Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A New President

In seven days, we will have a new president.


I don't know if I will bother to vote. Obama will certainly win this state, regardless of what I do.

I am, however, "bothering" to pray.

I remember back in 1992... Laura was born on October 8, 1992 into a family with a 16 month old and a 2 (almost 3) year old. My body was worn out from having babies, and I had a terrible time with post-partum hemorrhaging after Lulu was born. There was just no way to stay off my feet. When Shawn was home, I tried, though, because the bleeding was really very alarming; it came in such violent gushes for such long periods of time.

So that Tuesday night in November when Bill Clinton won the Whitehouse for the first time, I was in my bed with the baby, nursing, drinking herbal tea and watching the election on TV. After Shawn got the other two tucked away, he joined me. We watched state after state go for Clinton, and I just felt sick dread in my stomach as I held the baby and wondered what kind of a world we had brought her into.

Well, even with hindsight I think Bill Clinton looks like the All-American kid next to Barak Obama. Barak has a more pleasant speaking voice and is much more handsome. But he is scary. Oh, he is SCARY.

Are the rumors about his birth certificate true? I read that he has a Kenyan birth certificate. We all know that one of the few requirements for qualification to be president of the USA is to be a natural born citizen. It is surmised that Barak was born in Kenya to a Kenyan father. He was recently asked to provide a birth certificate, and he produced a computer printout of something that said he was born in Hawaii, but neglected such facts as his birthweight and the name and signature of the attending physician.

Good grief. We had to go through so much more than that just to apply for Laura's driving learner's permit. You have to have an OFFICIAL birth certificate, one that has the OFFICIAL embossment on it. If you don't, snippy ladies who can barely see over the tops of their glasses will pull political-clerk-rank on you and send you away empty handed. But apparently the rules do not apply for Obama. He can run for president with a lame computer printout to suffice for his proof of natural born citizenship. (BTW--McCain provided an official, embossed birth certificate when requested to do so.)

If they find out that Obama is not, indeed, a natural born citizen, but he has already won the election, what then?  If they took it away from Obama, I suppose we would end up with Joe Biden for our president, which would probably be a fate worse than any we have considered so far. Say good-bye to freedom of religion (if you are a Christian--everyone else will be OK). Say good-bye to freedom of speech (unless you are a pornographer), good-bye freedom of assembly and the right to bear arms. Oh, and also bid farewell to the right to keep the money you earn. You won't have that, either, although it never was listed in the Bill of Rights. I guess our forefathers didn't dream it would be necessary to say that people ought to have the right to keep their own stuff.

I get upset. Then I have to look to the Lord.

Psalm 33 was my comfort during the Clinton years.
"We wait in hope for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You." Psalm 33:20-22

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall Decorating

For the record, today Shannon turns 19. I had not even noticed that for past two weeks or so, since Laura turned 16 on the 8th, I have had a 16-year-old, a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old. Times are much better than when they were 0, 1 and 2.

I am not so much into fall decorating. Pumpkins are a hazard. One year when Shannon was around 7, we had a big birthday party and invited all the little girls from school, about 17 of them. We had four perfect pumpkins out on our step that year. The morning after the party, all four pumpkins were clean gone without a trace. I have always wondered whether someone from the party noticed how nice they were and came back and kyped them.

There have also been a number of years when our pumpkins have been smashed in the street. Why ours? When the rest of the neighbors' pumpkins were all intact? I never figured it out, but we stopped putting out pumpkins. We carve Jack-o-Lanterns on Halloween Eve and set them out for one night of flickering.

Many of my neighbors go all out for Halloween and buy fake cobwebby stuff and dead cornstalks. Personally, I have enough REAL spiderwebs in my shrubbery. Fall is a mess all on its own--you really don't need to add to the jumble. For instance, I have some perfectly Halloweeny looking dead marigolds in my front landscaping:

By the way, here is my house with the newly painted brown shutters. They were faded maroon vinyl, which was almost pink after about seven years of sun and rain. After we replaced the front door and put in one that is fiberglass stained to look like wood (I wrote about that), the pinky plastic shutters were truly hideous. So here's to a big improvement!

