Friday, August 01, 2014

A Few Non-Wedding Pictures


Matt and Rachel

Rachel at a friend's wedding

Philip on his trip to Puerto Rico

Andrew's Rosie-kitty (who still lives with us)

Reading Challenge

Update on this year's reading list:

finish proofreading New Testament Catechist  [done Feb 11]

Light from Heaven (the last Mitford book) [done March 6]
the Father Tim series, by Jan Karon

the Kristin Lavransdatter series, by Sigrid Undset
Bridal Wreath [done March 27]
Mistress of Husaby [done April 30]
The Cross [done June 15]

Hammer of God (again)

The Complete Guide to Creating a Special Needs Life Plan, by Hal Wright

Anne of the Island [done July 31]
Anne of Windy Poplars
and maybe a few more in the series
(with Maggie)

likely some proofreading on Bible Stories for Daily Prayer

a Luther biography with Maggie
Narnia (again)
Horses of Heaven, by Gillian Bradshaw
maybe try out an Elizabeth Gaskill book
something by Beverly Engel or Robin Stern
Quiet by Susan Cain [done July 20]

additions beyond original list
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause [done July 29]

The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You
by Elaine N Aron

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Is It Valuable? (Matthew 13)

My father-in-law collected oodles of Henry Major's paintings, drawings, and statues.  He is convinced they're valuable.  I don't think they probably are.  But I'll find out when we put them for sale on ebay.

Pastor mentioned Antique Roadshow in the sermon this week.  He pointed out that the value of an item is determined by what someone is willing to pay for it.  You may have something that you think should be tremendously valuable (such as the Russian 3-stringed guitar my father-in-law owned), but if nobody else cares and nobody else wants it, you're not going to find anybody who will pay five bucks for it. 

In the "kingdom parables" at the end of Matthew 13, Jesus sells all that He has to buy the treasure of the world.  What a wreck of a "treasure"!  But He loved.  He sold His life and His blood.  He placed value on a world of sinners who hated Him.  The Lord set an immeasurable value on the world when He gave His Son as the purchase-price.  (Really??--the world is worth GOD's suffering and death?) 

So when we think, "How could God love me?  Look at what a miserable excuse of a Christian I am," we look at what He says.  We look at what He was willing to give to buy us.  And as it is on Antique Roadshow, that is what determines value.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


But it was misdiagnosed.

Itching began last Wednesday.  Rash started Thursday and kept getting worse.  Doctor visit on Friday with a diagnosis of mites (from cuddling the cat on Tuesday and Wednesday) or chiggers (from sitting in the grass on Tuesday) or scabies (huh?).  This [substitute] doctor didn't test because these problems are all treated with the same Rx-cream and the same washing regimen.

Followed instructions carefully.
Refrained from hugging and touching anybody at the rehearsal dinner.  I told them I had cooties and to stay away for their own protection.
Wore long sleeves and long skirt and high neckline for the wedding, continuing to be careful to not-hug or at least to avoid any skin contact. 
Rash continued to get worse.
Continued to wash, re-wash, and again re-wash sheets, towels, clothes, etc.
Itching kept me up at night.
Rash continued to spread.
Sores became oozy and weepy.

Returned to doctor.  This time it was past office-hours and we went to FastCare.  This doctor diagnosed a bad case of poison ivy.  She prescribed steroids and an astringent wash for the sores.  In two hours I could already see significant improvement!  I slept comfortably last night.  Sores are healing nicely and no longer spreading.

The chigger diagnosis not only delayed treatment for the poison ivy; the medicine for it also worsened the rash and spread the urushiol oil.  It's sad that I could've felt this good for the wedding if the rash had been correctly diagnosed the first time. But at least it's on the mend now.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My Daughters

Rachel, Katie, Olivia, Maggie, Mandy

Aren't they beautiful?!!!!

A lot happening this week, some wonderful and some nasty:
broken plumbing,
returning to my job,
kitty's serious illness,
a kid's moving out,
a humongous case of chiggers,
and a kid's wedding. 

