Friday, August 26


Okay, so I have promised many posts with heaps of pictures of various projects and gatherings over the past 9 months, but have failed miserably in keeping y'all updated on here. To tell the truth, I'd much rather read about what's going on with others than write what I've been up to. Part of this is because it's less work on my part, and part of it is that I've been ashamed for having posted so little in the past year.

Anyway, today I want to give you guys a good blog post. Pictures. Stories. The whole nine yards. Without further ado, here are the highlights from our month.

The first weekend of the month we spent three days camping with some friends, all of whom are part of our newly formed homeschool group. We had a great time despite a few unforeseen problems, including a huge rainstorm that sent us all running for shelter.

That same weekend was the county fair and I entered six items, five of which placed, and three of which got first place. When Toby and I went to pick up our entries, we also went on a few rides and got root beer floats afterwards. I like having a big brother. :)

Here is a picture of my three clothing items, all of which placed first.

This past Sunday we traveled several hours away to visit with some friends. Their town was having their annual hoedown, so we headed over there and toured the rustic buildings filled with all sorts of cool old tools and everyday items.

There was real, fresh ice cream, so Rae and I just had to have some.

Here is a shot of all the kids together.

From left to right: Jon, Rae, Grace, Noah, Toby, Lynae, and Michael. We all had a great day together and can't wait to get together again.

Other than that, my month has consisted of gardening, math, soapmaking, and lots of coffee.

Friday, July 29

Bach Flower Remedies

I recently read Bach Flower Remedies by Julian Barnard for the Natural Medicine course I was taking and found it very intriguing. When I said Bach, you probably thought of the great composer Johann Sebastian Bach, but the man I am referring to today is Dr. Edward Bach.

Born in 1886 in England, Dr. Bach studied medicine in London and became a doctor until 1930 when he left his practice in search of a new way of healing. Over the next 6 years, Dr. Bach discovered 38 flower remedies for different emotional imbalances which he believed were the cause of many physical diseases.

His way of discovering the remedies was indeed, very unorthodox as he claimed to have a psychic connection with the plants. When experiencing a negative emotion, he would hold his hand over different plants until he found one that alleviated the condition. He would then study the plant, it's root system, the flowers, the way it grew, it's heartiness, etc., and found incredible parallels between the plant and the people and conditions it was able to treat.

Although his work was controversial, there is over 70 years of evidence that his remedies can, in fact, change a person's behavior and help them become a more balanced person. Someone that is always blaming themselves whether or not they are at fault should take pine. Someone that is easily discouraged should try gentian.

If you would like to find out more about Bach's 38 remedies or are interested in finding out what you could use, check out this website. Also, you might check your local health foods store to see what they offer in the way of Bach flower remedies.

"It is only because we have forsaken Nature's (I say God's) way for man's way that we have suffered, and we have only to return to be released from our trials. In the presence of the way of Nature (again, I believe in God's power, not Nature's) disease has no power; all fear, all depression, all hopelessness can be set aside. There is no disease of itself which is incurable." Dr. Bach

Wednesday, March 23

Uncle Tom's Cabin

I recently read Uncle Tom’s Cabin and was asked to write my thoughts on it here. Discussion is welcome.

First of all, I would like to point out that if anyone today tried to get a book like this published today, it would not happen without some serious editing. The author appears to be racist in the extreme, to the point that modern readers cannot help feeling somewhat embarrassed reading her language. From beginning to end the book is riddled with racist descriptions and statements, clearly showing the author's bias. I have listed a handful of examples, and put the racist keywords in bold for you skeptical speed readers.

“For convenience sake, we have said, hitherto, two gentlemen. One of the parties, however… did not seem… to come under the species.”

