When I finally (and I say finally because I have been married for going on 8 years now) bought a good mattress set I decided to splurge on sheets. You sleep on them every night, right? Probably worth the money? I researched everything I could on-line in order to make a good investment. I looked over Sferra, Matouk, other more popular brands like Garnet Hill or Serena and Lilly…. Frette. I embarrass myself thinking about the time it took to purchase a set. For weeks we were sleeping on a flat queen sheet while I delayed making the investment for our california king bed.
The online reviews of Frette made my mouth water. Plus, their storied past was enticing- same sheets as those used on the Titanic and by other purveyors of luxury for decades. The Titanic?? I should have known. When they showed up in the mail I took photos of the packaging. I realize this puts me in a category of crazy all my own, but I am a die-hard aesthete and appreciate good packaging. I was slightly disappointed when I noticed that the black stitching on the Hotel Collection that I had bought was not very tight- you could see the sheet through it and that make it look cheap-ish on close inspection.
I decided to keep them because I was curious about their incredible quality. I remember reading books in which linens were passed down through families and outlasted their owners. This couldn’t just be a thing of the past! So, this is where you know things go down-hill. After the first washing the sheets were so wrinkly they were like unfolding tissue paper out of the dryer. It bothered me enough that on several occasions I ironed them by hand before putting them back on the bed. Waste of time. They were wrinkled again after the first night.
The bit that made me decide to call up the company and see if there was anything that could be done, though, was the yellowing that occurred after less than a year. Despite laundering them to specifications and never with anything besides white, the creepy outline of my supine form could not be removed. I won’t bore you with all the details of unrequited love, un-returned phone calls, a messy and short relationship with Anna the head of customer service for Frette on-line…. basically I was told that I had owned them for too long for anything to be done.
Now to me this is the equivalent of purchasing a Channel bag and being told that I shouldn’t expect it to hold up any better than the one I got at Target. Which is what I told Anna (except I used the example of sheets and buying them at Ikea to make it simple for her). If I planned on throwing my sheets away after a year, believe you me I would have gone to Ross.
So here is my bit of advice (and this is for Aileen who recently asked me about purchasing sheets):
-Go to Ross or Ikea or wherever if you plan to throw your sheets away after a year. Or light your money on fire. Don’t buy Frette.
-If you want something decent, buy a wrinkle resistant set from a middle of the range place like Macy’s. They’ll look luxe and you’ll feel luxe when you sleep on them but if they don’t last, your children can still go to college.
-If you are determined to have a really good sheet set, buy them through a company with an iron-clad return policy such as Bloomingdale’s or Saks. Do not buy them direct from the manufacturer.
-If you do get taken by a company with an August name but poor ethics, do what all good jilted consumers do- go on every website that sells their product and leave a nasty review warning other would-be lovers to STAY AWAY.
Then post about it on your blog.
I am leery of a memoir that has the potential of becoming a swaggering braggart.
Christian memoirs run that risk, the “I found Jesus,” part can get lost in the drugs, sex, alcohol, and abuse; like the reminisce is making them long for the good old days. And reading you begin to pity the poor schmuck who happily grew up in a loving Christian home. That’s when you know a story’s failed itself in the Christian memoir genre.
So I was ever so slightly skeptical that Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies would fall into a drunken love fest about her bad old self. Instead I found an honestness about who she is, where she is, how she fails, how she succeeds. All of which does not measure up in the crucible of perfect truth. She’s broken and honest. And loves her Savior. And thinks abortion is a good option. That part made me sad.
We have to be willing to take people, even Christians, where they’re at, which in theory is easy. But in reality, I find some people really tedious, some stupid, some feeble when I should be trying to just cover their sins with love. But there you go and in reality it just made me mad that Lamott would vigil away outside a prison that would enact the death penalty on a man who snatched a small boy from his young life, then murdered him after enduring untold horrors and then threw him in the woods.
But be totally okay with a small helpless child being killed in the coziest of wombs because mom’s have rights too. And unfortunately, I think she’d call foul on me and call me a right-winged conservative Bible thumping nut job. It was sad because Anne Lamott absolutely exudes love for all sorts of people, no matter what, no matter where. But apparently everyone, even Anne Lamott, has her limits. And her limit fell at Republicans and Pro Lifers. I found that small of her.
Especially when she so cleverly says:
“It’s so utterly bizarre to stare into the face of one of these tiny perfect beings and to understand that you (or someone a lot like you) grew them after a sweaty little bout of sex. And then weighing in at the approximate poundage of a medium honeydew melon, they proceed to wedge open your heart. (Also, they help you see that you are mad as a hatter, capable of violence just because Alvin and the Chipmunks are singing when you are trying to have a nice spiritual moment thinking about ashes.)”
Anne Lamott knows she’s “just a bad Christian. A bad born-again Christian,” a Christians who know the depths to which she can fall. And sometimes does. And admit it. There’s hope in it like reading about David or Rahab.
She remembers the hour she first believed,
“I was thirsty for something that I will dare to call the truth, so I read a lot of East Indian poetry and sat in the little chapel on campus and tried to pray. In the spring of my sophomore year, I began a course with a tiny Czechoslovakian woman named Eva Gossman. I loved Mrs. Gossman in general and worked very hard in her class. Then one day she gave us Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, and my life changed forever.”
She is riotously funny, utterly honest, and dares to expose and explore her fears and failures.
Lamott is not going to be for everyone. If you are the sort who would tell me, “We don’t use the word ‘crap’ in our house,” and insist no one else does either; do. not. get. this. book.
If you live in a tiny tight Christian ghetto; do. not. get. this. book. Another reviewer wrote: ”Lamott reminds us that sanitized piety should not be confused with real faith.”
If you are willing to take people where they’re at in their faulty fallen striving journey Lamott has a way with words.
“Is there a really good reason why you don’t want to raise a pig and then train it to walk around in sawdust obeying your rope tugs so you can show it and then sell it for slaughter? Because I think if an opportunity like that is handed to you, you maybe need to think about doing it.”
