Saturday, April 28, 2012

Yeast, An Ancient Culture

The best breads are made with yeast.  They have that heavenly, just-made aroma that makes my mouth water. And that soft, cushiony  texture that melts in your mouth. 

Yeast breads take hours to make. Compared to "quick breads," that you mix and stick into the oven and they're done in minutes, yeast breads involve a process that generally takes hours:  mix the starter in warm milk or warm water and sugar and let it grow in a warm place.  When it's ready, mix in lots of flour and maybe some more sweetener.  Cover the lump and put in a warm place for a couple hours, or until it doubles in size.  Punch it down (literally) and roll it into a ball again, put back into a warm place and until it doubles again.  Then form it into loaves or buns and bake until done, which for a loaf could be another hour.  Hungry yet?

Yeast was well known in Bible times.  (They had not yet discovered baking powder.)  Bread baked without yeast was "unleavened," and resembled crackers more than loaves.  (Matzoh is an example.) 

Jesus warned his followers to "beware the leaven of the Pharisees."  The Pharisees considered themselves to be the experts on the Law of the time.  Jesus wasn't talking about their bread, but their teachings.  I believe he was warning about the expanded interpretation the Pharisees were giving to the Law.  They were distorting it to the extent that it was no good anymore.  The law was no longer pure, as it was when it had been given to people by God. This can happen to yeast, as to laws.  It was and still is a good warning.


When I was young my mother started an exercise program called "XBX's."  XBX was an abbreviation for "Ten Basic Exercises." It was designed by the Air Force, a graduated program to increase strength and endurance for basic muscle groups, including legs, shoulders and middle.  My mother wasn't too enthusiastic about the exercises, and the book became mine. I never made much progress through the program, but it was easy to memorize the first few days in the program, and easy to do them.  No equipment required, and in 10 minutes I could check off exercise for the day.

The funny part is that I will do almost anything rather than the exercises.  I'll do an hour of yardwork, and say that I've already done my exercises.  Or a couple hours of shopping. Vacuuming.  Painting the deck rails.  Weeding.  You get the idea.

Having the exercise program does help keep me fit, if only to avoid doing them.  Can I be contrary or what?  And not only with exercises.  God certainly has a lot of work to do with me.  Thankfully He is very patient.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Big purple flowered pendants decorate the pergola over my back deck. Big black bumblebees buzz among the flowers, intent on their rich harvest of pollen.  The heavy scent of purple blooms drifts through the warm spring air.  Guests admire the abundance of blossoms.

Later, in summer, the wisteria leaves protect the house from the hot morning sun. Big brown pods grow, and then explode in the heat, throwing penny-sized seeds around the deck.  Next year those seeds will try to grow anywhere they find a piece of open soil.

In autumn the leaves turn yellow and fall to the deck, allowing the cooling sun to filter through the webbing of stems down to the deck surface.

I prune and sweep and the cycle repeats.  Sometimes I resent all the work, as the wisteria plant tries to take over the world, starting with roof of my house.  But do I enjoy the flowers, the shade and the yearly predictability.

It's amazing to contemplate the creation of this thing, even these individual flowers.  They are not something I, a mere basketmaker and dyer could design. It's another reason to be in awe of our Creator God.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


There's a view from my window of trees, grass, rocks, distant hills and far distant mountains.  I could spend hours watching the birds, flowers, grass and wind. 

My previous home also had a view, with vineyards, a country road, and the local cats and chickens (and a random boy or two)  (What's he doing in that tree?!).  Another place I lived had a city view, of tops of houses and trees, and extravagant sunsets.  My life has been blessed with homes with views. You'd think I'd get down to it and paint them.

I could say something philosophical about views "broadening your horizon" and therefore your thinking.  Actually you can get that from watching chickens (or young boys) with a lot more laughs.

The views are lovely, but I didn't learn about beauty so much from the views as from the art prints my mother would hang on the walls at home. 

