Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Carol of the Drum

The Little Drummer Boy, originally titled The Carol of the Drum, is based on a traditional Czechoslovakian Christmas carol. The last line always brings tears to my eyes. Merry Christmas, ya'll. :-)

Lyrics to The Little Drummer Boy

Come they told me ( pa rum pum pum pum)
The new born King to see ( pa rum pum pum pum)
Our finest gifts we bring ( pa rum pum pum pum)
To lay before the King ( pa rum pum pum pum)
(Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum).

So to honor Him ( pa rum pum pum pum)
When we come.

Little baby ( pa rum pum pum pum)
I am a poor boy too ( pa rum pum pum pum)
I have no gift to bring ( pa rum pum pum pum)
To lay before a King ( pa rum pum pum pum)
(Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum).

Shall I play for you ( pa rum pum pum pum)
On my drum?

Mary nodded ( pa rum pum pum pum)
The ox and lamb kept time ( pa rum pum pum pum)
I played my drum for Him ( pa rum pum pum pum)
I played my best for Him ( pa rum pum pum pum)
(Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum).

Then He smiled at me ( pa rum pum pum pum)
Me and my drum.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our Radical, Letterpress Printed, Christmas Card

"The Pecan Corner Press" is operational at last. The first big project is our Christmas card. When I asked Paul what he wanted, he said "I will never send a non-religious card again" and asked for something different than the usual Christmas tree or Santa Claus. What better than John 3:16?

This card goes to all we send cards to (some years we manage to send cards, other years we have good intentions!), without regard to faith or lack thereof. Christmas is not about a generic baby, or some vague non-religious "peace", but about the Son of Man that baby Jesus became.  We owe people the Truth, and the Truth is that:

"God so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son Jesus, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but will have eternal life."

 The paper is Strathmore Deckle Edge card, in Ivory, and the type is Goudy's Franciscan from Dale Guild via NA Graphics. The ink is copper metallic and black, both oil-based.

 As I learn to print again after a long haitus, I have:
* set type backwards (this means setting it left-right reading in my type stick causing it to print in reverse, instead of correctly setting it upside down and right to left)
* pied formes (this means spilling the tiny pieces of type and having to sort them back out)
* smashed type with the press grippers (this means letting the grippers that hold the paper get too close to the type, causing them to mash into it and ruin it)
* printed 5 out of 10 with some kind of error - mostly register errors where print is crooked compared to other elements (due mainly to that deckle edge!), but also a few scorches in melting the thermographic powder.

But I also learned some good things and am happy with the way they came out. I used dampened paper, and also used thermographic power to raise the print on the front. Between the damping and the heating, I had finally to steam the cards and put them all under the book press to straighten out again. I managed to get about 70 good cards out of 140 blanks that I started with.

Each card required 4 passes through the press, two sprinkles with thermo powder, one pass into the toaster oven, brushing to remove excess thermo powder, and a final steaming and pressing.

I also printed 200 on smaller, panel cards, without thermography, for the American Amateur Press Association December bundle. Because of their smooth surface (no dampening needed), straight edges (no register issues), and leaving off the thermography, I only ruined 4 of those cards. Good to remember for reducing waste in future projects! :-)

Oh! I am happy to be printing again! :-)

(By the way, if you like the idea of a letterpress printed Christmas card, check out G. Johanson's blog - linked from my sidebar. This pro-life printer has a lovely card based on a 15th Century woodcut of the three kings, and some cool Dala Horse designs.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Saying "No" to The Affordable Care Act: A Real Alternative for Christians

For most of my life, I've been either been covered under my employer's health insurance plans or paid my own expenses out of pocket.  As a healthy person, the insurance companies made profit from the premiums they collected on me. During times when I paid for my treatments, I was able to do so even on a small income - but that was before the ridiculous inflation of the past 10 to 15 years that has made fees - not costs but charges - skyrocket.

For a couple of years recently, until we could not afford it any longer, we paid for private insurance - a whopping $1200.00 a month for two people in excellent health.

I have not had health insurance for about 3 years now. If I need treatment for something, I will get it, and will find a way to pay for it. I have great genes and expect to continue to have excellent health, so this does not worry me much.

But the provisions of the "Affordable Care Act" aka "Obamacare" do concern me. The law and its implementation are gross violations of religious freedom for millions of Christians. And I cannot acquiesce to such a law.

Plus, in recent years, I've had a growing recognition that "insurance" is unhealthy for our economy and our society in many ways - I've blogged about this before.

I also have increasingly nagging questions about how heavily a Christian should rely on insurance within the framework of our faith. It is wise to invest for the future, to guard against want, but at the same time we must not let Insurance become an idol and a false god (which it seems increasingly to be in America).

So I was interested last night to discover,in an article on the Generation Cedar blog, something I had never heard of before: "Health Care Sharing" - a sort of charitable co-op for medical costs. (Do not confuse this long-existing word "co-op", which is short for cooperative aka cooperation, with the Democrats' co-option of the word to define yet another government-fundwasting program called "Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans" - no wonder we are headed toward Babel, when words are redefined to ridiculous extent. But I digress.)

The Atlantic's "A Christian Alternative to Health Insurance" gives a good overview of how they work. Of course, the article has a negative slant, but for realists who comprehend the nature and principles of cooperative organizations in general, the supposed "negatives" are not only acceptable but desireable. To put it another way: what co-op organic food store would allow members to bring in DDT-laden veggies or demand daily access to Kobe beef and foi gras?

Consumer Reports responded to a question last year about signing up for a "health care sharing ministry" with some informative detail, and links to the three largest such ministries:  Samaritan Ministries, Christian Care Ministry’s Medi-Share and Christian Healthcare Ministries.

Here's the exciting part: author Nancy Metcalf says in the article that "Membership in a health-care sharing ministry in operation since 1999 (i.e. any of the big three mentioned above) will exempt individuals from the law’s controversial mandate to purchase health insurance."

Since I haven't had much time to study the pros and cons of medical cost-sharing ministries, I'll just share a few more links. Other articles include:
The Christian Post "Christian Health Care Sharing Requires More Than Religion"
 Charisma News "Alternative Christian Health Insurance Skirts Obamacare"
 USA Today "Health care sharing ministries offer insurance alternative"
 Christian Personal Finance "Medi-Share Review: A Christian Health Insurance Alternative?"

Paul will be eligible for Medicare in April, but I am seriously thinking of looking into this for myself. I'd love to hear comments and testimonies if you have been or are a member of such a ministry! 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! The Immigrants Holiday Since 1540 AD

Happy Thanksgiving! It is 6:00 am and a beautiful morning. It will be just the three of us today: Paul, me and our granddaughter. I made the pies and cornbread last night, and Paul has the turkey marinating in brine. We added a ham to the menu, as Granddaughter doesn't care for turkey.

We have much to be grateful for.  We are Christians: assured of redemption, and secure in knowing we again will see our loved ones who have gone on before us.

