About Me

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Tennessee, United States
Retired teacher living in East Tennessee, adjusting to life in the land of round door knobs. Photographer for our local animal shelter and foster of many dogs and kitties. Don't ask me how many dogs I have, but my son got me one of those "I'm the crazy dog lady" sweatshirts.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Three Pies

Here's my contribution to today's Thanksgiving feast.
From left to right: pecan pie, pecan/pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie.
I'm hard pressed to say which one is my favorite. They all look yummy.
With possibly tough economic times ahead for many, I hope everyone can still find many blessings to be thankful for. The food is just a perk.
Still, we must do our duty. Eat while you can.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ladybug and First Snow

Winter is here, not officially, of course, but the first snow has fallen and all creatures great and small have sought shelter. Earlier in the week, I found a ladybug on a glass drying on the dish rack in the kitchen. When I gently tipped it off the glass onto my hand, it lay there on its back waving its miniscule little legs in the air. Ah, good, it was alive.

I moved it a very short distance and dropped it on the African violet that sits  on the counter next to the rack, wondering what circumstances had let it to settle on such an unforgiving and useless surface as a glass, when next to it was a perfectly good plant with soft dark leaves. That will remain a mystery. I checked back later. No sign of the ladybug. Hopefully, she is deep within the world bound by the plant and its pot and will emerge again come Spring.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Getting away from it all - Die Hütte

Those little huts you see, often in little garden communities or off in the woods, are a great German tradition. We were invited last Sunday to visit one belonging to a couple, Ella and Wolfgang. Like Jim, they are amateurfunker, amateur radio operators. They live in the industrial north of Germany, but come down twice a year to spend a few weeks in their little hut in the woods near Idar-Oberstein.

The land was once a vineyard and is on the side of a steep hill overlooking the Nahe river valley. The vines, except for a couple of stubborn survivors, all died during an outbreak of phylloxera (vine louse). Now, the formerly treeless plot is well shaded and hidden by mature trees planted by Ella's family. To reach the hut, you must park on the road and walk down a steep grassy path that zigzags back and forth a tenth of a kilometer, and when you leave, you get to experience the steep hill in reverse!

The hut was built by Ella's father and two brothers in 1960. Everything is made by hand, except for a few later additions, such as kitchen cabinets. But, even those, they found in second-hand shops and made to fit. The outhouse is a little further down the hill. There is a workshop for Wolfgang's tools next to the hut, and a guest hut next door, which they bought from former owners.

Rainwater is collected in a tank under the roof, and from there flows via hoses to the kitchen and to a couple of shower sites outside. And no, the water is NOT heated. One bathes au naturel an invigorating experience, but not for the faint of heart. The hut is heated by a stove that used to belong to Ella's aunt. It has a flat surface for cooking, and a deep container that holds a large quantity of coal or wood, so that it does not have to fed often. Electricity, used only to read before bedtime, run the amateur radio and the hair dryer (a woman must do what needs to be done!), comes from a solar panel attached to the roof. Most evening activities take place by candlelight. Cabinets are found under the windows, over the doors, wherever storage can be made. The cooler is built into the side of the hill. Like a ship, everything has a place, and efficient use has been made of every nook and cranny.

The lesson here is that one needs very little to get out in nature and relax, no house on wheels, no air conditioning, no microwave, no videogames, no internet. One can go home and have those things, all in good time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Next Civil Rights Movement

Even as America celebrates bringing down the race and gender barrier to the White House, the not-so-new prejudice against homosexuals, currently exemplified by Proposition 8 in California, shows we still have a long way to go on our road to spiritual perfection. Homosexuals are always going to be a minority. It's just a statistical reality, and they should not have to depend on the majority to allow them basic civil rights. These should be guaranteed by the Constitution.

It is not a crime to be a homosexual. People who are homosexual pay taxes, hold jobs, buy property, raise children, and have the same basic needs and desires as anyone else. They want what we all want, security, love of family, and to be a welcome part of the broader community. Like the children of Martin Luther King, they each deserve to be judged on the content of their character, not on a genetic disposition that God gave them. 

Jesus didn't waste time chastising people for their sexual practices. He was too busy ministering to their souls. The only group he got really mad at was the moneychangers. Like him, I despise thieves, but people who are loving and law-abiding? Isn't that what we want? To some, a philandering heterosexual male is still preferable and more forgivable than a loving, monogamous homosexual male, despite the clear lack of character of the former.

When my children were teenagers and asked me about this topic, I told them, I don't care who you love, but I care that you treat people well. Don't cheat in a relationship. Be faithful. Be kind. These are the qualities that I believe Jesus demands of us. These are the qualities that matter.

There is so much suffering in the world. We should be addressing that, not imposing undeserved suffering on our brothers and sisters. He died for us all
He loves us all.
No exceptions. 

Jesus Making a Heart
, pencil drawing by Jaison Cianelli
You can purchase Jaison's art at Cianelli studios.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Dream Come True

For those of us old enough to remember Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, today is a dream long deferred, but finally come to light. I remember his "I have a dream," speech. I remember when students first sat around singing "We shall overcome," and it wasn't trite, it wasn't overdone. It was a fervent dream of a better tomorrow for our country. Today, we took a big step forward.

Some people voted the other way and have their own fears to deal with. Hopefully, the next four years will go a long way to reassuring them that the boogeymen they were warned about were fabrications of the opposition. Hopefully, the people will join together to repair the damage that has been done over the past 8 years to our economy, our infrastructure, our military, our standing in the world.

But, however people may feel about the particular issues, the fact is that from now on we have broken down the barriers. From today forward America will be able to choose its leaders based on ability, not color of skin or gender.

Change has come to America. God bless us every one.