Monday, February 28, 2011

The Lunch Dilemma

Considering that I'm a tad bit overweight, it's odd that I'm often not very excited about food. I eat the same boring thing for breakfast each day:  buttered toast and OJ. Sometimes hot tea. Sometimes an egg.

And lunch is a problem. I generally don't like lunch foods much. Not a sandwich fan, and never have been. Or rather -- the idea of a sandwich doesn't thrill me. When I bite into it, my response is usually an inner, 'yummm.'  BLTs are a favorite, of course, but who can eat BLTs every day?

The other day, I made this. Doesn't it look good?
That's just a store-bought cheese sauce in a jar. I loaded the chips up with the cheese, lettuce & tomato (I adore tomatoes), made a mess, and it was delicious.

All that to say, I sometimes need to get creative at lunch. We eat leftovers almost every day. (That's been a hard sell with my family, but I think I've succeeded.) And many times, Adam has had to remind me, "Did you have any lunch yet?"  I sheepishly admit that I'd forgotten. Or put it off.

(And then I'm starving at 3:30.)

And supper?  I'm often weary of thinking up' what to have tonight!' Do you ever feel that way?

So, how can a woman who's often bored with eating, get overweight?

Wish I knew!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

An Old Friend

I am a pianist. I'm one of those who majored in piano performance in college, only to drift away from the challenge of rigorous practicing after graduation. As work, and marriage, and babies came along, there was no time for laboring over Chopin or Brahams several hours a day. Occasionally I'd pick up the old music, the old friends. But occasional practice is no good for that kind of music. The relationship was rusty.
Yesterday I turned to a very old friend, Mr. Brahams's sixth intermezzo in his Opus 118. I memorized and performed the entire opus my sophomore year, in my recital. I learned this one last, the hardest one. But -- oh, so beautiful. And since I learned it last, it faded from memory first, and then from skill. I knew the re-acquaintance would be painful. I would be clumsy and awkward. At first I wouldn't remember the song's nuances of personality, the little expressions and turns that make it unique. But what a pleasure to discover them all again, even with fumbling fingers! Just like a long-lost, old friend.
If you'd like to hear it played (by someone else!), here it is:

Memories. Some things are committed to memory better than others. A lover's face. A special place. A precious moment. Tender words. And music -- music in the memory, truly in the memory, is a burr that cannot be removed from the cloth it's embedded in. I think some of this music is carved into my soul.
Thank you, old friend.


I'm becoming an expert on fires. 

Not on starting them, you understand.  That's still the husband's job.  But on watching them, and fiddling with them, and adding a log or two. Evaluating whether there is still any life left, in some dying embers.

I'm surprised at how a roaring fire can still be roused from a gray bed of seemingly cold stumps.

Today I watched a dying fire. And just as I thought it was on its last hurrah, a huge flame burst out on one end of a crumbling mass.  Dying fires are so delicate, you see -- have you ever fiddled with embers?  They crumble at the slightest touch. No wonder they die. But inside, they are hot, burning, lively. Ready to jump to life again, even if only for a few minutes.

I know there is a spiritual lesson to be gleaned here, but my weary mind has trouble grasping it.  This I know though:  where there's life, there's hope. Where even an ember remains, with any heat in it, a clever fire-tender can elicit a glow, and a spark, and a lively fire, and warmth again.

Hope. We should try to see hope in everything. The cold. The fragile. The dying. Where there is heaven, there is the greatest hope.

Friday, February 25, 2011


Rain fell all night,
And this morning is suddenly spring.
Warm, damp, whipping windy.
I went to gather the branches
And one fell with a thud at my feet.
Did some fairy wave the buds awake
At daybreak?
Their baby voices squeal in birth
And they squint at the light.
It was snow and ice a week ago,
And my broken heart cannot change so fast.
This unintelligible world hurts me;
My spirit fares better in winter’s dark,
And my tears long to sink into earth.
Surely they should freeze and die.
Their salt would kill the little buds.
The air will catch my windy sighs
And blow the dead wood all away.

Copyright by the author

Wet and Warm

I've been chilly in the house this morning, wrapped in a robe, rubbing my cold fingers together. Then I went outside -- oh my!  It was balmy, warm, and damp! It rained steadily overnight, stopping this morning about 7:00.

