Friday, December 31, 2010

Organizing All The Piles of Stuff

I know it is dangerous to set new year's resolutions but I'm going to try just two...easy ones and not something that will overwhelm me into giving up.

I want to lose weight--at least ten pounds. (I know...I know...that's puny, but I'm not a superhero here)
I want to organize all my closets, cupboards, and dresser drawers. (It may take a year, but my goal is to do one each week. Doesn't sound hard, does it?)
Dare I try any more?
Nah. Those two will be hard enough.
Hope you have a Happy New Year
Be safe in the arms of God.

Here's a cartoon that reminds me of me.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sleep-over at Grandma's House

The grandchildren came over this afternoon for some time with Grandma.
Of course, I spoil them with mint chocolate chip ice cream and let them bring stuffed animals for solace and company. This time, Mim brought her new virus, Mononucleosis, complete with long, eyelashes. Zaya chose a couple of more vicious ones: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, called MRSA, and a really ugly, snake-like Ebola. He tempered his choices by bringing his good friend Penicillin. His dad warned him, as we left the house, that Penicillin was helpless to defeat those other two. He shrugged: "I know it; it's ok" .

Mim also brought something called Jupiter Juice. It's a bright pink slimy goo that comes off of most things with no residue (If anybody wants to tell me how to get it out of little girls' hair, it might be propitious)

Right now Zaya is entertaining himself with a Mario game; Mim is helping Claye cook muffins. She did well cracking the eggs, but is having a problem with how sticky her hands are feeling.
I'd say anyone who can handle Jupiter Juice, should have no squeamish qualms over cooking.

The muffins were pretty delicious--poppy seed with a lemon glaze. Claye set the coffee table in the front room and Mim found a place to wait and keep an eye on it while we found all the sugar and cream. It must have taken us longer than we thought because she also found time to invite a guest and drag him over to share her part of the table.


Mim's a properly prissy child. She says the best part of the tea party is adding the cream and sugar to the tiny cup and stirring it. Zaya feels like the main goal of the party is seeing if he can cram a whole muffin into his mouth at once.
Sooner or later, though, the party ends. Mim takes a bath and Zaya talks Grandpa into working on his model catapult and explaining every step. Doesn't take too much persuasion. After all, there are not too many people who are willing to listen to building project steps.

Windmills in December Fog

Monday, December 27, 2010


When it comes to Turtle and skills, I wonder if he hasn't descended from Norse stock, lived in Hrothgar's Hall and wrestled Grendel perhaps. Now before you raise that eyebrow and say "huh", bear with me a minute. I have my reasons for thinking this, the chief of which is his strange affinity for kenning-like hobbies skills. As long as we have been married, Turtle's brain has spun with orbiting interests as if affected by the laws of planetary motion; however, his passions come and go with widely varying schedules. Unlike the planets, they almost all begin with a B and are two-word expressions. My Norse-man is a: bee-keeper, bow-hunter, bike-peddler, back-packer, buck-skinner and book-binder.  I think the b must stand for "buy", because every time one of these interests strikes, he adds a few items to the equipment he needs for the hobby interest.

Lately, however, Turtle has added a seventh interest. Whether this means, having reached the perfect number, he will at last attain satisfaction in his own capacity for extraneous abilities, or whether this spells big trouble, I'm not sure. You see, this one has broken the streak of b's. It's fly-fishing.

Scary. ..has he migrated to another solar system and will he now begin to accumulate random skills like flee-bargaining and face-booking?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Manifesto on Matters of Importance

I believe in matter.
That I exist as solid matter
And as a spirit inhabiting that matter.
I also believe that I matter.
Not just to those whose lives I touch,
But I matter in the Heavens to One who
First created matter and also created me.
I stand, and not on empty space,
I rest, because
I matter.
                                                                       Art by John Bailey

Merry Christmas to You!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Star of Jacob

"I shall see him, but not now: 
Digital Art by John Bailey
I shall behold him, but not nigh:
there shall come a Star out of Jacob, 
and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel"

A prophet, but not a willing one,
trembled on the mountain that overlooked their camp, and formed a curse--crafted it like a catapult to hurl destruction through their midst--confuse! inflict! terrify!
But when he spoke, no curse, just undiluted blessings, and they spewed forth in lavish power--clouds of goodness, future glories.
"Stop!" the furious king commanded.
"Can't you do any better?"
 "I'll try.."
 But from the hills in each direction
terrible blessings descended with his words.
and unsuspecting people in the valley
absorbed a mighty mist of strength and courage.

