Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tagged. I'm it...again!

Over the weekend, Sonya at Truth 4 the Journey tagged me--and it's getting to be a long game of tag, here. Sonya and I started blogging within a few weeks of each other, though she is fresh off the 2008 She Speaks conference and has a bit more blogging knowledge under her belt than I do. Not to mention the fact that she is way wise in the ways of the faith and is generous in sharing with us how we can continue to grow and be like wise.

O.K. Here are the rules of this tag:
  • Link to the person who tagged you (see above)
  • Post the rules on your blog (this is what you are now reading)
  • Write 6 random things about yourself (see below)
  • Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them. (Well, I'm going to take a page from Chatty Kelly's blog and not tag everyone, necessarily. If you haven't played yet and you want to, copy the rules onto your site and go for it. If you don't, it's OK. And if you want to play but don't blog, write your 6 random things in the comments section. But, I do want to thank Sonya for her oh-so-thoughtful write-ups of her tag-ees!)
  • Let the tagger know when your entry is up (Thanks for the opportunity to play, Sonya!
Sue J.'s 6 Random Thoughts:
  1. I can't eat pepperoni anymore. Ever since I had acid reflux problems (due to overwhelming job stress), I haven't been able to eat pepperoni. Too spicy and greasy. Hasn't stopped me from eating sausage, though. Or chicken wings.
  2. I collect cows. (Ahem, cow stuff!) I used to live outside of Wisconsin (like, in the Chicago suburbs) and have a major affinity for dairy cows. My Virginia kitchen is covered, respectfully, with the black and white beauties of the "Cheesehead" state.
  3. I wear a cheap anklet with sunglasses charms on it every day in the summer, from the day we leave for the beach until the day before the first day of school. (There's a blog in that come September 1.)
  4. I still love listening to '70s radio. I grew up on WABC in New York and still mourn the fact that the day they switched from pop music to ALL NEWS was truly the day the music died....or video killed the radio star or.....some other sad song like that. (And sad songs say so much!)
  5. I sometimes bite off more than I can chew. I'm dealing with one of those situations right now. (Sigh!) But I must say that my priority shuffling is getting better and faster. The Bible has chastised me more than once in this area, and I need not look any further than my past and past discipline to remember my mistakes. Now, if I could just not have eyes that are bigger than my stomach at the buffet of great opportunities. (Man, does that sound like a blog, or what?)
  6. I shouldn't be blogging now. It's late. I have like 10 chapters of Isaiah Bible study to write about. But, it's that keeping up with the blog friends. Especially this summer, you all have been so great at keeping me thinking, keeping me writing, keeping me level-headed, keeping me laughing and laughing and laughing, and keeping me real. Thanks!

Monday, July 28, 2008

It's Not Just About the View With God


"It's not interpreted differently. It's viewed differently."
--Don Sutton, Baseball Hall of Famer,
on an umpire's view of the strike zone

If you didn't read Part I, you might want to trek back a blog.

The Bible is not exempt from the interpretation/view discussion either. Believers vs. non-believers; believers vs. believers; denomination vs. denomination, etc. The viewpoints on the Bible are as varied as the people God has created. What's tricky about discussing the Bible is that even translation comes into question. What is really being said? If this is God's universal and absolute truth, is there any way we can all know what it is? What is God's strike zone??

False teachers and prophets were aplenty in the days after Jesus' resurrection. His disciples truly had their work laid out for them, and Jesus told them as much.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you."
--Matthew 28: 19&20 (emphasis mine)

Teaching the truth was a major charge. John, one of Jesus' disciples, would continue to evangelize into his 80s, dispelling the false teachings that were starting to be viewed, if not interpreted, by churches as Biblical truth. Things are not that different today, which is probably why John's letters were planned by God in the first place. What? Churches not following the same truth? One might say that there is more argument over truth in the church than anywhere else (e.g., submission, baptism, homosexuality, monetary giving, even who is a Christian and who isn't).

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God."
--I John 4: 1&2

The key is the Spirit of God--the breath (and breadth) of our understanding His Word. God's truth is only known when we let God's Spirit interpret the truth. Remember, interpretation is defined as the "expression of one's conception of a work," here, meaning the Holy Spirit interprets God's work--his Creation and all truths pertaining to it. How you view that truth may vary from person to person, as it is His good will and pleasure to guide us with knowledge at a certain points in time.

