Saturday, July 24, 2010

Today's Laugh

Do jellyfish get gas from eating jellybeans?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Today's Laugh

While sports fishing off the Florida coast, a tourist capsized his boat. He could swim, but his fear of alligators kept him clinging to the overturned craft. Spotting an old beachcomber standing on the shore, the tourist shouted, "Are there any gators around here?!"

"Naw," the man hollered back, "they ain't been around for years!"

Feeling safe, the tourist started swimming leisurely toward the shore.

About halfway there he asked the guy, "How'd you get rid of the gators?"

"We didn't do nothin," the beachcomber said. "The sharks got 'em."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oh, Fudge!

The whole time we were reading Betsy in Spite of Herself, Maggie and I craved fudge. The teenagers in that story made fudge every time they got together at somebody's house, sometimes twice a day. We kept meaning to treat ourselves to a fudge-session, but either the days were too busy or we had quite enough fat&sugar already to be making fudge. (Uh, that second excuse was definitely mine, and not Maggie's.)

So today, being Maggie's name day,* we made the fudge.

Once upon a time I entered a bunch of cooking/baking items in the county fair. While listening to the judging (which is, incidentally, a great way to learn more about baking!) the other contestants were discussing how hard it is to make fudge in summer. They said fudge was a winter thing. Hmm. I hadn't had any problem with fudge in the summer. Turned out the same for me regardless of the season.

Not today.

Never had a problem with fudge until about five years ago, and I don't think I've gotten a batch right since. Now, this is darn tasty fudge. But it has the consistency, stretchiness, and stickiness of a caramel.

Maybe I should buy a new candy thermometer. Or maybe I should use the candy thermometer only for a guide and be sure always --every time-- to test the candy to make sure I'm not overcooking or undercooking according to the naughty thermometer. Fudge cooked to the firm ball stage is a lot stickier than caramel cooked to the same temp!

* July 22 is the Feast of St Mary Magdalene.

Chocolate Chip Shortage

My children used to think that pancakes were made of wheat flour, eggs, and milk. Then Pastor introduced my children to the concept of chocolate-chip pancakes. Now, I go to the store, buy a bag of chocolate chips and [BOOM] they vanish as a purported "breakfast ingredient." That man is a trouble-maker.

Stuff that probably only Mom will be interested in

We ran the AC earlier this week for two days. Apparently the hose was plugged. Yesterday morning I found water on the basement floor, wetting a small portion of the carpet, puddling under the laundry baskets, and being soaked up by the cardboard box that holds the Schranzes' old pin-bowling game. Shoot. We moved a lot of stuff around, got things off the floor, kept the dehumidifier going, and the problem looks to be resolved.

Yesterday were the American Idol try-outs in Milwaukee. This is Rachel's last year eligible to be a contestant. Gary had asked for the day off, thinking that Rachel and Maggie would go as contestants, and he would accompany Maggie to sign the permission slips. But he hurt his knee on Saturday. After many mega-doses of Motrin and lots of icing it, he's functioning without too many grimaces. But it would have been foolish to spend a long day at auditions. So they canceled their plans, and he had the day off yesterday for no good reason. That's a nice, comfortable, refreshing thing!

I'm making good headway on filling in around the edges of my driving patching. As I've worked with the different materials, I have been discovering that the instructions on the label are not necessarily accurate. I'm muddling through a way to patch depressions in the asphalt -- something that you're not really supposed to be able to do. Another week or so before my patches will be cured enough to begin covering them and blending them into the rest of the driveway. I'm sure this is boring-as-all-get-out to everybody else, but I'm tickled about it!

The drain-plugs in the bathrooms have been driving me bonkers since we moved in. I was ready to rip them out and go buy old-fashioned little cuppy-strainer thingies and rubber plugs. Gary said it would be too easy to lose items down the drain that way; he said we should fix the mechanics of the sliding plug. So Andrew (with a bit of help from Gary) repaired/replaced the first one. Then he did the second drain on his own. I'm so proud of him!

It's middle of summer. Why are we still needing to mow every 4 or 5 days? Wait -- that means the rain is good for the garden, right? Okay, I guess we'll try to keep a cheerful attitude about all that mowing and hay-raking.

