Saturday, November 29, 2008

Our Version of "This Old House"

The farm where we grew up is ten miles from town and so on Thanksgiving my brothers, who had driven a considerable distance to be there, suggested a trip to the "old house". We gathered most of us (siblings and families) into three cars and headed to the farm, arriving at the "old house" after negotiating the long dirt driveway.

The house is falling down. It is possible to stand in any room and see blue sky through the ceiling and attic and roof. Plaster is completely missing in some corners. Holes in the floor show where some animal has housed itself underneath the structure. Swallowtails had built nests in several corners and on light fixtures.

Our children were fascinated as only children can be, moving from room to room, peering in and out of windows. There was much exclaiming and laughter.

My Mom remained in the car. Seeing the old house in this condition is depressing to her. And it would be dangerous for her to negotiate the brush and the trash underfoot.

For us, however, her five remaining children, the visits back to the "old house" allow us to jog memories. We treaded carefully through trash and debris as we moved from room to room. We remembered where the old black and white television had entertained us Saturday mornings with Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Cisco Kid, the Lone Ranger, and Lash LaRue. We looked out the window where on school mornings we had used binoculars to search for the coming of the school bus so we could be ready outside when the bus finally arrived. We know every inch of this house and memories flooded in as we checked this corner and that. We paused for a photo and later I notice that dust motes danced in the camera's flash. Someone with false spiritual understanding might view this photo and assert there were ghosts in the room. I, on the other hand, can recognize dust motes when I see them and have no such ghostly delusions. There will be no call to the Ghostbusters today! (She said with a smile.)

My brothers, who are now a bit on the 'old man' side, avidly checked every corner of the tiny bedroom they shared. There had been two sets of bunk beds in that room and later on, Grandpa's old oak roll-top desk sat in one corner. The room was an add-on and my brothers searched the broken walls and sagging ceiling to find the almost non-existent insulation that the contractor had assured us was there. (The house was heated with a two-burner oil stove in the dining room and heat seldom reached this room.) They regaled each other with stories of how cold that room was during the winter and how cold the beds were. One laughed about how he had brought a friend home from school in the dead of winter...a friend whose home was warm...and how the friend, after watching Brother jump into his ice-cold bed said, "If you can do it, so can I". Brother laughed uproariously at his friend's freezing experience and probable lack of sleep.

We looked for "family artifacts"...remembrances of our childhood...little things that we could pick up and take home. I found one Lincoln log. My brother, the Navy vet, spotted the "Travel NAVY" sticker that he had applied to the faux wood paneling above his bunk bed nearly 50 years ago. (Click on the window photo for a closer view.) He had joined the Navy fresh out of high school during the midst of the Vietnam conflict, serving on the USS Kearsarge off the coast of Vietnam. He's proud of his Navy days.

I'm proud of him and of all my siblings. And I love the members of our next generation, my daughter, my nieces and nephews. They are precious to me and I thank God for all of them.

Freedom Still Calls Pilgrims to Our Shores

Editorialist Melanie Kirkpatrick writes today about some modern "pilgrims". These "pilgrims" are students at Newcomers High School in Queens. The school boasts 850 students from 60 countries who speak 40 different languages.

The students report that they or their parents came '"seeking better lives" or "to make a better life for her children" or "pursuiting the happiness" (his spelling/grammar).

To quote from Kirkpatrick's article:
"Newcomers High School also has students who, like the Pilgrims, came to the U.S. seeking freedom of worship. A boy who says he's from Tibet notes that his family "couldn't practice the religion of the Dalai Lama" in China. An Indonesian girl, who is Christian, tells of being persecuted by Muslims in her neighborhood and fearing for her safety. An Egyptian, also a Christian, says she feared being kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam. "We wanted to close all the bad pages of memory . . . and start a new page."

Many of the students mentioned in the editorial are celebrating Thanksgiving for only the first or second time. They're newcomers to America's shores. Kirkpatrick concludes by stating that these students, so new to freedom, understand well the struggles of those who first celebrated Thanksgiving. And they, too, give thanks.

Let us not forget Freedom. And let us always give thanks.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Thanksgiving Day, 2008
If we "give thanks", then we give it to Someone. I know that God is sovereign (he rules) over all things. And even though the world is full of things that we do not understand, I do know this...thanks is to be given to our Creator, the one who knit us together in our mother's wombs, the one who numbers the days of our lives (Psalm 139). Whether we be going through good days or bad, God holds us securely in His hands and we can gratefully acknowledge His graciousness to us.

