Monday, May 24, 2010


This from the Weather Underground local announcements for our area
The Red Lake river at Highlanding has risen nearly 5 feet this
evening which is indicative of the amount of rainfall that has
affected the area.
For those readers unfamiliar with this area, the Red Lake River is 3.5 miles north of us.  Highlanding is a little further north and west, I suppose about 8 miles away.

The flatness of this area and our high water table leads to standing water when we get heavy rains.  We got about  4 inches throughout the day, with the heaviest rain coming in an onslaught somewhere around 6:30 or 7:00 this evening.  The kids went out and "swam" in the puddles and ditches.

The school superintendent put out an automated phone call advising parents that on some bus routes the buses may not be able to navigate the unpaved roads in the morning.  So yes, it is very wet.

Many of our area farmers have just finished the first rush of seeding their crops.  We had early warming, which seemed optimistic.  Then so much wetness the tractors couldn't get into the fields (or would it be more accurate to say  "get out of the fields"?)  But many had very good planting last week.  A little rain might be good, but this much probably is not. I will pray for appropriate drying and warming to help everything grow.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Take no thought for the morrow...

It has been said that the number one cause of maternal stress is small families.  I can see how this would work.  When I just had a few kids, I thought I could take care of them.  Now I have to rely on God 100%.  I'm lucky to get through a day, let alone manage things within that day.

There are times the reality of raising a large family hits me harder than others.  I'm making preparations for my third child's confirmation next weekend.

In case anyone wonders why I don't do big confirmation parties....

2007 Jeremy Confirmation
2008 Matt Confirmation
2010 Louisa Confirmation
2011 Jeremy Graduation
2012 Elsie confirmation
2013 Matt Graduation
2014 Louisa Graduation, Clara Confirmation
2015 year off
2016 Elsie Graduation, Sophie Confirmation
2017 year off
2018 Clara Graduation, John Confirmation
2019 year off
2020 Sophie Graduation, Stella Confirmation
2021 year off
2022 John Graduation, Donna Confirmation
2023 year off
2024 Stella Graduation, Inge Confirmation
2025 year off
2026 Donna Graduation
2027 year off
2028 Inge Graduation

Now yes, this is ridiculous to worry this far ahead.  There are two Bible passages that seem to fit.

Matthew 6:34
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
James 4:13-15
Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 
I pray God is willing my kids should see these landmarks.  But it is really presumptuous of me to plan this far ahead. 

That said, you older kids, you see those blank years?  Those are the years that are open for weddings.  You see what I'm saying...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

To Caponize or Not to Caponize, That is the Question

The following excerpt is really of no import to me.  But I find it an interesting anecdote of life in the early 20th Century.  I'm reading In No Time at All, by Carl Hamilton.  The book is a collection of short essays of the major changes experienced in rural America during the various decades of the 1900s.  It is very interesting and sometimes humorous.

In the following excerpt, Mr. Hamilton is relating the the advent of visits from the county agent.  These college educated agricultural agents did have some helpful ideas.   But other shall see.
     Neutralizing the sex of male calves and pigs was a routine rainy-day farm operation.  Dad's jackknife (he felt as naked as without pants when he didn't have his favorite four-bladed knife in his pocket) had a special blade for surgical processes.  The glands of pigs and calves being located in obviously accessible places, this operation was no big deal.  Just a two man or a man-and-a-boy job.  Do it on a rainy day when no dust would get in the opening and recovery was remarkably rapid.
     With roosters, well, that's something else again.  The county agent, however, suggested that caponizing young roosters really was a home-talent operation and that the resulting price advantage of capons over roosters, with their added tenderness and size would make it a rewarding undertaking.
     Well, unfortunately, there turned out to be more "undertaking" in it than he--or we--had anticipated!  The rooster was stretched out on a board, the feathers were peeled off a part of his midsection, a small slit was made through the skin and flesh, and you peered into the darkness of his inner workings--hopefully within sight of his maleness.  Maleness in this instance was about the size of a pea and was to be removed with a pair of forceps sharp enough for the necessary detachment.
     In the fairly delicate little exercise, vision was totally restricted once the forceps were in the opening.  So by feel you snipped.  But if you mis-snipped, your bird didn't turn into a capon; he turned into an immediate fryer!  He quickly bled to death.  Well, you could only accommodate about so many fried chickens at a time without refrigeration.  Caponizing didn't catch on!.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Traveling Through An Unmarked Land

That's a rather poetic title for a post of somewhat, shall I say, subtle interest.

