Thursday, December 29, 2016


Just last week, literally last week, I told a stitching friend that socks intimidate me.   Not the wearing, although given a choice I'd only ever wear sandals and leave my toes free, just the making.  And not because of the difficulty but because I'm a slow enough knitter and it's encouraging for me to see progress on my projects.

Then I went to a yarn fire sale (yarn never goes on sale, and this was just crazy) and came home with supplies enough for several upcoming projects, and sock yarn.  Pretty purple sock yarn. 

So I'm gonna try it, and what's more, try knitting two socks on circular needles instead of double-pointed.

(not this time, but for future - knitting one sock inside the other.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Curl away, my son!

Many moons ago (last spring?), Big Frog was sleeplessly channel surfing and found a marvelous? thing.  Late-night televised curling.

But not curling like this dude, Crush from Finding Nemo. 

Curl away, my son!  

Nope.  Think significantly more Canadian than that.  The kind of curling with a 44lb granite stone (Curiously, a curling stone weighs approximately, but not exactly, 3 stone.) with a handle, and sweepers wielding brooms.  (Way back in high school, when my youth group went to play broom ball at the local ice rink, I thought we would be curling.  Turns out broom ball is more like street hockey, sneakers and all, but played on ice.) 

As Big Frog watched, he saw in the stands curling hats.  CURLING.  HATS.  Like cheeseheads for Canadians.  This was important enough that he remembered it and told me about it in the morning.  We went online and there evidently is a significant market for these items.

(screenshots from

But would he want one?  Would he wear one?  Sadly (?), no.  But a toss pillow, that might be fun (as long as it didn't weigh 44lb).  I started stitching towards his birthday (admittedly without a fixed eye towards honestly getting it done in that time frame), got distracted into several other projects, and finally finished at Christmastime, if not technically for Christmas.


Also, this.  It's been a crafty week.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

News & Notes 2016

Yes. It's a redacted version. But if you know us you know who we're talking about all throughout, just as you do any time you read this blog. And if you don't... well, then you didn't need to know anyways.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

real food, real clothes

Dad's been having pain walking for awhile (a long while, on the scale of years). He's progressed from sitting often, to using a cane, to using a walker, to the hospital on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 with a blood clot. He was kept a few days on IV blood thinners, then sent home on oral blood thinners a few days later. A week later, Saturday, November 5, he was unable to sit up or walk and was ambulanced to the hospital where he was kept in observation 2 1/2 days, then sent home once again. A week later (noticing a theme?) on Saturday, November 12, he was at a pain-level-10 meltdown stage and was again ambulanced to the hospital where they discovered incredibly elevated white blood counts due to an enlarged gallbladder. It is supposed to be the size of a small pear; dad's was a bad cantaloupe. Fortunately on Monday the 14th they were able to insert a drain rather than remove it (too big to remove laparoscopically, too many other risk factors to make surgery a viable option.

Big Frog and I were able to come up on Monday the 14th and see him after the drain was inserted. So we missed altogether the scariest part of the experience and got instead the PT end of things. I plan to be in town thru Thanksgiving weekend; Big Frog returned home and will be back up for Thanksgiving weekend.

This was an email that went out to the family on Sat 11/19.
Dad is accepting some "pushing" from me (and edible rewards) and is overcoming some of the fear of failure/fear of pain issues. He also REALLY loves his surgeon, Dr Scott Rehrig.

So today he got out of bed and into a chair for the first time since Sat admittance.

He also went onto diabetic menu at the hospital, up from liquids, and although the hospital meatloaf looked surprisingly inspiring and smelled great, it was very salty. Hospital food, gotta love it.

An unexpected visit from Dr Scott and dad asked if he could try walking (he has not done anything but transfer with the PTs). With Dr Scott guiding & spotting, UP dad got & walked (with walker) around the room, with less pain than he expected and less pain than he experienced two weeks ago when he was released to home.

