Monday, January 29, 2007

pick a metaphor! i'm mixing mine.

I started with a couple skeins of yarn. Cheap, Lion Brand, faux-mohair acrylic, machine washable from Hobby Lobby. Just balls of yarn. And a crochet hook. And some instructions I printed off from Crochetme Magazine.

I read the instructions and, frankly, they didn't make much sense to me. Measure the back of your neck (A). Multiply it by your gauge (stitches per inch) (B). Crochet B stitches and then do a three stitch shell, mark the middle stitch. Crochet A stitches and do a three stitch shell, mark the middle stitch, 2DC in DC at the end of each row..etc.

These individual tasks made sense to me. I know how to use a measuring tape. I know how to count stitches per inch. It's not rocket science. But, I'm a big picture person. How this wobbly chain I held in my hands after the first round was going to become a sweater, I had no idea.

It's an act of faith. I can't think about what a waste of time this will be if the end product doesn't fit...or doesn't turn out at all. I can't think about how much I paid for the yarn or what else I could do with it when I rip the finished-but-awful project out and wind the yarn back up into balls and start over. I can't think about trying a new craft or putting this down and working on the sock monkeys I'm making for my nephews' birthday (sorry, Allison. I'm always late).

I have to take a deep breath, reread the instructions and start hooking. I have to trust the pattern. And you know what? Very slowly it starts to make sense. After a few rounds I see that the shell stitches are forming corners and the 2DCs on the ends are creating a v-neck. The pattern said I was also creating sleeves--which seemed absurd--but as I hooked and read on, suddenly, I understood that the fabric just wraps around to make cap sleeves.

It's like the sweater is magically forming in my hands. I'm working on it, sure, but without any true understanding of what each step contributes to the whole. I couldn't have guessed how it would take shape. I saw the pictures with the pattern online, but the cryptic instructions upon first reading them seemed unable to call the sweater into being. It was beyond me. And yet, here it is. I had to put the instructions into action and that doing gave meaning to the words, proved them true.

And soon I'll have a new sweater. I'll post a finished pic ('s going to be longer than this).

Friday, January 26, 2007

bought it at the five and dime, played it 'til my fingers bled

1. I am learning to play The Beatles' "Blackbird." This is a) a fine challenge b) good fun c) causing great pain. I love finger picking and I really, really, want to improve. My fingers just hurt a lot. I'm also learning David Wilcox's "Strong Chemistry" which is unlike anything I've ever played before--bending strings and whatnot. Robin has set a goal for me to take the techniques and chords in these two songs and use them in songs of my own. This is generally what I do anyway. I learn a new song with a new trick and I crib it. But having it thusly formalized into an assignment makes me a little nervous. Especially the Wilcox. Should be interesting.

2. I finished reading Jane Eyre. Let me say that a)I am a really fast reader and b)it is my goal this year to take advantage of having everybody in school from 12:15-3:15 and I took advantage of it this week by reading Jane Eyre. Also, a couple months ago I bought a Mighty Bright Book Light at Prairie Books and it has changed my life. I know, it's a book light. But now I can sit up (or lie for that matter) in bed with a tiny little led light illuminated my pages and not disturb Paul. It's the greatest.

But back to Miss Eyre. She is EVERY BIT as SAUCY in the book as she is portrayed in Master Piece Theater. I just never read it that way. I read her as akward and unused to soceity. But she totally flirts and teases Mr. Rochester. Perhaps it's because she is unused to soceity that she takes such liberties, but she totally takes them. It's fantastic. The scene at the end Sunday night where she asks leave to see her dying Aunt Reed and needs her wages is straight off the pages. He gives her the money and says he wants it back, she holds her purse behind her back and tells him he's "not to be trusted." There's all sorts of back and forth that is just delicious.

If you haven't read it, do. It's creepy and scary and romantic. Aaaaaaahhhhh...Jane Eyre.

3. I scheduled my PRAXIS test. This is the standardized test I need to get into the masters program at Hastings College. This is THE MATH. By Monday March 12 I need to have my ducks in a row. I borrowed a book from the library with practice tests and whatnot and it is all a little scary to me. It's been a long time since I've studied for anything--really sat down and systematcally studied for a test. And then to have it be math?! The last math I took was Algebera II my junior year in high school.

