Saturday, February 28, 2009

Today's Laugh

A blond woman with a good mind got tired of people laughing at her behind her back. So she applied herself at school, majored in American Literature, graduated Summa Cum Laude in her BA, MA, and PhD studies, in which she examined "The Bias and Basis for Humor Employed in 'Dumb Blonde Jokes.'" In a supreme act of vindication, she landed a contract with a major publishing firm to write a book of blonde jokes, which immediately landed on the NY Times Top 10 list and sold millions of copies and was translated into many foreign languages. She thought to herself that she would have the last laugh.

Still, everywhere she went, people laughed at her behind her back. On TV talk shows, especially the ones with brunette hosts. On radio shows, where it wasn't as obvious to the audience. Even at book signings, it seemed that people were trying to hold in a snicker every time they passed by her. It made her so mad she complained to a friend, "Here I am with advanced degrees in American Literature, a contract with a major publisher, and a hit joke book selling millions of copies in 30 different countries around the world, and people still treat me like a 'dumb blonde.'"

"Wow," said the friend. "Millions of copies? You must be raking in the royalties."

"Royalties?" said the blonde with a stunned look on her face. "What are royalties?"

Friday, February 27, 2009

God Relented

Our story today is from Exodus 32, the story of the Israelites' worship of the golden calf at the foot of Sinai. Pastor pointed out that Moses interceded for the people and "God relented." But had the people repented yet? Nope. They were still scamming themselves into believing that they were worshiping Yahweh, calling the golden calf by the name of the true God. So it wasn't their contrition that caused God to relent; they didn't even know yet that God was angry at what they were doing. The thing that caused Him to relent from doing harm was His promise to Abraham, and Moses' appeal to remember His mercy.


I could sound all hippy and eco-conscious if I claimed that I didn't wear make-up because it's bad for your skin or whatever. But what's sad is that I don't wear make-up because my laziness is so big that it trumps even my vanity. Pitiful, eh?

I was going to say "at least I combed my hair today" but I'm not even certain I did that. Oy! My teeth are brushed though!

Today's Laugh

A little over seven years ago, a friend was dying of stomach cancer at a young age. His folks had come to stay with his family, helping, and savoring their last weeks together. Scott had always been very witty, very quick-thinking, and hilarious. When he was the secretary for the circuit pastors' gatherings, the guys (and even their wives) snapped up the minutes of the meetings when they arrived in the mail. In what entertaining way would Scott present the boring details of the most recent meeting? Scott was probably the punniest guy I ever knew.

At the funeral, his mom told me her favorite pun of all. As she worried about missing him, and how the girls would miss their daddy, and how the next few weeks would go, Scott tried to reassure her with the promises of Christ and their reunion in heaven one day. And she said, "Well, I'm a mother, and sometimes mothers can't help but worry." And Scott's instantaneous answer was

"That's apparent."

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Those Idols

My friend Sandy was recently in Kenya for a couple of weeks, doing some work on a hymnal that is being developed for/with the Lutherans there. She wrote back reports to some of us about her experiences, the people, the food, the living conditions, the worship, a safari they went on, etc.

While she was overseas, we here were getting news daily about what Congress was plotting planning and how the stock market is reacting, what's going on with unemployment, etc. A person begins to wonder about what's going to happen to our homes, our food supply, our electricity, and all our other luxuries.

It's easy to point fingers and notice how other people are spoiled, how other people expect too much, and how other people flip out over the prospect of losing their lattes and their annual Disneyworld trips. But betwixt the sermons recently and Sandy's letters, I began to realize that I too think I need certain things. Forget the "wants" like my computer or my piano or my stove. Forget a retirement account or savings. Forget gasoline for the car. Even if I can grasp the concept of living without those things, I still think I need a house with a furnace, or at least an apartment, or a spot in a homeless shelter. I think I need my medicine (non-Rx though it is) and my sight. I think I need to eat every day, maybe not every meal, but at least once a day. I think I need hot running water. The thought of losing those things reveals my idols, the things I am not willing to do without, the things that give me comfort, the things I depend upon.