Some friends and I were talking at a baby shower this weekend about painting. I would like to lighten up the living room and get rid of my red walls, especially now that I got this couch that will **CLASH** when I get it shampooed and brought indoors. (Shampooing it was yesterday's main goal. Didn't get done. Kinda rainy and wet outside, so may not tackle it today either.) When Julie dropped by this week, she saw the couch. She confirmed my suspicions: it is UGLY ugly UGLY beyond any hope -- like, burn-your-retinas ugly. But it's comfortable!

Today's Laugh

Three guys were fishing in a lake one day, when an angel appeared in the boat.

When the three astonished men had settled down enough to speak, the first guy asked the angel humbly, "I've suffered from back pain ever since I took shrapnel in the Vietnam War ... Could you help me?"

"Of course," the angel said, and when he touched the man's back, the man felt relief for the first time in years.

The second guy wore very thick glasses and had a hard time reading and driving. He asked if the angel could do anything about his poor eyesight. The angel smiled, removed the man's glasses and tossed them into the lake. When they hit the water, the man's eyes cleared and he could see everything distinctly.

When the angel turned to the third guy, the guy put his hands out defensively -- "Don't touch me!" he cried, "I'm on a disability pension."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Behind the Scenes at APT

It's a 10-minute piece. Not short. Discussion with Ally Carey about being at APT and "All's Well" which is playing this summer. But for those of you who've wanted to get a glimpse of the set-building studio or the dressing rooms, here's a cyber-peek.

Mark Neumann

Great quote* from Charlie this morning --

Mark Neumann can achieve a victory for Tom Barrett, but he cannot at this point achieve victory for Mark Neumann.

For non-Wisconsinites, in the primary for governor, a fiscally-sound and wildly popular Republican is running against a former Congressman. I used to respect Mark Neumann, who was once my Congressman. But in the race for governor, I have been shocked at the public sins I have seen in this Lutheran man. Every day Neumann continues in the race, every commercial that is aired, is helping the big-govt-Democrat's campaign and hurting our chances of putting Scott Walker in charge of the state's budget. Look what he's managed for Milwaukee County's budget!! I want Scott Walker taking the helm of Wisconsin.

* At least, I think this was the line. I heard it in the car while running errands. If this wasn't the exact wording, it's fairly close.

But Isn't It So Obvious It Doesn't Need to Be Said?

Proofreading yesterday, I came across the first line of a couple of prayers drawn from the Table of Duties. One began, "Heavenly Father, comfort all widows who have lost their husbands and are left all alone." The other began, "Heavenly Father, comfort all widowers who have lost their wives and are left without a spouse to love."

With my red pen in hand, I wondered if we were distinguishing between "widows who have lost their husbands" and "widows who haven't"? What kind of goofiness would that be?? Isn't "widows who have lost their husbands" a redundancy that needs to be struck, a la Strunk & White's rules for using the least amount of words possible?

I thought about that.

And I decided that proofreading theology is worlds apart from proofreading other English.

So often, in our prayers, we are redundant. We say back to God things He has said to us. We repeat ourselves. We speak words that are obvious, like "O Lord, the source of all that is good."

But why?

Because faith lives from the word. We say what is true. We agree with God. Our faith in His provision, for example, is strengthened when we hear (from pastor's mouth in catechesis, from our own mouths in prayer, or from a friend's mouth in the 'mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren') that the Lord IS "the source of all that is good."

In the prayers I was proofreading yesterday, we begin with "widows who have lost their husbands" because that loss is pertinent to what's coming up in the prayer about Jesus being our Bridegroom and providing all satisfaction and joy and comfort to those who have lost a husband. When it comes to theology and liturgy, being concise isn't always the best choice.

Today's Laugh

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Most Beautiful Window Sill

Tis the season.

Hoping for another 8-10 weeks of a window sill that remains decorated with at least this many lovelies at all times.

Lunch today was a cheese-&-tomato sandwich. (Eat your heart out, Rachel!) Home-made bread. Home-made mayonnaise. Home-grown tomatoes. Home-grown basil. I did buy the cheese.


