Archive for May, 2015

Jeopardy question: What is 9.6?

Answer:  The approximate weight in pounds of Skittles Andrew received from his friends for his birthday!  This for the guy who just had two root canals, two crowns, and about a dozen fillings.  = {

We have considered entertaining friendly wagers on the date the final Skittle will be consumed.

Cooking spree?!?

For one who tends to use words stronger than “dislike” in the same sentence with “cooking,” that’s rather surprising.  However, I have learned that most of the time that I, for no known reason, find myself marathon cooking, it ends up that some major thing occurs that makes it tough to cook, and I’m very glad I did.  Therefore, I am now wondering what on earth is around the corner that I can’t yet see!  = {

I have taken to freezing meals in square foil pans.  For many, many years, I used the half steamer size (roughly 9×13), but with just the three of us most nights, the eight-inch square works better.  And, if I do need to feed a crowd, I can combine two of those batches in a 9×13 pretty easily.  The problem is that when I do go on a cooking binge, I end up with LOTS of meals of the same thing.  I believe the cellar freezer currently holds:

Chicken enchiladas (5)

Red beans (1)

Saucy cheesy bake (4)

Hot chicken salad (4)

Chili (2, plus a bag batch for an upcoming camping trip)

Creamy noodle casserole (1)

And in other news, I had to take the trailer to our mechanic to have them fix the lights.  The last time we went floating, none of the lights on the trailer (loaded with kayaks) were working.  For a moderate fee, Aaron took care of the problem, but I had to sit there in the waiting room for a little over an hour.

I don’t watch much TV except for Jeopardy! at lunch and short segments of an occasional ball game – Cardinals or Red Sox only.  But the TV in the waiting room was on and above my control, so during my stay, I was unavoidably inundated with the last part of the Dr. Phil show and nearly all of the Ellen DeGeneres show.  Dr. Phil seemed fairly innocuous.  His questioning of the interviewee (a murderer about to stand trial) was OK, but I just couldn’t see the point of doing such an interview in the first place.  Ms. DeGeneres, on the other hand, gets two thumbs down and a full, four-finger gag.  Sick.  Truly sick humor.  If these are representative offerings of daytime television, I can now rest assured I have missed absolutely nothing of value.

Finding my thoughts for the day mushrooming. . .

Andrew is learning about fungi in biology, and his current module is primarily about mushrooms.  I am “lecturing” each lesson to him to help him with comprehension and retention, and I now know more about mushrooms, their reproduction, and their classification than I ever cared to know.  Their reproduction is too complicated for me to explain without referring to the book – but this is OK because I will not be the one taking the test!  However, for your educational enrichment, I will here list their higher level taxonomic classification, most of which I can remember (and spell!) from memory.  Of course, you may note with disdain that I have so far only remembered this stuff for two hours.  While I think my comprehension so far is pretty good, today is only Thursday, and Monday (the next day we do biology) will tell the truth about my retention.

Kingdom:  Fungi – organisms that are heterotrophic (depend on other organisms for their food), do extracellular digestion, reproduce with spores, and have chitin in their cell walls

Phylum:  Amastigomycota – fungi that produce non-motile (not self propelled) spores

Class:  Basidiomycetes – non-motile spore-producing fungi that produce such spores in microscopic cells called basidia; these are located on the “gills” on the underside of a mushroom’s cap.


Totally unexpected

At 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, a friend left a message on my phone saying, “I don’t know if you heard the news, but our oldest daughter passed away yesterday, and we’ll be making a trip up north for the memorial service, but we were scheduled to greet Sunday, and I was wondering if you could do that for us.”  I was stunned.

I called her back, told her of course I would greet for them, and asked if her daughter had been ill.  It turns out she was not in good health but was doing okay.  She was getting ready one morning and her back was bothering her, so her husband was giving her a massage.  He left the room to do something else for a few minutes, and when he returned, she was unresponsive.  The paramedics worked on her for forty minutes but couldn’t get her heart to beat.  She was 42.

