Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pet Owner's Prayer

Dear God,

Please help me to become the person my dog thinks I am.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Cards for Procrastinators

I just have to tell you about They are a custom photo print shop. You upload your digital photos, place your order and they FedEx your prints to you. They also do photo Christmas cards.

So the Stahls still had no Christmas cards for the year. I had pretty much given up on sending them out this year, but my husband hadn't. Saturday evening (that's right, this past Saturday evening, just 3 days ago), he set up the lights and took a family photo of us in front of our house. Then he uploaded the image to mpix, placed an order for photo cards, and zapped it off.

The cards arrived today.

With envelopes.

And at a unit cost of about 60 cents, including next day shipping.

These people are incredible. I highly recommend them.

Our Former Babysitter Gets Married

From Mrs. Mac's blog linked over there =====> comes this beautiful photo of a happy young couple. The bride used to babysit for our elder two years ago. As you can see she is now a gorgeous young woman with a husband who obviously adores her.

Many blessings on the newliweds.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Puzzlement II

Doesn't expecting the unexpected make the unexpected become the expected?

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Puzzlement

If a person is "honest as the day is long," is she more honest in the summer? And as December 21 draws near, does she find herself getting a little shifty? Sneaky, even?

Quote for Church Treasurers

I don't know if I have mentioned this, but I am the treasurer of St. Peter's and have been for nearly 3 years now. They entrusted this important job to a newbie because nobody else wanted it.

I was talking to my parents about church financial matters in general and St. Peter's specifically, and Mama told me of a quote that is on the wall of the office at Maplewood Covenant Church where Beth Immanuel's council of elders holds most of its board meetings.

It is attributed to Hudson Taylor, and it reads, "God's work done God's way will never lack God's supply."

It is a beautiful statement and I plan to print it out and give it to the Council members at our next meeting. If we are urgently seeking the will of God in our spending, how can we go wrong? He is never wrong.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Secret to Avoiding Caroling Burnout

Quite by accident, I discovered the key to avoiding that state of burnout where you are ready to go ballistic if you hear one more chirpy rendition of "Santa Baby."

The answer is a two-step process:
1. Don't go shopping after the 3rd Wednesday in November.
2. Attend your local school's winter concert.

It's that simple. Avoid the mall/WalMart/grocery so you don't hear any carols until the evening you take a seat on a metal folding chair in an echoing school gymnasium and listen to young voices, some of them cracking, some of them trying too hard to sound like pop stars, and all of them lacking in breath control, as they sing "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" and "Stille Nacht."

As tears come to your eyes, you will find your heart beats a little faster at the amazing miracle of God Made Man as retold in the voices of children. (I even welled up over "The Little Drummer Boy," which I normally absolutely loathe.)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

One-time Tax Credit for 2006 - up to $60/family

Click here for information on a tax credit you can take against your 2006 federal income taxes for as much as $60 a family (possibly more if you save all your old phone bills compulsively).

Funny how this has been so quiet. My phone company hasn't said anything about it and I'd think they would want the brownie points for passing it along.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Analogies I would never have thought of myself

Here is a list of what are purported to be the 25 worst analogies ever created (found in papers by creative writing students). You may find them horrible. I myself think they are wonderful. In fact a few border on brilliance. Enjoy.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Interstate 80, Iowa, by Heywood Banks

Note: I'm posting this here mostly so I can find again next time I need it.

Mississippi River...
Corn --
What's that smell?
Iowa City

Corn --
Look, a tree!
Des Moines

Corn --
There's that smell again!
Council Bluffs
Missouri River!

Giant Hilarious Foot update

GHF is still with me. My second postop checkup was this morning. I got my stitches out, finally, and had x-rays, but he said it's too early to graduate from the giant cast boot. *sigh* When I told him the relatives were coming to MY house for Thanksgiving, he kind of groaned and said I'd better accept all the help I'm offered and not feel bad about it, because he could tell by how I'm healing that I've been on my foot too much as it is.

X-rays seem okay, though, so that's a plus.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Where do they sell this mirror?

Roseann Stahl sent me this in an email titled, "Can you check your Wal-Mart for me?" She's trying to find the one that sells this mirror. :)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Pajama Day

My sister called yesterday to ask how I and the Giant Hilarious Bandaged Foot were getting along (the answer is, fine) and to tell me the 40,000 things they had to do over the weekend. Then she said, "I'm thinking about declaring tomorrow to be Pajama Day."

She explained that Pajama Day is a day when everybody stays home, stays in their jammies and just kicks back, eats, wallows around and does nothing critical or time-sensitive. In short, they relax, regroup and restore themselves. She homeschools her son, and her husband owns his own landscaping firm, so Pajama Day means no school and usually also means it's raining and Vann is off work for the day. They loll around, make a fire, put together models, surf the Net, eat and play with the dog.

It sounds wonderful.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bunion No More

I think my surgery went okay. They had us there ridiculously early, but on the plus side, they actually gave me a hospital room, one with cable TV, so I switched between Animal Planet (a very interesting show about baby rhinos) and Sci-Fi (something incomprehensible where a guy sees things in black and white) for a couple of hours. Then they took me in for surgery and I remember the BP cuff going on and the pulse oximeter and then people laughing and saying I was all done. Total blackout between them. Then we had to wait another two hours back in my room. Barry was threatening to refuse to leave if 8:00 came and we were still there, so we could watch Battlestar Galactica, but they kicked us out about 7:15. So we were home by about 8:00. The kids were glad to see me, Master K had fixed up the guest room for me very nicely, and I took my Percocet and went away to la-la land. This morning I'm not hurting, but I am swollen, and that makes the CAMboot pretty uncomfortable.

