Saturday, August 30, 2008

A new chaplain is installed. Is there anything more moving than a soldier on his knees?

Saturday Again!

Today is "help Jay move day." A nice apartment on a nice street in a nice small town has been found, with a swingset in the back yard and kids up and down the block. It looks like a good home, and what better time to move than a 3-day weekend?

Today is also "can tomato day." A bushel has been procured from Don. I shouldn't have asked. He has impeccable timing; remember when I got green beans at the height of our county fair fun? Well, these tomatoes need to be canned today; "help Jay move day." Ah, well. That's life in the country.

Today is riding lesson day. Mary will be up soon, getting ready for her date with Bucky.

All in all, a usual Saturday with some "unusual" built in, just for fun. It's odd, what passes for fun around here. :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Come To My Window

Remember our night visitor? Well, she has taken to roosting in my kitchen window!

She seems to like squeezing into the triangle of the open window. Maybe the closeness makes her feel secure. In any case, she shows up about when I'm putting dinner on the table. She announces her presence with a few loud clucks, then settles in. As we do the dishes, she talks to us with little chirrups. If we get up in the night for a drink, she talks to us again. In the morning, she's gone when we get up, although she comes by to say, "Hi," when we head out for chores.

Much like Pioneer Woman, I probably get a little too maternal about our critters. Heaven help me when our bottle calf arrives later in September! Last night our air conditioning was actually on; the humidity came up later in the day, and the heat as well. Her window was closed, but Mrs. Hen still wanted to roost. She was very upset, walking back and forth on the windowsills that run along the back of the house. So was I. Despite John telling me I was nuts, and despite the fact that I agreed with him, I opened the window so she could snuggle in for the night.

And she was there until the wee hours of the morning!

Side note; the sign on the windowsill is my mom's idea of ha-ha-funny-funny!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Papa, You Taught Me to Read, But You Did Leave Some Holes in My Education - Watch more free videos

Thanks, Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake, for the heads-up.

Now to get her brothers working on Mary's education...

Late Summer

It's been lovely here this week. The temperatures have been perfect, and the humidities, too. Until today, it's been sunny and bright; today has been all-day rain. But it is needed.

It's been fragrant, too. I have been freezing pies, of course, and that adds a wonderful perfume. But the outside, air, too, has changed. Still fresh, there are hints of warm grass and burning brush. You know, that warm grass smell that comes at the end of summer, when the soil is warm and the grass is dry. Just beautiful.

No leaves changing yet, though. There's still time for that.

Homeschooling has started. Little people and big are remembering the math they learned last May, and new subjects like Civics and Modern History are in the plan. We even had our first field trip this week. Not many teachers would take a day off in the first week, but I'm not many teachers and the raspberries were ripe! The next one will likely be to an apple orchard, where the Seanster will learn what makes apples grow and we'll get some to dip in caramel... Yum!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Where is the Hope?

I should be watching and listening to the speeches from the Democratic National Convention tonight. I really should. But I am glad, instead, that reruns of Frazier are on. I just don't have it in me today to hear the pap I'm sure I'd hear. I have got this cynical thing going on today that has me in the hole of feeling that it doesn't matter what I do, decisions will be made without me and I will have to live with them. Feeling ironically hopeless, I think I'll go to bed.

Oh, no. John has turned it on. He's listening to Joe Biden. Will I get drawn in? Probably not.

Here's my take on it. Obama hasn't done much, and I don't see how someone like him will be able to get anything done in the future. So, there are two scenarios.

One is that he wins the Presidency and takes office. He serves four years, gets little done, and is not reelected. It's kinda the "Jimmy Carter syndrome." Sadly, though, during those four years, we could be doing so much to make this country more secure and less dependent on the rest of the world.

The other scenario, where McCain becomes President, works better for this military mom. I feel better entrusting my sons to a Commander in Chief who knows what they're going through than to someone who has no clue. (Here's an interesting perspective; more about Mrs. McCain than about Mr, but still interesting.) I think that's where I'll place my attention and energy in the coming months. Come November, we'll see if I spent wisely.