The forsythia, which never did fully bloom, sent out its greenery overnight.
Yesterday Adam started turning the garden beds. Peas on the left, lettuce on the right. He's not putting anything in yet, but the beds will be ready. The soil is wet and heavy. He's been adding mulch/leaves each year, so it's rich.
And he's decided to try his bee hives in a new location in the yard. They're closer to the house. Last year, we put them far in the back, because we were nervous to have them so close to the house, but they really don't bother anyone. And in this spot, they'll get more morning sun, and thus they'll be active earlier in the day.
He's leveling the bee table. If it's not level, the bees will make oddly-shaped comb.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Breakfast Blogasbord

Gotta get all these open links off my Firefox!

NY Times article on academic bias/discrimination in the Social Sciences. A speaker at a national conference nails it on the head.  And here's Albert Mohler's article, on that article, much of it repetitive.

World Mag - Discrimination also at NASA

NY Times - amazing rescue of 2 West Point cadets off a narrow cliff face.

Gumbo Lily has a gorgeous pic of Lemon Cloud Pie on this post. I've kept it open on my computer for a week, to remind me to make one!

The Pioneer Woman -- my sister sent me this blog to look at. I've never seen a housewife blog so BIG! It's like a blog mall, whereas my blog is like a little shop the size of your closet. Worth looking at, just for all the variety and pics.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Real Thing

I made a casserole of homemade macaroni and cheese to take on our picnic at the park yesterday.  Julia particularly likes mac/cheese. Is there anything more delicious and comforting that a bubbly, homemade mac/cheese, straight from the oven? I make my cheese sauce from scratch, and it still doesn't take very long.
Julia mentioned sheepishly that sometimes she misses the chemical-laden boxed mac/cheese from the store. "Not really!?" I replied. Then she mentioned some kids she's known who will only eat the boxed mixes.  They don't like homemade mac/cheese, and won't eat it.

(Can you imagine??)

(I made smoothies too, and we took them along. Also, real dishes and silverware. I felt almost British.)
I found it strange that someone would prefer the imitation of something, and not tolerate the real thing.  I mean, the boxed mac/cheese is supposed to be a cheap, quick, inferior imitation of the dish children grew up with and loved, 100 years ago, right? But the homemade dish is time-consuming, and the modern mom opts for convenience.  But we all know that homemade tastes better, yummier, creamier.


When do we become so used to the inferior imitation, that we have no appetite for the real thing?

When do we become so consumed with shadows, and forget there is a real object for every shadow, a reality for every symbol? So much in this life, this veil of tears, is just a shadow of reality -- life on God's New Earth. It's a cheap imitation, not designed to satisfy us. We forget the wonder, the better land, God has for us.

Don't settle for the cheap imitation.

Sometimes, I love to take pictures of simple things, made beautiful by sunshine and shadows.
These are split seed pods from our wysteria vine on the patio. Remember -- the pods that hung like Christmas ornaments all winter? On a warm day, they all cracked open silently, and their seeds blew to the winds.

Return to the Park

Finally, the weather warmed enough for Julia and me to return to our favorite park, a long shoestring of trees and stream, a path winding through its middle.
It was a great opportunity to get some pics of Julia, who is usually a little silly on the other side of the lens.
We took Sandy, of course.
I think Julia is turning into a pretty young lady. She's certainly a dear, and bright as a button.
We found a leaning tree,
and decided to pose one of these pictures:
Sandy resisted participation in the slide, but Julia insisted.
I love the trees.
She's not often this serious.
The trees overhead crackled and groaned at us ominously. What a sky!
Julia couldn't resist the creek.

These are perfect moments.

More Practice on Overlooking Offenses

A while back, I wrote a post on how to deal with those who've hurt you. I talked about overlooking an offense -- the second-best option you can choose, when the other person doesn't acknowledge his sin against you, or ask for forgiveness.

I've had new thoughts on this recently. I've been wrangling with that word, "overlook."

