Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009

Everything moves very slowly or not at all when it comes to keeping a blog these days. This happened to me at the beginning of December. Now here it is the end of December before I had a chance to get it all written down.

Driving bus in the afternoon . . . turned on to a gravel road. The road grader had just gone.
There was not a track except for what the maintainer had left behind.

I marveled at the color of the gravel, a beautiful rusty brown.
Thought of the satisfaction the maintainance man must have felt to leave this perfect road.
Ellis used to run a road grader in MT when we lived there. He got the whole process down to a fine art. I felt like I was driving on a piece of fine art.

This road made me think of house wives long ago who sanded their kitchen floors. I've only read about this in books . . . The Witch of Blackbird Pond and some of L.M. Montgomery's books. Sounds foreign to me. Why they wanted/needed to put sand on their kitchen floors is beyond me. I'm sure there was a reason for it.

Anyway as I drove down this lovely road and dropped off three students I thought about the past three months of autumn.

September -- hot with not a drop of rain. Day after day of drought.
Bus #7 bumped and skittered across this very same road. There were potholes and rumble strips and dust.

October -- rain or snow all month long. Cool wet rain . . . running down the window panes. Dripping off the ears of corn in the fields. Splashing in the mud puddles.
We were waiting, wondering, "Are we going to have an Indian Summer?"

November -- day after day of sunshine again. Farmers harvesting the crops. So much joy and satisfaction watching the combines and tractors and trucks and wagons . . .
. . . and road graders. They were on a roll, too. Going over the roads, cutting out the pot holes and rumbles strips.

Thought of that jingle we used to write in our friends autograph books.

Your life lies before you
Like a field of driven snow
Be careful how you step on it
'Cause every step will show.

I could say:

Your life lies before you
Just like a gravel road
Be careful how you drive on it
'Cause every track will show.

ooops it doesn't rhyme. How's this?

Your life lies before you
Just like a gravel road
Be careful how you drive on it
You might run over a toad.

Definately not fine poetry. But I thought of how my life is like this gravel road. Sometimes there are deep potholes. Dreadful, bumpy places . . . rumble strips . . . dry dusty times . . .
Then rains come
Cold, dreary, days
Wet, streaming, splashing water
The sun eventually comes out and dries out the muddy places.
It's time for the Master road grader to come along and cut the edges. A furrow of dirt is left in the middle of the road. The blade is slanted just so to make a crown on the road so water will shed properly. The Master comes back again to spread the furrrow out. My road is ready for trucks and cars and pickups and buses to drive on again.

Maybe all those vehicles are symbols of the many relationships in my life. Husband, children
parents, brothers, sisters, extended family, friends, aquaintances, perfect strangers I meet along the way . . .

I am so grateful for Jesus, my Master.
He came to this world as a babe in the manger.
He was willing to give His life for you and me.

a quote from:

Take Joy!
The Tasha Tudor Christmas Book

I salute you! There is nothing I can give you which you have not; but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant. Take peace.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet, within our reach, is joy. Take joy!
And so, at this Christmas time I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.


Best wishes to all of you this holiday season
~ from the Harshbargers!

Monday, November 30, 2009

the weird things we say sometimes

foot in mouth . . . . again
Last week there was a day when I was late for everything.
I was late for my cleaning job. That in turn made me late for driving bus.
(The first time this has ever happened I might add.)

We pull into diagonal slots at the high school so it wasn't an inconvenience for anyone else. We used to park bumper to bumper at the high school. That would have been more tricky. I was there before the first students came out the door. We have some extra time built in to the schedule for just such a day as this.

After driving bus I wanted to run to the bank. Squeaked in the door at 4:54 P.M. They close at 5:oo P.M.

Carol's window was open. As I filled out the deposit ticket I moaned, "Tt seems like I've been running late all day."

She laughed and said, "Oh you have a few minutes before we close."

I glanced at the clock and said, "But I'm holding you up."

Then I thought how that might sound. in a bank . . . at the counter . . .

I said, "I didn't mean that!"

Carol laughed. The gal at the next window laughed and said, "Now if you had said, 'Stick 'em up!' we might be worried."

Carol turned around and waved at the security camara and said, "Just delete that last bit. She didn't mean it."

Nice to have such a friendly bank at times like this.

Carol started teasing me again. "I can just picture the headlines in the paper."