Dr Scott commented on virtually untouched plate and dad said I'd mentioned sushi. I'd intended to try to sneak it in, but Dr Scott said to get some real food, home food, whatever would spark appetite.

Thanks to the power of FB, I got eight sushi recommendations from friends even before going to Yelp. One was within walking distance and it's a glorious day out. Sushi!

I asked mom to bring in some real clothes when she came in this afternoon. So after he took a brief hallway jaunt (75 feet roundtrip), (1st time out of his hospital room this stay) mom came in bearing actual tees and sweatpants.

It's a good day.

Goal is to move on Monday to the rehab center Lorien, right here in Columbia MD.

In the midst of all this, mom largely took the day "away" (from the hospital) to catch up on life details. She's super stressed. And the things she needs done aren't delegate-able, and the things that she can delegate are things that are therapeutic for her to do herself. Home reno goes apace. Pray for mom to have peace and to plainly feel God's presence.

Thank you for praying -- we can feel it -- keep it up! There still are big issues, inc blood clot, herniated discs, ongoing back pain... but things are a world better than they were last week.

Hug your loved ones.

Saturday, October 29, 2016


11pm visit by eight (eight?!?!) of Kernersville's finest today.

All is well, and was well when they came too.  Eight?!?

We have a campaign worker staying with us this week.  Older gent, larger gent... and he's Indian.  He pulled up to our next door neighbors' late tonight instead of ours -- same facade, one house over.  Their dogs barked, which told him he had the wrong house (he met the guinea pigs & knew we didn't have dogs).    He was unloading his laptop & stuff from his car at the wrong house, then put it back and drove to ours.  One house away.

He deposits laptop & shoes at our place and says he went to the wrong house and they called the cops.  I'm up to my elbows in housepaint and just yell back a welcome.  Next thing I know Earl is talking loudly about how he's our houseguest.  I come up front to the porch and the cops yell at me to go back into the house.  "He's our guest," I bellow back.

Evidently it was called in as a B&E, then the neighbor saw him coming over and called us to warn us.  He came over after, met our guest, and apologized profusely. 

I'm glad we have cops who respond quickly.  But two makes sense to me.  Four cop cars, flashing lights, and handcuffing our guest as we stand on the porch vouching for him?  I don't think that would have happened to a white guy.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Gene Luen Yang

some resources:

Graphic novels portray bicultural America -- a new booklist for me to read.  Gene Luen Yang and (American Born Chinese; MacArthur fellow; National Ambassador for Young People's Literature) Dan Santat (Caldecott Medalist for Beekle) are quoted in it, and every single book looks like I'd enjoy learning about those characters.

Reading Without Walls challenge: 1) read about someone who doesn't look or live like the reader, 2) read a book about an unfamiliar topic, 3) read a book in an unfamiliar format.

All this is sourced from his reddit AMA in which he also mentioned he'd love to do a Wonder Twins reboot where the twins weren't aliens, just Asian-Americans who pretend to be aliens in order to be accepted.

Tangentially, there is a NY Times video hashtagged ThisIs2016 about systemic racism.  It makes me sad, and not just because I've received compliments on my English.

Not too big a stretch to think that the Wonder Twins would be more easily accepted as aliens than as Asian-Americans.

Friday, October 14, 2016


Big Frog had a rough day (and week, and month for that matter).  But there will be banjos tonight.  We're going to see Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, which includes Mechanicsburg's own Russ Carson, at the Carolina Theatre in Greensboro.

After getting inordinately mad at the GPS, which I thought he had on because he likes using the voice command feature, but which in fact he was actually using, Big Frog apologized to it and told me, "For this we have grace, and for this we need Jesus.

"And there will be banjos tonight."

To which I replied, "Yes, and in heaven there is also a banjo-free zone."

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fighter Verse 2: Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Hey, Synergy kids, time for another new memory verse!  We'll be working on this one for the next two Sundays.  Also, we have one kid who has Fighter Verse 1, Deuteronomy 7:9 already memorized.  Who else is stepping up to the challenge?

