Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pork Tenderloin

For my kids: This is the recipe for the pork we had on Sunday.  I don't know who/where I got it from -- probably a melding of several online recipes.  It takes about 40 minutes.

The pork tenderloins at the Pig come with two in a 2.5# package.  Each tenderloin is a little over 1#.  The whole package would be 4-6 servings.  The recipe below is for cooking both the pieces at the same time.

Use a paring knife to trim any silver skin from the tenderloin, as this silver skin will get tough.
Pat tenderloin dry with paper towel.
Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven over medium heat, till oil shimmers.

Coat the meat pieces with
1 Tbsp olive oil
and season with 
1/2 Tbsp salt 

Sear meat in skillet.  Cook each side for about 3 minutes, until nicely browned, for a total of 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice or chop
2 onions
2 apples

Begin preheating oven to 450.
When meat is seared, remove to a platter.

Add another Tbsp of oil to the skillet (if necessary) and saute onions and apples for about 5 minutes.
While the apples are frying, rub into meat:
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper

Add 1/4 tsp thyme to onions.  Top onions/apples with meat.   Slide skillet into hot oven.
Roast 10-15 minutes, until meat thermometer reads 145-150.  Don't overcook.
Put meat on clean platter; cover with foil; let rest 10 minutes.
Put skillet back on a medium burner.  Add
1 cup chicken broth to skillet.
Stir and scrape browned bits from bottom of skillet.
Bring to boil.  Reduce to simmer.  Cook until sauce reduces by half.
Slice meat. 
Apples and onions go on the bottom of the platter, topped by meat slices, topped by the sauce.

I substituted the 10 minutes of roasting with the crockpot.  After frying the apples and onions, I added the chicken broth to the skillet, stirred to remove brown roasty bits, and then poured it in the bottom of the crockpot.  I put the meat on top.  Crockpot on low for 3 hours was a bit too long, and I did a double recipe.  So probably two hours on low [for a modern crockpot] would be good.  I don't know how much longer for a good, old-fashioned, lower-heat crockpot.  If you use the crockpot, pour the apples, onions, and sauce into a saucepan or skillet to reduce the sauce on the stovetop. 

Do you have a meat thermometer?  It's really handy for a recipe like this because you don't want to overcook it and have tough meat, and you don't want to undercook it and get trichinosis.  And on that cheery note, we should all go buy tenderloins while they're still on sale.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Brain Aneurysm Foundation

Gary tuned the radio to the ball game last night.  As I was falling asleep, a commercial grabbed my attention.  "Gary, did you hear that?  There's a Brain Aneurysm Foundation!  I never knew that."  Well, he did.  He said he used the website a lot in my ICU days.

I grabbed his iPad and started reading.  I was up far too late.  But reading the stories -- it was so compelling.  I told myself that I was just reading to see if any of the stories mentioned arachnoiditis.  But had I not given myself that excuse, I still probably would've kept reading far into the night.  Or morning....

The statistics page tells me that I'm in a small group of those who have only a small impairment.

Most people who seek help for aneurysms do so because of terrible headaches.  If people have "the most horrible headache of their life" that may be reason to seek help in ER.  On the other hand, many people have no warning signs of aneurysm.  While in the hospital, I thought (based on questions from doctors) that I had had no warning signs.  I hadn't suffered from freaky-bad headaches.  I didn't smoke.  My blood pressure was beautiful.  I didn't have the normal signs of stroke: weakness in a limb, uneven smile, blurred vision, slurred speech.  But it turns out that pain above or behind the eye is a sign of aneurysm.  That had been going on for more than half a year, and I hadn't recognized it as anything serious.  I was concerned about glaucoma and went for an eye exam.  Of course it turned out my eyeball was fine.  So I ignored the occasional pain.

Reading people's stories -- oh, how those resonated with me!

People talked about fear whenever a headache started.  "Is this going to be another humongous thing?  Will my brain explode again?"

People talked about how life is divided into the "before aneurysm" and "after aneurysm" times.

Robin wrote, "No matter how normal we may seem, believe us when we say we don't feel normal."

It's helped to read about how others mourned and grieved over the loss of "the old me." 

People mentioned how they run their finger over the scar.  It seems weird to me to touch the incision site, to feel the dent in my skull.  But I do it nearly every day.

Nobody mentioned arachnoiditis.  One man did mention a spinal tap to relieve the problem of blood pooling and contaminating the cerebral spinal fluid.  

One survivor wrote about "flat affect."  She said the doctor told her that she was likely to feel uncaring, to feel emotionally unresponsive.  I've experienced that.  Gary was so glad when my eyes teared for joy when Paul and Mandy announced they were expecting a baby.  Emotions are beginning to return.

People talked about having unrealistic expectations of themselves.  They would try to do what they used to be able to do, thinking they could (or should) be able to accomplish what used to be easy.  But they couldn't.

Survivors talked about memory lapses.  They said they'd stop in the middle of sentences to search for a lost word.  (And yes, I know that's part of aging and we all deal with it.  This is more, though.)  People talked about slower processing, and how reading or listening must be slower for me to be able to understand.  (I noticed that online training at work took me a lot longer this year than it did pre-stroke.)

Patients reflected on whether they wanted other people to know about the brain trauma.  On the one hand, sometimes people know about it and treat you differently.  Some patients don't want that stigma hanging over them: Brain-Injured Person.  On the other hand, when people around you don't know about the brain trauma, the patient so often feels compelled to explain ... to apologize for being "the post-stroke me" who is not as efficient or strong or smart or witty as I was previously.

Gabriele wrote about this apologizing, realizing that sometimes she was ashamed of the "after-me."  She wrote about needing to take more notes, make more lists, slow down, and ask for help.  It was interesting to read this after yesterday's Bible class, where Pastor talked about our tendency to long for olden days, "better days."  But the Christian life is in receiving and giving -- in that order.   We always want to be the ones giving/doing.  But sometimes we need to be in the position of having others help us, others give to us, as they serve Christ by caring for us.  Gabriele wrote about a Lent-2 sermon (Gen 12) which referred to Abram's being "banished to the promise."  We usually think that banishment is from.  But she talked about being banished to God's mercy.  That fits with what Pastor talked about, how we are not to repristinate bygone days, but live where we are, today, receiving God's mercy and His gifts, and living in love toward the neighbor that we have today. 

Summer Rice Salad

This was part of Christmas dinner.  Nobody in our family is allergic to anything in it, and that's no small feat.  The recipe makes 5-6 quarts of salad, but don't make a bunch and expect to eat it all week.  After a day and a half in the fridge, the dab of leftovers was a little soggy.  All you kids who said you wanted the recipe, here ya go ...

Toss together:
3 cups cooked & cooled brown basmati (that's 1 cup rice + 2 cups water)
2 large or 3 medium cucumbers, chopped
3 pints of grape tomatoes, halved
1 carrot, grated
4 green onions, sliced
16 oz pea pods, cut into pieces about 3/4 to 1" long
2 avocados, diced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, leaves chopped

Drizzle with olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Cleaning for Company

I feel like such a hypocrite.

After I read Don Aslett, I told myself, "No more cleaning for company!"  I clean for us.  I clean because I don't want my space to be nasty or germy or uncomfortable. 

So it's the day before Christmas.  Company is coming.  And I am cleaning.

Self-justification commences:
I've been doing Christmas prep instead of the cleaning that I want to do for me.
I've been busy at church instead of cleaning for me.
It's been too long since I cleaned, and I've been trying to get to it.
The cats are shedding, and the hair drives me bonkers.
If I don't clean today, I can't do it until Monday, because I intend to enjoy being with family.

So the vacuum is out.
And the cat hair is being dusted up.

And I still feel like a hypocrite.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Lord's Prayer with an Antiphon

This last week before Christmas, I have been appreciating intermingling the day's O antiphon with the Lord's Prayer.

For today:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
come and enlighten those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Hallowed be Thy name.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

Thy kingdom come.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Thy will be done.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

And forgive us our trespasses.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

And lead us not into temptation.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.
and in the shadow of death.

But deliver us from the evil one.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness.

For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory.
Come and enlighten those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Second of the O Antiphons

We address Adonai.
Lord of might.
Appearing to Moses in the burning bush.
Appearing to the Israelites in the cloud and thunder and fire at Sinai.

And what is the petition connected to this God who seems so big and scary and fierce?
"Come with an outstretched arm and redeem us."

Redeem us.

That's not scary.
That's rescue.

All of God's bigness and fierceness is directed toward saving us and defending us.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Baby's a Blessing

An unwed girl gets pregnant.  She chooses not to kill her baby.  Baby is born. 

