Monday, August 29, 2011

Vacation on a Dime: Part 3

We've invested over the years in a collection of canvas folding chairs.  Those were hard to spend the money on, but we are so glad we have them. A few years ago, we camped with friends who had a smaller family than ours.  Their kids couldn't understand why we didn't each have our own chairs.  I tried to explain that when travelling with camping gear for so many people, there just isn’t room for everything we might want.  But by now, adding a little at a time, we are up to five big chairs and two child sized chairs.

Another camping tip coming...the small folding chairs work very well for the little ones to sit up to the picnic table benches while eating.  Much better than trying to sit up to the table to reach. 

We've also tried using a folding booster chair at the table, strapping it onto the bench somehow, but it doesn't work as well.  We do bring it along though, if we have room, because it's one more seat for somebody during campfire time.  We wouldn't have bought it just for camping, but since we have it, we bring it along.

We also always have our two umbrella strollers.  They don't take up too much room, and are very handy.  We use them to send the kids to fill the collapsible water bags, the 2 gal. thermos we bring, and the stock pot for hot water.  Somebody always sits in them when we are around the campfire; and of course they get used for just plain taking the little ones on walks (or for sending the medium children on a walk with the younger ones while the parents and the biggest kids set up or take down camp).

Tip number three:  Learn how to mend your camping equipment.

Our big accomplishment this year was to mend all the fraying and ripped canvases on our folding chairs.  Elsie and I sat out in the garage for about two hours one afternoon and evening before vacation working on them.  It was so nice this year to not have to keep re-adjusting the canvas in order to find the lesser ripped sections to hold the chairs together. We did four upper shoulder area repairs and two arm rest repairs.

Matt's chair had a broken foot, the plastic thing that holds all the legs in one spot, but allows them to shift when folding.  Joe helped me pop out the rivets.  then he helped me expand the size of the hole a bit and filed them smooth.  I threaded para-cord through the parts and knotted it off with enough room for the movement it needs when folding and unfolding. 
Elsie said to me, "Do you think regular people just go out and buy new chairs?"  It made me smile.  I was glad to share that thrifty lesson with her, and that she picked up on it without me even mentioning it. 

Amy Dacyczyn, of The Tightwad Gazette fame, always said to calculate a wage for yourself in order to determine if something is worth spending the time on.  With five different broken camp chairs to work on, at about what are they this year, $20 each? I figure that comes to about $20/hour.  Elsie and I each worked two full hours; Joe and I probably worked about 1/2 hour each on the foot of the one.  Not a bad was to spend a couple of hours.

We were very pleased with our accomplishments.

Last year was a "fix the tents" year.  We invested in the elastic cording, and several different diameters of tent pole parts.  We still have two small tents for which we can't find the small diameter of pole we need, but someday I will find something that works.  Those little ones don't take up too much room sitting on the shelf. 

All the others started out last year's vacation with good poles and elastics and ends.  This year we have one pole section to replace before packing away the tents. We also have nylon and netting for patching.  We haven't used it yet, but I noticed our big tent has several holes in the netting.  I'm tempted to just use duct tape, but we shall see.

Vacation on a Dime: Part 2

Rule Number Two

The morning we were staying at Ron and Val's, I took a walk bright and early.  We had a somewhat slow morning with Val's family, sharing a cup of coffee after breakfast and a visit on the deck.  Eventually we got moving and continued on our way.  We already had one pair of broken flip-flops, so we stopped at a second hand store in Bozeman before continuing to West Yellowstone, MT.  It's very hard to stop at a thrift store on vacation, because there is just so little room in the vehicle for anything extra.  There were two pairs of flip-flops in the sizes we general need, so I bought both to have a spare.  Flip-flops don't take up too much room and they do have a tendency to break at rather inconvenient times.

We arrived early enough to relaxedly set up our campsight.  

This is rule number two for the Vacation on a Dime method.  Tent camp.  Camp cheap.  Camp primitive.  But buy tents with good rainflies.  Trust me.  Really.  It can make all the difference in the world between a successful and unsuccessful camping experience.

You will have to develop a routine that works for you.  Ours took several years to perfect, but I think we've got it now.  You will need to spend a little money on camping equipment, but not all at once.  As your family grows, you can add on to your equipment.  You can find many things at yard sales, thrift stores, and end of season clearance.   We've also gotten some things through the local radio classifieds if you have access to them where you live.  We've done "wanted" ads through that venue several times, and almost always have more responses than we need. 

