Saturday, February 23, 2008


My friend Elephant's Child has been writing recently about her experiences fleeing leaving Africa and coming back to live in the States. In one of her posts this week on the topic, she stated: Gradually it dawned on us that we hadn't even truly been aware of the intensity of strain we'd been under until now, now that it was gone. Still, it was almost harder now. Tears came at strange times.

It reminded me of a much smaller experience many moms have had. One of the kids is injured. Mom does all the right things: pressure on the bleeding cut, ice-pack to reduce swelling, getting the kid to ER, telling the story repeatedly to nurses and doctors, comforting the frightened child, going home with the instructions to watch for signs of infection. Mom does what needs doing. She holds up. She manages to do what needs to be done for those who depend on her.

And then, the next day, she accidentally breaks a glass, or one of the kids spills a quart of milk, and Mom loses it. She falls to pieces. Somebody tries to comfort her that it's just a little accident, that it's easily mended, that it's gonna be okay. And that only makes it worse, because she knows it just a little accident and that she shouldn't be crying or losing her temper or whatever. But it's not the broken glass or spilled milk, it's the incident of the previous day that's getting to her.

I suppose it's good to be able to hold up during the crisis, even if a person falls apart later. But it's pretty unexplainable when it appears that such little difficulties can take somebody down when they've managed to make it through so many bigger problems.

Dry Roads

Gary has been working for four weeks. Last night, during his commute home, was the first time I wasn't worried about the drive. Such a nice relief!

Up until yesterday I think I'd jogged three times in 2008. Between weather, being out of town, weather, illness, weather, busyness with appointments due to the upcoming move, and a little bad weather [What? Like, you see a theme here???] it's been nearly impossible to get my daily sunbath and exercise. But yesterday I forced myself, and today I'm going out there again. Maybe it will become a habit again. I have to jog on the county highway now; the parking lot (where I usually jog in circles) is still an ice rink, and the town roads aren't exactly cleared either. But -- wooohooo! -- a weekend of above-freezing temperatures is predicted!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mixed Feelings

While I was in town this afternoon, somebody came and put up a sign at church. There's a fund-raising breakfast at the fire department this Sunday morning.

Now, on the one hand, people could come to church, see the sign, and go to the Fire & Rescue fund-raiser after church instead of going to one of the restaurant buffets. And yet, it seems wrong somehow that there's a sign at the church entrance, advertising something else to do on Sunday morning, somewhere else to be.

It reminds me of the annual AAL baseball outings, always on a Sunday morning, always gathering to get on the bus to head off to the big city for the major league game at the same time Service is scheduled to start. It boggles the mind that we're asked to advertise "church activities" that conflict with the Divine Service.

At least this Sunday's benefit is not as bad as when the local Methodist church runs their fund-raisers on Sunday mornings. It always shocks me to hear that they're serving breakfast on Palm Sunday. It's Holy Week! And these church-folks can't find anything better to do at 9:00 on Palm Sunday morning than to flip pancakes? At least the benefit for the Fire Dept is a secular event that is being run (presumably) by non-Christians, and the Christians are gobbling the yummies before or after church.

Unfair Tax Cuts

I'm tempted to cut-n-paste the whole article and put it here, because I know most people don't click on links in blog-posts. But this one you need to read. It's not long. It's not heavy to ponder -- it's just a little story about some guys in a bar. And it illustrates those unfair tax cuts to the rich guys. Go read the little story at Scott's blog.

John 18:8-9

The scene is the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of Jesus' betrayal. The big crowd of soldiers have come out to arrest Him.
Jesus answered, "I have told you that I AM. Therefore if you seek Me, let these go their way," that the saying might be fulfilled which He spoke, "Of those whom You gave Me I lost none."

In the last year, I have frequently been confused by "that the saying might be fulfilled." Today in Bible class we ran across another one. I couldn't figure out WHY the soldiers' letting the disciples go would have anything to do with Jesus' not losing them. I mean, in the High Priestly Prayer when Jesus said that God would allow none of the disciples to be lost (except Judas), He was talking about their faith. But when Jesus told the soldiers to let the disciples go free, that was a temporal matter, a matter of whether or not the disciples were getting the handcuffs. I couldn't figure out why the lack of the disciples' arrest would fulfill the saying.

After I had explained my question to Pastor several different ways, he suddenly understood what I was asking and had an answer. If the disciples had NOT been let go by the soldiers, if they had been dragged along with Jesus and put on trial, if they had been beaten, they could not have borne it. They would have been destroyed. They could not have endured it. They would have been lost. But Jesus could not allow them to be lost, so He could not allow them to be tested beyond what they were able. So they were let go ...

that the saying might be fulfilled.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

American Idol

Why do so many contestants say they're doing this "for my kid"? Does it really benefit the kid for Mom or Dad to go to Hollywood, leave munchkins with extended family, and not see the son or daughter?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Obama's Ad

In anticipation of yesterday's primary, we were treated repeatedly to one of Barak Obama's ads on tv. One of the class-warfare statements he threw out there in the ad was that CEO's make more in 10 minutes than your average Joe makes in a whole year.