My friend’s husband has had some ongoing medical issues, and he needed to have some lab work and ultrasounds done before making the road trip.  At 9:00 a.m. Tuesday, he called his doctor who told him to go to Urgent Care.  They couldn’t do the necessary ultrasounds and sent him to the E.R. where it was determined that he had a blood clot behind each knee and one in his lung in a dangerous location.  Now he’s in the hospital for a few days on both injected and oral blood thinners.  Their daughter’s body was cremated, and the memorial service has been put on hold until they can get there.

How exactly does one deal with that kind of tragedy and stress all at once?  My friend is a stronger woman than I am.  Her daughter’s dead and her husband is in the hospital, yet she can carry on a conversation and make necessary arrangements.  I wonder if she is in shock and it will all hit her later on, or if she just has great faith that enables her to keep going no matter what.

My daughter turns 25 tomorrow and she is in great health.  So is my husband.  But this situation reminds me that we have no guarantees about how long we’ll be here.  Whether I live forty more years or I die tonight, I know that when I finally see Jesus, when I’m held in his arms, it’s going to be glorious!

Remix OK, but not nearly as fun as the original

I am in the midst of having some dental work done.  It seems that many of my fillings (some of them very deep and wide) are crumbling apart.  Our new dentist doesn’t know why this is.  They are admittedly old – some of them possibly as old as 20+ years – but to have them simply flake apart is mysterious. In conjunction with the fillings themselves failing and needing to be replaced, in numerous places my teeth have decayed (in some places extensively and in one case nearly to the nerve) under and behind said fillings, necessitating. . . are you ready? . . . Yes.  Five crowns and a host of fillings.  The dentist we have retained to do all this work is supposedly one of the best in our area, and he is super polite, super fast, and super thorough.  He does his work with excellence, and so far (after three hours in the chair and one crown and two fillings down), I am quite pleased. Even so, all things considered, I’d really rather just play the old Five Crowns game; the one where the kings go wild.

First time for everything

On the evening of May 11, 2015, I did something that I have never ever done in my entire life.  I registered a child for school.

Yes, you read that correctly.  After 25 years of homeschooling, we are taking the plunge and enrolling Andrew in a local Christian school.  Come August, he will be a sophomore at Trinity Christian Academy in Hollister, Missouri.  It’s a small K-12, accredited school with an enrollment of less than 100.

On an afternoon in late April, we three had met with the school administrator for about a hour one afternoon and asked a LOT of questions.  Her answers generally sat well with us.  She then gave us a tour of the school, taking us around to meet the various teachers Andrew would have.  Even though we were interrupting their classes, they seemed glad to meet Andrew as a potential new student, but I have to say the thing that impressed me the most overall – and it REALLY impressed me – was the attitude of the students.  In each classroom, after we were introduced, each of the students stood and introduced themselves, and they were all so. . . how can I say this?. . . non-cliquish!  How terribly refreshing!  Teens in groups can tend to ignore outsiders, but these kids acted like they were genuinely interested in getting to know Andrew.  Wow!  They were warm and cheerful and pleased to meet him.  I was very pleasantly surprised.

Then last Monday evening, we attended the school’s annual open house and end-of-the-year program, and once again, the kids seemed to welcome Andrew as a friend.  We filled out preliminary forms, paid initial fees, and drove back home with our first-ever enrolled-in-school student.  This is a really big step (kind of like a really big shew) and our decision was not made lightly, but we believe this will be a good change for Andrew.

I’m still trying to get my brain around everything that this new season of life will mean, both logistically and emotionally, but thankfully I still have a few months to adjust to the changes.  = )

They’re back!

A few days ago, Scott was sitting on the porch swing reading his Bible, and when I stepped out there to ask him something – quite possibly for help in cleaning out the filter on the washing machine, ha! – a HUMMINGBIRD flitted past the white chain over the grill from which one of our hummingbird feeders will hang, once I get them filled.  Yee-hah!  I never can remember when I should hang those feeders, but it seems that April 25 is generally the target date.  Maybe I should just remember to do it when I “hum”
happy tunes to myself once our taxes are paid.  = )

So yesterday I filled them and put them out, and within 24 hours, there was a hummer humming at my feeder.  This makes me smile!

