Thursday, December 24, 2015

French Christmas

Terping is tough!  You have to hear what's being said, hopefully hear things correctly, know your audience in terms of how to sign (including but not limited to ASL vs Pidgin Signed English or English word order, and at what vocabulary level), and you have to be a thesaurus.  And then there are the times when you have to be a linguist in other languages as well.  So it helps to have as much information in advance as possible.  

And then there are those moments. 

I was texting with a supremely capable interpreter who will be terping her church's Christmas program at DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center, seats 2600).  And as she was planning things out she asked me, entirely as an aside, what Noël means.  She may be fluent in Spanish, but I took 5 years of French classes and immediately texted back that Noël is French for Christmas.  And then furiously typed, using gloss (English transcription of ASL, written in all caps for easy reading on the fly) to hopefully clear things up: Noël means CHRISTMAS, not FRENCH CHRISTMAS.  In French, the word Noël translates to Christmas in English.  

I can just see her terping FIRST FRENCH CHRISTMAS ANGEL PROCLAIM... (The first Noel the angel did say...) and I would be rolling on the floor in absolute stitches, but at the same time, fully culpable.

It's an awkward song.  The angels don't say "First Noël" or "shepherds in fields".  That entire first verse is: time (The first Noël/Christmas), subject (the angels), verb (did say), object (was to certain poor shepherds), and location (in fields as they lay).  Then location again (in fields), description of interrupted action (where they lay keeping their sheep), followed inexplicably by weather?! (on a cold winter's night that was so deep).  And deep, as far as I know, is not even a meteorological term, and is only in there because poetically it rhymes with sheep.  Only when you get to the chorus do you hear what the proclamation is: CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS CHRISTMAS!  BORN KING ISRAEL.


ASL is pretty.  And it is a lot of work to make it so.

Fortune's Shawlette

Finely spun yarn makes a project seem to advance slowly because it takes many more stitches to see inches progress.  Fortunately I've been crocheting since I was 8yo, so at least the stitches come quickly.  The only way my knitting moves with any speed is with chunky yarn on enormous needles.  Which makes for lovely, fuzzy, warm items which go underutilized in years like this one, with a 70F Christmas.  This shawlette, I've been working on all fall, inbetween other items.  I've also discovered I like that I can switch projects readily in crochet because a hook isn't tied to one item the way circular knitting needles are.  But I'm glad to know how to do both now, and glad too that Kernersville has a Monday evening "Stitchers Unite" gathering at Eclection, downtown, where I get to see knitting, crocheting, quilting, and embroidery projects advance.  So far my only contribution to the group has been the paradigm-shifting, innately Asian concept of keeping your fingers clean as you munch while you craft by eating Cheetos with chopsticks.  But in my defense, I haven't been going very long.

Anyways, here's my Fortune's Shawlette in lovely stripey deep pinks and purples.  I'll try to get a better photo of it spread out; the colors are truer in the picture of it being worn.  (Spread out it was on a navy blue cushion, that's how red-shifted the photo is.)

Thanks also to Colleen for the pattern!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

304 NC Reunion

C (about the glass planter of cactus): Where are the fishies?
B (since I was wearing a flower barrette): You're a senorita!

It's always fun to catch up with roommates, especially when the husbands and kids can join us.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Infinity scarf - to make

Infinity scarf

The problem with knowing how to knit but knitting incredibly slowly is that the project list can now grow from both knitting and crocheting inspirations, but with knitting I don't seem to make progress within a project, let alone on the list.  It's ok.  I just need another 100 reps and I'll have it down pat. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Small furry frogs

(All our critters are "frogs", even those that look like furry potatoes.)


Carrot?  Carrot!
...It's not a bribe at all!

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Source: -- evidently they do these with some consistently, not just for Advent.

Monday, November 2, 2015


You know what would make this whole grieving process better?  Fluoride.  It's the sixth stage of grief.

No self-respecting gardener uses foam gourds.


