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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sunday, May 9 , 1999 - Rabbits and Fruit Soup and Mother's Day

            Monday, a friend of ours who lives just across the alley from my mother gave us three large butternut squashes (squashes? -- is that a word?), which I fixed for supper, to several people’s dismay.  And I even put lots of butter and brown sugar in them, so they were extra yummy!  Picky people.

            That afternoon, Larry brought home a little charcoal metallic ’92 Isuzu Stylus, four-door.  It will be for Dorcas, just as soon as he fixes its rumpled front fender.  It was only $600, and it is in excellent shape; but here’s the problem:  there are only six cars like it in the entire United States, so spare parts are higher’n a kite.  Would you believe, $250 for a fender??!!  It’s Dorcas’ early birthday present, and she’s delighted.  (It wasn’t supposed to be early, but.....that’s Larry for you.)

            Tuesday we got an email from Pablo, who’d made it home to Buenos Aires safe and sound, and was glad to be there, too.  He told us that, after he finished his work stint in Dillon, Colorado, he’d traveled to the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion Canyons, Sedona, Las Vegas, and San Francisco, among other places, with two or three friends from Argentina, who’d come to vacation and then go home with him.  They finished their tour in Miami, where they would catch a plane home.

            And then his friend’s car was broken into.  Pablo’s backpack, which contained his camera, eight rolls of undeveloped film from all those aforementioned places, clothes, and other things, was stolen, along with his friends’ passports, airline tickets, and numerous other belongings.  Pablo was very sad about the loss of that film.

            We promptly packed up a large stack of CountRy and CountRy Extra magazines, each chock-full of beautiful pictures of mountains, canyons, and so forth, as many as we could cram into a Schwan’s pizza box  (did you know you can squish a three-inch stack of magazines into a one-inch high box?), and shipped it off to him.   

           One afternoon, there was a huge rabbit in our alley.  Hannah, with Victoria on her knee, knelt down slowly and held out her hand.  The bunny came closer... and closer... and closer...  He stretched out his neck to sniff at Hannah’s hand...  And then Victoria, all in an Excitement, said, “Ha!” suddenly, made the poor unsuspecting thing leap backwards a couple of yards in one quick hurry.  But he just lippety-lopped a few paces away, and then thumped the ground vigorously with one hind foot.  Hannah wondered if it could be the mother of those baby bunnies across the street; but I think it’s more likely he is somebody’s escaped pet.  We haven’t seen him since.  He should be okay, so long as he doesn’t get himself under the nose of one particular Husky from the Aleutian Islands.  You know, if I happen to be out in the yard when a rabbit runs down the alley (we have oodles and caboodles of bunnies around here, much to the detriment, impairment, and havoc of the neighborhood gardens), Aleutia’s ears go down limply along the sides of her head, she hangs her tail guiltily, and she turns her head and looks far the opposite direction.  She’s quite a Catholic, I guess--willing to pay penance ahead of time, even; but, of course, not willing to give up Rabbit for Refreshment as a Sinful Little Snack.

            At Jr. Choir Thursday evening, we played one of the children’s favorite games, Categories.  In this game, I have one row at a time stand, and working our way from one end to the other, each child must name an item in a specified category.  Sometimes we do ‘Men of the Bible’, or ‘Children in our Church Under the Age of Seven’, or ‘Kitchen Utensils’, or whatever else we happen to come up with.  This time, we did something we haven’t done before:  each girl was to state a flower name, while each boy was to state the name of a vehicle.  Now, that was funny.  We’d go along down a row with these sorts of words:  “Datson.”  “Mustang.”  “Buick.”  “John Deere.” and then, incongruously, “Pansy.”  haha  That sure made everyone laugh.

            A friend sent me, via email, the Christmas picture of our kids.  You see, we don’t have a scanner, so we can’t download it, ourselves; but she can scan it for me, and then send it to me.  So we can put it as ‘wallpaper’, which means that the picture will pop up every time we start the computer, or we can put it into all sorts of programs on the computer, including attachments to our email.  Well, I put it into my Paintbox program, and then, with Caleb standing beside me, I picked up a ‘paintbrush’, dipped it into the blue ‘paint’, and colored Caleb’s hand.  (This is all on the computer screen, you understand, and I use my mouse to move the paintbrush around.)  Caleb laughed over his blue hand, and I progressed on up to his face and put on a big red grin.  It was still a ‘good funny’, as Lydia used to say, until I made great big purple eyes with black pupils in the middle, which, of course, immediately turned Cute Little Caleb into Clancy the Clown.

            Caleb stopped laughing.  With a slight smile still on his face, he said in an almost reproachful tone, “I wish Mama was on the picture.”  And everybody burst into laughter.

            I made a printout of my completed version of our Christmas picture, which Larry entitled “The Misfits.”  The picture on the computer has the same vivid colors as the real pictures, but when we print it out, it loses some of the quality.  After completing my paint job, I sent it back to my friend, asking her why she did such a dastardly deed as to deface our nice Christmas picture like that--as if she had done it, and it had arrived in my ‘mailbox’ just that way.  I received a return email right quick-like:  “My, you have quite a bunch of clowns over there!  And you blame me??!!”

            I was already hard at work on another version.  (If you ‘save’ each piece of artwork you do under a different title, you don’t mess up your original.)  This time, using the cut and crop feature, I removed everybody’s heads and switched them around.  Then, using a ‘syringe’ to collect paint samples, I carefully ‘spray-painted’ around everybody’s head a matching color of background, so it would look as if each head really belonged in its new location.  I made a printout of that, too.  It’s not very good, because, unfortunately, I think I’m already running that poor printer out of its brand-new color-ink cartridge.  And each cartridge costs over $10!  Yi.  But I didn’t use it all; Larry used quite a bit, too, printing out pictures of wrecked vehicles from Lincoln Auto of Denver.  (Now, do you think that was as necessary as these captivating pictures I’ve done?!)