It’s the little things that count

One of the things God is consistently dealing with about is asking for help.  I HATE to ask for help.  I hate asking for help on big, important, spiritual matters like understanding and becoming who God made me to be, and I hate asking for help on tiny, inconsequential, mundane matters like lifting something heavy or reaching something high. I just hate asking for help.  I am currently learning more about why that is true, and I’m working to change it, but frankly, each time I know I should ask for help, it’s hard to get the words out.

But I did ask J.R. for help on Wednesday.  J.R. is a friend at church who claims that if he can’t fix it, it isn’t broken.  So far, this has proven to be an accurate statement.  The issue at hand was our washer.  It is the old-fashioned kind of washer; top loading with a full-length agitator (and no, Andrew does NOT live in our washing machine), and only a few settings.  I only need a few settings, so that is just fine with me.  I can have hot, warm, or cold washes – all with cold rinses – small, medium, or large loads, and 6, 8, 10, or 14-minute washes.  I think there are a few other odd settings, but I don’t think I have ever used any of them.

I normally use the 10-minute wash, and I have always wondered why it takes about 40 minutes for the full load to run.  I mean, 10 is not equal to 40, at least the last time I learned my numbers.  So, for the past few years, I have been doing one cold load every Wednesday morning, and that load takes about 50 minutes to run.  I did finally figure out that the problem is that while the warm water I use for most loads comes in at an adequate rate to fill the basket fairly quickly, the cold water only trickles in, and I do mean trickle.  The stream of warm water is about six inches wide and one inch deep, but the cold water stream is about the diameter of a pencil.  This means that the filling of a large cold load takes a VERY long time, and since there are two cold rinses (as in fill the tub with cold water) with each load – and this is pre-set and like the law of the Medes and the Persians cannot be altered – having such a tiny trickle of incoming cold water is problematic and slows the whole process to a snail’s pace.

So while were we standing around before church, I asked J.R. if he had any ideas of what I might do to solve that problem, and he did!  He said that back in the day he had had the same problem with his washer; that there is a filter on the intake line at the wall and another filter on it at the machine, and that if one were to clean out those filters, one would probably get a larger stream of water coming in.  Hmmmm…  Furthermore, he said that the culprit on the cold line was probably actually lime build-up from our exceedingly hard water and that while he had just gone to Lowe’s to buy a new filter for his, we could probably vinegar soak the filter overnight with excellent results.

Being on a “request for assistance” roll, having asked J.R. for help, I pressed on to ask Scott to help me do the actual deed.  And he acquiesced.  Actually he did all the work.  = )  He pulled out the washer, and I won’t go into detail about what the vinyl flooring under and behind the washer looked like.  Andrew could give details on that.  He then attempted to shut off the water to the washer, but this was significantly easier said than done.  The handle for that is actually located in a hole in the wall between the kitchen (dishwasher – actually full of light bulbs, but with its water connections still intact) and the laundry room (washing machine).  So grabbed the handle, one of those old-timey, four-prong affairs, and twisted, but it would budge.  I was then requested to retrieve the channel-lock pliers off the porch where they had been used a few days earlier for work on the propane grill, and with those clamped in place, he twisted again and the brass handle broke OFF.  Thankfully above the water line, so we didn’t have water shooting into the wall, but broken, nonetheless, making it impossible to turn off the water to the washing machine.  In 103 year-old homes, NO repair is ever easy or straightforward.

We would have to turn off the water to the house, so, being stuck behind the washer (in order for Scott to get out from behind there, we’d have to pull the washer forward far enough that there would be nowhere for him to stand, so, since gymnastics would be required, he only wanted to execute that particular maneuver one time – when the job was finished), he sent Andrew to the well house.  Once the water was shut off, Scott undid the intake hose and produced something small and nasty, which he handed to me with the instruction, “Here.  Rinse this out, please.”  Ummm. . . and how was I supposed to do that with no water?

The well house has faucet with hose on the outside of the building, and that faucet is not controlled by the shut-off valve to the house, so I carried the little item out back, and on the way I examined it closely.  It seemed to be made of very fine brass mesh, about the size and shape of a thimble, and it was packed completely full of what appeared to be mud.  Doubtfully, I applied the well house’s hose to it, and, lo and behold, all the much came it out and it was shiny and clean!

