Why I Need Fabric

Can you believe January is almost over? Time is moving so fast.

This morning while Jasper was having his online math tutoring session, I drove up to Hobby Lobby. I needed one more lobster clasp to finish my Christmas bead garland re-stringing project. (It has now been finished at last.) I also needed some stiffener and fabric to make a bag.

In less than two weeks, I will be heading to a writers’ conference in Dallas.  In preparation, I took on a ridiculous project. I painted two 12×6 inch pieces of one-eighth-inch plywood. I made many, many mistakes. I learned some things I didn’t know about glow-in-the-dark paint and permanent markers. Here are the two least embarrassing sides of the four I painted:

1-30-18 two boards

What on earth are they for? Well . . . . Back in October, at Writers in the Field, I tried out a new note-taking format, which was a little square sketchbook. I loved it. I could get by with a smaller and lighter bag than if I had to haul around a full-sized clipboard, let alone a laptop or even an AlphaSmart. My only complaint was that I didn’t have a firm surface to put my open sketchbook on while I was taking notes. (My lap, for the record, is not firm.)

So I got this idea of having a little piece of wood that I could rest on my lap, but that would still be compact. I went to the hobby store and found a 12-inch square piece of plywood, and had my husband cut it in half. But of course I couldn’t be happy with a plain piece of wood. So I bought paint and some stencils and now with the conference looming I finally got around to painting. One of the things I love about medieval times is how they put so much effort into making everyday objects beautiful, and I love the idea of doing that even if I don’t have the skill!

Now I have not one but two little boards to rest my sketchbook on, but that means I need a bag that will accommodate a 6×12 inch piece of wood, along with my sketchbook, writing implements, water bottle, etc. The bag I hoped would work is a little too narrow. Bags that are wide enough are too deep. I don’t want to have to carry a massive tote bag. I bought a bag at Walmart that I thought would work, but it’s about half an inch two narrow so I will return it.

Which brings us back to why I bought fabric this morning. I plan to design and make a custom bag for carrying around at conferences where I will be taking notes. I don’t think I’ll get it done in time for this conference, alas, but now I have the materials. Having spent an inordinate amount of time on this nonessential accessory, maybe I should put some effort into getting my book ready to pitch, right?

Ho Hum

Well, of course it was back to school for Jasper today. Monday is always kind of a letdown.

I spent a lot of time sorting through stuff in my room and getting things put away. I found two things I thought were lost for good, but I didn’t find the two things I started off looking for!

This afternoon my husband took time off (he has to use vacation time before he loses it) and spent hours cleaning out and washing the car and van. I took Lucy to a coffee shop to study and later went to Walmart to pick up a few things after fetching Lucy first.

In other words, exciting day!

I’d Rather Have Jesus

I’d Rather Have Jesus

Rhea F. Miller

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand.

Than to be a king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway,
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame,
I’d rather be true to His holy name.

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs,
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.


Drizzly Day

Today was overcast and drizzly. I had to run to Walmart this morning, and this afternoon Lucy and I ran a couple of errands also. I sprayed several coats of finish on my painting project, but will do the rest tomorrow when I hope it won’t be so humid.

A friend of Flynn’s arrived with his fiancée at supper time. They are spending the night here on their way back to San Antonio. It was nice to have company!

Jasper returned from his conference tonight. He had a wonderful time, and learned a lot. I am so glad he had this opportunity. He can’t wait to go to church tomorrow so he can talk about it some more.

Aldi Adventure

Big time at Aldi this morning. The place was mobbed, for some reason. I was strolling along, doing my shopping, as one does, and then the lady in front of me pulled several cans from the shelf and tossed them into my shopping cart! “Uh . . .” I started saying. She looked up and saw me and was so embarrassed when she realized what she’d done. She had thought her teenage son was following right behind her with her cart.

A couple minutes later there was a huge crashing sound from the rear of the store. When I got to the end of my aisle and could look over, I saw this:

1-27-18 Aldi spill

A large section of shelves had just collapsed. The employees were on it, though, and within a very few minutes the area was at least clear enough to push a cart through.  Shortly after that, I looked down to consult my list, only to see that it was liberally smeared with blood. The knuckle I nicked with a knife while making supper last night had started bleeding again, and it wouldn’t stop. So in between putting stuff in my cart, I had to keep sucking on my knuckle to keep it from bleeding all over my groceries.

