Saturday, April 28, 2012

7 Quick Takes

Hypocrisy Girl needs a better uniform
(and a picture of a woman wearing it)
P.S. Anyone else creeped out by the lack of arm hair?

1 Hypocrisy Girl: Self-Serving Humanity Since 2003!

My husband and oldest son were both cranky and tired after a long and stormy night kept them from getting enough sleep. Both were reacting to minor irritations by increasing their volume. Since I'd suffered through the same sort of night, the noise was getting to me. Finally, after my husband delivered a routine instruction at full volume, I snapped, "Can we cut the yelling? John's been at it all day. You coming in and doing the same thing is just...blah...blah...blah..."

I hope I was kind, but I realize I was in full Teacher Mode (i.e., obnoxiously lecturing). Mercifully I was busy enough to be brief. As soon as I turned back around to finish getting dinner, my youngest son grabbed the cup I was in the process of filling with his powders and supplements and turned it over.

"No, Simon, no!" I yelled. He gave me his patented you-clearly-have-no-idea-what-you-are-doing eyebrow lift before dumping the cup again, showing me in his nonverbal way that I hadn't filled it before donning my Hypocrisy Girl super suit of moral infallibility. I blushed furiously, met my husband's eye, and pantomimed a grisly moment from the original Men in Black movie. I reached behind my head, pretended to pull my skin tight, stretched my mouth wide and said in a cockroachy voice, "Is that better?" Without missing a beat, my husband leaned in and whispered, "More sugar" before kissing my cheek.

You've gotta love that man.

2 Nieces: You gotta love them, too!

President Bush Bikes Here
My youngest niece flew in for a visit over her very short Spring Break. I've not seen her since she was in elementary school in California and now she's a Freshman BYU, Utah. To tell you the kind of awesome kid we're dealing with here, not only did she opt to visit a houseful of Martins in lieu of partying in someplace like Cancun, she happily took charge of canning a flat of tomatoes that came our way unexpectedly. Not only that that, this Freshman will be graduated before the end of next year. She sings opera, too. Sings it well, I mean.

We did attempt to entertain her in more traditional ways than peeling tomatoes. We took her to Palo Duro Canyon days before the media discovered it. She can always say, "I was there before the President made it cool." If she mentions her visit to outsiders, that is.

3  Cheeses
I have officially made my first solo batch of goat cheese cheddar (solo, yet well supervised by my friend Rozanne). I had to get up a little early this morning in order to take it from the press and salt it. It's happily drying out on a make-do cheese cradle consisting of Pyrex and plastic cutlery. I got the curds a little too hot a little too soon, so they matted up on me. It won't be a pure cheddar, but since cheddar recipes are the basis for most cured cheeses, I think we'll have something edible. More news on that when it cures.

4 Sold!
We have now committed to the switch from Nubian goats to La Manchas. We bought one La Mancha goat and she outproduced the combined total of milk from all three of our Nubians. With last year's drought still a prominent factor in our decision making, we had to make the difficult choice of selling goats. Last year we barely had enough milk for daily use and I could only make a fresh cheese once every two weeks or so. Now I am getting enough milk from our new goat that I can make plenty of fresh cheeses, like ricotta and mozzarella, and still have enough left over to "store the milk" in aged cheeses. Truly a goat worth her feed!

5 Moths and Drought Effects
We have been inundated by a plague of moths. They aren't a new species, just a whole lot of our usual ones. Explanations have varied from "climate changes affecting migratory routes" to unseasonably warm temperatures speeding up the annual life cycle timetables. I think a simpler explanation may serve. Last year the drought was so severe that only the earlier emerging moths survived long enough to breed. Any later developing varieties were either burned out or scooped up by birds desperate for food before they abandoned the region. Not only was there no greenery last year, there were no bugs and hardly any birds. I know this because I am in charge of cleaning windshields and lawn mowing. After April last year, I didn't clean bugs off the windshields once. Nor did I mow a single blade of grass. Birdsong was absent all last year. This year each blade, each chirp, each flapping moth has been a relief. The biggest effect of the drought has been an increased tolerance for such nuisances as mud, moths, and bug splattered windshields. It's annoying to clean tracked in mud, gross to remove bug parts from wipers, and eyewateringly itchy to mow a weedy lawn, but it's much more disconcerting to live an entire year without ever needing to.

6 Lot's of short stuff
Nothing says Spring quite like a girl and a hammock!
The blogging has been a little sparse lately. We're busily schooling, renovating, living. The usual. I've been reluctant to get up early enough to write, so there you go. June will be a breather, so I'll be blogging more then. Meanwhile here's a few random shots of the kids.
Sylvia smiling at her favorite neighbor!

Anna exploring nature.
That look, that one right there...that's why!
(It explains everything.)

P.S. I am in desperate need of some shots of John! He's got a charmingly gap toothed smile at the moment. We've chewed through several cameras in the last year and our latest computer is the usual Martin Clunker, so current pictures are scarce. These were all glommed off of friends.

7 A Disturbing Report
The neighbor boy came by with the alarming news that we have two dead chickens. It turned out to be one dead rooster, one wounded rooster, and one missing hen. It looks like our skunk is back and our chickens' days of "free range" are over. Back to the tractor, the lot of you! 

Le sigh...

Jennifer Fulwiler
Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler, a fellow Texan, for hosting
7 Quick Takes Friday 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lighten Up!

A group of coworkers whose conversation reveals they are only interested in partying after work and their parade of boyfriends say this frequently to a self-sufficient young woman whose hobbies include gardening, ice skating, choral singing, ballroom dance, reading, sewing, and photography (she's a real artist there). I wonder what they mean exactly by telling her to "Lighten up!"

