Thursday, December 22, 2005

Carols for the Mentally Ill

For the...

Schizophrenic? Do You Hear What I Hear?

Multiple Personality Disordered? We Three Kings Disoriented Are

Amnesiac? I Don't Know if I'll Be Home for Christmas

Narcissist? Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

Manic? Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees and....

Paranoiac? Santa Claus is Coming to Get Me

Borderline Personality Disordered? Thoughts of Roasting on an Open Fire

Passive-Aggressive? You Better Watch out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why

Social Anxiety Disordered? Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas While I Sit Here and Hyperventilate

And finally, for the Obsessive-Compulsive:
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock,
...Better Now, One More Time!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mom, my job, sick kitty and sick daughter (NOT in any particular order of importance, mind you)

1. Mom. OK, she's high on the list in importance, but the rest are not in order. Mom got to go home Monday night. They did electrical cardioversion right before sending her home and it worked! She awoke feeling noticeably better, something that has not happened before with these, and her heart was in sinus. It still is. Papa said today that he has been checking her pulse and he's never heard it so strong. Thank the Lord.

2. My job. Yesterday I went from hourly training pay to production pay. I'm slow, but I still am beating the training pay rate, so that's good. I have lots of room for improvement. I am really loving this job so far.

3. Sick kitty. It's Briggs. I gave him a feline leukemia vaccine booster and then forgot about it, and a few hours later when he got very lethargic and grumpy, I failed to make the connection. He's normally a very passive cat. No matter what you do to him, his reaction is usually, "OK, whatever. Hey, I think I'll purr." So when he complained at Lil Miss A's hugs and kisses, when he did not stir from his chair and blankie for about 4 hours, when he actually hissed at the dog, I knew something was wrong. I put him on the feather mattress on the daybed for the night and he hadn't budged when we woke up this morning. Barry took him to the vet and was there when they opened their doors. Normal vaccine reaction, as it happens; they gave him a shot of pain relief and sent him home, where he's asleep again.

I feel sorry for these cats because I know so little about cats. I just don't know how to take good care of them. So I make a lot of mistakes. Good thing they are so forgiving.

4. Sick daughter. The little one. Yet another cold. That's the thing about kindergarten: They have diseases nobody has ever seen before. Forget the jungles of Central Africa: I think the next pandemic will come from some kindergarten classroom in the Midwest. Anyway, Lil Miss A missed school yesterday - which most certainly did NOT please her - and coughed. She's better now and I sent her back. I hope that wasn't a mistake.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Weekend with Mama

I spent the weekend up in the Twin Cities, seeing my mother's progress with my own eyes. I am so thankful!

Christmas Tree

This afternoon the children and Barry went to a tree farm to pick up a tree for the church narthex. They wanted a big one. They found it.

As they drove through LaCrosse on their way home, people were staring, taking pictures on their phones, waving, shouting "Hi Clark!" and such.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Brought to you by the letter P

It's P Week in Little Miss A's kindergarten classroom. She brought home a worksheet the other day covered with pictures of objects. She was supposed to cross off everything that did not begin with P, and color everything that did.

She had one marked wrong, and she wasn't happy about it. She hadn't crossed off a P picture, but she hadn't colored it, either.

"But Mom!" she said. "I couldn't color THAT. Penguins are black and white!"

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


A 7:00 a.m. update: Mom was able to be extubated over night and she's talking! Hurray!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Little Miss A and the Choir Concert

What a little angel. Could she possibly do anything naughty? Never!

Those of you who pray

Please pray for my mom and dad today if you will. Mom is having a mitral valve replacement today.

UPDATE: The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration have her on their list for prayer once an hour for the next 168 hours! What an awesome weapon prayer is in faithful hands.

ANOTHER UPDATE: 4:00 p.m. and Papa just called. She's doing great! The surgery apparently went very well. She's still sleeping in ICU but the surgeon said she is going to feel much better. Hallelujah.

9:00 p.m. UPDATE: She's awake, she knows Papa and smiles at him, but they haven't been able to wean her off the respirator and she has orthostatic hypotension and she's in afib. Doc says don't worry, these things happen sometimes, but of course we're nervous. Note to self: God is faithful.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Little Miss A's Lesson of the Week

Generally speaking, it is NOT a good idea to give a cat a haircut. The cat doesn't look as nice as you thought he would, plus it makes your mom really mad.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

De-bagging a Feline

OK, it's time to confess: I didn't stay with Medquist after all. I found a new company and am on day #3 with them as of today. It's Webmedx, located in Pittsburgh. I know it's just the honeymoon period at work but I'm all excited about my profession again and having so much fun!

