Thursday, January 28, 2010

Marquee Madness 1

Well, now...wish I had known this service was available before I underwent that bloody painful tonsillectomy!
My boys and I had a hearty chuckle when we saw this sign this morning!  I thought that surely this "blessing of the throats" was symbolic for something else...like the words of my mouth or my voice lifted in song to the Lord or something...ANYTHING! 

So I looked it up.  And guess what?  I was wrong.  The blessing is aptly titled and is intended to keep away the sore throats by the application of a candle wick and the sign of the cross.  Oi-vay.  I thought the Roman Catholics had abandoned a lot of the old superstitions!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wordsmith Wednesday

Which is the antonym in each collection of synonyms?

Answers have already been highlighted.  Thanks to those who played along on here as well as on FB.  Come back next Wednesday...and try again!

1)
a.  condone
b.  decry
c.  condemn
d.  deprecate
e.  vilify

2)
a.  disobedient
b.  tractable
c.  recalcitrant
d.  errant
e.  willful

3)
a.  taciturn
b.  reserved
c.  cold-hearted
d.  demonstrative
e.  insensitive

4)
a.  zealous
b.  energetic
c.  dynamic
d.  vital
e.  torpid

5)
a.  narcissistic
b.  egotistical
c.  self-effacing
d.  self-centered
e.  vain

6) 
a.  imprecise
b.  ambiguous
c.  obscure
d.  vague
e.  perspicuous

7)
a.  repellant
b.  disarming
c.  ingratiating
d.  winsome
e.  conciliatory

8)
a.  laconic
b.  loquacious
c.  terse
d.  succinct
e.  pithy

9)
a.  artful
b.  disingenuous
c.  pretentious
d.  candid
e.  obligatory

10)
a.  capacious
b.  ample
c.  confined
d.  commodious
e.  voluminous


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lots & Lots of Will Power

I have friends who tend to relate every circumstance of life to a Seinfeld episode.  Since I've never been an avid fan, these references are usually lost on me...except a few of the more "famous" ones.  

My daily reference point is slightly less...um..."adult", shall we say?  In fact, it's rather juvenile.  I often correlate my circumstances to Children's Books!  This morning was no exception.

I love the way I feel after I walk/run, but am having a hard time pushing myself to do it on some of these really cold days. I keep searching for that rather elusive character trait known as "will power" but it seems to have quite abandoned me.  But never fear!  Frog & Toad taught me exactly what to do when I lack will power!  That is:  find new ways to motivate...or rather FORCE...myself to get it done!


In Arnold Lobel's funny, endearing and wise story, "Cookies", Frog and Toad can't stop eating the delicious cookies they made because they don't have enough will power. "Will power is trying hard not to do (or in my case...TO do) something that you really want to do," says Frog. So they keep devising more and more extreme circumstances to make the cookies harder to get at. In the end, they scatter them on the ground and the birds snatch them all away. Toad laments, "Now we have no more cookies to eat. Not even one." "Yes," said Frog, "but we have lots and lots of will power."

Following their example, my most recent strategy was to have my 16-year-old drive my car to his morning carpool and leave it there. In order for me to go anywhere (and I HAVE to today), I had to hoof it 3 miles to pick up my car!  Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures...and I consider a wind chill of 9 degrees, a desperate time!

It worked!  I successfully retrieved my car and now I can join Frog and Toad in declaring that I too "have lots and lots of will power!" 

Monday, January 25, 2010

Leisurely Woman's Daybook


Outside  my window...I don't believe we've seen the sun for 8 days or so now, and I'm beginning to scoff less at the reality of Seasonal Affective Disorder!

From the kitchen...red curry beef.

Around the house...catching up on laundry.  How did I get SOOOO far behind?

A favorite thing...soft tissues.

I am thinking...that completing this simple-minded blog post should not require 4 sittings spanning 9 hours.   But it did.

I am wearing...my glasses...for a change.

I am hearing...Guy Clark's latest CD:  Somedays the Song Writes You

I am reading...Exodus.

