Friday, May 28, 2010


Matt's graduation from med school was last Friday. Nobody from our family was able to go except me. It was enjoyable to be there with Rachel, saving seats for Matt's family, chatting and waiting with her during the hour before the ceremony.

Rachel said half the graduating class were girls. The class who graduated 50 years ago was honored at last week's ceremony; the names were listed in the program; only three girls were in that class.

The introductory speaker was ... uh ... well ... stunning. He was a white guy (and I am assuming, a rich white guy), and nearly half his speech was about the unfair advantages that rich white guys have. He talked about how wretched our health care system is, and the disparity of care available to those of different races and economic levels. The second big chunk of his speech was about the genome project, and how that will allow health care to be personalized in never-before-conceived ways. Yes, it's expensive. But yowza, it's going to provide awesome care for those who can pay. What a great thing, he exuded. The conclusion of his speech was trying to make sense out of those two entirely contradictory points. He asked if we will ensure an end to the disparity, and begin to provide all our best medical care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay? Or will we use these wonderful new scientific advances only for those who have the financial resources to access such high levels of medical care? And his answer was, "We will do both."

If that speech weren't for-real, it would be amusing.

Here's a picture of the stage. I was impressed by all the plants. A variety of greenery was scattered across the front of the stage, down on the floor in front of the stage, at the stairs, across the back of the stage. I wondered if they purchased them or rented them. So beautiful, but so much expense for a brief two hours. (And this attitude is why I'm not in charge of decorating ANYthing!!)

The main speaker for the graduation was a Canadian professor who specializes in the history of medicine. He was delightful! He had serious things to say, but sprinkled throughout with non-distracting light-heartedness and jokes. He seemed very genuine and not preachy. He began with the statement that it's fashionable to complain our health-care system. He admitted that there are some problems, but that the graduates could come to Canada and work in their system for a while, discovering both the benefits and flaws of that system. He said all health-care systems will have their positives and negatives. But what we need to focus on is how well-trained our doctors are, and how much suffering in the world has been alleviated in the last century. He said we can complain about who pays and how much, but we seldom reflect on just how healthy we are. We take for granted that we have antibiotics to easily cure things that used to be deadly. People who get cancer often survive it. Women don't routinely die from child-bearing. Broken bones and ankles seldom leave people lame. We can cure some deafness. Dr Bliss reminded us that these wonders are not the sign of a "broken health care system." At one point it took a lot of restraint to keep from breaking out into applause in the middle of his speech. (Maybe I should've gone ahead...) That guy deserved a standing ovation.

All my pictures of the stage, or of Matt walking across the stage, are mega-blurry. This one (blurry though it be) isn't as bad as some of the others. This shows the members of the class taking the Hippocratic Oath. (By the way, nothing in there about refusing to administer an abortifacient, although the oath was closer to the "classic version" than the "modern version.")

The dean did not ask us to hold our applause for individual graduates. However, people were considerate for the most part: short, polite clapping from the audience for all, with a noticeably more vigorous applause from the grad's family. Only for three graduates was the family's applause and cheering so loud and long that it rudely interrupted the flow of the ceremony. (All three grads had some obvious physical traits in common.) I appreciated the lady reading the names, for she had the courtesy to wait until the wild cheering died down, so that the names of the next graduates weren't drowned out.

Being the wearer of ugly orthopedic shoes, I noticed that nearly all the females wore pretty, sexy, strappy, black shoes with heels. When shoes are the only "style" you have extending out from under your graduation gown, those strappy heels looked really nice. I felt like a frump. But I was impressed with all those gals for being able to walk smoothly across the stage in high, spike-heeled sandals, and not a one fell on her face or slipped on the stairs.

The thesis topics for the PhD's and MA's were listed in the program. One girl's thesis was on the peril of parents' imposing their religious values on their children (particularly with regard to health care). "Imposing religious values." Gee, I wonder if she came into her project biased in one direction or another?? Do ya think?

In one of the speeches, the doctor quoted Thomas Jefferson who wrote in the Declaration of Independence, "All men and women are created equal." Oh. Funny. That's not what my encyclopedia says. And that's not what's recorded in our history book. Y'know, if you want to say that "all men and women are created equal," then go ahead and say it. But don't tell us that you're quoting Jefferson as he wrote in the Declaration.

During the ceremony, they asked the spouses of the graduates to rise, and applauded them. Then they asked the same of the grads' parents. I thought that was classy.

Matt and his proud parents!

The concluding speech began with "You deserve to be happy." I was squirming a bit in my chair as the president headed off into his speech this way. But by the time he approached the end of his speech, he was explaining to the graduates that happiness can be found only in serving others, in giving, in self-sacrifice. Well, that's not such a bad way to end the ceremony after all.

Today's Laugh

Andrew reports on a car's bumper sticker he saw yesterday:

Honk if you're Amish.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Motivation to Serve

It is SO much easier to do what needs to be done for the people around you when you can do it freely and cheerfully. As soon as you're being told to hurry up, or how much people are depending on you, or to do a better job, or to set aside other priorities so as to focus on this-or-that one, it can become paralyzing. That doesn't mean we shouldn't have rules or demands. But boy oh boy, I find myself much more efficient and effective, much more of benefit to my neighbor, when I'm motivated by the gospel than when I'm being cajoled by the law (with all my failures staring me in the face).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ugly Couch

Our loveseats are in lousy condition. We bought them used about 10 years ago from our doctor's office when they closed and moved to a new building in the next village over. I hate doing schoolwork with the kids in the living room because it's so hard to get up out of the couch. (Notice I did not say "off" the couch. "Out of" is a more appropriate preposition.) We keep clearing and cluttering and re-clearing the table in the breakfast nook because it's so uncomfortable for me to sit on the couch when we do schoolwork.