We live in an area that is very flat.  Very open.  Even the home sites are few and far between.

This has made jogging a bit intimidating for me at first.  When I walk, I don't have that problem.  I really enjoy walking and listening to the sounds and seeing the plants and animals.  I anticipate eventually experiencing that same enjoyment running.  But it just isn't happening yet.  To put it plainly, when I run, it feels like I am getting exactly... well...No Where.

When I do go out for my run/walk, I have been walking for one half mile to the minimum maintenance road near my house.  Then I turn and walk on the minimum maintenance road for one mile.  At that point I turn around and jog that same mile back toward home and then cool down by walking the final half mile home.  Is that too many details?

Tough, you're getting more.

Now, imagine with me.  Along that mile and a half route, before I turn around and get the same view from the other direction, there are no houses.  There is one woods back from the first road about one quarter mile.  The minimum maintenance road runs along a woods for about one quarter mile.  Other than that, there is nothing to look at.  Nothing to mark my progress coming or going.  Straight north, then straight west., Then back again, east and south.  It is flat enough that I can see the stop sign at the end of the minimum maintenance road when I turn around to jog my mile.  There it is.  Glowing red at me for a little over ten minutes.

So I have learned to mark my progress in little landmarks.  Micro-scenery. Very little things that I may not have even noticed, had I not been looking for a way to feel I was covering ground.

After I turn back toward home, it's always tough getting started.  That red-glowing stop sign is so very far away.  Do I really want to jog that far?  No.  Absolutely not.  I do not want to.

I make myself go as far as the culvert that comes into the ditch on my left.  Just that far.  Then I'll see how I'm feeling.  Next  I look for the (very little) rise, which is followed immediately by the fence post that has a diagonal support.  At this point I get to coast down a (very little) hill.

Somewhere along this first little bit is the gopher hole obstacle course.  I first swerve to the right and then to the left.  And then I see I am almost to the mound right in the middle of my wheel rut.  It has been shining ahead, a light tan, ever since I turned around.

Now I anticipate the drainage from the south.  Then the half section fence corner.

Next I come to the woods on the north.  Along that woods, I see first a section of young brushy growth, with a mound of dirt in front of it.  The mound of dirt has a "No Hunting," sign stuck on the top.  Then I pass a drainage.  And some bigger birch and poplar trees with another sign.  This one has no words.  The warning is worn off.  I suppose one might say it is a "worning."

We are almost there.  I have to jog up another small rise.  There is a small tree along the ditch just about at the top of the rise.  And then a short decline and back to the main road. 


Once I get to the top of the last rise, I usually get my little second wind. I pick up my pace like the proverbial horse to the oats waiting in the stable.

Once on the paved road, I walk home, huffing and puffing until my heart rate returns to normal. 

Having found my a little landmarks in an otherwise unmarked land, I am encouraged along my way.

Once I'm  home, the fun part.  I get to move my tickers! About 45 minutes of exercise and one more mile of jogging.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ethics, Unsubstantiated

Once upon a time, a coworker and I were debating the possibility of a universal set of moral principles based, not on the Bible or any other religious tradition, but upon some reasoned idea of right and wrong, good and bad.

I said to this coworker that I didn't think it was possible to not base moral principles upon religious tradition.  He asserted that it should be possible to come up with some sort of universal right and wrong.

I was reminded of this conversation recently while reading The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith.  Smith's protagonist, in the series of which this book is the fourth, is Isabel Dalhousie, a Scottish philosopher whose particular area of interest is ethics.  I'm not up on all the correct philosophical terminology, but if I had to put Ms. Dalhousie in a box with some title, I'd say she is a rational humanist.  She has no religion, per say and tends to think of herself as a-religious.  But in fact, her ability to reason is her religion.  She believes in it firmly and in her mind, every human situation has a consequence.  In order to be faithful to the precepts of her rational humanism, she must weigh the actions of every moment of her life on the basis of their ethical merits.  This leads me to wonder upon what one bases morality, when one has no foundation, nothing more substantial upon which to settle these matters than human wisdom.

This morning, while I was enjoying my morning cup of joe with a few chapters from The Careful Use of Compliments, I ran into the idea of guilt.  Guilt is a reality of human experience.  It's that law written in one's heart of which the Bible tells.  Both believers and unbelievers experience guilt.  It's also called having a conscience.

But, alas, a second reality of human experience is that our consciences are flawed because of the sin that pervades each of us.  And because of that we often feel guilt over things for which we are not responsible.

