Archive for October, 2012


Sometimes people do things in different ways.

Some people carry their wallet with driver’s license and credit cards with them; some people don’t.

Some people write checks and make credit card purchases without writing anything down; some people don’t.

Some people clean up all their stuff after they make their lunch; some people don’t.

These minor differences can become irritants over time, so I am working hard to keep a good attitude, realize that it’s OK that not everyone does things my way (a.k.a. “the right way”), and communicate my preferences clearly but kindly.  When one’s tendency is to be completely non-confrontational, these things can be challenging, but I am determined to adjust my tendencies.

Difference = what is left when you subtract one quantity from another.

Difference = what is left when you remove from the discussion all the things you disagree on!

Difference = probably what attracted you to each other in the first place.  = )

Vastly overrated

Leaves, for sure.  Especially in the fall, when they. . . fall and have to be raked.  And tarped.  And dragged.  And dumped.  And burned.  But I am thankful we have a place to burn them and don’t have to try to shove them all in bags!

Definitely the Mopping of Floors.  This is a serious waste of time and effort.  I try to clean things up before life group meets here, but I don’t usually mop unless the floors are horrendously bad.  I think they’ve been horrendously bad a few times since we moved here, but it doesn’t matter, because after group, there will be something sticky somewhere on the floor.  However, if you can smudge a little dirt or dust over the stickiness, it stops being sticky and you can just sweep it.  Sweeping makes much more sense than mopping.

Entering Homeschool Hours.  Note that this is not to be confused with Recording Homeschool Hours. I’ve been recording them for sixteen years straight, but I only have two kids’ (the girls’) hours entered into the computer.  I was working hard to get all Jo’s entered before he graduated, but when I failed on that (I think I still have about 18 months of his checklists to enter), and when he was admitted to a very rigorous college and offered a hefty scholarship there without so much as a high school diploma, I decided that I didn’t need to spend an estimated 20 hours to enter all that old work.  I wanted to throw out all those old checklists – just so I could have maximal closure – and was preparing to do so  when Scott said I needed to keep them.  “How long?” I asked.  “Until he graduates college,” he replied.  Sheesh!  So I have all Jo’s checklists filed and not entered, but I don’t think that fact will keep him from being a significant person or fulfilling God’s assignment for him.  Of course, I also have 18+ months of Andrew’s checklists to enter, plus the four more years he’ll probably be at home, and every week I tell myself that I need to enter a couple weeks’ worth, and every three or four months, I enter a week.  At this rate I could still be entering homeschool hours when I’m COMPLETELY gray!  I’m quite sure that all that record-keeping is vastly overrated; especially since NO ONE but me will EVER see the Homeschool Helper spreadsheet.

End of rant.  I will now return to my regularly scheduled ironing, which is not vastly overrated.

Tomatoes thriving, Sandy arriving?

Before the first hard frost on Friday, October 26, we picked about 100 green tomatoes off the four plants in the side yard barrels!  They are now in boxes to hopefully ripen over time.  We moved the tomatoes and peppers that were on the front walk up onto the porch against the house and have been covering them with sheets at night.  The look like a massive navy blue ghost all clothes-pinned up.  During the day, we throw back the sheets and they can get some sun.  There are about 10 pots up there, and they are loaded with tomatoes and a few red peppers.  I think if we can get through four or five nights of upper 20s, it will get a little warmer, and some of them may still ripen on the vine.  I am pretty determined when it comes to tomatoes, as you know.

In other weather-related news, the biggest and worst hurricane and storm to hit the continental U.S. in some time is beginning to pound the eastern seaboard.  While I do care about the millions of people who will be affected by this monster, I am most concerned for two specific folks in Virginia and four specific folks in Delaware.  The Stingray’s work has been called off tomorrow, because her company closes whenever the federal government is closed, and I guess all non-emergency aspects of the U.S. government in the D.C. area are closed tomorrow in anticipation of Sandy’s arrival.  I suggested that she charge her phone and sleep in, and she said that was her plan.  No news as yet from our Llama, so I don’t know what’s in the works for PHC.

