Friday, July 18, 2008

Marine Joke

This came from a Backwoods Home Magazine from a year ago. Check out the link; the blonde joke is a crack-up! But I thought the following one had some good Lutheran theology in it alongside the joke.

A United States Marine was attending some college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the courses had a professor who was an avowed atheist and a member of the ACLU.

One day the professor shocked the class when he came in.

He looked to the ceiling and flatly stated, “God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you exactly 15 minutes.”

The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop.

Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, “Here I am God. I’m still waiting.” It got down to the last couple of minutes when the Marine got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him; knocking him off the platform.

The professor was out cold. The Marine went back to his seat and sat there, silently. The other students were shocked and stunned and sat there looking on in silence.

The professor eventually come to, noticeably shaken, looked at the Marine and asked, “What is the matter with you? Why did you do that?”

The Marine calmly replied, “God was too busy today protecting America’s soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid things. So, He sent me.”


Once upon a time, several of us were sick. The sickest we'd been in a long time. We were resting, sitting on the couch for a whole week, aching, feverish, popping a couple of tylenol, and then two hours later some aspirin, and two hours later some more tylenol. A friend told us what we needed to do was get outside and work. She said that her family had been sick recently and they didn't have time to sit around and recuperate because there was work to do. So they did it. She said they "sweated it out" and got much better for having worked through the illness rather than resting.

It makes some sense to me, theoretically, because sweating does eliminate a lot of toxins from the body. But boy oh boy, when you're so sick you can hardly get to the kitchen for a drink of juice, the idea of going outside to shovel gobs of snow sounds ludicrous.

When a person gets older and the body shows more and more signs of the corruption of sin (weakness, lack of endurance, less flexibility, longer time to heal, etc), how does a person know when her "laziness" is just an unwillingness to work and when it's lack of ability? I think that I've been lazy recently, and I've been trying to gather my oomph to overcome it. I've been giving myself speeches. I've been trying to work harder, move faster, be organized and efficient. And I'm not managing it.

Do I need to try harder? Or would it be better to recognize that, as I'm trying to learn new things, it's going to simply take some time? And that my body cannot DO the things it could do when I was in my twenties?

You know what? Ten, fifteen, and twenty years ago, I was asking these questions about my children ... and their readiness for learning. In the kids, I could recognize that sometimes I could spend a HUGE amount of effort trying to teach them something before they were ready, or I could wait until they were physically and mentally capable of something, and then the educational task would be a breeze. Loads of homeschool moms face this: should we bash our heads against the wall trying to teach cursive or phonics or long division or how to use the potty (hopefully not in that order!) or do we admit that the child is simply not capable of this right now?
And now I'm wondering the same thing about myself -- but on the downhill slope.

"100" -- Around the House

15. A patch of DAY LILIES by the mailbox. Turns out there are lots of different kinds of day lilies; the most popular ones around here are a small yellow trumpet-shaped lily.

I'm not counting the WEIGELA as part of my 100 species. The only reason I can identify it is because it was planted recently by the previous owners, and the tag is still on it. Maybe in time, as it grows and I get used to seeing it, I'll be able to recognize weigela in other people's yards even if there is no tag to read the label!

16. I'm not sure why the RASPBERRIES are planted under the eaves, hiding next to and under the lilac. But that's where there are a few. I hope to put out a nice big long row of 'em next year, in the sun, where they belong.

17 & 18. RHUBARB is also planted under the eaves, where it doesn't get much rain. Not sure why. Maybe I can fix that in years to come.

The first spring at our old house, I thought we had rhubarb. We didn't. We had BURDOCK. Even now that I know the difference, it's really only the redness of the stem on the rhubarb that enables me to differentiate rhubarb and short burdock. If it's not in a place where you mow, once the burdock starts to grow really tall, that too helps distinguish the two. Oh, yeah, and the fact that rhubarb doesn't have burs that get stuck in the cats' coats.