When I was ready to check out, there were only two lanes open (no doubt due to the cleanup going on at the back of the store). I joined one of the lines and let a man with just a few items go ahead of me. Then another woman pushed her cart up from a different direction, and even though I had been there well before her, she glared at me and made it clear that she expected to be given precedence. Poor lady. If waiting an extra five minutes in line was going to ruin her day, I was more than happy to let her go ahead of me. Was she grateful? No. I got the impression my very existence offended her.

As I stood there waiting to check out, a middle-aged man walked up. He was wearing maybe a dozen strings of Mardi Gras beads. Well, okay then. It’s a free country.

About the same time I checked out, a young mother with three small boys also checked out. One of the boys was named Zephyr. It surprised me. I had only heard of this as a girl’s name before, but when I got home and checked it out, I see that indeed it is also used for boys. I learned something!

Because we had checked out at the same time, Zephyr’s mother and I were bagging our groceries at the same time. And her youngest, a baby sitting in the cart, dropped the sales flyer he had been holding and looking at. “Oh no!” he said, in the most tragic tone of voice you can imagine. “Oh no! Oh no!” He kept it up for several minutes, gazing longingly down at the flyer on the floor. It would have been annoying if it wasn’t so darn cute. I would have picked it up for him if I hadn’t been so preoccupied with trying to bag my groceries while at the same time trying to stanch the flow of blood from my finger.

I have to admit, much as I hate going to Aldi, it is usually a great place to observe human nature. This morning was even more entertaining than usual.

I had to rush home so I could try making some low-carb tortilla chips to share with my friend Robin, having already made an avocado/zucchini “hummus” last night.

The chips actually turned out very well and we enjoyed snacking on them as we visited. Technically, I do not “snack” anymore, but this was actually my belated lunch, which I delayed so I could share it with my friend.

Jasper took off for the second evening of his conference, which includes an overnight with his youth group tonight. He will be tired when he gets home tomorrow!

Keeping Busy

It’s been a busy couple of days. Yesterday a friend came over for the afternoon, and then I was up late preparing for today’s class.

Today of course I had more prep to do, plus teaching the class. We went over how to write a formal outline, because we’ll be doing a research paper soon.  I made brownies for the kids’ snack. They were very popular because they had coffee icing.

I’ve been continuing to work on my painting project, plus some revising. I have a writers’ conference next month, and I am revising one of my stories yet again so I can pitch it.

Jasper spent the evening at a youth conference on the campus, with his new youth group. He really enjoyed it and will be going back Friday and Saturday.

My husband took the afternoon off and will be taking tomorrow off also, because if he doesn’t, he will lose vacation time. He still has plenty left for his trip to Russia in March.

Introvert Nightmare Leads To Joy

Today I had to do something that I really, really hate to do. I had to go to a place of business and dispute a bill. Because I am an introvert, I hate doing anything that even has the potential for confrontation. At a restaurant, I will happily eat the wrong food because I prefer it over having to explain that the server got my order wrong.

But this time, the financial stakes were too high. When I took Mercy to the doctor the day before she flew back to Russia, I called and asked for a quote on what it would cost, because our resources are very limited. I paid that amount, but a few days ago I received a bill for an additional $333!

You can imagine my horror. I had no choice but to go and ask for an explanation and possibly beg for mercy. It turned out to be a computer error. Instead of $333, I only owed $13.76 to cover the cost of one of the injections Mercy got. I was SO relieved. Whew! Much as I hate having to do that kind of thing, this time it was worth it!

From there I drove joyfully up to the craft store to buy some more glow-in-the-dark paint. I am working on a painting project, which I hesitate to explain to you. Maybe after it’s done. The glow-in-the-dark paint is totally gratuitous. Part of me is still a fifteen-year-old girl who thinks it’s cool.

Another big project for the day was making the annual massive batch of Zambian food for an event they have at the university every year. They didn’t even ask if we wanted to do it—they just assumed we would! I got the vat of “relish” going and Lucy and her friends made the nshima after I left for my writers’ meeting.

Because, yes, I also had my critique group and writers’ meeting tonight too. Since we didn’t meet in December, I was eager to see my writer friends. They have been such a help and encouragement to me.

Tomorrow I have a social event planned, and more painting. Looking forward to it!