And on the other side of the world, the Peacock informs us that peanut butter was on sale today:  only $33.90 HKD for 612 grams.  I didn’t know how to figure that, but she said it’s a little larger than a regular U.S. jar of peanut butter, and it cost about $3.50 USD.  Sounds like a pretty good deal.


Almost done

The painters have been working for most of three weeks on our house.  They are finally almost done, and the result so far is really totally beautiful.  We are very pleased.  They expect to wrap it up tomorrow, although I think there are a few remaining details to be completed next week.  It will be nice to have driveway access again, and of course, fewer legs at the windows.  People have driven by and stopped to comment on how good it looks, and folks at church have told me they’ve driven by and think it looks wonderful.  Of course, we like it, but it’s also nice to know that other people do, too.

In other remodeling news, the NEW carpet is going down at the church, and other post-flood processes are grinding along.  Due to insurance hassles, the progress is somewhat slower than desired, but the end result should be most satisfying.  = )

The Rendezvous is back into a busier season now, and this is very good for all concerned.  Andrew has been helping with the cleaning nearly weekly, and he’s quite gung-ho on having a job and earning money.  He also auditioned for a part in the Tri-Lakes Community Theater’s production of “To Kill a Mockingbird” and was given one-half of one of the fairly significant kids’ parts!  He will play the part of Dill in three of the six performances, and another girl will play that part in the other three.  He should have a script in a week or so, and things will get busy.  When you are a thirteen year-old homeschooled boy, busy is good.

I am totally enjoying choir practice with the Branson Chamber Singers.  It is so very fun and challenging.  I think I spend the whole two hours smiling – at least on the inside.

Scott preached a SUPER message last night on Chicken Thinking.  It was very inspirational and practical.  I was quite impressed and got a lot of stuff that applies to my daily life.

Andrew moved all my portable tomatoes to the porch this evening.  Beginning tomorrow night, we’re expecting four nights in a row of at or slightly below freezing temps, and I’m determined to give these green babies every chance to turn red.  They should be all right tonight, but tomorrow night I’ll have to cover them and try to tarp the big (immovable) ones on the side.  Next week, lows should climb back up toward 40, so we’ll see what happens with our on-site mobile produce department.  I remain optimistic, and I’m still enjoying fresh homegrown tomatoes every day, on sandwiches, in salads, and by the slice!


Jeopardy Question: What is “because you have no screens?”

Answer:  (Aside from the fact that several of them have been painted shut), why can’t you open your windows after you decide to have the painters NOT re-install your beat-up, falling apart, cruddy-looking storm window?

Why on EARTH would the high tomorrow be forecast to be 83?!?!?!?

Oh, yeah, because I’m thinking warm thoughts to try to get my tomatoes to vine ripen!  So, does that mean that now even the weather’s my fault?

Surely not!  = )

Oh, may my ‘maters make it!

Statistically, I think October 28 is the average first day of frost for southern Missouri.  With some 80-100 green tomatoes and 15-20 green peppers still on the vine, I have been thinking warm, sunny, ripening thoughts on behalf of our produce.  So far, so good.  We only had those two nights of freezing-ish temps in late September while Scott and Andrew were gone camping.  With much effort, we got the tomatoes and peppers covered and/or moved, and all survived.

Now we’ve had an additional three weeks of frost-free weather, and things are looking good for the veggies.  In fact, the highs the next couple of days are expected to be in the low 80s!  I thought I had nothing to worry about, but Scott just told me that the high on Friday high is forecast to be a mere 47 degrees with Friday’s low 33, and Saturday’s low down to 30!  Visions of tarps and sheets and lots of lifting and hauling are dancing through my head.  Sugarplums would be more fun, but I’m determined to ripen and enjoy as many of these gems as possible.

We have not bought tomatoes since the third week of June.  This is a major victory for Walnut Shade Mom!

Team Update

Katie is cooking red beans and rice for 12 tonight.  I don’t know what all else is going on with her right now, but in three weeks I will!

Jessica is missing her family and missing having teams/schools “in” on the base, but she is gracefully and cheerfully serving in hospitality, which includes cooking for, meeting, assisting, and coordinating the activities of guests to the base, as well as maintenance.  I don’t know if that means she’s fixing leaky faucets, but I do know she’s looking forward to decluttering and organizing “a lot of the base’s junk” this week.

