Saturday, February 27, 2010

Even a Child Can Recognize Injustice

Even a child can recognize injustice when the supposed "justice" consists of whippings followed by whippings followed by whippings over a several-hour period. And sometimes a child, recognizing the injustice, will resist to the point of death. I don't know if this is what Lydia Schatz did...resisted because she recognized injustice. I don't know that.

Sometimes a child, when being confronted with whipping after whipping, is unable to comply with the parents' this case the pronunciation of a reading word.

In either case, Lydia's non-compliance was considered as rebellion to the parental authority. Lydia either would not or could not comply. And the whippings continued. Parental authority demanded it.

And perhaps this betrayal of parental love simply shows the true nature of the hearts of Kevin and Elizabeth. Hearts that were hardened to recognizing what true love God, love one another.

Whippings carried out over a period of hours to the point of a child's death do not translate to "love". Not in my world, anyway.

Lydia Schatz, Dead.
Zariah Schatz, several days in critical care.
A biological son with marks of whipping.
Six other children in the home, one of the older of whom was being taught by her parents to administer switchings/discipline.

The beatings that caused Lydia's kidneys to shut down (destruction of tissue underlying the skin) were being administered in a manner prescribed and taught by Michael Pearl and Debi Pearl, self-proclaimed authorities in "parenting" under their No Greater Joy Ministry. Sadly, many Christians follow the Pearl's child-rearing methods because they are "Christians". I wonder how many would be looking at their methods in a different light if they were under the guise of Atheism or some cult or some secular authority. Does the label of "Christian" absolve them of accountability for presenting methods that can be mis-used so frighteningly?

Disclaimer: The Pearls do not out-and-out recommend whipping to death...they do, however, advocate not ceasing until the child submits to a state of utter submission. There are many who say their children have been easily taught obedience with a light tap on the leg or single switching. But we all know there are children, who if disciplined in this manner, will rebel totally. At the least those children will leave home at the earliest possibility and never look back at their "loving" parents. At the worst, those children will suffer mightily under this "rod of instruction". Either way, there will be no glory to God in all of it. God forbid that we treat our children in this manner.

I expect there to be more about this in days ahead. But when? So far I see no national news media coverage. I do see local news. And there are many blogs speaking to this. But where are the national network news people?

If you've already heard about this case (my previous posts) you needn't read all the following. I'm linking them here to verify what I have written. Now...go hug your kids.

Paradise Post, Paradise, CA Feb 26, 2010 Questions About Ministry Grow
Chico Enterprise Record, Chico, CA Feb 26, 2010 Plea Delayed in Fatal Beating
Chico Enterprise Record, Feb 25, 2010 Beating Draws National Attention (where?)
Oroville Mercury Register, Oroville, CA Feb 25, 2010 Plea Entry Delayed
Oroville Mercury Register, Feb 19, 2010 Schatz Girl Released from Hospital
Chico Enterprise Record, Feb 12, 2010 Paradise Parents Face Murder Torture Charges
Oroville Mercury Register, Feb 10, 2010 Paradise Parents Face Murder Torture Charges
Paradise Post, Feb 09, Neighbors Surprised By Murder Case

The following blogs comment a bit more indepth on this tragedy as well as take apart some of the teachings of the Pearls.
Elizabeth Esther
Beauty for Ashes

"He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."
Micah 6:8


You've Got Mail! In a Box! Full of Good Things!

It's 4:56 am and I'm lying awake. I suppose know its the steroids they gave me with my chemo infusion yesterday. They trick you, ya know. They gave me benadryl, too, which as everyone knows, puts you to sleep for the duration of the infusion. Even when you would rather be reading or knitting. The last hour and a half was spent with my head rolled to one side, saliva drooling from the corner of my mouth, and my knitting lying quietly neglected in my lap. (I'm kidding about the saliva...I don't drool...ever...never!)

At home I took another hour's nap and then the benadryl was done. But the steroids! They're still working! For another two days. Trust me. The house will be clean. I'll have baked, cooked, scrubbed, mopped, painted. And I'll have used 60,000 words per day instead of my usual 20,000. Steroids do that to me. On Monday I will crash on the sofa and by Tuesday I'll be my usual lazy self.

But here it is, 4:56 am. I tried lying on the sofa, thinking my body might think "NAP!" But that didn't work. So here I am.

As I lay in bed, checking the clock, I got to thinking about things. Specifically I got to thinking about prayers from a small church in Pennsylvania (900 miles to the east). My friend, a breast cancer patient, had put me on the prayer list at her church. (Yayyy, send prayers! I am grateful for any and all prayers!) There are ladies in that church who minister through knitting/crocheting. They make shawls. While they are making shawls, they pray for the one to receive the shawl. That's a lot of prayer-time, folks! You don't crochet a shawl in ten minutes time!

In the box that arrived in the mail a couple weeks back were a gorgeous shawl to warm my shoulders (it looks great over a red turtleneck sweater!), a couple mugs for Valentine's Day (definitely already filled with love), and a church bulletin. Why a church bulletin, you ask? You see, the Sunday before she mailed the package they prayed for me in church. And that day, the Scripture reference for the day just happened to be Rev. Ch 2:12-17. Why do I mention that, you ask?

The answer is that my friend knew from my blog why I chose WhiteStone as my blog name. I chose it from Rev. 2:17. You can read that here. My friend was surprised as could be to see that the Scripture reference for the day included my special verse. She sent the bulletin so I could see the coincidence. Except she didn't consider it coincidence. Neither do I.

Every time I wear that shawl I think of my friends in Pennsylvania. And I'm reminded , as their note mentions, of God's great love for us.