I can sincerely thank God for my job once again, with no mixed emotions.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Ducks' Prayer

Little Miss A. asked me to help her remember the words to a song. I asked her what song and she said, "The Ducks' Prayer." The Ducks' Prayer? Hmmmm. I couldn't think what that could possibly be. "You know... It goes, 'Pwaise God Fwum Whom All Bwessings Fwo'?" she sang.

The Doxology. Now forevermore to be known as The Ducks' Prayer. I like that much better!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Happy Birthday, Loretta

It's Loretta's 84th birthday today. Doesn't she look pretty?

A Stahl Thanksgiving

Wayne, Roseann and Sweet Baby E came to visit us for Thanksgiving. The weather stunk horribly, plus we were down a set of wheels because of Judy the Doe, so we didn't take them anywhere, just holed up and played with the baby and ate a lot and drank hot buttered rum and played XBox and Risk and read. The dog and the cats thought Sweet Baby E was very interesting - and when they discovered that she was also a messy eater, it was love.

Sadly, Thanksgiving morning, Roseann's grandmother passed away, so they all had to head home a couple of days early for the funeral. Thankfully they were able to find plane tickets, albeit expensive ones, back home on the busiest travel weekend of the year. We miss them already.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Doe No Mo'

Wednesday night, driving home along the river road, Barry hit a doe. Twice.

She leaped out behind an oncoming car while he was unable to see much from the headlights, bounced off his bumper, and fell, then leaped up - and ran right into the car again. The second time did the deed and she was dead. Car is not driveable, the grill, radiator and air conditioniong coil have all now become one with the engine fan.

Barry went back up to check it out in daylight and commented that there were deer all over the place, watching him and the car. I told him they were there for the funeral, and they were all whispering about him, "That's him. That's the one. The one who killed Judy."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I need to have less fun

I've been a blonde since the spring. I decided I'd had enough fun for one year or several, so this morning I'm back to dark auburn.

And, since you asked, I'm a natural grey, so I can be whatever I wanna be. I'm a blank canvas.

When in doubt, ask a butcher

I had thought about giving my electric frying pan to the thrift store because we hardly ever, ever used it, and now I'm glad I didn't. I bought a nice chuck roast from our local meat market, and not being very good with beef roasts, I asked our butcher how he would cook it if it were his.

He asked if I had an electric frying pan. I said, "To brown it?" He answered, "Yes, and to do the whole thing." He suggested seasoning it, browning it well on all sides in the frying pan, then roasting it right there.

It worked great. The roast was delicious, it looked great, AND all the drippings were right there in the pan so I could make gravy.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Yin, Yang and - What?

The boys, the blankie - and a guinea pig? Yes, that's Gary the Guinea Pig, snuggling with The Boys.

Gary is a girl, by the way. It's a little hard to explain.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Yin and Yang

Well, sort of, anyway. Two little boys curled up on a nice wool blankie.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Pump Organ

This beauty is now in our front room, where it is the first thing someone sees on entering our home from the front door (or driving by and peeking in through the front windows). It was a gift from Dave and Dottie Voyage, members of our church.It's not playable at present, but they also gave us a book on repairing and restoring antique reed organs, so that is on the project list: Getting this baby back to playing beautiful organ music. Oh, and of course, training someone in the house to play it.

Whited Sepulchre, Part II

Here is what the dining room floor looks like now.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

October is Adopt-a-Stray-Cat Month

Meet Briggs. As in Briggs & Stratton. The newest addition to the family. Briggs is probably 6 or 8 months old and extremely sweet. He wasn't in terrible shape, but he did have worms, was abandoned with no collar and was not neutered. He is now a Stahl, has had the family jewels removed and is recuperating and worming his way into the family's hearts.

He's a real sweetie.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Too Hot for School

It would be no big deal in Arizona, Florida or Texas. Here, it IS a big deal. This is October 4th. Northern Iowa, too. Two blocks from the Minnesota state line. And our school closed down early because the heat index was in the dangerous range!

Some years we have snow on the ground by this point.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Job change again

After a lot of soul searching, I tendered notice to Medquist regarding my production supervisor job. I will work through the rest of October and then go back to medical transcription. I had two excellent offers from other companies, but since Medquist is willing to keep me, that is where I shall stay for now.

I feel simultaneously sick to my stomach and twenty pounds lighter.

Monday, September 26, 2005

It IS Possible to Gain Weight on Diet Cat Food

That is, if your mom "hides" a half-full bag behind a cabinet and thinks you won't find it, but you do, and you rip a cat-sized hole in the side and climb inside and eat and eat until you can't eat any more.

Remember to continue to beg your mom to fill your cat food bowl so she won't suspect.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Decrepitness (is that a word?)

I had my annual-only-if-they-insist eye exam yesterday. He prescribed me bifocals. I am mortified.

That's the last time I go to THAT eye doctor!

(Just kidding, Dr. Rixen.)

