Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More everyday posting

The decluttering and painting is done in my room. Note that the cat is extremely pleased as he has many new opportunities of clean and clear space to shed white hair onto dark surfaces. I am totally bugged that the edger brush still put little silvery greenblue blots of paint on the ceiling, and I'm not altogether sure why. Grrr! I so wanted to do it perfectly- like our fancypant orthodontist's office with the Hummer brace bus.

Buck agreed to new carpet, but I am intimidated about picking something out. Last time I chose a berber, I didn't see the goofy orange dots in the sample until it covered my little girl's bedroom floor.

Tater's Children's International Summer Village leader, Amber, came for dinner tonight. She just graduated with her degree in child psychology- specializing in schizophrenia and violent personality disorders. During a wild Vyne card game of The Great Dalmuti with Amber and our family, Tater exclaimed, "Isn't mine a totally crazy family?" Amber could not contain her laughter, "No, Tater. I've met my share of totally crazy families, and this isn't one." It was a priceless moment lost on Tater, but well appreciated by me and Buck. Every family member accompanied Amber on a tour of the pretend True Vyne Farm, and we ended by going over paperwork for their trip to France. She mentioned the possibility of us hosting an overnight for team building for U.S. delegates before they head out in July. Sounds great to me.

Tomorrow Hauna and I plan to teach ourselves how to build a trellis from vines from a book. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

To the First Kat from Scribbit

Dear Kat,
Meet Kat. One is a new bloggie friend and the other is absolutely most wonderful college roommate ever.

Here's the recipe from Scribbit. It's yummy.

Oh, and the sauce makes enough for two meals.

3 tablespoons butter
1/4 c flour
5 cups milk
2 teaspoons mild chili powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves minced garlic
½ pound diced, chicken
8 ounces finely chopped frozen spinach, thawed
6 ounces grated cheddar
2 tablespoons Parmesan, plus some for topping
16 ounces of cooked penne

Melt the butter and add the flour, whisking to combine. Slowly whisk in the milk and cook over a medium heat until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Add the chili powder, salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, saute chicken and garlic in the olive oil until it begins to brown then add the spinach, heating throughly and cooking the chicken until it's done. Add the chicken mixture to the sauce then add the grated cheddar and Parmesan, stirring until the cheeses melt. Serve over cooked rigatoni and topped with shredded Parmesan.

Yawn Post

I know it sounds silly, but I can't paint my bedroom until I get rid of all the junk. I spent yesterday clearing a mountain of clutter. The clutter consists primarily of books, computer CD's, mail, disorganized notebooks and papers. And what's up with the wires all over the place? Buck has flimsy explanations for keeping every one. I'm patting myself on the back for finding important missing notebooks I require for my Shepherd's Call work. I also found three solid writing projects waiting patiently for me if I get a wild hair to pick them up again.

Four years ago, when we moved into this house, I peeled off a gawdy border trimming the wall next to the ceiling in my bedroom. I never went back and repaired the chunks of drywall I also removed during the job. In fact, I've never done anything to my bedroom, since I've lived here beside peel off that border. Guess that fix is on queue 1,460 days later. I chose ice blue green paint to match a fabulous fabric I ordered at Short Sheet last weekend. It's worth the hour drive to Crossville just to wander aimlessly in that gorgeous store for an hour or two. The bedspread I ordered from Ebay is silk chocolate brown. My sinister plan is for all new decor to totally clash with the nasty, faded and stained maroon carpet enough for Buck to demand we immediately install new natural colored berber carpet.

Along with improving my living quarters, I'm making dinner today for a large family of all boys whose mom and dad are in China picking up their adopted daughter. Won't that be a hoot? A delightful little girl surrounded by six rowdy brothers? Sunday I tried out a chicken rigatoni recipe by scribbit, and it makes nearly a ton of food. It just might do for a pack of devouring wolves like these young men. The best part of all is that these crazy people LOVE my sometimes pathetic cooking. They'll treat me royalty when I carry in trays of food.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


I will not pledge allegiance to any flag, but I will stand with my hand over my heart when the Pledge of Allegiance is spoken. I love my country. I am patriotic, which astoundingly means that I love peace and pray for an end to all war, not just wars concerning the U.S., but across the globe. Afterall, America allows me the luxury of freedom of ideas and speech, and I recognize people have given their lives for my freedom. I am so very thankful to live in a location where I don't lay down my head in fear each night that ferocious bombs will cave in the roof overhead and land on my sleeping children's beds. My greatest worries of the day have been weeding the overgrown monkey grass from my trellis of climbing pink roses arched over the grey sidewalk and choosing a new paint greenish pale blue color for my bedroom.

