Thursday, September 30, 2010

Welcome to the Farm

Here are photos of the farm and the yard around it.  What a great time of year to be here!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Essay on Smells

We came across this entry in Tom's mom's journal, dated October 1981.

I waded through a shoulder-high tangle of goldenrod to the old apple tree.  I could see the limb of bright red apples from the road, so I wondered if they were ripe and worth picking (seeing it was a very poor apple year).

As I stopped under the branch of  apples (Northern Spy) a veritable wave of fragrance rolled down over me.  The frangrance of ripe apples!  It was as if a large bubble of fragrance had been surrounding the cluster of apples and suddenly burst over me when I stepped under it.  Here was one of the evidences my mother had impressed upon me as a child, that farm folk had riches the poor city dweller seldom ever glimpsed.

This apple perfume is one of several distinctive and elusive olfactory delights I've always enjoyed.  Another is the rich smell of new leather shoes when you first open the box.  Yet another -- the whiff you can get from a freshly sharpened cedar pencil point.  Like the others, it is gone in seconds so you must savor them all at the optimum instant.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Through the Years

One of my clearest memories of my mother-in-law, Lynda, is seeing her write in her diary.  She was either writing about her day or catching up on the last week -- creating a record of her life and family.  Though we never read them, she was anxious to have us do so.  Yesterday we spent some time reading a few entries.

She started journaling early -- the first book we found started on New Year's Eve, 1929, when she was 11 years old!  Here's what she said: Wed, cloudy in a.m. fair in p.m.  I skated down towards Prestons.  The mail man came along.  I took a hold of the back of his little sleigh and rode along on my skates.  Had a nice time.

Her journals span her lifetime.  She didn't write every day -- there are many gaps -- but they talk of the joys and sorrows of life (she had four children and lost her own mom when she was just 21), cross-country moves, her faith in Christ.  Tom has spoken often of going fishing in High Hume in the heart of British Columbia.  Mom's journal entries for June 22-28 and again August 9-13, 1980, tell of those two trips!  On June 24 she says: This morning about 9:30, after Harold and Tom had been gone over an hour fishing, I stepped out on the porch -- looked over at the next cabin -- 100 feet away or more, and there by the woodpile stood a huge brown bear!  He was sniffing about -- went toward that cabin.  Then some one slammed a door, he began getting nervous -- another bang from one of their noisy screen doors and off he trotted or loped into the woods.  I went over to the cabin and seeing the lady outside, told her about it and before long a flock of children gathered to hear all about it.

We discovered journals and ledgers from her dad as well.  Grampa Mills was a chicken farmer who also sold maple syrup, apples, and other products from the farm.  In 1914 his ledger records that they bought two yards of cloth for 50 cents, drugs at Cole's for 30 cents and paid $1.60 for horse shoeing.  His biggest expense in February seems to have been feed at the local mill -- $15.00.  He sold his eggs for about 20 cents a dozen.

Tom's folks were married in October of 1938.  Their ledger of accounts dated January, 1939 record the following prices: Corn flakes, 7 cents; 5 pounds brown sugar, 28 cents; half-pound of cheese, 13 cents; wind shield wiper, 35 cents; and a loaf of bread, 8 cents.  They paid 25 cents for Listerine.  I guess Dad thought that was too much because he added this note -- (a swindle) -- to his ledger.  As a carpenter making $25-30 a week, that would be a lot of money.

Monday, September 27, 2010


It's already early afternoon in Western New York.  That's where Tom and I are just now!  We got up at 2:00 yesterday morning to make our early morning plane and arrived at the farm at 8:00 last evening.  Several long, bright clouds radiated out from the moon, just a couple of days from full, like a toddler's drawing of the sun.  Jupiter shown intensely in the east and the big and little dippers stood out prominently in the night sky.  Standing in the road in front of the house, the croaking of frogs in the pond was the only sound we heard.  It is the perfect place to experience some rest and renewal, exactly why we came.

This is where we lived for three years when our boys were small, where Tom's parents retired, indeed, where they grew up.  It has been the destination of many of our family vacations over the years.  When we saw a break in our schedule, we hopped a plane.

