Saturday, December 01, 2007

Bread Fix

Yesterday I had started the grain soaking for my bread. And then I forgot. Shoot -- I didn't want to leave the grain soaking overnight; 24 hours would be too long. But I didn't want to stay up half the night finishing the bread-baking. So I put together the dough and kneaded. Then I put two loaves worth of dough in a 5-qt ice-cream pail. Put the lid on. Popped it in the fridge. In 11 hours overnight it rose to double -- that's all -- not too much, not too little.

This morning I took the bread dough out of the fridge, and let it start warming up to room temperature. After dinkin' around too much with lasagna and paper route and helping a kid make a scale-drawing of the living room, I finally got around to shaping the loaves, letting them rise, and baking. And y'know? It worked! When the world and the to-do list and the schedule just get too too busy for the bread to be made all in one day, using the refrigerator for rising-time will slow down the yeast growth, and make it easier to keep the bread from over-rising until I get to an appropriate time for baking. This is going to be handy to know.


Did you know that if you wear sandals and cotton socks outdoors in 2-3" of snow, that your socks will get snowy? And when they get snowy, the so-called heat coming from your chilly feet will melt the snow? (Surely not! Surely feet outdoors in sandals are not warmer than 32 degrees?!?) And then your feet would be wet. And wet feet in the cold winter are even colder than dry feet.

Did you know that?
I know it.
You would've thought I'd be smart enough to knooow that without trying it out as an experiment. But no........

Boy, I knew there was a reason for keeping an old pair of Birkenstocks around. (I mean, besides the ingrained packrat mentality.) The shoes hiding in the back of the closet are DRY.

I discovered something, though, from those old Birkenstocks. The ones I've been buying off ebay for the last few years, the ones with the "easy to adjust to" sole, don't have nearly as much arch support as the "uncomfortable" styles. Back to the uncomfortable version for me!

The Seasonal Phrase

"Keep Christ in CHRISTmas."
"Put Christ back into Christmas."

I see it on shopping bags, lapel pins, signs in front of churches, marquis signs on businesses, and more. Nothing wrong with the slogan.

But where is the call to keep the Mass in ChristMAS?


What homesteaders have in common is the desire to be more self-reliant. To be more pro-active in planning and living their life. They value the simple things in life and structure that life around family and relationships. They refuse to run on the modern treadmill of society. Their identity is not based on how much money they make but in the confidence of living a life with purpose and independence. They value the simple, the plain, and the functional things in life....

With each new choice that you implement, your self-confidence increases. You feel a freedom that feeds on being in control of your life and its future. You start considering things that would surprise even yourself. Before long you're studying the possibility of solar energy panels and whether you can build a hydraulic ram to bring water out of that small river.

This is from the current issue of Backwoods Home, an article by Frank Dujanovic entitled "Dreams to Reality." The article is about beginning homesteading, but it applies to self-reliance in many areas of life. Unfortunately, this article is not one that's available online, so maybe you'll just have to hie thee to a bookstore and purchase a copy (although few bookstores carry it any more) or order one online, or better yet, subscribe.

Weather Forecast

I had hoped to go visit my folks this weekend. But I heard the weather warnings. Snow. Ice. Freezing rain. I think maybe I'll postpone the drive a bit. I never know whether those dire warnings of imminent storms are just hype to get more viewers to tune in to the news and the Weather Channel, or if they're for real. But the one experience that Katie and I had in freezing rain was enough for a lifetime. The threat of freezing rain will keep me hunkered down in my house, whereas snow and ice are just part of living in the northern Midwest. (Now, I am gonna be mad at those forecasters if this is just another time when they're crying "Wolf!" to increase their ratings.)

Friday, November 30, 2007


Back in the ancient days, when I was in college, back when people programmed computers in Fortran and Cobol, there was a conundrum of how difficult it was to obtain a job without experience, but having a job was the only way to become "experienced."

Today it's worse. Increasingly socialist government policies have made it nearly impossible for employers to fire incompetent and/or dishonest employees. So the bosses --understandably-- want to be extremely careful with regard to whom they're hiring.

