Monday, April 26, 2010

Poem: Walkingsticky

A tip of the hat to Magpie Tales and Lewis Carroll

'Twas silly, but his tapping toes
Did nimbly jive with rhythmic air.
Was there a chance?  Could he, too, dance
Like dashing Fred Astaire?

"Beware the walking stick, my son!
The polished shaft, the silver top!
Eschew top hat and monocle,
Lest you become a fop!"

But though his father looked askance,
The youth pursued his classy dream.
He spun and danced, and soon advanced
To join the ballroom team.

As lost in Terpsichorean thought,
With props in hand, back home he walked,
A Bigger Jock crashed through the wood,
And all the path he blocked.

Grunting with malicious sneer,
The Jock said, "Football makes a man!
If you just dance, you must be queer.
Come, fight me, if you can!"

Swiveling to face the lout,
He said, "You ought to change your tune.
Your sweat leaves ladies passing out.
My leading makes them swoon."

ONE, two, three, ONE, two, three, in his brain,
He chasséd to avoid the charge,
And downed the Jock with well-thrust cane,
Although the foe was large.

'Twas chilly, but his tapping toes
Stayed warm the homeward journey through.
The lad was glad, when need arose,
He'd taken fencing, too!

Friday, April 23, 2010


I finished this quilt just in time to present it to Rollo for his 7th birthday.
I think it took about a year.
Long may it wave, and keep my not-so-little boy warm!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fiction: Time-Crunch Man

Inspired by this photo prompt at Magpie Tales, not to mention the way things seem to go around here...

Time-Crunch Man
A Hero for the Last Minute
Olympia--As the clock ticked toward Monday's deadline for the end of the costly special session of the legislature, lawmakers noticed a mysterious figure circulating through the Senate chamber.
   "He proposed a compromise, called for a vote, and we were done on the stroke of midnight," recalled a sleep-deprived senator from Seattle.  "Who was that masked man?"
   Yes, there is a new hero in our midst.  Just before press time, the Daily Planetesimal succeeded in obtaining an exclusive interview with Time-Crunch Man.
   With the power to finish any task at the last minute, Time-Crunch Man has been a very busy superhero since his arrival.
   "Term papers, contract bids, picking up children from daycare, driver license renewal--I've done a bit of everything," he said when asked about recent activities.  "I can help with checking in at the airport, scholarship applications, slow construction work, and even editors' deadlines," he added as the reporter checked his watch.
   Like any hero, Time-Crunch Man has his limitations.  "My power only activates when 93% of the allotted time has elapsed," he warned.  Moreover, he can be in only one place at a time.  How did he manage tax season?
   "It was a doozy," Time-Crunch Man confessed.  "Luckily, people receive their withholding statements at different times, so the last 7% of time begins slightly differently for everyone."
   If Time-Crunch Man is not available for your crisis, he will dispatch his trusty sidekick, Excuse Boy, to persuade your foreman, wife, board of directors, or probation officer that your efforts will be worth the wait.
   Hailing from the tiny nation of Procrasty, Time-Crunch Man grew up in an idyllic agricultural community.  His uncle described the incipient hero for the Daily Planetesimal:
   "We could always count on him to get the crops in just before a storm, but he wasn't good for much the rest of the season.  Now that we have better equipment and modern forecasting methods, we have less need for his, er, gifts.  I persuaded him that there would be more scope for his talents in the busy United States of America."
   And dozens of area citizens agree.
   "I can't believe he got us through that traffic jam," gasped an EMT.  "But with his help, the patient reached the ER before it was too late."
   "He got me to the church on time," testified a new husband, "And delivered our passports just in time for a whirlwind honeymoon!"
   "I was so emotionally connected with Oprah's guests today that I forgot to bake cupcakes for the bake sale tonight.  Time-Crunch Man showed up in the cutest apron and whipped up a batch just before the PTA president called," said a grateful suburban housewife.
   Reactions to Time-Crunch Man's arrival has not been unmixed.  Unsung heroine Prepara fears he may undermine her own work in the area.
   "I've been here for years, trying to teach people to plan, to set and follow a reasonable schedule, to have a little foresight, for crying out loud," she said, repairing a tiny tear in her schoolmarmish uniform with a single stitch.  "These last-minute solutions are flashy, but not dependable."
   (Prepara has provided the Daily Planetesimal with a well-written 3-page supplement on her own heroic work.  See the Monday edition.)
   "We'll never call him," scoffed an engineer at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.  "He's not nuke qualified, and I bet he doesn't have a security clearance.  Besides, overtime work is an important part of our culture in the yard."
   But the criticism does not faze our hero.  While we cannot reveal the name of his mild-mannered alter ego, we can report that Time-Crunch Man spends his off-duty hours snoozing on the couch, relaxing on a lawn chair, or playing solitaire, waiting for his next opportunity to perform under pressure.
   "I'm here to serve when it is almost too late," Time-Crunch Man said as he rushed off to pick up some prescription medication, a new water heater, and a gift for a nearly-forgotten anniversary.  "When in haste, I save face!"