I am thankful for...gracious and compassionate friends.

Plans for my week...get through it.  Ambitious, I know.

A photo/video I'm sharing...Ford Grant Shaffer (Steve's dad) has been gone 10 years this week.  Here are pictures of him with his kids.  Sheri was his only girl and most definitely his favorite, partially because she caused him significantly less trouble than those 2 boys!  



Friday, January 22, 2010

Welcome Back #25


As far as I recall, this photo from McGwire Day in 2004 represents the last time Mark appeared in a public forum in STL...until now.

I was pleased to witness his warm reception at the Cardinals Winter Warm-up and was very happy to see a genuine smile on McGwire's face for the first time in years.  The relief granted him by his public confession was obvious, and the people have responded with an open-hearted spirit and a willingness to receive him once again as a man of integrity. 

The grace of the Gospel manifests itself in the hearts of men, whether they realize it or not.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Berries & Cream

Incredibly simple. Low-carb.  Delightfully delicious.


Ingredients:



Fresh Blueberries
Fresh Raspberries
Splenda
Heavy Cream


Layer the berries in a bowl.







Sprinkle to desired sweetness with Splenda.






Pour heavy cream over the top until the berries are nearly covered.



Indulge!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordsmith Wednesday

argument - a discussion in which there is disagreement; it suggests the use of logic and the bringing forth of facts to support or refute a point

SYNONYMS:

struggle - implies the exertion of great effort to overcome 

quarrel - heated verbal strife often marked by resentment and hostility

disagreement - refers to an argument usually stemming from a difference of opinion

dissension - implies a lack of harmony among opposing groups in a body, usually stemming from a difference of opinion

dispute - refers to a contradiction of an assertion 

controversy - connotes a disagreement of lengthy duration over a matter of some weight or importance

contention - a striving to prove one's statement or position as valid

fight - a struggle to overcome one's opponent

altercation - implies loud and heated verbal disagreement which may come to blows

squabble - suggests undignified, childish wrangling over a small matter

spat - a petty quarrel

debate - implies a formal disagreement expressed through reasoned arguments

conflict - refers to a sharp disagreement in interests or ideas

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Eulogy of a Stubborn Servant


At age 87, Grandma is probably  nearing the end of her days.  She may surprise us all and eek out a few more years, but recent events (including a stroke a week ago Sunday), have weakened her considerably.  Her spirit is resolute, but she is physically frail and has lost a slight edge mentally.  

She will be released from the hospital this afternoon - for the third time in 10 days - and she's determined to return home and maintain her independence.  She has acknowledged some limitations, but isn't quite ready to rely entirely on others.

I visited with her this past Sunday and again for a couple hours this morning.  She continually blesses my heart.  Today she recounted for me all the opportunities which have arisen in the last 10 days for her to declare the goodness of the Lord.  She has challenged and engaged her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, hospital staff and fellow church members, reminding us all of the Lord's faithfulness, sovereignty and goodness.  She has encouraged and blessed me in ways she doesn't even realize.

This isn't out of character for Grandma.  Though she hasn't always been verbally bold, her life has been a continuous example of service and repentance and submission to very difficult circumstances.  

My Grandaddy was a truck-driver, often absent while their 4 boys were growing up and much of the parenting was left to her.

Her 5th child and only daughter, Riesa, was born with Down's syndrome and autism.  Riesa's early days demanded around-the-clock care...she could receive sustenance only by way of hourly feedings from a medicine dropper.  She refused the doctor's advice to immediately institutionalize Riesa.  Those days were only the beginning of a lifetime of sacrificial service which enabled that daughter to thrive.  Riesa learned to read, spell and tell time.  She learned to love music, to have a sense of humor, to play without being too rough (that one took a while!!), to care for many of her own daily needs, to obey.  She also came to know The Gospel and she memorized Scripture and hymns. 

