Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Perspective

Yesterday John came home to tell me he had heard an Amber Alert. You know, one of those emergency messages telling you to watch for certain people, or a certain vehicle, because a child is missing. This one said that the dad had taken his two little kids.

What a horrible experience for those kids. They're supposed to trust Dad, and here he whisks them away from Mom, who they live with, who takes care of them, who they love. Yeah, they love Dad, too, but now he's not acting right, not taking them home like he's supposed to. How scary.

Or is it? Having had a very little experience with people divorcing and dealing with custody issues, I now have a different perspective. When one party is always late returning the children to the other, how can we be sure that the kids are really "taken?" Or, when one party, even the one who is always late, refuses to allow even a minute of tardiness to the other, how can we be sure the kids are really "taken?" Has Dad had car trouble, hasn't been able to reach Mom, and Mom decides, after 15 minutes of tardiness, that Dad has "taken" the kids? She calls the police, who issue an Amber Alert. Yes, I realize we live in a time of cell phones, but we also have dead zones. And dead zones are not always cellular infrastructure. Sometimes they are in attitudes; toward divorced moms vs divorced dads, for example.

I realize that most Amber Alerts are real, genuine, and the kids need to be found. But, after watching this process for a little while, there will always be a little nagging voice in the back of my head saying, "Did he/she really take the kids? Was there an accident, a misunderstanding? How can we be sure?"

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If Only...

My littlest cousin turned 3 this past week. Her mom and dad are having a party for her this weekend, to which I was graciously invited. When I asked her mom, "Is there anything Paige JUST CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT???" I received this response;

Well, when I ask princess Paige she wants: In order....

kiddie car
a pig with glasses (a pretend one)
a racoon
a toy
something for bed
a boat (one you can wind up)
a choo choo train
another toy

Isn't that the sweetest list ever? Don't you wish your life was so simple that ALL YOU WANTED for your birthday was a pretend pig...with glasses? (Shhh...don't tell her, but I'll be looking for that pig tomorrow. And I'll probably tie a ribbon around it's neck, with chocolates attached!)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Yep. I'll be waiting a long time for this one!

I planned to blog today about that song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. I did a little reading yesterday and thought about that geology professor of mine. His research into the lyric was pre-Internet. He actually had to go to the library and look it up! Imagine! How...retro...

I had received an e-mail a while back talking about the song as a catechetical tool for Catholics during persecution. I wondered about it, and asked a friend who was Catholic if that was a possibility. He hadn't heard about it, but thought it made some sense, given that the Catholics were persecuted for a time in England where the song may have originated. (There are some who say it might be French; those French always trying to grab the spotlight!)

My reading didn't give me much of an answer. The official position is, "Maybe maybe not." (Quick...which movie??) So you can tell people that this is a way to remember the catechism...or not. It works like this.

Or you can see the song as just a fun song, sung to add to the celebration of Christmas. In that case, you might like this video.

Either way, Merry Fifth Day of Christmas!

Monday, December 28, 2009

The 4th Day of Christmas

I am waiting for my 4 collie birds. I know, I know, you always sing "calling." But it's really "collie."

Way back in college, never mind how long ago that was, a friend and I gave our favorite professor (he taught Sedimentology; look that one up!) a Christmas card that included the carol with the lyric "collie." We all talked about the collie/calling thing, and he did the research. Turns our "collie" refers not to the dogs, but to the color of the birds. They were meant to be black as in, coal--ie. So now you have another useless piece of trivia rattling around in your head!

This week John is rattling around the farm with us, thanks to an annual factory shut-down which also keeps the engineers home. It'll be a challenge for all of us, as he knows how the farm should really be run, doncha know? But it'll be fun, too. Today is a trip to see Sherlock Holmes.

I am also waiting, along with those birds, for my desktop computer to be functional again. We can't figure out what happened, but it looks as though the video card just decided to quit. Or maybe it's something else; it's acting that flakily. So John is working on that while I blog on my laptop. It looks like we'll be making a trip to Best Buy tonight for some component or another!

Monday, Monday....

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Recovery

Yesterday was fun and furious, without the furious. Much was eaten, much was given, and, yes, much was drunk. We had all three boys home for the first time in three years, and it was wonderful. They shared most of a bottle of rum, the older two trying their darndest to inebriate the youngest. It just didn't happen. He outlasted both of them, even with all their "training!"

Today we are being hit with what appears to be the tail-end of the snowstorm that hit the Plains this week. The prediction is for 2-5 inches of global warming; we already have that, and the day is only half over. We shall see.

It's a good day for visiting, drinking coffee and watching the snow fall. I think I'll get off this computer, and do some of that. I'll leave you with this to brighten your day!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Around the Farm

I finally got the camera out this week.

Tuesday morning, we had large, fluffy flakes of snow. I took the chance to make a little Christmas message for you all.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

SO Close Now!

What Hope! An Eden Prophesied

What hope! An Eden prophesied Where tame live with the wild;
The lamb and lion side by side, Led by a little child!

A shoot will sprout from Jesse's stem, A branch from David's line,
A Prince of Peace in Bethlehem; The fruit of god's design.

As banner of God's love unfurled, Christ came to suffer loss,
That by his death a dying world Would rally to the cross.

Come, Jesus, come, Messiah Lord, Lost Paradise restore;
Lead past the angel's flaming sword--Come, open heaven's door.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Saturday Farm Report

-whew- Not even 3pm, and it's been a day already!

It's time, first of all to announce that JR Cheeseburger has met his destiny. He left here on Tuesday. He will be back, but in little white packages. It was time. I'll let you know how he tas...I mean how it all turned out.

We also sent two goats to the the same place JR went. One of them was sold to an acquaintance, and the other is in our freezer now. Such is late fall on the farm.

We left home at 9:30 am; got home just a little bit ago, about 2. It was supposed to be a quick trip; up to get the goats, over to deliver the one, and back so John could get to work. Before we left, arrangements were made to stop and pick up some hay at a friend's. On the way, we passed WalMart, and remembered some things we needed. The feed store is close by, so why not detour and pick up some things that should run out on Christmas Eve (a decidedly inconvenient time?)

Well, Brenda at WalMart was feeling talkative. She was telling us how much she preferred living here to Colorado, from whence she moved just last winter. She got me thinking about Wyoming and we ended up talking for half an hour. The feed store meant another little chat, about chickens, raising them in the winter, and their dietary needs.

(Got a little compliment there. Bruce, who co-owns the feed store with his wife, Sue, said to John, "Your wife sure knows a lot about animals. Did she grow up on a farm?" "No," said John, "in Hoffman Estates." They both had a chuckle over that one. I guess because I feel like I don't know everything need to know about these critters, and I read about them obsessively, I've learned enough to fool a farm boy. Bruce grew up around here, and grows pork, poultry and sheep. A feather in my cap!)

Anywho...the goats were picked up, and the hay, and we set to unloading things. This year was a bad year for hay around here, and the stuff we picked up could almost be used for bedding. Bruce and Sue will be getting more business from me for horse feed, I'm guessing. We are checking out another angle; hope it works! They got another visit from us today, anyway; when they loaded the feed, he and John grabbed the wrong kind. I was chatting with Sue and didn't notice. We went back to make the exchange, returned the hay rack to our friend's farm, and then headed down to deliver the goat. Then we picked up some shavings for bedding and headed home.

Now I just have to make beef broth, which I hope to can tomorrow. I also need to do some baking for Christmas presents. Other things on my lists include checking the checkbook and cleaning for company tomorrow. Oh, and the Christmas tree might get up today.

Hope you have a good evening!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dry Spell

It seems lately that I just don't have anything to say. At least nothing I feel like spending time on. I try blogging early, but something always gets in the way. I plan to get to it later in the day, or before bed, but I'm just plain pooped. I guess the farm work (cleaned and organized the barn today) and the housework, plus schooling Mary (which I can't take much credit for these days. She's pretty smart, that one) and the Christmas prep have just sucked the blogginess right out of me.

So if I don't post with any regularity, you know it's not because I don't want to!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Joy, Joy, Joy

Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee

Joyful, joyful we adore thee, God of glory Lord of love!
Hearts unfold like flow'rs before Thee, Praising Thee, their sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, Drive the gloom of doubt away,
Giver of immortal gladness, Fill us with the light of day.

