Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cat Food

The last several days, we have been picking up kibble and tossing it back into the bowl SO MUCH! I couldn't figure out why.

Now I know.

One of "us" has decided that she's bored inside, with all that snow out there, and no hunting grounds because the bigger one of "us" takes all the gophers and mice and other critters without letting the little one of us have any.

So, apparently the plan has been to get into the cat-food dish and toss kibble out onto the linoleum floor. And then (ooooooh, what fun!) you can get all fierce-like, and chase down a piece of kibble-prey, and pounce on it, and slide across the floor like a crazy out-of-control animal, and bat the kibble-prey around, and kill-kill-KILL it! And then -- whoa, what a triumphant warrior! -- you can EAT your prey. Just like the real huntress does outside with her gophers.

However, the game gets boring before all the kibble prey gets "caught" and gobbled. So the big two-legged ones come along, pick up the mess, and toss it back into the cat dish.

But when their backs are turned, the four-legged one can start tossing cat food all over the kitchen floor again. What fun!!!

Shaken Up

For a second or two today, I was afraid I was going to kill a man.

It was snowing again. The roads were snow-packed and hazardous. I was driving slowly and cautiously. Approaching an intersection, I noticed a vehicle that looked like he was not going to be able to stop. I moved over into the left lane (for oncoming traffic, of which there was none), thinking he was going to manage to stop partway into the intersection. But he kept coming further into the intersection. I was too close to the corner to be able to slow down enough to avoid hitting him as he went right through his stop sign. As he started into the intersection, he seemed to be unable to get the traction he needed, and I thought I was going to hit the driver. But then his tires grabbed and he began to move faster, so his truck was in the left lane and the snowmobile trailer was in the right lane (my lane) and there was nowhere for me to go but the ditch.

I'd slowed down enough and managed to keep control so that, when I steered to veer around him, I didn't do donuts. I didn't roll the car. I just slid (relatively gently) off the road into the ditch, taking out the stop sign, and hit the telephone pole. The van is pretty dented up, and the back window exploded. But there are no bruises, no cuts, no broken bones. And hopefully no mechanical damage to the van.

I didn't hit him. I didn't hurt him. And I didn't smash my front end into his vehicle, which would've done a lot more damage to my car than what actually panned out. So I guess, given how bad it might've been to have a car pull out right in front of me, things turned out pretty well.

The booger is that three people have to be at work on Monday, and we're down to two cars. Philip's is in the shop, apparently in need of an alternator. Right now, with circumstances as they are, we just have too many people going in too many directions (and a long way in those directions) to be grounded due to non-operational vehicles.

The thing I am very thankful for is the kindness of the man who caused the accident. He was very concerned to make sure I wasn't injured. He had me sit in his car with the heat on while we awaited the police. And he told the police officer the truth about pulling out in front of me: he noticed how slowly I was going and thought he had time to cross the road before I reached the intersection. And he would've been right if the road conditions had been better, or if it had been just his pick-up truck going across instead of his truck and trailer.

When it was time to go back to town later, I was so nervous about getting in the car. I remember how nervous Katie became about driving after a semi side-swiped her. In my rational mind, I realize that accidents can happen, but when it does happen, it's kind of scary to get behind the wheel again, wondering what's going to go wrong this time. But they tell you to get right back up on that horse after you fall off....

Friday, January 25, 2008

No More Call Lists

For about 15 years, people have been putting Gary's name on call lists. In the last year, friends have done so even more than before. We are SO thankful for that help and encouragement! Our new district president (the one we've had for the last 1½ years) has done what he could to circulate Gary's name and to encourage congregations to issue him a call. Nevertheless, there have been no calls to consider.

Now Gary is in a position where he can no longer consider a call.

When he first started applying for jobs, nobody was interested in hiring a guy who'd been a pastor for 20 years. 1) They figured he had no business sense -- definitely not true of Gary! 2) A few naughty Roman Catholic priests have given pastors a bad reputation, so people wonder about guys who are no longer going to be serving a parish full-time. 3) Apparently some people are uncomfortable with the idea of being around a pastor (eeeuuuwww!) all day because he might hear them cuss or talk about things in their lives that he might disapprove of.

So when he applied for the job where somebody helped him get an "in" (where the personnel dept didn't just toss his resume in the trash immediately), the interviewer was concerned that the salary would be too low for a middle-aged guy. She figured that he would up and leave as soon as some congregation somewhere offered him a position. The ONLY way they would consider keeping him in the pool for consideration for the job was if he would promise them to stick around for at least 12-18 months. Since this job seemed like the only chance to make more than $10/hour, he told them he'd stay put in the area and make it worth their while to train him and give him a chance.

So that's where we are. We're here in this locale. And if his name should continue to be circulated, he would not be able to give a call due consideration at this time as it would make him renege on his promise to his new employer.