Have you ever said that to one of your kids? Me. Yesterday.
And I had to check myself. Why? Did I think it imperative that my daughter slop a pig? Did I really think wrestling a pig should be summer priority? If not then what? Parents run the risk of attempting to live vicariously; but I was fairly sure the pig raising wasn’t that for me. Parents can sometimes mistake “my child” for “performing seal.” (That happened Saturday night when I practically shoved her off her chair to go Irish dance with the Lord of the Dance dancer so, no, I knew that urge.) It wasn’t that either. So, why the pig? It came down to regret.
I did not want Taite to get all grown up and regret that she had the opportunity to jump in a pig stye; and passed it up. I know; it sounds ridiculous. But consider.
When Jarrett was about 7 I got tired of him lazing around all day in the summer on his school break. Okay maybe he was closer to twelve. But still there he was a growing boy with butt loads of energy, living in the suburbs in the United States where productive children on summer vacation is deemed abusive. A suburban kid can weed the yard only so much.
All that and we were needing a break from each other. So I made him go find a dairy willing to hire a white boy who’s too young to work. He found one. And I was grateful the dairyman was willing to risk it.
Early morning I’d drop him off at the dairy office check-in where he received suspicious looks from all the Mexican workers. Jarrett was a minority of one at the dairy. And a young one at that. He was not given the easiest jobs and was out with a scythe in the ditches, ditches that stretched on for miles, to clear weeds; he climbed up in the barn rafters to clear out pigeon shit; whatever worst job needed done; he was the man. Summer temperatures were at least in the mid 90′s sometimes hitting triple digits by afternoon. Soon the guys were handing him portions of their homemade tamales at lunch and letting him hitch a ride if they went for a bite out.
And then last week when an opportunity for Matthias to work a tough job all summer presented itself; Matthias was glad, his dad was glad, I was glad and Jarrett got downright nostalgic. Jarrett’s summer like that had been a character building summer, a never say die, never give up testing ground. And he envied Matthias the opportunity. He was glad we had made him do the tough thing those summers ago.
You have to do hard stuff to have a story to tell. And okay, Taite did the tough stuff when she went through hell physically a few years ago but that couldn’t be what puts her on eternal “hold” for the rest of life’s adventures that come her way. So that was really it; I don’t want Taite to regret not taking the opportunity to get all the underlying stuff that goes with the pig.
“Please, please not the squash casserole again; try something else,” it pleaded. There was a butternut squash on my counter begging me not to chop it up, add apples, a little brown sugar and lots of butter,
Then I spotted a recipe in Bon Appetit. Besides the butternut squash, it had few ingredients (which I substituted with abandon):
For pancetta… bacon.
For pecorino… hard parmesan.
Fresh rubbed sage… Bell’s Turkey Seasoning- “A New England staple since 1867″
Other than that I exactly followed the recipe with the remaining ingredients- salt, pepper, garlic, and pasta.
I was determined to follow the quantities too… until Andrew spied the little dribbly 4 oz. of chopped bacon, “maybe you should double that; aren’t you using that diet cooking magazine you get? They always skimp on the good stuff”
“Cooking Skinny? No, this is Bon Appetit.”
In the end, none of us liked it. Okay, I dumped it in the trash. BUT I dutifully waited a week or more until it had molded so I wouldn’t feel guilt. In the morning I spied 2 cereal bowls in the sink soaking from their midnight nosh.
Friday Caitlin and Zac were zipping to town and bought steaks on the way to have dinner with us. I wanted to add a special dessert.
Fool that I am,I tried another Bon Appetit recipe, Lemon Buttermilk Pie with Saffron. Let me save you the heartache of a perfectly good crust.
I followed the recipe perfectly, every last ingredient exactly, as called for, the exact right amount. For reals. Thank heavens I told Andrew to pick up just one lemon or I may have made two awful pies. Go on back and click on that link and look at the photo of Bon Appetit’s pie. Lie. It comes out of the oven the color of Big Bird. Maybe “pinch” needs defined. Maybe just never make the pie.
Here’s the thing; saffron will remind you of roasted chicken or turkey or maybe a delicious rice dish. Saffron in dessert, to me the novice, seemed wrong on two levels- 1.taste and 2. neon screaming sunshine yellow. Also saffron has a certain smoky lingering flavor. All red flags were screaming, “Don’t do it!” But I did.
It was disgusting as though someone had taken a drag on a cheap cigar and with a straw infused it into the sacred pie.
Thankfully a few grandchildren have undeveloped taste buds and they thought it was quite a treat to eat pie for lunch. I just kept hacking off slices and doling it out.
So on Sunday we were having a couple for dinner and I was kind of spent with the novelty of the new and opted for tried and true, never to disappoint Domestic Goddess Chocolate Loaf Cake. I did make two- I dared to double- both happily ensconced in parchment paper. And then Saturday night it began to ever so slowly but steadily drizzle ice-ish stuff on our way home from a midnight céilidh where Jarrett played parlor pipes and people line danced and then Taite danced with a former Lord of the Dance Irish dancer and having accepted a dare to do it, received $50 for the privilege, and we caught up with friends we see rarely; on our way home from that fest, rainy sleet had begun. By Sunday afternoon we had to cancel the dinner for safety’s sake and eat the only decent thing I’d made in a all week. By ourselves.
It is not exciting to look at but the moist texture is fantastic.
Round about 8 years ago we traveled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to meet the parents of the young man whom Erin would marry. While we were visiting Tim’s parents; Tim was right then flying to Europe to surprise Erin with a proposal and a ring.
Erin had graduated with her degree in nursing at 18 and then had been working in hospitals for a few years and had decided it was time for a little sabbatical. So she bought a ticket and plunked down in Madrid where she knew absolutely no one and went to language school.
Meanwhile, Aileen and Caitlin were staying in Germany with my sister and took a quick little plane trip over to visit Erin. Tim conferred with Aileen and Caitlin now back in Germany about the surprise visit having seen the lay of the land, so that one day when Erin thought she was meeting up with some new found friends at a lake; Tim snuck up from behind and surprised her to death.
