Thursday, September 22, 2011

Greed Versus Wealth; and Those Pesky Nazi TEA Partiers

I'm increasingly frustrated by being considered greedy because I believe capitalism is the best way to help everyone at all levels of society.  I believe that statistics and history bear this out. 

I believe that socialist policies tear down a person's sense of self.  I believe that socialist policies and the dependence upon government largess enslave those upon whom such programs prey.

I heard something today on the radio that sums up well one of the intrinsic problems with current "anti-wealthy" rhetoric.  Whoever was speaking at the time said something like, "Wealth is not the problem, greed is the problem.  And greed is not isolated to the wealthy, nor are all wealthy people greedy.  So also, poverty is not somehow more righteous than is wealth.  Poor people can be greedy, too."

Marxist philosophy demands class envy.  Marxism thrives on such envy, and without such envy, Marxism cannot survive.  And yet, we who use such terms are considered fear-mongerers and name callers.

Speaking of name-calling, a high school Government teacher in Texas, Jonathan Bryant, called San Antonio Tea Party President, George Rodrigueza, a Nazi.  I have so many problems with this I don't even know where to start.  But let me list a couple anyway.

The salient points here, as I see them, are

  • Mr. Rodrigueza, San Antonio TEA Party president, is apparently part of a panel discussing the deportation of illegal immigrants. 
  • Specifically, Mr. Bryant, teacher at Kennedy High School in San Antonio, is asking about the possibility of teachers being responsible to report illegal immigrants. 
  • Mr. Rodrigueza, at his turn to respond, seems to agree with the sentiment of the previous panelist, that the law needs to be upheld.
  • But he adds that he'd also like if teachers would teach balanced content, and represent conservative principles to their students, instead of merely bringing a group of students with liberal placards.
  • Mr. Bryant says, "You can just say what you are, a Nazi."
  • After which he adds, "It's an objective observation, that's all." Then appears to strut back to his area, to the applause of the students.
1) Does Mr. Bryant really think Mr. Rodrigueza is killing millions of people?  Is he imprisoning anyone?  Is he engaged in any sort of thought control, euthanasia, or cultural purging as Nazi Germany did?  Mr. Rodrigueza appealed to the law of the land.  The law of the land of which Mr. Bryant is a citizen.  The law of the land which allows for free speech.  And the law of the land which allows for individual citizens, such as either Mr. Rodrigueza or Mr. Bryant, to become involved in changing those laws with which they disagree.

2) Does Mr. Bryant consider the response of Mr. Rodrigueza as "sins" of the same caliber as the atrocities committed by Nazi Germany? In context, then, requiring teachers to inform law enforcement of an illegal activityis on the same plain as fascism, genetic cleansing, and murder?  Or was it the request to teach conservative along with liberal principles that was the clincher?  I'm not sure to which part of Mr. Rodrigueza's response Mr. Bryant aimed his dart.

And does it not lessen the horrors of Nazi Germany to compare them to either opinion of Mr. Rodrigueza?

3) As a teacher, Mr. Bryant has the responsibility to be accurate.  He is using irresponsible name calling to sideline a public figure's opinions without staying the course and educating anyone on how Mr. Rodrigueza's opinions might be called Nazi.

One might argue that such a forum is not the time or place to do that, but I didn't get the impression that Mr. Bryant was inclined to explain at a later time. His smirk leads me to the perception that he was very pleased with the barb he threw.

4) And fianlly, as the President of the San Antonio TEA party group, Mr Rodrigueza represents the opinions of anyone else in the area who affiliates themselves with the TEA party movement.  The students Mr. Bryant teaches are of an age to be still under the care of their parents.  They ought not to have to be subjected to pejorative talk against various philosophies that might be part of such a child's upbringing.  By slamming Mr. Rodrigueza and his views, Mr. Bryant is painting as a Nazi anyone who agrees with either the individual opinion of Mr. Rodrigueza, or the TEA party group which he represents.

Now I realize that Mr. Bryant did not make his comment in the classroom.  And I also realize that teachers are allowed freedom of speech just as the rest of us are.   However, there were students present.  Mr. Bryant even pointed them out at the beginning of his comments.  He knew they were there.  Even if there were no children present who might agree with Mr. Rodrigueza, or from families who would support the goals of the TEA party movement, Mr. Bryant is still painting such students, in front of their peers, as Nazis or at least as affiliated with Nazis.

