Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Music to a musician's ears

This evening as I was fixing dinner, Munchkin was out of sorts. Wanting to cheer him up, I offered to put on some music. Munchkin liked the idea, so I turned on a Raffi CD (kiddie songs) that he enjoys. After a minute, Munchkin said, "Mommy, I don't want this music. I want Beethoven."

Monday, September 29, 2008

The coming flood (Update)

I'm afraid this isn't going to be a very humorous post, but I know that there are a lot of people out there who aren't laughing right now, anyway. I wanted to pass along a portion of a newsletter I received Saturday from David Wilkerson.

David Wilkerson is probably best known for foundingTeen Challenge decades ago. He works out of the Times Square church in New York City, now, and he has a unique ministry as a modern-day prophet. Not everybody agrees with him, and he certainly doesn't have a red telephone line directly to God, but he has given some amazingly correct prophecies over the years. Eight years ago, he got his church to hold an around-the-clock prayer virgil because he prophesied that something really bad was going to happen to New York. They prayed 24-7 for a month before 9-11 occured, across the street from their church. So he's got some credibility.

I subscribe to his (free) newsletter which comes out every three weeks. Wilkerson predicted the mortgage mess a couple years ago, and just this past weekend I received this in the mail. This excerpt is from the cover letter, and there's plenty more in his "sermon" that is also part of the newsletter. If you want to subscribe or read more, you can get there from this link.

I found this letter fascinating, particularly considering the things my (not necessarily Christian) green blogging friends have been talking about. I think you'll find it interesting no matter what you believe. Here's the quote from the newsletter:

(Update: I just found on the World Challenge website that I can't post an exerpt from the letter on my blog. So you'll have to follow the link and read it for yourself. Sorry!)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mystery plant: The harvest

Here it is -- delicata squash from the mystery plants I've been tending all summer. My husband observed that I got more produce from these volunteers than I did from the rest of my vegetable garden combined. Good thing I'm not a subsistence farmer.

Stay tuned for next week's final episode titled, "Mystery plant: It's what's for dinner!"

Monday, September 22, 2008

How not to hold a garage sale

1. Plan for months how you will hold the mother-of-all-garage-sales.
2. Collect items from around the house that you wish to sell.
3. Store the items in a place where you will trip over them in the middle of the night.
4. Wake up one Saturday morning tired of the pile of junk in your house.
5. At 9:30 am, throw out your perfect plans for next month's sale and decide to do the garage sale immediately.
6. Talk your husband (who thinks you're nuts, but is trying to cooperate) into pulling out a lot more stuff from the garage.
7. Make signs with (inadequate) materials you have on hand.
8. Haul the boxes of stuff out to the driveway.
9. Send husband and preschooler out on a mission to put up your signs.
10. Put up your sign and start putting pricing stickers on things as you pull them out of boxes.
11. Notice you have no customers, so drag the most attractive items out to the street.
12. Price more stuff.
13. Husband and preschooler return with the news that your signs are unreadable from the street.
14. Catch the preschooler in the act of removing price stickers and putting them on different items.
15. Fix the stickers and send husband and son into the house.
16. Entertain one customer who only wants to buy your display table, which is not for sale.
17. Put out more stuff.
18. Catch preschooler playing with more stickers.
19. Send husband and preschooler back into the house.
20. Observe that cars are slowing down, but not stopping.
21. Notice that you've been at this for two hours, have had only two customers and have yet to make your first sale.
22. Realize it's hopeless and start moving stuff back to the garage.
22. Save the remaining price sheets from the sticker-happy preschooler.
23. Send husband and preschooler back into the house.
24. Make your first sale ($5) as you're packing it in.
25. Let your husband tease you a little, since you've earned it.
26. Giggle as you watch preschooler price you and your husband (you: 70 cents, husband: 10 cents) and hold his own "garage sale" in your living room.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ahoy, lubbers!

September 19 is "Talk Like a Pirate Day," as I'm sure you already know...

