A Busy Good Friday

Big doings in our family today. Flynn flew home to Colorado from Russia after his visit with Mercy, and Mercy herself was on a plane by this evening, headed back here to Texas. I got up very early to take Bri to the airport. A little later in the morning, Walter, Jasper, and I drove up to Winnsboro to pick up Jasper’s new forge. We had a nice visit with our blacksmith friend and got a couple bags of coal too. Jasper still needs a few items to have a fully functional blacksmithing setup, but he’s well on his way.

3-30-18 Jasper's new forge

When we got home, I had to rush and make the dough for the hot cross buns because I had decreed that our traditional Good Friday tea would take place at 4:00. Then I boiled 40 eggs so they’d be ready to dye, and Lucy set up the egg dyeing station and supervised the dyeing process (we all did some). Aren’t they pretty?

3-30-18 dyed eggs

Then it was time to get the buns in the oven and make the tea. I had been waiting to drink from my fancy new Russian cup so I could inaugurate it on Good Friday. There were only five of us here, but that’s no reason to ignore a longstanding tradition. I heard the buns were very tasty:

3-30-18 hot cross buns

Obviously, I could not have hot cross buns or any other Easter goodie, but I had one of my low-carb bagels and even put crosses on it:

3-30-18 hot cross bagels

Meanwhile, Spencer took several loads of his possessions over to his new apartment. Tomorrow morning he and Walter will move some of his furniture up there too. He signed the lease on Tuesday and is already paying rent, so he really needs to move in!

Daniel was unable to join us for tea, because he was getting new tires on his car—a necessary precursor to driving to Dallas tomorrow to fetch Mercy. He did, however, make it here to enjoy our supper of ham-and-swiss-cheese sourdough crêpes.

Afterward, the family scattered. Lucy went to a movie, Spencer took another load to his apartment, Walter left to do some burnishing, and Jasper went on a bike ride with his friends. I was left with the house to myself! So I painstakingly restrung a necklace that I was not perfectly happy with. I’m still not sure if I like the new version better.

Parting Shot:

3-30-18 azalea closeup

Beautiful azaleas blooming outside our bedroom window.

A Class and a Shopping Trip

Today was sunny! And a fun class day, because the students had to give their presentations about the inventions they did their research papers on. I enjoyed getting to watch and listen to each student and learned about everything from electromagnets to internal combustion engines. Jasper did a great job with his presentation about revolvers!

As soon as class was over, I had to rush up to Aldi to do the grocery shopping, as I will be busy tomorrow morning. I don’t like going in the afternoon because it is so crowded, but today it was unavoidable.

This evening I made low-carb bagels for the first time in months. I will have one as a treat tomorrow when the rest of the family has hot cross buns.

Well, I’ve got an early morning tomorrow as I will be taking Bri to the airport, so I suppose I should go ahead and go to bed so I can lie awake for the next two or three hours . . .

Rain and More Rain

We have had a very rainy day after a very rainy night. Of course Jasper and I had school to do, after he walked through the rain to buy donuts for himself and Lucy and Bri, who is currently visiting.

Lucy and Bri wanted to go to a movie right after lunch, and they needed me to provide transport, so Jasper and I went along. It was a nice break and a nice distraction since today was a dry fasting day. Afterward the girls talked me into taking them to a fast food place to get food and then to their favorite coffee shop, where I dropped them off. It was pouring rain the whole time.

Jasper had youth group this evening, and then there was more schoolwork to do. I’m so glad it’s getting near the end of the school year!

The Triumphant Return of Pepper and Spear

A year ago, I got a long planter and planted peppermint on one side and spearmint on the other. I named them “Pepper” and “Spear” and pitted them against each other to see which one would spread out the most/fastest. It was kind of a tie, because Spear grew more vertically and Pepper grew more horizontally.

I assumed they would both die over the winter, because even though mint is perennial, they were in a planter on the front steps and we had a very cold winter with some long dry spells. So recently I was thinking I should go out and buy some new mint plants, but when I went to look at the planter, I saw that both plants had plenty of new growth. All I had to do was pull out all the oak leaves and pine needles, uproot a few pine seedlings, and cut back all the dead stems from last year.

3-27-18 Pepper and Spear

They cleaned up pretty well, don’t you think?

Today I drove to nearby Kilgore for another watercolor painting afternoon. It was a smaller group this time. I felt like such a poser. Everyone else seemed capable of producing frameable art, whereas my attempts appeared to have been done by a five-year-old. I was sitting next to an art major from Kilgore College whose finished painting was gorgeous. About all I can say about my finished flower is that I can tell what flower it is supposed to be!

This evening I had my critique group and writers’ meeting, which I look forward to every month. I enjoy hanging out with other writers and sharing stories with them.

When I came out of the library, it was pouring rain. We haven’t had rain for a while. What we have had is a lot of pollen, so the rain is very welcome!

 

 

When You Find What You’re Not Looking For

Yesterday (Palm Sunday) I ended up staying home from church because I had an unusually miserable night and was nauseated from lack of sleep. Strange as it may sound, my sleep problems have worsened significantly since I gave up caffeine.

