Monday, June 27, 2016

So Many Changes

This early part of summer has brought loads of changes to our family.

In addition to the some out-of-state trips and some local events that take a lot of work, as well as the usual housework and yardwork:

Daughter-in-law Olivia started working at church as part-time secretary for the summer and prepping for her first teaching job in fall. 

Son Andrew began a full-time job at the large teaching hospital in our area.  He's on the post-surgery floor.  He's far enough along in training that this weekend he began his overnight shifts.

Son Paul and daughter-in-law Mandy had baby Henry arrive.  Mandy is currently home with Henry instead of at work. 

Son-in-law Matt is finishing his fellowship at the large teaching hospital and is starting a new job in Illinois.  He and Rachel and Lizzy are moving there this week.

I finally retired-all-the-way from my job at the bank.  I am working on some publishing duties for CCA instead of just my copy-editing.

Maggie is on summer break from her volunteer-job at school, which re-configures our days significantly because I'm not chauffeuring her twice daily.

Gary still has his full-time day-job, but at church he is taking over the position of CCA administrator.
Out of twelve adults, half of us have had job changes this month.

In addition to that, three of our kids have moved out of apartments into houses in the last seven months, and another is looking to move soon. 

No wonder I feel like I can't keep up with what's what.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Saga of the Gottesdienst Plaque

When the plaque was originally made, there were 15 individual name plates.  The last name was added in 2010.  It took me a few years to make plans with the Gottes-editor to rearrange the plaque to fit in more names.  This spring I took it to the guy who makes trophies and plaques, the same guy who'd been doing a perfectly decent job of updating each year's name-plate.

Start: "Do you need this finished this week?"  Oh, no, I answered.  Two weeks is fine.  If you have other, more urgent jobs, that's okay too.  We don't really need it until the beginning of June.  "Okay, I'll have it for you in two weeks then."

Two weeks later -- no phone call.
Another two weeks, I called him to find out if I could pick up the plaque.  No.  It wasn't done.  "Another week," he said.
Two weeks later I called.  Not done.
A week later I called.  Not done.
A week later I called.  Not done, but I could fetch it next Monday.

Part 2:  I picked it up.  Hmmmmmm.

In place of individual names on the original tiny plaques, I had requested five plaques to go on the board, each plaque containing one column of eight names.  What I got back was three wide plaques, two columns on each one, with eight names per column. 

I had requested that the names be printed in lower-case letters with appropriate capitalization at the start of names.  What I got back was all-caps.

I had requested a font-size such that the capital letters be 1/4" tall.  What I got back was lettering 13/32" tall.  (Even though that's only a tiny amount of space, it's more than 60% taller than I requested.)

I had requested a font-style for the names that would match the rest of the lettering on the plaque.  What I got back was a vastly different type-style, as well as the names in bold.  It was as different as This is from This

Oh, and there was a name misspelled.

And one of the plaques was slightly askew.

Part 3:  Pastor took the plaque back and requested that it be fixed.  He didn't ask for everything to be put right.  He just asked for corrections to the misspelling, the font, and the lower-case letters.  And we still need it by June 1.  It wasn't ready by June 1.  It wasn't ready the next week either. 

We finally picked it up less than 48 hours before our symposium began.  Hmmmmm.

Part 4:  The font was smaller -- a nice size.  (Hooray!)  But now there were eleven names per column.  This means the plaques were less than one-third full; it looked very empty.  And it means there's currently room for 45 more years of Sabre bearers' names.  That's a bit excessive at this point.

The previously misspelled name was corrected.  (Hooray!)  But a date was changed from 2012 to 1012.  And "gallantry" was spelled with an S.  And another word was misspelled. 

And the font was still in the unmatched style, and still in bold.

When I called the shop owner, he told me I could bring it back and he would fix it for me by the next day.  We had plenty to do in preparation for symposium and didn't want to take time to run the extra errands.  Besides, based on previous promises of "This is when I'll have it ready," I was skeptical as to whether the repairs would be done.  I told him I would bring it back the next week. 

He questioned the misspellings.  He told me he proofread it three times after I complained about the errors, but he could find no misspellings. 

Part 5:  When I returned the plaques, I told him I wanted the font for the names to match the font on the rest of the plaque.  We weren't going to demand that, but as long as he had to remake the plaque because of the spelling error, we might as well make the font right.  "But then it won't be in bold."  Right!!  I told him we never wanted it in bold.  We had asked for the fonts to match.  He insisted that no one had asked for that.  I did when I first came in.  And it was written down in the instructions I gave him.  Pastor did.  And Pastor saw him jot down a note in response to the oral instructions. 

