Strike. Ignite. Roast!

This year I was sad that Andrew couldn’t make it to the annual Christmas tree hunt because he was, as he so often is these days, saving the world from nuclear disasters. If you haven’t gotten a tree yet, it’s not too late to head to the national forest to get one. And do make sure you are on national forest property or it could turn nightmarish like our trip did this one year.

Most years are spectacular though. Don’t forget to stop by a place that will sell you a tree tag for a mere $5. Last year since we were visiting Caitlin & Zac and since they own a few bujillion acres full of trees, we culled one from their forest. This year we were home and we headed up to Naches forest.


 After the hunt we always build a fire (if permitted) and eat, drink and make merry. Okay, who is that crazed man wearing just a t-shirt!??

A lovely bit of smoked salmon on a cracker with cream cheese.

 Drinking, laughing and smoking (we live in Washington State!) Kidding.




Aoife, Aoife, feed her and she’ll love you forever!




And then after this grand time, we all end up at our house for big old pots of hot soup and bread slowly, gently warmed by our in-house nuclear chemist.


Photos courtesy of Blue Filter

I too am a Jesus Feminist

This guy rocks!

This guy rocks!

Feminist. What does that word conjure up for you? If you lean toward one of those descriptive words that are often misrepresented, the first thing you might ask in return is, “what do you mean by that word?”

For example, if someone were to always refer to feminists along these lines, it might create a shock collar response toward being labeled “feminist”:

“So feminism — smash the patriarchy feminism — wants us to be ruled by harridans, termagants, harpies and crones. That sets the tone, and the pestering is then made complete by small-breasted biddies who want to make sure nobody is using too much hot water in the shower, and that we are all getting plenty of fiber.”  Or:

 “… surly feminists. And I stand by the phrase surly feminists, despite the redundancy.” (same blog source as the above. unfortunately)

You might immediately and always deny that you are a feminist. For survival’s sake. The above quotes are aggressive and bombastic. BUT what if you read something like this:

“Paul believed women were people, too. as a follower of Jesus, of course he did. Of course he did.” And:

We began to realize that the development and growth in our marriage and the way we lived our lives were not an evidence of what some might call a ‘Jezebel spirit’ in me or his ‘lack of spiritual leadership’; no, the oneness and mutuality in our marriage was actually evidence of the Holy Spirit at work. Mutuality is a beautiful picture of trust and a sign of the Kingdom of God. As we live in a world desperate for a glimpse of God, desperate for reuse, crushed by evil and poverty and war and the grind of lonely existence in quiet desperation, we, the Church, are part of God’s plan to push back the darkness and make room for his Kingdom. We are commissioned to multiply his image bearers, care for the poor, and minister life and hope and healing in the name of Jesus, to the glory of God.” Also:

 “Over the years, we have discovered that this [moving through life together, helping one another, side-by-side] is another way to move within marriage, and yes- it’s very different than the traditional and stifling language of roles, headship, submission, and soft patriarchy found within many Christian marriage books and seminars.”

And then you were to discover that this writer unabashedly refers to herself as a feminist; that in fact, she calls herself a Jesus Feminist, and that in reading about her marriage; you were to exclaim, “that is the kind of marriage we have/want!”

Perhaps if you are nodding your head, “yes,” through this you will understand how, for me, reading Jesus Feminist was like a long cool drink after a blazing hot day in the desert. So given those two options, I will happily declare myself a feminist. And did I mention that Rachel Held Evans wrote the foreword?



Another book that caught my attention (thanks to a lend from a friend) is Half the Church- Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James. When you relegate women in church to the nursery. And kitchen. Do you suppose the nuance, flavor, help, insight from half the church might be missing? And the church sorely lacking depth?

And if you are looking for a scholarly work, I highly, highly recommend God’s Word to Women by Katharine Bushnell.

And, What Paul Really Said About Women by John T. Bristow.

And let’s smash the patriarchy while we’re at it!

Thankful for Abundance!



We aren’t showing who this is because we want him back every year and if you were to find out that he made four pies- merry berry, old family recipe pumpkin, chocolate cream with chocolate leaves on top, cranberry orange angel pie, PLUS these amazing pumpkin/ pork empanadas, a pavlova. Gosh! should I go on?? Yah, you’d want him at your house too.  Oh alright, Joel Tollefson you rock!


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When two deep fried turkeys are your hors d’oeuvre, your know you have a lot of people at your Thanksgiving table.  I think there were thirty plus people at our place.  That is thirty plus people to play games with.  Thirty plus people to eat with.  Thirty plus people to drink with.  Thirty plus people to laugh with and thirty plus people to really have more fun with than is deserved.  Yes, we had a lot of fun.


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If we could only have captured a video of Jonathan acting out “kimono”

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Photos by Meghan Eisinger @

Gretchen, We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bowl of Mashed Potatoes

At first I thought, I’d quickly hyperventilate but on the second quick intake of breath, decided to just get going on the cornbread for the stuffing. I was carefully tallying people here for Thanksgiving but after the count hit 36, I chucked the tally system for simple unadulterated mayhem.

Last night I did wake up doe-eyed in the headlights panicking and picturing the ability of people to even move their hand to their mouths for the feast.

