Inspired by a little-known picture book from the pen of Bethany Tudor, this is a diary, of sorts, where I document some of my thoughts, activities, and ideas as I explore the challenges met by the characters in the story: hard work, the care and nurture of others, housekeeping skills, life changes, charity, community, and cooperation, among others. Like Samuel and Samantha, the ducks in the tale, I struggle and succeed, cope and celebrate, work and play, handling the tasks that come my way. I invite you to join me on my journey.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Storm Assessment Begins

As many of you know from watching The Weather Channel or one of the major media outlets, Hurricane Sandy/Superstorm Sandy (or as I like to call her, "Frankenstorm" Sandy) has exited New England and the Tri-State area --- New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut --- but in her wake lies miles and miles of destruction.

My family lives a few miles inland and uphill from Long Island Sound in southeastern Connecticut, so we were very protected from the most concerning component of Hurricane Sandy:  storm surge inundation.  We prepared more for wind and post-storm disruptions...and emerged most fortunate;  in fact, ridiculously fortunate, for which I am heartily thankful.  The extent of our damage was embarrassingly minimal:  one branch off our old silver maple in the backyard and a flowerpot that was broken because it was improperly stowed in the garage.  Originally, I thought two branches had succumbed to the wind, but the second branch was actually from our neighbor's tree.  We never lost power, despite several flickers at the height of the storm that caused our clocks to require resetting, and our water/sewer service has functioned without a hitch.  As I said, we were ridiculously fortunate.

Sadly, many residents in southeastern Connecticut and western Rhode Island cannot say the same.  Among the hardest hit in my area were the communities of Stonington, Mystic, Niantic, Old Saybrook, Madison and Milford, along with Westerly, Rhode Island.  My family frequents many of these towns weekly, so we feel for the residents who have returned home from evacuation to find, in many cases, profound destruction.  We know homeschool families in these communities.  We attend church in Niantic, take music lessons in Stonington, frequent dance classes and sometimes help with handbell rehearsals in Mystic, practice the organ in Madison, attend (or give) concerts in Westerly, and often lunch in Old Saybrook on our way to and from many events and commitments.  The amount and extent of devastation along the shoreline here is mind-boggling, although it pales in comparison to New York and New Jersey.  I only pray that the power restoration and clean up is swift so that life for these folks can return to "normal" (whatever that is) as soon as possible.

I pray, too, that the months ahead are mild of weather and uneventful, as an encounter with some mutant Nor'easter that looks and acts like a hurricane would be most unwelcome, as unwelcome as Sandy, the hurricane that looked and acted too much like a Nor'easter.

The Week in the Day
Pictures from the week prior to Sandy's arrival.

In the Wake of Sandy
A photo gallery from the Providence Journal

Hurricane Sandy Devours Southern RI Coastline
More photos from the Providence Journal

The Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy
A photo gallery from the Hartford Courant

Northeast Reeling from Sandy's Punch
A collection of photographs, mostly of New Jersey, from the Providence Journal

Damage in East Lyme After Hurricane Sandy
Photos of the town where my family attends church (from the Hartford Courant)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Here We Go Again!

Hatches battened down...again.
For the second time in fourteen months, I am sitting in my house with the windows boarded up, listening to the wind howl outside.  By current estimates from the local authorities, that wind is going 80-90 mph and is well on it's way to wreaking havoc across southeastern Connecticut.  My friend, Kerrie, just posted a picture of her house on Facebook.  The large pine tree located in her east lawn is now leaning on the roof near her kitchen.  Thankfully, no significant damage is apparent.  Several of my other friends who live on the shoreline had to evacuate due to the forecast storm surge, expected to be 6-11 feet with the next high tide around 10:00 PM today.  The large silver maple tree in my backyard lost two small-to-moderate branches this afternoon when the wind was only going 50-60 mph.

