Saturday, November 22, 2008


I think it's very important to be hard-working.

I am frustrated by laziness, in myself and in others.

But I find it harder and harder to know when can't is won't, or when won't is can't.

If I try just a little bit harder to be organized, or to get more done, can't I do just a little bit more, just a little bit better than I'm doing now? But following this logic, I will be able to do ANYthing: leap over tall buildings in a single bound, stop a speeding train, etc ... because, after all, those are just a little bit more than the step before. Right?

When a child is learning to read, or go potty, a ride a bike, or do two-digit multiplication, how does the mother/teacher know when failure is caused by the child's laziness (or stubbornness) instead of failure due to the child's not being ready? Some kids will learn to read easily at age 3 or 4, more of them at age 6, and some not till age 10. Brow-beating a kid to read usually won't hurry the process. But what happens when some good hard work is what's necessary to get over the difficulty? How do we know?

It always seems that I can be just a little more frugal than last month. But does there come a point when you just can't do it anymore? Does there come a point when either the grocery budget increases, or you don't fill up the people's tummies, or you sacrifice nutrition to save the dollars?

How do we know when our bodies are simply no longer capable of hauling around lumber all day? How do we know when daily jogging is now too harshly bouncy for the guts to take? How do we know when the solution is a little more stick-to-ive-ness, and when the solution is "Give up already! You're too old for this!"

Once upon a time, we were sick. The whole family. Sicker than we'd been in quite a while. We were sitting around, aching, not reading nor watching tv because we were just too sick. We nibbled jello and watched the clock to see when we could take our next dose of tylenol or aspirin. A friend invited us to some event. I turned her down due to illness. She insisted that it would be healthy for us to get out of the germ-laden house, into the fresh air and sunshine, and get going with some physical labor. They had been sick once, but had to go out and do a lot of physical labor that day in spite of illness, and it seems they "sweated it out" and by the end of the day were feeling much better. I often think of that when I'm feeling puny. Maybe I should just ignore the need to rest and get out there and WORK. Maybe I'm just babying myself. Too much of a patsy. Too lazy.

Today it crossed my mind that I don't know the answer to "When is something too much?" in a gazillion different areas of life. And it drives me nuts! Because I value hard work, I am prone to plugging away at something, trying to make it work, far longer than I ought. And because I have no sense of balance (hence the name of this blog) I realized that I will NOT know "how much is too much" until I collapse with a heart attack or have a nervous breakdown or fall down the stairs with a basket of laundry, or whatever the case may be.

So I am trying to convince myself that middle-aged people are allowed to work less than 16 hours a day, that it's okay to sit and put my feet up and allow my mind to veg. I am trying to convince myself that sometimes a person can get more accomplished by stopping, resting, and coming back at the project fresh and re-energized. I have often told myself and others that it's good to "do the best you can," but you can't do better than "the best you can" no matter how hard you try. The frustration lies in recognizing that "the best you can" isn't as good as you want/need for it to be.

Someday I will learn to accept those limitations on my strength and endurance and memory (and the similar limitations of others). Then it will be easier to sit back and take the rest-breaks I need without constantly scolding myself for being lazy.

And today?
I'll just rest anyway,
even if I do think I'm lazy.

Today's Laugh

The things that come to those who wait will be the scraggly junk left by those who got there first.

A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.

The shin bone is a device for finding furniture in a dark room.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Well, we're more than halfway through with the raking. This is the pile we have so far:

That pile is 4' high. That's going to be a lot of compost!

We're not used to raking leaves. At the parsonage we were on a little knoll, on one of the highest spots in the township, and the leaves just blew away most of the time without effort on our part. We've gained a LOT in having less wind-noise. For example, we can sit outside and read without having the papers all blow away. And less noise! But there are a few benefits to the wind: blowing away mosquitos and flies, and blowing away leaves.

On the other hand, if we can compost those leaves, I betcha I'll be glad to have them instead of losing them to the fickle wind.

