Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Evermore and Evermore

Well, here it is Christmas Eve and I haven't posted in forever. This Christmas season has not been particularly busy or hectic around our house, so I can't use that as an excuse. In fact, we went out of our way this year to plan a modest, frugal celebration. (I don't know why the pile under the tree looks as big as any other year...optical illusion?)

What has been happening is that, in the midst of holiday preparations and events, my mind has been swirling with ideas and decisions to be made about a plethora of issues.* None of these things is earth-shattering in importance, none of them had to be dealt with right now, but all of them kept filling my thoughts so that thinking of something to blog about became a chore I didn't want to deal with.

*Issues, among others, include: refinancing our mortgage since the rates are pitifully low, helping my parents figure out their health insurance, finding a new pair of supportive shoes, picking a good location to plant blackberries, wondering if I should join Amazon Prime. (See, nothing earth-shattering.)

But it's Christmas Eve, all the gifts we've bought are wrapped and under the tree, all the food prep I can do for tomorrow is done, Tom is home from work, even the cats are both inside. It's starting to get cloudy outside, it's already cold (North Carolina cold, at any rate), and now my head is clearing and I'm finally starting to celebrate in my heart.

Tonight we will go to the Rogers' house for prayer meeting. Since it's Christmas Eve we will sing many wonderful Christmas carols, and I will be in wonder yet again at how much great doctrine is packed into those hymns.

Here's my favorite. This was written by Aurelius Prudentius Clemens as a response to the heresy of Arianism. Arius believed that Jesus Christ did not exist from eternity past along with God, but at some point came into being. That's a very quick and dirty summary, read the link for more specifics.

Sunday morning we had a service of Scripture readings and Advent hymns. Two of the men of our church sang this hymn, with one of them playing guitar. I wish I had a recording of that performance to share, but this one will have to do instead. I do like that this one shows the words; they are definitely worth reading.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Because Natalie is laughing too hard to post this first...

This is SO stupid, it just IS. But somehow it's more than the sum of its parts...or something.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Please Leave A Message After The Beep

Hello, this is Beth's blog. Beth is not here right now is really here but is screening her calls. She doesn't have any good excuses for not blogging. She hadn't promised to say anything profound. She doesn't leave the house to Christmas shop. Her children are being reasonably well-behaved. Nobody is sick right now.

There is this thing tomorrow night to be gotten over with. But other than making a couple of easy side-dishes and cooking two hams and shopping for a bunch of stuff, she doesn't have much responsibility for the thing.

She has been sleeping just fine. She has been drinking plenty of tea. She may not be eating right because she can't think of anything that sounds good to eat. In some people that might lead to weight loss, but we don't need to worry about that here.

So, leave your message if you have one. Talk about the Chicago politics, the Christmas parties, the Big 3 Bailout. Or just watch this and pick your favorite Chicago cuisine. Beth prefers the Italian Beef.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Taxonomy Of Leftovers

If one makes a casserole dish of leftover mutton (a fancy name for sheep!), some vegetables, and gravy, and tops it with mashed potatoes, one has made Shepherd's Pie.

On the other hand, if one makes the same dish with leftover beef, one has made Cottage Pie.

But, if one makes the same dish with leftover turkey, what has one made?

First, we (the "one" thing was getting awkward) must decide whether the resulting dish should be named after an occupation or a dwelling. Which leads us (or one of us) to wonder why Cottage Pie is not called "Cattle Rancher's Pie"? Do people who live in cottages never eat sheep? Do shepherds never live in cottages?

Turkey Herder's Pie? Suburban Ranch House Pie? Poultryman's Pie? What is the correct title for someone who raises poultry? Do people who live in McMansions ever eat things like this? Since nobody who lives here raises animals for a living, do we name the pie according to our occupations? Photoshop Wranglers Pie? Mom Of All Trades Pies? And why is this dish even called "pie" when it has not a morsel of pastry in it?

So many questions, and sadly, so few answers.

I do know one thing: If I don't go deal with the gravy that is bubbling over the edge of the dish, we may be naming it Smoked Out/Burned Down Hovel Pie.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

As Usual, I Am Ahead Of The Trend

I can't do NaBloPoMo. I freely admit that, and I finally know myself well enough, at my advanced age and all, to not even set myself up for that kind of failure.

But without my readers even realizing it, I have been a part of a new movement in the blogosphere. The future of blogging, what the really cool kids do. I didn't want to scare y'all earlier and make you feel inadequate as you try to reach the high standard I'm setting. But now that it's become national news, I think it's time to be open with you, my readership.

I am a Slow Blogger.

Yes, we are out there, and we are a force to be reckoned with. We're not the Taco Bell of blogs, the blogs you gulp down on the way to soccer practice, the blogs that make you get up all night long with food poisoning...well, okay, maybe the analogy breaks down after a while.

But we are the Slow Food of blogging. I think we need a logo.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

But first, a blog post.

Which is what I said to myself a few minutes ago, after looking over my to-do list for the sixty-seven bazillionth time today. Update accounts, make apple crisp topping, clean monitor, eBay searches, order gift cards, strain gravy base...but first, a blog post.

•Okay, first of all, looking at that list of what's left to do today, I don't feel too bad. I got a lot of things done, and I don't even have to finish most of those. The gravy base won't wait, but everything else will.

•We now have one completely working phone. Well, if you don't want to wander too far with it. The cord is from the bedroom phone and it's a bit short, so there's no picking up the receiver and walking to someplace comfy to sit.

•BUT, two new classic Trimline phones are on their way from Radio Shack, and there was very great rejoicing. These are exactly like the phone we have in the kitchen now, except they are black. One is going in the bedroom, and one in the kitchen, and if I could have bought a more retro phone I would have.

I could have. But I didn't want to spend that much. Or this much. And that, my friends, is called knowing one's priorities. It's just a phone, and I hate talking on the phone, but...oh my, that is a pretty red phone. A pretty red phone which would end up falling on the floor because my husband insists he can't walk around phones that big without banging into them with his shoulders.

•I will end the suspense now. My middle name is Jane, and not after Jane Austen as far as I know, Rebecca. Your grandparents are not Austen fans, and your grandpa who will read every billboard on the highway (out loud!) just to have something to read, won't read her books.

•A shout-out to my nephew, Jim, who has moved to the Chicago burbs to go to school. Hey, Jim! We will miss you at Thanksgiving, especially when we get to the "McQwilkin, no child left behind" part of the proceedings. :) You should start a blog, in your spare time you know, and keep us up-to-date on what you're doing!

•At Thanksgiving I miss living further north, for just one reason. It's cold enough there almost every year that the back porch can become a back-up refrigerator. Every year I think that we should look into buying a second fridge for holiday gatherings, but I'm not sure where we'd put it.

•The rest of the year I think a second freezer would be nice. So I probably need both, right? Or would the cost of extra electricity to run them be outrageous. So many things to think about, so few really interesting things to blog about. :)

•Tom and Colin installed an electronic thermostat on our...well, what does one install a thermostat on? The "system"? The furnace? The wall! They installed it on the wall. :)

•If we save large sums of money on our heating and cooling bills, I will be sure to let y'all know.

•Biggest advantage I've noticed thus far with the new thermostat? It has nice large numbers, so I can see what it's set on without having to stand on the other side of the hall and look at it sideways.

Okay, it's almost 5:30, and I've got nothing interesting left, not that I had anything interesting to start with. Time to go make some supper and get this gravy base taken care of. There will probably be some blogging going on over the holiday weekend; I will most likely not be the one doing it...check in with Natalie and Rebecca for up-to-the-minute accounts of the festivities. If it snows we'll send John out on the road with a camera and a ruler.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

6 Random Things

Okay, so Rebecca tagged me for this eons ago, but I am very bad about memes. I'm not even sure I can think of six things about myself that I haven't blabbed about at great length already.

I'm going to break the law and not post the rules or tag anybody. So there.

Six Things:

1. I hate talking on the phone, and this is not a problem right now because we don't have any phones that work. The kitchen phone is broken where the cord attaches to the handset, so to use it you have to hold the cord in while talking. Our bedroom phone makes an annoying clicking noise the entire time it is in use. And Natalie's bedroom phone doesn't hold a charge once you get it off the base; it's good for a short conversation and that's it. Obviously we need to buy some phones. These ones are at least 11 years old if we put them in new when we built the house. But we might have brought them from the apartment, so who knows?

2. My hair has always been curly to some degree or another. It is curlier when it is long than when it is short. Hair stylists always say things like "We could cut it off short and it would just curl up so cute!" But it won't. If it's short, it's just bendy instead of curly...and it bends in all the wrong places. The more gray hairs I get the curlier it gets. On the right side of my head I have a couple of hunks of hair that form double helix curl patterns as they dry.