So what are we going to do?  No really big plans, just enjoy the quiet, explore the woods, see some stunning scenery (plenty of that around, and the leave are starting to turn), catch up with a few friends.  Today we're at Tom's brother's house, glad for a chance to use the computer.  Then we'll pick up some supplies.  We'll be looking for produce stands and stop by the Amish store just a few miles from home for staples and eggs, maybe even duck eggs.  We brought a couple of movies and a book of simple piano arrangements.  And the house itself is full of family history, from the many pieces of furniture, clocks and gadgets that Tom's dad made to the collections of paintings that each family member created, photos, letters, books and nicknacks that line the walls.

I'll post from time to time (not sure how often we'll get to Danny's to use the computer) and let you know what's happening, maybe post a few photos.  Whatever your week holds, might you, too, experience the rest and renewal that your soul needs.  (I'm just guessing, but I bet you could use it.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Tug at my Heart

Our People magazine came in the mail the other day, not the one on the newsstands but our denomination's mission magazine.  I'm struggling over an article by Dr Art Brown, the director of missions.   At a meeting for workers in creative access countries, he asked those present how the church can better support them as they follow Jesus.  Dr Brown shares that their second and third desires for the church's support were counseling and support (#3) and relationship, visiting and understand (#2).  Their highest rank request was "that the church would contribute prayer and fasting."

And that's what I'm struggling with.  Can I offer these brothers and sisters of mine, whose names I don't even know and who are serving Christ in unnamed countries, the support they desire by coming to God for them in prayer?  Do I care enough about those in the world who don't know Jesus that I would approach the Lord on their behalf, even fasting for them?

I this something God would have me do?

Article: "Top Ranked" by Dr Art Brown, Free Methodist World Missions People, October-December 2010, page 2.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Prayer Trail

Our church is situated on several acres, much of it still wooded.  Full of old growth timber, nursery stumps, ferns and other native Northwest foliage, it is a lovely woodland.  Pastor Pat says that sometimes early on a Sunday morning, when he is arriving at the church to prepare for the day, he has seen a doe and two fawns in the woods.

Several months ago a group of parishioners set out a rustic prayer trail through the woods.  Markers along the trail bear the words of the Lord's Prayer.  Stones are piled on one of the signs, evidence that people are using it.  Indeed, on Sunday, when Tom and I were on the trail with our camera, there were several others walking it too.

Here are some photos taken that day.

Trail Head

Could it be the skeleton of Jonah's big fish?

Evidence of long ago logging

Yes, Lord.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

But God!

Have you ever noticed the But God passages of the Bible?  In Genesis we read about Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his brothers, accused of trying to take advantage of his boss' wife, and thrown into prison.  Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined.  But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden (39:20-21).  Joseph was put in charge of the prison so that the warden didn't have to worry about anything, because the Lord was with him.

Here are nine more But God passages.  Be encouraged, whatever you are facing today.  Life can be full of questions, difficulties, confusion, broken relationships, financial problems, hardship -- but God, in His mercy, can be trusted with them all.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:20).

Then Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (Genesis 50:24).

When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead... (Acts 13:29-30).

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:7-8).

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will (Romans 8:26-27).

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him (1 Corinthians 1:27-29).

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons (Galatians 4:4-5).

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins... But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:1,4-5).

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:3-7).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Great Local Produce

I was back in the Stilly Valley yesterday, near where we were Sunday when I took the picture of the dark sky, to pick up produce at a local farm.  Doug and Char Byden purchased a nearly-20-acre farm in 2003 and have been developing a CSA and a roadside produce stand.  They call themselves Freshly Doug Vegetables!  They are refurbishing their barn, which is on the National Barn Registry, as they garden and tend fruit trees and a few animals.

My friend Terri gave me a couple of gift certificates for veggies.  Dinner after our first visit (all but the tomatoes) was a feast that came from Char's garden.

Yesterday Terri and I both came home loaded down with wonderful veggies.  Beets, carrots, kale, cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers -- more than we can eat in a week.  But that won't stop us from trying!

Here are the ingredients that we will use to make veggie drinks -- kale, beets, carrot and broccoli.  We usually add an apple, a cup or two of apple juice, flax seeds. some honey, and ice, whiz it in the VitaMix and make healthy, hearty drinks.

I'll keep in touch with Char through her blog and let you know next summer as she starts to have items for sale.  I know you'll want to meet her and try some of their Freshly Doug Vegetables!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Drive

Here are some photos from around the neighborhood that I took on the way home from church yesterday.  I've experimented with special effects on some of them and thought you might enjoy seeing the results.

This first one was taken on the Prayer Walk at our church, a trail through the woods which, right now, is alive with mushrooms.

