Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Those who know me well, know that I don't drink alcohol. At all. I have a number of what I think are great reasons and I might enumerate them here before I get finished. At the same time, though, I think that is one of those areas that is best left between a person's conscience and God. So, I'm not going to beer bash.
All that to say - yesterday, for the first time in my life, I bought alcohol. Not only did I buy alcohol, but I got the hard stuff - vodka.
Before you start inviting me to keggers, I'll explain: it's for a recipe. Now, I don't normally even buy cooking wines - never have. I just substitute beef broth or don't make that recipe. But I ran across a recipe for homemade vanilla on my favorite organic website. Apparently, all you have to do is buy some vanilla beans, stuff them in a bottle of vodka, and stick it in a dark place for 2 months. After that - voila! - vanilla! I mentioned that to Paul and he was really intrigued. For some reason, he's got an interest in vanilla. All our married life he has urged me to buy "real" vanilla. Yes, well, "real" vanilla is about 3 times the price of the imitation stuff, so I have generally resisted. Once, he had someone pick us up a few bottles on a trip to Mexico and that lasted quite a while. Of course, I have since found out that a lot of Mexican vanilla isn't truly vanilla at all. They often use something called "Tommy" beans, which, are potentially fatal to humans. Nice to know!
So, it's an experiment, of sorts. If the recipe turns out, then I'll have enough vanilla to last me for a long time. If it doesn't turn out, well, I'll be dumping some brown vodka down the sink. The boys think this is all quite hilarious. I commented to Will that I sure hoped the rapture didn't happen while that stuff is in the house - otherwise, what might people think? He wisely said, "Well, Mom, if the raptures happens, I don't think you need to be worried about anyone finding your vodka and being concerned about it." True enough. But we could die in a car accident, they could be cleaning out our house and then they'd find it and suddenly have an answer for all their wonderings about me.
I was planning to buy it Monday while grocery shopping. Then, I suddenly realized that I didn't have my driver's license, which they would surely demand to see. It was sitting at home in the copier. So, I put it back and picked it up yesterday. I was pushing Sam in the cumbersome cart that Hy-Vee stocks, the one designed to look like a race car. Sam is crazy about those things. The thought went through my mind that that was going to look really bad - to be pushing my preschooler around while purchasing hard liquor. Oh well. So, I got the bottle, double checked to make sure my license was where I could grab it easily, and went through the check out.
And what a blow to my ego it was when the pimply-faced clerk simply rang me up, took the security cap off the bottle, and sent me on way. He didn't even ask for my ID! So now I truly know that there is no way on earth I can pass for under 21...
Part 2: Why I Don't Drink
Like I said, I have some good reasons for this decision. It's one I hope my boys will choose, too. But I also know there are many, many Christians who haven't made the same choice and I'm not going to point fingers. If we're open to God's leading, conviction can happen at different points in different lives.
1. I tasted wine once. I was 12 and it was in my grandma's fridge. I think I would rather eat my own vomit. I have never tasted anything so vile in my life before or since.
2. I worked in a grocery store during my UNI years. Sometimes, I'd have to take care of can returns. There's nothing like smelling old beer cans to permanently create a distaste for the very thought of beer.
3. I have read all 31 Proverbs many, many times. And one subject that is referred to repeatedly is the use of alcohol. I have to believe there is a reason for those warnings and so, it just seems best to refrain all together.
4. I have children and I don't want alcohol in the home because of that. I don't want them to experiment when I'm not around. Now, I understand that could potentially be a weak argument because we do have guns in the home and I don't worry about that since we've trained the boys about their danger. But I like it (the argument) so I'm going to keep it, anyway.
5. The biggest reason has to do with Christian testimony. You can defend drinking any way you want to, but ultimately, it's a bad testimony. Alcohol consumption, like a number of other practices, is something associated with worldliness. Sure, it may be something that falls within the boundaries of Christian liberty, but how close to the world do we really want to get? Should that be our aim, as Christ-followers? I don't think so.
