Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

The presents are not yet wrapped, the cookies unbaked, but the greetings are HERE. Merry Christmas to you all. May you be blessed by the Christ Child who now grants us Grace unbounded and Love complete. May you be filled with His love and pass it on to all you meet.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

School budget shortfall effects us all.

I've been going to the local school pool for about 15 years for twice weekly water aerobics. Because I have moderately severe knee arthritis, there are many limitations on my activities on land, but in the pool, I can move with no pain or stiffness for the whole hour.

Like every unit of government I know of, the school district (largest geographically in the US) is in difficult financial straights. A bond issue election has failed three times. The board is looking at what to cut, and they can expect reduced help from the state because there is a projected 5 billion (with a B) over the next three years at the state level. [Good work, Republicans!] What can a district cut when they are already just about down to the bone and the state allows the students to transfer anywhere and take their state money with them?

Enter those of us who don't want to close the three pools in the district. The board members from areas without pools think that this is an easy thing to cut. Those of us who use the pools disagree. But this isn't just a matter for a handful of adults who get into the water. This affects the kids who need to learn to swim. And it effect those who would like to become life guards.

I sent letters with my reasons to keep the pools open. My biggest reason is that I know of two people whose lives were saved because two of the students who took the life guarding classes have saved lives, not at the pool, but when they were recreating. I witnessed my daughter save a big guy who is 6 feet tall, but who panicked when he swam too far from shore.

The results of what is learned (and not learned) in school are not always apparent in the normal course of life, but many things come out in the long run. You just never know how you affect those you teach.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Plowed out and ready to go at minus 30 degrees!

It's MINUS 30 degrees. What can I say? But the driveway is plowed, so I can get out and go to the pool!

The driveway didn't get plowed of the 10 inches of snow until 6:30 pm, so my husband got a snow day. I'm sure that plow driver was tired. Each driveway must take about 3X as long as usual. That plow job will probably cost about $50, but what is a person to do? The driveway is 1/10th mile long.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snow Day

We're in the midst of a blizzard; minus three now. We did have church this morning, but the Christmas Joint Choir concert for the evening was canceled. Tomorrow will be a snow day. I think I'll make Christmas Cookies. I wonder if I can convince DH to help?

I'm cheating with this picture; it is from a year ago, but it is DARK out can I take a picture?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stewardship, Charity, and the church. Who gives to what?

I highly recommend this blog article entitled The Decline and Fall of Charity, posted at Culture 11. It gives some statistics about what amounts of money churches take in and what is spent on site and what goes to other charities. It is an eye opener. I'm bringing it to the attention of the Stewardship committee tomorrow.

Two reflections:
I attended a wedding at a church in a suburb that is known to be on the high end of the income distribution list, so to speak. Certainly the bride and groom are not in that group, but apparently, the groom attends church there. This was about the largest, fanciest church building I've been it. It was beautiful even though it was very modern. There was much that was unnecessary to the furthering of the telling of the story of Christ, if I may be so judgmental, such as many indoor trees. There was a large baptismal pool, even though the denomination is solidly in the infant baptism camp. They are going to remodel the pool. I asked about the church and somebody told me that the church was known for working on justice issues. It was not the time to get into the details of that, but I did wonder how much justice there is in spending on a beautiful interior when only 8 miles away, there are people destitute in freezing cold apartments.

Our church has been working on a building remodeling plan for several years and we are finally in the last steps of the actual engineering plan before there will be a vote. Given the hard economic times, closing of several (some of the only) large employers in the area, I do wonder if the vote will be "yes." And will we be able to get a loan to complete our fund raising? Within my household, there has been discussion about the virtues of this project: Are we feathering our own nest at the expense of other issues/causes that our church might support? Should we commit our fiances to this cause or give more to other causes we already support?

My opinion prevailed; we are supporting this remodeling. The major reasons are 1) our church building is heavily used (maybe 500/week) by the community at large, so this is part of our mission, and 2) much of the building is quite worn out and needs much work, such as insulation, new windows, roof (which currently leaks), the furnace is about dead, plumbing is bad, and many areas are poorly lit. I think much of this needs to be done even if the vote is NO.

However, in the grand scheme of things, we do have a large building with many rooms, and we do a good job of ministry in that old building. It is better than much of the world has.

How does your church give beyond its walls and how does it feather its own nest?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Jos, Nigeria, violence; missionary

The violence in Jos, Nigeria has calmed down. The extent of the killing and destruction is shocking. More of both the good news and the bad news of the situation first stated in this post can be found at Mary Beth's blog [look for postings from Nov. 30, 2008 and more current] and at the Christianity Today blog.

Many of Mary Beth's acquaintances have suffered in this situation. Please pray for them. Her writings are a great testament to her faith and how a sense of equilibrium can prevail in the midst of chaos.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Urgent prayer request for missionaries in Jos, Nigeria

I have received two emails from Mary Beth Oyebade, who is an ELCA missionary in Jos, Nigeria, requesting prayers for an to end the violence there and for the safety of the missionary community there. You can find some current information on her blog. Look for the posts from Nov. 28, 2008 and newer. With the terrorism currently happening in India, I don't expect much of this news to be on American TV. But I've read that at least 300 have died in Jos the first day of the violence. This is "pre-election" violence and may be targeting Muslims and foreigners.

