Tuesday, March 31, 2009

memory lane

When I was in middle school, I gladly dispensed of those HORRENDOUS sponge rollers that Mom rolled my hair in every Saturday night and the night before any special event. I gaggingly joined the throngs of girls who got their hair fried to a sizzle (come on, surely you remember the perms of the '80s?). Every time we came back from Aunt Linda's, Kay's Beauty shop, (and we can't forget Mom doing it at home and Dad and Andy griping about the smell the next two weeks), my dear little brother and Dad would make some wisecrack about people sticking their fingers in light sockets.
Until my junior year of high school. For some reason my hair burned exceptionally bad that visit, and even though Kay cut and conditioned as much as she could, it was still quite frizzy when I left the salon. And on Kay's behalf, she used the light perm for easily damaged hair and cut the time in half! It was the constant dilemma - too much time and my hair burned, one minute less and it would only half-way take, if at all. Needless to say, I was upset on my way home, and when I walked in the kitchen door, Andy looked up, stared at me for a minute, then went right back to studying. He never said a word. No electric current jokes, no forgot to use a dryer sheet joke - nothing. I knew then it was really bad. Even Dad said nothing when I got home. I simply had the worst perm of my life.
At least that's what I thought until Sunday night. Our Pastor mentioned in his sermon that he had always teased his daughters about their hair, but was learning that they could no longer do that. Maybe Mom simply had heard enough and put a stop to Dad and Andy. Then again, if BOTH Dad and Andy are in on something, I'm not even sure Mom could stop them.
Regardless, after my sophomore year of college, I refused perms. For the next seven years I was straight and happy. The year Bobby and I were engaged I got a perm so he could see what I looked like curly. He hated the smell anytime we got close, and I hated the little burned stubbles my fingers would find every time I washed my hair. It's been eleven years, and I've not had a perm since. And unless I go through some identity crisis, it's very likely to stay that way.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

the "greats"

Timothy Samuel Bryan, Jr. (aka Sammy), Timothy Samuel Bryan, Sr (aka Tim), and Timothy Samuel Bryan III (aka Trey)
As of Sunday, March 29, 2009, we are now officially Great Uncle Bobby and Great Aunt Monica. Congatulations Sammy and Jess!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Baby steps!

No, not the actual pitter-patter of feet, but the tiny leaps toward project completion! Today I deleted a project off my March list! This quilt still won't be ready for a June wedding, but at least all the pieces for the top are cut out. I think it's safe to say this is the most time consuming project I've ever tackled. I guess because all the other quilts I've done have been simple blocks or baby quilts that the cutting went fairly fast. I ignorantly thought I would keep track of my time put into this quilt (just for curiosity sake), but I despairingly quit counting when I hit hour 6 of cutting.

Meanwhile, about half of the planted snow peas are popping up, and I do have straw around that aisle of the garden, but have only just started around the other rows. Meanwhile, thanks to Dottie, the fencing for the nesting area is up, but I still need to anchor in the bottom and fix a door. I know how I want to do it, but getting it done and the weather cooperating is a different matter.

Who knows? Maybe by 2010 I'll actually get around to getting Mary B teaching me how to knit!

Friday, March 27, 2009

simplicity...or not

flour, water, shortening
graham crackers, butter, sugar

2 different recipes...3 ingredients...that's it...

Then WHY can't I make a decent pie crust?!?