Update: Remember those apples? Four pans of apple slices were put into the freezer today. And we picked raspberries; 8 pints of raspberry jam and a hefty snack for Mary.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I was thinking... ("A dangerous pastime" "I know." Quick; what movie? It's one of my ALL TIME favorites, if that helps any!) I know I've had lots of time to think about this, but this is when I chose to do it.

If certain decisions are above a certain someone's pay grade...What if he runs into another one? When a decision comes along that he feels is "above (his) paygrade" what happens? Does he not make the decision? Does he hand it off to someone higher? Who is higher? What about the rest of us? Where do we end up?

And what IS "above (his) paygrade," anyway? I suspect it's just a way to avoid making a decision, as he has many times in the past. But that's mean-spirited. I'm sure there's an honest reason why he said that.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Putting More By

Today was supposed to be our first day of school. Mary did do a little history. I have a new student this year; a 1st grader I'll call Seanster. Today Seanster did some "placement testing," which means we talked about values for pennies, nickels and dimes, and we read some. Tomorrow starts the real work.

But before the real work begins, I needed some time to do some real work. Got that? This weekend I picked up three-fourths of a bushel of Lodi apples, a summer apple which makes lovely pies and sauce. So, today I got Grandma and Mary peeling and slicing.

Pastry was rolled.

Apples and spices were mixed.

Pies were assembled.

And vacuum sealed. (What a neat toy! Thanks, Mom, for the Christmas present!)

And, while one was baked for tonight, the end result was...5 pies in my freezer!

That is going to be so satisfying on some cold winter night. With some coffee. And a fire. Mmmm.....

Saturday, August 23, 2008


(NOTE: It's Blogger's fault that this didn't show up until Sunday.)

Just to shake things up (because I'm all about change, you know) I decided to do my weekly farm report AFTER the fact this week. I can hear you all saying, "Woo hoo!" from here.

Today was predicted to be 87 degrees and very humid. During our morning walk, and at Mary's riding lesson (where I, once again, was able to ride, and there was no flapping of elbows, thankyouverymuch)

I noticed that the prediction was most likely to come true. I decided that this would be a good day to hide in the air conditioning clean the house. So clean we did. John and Mary took advantage of the excuse that it looked like rain to avoid the yard work that also needed to be done and joined me inside in the cool. The upstairs looks awesome; we never got to the downstairs, but that'll be done tomorrow and won't take so long anyway.

All this worry about cleaning is motivated by school starting Monday. Once the homeschooling is in full swing, there will be less time for other housewifey details like cleaning. I have deluded myself into thinking that, if I get it all in shape this weekend, a few minutes of maintenance will be all I will need as the fall comes on. JUST IN CASE, I once again broached the subject of a cleaning person to help me out once a month. John did not react, so I am thinking that that may be a possibility. Stay tuned.

I know, or have been told, that homeschoolers should not worry about cleaning and such. That our lives are all about the children, their wants and needs, and making a safe, fun environment for them to learn in. Well, if Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, and this Momma ain't happy if the floor is crunchy. If my bathrooms are sanitary and my kitchen, too, I am a happy camper. BUT I also need the dust bunnies under control and the closet doors close-able, or I get really distracted and take time away from schooling to put things in order again. It's worth trying to hire someone to do it for me.

Will I? I said, STAY TUNED.