4. We should be getting our Fit in a couple weeks. At first the salesman got on the computer to try and find us a car and we realized he wasn't even talking about real cars, but potential cars. He was looking at which cars were slated for production in February and Japan. So the car would have to first be built and then shipped over. It would be like eight weeks from the cars birthday to when we got it. At that point Paul and I were both thinking that we could have an XB in our driveway next week, wouldn't that be nice?

But Mr. Salesman had one potential Fit coming his way (red and automatic, we want silver and stick) so he put that up for trade on some Honda dealer website and somebody bit. So when the potential red automatic is born it will be shipped to Portland. In the meantime silver stick Fit is being put on a train in Portland headed toward Kansas City, and then on a truck to Grand Island. What a world we live in. When I think about all the carbon emmissions used in getting us our high gas mileage vehicle I wonder what the point is.

5. Today I am going to Ollie's preschool class with my icecream maker! We're going to make icecream for snack. Now, I know I talk all the time about wanting to be Laura Ingalls, but Laura Ingalls had to make ice cream with rock salt and churning and whatnot. I'm sure that would be fun for the kids...and educational. But that's not what is happening today. Today I am taking my stainless steel Cuisinart state-of-the-art icecream maker, filling it with milk and cream and sugar, plugging it in and in 30 minutes we will have ice cream. There are days when it pays not to be Laura Ingalls.

6. Yesterday the City of Hastings trucks rolled up in front of our house to take away the branches from the ice storm Dec. 30. Oliver and I stood on the porch and watched the great machine scoop up the piles of branches in it's great teeth and drop them in the back of the truck and then smash them down. It was very cool. And cooler yet: they broke for lunch and left the giant scooper (I'm sure it has a real name) parked in front of our house--a four year old's dream. We no longer look like we live in a beaver dam.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

a good quote from our nest of nerdlings

"I have a question, Mom. At lunch today I was sitting with the boys and they were talking about patriots and I was confused. Does patriots have two meanings? Because I thought patriots were the people who didn't want us to have a king, but it sounded like they were talking about basketball or something."

Monday, January 22, 2007

coat of contention

I'm the sort of gal who, for the most part, marches to the beat of her own drummer. I've never been much of a people-pleaser; never been too worried about people's opinions about me, especially when it comes to my appearance. I wear what I like. I like to be comfortable. I try to look nice when the occasion calls for it and settle for presentable most days. I have my girlie moments when makeup and new clothes are all that will make me happy, but most days are not like that.

This winter I bought a new coat. My mom bought me a coat last year (or the year before..?) that is gorgeous. It is fitted and stylish. I love it. But I could never throw it on over sweats to run an errand. I could never throw it on over a bulky sweater or sweatshirt because it has too snug a fit.

We live across the street from the kid's school. I walk back and forth three times a day, five days a week. I take Phoebe & Mo over every morning at 8. I take Ollie over every day at 12. I go over and walk them all home at 3:15. And while it's right across the street, there's a big field between our house and the building. And, for those of you don't live here, it is very windy and very cold here in the winter. I wanted a coat I could bundle up in for the purpose of walking to school or doing any sort of outside activity that didn't require me to be somewhat dressy. (Can you think of an outdoor activity for which you'd want to be dressy?)

So, I looked around and ordered this coat from Land's End: The Women's Down Chalet Long Coat in "olive drab." It's down-filled (hence the name) so it's light as a feather (haha) and it feels like being inside a sleeping bag. It's soft and comfy. It's so warm it actually gets uncomfortable in the grocery store. It comes down past my knees so at 8:00 in the morning when it is 3 degrees I can put on my fake ugg boots and my big coat and all that shows is about three inches of pants, so no one has to know that I am still in my flannel pj's. It is perfect. I love this coat. I crocheted a hat and scarf in self-striping 100% wool Norro yarn that matches perfectly. Good stuff!