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, Earth and heav'n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, Flow'ry meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living, Ocean depth of happy rest!
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Fountainhead of love divine;
Joyful, we Thy heav'n inherit! Joyful, we by grace are thine!

Friday, December 11, 2009


Remember those days when Friday was THE day? The beginning of the weekend of party time, of sleeping in and lazing around? Bwahahahaha!

Then came adulthood, and the R word. Responsibilities. Some people take on responsibilities, and some people have responsibilities thrust upon them. All of us have a mixture of both, and many of us take them on. Some of us ignore them, but that doesn't happen often here at Pine Ridge Farm.

This week we've been hit with snow and killer cold. Much like late spring, which will bring a sudden jump of 20 degrees or so, late fall has had a drop of 20 degrees. Today's high is predicted to be 8 degrees. Some of you are chuckling right now, thinking, "Bet you wish you'd picked Texas or Tennessee or Arizona about now." But then I would miss out on the sweet, lilac-scented days of mid-spring, or the crisp, golden days of fall. Nope, I'm happy right here, right now.

It just takes some planning and no small amount of courage to roll out of bed in the morning and head outside for chores. I am blessed with a husband who takes the early-early shift and feeds hay. Mary and I head out about 9 to feed grain and let the critters out for the day. Even in this cold, they're loving being outside, doing their normal pasture parade. Wakiya rolls in the snow; we call it horsie snow angels. Hope tries, but, as soon as her back hits that snowy field, she jumps up, acting surprised that she's hit something cold.

Yesterday and today I'm dealing with some very sore upper body muscles. JR has decided to play with the cord leading to the trough heater, and he's unplugged it a few times. Wednesday I hauled 8 5 gallon buckets of hot water down to the trough to refill it. (It's normal for us to haul about 20 gallons a day to that trough, which is shared by Hope and JR; between Wednesday and Thursday we hauled about 120, mostly hot water, to thaw the frozen trough.) I knew at the time that it was hard work, and now I have the sore muscles to prove it! Ethan did it for me yesterday, twice. JR, the stinker, has only 5 days until he meets his destiny, so I guess we should let him have his fun. But it isn't fun for us. Along with that has been the stall cleaning and finding a spot for JR during these really cold nights. I know, I know, cattle all over the US are standing outside in these frigid temperatures 24/7. But this guy is such a wuss. He throws such a fit when he's left outside, bellowing and hollering, that it's easier to clean up after him than to put up with it. So he's been sharing our "barn" with the 2 goat ladies. It's a disaster, but, as I said, it's only for a few more days.

This weekend we'll be building a stall into that building and figuring out a way to heat our trough that may or may not be steer-proof. Wish us luck! The horses right now are spread out between two pastures, and one has no heated trough. This means we'll be hauling water two or three times a day all winter. It's worth the time this weekend to save time the rest of the season. Both horses will move to the same pasture, where there is shelter for these frigid nights, and we can drop down to one trough. We'll be sending JR and two of the goats to Mr. Jones this next week, which will drop the feed bills and the workload. But we'll still be hauling water, since we didn't take the time this summer to run pipe down to the barn. It'll just be in smaller amounts on our time, instead of having to hustle to keep our critters hydrated.

So much for my whining and complaining. Best get to it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Day in the Life, Part 2

I talked a while back about documenting my day, threatening to share it at a later time.This is that time. If you are one of those who writes things like, "I'm tired just reading about that," in the Comments sections of people's blogs, get a Gatorade. You're gonna need it.

Yes, I actually did these things in the time slots indicated. I picked one heck of a day to document.

8-9am Wake up, check Yahoo, sort laundry and start a load. Unload dishwasher and reload. Strip bed, dress, make coffee and breakfast, read Facebook.

9-10am Finish e-mail, wake Mary, fold and put away clean towels, switch laundry, vacuum basement.

10-11am Finish basement. Field phone calls, work on housework schedule, check bank balance/webpage, (why doesn't it balance?) watch Boomer Alley. Switch laundry.

11-12noon Get Mary started on Math, Ethan on raking and burning leaves. Go to WalMart for stuff for supper and feed store for animal feed. Check on progress when home. Lunch. Planning for week, do a little yardwork.

12-1pm Calculate Weight Watchers' points for the day; 10 left! Switch laundry. Start dishwasher, wash basement floor.

2-3pm Water break. Flat on my back on the sofa for half an hour (funny thing; this was one of my busiest days in recent weeks, and I managed a rest. I don't get that on most other days, even when I have more down time.) Made bed, tidied and vacuumed bedroom.

3-4pm Switch laundry. Clean bathrooms/wash floors, wash dishes that didn't go into dishwasher, check chickens.

4-5pm Wash (more)dishes, call veterinarian, vacuum living room, sweep kitchen and breezeway, feed animals, get mail, switch laundry.

5-6pm Read e-mail, do nails (we're talking clipping and filing here; no fussing with polish) talk to Mary about 4H paperwork.

6-7pm Supper at Joe's Place

7-9pm 4H meeting

9-11pm Talk with John, watch TV, read e-mail, brush teeth/wash face, fall into bed.

Dare I add...7am, next day; start all over again?

Good thing we're the "weaker sex;" think how much we'd show up the guys if we were a little stronger, girls!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Day in the Life

A man comes home from work one day to find his wife's car sitting in the driveway, doors open, hood up. In the living room, he finds a half-naked toddler eating Cheerios and cat food, watching Barney. In the kitchen the refrigerator door is open, milk and orange juice spill together on the floor, the dog, wearing a bonnet, is tied to a table leg, and a preschooler is finger-painting on the wall.
Up the stairs, following the trail of Goldfish crackers, he finds an infant sleeping in a bed made of towels on the floor. Dirty diapers spill from the trash can and the delicate aroma is far from delicate. Panicking, he races into his bedroom to find his wife in bed watching television, eating chocolates.
"What's going on," he says, concern in his voice. "Are you OK?"
"Yes," she smiles.
"What happened here today?" he says, hysteria in his voice.
"Well," she says, "you know how yesterday you came home and said, 'What do you do here all day?'"
"Yes," he says, caution in his voice.
"Well," she says. "Today I didn't do it."

Monday, December 7, 2009


Rejoice, Rejoice Believers

Rejoice, rejoice, believers, And let your lights appear;
The evening is advancing, And darker night is near.
The Bridegroom is arising And soon is drawing nigh.
Up, pray and watch and wrestle; At midnight comes the cry.

The watchers on the mountain Proclaim the Bridegroom near;
Go forth as He approaches With alleluias clear.
The marriage feast is waiting; The gates wide open stand.
Arise, O heirs of glory; The Bridegroom is at hand.

The saints, who here in patience Their cross and suff'rings bore,
Shall live and reign forever When sorrow is no more.
Around the throne of glory The Lamb they shall behold;
In triumph cast before Him Their diadems of gold.

Our hope and expectation, O Jesus now appear;
Arise, O Sun so longed for, O'er this benighted sphere.
With hearts and hands uplifted, We plead, O Lord, to see
The day of earth's redemption That sets your people free!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Saturday Farm Report

Cinnamon rolls made, frosted and plated for Legion bake sale. Check.

Animals fed. Check.

Heading out to Grandma's, then home to prepare for PFC Ethan's unit Christmas party. (They actually call it a Holiday party, but we all know what that means!) Heading there by 2:30.

Saturday Farm Report says...not too much time spent on the farm today!

Friday, December 4, 2009


I grew up in suburbia. White bread, marshmallow suburbia. Where all the lawns were green and mowed, all the children joined Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts, all the families went to church (or some religious observance was made) and where the Joneses were not just the neighbors, but also those people who dictated how you lived your life, in that you had to keep up with them.

Well, not exactly.

Although I grew up in this community, right next door to this quintessential suburb, so quintessential that it served as the model for the community in this television sitcom, I learned more about diversity during my years of public school in suburbia than I have since, including the years I spent in the open-minded atmosphere of a state university. Well, maybe I have learned some more about it recently, as my kids became members of the US Army.