Last evening, I took my yearly sobering American experience like a dose of bitter liquid by placing flags in the Lenoir City Cemetary on the graves of war veterans alongside my sons. It's something my Boyscouts do annually for Memorial Day.

A tall thin somewhat curved man, a veteran in a ball cap and jeans, with a kind yet low and scruffy voice, met us there as usual with his pick up truck to hand out bundles of red, white, and blues neatly tucked in rows on the truck bed. His voice made the listener want to clear his or hear throat while he is talking in an effort to free the frog which must have been hopelessly trapped deep inside his neck. The question which I silently ask myself about him goes something like this, "Does he remember the horrors of war? Does he suffer now from them?" Aloud I asked, "May I have a stack o' flags, please?" I was a little surprised he remembered me as there are so many of us who come back time after time to participate, "Mam, I know you've done this before, so you don't need me to explain."

Most graves were very well kept, but there are a few which required weeding and brushing off in order to verify markings such as Veitnam, Korea, WW I, WW II, Armed Forces, Navy, Airforce, Marine. Our thirsty national drought had made poking the pointy wooden end of the short poles into the dry compacted dirt a more difficult task than usual. Each time I struggled to push the flag into the hard rusty earth, I spoke to myself through the lump in my throat, "Thank you for your service, sir. You've made my America a better place."

Every grave needed to be read to be sure no veteran was missed. I kept to myself wandering through the cemetary, knowing sometimes head or footstones undo me- I wiped tears without making a raucous. One grave for a child read, "See you in the morning." I couldn't help but think about the mother of that child who may have spoken those words for the last time as they lowered her child's coffin into the ground. I thought of all the daunting mornings since in which the mother woke up wishing she could hear her daughter's soft singing or feel the curve of her small body during a bedtime story just once more. Will that illusive morning ever come again?

Another granite stone I came upon belonged to a veteran who died fairly recently. I realized mine would be the first Memorial Day flag to reside at his grave. The grass hadn't fully grown over the length of his casket, and I felt the flag easily sink down beside the marker. I do hope he died proud of the service he gave to his country. To me and mine.

"Thank you" are not adequate words for all you American military people, but it's what I have to sincerely offer. Your lives and deaths matter to me.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Velvet Elvis and

I realize I'm a latecomer in reading Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. I heard about the book when it first came out, and was reminded of it by a friend in the fancy orthodontist office. I tend to wait for the dust to settle a while on a trendy books like this one before I buy. Can you believe I still have not read Purpose Driven Life and probably will not? Ultimately, Rob's quirky writing style in Velvet insulted my vast intelligence. It took me a long time to finish, because I had to be in a certain charitable mood in order to be willing to pick it up and continue reading. He wrote some things I truly don't believe or like, and he also penned some illuminating and amazing ideas I'd never before explored. The interesting stuff created a little trail of sweet breadcrumbs to the end for me. I give the book my recommendation with a disclaimer for the things with which I disagreed, specifically the anti-creationist perspective and the possibility of denying the Virgin Birth. Just so you know, I didn't write any notes in the back of the book in the empty pages like I was supposed to.

It hurts my teeth and gives me a headache just now to think about sinking back into his choppy sentences by picking up his latest Sex God. I know it might be arrogant of me to say so, but I really think I have a great grasp on the topics contained in that particular book- I've been blissfully researching with my husband for almost nineteen years now.

