Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Space in December

Your world may be full of colors and sounds,
a mingled mass of light...

Your rooms overstuffed with decorations enough
to dazzle, to daze, to intimidate night.

Yet your soul shivers empty alone at the sound of your laughter, intense and contrived,
as you stifle the meaning of this Christmas day.

While a humble room a world away
sits dark and cold, yet strangely full--
A manger, a baby, God's love for His world,
has brought peace to those who remember.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Star Wars Crochet

My oldest sister has always been a bundle of creativity and competency woven together. When my girls were little she made them a doll swing out of macrame. It hung in their bathroom and supported a doll that she had also made--a baby doll with four changeable, embroidered faces. On the shelf behind that sat a ceramic giraffe and a bunny rabbit with silver ears--crafted and painted by their amazing auntie. Somewhere in the attic, those toys are packed away--treasures from the past.

So it didn't really surprise me when my niece posted pictures today of the Christmas present my sister was currently crocheting to be enjoyed by the next generation--my great nephews: A Star Wars Collection!

Here are the droids: C3PO and R2D2.

And Yoda, the little green guy.

This is Obi-wan with a removable cloak.
Chewbacca the Wookie, Hans Solo, and a random Ewok.
Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. (It's easier to see her hair in the group picture.)

The evil Darth Vader with a storm trooper body guard poses midst the trilogies on the shelf.

Boba Fett is still on the spool, but it won't be long before she gets her crochet hooks into him and completes the set.

I don't know where she got the pattern for these, but I've had several people suggest she quit her day job and produce them full time. She's ready to move on to the next challenge--May I humbly suggest LOTR.

And here he is in all his green, orange and black.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Being Schnetka Sponsor

There are a few drawbacks advantages to being senior sponsor, one of which is the experience of making and baking schnetka for the hoard of hungry citizens who somehow found out about our unique little Christmas desert and are too lazy unskilled to make it for themselves. The desert consists mainly of sugar, flour, butter, cream and cinnamon. It's like eating white fudge and cream pie, but better. Eat one of these little beauties and you can fill your calorie requirement for the whole day.

Some of our  highly addicted more enterprising students have been known to buy an entire dozen of the little pastries, hide them in their lockers, and, through careful rationing, make them last an entire quarter, just eating a bite a day, which is enough to get them past algebra the 10 o'clock morning slump.

Every year our demand gets higher. This year we have made just over 200 dozen. It really takes a crew of six people to churn out more than fifty dozen in a morning, but if the assembly line moves just right, it's possible. Two weeks ago, under near perfect conditions, we managed to make 89 dozen in seven hours, and that was counting clean-up.

That highly successful operation was just enough to make me foolish optimistic about making schnetke for my own Christmas gifts this year. We have a church full of loving  parishioners, and I thought, for once, I'd like to do something special for them.

Now it's a well-known fact that all of our church ladies can cook circles around me. Our pot-lucks are so famous we usually keep them secret or we'd end up with people from Minnesota and Mississippi in our fellowship hall. I usually bake a ham, because you really can't go wrong with that, and macaroni and cheese, because the kids will eat that, and I leave the fancy dishes and delectable deserts to those who really are competent chefs.
Even so, more brave than bright, I arose early in the morning, went up to the large church kitchen, made little stations as if I were going to have my normal assistants, and donned an apron.

After the first four batches, I called down to the house for help. Turtle came in, and I promptly sent him to the store for more flour. Claye came up to the kitchen, pinned her hair back and took over the job of rolling out the dough. I have to say I've never seen such beautifully rolled dough. (Compared to her normal medium, dough is easy, although she did complain a little about my wimpy little wooden roller)

Anyway, the day went well. By five o'clock, we had made three hundred schnetka without dropping or burning any. We did have a slight hitch, however. The pans I bought--all eight of them--were too shallow. Most people would have recognized that fact, after having baked 200 dozen, but I'm a study in obliviousness, and only became aware of the fact when both ovens began smoking. The gooey stuff was pouring over the edges of the pans and catching on fire at the bottom...schenetka flambe!

After that I started using cake pans and the gas oven. There were no more disasters problems. The fire department didn't ever catch on, and Turtle helped me scour the racks and gently ease out the charcoaled sugar. Today, I'm going to deliver the treats and go work on cleaning the ovens some more before the church ladies see them.