I am posting some more pictures of dead summer flowers. This is the perfect way to decorate for Halloween. It's free, it's effortless, it's already there! I'm not much for Halloween, but if I can get off this easy, well, why not?

Here is an ominous dead hanging basket.

Observe the eerily crisp brown plants on the right side in this combination planter.

What could be a better way to pave the way for small trick-or-treaters than yellowed hostas decaying on the path?

Who ever said I was a wet blanket when it comes to holiday decorating?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dog Poetry

This is our dog, Schubert. He is a very much loved dog, especially by the kids. You can do anything with him, and he is just relaxed and happy, no matter what. Even if he gets nervous, like when we take him to the vet, he just sort of goes "into himself" and doesn't bug anybody about it.

He has affectionately earned the nickname, "Schu." Or Shoo, as the case may be. It all sounds the same, which is my point. Schu is a very convenient name, as it rhymes with everything. For instance, Schu's accessories are all blue, and that rhymes. He also rhymes with true, new and dew, and Lu, which is what we call Laura.

Speaking of Laura, she was extolling the beauty of the name Schu just the other day. She said, "It's so great! Schu rhymes with 'you'... so in every song where it says, 'I love you' (and there are a lot of songs that say that), you can substitute, 'I love Schu,' and it always works!"

This, on the other hand, is Piper.

Poor Piper.

His name rhymes with nasty thinks like...
hyper (an unpleasant behavioral characteristic)
viper (a poisonous snake)
diaper (stinky when used)
riper (as in, the gas Piper passed was riper than the gas passed by the Schu)
sniper (one who hides on a roof and shoots people)

You get the idea.

No wonder he's a little tense.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Our Land

It might not be the best use of my time to journal right now.

But I am being good to myself.

This morning, painters came to paint the trim on our house. Our shutters are no longer faded burgundy vinyl. Now they are brown. I think they look nice. However, having a crew of painters on site is stressful to me. They open all the windows (well, they have to, to paint the sills). But then they smoke. I baked apple crisp to try to drown out the cigarette smell.

I was also working on laundry. At our house, there is always laundry. The head painter came and asked to use my laundry tub to do something with his brushes. I said, "Sure," and took him down to the basement... where I found that a dustcloth and two socks had fallen into the washtub and plugged it... so when the washer drained after the wash cycle and again after the rinse cycle, it had overflowed the laundry tub and flooded the basement floor.

Our basement is very cluttered. It is also very dusty. When you add about thirty gallons of water to the mix, you get a big mess.

I was very sad. I worked hard and moved everything to dry areas, using approximately thirteen towels to sop up all the wet. Maybe more. The painter tried to help by mopping. I'm sure he got up a bunch of water, but I felt like he was in my way. I needed to move things. I emailed an SOS to Shawn and he kindly came home and helped me move furniture and appliances so I could get into the last corners to dry things up.

Although the windows are all cracked open so the paint on the windowsills can dry, making it fairly cold in the house, I got warm working on that mess. I got a little hot under the collar, too. I wish people would be careful not to throw small cloth items into the laundry tub. This has happened before. I do not like it when this happens.

Anyway, the damage is mostly under control and I should be preparing for the Job study tomorrow. But I am taking a moment to "chill" and do some things that will make me feel happier... like eating a piece of apple crisp and writing about our land.

This is Jonathan getting ready to four-wheel out to see the land. Actually, he, Shawn and I all went together on the four-wheeler.

This is what our land looks like. There are about ten acres of arable land, which is currently covered with six-foot tall weeds. You can four-wheel through the weeds, but it would be very hard to walk through them, plus it would be easy to get lost since they are so high. As soon as we close on the property, we are going to have the weeds mowed down. Behind the weeds, we have about ten acres of forest... you can see the trees in the background. So if the economy fails, we can try to grow food and raise a few chickens, a couple pigs and maybe a cow on our front ten acres, and we can hunt deer in the back ten acres.

Here are Shawn and Jonathan exploring our woods. Did I just say "our woods"? I never even thought I'd own a swimming pool, and here we are looking at... woods. They are pretty wild; I'm sure we'll have to watch out for poison oak and poison ivy, and there are some very thorny wild rose type vines. But it is beautiful nonetheless, and Shawn and Jonno found a deer track. Jonno is already begging for a bow.

