Friday, January 28, 2011

Remembering the Challenger Astronauts

Twenty-five years ago today we watched and listened in shock and horror as the astronauts of the Challenger traveled to worlds far beyond their expected destination. We honor their memory today.

Memorial located in Arlington National Cemetery
(Photo taken by author in June 2010)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Moment In Time

Here is a picture taken exactly one year ago today.

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The pictures posted here were also taken that same day even though they were not uploaded until a couple of days later. I remember being shocked upon our return home that little Fen had learned to crawl during that week that we were away. Now he runs circles around us all!

Ah! The memories!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Our Private Retreat

Pastor Dad and I felt the need to get away for a little quiet time this weekend. That old adage "if you don't come apart you'll come apart" was ringing in our ears.

Therefore, since Pastor Dad was scheduled to preach at a friend's church in Indiana this past Sunday he decided to leave a day early and stay at the inn at Clifty Falls in Madison, Indiana. I'm so glad he invited me to go along for this day of rest. :)

There are 4 falls in Clifty Falls State Park but we saw none of them. The deep snow that blanketed our own home on the High Hill last week also hit Madison, Indiana and closed most of the roads inside the park. As much as I enjoy seeing beautiful waterfalls, it wasn't necessary in order to experience the serenity of our little private retreat. Besides, in order to see the falls one must hike great distances through rugged terrain and park signs proclaim that any limbs that fall to the ground should be left there to become part of the humus. That's fine as long as we're just talking about trees!

So instead of taking pictures of waterfalls I took pictures of the scenery as seen from inside the inn:

We did take one short hike from the inn to an observation tower less than half mile away. I took a picture of Pastor Dad standing at the top:

And he took one of me:

Near the inn we encountered another bright couple out enjoying the sunshine:

As we were leaving the park we saw "mini falls" on the cliffs over the roadway. Even though they aren't the ones for which the park is named, they presented themselves as a worthy substitute. And as such they seemed to bid us a hearty, "Thanks for coming! We hope you enjoyed your stay with us!"

We surely did!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Providence 365 - Week 3

The verses given as the project challenge this week seemed perfect for showcasing more pictures of my trip to visit my daughter last month. Lisa and I spent a few hours on the Sunday afternoon of my visit hiking and climbing on the rocks at Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas, Nevada. Seeing pictures from my recent travels reminded me that the various terrains and biospheres contained within the continental United States are testimony of the greatness of our God!

If the assignment required that we do layouts using only pictures taken this week there wouldn't be anything to show except more pictures of snow here in the Midwest. But even reading the book of Job recently has shown me that God's handiwork is in the snow as well. (Job 37:6; 38:22)

For this page I used paper courtesy of Designs by Angel from the "A Mother's Blessing" kit. The name seemed serendipitous when used to display pictures of a mother visiting her daughter. :) I didn't use any elements because I didn't want anything to detract from the natural beauty of God's creation.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Peanut Butter As Gum Remover

I had an opportunity today to put peanut butter to work removing chewing gum. Someone left gum in the pocket of blue jeans and it was subsequently washed and dried. Bright green gum.  Not that the color itself matters, but the fact that it was spread all over the inside of my dryer did matter.

A check of the Internet revealed no tips that seemed appropriate or timely. The whole dryer was streaked by what had obviously been almost a completely new pack of the mint-smelling stuff and there was a load of clothes needing to go into the dryer quickly.

Utilizing the knowledge that peanut butter removes chewing gum from hair (another one of those tips that was learned through experience) I decided to see if it would work inside the dryer. I spooned the substance onto a dryer sheet and began to scrub. The peanut butter softened the hardened gum and the dryer sheet provided a safe abrasive. Once the gum was totally removed I took damp rags soaked with a mild cleanser and washed the drum and the door. The laundry routine then continued uninterrupted.

It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. Most probably she is also the mother of children who chew gum.

If you happen upon us in the next few days and think you detect a slight whiff of peanut butter you will now know why.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Not An Ordinary Sunday

It was an unusual day today. "Unusual" for a couple of reasons.

First, Pastor Dad got a nosebleed. And I don't mean just a small one either. He doesn't have them very often so the fact that he had one at all would qualify for such designation, but it was . . . well, . . . I'll spare you the details.

Anyway, we have a Sunday morning routine that we've modified lately so that Pastor Dad can return to the house to pick up the Bear and me after his early morning run to the church. Soon after his arrival this morning the nosebleed commenced and refused to quit. Once it became obvious that Pastor Dad wasn't going to make it to Sunday School I hurriedly drove The Bear there so that he could lead our class in, oh, I don't know . . . prayer, quietly singing "Kum Ba Yah," or something appropriate. Then I returned home even more hurriedly because this nosebleed stuff is uncharted territory for Pastor Dad. The Bear and I? Not so much. We get 'em often. We . . . well, once again, I'll spare you the details.