And yet, if we don't have food, or we don't have walls and heat, or we don't have the basic necessities of life, what will happen? Through much of history, throughout much of the world, people don't have things that we think are necessary. And they lived through it. Look at the beatings and the imprisonments and the shipwrecks that the Apostle Paul lived through. Look at the living conditions during the Middle Ages. They lived through it. And if they didn't --if we don't-- well, to live is Christ, to die is gain.

The cross shall never take away
my joy and praise undying.
For when the heart is most oppressed,
the harp of joy is tuned the best,
the better strains are ringing.
The cross itself, at Jesus' will,
must aid my soul, that I may still
in grief His praise be singing. (ELH 150)

I'm really not fond of the idea that I'm going to be stripped of my idols. But maybe that's what it's going to take to learn to say with all truthfulness, "Into Your hands I commit my spirit."

Till then, though, a person certainly gains a new appreciation for the gifts and luxuries we still have. The chance to sit on a couch next to your husband in your own living room, watching a video. The safety to walk through the streets unharmed. A car to drive me to a grocery store where the shelves are nearly full. And a hot shower every single day.

When I think about this objectively, it sounds so scary. And yet, it's not. My God, my Lover, my King, my Savior -- He is the one who knows what is and is not coming. He is the one who works these things out for the good of His bride the Church. He is the one who is doing good to me, even if my senses don't feeeel the goodness. And contrary to what may make me quake in fear, there actually is some very real comfort in this. If He would take on my flesh and my sin, if He would die for me in a most agonizing death, if He would take me to heaven to reign with Him, how can anything bad come from what some piddly little kings and judges and rulers might decide?

Frugality in These Days

So how does it work to be frugal now? I'm not sure. On the one hand, I want to hang onto my money, knowing that I'm going to be darn short of it in the near future. On the other hand, money is going to be losing its value pretty darn fast, so why hang onto it?

How frugal can a person be, anyway? Normally, we would be weighing the cost of going out to eat against the cost of 2-3 days worth of groceries for the family. Or weighing the cost of a roast for dinner against the cost of a bottle of digestive enzymes that will last the family about a month. Things like that. Is it worth it to buy the season pass to the county parks? Should we buy a subscription to the magazine that would help with homeschooling? How soon can I start hanging clothes on the line instead of paying to run the dryer? Can I continue to live with the flat [ie, unwashable] paint on the walls, or do I spend money (and time!!) on painting? Do we buy high-quality, unrefined foods even though they're more expensive, or do we buy whatever is cheapest? There are many things I think we "need," but when I think of where the economy is going, it's hard to think in terms of "need" when I fear we will be needing rice and beans so that we don't literally starve.

Yesterday we were reading in Penny Candy, and I realized why I'm confused about how tightwaddish to be right now. The author was reviewing the three stages of reaction to inflation. When the government increases the money supply, the first reaction is for people to hang onto their money because they don't like the rise in prices that results from the government inflating. The later response is for people to want to spend their money posthaste, quick quick, before the prices goes up higher. We finally proceed into runaway inflation when nobody wants to have money because it's so worthless, and we just gotta exchange our money for anything --ANYthing-- that has some value and can be traded for whatever else we may need.

So are we now in the stage where we hang onto our money, or where we are ready to get rid of it? And I don't know. On the one hand, I don't want to start spending spending spending, so as to have something --anything-- of value. If the results of the govt's inflation don't set in for a few years, then I want to have access to some money. But if the fallout hits soon, then what's the point of saving anything?

I guess this is part of the uncertainty that the economists talk about. How can businesses (or families) make plans for the future when nobody has any idea what changes the future holds?

Today's Laugh

Q: Say you're in a car in Russia, driving really fast northwest. What are you?

A: Russian toward the Finnish.