19. We have four different kinds of HOSTAS planted next to the house, and many more varieties in the neighborhood. The one on the left is called "lemon lime" hosta because of the yellow and green colors. I don't know what kind of hosta is this particular blend of green & white.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Portals of Prayer

I absolutely love Day By Day We Magnify Thee, and have also benefited from using Every Day Will I Bless Thee (available from CCA). But yesterday I was invited to take a peek at this month's Portals of Prayer.

Oh. My. Goodness. Pick one up from your church narthex and use it for July! (Or click on the link at the end of the preceding paragraph.) This month's lovely devotions show us that JESUS and His work to forgive our sins is God's message throughout the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the Epistles. Wow! Not only that, but the July devotions are written on the appointed daily readings found in LSB and thus in many congregations' prayer guides. When I saw this month's daily meditations, I checked out the previous volume of "Portals of Prayer" and found June's devotions sweetly comforting too. Wow!

Swim Test

At the beach there are more rules than we're used to at a beach. My kids are accustomed to MY watching them, MY enforcing safety rules, and MY allowing or disallowing whatever activity. They're not used to there being lifeguards around to do those things. (I guess if that's all you've experienced in your swim-life, it's almost like the lifeguards are usurping Mom's place.)

So today Maggie and I are at the beach. There is a rule that kids under 14 must pass a swim test to go into the deep section of the lake, out to the raft, off the diving board. Okay, so Maggie goes out and swims and gets her little wristband and goes off happily to play in the water. Personally, I think it should be my problem if I'm dumb enough to let her go in above her head if'n she's an incompetent swimmer. But most people think it's the government's job to protect everybody, so the government has set up these rules about the swim test and have provided gobs of lifeguards at the lake.

And today I saw why.

Parent after parent questioned the lifeguards when their kids didn't pass the swim test. One little girl walked the path for the test, moving her arms in a swimming motion. Maybe she was trying to scam the lifeguards, or maybe she just is too little to know what swimming IS. Some kids couldn't even swim half the distance without stopping to stand up. When the lifeguards said "no" to giving the kids permission to go into the deep end, the parents questioned: Why won't you let my kid swim here? Uhhh, that would be because the water is 30' deep and when your kid tries to stand up because he can't swim that far, he'll drown; he can swim in the shallow sections. And the parents would get huffy about it.

I just don't get it.

And They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love

Bible class this morning was on the beginning of 1 John 3, particularly how we have the status as the children of God because we are IN the Son of God by virtue of His baptizing us.

Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. (3:1)

Melynda asked about that, and somehow the old song came up. "And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes, they'll know we are Christians by our love." And Pastor made an interesting point. THEY will know we are Christians by our love. It isn't that WE will know we are Christians by our love. When we look at ourselves, we see only sin and corruption and struggle. We will look only to Christ and what He has done. That is where we see hope and salvation. WE "know we are Christians" by the declarative Word, in baptism and in the preaching of the absolution. If WE are looking to ourselves to see our love that is oh-so-winsome to the unbelievers (or not!) then we won't have the love such that THEY can be looking at us to see love. It is when our eyes are on Jesus that others will look at us and see the love that we may not be able to see in ourselves.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"100" -- Garden Patch

These are the five veggies I planted in my tiny little space on the sunny side of the garage.



I have a hard time telling cucumber and cantaloupe apart. The seeds are nearly identical. The vines are quite similar. But I know which is which right now (before the fruit begins to be produced) because I planted the seeds from little baggies that had pictures on them.

12. There's something I just love about the smell of a TOMATO vine.

13. This LETTUCE is "black-seeded Simpson" which I know because I saw the seed packet. On the other hand, I've planted this enough times, and seen other kinds of lettuce, that maybe, just maybe, I'd be able to ID the particular kind of lettuce if I saw it elsewhere (but I'm not counting on it).

14. Cabbage leaves with a knobby base of the stem = KOHLRABI. The earwigs have been at my lettuce and kohlrabi.


Philip went out back to haul some dirt this morning and came in feeling a mite hot. I noticed yesterday that the deck seems like an oven on hot days, blowing hot air in through the window of the breakfast nook. (That aspect of the deck might be nice in March or November, but I'm not sure what to do with it in August!)

