Saturday, October 06, 2007


For Anna, Margaret, Rachel, and Anthea...

At the moment, Princess Diaries is playing on the TV. A quote from teenage Mia, who has just found out that she's a princess:

"As if I'm not enough of a freak already, let's just add a tiara!"

So, any rebuttals, dear ones? LOL!

Our Skunk

Well, he's smart enough to hang out VERY close to the house at 4 in the morning. Too close for Gary to feel comfortable using a gun.

And he's smart enough to hang out right next to the live-trap, digging up grubs, and leaving piles of black poop right by the trap, but eschewing the delicious tuna inside the trap.

Rotten skunk.


This morning I had plans to go to a presentation at Children's Hospital put on by the social workers. It was about two things concerning services provided to special-needs kids. First, transitioning from children's services to adult services. Second, the changes in the way the State is administering the funds and overseeing how the money is spent. We're not getting any government services, but the day will come when an uninsurable child is no longer covered by her daddy's health insurance. So I wanted to hear about what changes are in the offing.

It was pretty much a waste of time. The speakers referred only to the new services available in some counties -- places I do not live. But there was the one comment that infuriated me.

A woman was explaining the problem with long waiting lists for obtaining day care, or group homes, or any of the other services people wish to obtain. "They have twelve-year waiting lists for these services. Now, you certainly don't want your child spending that twelve years waiting in YOUR home, watching Oprah all day. They have a right to their own apartment."

Granted, I don't want my kid watching Oprah all day. Or at all. Or watching anything (no matter how good) ALL day.

But to object to having your own child in your home? They turn 18, and they're supposed to be kicked out the door. Who cares that a special-needs (dare I say the naughty word "handicapped"?) child may take longer to grow up? Who cares that their special needs may require [ummmmmmm.....] special allowances? Nope nope nope. We have our own lives to live, and the government better be taking care of this adult-child because I'm ready to wash my hands of it and get on with my life.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

What the Holy Spirit Does

From the Cantate Gospel:
I will send [the Helper] to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment. (John 16:7-11)

From the Exaudi Gospel:
But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. (John 15:26)

When the Holy Spirit comes, what does He do? Convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment? Or testify of Jesus? Are those two distinct jobs? Or are they the SAME thing? Could it be that the way the Holy Ghost convicts the world is by testifying to what Jesus has done?

Cantate = fourth Sunday after Easter
Exaudi = sixth Sunday after Easter

Sad Kitty

When women are depressed, they eat chocolate (until they get so depressed that they can't even stomach that). When a cat is depressed, she eats gophers. And mice. And chipmunks. And gophers. Wrong time of year -- there aren't copious amounts of baby birds attempting to learn to fly, so I think I'll go grab me another gopher.

You would not believe my humans (says Athena). They brought a kitten into my house. She has disgusting amounts of energy. She bounces around this place. The people coo and ahhh over her. She drinks out of my water dish and eats out of my bowl. She wants to play with my tail! The indignity of it all! And now that she's growing, she's invading MY outdoor hunting grounds too. Better find another gopher to chow down.

I'll show them! I won't let them love me. I won't cuddle with them on the couch. I won't stay indoors at night. I am just going to stay outside and hunt gophers and assuage my sorry pitiful soul.

And now! Can you believe what they've done now? They keep talking about a skunk. They put tuna [oh, how I luv tuna!] outdoors in a wire box. But I can't get to it. It's locked. But I can smell its delicious tuna-y smell. The last three evenings when I've come in for a quick "toothbrushing" of kibble and a drink of water to carry me through my gopher-hunting night, they won't let me back out again. Something about whether "the trap has been set yet."

I sit at the door and meow. I go up to those slaves and try to show them the way to the door. And they keep saying, "Sorry, you can't go out. We don't want to catch YOU in the trap. The trap is for the skunk. We love you and want you to be safe." What is the meaning of this outrage? Not only did they bring a kitten into my territory, but now they've cut off my means of escape and make me stay indoors all night with the wretched little creature, AND they've taken away my chocolate gophers.

Slave's rebuttal: Maybe we're going to have to take a night off of attempting to catch the skunk. Otherwise the cat may never come indoors again.