"So are you going to do this next year?" he asked, with all the cheery tactlessness innocence of a bystander late-coming, assistant. "because if you are, we need to buy the right pans."
"Nope. It always takes me a few years to forget the difficulties and tackle jobs like this again.
Next year, I'll bake cookies or something. After all, I now have 8 cookie sheet pans."

Here's a link to the recipe. I'm hoping if enough people learn to make their own schnetka, the job of senior sponsor will attract more volunteers.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Prepare a Place

Harry Brioche Prepare a place,
a quiet place.
Shut out all the clamor,
Wait there, alone 
He'll come

Moses built a heavy tent in the winds of howling wilderness.
Without was stench and the strident sound of a murmuring multitude;
Within, the smell of incense and the  quiet voice of God,
And Joshua with a patient face...listening.

David turned a crumbling cave into his sanctuary.
So while a jealous murderer scoured the landscape with his armies, relentlessly pursuing a one-sided war,
The psalmist cheered his weary soul with hushed and solemn songs in that
Hidden, holy place.
Manasseh, evil monarch taken captive into Babylon,
surrounded by dank walls of shadowed stone
caged up to face his own great wickedness
met God, and the cell became a refuge
more sacred than his once-consuming throne.

The mighty Nebuchadnezzar
Grass-grazing like an ox
While his million subjects turned their faces...
From the lunacy that locked him all alone into a raving world apart
Alone, he met the king of Heaven,
under a silent, dewy, dawn...and then he knew.

It need not be the finest hall
Gilded, jeweled and fragrant.
Just a place...a quiet place
where you invite a quiet chat
with your creator.
If you prepare the room,

He will visit.

Mary prepared an humble, little bed
A place of peace
In the middle of a turbulent night.
And God Himself came quietly to fill it
Slipping into the world
From an open door in Heaven
To meet mankind

Prepare a place,
a quiet place; shut out all the clamor,
And wait there, all alone with an open heart
Just wait...He'll come

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December Sunrise-Joy in the Morning

I took these pictures on the way to work this morning, so, although I left the house early, I walked into our meeting just a teensy, weensy bit late.
I'm guessing the pictures are worth it.

I know this one looks like a lake, but it isn't. . . simply the roof of my car, Dusky

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanks Thanks Thanks

If our entire family gets together--that is, my parents, siblings, spouses, and descendants--we currently number thirty. This year we had twenty eight at the Thanksgiving celebration. That's a lot to be thankful for. Here are my parents with all the grandchildren, their spouses, and the five great grandchildren.

Here are two of the youngest generation, marveling over two of Grandpa's amazing pumpkins. His two vines produced at least a dozen of these. I asked him if all the pumpkins were this big and he said, "Well, no, but the bigger ones wouldn't fit into the trunk." My mom said, "Well there's the explanation of your shoulder problem, right there!"
 This is the most anticipated table, of course, desserts that are normally forbidden for those of us on diets. Today was a free day. I overindulged until they were gone...and that includes a day of eating leftovers. Fortunately I had a little help, or I would have eaten myself into a sugar coma.
Here's my dad with Mim and Seansy.
Are you beginning to see a common theme here?

Well, there were other people here, of course, and other food besides dessert. Really good food, actually-- turkey, ham, dressing, gravy, veggies, potatoes, yams, corn, beans, snacky stuff, well...all the normal foods we enjoy.

Still, this was the most popular table, I'd say.
These are Hazel's delectable cream puffs, and a little corner of the most delicious chocolate cake in the world. I should know. I didn't let a crumb be wasted.
And here are a few random shots I threw in to make people say, "Oh why did you have to put that one in for everyone to see?"

I guess I can do that because I sure didn't take any pictures of myself.

When I look at this picture my heart overflows with gratitude.
These generations that flank my own--they are such a blessing to me.
Words aren't enough. I could cut and paste thanks for a year, and not express it.
Thanks, God. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

John the Baptist with Feet of Clay

For the last few Sundays during children's church, we've been modeling the story after I tell it. Each child gets a different color play-doh, and an assignment. The first Sunday we built Jerusalem surrounded by armies. This Sunday was John the Baptist with followers lined up to be baptized. No, I know there aren't supposed to be towers around the Jordan River. Just call them rock formations. When you have little boys in the picture, there always seem to be weapons popping up.
If you look closely at the bottom one you will see snakes lined up behind the believers. Those are Pharisees--fleeing from the wrath to come.