Some possibilities:

1 Be less make us look bad.
2 Be like us...your choices make us feel bad.
3 Be less cool...we're trying so hard over here.

Truly, these advice givers are only trying to help. They really do think she's living a boring life. That's called irony.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Because it is Monday

Monday and the Laundry Monster attacked and killed my washing machine. It's just Monday. Nothing personal.

funny graphs - Did You Know?
see more Funny Graphs
...I guess T-Rex got a little hungry, too. A continent is missing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Like a Birthday is a day to celebrate a loved one, the Church has anniversaries to celebrate its loved ones, too. This Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, is a little like that.

This Sunday the Church is celebrating not a person, but a quality. The first Sunday after Easter is set aside to contemplate and pray for God's Divine Mercy. Why set aside a day each year for such a thing? Without a doubt the world needs Mercy, so we pray for it especially fervently this Sunday, all the while celebrating the actions of His Mercy in our lives. Anyone who has ever experienced God's Mercy knows, indeed, it is worthy of celebration. In fact, it is so important to the life of a Christian that even if we spent all 365 days of the year focusing upon God's infinite Mercy, we would never, even then, begin to understand it's importance and beauty.

The Church gives us a day and I'm giving myself the morning to contemplate it. It is nowhere near enough. Perhaps when we have an eternity, we'll come to begin to understand His infinite Mercy, but, like much of what we do, this will have to do for now.

He meets us where we are

To understand God's Mercy is to understand how much He is willing to love us. He will do anything for our good, including crawling into the sewers we make of our lives in order to give us a hand out.

Let me give you a bit of a metaphor. Last night I purchased two goats, an adult and a young kid. The adult goat has learned through her experience that people treat her well, so even though she doesn't know me yet, she knows to trust people. She was scared of the long drive home and her relief at seeing me open the back of the camper shell expressed itself in relief of the bodily kind. She made a mess back there, to put it kindly, and then she very mildly jumped out when I invited her to.

The kid goat was scared, too. Her fear of the experience of the drive expressed itself by cowering further into the truck when the back opened. She looked at me pleadingly to save her, all the while backing away from my soothing voice and reassurances as well as her only exit. To rescue her, to shepherd her, I had to crawl in through the mess the other goat had just made and get her. She wasn't budging otherwise. Once I got to her corner, she was more than happy to come to me. She nuzzled me, she snuggled me, and in various goaty ways expressed her gratitude as I maneuvered both of us around the ick and got us out.

If I get dirty, I can always take a shower and wash my clothes. God, on the other hand, is perfect. He has no need of showers. The Bible tells us that Sin and God cannot coexist. The metaphor of God as light and sin as darkness expresses it fairly well. Unlike the Eastern thought of light and dark being equal, science and Christian thought understands that light is a force and an enigmatic energy with unique qualities. Darkness is simply an absence of light. Light does not need darkness to exist, but the darkness must have light. Darkness is only created when something blocks the light. To underscore this metaphor, God is all Good. Sin is the shadow cast when God's will is blocked by the will of one of His creations. All suffering is the result of sin. Sin and the effects of sin are far reaching, but God's reach is infinite. Like Sin is destroyed in the presence of God, shadows are destroyed when light is introduced. When in a darkened room, a candle's light will fill it and caress the furthest walls. A star's light reaches into infinity, even though the human eye can be so distant that it can no longer perceive it. In such a case we will only perceive the darkness, though the light is still there. We are weak instruments in this way. We know this as a metaphor for God. We can remove ourselves so completely that His light is so far off we no longer see it and we think all is dark. We are weak instruments in this way, too.

Anyone who has been in the throes of their own Sin and has had the Grace of God come into their dirty little corner with an invitation knows how God fills even that with His presence, how all the fear and filth shrinks away in that moment, and how far we are elevated out of ourselves and into salvation when we say, "Yes, Father!"

God brings Himself to the most humble of circumstances in order to reach us. He comes to us in our depravity, our sin and suffering, to offer Himself as our savior. We are all, at one time or another, sinners. Be we the Prodigal Son, the woman caught in adultery, or merely the son who sinned just a little when he complained to his father about slaughtering the fatted calf on his brother's homecoming, God offers us a way back to Him, despite ourselves.

The little kid
Of my two new goats, I am less like the calm and trusting big goat and more like the new little kid goat. I tend to action more than contemplation. I think on my feet and I think with my mouth. Sometimes that backs me into corners I need saving from. I can trust that if that happens, He will come for me if I ask Him. 
In all truth, once He even came when I didn't ask. His Mercy made me first realize I was unhappy with what I had done to myself, His Mercy awakened my desire to change the circumstances, then His Mercy came as a Person Who gave me the understanding that I was all that needed changing. The circumstances were my creation, the corner was of my choosing, the filth I was wallowing in was my own. He offered Himself to me, He showed Himself in the Eucharist, and then He asked me to chose Him.
I have been choosing Him ever since.
And so, dear little kid, if you are reading this, know that I have offered up this morning's sleep for your sake. I have pondered my own dark times again in order to ask that a brighter light shine in yours. I am praying that even if your back is turned to the Source of Light, that your eye be drawn to the reflections glimmering around you.

There is a Way.

There is Truth.

And there is Light.

Your life's greatest Love is calling.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

Judas betrayed Him. Peter denied Him. Thomas doubted Him. James and John fought over Him. All abandoned Him. I have at one time or another followed their terrible examples. I will try the rest of my days to follow their better ones and her simple one...

She simply loved Him.