Monday, May 31, 2010

This N That

Little Miss. Flower fell into (my) bed with a smile on her face last night because she got to play at her swing set "at home" yesterday surrounded by her kittens. She is having a marvelous time "cooking" with all manner of items made available by the construction: rocks, sand, dirt, wood chips and shavings, little chunks of concrete, etc. and isn't phased at all by the way the swing-sets are crammed together. She is just happy, happy, happy to be at her little spot, with her little friends, doing her little girl thing.

While Flower played we worked, though she did pitch in for some of it; washing down plaster ceilings and walls on the 2nd floor, along with more miles of floor boards and the built in cabinet, (which continues to smell like incense from the 80's) with odo-ban, which we then painted with sealant. The second floor no longer smells like smoke at all. It smells like 100 proof alcohol. Shewee! Even with face masks on and frequent breaks for fresh air, we were all feeling a little buzzed from the stuff. Continued sanding the stair rail and took hardware off of doors, which we are re-using all around the house once they are re-finished. They are beautiful thick hardwood and will be just lovely re-done.

More sorting of smoked items in the garage today. We are almost done and I can't wait to be finished. I don't think I will ever forget the choking, ashy smoky smell from the fire. Ever.

Spent a couple of hours at the counter top place yesterday picking out counter for the kitchen and bathrooms. The gal helping me was terrific and had so many great ideas. There are so many choices!! I have been all over town with my birch board, with it's host of various stains along with samples of the kitchen hardware. Every time I think I have a clear idea, I make my way to another show-room with 27million other choices and ideas, each more beautiful than the last.

Feche-boy is making his way through Latin, 1/2 way done with Bio and 2/3 finished with Algebra. Poor boy will be working on it throughout the summer, but he is reveling in frequent bike breaks and writing, so I hope that eases the pain a bit.

Family reinforcements from the east will be here in a couple of days to help at the acreage. The notsolittles are doing the daily countdown, waiting eagerly for cousins to arrive!

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I was standing at the corner of the house yesterday, surrounding by dirt, rocks and disorder and feeling 2 things: overwhelmed by the mess of our house and overwhelmed by the miracle of our house.

When we moved to our acreage over 6 years ago we had a list of things we wanted to accomplish. It was a long and expensive list. The property had been so neglected and abused that it wasn't really till last summer that we had (almost) run out of projects to do that required more money than sweat and until that point we'd done our fair share of sweating to redeem the 10 acres we lived on.

More than once I've stood at a property line and fiercely prayed that God would equip us to do what we believed we were called to do with the acreage: redeem, restore, re-claim, re-build. I've prayed that the right people, materials, supplies and equipment would be delivered to do more than we could ask or imagine.

And yesterday as I looked around I realized that I was, indeed, witnessing the answer to those prayers in a miraculous, out of left field way. How else can you explain the list that is being accomplished for this house: new wiring, new plumbing, new heat and air, new and extra bathrooms, more bedrooms, new kitchen, new windows, refinished wood-work, finished basement, finished attic, re-insulated. For those of you who've worked on houses, you know the above list represents a lot of money, and for those of you who know us, it's obvious we haven't had those amounts.

We've been studying Exodus in Beit Midrash and we studied chapters 17 & 18 in the same week. In Chapter 17, the Israelites are accosted by the Amalakites. God allows them to defeat this rebel tribe by an act of seemingly strange behavior- Moses has to lift his hands, the physical embodiment of prayer. Directly after, Moses is confronted by Jethro, the priest of Midian, who also happens to be Moses' father in law, but that is really a side story here. The real story is that on their way to meet God at Mt. Sinai, the people were accosted. Much like many of us. We are on our way to met God when we find ourselves in a slug fest with people we barely know or situations that are overwhelming, for reasons that don't make sense. And it looks like we'll lose. Right after deliverance. So, we lift our hands to heaven, often with the help of those who know the Lord, and He prevails, allowing us to escape defeat.
And then, as we continue on, we often find ourselves in the presence of someone sent to guide and direct us, help us on the way. A political alliance. Jethro's faith in Yahweh is secured, he offers sacrifice, he offers advice, he offers a treaty and the people continue on in the way that they should go, on their way to met God at Mt. Sinai.

