Pressing Pins

She tried to keep from gritting her teeth as she pressed another aluminum pin deep into the tomato-shaped cushion she'd received as a bride. Margaret felt an odd, guilty pleasure in the piercing and a reluctant satisfaction in putting just one of too many scattered pins in place. On a bright day, which seemed to be  possibly hundreds of years ago, she'd latched the red pincushion away in a sewing box, considering it nothing more than an obsessive afterthought; a cheap wedding gift from a distant cousin who meant to inject compulsive tidiness into her (then) autonomous life. Now, in the middle years of her completely un-autonomous life, Margaret had developed a disquieting attraction to the gaudy, sawdust-stuffed sewing notion.


Let It Snow!

Have you been doing some cranky complaining about the snow this year?
I hope not.

There's more snow in the forecast for this week!

And in the beautiful contrast that the Lord often displays, 
my tiny snowdrops are up, being joined by 
a single, cheerfully yellow crocus.
Let it snow! 
Spring is almost here!


Just Let Mark Say It

" ... in America the ice-storm is an event. 
And it is not an event which one is careless about. 
When it comes, the news flies from room to room in the house, 
there are bangings on the doors, and shoutings, 
'The ice-storm! the ice-storm!' 
and even the laziest sleepers throw off the covers 
and join the rush for the windows.
... usually its enchantments are wrought in the silence and the darkness of night. 
A fine and drizzling rain falls hour after hour 
upon the naked twigs and branches of the trees, 
and as it falls it freezes.

 ...   All along the under side of every branch and twig is a comb of little icicles - the frozen drip. Sometimes these pendants do not quite amount to icicles, but are round beads - frozen tears."

From Mark Twain's   Following the Equator

Click the title for more of Twain's description of a sunlit morning after an ice-storm, 
and find out what building he designated "man's architectural ice-storm". 
These photos are of the morning after our ice storm last night
 --- without the sunlit morning.
Click here to see photos of another ice storm in 2009, 
which included a sunlit morning-after.



I have a love hate relationship with CATS.
Doesn't everyone?
When I was a little girl, a favorite activity on a trip to the family farm involved barn kittens. Climbing around in the loft of the calf barn to find their clever hiding spot, managing to catch one and hold on long enough to tame it. Oh So Sweet Babies! - after they had finished hissing and spitting, and had become 'tame', of course. Warm and groggy after being lavished with hours childish love, they were content to lay flat out in the crook of an arm. I always arrived back at the house in time for dinner with my eyes red and itchy, and every scratch a welt.
 So allergic but completely happy! 

My childhood best friend had cats at her house. I did not love them. They were elusive phantom-ish cats - never allowing themselves to be caught and loved but leaving enough dander around to cause my itching eyes to swell shut. It was pretty embarrassing to be the only girl at the pajama party with weeping eye blisters. 
What? You didn't know that eyes can blister? 
 It's not pretty,  folks.

As a teenager, my family kept outside cats. I did love them and defended them from my brothers  who collaborated with my boyfriend to discover if cats really walk backward when their ears are taped down. By then I'd learned to have (a little) better self-discipline and found that I could manage my allergy and still snuggle my cat if I washed my hands immediately afterward and changed my clothes. 
It was worth it, Whiskers!

One of my dearest friends in high school (and to this day) had cats. We called her pets the Demon Cats, and they earned the title. They attacked at dinner, after our vulnerable legs had been tucked under a tablecloth.  When you least expected it, after you thought you might be safe, maybe as you raised a forkful of Aunt Shirley's luscious chicken dumplings to your mouth, a tiny furry rocket would race from a hiding place and launch to your leg, all claws extended, hang on for a frantic ride and deliver a final spiteful bite before racing away.  Aluminum dining table chairs were flipped over backward and we would lay gasping and bleeding like carp on a dock.  My friend declared that her cats were only 'that way' around us. 
I think they were  just un-tamed barn cats. 

(photos of my cousin's cats just before Christmas this year) 


Chapter Twenty-Six

By the middle of my reading of Leviticus this morning, I found myself biting a nail. 
Just one, but definitely doing some anxiety gnawing. 
Have you read Leviticus 26 lately? Then here's a overly-simple outline:

It starts out so joyful - all the rewards for obedience. Thirteen verses of blessing!
Blessings in nature, blessings in occupation, blessings of peace and security at home, and His abiding presence. 

The next twenty-six verses are not so joyful. 
The punishments for disobedience are enough to make anyone bite a nail! "If you ..... then I will ...." God says these terrible consequences are all aimed a bringing a repentance in the people.  Disease, famine, enemy attacks, panic, and personal opposition
SIDE NOTE: I once found My Oldest sitting on my bed with our copy of Bringing Up Boys. He had turned to the appendix and was intently studying the photographs of childhood diseases. As I got closer, I could hear him praying, "And please never let me catch that, or that, or that..." That's how I felt while reading the consequences section of chapter 26!

The last seven verses are a comfort though - "But if they confess their iniquity ..." 
Verses of hope leading back to the blessing verses of the start of the chapter!

  What a great model for parenting! 
(or coaching, or teaching, or babysitting...)
As always, the Scriptures are the map, our guidebook for this life, especially in the crazy journey of parenting. Some take-aways for me today:

Children should know the deal - they should be aware of what's going to happen if they obey and what will happen when they don't. Consequences should not be a mystery, triggering a what will happen if I do this  scenario. It's fair to equip them with enough information to make the best choices, whether for obedience or disobedience.

Obedience should have real rewards to be enjoyed, celebrated and appreciated -enough to reinforce additional positive decisions in the future. 
***This was a shortfall (one of many!) in our earlier child raising years. When managing the herd, too often obedience fell in the category of an 'expected standard', going un-noticed. Nothing BAD happened to them, and that was their blessing. 

There should be hope! Offering a way to repentance leading to forgiveness and restoration is repeated over and over in the Book and can be imitated in parenting. Even a long and ugly stint of stubborn disobedience is not enough to get thrown out of the game completely. "... if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant ..."    


Bucket Work

"Suzy, you can go gather some of those walnuts in this bucket!"
Well, I wasn't in the market for a chore, but I took the bucket and went anyway,
just as my Grandma told me to. 
Grandma was always one to give us something to do. 
It bothered her to see us sitting around being unproductive. 
So she was always quick to remedy that.

Recently taken photo of walnuts the black walnut tree 
that stood in her backyard, now nearly fifteen years 
after her passing.


Red and Yellow

At a home we visited recently, there were
red and yellow holly berries in a clay pot just outside on the porch. 

It seemed like a poetic, visual wish for summer.


Sweet Talkin'

Sometimes you just need to talk about desserts.
While having dessert at Outback tonight
(many thanks to those wonderful souls who graciously gave us those gift cards)
and rating their featured cinnamon apple dish a disappointed '5' out of '10', 
Cinnamon Oblivion
My Wonderful Husband and I discussed our all time favorite list of restaurant desserts.
It's a short list of three:

(Even when the kids were small, getting time away together was a priority and eating was usually a happy part of that. Our special occasion date was a Progressive Dinner Date. We'd visit the restaurant with our favorite appetizer, enjoy that, get the check and drive to another spot and enjoy our favorite entree, then end the evening with our most loved dessert. It makes for a nice long night out, with three different crowds of people to gawk at and lots to talk about, besides organizing a game plan on Surviving Parenting.) 

#1  TGI Friday's Rockslide Pie

#2  Salty Dog Cafe's Key  Lime Pie

#3  Rafferty's Apple Walnut Crunch

Do you have a list of favorite restaurant desserts?

There's a whole other list of super special HOMEMADE desserts ....