Saturday, August 16, 2008

"100" -- Rehashing

Here's a taller picture of burdock (#17) and also a picture of the flowers. I didn't know they were purple. I usually see them once they're dried and deeply entangled in the cats' fur.

Ragweed (#9) getting bigger and making lots of pollen now.

The bottom photo better shows the shape of grape leaves (#49).


If it weren't for the blogs of a few friends who are hyped over the Olympics, I don't think I'd even know they were going on. Sixteen years ago, though, we cared. The kids were younger. My aunt Mary gave us a package of activities for the kids to compete with: baseball and lightweight horseshoes and plastic golf clubs. It was fun.

Long after most of the presents had gone to Plastic-Toy Heaven, those horseshoes still hung in the garage. Every time I got out the ladder, or when a younger child had to try out the horseshoe-tossing, I would see those blue and red horseshoes, and fondly thank God for Mom's sister.

A Big, Big Hole

We moved gravel today. And dirt. And sand. We thought the pool that had been here was about 4' deep. Well, when the pool had drained itself through the gashes in the liner, we discovered that there was a deep spot for jumping (diving?). That was one deeeeep hole. Furthermore, there was also a LOT of gravel around the pool so as to prevent huge mud puddles from developing. Well, Gary got to a point in his deck-sanding and -staining that he finally wanted that hole filled in. So with shovels and wheelbarrows, we transferred rocks and bricks and old broken concrete pieces into the hole, and we packed gravel and dirt and sand in around the layers of rocks. The hole is nowhere near as full as it should be, but it's lots better. The backyard also looks a little neater, what with so many of those rock piles now hidden and serving as fill.

Gary thinks he's going to have to rent a Bobcat. We moved loads of gravel, but some of it is just so pounded into the soil that it's not going to be very nice about coming loose with garden forks and human-powered shovels. Looking forward to finally undoing the mess that was once a pool into some nice lawn or garden or both. It's been a long haul so far, but after today it seems like we might be halfway.


Five pizzas. Five pizzas, each as big as a cookie sheet.
Six people for supper.

With the kids going to a barbecue/swimming party this afternoon, and with Gary having a big project going outdoors today, I figured I could make plenty of pizza for supper last night and have some leftovers for three of us today. Do you know how much pizza was left over?

I guess we'll eat pbj's for lunch.

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Cross

Oh my goodness! Running errands this afternoon, I stopped by church just to peek into the nave and see the change. Late last winter, a corpus was ordered as a gift to the church. It was finally finished in July. Last Wednesday, the cross was missing from the chancel because it was in the shop, having the corpus added. Dedication is this Sunday, but I didn't want to wait to see it. Oh, it is so beautiful! I can't believe how different it makes the chancel look. The cross is absolutely breath-taking!

(And for the first person who says, "Why didn't you show us a picture," well, I didn't take a camera with me to town to buy a part for the van. So have a little patience, okay?)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"100" -- Neighbors' Gardens

53. There's a little bit of DUSTY MILLER in the center of this planter.

54. These MARIGOLDS are the smaller kind. I'm not too fond of marigolds, but I suspect that if I manage to pull of some garden next year, I should plant some, to keep bunnies away. Although Athena-the-Huntress really is doing a bang-up job this summer!

55. The PETUNIAS are pink and white. I didn't plant any petunias this year because all I could find were the pink ones; I just love the brightly colored red and purple ones.

56. This picture was from the old house, but there's plenty of both around our new neighborhood too. The shrub in the background is FORSYTHIA, well past its early-spring bloom-time.

57. The SEDUM in the foreground flowers in fall, but the buds of what will become the pink flowers are already forming. I don't know why, but there's something I really like about succulents and their fat little leaves. This variety is called "Autumn Joy" sedum and is one of the most popular varieties for planting around homes or in borders.

58. We weren't sure what to plant by the lamp-post where we took out a very prickly and overgrown tree. Not getting started until way too late, and not knowing that SNAPDRAGONS take quite a while to grow when seeded directly into the soil, we didn't have any blooms until the last week of July. But it's starting to look quite cute out there in that little patch. And Jane tells me that her snapdragons come back year after year, so I have hopes of there being flowers next May or June, even if I don't get around to figuring out where I want daisies and other day-brighteners.


The weather has been awesome the last two weeks. (At least, it has for people! Not so much for tomatoes, corn, and green beans.) Highs have been in the high-70s, and lows during the night in the high-50s. That's mighty comfortable for sleeping. And the days have not been the hot, miserable, muggy days you expect from August. Maggie asked a few days ago if summer is done. I doubt it; I expect some days yet in the 90s. And my tomatoes need it. But I won't be surprised if they don't materialize. Even the Chicago Tribune, not exactly a right-leaning newspaper, reports how cool things have been this entire decade.

