Thursday, October 31, 2002

Scrub, scrub, scrub

If you read Duane's blog you know we're getting ready to move. I guess I need to spend the day tomorrow at the "new" house cleaning. It's in relatively good shape; there are several handfuls of minor details to take care of, like burned-out lightbulbs, etc., etc. The big project - as always when you're moving into a rental - is the kitchen. The oven is actually fairly clean. When I first saw the oven, I groaned inside because it is so OLD - and old electric ranges tend to not cook evenly, and the ovens are a bear to figure out. (You have to find out if it runs hot/cold, or if it has a hot spot. You can ruin a fair number of dishes before you figure out its quirks.)

However, I was excited to see that it is so old it has TWO ovens - one of the bottom (albeit smaller than normal) and a small one the size of a microwave on top. So, I don't have to worry about cooking to dishes that require different temperatures. That is one of the best ideas for the kitchen I've ever seen.

I can't even talk about the refrigerator. It's in really, really bad shape.

I have counters all the way around the perimeter of the kitchen on two walls - a huge amount of space - but a tiny sink in the corner that was clearly an afterthought, just two overhead cabinets and two small drawers. In St. Louis we had five drawers, and in Sterlington we have three. Now I'm down to two. I'm learning how to store things creatively. I'll need to bleach down the counters, tear up the old contact paper, scrub the cabinets, and put new contact paper down. That's my least favorite project.

I hope I can get the kitchen done today. If I do, there's only spot-cleaning to be done on Friday and the place will be ready to move in to. I'm excited. Except our new neighbors on both sides have big dogs that really scare Bailey when they bark. Maybe she'll get used to them.

All that to say, if you are renting your living space, you can provide a powerful testimony by leaving your space spotless when you move out, even if it wasn't that way when you moved in. We are definitely going to be leaving the house here better-off than it was when we moved in. For some reason, people who rent have a hard time respecting their property. Not just with wear and tear, but with general clealiness. In St. Louis we left our apartments so clean you could eat off the floor - and they were that way when we moved in, too. It makes a world of difference when you walk into a clean space. I get so depressed walking into a place I know will be nice someday, but I think about all the hours of scrubbing and back-aching labor to get it that way.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Auditory Vandalism

Bailey got a stuffed bear for Christmas last year from someone in the family. It was in a box and it was called a "Jamin' Star." It was a farmer bear with an ear of corn for a microphone. When you pressed his button a very loud and distorted song would play - interminably. She was genuinely scared of it when she saw it.

There were all sorts of typos on the box, and while there were four animals in the "Jamin' Stars" family depicted on the box, we suspected there really was only one in the family and that we owned him.

We try to discriminate when we choose toys for Bailey that produce sounds. Most of them are nothing but auditory vandalism. Some are educational; I think those are good. Toys that reward effort or achievement with quality sound (like classical music) are good. Toys that play music or sounds just for the sake of noise need to go away.

Anyway, Bailey seems to have a developing ear for music. She used to sit at our keyboard and just bang and grunt. Last week, though, she got up on the bench after I was done practicing and moved her left hand in a different direction from her right hand, then played real soft, then played real loudly, moving her hands up and down the keys. She also has started to sing - loudly - while I'm playing. I've been practicing the pesky Beethoven for a couple hours each day this past week, and by now I'm sure she's used to it. I wish I could get into her head to hear what she's thinking.
John Williams, Jr.

We bought Bailey a small keyboard for Christmas last year. It only has two-note polyphony, which, for a $10 keyboard, is pretty good. She went and hit two keys just a second ago and hit the exact chord of the first note of the Star Wars: Phantom Menace theme. Sounded good!

Maybe she'll go places.

Someone is looking for Matt & Sora. I had two hits from a Google search for "Matt Sora Colvin". Those kinds of searches are weird. Looks like they found them, though, since Sora's old blog came up as the first hit.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002


In keeping with the spirit of Duane's post concerning pointless blog activities, I thought I would post this link.

I especially like the thought of canned corn pancakes.


Monday, October 28, 2002


Okay, I have to ask...who is doing the layout for Canon? I hope the online version of Reformed is not Enough is not formatted with the same font as in the hard copy. A whole book in italics?

I admit that I really had a hard time with the font they had been using over the past few years. It was difficult to read and not too pleasant on the eyes. The one they used to Steve Wilkins' book, though, is even worse. And now italics?
A Plug for Our Pastor

Our pastor just had his most recent work published. It's available through Canon Press at a very affordable price. Doug Wilson's new book is also out and I'm looking forward to reading that one, too. I'm assuming it is an expansion on the themes he taught at the Pastor's Conference last year.

I think Pastor Wilkins' passion for hospitality is a breath of fresh air in the reformed community. For so long we've been stuck in the quagmire of intellectualism that we've forgotten what it is like to truly be members of one body. I would recommend his work to anyone who has questions about the theology of hospitality as well as how to "do" hospitality. His sermons on the subject are never short of valuable information on how to be hospitable.