Not cool.

Monday, September 19, 2011

St. Paul, on Human Weakness; and Other Promises of God

II Corinthian 12:7-10
And lest I should be exalted above measure 
by the abundance of the revelations, 
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, 
a messenger of Satan to buffet me, 
lest I be exalted above measure. 
Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times 
that it might depart from me. 
And He said to me, 
“My grace is sufficient for you, 
for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 
Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, 
that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, 
in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. 
For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Sometimes life in this world is hard.  Sometimes we are thrown the proverbial lemon. Sometimes we are thrown blessings that are certainly not lemons, but that still just plain involve much work and heartache.

In my life, this is exhibited most specifically in having been asked by God to raise a large family.  I am honored by His call to me to participate in this great act.  I am humbled by the responsibility.  And I am in constant awe that God chose such feeble participants as Joe and I, to train up this number of servants to His glory.

Ps. 46: 1-3
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling. 

Frankly, there are many times I feel overwhelmed.  There have been times I have not felt up to the task.

Lest I leave any confusion, I in no way consider any of my kids to be what St. Paul referred to as a thorn in the flesh.  But I do often feel as though my particular personality is not conducive to the raising of a large family.  Several aspects of my personality constitute major thorns in my flesh.
  • I am distractible.  I can't keep track of who I've asked to do what job, and whether or not it's gotten done.  I often don't remember to start supper until it's too late to get it done well.  I forget clothes in the washer until they stink and have to be rewashed.  I consistently lose track of time.  Are these skills I could learn?  Could I do it better?  Probably.  How can someone forget that food needs time to cook, after all?  It seems like a no brainer.  And sometimes I do such things well for little spurts of time.  But I find it takes me too much energy to focus on such things. It's mentally exhausting for me and after such a organizational spurt, I tend to crash.  When I am on a roll with this sort of mental organization, I find that I neglect the kids.  The organization easily becomes the goal, and such a focus takes it's toll on the kids.  They tend to get into more and bigger mischief.  They engage in more whininess, clinginess, bullying, etc.
Romans 8:38
And we know that all things work together for good 
to those who love God,
to those who are the called according to His purpose.
  • (this note, in the bold, was added 3/5/13.  I must have had something here in the past, but it's apparently gone.  I'll at least include the correct Scripture reference so that it does not appear that this is still part of Romans.  You'll have to add your own commentary based upon your particular worries at the moment.) 
 Matthew 5:25-31“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, 
what you will eat or what you will drink; 
nor about your body, what you will put on. 
Is not life more than food 
and the body more than clothing?  
Look at the birds of the air, 
for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; 
yet your heavenly Father feeds them. 
Are you not of more value than they?  
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
“So why do you worry about clothing? 
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: 
they neither toil nor spin; 
and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory 
was not arrayed like one of these. 
Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, 
which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, 
will He not much more clothe you, 
O you of little faith? 
“Therefore do not worry, saying, 
‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  
For after all these things the Gentiles seek. 
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, 
and all these things shall be added to you. 
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will worry about its own things. 
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
  • I am lazy.  Or perhaps I ought to say low energy.  I had a friend once reprimand me for calling myself lazy compared to other moms.  I was exhorted to think of myself as low energy.  She spoke of an individual's energy level as being a genetic character trait.  I don't know which is closer to the truth, lazy or low energy, but either way, it is certainly a reality that must be addressed.   If not the sin of sloth, low energy is still a result of sin in the world, and its results effect our life.
Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD,
thoughts of peace and not of evil,
to give you a future and a hope.
  • I tend to sway between perfectionism and a lackadaisical attitude.  The old, "If I can't do it perfectly, why bother," thing is a constant challenge to the management of my household.  As one might imagine, with ten children, it's been quite a few years since I've been able to keep everything up perfectly.  So we've been in the, "Why bother," stage around here for longer than I care to admit.
Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? 
Be strong and of good courage; 
do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, 
for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Even so, even with the seemingly glaring hurdles to the proper management of a household, God chose me to mother ten children.  How can this be?

My human wisdom says that this ought not to work.  And yet somehow, it always does.  I live in the peace of God's promises.

Jeremiah 17:7-8
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
And whose hope is the LORD.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Call of a Dirt Road

Is there not something beguiling about a dirt road?