See, I don't think that people remember that the suburbs were started by soldiers, and Marines, and airmen and sailors. These men and women returned from war and service, and, using their government benefits, bought homes and started raising families. My parents did. My dad left the Marines in 1957, and their home (they live in their first and, so far, only home) was purchased with a VA loan.

Their wives (not my dad's, but that's irrelevant!) and husbands were often from foreign countries, and their children had mixed heritages that were celebrated. Or they were used to being around people of all different stripes, and seeing how they worked together for a common purpose, and the differences didn't matter; what mattered was what people could do together. Anyway, that's how it was when and where I grew up. We didn't need Diversity Days; we lived them. Gary wouldn't come to school on Rosh Hashanah; we all talked afterwards about how he had celebrated. Liz's mom (who was Japanese, but had a Polish last name, thanks to her Army husband!) brought sushi to school and we all were grossed out by the seaweed, but it tasted GOOD! We'd go to Estella's house to visit, and challenge each other to eat the hot peppers her dad kept in a dish on the table, just like his family did back in Mexico. Things like that. Little things, but for a kid, they were big, and a part of normal life.

Different religions, too. My sisters and I were raised around the Lutheran church; the Michnicks next door were Catholic. So were the Gonzalezes, two blocks over. The Castles were Jewish; so were the Shores. Berna's mom was Muslim; her dad, fresh out of the Air Force, was not. It didn't seem odd to us to go Christmas caroling to all of these homes. The other families seemed to appreciate it, too, even when they didn't celebrate Christmas. No, we didn't agree on what religion meant, but they knew we were trying to make the holiday time more fun, and they enjoyed that. (The Castles always gave us apple strudel. No; that was not the only reason we caroled there!)

So much for the white bread suburbs. So much for the sterile, isolated lives we were supposed to have lived. There were many reasons I didn't like the suburbs, and have chosen not to raise my kids there. But I would never say I didn't learn about other cultures there.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Please, Just Stay Home

I have been substitute teaching these past couple of days, and I'll be going in tomorrow. Miss Piel, it seems, is very sick. Someone has to corral her 5th grade class, and it looks like it's me.

Substitute teaching is a somewhat sick (hee hee) way to make a living. You sign up to wait around and hope someone has the bad luck to be unable to report for work. How do you suppose it feels to be waiting for someone to get sick, or have a death in the family, or have a child who gets sick and needs them to stay home?

I suppose you're thinking the title of this has something to do with asking those people to give me a chance to earn some money. Well, in a sense it is. But, not really.

See, Miss Piel really doesn't want to be sick. She feels the need to be with those kids, and she'd really like to come in, regardless of how she feels. Sensibly, however, she has decided against it.

But that doesn't happen often, does it? More often, someone comes down with a cold, or the flu, or the current creeping crud, and come in to work, anyway. I remember a friend telling me about a local steakhouse, and how she worked there. She told me, "We have really good steaks. It was tough the other night, though. I was so sick to my stomach with this flu, and I had to carry these plates of food to people. I almost hurled right in their dinner!" Yeah, right. And breathed whatever all over them.

How many times has it happened to you, that you catch this year's flu from the girl in the next cubicle? Or from your best friend at work? Or your husband brings it home with him from the office? That's how I got last year's flu. I was miserable for a month, all because someone "needed" to be at work, and John brought it home.

The irony is, that if those who are sick would just stay home for three days or so, the office would not suffer the loss of weeks of productivity. That's what happens when the crud creeps from person to person; it's not like everybody gets sick at the same time, right? Each successive victim lengthens the effect of the bug.

So, please, think of that when you get sick next time, and decide it's not so bad that you can't go to work. Stay home, instead. Keep your germs to yourself. Get your rest, take your meds, drink your fluids. Get rid of it. Then come back in to work.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Why are we fighting two wars? What do you think is/are the reason(s)?

John and I have been talking about that tonight, as we think ahead to the President's speech tomorrow night. Here's our assessment, as uninformed as it might be.

We started this in Afghanistan because we were attacked. We moved into Iraq because (faulty) intelligence told us Al-Qaeda had moved into Iraq.

We sent more troops into Iraq. The increase improved our situation and that of the Iraqi people. Sadly, doing so cost us ground in Afghanistan, as promises we had made to the Afghans had to be deferred in order to spend resources in Iraq. Now we need to play catch-up, and we may hear tomorrow night that that is the plan. We would like to see our troops leave Afghanistan and Iraq. Yes, we made promises, but, yes, we've already broken them. Let's not make it worse, not for the natives, not for ourselves, and, most importantly, not for those who put their lives on the line when we decide what is "best for our country."

What's your assessment? What do you see as the reasons our kids are being sent overseas? Why were they sent in the first place, and what do you think is motivating the continuance of this...adventure? What do you think should be happening; what would you say to the powers that be if you could?

I hope this will be interesting.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not Quite Yet...

Prepare the Royal Highway; The King of Kings is near!
Let ev'ry hill and valley A level plain appear!
Then greet the King of Glory Foretold in sacred story:
Hosanna to the Lord, For He fulfills God's Word!

God's people, see Him coming; your own eternal king!
Palm branches strew before Him! Spread garments! Shout and sing!
God's promise will not fail you! No more shall doubt assail you!
Hosanna to the Lord, For He fulfills God's Word!

Then fling the gates wide open To greet your promised king!
Your king, yet ev'ry nation It's tribute too should bring,
All lands, bow down before Him! All nations, now adore HIm!
Hosanna to the Lord, For He fulfills God's Word!

His is no earthly kingdom; It comes from heav'n above.
His rule is peace and freedom And justice, truth and love.
So let your praise be sounding For kindness so abounding;
Hosanna to the Lord, For He fulfills God's Word!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday Farm Report

Well, she made it a week. John went out to throw hay this morning, and Wakiya had escaped her stall. She frolicked through the pasture until Mary went out to put her in again. I figured it would be a struggle keeping her in, but we learned that Mary had forgotten to latch the stall. Her stitches were fine; no damage was done to her or anything else out there. -whew-

This has been a really good weekend. We visited with family until late Thursday night. Yesterday we sold a goat to a man John works with. It was to be a festival meal for him and his family. It was interesting to talk about that and learn about the differences in interpretation of events.

Mary and I went to see New Moon with friends and family yesterday. It was...OK. As I've said, at least it only cost $4 and the popcorn was fresh!

Today is mulching and cleaning stalls and the last leaf raking and leftovers for supper. Tomorrow will be church and lesson prep and, hopefully, some intense napping.

Hope your weeknd is good, too!

Friday, November 27, 2009

In Which Our Author Contemplates Quitting Blogging

Yes, I am. Even though I like it quite a bit, consider it my outlet for bizarre and mundane emotions and even though both of you count on me to have something to read, I am considering quitting.

See, I'm afraid I don't fit in. Many of the bloggers I know are people much like myself; mom-types who write for the joy of it and, while that may bore some of the people some of the time, I still have the two of you reading, so I can't be so bad, right?

But then I venture out into Blog-world, and I find myself so...out of place. This blogger met some bloggers, whose names are listed in his blog. I'll let you wander around, getting yourselves acquainted with them.

You done yet?

OK, let's analyze. See what I mean? These are stellar writers, with humor and class and an elegance to which I can never aspire.

Yeah, right. C'mon, people. Please. Scatalogical vocabulary does not a writer make. And I won't consider further examination of this post. End of discussion.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Farm Report

We were a little busy Saturday, so didn't get this done then.

Saturday Wakiya came home. We headed up to the clinic, paid our bill (!) and headed back to the farm. Because she needs to be confined for 14 days, (!) John spent the time fitting a horse shed on our property to be a stall. A gate, hay rack, stall mats and bucket hooks turned this modest shelter into something that can hold her in some comfort. She's out of the wet, the dirt and the wind, with hay and water within the turn of her neck. She's pretty happy. Well, she will be, until the pain of all of this wears off, as does the novelty. Then she'll be itching to get out. That's when our fun will start.

We also spent some time Saturday just doing basic things around here. We're actually in pretty good shape for winter, thanks to some October-like weather that we've had this month. Dry and sunny makes for lots of raking, cleaning up and organizing. So we should be able to handle the winter decently well.