3. I don't like ketchup. The only way I will eat ketchup is the way I will be eating it tonight: combined with Other Ingredients and put on top of meatloaf as a baked-on sauce. The Philistines I Live With will scrape this off and put cold ketchup on their meatloaf.

4. As of last weekend I now know how to both knit and purl! Because I am strange, the only way I can knit is Continental and the only way I can purl is Norwegian. Oh, and I do a German Twisted cast-on. I am the UN of knitting.

5. For my first real knitting project I am making fingerless gloves/mitts/wrist warmers. I could have used them today because it is COLD in here.

6. My middle name is four letters long. I was born in the age when many parents gave their children standard throw-away middle names, but even though mine is very plain it is not one of the usual ones. At least not where I grew up. The standards there were Lynn, Ann, and Marie. Maybe mine was standard somewhere else. The only explanation I've heard is that my mom wanted it to be my first name and my dad didn't, so this was the compromise. I like my name now, both first and middle, but I didn't like it when I was a kid. All the cool girls had names like "Dawn" or "Traci"...or anything ending in "i", for that matter.

Phew...that was painful. All done. More later. Time to eat the meatloaf.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's Another Manic Monday

A few random bits of life:

• Over at Casubon's Book, Sharon Astyk's blog, folks are pledging to learn how to do things that they've told themselves they couldn't do. I'm joining The Competence Project; my goals are to learn how to purl so I can knit something other than a dishcloth, and to learn how to have a decent garden in the South. Go check it out and ask yourself if there's anything you've decided you can't learn.

• Something I'm thinking about: How can we slow down Thanksgiving dinner so that we're savoring the food and fellowship instead of gulping and ranting? I very much enjoy cooking holiday food, but it doesn't feel right to spend hours cooking and 15 minutes eating. Ideas on the table, so to speak, as of now: eating in courses, eating buffet style, spreading seating out more so that the groups are more relaxed, keep food hot and available for a longer time. Any ideas from readers, be they family members or friends or interested bystanders, gratefully accepted!

• Whilst catching up on the newspapers this weekend:

Me (reading article in Saturday's paper about Maya Angelou): It says here that 'Angelou now feels a new poem welling up inside her after Barack Obama's election'

Tom (from the depths of Wednesday or Thursday's paper): Nah, she's just constipated.

• Things I got done today: organizing my yarn piles in the living room, coralling a crochet project into its designated bag, lots of laundry, library books in the bag ready to be returned, more things that I forgot to write down on my to-do list and therefore have forgotten.

• Key to a feeling of achievement: write it on the to-do list, even if you just finished to-doing it.

• Oh, yes, today I fretted about lead in my dishes. After searching the vast reaches of the Internet I could find no information as to whether transferware made in the UK in the 1970s is likely to have dangerous levels of lead or not. We tested it with a cheap kits from the hardware store, and it tested as being safe. But I just heard recently that those tests aren't always accurate, and don't reflect what happens when you heat things in the microwave or eat acidic foods off the plates, etc. Still no answers.

• When I read on the Internet about lead in dishes, I'm tempted to reach the conclusion that there are only a few safe things to eat off of: solid white Corelle (but not the cups), clear glass, and Melmac. But the Melmac is plastic, and maybe it has BPAs? And if Melmac is melamine is it okay to eat off of it as long as you don't grind it up and add it to your food? Maybe I should pick the big leaves of my mom's magnolia tree and fashion natural plates out of them?

Time to go eat an apple and read the newspaper, the last things on my list. Oh, wait, there's still a load of towels in the dryer. Job security!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why I Am Happy Obama Won...

...even though I didn't vote for him.

Well, this is Friday, and I thought I'd have posted about the election by now. But we were up late Tuesday night, of course, and then we were up late Wednesday night, too. Wednesday and Thursday I was just too tired to put my thoughts together.

Last night I dreamed I had written a brilliant blog post explaining all my thoughts about the election. In that post, I weighed all the pros and cons of the different positions and drew very insightful conclusions about the impact of the election.

When I woke up I thought to myself "Oh, how wonderful to dream of the perfect words. I need to lie here for a minute and just get them fixed in my mind." Oops, too late, of course they were gone. Now I'm left to muddle through without the guidance of my apparently brilliant, but who will ever know, sleeping mind! Of course there are all kinds of gaps in my logic that you could, and some of you will, drive a truck through. But here it is, anyway.

• God's will was done. This may because He wants to use our new president to bless us, or it may be that He intends to use him to punish us. It may be that we will not know in our lifetimes what God's purpose was in appointing President Obama, but we know it is for His glory and our good.

• I am happy for my African American neighbors and friends. I do not believe that the color of a person's skin makes him any different from anyone else. The Bible clearly teaches that God created all of us from "one blood". We have many different physical characteristics, but we are all one human race, created in God's image. But people who look like me, my ancestors, stole people who look like Barack Obama, his ancestors, and cruelly made slaves of them based on their belief that they were less than human because of how they looked.

We all know that even after slavery was abolished, black people were treated as lesser citizens for many, many years. In many places and by many people they are still treated poorly, based solely on the color of their skin. If these people are rejoicing that someone who looks like them was elected President, then I want to rejoice with them! Yes, of course, we should instead be saying "The best man for the job was elected. What color is his skin? Oh, he looked tanner/paler/redder than me, does that matter?" But when our country's history has been stained by such sinful prejudice for so many years, it does have meaning that we've taken even this one small step in the right direction.

• This is an opportunity for Christians to stop putting their trust in politics, and more particularly in the Republican party.

• However, having said that, if the Republican party wants to go back to any kind of righteous stance on "social issues" this is their big chance. I rather doubt that this will happen, though.

• I am happy that we will now have a president who can exhibit gravitas in his speech and actions. It's been 16 years; it's about time.

• I am happy that the Obamas seem to be a loving couple who are trying to have a good marriage and raise their children well in spite of the public spotlight.

• I am happy that the Obamas claim to be Christians. I pray that they will find themselves a good church in Washington where they will hear the true, unadulterated Word of God preached, and where they will be held accountable and encouraged to live out their professed beliefs.

• I am glad that our new president wants to end the war in Iraq, and I am thankful that he was never in favor of it in the first place. I know it may not be possible at this point to end it quickly. But I am thankful that we will have a president who at least professes that he would not take us to war against a nation who did not attack us. I hope and pray he will maintain that position and that he will be used to change our country's hostile relationship with other countries.

Yes, of course there are negatives to having Barack Obama elected as our president. I could not vote for him because of his position on abortion. He may or may not be telling the truth about his associations with some of the people he has been accused of being associated with. If he does owe them anything in the way of respect or favors that could be very bad.

Those are the things that bother me. The fact that he may want to raise my taxes, or that he is "moving us to Socialism", or that he may plan to institute a national health plan, or that he may not be as happy about people owning piles of guns as Sarah Palin was, or any number of similar things he's been accused of, doesn't bother me nearly so much. Sure, I would be irritated if our taxes go up, but they're going to go up no matter who is president anyway. Sure, a national health plan might be hard to adjust to. But those are material things, and my security should not be in material things. I may have "rights" that are given to me by the Constitution of the United States, but those are not rights guaranteed to me by God.

One final thing. In the days since the election I have seen some people online talking about wanting to leave the US because of the results of the election. Some of them have mentioned moving to Canada. Please, people, do a little research before you say things like that. Sure, Hollywood's finest made a big point of saying they'd move to Canada or France in 2004 if Bush was re-elected. Just a hint here...they weren't headed to either of those countries because of the excess of freedom and capitalism to be found there. Maybe y'all could move to Alaska and join that secessionist party they have there?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

10 Things Tuesday--Visual Edition

Ahh...my tech support team are home. They got it fixed for me!

So Natalie and Rebecca are doing Ten Things Tuesday again this week, and again the theme is "Things That Make Me Smile".

Ahem...did either of you notice that today is Election Day?? Smiling on Election Day? Hmmmppphhh... Shouldn't there be a really good Calvinist joke about Election Day? Yeah, I thought so, too. Let me know if you find it.

Until then, ten visuals, political for the most part, that make me smile:

1.

cat


2.



3.



4.



5.



6.



7.



8.



9.



10.
Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

Arrggghhhh....10 Things Tuesday!

So, I tried to do a "Ten Things Tuesday" post. I thought I would be so clever and it would all be pictures, so I spent way too much time tracking down funny captioned pictures from LOLCats and others. Pictures with a political theme to fit the day. Got them all arranged and the codes entered properly (as far as I know, anyway). And now they won't work. Blogger doesn't like the HTML on them.

