Saturday, January 31, 2004

They Broke Bread in Their Homes....

It feels great that someone understands why I get pleasure out of cooking. It's one way of using my gifts to craft something for others. It brings people together, gets them talking and making connections. It can set the stage for fellowship and camraderie.

My grandmother was terribly important to me, and I've missed her since she passed away close to 20 years ago, at age 91. She cooked cakes and pies for days before relatives came to visit, and she cooked up a storm on her beloved farmhouse wood stove once they were there...biscuits and gravy, country fried anything, vegetables cooked until they were the wrong green (to me), mashed potatoes, and eggs fresh from the henhouse. She canned her own garden fruits and veggies out of necessity, and because she thought fancy grocery stores were just too expensive. She ran a small cafe in the 1940s in the San Joaquin Valley, eventually going out of business because she kept feeding people who couldn't afford to pay. She was larger than life with a big outgoing personality; she knew everyone in town; she was a horrifying driver; she played the organ at church, and I dearly loved her.

I inherited her creative knack for cooking, and probably took it up in earnest in my 30s, after she died, as a way to remember and be more like her.

So it felt great to hear again from the pulpit the following verse from Acts 2:46..."They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all people."

Luke got it.

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Rich Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Another two forks up by our Friday Famiily Fellowship group, this time for my rich chocolate cake with chocolate sour ceam frosting. It was easy to make. Start with a Pillsbury Devil's Food Moist Supreme (double pudding) cake mix, add 1 1/4 cups water, 1/2 cup canola oil and 3 eggs plus one yolk. After mixing, fold in 3 oz of good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips into the batter. Bake in a greased 9" X 13" pan for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool thoroughly before frosting.

I made a frosting recipe from a 1980 Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. (This crowd loves a rich frosting.) Melt 6 oz of good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1/4 cup butter over low heat. Cool slightly when mixed, and stir in 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 tspn real vanilla and 1/4 tspn salt. Gradually add 2 cups of powdered sugar (adjust to achieve frosting consistency). Mix for 2 minutes until the frosting is smooth and consistent. Spread thickly on the cooled cake, and wait for the compliments.

This recipe fed 9 adults and 5 high and middle schoolers, with absolutely nothing left for our dog. It's a joy to see the fellowship that happens over a delicious Friday night dessert!

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Friday, January 30, 2004

The Donald Strikes TV Gold

As an escapee from 20 years in the corporate world, I find "The Apprentice" TV show to be a hoot. Not that it's anyone's idea of reality. No one but The Donald has ever made one solitary decision for Trump companies, and there is nothing entrepreneurial about Trump enterprises. But to watch 16 attractive newbie MBA wannabes and twentysomething start-up owners scramble, fight, backstab, sexualize, pout, mislead, threaten, gloat and drink to excess all in faint hopes of impressing the Big that's business reality TV.

The numbers are tallied and read aloud at the end of each episode, much like jury felony verdicts read in court. The victors are rewarded, and the losers must enter the Lion's Den....err, Board Room, where they are stalked by The Donald who eats....err, eliminates one. We feel the the glory of financial victory, and the agony of dream-shattering defeat.

And their reward for all this pseudo life-and-death struggle? A peek at the narcissistic Emperor's rich lifestyle.....a tour of his golden palace, the richest foods at 5-star restaurants, a flight on his lavish chariot-plane, golf on his waterfall-laden private links. And for the last MBA standing, a shot at being one of the Emperor's footmen or ladies-in-waiting, thus a chance to worship His Business Deity for longer than 8 televised weeks.

All that in one hour on Thursday evenings. Now that's entertainment.

Rather like watching King Solomon and his pursuits of happiness from the comfort of my couch.

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Thursday, January 29, 2004

God's Comfort Via the Internet

God really does work through the internet to comfort His children.

I bought some books through eBay from a seller I 'd never before "met," and for some odd reason, felt compelled to mention to him that Ron recently had some MRIs. I NEVER share personal info over the internet with anyone but family and friends.

