Archive for June, 2009

Which car’s in Ozark?

Remember that logic problem about how to get a chicken, a fox, and bag of grain across the river?  Well, I think we can top that.

When you run a used car lot, there are repairs to be done, and as is the case with so many facets of life, they tend to come in multiples.

So the van has been needing a fuel injector cleaning and a tune-up, and it happens now to be due for an oil change.  The first two are a big deal, requiring the van to be left at the shop (in Ozark 20 miles north of here) for “most of a day.”  We waited to have the work done, as per the mechanic’s instruction because the “check engine” light had been coming on intermittently for about a month.  He recommended we wait on the two big services (several hundred dollars) till the “check engine” light was staying on all the time, because then he could diagnose and fix whatever that was while he had everything else torn apart.  Paying to have the engine torn apart once instead of twice sounded good to me.

Fine.  The “check engine” light is now staying on constantly, so we decided to have all that work done today – Monday.

To have the van in Ozark at 8:00 AM on Monday, we decided Jessica would follow me up there in the red Toyota (Red for short, and it has no AC), leaving the house at 7:30 AM.  Then, whenever the van was ready, sometime before 5:00 PM, we’d sweat our way back to Ozark and pick it up.  Yes, we’d both be out an hour and a half of time, but that’s the price we pay to drive used cars.  Scott and Katie both had to work Monday, and Josiah’s not yet legal, so our options were limited.

But Sunday morning, ten minutes before we were to pile into the van to go to church, Scott decided it would be better to take the Red on to Ozark on our way.  (We drive past Ozark to get to church in Springfield.)  That way, on Monday morning, I could just drive the van to Ozark, leave it with its doctors, and drive the Red back home. Okay. I asked Scott who would be driving the Red, and he said “Jessica.”  Had he asked Jessica about this?  “Yes.”

Five minutes later, when Jessica came down, I asked her if her dad had talked to her about her driving the Red to Ozark.  “He mentioned it to me, but I don’t know if I can do it, because I don’t know if I can stay awake.”  Note that Jessica always sleeps in the van on the way to church.  Further note that Katie, Jessica, and Josiah had just (in the White Toyota) driven in Saturday night from an AIM event in St. Louis , arriving home at about 12:20 AM.  They were all horridly sleep-deprived. The 12:20 was actually earlier than anticipated, because they had not gone on into Branson to drop the luggage and gear they were transporting for other members of the AIM team.  They had just come straight home, left all the gear crammed in the White’s trunk, and planned for Katie to take it into the AIM office on Monday when she went to work.

So I told Scott that Jessica was too sleepy to drive the Red to Ozark, and Katie probably was, too.  That would leave only him to drive it.  I said that there was no need at all to take the Red to Ozark, because Jessica and I would just handle it Monday morning, but the idea was firmly embedded in his brain, filed neatly under “Concepts that Cannot Be Dislodged.”

I took my stuff out to the van and got loaded up to leave.  As the various offspring stumbled out of the house and toward the van, I noticed that some of them were putting things and/or themselves into the White.  I asked why.  “Dad’s gonna drive the White to Ozark.”  But I thought he was gonna drive the Red.  It seemed to me that this would be a problem come Monday morning, when Katie would need to drive the White to work.  I mentioned this, but was brushed off.  Scott would drive the White.  Well, fine.  He was in the White with the boys, and I was in the van with the girls.  I pulled out.

A mere mile up the road, one of the girls mentioned something about the stuff in the trunk of the White, and that made me realize that if we did indeed leave the White in Ozark, I would not get home with it before Katie would need to drive it and its trunkload of AIM stuff to work.

Furthermore, we had JUST realized on Thursday (6/25) that the White’s tags would expire the end of the month (Tuesday 6/30).  Katie would HAVE to take it for an inspection on Monday in order to get the tags on Tuesday, and that would not be able to happen if the White were in Ozark.  I reached for my phone to call Scott and give him this glorious news.  In reaching I noticed his phone in the floorboard of the van.  On top of his Bible.  And beside his wallet.  Which contains his driver’s license.