Deuteronomy 10:12-13
And now, Israel,
what does the LORD
your God require of you,
but to fear the Lord your God,
to walk in all his ways,
to love him,
to serve the Lord your God
with all your heart
and with all your soul,
and to keep the commandments
and statutes of the Lord,
which I am commanding
you today
for your good?
Deuteronomy 10:12-13

Using basically one ASL sign per line as a tactile aide.
C-LAW (law as an initialed sign using C; COMMANDMENT)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


"Don't get too comfortable!
Jesus doesn't give us peace like a pond,
it's peace like a river!"

~Beth Moore, Sacred Secrets, pt3

Deeply graced

"People who have been deeply graced by God never withhold grace from other people."
~Beth Moore, Sacred Secrets

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Columbia MD -- aka home.

photo source: Jessica Anne, via the You know you grew up in Columbia MD page. Used with permission.

Confession: I now have three hometowns.  When I leave NC to visit PA, I'm going home.  When I jaunt from PA down to MD, I'm going home.  When I drive south and to NC, home.  It's a good thing.

But the place I spent my formative years, where I grew up, where I first believed in God, where I sang in children's choir, and where I graduated high school (Go Lions!), is Columbia MD. It's a planned community located midway between Baltimore and DC, and it celebrates its 50th birthday in June 20171. What sets a planned community apart is its deliberate avoidance of urban sprawl -- there's no haphazard growth until the town runs into the next town and becomes a metropolis. Columbia has 10 villages, including Oakland Mills, Phelps Luck, Owen Brown, Harpers Choice, Dorsey Hall, each of which has a village center. A village center includes an anchor grocery store and strip mall, which includes such things as a hairdresser, a restaurant, some retail spaces, some fast food joints, maybe a bank, probably a gas station. So you're never far from where you shop and eat, and you get to know the local owners and your neighbors while you're at it. Each village also has several neighborhoods, many of which have an elementary school, and each of which has a convenience store. Also probably a pool run by the Columbia Association, which is a really enormous version of a homeowner's association.  

1 How does a town celebrate its birthday? If it's Columbia, it's with enough sheet cake for everyone to get a slice, served down at one of the primary green spaces in town, Lake Kittamaqundi. Literally thousands of slices of cake. And not just on the "big numbers", like the silver and the golden anniversaries. Every. Single. Year. Back at the 20th anniversary, 1987, they took a stairstep photo with a kid who had been born in town at Howard County General Hospital for every single year of Coumbia's existence. My little brother was the 1983 kid.

Fun fact: if you still have access to a hard-copy World Book Encyclopedia, if you look up "City", there's an aerial shot of Columbia. 

Now Money Magazine has chosen Columbia MD as America's #1 Best Place to Live, and in addition to that cover article, it's done up some lovely interviews with some of its citizenry.

How America's #1 Best Place to Live got that way

Thank you, James Rouse.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lillary, 7yo

(For some things I use my blog simply as a means to be able to refind things later on.  This is one of them.  Read the linked article, which includes the letter.)

The Day Hillary Clinton Won My Heart - article

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Our new hometown

One thing we love about Kernersville is its downtown.  We know a number of the small business owners, and we enjoy all the events they do to bring people downtown.  

They've now written about the town in our own magazine.  Not too shabby for a town of 23,000.  Sometimes you just need to brag on yourself.  
Kernersville magazine article about Kernersville

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fighter Verse 1

Our evening church kids at Grace are working with the Fighter Verses curriculum from Children Desiring God over the course of this school year.  It includes a heavy dose of scripture memory with the goal of equipping these kids, so that when tough times come (and they will), God's Word will be hidden in their hearts so they would not sin (Psalm 119:11).

Fighter Verse 1
Deuteronomy 7:9
Spoken rhythmically, as a march or a handclap. 

Know therefore that the
LORD your God is God,
the faithful God who keeps
covenant and steadfast love
with those who love him
and keep his commandments,
to a thousand


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Making the world smaller

This is powerful.

