Saturday, July 30, 2011


Twelve years ago today I married my best friend of 2 years.
In honor of that momentous and life-changing event, we're taking a vacation! By the time we get back next week, I should have pictures to show of the wonderful town of Valdese, NC. 
One of the things I love about my husband is that he loves history, which is quite funny considering I hated history in high school.
The town of Valdese was created by Italian immigrants, known as Waldensians, who were escaping religious persecution from the Catholic Church in Rome and France. Here's an interesting excerpt from a Catholic encyclopedia about them:
Among the doctrinal errors which they propagated was the denial of purgatory, and of indulgences and prayers for the dead. They denounced all lying as a grievous sin, refused to take oaths and considered the shedding of human blood unlawful. They consequently condemned war and the infliction of the death penalty.

Sorry for all the underlines, as I copied and pasted, but that also allows you to click on the word and it will take you to the source.  I don't agree with all their doctrines (vowing a life of poverty, divorcing a spouse once you convert in order to live a life of poverty and evangelism), but were it not for people like them, willing to acquire copies of the Scripture in their own language and determine for themselves what God's truth was, then the church as we know it today might not exist. I'm curious to see how much of their outdoor drama about their history includes religion, and to see how secular the town is.

So until next week, ciao!

Friday, July 29, 2011

and it's done...

I don't know that I will ever attempt this again. After running out of the specialty thread last Friday night and waiting until I was back in Raleigh to get more, I was relieved the bag was finished and disappointed with the outcome. We'll know in a few days whether or not it actually works. If it doesn't, then it's back to scouring the internet in hopes of finding something that works. Maybe I just need to find a class in PatternMaking 101, get a decent sewing machine, and start practicing for my own line of wheelchair bags.  Hahahaha...not.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

growing up

Our nightly visitors (they like to eat the remnants of the geese's corn, though lately they've become a bit bossy and started chasing them away) have grown up. They're no longer the playful, jumpy animals that start at the least noise.  In fact, they're almost not scared of us at all. Oh, they run when we come outside now, but never very far. Two of them will sometimes stay within 20 yards!  But here's our "teenage" visitors:
taken through the window so it's a tad blurry, but here's the smaller guy

3 of the 5

and the bigger guy

the girl toward the front is the last afraid of us and the geese

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

hot weather storms

This past weekend brought some interesting storms. We delighted in watching the temps quickly drop from 102 to 89 and then back to the mid-90s as the rain disappeared. The hot breezes before a storm have been interesting.  The aftermath of the storm has been a bit bizarre as well.
 The top of this tree collapsed. We've had to cut a section of its V before, so we thought this time the entire top was gone.'s not.  There's still one tiny branch sticking out! Some trees just die hard!
I had a hard time getting the light setting adjusted on my camera so I could capture the rainbow. It was clearly visible in the bright sky (the previous picture gives you a sense of how bright it was outside) but my camera refused to register the bow's reflections without some major adjustments. Rainbows always excite me, and remind me of the song I learned in middle school:
What kind of music does a rainbow make?
What kind of song does it sing?
Oh, it's a happy kind of melody and it brightens everything.
For the rainbow is a promise that God is in control.
Oh the rainbow is a promise that He'll always keep my soul!
What kind of music does a rainbow make?
What kind of song does it sing?
Oh, it's a happy kind of melody and it brightens everything.

I've always enjoyed that visual reminder.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

forms at the dr.'s office

It never fails. You go to the doctor. And to keep you from being too fidgety while you wait, they give you some forms to fill out. It doesn't matter that you filled out the exact same form the previous 20+ visits you've had in the last seven years, you still have to fill them out again.

I know. I know. Information can and does change.  But these forms always make me feel like I'm back in school taking an achievement test. You remember fighting the feelings and urges, don't you? You're taking the dumb math section and they ask a question like:
There's a cow tied to the fence. If the cow eats all the grass it can eat within the rope's reach, the portion eaten will be what shape?
A) triangle 
B) rectangle
C) semi-circle
D) square
Do you know what happens when you give such a question to a bunch of smart-aleck middle schoolers? Or how many stupid discussions we had at lunch on how we could make any one of those answers fit? Did you ever fight the urge to intentionally go through and mark EVERY single answer WRONG? On purpose?

That's sometimes how I feel at the dr's office. It's actually become a joke now, that neither Bobby nor his doctors will ever truly know what is wrong with him if I fill out his forms unsupervised. For example:

Please circle the correct answer to any of these symptoms you are currently experiencing or have experienced in the last 6 months:

Hearing Loss        Yes     No
Memory Loss       Yes     No
Confusion             Yes     No
Bouts of Insanity   Yes     No

Is it ever safe to ask a spouse those questions, covering a period of 6 months? :) I mean, he lives with me!