Christians sometimes have mixed feelings.  The ladies at church wonder, "Should we throw a baby shower for her?" On the one hand, they know that the baby needs diapers and onesies and a car seat.  On the other hand, they don't want to send a message that appears to "reward" a sinful behavior.  The local woman who runs a home for moms has the best way to put this.

A baby is always a blessing.
Even if a baby is conceived in a less-than-honorable situation, even if the baby is conceived in violence, the baby is nevertheless a human being made in the image of God.  The baby is a blessing.  God's word says that children are a gift from God, a blessing from the Lord.  Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the conception, the birth of a baby is always a cause for rejoicing. 


Monday, December 14, 2015

"Don't You Trust Me?"

Doctor visit to a specialist I've never seen before.

Doctor recommends a long-term course of a medicine that is rife with bad side effects and links to cancer and heart attacks. 

I ask, "But doesn't that drug have a lot of side effects?"

Response?  "I am your doctor.  I know you.  I've looked at your chart.  Don't you trust me?  I would never give you anything that would hurt you." 

I think it's true
that she would never
give me something
that she believed would hurt me.

But is there any chance that she could have been swayed by the pharmaceutical company to believe something inaccurate about the drug?
Is there a chance that I failed to inform her of something that I didn't know was pertinent?
Is there a chance she doesn't care about nutrition and wellness, but always turns to chemical solutions?
There's even a chance that she's spot-on right.

I was shocked that a doctor in this day and age would refuse to discuss side effects of a potent drug, and just say "Trust me." 

And if she thinks I'm going to trust her after that, I guess maybe she doesn't know me after all.

Over the next two days I spent about ten hours reading up on various perspectives by the drug manufacturer, alternative medicines, nutritionists, herbalists, and other aspects of my situation.  Man oh man -- buggy-eyed and brain-tired.  At least the doctor was good for one thing: she easily ruled out a lot of possible problems that I hadn't even considered (and which were probably the reason my GP sent me to the specialist in the first place). 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Bearing Fruits Worthy of Repentance

The tax collectors and soldiers came to John, listening to his preaching, believing his message, and asking, "What shall we do?"  The answer for all of them was pretty much, "Do your job honestly, without hurting other people."

Now if you were a taxpayer in Judea at that time, whether you believed in the Lord or not, you would derive some benefit from all these people trusting in the Messiah.  These Christians beginning to bear fruits of repentance.  Some of the taxpayers would be collecting only the amount they were supposed to collect. Some of the soldiers would be fair and good.  Certainly not all of them.  And not even these new Christians were sinless.  But some of them were indeed transformed (in part) by the Gospel they believed.

So even before Jesus died,
even before He was miraculously healing people,
even before He was preaching,

already there were some temporal blessings breaking in, like the tiniest little foretaste of what was yet to come.

Wonky Comments Too

So not only has my blog been wonky, but now I see the comments have been wonky too.

No, the comments themselves haven't been.  (My apologies Suzanne, Melanie, Cheryl, Jane in SB, and Karen in MI.  You're not being weirdos at all.  Well, not any more than the likable weirdness that is the norm.)  Something IS up, however, with the comment feature.  Today I noticed that a request for comment moderation was dumped into my spam folder.  That's when I discovered that a whole bunch of other comments were awaiting moderation -- comments from months ago.  Comments that never arrived, not even diverted to the spam folder.  They were simply sucked into a tiny corner of the blogger program.

Well, they have been found and posted.

Settings have been adjusted.  I was moderating comments only because my mom couldn't manage the "Prove you're not a robot" verification.  But Mom's not reading my blog now, so I no longer need to take that into account.

The trick now is to see if I can remember to keep peeking into that little forsaken corner in case of older comments.  And in the meantime, I have to watch for new comments that would hawk lower mortgages, exercise equipment, new roofs, and sexy girlfriends.  (I suspect you want those things just about as much as I do.)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Lizzy Is Growing

I haven't posted any pictures of Lizzy since she was brand new.  This is from about 3 weeks ago.  Like her momma, she wants to STAND at a ridiculously young age.  Rachel had to put a book under the baby's feet so that she could use her walker.  But now she's grown big enough to reach the floor!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Don't Be Wonky, My Blog

This week's discovery: ignore your blog long enough, and it will act up.  It will disappear temporarily so that you cannot [gasp] retrieve the recipes stored there.  A few days later, when you google for an old post, it's nowhere to be found.  Later yet, when you click on the link, the screen may give you a countdown to an ad-site and then go blank.  Weird stuff.  So I'm saying "HI" again, in an attempt to be Active.

For Thanksgiving the whole family (except middle-son and his wife) came for dinner.  Gotta brag on those kids: they decided it would be too much work for me and determined to split up the cooking and bring most of it with them.

I've been spending a lot of time working on a project at church.  This is an immense project.  I've been working on it for over a year.  At one point, it seemed that it would never end.  Ever.  I mean, never ever ever.  But (!) even though I'm not close to finished, I can tell I'm on the downward slope.  An end is in sight.  Somewhere.  Far away.  But visible nonetheless.  And the project is currently usable, even though it's not complete. 

Christmas tree is not up yet.  This bugs Maggie.

Christmas shopping is not done.  It's not going to be done, either.  Makes me feel guilty, but I'm not sure how to remedy it.   Is it grinchy to have no desire to buy gifts for people that they don't need, may or may not like, and are just going to clutter their homes?  If I could think better, I might come up with creative ideas.  Maybe next year?

I started lacto-fermenting vegetables.  This makes non-vinegary pickles, loaded with enzymes and probiotics.  It seems to be helping my tummy.  (I even had a little bit of ice cream without a stomach ache.  Awesomeness!)  The kids at school had asked what seemed to be an outlandish question: "Is there such a thing as pickled carrots?"  It just so happened that they asked the day after I started a batch of carrots.  So today, when they were having hot lunch, I took along my pickles and offered it to them.  Several tried it.  I don't expect that from kids.  Good for them!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

Using the Precious Things

The pretty china.  The beautiful old quilts.  The crystal.  It's silly to hide it in a closet, unused.  But it's uncomfortable to use it, knowing that you're risking ruin in the short-run or wearing out in the long-run.  So I give myself the speech as best I can: use those precious things.  Enjoy the memories.  Enjoy the beauty. 

And then comes a week like this one.  We were overwhelmed in blankets.  I hauled them all out -- out of the closets, out of the storage spaces in the basement, out of the linen cupboards.  I took inventory.  I set aside some to donate.  I set some aside to offer to the kids.  I probably kept too many.  And ...

and ...

I threw some away.

Let me just say, ... OUCH.

Two of these were quilts made by Grandma, for the kids, hand-sewn, hand-quilted.  But they're over 20 years old.  When newly made, they were constructed of old fabric scraps.  These quilts were well-used and enjoyed.  They decorated the bedrooms.  They had to go through the washer regularly.  They are not merely torn, in need of repair.  They are disintegrating.  It only makes sense that they've served us well and are now ready for the garbage.  But I hate throwing them away.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Stop That Sinning!

Repentance doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to stop sinning. 

Part of repentance is recognizing that the sins I do occur because of the sinner I am.  And the sinful nature is going to keep on being sinful until I'm laid to rest in the grave. 

Here's what repentance really is:  that I'm not going to rely on myself and my own efforts to solve the problem of sin in my life.  Rather, repentance means that I flee again to Christ, and depend all the more upon His forgiveness.

So does this mean the Christian can sin-like-crazy and indulge in whatever the Old Adam might desire? [She sighs in exasperation and wonders, "Are you for-real??"]

The reason the Christian desires to amend his sinful life is precisely because there has been a change of heart, worked by the Gospel, which causes him to be distressed by sin and to yearn to be free of it.

The Confessions state that the "Holy Spirit works faith when and where He pleases in those who hear the Gospel."  It is also true He works the fruits of faith when and where He pleases.   The Lord may have different ideas about what is good in our life than we do.  When we make an idol of our "good Christian walk," then the Lord knows better than we what is good for us.

We tend to think of the "amendment of life" as doing this, stopping that, fixing that habit.  Even bigger, though, is letting go of the sins of others, where Christ's forgiveness flows through us to others who've been rotten and don't deserve kindness.  Hmm ... just like Jesus forgives us.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Joseph's Decision about Mary's News

Remember when Joseph was thinking about "quietly divorcing" Mary?  He pretty much had two choices: a) accuse her of adultery, or b) divorce her and let people think the baby was his while still leaving Mary free to go be with The Other Guy. 

If Joseph accused Mary of adultery, she would be stoned.  But not just Mary.  If she were killed, then her baby would also die.  Joseph's compassion (even prior to the message from God) was not only for this woman, but he also was showing compassion to that baby in sparing His life.

