Thursday, March 26, 2009

Watership Down, a review

Watership Down, by Richard Adams, is just about a perfect book.

The rhythm is wonderful, allowing the book to last for much longer than the average suspense novel. You can actually read a chapter or two and then put it down to come back to later... and even in so doing, you will neither lose interest nor forget the characters. A book about rabbits, it is masterfully crafted throughout to mimic the brain patterns of a rabbit, which is one of its most stunning features. Now and then, in the last section, it slips into a more straightforward, human-type prose, but that is appropriate for the timing and rhythm of the book as well, a rousing final movement to this stirring lapine symphony.

The author writes a compelling forward, explaining how he told these stories to his children in the car on long drives through the country. I can only imagine that his imagination was stirred dually by the scenery of the English countryside and his memories of Peter Rabbit from his own childhood. Watership Down is what I would call Peter Rabbit on steroids. A British man thought of the old Beatrix Potter rabbit stories and then thought, "And what would it take to make these really interesting...?" Suddenly we have big strong buck rabbits-of-war on an epic odyssey, scheming for territory and fighting for their freedom (and sometimes even their lives).

This book made me laugh out loud. I sobbed through a few chapters, and other chapters literally raised the hair on the back of my neck. When you think you can't stand it anymore, Adams inserts a rabbit storyteller with a tale about El-ahrairah, the most fabled rabbit trickster of all time (yes, he even outdoes Br'er Rabbit), to change up the pace and give you a breather, entertaining all the while.

I was sad when I finished this book, because I had enjoyed it so much. But even so, the end was written in such a way that I felt finished and satisfied, like an American after a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. Speaking of Americans, why is it that the British always outwrite us like this?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

1 Peter 3:18-22

It was inevitable. We are studying 1 Peter, so of course we had to come to this.

1 Peter 3:18-22
For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God's right hand--with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
It is only a group of four little verses, but oh, what trouble these four verses have caused for theologians thoughout the ages.

The first sentence is straightforward and fairly easy to understand. For all those who are able to grasp the gospel message, here it is, in simple, plain words. "For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God."

But then, oh then, what fantastic turns Peter takes. Oh my!

"He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God."

Well. Now we see why this isn't the classic text that pastors and teachers use to explain how salvation works.

There are three main questions that theologians have tried to answer over the years:

1. Who are the spirits in prison?
2. When did Jesus preach to them?
3. What did Jesus preach to them?

There are a number of possible answers for each of these questions, and through the ensuing combinations, one can come up with a multiplicity of possible interpretations of the passage.

The traditional interpretation, which was most widespread in the early church, was that between Jesus' death and resurrection (during the three days his body was in the tomb), Jesus went in disembodied form (his Spirit) to the underworld and there proclaimed His victory over sin, with the result that unbelievers such as those who mocked Noah before the flood were shamed to learn how wrong they had been to resist God and mistreat His prophets.

This view sufficiently answers questions 1 and 2 above, but it does not provide a helpful answer to question 3. If these spirits are those of people who rejected the message of salvation during their lifetime, and they were already in hell, what would be the point of Jesus preaching anything to them? As they were already "in prison," would they not already realize how wrong they had been?

Some have postulated that this may indicate that there is another chance for a person to turn from sin, even after death, but the body of scripture certainly does not support such an idea elsewhere.

Another take on the "traditional" view is described in the notes in my Application Study Bible: "The traditional interpretation is that Christ, between his death and resurrection, announced salvation to God's faithful followers who had been waiting for their salvation during the whole Old Testament era." The obvious problem with this is that the scripture says, "the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago." It is tremendously difficult for me to imagine that God would refer to his faithful followers from the Old Testament era with such words. I suppose it is possible, since we have all been born in sin and have all lived disobediently. But it seems unlikely to me that "the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago" describes God's faithful followers from the Old Testament.

Some people think that the disobedient spirits are fallen angels, but since when did God ever wait patiently for the repentence of fallen angels (a.k.a. demons)?

There is another view which, although it is convoluted and complicated, does seem to make a certain amount of sense. Let me see if I can explain it.