Thanksgiving dinner will be at our place Thursday. Mom is out of the hospital, but in rehab. We (John and I) talked about taking Thanksgiving dinner to the rehab center, but , she told us she'll be getting a pass for that day. We visited yesterday; she looks good!

Last night we had a military parent experience. When Ethan got an iPhone, Dad took over his cell phone. Last night/this morning, about 3am, the phone rang several times. Finally he answered it. It was a friend of Ethan's, who said, "Dude! I've been calling you all day and you decide to answer at 3am?!" Once he realized that 1) he was not talking to the person he thought he was and 2) that person was not going to wake the person he wanted, he apologized, hung up and we were able to get back to sleep. Drunken phone calls in the middle of the night are part of the territory when you have military kids!

Well, the week is organized and I'm about two hours behind already. Better stop doing this and get on to bigger and better things.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

"Thanks be to God! His hands have not stopped creating! His love is still amazing! And His promise of sweet, sweet life is new everyday in Jesus! The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but Jesus says, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full!"

Linda D. Bartlett

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hebdomus Horribilus

It's been a month this week. Hence the title. Remember, anyone, a few years back when when Queen Elizabeth talked about her annus horribilus? Well, this week's been horribilus. Since the Romans didn't reckon time in weeks, and there isn't really a word for week in Latin, I got to choose between hebdomas, which means "seven days," and septimana, which was a later Latin form for "seven days." I liked the first better, so there! As for the ending...well, I'm no Latin scholar.

Jay had his day(s) in court this week. The first, Tuesday, was for a domestic battery charge brought against him by his ex-wife during their divorce proceedings. Because of our economic times, he had to rely on a public defender. If you would ever like to have the experience of being treated like something on the bottom of a shoe, commit a crime (or, in Jay's case, just find someone to charge you with one) and ask for a public defender. Yeah, it's like that. If he were to be convicted of this crime, (which he did not commit) he would be dishonorably discharged from the Illinois National Guard. He was offered a "deal," which involved pleading guilty to a lesser charge, battery, which would not have the same penalty as far as the Guard is concerned. (Actually, it's not the Guard, but the state of Illinois which would not let him continue in the Guard, but that's a tiny point.) So he can plead innocent, likely lose in court (after all, a woman accused him, so he must have done it, right? Ladies, you have power in a court of law.) and lose the Guard and all his military benefits. OR he could lie, plead guilty to a lesser charge, and be good with the legal system of the state of Illinois. Such choices. I am embarrassed to say that I have no more faith in our legal system.

His second day was yesterday, where his divorce was He got a great deal there. She gets the kids, although custody is technically joint. He gets all the debt and gets to see them for 2 hours every week and then every other weekend. The cherry on top is the third of his income that he will pay in child support. I know, lots of dads get that deal. But find me a few who got that deal when the mom has threatened the lives of the kids, committed serial adultery, and physically and mentally abused Dad during the course of the marriage. But it's done.

I had just parked the car in the driveway after court yesterday when I learned a horseshoer was coming to trim our horses' feet. In the course of getting them ready for his arrival, mine went ballistic. The two were tied together to a pole in our yard. They pulled it out and went romping through our yard. At the end of it all, Mary's horse, Wakiya, had been hit in the face by the pole. The good news is that Mary has found a new place to volunteer and learn about whether she'd like to be a large animal vet or technician. We got to watch the surgery while two vets pulled about 5 quarter-sized pieces of bone out of Wakiya's face and stitched up 4 deep cuts on her legs and belly. She'll recover beautifully, but she won't be beautiful. Without that bone, her face is going to look pretty bad. But Mary still loves her.

I'm praying for a quiet weekend...

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Mommy Reads...and Thinks...and Does Her Best to Respond

I found this article this morning.

As parents of 3 soldiers, and of one who served at Ft. Hood until this past June, you can bet we've been talking about this situation. I have found and read so many things that upset and concern me about this shooting that I may have to up my stomach acid meds!

He's being called the "alleged" shooter. Please. There were more than 100 witnesses to his crime. Surely we can cease the "alleged" stuff and still consider him innocent until proven guilty. After all, we've passed the point of "string him up, boys." We're obviously giving him his day in court, albeit a military one.

His lawyer is "mad" because he was charged while sick in bed and 150 miles away from counsel. Again, please. His "sickness" is of his own making. My son was charged with a crime while entirely alone; no friendly face, no counsel, no nothing. It happens all the time, to people of all races and creeds. This is not a single, singular incident.

This article says, "Months before the shootings, doctors and staff overseeing Hasan's training reported viewing him at times as defensive and argumentative in his frequent discussions of his faith." That's putting it nicely, when this one says, "Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the gunman who killed 13 at America's Fort Hood military base, once gave a lecture to other doctors in which he said non-believers should be beheaded and have boiling oil poured down their throats." Just a bit sanitized, I would say.

I am not saying that we should take this guy out behind the PX and shoot him. I'm not saying that his religion shouldn't be given the same protections as any other in this country. I am saying that this is a different situation than many other crimes committed, and can be looked at through different lenses. Yes, a person can have doubts about deployment. All of our kids have. The individual works through them, sometimes with help, and most "belly up to the bar" and handle what they've been dealt. (Wonder if I can mix some more metaphors? Stay tuned.) I can even see a person's fears driving them to commit violence, but I'm thinking more of violence to themselves. Maybe a self-inflicted injury. But this soldier walked into a situation where he knew that 1) he would be among the few armed people and 2) because of his rank, most of the people he would confront would be treating him with deference and trust, took advantage of that situation, and damaged that trust. There's a difference, I think, between being cowardly and acting in a cowardly manner.

I am so glad that other people, less biologically connected people than myself, will be handling the defense and prosecution of this soldier. I know I can't trust myself to stay unbiased throughout this whole process. I realize this blog entry is a vent; thanks for reading. God, help the people he injured and destroyed in this shooting; comfort their families and friends. Look favorably on the court proceedings; see that a fair trial is held, and that justice is done. Please show me how to forgive.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Never Would Have Guesed...
LogoThere are
people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?


Yeah, I probably lost some readers right there. Many of us feel about like the following writer did about history. Bored out of our minds by some bored high school teacher, we swore up and down that we'd graduate high school and never take another history class AGAIN. Even I was that way; that may really shock some people, including my husband. I loved history as a young child, even as a middle school student. (History lesson; in those days, we called it Junior High.) Then I got into high school and met American History As Taught By The State. It was dry and dead and I really wanted nothing more to do with it. I was pretty upset to learn that I'd need a few history credits to get out of college.

And there I met three really interested and interesting history instructors. No, I don't remember their names. This was just before the age when liberalism became dogmatic and opposing viewpoints were encouraged in the colleges. If you take a history class now, you might be told that no arguing of viewpoints will be allowed in class, in the guise of not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings. But some of us know better. But I digress.

I studied early American history under a quiet, unassuming instructor who taught semi-Socratically. He would ask questions, and we would answer. If the answer wasn't complete, he would "winkle" it out of us, with repeated questions. Sometimes I thought he would run screaming from the room; certainly we tested his patience. But he was quiet and unassuming and we learned our stuff.

American History 2 (Civil War to the Present) was taught by a brilliant instructor who sometimes told us too much about his personal life. He was a little less open to classroom discussion, but we learned our stuff there, too.

At university, I took a class on British history from the 1600s to the 1800s. It was taught by Dr. Marxist, which was not really his name, but certainly his political leaning. He was that kind of brilliant that borders on insane, know what I mean? He wanted us to journal all of our thoughts on the material taught. Something about having to produce creative written discussion about people like Horace Walpole and Benjamin Disraeli shut down my writing abilities for most of that semester. But we learned. We really did.

When I started homeschooling, I started with the two things I knew best; earth science and American history. We played with rocks and differing colors of clay, went to reenactments and did hands-on mapping exercises, a la Lewis and Clark. We had fun learning and my boys are still major history buffs. It just takes reminding them that history is just a story, albeit a very, very long one. And that people just like us faced the same challenges we do every day, although perhaps with less "stuff" than we do.

Pioneer Woman has a separate webpage for Homeschooling on her site. This week her guest contributor discussed some of these very ideas about history, and gave suggestions for interesting material from which to learn it. If you have a homeschooling kids, or any kid, or are an adult who might want to reawaken any interest in history you might once have had, it might help to look over this site. I've looked at some of these, and used others to teach my kids, and I'd like to own them ALL. But John won't build more bookshelves. I suppose I could get rid of some books...Perish the thought!