Monday, September 19, 2005


September 19th. Talk Like a Pirate Day. I've waited months for this.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Today's Woot: A very cool coffee-related toy

I confess, I am a sucker for a fun coffee-related gadget. We have tried out more types of coffee brewing machines than most families, including several styles of French presses, and we have, I must also confess, a corner of the basement reserved for a coffee maker morgue. At present we are using a Cuisinart Grind-n-Brew (also a Woot! purchase) on days when someone will be around to drink that much coffee, or a glass French press from IKEA on days when we are all grabbing a quick cup before heading off in various directions.

Today, Woot! is selling a really neato coffee maker. It's a Keurig single-cup coffee maker. And no, it's not a sized-down normal drip coffee maker. Wayne and Roseann have a Keurig, so I've gotten to try it, and it has a nice big reservoir, then you pop a little Green Mountain (or knockoff) coffee packet into a slot, put your mug under the spout, and push a button. The Keurig quick-heats water, forces it at high pressure through the coffee packet and into your mug, in about 2 minutes max. This is really good, really HOT coffee! It was great fun.

For budgetary reasons, and because of the morgue, I am not allowed to buy today's Woot!, but if you do, then I can enjoy it vicariously through you.

Now if Woot! ever sells a coffee roaster, we'll be first in line. We still don't have one of those. We might not use it as often as we think we would, but we love the idea of roasting our own beans.

Hey, that's what Cuisinart needs to work on now! A Cuisinart Roast-n-Grind-n-Brew. Raw beans to cuppa in about 10 minutes. Yeah, I'd buy that.

Monday, September 12, 2005


The most frequently asked question lately seems to be, "Why aren't you updating your blog?"

And here I thought nobody was reading it but me. :)

The Whited Sepulchre

The second-most frequently asked question is, "How is the house coming along?"

Sure, it looks great from the outside, but inside...

Right now we're struggling to get all that black icky stuff you see in the photo scraped off the dining room floor. It's a nice old maple floor, but to find it, first we pulled off the ugly grey indoor-outdoor carpet, then a layer of linoleum squares, then a layer of sheet linoleum, and finally here is this black stuff. Barry thinks it may be tar paper. Anyway, it glued itself pretty thoroughly to the floor, and the only real way to get it off is by scraping, scraping and scraping.

It's the new punishment/threat in the house. Kids having a fight? "If you kids don't settle this you're ALL GOING TO SCRAPE THE FLOOR!" Kids want to stay up past bedtime? "Sure, if you're staying up to SCRAPE THE FLOOR!"

Actually it's resulted in some rather nice "family moments," when we all sprawl on the floor with our scrapers, hacking away at gunk, and share our innermost thoughts (the most often voiced one being, "I sure wish this floor was done"). And we really are making progress. We only have a few square feet to go.

Then we get to rent the floor sander, sand the floor, and somehow get a finish on it without a) walking on it ourselves or b) having the cat walk through and get stuck in it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

First Day of School

It was a day of firsts for us: Miss B started high school, Master K. started middle school and Little Miss A. started kindergarten!

Here is Little Miss A. standing next to her brand new DESK.

And here she is with the beautiful, talented and all-knowing Ms. Lubahn and a classmate.

Things are off to a good start. And Mommy only cried a little on the walk back home alone from dropping Miss A. at kindergarten.

Friday, July 29, 2005

At Pap and Grandma's House

Sweet Baby E and her mom and dad joined us. Here she is with Miss B.

And the blueberries were ripe, so we all gorged ourselves. Pap even sent a huge bucket home with us on ice.

Roadside America

On our drive from Staten Island to Westmoreland County, Barry stopped at a little place not too far from Stroudsburg, PA, that he remembered visiting as a little boy. It is Roadside America, an amazing model railroad setup that is still operated as a tourist attraction by the descendants of the man who set it all up. (He died in 1963.) It's just one big room with walkways around the edge so that you can see the whole setup.

It's hard to describe, but it's worth the stop if you're ever around the area. It's hokey and mushy and cute. Every half hour they make everybody come sit on risers and watch as they make "night" come to the railroad village; the room lights dim, tiny street lights come on, homes light up, then as the room becomes darker, the house lights go out once more and the landscape sleeps except for the trains which go on and on. Come "morning," the street lights come off, house lights come on, and the "sky" begins to lighten up with daybreak.

Two cute little old ladies were running the place when we arrived. If I understand it correctly, one of them is the daughter of the gentleman who built the display.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Staten Island University Hospital

Lil Miss A got her sutures out at the hospital here in Staten Island. It hurt, but she was brave. She brought two of her stitches back with in a plastic bag to show Daddy.

