Rejoice with me!

Back from my mile walk around the neighborhood.

Rejoice with me. I just did twenty-four hours between 5mg oxycodone doses. That is the lowest level of meds I have been on in a year and a half. My body is not happy with me, but it did it. The back and foot are doing well; at this point it’s the oxycodone that’s keeping me on oxycodone. But we’re beating it.

I’m going to let my body adjust to the new level for a bit before I make the final push.

One positive thing with all the closures is that I have fewer things requiring me to get out and be functional. That makes stretching the meds a little less challenging.

Remembering Dad, 5 December 2013

My father’s camera.

These are my words from the memorial service for my father, Lansing E. Tryon, on December 5, 2013. They were among the most difficult words I have ever had to speak or write. But they are good for me to remember, because even here is to be found the gospel if only we have the ears to hear.
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What do you say at the memorial service for someone you have deeply loved all your life when you know there are others who have very good reason for being glad to have him gone?

I was always thankful for the fine father I had.  After I became an adult — and a father — in my own right, I told Dad that, often.

I only wish he had been as good a father to his daughters.  As many or most of you already know, since Dad and Mom moved out to assisted living in Wisconsin, we all figured out that Dad had in the past sexually abused two of his daughters, and possibly the third.  The last four years have been exceedingly painful for the entire family.

So, was Dad a terrible person who somehow managed to do good things, or a good person who somehow managed to do some really evil things?  I don’t know, and I’m glad that the Lord doesn’t keep score like that.  If he did, we’d all be in trouble.  But with you is found forgiveness; for this we revere you.

At any rate, I am convinced that the Lansing Tryon you knew and loved here, with all his wonderful klutziness, was not faking it.  I always figured Dad was pretty transparent; what you saw was what you got.  It turns out I was not as right as I thought, but I still think I was pretty close.

I am still proud to have named my firstborn after him.

So, what do you say?  I can’t tell you about the Dad I didn’t know.  I can only tell you about the Dad I knew.

Dad was never the warm-fuzzy, emotionally-effusive type.  I don’t think he knew how.  I gather he didn’t have much of a model to work from.  It seems his own father was quite a number.  Dad was an oops lastborn, largely raised by his sisters (whom he adored).

But Dad loved to show us stuff.  He loved to involve us in what he was doing.

I sing in choir because Dad started bringing me along as soon as I got into high school.  That doesn’t happen any more.  It should.  It was Dad’s trumpet I played in grade school.  Getting his alto recorder back in service is to be one of my post-retirement projects.

I wrote my first computer program in high school because Dad taught me enough cookbook Fortran to work up the geometry puzzle I was playing with.  “That’s what computers are for.  Computers are fast idiots.”  He took my code into work with him, punched the cards, and left them overnight for ops to run.  He picked up the output the next day and brought it home to me.  We all learned at an early age how to count to 31 on the fingers of one hand.  Counting in binary is actually a rather useful parlor trick.  I’ll have to show grandson Wesley.

Athletics?  Forget it.  Dad was the wimp of his family.  But he loved to walk.  He loved being outdoors.  He loved the Adirondacks and, especially, Letchworth State Park.  He took the family camping every summer.  He took me sailing on Canandaigua Lake.

And cameras.  You don’t know Dad if you don’t know his photography.  He did a lot more with Chuck and Ken after he got an enlarger and all, but he and I developed film and made contact prints.  He taught me how to look through the viewfinder and think about what I was doing.

Before he and Mom moved out to Wisconsin, Dad gave me his collection of old cameras, including this pre-World War II Welta Weltur.  It’s the camera he took to Letchworth sixty five years ago on his and Barb’s honeymoon.  It’s the camera that got me back into shooting film and taking my photography more seriously.

Dad once told me that in high school he was very interested in both cameras and electronics.  He knew he had to choose one to follow professionally and one to leave as a hobby.  He chose electronics, and went on to major in Physics at Cornell and become an electrical engineer.

I have often wondered whether he made the better choice.  As a photographer he would have made less money, but I think he would have been happier.  I am convinced that, at heart, Dad was an artist.

In the fellowship hall is a print of the photograph I posted the day he died.  Lansing Eugene Tryon.  Because Dad loved trees and loved taking pictures of trees.  Rest in peace, Dad.  This one’s for you.

Thank you all for coming.