That started us on the subject of the media -- as in the bus accident a couple days before.
The media is digging up dirt about the bus driver from the 90's . . . . never mind that apparently he went through all the hoops to correct the wrong he did back then. Now he was employed again and suffering from a medical condition that caused this accident . . .

and this computer has a mind of its own I guess
I don't know what button I accidently pushed to cause the first part to publish while I was in the middle of writing ={

maybe I corrected it "all by myself this time" said the little red hen. let's see what happens
I am clicking on *publish post*

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Bit of the Orange

Thoughts about the *opinion* quote keep running through my mind.

"I have resigned myself to having less and less resolute opinions."
-- a quote from Amel Larrieux, singer-songwriter, published on the side of a Tall Chai Latte
from the book -- How Starbucks Saved My Life by MICHAEL GATES GILL

I have been very opinionated in the past. I think obnoxiously so . . . hopefully my family can see some improvement in this area of my life.

Seems like over time my opinions are trampled in the dust. After awhile I start to wonder -- what is going on here?

This is the gal who had opinions about the care and upkeep of a house
the care and upkeep of vehicles, yard, gardens, outbuildings
-- how to raise children
-- how many children a family should have
-- how a child should behave in church, a store, in short -- everywhere
-- how a husband should act, speak, behave, etc.
-- how I should act, speak, behave, etc

opinions on debt . . . we shouldn't owe a ton of money
opinions on weight . . . we shouldn't weigh a ton
opinions on:
- speech
- dress
- activities for families, young people, children, etc.
- school, teachers, grading system, curriculum

- using things up, wearing it out, saving things in case you might need it some day . . . now they say you have a disease if you keep things for future use. I've been told -- if you dig in dumpsters for pop cans or other things to recycle you are a sick person.

- opinions on headaches and what to take for headaches
how to avoid headaches -- for instance don't make triple batches of two kinds of cookies and then get a headache and flee to your bedroom and leave your mom and Aunt Dawn to bake the cookies and wash the stacks of dishes
(sorry, Julia . . . now that I have a splitting headache and am experimenting with Tylenol versus Ibuprofen to get relief my opinions on all of that came home to roost)
In other words *I know how you felt*
Actually I feel like I have triple batches of ten different kinds of cookies in my kitchen (figuratively speaking)

I am truly feeling *lower than the belly of a snake* about now
Funny how these old sayings come back to be rolled over and over in my mind
Like this one my mother quoted for my sisters and me when we were little . . .
"You aren't the only pebble on the beach"
I suppose when we were fighting . . .

-- or this one in The Secret Garden

Dickon's mother, Susan Sowerby says: "Once when I was givin' th' children a bit of a preach after they'd been fightin' I ses to 'em all, 'When I was at school my jography told as th' world was shaped like a orange an' I found out before I was ten that th' whole orange doesn't belong to nobody. No one owns more than his bit of a quarter an' there's times it seems like there's not enow quarters to go round. But don't you - none o' you- think as you own th' whole orange or you'll find out you're mistaken, an' you won't find it out without hard knocks.' What children learns from children," she says, "is that there's no sense in grabbin' at th' whole orange - peel an' all. If you do, you'll likely not get even th' pips, an' them's too bitter to eat." '

For the life of me I can't figure out why I thought these quotes were connected with the many opinions I used to have -- unless those weren't opinions but very lofty, unrealistic ideals . . .

make that lofty, unrealistic expectations . . . of myself and my family.

My poor aching head.
It must be time to quit these ramblings.
Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Friday, October 30, 2009

this.. that.. and the other thing

Still busier than busy. Ellis should get some sort of special reward sometime for going above and beyond the call of duty for his customers.

In the meantime I'm selfishly thinking "We need you here at home too!" And he doesn't get paid nearly enough . . . Sorry -- that truly was a loud grumble

(on a thankful note) part-time help has been hired . . . a neighbor that lives straight north of us on the other side of the woods. His daughters used to come to Vacation Bible School eons ago. That was way back when Jeremy and Evan went to VBS so it's been a few years.

One of my friends had a horrendous cold that went on and on for weeks. Evan was coughing and coughing like crazy, too, here in our household. There is every sort of rumor going around about this flu. In the meantime we're taking lots of vitamin C and drinking lots of water and have never felt better. Well, I suppose in our childhood we didn't wake up with quite so many creaks and groans but you know what I mean.

Here are some poems from:
The Laura Ashley Anniversary Book of Delights

How unconcerned the grazing sheep
Behaving in such manner;
They stand upon their breakfast, they
Lie down upon their dinner.

