Roger, Roger and more Roger with one Sophia and lots of birds…

Geese Nov. 2017

I am in school again today and have a free hour. I have the laptop with me and have been working on a few things, but thought it might be ok to take a break and post a few pictures of the cats just for fun. When I got to looking at them and cropping out some of the bad background, I came to notice that most of the pictures are of Roger, in fact they all are except for one. It could be that Roger is favored, or the truth could be that Sophia will never sit still long enough for the camera to focus. I did throw in one picture of the geese on the lake in Eureka on Wednesday. The entire back third of the lake was white with a few spots of grey. Most of the geese coming through are snows, but there are a few Canadians mixed in. The sound is unreal. I could hear them in the church office with all the doors and windows closed.

 

De-cluttering My Way

I am so excited about the work I finally did last week in my bedroom/craft room and in my office. It happened because Jessica was coming home with the twins for a weekend, and we were not really sure where to put them. OK, so that is not really true. We had planned to put them in my room because it is the largest, but I had it so messy that it was actually hard for me to function there. And if you need to see any proof of all that scroll back to October 17, 2017 to the post titled: Declaring War on Clutter, sort of!

So, everything is put into a can or a box or a tote, and they are even labeled so that I know where to find things without opening up everything. I fixed, as in sewed the stack of items without buttons or torn and returned them to the drawers and closets where they belonged. That was a good feeling. I have also been working on my Works in Progress items in the crochet department. Hopefully I will get to the sewing on the “to do” list by Monday or Tuesday. I even threw away the scraps of yarn that were too small to use for anything. In the past I saved them and set them out for the birds to use in their nests, but they never took them, so into the landfill they go.

So, the cleaning was thought up because of the pending visit, but it was not the actual trigger of my de-cluttering frenzy, which is still going on, Hurrah!!!

Baptism display

What actually happened is that I thought I was scheduled to sub on Thursday and Friday of last week. I got up on Thursday morning, got dressed and ready, and went along with James to school only to see the lady I was covering for in the building. I had the right day but the wrong week; I am subbing today. Instead of being super upset, I took it as the gift of a free day to do whatever I wanted to do. I went home, went to my office and began to sort. I sorted books into a spot in the bookshelf. I put items into the file cabinet and the desk drawers where they should have been in the first place. I sorted so much that I even put up the pictures of the twins’ baptism and Ana’s baptism on the top of the bookshelf. Those are the three children that I have baptized since beginning in ministry…well since ever. Duh!

Angels

I also cleared off all the items from the top of the computer desk and put up my display of Christmas angels. At first I was wondering why I put them there, and then it hit me that what better inspiration to write my messages than a bunch of angels. These angels have either been gifts from family or friends for Christmas or were things that I picked up at auction sales in $1. boxes. I think that the only one I bought for myself is the one on the far right in the back. Both the blue one and the green one belong to a daughter and the two little reindeer don’t really fit the theme, but they match in color and are staying with the angels rather than moving them to the Santa display.

The plant stand in my office.

Mostly I sorted and tossed little sticky notes of paper and sheets of things that were no longer relevant. I also found an empty shoe box and filled it with the Christmas, birthday and cards of congratulations from my installation. That was set aside to make myself a scrap-book later. I was really happy to fill the garbage so full. I got so excited that I even cleared out a stack of old magazines and reduced that by nearly half. I also found a pile of old manuals for nearly every appliance around. We even found the one for the washer and dryer that we had to toss this summer. They were given to us by James’ parents on our wedding. I wish they were still with us. That set worked far better than what I have now. Oh well… So, this is all for now. All I know is that I am happy about what I was able to clear out, and that I only tossed out the items that really had no further value for me. I refuse to toss just to toss, but it is time to go. Hope you are having a great day!!

Twins Visit

Marshall, Grandma and Lily. They were looking at their mother afraid she might leave them with me. Ha!!