The list grows longer.
That tree was my initial reason for boarding the windows again this time.  I was concerned about branches breaching the south-facing windows should the tree come down.  But now that I have been listening to the wind for more than three hours, I think boarding against the wind alone was a good idea.  In fact, it has me considering a more permanent solution that is easier (and faster) to implement than screwing plywood into the wooden window trim every time a big storm comes our way, which seems to be occurring more often than I would like.

If you would like to read an example of what my family and I did to prepare for "Frankenstorm" Sandy, check my Hurricane Irene entries from 2011.  I will post an update once the Halloween Horror Storm is over.

Related articles
Hurricane A'Comin'
As Ready As Possible (I Think)
Blessings, Obvious & Hidden
Disaster Averted, Some Advice

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Sacrament of Penance (Part 2)

What I am exploring with these notes is the question:  what is this faith?  In looking at this question, it is important to remember two things:  1) for Luther, the comfort and consolation of the believer is paramount, and 2) a key passage relating to penance is Matthew 16:19:

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loos on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

In Part 1, I only looked at the first two paragraphs of "The Sacrament of Penance."  This time, I will be furnishing my notes on paragraphs three and four.  Read more.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Living, Daring Confidence

But what does that daily faith look like?  When your toddler has emptied the Tupperware all over the kitchen floor for the umpteenth time while you are trying to finish a science experiment with your oldest child, what does that faith look like?  When the dishwasher starts leaking during a history lesson that should have been done a week or more ago, what does that faith look like?  When you answer the phone during "school hours" and, one by one, your children disappear to focus on anything but their assigned work, what does that faith look like?  Oftentimes, that daily faith-in-action eludes us, doesn't it?  Or at least it can feel that way.  Read more.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Earth and All Stars

...and a bit of a rant.

Last week in church, the closing hymn was "Earth and All Stars," one of my favorites and one that my daughter recently informed me was written in 1964 for the ninetieth anniversary of St. Olaf Collage in Northfield, Minnesota.  The hymn was initially published in 1968 as part of a folksong collection and finally made it into a Lutheran hymnal in 1969.  That means it was a new hymn when I was in elementary school!  I can remember singing it a lot as a child, not surprising seeing as a Lutheran pastor, Herbert Brokering, wrote it.  Apparently, until recently, the hymn was virtually unknown outside the Lutheran Church.  Read more.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Just in the Nick of Time

This evening, just before 7:00 PM, my family and I arrived at Ocean Beach Park in New London, CT to enjoy the final Wednesday night magic show of the season.  The featured magician was Zach Ivins, the son of my dear friend, Koalagirl.  He is quite the talented young man, excelling at magic, musical theater, acting, etc.  He and several other young magicians were recently featured in a documentary about Tannen's Magic Camp, a weeklong summer experi
ence that gave rise to the likes of David Blaine and others.  Zach has attended for a number of years and thoroughly enjoys his time there.  In fact, his mother has been known to say that Tannen's is home for Zach and he merely visits with his family the other 51 weeks of the year.

This summer, after magic camp, Zach took a job in upstate New York, teaching at a performing arts camp known as French Woods Festival.  He has been there for a week or so and came back especially to do the show this evening.  It was a pretty big gamble as thunderstorms were threatening the entire day.  Thank goodness they held off until the end of the performance, just until the end.  It was a rush to get all the props and equipment loaded as a full-on downpour swept over the park just before 8:00 PM.  The rain was so heavy that it caused us to traverse partially flooded streets all the way home.  But the trip was worth it.  Zach put on another great show that the audience loved. I can't wait to see what he has up his sleeve for next year.

The Sacrament of Penance (Part 1)

A few days ago, I started looking at "The Sacrament of Penance," written in 1519.  Wow, what an education for a cradle Lutheran!  I never knew, for example, that Luther considered penance to be a sacrament.  Apparently, he did, although he eventually abandoned the idea in favor of just Baptism and Communion, the two sacraments that are used in the Lutheran Church today.  Frankly, whether or not Luther thought of penance as a sacrament isn't of much concern to me as a layperson.  What he had to say about faith as regards sacrament really hit home and made sense to me.  Read more.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Wrap-Up on Fermata