            Yes, yes; this ‘toy’ is wasting lots of our time; but, goodness! -- what fun we’re having!  I even took the liberty of cutting Keith out of the lineup, and then putting a big black sombrero on him, complete with Indian-print band and big gold medallion.  I added an imposing handlebar mustache, redid his hair, adding large sideburns, gave him a pair of large blue eyes, and pinked up his cheeks.  Then I entitled it, “Ten-Gallon Hat” and sent it email to a friend of his with the following query:  “Greetings from South of the Border!  Recognize your old chum, hmmmm?”  Keith received the following reply Friday night when he was visiting:  “Dear Ten-Gallon Hat:  Ist dat you????  Pedro???!!” 
            I have finished typing my father’s sermon outlines on I and II Corinthians, and am now on Galatians.  Friday afternoon I took a break from all that typing, and made the equivalent of six deep-dish strawberry/rhubarb pies, which I put into two large rectangular pans.  I got one of those pans from a truckstop here when it went out of business, and it’s the largest rectangular baking pan I’ve ever seen--just right, for us.  Dorcas ran the rhubarb through the food processor before going back to school that afternoon.  I told Hannah, “Just toss it into my biggest pot (it’s proportionally comparable to a witch’s brewing kettle) and cover it with water.”

            She did.  I mean, she did.  By the time I was done slicing three quarts of strawberries and making the crust, I had discovered the already-cooked rhubarb, swimming valiantly through enough water to float a battleship.  To dump out the liquid would’ve been to discard of lots of flavor, to say nothing of the valuable vitamins and minerals and what-not.  So I added strawberry jello and cornstarch, trying to compensate.

            It wasn’t enough.  It should’ve been called “Fruit Soup.”  I relabeled it “sauce”, and sent Dorcas to the store for vanilla ice cream over which to pour the stuff.

            In the meanwhile, Lawrence and Norma, and Keith and Esther had come visiting.  Fortunately, we had enough dessert for everybody, and even my mother and Bobby, too, when he brought Hannah home from their date.

            Yesterday, I poured the other ‘pie’ back into a big pot, heated it up, and then added four packets of Knox gelatin.  So we had real, honest-to-goodness pie, with whipped cream on top.

            Once again, Teddy seems to have run out of summer shirts.  So, we went to the Salvation Army and discovered that, once again, they were having a $.99 sale on shirts and blouses.  This time, Teddy came, too.  I tell you, we chose the wrong middle name for him; it should’ve been “Picky-picky”.  Somehow, though, we did wind up with a dozen nice shirts, in spite of himself.  He also found a chess game and a Parcheesi game, and the littles discovered all sorts of fabulous stuffed animals.  Hester even found a brand-new, old-fashioned, crinkled-fur teddy bear in a cute little outfit.  We also got a kitten that had a computerized music box inside it, and a sensor on its stomach.  It had no batteries, so we had no way of knowing if it worked or not, but it was only $.49, so I figured it would be no great loss, even if it didn’t work.

            It worked.  It not only plays an extensive collection of songs, it also moves its paws around, and its tail wags back and forth.  It’s cute as a, well, as a kitten.

            Today was Mother’s Day.  Thanks to the littles, I’ve been celebrating it for three days now.....they just can’t wait, you see.  Friday, Hester, Lydia, and Caleb brought their handmade presents home from school, and, of course, gave them to me right away.  Hester made a pretty little frame and covered it with dusty blue flowered wallpaper, and put a very cute picture of herself in it; and Lydia and Caleb each decorated a terra cotta flower pot with that rubbery puff-paint and then planted a petunia in it.  One is already blooming, a dark velvety burgundy color.

            After church, Lawrence and Norma stopped in so we could give Norma her gift--a hanging planter with pink begonias, and a couple of photo albums.  Before Sunday School in the morning, we’d pinned a corsage on her--one that Hannah made of silk flowers in shades of ivory and light pink.  There were roses, poppies, carnations, and other small flowers on it, and it turned out really pretty.  Hannah made one for my mother, too.  We gave Mama a planter full of all different kinds of blooming plants to put on a little table between the benches on her redwood deck; and a couple of albums.

            Keith and Esther gave me a big purple umbrella, which was just what I needed, since Winnie the Pooh (or somebody) went sailing in my old one and crumpled one of its ribs; and they also gave me a set of pens with rubber grips, which was just what I needed, since all my other pens have sprouted legs and gone off to sea.

            Hannah gave me one of those nifty little clips with fancy chains and crystals that you can use to hold your sweater together, or clip onto the back of a jacket or dress to nip it up snugger, along with a couple of leather thimbles, which were just what I needed, since I’ve worn my old ones plumb out.  From Dorcas, I received a yummy strawberry candle in a little hexagon jar with a lid, and an old-fashioned miniature yellow rose bush, which was just what I needed, ever since I saw one in my gardening book.  I’ll try to coax Larry into planting it for me tomorrow.

            Teddy installed a nifty clip onto the top corner of my computer, which was just what I needed, to hold papers to copy type from, and it folds back to the side when not in use.  Joseph, who spent all his money on his new stereo CD and cassette player, informed me that I could plug a mike into it any time I wanted to, and record some songs, which was just what I needed, since my tape player bit the dust a while back.  I also discovered several digital postcards on my computer with beautiful pictures of flowers, and short notes from the children.

            And, last but certainly not least, Victoria is a Mother’s Day gift just by being Victoria, the dear little thing!  She’s just what I need.

            Well, the truth is, that’s the way I feel about all my children.  Keith somehow seems to have gotten all growed up since he got married, and is more enjoyable to converse and visit with than ever.  And Esther fits right in, just like she always belonged.  Friday night she taught the children how to play Joseph’s new game, SkipBo.  Even Norma joined in, and they all had quite a merry time.

