Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Cat's Couch

When the loveseats became uncomfortable and were replaced, I thought the old furniture would go to the dump. But Gary thought it would be safer to give the new couch a couple of weeks, in case we hated it and wanted to go back to the old ones. Fair enough. Stick it in the garage; plan to set it out on garbage day soon.

Then Athena-kitty found it.

It is very very very nice to lie on a couch, outdoors in the fresh air, away from the noises of the house, in the shade, but still have the cushy-spot of upholstered furniture. After this lovely kitty-development, we added a toddler to the household -- all the more reason for a crotchedly, aging cat to desire a comfy get-away.

But garages are intended for cars, not for a kitty's hidey-hole. So Gary put his noggin to work, dreaming up a short loft built from scrap lumber left over from the deck repairs. He's been envisioning this loft/table for a month or so, and with the possibility of frost tonight, it was time to pull out the tools and flesh out the picture he'd constructed in his mind.

Not only did Gary create extra space in the garage for storage, but we also keep Athena's favorite spot so that she will continue to be pleased to bless us with her hunting skills.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Computer Use

1. The computer has been running like molasses for the last several weeks. I have rebooted frequently. We defragmented the computer. The virus scan and spyware scans come up clear. The specs tell me there's still oodles of free space. So why is this machine so slow?? Yesterday the internet connection disappeared altogether, and we had to reboot the modem. Wow -- suddenly it's like I have an all-new speedy computer!

2. Because most of the kids' friends are either in conventional school or are homeschooled on an 8-3:00 M-F schedule, we have been facing lots of temptations and interruptions to the schoolwork that fits nicely into the evenings and weekends and school vacations. This week I figured we should give up trying to hold to the schedule that we used for a couple of decades, and just submit to "do school" on the same schedule that The Rest Of The World does school. First constraint we put on ourselves was no television or computer playing (Facebook, chats, you-tubes, blogs, video games, etc) from 7:30 until 3:00. We have managed to survive three days thus far and [hold onto your hats!] the world has not collapsed. I hope, as we continue this, that the self-imposed limitations become easier to live with.


For the longest time, I didn't know the difference between chores and other jobs. It took a lot of reading history and historical fiction before I began to realize that there are different kinds of work. I thought any task was a "chore." But chores are the little, daily jobs that need to be done around a house or a farm. Feeding the cat is a chore; washing the windows is not. Washing the dishes is a chore; painting the fence is not. In our family, cleaning the bathroom is a chore; for most Americans it's a big job that is tackled once a week at best, or maybe once or twice a month.

I've begun to realize that we don't understand the importance of chores. We procrastinate. Even if we can intellectually explain "A stitch in time saves nine," too many people don't really know what it means. Cooking seems to me the quintessential chore, but remember the Once-a-Month Cooking craze? Even cooking was turned into a big job done infrequently.

Personally, I prefer to go to extremes (hence the name of my blog) and focus on one big project and then dive into a different big project. But there's something about daily-ness that is tremendously important. There is work to be accomplished each day, in little bits, to continually tend to the needs of the body, to persevere in "exercising dominion" over the spot God has given us, to serve the neighbor in the little daily needs he has. The dailiness of these chores also teaches us self-control. Avoiding that dailiness teaches us lessons about life that are not good.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Isaac Newton

So Andrew is working his way through his physics textbook. He gets to the chapter on Newton's Laws. It mentions that, "although not an orthodox Christian ... Newton held to many standard Christian beliefs." In the first chapter of the General Science book in the same series, as we survey the history of science, a whole page is given to Newton who was "a devout Christian."

See that ellipsis in the quote above? That's where the textbook explained briefly what "unorthodox" views Newton held. He rejected the doctrine of the Trinity as well as the deity of Christ. [eyes popping out of head ...] OH? Really? That's all?

From end of the Creed: "This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved."

Surely there must be an error. Surely our Christian-worldview textbook would not call this man a devout Christian if that's really what he believed. So we did a little web-surfing. Sure enough, he disagreed with Athanasius and would have sided with the Arians ... except even the Arians were a little too orthodox for Newton. No Trinity? A Jesus who wasn't God? And he didn't believe in the immortality of the soul? And no devil? I don't see how we call him a Christian at all.

I still think Apologia is a really good science textbook. It's engaging. It's clear. It provides a solid background in biology, chemistry, physics, etc. But don't expect the book to be correctamundo when it comes to the Faith.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My New Vegetable Peeler

... is right-handed. Waaaaaah!

I needed a new peeler, one strong enough to handle winter squash and rutabagas. This week I found one with a ceramic blade, guaranteed to stay sharp. But it never ever crossed my mind to check that a lefty could use it.