The miracle of our house seems a lot like the above to me. Accosted in the form of a fire, a funeral, loss, grief, it has been a long and trying 7 months since! But out of the loss God has answered prayers, in a miraculous and unexpected way.
A blessed Sabbath!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Book Give-Away Alert

Looking for an interesting read?
Viking Man was telling me about The Last Christian by David Gregory this morning, based on a review, and then when I hoped on over to Semicolon I found another. Not only that, but there's a give-away over at "A Life Better Than I Deserve." Check-it out!

Sounds like this could be challenging reading!

Friday, May 28, 2010


I've been reading Crunchy Con for 2 weeks now and finally speed-read through the ending. Dreher creates a Crunchy Con manifesto, and then goes on to talk about how the crunchy conservatives "fundamental stance toward reality is sacramental." Each chapter is devoted to explaining what living sacramentally in a specific area would look like: Consumerism, Food, Home, Education, Environment and Religion.

While this isn't an earth shattering book, Dreher does a good job defining the difference between the Casual and Committed Christian (see Barna's book, The 7 Faith Tribes). In his chapter on the Environment, for instance, the author talks about living ones values because of those who follow. "For a true conservative, that community includes men and women yet to be born, and for whose sake we are morally obliged to be good stewards of the world we have been given." Considering one's legacy, both personal and communal, is something I'd love to hear more about in the church.
As might be expected, the chapter on Religion, while at the end of the book, is the foundation of Dreher's argument. Without religion, or faith, what is the point of sacramental living? "Crunchy Conservatism takes a more holistic stance toward the world, one that seeks to be true to the basic teachings not only of classic Christianity, but of Judaism and other great wisdom traditions...the (crunchy conservative) believes his religion doesn't state an opinion about how the world is; he believes it is an accurate guide to factual reality."
Dreher states that the true radicals these days, in a time of greed, individualism and secularism, is large families, embracing time tested truths, investing in small and particular instead of large and lavish. His concern is for the cultural battle that we are engaged in and believes "how vital it is to embrace and live by traditions that stand outside this time and this culture, and to fight the dictatorship of relativism, the tyranny of the everlasting now."
I appreciate the quote Dreher includes from Lukas, in his book called, "Democracy and Populism,"
" It may be that in the future the true divisions will be not between Right and Left but between two kinds of Right; between people on the Right whose binding belief is their contempt for Leftists, who hate liberals more than they love liberty, and others who love liberty more than they fear liberals; between nationalists and patriots; between those who believe that America's destiny is to rule the world and others who do not believe that; between those who trust technology and machines and others who trust tradition and old human decencies; between those who support "development" and others who wish to protect the conservation of land-in sum, between those who do not question Progress and others who do."

In effect, the above statement is why we teach logic at our our little homeschool on the Prairie.

For those looking for a road-map, this is a good guide. For those already crunching along, this is good validation.

Monday, May 24, 2010

House Work

Cause my mil wants more pictures = ).... This is what happens when you leave a contractor, heavy equipment and your front yard alone for the day. The good news is, the new septic and drain field are in and the ruts that the fire trucks left are filled in.
The bad news is that the area is strewn with rocks. Small, medium, large and bigger. Lots and lots of rocks. We spent a lot of time this past week-end raking and hauling rocks. There is a lot more rock-raking to do. Joy.
The other bit of good news is that that whoever was driving the truck really made a big effort to avoid running down existing trees and plants. The strawberries are looking wonderful and running all over the place! Thank-you Thoughtful Truck-driver!
New duct work and pipes everywhere. Shiny is a good look, dontcha' think?

The new back side-walk. We'll have concrete left over from the work in the basement and Contractor Dick thought it would be a great idea to use the left overs to pour a real a sidewalk from the back door. We agree!

The shoot we poured a whole lot of gravel down this week-end to fill the drain tile in the basement. I wanted to get pictures from the other side but the camera battery died. Basically the gravel went down the shoot, was caught by the wheelbarrow which we hauled down and then poured into the trough. It was a lot easier to do with the shoot and the wheelbarrow, but we still hauled a lot of gravel. Between that and raking rocks and mowing the prairie which has sprung up, we had a busy couple of days. I am so grateful for a husband that is S.T.R.O.N.G. He is a gravel hauling, wheel-barrow driving- pouring, prarie cutting machine. On top of all of that we went to 2 graduation parties, a friend's house for dinner (REST) over the week-end and he still got up in this morning, put on professional attire and went to work.
The drain, now covered with gravel. Soon to be covered with cement.