And now I will close. I'm being called to make gingersnaps. Who am I to refuse?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

I'm going to put on my grouchy old crone hat and complain a little.

Today I noticed several references to "those who died while serving their country." While that is a necessary remembrance, folks, today is about those who served. Period. See? Looky here. Read the first line.

It's a little confusing, because we as a nation have the nerve to celebrate our service members on two holidays each year. The other, Memorial Day, was originally meant as a day to honor the Union dead after the Civil War. As time went on, it became a day to honor the fallen of all American wars.

So today is the day to look at your brother, son, neighbor, pastor, coworker, teacher, bus driver, janitor...whomever, and say, "Hey, I remember you saying you were in the (insert service branch here.) Thanks so much for stepping up when we needed you. You're terrific!" He or she will humbly accept your handshake, and say something like, "Aw, shucks, Ma'am, t'warn't nuthin'," but it was. It really was.

Let's focus on the fallen on that other day. Today is for the heroes who still walk among us.

Major Fail

This morning we attended a very nice Veterans Day ceremony at the local high school. Jay was in the Honor Guard. Both he and Ethan stood as their names were read to an audience of all the schoolkids in Marengo, several hundred other citizens, a state legislator, a national Representative, the mayor, the police chief, etc, etc... The kids were there; Daddy took them out of school just for the occasion (grades 3-8 throughout the community attended. Younger kids did not, hence 'taking them out of school'.) Cookies were served to the vets and their families. Newspapers took pictures and notes. Wizened old sailors mixed with young soldiers. Legislators mixed with lance corporals. It was small-town America at it's very, very best.

And I left my camera at home.


Monday, November 9, 2009

The Mom Report

We had a bit of a mom scare this weekend.

Many of you know that my mom has been fighting lung cancer for about 3 years. She has had a few hospitalizations this year. Last week, Wednesday, I believe, she went into the hospital with low blood oxygen and low blood pressure. She was in the ICU for a couple of days, but, by the weekend, was on a regular floor. Saturday my dad called to tell us to come down (the hospital is about an hour south of us) because she was being put back into the ICU. She had aspirated her lunch, effectively blocking her bronchi (with shrimp, no less!)

The doctor wanted to intubate her and suction her lungs. One of her most strident declarations for the past three years has been, "No tubes down my throat!" This happened at the beginning, when she was very sick after completing radiation treatments, and she didn't want it to happen again. But the doctor told him that this would save her life, not extend it, so my dad agreed.

She has been sedated since Saturday afternoon. As they increase and reduce the sedation, she has been asleep most of the time and at varying levels of wakefulness at others. Whenever she was awake, she would try to pull the ventilator tube out, so she had to have her hands restrained. It was awful.

But today we got the happy news that the tubes had been removed and she was breathing on her own! By the time we were able to get away from here and get down there, late this afternoon, she was sitting up in bed, awake and conscious. She was still feeling some effects of the sedation, so she didn't always make sense...but she does that sometimes without sedation, so, there ya go!

It was so good to see her eyes open and have her be mostly normal. She did not, however, appreciate the pureed food that they're feeding her now...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Saturday Farm Report

We had a repeat this week of last spring's flooding. The drainage pipe was again clogged. Of course it happened on a rainy, blustery day, when the menfolk were either out working for a living or abed. (ahem!) So the wimmen had to head out, rake the debris from the ditch, and stick our--actually, my--hand into the dark, cold water, feeling for the grate. It was pulled and the clog of weeds pulled from the pipe. The geyser was not as dramatic as that of last spring, but, by the next morning, the flooding was gone.

This week two raised beds were built in the garden. We've noticed, as the kids have left home, that we use less and less of our garden space. We still, however, have to fight the weeds. In fact, this summer, it was all weeds, no produce! This fall I began reading (again) some books on raised bed gardening. I decided that beds with grassy paths between them would cut back on the amount of garden space to be planted, and allow for quick mowing of the paths, rather than constant weeding or mulching of them. This will also allow some covering and thick mulching of certain areas, maybe letting us get some produce from the garden most months of the year.

Raising the beds will also fight our other problem; soggy soil. About a third of our garden is almost un-tillable until very late in the spring, due to the drainage issues we've been dealing with. We could move the garden, I suppose, but it's been where it is since we've been here, the hoses, when we need them, are right there, and the soil is very rich with years of compost and mulch. Raising the beds will allow, I hope, for those areas to drain earlier. Or I'll just plant those beds later.

I've been getting my ideas from these books;

Four Season Harvest

Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book

(No, I will not be following all of Ruth Stout's Google it!)

Ethan has been a great deal of help this week, although not without some complaining. He doesn't understand why we spend so much time working on a vegetable garden that gives us so few vegetables. Well, I guess I would agree with him, at least in these past couple of years. The weather has been so cold and wet that we really haven't had much harvest. But, hope springs eternal, as they say, and I know that these weather things have cycles. I want to be ready when it cycles back to normal Illinois summer weather. Besides, these guys I'm reading are giving me good ideas for how to plant to deal with climate. I'll report back later, when I know how these plans are working out!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What Say You?

So, Miss Mary has the swine flu. Her doctor did a flu swab, which turned positive in less than 3 minutes. He says that means a high viral load, and, since the test is for Type A flus, which includes swine flu and seasonal flu, and since there are no seasonal flus out there yet, by process of elimination, she has swine flu.

Let's take a poll. Does she (a) have swine flu? Or is (b) the doctor calling it swine flu to cover his...bases, in case she gets sicker and we get mad enough to call a "plain flu" diagnosis a misdiagnosis?

Vote in the comments, please!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

If human embryonic stem cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable, you have not thought about it enough.

James A. Thompson

Monday, November 2, 2009

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!

I rearranged the freezer last week, cleaning out our half-freezer entirely. All sorts of disinfectants, including straight bleach, would not remove the rotting meat smell. Last night, we discovered that, during the rearrangement, I left an entire box of pork chops and cutlets on the floor near the freezer. For about 5 days. Wish I'd paid better attention, rather than mixing chemicals! That'll teach me to leave boxes with stuff waiting to go to the thrift store in the utility room, where they can be confused with other, more important boxes!

Our good, clean pork, all the nice cuts gone. Yes, we have hams, bacon and such. But I'll be buying pork chops and cutlets this year! Yuck!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Behold, A Host Arrayed in White

Today in the Church calendar is All Saint's Day. Unlike other cultures, who celebrate during this time of year the thinning of the veil between this life and the next, Christian celebrations of All Saints do not include the idea of being able to communicate somehow better with our ancestors. In fact, we have no concept, in orthodox Christianity, of communicating with our ancestors. How could we? They are rejoicing in the presence of God and have no inclination to come near to us anymore. Now, that does not mean they didn't and don't love us, or care about us. It's just that they are with GOD. I mean, come on. Think of it this way, and this analogy is weak, because nothing earthly can compare.

Think of your beloved. Think of how you want to spend all your time and uninterrupted attention on that one special person you've been blessed with. Maybe it would be easier to think of your first teen-age crush, and how all-consuming that was. Whatever. Now think of the IRS knocking on your door, asking for an hour of your time. You have free choice to pick which you will do; no Federal penalties for ignoring the tax man this time! Which are you going to pick?

Now, think of Grandma, or Grandpa, or any special person who has gone beyond. Do you really think you're worth leaving the very presence of God for an hour for some conversation about life down here? I don't think so.

This hymn is one of my all-time favorites. We sang it today for All Saints', and I wanted to share it with those of you who may not know it. Those who do, yeah I share it with you, too. Enjoy!

Here's the tune.

Behold a host, arrayed in white,
Like thousand snow-clad mountains bright!
With palms they stand;
Who is this band
Before the throne of light?
These are the saints of glorious fame,
Who from the great affliction came
And in the flood
Of Jesus' blood
Are cleansed from guilt and shame.
They now serve God both day and night;
They sing their songs in endless light.
Their anthems ring
As they all sing
With angels shining bright.

