Saturday, March 21, 2009

Not Much to Show

I've been doing some research on icons. Although I'm not dredging up the information I wanted to find, there is one thing that I've discovered. I could never be Orthodox. The more I read about the icons and what individual ones are all about, the more I see how much I need the Lutheran perspective on how we are simultaneously saint and sinner, and how God's word of forgiveness declares us to be what we are not and begins to make us into what God would have us to be.

I really need to get around to sewing a bridesmaid's dress. I keep finding other things to do first. But pretty soon I'm going to run out of time. Better get started.

We did almost no housecleaning this week.

I sure did like the old WordPerfect programs. But the last few updates have made it more and more like Word. So I am trying to learn to make Word work for me as well as WordPerfect. I used to use Word when it didn't matter much, and haul out WordPerfect when I needed a more complex word-processing task. Boy, Word is a lot less intuitive, a lot harder to adjust, and a lot harder to find answers for in its "help desk." But I have made a great deal of headway on finding its shortcuts and solving problems. Still have a long way to go.

I stopped at one of those big, busy areas of town for shopping today, at a store I seldom visit. There is SO much cool stuff in stores that I don't even know about. Things that could make life simpler. But I don't know it exists, and I somehow manage without. But boy, oh boy, the yummy smells in those parts of town, where there are coffee shops and bakeries and restaurants galore. Mmmmm. I wonder how fat I'd be if I had the money to indulge in all those treats, because I don't think I have the self-discipline to deny myself those things with the tempting aromas.

I learned to prune apple trees today from somebody who actually knows how to do it. Up till now, I've been faking it with my pruning. I did find out that fruit trees and other trees need to be pruned quite differently. Oops . Sometimes I pruned fruit trees/vines as if they were decorative trees or shade trees, while I pruned non-fruit trees as if they were fruit trees. Well, I suppose my trees will grow back to cover over my mistakes, and I can do better with my pruning in the future, shaping the trees in the direction that I wanted but didn't know how to achieve. It always shocks me how naked and near-dead a properly pruned tree looks before spring growth erupts.

Today's Laugh

A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows. (Doug Larson)

Friday, March 20, 2009


Sixty little pea-seeds in the ground this morning. I tried soaking them in water first, to encourage germination. I've heard it helps speed things up; I hope I didn't ruin them. They're in the little patch on the south side of the garage where we planted last year's lettuce and tomatoes. Rosie came to "help" by lying on the nice dirt, in the sun, with a human there to pet her ... hiding the seeds I'd carefully spaced on top of last year's mulch. She was summarily removed to the wood-pile nearby.

Even though it's our sunniest, warmest spot, boy, that is some cold, cold dirt!

Today's Laugh

A blonde is in her back yard crying. Her neighbor asks sympathetically, "Why are you crying?"

The blonde replies, "My father called. My mom just died." So her neighbor gives her some coffee and consoles her.

The next day, the blonde is still crying. Her neighbor repeats her question, and the blonde replies, "I just got off the phone with my sister. Her mother died too!"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Successful Schools

Take a toaster. Use it to make yourself a milkshake.

What? You say it doesn't work? You say a toaster is designed to make toast? A blender is for making milkshakes? You mean to say that different tools are intended to be used to accomplish different tasks? Really?

What is a school supposed to accomplish?

Some of us think a school is supposed to teach kids to read, write, and do math. And to think! We all want kids to learn those things.

But what if a school is supposed to teach kids to be the citizens that the intellectual elite want them to be? To be dependent upon the government? To be good little consumers? To toe the intellectual line?

How do the schools get "fixed" if we can't agree on whether they're supposed to make milkshakes or toast?

Go read Jane's initial thoughts on the Gatto book she's currently reading!!!

Psalm 51:8

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean.
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Make me hear joy and gladness,
that the bones You have broken may rejoice.
Hide Your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.

HEAR joy and gladness?

Usually we talk about joy and gladness being something we FEEL. Not hear. How does a person hear joy and gladness?

I betcha it's got something to do with the absolution and the sacraments. The hyssop and the washing -- connected to the worship at the tabernacle. Sacramental almost.

Make me hear joy and gladness.

My sins, O Lord, against me rise,
I mourn them with contrition.
Grant, though Thy death and sacrifice,
to me a full remission.
Lord, show before the Father's throne
that Thou didst for my sins atone;
so shall I from my load be freed.
Thy Word I plead.
Keep me, O Lord, each hour of need.
(TLH 319)

That'd be "hearing joy and gladness."

Today's Laugh

What do you get when a pterodactyl bites your arm?

