Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Headlines for Fun

Our hometown newspaper has a weekly column by Mike Morton. He has a folksy sense of humor, and if I have time, I read it.

Tonight his title was "Headlines to Make Your Head Spin". When Chuck and Tim asked why I was laughing out loud, I decided to back up and read the headlines to them. If you get the paper, read it there. Mike does some embellishing, and you might enjoy the humor.

If you don't get the paper, I'll list the headlines here. If you read them out loud late in the evening to people who are tired, the effect is probably better than in the cold morning sunshine. According to Mike, these are actual headlines.

Enraged Cow Injures Farmer With Axe

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge

Panda Mating Fails, Veterinarian Takes Over

Eye Drops Off Shelf

Helicopter Powered By Human Flies

Pope To Be Arraigned For Allegedly Burglarizing Clinic
(article about a Mr. Pope, not the Pope)

City Wants Dead to Pay For Cleanup
(about the group, The Grateful Dead)

Montana Traded To Kansas City

International Scientific Group Elects Bimbo As Its Chairman
(Mr. Bimbo?)

Storm Delays Bad Weather

Trees Can Break Wind

Missouri Woman Big Winner At Hog Contest

Study Finds Sex, Pregnancy Link

Cockroach Slain, Husband Badly Hurt

Two Sisters Reunited After Eighteen Years At Checkout Counter

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another good soup

We made our version of Italian Wedding Soup again today. Actually, I'm sure it is nothing like Italian Wedding Soup because we don't put in meatballs. We just call it that because our recipe began with a recipe for Italian wedding soup.

I wanted to try Italian wedding soup because it uses spinach. I don't have spinach, but I do have chard, and it is great in recipes that use spinach. So I started with the base for the wedding soup.

Wedding soup calls for meatballs, which I am too lazy to make, so that was my second change to the recipe. Since the soup calls for a chicken broth base, I cube a little chicken in place of the meatballs. Or when we fix a turkey, I use turkey broth and meat instead of chicken.

The original recipe calls for pasta, so I changed it again. I have access to garden potatoes from my parents, so I put in potatoes instead of pasta.

Chuck and Wes and I love it. Tim hasn't tried it yet.

Our Italian Wedding Soup
1 10 oz. package frozen spinach (We use chard, either freshly chopped from the garden, or blanched and frozen if the garden is finished producing)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
6 c. chicken or turkey stock
1/2 - 1 lb. cubed chicken or turkey
salt and pepper to taste

1. Chop frozen spinach if it isn't already chopped.
2. Saute chopped onion, celery, carrots, and garlic in olive oil.
3. Add chicken stock, cubed chicken, spinach/chard, seasonings and enough cubed potatoes to make a hearty soup, and simmer for an hour or more.
4. Serve with Parmesan cheese to sprinkle in the bowls.

Makes nearly a gallon of soup.

When potatoes are not available, pasta is also good in this soup as a filler. Orzo is particularly good, but I will use whatever is in the house. About a pound, cooked separately and then added to the soup is good.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Two and a half weeks

The other day I heard on the news that the election will be on November 4. Now I knew this. But really, until that moment, I didn't register that if we had an election, then the campaign would be over. Am I ready for the campaign to be over? Will life be the same without it? What will I do without Bush to blame?

I'm worried about what happens after the election. Even if my guy wins, the problems we have will suddenly be his problems. It will take a very short time for people to move from looking at him for answers to blaming him for not being magical. I heard someone else on the news suggest that no matter who wins, this will be a one term president. The problems are just so huge that no one can succeed, and whoever is in office will be blamed for not being able to do enough.

And if that isn't enough gloom and doom for you, I read in "The Mennonite" this week that the ice cap over the North Pole melted at a much higher rate than predicted this summer. If it continues to melt at this rate it will be gone in five years. But between the three drivers in our family, we still drove to town five times today.

I'm recycling tomorrow! (but that means driving again)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We have lit the fireplace and are enjoying the warmth. It has been such a warm fall so far that I haven't wished for a fire until now.