I read The Hospitality Commands a few months ago and have to admit that I've learned more from snipets here and there in Pastor Wilkins' sermons than I did from Strauch's book.

Guaranteed to be good stuff!
My Hero

While I was cleaning out Bailey's closet this morning I saw a HUGE spider on the wall in the corner behind a box. Now, to call me an arachnophobe would be a classic understatement. I am getting better with daddy long-legs (I know they're not technically spiders) but I still can't handle anything else. I hyperventilate when I see them on TV.

I have a long history with spiders, having come into direct flesh-to-fur contact with two rather large and mean-looking ones - one a wolf spider and one a tarantula.

Duane happened to be home for a minute so I managed to surpress the urge to scream. If he hadn't been home I probably would have packed Bailey up and taken a day trip to the mall. Anyway, I told him there was a "big spider" in Bailey's room. Could he come kill it?

I never thought I'd see my hunk-o'-hubby scared of a spider. I didn't witness the battle, I just supplied the RAID. He said as soon as he sprayed the spider, the spider started baring long fangs. That's all I wanted to hear. He killed it and we swept it up with the vacuum cleaner.

I'm so thankful I have a husband who only mildly taunts me for having an irrational fear of all things creepy.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Renovations not required

I've been having a very interesting discussion via sensus plenior on my post Atrociously Bad Hymn #3 with a learned professional musician. He's an RE at the church I grew up in and came to my blog via Wayne's blog, I believe.

Anyway, I'd like to bring the comments to the top, but edited.

I really appreciate the Cyber Hymnal, since even though it contains (those) terrible ditties, it has some hard-to-find hymns as well. I try to collect Reformed (or at least Protestant) hymnals.

We did some chanting at Providence in St. Louis, but only at night. Auburn hasn't jumped into it yet.

I happen to like the tune of the Holst melody (I Vow To Thee...), and the words are okay. We heard a choir sing it acapella as a call to worship at a PCA church in Alabama. It was very nicely done.

I have to ask, what is your opinion concerning putting hymns to classical tunes? Duck Schuler wrote strongly against it in his review of the new Trinity and I'm curious from an opinion from another music guru.

I don't have quite the same spin on using classical tunes as Duck does, and I consider myself to be just as much of a traditionalist (and classically trained) as he is.

Classical music is classic because it, among other things, was well written by truly gifted composers. And what better way to celebrate a gift from the Master Artist. To say that a classical tune can't be used as a hymn tune because it was originally meant to be performed as an instrumental piece is to attach just a leeetle too much importance to the tune itself, and not in keeping with Luther's admonition that music be a "handmaiden" to theology...in other words, music should always be subservient to text.

I think I very much agree with your reasoning. While there are some tunes that really are inexorably linked with their contexts (unfortunately, as much as I like the Holst tune in the Trinity, it is really hard for me to separate the tune from "I Vow To Thee"), I would have to agree with you and disagree with Duck. Even the tunes I am familiar with from their original sources seem to serve purposes well to be tied to good hymn texts. About using certain periods of music, you're right, I guess most of what I hear that I think would be "good for a hymn" runs in the late baroque or classical. Our church in St. Louis, however, used a lot of Ralph Vaughn Williams tunes (in an effort to recapture masculine hymnody). I would love to become more educated on church hymnody, but wouldn't know where to start.

Here's my spin on the practice of setting familiar hymns to newer tunes, a la Indelible Grace.

Music communicates with us like no other communication medium. It truly is a language that speaks to us on a toally different level. That is one of the main reasons why people take their musical preferences so personally.

The charge made by writers like Leonard Payton that "music as language is a 19th century Romantic concept" prompts me to reply, "So what?" I suppose that strawberry rhubarb pie is a 19th century Romantic concept too. Does that mean that it doesn't taste absolutely scrumdiddyumptious?

IG's biggest strength is taking obscure texts that are gathering dust in reformed hymnals because they are set to unsingable or otherwise unmusical (at least in the learned opinion of IG Ministries) tunes. Case in point: "Love Constraining to Obedience," a really rich and meaty text that I don't think I've ever heard. IG's problem: taking more oft-sung hymns like "And Can It Be" or "Arise My Soul Arise." True, neither of the tunes commonly associated with those texts was written expressly as vehicles for them....but....

Here's an illustration. Our current national anthem, penned by the lawyer asnd amateur poet Francis Scott Key, is most commonly associated with an English pub tune by John Stafford Smith called "To Anacreon In Heaven." Did Key know Smith? No. Were they contemporaries? No. Would Key probably have objected to his poem being set to a Brit beer tune? Probably.