The following email exchange took place today:

Jim - "We received your payment for the cookbooks. Thank you very much. Your books will be shipped out today via USPS, media mail. We hope that everything is alright with your husband. Best of wishes."

Me - "Thanks, Jim. He is suffering from hearing loss....MRIs revealed nothing, which is a good thing. They think it is a combination of heredity and his diabetes. Hearing aids should be helpful. Thank you for the kind thought."

Jim - "I am glad that your husband's MRI showed nothing. I was suffering from hearing loss in one ear and went and had it checked last year. They did an MRI and found a brain tumor. I am only 25 years old, so it was a strange thing. I had two brain surgeries to remove the tumor (it was non-cancerous). The tumor was removed, but I have lost the hearing in one ear and my eye does not track quite right. But I am here and alive! I hope the hearing aids help. It is amazing what technology can do."

Me - "I am a praise God! You are here and doing well, so that is a great blessing. We are familiar with exactly the type of benign tumor you had. My husband is 50, so this is not out of the normal age range for these types of things. This would have rendered him pretty much deaf. Jim, what a pleasure to 'chat' with you. Thank you for sharing your own experiences. It is helpful to me. Have a great day. Hope you don't mind if I say a prayer for your continued health."

Jim - "Thank you for your prayers! My wife and I are also Praise the Lord! We will keep your husband in our prayers also. Have a blessed day!"

God is good, isn't He?

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

The Age of Innocence, 1986

Where were you 18 years ago today when the Challenger space shuttle exploded 73 seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, killing its 7 crew members? I was in Century City, working on a audit for a large public company. I had lunch at the Sports Deli there with two co-workers. The restaurant was crowded to capacity, as the Sports Deli had televisons. Remember how every network televised the shuttle explosion over and over and over? It was mesmerizing to watch, and unbelievable.

We were shocked by this failure, and deeply shaken by the death of the 7 astronauts. We were pained beyond words by the death of Christa McAuliffe, the "Teacher in Space. " Ronald Reagan was President then. None of us had heard of the internet, and most of us were still computer virgins. "The War" referred to Vietnam, which had just ended a decade ago. Cable TV was an exotic luxury. We had never heard of suicide bombers, and the violent tragedies of September 11, 2001 were still 15 years away.

We were shocked by the idea that a major US venture, or NASA, could fail. We were unused to the violence of the explosion that took the lives of Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnick, Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe. We mourned for many days with the country and their families. Most of us still remember their names and even their smiling faces, waving as they boarded the shuttle.

We remember where we were when we heard the news of the Challenger, because of our deep shock.

One year ago, on February 1, 2003, another space shuttle, Columbia, disintegrated over central Texas and took the lives of 7 more of our best and brightest men and women. We might remember where we were when we heard the awful was Saturday morning, and I was at home. We were saddened more than shocked. CNN played film of the streaking shuttle breaking up for much of that day. Most of us can only remember the name of Flight Commander Rick Husband. Their collective faces and smiles aren't engraved in our memories. Only snippets of services for the fallen patriot pioneers were broadcast on TV. Pro sports events went on as scheduled that day.

It's sad to realize the violence and loss we now accept as part of normal life. It's hard to feel outrage and shock at the death of 7 people when it occurs every day, both at home and abroad. We see unspeakable tragedy on the news every night.

Today, I mourn the 7 crew members who lost their lives in the Challenger accident 18 years ago on a sunny Florida morning. I also mourn for the loss of our national innocence, when we could still feel shock and pain for the loss of 7 lives.

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The Way To Do Business

The value of all goods sold at eBay in 2003 totalled $24 billion, a 60% increase over its $15 billion sales level in 2002. eBay is no longer a business, but a way of doing business, an important distinction. It exists, now, to facilitate other businesses, much like the New York Stock Exchange, only more lucrative. It's supplanted the mom-and-pop strip mall store as well as upstart, entrepreneurial websites like those of the mid-1990s. More significantly, it's rendered outlet malls obsolete as anything but a day-long amusement destination, since major retailers, from IBM and Disney to Coach purses and every major designer, use eBay as their primary secondary market for unsold goods. Sadly, it's also replaced Avon ladies, Tupperware consultants and Creative Memories reps, as all are sold on eBay at much cheaper-than-retail prices.