Please understand that for us, a campsight involves quite a bit of setting up.  This time, because we were in Bear Country, we only used three tents.  Under less risky circumstances, we'd have put a couple more middle sized kids in their own tent, but we wanted the youngest middles with others this time.  So we set up only three tents.  We also decided against the screen tent this year, but sometimes we use that, too.  Jeremy wasn't with us this year; he prefers to sleep in a screen rather than in a tent.  We also use it if there is little shelter from the sun, or when mosquitoes are bad.

We have a rolling camp table, since we don't really all fit at most picnic tables anymore.  This was purchased with a Cabela's gift card from someone who wanted to give our family a treat they knew we could use, but wouldn't really want to spend the money on regularly.  We also drag along two small folding tables, one for a food prep table, or fireside cooking table; the other for a washing up station.  Since we try to find the cheapest place possible to camp, this often means pit toilets.  So I always have a bag of water on the washing up table, with bar soap along side, and a towel hanging above. 

As far as other camping supplies, we have a camp stove that we use sometimes, and Joe's become an expert fire cooker.  And for emergencies, we always have a sterno candle along for which we have a little frame that folds flat; but when set up, it is like a stove burner.  We have a large aluminum stock pot we use for heating water.  It's filled after each meal and sits on the fire grate almost all the time so we almost always have hot water for washing dishes after a meal.

As an aside, since we Americans don't often need to know this skill any more, I'm going to share this hot water tip.  When water is boiling, it takes only a scant one part hot water to two parts cold, to be as hot as I can stand it for washing dishes.  I can't tell you the number of times I've put in too much hot and have to dump some out to make room for enough cold.

We have a large tote bin in which we store all our camping supplies.  It's quite a large bin and in some vehicles it's hard to find a place to stash it.  I might opt for two smaller ones, were I to do it again.  In this van, for instance, the cargo space is such that we have to put it between the two front seats, the long way.  So there is no leg room in the middle seat behind.  We just need to make sure the person sitting there is a carseat child who won't need the leg room.

Within the bin we have most everything we need to camp.  Make a list of what you need, and look for those items second hand or on clearance.  We have dishes, two sets of cooking pots, utensils, flatware, clothesline and pins, needle and thread, leather gloves, hatchet, dish soap, fly paper rolls, bungie cords, tarps and extra rope, salt and pepper and matches, and a bag of towels, kitchen towels, wash rags, and pot holders, ...each year when we're done camping, I make a note if anything needs to be replaced or if we've noticed anything else we could have used.  I also make a note of those things we don't store with the camping supplies, but always need to remember, such as batteries for the air mattress inflater thing.

One warning on the tightwad camping may seem to be a good idea to camp along the way to somewhere, and it probably works for some people.  But we have found it immensely frustrating to try to break camp, pack away all the dewy stuff, and get everyone on the road in enough time to make it worth the money saved.  Also rolling into a campsight late at night, having to set up three or four tents, and maybe even fix supper as it's dark or getting dark, is kind of a bummer. 

On the other hand, when visiting others who may not have the patience or space for a group of visitors the size of our family, we've found it works well to find a campsight nearby and use it as a homebase when visiting.  We like to invite friends or relatives over to "our place" for an evening of camp supper and s'mores and story telling.

Vacation on a Dime: Part 1

Rule Number One

We left on our family vacation on August first.  Of course we were late.  Of course.  We had wanted to get to Billings the first night, which means a 13 hour drive.  With the time change, we gain an hour, so clock-wise, it's a twelve hour drive.  But we had arranged to stay with friends, and it always seems so rude to roll in late. 

But this time we did.  We rolled into Billings at 10:30, and yet, Val and Ron and Ken with all their wonderful hospitality, were there to greet us and even feed us.  Thank you again for all your kindnesses.

This is rule number one for the Vacation on a Dime method.  When someone offers you a stopping off point, take them up on the offer. 

Val lived in our area during her early childhood, and still has many relatives in the area.  Joe got to know her and Ron through a series of funerals in Val's extended family several years ago.  When we first stayed there during our last trip out west two years ago, I had never met them.  But Joe assured me that these people, who were strangers strangers to me, seemed very genuine in their desire to have us stop over.  And they have been nothing but hospitable and kind.  Val and I are facebook friends, so have continued to get to know each other, and I consider myself blessed to have had opportunity to know them.  My life is richer for taking a near stranger up on an offer of hospitality. 

