Tuesday, September 30, 2008

hot spots

Prior to a few weeks ago, if you had asked me "What is a hot spot?" I would have responded with any of the answers below:
  1. Any place near the equator, or close by it.
  2. An infected mosquito bite, or any kind of insect bite or cut.
  3. A popular restaurant or gathering place.

In one of the recent issues of World Magazine, there was a brief sidebar about the sun of our solar system, and how for the first time ever, during the month of August of 2008, our sun did not release any hot spots. (Evidently hot spots are small balls of gas.) There is also theories out there among scientists, both Christians and non-believers, that this trend will continue until our sun burns out. It's not a popular theory, especially with the whole global warming mantra being the current trend, but nevertheless it is there. Could it be that the whole global warming concept is nothing more than a screen to blind everyone to the reality that the sun is actually waning/aging and there will come a time as the Bible predicts when the sun and moon will lose a substantial portion of their light?

I'm not a scientist, and I'm all for us being good stewards of the Creation we were charged with caring for. Yet it does excite me when I hear or read reports that seem to tick off one more minute on the clock 'till his return. That's one alarm I'll actually be glad to hear.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

really cool

A week or so ago we stopped at Mrs. Bryan's house so Bobby could help her with some things. After a few minutes, I quickly realized what was going to be "just a little bit" was going to take quite a while, so I headed to the computer room and surfed the net - something I don't get to do very often. While there, I found the coolest web site.

For those who don't know me very well, I like bears. My favorite staircase on this site has bear pawprints carved into each step. How original! But I like all the staircases this company has done, as well.

One of my crazy idiosyncrasies is that while I hate steps and heights, I LOVE wooden staircases. At the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh the staircase is wooden with the most intricate carved details in the wood. When we went to BJU's art museum a few years ago, my favorite thing out of the whole museum was pieces of old church furniture: a choir railing, pulpit, chair, etc - and they all had beautiful carvings. So if you get bored and want to check out one of my many definitions for beautiful, this website is it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Yesterday Bobby came in from getting the paper and informed me that the dogs appreciated the mums. Sure enough, I go to the front door, and one of my two pots is totally empty, and there are yellow, white, and red mum bushes shredded and scattered across the front lawn. I even took a picture, but when I came home and started to post, my computer wouldn't connect to the internet. DOT actually scraped the road (which it desperately needed) and in the process hit the phone line again so we've been without a phone until 4:30pm today. YEAHH! I love it when things go as they are scheduled and are actually repaired. It's nice. As for mums, I guess we'll just stay with one empty pot this fall...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

profanity, continued

My freshman year at Cordova High School, I walked into freshman English (Mr. A's class), and was shocked to see the board covered in a list of swear words. Evidently I wasn't the only one, and the laughs and titters began as people filled the room. As the tardy bell rang, an older gentlemen walked in and hung up his hat. He was wearing cowboy boots, dress pants, dress shirt, and a bolo tie. He quietly called roll, asking each student about older siblings or relatives who had attended Cordova. No one talked out of turn.
We received our textbooks, went over what items were needed for class, and then went over class expectations. The last expectation was that we would use language appropriate for professionals. After all, that was what we were in school to learn to be. Mr. A (short for Mr. Alexander) then proceeded to go over each slang word on the board (without saying them), explained what swear word it represented, and why it was uncouth and inappropriate for a student of our school to use it. He also made it clear that he never wanted to read or hear any of these words in his classroom. The remainder of my four years at CHS, I heard a lot of profanity, but NEVER past the downstairs entrance headed to Mr. A's classroom, in his classroom, or directly outside of it. This quiet Church of Christ elder was quiet, conscientious, and made his first lesson one that I doubt any CHS Advanced English student ever forgot: professionals are not potty mouths.

Monday, September 22, 2008


The only thing I knew about prunes growing up was that they were shriveled fruits my Grandmother ate when she had "going problems" as today's commercials call it. Needless to say, I was not the least interested in trying them, and don't think I ever have.

Perhaps that was also why I always so intensely disliked the word "prude." It sounded too much like prune. If you look the word up in the dictionary, prude is actually a very good thing:
  • a good and virtuous woman
  • a woman who is excessively concerned with propriety and decorum
  • a woman is extremely modest

I don't think any of those things are bad (okay, maybe the "excessive" could be), and yet the word prude is always used in a derogatory way. Today I had one of those "aha" moments where I realized no matter how much I dislike the word, I could easily be classified as a prude.