Monday, September 07, 2015


The psalms often mention people trembling before the Lord.  It sounds like shaking-in-your-boots, terrified panic.  I'm pretty sure that's the intent of the word in the original language.

But there's another kind of trembling.  Trembling with excitement, with anticipation. 
The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble!  He dwells between the cherubim.  Let the earth be moved (Ps 99).  
Later in the psalm He is called "God-Who-Forgives" though He takes vengeance on sinful deeds.  He forgives.  He promises.  We have some things to anticipate, things to look forward to.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Obeying God Rather Than Men

Story: King Saul orders somebody, anybody, to kill this popular young David fellow.  Prince Jonathan objects.  David escapes.  Jonathan wants David to come back to the palace.  David says, "Not on your life!  Your dad is plotting to murder me."  "No, he wouldn't do that."  "That's what you think.  He's hiding it from you because he knows you wouldn't like it."  Jonathan comes up with a plan to test it out and still ensure David's safety.  (1 Samuel 18-20)

In chapel, Pastor asked the kids about the fourth commandment.  Jonathan was disobeying his father.  Wasn't that sinful?  (By the way, in case you're wondering, the answer is NO, not sinful.)  As we read the story, and as Pastor brought in other passages, something crossed my mind.  

We cannot truly honor someone unless we are holding fast to the Word of God.

Any time we have to fudge on God's word a bit, whatever "honor" we are showing to somebody isn't really honor.  It may be for self-preservation or for gaining power or for some other reason.  But it's not honor.

So when there are ethical problems with regard to abusive husbands, or parents using kids as drug-runners, or governments enacting unjust laws, the answer will always be in God's word, especially in connection to His word of promise and mercy.


Monday, August 31, 2015

A Very Clean Pantry

My poor pantry was feeling left out of the cleaning binge.  So it had its own little meltdown.  A beer bottle exploded. 

1.  It was inside the closed pantry.  So flying glass stayed contained in the pantry.
2.  It was beer, not wine.  I had a wine bottle explode once.  That required not only cleaning but also painting walls.
3.  Gary was home when it happened, and did a huge portion of the clean-up work.
4.  From here on out, liquids should live on the bottom half of the pantry, and dry goods (noodles or sugar) should live on the higher shelves.

When you empty out the whole pantry, onto the kitchen floor and counters and table, it's rather surprising to see how much food we are blessed with, with it spread all over instead of contained in its proper spots behind a closed door.

So, do ants and other nasty critters like beer?  We have cleaned and scrubbed.  But I fear missing ANY drips of beer, lest I should entice pests.  (I mean the six-legged kind, you silly.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

This Is "Retirement"?

Yesterday was the first day I Should Have Been At Work, but wasn't.  (No, I haven't fully quit yet.  I'm still taking some short shifts until they replace at least one of the open positions at my branch.)

Such conflicting emotions!

Instead of doing one of a gazillion things on my After-I-Quit-Work to-do list, I spent the day with my daughter and newborn granddaughter.  Rachel ended up in the emergency room this weekend.  The surgeons removed a troublesome organ.  They sent her home on narcotics.  I spent a couple of days there, taking care of things that she simply couldn't.  While running some errands Tuesday morning, I wondered about certain customers, whether they'd come in yet.  I wondered how my co-workers were keeping up with the work, whether it was a busy day or a boring day, wondered who was subbing for me, etc.  And that's when it hit me.  Tuesday would have been loads easier physically and mentally if I had been at work instead of tending to family needs.  And yet ... working Tuesday would have been awful as my mind and heart would have been preoccupied with my babies and grandbabies, wanting to be there to help but unable.

Today I planned to spend a shorter amount of time with Rachel and Lizzy.  Instead the day was spent helping Katie get her car functional again.

Nature abhors a vacuum.

See what price my daughters pay when I make a "vacuum" of my calendar?  (Well.  Okay.  Not a vacuum.  But cleared out a little bit.)  It makes me wonder if I should protect my kids by going back to work!

Rachel says God had it all worked out.  She had a tiny baby ... and that baby is big enough to be safe/healthy but small enough to be carried by post-surgery mommy.  Rachel had been over-producing milk, so there was plenty in the freezer for Baby to live on while Mommy couldn't feed her.  And Nanna didn't have to be at work and could be butting in, soaking up some baby-snuggles between washing dishes and stuff like that.  I guess, if you're going to toss an emergency surgery into life, this probably was a darn-tootin' easy way to go about it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Today's Laugh

What does the moon do when he needs a haircut?

'e clips.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Very Clean Refrigerator

I blame Maggie.

Today while cutting veggies, we were watching Good Eats.  Eventually Maggie commented on how clean Alton's chill-chest was.  "How can anyone keep a refrigerator that clean?"  I told her that if I had as many aides as he has, and if I were putting my refrigerator on national TV, ours would be that clean too.  At least for the camera.

A few hours later an uncovered glass of grape juice tipped over in the refrigerator.  Grape juice on every shelf.  Grape juice on the walls.  Grape juice pouring out the bottom of the appliance.  Grape juice all over the floor.

She had to go and comment on clean refrigerators.  You know the fates heard her.

An hour-and-a-half later, any qualms I had about having Not Accomplished Much today were gone.

Tomorrow we tackle the floor, including underneath the stove and fridge.  That grape juice sure was some motivation!

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Why Space Is Called "Space"

A long time ago in a county far, far away
we built a model of the solar system.

(This was before Pluto was demoted.)

Most models of the solar system put either
~the planets' distances in scale to each other, or
~the planets' size in scale to each other. 
But not both. 

So we went out on an isolated country road, and made ourselves a scale model of the solar system, with the planets' sizes in scale to their distances from each other.  We made 1 inch equal to 50,000 km.  This is awesome.  When you plunk down a couple grains of rice and a few lentils and a marshmallow or two across the space of nearly two miles, you really see why we call it "space."

The next time we laid out our scale model, several years later, I realized that the planets aren't lined up in a nice, neat row.  So our model shouldn't be in a row either.   That time, we placed our planets in two dimensions:  Pluto was about two miles to the west of the sun, Neptune 1.5 miles south of the sun, and Uranus a mile east of our 20" sun.  That really shows you the vast nothingness that's out there.  This project also gives you a really good grip on the difference between the inner and outer planets!

 ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

If you're interested in trying this out yourself,
and if you don't want to bother with the arithmetic,
these are the numbers we used:

Sun  20" diameter
draw it in sidewalk chalk, or use a smallish laundry basket as your model

about 96 feet away
(I took 22 paces, which are about 4.5 feet each, 
calling a "pace" a set of right & left steps, 
but I have long legs)
Mercury   1/10" (we used a crumb of rice)

about 180' from the sun
(another 18 paces)
Venus   1/4"  (we used a dried pea)

about 250' from the sun
(another 15.5 paces)
Earth   1/4"  (dried pea)
with the moon 7" away
1/16"  (a pin head)

about 380 feet from the sun
(another 29 paces past the earth)
Mars    1/7"    (a small lentil)

Then we went back to the sun, and drove,
using the car's odometer to measure distance.
Sun is your zero point.

Jupiter   (3" -- a baseball)
0.25 miles from the sun

Saturn (2.5"  -- a racquetball)
0.2 miles past Jupiter
or .45 from sun

Uranus  (1" -- large marshmallow)
0.45 miles past Saturn
or .9 miles from sun

Neptune (also 1")
0.5 miles past Uranus
or 1.4 miles from the sun

Pluto (1/22 "  -- a pin point)
0.45 miles past Neptune
or 1.85 miles from the sun

 ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Have fun!

Monday, August 03, 2015

Recent Events

Elizabeth's arrival is the best of the recent events.  But, oh!, I do wish I had the strength and endurance to go help more, visit more, snuggle more. 

Gary's hungry.  He's having some health problems that require [deep serious voice--] Dietary Changes.  Right now it seems like there's nothing he can eat but veggie salads.  Nothing with sticking-power.  Yeah, but how much of that is real, and how much is scientists and chemists trying to figure out the art of medicine?  Once he gets the pain under control, I suppose then we can begin experimenting.  I'm wondering: if we fix guts, might the rest of the body straighten out too?

Sister, brother, and I divided up most of the belongings of my mom's house.  I've heard stories from other families about what happens when a parent dies.  Oh my goodness -- I am so thankful that we can get along and be nice to each other!

Maggie and I have an appointment coming up at Easter Seals to see if they have any programs that might benefit her. 

Between Gary, Maggie, Rachel, and me, it seems like we're seeing doctors or making appointments or receiving test results practically every day.  My head is swimming. 

