Saturday, December 15, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Wow! Left off blogging much longer than I'd intended! Our holiday season is flying by once again. Yours too, right?

Thanksgiving was great, but busy. My natural father brought a delicious maple ham for the day, and another friend volunteered a venison roast (actually 2 - we've saved one for Christmas). We were all able to eat at the table together once again, so we made the most of the occasion. :)

Tom's birthday was quiet, but nice. Happy to say that he loved the books we found. I've gotten my turn at a couple of them already- heh heh. We share many of our presents with one another. We don't share our interest in things equally, but we do share plenty of preferences with one another in music, books, movies, games... Makes family life pleasant to be able to share so much so happily. :)) In other news, Becka had her next big test and did reasonably well. We've had assorted colds and allergy days with the up and down weather. Its still varying from the 70's to the 40's for daytime high temperatures. The last two winter systems broke right above us, sending a little rain, but nothing worse. Our prayers are with you guys facing those ice storms! We KNOW how miserable those can be, even though we haven't gotten anything like that in awhile. The surgery has finally got a settled date, after the immediate holidays (providing he can hang in there that long. Here's hoping!) I haven't decided how much of my November mystery to share online. Y'all will have to wait and see!

Here's a few recent holiday photos::

The digital card Becka made for this year is better seen on our Christmas site, which continues to accrue holiday treats even as I type this. Please feel free to check it out. This year we have added a few jigsaws and new word searches, as well as the Christmas stories I've written down over time and the usual Christmas card. There is even a hidden surprise.

Tom's cake was decorated by our loving kiddos. They didn't do to bad a job IMHO!

The squirrel photos are from downtown Williamsburg. We don't often shop there, but when you've looked all the normal places for something... This spunky little guy insisted on following us around Merchant Square parking lot. We think he wanted a peanut, but we didn't have any squirrel treats on us. He ran up a nearby tree when Tom got his camera out, but didn't really leave, as you can see.

The rest of the pictures are from our house to yours.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Educational Holiday Treats

An educational treat from The Teaching Company:

In "Christmas in Victorian Britain," Professor Patrick N. Allitt
explores the celebration of Christmas as we know it today, with
decorations, music, and lavish gift exchanges, and where it
began—Victorian Britain. While the holiday had older traditions such as
those that celebrated the winter solstice, the Victorians enhanced and
clarified the religious elements of Christmas and at the same time
commercialized it.

After familiarizing yourself with the origins of modern-day Christmas,
explore "Christmas in 19th-century America." How did different ethnic
groups in America celebrate Christmas in the early 19th century? Why did
New Englanders often want to avoid all forms of celebration while
Pennsylvania Germans dressed up, visited each other, and drank heavily?
After the Civil War, Christmas celebrations began to be standardized
throughout the nation under the influence of the new department stores,
which ran the Christmas-oriented marketing campaigns we are familiar
with today. "

"You may access your free lectures online between now and January 31, 2008. Please feel free to send the lecture links to any friends of yours who might also enjoy them. They are free for them as well.
Season's greetings to you!"

[Thanks, Chris!]

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Brief Break before...

Helping my hubby with saving some fall bounty. He's been puttering about with a few friends, working on little projects and sharing in the occasional harvest. He is still waiting to finish up with the medical stuff, though we did have some good news this week. His meds were changed just a little and he is feeling better for it! Thanks to friends we have some fresh nuts and even got some turnip greens a couple nights ago. Doesn't sound wonderful but it tasted GREAT once Mom got done with it.

Becka had her birthday recently, and seemed to enjoy it. Made us very glad she was pleased. You can see a picture of her bday cake below. I will leave the honors of any further description to her. (hint!)

Fall is fully in flowering, glowing color now. Absolutely glorious!

Both kids are doing rather well with their studies. We've added in a few lectures & AP materials from the free sites. Never knew the lattice method of multiplication before, though I had heard it mentioned. Its made things much easier for my son, especially. His ABeka books LOVE to drill lengthy multiplication problems.

I have been reading more dedicatedly since joining Shelfari. Its great to hear from other literate, amusing, intelligent people. I found a few new authors from their recommendations, got a ton of old books to read from another acquaintance, and have been reading night and day again. Unsurprisingly, this has made my own writing bug worse. ;-)

As a result, I have joined the NaNoWriMo project with the story DH and I sketched out together on our last date - working title "Malvoisine." Its going well so far. I have the concept, plot line, and several chapters planned - in addition to the first pages. This makes my word count look a lot lower than it should at this time. I need a plan for larger projects, but they go much faster after this is done. I made sure they didn't mind this sort of thing before joining. It'd be great if I actually got the new novel done by the end of the month.

I may not make it, as I have homeschooling, chores, a small game project I would still like to have done before Christmas, my son's upcoming day of celebration, Christmas crafts, and a fair amount of competition for this computer. We still have the other non-set surgery plan lingering about like Banquo's ghost as well. Who knows when they will suddenly say - "be at the hospital." This is why I wanted this competition deadline. My writing has this habit of being put off indefinitely for everything else.

Now you know why I am going to be especially busy this month.

Soooo - if I disappear for a bit- its not necessarily a bad thing.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Now we're starting to see those fall colors :-)

Here are the latest photos from Dearest Hubby's peregrinations. These are before the rain. We had 5 inches this week, so they tell us. I can believe it. Parts of the meadow could have supported a salmon migration (if we had freshwater salmon here - which we don't afaik.) Thankfully the moats have largely taken off the excess to the creeks, much to the joy of the remaining frogs.

No other announcements to make yet. We're still waiting. Hopefully we'll get some good news soon.

Anyway, please enjoy :)

Click any image to see it full sized. You will need to use you back button to return afterward.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Our first web comic

Becka has put up a set of pictures that I hope everyone who stops in will wander over and enjoy -

She did all the graphic work on these, and I think she may be rightfully pleased with her work. Its also the first time that one of the comic little scenes I've dreamed up has been put online.