A dino-sore.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Today's Laugh

A magician was working on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. The audience would be different each week, so the magician allowed himself to do the same tricks over and over again. There was only one problem: the captain's parrot saw the shows each week and began to understand how the magician did every trick. Once he understood he started shouting in the middle of the show: "Look, it's not the same hat" or "Look, he is hiding the flowers under the table" or "Hey, why are all the cards the Ace of Spades?" The magician was furious but couldn't do anything; it was, after all, the captain's parrot.

One day the ship had an accident and sank. The magician found himself on a piece of wood in the middle of the ocean with the parrot, of course. They stared at each other with hate, but did not utter a word. This went on for one day and then another and another. After a week the parrot said, "OK, I give up. Where's the boat?"


It used to be that kids had dogs, and grown-ups were busy with job and house and their children. Today it seems that the grown-ups have the responsibility and/or pleasure of pets, but the kids are too busy.


On Sunday, driving from the place where we dropped off Paul, over to our friends' house, we took the scenic route through the Kettle-Moraine country, past ponds and farms, and through small villages. As we approached one village, we assumed somebody was having a party. But the number of cars parked along the street didn't diminish as we continued further into town; it increased. Cars parked up and down every street, and solidly lining every road into town.

Then we saw the people dressed in green. And people wearing green antennae. And then we caught sight of the county highway packed with people. Not knowing if the road was blocked, and unable to see around the corner due to all the crowds, Gary was trying to get someone to tell him if the road was passable. Finally, a sober man, not dressed in green, who was apparently there for crowd-control, told him that technically the road was not closed, but if he drove down it, to go slowly and watch out for all the drunkards who would stumble right into the path of the car.

We made it through. But we sure did see what the sober man was talking about!

Maggie asked why people would celebrate St Patrick's Day by getting drunk. That's not the easiest thing to explain. But Gary said it was the reason the bishop Patrick wanted to bring Jesus to the people of Ireland, to save them from their sins.

I bind this day to me forever,
by power of faith, Christ's incarnation,
His baptism in the Jordan River,
His cross of death for my salvation,
His bursting from the spiced tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom,
I bind unto myself today.

Against the demon snares of sin,
the vice that gives temptation force,
the natural lusts that war within,
the hostile foes that mar my course,
or few or many, far or nigh,
in every place and in all hours,
against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Maybe He Was Right

Jesus told the disciples again and again and again that He would be betrayed and tortured and killed, and on the third day He would rise. Did the disciples get it? Nope. Sometimes they heard Him and objected. Sometimes it just went in one ear and out the other.

But Mary heard. She had been rescued from the demons and from her whoring. She sat at His feet and soaked up every word. She clung to Him. During Holy Week, she anointed Him -- Jesus says it was for His burial.

Do the men get it? Still they don't.

In our story for today, a short little story, Mark 14:12-31, we hear THREE times that Jesus showed the disciples that He knew what was coming.

1. He told them where to find John Mark's house for the celebration of the Passover: "A man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him." Now, I don't know about you, but I know I'd be pretty freaked out if somebody told me to walk into the city, and I'd meet a guy with a pitcher of water, and I was to follow him, and ask to use his house, and he'd agree to it, and then it all happened just like that. I'd be thinking, "How did Jesus know that I'd see somebody, and it would be the right somebody, and that he'd lead me to the house where they believe in Him, and are willing to give us their house for the evening?" (Which, by the way, turned out not to be just that evening, but, really, at least a couple of months, until Pentecost or beyond.)

2. He told them that one of the Twelve would betray Him. "Who? Us? Me? Nah." But sure enough, it only took a few hours before they found out that one of them had betrayed Jesus. Oh my goodness! Jesus was right about that too!

3. He told them that they would abandon Him. And He even gave the specifics about Peter denying Him three times before morning. And that happened too, just as Jesus had said. And we know that this "clicked" in Peter's brain, because it was the second cock-a-doodle-doo that jarred Peter's memory about what Jesus had said about his denial.

And not only those things in today's story, but there was also
4. the whole business about where to find the donkeys on Palm Sunday, and even how the conversation would go between the disciples and the guy who had the donkeys.

And in every one of these bits of the story, Jesus "predicted the future." He knew what would happen. He told the disciples what would happen. And it did. Just like He said it would. Seems to me like it would be pretty freaky if somebody I knew was telling me things like that, all of which came to pass. And not just coming true in a year or in a decade, but in a few minutes or a few hours.

And yet, what did Jesus say right smack-dab in the middle of "you will abandon Me" and "Peter will deny Me"?

After I have been raised, I will go before you into Galilee.

After He was raised?

Didn't they hear that part?

Well, no. They hadn't heard it earlier either.