Tell me again about global warming?....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Playground Risks

Today on his show, Charlie Sykes brought up playground safety. As if playgrounds haven't been simplified enough already in an attempt to "keep children safe," now there are complaints about the black rubber matting under the playgrounds being too hot ... and harming children. There's a really fantastic article by David Hinz that talks about playgrounds, and personal responsibility, and the bumps and bruises that come with kidhood.

So on Charlie's show today, discussion ensued about how this epidemic of obesity in kids has probably been caused in part by Keeping Kids Safe. It is "safe" for them to sit on the couch and eat potato chips and watch tv or play with their Gameboy. But it's not safe. Not in the long run. Kid need the physical exercise. But they also need the chance to take risks, to learn from their mistakes, to test their strength. Kids who are kept perpetually "safe" do not grow and develop into healthy adults.

There was one different thought that crossed my mind as I was listening to all this debate on Charlie's show while doing errands this morning. Kids love video games. They love them in a way that many middle-agers and senior citizens find hard to comprehend. What's the thrill? What do you find enjoyable about those video games? And you know what the answer from the kids usually is? It's something to master. It's a challenge. There is excitement in conquering the next level.

Video games are about the only place we let kids take risks anymore. But because they still NEED the risks and the excitement and the chance to conquer, they're now finding it in cyber-ways instead of in reality. And that's sad.

What's more damaging to a kid? Some bumps, bruises, cuts, and maybe even a broken arm from playing on a real playground? Or the personality changes that result from being kept safe-safe-safe all the time, and having to find excitement on a screen instead of in the real world?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Global Warming

A friend posted a You-Tube video by Minnesotans for Global Warming. It's not only funny, but makes some good points. However, what is even better is their website which is full of pertinent information regarding what's going on with the weather and the politics surrounding it.

I love the quote from Congressman Bachmann regarding the refusal of the Democrats to open up more areas of the U.S. for drilling for oil: "It's like having a room full of hungry children and a pantry full of food with a lock on it." Go check out the M4GW website!

"100" -- More Eat-It (wild)

51. I have seen recipes for stir-frying PURSLANE or making it into pesto or putting it into salads. But I don't have too much of it around here. Well, a friend asked me to keep an eye on his garden while he was gone and to please keep his green beans picked. So we have plenty of beans to enjoy right now. He also warned me that his garden was full of pigweed, and that he'd started weeding but still had a long way to go. When I got there for my first batch of green beans, I discovered his "pigweed" was what I call purslane and which is the best plant-source of Omega 3's. So when I went back for my second round of bean-pickin', I gathered some of the greens too. The purslane pesto isn't as delicious as basil pesto or parsley pesto. But it's decent. The raw leaves, however, have a very nice, tangy, "fresh" taste to them. A few could really brighten up a lettuce salad. When Andrew reluctantly tried some, his eyes lit up and he said, "Hey, that's actually good!"

52. LAMB'S QUARTER is another weed, and I have plenty of it around here. Tasting them raw, I like its flavor better than the purslane. Plenty of pictures of lamb's quarter help a person be sure of what's he gathering before he begins to cook it and learn more about the plant in various stages of growth and how to use it for food. Jackie Clay had a whole article on greens not too long ago, including purslane and pigweed and lambs quarter.

I think it should go without saying, but just in case ...
NEVER eat plants you can't identify with certainty.
And NEVER eat plants that you've poisoned. Andrew was at the park one time and picked some white clover flowers, popped them into his mouth, and quickly spat them out. He said they tasted like a bag of chemical fertilizer. Well, yeah, that's what most people do to their lawns, and the city does the same thing to the park grass.
Also avoid eating these greens/weeds if there is a lot of chemical use in nearby soils that could be contaminating your plants. Using pesticides or herbicides on plants where you eat the fruit doesn't seem as dangerous as eating the leaves of plants that have been poisoned chemically treated.
Also remember that these weeds (not unlike spinach) tend to be so high in some nutrients when eaten raw that it is usually considered best to consume them only once a week.

Monday, August 11, 2008

"100" -- Poison Ivy

I'm not putting poison ivy on my list of species I can identify, because I'm miserable at identifying it. I've tried and tried to learn, but can't.

Tonight I was on a quest (a ten-year-old quest!) to identify a particular tree which I'd long ago narrowed down to the poplar genus, that is, either a quaking aspen or a cottonwood of some sort. While hunting, I stumbled upon a website that does the best job of showing poison ivy, explaining in words and pictures what it is, and how it varies throughout the year. I'm going to need to remember this site, and I thought somebody else might benefit too. Most guidance on recognizing poison ivy falls woefully short, telling us only "leaves of three, let it be." Well, then I'd avoid clovers and strawberries and all sorts of other good things. So I need lots more help in the ID dept, and this website is a step in the right direction!

