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!