Saturday, February 28, 2009

Busy Day

Busy day today.

Milked the cow. Twice.

Fed all the livestock. Twice.

Fed the kids. Twice. (Okay, three times.)

Made English muffins. Double batch.

Made cheese. Mozzarella.

Made butter. Two pounds.

Played Spoons and Monopoly with progeny.

*Yawn* Off to bed.

Sometimes I forget I have a blog to keep up on....


Sunday, February 22, 2009


Sometimes we all need a kick in the pants during our daily hassles....

A friend just sent me this prayer:

Heavenly Father, help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can't make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day ("who really ought to get a job") is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.

Heavenly Father, remind us each day That of all the gifts you give us Lord, the greatest gift is love. It is not enough to share that love with those we hold dear. Open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity.

Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.

Working for God on earth doesn't pay much......but His retirement plan is out of this world.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Australian Bushfires

I've been in touch with the editor of an Australian homeschooling magazine who will be printing some of my articles. We were emailing back and forth when suddenly an ominous silence descended on our communications - about the time the Australian bushfires were raging.

Concerned, I sent the following email: "You guys okay over there with all the bushfires? I haven't heard from you since sending the revised articles and photos on 2/10. I'm getting paranoid because we've been following the fires with great agitation. Are you safe?"

To my great distress, I got the following email back:

"Yes - I am safe. It has been an incredibly emotion filled week - we are all in shock. It is our neighborhood that has been destroyed. We have been frantically trying to make sure all our home-ed families are safe and to date they are. Two lost their homes and one is the only home left standing along her country road. As you can imagine, hugs abound and tears are never far away. The appalling loss of life is just starting to infiltrate into our daily lives. My friend went down to the pet store yesterday only to find it closed with a sign on the door that the owners and their family had perished in the fire. She ended up sobbing on the pavement.

It will be a long time before people can get back on their feet after this but I have no doubt they will. There is an overwhelming outpouring of support for those affected and we will just keep on holding their hands until they can stand for themselves."

Words can't even begin to describe the anger I feel at the scum who started these fires.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Weak in the Knees

I've never particularly liked the song "Amazing Grace," probably because it's been overly done by every amateur singer with squeaky voices and out-of-key high notes. (Kind of the way *I* sing, now that you mention it.)

But a friend just sent me a link to a group called Il Divo that sings, as far as I'm concerned, the be-all and end-all perfect version of Amazing Grace. It is staggering. Beautiful. Holy. If this doesn't send your soul soaring, then you have ice in your veins.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Horror near Buffalo

A commuter jet just went down in a small town near Buffalo called Clarence Center. My childhood home was Clarence Center. I'm not kidding - this is my old hometown. I know the streets they're talking about. Our house, like all of Clarence Center, was in the flight path of jets landing at Buffalo. I used to look up and watch the underside of the jets as they skimmed low over the town, coming in for a landing.

This plane crashed less than half a mile from my old house.

My prayers are with the families of the dead.

Morning Chores

Ah, the simple life. Here's me in my grungy barn clothes doin' the morning milking on Matilda.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Keep the Change!

Just some Purty Pix

Here's what our outdoor grill looked like after we got 19 inches of snow in one 24-hour period.

Sunset over the snow. This was taken last December during our snow whomp.

Our Great Pyranees / Irish Wolfhound dog Gypsy in front of the Christmas tree.

What I Did Last Night

Someone gave me 1 1/2 flats of mushrooms.

Fourteen pints, canned. Saute these babies in butter, garlic, and just a touch of lemon juice...yummm.

Why I Sometimes Get Behind on my Emails....

Our cat, Hopi. King of the keyboard.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Apparently Your Screams Were Heard

Thank God for the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, that's all I can say. They went to bat for thousands of their members who have home businesses making or selling children's products and managed to make some significant headway. To wit:

Commission Announces Major Changes to Child Product Safety Rules
February 9, 2009

HSLDA met on Wednesday with Commissioner Thomas Moore, of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, to discuss the law imposing strict limitations on lead and phthalates in children’s products. The proposed regulations had persuaded many small family businesses to shut their doors and cease production. We are pleased to report that CPSC announced numerous changes to their regulations. Home School Legal Defense Association is satisfied with the meeting and its aftermath and remains strongly convinced that no small business should close down because of the lead requirements, which take effect February 10.
Changes made by the Commission

Last Friday, the CPSC declared numerous changes in their regulations, including the following exemptions that correspond with requests made by HSLDA in our meeting with Commissioner Moore:

* An exemption for certain natural materials such as wood, cotton, wool, and certain metals and alloys that rarely contain lead;
* An exemption for ordinary children's books printed after 1985;*
* An exemption for textiles, dyed or undyed (not including leather, vinyl, or PVC) and non-metallic thread and trim used in children's apparel and other fabric products, such as baby blankets.