“…and though the auditors immediately about him were generally of his own colour, it not unfrequently happened that they were fringed pretty deeply with those of fairer complexion…”

“Tom, who had to the full the gentle, domestic heart, which, woe for them! has been the peculiar characteristic of his unhappy race…”

“The African, naturally patient, timid, and unenterprising…”

“…attired in hunting-shirts, and trailing their loose joints over a vast expanse of territory, with the easy lounge peculiar to the race…”

“Tom, who had the soft, irrepressible nature of his kindly race…”

“The negro… has deep in his heart, a passion for all that is splendid, rich, and fanciful… which… draws on them the ridicule of the colder and more correct white race.”

“If ever Africa shall show an elevated and cultivated race—and come it must, sometime, her turn to figure in the great drama of human improvement—life will awake there with a gorgeousness and splendour of which our cold western tribes faintly have conceived. In that far-off mystic land of gold, and gems, and spices, and waving palms, and wondrous flowers and miraculous fertility, will awake new forms of art, new styles of splendour; and the negro race, no longer despised or trodden down, will, perhaps, show forth some of the latest and most magnificent revelations of human life. Certainly they will, in their gentleness, their lowly docility of heart, their aptitude to repose on a superior mind and rest on a higher power, their childlike simplicity of affection, and facility of forgiveness. In all these they will exhibit the highest form of the peculiarly Christian life…”

“They stood, the representatives of their races. The Saxon, born of ages of cultivation, command, education, physical and moral eminence; the Afric, born of ages of oppression, submission, ignorance, toil, and vice!”

“… struck at once upon the feelings of a sensitive and impressible race…”

“…of all races of the earth, none have received the Gospel with such eager docility as the African. The principle of reliance and unquestioning faith, which is its foundation is more a native element in this race than any other; and it has often been found among them, that a stray seed of truth, borne on some breeze of accident into hearts the most ignorant, has sprung up into fruit, whose abundance has shamed that of a higher and more skilful creature.”

“…the capabilities of the race, are encouraging in the highest degree… they are remarkably intelligent and quick to learn.”

Never mind that most of these descriptions and statements are either false or offensive. It should not be encouraging or remarkable to see a black person's ability to learn, for example: They are all humans! They are 100% the same as any other person of any skin color, thinking that their intelligence or ability to learn would be any different is racist!

Also, notice how most of these quotes paint all people who happen to have darker skin as gentle, kind, patient, Christian people. One would almost think that being born with darker skin was a ticket into heaven, especially compared to the stereotypical lighter skinned person in the book, who is painted as a spiritually disoriented and mentally unsound brute, as shown in the following quotes:

“And the trader leaned back in his chair… apparently considering himself a second Wilberforce.”

“Mr Wilson’s mind was one of those that may not inaptly be represented by a bale of cotton—downy, soft, benevolently fuzzy, and confused.”

“’It’s undoubtedly the intention of Providence that the African race should be servants—kept in a low condition,’ said… a clergyman…”

“’…and I’m sure they can go to church when they like, though they don’t understand a word of the sermon, more than so many pigs… they are a degraded race, and always will be…’”

The general idea throughout the book is that slaves are inherently Christian and slave owners are inherently heathen.

“’Depend on it, God will bring you into judgement for this.’”

“…injustice is… inherent… in the slave system, it cannot exist without it.”

There were some things the author stated that makes a reader question her faith.

“There is one thing that every individual can do, they can see to it that they feel right.

Wait... so... huh? I mean, every individual can feel right, I suppose, but I had no idea that was important in the grand scheme of things!

“Rachel never looked so truly and benignly happy as at the head of her table.”

Rachel is a Quaker wife. Her husband is there with them. And yet he is barely mentioned at all. Why isn't he sitting at the head of his table? Why does he take a submissive role in the family leadership? We are supposed to see this family as a sort of ideal, or at least the author wants us to.

Then there is a letter written by a darker skinned man to a friend, which is not only full of racist remarks, but also ironies to modern readers.