The attic room. Feche Boy has claimed it for his own. Viking Man and I were talking about putting the study up here and Feche-Boy started sputtering and finally came up with, "No backsies!!" I think he really wants this room and I don't blame him. It is everything an attic bedroom should be!
Concrete poured today. Drywalling in the basement starts this week. Cabinets are made, along with the wall sized lockers that Brad created for the front porch and are getting stained. Plumbing work continues. (and we are really grateful for the Porta-Potty that is parked out there in the inerim!).

Knit Purl

I learned to knit at my Gramma's knee.
She was always patient. Never yelled. Ever. Just gentle instruction.
And she smelled good.
Warm. Kind. Like yarn, and kittens and coffee and fresh earth and love.
She was a leftie, but such a good teacher and good knitter she could turn the whole thing around to show me the right handed side of things.
My first project was slippers. I was 5. She was 53, petite and beautiful with chestnut brown hair and golden brown eyes that matched. Her hands were delicate but her nails were long and strong.
It was pretty easy.
She was proud of me. Told me I was a natural. Let me choose my own yarn.

Unraveled. That's what happens when you go to fast, to far, use the wrong stitch, forget the pattern, mis-read, mis-judge, get knocked off track, distracted, the kittens or the kids get into your project.
Pull yarn, re-wind.
Like life sometimes.
What was I crafting? What was it for? The purpose, intent seem fuzzy. Not sure I like this yarn, color, feel, weight, style, pattern.
Choose again.
Or simply choose. To keep going.

Unraveled and distracted. Like working intarsia while chatting on the phone.
Unravel. Re-wind. Back-up. Read the pattern.
Start here.
Simple purpose. Simple pattern.

Feeling like a 5 year old some days.
Having missed and overworked stitches yanked out and feeling torn asunder.
Feeling unraveled.
Wishing Gram were here and her love for me, simple but all that mattered, would re-work the pattern.
I could watch.
She would make it right and I could pick it up again, back as good as new.
And I would know I'm good at it, a natural.
And I could see her smiling at me, over her glasses, and know that she was proud of me.
Instead of slogging along. Feeling like mis-matched color and thread weight and wrong sized needles all thrown together in a bag with no pattern and the need for a finished project.
5 was good. Gram's knee was a great place to hang out.
The unravleing was simple then.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Making Your Life Your Job

I really like the Down to Earth blog for several reasons. First, Rhonda is a bit older and clearly focused. Her life, at least what she portrays on-line, really is simple. So often I find on American posts about simplicity or living frugally is what a great deal someone got at Pottery Barn. I just can't relate. Not that I don't like great deals, and not that I don't like Pottery Barn, cause, I do, yessiree bob. It's just not where I'm living these days. Rhonda comes from a more genuine place, imho, and that is about creating a wholesome, enriched life where you are at with what you have. In other words, as I've said often enough before, with a nod to the now defunct Gentle Spirit magazine, "what do you have in your hand? "
I've been reading Crunchy Con this week and Dreher talks about sacramental living. Living as if actions, thoughts, visions, dreams, relationships have actions and meanings. As he defines; "In religious language, a sacrament is a physical thing- an object or an action- through which holiness is transmitted...Someone living by a sacramental vision would therefore treat someone with the same good manners even if it were somehow unpleasant, or if there were no social expectations to do do so. Being good is not something you do because it works; being good is something you do because it is the right thing to do, even if it costs you. At the risk of sounding pompously metaphysical, for people who adopt a sacramental way of being, everyday things, occurrences, and exchanges provide an opportunity to encounter ultimate reality- even, if you like, divinity."

Dreher's book goes on to address sacramental living by category: food, home, eduction, the environment, religion. Due to his book, and a couple of blogs that focus on simplicity and seasons I named something that has been bothering me on a fundamental level the last several weeks: the lack of beauty in my environment. Rhonda talks about "Making Your Life Your Job" in her latest post. In other words, creating, sacramentally, with God, with what you have in your hand, something beautiful of the day, the season, the situation. We are still in the piecemeal, transition point of re-grouping from the fire. Not home yet and knowing a move is immanent, we've held off on purchasing furniture or decorating at all. And there is still a garage of items to manage in one way or another, that still smell horrid. Beauty from ashes, literally, is what this year has been about for us, but currently, we are still walking on some ashes. Beauty? Not.