I’ve read Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point, so I know all about those points- the “God, what in the world have I done!?” countered with “God, this is going to be a rip roaring blast of a time!” And in the middle of last night I was sort of swinging toward the “what have I done” end. But by morning I’d calmed myself to “the blast” side and, still in my bathrobe, went to tell Matthias,

“So last night I was imagining all these people coming for Thanksgiving…” And he cut me off with, “Imagining?” So then the scale tipped again the other way. And I scurried off to continue “planning.”

This is what I’ve got so far:

1. Never vacuum ahead of time what can be put off until the guests have left. Consider, have you ever left a party and thought, “Gosh, it really would have been a great time, but did you see that dust bunny under the fridge?”

1.5  Never mind the dusting too much either.

1.75 Or the sweeping.

2. Have a plan. Even though you want to be oh so carefree, the carefree only comes after much planning. Andrew now knows I will chew off his head if he dares confuse “planning” with “worry” and utters something like, “Don’t worry …” Chomp. Because I tried to “not worry” once by confusing it with “not planning” (as he so often used to do) and the lunch for this invited family turned out to be carrot sticks and water. And a small cracker.

3. Seriously, everyone knows your kitchen doesn’t normally look like a tsunami roared through, so just let the mayhem happen and enjoy the people. If the host and hostess are having a grand old time, well, that’s all that really matters!      it puts everyone else in a party mood.

4. If people are staying over, have an easy plan for breakfast. After a blowout affair it’s time to wake up, chill, and just visit. For us it will be already made muffins, soft boiled eggs and coffee. Coffee! 

So, if you’re in the area and have no where to go for Thanksgiving, you are welcome here. You can slip in and we will not even notice. My son-in-law will be boiling turkeys out back and offering them up as appetizers. Oh, and Gretch, can you double up on those potatoes?

This photo is to remind me that, yes, yes we can seat that many people. And their forks can make it to their mouths.




Endless Visibility


I just hate it when a writer leaves you at the last sentence wondering what the heck happened next- after that did it turn out okay or what? Did the guy get convicted? Or is he loose on the streets?

We checked the pass to make sure that there wouldn’t be snow or an avalanche to impede our speed in the morning and went to bed to not sleep until 3 a.m. And then woke zombie like and drove to Seattle.

By 8 a.m. Taite was ready for action in her gown and paper shorts waiting for pregnancy test results before the testing could begin. “That could be a double whammy,” I said. The nurse looked at me, “Oh. Yeah.”

So the good news is Taite’s not pregnant. AND her surgery of three years ago is working like a champion esophagus.

Problem is the upper esophagus- untouched by robot or surgeons- is her new nemesis. Taite knew it was something; she’s tuned in to her esophagus. Happily and thankfully a new amazing specialist has come to Seattle Children’s in the last year. So Taite will visit with her, see where she goes from there. And she’s so dang special, the surgeon would kinda like to see her for the rest of her life.

So it wasn’t like, “Aww you’re just imagining things. Go. Live life and prosper.” But it wasn’t awful.

We  celebrated with lunch, meeting up with a dear, dear friend and her beautiful children. And then we went to REI where Matthias hoofed around the store with weighted backpacks testing them out. And Taite curled up on a faux rock (REI, you are such a poser!) by the roaring fire and fell asleep right there in REI- the land of the greenest, hippest, most expensive outdoorsy people you will ever want to meet.

After the religious experience of REI, we went to our hotel and crashed watching all those television shows that you know are garbage as you keep on watching and watching. Taite and I went down to the junk food a.k.a comfort food nook at the hotel and came back to the room laden with icecream bars, chips, and candybars and settled in for more rot on television.

The next morning we were all still a bit “meh” and when Andrew wondered if we’d like to ride the ferris wheel we were ambivalent at best. He overruled. Thankfully. It was a glorious day, the visibilty was endless. And we had neglected to notice. Until then.


Denial and 3D Printers

“Oh no she didn’t!” And on clouds of bliss we left.

“You might be back in a few years facing  the problem again.” That little sentence  was quickly brushed aside as we hightailed it out of town, but now its slapping us in the face and yelling at us like a bratty child.  Taite is going to Seattle Children’s Hospital. Again.

Like any good parent, we’ve shoved this appointment date to the furthest reaches of our brain and down into one tight crack. We’ve been trying to live with a lot less “what ifs” and just deal with the “is.” The best way I’ve found is denial. Right? But dang if the day hasn’t shown up on the calendar anyway. So Taite is scheduled for “procedures” and an appointment with her most fantastically amazing surgeon.

Okay, so our life has been made bigger and better by knowing people like Taite’s surgeon exist, that selfless people like volunteers who show up to give patients packets of hot cocoa and brand new combs exist, that nurses who deal everyday with the utter sadness of a children’s hospital show up for yet another day of work exist, that kindness and compassion exist, a pastor who will drive through the same blizzard mountain pass as us to sit and wait during surgery exist, awesome friends exist, faithful family exists.

And weirdly, 3D printers get me really excited too. I was glued to an article,  ”Meet Anastasia Her Hand Came From a Printer,” how 3D printers are being used medically:

“printing a bewildering array of human body parts: ear cartilage and muscle tissue; skin, skulls, and bones; organs large and small… the next step up perhaps is tubes and cylinders- the airway, perhaps ureters, arteries, veins.” Maybe an esophagus!

And a two week old baby saved with the help of a 3D printer.