            After dinner, Hannah and Bobby migrated toward the piano, and soon Hannah was playing, and Bobby was singing tenor.  All of a sudden, my ears perked up:  they were singing one of my favorites, “Not by might; not by power; by my Spirit saith the Lord of Hosts!”  I trotted off to the piano, posthaste, and added alto to the blend.  Another half of a minute, and we had the entire group clustered around the piano, Keith on bass, Teddy and Joseph joining Bobby in tenor, Hannah and Hester adding more alto, and Larry, Esther, Dorcas, Lydia, and Caleb combining their voices in soprano, while I took over the piano playing.  Now, that is an enjoyable pastime!  One thing about having an entire brigade of kids:  the older they get, the more spectacular the Mother’s Days become!

            Now I’d better get back to typing those sermon outlines.  I’m in the middle of Galatians, and nearly in the middle of this big notebook I’m working on.  So, the work progresses, in spite of nifty Paintbox programs on intelligent computers!

Sunday, May 2, 1999 - 'Puter Larnin'

            Last week, you’ll remember, about the time I was finishing typing my letter, I had re-discovered my pictures from Seattle Filmworks on the computer.  Well, I managed to get them onto the hard drive, and now I’ve created an ‘album’ on the computer, which I can view as a ‘slide show’, or download one at a time, and make each picture any size I want--so small it is nearly impossible to see, or so big that only one eye will fit on the screen at a time.

            On one roll of film, I took two shots of Lawrence and Norma.  They stood in the same place for both pictures, and so did I.  On the first picture, they both had their heads tipped just a bit, while on the second, they each straightened up.  Now, when the pictures go clicking along through the ‘slide show’, it looks as if Lawrence and Norma abruptly stand up straighter, and, for some reason, this seems to tickle the children’s funny bones immensely.  We showed it to ‘Grandpa and Grandma’, who were struck with the humor of it just as much as their grandchildren.

            Monday, those pictures all arrived--the real McCoy, not the ‘virtual’ sort--and I put them into my album.  Computers are incredible, but, judging from my experience with them, I am much more likely to lose pictures on my computer, than I am likely to lose pictures in my album.

            Teddy managed to remove that ‘Registry Problem” off our computer; then everything went haywire and it totally lost its bearings.  I mean, it crashedBig time.  Since those two computer technicians who’d previously worked on it didn’t seem to be able to ever completely repair it, we called a friend of ours, by name of Frankie, whom we often tease about thinking he knows everything there is to know.  I once sang to him, “I saw Aaron and Moses, playin’ ring around the roses; for I was born ten thousand years ago!--and there ain’t nothin’ in the world that I don’t know!”  He just laughs and teases back.  The funny thing is, sometimes he does know quite a bit about things.

            As I said, we called him.  He was soon at our house, checking out the computer.  It was worse than he’d expected.  After finally getting it to at least run ‘scan disk’ and such like, in which it checks its own programs and repairs any problems it discovers, he was having trouble proceeding further; so he took it home with him.  It’s still there; he’ll have to reprogram it, and I haven’t heard how the task is progressing.

            While Frankie was in our living room Monday evening, working on the computer on the east side of the room, I was busily arranging pictures on the computer on the west side of the room.  Having shot a good picture of Frankie himself at the last wedding we attended, I ‘clicked’ on that picture, and enlarged it until his face filled the entire screen.

            Then I cried in mock alarm, “Oh, no!!  Just look what this computer has done!”

            Frankie whirled around, looking apprehensive.  And there he was, staring right back at himself.  Hahaha, the look on his face was too, too funny.

            Joseph just got himself a prize possession, using his birthday money:  a new stereo system.  It has three compact disk players, a double cassette deck, and, of course, an AM/FM radio.  And great big speakers. 

            Monday evening, I suddenly noticed that Victoria didn’t look a bit good.  I picked her up--and found myself holding the hottest baby I’d ever felt.  I hurriedly took her temperature:  it was 104 degrees!  Rushing into the bathroom, I filled the tub with lukewarm water, put her into it, and then gradually cooled it down.  As usual, she stayed her amiable self, with nary a word of complaint coming from the dear little girl.  While I washed her hair, I calmly explained to her what I was doing, and gave her a few ‘Eskimo kisses’ to divert her attention from the coolness of the water.  When I got her out a few minutes later, her temperature had dropped almost two degrees, which was a relief.

            Tuesday, we had a previous appointment with Dr. Luckey for Hannah and Joseph (for her finger and his thumb), so I asked him to give Victoria a checkup, too.  It turned out her throat was all red, and her tonsils were swollen, so he gave us a prescription for amoxicillin.  Victoria seems all well, now.

            Joseph had two warts growing at the base of his thumbnail, and the doctor froze those off.  Having heard this news, Joseph’s friends, twins Anthony and Charles, sent him an E-mail:  “Joseph!  You must quit hiding those frogs under your bed!”

            Joseph responded with the following message:
Dear Anthony and Charles:
        Ribbet ribbet ribbet ribbet ribbet ribbet rihbet ribbet ribbet........
......hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop hop.................

                        to which he received this reply:

            “Dear Joseph:  How many frogs do you have under there, anyway?!!”

            By the time we got to see the doctor, we’d been waiting for about two hours, because he’d had several emergencies.  So, after looking carefully at the lump on Hannah’s finger, right at the base of the finger where it joins the palm, he told us he would need extra time to do the procedure, and asked us to return Saturday.  It would be a delicate operation, because of all the little fragments of joint and tendon and blood vessels in that location, and he didn’t want to do it when he was running so late and trying to hurry.  So Hannah went back Saturday morning, taking Dorcas with her to drive home.

           Dr. Luckey removed the lump, which was a ganglion cyst, somewhat like the one Teddy had on his wrist, only Hannah’s was hard, and couldn’t be drained with a syringe.  The doctor sewed it up with dissolvable stitches and wrapped her hand in gauze, and she is not to remove it until tomorrow.  (The gauze; not the hand.)  We arrived home five minutes short of four hours after we’d left home.  So that removed a large chunk of that day.

            I finished Hannah’s dress for the Spring Program, and then, finally, I began typing my father’s sermon notes.  I am now going great guns on it, and hope to get done with this particular section in a couple of weeks.