One of the things that cancer has taught me is to pray better for others. Life is tough! We're commanded to pray for one another, to lift each other up! It humbles and quiets your soul to pray for others and to know you have friends praying for you!

Today's scripture? James 5:16. And a second, Jude 2. (run your cursor over the scripture to read)

I think I'll go back to bed. There are still a couple hours till daylight.
P.S. This series of chemo is kind. I have no residual side-effects other than an exceptionally clean house two days out of seven.
P.P.S. You can read more about prayer shawl ministry here .

Bless you, My Friends.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

From the Pen of the Chemo Curl Gurl

Those of us in the cancer world are well aware that chemo (depending on the drugs used) causes complete loss of hair. I spent much of last summer wearing scarves and caps to cover my bald pate. The first week of September (some two months after the last chemo session) I began sporting fine, fuzzy, puppy fur. By Thanksgiving I could claim "real hair".

Now, five months later, I'm sporting the curliest 'do I've ever worn. Not even the Tonette perms of my childhood can compare to this. This is Real Chemo Curl!

Funny thing...a month ago I had a hairdresser in the mall give me a quick shave of the neckline and a slight trim of the sideburns. She commented, "You have a lovely perm!"

And funny thing...this past week a friend, whom I had not seen in considerable time, commented on how nice my hair looked. I could tell by the way she spoke that she thought I was wearing a wig. She was surprised when I informed her, "Yep, Chemo Curl!"

And funny thing! My sideburns are as straight as can be.

For those of you nearing the end of your chemo treatment...There are Curls At the End of the Tunnel! Just thought I'd give you a curly heads-up!

Today's message is brought to you by the Chemo Curl Gurl.

(she said with a smile)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

During Which I Switch Topics: At Least for Now

You know what! It's difficult to follow such disturbing posts as those I wrote on Sunday and Tuesday. It's difficult to go from writing about the death of 7-year-old Lydia Schatz at the hands of her parents and then, the next day, to move on to other topics.

It's not that I have already, in a few days time, forgotten Lydia Schatz. Nor am I soon to forget how she died even though her death has not yet hit national news (Where are you, Oh, Great News People!) I'm certain it will. And if it doesnt? Well, then, maybe I'll be blogging again as the parents move through the justice system. According to the Oroville news (click here) they currently reside in the Butte County Jail, Oroville, California, on bail placed at $2 million dollars. God help us all as we see the depth of man's inhumanity to man. God help us to recoil at the horror of sin.

Now...I must switch topics. Bear with me.

What's happening at our house today? We're doing some minor finishing touches on our "new" bathroom. Roger the Handyman will be here to put in place a panel that will "disguise" the opening to the plumbing at the end of the tub. He also needs to place a strip on the floor where the vinyl meets the hallway carpet.

As soon as Roger the Handyman is out of the house and down the road, I'll be grabbing a paint brush. If my Mom reads this, I can hear her say, "I thought you painted it already!" Yes, we did. A lovely creamy white. But after living with it a couple weeks we've decided we prefer a bit of color. Not a lot. A sandy, tan color. It's still "quiet" but a muted quiet, so to speak.

Gotta run. Coffee awaits.

Don't forget Lydia.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Harris (Correctly) Calls "Popular, Pervasive, Controversial"

It's in my head...this story...this story about Lydia Schatz...who died earlier this month at the hands of parents who were using a parenting style taught by Michael and Debi Pearl. I can't get it out of my head.

The methods espoused (nationally distributed by the Pearls) are, as Lynn Harris of Salon calls them, "popular, pervasive and controversial". I want you to focus on the word "controversial". I want you to know that their methods need to be held up to the light of day, by ordinary people, by people who know with the first reading that there is "something not quite right" about their method of child training.

Thanks to the child training methods of the Pearls, Lydia Schatz is dead. Seven years old. For mispronouncing a reading word. According to local news media Lydia was held down by her mother and "whipped" by her father. Not just once. Not just 10 swats with the 1/4 plastic plumbing line. No! Lydia was whipped multiple times over a several hour period. Tortured. The "mild" effect of that supposedly ideal whipping instrument (as espoused by the Pearls) was over the top. The tissues in Lydia's body, the tissues under the skin, were damaged so severely that her organs shut down. Lydia died that night.

Admittedly, the Pearls do not advocate whipping "to death". But they do advocate whipping to compliance, to submission, to whimpering. Beginning with 10 swats and continuing until that compliance, submission, whimpering appears.

Kevin Schatz and his wife, Elizabeth Schatz, are currently being held in the Butte County Jail in Oroville, California. According to the local news they face homicide charges in the death of their adopted daughter, Lydia, and face other charges in regards to injuries to another daughter, Zariah, and injuries to a son.

Again, read this article by Lynn Harris at Salon.

Also, read a post by Paul Mathers here.

Read Laurie Mathers here.

And see what TulipGirl has written here.


Monday, February 22, 2010

A Day In The Life of the Meter Man

Last week we were sitting at the kitchen table, looking out over our deck, when the meter man came walking across the drift from the neighbor's backyard to ours. Our backyard is heavily drifted as well, so I watched to see how he would find his way to the meter which sits next to the house to the right of the deck.
The fellow plodded along, found the high edge of the drift and simply followed it.

The snow is well over four feet deep here...the packed snow held him up nicely.
The drive in front of the garage is clean, so he wandered to the low end of the drift where he could access the drive.And from there it was a clean walk to the meter near the foundation of the house.

I'm betting he got his workout that day. Fortunately for him, it was a beautiful sunny day with no wind. Nice day for a walk.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Abhorrence Hits Me On This!