We live in America, free to live, believe, work, think and speak; free to make for ourselves the best life we can on our own, not shackled into some hereditary "class" or trade, not under the thumb of hereditary governance.

We have great wealth, no matter our circumstances. Even the poorest among us have access to warm shelter, sufficient food, hope for a future better than our past.

I have never figured out how to "bump" posts without messing up the timeline, so here are links to Pecan Corner's most "classic" Thanksgiving Day posts. If you like them, please feel free to share. :-)

The Immigrants Holiday: Thanksgiving and The Original Melting Pot 

First Turkey Days! Thanksgiving Feasts in America 1540 - 1640 (or "The Real History of Thanksgiving")

God bless you, and God bless America!

(PS The Photo is of Wild Persimmon Trees on an Oklahoma byway. I took the picture when I went home for a visit last weekend. Mama and I had a lot of fun picking them - this was something she used to take us to do when we were growing up! They ripen in the fall, and are not edible until ripe - usually after the first heavy frost. But don't think just freezing them will work if they are not ripe yet. It won't! So you just have to stake out your tree and try to get there before the possums do! :-)  )

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hope at a Hard Time

"On Christ the solid Rock I stand - all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand."

It's a scary world, tonight. Those of us who have lived and seen how civilizations can crumble, who know the danger signs, who remember the ingredients that generated the good life we've shared across the world, and who remember the hard aching slog to pull out of the mire back onto solid ground: we had hoped to spare our children the toil, but it looks like our efforts have not been enough to push back against the entropy.

Our liberal friends don't understand the despair we feel, and like they did after all the other encroachments against American liberty, they roll their eyes and dismiss our worries as unwarranted silliness. The less charitable, incapable of compassion, continue to project their own feelings onto us: they think it's all a game, that we are just being competitive and write us off as poor losers; they project their own secret "isms" onto people who actually live in unity with true equality, they refuse to recognize that the only place bigotry still exists is in their own hearts and minds.

It tempts one toward despair.

But for just such times as these, God tells us: "FEAR NOT. ALL SHALL BE WELL."

I receive the David Wilkerson Devotionals each day, and these have truly been a God-send, a treasure trove of reminders that God's ways do not depend on human organization or plans. Here's a snip from one called "The Impossible Mission", that tonight, especially, has given me great relief and comfort:

"We must realize that Jesus was talking to ordinary, insignificant, uneducated men and women. He was placing the very future of His Church on their shoulders. They must have been overwhelmed.

"Can you imagine the conversation that must have taken place once their Master ascended to heaven? "Did I hear Him right? How could we start a worldwide revolution? We're penniless and the Romans are beating and killing us. If we are treated this way here in Jerusalem, how will we be treated when we witness and preach in Rome?”

"Another might have said, "How does our Lord expect us to go into all the world with the gospel when we don't even have enough money to go to Jericho? How are we to learn languages when we haven't been educated? This is all impossible."

"It was indeed an impossible mission. Yet our challenge today is just as daunting!

"If all who read this message would allow the Holy Spirit to make this word real to them — to seek Him for His burden and guidance — there is no telling what kind of harvest the Spirit might reap. The truth is, the greatest works for eternity are done not in mass crusades, but with one saint reaching one lost soul."

This bears repeating: "The truth is, the greatest works for eternity are done not in mass crusades, but with one saint reaching one lost soul. "

That is where we came from. Constantly, all of Christian history rises from this. We must know that this pattern will continue into the future as well. God loves His people, and this, today, is an opportunity to strengthen our faith, to look to today with confidence that tomorrow is in the hands of our great Good Father, who will fight for us on our behalf. We need merely stand faithful in Jesus.

Be of good cheer! Hold fast the faith! God will not allow your foot to stumble!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

I am a Christian and I stand with Chick-Fil-A

I have been commenting on a couple of blogs that the Chick-Fil-A matter has gone far past "Freedom of Speech" and is now a "Freedom of Religion" issue.  Red Stick Rant (whom we are delighted to have back in the world of active blogging after a bit of a hiatus) put it very bluntly, asking: "Should we make them sew on little yellow crosses?"  Harsh?  I wonder. The vitriol being bandied about in too-high places is excessively vicious for the subject. Is this how pograms start - with politicians & "thought-leaders" using any excuse to scapegoat people who are faithful to God?

Here's my comment from Pundit & Pundette's great round up article on the matter:

[Worse than the conservative intellectualizing about Dan Cathy's right to believe in traditional & Christian morality] is the desire to make this about "freedom of speech" instead of "Freedom of Religion", which it absolutely is: this is persecution. These mayors who are declaring against Chick-Fil-A are persecuting Christians in their capacity as agents of government. The refusal of Obama to issue insurance waivers on religious grounds is also direct and blatant persecution. Persecution includes - and usually begins with - monetary penalties, proscribed locations, withholding of permits solely because of religion. The whole reason that Freedom of Religion is our First Freedom is because the American Colonies were tired of the abuse by governments against Christian denominations that didn't fall in line with whomever held political power at the moment. Even Texas' own Declaration of Independence from Mexico gave tyranny against their free worship of Almighty God as cause.

We need not be mean or unChristian in our response, but we must stand up for Christ however we can as individuals when our brothers and sisters are being persecuted, reviled and mobbed.  This time it is easy: we just eat chicken, and keep patronizing Chick-Fil-A this whole year.

But if we ignore this one, what is next? If we do not, who will stand up for us when our time comes?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Who Can Take Your Money? Hmmmm?

Very Funny! Christian comic Tim Hawkins does a great impression of the late, great, Sammy Davis Jr in this so-true-it-hurts parody called "The Government Can". Check out the rest of his stuff too - he has a bunch of music parody that had us all - including the 16 year old in our house - rolling. A good laugh at the end of the day is a good thing!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Taste of Summer: Hand Cranked Mango Ice Cream

 The grandkids and I made a tiny batch of ice cream when they were here - they wanted to test drive my little garage sale find of an ice cream maker that has a bowl you put in the deep freeze, with a handle on top to turn the paddles. It works great! Very speedy and not much effort required. The only trouble is that it doesn't hold much, so it is only useful for a couple of servings.

The recipe I used was a keeper for sure: Mango Ice Cream! YUM!  Our church had a picnic gathering on Wednesday evening for Independence Day and I made a large batch to take. It was a big hit.

This recipe is for a half gallon (2 quarts), but you can divide it by four and make as little as 2 pints successfully. It is smooth, creamy, rich - and makes Husband-King Paul swoon! :-)

Mango Ice Cream

4 ripe mangoes
3 cups sugar
Juice of 2 large limes (4 tablespoons)
4 cups whole milk
10 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream)

Peel and cube the mangoes into small pieces and place in a glass or ceramic bowl (not a metal one - the acids would react). Squeeze the limes into the bowl with the mangoes, add 1 cup of sugar and stir. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about an hour.

Separate the eggs and freeze the whites to use later for meringue. I used the fresh country eggs we buy locally, and the rich yolks are wonderful in ice cream.