Because in that post, I say that to overlook an offense means to take the teeth out of it, to extend a mercy to your offender that he doesn't deserve, to decide not to let his act have mastery over you. That all sounds good and empowering -- but, how exactly can one do it? Or, more precisely, why can one do it? When my soul rises up inside me, and rightly says, "Wrong has been done, and it must be punished!" -- what do I answer? What logic can I give my soul, that evil can go unpunished?

Let's define "overlook."

Noun. "Disregard, ignore, forgive, condone." But here's a different definition: "To have a view from above, to be higher than. To look over, watch."

In order to correctly overlook an offense against me, that I cannot redress or correct, an offense that's never confessed to me as sin, and for which my offender has never asked for forgiveness -- in order to overlook that, I must have an eternal perspective. I must stop looking at the here-and-now of my pain and situation, and remember the big picture of God's judgment. God hears my soul's cry for justice also. He is all about justice. On that awesome day, He will bring every offense into account. All the victims will be vindicated. All the victimizers will be exposed and punishment will be doled out.

This is to all those out there in pain because they've been done wrong.  Stand up, look over the fence of this fallen world, and see eternity. See your vindication in the future, and leave it in God's hands. Live your life knowing that He will make everything fair, in the end. For me, knowing this allows me to put these offenses to rest. Overlooking the offense means looking over into eternity. That day of vindication will be a beautiful day.  God says so.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunshine at Last!

 This past weekend was such a wonder! The sun was warm and bright, and the breezy air was balmy, pleasant to the face. I did a little yard work, cleaning out scrubby-looking beds. In these pics, I decided to take my indoor plants out on the patio steps. I always do this too early, and forget to bring them back in. But they look so tired of sitting in the dining room, pining by the glass doors, longing for real sun on their leaves.
Sometimes I feel the same way in the late winter, don't you?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What's on Netflix:

Just a note to say that we girls have been enjoying Anna's new laptop :) She can get Netflix streaming on it. (Alas, because my laptop, upon which I'm typing at this moment, is so old, it doesn't stream.) And we've been enjoying so many classics lately!

We watched 2 DVDs of Lark Rise to Candleford, from the novel by Flora Thompson. It came in the mail though. I adore that book and read it every few years, after enough time has elapsed for me to forget it a bit. We have 2 more DVDs of it that just arrived today!

Last night and today, we watched all of Wives and Daughters, from the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell. I'd seen this at least twice before, but it was new to Anna, who really enjoyed it. We really, really enjoy seeing these British actors over and over again in various movies and different roles. It occasionally takes us a minute to figure out where we've seen them before.

Arriving next in the mail will be Cranford, Mrs. Gaskell's best novel, and one of my very favorites. I haven't seen this recent hit by PBS, and I'm eager to enjoy it, after we finish Lark Rise.

The last one by Mrs. Gaskell is North and South, which none of us have seen, and it's also on live-streaming, so Anna and I can enjoy it whenever we like.  What a pleasure! She enjoys these as much as I do, and I think that after she's seen all the Gaskell and Austen she can assimilate in her teen years, she will be well-prepared to jilt a young man handily, lure and refuse proposals, understand the ins and outs of 19th century English inheritance law, and marry only for love. How's that for a summary.  Oh yes, and ride side-saddle :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Joseph of Arimethea

I was more secret than Nicodemus.
I heard Him once, on a temple mission
To investigate His heresies, but
I was drawn, won, by His kingdom vision.

I listened as they plotted His demise,
Would not support, but would not speak against
Their schemes. I feared, as Pilate washed his hands,
And the lunatic crowds became incensed.

The women, always the women, gathered
Near the cross. I heard Him promise the thief,
Thought of His words of the temple, three days –
Watched as He cried to His Father in grief.

And I knew. The body must not be left.
Terrified, I faced Pilate with my plea,
Me – a Council member! I carried Him,
And cried as His precious blood covered me.

Later, I often sat on that stone seat,
And wondered at what happened in that cave.
Now my bones lie where His did, but in dust,
Waiting for the trumpet of Him who saves.