These things were pre-determined
He had no part of that, and only spoke the words he heard from heaven.
He boldly talked of wars and uttered conquering--blind eyes looking into a dark glass,
understanding stifled by the billowing clouds!
Veiled, veiled, veiled.

He spoke unwilling blessings and the night sky nodded
anticipating already the star-filled glory of that final and fantastic future day.

I shall see Him...but not now.
I shall behold Him...but not nigh.

Like Balaam I feel blinded by the shrouds of future mysteries,
And I tremble at what I cannot understand.
I seek the Star; I seek the Scepter, I bow my head.
That alone is clear!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

December Unveils True Weirdness

I've just finished wrapping all the family Christmas gifts and stowing them safely under the warm lights of the tree. Ahh. Well, these were my thoughts as I surveyed the oh-so-normal looking packages, knowing the contents of each: If a Christmas thief were to invade my house some day between now and the twenty fifth of this month, he would probably shake his head in frustration as he tried to find anything worth pawning.

Don't look at me. I decided to buy what they wanted this year, so I visited their wish lists and chose something they had requested beforehand. Can I help it if they like strange things? Not really. I'm pretty normal myself. . . So when Elisha requests a tour book of Italy and an ethnodoxology textbook; Claye wants obscure books by Charles Dickens and a Celtic Thunder CD; Carina lists herbal teas and teeny, tiny mixing bowls that look like doll dishes; Art wants a flash light with twisty, magnetic legs, and Turtle fills his wish list with survival gear--since nobody has told him we live in pretty comfortable suburbia--I'm left with no normal gift choices, except for Marie, who doesn't even have a "wish list" and says she's happy with anything. (I'm guessing she'll have one by next year.)

Well, if I told you what I bought them, that would be spoiling the surprise, right? so I'll just use my grandkids as an example. There's little likelihood they will come investigating this blog to see what this grandma bought from their wish lists.

Six-year-old Zaya loves all things Biology and is particularly fascinated with deep sea creatures and germs. His thinkgeek list is swarming with stuffed animals--not the cartoon inspired ones, nor yet the all-little-boy favorite, dinosaurs; no, he collects stuffed microbes, knows them all by name and can't wait to add another one to his shelf. Here are several from his list. (I had to take a picture before I wrapped them together.)
Rabies is the red one with blood-shot eyes, Malaria is wearing a little green jacket around its middle, Gangrene is flat black velvet with a lime-green edge, and MRSA wears a superhero cape. As you can see, they are mighty cute little assassins. However, I'm not altogether certain that I like the idea of my grandson cuddling with them.

And what of five-year-old Mim? Well, she's not quite as fascinated by bacteria, but she did request one special one, so, along with the little girl butterfly bells and sticker books, I gave in and bought it for her. Meet Mono--the kissing disease. Notice her cute little eyelashes.

So when you open that sweater from your daughter, that chocolate from Aunt Sue, just be grateful you aren't getting a gift from me this year...cause you might just get the thing you requested and it would probably be weird.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ubiquitous Moses and other Exodus Museum Exibits

Here's the final ubiquitous Moses mural...along with a salt map of the journey--prerequisite for any museum tour.

Ten Commandments and the explanation of our museum music, by the young composer herself.

Plagues of Darkness, Hail and Fire. Tabernacle model.

Plague of Frogs and a Golden Lampstand

The Land of Goshen and More Moses

The Battle of Amalek with Aaron and Hur Holding Moses' arms high, and a Passover meal.

A Walk through the Red Sea, Water from a rock, and the Nile turned to blood

Big brother explains his project.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Fourth Grade Concert

Parents proudly peer through video lenses
at these precious presents given them
a decade ago.
They smile as they hear childish pitches,
and see the careful poses on high risers.
But I, feeling oddly older than the crowd,
hold high my well-worn camera
to catch the face of the young director,
my son.