Pretty soon I will be leaving my job.  Working and homeschooling and healing-from-stroke was at the utter limits of what I could do.  There was no margin.  Mom' death and helping with settling things just didn't/won't fit in.  So something has to go.  Since Maggie's not expendable, and since I have no magic wand to [poof] achieve full healing from my brain injury, the job is the only thing that I can take a break from.  I will miss it.  I will miss some of the customers.  I will miss the paycheck.  But mostly I will miss the nice feeling of having finished a task completely and correctly.  I keep reassuring myself that I can always reapply for the job when some of these family matters are wrapped up.

Google tells me that the European Union has instituted new rules for cookies on websites.  That means bloggers must inform readers about cookies and obtain consent.  I don't know how to do that!  And I don't have the time or brain power to bother with figuring it out right now.  So my counter (which is, I think, the only cookie I have) had to go bye-bye.  If you leave an anonymous comment, please sign something on the bottom so I know who you are, so I can allow the comment to go through.  (You could use initials, or first name plus last initial, or "Friend in Janesville," etc.)  It's getting tempting to just shut-down the blog or make it private (readers by invitation only).  But I'd need to save a lot of information first, including printing out recipes.  And that too is too much work right now. 

Katie, Maggie, and I watched "Pride and Prejudice" at APT last weekend.  Sarah Day does such a great job with fussy, busybody women-characters!  And Marcus Truschinski is the best Mr Darcy I ever saw.  

I'm working on lacto-fermenting veggies.   The corn relish was made with fresh-picked corn from the farm.  I made it a few years ago, and it was my favorite pickled recipe.  It's great to make another batch.  I should get my hands on some more corn while it's still available.  The pickle-batch I set aside today was sauerkraut.  Fresh, unheated sauerkraut is so much yummier than the cooked/canned soft kind.  I think broccoli slaw may be my next attempt.  There are so many possibilities that sound good.  And non-vinegar pickles are so much tastier ... as well as being super-healthy.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

New Grandbaby

Baby Elizabeth arrived a few days ago.  She is so little and so pretty and it's wonderful to hold her!

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Life Which I Now Live ...

THIS life.  This life of deciding whether to take a nap or doggedly continue weeding.

This life of having overslept and needing to rush to get dressed to make it to work on time. 

This life of laundry and mowing and dishes and teeth-brushing. 

This life of figuring out where to work or where to rent or whether to go to the doctor for the owie.

I have been crucified with Christ.
It is no longer I who live,
but Christ lives in me.
And the life which I now live in the flesh,
I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself for me.  (Gal 2)

Paul's not spouting some theological mumbo-jumbo.  He's talking about the here-and-now, the nitty-gritty of what we do each day, each hour, each minute.  No matter what mundane aspects of life we're slogging through, we continue on in faith in the Jesus who saved us.  We serve Him.  We worship Him.  And when we don't --when our sinful flesh has its way-- we depend upon Him all the more because He forgives, He rescues, He saves.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Potatoes Are Done

The centipedes will gobble up Yukon Gold that sit in the ground too long.  So when we saw the potato vines beginning to yellow, we decided to get out there and dig 'em up before we lost 'em.

Somebody was having a grand time helping move potatoes from the bucket back to the dirt, or from the bucket into the wash-water, or from the muddy water back into the bowl of dirty potatoes.  Somebody else decided to help Nanna scrub potatoes. 

Grand to have such helpers!!

Saturday, July 25, 2015


I love pearls.  I often wear my "pearl" necklaces to work.  When my sibs and I went through my mom's stuff, I wanted one of her pearl necklaces.  (Hers may be cultured pearls, or they may be mere white beads.  I don't have a clue.)

I have been surprised by how many people compliment my pearls:  "Those are so pretty.  You don't usually see people with pearls nowadays, but I think they're so classy."

Yes.  Pearls are not bling.  But they're pretty.

Besides, comments about my pearls always remind me of the scene in Anne where Anne and Diana are standing by the shore after the event at White Sands:  "I'm quite content to be Anne of Green Gables, with my string of pearl beads. I know Matthew gave me as much love with them as ever went with Madame the Pink Lady's jewels."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Yet One O'er All the Earth

We're singing "The Church's One Foundation" this week.  It sure is somethin' to know that my friend Karl is in Ghana, teaching at the seminary there, while another friend (Rick) is in Singapore, teaching God's word over there ... while we're singing
Elect from every nation,
yet one o'er all the earth,
her charter of salvation
one Lord,
one faith,
one birth.
One holy name she blesses,
partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses
with every grace endued.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Babies Suck

My class consisted of one [count 'em -- one] kid who was not yet ready for confirmation class with the pastor.  So during confirmation class, he and I would sit in my dining room and work on memory work, basic Bible stories, stuff like that.  One night he exclaimed about something not-to-his-liking, "That sucks!"

My eyebrows went up.  I gasped.  "You will not talk like that around me and my children.  You may apologize and not use that phrase any more while here!" 

"What?  What did I say?"

"You know what you said."

"But what's wrong with that?"

Kid kept claiming to not understand what the big deal was.  He kept asking me to explain to him what the problem was.  I thought he was being obnoxious.  But now I wonder.  Maybe he wasn't being intentionally provocative and ugly-mouthed.  Maybe he just didn't know the origins of that phrase.

One day when I was in junior high, some high-school fellows drove by and mooned the PE class.  A bunch of us were talking about it at lunch.  When I said, "Yeah, he stuck his a** out the top of the car for everybody to see," gasps exploded around the table.  "Susan said 'a**'!  Can you believe that Susan said that?!"  That's when I discovered that a** is not a substitute-word for hiney or tuschie or bottom.  I didn't know.  I used a word that I heard people using, and I knew what the word meant, but I didn't realize that it was considered naughty.

Many years later, I mentioned something about one of my daughters looking "hot" in a particular dress.  I thought it meant "pretty" or "fantastic" or "especially dolled up."  I didn't know that it had somewhat sleazy connotations until I saw the reaction of the people to whom I'd said it.  Whoa.  Botched it again.  Major embarrassment!

So maybe my student that day really didn't know the implications of the word "sucks." 

When something "stinks," there's a reason we use that word.  If a potato or raw meat or a rotten egg "stinks," it is spoiled.  It makes the atmosphere around it unpleasant.  Thus, if a situation stinks, it is likewise bad and unpleasant. 

I think a lot of young people don't have a clue where the word "sucks" came from in the 60s and 70s.  They're so used to hearing the word as a synonym for "that stinks" or "that's awful" that they never stop to consider what the word is referring to. 

Babies suck to eat.
Babies suck on their thumbs.
Bigger people suck on soda-pop straws or even the cap of their pen.

But can we please please please stop using the word "sucks" to describe things we don't like?

Friday, July 10, 2015


I've been making phone calls. 
I have an appointment for a haircut.
The car has an appointment for maintenance. 
I have a clue where to go next to request help in job training for Maggie and in obtaining health insurance for her as an adult.
We have an appointment to see the immunologist again, hoping to forestall another winter of pneumonia and other illness for Maggie.
I need to take care of some paperwork following up on Mom's death.
I sorted out the "I can't find anything" situation in the freezer.
I figured out the problem with the refrigerator-puddles and did a quasi-fix.  The real fix will require a much emptier refrigerator so that it can sit unplugged for a couple of days.

The birds think they shouldn't have to share the wild black-raspberries with me.  Ha -- I am bigger than the birds, and I scare them more than they scare me.

Grape vines are crawling all over the ground.  So are the tomatoes that came up "volunteer" in the plot of yard Formerly Known As Garden.  Staking things up would be a good plan.

I'm still recuperating from overdoing in April, May, and June.  I made a meal yesterday and today -- huge step forward!  I can even foresee a day when I might be able to help with the housecleaning instead of foisting the job on my daughters ... as long as I don't try anything big (like a trip ... which must be made regardless ...)

How does a person decide what they want from their parents' house?  So many memories.  So many items that could replace what we've picked up at Goodwill.  On the other hand, that may involve more shuffling work than we can invest right now.  I keep teetering back and forth between "but I'd like it" and "I could surely use it" versus "we don't need it" and "we should be downsizing, not adding."

Another 3-6 weeks before new grandbaby arrives.

There's so much paper to shred that I am tempted to sign up for paperless statements everywhere.  But having everything dependent on the computer scares me.  What happens if the machine crashes?

That's all for now.  It's past bedtime.   :-)

Monday, July 06, 2015

Dirty TV

Tired, I forced myself to watch a couple of movies last night instead of tackling my to-do list.  Both movies had interesting premises.  Both were interesting and had the kind of story that could be nicely emotional.  But both left me feeling uneasy.