So you don't get funny pictures, you get crankiness.

(Grabbing self by scruff of neck and administering stern shaking.)

Okay, we'll try it analog. Ten Things That Make Me Smile

1. God is still in control!

2. Elections don't last forever!

3. Maple leaves in the fall

4. The return to Eastern Standard Time

5. Plump lazy cats holding down the furniture

6. Comfort food on a chilly night

7. Cross-stitching while listening to the TV

8. Colin cleaning his room all by himself!

9. Incandescent lights on a dreary day

10. Driving over acorns

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Ever have one of those days/lives when it feels like everything is held in suspense? Or do I mean "held in suspension"? Because I started to type that first, and then thought that sounded more like what happens when you mix a solid with a liquid in chemistry class. Or is that "in solution"?

I have a jury duty notice for tomorrow. I am waiting for it to be after 5:00PM so I can call the automated system and find out if I have to go in. My number is 7. You know, the "good" number in the Bible (I think the lengths to which people can take Biblical numerology are a bit out there, but the 7 thing IS there in Scripture) so does that count for anything? If it was 666 maybe they wouldn't want me to come in, eh?

Jury duty isn't a BAD thing per se; it's just a disruption of my life and I don't do disruption very well. My body is used to waking up slowly and getting breakfast when it's good and ready to digest it, and having two big cups of tea before coping with school work...things like that. Getting up at the crack of dawn and running downtown to the courthouse (to stand outside in the cold till they let us into the secured building!) is just too painful to think about right now. So I'm fretting. It's 3:52, so an hour and a few minutes till I can call and learn my fate.

Then there's the election next week. I've wracked my brain to come up with way to justify voting for any of the presidential candidates allowed on the NC ticket. No go. I saw a blog post where someone described it as being not the "lesser of two evils" this year, but the "different of two evils". That really sums it up for me. Which form of evil do I want to support? Yikes!

Just getting to vote this year is a major ordeal because some people who have never voted before are coming out in droves to impact the election. Well, good for them! I mean that sincerely, and I hope, hope, hope they've educated themselves about the options before making their choice. But fighting crowds does not make doing one's civic duty any more pleasant or enjoyable to look forward to.

Lesser things to wait for...well, I guess I'm somewhat fretted about whether any of the rest of us will get Colin's cold. But it's not a big hairy deal. I always fret about what Colin may or may not do when he's sick, but since I try not to horrify people too much that's all the more I'll say about that.

Okay, typing that all out helped some, I think. Jury duty will either happen or not happen. Side note: I wonder if juries are still supposed to be composed of one's peers? How many forty-something home school moms are criminals? The only time I've done jury duty before was in Illinois, and there I ended up being an alternate on a rape trial. I most assuredly do NOT consider myself a "peer" with the hastily-scrubbed-up-and-trimmed-and-put-into-a-suit scumbag of a defendant. At least not in the legal or worldly sense...in the sense that he and I are both descendants of Adam and inheritors of Adam's sin I guess we were pretty much peers.

Hey, we went to a daintz Friday night! It was encouraging to be with other families who are attempting to train their children in the faith. It was fun to get to meet some of Natalie's bloggy friends and their parents. It was not fun to learn that the equation tom+extreme fatigue+no-doz+thumping music+spinning people+photography=dizziness. Again with the worrying, because when he told me he needed to go outside and get some air because he was dizzy the only thing I could think was that he'd gotten food poisoning or was having a heart attack. As it turned out, just getting away from the visual and aural stimuli cleared his head and he was fine from there on out.

It was great to watch an older couple who looked like they had been square dancing for decades. They kept up with the young people with absolutely no problem; I don't think they even broke a sweat. The young people seemed to have a good time. Natalie said one of her bloggy friends told her she didn't look the same as on her blog...she was probably giving him the homeschooled glare of death or something. But I know what he meant, because I had seen pictures of several of the people there and it was still an odd disconnect to put voices together with faces and to see the faces and bodies in motion. I also found that I built up personality "pictures" in my mind for a couple of people based on their writing styles, and had to suddenly drastically alter that picture upon meeting the people. Which is why it's good to get out and fellowship with people instead of relying on the Internet for socialization, I guess. :)

4:13 PM...less than an hour till the verdict on jury duty. Colin has just placed, using magnetic letters, an "I", an "A", a "1", and a "3" on the fridge and wants me to tell him what's missing. Uh??

Edited at 5:21 PM...they want jurors 81-256. Happy for me, not so happy for those folks...unless they wanted to go, in which case I wish them well. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

When life hands you lemons...

Or when brothers hand you blog posts...

Jim's questions from the comments in bold...my replies with bullet points.

- Have you been practicing your "Men Without Hats" impersonations?

• I plan to act real rude and totally removed...and also like an imbecile.

- How did Dad get back through security? I'm glad this happened in Phoenix and not in some place like Chicago. Btw, how did they wind up routed through PHX? What sort of weird ticket is that?

•He showed his ID at the ticket counter and got duplicate papers.

•Amen! But they did it at O'Hare last time, too.

•It's the cheapest way to get to Bend without having two or three stops at places like Newark or DC.

•Ask your brother.

- What sort of dance is this? Will there be {shudder} body contact involved?

•Square

•It depends on how badly they trip over each other.

- Will there be an overbearing homeschool MWAP "in charge" who determines which of the fifteen verses of each Martin Luther hymn you must dance to? (Yes, now IS the time on Shprockets vhen ve dance!)

•We can only hope!

•Who skips verses??

- I have a denim jumper.

•With a whacking great flag pin on it?

- Whatever you do, don't wear the wrong trousers.

•Ex-NASA! Fantastic for walkies!

- Who/what is Colin dressing up as for All Hallows Even? Will you slaughter any livestock?

•We're planning on Joe the Plumber right now, but there's always the scarecrow option.

•If they come to our door!

- Why does Colin have a pink eraser? Perhaps he'd do better with something that's manly white.

•Because they don't make "Blue Pearl" erasers?

•Are you eraser-racist?

- Ten more days till DST ends, then our evening meals will be plunged into darkness and despair... and not because of the menu.

•Quit feeding those kids those awful hunks of meat, they want veggies!

See, that was easy. If I could do that every day I could do NaBloPoMo. Anybody want to volunteer to write lengthy comments for me everyday?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

You Can't Always Get What You Want

But if you try sometimes, well you just might find, you get...um...random Wednesday bullet points?

•My parents made it to Oregon and back with only one incident...Dad went off in search of milkshakes at the Phoenix airport and ended up outside the security checkpoint without his ticket and boarding pass.

•Dad is not senile, he has always wandered off...usually at state parks, airports, or convention centers, and always leaving Mom stranded.

•The earliest wandering incident I know of was when he took me and two of my cousins for "short walk" at a state park and got us lost. I was young enough at the time that I have no memory of this, but my cousins and my mom remember it vividly.

•Apparently we are attending a dance this Friday. I was going to say we were attending it "en famille" but when I looked that up it turns out that means staying at home with one's family. We are attending "en masse".

•When I type the word "dance" consider it pronounced "daintz" or "dayuhntz".

•Because I said so.

•I am pretty much in a torment of introverted spazziness about this shindig. We are going to a town I've never been to, and meeting a bunch of people I've never met, and I will probably have to Talk To People.

•What does one wear to one of these things if one is not going to dance? These people are homeschoolers, some of them, and from a church somewhat like ours...so denim jumpers?

•Ha! Homeschool joke. :)

•I do have a denim jumper, but it's too big for me. I'm saving it for when the economy totally tanks and we need to reupholster something.

•Slacks would be most comfortable...I hate the word "slacks", and the word "trousers". But when you're on message boards with Brits they make fun of you for saying you're wearing "pants" because that means undies to them.

•Someone in this household is being obstreperous and objecting to cutting his/her hair to make his/her Halloween costume more authentic.

•We have a complicated and inconsistent family position on Halloween. Sometimes we let our kids go trick-or-treating and sometimes we celebrate Reformation Day instead.

•Should a homeschooling mother really have to tell her son, as I did just now, "Use your pink eraser to erase your desk!"? Math a la Colin.

•Fall is here, fall is here, fall is here!!! My favorite season of the year!!!

•Now if we could just get back on Standard time, life would be wonderful!

•In Arizona they don't switch to Daylight Saving Time. John McCain is from AZ. I wonder if he would make it law that the rest of us don't have to switch.

•Because I might could be persuaded to vote for him if he'd do that.