Stir the yolks and 2 cups of sugar together in a mixing bowl.

Pour the milk into a large pan and "scald" it - this means to get it hot but not simmering or boiling. It should just be steaming.

Whisking constantly (or use an electric mixer), pour the hot milk into the eggs. Be sure to whisk the eggs without stopping so they won't turn into scrambled eggs! It helps to have two people at this step. Or use your stand mixer if you have one. 

Whisk all of the milk into the eggs, then pour it all back into the pan, and keep stirring over medium heat for 4 minutes, until it has thickened slightly. Stir constantly and don't allow it to boil.

Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

When cool, combine with the fruit mixture and the whipping cream. Chill overnight and freeze in an ice cream freezer. When well-frozen, remove the ice cream to a storage container and place in the deep freeze for several hours until frozen hard. It may need to be stirred once or twice during that time.

My little ice cream freezer only does a quart at a time so it took two rounds of cranking to get it all made. Since the custard was chilled, it only took me about 15 minutes of churning per quart. I used one bag of ice and about half a box of rock salt: keep adding more ice and salt as it melts down. The salt makes the ice colder, thus it freezes faster.

I worked outside in the cool of the morning and it was really nice: lovely memories of "helping" Nandy freeze the ice cream when we were kids, and anticipation of the upcoming 4th of July events made the time go by in a dreamy hour. Would that all mornings could start so sweetly!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Historic Bipartisan Congressional Mandate: Holder in Criminal Contempt

In a HISTORIC return to a BIPARTISAN MANDATE for the Rule of Law, the ELECTED US House of Representatives today held Obama-appointee Attorney General Eric Holder in CRIMINAL CONTEMPT for his UNPRECEDENTED insubordinate refusal to obey or enforce the law of the United States of America. Holder has spent over a year lying to his bosses (the Congress) and refusing to obey their orders. He ignored requests, refused to allow his staff to talk to investigators, hid facts, covered up events, fired people who told the truth under oath, refused to enforce laws and in many other ways was neglegent of his duty.

Seventeen rational Democrats voted with all but 3 Republicans in favor of the HISTORIC contempt vote, courageously displaying their MULTI-ETHNIC AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP, their LIBERTY, and showing a truly BIPARTISAN commitment to TRUTH, EQUALITY, and JUSTICE by upholding the ACTUAL LAW of the land.

Conservatives, there are a few decent, old-time patriotic Democrats left, or the kind my granparents and great-grandparents were. These people stood up for the country and voted on their principles instead of at Pelosi's bidding:
Rep. Jason Altmire, D-Pa.
Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga.
Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla.
Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa
Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Ky.
Rep. Mark Critz, D-Pa.
Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.
Rep. Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y.
Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wis.
Rep. Larry Kissell, D-N.C.
Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah
Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C.
Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn.
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.
Rep. Mike Ross, D-Ark.
Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn.

 Rep Dan Lipinski D-IL voted  the President's own fave, "Present", which starts with "P" which comes after "N O" which sounds like "No" and that spells "No" no matter how you spin it. That's a shame. He should have taken a stand.

Ohio and Virginia, you have a couple of RINOs you need to send packing ASAP:
Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio and Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Virginia are both "Republicans" in name only who voted against holding Holder in contempt.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Barbarian Days: A Family Doctor's Home in the 1920s & 1930s (the Home of Author Robert E Howard)

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Cross Plains, Texas, and toured the Robert E Howard home as part of their "Barbarian Days Festival".  Howard's father was Dr. Isaac M. Howard. This simple frame house served as the family home, and, also, sometimes, doubled as Dr Howard's office where patients were seen. The home was continually in use as a place to live for various families from the time Dr Howard sold it until Cross Plains' Operation Pride recovered it for preservation in 1989.

 Since that time, they have worked to furnish it with period furnishings and house those artifacts they can obtain (such as the camel inkwell that stood on Howard's desk - a gift from Cecil Lotief, local Cross Plains  dry goods merchant - and first Texas legislator who had been born in Lebanon. He was first elected in 1932). Other furnishings are close copies of items either known to have been there, or true to the period.  Below is a photo of Bob Howard in front of this house, circa 1925.

My main interest was that I enjoy touring simple historical homes: the kind of house in which ordinary citizens lived a hundred years ago. In this case, the home of an ordinary small-town family physician. During that epoch in American history, there were similarities among all Americans of frugality, economy of space and furnishings, and natural closeness of proximity to household members and neighbors, that is readily apparent when we walk through such a home and consider how life would be lived in it.

 By today's standards, the author's cell-like bedroom/study (below) is tiny, cramped, and simple. But by the standards of the day (continuing even up into the 1970s in most of the country), it was probably much like the rooms of Howard's own unmarried peers. The room offered simple comfort, privacy, a bright and airy place in which to write and attend to the voluminous correspondence an author would keep up in that era when postcards and letters would be mailed daily for the same purposes email and messaging would serve today. 

The bare bulb was a common feature of most homes until new homes built in the prosperous 1950s and 60s popularized inexpensive, built-in light fixtures. My grandmother's house had several while I was growing up.  Our current house still had bare bulbs in the mid-1940s during WWII, when Rita's family first moved here, and it was the first time they had electricity. This house at that time had 4 rooms - and her family rented one of them out to a soldier and his wife, who kept all their household goods in that one small bedroom, brought pots out to cook and went back into their room to eat their meals! This gives an idea of how economically indoor space was used during these earlier eras.

 Porches were converted into bedrooms more often than not - and existing windows and doors were just left intact. During pre-electric times, such windows and doors still had use for ventilation and light, just like the transoms found above interior doors in so many old homes. If not needed to carry daylight and breezes, these unused windows and doors were often covered permanently with a heavy curtain or drape to block light and drafts, and furniture would be placed in front of it as though it were a solid wall.

My mother's house, of similar or slightly earlier vintage as this one, has two such converted porches: one very similar to this one resulted in her kitchen having a window-to-nowhere (well, technically, a window-into-the-next-room). Her kitchen also has another window that faces into the remaining screened "sleeping porch" that could have been, if needed, similarly converted. The other converted porch left a door-to-nowhere behind the sofa in her living room (but alas, there is no "door into summer"!).

Not only were bedrooms added to accommodate growing families, but also young adults tended to live at home until they married, and were given their own space by adding a room or converting a porch. Our house has a converted porch that we now use as the laundry room. but which once turned a crowded 4-room house into a three-bedroom home  and housed a family's sons, who had previously slept in the living room.

From the back, it is each to see the flat roof of the addition - also very common for what is known as "lean-to" add-ons. Our house has a similar flat roof over the portion added in the 1970s.

 I was particularly interested to see the plate block for Dr. Howard's original bookplate (or Ex Libris as some call them). It is a linoleum cut and bears the doctor's own signature. A corresponding print from it is framed with it, but I couldn't tell whether the plate was designed to make prints onto gummed paper for application, or to print directly onto a book's fore-leaf.