Now, does all this preclude buying a bottle of vodka so I can have my own organic vanilla? Well, obviously not, since that's what I've done. I'll be curious to see if the results are worth all the angst it produced before and after the deed!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks I am getting old, either. Yesterday, I was taking Will to church for his youth group party. Paul's parents came and got their van yesterday, so I had to drive the car that has been loaned to us - an '88 Chevrolet something or other (read: boat). I'm not used to driving such a long vehicle, so I was put-putting a long, getting the hang of it when Will commented that the vehicle behind us was getting ready to pass us. I said, oh that was fine. They probably assumed I was some little old lady out in her big car, skittish with the winter driving. And then when they would pass us, they'd be surprised to see it was me, instead of an old lady, doing the driving. Will seriously says, "Uh, Mom - you know, you're really not that young anymore!" So, I stand corrected!
Oh, good news, good news: I finally entered FW again after a 3 week hiatus and I won! I finally got back into the top 5 in the Masters division! And my story got 7th overall, so they're going to publish it. Here's the link:http://www.faithwriters.com/wc-article-level4-previous.php?id=37834 I didn't think it was all that great of a story, but somebody liked it. I tackled the subject of forgiveness from the viewpoint of a woman who had been terribly wronged (her sister slept with her husband). So, I was pretty tickled to get that bit of news this week.
We had Paul's work party last night. I ended up sitting by one of his boss' long-time girlfriend. We made polite conversation here and there. But then, they started the bingo games and Paul won a set of Paula Deen cookware. Well, I immediately saw that it was aluminum stuff coated with non-stick covering. I've only recently learned how dangerous that stuff is. So my heart sank a bit because the pans were so pretty - not that I have room for any more pans in my cupboards, anyway. So, I made a quiet comment about them needing to be stainless steel and the girlfriend heard me. Well, it turns out that she has recently started on the same quest as me - learning about natural health. We chatted non-stop for rest of the evening! I ended up giving her my card because her brother runs an organic farm or something around here so she's going to email with information about that. And I was writing down for her the "dirty dozen" list I recently learned about (the top 12 fruits and veggies you should always buy organic because of how porous they are). It was so nice! And Paul was able to trade the cookware for some hunting knives and camping lantern so all is good. Now I have to figure out how to return/get rid of the coffee maker I won!
I had to get my wedding ring repaired this last week. One of the prongs had broken off and, as it turned out, the whole head had to be replaced. So, UPS delivered it on Wed. and I soon realized that it's shorter than it used to be. The stone used to set up really high and now it sits right down on the band. I guess that's ok - I won't catch on things so much. But it just seems weird when I've been looking at it one way for the past 18 years.
Oh, I am feeling much better, now, too, which is good. So far the kidney stone isn't bothering me much. The weird/funny thing is that Dorothy called me Thurs. and we were talking and she says, "Oh, I have to tell you all about our drama yesterday." It turned out that George had ended up in the ER with his first-ever kidney stone. So, it was kind of weird for me to tell her, "Hey, I've got one, too!" But I'm staying out of the hospital with mine.
My favorite drug for colds is Advil Cold and Sinus liquidgels - great invention. So I went to buy some Monday. Here in Iowa we have to buy that behind the counter and show our license and they have to look us up and see how often we've purchased this. Pseudophedrine is the key ingredient in Advil Cold and also one of the needed ingredients in methamphetamine. Hence - the extra security. So, anyway, I handed my license to the pharmacy guy and he takes it and looks at it. Then, the next thing I know, he scurries over to his superior, who looks at the license, looks at me, and says brightly, "You got your hair cut!" So, apparently, the guy had doubts as to whether that was me in the picture!
Well, Paul's been working on our van, finally, and he just came in the house with bad news. I don't know what we're going to end up doing. You might continue to pray!
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
So, I'm really, really missing my bathtub these days. When my body is so achy and I feel chilled all I want is to submerge myself in boiling hot water. A hot shower just isn't the same.
Sam is lucky that he is not sick. I did my grocery shopping/Walmarting alone yesterday, which was great. I got home, only to be informed that the kid had swallowed a penny in my absence. My first inclination wasn't to be too worried. I even posted it on Facebook as kind of a ha-ha thing. Then I started getting these panicked emails from friends, "You have to get that child to an ER right away!" and so forth. A little concerned, I called our ER. They weren't all that worried. They said I could bring him in if I wanted, but if he was acting fine and eating and all that, then there was really nothing to worry about. So I stayed home. And he still seems perfectly fine. He's the first child I've had that has eaten money.