But every time I wear it, someone makes a comment. "Boy, you're bundled up!" "That's quite a coat!" "Whoa! How cold is it out there today?!" Those are things that strangers say. A lady in line behind me at St. Joseph Gift & Thrift actually patted my shoulders to feel the coat and said, "That is some kind of coat!" My friends say things like, "Wow, that is puffy!" Someone at church just laughed the other day and said, "Warm enough?"

Now, a few of these comments I could have ignored, but everyday somebody says something about it. And while nobody has said, "You look like an idiot in that coat", I seldom hear, "What a great coat!" The volume of decidedly NEUTRAL comments makes me suspicious. Why make a comment if it is neutral? Why draw attention to the coat and say "that's some kind of coat." It is some kind of coat. It's the Women's Down Chalet Long Coat.

Why do people care about my coat? It's such a weird thing...because it seems to me a pretty normal coat. It's not an outlandish color. Does "drab olive" sound outlandish? It doesn't have any exciting embellishments--no fur collar, no embroidered cuffs, no reflective strips, no fancy buttons, no nothing. It's a quilted nylon parka with down filling.

Maybe I look funny in the coat. Maybe I look like the Stay-Puffed Marshmallow Man. I know I don't look the model in the picture. The picture shows a far more accentuated waist than is perceivable when I am wearing it. But it's not ridiculous.

Im starting to feel a little self-conscious about it.

Will I stop wearing it? Heck no. I say again, it's like walking around in a sleeping bag and no one can see that I'm still in my pajamas. When you find a coat like that, you can't go back. I'm wearing this sucker every day. But if you see me wearing it don't say a thing.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Hold on to Your Virtue!

Sunday night on PBS: Masterpiece Theater presents a new, two-part production of

Check your local listings; hold on to your virtue; and beware of what lurks in the attic.

Friday, January 19, 2007

First books, Now Movies

Here is our Netflix Rental History for the past four or so months (and in reverse order). What are you watching?

Currently at home:

Word Wars
Documentary @ Scrabble...halfway through and it's fabulous--a good companion to Wordplay & Akeelah

Born into Brothels
Documentary @ the daughters of Indian prostitutes. I think filmed in part by the girls...?Haven't watched it yet.

The Chorus
French Mr Holland's Opus/Stand & Deliver. Maybe cheesey, maybe great...we'll see.

Who Killed the Electric Car?
Incredibly disturbing documentary about the EV-1 and California's repealed zero-emissions policy.

Strangers with Candy
I really wanted to like it.

See this.

Nacho Libre
Watched ten minutes and sent it back.

Undeclared: The Complete Series: Discs 1 & 2
Very funny show.

A Prairie Home Companion
See Nashville above.

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown

Da Ali G Show: Season 1
I cringed and had to leave the room. I laughed my head off. Hated it. Loved it. Can't wait to see Borat. Don't want to see Borat.

An Inconvenient Truth
Everyone should watch this. See here.

Jeeves and Wooster: Season 1: Discs 1 & 2
Fantastic use of language in this BBC comedy based on PG Wodehouse. Hugh Laurie (House) and Stephen Fry are fabulous. Over the course of 10 years, we've watched these again and again.

Akeelah and the Bee
Love it. Made me want to spell better.

Northern Exposure: Season 1: Disc 1
Not as good as I remembered, only watched one disc.

Quiz Show
Good film. In queue for "Dinner & Movie" discussion night

Mrs. Henderson Presents
Enjoyed it.

The Facts of Life: The Complete First and Second Seasons: Disc 1
Better than I remember it.

The Apostle
Duvall is as good as it gets.

Freaks & Geeks: The Complete Series: Discs 1 through 6

Tender Mercies
Again, Duvall.

Brokeback Mountain


Very Good. But after these three films Netflix would only recommend gay & lesbian films to us.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 5: Complete Series: Discs 1 & 2
Larry David is awful and wonderful. Such a funny, funny show. Love Larry David as a character but would not want to have dinner with him.

King Kong

Bottle Rocket

The Looney Tunes Golden Collection
Great for kids and parents.

My Life in Pink

The Squid and the Whale
Very good.

The Cutting Edge: Going for the Gold
The original was delightfully cheesey. This one simply sucked. But what did I expect?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

talkin' 'bout chest hair & crazy cool medallions

Even though it's totally simple, it took me many tries to figure this out...but I still feel like a web genius.

