Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I've decided to take a hiatus from the blog. A really great blog gets updated daily, or at least several times a week, and I am not quite narcissistic enough to think that the world is waiting breathlessly to know what I've been up to or have been thinking. I also think photos punch it up a notch, and frankly, I'm too lazy to keep it fresh. So, I will be taking a break until I find myself motivated to make meaningful posts.

Made a quick trip back to Iowa last week to help The Iowa Orphan celebrate his birthday. While driving to Iowa City on roads that could be driven unconsciously because of their familiarity, I had the thought, "I know I'm driving North...but in Tennessee I'd be going South." My inner gyroscope or compass or whatever it is, has been permanently ruined. I will be lost to the cardinal directions (or is that ordinal?) forevermore. Sigh!

Have been snubbed by the local pet shelter as a volunteer, and only recently received a reply from the local elementary school in response to my offer to volunteer, so I can only assume that God has something else up His sleeve. Makes me laugh, because pet shelters will generally take anyone who breathes. I figure they lost my paperwork. Regardless, I'm eager to see what's around the corner. God is always leading somewhere. The verses I'm memorizing are from Isaiah 43:18-19, "Do not call to mind the former things or ponder things of the past. Behold, I am doing something new! Now it springs forth. Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." Good stuff - keeps my heart in the right place.

Reading John Piper's Don't Waste Your Life. Well worth it.
Cheers to all!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

God is kind to idiots...

I've read about people who have done this kind of thing, and wondered how in the heck they could make that kind of mistake. And now, I've done it, and I understand.

Saturday I did some hair cutting, and since it had been a long time since I'd used the clippers, I responsibly oiled them up. I left the little bottle of appliance oil on the bathroom counter and failed to put it away with the rest of the equipment when I was finished. Fast forward to last night just before bedtime, when my eyes were feeling a little dry from being in a house with fans running all day. Yep. I did it. Grabbed the appliance oil instead of the bottle of eye drops and plunked a drop in each eye. (Never mind one has a black lid and the other is white.) No burning, but my vision surely got foggy in a hurry.

It took me a moment to realize what I'd done, and then I started flushing my eyes with water. Then, thinking that oil and water don't mix anyway, I began gently wiping the white part of my eyes to remove the oil, which actually was productive. (Don't tell my ophthalmologist, but I put a drop of vegetable oil in each eye to dilute the other oil before I called him. It worked fine.) Anyway, he wasn't too shook up about the whole thing and said it was fortunate that it wasn't an acid or base that would cause burns. Said my eyes would be more swollen because I'd flushed them than because of the oil - take 2 Tylenol before I went to bed.

God is kind. Eyes were fine this morning, and the skin around my eyes was nicely soft and supple. So glad it wasn't SuperGlue. Now that would have been a problem!

Monday, July 11, 2011


 4 years old with some of my sibs
Yes, it's 9:00 in the morning and I am through with my work in the kitchen for the day...maybe for the week. It's already 90 degrees, so I browned a couple of pounds each of ground beef and ground turkey, boiled eggs, and tried to ignore the visions of Food Channel delicacies that these things will NOT become. I'm shooting for easy. (I still feel kind of guilty because I can hear the marching band behind the house. The heat index will be 105 degrees today, and they will be out there until 9:00 tonight. Amazing! Their show has a dance theme - so far I've identified "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies", Theme from "American Bandstand", "I Could have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady, and the "Tennessee Waltz", although I had to hum it for my mom so she could identify the title for me. I knew the melody, but not the name of the song.)

Thought you'd enjoy the pic of my family - I'm back right. Youngest 2 not born yet. Mom had 7 children in 10 years, and as Dad always said, "It's not a record, but it ain't a bad average!"

It's been a week since the washing machine betrayed me by unceremoniously overflowing all over the laundry room floor (and living room, by virtue of proximity). Took 3 hours by shop vac and mopping to pick up most of the 20+ gallons that escaped. Looks like it might have been a plugged hose that fooled the water level sensor. It's operating flawlessly now, but I can't say that I'm planning on starting a load and driving off to run errands any time soon.