Visual beauty and community have been integral values for us for a long time and are clearly part of sacramental living. And God dropped a day full of both in my lap just because, reminding me that grace abounds, but is also found by intentionality. Yesterday, for example. I ran into a friend at the park a couple of weeks ago who is from Brazil. We started talking about food and agreed to get together so that she could teach me how to make beans and rice that are tasty (cause I can make them, but they are the "choke em down" variety). Yesterday we got together at the home of mutual friend and the day morphed into a a huge cook fest. We made over 25 meals, one of which was delivered to a friend who'd just had a baby, and the rest of which we divided. We laughed and talked and the kids played, played, played. It was a sweet day. Full of laughter and fellowship and meaning. Because we were making our life our job. Not only that, we cooked meals for 8 for less than $4 each. Booyah. And we decided that we would have to do this again. Regularly. Because we need the fellowship and we revel in the savings and we are living sacramentally in the doing. And it was good.

Friday, May 21, 2010

7 Quick Takes

1- Watched a great flick this week, which I am counting under "Current Events" with Feche Boy; Amreeka. Palestinian refugees in America. Sisters, one who has been here for 8 years, and one newly arrived, from a west bank torn by strife, a wall and political unrest. Very well done, capturing one's longing for home and one's longing for a future at the same time. Bittersweet.

2-And at the same time I've been reading "Lipstick Jihad," by an Iranian American who returns to Iran in 99. Her insights into being a first generation American, her culture, returning to Iran as a working adult are fascinating. Her recounts of the suppression and oppression in Iran are disturbing, but it's an interesting look at a mysterious culture and the theme that Home is Home, no matter how dysfunctional plays throughout. While I'm fascinated by the Middle East, I LOVE AMERICA. Freedom to think, dress, believe. Bring it on.

3-After being dishwasher free for 7 years KB and I rejoiced at the sight of one in our leased house. We, however, continue to wash dishes by hand because the dishwasher just kind of moves the dirt and debris around from dish to dish rather than removing it. Sigh. otoh, washing dishes is one of the mundane, reflexive activites, that if kept under control (like dishes washed after EACH meal) can be peaceful. Dishwashing=peace. Yup.

4-The house re-build moves forward. This week a new drain field was incorporated into the landscape, insulation was added to walls, plumbing pipes were acquired, the cats returned from our friends house (THANK-YOU Stan & Cyndi!!!). We are still thinking mid-June for re-entry.

5- Beit Midrash. Exodus 16 & 17. The diaspora moves towards Mt. Sinai but encounters the Amalakites, intent on killing them along the way. Through a strange act of obedience, Moses' hands lifted, the Lord saves the company. Immediately after, they encounter another desert tribe, the Midianites, led by Moses' father-in-law. Jethro, devout priest of Midian, hears about Jehovah's mighty works and believes, offers a sacrifice, and gives wise counsel to Moses. Isn't that the way of it? Intent on vision and purpose, we are often accosted, out of the blue, by those bent on our destruction. And, just as importantly, we are blessed, out of the blue, by those committed to what's to come. I loved reading these 2 chapter together.

6- Viking Man attended a professional conference last week where they talked about research on returning vets that show trauma shrinks the size of one's hippocampus. Psychotherapy allows one's hippocampus to return to it's pre-trauma size. The hippocampus is responsible for memory and navigation. I think our year might explain the complete lack of ability I've had remembering names this year. It's not a normal "can't remember." It's, I so know this person and talked with them regularly and cannot access their i.d. can't remember.

7-Graduation season is upon us. Funny how one can categorize one's developmental stage by the celebrations one is invited to. Just before, during and after college everyone got married and wedding showers were the celebration du decade. Then baby showers, then celebrations as people received advanced degrees or opened new businesses or advanced in their careers, though those were mostly acknowledgments in yearly Christmas cards. And now my generation is going through round one of graduations with our kids, though more are to follow and soon enough we'll be inviting each other to those same kids wedding showers. Life is so very seasonal. What a relief that is, eh?