Then he told me, "If I do this the way you want, it's going to be hard to read.  It won't be bold anymore.  I don't want you looking at it and being unhappy with it, because I am NOT going to change this for you again for free." 

Funny, I never thought that
his fixing his own errors
was the same as
his making a new sign for me for free.

Part 6:  He did the work right away.  It was ready when I arrived to pick it up.  The corrections were made.  (Hooray!)  And the matching, unbolded font looks great.  As I left, he wished me a good summer ... because he didn't want to see me back with any more complaints.  I suppose that was intended to be good-natured and funny.  But it hit my ears as though it were blame, and that he was a pretty good guy for humoring us in our pickiness.

Next year there will be yet another name chosen to bear the Sabre of Boldness.  At that point, I will take the plaque to a different engraver.  I want to start fresh and remake it according to the original plan in March. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

That's Not Permanent

I thought shingles were supposed to last about 15-20 years.  The guys who install metal "permanent" roofs warrant them for 50 years.  That's only two or three times as long as plain old boring shingles.  And you have to assume that the company will still be there in 30 or 40 years if you need something fixed.

When I was a kid, people painted their houses every 15-20 years.  Yes, we had evil lead in our paint.  But it lasted.  I've been hearing a company advertise their "coating" for a home that looks like paint but is permanent.  They promise it will last 25 years.  Twenty-five years doesn't sound very permanent to me.

Why is this short period called "permanent"?

Is it because we have such a mobile society that nobody stays put for 25 years? 
Is it because we like to tinker and update and go for a new look?
Is it because the quality of materials and workmanship has degraded so much that upkeep has become a constant battle, and now we think 25 years is relatively permanent?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Getting Cleansed

Jesus went around getting unclean.  He touched lepers when He healed them.  He touched dead people when He raised them. 

Remember all those rituals in the Old Testament for cleansing and purification?  Remember when Jesus told the ten lepers to go show themselves to the priests?  But Jesus didn't do that Himself.  When He got Himself unclean, He didn't scurry off to the priests and offer the sacrifices to get Himself clean again.

His cleansing was at the cross.
He offered the sacrifices for purification when He sacrificed Himself and shed His blood to remedy all our uncleanness.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Smiling because he's out of the carseat.

Mermaid and her baby.


Tim and Gary

Zoe, Eric, and Alia

Maggie and Olivia
Sitting by the lake.


Andrew and Olivia

Suppertime when there's not enough table-space.

Zoe, Katie, and Matthias


Most of the kids.  In the "office."

Matthias, Philip, Zoe.

Rocks are fun.

Watching the hummingbirds and orioles.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Baby Henry

Rest Day

Today is a day of doing nothing.

Usually I'm not good at that.  Today we're all wiped out enough that we're managing loads of Nothing.

Two weeks ago we enjoyed a week-long family reunion.  It's a lot of work to go away.  But we love seeing the extended family.  And the resort we use is simple, relatively inexpensive, and low-key.  But it's clean, on a lake, with a pool, and awesome hosts/owners.  Weather was perfect.

After re-entry to Real Life and recuperating from our rest [??], we headed off the next weekend to meet baby Henry and rejoice in his baptism-day.  Oh, right, it was nice to see my son and daughter-in-law too.

In the days before and after baptism-weekend, I packed up supplies for the CCA symposium and the CCA sales booth.  (Oh, man, my muscles aren't what they used to be.  I am weak and pokey.  But, hey, it was possible to do the work.)

The last few days involved early mornings and late nights and physical labor.  And lots of time on my feet.  And chances to visit with friends ... though never enough time for all the people I want to see.  The topic for symposium was about keeping our children in the faith, and comfort for us when our loved ones stray.  It was helpful and encouraging.

But today is nothing.  Sudokus.  Lightweight movies.  Sitting around.  I probably should mop and do laundry and start some pickles.  Nothing big.  Just a little catching up.  But if I don't do it, I will still be satisfied.  There are three more big events coming up in the next few weeks, so a day of sloth is probably healthful right now.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Why I Am a Book Hoarder

Well, okay, part of the reason I'm a book hoarder is because of packrat tendencies passed on to me genetically.  And because I always worry about needing it later if I get rid of it now.

But we've done okay at overcoming some of the packrattiness. 

Books, however ....   That's harder.