What is the great thing about views then?  It does rest the eyes, and therefore the mind.  And I may have learned something in writing this.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Unemployment hangs over your head like an oppressive dark gray cloud.  How do you get out from under it?  Spend hours completing online applications, never to hear anything back.  Read the classified newspaper listings, where there may be ten listings, including management executives, computer programmers, plumbers, preschool teachers, and help for assisted living places. Either not qualified or something that would drive a person crazy.

Why does God allow people who are willing to work, and not too picky about how much they earn, to remain unemployed?  Is that fair?  No.  "Life isn't fair," as we have heard before.  Is life still good?  Yes, actually.  I have yardwork and home improvement projects to keep me busy for a long time.  So far we have some savings. And we have been able to stay out of the hospital. Despite a temptation to worry, we must cling to the knowledge that God is good, He knows all about it, and is wiser than we are.  Thank you, Lord.

Monday, April 23, 2012


I am so happy! My taxes are done. Happy bunny dance!

It is such an ordeal every year, and I am too stubborn to believe I can't do this. So every year I start early and spend time on taxes, for an hour a day or until I get a headache, whichever comes first.  This year I finished by the end of March with both federal and state taxes.  Phew.

Have they always had taxes? Did they have taxes at the time of Christ's life on earth? They did, as we know from the Bible.  Peter asked Jesus if they were going to pay Caesar's tax. Peter was a fisherman. Jesus told him to catch a fish, which Peter did. The fish Peter caught had a coin in its mouth that was enough to pay the taxes for two people. Jesus told him to take the coin to pay for Peter's and Jesus' taxes.

A small miracle.  Enough to make you smile, or breathe a sigh of relief if you care about the people involved. 

Jesus taught and practiced obedience to the proper authorities. (This continues to be a real challenge for Christians, especially the more rebellious ones.)

But God provided, as He has a way of doing, for those who trust Him.

I've known God long enough to be comfortable with the idea of paying taxes, even if I don't appreciate what the "authorities" decide to do with them.  So I'm happy that our tax returns are completed again this year.  And, happily, although we need to send in money, at least it's not going to break the bank.

We obey. God provides.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


I am amazed at the beauty and variety of sunsets. Glorious, colorful, brightly lit sunsets. Not every evening, but often. I love to watch them, and I have taken way too many sunset pictures.  But have you noticed that every sunset is new and different?  They have different cloud patterns, different reflections of varying bright colors painted across the sky, sometimes iridescent, sometimes muted.  And always changing:  no re-takes!

And if I move to get a  better vantage point, it's completely different there.  If you think about it, the view of the sunset across town right now is different from the view from here.  Different colors, different shades. And it's different in the next town, and across the state.  It's not the same sunset that was seen a few thousand miles away. They had a different display. Every place in the world gets their own unique sunset movie every night. 

Meanwhile, at any time of the day, the sun is setting somewhere. An almost infinite variety of sky drama is happening in progression around the world.  Is this mind-boggling to you as it is to me?

The Creator who is having all this fun making sunsets, all across the world, every night, is the same Creator who loves you and me more than His sunsets or any physical thing. That is also mind-boggling, amazing, glorious. (Note to self: remember this.) 

Friday, April 20, 2012


I like randing. Randing in basketmaking is a one-over, one-under weave.  No twisting, no skipping a spoke, no counting a fancy pattern, no starting and stopping.  Just one over, one under, one over, one under.  If weaving on an uneven number of spokes, just keep going around and around the basket. Sure, you will have to splice when you come to the end of a weaver, but then it's more of the same.  I can do randing without looking, without counting. Soon I'm at the top of the basket.  Time to make a border  to tie in the ends at the top.  There, a new basket has been made.

It reminds me of life.  Much of life is routine, not too thrilling.  Just keep on going, being productive, and pretty soon there is a day done, a project finished, a life enriched.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quiet Time

I will respond to Nikki's post about Quiet.*

My quiet time is early in the morning, most days.  My thought input is from the Bible.  I just read a little beyond what I read the day before.  I reflect on what it says, and try to figure how that would affect my life.  People who lived a long time ago had the same trials and triumphs, conflicts and desires that we have now.  "There is nothing new under the sun."  And, better to learn from what someone else has done than make all those mistakes myself, I think. 

Thank you, Lord, for showing me the way.