Colleges offer internship opportunities -- sometimes as part of coursework, sometimes as a summer job. We thought those would be a nice extra, but we also thought it would be good for kids to come home over summer and be with the family again, saving money over summer instead of spending it on rent, etc. Now I'm wondering if it would've been better to kick the kid out the door, and make sure he was out there in the Real World each summer, in Chicago or New York or London or Tokyo, making his resume look more enticing.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you,
My peace I give to you,
Not as the world gives do I give to you.
Let not your heart be troubled,
neither let it be afraid.

Pastor preached last Eastertide that Jesus' peace is not like the world's peace -- the peace that makes you comfortable and happy and all nicey-nice. Sometimes we want that peace (peace among our family members, peace with our boss, peace with the nations who bomb us) more than we want Jesus' kind of peace.

Today I noticed something else about this verse. I guess I always think of peace as a calm restful state of mind. But there's also the peace that comes at the end of battle, at the end of war, when the fighting is finished [a la "It is finished!"]. Jesus' peace means we are no longer at odds with God, no longer waging war with Him. The blood has been shed. The treaty has been agreed upon. The terms have been signed. Peace has been declared.

Chex Mix

There's not a whole lot of Christmas preparation goin' on here. There probably won't be either. It's not so much an objection for weighty reasons, but more practical reasons like a shortage of space and a time-crunch. So Philip decided to indulge himself with multiple batches of Chex-Mix making. Mmmmm. It smells good in here! Mmmmm. It tastes good too!

Three Christmas Memories

Emily started her own meme of sharing Three Christmas Memories that you have, be they good or bad, hilarious or just plain odd. (I'm not linking to Emily's particular blogpost, but to her site. Several of her recent postings have just been too good to miss! So go look at the whole blog.)

So a few of my memories:
1. I remember when I was very small -- one of my earliest memories. There was a big box under the tree. I was very very interested in that big box. I don't know if Mom told me it was boots for Grandpa, or if she just suggested that it might be boots for Grandpa, but I know that it was A Confirmed TRUTH in my little head that that box held galoshes for my dad's pa.

2. My brother and I are very close in age, and my sister came along a little later. She was beginning to get skeptical about the existence of Santa. Old enough to want to believe, but not quite able to believe. When I took the trash out on Christmas Eve, I came rushing back into the house, gasping, all excited, pointing to the sky, and saying I heard sleigh bells overheard. It's possible my sister was just going along with the game, but she sure seemed to buy it.

3. When Gary was at sem, there was an annual Christmas-shopping night that was held in connection with Mrs Graudin's resale shop. People throughout St Louis and the country would send clothes and furniture and toys and household items to the sem, to be distributed to the poor seminarians and their families. (Groceries too, but that came through the nurse's office.) Mrs G would reserve some of the nice things that would make good Christmas-gift items, and put them out one night in early December. Some of us would do virtually all our Christmas shopping at this sale, spending $10 or $20. I guess that is especially fresh in my mind right now as I am weeding out too-much-stuff in our house. And there's one toy, one dear toy, that I'm not sure I can give to Goodwill or sell or even pass along to friends. And it came from one of those Christmas resale shopping-nights. There were other very nice things we found too, and wonderful gifts that friends picked up for their families. But this particular set of blocks is still precious to me after 20+ years. So THANK YOU to all you people who donate to the seminaries' clothing banks and food banks!!!

I think I'm going to tag Barbara and Rick and Elizabeth and Paula.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


My son's alma mater (the second-largest public university in the state) is in the midst of a controversy over an upcoming lecture. Walid Shoebot (a former PLO terrorist) is scheduled to speak on why he left Jihad. The Muslim students want his speech canceled because ....
(get this) ....

they are in favor of diversity.

for the sake of promoting
and diversity.

Yeah. Right. Clear as mud.

The administration of the college is charging a $2500 security fee to the group that invited Shoebot. Some people seem to think that this is a "conservative tax," seeing as how it's about 6x larger than the security fee usually charged to groups putting on lectures or other events. That may be true. The administration may be trying to discourage a lecturer who would say something contrary to the politcally correct mantra.