Wyrde and Wicked by Charlotte English

House of Werth, Book 2

I read it in one sitting, which is to say that Charlotte has once again kept me up far too late, or early, as the case may be. It is wickedly wyrde. Highly recommended. But don’t start with this one, read Wyrde and Wayward first or you will be thoroughly lost. You may be lost anyway, but such is the nature of the House of Werth.

From the Smashwords blub…

‘When it comes to the Wyrde, there is no such thing as harmless. Every single one of us is a walking disaster.’

Winter has come to Werth Towers, and brought a deal of trouble with it.

Not that any of it is the fault of Miss Gussie Werth. To be a one-woman catastrophe might be seen as a misfortune, but really, there can be no hope of a cure.

What with murderous Books on the rampage, Lady Maundevyle brewing plans for Christmas, and a couple of dragons on the loose, a quiet life is not likely to be had.

Still, in times of crisis, there is always Lord Felix. The disreputable old revenant might have a few odd ideas; but you’re at Werth Towers, now. The merely unusual comes as a matter of course.

Welcome to the strangest family in Regency England. Find out just what Gussie did next…

Witchcraft by Charles Williams

First published 1941.

Williams himself states by way of introduction, These pages must stand for what they are—a brief account of the history in Christian times of that perverted way of the soul which we call magic, or (on a lower level) witchcraft, and with the reaction against it. That they tend to deal more with the lower level than with any nobler dream is inevitable.

This was a painful book to read, as any sane and even-handed history of the times would have to be. As another reader stated, it is neither hysteria nor propaganda, but a carefully written history by a master thinker, researcher and writer.

Highly recommend, but be prepared for a tough slog. Do not expect a Harry Potter prequel. The evils and perversions committed by both those purporting and those prosecuting witchcraft were real and terrible. Yet there were bright lights as well, and Williams gives them due credit, as partial and imperfect as they may have been.

What do you have in your hands?

Our “Connection Group” at Rochester Christian Reformed Church meets twice a month. We take turns coming up with a sharing question for the group. Jim’s question for this evening’s get together was this. It concerns the first of the beatitudes in the fifth chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

This is the one Anthony asked toward the end of his sermon last Sunday: What personal abilities or resources are you bringing to Jesus in a vain attempt at self-justification? What do you value about yourself that you should instead put aside so you can be poor in spirit and come to Jesus empty-handed?

Since I had to miss the meeting, I wrote my response so I could mail it to the group. This is what I wrote.

The beatitudes admit to multiple interpretations. Such is the nature of proverbs.

Pastor Anthony and Dallas Willard (The Divine Conspiracy) take different but parallel approaches. The key element for both is that the beatitudes are not a new set of laws to beat ourselves up with, but a proclamation of grace.

For Willard the point is good news for those who knew they had nothing in their hands and knew they had to get their act together in order to be acceptable to God. Jesus says, “No, you are blessed / happy / flourishing just as you are because the kingdom is my gracious gift to you.”

For Pastor Anthony the point is good news for those who know they have some pretty good stuff in their hands to present to God to gain his approval. To them Jesus says, “No, it doesn’t matter. In fact, it gets in the way. Let it go. You are blessed / happy / flourishing with your empty hands, because the kingdom is my gracious gift to you.”

Jesus’ original hearers certainly included both groups. I expect most of us are a mixture of of the two.

The past few years have done a number on my self-confidence. What I have the hardest time letting go of is the nagging feeling that I need to do something more to be acceptable, to truly flourish in the kingdom of heaven. The monkey on my back sings, “Oughta oughta oughta.”

Snake

#Inktober52 prompt for January 23.

Snake coming in,
low and hot;
the infantryman’s friend.

(The Bell Helicopter Attack Helicopter AH-1 Cobra was known as “the Snake”.)

Inktober is doing a 52-week challenge. For those of us who don’t do pen and ink drawings, they work for writing prompts too.

I will always remember…

I went on a HikeYoga outing back in July 2018. The instructor incorporated a pair of short sketchbook sessions, one to draw or write about an object close by, and a second with a prompt.

Her prompt was, “I will always remember…”. She gave us two minutes, so it had to be off the top of the head.

I will always remember…

  • I will always remember that I am one finite human being, with assorted weaknesses, and that’s ok.
  • I will always remember that I will not live forever on this earth, and that’s ok, too.
  • I will always remember that Jesus loves me, and that is enough.

Those three statements have kept me going through this last year, infected disk, major surgery, recovery, my Mom’s passing, and all.