There we were meanwhile perchance with Tim’s parents and Cindy was teaching me the delectable results of browned butter in mashed potatoes, my little sabbatical too. The nutty richness is sublime.
So, when this recipe called for browning butter and sugar until amber colored, it made all the sense in the world to me; I’d learned from Cindy the heavenlies to which butter can ascend. Honestly, even if you were to leave off with spreading the chocolate chips on top, just the butter and sugar cooked to a burnished brown would be enough deliciousness to be called a treat. You could maybe just sprinkle a little Maldon salt on it.
This is another recipe of wonderful simplicity from Shauna Niequist’s book, Bread & Wine:
Chocolate Salted Toffee
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp coarse sea salt
In saucepan, combine butter and sugar, and bring to a boil. Over medium-high heat, keep stirring until it turns a deep amber color.
Remove from heat and pour onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper,. refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or until cool and solid to the touch.
Melt chocolate chips in a glass bowl over a pot of gently boiling water. When the chocolate is smooth, pour it over the toffee and spread with a spatula. Sprinkle sea salt, and then refrigerate until cooled and solid. Break into irregular pieces.
Just THREE ingredients! (four if you count the salt. Make it Maldon)
This made me nervous, the butter and sugar for awhile resemble raw sugar cookie dough, but just keep patiently cooking over a medium high heat and it will begin to turn.
As it starts to turn golden- just before you think it is really, really done; remove from heat. The residual heat will make it continue to brown a bit more. If you don’t like the depth of color return it briefly to the heat.
Quickly spread on already prepared pan- WITH PARCHMENT PAPER- it will set up fast.
Done and delicious.
Yay. First of all, I would not have know of Matthias’s wonderful achievement of making President’s or Dean’s list except for this little post card in the mail. He neglected to mention it.
Second of all, wow, what a way to reward a guy who’s studied hard. Why come up with something a little fun when you could offer him not one but two tickets to a political documentary. Heck, it didn’t even do that well on Rottentomatoes. Fun times.
Third of all, anyone interested in a couple of tickets?
Okay, so I was pretty honored when a friend of Jarrett’s texted him and wondered if he should dress up for dinner at our house, to think he might think that we do that, that he should do that. I was humbled. I glanced down at my house shoes a.k.a. scraggly slippers and my house sweater a.k.a. absolute horror but warm sweater and said,
”Oh, please tell him ‘no.’”
And then I ran to my bedroom and threw on some earrings to go with the slippers and sweater. Our guest arrived and kept his knitted cap on at the table. He was sure we would not approve of what lie beneath,
”Oh, please, we don’t care a wit.”
Our dinner guest was here because I have a vision for our “wine cellar;” please hold the term loosely until further notice, in fact, our in-house sommelier, Igor, is beginning to rebel at the conditions to which he’s reduced sometimes refusing to bring up the better wines so poor is our “cellar.” Enter this terrific guy with a mohawk who might just do the work.
We had a terrific time getting to know him riddling him with questions about his life, his faith, his living situation, his family, his future… After dinner and now gathered in the kitchen eating dessert, I was probing to get a quote for the wine cellar work. Jarrett; meanwhile, was busily setting up the hookah. Our guest quickly looked from Jarrett to Jarrett’s mom and finally just asked,
”Your parents are okay with this?”
”We’re okay with hookahs. So… anyway, back to a general quote for the wine cellar….?”
Taking a long drag he said,
”I think I might need another dinner before I can figure it out.”
My inability with the camera aids in anonymity.
Hopefully these are the “before” photos:
golf club, outdoor hoses and all manner of detritus put Igor off.
“High End” deserves better.
More of Erin’s great style! She and Tim fixed this place up into pure delightfulness. It has a huge attic hideaway space for kids which is a double bonus in a city. And I love the exposed brick walls.
Frosty Massachusetts Sunday evenings were set aside for the Wonderful World of Disney. One of those evenings my mom came in bearing bowls of snowy vanilla goodness. It was such a simple thing- fresh snow mixed with sugar and vanilla. It was exquisite.
No matter how many times after that I would scoop the softer, cleaner snow from beneath the upper crust, rush in and mix it with sugar and vanilla; never again did it taste the way it did in the cozy 60′s den of our ranch home with Walt Disney himself telling us what a great movie we were about to see.
That is the way it is with food, the event, the people lift the ordinary into a realm of memorable delight; the recipes can be replicated but it never tastes quite as good.
Shauna Niequist has written, Bread and Wine: A love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes, it is similar to Ruth Reichl’s, Tender at the Bone, where the short chapters lead to the food that makes the event memorable.
So on this snowy Washington Saturday when for the first time in a long time we have no overnight guests and no one coming for dinner, on this afternoon I wanted to make the simplest chocolate mousse with Taite. And we will eat them, not snarfing them down, but sitting at the table just the five of us with a little cup of coffee and a lot of conversation.
Photos by Taite
Simplest Chocolate Mousse
2 Cups chilled heavy cream- divided
1 1/2 Cups (12oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 Cup honey
In a small sauce pan pour 3/4 cup cream, 1/4 cup honey, and 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips. Cook on very low heat until chips are melted, stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, beat 3/4 cup cream until soft peaks form. Fold cream into chocolate mixture.
Divide among 6 ramekins. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Before serving, whip the remaining 1/2 cup cream to firm peaks. Spoon onto top of each mousse. Garnish as you’d like with a few berries, shaved chocolate, etc.
There is a scene in The Scarlet Pimpernel, when suddenly the identity of the Pimpernel becomes glaringly obvious to Marguerite St. Just, the room begins to wildly whirl and everywhere she looks there is evidence of the truth.
Those were my feelings when I read God’s Word to Women by Katharine Bushnell. So absolutely blown away by the awe of her work; I could not sleep that night. I, in fact, woke Andrew up at around 2:30 AM to tell him of the marvels that were swirling in my head, from a book, that quits making man and woman, husband and wife constant sparring partners. And it starts in a garden.