And if you think that's bad...
Sixty years ago, you would've been in danger of Stalin.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Nursing Homes

We thought that Gary's job would be fairly secure, even in economically difficult times. After all, the company serves nursing homes. With the baby-boomers getting up there in years, nursing homes looked like it was one of those industries that would be growing instead of shrinking.

But one wonders, with the current administration. We've been training people for the last 30-40 years that life is disposable, especially when it's inconvenient to me. We kill babies. We kill the infirm. And although it's still illegal, we even "put people out of their misery" like as if they were beloved pets. With the plans for nationalized health care, and how high those costs are for the elderly and the disabled, I imagine that we will soon be finding certain people rather, uh, shall we say, "dispensable." It's pretty scary to think what's going to happen when we look at the money that's available, and throw that together with the whole idea that we're just animals anyway, and nobody should ever ever ever have to suffer.


Last year, Ash Wednesday services were canceled due to the humongo snow storms, and we had "Ash Thursday" instead. This year, I went for my sunbath/exercise-walk and had to take off my coat because I was too warm. I heard the horses whinnying for joy in the sunshine. And the gutters are making a racket with all the melted water flowing off the roof. Ahhhhh.

If this is global warming, bring it on!!!

Burning of the Palms

Usually we go to Matins and then come home. Pastor suggested today that we stay for opening at school. We did, and we heard readings from Gen 3 and from Is 40. Then we all went outside so that the palms from last year's Palm Sunday could be burned for the ashes that will be used later today.

So we stand there in the cold, watching the flames lick up the dry palm leaves. "The grass withers. The flower fades. But the word of our God stands forever."

Man, remember that you are dust. And to dust you shall return.

So, to dust we shall return.
But after my skin is destroyed, this I know (because the word of our God stands forever) that in my flesh I shall see God.

while we remember that we are dust, the Lord remembers His tender mercies and His lovingkindnesses, for they are from old. He does not remember the sins of our youth nor our transgressions. According to His mercy He remembers us for His goodness' sake.

Today's Laugh

Do you commonly find yourself calling your children by the wrong name, and feel like kicking yourself for spending so much time selecting just the right name for each child?

Do you find yourself saying to your child, "Sure, I know where you left your cookie. It's on the long white horizontal surface in the kitchen... you know, the one with the thing we cook with on one end and the thing we put stuff in to keep it cold on the other end? Um... there's a sink in it?"

Do you tell people on the phone that you'll be happy to take a message, just as soon as you find a "message-writing-down thingamabob?"

In fact, do all the nouns in your vocabulary, nouns which have been your friends and companions since you were two years old, suddenly become "thingies" when you are under pressure? You may be suffering from deficient noun disease.

Deficient noun disease, or DND, is a common affliction among mothers of small children (older children too). While not a dangerous illness, DND is an exasperating and frustrating one which increases in severity in direct proportion to the number of children in the household.

Common symptoms of DND include the following: Calling children by each other's names, forgetting the proper names for common household objects, and casually referring to other adults not as "John and Jane" but as "those people with the pool who barbecue every Friday." Another common symptom is the frequent use of the WRONG noun in a given situation, rather like mild aphasia. Someone with this particular type of DND might say, "Put your plate on the stove... I mean on the counter... I mean ON THE TABLE!"

A less common symptom displayed by some DND sufferers is an ailment also referred to as the "Crossword" Syndrome. With this particular type of DND-related illness, the affected person might declare, "Oh, yes, I know her name. Let's see... it starts with an S, has five letters...."

DND, although virtually untreatable and incurable, can still be endured with a minimum of pain and embarrassment if the afflicted person makes use of the following handy coping mechanisms.

One method of coping with the disease involves the clever use of nicknames, which can easily apply to any individual in the family, like Dear or Sweetheart. This method breaks down when the DND sufferer is faced with the necessity of differentiating between individuals, or when she is talking to several people at one time, so the use of group nicknames, like referring to everyone in the room as "Y'all", a common Southern coping mechanism, is recommended.

