More certain than…

With flux seeming to dominate the economy and politics, my thoughts have turned to what’s most reliable. One relationship stands out. See if you recognize this paraphrase:

With Yahweh treating me as part of his flock,
what else could I want?
He causes me to stop and relax in meadows where my hunger can be met.
As I follow his initiative, there is ready access to refreshment that satisfies my thirst.
Here I find he’s soulfully renovating my entire life.
He dependably redirects me into patterns that demonstrate right relationships – to honor his character.
I might expect to be anxious when plodding through the depths of extremity,
but malevolent powers’ ultimate threat of death fails to intimidate me because of your constant presence.
The weapon of your just wrath and the instrument of your caring discipline: both reassure my security.
Gracious host, you feast me within plain sight of would-be powers of destruction.
You sooth and renew me head first;
stretching my capacity for satisfaction, there seems to be no end to my tab at your bar.
I have no doubt that such utter integrity and loving kindness will persist through every day I breathe,
and I so look forward to settling permanently into your hospitality,
sharing the same address as Yahweh –
for an eternity.

With apologies to an ancient David – j

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dirt sandwiches and other delicacies

Eating freshly boiled soy beans last night reminded us of boiled peanuts – not altogether a pleasant recollection for most of us. Delightful, I thought, but then I like boiled peanuts.

Here’s a concoction borne of desperation years ago when there was no jelly found in the house:

Special Sandwich or (later) Dirt Sandwich
a recipe by John and A.J. Egleston

2 slices of bread (toasted dark as “rocks” or “burnt wood”)
peanut butter (smooth or chunky “clay” or “mud”)
some brown sugar (“sand”)
a little cinnamon (“dust”)

Toast the bread, dark but not burnt. Then spread as much peanut butter as you like on one side of each slice of bread. Sprinkle some brown sugar on top of the peanut butter on one slice of bread. Then sprinkle a little cinnamon on top of the brown sugar. Turn the other slice of bread upside down on top of the slice with the brown sugar and cinnamon on it so the peanut butter seals in the rest. Cut into as many pieces as desired, or eat it without cutting it up. Enjoy!

Nutritional value: probably not much

Sharing this with A.J’s class was almost as fun as offering a variety of cheeses (including gorgonzola) with a reading of The Old Man Who Loved Cheese by Garrison Keillor. It was amazing how fast Tee and A.J. moved toward the kitchen when these were offered again recently for lunch. Dy outlawed the addition of M&M “pebbles” but chopped nuts or chocolate chips occasionally appear. (The pic comes from 2004 while we were housed in Bayview Cabin at Cedar Campus.)

None of this compares with my childhood memory of being driven almost an hour on North Georgia backroads to an all-you-can-eat fried catfish joint – and home again – by my Uncle Wyman. He reportedly died yesterday morning, and I trust is enjoying better fare.

As may you – j

the nerve of a tomato thief

It’s time to reactivate this unblog, as it’s laid dormant through most of the summer. This is one fine way to begin a day away from the office.

When I spied this tomato today, Dy commented that it’s not the first. The other day she thought Tee had left one on the table while picking. Dy brought it in, with only a small peck mark on it. Half an hour later, there was another one in it’s place – probably this roma, now about half consumed. We suspect squirrels, though none have an Italian accent we can detect.

None of us has the patience to watch for the culprit(s). The theory is that if we leave it there none of the others will be touched. We’ll see. At least until the table gets flipped for staining underneath.

The Schlossers of Cedarville may recognize this six-sided cedar picnic table. Normally it sits on our deck, but was moved deeper into the backyard this spring for the deck’s replacement. It stayed there through the deck’s staining (at two months, counter to conventional wisdom) and awaits a coat of its own once it dries out.

Hope you’re enjoying unnibbled tomatoes – j

two dumb things done

I’m sure there are more others could kindly point out, but two stand out from recent history.

The first came after gladly consuming leftovers from a Mexican restaurant Dy added to my lunch, including part of a roasted jalapeño I sliced barehanded. A little later, while consulting with a teammate, I noticed a speck of matter in my left eye’s tear duct and lightly disposed of it.

“Hello!” said my left eye, reacting to the jalapeño residue on my finger. After a trip to the bathroom, much water and soap, and tears through tight squints, both eyes recovered nicely and I returned to my work area to explain my sudden dash down the hall.

If the stinging heat is caused by oxalic acid, it’s also used as a wood bleach, marble polish and rust stain remover – came up in my recent search for deck stain solutions. It reportedly forms needle-like crystals in water, so some sort of cream or doughy bread might have brought faster relief before making matters worse. A few years ago, Dy suffered for hours after cutting up a jalapeño; now she holds any such pepper with her hand inside a baggie.