I pulled off at Dunn Road and flagged him down as he came by.  Too indignantly, I admit, I asked WHY he was driving the White instead of the Red.  He asked if his phone was in the van.  I was about to hand it to him, when he said they (the guys) would just park the White there and pile into the van.  And I said, “there’s no point leaving the White only a mile from home.  Let’s just go home and I’ll pick you up there.”  Back at the house, I suggested he just drive the Red as he had earlier said.  And he did.  But on the way to Ozark in the Red, he evidently noticed something amiss with its brakes.

(To Be Continued. . . )

Whole lotta dying goin’ on

It’s beginning to get depressing.  In just the past sixteen days. . .

Don Deal died.  He was our 71 year old neighbor and all-round nice guy.  He’d had many health problems for a long time, had suffered another heart attack, had been in the hospital a week, made great improvement, was going to be moved out of ICU into a private room the next day, and died.  His wife of 20 years, Eva, has now been widowed twice and is devastated.

Doug Decker’s mom died.  Doug’s the head of the TV department at church and one (maybe the youngest?) of six kids.  His dad died three months ago.  His mom was healthy, but developed an intestinal blockage, went into the hospital, and died.  How much grief can one family handle in three months?

Mary Varner died.  Mary was married to my grandpa, who had died several years ago.  Mary was in her nineties and had been living in a nursing home.  She was taken to the hospital for some tests, but commented that she didn’t have an ache in her body.  Mary was just old.  Tragically, I doubt she was a Christian.

Rick Cochran’s grandfather died.  Rick’s one of the associate pastors at church.  His wife leads worship, and when our world got wilder than usual Sunday morning, and Katie realized she was going to be late to help with the computer for the words on the screen, and called Rick’s cell to ask him to let Nicole know, she found out that Rick was not at the church at all but at his grandfather’s funeral.  Sheesh.

Oscar Hicklin died.  Oscar was probably in his late 70s, a white-haired, short, portly, cheerful usher at church.  He’d been sick for about a year with cancer and hadn’t been to church in a long time.  He was really touch and go there for a while, but in Sunday’s bulletin this blurb appeared, “Praise Report:  Oscar Hicklin’s last doctor’s report shows him cancer free!  Continue to pray for him to gain strength so we can see him at church soon!” Obviously you can’t print bulletins at the very last minute, but Sunday morning, Pastor Jess told us that he had gotten word Saturday that Oscar had died.

Kay Cameron died.  My great friend and neighbor, LaShell, has a sister, Denise, who lives in Colorado with her husband, Kirk.  Kay was Kirk’s mom.    On June 18, LaShell sent me this urgent prayer request:  “My sister and brother-in-law are in from Colorado.  When they arrived on Monday, her husband’s mother, Kay Cameron, was not doing very well and was admitted on Tuesday to the hospital, being upgraded to ICU.  Kay was diagnosed with COPD and pneumonia, which is a shock to everyone.  She has never smoked and is allergic to smoke.  This morning her lung has collapsed and they have inserted a tube to re-inflate it.  Kay is under weight and is in a very weakened state.  Please pray for a healing touch to her whole body, but specifically her lungs.  Her heart is strong.  Thank you.  We serve a big and mighty God.” We prayed.  She died Saturday.

Death has been a recent theme in realms far beyond my little world, with celebrities Ed McMahon, Farrah Faucett, and Michael Jackson all breathing their last this week, as well.  Their passings received more acclaim than the ones that have touched me personally, but their absences leave no bigger holes in families’ and friends’ lives.   For those of us who remain, the grave does still sting. . . but we look expectantly to the day when even death will bow its knobby knee to the King of kings.

Starts with ‘p’

So dad and the kids are swimming down at the creek, and Scott is talking about a proposed family trip.  Discussing possible details, he says, “I’m thinking about borrowing the K family’s camper.”  Josiah replies, “Isn’t that a little prepositionous?  I mean, prepositional?”

We have tomatoes

They are very small and green, but I am fairly sure they are tomatoes.

Given all my tomato disease problems in the past, this year we took drastic measures.  We dumped the barrels and bought all new soil, peat moss, and manure.  To get optimum disease resistance, I paid dearly online for several varieties seeds that were SURE to resist the dreaded fungal wilt.  However, I got them started inside too late, and I ended up having to go buy some plants at Lowe’s.