Despised and scorned, they sojourned here;
But now, how glorious they appear!
Those martyrs stand,
A priestly band,
God's throne forever near.
On earth they wept through bitter years;
Now God has wiped away their tears,
Transformed their strife
To heav'nly life,
and freed them from their fears.
They now enjoy the Sabbath rest,
The heav'nly banquet of the blest;
The Lamb, their Lord,
At festive board,
Himself is Host and Guest.

O blessed saints in bright array
Now safely home in endless day,
Extol the Lord, Who with His Word
Sustained you on the way.
The steep and narrow path you trod;
You toiled and sowed the Word abroad;
Rejoice and bring
Your fruits and sing
Before the throne of God.
The myriad angels raise their song;
O saints, sing with the happy throng!
Lift up one voice;
Let heav'n rejoice
In our Redeemer's song!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Saturday Farm Report

Another Saturday begins...Happy Halloween!

As a Christian, I realize I'm not supposed to celebrate Halloween, and I have never been one for dripping blood from costumes, "dead" bodies hanging from our trees, or blood-curdling screams issuing from our home as trick-or-treaters come up the walk. Not that we have a walk, or trick-or-treaters here!

But, as Lutherans, we do celebrate it, in all it's glory. After all, the reason this holiday exists is because Martin Luther nailed those Theses to the door of the church, sparking a discussion that reminded Christendom of the battle already won by God to release us from all fear of ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. Ah....Sweet peace! (And yes, I do realize that Halloween existed before Martin Luther. But you do realize I'm being Lutheran, don't you?)

Today we have a hay rack to unload. The sad fact is that a full hay barn will not remain so, and, occasionally, the doggone thing needs to be reloaded! Then I have one last room to declutter and clean. I will have this entire house done after that, and there will be much rejoicing. This afternoon, Miss Mary is helping out at a kids' Halloween party at the American Legion hall, and then she's off to portray Ginny Weasley at the "low budget Hogwarts" our friend is creating for today's festivities. Afterward, we may head to the Legion ourselves, for an adult Halloween party. I haven't talked John into costume yet, but I'm thinking that I have a M*A*S*H t-shirt and a stethoscope...and he would make a decent Klinger....A M*A*S*H nurse and everyone's favorite Army corporal? Whaddya think?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jane Austen Herself Would Appreciate Them

I've been a fan of the Dashwoods since I saw Emma Thompson's version of Sense and Sensibility. I read Pride and Prejudice in high school, but finally worked my way through S&S about 10 years ago. Marianne is one of those teens you want to take by the shoulders and shake. Elinor is so patient and careful with her mother and sister; at 18 she has more of those qualities than I did at 30! Margaret is the kind of daughter I want to raise. Wait--I am! And Mrs. Dashwood is just a hoot!

Recently, this book was published. I was skeptical, because I'm not a big fan of remakes. But then I found Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. What a great idea! These books will either entertain an Austen fan, which this one is doing for me, or draw in someone who might not have read the originals. I admit, you have to have read S&S to get all the humor in this passage:

The repellent Colonel Brandon's partiality for Marianne, which had so early been discovered by his friends, now became perceptible to Elinor. She was obliged to believe that the sentiments which Mrs. Jennings had assigned him for her own amusement were now real; and that however a general resemblance of disposition between the parties might forward the affection of Mr. Willoughby, an equally striking opposition of character was no hindrance to the regard of Colonel Brandon. She saw it with concern; for what was a silent man of five and thirty, bearing an awful affliction upon is face, when opposed to a very lively man of five and twenty, dripping with charisma and the sea-water dripping from his physique--accentuating diving costume?

or this one:

The Dashwoods were, of course, very anxious to see a person on whom so much of their comfort on Pestilent Isle must depend, and the elegance of Sir John's concubine was favourable to their wishes. Lady Middleton was not more than six or seven and twenty; her face was handsome and her imposing figure was draped in long, flowing robes of distinctive tropical hues. Her manners had all the elegance which her husband's wanted. But they would have been improved by some share of his frankness and warmth. She was reserved and cold, as if having been stolen from her native village in a burlap sack and made to be servant and helpmate to an Englishman many years her senior, for some reason sat poorly with her. She had nothing to say for herself beyond the commonplace inquiry or remark..

But this one is just plain slapstick:

He stopped. Mrs. Dashwood was too much astonished to speak, and another pause succeeded. This was broken by Willoughby. "It is folly to linger in this manner. I will not torment myself any longer by remaining among friends whose society it is impossible for me now to enjoy."
He then took his leave of them, his flipper feet fwap fwap fwapping as he hastened from the room.

This book is just too much fun to read to consider not buying P&P&Z when I'm done!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

And the Winner is...

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

Pro-Life Corner

Being a Christian is not a spectator sport; following the Savior calls for courage and commitment...The Lord has entrusted us with the salvation story...we are people of Christ with the one and only message of hope that can forgive sins and save souls. 'Thus far no further.' Here is where we make our stand.

Rev. Ken Klaus

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday Farm Report

Today was quite the day on the farm. It started out cold, wet and windy. It ended sunny and bright. In between...

I went out this morning to pick up milk at the dairy. One of the major rules there is "Don't be there when the milk hauler comes." In Illinois, it is perfectly legal to buy raw milk from the farmer, at the farm. The only difficulty is that the farmers sign agreements with the dairies that they won't do that. So I kinda have to sneak in and out; I usually do that when they're doing chores, so I can get a chance to chit chat with the farmers. It's that whole buying-local-build-a-relationship thing. Today they were gone, because I got there kinda late. Late enough that, just as I filled my first jar, I heard the milk truck drive in. What followed was a lot like those sitcoms where the boy has to be smuggled out of the girlfriend's room. I tossed my empty jars in a corner, shut off and covered the milk tank, grabbed my full bottle, and went out the back door, into the barn. From the barn, I watched him go into the milk house. Then I got into my car and made my escape.

It was nothing like James Bond. It wasn't even anything like Inspector Clouseau! But I will say that an adrenaline rush in the morning is quicker than caffeine!

After that excitement, nothing else would ;measure up. So I spent the rest of the day cleaning out closets. Woo hoo! But I did get them done, and my house tidied up, just in time for dinner guests.

So the rest of the night was homemade pizza and brownies, delicious wine and coffee, and good friends.

Just another day in Paradise.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Conversation at Menard's

So I stopped in at Menard's today, while out hunting and gathering. I bought, among other things, 4 bags of water softener salt.

A kind young man was enlisted by his manager to help me carry the bags out. Normally I have a minion along for this, but not today. As we got to the trunk, I said, "Hang on a sec. I have some groceries in there and I want to move them out of the way."

He said, "Yeah, that would be good."

I said, "Yeah, I don't have a problem with salt on my tomatoes, but not when it's in a 50 pound bag."

He said, "And you don't want salt with sodium chloride on your tomatoes, anyway!"

I couldn't respond.

Another reason to homeschool...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This Is My Son

Thanks, Polly, for pointing this out!

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Owe, I Owe, So Off to Work I Go!

My wonderful husband has asked me to find a job, already. We have spent more than we should, and owe more than we ought, so a little extra income will help. But I hate it.

It's not that I'm lazy. Say that one to my face! I do more physical and mental work around here than your average medical doctor and nurse combined. It's more of a philosophy.

Ecclesiastes 5 says, "Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work--this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart." God has blessed me with work; fulfilling, challenging work, in my home, and I'm good at it. Darn good, I'd say. Our home is clean, (generally) organized (mostly) and happy. Nutritious meals, planned by me and prepared mostly from whole foods, are enjoyed. Education is exchanged, memories are made and life is enjoyed. Each of us has our place here, and we're (mostly) content in it. No, we aren't rolling in the dough, but we have enough.

Remember, back in the Seventies, when women were "liberated" to go to work, and didn't "have to stay home raising babies anymore?" Taking me out of this and sending me to an office, shop or studio will be like taking those women who love their careers and sending them home. In fact, that's exactly what it is. It's making me exchange a fulfilling, interesting career for one that will never satisfy.

I believe that's because we've been stupid. We've taken what God gave, and grabbed for more, until He's had to pull back and let us realize that we're being disciplined. We've squandered the good and now have to settle for the leavings, just to get by. We're still at the point where part-time work will be sufficient, but even that will change the ecology we have here enough to make it uncomfortable.