In the curtain area next to her, she heard a man who had cut his arm badly on a broken fence moaning in pain, and she prayed for him right there on the spot. He was encouraged and said he felt better immediately, and thereafter everyone who came to care for him got to hear about the sweet little girl who had prayed for him.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Travel blogging

I'm writing this from a very busy street corner in Niagara Falls, Ontario, where I found a sweet spot from the Hilton down the block, I think it is. We have begun a new family tradition of having to take SOMEBODY to the emergency room the night before we leave on any vacation; this year it was Little Miss A's turn. She fell off her trike and lacerated her chin, mashing pea gravel and a few blades of grass into the mess while she was at it. Six stitches later, it was about 10:00 at night and we were too zonked to trust ourselves to pack properly, so we got a pretty late start on the road Saturday, but we did make it out the door and the trip since then has gone very well.

Tomorrow we head back across the border and down through the Finger Lakes region, planning on arriving at Wayne and Roseann's house on Staten Island by nightfall.

Pictures later.

UPDATE: Here are some pictures:

Blue Man Group? No, the Stahl Family, wearing our souvenir slickers on the Maid of the Mist.

They get you incredibly close to the bottom of the falls!

Our Maid of the Mist.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

A blonde joke

A blonde calls her boyfriend on the phone and says, "Honey, I need you to come over. I'm doing a puzzle and I really need help."

The boyfriend asks, "What kind of a puzzle?"

The blonde replies, "It's a jigsaw puzzle; it's supposed to be a tiger."

The boyfriend agrees to come over and help. A little while later, he arrives at her house, and she motions for him to come into the kitchen. There, he finds that she has pieces scattered all over the table.

The boyfriend says, "Honey, sit down. Now - the first thing we need to do is put all the Frosted Flakes back in the box..."

An outfit for Anne Shirley

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I'm trying to decide what sort of blouse Anne here needs. I'm thinking white cotton, long sleeves, with a Peter Pan collar and either pintucks or tiny red rickrack down the front.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Ahem... Just what do they think I've been doing for 25 years?

Drug running? International trading, perhaps? Marrying Donald Trump?

I just got the invitation to our 25-year high school reunion in the mail. Get this: It's at the University Club at the U of M St. Paul campus, and they are serving hors d'oevres and there is a cash bar.

The ticket price is $35.

Per person. Not per couple.

Thirty-five bucks for... what? A few weenies on toothpicks?

That's it. I'm not going.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

It's Raining Teeth

Last trip to the orthodontist, K. got sent home with wires only on his front brackets. The orthodontist told him that his molars were just about to fall out, and that K. should try to get them out so that his new teeth would grow in; the wires were about the only thing keeping them in.

Sunday, K. got serious about them and wiggled 3 molars out within about an hour! It was raining teeth around here!

Barry says, "I tried, too, but I only got one of mine out."

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Fellowship Hour

The first Sunday of every month, our church takes communion, and after services, one family volunteers to provide snacks for a fellowship hour. We signed up for today. Our pastor announced the event with, "As usual, the Stahls got carried away, and there is a whole meal out in the narthex after church. Please stay."

I'm afraid he's right. The tithe on Barry's bonus bought a feast. Barry did a tropical fruit platter of fresh pineapple, two varieties of coconut, and mango; we had a bowl of fresh-picked strawberries from a local grower; there were snow peas with dill dip; there were plenty of smoked turkey sandwiches; and there were little cookies with flags embedded in them (thank you Pillsbury) and a giant Hershey's chocolate bar to chop pieces from. Also punch and coffee. The day was a huge success despite the fact that we had counted on picnicing and had set up tables all over the church's newly planted lawn, only to have it start pouring about 2/3 of the way through Pastor's sermon. So everybody just crammed in and got cozy.

The punch was a variation of what we served at our wedding: Lemon-lime soda and fruit juice, with scoops of rainbow sherbert bobbing around in the punch.

There were lots of leftovers so guess what we'll be living on for the rest of the week?

Mom in a Kayak

Yesterday was a lovely day for early July - breezy, not too hot, partly cloudy. Just wonderful. Our friends the Fruechtes called and asked if we would go canoeing with them on the Upper Iowa River on the spur of the moment. We tend to be a bit ponderous to do spur-of-the-moment, but we did it anyway, and it was a wonderful day!

I got to try kayaking for the first time and I'm hooked. I had no idea how quick and agile a kayak can be, even in the hands of the most rank of amateurs. It's so intuitive. I would think about going over there and zap, there I would be, over there. There were a number of extremely large, drunken parties of inner tubers floating down the river dumping empty beer cans all over the place, and I amused myself by zipping around on the river picking up those fallen soldiers so that they could be recycled rather than glopping up the beautiful river.

I want a kayak. One of my own. To keep. :)

Thursday, June 30, 2005

They noticed.

Remember that whole hundred-year-old man thing?

Today Barry got a bonus. And a raise.