I find it exceedingly strange that this has not yet hit national news. The only news links I find are located in the area of the crime, in the town of (can you believe it?) Paradise, Butte County, California. And yet this murder is already two weeks old. Murder of a 7-year-old girl. Currently in jail are her parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz.

On February 6, 2010, 7-year-old Lydia Schatz was (dare I say "apparently?") beaten to death, several times beaten, multiple beatings, which beatings apparently extended over a several-hour span. The muscle tissue underlying the skin was so damaged that her body organs shut down and she died. Her mother called 911 about 1:00 o'clock in the morning to report that her daughter was not breathing.

Lydia's 11-year old sister was hospitalized in critical condition for similar bruising. The other eight of the nine children in the family (six biological children, three adopted) have indicated that the type of beating Lydia received was "normal" punishment in the household. One news article maintains that an older daughter in the family was being taught to administer punishment in this "appropriate" manner.

And why was Lydia beaten? Because she failed (or couldn't) pronounce a particular word from the book she was reading. The parents, Kevin Schatz and his wife, Elizabeth, purportedly were following teachings of Michael and Debi Pearl, founders of No Greater Joy Ministries and authors of the controversial religious parenting book "How to Train Up a Child."

You can read more about this horrifying event and the purported use by Lydia's parents of the ministry espoused by Michael and Debi Pearl by going to TulipGirl's series of posts here and by reading Laurie's "Beauty for Ashes blog" here. Be prepared to be horrified, stunned, dropped to your knees.

The methods espoused by the Pearls may be familiar in some home schooling circles but is considered controversial and refuted by many Christian parents as being unChristlike and unloving as well as abusive and destructive.

Please be in prayer for these children. And go hug your own.

Added later...some more links.
Paul Mathers at Paulus Torchus
Lynn Harris at
Rebecca Diamond at her blog here


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Lessons Learned and How I Love Them

Albert Mohler had a post three years ago that I read for the first time this week.

He talked about his experience with a devastatingly quick life-threatening which sent him to the hospital, to surgery, and then to intensive care. He mentions lessons he learned and you can read them here as written in January 2007.

I'm grateful that I read his list for it coincides with some lessons I've learned through this past year's journey with ovarian cancer.

With Mohler I can claim that I have been assured of God's sovereignty and love...that God is in control here, and I am not...that God knows my days from before any of them came to be. (Psalm 139:16). That has given me great contentment in the midst of living with cancer even with this year of recurrence and further chemo which I hope, due to the type, will be more kind to my body this time round.

Mohler states that his medical situation was not a freak thing, but that it was something that God intended as good for him. If you are not a believer in a sovereign, just, and loving God you may find this difficult to swallow. But I believe that cancer is part of my life's journey and I will learn lessons from it that are to my eternal (and present) good.

Mohler mentions the sweetness of Christ and the assurance of His faithfulness and he sites Romans 8. There are verses (Romans 8:28-39) that have been key assuring verses to me...that nothing in this life can separate me from the love of God...nothing. Cancer cannot do that. And I am grateful knowing that.

We really are, as Mohler mentions, made of dust. We are creatures subject to the law of death (Thanks, Mr. Adam!) and our lives show it every day. We live carefully, wisely, hoping to avoid the catastrophic happenstances that we read about every day in the news. We stop at stop signs because we know they are intended to prevent our frail bodies from colliding with something heavy-duty that can crush us even behind our seat bags. We eat healthy. We take our vitamins. We get good rest. We do all the things we can (if we are wise) to take care of our physical lives. Yet when all is said and done, we all live, and then we all die, and we die usually sooner or more unexpectedly than we might have thought. At least with cancer I have a heads-up, a "pay attention to what is important" message sent straight from above. I hope I have been doing that...paying attention....and I hope my family recognizes that I am A-Okay. I will be just fine. No matter what. No matter when. I want them to know, too, that they are frail, and it is wise to put their faith in God in the "here and now" so that "when and then", they will be okay, too.

My family has blessed me though all of this past year, gathered round me, loved me, prayed for me. Thanks, Family! I hope you know how precious all of you are to me. I don't express it well...I'm a failure at times...but you are precious.

My church family and community members have done the same...I have come to recognize more deeply how good it is to receive a simple "get well" card or a friendly "I'm praying for you." Thanks, Friends. I've become a better friend because of you. God has caused me to pray better for others because of your prayers for me.

Today's cancer patients (and all other patients) have the blessing of modern medicine. Our grandparents and the generations before them did not have that mercy. I am grateful to live in this time.

This past year has been a learning process for me...a prayerful learning process. My tears were (mostly) limited to those nights when I lay in bed, wondering if this symptom or that symptom was sign of something newly ominous, wondering what was coming down the road. But God has blessed me through those tears. And He has chosen to give me current good health and well-being in spite of the cancer. Who knows what lies ahead? I do not. But I am content to leave it in God's hands. And I hope that those of you who love me will be able to join me in doing the same..


Friday, February 19, 2010

Upon What Was Presented Yesterday in San Diego by Dr. Velculescu

There is a lot of hype out there when it comes to "new treatment" in the world of cancer. Some of it is just that...Hype. But some of it is real "hope" for cancer patients.

Today's news (here) mentions a procedure that uses "genetic technology to identify DNA fingerprints of tumour cells and to detect these in the blood." According to the article a blood DNA test "that can detect whether a tumour has returned or is responding to therapy has been developed by American scientists".