We may embrace the truth immediately or we may misunderstand it for a time. We may live out the truth differently than friends who understand the same interpretation. (We all have different gifts--we don't all give or love or serve the same way.) Likewise, someone else may share your view of the truth (e.g., giving to help the neighborhood food bank), but not know the Holy Spirit. ("Giving to charity makes me feel good and it's tax-deductible," vs. "If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has not pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?" --I John 3:17) But, which is better in the long run? What view lands you in "the Hall of" Heaven?

I think Don Sutton's statement still holds up here if we are talking about Spirit-led interpretation. We are operating in God's parameters when our interpretation of the Bible is in step with the Spirit, not with the world. Our view of the truth may be seen from a different perspective, but, with the Holy Spirit's direction, it will change to be more of a direct match with God's strike zone.

However, it is not enough to maintain only the same view of truth without a solid home base in Biblical interpretation.That would imply that the interpretation of God's strike zone was not absolute.

Hmm.... A world without absolutes....

No wonder Jesus says, essentially, "it's a whole new ballgame" when we come to Him. If Jesus spoke "in baseball," he might have been quoted in Matthew 9: 37 & 38 as follows:

"Then he said to his umpires, 'The pitches are plentiful but the called strikes are few. Ask the Lord of the ballpark therefore to send out coaches into his umping field."

Saturday, July 26, 2008

It's Not Just About the View: Part I

Since moving to the Metro D.C. area--and that's a bit of a stretch being two hours away--I've become a big fan of the Washington Nationals. (That's baseball!)

Former L.A. Dodger pitcher and Hall of Famer, Don Sutton, is one of the analysts announcing the games on MASN (the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network). He's probably the smartest commentator I have ever heard, except that he mixes up Nats pitcher Tim Redding with Braves pitcher Tim Hudson when the two teams compete.

In one of the early games of this season, Sutton commented on the umpire's view of the strike zone. The behind-the-plate ump for the game seemed to be off in another zone, if you will. But, Sutton said he was being consistent, and that was OK. He further explained by saying the following:
"It's (the strike zone) not interpreted differently.
It's viewed differently."
I'm thinking we sometimes interchange those words with a bit more freedom than we should. 'Interpretation' is an explanation; a meaning; the expression of one's conception of a work. 'View' is what one sees upon examination; the visual appearance of something; a judgment or opinion about something.

Sutton's point was that the ump's strike zone that night was within industry parameters. But, every ump being different--size, stance, "ghost measurement accuracy" (my own term meaning, umps don't physically measure the strike zone or wear night-vision goggles with MASN's "pitch track" illuminated inside on a screen)--the strike zone viewed by each ump may vary slightly. Left, right, up, down--just so long as it's consistent from pitcher to pitcher, batter to batter--it's OK. The integrity of the strike zone is still solid.

I find parenting is a lot like that, too. Often, it's not a question of interpretation, but point of view. Do children need discipline? Yes. Interpretation is not required. How do you view children needing discipline? Hmm... Different perspective entirely. You can almost see the teams taking the field--Spankers vs. Time-Outers; Clean-Platers vs. Eat-In-Moderationists; Countdowners vs. Come-Now-Or-Elsers, etc.

You might think we view a lot of things strangely at our house. My girls jump on a trampoline, swing and use a trapeze bar--all indoors. We play soccer ball in the hall, when someone isn't using the scooter, that is. Daughter #2 gnaws on sports ball ice packs. And, yes, I'm a short-order cook. ACK! The mom bloggers are either hardly waiting to tell me the damage I'm doing or to cheer me on, while the parenting publication editors are either hardly waiting to use me as an illustration for the damage I'm doing to my kids or debating if this is story-worthy. ("Doesn't have the juicy vibe of the 18 month old in England who only eats chips.")

But, since I bring her up, the interpretation of "care for a child" includes "feed the child." The viewpoint that "French fries are the only thing she will eat. I've tried everything," is not one I see. But, more and more, it's the type of view I don't consider "out of the strike zone," given the "plays" made in our house. We share the same interpretation.

I think I'm understanding more and more about the expression 'judgment call,' and this ump is trying not to issue one to others as quickly as I have in the past. These days, it's more important for me to maintain the integrity of the strike zone as I have been called to see it.

