Monday, May 31, 2010
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Simple purpose. Simple pattern.
Feeling like a 5 year old some days.
Having missed and overworked stitches yanked out and feeling torn asunder.
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
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" http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/2010/05/making-your-life-your-job.html 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
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 http://www.conversiondiary.com/
Thursday, May 20, 2010
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
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Since the twin hits of fire & funeral my goal has been short and intentional.
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.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
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, (http://senseofevents.blogspot.com/2007/12/ipcc-scientists-denounce-global-warming.html)his, 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
Sunday, May 2, 2010
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.