Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Frenchman's Bay, Maine

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Time to Rant

Ok, a little rant in the next few paragraphs. Because this is on my mind, and I haven't been able to shake it. To set the scene, since January, I've been going to a women's Bible study in English. Which is very good and fine, and I think it's helpful for me to be there, overall. Especially because looking into the Word gets my mind off myself (which is where it's tended to focus quite often the last year and a half) and onto paying more attention to God and other people.

But. There's something that's been bugging me. And I don't quite know what to do about it. Two very vocal women attend the same study. And when we split off, about a month and a half ago, into smaller groups, they just happened to pick the same small group which I'd chosen (I didn't know this ahead of time).

The first woman, J., is a bit older than me, but not much. When she mentioned the college from which her daughter recently graduated, I said, "Oh! I went there too!" excited that we had something in common. Immediately, J. asked me, "Don't you think they've become really liberal? It's such a shame," and so on, and when I responded that I didn't really think my alma mater was moving down the path towards *intake of breath* liberalism, she continued to speak disparagingly about a college that I respect and of which I have fond memories, even if some of their stances are more conservative than mine at this point in my life. Then, a few weeks later, I heard J. telling another woman how fortunate she is that her son attends Bible school, rather than Wheaton! Excuse me? Aren't we as followers of Christ supposed to serve together, and "they'll know we are Christians by our love?" Am I being too idealistic?

My second beef: another young woman in my small group, L., is constantly letting the rest of us know that her Bible is the "only truly correct version." I believe that L. means well--but, unfortunately, so do some chefs, who then serve overdone fish and wilted lettuce. A few Thursdays ago, L. handed out a little pamphlet talking about how every translation but the King James Bible is a perversion and will lead us astray. I tried to dialogue with L., and mentioned how important it is to go back to the original languages to understand a passage fully, but she basically told me, "Why would I want to do that, when I have the version where it's already been translated the most accurately?" Aargh...I could shoot myself sometimes. (not really, don't get worried, hyperbole). L. each week leads the discussion away from the main question and back towards her favorite topic of how God has shown her the best Bible, and so we should just throw away our NIVs and NRSVs and any other versions, right now. The leader, sadly, doesn't seem able to divert L. and redirect the group to the current verses under study.

It's not that I avoid controversy. I'm just tired of conflict over silly things! Especially by Christians against other Christians -- who are also trying to obey God and live in this world in a way that faithfully reflects Jesus.

I'm still trying to decide whether to even engage further in disputes with the two women, or to just let it go and laugh (internally) if they start standing on their particular soapboxes. The latter route's the one I'm tending towards at the moment. What would you do? At first, I wanted to stop going, but that's a cop-out.

Addendum: As I read over this post later, I hope it doesn't come across whiny or arrogant. Frustrated would be the tone I'm wanting to communicate...And also, just so you know, I don't really like the terms "liberal" and "conservative" as a way of putting someone or something in a box; just couldn't think of another way to say it.

Monday, February 27, 2006


Ok, I'm tired already of this sore throat and cough. It's keeping me awake, even with Vicks cough syrup. Ugh. Think I'll go drink some hot lemon and honey water (Mom's remedy), and see if that helps. As a last resort, maybe gargle with salt water (Jeff's mom's remedy). At least there's no shortage of accumulated folk wisdom in our combined families.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


And now, I pause to say -- ¡Felíz cumpleaños! Javier -- I will love you forever and a day.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Red Beets & Pickled Eggs

Today I'm eating red beets in honor of my mother. Or, more specifically, rote bete--gekocht und geschalt, sliced in neat little rounds. Beets always make me think of Mom, along with pickled eggs, because she often had them in the fridge when I was growing up. Now I'm seeing how many of Mom's special food-loves are particular to Germany, at least this southern region. Hmmm...coincidence? No, I doubt it, since many of her roots are here! But I never made the connection before. Also, sour cherries were high on Mom's list, especially in a sour cherry pie baked with cherries fresh off our backyard tree on Clinton street. Yum! And guess what, I've seen more sour cherry items in the grocery stores here than I ever found back in the States. Sauerkirsche jam, for example. Bliss, poured over vanilla ice cream.

What foods make me think of my father? A big bowl of ice cream, with milk on top (sort of a cereal bowl type of shake). Doesn't matter what flavour (correct me if I'm wrong, Dad). When we lived in Africa, one of the best treats we could have was home-made ice cream, turned and turned forever, the ice and salt eventually freezing the cream mix inside a metal cylinder. Dad usually took charge of the entire operation, and we all got a chance at the crank. I think we often had a circle of bemused Burundians watching, wondering what these crazy Americans were up to. As far as other foods, brownies and cookies never failed to please him. Come to think of it, any type of sweet! I do remember at Christmas, once Dad built up a medical practice in Oregon, he and Mom sent out packs of almonds--cheddar flavor, smoke flavor, plain salted--to other doctors, nurses, and assorted friends and family. Dad put aside a pack or two for the family, and he snacked on those as long as they lasted, which wasn't long with four children constantly snatching tastes.

Well, the beets just took me down this trail of reminiscing. Interesting, the place to which a simple root vegetable can lead the memory.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Luxembourg in the Rain

We drove back from Luxembourg today; this morning we walked around the city until it started raining.
I liked these angel door-handles at the entrance to Cathedrale Notre Dame.

Anna and I happened upon the Saturday food market in a central square--browsing the stalls, we both suddenly stopped and inhaled deeply--the booth next to us had at least fifty roast chickens slowly revolving on rotisseries, and the smell was heavenly, along with roasted potatoes and herbs for sale. On the other side, a vendor offered pots of olives, green with garlic cloves in the middle, black olives "nature," and many more varieties. I would have lingered, but we were due to check out at the hotel. As we left, I shot a picture of the tulips below, glistening from their recent rain shower.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Testing Newfound Knowledge...

