Sunday, January 31, 2010

Random pix

A pretty winter day. I emphasize winter. As in January. Mildest winter imaginable. No snow! This is in stark contrast to last year, when we were buried.

Awwww. Doggie hair bows made by a neighbor.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Technology for Country Folks

Why we old-timey country folks have trouble with modern technology...


This is a nice supplement for the "Government Flow Chart."

A reader sent this. He said the photo was taken near a service station in Hickory, NC.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Government Flow Chart

A friend sent this.

A work ethic and the Bible

In reference to my earlier post on "The Ant and the Grassopper," I'd like to offer a modest selection of suitable Bible references which support a high work ethic.

Proverbs 6:6-11
Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!

It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,

yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?

A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest-

and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man.

Proverbs 19:15
Laziness brings on deep sleep,
and the shiftless man goes hungry.

Proverbs 24:30-34
I went past the field of the sluggard,
past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment;

thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.

I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:

A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest-

and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man.

Proverbs 28:19
He who works his land will have abundant food,
but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.

Ecclesiastes 10:18
If a man is lazy, the rafters sag;
if his hands are idle, the house leaks.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-11
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."

We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies.

What a Christmas present!

I meant to post this much earlier; in fact, right after Christmas. So here’s a real neat belated Christmas story.

My friend Linda and her family have a fun tradition on Christmas Eve. They drive around and look at houses with fancy Christmas lights, then they all go out for pie at some greasy spoon. Here’s the fun part: while their tab for the pie might be around $10 or so, they leave an enormous tip for the waitress, maybe $50. They leave before the tip is “discovered” as a nice anonymous gift to a different waitress every year.

So right after Christmas, I emailed my friend and asked her how her annual mega-tip pie excursion went, and this was her reply (posted with permission):

We actually broke tradition and didn't go out for pie this year. We were all tired and didn't want to go back to town. However, the reason for being worn out was a really, really special.

We adopted a family that was in desperate need of basically everything. I heard about them when I was doing some other charity work and presented the idea of giving this family a Christmas instead of us. We are blessed and have everything we could possibly need, so why not take the money we'd spend on gifts for one another and give this family a Christmas to remember?

So I went SHOPPING. And I mean SHOPPING. I needed THREE carts! I bought everything a young family with children might need for Christmas breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And then I decided that wasn't enough... I bought them enough food for another week (hamburger, chicken, etc., etc.). Then I bought non-perishables by the cart-load. I got soups and pastas and rice and nutritious cereals and canned beans and canned fruits and canned veggies.

I was on a roll and having the time of my life! I'm serious! I don't think I've ever felt this great! I felt like dancing while pushing the cart! LOL

Then came the fun part..... I'd gotten the sizes of clothing and shoes for the little girls and I went shopping for them! Oh, that was FUN! I got coats and shoes and dresses and tights and pants and undies and bows for their hair.... (these little girls were showing up at Early Intervention with no socks, shoes, or coats when it was 18 degrees outside three weeks ago!) Then I bought them toys that were developmentally appropriate plus a couple of dolls and some stuffed animals. I also got shape sorter tub toys because I remember how much Emily loved those at age three (one girl is three and the other is nearly six, but both are developmentally delayed – the three-year-old still doesn't have speech and just started walking). For the mother I got her a really warm, cozy robe and slippers, new bedding, and a $50 gift card to Wal-Mart. (There is no dad in the picture.)

Then we showed up on their doorstep and delivered all of the wonderful stuff! Emily and I wrapped the toys and clothing for the kids. I didn't wrap the coats and shoes because I wanted them to have those right away. I tried to get Jim to wear a Santa costume but he drew the line at that. LOL

The mother looked stunned. Just…shellshocked. She couldn't even speak. We just kept carrying in boxes and bags after boxes and bags of food and more food and gifts, wrapped and unwrapped. Jim, Emily and I each made at least four trips each. I kept saying to the mom, “This is perishable so you need to put it in the fridge right away” (there was milk, juice, meat, fruit, eggs, etc., etc.) and she just sat and stared so I put it all in the fridge. Talk about a bare fridge prior to me opening it – and when we walked out it was no longer bare!

If she manages the food well there's enough meat for probably ten days and enough non-perishables (such as beans and rice, etc.) for another month at least.