The retail revolution has already occurred, although it will take a while, maybe ten years or more, for the casualties to formally expire. Put your investment pennies into blue-chip cyber retail. It can only go up from here.

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Monday, January 26, 2004

Monday Morning Musings

It's wonderful to be wrong, and even more wonderful to have found our church home. Sanctity of Life Sunday at our church was addressed to the sacredness of all life, and not just unborn life. (Actually, preborn life. Ron and I learned a new term.) It's astounding how many babies' lives have been legally extinguished in the US since Roe v. Wade....the estimate is 43 million. It's not an understandable number. Murder on that scale must be the largest genocide in human history.

If I could vote in the New Hampshire primary for the Democratic party, I would cast my vote for Dr. Judy Steinberg Dean. She seems like the nicest, most genuine person who has been associated with presidential politics in years. She almost makes her husband look like a palatable candidate. And it's heartwarming how obviously happier and more relaxed, even forthright, he is with her by his side.

How odd to see Ron's brain on film. We met with the specialist today to review his recent MRIs. The brain is nothing, useless and purposeless, without the spirit....without life. How could a doctor possibly not believe in the God that gives all life?

Today is National Bubble Wrap Day. It really is. :) Happy popping!

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Of Dinner Dates and Dreams

Ron and I begged out of our Friday night group get-together last night, and went out to dinner and a movie. Our 12 year old, our only child left at home, is gone to camp for the weekend. We rarely see movies in theaters, much less ones rated above kid-friendly. We indulged in ribs at Tony Roma's, visited about the day and week, and chatted with church friends who were at the next table. We made it just in time for the movie, a romantic comedy with oldsters Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson, and munched on requisite over-priced popcorn. ($8.50 a ticket? When did this happen? No wonder we rent movies.) The film was sweet and really funny. We laughed out loud many times.

We got home about 10:30, when it hit me....this was the very first time since our daughter was born that we didn't talk or worry about her while we were out. She never even crossed our minds...........our adored daughter never crossed our minds.

I had a dream last night that she rode her bike a great distance, but that she did it unusually quickly....and she seemed more mature and responsible when she returned to me. My next dream remembrance is of looking at new homes, sleek condos and city townhomes, something different than I've ever before lived in. I've read that houses and homes in dreams symbolize ourselves.

They grow up so fast, in the blink of an the time it takes to ride a bike in my dreams. When our last child is gone, Ron and I will be different people at a different life stage. And those new homes in my dream didn't look half bad.

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Thursday, January 22, 2004

Sanctity of Life Sunday

It's the annual Sanctity of Life Sunday at our church this Sunday,and we praise and thank God for it. should be renamed to be what it actually is: Sanctity of Unborn Life Sunday. The phrase "Sanctity of Life" implies that the church recognizes the sacredness of all life, and not just certain lives. Calling it Sanctity of Life Sunday incorrectly implies that the church takes the same proactive and public moral stance not just against abortion, but also against the death penalty and euthanasia....regardless of political winds and tithers' personal opinions.

Ron and I will gratefully celebrate the sanctity of unborn life with our fellow believers, and will say silent prayers for all the other lives' that are also sacred to God, but not covered by our church's moral proclamations.

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US Marriages

Heard a statistic today that the average length of a marriage in the US is 7.1 years. 7 years? A couple hardly knows each other after 7 years. My parents have been married 56 years in 2004, and my in-laws 52 years, and both still find ways to keep it interesting and fun for them. They would find the idea laughable that they knew anything at all about each other at 7 years.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2004

And That Leaves Only the United States....

