Monday, February 28, 2005

Couldn't resist

Saw this format on Josh's recent blog while I had just been wondering what I wanted to blog about and I couldn't resist. So here goes:

TEN Random Things About Me:

1o) This is like very random so I hope no one really believes this blog is all there is to me.
o9) I worry about those kinds of things too much.
o8) I have a need to write.
07) I love to sing by myself.
o6) I like to whistle.
o5) I like to hum.
o4) I whistle while driving sometimes and wonder if I look silly to other motorists.
o3) I love to swim, but can't do the butterfly to save my life.
o2) I feel very comfortable writing randomness.
o1) I search extensively for just the perfect quote sometimes.
Like this one: "Wit, eloquence, and poetry,
Arts which I lov'd." -Cowley

NINE Significant/Favorite Places I've Visited:
(Ditto some of Josh's)
o9) Big Bend National Park
o8) Kokomo, Indiana
o7) England
o6) Niagara Falls (the Canadian side)
o5) The Grand Canyon
o4) Scotland
o3) the coast of Maine
o2) the peak of Pikes' Peak (except I was rather ill at the time) #P
o1) the pines of East Texas

EIGHT Things I Want To Do Before I Die
o8) Finish my cross-stitch picture
o7) Go scuba-diving near a tropical coral reef
o6) See a school of wild dolphins playing up close
o5) Hear a full orchestra and boy's choir, in Vienna or somewhere, in a cathedral.
o4) Learn to whistle like Jordan.
o3) Spoil my grandkids, and watch Chili spoil them.
o2) Visit a real opera house and watch an opera. (If I can convince Chili to go.)
o1) Paint oil on canvas without reserve just to see what comes out.

SEVEN Ways to Win my Heart.
o7) Don't smoke cigarettes around me.
o6) Laugh at your own mistakes.
o5) Notice the little people.
o4) Have a soft spot for puppies and kittens.
o3) Watch old movies with me.
o2) Know it's okay to be around me and just be quiet.
o1) Be grafted into Christ and let us grow together.

SIX Things I Believe In
o6) Determination
o5) Loyalty
o4) Civility
o3) Electricity
o2) Eternity
o1) God

FIVE Things I'm Afraid Of
o5) The dark
o4) Snakes
o3) Answering random things about myself on these type questionnaires.
o2) Going too long without chocolate-covered-raisins.
o1) Disappointing those I care about.

FOUR of my Favorite Items in my Bedroom
o4) My bed - duh!
o3) My exercise bike.
o2) My computer.
o1) One of my favorite quote books.

THREE Things I Do Everyday
o3) Hug my kids.
o2) Brush my teeth.
o1) Yawn.

TWO Things I'm Trying Not to do Right Now
o2) Be boring and trite.
o1) Slouch.

ONE Person I Want to See Right Now
o1) My son.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Skatin' and swimmin'

Here's another video clip. This time we have Ben doing an ollie on his skateboard. He wants you to know that this is the "before" clip. As his height increases, we'll tape him again to keep you posted on his progress.

Other news. I'll soon be adding swimming lessons to my weekly routine. Rob paved the way for me. He met the director about mission business and it happened to come up that his wife used to be a certified swimming instructor and likes to teach. That practically cinched it since they are in great need for mature, dependable instructors. So a couple of days ago I met with the YMCA director and the head pool lady, and didn't talk much at all, I just listened. They were both very excited and eager. (So, Abbey, this method of job interviewing works well if your looking for a very low hour, low paying job.) :+D Yesterday, I assisted in the pool so I could learn the ropes (pun intended). Besides getting chilled after being in the water two hours, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Especially the part about encouraging the little floaters and bubblers. Little time commitment, lots of fun.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The t.p. mystery

Upon waking at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning and peering sleepily out our living room window what do you suppose I saw dancing up in the trees?

Why toilet paper, of course!