When I was growing up, there were eight us kids in the family.  We were often exhorted to not impose. It was perhaps one of the most often used reasons for not doing something, "We wouldn't want to impose."  So going out on a limb like this is very foreign to me.  Joe's family was very gregarious.  They have the gift to make friends wherever they are.  Joe's grandparents have even been known to exchange addresses and keep in touch with people they have met in cafes around the United States.

It's still very difficult for me to accept openness from strangers.  Even so, I do wholeheartedly encourage it.  Life is richer for the risk.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Goodbye to one of the Grande Dames of the ELS

When I was framing this post in my mind the other day, Joe and I got into a little discussion about the meaning of the word, Grande Dame.  I thought it meant, simply, a great lady to be respected for her life's work.  Joe thought it meant to be great within a particular entrepreneurial field.  So I looked it up.   And we're both partly right.

According to, a grand dame is, "a woman, esp. an older one, of great dignity or prestige."

Another take on it, from The Free Dictionary,
grande dame
1. A highly respected elderly or middle-aged woman.
2. A respected woman having extensive experience in her field

Wikipedia has a slightly more colorful definition,
A grande dame (in French: "great lady") is a stock character designed to represent a stereotype of an elderly high society socialite.

In popular culture, the grande dame is usually portrayed as a slightly flamboyant woman, prone to extravagant and eccentric fashion, such as feather boas, large hats, and excessive costume jewelry. She may be overly pre-occupied with the concept of "acting ladylike" and expect all those around her to conform to her own high standards of etiquette.
And lest anyone misunderstand, I'm going with the first or second definitions.

Today, the Evangelical Lutheran Synod (ELS) said goodbye to one of its grande dames, Melvina Aaberg.  There is hardly anyone affiliated with Bethany College, Bethany Seminary, the ELS pastorate, or the ELS churches in Mankato and the surrounding areas, whose life was not touched by this great woman. 

I first met Melvina when Joe was going to Bethany Seminary in Mankato, Minnesota.  She was at that time, secretary of the Seminary and synod offices.  She sat behind her desk, always ready with a sparkly smile and a kind word for anyone who happened in.

After our oldest son, Jeremy, was born, I was somewhat unused to being at home most of the day.  Being a little stir crazy some afternoons, I would often take long walks with Jeremy in the stroller.  Often I would end up heading toward Bethany, where Joe would be studying or working in the seminary library.  Sometimes if Joe was out and about when I arrived, I'd plop myself down in the office chair and have a little visit with Melvina.  Looking back, I'm sure she had many things on her secretarial plate.  But she never made me feel unwelcome.  In fact, Melvina had the rare gift of making everyone feel important and special.

One of the most embarrassingly memorable episodes was the time I forgot to change Jeremy's pants before heading out on our walk.  In a cloth diaper that was probably very nearly saturated before we left home, then after an hour long or better walk, Jeremy was definitely very wet when Melvina took him from the stroller to set on her lap.  I realized there was a problem as I watched the wet stain spread across Melvina's skirt.

"Oh, no!"  I exclaimed.  "I'm sorry Melvina.  He seems to be very wet."

But Melvina, being the great lady that she was, was nonplussed.  As I reached to remove the offending bottom from her lap, she simply grabbed a magazine and placed it beneath Jeremy's very soggy pants, and continued to bounce him on her knee, cooing at him and visiting with me, as though nothing at all was the matter.

When I think of her life, especially reading through her obituary, to refresh myself on the many things I used to know about her, I see a constant theme of service to God and man. 

Melvina lost her parents when she was very young and was raised by her aunt and uncle.  I remember we had talked about that, since the two of us had that in common.

Melvina worked as a Christian day school teacher and a mother.  She was a pastor's wife.  She was a wife of a synod and seminary president.  Melvina was a young widow, with her five kids just barely raised when her husband was called to his eternal home. 

Melvina worked as the synod and seminary secretary, and kept things running smoothly and efficiently even in the midst of all the technological changes during her tenure.  She lent a listening ear to, and helped in any way she could, the constant stream of seminary students, and any pastors and laymen who passed through her office for synod meetings.  Melvina was a friend with ready ears and an open heart for all the young seminary wives.

Melvina was a Grandma to four lovely granddaughters, about whom she spoke any chance she got.