I found this family via a circuitous route. I was volunteering with the 4H group and needed to find a family for our group to sponsor. I was also donating some stuff for Coalition for Kids. I had the idea to ask at the Coalition for a family for our 4H group to sponsor. They had two families that were in very dire straits. They gave me the background on both and I was supposed to choose. Hmmm. How on earth to choose one over the other? I picked the one that seemed the most desperate, at least on paper. After hanging up the phone with the coordinator I just stood there and felt terrible that I knowingly left another family behind. I immediately called Jim but couldn't reach him to get his okay for my plan, but that didn't slow me down because I know his heart. I called the coordinator back and told her that OUR family would sponsor the other family in need. I thought she was going to cry!

We all had SO much fun with this. We have always given a lot to the local food band and Meals on Wheels, etc. I write a lot of checks all year long but especially this time of year.... but this felt SO much better. Maybe because it's personal? That's probably it.

So, there's the whole story. It was truly a life-changing experience. It's one thing to write a check and help from a distance. It feels entirely different to see the people you're helping. Both are wonderful and I'll continue writing checks whenever I can give, but the hands-on is just so... MOVING.

So now you know why we were tired. Well, *I* was tired, LOL. Plus I needed to work on pies and rolls because we were having company on Christmas so it all came together to keep us home. Someone didn't get their gigantic tip, but a family got a whole lot more! Yep, we're planning to do it again next year!

Is it any wonder I’m blessed to call this woman a friend?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"God made me blind and unable to walk. Big deal."

Whenever you're inclined to gripe about your life, consider this beautiful story of some everyday heroes who walk this earth.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Fetal hand

This photo has been circulating for over ten years. As a result, many urban legends have sprung up surrounding it, most originating from the pro-life crowd. And with good reason. It's one of the most remarkable pictures ever taken.

For those unfamiliar with this picture, it shows a groundbreaking medical procedure to correct a spina bifida condition in utero. The doctor removed the uterus from the mother, operated on the fetus, and re-inserted the uterus back in the mother. The surgery was successful.

In the midst of the surgery, the baby's hand reflexively grasped the doctor's finger.

Whatever your views of abortion, I think you'll agree the hand grasping the doctor's finger is NOT a blob of protoplasm, as the pro-abortion proponents would have us believe. Blobs of protoplasm don't grasp fingers. It is a living human being in there, not yet ready to face life. It's easy to see why the pro-lifers adopted this picture to rally for their cause.

Here's some additional information on the surprising controversy surrounding the photo.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Raising thugs

Something’s been bugging me lately, and I figure it’s cathartic to write it down. This is a long post, so grab a cup of tea or a glass of wine and make yourself comfortable.

When we lived in Oregon, we spent years attending a homeschool playgroup run by a woman (I’ll call her Janet) with two young sons. All the families involved with this group had young children ranging from six years old downward. We got together once a week.

Janet, who ran the playgroup, had studied child psychology in college, had once run a daycare, and wrote a weekly newspaper column on parenting. By all accounts she was an expert on raising kids. Right?

During the times we associated with this family, I had my private concerns about the way Janet’s boys were being raised. The mother was dominant, the father completely emasculated and relegated to the background. (In fact for the first several months of our acquaintance I thought Janet was divorced because no mention of the father was ever made. I found out later this was a common misconception because no one had ever heard about her husband, much less seen him.) Janet would literally forbid the father from disciplining “her” boys. He provided money, she provided the raising and education for the children.

But my concern stemmed from the utter and complete lack of discipline in these boys’ lives. An early example of this occurred one day at our playgroup when the youngest boy (who was four at the time) wanted to nurse (Janet believed in unlimited breastfeeding until the children chose to wean themselves). A bunch of us mothers were sitting around chatting while our children played when the four-year-old came up to Janet and plunged a hand down her shirt, squeezing her breast. “Nurse,” he demanded.

“Not now, dear,” Janet replied, trying to extract his hand. “I’m talking.”

“NURSE!” the boy shouted, and he wrenched her breast so hard she screamed.

“Okay, okay!” Janet settled her son on her lap and let him breastfeed.

We mothers sat around in horrified silence. Not horrified that she was breastfeeding – we had all breastfed our kids – but because Janet had actually given in to her son’s blatant and abusive demands. She let him have his way despite the violence of his approach.