Garden Report

Raspberries in the garden are slowing down. And that's where all the mosquitoes live. The goofy raspberries growing under the lilac bush, under the eaves of the house, those are still still producing well. The mosquito situation there has been downgraded from "atrocious and unbearable" to just "bad."

I see no fruit on the Hubbard squash vines yet, but the vines are huge and healthy and flowering.

Cucumber vines are the same, but they now have itty-bitty cukes that will need 3-6 days yet before we can start harvesting little ones.

A few tomatoes have come indoors. The plants are huge. I was worried I pruned them too much. Uh, no. They're fine. Almost too lush, still.

Kohlrabi and spinach are done. Second planting of lettuce is beginning to peek through. Carrots just do NOT want to grow. Ate half of the second planting of beets in last weekend's stew.

Cilantro doesn't want to grow either. Either it pokes along doing nothing. Or it grows big fast and then --BOOM-- goes to seed and the leaves get all thin and spindly. Don't know what to do about that.

Basil is plenteous. Haven't gotten around to making pesto yet. Just slapping leaves onto sandwiches or into salads.

My one lonely zucchini plant is producing just about the right amount of zucchini for our family ... so long as I keep nabbing those boogers off the vine when they're 7" long instead of 27".

Yesterday the green beans were tiny little threads. Today they're nearly big enough to pick. Tomorrow I douse myself in DEET and then harvest a small batch of beans. Lots of beans didn't germinate. And the growin-like-crazy cukes and winter squash took over the place where I was going to put my third planting of beans. So they'll be sparse this summer.

Blackberries are looking great! Grapes are looking pitiful. There were only a few small clusters, but most of them withered up on the vine. Hmmm. I hope that's not a long-term problem.

None of the gladiolas came up. Oh well. I like food better than flowers anyway.

Gotta figure out how to help the apple trees. They were great last year, even though that was their first year in the ground. I wonder what did I did wrong.

Asparagus continuing to establish itself nicely for future years.

My perennial onions (also known as "walking onions") have established themselves beautifully. Backwoods Home once mentioned that these can give you onions nearly year-round, and they also make a good deer deterrent for the garden. Win-win situation, it sounds like to me!

We did MUCH work on the strawberry patch in late June and early July. Ripped out half the patch (in stripes), and dug up the dirt aisles so that runners could set down roots and start developing next year's plants. Looking at how few and tiny they are right now, I can't imagine they could possibly give us berries next year. I will have to remember this year's over-crowded patch, and be heartless next spring in digging out the aisles of plants that remain at the moment, allowing the current dirt-aisles to become the lush plants which will bear.


When the kids were little, we memorized 1 John 4:7-8 through one of those camp songs or a "Wee Sing Bible" tape or something. Running across that verse today, I realized that the song takes the verse out of context. The ditty allows for many a varied understanding of love, what God's love is, what our love is.

But if you go past verse 8, you see that love is the incarnation of the Son of God, and His suffering and death to propitiate our sins. That is how we have life.

And that is what love is.

A Cup of Tea, Perhaps?

We drink water.

There's milk in the house: for cooking, to pour on your granola, about a cup a day for the kids to drink, and for those rare treats when there are cookies. But we see it as a liquid food, not a beverage. Same for fruit juice when we have it.

Maybe once a week we'll break out a beer. Maybe every 4-6 weeks we'll put on a pot of coffee. (Philip makes coffee here more than we do, and he doesn't even live here. LOL.) All my rabid tea-drinking children have grown up, so we're no longer burning through that. (Rachel could go through a 20-bag box in a week by herself.) Kombucha is here, but I see that more as medicinal than as a beverage: probiotics, enzymes, helping the digestion and the immune system, etc.

No kool-aid, no pop, no gatorade. Seldom lemonade. We have made a pitcher of iced tea probably four times in the last month. On the hot days, when we have to be working outside in the sun, the iced tea is refreshing and cooling and spirit-energizing in a way that water is not. ("Oooooh, looky, I get to reward myself for mowing!")

Yesterday my friend Julie stopped by to drop off an item. Her daughter and Maggie headed off to chat a bit, so I offered Julie a glass of water and we sat down to chat so the girls could have some time. Had a great time visiting!