For more Quick Takes, visit Jennifer at

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sacramental Living

I've been reading Crunchy Con at last, and though Viking Man and I agreed that we don't really like the title so much, we are resonating with the content. The theme of the book is about living sacramentally. In Dreher's words, "for people who adopt a sacramental way of being, everyday things, occurrences, and exchanges provide an opportunity to encounter ultimate reality, even, if you like, divinity."
Leigh Borteins talks about this important concept in her book, Echo in Celebration, or maybe it was in talking with her, that I heard her share this concept about how true education is sacramental.
I came across some cool blogs this week, mainly by orthodox Christians, who home school. They appeal to me because they incorporate the seasons and sacraments intentionally into daily living.
I realized today, talking with Viking Man about the above that I've been having a beauty deficit this past 1/2 year. Usually by this time in the year the kids and I are out in the "yard," spending hours a day gardening, puttering, swinging, taking photos and cropping them and reveling in our odd assortment of picturesque outbuildings, tumbling down by most standards, buy which create great back drops for photos, soaking inthe sun and warmth and creating spring food and places inside and outside of the house.
But we've been disrupted on so many fronts and we've dealt with a lot of ugliness the past 1/2 year in the form of burned, soiled, stained, smoked. It's a season that will pass soon enough but the lack of a quiet, peaceful corner of beauty in our temporary lodgings is beginning to wear on me. At least it's named and identified. There is so much power in the naming. Which is another reason I'm enjoying Dreher's book. A nice change of pace from Lipstick Jihad, which was more of the same, oppression and anxiety on a cultural level.
Sorely looking forward to Next Things and being settled.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Parks R Us

Our fair city has many beautiful parks, which we frequent often, usually in conjunction with a library run. Feche-Boy has always been about "Up." He climbed before he walked. At 7 months he was found on top of the bathroom vanity, the greatest height he could find at the time, tossing items from the medicine cabinet to the room behind him. When confronted, he flashed a senatorial smile and continued the task of ridding the cabinet of extraneous items. This also explains his monikker, Feche Boy.
And when the girls asked him for a push, he simply swung from the poll and used his feet to create momentum. Yep, our kids might be unsocialized, but they have the creativity thing down.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spring Fast Food

When eggs are cheap or free from country friends and you are in no mood to fix dinner, but want something wonderful (said Tim Allenesque from "For Richer or Poorer") make a Fritatta. Add crisp French bread and a big ol' salad. Viola. Dinner is served. There are lots of recipes out there. Here's the basics: Scramble 8-18 eggs, add milk or cream to lighten and whisk. Scramble till only slightly scrambled, with lots of uncooked eggs amongst the "islands" of cooked eggs. Add cheese, herbs, mushrooms, sausage, etc...whatever you have on hand. We like to saute onions and garlic, add the eggs and then put in lots of mushroom, parsley, and place tomatoes on top. Then pop in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 until the eggs are done cooking. Mmm.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I've been reading and watching lots of "years of living...." Seems like everyone is on the "living intentionally" bandwagon.
Since the twin hits of fire & funeral my goal has been short and intentional.
Just finish. Get through the school year. Make sure everyone has advanced in their studies, eaten something green occasionally and is happy enough.
With that being said, we made it through another week. Worksheets filled in. CD's listened to. Artwork done. Poems memorized. Biology test taken and essay written. Feche-boy made cookies again, with melted butter instead of softened so they were very thin, but very yummy. Watched a couple of good flicks: Wrinkle in Time, Julie & Julia and The Ultimate Gift, along with Charlotte's Web. The notsolittles are reading, "A Children's Homer" and FecheBoy is reading "10 Greek Cities."

We've all been exhausted, it's been wet, rainy and dreary and Miss. R is still not here, though she is happier there than she's been in a while.
Another week complete, however mundane and uninspired. Finished. Counting it a win.

Little Bee

Little Bee is a modern day tragedy about multi-national corporations and 3rd world countries and disparity between the two. Little Bee is a young woman, caught in a village destroyed by oil drilling. Caught, ravaged, trapped, imprisoned. Her life is juxtaposed with Sarah's, the smart, wealthy, entitled and worldly magazine editor.
It is sad and thought provoking book, often crude, both in language and content, that suggests life doesn't always present good choices, healthy alternatives and safety. A tragic look at detainees and the horror that they try to run from.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tut, Tut, It Looks Like Rain

Miss Flower received a parasol for her birthday in January and has taken many dry runs around the yard with it up, despite the lack of rain. It's been pouring this week and she is thrilled. Her umbrella has accompanied her everywhere and each time she puts it up she sings, "It's raining, It's pouring. The Old Man is snoring!"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Everything's New Again

New back porch.

New drain field and new stairs.