I can't believe this is happening to me.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Early morning frost

This morning I took Laura to school to take her PSAT. When I got home, the sun was just beginning to melt our first hard frost.

Those two leaves look like they're flirting with each other.

I tried to recapture the golden morning sun using photoshop. I'll get better at this with practice.

This reminds me of the Christmas Carol, "The Holly and the Ivy." Wouldn't Holly and Ivy be cute names for two little twin girls? How about Holly, Ivy and Lily for triplets?

Friday, October 17, 2008


Shawn hangs an axe on two nails in our garage.

The other day it fell down. It landed, blade-end down in a case of cans of low-sodium V-8 juice from Sam's Club. We saw no obvious damage, so we hung it back on its nails.

Today I noticed a can of V-8 sitting on the step outside the garage door. It was a slight distance from the case of cans. You could note that, if you were writing up a police report.

I ascertained that there was some dried tomato (well, V-8) juice on the top of the can. I picked up said can, and at the pressure of my hand, it could not hold its shape. It had a gash, invisible to the naked eye but very real. Tomato juice leaked on my hand like evidence.

Axe massacre, Ruthie-style.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More pictures from our dream date.

(For the explanation and commentary, please see the previous entry)

Better than Swiss gold.

The man of my dreams. And he left his Blackberry in the car!!!

Light through leaves.

Me, nestled beneath a tree.

Autumn blossoms.

Dream date

Shawn and I had the perfect date yesterday. Perfect. He took the day off work (well, so did I, I guess). It was a stunning central New York autumn day. We drove through the colors of fall, along Cayuga Lake, until we got to Ithaca, and then on to Robert Treman State Park, which is an uninspiring name for one of the most magical places on earth.

This was the view from the picnic table where we ate our lunch.

It is hard to capture the flavor of the colors with a camera. There were moments when I could hardly breathe from the beauty. Each corner we turned showed afternoon sun, leaves, rock and waterfall in a different way.

Each step of the path was a fantasy... like walking through a fairy tale. I felt as though I should be wearing a wayworn cotton dress with laces up the front.

FDR's DPW built these stone steps. They also built bridges and basins. Doesn't it look like a Tolkienian elf settlement?

Passing waterfall after waterfall, we bathed ourselves in the music of running water, crunching leaves under our feet, light streaming from unexpected western angles, sunspots dancing in the pines, and the smell of damp rocks.

I don't camp. But if I did, I would camp here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Disgruntled Dog

Piper says, "Darn."

For a better view of the expression on his face, click on the picture and manipulate your view until he is centered.

Before we got Schubert, Piper almost always stayed close to home. Upon the arrival of Schubert the Usurper, when Piper was toppled from his position as The Doggy of The World, Piper began to make breaks for "freedom" more often when we let him out.

So we tried leashing him. He became hoplessly tangled in the picnic table.

Oh well.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Tuesday after Bible study, I crash. I am exhausted.

I like to teach Bible studies like a tour guide... "And today we will visit this spectacular sight, and look at it from a number of angles." And then we do, examining scripture and drinking it in by the teaching power of the Holy Spirit.

Well, that was how I taught Hosea, and Psalms (certain selected ones). We surveyed the Bible together a couple of years ago, and then we did Matthew and the books of First and Second Kings. I loved it. I immersed myself in the scriptures during the week and arrived at class nervous and unsure, but still focused on a solid central idea and identifiable message each week.

Can I just say that studying Job is not the same?

First, it is not a book I can immerse myself in day after day. I leave study on Tuesday when it is over, and I don't even want to look at Job again. It is confusing, depressing and repetitive. In the part of the book where we are, the cycles of discussion between Job and his friends, you have to read with your back to the wall, adrenaline pumping, constantly evaluating: "What is true? What is right? Where is the mistake?" You know that Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar said things that were wrong and displeasing to God. You know because the Bible tells you in Job 42. But what exactly were their mistakes? We are finding them, but often they are cleverly hidden in smug words of purported knowledge and wisdom.