Most of the afternoon was spent working on a special dinner to celebrate Daniel’s birthday (Mercy’s fiancé). Most of the dinners I make for Sundays are good, but not terribly time consuming. Yesterday’s dinner was much more labor intensive. I made a big broccoli salad, “real” mashed potatoes, parmesan-topped zucchini slices, croissants (admittedly from a tube), Korean-marinated grilled pork ribs, and carrot cake.

It was the first time we’d fired up the grill this spring, and the meat turned out beautifully. All three college students attacked the meal with enthusiasm. So did I, as I had planned all along on eating this one meal (minus the potatoes, croissants, and cake!). It sure was nice to be able to sit and eat with everyone.

This morning I followed Walter up to a mechanic shop where he had dropped off the van to be worked on. We hate to spend money on it, but at the same time he needs the van for work and if we didn’t get the work done, it wouldn’t pass inspection. Late this afternoon I drove back so Walter could pick up the van and then drive it straight to his evening job.

I also went on a fruitless trip to Walmart to look for flipflops for Jasper. They don’t carry size 15 there, so I had to come home and order online.

Meanwhile, I’m still shaking my head over something that happened this morning. I needed to pour some oil out of the frying pan. I keep my frying oil in the cast iron dutch oven that I use for deep-frying, so I pointed it out to Jasper and he put it up on the stove for me. However, when I removed the lid, I did not find any oil inside. What I found was a brand-new alcohol stove still in the box:

alcohol stove

I am more than a little mystified. I have no recollection of buying that stove, let alone why I would have put it inside the dutch oven. I love alcohol stoves, so it’s not exactly surprising that I bought one—it’s just that normally I remember things like that! I looked to see if I had bought it from Amazon, and I had—in 2014. No wonder I don’t remember. Now I can’t wait to go to the lake so I can make tea on this little stove.

Oh, and the oil? I actually have two identical cast iron dutch ovens. The oil was in the other one.

My Diabetes Miracle #12: The Jagged Descent

Well, it’s been an interesting month. As promised, I have been fasting for most of it, but I have also had ten meals. I’m completely off of caffeine and all my prescription medications. I have been monitoring my blood sugar and my weight very carefully to see what effect all of this sacrifice has had.

What I’ve discovered is that I’m on a rough and jagged path. When I’m fasting, I lose weight. When I eat even a single meal, I gain weight—sometimes several pounds. So I start fasting again and I lose more weight—until I eat another meal. The good news is, that over time my “lows” are getting lower, and my “highs” are also getting lower. My weight loss graph, therefore, looks more like a saw blade than a knife’s edge!

It is clear, however, that this battle is still ongoing. My body is not yet willing to accept my new lower weight as “normal,” and it is still trying desperately to regain the weight I have so painfully lost. So this is a fight I must win. I have lost 12 pounds this month—some of them more than once! In fact, some days I actually gain weight while fasting. And I’m sure there will continue to be fluctuations depending on whether I’m fasting or not fasting.

I have also discovered I don’t experience optimal blood sugar readings until the fourth day of a fast, so that’s a point in favor of doing more frequent longer fasts instead of fasting every other day with just occasional longer fasts.

I plan to take a 3-day break from total fasting over Easter weekend. I’ll enjoy our traditional Good Friday tea (but without the hot cross buns, sadly) and our Easter breakfast and dinner. But then I’m sure I will be returning to the only thing that works for most of April.

I know, some of you reading this think I’m being very extreme in my approach. You probably still have a functioning metabolism. You may not realize that I have literally tried all the other things, and they did not work for me—and the things that did work, only worked for a few months before I started regaining weight even while following the routine to the letter. I made a commitment this time to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes, and what it takes for me is a lot of fasting. I wish that wasn’t true, but it is.

O Worship the King

Happy Palm Sunday!

O Worship the King

Robert Grant

O worship the King, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing His power and His love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.

O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space,
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.

The earth with its store of wonders untold,
Almighty, Thy power hath founded of old;
Established it fast by a changeless decree,
And round it hath cast, like a mantle, the sea.

Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.

O measureless might! Ineffable love!
While angels delight to worship Thee above,
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall all sing Thy praise.

 

The Wardrobe Switcheroo

So, I guess I forgot to post last night! I can’t even remember what happened yesterday except that I went grocery shopping and ran some errands.

Today I tackled the big job of going through my closet, putting away winter clothes, and taking out summer clothes. I also started a substantial new “giveaway” pile because so many of my clothes are just way too big on me now. Nice problem to have!

I also had a couple of errands to run and had the house to myself for several hours. I hate to admit it, but I am really looking forward to having a meal tomorrow. Today was hard on the fasting front. I tried to do another dry fast, but I got very dizzy when I was working on the closet, so I went ahead and drank water and herb tea for the rest of the day. (I checked my blood sugar and it was great.)

We are going to have a special dinner tomorrow (which is why I’m breaking my fast) so I got started on some of that stuff today.  Looking forward to next weekend when Mercy will be coming home!