We passed these horses and went back to take photos.  I love the white stripe down this guy's face.

We stopped by our friends' house and couldn't resist photographing their critters.  They reminded me of bullies taunting the kids on the other side of the fence.

This stump was also in the Prayer Walk.  This picture reminded me of my grampa, who spent most of his life as a lumberjack.  I used an antique effect as well as one that softened the edges because it seemed like it captured his life and times.  This is my favorite photo of the bunch. 

The clouds were dramatic, even spectacular, yesterday.  Here's a picture that we got along Norman Road in the Stillaguamish River flats a mile or so from home, and how it looked after we cropped it and cleaned it up, then one more adding a special effect to the cleaned up version.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Enjoy a Saturday Morning Cartoon

(Do you suppose Felix was the precursor to McGyver?)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Happy Blogiversary!

Today is the first anniversary of my blog.  Thanks for being a part of this endeavor as readers and occasional commenters.  I'm having a great time and hope you are too.

Maybe you've wondered where the name came from, Three Minutes to Nine.  Well, the morning I sat at the dining room table waiting my turn on the computer, I got this overwhelming sense that I needed to start a blog.  The idea had been on the back burner of my mind for months, but I seldom stirred the pot and usually even forgot the stove was turned on.  It must have been the movie Julie and Julia that turned up the heat for me.  Anyway, Tom had gone to work, Samuel had gone to school, Tommy was typing away, and I was becoming worked up.  "Tommy, please hurry!  Get off the computer; I have to start a blog today!!"  I didn't say it, but it's what filled my mind.

When it was finally my turn, I went to and within about 15 minutes I had a blog, everything, that is, except for a name.  All the great names I could think of were already taken, or too hard to spell (such as Chrysanthemum).  What could I call it?  "Well, when do you want to post?" I asked myself.  "Every day by 9:00," I quickly responded.  (That's not what I expected to hear!)

Because I usually run late, I thought I should give myself a little extra challenge, so I typed in "Three Minutes to Nine" to see if it was already taken.  Voila!  It was available.  I finally had a blog name.

Why not grab a cup of coffee and take a few minutes to browse through some of the posts of the past year.  If you see something you'd like to share with a friend, feel free.

Uh, oh, it's four minutes to nine.  I'd better quit.  See you tomorrow!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hidden in Plain Sight

I make it a habit not to endorse books or movies that I have not gotten all the way through.  On more than one occasion I have encounterd a surprise that made me grateful for that policy.  But today I am going to suspend that rule.

Lately I have been reading Hidden in Plain Sight: The Secret of More by Mark Buchanan.  He's a pastor on Vancouver Island with a fresh, compelling writing style and a deep understanding of the human soul.  I am only in the early chapters, yet I have been drawn in to the desire for more of God, more of godliness throughout the pages I've read.

Based on 2 Peter 1:1-9, where Peter talks about seven virtues that we are to add to our faith, Buchanan's premise is that if we add these virtues to our own lives we will experience the "more" that we long for in our lives as followers of Christ.

In his introduction Buchanan describes a spelunking trip with his daughter's fourth grade class, where he slithered through cracks in huge rocks so that he could explore a cave in spite of his own claustrophobia, only to find unspeakable wonders inside the cave. Then he says:

  This is a book about practicing virtue, which at first may seem -- it did to me -- a descent into something narrow and dark and enclosing, a world without wind, without open spaces where weather dances its varied moods.  The word virtue almost made me claustrophobic.  By temperament and against better instinct, I still have moments where I think the good life is seeking my own pleasure at my own convenience, and so the very thought of practicing virtue chafed me.  I pictured Victorian women bound in corsets.  I pictured Mormon boys in starched white shirts and crisp ties, earnestly soliciting at my door.  I pictured primness and stiffness and pursed lips and arched eyebrows.
   I never imagined life to the full.
   But that's what I'm discovering: a world vast and beautiful and holy -- that all along has been hidden in plain sight.
   Why don't you come in here with me, and see for yourself?

I'm going in.  Anyone joining me?

P.S. In case you're interested, I see that at the moment Amazon has several used copies of the book available for $.01 each, with a $3.99 shipping charge.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back to School?

In the year 2000, there were 76.6 million students in the United States, according to the US Census.  That's one-fourth of our nation's population ages three and above, and includes all students from pre-school through graduate school.