Dr Velculescu presented his research yesterday (February 18, 2010) in San Diego. According to Velculescu the test will not help with initial diagnosis because it requires a biopsy of a patient's tumour. The DNA of the tumour can be sequenced and compared with that of the patient's healthy (blood) cells to determine if there are genetic defects in the cancer cells that are not present in the patient's healthy cells. This DNA defect can then serve as a biomarker for the patient in terms of whether or not there is tumor progression.

Here's how it works. The test, known as PARE or personalised analysis of rearranged ends, is performed via a biopsy of the patient's tumor cells. The DNA of the tumor can be sequenced and compared to the patient's healthy cells. If there are genetic defects within the tumor that are not present in the healthy cells, the damaged DNA can be used as biomarkers to determine whether or not a tumor is recurring or if there are minute areas still present.

The good news about this is that the test will (hopefully) enable medical professionals to determine whether or not treatment will be beneficial to the patient.

According to that news article the test may be available in less than five years. That's promising. That's hope. And I hope the article is not hype.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Something nudged my memory today of a voice I haven't heard in a long time...of a 1980s Chrysler we owned some many years ago. It talked to us, that car did. And when the car headed down the road to another owner I almost wished we could have kept its voice... just for the laughs it gave us.

Computerized, it was. A very polite computerly male voice reminded us every time we started the car to "Please fasten your seat belts." I know he was polite because once the belt was fastened Mr. Puter would respond with a gentlemanly "Thank you." To which we, naturally (or unnaturally), would respond, "You're welcome." Until the 4 millionth time, that is. By then our natural politeness had reached its limit and we were more likely to respond with "Oh, Shut UP!"

I want to add that we never said those words in polite, it was too impolite to say "shut up". If we wanted someone to be silent we would admonish them with "Be quiet." Sometimes even "Please, be quiet". But Mr. Puter had pushed us far enough and "Oh, Shut Up!" would fall hissingly through our lips.

Our small grandchildren loved riding in our talking car even though they did not quite understand "Your door is ajar!" They knew "door" and they knew "jar" and did not see how the two could coincide. To their way of thinking they were hearing "Your door is a jar." And even though Mr. Puter was a puter, it just didn't pute. (Is that a word?)

One helpful message I heard only once..."Your oil pressure is low." I stopped and checked the dipstick and Mr. Puter was right! We'd recently had the oil changed and the only thing we can figure is that the attendant failed to put in sufficient oil. Nasty surprise, that!

There were numerous other messages such as "Your fuel is low." And I'm certain there were phrases we never heard...just because the situation never arose for Mr. Puter's much-needed advice. I'm betting he could have, and would have, said such helpful words as "Someone has slashed your tires" or "Picking up hitchhikers can be dangerous" or "Watch out for the deer." Useful things to know under the circumstances.

I wish we had kept Mr. Puter's voice. We could have installed him in our current vehicle and today he would have said, "Watch out for ice. You are in Iowa and it is February."

To which I would have responded, "Oh, Shut up!"

(I must add as small disclaimer: today we have partly cloudy skies and the only ice remaining on the roads is on our side-streets. The main highways and byways are clear and dry.)


Monday, February 15, 2010

Upon Which I Ignore Winter This Day!

Today I ignore Winter. Today I treat myself to looking back at our recent visit to family on Maui. Their home is small so when we visit, we usually rent a place of our own.

This time we stayed at Mama's Fish House Restaurant and Inn. We're not into snorkeling, or playing golf, or surfing or windsailing. We're not the typical tourist. We just want a quiet, lovely place close to our son's home. Mama's, situated on the north shore of Maui, seemed the perfect spot. (One can still venture forth to other parts of the Island, and if you plan to take the road to Hana, it's a great starting point.)

We reserved a studio unit at Mama's. It would be just just the right size for us (and for our budget). And we could entertain our family there as well. Restaurant. Lovely grounds. Mini-swimming beach for the girls.

Mama's has been owned by Floyd and Doris Christenson for 30-some years. Their story is fascinating and I'll leave that to you to google around for more about them. If I go into their story, this post will be much too long.

Imagine our surprise when, as we were checking in, we were told that we were upgraded...from a Studio to a lovely 2nd story unit with spacious balcony overlooking the small beach area. We were astounded! It was lovely! We felt so pampered! (I took numerous photos of that unit but lost them during a problem with our laptop. Ugh.) Here is the view from our balcony! I can feel the warm Maui air right here! (I'm certain our daughter-in-law had something to do with the pampering accorded to us...she has worked for the Christenson's for years and is the one who first introduced us to Mama's. But the rest of the staff were sweet as well, and lovely...everyone there works with a welcoming smile and "Aloha!" in their voice. Thank you, All!)

I must say I felt a bit of an imposter that first night. At the Restaurant I was greeted with a lei and a kiss on the cheek from the head waiter...if someone else received that royal treatment, I did not see it happen! There I was, wearing my $4 Lands End knit shirt purchased at our local hospital auxiliary consignment shop. It was a "like-new" shirt so I suppose it looked just as nice as if I had purchased it direct from the catalog. Who would know the difference except that I am blabbing it all to you here! I confess I'm a simple person. A farm girl from Iowa growing up with four brothers. Plain and simple, that's me. Call me "Sarah, Plain and Tall", except that I am not tall nor is my name Sarah.

I was also wearing khaki pants...they weren't new. They're old. But I like their comfort; so I keep wearing them. Someday they will get holes in them and then I will stop wearing them. But there I was, wearing my old khakis and a thrift-shop shirt. And enjoying the sweet luxury of the evening, being blessed by those around me, including my Hubby.

As for dinner at Mama's? Look at this dish! Prawns, Maui pork, yummy veggies, tasty rice on the side. No seafood is fresher than Mama's. They purchase from local fisherman daily. The catch-of-the-day is truly of that day! Sweet. Delicious!