 The docents at the museum, all members of Cross Plains' Project Pride, were wonderful, and I appreciated their friendly guidance through the tour. Here is one of these nice ladies with the Cross Plains Centennial Quilt, displayed in Mr and Mrs Howard's bedroom of the home, to which she had contributed a square. Each block was made by local women to celebrate the town's history, and its recovery from the devastating wild fires that burned 130 homes and killed two people in 2005.

 We wrapped up the day with the Barbarian Festival in a lovely, oak-shaded park, complete with live music, free watermelon (courtesy of AMA-Techtel), Conan the Barbarian artwork, and fabulous food. There was even a car show. This is an annual event and it was a lot of fun. I hope we will be able to go again from time to time!

Much more about Howard, his writing, his family, and life can be found at various places, including REH: Two-Gun Raconteur, REHupa (the Robert E Howard United Press Association), and the Robert E Howard Foundation.

7/4/12 Update: Thanks to OpiningOnline.com for the link! :-)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Computer Failure and Summer Pleasantries

My trusty Dell Inspiron lies comatose, due to hard drive failure. It is 6 years old, so unlikely that we'll have it repaired. I'm going to ask Devin to look at it, and if it is costly to fix, he can have it for parts. There go all my bookmarks, photos, blog notes. C'est la vie. We won't replace it soon, there are more important priorities. For the time being, Paul is letting me share his computer - which is also our tv source.

So blogging will be lighter, but will not disappear. This blog has done well as an outlet for me and I enjoy my readers and the friends I've made through it.  I'll simply be posting once a week instead of 2 to 3 times. Maybe the quality will improve! Ha! :-)  Anyway, thanks for reading and for continuing to follow along. In the meantime, feel free to visit our sponsors.   :-)

It's actually been pleasant to be without a laptop.  At Paul's urging, I've resumed an old hobby, making costume jewelry and stringing beads - and making beads. When we met, I sold my jewelry in a couple of shops and did shows, but had let the hobby fall to the wayside long ago. Expect to see some pieces here at some point.

I've also been working on a big project that has been sitting and waiting for a couple of years: a tiny Cardinal travel trailer, vintage late 1960s. It had been gutted and I guess used as a food cart or something so it was a real mess! We aren't "restoring" it as such, but making it liveable as a secure place to sleep. Whereever we camp will certainly have "facilities" with showers and clean toilets, thank you very much! I am a big fan of hot water and indoor plumbing even when roughing it.  Paul shored up the inside and got the tags on and will take care of the electrics. My brother in law is going to paint the outside of it for us when we get to that point. Yesterday I finished the second coat of paint on the interior and now I'm searching for curtain material. It needs to have a touch of the avocado green of the naugahyde cushions, have a little blue, either  beachy, tropical or mid-century modern pattern. I lost the "before" pics on my computer, but I'll put up some "in progress" ones soon.

Yesterday morning after I got off work, we went to Cross Plains Texas to Robert E. Howard Days (aka Barbarian Days). I've been wanting to go to that since I first heard about it but something always interfered. We toured the author's house, bought various bits of Conan the Barbarian comic art, took pictures (I'll add them in a later post), and went to the Barbarian Festival. Cross Plains has a great, oak-shaded park for this kind of event. It was cool and comfortable. Live music, great Fair food, free watermelon and neat tshotshkes. One book I bought was "Lone Scout of Letters", the collected correspondence of Herbert C. Klatt, who died at 21 on 1928. Not only for those interested in Boy Scouts history, the Lone Scout organization, or the history of amateur journalism, the book also gives a glimpse into the life of a teenaged boy in rural Texas in the early part of the last century. 

We'll pick up the grandkids today to come spend a week or two. They are older, and they come each summer to help with the community Vacation Bible School. They always have a lot of fun, and we are so happy to have them. 

Now, off to church. Dinner on the ground and baptisms this afternoon, as more people answer Jesus' call to "Come, follow me."   

God bless you this Sunday, and through your week!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

"...Those Who Went West Have Seen Him": A Memorial Day Story

Memorial Day is nearly 150 years old. During each of those years, families and towns have new reason for remembrance, have new graves to tend on "Decoration Day". American freedom is bought dearly by men and women who gladly stand up and push back against threats to liberty.

In our household, we remember these men of the 3rd LAR,seven Marines and their Navy medic, who served with my son, Sgt Ethan D Arguello, and paid for our freedom with their lives in 2006 in Iraq:
Seaman Chadwick T. Kenyon
Cpl. Phillip E. Baucus
Lance Cpl. Anthony E. Butterfield
Cpl. Adam A. Galvez
Lance Cpl. Jason Hanson
Lance Cpl. Shane P. Harris
Lance Cpl. Randy L. Newman
Sgt. Christian B. Williams

I've written about them before. In many ways, their stories are unique, and each brave member of the US Military has their own story to tell. At the same time, there is a kind of courage that is renewed with each generation of Americans, and these men shared that courage with those of older times and other wars who, like them, gave their all for God and country, for liberty and freedom.

The story below, "The Beloved Captain", is the second of Donald Hankey's stories I've shared here. It was published in 1917, painting the heroism Hankey witnessed during The Great War, as WWI was then known.When I read it, the story didn't seem like something from a hundred years ago, but instead, it sounded like the kinds of things I was hearing people say about Doc Kenyon, Adam Galvez, Tony Butterfield, Jason Hanson, Randy Newman, Phillip Baucus, Chris Williams, and Shane Harris. 

The man who wrote this story, Donald Hankey, is himself numbered with them. He was killed in action in 1916, in the battle of the Somme. May God bless us to meet them all in the joy of the Resurrection at the end of all strife, and the final, victorious coming of the Lord.

The Beloved Captain

"He came In the early days, when we were still at recruit drills under the hot September sun. Tall, erect, smiling: so we first saw him, and so he remained to the end. At the start he knew as little of soldiering as
we did. He used to watch us being drilled by the sergeant; but his manner of watching was peculiarly his own. He never looked bored. He was learning just as much as we were, in fact more. He was learning his job, and from the first he saw that his job was more than to give the correct orders. His job was to lead us. So he watched, and noted many things, and never found the time hang heavy on his hands. He watched our evolutions, so as to learn the correct orders; he watched for the right manner of command, the manner which secured the most prompt response to an order; and he watched every one of us for our individual characteristics.

"We were his men. Already he took an almost paternal interest in us. He noted the men who tried hard, but were naturally slow and awkward. He distinguished them from those who were inattentive and bored. He marked down the keen and efficient amongst us. Most of all he studied those who were subject to moods, who were sulky one day and willing the next. These were the ones who were to turn the scale. If only he could get these on his side, the battle would be won.

"For a few days he just watched. Then he started work. He picked out some of the most awkward ones, and, accompanied by a corporal, marched them away by themselves. Ingenuously he explained that he did not know much himself yet; but he thought that they might get on better If they drilled by themselves a bit, and that if he helped them, and they helped him, ey would son learn. His confidence was Infectious. He looked at them, and they looked at him, and the men pulled themselves together and determined to do their best. Their best surprised themselves. His patience was inexhaustible. His simplicity could not fail to be understood. His keenness and optimism carried all with them. Very soon the awkward squad found themselves awkward no longer; and soon after that they ceased to be a squad, and went back to the platoon.

