Monday, January 31, 2011

The Frazzled Brain

Already this morning I've:

-- Wrestled in my mind over Jesus's words during the last days of His life. He proclaims Himself to be a light, shining in darkness, illuminating minds and scattering Satan's power. Meanwhile, he heads toward Golgotha, and His death. Toward a day when the sky darkened at noon.

-- This thinking on darkness turns my thoughts toward Egypt. The crowds of protesters I see on the screen -- they seem to me to be living in darkness. The whole Muslim world is full of darkness, to me. Such a fearful religion. People who seem to be grasping in a spiritual void.

-- Re-debated the whole "Harry Potter" issue over on facebook. Are these books really about Satan worship? I don't see it.

-- Bent my mind again to inter-racial issues in America. Does one drop of "black blood" really make someone black? Is Obama our first black president, or our first mixed-race president? Do we want or need these labels?

-- Tried to wrap my brain around the "clean energy" concept. It used to mean wind mills. Now wind mills are out for the environmentalists b/c they kill birds.  Greenies used to hate nuclear power.  Now many tout it as a clean energy. What is a person supposed to believe? Is there such a thing as "clean coal"?

-- Considered the idea that, when Christians offer something simple and ordinary to God, and it becomes a worthwhile offering, it is similar to Jesus's conversion of water into wine. Hmm.

-- People are starting to use funeral pyres again? 

-- Given a few brain cells to: approaching storms in the Midwest, where we're flying next week; thought about stomach viruses that are going around; ruminated on our visit to a nice church yesterday; Obamacare is always on the brain's horizon; mommy blogging and whether it's a worthwhile pursuit; our new-to-us, broken washing machine that must be returned; Anna's math; my own lethargy ....

And the list goes on and on. All because I spend my mornings on the internet.

And I wonder:  is this a useful thing?  Am I frying my brain and making it less useful for truly important things, like my family and my home?

Do we spread ourselves thin each day, mentally stretching our thoughts out across the world like "butter on too much bread," as Bilbo once said?

Thoreau (of whom I am not an ardent fan) once said something about how humans in his time were too fond of searching out each latest morsel of news. What would he think of 2011? He advised turning one's mind to the small items in one's own life worthwhile of study.

Hmmm.  Now I've only given myself yet another thing to ponder.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bread & Butter

Adam finally found some rye flour at a store in Salisbury the other day, when he was visiting a friend there in the hospital. So, at last, he could make his delicious country loaf bread! Today, he preached at a church about an hour away, so on the way home, we stopped at a rest area, and sat in the sun, and enjoyed his bread, with honey-butter.
This bread has a good, sturdy crust.
They had picnic tables, but they were in the shade -- and even though it is another glorious, warmish day, we didn't want to be in the shade.  There was just a bit of wind.
We took Sandy along.
You have to use back teeth on Adam's bread crust :)
See how pretty? We didn't quite eat both loaves!
Anna's saying, "Nooooo! Don't take my picture!)
Julia ran and played more than she ate.

I hope you're enjoying a beautiful Sunday.  I know our winter is far from over, but I'm thankful for a few sunny days, and for the chance to be outside in the sun.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Glorious Day!

Julia, Sandy and I took another walk this afternoon, but I won't bore you with the details. The weather is glorious -- Julia claims it's now spring. I tried to convince her otherwise. She found something interesting on our walk, a fungi.  It's very large, and looks petrified.  It was lying upside down, in the shade of our front yard.
My rosemaries are looking very happy with all this sunshine.
And Julia?  She decided it was warm enough for SHORTS! In January! This was a serendipitous photo:
She's so happy to be outside, in the grass, with her dog. As I type this, I can barely see out the front window onto the grass -- Julia is lying on her tummy, reading a book in the grass, and Sandy is keeping her company. They're big buddies.
The garden is still asleep.
But the forsythia is beginning to awake.
Oh, and that huge fungi? I measured it - 7 inches across! Just thought you'd like to know, since perspective can be difficult in photos.
By the way, that ruler -- I think my dad gave it to me, once upon a time. It's very old. It's metal, and snaps up in a roll when you're done with it. On the back, it says, "Burgess Publishing Company, Minneapolis 15, Minnesota. And I must confess, I have no idea what the "15" is for!
Adam will be preaching away tomorrow at a church here in N. Carolina. Have a blessed Sunday!

