Thursday, December 28, 2017

Mr. Darcy's confusion

Yesterday Older Daughter took Mr. Darcy for a walk in the snow. On the way, she passed a neighbor's gate warning about the numerous dogs therein. Older Daughter reports Mr. Darcy actually had his hackles up.

Later in the evening we all settled in to watch one of our favorite Christmas movies: "A Christmas Carol" with the incomparable George C. Scott.

Since we don't have a television, Don set up his large computer monitor on the microwave stand, and hooked it up to Younger Daughter's computer (which has a CD slot).

Well let me tell you, Darcy was fascinated. Absolutely enthralled at the sight of the movie. He'd never seen anything like it. We laughed ourselves silly at his rapt attention.

What was even funnier was when the scary parts happened. No kidding, Darcy jumped to his feet and cowered against our legs, or hid behind Don's chair.

Such is the learning curve for a puppy, I suppose -- even if the puppy is nearly 60 lbs and six months old.

(September 10)

(December 27)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my dear readers!

I'm happy to report both our girls are home safe and sound, thanks to the largely unthanked airport and airline personnel who work so hard during this time of year. Their flights came in at very different times on December 23, necessitating two separate trips to the airport (we got home with Younger Daughter at 1 am on December 24). But no matter, they're both home! (Though both were hoping for a white Christmas and were a bit disappointed to have "meh" amounts of snow on the ground.)

Christmas Eve is our big day of celebrating, starting with our whimsical and absurd junk food feast (in which we indulge in all the forbidden foods we seldom have, and which started as an attempt by my dear husband to keep me from slaving in the kitchen) and ending with the departure of our dear friends D and S, who have joined us for every Christmas Eve since we moved to Idaho. These fine people have faced some hairy health issues in the past year, so we're doubly glad to have them with us.

Here's Don's father's Bible, opened and ready for him to read Luke 2.

Our nativity scene (a beloved Christmas gift from my parents years ago) backlit by an oil lamp.

A very blurry picture of D and S (I was holding the camera in my lap and trying not to be obnoxious about photographing people).

Here the girls share an electronic moment.

Don always reads Luke 2 out loud, reminding us of our blessings.

Mr. Darcy was graced with a Christmas ribbon collar.

We woke up to a white Christmas after all, with snow coming down fairly heavily.

A reader sent this hilarious video, meant to bring a smile to everyone's faces (I like the mistletoe reaction):

Above all, never forget:
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

A blessed Christmas to everyone.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The NERVE of some people

It was a cold, clear day yesterday, the first sunny day we've had in weeks.

The temp was about 10F.

Bundled up, I went about my usual morning routine: Releasing the chickens, opening the corral gate, topping off the water tank, de-icing the chicken waterer, then finally filling the feed boxes for the cattle.

It was as I was coming out of the barn after feeding the cows that a movement caught my eye. There in our driveway, not 20 feet away, was a coyote.

He was clearly as surprised to see me as I was to see him. I yanked off my gloves and pulled the camera out of my pocket (yet another example of why I try never to set foot outside without my camera -- you never know what might happen!) while the coyote bounced around the driveway, blocked by yard fences and the house, and tried to figure out where to go.

Finally in desperation, he darted into the garden (which had the gate open). That's about the time I got my camera turned on.

Of course, now he was trapped in the garden. What to do? He ricocheted around until he was finally able to blast his way through another gate, at which point he rather insolently stopped and watched me.

After this, he trotted along until he was able to cross into the neighbor's pasture.

Then he cantered away until he was over a hill and out of sight -- and out of reach of the chickens.

Honesty, the nerve of some people. Er, coyotes.

Meanwhile, I examined the animal's tracks in the garden.

They were surprisingly tiny prints. In fact, four of them could easily fit inside one of Mr. Darcy's paw prints (which were side by side later in the day, as Darcy sniffed around the coyote prints). When I saw those prints earlier while doing my chores (before I spotted the coyote), they were so small I thought they belonged to a house cat.

Here's some prints next to my boot print:

Well, regardless of paw print size, he was big enough to eat a chicken. Boy, did I spoil his Christmas dinner plans!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Yet another missive from Robert....

If you recall, last week a liberal reader named Robert emailed me about my WND column ("The nightmare before Christmas").

Well, he's baaaaAAAAAaaack. I assure you, dear readers, I've had nine years of Robert's emails, and I finally decided they're too good not to share.