A statistical report on the death penalty issued today by Amnesty International documents that 8 countries worldwide executed children (those who were under age 18 at the time of their crime) since 1990. The countries are:
- China
- The Republic of the Congo
- Iran
- Nigeria
- Pakistan
- Saudi Arabia
- Yemen
- The United States of America

Most of these countries have formally changed their laws since then to ban the use of the death penalty for juveniles. "That leaves the United States of America as the only country worldwide that openly acknowledges executing juveniles offenders and which claims the right to do so."

Jubilation for Murder

Nothing like a double-murder to make City Hall happy and profit-hungry merchants jubilant.

Per an Associated Press story yesterday, "Tourism officials (in San Mateo County, California) screamed with excitement Tuesday upon learning their often-overlooked bedroom town will host the Scott Peterson murder trial---after all, the droves of journalists, lawyers and curiosity-seekers should be an economic boom.

The high-profile case will generate logistical stresses, but merchants say the spotlight will stimulate a sleepy downtown in a city between San Francisco and Silicon Valley that normally gets little attention....The judge's ruling lands another bonanza of a case in a slow-paced and quiet downtown strip, lined with old thrift shops, a handful of newer restaurants and small, often vacant residential hotels.

Local business, including restaurants, hotels and car rental services, could see an influx of between $8 million and $16 million, said Anne LeClair, president of the San Mateo County convention and Visitors Bureau. 'We're ecstatic,' said LeClair. 'The economic impact is tremendous.'

'I'm stoked,' said Simon Koetke, assistant manager of Milagros Restaurant, a few blocks from the courthouse.

The army of visitors will surely benefit Bob Bryant, owner of Bob's Courthouse Restaurant, two blocks from the Hall of Justice and a frequent stop for lawyers. 'The reporters will stay for a while---it'll be like family after a week or so, I'm sure' Bryant said."

I wonder if these greedy merchants have thought of donating part of their profits from this lotto-like windfall to an actual family, that of Laci and Conner Peterson, to defray their significant costs, and to show respect for their loss.

On second thought, I don't wonder. We all know the sad answer.

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Monday, January 19, 2004

Abraham Lincoln Look-Alike?

Watching the Iowa Caucus candidates yak away last night on CNN, it struck me that John Kerry, tall and thin, tired and a bit drawn with hollowed cheeks, looked eerily like a beardless Abraham Lincoln. The more I watched him, the stranger it felt to the point of chills down my spine. Think I'll draw a beard on him and hold it next to a Lincoln pic.

I Have a Dream

Today would have been Dr. King's 75th birthday. The following is in remembrance of one of God's greatest American citizens.

"I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning

My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing:
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims' pride,
From every mountainside,
Let freedom ring."

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 28, 1963

Sunday, January 18, 2004

You Can Take the Person Out of High School, But....

A respected political strategist, discussing the packaging of candidates for the Presidential Democratic party primaries, stated to a CNN interviewer:

"You are where you went to high school."

Certainly food for thought....

Lemon Almond Cake with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Made a lemon almond cake with traditional lemon buttercream frosting for our Friday Night group, who rated it two forks up. It's quick and very easy to make....I started with a Pillsbury Lemon Moist Supreme Cake Mix, and mixed in 3 eggs, 1/3 cup canola oil and 1 cup of water. Once mixed to a smooth batter, I added 1 teaspoon of lemon extract and 3 oz of sliced almonds. Mix thoroughly, and pour into a greased 9" X 13 pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

The frosting recipe was taken from the 1950 Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook (aka the True Source of All Delicious Comfort Food Recipes.) . Blend 1/3 cup softened butter with 2 cups sifted powdered sugar. Once blended, add 2 tablespoons cream and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Beat for about 2 minutes to frosting consistency. Spread on the cooled cake, and wait for the compliments.

This recipe can serve many or a few. Mine served 8 adults and 4 middle schoolers with only crumbs left for our lucky dog.

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Friday, January 16, 2004

McDonalds for Gourmet Tastes, with Respect on the Side

McDonalds wants to be respected for its gourmet food. And that's not a joke.