Second, I do not know this book. I am not familiar with the ins and outs. Before this study, I did not know the personalities of Job's friends, or their arguments, or even Job's. I am no tour guide. A fellow stomper-through-the-brush is more like it. And sometimes the path we tread one week looks suspiciously like the path we trod the previous week. I think this happens for two reasons... (1) Job is a repetitive book, largely, and... (2) Barring the book's own repetitive nature, we sometimes have to go back and re-wrestle with truths that were hard to absorb the previous week. This is tough medicine. Very tough.

So I get out and instead of feeling, as I so often felt last year, "Thank you Lord Jesus for the precious time we just shared in Your Word together," I often just feel like, "Whew." And then I sigh, exhale, puff out my cheeks and look at my Bible and have a melancholy wish that I didn't have to go right back to it. To Job.

You have to get away from something like that now and then. I try to read other passages, a Psalm when I am down, a passage in Isaiah (I've been reading a lot of Isaiah lately). Then there is the 3rd and 4th grade Sunday school class I have been teaching. They have been doing the partiarchs, and now we are moving into the judges. But somehow, Job seems to cast such a pallor over everything.

If I am not in God's will, I'm sure He will do something about it. He won't leave me to flounder indefinitely. I truly thought He was calling me to teach Job. I didn't even want to teach it, but I had the feeling that if I didn't, I would be dodging God's plan for me. I never thought I was smart enough to teach it, but I did trust that He could use even me, and gift me with what I needed for the task... but I am not sensing that I am gifted in this way at this time.

My prayer is that God will use this all in spite of me, that He will touch lives in spite of my shortcomings, that He will capture hearts in spite of my discouragement, and in the end that I, too, will find His blessing.

This was not at all what I was going to write about. I was going to write about four-wheeling with Shawn on our land. But this is what came out. Is that odd?

Monday, October 6, 2008


About a year ago we bought a new bed. This was occasioned by the fact that our previous bed had become rather too much like a bowl for us to continue to get a good night's sleep in it.

We gave the previous bed to Shannon. It was a very expensive bed, but it had not held up well. We do not know why this was. Shannon sleeps well in it. It always had been more comfortable for one person than for two.

Our new bed, the bed we bought last year, was not expensive. I don't remember exactly how much it cost, but it was well under $1000. (The other bed had been more than $1000, seven years earlier--one has a moral obligation to sleep on a bed for at least seven years, no matter how bad it is, you know). Our new bed is a foam bed, not a spring mattress. It is very comfortable. I loved it as soon as we got it.

There is a drawback, though. We didn't notice it for a long time because, you see, we bought the bed in the fall. It was fantastic in the fall, wonderful in the winter and spectacular in the spring... that is until spring started to turn to summer. In the summer, our foam bed became exceedingly hot. It reflected all our body heat back at us and did not absorb one cubic centimeter of sweat. We found ourselves awakening bathed in perspiration, tangled in soggy sheets, morning after morning. I almost (almost) started not minding so much when Shawn went out of town, because the bed was so much cooler without him.

Towards the end of summer, Shawn communicated to me that he was quite unhappy with the bed, and weary of waking up wet.

Since we are committed to sleep in the bed for at least 6 and 1/4 more years, I put my energies into finding a solution.

Did you know that you can buy a refrigerated mattress pad with cooling coils in it? They cost about $750, roughly as much as the bed cost in the first place, I think. So that solution was a no go.

There are also mattress covers (mattress pads) called "isocool" mattress pads. They run about $125. I thought one might be worth a try. But I kept looking for options, before I placed an order.

I ended up ordering a feather bed from It was $75. This was a good price point for a beginning solution, I thought. The literature suggested that feather beds allow for air circulation around your body, keeping you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The featherbed arrived quickly. I was surprised at how thick and pouffy it was. I washed the cover that came with it, and put it on the feather bed. Then I swathed the thing in one of my favorite L.L.Bean fitted cotton sheets and placed it on top of our mattress.

It is like sleeping on a cloud. We love it. Of course, it is October, so it may not be a fair test of coolness, but this is THE most comfortable thing I can imagine. I no longer understand why anybody would buy a pillow top mattress, ever, when you could buy a $75 feather bed instead, and shake it and fluff it every morning, and replace it if it wears out, not having to buy a whole new mattress.