I also just finished Running with Scissors. I do NOT recommend it, and I certainly don't want to see the movie as the book was incredibly graphic for me. I have a thirteen year old son, the same age of the boy in the book, and I hated every minute of the abuse the boy in the story endured. I learned nothing except more ways for families to mess up children.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


by Arthur Guiterman

No matter what we are and who,
Some duties everyone must do:

A Poet put aside his wreath
To wash his face and brush his teeth,

And even Earls
Must comb their curls,

And even Kings
Have underthings.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

You know your son is something of a geek when...

You know your son is something of a geek when at the beach he asks, "Mom, may I please swim past the continental shelf?" And I do use the word "geek" as the sweetest term of endearment (just in case he reads this).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Home Sweet Home

I love the way my own bed feels so inviting and warm.
how my garden gives hope to every new day.
the anticipation of projects put off during the school year.
new eyes to see what needs to be done to bring peace to my home.
the ease of putting my children to bed in their own rooms.
the crowing sound of roosters to wake me in the bright sunny morning.
goats calling out to me as I pull tall weeds.
my overgrown vineyard.
fresh chocolate chip muffins made with newly milled whole wheat.
the prospect of time to study and think.
connection with dear friends.
a new book which arrived in the mail while I was away.
calling my life back to daily order.
graduation announcements of splendid young people in my mail.
the single volunteer pink snap dragon in full bloom just outside my window.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What I like to do on vacation:
read, read, read
work out everyday
be alone or just with my beloved
see and learn new things

What I've done on vacation:
read a little
worked out a little, took my first Pilates class ever
played Sorry, Uno Attack, cards
went to see Spiderman III
rode a zillion roller coasters
saw the Weeki Wachi mermaids (again), they were so glad we came
visited with all the grandparents and a dear aunt and uncle
sat on the beach, I put my feet in but I don't like to swim with sharks
watched some television I never see like National Geographic
spent a day away with Buck
totally dug the Salvador Dali museum in St. Pete

I'm missing my garden and hoping the new rescued goats are adjusting well with the others. Hauna is taking care of everything at True Vyne Farm, so I know all is fine. I'm also missing long times of quiet away from others and the sacred unhurriedness of the life we create at home. The grass will be up our knees when we arrive, due to the ever malfunctioning lawn tractors. Before we left, Buck broke down and purchased a faithful John Deere, but, of course, it rained the two days before we vacated. I'll have to fight Buck for the mower- both of us enjoy cutting the fields.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Somethins' burnin'

My mom kept the children for us the last few days, so Buck and I could have a few days alone together. Quite a treat. We made a sunny day plan of hikes and beach, and a rainy day plan of museums and movies. It didn't rain, but we were forced to invoke the indoor plan. I knew something was up yesterday morning when I found the carhops at our swanky hotel (thanks again, Mom) in Tampa wore surgical masks. Outside everywhere plumed with smoke from the Georgia forest fires. Visibility on the bridge from Tampa to St. Pete was down to a quarter of a mile!

And here's a free vacation tip for you, I've learned through experience. On really smoky days in Florida, you might not want to be reading The Road, a post apocalyptic tale of a man and his son struggling to survive after fire burned the United States to the ground. It was not easy for me to shake the dark mood of the book while breathing in grey clouds as thick as fog all day long.

Here's my quick review of the book as it's now finished. It took me a a while to figure out Carthy's style, but eventually I grew accustomed to it. It's a page turning harsh journey book, not an uplifting redemptive read. I'd give it an 8 on The Super Scientific Vyne 1-10 reading scale.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Goat Brigade

Betsy, the Goat Yoda, asked me to pick up two rescued Nubian does yesterday. I had some concerns about transport, because my goat whisperers Buck and Peace were unavailable. Buck had to work and Peace was off to Boy Scout camp. I was left with energy boy (aka Tater), Wise One, and Pooh Bear as inadequate helpers. What if the goaties wanted to jump into the front seat and drive with me?

I called Claire with my woes, and she promptly offered the caprine wrangling services of herself and Slow to Speak. Apparently, they were just sitting around moping about Slow's departure, and a goat adventure sounded like the ticket out of the blues.

She was right.