The next unusual thing happened when I got home. The hemorrhage was pretty much over and an ashen Pastor Dad was sitting in my rocking chair in the living room. "I see your big woodpecker in that tree across the street," he said.

"Which tree?" I asked, thinking that it was good that he was talking and also thinking that it must be the biggest bird from my photos that he was talking about. The only thing I was trying to figure out was how he could see the bird from that distance. The one I photographed looks large close up but it wouldn't be that noticable from such range.

"That tree," he said pointing at a large, stately growth located in our across-the-street neighbor's yard. "If you look quickly I think you'll see him."

Well, I looked quickly but I didn't see anything but the tree. As if I wasn't worried enough about my husband's physical health I was now worried about my husbands -- oh, never mind! I don't want to say things I'll regret. But I wasn't sure how much blood he'd lost and it wouldn't be the first time I'd questioned his sanity. I'm kidding!!!!

Anyway, to get on with the story.

"Did you see that woodpecker that I worked so hard to photograph a few weeks ago?" I questioned.

"No. That wasn't him."

This answer caused me to walk into the kitchen for my Peterson's Field Guide to Birds so that he could show me a picture of just exactly what he'd seen. I never made it to the book. There on the deck railing was a gorgeous pileated woodpecker! Unfortunately, this unusual bird flew away before I could take his picture.

If you've never seen one of these majestic birds go here and take a look at those photographed by someone who has had more success than I. We've had pileated woodpeckers visit us before but it has been over 4 years since the last one was sighted here. I truly hope that their visits will happen often enough now not to be considered all that unusual.

(I used paper and elements from Vicky Day of Today's Scrap kit "Winter Wonders")

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Providence 365 Project, Week 2

This is my second week to do a digital scrapbook page, the third if you count the cover.  Before anyone says something, yes, I know there is an error.  I'm going to blame it on the fact that even though I'm better, I'm not completely recuperated.  Yeah, that's it!  I'm not completely recuperated.    Because of course, we all know that if I was completely recuperated I would never have made an error like this one.  Or at the very least I would have had enough energy to just start the whole project over again.  :)

Anyway, I began a list earlier in the week of just how much thought I've given to these verses this week.  You can find that post here

The background paper, frame, and elements are all courtesy of my friend Vicky Day's of Today's Scrap Winter Wonders kit.  The verse was supplied to us.

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Reminder, A Ministry, and A Children's Book Giveaway

A reminder: Exactly one month from today is Valentine's Day. Some of you - mostly males - might need this wake-up call. You're welcome.  :)

A ministry: I haven't posted a Ministry MATTERS post for a few months but if I had, Voice of the Martyrs just might be one of those highlighted. You may send them a donation if you feel so inclined but no comments are necessary, no strings are attached, and no prizes will be given for your donations.

A children's book giveaway: On the other hand, I do have a children's book to give away entitled The Story of St. Valentine, More than Cards and Candied Hearts written by The Voice of the Martyrs with Cheryl Odden and illustrated by R.F. Palavicini. I found this to be a fascinating account of the young man who defied the Roman emperor Claudius to worship God by upholding the sanctity of marriage. (Whoa! Does that sound like a modern issue or what?) The only thing some (including me) might take issue with is the statement that the "church" declared February 14th a day to celebrate Valentine in order to replace the celebration of the Roman goddess, Juno. But there are many words on my calendar that are directly influenced by the Greeks, Romans, and their immediate successor, the Roman Catholic Church, that I must of necessity use daily so I take it in stride. Parent who disagree with an author's point-of-view should use such opportunities to appropriately educate their children. We're Americans and we still have the right to do that by sharing our faith with our children and other people.

The tale ends with a quick vignette of a modern Vietnamese woman who has been arrested many times for her faith. The subtle point of this transition is to introduce American children to the fact that even today not all the world has the right to openly worship Jesus or share their faith with others.

The book is beautifully illustrated using vivid colors as vibrant as the blood-red hue that we normally associate with the day itself. (I laid the book on a red cloth for the photograph just so you could make the comparison yourself.) They are bold which makes them worthy of the actions of the book's hero.

Here are the rules to participate in the drawing:
  • Leave a "legitimate" comment - multiple entries allowed but with a limit of 1 per day, please - stating you wish to be entered in the drawing. (Comments that activate the spam filter will not be entered and are an example of an "illegitimate" comment.)
  • Tell about this giveaway at your own blog or website and leave me a comment stating the proper URL (of your specific blog post, not your blog address).
  • Contest ends at midnight EST on January 31, 2011 and the name will be randomly selected and announced on February 1st. Winner has until midnight EST February 5th to make contact.
  • Book will be mailed to winner in a timely fashion.

Let the countdown to Valentine's Day begin!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Who's An Animal? Pepper or Me?

It isn't that things are so slow around here that there's nothing else to blog about other than our dog, but then again, you must realize that I've been ill this week, we've been somewhat house-bound due to the snow, and I've spent a lot of time on the couch with the dog draped around my neck. Yes, literally. As long as my head and her body stay "just so" on the arm of the couch the situation is tolerable.