The animals are so worried about me. The cats come sit on me and look imploringly into my face for reassurance. Last night Bo was acting totally normal until he smelled my bandage, then his ears and tail drooped and he walked over to Barry and put his head in Barry's lap and looked miserable. He didn't want anything to do with me the rest of the evening. (I went to bed early, but Master K said he was sad all evening and every time anyone said "Mom" he would kind of cringe.) Today he keeps coming to find me and puts his nose on me and looks sad and worried. They are so sweet.

I'm reading, computing and stitching on a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt here with my foot up on a stack of pillows.

Miss B went to Kayla's mother's wake after school yesterday. Most of the school faculty was there, as was a large chunk of the student body.

My parents told us of another young lady who lost her father this week. They had already lost her mother some time ago, and she and her father were farming in Northern Wisconsin. Now she has neither parent. She is only 14, yet she wants to keep farming somehow. I have no idea how she could manage it. Anyway, please pray for comfort and rescue for this young lady, too. Her name is Anita.

P.S. I must still have Percocet in my system. I have edited this post twice now and still am finding typos!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Her life will never be the same

Yesterday morning one of the young ladies of our town, a junior in high school, found her mother on their bathroom floor, dead of an apparent aneurysm. Kayla's father lives in another city.

Please remember Kayla in your prayers today and in the months to come as she figures out what the shape of her life is to be. Please pray specifically for a personal relationship between her and her Heavenly Father, who cares for all orphans.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A bunion by any other name...

That's right, I have a, uh, um, a bunion. Can't they think of a better name for it? For example, for "washerwoman's elbow," there is "tennis elbow," which brings to mind long days spent practicing for Wimbledon rather than long hours spent scrubbing a floor or peeling root vegetables.

So instead of "bunion," how about "distance runner's toe"? Or maybe "Prada foot," so named because you can make it worse by wearing expensive narrow shoes?

Anyway, I have one on my right foot, and am getting one on my left. I'm going to have the right foot operated on Friday. The left will wait a few years. I am going to be on crutches for at least awhile. They say I can't drive, though I intend to figure out how to do it safely at least around New Albin. And of course it is going to be a little bit interesting preparing for out-of-town guests for Thanksgiving while hobbling around in a CAMboot. Oh well. By Christmas I should be back in heels again, no longer banging my Prada foot into every hard or sharp object I see, no longer having it get stepped on by the dog (who rarely, if ever, misses). I think it will be worth it.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Record Player

I don't really know why I keep dragging my LPs from house to house, but I have never been able to bring myself to throw them out. Master K. was looking through them the other day and asked if I would please buy a record player to play them on because they're "cool." Amazed that my stuff is old enough to be considered interesting, I bought a turntable for a buck at The Way Station.

Since then we've been amusing ourselves playing scratchy disks of Kiss Double Platinum, Journey's ESC4P3, Foreigner's Head Games, The Best of the J. Geils Band, and others. This is fun. :)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

New church home

No, no, not for us - we ARE home.

No, this is my parents' church, Beth Immanuel (House of Messiah, more or less), a church they helped to found in the Twin Cities. It is, for want of a better term, a Messianic church, a Christian church in the Hebrew tradition. Anyway, it was founded... I'm gonna say 5 years or so ago, and was somewhat of a church plant from another Messianic congregation, Sar Shalom (Prince of Peace). My parents have been involved in the guiding of this church since day one.

I was startled to learn that the group had put in an offer on a church building, a wonderful old brick Presbyterian church in Hudson, Wisconsin, of all places. This afternoon their offer was accepted, and soon this

will be the home base of their church.

It looks like a super place. Theirs is a very active church, and every inch of the building will be put to use.

I'm thankful for this blessing on them!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Go, Speed Racer, Go!

Today is Barry's ... um... 43rd birthday. (I had to think there for a minute.) We succeeded in a) surprising and b) greatly pleasing him with his present (we frequently manage one or the other but not both). It was a DVD of 11 early Speed Racer cartoons that he remembered from his boyhood. He's going to wear his Speed Racer tee-shirt and watch Speed Racer cartoons one of these days when life slows down long enough for some down-time.

Cow Jokes

Two cow jokes, courtesy of the New Albin Elementary School First Grade (highlight to see answers):

Q: How do cows solve math problems?
A: With a cowculator.

Q: How do cows manage their busy schedules?
A: With a cowendar. (Or, as Miss B. contributed, "by moo-titasking.")

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Apron Collection

I finally figured out what to do with my apron collection. I stapled them to three walls of my front porch, up above the windows, where none of them will get direct sunlight. I took a sort of lame panoramic picture here to show you. Click on the pic below to see it in full.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

We Don't Need Another Dog

We don't need another dog.

We don't need another dog.

We don't need another dog.

We don't need another dog.

We don't need another dog.

I keep repeating it in an attempt to convince myself that we are not the right family to adopt Sandy.

But when I look at that page, and I see that sad little face and drooping head, I see the ruined coat that reminds me so much of Prissy's coat when we rescued her, or even of Bo's when we got him, and I know what beautiful dogs they turned into with a lot of love and some decent food, and I want to drive to Canton right this instant. It's not far. Less than an hour. I could be back with her by lunchtime.


We don't need another dog.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Animal rescue organization needs your help urgently

Read the full story here. In brief, a no-kill shelter in the state of Washington was broken into over the weekend. The vandals opened the doors to all the cages, releasing about 50 rescued cats and kittens and many, many small animals like mice and gerbils. It looked like some of the little animals had been deliberately stepped on, while the cats had caught many more of them. The cats also hurt one another in the melee.

The vandals may have broken in with the thought of robbing the place, but apparently this looked like more fun, as they left all the money in the till when they left.