Not everyone in the world, however, is so privileged.  The September 4 edition of World Vision Report stated that worldwide there are over 100,000,000 school-aged children who are not enrolled in school.  They are kept from school for many reasons. Here are a few:  Education is not always free, and parents can't afford the cost.  If the kids are kept home they can help with the family business and bring in a little money.  The parents may be uneducated and close-minded or even afraid of public schools.  No schools exist in their area.  Some are homeless, others are orphaned and are raising younger siblings. Health and hygiene issues may impact their lives too.  In Kenya and South Africa girls are gaining access to sanitary pads, making it possible for them to go to school without shame.

We take our education for granted.  What can we in America do to make it possible for boys and girls around the world to go to school?  In an earlier post I mentioned International Child Care Ministries through whom we sponsor a couple of children.  ICCM is changing lives around the world as, for $21 a month, sponsors provide an education and nutrition for kids who would otherwise go without.

That's just one way you can get involved.  There are hundreds of other opportunities.  What will you choose to do?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Alaska Travel Tales

My Alaska brothers travel a lot -- both of them -- around the state and around the country.  Tim is the big winner this summer, with at least three trips to Seattle and four long distance camping trips.

Below are photos from Tim's most recent trip and his note accompanying the pictures.  Ted responds with a memory of his own.

Tim's note:
I went camping last weekend to the town of McGrath and the Kinicott Mine about seven hours from here.  For those that have been there, you go to Glennallen, then take a right, go a ways, take a left on the Edgerton Hwy and drive practically to Canada and at roads end, there you are.  I thought I would share a few pictures.
PS It's fall here.

Ted's reply:
Thanks for the pictures. September and April are my faviorite times to travel in Alaska. September because of the incredible fall colors and April because the animals think it's spring.
Ok, winter is fun too because the air is so thin and pure, albiet kind of treacherous. I remember one quartet trip [Ted used to sing with a quartet from church] from Glennallen to Juneau [669 miles] in a 12 passenger van with no heater. It was 19 below in Tok. We all sat bundled in sleeping bags and switched drivers every half hour. The heater blew just enough to have about a two foot circle of visibility over the steering wheel. What a great trip! Too bad the donuts were frozen to the floor. 

(Bet I know which one of my brothers you'd rather travel with!)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Music of the Early Christian Church

On Haven Today this morning I learned about the Odes of Solomon, the hymns of the early Christian church.  Discovered in 1909, they were written by the Odist, in the tradition of Solomon, and were the songs of worship and praise used when followers of Jesus gathered.  Based on the 42 Odes, John Andrew Shriener has recently set the Odes to music for believers today.  I'm including a video of Ode 3, sung by Lily Cruz, who sings in both English and Spanish and is backed up by an English choir.  The beautiful song brings together believers across cultures as well as centuries.

You can learn more about the Odes Project here, including the words to the Odes, as translated by James H Charlesworth of Princeton University.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering September 11

It was the 4th of July, 1969, and I should have been helping Mom get ready for the family celebration we would have later that day.  Instead I was in my room, kneeling by the side of my bed, the June 27 issue of Life Magazine open before me.  Staring at me from its pages were the photos of 242 American military men who had lost their lives in just one week, casualties of the Vietnam War. 

Tears streamed down my face as, one by one, I read the names and hometowns of the fallen, and studied their pictures.  I mourned the lost that I had never known, and cried for their families.

How do you cope with tragedy of mammoth proportion?  You give it a face, a name, an address.  You choose a person, a few people, and grieve their passing, and you allow them to represent the multitude of stories you do not know.

Isn't that what we all did on September 11, 2001?  In the midst of something so horrendous, we listened to the stories of courage, of survival, of loss, and sought healing for ourselves as well as for them.

As we move farther from that terrible day, we are prone to forget the stories, to focus on the "bigger picture" and not on the individuals.  We distance ourselves from the pain of that days.  We say we won't forget, but we do.

If you are willing to remember, to risk being torn open again a bit, I invite you to go to the September 11 page on StoryCorps's website.  There you will find thirty short audio clips (most under two minutes) about loved ones lost at the towers, relief workers sharing their experience, and survivors telling their stories.

Or find a copy of The Guys, a movie starring Sigourney Weaver as a writer who helps a NYFD captain write the eulogies of his fallen comrades.  In the depth of his fresh wounds, healing begins as he tells the stories of those he has lost.  It's one of my favorite movies, and I've written about it here.