Edible they are. Delicious or pretty, they are definitely not.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.
~Luke 9:26
Several years ago I had a pastor ask me to design a banner. The picture he wanted to use had poor resolution, meaning it would be blurry when enlarged. I found several similar pictures and let him choose the one he wanted. The final picture had an angle of the cross stretched out on the sand, the crown of thorns nearby, and there was some blood in the sand. Someone saw it later and commented that it was gory and they didn't think Christians should display blood, thorns, nails, or anything of that sort at Easter. I was dumbfounded.
I don't like gore, and I don't handle violence very well, hence I don't watch war movies and I didn't see the Passion. But I think for any Christian to hide the facts of the horror of the Crucifixion is to hide the horror of sin and the pain and beauty of Christ's sacrifice. It also demeans the Resurrection. Granted, overcoming death itself is significant, but had Christ died a normal or pain-free death, I would still bear my sins. Without the cross there would be no Easter Sunday.
The crucifixion was and is a sickening thing. But it the very foundation of Christianity. Without the cross there is no redemption, no life, no hope.
The church where I work is doing a musical for Easter titled "My Chains Are Gone!" Someone complained today about the graphic being "unfriendly." I teeter between sadness and outrage. Yes, for many the cross is unfriendly. The thought of being chained in bondage and only the cross being able to break those chains is not friendly to our pride. The very admittance that we are all chained to sin is not friendly at all. But it is the message we are called to proclaim. I may not agree with everything MBC does, but I am very proud that its pastors are not ashamed to proclaim the truth of the cross and the power that entails. I'm thankful the cross does provide the power to break the chains of sin that we all carry, and I'm burdened for my spiritual siblings who find the very symbol of freedom offensive and embarrassing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

out of the loop

We're in the van, almost home, with the Q&A session of Obama's speech on the radio, when I hear a question that totally blew my mind: Does Obama agree with China's call for a global currency? (At this point he's not because he thinks the dollar is rebounding.) Somehow I missed that on the news. So I've googled it, and discovered that not only is China calling for a global currency, but so is Russia. There's also a group in Maine, founded by a Nobel prize winner, that's whole purpose is educating people about the need for a global currency and hopes to have one in place by 2024. Evidently several Muslim countries have consolidated their currency, as have a few African countries, and then of course the European Union. And with all the fiscal upheaval, I can easily see why it makes sense from a secular, economic viewpoint.

So why am I blathering on about this? Because it excites me. It's like getting down to a handful of puzzle pieces and knowing that with a little more time and effort the picture will be complete. And I'm seeing the puzzle pieces of our future slowly coming together, looking more and more like the Guide. The acceptance and promotion of homosexuality across the globe, the increase of all roads lead to heaven and multi-faith religions, the dissolving of family units, the rise of economic and natural disasters demanding a global response, the capability AND the willingness of people to implant computerized chips into humans, the growing amorality..the puzzle pieces are coming together. It may not be complete in my lifetime, but the remaining pieces are becoming smaller. And it may be that I actually get to see the puzzle completed and hear the trumpets sound when it is. And that is exciting, indeed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

get up

Now I lay me down to sleep
To hear the buzz before I blink
If I can get my self to move
Then one more day I'll make it through!

Friday, March 20, 2009

if I could

My Grandmother never learned how to drive. After my Grandfather passed away, she had to rely on her children and grandchildren to get places. As a working teenager, it was a little frustrating that when I did make time to see her, all she wanted me to do was drive her places, often long distances, to see people and do things. As an adult looking back, I now understand how little freedom she had and how important those visits were to her. It wasn't that she didn't appreciate my visit, me skipping activities with friends or using a vacation day to come see her; it was simply that my (or others) visit was a small window of opportunity to do something.

I was reminded of that today. A weekly volunteer who comes in to help at work was talking about another lady who would love to come work and do things, but has no way to come. It made me sad to hear that, and made me wish we had the freedom to leave work and go pick her up and take her home.

I like to think that if I could go back in time with the knowledge I have now, that I would schedule regular visits, like every other week, to see my Grandmother and take her places. And yet I think about how frantic my lifes is now, and how seldom it seems I have free time. Would it really be any different today?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Yesterday on my way to work, radio announcers Bill & Linda were discussing shoe sizes. Linda had been to Crabtree to get fitted for tennis shoes, and was mortified not only to be told what size she wore, but also to be told that one foot was half a size smaller than the other.

I understand that it is normal for one foot to be half an inch smaller than the other. My questions is: WHY?

I mean, think about it. We don't have one big eye and one little eye, or one big ear and one little ear (not that I've ever measured my ears), or one big...actually we do. I remember now. The ring finger on my left hand is always half a size smaller than the ring size on my right hand. The jeweler said it was the hand you used the most tended to be a little larger. So does that mean my right foot is larger because I'm right-sided and always put my weight on my right foot first?