In one, a cabbie was driving a woman cross-country to see her hospitalized dad.  It could've been a fabulous story.  But ...
Near the end, although the two had grown somewhat attached, the woman went home to her husband.  Then the movie concluded with the woman deciding she really needed to go find the cab-driver after all.  I had had miniscule hopes that maybe, just maybe, there'd be forgiveness between the husband and wife, and that they would be faithful to each other, even if the joybells and the twitterpation weren't there.  Silly me.  Luv and Romance aren't about that kind of stuff.  Luv is about the twitterpation. 

Next movie was about a fellow with a brain injury.  They found that music got through to him when nothing else would.  Oh, a producer and a writer could do an awesome story with that kind of a set-up!  By the end of the movie, I didn't know what I thought.  On the one hand, the father of the brain-injured guy was relentless in his love.  He did whatever he could to reach his son.  He persisted.  That part was great.  But ...
The son had been a rebellious hippie back in the 60s.  Drugs, free love, angry music, and despising everything his dad had taught him.  The family became estranged.  It seemed to me that the story was largely about the dad having to come to terms with how he'd been unaccepting, and how he needed to change.

I woke up this morning feeling like I was dirty. 

Monday, June 29, 2015


Most people live together before they're married.  Friends will be aghast if a couple decides to marry without living together first.  "What's the matter with you?!  You should try it before you make the commitment!"  A fuddy-duddy asks, "So then what's the point of marriage?"  Finally Gary noticed that when his co-workers get married, it's often a signal that they're ready to have a baby.  There's often a sense that they should marry before they begin raising a family.

So, what is marriage anyway?

No, I don't mean the marriage that everybody knew when I was a little girl.  I don't mean the marriage that we saw in the Bible or in history books or in literature.  I mean, what is marriage now, today, in America, after the Supreme Court ruling on "marriage equality"?

Recently, Americans see marriage as having to do with romance and companionship.  For much of history, through most cultures, marriage has been (sociologically) more about children having a stable home with Mom and Dad.  From a theological viewpoint, marriage reflected the image of God (Gen 1).

So now we have a legal status of marriage which provides financial and legal and social benefits.  This marriage is currently available to any two people. 

Christians who marry at the courthouse will probably still desire to have their union sanctified by the word of God and prayer.  This is no different from having the pastor minister to a family when a baby is born, or when Grandma dies, or when Junior goes off to the military.  When big events occur in life, we pray and we listen to God's word and we sing hymns and we seek the Lord's blessing.  That will continue for Christians who marry, even if they can no longer marry in the church.

The thing I've been wondering is:
Is there a reason Christian couples should seek a legal-marriage in addition to ... uh ... well ... I don't know what to call it.  Can they enter into matrimony without the legal contract that is offered by the State?  Obviously, the State doesn't mind people living together apart from legal-marriage.  It's the Church that has been objecting to people living together without legal-marriage, calling people to repentance for their adultery.  But now that the definition of marriage is officially changed, will it still matter?  Can there be marriage-before-God (and before family and society) without having the marriage legally sanctioned?  Maybe not.  Maybe so. I don't know.

My friend Cheryl pointed out an article by Kate Ashford that listed some advantages of being legally married instead of merely being in a domestic partnership. POA's and wills can arrange for partners to have many benefits that normally come to legally-married folks.  But that can't cover everything:
~ No gift taxes on large monetary gifts to a spouse.
~ Upon death, an IRA can be rolled over to the spouse.
~ Spouses can receive survivor benefits from pensions or SocSec.
Also, the wife can change her name via marriage without petitioning the court for a name change.

So even if there are no theological reasons to be married by an agent of the State (although there may be!  I'm still wondering about this ...) there are still some practical reasons to go to the courthouse for a wedding license.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Not Trendy

This evening I noticed something beautiful in the sky.  Venus and Jupiter are very close together.  The computer tells me that this is the closest the two planets will be over the space of a few decades.  The astronomers are saying that this series of three conjunctions (over the space of 14 months) is quite similar to what the star of Bethlehem may have been.

When Maggie and I were first looking up "Sky and Telescope" to see what they said about this lovely sight, I started singing, "... and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets ..."  Poor Maggie.  "WHAT are you singing, Mom?!"  So I belted it out: "This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius ..."  Yeah.  Like I said -- poor Maggie.

Singing the song reminded me.  Once upon a time, in grade school, I won some contest at the Y.  The prize was a 45 of my choice.  (For you youngsters, a "45" is a record.  The kind that got played on a old-fashioned turn-table.  The little ones, with one song on each side.  It would be comparable to your winning a $3 iTune giftcard.)  They asked all three winners for what songs they'd like.  The other two girls immediately came up with song titles.  At that point, I didn't listen to pop music yet.  So I chose "Age of Aquarius."  It was something I knew.  The adults didn't know what to do: "That's old.  I don't think that's available any more.  Is it still on the charts?  Can you tell us a second choice?  I don't think we'll be able to find that song."

When my hair was initially cut short, here not too long ago, several people complimented me with how "trendy" I looked.  I was offended.  I didn't respond in a nasty way, but yes, that kind of praise bothered me.  If they liked my hair and I didn't, I could accept their compliment.  If they said my haircut suited me, I could disagree but appreciate their well-intended words.  But trendy?  Yuck.  I don't like trendy.  I don't want to be trendy.

"The Age of Aquarius."  I was already out-of-sync and decidedly behind-the-times when I was just a little kid.

Definitely untrendy.
And proud of it.  Darn tootin'.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Brain Games

We are watching a psychology show on Netflix right now.  Brain Games explores the way the brain works, and how it can play tricks on us.  There are plenty of optical illusions and interactive activities.  (After several episodes my curiosity got the better of me -- I did peak once when they said to close your eyes and listen.  The sign on the screen?  "We told you to close your eyes.")

One episode was quite interesting in that it began with the premise that --from birth-- men and women are different.  They think differently.  They have different brains with different strengths and weaknesses.  This is inbred in our cells and DNA.  I was amazed that such a thing would be stated so bluntly a mere 3 years ago.  (We've made quite the rapid slide into nonsense here the last year or so, eh?)

Another interesting episode was how people tend to be overconfident.  We don't like to think we don't know.  We don't like to accept that we make mistakes.  We justify ourselves.  There are spiritual and theological ramifications to this psychological fact.  (Or maybe flip it around: they showed the psychological ramifications of what is actually a spiritual fact.)  It makes me even more put off by [ahem] confidence.

The episode on paying attention helped me understand some situations I face at work ... and why it's so easy to overload a mind (especially after a brain injury that compromised my thinking skills).

In many ways, I apparently think more like a man than a woman: my color perception, my spatial skills, my verbal skills.  Oh well.

The episode on memory showed me something else that I suspected.  My memory has really gone downhill.  [My apologies, Gary.  But it has.]

The oddball thing of this whole series?  My brain is more like Maggie's now than it used to be; we're finding quite often that we both come up with the same answer in the interactive games.  But we keep answering the "wrong" answer (that is, the unexpected answer, given by a small minority of their subjects).  We're wondering if we have trained our brains this way.  If so, I think it's a good thing.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Lovely, amazing, beautiful wedding yesterday.  We've known the groom since he was 1, and the bride since she was about 4-5.  So good to go to a wedding where they are firmly committed to Christ's being the center of their marriage.

Cherry pie in the oven baking.  The cherry tree is loaded with beautiful fruit.  I don't know if it was that the weather was just right this year, or if the tree's flourishing was due to my lack of mangling pruning the last two springs.

Gary is still doing ALL the mowing.  He does not permit me to help.  I am spoiled.  Also, Maggie and Katie seem to be accomplishing any housecleaning that happens around here.

I gave up on the garden.  I planted some lettuce and almost none of it came up.  I've harvested almost none of the strawberries -- Gary, Maggie, Katie, and the kids have done whatever picking has happened.  Not all the raspberries have been pruned and weeded.  Grape-vine shoots and tendrils look nice but need to be tied to their supports.  I guess we'll be buying tomatoes from the farmers' markets this year.  The garden spot is covered with dead leaves, a little hay, and the kitchen scraps for composting.  This is the seventh year of the garden.  We'll call it our "fallow year" and just pretend like we planned it this way all along.  Yup.  Sure.  Absolutely.

This year's catechetical symposium had a smaller attendance than usual.  But the topic was good. 

Took a trip down to my hometown to start helping with cleaning out my mom's house.  Between the travel, the late nights, and the simple physical work of going through drawers and closets and carrying things and walking back and forth, it took a week and a half of recuperating before I could do anything more than lie around (when I wasn't at work).  I was even too tired to read.  My appetite went away, and I still haven't cooked a real meal since before that trip.  I fear that I'm not going to have the strength to do what I should in this project.

What is it with all the rashes this past year?  It seems like, if somebody merely looks at me cross-eyed, I'll develop another rash.  Well, no, it's not people looking at me; it's plants getting anywhere near me. Thus the disincentive to be putzing in the garden very often.