But the text of TSSB and the tune are, for better or worse, inextricably married. And no amount of blathering from musicians like me about "TSSB is too hard to sing" and "the tune is trite and militaristic" will never put that particular marriage asunder. Why? Because any fragment of the anthem, even six notes, will bring a 65-year old WWII veteran to tears. It raises a lump in the throat of your dad and my mom. Fragments of it appear everywhere from "National Emblem March" to Puccini's "Madama Butterfly." Because of what that dumb little 17th century English jingle now symbolizes to you and me.

And that...is the power of a melody.

Sarah's final comments
I really think I agree with his reasoning as a good balance between Duck and Leonard's opinions. I don't generally approve of using the "new" music (new tunes to old hymns) in our covenant renewal service; as much as I love Bob Kauflin's arrangement of And Can It Be it just would not fit in. And to argue that a hymn ought to be revamped because it is hard to sing or takes practice, well, that is to say that the Lord, in a Lord's Day Service, does not deserve our effort in exercising our minds, ears, and throats enough to learn difficult songs. I am of the mindset that every congregation should be making noticeable strides toward musical literacy and competency if they are not already there. At Providence I heard, every once in a while, a congregation member complaining about singing out of the Anglo-Genevan Psalter. They would say they were too hard. Well, they take some getting used to, but when you get down to it, they are only half and quarter notes with half rests and a little syncopation here and there. Much easier to sing than many of the 17th, 18th, and 19th century hymns I grew up singing.

I agree that the music should always serve the text. I think that is one of the most important keys to recovering our liturgical heritage in our churches. For the most part, the 1961 (and some of the 1990) Trinity Hymnal does a good job of matching tunes with lyrics, although there are a few ubiquitous tunes that ought to be spread a little more sparingly - Duke Street and Downs to name two. (I'm not even going to start in on the 50 or so ditties located in the back of the hymnal marked "Hymns for Informal Occasions.")

Singing is a challenge for me. I was never able to do it consistently until we came here, where I can hear and follow the alto part with no difficulty. I have improved a lot and as I improve I am enjoying it more and more. As much as I enjoy it, I cannot do it well. But I love to sing "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded", albeit a little off-key, and feel the weight of the music and the words. That is the joy in lifting our voices to the Lord - through effort and practice and sacrifice.

I have always had a fascination with cryptography. When I was still living in Maryland I used to frequent the National Cryptologic Museum off of Ft. Meade, which actually has a working Enigma machine. I used to read a lot of military thrillers involving crypto. It fascinates me although I've never actually studied it because I fear I have no ability to solve puzzles. What little analytical ability my brain has seems to be reserved for other things. (This is the same reasoning I use to refuse to learn to play chess.)

I decided, since Julius Caesar was one of the earliest people known to have used ciphers, to teach my kiddos basic encyption/decryption techniques and give them an easy polyalphabetic cipher to solve. It's a phrase they have known since the second class. I thought it might keep them busy for five minutes, until the smart ones figure out what it is by counting the letters. I guess I could squish the words together in true Roman style to fool them, but I'm not that mean. Besides, my printer just ran out of ink. The kids have the encryption key, but I won't give it to you. I used three substitution alphabets, shifting to the right. (Meaning if the letter A has a T value in the first alphabet, then B is a T value in the second alphabet and C has a T value in the third alphabet. But it's not a straight substitution. The first alphabet was random.)

Here's the phrase. To help you out, you know that in the last two words, you have three letters that are right next to each other in the alphabet, because each time the same substitution letter was used. The same with the last word, and anywhere you see two letters repeated.


Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Fish out of water

Ever since Bailey was "a tiny" she has always stirred every morning between 5:00 - 6:00. Before she started sleeping through the night, the only time she would wake up would be around 5:30. I'd feed her (if she could stay awake) and then she'd sleep until 7:30. For some reason, even when she was able to sleep through that time, she would still stir, flop, grunt, and sometimes wake up and talk for just a minute around 5:30.

This morning, I'm in the room next to hers and I can hear her flopping around in her crib like a fish out of water. I've never been able to keep a blanket on her, and she can't use a pillow because she flops around so much. She doesn't seem to wake up completely. What's funny is that she never does anything half-heartedly. If she is going to stir, by golly, she's gonna stir! And that includes kicking, thumping, flopping, and scraping her fingernails on the wall next to the crib.
I will not buy this "tobacconist's", it is scratched!

Duane and I rented The Ninth Gate last night. We like all of Johnny Depp's movies, and I liked the book on which the movie is based - Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Club Dumas.

The movie was actually very well done. However, as we got 45 minutes into the movie (things were really starting to happen), the disc stopped like we had pressed pause. Duane took it out and did his electronics-guru stuff to try to get it to skip over the scratch, but nothing worked. We couldn't see a scratch or gouge on the disc. We tried wiping all the fingerprints off, but that didn't work. We checked a few other DVD's in our player and they were fine. That kind of thing really frustrates me. Now I have to go back to the store and argue for a refund (it was the only copy they had). Then they'll probably put it right back on the shelf for the next unsuspecting person to rent it again.