I selected “Celebrity,” because it was the only indeterminate variety there that had  VFFNT disease-resistance.  I spent under $4.00 for those nine sprigs, planted them deeply, and hoped fervently that fungal wilt would never attack their green leafy tenderness.

It did and I wanted to CRY!  Only a few weeks after being planted, their leaves were steadily being covered with little brown spots, then wilting and falling off.  One plant was so significantly diseased that I pulled it out and threw it away.  Extremely discouraged, I went online and read all I could about wilt, how to prevent it, and how to treat it.  Copper and anti-fungal chemicals were both recommended.  Back to Lowe’s I trotted.  A very helpful lady in the lawn and garden area helped me find the juice I needed.  It kills bugs as well as fungal diseases. For the price, it should also do the dishes and fold laundry.

The instructions said to apply it once a week till the problem was resolved, then once every two weeks thereafter.  I am very pleased to report that after three applications, my tomato plants are doing much better.  I don’t know if I dare describe them as “thriving,” but they all have healthy green growth and lots of flowers.

The two barrels sit side-by-side, nearly touching each other, and they have exactly the same proportions of the same components in their soils, but the plants in the northern barrel are noticeably fuller and much taller than the plants in the southern barrel.  However, the tomatoes are all on the plants in the southern barrel!  Go figure.  I am just thrilled that the leaves are looking significantly less spotty and there are three miniature green fruits out there.

Two by two

For the past few days, although not today, I have seen two lovely softshell turtles in the creek under the bridge!  One is larger than the other, about dinner plate size, and the other is sandwich plate size.  They are both dark brown with black speckles.  Jessica used to see turtles like that under the bridge a few years ago, but I haven’t actually seen them in a very long time.

Then yesterday afternoon, while I was cooking, I looked out the kitchen window and saw a thin brown dog in our back yard.  Actually, it was probably over the property line in the neighbor’s yard; it was hard to tell.  Brown dogs are common around here.  The Aselins have one, Sparky, and the Ipocks have one, Molly, and there’s usually a brown stray or two wandering the area.

So that dog standing there didn’t really make much of an impact, until I glanced again and saw that there were suddenly two of them, side by side.  And they weren’t dogs.  They were very young deer!  No white spots from where I could see, but they surely were babies.  We watched them for a few minutes.  Next glance they were gone.

More than recognition

It turns out that Katie won more than prestige by being nominated as the MAP at work last week.  The MAP also gets a $50 gift card to any store of his/her choice!  Wow!  Katie selected the VF Outlet, which is a nice place to get good deals on casual clothes.  She and Jessica went shopping Monday night and, by spending a mere $5 of her own money in addition to the gift card, came away with seven new tops.  Since they both wear the same size, I think there will be considerable shirt-sharing going on around here.

Big Brother’s America

1984 was required reading when I was in high school, and at the time (1976?) it really troubled me deeply.  The ideas presented in that book caused real, heartsick fear in my 16 year old gut.  Now, 30+ years later, I must say that reading it was nowhere near as scary as watching it come to pass right before my eyes.

Just within the past week, I have heard news stories about concerted efforts on the part of “our” (?) government to:

~ determine and control how much interest credit card companies can charge  (uhmmm. . . whatever happened to free enterprise?)

~ require Americans to have health insurance  (excuse me, but I thought that how I spend my money – or not – for my health care was my business?)

~ regulate the salaries of high officials in financial companies  (is this China or Russia we’re talking about?)

Of course, “our” government already owns a chunk of the U.S. auto industry, with no telling how many other formerly private industries it will soon be swallowing, hook, line, and sinker.  And now, not only do “we” provide free food, spending money, and health care for those citizens and illegal immigrants who don’t or won’t work, “we” are bailing out people who didn’t use the sense God gave a centipede when they bit off insanely more mortgage than they could possibly chew.

I feel like Archibald in Veggie Tales, who says, “Where’s MY water buffalo?!?!?”

I can tell you that “our” government isn’t helping pay our mortgage, buy our groceries, or cover our health care.  In fact, we actually have to make tough choices on how our dollars are spent – unlike “our” government, which simply steals from honest people, spends blindly and mindlessly, and bills our grandkids.