Recently, oddly late in the evening, I was driving home and passed a McDonalds.  And I had a sudden, inexplicable hankering for hashbrowns.  Which, due to the breakfast-all-day phenomenon, I can now get any time of day at McDonalds.  (IHOP did it first!) (But hey, hashbrowns!  We'll take it!)  As I had been driving awhile (and squeezing awhile), I decided to stop in instead of going through the drive-thru.  Then serendipity struck.

I ordered my hashbrowns and stood back to wait as what looked like a youth group came in.  And a young guy placed his order and added, "And she wants a Snoopy."  My ears perked up.  Whatever could that mean?  I want a Snoopy!

With The Peanuts Movie coming out, they have Happy Meal toys of all our good buddies!  And even better yet, when the cashier brought a pair of Schroeders, and the gent said that it wasn't Snoopy (although Snoopy was on the piano, and SPINS when you press the button!), she went back to the back, dug through the box, and pulled out every variety they had on hand.  Callou!  Callay!  I went home with a spinning Snoopy on Schroeder's piano, a bobblehead Woodstock, and a wheeled World War I Flying Ace.  And I thoroughly enjoyed my hashbrowns.

 We plan to see the movie over Thanksgiving.  So when I called my friend just to chat, she was excited for both hashbrowns and Happy Meal toys.  And she's headed to McDonalds today. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Not the pastor

So, evidently my parents thought our banjo-pickin' chiropractor was our pastor & greeted him as such.

But he wouldn't take that honor from our pastor; we all know it's a lot of work to be a pastor.  So he corrected them that he was just Big Frog's friend.

They returned, "Big Frog's best friend."

To which he replied, "I wouldn't say best... greatest maybe."

I bet someone has that on a tee-shirt or a mug we could send him.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dad's prayer

"You're keeping me, LORD, I can't keep myself. I'm desperate for you. I know I can't do it alone. I know I need you LORD." -Big Frog's dad, as related by Sharon as the thing she most remembered about him.


Big Frog: It was nice of them (the hospital) to provide coffee and some snacks.
me: I think any time anyone calls you up at 3 am they should provide hot beverages.
I think it's a corollary of Sheldon's.
Big Frog (patting me gingerly on the shoulder at arm's length): There, there.
(He gets up to toss some bits we've accumulated.)
(From a distance) We could sing "Soft Kitty" to my dad.

What a friend

What a friend we have in Jesus

Did you know there was a 4th verse?  It's a really good one!  It should get sung more often.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The girls

"I have a lap full of squeaks."

Nilla & Mocha are rarely affectionate on cue, and even more rarely simultaneously,  but I'll take it.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Attitude adjusters

Went to Royal Expressions' dance recital today -- my friend Alicia, whom I've known since elementary school, was one of the guest choreographers. It was wonderful and powerful, focused on P31 (Proverbs 31) women, or in Maya Angelou's words, Phenomenal Women. But one particularly nice touch was that they had a leadership workshop beforehand and left posted around the auditorium some self-talk and focusing lists.

They asked for feedback after the show. I said they need more tap classes. I would dance with them if their adult tap class (and yes, they only have the one) weren't right during Kerner Chorale rehearsals.

Dragon wing cowl

Knit Dragon Wing Cowl -- add it to the list. For once I finish up at least one project (the downside of knitting as opposed to crochet is that once you have a project going, you have to finish it -- there's no using the needles for another project in the meantime the way you can a crochet hook). And once I learn to read knitting patterns.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What are you feeding your head?

What default thoughts run through your brain? Oftentimes its the words from those of importance to you.

And you are that important voice to someone, so choose your words wisely!

64 Encouraging Things to Say to Kids

Friday, September 4, 2015


"I can't really explain it/I haven't got the words..."    ~Electricity, from Billy Elliot

Visited Big Frog's dad today.  Learned some interesting things from the surprisingly recent past.  For example, I knew my FIL was born into a farm family that eventually had 14 sibs, but I didn't know that they had a woodstove because they didn't have electricity.

