Welcome


Thanks for stopping by, whether you got here by a link or hitting "next blog" -- I am glad you are here. I've also done some writing on homeschooling, and what I learned thinking I was teaching.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Grandchildren in the Garden!

Duct Designs



The best view of our garden now is not the hardy flowers, but the flashes of small people darting here and there, coloring the concrete, creating art with duct tape, and dashing through the sprinklers.

Creating
Art

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Politics and Personal Struggles Aren't a Good Mix

The Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, stated and then recanted what I believe.

"I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that, and I look at the homosexual issue the same way."  

John Paulk described that genetic coding is one tough opponent.  (Read more: Life as An Ex-Ex- Gay.) Reading his story it’s plain: Pontification does not disperse or overcome its relentless power.  

I may have a few broken chains in my genetic coding. No arguments, reasoning, cajoling, browbeating or guilt trips were ever as powerful as the deep-seated desire to drink. Was this a glitch in my genetic code?

Maybe. 

I wanted to drink from a very early age, when I saw how much fun grown-ups seemed to have when they drank – or when I saw the slick magazine advertisements.  Many folks in the old family tree had big time trouble with booze. But their example was no cautionary tale; I started in drinking early, knowing I could avoid their mistakes.  I also picked friends who liked to drink, too. Living without alcohol was never an option.

So, towards the end, I changed my outward conduct – to keep people from bugging me about my passion to drink. While I controlled my outward behavior, I was always thinking about the next time I could safely drink. Because I had been around the 12-steps, I knew my “control” would fail – it was just a question of when. I may have pinned the equivalent of a Sumo wrestler, but deep down inside I knew I was about to be flipped.

Still, if I thought about living the whole of my life without another drink –ever – I went wobbly.  I couldn’t live without it, and I wasn’t really living with it. There was no easier, softer way – I had to put the drink down—one day at a time.  Also, I came to believe  that a power greater than myself cares about the choices I make and this helped me see that doing the same thing over and over, hoping for a different outcome, was insane. But, making the choice to put the drink down didn’t change me into a happy camper, who cheerfully did a one-eighty and never looked back.

I never make “perfect” choices – I mess up – I think stupid crazy thoughts, and do not always fight them; some days I so wish I could get to that perfect world to which I thought alcohol was the passport.  But it’s a journey to nowhere good.  So, for today, I choose to be with people who empathize with my struggle, and aren’t trying to fix me – I try and return the favor.

But I mess up here, too.

I wish Christians who are hurting deeply because of  their brokenness weren’t. I don’t know how they can carry on with the pain they describe because of their private lives. But I know God will carry them, and I know going back to Egypt is unwise, no matter how attractive a place it is in our imaginations.  And I am sorry when the church muddles her message and says some of us get a pass to pursue what God has said, don’t.

 Further Thoughts -- an oldie but goodie, and a differing P.O.V.



  

·      If you are drawn into a controversy use hard arguments and very soft. words: CH Spurgeon


An Afterthought -- Christians may not be able to change their sexual orientation, but we can and do change our conduct. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Move!

In today’s devotion from Park Cities Presbyterian Church, Erin Patrick commented on Psalm 147:1-2, 3. The gist was take a look at where you are sitting – you might just need to move!  (You Are on the Throne -- I Am Not!)


On a day when the world’s news is not good -- being urged to rejoice, knowing the mighty Lord reigns, seemed like futile counsel. But empty handed, and full of [holy] fear is how I have been invited to come to God, and given a position, a purpose and a promise.  However,  

·      Being seated with Christ in the heavenlies describes my security – not my job. (Ephesians 2:6)

·      Being able to do all things through Christ who gives me strength describes how I live in uncertain, dangerous and disappointing times. (Philippians 4:13)

·      Reigning with Him, is in the future tense.   (2 Timothy 2:12 )

Note, though, that for today – He is ready willing and able to help.

When I look at this defining character trait in the Scriptures, I come to Psalm 46– and note that is a song of the descendants of Korah, to be sung by soprano voices.

Women have soprano voices. The women in Korah’s tribe had lived through times of terror, trials and temptations – yet they praised God. Maybe this alto needs reexamine her range?

Who are You, Lord, that You bend low and hear the petitions and praises of  a wayward soul like me?

 My hands are not empty, and are often too full of worry to clap; wringing them is not what raising them in praise looks like, either. Yet, my hope is that God inhabits the praises of His people.

God, the earth feels as if it is giving way because of the wicked and your people who sin – humans inflict pain and suffering on each other and Your creation. But, settled on my throne, I freely question what You are doing, and offer my opinion on how to make things better rather than getting up off my rear-end and doing the next thing.  (Heroism- Doe the Next Thynge)



  • Checking seat assignments is not futile counsel! 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

One Thing about the Golden Years . . .


Though filled with brass, they reflect light enough to see how crazy dumb some of my ideas really were. But, as one anonymous philosopher illustrated: one good thing about being [old] is I did most of my dumb stuff before the Internet.
 
Keep On Painting!
Small mercies make a big difference, especially on a rainy Monday.   

Another small mercy this morning was Christopher Kimball’s editorial in Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, the July-August edition. His Bucket List of Little Things to do with the time left reminded me – of a few possibilities:

·      Remembering all the kindnesses done me, for which I can never repay is still a good first step to take, maybe even today.

·      Good books abound – reading them is better than bemoaning the dearth of good storytellers.

·      Memorization is not yet beyond my grasp – and his suggestion of Jabberwocky would be a great work out for the brain cells. Don't bet on me actually doing this! 