Sorrow drives you in a way that laughter never can. “For by sad countenance the heart is made better.” Does that even make sense?

Please pray for Taite.



She doesn’t look like this anymore- she got her braces off! (But I love this photo)



“Subtly letting others know how fantastic your life is by undercutting it with a bit of self effacing humor or ‘woe is me’ gloss”

I love that  word.  A humblebrag example in context of my life:

“Ughhhh I’m so overwhelmed, I  just don’t know what to do with all these bajillion ribbons that my amazing kids won in all kinds of sports and music.”

Eventually I’d find the ribbons forlornly in the trash and I would rescue them and stuff them in a box never to be seen again. That is what we call a packrat. I finally decided to either do something clever with them or throw them away again. I checked pinterest but nothing appealed. Then I saw a frame that I knew would do the trick.

Humblebrag: There were so many ribbons it just killed me to have to edit out some of them and it took two frames and still I didn’t have them all displayed. Ughhh.


Here’s what I did:




And then I added them to my ever growing wall of family photos:


Now if my kids would quit being amazing so I don’t have to keep adding more shadow boxes. Humblebrag.

I Love Angels

I am reading a book, Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer, An Approach to Life in Fullness. One of the things that struck soundly was the surprise of the ordinary that makes us grateful.

Going in for a “let’s take another look”  mammogram  and then discover it was nothing makes you walk out the door and be utterly surprised by how gorgeous a parking lot full of old cars really is, how sublime the clouds. Painting does that for me, makes me grateful and it starts with the surprise of the ordinary, like brilliant clouds tinged with a gray that can only come from mixing two brilliant opposites. Painting makes me grateful for the way that trees blur into the blue of the sky not able to see exactly where the leaves end and the sky begins, grateful for the subtly fading hills as they recede but still and really brilliant.

When the angel comes to watch over my MIL, I escape to my studio; I quietly, firmly shut the door, turn up the music, or watch Despierta America and paint my little heart out. It is good for my soul. I love angels.


The one on the left is hats off to Melanie Thompson. I saw her painting of Sauvie Island and gave it a go. Right is the bare hills that are so familiar in these parts.


This one is a favorite floral. It is hanging for sale in Bucers in Moscow, ID.








A Place Called Saturday



Movies and books tend to have the flavor of the time they are written or made even when the attempt is to make the piece period. The 1970′s produced Julius Caesar movie is cringeworthy in its  attempt to be 44 B.C. in clothing and hairstyle; it is 1970′s to the max.

I found a book  published in 1968 about abortion. Abortion would not become legal until 1973.

Reading the flap, I was intrigued. “Thus does Cora March take her stand on the issue of abortion, a stand that is to have a profound effect on her husband, her marriage, her future, her life… then one hot summer day Cora is brutally raped by a young unknown assailant; three months late, she learns that she is pregnant. Deaf to the pleas, entreaties, anger and growing estrangement of her husband, she refused to have an abortion even though both realize that the pregnancy may be the result of the rape.”

The writing of this book is facile, the characters are kind of flat and the ending is very much what you would figure. But the book does one thing well; it gives a great sketch of life in the late 60′s written then.

The issue of rape lays some of the blame on the woman and a holds that a man without an outlet, so to speak, needs to find him a woman anyway he can. Even rape.

Everyone in middle America had lots of social get-togethers, the women were forever having tea and playing cards because they were bored out of their skulls sitting around home waiting for their husband to get home from work and happy hour at the bar.

Sexual relationships developed between married friends because so-and-so was looking at so-and-so like they should be in bed together even though they were married to someone else.

And when Cora has her baby, the view of delivery in the 60′s is every bit the man waiting around pacing and smoking until finally he can go in the room and see mother and child. And with the oxygen tank removed from the room, he is free to smoke as he visits his wife.

The entire issue of abortion was fascinating to read about because it was writeen by a writer in that time- not a current day writer trying to imagine the thoughts, feelings and actions, which for current day authors pretending to be in the time always ends up as a diatribe thinly veiled whichever way it slants. This was a time before we had all our pat answers about why it is the woman’s right to choose and, “is it really a baby yet?”  Things were simpler then-  it was a life growing inside of the woman. But the point of that in the book was not to get across some agenda; it was just stated kind of blandly and matter-of-factly.

A Place Called Saturday by Mary Astor



A great CD player

Kittens and Rainbows

Pets put life in context. Maiori came into our life when I was still throwing in loads of laundry for NINE people, when we still had never owned a dishwasher, when I was making bread twice a day in my machine just to stave off the hungry natives; she came along when grandchildren were still in the distant future, when we were all younger. And the girls were all wearing denim jumpers. Or worse.

Maiori was a rescue cat twice rescued. “Why?” Andrew asked the woman who’d placed the ad. “Because,” the woman said, “She torments my dogs.” I think we rescued the dogs second rescue by taking the cat.

So the apple head Siamese came. And stayed for the next 15 years. She loved sleeping with Matthias and she loved having him wear her like a neck pillow. If she thought no one was home, she would yowl up and down the hall until she noticed she was not alone. Then she’d go silent like, “That was not me just then.” If she thought no one was looking, she would at 14 years old absolutely gallop down the hall; then go into a slow saunter when she saw you.

When she started slowing down, we averted our eyes.