After retiring from the Seminary secretary position, Melvina worked at the Bethany archives, keeping her hands and mind busy until her death.  She was active in her church and community and continued to be a friend to the many people whose life she had touched throughout the years.

Thank you, Lord, for allowing me the privilege of knowing this Christian woman.  Blessed be her memory.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Brainstorming National Defense

As the title states, this is brainstorming.  I've not had time to research this topic, but it's been on my mind for several years.  Please share with me any further knowledge or opinions you hold.
The Congress shall have Power

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;          

Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution
 And also, 
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.      The Second Amendment to the Constitution.
I've on occasion thought that the idea of a standing army is not in accordance with Constitutional principles.  I consider myself a Constitutional Conservative.  And as such, I've wondered whether a standing army is somewhat inconsistent with a strict constitutional outlook. 

However, many people who likewise consider themselves constitutionalists, and have studied Constitutional history more so than have I, consider a standing army as necessary to national defence, which is one of the few constitutionally assigned responsibilities of our federal government.  My understanding, again with little personal study, is that a standing army became the norm very early in the history of our country, and therefore through very early precedent, is considered legitimate.  If I have it straight, the idea of a standing army was the source of one of the original disagreements between those known as Federalists and those known as anti-Federalists, in the struggle for ratification of the Constitution.  Since those same statesmen were involved in the continuing debate after our Constitution’s ratification, and since as soon afterwards as the early 1800s we've had a standing army of sorts, that although not part of the constitution, strict constitutionalists consider a standing army as consistent with the founding principle of national defence. 

Does that make sense?  Have I represented the history accurately? Really, I admit, this is poor scholarship.  I'd love to do a bunch of reading today to figure it all out, but I simply have other callings. 

However, I did want to get these thoughts down and hopefully elicit some discussion.

Mary's thesis for today,
Whereas  throughout the history of this sinful world, it's been shown time and again that the more a civic institution does for its citizenry, they are increasingly less inclined and eventually less able to do for themselves;

and whereas our founders had some very specific reasons for fearing a standing army;

and whereas the founders did provide us with an organized way for the states to take responsibility for their own defence and to contribute to the national defence, through the maintenance of a well regulated militia;

and whereas there is an inverse relationship between the growth of a standing army and the dwindling of state militias (which one might argue is a corollary of the first "whereas");

perhaps we who consider ourselves Constitutional Conservatives ought to find a way to justify our stance more closely to that which the founders intended. 

Is not our military structure, the way it is today, a bit like socialism, in that the more the government does for us, the less we do ourselves, and then the less able we become to do for ourselves?
I came to these thoughts this morning while reading The King's of Clonmel, Book 8 of John Flanagan's, The Ranger's Apprentice series.   Will, for whom the series is named, is a former apprentice who is now a full fledged Ranger.  He is now working with the other apprentices at the Rangers' annual gathering.  The Rangers in the fictional Araluen kingdom, are primarily an undercover and intelligence gathering group in this feudal system of Flanagan's world.  But as such, they also assist the various Lords and battle masters with strategy when the need arises.  Will's assignment is to guide the apprentices in developing a strategy for a tactical exercise, according to the assets listed in the exercise.  As I read today, Will reminded the apprentices of their unstated assets, such as the trained archers each village of more than 100 citizens is required maintain.

This put me in mind, once again, of the militia system originally included in our founding documents, and my persistent questions about national defence and a standing army.

The way I understand it, militias were to be maintained by the states; each state in its freedom was to set up their militia according to their own needs and assets.  But the states were not allowed the freedom to neglect this responsibility.  I think I've read that not only were the citizens required to own firearms, they were responsible to know how to use them, and how to act together as a military force when needed.  Part of the states' responsibility was to call periodic musters to train and to test the militias for readiness.

I've heard some say that the national guard is the modern rendition of the state militias. I don't buy that.  Again, this is speaking off the cuff, because I've not researched it.  Perhaps readers could comment?  But the the primary way in which the militias are autonomous is that they have to be called out at the command of the state governors, and led by the command structure within such a state.  Is that right?  In case of some state disaster or national military need, must they be called out by their governor and assigned under the auspices of the particular military structures from within that state?

Further though, I believe the National Guards are set up uniformly throughout the nation, and their operation is subject to federal authority.  And they certainly do not involve the broad societal training in firearm use and military tactics.  Only those who choose must participate.