We still have not had a frost, but the high temps have been in the 50's and 60's. After several days of that, the house cools down. I made soup and bread and that got us an extra day without a fire.

By the way, it was amazing soup and pretty great bread too. I get in trouble at home for liking my own cooking so much. Actually, I get in trouble for saying that I like my own cooking. It is fine that I like it as long as I don't say anything about it.

I went out to the garden this afternoon to see what is left. I'm letting the long beans go in hopes of saving seed for next year. If it works out I will have way more seed than I need for myself, so if anyone wants to try it, let me know. The sweet potatoes are taking over the north end of the garden. As soon as the garden is not muddy I want to dig those so Chuck can work the garden. The chard is beautiful. It is lush and colorful,and with the cooler weather the bugs have pretty much given up on it. The flavor is mild now too.

I picked half of it today and got three dishpans full. With 2 1/2 inches of rain in the last two days the leaves were clean. After washing each leaf individually in a sink of cold water, the water was still completely clear when I finished all three dishpans full of chard.

I really don't want to become a recipe blog, but this soup recipe is so good. I got it from Cindy at church. It is rich. But it is great comfort food.

Baked Potato Soup
Warm until smooth:
2/3 c.butter
2/3 c. flour

Add gradually stirring until thickened:
7 c. milk (I use powdered milk mixed with hot water to lower the cost and speed up the heating process.)

8 large baked potatoes cooled, peeled, and chunked
4 green onions chopped
1 c. sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb. bacon fried and crumbled

Heat, either in crockpot or stirring constantly, until hot through.

Melt into soup or sprinkle on top 1 1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese.

(I didn't have green onions this week so I sauteed 1/2 onion chopped in the butter before adding the flour. It was tasty, but didn't have the pretty color that green onions would have given it.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What is adoption?

I had a mom call me today for advice about adoption. She has two sons, ages 14 and 6, and wants a daughter. Her husband sometimes seems ready to go ahead and sometimes does not. She wanted to know what to do.

She kept talking about how if she gave it up she might always resent him. Maybe that is true. But what are her options? Would she really try to go ahead against his wishes?

It was interesting timing because I have been doing a bit of writing on the message board for reactive attachment disorder families about what adoption means. I kept wondering, as I visited with this woman, what her expectations for this daughter were. Would this woman be able to adjust to a different reality than she expected? Would her husband adjust to that different reality if he felt pushed into an adoption he didn't want?

My adoption experience isn't typical. At the same time, adoption is not like giving birth to a baby. We try to pretend it is. We even insert adoptive names into birth certificates as a legal way to pretend that this child never had other parents.

When a child is born, it is born knowing the voice and smell of its mother. Even a child adopted right at birth has a loss to adjust to. And no matter how right it is that this child has a different family, the truth is still that this child has a different family than the one it expected to have.

I find it difficult to hear someone say, "I have two sons and now I want a girl so I am going to adopt one." It sounds like buying groceries. I have two bottles of cola but now I want a root beer.

It is difficult to look at objectively. For someone who really wants children and can't have them, adoption is like a second chance. It is a gift. John McCutcheon even has a song about it how this family all came together by choice and it is such a happy thing.

But as a cyber friend wrote on the message board, "Adoption is built on the pillars of loss." My boys needed a family. We became that family. But what they really wanted was to not need a family, to not be somehow rejected or given up. I know they are glad they have us. I am glad I have them. But it isn't the picture that I have when I think of what the woman on the telephone was talking about today.

One of my sons plans to change his name back to his birth name. I have come to understand that this is not a rejection of us. It is a way to tell the truth. He is saying that he is that person. He is saying that he wants me to love him as that person. He is saying that as that person, he loves me. He is saying that he doesn't want to deal with pretending that he came from my womb, and that he doesn't need to do that in order to be part of my family (whatever 'family' means). Maybe he is also asking me if I can still love him even if he isn't 'mine', if there is nothing about him that even sounds like 'mine'.