My mother was a "let your yea be your yea, and your nea be your nea" quoter. Words were not to be thrown around with reckless abandon (and yes, with my quick tongue we had many discussions on this topic), and we were most certainly not allowed to use slang.

Three times within the last six months, while with a sister in Christ, I have heard a word used that my mother would have thrown an absolute fit over...one of those words I would have feared getting my mouth washed out with soap. And yet all four of these ladies used the phrase without batting an eye, as if it were a perfectly normal word. I hate it; I cringe inside; I feel totally repulsed and dirty just by hearing it.

The crazy thing is, I worked with unsaved people in a grocery store and a fast-food place. I also attended a public high school. And yet in all three of those places, once people realized I didn't use profanity, they either tried to abstain from saying bad words in my presence (and I never once asked them to do so), or else apologized for doing so. It strikes me strange that my Christian family can utter those words without shame or feeling abashed in the least, while non-believers were sensitive to my convictions. Maybe I'm a prude; maybe that word changed its meaning within the last ten years; maybe I need to step out on a limb and learn to give a loving rebuke. (Rebuking comes easy for me...it's the loving part that makes me unsteady on a limb.)

So I'm curious. What types of things or events make you feel prudish?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

preemptive aggression

I have never perceived myself as an aggressor.
In high school, I did find it strange that a person who found himself in a fight would be punished just as much as the one who started it. That never seemed right to me. I saw a big difference in defending yourself and picking a fight. But not the school board...a fight was a fight.
And when we went to war in Afghanistan after 9-11, I didn't have a problem with that. We were defending ourselves. When we went to war with Iraq, I struggled inside with that quite a bit. Two different countries, two different situations, two totally different scenarios. I wasn't comfortable with the whole concept of preemptive aggression (get them before they get us). Until today.
Within the last month, we've had two unusual occurrences. We found a dead hornet in the garage. Then one morning this week we saw this on the bathroom window:

It was about 2.5" long. Bobby says it's a hornet. Maybe it's a mutant yellow jacket, I don't know.
But then during breakfast, I noticed the tiny little wasp nest on the porch is no longer small. I also remember getting stung by a wasp a few summers ago, through my blue jeans, and waking up the next morning with my thigh swollen out the size of a football.

This is after I sprayed. I think the two are somehow attached to the nest. The others gracefully fell to the porch.

I don't think I got them all in the picture. I counted at least 14 as they fell.

These wasps have never come after me. My evolutionist friends would call this survival of the fittest. I'm ensuring my survival and well-being. My Hindu friend might find this horrific: the killing of an innocent part of creation, who could also very well be a deceased family or friend reincarnated. Perhaps an extreme Christian might even say I'm not exhibiting "long-suffering" by aggressively getting rid of the wasps. My health nut friends would absolutely be horrified by my use of an aerosol can shooting pesticides onto our place of dwelling. But whatever people say, I don't have to worry about Bobby leaving the back door to go down the ramp and getting stung, or me getting stung and swelling up like a helium balloon.

I think in some cases preemptive aggression is okay. Now, if I start seeing a car driving aggressively and slam into them before they get the chance to hit me, or jump out of my car and start attacking a group of kids who look like they're staking people out in a bad section of town, then I think it will be safe for my friends and family to say I've crossed the line and lock me up in a padded room. But until then, watch out. I am armed with my 25 ft shooting aerosol can of poison, and I ain't afraid to use it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

whoever said exercise makes you feel better obviously never woke up two mornings after

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

lun jie (moon festival)

Saturday night (in China) and Sunday night (in America) were the dates for the yearly Moon Festival.

Based on the lunar calendar, it is held on the night of a full moon when it is supposedly closest to the earth. There is a legend of a woman with long hair and a rabbit that is told, but I don't remember all the details. What?! You thought it was a man's face on the moon! Well, it's not. It's a woman and a rabbit. And forget all those silly stories of the moon being made of cheese. It's not. Everyone knows it's made of rice.

To celebrate this wonderful festival, sellers/bakers lining the streets selling - what else? MOON CAKES!