Friday, August 22, 2008

August 22

Today we have been married 27 years. I have come a long way from when I thought people who had been married 27 years were old. Now I prefer words like Experienced. Seasoned. Well-Traveled.
27 years of ignoring Someone's inability to do two things at once. Although he has learned to walk and chew gum at the same time, talking to him while he's doing something else, even eating, can be...problematic.
27 years of indecision. I take that one, too. The pastor who married us administered a personality profile during our pre-marital counseling, to give us a heads-up on "potential areas of conflict." He told us that we both ranked so low on decision-making skills that we would "not only have trouble deciding when to have children or where to buy a house, but also which movie to see on Friday night." I can vouch for us on that one. We're really bad at making decisions. And sometimes on agreeing on what the final decision really was.
But we're good at ignoring.
We ignore our separate personalities in favor of our collective one. Yeah, I can want, want, want some pretty high-maintenance things, and so can he. But together, we have different collective wants. Setting aside our own agendas in favor of the collective is, I think, one of our strengths.
We ignore the little irritations that can often cause so much conflict. We realize that they aren't going to be there forever, and so we shouldn't let them become an issue. Even the ones that will never go away--like forgetting that our bed is an official No Snore Zone--shouldn't become issues. What we have together is worth the aggravations we feel separately
At least I think so. How about you, sweetie? Happy Anniversary.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Lost Week

Boy, it sure feels that way sometimes, doesn't it? I feel like I've been somewhere else this week and may not get to return! You know it's bad when I don't check e-mail for two days!
Why do we let our lives spin out of control like this sometimes? It wasn't a matter of lack of organization as much as it was events conspiring, if you can understand that. There was always something else coming along and pulling me away; constant little fires that needed putting out.
I really like to have a handle on things. I hope I'm not a control freak, but I like my routine to be consistent and my life to be predictable. Almost boring, even. But not this week. Not even close.
How do YOU deal with it when that happens? My Weight Watcher self was glad that I only turned to food 3...maybe 4 times. And I always did it in a healthy and responsible way. Until my homeschool mom group came over today and I had blueberry pie and brownies staring at me. Even still, I am not unhappy with what I ate and how I coped. I did tell John yesterday that I'm not sure how much longer I can handle a schedule like this. I realize that I have to change what's going on, and I am actually looking forward to school starting next week. That comes with a somewhat built-in routine.
Tomorrow I will be beginning another second career. I'll be substitute teaching this school year, and I'll be in a 4 year-old preschool classroom in the afternoon. Should be interesting, no?

Monday, August 18, 2008


"To answer that question with specificity would be above my paygrade.."

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I Know, I Know

I shouldn't be posting today. But there are some of you who I thought might like this.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Guess What I Did Today


Another hint;

4 pints of blueberry jam, and the rest of a ten-pound box frozen.
4 pints of peach jam, a pie set aside, and the rest of a half-bushel frozen.

I am breaking my resolution to avoid going out to dinner until our anniversary next week. I just can't cook tonight. I'm a wuss.

We also went to Milton, WI, to pick up Ethan's car. He ran it off the road near Mauston, WI, about three weeks ago, and it's been held hostage at a body shop ever since. Seems rural WI has problems getting parts for cars. But the kind people there agreed to meet us in between.

Up at 6:30, driving all morning, putting up fruit all afternoon. Isn't there a medal for this? At least I know the Dishes Fairy will show up and wash my canners and big pans while we go out for pizza!

In my dreams.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Heavenly Scents

Susan, who lives a little more than an hour away from me, blogged about our recent glorious weather. We're getting more of the same tonight. As I headed off to bed, I was shutting the front door, and got a whiff of the great outdoors. Fresh, cool summer air with hints of straw harvest and our pond. Mmmmmm.....

A Rant

Today was "one of those days." You know how there have been days when I blogged about my schedule, and someone would respond, "Just reading that makes me tired!" Well, today was like that. Laundry (I folded all that laundry from earlier in the week!) and little people, and Grandma's nurse, and phone calls to attorneys and relatives to answer questions from Grandma's nurse and making lunch and trying to get a walk in and dealing with...Well, it doesn't matter.

All of that was ENOUGH. But, what pushed me over the edge was the phones. We were STUPID enough to buy cordless phones. THREE of them. One was for our dining room; handset 1. One was for our office; handset 2. And one was for Grandma; handset 3. Never mind that Grandma's NEVER leaves her nightstand ("it might run out of battery") and, instead, we often find handset 1 in her walker or on the table by her chair. Never mind that. Today ALL THREE went missing. And, you know, nothing guarantees repeated phone calls like a missing cordless. Racing through the house got the best of me; I gave up and started using the stationary phone that we keep on the kitchen wall IN CASE OF EMERGENCY AND ALL OUR PHONES ARE MISSING. Never mind that we thought, "No WAY that would happen, ha, ha!"


