Archive for December, 2010

Stimulating

So, we are hearing more and more lately about our tax dollars at work to do things that no one wants or needs done.  The latest in this saga would be our new mile markers on Highway 65.

One day this week, I was tooling along north from Branson, headed home with some kid(s) in the van, when Jessica said, “Since when do we have mile markers every two-tenths of a mile?  And why do we need mile markers every two-tenths of a mile, anyway?”  I glanced at the shoulder, and sure enough, there was a marker every two-tenths of a mile.  I wondered aloud, “Now, do you think those are really new, or have they been here for ten years and I just never noticed them?”

There was neon hot pink paint around the base of each one, so we decided that they were indeed new, but the question of, “Why?” lingereth.  In exactly which scenario would it be vitally important to know that you were (for example) stranded, “at mile marker 119.4,” as opposed to, “between mile markers 119 and 120?”  Actually, if I were stranded and calling for help on 65 between 76 and 160, I’d say something like, “I’m about a mile north of F Highway,” or, “I’m stuck between F and Emory Creek,” or, “I’m just south of the 160 exit.”

Maybe the goal is to have a mile marker in sight and readable to any individual 20/20 vision at any given spot on along the highway, so that no one will have to think about where he is.  Maybe it’s to aid emergency vehicles.  In any case, if I could figure out how to research it, and if I were a gambling woman, I’d bet my health care reform benefits that those two-tenths of a mile markers are directly funded by our friendly neighborhood stimulus package.  I wonder which of our elected officials brought home THAT bacon to Missouri.

We must be God’s favorites

We joined some 18,000 people in spending our afternoon and evening at Silver Dollar City today.  It was December 30, SDC’s final day of the season, and it was about 60 degrees!  Ask me later where we parked, but I just have to say that God blessed us throughout those seven hours, and especially at the end.

Our family particularly likes the enormous musical tree, and for a number of years, it has been our tradition to go to the City a few days before Christmas.  Somehow, seeing and hearing that majestic tree play The Carol of the Bells is supremely satisfying and, as Katie has said in the past, “once the tree plays The Carol of the Bells, it’s really Christmas time.”  This year, due to a number of circumstances, tonight was the first and only time we could get to the City during the Christmas season.

The tree is “lighted” and plays its first set of tunes at 5:30 PM, and then it plays a couple of songs every 15 minutes till closing.  I was on the way to the little girls’ room when I heard (but did not see) it do its 5:30 PM thing, but the rest of the gang missed it, as they were in line for Wildfire.  A line, I might add, in which it seemed that they spent enough time to have possibly sprouted gray hairs.

Katie and Andrew and I ended up at the tree for a couple of its later rounds, and they were truly lovely, but the song of our longing was not played.  Between rides, food, lights, and general Christmas joy, we all had a fun time, but throughout the evening, I think the girls and I were secretly a little bit sad that we hadn’t been able to watch the tree perform that one special song.

After we had spent numerous hours seeing and doing many grand things and were finally headed out of the park, as we came trekking up past funnel cakes, lo and behold, the tree lit up and started playing The Carol of the Bells for all it was worth!!!  I’m sure it was doing that just for us.  = ) Jessica and Katie raced up the hill to experience it, with the rest of us – Scott, Ruth, Josiah, Andrew, and I – following closely behind.  Katie gazed, Jessica danced, and Josiah said, “it hearkens back to childhood.”

It surely does.  = )   Thank you, God, for ending our wonderful Christmas time at Silver Dollar City so absolutely perfectly!

It SNOWED on Christmas morning!

God has blessed me extra-specially today!

Round One:  When I went out for a short walk, I noticed a few flurries in the air.  Yes, those would be snow flurries – on Christmas day!  Nothing was sticking, and you had to look closely to see them, but it really was snowing.

Round Two:  All four kids got up and opened their stocking together this morning.  It was precious to me.  Andrew really liked his multi-color pen.

Round Three:  We got a picture of all seven of us in front of the Christmas tree, pre-demolition.  Sweet.

Round Four:  Our traditional Christmas breakfast was altered slighty (and probably improved significantly) by the substitution of crumb cake for canned cinnamon rolls.  Breakfast casserole and fresh pineapple rounded out our menu.  Ruth said the meal was delicious.  = )

Round Five:  We were treated to a very creative and seriously funny Ozark Mountain re-enactment of the Christmas story in which Katie was not the donkey.  The cast of characters included the angel Gabriel, Mary, Joseph, the innkeeper, his wife, a shepherd, his fairly opinionated sheep, two wise women, and King Herod.  The llama was also featured in a supporting role (to Mary).  Suffice it to say that a group of wise-cracking mimes can pull together a grand and memorable drama in a matter of minutes.