            Thursday night, just as I was all primed up to start typing Daddy’s notes, I learned that Joseph needed his report on The Battle of Coral Sea typed.  So that I did.  It’s an altogetherly exciting story, and was one of the turning points in World War II.  I enjoyed typing it, even if it did delay my starting on those sermon outlines.

            Hannah was looking up crocheting and yarn companies on the Internet the other night, when she discovered, on a site called ‘Crochet Mining Company’, ‘free digital postcards’.  There is a huge selection of pictures to choose from, and by clicking on a little box, one can make it ‘snow’ on the postcard.  Another click makes the lakes shimmer and reflect.  There is a choice of songs--from classical to up-beat tempo, and so forth.  Hannah and I promptly sent cards to Hester, Lydia, and Caleb; and several cousins, nieces, and aunts besides.

            In return for the postcards, Jodie and Sharon have been picking wild violets by the handfuls, tying little bouquets together with yarn, and leaving them at my door with notes reading, “To Great Aunt Sarah Lynn, with love.”  Even as I type, the delicate scent of lilacs and carpet bugle is wafting through the room, lilacs they picked from my mother’s bushes.  Mama told them to pick as many as they liked, and soon their hands were full of the fragrant blossoms.  Sweet little girls!

            I just received notification that my poem 'My Baby Victoria' that is being published by the National Library of Poetry in the book entitled 'Sound of Voices' will also be read on a cassette along with ten other poems, which means I am in the finals, along with those other ten people.  This year, grand prize is $2000.

            One morning when I went into Victoria’s room to get her up, her fan was making a dreadful racket.  I turned it off.  “Goodness!” I remarked.  “That doesn’t sound very good!”

            Victoria shook her head in agreement.  “It sounds naughty!”

            At suppertime, she noticed grapefruit seeds on somebody’s plate.  “Oh!” she said, “Go give these bird seeds to the feenches?”

            Wednesday evening before church, I tried to make Bayou-style gumbo stew.  Says me to meself, “Reckon a whole canister of Creole seasoning ’ll be ’nough, hmm?” and I dumped it in.

            It was enough.

 It was more than enough.  It was too much.

            Several of us picked cautiously through it; but we couldn’t bear much of it.  Since I stayed home with Victoria that night, I spent some time remaking the stew:  I cooked two more pounds of vegetables, three and a half pounds of hamburger, and a pound of mashed potatoes.  When that was done, I mixed it all together.  Voilá!--by the time everyone came home from church, it was just right.  Of course, that meant there was about three times as much stew as we needed; so, of course, that meant that we would have leftovers Thursday.  And guess what?--it was even better the next day.  Evidently the spices had soaked into the vegetables and meat, and everything was well flavored, and the broth didn’t make our hair stand up on end from an excess of spiciness.

            After pulling lots of weeds in my flower gardens, I bought flowers and planted them.  Do you recall how, last spring, I got all carried away and bought a whole cartload of flowers?  And it was entirely too many flowers for me to easily plant in one afternoon?  Well, Friday Hannah, Victoria, and I went to the greenhouse.  Hannah had a cart, and I had a cart.  So.......I filled them both.  Now, if one cartload was too much, what do you suppose two cartloads was??  There were 168 flowers.  Good grief.

            But I got ’em planted, I did!  Saturday, I did lumber about rather stiffly; but those flowers were planted.  Saturday afternoon, I helped Hester plant morning glory seeds at the base of the trellis that my sister and brother-in-law, Lura Kay and John, gave me for my birthday last October.  I hope to plant clematis and wisteria, both perennials, this fall.  I like perennials; they come up each spring all by themselves!

            While I was planting flowers, Teddy was splitting wood.  We had accumulated a very large pile on our back driveway, and it really was quite an eyesore.  He kept at it for four hours, not quitting until, finally, he simply couldn’t lift one more log onto the splitter.  He stacked them all neatly in the northeast corner of our yard, where they will dry nicely for next winter.

            Thursday, Lydia and Caleb’s class had a pizza party at Pawnee Park as a reward for reading so many books throughout the year.  Hannah transported several of the students, and Dorcas went, too, since she has helped out in the classroom numerous times.  Hannah took lots of cute pictures, and the lady who arranges the yearbook will use several of them in the next annual.

            Wednesday night, somebody made a bomb threat to all the city schools, public, parochial, and private, along with several businesses.  One of our church members who used to be a police reservist came and searched both school and church in the middle of the night, and school went on course as usual the following morning.  All the other schools in town started an hour late, since the bomb squads didn’t come to search the buildings until Thursday morning.  Since then, we’ve been keeping all the doors on the school and church locked from the outside--those inside can get out all right; but those on the outside can’t get in unless somebody lets them in.

            What an evil old world we live in!  Everybody blames everyone else for the moral decay of the country; everybody has their own elaborate idea about what has gone wrong; and nobody seems to notice that the more God is kicked out--out of the home, out of the school, even out of the church, of all places--the worse everything gets.  Few people know that the answers to all these problems are as close at hand as our Bibles.  But those are all dusty from lack of use.

            There is a nest of baby bunnies just across the street, beside the front porch of the church.  They are getting livelier every day, and, if you stand perfectly still and watch the little mound of soft rabbit fur over the top of them, you will soon see it bounce up and down.  I managed to get a picture of one bunny before his eyes opened.  (No, I didn’t touch him.)

            Now I’d better get back to those sermon notes.  They are so enthralling, sometimes I go on reading, and forget I’m supposed to be typing!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 1999 - Computers and Birthdays and Supper at the Park

            This letter is being typed on a brand-new computer--one belonging to my nephew, David Walker.  It is now residing in the northwest corner of our living room, looking very much as if it belongs there.  I am borrowing it to type some of my father’s sermon notes with it, using a program called ‘Microsoft Word’, so as to match with the format of the notes that have already been typed.  My nephew Robert’s wife, Margaret, has completed the Old Testament notes, and has begun on the New.  Last week I spent three days proofreading the Old Testament notes--Daddy always put his notes into neat, precise outlines--which tally up at 246 pages.