On the Road is one of my favorite John Denver songs, and the line, "So I looked out the window and dreamed I was a cowboy," resonates with me regarding many a road trip as a child.  But the preceding line, "I asked my Daddy, 'Where are we going?'  He said, 'We'll just follow our nose,' " is the line I was thinking of today.

Today there was a church dinner at St. Petri. St. Petri is just outside of Grygla, about 20 miles almost straight north of here. It's also 4 miles to the east.  But the roads don't go straight north. The main reason is that there is a river in between. But roads also tend to follow the towns, and although St. Petri is a bit east of us, the only town in between is on a road a bit to the west of us.  So when following the roads, the 24 miles turn into 30.

St.Petri is located 3/4 mile off the main east/west highway into Grygla.  When one leaves the church, the driveway heads south and then curves west, and then one must turns south again before reaching the highway.  Today, when I reached the highway, I turned on my blinker.  I pulled up to the stop sign, and pulled slightly into the turn as I stopped. 

But then, oh my, but then!  I looked ahead.  And the dirt road called my name.  "Come hither, my maiden, and drive upon my mysterious ways.  Come, see what I offer in sights and sounds.  Breath deeply of my fragrance and taste of my pleasures."

I do realize full well that the mystery of the straight and flat roads near us is not so intense as that of a mountain road in Washington, or the rolling hills and dales of Wisconsin.  But when one looks ahead and the road disappears into the horizon; or when it passes through a grove of cool and shady trees right up near the edges; or when one spies up ahead a narrow bridge; or better yet, you come to a sign that says, "Minimum Maintenance Road;" all these things  can lend a touch of mystery to an otherwise uneventful 30 miles.

So when I heard the call of the gravel road, I heeded it.  I flicked off my blinker and pulled straight across the highway.

From the back seat emanated the sound of a collective groaning.  Amidst the groaning, I heard questions and comments, "Aren't you supposed to turn?" or "I have to go to the bathroom, so don't take all day," or my favorite, "You always drive us into the ditch when you do this."

But still, I plugged ahead.  I tuned out the voices plaguing me, and forged on, into the wild blue yonder.

And I had a wonderful time of it. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Candy" Reading Series for the Junior High or Highschool Reader (or even adult)

Conspiracy 365
by Gabrielle Lord

I first reviewed this series just over a year ago.  This post is a follow up of sorts, so it will make more sense if you read that one first.

I've not yet finished this entire series, even though they are very fast reads.  One book takes me maybe three or four hours.  It's been somewhat challenging remembering which one to request from the library at the right time, and then having a free evening to read it when I do finally get it.

I really recommend this series for anyone who likes adventure, suspense, heroes and a heroine, and just a hint of romance.  There is also an element of fantasy, since many of the "nick of time" escapes that protagonist, Callum Ormond, manages would never work in real life.  At least, hair breadth escapes do not generally work one after another for an entire year, constantly, as they seem to do for Callum.  But I suppose, the entire premise is a bit fantastical in the first place, as is the steady stream of dramatic dangers that Callum encounters.

I picked up August and September at the library yesterday and yes, sadly, have finished them both.  When I got to the end of September, it ended so suddenly that I kept turning the page for several tries, thinking I had missed some pages.  But alas! it was just the next cliffhanger.  I'll have to wait to get the next couple in a few more months...

So far, there is only one spot at which I think the author committed a gross inconsistency.  But even that, I'm not  sure without checking back, which I probably will never do.

To reiterate a point upon which I touched in the original review, these books are clean.  Not even any swearing.  The hint of romance is very innocent and sweet. 

For such a quick moving story line, with next to nothing besides the perpetual action, the three primary characters are well developed, and continue to develop well in each consecutive book.  They really live in the sense that when the story is done, the readers is left feeling a little lonely for those friends he has to leave behind until he picks up the next book.

I'm in the process of trying to reduce number of volumes in our home library by 1/3, but even so, if I found these second hand and cheap, I'd buy them in a heartbeat. In each volume, there always seems to be at least a few things that I would like to recheck.  It would be an especially nice collection for a reluctant young male reader.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On the Benefits of Public Libraries to a Free Society

This is what I prepared to deliver to the Red Lake Falls City Council and the Red Lake County Commissioners. I was asked by my branch librarian to prepare something for these groups, to solicit their continued support for the local library during these difficult economic times.  I also prepared a brief outline for the members to follow, highlighting the quotes and summarizing the point for which I was using each.

