Sunday, October 21, 2012

Thoroughly Enjoying...

 
I'm still frustrated that I don't have my photo editing software yet to share with you the true, brilliant colors we're enjoying, but I want to share nonetheless. :)
 



 
I didn't know what color our front yard Crimson Maple would turn. I feared brown - not really terrible, but I really craved color after so much green in Florida - but we were treated to burnt orange (there's another to the right of this one) which partners so nicely with the neighbor's beautiful, buttery yellow tree.


Our leaves in the front are just starting to fall, but the neighbors' yard across the street is a positive lake of leaves!







 
We're thoroughly enjoying our first Autumn back. Some of you are enjoying Spring... Whatever your time of year, cheers of the season to you!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Polarized

Last night I was up late talking with my older daughter. We were talking about all kinds of things that are on her almost-16 mind these days and one particular thing struck me - one thing that is sad and has me pretty disappointed with many adults these days.

We were talking about college choices and the thing that she said was this: You know, I don't want to go to school where there are going to be a bunch of partiers. I kind of want to go to a Christian school, but I really don't want to be around people who are so politically opinionated. My professor [Maia is currently enrolled in a PSEO course, which is a college course paid for by the state that high-school students can take for concurrent high-school and college credit] is SO opinion-based and I'm just sick of it!

And guess what? She's not the only teen who feels this way. My nephew, a senior in high school, says that he won't talk with his friends about the upcoming election, because he says that so many of his friends have such strong opinions - and not necessarily their own, but those of their parents - that he doesn't even want to get into it with them.

Sadly, this really is everywhere. I just skip over all the Facebook posts that have smarmy remarks. The internet is the last place to have a true discussion with anyone. The safety of anonymity leads to words that many wouldn't dare speak in face-to-face discussions. Acutally, I wonder even about that word, "discussion," because, honestly, I hardly think we're having any of those.

What we have are ZINGERS.

Yes, the smart remark that is so clever and is something that everyone can "like" and "share" and feel smug about because they got the last clever word... except that it never is the last word and someone else will come up with a new retort in about... 12 seconds... and what we're left with is nothing of substance, but instead a lot of insulted, vengance-seeking (whether in word or deed or zinger) people.
Little more than parody is built on clever insults. Certainly solving serious dilemmas that affect millions of people does not call for a punchline.

A couple of months ago, I was listening to a panel of seasoned journalists talk about the state of politics and news these days. One of the questions regarded the extreme polarization that our country has not been able to pull itself out of for the last 12 years or so. Where did this come from? It wasn't always this way, was it? An excellent answer that struck a chord with me was this:

With the rise of both the internet and opinon-based cable programs that present themselves as "news," citizens now get their information filtered through a lens that is skewed toward a perspective they already hold. Consider this for a moment. Does it not leave you feeling a little bit creepy and a little bit brainwashed? Don't you think that we ought to be challenged in our thinking just a bit and perhaps even find ourselves argreeing, from time to time with the other guy? I don't agree with my husband or my children or other family members on everything. Why should I feel this way about a political party - right or left? Because while it is quite comfortable to sit in a room and discuss topics of all kinds with people who agree with you on everything, it does not make the opinion in that room right or true.

I'm not suggesting that there aren't things that are not right or true. I have my own beliefs and values that are dear and important to me. But if my belief is different from yours, can we agree that I will not likely bring you around to my way of thinking by talking louder than or over you or by insulting you and/or what you believe in?

And so, is this how we want to teach our children to speak to one another? Is this how we instruct them in discourse toward resolving the issues of our day... of their days in the future? By teaching them to talk over someone hopefully by saying something clever enough to have printed on a tacky
 t-shirt?

I am especially making a plea to my Christian brothers and sisters out there. Stop participating in the volley of insults. Yes, Jesus disagreed with people, but instead of  calling someone an idiot or stupid or shaming or humiliating them by trying to make them look foolish with a cleverly-crafted one-liner, He taught them by using parables and invited them to think about themselves in the mirror of the story, thereby letting the Holy Spirit convict the heart and inviting them to change.

For the sake of each other, the generations to follow,our nation and Your Son, give us grace, Father, in these last days before our election and in the future,to practice your instructions in James 1:19, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry..." Amen.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Queen of Cozy


Hello again, all, and a very happy Autumn to you!
Oh, it's always hard to start over again, isn't it?
My blogging joints feel a little bit creaky, a little bit rusty, but here I am,
finally, again.
 
I can't even really begin to back-track on all that the moving entailed. It's only been in the last few weeks that I've even considered getting back to these pages. Our new school year is in full swing now and it's taken some getting used to in addition to the settling-in that continues as we make this house our home.
 
That schedule has required a good deal of planning that I intend to talk about in another post, but speaking of home...
 
This was the view from our front picture window just over a week ago. My camera doesn't do it justice and I can't find my photo editing software (don't ask), so for now, these pictures will just have to do. It took only a few days - one particularly windy one at that - to cause some of this full-blown GLORY to scatter, but I can tell you that my whole family is thoroughly enjoying the technicolor splendor that is autumn in Minnesota - our first in eight years!!
 