And Mrs Mussman explains part of the reason why.  The books printed today have an ideological bent.  Libraries are getting rid of old, "irrelevant" stories and replacing them with Brand Spankin' New Books.  And it's not just the in-your-face liberal brainwashing, which may be brash or subtle.  There's also
~ siblings who fight
~ normalization of divorce
~ stories that set up a no-way-but-to-sin situation
~ anti-heroes
~ "inverted" fairy tales (which may be fun for adults but are inappropriate for children).

Some books (like Harry Potter and Little House) aren't going away.  But so many great books from 70 or 80 or 100 years ago need to be cherished in people's homes because they have already been culled from public libraries or will be soon enough.

It's good.

Thursday, June 09, 2016


A sink full of dirty, greasy dish-water.  Bubbles are gone.  I can't wash the dishes in that gross ick.  And when I get fresh hot water, full of bubbly cleanness, it lasts for only a few dishes before it's nasty again.

If this is the content of recurrent nightmares,
I must live a pretty cushy life.

Measuring Coffee

Accurate measurements are important, right?  We're supposed to measure the coffee with a proper tablespoon or teaspoon, right?

One day, they were all dirty.  I grabbed a cereal spoon and used it to measure the coffee grounds. 

I was inexplicably happy about that.

Then I realized: Dad always used the cereal spoon.  He never used measuring spoons for the coffee grounds.  Ever since, I've been using the cereal spoon and feeling warm fuzzies over it. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Temptation of Jesus

1.  Interesting that it was the Holy Spirit who sent Jesus out to be tempted by the devil.  We pray, "Lead us not into temptation."  But the Spirit sent Jesus to be tempted.  That's why we can pray in the Great Litany: "By Your baptism, fasting, and temptation, help us, good Lord."

2.  The devil says, "IF You are the Son of God, ..."  This incident follows immediately on the heels of Jesus' baptism.  And what had the Father declared there?  "This is My beloved Son."  As soon as God declares Jesus to be the Son of God, the devil comes in with "If."  And yet, Jesus doesn't question the Father's declaration.  He holds onto it. 

3.  The devil quotes the psalm where the Lord promises that His angels will guard us and bear us up.  He uses that as the rationale for Jesus to jump off the temple: "See?  They'll protect You."  Of course, Jesus doesn't.  But ain't it nifty to see that, as soon as the devil backs off, the angels do come and minister to Jesus?  Even though the devil twisted and perverted that promise, God still kept His word.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Garden Report

I have such a hard time pruning enough.  This year I whacked and whacked.  And it's a good thing.

The grape vines have more itty-bitty clusters of fruit starting than I've seen in years. 

Today I weeded the strawberry bed.  Because of the weekend's rains, weeds were sliding out of the ground so easy-breezy.  I couldn't stop weeding.  It was almost fun.  Because I pruned away virtually all of the strawberry bed last fall, the plants had enough space to grow nicely.  I picked a quart of strawberries.  Every year it's the same thing: wondering why I bother growing them when it's easy to buy delicious strawberries.  And then I taste one from the garden.  Yowza!  That's why I grow them.

The cilantro (which likes to reseed itself each year and come up as weeds) when nuts last week while I was out of town.  It bolted, but none of it has gone to seed yet.  I'm wondering if it can be saved by chopping it all off to about 4" high.  If not, no biggie. 

The basil plants (purchased and transplanted) had apparently died shortly after being set in the garden.  But I cut off their tops, and they're looking pretty nice now, with new shoots growing.  Maybe the cilantro will behave the same way??

Asparagus bed is weeded too.  So is the tomato patch and rest of the veggie bed. 

Something likes my beet greens.  Something that doesn't seem to want to walk in the garden dirt, but prefers to stand at the edge, nibbling greens.  I think it will be hard for the beets to grow if the root has no top. 

Something is digging in the lawn.  It looks like the problem we had from a skunk once upon a time.  But tonight we saw four squirrels in the yard, and it looked like they were doing some digging.  Rumor has it that the mild winter means there are probably lots of grubs and things in the ground, tasty tidbits for critters who don't give a rip about tearing up some lawn. 

It's been cool.  Lettuce is growing slowly.  It too is being nibbled, but apparently the lettuce isn't as yummy as the beet-tops.  It's cool enough that I'm thinking of putting in another row of lettuce seed.

It must have been warm last week.  The tomatoes grew a lot.  When I was staking them this afternoon, I saw that the gangly one had taken a beating from the wind.  The main stem of the plant is cracked.  That can't be good.  It would let in disease or bugs.  It would reduce the plant's ability to move nutrients and water around the plant.  But I've seen tomato branches that are cracked, and they sometimes manage to live and bear fruit.  So I left it and didn't dig it up.  Maybe there will still be life and healing.