Psalm 8:3-9

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!
You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field,
The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth! (NASB)

Now it is time to greet the day and be ready for famished family.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Printer Ink, Lesson Plans, Sourdough Bread and Thanksgiving

Two days before Thanksgiving! Oh, man, my brain is awhirl. I've pulled out some favorite recipes and am already at work baking bread using the sourdough starter (you can read more about sourdough here!) I'm having great fun playing with making sourdough bread and rolls and I may even try pancakes...but not today.

Today I'm printing out Bible study lessons for my small group of women in a nearby facility. Since we are coming up towards Christmas their interest is piqued and after a short video tonight, we'll look at the Gospel of Luke where Gabriel presents himself to Zacharias, Mary, and Joseph. My printer is running low on black ink and so I've printed some pages in color. Normally I use the color cartridge for photos but, Alas! It's necessary today to use it for lessons.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, I'll begin cooking in earnest. The pies will be easy as I've already put together the dough for the crust. Sometimes I use the store crusts but frankly, they are yucky compared to mine. Our grandmothers used lard and some folks still do. Lard makes the very best, the very flakiest of crusts. But even though it is still available in stores, I've opted to use butter. Not Quite as flaky, but close.

My mind is awhirl. Tomorrow will be a day of cooking and baking and roasting. Thursday will be a day of family and friends.

I can hardly wait!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hand Quilting with a Wool Batt

I've been taking a Sabbatical of sorts from quilting. Somehow I hadn't done a lot of quilting for the past two years...too many other things in life along with lack of enthusiasm.

I've had a Hobbs wool batt in the closet for about ten years. (In the last ten years we've moved three times!) The first cold days in November I decided to get out that wool batt and use it on a twin-size shirt quilt. I've always machine-quilted my shirt quilts but somehow couldn't bring myself to remove the computer printer from atop the cabinet where my 'main quilting machine', a vintage 1950s Singer 15-91, is tucked away.

That is a strange sort of "lazy". Instead I'm hand-quilting this one. (I didn't say I had a good sense of reason!) I had heard that wool batts are very easy to needle and I must admit I believe that is true. For in spite of the high thread-count of all-cotton shirt fabrics, this hand quilting is going along very nicely. (Click on the photo for a closeup)

I thumbed through my quilt templates and decided, 'No, I don't want to do some tedious fancy quilting.' So instead, I'm using a salad plate, a bread plate and a cup to draw the circles (plus stitching again 1/4 inch from two of the circles. Nothing fancy, mind you, but I'm going to have a warm nap quilt when I am done. About July 2009 just when I need one.

Proverbs 31, Verse 22. (She quoted with a smile.)

P.S. You may think I'm crazy for quilting with cotton fabrics gleaned from slightly used men's shirt quilts. But I'm not the only one with this can read about Bonnie K. Hunter and her book, 'Scraps & Shirttails" here. Tell her I sent ya! AND! If you click here you can see my previous Shirt Quilt posts.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Take Time To Love Your Loved Ones

I recently spent time in the home of my daughter and grandson. We always like to do some project together. This visit my daughter and grandson put together a batch of dough for gingerbread cookies, and even though our decorating efforts are not 'professional' we had a great time together. (Check out his t-shirt!)

You can find a recipe here or here.

We made royal icing using powdered egg whites. The 'old' recipe used in the 'olden days' used raw egg white but it is generally recommended today not to do that due to the possibility of salmonella.

On the other hand, it would be a simple matter to make regular frosting from powdered sugar for your decorating process.

Go for it!

What Pitiable Fools We Would Be! But We Appeal to the Evidence!

Some might say (and do say) that Christians are fools. Paul said it himself...that if we are believing something that is not true, we are indeed Fools! Read what he says in First Corinthians, Chapter 15.

Verses 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.

In other words, if our faith is foolish faith, if this faith is with us only in this life, and if it produces nothing beyond this life, then we are indeed to be pitied. What fools we be!

But then read the words Paul spoke next...

Vs 20-26 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
For since by a man (Adam) came death, by a man (Jesus) also came the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming,
then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.
For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.
The last enemy that will be abolished is death.

You might think this is foolish ranting of a foolish, deluded man. Yet this 'foolish' man had many 'foolish' companions, all who saw and heard and witnessed. Go back to the first verses in the chapter...