On Monday, Part II--"It's Not Just About the View With God"

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stop, Children, What's That Sound?

Daughter #2 has major sleep issues. There is rarely a night that she can sleep through. Please don't send suggestions. It's a you-have-to-know-her issue. She will outgrow this stage in time (a relative term).

So, it's one of those really bad nights when she cannot be settled back to sleep. She's up at 2 a.m., and I know she won't fall off again until 5! That's just how it goes on a really bad night. At least I know this so I'm mentally prepared, as much as one can be for 2 a.m. (I'm not a nursing mom anymore. The special post-midnight cognition hormones just aren't being produced.)

I sleep on the floor in her room and try to "sh" her to sleep. Her sound machine (minus Miami Gloria and all the conga drums) is playing "rain," which is the nicest monotony over "white noise." She kicks and thrashes. I tell her, "You're OK." She tries to sleep, then starts talking about Blue's Clues. As pleased as I am that she has choreographed her own special version of Blue and Steve's "Buddy Boogie," I don't want to hear about it at 2:37 a.m.

I try to sleep anyway. There is really nothing I can do to help her, but that doesn't mean I can say, "See ya later" either.

But, I must have dozed off. In what seems like the next minute (and perhaps it was), I awaken to the horribly loud sound of something tumbling. And, like the father in "The Night Before Christmas" poem, I sprang from my ...um...floor...to see what was the matter.

Out to the hall I go and into Daughter #1's room, because all I can imagine is that she has fallen out of the top of her bunk bed and hit every step down the ladder on her way to the bathroom. I dash into her room and find her in deep sleep--and not at the base of the ladder, either.

OK, then... a little out of breath and wondering. So, what could that have been?

I scan the upper hall and the door to each room. Thinking... Processing.... Not outside. Not a computer, Tide bottle, hubby.... Bathroom--uh...Oh!

Fishy!!

The fish-shaped bath mat.

Usually, Fishy sticks up by his suction cups to the kids' shower wall. The air-conditioned coolness must have caused the de-suctioning, sending Fishy head first into the in-shower hand rail, off the opposite tub wall and finally, in an echoing crash--taking out the floor mat--to the tub floor.


"Fishy..." I murmur in a voice recalling Jerry Seinfeld mourning his life's woes with the mumble of a single word ("Newman...").

I return to Daughter #2's floor. Do you ever have the urge to put an inanimate object into time-out? ("But, Mom, the A.C. made me slip off the wall. It wasn't my fault.") Yeah, right. What's the use?

A few more minutes on the floor--my two knees throbbing in pain from the rug burns I received in the "sprang" and Daughter #2's now fully alive monologue--soon gave me to know I would sleep in her bed.

"But I heard her exclaim ere she tucked herself tight,
'Happy fish mess to all and to all a good night!'"

(With multiple apologies to Clement Moore)

Exactly 5 more months 'til Christmas Eve.....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Seven-Year Switch (A Light Bulb of an Idea)

What if God had meant for appliances, gadgets and household fixtures to have everlasting life on earth? We might not need any electricity or batteries, although everyone needs a re-charging now and again. (Can you imagine the Spa for Weary Appliances? Spin classes for washers and dryers. Toasters roasting in a tanning bed--#4, medium brown, please. Stove top massages. They don't even have a holiday, you know!)

Everything would heat, cool, clean, light up, sound off and otherwise function according to expectations, right? But, that would imply that such items were without sin. Alas, even if God had planned for our appliances to have everlasting life, failure would still come into play sometime, figuring God made appliances a little lower than man and definitely lower than the angels. (The Bible also doesn't say that when Eve needed a helper(s!), that He crafted a dishwasher from her rib.)
I'm non-electrically shocked at how the lifespan of appliances is on the decline. The CDC surely must have stats to back me up, if not Sony or G.E. We had our last TV for 15 or so years. When its sound finally died, my husband declared it ancient anyway. "They only last a few years," he says. And when appliances die, you don't go to the appliance repair man any more. "Cheaper to buy a new one," he says. Not to mention the extras that come with the most current installment of whatever you're buying, (i.e., curling iron, version X.1 with free WiFi software).

