Friday, February 27, 2009

Edge-of-Your-Seat Excitement!

These books were on our family bookshelf at home, long before I was born:
They were from my father's childhood. My father was born in 1922, and in the times in which he grew up, there was only One Thing: airplanes. Notice his drawing of "Lindbergh's Plane." The newspaper article, tho' not of interest to you, contains several names that have become part of the history of our town:
On the second page in, we find a...bread sticker? Also, in the corner, we find a Christmas seal with the inscription "Season's Greetings 1934." Don't your kids put stickers all over everything they own? (I m'self covered all the white space on my life-size David Cassidy poster with banana stickers. Charming covered the drawers of his boyhood dresser with same.):

Naturally, more newspaper photos of airplane-related news covers the back pages:

Inside the front cover of Uncle Tom Andy Bill, an inscription, "To Robert on his tenth birthday, from Uncle Bob." This would be 1932. The books are from the first decade of the 1900's, so the books may have been Uncle Bob's first. Both books have evidence of hard usage. I love that.

I always knew those two books were on the bookshelf at home, but never thought to pick them up and read them. My mother gave me the books about twenty years ago, so they sat on *my* bookshelf!
I picked them up recently. They are both set in Indiana in the 1820's, when it was a "baby state." I read Uncle Tom Andy Bill first. It may be the most exciting book I have ever read! I was on the edge of my seat every chapter. First the boys are chased by bears, then almost lost in a cave, robbed and nearly murdered by highwaymen, found Indian treasure. I kept asking myself, "are they going to make it?" followed by a little embarrassment, because the stories are narrated by one of the boys as an old man, so we can assume they survived every adventure. For us girls, there is also a little romance included.
The Bears of Blue River is a collection of bear stories. These are all "legendary" bears: one that glows with fire, one that "cannot be killed," etc. Also extremely exciting. The author points out that it was very necessary to hunt these animals, as their numbers were very high. He is very respectful of nature in general, and the boy characters are good role models. I recommend both of these books highly, for boys or girls of middle elementary age. (or girls who are over 50, as I am!)
I just wanted to give you a peek of my project which is "almost finished." It is a gift, so I can't do a proper unveiling for a couple of weeks yet. I have been a busy little worker bee here in the late of winter....
p.s. You can probably get the Charles Major books in your library. I do have an extra copy of Uncle Tom Andy Bill, so if you would like to have one for your own, let me know!


You know how you sometimes do things wrong, but keep doing them, expecting somehow for things to change? (Charming calls this his Definition of Stupidity.) I had been reading the daily entry from my One-Year Bible after lunch. Now, not that that is wrong or anything, but the beginning of my day had Not Been Going Well for awhile. For instance, our budget is extremely tight right now, and I found myself worrying about things. A lot. Then trying to spout Bible verses about God's provision. And still worrying.

This week, I decided to put Bible reading right at the beginning of the day. (as I used to do for years'n'years'years...) The result was immediate. The very first day, I found myself singing worship song in the shower. (now, you may think I said "worship songS," but no, I didn't. I am famous for my 90-second showers.) And all week, I have *noticed* a lack of worry about money/whether the cars will break down/whether....

Simply put, I have put the Lord back where He belongs. I don't mean at the beginning of the day, necessarily (I do know people who do devotions at other times), but putting Him back in the place of Being Fully Capable of Taking Care of Me.

And, as so often happens, God lets me know that He noticed. I opened the electric bill, and the balance was $0.00 for this month. A forgotten deposit was applied to the balance. Then there is the water bill. We had an old-style 6-gallon toilet which a) would "run" from time to time, using water for who-knows-how-long; I had a fear of it running while we were away for the weekend or something, and b) it would fill twice when flushed: swirly water going down, then filling up to the top of the bowl and going down Again, and then filling for the final time. We always knew we should replace the innards, but who actually messes with the toilet till it breaks?

One night it was running, and when Blackeyed Susan checked it, she broke the floaty-ball thing. When Charming went to the hardware store, he brought home a newfangled (to me) set-up with NO FLOATY-BALL. He put it in, and we set the little screw to have a little lower level in the bowl. Well, we just got the water bill, and last month's bill was $85.50. This month? (drumroll, please) $45.25. I still don't believe it: I'm waiting till next month to see if the water company made a mistake.

So, with this little windfall of non-money owed, I called the specialty-shoe store to see if they had a pair of Charming's shoes in stock. He wears an incredible EEEEEE width, and so he can't buy off-the-rack. I've tried buying at Zappo's, but usually they are out-of-stock-we'll-email-you-when-we-have-them-six-months-goes-by-then-we-don't-have-the-money. The New Balances you buy for 50-60 dollars are $120.00 plus tax in Charming's size at our local Weird-Size Footwear. (not to disparage them--they do a great service for people with bad feet.) I could get the shoes the next day (today), but just on the off-chance, I checked Zappos. Only 2 pair left!! it said when I typed in the size. How fast did I type Put it in My Cart at $85.95? And of course you know that Zappos has no shipping charges?