* HSLDA asked for an exemption for all books. Commissioner Moore argues, however, that the ink in books prior to the 1980s did contain lead.1

Prosecution under the law, the CPSC announced, will ensue only if “someone had actual knowledge that one of these children’s products contained more than 600 ppm lead or continued to make, import, distribute or sell such a product after being put on notice.”2 In fact, according to Commissioner Moore, manufacturers will not be prosecuted for violating the law during the one-year postponement of testing requirements (lasting till February 10, 2010), unless their products actually cause an injury or have the potential to hurt someone.3 Moore further assured HSLDA that small businesses, in particular, will have nothing to worry about. “Historically, we haven’t gone after these kinds of businesses,” he told HSLDA, “not cottage industries.”

HSLDA hopes that these policies, along with the Commission’s yearlong postponement of testing requirements, will provide significant relief to family businesses and providers to the homeschool community.

“If there is one message a small manufacturer should take from the Commission’s action [of delaying testing requirements] it is this,” Commissioner Moore said: “If you have been making products without receiving any safety-related complaints, you should go on selling your products.” This will remain true for at least until February 10, 2010. Even beyond this date, HSLDA is confident of the future of small businesses under this law, and is grateful to the Commission for its cooperation and its sensitivity to the needs of family businesses.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Nature: Good, Bad, and Ugly

My girls and I drove to town yesterday. Half-way down our two-mile dirt road we stopped because we saw a dark shape move off the road into the woods. Turns out to be a yearling moose, probably female although at that age males probably don't have antler stubs. She was quite unafraid of us as we sat in the truck and looked at her from about twenty feet away. Huge, mule-like ears, comical face, altogether darling.

A neighbor said the yearling has been hanging around for the last couple of weeks. Moose calves don't leave their mother for about two years, so this one's mama probably got hit by the train that skirts our peninsula two or three times a day.

I'm fond of moose, and I hope this little girl makes it. Nature can be so damned cruel at times.

I've started bringing my camera with me when we go to town, and will try to snap a pic of her.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Blame the Innocent

In response to the proposal to register and annually test Idaho homeschoolers, a friend sent the following email to Rep. Boe of Idaho:

I am a small town family doctor, and I would like to know what empirical evidence the legislature has that current home school students in any given Idaho county are, on the average, less well educated, less civically engaged, or are falling behind their public school peers in any measurable denominator of achievement or well being. If they fare as well, then leave the system alone; it isn't broke and it needs no fixing. If homeschoolers are doing better overall, then focus on your attention changing the problematic public schools, not on harassing an alternative that is working better. If you don't have the data to answer the question, then look elsewhere for a new way to expand state power and leave us and our kids alone.

He also sent this to our local state representative, Mary Lou Shephard, and received the following reply:

Thank you for your message. I have been told by the bill's sponsor that it is not a bill yet, and may not become one. However I believe I know some of the factors that cause this to be discussed. I have district two of which you are aware. There are places throughout this district where parents say they are homeschooling, and indeed are letting the children just run wild, or use as a baby sitter. They are just not interested in education at all. Most homeschoolers do a magnificent job, however. You may wish to write Rep. Donna Boes with your concerns as she is the one who will introduce this if it is done at all. Thank you, and the best of luck. --Rep. Mary Lou Shepherd

Okay, so here's the deal: Idaho has thousands of homeschoolers (I'm trying to get the exact number). You get a few bad eggs, may twenty or thirty families in the entire state. So you will punish the thousands of excellent homeschoolers because of the few rotten ones.

Good going. I'd like to try that logic in the public schools, where you have a fifty percent failure rate in some places.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If It Ain't Broke....

Ug. If it isn't one thing, it's another. I received the following alert from the Homeschool Legal Defense Association this morning:

>From the HSLDA E-lert Service...

February 4, 2009

Idaho--Legislator Contemplates Homeschool Restrictions

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

We have been receiving calls from Idaho members who have been
contacted by Representative Donna Boe. Rep. Boe told these members
that she is planning to introduce a bill in the Idaho Legislature to
require homeschools to be registered and be annually tested.

She told these members that according to the Idaho Constitution, it is
the state's responsibility to educate the children. She indicated that
she wants to know what homeschoolers think about this proposal.

To help her, homeschoolers may want to email her through the Idaho
legislature website at or call
her at (208) 332 1038 and let her know whether you would support this
proposed bill. You may want to briefly share with her the benefits of
your homeschooling and your thankfulness for the current freedom you
have to teach your children in Idaho.

Thank you,

Chris Klicka
HSLDA Senior Counsel

In response, I sent Rep. Boe the following email. Hopefully she actually *reads* these things:

Dear Representative Boe:

In reference to your proposal to register and test Idaho homeschooled students, I must vehemently protest against this.

We left Oregon and settled in Idaho six years ago after investigating Washington, Idaho, and Montana for a possible new home. We chose Idaho because of its homeschooling freedoms. The freedom permitted by the State of Idaho allows us to tailor our curriculum to our childrens' needs and abilities. This is a very valuable freedom indeed, and our children are thriving as a result.