And it Wasn’t Eve
But it goes beyond male/female relationships; it extends to God’s promise to his church- that there will always be a remnant- even when the number seems very small- even when that number is TWO.
But lets back up. God formed Adam and placed him in Eden with the stipulation not to eat from the tree of knowledge; other than that, Adam had a lot of freedom. (Adam is told to “tend and guard” the garden. (Gen. 2:15) Mind you, “Guarding” only need take place when there is a threat- Adam knew the threat- and it wasn’t Eve, ’cause she warn’t thar yet.)… And then God forms Eve.
But Adam eats, and Eve does too. God, of course knows this but asks anyway if Adam has eaten of the tree “which I commanded you that you should not eat?” Adam blames God- “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate.” Adam, sacrificed Eve- threw her under the bus- and blames God. In one quick sentence. This evilness advances him to the side of the serpent, Adam became a false accuser of God.
Eve is there listening. The serpent was surely slinking around listening too when Eve is asked, “What is this you have done?” Now this would have been the perfect time to defend herself against Adam’s claim. This would have been the perfect time to give a little tit for tat, blame Adam for not making it clear what the commands were– she was not yet formed when God gave the command. “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen. 2:16,17) This would have been a good time to blame God too- “The man whom you formed first..”
But Eve answers, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.” She comes clean. She admits that she was deceived; she does not blame God; she does not blame Adam. She confesses. She owns that she allowed the serpent to deceive her. Adam, God and the serpent, all present, hear Eve. She makes her choice; she chooses for God. In so doing she creates enmity between herself and the serpent. She advances to the side of God. What follows is beautiful.
God elevates her position before Him; He puts a further divide between the woman and the serpent, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman.” God acknowledges Eve’s stand with Him, blesses her, and places Eve in His camp- further from the serpent. God goes on to castigate, not Eve, but the serpent-
“Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.”
God continues, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” This is Genesis 3:15.
Genesis 3:15 comes right before Genesis 3:16. What a wonderful thing that we serve a God who blesses us for our good works. A punitive sentence upon Eve after the wonderful prophecy in Genesis 3:15 would be crazy-making. She stood with God, and now God stands with her.
How in the heck-O did that wonderfulness get turned into a curse?! The original old Hebrew language was lost twice and was got back via Hebrew scholars/rabbis (who, well, kinda hated women) Christianity and Christian women in particular were despised. (See Church in the Roman Empire – William Mitchell Ramsay) It was the case that interpretation of scripture would seek to demean women. Fact.
Further, vowel sounds were not added until 600-800 A.D., so caution needs to be taken when reading the translated text. The Hebrew language in Genesis 3:16 can more sensibly be translated, “a snare hath increased thy sorrow,”- the word “snare” being literally rendered, “a lyer in wait.” Quite simply God is giving Eve a heads up, letting her know that the serpent has done some damage- a lyer in wait- the serpent- has increased Eve’s sorrow. The difference is between HaRBeh and AaRBeh The capital letters alone constitute the original text. ARB occurs fourteen times in Joshua and Judges. It is translated “ambush,” and “lyers-in-wait,” or “in ambush. “ A lyer in wait (the subtle serpent) hath increased thy sorrow.”
And of the second part, “and your conception”- the word here for conception in Hebrew is HRN- “but that is not the correct way to spell ‘conception.’ The latter occurs, and is correctly spelled, in Ruth 4:13 and Hosea 9:11, and nowhere else. The real word ‘conception’ as it is spelled in Ruth and Hosea is HRJWN. This word in Genesis comes two letters short of spelling the word. All Hebrew scholars know this.” (GWTW- Bushnell) The correct translation, the Septuagint, of Genesis 3:16 is”sighing”- “A snare hath increased thy sorrow and thy sighing.”
If we choose to interpret Genesis 3:16 to be all about women and their desire for power; we lose the church, we lose the promise of a remnant. And we pit women against men in eternal battle. It is simply not so. Adam chose the serpent; Eve chose God; Adam chose death; Eve has chose life.
Sick Jokes be Damned
“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:20)
This naming of Eve is not a sick little joke. This is Adam’s confirmation, acknowledgment that Eve chose life, that his wife was the remnant that God saved. God saved his people by way of one. Four thousand years later, God chooses for His Son to be born of a woman. Just a woman.
Following his fall, Adam is driven out of the garden- “So He drove out the man; and he placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” This “he” is singular- one person- Adam- not ‘them.’ “He drove out the man.” (Genesis 3:24) “Eve repented; but there is no inference that Adam repented at this time, for he was expelled from the garden.” (GWTW- Bushnell)
God has already warned (not cursed) his daughter, Eve, that her “desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” So, here is Eve still in the garden as God sends Adam out. At this point, one of two things happened:
1. Adam repented and became a child of God, allowing him back into the garden with Eve.
2. Eve watched Adam driven out of the garden and turned from God and followed Adam out as well.
We know what happened; Eve followed Adam out as God knew she would, and “Adam knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain” (Genesis 4:1)
End From Beginnings
God knew the end from the beginning. God knew that her desire for Adam would lead her out and away from God and the garden. He knew when it came time to choose which master she would serve, this time Eve would choose Adam- “your desire shall be for your husband.” She was not interested in “usurping authority” as current day interpretation goes, she was not interested in “wearing the pants;” she was interested in- she desired- her husband.
“Thy desire shall be to thy husband.” “Desire” the original word used here is teshuqa and it only occurs 3 times in the Bible. The sense of the word must be fixed 1. By studying its relation to other words in the sentences where it occurs, 2. By studying its derivation and structure, 3. By studying the way it is rendered in the ancient version of scripture.
The 3 instances:
Genesis 3:16 … and to Adam, Eve’s teshuqa
Genesis 4: 7,11 “and to Cain, Abel’s teshuqa
Song Sol. 7:10 “and to the church, Christ’s teshuqa
There is no variety in the 3 sentences excepting the proper noun implied.