Friday, January 28, 2011

It's Finally Warm Enough ...

For a walk around the neighborhood this afternoon!  Adam and I haven't done that is so long. The sky is very blue today.
Sandy was eager to go.  Adam says, "How do you get it?" And she plops her bottom down and "sits pretty." Then he puts on the beloved leash.
Did I say the sky was very blue?
These pine cones are my favorite;  they're tiny, the size of my pinky fingernail. So adorable! I love all things miniature.
Some neighbors are still harking back to Christmas.
Others are pruning harshly, anticipating the new growth of spring. These crepe myrtles are so ugly now, and once you prune them like this the first time, you can never again have them in their lithe, delicate original form.
Winter exposes things in their worst and best. This tree has been pruned in the past, and even though it's been years, it still shows. A tree should be lovely in both summer and winter, I think.
This is a beautiful crepe myrtle, unpruned and allowed to stretch out its branches like a ballet dancer. She also has gorgeous bark -- very rust-colored.
This is one of about four holly bush/tree/shrubs that was laden with berries this year -- heavy with them. I've been meaning to get a pic of it for months. The berries still look bright, but if you examine them close-up, you see that they're getting tired, pale and ready to fall off.
I wish this photo showed all the moss that graces this roadside. I love this spot. The trees and underbrush on the left, and the mossy floor, impress on my the idea of little fairies or elves creeping from the woods at night, to dance on the soft moss. The telephone pole, however, rather ruins the effect.
Tomorrow, the temperatures should climb to about 60º!  Another walk, perhaps?  Sandy says, "Yes, please!"


Here's a head's up about the new book, UnPlanned, by Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood leader, turned into pro-life advocate.  If you want to read the first chapter of the book, here's a link to it. You can either read or listen to it.

I read the chapter. I must say, it's difficult for me to believe that someone who had seen ultrasounds of babies many times, at 12 or 13 weeks gestation, would never have understood that the fetus is a baby, being murdered, in the abortion. But this is her assertion, that the realization had never "clicked," the light bulb had never turned on for her. I wonder how many abortion supporters there are, out there, who would change their minds if they saw the actual procedure being performed. There is a huge sorrow, to me, to think that some can only be convinced that murder is occurring, if they witness one first hand. Does someone have to die, before you can believe that death is happening? I would hope that all of us would not require that criterion.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Late-Lunch Blogasbord

Hi, all you hungry readers!  Here's what I've reheated for you today!

Sleeping with your pet:  This article says this practice could be very unhealthy, even deadly! Who'd a thunk it?

Richard Dreyfuss, Educator:  Bet you didn't know that this actor is WAY into improving civics education in America.

Monitoring America, Big Brother Style: I don't know if this kind of thing interests you. We seem to be watched wherever we go. Maybe the fewer techy gizmos you have, the less you have to worry about it?

U.S. Missionary murdered in Northern Mexico: I'm grieved and appalled at what is happening to this neighboring country, where I went for five mission trips as a young person. Pray for missionaries there.

Disillusioned 20-somethings: I found this article a bit caustic, personally, but I do think he has a point about this young generation.

And lastly, Pro-Life News --

UnPlanned: I haven't read this book, and I wasn't sure how to take this article. I personally cannot fault the conservative church that refused Mrs. Johnson membership. Do I believe that many abortion workers are as clueless as she was, about what's going on under their noses? Hmm.

Chilling Statistic:  No matter where you stand on the abortion debate, New York City's statistic should appall and sadden you;  41% of pregnancies there, end in abortion.  Was it Bill Clinton who first said abortion should be rare?  We don't seem to be getting there, do we?

Abortion Whistleblower Awards:  Now here is a cool idea!! Cash awards are given to abortion clinic workers who will blow the whistle on their bosses, who are committing murder behind their office doors. One woman has already been given a $25,000 award, and thankfully, her boss is done with his work. May there be many more awards given!  Even pro-abortion folks can't complain that murderers of women and live-born infants, are being put behind bars.