She has written some artist notes about each picture & all that. :)

If I find my sketchbook, I may scan in a few of my old cartoons sometime. Don't expect anything manga-like or soap opera-ish from those. I only got into some anime recently (aside from Ghibli films) & fan efforts resemble what we enjoy the most. I never was a big comic book person, and I certainly wasn't into the horror, superhero, or 'Mad' kind of humor (too mean). I loved instead the 'newspaper comics' i.e. :: Pogo, Peanuts, Hagar, B.C., Garfield, Rose is Rose, Wizard of ID, Foxtrot, Andy Capp, Kudzu, Shoe, Momma, Dilbert, Ziggy, Bloom County, For Better or Worse, Calvin and Hobbes, Ripley's Believe or Not, Frank and Earnest, & the Far Side.

Explains a lot, doesn't it?


Note:: If you don't see the pictures on Becka's page initially, you may need to lower your 'ad protection' temporarily. I always have to when I visit my daughter's blog, but turning down that setting has worked to restore 'missing' photos on every blog I have visited thus far. Some don't kick off my filter. Some do.

Did you know you can still see a bunch of the old comic strips online?

All of these have a drop down menu where you can scroll through until you see the cartoons you like. It usually says 'pick a feature.'

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bagpiper & the Squirrel

Well, we finally translated the bagpipe videos from the Black Powder history festival.

We ran back when we heard the man playing and caught about half the first song.

Online Videos by

and then all of the second.

Online Videos by

He's rather good!

I thought it especially wonderful that our kids were front and center to hear some decent bagpipe playing given their Scottish heritage. Added a lot to the day!

You may or may not have been able to glimpse Mr Squirrel in the previous slideshow. But now you will be able to see him clearly if you click the thumbnail below. Rebecca was kind enough to lighten the picture in Paint Shop.

Mr Squirrel makes pretty decent wallpaper - but please remember all rights reserved by artist! (Tom, in this case) In you want to use or post pictures from our album or blogs elsewhere in a commercial project or put it elsewhere on the internet please contact us and ask. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fall beauty

Tom handed over his camera to share a few more of his more pleasant observations in our area. Still doesn't much look like fall, does it? Ah well, at least the weather has cooled pleasantly.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Severely ODDmentz

Sometimes blog-hopping leads in some very weird directions. Like this quiz from Joel & Ricki's blog...

(lightly edited. NOTE! The code changes in blogger! In fact, every time I used the 'compose' window, the code expanded to about 3x the size & the little red bars ceased to work. Fellow bloggers: You will do best to publish any quizzes from this site from 'edit html' window.)

How will I die?
Your Result: You will die while saving someone's life.

The most noble of all deaths. Your rewards will be great in the next life. You are most definitely a humanitarian. If not currently, you will be. To give one's life is a precious moment that will be remembered by friends and family for many decades.

You will die while laughing too hard.
You will be murdered by your evil universe twin.
You will die in a nuclear holocaust begun by the Daleks after traveling to the end of the universe.
You will die in your sleep when HAL malfunctions.
You will die from a terminal illness caught on Deep Space 9.
You will die in a car accident running over ET.
You will die of boredom at Vogon poetry convention.
How will I die?
Create a Quiz

Also from Ricki...
The weirdest Bible translation yet:: LOLCat (warning: some verses are PG) Aside from the humor aspect, its not a great 'modern' Bible, but I don't think they are actively blasphemous. The verses I read kept most of the basic thoughts)

Recently watched some amusing, surreal videos after visiting one blog and getting directed over to StrongBad's Email box. Not too naughty either - from the ones I have checked so far. Just the occasional bit of mildly bad language/bad behavior etc. A fellow blogger pointed out that the latest Strongbad 'web comic' gave you even more fun when you clicked certain words on the last screen/page. This turns out to be true of most of the comics. When the cartoon stops, click words or objects you see on screen. On 'bike thief' - click the word 'safe' when it stops :))

And one fellow adventure gamer found Garfield's Scavenger Hunts to be worthwhile (mouseover the house in the middle of the page). Its not from a blog, but weird fun nevertheless. How many games ask you to swat spiders until they give up their doughnuts? If you win Scavenger Hunt 2, you can get a fairly innocent Halloween screensaver.

& This is the first quiz I have seen (on a regular quiz site) that checked my Bible literacy. Thanks, Amy!

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

Woohoo! I got them all right!

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Literature Nerd

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it's eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of new works.

It's okay. I understand.

Artistic Nerd
Social Nerd
Drama Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Anime Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

Guess you won't be surprised to hear I just found a few more books today? I will probably head off from this computer to go read the Jared Diamond's "Collapse." Seems gloomy enough for the season ^_^

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This n' that

So -down off the soapbox and back to regular life. lol

Local News:: If you heard about Rep Davis passing, well so did we. She was a shaker & a mover in the state. Some folks are in shock, especially her real estate buddies. Lord have mercy on her soul. Hopefully she has gone to a better place. I didn't know her that well, so I have been just reading and watching and thinking. Its been interesting to see all her connections in the paper. You'd be surprised what people will say at these times!

Also, seems like the police are having a very bad year. Seems like dozens of them have been arrested for serious current or past misbehaviors in the area (& around the nation). If thats an exaggeration, I apologize, but that is most definitely the impression the news coverage has given us. Its got to be affecting their general credibility by now. Seems a shame because there are so many good ones! Several more deputies died unexpectedly in accidents and whatnot. (Lord have mercy on their souls too!)

& Our fine transportation department has just informed the public that although our bridge is the same type as the one that collapsed in Minnesota, its just fine. We can now ignore all that red paint on its many 'items of concern' that have marked this bridge since the big inspection. The spokesperson said that 'if there was a problem they would have limited access to heavier trucks or closed it for an alternate route. Since they aren't - we may rest assured that our bridge is safe to use.' Now - saying they would have closed it IF there was a problem IF there was an alternate route only brings to mind that there is NO alternate route for ohh 30 miles or so. Also that the other bridge had been regularly inspected and given a pass before it fell. Still -its nice to have that reassurance. I feel better already, don't you?