There is also a website that explains the work that is being done and the history of their Mashiah Foundation.

We are friends with Mary Beth's parents and I have met her when her family has been in town visiting. We have purchased quilted items made by the women at the Mashiah foundation. You can see that here.

Please ask your friends and churches to pray for safety for the people in Jos, Nigeria!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Agenda for the week:

Prepare some bread and pie dough ahead of time.

Roast the turkey ahead of time.

Prepare a unique dinner ahead of time.


Toddler proof the house.  Fat chance.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The sun isn't working

I haven't seen the sun in awhile. The weather forecaster lady promised sun today and for a few days. It is sure dark around here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two Questions:

1)  Why is November so cloudy?
2)  Why is it lately that when I wake up, my hair is standing straight up? 

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stolen from the Children's Sermon

(which may have been taken from an unknown source as well.)
A building contractor was going to be leaving on a trip, so he called his three employees into the office and told them of his plans.  Then he told the first carpenter that he was giving the man a very large tool box full of new tools that he knew the man would be able to use well.  He told the second employee that her new tool box was smaller, but it contained all that she needed to do some work while he would be away.  To the third employee, he gave a small tool box, but told the fellow that it contained a good quality hammer, screw driver, saw, and a few other basic tools.  Then he left.
The first employee knew that the contractor had a heart for the homeless, so he built homes for them.  The second employee knew that the contractor loved old people, so he did a number of repairs to the homes of the elderly in the community.  "And what do you think the third employee did?" asked our youth director?  "Build a dog house." replied one of the kids. 
Of course, those readers who are familiar with the lectionary know that Matthew tells us that the last "employee" hid his gift so that it wouldn't be lost.  The last carpenter never opened his tool box because he didn't want to get those nice shiny tools scratched or dirty. 

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I DO go to Church

I truly feel sorry for the people who only go to church to attend a funeral. They would have a certain emotional reaction to the word "church." How can they know the true worship experience, the ups the downs, the family of God feeling, the worship-in-spite-of-difficulties, and the worship-because-of-blessings?

Many years ago (could it really be 36 years ago?) I heard a stewardship sermon that talked about making a commitment to attend worship. The idea wasn't to wake up on Sunday and THEN decide, should I go to church today? But rather, to decide that attending a worship service will be what I do on Sunday. I have honored that commitment most of the time. [I'm not consistent about going when I'm away from home.] I have honored that during a bad time when I didn't pray for 6 months. I thought that I would be a bad example to my children if I bailed out on church just because I had a health problem that was messing with me emotionally.

Sometimes on Saturday, I have said, "I don't want to go to church tomorrow." My husband will say, "You don't have to go." But on Sunday morning, I still get up and go. I've found that usually on those Sundays, something speaks to me most personally, so I'm glad to be there.

This post was first a comment on Dr. John's Fortress, 11/09/2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Reflections on changing racial interactions

This morning I was hit with some memories of how race has played a part in my life.
I grew up in a white neighborhood, but the grade school, two blocks away, was slightly integrated. We had two star musicians, one was Black and one was Asian. Two blocks in the other direction was one of the "housing projects" where some Blacks lived, which was why they attended the same school that I attended. Actually, the majority of people in that project were white, as one had to be a veteran to live there. Race was never talked about in school; non-white issues were invisible, but the kids seemed to get along just fine.
I do remember inviting a Black girl to stay overnight at my house. Unfortunately, my mother knew that my father would never accept that, so my mom had to call that girls mom and uninvite her. I was mortified and I doubt I dealt with this issue with my friend.
In junior high, I started noticing racial tensions between students. I remember seeing an Asian boy getting pounded in the bike parking lot. In my high school, of 3600 kids, there were people of all kinds, but we all "knew" that if one wasn't white, one would never be elected to any office. But within a few years, Blacks started living in the regular neighborhoods and were elected to such things homecoming king. By then I was away at college, which was quite white with some kids deliberately imported from Chicago, so that "integration" was there in a forced way.
The places I've lived since graduation have been overwhelmingly white. The non-whites are, for the most part, not Black. "Race" and "mixed-race" has a different meaning for me than for many people. My family is "mixed-race." I sometimes forget that others don't see me this way because it isn't so visibly obvious, especially when I'm by myself!
My son loves baseball. When he was about 6, we would watch the games on TV and notice the differences between the players. We made comments that celebrated these differences rather than ranking people by their differences. When he was in 2nd grade, I bought him a book about Jackie Robinson. His teacher called me with some concerns after he read that book, "___ has been saying, 'I'm not black.' over and over." He had learned from that book about the persecution that Jackie Robinson had faced when he played major league baseball. My son was distancing himself from this player because of skin color but not because of any feeling of superiority.
In later years, I've asked my son about racial issues. He would tell me specific names of only a few kids in high school whom he thought were racist. But mostly that wasn't an issue. I think when people have known each other all their lives, these issues fade into the background. My son actually told me that he used his race to his advantage at times because he stood out. Perhaps issues would arise if kids were dating, but since most of the "non-white" families I know of here are mixed race, it is obvious that people here have been comfortable mixing for a couple of generations. Yet, another non-white family we know told me that they were self-employed because of the difficulty of finding jobs here.
Now that my son lives in a big city and has worked at several jobs, we've had some discussions about race. He feels that racism has been at play in not getting some jobs he applied for. When unemployment is so high, I'm not sure how one would figure that out as there could be many excuses for not hiring somebody. But he has told me that occasionally the person interviewing him would ask him some direct questions about his background.
I've had fewer conversations about race with my other kids, but there were some telling comments. One told me that other students assumed that our kids were foster kids. My third child wanted nothing to do with the organizations at college that were promoting racial or ethnic pride and knowledge. I'm not sure if she missed out on something helpful or not.
At one time, the only thing my kids knew about Black people was what they saw on TV and that wasn't always very positive. It wasn't just Black people who lacked role models. Now my kids and grandkids and all kids will be able to turn on the TV and see that Blacks, just like Whites, are in all positions and jobs, top to bottom. Lets hope that people of other groups will soon also have these same opportunities.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Prayer for the president elect