Claire rigged up an amazing contraption with a baby gate and bungy cords which as a driver's security measure. Slow to Speak set a jolly tone when she began to sing the puppet song from The Sound of Music, "High on a hill stood a lonely goat herd. Lady, oda, lady, oda, lay, hee, who." She continued the merriment by pointing out how my ride had already been "mommed" and how the addition of goats would seal the deal. Though it embarresses some of my friends, I proudly drive a 1991 Previa with 230,000 miles on the odometer, sundry missing pieces, scratches, holes, and crayons melted on the passenger seat. I intend to drive it till it dies, which may be the end of time. It's been to the repair shop twice in five years.

Our goat exchange took place in a McDonald's parking lot. I think I met Betsy years ago when I bought soap molds from her. I carried the adorable black fuzzy creatures one at a time to my van without a bit of trouble. Though they are two years old, they are scrawny due to neglect, not Betsy's, but the previous owners who lost interest. Betsy explained the does are in much better shape now than when they arrived at her farm.

Slow to Speak spoke goat, so she told Sissy and Sarah, "Just lie down girls." They obeyed by coiling their necks 'round one another and lay peacefully till they cheerfully jumped out of the van at True Vyne Farm. Their names are Sissy and Sarah for now, until my children decide otherwise.

The does are springy, curious, loving, and surprisingly not afraid of rain. My other goats seem fine with the new girls in town.

I took a happier Claire and Slow to Speak to Claire's house. I'm glad to add another suddenly fun memory to our time together before Slow heads back to Oklahoma.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Collection of Thoughts from Last Night's Liturgy for Slow to Speak

The Church of the Willow Tree

Picnic table cathedraled by barked arching arms, green fingers dripping ropes of new growth. There is Healing in those hands.

Chirping birds ring as bells.

The feast exudes garlic and overflows with oil. There is Healing in that oil.

We share the truest kind of Communion until all the wine is drained from the glass.

Flowers dress the table. Meaningful blossoms of purity, friendship, loyalty, suffering, and wisdom. The frangrance is sweet.

Night falls with evening prayer.

The Holy Spirit falls fresh like a bird on wing.

Dogs bark in the distance reminding me of your parting. My eyes do not laugh at this thought, but I let you go willingly.

Your work is not here now.

Go meet with destiny, again.

Drum roll please....

Slow to Speak has bestowed upon me my Indian name. She chose it, because she wanted to capture what is in my heart. Since eyes are the windows to the soul, she gave me the following name:

Laughing Eyes

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I thought I'd seen it all. Until yesterday.

On my drive to the hardware store a few miles down our country road, I lagged behind a big red doolie truck (truck with four rear tires). Something flashed and dangled from underneath the trailer hitch on that vehicle in front of me. I wondered if the hitch had come undone somehow and might be about to fall off. Perhaps my next idea didn't demonstrate good judgement, because I decided to get closer to the truck to find out. My discovery left me blushing. The trailer hitch was fine, but the driver had attached a glistening set of swaying silver testicles. Apparently these are the new way to "cowboy your sweet ride".

Personally, I'll stick to air freshener in the shape of a daisy swinging from my rear view mirror.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


What's sproutin' today in True Vyne garden?
sweet corn
nasturtium (never sprouted these outside in the ground before)
a precious few wildflowers
yellow squash
beans, beans, beans (bush and pole)

Still no sign of watermelon, cucumbers or snap dragons. Hoping they simply take more time to germinate. I'm not joking when I tell you that I go out to my garden a few times a day in spring just to see if something new has popped up through the soil. It delights me to no end when I identify a new bud other than a weed pushing out of the dirt.

Speaking of new things. My children found two new baby chicks in the shed two days ago. Nothing like fuzzy yellow peeping creatures to ignite joy and energy in our family. Let the hatching begin!

I'm writing a liturgy for tomorrow to send a dear friend, Slow to Speak (aka Runs with Scissors) off to Oklahoma with the blessing of deep friendship. The liturgy is coming along beautifully, but I must admit a heavy heart in letting her go. She's called to live among the Kiowa Indians- a worthy work. I'm told she's giving me my Indian name in our service, something I look forward to receiving.

Off to make home made cinnamon rolls. The dough has been rising since I began in the garden this morning. We have an honored eleven year old guest who might like to eat breakfast sooner or later.