". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

"What is meant by daily bread?"

"Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, goods, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like." - Luther's Small Catechism, The Fourth Petition of the Lord's Prayer

So, if God tells us to pray for "devout and faithful rulers," why is it so misguided to suggest that we might also want to vote for some?

Thursday, September 22, 2016


From "Justice," The Cardinal Virtues by William DeWitt Hyde, 1903

The essence of injustice consists in treating people, not as persons, having interests and ends of their own, but as mere tools or machines, to do the things we want to have done. The penalty of injustice is a hardening of heart and shrivelling of soul; so that if a person were to treat everybody in that way, he would come to dwell in a world of things, and, before he knew it, degenerate into a mere thing himself. Lord Rosebery points out that this habit of treating men as mere means to his own ends was what made Napoleon's mind lose its sanity of judgment, and made hia heart the friendless, cheerless desolation that it was in his last days. We have all seen persons in whom this hardening, shrivelling, drying-up process had reached almost the vanishing point. The employer toward his " hands"; the officer toward his troops; the teacher, even, toward his scholars; the housekeeper toward her servants; all of us toward the people who cook our food, and make our beds, and sell our meat, and raise our vegetables, are in imminent dan- ger of slipping down on to this immoral level of treating them as mere machines. Royce, in his Religious Aspect of Philosophy, has set this forth most forcibly, among English writer ; though it lies at the heart of all the German formulas, like Kant's "Treat humanity, whether in thyself or in others, always as an end, never as a means," and Hegel's "Be a person, and respect the personality of others." Royce says: " Let one look over the range of his bare acquaintanceship; let him leave out his friends, and the people in whom he takes a special personal interest; let him regard the rest of his world of fellow men, — his butcher, his grocer, the policeman that patrols his street, the newsboy, the servant in his kitchen, his business rivals. Are they not one and all to him ways of behavior toward himself or other people, outwardly effective beings, rather than realized masses of genuine inner sentiment, of love, or of felt desire? Does he not naturally think of each of them rather as a way of outward action than as a way of inner volition? His butcher, his newsboy, his servant, — are they not for him industrious or lazy, honest or deceitful, polite or uncivil, useful or useless people, rather than self-conscious people? Is any one of these alive for him in the full sense, — sentient, emotional, and otherwise like himself, as perhaps his own son, or his own mother or wife, seems to him to be? Is it not rather their being for him, not for themselves, that he considers in all his ordinary life? Not their inner volitional nature is realized, but their manner of outward activity. Such is the nature and ground of the illusion of selfishness."

This passage from Royce lays bare the source of the greater part of the social immorality in the world, and accounts for nine-tenths of all the world's trouble. . . .

. . . The most fundamental question a man can ask about our character is whether and to what extent we habitually treat persons as persons, and not as things.

Friday, September 16, 2016


I'm resting at home today after foot surgery this morning.

After dealing with foot pain for several years with less aggressive measures (cortisone injections, orthotics) not helping sufficiently, I decided to go forward with surgery to remove a neuroma in my left foot. The particular issue I have is known as a Morton's neuroma. My podiatrist says that mine is less common in being between the second and third toes instead of the third and fourth as in the diagram. I have several friends who have had this surgery and report that it was very helpful and they would do it again. I hope I will eventually be able to report the same! Right now I am still nicely numbed up, but I have great caregivers, pain medicine at the ready if I should need it, and the next few days emptied of commitments. I am already taking short walks with a protective shoe. I go back in Tuesday for a post-op visit. Until then, sponge baths only (so local people, be warned!).

I find myself feeling very thankful for many things today. First, for a son who is able to wait on me while his dad, who stayed home much of the day, goes in to church to practice a few hours. Another perq of homeschooling! Evan made me lunch: ☺

Second, I am especially thankful for a husband that decreed 2016 as the "Year of Cheryl" healthwise. Our health plan is such that we have great coverage for one person. It is a high deductible policy but has an expense reimbursement account that partially covers the deductible. The thing is, there are only enough funds to cover part of one person's deductible. If more than one person needs care, the family deductible kicks in and there are no funds for it. And given our current budget, to cover a second deductible would be a difficult thing to do.

So even though he is older than I and has some of his own issues looming, my dear husband stepped aside and pushed me ahead of him in line. Thankfully, no one else in the family has had any serious health concerns. So far this year I have had a full physical (first one in years) including blood work, female stuff and mammogram (other than some anemia and Vitamin D deficiency everything looked good); allergy testing (confirming I am pretty much allergic to every grass, tree and mold in the world) and desensitization therapy (third time I have done this, but allergens are different in Oklahoma); a bone scan to check for any signs of the osteoporosis my mother had so badly (all looks good); a baseline colonoscopy (good), and an upper GI scope to check on previously diagnosed issues (hiatal hernia, esophageal stricture).