C'mon now, where's your spirit of adventure?

As for us, personally, the news isn't that bad right now, though I am still not quite over my cold. After getting a few things done, and writing the blogs earlier, I had to break out the cold meds & vitamin C once again & forgot to post them!

Yep, back to the cough drops, but at least we've had a reasonably good week anyway. We had a relatively (bad pun alert!) good visit on Monday & went to dinner together at decent Chinese buffet. Hung around and chattered by candlelight afterward.

That outdoor table is getting plenty of use!

Tom took him around the neighborhood to see the sights (and was ogled by one of locals who obviously wanted to know very badly who it was we had with us. I have reason to believe she studies this blog, so I shall sport with your curiosity as well. Bwahahaha!)

We have nice weather now & I am improving again rapidly.

Tom still has issues because he is still in waiting mode for getting everything processed that needs to be finished before the surgery. They need to see if his meds need changed etc. It seems like a couple of folks are not interested in doing their jobs, but God is faithful! & today looks to be pretty good. He just made a trade that may make camping easier when we're ready to do that again.

Monday, October 08, 2007

C.S. Lewis & Evolution

More thoughts on the subject, before I leave this topic again...

People like to point to C.S. Lewis as a moderate who believed evolution. Actually he began as an evolutionary humanist who ended up convinced God was real, then Jesus was real....thinking out carefully the implications of what discoveries he had made. He said initially that what troubles he had with evolution as a theory weren't religious in nature (which would have got him pilloried in our day all by itself!), but by the end of his life was leaning against it. Would one of the best logicians and apologists of the 2othC have been heard with respect if he had seen the difficulties much earlier? How about now? Could C.S. Lewis get a fair hearing if he began his career now?

September 13, 1951: I have read nearly the whole of Evolution [probably Acworth's unpublished "The Lie of Evolution"] and am glad you sent it. I must confess it has shaken me: not in my belief in evolution, which was of the vaguest and most intermittent kind, but in my belief that the question was wholly unimportant. I wish I were younger. What inclines me now to think that you may be right in regarding it as the central and radical lie in the whole web of falsehood that now governs our lives is not so much your arguments against it as the fanatical and twisted attitudes of its defenders. C.S. Lewis
It was the bad-spirited, anti-Christian, anti-deist venom that really made me look twice at evolutionary doctrine as a kid. Real science doesn't need hatred. It is supposed to be impartial, right? So why did so many who 'really' believed in it act like such jerks? Why were they so hostile to any other point of view - even privately held?

Once my eyes were opened it became easier to see biased interpretations in different fields chosen specifically to refute Biblical positions. I had a mentor in high school who had been convinced that biblical archeology had proven scripture wrong, and shared the books that convinced her with me as a student. I dutifully read them, and researched the claims, but some I already knew were wrong. I was on several archeology mailing lists at the time, and so had already heard the answers for some of the nonsense these books were spouting. (Specifically: Jericho HAS got a layer of damage consistent with scripture, as do most sites in the Holy land. The Bible DOES mention worship of the 'Queen of Heaven' and other cults both before and after strong temple worship periods. Its just that there - contrary to established archaeological practice elsewhere, they insist that since the record and their chronology do not match, it must be the Bible that is wrong, rather than their dating system. Even the OT does have strong female figures who were remembered with respect - Esther, Deborah, Judith etc. It wasn't all gained from increasing Ashteroth worship or whatever.) The obvious anti-Biblical (and anti-Torah/Talmuddic) goal of such 'scientific' works opened my eyes early then to the spiritual warfare aspect of some endeavors in what is currently accepted as 'science.' I did not know about the Creationist movement when I was a child. I just knew Christ was true. I did not know about Creationist based scientific alternatives until I was a mother myself. I just had realized in my school years that evolutionary ideas were being pushed like a faith, where proponents openly ridiculed those who believed in God and/or the story of Genesis. Later, in private study, I learned how many of the early 'proofs' had turned out to be frauds and that this had not altered the theories promoted or the increasing control of those who promoted those falsehoods one iota. Pure science is supposed to be self-correcting as new information comes to light, but the longer I looked at the history of the main scientific establishments, the more obvious it became to me that this was not the method employed to bring it into the ascendancy. Plenty of others have independently made the same discoveries. Not a wonder so many of us are skeptical of the evolutionary belief system. We would be even if the creation scientist & ID guys had never appeared. Fakes and tautologies still abound in children's textbooks. No matter how often this is pointed out, they stay there until the iconic images of evolution are well-ingrained. THEN -in the upper grades- they are only corrected by talking about how those old fakes have been replaced by 'new evidence.' uh huh

The evolutionary science framework demands that God not be considered as a possible effect upon the natural framework, then uses the absence of proof of God inside theorems then substituted as proof of absence. It is outrageously illogical - so - in the spirit of 'pure science' they call those who notice this 'idiots' & those who who have a Christian background into the bargain are 'religious fundamentalists who only don't believe because religion has blinded them.' They seem pretty blind to us, or they could acknowledge the very real holes in the system. I have read some of the ID versus evolutionary debates, and its usually the Evo-believers who do most of the flaming.

Evolution has had so many definitions that some of them are endorsed by everyone. All scientists and educated laypersons believe that species are capable of variation to improve their survival as their environments change. Thing is- dissenters see that adaptive mechanism as built into the creatures, incapable of macro-changes needed to make a frog into a man. Luther Burbank's 'reversion to the mean' seems to be a real principle. The fossil record could as easily be accounted for by a catastrophe after alien settlement as by the Genesis account, but many of us see issues with accepting the geologic columns and the larger Darwinist creation mythos. Therefore Darwin's theories need to be given up as the ruling paradigm, and recognized again as possible - but unproven. The discoveries that have been made since his time need to be examined on their own merits. Let everyone believe their own creation myth, evolutionist atheists too, just quit calling it 'science' - because it isn't!