It obviously isn't her color that caused anyone to associate the name Pepper with our dog when we first adopted her from the shelter. It comes from the fact that she has lots of pep. "Lots" is an understatement. This dog should be on meds for ADHD. Due to her abundant energy there are times when situations are not quite so tolerable.

In the ten minutes or so that it took me to put together last night's post about her being a cross between a chocolate lab and a meth lab she destroyed 1 empty Amazon book box (the books were rescued), the bottom of my woven laundry hamper (if only this meant the end of doing laundry), and 2 or 3& empty food product boxes (the person responsible for taking out the trash was then told to get the job done pronto!). In other words, it took me longer to clean up after the dog than it did to write about her. Forget that post! She's not part meth lab. This dog is a cross between a labrador retriever and tasmanian devil!

After my exertion I sat on the couch to read. It wasn't long before the dog was on my lap. Really. All 55 pounds of her sitting squarely upright on my lap. This was quite a hindrance to reading so I moved her aside. This resulted in a pinching sensation. It was Pepper's teeth nipping at my arm in the manner that a human would use to devour an ear of corn: nibble, move, nibble, move; back and forth and up and down. It dawned on me that she thought my sweater-covered appendage was a stuffed animal. All such prized toys were moved long ago into protective custody, but once in awhile Pepper will go on a seek-and-destroy mission as though under contract by the mafia. Great wads of quilt batting or plastic pellets will be found on the floor to signal their demise. Sometimes there isn't much left to make a positive identification of the victim. Have you ever had to clean up the innards of a decimated Beanie Baby? It's a gruesome task and one I loathe, almost as bad as contacting the owner of the keepsake with the bad news.

The reason for her obsession with these playthings is not clear. We buy her toys of her own. Unfortunately, most of them come with at least one and sometimes two squeakers sewn into them. Pepper is also obsessed by these squeakers. She either produces the sound non-stop or removes the offending squeakers post-haste. I'm not sure which I find more annoying, the relentless repetitive noise made by a toy void of removable batteries or the destruction of a brand new purchase for which I've just laid out hard-earned cash.

I figured out last night that this was what the dog was doing as she nibbled her way methodically up and down my arm. She was looking for a squeaker. And she found it! I finally managed to escape to another room where I could put a closed door between us.

I pondered on what it was that made her compare my arm with a stuffed animal. It was probably the sweater I was wearing. This also explains the recent attacks when I've been wearing my fleecy bathrobe.

Since such clothing are standard cold-weather garb around here it's going to be a long winter! Most just hope to survive the season of cold and snow. I have the added worry of being chewed by a dog that mistakes me for stuffed animals. Somewhere out there are 6 other families who own Pepper's litter-mates. I'm thinking of asking the puppy rescue place for their names and numbers. Maybe they'd be interested forming a support group.

(The events told here are true but the telling of them are in jest. No people or animals are in any danger of being seriously harmed. Yet.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pepper's Heritage Explained

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Isn't that puppy cute?  Yes, that's a baby picture of our own Pepper soon after we'd brought her home from the rescue center in April 2007.  The folks that ran the facility told us that she was a chocolate lab mix but they didn't know exactly mixed with what.  Her parentage has been somewhat of a mystery to us, too, until we started investigating the dog's genealogy.  (Yeah, we're really into family history around here.)

Anyway, I found a link that shows Pepper's family tree here.  The pictures of the two dogs on the bottom are her mother and father.

Go ahead and take a look.  I'll wait for you to return.

Are you back?  Explains a lot, doesn't it?!  Uh-huh.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Page Added

I'm always making lists. And I'm always losing lists that are written on paper.

Sometimes I neglect to write everything on the list as I think was the case of my book list of 2010. I just can't believe that I didn't read even one book from the end of June until the beginning of October! I'm willing to concede that I didn't read much over the summer since there are all of the church related events like Vacation Bible School, camp, and other activities added to the back-to-school planning that take up the time, but reading no books seems a bit extreme.

Therefore, I have made one of my blog pages to be where I keep my lists. There's even a list of the genealogy lines or persons that I'm currently researching. This will be updated to reflect any changes.

Check it out if you want to know what I'm reading, writing, and researching. Its the page called "The List of My Lists" and for good reason.

Who Reads This Stuff?

Evidently more people than I first thought.

When a person (specifically, me) writes a blog post it seems so private, like say, to be kept among family and friends. Actually blogging is so out there. Certain phrases or key words catch someone's attention whether it be within the body of a blog post or in the author's profile.

I say this as a warning to watch what I say. As if the pictures of my followers - most of whom I don't know - don't prove the openness of this medium then recent comments and emails do.

