Saturday, July 26, 2008

"Is God Driving His Car?"

Last week, the Boy and I drove to Indiana. We stayed overnight with my in-laws, and then went on to a family gathering with my dad and step-mom and half- and step-siblings. The drive takes about 4 hours, with no stops. The Boy slept a good portion of the way, so I was able to drive in peace. Even when he was awake, he was pretty good. He amuses himself easily.

As we made the last turn before turning into Nana and Gramps' driveway, the Boy spoke up, in a concerned voice, from the backseat. "Momma, is God driving His car?" (We have been dealing with a lot of night-time fear lately. One of the tools I've given him is talking to God, asking Him to be in his room and keep him safe.) "What?" "Is God driving His car? Is He going to be at Nana and Gramps?" Smiling, I said, "Do you think He's driving His car?" Pause... "No, I think He's sitting in the front seat. But He really needs to put on His seat belt!"

I just laughed and turned into Nana and Gramps' driveway.

Low-Rider

My in-laws have the most interesting cat. Her name is Sophie. She adopted them a few years ago now after they found her half-dead in the woods outside their home. A few days (or maybe a week or two) after they brought Sophie into their home, she was resting on my mother-in-laws lap one night. She started squirming, and soon my mother-in-law had a lap full of still-born kittens. Apparently Sophie had gotten pregnant during her first heat, as she was still a kitten herself when my in-laws found her. The result of all of this is that Sophie's growth was severely stunted. She weighs all of maybe 6 or 7 pounds, and she is the lowest-riding cat I've ever seen. She also has a funny little face, all flat and scrunched.
But what she lacks in size, she makes up for in personality. This cat thinks she's as much creature as the 80 pound boxer who also happens to live in Sophie's house. Sophie is quite the queen bee.

And for whatever reason, Sophie adores me. I no sooner walk into the in-laws house, than that cat is hovering, waiting for me to sit somewhere so that she can be properly greeted. When I do sit (which usually takes a while seeing as its a 4-hour drive to get there, minimum), she immediately commandeers my lap and insists that I pet her. Of course, I give in to her demands, and within minutes she is stretched out on my lap, claws digging into my leg, drooling. Yes, you read that right. This tough kitty, who can keep up with dogs ten times her size, drools when I pet her. Its the most hilarious thing!! My mother-in-law swears I have some kind of magic touch... I think Sophie is just a strange cat! :-)

Friday, July 25, 2008

I don't get it...

Sometimes I just don't get it. People ask for advice. Ok, that I can understand, being one to often ask for input from others before making a decision myself. But people who ask for advice and then get upset when the advice given isn't what they wanted to hear just irritate the living daylights out of me. I mean, seriously. Just because advice is given doesn't mean you have to take it, does it? It also doesn't mean that the person giving the advice will hate you forever and scribble out your face in the yearbook if you disregard what they have to say. At least that tends to be the case when you're dealing with adults, rather than 30+-year-old high-school-wannabes. But don't chew a person out for giving advice when YOU ASKED FOR IT! The situation stinks. Sure. That doesn't give anyone license to treat others like crap, though. We all have our tough situations in life. Suck it up and deal with it like the rest of the world. And if you aren't prepared to hear ALL of the answers, don't ask for advice.

Cucumber? Watermelon? Pumpkin?

We had extra room in our garden, so I planted 3 hills of vining plants, one each of Cucumber, Watermelon, and Pumpkin. Thinking I would surely remember which was which, I didn't mark them. What was I thinking???

I have vines trying to overtake my garden, and I don't even know for sure which one is which! I'm relatively certain that the largest leafed plant is the pumpkin. And I have cut the vines back, seeing as they were growing into the tomatoes and sugar snap peas and just trying to take over everything. We should be good on pumpkins. The cucumber and watermelon, however, I'm not so sure about. I thought I knew which was which, but when I went to the in-laws this weekend and saw their cucumber patch, all of a sudden, I'm not so sure. I guess I'll figure it out when they start growing fruit.

Note to self--ALWAYS label the plants!!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Awwww, What Happened, Pizza?!!

Our three-year-old is developing quite the imagination! But sometimes, its a little slow in the making. Our babysitter, C, loves to joke around and have fun. She picks on the Boy incessantly, which he normally just eats up. One game, however, took a while to figure out.

Being three is tough. The Boy will testify to that. He often whines or gets upset when things don't go quite the way he wanted. C's response is often, "Sorry, Charlie!" "Don't call me Charlie! I'm not Charlie!" the Boy replies forcefully. They've been doing this over and over for weeks now. Occasionally, C will call him Fred, or Bob, or any number of other names. Her kids have joined in the fun, as well. And the Boy keeps telling them, "I'm not Fred!! Don't call me Fred!!" Finally, one night last week, he got it! C was calling him Charlie. One of her kids was calling him Fred. I was calling him Bob. And it clicked that we were playing a game!