Last night my husband gave me the two things he brought me from Russia. The two things I had wanted were a nesting doll and a teacup. So meet my new friend Olga:

3-24-18 Olga

And all her little sisters:

3-24-18 Olga & her sisters

I had a sentimental reason for requesting a red doll. At my boarding school when I was a kid, there was a red nesting doll like this in the girls’ sick bay. I was so fascinated by it—but of course you couldn’t play with it unless you were sick! Now I have one of my own.

The other thing I requested was a teacup in the Russian Imperial porcelain pattern. I have wanted one ever since I started collecting teacups (and teapots and teaspoons and sugar & creamer sets, etc.). I have never got one because they are expensive, but I was hoping (wrongly, as it turned out) that they’d be cheaper in Russia. Not so much. So here is my big splurge:

3-24-18 Imperial mug

I finally have a piece of this beautiful china. It is actually a large mug with a lid and saucer. I also have a big pile of guilt for asking for something that ended up being much more expensive than we expected! It sure is pretty though . . .

About That Necklace

Did you notice the pendant that Lucy was wearing in yesterday’s photo?

Lu's necklace

Ever since Christmas, I have been meaning to write about a gift I gave my daughters. The kernel of the idea was planted at a renaissance faire three years ago. A lady there had a cart with all kinds of little jars and boxes, and she would create a “charm” for you. The various elements of the charm were put into a paper napkin and they included items representing “wealth,” “happiness,” “luck,” and so forth. When I got home, I put mine in a tiny glass vial as a souvenir of the day.

Last fall, I had the idea of creating something similar for my friend Donita, so I made her a little vial full of tiny things and gave her a list explaining what they all were.

As Christmas approached, I thought about my four daughters and about how each one of them had had a very difficult and challenging year. I wanted to create a tangible gift for them that would symbolize my love and desire to encourage them.

So I found some little clear vials that could be worn as pendants. I spent weeks finding tiny things that could symbolize various qualities that I hoped would be encouraging. And because my daughters, like me, are sensitive to metal. I made beaded cords for the vial to hang from, with clasps at each end so that not even a metal clasp would touch their necks (the clasps attach to the rings from which the vial hangs). Each girl’s beads are a different color.

So what did I put inside those tiny vials?

  • a butterfly for hope
  • a cross for faith
  • a crystal bead for dreams
  • a green leaf for youthfulness
  • a red crystal heart to symbolize my love for you
  • a jingle bell for laughter
  • a music note to remind you to sing
  • a pearl for peace
  • a rose for beauty
  • a star for aspiration
  • a sword for courage
  • a teacup for friendship
  • an owl for wisdom
  • glow beads to remind you to let your light shine
  • pixie dust to help you fly
  • sequins for happiness
  • tea leaves for good health

There were two things that I couldn’t fit inside the vials, so they hang on either side—a crown to remind them they are daughters of the King, and a pair of praying hands to let them know I faithfully pray for them.

I have no idea if these pendants are actually meaningful to my girls, but so much love and thought went into them, I like to think that they wear them on days when they need a little boost of encouragement. They can look at the vials and see all those things in there, and hopefully be reminded of my love for them.

***

Today was a rough, rough day. Day four of my current fast, and for the first time I tried “dry” fasting, which meant no food and no liquids. No hot herb tea or broth or water. Nothing. I didn’t like it (at all!), but supposedly it’s very good for you. Don’t worry—I’ll be back to drinking tomorrow. I’m not sure I’d ever want to dry fast for more than one day, but some people go as long as five days!

I had my class this afternoon, but half my students didn’t make it. We are reading A Tale of Two Cities now and talking about the French Revolution. I’m sure it will be my last time to read this book, and I am savoring it, and enjoying every molecule of foreshadowing that Dickens plants into the early chapters.

Later Jasper and I finally made it to a bee meeting, after skipping several months. I just never thought about it since it is always on a class day and I am always tired after class. But Jasper is anxious to get some new bees, so I really felt we should go today.

We’re so glad we did! The speaker was talking about how to trap wild bees and his instructions were so clear that Jasper is confident he can do it. We have the perfect location for it in our backyard. So let’s hope some bees decide to move in. . . .

 

The Best-Laid Plans

Today Jasper and I had a lot of school to do, and we didn’t get it all done, but we did what we could. I also had to run some errands and cook a special dinner.

Tonight we celebrated Lucy’s birthday, which of course was last week. At least we tried to celebrate. Schedules did not align as well as we had hoped. Everyone was busy until after 8:00, and when the special curry dinner was ready, everyone was here except the birthday girl!

It finally was so late that Walter and Spencer had to eat because they have to get up early and work in the morning. Jasper faithfully waited for Lucy to come home so he could eat with her. She had made tiramisu instead of cake, so at least we could all be together to sing and have dessert. (I am actually fasting so I didn’t even get any curry.)

Lucy’s “big” present was a new pair of cleats for rugby. She started breaking them in during her practice this evening. They are getting ready to go to a big tournament in Nebraska this weekend.

I am so far behind in all my work because of not having a word processor for two weeks. So much catching up to do!

Parting Shot:

3-13-18 Lu on her birthday

Lucy on her actual birthday last week.