There are those who responded to something from my genealogy posts because they recognized a highlighted name or other detail. If the post was about one of my own ancestors I replied and signed my real name to facilitate the sharing of our mutual research goals. (Side note: There is nothing special about the anonymity of this blog. Anyone who knows me, knows me and anyone who doesn't gets weeded out in a hurry when they send me requests to join Facebook that say "Hi Karabeth!Remember me? I sat next to you in high school English! Join Facebook and be my friend." Um, give me a break! Bill Murray used that line in the movie Groundhog Day in order to seduce one of the Punxsutawney women. There is more than enough information included here to expose my identity, but some anonymity has helped to keep a few weirdos at bay. PS.  Sorry Punxsutawney for the misspelling in the original of this post.)

There are those who contacted me after I mentioned I'd read certain books. That has happened a couple of times in the last week thanks to my list from 2010. Who knew that the authors and their agents kept such close tabs on things? It makes sense, though, doesn't it? As Dan Miller said in his book, marketing the product could be the difference between success and failure. Okay, I'm paraphrasing. And Dan Miller isn't one of the authors that contacted me, but if he sees this and wants to confirm or deny my paraphrase he's more than welcome to do so.

There are those whose digital designs I've used (in the whole 2 weeks I've been digitally scrapbooking here) that have thanked me for using their products. Okay, one is my friend, Vicky, but truly, it was unexpected to receive a word from Kim telling me that she liked how I'd used her items to make my Family of Faith page.

There were several unknown individuals who contacted me requesting the Bible reading schedule in file format. I suspect now that there were more who followed last year's schedule than I originally suspected. I thank you for your encouragement, both in using the schedule and in helping to keep me on track. Yes, I need the accountability, too. Aren't Christians supposed to encourage each other to good works? Hmm. I think I read that somewhere. :) (cf. Hebrews 10:24)

I've also received offers from educational software and curriculum developers that want me to try their products and write a review. So far, I have not taken advantage of these offers and the blog has remained non-monetized. However, I wouldn't be adverse to trying a product and writing a review if it actually fit my focus group. The days of spelling, learning to read, math manipulatives and other early-to-mid childhood education topics are long over in this homeschool. {sob}

What I need are programs that teach
  • Physics,
  • Calculus, and
  • Spanish.
So if you have developed quality products for homeschooled high school students that you wish me to review, then we just might be able work out a mutually beneficial arrangement because evidently there are more people who come across this blog than we might think.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Picture This

The verses for this week's Providence 365 project are I Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, in every thing give thanks . . ." I hope that I'll be able to adequately represent them Saturday in pictures on a digital page. In the meantime, I've been considering a few things that have happened in the last couple of days that would fit these verses but probably won't be included in any photo collages any time soon.

Picture attending a baby shower that the mommy-to-be didn't due to pregnancy complications. This was originally scheduled a month ago and it became clear that if it was to proceed at all it would need to be without the honoree. But the fact that one month later the baby is still where he needs to be is cause for rejoicing!

Picture coming home last night to an email that one of the families in the homeschool co-op won't be there today because their house just burned to the ground! Rejoice that the whole family made it out safely. No, really rejoice!

Picture being awakened by the alarm and realizing that a fitful night of sleep was caused by a sick headache. Imagine having to teach an Ohio History class in less than 2 hours. Okay, I know you'll find this cause for rejoicing hard to believe coming from me, but here goes. Imagine being really thankful for a son with a learner's permit that can drive himself and his mother to co-op! (And imagine how thankful she was to awake and find she'd slept through his merge onto the freeway!  Just kidding. I was awake enough to talk him through it. And sedated just enough not to yell so I guess that makes two people in that car who were rejoicing.)

Okay, you've stuck with me so far so let's try one more. Picture that the "post-headache energy drain" leaves the impression of midnight instead of early afternoon of a basketball practice day. Then rejoice to find that practice is cancelled for the day!

And as a corollary to the above, picture that the "blah" feeling requires a cup of hot tea with lemon, honey, and Pepper. (The lemon and honey go in the tea. Pepper is the dog who hinders the drinking of same.) And there is rejoicing because no matter what the fashion police say comfy sweat pants and stained sweatshirt, which are now draped by the 55 lb. dog who decides she'd make a lovely living fur stole draped around the neck, didn't get thrown away after all!

It's all stuff worthy of thanks and rejoicing.  A little weird maybe, but part of the "in every thing" that God has brought our direction in the past few days. And this is only Monday!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Perspective on Genealogy

This isn't a genealogy blog. It will never be a genealogy blog. But it is a whatever-is-important-to-me-at-the moment kind of blog. It's just that genealogy has been on my mind lately. So why, you may ask (or you may not, but we'll pretend you might) do I do genealogy?

It's a spiritual thing.

No, really it is. And I'm not some transcendental seeker that believes we're all part of the interconnected cosmos, if indeed, that is what they believe.