This past weekend our twin grandchildren came for a visit. They brought their mother and aunt with them, but of course they were the focus of the time together. I took a few pictures but not really that many on the camera that I mostly use for the blog, so the only one I will share for now is me holding them. Coincidently they were 7 months old this Saturday. I think maybe this picture was taken on Sunday just before they went home. They were really good for us on Saturday when their mother had to go to a Farmers Union County meeting in Linton. It was probably because they were still tired from not sleeping on Friday night when their mother was tired and needed her rest. It is always good to have the grandchildren and even the girls around the house. It is even better because it forces us to get things cleaned up and this time, I really went through my room and stacked up the mess into neat piles rather than clutter all over. I am so amazed at how tidy everything is today that I am not really sure what to do with myself. I actually did a little sweeping and picking up just to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand again. I also put up some more of the Christmas stuff, but that is a post for another time. I think it is nearly time to head to school and pick up James so we can go out for the evening. Today is the 36th Anniversary of our first date. I am not sure if he even remembered that. Maybe we can go some place fun to eat. Take care!!

Message on Sunday, Nov. 5: Our dedication Sunday

The scriptures used were: Matthew 23:1-12, I Thessalonians 2:9-13 and Micah 3:5-12. The title of the message was, “Humble Service.” Again, this was my written script, but probably not exactly what was said.Those of you who know me very well know that one of my favorite television shows is The Voice. It might be because I like listening to music, and it might be because it was a show that James and Paulina and I watched together during that time when we were living in Linton, and it reminds me of what was a much simpler time in our lives.

One of the mainstays of that series is Blake Sheldon, and he has recently come out with a new album. He was on the Today Show on Halloween as a surprise concert singer, and he sang one, of his new songs, which is about thinking back in time to a simpler life, and the underlying issue was that the speaker of the song was really talking about being poor. I don’t know if he wrote it, or if someone wrote it for him, but before he sang it, he told the audience to listen closely to the words. Later that day I read the Upper Room devotional, and it was about a woman whose family had been homeless, and she wrote about how she was so ashamed of being around people because she was afraid they would recognize that she had once stood on a street corner begging for food.

It made me stop to think of all the stories, especially the frontier and the immigrant stores, which I have read over the years about people who struggled financially and eventually made it through to better times. Maybe I noticed these things more this week because I have been binging on those Hallmark Christmas movies, but it seems that at this time of year, those stories of tough times are just so much more in your face, so much more poignant, and maybe for me, so much more special. Maybe it is because I can relate to those stories with some of my own experiences, at different times in my life. OK, so not the homelessness part, but there have been times that have been struggles. Of course it could be because I, at least, am anticipating the coming weeks when we begin to reread, relearn, relive that very special story about a couple who went to Bethlehem with only a donkey for transportation then had to sleep in a stable where the oh so young woman delivered a baby on a bed of hay.

I think that tendency of mine to dwell on the specialness of those times drives some of my family members, especially my children crazy. I just can’t get over the idea that Christmas gifts shouldn’t be all about how much you spend and who gets the fanciest, newest thing. I do think that I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books about how they survived Christmas way too many times, especially the parts about how their father would make something in the barn as a surprise for their mother, or she would sew the girls a rag doll from fabric scraps with button eyes as a treat. Of course if I would have ever gotten one of those sort of things finished, I think my girls might have appreciated it, but with me it is always on the “to do” list and never quite wrapped up finished and under the tree by the time we open gifts.

Humble times might make for better stories, for fonder memories for some of us. I think it is because the things we earned or were given during those times came with more sweat and more work on our part, and that is why they are cherished more. I just believe that things that come too easily are not appreciated quite as much. Maybe I am off base, but that is how my brain works and that is why it makes me think that part of what Jesus was telling the Pharisees is that they need to be more humble in their attitudes. And especially they need to do more for what they have and expect a little less from those around them. It seems they have this sickening air of entitlement around them.

We have talked about this passage before, about how the Pharisees were so interested in their place in society, and how much they earned both in terms of monetary compensation and in terms of status and respect and ability to wield power over others that they failed to fulfill the position that they had been granted as the spiritual leaders of the people. It reminds me of the favorite saying of my aunt’s father who used to say, “They are so religious, they forgot God.” Hopefully none of us knows anyone like that, or that none of us ever becomes like that. In verse 5 of Matthew 23 that we read today, Jesus is quoted as saying, “They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long.”