If you've seen it, don't tell me how it ends (even though I already know the ending if it's true to the book).

Monday, October 21, 2002

Miss Bossy

Bailey is ordering our cat to read her a book. And while she waits she is perusing my Greek dictionary. I don't have the heart to tell her its upside-down.
Atrociously Bad Hymn #3

Where Is My Boy To-Night?

Where is my wandering boy tonight—
The boy of my tenderest care,
The boy that was once my joy and light,
The child of my love and prayer?

O where is my boy tonight?
O where is my boy tonight?
My heart o’erflows, for I love him, he knows;
O where is my boy tonight?

Once he was pure as morning dew,
As he knelt at his mother’s knee;
No face was as bright, no heart more true,
And none was so sweet as he.

O could I see you now, my boy,
As fair as in olden time,
When prattle and smile made home a joy,
And life was a merry chime!

Go for my wandering boy tonight;
Go search for him where you will;
But bring him to me with all his blight,
And tell him I love him still.

To Cyber Hymnal's credit, they tried to come up with an appropriate scriptural reference for this "hymn" - Luke 5:20. Makes you wonder, in what context would a church ever sing this song?

We're moving. Again. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about this move. It is coming on a bad weekend; we have Reformation Day, then the hospitality dinner at church, then I have symphony rehearsals all the next week, plus it will be time for Latin tests again and I'll have extra work writing those.

When I was in the doctor's office waiting with Bailey (for 2 1/2 hours) for her last checkup, I struck up a conversation with the lady sitting next to me. We somehow got to talking about where we live and I mentioned we're in Sterlington but would like to be closer to town. "Town" is Monroe; Sterlington (which is not really a town but a stop-light intersection) has a pizza/video place, two gas stations, a Mom & Pop grocery store and a Town Hall.

Anyway, the lady I was talking to mentioned the house next door to them in West Monroe had just been vacated. She knew the landlord's number by heart and wrote it down for me. I called him that afternoon. He was surprised I had called; he hadn't even gone in to start work on the house yet and it wouldn't be on the market for a long time. I explained our situation, that we weren't in a hurry, and that we'd like to find something closer to our church that we could afford.

Duane worked out all the details. One concern we had was that this fellow wouldn't do the work he promised he'd do - the floors needed work, the walls needed paint, just the basic renovations you do after so many years, and the place we're in now was a disaster when we moved in. Duane went back to sign the lease and see what work had been done, and the landlord said he'd spent several thousand dollars fixing the place up. Seems he's real honest, and I'm grateful for that.

It's in a nice part of town. The street the house is on runs parallel to the parking lot of a huge Baptist church. The backyard is smaller than the one we have now, but it is completely fenced in. There is no front yard to speak of, and no covered parking, but we have a small screened-in front porch, big enough for a couple of rocking chairs and a table. There is a fire station on the corner, and best of all, we'll only be about 500 yards from the Interstate. Right now we're about 15 miles from the Interstate. The house, while lacking some things we might need (like closets - we don't think there are any closets in the house), is a little bigger than the one we're in and it built better. It's brighter because of the light carpet and walls, and it has three good size bedrooms, so we don't have to lose a bedroom. It only has one bathroom, but while we have 1 1/2 here, we only use one. The rent is $20 more a month than what we're paying here, but we'll save that in gas alone, I'm sure.

So, even though the thought of moving absolutely exhausts me, I'm excited.
Pigs don't eat mustard!

This morning Bailey dragged out a set of play food we'd bought her a while back. In the set was a pile of plastic peas, a plastic hamburger patty, and a bottle of mustard. She took those three items, along with her Piglet, into the kitchen. She climbed up onto the chair at the kitchen table and put the food on the table. Then she pretended to squirt the hamburger with the mustard and made squirting sounds with her mouth. She then put the bottle of mustard down and put the hamburger to Piglet's mouth and made eating noises.

It is so much fun watching her imagination develop.
Oh, yeah, I forgot him, too.

I forgot that crazy Reg Barrow guy from Canada. (Nothing against Canada, of course!) We can add him to make a triumvirate.

I checked out Mark's blog and followed the link to John Robbins' latest rant. Whatever. This guy and the Way of Life whackos need to have a shindig. They need to get together and drink milk and eat cookies and whine about how they hate everyone but themselves.


We had some new friends over yesterday after church. The husband is the new headmaster over Geneva Academy. They are about our age, maybe just a few years younger, with two young girls. Their older daughter is about 2 1/2, and the younger daughter is 6 months.

While Bailey gets to play with other kids a lot during the week in other places, we don't often have kids over to our house. When we got home from church yesterday, we tried to put Bailey down. She screamed and cried and cried. She just didn't want to miss the action. Duane and I had to adjust her attitude a handful of times, and we were embarassed for our guests, even though they said it didn't phase them. Bailey is usually very obedient with naps, but the last three times we've had people over to visit, she's gone ballistic and wouldn't take a nap.