Alia and Rachel

Looky there! A picture of Alia that I forgot to upload to my blog. This was when the girls were watching Miss Potter, except for Alia who was watching Auntie Rachel. This is from way back when Miss Alia was only 10 days old. Maybe if her mother could post a few more photos on Facebook, we could have some more recent pictures..... {ahem.... hint hint... ahem}

Today's Laugh

Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until
you hear them speak.

Nothing is fool proof to a sufficiently talented fool.

The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there's a 90% probability you'll get it wrong.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Seeing the Baby

Good news! Somebody got a job!

Not-so-good news. That means he will have to work and will not be able to come for Thanksgiving next week.

But there's a job! With a paycheck! Which will buy groceries and pay rent!

I've been noticing that all the people who say, "It's so great to be grandparents! Don't you just love having a baby around? Being a grandma is even better than being a mother!" are the people who actually live near their grandchildren.

Potholder Loops

Do you have a child who cannot get enough of weaving potholders? It's expensive if you buy the good loops -- the ones that are made of wool or cotton instead of nylon, and which actually fit the loom. You can make your own loops, though, out of old cotton-knit t-shirts.

Go to bbmarie's photo tutorial to learn how to make the loops. Because I've had back luck sometimes with things disappearing off the internet, here are brief instructions summarizing the process (just in case I need to have my memory jogged if/after the slideshow disappears one day).
Cut 5.25 x 2.75" rectangles out of the fabric.
The short side should be with the grain.
Round the corners of the rectangles.
Cut a slit (like when you're done sewing a buttonhole) down the middle of the length of the rectangle (which will be across the grain), up to about 1/4" or 1/3" from the ends of the cloth.
When you pull the ends of the rectangle to loop over the loom-pegs, the cloth should roll up a bit, making something akin to the boughten loops.

I cut 52 loops from a woman's t-shirt, size small and not very long. So a t-shirt will provide fabric for 1½ or 2 potholders. One yard of new cotton-knit fabric would yield enough loops for 3½ potholders. It took me about an hour to cut up the t-shirt into loops, but I'm none too quick with crafty projects. It's nice to be able to take interesting prints on t-shirts that would've gone to Goodwill, and turn them into a prettier loop than can normally be found for potholder-weaving.

These loops seem to be significantly heavier than loops from the store. They make a very heavy potholder. To be able to fit the potholder into the space on the loom, I had to skip a few pegs. I'm also considering a try at making narrower rectangles for the loops -- less fabric to roll up and thus less thickness.

Today's Laugh

And these are from John G:

If you lined up all the cars in the world end to end, someone would be stupid enough to try to pass them, five or six at a time, on a hill, in the fog.

Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day By Day

Augsburg has recently put "Day By Day We Magnify You" back into publication.

In my opinion, Day by Day We Magnify Thee is the BEST daily devotional available. Apparently other people know it too, because the prices for the old ones on ebay have been running $20-80 per copy. Now you can buy brand new copies for cheaper than a used one. Of course, it has a different Bible translation and the devotional readings are not translated the same as in the old version. But I have high hopes that there will be nearly as much value in the revised version as in the original.

Today's Laugh

And yet another batch of poor metaphors.

He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Easy Pot Pie

Having stewed a chicken yesterday afternoon, I had to figure out what it was going to become for dinner. I was really craving chicken and dumplings. But that's such a pain to make. Instead I decided to go with a "pot pie" which is really more like chicken-and-dumplings than like a pie, except I bake the dish instead of steaming the dumplings.

For the guts of the dish, you'd use the chicken meat and some veggies, with the stock turned into a gravy-ish sauce. This all goes into a greased pan (like a 13x9 or a lasagna pan). The top "crust" is made with pancake mix.

For a 9x9" pan, combine
1 egg
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 cup buttermilk complete pancake mix
1 cup grated cheddar

Spread this on top of the chicken-veggie mix, and bake for about 20-25 minutes at 375. This is a super-fast topping for a pot pie, and the cheese makes it extra good.

When I'm being a good girl and making things from scratch, this is the same kind of topping, in an amount for a 13x9:

1/2 cup ww flour
1 cup white flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp oil
2/3 cup milk
1 cup shredded cheddar

Today's Laugh

More goofy analogies from high-schoolers' essays:

The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn't.

McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 pm instead of 7:30.

Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 pm traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 pm at a speed of 35 mph.

They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan's teeth.

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Crux Theologorum

For centuries theologians have struggled with the question, "Why are some saved and not others?" One answer is that some people choose to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and others reject Him. This contradicts the clear biblical teaching that no one can choose to become a Christian, and that we are dead in sin.

Another answer to the question is that God chooses to save some, and chooses to damn others. This is the Calvinist position, but it contradicts that clear biblical teaching that God wants all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, and that Jesus yearned for the unbelievers to repent and be gathered to Him.

So what do we do with this illogic? Lutherans just say simply, "Well, God chooses some to be saved. Those who are damned made their choice to reject Him."

But that doesn't make SENSE!!

Okay, right. I learned that long ago, and it's not earth-shattering news to me. But I found a quote from Scaer* that just summed it up so nicely. After saying that 1) we cannot say God doesn't desire the salvation of all, and 2) we cannot say people have any choice in their own conversion, he states that this is within the hidden will of God (the voluntas absconditus):

The hidden will of God must remain hidden and it is sheer folly to claim knowledge of it from experience and history when our conclusions are so diametrically opposed to the revealed will. It is far better to take the Bible at its word and to have unresolved rational problems than to resolve these tensions by contradicting one or another part of Scripture.

*In "The Nature and Extent of the Atonement in Lutheran Theology" by David P Scaer, published in The Bulletin of the Evangelical Theological Society in 1967.

Christ in the Old Testament

Our Bible verse for the week is from 2 Timothy:
From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures,
which are able to make you wise for salvation
through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

In chapel today, Pastor asked the kids what those "Holy Scriptures" were. It wasn't the New Testament -- that was just beginning to be written. And back in Timothy's infancy/childhood, none of the New Testament had been written. The "Scriptures" which Eunice and Lois taught Timothy were the Old Testament.

Okay, I'd been taught that before.

But I never made the connection to Pastor's next point. It was the Old Testament Scriptures which taught Timothy about the God who made gracious promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David. It was the Old Testament Scriptures that taught Timothy about the Messiah's suffering and death. It was the Old Testament Scriptures that taught Timothy about salvation in Jesus.

How 'bout that?

I Believe!

My son-in-law sent me a link to an article that just makes your eyes pop out of your head. October was HOT! Global warming is coming to kill us all! Oh no! The proof is in the numbers! Look how hot it was!

Ooops. Small problem. For a large part of Russia (where it was unusually hot for the month of October) it turns out that the temperature data didn't come through properly. What to do? Hmmm. I know! We'll just take September's temperatures, and write 'em down for the days of October, and there ya go... data for the month of October.

And THAT is part of the "proof" that global warming is happening.

This is science??????

And yet, it fits perfectly with what's demonstrated in Expelled. There are certain things we believe: for some it's God's Word, and for others it's something else. Last week in Bible class, Pastor talked about how evolution is a belief system, not a portion of science. This is seen clearly in Expelled, too, especially in what the evolutionists themselves espouse.

What is most stunning in Expelled, though, is not the argument between evolution and intelligent design. What is most stunning is the fervent beliefs and the name-calling by those who deny Intelligent Design.

And here it pops up again, when we're talking about global warming, and inventing data for Russian temperatures.

And we're supposed to trust these scientists who are willing to use faked data, who are unwilling to present both sides of the issue, who are afraid to let the science and logic speak for themselves?

Today's Laugh

These too are from Suzanne. English teachers submitted examples of bad metaphors and poor analogies that were found in their students' writings.

Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Roast Vegetables

In my rare stints in buildings with cable tv, I am drawn to the Food Network. Andrew and I can barely pull ourselves away from the tv when we have to stay in a hotel, and kids used to volunteer cheerfully to be the one to take the car in for maintenance (so they could sit in the waiting room and watch History Channel or Discovery).