So, I couldn’t stand it anymore, I did an image search for a phylactery, and it is this little square thing that looks like a toy box. It is worn on the top of the head and held on with a strap sort of like putting a little box on a leather strap that you wear as a headband. The fringes are the tassels that come out of your scarf, which they put over their head and it is long enough to come down onto their shoulders. At this point I put on a visual aid to give a better idea of what I meant. I am guessing that the longer fringes and the larger phylacteries were a little more spendy, and so it showed that they had more money and status, they were better than the other poorer people. They could afford more. It reminds me a little of A Christmas Carol when Bob Cratchit’s family had to settle for a stuffed goose for Christmas until old Scrooge opened up his purse strings and bought them a magnificent turkey.

Matthew ends this passage by giving us Jesus’ words, “All who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Today I can’t help but think of just how much the Pharisees had. I don’t just mean in status or money or power, but in learning. They had the manuscripts, they had the law, and the words passed down from Moses. They had the temple with all of its; what we would today call artifacts, they were rich if not by their monetary standards alone, but they were rich in the history and the academics of their faith. They had it all, and yet they ignored it for their own self importance. They had so much to share with the people who came to the temple and all they were concerned about was if the people who came there were giving enough money to the coffers. The Pharisees were only thinking about how the people could benefit them.

I guess that is where the reading from Micah fits. He warns of the ruin that will come on the people of Jerusalem as he speaks of the prophets who do not carry out the directions that God gives to them. Instead they only pretend to do their duty when they are compensated or bribed, and there is nothing just or fair about what they do.

Paul is careful in his letter to the Thessalonians to remind the church there that when he was with them, he did not expect compensation for teaching them the gospel or about the love of Christ, but instead worked with them to earn the food they ate and the shelter they shared. That is a theme we read often in the letters of Paul, that the leaders are not to lift themselves up above the status of the people, but instead are to be teachers that work with the people in learning about the love and sacrifice that Christ offers up in order for us all to be brothers and sisters in God’s kingdom. Before his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul was likely one of those Pharisees, who wore phylacteries and long fringes, but because of God’s call and revelation to him, he was changed and understood the truth about how he acted and how he needed to act. Paul was humbled.

Quilts completed in 2017

Today as we offer up the quilts that we have finished off with our hands to be given to those in need, and as we dedicate the door that has been newly purchased and those that have been repainted, we offer them not in the spirit of our own goodness and status, but in humility that God would look on us as participating in the spirit of being “the church.” As we go through the rest of this month, Mission Fest and Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks then Advent and the Christmas Season right around the corner, may we enter this time in a spirit of humble service for our God.

I have been trying to think of fresh new ways to celebrate the upcoming holidays, and I believe the scripture lessons of today may have helped me understand better which direction or at least how to look at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. The story should not be about how many presents are piled under the tree or how much food is piled on top of the table. The real meaning of the season is sharing the love that God has bestowed on us with all of those around us. And sometimes that sharing means a smile, and sometimes it means a meal or a blanket. Mostly it means that we walk humbly with God and share the love that Christ has for us all. Let’s remember to add that to our list of things to do this upcoming holiday season. Amen!

Frosty morning…

This is what I could see from my upper porch this morning. I tried to capture it better than this picture does, but the sun was so bright it was hard to know what I was getting until I up loaded. I should have spent my time cleaning the bathroom or taking the dead leaves off the plants that we brought into the house from outside this summer. I am just so tired of dragging those plants in and out and trying so hard to keep them alive. I don’t know that I will have all those plants next summer and I don’t think that I will be keeping any in the house anymore other than a select few. I am about to toss all of the geraniums because they look terrible and it just seems to bring plant lice into the house, and actually, I have had enough. I think that maybe I have outgrown my indoor plant days. Oh, yes I will keep the aloe-vera and the kalanchoes that seem to multiply like guppies around here, but other than the snake plants and a few others, the rest are out the door within the next day or two. I am really just so over house plants.