They noticed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Wedding in Pakistan

The Stahl family wants Aisha and Humayun to know that you are in our thoughts this week and that we are so very happy for you! Many, many blessings on you and your families.

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Big Day for Little Miss A

Daddy took the training wheels off today and she just zoomed off. She is so confident.
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Saturday, June 18, 2005

Hundred-Year-Old Man

My husband is in the midst of a sticky situation at work. He was taken off a shoot that he doesn't particularly enjoy but in which he takes considerable pride, and had to hire a photographer on contract to take his place. It was a real blow to his pride and confidence in himself as a photographer. To pour salt on fresh wounds, he was still asked to go on the shoot to be the producer, which means he has to observe all the photography and facilitate the whole operation while keeping hands off the camera. It's very hard for him, yet he knew he had to remain professional for the sake of both the client and his company.

Barry told me the other night that he has fixed on a plan for what to do when he wonders how he should react to something. He tries to imagine what a hundred-year-old man would do in his situation and react with the same maturity and perspective.

I think it's a great idea. I feel like getting him a wristband that reads "WW100D?" to help him remember his new strategy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Home from Baltimore

I went to Baltimore to do some training for my new position. I flew out Saturday and spent Sunday in northern Virginia with Aaron and Vania and the children, then drove back up to Baltimore Sunday night for meetings Monday and Tuesday. I was supposed to get home last night, but missed my connection in Chicago and so got to hole up in a Chicago hotel and try again this morning.

It's sure good to be home.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Frank B. Kellogg High School Class of 1980 Reunion

It's really gonna happen. August 20th is the date. Though our school is no more, we are going to gather to pretend we recognize old faces, lie about how great everybody looks and dive into the food that we have been denying ourselves for two months in a last-ditch effort to lose a few pounds.

Lots of folks are MIA, so if you know any of the people on the "Find Classmates" page, please point them there.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Lucy Update

Sorry, I should have told you all how things turned out for little Lucy Goose. She quickly outgrew the cage we had for her here, so we sent her home to the farm a week early. And she did fine. She tested a bit but quickly accepted that goslings are not for eating, and joined the rest of the little flock happily. Lucy is probably Brucie, he/she is the largest of the goslings, but whatever; s/he is happy.

Testing from Photobucket

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Oh, this is kewl. You can upload a photo to Photobucket, then click "blog" and it will post it right to your blog. If this works, that is.

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Friday, June 03, 2005

Tea Party By the Pond

The girls had a tea party by our backyard pond this afternoon. They served lots of junk food and invited Susie, Natalie and a plush bunny to attend.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

June 1st Update

It's been awhile since I had time to blog. Lots of stuff going on here. For one thing, the in-laws visited for the past week, heading home this morning. They sneaked out this morning an hour and a half earlier than they had told us to expect, so we didn't even get to say goodbye. We just saw the car pulling out. Argh! At least we had lovely weather for their visit and they enjoyed the children, and my mother-in-law washed dishes constantly and my father-in-law worked on the dining room remodel with Barry, so they were a big help in those ways.

Another thing that happened was that I have been offered a promotion within the company I work for, Medquist. We've been working on this for a couple of weeks now and the actual offer came through last night. I'm about to send off the email accepting it. I will be a supervisor of medical transcriptionists, working on scheduling so that contracted turnaround times are met and the MTs get as much work as they need and want without feeling completely overwhelmed (or so that is my assignment). I need to travel to Baltimore in mid June for training. I'm excited about the trip, but not happy about leaving my family, even for a few days.

And finally we have yet another pet in the family: Lucy Goose.

Evidently the US Postal Service quit contracting with FedEx for its air freight and switched to USAir, which is, of course, in bankruptcy. So it's cancelling flights and leaving laden jets on runways, sometimes for days. My friend Kathleen ordered a batch of ducklings and goslings from a hatchery, and they were caught in this mess, arriving at her house after a week rather than the 1-2 days that is hoped for. It was horrible. All but 4 goslings were dead. The four survived by cannibalism. Geese are vegetarians by nature, so these were confused little geese. Three of them bounced back and switched to a proper goose diet and began rapidly making up lost ground, but one just couldn't get it through her little head that she has plenty to eat now. She was attacking the other goslings and doing serious damage to wings and necks.

So my friend asked us to take her for a couple of weeks for some serious lovin' therapy and see if we can't get her turned around. She's isolated from my chickens and given lots of good starter crumble, plus I've been putting her on the lawn quite a bit so she can taste grass, white clover, sorrel and dandelion greens. She's eating very well and growing almost visibly. And she is so sweet! She follows people and is frantic if left behind. She cries piteously if left alone in her wire cage for even a moment, so in desperation, we finally got my youngest's largest doll, a 34-inch companion doll, and sat her outside the cage with her face turned toward the gosling, and that did the trick. Lucy sits as close as she can to the doll and talks quietly to her by the hour.