This would not seem so strange to us
If fish grew round our legs,
If we had floors of marmalade
And beds of buttered eggs.

- - - - - - - -
Remember that the most beautiful
things in the world are the most useless;
peacocks and lilies for instance.

- - - - - - - - -

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep and cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.


'Tis dog's delight to bark and bite
And little birds to sing,
And if you sit on a red-hot brick
It's a sign of an early spring.


[with a picture of a girl jumping sky high off a red-hot brick =]

I arranged the books in my bedroom in towers
I -- orange with some yellow orange,
II -- green and cream and some brown,
III -- purple and lavender and cream,
IV -- pink and pale yellow,
V -- all shades of blue . . .

Maybe the towers will reach up to the ceiling before I get done. I have a bunch more to do.
I got the idea from a magazine picture advertising shelves from IKEA . . .

What do you think of this one--is it true or just so much gibberish?

"I have resigned myself to having less and less resolute opinions."
-- a quote from Amel Larrieux, singer-songwriter, published on the side of a Tall Chai Latte
from the book -- How Starbucks Saved My Life by MICHAEL GATES GILL

Last night Jorgan was proudly showing us his new snow board.
He was reading the product registration paraphernalia

Here are some of the questions:
What is your favorite CD?
What are your favorite magazines?
What three things would you want if you were stranded on a desert island?
1. ________________

We all stared at each other in astonishment.
"Does it really ask that?"

Before any of us had time to respond --
Krysta popped up with this,
"Food, water and a boat.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

no brakes -- freewheeling

back again

So I was driving the little S 10 pickup on a gravel road, humming along at a nice clip. Straight ahead is a field of corn. There are corn fields on either side of me. The road makes a 90 degree turn to the left. I stepped on the clutch and took it out of gear. Started stepping on the brakes so I could turn the corner. Suddenly realized there are no brakes.

I heard my voice yelping, "NO BRAKES!?! as I skimmed along . . . the corn field getting closer and closer. I thought briefly about trying to take the corner but scratched that idea. As I contemplated my options I saw a grassy field lane leading into the field. Steered the pickup down this little lane and aimed for the corner of the corn field. Noticed a stray stalk of corn off to the side of the field. The pickup squeezed between the field and the lone corn stalk like going through a doorway. I mowed over some weeds and a midget corn stalk. On the other side of the *door* was a patch of bare ground. If it had been planted at one time it was drowned out or something. Bounced along for a short time and stopped. I looked all around, put it in reverse and backed up -- being careful not to hit the stray corn stalk. Glanced both ways and out on to the road again. Drove the rest of the way to the barn very carefully and slowly.

As I was driving I remembered there is this thing called *downshifting* and I probably wouldn't have coasted along like that if I'd just put it back in the next lower gear and let the engine slow the pickup down. Or let out the clutch --

When I told this story to my family they gave me all sorts of advice on what I could have done or what I should do if this ever happens again . . . . heaven forbid! Jeremy drove the S 10 the next day and promptly came home and took it apart "before it kills someone."

I keep thinking about that feeling of *no control* as I barrelled along . . . even tho it was only 30 mph it gave me a helpless sensation. It was a little like "Wait . . . I've felt like this before." . . . . when life is out of control and things are happening to me that I can not stop or change. I look all around at all the options and call out to God in my helplessness. He has always heard and provided a way for me to go -- just like finding that grassy field lane.

Some day the WAY He provides may be a bumpy road or a rocky path or even a tumble down a steep cliff. He is with me no matter what. That is a comfort for me.

Hope I can finish that other story soon. ;]

Friday, July 24, 2009

Deanne is far away in North Dakota so she can't help me. I was trying to finish my post . . . not publish it.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"How old were you when you saw a pig for the first time?" Krysta was chattering in the back seat of the suburban and to be truthful I was not paying much attention until she asked this question.

That started a trip down memory lane . . . when was the first time I met a pig outside a story book? There was that huge pig that Debbie Gingerich allegedly rode. Maybe there was a pig in Grandpa's barn. We butchered pigs one cold winter day with two other families -- kind of our own *Butchering Day* just like Laura and Mary in Little House in the Big Woods -- and no, we didn't blow up the bladder and pretend it was a balloon.