            The New Testament notes will take up even more pages.  I will begin with the notes from Corinthians to Hebrews.  Friday night, Robert and Margaret and their three little girls came visiting, bringing the computer with them.  They set it up for me, and we had a nice visit before they departed.  Shortly thereafter, I hooked up our phone line and programmed Megavision (our Internet server) onto it, since our other computer will do no more than receive and send our E-mail.  It hooks up to the Internet, but it refuses to bring up any Web pages.  And what good does it do to be on the Internet, when you can’t see a solitary thing?!  Dumb ol’ computer.

            Well, I’d no sooner dialed, than I heard that familiar musical chord of “Ta-da!”--telling me I had E-mail.  I quickly checked my ‘mailbox’ to see who in the world would be sending me E-mail at that hour of the night, and discovered it was Seattle Filmworks, with previews of five of my rolls of film I’d sent them Monday!  I could look at all the pictures, enlarge them, turn them (in case they were in vertical position), and even order reprints if I so desired.  Isn’t that neat?

            Unfortunately, Saturday I couldn’t pull those pictures up, or return to Seattle Filmworks’ web site, to save my life.  Teddy finally managed to download my pictures onto a three-and-a-half-inch floppy disk, after which we were able to look at them on the screen; but the resolution on a floppy disk is not very high, and if we made the picture very big, every little square of color showed up in perfect detail, making the picture look extremely grainy unless one stood halfway across the living room to view it.  Bother.  Why can’t these incredible computers ever do what I want them to do?!!

            Part of the trouble is that I’m used to Windows 95, and this computer has the updated Windows 98, which is just enough different to bumfizzle me at times.  And now I hear on the news that the new, fantastically wonderful Windows 2000 will soon be out!  I tell you, I’d like to pull the ‘Registry Problem’ window (that insists on popping up all the time where it doesn’t belong) off my computer screen and pull it right down over Bill Gates’ head so he could wear it like a too-tight necktie, that’s what I’d like to do.

            The man who sometimes sells tools to Larry has his files on a computer in his truck.  Well, one day the computer lost all his customers’ files--including billing, inventory, and all.  The Tool Man solved the problem:  he punched his fist straight through the computer’s hapless, unwitting screen.  (Or did he solve the problem?)

            Yesterday was Joseph’s birthday; he’s fourteen years old.  A couple of weeks ago, he needed a twelve-digit calculator for his algebra class.  He was planning to buy it himself, but we told him we would buy it for him as an early birthday present.  Then, last week, Larry got a die-cast replica of Dale Earnhart’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo, on a 1:24 scale, from the Snap-On tool man (not the one of the smashed-computer infamy).  But today when his birthday arrived, it just didn’t seem like we had quite enough for him.

            Being rather short on funds, I took a trip to the Salvation Army.....and hit pay dirt.  They were having a super-duper sale:  all clothes were $.99 each, except coats, which were half price, and children’s clothes, which were going for three for a dollar.  Shoes were half price, too.  I found all sorts of things for Joseph:  a coat ($2.50); two knit polo shirts; a leather belt ($1.00); a framed oil painting of snow-covered mountains, a lake, and a log cabin which will make a fine addition to the decor in his room ($1.50); a brand-new book of White Fang by Jack London ($.25); a game of Trivial Pursuit ($3.99); three boxes of the game SkipBo (so that all the siblings can play, too) ($1.50 each); and--the coup de e`tat {I have no idea if my French is right or wrong}--a very nice tennis racket inside a zippered case ($3.50).  Just look at all those presents, for only $19.25!  I was entirely pleased with myself, and all the more so when Joseph seemed entirely pleased with his presents.  My mother gave him $$$$ and one of those nifty pocket-pliers that open up and have knives and tools and effects on them, sort of an enhanced Swiss Army knife.

            I bought two brand-new cookbooks for $.75 each.  For the girls, we got several new Janette Oke books, including one hardback.  The former were $.25 each; the latter, $.50.  The paperbacks are usually $7.00, or thereabouts.  I bought four big hardback books on knitting and needlepoint, which I planned to save for Hannah for Christmas; but, unfortunately, I forgot to say so, and Dorcas no sooner carried our box of purchases into the house than Hannah was pawing through it, exclaiming in delight over all the wonderful craft books.  One big knitting book that looked as if the cover had never even been opened still had the original price on the back--$39.95.  As usual, we also got an armload of stuffed animals, all for $.29 each.

            Tuesday was such a lovely day, we ate supper--tacos--at Pawnee Park, the first time we were able to do that this year.  The kids, as usual, brought along footballs, baseballs, softballs, bats, and soft bouncy balls for Victoria and Caleb.  The city has put up new play stations with tunnels and slides and swings and bridges and ladders and poles.  My goodness, it makes me wish I was six again, so I could enjoy them like the littles do!  Oh, well; I can still climb the ladders and go down the slides with Victoria on my lap; and just maybe that’s more fun than being six.

            Saturday Larry, Teddy, and Joseph rode the big four-wheeler (via country roads) to the Headgates (where the Loup Canal begins) by Genoa, about 25 miles west of Columbus, where there are lots of sandy trails especially for four-wheelers and motorcycles.  The paths follow the Loup River, winding around a series of small lakes and tributaries, weaving their way between the cottonwoods and cedars.  They saw lots of birds and waterfowl, and even a big wild turkey, a tom, who maintained his post only about ten feet from the track.

            One day we bought some vertical blinds for the front window of the living room.  Perhaps you’ll recall that I took down the heavy antique satin drapes last December, in the hopes that removing as much fabric fiber as possible would help Hannah with her asthma.  We left the washable lace sheers at the windows.  The trouble was, as the sun came back toward the north as spring progressed, and the weather got hotter, our living room was absolutely sweltering each afternoon.  Also, when I sat at the piano, the sun shone right into my eyes so that I couldn’t see the words on the music in front of me.  Sitting in the recliner to read or sew or do homework during the afternoon was practically impossible, since we could neither see what we were doing, nor bear the heat.  So we bought blinds.