What gets me is that accepting that Darwin blew it doesn't make anyone believe in God per se. You cannot prove Him. (In fact, He will not show Himself to those who wish to be blind. He wants us to come by faith, for the right reasons and not because He really is the only sensible choice.) C.S. Lewis is correct. Should this complicated fabrication be largely amended or replaced prior to Christ's return, depend upon it, another tasty, human-flattering, poetic fantasy will take its place.

Expelled sounds good to me!

Recently got the word from Chris about this film coming in Feb 2008. I hope it stays as good as it looks to be right now!

Dawkins, amongst others, is complaining already because they know what kind of garbage they spewed forth not realizing this wasn't another anti-ID propaganda project.

I think people can stand to hear what they sound like when the context is less 'official' and sympathetic than usual. I doubt it will change the minds of the most bigoted, but it may open some minds about what kind of attitudes are festering behind all those apparently respectable claims of 'proven scientific superiority.' I have yet to see any sign these guys are at all open-minded enough to argue an alternate scientific paradigm on its own scientific merits. They never want to talk about whether design as a theory fits the facts we have (unless its to blindly claim it doesn't with a whole lot of venom and anger, but precious few facts.) I feel they are free to believe what they like, but should recognize others' rights to honorable disagree with their interpretation of the facts.

I wrote a couple of years ago about the kind of pressure that I read was being put on any scientist who had doubts about toeing the Darwinist line. (Though there are better old blogs on the subject.) Kinda nice to see some follow up. Seems like every time I read a thread on a webboard or post where killing Christians in large numbers is put forth as a great idea, Dawkins' name comes up. Dawkins, in particular, is well known for his sneering anti-ID & anti-Deist comments, which usually are answered intelligently & politely, but not where the public can hear them. Was very pleased when Lennox debated him recently. They say he did a good job.

Dawkins has looked good thus far because of the indoctrination most everyone got at school & from PBS - and because of backing he has been getting. Look at who published him - the New York Times - look where this answer is - an obscure blog online. Behe may eventually get the chance to answer in some larger venue, I don't know, but it probably won't be anywhere near as big a stage as Dawkins got to make his snide comments. This is typical. The general public sees only what is published in the official papers & mags. You have to look online for any other answers - which makes it easier to define the debate & the terms on it in the public mind and call for even more strictures on these dissenters. Then these indoctrinated kids say the ID people never answer because they have no real answers & don't deserve any respect. ggrrrrr

Thankfully the machinery that protected so many radicals before has continued to protect a number of freethinkers now - but young academians have not always been so blessed. Young people trying to get their degree, or establish tenure, have reported being interrogated as to their worldview before being approved, which gives the appearance, at least of being an important factor in the decisions. Sometimes the questioning is on hot button issues which people often decide based on worldview - as in this man's case.

One case made the local paper - because the young man with ID views was allowed his degree after agreeing to write a traditional-based thesis as a hypothetical case. His professors approved it - over the objections of several of their colleagues who were, in the process, quite openly suggesting that a student's private world view should be taken into account before accreditation was permitted. Another case seems to have gone even more smoothly. Its the article that implies something amiss.

I have called the disrespectful treatment of ID & Creationist advocates persecution for the very good reason that it fits the textbook definition. They can face public ridicule and material reverses for taking a firm, but polite stand for what they believe to be true. From what I have read, seen, and heard - there are people are being denied respect and position their life skills and personal attainments should have put in their reach. People can agree to disagree on all kinds of things and still go forward.

I also want to take this moment to praise the professors who have refused to become thought police for humanist bigots. Requiring students to frame answers terms of 'currently accepted science' is reasonable. Recognizing the human rights of the students to reasonably doubt those theories on their own time is also reasonable.

Let's hear it for the reasonable people! *applauds*

Here's hoping this movie can open a few more eyes to the kind of bigotry that dissenters have had to face.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Black Powder Weekend

We finally felt well enough to attend one of the many history-centric events held around here. It helped that this one was very close. Had a great time! Spent hours especially with the fella who taught a little geology while making spear & arrowheads, the Tinker's wagon, the ladies who did their own weaving, with the Royal Rangers from the 1750's era, and with a 18thC Surgeon guy (but not his usual homeschooling assistants who had caught cold and somehow didn't seem enthused about trying any of his many early remedies. ::grin::).

William chose a tin cup like the one Laura and her sisters got for Christmas in the Little House stories. Additionally, he was given some neat stone bits (including one 'near' arrowhead) from the knapper and a tin 'icicle' ornament by the tinker for listening so politely. His grandmother was thrilled with DS's ornament as she says this is the only sort of 'tinsel' her grandmothers would allow on their Christmas trees. She hadn't seen one in decades! Its very sharp so we've set it aside for now.

Mom got herself handwoven bookmarks. Becka got herself a candleholder/lamp surrounded by glass, and I got a sort of carryable sconce that the tinsmith insists is an exact reproduction of the ones used by early spelunkers in the Shenandoah caves. He says his wife's grandfather made the ones used & shown in photos at the turn of the 20th century by hobbyist explorers. He used the old sconces as models for his new ones. Very cool!

We took plenty of photos of the events there and a couple of short movies of the geologist guy playing his bagpipes. I may get that up here soon too. :))

Afterward we went to the new Mexican restaurant in the county. My hubby and I had tried them before and found the food to be very good. Mom is from Texas so I was determined to get her to come sometime so she could give her expert opinion. She finally came & was very pleased by the food and the decor. What a great way to end the day!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Interview Meme

What kind of soap is in your bathtub right now? Keltic Myst organic soap - scent of the day is still sandlewood, though someone opened the lemongrass already. There's also an oatmeal bar waiting its turn.

