Monday, November 25, 2013

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,

      his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

Lamentations 3:22-23
This was the view from my bedroom window this morning.  The glory of God all over everything.  How often he gives us these spectacular color displays as we start a new day!  And when we end our day as well!

The Lord is good all the time.  It is so easy to take his ongoing and lavish gifts for granted.  May we always be grateful!

Friday, November 22, 2013

When I wrote the previous post I had not realized that today is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, may he rest in peace.

When the assassination happened I was in third grade, in Sister Joseph Therese's classroom at St. John the Baptist School in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  If my memory serves me correctly, Sister was called into the hallway by someone who spoke to her.  When she came back into the classroom, she had a look on  her face very similar to when we were about to get into very big trouble.  She then quietly said that President Kennedy had been shot and killed.  I believe we were all dismissed then to go home.

Even as young as we were, we all knew that something very, very horrible had just happened.  The adults were all crying.  I remember my family watching television as the president's body arrived back in Washington.  Jackie came off the plane with the president's blood still splattered on her outfit.  I remember my mother's gasp.  Later, I hear her talking to a friend and marveling that no one had gotten Jackie another outfit to wear.  Only recently I learned that the First Lady had not changed clothes intentionally, so that the country could truly see the horror of what had happened.

It was a terrible tragedy and one of my earliest memories of a public event.  God rest the souls of the Kennedy family who have passed on.  And may the Lord console Caroline Kennedy in a special way today as she recalls this terrible loss as the only one left of the immediate Kennedy family.

Lord have mercy.
Fall is coming to an end in Michigan, at least the spectacularly beautiful part.  The colors are mostly gone except for the brown of the dead leaves still hanging on.  Frost is becoming more common.  Scraping the windows in the morning has once again become something to keep in mind when planning how to arrive at destinations on time.  The glory of Michigan Autumn is transitioning to the character building adversity of our beautiful winter.  Time to religiously apply hand cream if I don't want my thumbs to crack.  Time to be sure heavy coats are worn, or at least are in the car, in the case of a breakdown.  Time to get out ALL the gloves and mittens.

That being the case, why I am I writing about something that is quintessentially associated with Autumn?  Because I never got around to writing about it when it was happening!! OK?

Liz with her friend Jonathan at the starting point of pumpkin carving.

Our family has enjoyed pumpkin carving for many years.  We've done simple patterns and complicated patterns, patterns with personal significance (like university logos), scary patterns, and darling patterns.
I've only recently realized that not everyone knows how very easy this is to do.

Patterns are available everywhere...Meijers, online, etc.

You take your paper pattern and tape or pin it to the pumpkin, folding the paper over the folds of the pumpkin.  Then, using a push pin, you push little holes into the pumpkin along the lines of the pattern.  When the paper is removed you have the pattern to cut outlined on the pumpkin.  Then all you have to do is cut it out!

Special pumpkin cutting tools are probably essential.  They usually come with the patterns if you buy them at a drugstore or Meijers, etc.  They're little, cheap serrated saws and knives.  Sometimes you can find just the tools, separate from the patterns too.  Once we even found a little battery powered electric saw.  Of course, my husband had to have that. :-)

Sometimes advice from the old pro is helpful.

The cat was Mary's, a pattern she's done before.  Always impressive, it's not that difficult because there are no odd angles and all the lines are pretty easy to cut.

 Jonathan did "the joker."  This was difficult and an impressive first project.  You can see the many little lines.  It took a long time.  In fact, he and Liz just barely finished theirs before the trick-or-treaters started to arrive.

Liz did this "Tinkerbell."  It was also difficult, with very small lines and several parts, like the wings, where you only cut partway through so the light is a little diffused.

Fun family projects!  What I love about pattern pumpkin carving is that all ages can enjoy it, with the possible exception of the very young, and even they can do simple patterns with some help.

And everyone enjoys the results!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ann Arbor Pedestrian Traffic

Ann Arbor is an interesting place to live in a lot of ways.  Opportunities to hear magnificent music, great restaurants, lots of art (some interesting, some beautiful, some just stupid, in my humble opinion :-)...the community has a lot to offer.

Pedestrian traffic, however, is not one of its advantages.  Around the university driving is a nightmare.  It really is.  I have been dropping my daughter off at campus each morning and it terrifies me.  As soon as you get to the streets around campus, State Street in particular, the pedestrians seem to be unable to see cars.  I feel like I'm driving under an invisibility cloak.  Students cross wherever they want.  They cross diagonally.  They come out from between parked cars. They literally will walk right in front of your car without even looking up.  They're like toddlers who have not been taught that streets are dangerous.

I'm an attentive driver.  I focus on my driving.  But what I'm used to doing is watching very closely all the cars around me, the traffic signs, etc.  I associate driving with these actions.  I think everyone does.  But on State Street it's equally important, if you don't want to kill someone and I don't, to watch all the pedestrians anywhere near you, the ones on the sidewalks as well as those who may pop out from between two cars.  You never know when they're going to appear on the street in front of you.  And there are hundreds of them.  Sometimes they run out ....without even looking.  It's as though you must assume that every student at U of M has no knowledge of cars and what they can do.

There is about a four block stretch where I am literally turning my head 90 degrees, back and forth, all the time.  First the sidewalk on my left, then the street, then the sidewalk on my right.  And I have to keep doing this, rather rapidly, over and over again.  I go quite slowly because if a car stops suddenly in front of me I may not notice it for a second or two, so focused am I on the pedestrians about to walk out in front of me.