Yesterday in Philadelphia, the company opened its 12th Bistro Gourmet McDonalds, with granite counters, pendant lighting, soft classical music and a menu to match: grilled veggie panini, premium expresso and Hershey's hand-dipped ice cream. Statistics show that baby boomers and their children have been leaving fast food outllets for "fast casual" restaurants, which have more ambiance, upscale food and comfy seats. Of the first 11 Bistros, 9 have experienced annual sales growth of 10% to 20% since the upgrade.

On a whim today, I stopped for lunch at our local Golden Arches. It's probably been a year since I last ate at McDonalds.....we rarely go out for fast food, and when we do, we succumb to Carl's Jr hamburgers. I was surprised by the menu.....a variety of fresh trendy salads, lots of low-priced choices, a creative selection of soft-serve ice cream desserts, plus all the traditional fare. The menu was fresh and interesting, and not just a fat-and-carb feast.

On my way out, I grabbed a handful of brochures about McDonalds: Ronald McDonald House Charities, their famed program that's housed nearly 4 million families of hospitalized children in 20 countries, and their fleet of 50 vehicles that deliver low-cost medical and dental care to needy children; McDonalds' longtime award-winning track record as an equal opportunity employer; their commitment to community involvement through scholarships, event sponsorships and recycling programs.

McDonalds is the world's largest fast food chain, so it's naturally been villanized as a symbol of the wrongs of American nutrition. We all know that nutrition is a matter of will exercised by each of us. We can choose to eat healthy or not, whether at home or at McDonalds.

I, for one, choose to order an occasional lunch at an eatery that supports our children and community. And soon that lunch could be grilled veggie panini and a steaming cup of expresso.

McDonalds, you have my respect.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Steak for the Starbucks Addict

When you think about it, it was a dish destined to be created...and in Seattle, of course. Self-confessed java junkie Alison Jester, sous-chef at Rippe's steak house, recently coated a 12-oz filet mignon with Starbucks expresso before grilling it as a culinary experiment.

She first presses each side of the steak in a plate of medium-ground Starbucks expresso roast, and then sprinkles on a smattering of the restaurant's signature seasoning mix of coarse salt, garlic, onion and black pepper. The grilled steak is finished with a thin-crusted blackened char, reminiscent of traditional peppercorn steaks. The taste is smoky with moderate roasted coffee tones.

Another reason to visit Seattle. Soon. :)

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Daily Devotional for 2004

My daily devotional book for 2004 is the classic "My Utmost for His Highest," by Oswald Chambers. Amazing how he can infuse so few words with so much meaning. Be sure to obtain an early printing, before they muted it with revisions for more current vocab and slant. My copy is the 50th printing of the 1935 edition.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Hearing Problems and Hearts

Ron has been having significant hearing problems, and is having an MRI taken tomorrow of his head, focusing on his left ear canal. The MRI will likely show nothing unusual. There is a small chance, though, that it could reveal an acoustic neuroma, which is a benign tumor that causes problems by creating pressure on the brain. A sizeable acoustic neuroma would require radiation to shrink or surgery to remove it, usually resulting in full recovery for the patient.

Neither Ron and nor I have had major surgery or even major medical problems, and neither have our parents in recent decades. We are confused and surprised, but doing fairly well at not worrying about the outcome. God is faithful and we know that, but we're from others also gives us strength, of course.

So we emailed our support network of family, friends and clergy from our present church. We feel genuinely comforted by the few notes of kindness, wisdom, and humor that we received back. We are grateful for those who took a few minutes out of their busy days. I suppose that is how one deals with silence or indifference from people you care about.... focus on the positive and let God touch the hearts of the rest.

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Sunday, January 11, 2004

Nothing New Under the Sun

The September 1900 issue of "The Land of Sunshine - The Magazine of California & The West," a 300 page mini mag devoted to non-fiction, fiction and photos of all things West, featured 24 pages of paid advertising. Among the advertisers were:

- Several oil companies, seeking investors, and one broker, R.B. Dickinson, who told potential investors "to make the best investments of this kind, you should be guided by a reliable Broker, who is thoroughly in touch with the conditions, and purchase only through him. Information of value given to clients."