Do you have any watermelon in your refrigerator? No. We have a lot of pumpkin in various stages of cooked down after one of the kitties tackled it this week. Naughty kitty. Don't give me that 'who me?' look - aww - they're so blessed CUTE. ::sigh::

What would you change about your living room? uumm...probably everything. It still needs more shelves. I could stand to replace the furniture in it too - & reorganize!

Are the dishes in your dishwasher clean or dirty? What dishwasher? Me? Okay..well, yes, I had a bath last night...So did Mom. My DD is having one right now. Yep - all the dishwashers are clean! (The septic system was only recently upgraded. it would have been too much of a strain before)

What is in your fridge? ::rummages around:: raw pumpkin in a bag, some leftover chicken & rice casserole, lots of cheese, some butter, steamed pumpkin bits, some plain rice, olives, agave nectar (wonderful stuff, that), stewed pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, apples, yams, some fruit juices.... but no pumpkin juice. We drank that already ::grin::

White or wheat bread? wheat multi-grain whenever possible. My hand-made breads are usually white though.

What is on top of your refrigerator? An economy-sized pack of paper towels, can cozies, a couple of those insulated sandwich holders, a thermos-ish water jug, two flashlights...

What color or design is on your shower curtain? frosted glass door with a fancy design worked into it.

How many plants are in your home? My daughter has a miniature rose bush & a hyacinth plant. That's it. Plenty of plants outside, however. We live on the edge of a forest.

Is your bed made right now? As made as is possible in its current condition. :)

Comet or Soft Scrub? Comet or Old Dutch Cleanser (no fumes!)

Is your closet organized? Packed from top to bottom. If that is organized, its organized!

Can you describe your flashlight? One is blue plastic with a flashing red led light. Another is shiny blue aluminum. We have three black aluminum ones of varying sizes. Then there's the camping lanterns - mostly yellow or green plastic. We have oil lamps & candles too.

Do you drink out of glass or plastic most of the time at home? plastic pitchers of tea. My good glass pitchers have been packed for awhile now. Kept hoping I'd be moving soon...

Do you have iced tea made in a pitcher right now? Technically it isn't iced, as the three pitchers of tea are cold only because they are kept in the fridge with the fruit juice. Current cold tea favs are:: Earl Grey, Constant Comment, & Mandarin Orange

If you have a garage, is it cluttered? packed like the closet, except for DH work area.

Curtains or blinds?
Mostly homemade curtains

How many pillows do you sleep with? I don't count them. I just mound them up with a good book - and sigh contentedly.

Do you sleep with any lights on at night? We have security lights outside the house that answer for nightlights inside as well. Occasionally we'll leave a bathroom light on low as well.

Standard toothbrush or electric? Sonic! I love it!

What color is your toothbrush?

Do you have a welcome mat on your front porch? We don't use the front door. We DO have an ornate rubber mat out back. If it makes people feel welcome, great!

What is in your oven right now? Nuttin' but those wire racks.

Is there anything under your bed? crates with crochet & sewing projects, old vhs recordings, & SNES cartridges.

Chore you hate doing the most? After three years of intense medical adventure with my hubby, do you really want to ask that question? Thought not.

What retro items are in your home? *looks at old fashioned watch on a chain* How much time have you got?

Do you have a separate room that you use as an office? Is it a separate space if its open to the hallway, has no internal walls, and everyone goes through it several hundred times a day? No? Okay- then the answer is, no.

How many mirrors are in your home? Not many. There are two in the bathrooms & one full one in the sewing area. I know we recently bought another handheld too.

Do you have any hidden emergency money around your home? Not a good question for an open meme, IMHO. The only safe answer is 'no.'

What color are your walls? Highly variable. You sure you have time to have me list them all?

Do you keep any kind of protection weapons in your home? Another non-safe meme question. Seriously folks, skip this one if you do this meme. If you have guns you can get targeted for theft of them ~ or by hostile idjits. If you announce you aren't armed publicly, you could be at higher risk for regular robbery/home invasions.

What does your home smell like right now? I have had a cold for two weeks. No clue.

Favorite candle scent? Gingerbread :)

What kind of pickles (if any) are in your refrigerator right now? bread & butter slices. We finished up the dill spears the other day.

What color is your favorite Bible? Hmm.. Which one is a favorite varies. My Scofield, NKJV, NIV, & KJV are black. My Tyndale is green. The Amplified bible is purple/gold paperback. My Webster must be considered white - because it lacks an outer jacket.

Ever been on your roof? Yep! When we had to put a tarp on the damage after Hurricane Isabel.

Do you own a stereo?Not really. I play most music on my computer, but it has decent speakers & headphones.

How many TVs do you have? Well, when you have an extended family you tend to get strange answers to questions like that. My hubby & I have two - but my Mom & DD have one of their own. All are hooked to mostly older game consoles & video players. We don't watch that much tv.

How many house phones? 3

Do you have a housekeeper? Sure! ME! lol

What style do you decorate in? EXPLODED TOY BOX! (kept this answer. Its too perfect)

Do you like solid colors in furniture or prints? Solids for a soothing base, but a few classy patterns can be nice.