Josiah has survived his freshman mid-terms.  In other news, he bought socks yesterday day because, according to one reliable source, “he had one pair of black socks and one khaki sock. He had another khaki sock, but that one had an “A” on it.”  (meaning that it was actually one of Andrew’s!)  So far, this same source reports having seen Josiah in two different short-sleeved, and one long-sleeved shirt.  We at home wonder if those same three business casual shirts will be sufficient to see him through a Virginia winter.

Andrew served in the church nursery today (11 kids in there!) and participated in his first-ever audition this afternoon.  While he insists that he refuses to do it, his mom is hoping he will be offered a small part in our local community theater’s production of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Scott’s arm is gradually getting better (tennis injury in June, exacerbated by keyboard, softball, and other usages).  He is quite busy with work, church, family, and ministry commitments, not to mention recording and watching many post-season Cardinals games in high speed.

I am delighted at the progress of the centennial painting project. (I’m going out to take pictures now, kids.)

Not sure if this is one or two coats of Cottage Cream, but the Toque White trim hasn’t been done yet.



Here’s a little bit of the Atmospheric porch ceiling, with the wall and trim not finished.


Maybe the color is a little easier to see here on the shady side. They will be back in full force tomorrow to hopefully finish out the Cottage Cream walls and begin tackling the trim.

I have also joined a newly formed community choir, the Branson Chamber Singers, and I am very much enjoying our Thursday night practices.

My rant o’ day is that everything about food for only three people is a pain:  shopping for it, keeping stuff prepped and fresh, and cooking and freezing in weird quantities.  However, I am doing it, and each week I figure out some new trick or tip.  This week’s major realization is that I am going to have to start buying cheese from the deli, because that’s the only way to get small enough quantities of enough different kinds to keep certain people happy (not bored) and not have it spoil.

Ode to the Painting Crew

(Author’s Note:  There has been some commentation about the status of painters’ lower appendages.  Be it known that at all times and in all situations, all painters appear clad in white painters’ pants.)

Their legs are always with us,

No matter where we turn.

Their ladders clink, their scrapers grate,

Their sanders buzz and whirr.


Their legs are always with us,

Ascending, standing, bent.

All paint-bespattered, flexed to ladders,

Filling one more dent.


Their legs are always with us,

Two weeks now, maybe more,

From every window, all we see is

Painters by the score.


Well, maybe it’s not twenty.

Most days it’s four to ten,

But all the house is covered now

With men like bees, and when. . .


They ask us lots of questions,

Or show us what they’ve done,

They’re all polite and eager

And really having fun.


Their legs are always with us,

Plus vehicles galore:

A car, two vans, a bucket truck,

And some days even more.


The crew chief is a guy named Shawn.

The rest we only know

As Bearded Wonder, Tattoo Man,

And other names, and so. . .


We greet them kindly every day

And thank them for their work.

We growing rather fond of them;

Not one of them’s a jerk.


There’ve been a lot of challenges,

Some odd, some happenstance.

Their chainsaw broke, our colors changed,

The smokehouse did a dance.


It’s after three o’clock right now.

Today their work is done.

They’ve packed things up and left the scene.

It’s silent!  Oh, how fun.


The walls are Cottage Cream, you see.

The trim? Toque White’s appearing.

The ceiling of the porch is pure

Sky-blue, called Atmospheric!


Our privacy is mainly shot.

Today while sorting files,

The bucket truck rose past Scott’s desk,

“The Beard” all waves and smiles!


They come each weekday morning

At six and thirty-nine.

Good thing I’m up and dressed and out

And walking down the line.


They’re all so nice and friendly

And courteous as can be.

They all work hard with excellence

And deal respectfully.


We know that they’re all working;

Not really peering in,

But I feel odd sometimes at home

Just doing life, but then. . .


I guess I’ll miss them when they’re gone,

When everything looks great,

When we’re all proud and happy that

Our house appears first-rate.


For now, not any window’s “safe.”

Where can we go to hide?

Their legs are always with us

From dawn till eventide.

