Saturday, November 14, 2009

What Now?

There's an odd "lost" sort of laziness that overwhelms when a person's been running around crazily for far too long, trying to accomplish only what is most urgent, and then things settle down a bit. All those important things that you've been putting off --because something else was more urgent-- can now be tackled. But for years you've been teaching yourself to make those important things into a lower priority. And now what? I don't have the will or the energy to tackle what I ought. But I also know I shouldn't take up a new project that will give me an excuse to dawdle on the things I ought to be doing.

I need to learn to not freak out about having some time occasionally to rest or play ... or even to work on some of those jobs that should've been done a year ago but that we could live without.

Today's Laugh

An Irish farmer named Seamus had a car accident. In court, the lorry company's hotshot solicitor was questioning Seamus. "Didn't you say to the police at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine'?" asked the solicitor.

Seamus responded: "Well, I'll tell you what happened. I had just loaded my favorite cow, Bessie, into the ..."

"I didn't ask for any details," the solicitor interrupted. "Just answer the question. Did you not say at the scene of the accident, 'I'm fine'?"

Seamus said, "Well, I had just got Bessie into the trailer and I was driving down the road ..."

The solicitor interrupted again and said, "Your Honor, I am trying to establish the fact that, at the scene of the accident, this man told the police on the scene that he was fine. Now several weeks after the accident, he is trying to sue my client. I believe he is a fraud. Please tell him to simply answer the question."

By this time, the judge was fairly interested in Seamus's answer and said to the solicitor, "I'd like to hear what he has to say about his favorite cow, Bessie."

Seamus thanked the judge and proceeded. "Well, as I was saying, I had just loaded Bessie, my favorite cow, into the trailer and was driving her down the road when this huge lorry and trailer came through a stop sign and hit my trailer right in the side. I was thrown into one ditch and Bessie was thrown into the other. I was hurt, very bad like, and didn't want to move. However, I could hear old Bessie moaning and groaning. I knew she was in terrible pain just by her groans. Shortly after the accident, a policeman on a motorbike turned up. He could hear Bessie moaning and groaning so he went over to her. After he looked at her and saw her condition, he took out his gun and shot her between the eyes. Then the policeman came across the road, gun still in hand, looked at me, and said, "How are you feeling?"

"Now what the hell would you have said?"

Friday, November 13, 2009


The trees in the yard are done dropping their leaves. Andrew cleaned the gutters this week.

I've gotten to where I hate going out at night. The days are short. I want to be in the house with too many lights turned on. Driving around for errands in the evening is just so .... dark.

My mom was planning to come visit next week. But the person she was riding with had a change of plans. Sadness. Oh well, another time.

Katie and Alia are coming to visit for a few days at New Year's.

We attended "The Complete Works of Shakespeare -- Abridged" this evening at the Lutheran high school. Funny! Silly! Lots of laughs! The friends we went to see were some of the best in the play.

Maggie finished a math workbook today. It's for the first semester of third grade, and it's information we covered in other textbooks. So this was review and extra drill work. But she seems able now to do problems like 63+19 or 63-19 in her head. And she scored a 90% on her test at the end of the book. Yippee!

The folks at Gary's work have been telling him since he started that he needs to watch The Office. He started watching old episodes in the last week or so. They are hilarious! How can anybody be as self-consumed as the boss in the show? And how come we find it funny? But we do.

Didn't feel so great last weekend. Not sick. But didn't feel like eating, and slept a lot. Much better now, but still not back to the momentum I had there for most of fall.

We woke up this morning to find the pressure tank leaking. The main shut-off valve for the house's plumbing is where the water comes out of the pressure tank. But I wasn't figuring out how to stop the leak between the well and the shut-off valve. I'm so glad for a plumber that I trust and who was available to come help us this morning. It's so wonderful to be able to trust a carpenter, a plumber, and a car mechanic ... and to know that those three men are able to guide me to trustworthy tradesmen/craftsmen in other areas.

A lot of dust bunnies and cobwebs have been cleared out of the section of the basement that got wet today.

Kids were shown how to shut off the water to the house if they should ever need to know. It's so frustrating to have water coming in and not being able to stop it. But now we all know how.


Ah, memories of Charles Froehlich -- the best teacher I ever had!