But Riesa wasn't Grandma's sole concern.  Although she now admits and regrets neglecting her boys, whom she saw as whole and unneedy compare to Riesa, she did care for others.  Through the MO foster program, she took in 2 abused girls (sisters) with varying degrees of mental retardation.  Lily was with them from age 12-18, and Jackie from age 10 until she married in her twenties!  G'ma mothered them and now grandmothers Jackie's 2 children. 

But that's not all.  She also took in and cared for her mother and her mother-in-law in their old age.  For years, she served them 3 homecooked meals per day, made their beds, did their laundry, read the Bible to them, took them for drives in the countryside, bathed and dressed them, etc.  I lived with her for several months during these caretaking years and never heard one grumble or observed a complaining spirit about any of it.

I also remember a difficult time in my family's life when she opened her home to us.  All eight of us lived with her for a year!!  A son, a daughter-in-law, 2 adolescent boys and 4 teenage girls.  Oi-vay.  Give the woman a halo...NOW!

During the several times I lived in her home, it was commonplace - once her chores were complete - to see Grandma sitting on the sofa with her Bible open.  She has long loved and revered the Lord and His Word and she has endeavored to pass that love and reverence on to her 6 children (including Jackie), 14 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren and, if given the opportunity, will do the same for her 2 great-great-grandchildren.  

Now...for the record:  Grandma isn't perfect.  Far from it, in fact.  She is quietly stubborn and often insists on having her own way.  Her independent and somewhat cynical spirit made it very difficult for her to trust and love her husband well (though they celebrated 60+ years before he died in 2003).  Her self-sufficient nature often makes her resist advice in favor of her own opinion.  But, on some level, these same qualities contributed to the toughness that allowed her to serve sacrificially and tirelessly.

I want to look upon her sins and faults graciously, with the hope that those who love me will return the favor when my end draws near and they look back to evaluate my life. 

Grandma's trust in the work of Christ and in his unfailing love for us even in the small details of life, is unwavering and I thank God for her exemplary life and a godly heritage.  

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lies My Father Told Me: 2

I'll never forget the day my Daddy first fronted this idea to me.  It was a rainy day and folks were, naturally, running from their cars into the building to avoid getting soaked.  My Daddy said something like this to me:

"You know, it doesn't make any sense to run through the rain.  You have to cover the same distance whether you run or walk, so when you run, you still run through the same number of raindrops that you would if you walked."

Well, apparently, I have not always been a stronghold of logical thinking because I remember puzzling over that one for hours.  I could talk myself into it...then talk myself out of it...then talk myself back into it again.  Over and over and over!  For years I debated with myself, until I finally concluded...HE WAS RIGHT!!   

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wordsmith Wednesday

Root:

credere: Latin(v) - to believe

Derivatives:

credit
creditable
credible
credibility
credibleness
creditor
credulous
credence
creed
incredulous
incredulity
incredible
discredit
discreditable
discreditability
accredit
accreditable
accreditation
miscreant
recreant

Do Not Panic! Do Not Panic!

Just a little disclaimer here on Saturday's poem post.  I received a number of encouraging emails from folks worried about me, so I figured there could be more of you who opted not to say anything, but might have been concerned as well.  I think I now understand why many poets were published posthumously!

First of all, remember that poetry is one person's interpretation and expression of internal or external realities that is intended to capture the imagination. The picturesque language is heightened so as to pierce the soul.  Also keep in mind that it is intentionally obscure, not to be analyzed too literally! 

I appreciate the love and concern (and it is always welcome), but let me put to rest any speculation:  I am OK.  Really.  In a tough season of life?  Yeah...but I'm OK!  And never, ever, would I use a forum like this to expose or demean particular people in my life!  The only "person" referenced here is ME...because I AM The Queen...of...Everything!  But you already knew that.   So...feel free not to overanalyze, overinterpret or overspeculate!