"Then he started to drill the platoon, with the sergeant standing by to point out his mistakes. Of course he made mistakes, and when that happened he never minded admitting It. He would explain what mistakes he
had made, and try again. The result was that we began to take almost as much interest and pride in his progress as he did in ours. We were his men, and he was our leader. We felt that he was a credit to us, and
we resolved to be a credit to him. There was a bond of mutual confidence and affection between us, which grew stronger and stronger as the months passed. He had a smile for almost everyone; but we thought that he had a different smile for us. We looked for it, and were never disappointed.

"On parade, as long as we were trying, his smile encouraged us. Off parade, if we passed him and saluted, his eyes looked straight into our own, and his smile greeted us. It was a wonderful thing, that smile of his. It was something worth living for, and worth working for. It bucked one up when one was bored or tired. It seemed to make one look at things from a different point of view, a finer point of view, his point of view.
There was nothing feeble or weak about It. It was not monotonous like the smile of " Sunny Jim." It meant something. It meant that we were his men, and that he was proud of us, and sure that we were going to do jolly well” better than any of the other platoons. And it made us determine that we would. When we failed him, when he was disappointed in us, he did not smile. He did not rage or curse. He just looked disappointed, and that made us feel far more savage with ourselves than any amount of swearing would have done. He made us feel that we were not playing the game by him. It was not what he said. He was never very good at talking. It was just how he looked. And his look of displeasure and disappointment was a thing that we would do anything to avoid. The fact was that he had won his way into our affections. We loved him. And there isn't anything stronger than love, when all's said and done.

"He was good to look on. He was big and tall, and held himself upright. His eyes looked his own height. He moved with the grace of an athlete. His skin was tanned by a wholesome outdoor life, and his eyes were clear and wide open. Physically he was a prince among men. We used to notice, as we marched along the road and passed other officers, that they always looked pleased to see him. They greeted him with a cordiality which was reserved for him. Even the general seemed to have singled him out, and cast an eye of special approval upon him.

"Somehow, gentle though he was, he was never familiar. He had a kind of innate nobility which marked him out as above us. He was not democratic. He was rather the justification for aristocracy. We all knew
instinctively that he was our superior - a man of finer temper than ourselves, a "toff" in his own right. I suppose that that was why he could be so humble without loss of dignity. For he was humble too, if that is the right word, and I think it is. No trouble of ours was too small for him to attend to. When we started route marches, for instance, and our feet were blistered and sore, as they often were at first, you would have thought that they were his own feet from the trouble he took.

"Of course after the march there was always an inspection of feet. That is the routine. But with him it was no mere routine. He came into our rooms, and if anyone had a sore foot he would kneel down on the floor and
look at it as carefully as if he had been a doctor. Then he would prescribe, and the remedies were ready at hand, being borne by the sergeant. If a blister had to be lanced he would very likely lance it himself there and then, so as to make sure that it was done with a clean needle and that no dirt was allowed to get in. There was no affectation about this, no striving after effect. It was simply that he felt that our feet were pretty important, and that he knew that we were pretty careless. So he thought it best at the start to see to the matter himself. Nevertheless, there was in our eyes something almost religious about this care for our feet. It seemed to have a touch of the Christ about it, and we loved and honored him the more.

"We knew that we should lose him. For one thing, we knew that he would be promoted. It was our great hope that some day he would command the company. Also we knew that he would be killed. He was so amazingly unselfconscious. For that reason we knew that he would be absolutely fearless. He would be so keen on the job in hand, and so anxious for his men, that he would forget about his own danger. So it proved. He was a captain when we went out to the front. Whenever there was a tiresome job
to be done, he was there in charge. If ever there were a moment of danger, he was on the spot. If there were any particular part of the line where the shells were falling faster or the bombs dropping more
thickly than in other parts, he was in it.

"It was not that he was conceited and imagined himself indispensable. It was just that he was so keen that the men should do their best, and act worthily of the regiment. He knew that fellows hated turning out at night for fatigue, when they were in a "rest camp." He knew how tiresome the long march there and back and the digging in the dark for an unknown purpose were. He knew that fellows would be inclined to grouse and shirk, so he thought that it was up to him to go and show them that he thought it was a job worth doing. And the fact that he was there put a new complexion on the matter altogether. No one would shirk if he were there. No one would grumble so much, either. What was good enough for him was good enough for us. If it were not too much trouble for him to turn out, it was not too much trouble for us.

"He knew, too, how trying to the nerves it is to sit in a trench and be shelled. He knew what a temptation there is to move a bit farther down the trench and herd together in a bunch at what seems the safest end. He
knew, too, the folly of it, and that it was not the thing to do - not done in the best regiments. So he went along to see that it did not happen, to see that the men stuck to their posts, and conquered their nerves.

"And as soon as we saw him, we forgot our own anxiety. It was: "Move a bit farther down, sir. We are all right here; but don't you go exposing of yourself." We didn't matter. We knew it then. We were just the rank
and file, bound to take risks. The company would get along all right without us. But the captain, how was the company to get on without him? To see him was to catch his point of view, to forget our personal
anxieties, and only to think of the company, and the regiment, and honor.

"There was not one of us but would gladly have died for him. We longed for the chance to show him that. We weren't heroes. We never dreamed about the Victoria Cross. But to save the captain we would have earned it ten times over, and never have cared a button whether we got it or not. We never got the chance, worse luck. It was all the other way.

"We were holding some trenches which were about as unhealthy as trenches could be. The Bosches were only a few yards away, and were well supplied with trench mortars. We hadn't got any at that time. Bombs and air torpedoes were dropping round us all day. Of course the captain was there. It seemed as if he could not keep away. A torpedo fell into the trench, and buried some of our chaps. The fellows next to them ran to dig them out. Of course he was one of the first. Then came another torpedo in the same place. That was the end.

"But he lives. Somehow he lives. And we who knew him do not forget. We feel his eyes on us. We still work for that wonderful smile of his. There are not many of the old lot left now; but I think that those who went West have seen him. When they got to the other side I think they were met. Someone said: "Well done, good and faithful servant."

"And as they knelt before that gracious pierced Figure, I reckon they saw nearby the captain's smile. Anyway, in that faith let me die, if death should come my way; and so, I think, shall I die content.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Nook eReader: Make Room for the Library of Alexandria

Where have I been all week? Wellllll.....Devin and Sandy gave me a Nook for Mother's Day. Oh my!

Here was a gift I didn't know I wanted until I got it! I had been thinking I might "have" to buy an eReader to read some of the new indie work out there, self-published by writers who offer eBooks only.

The connection I had not yet made, though, is that despite a lifetime of avid, eclectic reading, there are still so many great books I have not read.