This is a volunteer run operation taking care of many abandoned animals, mostly cats but others too. They need help now more than usually. We are suckers for abandoned animals, as you well know if you read this blog, and we just sent some money by PayPal. Won't you please join us? Thank you!

Four Years This Month

Four years ago this month, we bought this house.

It is so different today from what it was like back then. I can hardly believe only four years have passed!

Let me see if I can dig up a "before" picture:

And here is an "after" (actually "during") picture that I just shot this morning (cloudy windy day but hopefully you get the idea).

Small Town Controversies

Small controversies can loom large in a town as teeny as New Albin (population 450 on a good day). The fuss that has been raging for some months now is whether we need another grocery or not.

For many years, there was a small grocery on Main Street that was open 7 days a week, and then across the square was the City Meat Market, which sells wonderful meats and specializes in its smokehouse meats. The smell of hickory or apple woodsmoke frequently wafts over the town, as the smokehouse is nearly always going full blast. Alan and Kelley are the current owners, Alan having bought the place from his parents. If I have the story straight, he is the third generation in the business. Anyway they have a grocery section as well, with as much as they can possibly cram into a small space using a lot of very high shelves. They have a refrigerator case and a freezer case as well as a couple of walk-ins in the back. Alan and Kelley are members of St. Peter's Church, and out of deference to the day of worship, they are closed on Sundays.

Main Street Market depended on local business for survival, so it slowly bled to death as its main customers were the elderly who don't drive out of town; the rest of us would drive to LaCrosse or Waukon to do our marketing, for prices and selection. The Main Street Market didn't do enough custom to keep the fresh foods fresh. The produce was scary. The frozen foods usually looked fossilized. The meat - well, nobody bought meat there, they went over to the Meat Market. I was one of those who would run into the Main Street Market only when I absolutely had to, i.e., we had unexpectedly run out of milk. The manager of the store sarcastically called people like me the Sunday Shoppers, because any other day of the week, we'd go somewhere else if at all possible.

Main Street Market finally succombed and closed its doors last summer. The bank bought the building and is doing an extensive renovation. The bank will be using half the main floor space, but the other half, and the whole second floor (a superb space, all open, would make an awesome studio or maybe an antique store if it had a freight elevator), are open for lease.

There's a group in town who are frantically trying to line up somebody to run a grocery store out of the second main floor half. I went to an early planning meeting with an open mind, but when I realized just how much money they needed and how iffy the whole business proposition would be, I decided to have a talk with Alan. I asked him to tell me honestly what he could not offer that the town needed badly enough to open another grocery store. He said he couldn't think of anything. He is limited on space, and he is not interested in expanding at present, but he is willing to get anything anyone wants if they can wait a couple of days, and his selection is really amazing for the space he has. His prices are on the high side, but still a better value than the Main Street Market's ever were.

My conclusion was that the only thing the City Meat Market was missing was Sunday hours, and I'm willing to work around that to see Alan and his family at church every week. I respect their decision not to do business on Sundays. And I am no longer supporting the push to get another grocery opened. It just doesn't make good business sense to me. It's caused some hard feelings with good friends of ours who can't understand why Barry and I aren't leaping on board with the whole New Albin Grocery plan.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

More for Mrs. Mac!

More Stuart for a sanity break.

Stuart Goes to the Therapist

Stuart Gets his Picture Taken

Stuart and the Too-Small Swimsuit

Stuart Joins the Tee-Ball Team

Stuart Meets the Tooth Fairy

Thrift shop finds

I actually got these a few weeks ago but forgot to blog them.

First is this cute wicker doll cradle. The bottom was busted out but that was an easy fix.

And then there is this doll carriage. One wheel was off, which was easy to put back on, and then the awning was gone, but the wire framework was still there, so I made a replacement.

That little feller in the cradle is not a thrift store find. He came off eBay, but he's also still available in the stores, I think. He's a little Berenguer. He's very cute.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Some of my FAVORITES from YouTube

I was just paging through my Favorites list on YouTube and thought I'd share some of the goodies.

First, this just in from the BBC:

Next, some bored British SAS troops in the desert:

I don't know why I like this one, except that babies are cute, even baby sloths.

Next, I have a gazillion episodes of Stuart, but here is just one:

And finally, a classic from PeeWee's Playhouse: All the things you can do with a pair of giant underpants.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Battlestar questions

1. What made Apollo and Starbuck hate each other so bad?
2. Conversely, what made Starbuck and Tigh so buddy-buddy all of a sudden?
3. Is it just me, or does baby Hera/Number 13 look awfully delayed for a supposedly 12- to 13-month-old child?
4. Why is it always human males being seduced by gorgeous Cylon babes? Where are the irresistably gorgeous male Cylon models? (Wait, I know the answer to this one. BSG's producers/writers just know who they are writing for.)
5. Am I overthinking things here?

Be sure to follow Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance, found here.

Pet Funnies

Two from Beckham the Cat:

Master K. had to do a science project of an insect collection. He had collected 25 specimens and carefully mounted them on a board. Unfortunately he did not put the board out of reach of the cats, and they discovered it and ATE several of his specimens! He was livid, of course. After carefully replacing the specimens, he stashed his board high on top of a bookshelf.

The next morning we heard Beckham walking on the piano keyboard, back and forth. Master K. had a look and reported that Beckham was trying to figure out how to get to the top of the bookshelf from the piano. Master K. lifted him down and lectured him on the evils of eating someone's homework. He said that Beckham listened carefully, and then he made that little "mrowr? mrowr?" sound that he makes when he wants someone to do something for him and looked very pointedly up at the bookshelf. Master K said, "He ASKED me to get it down for him!"

