Saturday, October 04, 2008


We have been eating lots of vegetables from our CSA. With a freezer full of beef, a stockpile of flour and yeast, and weekly boxes of fresh veggies arriving, I haven't been doing much routine grocery shopping. This past week I was running low on several staples and hit up the store. Plums looked good and were cheap. I also bought the first bunch of bananas we'd had in several weeks.

Ohhhhh, fruit! I love fruit! I had forgotten how sweet and wonderful it is!

We were given a half bushel of awesome Macintoshes. We started with one of Mom's apple pies, and then a regular apple pie. We managed the next day to make a gallon of applesauce but, because the virus had a hold on me and Maggie, we didn't manage to can it or freeze it. That's okay: with the germies invading throats here, ready-to-eat applesauce in the fridge is providing some great (and easy-to-swallow) nutrition. We also made a strudel,

partially in deference to the word "strudel" being used so frequently in Maggie's Hogan's Heroes episodes, and partially because it's been many years since I made one, and I didn't figure the younger kids knew what a strudel was.

Today Philip was in need of an Apple Betty and asked for a recipe. Recipe??? For Apple Betty? Uhhhh.... I should probably figure that out. I tried to tell him the general concept that I carry around in my head for Apple Betty. But that is definitely one of my wing-it, do-it-by-feel sorta recipes.

Maggie loved the apple strudel. She wants to have it again. It's not like it's super-hard or anything. But after having made the strudels with Andrew, I am realizing again just why we have the cliche "Easy as Pie." The pie and the Betty are so much easier than the strudel. It's probably been a decade since I made the last strudel, and it may well be another decade before Maggie tastes it again. Isn't it a shame how much abuse she must endure?

Laundry Chute

I have loved having a laundry chute in the new house. No carrying laundry baskets up and down the stairs. Just drop the dirty clothes down the chute, and they magically appear in the laundry room. Living in the lap of luxury!

But with our first round of doozy-colds since we moved, I discovered a downside. There used to be a pile of dirty laundry upstairs, full of t-shirts and socks and jammies that are soft. Lots of times we could blow noses on those clothes that were already in need of laundering -- assuming of course they weren't so dirty that you didn't want 'em near your face. But now we don't have those t-shirts and jammies available. So today, when I folded the load of whites, I found NINETEEN cotton hankies. Nineteen. No wonder I'm getting sore from excessive nose-blowing.

A Female Vice-President

Pr Peperkorn linked to an article by Mollie Ziegler Hemingway (just can't get used to these young folks' married names ... including my daughters' ... but I'm sure I'll get the married names down pat quicker than the new hymnal ... ah, but that's another topic altogether).

Mollie makes excellent points about the double standard. Evangelicals are "supposed to be" upset about having a female vice-president because of the order of creation, and yet, who got upset about Nancy Pelosi as third-in-line? (Well, besides the people who object to her stance on the issues?) The media is hypocritically pointing out how Sarah Palin should be at home with her children, hoping people like me (who think she should be at home with her children) will be repulsed enough to refuse to vote, or to vote for Obama.

Now, really, how can they live with themselves? They're speaking publicly about how terrible it is that Sarah Palin is "neglecting her children" when THEY are the ones setting up daycare centers in corporate workplaces, and advocating killing children who are "inconvenient," and working for tax policies which force many women to feel that they must contribute to the family's income, and defending no-fault-divorce which has put many women in the position of having to provide for children after a man runs off. The typical woman journalist or politician has no right to question Sarah Palin. Now, I do. But I'm voting for her anyway.

I think that, sometime within the next 60-100 years, we will look back at history, and see this as a turning point in what happens to families. I think the outpouring of conservative support for Palin will make a significant change in how our country sees stay-at-home moms and the importance of committing ourselves to our children's needs (quantity-time, not "quality time"). The liberals have already jettisoned those values, but with Palin's nomination (even if she is not elected) I think the conservatives have put themselves in a position of defending the goodness & rightness of women being in the workplace instead of with their children. How many conservatives have been saying in the last month that it doesn't matter whether it's the mom or the dad staying home with the kids? How many conservatives have been saying in the last month that we women CAN "have it all"? How many conservatives have bought hook, line, and sinker into the liberal agenda for women's rights, and we don't even recognize it because we're crazy about this woman who is the politician most like Reagan we've seen in a long, long time?

Right now, we have a choice between Obama/Biden and McCain/Palin. That's a no-brainer. But someday I fear that a tiny minority of old-fashioned folks will look back and see how McCain's choice of Palin resulted in fallout to stay-at-home moms.


You know all those wussy little playgrounds that decorate the parks now? For whom are they constructed?