I might be over some other things too. I am tired of piles of things that serve no purpose. I will give you an update on what gets tossed later this week. I can report that yesterday after I returned home from the shopping trip I went on after my Aunt Glenda was finished at the dentist, I did some tossing in the pantry. There was a jar of syrup that is used to make candy, like the old stuff from what we used to use on our pancakes when we were kids. I think I moved it with us when we came from Jamestown in 1999, I am not kidding either. That went out. There was also some unused bags of this and that from years ago. I decided if we had not eaten it in a year, out is was going. I might be throwing a few more of those items out later today.

My next room is going to be this office that I work in. I was in here most of the day, and I am about sick of seeing things piled on the ground while there are empty shelves I cannot reach because of the junk in the way. I have a plant stand that is getting filled before the night is over with some of the plants that get to stay. Then the books that were arranged on it once upon a time are being put back in order. I will also toss all the pencils and pens that no longer work and will go down to only two pencil holders here. Next are the pads of paper, they are going in a container to be pulled out one at a time for actual use not just stacking up.

I have been slowly putting up the holiday decorations and I am getting a little weary about all the crap I have to deal with first in order to find a place to set out what I would like to put on display. Today was my only day this week to get anything done in the house and I spent the entire day working on the songs from now until the end of Christmas. At least I am nearly finished with that business. I have two Sundays left to choose and one is going to be the service of Lessons and Carols, so that will be interesting. We are holding that on Christmas Eve day which is a Sunday this year. So, no extra service to plan, which is actually sort of sad. I may have to make up for it by doing something fun the following Sunday, since it is New Year’s Eve Day, or maybe just more fun stuff during the Lenten Services. Not sure yet. Anyway, thanks for listening to me crab about the loss of a day, well sort of. I can still get a few things finished. Mostly I was not feeling the best, so that always slows down the progress of the day. Teach me to order something different when I eat out. I guess my digestive system is getting old and mostly boring. Here is to hoping you are having a good day. Also prayers and thoughts with those who have lost loved ones in Texas.

In progress…sort of…

Baby afghan

So, I have three items either on the knitting needles or with a crochet hook in them at this time. I am sure there are several more items around the room, but these are the three that I will feature today. I have been trying to get this baby afghan finished since I dreamed it up. There is also a “twin” version of this same blanket in my mind and I have the yarn for it, but so far have not picked out the needle. I think three at a time is enough, and frankly I don’t want to designate another bag to carry it around. This is made with the shell stitch, which is really the only one I like to use in crochet with these blankets. It is simple and solid and makes for a very warm blanket. I like to alternate the colors as you can see and hopefully this pattern looks ok when it is all finished. My husbands grandmother was famous for her chevron patterned afghans, but I never did learn that. She also was able to put a ridge into them. We have one that he was given for our wedding that has never been out of the box. He chose the colors and picked black and white and red and gray, and we have never ever had any room that fit that color scheme. It also has been saved from any cat hair. Perhaps someday after cats when we live in a southern climate, we will dig that out. Ha Ha on that idea.

The first of the other two items that I have been working on includes my standard beanie pattern in a blue and white color. I am trying to use up all that yarn from the church. I have made a deal with myself that the yarn from there will be used to make something that is donated, and not given to family or the track team. I would like to have a pile to donate either to the school in the community of our church, or to one of the area collection places for a women’s shelter or such. I currently have three beanies and a headband in the bag designated for that. I am thinking that they would all be warmer if they were lined with flannel and the ear parts were reinforced. I will have to work on that idea.

The final project is the one for which I currently have the most enthusiasm. It is an afghan and in the shell stitch so I don’t really have to think about pattern, but it is the one where I am trying to use up all those little balls of yarn that were left overs from the church when they used yarn in knotting the quilts to finish them. It has lots of yarn joinings, which I am doing with simple square knots, probably not the best idea, but this is just supposed to be a warm blanket to give to someone who needs one. The issue that has me working and thinking and using any semblance of designing in my system (which is not really such a developed talent here) is the idea of which color to use next. My choices are a bit limited and I did end up digging into the box that is not just scraps. I may also dig into some of my stash of scraps. This may end up being one of my favorite things to do as there will never be two of the same. I have to admit that nothing I do is ever two of the same. I could never be someone who turns out a plethora of items of the same kind because after making one of something the challenge is over and I have to move on to find something new to learn. Now if I could just transfer that idea into getting up the gumption to enroll in some classed to earn my degree in ministry, well I guess that is another story for another day.