She finally slept for an hour. When we got home from our evening service we let her eat and run around a bit, then put her to bed. She talked and sang for an hour before she finally drifted off. I guess there was just too much going on for her to conk out like she normally does.

Thursday, October 17, 2002


I have an older couple (retired) in my beginning Latin class. They brought me a newspaper clipping the other day with a question about a phrase they had read. They wanted to know if it was Latin, and if it was, what did it mean? It was in fact Latin and it was two Catholic phrases - limbum infantum and limbum patrum if I remember them correctly. Literally, "limbo of infants" and "limbo of fathers". I can't find limbum anywhere, I'm assuming it is a medieval Latin word, so I might be remembering it in the wrong case.

Anyway, over the past few months I have been struggling with some of the terminology we've been using in our studies of the covenant - the phrases and ideas that have been "taboo" for Protestants for so long, like "baptismal regeneration" and "baptismal efficacy". I had begun to really wonder how close we to Rome - as in, are there really huge doctrinal gaps between us since our terminology has begun to change? I am terrified of sliding down the road to Rome, as some would put it.

These two doctrines, limbum infantum and limbum patrum refer to the immediate destination of unbaptized infants and pre-Christ believers. Apparently there is a special destination - not heaven and not purgatory - for infants who die unbaptized. There is another destination for those fathers in the faith who lived and died before Christ (which is a strikingly Baptistic doctine, really, and quite dispensational) similar to the limbum infantum.

While I could comment for a long time on this Roman Catholology, I will only say that these two things ensure me that we are still miles away from Rome.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002


I bought a small fondue set with money my sister had sent me for my birthday. Last night I tried it for the first time. Of course, living here in Fun-roe, I couldn't get emmenthaler at the store, so I settled with gruyere. I bought a single-serving bottle of wine, which wound up being a little short for the recipe, and the store didn't carry kirsch and I don't have sherry to substitute. So pretty much it was jury-rigged fondue, but it was still good. We had french bread and granny smith apples to dip, with a green salad. Bailey didn't care much for the cheese. She ate a whole bowl of peas instead.

Our daughter has begun to ask for specific foods. Some of her favorites are "sicle" for popsicle, "sammy" for sandwich (thanks to Duane), and "cee-reee-AHL!" for cereal, specifically either Cocoa Puffs or Lucky Charms. This past week I had an engagement in town and Duane took Bailey home to feed her dinner and put her to bed. I told Duane she could have toast with butter, some broccoli, and a few slices of banana (which she calls "na-na").

When I arrived home I found out she had had a "sicle" and "cee-reee-AHL!" for dinner. She's going to learn to really like Daddy feeding her dinner!

Tuesday, October 15, 2002


My parents (and many of you bloggers, too) live fairly close to most of these sniper shootings in the Washington, D.C. area. They live about half an hour from D.C. in a suburb of Annapolis. My mom said that not much has changed there except some folks aren't frequenting the gas stations that are right off of Route 97, which runs from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. She says she won't stop there anymore to get gas.

It scares me so much because it is not like a random, personal, physical attack like a mugging or kidnapping - where you have options and time. The thought of a single shot from an unseen location would just terrify me. I don't think I'd go out much.

Last night a woman was shot and killed in the parking lot of Home Depot - loading packages into her car with her husband. How grieved and terrified he must feel.

When I was in high school I used to go to a restaurant called The Sconecutter. It was in Brooklyn Park, which was the last suburb before you crossed the river into Baltimore over Ritchie Highway. My friends and I would drive up there at all hours of the day just to get a scone - the restaurant was open 24 hours.

I don't think I ever ate anything there except for their scones, which were so good. My favorites were the wheat scones with cinnamon and butter - oh, my! They're not the traditional scones, though - they are to scones what croissants are to biscuits.

The restaurant in Brooklyn Park closed down many years ago. I miss their scones.

Monday, October 14, 2002


A friend loaned me St. Elmo by Augusta Jane Evans, who, according to one website (and it has to be true since I read it on the Internet!) rivaled Harriet Beecher Stowe in popularity. I'd never heard of Evans until my friend loaned me this book.

Anyway, my friend tells me this is a great Austenesque love story. I brought it home and started reading it. I have to admit after the first twenty pages, I had figured the whole thing out. It's extremely formulaic for mid-nineteenth century sentimental fiction, albeit well-written. I give Evans a lot of credit for her writing ability.