Traditionally moon cakes are round (you know, they represent the moon!), but the insides are as varied as their colorful wrappers: bean paste, nut filling, peach, apple, etc. Some are delicious, and others - well, let's just say everyone has their own tastes.
So you buy moon cakes, you give them to your friends, you keep some for yourself (just in case your friends don't give you any), and if you're a college student, you get together with other college students outside to stare at the moon, take comfort knowing that your family is staring at the same big moon and thinking of you, sing songs, tell stories, and eat your moon cake.
I think that's pretty much it. So happy belated LUN (pronounced loon) JIE!
ohh, and thanks to Joni Strohm for the new 2008 Lun Jie photos!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

lessons learned

I played Fannie Farmer this spring and summer. And I've learned a few things that I plan to do differently next summer. For instance:
  1. Plant my rows further apart. In trying to keep my garden close to the house but outside Lucy and Linus' underground fence, I made it a tad too small. Even though my plants grew fine, it made it very hard to weed without stepping on other plants. I also encountered this:

Notice the okra is only 2" in the first photo, as opposed to the 7" and 10". The smaller okra tastes better, but since my okra plants were so close to my peas, I couldn't get on the back side of the plants. We didn't know these pods were there until they shot up even with the top leafs of the plant. Oops! I also didn't know okra would grow at the bottom of the plant. For many weeks I've only been checking the tops. Next year I'll know.

2. Plant the cantaloupe away from the peas and give it plenty of room. I only planted a few seeds, knowing how the vines like to spread. I didn't anticipate those few taking over the end of the garden and growing in and around the okra and peas. I also didn't know that they would produce more than one crop. After we harvested our first two (the third I picked too early and it wasn't good),I thought that was it. After mowing down the finished peas Saturday, dear hubby informed me that I had killed a baby cantaloupe that was growing among the peas. Note to self: look before you cut.

3. Grape juice and me are not meant to be. For the third straight season, I have tried to make grape juice. Season one was bitter and had to be used within six weeks. I'm not a big juice drinker anyway, and that wasn't a good idea. Season number two, I wasn't overly crazy about the recipe's taste. So I had a new recipe for this year, and I was so excited. Here's how the first batch turned out:

Juice when you go to bed; jelly when you get up.

And this is what it SHOULD look like: liquid.

Only one of 8 juice jars did not turn into jelly. And the sad part? I think it actually tastes better than the jelly recipes I've used in the past.

I'll probably plant my garden again next spring. I'll keep the okra and cantaloupe and tomatoes, try some different peas and beans. Who knows? I might get ambitious and try some winter veggies (lettuce and turnip greens) as well. Maybe. But I think I can officially give up on grape juice after this season. I think there comes a point in time when you just have to quit.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

dream fodder

I like today's kind of shopping. Our first visit was to a place I'd never been before, but saw advertised in a catalogue. Called the Logan Trading Company, it's a gardener's haven with a wide variety of items to tie up your time and cause you to daydream. Like their products, their prices are out of this world, but it was well worth the time to drive to downtown Raleigh and browse. And they had everything, from the serious to the whimsical, from indoor plants or patio and terrace things to outdoor dig in the dirt and make a statement plants. I was totally intrigued.
And of course we followed it up with a visit to Lowe's (in the midst of trying to find a gas station under $4 that still had gas). I did buy a few plants there, and browsed through several sections gathering even MORE ideas for projects that I really don't have time to do, but I left with that "ahh" satisfied feeling. Sometimes I think I like looking and researching a project even more than I like the projects themselves.
And if I ever get brave enough to tackle anything else, I'll try to remember to take photos so I can post the before, during, and after.
Praise God for weekends!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Evidently, it's been a very long time since I mailed a package overseas. I made the trip to the post office this morning. (Did you know they open at 8:30 instead of 8am?) Mailed package #1, then hauled the big one up there and said, "Surface, please." The postal worker looked at me, laughed, and said, "I didn't think you had been in here in a long time, but we stopped surface mail a year ago." I thought a minute, then asked what my options were. Turns out, an 11 pound box has one of two options: 1. Priority mail, which costs $60 2. Express mail, which costs $80. I brought the package back home with me. If I divide it into smaller packages of 4 lbs or less, I can send it air mail, which will get there faster AND will be cheaper than the rates she quoted me. But it still aggravates me that to send my friend coffee or cleaning sponges or highlighters, the postage will cost more than the products themselves. There's just something inherently wrong with that. For example, the contents of package #1 costs about $7. Postage was $10. If I stop and think about it, my friend is worth $20. I can not eat out several days and afford to send her a package periodically. But it still gets to me.
But on a brighter note: it's Thursday. That means one more day of "work" before the weekend. Whoohoo!

Monday, September 8, 2008


I'm not a coffee drinker. I tried it once when I was twelve, and a time or two in college. The last time I tried it, I decided it was silly to force myself to drink something I absolutely detested. I'm not even crazy about its smell. (Which was bad, considering I had to make the coffee at two of my jobs in college.)