Today was about three of my works in progress. What is on your needles? And now I need to go and clean house and do laundry so that I am able to watch some local college sports live streaming later today. Have a good one and stay warm!!!

This was written after several failed attempts to add the two little pictures below and even at that. I ended up retyping some of my original content so the pictures would be located where I finally gave in and let them go. Let’s just say I am tired of functions that don’t work, and don’t anyone tell me to use the newer version of writing a post. I, as in me, cannot resize a picture on that place and I just want to scream at the tech-eeze  who change things and never for the better!!!

Well I have been trying for half an hour to get the other two pictures into this post where they make the most sense and I guess I am not allowed to do things the way I want. I either need to upgrade to business or find a different blogging site altogether. Today I am leaning for the second one. I will let you know.

Beanie

Lap blanket

 

Catch up post on a snow day!!

Snow today

It was snowing most of the morning and has finally let up now that it is nearly noon. I took a picture of the back door of my mom’s house as I had to go and change the laundry there. I cheated and went over with the vehicle after I came home from getting the mail and stopping at the bank. I need to go back and switch the loads again and fold what is dry, but I am too lazy to leave the house at this time. If I would not have wanted the bank statements and to deposit some money, I might not have left the house today. Of course, I did need to go to the mail because some people seem to forget that winter shows up around this time in North or South Dakota. Paulina was home two weekends in a row, and never thought to take her heavy coat either time. Fortunately it wasn’t real heavy in terms of sending it through the mail. I found a second one that she had stuck away in another closet and forgot about. When I showed it to her on the phone as we were Face-timing, she declined wanting that coat. I promptly put it on and am keeping it for myself for now. It is super warm and has a hood. It is also black which seems to be the only color I wear lately. I am beginning to feel like the women of the frontier who always had their good outfits in black so they would have something to wear in case of a funeral. How bad is that. I don’t have black for that reason, it just seems that it matches with anything and so you don’t need so terribly many different outfits. Ha!! The worst part is that black shows every cat hair like there is a spotlight and a magnifier on them.

Apple pie

Last batch

I want to say I have been too busy to post lately, but that is only partially true. I have taken pictures of things going on around here, but I have just been too lazy to share them. The table of tomatoes is nearly gone. The last two times that I did any canning it was all whole tomatoes. The last batch was actually 12 quarts and 1 pint when it was all finished up. I didn’t think it felt like that much, but it took forever because so many of the tomatoes were really small. There are two boxes left on the table, but I am not sure if they will ever get made into anything. I also finished off the “bad” apples from the box I was given. I was going to do up all of them into some apple pie filling, but when I thought of how good they taste just sliced up, I decided to peel and slice the ones with bad spots on them and made a single pie. I will not give you a recipe since I didn’t really follow one anyway, and though it is edible, I have a little more practicing to do before it is really good. I had a few left over slices and ended up just eating them. So good. James agreed that we would just keep the rest on the counter eating them until gone. Last count gives us 9 apples, so they should last about 4 days or less.

I have also been trying to keep my hands busy at night while I am watching television and not playing on my iPad. This has been hard, but not really so hard since I started this crazy crocheted lap blanket. I recently ended up with all of the left over yarn from church now that we have officially finished up any possible quilting there. We did up all the quilt tops that had been made in the past by women of the church and so any left over yarn went to me, and the left over material that could be used to make more tops went to the Lutheran Church in Eureka. They still have a fairly active group, and we thought it was best that the material is used in a good way. I did take one small box home of the stiffer material. I hope to make some of the drawstring bags to give away in the future. I have a post about them some place titled “sling bags.” I will have to find that and at least get the date for it in case anyone is interested in it. Maybe if I ever get that table cleaned off in my room, I can work on that plan. For now I have made a bigger mess as I sorted out the yarn and reboxed some of it into thinner, medium, and thicker thread sizes. The lap blanket I am working on is the medium-sized yarn. I will have to post my three main projects, but not here. I am almost tired of my tendency to jump from one task to another or do several at a time. I finally see how it is more of a time waster, but I realize that I do it because I get bored doing one thing for too long. Oh such a life. Ha!!

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