Copyright by the author
February 18, 2011

Life and Death

I went walking in the yard recently with Sandy. I was hoping to see some signs of life, a whisper of spring. Here are the stone steps that go down near the stone wall that Philip built. See the pavers at the bottom? My children's hand prints are in them. We have put so much of ourselves into this little piece of earth.
Finally, I found a little blossom of forsythia, one of the earliest bloomers. This morning, Adam found a camellia, but they are winter bloomers anyway; the forsythia is the hot yellow of warm days to come.
My Lady Banks rose bush is showing a little resurrection too, a few leaves here and there. When it's covered in green, the cardinals will build nests in it and hide their babies there -- more life.
Daffodil bulbs are popping up all over the yard. Now, we look eagerly for each one. Soon, we'll take all the green, yellow, red, pink and blue for granted.
And what of the dead? Some things are long past any resurrection. This was once a noble tree, stretching for sky and leafing for sunshine. Now, barely a stump. Only in its decay is it of value to new life. Man's life is fleeting as a shadow.

Warre Hives

As promised, here are more pics of Adam's work on his bee furniture. Here, he glues up the sides of a new box:
He's made quite a few boxes.  Actually, I think he mis-counted, and now has more than he'll need at first, but I'm sure he'll use them eventually. These will be Warre hives -- those cute, narrower hives with adorable roofs.
One stack of boxes. The frames aren't inside yet.
He's saving his wood shavings.  They're useful in the bee boxes, for absorbing extra, unwanted moisture. Moisture in the hives can kill bees in the winter.
This is an interesting piece of bee furniture that he made last year. These are grafting cells for breeding new queens. Eventually, Adam wants to sell not just honey, but bees and queens. There's good money to be made in that area.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Making Bees a Home

Adam was "busy as a bee" today, making lots of new bee boxes and frames. The new bees arrive in about 5 weeks, and they'll need a place to live.  He'll have 4 hives, 5 boxes each, 8 frames in each box.  That's a lot of wood cutting.
Adam has some bee furniture from last year, but needed lots of new frames, since some from last year really didn't work well.  Tomorrow I'll take some more pics of the new Warre hives he's making - so exciting!

Anna's New Buddy

Before yesterday, the most money Anna had ever spent at one time was $34. (And she said that didn't really count, because she paid in cash and didn't use her debit card.)  Anna hates to spend money.  So it took some convincing to get her to plop her cash on the counter for this:
No, it's not an Apple.  (She really couldn't have afforded that.) But she needs it for her college algebra class, and she'll need it for college next fall. So, a good investment. She's tickled! Now, she can play "SIMS" from her Very Old CD, to her heart's content. And she and I can watch chic-flick movies on Netflix together. Yay!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

To the Snowy Tundra and Back

Adam and I flew to Iowa (again) over the weekend. We went through the Detroit Airport, and found this:
Pretty cool tunnel! The walls glow and change colors.
The clouds looked solid enough to walk on.
Alert:  This is NOT a typical Iowan barn! Most of them were beautiful, painted, well-maintained.  This dilapidated outbuilding did get my attention though.
Snow? Oh yeah, there was snow.
The Reformed Presbyterian Church where Adam preached.  These folks are old, dear friends, and it was so fun to visit with them again! When the kids were little, we spent many summer days together at camp.
The downtown square.  I should apologize for the total absence of "people pictures." I wanted to get photos of all our friends there, but I never remembered to take the pictures, when the time arose. Sigh.  Plus, it's still kind of weird to me to tell people to pose for a picture, and add, "It's for my blog." I can do it to my kids, but it's hard with other people.
Men, ice fishing. When I described the activity to Julia, she laughed. She thought I was kidding.
Iowa means big sky, great sunsets, and flat horizons.
Their church is really peaceful.
Adam & I stayed with the most wonderful young couple -- married less than a year, just bought a new home, expecting their first baby. We enjoyed them immensely. They bought the home from a lady who did ceramics, and this is the towel holder in the bathroom -- isn't it priceless?  I LOVE it!
The Iowa River, frozen over:
I was enchanted by this tiny town, with its miniature town hall. The white sign also indicates the Cotter Bank was in this building, in 1902. I was told that Cotter, Iowa is in the World Records Book for being the only town which has only a single road for ingress and egress.
I couldn't resist this pot of flowers on my hostess's morning windowsill. She says they're plastic.
But the beauty is real.