I finished up my holiday baking/candy making today. What a load off my shoulders! I have been so stressed about getting everything done. Now I just need to get some wrapping done and I am finished! Next year, I WILL be starting earlier, like in August. I just can't stand the stress of Christmas-time. My life is busy anyway, but then to add the pressures of baking, shopping, and wrapping about does me in. I want to enjoy Christmas and I never feel like I get to do that. I don't know. Maybe enjoying Christmas is only for children and old people - not for mothers, anyway.
We got the house closed up!!! In a blizzard. Seriously. Last Sat. night we had snow and blizzard winds. The insulation Paul has has to be put up with drywall because it doesn't have a backing. So I'm standing in the room that will be my office, holding up drywall while ice particles are flying through the rafters, stinging my face and eyes. I told Paul to stay up late and finish the job because surely, we wouldn't have church the next day. Well, we did! There was some drifting but we actually didn't get that much snow, so we didn't have any trouble getting there.
Ben was supposed to have his choir concert Sun. afternoon but they postponed that until next week. I suppose some of the school kids live in the country and were more snowed in than we were. I was relieved when I got that call.
I entered a story-finishing contest at Our Iowa magazine. They only gave you 300 words to work with. But I managed to pull something off. I have high hopes for that one - as do, I'm sure, about 300,000 other people who submitted stories!
Oh, and I won a $100 gift card last week from Fantastic Sams. The DM Register has a coupon insert every month and a drawing you can enter. I always send in my entry, not knowing if anyone actually wins. Apparently, they do. I think I'm going to have some subtle highlights put in with the gift card. I found a whole tuft of white hair yesterday in the back of my head. But I don't want high-contrast highlights, like I used to get - just something to cover the gray, er, white. I'll use the rest of the card to buy a bunch of shampoo, probably. Maybe.
Let's see, what else? Oh, we went to Mary Poppins last week! What a great evening. First we went to this organic, underground restaurant a couple of blocks away from the Civic Center. It's called The Oasis. Paul had done work there when it was something else. We tried two other restaurants, but they had 30 min. waiting times - on a Thurs. night! We were the only customers at this place. But the food and prices were great. Them being organic was a nice surprise.
The musical was fantastic. I have never seen anything like that! The special effects were just amazing! At the end, Mary Poppins glides across the audience, suspended on invisible wires and then disappears through a hole in the ceiling. I just sat there with my mouth open - I could not believe it! So cool! I'm so glad we got to go!
Well, I think that's all I know. We're still driving around George and Dorothy's van. I'm really surprised they haven't come to collect that yet. Paul is planning to crack the hood on the silver van this week. When? I'm not sure. He has a couple of side jobs he has to get to. He worked late last night, he's still working right now, tomorrow is church and Friday night is his company party. I sure hope I'm feeling better for that. They give away a lot of nice stuff at those parties. And it's another chance to dress up and go out - twice in two weeks! Living the high life!
Went back to Trader Joe's yesterday. As an experiment, I bought a package of organic butter, their regular butter, and a package at Aldis. I got them home and compared ingredient lists. The Trader Joes stuff is definitely better because it doesn't have the colorings and flavorings of the Aldi brand. But their organic says right on it that its made from cattle allowed to roam and eat - not kept in feed lots. But it's 2 1/2 times the price of the Aldi butter. I also bought a gallon of organic whole milk - almost double the price of non-organic milk. But, I guess you get what you pay for. Now, I did look at their tater tots and french fries but I didn't buy them because their second ingredient was vegetable oil. If I want that, I can get them at Aldis. I did, in fact. I am planning to order an organic cookbook off at that blog I've been studying (the gal who talked with our Sp. Moms group last month). Small changes!
Gotta keep moving. Otherwise, I'll collapse, I think. Hopefully, I can get to bed early again tonight. Until later, when I am much better...
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Here is Will with his two bucks that he shot Sunday afternoon. He's lucky he got to hunt at all. This was one of the most stressful weekends of my life and Paul's, too, I'm sure. Actually, it has been a whole season of stress, to be honest. The house project has stressed me out more than I probably realize - just the continual mess is enough to send me over the edge. But when you add the mess to the money factor and time and the rush to get the house closed in - argh! It's too much!