Handset 3 was found on the cradle (who put it there? No one would admit it) in the dining room. Handset 2 was found on the kids' computer desk, where Ethan sat. (I asked, "Is the phone there?" "No, Mom.") Handset 1 miraculously appeared; if I were Catholic, I would thank St. Anthony. But I'm Lutheran; so I have to thank God.

Right now I have handset 2 and am at my computer desk in the office. Handset 3 is on Grandma's nightstand, preserving it's charge. Handset 1 is, once again, lost in the ozone. Would someone please send it back?


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

10-4, Good Buddy!

I was thinking today, as I do, occasionally, and I remembered something...
Back in the late 70s, my parents were caught up in the citizens' band radio craze. Anyone as old as me probably remembers CB's. They were the almost-cell phones of the time.

My mom and dad would talk to their friends from a base unit in the house, and from mobile units in their cars. They had "handles;" "Javelin" and "Ding-A-Ling." They aggravated the neighbors by interfering with their television reception (this was before cable, too, younglings; we actually had antennas!) and by then refusing to admit they did.

They got together monthly for a club meeting with the other members of their club, the Communicators. The Communicators recruited others to be Communicators. They had a great social dynamic happening there. Romances happened, marriages were made...and broken up.

Now, I was thinking about this, and I thought of blogging. Bloggers put their opinions out there for sharing...or not. They can excite a group of friends with their witty comments...or incite them with their cutting sarcasm...or bore them to tears on occasion. Bloggers have unique, descriptive names for their blogs...almost "handles." Bloggers have friends who blog. Bloggers try to recruit other bloggers.

Do you you suppose...Bloggers are the CBers of the early part of the 21st century?


I'm tired of trying to remember abbreviations as opposed to names. I have decided that you are big enough to know that JP4 is really Jay, MAP is Matthew, EP is Ethan and MSP is Mary. The JP4lings will still use the abbreviation, because it's cute.
I know, both of my readers knew this already. Humor me.

Please return to your business.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Aftermath

Sin stinks. After feeding myself well for weeks and weeks of Weight Watchers, I wine, chocolate and much rich food. I suffered for two days. It has been a hangover of sorts, even though the wine consisted of a grand total of one glass. Oh. There was also some Bailey's in my coffee. But just once.
Anyway, Round Unvarnish'd Tale and Elephant's Child wrote some amazing reports of our fun. I'll let you read them about it; you can also check out Rebellious Pastor's Wife's report. I, instead, will tell you of the aftermath.

The laundry in my home multiplied while I was gone. I always try to wash every stitch of clothing we own before I leave for any extended time (read: more than one overnight.) It is a little known fact that, given the opportunity, clothing will breed in the laundry bin. Mine took the chance. When I woke up Monday morning, this is the sight that greeted me;

The horror. The abject misery.

This has been my life for the past 36 hours;

Lest you fear for me, know that I am not daunted. Although much washing has been done, and much remains, there is light at the end of the tunnel. The dark clothes are being washed. And I have had some respite from the laundry; I spent some time paying bills and tending to other financial matters yesterday. And today I got to take Grandma and Mary to the doctor.

Life is a barrel of laughs here.

But the laundry will be clean.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I Just Gotta Share...

MSP and friend just showed us this one....Please consider it your civic duty to watch this all the way to the end.
Let's get behind these guys!

Saturday Farm Report

Today...I am not on the farm! I am away with friends, staying up late, and eating Mongolian barbecue and talking way too much. Or not.

This week the lawn DID get mowed. Some chickens were taken to the butcher. And...appointments were made for the pigs and lambs for their journey to small, white packages. More on that later.

I'm back to the chocolate, Greek salad and wine! Toodles!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Making Pickles

Dill pickles were made this week. Four gallons. Bread and butter, too; one gallon. How, you ask? Well, let me show you.