All quotes except the last, are readily available on the internet, on any quote page, and some biographical pages. The final quotation is from a discussion of the trend toward library programs, at the expense of providing more traditional library services.
Hello. My name is Mary Abrahamson. I’m a mother of ten. My husband is a pastor of four churches, east and north of here. Until a year ago, I taught most of our children at home. They are currently enrolled at RLCC, both in Plummer and in Oklee. We are avid library patrons. We use many of library services, and also try to pay back a fraction of what we receive by helping with summer programs when we can.

I’m going to share with you three brief quotes, one each from three of America’s founding fathers and early presidents.

"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right...and a desire to know." ~  John Adams, in his 1765 Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." ~ Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Colonel Charles Yancey in 1816

"A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to Farce or Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives." ~ James Madison wrote to W. T. Barry, in 1822

We are blessed to live in communities and a country that allow us to have a say in our government. We elect officials at all levels of government. If we choose, we may attend caucuses. We can sign petitions and call our representatives. Our systems of government allow us many opportunities to be involved with the process of governing.

But in order to arm ourselves for this responsibility, we need access to information. The public library is an important source of information, whether in the form of internet access, books on the local shelves, books ordered through the broader regional system or throughout the entire state. Through our Red Lake Falls branch library, that little building just across the way, regular people like myself have access to all the knowledge in the world.

We, the people, make our society what it is. Regular people in our communities, our neighbors and friends, perhaps even some of you, serve on boards and committees within a variety of service, civic, and business entities.

Even if not in any official capacity, most of us are in a position to set an example for the youth in our communities, as parents or friends of the young people in our neighborhoods.  This too is leadership.

But in order to do all these things well, we need access to the means of self-improvement. Perhaps John F. Kennedy said it most succinctly...or I ought to say, he planned to say it, since this quote is from a speech that was to be delivered in Dallas, TX, on the day of his assassination, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

∼ ∼ ∼

Libraries in one form or another, have been in existence from ancient times. It’s fairly common knowledge that there was a library in ancient Alexandria during the Greek empire,  Archaeologists have found evidence of libraries throughout the ancient middle east from as early as 2500BC, and onward. These were collections of manuscripts, and repositories of information.

The the modern public library in America is something different. The Straight Dope website had the best definition of the modern library that I could find. The author used these marks to distinguish the idea of the modern public library. It
1) is publicly owned and supported by taxes;
2) is open to any citizen who desires to use it, and
3) contains a wide range of material, both popular and scholarly.

Using that definition, public libraries in America got their start in the early to mid 1800s. By the early 1900s, the idea had flourished and libraries were making their way into communities across the country.  Andrew Carnegie, who donated so much of his own money to promote and build libraries throughout the country said, “There is not such a cradle of democracy upon the earth as the Free Public Library, this republic of letters, where neither rank, office, nor wealth receives the slightest consideration.”

The public libraries in our communities today have changed a bit in the last 200 years, and even since the time of Andrew Carnegie. But they still fall into those same three points mentioned above. The library systems have changed. The inter-connectedness to each other around the state, country and even globe has increased markedly. The manner of accessing the materials, and even sometimes the format of the materials themselves have changed. But our public libraries still offer for anyone who chooses to use it, an immensely wide opportunity for learning and improving oneself, and also for leisure time enjoyment of the written word.

“The student has his Rome, his Florence, his whole glowing Italy, within the four walls of his library. He has in his books the ruins of an antique world and the glories of a modern one.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Your local library offers fiction and non-fiction books and magazines for all age levels. There is internet access for online research and pleasure. Audio books and DVDs; downloadable e-books for those who have the proper readers.  If a local child is interested in aviation or gardening, beekeeping or pet care, he or she can find help and learning at the library. A retiree can check out the latest book from a best selling novelist or research his or her family tree. A person can read about fixing the roof or building a chicken coop. A teen can get the information he needs to decide whether or not to attempt to replace the head gasket on his car’s motor. And a sports fan can keep up with the achievements of her favorite college teams.

There are a wide variety of programs going on all the time at the library. The regular things The Red Lake Falls branch library lists on its website include a preschool story time, a writer’s group, family nights, and craft days. Each summer the library sponsors a program that offers extra enrichment, such as presentations by artisans, dancers, singers, and a variety of other entertainers. Within the last year there have been several “Meet an Author” events, which include a brief talk on some aspect of her trade and craft, and also, usually, a writer’s workshop, for local writers to learn from the experts. The library, through the Minnesota history legacy grant has been able to offer, at no cost, to anyone in the community, a wider variety of cultural events which celebrate and highlight the rich cultural diversity of our state. These are things many small towns are not able to offer their people, things such as concerts by a harpist and a hardanger fiddler, and performances by a ventriloquist, singing groups, and storytellers.