Without further ado, I bring you five minutes and forty seconds of silliness that cracks me up everytime I think about it. Enjoy.

HEY! This is my 100th post!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Reading is Fundamental!

Faith Lutheran Book Discussion Group
Picks for 2007
We meet the second Thursday of the month
@ The Blue Moon in Hastings.
All are welcome.
January 11
by Jonathan Safran Foer
February 8
by Kim Edwards
March 8
by Dave Eggers
April 12
by Stephen King
May 10
by William Styron
Other Recent Reads:
by Claire Tomalin
by Jane Austen
by Jane Austen
by John Irving
by Beverly Cleary
by C.S. Lewis
A Boxcar Children Mystery
by Gertrude Chandler Warren
by Bobby Lynn Maslen
I've been leading the book group for almost three years now, I think. The goal was to read "secular books" with spiritual themes for discussion. Sometimes the goal is met, sometimes not. I try very hard to strike a balance between books that are good for discussion -- which generally means literary, difficult, and with much racier subject matter than one would expect to find in a church sponsored group -- and books that are fun reads that everyone likes. Too many "fun books" and discussion is left to "Gee, that was funny. I like it." Then we all go home. Too many "tough books" and book group becomes more like work than fun.
We just read Everything is Illuminated. It was a small turnout. It was a hard book. But it was the best discussion we'd had in ages because it was just chalk-full of goodness. Have you ever read a hilarious book about the Holocaust? Is okay to laugh? One of the narrators is a Ukrainian guy writing in his second language, English, which leads to some fantastic, albeit a little off, use of language. If you think Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris is funny, Alex in Everything is Illuminated will have you rolling.
I am clearly, a Jane Austen freak. I seldom read biographies but I for some reason I felt compelled to. I wound up in stacks at Hastings Public Library that I'd never been to. About once I year a read one of these: Sense & Sensibility, Emma, or Pride & Prejudice. It's my three-year Austen lectionary. But Northanger Abbey & Mansfield Park I hadn't read in ages. I have Tana at the Well Read Book trying to get me a copy of Persuasion--the only one I don't own.
The author I've read more than my dear Jane is C.S. Lewis. We already read the Chronicles of Narnia once with the kids. Phoebe remembers much of it, but the boys don't so we thought we'd start in again.
I think I've read all of John Irving...I think. That Piggy Sneed book I just couldn't finish. Ditto for Son of the Circus. Other than those two, I get a kick out of Irving. A Prayer for Owen Meany remains at the top of my all-time list.

It was such a joy to have Phoebe read Ramona to me. Such a great character! I could take or leave the Boxcar Children, but the kids are so totally into it. Each chapter is a cliff-hanger of sorts and they can't take it. The beg to be read more. Over the course of reading a half dozen Boxcar Mysteries, they now will gather clues and make guesses. It's fun, even if the Boxcar Children are a bunch of goody-goodies who only have adventures because their rich grandfather pays for them. All three of my kids have learned to read with the Bob Books. If you have kids who know their letter sounds--this is the best set of early readers I've found, and believe me, I've looked.
What are you reading?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

There was an important factor that I didn't count on when we showed An Inconvenient Truth at church. Maybe it shows that I am out of touch with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Maybe it shows that I haven't been paying attention. Maybe it doesn't show anything, I don't know. But what I didn't count on was this: many Republicans have a deep dislike and distrust for Al Gore.

Now, I must say here, that out of the 24 people who came to watch and discuss (more than double the usual turn out when we show feature films), I am talking about the vocal minority. There were four or five very outspoken people out of the bunch--but they rattled me. They were predisposed to not believe a thing Gore said. They were predisposed to believe that he was selling hype to further his political career.

I simply had never thought of Al Gore that way.
I never really thought about the movie as being partisan--which is totally my bad --because as soon as the discussion started people, ideas, science was sliced up into what was Republican and what was Democrat.