I heard two different conversations at the wedding yesterday from young unmarried men.  You know what they each want in a wife?  Number 1 requirement: a woman.  What a different world it is today that this would even be mentioned in a joking way. 

One of the gals at work just had her baby, and the two college-aged gals are doing temporary internships (thus limiting their hours available for work).  I hope my hours get shuffled a bit for the next few weeks so that I can fill in holes instead of working my usual hours.  Thing is, I'm still under doctor's limitations on how many hours per week I may work -- that will keep me from overdoing.

I've got some editing to do, so all the rest of my to-do list for church tasks is getting ignored.

I tried going back to Curves to "exercise" -- with a very slow and easy trial of getting back to some physical activity.  That was right before we went on the trip to Illinois, so I haven't been about to go back to Curves again.

It happened again today: I decided that no matter what went undone, I had to call Mom because it's been so long since I talked to her.  And then I realized ... no, I wouldn't be calling Mom.  I wonder how long it will take before I quit forgetting.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Satan Doesn't Care

Best line from last week's sermon at the church we were visiting:

Satan doesn't care so much whether you sin,
but where you turn when you do.

Monday, June 01, 2015


My brain changed. 

Gary and I have noticed that, since my brain injury, I've been less emotional.  I don't cry anymore.  Well, let's say I don't blubber anymore. There have been occasional times where a tear or two might be shed.  This is weird, although not exactly unwelcome.

Last night he showed me a website with optical illusions.  For one trick, you stare at a picture's negative for 15 seconds, and then the positive image appears next to it.  It didn't work for me.  I did try a colored one this morning -- one that's in our set of old-fashioned encyclopedias (book form instead of Wiki).  That illusion worked, but not as well as it used to.

There was another illusion that Gary thought was mega-cool.  He showed it to me.  It was nifty and sparkly and kind of freaked you out how it worked.  But after a few seconds, there was a sharp, stabbing pain in my brain. 

Last year I could not watch the fireworks in summer.  After the first one went off, I had to get away immediately; the pain was intense and I thought my head would explode.  I don't know how much healing I've had and what this summer's firework displays will do to my brain.

Maggie and I decided my "Test of Tears" will be when I watch Something the Lord Made.  If I can watch that with only a few tears, we will have proof positive that my aneurysm blow-up was also a lobotomy.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Notes from Bible Class

"The glory of God's undying love" didn't die ... even when He did. 

John 3:6  -- "That which is born of the flesh is flesh.  That which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
That's like in Genesis 1: "after its own kind."

John 3:11 -- Nicodemus was a teacher in Israel.  Jesus thought he obviously should've known the things Jesus was talking about -- known them from the Old Testament scriptures.  Jesus says, "We speak what We know and testify what We have seen."  That's like in Luke 24 where Jesus shows the disciples how the entire Old Testament is all about Him and His atoning work.  Nicodemus should've known the first promise of salvation (Gen 3:15), He should've known the story about the bronze serpent (Num 21).  He should've known about the "Son of Man" (in Daniel).  He should've known about all those water stories (Gen 8, Ex 14, Josh 3, Jonah, et al) and also how washing was used in the tabernacle worship.  He should've known about the Spirit's blowing where He wills (Gen 1, Psalms, 1 Kings 19, et al).  But when Nicodemus didn't know these things that he should've known, what does Jesus do?  He talks about the Son of God on the cross, and that God wants to save, not to condemn.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Reading Challenge 2015

How to Respond to Eastern Religions -- finished Jan 7
Crunchy Cons, by Dreher -- finished Jan 13

Holy Housewifery -- finished Jan 17
Wild Swans, by Chang  -- finished Feb 25
Light in the Dark Belt: Story of Rosa Young -- March 7
Heidelberg Disputation -- finished April 2 
On Being a Theologian of the Cross, by Forde -- April 13
Broken: 7 "Christian" Rules ... to Break-- May 1
Let's Roll, by Beamer-- finished May 4
Christ for Us, by Preus

Pioneer Girl (biography of Laura)
The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You,  by Aron

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, by Karon -- March 30
Beyond the Mists, by Benchley
Cutting for Stone, by Verghese

~ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe -- May 17
~ Prince Caspian
~ Dawn Treader 
~ Silver Chair
~ Horse and His Boy -- finished April 16 [audio]
~ Magician's Nephew -- finished May 12 [audio] 

~ Last Battle
Harry Potter
Hammer of God

With Maggie:
Anne of Ingleside -- finished Jan 16
Rainbow Valley
Rilla of Ingleside

Penderwicks -- finished Feb 24
Carry On, Mr Bowditch
On to Oregon
Across Five Aprils

Swallows and Amazon series
or Little House series (again)
or Little Britches series
or Five Little Peppers

Additional Suggestions from Friends:
Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Hardcore Poor, by Sangree
Joel Salatin's 2007 book about food practices in the USA
Simply Classical
On Our Way Rejoicing, by Trobisch
Richest Man in Babylon
Finding Kansas
Our Island Story
Luther the Reformer, by James Kittelson
The Right to Be Wrong, by Seamus Hasson
How to Bake Pi, by Cheng (SCI 510.1)
Bitter is the New Black (817.6 LAN)

Faith, Hope, and Ivy June

House of Living Stones
Bride Most Begrudging
A Star for Mrs Blake
Caleb's Crossing

Friday, May 29, 2015

Catechism Olympics

The last day of school at church is a short day.  Nearly all of it is spent with chapel, Catechism Olympics, and closing prayer. 

I can't figure out why, but Catechism Olympics is FUN.  I haven't been able to attend for quite a while, due to my work schedule.  But this year I could go.  Grown-ups cannot participate, but it's fun in the same way as observing a spelling bee or the geography bee. 

First game: kids were divided into groups of three.  It was pretty much just like their weekly term quizzes, but lots of terms, and from the Old Testament stories for the whole school-year. 

Second game: Divided into girls versus boys.  This seemed unfair to me, as it was 3 against 11.  I was going to bolster the girl-side (even if I am a grown-up).  Pastor would not allow it.  The second game turned out to be "Name That Tune" with the learn-by-heart hymns from this past school year.  No wonder I was kicked out.  (I could've "named that tune in zero notes" for over half the songs.)  But the girls did well.  They didn't win, but it was close.

Third game: Another contest with terms, this time from Christmas stories and Easter stories.  Miss a question -- sit down.  Last one standing won.  Candy bars for prizes.

Fourth game: Another elimination game.  This time with reciting the catechism.

Finally, a hymn sing.  Each kid got to pick something from the hymnal and we all joined in singing.

NICE morning. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

No Greater Joy

My favorite sympathy card arrived today.  I had the biggest, silliest grin on my face as I read it.  There was nothing silly about the card, but the joy I found in that card was so overwhelming that I couldn't help but laugh with delight.  And pretty soon, as I continued to think on it while washing dishes, my eyes began to tear up. 

In his third epistle John says, "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth."

My goddaughter quoted a hymn for me.  Only four stanzas because that's all that fit on the back of the card.  "All Christians Who Have Been Baptized ...."  Oh my goodness!  What better hymn when a person faces death -- her own or the death of a loved one? And there were so many awesome bits of her note.

But the best part of all?  The line on the card said, "May friends comfort you, faith uphold you, and loving memories heal your heart."  She crossed out "loving memories" and wrote in "Jesus."

[Oh, shoot.  Now I'm starting to get misty-eyed again.]

She said she didn't like the part about loving memories bringing healing.  So she adjusted the wording. 

John's right.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.

So What Does "Forgiveness" Mean

"Forgive the shooter."  Those were the final words of the man who was shot in a murder spree a couple of weeks ago. 

Charlie Sykes (one of our favorite talk-radio guys in our area) didn't understand.  "How could he say that?  I couldn't do it.  Does that make me a bad Christian?  What does it mean to 'forgive'?!"

"Peter from Sussex" called in with a very good answer.  He got to say a lot.  (The set-up and the conversation with Pastor went from about the 5-min mark to about 13-minutes.)  Then Charlie continued the topic with other callers, as he struggled to understand forgiveness.  Now Charlie should come to Didache.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Passing of a Homeschooling Era

This morning I purchased postage stamps.  The artwork is exemplary.  Half the sheet is full of quotes and history-tidbits. 

And nobody will say, "MOM, let ME see!!"  "No, me first!"  "Wow!"  And my favorite: "You aren't going to put those on letters and send them AWAY, are you?  Do you HAVE to?"

This morning was a huge reminder of a life that's been left behind.

Monday, May 18, 2015

If Your Heart Condemns You

I never noticed how those two verses work in tandem.

John tells us (1 John 3)
If our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God.