And I can't help but wonder, do they even LOOK at these forms? I don't think they do. I really think it's just something to fill up your time so you don't notice how long you're waiting. Sadly, like achievement tests, I will probably never intentionally fill out the wrong answers just to see what happens. But I'm afraid I will always be tempted.

Monday, July 25, 2011

when the days get hot....

my chickens go...SWIMMING?

This picture didn't take too well, but I was quite shocked to look out the window Sat and see them sitting in the puddle of condensation from the air conditioner. I don't think I've ever seen my birds sit in water before. Of course, they've never experienced temps of 102 before, either.
 A better view from outside.
 and their muddy feet.
I shouldn't have bothered them by taking their pictures. They were quite content until I disturbed them. I decided not to bother them later by checking to see if they had returned to their swimming hole. I would have if I were them!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

if at first you don't succeed....

what we hope our end product somewhat resembles
It's roughly 12x8.
It doesn't have to be rectangular, nor oval-shaped.
It does need a zipper and velcro.
I found reflector piping to add to the edges, giving both a little zing and hopefully some protection (though whether for him while crossing roads or me tripping over it during the night is debatable).
It's a wheelchair pouch.
It shouldn't be too hard to make.
But my first one, well, it was not a success. Not a total failure, but not a success, either.
So I'm at it again.
I've ripped apart the pieces I need and am cutting out the rest.
We're starting over.
It has to fit the side and not the back of the chair.
It has to securely hold the essentials. (In other words, no open pockets.)
It can't be girly. (Do you know how many flowery, quilted wheelchair bags are out there?)
Hopefully you'll see pictures of a COMPLETED workable pouch by Saturday.
If not, you can then see pics of my messy dining room table with all its glory of material, thread, and scissors.
And then send me samples of bags made from duct tape.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

pagan possibilities

The National Association of Free Will Baptists in meeting this week... in Charlotte.  Yes, that's right. 5.5 hours away from my house. My parents are there. My older sister's family is there. And ...I'm here.  This is the week of Bobby's monthly commission meeting, something you absolutely, positively don't miss. (Except the time I broke his leg and he's being wheeled into surgery three hours before the meeting began. That was interesting trying to hold the phone for him as they wheel him back and he's trying to get all the legal info to the other attorney before the anesthesia kicked in and the nurses are looking at us like we've both lost our minds!) But, thanks to the internet, there's this thing called "live feed" where the services are being broadcasted over the web. Tonight is the missions service, which was always my favorite growing up. I am SSOOOO tempted to skip church and watch it on the computer tonight. There's some things in life that shouldn't be missed.

So if I'm not at church tonight, I'm still having "church", just in front of the fan by the computer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

lessons from kids

Yesterday a friend remarked, "With kids, you're reminded that life goes on." And I think that's such a blessing. There's a multitude of little bodies with unique personalities, playing, laughing, asking questions, arguing, and despite the inner feelings and turmoil, it's a reminder that just because of the pain life has not stopped. Sometimes that knowledge can be painful itself, as you want the world to stop and cry with you, but it doesn't.

And I've thought about this principle a lot this week. The wife of a future church planter is battling cancer.  Her recent post dealt with the sickness and her thoughts, but also included a pic of her daughter. She had a new, flowy dress and was certain it would make a great picture of it twirling. Life goes on, and there's nothing like a child to remind us of that, to help us focus on the daily here and now, that we don't all share the same "this is important and critical" thoughts.

Our nieces and nephews start back to school in a few weeks. My prayers for them have been that they will learn, be respectful to authority, and grow as an example in Christ. Their prayers are for one more day of summer and that their friends will be in their class. Priorities, Aunt Monica!

If nothing else, children make us take our minds off ourselves and focus on others (okay, on themselves). When my oldest niece was not quite 2, we had a very tragic death in our family. When my sister and her family arrived, the antics of my niece made my Dad smile, something I had not seen the entire week. That was a healing moment for our family, a glimpse that we both would and could smile and laugh through the pain, a glimmer of hope that life might actually return to a different but good form of normal. In her curiosity and normal toddler examination of life, she reminded us that life is good and exciting.

I've been thinking about those scenarios a lot this morning. How life goes on, even with sickness and pain, and how thankful I am that God provides children to help us realize it.

Monday, July 18, 2011


Today I am a serial killer.

I quit counting at 13. Absolute insanity.

But on a happier note, 2 of our hens began laying very small eggs this weekend...just not in the hen house. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Three ladies from the gym took a trip to England back in May. This morning I actually had a chance to ask them what they liked and saw. One of their reactions was similar to my Mother's when we toured Montgomery: excessive waste.