But I'd have to say the first time I met a pig that I remember was way back when Ellis and Jerry managed a hog unit in the 80's. That wasn't just one pig, but hundreds of pigs. Jeremy and I would go along to the barn on weekends and help.

This spring has been a bit like turning the clock back since Ellis and Evan took on the job of doing chores at two hog barns. (I'm so glad we didn't tie into four barns as we planned at first!) This is turning into a family project involving everyone.

Like this evening with Krysta chattering away in the back seat and me driving along unfamiliar gravel roads . . . out to find Evan's barn and take supper to the guys. Evan gave me verbal directions the other day and I think I followed along. Let's see . . . take hwy 35 to 30 and then instead of turning left as we normally do turn right. Okay so far. One mile and there are two barns on the left. That doesn't seem like the right place. It should be only one barn. Turn on that road anyway and start driving west. There off to the right is one lonely barn with a long lane leading to it. The sky is rosy behind it and there will be a beautiful sunset.

Gravel crunches under the tires as we pull in behind the pickup. Supper for the guys can be spread out on the tailgate. They are sorting pigs for the second evening in a row. Krysta thought that was way too many evenings for Daddy to be gone so she jumped at the chance to go with me.

Krysta hopped out and headed for the barn. The curtains were down so she could peer in almost nose to nose with

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hog Barns, Rocks and Walleye

Saturday, April 11, 2009 . . . I had a flash back this morning. Ellis and Evan both started new, part-time jobs this week. They each check a hog barn twice a day. Ellis debated . . . he could do two barns and Evan do a third barn. There are four barns and this company hoped we would do all four. Jeremy was going to do two, Evan one and Ellis one. In the meantime Jeremy found another job and has been doing the training for that job the last three weeks or so (with our nephew.) At this point Ellis stayed on the safe side of insanity and only contracted to do one barn. It is on the way to his real job and there is a shower (thank the Lord.)

Anyway this morning he asked if I wanted to ride along to the barn. . . . and sweep the flies out of the office and write down a list of things needed to streamline the whole process for laundry. The barn where he used to work all those eons ago had a washer and dryer right there to wash the coveralls, towels, etc.

I got done sweeping flies and Ellis was still inside whooping and hollering at the pigs. (There were three that were being picked on so he had to separate them out of the pens and find a new place for them. He rescued them from certain death.)

Think about the hog farmers the next time you eat pork chops or Spam. =}

Anyway I went out to the suburban and settled down to read a book about how to lower stress in my life. I looked out the window and saw a field lane and thought, "If I take a walk that would lower stress." There was even a jacket in the back seat -- so I set off.

There was a beautiful tree and a rock pile under it. A blue sky -- not quite like MT -- but almost. I found three or four unique rocks in the gravel on the lane, but I exercised great restraint and did not bring them home. Only held them and memorized how they looked. One was black with sparkles, one was red and black with sparkles . . . the sun was shining -- can you tell? There was a cream colored rock with a dark band through the center. I can't remember the other one that caught my eye.

Last fall I found a piece of petrified wood on 290th ST -- the road that goes by our house. It is a gravel road -- not pavement. All during my childhood I searched for petrified wood every time we went to Graceton Beach on Lake of the Woods. I never found anything and now I find a small piece on my doorstep in southern MN.

That reminds me of the walleye Dad caught in one of the mud puddles (small lakes) here in southern MN. When we lived up north we fished on Lake of the Woods every summer. We caught some awesome fish . . . at least they were big and put up a fight before we got them in the boat. There were some walleye and lots of northern pike. The biggest walleye was landed by my dad at St. Olaf Lake -- or was it Cedar Lake? We have a picture of Dad, Hans and Jeremy on the dock with the fish held high . . . pleased expressions all around.

I made almost as much fuss when I found the petrified wood. It has a place of honor on my shelf in the kitchen. A small reminder that the unexpected is just around the corner. Maybe just over the next hill . . . .

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

*Remarkable Coincidence*

Here's an idea to bat around . . .
I've stopped using the term "remarkable coincidence" since this happened to me a few years ago.
Maybe it's splitting hairs--I don't know.
What do you think?

Mom was diagnosed with cancer the second time around in the spring of 2004.
Because it was the second time and she was--for the most part--quite healthy, the doctors thought she would be a good candidate for a stem cell transplant. They are able to harvest the patients' own stem cells, freeze them, give mega doses of chemo to the patient, then return the stem cells to them. A new start on life --

During the recovery period Dad and Mom had a room in the transplant house a few blocks from the hospital. When Dad started to drive bus in the fall I was able to stay with Mom and take her to and from the hospital as needed for daily check-ups.