It used to be that high slides and long-roped swings and complex climbing equipment would be enjoyable for pre-teens and even teen-agers. Of course, younger kids could play at the playground too, assuming they took on the equipment in a limited way, more appropriate to their smaller size.

But now the playgrounds are built for preschoolers.

What does that say about hurrying children? We are taking 2 yr-olds to the playgrounds now and expecting them to have all sorts of age-appropriate toys there, where 2-yr-olds used to ride in their strollers, play in their sandboxes, and have a small section of the playground that would work for them.

How many 14-yr-olds do you see at a playground any more? Not many, right? And yet, the 14-yr-olds who can still enjoy a swing or a slide that is grown-up sized ... aren't they usually the kids who impress you with how well-adjusted they are, polite to others, hard workers, and not little snits?


Lest anyone think I've forgotten, let me just say that I've refrained from writing or talking much this year on the subject. Although five years certainly eases the sting and the pain, it still amazes me just how vivid the memories of that hospice room can be ... especially at this time of year, especially with the statue of St Michael out. It's not a bad thing. Just very clear pictures in my mind of what everything looked like, what we sang that week, what we prayed, who was there, etc.

Ye meanwhile are in your chambers sleeping,
quiet, and set free from all our weeping;
no cross or sadness
there can hinder your untroubled gladness.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I Am Not Dead

I used a neti-pot and I am not dead!

Raw garlic slices taped to the skin behind my ears.
Raw garlic taped to my throat.
Making turkey soup.
Gargling with Listerine.
Going through cotton hankies like crazy.

You know I'm desperate when I finally phone my daughter and ask her for instructions on how to use a neti pot. No matter how many people I listen to extol the wonders of their neti pots (ahem: Rachel and Anthea) it still seems WRONG to me to pour water up your nose. Isn't that how you DROWN??? So after Rachel told me how to not drown, I proceeded to attempt this death-embracing concept of pouring water up my nose. I told Rachel where the list of insurance policies was. I told her to buy the cheap pine box. And as Maggie watched, asking questions about subtracting clock-times from one another, I hugged her goodbye and told her I'd see her in heaven someday. (She rolled her eyes.)

But now I can breathe out of both nostrils, and am alive to tell the story!

I think I'll have to not-drown myself a few more times today.


How can it possibly take TWELVE minutes to toast two pieces of bread and spread peanut butter on them? Twelve minutes! No wonder we get nothing done around here....

How does a mother speed up a dawdler?


Frost? Who said there could be frost this morning? What's up with this? Wasn't it just August a couple of days ago? Didn't I just plant the melon seeds and the tomato bushes a couple of weeks ago?

I don't know how, but it appears that the tomato vines lived through the night, in spite of the car windows needing to be scraped clean this morning. Tonight is supposed to be colder, though. If I want the tomatoes make it, I will have to remember to cover them this evening.

Can you believe it's frosting already?

(And to think they were talking about global WARMING during the v.p. debate last night. Sheeesh.)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

My Fault?

As my husband and I were talking over some ...uh... "conflicts" we have had with other people (as in, when somebody bites your head off and you're not sure what just happened or why) we were struggling with how to cope with it. The best advice given to us seems to be to respond with something on the order of "Wow! That's just really inappropriate for you to say!" or "Hey, that was rude!"

In hindsight, that sounds good
because, after all, the comments we were considering really were out of line.

But in the midst of the attack difficulty, it never occurs to us to tell the person he/she is out of line. We just apologize or try to make it better or sit there dumbfounded. Why?

And then it occurred to me: our first inclination is to believe that we did do something wrong ourselves, that we offended, that we made a mistake, that we are the ones who owe the apology. But when you start thinking about it and realize what actually happened (especially when onlookers later confirm that the other person said something shockingly rude) you begin to think of all the things you might've said or should've said. But how do you go back and work out these situations? They're better dealt with when the problem arises. Thing is, we don't automatically think of the attacker as the offender, but always worry about what we did wrong ourselves. And like Gary said, would we want to be different? Do we want to have our default-response to be "It's your fault"? So how do we learn to respond with appropriate shock (and scolding?) to someone who deals with us inappropriately?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

St Michael and All Angels

Tonight was our celebration of the Feast of St Michael, transferred from last Monday. The statue of St Michael killing the devil (somewhat similar to the statue pictured below) was placed near the processional crucifix, next to the pulpit.

We see the crucifix, the dead Jesus on the cross.
But what God was seeing in the same event -- the same dead body on the cross -- was the statue: the Angel of the Lord slaying the Accuser.
The two pieces of art there, in juxtaposition with one another, is beautiful. The message of each piece is what we see in the other one.