Where are you from?
Would you like to take a journey based on your DNA?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Heart of the Triad Choral Society plays ball

Heart of the Triad Choral Society sang at the Greensboro Grasshoppers game today.  And despite a few hurdles, like it being the first week of school and the penultimate game of the season, we planned to take a group of 30+ people, an even split of singers & supportive family members.  Then six days ago I got a first-thing-in-the-morning call from our group sales contact.  Due to a rain cancellation rescheduling, our 7pm game was suddenly a 5pm doubleheader.  Could we still sing? 

I put up some protests -- after all, as an adult choir, people are juggling work schedules, family schedules, and just plain getting to Greensboro from ALL OVER the Triad.  But at the same time I was incredibly glad that the call came on the day of rehearsal instead of the day after.  (God has a sense of humor.)  And I love that our choir is dedicated and our members want to see the organization succeed.  And we had a dozen singers and an equivalent number of friends and family join us at the ball game.

We are definitely doing this again next year!  Everyone had so much fun!


T (directed at a 13yo fan, the child of one of our members, whom we'd recruited to video us): So, how'd we do?
13yo:  Ennhhhhh.
T:  What?!?  I thought we were friends!  You're supposed to at least pretend we sound good!
13yo (furiously backpedalling):  I'm sorry!  I thought you were talking about the video!  I don't know how it turned out!  I'm sorry!

Star Spangled Banner

We wish the stands were fuller, but with such an early start time it was a little sparse.
We were not expecting fireworks! Neither was our phone-video guy. And the kid who was buddy to the third baseman literally did a duck-and-cover move.
(Can you hear the Murlander?)

The cheesesteak stand girl said we were so good she almost cried.

For the 7th inning stretch, we didn't go onfield, but we did get the crazy guy "Spaz", the guy with the mic, to come to our section.  

And thanks to the quick thinking of a social media director for a fellow local nonprofit who grabbed some video, we present to you...

(Our wonderful director had us send the words around in advance, just in case we were thinking of going and singing "Take me out to the ballgame/mmm mmm mmm mmm mm CROWD/mmmmmmmmm CRACKER JACKS...)

Note to self: next time we sing "root-root-root for the Hoppers".  Hubs thought of that too late for it to be immediately useful.  But next time.  And we are definitely going back next season; we've already been asked back.

PS Try the brisket nachos!  Brisket.  Nachos.  They're at Hickory BBQ, right behind section 111.

PPS One of our board members said she was really sorry she couldn't be there.  But we spotted "her"!

(I have a request in for any video their camerapeople got to be sent along to us.  We'll see what comes of that.  But I'm not waiting to post this.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Gnocchi with Chef Reto

Chef Reto, of Reto's Kitchen in Greensboro, not only caters and does private parties, he also teaches!  Some friends & I were able to set time to learn from a real French chef, hands-on, in a real catering kitchen.  It was a blast!  I'm so glad I met Chef at a Yelp Elite event there earlier this year and that he was able to fit us into his schedule.

A few quotes from the evening:

  • More butter!
  • Why? Because we can!
  • Cow patties, please, not turds! (with regards to shape)
  • Pressure is everything. (with regards to piping)

  • Loads more photos available on FB  (public album)

    Chef Reto taught us in an approachable way.  His food was amazing and it's also something I can replicate at home.  Really!  And he took us thru hands-on training on knife skills, including sharpening a knife and the difference between chopping, slicing, and mincing.  We learned to pipe, to knead, and that fire in the kitchen can be fun and not frightening.  Opa!  Even the tomato sauce and vinaigrette salad dressing were simple and from scratch, and again completely duplicatable.  I'm excited to apply these things in my own kitchen!

    I encourage you to sign up for his open classes (he also did kids' camps this past summer), or get a group of 6-10 friends together and set up a private class!

    Monday, August 15, 2016

    When I grow up

    M & D have spent half an hour entranced by demos at Biltmore's Antler Hill Farm.