In fact, of all those sibs, only the youngest had power all her life.  Literally they did not get electricity until T was born, in 1947.


My FIL was 16 years old before he could flick on a light switch at home.

Mind blowing.

So I asked what that changed for them because obviously they had heat and light before that.  The kerosene lamps they could get rid of, but why replace a woodstove?  No surprise, they didn't.

Turns out the first big purchase his parents made for their newly electrified domicile was a refrigerator. 


And what did it replace?  Not an icebox.  Why not?  Because they didn't have one of them. 

Prior to 1947 they ate fresh obviously, they canned a lot, and they sugar-cured or salt-cured their meats. 

Because they didn't have a refrigerator.

Because they didn't have electricity.

I'm starting to understand why Big Frog’s dad didn't allow a tv into the house. 

(When Big Frog's mom finally smuggled a tv into the house, Big Frog was 13.  The tv stayed packed up and tableclothed as an "end table" unless they were actively using it, and that was of course only when Big Frog’s dad wasn't at home.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Longer than

I've now known Big Frog longer than I didn't know him.  I wasn't quite 18 when I started college, and that was 18 years ago.  And due to our physics prof's wife (not that she was there, but she claims responsibility for our marriage), I met Big Frog my first week of classes, in physics lab.  That prof's son, who was our ring bearer in 2001, is coincidentally starting his freshman year at Messiah this week.

Just last Sunday, I was talking to a high school senior who is taking AP physics this term.  I told him that it could change his life.  If I hadn't placed out of freshman physics, or if Big Frog hadn't been activated to serve overseas the year before, delaying his sophomore year, God would have needed entirely other means to bring us together.

Here's to the next 18 & beyond, Big Frog!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Old School

I've been out of school since 2001, when I graduated from Messiah College. (Home of the Falcons! Our football team is undefeated since 1909.)

And I always promised myself I'd go to grad school, that I wouldn't be one of those people who "took a year off" and never went back to school.  And I do occasionally flirt with the idea of getting my terp's license or my MLIS (Master's of Library and Information Science. But so far it hasn't happened.

But every year at back-to-school time (mid August for September start dates, not retail back-to-school time, which means May) I see all the pens and markers and super-cheap single-subject spiral notebooks and it's rare that I don't buy at least SOMEthing.  Usually the impulse limits itself to new markers or notebooks.  But this year it went old-school.

On Main Street Kernersville, there's a lovely little antiques shop, Remember When, where Barbara keeps a pair of hymns CDs by Alan Jackson on infinite repeat.  They don't sell those CDs due to some arcane music-selling law, but she tells not a few people what they are and sends buyers to other retailers to acquire them.  We have a set and sent a set to my mom, too.  I poke around in there and sing make-your-own-alto. And I usually ask a few questions, try on a few hats (Derby hats like you wouldn't believe!), and go on my way.

Today there were some really neat pieces in the store, like a table made of shields.  I thought it'd be neat as a lamp table in our guest bedroom, but it really deserves to stand alone so the detail of the shields can show.  Then we found this beauty.

We'll need to research the maker, Peabody-Stiggleman Co, of North Manchester, Indiana. A quick search revealed that in 1926, they made 30,000 desks for California schools.

It's perfect for a side table or some extra (kid-sized) seating. But I may need a classier lamp than my sleekly-modern florescent-tube desk lamp.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

TIL -- airplanes

Before 1914, airplanes barely featured in military thinking. The French air corps, with three dozen planes, was larger than all the other air forces in the world put together. Germany, Britain, Italy, Russia, Japan, and Austria all had no more than four planes in their fleets; the United States had just two.

Source: Bill Bryson's book on America, 1927, excerpted at the end of his A Walk in the Woods

Saturday, August 8, 2015

You zogged?

After *not* getting hit by the train when we stopped at a light and the gates started coming down towards our tail, GPS flipped out at us.