Our two granddaughters enjoyed joining us and swimming in the little cove. They swim like two little fish! When they weren't swimming they were searching the sand diligently for shells and bits of coral.When they weren't doing that they were wandering the grounds, enjoying often a tiny pond behind our unit.
I love this view of Mama's Restaurant from the beach area. Visitors love wandering, having their photos taken in the canoe, enjoying the loveliniess of all that is Hawaii.
I was able to take a quick snapshot of the kitchen...sorry, I would have loved to show you pics of the steaming pots of stock, the fresh fish on ice, the lovely preparations! Alas, I was not able to hover with a camera!
Mama's has a small garden of herbs on the grounds. Here rosemary is being plucked for the evening's menu.

The last two nights of our stay we were to be moved back to a studio because our luxurious unit had already been reserved for those two evenings. We had so enjoyed our stay there and we were quite willing to be sent packing (The staff at Mama's would never use that term!) back to our originally intended lodging. So we were expecting something a little more simple. Boy, were we surprised! The unit was brand-new! And delightful! And lovely! And what else can I say?

The main area was...well, just look at the photo! Paradise! The other half of this spacious room included plenty of seating area, coffee table, etc. Plenty of room for easy relaxation.

The bath area was a complete surprise! Look at this tub surround! Bet you never saw one as lovely as this glass enclosed whirlpool tub! The front edge of the surround has a "rainbow" of glass mini-tiles. Makes me want to put some on my bathroom wall at home.
Here is a self-portrait over my bathroom sink. Hubby had his own sink area just to the left.

Outside our back door was this spacious private patio!
Leading up to our front door was a volcanic rock wall. The builder had included this wine bottle art. It was so cool.

I could show you dozens more photos but I think you get the picture! Mama's is a most gracious and lovely place...whether you want to spend a couple weeks or whether you're wanting a quiet, secluded Honeymoon weekend. Or simply for an evening's dining experience! Thanks, Mama's! We had a wonderful time.

This last photo is taken from my window seat as we were coming into Omaha for a landing. Rude awakening, that!


Vancouver! Come On Down!

We could have gone in two different directions yesterday. A birthday party for a great-grandson 65 miles south of us. Or to another appointment 35 miles north of us. Both meant driving on Interstate-29. The weather report seemed a bit iffy so we decided to stay home and go to neither. It wasn't snowing all that hard. In fact the forecast only mentioned a bit of snow and some "windy conditions". They were right about the kicked up,gusting to 44 mph, and it was fierce. And cold. Drifting was inevitable. Here in town it wasn't so bad but out on the highway it created white-out conditions.

After multiple accidents they closed the Interstate, beginning north of us and eventually closing a stretch some sixty miles long. Travelers were stranded overnight at local schools. You can read about it here.

We had friends who headed to the City earlier in the day...they spent 2 hours trying to get off the Interstate onto a two-lane highway where the Highway Patrol was re-routing traffic. They made it home safe. Other friends were traveling home from Des Moines.

This winter has brought us an accumulated 57 inches of snow to date. The Sioux City Journal actually reports 57.8, but who's keeping such close tabs as all that. What's another .8 inch?

When I look out the window, up and down the street, it appears that everyone else is doing as we. We've given up on keeping the sidewalks scooped trim. The front steps are piled with snow and visitors come in through the garage door. We are glad we can still get our car out of the garage.

Seeing this much snow on the ground with deep drifts and more blowing wind, I think of those pioneer families and homesteaders, hunkering down in tiny sod houses or not-much-larger log cabins. Or the Native Americans, surviving in their homes constructed of buffalo hide. Winter must have been times of awful fear. At least they didn't have to get up each morning and drive 30 miles to work as some of our friends do.

As I type, Hubby reports to me that another big storm is on its way.

The Olympics should come on down to the States. We've got the snow.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

That Genetic Connection

My Uncle Jake was Mom's favorite brother and it broke her heart when, first, he was wounded (and paralyzed) in Korea, and then died an early death at age 42 as a late consequence of that paralysis.

Last Thursday we were pleased to have Uncle Jake's grandson, wife and great-grandson visit our home on their jaunt from Colorado to home in New York. We had a lovely evening together. And we took many photographs. I especially like this photo of my Mom holding her favorite brother's great-grandson on her lap.

When I took the photo I imagined my Uncle Jake looking on and smiling at his Sis and his Great-Grandson.

Family is important. We express our love first of all to God, then to family. For in our family, we see a bit of ourselves. We see the flaws and the graces handed down genetically and environmentally. I recognize, more than ever, why my personality is as it is...a blend of other personalities in previous generations with traits that hinder or bless. But the flaws in my own personality help me understand others better...both in my family and outside. What seems to be a negative has become a positive in my dealing with and understanding other people. Especially my grandkids!

I am appreciative of the fact that my parents and grandparents and perhaps great grandparents were Godly believers who lived lives of faith in Christ. I wonder, sometimes, if they prayed for my soul as I pray for my children and their children, and even the next generation that is not yet born. I like to think that they did.

You can read more about Uncle Jake here and here...just light bits of insight into his life. And you can read about his grandson Matthew Day Jackson here.

If artistry runs in the family, we've got it. Do a google for "Cat Rocketship". And check (my daughter) Yiddle's website. I love seeing their latest creations. My daughter's abilities awe me.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Of Which She Jogs My Memory of a Not So Good Memory

Ree over at The Pioneer Woman is having problems with mice. Naturally, since I have a propensity to offer advice on any number of topics (I's my downfall), I suggested the old-timey remedy we used when we lived in a house that invited mice to live in the walls and the attic and the basement and the drawers and.... You get the picture.