    M: So I've narrowed it down to 4 things. 
    I'm gonna be a blacksmith... or a carpenter... or a firefighter or a cop.

    Saturday, August 6, 2016


    We went en masse to 3 Brothers from China today.  And as always, we split out the kids from the grown ups.

    The kids' table in our family now goes up to 45yo.

    Photos by CJ.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2016

    Credo tour

    Lots of changes since we made up the first house tour.  And there's more paint and such in the plans for future too.  Maybe I'll even get the rest of the art onto the walls.

    House tour 2016
    And this is trust, but I've always averred that if someone steals it they must need it more than I do.  Alternatively, this is evidence that we're not worth robbing.  

    Wednesday, July 27, 2016

    Fight Song a capella - for Hillary

    I am so verklempt about this. Choked up. Sobbing. And delighted.
    Glass ceiling?  Broken

    photo source: DailyKos

    Monday, July 25, 2016


    Affirmations work.
    But only when you work too.

    Post It Jump ad. (If I find an embeddable version I'll add it.)


    Friday, July 22, 2016

    Squeaky shoes

    "Oh no! Now I'm happy!"
     (I am reminded of this Angry Duck incident with D)

    But it is simply not possible to stay mad with squeaky shoes.

    Tuesday, July 19, 2016

    Hell No! by Ingrid Michaelson & Deaf West Theater

    Ingrid Michaelson, who I already loved for her ridiculous Time Machine1 video with Donald Faisson, Rainn Wilson, Jorge Garcia, et al, released a redo of her latest single, Hell No, which is fully ASL & English.

    People magazine ran an article which seems to have the only video link currently available.  Go watch it and come back!  I love that Ingrid was inspired by Deaf West Theater at the Tony's and asked them to work with her to broaden the audience. 

    Hearies, if you ever wondered the difference between word-for-word and concept-for-concept interpreting, look at how many different ways there are to say "hell no!"  And it's not just the hands, it's really the facial expressions. 

    Side note: one of my "that's a cool sign" signs shows up: WHATEVER.  Yes, it's done as a big ole' two-handed W, but I like it as a two-handed W with the wrist twist.  Super expressive.  You can hear the boredom and the flippancy within the visual. 

    1 Time Machine does a lovely play on video running backwards to illustrate reversal of time. But if you want a geeky version, there's also Entropic Time, a parody of Billy Joel's "For the Longest Time". It's scientific!

    EDIT: YouTube now has the ASL video.

    Tuesday, July 5, 2016

    I'm with Her

    source: Susan Walsh, AP

    Charlotte's got a lot.

    The first time I flew into Charlotte Douglas International Airport and saw that verbage on all their signs, I snapped a photo and sent it to an NCF friend whose daughter Charlotte, then 1yo, evidently had her own ad campaign going.

    Today, Charlotte's primary draw was the current president and the presumptive presidential nominee, the pair of whom were once rivals in a similarly protracted primary runoff.  Then one campaigned for the other, and now the reverse is true. 

    Picked up some swag:
    A signature pin, a Madam President, and (sorry about the glare) a Rosie the Riveter.

    I mistakenly thought arriving before the doors opened would be sufficient advance to get a reasonable seat.  (3pm rally... 1pm doors open... 90min drive...totally doable.)  As it happens, there were thousands of people ahead of me in line; I consider myself fortunate to have made it into the final overflow room.  (CNN reports that the Charlotte Fire Marshall told [Clinton aides] there were 7,000 people in the main hall and 2,500 people in the overflow room, making this Clinton's biggest event of the campaign.)  Ninety minutes of queuing up the street around the corner, down and back thru the (closed for the day) outdoor train station concourse brought me as far as the security checkpoint to the live-streaming-in-another-building overflow room.  But the line was peaceful, and the only protesters I saw were a lone cardboard-sign-bearing Bernie supporter and a trio of pro-lifers with an offensively graphic 8' banner.