The transplant house is a story all by itself. It is a big, beautiful house run by nuns with all the comforts of home and a few more besides. Like a big exercise room and a huge laundry. . .

One day I was doing our laundry. There were other gals busy with their laundry. The conversation was about the flood -- twelve to thirteen inches of rain had deluged southern MN and northern IA the day before. We were comparing adventures.

Sally mentioned the town in IA where she was from and the condition of the roads between there and Rochester MN.
Jane looked up and said, "Little Springs? Do you know so and so?"
Sally said, "Oh, yes, we drive right by their place every day."

It turned out Jane does crafty things with old cowboy boots or farm boots. She makes door stops out of them with flowers and birds arranged in a delightful way. The people in Little Springs had ordered one of these and she was looking for a way to deliver it to them.

(It was in the trunk of her car as we spoke)

Over their laundry baskets these two strangers made the arrangements, then Jane dashed out to the car to bring the boot/door stop in and show it to all of us and start it on its way home.

As Jane left the room I looked at Sally and said, "What a remarkable coincidence?!"
She looked at me and gently said, "There is no such thing as a remarkable coincidence. My parents taught me our days are planned by God and He brings these things together. I'm finding out it is true as I see things just like this happen to me over and over again."

Needless to say, I went away from that laundry room praising my great, big, wonderful God for His *remarkable coincidences.* I've been keeping my eyes open for them ever since.

Friday, March 13, 2009


call glasses

From: Krysta
To: Mom

This was the note I found on the counter. Krysta's glasses are broken and she's been patiently waiting to get her eyes checked and get new glasses.

Maybe this will be the last time I try an evening appointment for an eye exam. Next time I'll take Jorgan and Krysta out of school and go in the day time.

Ellis and I both went to a place I won't name and liked the service we received. So I arranged for Jorgan and Krysta to get their eyes checked. (March 10th) When we arrived it seemed a young man was being trained in on the computer . . . at least a gal was sitting close by and showing/telling him what to do next. She soon got Jorgan started and Krysta and I looked at glasses.

Everything moved along smoothly . . .

The eye doctor seemed lacking in people skills but maybe it was the end of a long day. Both Krysta and Jorgan were ready to choose frames at the same time which I thought was strange. You would think one could have been mostly done by the time the next one was ready. And then the weirdest thing happened.

Nothing ...

The gal disappeared into the examination room with the eye doctor. The young man sat at the computer and stared at the screen. (I had the extreme urge to walk over and peer over his shoulder and see what kind of game he was playing.)

Usually a sales person is bustling about spreading frames galore in front of you and having you try on so many your head begins to whirl.

These . . . or those.
That one or this one.

I don't know how long I stood there waiting for someone to make a move.
I'm thinking . . . you know, I would like to go home and make supper.

What is going on?

I was tempted to gather my coat and book bag and children and walk out.
I wonder if they would have chased me.

At last the gal came out of the room and sat down behind the counter.
Maybe something will happen now.

They started to whisper.
The girl giggled and put her head down on the counter.

Enough is enough. I walked over and said, "Do we need to come back at another time to choose frames?"

The gal looked up and said, "Oh no. You can choose them now. We need 25% down on anything you order today. Did Jorgan and Krysta find what they want?"

The young man looked up and said, "Or--you can take their prescriptions and get frames somewhere else if they can't find any they like."

I was tempted to say, "I think that's what we'll do. Good day!" And walk away . . .

Through gritted teeth I explained that Krysta's glasses are broken and we came to replace them and we had some questions on some frames. The young lady got up and helped us.

Jorgan chose his own. Krysta found some she liked and we were out of there.

In these economic hard times you would think they would be falling over themselves to make some sales. Very strange I must say.

For variety the next evening some friends come over.
We made pizza.
We had coffee and pie and ice cream.
.. .. .. a game of Apples to Apples.
What a fun evening .. .. ..

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

January 30, 2009

I didn't plan to spend my day like this. Urgent care, CT scan, MRI . . .
Tried the Blooming Prairie clinic and they were closed. If you need medical help call Austin.
I just wanted an antibiotic to clear up an ear infection or sinus infection or whatever is causing this pain in my head. When I called Austin they said just come to urgent care and walk in.
They weren't very busy and could see me right away.