My advice? Forget the traps. Forget the cats. Buy d-CON and place it in the attic and basement. (Keep it hidden away where pets cannot find it.) Sure, now and then one of those four-footed d-CON eaters will die in the which case you'll have at least two weeks of mourning takes that long for the aroma to waft out the walls into the great outdoors instead of into your dining room (or whichever room is adjacent to the wall in which said critter died) and believe me, you'll be mourning! Dead mouse smell is ugly.

Thankfully, we have not had a mouse problem for years. However... Oh, dear, this is going to get gross...proceed only if you have not recently eaten lunch, or dinner, or breakfast or whatever.

Years ago we lived in the California foothills and we planned to move back to Iowa. Which meant we needed to get our home into salable mode. You know the routine. Get rid of junk. Tidy. Spotless. Don't even eat because the Realtor could call and give you a 5-minute notice to exit the property taking all your food crumbs with you.

We had one wee little problem. No one would even know about it unless they opened the coat closet off the living room. But since 99.95 percent of buyers open every closet in the house this really was not a wee little problem; it was a BIG problem.

Some weeks prior, a nest of critters (I think they were California ground squirrels) had a nest in the attic and somehow the nest fell inside the wall to floor level. Several critters dying inside a wall can leave a hefty aroma. Enough time had gone by that it really wasn't noticeable unless someone opened the closet door. And, Wow, did you notice then! Unless you didn't that case, it was no problem atall!

There we were...wanting to sell our house...the aroma still wafting not-so-gently in the coat closet. I'm a handy do-it-yourselfer so I figured this was my kinda project. Simple. Go into the closet, cut a hole in the drywall, remove the dead critters, patch the hole and be done with it.

I laid several plastic bags on the closet floor with newspaper atop. Rubber gloves encased my hands. A good steak knife cut a nifty hole in the wall...on the wrong side of the stud. Had to move over and cut a second hole. Thank goodness the knife was still sharp enough to manage a second try. So far, so good. Two holes in the wall.

The following is the worst part...leave now if you must. Consider yourself forewarned!

I placed my glove-encased hand through the hole in the wall and began bringing out bits and pieces of bones and dessicated flesh. Every time I withdrew my hand I screamed! Aaaaarrrgh! Remove a handful! Aaaarrrgh! Remove another handful! Aaarghhh! Ad infinitum. (Still makes me shiver to think of it!)

It was AWful. I can't tell you how AWful it was! When I had pulled out what appeared to be several skeletons I sprayed the interior of the wall with odor remover. Then I encased the cruddy debris within several layers of newspaper and plastic bags and tossed it in the garbage. I tossed the knife and the gloves, too. I'm not sentimental about such things.

Ree thinks she has a mouse problem! She doesn't have anything on me. Unless hers grow thrice their current size and decide to die by the half-dozen within the walls of her home. THEN she has a problem! But if that happens, someone can send her over here to read about how to get rid of the deceased ones.

The house did sell. I'm thinking the owners must wonder what is hidden behind those two patched holes inside the hallway closet. Some marvelous treasure? Perhaps hidden gold? Do you think curiosity has got the better of them by now?


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Upon Which I Muse About Flying at 38,000 Feet

Since we've recently done some traveling I have a couple notes about flying at 25,000 to 38,000 feet.
  • It's a mite cold up there. On a recent trip instead of an inflight movie the monitors were showing the status of our flight. I was reading a book but now and then I would glance up to view our altitude, air temp, ground speed. At one point I noticed we were about 28,000 feet and the air temp was -40 C, which coincidentally, translates to a -40 F. The temp can get much colder than that as experienced by this hapless man who stowed away aboard a recent Delta flight to Tokyo.
  • It's a mite high up there! On our recent flight the pilot announced we were at 38,000 feet. That is over 7 miles! On a clear day you can see the geography over which you are flying, recognize cities and towns, differentiate between fertile crop ground and arid desert. It makes you realize how infinitesimally small we are in relation to the size of the universe. And yet God sees us as his beloved creatures.
  • Flying makes me realize how "wealthy" the average American really is. For a small portion of one's annual income (how much depends on where you are on the economic scale) one can be served by a tremendously expensive aircraft AND crew. Think about how rich you are! A hundred years ago not even the richest of the rich had access to today's flying experience nor the ability to fly half way round the world in a matter of hours.
  • Clouds are strange things. I can't even begin to tell you how lovely it is to fly above the cloud level with blue sky overhead and clouds below. It astounds me that with a ground speed of 550 mph, the clouds seem to be in slow motion as they float past the tip of the wing. It's as if they think this is just a lazy summer jaunt. Wouldn't you think they would be whipping by like telephone poles at 60 mph on some old highway? But, no, they seem to float in the air and fluffily glide by the window. I wonder how they can be so slow and I am moving so fast!
  • Speaking of clouds...go see Estelle's photos over at That's Life. Pretty interesting.
  • Jet lag never bothers me. But what seems terribly strange is that one moment I am in one place and then in the next moment (actually hours later) I am in a new place and the first place almost instantly feels like long ago. And, naturally, far away.
  • If you are afraid to fly? You're missing a fascinating experience.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Of "Pins and Needles" and How They Are Useful

Be advised that the following hint will not work if you live in an older home with those hard-plaster walls.

Here's a handy-dandy hint for those of you who live in homes with sheet-rock walls and who like to hang things such as small wall quilts and who don't want the hassle of putting yet-more nail holes in the walls. (This will work for other items that are very light in weight...don't use for heavy pictures.)

