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It’s a Veterans Day not like past Veterans Days that I remember. This is a Veterans Day of very present death: death by war and death by hatred. But all death is because of sin. Eight Stryker soldiers from my hometown Army base, and the Fort Hood massacre by the lunatic Army psychiatrist made death very present. Air Force Two boomed over my house early Tuesday afternoon; at least I’m pretty sure that was what it was. We don’t get a lot of 757s landing here, and this one was certainly flying low enough for landing. I’ve been reading accounts of Kimberly Munley with admiration. I admire her not just because she’s a hero and she took down Dr. Death, not just because she hit her target while under fire, but because she avers that she was just doing her job; it was confusing out there, she said, but her training kicked in. Nothing special, it’s not about her. She’s clear about that, clear as the shots that rang out on a decently pleasant Texas day no one had any reason to think would be eventful, much less historical.

I’m hanging out at home, a not infrequent occurrence, reading a book on biblical ethics, reading up on news events, drinking tea, and watching the Cat sleep, get up and eat, yank a couple of toys out of his box, and bat them around for a minute before walking off to stretch and lie down. A couple of flickers are aerating my lawn with their long beaks, for what reward I’m not sure, but I wish they liked toadstools. Ours are beginning to provide shade for a microcosmic backyard planet. I’m wearing my red tabard sweater, a gift from my friend Jane that she knit for me a couple of years ago. She inspired me to get back to knitting. Right now knitting is on hold, but I hope that my repetitive strain injury will eventually resolve to the point that I can knit again, even if I can’t type. I can use voice-recognition software to write, but there isn’t any voice-actuated sock knitting software, at least not yet.

Our bamboo, green and tall and lithe, waves languidly against the blue sky and some power lines. We have so much, in those things alone.

Many, O Lord My God,
are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered. — Psalm 40:5


So often, the scratches and bruises I sustain are the only visible evidence that I have been working in the garden. The rhubarb grew four feet high this year and produced yucca-like blooms at the tops of its broad stalks. I waited for the curiosity to die and then cut it down with a machete. Gathering the stalks and brown fronds for disposal, I wondered how many North Americans cut their rhubarb with a machete. We aren’t fond of rhubarb; I can eat it with a lot of sugar, but I can’t eat a lot of sugar, so it’s a weed to us, another remnant of the “inherited garden” that came with our house.

I have a very good friend who’s solidly Reformed in her theology and a self-confessed tomboy. Don’t let her fool you; she has a feminine heart that melts on contact with the atmosphere, and she’s a beautiful woman. But she’s a knock-out in a Stetson hat, too. She loves to give gifts, and she’s given me a wonderful volume of Puritan theology and a gold Guess change pouch in the same birthday load. But she always, always includes an embroidered handkerchief in the gift bag. I carry a small pack of tissues in my backpack because public restrooms sometimes are out of toilet paper. I’m not a hankie person. It doesn’t matter. I have a drawer full of embroidered handkerchiefs from my friend who’s been trying for years to make a lady of me.

The handkerchiefs remind me of pruning roses. The roses send forth beautiful blooms and they send forth useless, long, gangly shoots, called suckers. The trick is to encourage blooms and discourage suckers that will not produce buds but will suck energy from the plant and deter buds from receiving nourishment. A friend who used to work for a florist showed me the proper way to prune roses once the bloom has faded, clipping it down the stem at a group of five leaves. I have no idea what the advantage is, but I do it because my friend said to. I suppose the goal is to make the roses comport to trim efficiency and beauty–to make them ladylike, in a way. But roses have no natural inclination to be beautiful; they have to be pruned constantly, even though blooming produces seeds, the plant’s mechanism of survival.

I wonder at this; I’m surprised it did not perplex Agur.

July 2018
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