A few hours later I realized that it's probably not very hospitable to offer a glass of water. Better to offer guests a pop or a lemonade or a tall glass of mint tea. But it never crossed my mind. We don't have those things at hand, and we seldom drink them, so I offered what we had. And you know what's so cool? I didn't feel awkward (at least, not at the time) and I'm pretty sure Julie didn't think anything of it. It's so good to have friends who are that comfortable and loving!

Today's Laugh

It was the final examination for an introductory biology course at the local university. Like many such freshman courses, it was designed to weed out new students, having over 500 students in the class.

The examination was two hours long, and exam booklets were provided. The professor was very strict and told the class that any exam that was not on his desk in exactly two hours would not be accepted and the student would fail. Half an hour into the exam, a student came rushing in and asked the professor for an exam booklet.

"You're not going to have time to finish this," the professor stated sarcastically as he handed the student a booklet.

"Yes I will," replied the student. He then took a seat and began writing. After two hours, the professor called for the exams, and the students filed up and handed them in -- all except the late student, who continued writing. An hour later, the last student came up to the professor who was sitting at his desk preparing for his next class. He attempted to put his exam on the stack of exam booklets already there.

"No, you don't. I'm not going to accept that. It's late."

The student looked incredulous and angry.

"Do you know who I am?"

"No, as a matter of fact, I don't," replied the professor with irritation in his voice.

"Do you know who I am?" the student asked again in a louder voice.

"No, and I don't care," replied the professor with an air of superiority.

"Good," replied the student. He quickly lifted the stack of completed exams, stuffed his in the middle, and walked out of the room.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Praying with a Crucifix

What God ordains is always good:
this truth remains unshaken.
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
I shall not be forsaken.
I fear no harm,
for with His arm
He shall embrace and shield me;
So to my God I yield me. (TLH 521 or LSB 760)

I wrote the other day about the importance of having a crucifix in the chancel so that the people might be rightly focused on the cross of Jesus and so that its message might be superimposed (like a transparency) upon all that we think and pray and sing and hear in the Service.

We sang "What God Ordains Is Always Good" yesterday. With the crucifix before you, the story of Good Friday is brought to mind. Jesus remained unshaken in His trust of the Father. Jesus cried, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me" in His sorrow and death. That substitutionary atonement means that we will NOT be forsaken in our sorrow, need, and death.

Look at the lines near the end that final stanza: "For with His arm He shall embrace and shield me." The crucifix shows us Jesus' arms extended upon the cross. Those were the arms that bore God's wrath over sin and took the punishment on our behalf. Those were the arms that were slashed and bruised and yanked out of joint. Those are the arms that embrace and shield us from all harm.

Today's Laugh

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Scant Supplies at the Store

Note to self: Do not buy raw garlic at Walmart.

A store may carry a particular item. But if there's almost no shelf space dedicated to that item, and if that item is very hard to find, tucked as it is in a weirdo spot, and if there is only a handful of it available, that's probably a good indication that the item is not exactly fresh.

I was noticing the same thing at Woodman's and Piggly-Wiggly with regard to frozen veggies. As more and more people buy Steam-in-the-Bag vegetables, there's less call for plain old boring frozen vegetables. As fewer people want to buy the boring frozen veggies, less of that is produced, and it becomes an "odder" item, and the price goes up. That'll be dandy for those who like insta-foods and want to spend little time in the kitchen.

But for those of us who prefer buying whole foods, unprocessed foods, it's getting harder. It would be really sad --and expensive-- to see simple foods and basic ingredients (that used to be considered staples in everyone's kitchen) become specialty niche items.

Back When I Was Young

Stories no longer talk about children going to out play in the rain, wearing their slickers and rubbers and rain hoods.

Every time I talk about hoeing, or needing to find another hoe, Andrew giggles.

"Gay" means something altogether different from what it used to mean.

Does anybody still play "Where is thumbkin?" with little kids? I suspect with people flipping the bird to others at the slightest provocation, some folks do not want to teach preschoolers the finger-play that has a verse "Where is middle-finger? Where is middle-finger? Here I am! Here I am! How are you today, sir? Very well, I thank you. Run and hide; run and hide."

I learned a counting song when I was little and decades later taught it to some of my kids. "One little, two little, three little Indians..." I betcha that's considered politically incorrect too.

Today's Laugh