The passage says that the Spirit which raised Christ from the dead was the same Spirit through which He went and preached to the "spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago." It does not actually say that the going and preaching to the other (disobedient) spirits happened immediately after Christ was restored to life in His Spirit. Earlier in 1 Peter, Peter wrote: "...the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing..." (from 1 Peter 1:10-11). This could indicate that what Peter means is that the Spirit of Christ was in Noah, proclaiming to Noah's generation the grace that could be gained by those who would put their faith in God. The Spirit of Jesus was there, in Noah, before the flood, bearing witness to the opportunity of salvation for those who would believe, but those who refused to hear are now disobedient spirits in prison (in other words, condemned souls in hell). In this interpretation, we must understand, then, that when Peter says "spirits in prison who disobeyed" he is referring to their condition at the present time, not at the time when Jesus' Spirit proclaimed the offer of salvation to them.

This interpretation makes a certain amount of sense to me, possibly the most sense, because it offers what I think is a reasonable answer to all three of the questions above. However, it is a messy kind of answer, and I wish it were neater and easier to assemble.

We have answered a few questions, but we are not out of the woods yet.

The next passage in question is 1 Peter 3:20-21,

"who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water,
and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ,"

Here is how I understand it. At the time of the flood, God purged the world of evil people. His wrath was physically, materially poured out on earth, and the wicked were physically, materially washed away in the flood. At that time, God preserved a remnant, Noah and his family. “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” (Genesis 6:8). God saved Noah and his family in the ark, miraculously preserving them from the judgment that was poured out all around them.

This is a picture of the salvation of those who are in Christ, how we will be carried safely through the final judgment (which the Bible says will come with fire rather than water, 2 Peter 3:6-7). Just as faith in Jesus is the only way to attain salvation through right standing with God (“I am the way, the truth and the life…” John 14:6), there was only one way for people to escape the wrath of God in the time of Noah—one ark, one door in the ark. Just as faith in Jesus seems foolish to many (see 1 Peter 2:7-8), it seemed foolish to the people of Noah’s day that Noah would build an ark and get into it.

So far, we have looked at the ark as a microcosm of the great spiritual truth of what God has done (is doing/will do) for all believers through Christ Jesus. However, we can also look at the ark as a macrocosm of what God does in each one of us, individually, when He saves us.

Remember 1 Peter 2:24—“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness…” When we accept Christ, we die to sins. We die to our old way of life. Romans 8:13 says, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.” Colossians 3:5 says, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” Galatians 5:24 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” And Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

The washing of the earth at the time of the flood is a picture of the washing of our hearts and souls when we repent and turn to Jesus. He washes away, cuts off, purges the bad stuff (Ezekiel says he removes the heart of stone. 36:26), washes it all away the way He washed away the sinful people at the time of the flood.

As the ark, a thing that was built only by the initiation and direction of God, remained safe after the flood had subsided, our newly conceived spiritual life remains safe after our spiritual cleansing, a new kernel that He has breathed life into by His Spirit (the “new birth” that we see in 1 Peter 1:3; in John’s gospel, chapter 3, Jesus calls this being “born again” in verses 3-8). This is why when Peter mentions the water of baptism, he clarifies—“not the removal of dirt from the body” (from 1 Peter 3:21)—it isn’t an outward thing. It is the spiritual event that has taken place in our spirit. The outward act of baptism symbolizes what has happened on the inside of us and is a sign to other Christians of the change that has taken place invisibly—“the pledge of a good conscience toward God,” (also from 1 Peter 3:21).

After the flood, God brought Noah and his family out of the ark and told them to multiply and fill the newly cleansed earth (Genesis 8:15-17, 9:1). This is similar to (a macrocosm of) the promise that new life will grow in us. When we accept Christ, we do not only die to sins, we also live for righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” This is our new life in Christ, the salvation that is taking place in us, presently, by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 1:2). A newly born spiritual child is growing toward maturity, repopulating, if you will, the physical body that once held the “old self” (Colossians 3:9-10). Ezekiel makes it about the clearest of anyone: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dorky dreams

Last night I dreamed about cooking brown basmati rice.