So now I have enough money to buy a pair for *me!* Fortunately, I can buy your $69.95-on-sale-for-$39.95 at Kohl's.

I called this post Bitty-bits, because I wanted to post a couple of photos of what I'm working on and some other vintage-y things, but my camera won't work (and, yes, I flipped the batteries to see if they were in wrong). So you're stuck for now...

God is good. All the time. And I always knew it, but the Gloom-and-Doom guys are really loud, and God is really soft-spoken. So, if I listen to Him at the beginning of the day, I can't hear the other guys so well. It just makes sense, doesn't it?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy 200th, Abe!

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln. One hundred years ago (1909), they changed the penny from the Indian Head version to that with Lincoln's image. I understand they are changing the penny this year, as well.

My own contribution to the celebration will be Lincoln's Favorite Cake:

1 c. butter............................ 2 tsp. baking powder
2 c. sugar...............................1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. milk.................................1 c. blanched almonds, chopped
3 c. cake or pastry flour......1/4 tsp. salt
................................................6 egg whites

Cream butter and sugar lightly.
Sift flour and baking powder together; and add alternately with milk to the first creamed mixture.
Add well-floured nuts, then vanilla.
Fold in stiffly beaten whites of eggs, to which salt has been added.
Bake in 4 layers (8 or 9" pans) in moderate 350 degree oven.
(Ice with boiled icing, to which 1/2 cup chopped, candied pineapple and cherries have been added.)

I just realized that no times were given for the oven. Oh, well, I think I can figure it out!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thoughts: But Maybe It's None of My Business Anyway

Have you read this article?

(knowing that this article will eventually "disappear" off the link because it is a newspaper article, I will give you the nutshell version):

A high-schooler with poor grades was made to wear a sandwich-board with his grades posted and had to stand on a busy intersection in his town for several hours. His parents, a pastor and his wife, were tired of their son making no effort, and not turning in homework even when they had supervised its completion. The article also mentioned that the parents each had "several academic degrees."

The "comments" listed below the article (for of course, we all can put in our two-cents' worth on everything on the internet, right?) ranged from "good for you, parents! if only everyone would do that" to "the ultimate in child abuse: humiliation--this is where C*lumbine killers come from." Let me put in my own $0.02, though I'm not sure it's even valid, you know?

We lived with similar frustration for sixteen years with our son Don Quixote. In first and second grades, he got straight A's, even if he didn't do his "seatwork," because, as his teachers said, "he get's 100% on every test, and that shows he knows the work." In third grade, the teachers began to clamp down: "Even if he knows it in his head, he still needs to learn to Do. The. Work. like everybody else." (homeschooling was in its infancy at that time, and I didn't know about it. Oh, the difference it would have made!) He always seemed to *not* be paying attention, but could give anything back to the teacher verbatim if asked.

Fast forward to high school. Though he could have been valedictorian easily, Don ended up somewhere near the bottom of the top 10%. He didn't care too much, even though I was frustrated at achievements missed. (one time, when he was about ten years old, my father congratulated him on a good report card, and Don said to him, "well, Grandpa, I could have done a lot better if I'd only APPLIED MYSELF." Guess he was listening at that parent-teacher conference!)

College was the most frustrating of all. We had talks with the academic dean and the head of the History Department (his major). Don failed several classes, by, you guessed it, not turning in any work. I don't know if all colleges work this way, but F's didn't add a "zero" to your average, they just didn't count them at all (in other words, they didn't work against you, you just "wasted" a credit). Don, brilliant in the extreme, had figured out just how many classes he could "blow" and still have credits enough to get his B.A. We were so angry that last semester, that we "strongly suggested" that he not walk in the Graduation ceremonies, as he had been a (disgrace? not the word I'm looking for. If I think of it, I'll edit this post) to his co-history majors, who had done all of the work.

I understand the frustration of the parents of that high-schooler. I scolded and cajoled and watched over many papers and assignments for Don, that maybe didn't get turned in anyway. At college, I had no way of knowing at all, a hundred miles away.

Later, as you may know, Don was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. This explained so many, many things. It wouldn't have made one bit of difference if we had made Don wear a sandwich board and stand on the corner by the mall. The biggest frustration with "aspies" is that, because they are wired differently, us "NT's" (neurologically typical people) can Never Understand How They Think. So, although the boy in the article maybe is "normal," and just doesn't try hard enough, maybe it's Something Else.

One more thought (because this is 'way longer than I thought it would be). WWJD? I don't see anywhere in Scripture where Jesus humiliated anyone (well, except for maybe the Pharisees) who was struggling. And I have to look at how He deals with me: Even when I should be called out for public ridicule for the things I do, He never, ever treats me with anything but love, dripping down like I was doused with honey. Why do we always forget that the way God treats us is the way we Should be treating our children?

So I said a prayer for the boy in the story. And two for the parents. Lord, show them the situation for what it is, and let Your love rule. If it was the right thing to do to help the boy "shape up," so be it. But if it was out of frustration, let this be an opportunity for learning on both sides. In any case, Lord, glorify Yourself.