Another good way to conceal DND from your friends and family members is to develop the habit of pausing in your sentences when reaching a crucial noun. If the pause is long enough, the other individual will attempt to guess the noun for you, and you need only respond in the affirmative when the correct noun is reached. Although this method may take time, it certainly adds suspense to an otherwise ordinary conversation.

The information available on DND is still patchy and incomplete, due to the unnecessary shame felt by many mothers who do not realize that this illness is wide-spread and quite common. Very few mothers are able to call their children by name, and it is difficult for them to believe that the time invested in picking out those names was, to put it bluntly, wasted.

When education has removed the stigma from the minds of all women, this disease might very well be shown to be the most common affliction in human history.

The cause of DND is not yet known; some scientists believe that using a word over 100,000 times in the course of a lifetime may simply fade that word from long-term memory; mothers simply reach the lifetime limit earlier because they must repeat themselves so often. Other scientists hold up the two-year old child as proof positive that the repetition of a word more than 100,000 times (in this case, the word Mommy) does not cause selective noun amnesia.

Although modern science may never be able to cure DND or discover what exactly causes it, we as mothers and fellow sufferers can still help one another to recognize the illness and learn to live in harmony with it.

The next time you hear yourself shouting, "CLAUDIA--CODY--BETSY--LOGAN--JILL .... YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! GET IN HERE!" you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that mothers all over the world are doing the same thing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bathroom Vent

Breathing fiberglass dust makes me cough.

While dusting the hallway yesterday, I noticed this ugly mark on the ceiling. Gee, am I really that unobservant that I hadn't noticed that before? I thought so. I asked the kids; they didn't think they remembered that mark on the ceiling either. I made a note of it to mention to Gary when he got home. However, he was preaching on Monday night in Shorewood, so it would be a 30-hour wait until he got home to where he could do any checking or fixing for me.

So then I'm cleaning in the bathroom later. Dusting the door frame [yes, I know, this weird fit of cleaning-cleaning instead of just fudging along with a wiped sink or a mopped floor] I found a puddle. Right near the spot on the hallway ceiling. Hmmmm.

So I investigated in the attic. I discovered a new problem that I'd never heard of before. The steam being sucked out of the bathroom has been condensing in the vent-tubing as it passes through the attic on its way outside. And then it freezes. With the warmth yesterday, water was sloshing around in the vent-tubing and there were hunks of ice rattling around in there too. This is where the soppy drips had originated to mess up my hallway ceiling. Geeminy Christmas!

Okay, so I take a bucket upstairs into the attic, intending to separate the tubes where they had been spliced together, and dump the water into the bucket. Uhhhh... news-flash to Susan. Water goes DOWNHILL. So my plan worked hunky-dory for the water and ice in the half of the tube connected to the exhaust-vent in the roof. But the water and ice in the half of the tube connected to the bathroom ceiling.... ummm... it went flowing downhill and splashed through the vent-machine, all over the bathroom floor and toilet and counter and into the litter box.

And it was icky yuck nasty dirty water!

Well, good thing I hadn't gotten far in the bathroom cleaning.

After I removed the motor and the vent-fan from the bathroom ceiling, Andrew held the bucket underneath the hole and held open the flap on the tubing so that I could go upstairs and empty the rest of the water from the tubing. We ended up getting more than a gallon out of the tube.

It dried overnight. This morning I rearranged the tubes in the attic so that they no longer leave the bathroom ceiling-vent, dip down, do a 180° turn, travel relatively horizontally across the attic (with a few more mild roller-coaster ups-and-downs), and then make a 90° turn up to the exhaust spot. I cut a bunch of the tubing out, re-spliced it, and used string to hang the tube from the roof joists so that the vent-tube is much closer to being a straight shot from the bathroom vent to the exhaust-spot in the roof.