Being mathematically inclined, my instant reaction was "Good grief! That is so outlandish. If anybody did the math, this would be shown to be a completely goofy claim."

Well, yesterday and today, two of my favorite talk-radio guys (Mark and Charlie) did the math. (If you're interested, it pans out to a CEO earning somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 billion dollars per year.) Callers wondered why Obama didn't complain about movie stars or sports heroes who earn more in 10 minutes than the average worker earns in a year.

But the funny one was the comment:
"Hi, I'm Barak Obama. And I spent more on this 30-second commercial to convince you to vote for me than you earn in a year."

Pretty Peppers

Gumbo for dinner today.

I don't know what's up with pepper prices, but the red peppers were a dime cheaper than the green this week, and the yellow peppers were only a dime higher than the green. (For a few of you twenty-somethings who pay no heed to pepper prices, the ripe ones are usually 50-100% more than green.)

I thought the skillet full of veggies was SO pretty. Every time I walked over to the stove to stir them, I was floored by the colors of the onion, celery, green peppers, and red pepper. Little things like this remind me of Edith Schaeffer's Hidden Art.


For several years I've been struggling with a rash on a few fingers that has been slowly getting worse, to the point of being chapped and bleeding. I tried wearing rubber gloves instead of putting my hands in the dishwater, but eventually that wasn't doing enough and the latex itself proved to be an irritant. I tried lotions, and it didn't help much. I even tried using Melaleuca dish soap. Although it helped, it didn't help enough. I tried making my own lye soap for showering, and that helped too, even though the slow downward slide of itchiness and scabs continued.

This December I started using Burt's Bees Thoroughly Therapeutic Hand Creme. In January Jane gave me some Melaleuca Renew skin therapy lotion. (Somebody here had come home from the hospital once with a small tube of Renew, and it was awesome stuff!) Those lotions have helped a lot.

But last month I found something that has made the biggest difference -- using a shampoo with no lauryl or laureth sulfates. That organic shampoo cost a fortune at the health food store, but it's the main thing that has my hands on the road to healing!

I'm hoping that -- like Katie -- I'll also see some significant improvement once I have a dishwasher. :-)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


I hate gambling. I hate it. I hate trying to decide when is the time "to hold up, when to fold up, when to walk away, when to run." I don't like risk, even with the stock market or IRA money-market funds.

When we started looking for a house, the interest rates were low -- 5.625%. By the time we found the house, made the offer, and filled out the formal loan applications, interest rates had gone up to 6.125%. The mortgage officer (and we) figured the rate would surely come down a bit again. But the next day the rates went to 6.25%. The next business day (today) they're up another 1/8. Each 0.125% means another $18/month on the mortgage. So we have to decide when to lock in the rates: now before they go higher? Or if we lock in today's rates, will they just go down tomorrow and we'll kick ourselves for not waiting another day or two?

I HATE gambling!

But we have fuel...

I realize it's cold outside, but c'mon, when the thermostat is set at 68, it seems like it should be a little warmer than 62 in the warmest part of the house.

I went to drop off the van today for an alignment after the accident, then voted. Came home to start dinner and a couple of batches of bread. Then I discovered the oven doesn't work. It's not a fuel shortage: the stove and broiler work. This pushed back dinner several hours. The repairman tells me it'll be $150 to fix it. So do we fix a stove? If we don't, we can't very well try to sell it. While the boys and I were trying to figure out some do-it-yourself information on the internet, I managed to burn the carrots for the dinner that was finally almost ready in the late afternoon. Shoot.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Maggie is DYIN' to start packing things into boxes. Multiple times a day, "Can we start packing now?" Paul brought home flattened boxes from work early last week. I didn't get packing tape to build boxes until Saturday. So then Maggie was rarin' to go. But yesterday we had flooding in the basement. I wasn't about to start taking things off shelves (that is, up off the floor) and start putting them into boxes which would then rest on a wet floor.

So now the floor in the basement is dry. (Everything outdoors is too frozen to have running water today.) And now I'm being pressed again to start the packing. And here, I have these silly notions about taking care of mortgage applications and home-owner's insurance and arranging telephone service. We don't seem to see eye-to-eye on what's the priority in this moving venture.

Clean Stove Top

Visiting Laura last week, we got to talking about her new electric stove and the pros and cons of different stove tops. Hers is electric, I currently have propane gas, and next month I'll have natural gas.

As we were talking, I got to ranting about the salesmen who were giving me the pitch about sealed burners being so easy to clean. When I previously had sealed burners, it was the hardest-to-clean stove I ever worked with. Every time the potatoes boiled over, every time something spilled while I was cooking, it would burn on. No matter how much scrubbing, no matter how much chemical, no matter how much elbow grease, no matter how quickly you attacked the spill, the process of cooking the food caused the spill to bake onto the stove top. It drove me nuts.