Consider the following

If you are baking something yummy to take to life group, and if you melt one and-a-half sticks of margarine in a mixing bowl, and if when you carry the bowl from the microwave to the counter you drop the bowl such that every single DROP of melted margarine is dumped onto the kitchen floor, then the mess that you will have to clean up can only be described as incredibly awful.

If padded church chairs are outside in a misting fine rain for even a few minutes, then they will get quite damp.

If your one hundred year-old house hasn’t been painted in sixteen years and you decide to have it painted, then it will take a crew of from three to six men four solid days to power wash, scrape, and sand it. (It will take them at least two more days to repair, caulk, prime, and otherwise prep the surfaces.)  During those four days, from 7:00 AM to 3:30 PM, there will never be a block of time longer than four minutes during which it will not sound like multiple people are banging on your door and/or running an air compressor in your ear.  Additionally, at any time, looking out any window of your house, you will see ladders, men’s legs, and/or men’s faces. These three, or a combination thereof, will be everywhere at all times, and some of the men’s faces will always be smoking.

Furthermore, if you strain your marriage far enough to come to an agreement on the color of paint for your house, then the specific color you pick will require a base that is not available anywhere in the entire state and cannot be obtained for three weeks.

Glacier Point

From the valley, we had to drive nearly halfway back to the park entrance and then turn off onto the road that would dead-end at the walkway to Glacier Point, BUT the big excitement happened a couple miles before we arrived at the turn-off.

We had seen many amazing sights in the park so far, as well as loads of awesome scenery outside the park, and although we had seen lots of squirrels, birds, and a few deer, I had secretly been hoping to see a bear.  As we drove the hour-long route into and out of the valley each time, we would see numerous portable signs stating that “Speeding Kills Bears.”  I read somewhere that one of those signs was placed at every spot where a bear was killed by a vehicle.  There were usually four or five on that stretch of roadway.  I didn’t want to kill a bear; I just wanted to see one!

So, we were tooling along, keeping an eye out for our upcoming left turn onto Glacier Point Road, when suddenly, up ahead, on the right shoulder, I saw a bear stick his head up and gaze at us!  He looked rather young and just exactly like a bear, a real live one.  He had a curious expression on his face, and he kind of turned his head back and forth a bit.  “Scott!” I hollered, “It’s a BEAR!  Slow down!”  He did, and as we passed Mr. Bear at about 15 miles per hour, he (Mr. Bear, not Mr. Roberts) disappeared back down into the woods.  WOW!  Even though I had only seen that bear for ten or fifteen seconds, I had indeed seen him.  It was just one more of the many wonderful things God arranged for us on that trip; even fulfilling my secret “bear sighting” desire.

After turning onto Glacier Point Road, we still had a fifteen-mile drive out to the point, or more accurately, to the parking lot for the point.  I’m honestly not sure just what I was expecting at Glacier Point.  I knew it was important to Scott that we go there, and I knew he wanted us to be there at sunset.  He had read online that Glacier Point was far and away voted something like the most spectacular place in the park.  Personally, I had already seen about as much spectacular as I could be impressed by, but I was game.

Scott had planned for us to do a hike out to Taft Point.  The trailhead for that hike was about three miles from the end of Glacier Point Road.  We had a bit of difference of opinion on this hike.  Scott wanted us to hike to Glacier Point (and I wasn’t sure how far or strenuous that hike was expected to be), and we wanted to get to the point by sunset.  So here we were around 4:30 or 5:00 PM and planning to do a hike out to Taft Point and back, then drive three more miles, park, and hike to Glacier Point in time to watch the sunset there.  Sunset there. . . when exactly WOULD the sun set at Glacier Point on that particular evening?  How could one get that information from a place totally out in the middle of nowhere?

We were kind of on top of the world, but I had no cell service.  We started on the Taft Point hike, and I was concerned.  For one thing, we were walking steadily downhill.  This meant that coming back to the car, we would be walking steadily uphill, and I’ll just say that if my downhill speed is 4x, my uphill speed is probably only x/2.  As mentioned re: our Vernal Fall hike, uphill for me is a matter of taking a few steps, pausing to breathe, wondering why I’m doing this, and repeating the pattern over and over in relatively slow motion.  The further down we went, the more I worried that I wouldn’t be able to make the return jaunt fast enough to get us to Glacier Point before sunset.  With a half mile remaining to Taft Point, I decided to turn around.  I gave Scott the camera and encouraged him to press on and take good pictures, while I started back.  I figured we’d both get back to the car at about the same time.