* It's on her blog at

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Painting, as art on a canvas, is difficult.  That is, for me it is.  People have told me I have talent in painting.  But it is such a struggle for me.  A struggle to decide what to paint.  How to paint it.  Even harder, how to finish a painting once started.  So, unfinished paintings hang on my walls, waiting to be completed, there for me to contemplate.  There are some that are finished, and framed, or not.  Some I really like.  But actually painting one is not something I cheerfully anticipate.

I have a disconnect with God on this point.  Of course it starts with my attitude toward painting, which is cross.  Such a big "pain" in "pain"ting.  As usual, the disconnect between me and God is on my end.  He is always there, always available, always lovingly waiting to hear from me.  Have you ever been in such a disconnect?  Time (for me, and maybe for you) to get back to His plan on this.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Onions, Onions, Onions

Onions, Onions, Onions

Onions, as everyone knows, are wonderful, healthful vegetable orbs that can be cooked into many kinds of dishes, including pizza, salads, casseroles, breads, soups and bagels.  So yummy. (Soup recipe below.)

The healthful attributes of onions include having antibiotic properties which, when the onion is freshly cut open and eaten raw, can fight infections.  Unlike garlic, raw onions are not reputed to repel witches, but could repel just about anybody else.

In symbolism onions may picture successive layers, such as when a person delves into the hidden layers of their (or someone else's) personality.  This can be healthful or make your eyes weep, or both, just like onions.  God has advised us to "know yourself," and not to think "more highly" of yourself than you ought to think.  Peeling back some of those layers can help prevent over-rating one's self.  (At least in my case it does.)
Recipe for Onion Soup
Have a large pot of water or beef broth coming to a boil on the stove.  Take a sharp knife and with the water running, cut off the top and bottom of one or two onions and remove the dry outer layers of the onion.  Rinse the onion, the knife and your hands in the running water as necessary, to prevent excessive tearing from your eyes. (Note: do not touch your eyes with your oniony fingers.  Try it, and you will know why.)  As quickly as is safe, cut the onion in half, and with the flat sides down, cut it into wide slices or chunks. Slide the pieces into the boiling water and, reduce heat to a simmer (simmering makes little bubbles).  Add whatever else you like and have on hand, such as: a small amount of salt, pepper, bay leaf, cut-up celery, mushrooms, a splash of wine.  Wash the knife, your cutting board and your hands with soap and warm water as soon as practical.
Cook the onion soup, covered if possible, until all the vegetables are tender. Taste to see if it needs more salt or pepper. Serve the soup in large bowls. Good with bread, or a little grated cheese or sour cream on top, and maybe some raw veggies like tomatoes or sweet peppers on the side.  Um-m.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Night Eyes

"Tiger, tiger, burning bright, in the forests of the night..."
This ancient poem by William Blake stirred my adolescent imagination with multiple exotic images, tiger eyes, eyes burning, jungle greenery, night stars, and more.  (1)

Now, the eyes I know to be looking in the night are watchful, caring eyes.   God, who cares about us and only wants the best for us, can see in the dark of the night as clearly as in the day.  (Psalm 139:12) .  "He who watches Isreal neither slumbers not sleeps."  As God knows all things, I'm sure he's watching over me also.

(1) Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.
William Blake. 1757–1827
489. The Tiger
TIGER, tiger, burning bright   
In the forests of the night,   
What immortal hand or eye   
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?   

In what distant deeps or skies             5
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?   
On what wings dare he aspire?   
What the hand dare seize the fire?   

And what shoulder and what art   
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?      10
And when thy heart began to beat,   
What dread hand and what dread feet?   

What the hammer? what the chain?   
In what furnace was thy brain?   
What the anvil? What dread grasp      15
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?   

When the stars threw down their spears,   
And water'd heaven with their tears,   
Did He smile His work to see?   
Did He who made the lamb make thee?      20

Tiger, tiger, burning bright   
In the forests of the night,   
What immortal hand or eye   
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?   