While waiting I found this quote in Better Homes and Gardens . . .
"What some call health, if purchased by perpetual anxiety about diet,
isn't much better than tedious disease."
--George Dennison Prentice 19th century newspaper editor

That tickled my funny bone . . .

The trouble is the only thing they found was elevated blood pressure. 169/101 or some ridiculous numbers like that. Carol asked if I had bumped my head or fallen anytime recently. There was that time I fell on my back but that was before Christmas. And it didn't hurt.

She called someone down to draw blood. (The new and improved way to see if you have an infection.) The guy to draw blood came in. (How many times did I spell my name and say my birth date? Let's see -- only five or six times through the whole day. At least they always knew they had the right person.) He was a funny guy.

Told me with a wicked twinkle in his eyes, "I'm not good at this."
--meaning he's not good at finding the vein on the first poke. I told him he could just go on out of here then and send someone else. He asked what brought me in today and I repeated the whole weird thing about pain on the left side of my head, kind of like an earache but not like any earache I've ever had. I thought it was going away but it started again Thursday in the middle of the night.

"I guess I was extra crotchety and my husband said, "Go find out what's causing this.' "

That tickled his funny bone. "Crotchety! I'll bet he's in trouble. He'll need to order in dinner and flowers and jewelry and get the house cleaned for that, I bet." He kept muttering, "Crotchety!" and chuckling as he poked the vein on the first try.

The blood didn't show what it's supposed to show if there is an infection so Carol started scurrying around and lined up a CT scan. After that she talked about coming Monday for an MRI then the next thing I knew she said they have an opening right now. I got to take a "nap" for 25 minutes. Probably the most expensive nap I've had in a long time. Then I hurried away to drive bus. They were going to look at it and after the bus route I could go back down and hear what they found out.

Carol called before the route was over and said everything looks okay, no bleeding, sinus areas are not filled up with fluid, (hmmm... that surprises me. It feels like they are filled with cement.) She wants to follow up by checking my blood pressure at the clinic in Blooming Prairie next week and she wants me to see Dr. Young, a neurologist.

*For pain take two double strength Tylenol 4 times a day.*

So it really is just in my head . . .

The most beautiful thing through the whole day was knowing *Jesus is with me* PTL!
Whatever is going on -- Jesus is with me every step of the way.
The most recent malapropism at our house:

I was trying to open a bag of chicken, you know, one of those kind with a ziplock, reclosable top.
Jorgan saw me struggling and said, "You need a serenaded knife."
I started laughing and asked if he knows what *serenaded* means.
"Yes, one of those knives with a saw-like edge."
It is pretty close to serrated I'll have to admit.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy New Year

We are in for an awesome year with wonderful conversation and no misunderstandings.
An example: December 31st 2008

We all went to prayer meeting then Jeremy, Evan and Deanne drove to the Bible School to see the New Year in. Delvin and Christy, Dan and MariJo, and all the youth got together to play games and nibble on snacks and otherwise have a glorious time.

Ellis, Jorgan, Krysta and I were rattling around in our huge suburban, shivering and shaking in the arctic air because no one had warmed the beast ahead of departure time. We were going home to snacks and a game of Authors and to welcome the New Year in.

I was huddled inside my coat like a turtle in its shell. Poked my head out and said, "I suppose Jon is flying about now." (Some one told me Jon was coming on Thursday January 1st.)

Ellis gave me a look that said, "You must have fallen and hit your head very hard. Are you okay?" He asked, "What did you say?"

The whole combination of look and voice brought out a truly nasty streak in me but I would be generous. Okay, maybe I mumbled and he really didn't hear me. I'll try again. "Jon is probably flying home now."

Another stare from Ellis -- like -- "you poor darling. What have you done to your head?"
Asked me again, "What did you say?"

The nasty streak rose up inside me. "Well, I suppose Jon decided to paddle across the ocean in a canoe this time."

Ellis, very slowly and distinctly, "Jon was at church tonight."

My turn to stare... "What?! I didn't see him!" Explanations and exclamations all around ...

My world is a pretty small cocoon some days.
At least I wasn't turning around and staring at the people on the back bench. *small comfort*

All my best wishes to you and yours for 2009!


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Porch for Christmas

When we went through our books I found this poem. At the same time as Deanne was sorting through books, Jeremy and Evan were working on our porch. Now the porch has been on the *back burner* for many a month ... make that many a year...