The second? As A.J. and I scouted the berry patches at Elver Park yesterday morning, my left foot found a rut in a gravel section of trail I wasn’t watching. I collapsed on a twisted ankle, giving A.J. a bit of a scare, but he calmly helped me back up and down the trail to the van. (Good thing we’d driven over with cans to get mulch from the other end of the parking lot, but even if we’d biked it wouldn’t have been too difficult to find someone with a phone.) Skipping the mulch to make the short drive home, I was glad it wasn’t my right ankle, which I injured similarly late in high school.

Tee and Dy joined us for the trip to prompt care, where the care really was prompt. We had our books along in case it wasn’t; Tee read us most of “Cow Dung Custard” from Unreal!, and Dy read their lunch book, The Wednesday Wars. The RN, x-ray technician and doctor were efficient and engaging. A.J. got to “help” wrap the temporary splint, motivated by a “10% discount.” (Arey was painting faces with friends across town.)

Turns out the three outer ankle ligaments were kind enough not to tear in the twist, but they did break a bit of the small bone to which they attach on the lower end. If I take proper care of it and healing is granted, this misstep shouldn’t threaten our planned travels later in the summer. In the meantime, it’s quite the nuisance and frequent pain. Determined not to complain – j

free IVPress shipping this month

Here’s a little shameless promotion for our favorite publisher – we get no commission, honest! Purchased via the web by Dec. 31, any order over $25 ships free – at least around the U.S.

Arey’s favorite quote from Rick James’ (CruPress publisher and Likewise author) Jesus Without Religion (IVPress 2007, p. 44): “Genre is everything. The merit of the phrase ‘eggs, chili powder, prune juice and Captain Crunch’ can only be assessed by learning whether the genre is that of a grocery list, a poem or a recipe. It’s a coherent grocery list, a lousy poem and a vile recipe.” (Think this will show up on some recipe search?)

Hit www.ivpress.com and keep those elves in Westmont, IL busy while rewarding yourself and/or others with some of the sanest quality literature by Christians for anyone. – j

Satisfaction, contentment, BBQ, Tee pix and rehab

Several guys at the office are reading The Contented Soul and discussing it over weekly lunches. Monday’s discussion of the difference between satisfaction and soul contentment led me to an experiment this week. I knew it was culminating last night at supper.

When the rest of the family left Tuesday for a two-day visit four hours south, I thought I might try to be content with the food available in the house. The breakfast foods, yogurts and leftovers were fairly satisfying, but didn’t keep me from suggesting dinner to a workmate. I got a raincheck, worked late both evenings, and avoided any spending. The quiet hours of reading took me into the wee hours, and offered a different kind of nourishment.

Everyone’s return on Thursday was followed by a supper of instant macaroni and cheese – filling, but not the baked kind A.J. and I (at least) prefer. The leftovers were delivered to me in time for lunch Friday; I’d somehow managed to forget them at home.

Last night’s dinner was delayed by my late arrival from work and the further wait for the charcoal to be ready. But was it worth it! The grilled ribs with (for most of us) Sweet Baby Ray’s bar-b-que sauce were (for me, at least) a perfect complement to Aunt Dana’s spicy preserved asparagus and slices of French bread topped with the same aunt’s strawberry jam. “Wow,” I kept saying frequently throughout the meal. A.J. got to gnaw several bones Florida Gramma would have enjoyed. We ate almost half the jar of jam, and the asparagus was finished, mostly by me.

The delicious combination was matched plentiful quantity; we usually treat meat more as a condiment than the main dish. The whole shared experience more than made up for the previous days’ slim fare and balanced the solitude. The past day had also seen Dy and I move from opposition on an important decision-making process toward collaboration, which has continued today. A measure of contentment was restored along with the physical and relational satisfaction.

Okay, enough analysis for now. Tee’s visit with the DJs at a local radio station almost two weeks ago is now visible at http://picasaweb.google.com/jdata5/TeeAtLife1025FM (or http://picasaweb.google.com/m/viewAlbum?uname=jdata5&aname=TeeAtLife1025FM&start=0 for mobile devices). The promised CD of her on-the-air chats arrived this week, and I’ve been commissioned to make at least one copy.

Meanwhile, my Mom has completed her first week of rehab from gall bladder surgery. After the previous posting, she went into the hospital and surgery soon followed, placing a drain when removal proved too risky. Not having a cell phone, we kept up by public phones and at friends we visited on the way home from Cedar. (We got to see more of Sleeping Bear Dunes [www.nps.gov/slbe/] this time too.) Your prayers will be appreciated for her fuller recovery and for safe and sustainable arrangements once she’s home. I’m looking forward to being some on-site help when visiting later this month.

Hoping you’re finding contentment with the best – j

berry berry

Woo-hoo! Black raspberries galore along the local park’s trail. If others have picked since we did last, it didn’t show. I was grateful for A.J.’s help and told him so; he decided he didn’t really need my help. To the tune of “Oh, Susanna”:

“My Dad, he is a good helper…
A little big around! [A.J.’s contributed line]
He helps me pick the berries
Wherever they are found.”