I have only fairly recently switched political parties. Most of my life I was a Republican. My parents are conservative (though we never had any sort of political discussion at home) and so, at 18, I voted like Mom and Dad and didn't really think about it. During the 2000 presidential campaign, in St. Louis (when I was gigantically pregnant with Moses, born November 3) we hosted a series of "Debate Parties" where we'd invite a bunch of folks over the watch the debates and discuss. It was hard to get a good mix of conservatives and liberals, as we were at an LCMS seminary, but we managed to get some diversity and it was so great. I learned a lot. I was torn between voting for Gore because of his environmental passion and record, but ultimately voted for Bush as a single-issue pro-life voter. That's where I was at the time. Though I voted against Gore, it wasn't an easy decision because of the environment.

Paul, as a biology major and nature enthusiast turned me onto being green when we met. He was passionate about birds and their habitat, fighting invasive species (curse you, purple lustrife!) and restoring native prairies and wetlands, recycling and whatnot. I always thought recycling was a good idea and would throw my can in a recycle bin if there was one -- but I hadn't connected it with my faith as "environmental stewardship." I vaguely remember being annoyed at Paul's insistence on considering the environment in making decisions early in our marriage. Over the years we've both gotten more and more serious and deliberate about making green choices: cloth diapers, compact fluorescent light bulbs, recycling, composting, keeping the house cool in the winter and warm in the summer, buying local farmer's market produce when we can, shopping second hand before buying new, considering product packaging at the grocery store, buying wind energy, riding bikes around town when the weather permits, etc. These things all came about gradually and over time without too much adjustment or sacrifice (okay, the light bulbs when they first came out at like $12 a pop were a sacrifice).

Over time my political views have changed as well -- and almost as gradually. While my thoughts on abortion haven't changed, they are tempered with much more compassion than in my youth and "pro-life" has come to have a much broader definition in my mind (ie: I don't think war is pro-life). Paul's work with the poor since entering the ministry has brought many social issues into focus for me. Though I hadn't really thought of myself as Republican for some time, it wasn't until right before the last presidential election I marched into the county courthouse and officially switched parties.

So, that's the baggage I brought to movie. Back to the story.

During the discussion a man mentioned scientists they heard refuting "the theory of global warming" on Rush Limbaugh. This was an epiphany for me. He thinks of Al Gore the way I think of Rush Limbaugh. I really had to stop and give these folks some serious props. That's the way they feel about Gore and they came to watch the movie and discuss it. Would I have gone to hear Rush Limbaugh speak about anything? If there was documentary of Donald Rumsfeld talking about the war would I be able to go in with an open mind and hear what he was saying?

I decided to start thinking about things relatively (lowering my expectations a bit) and be glad for people coming and showing any interest at all. I could debate the rights & wrongs of the biases we walked into the movie with, but we all had them, and with that in mind, it was big of some of these folks to come.

In the end, almost everyone believed that, if not global warming exactly, humans are having a negative impact on the environment. And we should do something.

That's a start, anyway.

Before the showing of the film, I wouldn't have guessed that anyone would NOT BELIEVE IN global warming. I wouldn't have guessed someone would, in all honesty, not understand why a person would pay extra for wind energy. I get that people have different priorities and chose not to, but to NOT understand the concept....? I wouldn't have guessed that people would choose not to do something because they see no immediate personal benefit ("If I use stick deodorant instead of aerosol, will I have better fishing next year? I don't think so.")

It was eye opening.

I told the group that I like Al Gore. I told them that my "practicing environmentalism" (for lack of a better term) flows out of my faith and parallels it. I follow Christ and sometimes I see a huge impact from it. But most of the time, it doesn't feel like I'm changing the world. But I keep on praying, I keep serving, I keep believing because that's who I am. I do it out of obedience and out of gratitude to what Christ has done for me. I buy compact fluorescent bulbs not because it makes the sky above my house bluer (though if we all did....) but because I am a steward of this earth and that's how I help care for it. I do it ecause it's right, right?

After that discussion and our "Is God Green?" bible study the next morning I felt like a freak. I felt like I was on the outside looking in at a culture I don't understand but am supposed to be a part of. I felt like somebody in this group is wrong and somebody is crazy and maybe it's me. How could I see the world so differently from those around me?! How could these people whom I love and respect and enjoy come to conclusions completely opposite to my own? I called Susan and asked if she would like to start a commune with me for theologically conservative, socially progressive Lutherans.

