Saturday, April 30, 2011


Sorry to do these so often, but the interesting online reads just keep coming, and my tab bar across the top of my screen fills up! Here are a few:

Narcissism among Evangelicals -- Narcissism seems to be the going disorder in our culture, but this article addresses its presence in the church.

Leprosy -- Think twice before you touch that armadillo at the petting zoo ....

China's population drop -- This is a catch-up on how world populations are running, especially China and India. "Fertility has dropped to an alarmingly low level, putting China at the level of Spain and close to Germany."

At last! The birth certificate!  It's taken years, but finally Obama has decided to show the world his birth certificate. I suppose we have Donald Trump to thank for this?

That's a doozie of an afternoon drive -- Over the South Rim, and into a tree!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dashing to Tennessee

Huge tornadoes ripped across large swaths of the Southeast yesterday. The devastation has been enormous. Areas of Chattanooga and its environs were hit hard, and power is out in the area.  My son Philip is in college on Lookout Mountain, and although there was no damage to the college campus, they have no power, and only about a day's worth of water. So the administration is evacuating the campus. Basically, school is canceled for the remainder of the year. (They were to start exams tomorrow.) I believe the professors will be finishing up with their students via email, and graduation will continue as planned. 

But I have to go get my boy! Julia and I will take off bright and early tomorrow morning, and hopefully be home in the early evening. About 12 hours in the car. I'm glad he can help drive on the way back.

So, expect no posts, interesting or otherwise, from me tomorrow. But soon our house will be full again!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Bees Are Capping Brood

Adam told me he would NOT mess with his bees or open up their hives, until Friday. Ha.
Today he checked to see if they were capping brood -- in other words, if they were covering up the comb cells where the queen has laid her baby bees. The bees who tend to the babies are (you guessed it!) "nurse bees." They feed the larvae. If you look closely in these little holes, you'll see some white bee larvae, curled up in a "fetal" position. In other little holes, the bees have already capped the larvae; they put wax over the larvae cell after they've adequately fed the baby bee, and let it grow.
Adam loves to look at his bees. Here he inspects one of the many frames of comb that the bees have drawn in the past 10 days.
Look at this frame. The bees have drawn a double comb. This is rather inconvenient for Adam, and sometimes this makes the frames stick together.
Adam removed a couple of loose pieces of comb, with some "bee bread" in them. The bee bread is the dark orange - it looks almost like ear wax. The bees make it out of pollen and nectar. They feed it to the larvae. Nursery supper!
On this frame, see the lighter orange in the center? That's brood.  See the darker orange around it? That's bee bread. The white cells have brood in them too. The brood cells get darker and darker, as the larvae are fed. The bees reuse the brood cells over and over, and they darken more. Later those cells may have honey in them also, after the larvae have all hatched out.
The girls like to see the bees too.
Adam restacked his hives, and put new sugar water in there for the bees to drink.
Then we strolled back to the garden. Here's an early strawberry.  Sorry that my camera just could not focus on it.
And the first radish.  Adam said the dirt tasted a bit gritty :)  And it's not hot enough for him yet.  But it's a radish! The first thing we've eaten from the garden this year!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Overflowing Blogasbord

Teen Fakes Pregnancy for School Project -- This is one gutsy girl. Thinking outside the box this way will get her a fellowship or grant or something, for college.

Taxi Ride from Coast to Coast -- (video) If you have a spare $7000 sitting around, this is one fun way to spend it.

Antifreeze in your Ice Cream? -- Not sure how alarmed to get over this, but I'm rethinking making our own ice cream from now on.

Year of Plenty -- One family decides to spend a full year eating nothing but local or homemade, and wearing nothing but used. In other words -- recycling and avoiding consumerism totally. Turned it into a book. I like the writing style.

Vanya Has a Family at Last! -- "No Greater Joy" blog mom tells the latest on the adoption of this adorable Ukranian boy. If you've been keeping up with this story (or not), you should read. The world of international adoption among Christians is such an amazing place.