If I write someone's name, like this, Betsy, can I link to their blog without typing the entire long web address? Testing, testing... thanks to the Real Live Preacher chat room.

Yay, it works! Read "Blog from Brussels" for another European perspective--and thanks for the books I got in the mail today, Betsy!

Fasching Parade This Weekend

We're driving to Luxembourg in the next few days, but plan to return by Sunday, because Anna really wants to be back in our little town for the annual Fasching parade. Just so you know, in the South of Germany, carnival is called Fasching.

The narrow streets are crammed with people of all ages, candy and other goodies are thrown off floats, and both parade participants and spectators continuously yell "Ahoy!" Last year was the first time we got to see this display of craziness--most of the kids dress up, and surprisingly to me, one of the more popular children's costumes is to go Native American, feather, fringes, and all.

A few photos might illustrate Fasching better than words... definitely the only time I've ever seen marching wine bottles in my life.

Monday, February 13, 2006

New CD in the Mail

Currently listening: A Collision CD by the David Crowder* Band

"When our depravity meets His divinity it is a beautiful collison."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Thought About Chocolate

Friday, when I wrote about shopping for Valentine's Day, I forgot to include something--a few days ago, Milton's blog,, listed some facts about Nestle and other big chocolate brands and their connection with child slavery in the Ivory Coast. Since then, I've decided to try and buy only Fair Trade chocolate as much as possible. One brand I've seen here in Germany that uses fair trade policies when buying cocoa is Zotter; it's easy to tell, because the candy wrapper has a fair trade logo. To find out more, go to , and also to Milton's post, "We Are What We Eat." You might be surprised at the policies you're supporting in the simple choice of a chocolate bar--I know I certainly was.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Strolling the Hauptstrasse

I live near the German town of Heidelberg. Quite a beautiful place, with the Neckar River running through the middle, plenty of cobblestone streets, old churches, and bicyclists. And perched on a hilltop above the Old Town sits Heidelberg Schloss (castle) in all its ruined glory. It's always fun to walk in downtown Heidelberg, people-watching and stopping at the backerei for Brotchen or Vollkorn Brot.

Today I met a friend and we went out for Indian food. I was overjoyed, because since David left for college, it's been hard to find someone who appreciates spicy hot food as much as he does! Vegetable curry and hot milky chai, along with good conversation... Afterwards, I shopped for Valentine's day, I've already sent care packages off to college for the two older kids, but there are still my youngest and Jeff to consider. Galeria Kaufhof store had scads of chocolate, and I spent a few euros there after deliberating-- will it be the extra bitter Hachez bars, the creamy Lindt truffles, or maybe some Guylian chocolate seashells?

All in all, a nice day. I think I need to do this more often.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Thing With Feathers

"Hope" is the thing with feathers --
That perches in the soul --
And sings the tune without the words --
And never stops -- at all --
-- Emily Dickinson

Picture taken by Danielle's friend, Elise, at the Schwetzingen Schloss gardens in Germany

Monday, February 06, 2006

Objects in Our Desk Drawer

A random sampling of items from our middle desk drawer (next to the computer):
1. Celestial Seasonings tin with alphabet beads inside
2. Metallic silver Sharpie pen
3. Old USA 32 cent stamp picturing the Statue of Liberty
4. Business card for Hundepension REGENBOGEN (dog kennel in Schwanheim)
5. UnderArmour keychain
6. One shilling piece from Republic of Kenya bearing Moi's profile
7. "Four Paws" doggie thumb toothbrush
8. 125V/250V black adapter plug with Chinese instructions
9. Fake fly in plastic ice cube
10. Stainless steel lab tweezers from my father's medical office
11. Two Rico clarinet reeds and a cloth clarinet swab
12. Kickstand grease
13. Drug company's logo--"Doxidan in the P.M. for a B.M. in the A.M."
14. Judo (or TaiKwanDo?) pin from Atlanta Olympics 1996
15. Box of 100 "Non-Skid" Jumbo Gem paper clips

That was amusing, found quite a few things I'd forgotten about! I'll pocket the icecube and slip it into Anna's glass of water at supper. She's our child who loves to buy sneeze powder and pretend blood and all that good stuff. Turnabout is fair play...

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Changes, Changes

Well, my last post talked about holding things loosely...and not becoming too attached to a specific outcome. It's interesting I wrote about that theme on Tuesday, because later that afternoon, I received a letter from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, the publisher with whom I'd signed a contract last February for a children's picture book--to be printed around 2007. The editor informed me that their board had reviewed book projects, looking for places to cut costs in the future, and had decided not to proceed with my book due to budgetary reasons. Upon reading those stark words, I began my official "Week(or Two or More) of Depression." Sure, I'd just written all about leaving everything in God's hands--but saying that in the abstract is far different from living it firsthand. And it began to feel as if more was being ripped from my grasp than I could handle. Family and friends in Oregon, house in Aloha, cat, and now, my future book.

Today, a few days along, I'm feeling less fragile. I only obsess about "blast, all those people I told!" every once and again. And the questioning and doubting, "am I really supposed to be doing this, when my writing is a load of crap," recurs less often than the evening after I ripped open the envelope. But, though I fully believe and continue to stand by Tuesday's post, my confidence has been shaken--and it will take some time to recover. Fortunately, my husband understood the depth of my disappointment, and took an hour off work Wednesday for lunch and listening to my monologue. Thanks, Jeff. You were more than wonderful to me!