New stairs leading to the basement. The old ones were 2' shorter, steep, narrow and rickety.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

No Impact

This weeks read was No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and our Way of Life in the Process, by Colin Beaven.
So what's a nice conservative girl like me doing reading a book by a self proclaimed guilty liberal? Well, I'm all about having a small environmental foot-print. I spent the month I turned 18 in the High Unitas Wilderness (think Utah wilderness, mountain peaks, blizzards in August,etc) with 30 other back-packing fools hiking, climbing, rappelling, tarping, cooking our own food, enjoying the bald eagles and the huge peaks, snow and mountain springs and being diligent about leaving a very small footprint as we went, packing out trash, keeping to the trails, etc. The reading list for the program including Carsen's Silent Spring and other ec0doom tomes, which, like a good bibliophile, I completed prior to the trip. Anyway, all of that to say, Mr No Impact intrigued me.
Frankly, I found his eco-babble fairly irritating and feel he called it right when he deems himself a "guilty liberal." Guilt about thisthatandtheotherthing oozes from his pen, as he finally stops and looks at his consumer oriented trash producing ways. Given that scientists have renounced the global warming thang, (, making Gore's Peace Prize win over Irena Sendler even more offensive, the quoted stats are suspect.
All of that being said, I like the book. I like Beavan. I like that he did this project, though "the year in a life" thing is getting a bit overdone and the one I really want to read (Living a Year of Kiddish) isn't even at the library. The real story in this book, imho, is about intentional living. Thinking before doing. Creating instead of consuming. For all of his liberalism, guilt and quasi-religion, Beavens is a kindred spirit in that regard. I especially like what he wrote about rhythms, and though he limits them to NYC, I think that what he writes about plays out all over the place,
"There are 2 rhythms playing out here in NYC. On the one hand, there is the
fast street-level rhythm of elevators and subways and taxis and delivery boys
and have a slice of pizza the moment you want it. Saturday breakfast with one
group of friends, lunch with another, dinner and a movie with a third. Same on
Sunday. By the time you're back at work on Monday, you're exhausted. That's the
techno music beat.
Then there's the classical beat. The one where you get wet when it rains,
or you stay in. The one where getting places takes a long time because you walk.
The one that is linked to the natural movement of life, where you actually know
in your body what season it is, even in the middle of Manhattan."

I like that differentiation between the techno-beat and the classical. I think it sums up much of how our family has tried to live. Taking a minute to pause and consider what we are doing and why. Focusing on relationships rather than things, faith rather than religion, process rather than outcome.
Went to a Family Policy Council dinner this week-end and the guest speaker was talking about how liberals raise their kids to be poets and musicians and film makers, while conservatives raise their kids to be doctors or lawyers. Very outcome focused. And as a result, conservatives have this paucity of influence in the world, because we are focused on outcomes rather than teaching our kids to create and narrate. Which gets back to the article I linked yesterday, so if you haven't read it yet, please do.
Beavens talks about the flak he took doing this project, that people accused him of being against progress. He responds,
"But keeping things the way they are is not progress. More of the same isn't
progress. Progress is about looking at where we are and striving to get
someplace better. I don't want less progress. I want more progress, real

That speaks to me on a profound level. I hear so much in conservative and homeshcooling circles that we just need to "get back to the good old days." Really? When we they? My grandma would tell stories of working on the farm, and we've lived on an acreage long enough to know that the good old days were not as ideal as the idealists would have us believe. I want real progress. Not just more of the same, or more of what we have. A vision big enough to address some of the real issues, the real problems and struggles, the real clash of world views that is here and bound to be even more of a divisive factor soon enough.
This book is about intentionality. Looking at what we've been given and making choices. Pausing long enough to consider that there are choices to be made. Again Beavens writes,

"What if you don't live like everyone else? What if you try different
things? What if you get off this people-mover of a culture and try a different
direction? What if you unplug? Why do we need what everyone else needs? Why
can't we go to sleep when it's dark? Why don't we question?
For most of my years I've just lived my little old life the way the people
around me wrote it, but now I'm definitely turning a lot of it upside down. I'm
defining my life for myself. And you know what? It's kind of a blast.
I like that. The past several months I've questioned an awful lot of our choices, decisions, outcomes. I've been having a crisis, not necessarily of faith, but certainly of purpose. Doing the odd-thing is a lonely path but it too can become just following the crowd rather than following God's plan for your life. I see a lot of folks living radically but it's because they are regurgitating what the other radicals around them are spewing rather then living with a vision for who they are and what they've been called to be and do."