Monday, April 19, 2010

Top o' the Spring to You

Last summer I sewed a dress for a bridesmaid using Butterick 4978.  I was not sure at first whether I liked the design, but it grew on me.  I thought the gathered neckline might be flattering for my figure.  So, this spring I decided to use it to make myself a top.  But I made some adjustments.  First, I decided to skip the keyhole and the neck binding of the Butterick bodice, and just used the lining to support the gathers.  I borrowed the lined cap sleeves from Simplicity 2965, and redrew the armholes of the bodice to match.  I combined the upper edges of the Butterick midriff pieces with the lower top of Simplicity 5193 to draw the lower pieces.  I made it all in a bright, fun floral fabric because I am ready for Spring!  Getting it all right was a interesting adventure, but I am happy with the result. 
So I have entered it in the Spring Top Week contest at Made by Rae.  Check it out!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Faith and Art

This is the mountain I have been faithfully moving for the last few weeks.  This mountain of rich garden soil came to me in the first place, but it is up to me to distribute it to the garden beds.  So I show my faith by my work, shovel by shovel, bucket by bucket.  Sometimes I have help -- Rollo excavating train tunnels, or Scoot giving the loaded wagon a push.  D2 always wants to be involved, and last week he found a new way to contribute.
He started poking twigs into the bucket of soil.  When I asked why, he said, "I'm decorating it!"  I'd remove the twigs before dumping the dirt, and he would replace them in each load.  The next day he used this aesthetic sense to decorate his peanut butter and jelly sandwich with Skittles.  It was, well, colorful.  And he ate it all together.  But he has not repeated that recipe. 

 Speaking of decorations, here are our Easter egg masterpieces for this year. . .
and D2's partners in decoration!

Friday, April 9, 2010

What I Should Have Said

Esprit de l'escalier, the French call it.  "A clever remark that occurs to one after the opportunity to make it is lost." (SOED)  Though it wasn't a witty retort I needed to make.  More of a testimony.

A couple of weeks ago I was discussing with a friend and her friend the important question of how to help our children stay active in the church.  We mentioned the usual recommendations, family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and seminary for the teens.  As we went along, he said something to the effect of "I'm not one of those people who think it's not okay to miss church once in a while.  My wife would be, but I won't let her."  While I tried to decipher his remark, they discussed their similar feelings on the matter and choices they've made.  And then he said, "Really, how can you know what's right?"

"Ask," I replied.

"Right," he said, "We can discuss it, like this."  And the conversation moved on.

But that's not what I meant.  Don't ask me.  Ask the Lord.  Remember James 1:5?

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

The promise applies to all of us, not just young prophets.  The Lord gave the commandments.  If you are not sure how to keep them, ask him. 

...and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 10:4)

The answer may come as you as you study the scriptures, or discuss with family or friends, or through the words of his servants, the prophets.  (I thought the talks by Keith B. McMullin and Bruce A. Carlson in this April's conference were helpful.)  But if you are really looking for an answer, you will recognize it because the Lord

...will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. (Doctrine and Covenants 8:2)

We can know the truth, straight from the source.  He wants to tell us.  It is a promise.

Now, as it happens, I am one of those people who go to church every Sunday.  That is how I was raised.  We had family prayer every day.  Family scripture study was a later development.  If we didn't have family home evening, it was usually my fault.  I did learn a lot in seminary.  And we went to church every week.  My sisters and I still do.  I'm grateful that my husband feels the same way.  We go to church every Sunday, even if we are really tired.  Even if we aren't feeling well.  Even if one of the boys throws a major tantrum, gets strapped into his car seat kicking and screaming, and refuses to get dressed until we are in the parking lot.  Even when we are on vacation.  Of course, if someone is really sick, we make arrangements, but otherwise we don't have to decide about church attendance.  We have already chosen.  It is not always easy, but the blessings accumulate.  And, at least once, our habit has led to a missionary experience.

A couple of years ago, we took a somewhat chaotic vacation in Japan.  After a week full of travelling and sight-seeing, we were ready to go to church.  We were staying on base at NAS Atsugi, so we asked the chaplain's office for information about LDS meetings.  They didn't know the schedule, and the person on their contact list had an unlisted number, so they couldn't give it to us.  But they told us that the chapel was just outside one of the gates to the base.  So on Sunday morning, we got dressed and started walking.  It was a hot, humid August day.  As it became clear that the road to that gate went around the entire flight line, we had some discussion of "Where is the church?"  "How much farther is it?"  "What time were we supposed to be there?" (from Scoot the Punctual)  But I don't recall anyone wondering why we had to go to church, or suggesting that we go swimming instead.  We just kept going. 

Then an SUV traveling in the opposite direction stopped, and a family asked if we needed help.  We explained our situation, and they offered us a ride.  The wife had a good friend in the ward, and knew where the building was.  They were very friendly, but surprised.  "You want to go to church when you're on vacation?"  We told them we needed the peace the meetings would bring, a rest from seeing the world.  They dropped us off in time to take the Sacrament with the local ward, then join the Americans for classes.  After the meetings we learned that our chauffeur's wife had sent a text message to her friend to be sure that someone gave us a ride back to our lodgings after church. 

I don't know what happened later.  But I do know that our devotion made a good impression on this family.  We made them wonder what there was about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that would cause a family with small children to walk an unknown distance through the heat to attend meetings while on vacation in a foreign land.  We were not, and I am not now, trying to show off.  We were just doing what we have found to be right.  And it made us happy.

Ask, and it shall be given you... (Matthew 7:7)