I'm a little worried about that. For one thing, some of the online advice said that having it be a straight shot leaves the possibility for condensed steam to run back toward the bathroom instead of making it all the way out of the house. Hmm. Could be. But would that be any worse than having the steam pile up and pile up in ice chunks all through the winter? The other problem is that I noticed it's colder in the bathroom now. That could be simply because somebody had opened the bathroom window earlier. But that was long enough before that it doesn't seem to be an adequate explanation for the chillier bathroom temps.

On the other hand, I took an intentionally long, hot, steamy shower after I got myself out of the fiberglassy attic. Just a scientific experiment, y'know. Not because I wanted a long, hot, steamy shower. Oh no! I kept peeking out at the mirror. It took longer to steam up than normal. When I got out of the shower, there didn't seem to be any steam swirling around in the air. Hmm. That's a good sign. So then we decided to play with matches and experiment with some nice visible air. We tested what happened to the smoke from the matches in the little bathroom where the vent was off, and what happened to the smoke near the vent in operation in the big bathroom. And you could tell that the vent was really drawing! So, I'm hoping that it's fixed. Wow. I fixed something!

(And if anybody knows that something I fixed is going to create a new problem, please let me know before I discover it the hard way.)

Today's Laugh

In this life, I'm a woman. In my next life, I'd like to come back as a bear. When you're a bear, you get to hibernate. You do nothing but sleep for six months. I could deal with that.

Before you hibernate, you're supposed to eat yourself stupid. I could deal with that, too.

When you're a girl bear, you birth your children (who are the size of walnuts) while you're sleeping and wake to partially grown, cute, cuddly cubs. I could definitely deal with that.

If you're a mama bear, everyone knows you mean business. You swat anyone who bothers your cubs. If your cubs get out of line, you swat them too. I could deal with that.

If you're a bear, your mate expects you to wake up growling. He expects that you will have hairy legs and excess body fat.

Yup, gonna be a bear.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Teaching Kids to Save

Some people are just more willing to hoard money and some people are just, by nature, more willing to fritter it away.

So parents do what they can to teach. Sometimes they enforce rules about savings, so that the rules will overcome the child's lack of knowledge, and then later he can discover how much he's amassed and can buy. Woo hoo -- he didn't spend it all on TicTacs, one pack a week, and now he's got $15 to buy a DVD. Or yee-haw, Dad wouldn't let him spend $15 per week on the DVDs, and now he's got $250 to buy a bicycle.

OR, sometimes, parents let their children learn the lesson the hard way. Maybe the child is allowed to spend the money in a way that the parent knows is unwise. But then el-Kid has no money later when there's something pricier he desires. That is, theoretically, when el-Kid learns the pain of frittering instead of saving.

But here's the booger.

What happens when the kid isN'T consumeristic enough to ache over that expensive thing he can't have? Hey! He didn't learn the lesson. He was supposed to learn "oh, this was a mistake; I shouldn't've spent my money on candy and $1 toys." But if he thinks "no biggie to do without the iPod for another several years" then where is the lesson?

Maybe Mom's NO-YOU-CAN'T-SPEND-IT is the only way for some kids...

Meal Plans

To simplify meal planning once upon a time, we set up a weekly menu and just did the same thing for meals every week. This definitely saved brain-effort on coming up with dinner ideas. But it burned out a few people on spaghetti, and it got boring doing the same cooking week after week.

Planning out a month's worth of meals at a time (or even a week's) doesn't suit me well because it doesn't take into account days when we're not hungry, or when Gary has dinner at work, or the sale prices at the grocery store, or the leftovers, or the fresh produce available.

For a long time, when I still had my weekly trips to Woodmans, I would buy whatever was cheap, and make notes on my grocery list of what meals the items were going to be turned into. I'd jot those on the refrigerator's memo board, and pick something off the list each day that would fit for that day. That worked the best of all the plans we've tried. But now I don't have weekly trips to Woodmans.