Dear Lord, I ask that You will bless our new president-elect. May he seek wisdom from You. May he appoint wise counselors. May he be the president of all the people. I ask You to help all of our citizens to support the president and put differences behind them. I ask You to forgive all of us who have had any uncharitable thoughts about people who feel differently about political positions. The Bible shows that You work through leaders who follow You and through leaders who don't, so I know that You can bless the outcomes of all the elections across our land so that Your will can be accomplished. Amen.

Reflecting on Voting

I was reading a few blogs about other people's feelings about voting, which made me remember my first voting experience. The first time I voted was in 1972. I seem to remember that the voting age had just changed, so even though younger people could now vote, I was voting for the first time, though I was already technically an adult with a "real job" and living on my own. [Well, renting a room in the home of a family since being a beginning teacher didn't pay enough to live truly on one's own. I didn't even have a car.] My father died shortly before the election, so I had to register and apply for an absentee ballot, because I'd be going out of state for the funeral. The actual voting was not so dramatic because it was on the absentee ballot.

I'd have to look up exactly who was running for president each time I voted, but I do remember that almost always I've voted for the loser in the presidential election. One particular time, I remember going into a sort of depression because of who was elected president. We survived that period of time and many people consider him to be a great president, although I don't.

My husband has predicted that whomever wins this election won't win again in four years because the problems are so enormous and the promises have been too big. I predict that whomever wins doesn't have enough hours in a day to fulfill all the promises that have been made, so I hope that the new president will be able to inspire us all to work harder for the good of our whole country.

I Voted

Monday, November 03, 2008

News shows, biases, and what the candidates say.

I'll admit it: I've become a news junkie recently. I can't say that I really enjoy watching the news about the campaign, but there is something intriguing about the whole thing. There is also something sick about it. I heard today that the total being spent is about ONE BILLION dollars. I'm not sure if this is just on the presidential campaign, or if that includes the other races.
Because our old TV can get about a zillion stations, I can switch between local stations that show local and state candidates whining about how they've shown such great leadership that they deserve to be elected again, because they can work across the aisle. These are supposed to be their attempt at positive ads, but that is only in comparison to the previous vicious ads containing distortions that were shown to backfire. The opposition tries to stick to the issues, but someone who has a history of pointing out problems in society doesn't necessarily have the ways and means to fix those problems.
I eagerly awaited a debate between three candidates so I could learn more about the independent candidate. When his solution to the current problems was to get the people back into the store to start buying things again, my reaction was, "Hellooooooooooo. That's what got us into this pickle in the first place." My mark on the ballot won't go next to his name.
Then there are the big three networks and the cable networks. Some people accuse each of being too liberal, too conservative, or too something or other to be unbiased. Some of the journalists do make an effort to be balanced and unbiased, but others make no pretense about hiding their own views. I'm amazed at the pomposity of some of the hosts of the shows on the so-called cable networks (we don't have cable, but we get these shows.) They choose their "guests" to slant views in a certain direction and/or they jump all over the views expressed by the guests. Some of these shows at least have the honesty to name their biases. Others pretend to be unbiased journalism. There are a couple of hosts, however, who treat the guests with respect and make at least an attempt to have people with divergent views. I personally have no respect for the guests who interrupt the other guests.
News as entertainment is problematic. But we've discovered a relatively new "news" show that has an unhidden bias, but has great wit as well. Last night this show ran tape of a number of the verbal gaffs of the presidential and vice presidential candidates, including some of those who wanted to be the presidential candidate. It was interesting to see if and how each noticed when he made a major mistake in speaking and how each tried to recover.
Those were only short clips, so they are hardly a good measure of the candidates. But making mistakes, realizing it, and reformulating what one says or reformulating a policy is, in my mind, a good measure of the humanity, humility, and wisdom of a leader. Our candidates have sometimes taken an idea, especially a proposal from the opposition, and twisted it enough to make it seem wrong or even evil. I've wondered how much each of them really believes what he is saying? Does he know that he is twisting facts and words? Does his staff ever tell him that he has made an error? If he is told it is wrong, but repeats it anyway, what does that say about his character? I hope whomever wins can actually feel proud of how the campaign was run.
NOTE: He = he/she.

Negative campaign ads that make you think...