The implied obligations to man is in the “shall be” which is supplied by the translators.
Shuq is derived from “to run.” The prefix, te, gives the word and abstract sense and corresponds to our termination, “ness,” like “goodness,” “kindness.” “A” is added to make it feminine.
“We can assert positively that this sentence is a simple future or present, warning woman of the consequences of her action. So it is rendered in all the ancient versions, never as an imperative. As a prophecy it has been abundantly fulfilled in the manner in which man rules over woman.” (GWTW- Bushnell) If we teach that this is an imperative- a command, Christianity looks like the Muslim religion only a tiny bit nicer. Maybe.
Even to a Fault
Women for time and eternity have been the abused in relationships, women will return time and again to the man who physically and/or emotionally beats them up. Women are wired for l-o-v-e. Women desire a man’s love. Even to a fault. As Andrew said, “If you can’t see that women are wired to be ‘run over’ in Genesis 3:16 then you are missing the whole point.” What a glorious thing that God did not pit man against woman as though in a boxing ring, a wrestling match to duke it out down through the ages each trying to wrest the reins from the other. That would be destructive.
“A snare hath increased your sorrow and your sighing;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”
Out from the plush green dragon’s zippered belly came an orange and green metal truck,
“Here grandma, the dragon brought this home you should take it back to your house.”
In the course of watching Fox that day I told him that Uncle Jarrett had made him a ring- a super power ring- out of a coin but I’d forgotten it. That really niggled away at Fox; he was desperate to get that ring in his little mitts and every few minutes he’d be back in my face to remind me to bring it next time,
“Maybe you could go home right now and get it,” Fox said in that sort of adult speaking to a child way about how I could make things right if I put on my big girl pants.
“There’d be no one to watch Aoife,” I countered.
Fox’s next plan was to grab a sheet of his stationary and jot a few notes to Jarrett. He brought the scribble lines to me and said,
“What does this say?”
Toddler writing is different than toddler drawings, with drawings you can say things like, “Tell me about what you’ve drawn,” and thereby deduce what the drawing is and then exclaim over it. With words, you can either read them. Or Not.
“Fox, I don’t know what it says, what does it say?”
“It says, ‘Thank you, Uncle Jarrett, for the ring that I hope grandma will remember to bring next time.’”
He folded it in half and then along three sides that weren’t folded made little half inch fold-downs to form a sort of envelope which he quickly, furiously unfolded and began to scribble again with decided determination, all the while his head bent down at his paper but his eyes shooting up in my direction. He spoke as he wrote,
“Maybe grandma can remember next time.” and finished with, “That part is for you so you don’t forget.”
Never even mind he was the one who ripped off grandma’s sturdy metal truck.
“I don’t want to be a mom anymore!”
About a decade ago, Erin made Taite a darling diaper bag, bought her a sweet little doll, and added all the accessories a baby would need and gave it to Taite for her birthday..
I looked on and thought, “She is smitten with mothering.” Meanwhile, Taite was ever so slowly having a mommy meltdown; she took this plastic gift of life seriously; her doll was with her 24/7 and she was doing all the important things to keep her alive. And it just wore Taite to a frazzle. One night when I went in to say goodnight, the baby was not snuggled up next to her. I wondered where she was.
Taite absolutely wailed, “She’s in your room… on your bed…I don’t want to be a mom anymore! Can you take care of her?!”
There lay the doll. And all her stuff. I put the demanding little thing inside her diaper bag and made her disappear. And that ended Taite’s doll playing days. Forever.
I remembered all that on Christmas morning when I opened my gift and thought, “I don’t want to learn to use this!” I wanted someone to take the camera, box it back up and put it under my bed. It scared me to have to sit and really learn how to take good pictures, with a camera that had buttons and knobs and lights and twirls.
Andrew totally knew that I was having a technology meltdown right there on blessed Christmas morning and said, “There’s no pressure, if you want to learn to use it that’s fine, if you never do that’s okay too.”
As it turns out wailing about doing hard things when you’re five years old is a bit different than whining when you’re a full grown woman; and it would have maybe been nice to know how to use my camera when Jarrett did a little modeling stint for a wedding convention. I’m going to learn to use this thing because otherwise this is as good as it gets:
Whoops, time delay shooting made me miss him entirely here.
And here he is just leaving. That’s his hand curved like a boomerang, I’m pretty sure.
And after the show. Kind of sad that I begin to think this is a good shot because you can decipher human form.
My house is devoid of family photos. I don’t really have a good reason. I am pretty dang proud of my family. So when I saw this great idea in Ballard Design I decided it was high time to hang family photos. I like the way the photos aren’t lined up in any way, just willy nilly all over so that I can add more without a set pattern. All you need is a big blank wall:
A few of these will be up there:
This amazing photographer”s site is Red Shoes Photography. Go to her site and you can see the famous Henny & Penny hamming it up in a few of the photos. (photos here with permission)
If you could see this photo really close, you would notice that Atlas and Valiant are very serious about this.
I get a kick out of Atlas carefully observing Valiant for how to place his hands on his hips. The seriousness of the matter, oh my.
Out of the camo, back to being city boys.
And then Blue Filter Photography did a great shoot of Caitlin and Zac’s family. After Christmas. When the last thing three little people want to do is quit playing and pose. And can I just say it is no small feat to get Freyja not being a little pipster:
Starting with zero framed family photos, this is the collage in progress. I have lots and lots of room for more. But it’s a start:
The great shot of Andrew with the cig hanging out of his mouth and the one of Taite above him courtesy of Hannah Farris
First off, whoever thought up the name “Plover” for a basketball team is a bit nutty. Seriously? But that’s the team’s name. Seriously.
They feed mainly on insects, worms or other invertebrates,
depending on habitat, which are obtained by a run-and-pause technique.
The plover has a distraction display subcategorized as false brooding,
pretending to change position, to sit on an imaginary nest site.