It's like one of those computer games or hand held games where you have to keep rapidly dodging the bombs or whatever they are that are coming at you.  I hate those games too.

Anyway, God bless these pedestrians.  May they stay safe.  And may the Lord keep my eyes wherever they need to be, to see whatever I need to see.

One more piece of advice to give to our college bound students.  Wherever you go to school, regardless of the tone of the community you will be living in, don't forget that cars are big and heavy and dangerous.  Having the legal right of way as a pedestrian does not in any way guarantee your safety if you walk in front of a car.  Use good judgement.  Don't walk in front of a car unless it is stopped and the driver has made eye contact with you.  You'll still get where you're going plenty fast enough.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thought for the Day:  If you're raising a large family and you are also trying to have a clean, neat, and organized house you can kiss your mind good-bye.  Just sayin'.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Facebook...I love it.  I hate it.  OK, I love it.

I hate the time it seems to devour.  You start to read your feed and before you know it 20 minutes have passed.  Or more.

The superficiality of the posts can also be annoying.  Pictures of your dinner, complete with alcoholic beverage?  Really?  I like to hear little bits of news from my friends.  Photos are always nice.  New baby pictures are wonderful...

Truth be told, I really like the political posts.  I like the links to interesting articles.  I hate it when people complain about political posting.  Is thinking not allowed on Facebook?  Is there some reason why people think the expression of political opinions is offensive?  Do they not want to be bothered with news of anything significant happening in our country or world?  It's as though they're saying, "Please, only shallow, meaningless communication here.  Leave our apathy alone."  Hmmm.  I don't understand that.  We are called to think.  We are called to discern.  We are called to be informed citizens.

So what do I love about Facebook?  I love keeping up with friends I have not seen in a long time, especially through photos of what they are doing.  I love the occasional Scrabble game.  I think it's wonderful to share prayer requests and to get updates about prayers answered and requests for continued prayers.  And it's very convenient to send someone a quick message using Facebook.  For people who are on FB often, this is quite likely the fastest way to get a message to them.  

I like the birthday reminders.  I like receiving birthday wishes from people who would not otherwise know my birthday.  And I like sharing photos.  (And I like seeing what my adult children are doing....)

Facebook is often getting a bad rap.  I think it really enhances social connections....(as long as you don't let it pull away too much of your valuable time.)

Thursday, November 07, 2013


Texting.....OK, I mostly love it.

It's great to send my children a quick message.  Remember when you couldn't get a message to your child at school unless it was an "emergency?"  It's great to just send them a quick text.  "I'll be a few minutes late."  "How late does that meeting go again?"  Etc.

When I'm picking someone up I can just send a text saying "Here."  Very convenient.

Texting also saves time.  If I just have a quick question for someone a text is very efficient.  "Where shall we meet"  "Are you here?"  Etc.

But texting is impersonal.  Yes, it takes less time but it also is completely devoid of the niceties that actual conversation includes.  "Nice talking to you."  "Have a great day."  "Let's get together soon."  "Thanks for calling."  Some of our young people might be surprised to learn that you end phone conversations in that manner.  Why would they be surprised?  Because they rarely make phone calls.  There is something a whole lot more personal about responding to a person's voice than responding to a person's written text.  And, at least for the time being, it is still necessary to sometimes make a phone call.  Young people need more practice on the phone.  It doesn't come as naturally to them as it did to my generation.  

Again, I think it is rude to text in the presence of a real, live person without asking said real live person if they mind.  Explain why you need to do it, or why you need to read a text, and ask if they mind.  Then do it quickly and put the phone away.  It's particularly rude to text or read a text during a meal.  My rule is don't do it unless it's truly very, very urgent and even then, only with permission from the people present.  Ask for their permission.  Even if you know what their answer is going to be.  That's courtesy.  

Next post?   Facebook.  I love it.  I hate it.  Truth be told, I mostly love it.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

My Love/Hate Relationship with Technology

I used to really hate some of the new technology.  My father was always fascinated with it.  When cell phones were first coming out he bought me one.  It was huge.  It could barely fit in my purse.  They were so uncommon then that when I got a call in a store I would try to hide behind a rack to talk so as not to draw a lot of attention.  It was embarrassing.  Still, it was reassuring to have one while driving in case there was an emergency.  I think that's why he bought it.

Now I don't go anywhere without my cell phone.  When my kids leave the house that's the last thing I ask.  "Do you have your cell phone?"  When I occasionally forget mine I feel very vulnerable in the car.  What if my car breaks down.  I guess I would then walk to the next exit just as everyone used to do. :-)

But cell phones have their downside too.  Here's my take on technology:

Cell phones--  I love.....the convenience.  I love to be able to reach my family members anytime.  I love that they can reach me.  I love that meeting places never need to be arranged any more.  We just call each other.  (although this time-this place agreements always worked pretty well too.)  I love that no one gets lost in a crowd anymore.  And I love the safety of always having a phone with you.

I hate that people are answering them even when they are in the middle of a conversation with you.  My new rule for my children is the following.  No looking at a screen of any kind, for any reason, when there is a real live person in your presence.  If it's an urgent call, ask the people you're with if they mind if you take this call,  explain why you need to, and then step away from them a little bit.  Make the call brief.  The real live people must be given a priority.

Never, ever answer a cell phone call when you are seated at a table with other people, as for a meal.  In fact, it's best to turn your phone off.  Nearly every call can wait.

I can see this is going to take a while.  In the next post I'm going to write about how I love/hate texting.