Avast! You didn't know? Well, obviously you haven't read much of Dave Barry. Here's a quote:

"Every now and then, some visionary individuals come along with a concept that is so original and so revolutionary that your immediate reaction is: 'Those individuals should be on medication.'

Today I want to tell you about two such people, John Baur and Mark Summers, who have come up with a concept that is going to make you kick yourself for not thinking of it first: Talk Like a Pirate Day. As the name suggests, this is a day on which everybody would talk like a pirate. Is that a great idea, or what? There are so many practical benefits that I can't even begin to list them all." -- Dave Barry, Miami Herald, Sept. 8, 2002.

So brush up on your pirate talk smartly!

For your enjoyment, I'll conclude with a little pirate song by the founders of the holiday. Arrr!

A Children's Pirate Shanty
by Mark "Cap'n Slappy" Summers
(can be sung to the tune of Monty Python's "I'm a Lumberjack and I'm OK" - or make up your own!)

I'm a pirate! That I be!
I sail me ship upon the sea!I stay up late - till half past three!
And that's a peg below me knee!

Yo Ho, my friends I have a tale
of treasure, plunder, sea and sailmy story's bigger than a whale
it gets so deep, ye'll have to bail.

I like to fish, I like to fight
I like to stay up half the night
When I say "starboard" ye go right!
Me ma, she says, "Ye look a fright!"

I've got no hand but that's me hook!
I pillage stuff but I'm no crook.
Me booty's in this chest I took.
They'll write about me in a book!

And that's all there is to this song.
I hope it hasn't been too long.
A pirate's life might just be wrong
So grow up nice and big and strong!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why didn’t they think of that?

As Munchkin and I drove down the street, we passed a station wagon with a canoe strapped to the top. I asked Munchkin what he thought it was and he answered that it was a boat, so I told him the boat was called a canoe. Munchkin remembered from our recent vacation that he had seen Indians in a canoe out in the sound. He asked, "How do the Indians make it go?"

We discussed how to use paddles for rowing and then he asked, "How to they make it go on dry ground?" Amazed at his language skills, I told him that the Indians had to pick up the canoe and carry it. Munchkin wasn’t satisfied with my answer, so he thought a minute before he said, "They could use a forklift! A forklift would do it!"

Monday, September 15, 2008

APLS Carnival

Hi everyone! The APLS Carnival is now in full swing over on green bean's blog. Check it out! Read some thoughtful posts & vote on whether to change "A" from affluence to all!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Welcome to APLS!

One of my favorite bloggers is at it again! This time green bean helped coordinate a blog, the purpose of which is to help eco-minded bloggers connect with each other. There are local chapters forming around the country and the APLS site hosts monthly "carnivals" on relevant topics. (A carnival is an event in which bloggers all write about the same topic and then there are links to everyone's posts from a central site.) There's also a cool button available, but I haven't used it because, well, it reminds me too much of the picture of a poison apple from my childhood copy of "Snow White." Sorry, green bean.

The APLS acronym stands for "Affluent Persons Living Sustainably." For last month's carnival, which I missed, the topic was "sustainability." This month's topic is "affluence." (The carnival will be posted 9/15 on green bean's blog.) Everyone hates the word, but in global terms, the majority of those who live in the US are affluent and we have unbelievable wealth compared to our poorest neighbor. Click on this link to see what's happening in Haiti right now. It's heartbreaking.

That said, I still don't like the word affluence. I have a loving husband, darling little boy, my health, a job, a house and I live in a nice community in the wealthiest country in the world. When I first wrote that list, I forgot to even include that I have food to eat and clothes to wear, because I've never known what it was like to be without. I'm late in getting my APLS submission in (and I hope they still include me!) because last night I was... well... playing with my new laptop computer. In global and historic terms, I am rich beyond measure. The word "affluence," on the other hand, connotes to me glitz, glamor, big houses and expensive cars. Maybe I'm confusing it with "opulence."