We knew but didn’t want to admit time was taking the toll. The day I sat at my desk and out of nowhere she did a hard body slam, head first into the edge of the desk trying to land on top. I looked at her crumple to the floor and I just cried. I didn’t want to witness in the next few weeks or months what I knew we would.

When she could not even walk anymore, we called the vet to ask about “putting her down.” We couldn’t do it. Instead, we laid her on a lambskin rug and offered her food and water. She’d only take the water and then not that either. And still she didn’t seem to be in pain so we  let her rest. She slept through the night and was still there in the morning. But that evening she finally breathed one last time and was done.

We buried her and cried.

And then started looking for Siamese kittens.

Right when Matthias was fairly sure we had made a piecrust promise about a new kitten, I took charge and called about a litter that perchance appeared like angel kittens from heaven, half bengal, half Siamese. And then we got crazy. And sentimental.

How could we separate the litter?! So we bought them all. At first we were going to take them home and share some with friends and family. But we reneged.




Yipping Hyenas, The Pope, and Wisdom IS A Woman

I kind of hate to sully my blog with this… but. And I really have attempted to leave off with religion once and for all… but.  And I realize this particular place  is a ghetto of a place, a mere speck on the map of creation… but.

While at Lake Tahoe being considered for pope of an entire federation, Doug Wilson wrote a post that I guess he’s proud of. Well, sign me up.

Not that I am a seer or anything like that but look for “bitterness and the unsubmissive wife” in a subsequent post on his blog.

And in its entirety (I know, long-winded, well just skip to the response from wisdom):

Before smashing the patriarchy becomes mandatory, may we take a few moments to ask what it is? The current push is to get reasonable Christians to back away from it because they reject what is done in the name of it by the outliers. But however carefully reasonable Christians distance or distinguish themselves from the doings down at the patriarchy compound, it will not work. We have to learn how to distinguish tools and targets. Elijah One-Tooth and his admiring females are the tool. The target is the husband who loves his wife like Christ loved the church. Reasonable Christians (the ones who are most frequently gulled) cannot escape the fact that when feminists say they want to smash the patriarchy, their nuanced complementarianism is most certainly included.  Smash Patriarchy

Patriarchy means father rule, not stupid father rule, or ignorant father rule, or evil father rule. Now in a false and corrupting world, it is obvious that father rule — with attendant verses, to be referred to in a moment — can be applied badly. Not only can it be applied badly, it will be. This is a sinful world, and even when you seek to do something right, someone is going to do it wrong.

Something can be a good thing to do and still turn out badly. Some forms of feminism began as an understandable protest against the misbehavior of men, but because it was just understandable and not biblical, the whole thing rapidly became blank check permission for the misbehavior of women. And just as the misbehavior of men could not be effectively rebuked in its time of strength, so also misbehavior of women is off limits now. If you rebuke bad behavior in feminists, an easy target, this is immediately translated into an attack on all women.

But this shaping of men and women into political parties is one of the most destructive things we could do, not to mention one of the dumbest. Wisdom and folly deliver their respective invitations to men and women alike, and men and women both head off in opposite directions.

It is no picnic to live under the brittle pride of an ignorant man. Let us grant it. So we chafe under patriarchy if that man is the patriarch. But what about matriarchy? Are no women fools? Well, yes, they are, quite a few, and we are living in a time when that characteristic is one of the central qualifications to cultivate if she is ambitious and wants to become whatever she can be. If she wants preferment, she can achieve the same ninja levels of the non sequitur that chauvinist ad execs used to to achieve back in the fifties. Some of the ad copy back then was written, not by sexists, but by the bluest of the blue bores. But the ad copy today has a grip on the laws of thought that are every bit as tenuous, with the only difference being the gender of the fool being flattered.Blame the Men

So feminism — smash the patriarchy feminism — wants us to be ruled by harridans, termagants, harpies and crones. That sets the tone, and the pestering is then made complete by small-breasted biddies who want to make sure nobody is using too much hot water in the shower, and that we are all getting plenty of fiber. And if anyone reads these words and believes that I am attacking all women by them, that would provide great example of why we should not entrust our cultural future to people who can’t read.

The apostle Peter requires Christian women to be subordinate to their husbands (1 Pet. 3:1). Christian wives are told to subject themselves to their husbands (Eph. 5:22). Older Christian women are to teach the younger wives how to be obedient to their husbands (Titus 2:5). These are the words of God. As long as anyone is foolish enough to want to smash the patriarchy, passages such as these will be at the very center of what they want to smash. No sense in backing away from them, and those who do back away from them are sidling away from Jesus, not from Elijah One-Tooth.

Simple question. I have nothing to do with the erratic tribalists of patriarchy. But in every wedding ceremony where I am the officiant, the bride vows to obey her husband. After the patriarchy is smashed, will it be okay with everybody if we keep doing that?


And the response from Rachel Shubin:

Doug, perhaps the women you are referring to would simply like to be seen and treated as more than their breast size. Perhaps they would like their ambitions to not be conflated with foolishness. Perhaps they would like their husbands to see them and treat them as more than their breast size and their ideas and talents and ambitions as things to be encouraged and encouraged as opposed to denigrated and ignored.

If their husbands treated them this way (at which point the women would be fulfilling both her own design purpose and obeying her husband), perhaps you would see ambitious women as something other than harpies who want you to take short showers. But then why should you need to wait until a woman’s husband encourages her for you to do so yourself or for you to encourage husbands to love all aspects of their wives and not just the homemaking parts?