So anyway, as usual, there are many things to think about.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Debates, Faith

The debates are currently on my TV. I'm really into this presidential race. I care what is going to happen. But I can't watch the debates tonight.

It gets me too frustrated.

I already know how I'm going to vote, and the tension about who is doing best at presenting their parts is too much tension for me. Is my candidate representing himself accurately? Are people tempted to believe the lies that the other candidate is telling about my candidate? Is getting the last word equivalent to winning the points in the debate? AAAaaaahhhhh!

On another note,
I wrote recently about having questions regarding faith. Last week my devotions brought me to Psalms 88 and 89. These are the words of someone crying out, "Why?" and "How long?"

Psalm 88 even goes so far as to demand God's help soon. The psalmist asks God if the dead can feel God's love and faithfulness. I think what he is saying is "Do something now! It won't be any good if you wait until after we are dead!" This is the part I wonder about so often.

The descendants of Jacob were in Egypt 400 years. Yes, God heard their cries and rescued them. But in 400 years, a lot of cries were silenced before the rescue.

The people in the crossfire in Iraq, the children kidnapped to be soldiers in Africa, the refugees in Sudan, the sex slaves all over the many of their cries will be answered after they are already silent?

Again, I affirm that I believe in the goodness and justice of God. I also believe in honesty about my questions for God. And I believe that I can't see all that I need to see in order to know the answers to my questions.

If it is in the Bible, it must be OK for me to ask as well.

Monday, October 06, 2008


We were in court today in Wichita. It was an interesting experience.

Everyone on the morning docket is to show up at 9:30 am. The courtroom is small and crowded with people standing in the aisles waiting. Only a few of those there for hearings have support people with them. Most are attending alone.

The front of the courtroom is filled with lawyers. There must have been fifteen or more of them.

The group is asked to rise and the judge enters and asks us to again be seated. Then it begins.

The judge reads the first name on the docket. A lawyer says one of three or four things:

"2nd call"
This means "I haven't met my client yet and need a minute to speak with him/her so that I can represent him/her." OR "My client hasn't shown up yet, call our names your second time through the list."

This means that the client wants to waive their right to a jury trial and have their case heard by a judge. In this case the judge would speak directly to the client, asking if they understood the implications of that decision. The client would affirm that they did. The judge would name the date of the hearing and the judge who would hear it.

This means that the client wanted to accept a plea (I think). The judge would then name a date for the plea hearing.

"Continue to _______"
This means that the lawyer is asking to delay the hearing to a future date. The judge always agreed to do this.

We were there for our son's hearing. Before our son had even arrived his case was called. A lawyer stood up and said "10/17". The judge nodded. Then they continued through the entire docket, setting future dates for everyone in the room as far as I could tell.

They finished the first time through the list and went to 'second call' which took less time. At the end of that, most of the people in the courtroom left.

Later we found out that '10/17' was an abbreviation for 'continue to October 17'. The lawyer who requested this was not our son's lawyer. That person never entered the courtroom this morning and never sent any explanation to our son. Maybe he was sick. Maybe he had a sick child. But his client won't know why he wasn't there.

The point is, a whole courtroom full of defendants took off from work to show up in court and be told to take off work another day. There is probably some logical explanation for this, but it looks pretty discriminatory to an outsider.

In that group of defendants there was only one who was dressed in khaki pants and a nice shirt. There were none in suits. All of the others looked as though they were lower income people.

So all these people who can't afford to lose a day of work have taken off only to be told to come back another day. Which takes on another shade of intensity when I add in that this is the second time my son's case has been continued. This already happened the first time last month. How many days off work does it take before the hearing for a lower class offender actually gets heard.

When Chuck and I were talking about this in the car, he suggested that the reason may be that public defenders are so overworked that they can't adequately represent their clients. If they haven't had a chance to meet with their client they may be allowed easy continuances in order to fairly represent them.