Just enjoy...or not. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Have A Dream

This one is rather simple: 

I dream of owning a top-notch camera and traveling the world to learn church history as expressed in the architecture of churches, cathedrals, monastaries, abbeys, chapels, etc...everything from the little, white, 1-room country churches in the American countryside, to the ancient cathedrals of Europe.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Leisurely Woman's Daybook


Outside my window...From inside the house, the footprints in the backyard snow posed a great mystery.  Eric and I determined to solve it.  The prints followed a straight line, with no offset like you would normally find.  They were fairly far apart and traveled in a single direction, stopping at the fence.  From the window, they appeared to be rather large with claw-like portrusions.  Ooooohhh....

Turns out, upon closer examination, it was a rabbit trail.  Of course!  They can run in a straight line...their feet stay close together making a "single" print from all 4 paws...thus creating the claw-like effect...and they can sneak through the fence posts, making their trail mysteriously "disappear."    Simple solution.  But we sure had fun speculating before we went out and investigated (bear? dog with snowshoes? a human who could leap the fence in a single bound?)!

From the kitchen...homemade chicken soup...for my husband who is throwing up...that's why I'm not asleep right now!  :-(

Around the house...I need to paint the stair risers. 

A favorite thing...the waffle iron my mother gave me for Christmas 15 years ago.

I am thinking...that I need to go to bed now. 

I am wearing...a white robe.  Very liturgical.

I am hearing...the dryer.  Another late night "I have to have this clean for tomorrow!" request.  They are becoming more frequent.

I am reading...Promise and Deliverance.

I am creating...uh...I wrote a "poem" in the last 48 hours...does that count for creating?  I know...it's not REAL poetry...in fact, it's the kind of stuff that I usually scoff at! 

I am thankful for...St. Christopher of Carondolet.

Plans for my week...walk, walk, walk...no matter HOW cold it is!  I am about to go out of my head from NOT walking for 2 weeks now.  Basketball...wrestling...coffee with Alicia...dinner with Cindy and Laura.   Get back on my high fat/low carb eating routine!! 

I imagine Riesa will require a little extra energy this week as well.  She watched this AM as her mother was taken away in an ambulance (TIA, they think...).  She happened to be at "home" this weekend and when I went to pick her up, she was very emotional.  I expect she'll stay that way until she sees Mother again and knows she's OK.  Poor thing...she doesn't understand.

A photo/video I am sharing...I love this photo...the colors, the composition, the way of life it portrays.  Simply beautiful.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Poet "Lori"ate

The light-hearted title of this post doesn't fit the tenor of the post itself, but I thought it was clever...so I did it anyway.  Self-amused.  Go ahead...pity me. 

A Song of Lament
by:  Lori Shaffer

I am the queen of an empty cave.

This vast & endless cavern must needs be filled
Lest the burdens from Above -
Yea, from every side! -
Collapse the roof and walls,
Filling its black recesses with useless rubble
Too weighty and stubborn to remove.

This house is diminished,
Yet it is not utterly abandoned.
Ravening wolves have taken up residence.
Stalking.  Prowling.  Searching
For any glimmer of life
By which they may sate their appetites.
Nothing escapes their watchful eyes.

This palace was gilded in days gone by -
Full of self-harvested treasures.
Many nourished themselves at its table,
Warmed themselves by its hearth,
Unburdened their souls in its mirth.
But those days have fled...
And it is my doing.

I welcomed counselors who, in the end,
Dealt treacherously with me.
Ravaged.  Pillaged.  Plundered.  Forsaken.
Beauty, feasting and mirth have vanished,
Displaced by darkness, hunger and silence.
The sun's rising and setting carry with them
Equal portions of dread.

As for me?  I am weak.
My vigor spent.  My spirit crushed.
I now know that it is beyond my capacity
To revive that which has been destroyed.
Another must come!  Indeed, Another must be sent!
One possessing the strength, skill and wealth
To renew this house beyond its former glory.
For this I wait.  And I wait.  And I wait.

I am the queen of an empty cave.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lies My Father Told Me: 1

As an adult, I discovered that this is a common lie...told to many children by many fathers.  That didn't ease the crushing blow I felt when I first realized it was a lie.