A few days later, the Boy and I were playing at home. He decided to taste my arm to see what flavor I was that day--apparently I tasted like pizza. As we joked around, he bonked me with his head or stepped on me or did something else painful, and I said, "Ouch! That hurt!!" With a gleam in his eye, in a very sympathetic voice, the Boy said, "Awwwww, what happened, Pizza?!!" What a little stinker!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Corn Season Stinks!

Most of the time, I love being in the midwest. I love watching the seasons change--each season, I declare this one to be my favorite, because each one has its own unique beauty, only to be outdone by the next season! Except for winter. Winter is not, nor will it ever be, my favorite season. I understand the purpose of winter--to torture those people silly enough to stick around for it. But I don't really like it. At all. Anyway, I digress. Most of the time, I love living here. Corn season is not one of those times.

As I was driving to the in-laws this past weekend (about 4 hours through endless cornfields), my head was truly throbbing. I had taken as much medication for it as I was comfortable doing while driving, and it was barely touching the headache. I was thinking back over the past day or so, trying to figure out why in the world I was so miserable. Had I eaten something that would have caused a reaction? Surely that one bite of brownie with walnuts wasn't still causing a headache! Had I slept badly and my neck was out of whack? Then the fog over my contacts cleared just enough for me to see the corn. More specifically, I saw the tassels sticking out of the top of all the corn. And a very dim light bulb clicked on somewhere deep in the recesses of my brain. Corn tassels... pollen... severely allergic... aaaaaaaaaah!

Sometimes it really stinks to live in the midwest!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Homicidal Red-Winged Blackbird II

After the previous week's fun-filled lunch date, I went back last week to watch our fury-filled feathered fighter. And, while it was blazing hot out there, it was an hour well-spent.

It would appear that more and more people are aware of this fellow, as there wasn't a lot of foot traffic heading across the road at this corner. But that didn't stop this little guy! (One co-worker has named him Fun-Dip, because he dips at people and is a lot of fun to watch.) This poor, unsuspecting chap was walking along on the opposite side of the street from the Tree. For whatever reason (maybe it was the ball cap? maybe he was bored? who knows what was going through his little bird-brain), Fun-Dip crossed 4 lanes of traffic to attack this guy! He hit the guy probably a half-dozen times in the back of the head before the guy stopped at the corner. Fun-Dip sat on top of the pedestrian walk light and chattered down at the guy. Then, suddenly, Fun-Dip took off diagonally across the intersection, crossing to the opposite corner, to attack another poor, unsuspecting chap wearing a ball cap. That guy turned, whipped off his hat, and swung at Fun-Dip, who looked like he was laughing as he flew back to the first guy. At that point, the first guy was crossing the intersection towards the Tree--BIG mistake!! Fun-Dip was all over that guy. (Those of us viewing from a safe distance were laughing so hard we could hardly stay upright, of course.) He chased the guy around the corner, away from the Tree, and we lost sight of them around the parking deck. I'm not entirely certain, but I suspect that the poor guy might still be cowering in a corner somewhere, rocking himself in a fetal position, with an eye to the sky watching for homicidal red-winged blackbirds!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Fuel Supply

Yesterday at church, Coach Mark mentioned the important role that fuel supplies play in life. One of his points was that he could beat any professional athlete at any sport as long as he cut off their fuel supply (some for a month or more, granted)! Being the recent motorcycle fanatic that I've become, my brain instantly jumped to the fuel supply valve...

If the fuel supply valve is shut off, the bike won't go. Its a very useful switch, especially if you will be parking the bike for an extended time (blasphemy, just blasphemy!!) or during the winter months. But if you want the bike to go, you have to turn on the fuel supply valve. Its sort of like the zipper on my Bible cover. The zipper is useful to keep the pages nice, to keep everything from flapping around as I carry it, etc. It really comes in handy. But in order to turn on the spiritual fuel, I have to open the zipper. I have to dig into the Word. That's where spiritual acceleration begins.

But motorcycles have a super-nifty feature, called the reserve tank. Since a motorcycle tank usually only holds a few gallons of gasoline, most lower-end bikes don't have a gas gauge. Instead, the fuel supply valve is used to switch over to a reserve of gas when the rest of the tank is empty. There's enough in the reserve to get you to a nearby filling station and you can be on your way. In the same way, we have a spiritual reserve tank. When we're feeling empty, alone, lost, sad, angry, frustrated, etc. all we have to do is flip our supply valve to reserve--we pray. We always have that lifeline, and I guarantee there's always enough fuel there to get you to the nearest filling station, be that your Bible, your spiritual advisors, or whatever it is that you need to fill that tank again. We can always have an endless supply of fuel if we use the right tools.