"100" -- Eat It (Wild)

47. There are lots of people growing gardens around here with PEPPERS in them. But I can't very well go bopping into neighbors' yards with my camera. So when I saw this ornamental pepper plant at the library, I snapped a picture of it.

48. ELDER can be used for all sorts of things. There are medicinal uses, but I prefer just making jelly from the berries. Or if you happen to be a teenage boy, you might need to try to make yourself an elder-wand from the woody part of the shrub. But you would find the middle of the wood so soft as to be almost entirely useless as a wand or a stick. However, you would also discover the hollow core which would be the perfect place to put thestral hair...

49. A couple of years ago we were hiking up near Baraboo with some good friends. I'd been tending GRAPE vines in my backyard for years, pruning, watering, weeding, harvesting, and then jelly-making. Out hiking, in early October, we ran across a wild grape vine. I stopped Maggie and asked her identify the plant. She knew. Of course! It was grapes. She knew the leaves, the vines, the tendrils, and the fruit. So we picked a couple of grapes, popped them into our mouths, and kept on going. Just then, Kathy came around the bend in the trail and saw us eating something from the wild. She was sure we were going to die!!! I kept trying to point out to her that I wasn't eating something unknown. It was grape. I knew grape vines! But she wasn't convinced, and she wasn't about to let her daughter even think about eating one of those berries from the wild. Which is, granted, a good policy. You never never never never never eat what you don't know for sure is safe. (Willy Whitefeather tells how to figure out what is safe and what isn't if you're stuck in the wild and need food. But it's a procedure that will take at least several hours, and possibly more than a day.) I remember thinking that day that I must've learned something from those many years of tending my berries and vines. I may not know too much about gardening, but I do know the canes and vines I worked with; grape leaves (and the whole plant) is so distinctive that I can't imagine not recognizing it.

50. This is hard to find in the roadside grasses when it's first coming up in spring. I could never figure out how people knew where to hunt for asparagus along country roads. Every May we used to see people wading through knee-high grasses, with their knives, hunting for those little spears of ASPARAGUS popping up down by their ankles. But once I learned to recognize asparagus in summer and fall, it was easy to understand how people could make note of the location, and show up the following spring with their buckets and knives to nab some tasty veggies for dinner. The cornfield that's a half-mile from here has a lovely, lush row of asparagus dividing it from the soybeans in the next field. It looks like it's growing wild, and it looks like the land-owners probably don't bother with that patch. And I'm coveting it.... But I will be a good girl and plant my own, and in the meantime take any surplus asparagus that anybody at church wants to pass out!

School Starting???

Sleeping Beauty is still sleeping back in her bedroom. It's nearly 9:00. She has been awaking sometime between 9:00 and 10:00 most mornings.

Suddenly this morning, I realized that next week is the last week before school starts. Now, that wouldn't have used to mean anything to me. We always homeschooled year-round. The whole concept of "starting school" seemed very foreign to me. Don't people ALWAYS learn and read and discuss and explore??? But pitifully, that's not how things have been for us recently. Unlike the older set o' kids, the youngest two are not intrepid learners and insatiable readers and are not consumed with curiosity about learning learning learning! With the move, and the adjustments, and my academic-attention focused on Paul's math for his CLEP test, there just hasn't been too much academic-attention on the two youngest kids. So we need to start something. Sometime.

I just figured we'd "start school" (whatever that will look like) when the school at church started. After all, I have this vague idea in my mind that I want to go to Matins every day, and I want to take the kids to Matins every day, and we need exercise so we will bike there. But that means we need to hop on the bikes and be on our way at 7:00 or 7:10 (depending on the endurance of Sleeping Beauty's bike-legs). And if we go to chapel daily, that'll be from 2:30 to 3:45, allowing for commute-time (again, depending on Someone's speed and endurance on her bicycle). Of course, biking 60 miles a week (to and from prayers) would be a good good plan for PE.

BUT (!!!) it would mean being out of bed, dressed, and moving long before we two females usually begin to bat our little eyelashes in some vague form of wakefulness that may have some resemblance to "getting up."

And next week is the last week to sleep in. Ohhhhhhhhhh.....

(And you know what ELSE this means? Getting going by 7:00 would mean going to bed earlier. Which would mean not goofing off on the computer at 11 p.m. AND it would mean that I'm going to have another level of readjustment on the whole eating-in-the-evening thing, and digesting before crawling into bed. The adjustment to mealtime is going to be at least as big as the adjustment to bedtime. But getting up in the morning will be good for us. Yes, it will. Sure, it will. Of course, it will. Why don't I believe that???)