            They are hunter green vinyl to match our new oriental rugs, and made to look like moirĂ© taffeta, while the side facing the window is white, the better to reflect light and heat.  The living room is much more habitable now, and it sure gave it a new look.  I like it.

            Tonight after church, Larry noticed that Victoria seemed too hot.  I took her temperature, and it was 103 degrees!  Poor little sweetie; I hadn’t even noticed anything was wrong with her.  “Does your head hurt?” I asked her.

            “Yes,” she replied, nodding sadly, “and tummy and neck, too.”

            Poor baby!  I gave her some Tylenol, and in about fifteen minutes her temperature had dropped a degree.  She’s sleeping now, and that’s what I had better go do, too!

P.S.S.: Guess what!  I just managed to find my pictures again--in high resolution format--and they are just as good as they were the first time I looked at them!  I even found another roll just recently sent me!  Now.....how in the world did I do that?  And will I ever be able to do it again?

Sunday, April 18, 1999 - What's for Dinner?

             Recently I was reminded of a time when I was with my parents in Wyoming, where there are dust devils by the hundreds.  I’d watched those things swirling madly across the fields many times, their tall, thin columns of dust reaching up into the sky higher than the eye could see, and I’d often wondered just what it would feel like to be in the middle of one.  I imagined it would be something like a merry-go-round, only twice as much fun.

            I was wrong.

            For, you see, I suddenly spotted one not far over the fence at the rest area where we hap­pened to be parked.  Without another thought, I was over the fence and running, till I flung my­self headlong right into the center of that whirlwind.

            Merciful days!  I was all at once being pelted with sand and dirt from all sides, so that I could neither see nor breathe.  It hurt my eyes and stung my skin; in fact, it quite frightened me!  I turned and ran blindly back the way I’d come, and abruptly found myself back in the still, clear air of the high dessert country.  And didn’t my mother have a job, trying to get all that fine silt and topsoil out of my hair, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and clothes!  You can be sure, I didn’t try that again.

             Once, when Larry's brother Kenny was about seven­teen, someone invited him for supper.  He accepted.  Later that day, he received another invita­tion.  (I think Norma had gone with Lyle in his truck for a couple of days.)  Kenny rubbed at his chin consideringly.  “Well, what are you having?” he queried.

            They gave him a rundown of their menu.  He picked up the phone, called the first friend, whom we’ll call ‘Mr. Z’, and asked, “Uh, I was wondering, what were you planning to have for supper?”  They told him.  “Well, never mind, then; I think I’ll go to Mr. and Mrs. X’s house; but thanks anyway!” he finished breezily.

            Mr. Z, of course, was somewhat amazed, having learnt some time hitherto that this was not acceptable etiquette.  On the other hand, it was funny.  Mr. Z set out to tell the story to as many of Kenny’s friends as he could, and, be assured, nobody has ever let him forget it.  That was twenty years ago, mind you; but, to this day, if Kenny invites anybody for dinner, they will be certain to frown thoughtfully, rub their chin, and inquire, “Well, what are you having?” 

            (Yes, oh yes; Kenny’s manners have improved.)

            We have just returned home from attending Kevin and Ann’s wed­ding.  Everything was beautiful.  The ringbearer was my great nephew Jason, one of Caleb’s best friends; and one of the candlelighters was my great niece Jodie.  Keith was the Best Man, and Esther was the Matron of Honor.  I sang Held In His Mighty Arms.

            Victoria has been all excited about this wedding.  “Gonna go get married!” she sing-songed this afternoon while I was dressing her.  “’Cause Victoria’s not sick, this time!” she ended jubilantly.

            I did get those linen napkins done--I completed them Wednesday.  By the way, the reason I didn’t machine-embroider them is because, well ..... I tried.  I put the hoop on, affixed the em­broidery foot to the shank, threaded the machine, ..... and sewed.  The first thing I did was the stem of a columbine.  Up one side with moss green, down the other with dark olive.

            I tell you, it looked exactly as if the Santa Fe had had a fearful derailing on the Burling­ton Northern Rail Line.  Yi.

            So the unscathed part of that linen napkin got itself used for a collar, later in the week, and Wal-Mart sold a certain customer another length of linen, which she turned into a lovely embroidered napkin, along with three others, doing the needlework entirely by hand.  That done, I found a nice big box that could hold all the presents, and carefully arranged them:

            On the right went the big Rubbermaid bowl, and inside it was the double juicer, along with a small box containing three of the ceramic napkin rings.  On the left, I first laid the big Schwan’s Cookbook, on top of which I put tissue paper, and on top of that I arranged three linen napkins just so-so, the better to show off the embroidery.  I tucked the tissue paper all around it, taped it to the box in a few strategic points, and then laid the last napkin and ring on top of the tissue, spreading the napkin into a fan shape, and using tape underneath to hold it perfectly in place.  Now, I worried, what would happen if the box got upended?  Sure as anything, that heavy cookbook would rip right through the tissue paper, and everything would get totally disarranged and disordered and disorganized.  So I stuffed the box full of 3,540,952 wadded-up plastic gro­cery bags.

            There.  It was ready to wrap.  I got out some shiny silver paper, and carefully taped it to the box.  On top, I attached three big bows--purple, silver, and white.  I fastened down the card and stood back to survey the fine job I had done.

            Then I hurriedly stepped forward and felt of the edges of the box.

            Sure enough.  I’d wrapped that box upside down.  Bother!  Anyway, let’s hope all those plastic bags held things in place.

            One night last week, Keith and Esther came visiting.  Larry and Teddy rushed off to the grocery store for ice cream, coming back home practically drooling all the way; you see, they had found a new flavor:  blueberry waffle.  MMmmmmm!, was that ever good.  I like fruit and crunchy things in ice cream.