God, who saw the whole thing, will walk with us through the grief.  As Rev. Wintley Phipps prayed during those first awful days, "Help us to remember that in our sorrow we do not weep alone. You weep with us."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Random Thoughts about Colorado Trip

1. I was in watermelon country.  I didn't want to leave without some of their local speciality, but it's a bit impractical to purchase a whole watermelon when you're driving a rental car and sleeping in a hotel.  So as I was leaving town I stopped at a produce stand and found a quart container filled with watermelon chunks.  I stuffed myself on Tuesday night and finished it up for breakfast on Wednesday.  Sweet and delicious!

2. The creamed honey for sale at the produce stand sure looked good, and I had it in my hand to buy and bring home.  Oh, wait, I've only got a carry-on.  Reluctantly I put the honey back on the shelf.

3. Samuel was hoping for a tour of Focus on the Family.  Too bad we were in town on Labor Day and the visitor center was closed.

4. The speed limit on the Colorado roads I traveled changed with lightning speed.  At one point the sign said 35.  I began to slow, but before I could get to 35, the speed limit had changed again to 65!

5. Along SR 71, the road I took through the ranch land to the airport, there were swinging gates that can be closed in the winter's harsh weather.  Maybe that's a common sight for others, but it was new for me.

6. I passed over several bridges that traversed bright green grass where you would see rushing rivers in the winter.

7. Travel tip -- Maybe you've already figured this out, but you are allowed ONE quart-size zip-lock bag for ALL of your liquids, gels, and aerosols.  And you've got to be able to zip the bag.  This will save you time in security.

8. Next  time I go to  Colorado I want to go see the cliff dwellings in Manitou Springs, not too far from the Garden of the Gods.  I was there nearly twenty-five years ago.  Maybe they've redecorated in the meantime.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Colorado Trip

It was a quick trip to Colorado these past few days.  Samuel was a great traveling partner, charming the woman he sat beside on the plane, navigating us through the streets of Denver in search of a Whole Foods Market for lunch on Monday, exploring the Garden of the Gods and getting some good photos for me.  It was a joy to be with him.

Samuel in front of
Siamese Twins in the Garden of the Gods.
In fron of Balanced Rock
The purpose of our trip was to take him to a ranch in southeast Colorado where he'll spend a few weeks.  It was about 4:00 Tuesday when I was ready to start my 3-hour drive back to Denver, so, to avoid rush hour traffic, a couple of the women there suggested I go up State Highway 71.  It was 84 miles of two-lane highway, nicely paved, and straight as an arrow, beautiful ranch country with absolutely no services or other major intersecting roads.  Occasionally I would see an outcropping of big trees and realize that a ranch family had a house there, but otherwise there was little sign of human life.  I connected to I-70 at Limon, traveling another 70 miles, where signs of civilization increased until I began to see the airport lights.

Before I left Samuel, he found a Christian radio station out of Colorado Springs that I could listen to on the drive back to Denver.  It was 102.7, KBIQ, the same call letters that Praise 105.3 was called when I was Samuel's age, and, just like Praise 105.3's slogan, this station was "Safe for the whole family."  How wonderful that, even though I didn't have my riding partner with me, I had his favorite kind of music on the radio.

I miss you, buddy boy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Heritage Park Wetlands

Hey, all you nature lovers in the Stanwood area, do you know about Heritage Park Wetlands?  After seven years of living in Stanwood, my walking partner, Terri, and I discovered the trail just a few weeks ago.

We parked behind Jasmin Thai Cuisine (something to look forward to after the walk!) and headed to the trail.  It's at 92nd Ave NW and 272nd St NW, just west of the bus barn and behind the bowling alley.  Heritage Park borders it on the north and Stanwood Middle School, the library, and several homes and businesses back against it on the south.

The path itself is flat and paved, an easy walk for families, parents with children in strollers, dog walkers, just about anyone.  It's several blocks long, and pleasant.

We especially enjoyed the wetlands.  If you turn to the north at the beginning of the trail (shown here on the right of the photo, between the trees), you will find yourself in a wildlife sanctuary.  We were there on a warm day, and the temperature was several degrees lower here.  Birds and small animals chattered and my shoulders relaxed as we walked into this peaceful place.

From the road on the north side, you can see the wetlands.  The tall dead trees, presumably remnants of a long ago forest fire, were left to attract birds of prey to the area.