•Anybody who thinks getting $5K per year to purchase a family's insurance with is a good deal has not priced insurance lately.

•So there I go getting political again, and then I'll get sarcastic. And that's why I can't go out in public. To daintzes and things like that.

•Last night I stitched after not getting any stitching done for several days. But the two projects I have kitted up and in my bag are not thrilling me at all right now.

•They are things I will like a lot when I get done with them, but the stitching is tedious.

•Later today I'll pull out my Big Box O' Stash and kit up something else less finicky. I have this pattern, and I have fabric and floss to make it with, and I have a spot in the kitchen to hang it, and I have a frame to frame it with.

•So, that looks like one obvious choice. But maybe something else will catch my eye...we'll see.

•Okay, this is becoming an even more boring post than usual so I will put y'all out of your misery and stop!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Advent = Countdown???

Today I am doing some school planning. Mostly just sorting through the next few months' worth of schoolwork that Colin's going to do...making sure I have things I need, printing out some worksheets, requesting books from the library, organizing, that kind of thing.

But I needed a break for lunch, and while I was eating I looked at some crafty blogs and on one of them saw this. Do what??!

Okay, so maybe this one writer just made up this term to be cute. Google is my friend. Let's see: we have this here, and this here, and look...another one!

Now here's the Webster's definition of "advent":

1: the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas and observed by some Christians as a season of prayer and fasting

2 a: the coming of Christ at the Incarnation b: second coming

3
not capitalized : a coming into being or use Advent of spring> Advent of pasteurization> Advent of personal computers>

(Do you like how the Websters site says "not capitalized" for the 3rd definition and then capitalizes the word in the examples?)

So, maybe the 3rd definition works for these...these...Halloween Countdown Calendars. But if we stretch it like that then shouldn't they be saying "countdown calendar to the advent of Halloween"? Or "fun way to count down the days to the advent of Halloween"? But it wouldn't really be the "advent" of Halloween, now would it? The advent of this year's Halloween celebration? Maybe.

I hate to be cliched (actually I don't, do I?) but this is yet another Inigo Montoya moment. This word they keep using just doesn't mean what they think it means!

Advent Calendars are presumable derived from Advent Wreaths which were designed to commemorate Advent, the four Sundays before Christmas. Advent Calendars don't really celebrate Advent so much as serve as a countdown guide for anxious little kids waiting for Christmas Day. But they are at least tangentially related to the Advent and Christmas season.

I should clarify that I'm not arguing about this on a doctrinal or theological basis. We don't have proof that Christ was born on December 25th, and not all Christians celebrate Christmas, but some do, and both sides have strong arguments in favor of their way of doing things.

My gripe is solely about the appropriation and misuse of the word "advent". Words mean things, people. (Excuse me, I used to listen to Rush a LONG TIME AGO!)

I just read on the NASA website that the next launch of the space shuttle Endeavour (they use the British spelling?!) is scheduled for November 14th. That's also my brother's birthday...hmmm... Guess I'd better get my school work done quickly and get to work crafting a dual-purpose Endeavour Launch/David's Birthday Advent!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Jet Dry

Whenever I am rilly, rilly, rillllllyyyy in a hurry to get the dishwasher started it happens. I add the detergent, close the door, hit the start button, and kaboom... There's the "add rinse agent" light.

This indicator doesn't light up at the end of a cycle, that would make too much sense. You could see the little light and calmly fill the dispenser after emptying the dishwasher. No, that would be too easy. Even though it couldn't have gotten any emptier sitting there (evaporation? I am not listening to you!) it can only now tell you about its sad, empty state.

So it's empty, and it needs to be filled, and those of you getting ready to argue with me about that (Jim!!) can think about condensation and surface tension and why dishwashers with a no-heat drying cycle have stainless steel walls.

Dig around in the under-sink cabinet, think to self "Someday, SOMEBODY has got to clean this up, there is dust and crud everywhere!", find Jet Dry. Open flip-top, realize this is a new bottle, open screw lid, peel off little stickery-protection-from-doom-thingy, open dishwasher, open dispenser cover, attempt to fill reservoir with Jet Dry.

The reservoir is flattish and has a little plastic window thing that is supposed to indicate when it is full, and the area to pour the stuff in has a little dial and plastic arrow that can be moved around to dispense more or less of the stuff during the rinse cycle. The best way to fill the reservoir without wasting the Jet Dry is to squirt in a little bit, let it trickle in, squirt in more, trickle in, etc, etc, ad infinitum, world without end, amen.

However the bottle is full. It does not know the meaning of the term "squirt in a little bit", so even with a very gentle pressure it is pouring out enough to rapidly overflow the opening and douse the inside of the dishwasher door. Attempting to let the Jet Dry flow out of the bottle without exerting pressure is also a no-go.

So the thing is full, I guess. I can never see any difference in the little indicator window thing. But I've put A Quantity of Jet Dry in it, therefore it is full. Close the flap, close the dishwasher, press the start button again, off we go.

The Jet Dry bottle is labeled boldly with the inscription "New and Improved". It can't be both, can it? Or did they develop a new formula, discover it was awful, and have to improve it? The bottle doesn't say what was new and what was improved. I will testify that the bottle and dispensing method are neither.

New and Improved. The sign at the KFC says "New Original Recipe Strips". What part of that is new? The "original" recipe? In which case, is it "original" as in the first one they started with? Or as in "nobody thought of this before"? Or are the "strips" the new part? Or did they just cook up some new ones today instead of serving week-old ones like they did yesterday?

The dishes got clean. I didn't eat any "strips". Happy Monday, everyone!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hey, everybody look!!

Amanda (MandolinArtist) has a blog!!!

Go check it out and see her art work! And, yes, I realize NOW that it's been there for three days. I am clueless and senile and cannot take a hint.

Welcome to blogging, Amanda...now the pressure of a blogging lifestyle begins. :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fair Results

First of all, not much sunburn but MUCH complaining about the smell of sunscreen. I despise the smell of sunscreen, so I don't use it unless I absolutely have to. But Tom was putting on some nifty new sunscreen and assured me that it didn't smell at all. He later amended that remark to "It doesn't smell at all...except to bloodhounds!" Yes, you can read that as being said in a very exasperated tone of voice.

We ate ribeye steak sandwiches and funnel cakes, with Colin subbing a corn dog for the ribeye sandwich part of the meal. We only managed to see one show, but I'm glad we saw the one we did. It was a family group called the Rhinestone Ropers. They did rope tricks, gun twirling and slinging tricks, and whip tricks. Colin got called up front with some other little boys to learn how to twirl a rope. And I found the perfect place to sit...propped against the wheel of a bobcat-type tractor. It even provided shade!!

Well, Natalie will probably provide more details about and pictures of the other things we saw. I'll get on with the exhibition results.

First of all, crafty stuff. In this picture are all the crocheted items I entered:



Results: pastel striped baby afghan--nothing; big ripple afghan--third place; purple scarf--third place; navy hat--second place; stuffed cat--nothing.

Then the cross-stitched pieces:

This was entered in the Flowers category, and did not win anything.



This was entered in the Animals category, and also did not win anything.



This was entered in the Sampler category, and got second place. That was exciting!


(My philosophy with all my craft entries is to enter things I want to make because I like them or am giving them to someone who will like them. Sometimes this means I win ribbons and sometimes it doesn't. Those of you who have seen the competition I had this year will know I was very blessed to get this many ribbons!)

Okay, now cooking entries. We didn't take any pictures of these entries, so you just get a list for this part. :)

Breads: light rolls--nothing white bread--third place hot cross buns--nothing

Cookies: gingersnaps--second place sugar cookies--second place peanut butter cookies--first place

Cakes: white--third place yellow---first place devil's food--second place cake mix--nothing applesauce--third place prune cake--second place

All in all, I am very happy with the results this year. I also have some ideas of what to do differently next year. The total premium check I'll get this year is $136.00...Christmas shopping money!!! Which is the third reason I do this every year...it's not that I'm so fond of those little polyester ribbons. :) The first reason, when I'm thinking properly about this, is to glorify God and to keep up some skills that I can use to bless my family and others. The second reason is to promote homemade cooking and crafting and keep that part of the fair going.

Typing all this out helped me to feel encouraged about this year's fair. As is usual for me the day after the fair, I am sore and tired and feeling not-very-good overall. But when I look over the results and think about all the neat things we saw that other people had done I start getting excited about projects for next year. Time to start stitching and hunting for recipes!! (I think there was only one cake entered in the "any other spice cake" category---target selected!)

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fannie Mae, you almost failed me, Boo...