Is there a smoke detector in your home? yes

Monday, October 01, 2007

One Word Meme

Quote for the day:
"The next time someone asks you 'what Jesus would do', remember that one valid option was to freak out and turn over tables" -- Anon

1. Yourself: creative
2. Your spouse: determined
3. Your hair: long
4. Your mother: saintly
5. Your father: returning?
6. Your favorite item: kompewtour lol
7. Your dream last night: peaceful
8. Your favorite drink: tea
9. Your dream car: volvo
10. The room you are in: hallway
11. Your ex: none
12. Your fear: gone
13. What you want to be in 10 years: Christlike
14. Who you hung out with last night: family
15. What you're not: boring
16. Muffins: banana
17: One of your wish list items: ipod
18: Time: flies
19. The last thing you did: laughed
20. What you are wearing: clothes
21. Your favorite weather: cool
22. Your favorite book: bible
23. The last thing you ate: coughdrop
24. Your life: possibilities
25. Your mood: relaxed
26. Your best friend: encouraging
27. What you're thinking about right now: this
28. Your car: quiet
29. What you are doing at the moment: thinking
30. Your summer: busy
31. Your relationship status: settled
32. What is on your TV: nothing
33. What is the weather like: pleasant
34. When was the last time you laughed: today

Sunday, September 30, 2007

First fall photos

Fall just officially started. Honestly, it doesn't look much like fall yet, but hubby did snap some neat photos in the last few days with his camera. Enjoy :))

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Updaterlyness: or 'Excuse Me? Your Witness is Showing...'

So whats up with us? Not much at the moment, we're all dealing with colds, except dear hubby who had it first and has mostly recovered. He is over helping some handicapped neighbors with their yard. Thankfully there are enough powered tools around that he doesn't need to strain himself to make a difference.

Our young kitties continue to grow. They are brothers from the same litter, and even marked similarly, but what a difference in personalities! The grey & white patched tabby kitty is a chowhound and hunter. He's an independent-minded who lets you know when he wants petted by leaping on you, or will avoid a pet by leaping away. Our orange & white patched kitty is a snugglebunny who loves pets and being near one of us when not playing with his brother. He's a total sweetheart and the cutest kitten we've ever had. Keep trying to get pictures of his most adorable moments, like when he's peeking over the edge of the boxes, but he moves rather quickly and seems camera-shy.

On the health front, things haven't moved all that much. The surgery for those serious hernias is still in the offing. As a matter of fact, hubby has an appointment for the next set of bloodwork for it next week (the old bloodwork info is no longer valid.). Afterward they should be setting a date - again. Hopefully they really will now that the conditions he's developed are stable & treated. Too many major medical procedures in only a few years turns out to have its own cost! Not that anyone had any choice. At least he's all back together again and able to move almost normally. He is losing weight now that his thyroid level is good again too, which pleases him. Old clothes are starting to fit, but he won't be able to wear his old jeans and slacks until they are very loose because of the hernias.

Have had some odd moments in the last week or so. Anyone who has known me any length of time has heard me growl about the awful neighbors - well, they may be thinking about coming around and acting decent or something. Its been more than 15 years since I left the church near our house, and last week one of them finally asked why I wasn't coming. I prayed before speaking, and the answer I got seemed to be to calmly point out the obvious. Pointed out that our whole family had been gossiped evilly about by senior members there, that every time I had gone to their church when we first came back to the area they kept sending back cutesy-pie 'messages' through me that sounded innocent until explained, and which seemed designed to irritate my husband and his family. I reminded her that our sweet, eager-to-please daughter had actually been threatened and assaulted by kids in the area school (as well as one rotten teacher) in first & second grade and that those kids referenced their neighborhood gossip when confronted on it.

They'd have done the same to us if they dared. They almost worked themselves up to it on several occasions. I know perfectly well their little hate-speech clubs have had a lot to do with the harassment in the woods, the repeated efforts to find something 'wrong' code-wise, the people (including 2 deacons at their church) who would swerve AT our car on the backroads near here, the continual suggestion to local law enforcement (until the officers finally got tired of it) that whatever was going down we must somehow be involved. Actually my husband has a very high security clearance & has held a concealment permit for ten years. You can only do that with a spotless record, which is exactly what he has. So yes, the lies have been THAT bad, that evil, that stupid. Sadly, they have found plenty of idiots to take them at face value. One person even went so far as to look up my name online and feed a few idiots there. I knew this was done exactly because I have given them very few openings to pick on me or mine in person. They don't know me at all. Did I mention already they have some really malicious gits in that group, making up the kind of place C.S. Lewis called a 'bad pocket?'

And she wants to know why I don't want to take up her offer now of coming to their Bible study?????

Now the woman speaking is actually very good friends with one of the worst gossips of all - one of the ones whose name has come up again and again when people defended saying or doing something stupid to one of us, or even to my husband's parents. Tom doesn't have fond memories of her as a kid. Seems she once declared him and a bunch of other neighborhood kids hooligans who were having fun tossing mud balls at each other (exempting her own sons, of course). This was mostly because a visiting child in a neat, frilly, little dress got some mud on her from someone's missed shot. He's been persona non grata with her ever since. If you think such normal kid-play was a crazy reason to judge someone harshly for decades, I have heard many similar stories. Here's another one. One guy - now deceased, but a leader in that same church for decades- stole a nice, old brass lamp from an abandoned house on the base where he worked as a private contractor. Fixed it up on the job, using the tools there and made it into an electric lamp. He was very proud of it. One day my hubby's parents were over playing cards when he realized it had been badly damaged and decided to blame their son (my hubby), who was a young teen at the time. It was ridiculous charge. Everyone was close together, so if any huge noises had happened it would have been heard. For once, even his parents knew there was nothing to it. Nevertheless, this deacon also nominated Tom as chief troublemaker and held this lamp against him forever, giving it as proof to everyone how 'disturbed' he was. (Tom later learned the damage was the result of the jealousy one of the deacon's own sons - but even that son went along with the blame game.) He made a point of lighting that lamp in the window every evening, especially if he could see Tom anywhere. Now you add this into several actual errors in judgment that his parents made him apologize and set straight right away (because they ARE decent) and you have a situation in which an ethical, patriotic, military family raised good kids - and got no credit for it at all. Absolutely every error, every lie like that lamp, every angry response they made, and a lot of unsolved local mischief got repeated over and over again as 'proof' of how awful they all were- and especially my poor hubby. After years of this abuse, it was an easy move for those 'elders' to blame him when a young man went missing in the area, but who actually happened to be a friend of his. Tom tried to help the police solve the case -you know, like in all those old tv shows?- but that only made things worse. Good thing by then he'd met me. I am an honest witness and a faithful friend. That proved to be important just then. God protected him from their worst efforts, because after all those years these nuts wanted to see something happen to him, to justify all their rumormongering.