So first, please go read this weekend's WND column entitled "Come in from the cold."

Now here's Robert's latest:

Merry Christmas to you and your family, Patrice ! I’m an agnostic, not an atheist, but I’ve never been a Christian . I’m a non-observant secular Jew . But how can you speak for atheists ? How do you know they feel “empty” inside “ ? I can’t see into your mind or the mind of anyone else, so how can you see into the

minds of atheists ? Why do you assume they feel a “keen ache” because they don’t believe in a a God ? What makes you think atheists “hate” God, something they don’t even believe in ? This is like saying the Japanese “hate “ Godzilla because of the terrible things he did to their country !

I don’t think atheists are any more “unhappy “ than believers . And you don’t need Christianity and the Bible or the 10 Commandments to be a good and moral person . Obviously ,people should not commit murder , steal, cheat and lie . These are universally condemned by all religions and

people all over the world . Saying unbelievers feel a" keen ache “ is like saying people feel a keen ache for not believing in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy , or for not believing the earth is flat or the sun revolves around the earth . No offense meant .

I know many atheists, and they are some of the nicest, kindest, most generous and caring people you could ever imagine . They don’t need an ancient book to be good people . And please, enough from you conservatives about the alleged “war against Christmas “. This is an urban legend .

I’ve never been the least bit offended when people say Merry Christmas to me on December 25th . And none of my liberal friends are offended by this either . We don’t want to stop anyone from celebrating Christmas and we don’t want anyone to be “persecuted “ for saying Merry Christmas .

No one is being persecuted for this . Well, a handful of businesses have told employees to say “Happy Holidays “ instead of Merry Christmas, but this is silly and doesn’t prove the existence of a “war on Christmas “ . The thing that offends u liberals is the way the Trump administration is

planning to deprive millions of Americans of health care , welfare , social security , medicare , food stamps etc . The people who receive these things are not “lazy bums “ trying to “sponge off the government “. They are children, seriously ill ones , elderly ,[poor and frail

people, people out of work through no fault of their own and struggling to provide for their families etc . Tell me, is what Trump and his cronies trying to do in any way “Christian ?”

Merry Christmas, Robert

I sincerely wish Robert the peace of Christ this Christmas. Sounds like he needs it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Irish parrot?

Older Daughter knows how crazy I am about Irish dancing (I have "Riverdance" practically memorized). So when she sent me this YouTube clip of a parrot dancing to Michael Flatley's "Lord of the Dance," I howled.

What a bird!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Dashing through the snow

Is there anyone who enjoys snow more than a puppy?

We had about a two-week period of blech weather: cold, dry, freezing fog. Frankly it was boring. But then we got blitzed almost overnight with six inches of light fluffy snow.

Mr. Darcy is convinced it fell solely for his amusement.

We've devised an active game for Mr. Darcy. Twice a day we take him walking. Don and I start by walking together, then -- when Darcy has trotted ahead and isn't watching -- one of us will split off and start walking the other direction. Eventually Darcy notices, and he'll go pounding after the other person. We'll keep walking in opposite directions, wider and wider apart, and Darcy will race back and forth between us. By the time we're the width of the property apart, he's getting an enormous gallop between us.

Here he's coming toward me...

...and now he's racing back toward Don.

Just beyond Don is a downhill stretch, and sometimes we'll take Darcy on this side so he gets extra exercise dashing through the snow uphill (half the time).

By the time he's dashed between us eight or ten times, he'll finally start to slow down, then Don and I will walk back toward each other so Mr. Darcy has smaller and smaller distances to go. He's an active young dog (he'll be six months old at the end of December) and this exercise has made his muscles hard and firm.

Yep, there's nothing like mixing puppies and snow.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

The nightmare before Christmas

Here's my WND column entitled "Merry Resistmas: Looking up to 'angelic' Hillary."

After you read the column, consider this email I received from a long-time ├╝ber-liberal reader named Robert (all spelling in the original):

"I’m sorry , Patrice, but what you have just posted at WND is absolutely appalling and sickening . There is no better role model in America for women and girls than Hillary Clinton . No, she’s not perfect, but she is one of the greatest women in not only America but the entire world,

a great stateswoman , a great American and no politician in the GOP is worthy of standing love feet near her .. Hillary Clinton does more good for America in one day than Trump and the entire repugnican party (my spelling) have done in the last 50 years or so .