We've been fairly early adopters of technology at our house. Part of that comes from the two of us being television/radio majors and generally techno-curious.
But, while my hubby easily parts with and replaces items, I will do anything possible to preserve their use. This is why we're putting all things toastable through the machine twice these days. The toaster's inner heating element is broken, so we have to flip the toastables if we want the other side toasted. As you can imagine, it's only a matter of time before my way is the highway to toaster heaven.

If you asked me, "Does your chewing gum lose its flavor on the bedpost overnight?" I'd say, "No." I expect things to outlast my expectations. Thankfully, a new type of technology has emerged--the new breed of fluorescent light bulbs. Longer life! Yes!! I just had to replace the over-the-kitchen spotlight. "Lasts 7 years," proclaimed the package. Wow! I won't have to change that bulb for seven years!! Take that one off my to-do list for a while. Give me a survey, quick, so I can check "Exceeds expectations." What will be next? (Or, maybe my new toaster will come with software to fix my car's "Check Brake Light" warning message.)


Your turn--What appliance has exceeded your expectations (if not its 'natural' life)? Who's going to the Appliance Hall of Longevity (besides my heating-challenged toaster)?

* * *

Postscript: I wrote this last Thursday for publication today. On Saturday, hubby brought home a new chrome-finished Hamilton Beach toaster. (Did I tell you?) But, true to my word, our old Cuisinart has new life as a bagel toaster--one side toasted, one side plain. Someone at Goodwill will love it (and have their name on the plaque of ownership in the Appliance Hall of Longevity instead of me).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

When Good Pastors Leave



Since I only believe in a Godly coincidence, perhaps I should not have been surprised when my friend's blog about changing churches came out the same week as my pastor's letter announcing that he was changing churches.

I have not yet experienced a pastor's leaving that I have enjoyed. I was a few months into my return to the church when the pastor left. An invaluable interim pastor that I helped bring on board was let go too soon. And then, there was the pastor who really focused me on my place in ministry, the one for whom I gave a speech at his "early retirement" party.... I would later learn he committed a trespass that would have led to his ouster from the ministry. Not an enjoyable time!

I've been in few churches, but I have known some fine pastors. My current pastor is no exception. He's spent 20 years at my church, overseeing its growth from a congregation of less than 100 to one now some 1,000 in number. He is a gifted educator. A teaching pastor. Reformed theologist. A sports afficionado. One who doesn't care if it's traditional or contemporary or blended so long as God is praised! A wordsmith. A storyteller. Thoughtful devotion writer. A Dad and a Grandfather. And a wonder with names! When your church is a Godly AND personal place--the pastor knows your name, welcomes you by name, asks how you are doing by name--you feel at home.

"Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me."
--Mark 9:37


I've known my pastor since 2001. He helped me make the decision to join my church. He supported me in my Mothers of Preschoolers and handbell ministry leadership. He could tell when things weren't right with me and pulled me aside to ask. He referred me to some outside help when my circumstances required the caring touch of another, and prayed through all my rough patches that he knew about. He knows his limitations and he's never shied away from sharing his "liabilities," as he puts it in his letter.

* * *



So, I'm ricing sweet potatoes today thinking, "I know there's an analogy in sweet potato ricing...."
Good pastors are like sweet potatoes that go through a ricer--the best are soft, warm people who, when called to go through the church ricing plate, influence many fine relationships that foster the development of the Christian, while maintaining their own integrity and flavor.
Now, there are different numbers and sizes of holes in ricing plates, depending on the output one is seeking.
Thin puree is produced with the plate that has the tiniest and largest amount of holes, and made easiest with water-logged potatoes. A thicker puree comes by using a plate with wider, sparsely placed holes, and potatoes that are rich in substance.


Today's church (i.e., church "model") has grown so big and complicated that the pastors are asked (NOT!) to be pressed by the church through the tiniest and most densely packed number of holes, to meet the needs of multitudes upon multitudes. To accomplish this, pastors often become water-logged (i.e., trend-focused) rather than meaty (i.e., Biblical) potatoes. Whether today's puree is worth the product of ricing our pastors so thin is a blog for another day. (It's a culinary trend gracing too many menus--a churchy nouvelle cuisine that ain't good soul food!)