There is just too much sentimentality. You know how it goes:
1. Poor orphan girl,
2. raised by her virtuous, pious but uneducated, simple grandfather;
3. she displays piety through her walks in the woods where she has her quiet time.
4. Her grandfather dies and a kind neighbor family takes her in, but she doesn't want to burden them and goes off on her own.
5. She is in a tragic train wreck and is taken in by a wealthy family.
6. Meets the (supposedly) foul-mouthed, impious wretch who runs the household. The reader has to take Evans' word for it.
7. He travels away for years, during which she becomes super-educated, ultra-brilliant, hyper-pietistic, and more self-sacrificing than Jesus.
8. Man is impressed by her piety, repents of his masculine and barbaric pagan ways, and is "converted" to her sentimental brand of effeminacy.
Problem is, I have yet to see reference of a church, or a church family, or a man ruling the household. Piety and religion are displayed by prayers alone with her and Jesus, full of pleas to either experience or avoid emotional and spiritual martyrdom, and taking philosophy, Latin, and Greek classes every day one-on-one ALONE with a pastor who becomes her tutor.

I think I'm going to write a critique of the book. I guess it shouldn't bother me so much, but why can't this type of fiction be saturated with Biblically masculine men? Why is the gospel, when presented in "Christian" fiction by women, always so limp-wristed? The gospel has chest hair. Just because women don't have chest hair (at least most of us don't) doesn't mean we can't write books that do.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

45111 3432 3432

Tomorrow is my first real official piano lesson in 16 years. I've spent all week working on the two pieces and honestly I've spent more than an hour each day practicing. I only got the first page of the Haydn done and the first three pages of the Beethoven. I am still playing the Beethoven at about 2/3 speed because I can't get the staccato in the right hand not to sound mushy. I've tried it slowly, and without the pedal. Nothing really helps.

The nervous feeling I have in the pit of my stomach reminds me of my younger lesson-taking days. My teacher, then named Cindy Miller (now she's married), lived about 10 minutes from our house. There was a long stoplight to cross the highway and whenever we had to stop at the light I would almost burst into tears because I was so nervous. I couldn't even play in front of my parents without feeling sick or nervous.

One lesson when I was working on a particularly yucky piece (Debussy's Golliwog's Cake Walk, which, by the way, I hate even to this day) I just stopped playing and started crying. She asked what was wrong and three years of tension came out. Everytime I played she would just sit and write, write, write in a notebook - all the things I wasn't doing right. I just couldn't take it anymore. I think I really had issues. I thought she didn't like me, I thought I was a failure. I really had a skewed perspective back then. I just wish Bailey and our other children will take a sincere, lasting interest in music. I'm glad I advanced far enough to where I can pretty much work my way through anything. I wish I were better, but I'm happy where I am.

I'm going to be nervous playing for Lisa tomorrow, but I want her to help me out. I can't cheat on the fingering anymore. Someone needs to hold me accountable. Those of you who play the piano, you know the temptation (or maybe not, if you're well accomplished) to nix the fingerings the editor recommends and just use whatever will get you there the fastest. I've really been concentrating on re-working the fingering and whatdyaknow! they work. We'll see.
Ecumenism run amok

From the joint declaration between the National Council of Synogogues and the RC Delegates of the Bishops' Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, quoted in The Apple of His Eye mission society newsletter:
"The joint Catholic-Jewish statement on mission is yet another step in turning a new page in the often stormy relationship between the Jewish people and the Roman Catholic Church. Neither faith group believes that we should missionize among the other in order to save souls via conversion. Quite the contrary, we believe both faith groups are beloved of God and assured of His grace."

"From the point of view of the Catholic Church, Judaism is a religion that springs from divine revelation. As Cardinal Kasper noted, "God's grace, which is the grace of Jesus Christ according to our faith, is available to all. Therefore, the Church believes that Judaism, i.e. the faithful response of the Jewish people to God's irrevocable covenant, is salvific for them, because God is faithful to his promises."
I don't even know where to start.
More fun than a barrel of monkeys

My youngest kiddos had fun today in Latin. It makes me feel good when they tell me at the end of class that they had a great time. I did a declension drill with them, and while they are still a little draggy, they did a good job. I decided I'm going to start every class with a good warm-up drill. Always a good idea.

Then I tried a new exercise with them. I've seen it in Latin books and decided to give it a try. It goes something like this:

Fill-in-the-blank with the Latin word for the English word that is missing.

The king and ___________________ are married and rule their _________________ together.

The answer would be "The king and regina are married and rule their regnum together."

I thought it was cheesy. They absolutely loved it. That sure is an easy way to motivate them to learn their vocabulary!

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

All dressed up with no place to go

While reviewing a long-term research assignment to my Latin class yesterday I told them their oral reports would be due on Thursday, October 31st. Absentmindedly I said, "I know that's Halloween." How obnoxious! I can't believe I said that. I got glassy-eyed stares and one girl blinked at me and then said "That's Reformation Day. Are we having class on Reformation Day?"

Only at Auburn Avenue. Maybe I'll cancel class.

Our church has a BIG Reformation Day shindig with period games, food, music, and costumes. I don't think we'll be going. We have nothing to wear, and I don't know how to sew yet. Maybe next year.