As I later found out, I was gazing upon over 100 rolls glistening in the dazzling street lights. How did this profuse display of brilliance come to nestle among the branches of our trees? you ask. I would have concluded that a passing benevolent band of Canadian geese accidentally dropped their ... shall we say, personal papers ... on our trees if it hadn't been for our vigilant neighbor who spotted the culprits in the very act from 2:30 to 3:30. She observed three young males of various builds who boldly launched their unraveling rockets into the boughs of our trees in the light of their headlights. So this t.p. was deposited from below, not from above as I first suspected. The information provided by this witness was not conclusive enough to convict, but we have our ideas.

Here's a photo of their handiwork as seen in the morning light. We spent much of the morning improving our skills in t.p. removal. This line of work comes with it's own set of problems since it is quite a tricky business. One slightly wrong flick of the wrist will leave most of the t.p. waving down at you from on high.

No time to dilly-dally. The kids' string ensemble performance commenced at 1:00, and the music director, himself, would arrive at our house soon to pick up his daughter, Katie, who happened to be spending the night with us. Katie, the dear, jumped right in with the rest of us to clean up the mess.

I, being of sound mind, do report that the concert was outstanding, and you can trust my unbiased report even though I had two daughters and a son performing in it. You would have been amazed at the number of difficult pieces that were tackled and pulled off - royally! Such is the reward for attempting to play the more difficult great classical pieces - the gratifying sense of accomplishment one gets when one does a job well.

Now it's Tuesday and I'm penciling this blog while my English class is writing their timed essay. Finals week is here marking the end of the trimester. Two eleven week trimesters are gone putting us only a third of the year away from the end. Oh I have so much more I'd like to teach my students before summer cuts me off. ::sigh::

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Let's try a video clip

My husband completed his first week as night chaplain at the Rescue Mission. Seeing his growing attachment to these men, reminds me that the Lord long ago planted the seed of a pastor in Robert's heart. He comes home with the same sparkle in his eyes that I've seen at other times when the Lord has led his steps down the path of ministry. Along with the everyday stories, he relates the men's great need for a Savior. Just the hope that the Lord would choose to pluck some of these men out of the fire causes him to carrying in his heart a great responsibility for their souls. To have the opportunity to bring glory to Christ among these men who find themselves at such a point of great need brings Rob fresh inspiration. Thanks be to our great God who so wonderfully orchestrates our lives!

Now that we're on the subject of orchestration, Candace, Amy, and Ben had a dress rehearsal last night with the homeschool string ensemble. (Although, I think all the players put much more effort into the rehearsing rather than the dressing.) Nevertheless, they sounded awfully good - the way you want to sound the night before the performance.

Here is a picture I took of the practice last night.

And for those of you who have Windows Media Player, here's a short video of them practicing. My little camera only records video and not sound so you won't be able to hear them, but trust me, they sounded great!

Please give me some feedback to know whether the video clip works on your computer. : O)

Thursday, February 17, 2005

A night-owl rediscovered

Back on the bike going nowhere.

Tuesday goes like this: I teach a two section class of college-prep English, then sit in on devotions, then attend Hebrew class as a scribe (that is, I scribble), then teach a 45-min. Latin class, then break away at lunch time to truck home and eat, then take Candace to college, then grade essays and Latin quizzes, then whisk my students' papers back to them right as school lets out.

In English we are just starting to work on an abridged Shakespeare play, Twelfth Night. Amy abridged it for us. The kids are excited and rightly so because it's a real hoot. The real hoot comes after they get their parts down and get to act it out. Every high schooler could do with a little Shakespeare, says me.

Closer to home (and not so close to home), I have sent the first two English students ever I taught into the college world - and they both decided to add their voice to the long line of great journalists. Josh and Candace, I'm proud, real proud. ::her head tilts back as she swells a bit::

One can't help but notice how she conveniently took all the credit.

Who said that?

... I must be hearing voices ...