But IF it's not...
If the fee is NOT an attempt to hush Shoebot and his message, then what does the exorbitant fee demonstrate? It means that when liberals put on lectures that highlight their viewpoint, the conservatives quietly let them do their thing, without riots, without protests, without violence. But when conservatives put on lectures that highlight their viewpoint, the university administration wants loads of cops on hand because they expect trouble. And from whom would that trouble arise? The conservatives who agree? Or does this outrageous security fee indicate that liberals might resort to violence and threats to intimidate their opponents?

So what's your choice? Neither one is a pretty option. Either the university administration is using their power to prevent a conservative from speaking. Or this is evidence that liberals respond to conservatives with a whole lot less TOLERANCE than conservatives respond to liberals. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Okay, I admit it. I'm ADD and distractible.

Someone asked me to read "Dark Night of the Soul" by St John of the Cross. So I'm getting my feet wet and going through it. And St John uses an analogy for how God gives us His good gifts in sweetness and joy, but then must eventually help us "grow up," and thus we begin to encounter anfechtungen.

But the analogy distracted me.

It said something about how a mother would put aloe on her breasts to discourage a child from nursing so that he would be weaned and go on to his growing up.

Aloe? YUCK! Nasty! Aloe in a kid's mouth would certainly discourage him from asking to nurse. But aloe in the mouth is just awful. It would be kinder to hit a kid than to put aloe in his mouth.

Just the thought of aloe in the mouth makes me want to run to the bathroom and spit and spit and spit. Thinking of aloe in the mouth makes you want to wash your own mouth out with soap because it would improve the sensation in your mouth.

Oh. Was I supposed to be reading theology?
Ooops. Got distracted by that "Solidarity With The Holsteins" thing again.
And the horrid thought of aloe touching my tastebuds.

Aloe in the mouth. [Shudder!!!!]

Movie Time

We have recently enjoyed Monsters Inc and Ratatouille. It amazes me how they can make movies these days that are appropriate and such great fun for the adults and kids both.

Pr Stuckwisch also suggested the sit-com Sports Night. It finally came up on our Blockbuster queue, and we've immensely enjoyed what we've seen so far.

Country Vets

The vets who take care of cows, sheep, pigs, and horses are the vets who know that cats and dogs are animals and not people. They know that people love their pets. They offer many services to those who want fancy-schmancy care for their kitties and doggies. But they also know that pets are NOT children. Too many city vets and small-animal vets don't quite understand that.

I called today to make the appointment for Rosie's spaying. They told me the cost for the office visit and surgery, as well as the mandatory rabies shot. Then she told me all the other shots and tests they could offer (for distemper and leukemia and stuff). But the receptionist reiterated that the only requirement was the rabies shot. Great! The bill for Rosie is going to be less than half of the bill for my daughter's cat's spaying and declawing.

Furthermore, no country vet is going to scold you for not brushing your dog's teeth (like has happened to some of my friends in the city).

It would be well worth the gas-money to take a drive out to the country for a vet like we've got.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Email Postcards

Snopes confirms another computer virus making the rounds disguised as postcards or online greeting cards. The thing that I never know, though, is how we're supposed to tell the difference between the notices for the real and fake greeting cards.

Snopes had some advice for that. It said never to click on the link in the greeting card. Instead, you can go directly to the card company's website, find the "card pick-up page" on the site, and input the ID number of the card (which would've been included in the email notification about the card).

Maybe this is obvious to y'all, but so far I've been playing Russian Roulette, hoping that the cards Maggie and I have received have been real and not attempts to crash my computer. Now I know how to circumvent that possibility. If only I can remember....

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Getting Rid of Books

Oh, the pain!
Ouch ouch ouch!

I neeeeed to get rid of stuff in the house. It doesn't hurt much to send clothes to Goodwill. Weeding out toys is a little uncomfortable, but do-able. But books?


What if we need them later?

They're good old-fashioned books, and you can't find those kind of things in the libraries or even the bookstores any more.

The kids might need these for their kids someday.