- Merchants Parcel Delivery, which promised, "Parcels delivered to any part of the City for 10 cents each. Special rates to merchants."

- Mrs. Graham's Cucumber and Elder Flower Cream. "It cleanses, whitens and beautifies the skin, feeds and nourishes skin tissues, thus banishing wrinkles."

- Dr. John Wilson Gibbs' Obesity Cure, for permanent reduction and cure of obesity.

- Saint Louis Bohemian Beer, King of All Bottled Beers. A refreshing beverage to the weary traveler. Brewed and bottled in St. Louis by the American Brewing Company.

- The Chicago & North-Western Railway. Leaves Los Angeles daily 6:45 PM, San Francisco at 10 AM, arrives Chicago 9:30 AM third day. No change of cars; all meals in dining cars. Best service; quickest time.

- Southern California Music Co. Musical instruments of all kinds, sizes and description. Pianos, pianolas, violins, guitars, mandolins, banjos, music boxes, wind instruments.

- Elgin Watches, The World's Standard. Run all 'round the world--- run with precision--- run for a lifetime.

- Williams Sauce, for meat, fish, gravies, soups. This sauce has no equal. If this sauce is not satisfactory, return it to your grocer and he will refund your money

- Beautiful bust guaranteed by The Madame Taxis Toilet Co. Corsique is a simple home treatment which positively fills out all hollow and scrawny places, develops and adds perfect shape to the whole form wherever deficit. By its use, any woman who lacks development may soon acquire a form of perfect shape and loveliness. Guaranteed to develop any bust or money refunded.

- An educational advertising section, which included ads from Pomona College, Occidental College (1st semester began September 26, 1900; 3 majors offered....classical, literary and scientific), College of Immaculate Heart and Los Angeles Business College as well as Miss Orton's Boarding & Day School for Girls, The Brownsberger Home School for Shorthand & Typewriting and National Correspondence School of Nursing.

- Magic Seals and Lucky Stones to wear on your person. Thousands testify to the good results obtained by wearing them.

- The Hollenbeck Hotel, in the heart of Los Angeles. "Has first-class cafe and rooms with bath and other conveniences. Rates are reasonable, its conveniences ample and its service prompt and courteous."

- Singer Sewing Machines.

- Dunlop Pneumatic Tires, for bicycles, carriages and automobiles. "The only tire you'll ever need."

- Many real estate brokers, offering large parcels of land across the state at the outrageous prices of $20 to $45 per acre. "Small tracts for home-seekers, large tracts for Colonies. Absolutely the best land proposition offered in California" boasted J.W. Bell, agent.

- The Sahlin Perfect Form and Corset Combined. Grace-Elegance-Comfort. "Physicians approve this new device, which retains all the good and avoids the evil of the ordinary corset. There can be no compression or displacement of heart, lungs or stomach. Nothing is lost in style or shape."

The medium may be different....cyber-messaging at warp speed now instead of monthly mags that took weeks or more to be delivered....but the messages are very much the same. It struck me as I readied this 100 year old tome for eBay sale, that Solomon was so on target when he penned, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1: 9.

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Saturday, January 10, 2004

Intimacy in Marriage

One of the great benefits of marriage is going to sleep every night in someone's loving arms. I will never understand marriages where husband and wife consistently have different bedtimes.

We all know very very little about what goes on in other marriages. But I have to tell you....the marriages I have known where the couple voluntarily kept different sleep times invariably ended in divorce or obvious estrangement. Warmth and intimacy is just not a priority in those marriages.

What I don't understand is why. What's it all about then?

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Oops, Howard Dean Did It Again

Oops, he did it again, to borrow a musical phrase from Britney Spears, who knows a thing or two herself about making mistakes. Howard Dean tried once more to play the religion card, but he's still not much of a card player.