1 Corinthians 15:3-8 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
and that (after His resurrection from the dead) He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve.
After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;
then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;
and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

I would love to sit in a courtroom where more than five hundred witnesses testify to the same evidence. The verdict would be overwhelming. Even in a case where only two or three witnesses testify to the same evidence a jury will conclude they are telling the truth. But Five Hundred! And the Twelve! It's Magnificent! It's Stupendous! And there is no foolishness in it. Thanks be to God.

My previous posts labeled Christianity can be found here!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Fluffy Stuff

I should warn you ahead of time that this is a Rant! And please be aware that I don't consider my opinion to be a necessary opinion of anyone else. <giggle>

My subject today is those Fluffy, Puffy, Poufy comforters that take the place of an old-fashioned bedspread. Comforters are supposed to be THE way to make the bedroom an attractive room in your house. One would think, by observing the bedding department in the local store, that a Real Bedroom has a bed piled high with a thick comforter, a matching afghan thrown casually across the foot of the bed, and a high stack of pillows suitable for a "Princess and the Pea" experience. (If you don't remember that bedtime story, click here to refresh your memory.)

Let's face it. This kind of a bed (comforter + afghans + pillows to high heaven) is really, really impractical. In order to get Into bed, one must remove twelve pillows and find an overnight place for them. (The little chair beside my bed will not hold twelve pillows.) During the middle of the night, One must constantly tug and pull in order to keep that Designer Comforter from sloughing off the foot of the bed. In the morning, the Maid of the House (that's generally me, but sometimes Hubby does an admirable job of filling in!) must smooth the sheets and any interleaved blankets, must tug the comforter back up to its proposed position, and then must gather twelve pillows from the chair (and the floor) and place them in a well-displayed, attractive way on the bed. The Result is that the bedroom again looks like the Bedding Department at JC Penney or Younkers or Macy's (they all look the same in spite of different brands).

Yesterday I grabbed that unappreciated comforter, folded it, tied it up, and consigned it to the stack of items for donation. Someone else will have a Department Store bedroom. Our bed will now feature an electric blanket, a couple other blankets, and a thin quilted bedspread. And the twelve decorative pillows? At our house there are actually only three (sometimes I exaggerate!) and they now enhance the guest bed.

By the way...if you have a Resident Cat, one which you pamper and love, please disregard all of the above. Resident Cats will love the poufy setup. I think there should be a Resident Cat lounging on every bed in the Store. Might sell more comforters!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Roy Rogers and Trigger Once Sold Three-Buckle Overshoes

This morning the opening webpage on the puter showed an ad for shoes from JCPenney... on sale PLUS free shipping both ways (in case they don't fit and they have to be returned). I clicked to see if they had my favorite walking shoes on sale. Nope.

However, the jog over to JCP jolted my memory and brought to mind the pair of three-buckle overshoes I wore in kindergarten. I'll tell you up front this was eons ago. Almost back in prehistoric times.

Shortly after World War II (I told you...Eons Ago!) we had just moved to an 80-acre farm in western Iowa. The land was hilly and partially tree-covered. There was a small pasture area. The cornfields were on steep slopes that drained down to a creek bottom. The house had neither electricity nor running water. (My Mom was Not Impressed with this move!)

Oh, man, this brings back memories. I could give you lots of details about this house. We left there when I was six and it amazes me how much I can remember about the two years we lived there. But the memory today was of the three-buckle overshoes that I wore to school in kindergarten.

My Boots were golden palomino colored. You know...the color of Roy Roger's horse, Trigger. Near the outside ankle each boot had a medallion-shaped picture of Roy astride Trigger.

I didn't even know who Roy Rogers was, let alone know anything about his horse, Trigger! We lived in a house with no electricity, remember? We had no television. Our radio ran on a battery and as such, it was reserved for farm news. Now and then we were allowed to listen to "Amos and Andy" or some other entertainment, but not often. I don't remember even having heard about Roy Rogers. The only movie I remember from that time was a black and white Dagwood and Blondie feature that was projected on the side of the grocery store in town one summer evening. I was clueless about cowboys and western movies.

But even though I did not know this famous cowboy, I thought these were rather cool boots. That is, until some kid spoiled that idea by commenting they were Boys' Boots. Then I felt a bit silly...Me, a Girl, wearing Boys' Boots. I had no idea I was wearing Boys' Boots. I just thought they were My Boots. I was slightly embarrassed. I relayed this bit of unhappy news to my mother who didn't acknowledge the veracity of this and told me these were my Only Boots, So Wear Them!