The next time we needed a stove, I refused to consider anything with sealed burners. We ended up getting a much cheaper appliance. Apparently the unsealed burners are less desirable. The salesmen told me how much harder it is to clean the stove when the burners aren't sealed. Poppycock. The spillovers will spill down the hole, under the cook-top, onto the part of the stove where the burners are attached to the gas. As long as that part is nicely sealed, it's a breeze to wipe it up. Nothing there burns on! Of course, I may not clean underneath the stove-top as frequently as I should. It may get cleaned underneath only a couple of times a year (unless there's a gloriously messy spillover) but the stove-top stays nice, and the part where the food goes stays nice.

I think the stove in the new house has sealed burners. Bummers. But, hey, it's a black stove, so whatever burned-on messes I have won't glare as badly as they do on a white stove-top.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Age of Empires

I do not approve of video games. I do not approve of television. (Of course, my aversion to letting the kids watch tv is more of a testimony to how much I have been addicted to it. We tend to dislike most in others what are our own glaring weaknesses.)

Nevertheless, we have games that the kids play on the computer. We watch tv. I struggle all the time with "how much?" and "what kind?" and "Is this okay?" and whether I'm overly micro-managing those things.

When Maggie was first learning to read and spell, she really blossomed when we bought one of those Leapfrog games. Here she was, learning in a way that seemed to play on her strengths, and I was (in a way) not okay with it because it involved a computer.

The boys love playing Age of Empires. And Age of Kings. And Age of Mythology.

And do you know what those kids have had the audacity to do? LEARN SOMETHING from these video games! Can you believe that? When we've been doing our geography lessons and our vocabulary, they keep pointing out to me that the reason they know this or that factoid is because they learned it from Age of Kings.

Well, how d'ya like that? I don't approve of those games, and yet my children go and get something beneficial from them anyhow. Harrumph!

Friction Experiments

Kids do science experiments for their schoolwork that simulate no-friction or low-friction. Today the grown-ups get to play with concepts of no-friction.

At 7:00, the deacon at my daughter's church called to get her correct phone number. They're canceling church. It's not the roads so much as it is the parking lot. The pastor's and deacon's cars -- when stopped and parked -- were still sliding across the parking lot. So much for friction between the tires and the asphalt! The rain on top of our snow and the melting have made quite things quite slick. Combine that with the freezing that will be coming later in the day, and it's going to be bad this evening when Philip is due to come home from work.

There's over 2" of water out behind the van. It's the low spot of the driveway that passes in front of church, and the piles of snow & ice prevent the rainwater from going further downhill. I moved the van out of the deep puddles to the spot where Philip's car had been parked earlier, and I managed not to hit our car that was parked in the neighboring spots.

When Gary went over to church this morning, he only hit the ground (and the puddles) once. But that was when he was already aware of how slick it was, and he was walking shuffling with extreme caution.

The church parking lot isn't on toooo much of a slant, but there's a definite incline down to the parking lot from the road. Because of that (in addition to people being able to make it safely from their cars into the church building) the elders have chosen to notify people of the situation, which probably means our family will be the only ones at church today.

When I awoke early this morning, I decided to do the week's grocery shopping before church this morning, anticipating being snowed in later today and tomorrow. I guess I'll stay home and be creative about using up the groceries that are here and making do without potatoes and apples and flour. I don't want to do my own friction experiments with my vehicles.


One of the couples at church had a big party last night: combined birthdays and his retirement. I shared howdies with lots of people, but spent most of the time conversing with six nice nice couples. It was a really enjoyable time.

But one thing struck me yet again. What do I do with my time? A few people were chatting about skiing. Downhill or cross-country? Why one is better than the other. Then someone asked me, "Do you do cross-country?" No. "Oh, but you should. It's so beautiful. It's such good exercise. You'd love it." But WHEN?

After mulling that over for 12 hours, I whined at Gary about what I'm doing, and how I'm doing it wrong, how I must be wasting my time that I don't engage in hobbies and sports and those nice "family activities" that we should do with the kids. I recalled the jealousy I felt last summer when I'd be doing my paper route, and see all sorts of people out in their yards, grilling, drinking margueritas, socializing with their company. For the first time in four months, this week I got together with my friends for a few hours for the kids to play and the moms to talk.

I'd like to say that I'm busy homeschooling and spending all this quality time with my children, but the reality is that I don't spend as many hours on that as I ought. I wonder if I waste too much time on the computer, but it's usually done in 10-minute snatches while the bread is kneading or the meat is browning, so a lot of my computer time-wasting is slipped into small time-slots that would not be usable for a hobby or a sport.

Gary says that the things that gobble up my time are church and food. The friends who have more time for skiing and snowmobiling and baseball are (for the most part) friends who are willing to miss church on Sundays now and then, and who never come to midweek services or Bible class. As for food, I do spend hours daily on cooking from scratch. Gary reminds me that most of the people in America are willing to do take-out pizza, take-out Chinese, take-out Subways, and other fast food. As he talks to kids in his confirmation class, he finds that they don't often sit down for a family meal; food is just something to grab (from McDonalds or from the insta-food section of the grocery store) and eat "on the way" to wherever you're going.

So I guess my "hobbies" are making real dinners and going to church. Why am I unsatisfied with that, and want to be able to bowl and ski and sew and play music and all those other fun things?