Amy, our resident author/poet, entered the dining room yesterday just as I was doing paperwork, and in my search for inspiration and escape from the mundane, I was simultaneously steaming cauliflower and listening to jazz (both art forms which she utterly despises). As she walked about wrinkling her forehead and delicately holding her nose, I couldn't restrain the sudden outburst of laughter that came over me. I told her that she must have done something terribly bad indeed to deserve this punishment. My sides split, I laughed so hard at the sight. I guess you would of had to have been there. (We verbalize the previous phrase all the time, but in print it looks horribly awkward.)

Coming to the close, I realize that it is now around 10 p.m. and I sit happily typing away. My husband will be home in an hour, and I still have a few things I want to do before he appears. I like this time of night. He met and married a night owl, and since then I have reformed to appreciate the finer benefits of being an early bird, but given the chance, I can still revel in the quiet beauty and serenity of the night.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A Finnish and Ethiopian Alliance

Monday's here. Back at Vladimir's for Benny's cello lesson. Benny said on the way over that he might take up cello teaching someday so he could drive kids crazy, too. "An admirable service," I replied.

Last week brought an answer to prayer. Robert was hired as the new night chaplain at the Kokomo Rescue Mission. We can finally breath a little easier. And to get paid to do something you love to do is sweet! He has a knack for working around needy people. Other jobs he's had in the past has prepared him to work with these guys - jobs like working at the prison as a prison guard and later a preacher, working at the state hospital, working at a home for troubled boys (and two different homes for troubled girls), and then just working in the regular work world. Beyond those experiences, he has a deep seeded tendency to connect with outsiders. I tend to be that way, too.

Now, he'll be quite busy as the teacher of two daytime college classes and three SCA high school classes, and the student of one Greek class. He'll work at the Mission from 3 to 11 p.m. five days a week. Please pray for him as he adjusts to staying up a little later. (All you who know my husband, know that he is an early-to-bed-early-to-rise kind of guy!)

Canny made it back from the Gethsemene Challenge weekend. A profitable experience for all, I heard.

Josh called Sunday night and we had a nice visit. I look forward to our phone conversations every weekend. Couldn't make it without them.

Rob preached twice on Sunday. The morning service was out of town in Elkhart again so the day seemed rather hectic, but something to which veteran preachers are accustomed, I'm sure.

One particular part of the day to mention was the lunch we ate in the home of Fik and Ritva Menbere. Fik was born in Ethiopia and Ritva was born in Finland - two opposite places as far as the climate goes. Fik's homeland is nestled among mountains 10,000 feet high not far from the Red Sea. (He showed us where it was on a map.) Such an ancient land. Ritva's homeland is 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Brrrrrrr! She said that kids there play outside no matter what the weather - rain or snow - it makes no difference, they're out there! Fik and Ritva met on a huge ship that sailed around the world distributing Gospel literature. Fascinating people!

But to me the most special part of our visit came when I saw the zeal the Menberes have for seeing the kingdom of Christ advance. They not only have a heart for it, but live their lives to this end. Very encouraging and exciting!

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Less bloggy circumstances

Took Candace to meet other junior and senior high school students yesterday. They are driving to Indianapolis to get together for the annual prayer and fasting retreat called the Gethsemane Challenge. Candace, Bethany, Jamey, and Aaron are going from our congregation. The main speaker will be Pastor Gordon Keddie. I don't even think of Candace being in high school much anymore. That's probably because she takes college classes and she had recently attended the college retreat. She says she's getting the best of both worlds this year - I agree. I have fond memories of my senior year - it was similar to hers in its fast pace and spiritual growth. Lord bless her.

Candace and I have a special early morning routine. She slips in my room every week day at 5:45 a.m. and gently shakes my shoulder so as not to bother her dad. I reach for my slippers, we make green tea, then we go to our separate devotional places. (I like to go in the pantry behind the fridge where it's WARM!)