Some years ago I purchased a small container of short applique pins at a yard sale. (Most everything in my house is from some yard sale so perhaps I should stop adding that to every can just insert the words yourself next time you read!)

Applique pins are shorter than standard pins. I don't do much applique. Instead I use these short pins to hang small things on the particular, small wall quilts. If I decide later to move the item, the only thing left on the wall are tiny holes which can easily be disguised with a smidgen of white toothpaste. (Or, if you're a purist about your walls, spackling compound.)

Simply grasp the pin with a pair of pliers (needle nose work well) and stick it through the quilt into the wall. Sometimes I just attach at the top corners. Other times I will add a couple pins at the bottom as well. Place them far enough into the wall that you won't snag them as you walk by but leave them sticking out just enough that you can grasp them with pliers when you want to remove them. Be care, if you drop them in carpeting they are a bear to find. No! Wait! A bear would be easy to find. Believe me, the pins are Not!

My advice if you live in an older home with hard plaster walls? Move! No, that's not a good idea...sorry about that. I jest. If you have hard plaster walls you already know they are hard as a rock. Even pounding a nail to hang a picture is a task and you'll end up with bent nails on the floor at your feet! Instead, pre-drill a hole using a bit that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the nail. Then you can pound the nail into the wall.

P.S. You can use regular pins as well. Grasp them close to the tip, push them in the wall a bit, grasp them again further up the pin, push some more, until you have them firmly in the wall. It is possible to use old sewing machine needles for heavier items...remember again to grasp close to the tip as you push them into the wall.)


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Even in Paradise they Need Stocking Caps! And Mittens, Too!

I'm partial. We all are partial, meaning we all have our preferences, our beloveds, our druthers.

When it comes to yarn, I'm partial to wool. Oh, I love the new colors, fibers, textures...not that I've tried many of them. Most of my knitting days are behind me...I'm the typical afghan knitter of the 1970/80s. Those days I loved wool and I still love wool.

So when I found this vintage unopened Bucilla sweater Kit No. 7681 at the local consignment shop you can imagine how pleased I was! Included were 12 ounces of 100% Virgin Wool Yarn! And pattern. And all for $2.00!

I'm not interested in knitting sweaters. No, Thank You! Sweaters take too much time to my way of thinking. I'm more interested in smaller projects such as stocking caps. I figured I'd make myself a really nifty wool stocking cap...a perfect little project to take along on our recent trip to visit family on Maui.

We took carry-on luggage only. Can you imagine packing everything you need for a two-week stay in a 21-inch carry-on? We did just that. And in my bag were yarn and knitting needles. The needles were plastic and I stored them flat along the side of the bag. They made it through screening twice. ( I don't know if that is a statement about TSA or whether plastic is considered safe.)

So there I am, on Maui, knitting a wool stocking cap for myself (I thought!). Naturally, the Little One (granddaughter) was fascinated! She reassured me that her head gets cold, even on Maui, and that a stocking cap would keep her head warm. And mittens would surely keep her hands warm! She didn't out and out ask me to make her a cap. No, she was too sweet and polite to do that. She just mentioned her head being cold. And her hands. On Maui. Go figure! And she did it so sweetly!

Now you know, and I know, that she didn't need a stocking cap. But I had time, and I had plenty of yarn. And before I knew it I had two stocking caps knit (neither of them for me!). On our last day I presented a gramma-made stocking cap to Little One and her Older Sister.

I'm betting that today, on a Saturday morning, when temps on Maui are expected to be in the 80s, Little One will be scampering outdoors with a yellow stocking cap atop her head. The little scamp!

Oh! The mittens? We bought a couple pair of knit gloves this morning...they'll be in the mail by Monday. As for me? I'm still running around freezing my ears off.

And you? If you are a knitter and would like to have the Bucilla photo AND sweater instructions, just drop me a line. I'll put them in the mail. But I'm keeping the rest of the case I find time to make myself a nifty yellow stocking cap.

Do you suppose I am partial to a little girl's beguiling smile?


Friday, February 5, 2010

Whereupon I Confess I Am Deluded!

I can only blame it on being slightly deranged. Either that or my late night musings are a bit "tetched", if you know what I mean.

Yesterday's post was some attempt at saying "winter is beautiful" or words to that effect. Please ignsnow on the deck feb 5 2010ore yesterday's posting. Ignore it completely. Do not read is absolutely worthless. I take back everything I said therein about winter beauty. Most everything.

This morning we awoke to six more inches of snow. (It may be only three or four inches, but it LOOKS like six inches and it LOOKS as if it will not stop anytime soon.)

Last night while eating pizza at our daughter's house (the one who lives closeby) our son-in-law casually mentioned that we have already accumulated 50 inches of snow.

And it hasn't melted. And it's snowing presently. And the forecast shows snow all day and snow showers the next three days. There is a pause of three days clear and THEN three more days of snow showers. There could be more...the ten-day forecast can extend only ten days, ya know. There's half of February, all of March, and most of April before us. Plenty of time to accumulate even MORE snow! Aaaargh!

Snowy landscapes may have their beauty but I can't help but recognize that snow (and icy rain) cause plenty of problems for ordinary folk. Plenty. Hard work with the snow shovel. Minor fender benders. Major accidents. Our bank is taking up a collection for a woman who died after a terrible accident on the snow-packed Interstate. She was driving to work at the hospital. A lady at the grocery store fell and injured herself on the ice. Farmers have to be out in snow and ice to feed livestock. Folk still have to get to work and school and the grocery store. It's for all of those reasons that I dislike winter.