I should post more pictures when I get a chance to see them.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Back to Work

Monday was my first day back at my paid-job.  Instead of a 10-hour day, my supervisors started me on 4-hour days.  By closing time, I wasn't as tired as I'd expected.  I was, however, surprised that my arachnoiditis flared up as badly as it did.

In spring I hadn't planned to take off time for the wedding this weekend.  But after my hospital trip, I can't push myself and cram loads of activities into a day, thinking, "Oh, it'll work out; this is important; I'll just take it easy the next week."  So I worked yesterday instead.  That way Friday has "only" the rehearsal dinner, and Saturday has "only" the wedding.   After two hours at work, again, the arachnoiditis began to flare up.  I took pain-killers before work and a different pain-killer two hours into my shift.  It still hurt.  This better improve.  If I have to take enough pain-killer to overcome the pain, I'm going to be too doped up to count money. 

Now to figure out:  Does "tiredness" necessarily show itself as sleepiness and a weariness with a desire to lie down?  Or might "tiredness" manifest itself as nerve pain, headaches, throbbing, and a rash?

I keep reminding myself that I have been healing and improving rapidly.  Maybe the nerve pain and the tiredness will improve right along with everything else.  I ought not expect that my body's response to my job will be the same in 3-4 weeks as it is now.

As for doing the job itself, things are fine.  I remember nearly everything.  The tricky parts are the new procedures that developed while I was gone, that everyone else took in stride a bit at a time so that they don't realize, "Hey, Susan, we do that differently now" until I do it the old way.  But those will be worked out a bit at a time until I'm up-to-speed.

It's nice to see old customers, especially when the "regulars" missed me.

Kitty Is Still Alive

On Tuesday night I was saying my goodbyes, not expecting her to make it through the night.

Tuesday afternoon, Athena had a spell.  She was too weak to stand.  Her eyeballs were flipping back and forth in their sockets.  She howled piteously.  We soothed and petted and comforted.  When she felt strong enough to try to walk, she wobbled.  She allowed herself to be held and petted some more.  When we finally permitted her to go outside, she found a secure spot under the deck and curled up there for two hours.  The noise of a small engine moved her to the other side of the house to seek refuge under the back side of a hosta.  She lay there without moving for four more hours.  She took a little walk, and then she allowed herself to be carried indoors for more cuddling.  She curled up behind the sofa and spent the night and half the next morning. 

Then she slowly began to improve.

Best guess?  When I woke up Tuesday morning, the smell of poison was wafting through the windows.  I think a neighbor's lawn service had come and treated the grass quite early.  Maybe Athena walked through their lawn and ingested the poison when she cleaned herself.  Maybe she ate a mouse whose belly-fur was covered with the poison.

Whatever it was, she's on the mend.  And I'm glad I can be happy at Andrew's wedding instead of crying about my kitty.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Natural Burial

My friend Polly posted today about an environmentalist's "green burial."  Although my perspective on natural burial comes from a VERY different place, the end result could look quite similar.  My pastor isn't exactly fond of cremation -- for theological reasons. 

I know that cremation grew out paganism.  I know that for many years the Church objected to it.  But I find it less objectionable than many of our current standard-American embalming/burial practices.  That said, I don't want to be cremated, and I don't intend to cremate anybody for whom I'm making funeral arrangements.

There is "green cemetery" space in Waukesha.   Although the cost is higher, there is also an option for "natural burial" in the regular parts of the cemetery, where a grave-marker can be placed.  For theological reasons, I think making note of the body's spot is important too, so ideally, I'm not keen on the idea of burying people "somewhere" on a prairie. 

The part of "natural burial" that troubles me most is the people that the family would be working with.  If their worldview and their theological perspective is the complete opposite of that of the grieving family, would that cause problems?  And if so, which would be easier to take: their weirdness or going along with Standard Procedure?

Current info on Wisconsin laws can be found here.
More info can be found in the 
video "A Family Undertaking."

Monday, July 14, 2014

Romans + Galatians

So that's why the sem makes guys take a course in either Romans or Galatians -- they say SO much the same thing!

Romans 7 -- I can't do the good I want to do. 
Galatians 5:17 "The flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."