“’It is with the oppressed, enslaved African race that I cast my lot…

‘The desire and yearning of my soul is for an African nationality…

‘…On the shores of Africa I see a republic… this republic has at last become an acknowledged nation on the face of the earth…

‘…the African race has peculiarities yet to be unfolded in the light of civilisation and Christianity, if not the same with those of the Anglo-Saxon, may prove to be, morally, of an even higher type.

‘I trust that the development of Africa is to be essentially a Christian one. If not a dominant and commanding race, they are, at least, an affectionate, magnanimous, and forgiving one…

‘I myself, I confess, am feeble for this—full half the blood in my veins is the hot and hasty Saxon…’”

The irony of this whole letter is that it predicts that Africa and its development will be as Christian or more so than American civilization, and have even higher moral standards. What we see in reality is... well, less than their wild predictions.

And finally, as a fan of all things related to fairies, I personally was offended by the author calling one of the villains a "sooty gnome." But I will adopt the forgiving and gentle characteristics of my African superiors and not hold her accountable for this offense.

Wednesday, February 23

The Good Earth

Someone asked me recently if I like reading. I told her that I am not a good reader but if I have time, I do enjoy reading if the book is well written or is about something that interests me. But try and find a book about dragons that is poorly written, I dare you.

A lot of the things Ma has had me read lately I have not enjoyed even though they were well written, because they were about things that nobody enjoys. Things like Russian work camps. Stuff that sends chills up your spine. And so as I picked up The Good Earth, I was cautious and did not expect to enjoy it. But I dove right in anyway.

It didn't take long for me to recognize the story. I had not finished the first chapter before I knew the basic plot. The man gets married, treats his wife like crap, his wife is still loyal, he becomes wealthy and falls in love with a young woman and marries her, the first wife dies, young chick gets the first wife's pearl earrings. You can even ask Lynae if I didn't tell her all those things would happen.

I don't know how long ago it was, but I knew I had seen a movie of this story sometime a very long time ago. I remembered the young man at the beginning of the story was getting married that day, and he was so excited that he was even going to wash his whole body. I think I was eight or possibly younger when I saw it. But I remembered it.

The book is believable, and could very easily be a true story. It is about humans who act and think like humans. Nobody reads it and wishes they had a similar life to any of the characters, but I think everyone sees a little of themselves in it if they are honest.

The first part of the book is enjoyable. The young family is poor and they work very hard, O-lan working in the fields with her husband until she must take a break for a few hours to give birth, and then coming back out to help him for the rest of the day. Wang Lung treats his wife fairly and he trusts her. We also see that he is honest, when even though they haven't eaten meat in months he refuses to eat meat that his son stole.

The high point of the story is brief. Wang Lung acquires a bag of silver and his wife finds a handful of jewels, which allows them to purchase three hundred acres of the finest rice fields and makes them wealthy. But a bad year comes and Wang Lung, having nothing to do but wait, goes into town and spends his time with another woman. Over and over again he tells himself that because he owns so much land and has so much money, it is okay for him to spend time with other women besides his wife, because everyone who has as much land or money as he does so. And then he tells himself that it's okay for him to marry this woman because everyone with as much land or money as he has does so.

That's where the story starts heading to its low point. Wang Lung keeps getting richer and buying things that should make him happy, but they don't help. Anything he buys is like a band aid. He sends his sons to school, but the oldest son skips school and gets into mischief with his cousin, and his youngest son won't be content until he becomes a soldier. His middle son is thrifty and brings him joy, but even he fails his father by the end of the story, ignoring his father's counsel to not sell the land. As he gets older, Wang Lung realizes that everything is backwards. His daughters make him happier than his sons, and of them all the one that brings him the most joy is retarded. The book doesn't really say what the child's problem was, but she is always referred to as the "poor fool" who couldn't speak or understand anything that was happening. The young new wife is constantly demanding things, and by the end of the story he goes out of his way to annoy her.