But it is a spiritual thing. And here's why:
  • I believe that each person is one of God's special creations. As such, each one of my ancestors is not just a name but a real person who walked upon this earth but still lives somewhere in eternity with God or apart from Him.
  • I believe that "love never fails" according to I Corinthians 13. I know that my love for the family members I knew who have departed this life has not failed and I want to help keep memories of them alive. I know that they loved the generations preceding them, too. For instance, I still love my grandparents (and the great-grandparent that I was privileged to know). They likewise loved their grandparents and other family members that died long before I was born. I use my genealogy research to get to know the people who are loved by the people that I love.
  • I believe that sharing the things I've learned has given me even more people to love. And here I mean living people, not the dearly departed, although some of them have departed since I began researching. I'm thinking of the bonds I've forged with members of my parents' and grandparents' generations. As hard as it might be to believe, up until a couple of years ago I heard regularly from my grandpa's double-first cousin. I'm assuming that she has passed on now since she was 102 years old the last time I had a note or phone call from her. I also loved talking to my grandma's sisters, one of whom was older than my grandma and lived to be almost 100 herself. And making connections with second and third cousins who also like to pursue our mutual ancestry has made for enjoyable fellowship.
  • I believe it has the potential to heal wounds and mend broken hearts. At the very least, it has the potential to put an end to questions like "I wonder what ever happened to so-and-so?" In our family, it was my mother's cousin who disappeared when they were all young children due to a nasty divorce. We were delighted when his daughter contacted me after seeing familiar names on Rootsweb several years ago! Another could be, "Where is so-and-so buried?" That one was resolved by finding my dad's grandmother's grave so that he could visit it during one of his infrequent trips to the west coast.
It is truly a very spiritual journey for me to do genealogy research. Like we do, our ancestors had the desire to be recognized and respected, revered and remembered. God longed to have a relationship with them and so do I even if it means in the limited way that comes by meticulously piecing together the details of their lives and histories.

I learn things from my discoveries. As the Bible says in Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun.

Providence 365: Week 1

The verse this week to highlight was taken from Ephesians 1:11. I chose to do a brief family tree to show that I am thankful to have a heritage of faith that has been passed down from generation to generation. I pray it never ends until the Lord returns.

All of the elements on this page are courtesy of kimerickreations except for the verse which is courtesy of Precepts and Promises for the Providence 365 project.

The photos are of my family: one each of my grandparents in the 1920s and one of my parents and their descendants taken in 2005 in honor of their 50th wedding anniversary. Since that time, one more granddaughter has married and three new great-grandbabies have been added to their family tree.

Friday, January 7, 2011

More On the DNA Study

I'm confused!

I know that isn't an uncommon occurrence but I'm really confused now.  Why do people participate in DNA studies if they don't want to find matches?  Isn't that the whole point in participating?

This is the second - no, third - time I've gotten the brush-off from someone who participated in the DNA study.  Two participants basically sent me "Dear John" letters stating that they don't want to be bothered, that they aren't interested in genealogy thankyouverymuch, and could I please just go pester someone else for awhile?  O-k-a-a-a-y.  

And the third person?  Oh, that person never answered my query in the first place which told me right off the bat that he wasn't interested in trying to find answers to our shared heritage.  Again, why bother participating?

I'm not complaining about  Really I'm not.  I am, however, complaining about people who seem to think this is some kind of a joke to participate in the DNA studies and then refuse to cooperate with others who match.  You did know that is a genealogy service, right?

Let's get some things straight.   It cost money to do genealogy research.  I'm not a professional.  I've said on this blog that I'd be willing to pick things up in downtown Cincinnati for a few bucks, but let's be honest, I'm going downtown whether anyone hires me or not so my offer does little more than ask for help paying for the gas, parking fees (!!!!), and copy costs if you need something while I'm there.  I'm a hobbyist, but I do take my hobby pretty seriously.  (Golfers, bowlers, or crafters need not judge.) does cost money, potentially, lots of money.  DNA tests cost money, not fortunes, but not cheap either.  Some of us are female and can't even take the DNA test so we talk a male relative into taking the test for us.   We submit our kit and we wait to find matches.  AND WE'RE ELATED WHEN WE FIND THEM!

In both cases where our DNA matched another submission (and I got a response), I found out that the participant didn't have any genealogy information, didn't have anyone in the family who did genealogy, and wasn't the least bit interested in sharing notes with people who match.   Neither case was an adoption (and if it was wouldn't they be interested in hearing from a match?), and both seemed to have no clue as to how they could have blood relatives in the United States.  Well, a perfunctory knowledge of history would tell you that anyone whose paternal line is not Native American must have ancestry that goes back to Europe, Africa, or Asia within a couple of hundred years -which is not that many generations, by the way - so it isn't at all unusual that we should have common DNA with people on other continents.  Negotiations don't get far enough for me to explain this. provides a service for genealogists, including DNA testing.  One of the reasons they do this is to make money by making records and other researchers available.  Customers pay the fees to access those records and to make connections with other family researchers.  Participants should not be shocked when someone contacts them requesting more information.