Round Six:  We thanked God for many aspects of his great goodness to us over the past year.

Round Seven:  Gifts were opened, and it was good.  Moreover, while gifts were being opened, snow continued.  There still wasn’t anything sticking, but it was definitely real snow, heavier than flurries.  What could be nicer than a roaring fire, a lovely tree, gifts to share, the whole family together, and SNOW on Christmas morning?

God has blessed me extra-specially today!

Birds of a feather

I saw a great blue heron this morning, and those guys always make me catch my breath.  He was so majestic, so big, and just so very right in front of me as he rose over the bridge that I was stunned and joyful.

But he wasn’t the only bird I spied today.  Just past Roxanne’s house on the far side of the road, there’s a cow pasture.  It’s actually a long, skinny plot of land shoved between the highway and the creek, and since it curves along the road, the far end of it is out of sight around the horseshoe bend.  That means that sometimes there are cows in the pasture, but I can’t see them.

So as I motored along in front of the church, I saw some black lumps in the pasture, and I couldn’t figure out what they were.  They were hunched over toward the ground kind of like buffalo, but they were much too small to be buffalo.  They couldn’t be cows, either, because they were the wrong color.  The cows in that pasture are brown, and these guys were nearly black.  As I got a little closer, it dawned on me that they were birds.  Big birds.  But what kind of big birds?  The biggest birds I could think of were crows, but these were a lot larger than crows.

The mystery stymied and compelled me.  I HAD to figure out what those bird-lumps were.  To that end, I kept walking along the highway, past the end of the shoulder where I usually turn around.  I crossed to the pasture side to get a closer look, and, lo and behold, I realized that the bird-lumps were TURKEYS!  And there were FOURTEEN of them!  And they were just grazing or pecking or doing whatever fourteen turkeys do in a cow pasture on a drizzly day, so I stood and watched them for quite a while.  Indeed, had I had my phone with me, I probably would have called Bob to see if he hunts turkeys, as well as deer; although, I don’t know if it’s turkey season, and in any case, standing on the highway and shooting one to fourteen turkeys on someone else’s land is probably illegal – an, in Walnut Shade, might get one shot!

Therefore, I just watched and waited, and eventually turned around to head back, stepping sideways off the pavement and twisting my ankle as I did so.  Some five hours later, the ankle is rather uncomfortable, but it was worth it just to see fourteen turkeys in a cow pasture on Christmas Eve.

American education

I heard on the news a few days ago that some new report is out about how students from various nations performed on some test that is given internationally.  The U.S. students rank WAY down the list, especially in math and science, where they were in something like 15th place among developed nations.  If I am remembering correctly, Singapore, Taiwan, and China all ranked above the U.S.

Our friend, Ruth, is visiting, and Scott asked her how her first semester of college (Fairleigh-Dickinson University, just outside New York City) compared with her high school experience in China.  She replied, “Oh, the classes are easier. . . but you have to do it all in English.”  That made me smile on the one hand, but grimace inwardly.  If our university courses are easier than Chinese high school, I wonder what our high school courses would correspond to in China?   It sounds like there may be a correlation between that and Maybe that has something to do with why our students perform so abysmally low. . .

Exhaling

Well, all the Christmas prep is done that is going to get done, so now I am relaxing!  We have a pretty full schedule the next several days, but it’s going to be memorable and fun.  Ruth arrived tonight, and the kids (Jessica, Josiah, and Ruth) made it home from the Fayetteville airport about 8:30 PM.  They got lost once, only because Jessica was driving – which meant that Josiah was navigating, and while his computer skills, writing skills (minus spelling), and even algebra skills are all fairly decent, his map-reading skills leave something to be desired.  Although he is currently doing a world geography course, I guess even that wouldn’t have been of great help in the wilds of northwest Arkansas.

A funny:  On the way home, they wound through long stretches of rural territory in pitch-black darkness.  Ruth said, “If you were in China in a place like that with no lights, you would be LOST!  There’s nowhere in China that dark!”

I’m about to breathe

I have one more errand run, some cleaning, some cooking, and maybe a little more baking yet to complete, but I’m pretty sure that I can get all that done today, and then, AHHHHHH!  I will be able to spend a few days relaxing.  I am ready for that.

Also, the Take Two Tournament has begun, and after one round, I am down by some 30+ points.  However, my competitive streak is kicking in, and I am quite hopeful.  My goal is not to win outright, but simply to beat the Vocab Queen in any one round; of course that may require us to play a LOT of rounds.   = )