This woman has more goodness,, stature, integrity , intelligence and integrity in one cell of her body than a trillion Donald Trumps combined . Or any member of the GOP (gross old perverts ) .

Just thin. We could have had the best qualified presidential candidate ever in the White House , but one year ago, this nation blew it and elected a disgusting little clown who os no more qualified to be president than a severely retarded person is qualified to teach nuclear physics at

Harvard or MIT . And YOU and millions of other naive, gullible and clueless Americans voted for him . All because he hoodwinked you with countless blatant lies and despicable fear and hate mongering . Donald Chump is the most corrupt and incompetent president in

US history . He is a pathological liar, a narcissistic sociopath , a pompous, arrogant vulgar, crude , undignified , loud-mouthed , disrespectful , bone-headed , nasty, hypocritical whining , grotesquely immature 71 year ol;d who behaves like a spoiled toddler who can’t get his way ,

ignorant, poorly educated , not at all well read and possibly illiterate horse’s ass .

He is also a monstrously lecherous horn dog with zero control over his norms libido who thinks that his money, power, fame and influence give him the right to fondle, grope and paw any woman he finds attractive . He is a notorious sexual predator who may very well have RAPED at ;east one 13 year old girl

at the parties , or rather orgies he tends some years ago . Donald Chump has absolutely morals , no ethics, no principles other than what’s in it for him , no honesty , no integrity - he appears to have absolutely no redeeming qualities . He has been married three times, divorced twice ,

openly boasts about cheating on his wives and has been caught on tape saying how he wants and needs to “grab women by the ***** “.

What are Trump’s qualifications to be president ? They are non-existent . A good president must be well educated , knowledgeable about history, government , economics , foreign affairs etc . Trump is devoid of this knowledge . A good president must be highly intelligent , tactful ,

level-headed , have sound judgment and common sense . Trump is devoid of these things . Hillary Clinton has all these qualities in spades , yet the right continues to spew mindless hatred of her and continues to accuse her of imaginary corruption and even murder, which is

imbecilic !

Being a rich businessman does not make you a good president . And Trump may be rich, but he is not even a good or competent businessman . Or an honest and principled one . His entire fortune is based on lies and deceit . Howe has lost billions, has been sued for his bogus

“Trump University “ and has thousands of lawsuits against him . All his business enterprises have failed . He has had many bankruptcies , and his yacht was even repossessed by a bank ! He is notorious in the construction industry for stiffing employees and contractors of pay .

And on and on and on . If he has no probity as a businessman , how can we expect him to be a good or even competent president ?

Patrice, I’ve barely scratched the surface of all the reasons why Trump should never even have been allowed dot run for president in the first place . Merry Christmas ! What “war on Christmas ?” This is entirely imaginary . No one s being “persecuted “ for saying this, and even though I’m

very liberal, it doesn’t offend me the least bit when people say Merry Christmas to me . I always say Merry Christmas too . And I’m not even a Christian ! So please, may you and your family have a wonderful time this Christmas . I have absolutely no problem with this . Nor do other liberals in America .

All the best, Robert"

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Never pass up a good opportunity

I laughed until I cried.

In 2014, it seems a Finnish dog show called Koira Mestar was progressing nicely with a variety of dogs competing in obedience. According to ABC News, "One obstacle involves dogs having to avoid a swarm of canine distractions [toys and food] while making it to the finish line."

However one beautiful Golden Retriever decided never to pass up a good opportunity. By the end, even the judges were applauding his happy-go-lucky enthusiasm.

As some commenters said, "It's the journey, not the destination" and "Fails at competition, wins at life."

As I said, I laughed until I cried.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The threat of contentment

I came across a couple of interesting posts recently.

The first is called “How Your Contentment Is Killing Your Future.” The writer (a Christian named Dale Patridge) wonders if our “healthy desire for contentment become an unhealthy desire for comfort.” He notes he and his wife had moved past contentment into “stagnant, dormant, and latent.”

This writer is a go-getter who became a millionaire by the time he was 30 (and guides other go-getters to follow his principles and become wealthy). As such, he puts great store in leadership, and using both leadership and the resulting wealth to minister to others.

He writes: “You see, as leaders, we can often spend years working to reach the mountain tops of our achievements only to finally arrive, overstay our welcome, and die there in a state of comfort. … But what if God has something more for you? What if He’s just waiting for you to ask, to dream, and to see? What if more life didn’t have to mean more stuff? What if more purpose actually called for less comfort? Ultimately, my challenge to you is this: Is your life small because your vision was small? Has your desire for less lessened your life? Could your obsession for a simple existence leave you with a simple story?”