Well, my nice silver van went down at the end of Oct, as I mentioned before. It is still setting in front of the house where the tow truck delivered it. Paul, of course, has been so busy trying to get the house closed in, that he hasn't gotten to it - hasn't even popped the lid. Then, a couple of weeks later, his truck blew up - literally. He started it and something blew up in the engine. He almost has that repaired. So, we've been down to our old, '91, rickety red van.
We always go out to Council Bluffs for hunting weekend. The guys hunt for two solid days and I spend my time meeting up with old friends and shopping, so it's fun for all of us. So, we weren't sure what we were going to do about getting out to CB this weekend since the red van has been making a continual whining sound for the month we've been driving it. So, as I had written earlier, we had decided we'd have Will buy a car.
And we tried! We went to look at several last week and had finally found one we thought would work. But we couldn't test drive it until Friday. I hated waiting until the last minute like that, but it couldn't be helped. So, Paul arranged to get off work early on Fri. so we could get the new car. Only, we discovered that the brakes didn't work! ARgh! So now what?
Paul finally said that maybe we should get the whine taken care of in the red van before travelling. We stopped at an auto parts store, the guy listened, and said, "You need a new power steering pump." Paul was a little doubtful that that was the problem, but since he didn't know what the problem was, he went with that dx and bought a new pump. We got home at 6pm. And remember, we still had a 2 1/2 hr trip to take, plus the guys needed to be up between 5-6am to hunt.
Three hours later the pump cracks as Paul is trying to put it in. Now we have no vehicles and it's 9 at night. We had already been wondering if the Lord was trying to tell us we weren't supposed to go to CB this weekend! But we managed to get the part needed to fix this. Paul called his supervisor who lives in Des Moines and he ran to the auto parts store. We borrowed our neighbor's truck to go there. I felt so bad having to borrow a vehicle but our neighbors were absolutely insistant. They live a block away and they wouldn't let Paul walk over in the cold. They sent their son to pick him up and then had Paul drop him off on his way out of town. And they wouldn't take any gas money!
Finally at 12:30 in the morning, Paul has the power steering pump in. And then he discovers that the van is still whining. He quickly finds the part that is making the noise. He just spent 6+ hours fixing something that didn't need to be fixed! Double ARGH! So, dead to the world, we take off. I drive because I'd gotten a little bit of nap while they worked on the van.
The drive is uneventful until I am exiting the interstate in Council Bluffs. I notice that the van seems to shift on its own, but figured I am imagining things since I am so tired and have just spent the last 2 hours listening to George Norrie talking about alien spaceship landings and such. The van starts making a louder than normal whine, so loud that everyone wakes up. We get to the highway below Paul's parents' driveway and the van dies. It won't shift at all. The transmission went out! A sheriff comes by and drives Paul up the driveway and Paul's dad comes and hooks the van to his pickup and we get pulled up.
At 5am, Paul and I fall into bed, just stunned. What are we supposed to do now? We are more than two hours from home and have no way of returning home. We prayed together, asking for wisdom. That's all we could do. Why is this happening?
The weekend actually turns out pretty good. Will gets his deer and I still got to go shopping with Kathy, which was wonderful! We drive his parents' van back to Swan with plans to have George and Dorothy come out sometime this week in their truck with our dead deer. And then they can drive back their van. A few weeks ago a gentleman at church had commented to Paul that if we needed an extra vehicle, he had one we could sure borrow. So Paul called him and he and his wife are bringing it out to our place (a full 40 min away from their house) today. And then Paul plans to get our silver van going hopefully even this week.
This is all so rotten, but yet, it's just life, you know? Yes, it's an inconvenience to have all this happening at once, and as my sister-in-law commented today, it's an infringement on my comfort level. But yet, I can't complain. I don't have a terminally ill child, my husband is employed, we have a house, I don't have to fear the Muslims in the next village coming to rape, murder, and terrorize my family some night - and so on. Life is not bad at all for me. It's terribly frustrating at the moment, but it's not bad!