It's a guess. I'm sure there is some reason.

But as I said, to an outsider it looks like things could be done better.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Late Birthday pictures

These pics were taken at my birthday celebration nearly a month ago. We'd never taken any four generation pics with my family yet. This is Laura, Mom, Dad, and me with Luke.


Then we took some with just the great-grandparents and the baby. What fun!

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Today we celebrated Chuck's Mom's birthday with a soup and bread meal. It was a nice evening filled with chatter and laughter and great soups and breads, with an excellent chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert. There were 34 of us around the tables, including four guests. Still, there were fourteen of us missing. Wow.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

One more class reunion

As part of the graduating class of 1978, I attended my 30 year college class reunion today. It was low key. No fancy dinners. No power point presentation. Just lemonade, coffee, good conversation, and an opportunity to donate to our class endowment fund.

After the reunion a classmate came to me and said something about having wanted to applaud when I said that we had raised four birth kids and three adopted kids. Several others commented about it to me as well. It seems to mean more to the college reunion crowd than it did to the high school reunion crowd. Interesting.

Before the reunion I took Tim to Youth Symphony and continued to learn the new accounting program. I'm liking it pretty much and it will save me from regular deposits into the Quicken bank account. There are some major things about it that are better than Quicken and will make my work with our records a lot easier.

I still have a couple of things to master, but it shouldn't take much longer.

Friday, October 03, 2008


I'm sitting up---still---reading tutorials of new money management software and listening to my newly organized playlist on my mp3 player. Ahhh, technology.

But I'm very proud of myself. I could not find the help screen for one of the programs. I went to "the synaptic package manager" to try to find a 'help' package to install on my computer. I could not find one that looked right.

So, all by myself, I went on line to the kmymoney web site and found the questions search page. I looked up questions about not being able to access a help screen. There was a question there that gave instruction for entering a command prompt, which I did, and which did not work.

But wait, I'm not done yet. I went back to the kmymoney site and kept looking. Sure enough I found another question. Someone else had entered the same text on the command prompt and had the same results as me BECAUSE the earlier instructions had left out one letter that needed to be typed in the command prompt.

I went back to the command prompt and typed the text in the correct version of the text. Things began to happen right in front of my eyes. And now I have a help tutorial for Kmymoney.


Now it is time to go to bed.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Chicken or the Egg

If I'm not getting everything done, does that mean I need to choose some things to give up, or does that mean that I have already chosen some things to give up?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What I did today...

It has been a long busy day and it's time to go to bed, so this is going to be one of those blogs you aren't supposed to write.

This is what I did today:
Worked two bushels of apples
Worked on organizing music files on my computer and on my mp3 player.
Took kids to Wednesday night church.
Ran three errands.

The apples took a lot of time, but once all the pots were full and beginning to heat up, I worked on the mp3 player. Because I'm still figuring out the ways to organize the music and add it so that it isn't too hard to find it later, it takes me a long time.

I learned through mistakes how to schedule podcast downloads that happen regularly from our three favorite weekly radio shows: This American Life, Car Talk, and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, all from NPR.

I also learned from mistakes several different ways to load music to the player and set up playlists. Learning from mistakes takes so long. Having an mp3 player seemed like an easy way to get music that I can take with me. But like anything else, the benefits are balanced out by the amount of time it takes to learn how to use it.

Foreign Policy

I'm gettng facebook friend requests from Chuck's high school classmates. What a kick. I'm accepting, but of course, I probably still will not be checking or updating my facebook much. It's hard enough to get here and update this regularly.

But one of the home pages brought me some laughs. A classmate of Chuck's has joined the "I have more Foreign Policy Experience than Sarah Palin" group. I think I do too!

Didn't she get her first passport just a year ago? I got mine ten years ago. Has she ever been on another continent? I have once. Didn't speak with any leaders, but also didn't assume I had foreign policy experience just because I was in the same city with the President of Paraguay!