We're at the Fair today...checking out the exhibits, seeing if we won anything, making plans and strategies for next year (QUICK, what's the difference between a "tactic" and a "strategy"?!), eating funnel cakes, watching whacko Wild West-themed shows, tipping the bathroom ladies, and getting a little sunburned. Because it's Fall now and it's COOL, just in time for the Fair. And the sun doesn't really burn your skin if you don't feel hot, right?

So, to keep you busy while you're waiting with bated breath for our ribbon count, here's a musical ode to the current financial crisis. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

To Do Today

1. Sleep Late

Status: done (slept till 8:30!)

2. Recover From Fair Prep

Status: purt near

3. Clean Bathroom

Status: done

4. Try New Brand Of Contacts Eye Doc Recommended

Status: in eyes now, fit well but slightly itchy

5. Wash, Dry, and Fold Three Loads of Laundry

Status: one completely done, one in dryer, one in washer

6. Kitchen Chores: Polish stove, make ice, put away folding table and extra baking supplies

Status: done

7. Check Online Accounts

Status: still to be done

8. Fix Easy Supper Involving Hamburger and Canned Biscuits

Status: hamburger thawing

9. Read Paper

Status: still to be done, probably this evening between suppertime and The Debate

10. Blog Post

Status: really close to being done

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Now the jihad needs containin'!

Since we homeschool we have some freedom to tweak our school days to fit around real life. So, one thing we do every year is take off school the week we turn in our entries at the Dixie Classic Fair. Monday, Tuesday, and part of Wednesday are spent frantically finishing our baking projects. In theory we should have all the crafts done before this week, but a couple of us were knitting and crocheting hats at the last minute. And one of us was very slooowwwwllly painting a foam core board to put his Lego project on.

You'd think Colin would enjoy having the week off. But, no, he is bored and doesn't know what to do with his free time. Monday afternoon he stomped in to where I was working and declared "I am going to have to GET A JOB because I am tired of having NOTHING TO DO in the Fall!!"

Turns out, he intends to be a tailor and make clothing for animals. Yes, we read too much Beatrix Potter, why do you ask? Unfortunately it took a long time for me to understand what his chosen career was and this only added to his frustration. He has trouble with the "th" sound, so I thought he was telling me (loudly) that he wanted to "make cloves". I think that's an understandable mistake for an old woman who has been baking cakes and cookies for two days straight.

We got all our fair entries delivered today, and by "we" I mean "Natalie". She delivered stuff and I cleaned up the kitchen. Pretty good deal, I think. She took pictures for me of my craft projects, but we haven't had time to tweak them and get them ready to post. I entered: a large afghan, a baby afghan, a crocheted hat, a scarf, a cat, and three cross-stitched pieces. I also entered six cakes, three kinds of cookies, dinner rolls, white bread, and hot cross buns. I didn't enter the new Official Burnie R. Little Scone category because I do not have the gift of scones.

When I started this post I had some sort of outline in mind and had a general idea of where it was going. No longer. I'm either really, really, really tired...or else my brain has become clogged with all the powdered sugar I inhaled this afternoon. My hands still feel sticky. Time to shower, read the paper, and crawl in bed. Tomorrow morning I can start thinking about what to make for next year.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pobre Tomate!

No es triste? She wishes she could dance!

Like the cucumber...libre y suavemente.

But she can't. Not even at Uncle Louie's polka party.



Well, maybe the tomate (look at my picture, look at Bob the Tomato...family resemblance, no?) doesn't really want to dance. Okay, yeah, she does, but she knows her body won't cooperate any more.

But what she really wishes is that these modern contra dances were set up more like the dances back in Jane Austen's day. Or, at least, Jane Austen's day as portrayed in the movies. With, you know, comfy-ish chairs around the edges where the old ladies sit. Because it would be really fun to pretend to be Mrs. Bennet at one of these deals...sit there cramming cake in one's mouth and being loud and vulgar and speculating about how much money the young men make.

What??

No.

I really don't act like that all the time. Well, okay, but it's cookies, not cake. (See note above re: family resemblance and rotundity) And I don't talk with my mouth full. Much.

Unlike Mrs. Bennet, though, I would for sure bring some knitting or crocheting to work on. You've got to wonder how many of her nerve problems and how much of her crankiness were brought on by sitting around watching young people spinning around at high rates of speed.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

On the phone this morning

Me: Oh, yes, she does have cute kids! Yes, they are a very attractive family.

Caller: Well, I know who I'm voting for, for sure!

Me: I haven't made up my mind yet; I'm not happy with either of the two main candidates.

Caller: You can't trust Obama, that's for sure! Oho, no, there's no way you can trust him!

Me: Politicians are like that, aren't they? They say so much and yet you can't tell if they're really telling the truth.

Caller: Well! I'd say you can certainly believe John McCain!! He was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, you know. And you know they offered to let him go because of who his dad was, and he refused their offer! So!!

Me: ??????

***Beth changes subject, wraps up phone call, hangs up phone, beats head against wall and wonders (yet again) if we really are getting exactly the government we deserve***

Monday, September 1, 2008

Some good reading and listening for a Monday

Yesterday Stu Johnston from Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Mebane spoke at our morning worship service. His message was called Six Reasons God Allows Satan To Attack Us, and if you click on that title you will be able to listen to the sermon at the PBC website.

Pastor Johnston based his message on the 22nd chapter of Luke, where Jesus tells Peter that the Devil has desired to sift him. I won't give a recap of the message here because I would ruin it. Just go listen to it in Pastor Johnston's own words. It was both comforting and convicting and a strong reminder of God's sovereignty.

Another strong reminder of God's sovereignty...hymn #75 in the new Trinity Hymnal! We sang this yesterday:

O Father, You Are Sovereign

O Father, You are sovereign in all the worlds You made;
Your mighty Word was spoken, and light and life obeyed.
Your voice commands the seasons and bounds the ocean’s shore,
Sets stars within their courses and stills the tempests’ roar.

O Father, You are sovereign in all affairs of man;
No powers of death or darkness can thwart Your perfect plan.
All chance and change transcending, supreme in time and space,
You hold your trusting children secure in Your embrace.

O Father, You are sovereign the Lord of human pain,
Transmuting earthly sorrows to gold of heavenly gain,
All evil overruling, as none but Conqueror could,
Your love pursues its purpose—our souls’ eternal good.

O Father, You are sovereign! We see You dimly now,
But soon before Your triumph earth’s every knee shall bow.
With this glad hope before us our faith springs forth anew:
Our Sovereign Lord and Savior, we trust and worship You!

This is the tune used for this hymn in the Trinity Hymnal.


I needed the reminders of God's sovereignty this weekend after spending time Friday and Saturday thinking about John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his vice president. I was initially enthused about Palin...after all, she's everything McCain used to be, or at least used to claim to be! But my initial enthusiasm cooled off after I started thinking about the Biblical ramifications of a woman being in this position. I've been mulling over how to present my opinions on this and how best to express my objections. But in the meantime others have stepped up and expressed this much better than I could...so I will link to them and encourage you to read their thoughts carefully and prayerfully.

Carmon Friedrich of Buried Treasure Books posted this entry on Saturday and hers was the first post I saw this weekend that raised this question. (Editing to add---others surely may have posted before Carmon, she even links to some of them---this was only the first one I saw.)

Follow the links from Carmon's post to get some additional perspectives, and read her comments to get agreement and disagreement from her readers.

Voddie Bauchum also addressed the McCain/Palin candidacy in the light of Scripture and from a pro-family viewpoint. I appreciated his calm, reasoned tone.

EDITING AGAIN ON TUESDAY: Today I noticed that our pastor, Michael Beasley, had also written about Palin's candidacy at The Armoury. Be sure to read this one, too!

If any of my readers has written, or knows of, a Biblically-based argument in favor of Palin being vice-president I would be interested in seeing it. For those of you who are having the immediate reaction "But that means you're going to vote for Obama!" or "But if you don't vote for McCain Obama will win!"...scroll back up to the top of the post and listen to the sermon and read the hymn about God's sovereignty. Then you might go take a look at these links for some ideas of how America's two-party system could be changed. BIG NOTE: The Cat is NOT endorsing, recommending, or idealizing either of these two parties. She might be voting for one of them; that remains to be seen at this time.

Constitution Party-Chuck Baldwin/Darrell Castle

Libertarian Party-Bob Barr

Friday, August 29, 2008

Too Good To Pass Up

No, I should not be posting. I'm supposed to be reading long, boring web pages exploring the difference between regular high-deductible health insurance and HSA accounts. Natalie turns 19 in...I don't know...a few days. She needs insurance because Tom's employer has plans we can buy to cover our cats, but not our children over age 18. Say "meow", Natalie. Good girl.