“The richest person in the world - in fact all the riches in the world - couldn't provide you with anything like the endless, incredible loot available at your local library.” ~Malcolm Forbes

I’ve read that at times of economic downturn, such as during the Great Depression, library use increases markedly. I asked our local librarian about this, and she affirmed that they have definitely seen this to be true during our recent economic woes.

I understand that the government entities that support the public libraries are also experiencing hard times. And I am not fully comfortable with asking everyone in the community to support with their tax dollars a service of which not everyone chooses to make use.

However, for the enrichment of your community, you have in the past supported, and probably will continue to support a variety of none-essential services. I am here today to make a plea that the local branch library be one of those none-essential services that you choose to continue to support.

I was given a stack of information on the local library and also on the regional system. I am not a professional researcher, so things like statistics, and pie charts, and cost comparisons, these things go in through my eyes and hide away in a dark corner of my brain. I read through the materials I was given. I tried to prepare a clean and crisp analysis of the library’s needs. And I couldn’t do it.

But I am a library user. I love my library and the many things it offers. I believe in the idea of an educated citizenry. I believe the services offered by our Red Lake Falls branch library play an integral role in offering educational and leisure opportunities to the people of Red Lake Falls and the surrounding communities.

I understand that our local branch is struggling financially. I’ve noticed that the hours of operation have been re-arranged and cut several times in the last few years. Various services have been cut

I’ve been told that the library is short $4,874, just to maintain the services they currently offer. There is a certain amount of patron demand to reinstate the hours and days of operation that have been cut. The total anticipated operational cost of $54,276 would not allow for that. It would only sustain the current operation.

If you flip to the back page of the paper I handed out, you can see the numbers presented clearly before you.

I don’t know what you spend on other none-essential programming, such as ECFE, summer rec, and theater programs. But I agree with the sentiment in this nugget I found from Walter Cronkite, “Whatever the costs of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.“

And I’ll leave you now, with a final quote, it actually appears on the front flap of your paper. It is an excerpt from Darwin, a researcher at the Askville question and answer forum at regarding Andrew Carnegie‘s vision.

“[Andrew] Carnegie had two main reasons
for donating money to the founding of libraries.
First, he believed that libraries added
to the meritocratic nature of America.
Anyone with the right inclination
and desire could educate himself.
Second, Carnegie believed that immigrants like himself
needed to acquire cultural knowledge of America
which the library allowed immigrants to do.
Libraries for Carnegie were the ultimate extension
of democracy to the people.

He felt that the sheer existence of a library
and the individual’s right to use it was essential.
He did not see the library as needing to reach out,
but rather to allow in anyone who wished to come.
His formal education ended at the age of 12,
and he was exceedingly affected by being unable to afford
the $2.00 per week fee to join the "free" library,
so he resolved that libraries should be free and open to everyone.
That is why over the doors
of The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh,
carved in stone,
are his own words,
"Free to the People."

As a self-made man
he believed anyone could do likewise
as long as the tool (the library)
was there to be used.”

Thank you for your time.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What's So Difficult About a Cup of Coffee?

On the joys of reading together 
One of the great joys of our years of homeschooling was family read-aloud time.  We read so many great children's books.  So many memories rapped up in those stories.  Evenings spent snuggled together, all of us sprawled around the living room or heaped together on the couches, little voices begging, "One more chapter!  Don't stop here!  Please!"  Those are richly emotive family-togetherness memories.  But there are also the less tangible things, like the shared memories of vivid characters or compelling plots to look back on, and the discussions and learning that flowed from the story lines, exotic or historic settings, or character traits.

I can't really blame our current difficulties with read-aloud time on our decision to put our kids in public school, although it would be easy to do that, since our time together was vastly shortened after that grave day. But the truth is, we had pretty much stopped any consistent read-aloud times about two years prior to our kids going into public school.  We always had a book we were allegedly working on, but the nights we actually spent reading together were progressively fewer and fewer in number.  It had gotten too difficult to span the large age range of our kids without older kids complaining about the dumb babyish stories, or younger ones being bored and unable to follow the more complex story lines.  Instead of the cacophony of happy sounds when Joe or I called, "Time for read-aloud!" we more and more often had grumbling and complaints.