I keep a bowl and piece of cardboard in the bedroom in hopes of capturing the little gecko who slipped in somehow. He's just a little guy, maybe 4" long, but little guys grow into big guys - easier to see but harder to catch. Truthfully, I figure I'll either catch him or find him dead when we rearrange furniture some day, having starved to death for lack of insects in the house. He likes our bedroom because it is farthest from the AC unit, and therefore is the warmest room in the house.

My thoughts these days are about what it looks like for me to finish out the last half of life (OK, maybe last third!) in a way that gives God glory and fulfills His purpose and ideas, and thus being deeply joyous and satisfying. I have time to invest now, and I want to use the time well - I have no interest in being "busy" because I don't see Jesus being busy for the sake of activity, though He was always about His Father's work. So I'm trying to listen intentionally, spending time with Him and soaking in this season of sabbatical. I think I'm starting to get a bead on where I might be heading, but not sure yet. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

June, oh June!

We are still basking in the joy of Operation Birthday Party, the family plot to surprise the socks off Emily for her 26th birthday. With Pete and Amy settled in Chicago, they had arranged to come down to Lafayette on  Friday night, June 10th, to take Em out for her birthday. What she didn't know was that Bruce and I had a hotel room on the 5th floor of the H.I. City Center and we could see the alley next to the house she lives in. Oh, and that Michael had taken the Megabus to Chicago and arrived at 2:00 AND that friend Dave had arranged for a weekend stopover in Chicago on his Washington D.C. to Houston flight. And that set the stage for a series of surprises that left our daughter breathless.

Pete and Amy picked up MJ from Union Station and Dave from Midway and transported them to our hotel room in Indiana. Bruce and I had spent an hour on the phone with Emily for a "birthday call", chatting away while the others were navigating the racetrack between Chicago & Indy. (Lafayette is about an hour NW of Indy, 1.5 hours south of Chicago.) MJ, Dave and their luggage were dumped at our hotel and Pete & Amy headed over to Em's apartment, about 4 blocks away. They unloaded their luggage and then, from Em's bathroom, Pete texted MJ, "Leaving now." My text went to Pete, "In position."

Pete, Amy and Emily walked the planned route from her apartment to the restaurant. At the corner of 4th and Main, Michael popped out from behind a pillar with Gerber daisies and said, "I thought this ought to be a sibling event!"  Surprise, hugs, joy, celebration. 

A block an a half later, the foursome passed a bench where Bruce and I sat with our backs to them, and we stood up saying, "We thought this should be a family event!"  The girl was speechless, sagging against the brick building, gasping with surprise. Unprecedented! Hugs, joy, celebration. 

And then when we arrived at the restaurant, there was Dave at the table, and Emily was completely undone. It was SO much fun! I am utterly amazed that it was pulled off flawlessly. (Emily's friend saw Bruce & me sitting on the bench and though she has never met us, thought she recognized us from pictures and almost texted Em to ask if we had come up for her birthday. A miss is as good as a mile!) Truly, it was a gift to each of us, a forever cherished memory, and we are grateful to God for His kindness and goodness.

Monday, June 6, 2011

These Kids are Tough

It's almost 5:00 in the afternoon and has cooled down to 92 degrees - I am being serenaded by a high school marching band out practicing on the school soccer field that abuts our back yard. The drum corps has been out almost every day for the last week, and the last 3 days the brass has joined them. Football games will start the first week of August when the temperatures soar into the 100s. Call me an overprotective mom, but I think it's insane. Absolutely nutz.