However, in anticipation of the Southern Heritage conference, I am searching the Internet for good semi-easy patterns so I can make myself a belle-of-the-ball dress for some big dance they have sometime down here. These Southrons, I hear, know how to throw a party. I'm looking forward to it. If anyone knows where I can find a good pattern, let me know.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Need a truckload

I started cleaning for my in-law's visit. I used five rolls of paper towels yesterday on the kitchen alone. I will hate to see what happens when I get to the back of the house.

I can tell you that it definitely pays to buy the expensive paper towels. Kleenex' Viva are the best I've ever used. I can make a roll of those go a looooong way.
Just like old times

A young lady at my church is helping me learn a few pieces on the piano for my grandmother's 90th birthday party. I'm trying to work on the first movement of Beethoven's Pathetique and on Haydn's Sonata in D Major, Allegro con brio and Presto. It's been about 15 years since I've seriously ironed out a piece. I'd forgotten how tiring it can be.

My left arm aches from the octave tremolos in the left hand of the Pathetique and my eyes are sore from trying to read the ledger lines on the Haydn. It's amazing how quickly you lose the skills and the strength. I remember the last piece I studied, Chopin's Military Polonaise, and I remember how I used to be sore when I finished practicing that piece. The Haydn is so much fun to play, though, and the Beethoven is so full of passion I feel drawn to them.

There are about four or five pieces I'd like to learn before I die. Mastering the Pathetique is one of them. So, if I can manage a moderate level of success, I'll be very satisfied with myself.

Hey, Valerie!

How did you get your permalink code to work? Think you can help me out? :)

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Macro and micro

Why do hurricanes look just like galaxies?

I'm getting ready to post something really profound. I've been pondering the relationship between vanilla pudding, cat brushes, and masking tape.

Not really.
Panic Room

My in-laws are coming to visit on Friday. They'll be here Friday night, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday morning. Sunday night is Second Sunday at our church, which means we all bring our own dinners and head downstairs after the service. We eat, fellowship, then have about half an hour of hymn requests. We have a very musical congregation; you can always hear all four parts when we sing. Downstairs in the small space, with a hundred or so people singing, you can really feel the power of the congregation's worship. I hope our in-laws will want to come. Every time they visit we want them to experience a little more of the richness of our Reformed community. (They are still Landmark Baptist.)

The fact that my mother-in-law is coming is sending me into a slight state of panic. I once read a cartoon - I can't remember which one - that had a mother and daughter talking. One said "We have to clean the place up." The other said "How clean? Grandmother clean?" The first one said "No, just military clean."

That is not an exaggeration for my mother-in-law. She's a neat freak. However, we are cursed (blessed?) with a growing library for which we have no shelves. It is literally impossible to make a room full of stacks of books look neat and tidy.

Saturday, October 05, 2002


We made some new friends this weekend.

On Wednesday, the prayer chain was activated and our church members were called to see how many people we could put up if the folks in a fellow PCA church in Sulphur had to evacuate and come up here. I offered our place for up to 8, and to be honest, didn't think much would come of it.

On Thursday morning around 9:30 Miss Jackie called and asked if we could take in a family of four - and husband and wife, and two boys aged 18 months and 3. We said sure! I had half an hour to get the house clean as they would follow me home from Latin. Duane came home and ran through the house, picking it up. We were a good fit for them since we have our own tasmanian devil; we have no valuables and our home is fairly baby-proof.

We had a great time and I hope we'll keep in touch. I had forgotten how much energy and time it takes to host people, and they were our first official overnight guests. I cooked our dinner and breakfast on Thursday afternoon in case we lost power, but then they said they had a propane stove in their van in case I had to cook. They live in a mobile home and were fully expecting to be homeless by yesterday morning. I haven't heard from them so I am guessing there was minimal damage to their home, if any at all.

While it was great fellowship, it was a sobering reminder of how quickly our material things can come and go.
I could care less and will use bad grammar irregardless of what you say.

I heard two - not one, but two - people use the word momentarily correctly today. One was a woman on NPR and the other was Mike Shannon while he was calling the Cards game.

I got really excited.

Duane has already told y'all how our day went. I'm so tired I can barely keep my eyes open.

Last night, while Duane was at Dabney, I went over to my friend Jenny's house and we watched Persuasion together. It was entertaining, but after the first half an hour she stopped the film and said "Do you have any idea what's going on?" She had read the book, and I finally got used to the accents, so we pieced together what was going on.

I don't know why British movies are all so mush-mouthed. There was a scene where Ann's sister was talking while eating a breakfast involving ham. That conversation, while undoubtedly very important to the plot, was completely unintelligible.

I think I need hearing aids.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Sounds like Billy Graham

That last line, "top with frosting of your choice..." sounds like the tag line at the end of Billy Graham crusades that say if you've just "gotten saved" you need to make sure to "attend the church of your choice."

I am happy to say that ambivalence toward the objectivity of good cinnamon roll frosting is not nearly as potentially damaging as Mr. Graham's assertion of subjective preference in attending any church you'd like.