I've since settled down. I haven't really reconciled all those feelings, but I don't know how to change any of it. My friend Jeremy often talks about homesickness: that we all long for our true home in heaven where all is right. I guess I'm feeling homesick. Until I go home, I guess I'll just have to keep working to make this temporary home more like that one. And start a commune. Any takers?

Monday, January 15, 2007

laughing my head off

1. Phoebe was giving everyone nicknames on Saturday morning after all three kids had climbed in bed with us. "Mom is Guitarlady. Papa is Birdman. Moses is Legoboy. Ollie is Natureboy. And I'm "Love-My-Family-Girl." At this point we all rolled our eyes, gagged on the saccharine and promised to remind her of that nickname in about ten minutes when she started terrorizing her brothers. I said, "I would have called you CraftySally." Ollie said, "I would have called you Crap." I laughed my head off. He had heard "crap" on "Dirty Jobs" and--bless his little heart-- didn't know what it meant. Now he does. But darnit, the name didn't stick.

2. Moses lost a tooth last Wednesday.

3. Not to be outdone, Phoebe yanked a tooth out on Thursday. That night Paul was sick in bed with Strep and I had rehersal for Friday's show, which lead to bourbon drinking and merry-making. I got home late and went right to bed. In the morning Phoebe came in and said, "Guess what the tooth fairy brought me. Nothing." Ooops. I suggested that Phoebe wasn't on her master schedule since she had yanked the tooth out before it's time. Paul shouted from the other room, "Maybe she was in a horrible accident! Did anyone stop to think of that?!" I laughed my head off. The kids did too--we're raising people as twisted as we are.

4. I cut Oliver's hair.

5. Phoebe drew this picture on the white-board in our kitchen. If I had any reason to be ashamed or worried, I would have been horrified and erased it. As it is, I laughed my head off. "Mama likes wine. Papa loves birds." (why does this look like a link? it's not.)

6. The show was wonderful on Friday. As I said, it was a full-house. Robin did a seven minute interview on Live at the Mill on Friday morning. It's a live show on our NPR affiliate out of Lincoln showcasing arts around the state. She was also on local radio. We both did interviews for a very nice article that ran in the Hastings Tribune. The publicity helped, but people just seemed really excited to hear local musicians/songwriters.
I did the opening song "Ohio" with Robin & Cody on vocals, Dan on banjo, Christie on fiddle and Jay on bass. I was nervous, especially to go first, but it went well. Everything went well, barring my Weepies cover in which I couldn't seem to get my fingers to play C-sharp-minor. Thankfully, Peter was wailing away and covered it some. Oh well. I sang harmony on a couple tunes--Stephen Foster's "Hard Times", on which almost everybody played and Cody's cover of Kasey Chamber's "Pony." Robin & I split the vocals on Dave Carter's "I Go Like the Raven" because neither of us wanted to learn all those crazy words. I played accordion on Todd's "Blackbird" and the song he and I wrote together which is either called "Black 13" or "Nothing Comes Easy." On that last one I not only manged to play accordion and sing harmony, but to dance, as well, because it is most definatley a dance tune (especially with Jay on drums). Most of you have no idea who these folks are or what it all means and to that, I say, you'll just have to come to the next show.

For me, the highlights were Dan & Todd singing "Wagon Wheel", Christie playing fiddle on "I Go Like the Raven", Cody singing "Blackberry Blossom" and Todd & I nailing "Black 13." And we raised much needed cash for the Listening Room. The LR is a non-profit, volunteer run organization that is generally short on cash. We have our sales tax due shortly and now we can pay it, plus have a cushion going into the spring season. Yeah.