Every Friday-the-13th when I had Prof Froehlich, he would mention triskaidekaphobia. Translated literally from the Greek, that's 3-and-10-fear, or the fear of the number 13. I know quite a few of my blog readers are married to people who would've heard the same thing from the same dear man every Friday-the-13th.

So this morning, after chapel, the headmistress does what she does every day, and asks the little kids for the date. And with mention that it's Friday, the 13th of November, I lean over to Andrew and mention triskaidekaphobia. Moments later, I laughed as Pastor (who was in my Greek class too) brings up triskaidekaphobia. He tried to get the kids to figure it out, but all they could figure was something to do with superstition or Friday-the-13th. So I was finally permitted to answer.

Those funny little things about an awesome teacher sure do stick with you for a long, long time!

Today's Laugh

A man was applying for a job as a prison guard. The warden said, "Now these are real tough guys in here. Do you think you can handle it?"

"No problem," the applicant replied, "If they don't behave, out they go!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Today's Laugh

In England, if you commit a crime, the police don't have a gun and you don't have a gun. If you commit a crime, the police will say, "Stop, or I'll say stop again."
-- Robin Williams

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Will to Win

I've been amazed at some of the first-person sources we've heard recently as Andrew and I study the American Revolution. I had learned in school that the Americans used guerilla warfare tactics against the British, and this played a significant role in winning the war. The accounts, from both the Brits and the colonists, are shockingly similar to today's American complaints about the terrorists we are fighting.

During the Revolution, the Americans would not fight according to the generally-accepted rules of warfare. The Americans would use women and children as spies and couriers. The British thought it was dishonorable to attack civilians, so the American soldiers blended in and looked like civilians. The Americans used the Brits' sense of fair play against them. The Americans had the will to win, no matter what it took, including doing things that might have seemed like "cheating" in the war.

You'd almost be tempted to think that the audiobook was trying to make some point about the similarities between the American militiamen from 230 years ago and the Muslim terrorists today. But it's not likely; this series was produced in the late 1980s.

Whether we agree with the American military strategies during the Revolution, whether we agree with the jihadists' military strategies today, there is at least one thing they have in common -- the will to win.

Cal Thomas wrote Tuesday about America's desire to "play nice" in the war today. We refuse to be politically incorrect. Our leaders punish anything they perceive (or imagine) to be bigotry. We want to preserve freedom so much that we let those who wish to destroy us use their freedom to undermine our safety.

And what is the result? While they want to stamp us out, wipe us off the face of the map, we don't have the same perspective. We want to be nice, we want to get along with them, and we really would prefer that people don't get hurt in this war. We don't even want to hurt feelings of people who are giving indications that they might be the enemy.

Unless one side changes its perspective to match the other's, there's really only one outcome possible.

For the sake of the soldiers who are out there, protecting their country, their families, their way of life, their freedom --and ours-- America's leaders really need to decide that it's more important for our soldiers to win than it is for all of us to be nice.

Today's Laugh

While talking to a potential recruit, the military recruiter said, "Exactly what kind of job are you looking for in the military?"

The high-school kid said, "I'm looking for something with an enlistment bonus of about $20,000, where I won't have to work too hard, and won't have to deploy overseas."

The recruiter said, "Well, what if I could hook you up with a skill that allowed you to come straight in as an E-7, where you'll only work weekdays, and you can have the base of your choice and stay there as long as you want?"

The young recruit sat up straight and said, "Wow! Are you kidding?"

The recruiter replied, "Yeah, but you started it."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


A year or so ago, I was in love with thyme. Then I went on a rosemary jag. This summer I couldn't get enough cilantro. So here's an idea -- what if I tried to grow some indoors in a pot?

Planted seeds and kept them watered. Spindly little seedlings (that looked so puny compared to the seedlings when they grew outdoors in the garden) needed sun. So into the front bay window they went. But once that little pot moved away from my kitchen sink, I could no longer remember to spritz it with water several times a day. As the seedlings looked more and more pitiful, I discovered that there were some tiny cilantro plants, with sturdy stalks, in the garden.

Hey, I could transplant them and bring them indoors! They didn't transplant well. Pout. I think I'm going to have to pay money to the produce department for an occasional cilantro fix this winter.