I bought some yesterday for DJ. He is such a health nut. Today in his lunch he packed two sandwiches made of roast turkey breast (the real kind without nitrates, I roasted it myself) and 100% whole wheat bread. Period. No butter. No mayo. No mustard. No salt. (I probably could have talked him into adding some leaves of romaine lettuce, but I didn't think of that.) I asked him if that wasn't rather an unappetizing lunch and he said, "Well, when you are used to eating raw eggs, oatmeal flakes and skim milk warmed in the microwave, and poorly dissolved chunks of whey protein powder in water, turkey breast on whole wheat is a real treat."

No wonder he eats 6-7 pounds of fruit every week.

So anyway, I try to cook things he will enjoy, and he is a good eater. The only things he won't eat are the unhealthy ones, like refined pasta and pizza made with white flour.

So I bought brown basmati rice. The package didn't even have any directions on it, so I looked it up on the internet when I got home. What I learned was...

1. Brown rice isn't all that good for you, not that much better than white rice, although it does have more fiber and a better (lower) glycemic index, which means it takes longer to metabolize and is less likely to spike your blood sugar, and also less likely to make you fat.

2. Brown rice is tricky to cook nicely.

3. There are many, many methods and preferences for the preparation of brown rice, and many different expectations for how it ought to turn out. I guess this is a good thing. Maybe however it comes out, I can say, "It's supposed to be this way." Hmmm.

4. You can cook it the way you cook white rice, only double or triple the cooking time. Or, one person claimed to cook it exactly the way you cook white rice, with good results. Some people oven bake it with water in an open dish.

5. The most intriguing method for cooking brown rice was described as cooking it "like pasta" in a large amount of boiling, salted water, and then draining it when it is tender. I want to try this, but I don't know if I have a collander with small enough holes to drain rice. Hence my dorky dream...

I must have been rather concerned about this rice issue, because all night I was cooking rice, boiling it and trying to figure out how to drain it. I went looking for a cheesecloth with which to line my collander. This is odd, because I have never had a cheesecloth, and "in real life" I would probably have to use a thin kitchen towel or a pillow slip or something.

(BTW: To finish a sentence with "or something..." is a Minnesota-ism.)

I wonder if there is a deeper underlying issue at stake here.

Anyway, it beats cat dreams. I am phobic of cats, and at stress-points in my life, or when I sleep in an overheated room, I dream horrible cat dreams and wake up in a shaking sweat.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Watership Down

I am reading the book Watership Down on a recommendation from my sister-in-law, Wendy. It is a book about rabbits, and I like it quite a lot. The main charaters are two rabbits named Hazel and Fiver. I'm going nuts because I read a book that referred to Hazel and Fiver (a while back), and I had no idea who they were or what the reference was. Now I know about Hazel and Fiver, but I can't remember what book it was that mentioned them. Augh. This is my life.

No, really, I have a lot to be thankful for.

Laura is healing. The process has been more slow that I would have hoped, but she is coming along. She has done well on a couple of tests she took at school since the accident, but she does have some trouble with word recall. It was actually kind of funny the other night when we heard her calling from the shower, "I need some help... We're out of... can somebody please get me some of that stuff... it's not conditioner, but the stuff you use to actually wash your hair."

When she can't come up with a word, she is still her smart, funny self, and it is almost like playing catch-phrase to try to figure out what she means by the clues she gives, which are invariably good ones. The nurse at the concussion clinic assured me that this is all very much normal for her situation, and it will go away with time. Until then, her biology teacher has been incredibly decent about letting her off the hook for vocabulary quizzes. I guess a biologist has special knowledge of and interest in brain injuries.

Speaking of brain injuries and literature (I'm about to work a simply magical segue; just watch...), I am going to help Laura with her English class by reading some of The Scarlet Letter to her. Fun times. I think I like rabbit books better.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lions and lambs

Yesterday it was almost 60 degrees. Today it is only about 24 degrees. However, the wind is just as strong as before, bitter and biting now with the decrease in degrees. As a child, I was taught that March is... "in like a lion, out like a lamb." In all my born days, I have no conscious memory of March ever going out like a lamb. It has sometimes come in like a lamb and then turned bitter cold. It usually seems to come in like a lion and go out like a lion, blizzards and all. Now and then there is a warm spell in mid-March. Honestly, though, I don't ever remember smooth sailing to April Fool's Day.