We'll get through this and someday, maybe even laugh about it (although I'm hard pressed to imagine that reality right now). In the meantime, prayers would be appreciated 1) To know what to do about our ruined red van. We put it on Craig's List and got numerous hits already, so apparently, we can plan on collecting a few hundred for junking it 2) That Paul can get the silver van going 3) That we won't wreck the loaner vehicle that's been so graciously provided 4) That we'll know what to do about purchasing a car for Will 5) That our attitudes would remain right and that others could see Christ in us in the midst of this irritating time.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The Unsuspecting Porn Star
Nestled deep in the heart of the Ozark mountains lies the small town of Ira Rogers, where very little ever changes. Oh, the young people grow up and eventually become the old folk, but the attitudes of the people have remained largely the same since 1838, when Ira Thompson stumbled onto this piece of land, half drunk and heartsick over the loss of his best hunting coon, Roger. He liked what he saw, stayed, and eventually the town sprang up around Ira and Roger II.
It was a cool November morning and Young Mitch Howse stood in the produce aisle of the local Shop! And! Save! He was mentally debating the merits of oranges vs. nectarines when Harold Culberts, the owner of Shop! And! Save!, ambled up.
“Well, hello there, Young Mitch!” he called out. Mitch Howse had been “Young Mitch” since birth, his father being “Old Mitch.” Mitch already knew that someday he would be ninety and still be called “Young Mitch.” That’s how things were in Ira Rogers.
“Alone today?” Harold questioned.
“Ma’s a bit under the weather, so she sent me instead.” Mitch explained. The Howse family lived on the outskirts of town. Originally farmers, they now made their money installing and pumping septic systems. But old habits die hard, and like most farmers of a previous era, the Howses came into town only weekly to run their errands.
“Ah, I see,” said Harold. “Well, I sure hope she gets to feeling better soon! Thanksgiving’s coming up and she’s not going to want to be feeling poorly for that.”
“Oh no,” Mitch assured him. “I’m sure she’ll be fine soon.”
“So, how’s that sister of yours?” Harold continued.
Cathy Howse was one of the few young people of Ira Rogers that had departed. Valedictorian of her graduating class, she took off for college and from there went to work for a film production company in Chicago. Everyone regarded Cathy with an equal mixture of fascination, envy, and pity.
Mitch brightened, “Oh, Cathy’s doing great! She just finished up her second foreign film and said it turned out really great. She can’t wait to get started on another one!”
If Young Mitch had been looking closely, he would have noticed the skin on Harold’s neck turning a bright, rosy color. Harold stammered something about needing to check his lettuce and abruptly walked away.
“Really?” chortled Les Grant, Harold’s closest ally since grade school, “I always knew there was somethin’ about that girl!” He moved his hands in the air, making the universal symbol for a well-endowed woman, “ Imagine - a porn star, right from Ira Rogers!”
“That’s what he said, all right!” agreed Harold.
Les leaned in, “Hey --” he said, “Do you suppose she’s got some of those fake -- you know?” He cupped his hands in the general region of his own chest.
Harold guffawed, “Guess we’ll see ourselves! Next week is Thanksgivin’ and Cathy’s never missed comin’ home for a holiday yet.”
That night as Harold spooned his chili in, he suddenly remembered the news of the day and shared it with his wife, Lucille.
“Oh, Harold!” Lucille exclaimed, “You know that can’t be true -- not little Cathy Howse!”
“I heard it with my own ears” Harold declared solemnly.
“Harold! You couldn’t hear the trumpet of the Lord calling you to Glory with those ears of yours!” Lucille countered.
“I know what I heard” insisted Harold, “Cathy Howse makes porn films up there in Chee-cago!” He rested his elbows on the table and mused, “I wonder if she still goes by “Cathy” or if she changed her name to ‘Cinnamon’ or ‘Jasmine?’” He looked at Lucille, “That’s what they do, you know -- all them porn stars change their names.”
“And just how would you know that?” Lucille asked pointedly. She made a hmph - ing noise and got up from the table.
The next Saturday Cathy Howse, who had arrived in Ira Rogers the day before, accompanied her mother to the Shop! And! Save!. As they strolled through the aisles, Cathy began to feel funny. It seemed as if everyone was looking at her -- and grinning. And why had that bag boy nearly tripped over himself trying to open the door for her? Cathy decided that perhaps she’d just lived in Chicago for too long…and began to mentally calculate how many days before she could return.
“And the tongue is a fire…” James 3:6