On Food Network, I'd seen segments on roasting vegetables. But it was my friend Lora who really sold me on it. She makes a wicked vegetable & chicken dish that's roasted, with Emeril's Essence for the spicing. (I tried to find her instructions on her blog, but couldn't. She must've posted it on the homeschool email list instead.)

Today for dinner we indulged in roasted vegetables. This time it was turnips, beets, carrots, and onions.

For Alia's baptism dinner last weekend, I was trying to figure out what to serve (gluten-free!) that could be prepared ahead of time and kept warm in crockpots. To accompany the barbecued pork, roasted vegetables seemed like a good plan. I roasted carrots, cabbage, onion, potatoes. When they were nearly done, they sat in a crockpot (on low) until after church. I got several compliments on the veggies, and the only complaint I heard was, "Why didn't you make more vegetables?" (Uh, that would be because Katie only has so much jelly-roll pan and only so much crockpot space.)

Katie asked how to make roasted veggies. It's easy!

Choose two or three or more veggies. Chop. Cut the slow-cooking species (such as carrots) into smaller chunks than the faster-cooking kinds (such as potatoes, turnips, or cabbage).

Put the veggies on a shallow pan that has sides (jelly-roll pan or a 13x9). Pour a decent amount of olive oil over them (more than a drizzle but not so much as to totally waste the olive oil). Toss the veggie chunks with the olive oil. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper and whatever other spice you want. We find rosemary particularly yummy with roasted veggies. Or Emeril's Essence. But whatever strikes your fancy that day will work, like, say, a combo of garlic powder and basil and thyme. Toss again to spread the spices around the veggies.

Pop the tray into a hot oven (400° to 500°) and cook till tender, anywhere from 30-75 minutes, depending on amount, kinds, and temperature.

Easy as pie. (No. Easier.) And delicious. And nutritious. And easy to clean up afterwards. I'm not seeing a downside here....

Greedy Capitalism

Capitalism is hated throughout the world (and increasingly in the United States too) because of the greed that fuels the system. And it's true, capitalism is based on the truth that people are greedy and that they will work hard to get stuff for themselves, to improve their position, and to profit.

What we don't seem to realize is that socialism too is based on greed. The greed of socialism is that I want stuff, and I want somebody else to provide it for me.

Thing is, capitalist greed provides motivation for people to work and invent and invest. Socialist greed provides no motivation for ME to do anything; all advancement, all dollars, all business comes from "somebody else." And when everybody thinks somebody else should be providing for the neighbor, pretty soon nobody is doing business.

We can't deny the greed.

But we can harness it so that it moves us to provide for ourselves, and in doing so, contribute to the overall well-being of the nation and providing jobs for others.

But we as a society decided we really don't want to do that anymore.

Hat tip to Cheryl for the link to the article.

Today's Laugh

This one is from Suzanne:

A Michigan woman and her family were vacationing in a small New England town where Paul Newman and his family often visited.

One Sunday morning, the woman got up early to take a long walk. After a brisk five-mile hike, she decided to treat herself to a double-dip chocolate ice cream cone.

She hopped in the car, drove to the center of the village, and went straight to the combination bakery and ice-cream parlor.

There was only one other patron in the store: Paul Newman, sitting at the counter having a doughnut and coffee.

The woman's heart skipped a beat as her eyes made contact with those famous baby-blue eyes. The actor nodded graciously and the star-struck woman smiled demurely.

"Pull yourself together!" she chides herself. "You're a happily married woman with three children. You're forty-five years old, not a teenager!"

The clerk filled her order and she took the double-dip chocolate ice cream cone in one hand and her change in the other. Then she went out the door, avoiding even a glance in Paul Newman's direction.

When she reached her car, she realized that she had a handful of change but her other hand was empty.

"Where's my ice cream cone? Did I leave it in the store?" Back into the shop she went, expecting to see the cone still in the clerk's hand or in a holder on the counter or something. No ice cream cone was in sight.

With that, she happened to look over at Paul Newman. His face broke into his familiar, warm, friendly grin and he said to the woman, "You put it in your purse."