(In case you did not notice, I am trying to use reverse psychology on the weather.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

March 11

Today is sunny and windy and warm for March in central New York, probably nearly 60 degrees. I was out getting the mail, and I decided to rake just a tad, just because the grass was so matted down and ugly. While the forceful, frigid flurry whipped my hair around beneath the bright blue sky, my mind mused on how I was experiencing a storybook quality March day. You know, the kind of day depicted by a watercolor of a father and his son at the park with a kite, captioned with a clever (yet educational) statement about March winds.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Fabulous Crockpot Chicken

I have never been a fan of boneless, skinless chicken breast. It just doesn’t taste very good, and it’s usually dry besides, unless you undercook it, and then it is just plain gross.

But then I found this recipe, and my attitude toward "boneless, skinless" suddenly changed.

Originally, I got the recipe off "Amy's Humble Musings"--a blog I read sometimes. The first time I made it, I was not wild about it, but I felt that it was worth working with until it worked for me, so here it is, the way I do it now. If you make it, you may need to make your own changes to make it work for your family.

1. Approximately 5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast (one of those big club packs, about 6-8 breasts).
2. 1 tsp. salt
3. 1 tsp. turmeric
4. 1 tsp. oregano
5. 1 tsp granulated garlic (or four cloves fresh, or more, depending on how you like it…)
6. Approximately 1 cup chicken broth (leftover homemade, or made from chicken base, or from a carton from the store) note: I have found that when I do not have chicken broth, I can just use a cup of water and add an additional 1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. sugar.

Place half the chicken breast in a largish crockpot. Sprinkle with half the seasonings (including half the fresh garlic, if you use fresh). Top with remaining chicken breasts. Pour chicken broth over, and finish by topping with remaining seasonings.

Turn crockpot on high and leave for three or four hours. Then turn crockpot down to low and continue to cook until very, very well done, probably about three more hours.

When the chicken is very, very done, take a ladle and scoop out most of the broth (not all). Reserve this in a large measuring cup. Then take a large fork (a meat fork from a serving set works well) or kitchen shears and totally shred the chicken in the crockpot, so it looks a little like pulled pork. Add:

7. A few Tablespoonfuls of olive oil, until it is nicely moistened
8. Any additional seasonings (from the list above) that you think it might need, after tasting it. It may not need anything at all. Mine usually doesn’t.

Put the cover back on the crockpot and leave it on low.

Take the reserved broth that you scooped out of the pot, and add enough water to make three cups. Put into a medium-large pan and bring to a boil with:

9. 1 cup salsa
10. 1 and ½ cups long grain white rice.

After it comes to a boil, cover and leave over very low heat for about 20 minutes.

Serve the chicken with the rice, and also salsa, sour cream, avocado slices, and you can even warm up a can of black beans (then drain them) and offer grated cheddar. Let people pile these ingredients on their plates, kind of as if making a salad.

This is a big favorite at our house.

Also the leftovers are fantastic. You can use this chicken in soups, casseroles (substitute anytime they call for cooked, chopped chicken), sandwiches (add mayo to make chicken salad, or put between bread just as-is). It is also very tasty wrapped in a tortilla with romaine, tomatoes and grated cheddar.

I hope you try it and like it!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

From Facebook

There was a "note" going around Facebook where you ask your child/kid/spawn/whatever questions about yourself and write down their answers. Shanny was kind enough to do it for me. I liked it so much, I want to keep it here, filed as a memoir of sorts. I am also adding a little bit of commentary...

1. What is something mom always says to you?
"You have to say goodbye to me before you leave!"
Actually, I say, "Don't leave without saying good-bye." This is because I am basically a negative person, and I speak in negatives, and Shannon remembers it this way because she is a positive person, and the fact that I, yes I, could raise a positive person is a very encouraging thought indeed.