I just got a craving for Cinnamon rolls. Unfortunately, they're one of my favorite baked goods. I found this recipe several years ago on the Internet, and I have yet to find one that works better. The cream cheese frosting is good, but I find they are better with a simple buttercream or quick white frosting drizzled over them instead. They are easy but messy! They freeze well and make a great item to take to someone who is sick or needs encouragement - take them on a Friday or Saturday night so they can enjoy hot cinnamon rolls for breakfast in the morning. Even you single bloggers out there who are looking for ways to be hospitable can make these. I've given away more of these rolls than I can count.
This recipe is for a 1 ½ - 2 pound bread machine, but I have a 1 pound machine and it can handle the dough with a little grunting and groaning.

Cinnamon Rolls for the Bread Machine


1 c. milk, warmed to room temperature
1 egg, beaten
4 Tbsp. melted butter
4 Tbsp. water
1/2 box instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz. box)
4 c. bread flour (all-purpose flour works fine, too!)
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
2-1/2 t. bread machine yeast (1 package yeast)

1/2 c. butter, softened to room temperature – do not let it start to melt
1 c. brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. chopped walnuts, opt
1/4 - 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips, opt

Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
1/4 c. butter, softened
1-1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1-1/2 tsp. milk
3 T. real maple syrup

Preparation Instructions:
Place all ingredients in your machine in order recommended by your machine’s manufacturer. Place the pan in your machine. Select the dough cycle and press start. When cycle is finished, remove the dough, knead enough to punch down. Cover and let rest 15-20 minutes. Roll into a 17X10 rectangle.

Combine first three filling ingredients and mix well. Heat in microwave 10 sec. to make it spreadable. Spread over rolled out dough with rubber spatula. Get as close to the edges as possible. Sprinkle nuts or over dough. Starting with widest end, roll the dough into tight log. Using unscented dental floss or fishing line, cut into 1/2-1” slices. (To do this, slide the floss under the dough, bring up and cross ends over, pulling through the dough.) Place cut-side-down in a lightly greased baking dish with sides.

If you would like to freeze them, freeze them at this step. To bake, remove from freezer, bring to room temperature (approx. 1 hour), then proceed with second rise.

Put in warm draft free place and allow them to rise until double. (I turn my oven on warm and place them inside. When the temp. light goes off, turn off the oven. I let them rise 20-30 minutes this way.)

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. When the rolls are done top with frosting of your choice.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Pod of whales and other collective nouns

For a while now I've been thinking about collective nouns. I don't know very many, so I thought I'd look some up. There were some impressive lists out there, and now I can sound educated when I talk about a charm of finches, although I don't know when I'll ever be talking about finches. Here's a list of some that I found.
army of caterpillars
bale of turtles
barren of mules
bed of clams
bevy of quail
bouquet of pheasants
brace of ducks
brood of chicks
building of rooks
business of ferrets
cast of hawks
cete of badgers
charm of finches
clowder of cats
clutch of chicks
clutch of eggs
colony of ants
colony of penguins
company of parrots
congregation of plovers
cover of coots
crash of rhinoceroses
deceit of lapwings
descent of woodpeckers
dissimulation of birds
dole of doves
down of hares
drift of swine
drove of cattle
dule of doves
exaltation of larks
fall of woodcocks
flight of swallows
flock of birds
flock of sheep
gaggle of geese
gam of whales
gang of elk
harras of horses
herd of elephants
hive of bees
host of sparrows
hover of trout
kettle of hawks [riding a thermal]
kindle of kittens
knot of toads
labor of moles
leap of leopards
litter of pups
mob of kangaroos
murder of crows
murmuration of starlings
muster of peacocks
nest of rabbits
nest of vipers
ostentation of peacocks
pace of donkeys
pack of wolves
paddling of ducks
parliament of owls
party of jays
peep of chickens
pitying of turtledoves
plague of locusts
pod of seals
pod of whales
pride of lions
pride of ostritches
raft of ducks
rafter of turkeys
rag of colts
route of wolves
school of fish
shoal of bass
shrewdness of apes
siege of herons
singular of boars
skein of geese [in flight]
skulk of foxes
sloth of bears
smack of jellyfish
sord of mallards
sounder of swine
span of mules
spring of teal
squabble of seagulls
string of ponies
tidings of magpies
trip of dotterel
trip of goats
troop of kangaroos
unkindness of ravens
volery of birds
walk of snipe
watch of nightingales
wedge of swans
wisp of snipe

So organized I'm envious

Hurricane Lili is proving to be a very organized girl. She's another one for us to watch. Her projected path actually looks a little more menacing than Isidore's did. What was left of Isidore passed a few dozen miles to our east. My parents, in Annapolis, got more rain and wind from her than we did.

These pictures are from the GOES Satellite East Sector on the NOAA site.

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