I'm sure you were really interested in all that. I share it to illustrate several other things for which I am thankful--that the health issues I do have are quite treatable, that we have insurance that provides for sufficient coverage to treat them, that we have the freedom to choose the doctors we want to carry out the treatment, and that those doctors are providing excellent care. I was very nervous about both last week's scopes and this week's surgery as I have had very little in the way of anesthesia or surgeries in my life. But so far everything has gone incredibly smoothly (those drugs do what they say!) and the care has been great. I am looking forward to feeling much better next year, and with the foot and allergies under control, being able to get outside and exercise more. But I worry for the future of health care in our country and pray my children will be able to have the same quality of care when they are my age.

Next year is supposed to be the "Year of Phillip" but now he is talking about putting someone else ahead of him again, as Evan seems to have some of my allergy issues and could also benefit from allergy testing and desensitization. But maybe we can get him through another year with just antihistamines and staying indoors during the worst times. Dad deserves care, too, you know? I married a good man, and I want to keep him around a long, long time.

Thank you, dear husband, for being "God with skin on" for me. P.S. I am still a little groggy and disavow all responsibility for mechanical errors or poorly constructed sentences.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Seventh Grade

For my fellow homeschoolers, here's what Evan and I have planned for seventh grade.

Bible/Catechism - The next couple of months will be spent preparing for Confirmation! Evan recently completed all his required sermon reports (yay!) and is now studying for his Confirmation test. This weekend he is going on an overnight retreat with his class. Confirmation here coincides with the celebration of Reformation. Evan also turns 13 on October 29 (wowzers), so we are planning a combined birthday/Confirmation party for the end of October. After Confirmation I would like to start a home Bible study that we can do together--maybe a book of the Bible using one of CPH's People's Bible Commentary series.

Grammar - Rules of the Game. I know this series has been around forever and is a staple for homeschoolers. I had never looked at it before. I like the inductive method it employs, prompting the student to look for patterns and then figure out the rule from the pattern. The first book looks to be quite a bit of review of what we have already studied, but I decided to start with it anyway and just go rapidly through the stuff we know until we get to the stuff that's new. There are three books in all.

Handwriting - Evan still prints unless I make him do otherwise. He can copy cursive and make it look nice, but he doesn't use it naturally. I am hoping this year to have him make the transition to using cursive in more of his written work. We are still working our way through last year's handwriting curriculum, 44 U.S. Presidents, Zaner-Bloser style.

Vocabulary - We didn't like Memoria Press's Roots of English. The chapters seemed to drag on, the pages were too busy, and the amount of information overwhelming. This year we are switching to Vocabulary from Classical Roots. So far, so good.

Math - Finishing up Teaching Textbooks 6, moving on to Teaching Textbooks 7. I love this curriculum as it is computer based and requires almost nothing from me. Evan likes it, is doing well, and it is self-grading.

History - Given the events of last year (house purchase, move, death of my mom) we did not complete everything we set out to do, including Volume 4 of A Child's History of the World. But I've decided we can revisit that time period (20th century) within the scope of U.S. history, so this year we are going to do a rapid run through American history using this series from Angela O'Dell. The series is a conversational in tone and makes for easy reading. My goal is not to get too deep in the weeds but just to have Evan get an over-arching sense of the big picture of American history and a command of the major dates. He is reading on his own and constructing a timeline as he does so. Next year we'll do the same thing for world history. Then in high school we can do some more in depth study of the how's and wherefore's of it all.

Geography - A neglected area in our homeschool so far. We're going to start with the basics in Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography. After that, I'm not sure. Stay tuned!

Computers - We are still working our way through KidCoder. Hope to finish by Christmas and go on to the game design book.

Science - This year we are going to use the series by John Hudson Tiner, starting with Exploring Planet Earth. 

Reading - In addition to readalouds and novels, we're going to use a school reader, published by Macmillan, that I picked up somewhere along the way. I am not sure of the exact grade level but judge it to be junior high content. It has poetry, fiction and non-fiction from a variety of sources plus a number of language-oriented lessons on things like dictionary usage, figurative language, logic, and the like.

My plan of incorporating some sort of art instruction last year was a big bust. We will try again this year, beginning with some lessons from the classic, Drawing with Children.

In addition to the above, Evan will have P.E., piano, organ, and French (Evan's first year) taught by Dad. We're going to keep this kid busy this year!

Friday, September 2, 2016

"Fiddler Jones"

"Fiddler Jones"

by Edgar Lee Masters

THE EARTH keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you. 
And if the people find you can fiddle, 
Why, fiddle you must, for all your life. 
What do you see, a harvest of clover?         5
Or a meadow to walk through to the river? 
The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands 
For beeves hereafter ready for market; 
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts 
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.  10
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust 
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth; 
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy 
Stepping it off, to “Toor-a-Loor.” 
How could I till my forty acres  15
Not to speak of getting more, 
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos 
Stirred in my brain by crows and robins 
And the creak of a wind-mill—only these? 
And I never started to plow in my life  20
That some one did not stop in the road 
And take me away to a dance or picnic. 
I ended up with forty acres; 
I ended up with a broken fiddle— 
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories,  25
And not a single regret.