A condemning heart? No problem.  God is right and our heart is wrong.
A confident heart?  Again -- no problem. 

John isn't giving us a message of "Buck up and stop letting your heart condemn you, you pitiful weakling of a doubter."  Quite the contrary.  John says, "No matter how you feel, no matter what kind of accusations the devil hurls at you, Jesus' forgiveness takes care of it all and we are safe in Him."

It sure is great to have somebody who can point these things out to me ... even though it seems so obvious now that I wonder how I never saw it before.

Friday, May 15, 2015


A 2014 movie set in the 1700s in British society.  Rated PG.  A biracial girl is being raised by her dad's uncle and aunt.  Who is prejudiced, and who pretends not to be?  Beautiful costumes and scenery.  Awesome acting.  Based on a true story.  Plot covers the biographical aspect of Dido and her family, as well as the legal aspect of slavery in Britain.

Rachel told me she knew I'd want to see this.  Boy, she was right!  After she loaned me her Netflix DVD and I returned it, I left the movie on my Netflix queue so I can see it again.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blessed Are the Dead Who Die in the Lord

My mom died last weekend.  It so happened to be exactly 25 years after the death of my goddaughter.  Funeral and burial were this week.

Random thoughts:

Mom's family is awesome.  I have the funnest cousins in the world, and some mighty nifty uncles and aunts.

When my daughter-in-law saw a picture of Mom (in a swimsuit) in her late teens (one of the photos that Dad took with him when he went off to his military stint), Mandy said, "Paul, your grandma was a fox!"  For some reason, Paul did not appreciate this perspective.

The nurses in the oncology dept are superb.  Is it because they're more used to people dying?  Or maybe it's just the individual nurses we happened to encounter.  In my opinion, they outshone the nurses on other floors.

I'm impressed by the funeral home.  They're not "slick."  They have been genuine and helpful and kind.

Boy oh boy, I heard over and over and over from visitors how nice Mom was, how sweet, how they'd never met anyone so kind.  (Yup.  Pretty good assessment, that's for sure.)

I guess I'd never realized (until talking with Pastor while making funeral arrangements) that Mom didn't really have any hobbies.  She was at church for everything.  She invested a lot of time in her family.  She had her job.  And other than that, she helped people.  She didn't have time for hobbies and interests: she was too busy providing assistance others.

We didn't eat ham-buns at the funeral dinner.  (The funeral was obviously not in Wisconsin.)  County Market makes phenomenal chicken.  Delicious call on my sister's part to go with the chicken instead of the sandwiches.  Mmm mmm mmm.

Isn't it amazing that God gives pastors who will minister to those who are sick and dying?  Men who will come even when it's past their bedtime.  Men who keep coming back, even if there be no visible response from the member.  But still they come with the gospel of forgiveness of sins.  Thanks be to God.

My brother pointed out that, when the funeral home came to pick up Mom, she did not moan or grimace or cry out in pain.  Every time somebody had moved her for the previous 3+ weeks, it had been excruciating for her.  No more.  "And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes....  There shall be no more pain."

Death cannot destroy forever.  
From our fears, cares, and tears 
it will us deliver....  

Lord, my Shepherd, take me to Thee.  
Thou are mine.  I was Thine 
even e'er I knew Thee.  
I am Thine for Thou hast bought me.  
Lost I stood, but Thy blood 
free salvation brought me.  TLH 523

ADD footnote:
For certain of you who object to the word "funnest," I'll have you know that the computer did NOT flag that word as a misspelling or grammar-oops.  So HA.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Advent Wreath

A friend of mine does gorgeous wood-working.  He's been turning his hobby into a small business.  Look at some of the things he's made.

The Advent wreath is in the shape of a cross.  It can hold tapers or the little votive candles.  (I can find votives in purple and pink much easier than I can find tapers.  So I prefer the little glass globes for the stumpy candles.)

The Christmas-tree ornaments are delicately worked and make a full nativity set.  When I saw them on the Christmas tree at church, I coveted them.  When a set went up for sale at our school's annual fund-raising auction, we were lucky enough to get a set for ourselves.  Woo hoo!

Matt's website isn't fully set up yet.  But for those of you who know us, the website will give you enough information that you would know how to contact him if you want to purchase something to be crafted over summer for gift-giving next fall/winter.  For those who will be attending symposium, there may be some of these beauties for sale there; there were last year, at least.  For those of you who don't know us, there's information on the website about a craft booth in Spring Green.  (He doesn't know that I've bragged about him here in public, and I'm not finding information online.  So there's nothing for me to point you to, for easy-breezy ordering information.  If there's something you'd be interested in, you'd just have to write or call and start asking questions.)

Friday, May 08, 2015


Things continued to go downhill for my mom.  Two weeks after her fall, there was a precipitous decline, but somehow she managed to live through it.  We enrolled her in in-hospital hospice.  Her gazillion meds were discontinued.  Not long after that, she was awake and aware and discussing with my brother that she agrees it's time to stop all these life-extending measures. 

She's been 10 days without dialysis now.  She's not eating.  Mom is dying slowly.  At one point, someone reminded her about going to be with Jesus, and she asked plaintively, "What's taking Him so long?" 

The hospital lost her hearing aid.  That's sad.  When you wish for her to be able to hear many times "I love you" and "Jesus loves you and forgives you and cherishes you," she struggles to hear.  Last time I was there, she kept reaching for the volume-control on her hearing aid, trying to turn up the sound, and she couldn't find it.  Nevertheless, God will be faithful to His promises to her.

Every wound that pains or grieves me
by Thy stripes, Lord, is made whole.
When I'm faint Thy cross revives me,
granting new life to my soul.
Yea, Thy comfort renders sweet
every bitter cup I meet,
for Thine all-atoning passion
has procured my soul's salvation.   (TLH 144:3)


The doctor has been telling me all along, "You're still healing.  You have to give yourself a full year."

Okay.  It's been a year now.

Changes to learn to live with:
~ sciatica
~ need for an extra two hours of sleep per night
~ headaches when I overdo
~ a perpetual infection that needs to be kept to a minimum
~ introversion has been greatly magnified
~ walking slower 
~ easier to get rashes and sunburn
~ fuzzy-brainedness (that irritates Gary when I complain of it because he says I still have a better memory and thinking ability than most people ... which doesn't make it any easier for me to adjust to)

BUT ...
I'm talking, driving, going to work, and able to do pretty much whatever I did before (except that I must do So Much Less of it.)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Mom's Escapades

When a frail woman's walker meets a snag on the parking lot, at the same time a gust of wind pushes at her, the results are not happy. 

My mom fell last week.  She was unresponsive.  The trauma team's first concern was the bleeding in her head.  Second concern was getting her on dialysis.  They finally got around to a feeding tube, both for nutrition and some critical daily medicine that's available orally but not for IV's.  For the first few days there were some brief periods of mumbled speech and quasi-awareness.  But after three days she finally began to wake up.  That's also how long it took us to convince the doctors to take x-rays to check for a broken hip. "Our first concern is the head trauma."  Right, guys.  And that's been stabilized, so quit poo-pooing her excruciating pain and check for broken bones.

After two days of her "being here" again, delirium set in.  My brother finally convinced the doctors to treat the infection she had begun prior to the fall, the infection which was the reason for taking Mom out to the doctor last week, which was when she fell. 

Mom is lucid again and has improved enough to leave ICU.

At one point last week, when she was first beginning to wake up and there was great pain from being repositioned, Mom said, "Jesus died for me.  That's all that matters.  He died for me.  That's the big thing."  Yes.

And when I was remarking on her doozy of a black eye, I suggested that she looked like she'd been in a fight.  "A fight with the sidewalk," she mumbled.  Yes.  I agreed.  Mom quipped, "The sidewalk won."  Ah, a sense of humor peeking out from behind all those injuries!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Garden Report

Strawberry bed is under control.  It did not receive necessary attention last summer, so it was thinned-with-a-vengeance in the last couple of weeks.  Soil somewhat loosened, without threatening the roots of remaining plants.  A couple inches of compost applied.  I have Good Intentions (TM) of treating the bed properly after the plants bear this year.

Last year's dead vines have been burned to a small pile of ash.  That was no simple feat, but it has been accomplished.

Gary cleaned out the dead asparagus leftover from last year.  I really should get out there and till a bit, before the new growth begins to pop up.  It's weedy.

A bunch of last year's leaves have been piled deep on one of the raised beds, with potatoes planted [today] in those nice loose leaves.  I've been seeing good results in both growth and harvesting when the potatoes aren't buried in dirt.  I topped the humongous pile of leaves with some of that lovely old compost, partly to encourage the leaves to compost down, but mostly to keep the leaves from blowing away. 