So, if you have kids, have them read this. Maybe someone's kid will learn from our mistakes, and not have to go through this. I hope so.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

What is taking place in America is a war against the child...And if we accept that the mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?

Mother Teresa

Friday, October 16, 2009

Welcome to the Future

Well, I can't embed this one, so I'll have to send you to a link. Go check it out, and then come back.

THAT is a fun song. It's got a great rhythm; I just embarrassed my poor daughter -cough, cough- by dancing through the dining room. The lyrics are good, too; they really point out how far we've come, and how fast.


You knew there had to be a "but."

I get a definite "homage to our President" vibe. I bet I'm not the only one. And that bothers me. See, I don't really like the guy's...policies. Yeah, I think these days that makes me a racist, but I don't. And I'm not a racist. I am very happy to have an African-American in the White House who isn't changing sheets or washing dishes. (At least not in order to earn his living.) I think it says a lot about our country that we can go from Jim Crow laws in the 50s to accepting a black person as a President in the year 2008. We aren't Ugly, we Americans. We can accept constructive criticism, change, and move on.

If only this election had been about that. I would guess, leading up to the election, only about 25% of the people I spoke with were Mr. Obama's supporters. I heard about his plans from less than 2% of those people. I heard a lot about his promises, but not about his plans. And, contrary to the wishes of Dr. King, whose words were quoted in the song, I didn't hear Mr. Obama being recommended by the content of his character, but, rather, the excitement around his election was more dependent on the color of his skin.

And that makes the excitement in this song rather hollow for me. Mr Paisley, (who I am sure will never read this!) I really like you, or at least the little I have learned about you. What's not to like? You have a lovely wife, adorable kids, and you seem to care about them very much. Your music says a lot, and is, mostly, a passable soundtrack for an average American life. But I gotta wonder what you saw in this guy. If it was about a platform and belief system you wanted advanced, well, then, I guess the marketing behind your image is amazingly awesome, because those beliefs don't coincide with what we see of you. If it was just a chance for black Americans to have something they never had before, well...There are better ways than remaking a country that had it's problems but was doing pretty well for over 200 years on the beliefs and attitudes it held dear.

But it's got a great rhythm, and I like the lyrics. I give it a 9.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

More on the Hunting and Gathering

Unlike some bloggers, I do not sort my blog posts into categories. This leaves me ample opportunity to forget whether I blogged on a certain topic, and then bore you with a rerun. So if this is one, I know I should apologize up front, but I'm just too doggone tired from my H&G day.

While out stocking my pantry shelves today, I thought of something that my public-minded self just has to share. If you get the swine flu, or avian flu, or the creepy-crawly-whatevers this year, especially with a sore throat, try my sure-fire cure. Brew a Tazo Zen teabag plus a Tazo Wild Sweet Orange teabag in a LARGE mug. Add some honey and drink, preferably in front of a "comfort movie" (think comfort food on film) under a nice, fleecy throw. A wood fire helps, too. This puppy is like magic on that raw, scratchy throat. A little rum in there couldn't hurt, either.

Oh, and if you should head out hunting and gathering, and your favorite place is like mine, 18 (.1) miles away, please do yourself a favor and check to see that, somewhere on your person, you are carrying cash. Or, at the very least, a debit card, or even the checkbook. My public-minded self just had to share that one, too.

You learn something new every day!

Lather, Rinse, Repeat, Part 2

Today we discuss further adventures in housewifery.

Yeah, OK, I lost about 2/3 of my readers, but, thanks to you for staying on!

In the "lather, rinse, repeat" files, we have Hunting and Gathering. Or, grocery shopping. Again, I spend countless hours planning meals, compiling lists, and heading out to do battle with the crowds and the checkbook. It's not pretty, and I have to do it again, week after week. The checkbook is complaining loudly these days. It's been going through some very lean times, even famine. Of late, however, it's been adequately nourished.

This gives me a little space to fill up our tanks, too. The pantry was looking a little spare. And the second pantry was bare. I like to keep about 3 of our most-used items on stock at a time. One stays in the pantry; two in the second pantry. They're both looking fat and sassy these days.

And that's a good thing, because you never know when the swine flu or the avian flu or the next disease of the week is going to strike and make us want to stay home.

Today it's razor blades and baking supplies and some paper products and animal feeds. I'll be gone about 3 hours, but I'll come back stocked up for a bit. If only I had done this yesterday, when it was grey, yes, but dry. Today I'll be dodging raindrops in the parking lot. My new coiffure (more on that later) will look a bit ratty. But we'll have beet pulp and dog food and garlic powder! We won't have to eat Robin's minstrels, but there will still be much rejoicing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Mess, Oh, The Mess

It's a sad fact of housewifery that everything you do will need to be repeated. Much like the shampoo bottle, it's all about lather, rinse and repeat.

In the Neverending Story of my life, I've been tackling our basement. It extends the entire length of our house, and is finished. Imagine, if you will, a steep staircase into a basement, which ends at a hallway. To the left, the utility room and all it's delights. To the right, an office/room-where-the-furnace-and-water-heater-live. This room is the only one with carpeting; we installed some of those stick-on carpet tiles when John needed a space to work at home. This is also the room, which, when water decides to make it's yearly foray into our basement, is the first the water visits. Carpet squares? Bad decision.

At the end of the hallway is our family room area. First on the right is our TV area, then our current office, from which I am writing to you as you read. We built it about 3 years ago. It has served as an office, guest bedroom, and, when we refinished the floors and rearranged bedrooms 2 years ago, the master bedroom. I can tell you from experience that it is the nicest of caves; something of a hobbit hole. Warm, usually dry, (remember that yearly thing) quiet, quiet, quiet. You could sleep deeply for days in this room.

On the left side, as you come down the stairs, you would first hit our bar. Not a wet bar, but a sink and refrigerator are steps away, in the utility room. The last space down here is a dining area, and a place for the kids' computer.

That's how I envision it.

However, right now, the utility room is piled with laundry and appliances that we use often but can't put away because the cabinets in that room are full of things we don't use often. I intend to clean those out, take them to the thrift store, and replace with the stuff we use, leaving the countertops available for...I can only imagine! I've never had them available for any length of time!

The bar is stacked with children's books that I have to find homes for. Some are spoken for, and some I'll keep. There may be children around here sometime that would want to read them. My intention is to clear that all off and use it--get this--as a bar. Novel idea, I know!

The dining area is stacked with more books, games, toys, and all the other detritus of a household with children. As our children become young adults, though, those toys are played with less and less. One cabinet that housed games has now found a new home under our stairs, where it'll house all kinds of things that I want to hide behind closing doors. The other remains, filled with school supplies, games we still play, and some science equipment. Eventually, like by the middle of next week, the mess will all be cleaned up, the dining table polished and decorated with a nice fall centerpiece, the computer desk cleaned and set up for a certain young lady to do her schoolwork, and some maps and pictures hung on the walls. In short, it'll become a more adult space.

The office is now stacked with books to be given away or sold, photographs of Grandma that need to be sent to my uncle, (no, David, I have not forgotten!) and a basket of baskets. These are the last of my collection of Longabergers; some lucky folks will be getting them as Christmas presents. If you like a specific one, let me know, before I give you one you hate! This will all need to be cleaned up and organized, so it can actually be used as an office and guest room. I will have to talk to John about this; his side/desk aren't any less gamey than mine, and I've been hearing how I need to get some things in order....

That leaves the old office, with it's 3 storage closets (one is cedar; one has a broken door.) That will need to be purged as well.

So, if you think I might have something in this messy space that you could use, drop me a line. We'll talk!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

Above all things, my faith motivates me to do as much as I can and strive to do more in the pro-life movement. As a child of God, I know a truth that is stronger than anything the world can throw at me--the power of eternal life through Christ. I cannot, because of who I am as a child of God, keep silent as my own generation is denied the chance to exist.

Janice Nihll,a 17-year-old senior and student pro-life leader at the 2008 March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Gods Must Be Crazy

I've never seen the film, so, if the reference is off track, forgive me. But I read about this this morning and I am stunned. And, apparently, I am not alone. I am not the most politically astute knife in the drawer, but even those sharper knives are, in the words of the article, stunned. It's too early, he's done little or nothing, and it's just...stunning.