City Folks and Kombucha

A blog visitor recently got here by googling "how can I make my kombucha fizzier?" It was really interesting to go back and look at some of the other hits that came up for that question. One in particular was full of all sorts of science information for balancing the yeast and bacteria in the scoby. On the one hand, helpful. But on the other hand, pretty intimidating and complicated if you're a bear of little brain. The site overwhelmed me, and I've been making kombucha for more than three years. Nevertheless, lots of trouble-shooting advice on that site.

A few days later, I was talking to Katie and she said her kombucha just got ickier and ickier as she made a few batches. She ended up throwing out two batches, and finally gave up. Well, guess what? That website had told me the answer. The chlorinated water that is available in city water-pipes has [duh!] chlorine in it. And why does it have chlorine? To kill bacteria! And what is a kombucha mushroom? A scoby: a symbiotic colony of BACTERIA and yeast. So using chlorinated water will slowly kill your bacteria and leave you with way too many yeastie-beasties in your scoby.... which will become a scoy (leaving out the B) and you'll end up with something that is NOT kombucha.

The solution would be to buy distilled water, or use a good water filter. They also say that letting water sit out on the counter in an open container for 24 hours will allow the chlorine to dissipate into the air. Out here in the country, with real water coming out of a real well, and with a nice reverse-osmosis system, I've got water that makes happy kombucha. But if we ever have to shock the well again, I'd better plan on buying water for kombucha for a few months.

(Side note on Site-meter. I've been amazed at the number of visitors who've come recently, looking for information on how to use a juicer to make grape jelly/jam. It's been anywhere from 4-8% of my daily hits for the last few weeks. It's kinda fun to think that writing about your experiment -- and how well it turned out -- can assure other people that it's safe to try the same thing.)

Acts 8:2

Despised and scorned, they sojourned here.
But now, how glorious they appear!
Those martyrs stand,
a priestly band,
God's throne forever near.
So oft, in troubled days gone by,
in anguish they would weep and sigh.
At home, above, the God of love
for aye their tears shall dry.
They now enjoy their Sabbath rest,
the paschal banquet of the blessed:
the Lamb, their Lord, at festal board
Himself is host and guest.

Evil world, I leave thee;
thou canst not deceive me;
thine appeal is vain.
Sin that once did blind me,
Get thee far behind me;
Come not forth again.
Past thy hour, o pride and power;
sinful life, thy bonds I sever,
leave thee now forever.

For those who will ask, TLH 347 (aka LSB 743)
and TLH 656 (which has some similarity to LSB 676).

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Is This Logical?

What is a church, anyway?

Can a church get by without a pastor?

According to Augsburg Confession article 5, God gave the preaching office (that is, provided the Gospel and sacraments) so that the Holy Spirit could work through the Word to bring people to faith. According to article 7, we recognize the church by her marks (the Gospel being preached and the sacraments being administered).

So churches need pastors. Of course, there will be times when a church goes without a pastor for a short time. Death takes away pastors. Occasionally a pastor will move to a different congregation. But overall, churches need pastors -- wouldn't you say?

So would it make sense for someone to advise that a church can survive financially only if they get rid of their pastor? How can a church survive without a pastor?

And maybe these ruminations had some effect on today's earlier ruminations regarding the history lessons about those Pilgrims who were running away from the Office of the Ministry (among other gifts ordained by God).

Proposal: A New Sin Tax

We heard on the radio yet another new load of government spending that is to be financed by taxes on cigarettes. It seems a little schizo for the lawmakers to be passing legislation which continually gets closer to prohibiting tobacco altogether, which at the same time needing the tax revenue that comes from smokers.

Pretty soon, the lawmakers are going to have to find a new source of funding as more and more smokers kick the habit.

Maybe what we need is a sin tax on pop.
Think about it.
Soda pop is probably doing more damage to health than cigarettes are.

Or -- if we wanted to get REALLY wild and crazy about the lost revenue due to smokers becoming ex-smokers -- the government could consider curtailing spending.


Our history reading these days is from the 1580s to the 1630s. So of course we keep coming back to touch on Queen Elizabeth, King James, and Jamestown, as well as what's up with the Separatists who would become the Plimouth Pilgrims.