Among my favorite genres are exploration and true adventure. Many of these books were previously available only in expensive originals, or in hard-to-find reprints. Most of my reading in the subject has been serendipitous as a result. With my Nook, suddenly hundreds of truly good books can be at my fingertips, for free!

After downloading a Bible,  I searched the Barnes and Noble Nook site for "Exploration", sorted by "Price, Lowest First" (to bring up the free books), started with "A", and the first book I downloaded was a gem previously unknown: "A Handy Guide for Beggars", published in 1918 by Vachel Lindsay.

In school, I was exposed only to Lindsay's Jazz Poetry. I did not know he had written his own version of the Great American Road Saga. Like Travels With Charley or A Walk Across AmericaA Handy Guide for Beggars records his impressions of the people who sheltered and fed him as he walked around the United States in the opening decade of the 20th century, paying his way with chapbooks and spontaneous lectures.

Among my favorite stories in the book are "House of the Loom" and the beautiful "Lady Iron Heels".  Politically correct? No. Incomplete? Maybe, but far less judgmental - and far more human - than most 60s anthropologists. Naive? Only the bored think that naive is a bad thing. I'll take naive over global sophisticates every day.

Arctic exploration fascinates me, probably because I shiver at 70 degrees. Peter Fruechen's books are favorites. When my grandson did a research paper on Matthew Henson this year, I gave him some Henson memorabilia I had collected: one of the cigarette trading cards printed in 1912 to honor Henson's achievement when he accompanied Peary in the race to reach the North Pole, and a school library book from 1957 that had a whole chapter on Henson.  Now, thanks to my little Nook, it is easy to read Matthew Henson's own 1912 book "A Negro Explorer at the North Pole".
Still in the "A's", I've added "Australia Twice Traversed" by Ernest Giles, 1880; "A Summer in Alaska" by Frederick Schwatka, 1893;  "An explorer's adventures in Tibet" by Henry Savage Landor, 1897; "Across the Everglades: A Canoe Journey of Exploration" by Hugh Willoughby, 1898, and "A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains" by Isabella Lucy Bird, 1879.  

When going through the list to download a book, be sure to scroll or page through to get to the free version - sometimes Barnes and Noble will mix in "for sale" versions that require payment.

I am still learning to use it, and still prefer to read an actual printed book when I can, but the e-reader is lightweight, and easy to carry in my purse. Sandy said she loves hers when traveling. I can see why - when I used to fly, I often carried 4 or 5 books in one of my carry-on bags, but today's weight and volume restrictions, that is no longer practical.

Reading free volumes on the Nook is like having a lending library next door that is open 24 hours a day. This is definitely a place where technology has its perks.

Heh! While I waited for Blogger to wake up from its Sunday afternoon nap so I could post this, I saw a similar post at "Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated". I'm guessing the time is not far distant when even the most passionate reader will no longer argue with the interior decorator over "merchandising" the book shelves!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Texas Primary: Sarah Palin Endorses Ted Cruz for Senate

Josh Painter, posting at Lone Star Conservative and at The Sarah Palin Journal, breaks the good news: Sarah and Todd Palin have endorsed Ted Cruz, Texas Republican candidate for Senator!There are a lot of people interested in this Senate seat, that was held for too long by a woman who finally retired. Ted Cruz is a good candidate, with solid conservative credentials, and will make a good Senator for Texas and for America.

UPDATE 8/3/12: Ted Cruz won the runoff by a whopping 13 points, and is now the Republican candidate for US Senate!

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Real Life Julia

President Obama's campaign film "Julia" is getting a lot of attention - and ridicule right now. Here's a true life parallel. Name/identification is of course omitted but this all really happened with one single woman - not a
"composite" or a "fictionalized representation".

Once upon a time I worked in the subsidized housing field, and we helped a lot of people have better living conditions - a private/public partnership that worked very well. But while we served many people who had been fully self supporting most of their lives, there were also other situations.

This event really happened:

A public housing tenant went out on a frosty morning very early, before the posted time when sidewalks would be de-iced, fell and hurt herself. It was what once would have been called "an accident".

Because she hit her head when she fell, she went to the doctor to be sure she didn't have a concussion.  Fortunately, she wasn't injured other than a couple of bruises.

But she called her lawyer anyway.

Now, this pleasant lady had serious health problems that prevented her from working, and her total income was from SSI. The health problems arose at a young age, and she had not paid in enough to draw Social Security Disability, which would have been an "earned" benefit in the same way we pay for our own Social Security or IRAs.  SSI, on the other hand, is a welfare program - necessary and important to help people - including this lady who really did need it - but not earned in any way.

She also lived in subsidized housing where her rent was based on her (government paid) income, and her utilities were included in her rent. The government paid the bulk of the actual cost of her apartment and utilities. And of course, she paid the rest with money the government gave her via SSI.

Being on SSI, this nice lady's medical needs were covered by Medicade, which at that time prohibited doctors from billing anything to their Medicade patients, so she had no copayment. Her doctor visits, tests, and medications were all free to her. The government picked up the cost for all of it.

To recap, the government gave her money, a place to live, food to eat, and  medical treatment. And now, she thought she'd see if the government would pay her even more money for being injured.

When I got the letter from her lawyer, I just picked up the phone and called him. I told him we were very glad this nice lady had not been hurt in her fall, that had occurred before daylight, before our posted ice-removal time, and that if he needed anything further to please contact me.

Never heard another word from him, and she and I continued to have a pleasant professional relationship.

She really was a very nice person, pleasant to talk with, kept her apartment clean, and got along with her neighbors. She didn't seem or act selfish or demanding. She was someone you'd never think of as milking the system.

But she didn't really comprehend that the government was paying for everything in her life. I really think she just thought she should take advantage of what was available since it would help her. She never thought
of herself as someone who would milk the system.

And I don't think she ever recognized that, despite the benefits coming from different agencies, the money all came from the same source: taxes paid by the rest of us.

 Many of the things President Obama wants to do are giveaway programs that will only benefit people who are already taking part in so many freebie programs that they can't keep up with them (like free internet & cable for kids getting free lunch, and free cell phones for medicade recipients), and other things are just gimmicks (like the free college tax credits) that will put tax dollars into greedy pockets without actually improving the lives of those who THINK they will be helped (like expanded food stamp programs). Still others are failed programs that exist only because they have been around so long (like Head Start)

It has to start stopping sometime, and that sometime is this November. When Barack Obama asks "Are you in?", just say no to "the In Crowd", and help America recover its self respect.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Sunny Skies are Aqua Blue...

 5/3/12 *Bumped*  (originally posted 4/30/12) Still time to appreciate Christopher's art with your vote! :-)

I love this image. It's a photo taken in Mozambique. Like all that is wonderful in traditional tropical art, it presents happy, healthy children in their own element: peeking through a doorway and laughing as their picture is taken, uncaring that their bright eyes and glowing faces are going to be shared with people far, far away.