While Howard Dean has stated that he doesn't turn to faith as a source of knowledge or inspiration to aid him in policy decisons, he sort of wants everyone to know that sometimes he does....? So....yesterday, he cited his decision as Vermont governor to sign a bill legalizing civil unions for gays as an instance when he was influenced by his Christian beliefs.

"My view of Christianity is that the hallmark of being a Christian is to reach out to people who have been left behind,"Dr. Dean began admirably.

OK so far.

"So I think there was a religious aspect to my decision to support civil unions." Think? You're not sure? Trying to make retroactive political hay? OK, he's a politician. They all make political hay out of the past. Possibly a genetic flaw in politicians. They can't help it.

But Dr. Dean then clarifies for us. He can't leave well enough alone. He just can't keep his mouth shut.

"From a religious point of view, if God had thought homosexuality is a sin, he would not have created gay people."

Huh? God created everything, but man has free will. Adam and Eve proved it first. Maybe Dr. Dean missed that story and its larger meanings. (Maybe he was looking for it in the New Testament.)

So using Dr. Deans' theology, God created murder, incest, infidelity? Does that mean that God also created "Joe Average," "Extreme Makeover" and everything on the WB and Fox? I thought bad programming was pretty much a sin, but I guess not. God created it, so it must be good. ("God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." Genesis 1: 31)

By the way, Dean says he doesn't consider homosexuality to be a sin, but he opposes gay marriage. He has not yet cited his Biblical support for this stance.

I want to be helpful....I'm searching now for Jesus' teachings on hypocrisy.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2004

My Coffee-Bean Laden Ship Just Sailed In

My coffee bean-laden ship just sailed into the harbor. I knew coffee had to be good for me.

A 12-year Harvard Medical School study released yesterday showed that long-term caffeinated coffee drinkers cut their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by a whopping 30 to 50 percent compared with those who foolishly don't drink this nectar of the gods. These results confirm findings last year by a team of scientists in the Netherlands.

More than 125,000 healthy men and women free of diabetes, cancer and heart disease were followed by this study from 1986 to 1998, and asked about their intake of regular and decaf coffee. Those who drank six or more cups of coffee daily experienced the greatest decline in diabetes risk--- men by more than 50% and women by nearly 30%.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 19,000 previous worldwide studies on coffee have shown it to lower risk of gallstones, colon cancer, cirrhosis of the liver and Parkinson's disease.

I am printing all this out to give to my doctor, who once (and only once) told me to give up coffee. Now please understand, I am an obedient patient, but that was beyond reasonable. (I actually told him, nicely, to get real...but I would cut down.)

Perhaps he will now see the wisdom of my ways. Well, one of them, anyway.

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Monday, January 05, 2004

Howard Dean Plays the Religion Card, Badly

Excerpts from a January 4, 2004 New York Times article, because it just needs no other words, and besides, people would think I made this up :

"Little by little, the Lord is seeping into Howard Dean's presidential campaign....The changes come amid concern from several corners about the stridently secular tone of his campaign so far. 'I'm still learning a lot about faith and the South and how important it is,' said Dean last Friday, in contrast to an interview a couple months ago when Dr. Dean plainly stated, 'I don't think that religion ought to be part of the American policy.'

'I'm pretty religious' he responded the other day in Waterloo, Iowa. 'I pray every day, but I'm from New England so I just keep it to myself.'

Asked about his favorite New Testament book, Dr. Dean named Job, adding ,'But I don't like the way it ends. Some would argue, you know, in some of the books of the New Testament, the ending of the Book of Job is different. I think, if I'm not mistaken, there's one book where there's a more optimistic ending, which we believe was tacked on later.'

An hour after his comments, Dr. Dean returned to the clutch of reporters, saying he realized he had misspoken because Job is not in the New Testament. 'Many people believe that the original version of Job is the version where there is not a change. Job ends up completely destitute and ruined. It's been a long time since I looked at this, but it's believed that was added much, much later. Many people believe that the original ending was about the power of God and the power of God was almighty and all knowing and it wasn't necessary that everybody was going to be redeemed.'