And if you want to read about "real" suffering caused by winter storms, click here to read about the damage done by the January 22 ice storm in South Dakota. Thousands of people are without power...tens of thousands of power lines are down. The link will lead you to news coverage over the past two weeks of the ongoing efforts to restore power to these people.

Can you tell that I have not yet had my cup of coffee?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Beauty is Where You Find It

Those weathermen. Ummm, I should include "weatherwomen". Or is there such a word for the female persuasion? Perhaps I should begin again...

Those meterologists! Perhaps there are some folk who look forward to their winter forecasts. People like Bill up in Wasilla. Bill seems to glory in living barely surviving in the midst of severe cold and winter gloom. He enjoys cold winter days and subzero temps and winter snowstorms.

But me? Those forecasts tend to cause me to hunker down into endurance mode and to pull some stew meet out of the freezer. Today I went to the winter extreme of buying a crockpot cookbook from the local consignment store. I figure spring is not yet here (Ha! That's an understatement!) and crockpot stew or soup sounds mighty good. And tomorrow it will taste mighty good.

But you know what! Even though I dislike winter and prefer the snow to fall elsewhere I find myself endlessly fascinated with the beauty that winter creates.

Tuesday we drove from Minnesota to our home in western Iowa. Hubby was driving and I was watching the sculpted snowbanks alongside the highway.

They reminded me of my childhood when we rode the schoolbus an hour every day to school and later, home again. The distance was barely 10 miles but we had to stop and pick up so many families. Some of the kids were dawdlers which meant the bus driver would wait impatiently at the end of the driveway. Once he saw the kids headed for the bus he waited a bit longer for them to actually step aboard. Sometimes, if they did not appear, after honking the horn and waiting a bit longer, we simply left without them. Our bus route was the farthest out and we were consistently the last bus to school.

On that ten-mile trip I loved watching the winter scenery as we rolled down the road. And I still remember the lovely curve of the drifted snow, mile after mile, field after field.

Winter has much beauty. As does spring, summer and fall.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Playing Catch-Up

We're playing catch-up at our house. Which is not to be confused with ketchup. Or catsup, as some people call that rich tomato sauce in the bottle.

We've been away from home for nearly three weeks. Oh, we did come home for one night, pulled the warm-weather clothing from our bags, and repacked with winter clothing for a short trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

We did not learn anything new there. However, having gone to Mayo for a second opinion relieves us of any doubts about past treatment and reassures us also that future treatment will be the best. We're ready to take the next step.

I feel really good. I do. Physically I feel really good. (Did I just repeat myself?) Mentally and spiritually I'm good, too. I see all of this as a journey and I'm walking one step at a time.

This week we're ready to "catch-up" with things here at home...the house needs a full day of cleaning...laundry needs to be done...letters need to be written.

But first things first. Scripture. Coffee. Breakfast. I'm taking care of today and will worry about tomorrow when it gets here.

Today's Scripture? Matthew 6:34 "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."


Monday, February 1, 2010

Alice From Long Ago

An odd thing happened yesterday. We brought along our hometown newspaper when we drove from home to Minnesota. Yesterday I read the obituary of Alice, a woman a few years older than I. She and I met as teenagers when we were both detasseling corn (about 45 years Iowa, where else! )

If you did not grow up in the Corn Belt you may not be aware that the seed corn that farmers plant every spring is produced by hybridizing two (or more) varieties of corn. The seed corn producer plants several rows of "female" corn interspersed with a couple rows of "male" corn. Since all corn produces pollen (the male aspect of germination) and since the intent is to cross one variety with another to produce the hybrid seed, the pollen must be removed from the "female" rows so that this variety does not self-pollinate, but is instead pollinated by the "male".

Oh, gosh, this is getting long. Sorry about that. Stay with me!

The female rows must be topped, or detasseled, to remove the pollen. Today machines are driven down the rows and mechanically top the female corn. However, there will still be some tassel that remains and detasselers (human beings!) walk the rows, pulling any remaining tassel. In other fields, the machines may not be used at all, and detasseling is done entirely by persons walking the rows.

It's a dirty job, hot, sweaty, dirty. When I was a teen most of my friends worked every summer in the fields to earn spending money. That's where I met Alice.

Alice was different than the rest of the girls in a gentle, kind way. While the other girls spent their time laughing, joking, talking, or singing silly songs, Alice usually wandered off to a shady spot during our rest periods and sat down to read a book. Not that she was stand-offish. No, indeed. She was very kind. I sat down with her a couple times and visited with her. Alice was thinking of becoming a nun. And she was serious about God. She was not a flippant silly girl. She was serious. I liked Alice for her seriousness. And her gentle kindness.

Her obituary mentioned that Alice died from ovarian cancer. I hadn't seen Alice since our detasseling days so I was startled to read her name. And I was startled to read about her cancer. Her obituary mentioned that her sister, too, died from ovarian cancer. That caught my eye because I, too, have ovarian cancer. It is a cancer more rare than breast cancer. There are perhaps 10 breast cancer patients for every ovarian. To read that my friend of long ago (and her sister as well) had succumbed to OVCA...well, it just startled me.

Something nice happened this week, too. My daughter gave me a ring with an inscription printed round the band. It reads, "If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it." She knows that I am trusting God through all of this journey.

You see, I am not one who believes that our path through life is just happenstance. I believe that God not only knows what our path will be...I believe He also "directs" our path. He has brought me to this particular path. And He will walk me through all of it...however long that path be.

It sure is an interesting journey...not one that I would have chosen...but interesting, nevertheless.

I would have liked to talk to Alice as she walked through her journey.

Psalm 139:16. (run your cursor over the scripture to read the verse)