Not all women who are frustrated with the rhetoric and attitudes of patriarchy (your post is a great example, by the way, of what is frustrating) are harridans; and although I think the inflammatory language in your post does you no credit, I would think the same of a similar post written by a woman and directed at men.

And Doug Wilson’s response:

Rachel, thanks for the feedback. But there is a difference between reducing a person to some part of their body and using a physical characteristic a person might have as a metaphor for that thing which is the actual problem. If I say that a cowardly man is a pencil neck, that is what I am doing — not going around measuring neck sizes to determine who is and who is not a coward. It is the same kind of thing here.

Okay, I have to interject here. Anyone with half their brain tied behind their back will see that Doug Wilson’s “metaphor” regarding size- BREAST should be parried with… NECK. Are you serious?!  Neck/ Breast. Same/Same. Public school taught me it should be BREAST/PENIS. Do they not teach logic at these private schools?

And Rachel’s response again:

Thanks for the clarification, but…. not buying it. Calling a cowardly man a pencil neck is a metaphor, yes. There are zero people wandering around with quarter-inch wide necks, so clearly this is meant to conjure up a mental image of a scrawny man. But small-breasts are so common as to be unremarkable, so what is the metaphor here? You are using something statistically normal (and generally not a voluntarily changeable feature at that) to illustrate something you clearly dislike. Here, how about if I give you an example, and we can see if this explains it better.

A better cognate to your original remark than the pencil-neck example might something like this: “So patriarchy sets the tone, and the pestering is then made complete by small-penised boors.” {Feel free to substitute “manhood” or something else that retains the original meaning and flavor if you don’t want “penis” on your blog, although “breast” seems to be fine}. Does that come across as offending or illustrate the problem a little better? Perhaps appending this to the end will help : “And if anyone reads these words and believes that I am attacking all men by them, that would provide a great example of why we should not entrust our church to people who can’t read.” This neatly implies that any man who finds the first comment offensive is illiterate and not to be given kingdom responsibilities of any scale. What a terrific way to prevent people from disagreeing! Pretty brilliant, really.

And what of the idea of how, for a woman, foolishness is a central qualification to cultivate if she is ambitious and wishes to be whatever she can be? The Proverbs 31 woman does not really fit this assertion. She is a woman who manages both business affairs and household affairs equally well. Since we are discussing the business side, I’ll stick to those: she imports food from afar (v. 14), she purchases real estate and plants a vineyard with her earnings (which means she actually is earning money, v. 16), she is involved in the business of trade and sees that her trading is profitable (v. 18), she makes a product and sells it (v. 24), and she supplies the merchants with sashes (B2B sales model, also v. 24).

All of this describes a woman who sees the value in her own efforts, who knows what she wants, and who excels at and pursues those things with determination and hard work. Is that not the very definition of ambition? Is not knowing the strengths God has given you and wishing to use them to their fullest extent the responsibility of every Christian, both men and women alike? How is this folly? The writer of Proverbs certainly did not see it so. In fact, these things were of such high value that they are included in a list of descriptors of an excellent wife. Presumably the intention was not to find such a woman and then immediately direct her to discontinue all of these outstanding behaviors as soon as the wedding has taken place.

One other point on that chapter – it makes no comment whatsoever about any of this being under either her husband’s or her father’s direction (nothing like, “She consulted her husband and then purchased a field with his permission). All of these decisions she seems to make on her own, and her husband has full confidence in her, not because he himself has directed her, but because she is so good at what she does that he lacks nothing of value himself (vs. 11). I’m not implying that major financial decisions should be made without consulting your spouse (this applies to both parties). I’m simply pointing out that this is a highly capable woman, presumably one who has been encouraged and trained in such a way that all her endeavors succeed as opposed to one who has been advised her whole life that her ambitions and talents stem from folly.

I look forward to your comments on this and am enjoying this discussion very much. Thank you.

And then of course, silence. Because that is what happens when a woman speaks out and it is so logically sane. Silence.

The link: ( where you can go to read the comments from all the yipping hyena’s who happily lick their master’s face. And a single sane logical woman’s response too.)

Smash the Complementarity


Her So Called Life

So… My mother-in-law has been living with us for over a month. I have already alluded, okay, no, I have flat out declared that Rip Van Winkle exists in real life and she is in a bed in our house. But, and this is slightly encouraging, Rip Van Winkle is slowing waking from a very deep and long sleep.

We bought a bird feeder and stuck it outside her window, a window that gets splashed open every morning to reveal the glorious sun and all its light, and the tiny finches that eat the seed in the feeder. And still she slept on.

Then we bought a chair that lifts her almost to standing, heats her up if she wants, and vibrates to any sort of degree she programs. At first she looked suspicioulsly at that chair like it was going to force her to engage in a way she did not want. And at me like I was an accomplice. But now she sits in it to read her paper.

But the thing that brought her to life was the project we’ve got going on outside her window. We had a landscaper and his men putting in about 50 plants and she is mesmerized. My mother-in-law was a gardner; she loved the dirt, the drip line, the roses, any plant. So there she sits at the window watching the progress in her vibrating heated laid back chair.

And if the weather is perfection, I  wheel her out to eat on the patio. And probably I shouldn’t but if it’s pill time, I have her swig them down with her wine.