I heard an interview a few weeks ago with two guys that supply the voices for the negative campaign ads. One of the men said, well, he had kids to put through college. They demonstrated how they use their voices to make even neutral words sound ominous. It was sadly funny.

Here are a couple of links, assuming I can do them correctly, that show similar inflections. {Somebody please tell my how to correctly put these UTube links in a blog.] Warning: philosophers speak from the grave.

Kierkegaard in '08 Kant Attack Ad

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The opposing thumb

Do you remember being taught in school about how the opposing thumb is what makes us better than the apes? That and our brains, but I do wonder about the brains when I read about how some of the candidates and some of the pundits twist what the other side has said. Well, I digress.

I have developed a pain in the thumb. I don't know if it is a strain, a strain, or perhaps, arthritis, which I do have elsewhere. I have both the heredity type of arthritis that makes the fingers point in all directions and the injury kind in my knees.

And just like when you get a cut on your finger, you discover just how often you use that finger, I have discovered just how often I need to oppose my thumb and forefinger with some force to hold something or open something.

Well, here's to aging.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Music

Monday evening was exciting. Last evening was cerebral. We heard the Graffe String Quartet from the Czech Republic, with Michiko Otaki, pianist.

Janice Martin, concert beyond compare

I got to go to a Janice Martin Quartet concert on Monday evening entitled Fascinating Gershwin. I'm trying to put in a utube link for the first time. Try here to hear a unbelievable performer. I changed the link since yesterday, when I first posted this. The performance I saw didn't include the aerials or orchestra, but rather a 3 piece back up group. WOW.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Anti- science candidates

This article is admittedly one-sided, but it does point out some of the themes of the current political season, when basic research is derided as unnecessary pork barrel spending.

When I was in college, I was required to at least take one class in a number of areas, including the arts and science/math. I see the wisdom of this approach the older I get. Too many people only know their their own area and nothing else. And too many other people have a very shallow overview of many topics, but no deep knowledge in area. And too many people don't read. One thing on TV that is fascinating in a depressing way is when Jay Leno has his Jay Walking segments, where he goes out and interviews people on the street, including teachers. The amount of basic ignorance of our government, history, and life around us is astounding!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Somebody please translate: Palin

from here.

She's also begun to make her own ad hoc calls about the campaign's direction and the ticket's policy. McCain, for instance, has remained silent on Democrats' calls for a stimulus package of new spending, a move many conservatives oppose but that could be broadly popular. But in an interview with the conservative radio host Glenn Beck earlier this week, Palin went "off the reservation" to make the campaign policy, one aide said.

"I say, you know, when is enough enough of taxpayer dollars being thrown into this bill out there?" she asked. "This next one of the Democrats being proposed should be very, very concerning to all Americans because to me it sends a message that $700 billion bailout, maybe that was just the tip of the iceberg. No, you know, we were told when we've got to be believing if we have enough elected officials who are going to be standing strong on fiscal conservative principles and free enterprise and we have to believe that there are enough of those elected officials to say, 'No, OK, that's enough.'"

(A McCain spokeswoman said Palin's statement was "a good sentiment.")

Friday, October 24, 2008

Christians who can see into the future.

Apparently there are some Christians who can see into the future. This would be funny if it weren't so sick and slimy. Warning: Politics at its worst. And I dare say, Christianity at its worst. Well, obviously not followers of Christ.

Lab Test Rant or How I know God isn't a Woman ...

Yesterday I went to the local hospital/clinic to get the lab work done, after having my annual checkup earlier in the week. I was supposed to be "fasting" before the blood draw, and I was compliant. But that also meant that I was "unsuccessful" when I went into the next "room" to have the urine test.

I drank the coffee I had brought with me and ate a PB sandwich as I went to a class I attend regularly. Unfortunately, part of my routine is to use the restroom after this class, which meant I was back to zero. But I quickly drank a can of soda (or pop, if you are from here.)

Back to the hospital I went. There were other people waiting, so that would be a help to me. I was given another cup, so back into the little room I went.

The directions say to catch the urine in mid-stream. Well, women don't get a stream. They get a spray. And that d___ cup is too small. I peed. I brought the cup up to where I could see it. One drop. Try again. Yeah right. My friend was in the blood-draw chair in the next room and I could hear her talking to the lab tech about how her friend was "in there, trying to pee in the cup."

I was there for quite awhile before being barely successful. I finally told the lab tech that "I wasn't pissed." She had to check to see if I made the required minimal amount.

A MAN wrote those directions about “Mid-stream.”

A MAN designed the little cup that doesn’t catch a woman’s spray of urine.

The lab techs are complicit in this, because they are women and they should be more sympathetic.

I’ve always known that God is not a woman, because HE didn’t make it easy for a woman to pee in the woods, but I never before thought about the fact, that

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I gave a short presentation to a group I belong to last evening. About 10 minutes before the meeting was suppose to start, there were only about 5 people in the room. We started speculating, “Where is everybody?” Normally, this group shows up early and there should be at least 25 people. Someone mentioned that Hillary would be speaking that evening in a city of 17,000 people down the road. Would so many of our group go hear her speak rather than attend our monthly meeting? This area is, BTW, one of the areas that the Republicans were saying on national TV would go their way. I don’t understand why they stated that since historically the opposite has been true.