If after her two weeks probation are up, she can be reintegrated with the other young geese, we will have succeeded. If she is still imprinted for hurting the other geese, then she will have to be destroyed.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Saucy Walker and her Little Sister: A Doll Story

I am no doll restorer, but I can give baths, and I can comb hair, and I can sew. :) That's about it. Anyway, I bought this interesting doll lot a couple of weeks ago on eBay which included a 22-inch Saucy Walker and some friends. (Seller photo.)

When she arrived, Saucy really was in good shape; she just needed a bath, a new wig and some clothes. (Her eyes could use resetting but I'm not bothering at this point.)

While we waited on her wig to arrive from Kemper Dolls, Saucy and I were looking at dolls on eBay and she spotted one that she loved.

"Mama!" she said. "Can she be my little sister? I really want a little sister!" (Again, seller photo. She did have arms, they just weren't in the picture. She is a no-name 19" walker as best I can tell.)

So I bid. And I won the little sister.

Here is how Saucy looks today, rewigged and with a pretty new dress:

And here she is, proudly introducing her Little Sister:

Sisters, together at last.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Talented auction writer

Check out this auction on eBay. Very clever marketing.

UPDATE: Harrumph. It was pulled. I have no idea why; it was an innocent auction.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

My beautiful Mother's Day gift

Barry made this beautiful wind chime for me out of copper pipe and scraps of walnut wood. It's hanging outside my office window. After a very frustrating session of sawing teeny pieces of first one pipe and then another, he figured out how to tune it, and now it is quite melodious. I keep finding myself trying to pick a recognizeable tune out of its tones.

I love how it has that Craftsman look to it of a piece made by hands.

What a nice man.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Puzzle Update

It's done. We're still not allowed to use the dining table. My son stands over the puzzle like a smallish timber wolf, growling and snarling, if anyone approaches with a potentially sticky plate.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Walda Appreciation Day

How embarrassing. I nearly forgot Walda Appreciation Day.

Grumpy little thing, isn't she?

"I don't WIKE dese cuwwers, my WEGS are cold and you WON'T make me no pants, my FOHEHEAD has a bwuise, my THWEATAH doevvn't fit and NUFFING is going wight awound hewe!"

Meet So Sorry Sarah. I like her, but I think she would drive a kid nuts. You can't cheer her up no matter how hard you try.

On the other hand...

Meet So Funny Natalie.

"HAhahaha! I awweady wost one of my shoes and I don't even cawe!"

Natalie is annoying for the opposite reason: She's like one of those "morning people" who can drive you nuts at the office or in the dorm or on the phone. She is always hysterically happy no matter how crummy the weather or early the hour or bad the headache.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Mowing in the Snow

Where but the Upper Midwest can you mow the lawn and shovel snow all in the same day?

OK, so that was an exaggeration. But my son's job is to mow the lawn in summertime and shovel the driveway and walks in wintertime, and it took him all weekend to do the mowing because he would no sooner get started but thick heavy flakes would start falling and would quickly clog the mower. Ridiculous! We're all stomping around making sarcastic comments about the weather and I keeping having to send the baby back to change clothes because she comes downstairs in her swimming suit, she wants summer to come so badly. And it's never fun to have your garage sale snowed upon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Jigsaw puzzle

We have tons to do around here, every minute should be full of important things... so why on earth did I open a box containing a gazillion-piece jigsaw puzzle?

It's spread out all over the dining table now and everyone is addicted. We're all going buggy looking at teensy pieces with teensier little people and chickens and stuff on them but we can't stop ourselves.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

On quilting

Cotton pieces lovingly joined
to form not so perfect quilts
for not so perfect lives,
yet filled with love and hope
to last from generation to generation.

Ruth Christiansen ~ 8/17/51 - 9/29/03

Daddy's Home

Barry was gone for a few days, combining business and pleasure - the business being a meeting with a client (Hershey Products) and pleasure being introducing himself to his baby niece, Miss E. He is home now and safe, bearing lots of photos of a grinning baby girl and lots of chocolate.

We really missed him.

It's not that we can't get along without him. We do just fine, really. We're all busy people and we keep up with our schedules and accomplish things. We sleep OK, nobody quits eating and pines away. We're really fine.

But boy, are we glad when he comes home! The house feels different when he comes home. It's cozier, the lights are brighter, the walls friendlier, the floors warmer. The creaky, lumpy old bed he and I share is more comfortable when he's in it. He got home last night just as the kids were supposed to be getting to bed, so they had all welcomed him home last night, but this morning when they woke up and he was where he belonged, in our bed, they piled in, assorted pets, morning breath and all, for a snuggle before everybody had to get ready for work and school.