I sure do like books.
I want my library to grow and grow and never ever shrink.
(Y'know, I don't think my eldest could even DO what I'm doing right now.)

Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones

Sometimes a mother might have to gently nudge her child next to her in the pew and point to the spot on the page of the hymnal. El-Kiddo gets the unspoken message that she's supposed to leave LaLa-Land, tune back in, and join in the hymn-singing.

Oh, higher than the cherubim,
more glorious than the seraphim,
lead their praises. Alleluia!
Thou bearer of the eternal Word,
most gracious, magnify the Lord.

Respond, ye souls in endless rest,
ye patriarchs and prophets blessed,
ye holy Twelve,
ye martyrs strong,
all saints triumphant raise the song:
(TLH 475)

Certainly the blessed Virgin Mary does not need to be asked to tune in to what's happening in church. Certainly Abraham and David and Peter and Paul and Ignatius and Constantine do not need to be told to sing with us. But there's just something that thrills the heart and sends shivers down your spine to realize so vividly that we're talking to our brothers and sisters in this song -- that Mary Magdalene and my grandfather and Isaiah and Katie Luther and Robert Preus and my goddaughter Bethany and Ambrose and Eve and Jeremiah and Barnabas are all there with us, gathered around the altar with us, singing with us -- and that we are inviting them to join us. :-) Like they need to be invited? We need the prodding to sing and praise more than they, that's for sure. But still, this hymn ... what a glorious reminder that we are all one body!

Hallucinations -- Part 3

Do you suppose that maybe, just maybe, God knows what's good for me ... even when I am confused and uncomfortable and in pain? I might think that my dad should not pull out his IV's or gastric tube, but he sure didn't agree in those days immediately post-surgery. I'm arrogant enough to think I knew better than he did, and to think he shouldn't be made "comfortable" if it meant doing harm to himself. Of course, he might not be able to recognize the harm that would come to him if he should try to get up and walk while he's still attached to the bed and to the wall. But his inability to recognize his situation doesn't at all lessen the harm that would come to him if he tried to do what he thought was a good idea.

Do we ever end up in the position that the post-surgery patient is in? Do we ever end up with God watching over us and our every move, apparently thwarting whatever attempts we make to improve our situation? And why does He do it? Just because He thinks He knows better! Just because He isn't trying to get immediate comfort, but is wanting to do what is ultimately for our best interest! And what do we do in response to His watchful eye and His tender care? We chafe. We try to sneak around Him and make things turn out the way that we think best. We accuse Him of not loving and not caring and not helping us.

My hallucinations about "what is best for me" can be every bit as misguided as the poor fellow who just had surgery and is full of narcotic pain-killers.

When you're one of the care-takers in the ICU dept, this is all so easy to see. But when you're the one who's hurting, it's practically impossible to see.

Hallucinations -- Part 2

Over the last weeks, my father was having a hard time figuring out that he was in the hospital. When he knew he was in the hospital, he was often confused about where he was in the building, and was worried that the nurses wouldn't be able to find him.

I remembered what the pastors had said about not fighting over those things. It's hard, though, when you don't realize what's going on in a conversation. Sometimes a daughter or a visitor or even a wife will be trying to help a patient, but get pretty darned lost as to what's going on.

What's especially hard is knowing how unhappy your patient is, all hooked up to tubes and IV's, knowing how much he wants to get out of the hospital and just go home. But he can't. He can't have a drink. He can't get up and go to the bathroom. He can't have a snack. He can't move be moved to a different room just because he feels like it. The patient is convinced that his family members (and even the nurses) don't care about him, won't give him what he wants, and are way off-base as to what he needs. But he is wrong: they are doing what's good for him even though he's uncomfortable and not getting his way.

No matter what he imagines about where he is, no matter what he thinks about the family's "lack of love" in refusing to check him out of the hospital, those thoughts are just confusion borne of the situation and the medications and the lack of sleep and other things that interfere with good sense. Sometimes when a patient is confused and in pain, his feelings and his experience seem much more important than what his caretakers insist is necessary for his recovery.