Friday night, Downtown Franklin. I had to pinch myself because it was almost surreal.  There were 3 jumbo-trons (30ft x 20 ft.); one set up at the west end of Main Street, on 3rd St.N and 4th St. S, screening King Kong, Wizard of Oz, and Swing Time. On the East end of Main Street by the Confederate Memorial there was a stage with a 3-piece jazz ensemble providing the music for a swing dance (the guy sounded like Harry Connick Jr.) and there were thousands of people celebrating...the grand re-opening of the Franklin Theatre (circa 1938). After being mothballed for 4 years and then undergoing an $8.7 million dollar renovation, it is up and open for business again. The tickets for the first movie, Gone with the Wind, sold out within an hour. Bruce and I have tickets for a movie on Wednesday night. Can't wait to see the inside. Mike Wolfe (of American Pickers fame, originally from LeClaire IA, now a resident of Leipers Fork just up the road) found the display board for the lobby. This truly is an amazing place!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cicadas & Armadillos

Photograph by Medford Taylor
The 13-year cicadas have descended on us - or rather, ascended, since I think they emerged from the ground. There are millions of them, hanging on the trees in our neighborhood and in the rest of Middle Tennessee. After working out in the yard for a while the other day subjected to the relentless, shrill droning, I finally took shelter in the house - it took over 2 hours for the ringing in my ears to stop. Felt as though I'd spent a few hours at a rock concert. Driving can be hazardous, too. Those critters are big, and hitting one is akin to having a wad of cottage cheese lobbed on the windshield. I've noticed young men shaking small trees in the downtown area, scooping up the fallen cicadas and pelting their love interests with them. They definitely know how to woo a girl down here.

Tennessee is the Bug Capital of the U.S., I'm pretty sure. All the bugs of the North live here, as well as the bugs of the South, and Terminix got its start in the state. So besides cicadas, we have termites, roaches, nasty spiders and tons of things that just plain like to bite. My ankles are pretty chewed up, and I've given up trying to be discreet when I weed. I keep my rear end up in the air, because squatting or sitting assuredly results in a bitten up heinie. Not comfortable.

Bruce and I went down to Shiloh, the Civil War site today - what a sobering place. 100,000 men fought, 23,000 died. Awful, awful losses, for both sides. We did enjoy the exhibition of firearms spanning from the Revolutionary War to our current war on terror. Doing away with the need for a ramrod certainly sped up the shooting process.

I am gaining a broader perspective of what the Civil War meant down here.  There isn't a county in Tennessee that didn't have a battle fought on its soil. Iowa was pretty insulated, comparatively speaking, although there are 143 Iowans buried in the cemetery at Shiloh. But to have battles fought, homes commandeered, animals and gardens pillaged - the cost was very high here.

Armadillos rank right up there with possums as far as ugly goes. I counted 5 armadillos lying on their backs, praising the Lord from the sides of the road on the way home from Shiloh today. I'm getting used to the sight of them. There is something prehistoric-looking about that scaled armor.  Like God just swept up all the leftovers from creation and super-glued them together and said, "Gee, that could be 'bout an armadillo?"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Not my goal in life...

Meet the bathtub. 
I've never used it, and can't imagine the circumstances that would warrant my interest in doing so. So for now, I simply keep it dusted and free from the occasional insect that has the misfortune of getting caught in its slippery-sided recesses. It's just not my goal in life to keep it dusted - I think it would be a grand place to put the washer and dryer and use the laundry room for something else. But, in light of the nebulous phrase "resale value" I will continue to do the upkeep.(I'm a woman who keeps a bucket by the shower to catch the cold water that runs until the hot water arrives from the water heater on the other side of the garage - I use the water for the plants & shrubs. Why would I use 50 gallons of water in the tub???)

I am finishing up my project management work and have been dragging my tail about it, having a funeral of sorts. Last week was gray and dreary, and I worked on my final 2 projects. You didn't want to hear from me last week, trust me. I wasn't in a happy place. However, on Friday, I got a swift kick in the seat of the pants in a variety of ways.
1.  Heard a rebuke: "You sound like you're just sitting in the sandbox waiting for someone to come by and rescue you." (Ouch!)
2. Talked to a neighbor who told me (over my thoughts about taking a watercolor class) "You need to take that wishbone and turn it into backbone." (Double-ouch!)
3. Read Psalms 37 and heard, "Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness."
OK, I think I'm getting the message. Time to stop sucking my thumb and get myself out of the sandbox.