"How Easter and Christianity Undermine Atheism" -- An excellent article from USA Today, an unlikely source! Did you know atheism has doubled in the U.S. in the past decade? The number of self-proclaimed Christians has declined by 15%. 20% of Americans claim no religious identity whatsoever, according to the writer. But this is an exciting, convicting article about what it means to believe in God.

World Magazine examines the many ways in which modern technological "reading" may be undermining the ways in which we effectively gain knowledge and information. A good read. One quote: "It’s input-based, in that the “reader” is shaping his own reading “experience.” He’s punching buttons to get the desired content, not taking time to have a conversation with the content as it is. He is acting on the media, rather than allowing the media act on him." In other words, the reader (if you can call this reading) is forcing the content into what he wants it to be, to meet his immediate needs for information, instead of allowing the content itself to be boss, and allowing himself to be instructed by it. Such a huge difference.

Our Garden

It's high time I got a good record of our garden thus far. Here's the plot. It's on the back of our property.
I'll start with the row closest to us, in that first shot. It has a loose trellis-work. These are sweet peas.
Just on the other side of the trellis from the peas, is this little fella.  Give you three guesses what he is!! Not a melon! Not a squash! It's a loofah. My neighbor gave us seeds last fall, and two of them have come up. I want to use loofah in my soap-making.
Three rows of radishes. Adam is the radish lover in the family.
Three rows of a bib-type lettuce, I think.
These are rather thin and faint, but they are three rows of little green onions.
More lettuce -- a curly type.
These were a surprise; they're potatoes. I put them in last year, but they didn't do anything, so I left them alone, and now they've come back. Will we get potatoes? I don't know, but they were free, so we'll let them grow. They were old, squishy potatoes in the pantry with eyes coming out all over.
The lone plant is an eggplant. The next two are peppers. The four on the right are brussel sprouts. Ick!
Three rows of spinach. I'm eager for spinach -- lots of protein!
These are cabbages on the right, and at least one more eggplant down there. We may have some cauliflower too. I don't recall.
Cucumbers. One is for pickling (small ones) and some are burpless, for eating straight. I see some snooty cucumber sandwiches in my future!
This is the strawberry bed. It was in such a state -- abominably weedy! Adam dug the entire bed out, strawberry plants and all. He removed all weeds, turned the soil over, and replanted the strawberries.  They seem to be doing fine.
Tomatoes, ah tomatoes. This is one we got from a local organic farm. This is an Amish paste tomato. We have two of these, in the garden already.
And here are the remaining tomatoes. The two large ones (also from the organic guy) are a Mortgage Lifter and a Tommy Toe/cherry variety. The remaining ones are my heirloom Brandywines, twenty-one of them. About half are for my neighbor, if she wants them. As you see, they have some catching up to do. But the four larger plants were started earlier and grown under cold frames or in a greenhouse.
And here's our herb garden:  two basil, two clumps of oregano, and two clumps of sage. One lonely stalk of rosemary. These plants were elsewhere, and we finally -- finally! -- moved them here, right next to the back door. I don't know why it took me forever to do this; it's the logical place for them. But I had them in pots (which they didn't like particularly), so I could move them around into more or less sun, as was needed. This is a rather sunny spot, and the impatiens I had here were hating it, after only a week. Poor things! We'll see if it's just right for these guys.
There's our garden! We seem to be expanding each year a bit. This year we know we'll be here for a full year, so we feel free to let our gardening urges fly. Adam seems to be developing a green thumb. I'm strictly a spring/autumn gardener. I detest heat and mosquitoes.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jaguar XJ6