Yesterday, while celebrating John's birthday with a family lunch, we saw a news report (TVs everywhere; another blog post for another day) which said that the White House is being very careful before committing more troops to Afghanistan, because of the costs. You know, war is expensive, and we have to be careful with the people's money. We can fling it at failing businesses like confetti, and we can whine and stomp our feet because uber-expensive health care isn't sailing through Congress, but God forbid we spend too quickly on our soldiers.

Ethan's comment was, "Gee. I feel so loved."

I guess the Peace prize must be because those soldiers aren't heading off to Afghanistan. I think a more likely reason that more soldiers aren't going yet is that someone would have to admit that that worked for the past administration, and, Lord knows, we wouldn't want to admit that anything worked for them.

My friends in the Lutheran homeschooling world are talking end of the world scenarios, mostly tongue in cheek. But some are glad they've put in so much time canning and freezing this summer; food won't be getting any cheaper. Deidre even says, "If the world is coming to an end, I don't have to finish cleaning my basement!" Well, Deirdre, mine is all torn up, too. I guess the two of us should just get together for some coffee!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Happy Birthday, John!

Someone else in our house is 50. Someone else gets to hear the jokes now.

So tonight we partied. He requested meat loaf and chocolate cake. We had them, along with some other fun stuff. It's possible much wine was consumed.

And we had special visitors, too! An Army guy came by.

Spiderman, too.

A rock star stopped in.

And a cowgirl.

We even had the principal as a guest. Here he was telling me how to take his picture!

It seems John is enjoying his party. Soon a play will be performed for the birthday boy, and then a birthday screening of Ironman is on the agenda. He'll get to bed way too late...for an old guy!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Have...

a new t-shirt.

A Camelback hanging in our bathroom.

ACUs here,

and here.

And a medic in our "guest" bedroom.

I like it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Must Link To This

No, I'm really not being lazy, although I could be, what with a rainy, grey day and a sinus or weather-change headache.

But, really, this just hit me as such a sensible question. And so easy to answer. But I'm thinking no one will take the bet that it doesn't get answered!

Check out Private Murphy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Like a Phoenix...

I have been such a lazy blogger! Getting back into some semblance of routine after almost 2 months of hither and yon has been problematic...but we're looking like we're about there.

One of my stalkers, the inestimable Senor Sock, sent me something spiritually munchy this weekend. As I missed my Pro-Life Corner yesterday, indulge me. I'll post this video, for your approval...or not!

(BTW, according to, no, Einstein did not say or do this. But it's still an interesting argument...)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Henry V

What an amazing production! A small, outdoor theatre. (Granted, it was cloudy and in the 50s, but, hey, it was Wisconsin at the end of September.) A cast of 13 actors (which meant that Katherine's lady's maid had to be played by a balding man; it was hilarious!) Simple staging but powerful acting. It was terrific.

Can you tell I liked it? thing bothers me...

After the play a talk-back was held. I don't know if it's this way all over the country, but the companies that I have seen do Shakespeare for students will hold these. Actors come out onstage afterward to chat with the audience, answer questions, and, yes, hear one-on-one how wonderful they are. (They are actors, after all!)

The question was asked, "How does the director decide which scenes to cut? Cut Shakespeare? Yeah, they do. They may not have budget for enough actors, or time to stage the entire play, or space, or whatever. Scenes get cut. In this case, it was the speech before the battle of Agincourt, when Henry considers kingship, it's ceremonies and responsibilities. The director was not at the talk-back, but the speculation by the actors was that the scene had been cut, because, (paraphrasing) in our society, we don't have the experience of inherited leadership. Since our leaders do not have leadership handed to, or thrust upon them, as Henry did, they reasoned that it would be difficult or impossible for the audience to understand inherited leadership to be the burden Henry was feeling it to be.

Is it just me, or does that sound elitist? "We," (the cast, the members of the staff, the company) "don't think you," (the uneducated, inexperienced audience) "could grasp the depth or niceties of the emotions Henry is experiencing at that moment. So we'll just take it out of the play and pretend it wasn't there." Now, editing a scene is not the issue; I understand that parts may have to be moved or removed to make the play flow or feel "right" to the director. (Although I do understand wanted to see it unabridged.) What bothers me more is the attitude that an audience is shallow enough to be unable to pick up on the backstory of the scene. Meh--maybe I'm just too fussy or too sensitive. But lately it seems people of my ilk, my acquaintance or my class have been experienced an excess of, "You can't possibly understand..." I'm kinda tired of it, and I was having such a good time yesterday. Why did they have to pull this in and mess with it?

Well, try to mess with it, anyway. I still had a terrific time. We had lunch afterward, including frozen custard (which isn't really something we should tell Weight Watchers, OK?) The drive home was pleasant; I let Ethan drive, so I got in a nice nap. And dinner was in the crock pot when I got home, so there was no hassle there. Yeah, they tried to mess up my day. But they didn't succeed!

Small time, but in that small most greatly lived
This star of England: Fortune made his sword;
By which the world's best garden he achieved,
And of it left his son imperial lord.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stay in the Fishbowl!

The vacation is now behind us. Our drive across 3 states ended at 5am, Sunday. We staggered in, set the alarm for church, and went to bed. When it rang, we turned it off and slept another 3 hours. It was lovely.

So, pictures. As it turned out, ours are pretty gamey, as pictures go. The room, the lighting, and the camera did not lend themselves to National Geographic quality. But we have enough to remember the event.

We have one from our vantage point; behind 367 soldier medics in a long, narrow room. Who made that decision? (By the way, the class started with 489 students. This is not a slam dunk school.)

Before the ceremony, we were able to walk around and take pictures of our soldiers, who we, for the most part, might not have seen otherwise. This was fun for the mommies and grandmas, who had one more (in my case, 2 more) chance(s) to embarrass their sweet little pumpkins. (Listen for the "Awwww's.")

Who, with his cheesy grin, had more than ample opportunity to embarrass himself...

He walked the aisle to get his diploma...

Took the obligatory photo with Dad...

And we were outta there!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Homeward Bound

We have left Matthew and Keri again, after spending a day or so around Ft. Sill. We're heading through Oklahoma, and are almost to Missouri. We should be home in the wee hours of tomorrow morning.

Ethan is taking a turn behind the wheel. Our family rule is that the driver picks the radio station. I am being reminded of the musical tastes of young men between 18 and 24.

Why do the stations I like fade out after 30 miles or so, and his just keep going and going and...

UPDATE: Jenny has helped clear up for me the mystery of the radio stations. She says that it is because rock stations are powered by sex and drugs. Country stations (my favorites, especially when driving through TX and OK) are only powered by beer in cans and the dust from a pickup truck as it leaves. Makes sense to me!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


The boy has graduated, and our road leads north. We'll be driving for a few days, and don't know what kind of Internet access we'll have. We have lots of pictures and video to share, at least when we get home. Maybe sooner!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First Day of Fall

We spent the first day of fall on the beaches near Corpus Christi.

In between beaches, Serena had an orthodontist appointment. It was a windy, rainy, stormy day, but we managed to be inside anyway for most of the rain. It did help a bit with my weekly exfoliation, being hammered by tiny grains of sand. But there was no way these girls weren't going to spend some time together by the water on this trip!

Julee and I walked a lot, while the girls played. We saw tugboats and barges; here's a picture for you, John. (Not that my husband reads my blog!)

We also took several trips on the Port Aransas ferry, watching for dolphins. We saw several, including one extroverted cetacean who leaped high out of the water for us. But they were too fast for our cameras.

We rode the ferry one time with this little guy,

who apparently didn't read this sign.

I am not a summer/beach girl. Summer in Illinois is something I live through so I can get to fall. So a windy, grey beach is not really a big deal to me. This morning is lovely. We woke to temps in the 60s, perfect fall weather! I took a long walk with Julee and Baxter, the dog, and loved the feeling of a cool breeze while looking at palm trees and cacti.

Today we leave and head to San Antonio. We'll meet up with John, my sister and her husband, and, tomorrow, we'll see Ethan graduate as a combat medic.

Then the worrying starts. Another boy to deploy. Hooah.