I took some of that spare compost and filled in the big hole by my clothesline.  After septic-line repairs last fall, the soil has settled badly.  I planted a bit of grass seed there.  And I laughed at the oddball spots the tulips are popping up after last fall's visit from the backhoe and the whole dirt-rearrangement scheme.

Lots of pruning to do -- fruit trees, berries, grapes.
Still need to get a bed ready for lettuces.
Lots more outdoor work awaits, but I'm trying to prioritize tasks and to limit how much I allow myself to do.  Can't overtire because of the repercussions to health.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Jam-Packed Parking Lots

Menards, on the first lovely, warm, springy weekend-day after a long Wisconsin winter

rivals the parking lot of

a Walmart on the Saturday before Christmas.

People checking out with rakes,
building materials,
landscaping paraphenalia,
bushes or seeds to plant,
and anything else to do with OUTDOORS.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

'Tis the Word

Mark the sacrifice appointed,
see who bears the awful load.
'Tis the Word,
the Lord's anointed,
Son of Man
and Son of God.
Palm Sunday.  Palms.  Donkey.  Crowds.  The Passover psalm applied to Jesus.  "His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him" (John 12)

Wait a minute.

These things --these things in Zechariah and the Psalms-- were written about Him

Moses wrote stories about Jesus.
Isaiah wrote about Jesus.
David wrote about Jesus.
Jeremiah wrote about Jesus.
Joshua and Samuel and Ezekiel and Solomon wrote about Jesus.

All those stories about Jephthah and Samson and Isaac and Ezra and Aaron and Nebuchadnezzar and Abel and Daniel -- they show us stuff about Jesus.  So when we sing this week, "Tis the Word," and when we're reading the story of Jesus' trial and scourging and crucifixion, it IS the "Word," the scriptures' stories, all tied up in one Man's suffering and death.

Monday, March 30, 2015

"Even If I Have to Die With You ..."

Peter swore up and down that he wouldn't deny Jesus. 
Jesus said he would.

From our vantage point, we see the story unfold.  We see the courtyard of the high priest and how Peter swore up and down that he didn't know Jesus. 

My son pointed out something today I'd never noticed.  In the upper room, Peter really meant it.  Not only did he have "good intentions," but he began to follow through out at the Garden of Gethsemane.  The soldiers arrive.  Peter draws his sword and starts to fight.  He was going to stick by Jesus, even if he had to die with Him, and fight those enemies.

But Jesus said to put the sword away. 
Put the sword away?!
What kind of nonsense is that?!
Dying in a fight is one thing.
That would be protecting yourself, but losing in the end.
But to give up?
To die willingly?
To accept the unfair attack without hitting back?

That's when Peter said, "I'm outta here" and "I do not know this fellow."

A Lamb goes uncomplaining forth
the guilt of all men bearing....
O wondrous love! 
What hast thou done?
The Father offers up His Son.
The Son content descendeth.  [Gerhardt]

Jesus is weird [Isaiah 55:7-9].

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Boring Old Update

No matter how much vacuuming and dusting we do, it's never done.  One of the cats is shedding abominably.  I keep wishing I were heartless enough to shave her bald.

This coming week: church every single day!  This is the week I live for.

The just-past week: Besides work, we
a) celebrated a birthday by seeing Cinderella in the theatre.  It was amazing!  We also ate walleye and french fries at Culver's.  Mmmmm.
b) dealt with a pair of broken glasses that were less than two months old.  The frames must have been defective.  But it took three trips to a nearby city and a phone call to the national headquarters before we could resolve who was paying for the replacement.
c) one day of errands with ELEVEN stops: drop off a kid; bank; courthouse; liquor store; grocery storre; Target; Best Buy; Aldi; another bank; another grocery store; and a stop at church.  Almost 3 1/2 hours, but boy oh boy, it wiped me out.
d) filled out legal paperwork ... and wondered why I had to get it off the internet ... because the snail-mail forms never showed up in our mailbox.  So where are those snail-mail forms with name and address and birthdate and other bits of personal information?

Last week:
A humongous mess as I took over the whole choir room at church to divide up the files I've been sorting since September.  I finally arrived at the point where I couldn't thin and rearrange any more, not until I got everything out at once and reshuffled.  It exhausted my mind and my body, but now I can return to working on small portions of the project in reasonably-sized doses.

What else?

Mom moved into a assisted-living/nursing home arrangement.  She loves the place.

I worked on the strawberry bed before the weather turned icy again.  I have no clue whatsoever how we're going to handle the garden space, plants, compost, brush, etc.  Lack of time and energy means reducing the amount of work/commitments I make.  And I'm not good at backing out of things I think are important.

Maggie's been continuing to work out and her weight/size are stable.  I however have been eating too much chocolate. 

Gary got a few new teeth and is adjusting to them.

I'm almost done with the new Mitford book.  I love Mitford.  Part of me wants to just start reading the series over again right away.  But I'm going to stick with my reading plan and fit in a few other things first.  Honestly, though, I wouldn't be surprised to find myself going back to At Home in Mitford soon.

Now, to make some bread, clean some floors, and finish Mitford ... bye-bye.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Today's Laugh

Hey, did you hear about the postman who planned an overseas trip with his wife?  He proudly announced to his friends that he was going to Spain. 

His friend Bill asked, "So will you visit Parcelona?"

The postman rolled his eyes, shook his head, and ignored the comment.

The next day Bill was telling his neighbor about the pun.  Bill related how the postman didn't appreciate the joke.  The neighbor understood how there might be lack of enthusiasm over the humor: "You know, Bill, the thing about jokes is ... it's all in the delivery."

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Granddaughter

I was so proud whenever my grandma would introduce me to people as "My Only Granddaughter."

That's really just stupid.  Why be proud of that? 
And yet, I was.

When my sister was born, that was nifty enough that I didn't pine over the loss of my "Only" status.   But even today, I remember the way Nanna would stand tall and throw her shoulders back a bit and smile over the words, "My only granddaughter."

Rachel called today after her ultrasound.  I have another granddaughter.  Woo hoo!  It thrills the heart.  (Although, as Rachel and Matt said, we'd be just as thrilled to hear that it's a boy.)

Somehow that made me think of Nanna.  And it made me realize that Matthias is "My Only Grandson."  At least for a while.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Jimmy and Shakespeare and APT

In which we figure out why someone who used to detest Shakespeare is now crazy about American Players Theatre:

Four years have passed since Gary and I headed into the city to see In Acting Shakespeare.  It seems like just the other day.  The show made a huge impression on me.  (Recent runs of IAS have been nowhere near here.  If it ever comes back to this area, I sure hope we hear about it and can snag some tickets.)

Tonight I watched Ian McKellen's Acting Shakespeare, upon which Jimmy DeVita's show is based. There were fabulous sections that caused thrills to run up and down my spine.  But you know what?  Shhhh -- don't tell anybody I said this: Jimmy's show was even better than Sir Ian's. 

Jimmy's play discussed education.
And fatherhood.
And family.
And hard work.
And art.
And how amazing words can be.
With no pontification.
It was all in a riveting story, full of laughs and even a few tears.

He tells of his youth and his blue-collar jobs.  He tells about dropping out of college.  Twice.  And how he finally ended up on a college fieldtrip where he saw Ian McKellen Acting Shakespeare ... and how he was transfixed by the play.  He too wanted to be able to affect people that way!

But when he finally convinced his dad to come see one of his performances, his father didn't like it.  Why?  Same reason I hated Shakespeare.  (Honestly, it's same reason I still hate a whole lot of presentations of Shakespearean plays.)  Too often, a Shakespeare play makes you feel dumb.  Dumb dumb dumb.  You don't understand the words.  Therefore you don't follow the plot and you don't get the jokes.  And you certainly don't get the play's commentary on power or forgiveness or mercy or grudges.

As Jimmy explained in In Acting Shakespeare, the Bard's plays shouldn't make you feel small.  They should make you feel BIG and grand and full.  If they make you feel small, there's something wrong with how the play is being presented.

Jim DeVita began to learn how to converse with the words of Shakespeare.  In the play he talked about coming to APT.  Jimmy's not the only one at APT who handles the Shakespearean language as if he were conversing.  Most of the actors and actresses do.  Every now and then you run across an intern who doesn't get it yet, and that person sticks out like a sore thumb.  At APT they tell the story in such a way that you follow it all:  the story, the jibes and barbs and witty insults, the silly love triangles, and maybe even The Moral Of The Story.  You don't go to APT so that you can pretend to be part of the [ahem] cultural elite that watches Shakespeare to show off what a Smarty you are.  You go to APT to be entertained and to laugh and maybe even to have your heart-strings tugged, because that's what Shakespeare was all about -- entertaining the masses.  And at APT, they work hard to make sure everybody finds delight in the shows.