And if it's SOO important for us to be wearing the correct shoe size, then why don't they sell us a shoe size for each foot? I mean, why should the shoe on my left foot have extra space in the toe? I bet in the old days of tailors when people didn't wear shoes and when they did they were tailor made to fit their fit, each shoe fit the foot and NOT one size fits everything.

Can you tell I'm going to have to replace my tennis shoes soon? And I dread it. I'm almost tempted to try and order what I have online. There's nothing I hate more than walking into the store, telling the clerk the brand, the size, and the width, watching their eyebrows go up, then hearing, "Why don't we measure your foot to be sure?" Then after measuring, they nod, and say "Yes, that's the only shoe we carry in that width." DUH!! To be fair, I'm sure most customers probably don't know what shoe size or width they really need, but I actually do know. Once I got fitted in a proper size and width of shoe, 95% of my lower back and knee pain disappeared. Forget pride. I'll sadly forget fashion. Give me a shoe that doesn't hurt or cause pain! On most days. I did mortify Bobby by wearing my red fake crocs to church a few Sundays ago with a navy skirt. And if my fashion conscious sisters read this and gasp, don't do it too loudly or I might just do it when I come to visit you! :O) Yes, I still have the power to mortify and horrify my siblings.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


May the words of my MOUTH and the MEDITATION of my HEART, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. ~ Psalm 19:4
In the last two days, I have been challenged by three different friends during an ordinary conversation. Not an aggressive challenge, but just by casual conversation been emotionally lifted and challenged by what they said. And it's also made me stop and think about what I say and what I allow my mind to dwell on. I am SO blessed with Godly family and friends who (whether they know it or not) help me refocus on what is truly important and my role in this world. I hope what I say will be edifying to those around me and not the words of a despondent mudhole.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

career choices

When I was five I wanted to be WonderWoman when I grew up. I thought catching bad guys and throwing a rope around them and pulling tight would be a neat thing to do. Plus, she had a shiny uniform with red boots. Who wouldn't want to wear red boots to work?

And then when I was 8, Mary Lou Retton debuted. My dream of being an award winning gymnast was very shortlived.

By middle school, I wanted to be a journalist. High school came and found me wavering between journalism and missions. Life after college found me teaching English in China. Teaching in America brought me grief and a three year sabbatical where I did some freelance writing and played housewife. Through all the curves and turns our lives took during those three years, I wound up back in school studying graphic design.

If I had to grow up now, I'd still do graphic design but I'd be web savvy and flex between print media and the world wide web. Or I might be a hermit. Not a hippie hermit, but a stay at home person who raised some of her own food and sewed and whatnot. After looking after Bobby for ten years, I sometimes wonder if I really could be a nurse. More likely I would be a pharmacist. But if I did nursing then we could travel on the Mercy ship and travel the world assisting in medical missions. Or join Samaritan's Purse disaster relief team. OR I'd go back to school to become a librarian. (Can you believe you have to have a Master's Degree to be a librarian?!)

At this point, I don't see me growing up anytime in the near future. It's still neat to think about the options we have, and I'm SO thankful I was born in a country where hard work is rewarded and a college degree doesn't mean a job inspecting light bulbs at the local factory. At least not yet.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

a hodgepodge of items

#1) Cheeseburger Pie

Brown 1 lb of ground beef (add onions and peppers, if desired). Drain grease. Place in a 9" pie pan.

Add 1 c shredded cheese on top of the meat. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix 2 eggs, 1/2 c Bisquick and 1 c milk. Pour over meat. Place in oven. ( I recommend putting a cookie pan under it). Bake 25 minutes or until center is firm when pricked with a fork.

My mother-in-law found this recipe several years ago. I don't fix it very often, but I really like it!