Drug Test

So the business finally got back the results of Gary's drug test. And he passed. (Are you surprised? LOL) So he reports to work on Monday morning.

The congregation has contacted the district, wondering what's going to happen now with their pastor being unavailable to them except on Saturday and Sunday. The elders meet to discuss possibilities this weekend.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Another Job Possibility?

We were out running errands and taking care of several things today. We had to kill a little time between two appointments and stopped at the library. Turns out they're hiring a part-time (9 hours per week plus every fifth weekend) associate in the children's department. I mean, now, really, how much more FUN a job could you find than that?

Deadline for applications was today when the library closed. In other words, I had a whoppin' 75 minutes to decide if I wanted to apply, fill out the application, and write a cover letter.

I did. I can't believe I did this. The only down-side I can see is that I'd have to give up Thursday Bible class. Of course, it's not likely that they'd even give a housewife an interview -- especially a mommy who had only half an hour to think about whipping out a cover letter. But it'll be interesting to see if anything comes of this!

Balsamic Vinegar

After depleting nearly all of Katie's fresh produce in only two days last week, I figured I'd better pick up some groceries for us visitors to consume over the next couple of days. And then it would be polite and proper to leave them something to make up for all the inhaling of groceries we'd done. Among other items, I bought some baby lettuces and some grape tomatoes. We ate them for lunch on Friday, just before we scooted out of town. But Katie and Nathan do not have salad dressing in their apartment. That's fine with most of my kids, but I would've preferred some dressing. Katie had been telling about this balsamic vinegar that she had (not something she learned about in my kitchen) which she had included in Thursday evening's ham-bake. So I thought I'd try sprinkling balsamic vinegar onto the salad.

Oh. My. Goodness!

Although my home-made salad dressing is full of enzymes and other healthy stuff (raw first-cold-pressed olive oil and raw apple-cider vinegar), I think that balsamic vinegar may have converted me to using that for salad dressing instead!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


It's important for families to eat dinner together. Since Gary's going to be gone at dinner time (1:30ish) we're going to have to be eating at supper-time. So I sat down and made a chart of who's going to be here when, and who needs to take meals to work with them the next day, so I knew whether to cook for 3 or 8 or some number in between.

Yesterday we made a light meal for lunchtime -- just a gallon of salad and a 13x9 of tamale pie. We intended to eat dinner at suppertime. Oh my goodness! By 3:00 I was starved. I couldn't think of anything but food. I snitched Snickers. I snitched a shot of Southern Comfort. I snitched more Snickers. By 5:00 I thought I was going to fall apart from hunger. Finally we sat down to fajitas and burritos. Then I stuffed myself too full.

How do the rest of y'all eat dinner at suppertime? Gary and I both felt cruddy last night after eating a meal in the evening. Maybe it's just what you're used to?

Last week at symposium, I ate in the evening because it was the only way to work out calories -- half a bowl of cereal in the morning, a piece of fruit midday, and then dinner about 7:00. For nearly 20 years, we've been eating dinner at 1-2:00. As Gary and I have been feeling the results of old age, we eat less and less at suppertime, and let the kids eat leftovers and burritos and fried eggs and sandwiches and stuff like that for supper.

Today we went to Pizza Hut for their lunch buffet. (Thank you, Anthea!) In an attempt to try to do something for supper as an official meal, we put some leftovers out and nibbled at them together. Today when Gary and I were discussing this whole meal-schedule thing, we figure we're just going to have to eat dinner midday regardless of family togetherness. I hate that thought! But likewise, we hate the thought of the nightmares that come after eating dinner in the evening. We just can't figure out any good way to blend the need for family meals with our bodies' need for fasting in the evening.

And what's really sad is that I'm fretting about this when there are people in the world who would be tickled to pieces to have any food to eat, regardless of the time of day.

Not Yet

Gary went in to take his drug test for work today and to fill out paper-work and tax forms and such. Turns out that there was a small glitch in communication between the boss and the human resources dept. He cannot start until after they have back the results of the drug test. So he'll probably begin next Monday. Possibly as soon as this Thursday or Friday. Okay, yet another change of plans....


When Athena was a kitten, she would sometimes scratch the furniture. So as to stop her and put her out of reach of the furniture, we would toss her outside. We thought the lesson we were teaching was "You are not allowed to treat the furniture this way." The lesson she learned, however, was "If you want to go outside, the way to make them open the door is to scratch the furniture." Oh, shoot! We taught her TO scratch, not to NOT scratch. We have struggled with that unintended lesson for years, until last month we moved the upholstered furniture so far away from the door as to make it pointless for her to try scratching to get outside.

