Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I ate borscht (shown below) and pumpernickel as appetizers.
For the main course, I had Uzbek vegetarian "layer" stew, or Domlama. This is the description from the menu:
A vegetarian must: a delightful and succulent stew of potatoes, carrots, turnips, beets, tomatoes, garlic, red peppers and cabbage and a touch of cumin. The secret to this great dish is that we put all the vegetables in layers, and while they simmer for quite some time, each of the ingredients fully absorbs flavors of all the other.
It was delicious. Very garlicky though. The portion was so large that I could eat only half of it, so I have the rest for lunch tomorrow.
Finally, we drank a ton of tea in these Russian tea glasses. It was a delicious, strong current-flavored tea, and they kept refilling the glasses as soon as you'd drink about an inch. I have no idea how much I consumed. Good thing it wasn't vodka!
Oh, and Rita made me eat dessert. I had Klara’s Homemade Apricot and Plum Strudel: Strudel with Fruit Jam, walnuts, lemon and our homemade crust; served with berry sauce. It was really good--not too sweet.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
We sang this hymn on Sunday, and I love the words. I can't find an MP3 clip with the tune that we sing, but even without the music, the words are beautiful.
I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;
it was not I that found, O Savior true;
no, I was found of thee.
Thou didst reach forth thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm-vexed sea;
'twas not so much that I on thee took hold,
as thou, dear Lord, on me.
I find, I walk, I love, but oh, the whole
of love is but my answer, Lord, to thee;
for thou wert long beforehand with my soul,
always thou lovedst me.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I pick the children up at the bottom of the mountain where the orange bus lets them off in the wind. They run for the car like leaves blowing. Not for keeps, to be sure, but at least for the time being, the world has given them back again, and whatever the world chooses to do later on, it can never so much as lay a hand on the having-beenness of this time. The past is inviolate. We are none of us safe, but everything that has happened is safe. In all the vast and empty reaches of the universe it can never be otherwise than that when the orange bus stopped with its red lights blinking, these two children were on it. Their noses were running. One of them dropped a sweater. I drove them home.from Alphabet of Grace
Friday, October 17, 2008
I use them because they are considered one of the most financially responsible. (Some groups spend too much money on administration. With Compassion, 80% goes to the children.) They are also great about keeping in touch. I get letters about four times a year and photos once a year, and I can send letters to my kids online. It's been fun. Asuman and I have had exchanges about how far Uganda is from "my district" and about comparing American football to soccer.
The cost to sponsor one child is $32 a month. If that's too much, Compassion also accepts one-time donations instead of ongoing sponsorships.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Most of you know I often post photographs of my roses. I have a story about my rose garden that illustrates something important about the economy, I think.
Six and a half years ago, I lost most of my roses to an especially rough winter. I wanted to find the names of varieties that would do better in my cold climate and also learn how to care for them better, so I joined a large gardening discussion forum. It had a sub-forum devoted exclusively to discussing roses, and a huge number of people participated, some of them for a couple of hours every day.
Some of the regular posters played a sort of game with each other called "enabling." The idea was to post the most beautiful photographs and the most enticing descriptions to convince each other to buy particular roses. Many of these people were addicted to buying new roses, and several times the conversation revolved around how to hide new purchases and credit card statements from spouses. It wasn't uncommon for people to expand their rose collection to 200 or 300 roses. Some people bought that many roses in just a few years.
Many of the most coveted varieties of roses were available only from mail-order or online nurseries. Their prices ranged anywhere from $9.00 to $27.00 apiece. Plus shipping. Rose gardeners also have to buy a lot of plant food, and many use expensive chemicals to fight the diseases that the plants are prone to get. Do the math, and I think you'll see that we're talking about astonishing amounts of money. It's quite easy to spend enough on a rose garden in three or four years to purchase a good used car.
When I first started taking part in the Rose Forum, I was shocked and disapproving of the gleeful way people described their addictions and tried to tempt others into joining them in buying hundred of roses. I swore that I wasn't going to succumb. But here's the thing. I didn't stop participating in the forum. I kept staring at those sumptious photographs and reading posts about how wonderful such and such a rose was. Pretty soon I started keeping a list of roses I'd like to grow. And I started buying.
Within four years, my rose garden grew from about a dozen bushes to 73. I let myself give into the consumerist mentality of acquisition for its own sake, and because of that, my beloved roses turned into a miserable chore.
The last two years, I have found it very difficult to keep up with my rose garden. It takes a couple of weeks just to do the spring pruning and feeding. Weeding, deadheading, watering, mid-summer feeding, spraying fungicide--all those tasks take enormous amounts of time. This year, I neglected all of the roses. I made sure they had enough water when the weather was dry, but other than that, I barely did a thing. That's not an exaggeration. It's now October 16, and some of them still haven't had their spring pruning.
Because I'm not taking proper care of them, I lost several last winter. They haven't had adequate feeding this year, and many have blackspot (a fungal disease that weakens them by causing them to lose the leaves that manufacture food), so I'm certain to lose more this winter. I find myself welcoming the attrition. I think if my garden shrunk to about two dozen roses, I would enjoy them again because I could care for them without it being a burden, and I wouldn't have to feel guilty about my neglect.
I think the mistake I made with my roses illustrates in microcosm one of the problems with the U.S. economy. It's predicated on the idea that we need to buy more and more things. Advertising, like my forum buddies, tries to convince us we need products that are really just overblown wants. We're told, "Whoever dies with the most toys wins."
But owning too much stuff comes with a price. Maintenance takes time and costs money. Plus, we have to protect ourselves from losing what we've acquired. Our stuff becomes a mental burden too because it causes us worry.
McMansions, Hummers, luxury cars, personal watercraft, the latest X-Box, on and on and on. There's no end to it, really, because none of these things truly satisfy our inner needs.
There must be a better way to keep a national economy strong and healthy than this constant push to make people buy things they don't need and can't afford. I don't know enough about economics to imagine what a better national economy could be, but I'd like to see some of our national leaders engage in that difficult conversation.
As for me, I need to tend my own garden—literally—and make it more manageable. And my wardrobe. And the amount of stuff in my house. I'm tired of being a target for all the enablers out there.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Please consider what you can do to help eradicate poverty.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
PSALM 4Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah
But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.
When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.
There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”
You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound.
I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
Hope peeking through the thicket
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
See that screw head in the wall on the upper left of the photo. It's supposed to be attached to a plastic anchor, which broke into pieces. The visible anchor screw in the upper center of the photo is supposed to be embedded in the drywall. The problem wasn't just these two screws. Nearly every anchor along the 12-foot shelf had done the same thing. If it weren't for the angled buttress pieces that held the shelf from below by being screwed into studs, the whole thing would have been on the floor.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
The tall plants are banana plants with more asters at their base. I didn't notice what the striped plants are.