I am acquainted with dozens of homescooling families in the area, and ALL are producing children of superior education. They do not need "testing" to prove it.

Contrary to popular thought, it is NOT the state's responsibility to educate our children. It is the parents' responsibility. Homeschooling families have taken that responsibility with the utmost seriousness. We do not need our freedom to educate our children curtailed and forced to conform with the requirements set by public schools.

I ask you to leave our current freedoms intact. DON'T FIX WHAT ISN'T BROKEN.

Thank you,
Patrice Lewis

HR 4040 - Proof that it's Stupid

Some of you may remember my rant on HR 4040, the Consumer Product Safety "Improvement" Act, which would impose such absurd testing requirements on all children's products that hundreds of thousands of businesses would be forced to close.

In belated recognition that the whole idea is STUPID, the gommit exempted thrift and consignment stores. Now it looks like they're giving a year's reprieve for manufacturers and importers of children's products. While this does NOT mean businesses are off the hook, at least it gives a year's breathing room to figure out how to overthrow this STUPID law.

Don't let up the pressure, folks. Follow the suggestions at the end of my column and rattle a few cages.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Green Scenery

By the way, for anyone wondering, the photograph at the top of my blog page is a picture I shot from behind our barn last fall. That was before we got whomped with snow in December - SIX FEET of snow in TWENTY DAYS. Sure wish that global warming would kick in sometime soon.

I'm working on this weekend's column. The subject will be whether the Green movement can sustain (there's that magic word!) itself during an economic downturn. I feel perfectly qualified to criticize the Green movement because we live pretty darned green by anyone's definition (come see our list).

Monday, February 2, 2009

Neat Quote

Here's a quote someone had tagged onto their signature line of their email. I thought it was kinda spiffy.

"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic."

Hee hee. So true.

Flyover Country Lives!

My goodness, did I ever get whomped with replies from my Flyover Country column last weekend! Of course it's my own durn fault. I asked for emails, and boy howdy did I get them.

And it gave me heart. I can't tell you how much I loved reading everyone's emails! I received nearly 200 so it's impossible to answer each one individually, but let me tell you...what a blessing it was to hear from such wonderful Flyover folks.

So here's the deal. Let me explain about the book project, and why I asked for reader input.

The working title (“working title” means it will very likely be changed if a publisher accepts it) is “Rural Revolution: An In-Your-Face Manifesto from Flyover Country.” I’ve read some marvelous in-your-face books by conservative authors (Ann Coulter is my favorite) but I don’t think I’ve *ever* read anything by someone whose perspective is distinctly rural. While many of you are urban dwellers, please understand that my viewpoint of necessity is from the boondocks.

What I plan to do is write about a variety of hot-button topics such as feminism, firearms, education, family values, elitism, green living, government spending, wealth distribution, children, personal responsibility, etc…- in short, many of the issues I address in my weekly WND columns.

And unlike the strict 1000-word limit in my columns, a book allows me to explore (or “rant,” as I often call it) more fully on an issue. My husband has some sections he’d like to write as well, so this will be a collaborative project between us.

What I’m seeking from readers is their perspective on various issues. But NOT YET. Please, NOT YET!!! Let me write the book first! (smile) What I would like to do is keep everyone’s email address in an address book, and when I’m ready to get input on a particular topic – let’s say, feminism – then I’ll put out a call and say “Let ’er rip!” That’s your cue to write something, about 400 words or less, about the issue from *your* Flyover Country perspective. If you don’t feel qualified or fiery enough about the issue to write something, no worries. Just wait until I put out a call on the next topic, which might be more your thing. Believe me, there will be plenty of topics.

It goes without saying that no matter how excellent someone’s testimonial is, I can’t use every single submission I receive. I should also say right now that I’ll reserve the right to edit submissions for clarity, grammar/syntax, and other boring stuff.

Anyway, back to the format of the book. For each chapter – say, the Green Movement – I’ll rant away to my heart’s content. But a publisher will undoubtedly assume that because I’m a rural north Idaho housewife – in other words, because I’m one of the “booboisie” – then the whole durn book is just a collection of my pathetic opinions. However, if I bolster my pathetic opinions by dozens and dozens of supporting opinions, then it’s harder to dismiss me as just one of those rural lunatics.

Oh, one other thing - I can’t promise anybody anything, even if your contribution appears in the finished manuscript. I can’t promise any payment, I can’t even promise a free copy of the book. Publishers often give the author very few copies of their own book (maybe ten or twenty at most), so if I have, say, fifty contributors, that would bankrupt me if I had to purchase books to send to everyone who sent something in.

So…if this sounds interesting, do nothing more for the moment. I’ll be in touch. If this sounds like something you’d rather not participate in, just drop me an email and ask me to remove you from the list.