Some of the people said that the radio news had said that at 5:00 pm, at least an hour before the doors would open, about 500 people were already lined up to attend the rally. It was cold out.

Well, our meeting turned out just like usual, so I guess a warm group of not-especially-young friends was more appealing than standing in line to hear Hillary promote the Democratic candidates for President and Senate.

I made sure to catch the early TV news today to see how this rally went. The reporter stated that the crowd numbered almost 5000 people. I’m sure that this is more than a wild guess, since the Hockey Arena where the event was held has a finite number of seats as well as chairs on the floor. I could see how crowded the place was. It appeared that a large number of those in attendance were young women.

This kind of event doesn’t interest me enough to go there. But I was surprised to hear my husband say that he would like to attend something like that. I asked him if he would really do so if he had to wait in line a couple of hours. He reconsidered and said no, but that he would rather hear such a speaker if it weren’t an election year because now there is just too much political posturing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

If the presidential election could be won by humor...

Recently the presidential candidates were at the Al Smith dinner, roasting each other. I just heard this in its entirety on public radio. It is so much more than the excerpts that were shown on the TV news. If you have a chance, look this up on U-Tube under Al Smith dinner. It is well worth it for the humor and the serious statements. I wish that the regular debates and speeches showed this view of our candidates. Humor isn't everything, but I can tell you that John McCain showed his better side at this dinner, and Barack Obama showed that he isn't as stiff as some people portray him.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Time of transitions

Fall is a time of transition. The weather may be bright and beautiful during the day, but there is a chill in the breeze. The leaves turn from their summer wardrobe color to the brilliant “warm” shades of autumn. Animals get ready to hibernate, and humans in the north, get our outside chores done, because we can’t paint, rake or garden when it is cold and damp. Our windows must be washed before the storm windows are put up. The flower pots are dumped because the plants have been frozen. In many families, the children go back to school, but in my family, this is the first fall we’ve had no one in school since 1985.

People are always in some sort of transition, but it becomes more poignant when there are milestones. Our recent family milestones have included our mothers becoming 90 years old, children graduating from college, children moving into their careers, grandchildren arriving, and our own nest emptying.

We had the opportunity to take two trips this fall, including one to western Minnesota in September. I knew there were lakes in the area, but I expected the country side to be flat. But it is a very rolling countryside with lots of lakes and ponds. In fact, one county alone has over 1000 lakes. We visited 5 beautiful state parks on our trip that was also work related.

Last week we went to eastern Wisconsin, along Lake Michigan, to see several relatives. We stayed in a town where my family has been since about 1890. Currently, two elderly family members are in nursing homes, so the family presence there has dwindled to two homes, two people. My sister visits there frequently and has gotten involved in the local historical society. She is trying to help save our stories before they disappear with the people.

Traveling back west across Wisconsin, we went to the Ice Age Visitor Center to learn about how land was shaped by the glaciers and the Kettle Moraine area. I visited this area when I was a child and it was time to learn a bit more about how the unusual land formations came about. [Scientists still have no idea of what caused the kames.] We also stopped for 5 minutes at an overlook of the Horicon Marsh Wildlife area, which is a stopover spot for thousands of migrating waterfowl. We did see, barely in the distance for it is a huge place, some Canada Geese. Visiting this spot has been a dream since childhood, but I’ve always thought one had to wake up at 4:00 am to see the birds.

Southwestern Wisconsin is also a land of hills and valleys, but these are much steeper hills and valleys, along the Mississippi River and inland from there. In the past, many of these valleys were settled by Norwegian immigrant farmers. There seems to be a Lutheran church on many of the hills even when there has never been a nearby town. Most of these churches are two or three point parishes with attendance barely keeping some of them going. This is now the home area of my daughter and her family, at beautiful Sugar Creek Bible Camp.

We also visited Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa climbed the path to the 350’ bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, and drove up to the top in Wyalusing State Park, south of Prairie Du Chien. At Effigy Mounds, over 200 mounds of the early Indian culture are preserved. There are thought to be (or were) 10,000 of these mounds in the upper Midwest area of the US. We then drove up the Mississippi Valley, on the Wisconsin side until we crossed at LaCrosse, then up the Minnesota side, to my husband’s hometown. He grew up with the view of Lake Pepin right out of the picture window! We included an outing to Frontenac State Park on a day of peak fall color.

Ten days flew by; we had to return to home and day to day activities (and catching up.) We would have prolonged the sightseeing at more state parks, but we traveled home in the rain. After arriving home, we found that our leaves had transitioned to "fallen" and the river had gone from the lowest level in 30 years to a medium level.

My intention was to put links in this post, which I did, but suddenly, parts of sentences started moving around all by themselves. Now I'm tired of sitting here. Check back next week for links and pictures.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mark Twain Quote

It was the American Mark Twain who reminded us all that "travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness."