So the new plan is to have ideas written down that incorporate the foods we like, a spread of nutritional variety, with a variety of time requirements for preparation, and a lot of relatively inexpensive foods.

Here's the list I came up with.
Some of it is seasonally restricted.
Don't try to do the math. The "month" amounts to about 50+ days.

Roasted veggies
Frozen veggies x3
Lettuce salad x2
Carrots or squash

Tuna salad
Fried eggs
PBJs x 2
Smoothies x2

Creamed spinach
Pumpkin pie
Apple Betty
Salsa & chips

Pot roast
Pizza lentils
Teriyaki hicken & rice
Chicken soup

Baked beans
Lentil soup
Red beans & rice
Split pea soup
Ham & beans
Black-eyed peas & bacon
Bk bean & corn patties
Potato bar

Clam chowder
Tomato soup & grilled cheese
Cowboy soup
Mexican corn chowder
French onion soup


Salmon patties
Tuna casserole
Clams on spaghetti
Crab & screw noodles
Stir fry
Beef & noodles
Chicken, bk bean, corn, rice

Penna rosa
Salmon fillets
Barbecue pork
Sub sandwiches
Stuffed peppers
Tamale pie
Taco salad

Creamed corn

According to Your Word

We are in the midst of praying Psalm 119 right now. I have been stunned by how often if says "according to Your word" or "according to Your lovingkindness" or "according to Your mercy."

So I counted. Do you know what?? It says NINETEEN times "according to Your..." something-or-other.

Two of those (verses 9 and 169) are kinda sorta Third-Article-y. And one (verse 91) is kinda sorta First-Article-y. But all the rest are very much about God's promises of mercy and goodness and hanging onto us and making us alive. This line shows up in more than 10% of the verses in that psalm, about how we pray on the basis of "hey, You said...; You promised!"

I think that's very cool.

Why Did Jonah Finally Go?

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you." So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.

So did Jonah go just because he figured God was a big meanie who would zot him if he didn't go like he was told???

When we studied the third chapter of Jonah recently, we spent a lot of time talking about the theology of the cross.

Jonah may have had head-knowledge of God's word and God's mercy, but he didn't trust in it, and he didn't want that mercy extended to Israel's enemy. So he tried to run away to Tarshish.

So God drowned his Old Adam in the sea and in the great fish. Jonah did not throw himself overboard; he was thrown. Jonah did not put himself into the fish; he was swallowed. He did not save himself from the fish's belly; he was vomited out. It was all done TO him.

Neither do we kill our Old Adam. We can't. We like him too much. We enjoy him too much. We don't like being killed.

So God, in His mercy, puts to death the unbelief in us. When our head-knowledge is right, but the trust of our heart is still divided, God saves us by smashing our wrong beliefs. This is not a happy and fun thing. It hurts. A lot. But God is patient and will continue being faithful to us until His work of death/resurrection in us accomplishes what He desires.

Why Moses and Elijah?

'Tis good, Lord, to be here,
Thy beauty to behold,
where Moses and Elijah stand,
Thy messengers of old.

The collect for Transfiguration used to say "has confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of the fathers" but now it says "by the testimony of Moses and Elijah." So my mind stumbled over that while Pastor was saying the words during the prayer. But it got me to thinking during the readings and the sermon. WHY Moses and Elijah? Why were they the ones on the mountain?

And here's my suspicion. They were (if my memory is working right) the only ones who
1) saw God, and
2) had their lives threatened for being faithful prophets.

Abraham and Jacob and Joshua saw God.
All sorts of prophets were either killed by their people, or were in danger of being killed by their hearers: Jeremiah, David, Isaiah, etc.

But I can't think of anybody but Moses and Elijah who were there with God, talking to Him, not necessarily face-to-face, but physically present with Him, AND who were with God at that moment because their lives were in danger due to their preaching.