All this musing is intended in no way to pick on Peter, James, John, Andrew, and Co. It's because I do the same thing. Probably you do too. Jesus tells us that we will have tribulation in the world. Do we still believe in the theology of glory? Yup. Jesus tells us that "this is the victory that overcomes the world -- even our faith." In the midst of the despair of tribulation, do we believe that? Welllll, there's that pesky sinful nature. Jesus tells us that He will hang onto us and save us, even though we see in ourselves sin and rebellion and unbelief. But we insist on believing that He will love us because we're oh-so-good, or despise us because we're oh-so-bad.

In spite of overwhelming evidence that Jesus knew what was coming in the next hours and days, still His disciples didn't get it that He would be killed and rise again the third day as He said. Good grief, even the Pharisees who killed Him knew the rumor about His rising on the third day, and they expected the disciples to steal His body, so that's why they convinced Pilate to seal the tomb and set a guard there. But the disciples? Nope.

And yet, when it comes to food and clothing, when it comes to preservation of my faith, when it comes to Jesus' triumphing in the end, putting to death Death itself, do I think He's right? He sure does have a good track record.

Unbelief is amazingly persistent.

Simon the Leper

And being in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. Mark 14:3

When I was pregnant with my second child, the boy-name I liked was Matthew. Gary wanted it to be Philip. Whatever the girl-name was, we agreed on that one. But we didn't agree on the boy-name. So the plan was to name him Philip unless he was born on a particular day, in which case he would be Matthew. He was born, we were calling him Philip, and the birth certificate was turned in to the county when I realized that he was born on the day that meant we were going to name him Matthew. Oops. Philip he is.

Turns out that, in the group of Rachel's and Matt's and Philip's friends, most of them are named Matthew. Matt has got ... what?... like, FIVE buddies named Matt. Awfully handy for Philip to have his own name instead of a repeat of everybody else's name. All those Matts have "alternate" names, such as going by a portion of their last name, or maybe by their Belegarth fight-name.

Yesterday morning we began our focus for the next two weeks on the Passion according to St Mark. At the beginning is the anointing of Jesus. There are some who think that Mary of Bethany may also be known as Mary Magdalene, and some who think likewise that Simon the leper was also known as Lazarus (which means "God is my help").

I've heard people say that Lazarus cannot be Simon the leper because, well, because his name is Lazarus, not Simon. Of course, we do have an indication that Jesus gave people new names: "Blessed are you, Simon bar-Jonah ... And I also say to you that you are Peter ..."

While we were on this story yesterday, though, I just started giggling to think about it. Jesus had Simons comin' out the whazoo. Two of the apostles were Simons. One of His brothers was Simon too. Then there was this Simon who is very likely the guy He raised from the dead, the dear friend with whom Jesus stayed when He was in Jerusalem. I couldn't help thinking, "No wonder He wanted to pass out nicknames to some of those Simons. It helps us keep 'em all straight."

Monday, March 16, 2009


All the sheets washed and then hung on the line to dry in the sweet outdoor air and sunshine.

Windows open.

Bikes taken out of storage so that we could ride to chapel this afternoon instead of driving the car.

People bustin' on out of their homes, walking, jogging, biking, hanging clothes on their clotheslines.

Sitting on the deck --with nary a coat or blanket-- for Maggie's literature read-aloud today.


On my homeschool email list today, somebody posted a link to one of my kids' favorite webcomics, and this one just fits my daughter perfectly! She gets so creeped out by wind-farms, and I've never understood it. This comic makes me think it must be because she's read sci-fi that I'm clueless about.

Yesterday, Gary and Maggie and I were driving through the boonies of Wisconsin, having dropped Paul off in Oshkosh for his ride back to college after spring break. As we drove past a wind-farm, Gary thought maybe we should stop and listen. We've heard people complain about the terrible noise from those windmill generators. So we parked right across the road from one of the turbines. We opened the car windows and listened. Okay, you could hear something. But not right at the start. We had to sit in the quiet for several seconds before our ears attuned to the quiet whirring of the windmill. But when a car appeared on the horizon (I mean, like, a good half-mile away or more) the sound of the engine completely drowned out the sound of the windmill. A dishwasher makes way more noise than those windmills do. My stove-vent on LOW makes more noise than that windmill did -- and we purchased one of the quiet vents. After our stop-n-listen yesterday, I am entirely skeptical about the "noise pollution" argument about wind-farms.

Today's Laugh

What do psychologists say when they greet one another?

"You're fine. How am I?"

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Today's Laugh

Q: Why couldn't Helen Keller drive?
A: She's a woman.

Q: Why do brides wear white?
A: Appliances always come in white.