Saturday, April 14, 2012


and the shortage thereof.  There are people now who can't find jobs, or well-paying jobs. Empty storefronts show that businesses have closed. About a year ago I started looking for work, but found it frustrating and time-consuming. So this year I am working on do-it-myself home improvement and the never-ending yardwork.  I've been making beautiful scarves and just getting to the point where that small business is paying for itself.

God who tells us not to worry, who loves us, informs us that he is the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills.  Driving here from town I pass through about three miles of cattle country.  So I'm a little interested in this.  Cattle on the hoof can cost several thousand dollars.  Each.  How many cattle on a hill?  Maybe 50, 100, 200?  That makes up to several hundred thousand dollars on a hill, on each of a thousand hills.  That doesn't count deer, elk, pigs, chickens, forests, wheat and corn and soybeans. 

Okay, now let me see, what was I worrying about?

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Lion and the Lamb

The Lion and the Lamb

Looking for peace? In the new world, after this one is destroyed, it says, the lion will lie down with the lamb (and not eat it.)  That's a peaceful existence.

In a different word-picture, the lion of Judah is the savior and leader.  Big, ferocious, undaunted, the lion is called king of beasts.  The savior of Judah is also pictured as a lamb.  Quiet, submissive to the evil designs of the world leaders of the day, he was seen as a threat by those leaders and eliminated. Who is the better leader? The one with kindness and self-sacrifice, or the one who is decisive and assertive?  Who will lead to ultimate peace?

My take: be careful whom you chose to follow.  There are still people out there speaking platitudes of peace and status quo. Yet there is no peace. Likewise there are people who will follow whomever they think has power.  How would you know who is best to follow?  The rebels without a cause?  The rebels with any cause?  The ones in power who say it's for your own good?  (How do they know?  Does that mean it's for their own good?)

Pick your causes and your leaders carefully. As a wise man once said, "Lest we may be found to be opposing God himself."

Thursday, April 12, 2012


Who are the most famous kings, the best leaders?

Most well-known for hundreds of years, in Western civilization, were  David and Solomon.  David, youthful slayer of the giant Goliath, was known for his love and reverence of God. He wasn't soft-spoken about that, or anything!  Solomon, David's son, was very wise as a king. However, didn't he mess up his personal life with too many women and too many horses?  He lost direction, lost sight of his Lord.

Here in the United States, everyone has a chance to direct his or her own destiny.  In a sense, every one is his (or her) own king.

 In the opportunities and set-backs of life, we can take charge.  Let's not waste the opportunities. Let's not let the challenges or distractions rob our spirits of hope and joy.

Unlike Solomon, let's keep our eyes on the best source of wisdom, God.  Like David, let's keep our hearts directed toward the author and strength of life, and that's God.

Love you! Dear readers, thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Jazz is laughter to my soul.  It is a reflection, even a release of inner tension. After growing up with the daily background sound of classical music, and understanding its predictable patterns, the rhythms of jazz became a joy to my soul.  Syncopation, slides, soulful expressions in soft or loud, jazzy music sang the emotions of my heart.

Sometimes considered "low," "common," or "unrefined" in my home, as compared to the more architectural classical music, jazz was not commonly available to my young ears. Nevertheless, I loved it.  My favorite piano study in fourth grade included syncopated rhythm.  So fun!

Does God like jazzy music?  Of course he does!  He especially likes anything that expresses the honesty of a person's inner feelings.  Be honest, is his great request.  ("Do not be double-minded.")  An honest person knows that there's imperfection in the universe, but it's amazing that there is a God who is perfect.  He loves us, even if we are a little off-beat.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

the Idealist

Idealism is the province of the young.  Usually, young people are the ones who believe we can stop war, feed all the hungry, house the homeless, share and love.  The world needs idealism.

After a few (or more) years, cynicism creeps in. "Seen that, been there, done that," "and look where we are today"-- "nothing works."

Two opposite points of view.  There's validity on both sides.  For those who are fed, housed, kept from war or slavery, given a chance to follow their dreams, to these individuals, the works of mercy  have been so important, on a real-life, nitty-gritty experiential level.  For those who have been saved, once or more than once, I rejoice.  For those who have not been touched by the care/ idealism of others, I ache.
For those who live in the frame of mind where nothing helps, nothing matters, real change is impossible, I'm sorry.  The world is getting worse, but there are bright spots, everyday heroes, everyday kindnesses.