            Did you get your tax returns mailed in on time?  I’ll tell you what’s disgusting:  it’s when you work hard to get your tax work done early--I finished all mine in early February--only to have the CPA drag his heels until the day before the deadline.  I took to calling him once or twice a day, and he hurriedly completed the papers, as much to get me out of his hair than for any other reason, I expect.  Remember the unjust judge of Luke 18?  A widow asked him, “Avenge me of mine adversary.”  He would not for a while:  but afterward he said within him­self, “Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”  So that’s what I did.  We have a small refund coming, more than half of which went to pay the accountant.  But that’s better than hav­ing to pay, at least!

            Wednesday it sleeted and rained and hailed, and the wind blew like everything.  Victoria and Caleb stuck their arms out the door to feel the large pieces of sleet pelting down, and squealed and laughed because it tickled the palms of their hands.  Later that night, it snowed, but not enough to stick for long.

            Wednesday afternoon, I cut out two dresses of pink- and rose-flowered linen, one for Hannah, and one for her cousin and classmate, Colleen, daughter of Arthur, Larry’s cousin who has cancer.  The dresses are for the Spring Program, when the Seniors will receive their diplomas.  All of them graduated mid-term, but the real ceremony comes at the Spring Program.  Colleen’s dress is done now, and Hannah’s is about half done.  Their classmate, Joy Osterhoudt, gave them the material for their graduation gift, and she kept some for herself, too.

            One evening Larry bought a pretty oak nightstand for Teddy, who has been a wee bit short of furniture since Keith moved out.  It was unassembled, so Teddy had to put it together.  He proceeded to do this in the middle of the living room floor, which intrigued Victoria no end.  “Pound here,” she periodically instructed her brother, pointing a little finger at some certain spot, invariably a spot where pounding would definitely not be recommended.  But she did prove positively helpful when Teddy lost a small screw, and couldn’t find it anywhere.  It took him a minute or two before he realized she was patiently tapping on it with that same little finger, camouflaged as it was on the oriental rug, and telling him in her low-pitched voice, “Heeee it is, Teddy, heeee it is.”

            Caleb made good use of the box the nightstand had come in by converting it into a car garage.

            Report cards came out last week, and all the children’s were good.  Lydia’s and Caleb’s, per predictionere, were perfect.

            Thursday Teddy brought home from school a CD-ROM on Normandy, and other battles fought during World War II.  Between watching that documentary and film, and reading Corrie ten Boom’s books, and no doubt hearing and reading about the war in Yugoslavia, my interest in World War II was reawakened.  I pulled a thick, hard-cover book out of my bookcase, a book that I’d gotten at a garage sale last summer for about ten cents, and which I hadn’t read yet:  World War II, compiled by The Reader’s Digest.  I opened it, stuck my nose in, ..... and could hardly remove it to fix supper and Keep Kare O’ Kids.  As soon as the last child headed off to bed, I inserted my nose right back into that book.  And I didn’t pull it back out until I’d read the entire book, some time after the sun came up.  Mind you, I didn’t mean to read all night long; I just accidentally did.  Couldn’t help it; nope, couldn’t help it at all.

            War is an awful thing.  But if we are going to fight, we should pull out all the stops and really fight, no holds barred, for the cause of right.

            We drove to Norfolk Friday night.  I turn around every now and then to see what’s going on in the back of the Suburban, most of the time trying to see what’s so uproariously funny.  Silly kids.

            We went to Norfolk’s Wal-Mart Supercenter to get a few sewing supplies not to be found in Columbus.  Also, Joseph needed shoes for church.  We wound up getting him some black dress boots, and then we discovered a sale on girls’ winter dress shoes, so we got burgundy shoes for Hester and Lydia for next Christmas, and bright red for Victoria, a pair for Christmas, and a pair that fits right now, since all little girls need a pair of red shoes.  (Don’t they?)  I hope I guessed right; how do you foretell what size a child’s foot will be eight months from now?  Hmmm.

            Today we went for a drive through Loup Park, alongside Lakes Babcock and North.  We drove slowly, watching Canada geese and American coots.  It was a lovely day, and our windows were down.  “Listen, Mama!” exclaimed Caleb.  “The chickadees are dee-deeing like anything!”

            And they were.  I took several pictures of them as they flitted from cattail to cattail, jerking seeds from the burst tops, and discarding of the feathery cotton.

            We went to see the Sandhill cranes earlier this month.  Beside a large field with a big flock of cranes, we parked, and Larry went sneaking off through a drainage ditch to get a closer shot.  He had my new camera; I took his picture with my old one with the 100-300mm zoom lens.  I made the children promise not to tell their father that I’d taken his picture, and they did manage to keep the secret; but they nearly popped with impatience, waiting until we got the pictures back.

            He got several excellent pictures as he crouched, facing south toward the Platte River.  Then, thinking he was hearing some of the big birds making their trilling call in the field directly behind him, he stood and turned around, camera at the ready.  The rest of us, sitting in the Sub­urban, had been unable to see him until then.....and the same went for the Sandhill cranes in the southern field.

            Their heads shot up, they trilled in alarm, and took flight in unison.  Larry stood still, facing north, craning his neck, looking this way and that, searching for the source of all the commotion, while directly behind him the field seeming to be exploding with birds.  The littles went into peals of laughter, their merriment escalating when Larry suddenly realized where those noisy cranes were, whirled around, and started snapping off shots.
            Now I’d better hit the feathers, myself, so I can finish Hannah’s dress tomorrow.  Then, before I start the mending or the Fourth-of-July clothes, I need to proof-read all of Daddy’s Old Testament sermon notes, which my nieces have just finished typing.  They are now working on the New Testament.  There will be over 500 pages when they are done, and they are storing it all on computer.  What a wonderful keepsake!  What a heritage we have, in all the things we were taught by my father.  I regret that we don’t have more recordings of his sermons.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday, April 12, 1999 - Cinnamon Rolls, Embroidering, and How to Sew One's Self into One's Dress

            Last Monday when Larry arrived in Loveland, Colorado, where he was to deliver the 1957 Chevrolet he’d hauled there on his slant trailer, he discovered, of all things, that the people to whom he was delivering the vehicle were former schoolmates of ours from high school!  Small world, yes?