Sunday, October 05, 2008

On the Road Again.......

visiting 10 relatives in 10 days, during the season of Leaf Peeping.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Trinity

Well, I guess I've strayed from faith related topics lately, so I'm posting a link to an article about an upcoming debate here. This is so out of the realm of my Lutheran thinking that I kind of don't get it, but I'm all for not being stuck in a way of thinking just because I've been taught something, although I doubt I'll change my mind. I think I've been taught that considering the Trinity as three persons, with Jesus as subordinate, is an old heresy, long put to rest, but I guess not. But if this sub-group of Christians do consider Jesus as a subordinate part of the Trinity, why do they put so much emphasis on Jesus in song and worship?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


This campaign is really tiring. If it weren't so important, I would totally tune out. 'Course, I guess that if I listen and think about it, nothing changes anyway. I like people who state their own opinions strongly, but don't put others down. That describes the current candidates.... NOT!
Here are some Whoppers to contemplate.

GWB had me convinced that we needed to go into Iraq. I was against the war, but supported the president, yet I thought that would be the beginning of the end of our great country. This political season may put the nail in the coffin.

God's grace is all that is real.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

But has SHE seen it?

SP has made an issue of her foreign policy readiness by stating that Alaska is near Russia. This article reports how a CNN reporter went to check that out on the island of Little Diomede. "As a matter of fact, no Alaska governor in the state’s nearly 50 year history has ever visited the remote outpost that still has little running water. We were curious what the Little Diomeders thought about Palin’s claim of foreign policy experience because of the proximity of Siberia. Interestingly, many of these Alaskans had no idea who Sarah Palin was! It turns out they have no TV on the island, and therefore, many don’t follow the news."

This reminds me of the joke we've heard around here so often, "Its not the end of the world, but you can see it from here." Actually, that place is up the road about 20 miles.

Some of these stupid political arguments and speeches of late remind me of writing essays in freshman English class when we would take any bit of information and fact and stretch it to try to convince the teacher of our own points of view.

And...I just ran across this blog commentary about cramming for the debates, comparing this to cramming for a college exam.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Debate and Patriosim

I liked this commentary. Begala says, "They're both good men; both patriots. But they have fundamentally different views about the future of our nation. Debating those differences is a beautiful form of patriotism."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Free Palin

Interesting commentary here. Do you think that McCain is treating Palin differently than he would treat a man? And why do people often call her "Sarah" when they don't call McCain "John?"

BTW, Brown is the same reporter that I saw interviewing a McCain spokesperson during the first evening of the Republican convention, the non-convention evening. She was repeating her question over and over in a mild tone of voice and trying to get the spokesperson to stay on the subject of the question rather than talk about the Dems. She was not hostile nor disrespectful, although the man accused her of something like that, and the next day McCain's camp said that her network couldn't have an interview with McCain.

This commentary, however, isn't the least bit neutral. But I do think it brings up a good question: Why can't we hear from Sarah Palin herself? What are they hiding? What are they afraid of?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Protecting the Great Lakes

This article is about protecting the Great Lakes from diversion to other states and countries. It is more complicated that it sounds because several of the states that border on one of the lakes also have a substantial part of the state's land in other water basins. Some Canadian provinces have also been working of similar legislation.

What really caught my attention is the phrase "death by a thousand straws." At last, government is being proactive on an environmental issue.

Too Easy Credit

Wouldn't you think, after the disaster on Wall Street and the mortgage melt-down, that companies would be more careful about easy credit? NOT! We got a notice from our credit card company that they were reissuing our cards with a new account number due to some sort of cyber fraud or stealing of the account numbers. I had to call a phone number to activate the new cards. That meant talking to someone with an accent, who did what was necessary on his computer, and then tried to talk me into accepting a check for $8000, interest free until February, 2008. "No thank you." "Well, the check is ... and it expires if you don't deposit it....bla bla bla." "No thank you." Well, bla bla bla." "No thank you." "Ok." Sheesh.

And what a boring job he must have. I wonder if he gets a commission. My son tried a cold calling job a few years ago and lasted only one day. Some people have no choices.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Issue of trust!

I can’t remember an election season in which I’ve personally paid as much attention to what is going on with the candidates and their electioneering. Maybe it is because I get a lot of my news from the ‘net and I also now have satellite TV, so I could, if I wanted to, watch news 24/7. Maybe it is because the political ads seem so, well, in-your-face. Maybe it is because Pres. Bush has such a low approval rating and so many people want a change, whatever that means. Just maybe, yes, actually, it is because it seems that the state-of-the-world is so frightening and dangerous these days, that we really do care who are leaders will be and what they stand for.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have always thought that anyone running for president must be a little nuts and unrealistic. That said, I think that one of the qualities that I most want in a president is leadership, i.e. the ability to inspire us all to do more together than we would do on our own. Of course, I pray that our new president will have insight, foresight, and look to the long term good of the world, not just his/her friends, and even, not just for our own country. We need a president who is aware of the rest of the world, the deep poverty and despair in certain areas as well as the “development” and “progress” in other areas. We are no longer the country with the biggest and best, tallest and most expensive everything. We need a president who will be able to contemplate our place in the world that is in, as one writer called it, “the post-American world.”