Today I had the privilege of coffee shopping for a friend. We were cooking buddies in language school, and kept in touch even after we returned to teaching. She was maid of honor in my wedding. This summer she stayed in China instead of coming home for the summer break, and so was unable to stock up on those nice things that we can live without but prefer not to. So I offered to send a care package, and she gave me her list. And number one was: coffee.

I never dreamed there was so many different flavors of coffee, much less brands. I was almost tempted to buy one of every flavor, but stuck to the list she gave me. After all, if I sent someone to the store and requested Dr. Pepper and someone sent me one flavor of every kind of soft drink, while I'd be appreciative, I'd also be a little disappointed.

So for all my coffee inhaling friends, do you try different flavors or do you find one you like and stick with it?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Momma Power

Several weeks ago a family friend of ours was summoned to the place where his son works. A boy who has bullied and attempted to bully their son throughout high school had come by and paintballed his car. The paint washed off easily enough, but the blasts left little dents all over. The parents wanted to call the police and report it; the son wanted to call the boy's Momma. His parents were trying to reason with him that this was a criminal offense and needed to be addressed as such, as well as claim insurance on the car, thus involving the police. The son's response was that this boy had been in jail before and it wouldn't matter, but calling his Momma would. I don't think the parents were too convinced that calling Momma would make a difference, but it made me laugh a little.
In this 19 year-old's mind, nothing would get through to this boy or put him in more trouble than telling the Momma. And to a small degree, I think that may be true. Granted, I agree with his parents that the police should be called and the Mother obviously can't control her son, but there's something about having a boy's mom see firsthand what the child has done.
Think back to middle school...besides the issue of girls, what prompted more fights and arguments among boys? ...your momma jokes. There's some relationships that are tight, and I don't think the term "Momma's boy" came about without reason. I've seen numerous high school kids get in trouble for things and would gladly take a punishment but "just don't tell my Momma..." They won't their Moms to think highly of them.
So to all my Mommy friends out there, I know you get extremely frustrated with so little time to yourself and the endless list of things to do, but know when all else fails, you're still Mom. You've got that Momma Power!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

6 unspectacular things that you may not know about me

  1. I Christmas shop all year ‘round. I like the hunt; I like trying to find bargains of gifts that are useful and wanted. And of course, I like the challenge of shopping during the season itself, provided I’m not in a rush to be somewhere.

  2. I didn’t start wearing make-up every day until second semester of my freshman year in college. Some days I still forget to put it on.

  3. I have an overactive imagination.

  4. I hated, hate, and will hate running. PE teachers were never my favorite in school.

  5. My husband and I are a lot alike. We share similar philosophies and viewpoints on most things, leading some in our families to claim we are hard-headed, stubborn, and opinionated. I’m not sure whom these similarities horrify more – my family or his.

  6. I work better with looming deadlines hanging over my head, which is the total opposite of my “get-it-done” husband.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

the beginning of the last quadrant

It's official. We are in the fourth act of 2008. So here's the list of what I hope will happen:

The demise of the following characters:
  • the garden - while my tomatoes and okra are still gleefully putting out; it's time for the peas to be mowed under; and unless I develop a wild urge to plant turnip greens, broccoli, or lettuce, by the end of this month I will plow the whole thing up and mulch it.
  • apples - while my target goal was to finish off all the apples before this month, I didn't quite make it. But Lord willing, by the end of the week the remaining two buckets will be tres finis and I will be glad!
  • living room painting - another Aug project, but hey, it's officially started!
  • muscadimes - two buckets down, and we're not counting how many to go!
  • the 2008 presidential election - three REQUIRED training sessions between now and the big day; I'm hoping our laptop doesn't crash like it did during the primary

the birth of new characters:

  • pears - oh me, oh my, I do hope these finish faster than the apples!
  • a quilting group - some quilters in our church are discussing getting together once a month to quilt; I hope it comes to pass (and yes, I DO plan to finally baste and start finishing Bobby's quilt)
  • CHRISTMAS shopping!
  • prayerfully, hopefully, maybe just maybe a new SEMI-PERMANENT CHURCH LOCATION!
  • a beading class - there are rumors floating around that one of our many lady beaders at CBC is going to offer a one day beading class. I've already bought a few beads!

There are lots of other things happening, too, but if I write too many more then my head feels full and my heart feels panicked. Onward, ho!