As I said, I was kinda embarrassed. Still...the Only Boots were kinda cool. And if I had them today they would surely be a museum piece for I'll bet that every pair in existence at the time has long since rotted away.

By the way, buckle overshoes are very efficient...they open wide to allow the pantlegs to be tucked and folded around the leg and then secured by a simple slap of the buckles. A flap under the buckle protects from water and mud and every other kind of muck. Buckle overshoes are perfect for boys who love to stomp in the mud. Every farmer knows that.

And so did Roy Rogers. read it here!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

One American Soldier Among So Many - Veterans Day 2008

Armistice Day is probably more strongly recognized in Europe..., more notably than here in the United States. World War I was fought on their soil, not ours, so it would be reasonable that their memory may run deeper than our own. But let's not forget that ten million Americans fought in WWI and approximately 112,000 died. Those Americans were our grandparents, our fathers, our uncles, our cousins. William Kuckku was one of those. (William was the only son of Marie who immigrated from Germany with her mother and siblings. Her father had died in an accident on the job in Germany prior to the family moving to Nebraska.)

William Henry Kuckku was born in Wisner, Nebraska, but later moved to Idaho. On June 5, 1917, in Emmett, Gem County, Idaho, William filled out a draft card. Less than a year later he died on the battlefields of France. The draft card lists him as single although he must have married shortly after for a widow is mentioned in his obituary. The following was written by a family member.

"William H. Kuckku left Emmett, Idaho, on October 18, 1917 for Camp Lewis with seven other registrants. He was in camp only four weeks when he left for overseas. William was killed in action at the battle of Cantigny May 28, 1918. The last letter his wife received from him was dated May 20. He wrote they were under shell fire. He was buried June 10, 1918 in the Commune of Grivenes (sp?), Department of the Somme, grave marked by a cross and one identification tag, the other being buried with the body."

William had no children. His sister, Alma, requested his body be returned to the small town in Nebraska where he was born. He was buried beside his parents. Our family placed a memorial brick with his name on it at the American Legion in Wakefield, Nebraska, where Alma lived at the time. William's photo is on the wall at the American Legion in Emmet, Idaho, along with photos of other Emmet residents who served in the Great War.

We remember William.

On this Veterans Day 2008 we also think of other family members who have and are still serving in the military. May God keep you all safe and in His hand.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Winter Begins

It's 23 degrees on the thermometer as I get out of bed this morning. That seems unseasonably cold for early November. Six months ago spring was beginning. Now we're headed for short days, cold nights, frost, snow, more cold. The thought squeezes the heart and I have to tell myself to "have courage". Each day brings what it brings. Cold and snow are the least of things to worry about. And so I get up and start the day. With a clean washcloth I wipe the condensation from the windows; the inside air is still humid enough that it condenses on the cold panes at night when the thermostat is turned down. Even though the windows are double-pane, they are decades old, and new ones would be better insulated. Still, they serve their function and I don't mind wiping the moisture away in an effort to protect the wood frame from water that might drip downward. It's a small defensive action against winter and as the inside air dries out it will no longer be necessary except on the coldest of nights when the condensation will then be frost instead of water. I thank God for an energy-efficient furnace and a comfortable home. And I think of my grandmother.

It's late 1898 in Lee Township, Midland County, Michigan. Elise Susanne crawls out from under heavy quilts to stir the fire which has ebbed to glowing embers during the night. Her husband has already left the small cabin to tend to livestock. The children, three boys, are still in bed, snuggled together for warmth. As she rises from the low bed her first thought is a sorrowful one; last year's baby did not live. Her hand caresses the wood trunk wherein lie little shirts and cloths. She doesn't know two more babies are already growing in her womb. Nor does she know that one, the girl-child, will die within 30 days of birth nor that the boy-child, who will be the scrawnier and weaker of the two, will live to raise his own family of six. She focuses on caring for the ones who are snuggled nearby. One of them, the youngest, whimpers in his sleep and she glances over at her sons. August at seven is stubborn and strong-willed, much like his father. Heinrich, a year younger, was named after her father. He has a quiet temperament, much like herself. Carl, not yet four, trails his brothers everywhere they go, fussing and crying when he can't keep up with them. The cabin is small and the heat of the replenished fire will soon make it cozy. There are many chores to do today. Elise must finish her spinning. Her knitting has already produced warm sweaters for the two oldest. The youngest will have to wear the one handed down from Heinrich. Her husband, too, needs new socks. She breathes a prayer for God's blessings on her small family and begins her day.