Scott graciously gave me our extra water bottle and a walking stick of wife-perfect length that he had picked up, and we parted; he, hiking on down toward Taft Point, and I, starting the gradual climb back up to the parking lot.  I didn’t have a really good concept of the distance I needed to cover or the length of time involved, but, absolutely certain that Scott would overtake me before I got to the car (and that would be embarrassing), I walked as fast as I could, given the slight uphill.  I was walking along a well-worn path, but it did occur to me that I was totally and completely alone.  And that no one knew I was there (wherever there was).  And that if anything happened to me, there was no cell service.  And that we had seen that bear some 13 miles away.  And that he probably wasn’t the only bear in this section of the park.  And how fast and how far did bears travel, anyway?  All those thoughts kept me walking pretty darn fast, and I spied the parking lot in 22 minutes.

While waiting, I tried unsuccessfully to get cell service.  Before the Taft Point jaunt, I had texted Katie to ask her to please figure out what time the sun would set at Glacier Point and let me know.  I was trying to determine by what time we needed to arrive at Glacier Point to avoid missing the sunset.  After all this planning and hiking and such, it would be terrible to get there too late to see the main event!

I sat on a rock and awaited my husband’s arrival, which occurred some fifteen minutes after mine.  He said the view from Taft Point was really good, and he was glad he had gone.  Personally, I think he was probably even more glad that he had finished the hike he had started.  As you may know, Roberts’ do not quit, and they NEVER turn back, so, while he had no issue with my choice, I don’t think it was a choice he could have made.  = )

Along with many other sunset-seekers, we drove the final three miles to the Glacier Point parking lot.  It was a long, skinny lot, with lots of cars.  This was clearly not going to be a lonely, romantic experience!  We walked quickly up a paved path (note that all paths in Yosemite National Park – with the exception of the valley bike paths – are uphill, frequently both ways) that was billed as being wheelchair accessible, although I’m not sure that even my extremely buff sister-in-law could have gotten her wheelchair up some of the steeper parts.  As we walked along, my cell phone suddenly buzzed to notify me of a text.  Sure enough, our Resident Research Consultant had come through!  She had replied an hour earlier, but I was just now getting the news that the sun would set in approximately 40 minutes.  Yay, Katie!  We huffed and puffed along, rounded a curve and came over a rise, and there we were at Glacier Point.

It’s a rocky area with a number of huge boulders.  By huge, I mean big enough for a dozen to twenty people to sit up on their flattish tops.  There are some concrete stairs built into the side of the rocks, leading down to a fence situated more or less on the edge of the world.  Across the way was Half Dome, in all its glory, and between the fence and us were positioned a truly amazing number of photographers with their camera equipment.  Frankly, I have never seen so many tripods in one place at one time ever before!  Evidently the sunset view of Half Dome from Glacier Point is a premiere photo op, and people come from all over to capture it.  I, too, thought it would be a nice shot, but with my little point-and-shoot, I was tempted to feel intimidated by all their thousands of dollars of lenses, filters, and remote shutter releases.  I resisted the temptation, and I gradually squirmed my way into a position where I could least get a clear view of the big rock’s upcoming big moment(s).

As the sun behind us went down, the temperature dropped.  Duh.  It was quite windy at Glacier Point, and we were wearing the same shorts and T-shirts that had been fine for our morning hike among the giant sequoias in shady Mariposa Grove and our 85+ degree afternoon bike ride in Yosemite Valley.  Of course, when one perspires, one’s innermost layers get damp, and the combination of the breeze and the 55-degree temp meant that I was FREEZING!

A park ranger came to give a sunset talk of thirty minutes.  He was an interesting chap, as park rangers tend to be.  He said a lot of friendly stuff to the nearly 100 of us gathered there, gave his own background story, and then opened it up for questions.  He had been a ranger at Yosemite since the 1970s, so he said he’d do his best to answer any Yosemite questions we could put to him.  Various people asked various things, and he gave pretty decent answers, so I decided to pose the one question to which I had not yet received a satisfactory answer:  “Besides extreme age, is there any difference between a giant sequoia and your garden variety normal sequoia?”  He took the long way around it, but eventually explained that no, there is not.  A giant sequoia is just a normal sequoia that has lived some 2000+ years.  Fascinating!