Beavens is a thoughtful writer with an interesting project. And I agree with him on all of the major points about living in a environmentally responsible way. Heck, I bet our family of 6/7 produces less trash than his family of 3 does even yet. And I commend him on his concern for the world, though I think his solution is mis-placed. And I love how he portrays his relationship with his wife and daughter- real. Real people that he cares about, struggles with, adores. Love that. And his conclusion, which is profound:
"At what age did I start to thing that where I was going was more important that
where I already was? When was it that I began to believe that the most important
things about what I was doing was getting it over with? Knowing how to live is
not something we have to teach children. Knowing how to live is something we
have to be careful not to take away from them." And finally, "We need to
pick up a new model of engaged citizenship and realize that the way we live
affects everyone around us. We need to develop new ways to take up and assert
our responsibility. We need to take "participatory democracy" to a new level,
where we don't just vote for the leaders who will bring us the culture we want,
but where we take repsonsibility for making the culture ourselves."

Preach it, brother.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Leadership & Solitude

Read this article on leadership and solitude by William Deresiewicz if you care at all about living intentionally.
Good stuff.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Chilling with the pooch. KB, Ursa and the mighty Vermilion.
Lilacs on the acreage. We have a 20+ foot long hedge that's probably been around as long as the house, think 8 decades or so. It's fragrance is heavenly.
A nest, woven in amongst our bunk bed slats on the back deck.

Parsley volunteers- yippee! I've read that if parsley can bed it's roots down far enough during the winter it will overwinter just fine. We have 6 bunches already producing- one in the aisle. Delicious in a cheese/mushroom and garlic Fritatta that was tonight's dinner.

What's spring without rhubarb? We have 8 plants that rival the lilac hedge in age. As much as I don't like the fruit I'll be making rhubarb pie for the men in my life that do.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Social Psych, Youth & Sci-Fi

The Lightening Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians, by Rick Riordan
The first chapter did not grab me. I wasn't sure what I expected but what I was reading wasn't it. That's o.k., by the 2nd I was hooked. A fun, witty read, much like Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl series. The bonus with Riordan's series is that he makes learning Greek myths and characters fun. Very fun. And witty. Went right ahead and ordered the 2nd and 3rd from the library. Ds 15 is enjoying them, too, and, happily, we are on "Ancients" this year. I won't, however, be handing these to my 10 year old- to many graphic, creepy images and things "lurking." Heaven and hell are also addressed, albeit through the lense of Greek mythology so, imho, it's only for those with a well-formed understanding of what they believe. In other words, kids beyond concrete operations.

Zero G by Alton Gansky
Our family follows the space program and looks to the stars regularly, thanks to the science, astronomy geek husband I married. He can tell you the space missions, who flew, what's happening on the space station and what stars are in conjunction at any given time. He and the kids have been known to spend hours looking at computer screens, watching someone on the Shuttle do some mundane (is anything mundane in space?) task with the RMS, while on their way to the ISS. Is it any wonder, then, that Feche boy picked this up at the library. It is actually published by Zondervan with several references to faith and one's personal struggles with faith and belief despite tragedy. Zero-G is under Sci-F, I'm assuming because it addresses the commercialization of space, but the reality of that is immanent. Great character development and Gansky's ability to organize the complex details and characters he creates makes this a fast paced and fun read. The conclusion was a bit too quick for my taste but good enough. Ganky just got added to our list of authors we really like around here.
The 7 Faith Tribes by George Barna
According to the extensive research the Barna Group does there are 7 Faith Tribes in the U.S.; Casual Christians, Captive Christians, American Jews, Mormons, Pantheists, Muslims and Spiritual Skeptics. Barna's discussion focuses on the worldview clash that is taking place amongst these faith tribes, the values that are being lost, redefined and pushed by the influence of these tribes and what it will take to come together as a multi-million person community with opposing world views, or not. I've done a lot of reading on apologetics and world view but this was a great book to really nail down the demographics of the various "tribes", their beliefs, values and what drives them. Another good book for your high schoolers current events or apologetics course to round out and develop their understanding of those they share a country but not necessarily a value system with. 2 of my nieces are currently seriously "dating" men who come from a different faith tribe than their family, which is causing no small amount of grief for the moms. I'll be recommending this book to both. Gotta love Barna's deep desire to utilize the natural resources of our country- the people- to continue making this the land of the free and the home of the brave. Very interesting reading.