We needed a 2nd vehicle for Adam to drive to his new job, and he found this!
Granted, a 1986 is a little old, but she runs very well. She has only 110,000 miles on her. The paint job (although brown) is fairly new and nice. The upholstery has been redone inside. There are a few very minor things to fix (brake light fuse, etc.), but nothing serious.
The sun roof works. Battery and tires are good. Adam took along his manuals for our other Jag (that didn't survive. sniff) to check this one out, so he feels very good about it. And the really good news? He bought it for $1500 LESS than what the owner had paid for it, 4 years ago, and what it's still worth. I think they were in a hurry to get it out of their driveway. She was tired of it, and had a brand new car she liked better.
Adam said the owner told him that the A/C didn't work, which was a disappointment. I don't like driving in the summer heat. Then --- Adam was checking fuses and cleaned the A/C compressor, and afterward, the A/C worked after all! Can you believe it!? This will be our new date car. When we're older, and the kids are gone, this will be our "touring" car. Somehow I feel we'll have little time for touring. Still, it's a nice thought.
Julia shows off the upholstery. We haven't settled on a name for her.  I'm thinking "Fiona."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why Strangers Are Useful

I wrote a post a few days ago, but didn't put it here. It was a whiny post. It was my "I've-been-through-so-much-trial-and-now-I-want-to-tell-everyone-about-it" post. Yes, the past 2 years or so have been hard, with Adam looking unsuccessfully for a job. Yes, we were without any income for a bit, and yes, we're happy that he now has a position.

But I didn't handle it well.

And I'm glad I didn't post that thing.

Because I need to look at myself in the mirror and remind myself that my trials are rather small, compared to some. And I'm not just talking about the Christians in North Korea, China, and all those Muslim countries, who are being tortured and murdered.

There are women just like me, who suffer so much more. Strangers, but sisters. Sisters in Christ.

Jessica Council, who sacrificed her own life to save her unborn baby. A beautiful, 30 year old lady who chose not to treat her cancer, so that her baby would have the best chance at life. Jessica died, chose to die. God gave her that situation, and gave her that choice, and it was a terrible, awful one.

Today I read about Heather George, a cancer survivor - brain cancer. God put her through that trial, and then soon put her through a greater one -- a new baby with a heart condition that required a transplant, and so much treatment, and then Autism. And two days ago, that little girl died.

I am ashamed of myself for griping and moping and sorrowing over our situation. It's been difficult for me, but honestly I should have handled it SO much better. I struggled with trust, after all God has done to win my trust in the past! I gave up hope, when God has done everything to give me eternal hope. I felt my life was wasted, after all the blessings He's given us.

I'm thankful for strangers. I know God didn't give Jessica and Heather these sorrows for my sake, but I want to glean some benefit from seeing them, their faith, their strength. It sorrows me to know how faithless I have been.

Heather said, "I also have come to realize that none of us are promised a tomorrow, and today is way too precious to waste on frivolous emotions." I've wasted time on frivolous emotions. Time to change that.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Fun Next Door

I warned my neighbors that I would be arriving with my camera to make a blog record of all the neat things they're up to, over there. So, here we go!
Ali decided she wanted a garden, and after much research, opted for this interesting arrangement of raised beds with a special soil mixture. A family member (I think) came and built the bench (in the middle) with the natural twig trellis, and an L-shaped bed on each side. In addition, there are asparagus beds, lavender bushes, watermelon hills, and many other fun additions to this garden spot. And -- do you see that cute tiki bar up at the top of the hill?  Arnold built that himself.  I tell you, our yard is like an ill-kept jungle compared to these two! We love to go nosing around and seeing what they're up to.
Here's the L-shaped bed on the left. Ali had some spare pavers, so she made the curved bed up front for some of her more invasive plants.
That's some lovely soil.
Ali found this chair being thrown out. Doesn't it look gorgeous with plants in its seat?  Such a fun idea! She also uses a number of these clay chimney inserts to give structure and height to some of her larger plants.
Adam and Arnold examine the fence that Arnold put up today. They'll put some mesh wire along the bottom of it, to keep animals out of the garden area.
Here's one of the prettiest garden ideas I've seen; Ali found it online. It's just an old pallet, with landscape fabric stapled all underneath and along the sides, to hold the soil in. She put the plants in groups according to color. It's ideal for patio gardens and limited space, because after these plants' roots have developed, you can stand this up on its side, against a wall or fence. Really beautiful, don't you think?
Last year, they decided to add chickens to their menagerie. Arnold built this whole chicken complex. (The tree house was already there for the kids.)
This is the adorable chicken house. Love the red! Doors open on both sides for easy removal of eggs.
Here are some of the newer additions to their flock.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Feeling Grounded