You must be getting the impression that they just didn't like him here from the outset, and you would be right. Tom was targeted because he was different. He spent his early years in Japan, which gave him different sensibilities than what they were used to seeing around here - different even from his siblings who spent some of their early years near Morocco. He was and is ADHD - he was bit of a Calvin & Hobbes type. Basically they targeted him because he was the least favorite, too smart child of a family they already didn't like. They didn't like his parents previous Mormonism or his father's unwillingness to 'play ball' with their various schemes at his work. They picked on Tom's siblings too, but those kids were older, had friends on base, and were trained in martial arts. Those efforts tended to backfire. After awhile they focused on Tom as the safest target. His family often failed to come to his defense back then - and though they regret that now - it is hard to reverse what has become a habit with these people. We would have moved years ago if it had been at all possible. Now we're kinda enjoying the fact that they have been unable to destroy us. Praise God for His faithfulness!

Praise God also that Tom had a chance to live elsewhere for a bit and find out he could be appreciated and well-liked by an entire community, and not just a few down-and-outers. He has his faults, but he also has a great sense of humor, an insightful mind, and a desire to help other folks. Pity they never gave themselves the chance to really know him, isn't it?

Now with a background like that, its unlikely that this woman hadn't heard the outrageous rumors or ever stood against it. Indeed, her next act was to act 'afraid' when my hubby was leaving a couple of days later (probably trying to snow the new pastor into being stupid), though she was bold enough in front of me and even demanded a hug- and got one. I told her I didn't know for certain she was one of them when she finally fessed up her name- which was glossing things over somewhat - but I was surprised she had actually listened when I told her just how bad that congregation has long looked to us all, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Hey, she might never have thought out what was going on. I met the new pastor when he came up while talking to her, and was very favorably impressed. Seemed like a gentle, scholarly fellow. I will be praying for him. May Christ protect his servant from what I know is in that church! I don't think he'll be the only Christian there, but the prevailing influences on them can't be good from what we've seen.

Then - a day or so later after the first conversation with the lady from church- one of the worst remaining MALE gossips in the county decided to talk to Tom face to face at one of the area supermarkets, even offered his business card. Tom took the moment to remind him that the last crew that had been hired to do a job and walked off it unfinished had referenced his name right before leaving (not the guys who just worked on the yard. a previous crew). Actually he could have said a lot more, as plenty of people have referenced him as a 'source' of ugly rumors about Tom (as well as other people) but that answer seemed to be sufficient. He acted embarrassed in the store, but then tried to tailgate Tom when he went home. Obviously he wasn't that repentant.

Then - a day or two after that- one of the other neighbors ended up introducing themselves who had made such a point of being ugly without ever meeting us before (yes, that's right - we've been experiencing enmity from people that we have never spoken to and couldn't even identify without doing a bit of detective work. All that on the excuse of a few well-connected slanderers whose plans may have been thwarted by the honesty of Tom's parents!) Now this one had a clear motive. He hoped that Tom would put in a good word for him with the handicapped neighbors Tom is trying to help clear their yard. They have had a spell of bad health anyway, but when it was compounded by the last tropical damage, it went beyond our friends' ability to manage alone. Tom wasn't able to assist much until now. Anyway, this guy happens to be a neighbor of theirs and wants to let his horses graze on it afterward. Probably won't happen, as while the horses could be helpful in keeping down the overgrowth, that family has been ugly to our friends there too, and they know it. Still it felt weird that the good Lord arranged that this fella, who doesn't know us but has actually flipped us off before, among other things, ended up not recognizing Tom and hearing out a little bit of our side of things. He let them fill his head full of garbage without even meeting us. Now, maybe, he has a few new thoughts to consider.

Just to give you an idea how reflexively slanderous these local idjits are - a small group of them were working on a church repair a couple of weeks ago, and a branch fell down on the line at the end of the lane, knocking out our power and the church's power for a bit. The older men IMMEDIATELY started pointing down at my husband in the backyard, obviously blaming him for the outage to the other guys. Tom went to the end of the road, found & pointed out the branch to them, made a few sardonic comments and then called the power company so it could be repaired.

Another time, near one Christmas, a paper flew off a car window, and Tom picked it up because he doesn't like litter. It turned out to be an ugly note chewing out the owner of the car for using the church's parking lot after hours to go shopping - and it was signed with TOM"S WHOLE LEGAL NAME. One of them had attacked another of them, and libeled him while doing it. Gotta wonder how often that has happened! We reported that one everywhere, including to the pastor they had then, but got no answers, no apologies.

Another time, a now deceased deacon took my husband to task for tires spinning out in their churchyard, fairly obviously sports tires too (we don't even own a sports car), and whispered other things to a new gal in the neighborhood (we were never introduced). Now my husband and I had actually seen the car doing it, and saw what he was pointing it out to her and then pointing at us, so we came up to tell them it was a little red sports car driven by one of their little buddies. He denied loudly this could be so, and called the woman in question who swore she'd been sick in bed all week and was still there. Called us liars to our faces. Insisted to the new gal that we had probably vandalized the churchyard too.

15 minutes later we were still talking to the deacon when Madame 'sick-all-week' came zooming by, probably intending to to be stupid on the driveways there as 'punishment' for having pointed her out. [How do you like her logic? She's embarrassed to be caught so she plans to do the same thing again, and maybe worse. That is also typical of an advanced sin nature - what the Bible calls a 'seared conscience.' All people like that have left is a sense of social embarrassment and fear of consequences. Some of these people wouldn't know remorse or repentance if it bit them in the butt.] She saw the the deacon and speeded up from an estimated 70 mph to what Tom was sure was over 90, as she took off flying, trying, futilely, to avoid being recognized. The deacon just stood there with his mouth open and said "She LIED to me. She lied to ME!" over and over- while my husband and I busted out laughing. It was all ssooo typical of them...