So forget the word. One thing that really impressed me after reading "Three Cups of Tea" was how little money it takes to make a really big difference in a developing country. Mortensen built his first school in Pakistan for $12K. Now, that's a lot of money for me, but really -- 12K? To build a whole school? Compassion International has a program where a gift of $32/month purchases food, schooling, recreation and medical care for one child. Try that in the US!

I don't know what to think of these figures. Things are cheaper overseas? Standards are lower? People can get along quite nicely on a lower standard of living than what we consider to be a necessity? Years ago I was deep in the jungles of Mexico in a rainstorm that threatened snow, and my group stopped off at the most welcome, warmest, coziest little house I've ever seen. The house was made of mud, but obviously it kept a family very comfortable. We don't even have the option of living like that here in the US -- the building permit guys would laugh us out of the office!

I digress. The point is, we have a lot compared to most of the world, and it takes very little to make a positive difference in the life of someone who has need. The apostle Paul wrote, "For if the willlingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality." (2 Cor. 8:12-14) It's something to think about.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Monkey hear, monkey say

The other night, Scott told Munchkin to start picking up his toys since it was time to get ready for bed. Munchkin walked into his bedroom and said, "It's a real mess in here! We should have started ten minutes ago!"

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday Story: Title Page!

The Purple Elephant

by Donna
at Chocolate Crayons & More

© 2008 All rights reserved.
Do not duplicate electronically.
Please feel free to print out a copy for yourself and your kids, for personal use only.
Thank you.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


When I was about 8, or maybe 10, I had lunch at my grandmother’s house and she made me a tomato sandwich. It had fresh tomatoes and parsley from their garden, and I don’t know what else because I’ve been trying to duplicate that sandwich ever since, without success.

Ten years later, my other grandmother took me to lunch at a little deli where I ordered salami on sourdough. The man behind the counter decided that I looked underweight and so he "helped" me by adding extra meat. He must have put on half a pound – I remember it being more than ½ inch thick – and he included cheeses and veggies. I’ve never been able to duplicate that sandwich, either, in part because I just can’t justify putting ½ pound of salami on a single sandwich, but also because the memory was part of the taste.

These two sandwiches have gone down in my personal history as the best I’ve ever had, and in the decades that have followed, I’ve never found another sandwich that belonged on such an exclusive list. Until today.

I had the rare treat of walking around alone at the farmers’ market this morning. At lunch I found a booth that was selling bruschetta. Maybe everyone else knows all about it, but I had only read the word on fancy menus. I watched as the sellers created one for another customer before ordering. Their version of bruschetta is an open-faced sandwich that begins with a thick slice of "rustic bread" brushed with something (I’m guessing olive oil and garlic) and then grilled. Goat cheese is spread on the warm bread and it is topped with thin slices of brandywine tomato and chopped fresh garlic. Finally, it is drizzled with some kind of balsamic sauce.

I savored every bite. A woman walked by and demanded to know where I had purchased such an incredible looking lunch. It was perfect – a grown-up sandwich for a grown-up taste – and it was so filling that I didn’t eat my farm-fresh organic apple until much later.

I’ll probably try to duplicate the recipe at home, or maybe I’ll splurge again sometime at the market and buy another, but I doubt I’ll ever be able to really match the taste. It’s been added to my list of perfect sandwiches.

Friday, September 5, 2008


All day we walked around the city of Victoria, I kept my eye out for an appropriate souvenir. I wanted something distinctly Canadian – none of this made-in-China junk with a logo on it! A bottle of Canadian maple syrup seemed perfect, but the prices were so outrageous for an amount of syrup barely able to cover two pancakes that I could almost see "sucker!" written all over the labels.

About an hour before we had to report back to the ferry we let Munchkin have some wiggle time in the gardens surrounding the Parliament building. As I relaxed, Scott discovered that we could get in on a tour of the building. The tour was refreshing as we walked through no security checks and no metal detectors. They didn’t even record our names -- it was lovely.

