one of the same kind that Tree grew from." (spoken by Digory)

"So we thought, Aslan," [Polly] said, "that there must be some mistake, and she can't really mind the smell of those apples...she ate one."

"Child," he repied, "that is why all the rest are now a horror to her. That is what happens to those who pluck and eat fruits at the wrong time and in the wrong way. The fruit is good, but they loathe it ever after."

"Oh I see," said Polly. "And I suppose because she took it in the wrong way it won't work with her. I mean it won't make her always young and all that?"

"Alas," said Aslan, shaking his head. "It will. Things always work according to their nature. She has won her heart's desire; she has unwearying strength and endless days like a goddess. But length of days with an evil heart is only length of misery and already she begins to know it. All get what they want: they do not always like it."

-- from The Magician's Nephew by C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

postcards from home

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This scene is from the area in southeastern Pennsylvania where I grew up.

Monday, May 01, 2006

maple flowers 2 Posted by Picasa