Everyone a Minister

Our Bible story today and tomorrow is Korah's rebellion (Numbers 16). Some of the Levites were not satisfied with the responsibilities God had given them in caring for the temple, and coveted the office of the priesthood. In verse 3, they gathered together against Moses and Aaron and said, "You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?"

I knew this was sassy. And covetous. And disrespectful. But today Pastor pointed out something I hadn't realized: the Levites ask why Moses exalted himself above the rest of the people. But Moses wasn't the one who placed him over the Israelites; God was. Asking the pastor or prophet, "What makes you so great?" is ignoring that God was the one who gave him the job. (And honestly, I don't know any pastor worth his salt who thinks he is better than his hearers. Pastors usually think they're unworthy and unfit for the office, but determine to go about their duties nevertheless, because God called them to do so.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Paul Ryan (conservative Republican, well-versed in economics, who worked on crafting yesterday's bailout package) was on Charlie's show this morning.

One of the points he made was that Monday's "bailout" program bore very few similarities to the bailout programs we heard about at the end of last week. The massive public outcry against the bailout was because we all were thinking it was last week's plan which required the taxpayers to rescue irresponsible wheelers-&-dealers. Yesterday's bill called for accountability of the Wall Street executives who botched up, as well as the requirement that Wall Street "pay up" by insuring themselves. Yesterday's bill cut the amount of the bailout in half: "only" $350 billion. Yesterday's bill required that the taxpayers be repaid by the value of the home-mortgages they were purchasing. Yesterday's bill had eliminated Barney Frank's pork and the slush funds for liberal organizations.

I believe in laissez-faire economic theory. I think the government needs to butt out. However, Congressman Ryan made a compelling point. The government has already meddled in the past in the economy. Their meddling is a big part of what got us into this mess. Stepping out now will cause the economy to lock up and send us into depression. If the government can pass a bill which will unlock the economy and set us back on the road to a more laissez-faire economy (for example, making the Wall Street fatcats insure themselves instead of having the government back up private investments). So we DO need a bailout plan. The important thing now is that we don't go back to a plan like last week's (the one with the slush funds and the taxpayers footing the bill).

The Fear of Our Enemies

The media is telling us that this is the blackest time for economic news EVER. Even more than Black Tuesday at the end of 1929? That's what they say.

In the collect for peace, we pray at Vespers:
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed, give unto Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give, that our hearts may be set to obey Thy commandments, and also that by Thee, we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ , our Savior....

I have been finding it very interesting in the past months how the Church has prayed for centuries that God defends us from the fear of our enemies. We don't confess in this particular spot that God is delivering us from the enemies themselves (although ultimately He does do just that). It is not really the enemies that rob us of rest and quietness: it is the fear of our enemies that does us in.

This is not a Rooseveltian platitude. It is an acknowledgment that our fear IS an exhibition of our mistrust, and that our God is faithful to defend us even from the doubts and fears we wallow in.

Take they our life, goods, fame, child, and wife;
let these all be gone;
they yet have nothing won;
the kingdom ours remaineth!

Midsummer Night's Dream

Last Tuesday the kids and I attended another APT play with some homeschooling friends. Midsummer Night's Dream was a play I never understood, could never follow, and didn't particularly want to attend. But I learned my lesson when, in a previous year, I attended APT's Romeo and Juliet (which I had never liked) and found it absolutely enchanting. So we ordered tickets with our school group and trucked ourselves off to the woods to see the play which was just MADE for a geographical location like APT.

It was wonderful. I kept track of who was who, and what was going on, and where they were. (This is no small thing for someone who used to be an avowed Shakespeare-hater.) The jokes were hilarious. The plot was pure silliness. Unlike many of the plays which have deep messages hiding here and there behind the drama or the humor or the tragedy, Midsummer was just plain FUN. There was virtually no redeeming educational value, nothing thoughtful to analyze and ponder, just plenty to laugh at!

Gary and I were hoping to be able to get over to Spring Green together so that he could see it before the season closed -- and so that I could see the play at night, with all the cool lighting effects that fell flat during the matinee. Ah, it is sad: between work interfering with playtime and with all the remaining evening shows sold out, we cannot go. We'll have to plan ahead for next year so that he doesn't have to miss any of the plays "up the hill."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Annetta's Mexican Corn Chowder

Katie asked for the following recipe, and this is what I have jotted down. Usually now I prepare it with real milk and real chicken stock instead of with dry milk with water. And it doesn't have to be chicken breast, but can be chicken stock with thigh meat or whatever. It's definitely a tweakable recipe, but here is the starting point.

Boil in 1.5 quarts of water:
3 large potatoes, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 large chicken breast
1 pound frozen corn (or two 1# cans)
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 can Rotel (or 15-oz can of Mexican stewed tomatoes,
that is, the kind with tomatoes and chili peppers)

When potatoes are tender, remove chicken breast from pot.
Whisk together:
2.7 cups dry milk
2/3 cup flour
2 cups cold water
(You may need to add more water.)