So with the new kitten, we were on top of things. Oh, yes, we were! We'd learned a lesson about unintended lessons. But somehow, we're still just as stuck as before.

Twerpy little Rosie is nutso for water. She loves the drips from the water faucet after we brush our teeth. She comes running whenever she hears footsteps in the bathroom. She licks up puddles after we mop the kitchen. She tries to get into the kitchen sink (which involves the major no-no of getting onto the counter first) and is working on perfecting her scheme of drinking out of the toilet without falling into it. (People! Please flush here!) For a couple of months, it worked to shoot her with water from the squirty-bottle. But now she WANTS us to squirt her because it's more water to lick up. Throwing her outside has been an effective punishment for the last couple of days when the temps have been in the negative numbers, but it doesn't work as a punishment when it's 20 or 30°.

So today we tried buying her some pets. Ashes (now deceased) had one of those male kitty diseases that meant he was likely to be very dehydrated and we had to coax him to drink. So we bought him a pet goldfish to make his water more tasty. It worked. Today we bought some feeder goldfish for Rosie, hoping to entice her to drink the fishy water instead of lusting after fresh running water. She's quite enchanted by the little fishies and trying to get her paws on them. But we're not sure if this will alleviate the naughtiness of her going after our water glasses.

And we still don't have a punishment for scratching the furniture (a trick that Athena taught her) or her crazy-love for inside-soles of shoes.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Meal Plans

Good housewives plan their meals for the week and then head to the grocery store. Everybody tells us that this is the way to reduce grocery costs, reduce wasted food, and save time in the kitchen.

I am not a good housewife.

Every time I plan meals ahead, a monkey wrench gets thrown into the mix (oftentimes a good monkey wrench). We get invited over to somebody's house for dinner. Or leftovers are sent home from a potluck or funeral dinner. A neighbor stops by with fresh garden produce. Or someone gets sick, and we need chicken soup instead of lasagna.

So I've developed my own style of "meal plans" without planning ahead. As I go through the grocery store, I check out what kind of produce is getting good-n-ripe and very cheap. I check the meat bin where the "last day before expiration" meat is available for less than half price. I found red peppers for only a dime more than green peppers this week, so we're eating fajitas tonight.

When I get home from the store, I jot down food items on the refrigerator memo board. That way I can remember that I have some pork that needs to be thrown in the crockpot with bbq sauce. Or that there are turnips that will need to go into a stew or soup. Or that there's lettuce hiding in the back of the drawer that I ought not forget. Or that there's a ½-pound of hamburger that needs to be used in something (baked beans? taco salad?) before it gets too old. Then I can just keep crossing items off the list in whatever combinations they are used.

This is not the best way to do it, but it works for me. There's some semblance of planning in that I have a list to jog my memory about what I purchased. And things don't get wasted. But I don't have to plan the meals before I see what I can buy on-the-cheap from the market.

The Non-Black Stranger

We wear hand-me-downs. Or gifts. We don't buy clothes.

Gary lives in black clericals and black Flex-slacks. That's not exactly going to work in a cubicle at a secular business. So today he went to Goodwill and did a little clothes shopping. He made a good haul! Four nice 100%-cotton button-down long-sleeved shirts and two pairs of khakis for a total of $15. Hooray!

But when he tried on them to show us his new clothes, he looked funny. Where's the Man In Black? Like Paul mentioned, Dad's skin color looks darker when it's not up against the solid wall of black. It's just plain weird to see Gary in red & beige plaid, or blue & beige stripes. :-)

Weinrich's Lecture at Symposium

As a couple of pastors said at the end of Weinrich's paper (which is not published yet, but hopefully will be soon), they could've just let him talk alllll morning! Wow, it was good! My pastor commented on Thursday afternoon after the panel discussion that it seems that Weinrich always preaches even when he's "teaching."

I began noticing about 10 minutes into the lecture that he seemed to be using a lot of terms that were in the preface from the Easter Vigil. I don't think it was intentional -- just that he was talking about the incarnation and the atonement, and how the incarnation has meaning only in that it's connected to the atonement, and how the atonement for sin could only be made by an incarnate God. He talked about being delivered from bondage to sin. He talked about how we are restored to life. He talked about the new creation. He talked about the atonement working our innocence, and restoring us to joy in Christ the Light. So all through his lecture, it was like I had two transparencies in my mind, the lecture and the preface, all mixed up and entwined in a beautiful montage.