We put the thermometer out in the backyard. 110°. Oh. So it IS warm! It's only 90 in the front yard where there's shade. Y'know, in days past, the whole point of a day like today was to just simply get through it without heat stroke and without the livestock suffering from the heat. Nowadays, most of us just crank up the AC, and the main inconvenience is when we get a glimpse of the electric bill. Some of us, though, continue to get by just by splashing water on ourselves and drinking a lot and being lazy on days like today. But, hey, there's an upside: the laundry is drying super-fast on the clothesline!

Is there anybody sitting in the air-conditioning today that would like to send me money for their indulgences carbon credits???

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


... to my son-in-law.

Weird Vegetables

I was recently reading Richard Blunt and he lamented that most Americans only eat about a dozen different kinds of vegetables. So Maggie and I brainstormed what they might be. Maybe:
green beans
green pepper

Those are the kinds of veggies that are readily available at most grocers, most of the year, maybe in the freezer, and often in the produce section or as canned goods. But variety in the diet is good. It's good for our nutrition intake. It's also good for the cook's attitude so that she doesn't get bored out of her gourd. So Maggie and I brainstormed again. What else do WE eat (or should we eat)?

bok choy
brussels sprouts
summer squash
winter squash (including pumpkin)
greens (collards, turnip, kale, mustard, etc)

Then I realized that only a couple of items on this second list are available at Aldi or Super-Walmart (the grocery stores around here). But they're all available at Woodmans. My friend Tammy mentioned that she was missing the kinds of veggies she could get where she used to live; they just don't sell much variety here.

This year we joined community-supported agriculture. There are the benefits of getting good, fresh, organic foods. But one of the other attractions is that we get a variety of veggies that aren't sold in local grocery stores. And you gotta figure out what to do with them. (For instance, we got beets in our veggie-box this week. Several people sat down at the table with wrinkled noses. But you know what? Steamed beets with a slathering of little butter and salt tastes really good.) We're fine until October, but what happens when we have to start depending solely on the local grocery store for veggies again?

Looking at the seed catalog today, thinking about what kinds of shrubs and trees and raised beds we'll want to start next spring, I noticed all the weird fruits: the gooseberries and pawpaws and aronia-berries and currents. Maybe it would be better to plant those than apples. Apples are readily available. Blueberries and raspberries and Concord grapes and strawberries -- they're available but pricey. And some fruits are simply not available at all.

Lost Emails

The email addresses (and old emails that I needed to keep) haven't been moved yet from the old computer to the new computer. I've been stymied in needing to ask people questions, and not having email addresses to do it. So today I FINALLY hauled out the old computer with intent to weed out obsolete addresses and transfer the edresses to my new machine. And somehow --I'm still not sure how it happened-- rather than deleting about half the B's, I deleted from C to V.

I did manage to find a lot of email addresses in the files of old emails, and cut-n-pasted them into a Word document so as to move them the slow and painstaking way to the new computer. So at least I've got many of them. But this is not a speedy endeavor!

This is being reported so that you will have patience with me when I do not write to you. Lack of communication will not be because of lack of caring about you, but rather it will be due to utter techno-stupidity. :-)


My bike wouldn't slow down properly. Sure, I could get it stopped, but not like I should've been able to. Brakes like this were the reason we finally had to put Zippy (the Toyota) out of her slow-death misery.

So I got new brake pads and installed them myself. I was impressed with myself! The brakes improved, but still needed help.

So I lubricated the calipers. Myself. But not one single bit of improvement.

So I got online and read up on how to make the brakes pinch the wheels tighter. I found the information. I found the screw-piece on the brake cables. I adjusted. All by myself. And now my brakes work just right! Yeee haw!

Monday, July 14, 2008


Plan A: We need more exercise. Especially Maggie and Andrew.
Plan B: I don't want to buy another car.

Plan A+B: We gotta start riding bikes to town.

The one time I jogged to town, it took 32 minutes. Last week I biked to town, and it was 20 minutes. Being the old and decrepit mother, I figured that two teens (who have been, incidentally, riding their bikes for fun & exercise while I engage in the tantalizing entertainment of dishes-washing and laundry-folding)
two teens should be able to do any physical activity that I am capable of. If I could bike to town and do a few errands and be back in an hour, they'd be able to. Right?