The story closes with Wang Lung leaving his palace to live in his old earthen hut, and to be near the land where he was born and where he was content with O-lan. "Out of the land we came, and into it we must go," he says, reminding us of Genesis 3:19, "For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

Saturday, February 19

It must be February again

Wow, am I feeling dark. Of all my outlets, there aren't really any where I'm truly free to express myself. At least that's my current perception. Maybe it's better that way.

February in Minnesota is somewhat like transition in childbirth.

Tuesday, February 8

Grace's Blouse

This year, I have been taking a sewing course from one of the ladies in our church for high school. Mom drew up a list of things she wanted me to know how to do by the time the course was over. One of the things Mom wanted me to learn was how to smock. Well, when I first read that, I had no clue what smocking was. Thankfully, my teacher, Mrs. B., knows all about that stuff. That's why Mom wanted her to teach me.
Anyway, Mrs. B. got out some books and found a pattern that included smocking that she thought I might be interested in making. It was for a girls blouse that looked absolutely darling. Right away I could envision Grace skipping around in it on Christmas morning with a big smile on her face because I had made something specially for her. I said sure, and we started cutting out pattern copies and fabric.
Fast forward about a month and a half. Christmas morning. The blouse was finished, wrapped, and waiting under the tree. With my camera on and in hand, I watched as Grace unwrapped it.
Isn't she cute?
Look at those eyes! You think she likes it?! Me too. :)
Here's what the front looks like.

A close-up of the front smocking. Note that I used three different colors; starting with the boldest and ending with the lightest to give the appearance, from far away, that the smocking gradually disappears into the lower front.

The inside of the front smocking. That smocked row at the top helps hold all the pleats in place.

The outside of one of the sleeves. I used the same pattern and colors for the sleeves as with the front.

And the inside of the sleeve. Here I did three rows on the inside because there are no seams to help hold the pleats together. This also gives that smocked area on the sleeve some elasticity.

So what do you think? Does it look daunting to you? Well, stay tuned; I'll be posting about my second smocking project with more pictures and more in-depth descriptions soon. :)


Tuesday, January 11

Hello again!

It certainly has been a while since I blogged! I must confess, blogging has been on my mind for quite a long time, I just never got up the courage to admit that I should have done it sooner. Until now.

I should have done this sooner.

Fear not though, nothing very bad has happened to make me remember our audience. Obviously, I have not died, and you will be glad (I would think) to know that none of us has suffered some life-altering bad thing. We are all still breathing and doing a dandy job of it, too.

I have been staying fairly busy lately with school, knitting, sewing, and all the other little things that tend to take up time in life. I will, hopefully, post oodles of pictures of my finished sewing projects at a later date.

School is going very well for me. I do believe this is the first year that I have looked forward to doing math. Hopefully I will continue with these good feelings towards my school for several years to come. :D

As I mentioned earlier, I have taken up knitting. One of the ladies from our church, a Mrs. B., had the patience to teach me how to do it, and I am quite grateful for that. I have started a baby blanket that is coming along quite nicely. So nicely, in fact, that I will most likely have it done by the end of next year, which is sooner than I last speculated.

Well, I must be off to make potato soup, so until next time, I leave you with this.


Friday, August 20

A story I heard from Ball

Ball is an older man who lives at the resort. He always has a story to tell. Thought this one was worth sharing, I found it quite interesting.

After the tremendously unpopular Vietnam War, the US government moved a large oriental family into Ball's community. The family was given a house and a vehicle, and the man of the house found a job at the plant where Ball worked. Since he couldn't speak English, the man's son also got a job there to translate for him.

Everybody was sure that the oriental family was Vietnamese, but the government kept saying they were from Cambodia or someplace, and that they were never at all involved in Vietnam.

Well, one of the men who worked at the plant had been in Vietnam and one morning when the oriental man walked in, he shouted something in Vietnamese, and immediately the oriental man hid beneath a bench. I am not sure what the man said in Vietnamese, but from that he could tell that this Vietnamese man had fought on the front line.

Ball has been known to stretch the truth a little, but I thought it was an interesting story regardless.