I know moms are supposed to be the heart of the home and all that, but dads are... Dads are... Oh, I don't know. Maybe the backbone of the home. We can slog along without him for awhile, but we sure are thankful when he comes back.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Making Vania Drool

Vania, this is for you.

(Well, the picture's gone, but it used to be a picture of fresh rhubarb.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Iowa Sex Offender Registry

Up until just very recently, offered a zip code search for sex offenders in Iowa, as well as many other states. I know this because I used it to learn that a man who has been working in ministry, working with children, in our town is listed in the registry and just never bothered to share this with anyone.

I just checked and they no longer do zip code searches in Iowa. However you can still search by zip code in Iowa at after you click that you agree to the terms of the website.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Garage Sale

Oh no! The school burned down!

Not really. But there was a boiler fire this morning before school, and there is a lot of smoke. The children, deeply disappointed, slogged home early to endure a spring day out of doors in the sunshine with birdies singing, rather than having fun in a windowless classroom learning stuff. Poor dears. The gloom is palpable.

It's days like these that they beg to be homeschooled.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Seeing scripture in life

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." -- Psalm 91:4, New International Version.

Check out Waiter Rant.

You gotta read this.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Baby turkeys!

Here is our first little poult to hatch, Little Guy, with his surrogate mommy, Nancy. He was fighting very hard to get away from me so he could go back to his beloved mom.

And here is the second egg, still in progress. The children have already named this one Neville.

* UPDATE * Wednesday morning and Neville is fluffy and beautiful! He actually hatched into my hand last night. He had chipped away his shell all but a tiny hinge and then seemed to get stuck. His feathers were drying. I gently pulled the end of his shell off him, and there was no blood flow to it at all, so that was OK so far, and then he couldn't seem to get out of the rest of the shell, so I held him by the shell over my other palm and let him work his way out with the help of gravity. And poof, I had a turkey poult in my hand!

This morning he and his Mommy, Hepzibah, are doing great.

With two hens and two poults, these are going to be the most spoiled rotten turkeys on the planet.

* ANOTHER UPDATE * I gave in to reason and moved Neville in under Nancy, so she has both babies, and took her eggs and put them under Hepzibah, though I don't think any of them are going to hatch. Nancy looked a little surprised when she noticed that her single baby had magically turned into two babies, but she tucked them both back under her feathers and decided that she must have been mistaken. Hepzibah doesn't seem to miss Neville one bit; she was more interested in the eggs anyway. She also wasn't trying to teach Neville to eat, whereas Nancy has been coaching Little Guy on pecking at his scratch, which he needs (turkeys aren't hard-wired with that information like chickens are).

Monday, April 04, 2005

To Whomever Still Insists We Switch to Daylight Savings Time Each Spring

Fie upon you. Fie, I say.

One of my favorite Pope John Paul II anecdotes

It gets just a brief mention here, but there's a photo here. Pope John Paul II came to see Tony Melendez. He didn't ask Tony to come play for him. And afterward, the Pope hopped down off audience level, walked to stand below the stage at Tony's feet, reached up and patted Tony's knees as he thanked him and blessed him. Tony reached down for a kiss, but the image I will remember is that of the smiling old man reaching lovingly up to touch the young man's knees.

In the words of President Bush, "we're grateful to God for sending such a man."

OTWA Auctions

Remember my mentioning a new online auction house that was in the works by my friends at the Online Traders Web Alliance? Well, it's open! So far I'm impressed. It's easy to list, easy to bid, cheap on listing fees AND they don't care if you promote your offsite website. Tech support has been fast and friendly. Go have a look around.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Rest in Peace, Terri.

A miserable chapter in our nation's history. At least she is now safely with her Lord, who can never and will never betray her.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Hannah Builds a Snowman

The occasion was the arrival of those cute red boots, a gift from a fellow Baby Face fan.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Come Back Stephen, All Is Forgiven

I have been too upset to talk/write about this for months now, but I simply must stop putting it off: I have been very upset with Stephen King.

Not that he cares.

It's about the Dark Tower series. He finally concluded it in the fall, after, what, 15 years? Fifteen years of his fans trudging faithfully along with Roland and his band, learning to speak dialects that take on a freakish life of their own, pretending we are gunslingers too, imagining ourselves as lean mean fighting machines instead of the geeky couch potatoes most of us are. (You know it's true.) We've expended all kinds of mental energy keeping track of alternate worlds, characters picked up from other King books and given new life then killed off and of course agonies of waiting between installments. And at last. The final installment. Roland the Gunslinger finds his Tower.