Romans 8:14 Those led by the Spirit of God are "sons of God."
Galatians 5:18  Those led by the Spirit of God "are not under the law."
Earlier in Galatians, Paul is on about how being-a-son means you're not-under-law.

Galatians 3:29 and 4:7 We are heirs according to the promise, no longer slaves but sons, an heir of God through Christ.
Romans 8:16-17 We are children of God, joint heirs with Christ.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


1. The book I'm reading about introverts and extroverts is full of stories.  More stories than research.  Anecdotal evidence doesn't bother me.  I usually enjoy stories.

2.  But one of the stories is about Al Gore and his passionate work to save the world from global warming.  Or climate change.  Or whatever we're calling it these days.  The author makes the point that Mr Gore worked doggedly on this issue for decades.  Few people listened to him because he is an introvert and doesn't make his case in a splashy way that draws the attention of extroverts.  She pointed out that Gore's movie finally woke up people to the danger we're in, so we're finally taking seriously the necessity to save the planet.

Normally, I will read such things and shake my head in disbelief.  I may crab about it a bit.  (Or more.)  And then I'll go on, taking the good parts of the book and ignoring the bad.  But this kind of book?  If the author believes the global warming and climate change are real, can I believe other things she says? 

3.  To add to my skepticism, she characterized the "Western God" as an extrovert, as seen in Jesus Christ Superstar where God's "son Jesus is kind and tender, but also a charismatic, crowd-pleasing man of influence."

Okay, maybe the Lord is an extrovert.  (What He's all about is giving Himself to others, pouring Himself out for us.)    But the author's source for this insight?

For real?  Jesus Christ Superstar?

4.  I did like the section on sensitivity, conscience, and guilt.  Apparently, introverts tend to feel guilty even when they've done nothing wrong.  They tend to feel embarrassed themselves when friends are teased.  They may fail lie-detector tests even when they're telling the truth. 

Story:  One day my brother and I came home from grade school on our lunch-hour. David and I watched one kid walking on the other side of the street take off his jacket.  Then he swung it at another kid, whipping him again and again.  That day Dad was working nearby so he happened to be home for lunch too.  As we told the story of the mean boy, Dad got mad.  He was angry at the kid for hurting the other child.  He went on and on about how the jacket-zipper could have cut the other child or injured an eye.  As an adult, I realize that everything Dad said that day was reasonable.  But in the midst of the situation, I felt accused.  I remember spouting, "Why are you mad at us?  We didn't do anything wrong!  We didn't hit anybody!"  Poor Dad.  He probably wondered where I came up with such a statement. 

And thus, the section about introverts feeling excess guilt resonated with me.

Queen of Heaven

Jeremiah calls the people to repentance for their offerings and their prayers to the "queen of heaven," Asherah.

It seems very odd that the Roman Catholic church would choose that phrase as a title for Mary, given the scriptural use of the term to refer to a false goddess.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Back to Work

A full year to recuperate.  That's what the doctors and therapists kept telling me as I progressed speedily in my abilities. "Slow down; don't overdo," they kept reminding.  Although I can do almost everything I could do before, I now realize I can't do very much of any of those things.  I wear out easily.  I slept 10.5 hours last night.  When Katie dropped by today, she was surprised by how clean the house was and that the laundry was caught up.  [light bulb click]  No wonder I was too tired to accomplish anything the last couple of days; I was worn out from the first half of the week.

When I found out that another part-time position would be opening at work, I adjusted my mind to taking that position while my boss filled my position.  That would've meant I had until late September before I had to be ready to work.  Recently that goal seemed perfectly doable; probably in mid-September it would've seemed intimidating.  After talking with bosses this week, it looks like I'll be returning to my job much sooner.  As in, a week or so.  For now, it will be only half-days.  And my boss made it very plain that he doesn't want me to get worn out so that the job interferes with my healing ... or even that it makes me consider quitting.  They are bending over backwards to help me keep my job.

And I'm terribly grateful.
Especially because I much prefer my current schedule to the other option.

But right now I'm also a bit hesitant about going back to work already.

It'll be fine.
It'll be fine.
It'll be fine.

I just have to readjust my mind away from all those books Maggie and I were going to read, and movies I was going to watch, and piddly projects I was going to tick off the list, over the next 2-3 months.  Sleep, however, will stay near the top of the Priorities List.