And the reason I know they will use contacts and play on people's gullibilities has to do with the main Protestant churches we attended in county. We'd show up a few Sundays, people would be glad to see us. We'd enjoy the worship and the conversation. Everything would end on a happy note. It'd be like that for a few weeks, then one week you'd turn up and people are giving you the nervous look...oh, no, there's no problem..of course not. Well- actually - we had heard a few things - from who? Some would tell you, some wouldn't... Those who did would either mention them directly or mention a friend of theirs that was also buddies with one these influential clowns. It always - ALWAYS- came back to that mouthy, judgmental, unloving little group of 'church leaders' in our neighborhood.

Now about the churchyard accusation:: There have been plenty of incidents near those graves. We have seen vehicles parked in it empty at all hours. People have come from the churchyard to pick on us with calls (until they found the police WOULD follow up on that) then just obviously faked hoots and hunting calls at the wood edge (and sometimes howls when they encountered a skunk. LOL), running dogs over adjoining properties at all hours (not just ours), and even the occasional pot shots. Yes, really. One friend's wife had a bullet just miss her head while visiting with us out in our backyard near dusk over 10 years ago. That one got called into the cops & was not repeated. The person responsible was charged for reckless endangerment & had the weapon seized but nothing worse. They claimed they were target practicing & just didn't aim low enough to keep it in the trees. There are gun holes in the well house & garages too, but not the house. The plan was intimidation, not murder. They wanted to drive us out. We have heard repeatedly they attached some special value to the land itself. (Investigated that and didn't find much aside from a possible 'southern knights jousting competition' that may have been held nearby. Gotta say, after seeing the photos, that SCA has really improved over the years. Their costumes weren't very good back then - all one color and stuff. ;-)

We, on the other hand, were faithful to report prowlers in their churchyard after hours for years. The police hardly ever came in good time & we think we know why now. You see, another incident took place not long ago when we caught two of them in the act of releasing hunting dogs in the churchyard at midnight, we got their plate, and called the cops on their ignorant butts. One of the better guys in the area had told Tom that his horses were being harassed by dogs and asked to be called if we caught any of them, so Tom called and found out that one of the two bozos we'd just caught had already been turned in as a prowler on an adjacent property. The wife saw him skulking about her outbuildings one afternoon. Claimed to be chasing a dog then too. He has been keeping his hunting dogs with him when doing these stunts. Turns out current rules just about do excuse such criminal trespass when there is a hunting dog around - even out of season! When confronted, the one guy swore he had buddies in the police department and no one would touch him. So far they haven't either. But incidents like this one may yet get dog-hunting rules changed or revoked in Virginia. (Keep going, bud! Those laws need to be changed!)

Now this has all been very negative, so let me tell you the good side of what has happened over time because of these pressures. For one thing I ended up looking up unusual friends, you know, the kind of minorities they don't appreciate in good, white enclaves (this is how they describe themselves). ::grin:: I ended up joining a local acting troupe for awhile until my husband's health made it difficult to manage. I really enjoyed the characters I met there. I am not an actress so I did public relations work, wrote write-ups, that kind of stuff.

And, because we aren't the only family, or even category of people to be targeted, we've become very aware of how real and dangerous bigotry can be:: be it from racism, handicaps, religious preferences or - yes - orientation. There's almost a brotherhood of the downtrodden to be found in our midst. What friends we have are very decent people indeed.

Also, its led me to check out churches in the area that they don't like (and therefore don't have as many contacts in it they can use) - like the Pentecostals, Apostolics, and Catholic RCIA class I am taking right now. I don't know that I will join the Catholic church. I still have a number of doctrinal concerns that I haven't been able to ask about as yet, but I don't know that I would have gone so far in understanding my Catholic brothers and sisters if I had been comfortably ensconced in a Protestant church right along. I have been pressed to 'see the other side' by all this on a number of issues that have divided good people from one another, and I think I am a better person for it.

& This garbage also resulted in my gaining enough support to homeschool first our daughter, and later our son. I always wanted to homeschool, as I experienced tutoring in private schools, cottage homeschooling, as well as different public schools (my folks moved a lot) and found the alternatives to public school to be vastly superior, especially in the early grades. My hubby and in-laws were not convinced it was anything better than an inexpensive way to shield DD from abuse, but I hope by now they see the other benefits.

I am so glad that some Christians here have been able to show my husband's family that there ARE life-changing, positive effects from being in a Christian church, because without those guys , especially the chaplains, priests, and ministers who turn up at hospitals and such, I don't think I alone could have ever have convinced them.

Frankly, if this 'neighborhood church' had been the only witness for Christianity in the area, if he had never met me, I don't believe anyone in his family would have gotten saved.

A couple of years back I was reading the comments of one particular Pagan woman who was denouncing Christianity. I was, naturally, inclined to bristle at her words, until I read a bit further and saw how familiar some of her experiences had been. Then I understood. I don't blame Jesus for what people have done in His name. I know Yeshua. I know how much He loves us all, how much He loves these erring 'church members' and this openly hostile Pagan lady. It grieves me that people like this have turned her away from hearing what would be health and life to her very soul. I can only pray she also sees enough real believers to finally give Him a chance - and in so doing, herself.

I am also still praying fervently for an outpouring of God's Holy Spirit in that 'church' up the road. I truly do not believe many of them are saved, but they think they are, and that's the scariest thing of all. I don't want them to die in that state!

So here I am hoping that this sudden willingness to speak to us directly marks a new and better day. Hoping a truce will be formally established. I know God will make them keep it.