Old Dough

I made yeast rolls at Christmas, but didn't need all the dough, so I saved half of it. It's been in the freezer. I put it in the frig earlier in the week. This morning, I decided to make cinnamon rolls with the old dough.

It looks pretty good, I think. It was easy to work with.
I spread it out by hand and drizzled melted butter on the dough, and in the pan. Butter makes anything good, right?
I was generous with the cinnamon & sugar.  I've always felt you can't have a good cinnamon roll if you scrimp on the cinnamon & sugar.
Then I rolled it into a log,
Cut the rolls, and placed them in the buttered dish. I let them rise in a warmed oven for 45 minutes. They didn't rise much. Hmmm.
Then I baked them at 350º.  They never did get very big. As a matter of fact, the cooked dough remained rather small, tough and unpleasant, instead of the soft, fluffy, big texture you want in a good cinnamon roll.  We ate them anyway, but they were a disappointment -- even though I could still get a decently delicious-looking picture of them. Looks are deceiving.
I suppose when one starts with bad, tough, old dough, no amount of butter, cinnamon, sugar, or even rising time, can improve upon it. A good cinnamon roll is a good cinnamon roll from the inside out. I think the same is true of people. Excellent character can't be fudged. Next time I'll use fresh, lively dough.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Outside, Inside

It's been raining since early morning. The water runs in rivulets down the drive. A January rain is a cold thing.
Puddles spread and dampen the dry twigs.
Raindrops don't show in still shots, but droplets dangle on the trees like forgotten Christmas crystals.
The dead tree-matter is happy to be on the porch, out of the wet.
But -- inside, on this rainy day, we are warm. Adam started a fire early.
And I made bread. Dough is so pure-looking, so deceptive.
One must man-handle it, twist and compress and abuse it, to make bread.
And put it through heat,
Before it is useful, delicious. That's a fine crust.

I have two rosemaries in pots. They sat side by side near the driveway, through the cold and snow. One is thriving; one is dying.  What's going on, in the inside? Why did one not have the strength to live? Live tree-matter loves the rain and soaks up the moisture.
Adam stoked the fire after lunch. I have too many thoughts rumbling around in my head.
About why Jesus let Lazarus die, and made his sisters weep, when He could have raised him with a simple thought, from afar. But he waited, and let many suffer, so His disciples' faith would grow.  Do others suffer at times, so that God can grow my faith?

About injustice, and how life does not turn out as it does in the books and the movies, where the character who's been ill-treated finds vindication in the end. I ask myself why I read such things. It gives me an unnatural hope for my own life, that someone will finally do the right thing, and do what is needed for Adam to have the pastorate here in Statesville, that both he and the church want. Why does God allow even His own people sometimes to do the wrong thing, and damage others? I know He can make up all of it to us, either in this life or the next.  But I find myself longing for Him to convince the hearts of His people to do right. There's so much wrong in this fallen world that cannot be avoided; we should rid our lives of all of it that is avoidable.

About how little we parents know of our children.  Adam and I realized years ago that children have their own, private "kid world." We've taught hundreds of teens over the years. If you don't remember how you kept your mind, your ideas, your world, private from your parents when you were a kid, then you've forgotten too much. Parents today are too inclined to think their children are good, down to their toes. I remember my child soul.  It was filthy and riddled with sins of all stripes.  It's good to recall this, and look at my children, and know they are just the same. Only then -- only then -- can I help them out of their own troubles. Until I do, I am no parent.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Good-bye, Mr. Roper,

It's been a nice 8 years or so, but you just don't dance as well as you used to.
And hello, Mr. Kenmore!! He came to our house today, once again, a great find from the Habitat for Humanity REstore.  We got this almost-new, $700 washing machine, for only $175!! Yippee!
My old washer, Mr. Roper, was not spinning very well, and often our clothing would come out dripping, even after a second spin. When Adam told me there was a front-loader available at such a great price, I was so excited!!

Now I'm going downstairs to see how Mr. Kenmore performed with his first load :)

"It Followed Her to School One Day..."

Julia may not have a Little Lamb, like Mary of the song, but she does have a darling puppy, Sandy! Julia instructs Sandy in the fine arts of reading:
Aren't they adorable?  Is it any wonder that both of them are thrilled that Julia is home for school?