Everyone was elated to see progress even though it was a bit unhandy to go up and down a step ladder to reach the basement. Jeremy hoped to take the stairs out one day and put them back in the next. Nature had other plans ... as in a couple of snow storms back to back. So Jeremy and Evan were plowing snow instead of working on our porch.

Oh well.

The Old Sailor
by A.A. Milne

There was once an old sailor my grandfather knew
Who had so many things which he wanted to do
That, whenever he thought it was time to begin,
He couldn't because of the state he was in.

He was shipwrecked, and lived on a island for weeks,
And he wanted a hat, and he wanted some breeks;
And he wanted some nets, or a line and some hooks
For the turtles and things which you read of in books.

And, thinking of this, he remembered a thing
Which he wanted (for water) and that was a spring;
And he thought that to talk to he'd look for, and keep
(If he found it) a goat, or some chickens and sheep.

Then, because of the weather, he wanted a hut
With a door (to come in by) which opened and shut
(With a jerk, which was useful if snakes were about),
And a very strong lock to keep savages out.

He began on the fish-hooks, and when he'd begun
He decided he couldn't because of the sun.
So he knew what he ought to begin with, and that
Was to find, or to make, a large sun-stopping hat.

He was making the hat with some leaves from a tree,
When he thought, "I'm as hot as a body can be,
And I've nothing to take for my terrible thirst;
So I'll look for a spring, and I'll look for it first."

Then he thought as he started, "Oh, dear and oh, dear!
I'll be lonely tomorrow with nobody here!"
So he made in his note-book a couple of notes:
"I must first find some chickens" and "No, I mean goats."

He had just seen a goat (which he knew by the shape)
When he thought, "But I must have boat for escape.
But a boat means a sail, which means needles and thread;
So I'd better sit down and make needles instead."

He began on a needle, but thought as he worked,
That, if this was an island where savages lurked,
Sitting safe in his hut he'd have nothing to fear,
Whereas now they might suddenly breathe in his ear!

So he thought of his hut ... and he thought of his boat,
And his hat and his breeks, and his chickens and goat,
And the hooks (for his food) and the spring (for his thirst) ...
But he never could think which he ought to do first.

And so in the end he did nothing at all,
But basked on the shingle wrapped up in a shawl.
And I think it was dreadful the way he behaved -
He did nothing but bask until he was saved!

Monday, January 12, 2009

History Lessons

"What are they teaching you in history these days, Billy?"

"The 1980s." ;)

from The Family Circus
Maybe the reason I didn't get any blogs written in December was because I was living back in the 90's with Barbara Bush.

I read Barbara Bush . . . A Memoir and Reflections . . . Life after the White House. My family was very polite and let me read anecdotes to them without plugging their ears and running from the room screaming, "No more! I don't want to hear another word."

Just reading the books Barbara Bush wrote inspires me in my relationships with my family. They (George and Barbara) are both so positive and admire their children and grandchildren. The books are full of family get togethers and all the fun they have.

... From congregating in their bedroom at 6:00 AM to read the papers and drink coffee to all the other fun things in between. Of course you'd need a big bedroom to have your family wandering in and out -- drinking coffee and lounging on the couch and resting their feet on the table.

It seems George W. had been out for an early morning run and came in, sat on the couch and stuck his feet up on the table. Barbara told him to take his feet off the table. George said, "Bar, he is THE president of the United States." He says she replied, "I don't care who he is . . . get your feet off the table!"

These books give an inside view of politics and life in Washington D.C. and stories about the Bush family from Barbara's perspective. If you need some books to read you'll find these are hilarious.

AND -- you can travel the world without taking your feet off your own coffee table.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

December Memories #2

Deanne went on the rampage and started sorting through books.

She did an amazing job and we are totally grateful to her.

This turned into a long drawn out process because cleaning our book shelves is like squeezing a balloon. When we clean one shelf extra books bulge out somewhere else.
The goal was to round up all the Phillip Keller books
all the Harold Bell Wright books...
the James Herriot books,
Laura Ingalls Wilder books,
Gene Stratton Porter,
Corrie ten Boom,
Eugenia Price,
Christmas Carol Kauffman,
Catherine Marshall,
Marjorie Holmes.
All the Bible study books and dictionaries
Bible Story Books
Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories

In the middle of all this chaos I found a quote that fit exactly . . .