And what do we get: political ads and commentary focused on hairdos hunting and guns, sex education in kindergarten{old reference] (and here), family values and use of children in campaigning and accusations hurled at the other candidates, which sometimes contain, according to the fact checker groups, distortions, if not outright lies. Candidates are tied to people who may or may not represent the view of that candidate or his party, as in this reference to immigration. Each side accuses the other (and here) of something different on economic issues even when they seem to be agreeing. Each side says it will lower taxes and accuses the other side of saying that it will raise taxes because they present only a portion of the tax plan. "However, commercials run this year represent a break with this general pattern. Attack ads broadcast in recent months have twisted the truth, lied about personal background, taken statements out of context, and clearly sought to manipulate voter sentiments." quoted from Darrell M. West is vice president and director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. and the author of "Air Wars: Television Advertising in Election Campaigns, 1952-2004."

And the political spokespeople defend these distortions with new distortions of their own. I saw one interview where the reporter kept asking the same question because the spokesperson kept changing the subject to the ills of the other candidate. Finally the spokesperson started attacking the reporter’s motives. I’ve seen interviews in which the candidate’s answer to any questions is “I will bring change” with zero specifics being given. Is that because the candidate doesn’t even grasp the issues? We have to trust that change is good and that change means moving the country in the direction that I want it to go.

Even in our senatorial campaign has sunk to that level, including video of one of the candidates losing his temper. Each ad is a slam against the other major candidate, with nothing positive about the “approving” candidate’s own stance. We actually have an Independence Party candidate in our state who is a viable candidate due to serving out a term in the Senate after the death of Senator Paul Wellstone. I think all the negative campaigning will drive people in his direction.

All of these candidates are eroding their trustworthiness in my mind. The major presidential candidates pledged to keep the campaigning from getting negative. They’ve broken that promise. They say things that are not factual in some cases, as opposed to just another interpretation of the same thing. Does that mean that they are deliberately lying or are they parroting what they’ve been told to say or do they understand the issue so poorly that they don’t know that they are not telling the whole story?

Well, none of this is new in politics. But one of these people will be our president. I would think that a president wants to be trusted and believed. Apparently they don’t understand that TRUST is built, it doesn’t automatically come with a title.

Also try listening to this. and if that doesn't work, read this.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What I did on my vacation:

Visited the Runstone Museum where I enjoyed learning about the Kensington Runestone.

Drove past about 1000 lakes and ponds. No, I'm not exaggerating. One county has 1048 lakes.

Visited several wonderful state parks: Lake Carlos, Maplewood, Glendalough, Crow Wing, and Mille Lacs Kathio State Parks. When we've talked to the park rangers this year and in the last few years, they've been discrete, but when we've asked them specific questions about what they are doing in the parks, staffing, improvements, etc. they have told us that the state's budget situation, i.e. priorities, have caused many of these fine parks to cut services, staff, and close buildings. We've seen this first hand in many of the parks.

Since we've become empty nesters, we've set a goal of visiting all the state parks. In these last few years, we've visited 18 parks, but in the last 30 years, we visited 43 of the parks, totally.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Keeping up

I'm keeping up with Ike and Sarah while at a resort/conference center on a lake in western Minnesota, or as my husband would term it: a scar on the shore of a lake that was beautiful. We are not here for vacation, although for me it is a vacation. I still think that my 21 year old daughter should have been named the Veep candidate, as she also has run a business, but she has actually been to all parts of the world except South America, and when she was on these travels, it was to where the real people live, not just to where the rich Americans play.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

stolen quote on Politicians

Saying for the Day
Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel. ~John Quinton

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

If your brother sins against you.

Matthew 18: 15 – 17 (Sermon reflections.)

This passage as traditionally been used as a basis for cutting off contact with people who have broken the rules of a group or who have done something that offends a person or group. Within the Christian tradition, it has been used as the basis for excommunication or shunning.

The passage assumes that the other party has indeed done something wrong as it says, “If your brother sins against you…” This also assumes that there originally was a closeness between the two parties. But it does not say that the other party has to change or repent, only “listen to you.” If he doesn’t listen, then take along witnesses so that “every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Obviously the issue must be something that happened before the witnesses or they could not testify to anything. However, witnesses could observe the discourse between the parties.

Then if the person still doesn’t listen, then go before the church. If he still doesn’t listen, “treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

So how do we treat pagans or tax collectors? This is where the shunning comes in. The Chosen People weren’t supposed to mix with the pagans or Gentiles. Tax collectors represented Rome, so even if they were Jews, they became societal outcasts. Shunning doesn’t mean overt action against people, but rather implies cutting off contact or considering them to be a Non-Person, so to speak.

But we could also rightly ask, how did Jesus treat the pagans and the tax collectors? Jesus always seems to disregard those boundaries. He actually invited Matthew, the tax collector to be one of his disciples. Jesus talked to women and Gentiles, who then helped spread the Gospel of his love. Jesus forgave people even if they were on the other side of these lines.

How on earth can one carry out the Great Commission if we keep within our boundaries?

[During the present season of Political Rhetoric, I can’t help but think that more would be accomplished if there were fewer accusations thrown out into the airwaves and more spirit of coming together and “witnessing” to each other with our various viewpoints. Obviously, the political posturing isn’t meant to bring people together, but rather to divide. Then we will all have to live with the consequences, regardless of who wins.]

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Random Political Thoughts and Opinions

I was all set on Friday morning to offer up a few thoughts about the speeches at the Democratic convention, but then I got caught up in watching Sarah Palin’s introduction on TV. I was too interested in being in the great outdoors and in real life to be at the computer on the weekend. Now I’ve seen much of what the Republicans have to say.