When hunting for some furniture for Paul's new apartment, I stumbled across a nice little loveseat at Goodwill that sat high. I loved it, but the van was full of Paul's furniture. So I checked back the next day after we'd emptied the van. That pretty little loveseat was gone.

But it made me covet a new couch.

I've been regularly hitting Salvation Army because it's right by the dentist and the orthodontist (where we seem to be regularly these days).

This week I sat on a couch that I'd ignored on previous visits because it's so ugly*. Goodness! That couch feels nice. It sits high. It's the shape we like best. It seems in very good condition. I googled the name-brand, and it appears to be from one of those expensive, well-crafted furniture builders. And it was less than 1/4 of the price of what you can find at the cheap dept stores when the couches are on sale.

So here's the question. It's in the garage right now. It "should" be re-upholstered because it's ugly. I will not get around to re-upholstering. We could buy slip-covers, but right now all my energies are being devoted to editing, and I can't shop for slip-covers. Another possibility is that we could paint the living room. The couch would still be in a fabric I don't care for, but c'mon, a pink/blue/green couch is going to be MEGA-ugly in a living room with burgundy walls!!

If we bring that couch indoors, and if we live with its ugliness for a month, I will have no incentive to fix it. We'll just keep living with it. (I just can't care about "pretty" as a proper woman should.) So do we leave it in the garage? Or do we bring it inside so that I don't have to grunt-like-an-old-person whenever I stand up from having been sitting on the couch?

* Footnote: To be fair, I suppose this couch might look very nice in a room that had pale-rose walls, carpet and chairs and window-treatments to match the different colors in the upholstery. In my living room, however, it will be hideous.


The huge amounts of black smoke would've made LOST fans think the smoke monster had gotten off the island. I assumed someone was burning a tire.

It wasn't a tire. Soon I saw flames. The flames grew bigger. Does the neighbor knows what's going on? If I call 911, will they scoff at me and say, "Well, of course we know about that; it's a controled burn and everything's fine"? I checked; the fire's fuel was indeed a pile of brush that needed to be burned. But the flames were about 20' high and were way too close to the barn's roof. Just when I decided I didn't care about crying wolf and headed for the phone, I heard the sirens.

This is when the fire had died down, after the firemen had been spraying water on it for a while.

Moral of the story: I must remember that, now that we're in town, call 911 right away. There are buildings here in town, not just grass. Sometimes butting into your neighbor's business is a good thing. (That was more excitement than I wanted for the day.)


Drank three-and-a-half quarts of iced tea on Monday. Mmmmm. Maggie went to Leah's to swim. Monday was the hottest it's been since August 2008.

The sprinkler broke. With the heat, the berries and tomatoes are going to need water! Off to the hardware store after chapel.

It's good weather for sitting outdoors in the shade, editing. With a glass of water or iced tea nearby, of course!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Garden Report

Hilled the potatoes. Even the ones that were zapped by the frost seem to be recovering nicely.

Finally pruned the apple trees. One has a reasonable amount of apples for such a tiny tree. But the other has no baby apples. Maybe next year will be better.

Cherries and strawberries are growing nicely. No flowers on the raspberries and blackberries yet.

Lilacs and tulips are done. My columbine is beautiful.

After lots of weeding on Saturday, and two hours of planting on Sunday afternoon, ten tomatoes, three sweet peppers, two hot peppers, a bunch of cilantro, and a bunch of basil are snugged away to grow grow grow.

Looks like the spinach can begin to be harvested, and the romaine needs to be thinned. Onion sets are beginning to poke through; I just put them out middle of last week.

Monday, May 24, 2010

God the Father Almighty

God the Father. First person of the Trinity. Name for God. Cited in the Creed every day when we pray.

Our Father who art in heaven. "God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father ... so that we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father."

Now please be patient with my excitement in stating what may be obvious to everybody else, but wasn't obvious to me. The creed means "I believe in God the Daddy almighty." Or "I believe in God the papa all-powerful." Not some formal or distant or stuffy "father." But "daddy." And not only the daddy who loves us, but the daddy who is almighty, who has all power, and who will not allow anything to harm His dear children.

Choir Pictures

Oh. I found pictures of my own. The previous ones were stolen from Kathy. I just love the looks from Grace, Matthias, Joey, and Mark! But especially Grace.

And a snapshot where I steadied the camera before I pushed the button. Funny how that makes for much clearer pictures...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Controled Substance

The other day I was transplanting bleeding hearts from my friend Robin. Digging up the soil a bit, eliminating dandelions and other interlopers, I noticed a familiar plant. I hadn't seen any since we left our old home. I sniffed. Sure enough... it was time to invite a kitty over.

It is such a crack-up to watch a cranky middle-aged cat roll on her back, tickled to pieces, acting decidedly undignified!

(After Athena had nibbled at the mint and had her spell of silliness, she just curled up around the catnip to blissfully hang out near it, even though I was wielding a spade a mere 4' away.)

Choir Concert

Maggie's been singing with the Academy Choir since November. It's taken a LOT of trips during the school day back and forth to church, but she has improved immensely in her singing ability. And she enjoys it!

This year, for the first time, the kids gave a concert. Here are the academy and cherub choirs.

The kids were excited to get the autograph of Paul Bouman (the composer of many of the pieces they sang this year).

Many thanks to Kathy (the choir director) and the kids at school for letting Maggie be part of the group!