Back in the house, my man-behind-the-washing machine replaced the filter, re-connected the supply line, extricated himself from his prison, and went out to the well house.  With each of our cell phones at the ready in case of flood, he turned the water to the house back on, and nary a drop oozed out.  Yay!

To test it, we started a cold wash filling, and the stream of water coming into the washer was HUGE!  I have since run a large “10-minute wash” load in exactly 40 minutes, a savings of some 12 minutes per load, which will be wonderful, especially on Wednesdays when I have to run a cold load first thing in the morning.

I told J.R. my good news on Sunday and he rejoiced with me.  I told him I was surprised that the clog was mud instead of lime, and he explained that every time we shut off the water for some plumbing repair and then turn it back on, it flushes some built-up stuff on through the pipes (hence the brown water out of the faucet for the first few seconds after re-starting), and while it just comes out the faucets in most places, that little filter on the washer catches it and it all builds up over time.  It’s actually amazing that we were getting ANY cold water into the washer at all.  And it’s equally amazing that such a little thing can cause such a big problem.

There’s probably some great life lesson in there I need to tease out.

A Saturday in Walnut Shade

It was a stressful day, particularly in the morning, as we had some major issues to deal with.  They were emotionally challenging, and handling them took time; time that had been previously allocated for other things.  It was important to address these issues, and I’m glad we did, but doing so put me way behind on the tasks I needed to accomplish today, and, in case any of you don’t already know, I HATE to be behind.  Or late.  I also hate clutter, even though much of my house is cluttered much of the time.

So after dealing with family stuff and making an unplanned Wal-Mart run, I came home and took a flying leap at my to-do list.  And no, there will be no YouTube videos of said leap.

First, digging out the desk.  That is never easy, mainly because when I’m gone a lot – which I was this week (seemingly this month and year, as well), the stuff on my desk just keeps piling up.  I had three days of unopened mail, and the stack was literally four inches high.  Two identical catalogs, both unsolicited.  Six water bills for three vacation rental homes.  (Why they have to send two for each house escapes me.)  Something like six credit card offers, although one was for Jessica and one was for Josiah.  A number of other bills, including a medical one that says they would appreciate our payment within ten days.

I managed to create a small clear space to work in and was thankful for my desk’s right and left pull-outs.  One had two shoeboxes of greeting cards on it, and the other still has a five-inch-high stack of school books, papers, and assignments that need my attention.  (I’m telling you, I could never be a real teacher!)  And that doesn’t count the two small stacks of graduation and/or wedding invitations and/or cards on the desk proper.

In the approximately one foot square space of actual desk surface, I was able to prepare the May birthday and anniversary cards, a process I thoroughly enjoy doing and which involves nearly 90% of the beavish part of my brain.  I also ordered more cards from Current, as my stash has been getting low.

Next, Scott offered to help me clean the house(!!!).  This happens on very rare occasions, and I have learned to ALWAYS say yes to such an offer.  Between the two of us we got the whole first floor, including breezeway, playroom, and porch and walk in nice shape for our friends who are arriving tomorrow and our life group tomorrow night.

As a reward for all that effort, Scott and I took a walk by the creek, which was a good thing.  There are two topics of conversation that seem to come up EVERY time we take a walk, so this time I challenged us to avoid mentioning either.  Which we did for about an hour, and when one of them finally did come up, we agreed that we had disciplined ourselves long enough that it was okay.

Back at the house, Andrew had finished school and lawn, so we played Settlers of Catan while eating a bag meal of Chicken Fajita Rice (Chili’s brand, from Wal-Mart) in flour tortillas with cheese dip and chips.  It was fast, easy, and everybody liked it, so I am trying not to feel guilty about using such a rather pricey total convenience item.

I won the game (yay!), the guys are now making another Wal-Mart run for some essentials for Andrew, and I’m supposed to be doing the dishes and cleaning the second floor.  Instead I am blogging.  I’d better go do the dishes, because if the boys get home and they’re still all over the counter, I might be tempted to feel guilty, and guilt is one thing I’m trying very hard to live with as little of as possible.

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