"Love your neighbor," says God.  Even more challenging is the "love your enemies."  Great ideals to strive for, whether we see the world as hopeless or just needing some work.

Monday, April 9, 2012

History in genealogy

I love the detective work of finding out about my forebears.  I'm fascinated by their lives without electricity, indoor plumbing, hospitals, cellphones!  How did they do it?  What kind of people were they, and what were they concerned about?

When I find a birth certificate, death certificate or census record, the usual sources of historical clues about individuals, it's a small treasure, but tells me little of their actual stories. A rare find is a newspaper or book article.   There once was a long newspaper article about a great grandmother and all she did for her church.  It was stuck in the inside cover of her family Bible.  It's not there now; my mother "cleaned it out."  -sigh-

Why this fascination for family history?  I think because they are my family and they always will be.  They don't change or go away.  Also, many of their struggles are the same as ours, loss of a loved one, marital discord, financial downturns. How did they deal with them?

In the Bible God warned against pursuing "endless genealogies," and they are endless!  They double with every generation back!  But I think the problem was the temptation for people to rate themselves based on who their ancestors were.  ("I'm purer bred than you are," or "I'm descended from kings.")  God wants us to realize that our importance is based not on our relationship to people before us, but on our relationship to Him.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Grace happens

Grace happens.  God takes joy in graciously giving us happy surprises.

Many people do not know God. If you don't know God, you may not understand this post, but it's for especially for you.  A gift, a clue to finding true peace and happiness.

First, know that God is the source of everything good: peace, joy, love, hope, kindness, patience.  Then, knowing God personally brings that underlying knowledge and feeling that everything will ultimately be right. 

In the end, God who is good, will win over the bad.  That's because he is more powerful than anything else.  He allows, but doesn't like evil.  Why does one who is good allow evil?  He wants us to be able to make our own choice in our every moment, every day.  However, people often choose the bad thing.  Those bad choices throw the world into the control of evil, and we get consequences worse than we thought we would.  We've all seen this, right?

Despite all our wrong choices, God gives us some excellent surprises:  sunsets, good news from a friend, a hug from a dear one, penicillin, an unexpected check.  Hey, be thankful for whatever it is.

I'm afraid this is a heavy post, and if you've read this far, I commend you.  Wanted to make sure you knew.  Any questions?  Contact me, or someone you know who knows God.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Cold, wet, gray, fog is not my favorite thing. I love sunshine, warmth, blue skies and bright flowers.

There was a time at college that fog settled in and stayed for two weeks. Two weeks of gray, damp and cold. That was the first time I remember a depressive feeling settling on me whenever I went outside.  Oh for sunny days and a warm south wind bringing the aroma of cows.  Yep, that's what it brought.  And a nice hour-long bike ride in the sun, a tennis match or a long run. Those were happy days.

Now, for the health of my skin, the fog is probably better than the drying sun.  Some say that before the deluge of Noah, there was water above the atmosphere.  That may have protected their skin and their DNA from ultraviolet rays.  That may be one reason why Methuselah and his sons lived hundreds of years.

Okay, so there's good and not so good about fog.  Still, fog is not my favorite thing.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


I remember the just-gathered eggs we had when we raised chickens.  There's just no comparison to store-bought eggs, which generally were refrigerated for months before being sold.  By then their taste reminded one of styrofoam. Home grown eggs were sweet and rich and soft and smooth and just made you feel good. 
Our chickens wandered around the yard, pecking at grass, bugs, sand, whatever.  It was so fun to watch them, showing their full petticoats when they bent over to peck, clucking or squawking at each other. "Um, yummy," "Hey, look out, you!"  They rushed over to see what another hen had found.  They were hilarious.
They came programmed with a whole set of behaviors, the pecking, the clucking, the making eggs.  They are one of the original natural foods.  I'm so thankful to God for creating chickens and eggs.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


There are deer in my garden.  I live on the edge of civilization, well, not really. We have internet and paved streets.  I live beyond the sidewalks and among the trees, bushes, grass, weeds.  I love it.  But the deer love it, too.