Gerard van Honthorst, The Merry Fiddler

Monday, August 29, 2016

Good Dog

This is Willard. He refused to be still for our group picture at the musicians party we had at our house yesterday. When he ran off, our neighbor (who was taking the picture) snapped this one of him.

We are crazy about this dog. We got him in 2012, an election year. He was named after Willard Mitt Romney. :-)

Willard came from a rescue organization in Illinois. He was found on the side of the road with his brother, so we don't know what breed he is, but it is pretty obvious he has a large dose of Australian Shepherd.

(Willard with his brother at his foster home. The dog in the background is not Mom, in spite of the similar coloring.)

Cuddles with the boss his first night in a new home.

Here are a few of the many cool things Willard does.

1. He warns us about things, like mice and tornadoes.

2. When we shake our caipirinhas, he heads for the back door because he knows it's time to sit outside.

3. When we watch TV, he demands a chew stick (or three) by staring at me like the dog in Frasier until I get one for him. I guess he figures if we're going to kick back, he should get to also. However, when we have devotion, sitting in the same chairs as when we watch TV, he goes off to the side and lies down on the rug and waits quietly.

4. He is very respectful of dinnertime. He knows to stay out of the kitchen when we eat (he lies in the doorway to the dining room). After closing prayer, he knows he can then come in for his own supper.

5. He does lots of tricks! He can sit, stand, lie down, shake hands, beg, give you a high five, roll over, fetch, and even get the paper!

6. He talk to us. No, really. He talks.

7. He keeps sick people company.

In addition to the above, he loves everyone and is the gentlest, sweetest-tempered dog we have ever had. He has no territorial issues. You can stick your hand in his food bowl while he's eating--he doesn't care. He was incredibly easy to housebreak. He lets little kids get away with murder around him. He loves people and is not stressed out by them, even when we have 40 in the house as we did last night for our choir party. He comes when we call. We got him shortly after one of the most trying periods of our life, and he was a big part of helping us to heal

If only we could figure out how to turn dogs years into human ones. Or human years into dog ones. You know what I mean.

We love you, Willard!

Monday, August 22, 2016

And Then There Were Three

My adult children are back to school. It seems to be hitting me a little harder this year, perhaps because when they left last year there were still four people in the house. This year with the death of my mom, there are only three, and I am adjusting to yet another "new normal."

It has been an interesting month! Before the college kids left, we took a family camping trip to Big Bend in Texas. It was great in spite of a number of things that didn't quite go as planned. I have written an article on the experience that I hope will be available soon.

One of the challenges of the last month has been our car situation. Both my and my husband's cars had significant repair needs at the same time. As we tried to figure out how to address the situation both financially and logistically, a friend offered us his almost-brand-new Ford Explorer for our use (he has another car available to him). We gratefully accepted and have been using his vehicle for much of this month, including driving it to Texas! It was a humbling offer, one that showed us Christ's love in action. Wow. We planned to use his car again this weekend, as I needed to drive Caitlin to Missouri, and Phillip needed to attend the funeral of a dear aunt. Unfortunately, as Caitlin, Evan and I were about to hit the road, our friend's car started behaving erratically. So we had to postpone her return until Phillip got back with my car (which had been repaired). Having lost a day of travel time, I drove to and from Caitlin's college Saturday, a 16-hour trip. It was a long, long day, but one I was glad I did on Sunday when I was able to wake up in my own bed and go to my own church.

Both our cars are back in service, but my husband's is not long for this world, and we are only driving it around town. We hope to replace it around the first of the year.

Today is supposed to be the first day of school, inasmuch as we have a first day of school around here. :-) The principal is doing his part, but the head teacher is dragging. On top of the fatigue from all the driving, I have a sore throat. Nothing major, but enough to slow me down. I will try to do some planning and organizing today, and maybe we can start tomorrow. It is also going to be a week of cleaning and, I hope, unpacking most of the rest of what I want to unpack. We are having our first party in our new house next weekend, inviting all our music volunteers over to celebrate the start of a new season. Nothing like company to motivate me to do things around the house!

I have learned that the mice in these here parts think our house is their vacation home. We are slowly disabusing them of that notion.

I have been giving some thought to online security and privacy, something about which I have not worried much in the past. But as I put myself out there more and more as a writer, I think it behooves me to take more steps to protect my family's privacy, if not my own. In the near future I am going to revert all my public Facebook posts to private. I have set up a new public Facebook page where I plan to post my writings as well as other links I find informative, encouraging, or entertaining. If interested, you are invited to like and share my page!

 The three that remain. Photo taken last spring at Evan's First Communion. 
We haven't changed too terribly much since then. :-)