I should also be getting my fair registration filled out and submitted and a zillion other things that need to be done. Like the craft projects that I'm entering in the fair...that would be a good idea.

But stupid me, I had to go read some blogs that Natalie links to. And I had to read this. And get that song stuck in my head. And look up the video on Youtube.

And now Colin is going around making the arm motions. And Natalie is talking about medieval mullets (mediemullets?). So why not share the agony with my readers? Yeah, I knew you'd be grateful. Enjoy:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Relieved, Reassured, Comforted...and all that...

The USA is going to be okay, people, it really is.

We may be sending all our jobs to India, and buying all our goods from China via WalMart.

We may have two lousy political parties, and two less-than-ideal presidential candidates to choose from.

Our economy may be in the toilet, and gas prices may be so high we can't afford to drive.

But...BUT!!!

When it comes to scantily-clad women playing volleyball on fake beaches we reign supreme. Even though China managed to find some very tall women to make into volleyball players, still the strength and ingenuity of American youth conquered in the end.

And if you can be the country with the best team of women-who-play-volleyball-in-their-undies, well...why would any of that other stuff worry you?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Back with the Randomness...so predictable...

Hello, I'm back, and as usual after being a total blog-slacker, I am back with the Random.

•What did I do to stop my blogging cold in its tracks, as it were? I published a post in which I promised to write about something definite. Lesson to The Cat: Don't do that; it causes blogger's block and paper cuts and fleas in the armpit.

•I signed up for Facebook, which I think is meant for people younger than me. But, I did find a bunch of friends and kin around my age hanging out there...so...a revolution, I guess.

•Facebook is HARD to figure out. They keep it that way in an effort to screen out old people like me. They don't know about our secret weapons..."For Dummies" books and offspring. Heh heh...

•Despite the confusing-ness (Hey, if Bela Karolyi can say "bias-ness", I can say "confusing-ness"!) of Facebook, I'll keep puttering with it because it's another way to stay in touch with people.

•As is Twitter, but I'm not sure I'm up for more connectedness. Until I saw this video, I really didn't know what Twitter was designed to do. I thought it had something to do with cell phones. And since my cell phone likes to hang out with the aforementioned offspring, fun little cell phone applications aren't much use to me.

•Go watch the video even if you're a Twitter expert...please. Just do it. Just to hear that guy say "English" if nothing else, okay? It's almost...uh...presidential.

•Let's get this straight right now while we're talking about politics. (We totally were.) "They" don't hate us because we have so much freedom. They hate us because we don't know how to pronounce our own language. We have a hard G, people, let's use it.

•My mom used to tell me something along the lines of "you will end up being just like the person who aggravates you the most." Or maybe it was "the person you are making fun of." Hmmm. Anyway, the other night I was using the word "nuclear" and, completely without intending to, mispronounced it. Nuke-u-lure...why do you ask?

•Twitter might not work for me because it's too much like talking on the phone. I generally don't like to talk on the phone. (Stop spluttering, Natalie.) When Colin was a toddler he learned to say "Oh no...who's that?" when the phone rang.

•It's been years since I've been forced to take a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment, so when I saw a link to one on someone's blog today I took it. Today I'm an INTJ. Woo, and also hoo.

•Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis were supposedly INTJs, which would give one a big head if one did not stop to consider that Donald Rumsfeld and Rudy Guiliani are also. And how does one conduct a MBTI assessment on a dead person, anyway?

•I dislike these assessments because I feel like I am incapable of answering them honestly without trying to put myself in the proper category with my answers. We once were members of a church where someone got the bright idea to do an assessment like this and then assign people jobs based on their personalities and gifts.

•You know I was trying my hardest to figure out how to rig those tests so that they'd indicate that I was ideally suited for something like ironing table covers for communion. But, no, of course that would never do. I was always "best suited" for something like making phone calls to every single family in the church to set up appointments for church directory photos.

•Which leads me to believe one of three things was happening. One, it could be that my personality can't be accurately reflected by a test, even if I'm totally and brutally honest. (Sort of a MBTI vampire?) Two, it could be that the organizers of jobs had decided what they wanted me to do and a little test wasn't going to stop them. Three, it could be that the organizers of jobs decided based on my test results that I needed to be pulled out of my shell and made to do extroverted things like making phone calls. Choose whichever option fits your Conspiracy Theory Plausibility Type Indicator.

•Where was I going with all that? Hmm...an over-elaborate explanation for why I won't be Twittering? Maybe.

•Or maybe my brain is just shutting further down than usual this week from staying up too late watching the Michael Phelps ShowNBC Olympics Coverage.

I make no promises about my future posts...got that? No promises!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Okay, okay, I can take a hint!

Time to give the public what they want, I think.

Do you know the most common search phrase that brings people to this blog?

"Home remedies for sick cats"

There's just something about the little darlings that makes us want to treat their illnesses at home and not schlep them to the vet, isn't there? We've had to do some home treatment for our cats over the years...sometimes to avoid paying a lot of money for a very minor problem, and sometimes to implement a treatment the vet has recommended.

So, sometime soon I'll put up a series of posts about home remedies for cats. I can't promise a time-frame yet...so if Tigger is looking poorly right now, don't hang around waiting, okay? :)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Why do the (furry) heathen rage? Feline Theology 101

We had a thunderstorm come up suddenly here this afternoon and it made me think...

Is it at all possible that animals go to Heaven? I mean animals we know here in this life...pets, for instance. This is a rhetorical question, of course, although there are a bunch of websites out there with "answers". Just Google "Do pets go to Heaven?" and see how much precious time you can spend reading theories about why or why not God would allow pets into Heaven.

••Disclaimer: This post is not reflective of accurate Biblical theology and doctrine, and is meant for entertainment purposes only. :)

We've had three cats since the grand day when Natalie convinced Tom that she needed a kitty cat. Two of them, Petunia and Gracie, we still have; Basil died three years ago. They each have/had their own doctrinal beliefs, as evidenced by their attitudes and behaviors.

Basil--Calvinist. Basil knew he couldn't do anything to make himself good in God's eyes or in the eyes of anyone else. He knew he was a sinful cat, he knew he didn't deserve to have a good home and good food and a loving family. He was truly grateful for the life God had given him and for the people who cared for him. When he misbehaved he repented.

Petunia--Arminian. Petunia is the classic Arminian, she is working hard for her salvation and she will let you know it. She works constantly to position herself as The Good Girl. When she and Basil would wrestle she would get behind something where he couldn't reach her and then scream and cry about how he was killing her. We used to yell at Basil until we noticed one day that between cries she was very handily wholloping him while he sat there looking guilty.

Gracie--Heathen. Gracie is just, unfortunately, a flat-out heathen. She doesn't care whether she sins, she doesn't care if there is a God, she lives for Gracie and Gracie alone. Oh, and she sorta likes humans if they are willing to cater to her every desire. Actually, Gracie may think of herself as a deity. When things don't go her way she doesn't just complain, she rages.

Which brings me to the storm this afternoon. Gracie was outside when the clouds started rolling in. Natalie went out and called her, but she refused to come inside. Instead she sat on the patio with her ears twitching as the thunder boomed and the lightening flashed. We called her several times, knowing the rain was coming at any moment, but she stiffened her back and refused to come in. The sky was dark, the lightning was wild, the thunder was loud...and she sat on that patio, looked to the sky, and...raised her paw and flicked it at the sky.

When the heavens opened and the rain poured down she suddenly ran for the door and flung herself at it. We let her in, but she showed no signs of repentance...nothing but utter rage that she should have had to be subjected to such an insult.

She probably wouldn't wear a flag pin, either.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Stitching Update

Here's a quick update of my recent stitching projects. I took these photos myself, so please excuse the fuzziness. I am not good at holding still. :) I could have borrowed Natalie's tripod (especially since I was already using her camera) but my main goal was speed, not perfection.

This is "The Rose in Morning" by Little House Needleworks. I finished this a few weeks ago, but hadn't posted a picture of it. I measured it this morning and the finished size is about 4" by 18", so it's probably not going to be made into a pillow as it's doubtful that there are pillow forms out there in that odd size!

This is "Serendipity Sampler" by Papillon Creations. All the outer sections are done and the middle is about half done. The oval motifs will all be filled it with intertwining designs in the medium and lighter pinks, and the diamond in the middle will have a fancy speciality stitch in the center. There are some other details at the edges of the smaller motifs still to be filled in, too.