Wednesday, Robert rose earlier than the rest of us because he traveled to Marion to an early morning men's prayer meeting.

Played volleyball last night with Amy and the gang. Amy's skills are improving. I told her that it just takes time and much repetition to get the hang of it. There are a lot of skills to master. Like when you bound forward to spike the ball, it requires timing to know if you need to go ahead and spike it, or dink it, or stay back and bump it over. (I love the verbs of volleyball.) She's coming along nicely. She'll participate in a volleyball clinic in March which will meet twice a week in the evenings. Everyone says that the clinic is an excellent opportunity to make great progress in one's skills. I'm glad Amy can go.

Now on to some random thoughts. I've been thinking about civility lately. At present, we don't seem to have much of it. I grew up in the midst of what I believe was a slice of a typical high society Southern city circle. My unique perspective was drawn back to an even earlier generation due to the fact that we were raised predominantly by our grandmother who moved among a circle of friends and acquaintances whose lives had been molded by the Great Depression and had emerged to live in the prosperous '40s and '50s. Civility ran high. I experienced the final phase of this fading civility in the '60s which was still preserved among these ladies and gentlemen while the world all around them rapidly fell apart. Some day I'll try to write more about the times grandmother dressed me in formal ware just to serve the ladies tea, or the extent of her expectations of our dinner table etiquette, or how her precise instruction in the proper use of the English language profoundly affected me. But for now I'll get to the point I've been aiming for. (Grandmother, forgive me for that dangling preposition.)

I've been wondering lately with questions running through my mind:
"Is civility relevant today?"
"If so, to what degree. I mean, is it so vital that we need it to coexist?"
"Is real communication possible without civility or is it just a antique shallow gesture?"
I'm not sure of the answers, but I have some thoughts.

By being civil to others, I mean doing things like listening. Listening is not only polite, I think it's necessary. How can we hope to have relationships without really listening? And I don't mean the kind of listening where one person stares at the other while keeping the mouth shut and occasionally nodding the head. I mean the kind of listening where our minds aren't simply clutching our own thoughts while refusing to listen with an open mind.

I realize we live in a world filled with the absolutes of God. I'm not speaking of having a mind that wanders beyond the scope of God's world (as if that were possible anyway.) We can still listen better, because I think we can learn much from those who have opposing views. Christians, of all people, should work at being able to identify the sides of opposing arguments. Not only are we responsible to know what we believe, we are also responsible to know what we do not believe. And we should able to express the whys. How can we properly do this unless we really listen? It's the only civil thing to do.

But just listen to me. I make it sound as if I go around being so genteel all the time. I don't. In fact, I can be down right beasty. Still, even though I don't claim to be an expert of this type of listening, it continues to be my goal. Elusive at times, but attempted none the less.

Let me share some favorite examples of civility - a positive one and a negative one.

I read somewhere that when Winston Churchill dispatched a letter to the Japanese Ambassador announcing that a state of war existed between England and Japan, he ended the letter with these words:

"I have the honour to be, with high consideration, Sir, Your obedient servant, Winston S. Churchill"

That sure was a polite way to address your enemy.

Churchill commented in his wartime memoirs that “Some people did not like this ceremonial style. But after all when you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite.” Showing us that even in extreme circumstances one can be civil.

Lord Chesterfield related the following story about the uncivilized behavior of some people:

"Many people come into company full of what they intend to say in it themselves, without the least regard to others; and thus charged up to the muzzle are resolved to let it off at any rate. I knew a man who had a story about a gun, which he thought a good one, and that he told it very well. He tried all means in the world to turn the conversation upon guns; but, if he failed in his attempt, he started in his chair, and said he heard a gun fired; but when the company assured him they heard no such thing, he answered, perhaps then I was mistaken; but, however, since we are talking of guns— and then told his story, to the great indignation of the company."