It was a portent of things to come.

After a few years, people started drifting away from the group. Their children had been subject to just a little too much bullying by Janet’s boys. None of us wanted to offend her or criticize her parenting skills (though we privately loathed them) so, rather than confront her, one by one we stopped coming. My “excuse” to stop attending the playgroup was to move to Idaho.

Janet believed in involving her boys in as many extracurricular activities as possible including acting lessons, art lessons, sports, and other functions. In nearly every case, the boys were eventually asked to leave because of misbehavior.

Let’s take the art lessons for example. I know about these incidents because my friend Linda’s daughter (who used to attend the playgroup until she got fed up with the boys’ bullying) was in the same art classes as Janet’s boys.

The boys were disruptive and destructive in class. They would actually tease and taunt a handicapped student. The mother of the handicapped boy, unable to stop the harassment, finally threatened to withdraw her four children from art class unless the teacher expelled Janet’s sons, which is what happened. Janet was annoyed because – I’m not kidding – she felt her boys were just naturally exuberant.

Since Linda lived in the same town as Janet, she would sometimes bump into this family on the street. Janet’s boys would scream – yes, scream – foul language at her daughter, right there in broad daylight on the sidewalk. This would happen, I hasten to add, in the company of Janet, who never restrained their language or behavior.

The bad behavior of Janet’s sons escalated when they got older, after we had already left for Idaho. As the years passed I sometimes wondered how they were doing. The once-a-year Christmas newsletter from Janet gave no indication of problems, of course. But then I already knew she was capable of the most amazing mental gymnastics to keep seeing her boys in a pure light.

Fast forward to last week when my friend Linda was in a store and saw two teenagers in long Columbine-style trench coats with greased-back hair and slouching posture. Linda rounded a corner just in time to hear the oldest boy tell his mother to “SHUT THE F*** UP.” Linda stopped dead in her tracks, recognizing Janet’s two kids who were now 15 and 13 and looked, in her words, skanky beyond belief.

So here is the perfect example of how to raise a couple of thugs. Linda reported that Janet looked “less arrogant” than before (she was always vocal in her opinions on how to properly raise children – after all, unlike the rest of us, she was the expert). But here my friend had caught the boys in the act of verbally abusing their mother in public. The jig was up.

I hardly know what to say. The original members of the playgroup had seen this coming for years. Most of us have stayed in touch and I’ve heard similar incidences from others. It makes me feel sad to think of the despair Janet must be feeling as she starts to reap what she sowed. I liked Janet well enough during our acquaintance, even while I didn’t approve of her parenting methods, and it saddens me to see the two proto-thugs she is launching upon society.

While brings me to the concept of modern parenting ideas. Parental techniques have changed over the years, of course, but have you ever noticed that those who live by the traditional methods – firm and loving discipline, a strong father, parental authority, etc. – produce the most stable, happy, productive children who grow into adults who parent their own children in the same way? Why are people constantly trying to reinvent the wheel when the wheel works so damn well already?

I have great faith and belief that many of the old ways of raising kids worked just fine, and we shouldn’t mess with success…especially in matters of human nature. Under ideal circumstances, I believe children do best in an intact two-parent home with firm “alpha” parents who are unified in their love and parenting style, and apply consistent and strong discipline to their kids. Children, as the saying goes, are born liberal, and it’s up to the parents to raise them “right."

Janet is raising her boys “left.” The results are two proto-thugs on the threshold of being launched into society.

Oh joy.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The evolution of a farmhouse table

We salvaged our kitchen table many years ago from the dump. Apparently it used to be a schoolroom table, and shortly after we were married my husband came upon some people who were crushing dozens of tables. I can't imagine why they didn't sell them instead - our table must weigh fifty or sixty pounds and is solid as a rock.

At any rate, here's what this table sees in a typical week:

Messy jobs like cutting up beef fat to make tallow:

Clean jobs like folding clothes:



Breakfast biscuits:

Fresh-baked sugar cookies:

A friend's puzzle:

Gluing handles on tankards to fill an order:

Tea with a friend:

General daily chaos:

The sun shining through glass candlesticks.

Our morning wake-up beverages.

Taxes, ug.

Making apple pies.

Chicken turnovers.

I'll add more photos as our table evolves.