Are there still militias in the original sense?  Groups of citizens who gather to maintain skills in firearms and military skill?  I've been told there are.  I've even been accused of being a militia type, since our family owns and practices the use of firearms both for putting food on the table and for maintaining the ability to defend ourselves and those around us.  But we certainly don't participate in any military training exercises. 

It seems as though the idea of "militia" today has become a dirty word and those who strive to maintain such skills are perceived as crazies.  I've never known anyone who is part of a militia group, that I know of.  Therefore, I can't defend or criticize such activities.  All I know is the rumors, which seem to span a broad spectrum as far as the legality of activities, but also as to the veracity of the rumors.

But perhaps we need to explore the possibility of renewing the state militias.  Perhaps there is a place for a lessening of the national military, and stronger state run militias.  Could it work?  Is it conceivable?  I don't know.  But I am interested by the thought that we've become locally weaker as our national defence is provided for us by the federal government.  We've become so dependent upon the national military that many people aren't even aware of the many ways our military contributes to and defends our freedoms.  We tend to just float through our days, complaining about one thing or another that is wrong with our country, with little or no thought for how peace and order are maintained both at home and abroad. 

This seems to me to coincide with an attitude of, "Well, the government will do it.  I probably won't like their decisions, but what can I do about it?"  This is a typical symptom of dependency in all manner of nanny state issues.  I believe an argument could be made that this attitude of dependence puts us at a higher risk of ever increasing federal encroachment on our individual and states' rights.  I believe the founders would be appalled at the amount of freedom we've thoughtlessly conceded.  And I wonder if the demise of the state militia system is an important facet of states' rights and limited national government.  Not only are we ambivilent about our national defence and critical of it, we also have forfeited any ability to defend ourselves against any tyranny that would arise from within our borders.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Updated 8/19/11, in order to include titles.  Apparently some people 
are not seeing the Amazon links.  Sorry.

Do you ever wonder what you'd do if "the big collapse" happens?  If the grid goes down?  If life as we know it ceases to exist?

It's not really something I worry about, since I know God always provides for the "evil and the good."  (Matthew 5:45)  But I do think about it.  I do try to make life choices that help to prepare myself and my family for such an event.  Even if something like that never happens in lifetime or that of my kids, there are basic survival and creative skills that need to be passed on.

In a facebook thread tonight, on the idea of getting ride of books, this topic came up.  For the reasons mentioned above, I don't ever like to get rid of "How to" books.  We have many, many of them.

Here are a few of our favorites:

Eric Sloane's books are a work of art in and of themselves, but the information in these two is phenomenal.  Such detail and description.

The first book, The Diary of an Early American Boy, describes designing and developing the homestead.  The second is pretty self-explanatory, Museum of Early American Tools.  Both books include detailed sketches of the procedures and tools being described.

Homemade Contrivances, and How to Make Them, by Skyhorse Publishing.  This is so fun.  It's amazing what someone can do (and without an engineering degree even!).

Joe likes Handy Farm Devices and How to
Make Them, by Rolfe Cobleigh,  but I've not looked at it.  I didn’t even know we had it!  According to Joe, "It shows useful ways of getting things done, with materials you probably already have."  He thinks this is also the one that has a section on using the carpenter's square.

I always laugh when I hear these preparedness ads for sealed meals.   And how long will they last?  Then what will you do?  Hmmm?

It's kind of the, "give a man a fish or teach him to catch his own," thing.  

After learning the techniques in Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation, from The Gardeners and Farmers of Centre Terre Vivante, you're one up on either of the above choices.  You can be the one teaching the man to preserve his own food.

We picked up The Reader's Digest book, Back to Basics in a box of junk somewhere years ago and it's on of our favorites.  It's a great introduction to potentially necessary basic skills. 
I also got the Reader's Digest Complete Book of Needlework, from among Joe's grandma's things after she passed away and I love it, too.  Clear and easy instructions for mastering a large variety of needlework.

The Foxfire Books are all just all-around good books describing and teaching so many useful skills by those who still practice them.

Have fun exploring the world of basic skills!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Another Take on Vacation

Unexpected Pleasure
For four evenings and mornings I sipped my morning coffee and evening glass of wine on the screen porch at Morning Star Ranch, taking in the beauty of Emigrant Peak.  Watching the changing light and colors as the sun came over the top from the northwest in the morning and then as it sunk behind the Gallatin Range every evening was serenity itself.  I even got to watch the moon rise over the peak one evening.  Wonderful!