Add milk/flour slurry to soup, stirring to blend into liquid, and then continuing to stir while the broth thickens.
Chop the chicken breast.
Return chicken to pot.
2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar.

Stir till cheese melts, and then serve.


Over the last decade or so, I have given up on trying to remove splinters with a pair of tweezers. They just never worked. Instead, I would use a very sharp needle from the doctor to cut the skin over the splinter, and then I'd use the needle to lift out the splinter or scrape it out. It worked just fine ... assuming the splinter didn't go too far down in, but was at least partially horizontal under the skin.

This weekend Gary got a doozy of a splinter, way down deep in his hand, in a place that was easily irritated and made it hard for him to do his job on the computer. We were thinking he'd probably have to go to Urgent Care to have this blasted splinter removed. Instead, while on a run to Walgreens to buy more splints for the torn tendons in his finger, he checked for expensive tweezers. They had some! This is so awesome! You can actually buy tweezers that work, and that can be sharpened so that the points will always meet each other and pinch.

I feel dumb dumb dumb getting all excited about something as piddly as tweezers. But, wow!, it saved us a trip to the doctor; finding a tool that actually does what it's supposed to do is a great find! Especially when it prevents a co-pay to ER.


In Thursday Bible class, Pastor was talking about the Father giving His Son, and so he brought up the ultimate icon of that: Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac. As he was quoting from the pertinent part of Genesis 22, I noticed that God told Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering.

Having just gone through the Leviticus stories the previous week or two in Matins, I was recalling all the different kinds of sacrifices: peace offerings, sin offerings, burnt offerings, thank offerings, wave offerings, etc. I had never before noticed that God connected Isaac with the label of a particular offering; I just thought Abraham had been told to sacrifice his son, his only son whom he loved. I needed to run back to Leviticus and look to see what were the unique features of the burnt offering.

Just in case you haven't thought of it before, I want to point out that there are LOTS (lots lots lots!!!) of similarities between the story of Isaac and the story of Jesus. Three days. He carried the wood that would be used for his own sacrifice. He trusted his father. Mount Moriah. Left the followers behind. "God will provide for Himself the ram for the burnt offering." And so much more. Suffice it to say that when we look at Isaac, we get a real good peek-ahead picture of Jesus on the cross.

But the point new to me this week was the burnt offering. Burnt offerings were a voluntary offering. And they were one where the sinner laid hands on the animal to transfer the guilt of sin to the animal which was to be sacrificed. So in this way too -- the particular variety of sacrifice -- Isaac looked like Jesus.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Beautiful Calendar of the Christian Year

It's probably not big enough to note all the doctors appointments, kids' piano lessons, and family reunions, but it's still a great calendar! The Fellowship of St James distributes an 11x17" calendar with a seasonally-appropriate biblical engraving, as well as noting a huge variety of feast days (both East and West dates notes) and saints days. Also on the calendar are quotes from church fathers and other enjoyable tidbits. The 2009 calendars are available now. Go and check 'em out.

Hogan's Heroes

One of us here is a total Hogan's Heroes fan (although she does prefer Beaver even more). One of the boys discovered something interesting. The main German characters in Hogan's Heroes were Jews. The actors who played Klink and Schultz were Jews who escaped Europe. The Gestapo major (Hochstetter) was an American Jew. The general (Burkhalter) was a Jew who was captured and beaten by the Gestapo and then interred for the duration of the war.

In addition to the Germans, the actor who played LeBeau (the Frenchman) was really a Jew from Paris who spent nearly three years in concentration camps.

These men were actors. They played parts. They earned money for their families by holding down a job in a comedy. But what amazes me is how much the world has changed in the last 40 years: can you even imagine a similar situation occurring today?


Although we didn't have as many people riding along with us as we'd originally hoped, two of my daughters and I headed off to Indiana this weekend for the other daughter's baby shower. Friday evening we hung out with Katie and Nathan. On Saturday Jane hosted a lovely party, and afterward we hung around and visited with Caseys longer than I probably should've. (It's so good to see them!!) It would've been a great chance to stay longer and see more friends on Monday, but Rachel and I have this "thing" where we really like our hubbies and wanted to grab some time with them this weekend before we roll into another week of busyness where husbands have virtually no time for anything other than work and sleep. At least Matt is done with his regular surgery rotation, and is now assigned to vascular surgery, which means 12-hour days instead of 14-hour days. Rachel is rejoicing! And gee, I thought I didn't see Gary; whew, I have it easy in comparison.