If you cannot read all your books, at any rate . . . peer into them,
let them fall open where they will,
read from the first sentence that arrests the eye,
set them back on the shelves with your own hands,
arrange them on your own plan so that you at least know where they are.
Let them be your friends;
let them be your acquaintances.

Winston Churchill, 1874-1965

We've barely started this huge task. I'm thinking of the gardening books, old readers, craft books, song books, etc. etc. Maybe this is a tiny bit of comfort . . .

He has half the deed done who has made a beginning. --Horace

A little library, growing every year,
is an honorable part of a man's history.
It is a man's duty to have books. --Henry Ward Beecher

I cannot live without books. --Thomas Jefferson

These quotes describe the Harshbarger family.

December Memories #1

December went by *like the shuttle of the weaver*

We took a deep breath and it was gone. Here are some highlights beginning with . . .

A Field Trip in Austin MN December 8, 2008

We had a field trip yesterday---sat in the court room for about an hour listening and observing. Very interesting.
Be sure to have your insurance on your car up-to-date or they fine the socks off you. The judge was a very pleasant man and seemed understanding. He was kind and concerned and had a sense of humor. One gal was fined for littering.
"What did you throw out the car window?"
"A cigarette."
"Was it flaming?"
The police was a woman. She wrote on the ticket -- driver failed to use blinker when turning "because there was no one behind me." Driver was snippy and talked back to the officer and threw a cigarette out the window twice --
The judge asked, "Did you throw the cigarette out and then get out of the car and pick it up and throw it out again?"
The gal explained there was only one cigarette and she only threw it out once. "And the police threw the ticket in my lap and said, 'Have a nice day!' and I didn't think that was very respectful to just throw the ticket in my lap."
The judge didn't fine her for littering. "If it was shattered glass or metal objects that could harm another vehicle or if we had a drought it would be different." The whole court room was smiling.

Then on to the fire station. The main thing to prevent fires is a working fire alarm.
We need to get the batteries replaced in ours.
Fires caused by candles in Austin in a year: 1,000,000. That's amazing. Did I read that right? Double checked with Jorgan and that's what he remembered. So why do we burn candles? On second thought I'm wondering about statistics like that. Do they mean 1,000,000 candles were lit? That would be a lot of little fires.

Lunch at Culvers!

On to a tour of Cedar Valley. That is an amazing place... where handicapped and mentally challenged people can work and contribute to the community. Very cheery and everyone was happy and busy. Hormel gives them lots of work. We saw lots of Spam and cans of Chili and pouches of pepperoni. Lots of assembly lines. Some things are packaged in display boxes. Those boxes are shrink wrapped and shipped out again. Some people are paid by the hour--others by how many pieces they get done. Everyone gets a pay check. ;-) They are matched up with the right job for their skills. Cedar Valley is helping more than 200 people in Mower County.

This happened to us the other day. After eight o'clock on a school morning. I'm doing the mom thing, "Hurry up! Don't do this. Do that. Get out to the car!" ...being a crotchety old monster. Jorgan and Krysta are safely in the sub with everything they need. I storm up to the driver's side and open the door... step up on the icy running board and quicker than a sneeze I'm on my back looking up at the sky. Jorgan and Krysta's startled stares and open mouths are priceless. I start laughing like a hyena. They take time to ask, "Are you okay?" before they start laughing. I climb in and look at the clock. It's 8:18 A.M. ARGH! It seems like our brains and bodies are programmed to climb in that vehicle and start out at 8:18 A.M. every blinking morning. There is no way to get there on time when we leave that late. But at least we are laughing! It didn't hurt, fortunately... I was talking to my friend the other week. She said she was always late no matter what she did. She would determine to start early to get ready then she'd fritter away the extra time and still be late. -


Lo, how a rose e're blooming From tender stem hath sprung,
Of Jesse's lineage coming, As men of old have sung.
It came a flow'ret bright, Amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah 'twas foretold it, The rose I have in mind,
With Mary we behold it, The Virgin mother kind.
To show God's love aright She bore to them a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

This flower, whose fragrance tender With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor The darkness everywhere.
True Man, yet very God, From sin and death He saves us
And lightens every load.

From the German
English version by Dr. Theodore Baker

Someone asked me what the rose is about... I looked in various books and asked Ellis. He looked too, and we are both puzzled. We thought we could look in Strong's concordance and find a scripture in Isaiah that specifically calls Jesus a rose. Does anyone know the history of this beautiful song?