2. What makes mom happy?
When the people we enjoy on American Idol make it through.
Well, on a small scale, yes.

3. What makes mom sad?
When the spoilers she read for American Idol online are wrong and would have been amazing. It also makes her sad when one of us is not home, so I can extrapolate that when one of us actually moves out for college, she will be very sad.
She said this because I read a spoiler that said Norman/Nick was getting through with Danny and Alexis Grace the first night. I was really sad when it was that other guy instead. WHO IS that other guy, anyway??? And yes, I will be devastated when one of my kids moves out. I literally cried all summer the year Jonathan was going to kindergarten in the fall.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
She does this little dance thing where she kind of leaps about in glee. Also, sometimes she does something cute and then says "oh, I'm so cute!!" and giggles. And sometimes when she is prom dress shopping with Laura, she texts me about how much she hates prom dress shopping. AND when she texts in general, because her phone is set to T9, I believe, so sometimes she can't get the word she wants and has to put spaces between all of the letters. I love that.

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Precocious. My favorite picture is the one where Uncle Paul is in a prayer pose and she is just looking at him with a very naughty look on her face. Good picture.
Actually, that was Auntie Beth looking at Uncle Paul with the naughty expression on her face, and it may be the only time Beth ever looked the slightest bit naughty in her entire life, which is certainly why Shannon confused her with me. I was definitely the naughty one, but I was ten and a half years younger than Uncle Paul, so by the time I was old enough to have an expression of naughtiness like that one, he was big enough to make me behave (and he was no longer being forced to pose in heart-rending moments for Christmas cards).

6. How old is your mom?
21. And let me tell you, having a mom who is only two years older than me is good times!
This is why I pay her the big bucks.

7. How tall is your mom?
She doesn't really know and neither do I. I think we usually say 5'6" or 5'7"

8. What is her favorite thing to do?
She likes to read. She likes to read the Bible. She's a very good writer, although I don't know if she does that much writing anymore. Also, she likes to watch BBC movies, Jeeves and Wooster, Masterpiece Theater.... but I have to set it up for her because we have a TiVo now and it messes with the system something awful.

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Works on her Bible study, cleans my room (which I constantly tell her not to do because I spend my life in a kind of perpetual guilt trip), goes shopping on Tuesdays when she actually has a car, lets the dogs sleep on her lap... she's much more fun when I'm around! ;)

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Being my mother. I'M TOTALLY KIDDING. Mostly. She'll be famous for writing, maybe... maybe for writing Bible studies like Beth Moore. Man, heck if I know. I never wanted to be famous, so I can never imagine what it would take to be famous.

11. What is your mom really good at?
Writing. Taking care of me when I have pneumonia. She also bakes a mean egg bake. And just about everything else. My mom is seriously the best cook I know. Although one time she made cherry cheese pie with poison cherries... at least we're all alive to tell the tale (which does take something from its credence).
Obviously they weren't really poisonous cherries. They were just weird. The gooey part around the cherries was all the wrong consistency, with lumps. I was so sad, when I dumped those bad cherries on the up-to-that-point perfect cheese pie. But we ate it, and it tasted good, and nobody died, despite my worst and most pessimistic fears. I ate it, too, because I certainly didn't want to be the only one left alive.

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Staying calm in the face of danger. No really. She's pretty neurotic. Like when Laura had to go to the ER last weekend for her concussion... and there I was, feeling very upstaged with my pneumonia. So we went to fill my prescription and the insurance company dropped me because I'm 19 and apparently they needed some paperwork that they never told us about because I'm in college. So she half-yelled about that to the girl at the desk. At least my z-pack wasn't that expensive, but on the flip side, it WAS just six pills. But anyway. She's bad at staying calm. As in, she can't watch House with us. And we don't usually take her with us to auditions.

Also, she's not very good at bearing the brunt of braces. But she does try, and I have to give her credit for that.

13. What does your mom do for her job?
She makes me soup when I'm sick :)

14. What is your mom's favorite food?
Cherries and watermelon. And probably some other things. I think she likes that chicken and rice dish we had last night because I feel like we have it like clockwork every week. It's okay though, it's pretty delish.

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
She is a genius. Did you know she graduated college with a 4.0? This is what I have to live up to.

