Saturday, February 24, 2007


We watched the original Rocky movie tonight. It's one of those movies that's on the top-100 list as all-time great movies. We've been meaning to get to it, thinking that it's one of those pop-culture things the kids should have a clue about (like Gilligan and the Skipper, the Brady Bunch, and It's a Wonderful Life).

Now I'm wondering WHY this is considered one of the all-time great movies. There are a lot of sports-oriented "root for the underdog" movies that are much better. There's a significant amount of bad language, enough that it wasn't just "some." I have only two guesses as to its elite ranking. First, it may have been something to do with ground-breaking effects (like 2001: A Space Odyssey). Second, it may have been because of the liberal movie-snobs who like stories that show the seedier side of life. We would've been better off watching Anne of Green Gables again, or a Sandra Bullock movie or old Beaver reruns.


Today some obnoxious little 10-yr-old girls decided to pick on Andrew during his paper route. "Hey, paper boy, give us a paper." "Hey, paper boy, what are you doing out today?" "Hey, paper boy, ..." and other stinky little-kid type of mouthiness designed to make the other kid feel like he's 3" tall.

Andrew chose not to respond in kind. He smiled and waved cheerily at them. The response from the brats was "Hey, paper boy, aren't you gonna talk to us?" and "Hey, paper boy, is that all you're gonna do?" He kept a nice smile on his face and just kept walking along his route, delivering the papers, showing no sign whatsoever of being perturbed with their attempts to belittle him.

And, boy oh boy, did that ever annoy those little girls!

When I picked him up, he related the tale with relish. He said their words did make him feel bad. No logical reason for it, but that was their intent, and it wasn't wholly ineffective. But he didn't want to retaliate and be ugly and stoop to their level of meanness. Nevertheless, it gave him much pleasure to see how irritated the girls were with his response. If he'd snapped at them or teased back, they would've been pleased. Nothing could've bugged them more than his smile and friendly wave.

I told him how proud I was of him. He's feeling very grown up these days. He needs to shave now and then. And he turned in his 1040 form with a check for his Social Security taxes. And he responded in a very mature way to some little twerps. What a grown-up!

Friday, February 23, 2007


The cars are driving past the house are going about 30 mph instead of 65. The snow started about 7:00 here tonight, and is already piling up and drifting. I hope Philip makes it home from work safely.

We had plans with friends for tomorrow. A birthday party was put off from early February due to bad weather. Now we're postponing again. Bummers; we wanted to see Bartletts! A certain child who will remain unnamed try to convince me that we might as well try to go. After all, if we're not going to get there, we might as well Not Get There after having made an attempt rather than just give up before we even try. Because, if we try, we might actually succeed in Getting There, and we most certainly won't get there if we don't even try. I explained to him that Not Getting There could involve a ditch, a tow truck, a significant deductible on car repairs, increased car insurance premiums, and possibly physical damage to our bodies. My version was that, if we're not going to make it to the get-together, better to Not Get There by staying safe at home rather than Not Get There by sitting in a ditch waiting to be towed.

But I'm going to have to venture out to the nearby village to do paper route. And to buy yeast. We're nearly out of bread. I started soaking the grain to make a couple of batches of bread. And then discovered that there's no yeast in this house. (And don't anybody remind me that I already discovered that on Wednesday!!! Because I forgot. I'm old. I can't remember anything. In fact, I'll probably go to town to do the paper route, and still forget to buy yeast.)

St Sava's

Our fieldtrip today was to St Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral. It's probably the most beautiful building I've ever been in. The only thing that compares aesthetically is the Library of Congress in Washington DC, except that it extols an entirely different religion than the cathedral in Milwaukee.

"Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses" is clearly demonstrated in the plethora of mosaic icons. All the walls and ceilings are done in mosaics. There are traditional Orthodox saints, and there are saints specific to Serbia. There are church fathers and apostles and evangelists. But the ones I love the best are the Bible stories. So many Bible stories all over the walls in mosaic, and in the windows in stained glass.

The inside of the dome over the nave is one big icon of Jesus. At first I really liked it: Jesus looking down, watching over His people. But tonight, after praying the Creed with the kids at bedtime, I'm rethinking it. We so often think of Jesus' ascension as being His "going up" to heaven, sort of "away from us." Pastor has been making the point in the last couple of years that Jesus ascension is not a geographic ascension, "going away" to heaven. Rather, it is an ascension of office, like the king ascending the throne. The king isn't going anywhere. He's not necessarily going "up" (although sometimes there are a few stairs involved to make the point obvious). He's just being elevated to His position of power. I suppose the icon in the dome of St Sava's doesn't necessarily represent Jesus being "up there" in heaven. But the deacon did explain that the Greek church is more about heaven coming to earth, whereas the Serbian is more about earth benefiting from what goes on in heaven. That perspective would be consistent with my initial thoughts about the icon of Jesus in the main dome over the nave.