After I get Serendipity done I need to think about frames. But before I order frames I have to decide whether I will be able to get any other pieces stitched in time for the fair. We order most of our frames from Franken Frames; their prices are reasonable but they have a minimum shipping charge so it makes sense for me to order everything I need at one time.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Seven Years Ago

I did not sleep well last night...too much tea and probably too much guacamole and salsa, too. Amazingly I don't feel too bad today; maybe it will catch up with me later.

Seven years ago I did not sleep well on the night of July 30th, either. Not because of tea and Mexican food, though! Instead, I was in a hospital bed, hooked up to monitors, with a nurse hovering around me trying to keep the Doppler monitor in place. A certain little boy was determined to wiggle around in the limited space available to him, so we had to keep shifting the device around to hear his heartbeat.

The nurse and I spent the night talking about various things that, in retrospect, seem rather odd. We discussed whether it was harder to drive in Boston or Chicago. Since she'd never driven in Chicago and I'd never been to Boston it was not a terribly productive discussion. :)

We also spent a lot of time telling the wiggly young man that he needed to turn around to be ready to be born the next morning. He listened to us, but was apparently confused about the directions because instead of turning all the way around from being head-up to head-down he decided to turn till he was sideways and stay in that position. Since he needed to be born quickly his position meant he would have to be delivered via C-section. The intensive monitoring was to try to determine how he would do once he was born, because he was not supposed to be born for another 7 weeks.

(I'll skip the long, boring explanation about my struggles to get and stay pregnant and why both my children were born at 33 weeks. Cliffs Notes version: probably caused by an autoimmunity problem, possibly related to the chronic pain condition I have, potentially treatable if God were to give us another baby at our advanced ages.)

So, on the morning of July 31st on 2001, Colin Thomas Roth was born. He weighed just under 4 pounds and he was very mad. :) When I finally got to hold him he felt like a little feather; in fact I wasn't sure if I was even feeling him or just the big wad of blankets he was wrapped in.

Seven years later he is not a little feather any more! Today he is a big moose and if he keeps getting taller and outgrowing shoes at the rate he is now, I predict he will be at least as big as his daddy and his uncles. Possibly bigger. :) Natalie just measured him and he is 4' 2".

So far today Colin has received a phone call from his friend, Mrs. B, and a visit from his friend, Mrs. S. He is very popular with the older ladies! Mrs. S. brought him a remote-control truck with race cars to go in it. This has been a wonderful diversion to keep him from going stark raving mad waiting till we celebrate his birthday tonight. It is so hard to wait for birthday parties when you are seven!

Colin requested grilled hamburgers and grilled sweet corn for his birthday dinner tonight. I just looked at the weather forecast and it looks like Tom might be grilling in the rain this evening. We'll also have birthday cake and ice cream, of course. Natalie is making and decorating the cake. It is in the oven right now and the house is starting to smell like chocolate...yum...

Here is a picture of the birthday boy this morning, with his usual cheesy smile. Happy 7th Birthday, Colin!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Is It Wednesday Already? Yikes!

Okay, while I'm waiting for our lunch to cook** here's a quick rambling update on life around these parts.

As some of you mentioned in the comments and in person, those weekend plans didn't sound particularly relaxing. I think it was relaxing for us because the weekend didn't involve outside commitments or much activity that was not of our own choosing.

Also, relaxing and restful are not the same concept in my mind. I can be relaxed and enjoying myself and then get up the next day and be totally exhausted. Which is how I felt Monday morning! Part of that has to do with the amount of social interaction I had on Sunday.

I hope nobody I know in person will take this personally; it is certainly not meant that way! I enjoy being with people, I like being with my friends, I particularly like hanging out with my family and/or my church family. But, as enjoyable as that is, it is utterly exhausting to me.

Reportedly there are people out there who get invigorated and energized being around other people. People who when they are by themselves get depressed and lack energy, and need to get out and see other people to feel good. I think these are the people who can be good sabbatarians and feel like they "rested" on Sunday. I put "rested" in quotes, because whatever else Sunday may be to me...the Lord's Day, a day of worship, a day of learning, a day of fellowship, a very precious day...it is not restful for me.

So, anyway, relaxing weekend followed by a tired Monday. But we accomplished a lot! Tom got the first vent installed. This is the one he could reach with my dad's ladder; the rest of them will wait till he can borrow a friend's longer ladder. But this one was a good trial run for him; it turns out the plans he made for installing the vents are going to work out pretty well. He got up early and was done with the vent by mid-morning so he avoided the worst heat of the day, too.

I got bread made (4 loaves), Natalie did the Aldi shopping for me, and we hit Costco on Sunday for a trunk full of groceries there. Now the freezer is back to being almost full, and the pantries likewise.

Plus I did get some stitching time...quite a bit, actually. A total of four hours on Saturday, broken into pieces, and two hours on Sunday afternoon. When my photographer gets a spare minute I will be able to post an update picture of Serendipity Sampler. It is not done yet, but getting there. If this week wasn't shaping up to be busy I would say I could finish it by next Saturday, but probably not at this rate.

Well, Natalie is pulling the lunch out of the oven, so time to go eat and catch up on online comics together. Tomorrow...time permitting...what I was doing 7 years ago. :)

**Oven Cheese Toast: spread butter very lightly on both sides of several pieces of bread. Lay bread slices on non-stick baking sheet. Place cheese slices of your choice on top of bread. Bung the whole shebang into the oven at 350 degrees until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Cut into strips, enjoy, and tell the complainer that once he is old enough to make his own lunch he can make whatever he wants. Remember that his favorite foods include steak and shrimp and reconsider your hasty words...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday and Weekend Doings

It feels like it has been a long, busy week! But today is Friday and I think we have a relaxing weekend planned for a change.

Tonight we're going to have French Bread Pizzas for supper, and we'll probably eat in the living room and watch a Jeeves and Wooster episode whilst eating. It's been ages since I've made French Bread Pizza, but we had some loaves of Natalie's homemade Cuban bread in the freezer from when we last had Cuban Sandwiches. So I decided to cheat, save time, and use the bread instead of messing with making a crust. And I guess I should be calling them "Cuban Bread Pizzas"....hmmm.

Tomorrow Tom is getting up on the roof and in the attic to work on a project he's been planning for a while. Our house has a ridge vent system in the roof, but it doesn't seem to remove enough hot air from the attic in the summer. With some of the very hot temps we've had this summer it has been hard to keep the house cooled down without running the A/C non-stop.

Tom monitored the attic temps and found it was getting as much as 30 degrees hotter up there than it was outside. So he's going to install some gable end vents up there to help move the hot air out a little better. This involves popping a few pieces of siding off, cutting some holes, installing vents and doing some sealing. And, of course, it also means climbing around on the roof. What is it about men and climbing on roofs? Oh well, it's better to be married to a brave man who climbs on roofs than one who would never consider doing something that dangerous!

Colin will probably be involved helping Tom. I'm not sure he's got his mountain goat skills yet, so he probably will not be up on the roof. Maybe he can go up and down the ladder to fetch things.

Natalie and I need to get some food in this house! We worked to use up stuff in the big freezer so we could defrost it, but that's done now so it needs to be refilled. A trip to Costco Sunday after church will help, but we'll probably also hit Aldi and Lowes for a few things tomorrow. We need to bake some bread tomorrow, too.

Hmmm...our relaxing weekend is starting to sound a bit busy! I think we'll have time in there to kick back and just enjoy being home. I want to get some serious needlework time in either tomorrow or Sunday afternoon. I've been trying to get Serendipity Sampler finished in time for the fair. Since that picture, I have finished three more segments and have a fourth almost completed. That will leave just the middle section to complete; unfortunately it is BIG. I would like to get all the outside part done this weekend and some sort of start on the middle.

I did get the Rose in Morning piece done some time ago, but I still need to figure out how I want to finish it. We have plenty of wall space left for framed pictures, but frames can get pricey. If I make it into a pillow, though, I need to find a pillow form the right size and a nice coordinating backing fabric. So, decisions and purchases to be made either way...

Well, Tom is home and he and Colin are bustling around gathering up their supplies for tomorrow's project. They've tried out the new siding removal tool and are impressed with how it works, and they've located the right size template for cutting the hole. Time for me to heat up the oven and pop in the pizzas so we can have some supper!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Temptation to be Mrs. Bennet

I don't know if I would have made this connection without reading this article by Nancy Wilson several years ago. Here's a little taste, but you really should go read the whole thing.