I tell ya, the whole "ain't it great how they gave us religious freedom" only goes so far with me. On the one hand, yes, I am thankful that I am free to go to a church that teaches what I believe. (Given the weirdness of what I believe and how it's so different from what most Americans believe, I am especially glad for religious freedom: the freedom to have the Sacraments and the liturgy and to take the Bible seriously regarding both sin and grace.)

But then there's the other hand. These people wanted a religion free from the Office of the Holy Ministry. A religion free from the liturgy. A religion free from sacraments. A religion where their leaders did not wear vestments. A religion free from what had been handed down in the church for centuries. For all their disdain of what Christianity offered, they still considered themselves a "religious" people, and even considered themselves "Christian." It would be hard to believe if it weren't for our encountering the same thing today.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Crockpot Lids

Two crockpots in perfectly decently shape. Except for the lids. I hate to think of heating elements that work fine, and a crock that works fine, all going to waste because of broken lids. (One lid had been cracked for over a year, but finally landed in the dumpster in recent months. The other one's lid shattered tonight.)

Is this normal? Is this how crockpots meet their doom? An innocent little flaw like a broken lid?

By the way, I tried looking online to buy a lid. But the cost of replacement and shipping was more than buying a whole new crockpot.

We need a matchmaking service for crockpots whose lids have broken to make marriages with lids whose crocks have broken. Then we could celebrate new life to appliances! More money in our wallets! And less garbage in the landfills!


We tell little kids that each and every one of them could grow up to be president. For 3-4 decades we've been telling little girls that they can grow up to "have it all" -- family, career, self-fulfillment, etc. We praise people who "give 110%." (That drives me nuts. It's impossible to give 110%. A price can be 110% of the former price. Population growth can be 110%. But effort expended cannot be more than 100%.)

I realize it is good to set high goals and work for them. But do we set the bar so high in so many areas that our society is creating unreasonable expectations? Have we encouraged too many people to reach for perfection in too many areas of life? There was that news story last week that showed woman have significantly less "happiness" than men. Women are the ones trying to keep the jobs going and the house clean and the children nurtured and the volunteerism coordinated, ad infinitum. But today's women are the ones who were brainwashed as little girls that we could have it all. Men weren't told that. And men tend to be happier than women these days.

Reaching for lofty goals is a good thing. Reaching for unattainable goals is damaging. "Be all that you can be." "Have you done all you can to make it happen?" "Work to the best of your ability." What's sad is that we don't want to admit that this [whatever it is] is "all that I can do." We always think we could do a little more, be a little more organized, be a little more efficient, be a little more hard-working. If we could just do a little more, we know we could make it happen [whatever it is]. But sometimes that's just not possible. Sometimes doing "all you can" isn't enough to change things out of your control.

But thanks to the feminists of the 60s and 70s, few women today can accept that.

Candy Bars

Hey, Sunday's newspaper came with a free sample of a new candy bar from Kellog, and a coupon for a box of them. They're called "Crunchy Nut Sweet & Salty Granola Bars." (Silly children told me they weren't candy bars but granola bars. Silly children didn't read the label for the ingredients and the "nutrition" factoids.) The bar [call it granola, call it candy, call it whatever] tasted amazingly like a Pay Day candy bar. Yum yum yum!!!

And while I'm thinking of candy bars, I've noticed something about Snickers. It seems to me there's a hint of cinnamon in them. The label doesn't indicate cinnamon or spice or any of those vague "catch-all" categories of ingredients. But there's something about that light touch of spiciness that's especially tasty recently.

Monday, October 01, 2007


I keep wondering if the pharisees thought they believed in grace. We recognize that they trusted in their works. But did they recognize that?


Our clotheslines was two years old, and the cotton was getting worn. On top of that, it needed to come down to make room for the backhoe last week.

Andrew (that's-MY-son Andrew) has been waiting for a good day to have the sheets and pajamas washed AND HUNG ON THE LINE. There's something glorious about the perfume of line-dried clothing and sheets. It's so great to crawl into a freshly made bed, in jammies that have that wondrous smell!