If you haven't explored the park yet, why not do so before it gets too cold and wet.  It may draw you back again and again.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Verse for Labor Day

Be at rest once more,
O my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.

Psalm 116:7

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Big Plans

Samuel and I are taking a trip tomorrow!  We'll fly to Denver and hope to spend a little time in Colorado Springs on Monday as we head out to southeastern Colorado.

We've never done this before, such a big trip by ourselves.  We're looking forward to a glimpse of the beautiful red rocks of Garden of the Gods and the amazing mountains towering over us.  I'm looking forward to boring him with my stories of past visits to Colorado ("OK, OK, Mom, that's enough!")

If you don't hear from me for a couple of days, don't be surprised.  I'll be a little busy!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Break Out the Ironing Board

This ironing board available
at a thrift store in Australia.
Is there an ironing board in your home?  If not you might consider picking one up this weekend at a second hand store or garage sale.  It is something I have relied on for years, and I highly recommend them for apartment dwellers and home owners alike.

Even if you are the kind of person who pulls the shirt out of the dryer as soon as its cycle is finished, gives it a good snap, and hangs it up so that it never needs ironing, an ironing board is still a wise investment.  

Here are 10 things you can do with an ironing board:

1. Sort mail.
2. Set out school lunches and bus fare each morning.
3. Surf (not the net).
4. Iron (well, you might need to some day).
5. Use it in place of road cones to direct foot traffic through the house.
6. Patio furniture.  You can paint it a bright color and use it as a picnic table.
7. Put it under your sagging mattress for a better night's sleep. 
8. Plant stand, as a table between the couch and the window.  (Remember, the height is adjustable.  How convenient!)
9. Use it as a ladder when you need to reach something from the cupboard above the refrigerator.
10. It's the perfect item to slip into that space in the broom closet that you just haven't been able to decide how to fill. 

There will be plenty of opportunities to shop this long weekend.  Be sure to come home with a good, sturdy ironing board, even if you already have one.  You are bound to find a use for it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hymn of the Month -- I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say

Melody - "Vox dilecti," John B. Dykes, 1868

Words - Horatius Bonar, 1846

I heard the voice of Jesus say, Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down,
Thy head upon My breast.

I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting-place,
And He has made me glad.

2. I heard the voice of Jesus say, Behold, I freely give
The living water; thirsty one,
Stoop down and drink and live.

I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream.
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.

3. I heard the voice of Jesus say, I am this dark world's Light.
Look unto Me; thy morn shall rise
And all thy day be bright.

I looked to Jesus, and I found
In Him my Star, my Sun;
And in that Light of Life I'll walk
Till traveling days are done.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Kitchen Dance

Back when meatloaf was my speciality (it was the only dish I could make without a recipe and my only guaranteed success) I was perusing the cookbook, looking for something new and exotic to try out.  I came across Ham Mediterranean and thought it sounded marvelous.  I collected the ingredients and set to work, creating my exciting main dish.  As I put it together I was slightly suspicious, but it wasn't until I pulled it out of the oven that I knew for sure -- I'd made glorified macaroni and cheese!

I guess you could say that cooking didn't come naturally to me.

Then I met Tom, who as a kid created his own recipe for soda crackers, who wasn't afraid of herbs and spices, and who loved to bake bread.  For our first Christmas I bought him a great stock pot, which is still our best kitchen investment, and he loved it.  And with his encouragement and help, I have learned to cook.

When Samuel was in third grade (10 years ago) we learned that the proteins in many grains and those in dairy -- gluten and casein -- act like opiates in the bodies of many kids with autism, so immediately we took the whole family off gluten and casein until we could put a proper diet in place for our son.  We filled bags with "legal" grains at a health food store and started baking.  We chose to get rid of hydrogenated oils, food colorings and other things that would sabotage our attempts at cleaning up the diet.  We moved toward more organic foods.  We ate a lot of strange stuff back then, but have discovered some very tasty and nutritious recipes along the way.   Most of our meals are very edible these days!

I am the chief cook, but can count on Tom to help with meals or offer good suggestions when I get stumped about what to cook or how to season it.  There is a rhythm to working in your kitchen with another person, and we have learned our own kitchen dance.  We seldom crash into each other and have learned to anticipate the other's needs.  Our little bit of floor space has proven to be an adequate dance floor for us. On those days that I'm not up to the solo performance, I'm glad to be able to do the kitchen dance with my favorite partner.