I guess for some reason I expect governments to have large opulent buildings. It seems everywhere I've been they do: China, Ivory Coast, DC, Raleigh. Granted, some are more extravagant than others, but it seems the capitol and government buildings are always well crafted and ornate. My mother was mortified. Why are we wasting so much tax payer money on huge buildings when smaller ones would suffice? Why does the old capitol not used any more? And if we truly did outgrow, then why not use the empty spaces for offices or classrooms instead of building more schools? (At that one I could hear historians gasping and clutching their hearts.) I understand where she's coming from, but there's a small part of them that appreciates the fact we can have something nice to represent us.

Evidently, in London there is a Victorian Museum that showcases many of the royalty jewels. The ladies reaction was very similar to my Mother's. Why do they need so many diamonds and jewels? Wouldn't one or two tiara's suffice? Just how much jewelry and wealth does the royal family truly need? Don't they realize there are hungry people in their country?

Sell all you have and give to the poor.  It was a command Christ gave to a seeker. Honestly and realistically, I'm not sure I could do it. I enjoy sharing much of what I have, but there are also times selfishness is not a problem for me. Why should I share with someone who doesn't work and forfeit a vacation?  I watch people who are asking for handouts and assistance taking trips they can't afford and buying things they don't really need. And it makes me wonder, where some of those jewels or opulence of governmental leaders gifts from people? I wouldn't normally get rid of a gift someone gave me. Even if they sold the jewels or buildings and bought food or housing for the poor, how long would it be before the ones the benefacted be right back in the exact some spot? Or decided what they had been given or loaned, suddenly wasn't good enough for them?

I don't think I could live an excessively extravagant lifestyle (many people think I do because we eat out once a week and have a big house for 2 people). But I also struggle with knowing how much to share with the poor, and where the line is between enabling and helping.  I remember clearly what it was like to get up at 5am to get ready for work in the school cafeteria, rush to class, then rush to be a nanny, then rush to Taco Bell to work another 3 hours, then study until midnight. Those were hard days I don't want to repeat again. I remember watching the girls who didn't have to work goofing off in the library or student center, and wondering what it would be like. I agree with Louisa Mae Alcott, that the poor are always with us, and just as Christ wasn't opposed to expensive perfume being poured on him, sometimes I think it's okay to splurge a little. Sometimes.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

all things outside

In honor of today's three-digit forecast and air-conditioning (where I'll be), today's post is about the great outdoors. 

First up: the incredible effects of wasp spray:
 This picture doesn't quite do it justice, but the spray ate/dissolved 1/2 the depth of the nest, including the white cells.

Second: Arborvitae
 The above picture is of a healthy, dwarf arborvitae.
 It wasn't supposed to get over 5' tall. I'm 5'2.5"  I think somebody in the labeling department goofed.

And this picture is an unhealthy, dwarf arborvitae.

 A year or two ago we noticed these little pine cone thingies on the tree. I thought perhaps the tree had finally matured from the little funny looking ball seeds to miniature pine cones.

 I was wrong. Turns out these are bagworms. They build the bag out of the material they eat and silk they spin. Even while eating, they stay in their bags (as you can see in the above picture). During the winter they hibernate with their eggs. The females stay in place. The males become moths and fly to the females, mate, then die a few days later. One bag can hold a huge amount of eggs. So now we know why we had so many moths this spring. And while we can hopefully save the arborvitae next to it, I fear this one is too far gone. I spent two hours spraying 1/6 of the tree yesterday, but I fear it won't make a difference. Reference articles on line recommends to simply pull them off one at a time during the summer season, but there are simply too many to that. The more I learn about outdoor plants, the more I realize the seriousness of diseases and predators.

And last: speaking of predators, stray dogs. Someone put out a starving dog Sunday afternoon. Our chickens were out and he never bothered them. Bobby was all for trying to lock him up with food and keep him. Yesterday I heard the most awful racket, and discovered the dog going after one of the buffs. I managed to the run the dog off and the bird got away, but judging by the pile of feathers I wasn't optimistic about finding her in good shape. I did a quick scan of the yard and discovered all the feathers for one of our "babies" and all the other birds either camping out on the back porch or hiding under the ramp. On my second trip around the house, I found the terrified bird in hiding. Other than having all her rump feathers pulled out, she appears to be okay, and even joined the rest of the birds later. (I was afraid for that to happen due to hen's pecking problems, but she seems to be okay.)  Animal control came out last night but were unable to find the dog, though we saw him later that evening. They're supposed to come back again today with a cage trap. Meanwhile, no more free-ranging for the Bryan birds, and they are NOT happy about it. I know the dog was just hungry, but we can't have a dog around that will kill our birds.

And speaking of birds, maybe one day this week I can introduce you to our newest addition.