Another Beckham story: This morning Master K. came into the kitchen and asked me if I knew that sound Beckham makes when he's trapped somewhere behind a closed door and needs someone to come let him out. I said I did. Master K. reported that Beckham was in the front window, making that sound at people he saw walking down the street. He was saying, "Help! I'm being held prisoner in this house! Lemme out!"

And finally Janie the Lovebird is very lonely, so I bring her downstairs where she can see more stuff going on in the house sometimes. (Otherwise she's alone in the girls' room all day.) She is a very sociable little thing, and every time she hears a strange voice she gets very excited and calls and shouts for the new person to come see her. That includes voices she hears on 1) the television, 2) my computer or 3) the doctors dictating when I can't stand my headphones and have to take a break and just listen to them through the speakers. She's so cute!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Faith and Football

Facing the Giants

A movie opening soon - watch the "teaser trailer" first if you don't mind.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Comment on House, from a Rat Appreciator

The opening scene of House just showed a white lab rat starting to munch on the researcher who was working with him, after the researcher had just keeled over on the floor with the Mystery Disease of the Week.

Okay, listen, scriptwriter(s): That just wouldn't happen, okay? Unless it was an absolutely STARVING rat.

Thanks, people, for playing to the illogical fears of all the uninformed rodent-haters of the world. Thanks a lot.

Cream of Carrot Soup with Curry

I just made this up.

Cut up 2 lb. carrots into chunks. Cook covered in as little water as possible till tender. Drain, reserving cooking liquid.

Slice one onion into a large soup pot. Saute onion slices in butter or olive oil till tender.

Place drained cooked carrot chunks in a blender and add half and half, milk or a combination, enough that you can blend the carrot chunks smooth. Add some curry powder, more or less to taste and blend some more. Add the sautéed onion slices and their drippings to the puree and continue to blend. Add the carrot cooking liquid. When the mixture gets to be of such volume that it’s too full for the blender, return it to the soup pot, and simmer and stir, adding milk or half and half as needed to thin it. Season to taste with salt and perhaps some white pepper. Do not boil; just simmer. Serve hot.

At last! It's here once again!

International Talk Like a Pirate Day, but of course you all knew that, because you all had it on your calendars, right?


Monday, September 11, 2006

No, the Irony Has Not Escaped Me

I'm wallpapering the guest room closet.

Meanwhile I am stripping wallpaper from the second floor stairwell.

And when I say "meanwhile," I really mean "simultaneously." As in, "while the new paper is booking for 3-10 minutes depending on whose instructions I'm going by, I'm scraping old paper in the stairwell, and then I squirt DIF on more old wallpaper and race back to the guest room to apply another strip of paper while the DIF sits for its requisite 20 minutes of glue-softening time."

Remembering the Battle of Flight 93

I have to say I appreciate how Citizen Smash is remembering the events that occurred 5 years ago today:

2001 - The Battle of Flight 93: Passengers rebel against al Qaeda terrorists, forcing them to crash a hijacked plane in an empty field near Shanskville Pennsylvania, preventing the likely destruction of the U.S. Capitol.

It is easy to lose our courage over the fierce wounds our nation sustained that day, and fail to remember the courage of those who won their own part of the war. Hail, heroes.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Happy Anniversary

Happy Anniversary, Mama and Papa. Fifty-two years, what an inspiration to those of us just getting started. We love you.

The Most Wonderful Time... of the Year

I just dropped these three off after the obligatory Camera-Mad Mommy Back-to-School Picture on the Front Steps (I wasn't the only one, Jane Meyer had her kids lined up out in front of her house, too). Our school district did some major remodeling over the summer and the buildings smell so good. I love the smell of a school that's reopening after the summer anyway, and combine that expectant sort of smell (I think it's a combination of old wood and floor polish, with a little disinfectant mixed in) with the scent of new paint, new office furniture and fresh vinyl flooring, and MMMMmmmmmMMMmmmmm it's invigorating!

I know January 1st is really the new year, but for me, the year always begins with school.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Wayne's Video

Wayne put together this video taken in Grandma and Pap-Pap Stahl's back yard with the relatives.

edited to add a link to those great Jack Johnson lyrics. I also moved the video over to YouTube where it seems to load a little faster.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Pap-Pap in the Hospital

Friday my father-in-law started having very sharp stomach type pains and his blood pressure dropped to where he couldn't see it register on his sphigmomanometer. Mother-in-law took him to the emergency room, assuming the logical, which that one of his ulcers had started to bleed again, but apparently that's not it. He was admitted and is still there and they still don't know what's going on, other than that he has some kind of infection, for which he is getting IV antibiotics. He's feeling better enough to get crabby about having to stay there, so that's a good sign. He told Mom he was ready to hitchhike home if she wouldn't drive him.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Laying Loretta to rest

Blogspot didn't like me yesterday and wouldn't let me post, but yesterday was Loretta's funeral. It was lovely, and about 50 people came. Barry was a pallbearer. I sang two songs, "Lonesome Valley" and "Just a Closer Walk With Thee." The Methodist minister from Waukon gave the sermon and did a nice job with his homecoming-themed message.

We accompanied her casket to the gravesite and then afterward had lunch at the home of a hospital volunteer who had spent quite a bit of time with Loretta in the past couple of weeks.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Loretta Always Wanted to Dance

Loretta was partially paralyzed from birth and lacked full use of her right side. She had a little bit of pinch function of her right hand and could use her right leg for balance, mostly, but that was about it. She loved music, loved watching people dance and told me that she always wished she could dance herself.

She lived a difficult life, always poor, always struggling, working very hard. She was never allowed to go to school. Her father said she was too stupid to do anything but keep the chickens. (He was so wrong.) She never learned to read or write. Her mother arranged a marriage for her with a man she did not like, and though he was very difficult to live with, to say the least, she was his faithful wife for all the rest of his days.

Loretta loved the Lord very dearly and knew Him as a personal friend. When we were packing to move her to her senior citizen apartment last October, she reminded me frequently to save out the big framed painting of her Lord till last, because she needed it with her and if it went into a box, she would not be able to sleep. She thanked Him constantly, even though she was afraid to leave the familiarity of her little house. She couldn't sleep much anyway in those last days before the move; she told me that she would sit in her bed and hold the painting close to her and thank her Lord that He had answered her prayers to fix her roof, and that though it was not in the way she had expected, she knew that He knew what was best.

Once in her clean little apartment with the good furnace and the sound roof, I remember her looking around at all the mess and boxes and sighing happily to herself, and muttering, "I don't know why I didn't do this years ago." And she thanked her Lord. In fact she thanked Him every day for her home for as long as words could still come.

A couple of weeks ago, Loretta quit eating. Her home health caregiver Sonya had been worried about her lately anyway and that was what made her take Loretta to the doctor. The doctor admitted her to the hospital. Loretta had many systems in failure, and she had pneumonia. We weren't sure she would make it out of the hospital, but once the pneumonia stabilized, she was moved to a nursing home. We last saw Loretta Sunday afternoon. She could no longer speak, but she knew we were there, she enjoyed my reading her mail and the Scripture to her, and when Barry said goodbye, she held him very tightly and would not let him go for some time.

Loretta went to Heaven last night at about 11:00 p.m. We miss her, but we know that her arms and legs are strong now, that nothing hurts, that her voice is powerful and beautiful, that she stands straight and moves with ease. At last, Loretta can dance! I think she is dancing and singing and praising her Lord Jesus, her dearest friend and her saviour. He kept His promise to her. He did indeed walk through the valley of the shadow of death with her, and when she stepped out into the light at the other side, He was holding her hand.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday Finds

From an estate sale two blocks away:

Now you can see how dry we have been lately!

And this was free to whoever could muscle it to their car:

Thursday, July 06, 2006

What to Do If Your Parents Won't Take You Camping

Go anyway. Invite a friend or two and camp out in your own back yard.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Fun with Sewage

A little present from the City of New Albin:

They're flushing our sewers this month. The truck finally got around to my street. Barry told me to keep checking the basement floor drain, and it seems to be okay, but the main floor toilet keeps delivering special little high-velocity surprises. I don't think I want to go into too much detail, and I don't think YOU want me to, either. But it's not a great day to be a work-at-home mom.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Trying to Live with my Kitchen

Our kitchen needs to be gutted and rebuilt from scratch, but that's years and years down the road for us, so I am trying to live with what I have, which is

a) horrible 1970s patterned vinyl floor covering that just about blinds you, and if it doesn't, slowly drives you insane, a la Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper crossed with the patterned carpet at the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King's The Shining

b) crumbling plaster and a hole where a doorway used to be (it's only closed permanently on the other side, the kitchen side has studs)

c) the ugliest cabinets you ever did see, made of warping particle board frames and PLASTIC (yes, you read that right) drawers that are falling apart.

There is nothing I can do about a) and b) for now, but I have been battling c) for quite awhile. I've been mending the drawers every time they crack but still some have disintegrated completely. The cabinets were an ucky dark woodgrain fake color until I painted them white a couple of years ago; I painted the doors and drawer fronts (those that had survived) yellow, added strawberry decals to the doors and put on drawer pulls in crystal glass. That looked okay for about 4 months, then they got grubby too, plus I didn't do a very good job of getting the doors back on the cabinets and they were sagging and wouldn't stay closed.

So last weekend I lost my temper with my kitchen and ripped all the doors and hardware off, painted all the drawer fronts a bright cherry gloss red and instead of cabinet doors I made curtains out of a couple of red and white gingham check bedsheets I'd bought at the Salvation Army (The Company Store donates lots of returns/irregulars to the SA and Goodwill stores here and you can get some real deals). I can now live with my kitchen for awhile longer! Barry said he'd make me some fake drawer fronts to stick in the holes where the deceased drawers used to be.

I'm thinking of watching the Salvation Army store for more of those sheets and adding more curtains to the butcherblock counter (8 feet long, mounted on a commercial steel frame, came out of a deli that was going out of business).

Of course everything clashes with my horrible vinyl floor, but I pretend not to notice, and just hand out Dramamine tablets to people as they enter the room for the first time.

Miss B's New Job

Miss B had her dream job fall into her lap last week. Our little city library has hired two college students to work this summer. One of them was on vacation, so our friend Lisa, who is also chairwoman of the library board, asked Miss B if she would like to temp there, and possibly pick up more hours later too. Miss B had a wonderful time and by all reports did a good job, too. The only problem I see is that she is so young that some of the noisier, rowdier patrons don't feel she has a right to tell them to be quiet or to kick them out of the library for sheer orneriness, but other than that, it went well. She will probably be able to continue to fill in for the college students here and there throughout the summer and then in the fall when they go back to school she can apply for regular work. Our library is only open from 4:00-7:00 p.m. on weekdays. How perfect is that for a student? She can go there straight from the schoolbus when school is in session.

I'm very happy for her, and thankful that Lisa thought of her. We wouldn't have even thought of having her apply on her own.

Father's Day

We celebrated Father's Day a day early by going canoeing on the Upper Iowa River, a stretch that we hadn't gone down before. We went with The Other Barry and Lisa and 3 of their kids. It was really a gorgeous day out there on the river, and we only saw one other party until we came to our landing. About 10 minutes after landing the canoes, we got a quick drencher of a thunderstorm; we helped some other parties who were dashing for cover to get their boats up out of the river before they got struck by lightning. Then the sun came back out and that was that.

Barry took a nap after we got home, then got up and watched his Saturday night sci-fi shows. He said it was a perfect day.

As for Father's Day presents, he said he wanted Romex wire to wire his study. Not an exciting gift, but after I priced it, I realized it was a substantial one. Eek! That stuff has trebled in price in about a year! Evidently commodities prices are up so high that it's hitting everything, and after all, Romex is about half copper and the other half insulation. Anyway, he got his wish. He's making a study in the basement that will be his own place where nobody can go without an invitation, nobody can steal his stapler and forget to return it, nobody can start a project and not finish it, nobody can leave dirty snack dishes (nobody but him, that is). He's never had a space like that before.


There is a lot of animal life out and about right now: Lots of mothers feeding their babies, lots of young animals that aren't experienced with traffic. So we are trying to be careful and not hit anyone. Friday evening we were out driving in the country and within a mile stretch we saw first one mama raccoon and two rather large fat babies trying to cross the highway, and then a second mama with three babies of her own, somewhat smaller than the first two. So adorable.

Then Saturday morning on the street near our house we found a sad sight: A female slider turtle with a shell the size of a platter that someone had driven over. She was trying to find a place to lay her eggs when she died. That's as specific as I want to get. I cleaned her up with a shovel. That had to be deliberate; as my friend Al commented, you have to try to hit a turtle. It's not like they scamper out in front of your car.

Demolition in Progress

The Evangelical Free brethren began tearing down Loretta's house this weekend. They are doing a very careful job, not just knocking it down with a backhoe or something. They're taking it down board by board. First came the asbestos shingles, then all the windows. It's now wide open to the weather. From what I understand, they don't actually own the property yet, as there is some law that says you can only tear down one house per year, so they are tearing down this house while the property still belongs to the Yeomans, and tearing down the other house as their own property.

Since Darlene and Gene Yeoman had already given us permission to be on the property and to take anything that we could use before the house came down, we went over there yesterday afternoon and saw the basement of the house for the first time. It's a wonderful basement, very deep, nice high ceiling - and poured concrete! The beams look good, too. We feel kind of sick about it. Had we known the foundation was so solid, we might have been willing to pay more for the property. Too late now. Now it'll just be filled in and eventually will be a parking lot.

Oh well.

Loretta is not very pleased with us. She wanted us to buy the house and we disappointed her when we did not try harder to do so. But this really is going to be ideal for everybody involved (everybody but us, that is) - Darlene and Gene get more money than they would from us, Loretta has her nice safe apartment, and the church will have a permanent home. And we'll end up with some pretty nice neighbors, so we're not doing too badly either. It's just... well, I hate to see old houses torn down, and I had such hopes that we could buy the property dating back to before we ever bought our place. Plus the church is taking down trees. They had mercy on a couple of them when I looked stricken at the thought, but now they are murmuring that the rest will have to come down, too.

What's a churchyard without shade trees?


Oh well. Again.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Keehawks Shirt on

Lil Miss A designed a Keehawks logo one day last fall. I uploaded the design to CafePress and we just had a kids' hoodie sweatshirt made up with her drawing. It arrived today and it is so cute!

The shirt can be found here.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Last Day of School

Remember this?

Well, here they are today, several inches taller, it seems:

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Coppertone Baby Artist Passes

I just learned that Joyce Ballantyne Brand, the artist who painted the famous little blonde Coppertone Girl with her doggie, passed on this month. Her daughter (the model for the Coppertone girl, actually) sells on eBay and I just found this news on one of her auctions.

Joyce Ballantyne was most famous for her paintings of American pinup girls. Ballantyne's style immediately struck me as similar to Gil Elvgren's, and then I learned that Elvgren was one of her teachers and mentors, so that's not so surprising. She, like Elvgren, believed that a pinup should be the girl next door, only moreso; not some unapproachable beauty, but an everyday American gal caught in a moment of surprise for the passerby to see.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The backyard pond now has a waterfall

Our little pond now has a small waterfall with the water trickling over limestone slabs. It's very pretty.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dumpy Is No More

It's a momentous day in the Stahl household. Dumpy, the faithful Dumpster who has swallowed old plaster and lath, moldy floor coverings, rotten studs, sodden insulation, and many other icky things without a murmur of complaint, left on a big truck today to go live with another family. We got tired of paying $25 a month to have Dumpy live on our lawn, plus another $85 or so every time he needed emptying, and while the demolition isn't entirely complete we think we can handle the rest of it with just regular trash pickup.

I'm sure the neighbors were all wondering when, if ever, we were going to send Dumpy back to wherever it was he came from. I'm happy to say that time has come.

I'm so excited because the spot he was occupying was a parking slot where maybe we can put one of the boats now so it won't be out in the middle of the lawn. (Some of us think a boat is a very ornamental piece of lawn art, while others of us do not agree.)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

World Star Wars Day

May the Fourth be with you.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

Serenity Now/Equality Now

Theaters across three continents will do charity showings of Serenity on the big screen June 22-24, 2006, to benefit Equality Now, a worldwide effort that champions gender equality (and Joss Whedon's favorite charity). For a chance to see the BDM on the Big Screen one more time, go to to find a theater near you.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

New Albin Public Library Quilt Show

Today we had a quilt show with over 50 exhibitors and over 100 quilts. We have a lot of phenomenal quilters in this little town!

First, just some general shots of the main exhibit area.

This is such an adorable idea. These are "paper doll quilts." The clothing is all fabric and attaches to the quilt with snaps, so that you can change the dolls' clothes.

This one was interesting - a Trails quilt set so that it makes a maze.

A lovely crazy quilt dated 1927.

My favorite quilt in the whole show: "The Chicken Came First."

One of the two quilts I showed: A Double Irish Chain that I made this winter and spring.

The other, which I made a year ago, a Stack 'n' Whack.

Lisa Fruitful, whose "baby" this show was.

And the quilt she brought to show, an anniversary quilt made for her parents' 50th, with photos printed on some of the blocks and carefully embroidered with favorite sayings of her father's, like, "Fingers were invented before forks," and "I'm off like a dirty shirt on a Saturday night."

The featured artist of the show was Mrs. Belva Bunker. Mrs. Bunker only began quilting after her retirement from working in the town bank. She does lovely work. I couldn't find any mistakes in any of her quilts. And I looked, too.

All her quilts were set up in the Winnebago Room. The rest of the photos are all of her work.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Prayers for little Anthony's family

My heartfelt sympathy to the family of five-year-old Anthony Turner of Texas. Prayers for comfort and strength for you all.

What I Love About My Job

I never learn it all.

Just when it starts to bore me, I'll get some new branch of medicine or new procedure or new treatment and it's interesting once again. By new, I mean new to me, of course.

Today's new thing was the use of gold seeds placed in holes drilled in a patient's spine bones to treat bone cancer. Just fascinating!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Signs of Spring

Spotted at Woodmans: The elusive Manschewitz EVERYTHING! matzo has found its way back to the Upper Midwest. A sure sign of spring. Yum. I'm munching one right now, getting all kinds of crumbs in the keyboard. EVERYTHING! matzos, in case you did not know, are embellished with poppy seeds, salt, onion AND garlic. I don't think they are kosher for Passover. I mean, they're kosher, as in pareve, but not for Passover. But they are sure good.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sleep Sublim

I was telling Barry about something our friend Kathleen had told me: She said that she was dreaming one night that she was warm and safe and felt so happy that she began to purr. She awoke to find that her cat had cuddled into bed with her and he was the one doing the purring.

Barry asked me, "So when you dream you are warm and safe, do you dream you are snoring?"

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Tired of the clouds of cat hair making me sneeze, I dug out an old fine-toothed pet comb that we had bought for grooming one of the bunnies years ago and combed out both cats. The results were entirely predictable: Easy-going Briggs thought it was great, purred loudly and rolled on his back so that I could comb his bellyfur. Beckham grumped in a cute little chirpy voice, and then when I didn't quit, got louder and grumpier, finally "mrrreowr"ing and leaping out of my lap in a huff.

Relating to God

Last night while scraping old linoleum tile off the basement floor, I was praying for a friend who is in a tough situation and it struck me that I call on God in His capacity of Healer more than any other. I tend to pray about relationships and situations a lot, and when I do, I'm always asking Him to heal them. Heal. I relate to God as the Healer.

I asked Barry if he does the same, and after a few moments of thought, he said no, he doesn't. He says he relates more to God as Creator and Sustainer. When he asks God for help with something difficult, he is asking Him to restore the creation as He intended it, with all working smoothly, and then to continue to sustain it that way.

So with which of God's many names, which define some of His qualities, do you relate the most frequently?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Little Miss A's surgery

Little Miss A had umbilical hernia surgery this morning. It was outpatient, and she did very well. She's home now, doing fine as long as we keep on schedule with the pain medications; in fact, keeping her quiet is the hard part at the moment, she feels so great she wants to run around and play basketball.

Barry told her that while they were at it, the doctors had installed a small clock in her navel. She's pretty sure he's joking, but she can't check until tomorrow when we are allowed to remove the bandages.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Firefly Chickens and Lightbulbs

Shamelessly pirated from the much cleverer and funnier folk over at the and message boards:

Why did the chicken cross the road?
Mal: Because the other side of the road was the only place it could live life on its own terms, without being meddled with.
Zoë: Because that’s where the job was, Sir.
Wash: It followed a really hot girl chicken that could kill it with its pinky. Do chickens have pinkies? No? Well I don’t know then.
Jayne: The money was better over there. (mutters) Lousy seven percent...
Kaylee: To meet shiny new chickens and see the sights.
Simon: That’s where the Alliance was hiding its sister.
River: To get to the other side.
Inara: It just suddenly, for no apparent reason, decided to pick up and abandon the luxurious life it had on this side of the road. That’s not odd, is it?
Book: It was a pilgrimage. Wracked with guilt over the atrocities it had committed, the chicken decided to devote the remainder of its life to God in a desperate search for redemption. Just a guess.
Jubal Early: What did you say? Am I a road?
YoSafBrige: Because you were over there, sweetie.
The Operative: The chicken’s motivations are not my concern. Getting it across the road is.
Badger: Why would the chicken cross the road when he can get some other blighter to do it for him?
Niska: So by facing the emotional and physical pain of dodging traffic...we would finally meet the real chicken.
Mingo and Fanty: That's the road, he's the chicken.
Atherton: Money changed hands which means I can tell that chicken to do whatever I want.
Patience: That chicken ain't too bright. Keeps on crossing that road and I damn near own this moon.
Wash: To escape being mistaken for a gosling and juggled.
The Fruity Oaty Bar: To let it blow its mind.
Mr. Universe: Because everything goes somewhere, and the chicken goes everywhere.
Tracey: Because it was trying to smuggle enhanced chicken gizzards.
Gabriel Tam: I don't care why it crossed the road, but if it does it again I am NOT going after it.
Blue Glove Guy: So... you spoke to the chicken?
Doctor in Alliance hospital: Look at this badge; what does it say? It says "Doctor". The chicken does what I tell it to do.
Monty: What do you mean that's not my chicken?
Tracey: When the chicken can't run it crawls, and when it can't crawl...when you can't do that... You find someone to carry your chicken across the road.
Inara: Because it's a believer. It's intelligent, methodical, and devout in its belief that crossing the road is the right thing to do.
Teacher: Because this side of the road could no longer sustain its numbers, they were so many.
Lawrence Dobson: I don't care. You don't think I'll shoot a chicken?
Sheriff Bourne: Don't much know why the chicken would want to cross to this side of the road.
Crow: You keep your chicken.
Elder Gommen: The chicken is our gift to you.
Stitch: You lock me up in a hot box for four years and now you're handing me a chicken?
Rance Burgess: The chicken is mine!
Official Alliance Statement: The Alliance denies any reports of said chicken crossing a road. Said chicken has never existed, and said road is not pedestrian safe.

And now the lightbulbs:
How many Washs does it take to change a light bulb?
One but he dies three quarters of the way through so that you are genuinely afraid for the other characters when they change the bulb.

How many Jaynes does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. One to try to put it in and another to find a bigger hammer.

How many Books does it take to change a light bulb?
"You know, God said 'Let there be light' but I think true change has to come from within."

How many Kaylees does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. One to change the bulb and another to say "Shiny!"

How many Simons does it take to change a light bulb?
Three. One to clean the new bulb, another to change the bulb and a final one to worry about River having eaten the old bulb in the first place.

How many Inaras does it take to change a light bulb?
None, she's used to working in the dark.

How many Mals does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. One to change the bulb and another to tease Inara about it being red.

How many Rivers does it take to change a light bulb?
"I ate a bulb."

How many Washs does it take to change a light bulb?
None. "What this marriage needs is one less light bulb."

How many Inaras does it take to change a light bulb?
"What did I tell you about changing bulbs in my shuttle?"

How many Books does it take to change a light bulb?
"You cannot change a light bulb, it changes you."

How many Simons does it take to change a light bulb?
One. But the boy spent his entire fortune developing the contacts to infiltrate the place.

How many Zoes does it take to change a light bulb?
Depends. "How much ammo do we have left?"

How many Mals does it take to change a light bulb?
"My light bulb don't crash. If she crashes, you crashed her."

How many Kaylees does it take to change a light bulb?
One ... if she crashed it.

How many Rivers does it take to change a light bulb?
There is only one River.

How many Zoes does it take to change a light bulb?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Mom again

Haven't been posting updates on my mother's health, but it hasn't been too good. She had three weeks of steady improvement, then started heading downhill again. Friday she was readmitted in congestive heart failure and had a tube placed to drain her pericardial effusion. She is remarkably improved today. She is now out of ICU and has her tube out, but I for one am not anxious to see her head home again until we are certain her heart can manage this time.

Thank you for your prayers.

Miss B's Birthday

Miss B said if anyone is wondering what she would like for her birthday, she wants iTunes gift certificates.

I said I'd spread the word.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Weekly Goal

Miss B was writing a weekly goal for herself in her school assignment notebook when one of her friends, H, discovered it. "You're such a geek!" said H. "Gimme that notebook and I'll write you some better goals."

Here are a few of the goals H has set for B to accomplish in weeks past:

1. Get married.
2. Travel to the moon, shave your head, then eat the world's biggest hotdog.
3. Sleep in a giant shoe.
4. Sit on a cotton ball and dream about spinach. Travel to Atlantis and find your long-lost love. Paint yourself pink.
5. Bite your ear, click your elbows and touch your wrist - all at the same time.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Baby panda

We wanted to give Sweet Baby E a bear for her birthday, but the stores were depressingly low on cute bears. There were weird-colored Care Bears galore, and a few cute teddies that Lil Miss A rejected as being "too squishy," so I finally just came home and made this baby panda for her for her birthday.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Pray for Snow

Well. After that horrible frozen December we had, now it's been warm and wet and sloppy for a good week... and most of our snow is GONE! This is a very bad thing, because my nephew from Georgia is coming for a visit later this month and he is absolutely counting on playing in the snow. I don't think mud was what he had in mind. He can see that at home.

Right now, in my yard, there are a few dirty piles of leftover snow (you can tell where the snowmen were because now there is what looks like a snow rabbit where one stood and just a glob of dirty snow where the other was). All around the dirty piles are - no, I'm not kidding - GREEN grass. Green. I know it's just leftover chlorophyll from last summer, but it looks very weird in January, let me tell ya!

Anyway, we are praying for snow for Nephew N's sake.

As my dad put it, "So much for nuclear winter."

Monday, January 02, 2006

Movie Goer's Revenge

Heading off to see the Chroni(what?)cles of Narnia tonight, Barry had a brilliant notion: Popcorn bags activated not on microwaves, but on cellphone transmissions.

It'd be such sweet justice: The more obnoxious movie patrons are yappin on their cellphones, the more your popcorn pops up fluffy and delicious. In fact, if you were sitting right next to a yapper, you could hold your bag up next to the phone and it'd really take off.

UPDATE THE NEXT MORNING: How was the movie? It was great. ("Gweat," said Little Miss A sleepily from her carseat on the way home.) I cried and I cried and I cried. And then I cried again. And then I got teary. And then I cried some. But don't mind me; that's the mark of a good movie, in my opinion. I cried most when the White Witch's filthy minions mocked Aslan and stripped him of his royal mane, when he went willingly to the table rock to be the innocent sacrifice for a sinner. I completely fell apart.

Yes, by all means, go see it.

And remember, He's not a tame Lion after all.