7. I almost killed somebody with a peanut allergy(okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration). We had some friends over, spur of the moment the other night. Friend #1 brought some cookies. I know she has a nut allergy. She was looking at the ingredients list with new friend #2. I figured #2 must also have a nut allergy, but didn't think much of it because nobody said anything to me. I made cookies from some frozen dough given to me as a Christmas gift. I was pretty sure it had peanut butter in it. I set the tray down on the table and said, "I think these have peanuts so..." And #2 literally ran for the door. She was grabbing her coat to get out of the house. It turned out fine--the cookies didn't have peanuts, but if she had even smelled peanuts she would have started throwing up and turning blotchy. Now, I'm totally aware of how serious nut allergies can be--I'm no allergy deny-er (I saw Freaks & Geeks when super-bully Allan put peanuts in Bill's sandwich), but I guess I'd thought there'd be a warning that I might send somebody to the hospital! Now I know. Hopefully #2 and I can still be friends, as this was the first time we really hung out. Oops. I felt awful.

8. We're buying a Honda Fit. It was down to the Scion XB and The Fit, which cost the same, have the same amount of interior space, the same warranty, about the same gas mileage and are almost alike in everyway--except the XB looks a lot cooler. A lot. Price & gas mileage were our two big factors. We just can't afford a hybrid at this stage, but want the next best thing. Then Paul read here that you can save 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year if your new car gets only 3 miles per gallon more than your current one. The Honda Fit gets 3 miles per gallon more than the XB. Done.Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Here's the Deal

My computer went nutso on me. I thought it just had a virus that a trip to the doctor would fix. Really, it needed some sort of dialysis--removing the operating system, cleaning it and putting it back in. This took time and cost me money. Both made me sad. Then I finally get the thing home and my whole ethernet connection stopped working. There's no phone jack in the office so alltel (now windstream) hooked us up with some ethernet craziness--that instead of being wifi, it uses the electrical lines in the house to carry the internet. Wierd. So a box is hooked up to a phone jack in the laundry room and plugged into the wall and then I have a box in the office that plugs into the wall and into the phone port in my computer. Magic. Except one box stopped working. Now I have to wait until the UPS man brings me a new magic electrical outlet internet box. In the mean time I've been walking across the street to Paul's office once a day to check email. A thousand times a day I think of stuff I'd like to google and many of those thoughts have had to do with how to fix my computer--which left me in a double bind.

So that's my excuse for not blogging. Believe me, when I'm up and running I have a lot to say. I have pictures to share. I live an exciting life, people.

I will say this--we had our Artists in Residence show at the Listening Room last night and it was a full house. We cleared $2,100. We rocked that place. I stood up on stage and wailed on my accordion and I'm not even joking. Good times.

Right now I have to get ready for "dinner and a movie" at church. We're watching an Inconvenient Truth and I discovered Sunday at our "Is God Green?" Bible study that there are people who aren't concerned/don't care/don't believe that the environment is falling apart. Of course I know there must be such people in the world--the Hummer exists, doesn't it? But it's wierd to have farmers and railroadmen in on a discussion about the environment (I didn't really even know there were really railroadmen anymore, I must confess). So I have no idea what this will be like. I do know that I'm making killer centerpieces out of recycled materials. Maybe I'll take pictures.

Here's the big question: why isn't anyone else blogging? People, I need to read your blogs. Get your acts together, please!

Second big question: new colors--are they hidious? I'm going to keep tweaking.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I consider myself a fairly smart cookie. But I have recently been confounded. When director Robert Altman died in Novemember NPR simply gushed with praise for his cinematic work. I was intrigued. I had been meaning to put Prairie Home Companion in my Netflix queue, simply because I like the radio program so much...and Meryl Streepe. I went one step further and put Altman's much touted Nashville in the queue as well.

I have now watched both films.

I am now very confused as to what the excitement is about.

Prairie Home Companion was palletable because I know the radio show and the cast was fantastic. How can you beat Kevin Klein as Guy Noir? Or Meryl Streepe and Lilly Tomlin as singing sisters? Or John C. Reilly and Woody Harrelson as Dusty & Lefty (or Lefty and Dusty, though it doesn't really matter, they come as a pair either way). There was music and sketches, which I enjoyed, but there was also the Angel of Death and plot that meandered but didn't go anywhere...and also Lindsay Lohan, who I enjoy on the pages of People Magazine, but not in a real movie. Paul watched half and was disinterested enough to leave off at that.

