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Archive for October, 2008

Sorry about the lull here. We’ve been having a wonderful Indian summer (which simply demanded that I spend some time outdoors), and I’ve been busy building up the Ladies for Life blog, and we’ve been sick around here (winter bugs don’t always wait for winter, worse the luck, and on top of that, my husband’s nerve pain and lung problems have both been acting up pretty good), and I’ve been working my way back from a back injury (which has made it hard to sit at a computer), and we’re laying the groundwork to publish some books (btw: who knew bait and switch tactics were so common in the printing industry?), and the bookstore has needed some attention, and friends and family have had emergencies, and my computer got hacked and the fix left me without some usual features for a while, and internet connection has been hit and miss, and on the plus side my husband handed me an ESV Study Bible on Monday as an early one-year-since-baptism gift, and… And, anyway, it’s been busy around here, and this blog slipped down the sorted-by-priorities list.

I’ve also been in declutter mode again, which you wouldn’t know from looking at the house. I seem to specialize in looking-worse-before-it-gets-better decluttering. On the other hand, I have the satisfaction of knowing how many fewer armloads of stuff we have to work around or move again. One of the things that left the house this round was the television set, and to be fair my husband decided it was time to get rid of that. We cancelled cable months ago after we asked each other if it made any sense at all to be paying to have toxic material pumped into our home. This left us with two over-the-air channels, and a nice screen for DVD viewing. But we haven’t been watching the over-the-air channels, or DVDs, and since we get our news online and via radio, and can watch our DVDs on our computers, and somebody wanted to buy a TV cheap to watch DVDs (so didn’t care in the least that it’s old technology), we sold the TV. Such a deal. Less stuff, more money. I can go for that. It was a heavy TV, not huge but too big to easily dust under, so we are now also rid of a layer of three year old dust that was much worse than I imagined. All in all, it’s an improvement, I think.

I have also been trying to get my wardrobe in line. I finally stopped procrastinating and got some mending done and finished making a skirt and some new slips, but mostly I’m concentrating on deciding what to send to the thrift store. A couple of weeks ago I ran across an old friend who told me with some concern that his wife had 154 dresses. He asked me why a woman would do that. I couldn’t help him there, because I share his concern that a woman with too many clothes has her eyes on the wrong things. But then I went home and looked at my stash of wearables, and was surprised that my not-so-big wardrobe has rather more deadwood in it than I realized. I also have this theory (half-baked, admittedly) that if I get rid of the clothes that are too big for me, it will help me keep off the 15 pounds I have slowly but doggedly shed this year. (Call it culling myself into a proper corner, if you like.)

But of course, it’s also fun to take too-large clothes and cut and stitch them into something new… And I’ve been doing some of that, which has slowed down the ‘send clothes to the thrift store’ project. I no longer have a sewing machine, which means I’m doing everything by hand. It’s a nice hobby, but it can eat up the time like nobody’s business. (Kind of like blogging.) My last homemade skirt was made entirely by hand, but doesn’t look it. I get a kick out of that. (I know. I know. I am too easily amused…)

Seriously, though, ladies, besides simplifying your own life by reducing the clothes you have on hand to a reasonable amount, a lot of families are finding themselves pinched right now, and so a lot of people who haven’t been working outside the home will be going job hunting. If you happen to have job-suitable clothes you aren’t using, now might be a good time to get them to someone who perhaps needs them more than you do. Yes?

The mule deer continue to own the back yard, which sometimes gets interesting. We live in town, but our back yard has fruit trees and we let the grass and other ground vegetation (aka weeds) go semi-wild back there, and it has become a wildlife refuge of sorts. This has its pros and cons. I keep telling myself that a well-manured patch of ground is somehow a good thing, especially in an area being reclaimed from gold mining (this part of town is built over dredge piles, which is a fancy name for piles of gravel left behind huge machines that chewed their way through the valley during the gold rush days), but somehow the fact that it’s right out our back door makes it not seem so. I do like watching the deer (and they get along pretty well with the cats, which can be pretty funny, all the more so because our mule deer seem perplexed by our cats, and want to put their noses up close and have good sniffs, which offends the cats). But I also have a healthy respect for the ability of mule deer to maim or even kill people, so… did I mention that they own the back yard?

Two fast links, for the philosophically minded: Babies and Bottle Caps and Just Look.

Speaking of babies, have you heard that some folks think that putting a fan in a baby’s room, or otherwise improving air circulation, might cut the risk of SIDS?

Fact checking: I’m trying to verify the facts in a story I heard the other day about wells and the water table in Utah, and although I haven’t found what I’m looking for yet, I am finding out some things about the Great Salt Lake that I didn’t know. The same website (Utah Geological Survey) also has a section on dinosaurs and other fossils.

Trivia: I finally know the proper name to call a Japanese wooden doll that I have: Kokeshi. In one of my Japanese dictionaries, the next word is koketsu, which means, variously (according to the dictionary): 1. a tiger’s den, 2. nothing ventured, nothing gained, 3. He who would search for pearls, must dive below. I can see where the second two meanings go together, but tiger’s den seems in a different category, somehow. Anyway, if you’re looking for a catchy new motto to spur yourself on, koketsu seems to have some possibilities…

While we are on the subject of trivia, and the Japanese language, can anyone tell me why the secondary name for the United States of America (behind Amerika), is Beikoku? In lower case, beikoku means rice or rice market or even rice ration-book, or so the dictionary says. There are lots of different Japanese names for rice, but I’m wondering why this one became synonymous with my country.