Remember those frequent road signs which warned you to WATCH OUT FOR FALLING ROCK?  Well, my father told me that Falling Rock was an Indian (that was in the day when we could still call them that without inciting indignation!  Ah, I sometimes long for the pre-PC days!!), who sometimes bolted unexpectedly out of the woods and jumped onto passing cars.  He may or may not be looking for a scalp or two. 

I'm curious.  How many of you heard this from your Papas?  And did you believe them?  I think I always had a slight misgiving about the veracity of his tale, but I was never quite sure.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Unmasked & Unmade

My son, Grant, was 13 when he first read Lewis' tale, Till We Have Faces...and he promptly declared it to be "the best book I've ever read!"  From a child who had already devoured Chesterton, Tolkien, Stevenson, Homer, Austen and Orwell, this was a weighty endorsement.  I knew I had to read it.  That was 3 years ago!

When I picked it up again last Friday, it marked my third attempt to engage with the story.  I've had that experience before...with rather insignificant works such as The Hobbit, Les Miserables, and The Count of Monte Cristo, all of which became favorites of mine once I finally read them!  Some books require the right frame of mind before they can be taken in.   So...once again, I started at the very beginning (a very good place to start) and this time my imagination was immediately drawn in.

However, I was continually plagued by a distinct and unsettling awareness that there was more going on than I could grasp.  I was very unsure how to rightly interpret characters and events.  "What does all this really mean?"  I feared reaching the end without understanding or resolution. 

But then...ah, then!...came Book II!  I know. I understand.  I get it. 

Once again, beyond all reason, Lewis has masterfully crafted a story which knocks a man's heart out by its transmission of profound truth - truth that cannot be sufficiently ascertained through maxims and doctrinal statements, but which pierces, penetrates and permeates the soul.

Really.  It's that good. 

Though I readily admit that this story defies explanation - it must be experienced - it won't surprise you that I will attempt to articulate a couple of its truths anyway.  Trust me when I say that the power of these truths is magnified a hundredfold by reading the story itself, and my remarks are only intended to solidify those truths in my own mind and to move you to "take up and read!"

OK...nevermind!  After laboring for several hours, I find I cannot adequately summarize the central truths of this story!  So, I'll leave it at this:

In the end, we must have our faces unveiled and be utterly exposed...before ourselves and everyone else.  We then see in our own face all the ugliness which we previously thought was around us, in everyone else, and imposed by the often-silent and uncaring Deity.  This unmasking brings to light our motives, the failure of our perceived successes, and our self-absorbed misinterpretation of our own and other's lives.  Only after we see ourselves rightly and are unmade by what we see, can we be made new and given faces that are beautiful and radiant.  From death comes true life...

That is a very weak summary, but the best I can do!  READ THE BOOK!!  You won't be sorry...promise.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wordsmith Wednesday

Root:

Gnoscere  (Gk) - to know

Derivatives:

gnosis - secret knowledge of spiritual matters

gnosticism - the belief that salvation comes through the acquisition of secret knowledge (gnostic)

agnostic - one who believes that truth cannot be known (agnosticism)

prognosticate - to make a prediction based on current knowledge (prognosis, prognosticator)

ignore - to disregard knowledge or reality

ignorant - the state of being without knowledge (ignorance, ignoramus)

Root:

Cogitare (L) - to think, know, be aware of, or identify

Derivatives:

cognizant - aware of

cognitive - a state of thinking or knowing

incognito - unknown

precognition - a knowing beforehand

recognize - to know or identify again


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Seriously Simple SINamon Rolls

Seriously Simple SINamon Rolls

6 T. butter - put in bottom of 9x13 pan then place in warm oven to melt

2-3 handfuls of brown sugar (scientific, I know!) - crumble evenly over melted butter then press with a fork until the sugar is saturated with the butter

Place 6-9 Sister Schubert's Yeast Rolls bottom-side-down on top of the sugar mixture (however many will fit)

Smear the top of each roll with softened butter...YES!  MORE butter!  Then generously sprinkle each with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar - I blend these by sight and taste, so I cannot accurately establish proportions...just do what you'd do for cinnamon toast!