Summer is about to begin – and thinking about little things to do – to enjoy and to share with others is a great tonic. Finally, Mr. Kimball is spot-on about something else: I, too, would like to live long enough and see our kids’ kids grow into great people – as “noble in spirit and kind as my kids are.”


Don't let yesterday use up too much of today. ~Cherokee Indian Proverb


We crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow. ~Fulton Oursler






Thursday, June 5, 2014

Dinner in Pan . . .

Dinner in A Dish


Or, I wanted something tasty, but couldn't face the grocery store.

So, I sautéed onions and garlic in an oil mixture -- olive, canola and grapeseed. (Bought right after I found out canola isn’t the Florence Nightingale I thought it was.)

Then I browned boned skinned chicken breasts, salting and peppering them too lightly according to Doug – I needed a heavier hand. But I threw in a heavy dollop of butter – because Julia Child said everything is better with butter.

Next, I added chopped green chilies, black beans, (1 can) cooked basmati rice (1 cup) and chorizo. I topped it off with fresh sliced cherry tomatoes – maybe 12-18. I added half a bag of frozen corn and the remains of some frozen mixed vegetables.  I covered it and stuck it in the oven (350) for maybe ½ hour.

I served it with bib lettuce topped with fresh avocado, pine nuts, and croutons. (or Krut-tons) I used a balsamic vinaigrette dressing – not the greatest companion taste choice.

It reminded me of a dish my mother made, and one my daughter sometimes make.  A loaf of yummy crusty bread and lots of butter might be a tasty companion, too.

Maybe it will be punchier after a spell in the refridge over night – Doug added a splash of habanera sauce to his.  He asked if I thought I could recreate it at some point – that’s why I took a picture of it and then wrote down what I think I did.

I am just not sure what spices I would add, if I made it again – maybe I would use a cup or so of salsa? I might even add some shrimp and call it a Maryland-Tex Paella?

·      “Every idea is my last. I feel sure of it. So, I try to do the best with each as it comes and that's where my responsibility ends. But I just don't wait for ideas. I look for them. Constantly. And if I don't use the ideas that I find, they're going to quit showing up.” ― Peg Bracken

·      Recipe: A series of step-by-step instructions for preparing ingredients you forgot to buy, in utensils you don't own, to make a dish the dog wouldn't eat. ~Author Unknown


The last recipe I thought I was concocting from memory turned out quite  differently than I anticipated – I was making lentil soup, and after sautéing onions, garlic and carrots, I added the lentils, and what I thought was chicken stock. Turns out I grabbed the wrong box from the cupboard, and added black been soup. But because I added German summer sausage from a German deli, it was a “keeper.”


Whoops!


Never say, "oops." Always say, "Ah, interesting." ~Author Unknown

A Current Crutch – English Mysteries

Masterpiece Mystery*

Once upon a time, I had to wait until Thursday nights to enjoy them – That was when Maryland Public Broadcasting scheduled their mysteries. Now, streaming, Netflix, Apple TV, etc. means I can watch a mystery every night! And the crazier the news headlines, the more mysteries I watch! Miss Marple and Poirot hooked me, but others quickly secured my admiration:  Alleyn, Daglish, Maigret, MorseLewis, FrostInspector Barnaby, Endeavor – all about Inspector Morse when he was a new detective -- and now, Richard Poole, in the Caribbean.

These mysteries – novels or movies -- differ from the more gritty stories in other series, and reality police shows. Maybe it’s their location? The villages are picture postcard perfect, the city -- usually London or Oxford – sophisticated; the homes can be baronial or cozy . . . even the clutter is charming.

That is, until someone is done in. Evil, even in a well-appointed backdrop is evil . . . murder is always most foul. (Hamlet)  As the plot line unfolds, and clues abound, the characters – except for the detectives -- become less appealing, their relationships turn out to be more complex; the scenery becomes more foreboding. Some of the apparel even begins to look cheesy.  Even if the murder victims had it coming, the irrevocability of their state is shocking.

P.D. James asks rhetorically in her memoir Time to Be in Earnest, why one would want to write detective novels. Some questions explain my fascination with the whodunits.

Who wants to become a detective novelist and why? To impose order on   terrifying chaos? To bring justice out of injustice? To give the illusion we live in a moral and comprehensible universe?  . . . To provide a structure within which writer and reader  can safely confront terror, violence and death? To show that to some things at least there is an answer? To distance the atavistic fear of cruelty and death? . . . To create a modern morality platy in which truth is at least established even it doesn’t prevail?

So, the crazier the times, murder mysteries offer some solace – wherein I see a few canny souls, who notice all the clues I miss, and assisted by sidekicks, or pathologists, and barristers, can negotiate their way through horror and right appalling wrongs – one at a time. To them, Truth matters


Miss Marple is a patient observer of human nature while living in a timeless English village; she never forgets the lessons her companions taught her. She applies these lessons to life outside her village. When she meets aristocrats, businessmen, actors, lawyers and the police she see the same foibles and failings she observed in her fellow villagers. And because church attendance was as much a part of her life as was her creator, Agatha Christie’s, Miss Marple  intuitively understood the truth why we all have so much in common:

We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts . . . And there is no health in us.  (The Book of Common Prayer's General Confession, 1928)

Every morning, I read about people murdered in the DFW-Metroplex – or the lives lost in suicide bombings, drone strikes, civil war – declared wars. The brief news accounts mark their passing – but never their substance or worth to the ones who loved them. 

And who will – can --  right the wrongs that took these lives?

My hope, some might call a crutch --  is that every life lost today, for whatever reason, matters to God – that He will avenge and repay; that He will redeem the loss; and that He will comfort and console those who remain. (Psalm 102)



 A respite: Dear Weary One


Edward Gorey – Masterpiece Mystery