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Every election, I expect some people to advocate sitting out the election out of disgust. I find that argument generally less than persuasive, all the more so because I hardly think that it would be a good thing to have a government chosen entirely by people without the moral sense to be disgusted at truly off-the-path government policy.

For that matter, why throw your vote away? To be clear, I am not suggesting making wild guesses just to participate, in which case you are throwing your vote around rather recklessly and irresponsibly, which can be worse than abstaining. (You do not have to vote for every office and candidate. Really. Your votes on the candidates and issues you know and care about will be counted even if other races are left blank. Really. Back when I was a newspaper reporter, we ran articles on this year after year, and yet there would still be countless people at the polls sweating what to do on some matter they hadn’t thought they’d have to have an opinion on. So let me say it again: in the United States of America, you are not required to have an opinion on everything, much less inside a voting booth while casting a secret ballot. You can pick and choose. It’s kind of, sorta one of those unstated inalienable rights. Besides, sane people don’t expect you to be wise without information.)

This year, alas, another, worse bit of advice is making the rounds. People are not being told to stay home, they are told to go out and vote for the presidential candidate they want to punish with a horrid four years. (And don’t you find it fishy that it seems to be largely conservatives who are being fed this particular bait? And this in the face of intense debate and wild guessing on how soon current national woes will likely last?)

Uhm, folks, if there’s a politician running for high office who would let something like four years of disaster on his watch dent his enthusiasm for the job, I’d like to meet him. It’s far more likely that he’d lay the disaster at his predecessor’s feet, and his followers would pick up the chant of four more years because, you know, like obviously, their guy hasn’t had a fighting chance, due to circumstances beyond his control. In the meantime, the politician will use and possibly abuse the power he has. Bet on it. (This is one reason why character matters.)

Be that as it may, I’d like to suggest that hoping the worse candidate wins so that your side can make a point is unethical. Also childish. Also impractical. Also, in a way, setting yourself up for a bad few years personally.

It is unethical because it is something like tossing your neighbors under a bus, just to prove that busses can smash people.

It is childish, because it seeks to make a point instead of doing what’s right. (Besides, grown-ups already know that when busses – and governments – run over people, serious damage has been known to result.)

It’s impractical, because it probably won’t work. (MIchael Medved lists some of the reasons why it probably won’t work, especially this year, and why it’s otherwise a bad idea. I don’t agree with him across the board on this, but I think we’re basically on the same page.)

And, purely from a personal perspective, if you are hoping for a foe to self-destruct, and that foe happens to be a government leader, that means (doesn’t it?) that for as long as that person is in office you will have reasons to rejoice when things go bad for your country or state or town or whatever, and reasons to cringe when things go well.

Should grown-up, sane people put themselves into that sort of position if they can help it? I’m just asking.

Besides, this wouldn’t be the first time ‘values voters’ surprised the partisans of the Left-leaning press. Please don’t be conned into trying to ‘punish’ someone by giving him power, or ‘saving’ your party by working for its defeat.

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I’m splitting things up, so that Suitable For Mixed Company can be more of a hearth and home, faith journey, quiet thoughts and fun times blog. Judson’s Corral will be more centered on issues and current events.

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I am a bookseller by trade, and a Christian by profession, so how can I resist a post full of Christian bookselling humor?

hat tip: Half Pint House (where they are fans of the book)

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…up and growing at Semicolon.

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Headmistress over at The Common Room recommends a book from 1917. In addition to providing a link to buy from Amazon, she provides a link to an online edition, and excerpts. The book is Understood Betsy, by Dorothy Canfield. (I just took a glance at it. I haven’t read enough to know what the title means. Sorry.)

Headmistress uses excerpts from the book to remind people that closing off part of your home for the winter used to be common.

I don’t know about you, but I close off rooms when it gets cold. It saves a lot of money. Since we took many of the indoor doors out to provide more workable space in the generally smallish rooms in this old and not very big house, I put curtains in the doorways, and we adjust the heat in each room by adjusting how much opening we leave. It amazes me how much difference just a sheet of cotton can make.

For the curtains, you can put up curtain rods, or you can do it the old way by pounding nails in the wall, and attaching the curtains to them with clothes pins or safety pins.

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A few weeks ago we heard that a young man we know was in a horrible road accident and although he was still alive, in a hospital a few hours from here, there was no hope of him surviving. A while after that, we heard that he’d survived but was in a coma and the doctors were saying he’d never wake up. They were, we heard, urging the family to “pull the plug” as they charmingly put it, but the family is a God-fearing one, and they weren’t having any of that.

Then we heard that J. was fluttering his eyes and showing other signs of nearly coming to, and the doctors were saying that it was too late to pull the plug now, but that there was still no hope.

Then we heard that J. had come awake, but didn’t recognize anyone and didn’t understand a bit of what was going on around him, and was totally paralyzed to boot. The doctors were saying, or so we were told, that there was no hope of him becoming coherent, and that he’d be paraplegic for life.

So, when I ran into J.’s father at the post office a couple of days ago, I braced myself before I walked up to see how things were going and to offer my condolences and see if there was anything my husband or I could do besides pray, which of course we’d been doing, along with untold numbers of others.

The father grinned. He told me that J. had come fully awake, recognizes everyone, and has progressed to using a walker. His short term memory isn’t so hot, but he’s aware and functioning and seems to be improving all the time.

The father stopped in his narrative and shook his head. “A month ago… a month ago…” He paused and took another run at it. “A month ago they were saying there was no hope…”

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