Saturday, April 12, 2008

Hello from April 3rd!

Now, it's April 8th as I write, but April 3rd is my birthday, and as I've been needing a bit of a break from the computer, and also been under the weather, I didn't get around to posting that day, or much at all recently.
April 3rd, I woke up with a sore throat, which has progressed through other symptoms, but not yet disappeared. Gibbie's had it too, so much so that we stayed home from church, and have spent days and days now doing not much other than sitting on the couch, cuddling and holding and reading. Poor Ezra; We've been a boring lot.
I had a very happy birthday anyway. I visited a friend in the morning, one of my favorite things and favorite people. I hadn't advertised the occasion of my birth this year, (other than agonized pre-processing, reconciling my party-dreams with the week's capacity, thanks Wendy!) so I surprised Christy. When she found out, she insisted on giving me a lovely kid's cookbook that I'm so excited about. Then we ate fresh brownies from my favorite recipe.
Coming home, I was tired and sore-throated and about to wilt but dear Wendy had send flowers and a gift! Then I noticed how beautiful the day and, as Ezra was asleep in the car, I set up a little basket bed for him in the corner of the yard so we could stay outside. Then I set up our recently rediscovered hammock in the yard, and Paul came home with a bursting bouquet of flowers also! So I read in that hammock, which I have so long anticipated reading in, while Paul played with the kids. Mom and Dad brought dinner over, which was lovely and a god-send as well, as what with one thing and another this week, we kept doing and doing the dishes, and lo-they never get done! So that was just great to have dinner, and company, and help watching the kids so I could clean the kitchen. (they offered to clean up, but sometimes, it's more of a relief to work than entertain.)
Natalie gave me the most wonderful handmade bag, and there was another handmade gift from my mother (pictures maybe later) and luxe shampoo and conditioner that I love but am too cheap to buy for myself!

My sister is taking Paul and I to Sense and Sensibility, which Cromulent Shakespeare is putting on at the beloved Black Forest Inn, later in April. Hence, Paul and I have abandoned Tess of the D'Ubervilles. We didn't need much of an excuse to leave poor Tess, we're sorry dear girl, for Austin's Elinor and Marianne, to get it all read in time for the show. After that, we just may tackle something great--dare I say it? I've been thirsting for poetry and beauty, and content, and building up in truth. We have a nicely annotated, but not ponderously heavy copy of Paradise Lost on the shelf. Ahh, Milton, I do hope we are up to loving you! More than a year ago, a friend of ours, of the professorly type, strongly recommended we read Paradise Regained. He said that everyone reads Paradise Lost and stops there, and cried it was a pity as the whole reason to read Paradise Lost is to get to Paradise Regained. Kind of like life itself, so there you have it. Milton's stated aim in the first volume being to "justify the ways of God to men," in heroic couplets built as up into a palace of verse, beautiful and true, well, I just don't think we can resist. Any one want to join us?

Back to the birthday. I was also amazed with phone calls from far-away and much-loved friends; one from the Eastern Hemisphere, and one in the Southern. What gifts, friends who care so well!
What's more, who remember one's birthday! I myself am pretty rotten at remembering birthdays, and so am especially grateful to friends who remember mine and friends who tell everyone it is their birthday in case they don't remember. Hmmm... maybe I'll start doing that! Still enjoying my flowers, tulips and daisies--what a lucky one I am!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Jesus Would Ride the Bus

My friend Kevin's recent post about taking the bus provoked me to get out a little bus idea that's been marinating in me for a while. There are many environmental, social, and economical benefits to taking the bus, but I'm not going to talk about them now.

In a conversation with my friend Jeff a few weeks ago, it came up that both of us have had some important seemingly random conversations with folks we've met on the bus. Sometimes they were strangers, and sometimes they were people we already knew. I believe that using relationships and interactions between people is a big way that God works our lives and both Jeff and I have experienced it in a somewhat frequent way on the bus. Why is that?

I think it's a matter of opportunity. If we just go along in our own cars in our American way we never interact with others (at least not on a positive verbal level) unless there's an accident or a breakdown or something. (I know God frequently shows up for folks in that kind of situation, but it's not something anyone wants to have happen often.) On the bus there is plenty of room for us to bump into each other and thus plenty of opportunity for God to show up in those those interactions.

I think of it kind of like what happened when Jesus, after beginning his ministry, returned to his home town. People were skeptical that someone they had always known in their small town was anything more than they thought he was. "...he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief." (Matt 13:58 ESV) Why? I don't think the people of Nazareth asked to be healed but didn't score high enough on the faith-o-meter. I don't think they asked. Most of the probably didn't even come to see him. There wasn't opportunity for Jesus to heal anybody because nobody showed up to be healed!

That's why I think Jesus would ride the bus. Plenty of people. Plenty of opportunity for God to do transforming stuff in their lives.

I bet you'll never see that point listed on a Metro Transit poster!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What to do with Dried up Markers?

Just discovered something fun.
Now, as a rule, we try not to throw anything away. If it can be used, or fixed, or used for something else, I keep it. This often leads to...piles.
But anyway, one thing I generally just toss (when the boys aren't looking--Gibbie, like me and my father before me, will take anything he deems useful right out of the trash) is markers without caps. We have an abundance of markers, and once the cap is gone, even if we may find the cap a few hours or days later, the marker is a goner. It was a pet peeve of mine as a kid, going through the marker box, looking for a good marker of a certain color, and keeping finding dried-up markers, or mashed tips. I remember coloring layers on layers, trying to get a good look, from a dry marker that just didn't have the juice anymore. It occurred to me years later, that I might as well just throw away a dry marker as soon as I find it, as no one will ever want to color with it, and there is really no fixing it.
Well, this morning I found one good use for a dry marker! When watercoloring, as the child's interest in painting begins to wane, hand her a dried-up, capless marker! The moisture on her paper wicks pigment out of the-otherwise infuriating marker. Depending on how wet the paper is, it may also bleed in cool patterns. Fun is had by all.
Now throw away the marker.
**Okay, read the great ideas in the comments!**

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Chain Care

In honor of our recent snow, I'll share how my bicycle chain has made it through the winter. Currently I am riding a bike with multiple gears which tend to get messed-up when covered with slush, dirt, and salt. The two products pictured above may not be the best for the job, but they've gotten me through snow and sub-zero cold. Break cleaner can clean most things mechanical just by spraying it on. I used this to get all of the crud off of my chain and gears. Silicone spray, like WD-40, is both a lube and a water-repellent. The advantage of silicone is that it doesn't tend to attract dirt like WD-40. Clean with one then lube with the other. That's it.

There are better things to use for these purposes, but the winter usefulness of these is that they're spray-on quick. How much time do you want to spend working on your bike outside at zero degrees Fahrenheit?