 
 We've had a few chilly nights and our days are averaging in the 50's F this week, so inside is kept niiiiice and warm and I dubbed myself the "Queen of Cozy" as I began pulling out all my autumn decor.


Now, I decorated every year in Florida too, but there honestly wasn't a whole lot of need to be cozy
from anything, really. In fact, while there were subtle seasonal changes on the gulf coast,
my decorating really was autumn to my daughters. Now, they have learned that it is so much more.
 

And speaking of cozy...
these are just a couple of random kitchen shots from my new kitchen.
Storage space-wise, this is probably the smallest kitchen I have ever had to work in.
It doesn't bother me; it was kind of like a puzzle putting it all together, seeing where I might be able to fit everything. In the end, everything simply does not fit.
I really wondered at the family that lived here before we did. I guessed that it must have been a single man or a couple without children. I was very surprised to learn that they actually had three sons!
So... either they didn't cook much or they did what I do and made a makeshift pantry in my laundry room downstairs. We have plenty of storage space down there, as the laundry room runs the entire length of the house, so it's worked out nicely.
 My favorite thing in my little kitchen is my little kitchen window over the sink. Can you believe I have never had one?? They always seem so common, and yet, in the time I have been an adult moved away from my family of origin, I have never had a window over my sink... and I just love it!
This particular little spot reminds me of my mother's last Minnesota home before she moved to Florida. It's not exactly the same set-up that she had, but it is similar and I think of her often when I stand at my sink, especially in the mornings when it is still dark out, I am making my tea, and I only have the light on over the sink. Very cozy, indeed. :) Wouldn't you agree, Mom?
 

 
It was this very time of day when I took these pictures as you can see by the kitchen reflected in the window. The lace panel is actually a small runner that my grandmother or great-grandmother tatted, I believe. Eve found this bit of hydrangea the other day as we were taking a walk. In the other corner of the window-sill are some scented geraniums in a little jar that we are hoping to root for a school project. I had never seen scented geraniums before, but I am completely charmed by them!
 
 
My bakers rack is now set up in our little kitchen and is proving to be very useful for all my cookbooks. Well, these are not ALL my cookbooks, but the ones I use most often. Below, I keep my spices. It's funny, because I've had this bakers rack for about a decade now and it's never been used for what it's meant to have been used for until now. It's still only partly utilitarian, but is much more kitchen-oriented than it has ever been.
 
But do you see that wee little picture down there behind the basket?
Look, look! It's my now big teenage girls when they were just wee ones themselves!
Oh, I LOVE this picture of them! Maia is reading The Three Little Pigs to Eve. And even better is that it is the very copy of the the book my sibs and I had growing up. It's held together with a bit of tape these days, but it's still a great book!


Other than some freezer pickles and one small batch of refrigerator pickles made with my sister, I haven't had time to do any canning this year. But that doesn't mean that I haven't been busy trying to preserve as much of our summer garden that I can! I did quite a bit of freezing of our tomatoes, basil, pesto, and kale. I've still been harvesting things at my sister's place, so while it's been wonderful to have all the fresh produce (thank you, Lael and Mike!!), it will be nice next year to think that I will only need to walk a few steps into my own back yard for my harvest.
Oh, the plans are many...

In the meantime, as the weather cools, we've been making sure that the birds are getting their share...
 


...ahem.

 
The pumpkins have been selected as well, but are living inside for the present. The little, theiving critters above completely mowed down the gourds I had on our front steps, so we're being more cautious with our pumpkins until the jack-o-lanterns are carved! :)
 
Actually, I don't mind sharing with the squirrels for the most part. I like watching them as much as birds. I just hope our tulip bulbs will survive. We don't have many - just 5 in a pot on the deck. See the rock around the base of the tree in the picture above? That's all around our house in our flower beds too. Yes, it does make it all maintenance-free, but not very colorful. That's a springtime project. So, for now, we'll put the handful of tulips in the pot on the deck and plant them in a more permanent place next fall.
 
And speaking of pots, I brought in the geranium yesterday too. She'll hang out with us this winter and go back out in the spring.

And finally, I just thought I'd show you the cool stamp I made this week with a styrofoam tray from the grocers. A large portion of our curriculum this year is based on the Anne of Green Gables Unit Study, Where the Brook and the River Meet. It is chock full of activities and one of which was this. Two other homeschooling families that we know are doing this curriculum this year too and so we meet together weekly to share some activities together. We had the girls practice on styrofoam trays before they committed their designs to the linoleum blocks we got for them.
 


It is hard to just sit by and watch the girls have all the fun, so I joined them with my own design: knitting needles and yarn, of course! :)
And speaking of knitting, I have a sweater here on the needles that is just begging to get off, so I'd better wrap things up here.
 
I hope you're all enjoying the fullness of this season, whether it be sunny and warm or cool and crisp. Aren't you just so thankful for the diversity that is life on this planet?
Have a terrific weekend, friends, and I hope to be talking with you again very soon!
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