One sunny fall morning in Gunnison, Colorado, my lean, home-schooled sophomore and I decided to climb a nearby peak for our bi-weekly physical education. After all, once winter came to stay for the next eight months, we'd be limited to dabbling in ice-skating and other in town activity. So we parked beside the road which led up into the hills, and took off, right up the backside ramp--an easy slope belonging to this group of cliffs called The Palisades.


Our idea was to reach the top and look out over the town without getting too close to the cliffs. Somewhat to our surprise, it was slow climbing for such an easy looking incline, because the ground seemed crumbly in texture, and our steps tended to slide instead of stick. After an hour or so, however, we made it to the top of the ridge--or almost to the top. There, running across the hillside, was a wire fence, one that we hadn't noticed from the road, and about a yard before that, sitting stolidly on a little post planted into the rock, was a sign:

Danger. No Trespassing.
This hill unsafe for climbing!

It turns out that the hill was composed of some kind of volcanic rock--shale, maybe, that frequently gave way to landslides, particularly when disturbed by feet--especially tennis-shoe clad feet of women who didn't know what they were doing on the side of a mountain.
Needless to say we turned around and made our way back to the bottom, not boinging about in our usual fashion either. All the way down we talked about the utter incompetency of the one who placed the sign at the top instead of at the bottom of the hill.

Three-Word-Wednesday prompt-lean, utter, dabble.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ubiquitous Moses

A couple of my seventh-grade students are painting a mural for the Exodus Museum. It was originally supposed to reflect the three miracles given to Moses for a sign that God had authorized his leadership. These were: a rod changing into a snake, a vial of water turning to blood, and a hand briefly becoming leprous. Somehow, due to a lack of picture references, the mural also changed, morphing into mini-scenes from the life of Moses. Since one of the boys has been absent a lot, I've been helping with the backgrounds and water and leaving the detail work to the boys. We decided that shadow people were going to be easier to paint and just as effective. Anyway, since Moses keeps popping up everywhere I've decided to call it Ubiquitous Moses. Here's a half-finished picture. When it's complete, I'll post the final product.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Morning and Evening

Driving to work early this morning, I was blessed by this sun, nestled like an ember in cloud covers.

Coming home, this evening, I looked ahead and saw gray rain. Within the distance of five miles, I watched as my auto thermometer dove from 44 to 39 degrees. Something tells me there will be ice on the roads tomorrow, or at least settled into the ditches where our rain ran to seek a little warmth.

Monday, December 6, 2010


When a class works on a project, particularly a messy project, it gives teachers many opportunities for guidance. Contrary to what one might think, most of this guidance isn't in the form of completely new instructions and information, but in reminding students of what they have known all along. I find myself saying:

"Clean up your own mess."
"If you got it out, put it away."
"Rinse the brushes carefully, or they will be ruined."
"Don't wear your best shirt if you know you are going to be painting."
and, the big one,
"How you behave during a project is directly proportional to how many of them you will do this year"

Which is all good advice for adults too. Most of us know how we should behave. Deep down, we know what's right and what's fair and what's decent and what's not. We know what we ought to do.
We just need someone or some circumstance to make us do it.

Today a student objected when I asked who painted the rocks gold outside our classroom door:
"I did, but you already got me in trouble for that."
"Ah, I didn't get you in trouble."
"Yes you did. You did last Friday."
"I didn't get you in trouble."
"Yes you did, remember?"
"You got yourself in trouble. I just scolded you for it."

Sadly, that is often true for adults also.
"The policeman just doesn't understand that the speed limit should be higher for this section of the road."
"The electric company shouldn't be so concerned if I'm on time with my payments."
"I can't lose weight because the fast food chain only serves fat fries."
Most of our behavior problems aren't due to a lack of guidance but to a lack of personal responsibility.

Our project is "The Exodus Museum", and Moses was one of history's most harassed guidance counselors.

So it's all very fitting that I occasionally "get students in trouble!"