The light, sea and sky are reflected in the worn layers of white and turquoise paint on the adobe house, with the sandy stucco showing through, in the whitewashed, hand-worn-smooth wooden door.

It is not a perfect paradise, but the photo reminds us that in the beautiful innocence of childhood, paradise awaits when we open our eyes each morning: it's the breakfast our mama gives us, the tree growing in our yard for us to climb, the warm comfort of brothers and sisters to play with: even in one of the most desperately poor countries of the world. 

Our wonder-full friend, digital artist Christopher Gaston took this amazing photo while visiting Mozambique, and titled it "Mozambique: Land of Hope". He has entered it in a contest, and he needs to get 250 votes for his photo to advance to the next round. Please visit the contest, and if you appreciate this image of giggling children peeking through a doorway, please vote for it by clicking here.

* Title comes from the Bob Dylan song that goes: "I'd like to spend some time in Mozambique... The sunny skies are aqua blue..."

Monday, April 30, 2012

President Obama's Joke is Crude, and Demeaning to American Moms

At the White House Correspondents Dinner Saturday night, President Obama, the President of the United States, made a joke I can't even post it here, on my family-friendly blog.   The text and video can be found at the Washington Post, where they try to laugh off the crudeness by pretending it's always been that way, and that we should just "Relax. Surrender. Try to make the best of it."

When I first saw this, I thought surely someone had made it up as a parody, that it could not be true our President would tell such a joke.

So I went and watched the tape, and heard it with my own ears. Send the children out of the room before listening to this speech - it even opens with the sound of a toilet flushing. The joke I am most disturbed by begins at about 8:40 into the recording.

Yes, I know he always makes inappropriate jokes, and inappropriately about people he doesn't like, but this is indecent.

The joke opens with the line Sarah Palin used: "What's the difference between a Hockey Mom and a Pit Bull?" But the punch line is no part of that original joke.

Instead, the punch line is a disgusting twist on an old locker room joke that most respectable men would not repeat in any form, much less in public - much less in front of a microphone.

The Washington Post described it as "...the one that got a slow-build laugh as the audience took a while to get it". No... they got it alright, the "laughter" was nervous and shocked. The First Lady looked shocked as well. There were some looks exchanged.

What is wrong with him? Does he have no sense of respect for the office or for the American people?

What kind of bubble do his speechwriters and advisors live in that they would allow him to go in public and say such immoral things?

All over America, women who love their children and cheer them on at sports events think of themselves as "Hockey Moms", as well as "Soccer Moms", "Little League Moms", "Softball Moms", "Peewee Football Moms", "Snack Moms", and other "Team Moms".

President Barack Obama used this vulgarity to try to demean Mrs Sarah Palin, a private citizen of the United States of America, a wife, mother, grandmother and a decent Christian woman.

In doing so, he has shown thoughtless contempt and disrespect for every woman in America. And he has shown something about his judgement, not just as President, but as a person that is very disturbing.

4/2/12 Update: Thanks, Pundit & Pundette. for the sidebar link in "Recommended Reads"!

10/10/2016  Update: The Official Transcript - still with the joke intact - is found on the White House Website, under "Briefing Room: Speeches and Remarks"  "For Immediate Release April 29, 2012
Remarks by the President at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner"
and the original video is on CSPAN:


31 Things to Do With The Grandkids (Even Teenagers) This Summer

 Summer is nearly here. Time for the Grands - even if they are "old" teens - to come and visit! Don't wait for them to invite themselves - call and ask their parents when they can come spend a few days with you.

You don't need to spend much money to entertain them. Most of the things you will do with them are so new to the kids it will be an adventure even if it is something you do daily. Even busy schedules will have a few free days or a long weekend sometime in the summer. You will be tired when they leave but you will never regret it - and they will remember the time their whole lives.

Here are some of the things we've done on school breaks or in the Summer:

Take them to church. Doesn't matter if they don't bring dress clothes - kids don't dress up for church now anyway!

Hang a porch swing for them to swing in.

 Go bowling with them!

 Take them to Dairy Queen for Banana Splits and Blizzards.

Give them colored pencils and paper and let them make Get Well cards or Birthday Cards.

Learn to bake together.

Eat German food!

They never get too old for Legos. Don't get rid of those plastic bricks - watch how quickly they pull them out and start building with them again.

Let them give the dogs a bath!

Let them sub at your Bunco night!

Take them volunteering with you.

Go to the Zoo!

Show them the old family pictures.

Take them with you to get an accupuncture treatment!

Let them have some free time to find their own things to do around the house.

Take them fishing!

Take them to an antique shop. Or a gift shop. But don't buy anything - just look at stuff and talk about it with them.

Try on hats!

 Introduce them to a baby donkey!

Let them drill holes in stuff.

See if Vacation Bible School needs volunteers - Two of ours come every year for a week just to go to the community Vacation Bible School. Cade and other older boys help with outdoor games for the little kids, and Bre helps by keeping the babies in the nursery.

Teach them to dance! (ok we didn't do this one but if I knew how to dance I would!)

Take them to see local talent perform at the Coffee House. 

 Show them your favorite old movies!

Take them to the flea market, or an auction.

Buy them cheap light-up sunglasses.

Take them to see their ancestor's graves.

Get them to move the wood pile for you and bite your tongue when they start chasing lizards - let them do it!

Teach them about Doodle Bugs.

 Go for a walk!

Give them lots of hugs!

They might even leave you a little love note. :-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Girl Next Door, & Her Parents: Helping Our Neighbors Choose Life

When I was 16, a friend came over one night, hysterical. She was pregnant, her "boyfriend" had rejected her, and her parents were demanding she have an abortion. Her whole world was coming down around her, her heart was breaking and she didn't know what to do but run away.

This was something I had never dealt with before, but God helped me to say the right things - and she agreed to go back home if I would go with her to talk with her folks.

Her parents were not bad or unloving people. My friend had been a late-life baby, born after their other children were grown and gone. Her parents were still in love with each other, and they had been making plans for their life once this daughter went out on her own. In middle age, they felt they had already postponed their plans once, to raise her, and they had a knee-jerk reaction of "Oh no, not again."

This was in the early 1970s, shortly after Roe v Wade. The sweet photos of infants curled in their mama's womb and pro-life posters with Mother Theresa's honest words were all in future. The locusts humming "choice, choice, choice" were dominating the talk, lulling decent people into thinking that maybe sometimes abortion might be "ok" for some people. Maybe they just didn't know any better.

So we went to her house, and her parents gave us all the reasons why she should not have this baby, why they were not willing to have this baby. As they talked, I looked out the window into the back yard, where her father had mowed a message to her mother into the grass: "I love you", it read.

God brought the Edna Gladney Home to my mind, and I asked her parents if they had heard of it. They had not. I told them it's a place she can go, if she wants to let her baby be adopted by a family who cannot have children of their own. I told them there'd be no cost to them, she can continue her school there in a sheltered place with other girls, and she can meet the couple who will love and raise her baby. Their grandchild.