Although I lean toward the Democratic position on many things, I have voted for both parties in the past. There that is my disclaimer. Here are some of my thoughts and opinions:

Anybody who runs for President has to be just a little nuts. And ambitious. I don’t understand the political mindset.

Anybody who brings their family onto the literal political stage is asking for questions about the members of that family and their own place in that family. You can’t trot them out and then cry foul at the questions. And if you didn’t get this ahead of time, I can bet that the “handlers” did and that they were “using” those family members. The Obamas had the girls present for an interview and later regretted it, yet, there were those girls at the convention. All the Palins, except the one in the Army, were at the airport publicly greeting McCain. This is after there were criticisms about family matters. Which way do they want it?????

Many of the comments regarding Bristol Palin weren’t called for. People are making all kinds of assumptions about private matters that they know nothing about. Leave her alone. Yet, it was the family that made the announcement. I wanted to barf when I heard people saying that because the daughter is pg that makes Palin seem more human. Huh? She wasn’t human before?

While it may be sexist to ask how can a woman be in a high office when she has kids at home, etc, it is a legitimate question because we want to know how she will use her time that she will be paid for. Will tax payer money be flying her back and forth to Alaska every weekend? But it does, in some ways, demean the husband in that family. It is NOT true that this hasn’t been brought up regarding Obama. I saw it addressed in a CNN documentary about him and I saw it referred to in print. Michelle Obama mentioned the difficulties for her family when he was in Springfield, and she mentioned that in the White House it would actually be better. How often will he leave the Oval Office to spend time with his kids?

Actually, all the questions regarding Palin being a mother and how can she do it, etc. show that people still regard the mother as the most important parent, rightly or wrongly. But not working doesn’t necessarily mean being emotionally present for the children. I’ve witnessed this more than once with some of my friends, unfortunately. It would be legitimate to have the same concerns regarding all the parents that we’ve sent to war. Emotionally neglected children suffer, even when it is the dad who spends most of his evenings with business clients while climbing the corporate ladder.

As a rural, small town person, I think the real “ism” that came out in regard to Palin is that she isn’t from a city, therefore can’t possibly have what it takes to compete on the big stage. I’ve heard this too many times myself. What city people don’t understand is that in a small town and small school, ordinary people get more opportunity to be leaders than they would in a city.

Political jabs can be entertaining. They can also be misleading, overly simplistic, and sometimes they contain lies cloaked in clever language. There are now several web pages put out by news organizations which purport to compare truth and reality regarding the “facts” and “tax cuts” stated in the speeches. Here's one looking at both sides. I hope thinking people check out the truth from both sides. I don’t count on that. It is easy to be persuaded to a point of view when that is the only one we listen to. Or as my sister said, “They were speaking to the choir.” I’ve checked out several web pages where people post their thoughts and opinions after these speeches. Some of those “choir” members have rather snarky and even hateful opoinions.

When I was listening to Obama, I found myself agreeing with many of his goals. However, the only specific phrase of his speech that stayed with me is “I will ____.” After about a dozen of these statements, I turned to my husband and said, “Huh? In a 24 hour day?” He laughed. Why phrase a goal that needs the cooperation of many people to even hope to accomplish in a way that makes it sound like he himself is doing it all? That is bound to set any politician up for failure.

Lastly, I cannot respect the Cut Taxes mindset. This country has great needs and also a huge debt. It needs to be paid by the generation that is creating it, not by my grandchildren. One of the fact checking websites showed that under each persons’ plans, the taxes would actually rise. I don’t understand that hocus pocus, but a tax preparer told me that he never saw anybody’s taxes go down under the Regan Tax Cut.

My own proposal is that there needs to be an “I’m glad I’m an American” voluntary tax that we, especially the people who have made it big because of our wonderful country, could pay into to help off set our debt. I suppose that has the same chance of success as getting people in our churches to tithe.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fox News says:

DENVER — Mindful of the pitfalls of hosting cocktail parties while Gulf Coast residents are being evacuated, John McCain’s campaign suggested Thursday that Republicans could postpone their upcoming national convention in St. Paul if Tropical Storm Gustav makes landfall over the weekend.”

Considering all the work that has been put into the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul, I would guess that there would be more than a few people put out if this happens. And considering that there was a right leaning commentator who asked (tongue in cheek or not???) people to pray for rain tonight on Obama’s speech, this is certainly an interesting development.

Since the Republican Convention is in MY state, I have more than a passing interest in how it all plays out. And should our governor, Pawlenty, become the Veep pick, well, I’m just about ready to say, “Good Riddance” except that I wouldn’t want him to be a heart beat away from the presidency. He presents himself well, but his fiscal policies have deeply hurt some of the institutions that affect me personally: nursing homes (scores have closed), libraries (hours shortened considerably), schools (funds cut, cut, cut), state parks (hours of the Park Rangers have been cut to the point that some have moved out of state.) They’ve even cut back on the guys who paint the lines down the centers of the highways. All these changes took place before the current financial situation, when incomes and spending in the private sector were still good, so they are now magnified by the downturn in the economy. BTW, Pawlenty in the spell check comes out Aplenty, and we don’t have a plenty.