The mother in me grieves for those lost days of togetherness.  But I've yet to find a way to recapture them, even for the younger kids.  For whatever combination of reasons, we just can't make it work.

One book we ended up reading two times throughout the years, is Red Sails to Capri, by Ann Weil.  As generally happens when we've read a book together, we ended with a collection of favorite passages from this book, that get tossed out again and again, in a variety of related situations.

The family of Michele Pagano, the primary character in Red Sails for Capri, runs an inn.  Each family member has chores to do, but the kitchen is Signora Pagano's domain.  She cooks like a dream, but is unable to pass on her culinary skills, since she cooks using a combination of scolding and cajoling the food into its proper form, and singing.  Each task has a certain song to go along with it; from the musical scores, Signora Pagano determines when to add an ingredient, or how long something ought to be beaten or cooked. 

Michele and his father agree to help some of the inn's visitors find a mysterious cove whose history is fraught with danger.  In an attempt to dissuade them from what she is convinced is a perilous mission, Signora Pagano refuses to cook for the guests or her family.  The men of the family step up to the plate, or they attempt to do so.  But Signore Pagano and young Michele don't know how to coax the food to do what it ought, nor do they know the songs that accompany the food preparation. This comes to a head one morning, when the two are expected to prepare a soft boiled egg for one of the guests.  After several attempts, it still cannot be passably accomplished. 

"What is so difficult about an egg!"  they implore.

From eggs to coffee
This morning, I had that phrase in my head several times, but with regard to my morning coffee.  First off, one of the girls had a little accident with a baking dish the other day.  The way the story came down to me, is that the baking dish flew from the dish drainer and landed on the coffee maker, breaking the carafe.  Frustrating, but not the end of the world.  I wasn't too worried since I try to keep some spare carafes on hand, extras I've picked up at second hand stores.  But apparently, I have no such spare on hand this time.

Not to worry...I also have a spare coffee maker from Joe's grandparents.  But alas!  We have been unable to figure out where we tucked it away.

But even so, this is not a travesty.  Joe came home with a blue enamel percolator from a member the other day.  So yesterday we successfully perked coffee, without a problem.  Mmmm.  I've always preferred perked coffee to dripped coffee, anyway.

Today however, Joe came into our room at a little before 7:00, as he was getting ready to leave for his earliest service.  I was still in the throes of slumber, so he nudged me awake to tell me that he couldn't get the coffee to perk right, but if I wanted weak and wimpy stuff, there was coffee ready.  I rolled my eyes.  How hard can it be to perk coffee?

After awhile, I roused myself to get up and try the weak and wimpy stuff.  Anyone who knows Joe can appreciate the fact that "weak" and "wimpy" are relative terms with regard to coffee.  Joe prefers to be able to stand up a spoon in his coffee, so I kind of assumed I'd be able to drink his weak and wimpy stuff without a complaint. 

But this was not to be.  The coffee was not even tan.  It looked as though I refilled a recently drained coffee cup with drinking water.  It had a tint.  Barely.

"OK," thought I, rather smugly, "Joe must have not had time enough to perk the coffee properly."  It can't be that hard, right?  A percolator is not really too mechanically challenging. There's not that much that can go wrong.  The water heats up, the heat causes it to spurt out the top of the do-hickey, and it drains through the basket.  Not much to it.

The only other possibility I could think of in my caffeine deprived brain, was that Joe didn't use enough grounds; but I had a feeling that with Joe, such a scenario was not very likely.

I put the percolator on the burner for a little while longer.  Just for good measure, I left it simmering while I quickly bathed the youngest three girls.  Then, with the most challenging part of my Sunday morning out of the way, I was ready to relax with that cup of coffee.

Oooh, I couldn't wait.  Got the mug from the cupboard.  Set it along side the percolator.  Tested the handle to see if it was hot.  Gently and eagerly poured the anticipated deep brown brew.

But no!  It was not to be!  The liquid pouring forth was no darker than it had been to start with.  I was starting to lose patience with things.

I set the percolator off the burner.  I grabbed the computer chair from its slot at the counter between the kitchen and dining room.  Yes, I do realize I should not climb to the upper reaches of our cupboards on a swivel chair, but by this time I was a crazy lady.  I had a headache starting behind my right eye.  I was beginning to feel a bit unbalanced from my need for coffee.  How much worse could it be on a swivel chair?