Asked again about his favorite part of the New Testament, Dr. Dean said, 'Anything in the Gospels.'

Dr. Dean grew up spending Sundays in an Episcopal church, and attended religious boarding school, but became a Congregationalist after the Episcopal church he belonged to in Burlington, Vt. refused to yield land for a bike path around Lake Champlain that he championed. HIs wife is Jewish and their children observe both traditions, though the family stopped attending services years ago after scolding sermons about once-a-year attendees.

His press secretary, Doug Thornell, telephoned late Friday night to say that Dr. Dean did not mean to imply he was some kind of expert. 'He obviously has read the Bible and knows the passages fairly well,' Mr. Thornell said, 'but just in terms of having a theologian's knowledge of the Bible, he doesn't want to pass on the impressions that he does.' "

Based on Mr. Thornell's comments, I am guessing that Dr. Dean at least knows the Bible better than his press secretary.

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Sunday, January 04, 2004

Milestones of the New Year

The beginning of a new year, for me, is a time of renewal and excitement....a blank slate and a fresh start. I even love the milestones that herald a new year:

- a new energy-inspiring sermon series by our pastor
- the Christmas tree, decorations and house lights are put away for 11 months
- leftovers from big holiday meals have been eaten or thrown away
- our next-door neighbors got back today from their post-Christmas family visit to Oregon
- the roses had their annual pruning for the rainy months
- children return to school tomorrow

The holidays are wonderful, but the peace and joy of everyday life are important blessings, too.

Roasted Turkey Pasta Soup

Created a new soup last night from leftovers and store bargains, and my family loved it. First, I roasted 2 turkey legs (They cost less than $2. Great freezer stock-up items.) for 1 hour, after seasoning them with garlic salt and lemon pepper. Empty three 14 oz. cans of chicken broth into a large pan, add roasted turkey cut from the bone, and heat slowly. Saute 2 cups of broccoli florets in canola oil for 4 minutes, then transfer to the soup mixture. Bring to a gentle boil. Add 8 oz. of small seashell-shaped pasta, and stir continually for 20 minutes. I then added 1 tablespoon of lemon pepper and 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Makes a delicious and satisfying soup. Serve with sour dough rolls and a fresh green salad.

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Friday, January 02, 2004

Using Our Hollywood Video Gift Card

"We got this $10 gift card from a neighbor for Christmas, and I picked out two movies. Do I rent them here? I've never been here before. We usually go to a small video rental store. " I asked the Hollywood Video clerk.

"I just need your Hollywood Video card," she replied.

"I've never been to a Hollywood Video before. I don't have a card. I DO have a gift card," I repeated.

"OK. I need your drivers license and a credit card, and you need to fill out an application."

"Why do you need a credit card? I have a gift card. Here it is."

"For collateral, but we won't charge anything on it. It's for our corporate office in case you steal the movies."

"Collateral? That sounds like you ARE charging on it."

"I got the wrong word. They just check your address."

"OK," I relented. No choice, really.

"Just a minute while I find an application." She rummaged through drawers and cabinets behind her. She ran to a back office, but returned empty-handed. She perused the same cabinets.

"I can't find any applications........ Can you go to another Hollywood Video?"

I looked out the window at pouring rain and clogged traffic. "No, I can't today."

"I'm sorry. We can't rent you any videos today, but you can BUY a video."

"No thanks. My family just wanted to use this gift card to enjoy a movie tonight" I sighed.

I remember again why we patronize small local businesses, whenever possible. Less hassle, less red tape, more concern for the customer.

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Thursday, January 01, 2004

Coffee Cake, French Roast and The Rose Parade

Started the New Year in our traditional way....just the three of us in our robes, enjoying freshly-baked cinnamon coffee cake, melons and strawberries, French Roast coffee and apple juice while watching the Rose Parade live.

God's in His heaven, and all's right with the world! At least at the beginning of one more new year.

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