Last night we watched Nashville. Again, there was music, which I enjoy. I especially enjoy cheesey bad country music and there was plenty to go around. But there was also this cast of thousands whose stories intersected randomly and whose characters were half developed and a shred of a plot that left all questions half-asked and totally unanswered at the end. Two hours in (and ready for bed) we laughed that it might go on forever because the story wasn't building toward anything at all.

Someone please tell me what I'm missing here.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


I wanted a new look. I'm not married to it, though. I might keep changing it. What color is really me? I'm open to suggestions.

Happy? It's new anyway.

1. I've been trying to post, but my computer is driving me insane. I installed the new Internet Explorer, but now I don't have Flash Player and the "install Flash Player" box pops up on every website and everytime I hit "install" but it never does--so I can't watch video. Then I installed the new Windows Media Player (because, like with IE, it asked me to everytime I opened it up) and now I can't open it at all. It tells me to restart the computer and log on as an administrator. I am the administrator. I'm "Valued Customer." I'm the only one. Then yesterday I was uploading images to share with you and I would wait and wait and wait and then it would say "can not display page." Grrr. I'm open to advice.

2. We had an ice storm the week before Christmas. We couldn't believe what happened to our trees. Then we had another ice storm on the 30th and we laughed that the first storm bothered us at all. Thankfully we didn't lose power or phones or anything, but thousands of people between Kearney and Hastings are still out....and it's cold out here on the prairie. I will supply photos of our dessimated trees when my stupid computer, or the stupid internet allows. I will say this: living in a parsonage rocks. Sunday afternon a team of folks with chainsaws appeared and started cleaning up the yard. Somebody climbed up on the icy roof and plugged the holes with rags. A couple of branches just speared the roof--not all the way through--I can't see out through my bedroom ceiling--but holes just the same. We'll be getting a new roof. And guess what? I live in the parsonage, so I don't really have to do plan that, or pay for it, or worry about it. Maybe I should rephrase and say living in a parsonage rocks when your congregation is incredibly generous and attentive and caring. That's the part that rocks.

3. I'm done teaching High School Sunday School for a few months and I'm ready for the break.

4. I booked two shows for The Listening Room this spring! I finalized details with Jalan Crossland for a Feb 17 show yesterday and sealed the deal for a May 5 show with Storyhill a few weeks ago. I keep emailing my co-producer Robin (who has been doing this for 17 years and sees nothing glamorous about it anymore) and saying "look at me! i'm booking shows! i'm talking to jalan crossland on the phone! he's calling me at home! i'm contacting booking agents!" It's all exciting and new.

5. I also wrote half the brochure for the LR's spring season yesterday. Another new thing. Fun stuff.

6. We had a great Christmas. The kids and I went to the 7:30 Christmas Eve worship service. It was fairly small (which is why I go) now that we have three services that night. We give out glow sticks instead of candles, which is far less romantic, but the fire depatrtment isn't busting in and shutting us down AND it's much less scary with all the kids in there. Christmas morning there were over 50 people caroling at the hospital. I was fine until I saw that a very sweet and recently widowed man was among the carolers (the funerals was four days before Christmas) and I got a little misty--sniffled my way through the hymns.

7. We had a great visit from family. Much Scrabble was played--with much smack talked at the table. We hung out with the fam. The cousins ran crazy. We had six adults and five kids under seven sleeping under the roof of this modest ranch house and nobody went crazy. I made yummy icecream and frozen margaritas in my new icecream maker.

8. A good friend of ours has a New Year's Eve birthday and always has a party the 30th. For the past few years that has served as our "night out" and we've stayed in on the 31st. We didn't even stay up until midnight. We played scrabble, read in bed and I fell asleep. Paul said he heard fireworks and such at midnight. Lame, I guess, but fine with me.

9. The kids go back to school tomorrow. Yesterday in the midst of angst and turnmoil and fighting and rudeness I thought "what is happening here? what is wrong with us?" And the answer, which came to me as I was laying in bed last night, was "it's the tail end of Christmas break." That's all. It's just time to go back to school. But why go back on a Thursday? Wierd.

10. Happy New Year to you all. Hope you had a great holiday.