Somewhere up in the depths of the corner cupboard, I knew I had some paper filters for the individual cup, drippy thing that we use periodically.  We actually have two of these, one a personal size, and another for making an entire pot.  But I was not about to wait around pouring out a whole pot and waiting for it to drip through.   I needed the plastic drip thing from the bucket of misc coffee items in the lazy Susan, and the paper filter from the upper cupboard.

We have a reusable metal filter, too, but I knew that was not put away properly.  I had passed it somewhere downstairs yesterday when I had my arms full of something.  Apparently some youngster was unable to resist it's appeal, and had used it as a hat or a broach or a pterodactyl.  When I saw it yesterday, I had made a mental note of its location, but that mental note had been flung to the darkest corner of my brain, and when I needed it, it clung stubbornly to the darkness, refusing to resurface.

It was becoming increasingly apparent that on this particular morning, a cup of coffee was not going to happen quickly or easily.

The (dis)organization of a multiple user kitchen
Those of you who have multiple older kids who help with chores might be able to appreciate the state of my corner cupboard.  Ideally, the top shelf holds the bulky, flat, rectangular tupperware container in the back corners; a collection of water bottles to the left of that; and to the right and in front center, the can of coffee and the stack of filters for our temporarily defunct drip machine.

The middle shelf is for the extra-large, round tupperware lids, along with any flat round tupperware containers.  Around the edges of this shelf are the teas, and whatever other non-coffee beverages we might have on hand.  

And finally, on the bottom, is the measuring cups, and a vairety of small baking needs such as baking powder, corn starch, salt, etc.  There is also a flat square plastic container that holds all kinds of little stuff: toothpicks, cheesecloth, colored sprinkles, and ideally, the package of coffee filters.  Depending upon how full that flat plastic box is, the bigger flat items such as cheescloth and coffee filters might have to be tucked against the edge of the cupboard, ouside of the box.

But we have lots of kids who help with dishes and cooking.  Much of the time, things are put away in a manner I'll call, for lack of a better term, "kind of right."  It's hard for me to know each time, which child might be guilty of the locational infraction.  Such infractions often end up going without correction.

The kitchen items have "a place" they are supposed to go.  This "place" might vary a bit, with the normal coming and going of kitchen items, due to breakage or replacement.  Because of the busy nature of a large family, the slight variances in "place" might or might not get passed on to each child who helps in the kitchen.  And so each item has its proper "place.  But it's also likely to have two or three other likely places, based upon who dried dishes last, or who was the last one shift things around while cooking.

And this brings us full circle to my ascent on the precarious heights of the swivelling kitchen computer chair, in the upper reaches of the corner cupboard, digging through the various possibilities of where the bag of paper trianglular coffee filters might be.

First off, I looked for the filters in the two most likely lower shelf locations.  Nope.

I scanned the disorganized contents of each shelve in the same cupboard, still anticipating an easy find.  Nada.

I quickly reorganized the miscellany on each shelf, hoping to discover, as I sorted, the missing filters.  But no.

The good news is that now the shelves of my corner cupboard are nicely sorted.  Not only is there a place for everything, everything is in its place.  But I still didn't find the filters.

And so I still didn't have any coffee.  It was nearing time to get everyone up for breakfast, but I really, really wanted to have coffee before the pre-church rush.  And that little hint of a headache behind my right eye, had now spread to a dull throb behind both eyes and along the back of my neck.

In a last ditch attempt, I climbed one more time up to the upper reaches, swaying precariously on the swivel chair, and pulled out the stack of rectangular storage containers, and there, hidden within the Tupperware Snack n Store Container, were the missing filters.

Aaaaaah. A huge sigh.  Finally I'd feel the relief that came with a long awaited cup of joe.

I quickly reheated the water I had put on the burner so long ago and subsequatnly pulled off again so it wouldn't boil dry during my search.  I pulled out the "save for special occasions" bag of Steep and Brew grounds that my  friend Lisa had sent last winter; that had gotten lost in the depths of the cupboard and so saved beyond it's recommended life expectancy; and that had been found anew during my morning's quest.  I tipped in the savory grounds, grabbed the pot of water, and swiftly drenched the coffee grounds.

Of course, by that time, the morning rush ought to have been in full swing, and I was running late.  Once again.