#2) the insanity of quilting
I think quilts are beautiful, especially the ones with unusual designs. Normally my favorite part of quilting is putting together the quilt top. The actual quilting is okay, but it just seems to take forever. Unfortunately, this time I've picked a pattern that is more challenging than any I've ever done. I'm thankful I bought a kit containing the templates an directions, but as I rearranged pieces to decide on a color scheme last night, (which the pattern recommends you do before cutting all the different pieces) a conversation from the past came to mind. A lady in the quilting class I took was bemoaning the fact that her husband neither understood nor appreciated her passion for quilting. He suggested they save all the money and time she spent on quilting, buy a blanket, and use what leftover time and money they had on something else. And of course this conversation took place in a fabric store. He informed her this was a waste of time, and totally stupid. Why would anyone buy a lot of fabric, cut it up into pieces, then sew it back together, then sew it to yet ANOTHER piece of material?

I fear that man may have a point. In other words, I think I've gone mental. But I also know I can't stop with this quilt, because I have a quilt top I started in that class for Bobby which must be quilted before I claim insanity. Not to mention several stacks of material I've bought with sketched out quilt designs on top of them. Maybe one day I'll come to my senses, but I don't think today will be the day.

Friday, March 13, 2009

rainy days

If I were unemployed, here's what I'd fill my rainy days with:
  • reading
  • sleeping
  • sewing
  • other various projects
  • eating
  • repeat

sigh...the only thing worse than spending a good craft day at work is having to spend a beautiful outside work day inside at work. It's a good thing I like my job or I'd have a very hard time convincing myself to go in.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

a path from the past

Our teenage helpers not only helped clean up debris this past weekend,
but their chief also did something the last ten years
I've not yet find the time to do:
create a special path.

and at the end of this path is a small grill that Bobby's Uncle built
during slow times on his brick mason job. His family (tobacco farmers)
didn't have money or time for nice vacations, but they
did take time for small things like fishing and grilling and picnics.
This is the first time in many years that Bobby has been able
to get to the small grill. The funny thing is that neither one of us
are quite sure how his parents cooked on it. Perhaps one day we'll be able to
clean up the remainder of the woods and debris around it so it can be used again.

Monday, March 9, 2009

3 steps forward, two steps back

WHOHOOO! This weekend I finished a February project! YEAHHH! In December Bobby and I found the CUTEST outfit for his nephew's coming arrival: deer slippers and brown pajamas with a hood and deer antlers. We got the slippers, but decided against the winter pajamas. Then a few weeks later, I saw material at JoAnns that matched the slippers! Of course that meant a baby quilt. I had wanted to quilt deer tracks in the green blocks, or at least antlers, but due to time constraints decided simple was best.

and my favorite part: the farm animal inserts (since they didn't have deer).

And while it's still not finished, the nesting area for the geese is much closer to completion. Two dividers are out, the fence posts are up, and I've got almost all of the fencing equipment. Even though I didn't get the fence up before the pond refilled (which now means wading out into the water), all the fence except the gate should go up Wednesday afternoon. I think the geese have already started laying elsewhere, but should something get their eggs they'll have a safe location to use for the second round (they lay until April-May).
Who knows? Maybe by the end of March I'll have half of my March projects completed!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

productivity vs neatness

Several years ago Bobby and I watched a series on PBS about three modern families who were sent somewhere out West to live life like our ancestors did in the late 1800's. They had training before they went, and had someone come out and check on them throughout their time (they had to do it for about three months, I think) and then after it was over they were rated on whether or not they would have survived. One family had a ranch to run, with college age kids for ranch hands; another family had a farm, and the third started out with just land. He was engaged and his father was helping him until he was married and his wife came halfway through. I think in the end, it was determined that none of the families would have survived the winter.

I think about that show sometimes. I don't think I'd have fared too well. There's days like today where I work hard, but still don't get everything accomplished. But then I stop and think about all the time distractors they didn't have to deal with: no daily bathing, hair washing or fixing, and very little personal grooming. That can add an extra hour to your day right there. And you don't have to mop the floors because they're probably dirt. There wouldn't be a whole lot of furniture to dust. And no newspaper or television or grocery store or mall to divert your time. But then I think about all the extra work it would take for food and clothing. Maybe I'm just a big wimp or lazy person; maybe I would do it if I had to; maybe I would just be one of those settlers that couldn't hack it.