            After retrieving some vehicles at Lincoln Auto of Denver Tuesday, Larry got home about 11:15 p.m.  Earlier that evening, Lawrence and Norma brought us a batch of cookies baked by Katie and Danielle.  They were made of fine-blended oats and chopped Hershey bars, among other things.  Yummy!

            Thursday night while I was in Jr. Choir, Norma brought us a pan full of just-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls.  Is she trying to fatten us up, do you think?  And then I couldn’t help my­self; I had to buy a big jar of honey-roasted peanuts the next time I was at the store.  Only Planters brand will do, for me.  And then do you know what I did?  I actually hid it in the cupboard, so that Hannah and I could snack on them after all the younger children went to bed!  Is that greedy and devious, or what?

            I’ve been feeling rather guilty about it, though; I suppose I’ll have to buy another jar of them, and divide them up evenly amongst everybody.

            Did I ever tell you that Larry's cousin Arthur had colon cancer?  Well, several months ago, after a series of surgeries and treatments, we were all happy to hear that the cancer seemed to be gone.  However, he hasn’t really recovered well.  Tuesday the doctors discovered cancer in his liver, extensive enough that operating on it isn’t possible.  His prognosis is not good, I’m afraid.  He’s only 44 years old, and his youngest daughter is 13.

            I’ve been spending every minute I can find embroidering a cluster of three col­umbines on four linen napkins, which I am hoping to give to Kevin and Ann, who will be married next week.  I got a big, lidded Rubber­maid bowl, a hand juicer, and a cookbook for them, too; so, just in case I don’t get done, I still have enough gifts, I think.  Hannah finished the doily she was making for them; it has a dozen small pineapples around the center, and a dozen large pineapples making outward points all around the outside.  She pressed it and lightly starched it, and it’s quite beautiful.

            Dorcas has been crocheting a pretty white blanket, and now she is putting a wide mint green ruffle all the way around.  When that is done, she’ll put a narrower ruffle of white on top of the green one, and weave a ribbon all around the edge, with bows and ribbon roses at each corner.

            Wednesday when I was getting ready for church, I put on a new plum and teal flowered dress I’d gotten at the Goodwill in Grand Island.  It had a large bow at the neck, the ends of which kept lopping over every which way.  I quickly threaded a needle and made a small stitch at either end of the bow, tacking it neatly to the dress.  So everything was fine and dandy.....until it was time to take it back off again.  You see, the dress but­tons up the front, and I’d tacked that bow down on either side of the placket.  Guess what happens when you try to take a dress off after doing such a thing?

            Right.  You’re stuck.

            Bother; haven’t I learned anything after all these years of sewing?!

            Bobby gave Hannah a 70-300mm lens for her new Canon camera, and a humon­gous case to go with it.  I took a good look at it.  “Of all the nerve!” I said to Bobby, “That case is bigger than mine!”  I shook my head.  “The first guy never wins.”

            Bobby just laughed.  Hannah used her new lens Easter Sunday, and she got a lot of excellent pictures.

            Every time I tuck Victoria into bed, naptime or bedtime, I tell her, “I love you!” as I close the door.  Well, one evening, I tucked her into her bed, then spent a moment or two turning on her fan and checking the thermostat on her little heater.  Evidently I took too long to give her my usual declaration, for she suddenly sang out, “Ni-night!  I love me!”

            The following afternoon, I duplicated my actions of the previous day, wondering what the child would say this time.  Then, she chirped happily, “Ni-night!  Jesus loves me!”

            Larry is somewhat like Dagwood, liking to take naps at bedtime, as opposed to actually getting ready for and going to bed; and somewhat like a large, friendly puppy, liking to take these naps at the location nearest to wherever Hannah and I are working, sewing, crocheting, doing bookwork, typing, and so forth.  Well, the other night when I was ready to go to bed, I tried rousing Larry, who was sleeping on the couch.  I patted his shoulder.  “Larry!” I said, “Go take a shower and get ready for bed!”

            He lifted his head a bit and stared at me without a great deal of recognition.  Then he flopped back down, waving a hand vaguely in the direction of the computer.  “Can’t,” he informed me.  “I tried to run ‘Shower’ a little bit ago, but it refused to take the pro­gram.”  And he shut his eyes and took a slow, deep breath.

            Saturday Keith came to get his mower.  The littles greeted him at the front door with much boisterous gladness, especially after they discovered that he’d brought us a box of chocolate chip cookies he’d made himself.  “I taught him well,” I told his siblings, chewing my way through a soft, warm cookie.  “These are good!”

            I was planning to spend Saturday afternoon and evening cooking and baking for Sunday’s dinner, when Bobby, Keith, and Esther would be coming, but it suddenly oc­curred to Dorcas that her thesis on Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch woman who, with her fam­ily, provided hiding places for the Jews during World War II, was due on Monday.  And I’d promised to type it for her.  So I wound up staying up half the night Saturday typing the report, and most of the night last night printing it out and completing the typing of the Bibliography.  Also, since there were a few things in the rough draft that were not well-connected, I wound up reading almost one entire book, The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom, so that I could figure out how to write some of the report.  Corrie ten Boom and her family were eventually betrayed, arrested, and taken to prison.  From there, they were taken to a concentration camp in the middle of Germany.  Her father died only ten days after the arrest, and her sister died in the camp in Germany.  A brother died later, after his release, from the mistreatment he’d received while at one of the camps.

            Some time after Corrie was released, she learned that her release was carried through because of a case of mistaken identity--she’d been slated for execution, along with all the women her age, the very next week.  98,000 women died at that concentra­tion camp, Ravensbruck, there in Germany.  Isn’t that awful?  Corrie ten Boom wrote several books before her death in 1975 at the age of 91.

            Now, I’d better get back to the embroidery; the wedding is next Sunday!