© 2008 Whitestone Under no terms are you allowed to copy this material without my permission. Please observe this copyright.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The BEST Pancakes in the World!

When my grandchildren stay overnight we often have pancakes the next morning. Pancakes made from scratch. Pancakes made from whole grain. Pancakes made from KAMUT! And I tell them (just in case they don't notice) that "Nobody makes better pancakes than Gramma!" (Somebody has to keep reminding them!) You can find my recipe for Kamut Pancakes here.

I'm posting my Secret here for all the world to see. It's the Kamut! Here's an excerpt from this website!...Kamut "is an ancient relative of modern durum wheat, two to three times the size of common wheat with 20–40% more protein, higher in lipids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, and a "sweet" alternative for all products that now use common wheat. Nutritionally superior, it can be substituted for common wheat with great success. Kamut brand wheat has a rich, buttery flavor, and is easily digested."

Look at this photo! The hard red winter wheat is on the left and the Kamut on the right. Look at the difference in size of grain as well as color. (Remember, you can click on the photo for a closer view.)

Kamut grain and the resulting flour have a more golden hue and a flavor that is sweet and nutty. Kamut Pancakes! Ummmm! The Best! And now you, too, can make the "best pancakes in the world". And don't forget to show those grandbabies how good pancakes can be when topped with applesauce or peaches or fruit of any kind. (HINT - To make breakfast a bit easier I like to make my own 'Pancake Mixes'...simply toss all the dry ingredients for a single recipe into a baggie and toss it in the freezer. When it's time to make breakfast, just stir up the liquids, add the baggie contents, and you're ready to go.)

You can google 'Kamut' to find sources online. Or if you are a member of a food co-op, check their catalog for either the whole grain or for Kamut flour.

P.S. Kamut makes great whole-grain bread, too!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

He Knows How to Endear Himself

My Beloved has a number of habits that endear him to me.

One of the cleverest is that he talks to himself. I know that he knows that I hear every word of his one-sided conversations.

I was reclining on the sofa, reading the paper, when I heard him go down the hallway, muttering these words to himself/me in a lilting sing-song voice...

"It's all Her problem!! Not mine!! She's the one who has to put up with me the rest of my life. I don't know how she does it, but that's Her problem!!"

(And now I need one of those little yellow smiley faces that substitutes for a Giggle!)

Multiple Choice for the Absent Minded

Here are multiple suggestions for those of you who might now and then store things in the oven.

A. Never be so foolish as to store anything in the oven that you do not want to accidentally heat to 350 or more.
B. If you occasionally store things in the oven, Be Sure to check the oven before turning it on.
C. Always store things in the oven. That way you will always remember to check before heating.
D. All of the above.

Ummmm, I think I ruined one of my oven racks. I was using the warmth of the oven light to dry a thin layer of sourdough starter on my very, very favorite plastic type cutting board. I Never store things in the oven for I generally have plenty of cupboard space. This means that on those rare occasions when I do have something in the oven, I fail to check before heating. Aaaarrghhhh! The cutting board is slightly melted down over the oven rack. Right now it is cooling in the back yard. Maybe, just maybe, when cool, the warped and ruined cutting board will "pop" right off the steel rack. Maybe. But I'm not holding my breath.

And the sourdough starter that I was drying? Deader than a doornail. Fortunately, I have other starter in the fridge.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Do You Remember Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade?

While most people know her as "Jane Roe", her real name is Norma McCorvey. This woman who once stood for abortion and whose case was decided in 1973 by the Supreme Court (Roe v. Wade) now asks voters to vote for Life. How can that be, you ask? You can read about her here.

Of course, the pro-abortion people don't want you to know the story behind Jane Roe. They don't want you to know that the woman who was the "Roe" of the Roe v. Wade decision is now adamantly opposed to abortion and is an active proponent of the Pro-Life movement.

As Paul Harvey might say, That's the Rest of the Story. Jane Roe of Roe V. Wade is a new woman.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Horrified by the Horrible!!

Erik Raymond at the Irish Calvinist lays out Real Horror in his blog earlier this month wherein he defines the Plague and the Comfort (click here to read). You can go to his main blog page here.