(PS to kids: I'm going to need some chauffeuring for a few weeks.  Andrew can take the first week.  But I'll need at least two more weeks of rides before I'm eligible to drive.)

My Old Backyard

Disturbing to see our former backyard splashed all over this week's news.

Two boys were playing in the tree-line on Wednesday.  One was shot.  The most recent news reports have the uncle saying that the boys were target-shooting, and the victim ran across the line-of-fire.   The WISN story is here, and the WTMJ story is here

I did almost nothing on Thursday except for checking the news and trying to understand how this could happen in "my space" and feeling vulnerable.  But that's nothing compared to the grief both families are enduring.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Tree Trimming

I'm too old and weak for the lumberjack-drill.

A few years ago, I trimmed branches overhanging the roof and the power lines.  Gary held the ladder; I climbed too high; I wielded the lonnng-handled saw.  Other than some achy muscles on both our parts, there were no mishaps.  And I tell ya, I am still pleased and proud of the results.  Oh yes!!

But I didn't finish the job.  I had no intention of coming into contact with electrical lines.  I didn't even want to go too near the cable lines ... because then I would've been disconnected from the internet ... which would make me pout.

Recently, the landlord next door had trucks in the backyard.  A cherry-picker!  And carts to haul brush and logs!  And lots of chainsaws!  At the end of Day 1, Gary talked to the tree-trimmers about doing some extra work while they were out here with their equipment.  They quoted us a price 1/3 what we'd been quoted a few years ago! (Hey, the benefits of grabbing Mr Muscle while his tools and machines are already in the backyard!)

This tree was my biggest worry.  It grew as a weed, way out in back, bordering the unused meadow, and nobody took it down.  Its branches wove back and forth between the three lines (cable, phone, and electricity).  Without a cherry-picker, there was no way to cut without knocking down lines.

These branches looked like they might be within the realm of possibility.  Maybe.  If I was feeling strong.  And being very very careful.  Tree branches had crawled in odd weavy directions.  If I'd tackled it when we first moved in, the branch may have been small enough to use my pruning saw.  Maybe.  But by now the branch-diameter was too overwhelming for something so high above my head.  And the weight had grown enough that it was no longer merely touching the electrical lines, but was pulling down on them.  Yeah, not my forte when I'm at my best and strongest.  (And I'm not exactly at my best and strongest right now.)

I can't post a picture of the improvement of the first problem.  Because the tree is GONE.  Yes, it's gone.  It's a pile o' logs and nothing more.  No more weaving and dancing and tangling in the electrical lines.  Oh, happy day!

The tree below is what's left of the second problem.  From this direction, it looks like the tree is still too close to the cables.  Well, not really.  There's a nice amount of space.  But what's more important -- what's left are branches that we can trim without destroying power lines, assuming we don't delay too many years.

And this mess is the wild grape vines that have grown up on the scrub-trees.  The grapes took root, grew, climbed, then crawled along the power lines to take over the pole for the power lines and begin spreading out.  These are not on our property, and they've grown unmolested for many years.  The neighbors did give us permission to hack back whatever we choose to cut.

I can see in this picture that the tree-trimmers did pull down a lot of grape vines that were within their reach, or which were engulfing branches that were chopped away. So it's better. But there's a long way to go. 

Job #1: Take down all the 6' weeds/trees that are anywhere near the power lines.  And keep taking them down.  If we murder them when they're small, we won't face huge tree-trimming problems when we're 80.

Job #2: Cutting back the tall grasses so that we can reach the bottom of the grape vines ... without inadvertently stepping on snakes, woodchucks, or whatever else may be living back there.

Job #3:  Whacking off the grape vines and taking a hefty chunk out of the branch.  If the smaller viney guys are disconnected from the strong roots and branches, eventually they'll wither, dry, crumble, and then storms will blow their remains off the cables.  At least, that's my hope.

Job #4: Some day in the future ... begin removing some of those bigger branches that are not a problem now.  They will grow twigs which will eventually becomes branches which will cause new problems.  Maybe one branch per year would be an achievable project?  Starting next year?