Last night Gary watched an Audrey Hepburn movie with Cary Grant in it too. He insisted that I watch it too. It was excellent! I can't say much about it without spoiling the plot full of twists. But it was a superb mix of comedy and romance and suspense.

(The only warning would be that the movie does show some people who had been murdered. However, the murders are not shown on-screen, and the gore-level is nothing compared to what's in movies today.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Catching Up

Had planned to go visit my folks at the end of last week. Vehicle problems interfered. While the van was in the shop and I was grounded, we did some housecleaning. First time since we've lived here that the whole ground-floor has been cleaned all at the same time! That's an accomplishment!

When we rode our bikes to town to fetch back the van from the repair shop, Maggie went too and didn't get worn out and exhausted. Good for her!

Cucumbers seemed to be going wild, so I decided I'd make a small jar of gherkins, planning to intercept those veggies before we had more than I could handle. When we went out to pick 'em, though, there seemed to be far fewer cukes than last time I looked. Hmmm. There are currently three small jars of pickles beginning to lacto-ferment. While picking cukes, I noticed that the melon vines are finally starting to make tiny fruit instead of just producing flowers.

Philip picked plums off the plum tree today, but (like the cherry tree) it is overgrown and most of the good fruit is unreachable. These trees are going to require serious pruning if they're going to provide fruit for us instead of just for the birds.

Drove to Chicago yesterday to pick up some friends who were returning from a bus tour. The drive down was outright funny in how we kept driving through the same storm front. As soon as we drove through it, we'd head south, and it would pass over us again. And then we'd head east, and drive through it again. But the drive back allowed for a very nice chatty visit.

Sheets and towels on the clothesline today. Mmmm. They smell so good!

Gary has the steps done on the deck. Right now he can't go too much further until he gets the support-pylons in place for the "new" part of the deck (the part that used to be there before a "bite" was taken out when the pool was installed). He's still sanding boards, though, and doing some digging, and making some progress. It just keeps looking nicer all the time.

The mower broke a couple of weeks ago. The weather has been dry enough that the grass didn't need mowing. But the ragweed and the lamb's-quarter was starting to get mighty tall. The new lawnmower part arrived in Saturday's mail. One of the guys installed it. And Philip spent yesterday and today mowing. Now we look all neat and clean and orderly and proper again.

I really really would like to get the basement cleaned this week, and the rest of the unpacking (from moving) finished. But the weather has been SO utterly beautiful, I hate to hole-up in the basement. I should, though. It'll feel good and make a fresh before-school start to get the unpacking finally crossed off the to-do list.

The excitement for my week has been a conversation on my homeschool email list where I think I finally may have found the missing puzzle piece for something I've been wondering about for many years. I'd love to blog about it, but there's just too much spinning around in my mind about what classical education is, and what it isn't, and how it's sometimes misrepresented. Suffice it to say (for now) that it's very encouraging to me to realize what it is that's been troubling me for so long.

Romans 10:6-9

But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way,
"Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'"
(that is, to bring Christ down from above)
or "'Who will descend into the abyss?'"
(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
But what does it say?
"The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart"
(that is, the word of faith which we preach):
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus
and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved.

Did you notice the part at the end? GOD has raised Him from the dead.
What was the question earlier? WHO can bring Christ up from the dead?

The righteousness of faith recognizes that we did not cause Christ to leave His heavenly throne and become incarnate. The righteousness of faith recognizes that we are not the cause of Christ's resurrection. All we do is confess it. All we do is to say and believe


[The Lord] said to the sea, "This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!" Job 39:11

Never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth. Genesis 9:11

Pretend for a moment with me. Pretend that there is actually some bit of science somewhere that is consistent with the claims of the global-warming crowd.

How can any Christian worry that the ice-caps are going to melt and flood the world? God said it can't happen. Even IF the pseudo-scientists had some evidence to back up their beliefs, we still know it would never be able to actually pan out. You hear about those poor kids getting scared to death from the propaganda at school, and having nightmares, but yet it ain't gonna happen.


For the last couple of weeks, I've been using Palmolive exclusively as the dish soap. And my hands are not chapped. They are not bleeding. They are healthy.

I have tried all sorts of different dish soaps, "green" ones and healthy ones and cheap ones and expensive ones. With different soaps I could sometimes see a difference in how bad the rashes were. But they never actually healed. It never got that much better, to be healed.

And now I'm washing dishes without rubber gloves and still my hands are fine. This is amazing!