So you're thinking, "Well, isn't blogging a form of allowing one to ramble on a favorite subject 'til the end of time without any sense of civility to others?" ::scratches head:: Well, I suppose you're right. I guess I was thinking about civility in less bloggy circumstances. :-D

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Stamping, feasting, beaming, and waiting

(I wrote this early this morning and am just now posting it.)

Snowed again last night - always nice to wake up to a smooth layer of snow on the ground. It's snowing right now. I could just sit here and watch it all day, but I have much on the to-do list today.

Just want to spend a few minutes catching up on old business.

Let's see - a few days ago Amy and I went to our first stamping. What's a stamping you say? It's like a Tupperware party only it's for learning how to use and assemble material for making homemade cards. Thank you cards, friendship cards, invitations and such. This party only highlighted the fact that I'm not too creative in the coming-up-with-new-ideas-and-making-them-into-something department. No matter, I like hanging out with other people who are. Maybe some of their creativity will rub off on me - you never can tell.

Last week while I was making my weekly menu and preparing to shop, the girls and I focused on some dishes I haven't cooked in a long time, and from that, a plan for a grand Chinese meal was hatched. We purchased all the ingredients which included many strange items in the fresh produce section of the store and went home to made a mighty meal. The preparation took about an hour and a half with all three of us working feverishly. The jambox played classical pieces for inspiration, the knife keeping rhythm. There were wontons to assemble for the soup and wontons to roll for the deep hot oil. The rice warming in the cooker was dotted with green onions, fried eggs and other colorful fare. The stir fry in the wok somehow changed food that one would never eat into culinary delights - pea pods, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots. The kitchen smelled of freshly grated gingeroot and shrimp from a can. All was ready, including the languishing appetites. The horseradish sauce could have used a little more heat and the sweet and sour sauce could have been a little thicker, but I heard no complaints - only crunching and the occasional appreciative, "Ummm."

Last night was a special night for me. Two of my English students were awarded first and second place in a high school essay contest. The contest was sponsored by the Daughters of American Revolution (DAR). Jamey York, our pastor's son, won first place, and our own, Amy, won second place. They both read their essays in front of the assembly. Beaming with pride for both of them, I enjoyed every moment of it. Well, almost every moment. The meeting for the DAR chapter droned on a little long. But hey, what can I say? We were a part of their meeting. Once again, I got my husband to agree to a late night excursion. We accepted an invitation to dessert with the Yorks AFTER the meeting. We didn't get to the Yorks until 9:15 and arrived home about an hour later. Now you're up to date on the late night report. Hee, hee, hee!

I allowed myself a certain amount of time to blog for this entry and time is almost up, but I want to part with this thought. We always tend to write about the exciting, fun activities - well and good - but I want to end with a reality which is more ever-present in my life and much more profitable than all the activities above. The reality of waiting. The Lord has had me in a holding pattern of late. In certain important areas of my life and in the lives of some very dear to me, I have been made to wait. Oh, this is hard. It weighs heavy and I often squirm under it, but it remains. Ever present, always in the background and frequently in the foreground, I must live with it. I'd rather not be waiting, but I am. That's why a verse I read in my private devotions this morning leaped into my heart. Psalm 40:1 says, "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry." May it be so, Lord. May it be so.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Measured aspirations

A friend of mine, the mother of Feanor and Quirky, (Does that sound like the mother of Frankenstein and Quadzilla - well, not really).

... Let me start again. A friend of mine always wants to know how I find the time to blog. Well, right now I'm sitting in Vladimir Zuckerman's house listening to a cello lesson while I peck away on my trusty laptop. I rode my exercise bike earlier this morning but opted to study my Hebrew vocabulary instead of blogging.

Recently I did something I haven't done in ages - played my guitar. After going though a few old songs and thinking of many more I would have liked to play, my poor little fingertips wore slap out. Just makes me want to play again soon. One definitely has to put in the time to toughen up the ol' fingertips.

