Thursday, 29 September 2011

nother short one

Well it's 11pm and I'm pooped, but Bob is schooling and so here we sit.

Tonight we had a real treat - the Mennonites came to our church. :-) We'd been told that they were sending a family to sing for us, and so expected maybe 8-10 people. We were wrong. There was a choir of about 40 young people, and several families came to watch and support the choir. There were more of "them" than of "us." And of course the singing was absolutely beautiful. A Capella, 4 part harmony, all crisp and clean. They did several contemporary songs that I recognized and a few old hymns. And afterward they stayed to visit. Now, the Anabaptists may be known for their cooking, which I'm sure is great, but they are really good at visiting. I had a nice in-depth conversation with Mrs. Y (whose husband and boys built our building), and got in a brief chat with a couple of others. They didn't seem distracted and in a hurry to get to someone or something else.

How did all this come about? Jesse (our deacon, if you have to put a title on it, I guess) and his wife have long been curious about the Mennonites in our community (they are a fairly recent addition), and like doing business with them in the two shops they have in town. When our family went to visit their church, Jesse really grilled us afterward, wanting to know about the singing, and the order of service, and everything. And apparently they did some singing at a funeral that Uncle Ken went to. So anyway, Jesse finally got up the nerve to ask somebody (probably their pastor/owner of the Huntsville Pantry), and they agreed to come out.

I'm so glad they did. :-)

Sunday, 25 September 2011


Yesterday I overheard two different young women as they held conversations that seemed slightly incongruous.

Both claim to be Christians.

One is going to a secular college to earn a degree in medicine, with the hopes of becoming a medical missionary.

The other is attending a Christian college to earn a teaching certificate so she can teach at a secular humanist school, while continuing to send her children off to other trained professionals.

Things that make me go "Hmmm."

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


When I was 17, my dad and I were privileged to stay for a week in Langshott Manor in England. Go ahead, click the link - I dare you. It was a little different then than now (was privately owned, for one thing), but just as nice. Anyway, I used to keep a diary, and I distinctly remember writing about how much I loved the place and that one day I hoped to find my own home as comfortable and welcome to me as that hotel was.

Today is the day!

Every time I walk through the door into my bedroom I smile and think to myself "I love this room!" And we're not even finished with it yet. I like everything about the room, from the bathroom tile to the bedroom bamboo floor; the two-tone purple, the simplicity of the bare walls, the natural stone of the back of the living room's fireplace, the soft bed with the Egyptian cotton sheets and my Granny's handmade quilt. The children are not allowed in the room, so it stays clean. It's tiny for a master bedroom, but that doesn't bother me. We still have some painting to do, followed by door and trim hanging, but I don't mind that. We have some major work still to do in the bathroom, but I know it will get done eventually.
One of these days I'll take a good picture and share with you, but for now it is my private retreat.

On to greater matters of contentment, which really manifests itself under less than ideal circumstances. We are a family of 9, living in 1300 square feet. Most people would consider that less than ideal, but it usually feels about right. I do get frustrated at the low ceiling, but that keeps us warm on chilly nights. We have enough room to eat and sleep and do all those things that we do in a house. We do have a lot of stuff in the building, and there are some toys that just can't be left out (train tracks or elaborate block buildings), but that's okay. We're getting organized (very slowly) and bring more things in all the time.

I'm not happy with my kitchen cabinets (made by amateurs 60 years ago), but I can live with that for a few more years until we can afford a fix, and I really enjoy the spaciousness of my kitchen. I like my garden and flower beds, and the lovely trees. We are still considered rural, but are only 5 minutes from town, and only 1 mile from the highway (in other words, perfect location). We do owe money on the house, but it is to MIL, and interest free.

I am content here. I think, really, we have it pretty good.

But then we get to talking to other people, who shall remain anonymous. Well, listening to other people talk, really. And we hear things like "2600 square feet" (exactly twice the size of our house, and only 2 people living there) coupled with "small living room" or even "no place to put" and "not enough closet space." And it agitates me. Partly because, to be honest, it stirs jealousy. And partly because I just can't get over how we all tend to think that we each have some terrible burden to bear that no one else can ever understand. And maybe it bothers me a little bit because it just seems rude for these things to be said in front of us. I mean, it'd be like a petite woman complaining to a medically obese woman about needing to lose 5 pounds to get ready for bikini season. Think about your audience, people! And there is one other matter, but it would ruin the anonymity of this situation.