A House Guest and a Rosacea Mystery

Yesterday was our second week to visit the church we have chosen to “try out” to see if it is a good fit for Jasper. This is a very new experience for us, but I felt that if we are going to give it a chance, we have to do more than just go to the service on Sunday morning, so yesterday we also went to Sunday School (an option our previous church did not have).

We had been invited to join a group led by one of my husband’s former co-workers, but as it turned out, he was not there yesterday. We found his group, however, and discovered that of the three other couples in attendance, we knew two of them. One couple had been neighbors of ours in the past, and the other had been in our homeschooling group many years ago. That definitely made the experience a little less terrifying.

There was a meal provided after the service, so we stayed for that and socialized with our group (each group had assigned seating). I am still struggling with separating my personal preferences from what is actually important about a church. I miss singing hymns and I miss walking into a lighted room where I can see who is present and which seats are empty! But these are just “preference” issues. It is so different to be surrounded by fellow believers who are friendly and active in the life of their congregation. Jasper enjoyed his time in the youth Sunday School and sat with them during the meal.

One of the people we saw during the dinner was a friend of Spencer’s whom I know is not yet stabilized here, so I invited him to have supper with us yesterday evening (since we always have college students over on Sunday nights anyway). Once he arrived, we found out he’s been living in his car, so we insisted that he spend the night in Spencer’s room. It ended up being a good thing because we had some strong storms move through late at night, and tornado sirens going off, and I sure would have hated for him to be in his car through all of that!

This morning Spencer had a hard time getting up for work after staying up late talking, but he made it! Jasper and I had school and Lucy had things to do on campus.

After lunch I had a surprise phone call from a dear friend before heading out to run several errands. I seem to be running a lot of errands lately, and in fact I have one more to take care of tomorrow.

One of the things I had to do was go to the health food store for a bottle of frankincense oil. This is an essential part of my skin care regime. I’ve been battling severe rosacea for over ten years now, and I also have a “bump” on my nose that I suspect is cancerous. However, if I apply frankincense oil every day it stays almost flat. If I go for more than a few days without it, the bump starts growing and my rosacea worsens. So I can’t afford to run out.

Speaking of my rosacea, I noticed a very interesting phenomenon, which I’m sharing with you here in case anyone else has experienced something similar. You might remember that I experienced a very significant improvement when I stopped using anti-fungal soap on my face and switched to a much more gentle cleanser. I still had the redness, and I still had “zits,” but not nearly as many as before. Then I got the flu after Thanksgiving, and my face cleared up completely and stayed clear for at least three weeks. I still had some redness, but absolutely no blemishes at all. It would have been a lot more exciting if I hadn’t been so sick!

I thought maybe the fever had somehow banished the blemishes, but the research I’ve done seems to indicate that fever would make rosacea worse, so I have no idea what happened. If anyone can enlighten me, I’d be very grateful.

Finally, here is a video that I can’t stop watching. Someone posted it in one of the autoharp groups I belong to, because as you’ll see, the Armenian qanon (a type of zither) is shaped very similarly to an autoharp. These girls are so adorable (I think the front two are twins) and their skill is so amazing. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re playing ragtime . . .

Tsovinar Hovhannisyan “Nur” ensemble / Joplin – Ragtime

Master, the Tempest is Raging

I am posting this while listening to the tornado sirens wailing . . . really hope we don’t get hit.

Master, the Tempest is Raging

Mary A. Baker

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadow with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threatening
A grave in the angry deep?


The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, peace, be still!

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master
Oh, hasten, and take control.


Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast;
Linger, O blessèd Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.



A Reminder

Every time January 20 rolls around, it brings me up short for a few minutes. Twenty-two years ago, on this date, I was in a serious car accident after falling asleep at the wheel with three of my kids in the car. I am so thankful to be still here. And I always, always wear my seat belt. I am also much better at staying awake while driving these days, but if I feel sleepy, I always pull over and rest!

Today the weather turned much warmer after our very cold week. The low tonight is only supposed to reach into the 50s, and tomorrow it may hit 70 degrees! East Texas weather can just about give you whiplash.

I was not as productive as I had hoped, but I did get a lot of editing done. I also cooked ten pounds of chicken, made low-carb crumpets, strung another length of beads and did some knitting. I am so ready to be done with the beads.

Parting Shot:

Mercy in kimono

My mother has been very anxious to see a photo of the kimono I made Mercy for Christmas.