This featherbed makes for the best sleeping, and on top of that, it is just pure fun. It's fun to shake it in the morning and see it billow up like a parachute. It's especially fun if you shake it with somebody else, as hard as you both can shake, laughing across the bed at each other like a couple of three year olds. It is fun to think about the princess and the pea. It is fun to make the bed and see it all puffy and high under the quilt, like something on display in an antique home.

So, that was a good purchase.

Another purchase is now truly in the works. We are purchasing the twenty acres of land I wrote about earlier. I hope this will also be a good purchase. I remember about fourteen years ago, we needed a new house and we needed a new car, and nothing was coming together... so we bought a leather recliner. To be completely honest and fair, I have always loved this recliner. I feel affectionate towards it in that it somehow helped in taking the edge off the fear I felt over making a major purchase. A year later, we bought the home we live in now.

This has been a good home for us. I have been serenely happy here for many years. It is a nice neighborhood, and the people are good people to live around. I even have some Christian neighbors! Our house is exactly the floor plan that I wanted at the time, and it has worked very well. The only two things I have wished for are... (#1) a closet where I could store my vacuum, and (#2) a little more bedroom space for the boys. Otherwise, this house has been just about as perfect as it could get (well, since we redesigned the kitchen it has been).

So you can see that it would be terrifying beyond belief for me to think about moving out to the country, far from Wegman's and WalMart and the mall, far from school and gas stations and banks. Right now, we live within 5-10 minutes of everything, including church, except Shannon's college (~ 25 minutes) and Shawn's office (~20 minutes). And we live in a quiet suburban enclave with nicely landscaped homes and--amazingly--largely two-parent, intact families.

For awhile, it didn't look like we were going to get the land. I was at peace with that. I figured, as God wills, it will happen. I could be patient. Maybe God had a different plan.

As events have unfolded, it is clear that God is in control, directing our paths. I need to continue to have patient faith, to wait in anticipation to see what God will do. Although I am frightened, I know that God is for me, and He has a plan. My prayer is that we can build a home with a sort of in-law apartment for my parents, and that they will be able to move in with us and live with us in their last years. If that were how God would "give back the years the locusts have eaten"... all the years that I have longed to be near them and have my children know them and love them... that would be so much more than a dream come true.

I don't know if that will happen. I don't know what God's plans are. I need to trust and be strong and courageous.

The signed purchase agreement is currently on our lawyer's desk.

It's hard to be brave when you are such a small animal.
~Piglet, Winnie the Pooh

Friday, October 3, 2008

Banning books

I wonder, sometimes, why people have been so up at arms about the Harry Potter books, and yet they never say anything about Edgar Allen Poe. In my humble opinion, Edgar Allen Poe is a lot creepier and more demonic than J.K. Rowling.

My daughter is reading Huckleberry Finn this year, which was banned. I am glad she is reading it. She will also read The Scarlet Letter before the year is over.

If the economy fails and the country goes socialist, I hope we will still have religious freedom. I don't suppose we will. If we socialize medicine, I expect the state-run hospitals will be minus the chapels and chaplains. That is a very sad thought.

I feel rather doom and gloom today... perhaps because it has been raining for about two weeks straight. If the weather ever clears, I would like to go for a hike somewhere with golden leaves. I would also like to pick some apples. Today I baked pumpkin bread and I also tried a pumpkin waffle recipe. The scent of clove lingers in the air and on my tongue.

Lulu will be 16 next week. My third baby. It goes so fast. So fast. I have less than a year left with DJ, and less than two years left with Lulu. How should we spend the time? When you want so desperately for things to be precious, you sabotage yourself--you can't relax and enjoy the moment because you want it to be perfect and therefore you spoil it entirely, every time. Well, maybe you don't, but I do.

How I got here from Edgar Allen Poe, I'll never know. It's Friday and we have no plans. I want to live, to do things, to be active and happy and busy with goodness. Instead, my only anticipation is the opportunity to sleep in on Saturday morning. That's OK once in awhile, but a life lived like this is draining.

How do you come alive whan you are oh, so tired and overwhelmed and lonely? How do you get up and out?

I would not suggest reading Edgar Allen Poe.

Is that a start?

I think studying Job is getting to me.

Dear Jesus, please help me not to waste this life You've given me. Please show me Your will and give me the energy and courage to do it. Please bring light and joy into my days.