So thanks for letting me vent. I really do like it here.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

pictoral review - my washer

So I've been planning this for a long time, and finally found my round to-it. (Most people claim they will do something when they GET a round to-it, but really they're just ashamed to admit that they've lost it.)

Remember when Bob proved his undying love for me by going shopping in the wee sma's of Black Friday? We snagged a new HE/Energy Star washer and dryer at Sears for 60% off. Now that I've had it almost a year, I feel qualified to give my honest review.

First off, I need to say that I don't know what the model number is. It's not printed on the machine anywhere. So there ya go.

Okay, what am I talking about?

What I like about it:

(top load is easy to get into, and with no agitator it is easy on clothes, holds more, and is as efficient as a front-loader)

(this is all one load!)

(This is the first bottle of detergent I've bought since we moved back to the US. I'm still using it! Yes, it's a big container, but we are 9, and it's been 10 months)

Things I don't like about it:

(THAT is also just one load. So my laundry room is always a mess.)

I really am pleased with the washer. The dryer's okay, too, but I haven't used it as much because it's still cheaper to use the line. Anyway, I like the pause (to add a garment), the soak, the delay start options. I like the cheerful little beeps it makes when I turn it on. We've had no issues at all with the mechanics. Thumbs UP.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

bummer day

(I wanted to title this "Tragedy" but didn't want to freak anybody out.)

This morning started out like any other. I didn't sleep well, and finally woke up about 6:30. I stumbled into the light only to realize the phone I'd taken to bed with me (so the post office could call when the chicks arrived) had gone dead. So I put it to charge, found the other phone (it had a half-charge) and sat down to read my Bible.

I was almost done with my chapter when the phone rang. I said, "Hello" and he said, "Hello, this is (insert name here) at the post office," and the phone went dead. At least I knew what he wanted. So I woke Bob up, and he agreed to make the trip into town to pick up the chicks. While he was gone, I read the weekly Psalm with the children and then we went out to set up the chick box. We'd just got finished when Bob came back.

One chick was dead upon arrival, and one has non-working legs and will be dead soon. The rest are lively and curious. Our breed list: 2 Buff Laced Polish, 3 Black Leghorn, 2 Black Polish, 2 Crevecoeur, 4 Fayoumi, 2 Exchequer Leghorn, 7 Lakenvelder, 2 White Jersey Giant, and 2 White La Fleche. So, quite an interesting mix! The Polish are the ones with frizzy "hair" on top instead of combs, and the Crevecoeur have mohawks. Jersey Giants look normal, but are more like the size of a turkey. Leghorns are very common, but the Exchequer color is rare (it's black and white). Oops, I lost track of the others, but they are all pretty and most of them are unusual.

Once the chicks were settled, I got Serenity and started on our walk. We had just past our property line when I saw a dead animal on the side of the road, and then it hit me: it was Tiger! I gave a yelp, and ran sobbing back home. Just hearing that he'd died might have elicited a few tears, but running into him like that all unexpectedly kinda hit me hard. Anyway, I managed to blurt out what was going on, and Bob went to collect the body while I cried with the children (mostly Riah).

Once Bob got back I went on with my walk, and we made it the full two miles! That's all the way to the highway and back. When I first started walking Serenity in the mornings, I was able to go 1.2 miles. To make it longer now, I will have to go the other direction. :-)

After breakfast we had a funeral - Bob even made a headstone - out under a big oak tree. We were spent by the time that was all over, and decided to go out for lunch.

McDonald's, and then some shopping just in Huntsville, and back home. We WERE planning to go to the Tulsa Zoo today, as it's a special deal for members, with free train rides and tours of the keepers' rooms, etc. But Bob was already hurting by the time we had lunch, and as emotionally drained as we were, we decided to just not.

Oh, also today our picture order came in, with portraits from our VBS, but the poster-size we'd ordered for our bedroom got mixed up in the lab, and instead of a sepia English village we had a color pic of a bride we'd never met! Bob emailed the company and they answered right away... they'll re-send our pic and said we could throw away the other.