I have to admit that I'm not very impressed with these "cousins" of mine.  And cousins they are.  The DNA says so.  It's true that you can choose your friends but not your family.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Books of 2010

Unlike my daughter, Karen of Candid Diversions, I am not capable of reading a couple of dozen books each month. I am capable, however, of reading that many in a year as long as I'm allowed to cheat a bit and count audiobooks. I hope it's allowed because I'm about to do it. If there are rules to be followed you can send them to me later and I might follow them in this coming year. Or I might ignore them completely. Whatever. I'm contrary that way.

So, without further ado, here are the two dozen+ books that I read last year.

  1. The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner. This book was one that was recommended by She Reads (found here and here).  If you aren't familiar with "She Reads" you really should get to know this branch of Proverbs 31 Ministries. The selections of Christian fiction that they highlight are usually several notches above most of the genre. Let's just say that before I discovered them I pretty much stopped reading Christian fiction because I care little for glaring romance novels (Christian or not) and have not developed an obsession with the Amish. Anyway, this book was well written and dealt with a period of history that I find fascinating: the Salem Witch trials. That's probably because I descend from someone who was hanged during that period of US History(Ann Pudeator - you knew I would find some way of working genealogy into this discussion didn't you?) so I found the story of a modern woman seeking information about an accused girl to be excellent reading. I read this book in January.
  2. Daisy Chain by Mary E. Demuth. Another She Reads pick. This is the first of a trilogy about Defiance, TX and I must confess that I haven't attempted to find out if the other two books have been published. I'm not sure whether that reflects bad on me or the story but I never took the time to complete the saga. I read this book while in Texas in January.
  3. Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent. Another She Reads pick. Are you noticing a pattern here? I read this book in January and enjoyed it so much that I read the follow-up in February called
  4. Cottonwood Whispers by Jennifer Erin Valent. These books are about the friendship of two young ladies. The setting is the American south in the 1930s. One girl is white and the other is black. That should give you some idea of the tensions and prejudices encountered.  I read both books and I recommend them.
  5. Lady Susan by Jane Austen. Another She -- ha! ha! Just checking to see if you're still paying attention. This was the firsr audiobook that I downloaded onto my then-new iPod. I found that by doing this I could "read" a book and go about my housekeeping duties at the same time! What a great idea! And yes, I enjoy a good Austen book as much as the next guy -er- girl.
  6. Talking to the Dead by Bonnie Grove. Another She Reads pick for real. An excellent read and one that I didn't have figured out early in the novel. Can I hear a round of applause for that? Okay, I'm giving it one. I read this in February.
  7. Silks by Dick and Felix Francis. This was my second audiobook download and I think I got it from the Ohio ebook project. I used to love reading a good Dick Francis novel years ago. Um, I think I liked the book but I really can't say because I remember very little about it. Maybe I was doing too much housekeeping and not enough paying attention. I'm not sure. Or maybe my love of horses isn't what it used to be.  That's probably it. I read (heard?) this in March.
  8. Flat Belly Diet by Prevention Magazine. You've probably heard about this book/diet and the MUFA plan of eating. I read it because I wanted to know what constituted a MUFA (monounsaturated fat). I think it helped me eat better, which was the main purpose of reading the book.
  9. The Blood Pressure Cure by Robert Kowalski. Three guess why I was reading this book. Forget the guesses. I did a post on this back in May 2010 here so go check out some of the things I had to say and then check out the book if you are so inclined. I have been using some of the suggestions successfully ever since.
  10. Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts. I like history. I like biographies. I like reading excerpts of letters, diaries, and journals. Does that make me nosy? Don't say it! I already know the answer. However, I loved reading about the women who helped give birth to America and prefer to think of my nosiness as liking to read primary source material.
  11. Victory in the Storm by Sandra Hastings. Sandy is a missionary wife of my acquaintance and her self-published title tells of her battle with depression and the scriptures that helped her fight it. She blogs here at "More Than Survival."
  12. The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson. My third audiobook. Okay, this is a kid's classic, but I enjoyed it, too.
  13. The Dogs Who Found Me by Ken Foster.  My fourth audiobook. Mr. Foster has a knack for finding dogs although by the title you can see that he thinks the dogs find him. Yeah, probably like the herd of cats that have found my parents' back door recently. Anyway, I applaud his rescuing efforts, having rescued ol' Pepper from the pound a few years back ourselves. Mr. Foster's rescues are more along the line of taking in homeless and stray dogs after natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Very inspiring and humorous at the same time.
  14. The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent. Not only is this a book about another person accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch trials, but this book is written about a real person by one of her descendants. This story was handed down as family legend and enough documentation survives to back it up. Good reading! I read this book in April.
  15. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. This was my fifth audiobook. It's Austen. It's good. Need I say more?
