Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Whirligigs and Rockets

As we approach the dawn of a new year here in Germany, booms, loud pops and bangs are erupting outside, interspersed with yells and dogs barking frantically. For a country that runs by a pretty extensive set of rules most of the time, the hours from 10 to 12 midnight tonight are when the masses let loose & purchase cartloads of firecrackers to set off in the street (most of which would certainly be illegal in my home state, Oregon, because they launch off the ground and fly screaming through the air, spinning crazily in all directions, while spurting fire). This is the closest my neighborhood comes to resembling a war zone.

Because I don't get quite the thrill everyone else in my family does from setting off whirligigs and rockets, I'm staying inside with the dog, who charges our back door every few seconds, determined to protect us from noises in the night. Just now, I confined him in the bathroom (no windows) because the frantic-ness outside has suddenly escalated. Well, it's time to say a hasty HAPPY NEW YEAR! and go hide under the covers. Enjoy your festivities!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Tying up loose ends

Just so I have things all tidied up, the link for my old Xanga blog is : . I like better because it's easier to use, and as far as I can tell, has quite a few more options. But that's from someone who's only beginning to explore the world of blogging, so take it with a dose of caution. Ok, that's all.

Wild West Murphy

Sad to say, we get a kick out of dressing up our corgi and taking pics--he doesn't seem to mind, as there's always a treat for him afterwards. Anyway, for your viewing entertainment, here's the latest in a series of Murphy poses. I'm feeling lazy today, and he makes me laugh.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Boarding School Thoughts

At the age of eight, my parents sent me to Windy Hill School in Mweya. It was a day's drive away from our little mission station of Murore--and I could come home every three months for a visit. I remember the day my father drove me to school for the first time. I sat in the front seat of our Jeep, watching the green hills and scrubby grass pass by, and every so often, breaking into tears and sobbing, "Please, couldn't mom teach me! Do I have to go?"

Anyway, boarding school was both a wonderful and a horrible experience. Horrible, because the dorm parents (whom I shall call the Caines) didn't seem to like most children except their own daughter, and were (in my perception, then and now) rigid and rule-bound. Wonderful, on the other hand, because I met kids my own age and formed some tight friendships, especially with red-haired Nicki, companion and fellow rebel against the Caines. It was quite a year, one I'll perhaps write about more in future posts--but fortunately, at the end of that grade, my parents relented, and allowed me to come back home for another round of homeschooling. The next year we left for the States, and into an entirely new environment...

Don't know why I'm thinking about this today, except that as 2005 ends, I've got the topic of "change" on my mind. Some changes are so easy to make, others are quite difficult. What are your times of change, and how have you reacted to them? Just curious. We're all flexible in various areas, and in various ways. Or, as the case may be, inflexible. What makes the difference?

Sunday, December 25, 2005

What Can I Give Him?

In The Bleak Midwinter
--by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But His mother only,
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Christmas Eve

We drove home yesterday from five days skiing in Austria--at least Jeff and the kids skiied. My shoulder still aches from a year ago when I fell off my bike and landed on my right arm and shoulder. Since falling is a integral part of skiing, I decided I didn't want to mess my body up any more, and opted for long walks instead. We stayed in a family-run hotel at the bottom of the Alps. Yes, postcard material...Our kids especially enjoyed the week because friends from another family came along and stayed at the same place. A fun vacation for all! Now we're home, the dog is happy about being rescued from the doggie kennel, and D and D hung the last ornaments on our tree (nicknamed "the Carniverous Christmas-Trap" for its hellish spikes). Happy Christmas Eve, everyone.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Santa Dog?

Well, if you ever read this site, now is the time for your voice to be heard. What caption would you attach to this photo? I'll have to admit, Murphy is not looking his usual perky self here. In truth, I think he felt intimidated by the Santa hat sitting precariously on his head. But who knows what goes through the mind of any four-footed creature?

Go ahead, leave a comment. You can try for either humor or seriousness. Your choice! Have fun...

Monday, December 12, 2005

Oh, Christmas Tree

Yesterday we decorated our tree. In the course of hanging our hodge-podge of ornaments, collected over more than twenty years, Anna commented, "I like it that you don't make us have all matching red glass balls and Santas, like some people." (Now, if you know anything about our family, you know this would never happen, even if we aspired to a new Christmas decor with fully coordinated colors and tasteful angels...but I was happy to hear those words). So Anna, Jeff, and I popped on an Amy Grant Christmas CD (tradition, after all) and "dressed" the blue spruce, each ornament eliciting another memory -- "I made that with popsicle sticks in Mrs. Ankeny's class." "There's the Swedish horse!" "That's my favorite, the painted globe you put in my St. Nicholas boot." We saved a few pieces of tinsel for Danielle and David, due home the tail end of this week from Grand Rapids & Grenoble. Voila, the centerpiece of our living room. Murpy isn't sure whether to avoid the tree or to pee on it, I hope he keeps his little doggie body far away.

Friday, December 09, 2005


Sunday night, I drove downtown to MTV (Mark Twain Village) for a special treat--the chapel's choral and orchestral presentation of The Messiah. Now, you need to understand something about my growing-up years. Every Christmas season, starting in about, oh, August, my mother played Handel's Messiah nonstop on the record player. I left for school in the early morning with "Every valley shall be exalted" blaring from our speakers, and arrived home late afternoon to the strains of "I know that my Redeemer liveth" wafting from the living room. In fact, I probably ended up memorizing every word without even trying, thanks to my mom. And you know what? You might think, as a result, I'd hate that particular piece of music, but you'd be wrong. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. So much so that I now inflict the same Messianic marathon upon my own children, only I start a tiny bit later, around November. Trust me, this is the essence of Christmas. Sunday night? Himmlisch...*


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Star of Wonder

You'll find these paper cut-out stars at many Christmas markets here in Germany; these were in a booth at the Heidelberg Weihnachtsmarkt. I like the way our neighbors hang lighted stars in the front windows this time of year--our street looks quite festive, and the glowing shapes remind me of an Eastern star guiding the band of wise men to Jesus so long ago.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Winter's Tale

It is a winter's tale
That the snow blind twilight ferries over the lakes
And floating fields from the farm in the cup of the vales,
Gliding windless through the hand folded flakes,
The pale breath of cattle at the stealthy sail,
And the stars falling cold,
And the smell of hay in the snow, and the far owl...

Dylan Thomas

Friday, December 02, 2005

Short Stories and Life

I'll never forget the time I turned in a short story during Martha Gies' fiction class a few years ago. The next week, each student gave me feedback. I've forgotten what most of them said, but one of Martha's comments will always stay with me. "Your main character is passive, she isn't really doing anything," Martha said. "For her to engage our interest, she can't stay passive." Now, looking back, that seems like a simple enough comment, but at the time, it was dynamite. THERE MUST BE SOME TYPE OF CONFLICT, AND THE PROTAGONIST MUST RESPOND!

The reason I'm remembering Martha's advice? Well, since moving to Germany, I've felt bewildered and befuddled many days. It's a huge effort to try and translate all the time, it takes forever to get to know my neighbors, and whenever I want to talk to family and friends in the States, they're either sleeping or gone (6-9 hours difference). I've often felt sorry for myself this past year and three months. But I don't want to be a passive character in my own life! Enough passivity, already... It drains all the joy away. So I'm going to try and apply Martha's advice each day, and see what happens. That's my early New Year's goal--moving forward, and I hope not letting myself be tossed around so much by circumstances. I know it'll take a healthy serving of God's grace to help me move out of my rut. Guess I'm getting a headstart on January.