And from what little I've experienced of third-world/primitive conditions, when it comes to such drastic situations, hygiene and sanitation often go out the window. Whether it be in an Amish community, West Africa, or the countryside of China, I saw things that would make my mother gasp in horror at the filth. And yet the people seemed just fine. One of my Canadian friends used to laugh that we Northern Americans were just too clean for our own good. And maybe there's some truth to that. I'd get a whole lot more done in my day if I didn't have all the "proper" hygiene rituals we Americans do. Granted, I wouldn't feel as nice or look as good, but it does make me stop and think about what's really important and why we place so much emphasis on the outward appearance.

Meanwhile, I thank God I was born in this century.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

rat race

crazy dream with 20 kids
happily disobeying, chattering Russian.
I am screaming to no effect,
yelling like my mother times 10.

obnoxious sound that pulses on,
my body moves and fights to find that stupid little switch.
the day begins
and i pray for grace and wonder why on earth
we should ever rejoice for this day that God has made;
he must increase and right now i really wouldn't mind if
i decreased to the size of a bug so i could crawl somewhere and hide.

another day of crazy tasks and things that everyone must do
to meet their deadline while the clock keeps ticking tocking
taunting that we may not finish.

i want to find that stupid book they call the simple church
and put it on someone's desk and ask them if it's a farce.
these projects are only paper; soon to be trash
and yet someone somewhere thinks it must be perfect
or that we simply cannot function without it.
i bite my tongue and swallow the words.
daring them to try it and see if they die -that
be a satisfying thing to say but it
would not be prudent, as dear mom would say.

the printer jams; hit that wall and turn around;
i smell the cheese of freedom and fight to
make a hole, only to turn around and find the trick;
grab the key; run the next lap and clean my desk;
done, finished or not

head for home and see the bucket-
that white thing used as a seat
and sometimes a shade by the
homeless dude who's graced the
intersection of 401 and 10/10 for as long
as i've had this job and who called
the church when he went to the hospital
'cause the college boys here stopped to talk
him about jesus one day and he said they were
the only ones who really cared about him;
his bucket had fresh flowers and top and a home-made sign:
was this the guy?
or did someone else die here and use this guy's bucket
as a makeshift memorial?
i wrack my brain for an answer to the last time i saw him,
and can't recall.

a vapor

a piece of paper with a marker for his memorial

head home to the one who puts up with my random
thoughts even when he's tired and tackle chore and head to church
and am reminded to "just do it" and head home to go to bed
and hear the buzz and start a day

and this time start with praise...just do it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Penne's Soup

6 chicken bouillion cubes
2 c water
1.5 c diced onions
1.5 c diced carrots
1.5 c diced celery
2.5 c cubed potatoes
20 oz pk of cauliflower
20 oz pk of broccoli
1 lb velveeta cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup

Dissolve the 6 bouillon cubes in the 2 cups of water. Add onions celery, potatoes, carrots. Simmer for 2o minutes. Add cauliflower and broccoli. Simmer ten minutes. Add cheese & soups. Stir until the cheese is melted. Do not cover after cheese and soup is served.

Monica's notes: I cheated and bought a 3lb bag of California mix (the broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots), but only used about 2/3 of it. I also added more water to cover the vegetables, and chopped them up some before adding the cheese. And I used Mary Booth's advice and cubed the Velveeta before adding it to help is melt faster.

Monday, March 2, 2009

in like a lion

Friday, Feb 27: ABRO soup and sandwich fundraiser
Mary Booth gave me Penne's soup recipe, and it was absolutely WONDERFUL! Even my husband, who does not like cauliflower, ate it and enjoyed it. I will definitely be adding this to my list of soups to fix again.

Saturday, Feb 28: Beading @ Penne's (super fun!); brief appearance at baby shower; drive to SC

Homecoming at a church Dad pastored for 5 years, where he was speaking and my sister and I were singing. The afternoon singing was cancelled due to inclement weather and we headed home.

Today I called in to work and said I wasn't coming. One, it snowed. Two, DOT closed our road during the night. Three, I took cold medicine and went to bed. Four, Bobby was working from home today. Five...what, you think I have another reason?