So, now I guess it's time to fix supper. Comfort food, anyone? Funny, I don't care much for chicken casserole as a rule, but whenever I try to think of something comforting I always pull out Meemaw's chicken noodle casserole recipe.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

What I've been up to

Because I know you are all dying to hear. ;-)

The last 2 or 3 days I've been laid out with a terrible cold. I was wheezing, snorting, coughing, aching... and I slept like a kebab (rolling over and over). But today I feel much better.

The weather took a lovely turn on Sunday, coming down from 100* highs to 78*. At night it's been in the upper 40s. No rain involved in the front, just absolutely gorgeous temps.

We had Bob's family over on Monday (Labor Day - a government holiday), so of course we had to rearrange the furniture last week, as well as the shopping, cooking, and cleaning. And just to keep it interesting, when we were out on Friday I bought a box full of ripe peaches. So Friday night and Saturday I made peach jam. And to add to the challenge, Bob went to an auction Monday morning while the girls and I cleaned house. He bought an old coal forge and a 4 wheeler. Still rolling my eyes at that one, but the rest of the family enjoys it.

Today I sent off draft #1 of Bob's travel voucher. This is the paperwork to get him paid for the moving expenses. Good thing retirees are allowed a full year to get it filed. Bad thing that when we stopped at Tinker AFB way back in the Spring, the guy that is paid to help with this sort of thing decided he really didn't have to.

Thursday we get another set of baby chicks. We hope more of these will be girls, as every day more of the others look more like roosters. The "4-H chickens" (red sex link) are laying well, but the mixed batch hasn't started yet.

Along with the furniture rearranging, we finally got the children's computer hooked up, and they are very glad to relearn all their games.

I've planted some Fall garden seeds, a little too late, but one never knows. Broccoli, rutabaga, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, spinach, and cress. My tomatoes have recovered from the hornworm onslaught, but still aren't producing anything. My cucumbers were still going strong, but I finally got tired of making pickles, so started growing the cukes bigger for cinnamon pickles, and the vines are now slowly dying. The bell peppers never really did anything, and as the sweet potatoes vine closer the pepper plants wilt away. The herbs have done very well. I've used some fresh and dried some, and I need to trim them again!

Serenity is growing, and losing some of her black. I walk her every morning (except yesterday when I was too ill), and she is responding very well to me now. Still won't fetch anything. She and Tiger both have fleas, in spite of the Advantage Plus monthly treatment, so we are working on a solution for that.

So I guess I could say I've "been busy" but that leaves too much to the imagination. I've been reading "The Light and the Glory" by Peter Marshall, jr, and it is challenging me on several areas.

Last night Bob and I watched "Divided" the movie online for free at . VERY thought provoking. You should check it out and see if you agree with Christianity Today banning ads for it.

So anyway, it's lunch time. Bye!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Chicken poo: it's what's for dinner

Doesn't sound quite as nice as the advertising phrase "Beef: it's what's for dinner," does it?

We got a newsletter this week from the U of Arkansas agriculture extension service, and among tips for seeding pasture and keeping worms at bay was a brief notice. (I'd love to quote it directly, but have mislaid the paper.) It said that to offset the scarcity of hay this winter, farmers can feed their cows chicken litter!! Now I know that cows process their food several times, and beef is not the same as grass, but still... SOMEthing of the original has to remain!

ick. The more I know about agriculture, the less I want to eat anything from a conventional grocery store.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

still tired

I've been getting about 6 hours of sleep per night, walking the dog first thing in the morning, reading my Bible, having breakfast, working in the garden, making pickles... And then comes lunch and the rest of the day!

Today we were in town for several hours. Not long after getting home, I asked Taryn to start a load of laundry. After all, we're having people over on Monday and I don't want giant piles of dirty clothes. Anyway, after a few minutes she popped back in the kitchen wanting to know how to clean cat feces out of the dryer. Huh? Tiger had been shut in the dryer for at least the time we were in town! He is fine, just a little stinky. But any thought I had of having it all together is now long gone.

This is what happens when Bob preaches on humility.