Me: Is JAARS in a residential area?
Big Frog: I zogged.
Me: You zogged?
Big Frog: It wanted me to zig, but I zogged.
Me: It wasn't a zag?
Big Frog: It was bad.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Little Buddies

We had friends over for lunch & tabletop games -- our little buddies came out to play along. "They sound like Windex."
In Formula D, car sounds are mandatory: "Your car sounds like my copilot."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

On difficult cooking

I've never heard these words in this particular arrangement before:
"We haven't had dumplings before."
How is that possible?  But at least we rectified the problem.

Also, on Sloppy Joes being such a reach, and "don't go out of your way for us...", Cow-Lover says:
We didn't go out of our way!
It wasn't even on the way!
We sat on the porch and did nothing!

Wasn't there a song about Sloppy Joes?

Friday, July 17, 2015

A lot can change in a year

On this day in 2014, one year ago, we had just landed in Minnesota for a family reunion and a golden anniversary party.  While I played in the splash pad with my niece & nephew, introverted, early-rising Big Frog took a nap poolside.  (He had driven us from Harrisburg PA to Trenton NJ1 that morning for a beyond-super-cheap flight... even so, never fly out of Trenton.)

1 "What Trenton makes, the world takes." The first time we were in Trenton, we were trying to visit a college friend in Philly. We knew there was a problem when we found ourselves entering Jersey. Also, and I consider this a systemic problem, you have to pay to leave Jersey. What's up with that?

Turns out, Big Frog wasn't napping.

He took a call and it was an unexpected phone interview. And unlike all the other phone interviews he'd taken of late, he could freely say, "Sure this is a good time," with an unspoken undercurrent of, "I may have to ask you to repeat things, and you may hear some random pool noises coming from my end." Far better than the oft-repeated, "Hang on a sec, I need to leave my cube and go out to the car to take this; I haven't told anyone here that I'm leaving."

Who he had told was one of our friends from church, someone from his early-morning men's prayer group. At different points in Big Frog's life he's been in several early-morning prayer groups that have given him great relationships with God and with his Christian brothers. Because of that, it's one of the things he looked for in our new church. But this friend, although not an engineer, worked at an engineering firm where there was an opening for someone with Big Frog's background and interests. Although they worked for different companies, their buildings were next door to each other and they sometimes got together for lunch.

So when the phone call neared conclusion and the interviewer asked Big Frog for an in-person interview, Big Frog said once he was back in town he could walk next door just about any time.

But wait...

"Where do you think I'm calling from?"

Turns out, the international company headquartered in Central PA has a sensors division in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

It's now July 17, 2015. A year has passed. We moved from PA to NC2 in October and put Selah, our Harrisburg house on the market3, pulled it, had some work done on it4, and relisted it at Eastertime.

2 Precision in abbreviations: NC in this case is not New Cumberland, 20min from our old house, but North Carolina, which is substantially farther.
3 Our first realtor was terrible. We never should have signed with her, but we didn't know we had real choices given that we were working with a relo company put in place by Big Frog's work. How terrible was she? She never even told our relo company that the house was on the market. She sent the house to the internet without a single photo to advertise it. Resultingly, in three months there were perhaps 7 showings. Admittedly, fall is a tough time to list a house, but she was dreadful.
4 Our second realtor was amazing. She had people-resources to get things done even though we were at a distance. She did a great job marketing. Worlds better an experience.

It took some time to find just exactly the right person for Selah, which always was a quirky property. But in the fullness of time, and in yet another case of "God has a sense of humor" we got two simultaneous cash offers for almost exactly the same amount. We were able to parse through the pros & cons of each offer, which boiled down to pros & cons of each person making an offer. And today, a year to the exact day, practically to the very hour from when God put North Carolina squarely in our path, Selah closed in about 20 minutes (the joys of a cash offer!), firmly closing the door on our time living in PA.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

He knows you. And he loves you.