I have some plants that survive our weather, but not the deer.  Flowers, vegetables, any growing thing below five feet tall is subject to sampling by the deer.   Once I grew cucumbers.  One day there were a few bites out of the leaves.  The next day the cucs were all gone!  "Share," says my mother-in-law.  I said, "Those deer don't share!"  The exasperation!

More recently I've come to enjoy deer in my garden. I spray the flowers with repellant. I have a fence around my vegetable garden.  I let the deer trim my trees up to "here" and eat all the grass they want. Now I call them my yard crew.

Looking out the window I check the view for tell-tale ears in the tall grass, or among the bushes and rocks, big ears spread like a "V."  Some deer lounging in my yard.  Sometimes there are a couple little guys taking their first stumbly steps.  The mothers bring their little ones back here to eat all the good stuff, rest in the tall grass or on the lawn, drink from the little pond. 

You could say, God provides for all his creatures.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


As had been said, going to church doesn't make a person a child of God any more than walking into a garage makes you a car.   So what does a church do?   What makes a church?

You've seen church buildings. Little white buildings with steeples on top, or modern stucco and brick structures with a naked cross on the front, or huge tall brick or stone things with lots of architectural detail. There are others. What's your favorite kind of church?

Churches are also collections of people. They may build a newer building or move to a different neighborhood.  It's the same church-- same group of people, same church name.

There is also a church that has life, just like people have something called "life," of a different kind.  This live church is not visible.  In fact, even members of this live church can't tell for sure who else is in it! (or not!)  But God, the Spirit who gives life, knows.  All people who belong to God are his real "church."

Are you in?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Basket Making

I am a basket maker. Basket making has a long history. In the Bible, St. Paul escaped Damascas by being let down from the city wall in a basket. I admire that basket. It must have been large and very well made to carry a man down a city wall.

It's obvious that someone made that basket. But who made the man? Was he just a collision of bits of protoplasm, collections of molecules, that "happened" one day or one night?  If someone said that my baskets were "lucky coincidences," I would not think highly of that person. I know what goes into making a basket, the calculations, the selection and preparation of materials, the practice my hands have had in holding things at the right spaces at the right times, the planning for the right use, size and shape.

So, too, something that is made that is beyond my ken, must have been well planned, known, selected and shaped in someone's mind before it came into being: a house, a car, a computer.  How about a tree, a cat, a man?  How about St. Paul? The mind of God is way beyond what we can comprehend.  How great a mind to formulate and create these things.  Beauty, life, a human mind, what kind of mind can create those?  Certainly worthy of awe.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What do you do with ants? A trail of ants walks across my driveway, from one side to the other.  I know that if I drive over them, a bunch of them will get killed. And I have to drive that way. How else will I get my car out of my driveway? I have things I need to do, places to be, appointments to keep.
I would like to tell them, "Don't walk that way. A big car is coming, and you will die!"
I have in fact told the ants that came into my kitchen, "Go away. Stay away. I will have to wash you down the drain." But they don't go away. They keep coming. So I wash them down the drain.
Ants are like people. You can tell them things that are advantageous for them to know. But will they listen? Will they act on it? Not usually.
This is a word-picture of our relationship with God. He knows what is not good for us, and wants us to know, for our own advantage, our survival.  Do we listen? Not much. 
In fact, most people are like the ants, following each other's path, not even aware that someone much bigger and wiser is trying to communicate something important to us. 
The ants do not hear what I say. They do not even know I am there, although it's pretty clear to me. Ants have no conception that there is a human out there.  They don't know I am aware of them. They don't know I have the power to destroy them, but don't want to.  Even more, they don't know that humans invented and made things like cars, driveways, kitchens and crumbs.
It's like that with God. Most people don't know that there is someone that much more intelligent than they are who's aware of them and what they are doing.  They don't know the incredible difference in intelligence between them and this larger being. They don't know that this larger being has feelings and cares about what they are doing.  Oblivious. Busily, dumbly headed for big trouble.
Hey people, don't be like the ants.