Ambience Thoughts

As I was walking down a hallway at work the other day, I passed an open door and glanced inside. The door opened to one of the communication/recording control areas, and because the room was dark, the steps up to the platform were outlined with rope lights. It was amazing how, in that brief moment, I was transported from that hallway to a hushed, expectant theater. I could feel the excitement in the air as the audience waited for the show to begin. And just as quickly as it came, the feeling passed, and I was back in the hallway, heading on my way.

I walked on, pondering how powerful certain sights, sounds, and smells can be.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Weeding--Gardening and Life

As I was weeding the garden this weekend, it occurred to me, yet again, the parallels between gardening and living a Christian life. As a gardener, we work the ground and plant seeds with the hope that they will sprout and grow delicious produce. We diligently tend the garden, weeding as often as necessary to allow the plants to grow. Without that attention, the weeds will overtake our plants, stealing the nutrients, preventing fruits and vegetables from growing. But when we take the time to pull the weeds, the plants flourish and grow, and even the smallest plants begin to grow and produce.

In our lives, weeds grow. Bad habits, addictions, unhealthy relationships, negative self-images, low self-worths... the list just goes on and on. And when we allow those weeds to take root, they begin to choke out the good works God has planted in our lives. Just as we spend time and energy working in the garden to help our plants grow, we must spend time and energy weeding our lives of those things that don't bless God.

Sure, this sounds like a good plan, but it is definitely not easy. Weeding a garden is not hard to do because you can see the immediate results. I get a sense of true satisfaction when I stand up and look behind me to see my progress as I've been weeding. People standing outside the garden can recognize the transformation taking place. The difference is very visible. Weeding our lives isn't quite as visible. That makes it more difficult to even realize that weeding needs to happen, and the results aren't as immediate or recognizable to other people. But there most definitely are results--the good fruit of God. And that's worth the dirty fingers, aching back, tired feet, and even bug bites acquired during the weeding process.

Be blessed today!

Monday, July 14, 2008

First Harvest

I spent a couple hours in the garden yesterday unburying the last 2 rows of beans from the jungle of weeds trying to choke them out. When I finished, I began the first harvest of the summer. I ended up with a handful of sugar snap peas, three jalapenos, one sweet banana pepper, and about 6 cups of green beans. We're having fresh beans tonight, baby!! :-)

In the meantime, the tomatoes are still out there, taunting me with their greenness... One branch of cherry tomatoes has about 5 or 6 that we should be able to pick today. I just know that the rest of those tomatoes are all going to ripen the same day. Wouldn't that be just my luck. I need to hurry up and figure out how to can!

The corn blew down over the weekend from some nasty storms we had come through. I'm hoping it rights itself today. It looks like it was starting to straighten up a little by last night. Its all beginning to show tassels, which means fresh sweet corn hopefully isn't too far away!! I'm not convinced that the corn gets enough sun to give us mature ears of corn. I'll be pretty sad if that's the case, but we have a plan for next year.

Who knew gardening could be such an adventure?!!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Veggables...

Our garden has somewhat recovered from being so horribly overgrown, and it is now producing "veggables", as the Boy says! We have about 150 green tomatoes out there right now, just waiting to ripen. (What in the world are we going to do with 150 tomatoes, I ask?!!) The sugar snap peas are filling out. The green beans are starting to get long enough to cook. The peppers are growing. The melons and pumpkins have flowers, the corn is as tall as me... By jorge, we have ourselves a garden!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Homicidal Red-Winged Blackbird

I watched the most hysterical thing I've seen in a long, long time this week. I met a friend for lunch, and we sat outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. From our vantage point outside our building, we were able to watch a homicidal red-winged blackbird "defend" its territory from intruders--unsuspecting passers-by!!

Apparently red-winged blackbirds are migratory animals, and they fiercely defend their nests. This particular bird made national news last year when he roughed up employees for several weeks all along one stretch of road between a large parking lot and the building. The tree from which he made these attacks was promptly cut down when the fledgling birds left the nest and the attacks abated. This year, the family has chosen a Tree just up the road from their previous roost, and they're up to the same old antics. The Tree is just outside a parking deck, near a rather large, busy intersection where many employees must cross in order to get between their vehicles and work.