When the game finished, the referee came over and said to Matthias, “Hey sorry about that call.”
Matt immediately replied, “Oh, that’s okay, I deserved it; I was mad.”
And then a woman approached me having watched the ref talking to Matt and asked, “What happened?”
”Well, the ref called a jump ball when Matt thought he clearly had rights to the ball so Matt took the ball and threw it against the wall. Immediately the whistle blew and the ref calls, “Technical foul on #58.”
Now anyone who knows me much, knows that I am fairly suspicious of the very human element in my kids, but in this instance I looked at Andrew and said I was sure Matthias did not mean to throw the ball in anger, that he simply was giving up the ball; he tossed it really… Andrew was dubious.
So when Matt was approached by the ref he totally could have lied; he totally could have accepted the apology of the ref and been done. But he came clean.
And when I told the other mom that Matt had a technical foul that he owned up to, she said, “Wow, isn’t that what we want all our kids to do, admit it when they’re wrong.”
Theologically, isn’t that what God wants from all of us? He wants us to come clean by way of admitting our guilt. We need to purpose to raise our children to be able to honestly, openly admit they’ve sinned- even in the really big stuff. Probably one of the worst things we can do as parents is to condemn them when they do come clean. We see it over and over in the Bible repentance leads to redemption. Hiding sin leads to death.
But as parents we have to provide an environment where it is safe to confess, where it is safe to be human. If we don’t we will end up with little white-washed tombs where appearance is everything, children who are squeaky clean looking on the outside when anyone’s looking, and headed for hell on the inside.
So, actually I was pretty much proud of my son for getting a technical foul last night. And owning up to it.
GOoooooo Plovers! Yah!
Matt came home and told me,
“I was the only one who knew how to do a problem in chemistry today. So I had to get up and show the class. It was how to find the radius of an atom. There was a lot of chemistry but at the end of the problem I used a lot of geometry. It was pretty easy, well, I mean, he gave us the density of the crystal structure,”
“Well, yah, Matt, piece a cake then. Geesh.”
When Matt told me about his day, I pondered that I had prayed to God that seven children would succeed in spite of their mother/teacher’s deficiency, that as my ability to teach higher stuff ended, they’d get into college. I prayed that God would not let me be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. It is good to look back. That’s why we have the Old Testament. It is good to ponder. Sometimes life can just keep marching on and we forget to remember the ways that God has blessed us.
God never quits testing us, bringing along new tests until the day we die. New tests are a good time to look back and ponder His blessings. And then look toward the new.
So today while it was still dark and the roads were icy, Jarrett left to travel 1 1/2 hours to take a test in Fundamentals of Engineering, the last little straw to his degree. Andrew and I got up earlier than that to pray for Jarrett. And then we prayed with him before he left that God would give him recall and would bless the studying he’s done. Finding the testing center would have been my first test.
God’s the type who gives tests to prove our abilities; not the kind of teacher who likes to see us fail like A Beka school tests. Oh, man, those tests were little buggers! (If you’ve ever used that curriculum, you know what I’m talkin’ about.)
I know most people have left off with writing Christmas letters, but I got some this year and it was such a thrill to read them, to see the photos, to see God’s work in the lives of friends. I love pinning all those photos up on my kitchen cork board and there they stay all year. And they get a lot of viewing and remembering. I wanted to be lazy but those photos and letters made me write a New Year letter.
The beginning of a new year is a good time to ponder anew what the Almighty has done.
drawing by Matthias
Have you heard of air b&b? It is a site for unique places to stay all over the country, places that individuals maintain and operate. If run of the mill hotels don’t thrill you, you might want to check out this site next time you are planning a trip. Usually for less money and more luxury and charm than the standard hotel you can stay at a unique place. Often there is an available kitchen to do some of your own cooking so you aren’t forced to eat out every night if you choose not to. And very often there is a washer and dryer which is super handy if you are gone for a long time and have brought carry-on luggage quantity of clothing.
I am just sneaking this in while the world hibernates. But if you’re awake and have a minute, Beth’s thoughts are worth your time.
Someone alerted me to a little castigation directed toward people like me- maybe me in particular. Maybe. Directed toward people who do not interpret Genesis 3:16 the way this guy does.
But what thrilled me seriously to bits was one woman’s amazing response to his post. Here’s the thing about blogging: Sometimes you can get so busy trying to poke someone in the eye, bash them over the head with a two by four that you can forget other sweet people are reading the blog too. So here this gentleman was carefully attempting to skewer good honest folk like me for thinking that Genesis 3:16 meant “a woman will desire her husband,” you know, like the text says, and this kind woman, Beth, comes up with a polite and pointedly accurate response that just nails it.
Because just where do you begin to unravel sane logic. Maybe silence was best in this case. So here is her response. And you will notice at the end of her second comment that she feels the need to say she “is not a feminist.” Because if you are “for women” in ways that are not condoned in certain tight circles, you are immediately, unequivocally a shrieking feminist:
December 21, 2013 at 2:48 pm
In all humility, brother, can I suggest a different reading (interpretation) of that passage [Genesis 3:16]? it is one that made all the pieces fall into place for me, and I see the pattern everywhere. The great gulf between men and women caused by the fall. The reading I prefer (and as I understand is a sustainable reading both linguistically and theologically) “Her desire shall be towards her husband and he WILL LORD IT OVER HER.” I may have a biased sample, but I see more young christian women guilty of idolatry than unsubmissiveness. Disraeli’s wife said it outright “my husband is my God.” Husbands, however are not God, and so they will eventually turn out to be an inadequate model of God,with feet of clay. and this will be bitterly resented by the wife who has to come to terms with the real fact that her idol has fallen. Her husband cannot be her knight in shining armour, her God, fulfill all her needs, he is just a human being.