Acquire and wash pickling cucumbers. Mine were acquired from the wife of the man who sells me apples and pears. He'd sell me peaches, too, but the winters/early springs have not been kind lately. He (and she) lives about 15 minutes away.

Sometimes it's fun to ask a friend to help. This is Pistol Packin' Presbytera, who has been visiting this week. We've eaten too much and laughed alot, stayed up too late and spent very little, but time with each other. It's been fun.

She was loading the cukes into the crock which would be their home until we eat them all. It starts looking like this

and ends up looking like this.

Spices are added; mixed pickling spices, dill and bay leaves. And garlic. And more garlic. Don't forget garlic.

Then brine is poured over. Brine is just water which has been heated so that some salt will dissolve in it. Vinegar is added, and, for these pickles, I cool the brine.

Then I put a small plate on top of the pickles, so they won't float up out of the brine. I cover it with plastic wrap; this is because I was poor when I bought the crocks and by the time I got to go back and get lids, they had stopped selling them. Even online I haven't found them. So you know they aren't out there.

And here they are, covered and weighted and ensconced in my refrigerator. They will start tasting like pickles in about three weeks. They will get better and better as time goes on, peaking around Christmas. If my family doesn't eat them all beforehand, they'll be served at Christmas dinner.

These are great dill pickles. And I owe it all to my friends; Presbytera, for helping, and Marie, who gave me the recipe in the first place.

Melody and the Night Visitor

The other night I was visiting sites on my computer in the kitchen. My back was to the kitchen, and MSP was doing dishes. I could hear a tap-tap-tapping that was swift, light, and irregular. I wondered what on earth MSP was doing, and turned to ask. Instead, I found we had a night visitor. Outside our kitchen window, I saw

None of the chickens has done this before. She was one of the hens who attended the fair. We figure she missed the human contact. Or she liked the bugs that collected on the window; hence the tap-tap-tapping. Or she thought she was roosting; that windowsill is about 7 feet above the ground.

Whatever the reason, it was a fun visit.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Vocation? Or Interruption?

I had semi-formed plans today to go shopping for new walking shoes, take Grandma to her friend's for lunch, pick up a 1/2 bushel of pickles, and maybe see some friends of my own. But, as C. S. Lewis reminds me every time I look up from my keyboard at the bulletin board on the wall:

"The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's "own" or "real" life. The truth is, of course, that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life--the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one's "real life" is a phantom of one's own imagination."

Big interruption today. Grandma woke up with extremely low blood pressure. Luis the Nurse made his regular visit, and found her still in bed. After vitals were taken and medication discussed, it became apparent that I wasn't going anywhere.

So I've been playing Melody the Nurse, taking vitals every hour or so, relaying them to the medicos, who agree she's much better. She has had lunch and is up and reading the paper, so things are going well.

I could have been very angry about this. I admit, I'm disappointed, and moreso because I really need those shoes for tomorrow's walk. But, I will get them. I will get them on another day than I intended, but they will be on my feet in the end. Grandma's friend was very understanding, and we'll set up another date for the two of them. My friends, well, they're traveling, so I guess I miss out. But EP will head off soon for the pickles. My kitchen floor might get washed today; it should have been done, but I put it off. And I'll get a nap. Wow! What an exciting life I lead.

It's not hang-gliding and foreign travel, but there's never a dull moment in my life. And sometimes there are very special ones, like taking care of Grandma when she's sick. And that's the way it is.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Book I Finished

I picked up The Farm on Nippersink Creek about a week and a half ago. I've been meaning to post a short review of it, but, with the fair and all, it's been busy.

Nippersink Creek flows about 40 minutes from here, to the north and east. It flows through the town of Spring Grove, where the author, Jim May, grew up. So you can say it's "local storytelling." We "buy local" as much as possible here.

It's a nice little book, with 18 stories from his young life. People who have lived here all their lives tell me of Jim May coming into their classrooms to tell stories. His stories "Terror in the Barnyard" and "Horse Snot," included in this book, were hilarious (although I doubt very much the latter was told in any school classroom.) I recommend it for nightable reading, and am willing to pass on my copy to the first person who wants it. Not that I want to get rid of it; it's just full of good stories.