What's in Your Fridge?

Jane started this and tagged everybody.
I'm sure that all of us have lots of stuff in our fridges, so list just five things in each category. Pick what makes your fridge original, embarrassing or average. It's up to you; I've chosen to pick some of the odder things. (It'll give y'all something to laugh at.) I'm tagging Katie and anybody else who wants to play --except Coral who's not allowed until after tests.

On the Shelves: whole-wheat home-made tortillas, leftover baked yams, leftover clam sauce for pasta, eggs from happy chickens, and whey.

Drinks: I only have five different things at the moment. Milk, Irish cream, red wine, Leinie Red, and Leinie Honey Weiss. (It sounds like we drink virtually nothing but liquor, but the reality is that the juice gets inhaled about 18 seconds after it's transferred from the freezer to the refrigerator.)

In the Cheese Drawer: Swiss, feta, mozzarella, cream cheese, and cheddar.

In the Produce Bin: Fuji apples, cabbage, organic carrots, iceberg lettuce, and mushrooms.

In the Door: lard, home-made peach jelly, Kikkoman's honey-pineapple teriyaki glaze (yowza!!), pepperocinis, and home-made mayonnaise.

In the Freezer: spices, fruit for smoothies, leftover daquiri from the wedding, suprema dophilus, and ice-cubes made of red-cabbage juice (intended for use in science experiments as a litmus test).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Scattered Thoughts

You know what people do when they're snowed in? Check blogs. My site-meter report for the day of the big storm last week was unbelievably high. LOL!

We were talking about the story of David and Bathsheba the other day. 2 Samuel 23 tells us that Uriah was one of David's "thirty chief men." That shows some of the political seriousness of what David did, and how desperately he thought he needed to cover up his sin.

A discovery made during church yesterday -- A pastor with significant tinnitis doesn't notice when the microphones and speakers go haywire. He thinks the unbearable sounds coming out of the sound-system are just in his head, part of his malady. What does a congregant do in that case? Stand up and shout, "Would you PLEASE turn that thing off"?

I'm just loving this Chris fella on American Idol. Not only is he one of the really good singers, but he's witty and funny and enjoyable. If he stays on, I'm afraid I'm going to get hooked on this season, no matter how hard I'm trying to stay away from the tv when the show is on.

It drives me nuts when smart, intelligent children decide that they're "dumb" and don't "get math." And then they freak themselves out, sit there and stare at a math problem like a deer struck by car headlights, and bemoan their wretchedness for having gotten plagued by a mother who thinks they're actually capable of doing a little math. Good grief, it gets so much easier once they pay attention to the math book instead of focusing on the litany of how "this is too hard."

The Quinquagesima epistle (this last Sunday) was from 1 Corinthians 13 and said "Love bears all things." The preceding Sunday's epistle was from 2 Corinthians 11 where Paul was sarcastically telling the folks from Corinth that, although they bore with the false prophets who put them into bondage, he was too weak for that. I've been puzzling over that for four days now. And I'm beginning to think that the answer has something to do with the preceding line in 1 Corinthians 13: "love rejoices in the truth." Doesn't seem like a person could rejoice in true doctrine and still bear with false prophets.

There is no yeast in this house. I had started making the pizza and there was no yeast. No yeast?? Eeeks! I just bought yeast a few weeks ago. I finished the little jar last time I made bread, and that was the next-to-last jar. I remember seeing the pound of yeast sitting on the shelf, next to the jello. It's not there now. Had to switch over to the beer crust for the pizza. Better flavor, but worse texture. Oh well, if that's all you've got, then that's what you eat.

When I was in town doing paper route yesterday, there were birds singing and twittering!

On the subject of "trying to be good" (agaaaaain), it crossed my mind this week that there is a significant difference in connotation between "trying to be good" and "desiring to be good."

Also on that subject, I have often been told that it's only works-righeousness if a person thinks his good works are earning salvation, earning heaven. But Pastor mentioned something in passing this week about how it's wrong to believe that good works are "meritorious" -- that is, that our good works will earn a reward from God. (Wouldn't that include rewards that are "lesser" than salvation?)

Pr Petersen has a post on the 1801 election of Jefferson. I found it quite interesting because the boys and I are studying that period of American history right now. But what really tops off the analogy to synodical politics is Pr Weedon's quote from St Gregory Nazianus.