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Arnold from the Magic Schoolbus. Hahahahahaha remember that show?! DID YOU KNOW THAT LILY TOMLIN DID MS. FRIZZLE'S VOICE?! That totally blew my mind.
Arnold was the one who always said, "I knew I should have stayed home today." I can see that.

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Sometimes we go to lunch or to dinner. I'm a very big fan of food. We usually watch some Jeeves and Wooster or Star Trek TNG with Dad on the weekends. We also talk a lot and sometimes we go shopping together but it never lasts very long because we both hate shopping.

18. How are you and your mom the same?
Well, as I previously mentioned, we both hate shopping. Also, we are both females and sometimes I'm a little type-A, too, but mostly only about my notes.

19. How are you and your mom different?
Well in general I am not as neurotic as my mother. I'm also quite a lot taller than her and I have blue eyes. I'm also quieter than she is and my temper isn't as hot. I can't dance like she can because I kind of thud around the house. I'm also better with computers than she is (makes sense, right?) and I bail her out sometimes. On the computer, I mean.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
She takes care of me when I'm sick and buys my medicine even though the insurance company won't pay attention. She fills my car up with gas sometimes. She tells me how she's glad that I still live at home because she would miss me if I left, and she cooks me food and says hello to me in the morning and when I get home from school. She prays for me when I have exams (and prays for me when I don't have exams, too). She doesn't let me get away with things that I shouldn't get away with. She also gives me hugs when I need them.

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
Aw man. Well, I think she kind of likes to stay home as long as some of us are home. I know where she DOESN'T like to go, but where she does like to go... she likes Wegmans better than WalMart and she hates Carousel Mall. But really, I think she likes to be at home especially when she's not alone. She doesn't have much of a choice during the days when Dad takes his car and I take mine and DJ and Laura take the van.
I do like to go to Minnesota, and also to the North Carolina shore. But I don't like to travel in general; it really stresses me out, and also makes me sick (I am highly suseceptible to motion sickness no matter the mode of transport). So this is rather a good assessment.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Color combinations

I am not stylish; in fact, style scares me.

I wear black a lot. It matches almost anything, and unlike white (which also matches almost anything), black does not show the dirt. This is key where I am concerned.

I was thinking about black color combinations today, and trying to test the matching hypothesis. Does black really match almost anything?

Below is a list of how I feel in the following color combinations with black.

1. Black and white.
Generally I avoid black and white. It makes me feel like a waiter, not a waitress, a waiter. Hence the avoidance.

2. Black and beige or tan.
Maybe I would wear this, particularly if I had recently been accused of dressing depressingly. The deeper the tan the better; I think beige washes me out.

3. Black and gray.
While this color combination can be striking and dramatic, it is too cold and sterile and makes me feel like an android.

4. Black and brown.
Yes. I love black and brown, especially when they are woven together in a nubby fabric. Mix them here, match them with one or the other there, and you have an outfit that I might wear every day for a week, as long as I am not exposing myself to the same people each of those days.

5. Black and pink.
Black and pink together conjure up an impression of Paris, or a ballerina, or perhaps a Parisien ballerina. I would wear black and pink on a happy day.

6. Black and yellow.
Bumblebees. No thank you.

7. Black and orange.
Halloween. No thank you.

8. Black and red.
A Spanish dancer with black lace and a rose between her teeth. Or a very dressy Christmas outfit. A bit much, but this combination can be nice sometimes.

9. Black and purple.
An actor. Or an actress. I would associate this with sin.

10. Black and blue.
This always makes me think of bruises and battered women, but sometimes I wear it anyway. Black and denim may also fall into this category, and black with denim may even eclipse black and brown as my hallmark choice, even though it is passe and a sign of someone who thought he/she was cool in the 90's. (For the record, I never thought I was cool. Even though I wear black and denim. I did not wear it when it was cool.)

11. Black and green.
The wicked witch of the west, from the Wizard of Oz.

12. Black and turquois or aqua, or possibly teal.
Now you're way too trendy for me.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Like the old days?

Today I got my van back. Imagine that. And I spent most of my day driving, just like in "the old days." (Two years ago, before DJ got his license.)