Sitting here listening to the same music measure repeated over and over and over again reminds me of all my kid's music teachers. I consider myself to be one of the foremost experts on music teachers and their different methods of teaching. I mean, heck, I could teach anyone cello or violin if I didn't have to play the darn thing.

What kind of method would you like to learn? How about one of the European methods? I am familiar with two of them - the Russian or the Bulgarian. In the Russian method, you must be willing to play the same measure over and over and over again. In the Bulgarian method, you must discover and let loose your most lucid musical expression by aspiring the sound of a goat. (Don't ask, it's a Bulgarian thing.) Or perhaps you would prefer learning the Japanese method. ::embarrassed pause:: Well, no - I'm sorry, that method won't work for you since you're older than two and still not a child prodigy. But don't worry, the American method may be your cup of tea. My only promise with that one is that I will have you playing like Joshua Bell in no time. He's from Indiana, you know. And since I reside in the same great state of his childhood, some of his greatness has rubbed off on me. So there you go.

Thus are my aspirations of being a string teacher - or maybe - thus are my irritations of re-hearing the same measure.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Latin poetry

My students had learned their Latin vocabulary. They were ready. Yesterday, I finally read them the macaronic poem, Carmen Possum. I love this poem. You don't even have to be proficient with languages to appreciate this one. (Although it helps to know a little English, I guess.) Loads of fun. Here it is:

Carmen Possum

The Nox was lit by lux of Luna
And 'twas a nox most opportuna
To catch a possum or a coona;
For nix was scattered o'er this mundus,
A shallow nix, et non profundus.
On sic a nox with canis unus.
Two boys went out to hunt for coonus.
The corpus of this bonus canis
Was full as long as octo span is
But brevior legs had canis never
Quam bad hic dog; et bonus clever.
Some used to say, in stultum jocum
Quod a field was too small locum
For sic a dog to make a turnus
Circum self from stem to sternus
Unis canis,duo puer,
Nunquam braver, nunquam truer
Quam hoc trio nunquam fuit
If there was I never knew it.
This bonus dog had one bad habit.
Amabat much to tree a rabbit,
Amabat plus to chase a rattus,
Amabat bene tree a cattus.
But on this nixy moonlight night
This old canus did just right.
Nunquam treed a starving rattus,
Nunquam chased a starving cattus,
But succurrit on intentus
On the track and on the scentum
Till he trees a possum strongum
In a hollow trunkum longum
Loud he barked an horrid bellum
Seemed on terra vehit pellum
Quickly ran the duo puer
Mors of possum to secure
Quam venerit, one began
To chop away like quisque man
Soon the axe went through the truncum
Soon he hit it all kerchunkum
Combat deepens, on ye braves!
Canis, pueri et staves
As his powers non longius carry
Possum potest, non pugnare
On the nix his corpus lieth
Down to Hades spirit flieth
Joyful pueri, canis bonus,
Think him dead as any stonus
Now they seek their pater's domo
Feeling proud as any homo
Knowing, certe, they will blossom
Into heroes, when with possum
They arrive, narrabunt story
Plenus blood et plenior glory
Pompey, David, Samson, Caesar
Cyrus, Black Hawk, Shalmanezer!
Tell me where est now the gloria
Where the honors of victoria?
Nunc a domum narrent story
Plenus sanguine, tragic, gory
Pater praiseth, likewise mater
Wonders greatly younger frater
Possum leave they on the mundus
Go themselves to sleep profundus
Somniunt possums slain in battle
Strong as ursae, large as cattle
When nox gives way to lux of morning
Albam terram much adorning
Up they jump to see the varmen
Of the which this is the carmen
Lo! possum est resurrectum
Ecce pueri dejectum
Ne relinquit back behind him
Et the pueri never find him
Cruel possum! bestia vilest
How the pueros thou beguiles
Pueri think non plus of Caesar
Go ad Orcum, Shalmanezer
Take your laurels, cum the honor
Since ista possum is a goner!