My connection to the book is that I buy local honey from Tim May. Not sure of the relationship, but I'm sure they are.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Say It Ain't So, Joe

I loved this book. But that has nothing to do with my post.

Since beginning Weight Watchers, 6 weeks ago now, I have not eaten much chocolate. Maybe 4 times, and, for a confirmed chocolate addict (I was genuinely afraid of my habit) that's a big deal. Three of those occasions were this week, as I celebrated my birthday and the visit of a friend.

Sunday night we ate at my favorite restaurant, Ted's Montana Grill. As it was my birthday celebration, I had dessert; a peanut butter cookie and two scoops of Haagen Dazs chocolate ice cream. It was wonderful; but I was up in the night with heartburn.

Wednesday night we ate at my favorite restaurant, (find me where it is written that I can't have two; I dare you) the Public House. Afterward, as it was my actual birthday, we went to Culver's and I had a hot fudge sundae. I was up three times in the night with heartburn.

Tonight I had dinner with my friend and part of her family. Her son smoked a brisket, there were lots of go-withs, and I made a chocolate zucchini cake. I am about to head off to bed, and I have heartburn.

Do you suppose I can't eat ice cream anymore? Or is it zucchini?

Because it can't be choc--choco---chocolate, can it?

Weekly Installment

Today on the farm...

The lawn is finally being mowed! I feel like that should be heralded by trumpets and fanfare. I think it's the third time this year; once it was done by hand! The mower went through a rejuvenation, and now seems to be humming along very happily. John, too. He likes to mow the lawn. Unless it's hot...and humid...and it is!

We have a brisket smoking on the deck. Vicar, his mom and his brother are here visiting. They've gone off to church, so we're manning the fire. Supper will be late tonight...but good!

Green beans were frozen today. I asked Don if I could get a bushel of beans. I asked to get them after the fair, which would be Monday at the earliest. In the category of cosmic joke, I got a call Thursday telling me my beans were ready. They came home yesterday and were cut and frozen today. I make 12 bags with my new toy. It was so new I wasted a lot of bags, because I made them too big. I'll get used to it. I just felt badly having company in the house and here I am, freezing beans!

Tonight is the 4H ice cream social at the fair. John and MSP are off eating, JP4 and I are minding the store, and the JP4lings are playing Wii. Ahhh... Country life!

(Editorial note; What is it with me and exclamation points?)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Legally, We Have a System

I've been ruminating these past few days, when I am able to breathe something besides fair air, on our legal system. Because I will spending two days sitting in court with loved ones over last two and next few days, it, rightfully, is taking up lots of brain waves.

One thing I've noticed is that two features of our system which I have taken for granted really don't exist anymore. The first is the right to a speedy trial. While I agree that we should have time to prepare, so that we're not grasping for the first offense or defense we can find, the system seems to forget it exists to deal with people. People who have lives. Lives which depend on outcomes in court, and often can't advance without them. One of the cases I am involved with, a divorce and custody discussion, (not my own, don't worry!) has been dragging on for a year and a half. Very little has been decided, and, this week I heard the phrase, "another year." I don't know how the participants can handle having their lives put on hold like this. I have seen them break down, and it's not pretty. And the kids; they have no idea what's going on, except that things often change and there's nothing they can say about it.

The other feature I have noticed is missing and probably gone, is the idea of "innocent until proven guilty." As soon as charges were made against the defendants I know, people took a step back and eyes narrowed. You know that look; "Can I trust you now?" Jobs were lost. Income was lost. Opportunities vanished. These days, if you are accused of a crime, you will be considered guilty until proven innocent. Don't be so Pollyanna-ish that you don't believe me. I've become cynical about this issue. Actually, it may help society in the long run. If "good" people like me are afraid to have their reputations ruined, and so avoid any possible implication of wrong doing, (which has been my position of late; I won't even speed) then perhaps we can have a safer, calmer society.

I don't believe it, either.