Hanging the new clothesline today reminded me of the value of my Klutz Book of Knots. You'd think after learning this knot dozens of times, I could remember it. But no. I always have to take the book outdoors with me to hang new clotheslines. I don't know how I ever managed a clotheslines before I discovered that one-way tightens-only knot.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Government who Cried "Wolf"

Maggie and the little girl next door were playing. The neighbor asked if Maggie could stay to supper; they were having a small party -- food, drinks, some games and movies. Then she realized that I might misunderstand "drinks." This little 9-yr-old hastened to assure me that they wouldn't be drinking beer and wine, just, y'know, "drinks," not "drinks."

Then she went on to tell me that she is taught at school how bad drinks are. They say if you have even ONE drink, that you'll get sick and end up in the hospital. And that if you have several drinks, you might die from it. But she said that didn't make sense. Sometimes her mom will have four or five beers in one day (I'm assuming that's through the course of a long evening), and her mom never gets sick from beer. And she pointed out to me that, IF what "they" say is true, then EVERYbody would be sick from beer and would've been hospitalized from it, because everybody has beer-butt chicken. (Sorry to say, I have not yet partaken of this dish which I have been assured is marvelous. I'm going to have to remedy this oversight someday.) So here's this little girl, telling me that she doesn't think liquor is so horrible as they keep trying to teach her it is. Her experience contradicts what the school teachers say.

Then there's the speed limits in construction zones. Flashing signs along the road warn us to slow down for construction. Orange signs warn us that there are "Men Working" ahead. Threats are invoked: fines are doubled in work zones. And yet, how often do we see the signs, and drive for 20 miles in a "construction zone" where there is absolutely no construction? If it were in unfamiliar territory, you could rack it up to "They're just putting up the cones and the signs; the trucks and backhoes will be here tomorrow." But when you live there, and for five months the 20-mile-long "construction zone" consists only of men on two bridges, only on the weekday afternoons, well, it gets pretty hard to take seriously the need to drive 45 mph (instead of 65 or 70) on a Saturday morning for the whole length of road.

However, sometimes there ARE "men working." One of our neighbors (working on road repairs) nearly lost his leg and was hospitalized for months when a motorist ignored the speed limits in the construction zone, and smashed into him. Is it the fault of the motorist? Yes, to some extent. But how much is it also the fault of the government which puts up "SLOW: men working" signs when there just aren't any repairmen anywhere around?

About a year ago, a citizens' group in a nearby city got funding to run a campaign to encourage parents not to provide liquor to kids. They just couldn't figure out why parents weren't getting on the bandwagon. They had all these billboards up, telling people not to keep beer in the fridge because it would be too easy for their children to have access to it. (So, let me get this straight. They're promoting drinking warm beer? Or they want the grown-ups to have no beer, as long as there are minors in the home?) This group ran newspaper articles, trying to get parents to support "Not a Drop Till They're 21." And they couldn't figure out why more parents weren't supporting the cause. I called and talked to the group organizer. She couldn't understand why I was "in favor of" parents buying multiple kegs and many bottles of hard liquor for a party for 14-18 yr olds. I kept saying that there's a world of difference between getting other people's kids totally schnockered, and serving your own 19-yr-old a 3-ounce glass of wine with a spaghetti dinner at the dining room table. As long as these folks can't tell the difference, though, they will have no credibility out there in the real world.

If the government were just HONEST instead of insisting that "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!" maybe we'd take them seriously more often. But as long as the sky is falling, we will all be questioning the "need" to give up our incandescent light bulbs, buy ethanol, eat oat bran, avoid cholesterol, repaint our houses too often because there's no lead in the paint, and drive plastic buckets to conserve fuel.

Estimated Family Contribution

For those wanting to get a rough idea of how their kid's financial aid forms for college will turn out, check out a couple of these websites. There's the Financial Aid Estimator calculator. But you can also go to a government website that will give you an idea of percentages of parents' income, parents' assets, student's income, and student's assets that are considered fair game for college expenses. Basically, half the student's after-tax income (after an annual allowance of about $2600) is expected to go to tuition, as is 1/3 of his assets. For the parents, it's a little more complicated because it depends on how many children you have, how many in college, how old the parents are, etc.