••But you may ask, "What's wrong with trying to find a nice Christian young man for my daughter?" It sounds like such a holy pursuit! First of all, why do so many mothers think it is their job to find a suitable husband for their daughters? Has your husband delegated this responsibility to you? "Honey, Susie is pushing twenty-two, so I'd like you to find a husband for her. Start going through the church directory and we'll have the young men over to dinner in groups of three." I don't think so.••

When I first read this, two or three or more years ago, I found it very amusing. Anybody who has read Pride and Prejudice or seen one of the film adaptations can probably picture a modern day Mrs. Bennet...gotta get these daughters married off, gotta find suitable husbands, oh my nerves, oh that husband who won't help, oh the regiment is in town!

When I found it amusing, though, my daughter was in her early teens. Now she's 18, going to be 19 soon, and what she wants to do with her life is be a wife and mother. So, even though I know better, I sometimes find myself thinking like Mrs. Bennet. Obviously we want her to have a godly husband most of all. But we go to a teeny tiny church and if I were to start inviting the young men over to dinner in groups of three we would run out of young men ridiculously quickly.

So, late at night, my crazy mind starts scheming, thinking of scenarios. Hey, we were in a good church back in Illinois when she was born. And she was born during the massive 1980s baby boom at that particular church. Lots of our friends had babies around the same time. And, believe it or not, some of those babies were boys. Hmm...our godly friends from College and Career Youth Group days might have eligible boys wanting wives. "Hey, honey, wake up...ROAD TRIP!! What...what do you mean you 'have a high respect for my nerves'? Ah, you do not know what I suffer!"

I can think of a bunch of really good reasons why it is SO stupid for me to be like Mrs. Bennet. Three will suffice:

1. God is sovereign. This is really the only reason I should need, but I am a weak bumbling human. God knows if Natalie will marry, and He will see to it that she meets the man without my crazy schemes.

2. Natalie isn't exactly desperate. She's 18, for goodness' sake! After all, I was not nearly as pretty and accomplished (and all those other Austen virtues!) as she is...and even I got married before I was too terribly old. Without having to go running after the regiment, even. :) There's plenty of time for her to meet someone before she's anywhere near to being an old maid.

3. I don't really want her to leave home anytime soon. She's my helper and my friend, and when she's not here I miss her a lot. It's going to be hard enough to have her gone two days a week for her new job...I don't want to think about what it will be like when she might be hundreds or thousands of miles away.

So, as you can see, this is one of those posts that I'm writing to make myself face the truth. Mrs. Bennet was an idiot and I don't want to be like her. So I need to keep reminding myself to trust in God for the future in all things...including my children's future spouses.

Spouses. Spouse(s).

I wonder what Mrs. Bennet's thoughts and strategies would have been if she had an unsocialized homeschooled son to marry off? :) Perhaps I should be thinking ahead...Colin's going to be 7 soon, after all.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Eureka!

Abomination! "Angel food cake is the abomination of the cake world!"

That only took three cups of tea, and the last one was watered down.

In other news, the Brown Sugar Pound Cake I made on Saturday turned out to taste very good, but not have the proper pound cake texture. According to the premium catalog for the county fair, the texture of my pound cake would be described as "soggy or sad". Sad pound cake. Pobre pound cake...no es triste?

I was telling a friend last night that Yankees do make pound cake, and that we like it heavier and moister than Southern pound cake. Upon further reflection (see above re: cups of tea) I realized that what I'm thinking of is Bundt Cake. Yankees make Bundt Cake, and Bundt Cake is moist and heavier and made in a fluted pan.

There isn't a Bundt Cake category at the fair, so I will not cast my pearls before swine. I will also not continue to labor under the deluded notion that I am capable of making pound cake. :)

PS. The mind-melding in this household could be frightening to an outsider. I finished folding a load of laundry, walked into my bathroom, and suddenly shouted "Abomination!" Instead of coming running to see if I was sick or merely addled, Natalie just hollered back "Oh yes, that's it exactly!"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Blight? A Scourge? A...a...where did my vocabulary go?

The cake pan is on the upper shelf of the lower cabinet, right where I can't see it when I look down. Tom offers to get it out for me. I tell him to get the "big cake pan", he grabs a 9 inch layer cake pan. No, the really big pan, the pound cake pan.

In his home, growing up, that pan was called the Angel Food Cake Pan.

Let us just pause a moment and weep for the tragedy that was my husband's childhood.

And then let us get back to trying to remember what THAT WORD is that means "blight" or "scourge" or something like that, but it seems like it should end in "-tion" or "-sion" for some reason. As in "Angel Food Cake is the long impressive missing word that means scourge of the cake world."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Girls' Night Out

Last night was Wednesday, and this Wednesday happened to be Men's Meeting night. Our church has regular all-church Bible study and prayer meeting (should "prayer meeting" be capitalized?) on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, and men's meeting (ditto on the capitalizing?) on the second and fourth Wednesdays. When there is a fifth Wednesday in the month we have regular prayer meeting. So we can have two regular prayer meetings in a row, but never two men's meetings. I think. My strategy is to listen closely to the announcements on Sunday morning to know where we're supposed to be on any given Wednesday night.

Anyway, last night was men's meeting, and last night it was held at our house. So, men's meeting at our house...where do the women go? My original plan was to grab my craft bag and a mug of water and hang out in Natalie's room with her. She's got a computer, a phone, a cell phone, the Internets, and a bed that can be sort of comfortable enough to sit on if you pile enough pillows behind your back.

But, in the end, we decided to get out of Dodge. First we thought we'd just go to Barnes and Noble, but I also wanted to go to Michaels, and then as we were getting ready to eat supper (leftovers!) we suddenly had the inspiration to go get something to eat first. I mean, we needed to get the car out of the driveway in plenty of time before the guys got there, right? :)

So, our first stop was Panera for paninis and people-watching. We saw Ms. No Visible Panty Lines and her date/work associate/friend/brother (he let her pay for her own food so we couldn't draw any conclusions from that). You know the fashion gurus make a big deal about being sure to have no visible panty lines under smooth clothing...but. (resisting pun, resisting pun) I won't describe her in detail, but let's just say that Ms. NVPL illustrated graphically for us all that sometimes it might be best to have those tell-tale lines rather than to leave your audience wondering if you decided to forgo the undies altogether.

Then there was Ms. He's Mine You Can't Have Him. She was accompanied by her date/boyfriend/fiance/husband and she apparently thought he was in danger of getting away. She had both of her arms twined around him at almost all times. Her strategy seemed to be to keep him in some sort of straight jacket of arm loops. He did not appear to be actively fighting this strategy, but neither did he seem terribly appreciative of it. As they stepped up to the counter to place their order, he had to shift a little to get an arm free to get out his wallet. Since his arm remained out of the grasp of Ms. HMYCHH, she took to holding onto his other arm while leaning heavily on him. When the girl behind the counter turned and smiled at him in a bland, non-threatening, polite customer service manner, Ms. HMYCHH took immediate measures to recapture his other arm and reinsert him in the straight jacket.

After Panera, we headed over to Michaels. I browsed the yarn department and tried, unsuccessfully, to come up with a way to make a nice afghan out of good yarn without paying much for it. Natalie, meanwhile, found a pair of shoes to buy.

Fueled by the excitement of unexpected shoe purchasing, Natalie then asked if we could go over to Shoe Carnival. Shoe Carnival plays annoying music very loudly. They also have a contract with a company that keeps them constantly supplied with whining, crying children. They have seats that look comfortable, but aren't nearly as comfortable as they look. Natalie tried on piles and piles of shoes, including one pair that made her yelp "ouch" the second she got them on her feet. After all that she ended up buying three pairs of shoes, so I guess we can call it a successful trip.

After that we headed to Barnes and Noble to look for gardening books. We looked through several and decided that the information we get off the Internet would be just as helpful as what was available in print. We also sat and flipped through lots of magazines, and drank Starbucks beverages. Natalie had a Frappucino and I had a drink called something like Creme of Double Chocolate Chips. It was like a chocolate milk smoothie. Very refreshing, but not as creamy as I thought it should be. When I got home and looked up the ingredients on the Starbucks site and found out it was 510 calories, I decided that in the future I would prefer a real chocolate milkshake instead. Starbucks doesn't sell those, though.

Finally we dragged our exhausted selves back home to find that the guys had had a great time with the men's meeting group. Colin had even swept the kitchen floor before we got home...which was probably just as well since the men and boys had enjoyed lots of cookies and popcorn in our absence.

I think Natalie is blogging this morning, so head over there and read a much less rambly version of our night out. Plus she'll probably have shoe pictures. :) And maybe she'll explain how she shut down The Flirting Guy at B&N with her patented Homeschooled Anti-Flirting Glare of Death. :)