* * *

As my pastor leaves for a church with a much smaller congregation that dreams of having more holes in its ricing plate, I pray that he will remember all his gifts, remember his limits, remember his true callings, remember our names (occasionally), and continue to be the God-fearing, "meaty potato", man of prayer that he is, finding joy in the making of not mush but a fine sweet potato casserole, topped with God's sweet blessings (and lots of sunshine
)!


Bon appetit!


Friday, July 18, 2008

The Ultimate Driving Machine: I'll Never Know One



I have absolutely no confidence in my relationship with automobiles right now. Rattle-rattle thunder clatter BOOM-BOOM-BOOM...the Midas touch...Double A-(Beep-Beep)-M-C-O might as well all be plugged into my GPS.

My car--my dark blue Volvo station wagon--has been in the shop for almost a week. In my last trip to the dealer (see blog), the mechanics finally found the leak in the radiator that my husband suspected was there a year ago.

"So, what's the next step?" I asked my dealer service guy.

"Well, you need a new radiator," he said.

Now, without much warranty left on the car, it was time to search out newer (i.e., better, less expensive, not the dealer) mechanics to take care of the job (and maybe reset my car's computer with the "Check Brake Light" warning message). I called a place that had serviced the car in the past, and they said they could take it. Would I mind bringing it by to make sure they got the right radiator? (Good move) I gave them the OK to order the part and waited for them to call and begin work.

And waited...and waited... (2 weeks later)

After vacation, I remembered I was driving a car with a dysfunctional radiator. I called my new mechanic guy.

"I was calling about my radiator."

"Yeah, I completely forgot about that. What happened to that?"

He would later change his statement to say that he hadn't forgotten about the radiator. His supplier simply hadn't shown up with the supply. (Do I bow out now?)

He called the supplier--while I was still on the line with him (good move)--and the supplier promised delivery in the morning. OK. We dropped off the car that evening.

("Hey, your left brake light's out," my husband says. "What?!?? OUT!?!? This is, of course, the one "fixed" by the dealer on the last visit. "I'll fix it," he says. I'm too out-of-sorts for words at this point.)

The mechanic said he needed a day and a half. I call him when it's been this much time, since I haven't heard from him.

"Um...We don't have a radiator."

"What?!"

"The one we got doesn't fit your car. We're calling around for other ones," he said. "There's something about your car...."

"Can I have my car back?" I asked, anticipating the weekend and a busy start to the next week.

"No...It doesn't have a radiator. We took it out."

The expression 'Doh!' comes to mind, but I don't usually have Homer Simpson moments. I sat back on the sofa and did the only thing that made sense.

"God, you know how I feel about car troubles. I don't know what I'm doing. I just know things aren't right. I want to be calm. I need to be flexible. Please help me to trust you, even with something like car trouble."

The mechanic called back within 10 minutes of that last conversation. (Good move) He secured a radiator. It will arrive on Monday. And, he has a loaner car for me! Within the time he says, he arrives at our front door with the key to our 'new' car.

"And I'm sorry, Ma'am." (Very good move)

Praise God for His provision and unmistakably perfect timing!

* * *

"Mom, our car is better than this one," says Daughter #1, as she proceeds to point out the flaws in our 'new' driving machine.

True, it's a mechanic's dream. A little replacement metal on the outside. So
me torn interior on the inside. (The fabric lining the roof interior actually hangs down like a curtain for the back window.) Dead spider. Matches in the door pocket. And that very familiar scent of Eau de Garage--part oil, part grease, part cigarettes, part rubber, part guys-who-work-in-cars-all-day. If Sanford and Son had a car, this would be theirs. (And if Sanford and Son hooked up the with Sanford/Townsend Band, they'd have had a hit with "Smoke from a Distant Junk Truck Fire." But, I digress....)

Still, it's an answer to prayer.

But, the Dodge Intrepid is not without mechanical challenges. The fuel light comes on regularly and the fuel gauge rises and falls with the turns in the road. The steering wheel creaks like a dungeon door when you turn it. The window and door locks are not very lockable. And today, a strange knocking from the glove compartment. For a car whose name means "not alarmed, anxious or afraid," I'm starting to feel Intrepid-less!

And, it's a good thing, because, 15 minutes before closing time at the shop, my mechanic gives me a buzz. My Volvo is ready to come home from sleepaway camp! We rush to pick it up before they close. I pull into the lot and turn the key to our loaner for the last time.