On the advantages of being part of the local church in addition to the church universal: link from Bob Bjerkaas' blog
(Bob was my youth pastor when I was in high school. Now he's a PCA pastor in SoCal.)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Squeak squeaker...

me, to Mocha, who is in my lap: Squeak squeaker squeak squeakin...
<Big Frog laughs>
me: I don't know guinea pig!  The closest thing I have is that guy in The Emperor's New Groove who speaks squirrel!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Asian American kids interviewed

What's your nationality?
Did you say soccer is your nationality?

These kids are adorable and very real.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Imago Dei?

"You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do." ~Anne Lamott

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Food & cultural heritage

"Food is also one of the most easily preserved aspects of cultural heritage through the generations.  I think of all my Italian-American friends who speak Spanish better than Italian, thanks to high school language classes, but who still know how to make a terrific tomato sauce.  Many of my Jewish friends can make matzo ball soup yet cannot recite the Hebrew alphabet.  I have no idea whether my grandchildren will speak Chinese, but I feel certain they will know how to make fried dumplings."   ~Jennifer  8. Lee, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

Thanks to Uncle R for always passing along fun reads!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Important Things

"The most important thing is that
you love what you are doing,
and the second is that you are not afraid
of where your next idea will lead"

~Charles Eames, designer & filmmaker

Monday, April 13, 2015

Nothing good comes from comparing

Nothing good comes from comparing yourself with others.
That way lies nothing but death.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

This blog post has been brought to you by the number...


Definitely the number of the day.  In Wits and Wagers today, it didn't matter whether the question was miles of line a pencil could draw, number of hours per day a lion sleeps, or number of Weasley kids, D's answer, later picked up by T, was 17.

*  The exclamation point in this case means excitement, and in no way implies  factorial, Tim.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Amateurs & Pros

Amateurs practice until they get it right.
Professionals practice until they cannot get it wrong.
-Diane Sawyer, on Julie Andrews

Monday, March 16, 2015


In the first 3 min of Castle today, the killer was described as asian, female, mid-30s...

Big Frog gasped, turned to me, & said, "It's you!"

You have been warned.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


It's even more fun when the lyrics may or may not be someone whose first language is English. It's great having a setup at home.

Some of tonight's highlights include:
  • Not a Sam!
  • Buuuuuuuuuuuuut... you more than turkeys I love. (We followed that one up by YouTubing Boynton's Turkey Love Song.) (BTW, particularly in this instance, then =/= than.)
  • "Shatner" it.
  • Everyone needs an Uncle Baccy Juze.
  • That was written by the great "PD".
  • Wednesday, March 11, 2015

    2 types of people

    "There are only two types of people in the end: those who say to God, "Thy will be done," and those to whom God says, in the end, "Thy will be done.""

    -CS Lewis, The Great Divorce, ch9

    Thursday, February 26, 2015

    Bobcat snow

    Ahh, majestic creatures, bobcats.

    source: Ohio DNR

    < auditory screech >

    But wait.
    Don't you live in the suburbs?

    Actually, yes.
    And it snowed enough that our screen porch is snowy.

    And our Bobcats, as it turns out, actually are in the neighborhood to do sewer work.

    Which they can't do when there's 5" of white stuff (more manna!) on the ground.
    (Could be worse. We were in the 5-12" stripe of the forecast.)

    So the gents, who actually hail from south Georgia, have made themselves available for private snow removal.

    Coming from a driveway that is exactly one car length long and two car widths wide to a heck of a driveway, we took them up on it.

    Sure beats using a dustpan.

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015

    Oh, you're moving south -- it'll be warm there.

     Oh, you're moving south -- it'll be warm there.