And the wife will have to learn to turn to God, who alone is worthy of worship, with her unconditional adoration. And she has to learn to forgive her husband for being a human being and for not being God. In the young stages of marriage, I see young women (at least the Godly women I know) not being unsubmissive but pushing the boundaries of co-dependency, letting their husbands do some pretty outrageous things without confronting them with it. ( meanwhile they do get petty and irritated by little things like who takes out the garbage and why he won’t take her out to eat, but those are small sins.)
In the big things (he must be respectful, etc) these young women are often are more enabling than confrontative. A healthy dose of both, maybe, is needed, but most of the enabling comes from the wife (typically) and most of the confrontation comes from the guy, who is just used to treating the world that way, and so doesn’t even see the damage he does to his wife. A wise wife learns to drop the no biggie naggy things, but draw firm boundaries where they need to be drawn. For example a 60 something christian friend of mine is drawing her boundary at “you, my husband, are not to go visit your attractive female employee on your off hours at her home which is her office and drink and smoke pot with her. This is NOT ok.”
To me, this is a more typical story, and the sort of story I hear often. Is she being unsubmissive ( a real question I welcome comment on)? Or is she fulfilling one of God’s roles for women. The word used for “helpmeet” in Genesis, is the same word used for the holy spirit. We women are not called to a menial sort of submission, nor are we called to nag. Somewhere in between, “how it was supposed to be” before the fall – we have insights and vision that our husbands, as far as I can tell, do not in fact have – good christians or not we all fall short.
In the balance of relationship, our greatest sorrow and dilemma is that one day we wake up, realize we have given 180% to our husbands, given more than we really, healthily should have, and not only has he not noticed, considered it his due, and demanded more, in there-doing we have enabled him to get meaner and meaner (this goes even for the good christian faithful trying to walk with God guys) and Lord it over us more and more.
A righteous wife weeps to God, and works on setting the boundaries in the right places. it is not as easy as your blog makes it out to be. THIS is the cause of bitterness. Not that you are not doing “what we (women) want” whatever that means. We actually do not want to lord it over you, but are bitter because instead of loving us, sinners like we are sinners, you have chosen to Lord it over us instead. ( This is of course, no excuse for the before God.)What that love looks like is not containable in a few words about “wives be submissive”. And the “be submissive” is a compromise given that we are all sinners. At the very least, at the very last, in the end, our overall demeanor, your basic mindset towards our husband, when all else fails (just like your mindset towards governmental authority) is to be submissive (in so far as it is possible without denying God or doing damage to the loved one.) It may be the final strong-meat key to entering the kingdom for a man, when he realizes (or continually realizes) that he is a sinner, and has a sinful tendency to Lord it Over the gentle creature beside him.
Why then is she a virago? Shakespeare said it ”Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” This is also a sin. But it is not one sided. Tough row to hoe on both sides. Only God can keep a marriage going. Thanks for listening. Discussion welcome Dr. Mrs. Mommy Grandma Beth, almost 60 yrs old, Christian for 55 years, married for 39.
And then in response to another commentor who also disagreed with this man’s faulty interpretaion wrote:
December 19, 2013 at 6:18 am
“This is not referring to a woman’s desire for moonlit walks on the beach with her baby, but rather a desire for control or mastery” — say what? / / / Every commentary I’ve seen (Calvin, Delitzsch, Phillips, Von Rad, etc.) interprets this as saying that the woman would desire to be subservient to the man, or would desire the man sexually (and hence would inevitably experience painful childbirth). This is perhaps more consistent with the use of the word תְּשׁוּקָה in Song of Songs 7:10, and with the context here. / / / Also, most modern translations translate Gen. 4:7 differently (e.g. ESV: “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it”). / / / I’m not sure that your Biblical argument works here.
My understanding is that there is a split in the ancient Jewish interpretation of this passage, with the Babylonian Talmud suggesting the reading Calvin et al used, and (is it the Askenazi traditions?) preferring the interpretation I cite. Calvin was a great man, and what the church needed at the time – a faithful legal mind to help develop civil rules at the point where church authority (the only real authority to that point, canon law was IT) and he did a good job doing that.
But a good juridical mind is a mind that sees things in black and white. It is of note to me that he never (Like Martin Luther) married a wife who could give him a run for his money. He married young uneducated girls, who couldn’t compete with him in intellect. (which is by no means wrong in itself). I think because of this, the Calvinist tradition (with seeds of sin it it like all traditions from man, however good) has lost enormously.
What would a woman of the intellectual stature of Calvin have said/preached/influenced? We will never know, but I personally do not think we would have ”calvinism” as an “ism” in the same form we have it today. For this reason alone I strongly prefer the teachings of Martin Luther to that of Calvin. Reason alone, however good, won’t get us there.
If God made women to be men’s”helpmeet” as I discussed above, isn’t there more to it than washing dishes and having babies? (p.s. I am NOT a feminist. I am a mother, as God has said of himself that he is a mother, too. Men are not mothers. They are missing part of Who God IS. Women, also, are missing part of who God is. In fact all of us miss part of Who God IS, that is why he created us to live in relationship and community.) Submitted for thought, in all humility. Regards.
I have had this book for months and months- shuffled it around in book stacks for possible reading and finally threw it under the bed. The title was intriguing but I am most assuredly NOT a lover of personified dogs. And I knew this book was all about that. My in-laws always found my character deficient for that. And I just couldn’t fake the love.
And seriously, I have zero interest in race car drivers and their fast cars. Zero. Cars so don’t interest me that four months after buying a new car, I am still hard pressed to locate my exact one in a parking lot.
Lacking a good read, purely from desperation, I pulled the book out from under my bed and began reading very, very fearful of the sappiness factor. And the added problem of the main character being an animal that likes sticking its nose in crotches.
Yup, then I began and read to the end. I wouldn’t call it sappy so much as charming.
Enzo, a mixed breed dog, lives with Denny who absolutely adores him and tells this sage dog all his heart. One day Denny meets Eve and Enzo is suspicious that his beautiful life is about to be ruined by this woman whom Denny is crazy about. Eve and Enzo are not initially keen on one another. But life changes and Eve becomes dependent on Enzo and Enzo is lovingly faithful to Eve.