On a more serious note, three of our church children are getting baptized this Sunday. They've had long talks with parents, grandparents, and the church board of elders, and are excited to be taking this step of faith. I'm excited too. The water is a little clearer than the Jordan, and, as far as I know, there won't be any snakes attending.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Under a Lid

These are the kinds of clouds that hung over us all morning yesterday They don't have any rain in them, but the moisture they do have might be keeping the rain we got last week from evaporating. So we consider them friendly clouds.  See that little line right along the horizon? That's the real sky, trying to shine in under the door, so to speak.

By yesterday evening they had lifted a little, but still hovered over the land. These twisted trees didn't seem to mind. At least it wasn't wind or searing sun or ice. Just a thick, white cushion--quiet...still...peaceful...

It looks so peaceful.

It's hard to believe that Monday evening, one week ago, we had a tornado warning, (one was sighted in our area and several more southeast of us) a torrential downpour, (five and a half inches of rain in a few hours when we've only had six inches in the last twelve months) flooded streets (they actually had to block traffic on our street for a few hours), lightning (and its accompanying thunder), hail (pelting fiercely down to bounce off the drought-stressed lawn), high winds (up to 90 mile an hour gusts in some places), and an earthquake (seriously, in Oklahoma, a 4.7) just as we were going to bed. We didn't know whether to seek the highest or lowest shelter; whether to run out of doors to escape the earthquake threat or stay under a roof to protect ourselves from the lightning.  My sister-in-law suggested that, like the prophet Elijah, we should be listening for the still, small voice.

What I'm Sure Would Have Been an Amazing Picture if I had been Standing On a Hill

 This morning I woke up to this scene in my backyard. It looks ominous, but, since I didn't smell any smoke, I knew that it was only the sun's reflection against a voluminous cloud ceiling. If I had been as fast as any one of the superheroes in a b movie, I would have been able to regale you with pictures taken far away from the backside of a shed, with skies free of telephone line tangles. Alas. Being a mere human, I did my best. I ran to the front yard, jumped into my car...and the flaming sky was already gone. Thus I am able to offer only these peephole glimpses of what I was sure would have been a rare-coral November sky.

Friday, November 11, 2011


At 11:11 this morning, our superintendent announced over the intercom that we would take a moment out of our day to pray for veterans on their special day.  Since it was November 11th, in 2011, and we are now entering our 111th year of existence as a school, it seemed a special occasion.

(I knew there must have been some reason for me to have taken pictures of the sun, moon, and cows on the way to school this morning!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

All for a Few Good Pictures

Over the course of my life I have been asked to take a number of examinations to prove that I'm a sentient being, and I passed them all. In fact, the tests have universally agreed that I'm not overly deficient in intelligence and am capable of making rational decisions.

Unfortunately, you can't always tell that by my actions.  Yesterday was a case in point.

Although I had left school later than usual, and I knew that I needed to arrive home in time to run an errand or two before I had to dress up and come back to school to host a table for our annual school-supporters' banquet, I saw the clouds...and the sun...and the sun on the clouds..and the fields luxuriating under the new-fallen rain.  
Because we've been in a long, pitiless drought,
I wanted to see water. I plead that I was bewildered by welcome sights:  blue streams curving around green terraces, tree feet wading in puddles,  heavy clouds soft-shielding the sun.
I turned south and followed the country roads where pictures beckoned from every side.
Sounds rational, doesn't it?

It wasn't really.
I had forgotten one little item.
Dirt roads  covered by six inches of rain and left to sit overnight turn into mud.

Need I say that it was a long ride home? Need I explain that gravel roads make unusual furrows under the onslaught of flood run-off? Need I describe the blank stare of unconcerned cattle or the color of the mud that now coats the bottom third of my vehicle? I'll spare you.

The fact is, I made it home, finished my errands, arrived at the banquet on time, and nobody knows about my lapse of sanity...well, except you. You know now. And the cows. They know.