God has given each of us things for which we are responsible. In Lutheran theology, this is called vocation.  Most of us have several vocations, the obligations of which we must balance.  I am a wife, a mom, a homemaker, a home educator, a pastor's wife, a parishoner, the mom of some public school kids, a neighbor and friend, and a US citizen.  There are probably more titles I could find for myself.  Each of you readers of this blog has a unique set of vocations.

Isabel Dalhousie also has many vocations, although in her rational humanist world, I don't know whether she would call them vocations.  But mostly what she has is guilt.  She can never seem to figure out how to be nice and behave ethically toward everyone.  In this quote, she struggles with guilt even because of her annoyance over some biting midges.
     "Remember  drosophila from biology class?" Isabel said.  "The fruit fly?  They had two or three weeks, didn't they?  Two or three weeks to pack everything in.  I assume that the Highland midge has much the same.  Not much of a lifespan."
     "That doesn't make me feel sorry for them," said Lizzie.  "There are limits, you know."
     Isabel knew.  It was her biggest problem, after all:  how to draw limits to the extent of one's sympathy.  In the past, she had become involved in all sorts of difficulties by taking upon herself the problems of others; now she had resolved to be more practical about that, and was trying not to get involved in matters that she had no moral obligation to do anything about.  She was trying.
Of course, Isabel can't really not get involved.  First of all it wouldn't make much of story if the heroine didn't stumble upon a mystery in each installment.  But besides that, Isabel is always carrying on an internal dialog over what her moral imperative is in any given situation.   She has nothing but her own reason upon which to base her decisions.  And her reason often directs her toward multiple conflicting behaviors.

Each of my vocations carries its own set of responsibilities.  I cannot accomplish any of these tasks perfectly. I might be tempted to feel guilty if I can't do everything.  I think that "Supermom" might be a good word for the idea of doing everything and doing it really well.  But I am very definitely NOT a supermom.  I must prioritize.  If I keep in mind the Christian precepts of loving God above all things and loving my neighbor as myself, this helps me prioritize.  God has further specified that His married children must be a helper for their spouses, and those with children must train their children in God's law and the message of grace through Jesus Christ. These always must remain my highest priority.

My other vocations must fit around the edges of those top priorities.  Sometimes my interest is more or less toward one or another of these auxiliary vocations.  But when I am faithful to the first priorities, I need feel no guilt about the extent to which I am able to accomplish the other tasks I might attempt to fulfill.  Any pangs of conscience on that score are self-imposed.

And even when I don't fulfill perfectly the top priorities, I can trust to God's grace and Jesus' perfect life for me.  God has given me that.  He has credited to my name the perfect life of Christ.  What a relief!  What blessing!  What joy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Fat Cat Update

The aforementioned cat is no longer fat.  Yes, well, uh, I wasn't too far off on the 23 kitten guess.  This poor mama cat had ten kittens!

The poor mama:  Deliver ten kittens.  Fight off predatory animal.  Spend first night in a cloud of skunk spray.

So as of now, we have seven living kittens. 

Joe sprayed the mama and brood with his special recipe skunk spray.  After giving it time to do it's thing, he gently tipped the kittens out of the cat house and checked them over.  Removed the deceased ones. He was not able to determine whether the mama cat was skunk bitten. 

So for now the kittens and the mama are off limits to the kids.  Tomorrow Joe can get a better look at the mama.  It would be fairly traumatic if he had to put them all down due to skunk rabies worries.

But for mama cat's sake, I am somewhat relieved that three have died.  My goodness!  Ten babies!

Sorry if that's a cold hearted statement.  My oldest daughter just labeled it so.  I guess I'm glad she's tender hearted rather than cruel.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Misty Moisty Weekend


a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom.
I don't really have anything earth shattering to say; the rain has dampened my senses.

But they say that one must write on a blog if one wants to keep one's readers interested.  I don't really know how writing the nonsensical fruits of ennui will maintain the interest of a intellectual and witty readership such as mine.

I suppose we could start a nursery rhyme theme.  I will pick a nursery rhyme and make it fit the news of the day. 
It's been a misty, moisty weekend and rainy is the weather;
I'd like to see some sunshine, but I guess the Lord knows better.
The grass and trees are greening up;
The weeds are going nuts.
I sit inside and think that I will not take any walks.
Can you compete?  Or have your wits been similarly dampened?

Perhaps if you live in a substantially less damp clime, your wits have been made sere rather than dampened?