“87,” I told her, “if a woman who is 87 can’t swill her pills with wine then what’s the sense of it all? And spend all day in her nightgown too, if she wants.”

And she laughs.

When I wheel her back in after her meal, she  cavalierly tosses the baby blue sunglasses onto the kitchen counter on our way to her bed where she falls in.


A little wine- with ice cubes- and salad before dinner.

Hakuna Matata

I’m a teeny bit numb. I was dilly dallying around for a year wondering WWTD, (What Would Terri Do)- paint stuff, write wittily and wisely, read leisurely, rise late, coffee klatsch about. And then Bam! my mother-in-law really did come to live with us. She sleeps a lot. A lot. I now know that the story of Rip Van Winkle is based on a real person. And she sleeps here.

All week I have been remembering a quote that really encouraged me when I was a young mom changing dirty diapers, feeding little people, throwing in a load of laundry, cleaning up the same mess again.  And I figured it was time to make it my mantra. Again. Because, well, circle of life.

It shoots holes in the idea that the apex to a Christian life culminates at: holy and spiritual missionary or pastor’s life, or me doing whatever I feel like doing. Jeesh. Which would, I am positive, be way more sanctifying-ly amazing than taking care of people.  Way more.  Way more cool, exciting, and fascinating to write about being a servant, to wax lyrical and to exhort wisely about lasting patience, kindness, long-suffering and just being amazing all by myself at a quiet desk all neat and tidy. Way more fun than scheduling meals, showers and pills.

The quote is from Amy Carmichael in A Chance to Die:

“Amy was learning that if the Lord of Glory took a towel and knelt on the floor to wash the dusty feet of His disciples , then no work, even the relentless and often messy routine of caring for squalling babies, is demeaning. To offer it up to the Lord of Glory transforms it into a holy task. “Could it be right,” Amy had asked,” to turn from so much that might be of profit and become just nursemaids?” The answer was yes. It is not the business of the servant to decide which work is great, which is small, which important or unimportant–he is not greater than his master. ‘If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider ‘not spiritual work’ I can best help others, and I inwardly rebel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary’s love.’”

Dang it.

Now when my kids pop in for a visit, granny gets a visit too.

Now when my kids pop in for a visit, granny gets a visit too.



Visiting Angels

As awful as it sounds, I hope she changes her mind. My mother-in-law. We built this house with her in mind. She wanted to come live with us. Forever. And then she didn’t. She bought a third great dane puppy instead mid way through the project, kind of like three bold italicized exclamation points declaring that she had changed her mind. !!! In the meantime, I’ve gotten used to not being wholly involved with the welfare of others. So that kinda scares me that someone will really need me again like small children used to. I’ve grown accustomed to this new phase of life.

Then a few months back I popped in to see her during my art adventure and she said, “I don’t think I’ll be here much longer.”

I thought, “Oh my goodness she thinks she is at death’s door,” but what I calmly said was, “Oh really? Why’s that?”

“Because I’m moving in with you,” she states simply.

I (again calmly) reply, “ohhh.” But what I’m thinking is, “Oh no she didn’t!”

The problem though is that, I’ve been haunted by her laying there in a bed with the one window of the room enjoyed only by her room mate, blocked for my mother-in-law by the pulled curtain and a bathroom wall on the other side. Doing nothing all day long.

“That’s it? That’s her life?” is all I could think for weeks, “All that buoyant fulfilling  busy life is reduced to a curtain and a bathroom wall?”

And then like God so often does, He gently nudges me.  Every time, EVERY time I start the car, the radio would come on with a Visiting Angels ad for in-home nursing care. Coincidence. Drive on.

Then on that very Sunday we pull into the church  parking lot and yes, a car is parked there with “Visiting Angels” ad plastered on the car door meanly screaming at me.

And today, today I was just brought to a new understanding of sacrificing, of living for others by a friend who God sent my way so I would see this:

Jesus. This man. It worked.

So here we are getting ready to have my mother-in-law move in with us. But she might change her mind.


Last time she was here, Taite painted her nails.


More on Pigs

Talking to Taite early  that morning, she said it was fine; I didn’t need to come for the auction. I was sort of relieved in an I am such a lout of a mother sort of way.

I’d been to the fair the day before; I’d watched her show her pig; I’d eaten an elephant ear and other greasy carni food, seen all the exhibits, checked out all the animals; I’d done it all. So I hung up with Taite and sat there in my bathrobe for about 5 minutes. Then I had to ask myself what sort of a low-life mom would not even show up at the fair to watch the culmination of her daughter’s hard work? Who!? I dressed, grabbed my camera ( after checking to make sure I knew how to put it on ‘record’ because when she showed her pig; I did not) and sped off.

Okay, paying 8 bucks to park again didn’t thrill. Added to that was the pain of a $13 entry ticket. I seriously thought about passing myself off as a geriatric to make it a mere $5,  but  a twinge of conscience made me pull out the full 13. That and the fear they’d believe I was due the discount which would have been a tiny death of its own.

The place was so quiet; even the animals were still sleeping. I wandered alone and checked in with Orion:

Orion at rest

Promptly at 9 a.m. I took my seat at the auction with the sale book. And then saw that there were about 2987 pages of animals to sell. Goats were first. One page took an hour to sell. My butt was sore. Taite was on page 10. The math.