As my friend and I watched, this not-so-small bird attacked a half-dozen people or so! He bombed one group of people (two men and a woman), hitting one of the men in the back of the head, before swooping down and attacking the woman. The man took it rather in stride, but the woman ran, screaming, for the side of the road, not realizing she was only running closer to the bird's territory. We laughed out loud.

Shortly, another man walked by, heading across the street towards the fated Tree. The bird, who had perched on top of the stoplight at this point, swooped down and hit the man in the back of the head, then swooped again and hit him squarely between his shoulder blades. The man took off at a lope across the street, and the bird chased him the whole way and halfway down the block, around the corner from the Tree. We laughed harder!

A woman emerged from the parking deck to cross the road. Apparently she tired of waiting for the light to change, so she decided to meander down the street along the side of the parking deck. As she neared the Tree, the bird went into fight-and-flight-mode. We're not really sure what this woman had been imbibing, but she took her time, looking at the flowers next to the Tree, hardly even noticing the poor bird doing his best to get her AWAY! She finally wandered off, down the street, leaving the bird in peace. We really didn't understand if this woman was crazy or just didn't care that she was really upsetting this bird... very strange.

Before we could wonder too much, another man appeared at the corner next to the Tree. He, too, tired of waiting for the light to change and took off down the sidewalk, past the Tree. As he passed underneath it, the bird came flying, hitting the man in the back of the head and flying away. The man stopped and turned, hands on his hips, to confront his attacker. Only the bird was nowhere to be found. The man resumed his course only to be attacked again. Again, he stopped and turned, hands back on his hips, ready for a confrontation. He saw the bird hopping around on the ground at this point, but he didn't appear to put it together. This scenario played out 4 or 5 times before the man finally reached a small, wooden barricade across the sidewalk (from the wrong side, of course) that boasted a sign warning pedestrians about the attacking bird. He read this sign, hands back on his hips, looked up at the tree in disgust, and promptly turned back around and stomped away. We almost fell off of our seats laughing at that one!

It was quite obvious whether the people crossing at this intersection were aware of the bird. Those who were familiar with the risks associated with this particular corner approached with great caution, constantly keeping an eye to the sky, making sure to know at all times where the bird was located. Many actually went out of their way to avoid being anywhere near the bird's "territory," which spanned the width of the 4-lane road one way and across the 2 lane road the other. Those poor, unsuspecting pedestrians who hadn't heard or hadn't heeded the warnings about this raging red-wing were caught completely unawares by the attacks.

I have never in my life seen anything like this, but it was a highly entertaining way to spend my lunch hour!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Boom, Flash... Ooooooh..... Aaaaaaah.....

I hope everyone had a really great 4th of July! While the week leading up to the 4th was a little stressful, things seem to be leveling out and we had a fun weekend.

The Hubby was off work Friday for the holiday, so I went out for a ride in the morning. I hadn't ridden in two weeks. It was a little chilly for me (60 degrees), but the skies were clear and there was little traffic on the road. It was a beautiful morning for a ride! When I got home, the Hubby went to the store (what was he thinking braving Wal-Mart on the 4th of July? Seriously?) to pick up a few things. When he got home, he and the Boy worked outside while I sewed.

After naptime, we packed up and headed downtown to watch the "largest fireworks display in the history of downstate Illinois!" It actually was a decent show. Its not Thunder Over Louisville, but it was pretty good. The Boy spent the whole show sitting on the Hubby's lap, awestruck. He did get a little scared of the noise, but luckily the Hubby was thinking ahead and brought ear protection for him. We popped that on his head, and he was one happy little boy!

We found a decent parking spot in a lot under a bridge, but apparently that lot was supposed to be reserved for motorcycles only. When we returned to the car after the show, we discovered that we had been parked in by motorcycles. And as we lined up to leave the lot, the bikers were showing off and revving their engines as high as they could. We were actually waiting for one of them to blow... The echo under the bridge was deafening. I wasn't impressed.

If I may go off on a tangent here, I'm all about riding these days, but I was appalled at the audacity of most of the bikers from the lot under the bridge. All of us in 4-wheeled vehicles were lined up and (mostly) patiently awaiting openings in the traffic so we could get out. The bikers all drove right past our line and pulled into traffic without hardly looking back. I'm sorry, but just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD. That was just plain rude. Of course, we weren't supposed to be in that lot in the first place... In our defense, the lot wasn't marked very clearly, and we weren't ticketed or anything for parking there. But that doesn't excuse rude driving on their part. I mean, come on. Most of us in cars and vans had kids with us. Grrrrrrrr

Ok, tangent over. We actually got out of the lot and on the road home pretty quickly, considering the crowd. What a fun night of explosives! :-)