We went this time earlier in the morning – but not too early – and with long sleeves and pants. For facing the hazards of ticks, poison ivy, stray yellow jackets, thirst and hunger, we were rewarded with about five cups.

A.J. offered a lady walking the trail a handful of berries (not all ripe), which were gladly accepted. When I did the same a moment later from the other side and down a ways, she took a few more and traded a couple of the wild turkey feathers she’d found. Said that turkeys are meant to remind us to share our blessings. (Because of the first Thanksgiving?) We were generous knowing it’s God’s bounty far excelling what we could manage to grow in our yard – and this on public property.

I should have been doing my chore instead of writing, as the family’s back from the library and primed for some raspberry pankakes. Mmmmm…

Hmm, somehow can’t title this post once it’s saved. – j

"Napkins just get in the way [of eating]."

That was A.J.’s quote of the day, as we headed out the door this morning, breakfast in hand (at least). “You end up eating the napkin”…some of it, we think he means.

Speaking of eating, we’re enjoying our neighbors’ generous sharing of a vegetable co-op shipment with us this week. My personal favorite, which no one else tolerates, is the fennel.

Thinking of heading back to the berry patches soon… – j

live as I type

Rather than the typical time-delayed post, this one is in as real a time as I can manage. My usual device for typing is has no Wi-Fi to (legally, consistently) connect to at the house, and my attempts to enable Internet Connection Sharing under Windows 2000 this afternoon failed due to an IP address conflict with the ISP-provided router. The router has wireless built in but I’ve never been able to get it to provide a connection as an access point. But you don’t need or want to hear these minor complaints.

But while I’m griping, here’s a bit more: The old middle back is feeling it from leaning over to spray bleach solution under the deck – on top of the drilling regimen this morning. Did I mention that we’ve been soaking a foot or two up and away from the wall around the outside of the house each week or so to try to persuade earwigs from wandering inside. I’m told it’s been helping, and it’s worth it not to be asked by Arey to squish a few when I’m already in bed and she’s decided to go downstairs to head that way.

Okay, enough of that. The lunch salad was delicious. Non-essential but very welcome ingredients: bleu cheese dressing, sunflower seeds and cracker crumbs.

My goal this session is to upload and embed at least one photo so this blog can begin to get a facelift. The template is nice, but I can save a lot of typing since a picture is worth… Actually, a few screen shots in my most recent illustrated how-to article for coworkers (Outlook to Word mail merge contacts to labels, nothing too exciting) did save several dozen words. I knew it was coming when my developing text said something about the eleventh (!) button from the left on a toolbar – and had to describe which toolbar.

Okay, I’ve begun the Blogger FAQ article “How do I post pictures?” and things look hopeful. Am I going to say to my self, “Why didn’t I get this before?” when I’m done? The prompt for an actual image reminds me I have several that need to be cropped…back in a minute.

Okay, that was more than a minute. The GIMP is my (and Arey’s) tool of choice, BTW. I’m still finding my way around 2.x, as they made the menuing more consistent. Nothing digital corrects a smudged lens, tho.

After three times following the instructions and clicking the Done button…it’s still not done it. Of course I can post them to www.jdata.name and insert HTML tags, or use Picasa, flickr, etc. – but this is nuts. Calling it a day – j

Thirsty Thursday the Thirtieth

It’s not quite here, so there’s still time to prepare. Here’s what anyone needs to know:

  • Thirsty Thursday the Thirtieth is an irregular holiday, occurring on any Thursday which falls on the thirtieth day of any month. (Why is it usually said the other way around – that a date falls on a day of the week?) Thus there can be several a year.
  • The only mandated means of celebration is the enjoyment of soda (or pop, depending on your region) with other participants. We prefer root beer, but soda is a rare commodity in our household, so just about any flavor will do. A.J. and John, as originators of the tradition, are sure to celebrate. Others may join as they wish.

But why? For the curious, here’s the background.

The origin of the holiday rests squarely in the bedtime conversation of one little boy with his father – both members of this immediate family. Somehow, the son thought the dad meant “thirsty” when he said “Thursday” – or was it the other way around? (Thirsty mistaken for Thursday, not the son speaking.) In any case, the two of them experimented with the sound of the two words – it doesn’t take much to encourage the delay of sleep, or to lead some types to search for a bad pun – and since the 30th was a Thursday and only a few days away…the rest is history.

Why not the thirteenth, especially as that word is more easily slurred into resemblance with the first two? Fair question. Our choice was probably influenced by the fact that one of our birthdays sometimes coincides with this arrangement, not to mention a grandparent’s. If you want to initiate your own holiday, please feel free. We’ll be the first to join you – if you let us know!

A.J. was plenty excited about sharing this tradition with folks this way. What he doesn’t yet know is that our celebration is already planned for this Thursday with the two of us enjoying our cans of root beer while walking home from the office. It turns out that currently Thursdays are our guys’ evening “in” while Dy shuttles the young women to dance and piano lessons.

Kinda thirsty already – j