Well, when I pulled the peeler out for its maiden voyage today, I discovered that either
a) I'm going to be working on my ambidextrosity,
b) the kids are going to do a lot more veggie peeling.

Election Day

Earlier this month I worked the polls for the first time in my life. I don't know how they do it in other states, but here the pollworkers are there all day long, 6am till 9pm or later. I was nervous about not knowing enough. I was nervous about spending the whole day with the other pollworkers that I didn't know. But I loved it! The other four women working that day were enjoyable to be with. We traded off jobs during the day so that sometimes I registered new voters and sometimes I handed out ballots and sometimes I checked-in voters. It was fun to see my neighbors come in and say a cheerful howdy to the folks from church who vote in our precinct.

Seeing what happens at the polls does make you wonder about the future of our country, though. People came in and wanted to vote for a particular candidate that wasn't on the ballot. "Why not? Why can't I vote for him?" The fact that he was running for an office that didn't represent their address seems pertinent to me....

Also, it was obvious that a lot of people don't understand what a primary is. In Wisconsin, there is ONE ballot on primary day. You don't tell anybody what party you're aligned with, so you don't request the Democrat ballot versus the Republican ballot versus the Libertarian ballot. Neither do we caucus. Here you are not obliged to choose your party until you're in the voting booth, and then you vote for candidates only in that party and submit your ballot. The voting machine will spit your ballot back at you if you voted for people in different parties. A stunning amount of people were ticked about that. They said they should be able to vote for whomever they wished, regardless of party. We explained that, in November, they could. But this is a primary; it's not voting for offices; a primary is the party's decision as to which candidates will represent the party. Uh... that wasn't understood. At all. Seems to me that all those who heartily disagree should be pressing the legislature for preferential voting.

There was a massive turnout for a primary -- about 43% of the registered voters. The age of voters, though, makes a person wonder who's going to be voting in 20-30 years. A disproportional amount of voters were past retirement age. There were a few young people but not many. This reminds me: now that Andrew's had his birthday, he needs to go to town hall and register to vote.

We don't know what was being said on talk radio on election day, but apparently there was a lot of discussion about same-day voter registration. Although you are not required to show proof of identity or residence when you go to vote [... waiting while all you folks from other states gasp loudly and say "Surely NOT!!!!" ...] many voters came in and insisted on pulling out their drivers license to show their identity. Several men throughout the day proffered their ID cards and said, "Just getting in practice for when we have to start doing this next spring" (anticipating a vast change in the power-balance, so that the election laws can be changed to decrease voter fraud).


This year we saw "All's Well That Ends Well" and "As You Like It."

Our friend Janelle and Maggie, at our picnic lunch during intermission in the "hall" of the "lobby."

"All's Well" was okay. But it was definitely the most lackluster play I've ever seen at APT. I certainly had no desire to go back and see it again the Very Next Day (!) which is my usual reaction to any play I see at Spring Green. When I heard some other patrons discussing the show, someone pointed out that one of the main characters (who is in her first year at APT) didn't seem to have a command of the Shakespearean language; I think he pinned down the problem. It was like she was acting -- good acting, to be sure. I guess I'm just used to the language flowing so well that there is usually no sense that the actors are acting; it's all too real and believable (even with some of Shakespeare's unbelievable set-ups).

I'm glad we saw "All's Well" the first week and followed with "As You Like It" the second week. It was hilarious! My favoritest actor in the whole wide world played Touchstone (the clown). And I have decided that nobody can portray giddy teenagers-in-love as well as APT; it's great! Several kids from church are headed out on a school fieldtrip today to see "As You Like It"; Maggie and I are jealous and would love to tag along. I hope they enjoy as beautiful a day in the woods as we did!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


It's finally growing! I planted seed, but the first few plantings never germinated. When one planting finally did come up, it bolted right away. Assuming I had been doing something seriously wrong, I played it safe and purchased a plant. A week after I put it in the ground, it too bolted. A friend told me it was just too hot for cilantro to grow. (That would explain why my cilantro thrived last year in such a cool summer.)

The plants went to seed, sat in the garden, and toppled over. Apparently all my cilantro plants reseeded themselves, because now that fall has come, I have lots of baby cilantro plants. They're not big enough to even think of harvesting leaves yet, but I may grab several nice bunches before winter takes over. Mmmm.

This weekend I gathered seeds off some of the older plants. I think I have plenty of fresh seed for next spring's deliciousness.

Today's Laugh

An effective way to get something done is to say that it's impossible. Surely someone will try to prove you wrong.