Today I was at the doctor’s office discussing some health concerns and possible  treatments.  Concerning one relatively minor problem (the restless legs syndrome which I have simply endured for as long as I can remember), she said, “Oh, there are two different meds out now to treat that and they work really well.  If we got that under control, you’d sleep well, and sleeping would help you in a lot of other areas: blood pressure, mood, blood sugar, etc.”

Now, it used to be when a doc said something like that, you’d say, “Great.  Write me the prescription and let’s try it,” but times have changed.  I asked if those drugs were expensive.  “Well, it depends on what kind of insurance you have.”  (I happen to have the sky-high kind that covers very little and has a $1500/year cap on prescriptions.)  “Some insurance will covers them, but some won’t, and if yours won’t, they are REALLY expensive.”  Well, forget those ideas.  With my weight issues, I take several essential  prescription meds – the kind that are hopefully preventing diabetes and significant heart disease – and when those vital Rxs are added up, there’s just not a lot of margin between that total and the magic $1500.

But if my husband didn’t work, or if we were living here illegally, I’ll bet you anything that good ole’ Uncle Sam would be glad to ante up for those ‘extra’ meds.

Well, that is my rant for the day.  I still choose to believe that America can once again be the land of the free and the home of the brave, but it will surely involve electing some officials with more than jello between their ears and cartilage in their backs.  Fortitude in other locations would also be a plus.

Lesson plans

In my new role as official teacher, I am finding that I need to spend a few hours every Saturday planning all Andrew’s upcoming academics, reviewing and printing Jessica and Josiah’s old checklists, preparing all three kids’ new checklists, and recording homeschool hours.  It’s sometimes overwhelming and always more time-consuming than what I think it should be.  A few thoughts come to mind:

1.  For the first time in 12 years, I am actually current on recording homeschool hours.  It’s still no fun, but being caught up is admittedly a satisfying kind of feeling.

2.  How DID those one-room-schoolhouse ladies ever manage to do what they did?

3.  And for that matter, how do today’s real teachers keep THEIR sanity?  I am doing all this prep, execution, and follow-up for only one child, and it takes hours.  They have to do it for 30.  Does that mountain of work depress them?

4.  Andrew does seem to be getting more done and learning more.  I think those are both good things, so hopefully the effort is worth what it costs.

The joys of living with a M.A.P.

Our family is deeply honored to know we have a M.A.P. among us.  The M.A.P. has been with us for quite some time now, but public recognition of her status only occurred yesterday.

It seems that in the office where Katie works – the office comprised of almost 30 employees – every two weeks, folks submit names to the office manager for the co-worker they currently consider to be the Most Appreciated Person.  That person is then recognized as such on payday (every other Friday).  Katie called us yesterday with the great news that after a mere four weeks of employment there, she was voted the M.A.P!

We are all proud and happy, and we’re glad (but not surprised) that she is proving herself to be a valuable asset to the company.

Promise Keepers Upset The River

Yes, sports fans, all eyes were (or should have been) on Kiewit Field at Stockstill Park tonight at 6:30.  Off to a slow start, their initially lackluster fielding and non-existent offense quickly had the Promise Keepers down 7-0.

Of course, part of their poor performance early on could be attributed to the absence of regulars Max at 1st base and Jerod in left center.  Mark from the outfield was playing 2nd, Nathan had come from Springfield to cover for Jerod, the mouthy husband of a Country Mart employee(?) was playing 1st, and Dave was sitting out the first inning, because we had too many players.  = (

However, with the strong support of a their larger-than-life cheering section – eventually including Cinda, Trena, the CM husband’s extended family, five Duncans, four Browns, John’s wife and two sons (the newborn son was sleeping and so is not included in this count), six Madrigals, and five Roberts’ – the Promise Keepers rallied, holding the River to only one additional run, while gradually piling up eight of their own.

Then, at a true crisis point of the game, our noble 3rd baseman was called out on strikes and left the plate looking decidedly dejected.  But not to worry; shortly thereafter, Hero-of-the Night Dave got on base with a nice hit and subsequently scored the winning run!!!

And the crowd went wild.

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