We all have different gifts in life, and there’s nothing wrong with either leadership or wealth, as long as they’re used to the glory of God.

But a Christian mom who blogs about “living small” rebutted Mr. Partridge’s position. She wrote, “Contentment in circumstances can be misconstrued as settling for mediocre. Nothing could be farther from the truth. … Contentment has served me well as I’ve been frustrated with life circumstances over the years. I’ve learned how to stay content when my circumstances were less than ideal. I’ve learned the fastest ways to kill contentment. I’ve wrestled with what it looks like to remain content when I truly, deeply yearn for more. Truly there is nothing bad to be said about contentment. But settling for a moderate life out of fearful reasons or laziness? That would be tragic. Living small is not ‘settling’ for average. Living small is making choices on purpose to make room for extraordinary.”

While I admire Mr. Partridge’s success and go-getter attitude – we need go-getters in this world – my philosophy at this stage in my life leans more strongly toward “contentment.” Of course this is the difference between someone at the peak of his life’s productivity (30) and someone on the downhill slope of life’s productivity (55).

But the subject of ambition vs. contentment is an interesting one. A few years ago I was asked, by someone I like and respect, where I saw myself in ten years. What, he wanted to know, is our (Don’s and my) goal over the next decade? This question was asked because the gentleman is a go-getter, a business whiz, an operational genius.

I replied that we were very satisfied with our present conditions. Our children have grown into fine young ladies. Our marriage is strong. Our farm is developing well. My “ambition” is to continue following the path we’re currently on, for the foreseeable future, as long as God permits.

But my questioner persisted. Surely we had some lofty goals we wanted to achieve? Didn’t we want financial wealth or societal acclaim? Didn’t we want to change the world in some way? As politely as I could, I said no.

This line of questioning happened years ago, and I’ve been mulling it over ever since. Until questioned, I never realized I had such an utter lack of ambition.

The truth is, we DO have ambitions and goals, but they’re just not in keeping with the things corporate America values. We have ambitions of expanding the garden this spring and goals of installing a water tank in the next few months. We have ambitions of improving the barn’s infrastructure and goals to someday put hardwood flooring in the house. We have ambitions to become as self-sufficient as possible on our homestead. We have goals (which we’ve achieved) of launching two well-rounded, sensible, moral young women into the world.

In short, we may lead a life that is quiet and unassuming to the unpracticed eye, but the truth is we’re stable, content, and happy. These, presumably, are the goals and ambitions of many millions of people – to be stable, content, and happy.

“Ambition” is a relatively recent thing for the ordinary person. We’ve always had ambitious people, of course – history is littered with the corpses from the ambitions of tyrants and conquerors – but for the vast majority of regular people, ambition took back seat to mere survival. It’s only in the last few decades that our abundance and affluence has allowed so many people the luxury of career ambitions.

Is this lack of ambition a bad thing? Did we teach our daughters to ask too little of life? Should our goals have been higher?

I remember one time in late June, sitting in the barn working on my laptop, working on a magazine article that was due shortly. (In nice weather, I do a lot of work in the barn.) I was keeping an eye on a cow who was due to give birth at any moment. Chickens were all around me. The daisies and ocean spray were in full bloom. Later that afternoon I had plans to do dishes and laundry.

And I realized this, dear readers, was about the extent of my ambition. This was where I saw myself in ten years: right here. There will be different cows in the corral, and different chickens scratching in the dirt, and the daisies and ocean spray may not be blooming, and our girls have now grown and gone, but it is my dearest hope to continue this lifestyle we’ve achieved and come to love so well. There will always be manure to shovel and gardens to grow, eggs to gather and fruit to pick. And I find my ambitions becoming framed by the boundaries of our property.

But maybe I’m in good company. First Thessalonians 4:11-12 says to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”

That’s become my motto.

The world needs leaders. The world needs wealthy people. The world needs ambitious people. But it also needs those of us who don’t harbor any of those goals and prefer to “lead a quiet life.” As long as it’s to the glory of God, it’s all good.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A surefire way to annoy your holiday host

Here's my WND column for this weekend entitled "One surefire way to annoy your holiday host."

Along these lines, reader Ken forwarded the following illustration, which I thought was apt: