Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sage and honey


Hot, sweaty days in the kitchen.

I did it as a young woman once or twice and then never again. It was too much work. Plus my mother HAD to can in order to keep us fed, and for me that carried a stigma into adulthood that resulted in me purchasing a lot of commercially processed goods that would have been nutritionally better for us if they'd been homemade.

Well, I never thought I'd be so much my mother's daughter, but I'm coming full circle on this issue.

I caught the canning bug last year when making peach jam from a box of peaches my in-laws gave us.

Right after that I froze umpteen hundred gallon bags of corn from several boxes of freshly-picked ears of corn that my in-laws gave us (Uncle Ralph had a bumper crop).

And with those two days in the kitchen, I was hooked.  So this year I planned it all out. There would be Peaches. There would be Apples (this time, our own!). And there would be frozen corn on the cob.

The sheer goodness of the nutritional value of this annual exercise is primary for us, because our health demands it and because I am now a "locavore" (well, as much as possible).  I know there are no chemicals or unwanted preservatives in my canned product, I know how lovingly it was made, and I know how thoroughly it was processed.

Then there is that feeling of security that you get from rows of stored healthy food on the pantry shelves -- not to mention the pretty display that the jars make.

Then there is the nostalgia of the whole thing -- because my mother, my grandmother and all my great-aunts (and their mothers/grandmothers/great-aunts) canned and preserved the harvest every year. We were a farming family for many generations, after all.

Along the way this year I had the pleasure of teaching some friends to can, and next year we're planning a canning party with all of us together. (Might have to borrow the church kitchen for that one!).

The total product so far has come to:

12 quarts of apple pie filling
15 quarts of apple sauce
10 quarts of peach butter
50 frozen ears of corn on the cob

And one addition that I made just today:

5 1/2 pints of lemon sage honey mustard.

That's right -- homemade mustard.

I hate mustard.

Really, I do.

But this stuff is gorgeous and delicious, and I may never buy commercially processed mustard again. I'm envisioning baked ham this winter, cloaked in a coating of this lovely mustard.

Next up I'm trying some cranberry mustard, which folds brown sugar into its goodness.

Can't wait!

Life is bountiful,

Thursday, August 2, 2012

No more intrusion

Is it me, or is everyone else's Facebook Newsfeed nothing more than a long page of photographs and links every day?

I used to enjoy the photographs, especially the funny ones.  But lately each day has seen at least one photo of physical violence (technically, its aftermath) posted by someone among my friends. These people may be well intentioned, but if they're posting these photos for their friends to see, aren't they preaching to the choir -- because their friends will hold the same values as they?

I'm done.

I wrote this today on my FB status update, and I feel sooooo much better now:
Folks, I can't take any more photos on my FB newsfeed of dogs/cats/children/women/men who have been physically beaten. I just don't want to see it. I know it's out there and I support efforts to stop it. My not wanting to see it graphically front and center on my computer does not mean that I have my head in the sand by any means. (Please note, this is one reason I don't watch most of the movies that come out nor much TV that is out there -- I don't want to see the graphic violence.)

I tend to think that my FB experience should be one of the more pleasurable of my day -- not something I dread because I don't know what pics have been posted. 

So, here is my manifesto: if you want to post those pics on your timeline, I have no quarrel with your right to do so -- but I will unsubscribe from all of your updates so that I don't have to see them. If you post one of those pictures specifically on my own timeline, there is a good chance I will block you entirely.

In other news, we leave on Sunday for our vacation and I Can. Not. Wait.

No cell. No internet. No schedule.

Just God's creation, my two best guys, my dear friends, and  the pups.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Why did you apply for this job???

Outrage has finally set in.

I am appalled by the number of people who really don't want a job. I'm not talking about people who turn down the job offer -- I'm talking about people who get hired, start the job, and then behave with such arrogance and laziness that they cannot remain employed.

In short, people who will not accept responsibility for their own actions.

Some of the best advice ever given to the people of my generation was "keep your head down and your mouth shut."  I've done that with every new job I ever had, coupled with working as hard as I could, doing what I was asked to do and then going beyond that. Gradually I'd earn the trust of the employer and the right to begin speaking my mind, gaining respect through my hard work and eagerness to oblige.

The new business that my husband I started is finding employees who can (technically) drive a truck like nobody's business but who can't manage any other aspect of a job -- basic stuff like showing up on time, reporting hours honestly and accurately, cleaning up the equipment, staying on the job for the full shift, not squandering resources, not doing personal stuff on company time, not making racist or belligerent remarks to other employees. It's incredible to me that there are this many people in the world who seemingly do not know how to work hard or how to get along in a collegial and respectful way.

No wonder the jobless rate is so freakin' high!

I believe there are people in this world who deserve a break. I believe there really are those who deserve a helping hand. But if you come to work, screw up, and get yourself fired -- I believe any government assistance you might be thinking of applying for should be non-existent, bucko. No welfare. No food stamps. You should live with the consequences of your actions. And while you're at it, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and teach yourself how to hold down a job.

I don't know where to lay the blame for this awful development in our culture. The mass media for promoting narcissism in our culture, or the education system that dumbs down the curriculum and refuses to fail those students who pull an "F." What about the parents who identify so strongly with their children that they can't bear for their child to learn consequences, instead rushing in to defend their child's idiocy and poor choices at every turn.

If I got into trouble at school or anywhere else, I was in even more trouble at home. Depend on it. I was held accountable and I learned consequences. My parents did not bail me out.

What has happened to this world?

And how will we ever get it back? How can we ever look forward again to a robust nation, a sense of community, a sense of responsibility for ourselves AND each other?

Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

I think I hear Nero fiddling now ....

- Catherine

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Little Free Library

When I was a very little girl in New Jersey in the 1960s, my mother introduced me to our local public library. 

Built in 1897, the old school house was no longer needed as a school building and had been put to use as the town's Public Library. It was painted barn red and still sported the old bell. Inside it was quiet, peaceful, and, to my young eyes, full to the brim with books. I proudly received my very own library card while in the first grade. I thoroughly enjoyed our bi-weekly visits where I'd pick out another four or five books to take home. A voracious reader, my childhood was heavily influenced by the the wealth of material free for the borrowing. I can honestly say that my love of history was strongly fostered by reading every historical book for young readers that I could get my hands on. By the time I hit the 6th grade, I was well acquainted with the Kings and Queens of England, the Puritans, the Pilgrims, the Revolutionary War soldiers.  All because I could find those books in my public library (see the picture just below).

Recognized for its historic value, this 1897 school house (above) is now part of the Board of Education complex in Wall Township, NJ. Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, the school house served as the township's Public Library.

In February of this year, I read a USA today article about the Little Free Library movement. Little Free Libraries exist all over the world, and are in 40 of the 50 United States. Upon finishing the article, my mind immediately began hatching plans; plans that would have to involve my husband's mad construction skills, since I can barely swing a hammer. 

Two old kitchen cabinets were placed back to back, then roofed and faced. The doors were given plexiglass inserts and painted white. In homage to the public library of my childhood, we painted our Little Free Library red.

Little Free Library #0816 of Chubbuck, Idaho, sits in front of our pasture. (The horses won't mind.)

Here are Hubby and Number 7 putting on the finishing touches after placing the library on its pedestal.

The Little Free Libraries are as much about community as they are about literacy. Our LFL contains books both for children and adults. Earlier this afternoon, we had our first customer -- a car pulled up to the sidewalk and a child got out in the pouring rain. I hope she found something she liked and will come back again. Better yet -- I hope she brings her friends next time.

- Catherine

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Casey at the Bat? Nah!

It's the bottom of the first and the bases are loaded.

At bat: one of the team's worst hitters (if not THE worst).

That would be little ole me.

The pitcher threw a couple of balls and then a couple of strikes. On the third would-be strike, I managed to actually connect with the ball.

Result:  a double.  And an RBI of 3.  To top it all off, I went on to score two runs in the game.

This experience -- for a one-time high school non-athlete with a C average in gym class -- comes courtesy of our church softball league. Because here sportsmanship is everything and winning is a distant second. As I jumped up and down in glee on second base, an opposing teammate (the second base-woman) came over and high-fived me. We both exclaimed with great enthusiasm that it's amazing and wonderful when you can get on base!

Incidentally, my skills as a catcher are improving too, both in fielding and throwing the ball.

So, I have a bonafide statistic of my own now and a couple of successful at-bats under my belt. Yeah!  Who says you can't learn new things in middle age???

P.S. -- Tim took me out for a celebratory dinner. I earned it! Woo hoo!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Of Flesh and Spirit

The medieval looking candelabra was not quite to my taste, but it was funky so we left it where we found it when we moved into this house -- hanging over the fireplace in the family room. We knew nothing of its origin or how it came to be part of the decoration of the previous owner.

A friend who lived in the basement while we did the initial renovating and repainting of the house said that he was sure some kind of spirit was living here. I was skeptical for a number of reasons.

About nine months ago I began having accidental injuries in the kitchen -- all involving deep cuts from sharp blades. I'm kind of klutzy, but this has been extreme. By March I'd sustained five or six serious lacerations.

Sometime last Fall, Tim had the unmistakable physical sensation of something sitting down on the bed beside him.

About a month ago I had a nearly identical experience to Tim's, followed by a skin-crawling chill going through me. I was awake at the time and it could not have been a dream.

Just last Sunday morning a voice as clear as day spoke a very crude question to Tim as he was preparing to get up out of bed. (I won't repeat it here.) Tim was startled, to say the least.

After I got to church, I walked up to a friend and said words I never thought I'd utter -- "some kind of presence is living in our house."

Tonight our pastor and two other friends came over. After prayer together, we began the business of walking through the house and the property, anointing all with oil and praying for God's holy presence to drive out anything that was not of Him. As we started the process in the basement guest room, our pastor noted a distinct feeling of annoyance and anger coming at him from something he couldn't see.

When we entered the family room, I turned on the light switch -- only to have the bulb in the overhead light immediately go out with a loud crack. Turning on other lamps, we began to bless and anoint the family room. The longer we prayed, the more the black, gothic-style candelabra bothered me. It was suspended from chains and looked for all the world like something that would have hung in a dungeon of pain and oppression. Finally I realized it had to leave the house.

Tim didn't hesitate. He took it down and I marched it upstairs and out of the house for good.

The Native American dream-catchers were next. Although we had blessed them to be only decorations, I still felt their presence was a hindrance.

Immediately after that purging, everything felt lighter and cleaner.

We continued on through the rest of the house, singing praises to God when we came to the part of the living room that is home to my musical instruments. By the time we were done, ending up in the very bedroom where the presence had made itself physically real to us, the house was clear.

Our friend, John, did the same process along the perimeter of our four acres and in our RV. He too felt something leave as he walked and blessed the place, anointing the corner posts of the fences and the inside of the RV.

I don't know how to sum this up. I am amazed by what I saw and felt and heard tonight. And grateful -- so very grateful -- that all aspects of our lives are covered by Jesus' sacrificial blood and by God's tremendous grace and mercy.

- Catherine

Friday, May 11, 2012

Week in review

So, the mouse is still at large somewhere in the house. But his days are numbered.

The pasture pipe has been laid, channeling the irrigation water to the sprinkler system. Should be some good greening up back there now.

The lawn mower is fixed and the lawn has been mowed.

My morning fruit/spinach smoothie is providing good all-day energy and no afternoon crash! Also cuts my sugar cravings to nothing, which I very much appreciate!

The Dish TV guy came yesterday and installed High Def receivers.  What a difference!

Tim's been clearing the brush and pruning the bottom branches of the Poplar trees that line the driveway. Everything looks neat and tidy and ready for summer! He also landscaped the front with feather grass and burning bush. Looking forward to watching that grow!

I'm home until June 18 to enjoy all the green growing things and the sunshine on the patio, and I'm mighty happy about that!

I saved the best for last in this post: Tim is feeling better and better each day, now that his Hepatitis C treatment is over and the drugs are slowly exiting his body.

Happy weekend to all!!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Timmy, come home!

First, it was the mouse. Then the lawn mower. Then the irrigation water.

And Tim has been gone for only three days.

It started Sunday morning, about 12 hours after Tim left for business meetings in North Dakota. A small dark creature scuttled across the second basement step as I opened the door to call down to Number 7 and make sure he (Number 7, not the creature) was awake. I peered more closely as the light came on. Yep. A mouse. And he was trapped by me at the top of the steps and what was apparently the great unknown eight steps down. He dithered. He sniffed. He had nowhere to hide, though.

I hate mice and so does Number 7, but we were on our own here with Tim gone.

Brandishing a baseball bat in what was probably a tiny bit of overkill, Number 7 attempted to drive the mouse back up to the top of the stairs. In an effort to keep this process painless, I had opened the door to the garage - directly opposite the basement door where the mouse was bound to appear once he caught sight of the baseball bat. A straight shot for sure.


The mouse prefers indoors, apparently, and instead of making straight for the garage (and freedom), he scurried around the corner, perilously close to my feet, and disappeared behind a radiator in the hallway leading to the kitchen.

I squealed and jumped around like a little girl. Number 7, still holding the baseball bat, appeared in the kitchen doorway and announced that he might be breaking a floor tile in his quest to get the mouse.

I begged him to spare the floor.

The mouse outsmarted us both and managed to disappear somewhere beyond the radiator, into a wall or something. No floor tiles were broken, thankfully. I spent the rest of the day giving the stink eye to anything that seemed to move.

Later that afternoon, Number 7 started his weekly task of mowing the lawn. He got the riding mower out to the front yard to begin, and the drive shaft malfunctioned. The funny part is that he called me and proceeded to explain it all  -- and I barely understood any of the concepts that he was trying to convey. Me: "You realize you are telling all of this to the wrong person? I have no clue how to fix that." Number 7: " Oh, I know. I just wanted to explain why I can't mow the lawn."


Tonight my neighbor called to tell me that the annual summer irrigation water had arrived unexpectedly and that our pasture valve was wide open - thus flooding the pasture and the lawn of at least one other neighbor as the water gushed out. Lovely. It's dark by now. Tim changed a lot of the irrigation system structure last year and I am not sure I know how to turn it off. And did I mention that it's dark? Really dark.

I put in a call to our nephew, who owns 50% of the horse population in our pasture. He agrees to come right over. In the meantime, I go outside with a flashlight and hope I don't encounter any unexpected critters in the long grass. I don't. But I do end up in cold water up to my ankles. Thankfully nephew and great-niece arrive and they are wearing boots. The valve is finally closed and, as I sit here, I hope all is well out there.

Tim, please come home before something else goes wrong!

Saturday, April 28, 2012


April in Pennsylvania.

I've been in the City of Brotherly Love this week for a convention. And that's a whole 'nother blog post.

But back to April in Pennsylvania.

When my mother was alive, this was a favorite time of year for me to visit her for a few days of R&R. Their little house on the side of the mountain would be looking its best in the spring sunshine, with bright yellow daffodils starring the creek bank and gorgeous lilac bushes in full bloom. With the soft air, the morning bird song, and the heady fragrance of the lilacs, it was a rich feast for the senses -- a good time to kick back on her porch, talk about everything and nothing, and simply let the cares of the world go by. I think she took some pride in helping me relax as my schedule got busier and busier. I savored the quietness of her house, the long walks, and the tranquil pace.

The springtime setting brought home to me in later years just how very far she and I had come in our relationship. My once cool and distant mother blossomed and warmed as she grew older, and I remain forever grateful for the redemption of that situation.
I miss her terribly, although I know that the beauty she experiences now in Heaven is so much more than what we shared here in the spring. I look forward to our reunion one day.

May your own relationships be full of grace.

- Catherine

Thursday, April 19, 2012


It was an afternoon from, well, hell.

Drifting away on a sea of nitrous, I squirmed only slightly when the dentist injected the anesthetic in my jaw. "I'll be back in just a few minutes," he promised.

"I have to pee," was my only thought.

Then I turned my attention to the TV over my head. I'd selected HGTV, as is usual when I'm in the dentist's chair. Unfortunately there followed a depressing episode of Property Virgins.

You know, where the would-be first-time homebuyers come away empty handed.

Continuing to drift, I vaguely registered the start of a second episode of Property Virgins.

Then I fell asleep, waking just as the episode ended - once again a loser ending wth the homebuyers coming up empty.


Depressing run of episodes.

The third episode starts and still no sign of my dentist. I feel as though the anesthetic is starting to wear off, and this worries me.

I am a terrible patient and have truly appreciated this dentists's concern and care. (Read: nitrous and hefty anesthetic.)

I've lost track of time, but I know I've been in the chair for a good long while before my dentist returns.

Re-numbing is necessary by now, so more injections follow. I squirm again. These hurt worse than the first batch.

Injections are followed by another voyage on the nitrous ocean.

My dentist, God love him, says little, except for the necessaries, before he starts working. So I don't - at this point on time -  know that what I thought was  a tiny filling falling out of my head, ended up being the tip of a veritable iceberg of an ancient, mercury-laden filling from childhood. It all had to come out and be refilled with a resin substance that is much stronger and not as lethal as the old one.

Two and a half hours later, I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY have to pee. And I am $254.00 poorer. And the new filling is good for the rest of my life.

And my jaw is sore this evening, giving me permission for a glass of wine.

May YOUR dentist appointments be brief and painless.

- Catherine

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Sketches from the Sea - Part 3

Hesitantly, I pushed off the catamaran's stairs and into the blue water off Roatan island. I'd never snorkeled before. Never worn fins on my feet. Never worn a mask that cut off my breathing. Never breathed through a tube in my mouth.

I'd expressed my concerns to one of the guys on the boat crew a few minutes earlier, and he kindly showed me how to tighten my mask and work my snorkel. Then he said, "This is the perfect opportunity for you to learn to snorkel. We'll be out there with you, watching out for you."

I breathed a sigh of relief -- through my snorkel -- and headed forward on the boat with the others.

The water was refreshing in the heat of the tropical sunshine. I swam out a bit from the boat in order to get a feeling for the fins.

And then I put my face in the water.

When snorkeling, the clear colors in the water just explode in your sight, with bright fish swimming below! It's like being on the inside of an aquarium!  I marveled at it all -- at the view, at how fast the fins could propel me, and at the circumstances that found me in this place at this moment.

Tim, meanwhile, was enjoying his first snorkel too, for which I thanked God. I had dithered all winter about whether we should go on the scheduled cruise to the Caribbean or whether we should cancel the booking. Tim's been so sick with the treatment for Hepatitis C, and his energy level, even on a good day, is pretty low.

But as we both swam around in the ocean, I was convinced that we'd done the right thing. Tim was tired at the end of the day, but we'd had such a marvelous experience of God's creation that his spirits were truly lifted high!

And that's how the whole cruise seemed to us. Beautiful sunshine, gorgeous oceans, brilliant blue skies and serene moonlit nights -- a true feast of the natural world that God made for all of us.

Can't believe it's already over, but we look forward eagerly to the next!

- Catherine


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sketches from the sea - part 2

Bonus! An extra day at sea! It was too windy for our first port of call on Monday morning at Half Moon Cayin the Bahamas. The ship is supposed to anchor off shore and send its tender with passengers back and forth between the island and the ship all day.  Not much at this first port - horseback riding, parasailing, and the beach. Tim and I had planned a brief visit to the straw market ashore, and that was going to be all for us.

We arrived and anchored on time at 7:00 a.m., but the high winds were not going to allow safe transport on the tenders. By 8:30 we were steaming away.

I was still sleeping, oblivious to all.

When I woke at 9, I immediately realized that we were, unexpectedly, underway. About an hour later a letter of explanation was delivered to all staterooms - for people like me who slept through the announcements. The Captain had decided to set a slow course for our next port of call - Wednesday in Grand Cayman, thus we would be at sea for two days instead of one.


For Tim and me, this cruise is more about the cruise and not so much about the ports of call. We were eager to experience the relaxation of life on board. It's one of the reasons we splurged on a balcony stateroom!

So ... Greetings from out stateroom's private verandah, where Tim is slumbering in a chair and I'm about to join him. Ah, life at sea ...

- Catherine

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sketches from the sea - Part 1

"Nothing beats this view!" I said as I settled onto a deck chair.

It was dark by now and we'd finished strolling and exploring the cruise ship on our first evening at sea. Settling on the Lido Deck's fantail in the dark, my husband had remarked that the ship's "party lights" were not on, which he thought unusual since we could see the lights of other ships blazing away on the inky horizon.

But a second later I made my announcement as I gazed out over the railing at the dramatic mix of clouds and clear night sky. We would never have seen this if the party lights had been on: Out before us lay the brilliant Evening Star (Venus). Directly below the Evening Star, about halfway to the horizon in a straight vertical alignment, was a sliver of the waning moon, peeking out from behind clouds that glowed with dreamy, lunar light.

You just have to thank the Creator for the transcendent beauty of the universe and for these moments to enjoy it.

- Catherine

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Update

The update is this: I'm going to take a break from blogging for a little bit. Actually, since I have already been taking a break, this is just an update. That I'm taking a break. Now. For a little bit.

There are seasons of life that are so complicated that your brain needs space to process. That's where I am right now. No, I'm not in any kind of trouble. In fact, life is very sweet. But there is so much going on around me at the moment that it's hard to think it through. Harder still to find something to blog about.

Hence, the break.

I'll be back, I'm sure. Maybe sooner rather than later!

- Catherine

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Dear Reader, here we are again. Note that I am almost incapable these days of thinking up a blog post on my own and am relying heavily on the weekly Hodgepodge.  Sad.  But since I know you are just chomping at the bit to read my weekly answers, let us delay no longer.  Away we go!

1. A new Miss America was crowned on Saturday night-did you watch? If you were a contestant what would your talent be?  I haven't watched Miss America since, like, 1976 I think.  If I were in the contest, though, I guess I'd be singing. (It certainly wouldn't be baton twirling  -- someone would get hurt if I did that.)

2. Do you have houseplants? Real or fake?  Generally, houseplants come to my house to die. Seriously. They have been condemned to death by some obscure plant jury and they end up at my house. The problem is that I've never mastered the art of watering correctly for the conditions, no matter how many methods I've tried (and I've tried a LOT). But hope springs eternal. So I do have a couple of herbs growing on my kitchen windowsill this winter. So far so good, only because they are in front of me every day, affording me the opportunity to save them from fatal dehydration in the nick of time.

3. When you were in school did you speak up or were you more of the hide your face, avoid eye contact, and pray the teacher didn't call on you type of student? I spoke up if I was sure of the answer and prayed not to be called on when I didn't.

4. Next Monday marks the Chinese New Year...what do you order when someone suggests Chinese food? Hmmm .....  BBQ pork and seeds is pretty good, as is General Tso's chicken. Our town has a restaurant that serves Mongolian Barbecue, and we go there most often for Chinese food -- that means I get to put together my own concoction and have it cooked for me!

5. How would you define a miracle? What would it take for you to consider something a miracle? A miracle can be something that defies reason. It can also be something that happens despite overwhelming odds. Most of the miracles in my life tend to be of the latter variety -- but they are no less miracles.

6. What's your favorite Disney song? If you're stuck you'll find a list here. Oh. My. Gosh.  Just one??? I love so many of them. "When You Wish Upon a Star" is a favorite for it's melancholy yet hopeful aspect (Rosemary Clooney did a great version back in the day). I also love the joy and celebration of "That's How You Know" (from Enchanted). And the sheer fun of "Les Poissons" (from the Little Mermaid).

7. I should have prayed more yesterday. Always!

8. Insert your own random thought here: Randomly speaking,  I have new office furniture that is making me very happy. I don't know why furniture should affect my mental well-being, but it does. For the last week now I've been getting all kinds of work done. Of course, it might help that I now have a setup where, truly, there is a place for everything. Which means my brain can stop the constant playing of the game "Concentration" and focus on the work itself!

Thanks again to Joyce for this week's questions! If you want to play along, answer the questions on your own blog and link up at Joyce's!

- Catherine

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Frustration

Today has been one technology problem after another and I am beyond frustrated.

First there was my fax machine. This machine is actually a multi-tasking monolith -- it scans! it copies! it sends faxes! it receives faxes! 

Yeah, those last two functions? They've been inexplicably MIA for a few days and this was the first opportunity for me to tackle the problem.

To do so, I was forced to enter the maze of functions of the multi-function machine that has only the tiniest LED read-out area on the front to guide you. Argh! 

Menu -- General setup --- down arrow through the choices -- nope not there! 
Menu --  down arrow -- Fax -- down arrow through the choices -- nope not there either! 
Menu -- down arrow -- Initial setup -- down arrow through the choices -- ah ha! 

Change one setting. 


After doing a factory re-set and starting all over again, I finally called the phone company to see if there was trouble on the phone line. I had to be sure -- because the fax machine was telling me it was a "Comm. Error" in the telephone line. But since I spoke to the phone company on said telephone line, I was pretty sure it was okay. And it was. 

Dead end.

Next I consulted the multi-tasking monlith's website in hopes of support.

Right?  Not.

Finally mentioned to my hubby what was going on and he recalled that he has this deely-bobber thingy that you attach to the fax machine to make it once again become fond of the designated telephone line with which it must work.

I liked the sound of the "fond of" part and became hopeful again.

And after setting it up tonight with the deely-bobber thingy, all is well. Just like that. Who knew?

One problem down.

Other problem is my email software made by someone very evil at Microsoft. I hate you, whomever you are. In concert with some other evil person at Microsoft who invented the Virtual Private Network, which moves at the speed of, oh, molasses uphill in Maine in January. 

My local file folders were stuffed to the gills and even after eliminating a lot of old stuff, they still wouldn't take anything new transferred from my inbox.


Have. To. Transfer. My. Thousands. Of. Archived. email. Messages. To. My. Employer's. Servers. Utilizing. The. Virtual. Private. Network.

Yeah, that fast. I've been at it all day, trying to force a 10-pound bag of potatoes through a cocktail straw. Even working in small, small, teeny-tiny batches, half the time the software gets so hung up that it can't continue doing anything and shuts itself down.

Curses on you Microsoft!!

There is a bottle of wine in the kitchen with my name on it. And I am very glad it's a 3-day weekend! Because maybe by Tuesday my email will have been successfully archived through the cocktail straw.

- Catherine

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Ah the glorious randomness of the Wednesday Hodgepodge!  

And away we go .....

1. Lake Superior University has once again published a list of words/phrases they think should be banished from the Queen's English in 2012-

amazing, baby bump, shared sacrifice, occupy, blowback, man cave, the new normal, pet parent, win the future, trickeration, ginormous, and thank you in advance.

Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Go here to read more about how the words are chosen.

I hate the phrase "baby bump" with a passion. It takes pregnancy, which is a sacred thing for a woman and her body, down to the level of a fashion accessory. Maybe if the press didn't glamorize it as a fashion accessory, we'd have fewer unwed, teen mothers who are in no way ready to make a lifetime commitment to raising a child? Just a thought ....

2. Are you easily embarrassed?   I used to be, but as I get older and more confident with who God is and the kind of person He would have me to be, I am less easily embarrassed.

3. What is your go-to snack? A piece of chocolate, sad to say. And my hips reflect that. Also sad to say.

4. Have you ever been to Washington D.C.? If not do you have any desire to go? What site/attraction would you most want to see in that city? If you have been, what's your favorite site/attraction?  I love Washington DC -- it's my favorite city on the East Coast. I have a lot of favorites in that city, but I'll mention one that is not seen by too many folks -- the National Building Museum. The space is awe-inspiring and the history of the building is fascinating! Love it!

5. sit ups-planks-lunges-squats...which do you hate the least? I hate all of them, but I think I hate sit-ups the least.

6. What's a small act of kindness you were shown that you've never forgotten? There are many. But I think the one I'll mention here took place the day after my mother died. Her dear friend called me and asked -- persuaded -- me to drive out to her place so I wouldn't be alone on the night between Mom's passing and the funeral. She fed me homemade chicken soup and rolls, and let me talk through some grief and anger. She was just lovely and I was very, very comforted.

7. Have you ever been a blood donor? Yes. My employer regularly participates in the local blood drives and we were always allowed time to go over and donate. Only once did I have break-through bleeding after the donation -- fortunately I was still in the donation room and they clamped it down well right away (I felt fine -- my arm was just bleeding like crazy for a moment or so).

8. Insert your own random thought here. Randomly speaking, I bless the day I decided to hire someone to help me clean the house each week. I just can't keep up with the house and a full-time job and my aunt and my sick hubby. Thank you, God, for bringing me Erin!!!

Many thanks to Joyce over at From This Side of the Pond.  If you want to play along, use the link on the badge at the top of this post!

- Catherine

Monday, January 9, 2012

Santa Claus, Tim Tebow and God

"When you stop believing in Santa Claus, then you find Grace."

That was the last sentence featured in the very last dream that I had last night as I was sleeping.

I went to bed after watching the stunning upset victory of the Denver Broncos over the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime. Some game! And you can't mention a Broncos game without mentioning their controversial quarterback, Tim Tebow.

The man American society and sports commentators love to hate.

It is astonishing how much vitriol comes Tebow's way these days.

It's true that Tebow is not a great technical quarterback, as NFL quarterbacks go. But he really does inspire his team with his upbeat, can-do attitude and he does pull out enough wins to get the job done, if not elegantly then at least satisfactorily. He's also constantly striving to improve. Non-expert that I am, even I can see that he played better yesterday as a passing quarterback than I've seen him play before.

The controversy, of course, is that he's vocal and demonstrative about his faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. From all I've read and seen, he walks closely with his God all day long every day. The press makes much of it, thus it is seen by millions of folks all over the country.

And this leads me to the concern that people who do not know God will come to believe that either God is shining favor on the Broncos because of the prayers of Tim Tebow, or that Tebow is a fraud because he's not a perfect person, or that he is a hypocrite because his prayers must be meaningless if the Broncos lose.

For the record, I've read some about Tebow and watched him closely on the field. I may be wrong, but I don't think for one moment that his prayers are for the Divine Intervention of God in a football game. I think he thanks God at each moment for the pleasure and privilege given him on this earth -- to be doing something that he truly loves in a venue that allows him to minister to others in a variety of ways.

No, I'm sure he's not a saint. But he is an excellent role model for young people and, comes to that, for our entire American culture in some very important ways. For example, you never see Tebow dancing and gloating with glee on the field as you see so many, many, MANY other NFL players doing (it's one of my pet peeves, can you tell?).  Tebow's conduct on the field is very sportsmanlike. Enthusiasm for the game and his team, yes. Taunting and gloating over your opponent, no.

And now, back to that opening sentence.

"Santa Claus" as a concept means that gifts are given to deserving (read: good) people.

But God gives gifts that are not based on whether we are good or bad. God brings to each of us Grace: the absolute gift of all time that allows every last one of us to be reconciled fully with Him. And along the way, God also blesses those who accept that Grace. Generally not with football victories, although if there is a deeper purpose, He could do just that. (And that's a whole 'nother blog post, dear reader.)

He blesses us with meaningful gifts and pleasures and joys. The kind you can't get from Santa Claus. Not always what we request. Not always evident at first as a gift. The kind of gifts that, in a myriad of ways, shine a spotlight on just how much we have been given by the God who created us, who redeemed us, and who longs for our minute-by-minute relationship with Him (football minutes or conventional minutes -- you choose).

Tim Tebow knows Grace. He knows football careers are fleeting and that God has brought him to this moment for His divine purposes. Tebow passed up the "Santa Claus" concept a long time ago. And when he's "Tebowing" he's not just thanking God for another completed pass, another touchdown, or another victory.

He's thanking God for another opportunity to show the world who God really is.

- Catherine

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Brain Dump

Tim is home and we are all breathing easier.

I'm happy to be eating breakfast at home and not at the hospital.

I cleaned my office yesterday and today it is still clean. If you know me, then you know this is an accomplishment.

Charley is a 97-pound snuggle puppy who needs to be on someone's lap each evening. This is funny and painful at the same time, depending on how he flops down on you.

I put away the Christmas tree on Wednesday and then immediately rearranged the living room furniture. This will lead to new curtains in the living room bay window and a new coffee table (Charley having substantially chewed off the corner of the table last year while he was still teething).

My eldest granddaughter turns 12 today. Wow! She and her baby sister (age one month) are the bookends of our 13 grandchildren.

Although Tim came home deathly ill, we enjoyed our days in San Antonio with the family last week. I think all of us who were there had a grand time staying together as a family and seeing a beautiful part of the country! Those who drove through Roswell on the way down from Idaho assure me that they didn't see any aliens (Tim and I had flown to Texas rather than drive).

Hank Williams Jr. is being forced by Charley to run around outside a bit more. Since Hank is overweight, I think this is a Good Thing. Hank does not agree.

I love my Acer Iconia Tablet so much that I bought one for Tim for Christmas. He is still learning how to use it and grumbling the while. Sometimes it's good to be dragged into the next century, honey.

I believe that's all for today.

Have a great weekend, one and all!

- Catherine

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge

And away we go!

1. What are three words you would use to describe your 2011?  Lotsa health problems. (Lotsa can be one word if I want it to.) Tim had surgery, began treatment for Hepatitis C, and ended the year in the hospital in order to clear up complications from both the Hep C treatment and another virus that came on at the same time. I had a bowel obstruction and emergency surgery to take care of it. I also got my first dental crown. That's more than enough for one year, I think.

2. Do you like shrimp? What's your favorite way to have it prepared?  I have always loved shrimp. My dad worked in a boat yard when we were little, and he knew the guys down at the docks, so periodically he would bring home some shrimp -- we learned to love it early on. My current favorite is to prepare it with a light sauce and serve it with leeks and polenta.

3. Is your house de-Christmased? If so when did you tackle that job? If not, when will the decorations come down?  As of the day I am writing this (Tuesday), the house is not yet de-Christmased. A little thing called "my husband's hospitalization on New Year's Eve" got in the way. But he's on the mend and so the Christmas decorations will be going downstairs. I'm pretty sure we'll have them all down before the next National Holiday anyway -- you know, the Super Bowl!

4. Do you like to watch scary movies? No. I have a visceral reaction to images that evoke anxiety and fear, and I hate it. I also have nightmares. So I don't watch scary movies. Ever.

5. Ice skating~sledding~skiing~snowboarding~of the four listed which wintertime activity do you most enjoy? Hmmm ... I used to love ice skating, but I'm pretty sure my legs and ankles would protest were I to try it now. Plus my balance has deteriorated over the years. Snowboarding? Never tried it and never will. Last week my youngest got thrown 25 feet and dented his helmet (I wasn't there and am taking his word for the 25 feet).  Skiing? Love cross country -- great exercise -- and hate downhill. Sledding? Yep -- I still love that! Especially with small children!

6. Did you have a childhood hideout? Describe it. Oh my gosh, what memories just came flooding back to me. I'd forgotten about it, but we did indeed have something that we called The Hideout. It was behind our garage, which had a high fence extending off the back in order to keep the 'back of the garage' stuff out of sight from anyone in the yard. Right behind that fence was The Hideout, and if I recall correctly, there was an abandoned dog house set back there that we always climbed onto (not in). By standing on top of the doghouse, we could see up over the fence into the yard. Heady stuff for a 4-year old!

7. What's a place or space that motivates you?  Craft stores and office supply stores are big motivators. They shouldn't be, because that means money is being motivated out of my wallet. But there it is.

8. Insert your own random thought here.Randomly speaking, I hope it will be many, many moons before I have to see the inside of a hospital again. And next time I'll drive the extra half hour to go to the non-profit facility in the next town. Our newly made-over "for profit" local hospital leaves a lot to be desired. $300.00 for one stinkin' IV bag of fluids!!!

Thanks again to Joyce for this week's questions! If you want to play, answer the questions on your own blog and then go on over to Joyce's to link up with everyone else. Don't forget to read a few while there too!

- Catherine