But thankfully after the one-by-one goats, the pigs were sent in three-by-three and the sale speed picked up. By 2 p.m. her pig was finally up for auction. My butt was dead.


Three by three selling

Three by three selling


Andrew had very sanely gone to work that morning and as he so often does in his charmed little life, arrived just in the nick of time to see Taite’s pig up for auction. I am not even kidding; our entire married life has been me ahead of time and waiting and he swoops in at the critical moment reaping all the benefits as though his butt had died on that aluminum bench too. But it hadn’t.

After that we wandered about then went home to scramble quickly out of bed the next morning to zip down to see Matthias, ranch hand extraordinaire. Here is the account of just one day in his very full life (and let me mention that when he writes very “little experience with stick shifts,”  the boy DOES NOT HAVE A DRIVER’S LICENSE!):

So that was a strange birthday eve and morning. I was spending the night at my bosses house when a coworker spotted a fire on the ranch; so at 8:30 I set off to meet up with my other coworker and on the way over to our meeting spot in the rain in a car with terrible windshield wipers a 300-400 lb black bear ran across the road 30 ft ahead of me! Then after meeting and following my coworker down a long winding road with very little visibility due to his dust cloud I was sadly told to change rigs from an old gmc to an enormous manual dodge with a 35 ft trailer full of my bosses dogs. I, by the way, have little experience with stick shifts. I am then told that I will be driving this contraption along a narrow road on the side of sheer cliffs with drop offs in the pitch black of midnight. We eventually left and I rode very slowly behind a bulldozer for 10 nerve racking miles. By the time I arrived a fireman who was in a truck behind me informed me that I had been cutting corners the whole time and was in a all likelihood closer to my demise than I had ever imagined. In the end we stayed there till 5:00am watching the flames slowly approach a hastily built fire line before it’s blaze was diminished to a slight glow in the distance be the efforts of the forest service. That morning the state sent in planes and the fire was put out.

There are tiny narrow roads in this photo.

There are tiny narrow roads in this photo.



On Sunday we had a party. When this guy is at the grill, good things happen.


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Say What!?

Say what!?

Say what!?

Summer has been a little bit about new animals. Caitlin and Zac have themselves a couple hundred cattle that they are trying to keep ahead of the fires that engulf the northwest every summer.


Out in this part of the country forestry firemen get huge respect for the really tough job. There is always a fire somewhere in the summer in the northwest. Always. This one is coming a little too close to Caitlin and Zac’s cattle.

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Caitlin just checking to see if this cow is gonna have a calf.

And Taite has been up and out by 6:30 every morning and back in the evening caring for pigs that she’s almost ready to show. You may remember that I was a big fan of Taite raising a few pigs this summer; so I’m pretty proud of her stick-to-itiveness in passing up doing some fun stuff and dedicating herself to this project.

When Andrew said he’d like to go with her on Sunday morning; I figured I’d just sleep in and wait for them to get back. Guilt. So we all got up and out by 6:30 and I am so glad I went. It confirmed my respect for Taite’s fortitude. Pigs are thankless, snorting lot.

It amazes me how tame pigs become just by working with them everyday.




This big guy needs to watch his weight; he’s bordering on the upper limit for showing. If he jogs a little when he’s out and about; that’s okay, he can use it.


Showering down is a treat for the pigs. You do know right? Pigs are very clean animals.


Just enjoying the shower.


Have you ever noticed that a pig’s snout is almost an upside down heart?


Easy Apricot Jam Without Pectin


“Jarrett, quick, help me get these out of here before your mom changes her mind!”

Andrew was so relieved when I proclaimed that I never wanted to can another thing again in my life. Ever.  So a lifetime ago in about 16 seconds, he and Jarrett hauled every canning jar, canning lid, and canning ring out of the basement and into the back of the truck and  hoofed it all to the second-hand store. The overwhelming sticky mess of canning  is such a labor of love that I hate to actually ever open a canned delicacy because of the lingering memory, all the loving labor that begrudgingly went into each jar. So I hoard it. And then a decade later wonder if the cherries will kill us to eat them. There was this one jar saved. .. But…

last week a heavily laden apricot tree ripe and dripping off the branches beckoned. In a weak moment I started stuffing pounds and pounds of the little  rosy yellow beauties into a paper bag.  After having to pull over to a curb once to rearrange the bag that had toppled and spilled all  over the car floor, I arrived home and laid them on the counter. And began to hyperventilate. What had possessed me? I left them there on the counter to think about what they’d done, seducing me like that. I wished upon them mush and mold to justify their quick trip into the trash.

But they were too fresh for that.

Having given them the evil eye all the next day, I finally dared to search:  ”easy apricot jam without pectin.” My search revealed David Lebovitz’s apricot jam with  just 4 ingredients- one being water and another, apricots; this was the simplicity of which I dreamt. I pulled out the canning jars that I have managed to squirrel away in the last decade, having come from other more stalwart cooks who have filled them with good things and gifted them to me. And very reluctantly set up shop.

Let me assure you, if I can make this jam, anyone can. I did not even wish to bother with the candy thermometer, so I set the timer and let the jam bubble away for 15 minutes and then ladled into the canning jars. If it doesn’t set up to jam consistency, it will be a great syrup on waffles and pancakes.