Today's Laugh

Two trucks loaded with a thousand copies of Roget's Thesaurus collided as they left a New York publishing house last Thursday, according to the Associated Press. Witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

2 Kings 2:10

Today's Old Testament was the story of Elijah's ascension. When Elijah and Elisha had crossed to the east side of the Jordan, with all those seminarians watching from the west side, Elisha said,

"Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me." So Elijah said, "You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless..."

Cathy asked during Bible class about that. Why is it a hard thing?

Pastor answered that all pastors speak God's word (which IS what the "portion of the spirit" is for in the first place!), but sometimes there are those who are especially gifted at preaching and teaching, through no strength of their own, purely as a gift of God's grace to the people to whom that pastor ministers.

There's something that he didn't say that I can say because I'm not a pastor. Some pastors have suffered greatly through circumstances with their own sinful flesh or with the world around them or with the accusations of Satan, "more than their share" it sometimes seems to the onlookers. It is these pastors who are especially broken and impotent and beggars before God. They know their own sin deeply and painfully and are dependent upon Jesus' mercy. Because they so desperately cling to God's grace alone, knowing NO merit in themselves, they are made able by the Spirit to preach Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus. Their weakness means that they have nothing to give of their own selves, and thus will never never never turn their people back to their own strength either. It's what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 11-12. So for the pastor to have a "double portion of the Spirit," he will most likely experience a double realization of his sin and weakness. And like Elijah said, that's hard.

Like as if the story of Elijah's ascension doesn't already bring to mind too much the events from six years ago, now I've got these thoughts rattling around in my mind too.

Clam Sauce

Gary came home one day last week to discover that we were having spaghetti for supper which made his little tastebuds water in anticipation. He offered to go get some hamburger out of the freezer, but I was planning to serve plain marinara sauce. (Cheaper without meat, y'know!) But he was wanting it a little more dressed up, so he suggested clam sauce too. Clam sauce is more trouble than opening a jar of spaghetti sauce from the store, but easier than thawing and frying up some hamburger. So clam sauce it was.

When we lived in St Louis, we liked the restaurant Spaghetti Factory. Our favorite dinner there was the plate with half red-sauce and half clam-sauce. Over the years, I tried to copy the recipe, and we figured I had come up with something passable. When we patronized the restaurant during a Higher Things conference recently, we were surprised to find that we liked my clam sauce even better than what the restaurant served. Woo hoo!

4 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped.

Whisk* into butter:
1/3 cup flour**

Then stir in till smooth:
1 cup milk
2 cans minced clams***

Cook over medium heat, stirring nearly constantly.
2 or more cloves minced garlic
(or a hefty amount of powdered garlic)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
salt if needed

When thickened, add
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Swiss cheese.

Serve over hot cooked spaghetti.
Makes enough sauce for about 10 ounces of dry spaghetti.

* To make a white sauce or gravy, I prefer not to whisk in the flour and then add the milk. It's easier to place both the milk and the flour into an old peanut butter jar, screw on a lid tightly, and shake it up like crazy. Then pour the liquid/flour mixture into the butter, and continue from there with the sauce or gravy over the heat.

** You gluten-intolerant people can make that 2.5 Tbsp of cornstarch.

*** I usually use the cans that are the size of tuna cans, about 6-7 ounces each. This week I used two 10-oz cans because they were actually cheaper than the smaller ones. (Not per-ounce cheaper, but just cheaper cheaper.) Also, be sure to use the clam juice in the recipe. Do not drain the clams and waste that precious liquid.

Today's Laugh

A man, his wife, and his mother-in-law went on vacation to the Holy Land. While they were there, the mother-in-law passed away.

The undertaker told them, "You can have her shipped home for $12,000, or you can bury her here in the Holy Land for $500."

The man thought about it and told him he would just have her shipped home.

The undertaker asked, "Why would you spend that much money to ship your mother-in-law home, when it would be wonderful to have her buried here and spend a small fraction of that cost?"

The man replied, "A man died here 2000 years ago, was buried here, and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can't take that chance."