Monday, July 11, 2011

flippant, sad, and disturbing

A few weeks ago I saw the following bumper sticker:
Jesus paid for my sins,
so I'm making sure he got his money's worth!
I could just picture a few boys from high school laughing as they said something like this. The very concept makes me cringe, and also makes me wonder if they just think it's a funny comeback at those who make them feel uncomfortable for considering their sins, or if they truly haven't thought through the implications of the payment (which I don't think they have), or if they simply just don't care. I want it to be the first one, but I fear it's just mockery and flippancy at it's worst.


Saturday, July 9, 2011


Friday we made the opportunity to do something I have always wanted to do: attend Raleigh's Antique Extravaganza. They had a wide array of things for sale, such as:

Toys - from miniature metal soldiers to old wooden rocking horses and horse sticks, there where a few booths had toys on display. There was also a doll collector vendor who specialized in restoration, but I don't consider Raggedy Ann & Andy to be antique. :)

Linens - I love looking at linens and think they look nice, but since I don't use tablecloths or linen napkins or fancy hand towels, those are just nice things to look upon. A few booths I couldn't help but wonder if the linens were new but made using antique methods (tatted lace, hand embroidery, etc) I didn't stop to ask so I guess I'll never know.

Furniture/repurposing - There were a few booths that had antique furnishings, some fancy, some plain, and thoroughly enjoyed looking at those. Prices were all over the place, and many "showers" were more than willing to bargain. Too bad we weren't in the market for anything.  One of my two favorite repurposed pieces (both had me wishing I had taken my camera) were made into hall trees. One of them was made from porch railings and slats. The coat hangers were actually door knobs off of old doors. I thought it was very creative, though with its bulkiness you'd need a really large entryway to house it. The other was a smaller hall tree, but it was made from a feeding trough. That cracked me up.

There were a few things that made me a little sad, like bronzed baby shoes and yearbooks. Personal items in sales such as those always scream "unloved" to me, but it was also a good reminder that we waste way too much money on frivolous things that the next generation or two will simply get rid of.

A few things that I found funny and not antique - rotary dial telephones. Those were the first phones we had in our house (that I remember) and seeing them in an antique sale was strange. Metal cookie cutters - exactly like my Mom's. Not only where they metal, but the had little lever handles on top made from the same sheet of metal. I debated whether or not to get one that she didn't have, but decided since she so seldom makes cookies anymore (if ever) I'd pass. I started to tell Bobby those weren't antiques, but knowing that my parents got those as a wedding present and they'll celebrate 49 years of marriage this winter, I guess those cookie cutters are antique.

It didn't take as long to walk through the displays as I had anticipated, but we had fun anyway. It helped that it was very crowded. We may not ever make it back to another one (which would be fun), but it's one of those things I can cross off my "it'd be nice to do but don't know if I ever will" list.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

jump rope

My first grade niece was VERY excited this past year to be the only first grader to reach the first level in the jump rope club. I don't remember if it was 100 jumps or to jump non-stop for 1 minute, but she was elated. 

And then I read one of those magazine articles listing all the "short of time" exercises you can do that will help. You guessed it: jumping rope. Evidently 10 minutes of jumping rope will burn 100 calories.

Now, bear in mind, in elementary school, Jump Rope Days in PE were torture. They ranked right up there with relay races and running. And when I complained to Mom about it, that meant we had to PRACTICE jumping rope at home. Who else had pe homework but me? I did manage in middle school to go 6 or 7 jumps with tripping.

Bearing that small success in mind, I went to the toy room and untied the jump ropes I have from the cars and stuffed animals. I lasted all of thirty seconds before deciding another broken bone was not worth 100 calories and took the dumb string back inside. I'd rather usurp my time and walk the track. That can actually be almost enjoyable. Almost.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

what is educational?

Evidently in the mmmm, sigh, 15 years+ since I started college, things have changed. No, I'm not talking about  the laptop requirement and textbooks on computers. Yes, that has changed from back in the day, as well as many other things, but students now have to read a book BEFORE they arrive for orientation. Several years ago UNC's selection made quite an uproar. I don't even remember what it was now, but that was the first time I had ever heard about reading requirements before you even started classes that wasn't for a class (except for my AP English class in high school).

The N&O released the required reading list. Most of the schools had chosen either biographies or books about true stories that had current cultural significance, or dealt with an alumni, the history of the school/faith, etc (Here's the article with the list: ) Imagine my surprise when I get 2/3 through the list and see this:

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill: "Eating Animals," by Jonathan Safran Foer. An examination of the stories we use to justify our eating habits.
Say WHAT? I'm going to read the book, just to see what it says. I could be wrong. I shouldn't judge a book by it's title. But seriously, how is this going to help students with their college education? Granted, I have no idea what criteria are used in the book selection process, but it seemed wildly out of step with the other listings.  I suppose this book could be educational, but unless you're studying nutrition, I think a person's eating habits are PERSONAL, not educational.

Thoughts anyone?