1. I drove Lu and DJ to school in the morning.
2. I picked Lu up and we drove to the doctor (where we were told that she needs to stay out of school and rest her brain).
3. We drove home from the doctor. It is about a 35 minute drive each way, so I feel vindicated in mentioning it twice.
4. I picked DJ up from school--he had to stay after for a National Honor Society meeting, so he hadn't been able to get the bus.
5. I drove DJ to his paino lesson.
6. I picked up Schubert from the groomer. (Shawn dropped him off for me this morning on his way to work.)
7. I drove Jonathan to our church for the after-school youth program they have that lasts until the evening youth group meeting starts...
8. I filled the gas tank at Sam's Club--$1.99/gallon is certainly something to be thankful for.
9. I went to WalMart and bought some toiletry items.
10. I picked DJ up from his piano lesson.

Now I am home, for a short while. DJ and Lu have a very important concert tonight, with conductor and composer Stephen Melillo as guest. The doctor cleared Lu to participate in this event, as she has some fairly important oboe parts to play.

We will enjoy the concert, God willing, and then we will come home and go to bed, God willing. I am looking forward to going to bed tonight.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

We made it to the Sabbath

Saturday morning, Lulu was not doing so well. She was so dizzy she practically crawled to the bathroom where she sat on the floor and, in the end, did not throw up.

Her neck was also very stiff. All things taken together--dizziness, headache, nausea, and stiff neck--led the doctor to direct us to take her to the ER.

We talked to the doctor because we finally took Shanny in for her flu, which, as I suspected, had turned into pneumonia. The doctor called it walking pneumonia, which I thought was ironic, since she spent the past 3-4 days in bed. But, whatever. They gave her a prescription for antibiotics, and the medicine and the hope that accompanied it have done wonders to improve her condition.

Lulu, however, had to spend the day in the ER. Most of it was waiting. Shawn took her and left me home to (1) not be a basket case and upset her, and (2) take care of Shanny and get her medicine from the pharmacy. Unfortunately, in the hospital there was absolutely no cell phone coverage, so I did not hear any news from Shawn for about 5 hours. Excruciating. I finally called our deacon and asked him to pray with me. He offered to take me down to the hospital, but I had a bad feeling that we might miss them. Then my deacon suggested I call the hospital, rather than trying to reach Shawn. How silly I felt for not thinking of that myself. I called and they told me that Laura had just been discharged, so I was really glad that I had not asked our deacon to drive me down!

While they were at the hospital, we went to Wegman's to get Shannon's medicine... and found out that our insurance bumped her off the family plan when she turned 19. This was very upsetting to me. Maybe I will write an upcoming post on health insurance in America. (Here is a brief preview: I despise health insurance companies, everything about them. I believe that they are the main problem with health care in America, they and lawyers with their frivolous but costly and constant malpractice suits. The problem lies not with doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, or even drug companies. The problem lies with insurance companies and lawyers and if we could get rid of them, we could have good healthcare here once more.)

Anyway, we have to pay out of pocket until we meet the deductible anyway, so I just bought the medicine and we will try to work this out later. Everybody tells me that college students are covered, as long as they are full-time students, until age 23. So we'll research that tomorrow. Or Wednesday, perhaps.

Laura, during her hospital ordeal, had a CT scan that revealed a mild concussion, no bleeding on the brain, and a small cyst in a different location of her brain which they said was benign and, "Nothing to worry about; she was probably born with it and it grew with her but will not grow any more. These cysts, if they are going to cause a problem, do so earlier in life than this." Does it mean that I'm a bad mother that I do not wish to hear or to know about this? I just want to put my fingers in my ears and sing "Nah nah-nah boo boo."

I am so tired today. I am simply exhausted, and I have a headache. Surely I will feel better in a day or so. I am so thankful that it is the Sabbath today and I can take a guilt-free nap and not fuss about whether the laundry is done, or the vacuuming or the bathrooms. It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter.

Praise Jesus that God rested on the seventh day. Praise Jesus that He expects us to do the same.

Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God... For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Exodus 20:8-10a, 11

Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them.
Psalm 119:129