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  I usually make them from the frozen state, so if you thaw yours first, you may want to check them after about 10 minutes.

These are messy, gooey, buttery, caramelly...and FABULOUS!!  And Oh, so very easy!!  

NOTE:  When I am not in a hurry, I like to boil the caramel in a saucepan first.  For those who asked...this is the way I did it for the wrestlers last weekend!

For each 9x13 pan:
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar

Melt butter, whisk in sugar, stir constantly until mixuture has boiled for 3-4 minutes.  Pour in bottom of 9x13 pan, then proceed as outlined above.


Ahi Appetizer

Pan-Seared Ahi with Mandarin-Ginger Dip

2 large ahi filets - (1-1.5 inches thick)
Coarse-ground Salt & Pepper
4T. canola oil

Coat both sides of filets with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in skillet, then sear each side of the filets (1 minute or so each side).   Remove filets from skillet and slice into 1" thick slices.  Quickly sear remaining sides of slices.  Cut into 1" cubes.  Ahi should be very red in center. 

Chill and serve with Mandarin-Ginger Dip:

1 1/2 c. sour cream
6-8 pieces mandarin orange, crushed
1-2 T. fresh diced or grated ginger
3-4 splashes fish sauce (find in the Asian food aisle)
2 T. soy sauce
3 T. Splenda

Combine all ingredients and mix until well-blended.

It's OK to serve the ahi warm, if you want or need to, but it's wonderful cold too!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Leisurely Woman's Daybook



Outside my window...so so so very COLD!!!! I'm exerting every effort to avoid stepping out the door!

From the kitchen...Too-Easy Cinnamon Rolls. Super delicious and seriously simple. Instructions to follow later this week.

Around the house...everytime I have to dust thousands of books and the shelves whereupon they reside, I covet a home library...a hermetically-sealed room...and floor-to-ceiling shelves WITH DOORS that keep out any dust particles which happen to penetrate the seal!

 

A favorite thing...this "listening" website: lastfm.com

 

I am thinking...about my dear friend, Veronica, and her 16-year-old son who just buried their husband/father today.

 

I am wearing...a tailored blouse and dress pants. Very business-like.

 

I am hearing...Eastmountainsouth. I first heard this song in the background of the movie "Lucky Number Seven" (a fun, but relatively shallow and predictable romantic comedy starring "McDreamy" and Brad Paisley's wife...I don't even remember HER name. Oops.)

I am reading...I am re-reading Harry Potter: The Philosopher's Stone and Austen's Pride & Prejudice. I am reading, for the first time, at my youngest son's recommendation, The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie.

 

I am creating...a baby blanket. After losing our baby last fall, I didn't have the heart to keep crocheting, but picked it back up this week. Maybe I'll actually finish it by the time I have a grandchild!

 

I am thankful for...butter. I mean, seriously. When's the last time you ate a truly remarkable dish in which butter was not a significant ingredient?

 

Plans for my week...I hope to head up to St. Luke's hospital this week and check out their newly-opened center for adults with Down's Sydrome. The facility was underwritten by The Pujols' Family Foundation and is designed to provide quality medical services for those who are too old to see their pediatricians. I hope to be impressed, because it really is difficult to find doctors who have a particular understanding of the challenges facing adults with Down's. I have found, with Riesa, that even something as simple as getting an x-ray can be immensely challenging - the atmosphere, setting and pace of a typical imaging lab are not at all designed to meet special needs. My experience has also been that the doctors operate within standard protocols (testing and medications) without particular consideration of the difficulties posed by Down's.

 

Not only do I hope this can be a resource for Riesa, but I'm wondering about opportunities for me to volunteer. We'll see!

A photo/video I am sharing...There simply can't be anything more beautiful than an emerald-cut diamond...well...maybe 3 emerald-cut diamonds!!