Andrew can.

Maggie cannot.
That hour of exercise/errands today took TWO hours. Maggie was hot, red, and exhausted. She needed rest stops.

We were supposed to go visit the cardiologist this week. Due to car-sharing amongst the family, I called and postponed the appointment. We're due to go now in October for a stress-test and check-up. I see no reason that her heart defect should have anything to do with her inability to keep up on the bike; I think it's just plain being out of shape.

I think it's very important for mommies of wee ones to get them out in their buggies and strollers for daily walks in the sun and fresh air. I think mommies of toddlers and preschoolers should make it a priority to get to the playground frequently and to go for walks. Something in my gut tells me that I should not have to do that with a 13-yr-old. But apparently I do.

Can I?


(Hey, check it out! I'm figuring out how to work the camera and how to add pictures to my blog without complete step-by-step instruction by the kids every time I attempt pictures!)

With the red walls in our living room, a lot of our framed art didn't look so great in the house. Like I wrote the other day, figuring out how to make the house look nice is very taxing to my brain! So anyway, we were trying to look through what we had, figure what we especially wanted on the walls, what was expendable, and what might work. So we find this poster of Luther at the Diet of Worms; it had been rolled up in a tube for years after Gary won it as a door prize somewhere. Okay, the colors work very well in the living room. But it needed a frame. We tried a poster frame. No good. So we checked at Goodwill for a frame yesterday. Ooooh -- found a NICE frame, almost the right size, for only $5.

Turned out that my poster and backing didn't fit the glass and the frame. So I decided to just put the picture on top of what was previously in the frame. UGH! The colors were awful together. So now what? I found the touch-up paint for the living room and put that around the edges to cover the blue/purple/grays underneath. I would've rather used black, but I didn't have that available, and I'm not altogether too patient with this decorating stuff.

The second coat of paint dried overnight, and we proceeded to try to reassemble this complicated frame. Eventually we got it. Between me and Andrew, only three cuts on our fingers from the sharp edges of glass. And then we found the studs for the nails. Overall, it looks fairly decent. Not the best, but better than using Wacky Tack to hang a poster, which is more like my normal decorating modus operandi.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Jack It Up

Spent the weekend trying to accomplish projects that I've been procrastinating on. Gary and the boys worked on the deck.

When doing projects around the house, it seems good to take into account how your methods will affect the house in the long-term, as well as how repairs will need to be done later, or how the same job will be handled when it needs to be redone in a decade or two or three.

Gary's finding some frustrations with how things were fixed around here by previous owners. For example, when they put together (or repaired?) the deck in days past, they used a wide variety of screws: some deck screws and some that would rust, as well as several different varieties of screw-heads. Gary wants ONE kind of screw so that he won't have to keep hauling out different screw-drivers when he makes repairs someday.

Today's stunner was when they found that one of the posts/pylons holding up the deck wasn't attached to the joists that it was supposed to be attached to. When the deck was initially built, they just kinda sorta missed when they put in the bolts. So THAT's why the deck sagged there.

Philip's been digging out mud from underneath the deck. (Some previous owners put down non-porous plastic under the deck too. Then critters dug and threw dirt on top of the tarp. That stuff is muddddddY!) Today Gary and Paul did some more digging to clean up the wetness underneath the deck. And that's when the found the deck not attached to the supports.

So Gary and Paul came up with a plan. They would use the jack from the car to lift the deck back up to the height it was supposed to be. They dug down a little further, and then applied the jack near the place it had become detached. A little cranking, and it was in the right place, ready to be re-attached.

We are so proud of these resourceful guys! Like Gary said, he didn't expect to be able to fix this unless we paid somebody thousands of dollars to do it. We'd figured we'd just live with the deck being saggy. The guys sure are working hard and throwing a lot of physical labor into the spiffing-of-the-deck. But they're doing a better job of it than I'd expect of somebody who was just doing it for the money and didn't have to live with the long-term ramifications of how the repairs are accomplished.