So as not to completely ruin the ending for anyone who hasn't already read it, I won't tell any specifics, but let me say, when Stephen King says "stop reading here," believe him. I know you won't stop, you'll keep going because you are a Hopeless Fan like me and you've been at this through 7 volumes and no way are you going to shut that book and leave a few more pages left. But please listen to Stephen. He's about to ruin the whole thing for you. He claims he has no control over the books he writes but I can hear him cackling nonetheless because he KNOWS we're all going to read those last few pages. And then he says we're not allowed to write him nasty letters because he forewarned us, after all. We're not allowed to show up on his doorstep and complain and whine. We're not allowed to stalk him. Not even a little bit.

Anyway I am finally coming out of my funk and am willing to consider a reconciliation with Stephen. I even re-read Firestarter a couple of weeks ago. (Still one of his best.) What's done is done. Things will never be the same between us, but at least we can rebuild our relationship. I'm waiting, Stephen.

A little Baby Face story

Thursday, March 10, 2005

It's so fascinating!

Beckham loves it when I'm printing a bunch of decals.

What is that amazing thing? It goes back and forth and back and forth and back and forth

and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth

and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and

Slowly getting back on our feet

On the plus side, every day we're able to do more before falling helplessly onto the nearest horizontal surface for a nap. I'm so thankful we are all a healthy bunch in normal circumstances. Considering how this flu bug knocked us out, I don't even want to think about what it would do in, say, a nursing home.

On the minus side, The Baby has a ruptured eardrum, and Bad Mommy didn't even realize what was going on till a couple of days later. Poor little thing. None of my children have had recurrent ear infections in their lifetimes so I am just not tuned in to what to watch for. Anyway our family doc, who is actually a wonderful physician's assistant, didn't get too excited about it; he said it was already healing.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Still sick.

That's all.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Why the flurry of posts?

It's just been a tough week. Barry is away on business, the children are sick, I don't feel tiptop myself and the first week of the month is always the busiest anyway - too many meetings and obligations. I'm just feeling all "angsty," to quote a certain LOTR parodist.

I had so many plans for projects to do this week but so far all we've been able to do is drag ourselves from one appointment to another meeting to school to afterschool activities to another meeting and then we all come home and fall on our beds and sort of ooze all over everything. (We have colds.) It's probably a good thing Barry isn't here, he'd just catch our germs.


UPDATE: OK, it's not colds. It's the flu. Ugh.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Unexpected pang

I had a miscarriage in the summer of 1999. We weren't trying to have any more children, in fact had decided our family was complete, so the baby was a surprise, and we had barely adjusted to the idea of the pregnancy when we lost it.

We have since been blessed with another child, which helped a great deal with the healing, and in fact I don't think about it a lot anymore unless I am reminded (though I did just now realize that our child would be starting kindergarten next year had he or she lived).

The other night I was watching "The Cider House Rules," based on John Irving's book. One subplot is a doctor who runs an orphanage and does illegal abortions on the side because he feels it's better not to bring yet more unwanted children into the world.

Having lost a child who was not asked for but wanted nonetheless, suddenly it hit me what a terrible loss an abortion is, whether those involved know it or not. At last, my disagreement with abortion is no longer just a head thing, but a heart thing as well.

God in the Clouds

Quote from my little one, age 4:

"If you want to know what God looks like, you look at the clouds. If you see one that looks like God, you say, 'Hi God!' and then you know that's Him."

Doesn't make a whole lot of sense but it sure is cute!

Monday, February 28, 2005

Helen Zarwell

Two men in our church have lost their wives in as many weeks. Today was Helen Zarwell's funeral. This lovely lady died at age 93 after over 60 years of marriage to her husband Herb (Hub) Zarwell. I cannot even come close to fathoming what it must feel like to be without one's mate after so many years together.

These faithful marriages are such an inspiring witness to those of us who are just starting out. (With our 20th anniversary coming up in August, it may not seem like we are just starting out, but compared to people like the Zarwells, oh yes we are.)

A prayer in time of need

I saw this lovely prayer posted on another board. I love that it asks for what we really need - not corporeal rescue from the present crisis, but faith and trust in God's plan for us.

Heavenly Father,
in my present need,
help me to believe
that You are aware of my anxiety
and will do what is best for me.
Give me the strength to trust You
and put the present and future in Your hands.
Grant this through Christ, our Lord.

Friday, February 25, 2005

An update...

She's here! Call it a birth announcement or whatever... is open at its new webstore location!

I'd like to thank the midwife, Sharlyn Design, for delivering this large baby safely.

Still have a lot of stocking to do, and once that's taken care of, I have to get going on, but I can only do so much and still sleep occasionally.

And another update.

Remember Wagglepop, that startup auction alternative to eBay?

Killed. Dead. Deceased. Muerte.

If you gave them your credit card information, be afraid. Be very afraid.

And lastly, a Doll Story.

Thuthie and Thandi and the Makeovah
by Miss B, who is off school today and has way too much time on her hands