It drives me nuts when the kids mumble. They don't speak clearly, and they don't project their voice, and then they get perturbed with me if I didn't hear what they said. Good grief, it takes so much work and effort and concentration to hear them when they slip into these lousy vocalization habits. It must be very draining for people who are losing their hearing to try to grasp something of the conversation going on around them. I was getting a headache yesterday from trying to hear what these two were saying -- as they were talking at the same time about entirely different subjects (one bemoaning math) at the same time that I was trying to remedy the pizza-crust snafu.

I always used to wonder how Mary Magdalene knew to anoint Jesus for His burial (John 12). It finally dawned on me that He told her. He told them all. He told them all repeatedly. For example, prior to the Transfiguration, He told them what was coming up in Jerusalem (Matthew 16:21). And then in last Sunday's Gospel (Luke 18:31-33) He told them all about it again, just a few days before Mary anointed Him. Whereas I used to think it was odd that Mary knew, now it seems odder yet that the apostles didn't know.

And to conclude, my friend Anthea is hosting the second annual International Tiara Day. It's scheduled for March 1. I think I'm too old and frumpy and have lost too much of my goofiness to join the 20-somethings in this. But I guess I'm still young and goofy enough to be considering it. :-) I've got a week to decide.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dust to Dust

"Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return."

There was a paragraph in the church bulletin this afternoon, explaining why we have the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday. The pastor referred to the curse of the fall in Genesis 3. God said, "Cursed is the ground for your sake." In our way of speaking, "for your sake" could mean "because of you" or "for your benefit." Those two things could be pretty different! It seems obvious that part of "for your sake" is because Adam sinned, and God is responding "because of" what he did. But the curse is also for our benefit. In Day By Day We Magnify Thee today, we read an excerpt of Luther's sermon on suffering and the cross:

"It is highly necessary that we should suffer ... because the great and precious treasure which we have (if it were given to us without such suffering and affliction) would make us snore in our security.... The only way God can check such evil is through the cross. He must so discipline us that our faith increases and grows stronger, and we thus draw the Saviour all the deeper into our soul. For we can no more grow strong without suffering and temptation than we can without eating and drinking."

The sermon this afternoon mentioned that God will keep sending affliction to us until we are finally crushed enough to know -- to really know -- that "there dwells in me no good thing." And then, once we've learned that (as if we could this side of the grave!) we won't care about affliction because our eyes will be fixed so firmly on Jesus and our hearts will be so captivated by Him that we won't worry about the troubles.

This helps explain something from class Monday night. We were on the story of David and Bathsheba and Nathan (2 Samuel 11-12). Pastor was talking about the chastisement (not "punishment") given to David. It seemed to me that he was almost verging on saying that it was good that David sinned, so that the cross of suffering would result, so that the cross would keep David's eyes fixed on God's word of promise. When I asked, Pastor said, "No, no, no!" (But I was told after class that somebody else was wondering the same thing, so I'm glad I stuck my foot in my mouth and asked.) Pastor explained that talking about what "would've happened" if David hadn't sinned is kinda sorta pointless. Yes, it's true that not sinning is good. But after all, the verse of the week is "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) there dwells no good thing. To will is present with me, but how to perform what is good, that I do not do." So we will sin, he said. And when we do, our gracious Father works even that for our good and for our salvation, drawing us ever closer to Himself. After puzzling over that on the way home Monday night, today's Day By Day portion and this afternoon's sermon all fit together in a very helpful way.

As a father never turneth
Wholly from a wayward child,
For the prodigal still yearneth,
Longing to be reconciled,
So my many sins and errors
Find a tender, pardoning God,
Chastening frailty with His rod,
Not, in vengeance, with His terrors.
All things else have but their day;
God's great love abides for aye. (TLH 25:5)

Monday, February 19, 2007

It's above freezing and ...

everyone is flocking to the car wash! I figured that today, while I was doing the weekly errands, I should wash the salt and grime off the vehicle. Everybody else thought the same thing! The line for the automatic car wash was all the way out to the road. People were probably 45 minutes to an hour for their turn. I'm impatient; I decided to use the sprayer and risk getting my feet wet. Ah, it looks so much better, and I'm no longer smearing gunk onto my coat every time I get near the car.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

War of 1812

In past years of homeschooling, we could never find much on the War of 1812. We found kiddy books on the Star Spangled Banner. We found grown-up books on the war. We found long, dry, boring books in the children's section of the library. Last week, we finally bumped into a decent resource. Jean Fritz's The Great Little Madison is a biography of James Madison. Because of what was involved in his life, this book works well for studying things like the Constitution and Federalist Papers, as well as the War of 1812. I wish, when some of the older kids were still homeschooling, I'd thought of seeking out a biography from this time period as a way to find information on events.