  16. Facts the Historians Leave Out by John S. Tilley. The subtitle is "A Confederate Primer." Okay, deep breath here. I'm the product of both the north and the south and pretty much thrilled that a cease-fire was called long before my birth. This book troubled me deeply an inspired some interesting dinnertable discussions since the Bear read it, too. Some of the "facts" were southern propaganda, which was exactly the kind of thing the author condemned as coming out of the north. Call me a fence-straddler if you must, but as much as I am in favor of States' rights I also am mighty glad that the Union was preserved! There really are no easy answers, are there?
  17. Scared by Tom Davis. This was another She Reads selection and it was excellent. I read it in the car on the way home from Texas in April which was the only sensible thing to do since the air conditioning chose to go out in our car and I was sweltering. Reading about Africa just seemed to help set the mood. Good book. Read it!And then order coffee from the author's endeavor to help in humanitarian efforts.
  18. Brisingr by Christopher Paolini. AWWWWWWWW! (Imagine me screaming here.) I took the whole month of May to listen to this, my sixth audiobook and I can't remember much of anything about it! I even read along at times just so I would remember the story. I remember enough to say I've had about enough of the Eragon story and just want it to end already. I liked the audiobook because it pronounced those difficult names. One note of humor: at the end of the audiobook is an interview between the author and his editor and she (the editor) mispronounces one of the names and he (the author) corrects her. Okay, does anyone remember how this novel ended? I know I'll need to read the Cliff Notes or a synopsis prior to completing the fourth (and hopefully final) book whenever they decide to release it.
  19. At Home In Mitford by Jan Karon. This was my 7th audiobook and I listened to it while riding the Metro rail each day in Washington DC at the end of June. Since this was the "Focus on the Family" radio adaptation it was extremely entertaining. I could see Dean Jones as Father Tim. I tried to listen to the next book in the series but couldn't since it wasn't a Focus production and didn't have the same radio drama charm to it. I suspect I'll be borrowing the rest of the books in the series from Karen at some time just so I can say I've read them all.
  20. The 100 Best Loved Poems of All Times edited by Leslie Pockell. Well, I loved some of the selections but others I could live without very nicely, thankyouverymuch. I do like poetry, though, and read this book while the Bear and the grandgirls were taking taekwondo lessons.
  21. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. This was one of the books that the Bear had to read for American Literature and I decided to read it again just for enjoyment since it had been so many years since I had done so. I read this in October. Somehow, I don't seem to have read any books between the end of June and all of October. How can that be? I'm not sure that's accurate, but that's what my ledger says so I'll go with it.
  22. The Devious Book of Cats (A Parody) by Fluffy & Bonkers. Have you seen The Dangerous Book for Boys? The Bear has it and the point of it is to inspire boys to be boys in their pursuits of outdoorsy, "sticks and snails and puppy dog tails" adventures. Well, this book is written for cats by cats (snicker, snicker) to help them be cats. I liked it, but then, I like cats and I think I understand them pretty well without a book. I read this in October.
  23. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1706-1757) by Benjamin Franklin. Good book. If you want to know what Ben "really" thought you should read this. He didn't pull any punches! His views on God, while not Christian, are a far-cry from the atheistic tendencies that modern authors have attempted to claim. A must-read about one of our more colorful Founding Fathers in his own words.
  24. The Moffats by Eleanor Estes. My eighth audiobook. This was a juvenile book but I enjoyed it. The story is of the early-20th century family, the Moffats, that consists of the widowed mama and her brood of children. What adventures and escapades! I'm sure my granddaughter, Polly, would enjoy this one!
  25. Crocodiles on the Sandbank (Amelia Peabody series book 1) by Elizabeth Peters. My ninth audiobook. Fun fiction about a Victorian English spinster heiress who goes on an Egyptian tour courtesy of her inherited money. The woman who reads aloud this audiobook does a remarkable job of adding the droll tones at just the right time. One would think she wrote the book, which she didn't. A fun way to pass the time doing the housecleaning in November.
  26. The Curse of the Pharoahs (Amelia Peabody book 2) by Elizabeth Peters. My tenth audiobook. This continues the story of the now-married Amelia and her husband Emerson who calls her "My Dear Peabody" throughout. The humor helped pass more of my housecleaning days but this time in December.
  27. No More Mondays by Dan Miller. I heard Dave Ramsey recommend this book on his radio program one day while I was on my way to the library to do research so I obtained it immediately. After I completed it I insisted that Pastor Dad read it as well. Succinctly, it is a primer on how to think "outside the box" when it comes to jobs, employment, and doing what you love.
  28. Newspapers, Pennies, Cardboard & Eggs for Growing a Better Garden by Roger Yepsen. It's cold outside and I'm now reading gardening books. I don't think I need to explain this, do I?
So, as you can see, my yearly list looks something like my daughter's monthly list and ten of mine were audiobooks. I really don't read as much as I should, but I do read. Actually, I read a lot but not all of it is in book form. I read many genealogy journals, magazine articles, and research material but time spent poring over that material doesn't equate into "books read." I think that's probably why when I do get around to reading book they are more likely to be fiction than nonfiction.

I've got several books in my stack for 2011 but I haven't begun them yet. I really need to spend more time reading and less time doing housework.  Hahahahahaha!!!!!