The small batch was so doable that when Tim and Erin came last week with a bag of blackberries and a bag of small wildly grown apricots that Erin thought about taking home with her; I assured her it would leak and be a disaster on the plane. My motives were ulterior; I was excited now to try the simple recipe with  blackberries.


These tiny apricots came from the wilds of Hell’s Canyon area


These got the evil eye but refused to rot.


They actually did set up!

Never a Dull Moment

Feeding all these people?! Kinda easy. Each family took a night and made something for the crowd. Besides that, various people would up and run to the store for more beer or hard cider or some food item to keep the masses fed. And we did a whole lot of eating out. We highly recommend Lostine Tavern and Terminal Gravity Brewing- both amazingly kid friendly with excellent beer and food. And R&R in Joseph. Seriously, they still sell 25 cent cones! Starting out on Lopez Island in the San Juans, we ended at the Chief Joseph Rodeo.

I love photos. They are a good remembrance of good times.

Just mom, dad and the kids

Just mom, dad and the kids- and squishing in down there- Valiant!


This guy is working looong days on a ranch and getting pretty much buff. I was so happy he got the time off.

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Poor little Aoife gets mixed up when all her aunts are around about just who exactly is her mother.

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Aoife is wondering if maybe the wrong mom is holding her.

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Mostly Aoife wants to feed herself, this is a rare shot.


Happily, Jarrett flew back from Penn State to join the fun.

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Kids got to belly up to the window at the tavern.

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Just waiting for everyone to get here for the big family photo

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Ah, here we are.

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It’s worth trying them all at Terminal Gravity

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I was so happy that Tammy and Marty got to be a part of the big va-cay.

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The last of the family trickled in to Terminal Gravity while we ate and drank. Welcome, Jason!

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These two are the real deal, the rest of us are all poser cowboys.

These two are the real deal, the rest of us are all poser cowboys.

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Yup, for real. She rode.

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Me too.

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Some of the other brave riders.

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And then we came across the hat guy.

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And we bought a bunch.

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And we watched the kid’s parade featuring Freyja and her side-kick, Jude.
When I showed Rhys a piece of candy that had been thrown his way, he simply looked down at it and said, “Oh, cool.” And left it there on the road.

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Those are not boots on Fox. Terminal Gravity has an enticing stream running through the outdoor eating area and it’s pretty much too difficult to ignore.

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Good food right there.

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and drink.

Nine Horses

“I wondered about you
when you told me never to leave
a box of wooden, strike-anywhere matches
lying around the house because the mice

might get into them and start a fire.
But your face was absolutely straight
when you twisted the lid down on the round tin
where the matches, you said, are always stowed.

Who could sleep that night?
Who could whisk away the thought
of the one unlikely mouse
padding along a cold water pipe

behind the floral wallpaper
gripping a single wooden match
between the needles of his teeth?
Who could not see him rounding a corner,

the blue tip scratching against a rough-hewn beam,
the sudden flare, and the creature
for one bright, shining moment
suddenly thrust ahead of his time-

now a fire starter, now a torch bearer
in a forgotten ritual, little brown druid
illuminating some ancient night.
Who could fail to notice,

lit up in the blazing insulation,
the tiny looks of wonderment on the faces
of his fellow mice, onetime inhabitants
of what once was your house in the country.”

Billy Collins will make you fall in love again with poetry; if you have never enjoyed poetry, you will love it for the first time. Collins is witty, insightful, poignant, and most of all readable.

In 2001-2003 he was appointed, for good reason, Poet Laureate of the United States.

You will not want to borrow this book you will want to own it and if like me, you find that your son-in-law owns two copies- he loves it that much- then simply, quietly, deftly,  slip it into your overnight bag and make it your own, but by all means, have a copy to keep and reread. Nine Horses by Billy Collins



Rabbit Trailing


Rabbit trailing stuff:

Our decades long tradition has been to make pizza on Friday nights and watch a movie. So this small pizza oven at only $299 is beckoning. It heats to 840˚F (not a typo!) and cooks a pizza in 2 minutes (also not a typo!)


And to go along with the pizza making, if you are in the market for a great garlic press that won’t break the bank; I highly recommend this one.   Erin reviewed this other one a long time ago, and I’m just gonna say; this is the same at 1/5th the price.


This, I almost hate to share because I want it and it’s probably a limited. A fire engine red iron sling chair a.k.a butterfly chair. The great thing about this one is that the legs do not fold up. I will reluctantly give you the link if you ask…  I want two of these on my back porch.

Butterfly Chair in Red

And my very own daughter, Taite, is making these really clever animals:

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Of course the summer includes good books.

“The work that God has given me to do is helping people to enter the existential experience of being loved in their brokenness.”  Have I mentioned that Brennan Manning senses the presence of Christ? An alcoholic and self-hater to the level of idolatry, in short, his admission of his failings makes him a relevant,  Christ-like example of strength through weakness. Ragamuffin Gospel is excellent.



I am a sucker for a food memoir that ends each chapter with a recipe: Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone, Shauna Neiquist’s Bittersweet, Susan Loomis’s On Rue Tatin, so I also liked Delancey by Molly Wizenberg.


Reading for fun! Author of Chocolat, Joanne Harris has written Peaches for Father Francis which isn’t exactly about food but it’s always wafting into the story. But dang if the ending didn’t drop into disappointment. We are also listening to this same author’s Five Quarters to the Orange.