How DO people start their plants indoors in late winter and early spring? Every time I try growing things indoors, they just turn into little thread-like green things that can't even stand up in their potting soil.

Today's Laugh

Dave Barry writes:
Camping is nature's way of promoting the motel business.

Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear.

Eating rice cakes is like chewing on a foam coffee cup, only less filling.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Critical Thinking

Last summer my friend Erin brought up the problem she has with teaching her kids to think critically about the subjects they were studying. We talked a bit about how it's a slow process, and how she's doing all the right things to help the kids begin to see things from the right perspective ... as opposed to absorbing whatever line the textbook company throws at them.

This weekend I realized something else: if they absorb The Party Line when they're little, it's not going to do them major harm -- especially if Mom and Dad are helping them learn to evaluate in small doses, or asking thought-provoking questions. What hurts is when students are still unquestioningly absorbing the PC spin in their mid- to late teens.

Andrew and I are listening to an audiobook on the Revolutionary War right now. In conjunction with that, we borrowed Liberty's Kids for Maggie (and possibly for solidifying names, dates, places for Andrew and me). I knew the video would be from the perspective that the Founding Fathers were flawless heroes. I was a little uneasy with that, but finally decided that first we need to learn the facts stories, and then we can evaluate what the different sides believed.

Turns out that I was not impressed with Liberty's Kids. I know it works great for some families. For our purposes, with the ages of our kids, there wasn't enough information to bother with the time spent watching the show. I wasn't surprised by the winner-writes-the-history perspective, and wasn't surprised by the number of women and minorities in the stories. But I was very surprised at how peripheral the Boston Tea Party was to the episode on the Boston Tea Party. Thinking it might be a fluke, we watched the next episode. But the only thing we learned about the Coercive Acts was that British soldiers were quartered in colonists' homes; the other 95% of the show was irrelevant for our purposes.

Today's Laugh

Right now, I'm having amnesia and deja-vu at the same time. I think I've forgotten this before.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Egg-Roll Guts

Upon Glenda's request, I shall share one of our favorite things to do with cabbage. It's not much of a recipe. Basically, what I do is make the inside of eggrolls, but I don't put the stir-fry into the [refined] wrappers and deep-fry them.

a little sausage (optional)
oil for stir-frying
an egg or two
some mushroom (optional)
some carrot
some onion
lots of cabbage
ginger, salt, pepper, minced garlic (fresh or dried)
pinch of sugar (optional)
some soy sauce

Stir-fry together some onions and carrots. Usually I slice the onions thinly and then quarter the round slices. I usually matchstick-cut the carrots. But chopped would work. Grated would work. If you've got fresh mushrooms, it's great to add several of them, finely chopped or thinly sliced or grated. I thawed some bulk pork sausage yesterday for a recipe I didn't prepare, so I fried about 3-4 ounces of that in the skillet with the onions.

While stir-frying the onions, beat an egg or two in a small bowl, then pour it into a small skillet and fry it like you were making scrambled eggs, but don't stir them up. Let them cook solid and flat. When cooked through, flip your pancake-shaped egg onto the cutting board. Cut it into slivers, and add it to the veggies when you're adding the spices. (The egg is optional. Lots of times I make it vegetarian.)

After a few minutes of sauteeing the onions, I add slivered (or chopped or grated) cabbage to the big pan. There should a lot more cabbage than onion and carrot. Today I'm using two onions, four carrots, and a medium head of cabbage.

When the veggies are cooked to your satisfaction (which will only take a couple of minutes if you grated them, or maybe 10-15 if they're in larger slices), season with a pinch of ginger, a pinch of black pepper, several pinches of garlic, a touch of red pepper flakes if you want some heat, and some soy sauce. If it tastes like it needs more salt, add some or increase the amount of soy sauce.

Today's Laugh

After spending nearly half a day enduring the long lines, surly clerks, and insane regulations at the Department of Motor Vehicles, a lady stops at a toy store to pick up a baseball bat as a gift for her son.

"Cash or charge?" the clerk asks.

"Cash," the customer snaps. Then, apologizing for her rudeness, she explains, "I’ve spent the afternoon at the DMV. I am way past sane."

"Shall I gift-wrap the bat?" the clerk asks sweetly, "or are you going back there?"