More About Our DNA results

Remember this post from over 2 years ago where I told about the DNA test my dad had taken in the hopes of advancing our genealogy research? (See here)  Remember how shocked I was to find out that I am of Scandinavian descent? Okay, remember that I mentioned briefly that my grandpa said we were Dutch  but I "assumed" he meant German as in "Pennsylvania Dutch" because his Grandma's lineage was of German descent?

Well, once again, I am amazed and astounded by those same DNA results! I checked the site recently to see if our results matched closely any recent participants. I almost choked on my coffee when I saw that there was one . . . . and he was an exact match! I contacted him immediately (which was about a month ago) and waited for the response (which came yesterday). The man's family is from Portugal and his parents were born in British Guyana. A quick look at that country's history confirmed my suspicions that the old colony of Guiana was indeed settled by none other than the Dutch. Mmm hmm.

Do you also remember that I once contacted a man in England whose DNA was close (off by 1 point on 1 marker) and that he just could not believe that he could possibly have any relations in the USA? (See here) My, but won't he be surprised to find out that he no longer has relatives in North American but on the South American continent, too?!

Those rascally ancestors! They really got around! Who ever heard of such a thing! :)

I'm no closer than I was to breaking down my brick wall since our surnames do not match, but at least I have a few more clues to go on since my American paternal ancestor was born sometime around the time of the Anglo-Dutch wars. Oh, how the plot thickens! And I love a good story!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

(This post was edited a couple hours after it first appeared. In my concern about my photography skills I totally neglected to notice that my journaling skills were nothing to write home about. Let that be a lesson to me not to try to attempt something new until I've had enough sleep.)   :)

I was invited by my friend, Vicky Day, to participate in a year of journaling and digital scrapbooking hosted by Faith Sisters.  I'm going to give it a try.  Each Sunday the participants receive a verse that they then should try to interpret through photography. Okay, you all know I'm short on photography skills and time - particularly time - but I felt that I could try to put something together once a week.  I was intrigued by the idea of capturing the essence of a Bible verse through a picture.  Hmm.  Should help to get the creative juices flowing!

The first assignment was to design the cover page of my album.  Here are the elements that I used for my page:
  • Green background paper courtesy of Vicky Day's "Friendship Company" kit
  • Frame courtesy of Roseytoes Designs torch relay (blog train))
  • Text courtesy of by the Shores designs by pammie~k
  • Picture courtesy of yours truly who used it in 2010 to advertise her Take Ten in '10 Bible reading plan. (It fit so well with this new endeavor that I thought I'd recycle it.)
I hope you will enjoy seeing my year of faith documented in pictures

A Timely Perspective

Happy New Year!
This seemed like such a good day to talk about perspective and time since almost every person on the planet has their attention drawn to that concept. Other milestones like birthdays and anniversaries are unique to each individual, but the turning of the calendar to a new year is common to us all.

Time is passing quickly! So, how are you spending it? You only have so much of it, you know, and the amount you have was determined by God before you were ever born. When viewed from that perspective, I've come to believe time to be more valuable than money. That sobers me as I think about how much of it I waste. And once it is gone, it is gone forever. There are no do-overs.

But there is hope! The fact that you are reading this means that you still have some of that precious commodity to spend. And today is a day when many of us will make decisions about how to use ours. I'd like to make it my resolution to do my best not to waste this precious gift of time.

In order to not waste time, though, I need to decide what things constitute wasting time and what things do not. I've come up with a very simplified definition:

Doing anything besides what God wants me to do at that moment is a waste of time.

This sounds simple enough in theory, but in practice? . . . Well, that's another story!

Here are a few things that I know are a waste of time based upon Biblical precepts:
  • Worrying about the past. (Time has no "rewind" button. Repent and move on.)
  • Worrying about the future. (Time has no "fast forward" button. Leave the unknowable to God.)
  • Waiting for better circumstances before I do what I'm supposed to be doing.(Time has no "pause" button either. No matter what the conditions of life might be, God still expects His children to be doing His work.)

Here are a few things that I've learned through experience - hopefully Biblical experience - that are not a waste of time in the proper proportions, although like anything good that God gives us they can be distorted, misused, or misapplied. Scriptures and God's design of the human body teach us that at least 1/7 of every week and 1/3 of every day should be spent on the following:
  • Rest. (Sleep. The body needs to be recharged physically.)
  • Relaxation (Life is stressful and the emotional burdens need to be laid aside. The body needs to be recharged mentally.)
  • Reading (Specifically, reading God's Word and coupling it with prayer. The body needs to be recharged spiritually.)
We've got all - or as much of 2011 that God chooses to give us - still ahead of us. Let's determine not to waste so precious a commodity.

(My blogging friend, Karin, of the appropriately named Yesterday, Today, and Forever has written a poem about Sands of Time that touched my heart.  You can read it here.)

Happy 2011, my family and friends!