There is a reason a book told through the mind of a dog received thousands of positive reviews and was a New York Times Bestseller. It is good.
Have you read it? Did you like it?
“‘You must never be deflected by unpleasantness. I want you to remember that. Although it may not be apparent to others, your duty will become as clear to you as if it were a white line painted down the middle of the road. You must follow it, Flavia.’
‘Even when it leads to murder?’ I had asked.
‘Even when it leads to murder.’”
And of course this Flavia de Luce novel includes a murder- right off- on the train platform in little Bishops Lacey. And of course Flavia will be smack in the middle of it all in her clever unassuming way.
Flavia continues to be a charming, precocious sleuth working away in her chemistry lab set up in the peculiar house they call Buckshaw, she continues to be an irritant to her sisters and a sage peer to the other detectives.
Alan Bradley has made a character who is so cleverly quirky, so winsomely smart, so sensibly mature that I just hate to come to the end of his novel.
Some people are book re-readers. I am not. There are precious few I care to read again. Supper of the Lamb is worth it. It is the perfect book to read during the holiday’s feasting, reminding me that calorie counting be damned when Caitlin arrived with her perfected cinnamon rolls made through the sweet harmony of two master baker’s recipes. And then when the pan was cleared of all its bready goodness, a spoon to get at the gooey toffeed stickiness from the bottom was the only right thing to do. Feast days are not the time for fasting. Period.
On the heels of those glorious cinnamon rolls was prime rib medium rare, mashed potatoes engorged with butter and popovers whose batter was carefully placed on top of the fatty drippings of the roast. The next morning’s breakfast was a mere 1/4 cup of shredded wheat. It was the best I could do.
Of this, Robert Farrar Capon says:
“The calorie approach is the work of the devil. He has persuaded otherwise sane men that festal eating should not alternate with ferial eating at all, but with dieting- an activity which, while it uses food, hopes that it can keep food from having anything significant to do with us… The dieter has no way of distinguishing good food from bad.”
To have been “on a diet,” to have turned down a Christmas feast fit for a queen for no other reason than a calorie count, is to be presented cinnamon rolls fit for the gods and refuse them as though they are on par with day old doughnuts in a cellophane wrapper. To be a dieter is to lose the ability to distinguish good food from bad. Christmas is most assuredly not the time to diet. Neither is New Year’s.
Have you seen Hogarth’s etching: O The Roast Beef of Old England?
Jeroboam sized baby and bottle of wine. We conquered the bottle during the Christmas feast.
This is a sneaky false picture of tranquility during the feasting and festing.
With a few stray chairs and a little elbow rubbing, 15 managed to squeeze around the table.
Delegate, delegate, delegate. Anwyn (& Co.) made the matchless place settings.
Glorious flowers from the Top family. I just looove the cabbage rose.
Aoife prefers mayhem to quiet so this was a very good day for her.
This is a little compilation of gift ideas especially for the men in your life. Women would like all of these too but women are easy to buy for. Why are men so hard to buy for? When I got done with this exercise I thought, “Heck, it’s a piece a cake to buy clever gifts for guys.”
I invite you to browse my over one thousand reviews by clicking here for a few more books and sundry gift ideas.
Clicking on the photos will send you to all the details about the various gifts.
Click on photo to purchase
Need some beautiful, smooth new sound for Christmas? Here it is, look no further. You can have this jazz band in your home for only $18.95
My review here.
Click on photo to purchase
For the money, this is a belt that will seriously last a lifetime. My husband goes through leather belts at a good clip, so spending $99 on this belt which will last a lifetime is a great savings.
My review here.
Click on photo to purchase
How can a church catechism that is 450 years old still be relevant for life today? My review is here. Paperback $12.48
Click on photo to purchase
I bought this because I loved the title. Andrew got hold of it first and is absolutely loving it. How suffering sets you free. Hardcover $15.16
Click on photo to purchase
We have a Bose speaker but this is better for two reasons: 1. At roughly 6 X 4 X1.5, it is small but powerful. 2. You can sync via Bluetooth instead of fitting your music source into a plug-in.
At $199, it is the same price as the Bose Speaker but more versatile.
My review is here.
Click on photo to purchase
For a lot less money- as in, 1/10 of the price at $19.99 here is a little stocking stuffer for listening to music.
My review is here.
Click on photo to purchase
This has been a huge hit at our house. We have an ice maker, but we purchased ice weekly for our “better” drinks. When I reviewed this ice ball, that was the end of us buying ice. So, really at $19.97, the ice ball pays for itself in short time.
My review is here.
Click on photo to purchase
And if you don’t want any dilution of your drink, Whiskey Stones are the way to go. Talk about stocking stuffer, these are just $5, elsewhere, way more.
Click on photo to purchase
Okay, not very exciting looking but honestly, aren’t a lot of gifts you buy for men not very exciting looking? If you you have a cameraman, this will upload photos from a digital camera to a computer, phone or any WiFi equipped smart device- without taking the SD card out of the camera. Convenience will cost ya though at $34.
My review here.
Click on photo to purchase
Read my review and I will explain why this is a nice set. At $199, it is a fairly mid-range price for a nice pair of binoculars.
Click on photo to purchase
Heck, I want this! Young and old would love this. At $300 you have to remember, Legos last a lifetime.
Click on photo to purchase
How about a grill to go for cookouts, tailgate parties, and camping? The cooking grate measures 14-1/2-inch diameter and is triple nickel-plated. At only 29.99 you’ve got a party in the making!
Click on photo to purchase
Or maybe you are just crazy about grilled pizza; this pizza cooker insert will convert a Kettle barbecue to a pizza oven for just $145.
Click on photo to purchase
Click on photo to purchase
Laguiole makes fine cutlery knives, so it stands to reason their sporting knife would be quality too. The beautiful one with the flower up the side is on sale right now down from $175 for only $34.99 That is a steal! Okay maybe a little feminine, but maybe your stocking needs a little something too.