"You returning 'Our Chariot'?" asked a shop employee.

"Yes," I said, choking back gobs of laughter. A mechanic's dream--did I tell ya?

I'll take my boring Swedish wagon over the Roman coach any day--except for those days when God gave me the opportunity to ride in a chariot...even though I'm still no Ben Hur!

(And now...about that "Check Brake Light" warning message....)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lather, Rinse, Repeat...Results!



At the close of our church’s Vacation Bible School, I realized just how easy it can be to put God’s Word into practice. Yeah—easy, I said, given the proper preparation.

We had been inundated with repetition of “Bible points" and “treasure verses.” We heard the same things in the worship time, the songs we sang, the descriptions of the “Bible Buddies” characters (who have the verses on them), the games we played, the stories we saw enacted, the videos we watched, and—yes—even the snack we ate (cheese and crackers arranged in the shape of a cross, for instance).
And, there was repetition of prior lessons discussed the next day!

The kids said the points out loud in all their stations. How could they not get the points?! Plus, they had quite a bit of fun learning the Bible.
So, grown-ups, what’s our issue? I read Barrack Obama’s comment from a few weeks ago.

“People are just not reading the Bible,” he said.

Not to get into the James Dobson/Obama controversy, but Obama’s quote has some validity. Everyone isn’t reading the Bible.
Bible verses are not just things learned in Sunday School or VBS as a child. If we’re “walking the talk,” we need to be reading as regularly as we read the daily Internet news summary or a friend’s blog. We need to find a way to put the "Bible points” into practice.

Simple example from that VBS week: One of my group members—a rising third-grader—said that she didn’t like the cheese on her snack. She wanted a cookie.
I said she needed to ask the Snack Helper. She said she was afraid.

“Afraid?!” I said. “What did we learn this week...yesterday…? Jesus gives us the power to be brave! (Bible point) And He gives us the power to help others. (Another Bible point) “Who will help her walk to the Snack Helper to ask for a cookie?” I said.

The other kids in the room caught on immediately and brought the shy girl some cookies.


“And God gave us the power to be thankful. (Yet another Bible point) We learned that on Monday. Thank you for bringing her a cookie!" The connections weren't lost on the girl, the other kids or the Snack Helper--and there were smiles all around.


Three days…3 Bible points. In under 3 minutes, God’s Word in action—Aha!!!!!

Grown-ups, Children of God: Lather, rinse, repeat! Or: Read, use what you have read, repeat!


It could be described as the KISS principle—Keep It Simple (and) Saturate!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pick Me a Blueberry...or More



"One berry
Two berry
Pick me a blueberry...."

So starts Bruce Degen's delightful rhyming children's story, Jamberry. Both of my girls love the journey of a boy and a bear picking various kinds of berries for a "jam jamboree." Daughter #2 even enjoys the end of the book, hearing of Degen's personal account of picking berries with his grandparents, and making pies and jams, and eating fresh washed berries.

My Ohio sister and her three children started us on an annual pilgrimage for blueberries. When Daughter #1 was very young--one or two--we picked with their family out there. She loved it! Spent most of her time picking the berries and popping them into her mouth!



Now, because of the timing of our larger family reunion vacation at the beach, my sister's family misses going picking at their local farm. So, they have moved the tradition to Virginia. Whoever stays with us after the beach can enjoy--given a proper growing season--some very fine berry picking.


This year, we picked some 40 pounds of blueberries! Eleven of us, ages 3 to 70, filled up bucket after bucket of big juicy blues. Never mind that the bushes are so thick that you can hardly see the person next to you.Or that you have to don hats and sunscreen to ward off the hot sun and brush aside the hungry Japanese beetles to find the bursting blue blobs on the inside twigs.


It's all about the hunt! The biggest bluest berries mean the sweetest, fruitiest treats!

Daughter #2 amazed me with her interest and focus, filling up half a bucket by herself (and most of them were actually blue berries--not too many white, pink or pale green ones). Daughter #1 was on a personal quest to "beat Grandma," and, with some help from her cousin, topped the bucket for the first time ever!



(In Grandma's defense, she and Grandpa were late to arrive at the farm and had limited picking time. Oh, they picked plenty, even with that handicap!)