Great Fun
Eleven Abrahamsons hiking with five Bairds on the first couple of miles of a backcountry trail south of Mammoth Hot Springs.  No chance of sneaking up on a bear with this crowd.  The walk totally fed my long-standing desire to do a backpacking trip some day.

Most Annoying
The fickle weather around Yellowstone was hard to plan around.  Particularly frustrating, because of our tent camping and the earlyish mornings we attempted a few of the days, was the cold nights and shivery mornings.  The steady heavy rain Sunday evening that drenched us and many of our things was also a bummer, since we had plans to leave first thing Monday morning.

Mammoth Hot Springs, but it wasn't as bad as I had remembered.  Perhaps living here where the water smells so sulphury has inured me to the smelliness.  Or perhaps it is the 18 years of dirty diapers.

I love the Yellowstone Canyon area.  Besides the waterfalls, I relish all the colors, and the cliffs, and the trees hanging on the ledges.  We saw an egret's nest on one of the peaks jutting from the canyon, and we could just make out the fledgling youngsters stretching their wings while tottering near the edges of the nest.

We saw elk (just cows and young ones), one bison, and lots of little stuff.  No bull elks charging the vehicle.  No bears until after we left the Yellowstone area; we saw one about 1/2 mile away while we were heading north in the Gallatin Valley.  No moose, much to Aimee's disappointment.  Seeing a moose was on her vacation bucket list.

Unexpected Ease
Coming home with clean laundry for eleven instead of duffle bags and suitcases full of two weeks worth of dirty, sweaty, smoke-filled yuck.

Coming into Fargo at about 10:30 pm, after being on the road for twelve hours, to find all the hotels full of Air Show attendees.  Mayville had a wedding party and guests filling up their one hotel.  Grand Forks was full of Air Show attendees.  So after 1:00 am, we drove to Crookston in thick fog and found a really crummy room at America's Best Value Inn.  But in spite of all the cruddy things there, they let us all stay in one room.  We weren't going to argue.  We were floor to floor people but we only had to pay for one room!  And we got to attend church in Mayville, which was our hope.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Late Night Giggling

I have a touch of insomnia tonight, so am using the time to catch up on vacation e-mail reading.  When I opened my AOL account, I saw the following headline, "Was Pippa Faking It at Wedding?"  It and its subtitle made me laugh.  Not the headline itself, since I think it's a shame people affiliated with celebrity or even celebrities themselves have to be subjected to this kind of analysis.  But my insomniac stream of consciousness surrounding the headline made me laugh.

The title first caught my eye, because I had to run my mental fingers through my mental file system to remember who Pippa was.

"OK, yeah, that royal wedding sister lady."

Then my eyes fell upon the subtitle, "Experts now say she may have hidden something extra under her dress."  The first thing that popped into my mind was a handgun.  Then I recalled the pictures of the wedding that I had scanned in People magazine while waiting for a chiropractor appointment.

"No, not really a practical place to hid a handgun.  Besides, the Brits don't go in for that sort of thing."

Then I remembered one of Isabel Dalhousie's musings on the subject of Americans and guns.

This whole episode is perhaps too obscure for anyone who's not awake with insomnia, so if you're in one of those normal states of mind about which I've heard tell, you may not be amused.  But the post is for the rest of us, those who don't suffer from normalcy.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Vacation Summary

So much has happened in the last two weeks that I may not ever get around to writing everything that I want to say.  I took notes the first week to do a blog post entitled "Vacation on a Dime."  But we had so many unexpected bonuses crop up that later I had to write a post (about six pages of notebook paper) entitled "Pennies from Heaven."  So hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in some writing this week.  But for now, a few highlights:
  • The hospitality of our friends, the Frees, in Billings.
  • Seeing my sister Kathy's family for a quick but great day and night in the Yellowstone area.
  • Spending a wonderful and wild five days zipping around Yellowstone with my sister Aimee's family.
  • Elk, antelope, and showers (and a bonus) from Jessica K.
  • An unexpected kindness from strangers.  (You'll have to wait for details on this one.  It's amazing!)
  • Attending church in Mayville and having opportunity to hear our dear friend, Rolf P., preach a solid law and gospel sermon. 
We're glad to be home safely and we thank God for the many blessings of the trip.