The more I talked, the more they relaxed. They didn't really want to force their daughter into an abortion. They liked the idea that she would not have to be pregnant in her home town, that she'd be safe from prying eyes and nosy busybodies, that their daughter would be supervised and have counseling to help her with the emotions of her predicament. They liked the idea that there would be little disruption to their own lives and plans.

They saw a way out.

And that is what happened. My friend went to the Edna Gladney Home, had her baby, met the baby's adoptive parents, and returned home to her grateful parents. Changed lives for two families, and a loving, Godly outcome.

The poster above is a Ron Paul quote. When I saw it,  it reminded me of this event in my youth. My friend's baby is in their late 30s now, perhaps with children and maybe even grandchildren of their own. Many generations of love were made possible by my friend's courage and love for her baby.

Young women and young men, you are never too young to teach your elders how to respect life. Put Pro-Life Posters in your room, give them as gifts to your friends, talk with the adults around you, remind them that science says every conception is a baby, and God says every baby is a blessing. "Teach your parents well."

A baby raised in the home of adoptive parents has double the love: the love of his birth mother who gave him life and offered him to God by placing him in the arms of a grateful mother-in-waiting, and the love of his adoptive mother who every month for years prayed and hoped and longed for THIS child to love with all her heart.

What other things can one of us do to help a person in our neighborhood find the love they need to choose life?  Please share your thoughts in the comments! (PS: I accept anonymous comments here when they are loving, and loving privacy in these matters is very important).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

"God Uses Failures"

"I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

A great place to visit today is "Bread upon the Waters", where Miss QR has posted The Sensational Nightingales singing "Standing on the Promises of God". I love the songs she picks each Sunday. Lifts me up and gets me singing merrily as I go!

If anyone thinks failure means they can no longer reach their dreams or be an amazing Christian leader, this sermon from Pastor Duane Sheriff will give you good cause to think again. God has lifted up some terrible sinners and brought mighty works to happen through them. It's time to put your failures to work for the cause of goodness in our world. Watch, and rejoice - then go out with Christ and conquer the world!

Pastor Duane Sheriff - God Uses Failures by urbanminingco

We began attending a Victory Life congregation last summer. I've been an active, involved Christian my whole life (although my relationship with denominations has been "stormy"!), and this ministry is from God in a down to earth way that is perfect for our times. More of Pastor Sheriff's sermons can be found at his website. If you don't have broadband for streaming, you can order cds for free - no charge at all. Have a blessing today!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Roses & Pecan Trees are Blooming!

 These are from the only rosebush that survived the drought, but oh aren't they gorgeous! Paul commented that they "are almost florescent": a beautiful orangey coral color.

Just as glorious in their own way are the fresh, day-glo green, male pecan tree flowers. You can see the long strands of pollen-rich catkins hanging in clusters. The female flowers are too small to see, but they are just above the catkins - Pecan trees only make female blossoms if all conditions are right: enough water, enough sugars and starches....and to date no one has figured out a scientific way to consistently predict the crop. It is so unique each year that pecans are called "God's crop" by the botanists and growers who study these trees.


I am betting on a great crop from our trees this year, in part because it has been several years since we had a bountiful one, and we've had good rain (thank you, Father God, for answering our prayers and sending rain to tide Texas over despite all predictions to the contrary. The drought is not gone, but we are grateful things are much improved in most of the state).

One of our trees is a native pecan that has the sweetest nuts. I gathered 100 pounds (before shelling) from it alone our first year here. We are just finishing them up (shelled and froze them in vacuum packs), so it would be a great blessing to have a new crop to stock up again.

If you want to produce as much of your own food as possible, do consider nut trees. You can have them in cities, and even a small lot can have a pecan tree. They produce a huge amount of high-calorie, healthy food with minimal effort once they are established. Pecan trees will not grow everywhere, but here they just come up from forgotten nuts that get buried. So look around and see what grows well where you live, and add the best possible "Edible landscaping" to your yard! :-)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Victory! A World War American Homefront Collection

Well I had planned to blog about starting the garden, but Pat's latest antiquing "Take A Trip" got me thinking it has been a while since I shared some of my World War I & II "Home Front" collection. So let's do that first, then we'll talk gardening (maybe even Victory Gardening!) later.

I've blogged before about the shop-made toys of the WWI and WWII eras: how Germany and Japan had previously been the source of most playthings, trinkets and knicknacks found in the "5 & 10 Cent Stores", but when war started, those imports were cut short. In addition, local factories all converted to making necessities. So the wartime sources for toys were local small workshops, print shops and mom-and-pop side businesses all over America. 

Here's a cardboard playset called "Forward March". The many little soldiers are diecut standees, and the board opens out as a map on which to array the armies.

The little set of red and yellow ships, tanks, and "Big Bertha" type guns are molded composition, died with cochineal and yellow food coloring.

The carved and wood burned "Tank Bank" has little wheels on the bottom, a place to insert pennies for saving, and it is a souvenir of Victoria, Texas. Sometimes known as "poker work", by using a poker or soldering iron to decorate it, no paint was needed. Electric woodburning tools were a popular Christmas gift for kids & adults for many decades.

That little growling bomber plane is a pinback, probably a bit of sweetheart jewelry worn by a mother, sister, wife or girlfriend of a guy in the brand-new "Army Air Corps", which was the forerunner of today's Air Force.

Ever-popular Jigsaw puzzles reflected hopeful themes during the war, and this one titled "Welcome Home" probably gave a serviceman's family much comfort as they dreamed of the day their boy would return from where-ever  Uncle Sam had sent him. The box prominently features the "Buy Savings Bonds for Victory" advertisement.

The "Buy War Savings Bonds and Stamps NOW" notice is in a deck of Russell Artcraft Pinochle playing cards. Card games were a HUGE source of entertainment in those days, and nearly every family had a card table they could set up to play on. Couples got together and played rummy or bridge or pinochle or Canasta (Canasta was THE game in my family! Anybody wanna play?)whenever they had the opportunity.

The Victory theme was everywhere! These are two of my favorite little items: a spool of thread and a little box of bobby pins. The Victory Hair Pins' "Vicky victory - Hair Aid Warden" (playing on the "Air Raid Warden" who helped coordinate evacuation plans for each neighborhood), and a sewing thread company's mascot, "the Corticelli Kitten" in his own little kitty helmet, with weapon and bayonet, marching off to
serve his country. 

In both instances, the cute themes reflect serious rationing of raw materials as well as manufactured goods and food items: the hair pins were meant to be carried back to the beauty shop for reuse on your own hair, just as we carry our shopping bags today, because "Uncle Sam needs the Steel!", and the Belco thread was a substitute for unobtainable silk and nylon, both of which were being consumed as parachute material for our fighting men.

I keep running out of "blog space" before I get to the books, albums, and paper items in my collection. Oh well, there's always next time!  If you collect Home Front or World War memorabilia, please post and tell us about your favorite items in your collection, and why you appreciate them.


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