And what does one do with 40 pounds of blueberries?! First, you try to send as many as possible away, because storing that many blueberries robs you of fridge and freezer space! Truly, as the family reunion tour rolls to northern locations, the blueberries travel, too.

Second, if you are fortunate enough to have nieces and nephews who love to cook, you are quickly graced with blueberry buckle, blueberry nut bread, blueberry pies, blueberry sauce, and blueberry muffins and pancakes!

Third, those blueberries the family throws back into your fridge, because their cars are overloaded, are soon washed, bagged and frozen. They'll make an appearance in a blueberry pie or cobbler around Thanksgiving--a reminder of God's bounty in an "off-season" for the berry. (I freeze cranberries in December and serve them up in muffins come Spring and Summer, too.)


"Mountains and fountains
Rain down on me
Buried in berries
What a jam jamboree!"



Saturday, July 12, 2008

My Husband is Not the Maytag Repair Man

Being without a clothes dryer for a few days--and then working with a brand new one--gave me a startlingly new appreciation for the "workers" in my home.

So, I'm proposing a new national holiday--because, goodness knows, we don't have enough of these made-up ones already.


(Drum roll, please)

National Appliance Appreciation Day

(Cymbal crash)

Why not?!?

Do you ever stop to think about how many appliances we use in a day? Big ones. Little ones. Medium ones. Girly ones. Manly ones. Kiddos. Want to fill up your mind with useless stuffing? Make a list with me.

Alarm clock
Electric toothbrush
Electric razor
Hair dryer
Curling, flat or other iron
Fridge or freezer
Toaster or toaster oven
Microwave or full-blown oven
Range, griddle, waffle iron
Coffee maker, Hot-Shot, juicer
Dishwasher, disposal, compactor
Under-the-cabinet radio, TV, CD, DVD
Computer
Dustbuster or Robo-Vac

And that's all before 8 a.m., probably.

What do we give to these tireless personal assistants? They are there for us day in and day out, never complaining about our strange looks and behavior. Never demanding a vacation. What do we reward them with? A bonus? A lunch out? Flowers? Spa treatment? A pat on the back??

Sadly, it's often a kick, slam, drop or shove, as we're in a hurry doing our thing or frustrated that our thing isn't going the way it should. Do we even offer to give them a bath or other cleaning? An oiling? A day off??

The very least we can do is a holiday. A moment of appreciation acknowledging all of the appliances that do all of those jobs for which we have no patience or interest in doing or, seemingly, have lost the ability to do for ourselves.

National Appliance Appreciation Day (a.k.a., Humans Are Spoiled!)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hold the Pickles! Hold the Lettuce! Yeah....It's That Good

What’s that?”

“My blog.”

“My blog?”

“Yeah…. I like it.”

“Really? My blog…. Well, I’ve heard of it. It’s a nice presentation, but…. You don’t seem to be enjoying it much.”

“Nah. You know, it’s funny but, lately, it’s actually been rather stale.”

“Stale?!”

(Coughing) “Sometimes it can be a little dry, and I like it that way, but….”

“Toasted?”

“Um… No, just dry. But it usually has a lot of fresh meat and tons of flavor. If anything, it goes overboard on the condiments. Some folks get lost in the condiments.”

“Like too much spicy mustard?”

“Spicy? No, my blog is rarely spicy.”

“Pickles?”

“Um…Sometimes my blog releases some well-preserved, vacuum-packed zinginess, but….”

“Mayo? Ketchup? Salsa??”

(Sigh) “It’s stale, like someone took it out of the fridge and left it on the hot sand for a week or more. The meat still lingers of smokiness, which I don’t like. It’s got this strange essence to it, like someone added too much sea salt. Yeah, it looks good. Nice brown color. But, it’s totally lacking vibrancy (i.e., cowbell). Too many cooks, perhaps…like the head chef went on vacation and let kids run the kitchen.”

“Gee…Maybe I should get something else.”

“What are you, crazy!??!”

“Huh?”

“You don’t dump my blog off your personal menu board because it’s stale.”

“You don’t?”

“No!”

“Why not?”

“Because…. I still like it.”

(Long puzzled glance. Shrugs shoulders.) “OK…. Can I have some?”

“Maybe tomorrow. I think I hear the meat truck coming.”