A 10-day tally, and a Sir Walter Scott snippet

Featured image: The science and art in the movement of water can lead one to freeing reflection or dreamy abstraction–with thanks to brother-in-law Gerald Miller for piloting the pontoon.


Cogitation 22 Saturday 2 June 2018   A tally of the last 10 days would be exhausting were it not for a spot of humor, taken from the May 21 Coffee News, LaGrange County, Indiana edition.

Diner: What is this fly doing in my ice cream?

Waiter: I believe it’s downhill skiing.

Another trivia item from the same publication: What is the most popular month of the year to be married? You guessed it–June.


A partial tally of recent good things

Gorgeous cloud formation on Friday after the rain in LaGrange County, Indiana. The county has more than 60 lakes..
We watched the eagle. The eagle watched us–with an eagle eye, no doubt. The American bald eagle lives on LaGrange County’s Olin Lake.
A shallow channel separates Olin Lake from Martin Lake, while a shorter channel connects Olin Lake to Oliver Lake.


A walk in the City of Elkhart


Making hay

Make hay and plant corn while the sun shines is an old saying, true as ever in these scenes in LaGrange County.

In a few rounds Monday evening this field near Howe, Indiana was planted in corn (called maize in the UK).
Moon on Monday 28 May. Because of wet weather, many farmers worked late into the night planting corn and beans.



Stratford, an annual pilgrimage

For more than 30 years we have made an annual May pilgrimage, with friends Dean and Gwen Preheim-Bartel, for shows at the Stratford Festival of Canada, visits with the Bender family and other friends, and often a visit to the MCC Relief Sale at New Hamburg.

A Century for Women event took place on Market Square in Stratford on May 24 celebrating the moment when women in Canada at 2 p.m. on May 24, 1918 achieved the right to vote federally. The celebration was marked by music, speeches, 150 girls performing an original chant, and a concluding march around city hall. “I do think we all stand on the shoulders of our grandmothers, and unless we know the history, we don’t understand how hard it was to gain that ground,” said Dr. Jean Hewitt, prime organizer of Thursday’s event, as quoted in the Stratford Beacon Herald. “But we still have a way to go and we need the energy of this next generation to help take us there.” Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!
Tulips at Stratford City Hall.
More coming this summer or fall on stories of children who were sent from Great Britain to Canada and Australia.

If we were sitting down to coffee or tea I’d have much to add concerning the marvelous stage productions we saw at Stratford. Let me just say the plays and musical made us laugh, ponder, cheer, and catch our breath at both the depth, continuity and resolution of serious issues that have plagued and continue to threaten a better society.

One for instance. We saw Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. The same play was showing in London while we were there, but we did not see it. Michael Billington, the reviewer of the London show in The Guardian newspaper, said, “One key idea, as George Bernard Shaw understood in his 1895 review, is Wilde’s assertion of a robust individuality against a mechanical idealism.” Without giving too much away, the show reveals the making of a real as opposed to an ideal husband.

The lead character as a young man sold state secrets for private profit. Wilde does not exonerate the now exemplary rising politician, who is being blackmailed, but addresses the worship of wealth that characterized the fight of Wilde’s century. Billington: “Corruption, Wilde implies, is inescapable in a money-mad society. But the play goes on to suggest, in an intimation of Wilde’s own impending humiliation, that past sins should be viewed with charitable compassion rather than inflexible morality.”

The production we saw at Stratford, with Wilde’s dandies and fat cats playing their parts to the hilt, made for real theatre–fun, sobering, insightful, resounding through the ages, offering resiliency to our day.

Relief Sale

The quilt auction part of the MCC Relief Sale at New Hamburg, Ontario, last Saturday.
The successful bidder of this quilted wall hanging of Waterloo County bought it for $5000.

Dear time with family

Celebrating birthdays last Saturday: my sister Kaye (left), and sisters-in-law Vivian and Joy.
At the home of Brian and Vivian Bender we celebrated the ups and downs of priceless belonging as family and friends.


Sir Walter Scott’s Old Mortality

How I came to take up the book, Old Mortality, by Sir Walter Scott, is a simple tale. I found the book in a charity shop in Penzance, UK and shipped it and other books arriving in the post this  week. (I mailed books and maps that didn’t fit into our two suitcases and two backpacks).

The book, published in 1816, is set in the period 1679-89 in south west Scotland. The 17th and 18th centuries were a time of fierce political and religious conflicts in Scotland. Scott creates a fictional editor, Jedediah Cleishbotham,  who writes the introduction on behalf of fictional writer Peter Pattieson; These character’s are Walter Scott all the way, no fictional character he.

Forthrightly we come to a real historical character, Robert Paterson, know as Old Mortality. Paterson late in life has taken up the job of traveling the country and cleaning up the tomb markings of 17th century Covenanter martyrs.

I didn’t say this masterpiece is easy reading, but I’m fascinated by it. Scott, a master storyteller recounts part of the story of the fierce conflicts between Royalists and rebels, that led to the Scottish National Covenant of 1638.

According to an online source, Reformation History, “the Presbyterians in Scotland were facing accusations of treason by the king for their protests against the bishops, the Book of Canons and the Book of Common Prayer.” To sign this Covenant in protest against the tyranny of the king “was to say that Jesus Christ was the only head of the church, and so it should be free from any control by the king or the government.”

Before you stop reading, here’s a selection from the first paragraph: “He (Paterson) was a native, it is said, of the parish of Closeburn, in Dumfries-shire, and probably a mason by profession–at least educated to the use of the chisel. Whether family dissensions or the deep and enthusiastic feeling of supposed duty, drove him to leave his dwelling, and adopt the singular mode of life in which he wandered, like a palmer, through Scotland, is not known. It could not be poverty, however, which prompted his journeys, for he never accepted anything beyond the hospitality which was willingly rendered him, and when that was not proffered he always had money enough to provide for his own humble wants. His personal appearance, and favourite, or rather sole occupations, are accurately described in the preliminary chapter of the following work. . . .”

Take a breath. As will I before I read more of what Scott has to say of centuries past and of ours.

A sweet note: How many tablespoons of sugar are in a 12 oz. can of sweetened soda? Gulp, it’s 6.


I can almost smell the sweet scent of the hyacinth.

2 thoughts on “A 10-day tally, and a Sir Walter Scott snippet

  1. Hello John,

    I can see you and Marty hit the ground running after returning from your Cornwall sojourn! I read in your post that women’s suffrage came to Canada on May 24, 1918, more than 2 years ahead of the United States which passed the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920. Now 100 years later women around the world are still struggling for equal rights and social justice!




  2. Stratford always has excellent yearly plays. I liked reading about An Ideal Husband! An interesting play. Now here is a first. Opening night was about to happen but then didn’t happen due to a bomb threat. The full house had to be evacuated and tickets refunded. What a crazy world we live in. I’m grateful for the pictures of bald eagles, rivers and streams and flowers and the peaceful Amish planting their crops.


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