The sky and Half Dome gradually changed shades, and I snapped about a zillion and six photos of the monolith over those thirty minutes while Scott hugged me and we both tried to generate a little body heat.

The sun did set, we walked back down to the car, and we drove the hour or so back out of the park for the last time (“Bye, Yosemite!) and down the mountain to our restful home.  And thus ended a glorious Thursday.

Friday we spent around the house, relaxing, resting, reading, and doing much of nothing.  Scott did make a little run to North Fork (ten minutes away) to get some odd grocery items and mail my postcards.  I think I took a nap.   Sleep was another high-priority item on our trip.  = )

We packed up.  We used up the last of our food very efficiently, including more and more veggie kabobs!  We agreed to leave thirty minutes than earlier the next morning.  this was a significant concession on the part of My Hero.  He has a conviction about being a good steward of every moment, so wasting time by arriving somewhere early is never part of his plan.  I, on the other hand, am late if I am not five minutes early, and this difference in S.O.P. has caused a fair amount of conflict over the past 25 years.  For Scott to agree to leave 30 minutes early, just so that I would have the emotional luxury of margin was a very kind gesture.

We did, yea and verily, leave thirty minutes early.  I think our flight was at 11:00 AM, so we needed to be at the airport at 10:00, and it was about an hour drive to Fresno, so we left at 8:30.  At 9:00, with thirty minutes of driving ahead of us, traffic ground to a halt.  Bear in mind that it was Saturday morning.  A mile or so back, there had been a road construction sign saying to expect long delays, but no road crew in its right mind would be working on a Saturday morning.  Only the one a half mile up in front of us!  People were actually out of their cars and walking back and forth on the shoulder.  Kids were playing in the grass.  Nothing was moving.  I talked to the folks in the SUV three vehicles in front of us and they had to get to a funeral at 10:00.  One of them was a pall bearer!  They said they had talked to folks even further up in the line who had talked to the lady holding the STOP / SLOW sign who told them that the delay would be about half an hour.  They had already been there for  15 minutes.  Well, I was really thankful that we had left 30 minutes early!

The total delay was 30 minutes, of which we spent 22 minutes in the stationary way.  There was another detour off the freeway when the exit to the airport was closed, but the Chief Navigatrix was able to use a PAPER MAP to direct the Driver on an alternate and slightly slower route through town.  We found a gas station near the airport, filled the tank, got the airport, drove in a circle, and finally found the rental car return place.

We turned in the car, checked our massive bags (one was 47.5 pounds and one was 48.5 pounds – nothing like a little margin there), hauled our other stuff onto the plane and relaxed for the two flights home.  They were uneventful, which is how flights ought to be.

Well, we did have a little excitement in Denver.  We had gone to the FARTHEST side of the airport to get to a Quizno’s where we ate a leisurely lunch.  Then we stopped at TCBY, and while we sat and ate some ice cream, Scott asked if I wanted to play cards.  I said I would like that, but as we were quite far from our gate and they would probably be calling us to board soon, I figured we didn’t have time.  That’s when we realized that Scott’s watch had not been re-set, and our flight left in 30 minutes, rather than in an hour and a half, so we high-tailed it through the airport, very thankful for moving sidewalks, and made it to our gate in time to board a plane so small that I wondered if it could fly.  It could and did, but when I used the bathroom during the flight, I had the sudden realization that I the only thing between me and the very back of that plane was a toilet paper holder and a thin sheet of metal.

Back in Springfield at 7:30 PM, with our flight the only one arriving, we waited for (no exaggeration) 25 minutes for our checked bags, then met our dear friend Donna at the curb.  She is so wonderful!  She took us and enough luggage for a family of four back to Scott’s car, and we returned to Branson to pick up Andrew from one of the four families who had kept him in our absence.

It was nice to be home, but honestly, we both could’ve stayed in “anniversary celebration” mode a LOT longer!  It was truly the vacation of a lifetime!!!



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