Debbie, over at Artful Aspirations, wrote an interesting post about "feeling grounded." You know what this feeling is:  moments when you're internally calm, peaceful, in sync with your world. Life feels "right." You have a certainty of who you are, and what you're doing.
 Debbie made a list of activities that make her feel grounded. For her, it helps as an artist; her art is improved and her spirit made more creative, when she's first grounded.

What helps me feel grounded? Often they're slow, contemplative tasks. And when I neglect doing them, my mind becomes frazzles, harried, unfocused. My list:

1. Staring out the window, watching the trees or listening to the rain (Okay, that's embarrassing, but it's the truth.)
2. Since last fall, when I started doing this, sitting each morning in my "devotional" chair, reading the Bible, beginning my day with that few minutes of quiet.
3. Doing dishes
4. Folding laundry
5. Writing. I think that's why I enjoy blogging.
6. Playing the piano
7. Reading

I'm sorry to say I think I need more of these activities. Because I'm basically a nervous person, and internally high-strung, I need a lot of grounding, focusing activities to keep me on an even keel.

What about you? Make a list of activities that keep you grounded. Do you need to spend more time doing them?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bedtime Snack on the Blogasbord

I have some offerings from World Magazine for you:

Chick Fil A -- our favorite chicken sandwich is under fire for doing a good deed. This article irritated me to no end. Why should they be punished, and whole universities ordered to forgo supporting their business, because they donated food for people trying to be good spouses? Ugh.

The veil -- I found this article very informative about Muslim veils on women.

Student Loans -- I found Mish's assessment very disturbing, considering I have one college student, and am about to have a second, and then quickly a third. Are gov't student loans the next economic "bubble" disaster?

Sleep deprivation -- Six or seven hours a night is NOT enough.

The Hot-Button Issue -- Did you know that 1/4 of Americans think that Obama was born in another country? Have you looked into the birther issue? Do you feel certain either way, or are you just relying on your favorite political pundit to sway your view?

Mason Jar Soap Dispenser -- This looks like a fun do-it-yourself project. I like the look, don't you?

What Accompanied the Pasta

That soft pasta was boiled in a large pot.
And here's the sauce Adam chose from his Pasta Cookbook -- a bacon butter sauce. It has:
5 pieces of bacon, cut small
3 pieces of ham, cut small
2 carrots, julienned
1 big slice of onion, diced small
olive oil
Saute the above until bacon is cooked to desired level, and carrots are caramelized. Then add one stick of butter at the end, and melt.
Adam carefully applied the olive oil/butter to the pasta first, coating it well. Then he added the bacon, etc., one spoonful at a time, blending it evenly into the pasta.
I'll admit:  I was very hesitant about this sauce. It didn't look like much. I'm fond of bacon (who isn't?), but I'd never seen such a thing before. In the pasta, it looked better.
Then he grated parmesan cheese and added fresh basil. Oh, yes.

Pasta, Fresh

Adam volunteered to cook dinner, and decided early on that it was a pasta-making day. He and Julia pulled out the machine. He made up the dough: flour, eggs, water, a little oil, a little salt.
They put it through the machine repeatedly, until it's lengthened and thin, in sheets.
Then the final pass, he adjusts it to cut the pasta sheets into thin strips.
He draws it out smoothly.
He rolls it immediately in flour to keep it dry and the strands separated.
Fresh pasta. It's delicious just as it is, raw. Now, Adam's in the kitchen cooking some kind of quick sauce to go on it, with bacon and carrots. You just never know with that man!