    Yes, it's warmer than Harrisburg PA (at this moment, 32F here vs 25F there, and generally 10-15F warmer), but there are drawbacks, mostly in human preparedness.  There is enough salt currently spread on sidewalks and streets all through the Triad that walking around literally crunches.  And yet, I know for a fact that there are households that park right along the street's edge of their driveways instead of in lovely covered garages (so glad we have a garage!) because they have no shovels.  In fact, on the late-night news, the poor reporter who drew the "you're outdoors in the snow" short straw is saying that if you don't have an actual shovel, try a broom, or a dustpan.  And if you don't have an ice scraper for your car, there's always a kitchen spatula.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015

    So cute and little!

    At HIA's open house (these pics are from 2013), we got some closeups with the plows.

    Granted, these are the heavy-duty runway plows, but even the plows that do the side streets use one swipe for a lane of traffic. On highways, sometimes you see them drive in diagonal formation so snow plowed by one truck is systematically pushed to the next truck doing the next lane.

    But now we live in NC.
    And things are different here.

    Hours later, closer to sundown than sunup (Spoiled because Selah and Gaude were both on main roads. Even my parents' house is on a through street.), we heard scraping, and sure enough, here comes the calvary.


    It's a Bobcat.

    And its slightly more sizable friend.

    Does that even have a plow? Oh wait, the plow is directly underneath the driver. What!?

    They went back and forth, forth and back, possibly a dozen times for our side street.
    There is an inch of accumulation out there.

    Welcome to the south, my friend.

    Monday, February 16, 2015

    90's pop

    Big Frog, trying to figure out a personalized license plate: It says N...K...?
    me, having glanced at it: It's New Kids on the Block. Clearly you weren't a girl in the 90's.

    That's probably a good thing for all of us.

    White stuff?

    Big Frog: What's this white stuff falling from the sky?
    me: I don't know... what to do?  I'm a southerner now!
    Big Frog:  Maybe it's manna!
    me:  Manna?  What is it?*


    The neighbor kids were go-karting up and down the street. Might be as close as they ever get to snowmobiling around here.

    *(Manna, from Exodus 16:11-15, is a transliteration of "what is it?")

    Tuesday, February 10, 2015

    "I will sing tall!"

    In our director's continuing attempts to make us sing more like Julia Child, or with a British accent, or with round tones, rather than with exaggerated southern accents, today's entreaty was,

    Sing tall!

    Monday, February 2, 2015

    Saturday, January 10, 2015

    God is an artist!

    Watch it in fullscreen, and with the sound on.
    Created by TSO Photography

    The Mountain from TSO Photography on Vimeo.

    His comments on the filming over the course of a week at El Tiede, Spain, are available at The Mountain on Vimeo


    The Knights who say Ni came to visit us today.
    They were guised as workmen looking for tree trimming/removal jobs, knocking doors in our neighborhood, going for no.
    We, by contrast, had ~75 linear feet of overgrown juniper that we've been wanting to get rid of since we moved in.

    Here's the house as it went to the market last April:
    (By the way, yarbhill, those white things are crepe myrtles, which had been trimmed way back too. But they've since sent shoots up again and are looking more treelike.)

    And as it was when we moved in, in October:

    By January, when there was not a flake of snow in the forecast and the lawns were still the green of "we might grow just as well as hibernate", came knocking The Knights who say Ni. (This is not their professional name... although our grass is cut by a guy who, the first time I met him, was wearing a herringbone Batman shirt, so it's not totally beyond the realm of possibility.)

    Within 90 minutes they turned this

    into this

    Hey, we have a mailbox and everything down there -- it actually makes the mailbox feel closer, because before it was a little labyrinthine.

    OK, maybe not quite, but hey, never a bad time for Labyrinth.

    Sorry, got sidetracked. Anyways...

    They also cut down a holly tree that I'm sure at one time was a lovely little bush at the corner but had become a behemoth that overhung the second-story window and was a little alarming in the winds this past week, although it hadn't bothered us previous to that.

    In an interesting confluence, we also took the Christmas tree down today, so the living room seems significantly bigger as well. And the house smells pleasantly of juniper.

    I hope our friends recognize Credo the next time they visit.