    The biggest message was that we're in this together, for the good of America and its people.  All people.  And as the woman sitting next to me remarked, it was like United Colors of Benetton in Hillary's rally -- all ages and every hue of flesh.  The cheering of "Hill-a-ry!" and "I'm with Her!" may have drowned out some of the words, but the meaning was clear:  “Hillary Clinton has to be the next president of the United States,” Obama said.  “I’m here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton.”

    Read more here:

    Once Hillary and Obama left the mainstage, those of us in the overflow room made ready to go, but most were stopped at the doors by volunteers and staffers who let us know that if we were willing to wait, there "might be two special guests coming to this room".

    I owe a debt of gratitude to the super tall man next to me who was willing to hoist my phone aloft. He got some great shots!

    This was as good as I could see -- a rather clear phone photo of a tablet shot from a few rows up.

    The takeaway from all of this is: VOTE!

    Wall Street Journal article
    CNN article
    Charlotte Observer article (this one has the best pictures of the event, including of the queue)

    (Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama come out at 1:25:45)

    (side note: one unexpected, one-time cheer that drew positive response but was really not the point of today was "Obama for Supreme Court!")

    (EDIT for clarity: I've been with her/Ready for Hillary/Hillary for America since 2008. 2007? I think primary season is getting longer and longer. But the one previous Hillary rally I went to was in Harrisburg PA prior to the 2008 PA primaries, and I knew things like where to park so I could walk to the event. And it was at the Forum, where I'd had my tap shows, and which seats 1700 max.)

    Monday, July 4, 2016

    If good fences make good neighbors, so too do new basketball hoops

    When we moved into Credo, we acquired an in-ground basketball hoop.  Just the hoop, really; the acrylic backboard was gone, leaving just a hoop and its steel frame, and a pole embedded in concrete.  And being the avid basketball players we are  given our great height and athletic ability it literally has only impacted our lives when we told our RV-dwelling friend that she could park in our driveway and then we discovered that RVs are taller than hoops.

    But it's been on the list since we moved in as a reasonably easy fix to just throw up some plexiglass, or even just tack some plywood up there so it was useable instead of useless.  And we've actually had it in mind to host youth events since reading the previous owners' letter to prospective buyers; that was something they did, and something that resonated with us.  We have hosted movie nights, and "no school now what?" days, and most recently, a youth group game night that devolved wonderfully into roasting marshmallows and tossing a football in the backyard.  And tossing a basketball thru the backboard rather than thru the hoop.

    We also looked at just taking it out; we certainly wouldn't miss it.  And our RV friend wouldn't either.  And every time we back out of the garage, we wouldn't have to think about how to miss it.  But the internet was humorously unhelpful, particularly this forum which variously suggested 1) dynamite, 2) a "please don't steal me" sign, and 3) saltwater and a case of beer while you watch it rust.  Bonus, ours had a head start on rust.


    Disassembly of just the parts needing replaced1:
    1 That is proper Penn Dutch grammar. There is no "to be" in Penn Dutch.

    Then, although the entire rig is meant to be assembled on the ground and then hoisted aloft and installed on the pole, we had a good bit already installed from the previous backboard that we did not bring down.  We also are fortunate to have good neighbors.

    Today's QOTD:

    Next door neighbor C: So the springs go on there...
    me (interrupting): What are the springs for?
    C: It's for when you dunk.
    Big Frog (directly to me): Yes, for when YOU dunk...!

    C (tightening bolts): How tight should these go?
    me (consulting instruction sheet): It says to desired tension.  So basically, season to taste.
    C (directly to me): So when you DUNK...

    Taaaaah daaaaaaaah!

    I will have you know that I pulled out the basketball right away, stood at the foul line, and made a basket on my very first attempt.  Big Frog will vouch for me, and not just because he's obliged to in the marriage vows2.  But of course it's not on video because it is basically unprecedented, and there was absolutely no reason to believe this shot would be a success.

    2 We did make oddly specific promises at our wedding, but somehow basketball never did enter into it. Until now?

    Got a lot of practice to put in.  Free shots, of course, and also dunking.