At the end of the tour, our guide told us that the Parliament building is lit up at night with over 3300 light bulbs. They recently changed the light bulbs to a more energy-efficient variety and then, instead of throwing away the old light bulbs, they turned them into Christmas ornaments and sold them in the gift shop. I finally found my souvenir. Distinctly Canadian, it was perfect. When I went to purchase the ornament, I was dismayed to discover that they were all sold out except for the model in the display case. My dismay turned into delight when the tour guide offered to sell me the display model. I got the last light bulb.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

An Unexpected Visitor

It was a dark and stormy night when we returned to our campsite. To our surprise, we found our cooler about 15 feet away from where we had left it and food strewn around the campsite. A big plastic box that we use to store other camping gear was also opened. Food packaging was perforated with little tiny teeth marks, and it looked like something with a much larger mouth had tried to eat the bottle of pancake syrup. We picked up the mess in the dark before piling into our sleeping bags. We assumed we'd been paid a visit by a bear or a cougar. Made it a little hard to go to sleep.

Sometime later, still awake and listening to the rain on the roof of our tent, I took mental inventory of the food we had lost. The little plastic box of goodies that had been in the big plastic box was untouched. I thought that chocolate and crackers would have been sniffed out first. I turned my attention to the cooler. The cheese and lunch meat were chewed, apparently by a chipmunk. The milk was fine. Munchkin’s soymilk – wait, I didn’t see the carton of soymilk. I didn’t see the bread, bagels, butter or cream cheese, either. It would have served the beast right if he’d eaten the chocolate flavored laxative, but it was untouched.

In the morning I asked Scott if he’d picked up the missing items. Not only had he not seen them, but he hadn’t seen his carton of half and half, either. We searched the area for any sign of the missing items. No tracks, no trash, no specks of eaten food, nothing. What kind of an animal could have done this damage? It didn’t take us long to realize, and the locals confirmed it – it was Bigfoot. Naturally.

For those who follow such things, I want to draw attention to the new information that Bigfoot or someone in his family is apparently lactose intolerant. Notice, he took the soymilk and left the regular milk. Of course, he took the half and half, too, so maybe he enjoys an occasional cup of coffee.

If Munchkin were a few years older, he probably would have been scared, but instead he adopted Bigfoot as his newest imaginary friend. He’s hoping Bigfoot will come to his next birthday party.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Olympic Vacation

We had a great time camping in the Pacific Northwest. We spent two nights on Whidbey Island with some friends, and then we went on the the Olympic Peninsula. Our plan was to take day hikes into Olympic National Park, but the weather was not entirely cooperative. Let's just say that there's a reason they call it a rain forest. The highlight of our vacation was the day trip we took to Victoria – what fun! I'll share a few stories later on this week, but in the meantime, here’s a few photos...

A deer on Hurricane ridge

Ferry ride to Victoria

Hike in the rain forest

Camping in the rain

Monday, September 1, 2008

Mystery plant: And the winner is...

Congratulations to Laura at (not so) Urban Hennery for her guess that my mystery plant looked just like her delicata! And we're going to have a lot of it! I have one question, though, since I've never grown winter squash before. How do I know when it's ripe? Will the color change?

In other business, I'm afraid I've almost totally fallen off the local-food wagon these past two weeks. I wish I could blame it on the unexpected visitor to our campground (more on that in a later post!), but that's not really the whole story. We did, however, eat one meal while camping that almost qualifies. Scott invented the recipe after eating something similar at one of our favorite restaurants. I was skeptical at first, but there's so much good stuff in this meal that I hardly noticed the scrambled eggs.

Here's Scott's recipe:
Dice two (local) potatoes and saute in olive oil in a fry pan over a Coleman stove. When potatoes start to get soft, add one diced (local) onion and one diced (local) bell pepper. When they soften, add chopped mushrooms, diced pre-cooked bacon and five (local) eggs. Continue frying until eggs are done. Season with salt and pepper. Forget to add shredded cheese, and serve. Eat in the rain, under a tarp, in the great outdoors.

It was really very good, but it would have been better with the cheese. :)