For He is the very Paschal Lamb
who offered Himself for the sin of the world,
who has cleansed us by the shedding of His precious blood.
This is the night when You brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt and led them through the Red Sea on dry ground.
This is the night when all who believe in Christ are delivered from bondage to sin and are restored to life and immortality.
This is the night when Christ, the Life, arose from the dead. The seal of the grave is broken, and the morning of the new creation breaks forth out of night.
Oh, how wonderful and beyond all telling is Your mercy toward us, o God, that to redeem a slave You gave Your Son.
How holy is this night when all wickedness is put to flight and sin is washed away.
How holy is this night when innocence is restored to the fallen and joy is given to those downcast.
How blessed is this night when man is reconciled to God in Christ.
Holy Father, accept now the evening sacrifices of our thanksgiving and praise.
Let Christ, the true Light and Morning-star, shine in our hearts, He who gives light to all creation.

Quakers (Caramel-Oatmeal Cookies)

2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine

2 eggs
1½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Beat in
2 cups flour
2 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups quick oats

Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for about 9 minutes (for a 2" or 2½" cookie). Do not overbake; they should be soft and chewy, not crisp. If desired, add chocolate chips or nuts.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Diet Chocolate Cake

Now, don't get too excited about the title of this recipe! It got the name through family legend. When Gary and I were first married, we made this cake and gobbled it up in about 2 days -- and each lost a couple of pounds. A couple of weeks later, I mixed up another cake, and again we each lost weight that week. This happened several times, and I can't figure out why it would happen. It's probably just coincidence, but it makes for a good joke around here (that probably nobody else finds funny).

This recipe is harder to pull together than most cakes. I don't normally like making cake. It's so much more trouble than pie or cookies. On top of that, cake is probably our least favorite dessert. (NOT that we dislike cake, please understand! It's just, y'know, in comparison to banana cream pie or cinnamon rolls or caramel-oatmeal cookies or ..... wait, ... I have to stop and wipe the drool off the keyboard....) Where was I? Oh yeah, this cake is more trouble than most. But oh yummy yummy, it's worth it!

Step 1 -- the fudge.
Combine in saucepan
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 egg
Heat to boil, stirring constantly.
Set aside to cool.

Step 2 -- the butter.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter (or shortening)
till light.
Add 1 tsp vanilla.
Beat well.
Add 1 egg. Beat well.
Add another egg. Beat well.

Step 3 -- flour and milk.
While beating, sprinkle into butter:
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt.

2/3 cup flour,
1/2 cup milk,
2/3 cup flour,
1/2 cup milk,
2/3 cup flour,
beating well after each addition.

Blend fudge into cake batter.
Bake in greased & floured pans
(either two 9"-rounds or one 13x9")
at 350°, about 25-30 minutes for rounds
or about 35-40 for the 13x9.

Katie's Job

While one daughter struggles in her work situation, the other is quite happy with her job. After spending time with her last week, it just makes me so proud of her that I have to brag for a minute.

Katie is working in a nursing home, helping with the activities. She helps with the all-important Bingo games. She wheels people to daily Mass or assists the non-Catholics in getting to chapel. She organizes activities like baking cookies. She takes people for walks in nice weather. For those who don't get many visitors, part of her job is to just go to their room and sit and visit with them.

She tells me that many young people think she has a very depressing job. But she doesn't see it that way. She gets along so well with those "old-fashioned people." She takes cares of them. She brightens up their lives and stimulates their minds, not unlike a mommy of young children does for her charges. She is good to these people who have spent most of their lives giving to others, and now are unable to give and are beginning to be the ones who are dependent and needy.

And Katie enjoys giving of herself to them. How much prouder could a momma be of such a great girl?

Further Memory Work

What's next? After your kids have learned the catechism and a plethora of Bible passages and hymns, what else might they learn by heart? Of course, you're still going to want to be continuing to pray those texts already learned. But sometimes it seems good to add some other salutary passages.

How about psalms? Maybe 1, 23, and 100. Maybe 25, 27, 46, 85, 103, 116, 118. And others.

How about the prayer offices or at least the canticles from them? And more hymns -- of course, always more hymns!

I've also asked various kids to learn portions of the Athanasian Creed, the 4th and 5th articles of the Augsburg Confession, the preface that comes near the beginning of the Easter Vigil, the middle paragraph of the Second Article in the Large Catechism (labeled as "verses" 28-30), the litany (LSB 288 or page 112 of TLH), and assorted collects. Not that any of us has learned all that! But we wouldn't want them to slow down on absorbing new things just because they'd already learned everything included in the Learn-by-Heart charts. And this just happens to be a few things we've found good to add to the list.

Privatizing Schooling

A quote from the testimony given by the executive director of WPA on Wednesday regarding AB 697:

The basic idea of trying to privatize education by using statutes and public funds is a contradiction and an oxymoron.

The testimony goes on to explain how privatizing education is considered a good thing by conservatives. But how can education be privatized by making more laws about it, by monitoring what goes on in private homes, by making families more dependent on government, by increasing government authority, and by increasing government spending? Think about that for a minute. Do those things sound like privatization?