Now that we are approaching fall, one of the busiest times of the year here on Gooseberry Lane, I was thinking back on the beginning of 2012 and realized that I didn't give a final wrap-up on Fermata, my twelve-year-old tuxedo cat who suffered suppurative lymphadenitis this past winter.  As you can see from the photo (taken with his brother, Chopin;  Fermata is the one on the right), my baby is looking good.  He has regained all his weight and is on methimazole, an anti-thyroid medication, twice a day.  He still prefers the Science Diet Adult Light dry food, something I will work to replace with wet food at some point.  One interesting remnant of the social time that was built in to the feeding tube routine:  Fermata doesn't finish all his dry food anymore.  He leaves some that he then likes to eat from my hand.  I don't mind.  It is only about a teaspoon and it takes just moments, really.  I have the time and am pleased that Fermata still wants to hang out with "Mom."  I'm not sure how the hand feeding thing will go over with the cat sitter, though, the next time I go on vacation.

Note:  No compensation was received for any recommendations or referrals made in this post.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Reflections on a Window at St. Mary's

Hiding in a rear corner pew on the right side of the sanctuary, I am enjoying the light as it streams in through the gorgeous stained glass windows, twilight drawing ever nearer as I watch.  It isn't very often that I find myself in a church this time of day.  Summertime services are almost always held indoors during the brightest part of the day so parishioners can find some respite from the seasonal head or outdoors in the evening where the refreshing sea breeze that graces the Connecticut shoreline can provide some much needed relief from the high temperatures and humidity, especially in August.  Read more.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

PR: East Wall Shingles

Time for a progress report!  Since we began this project on July 3, 2012, I thought it was about time to provide some photographic evidence that work was actually proceeding.  Read more.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

So, No More Aching Back...Maybe

This past week I found something that could possibly rid me of years of nagging lower back pain and periodic sciatica:  the Thompson Maneuver.  Developed by orthopedist Alec Thompson, M.D., the exercise works to properly align the sacroiliac joints that lie between the sacrum and the hipbones...Read more.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

King Richard and the Sharpie Marker, Part 2

If you recall from part one of my story, this is what I started with:

The dryer door, stained with marker.
The dryer drum, a Sharpie victim.
Now, it is time for part two of the saga.

On Monday (7/9/2012), I had planned to go shopping for some type of solvent that would remove the dreaded black marks from the Gooseberry Lane dryer.  Fortunately, I was saved from that task by the suggestion of King Richard's co-worker.  A while back, the guys had "field day," an old Navy term for cleaning day, where one of the tasks was to remove Sharpie marker from linoleum tile.  They used a product called SoyGel and it got the job done.  After King Richard shared his marker story, one of the men suggested I try the same thing on the dryer.  Since we had some SoyGel in the garage, I gave it a go.  This was the result:

The dryer door, clean once again.

A closer look at the dryer drum.
As you can see, the paint remover worked well, at least on this small job.  The bigger problem was just inside the dryer door, to the left of the lint catcher.  This is a picture of the "lighter" stain to the right of the lint catcher.

Thinking that some type of graffiti remover would still be faster, I stopped by the local hardware store on my way back from dropping Katherine the Great at organ practice.  Finding no Krud Kutter brand products, I settled on Zinsser Graffiti Remover instead.  It helped to cut through the worst of the mess at the start of each removal session.  But to really banish the staining, I had to use the SoyGel just as if I was tackling painted woodwork or window trim, leaving the paint remover in place just long enough to wipe out the stains but not so long as to eat through the paint.  Then, to really make sure I was neutralizing the stripper and protecting the surface, I wiped the area I was working on with soapy water every few minutes.  It was a very tedious job.

But...after six long days with no dryer, here is the reclaimed appliance:

The dryer drum, cleaned and polished.
A bit cleaner near the lint filter.

It isn't perfect, but it will do.  It is certainly an improvement over what I faced last Sunday (7/8/2012).  The washer needed some treatment, too (about ten minutes worth!).  A few dabs of SoyGel and a thorough cleaning with Washer Magic, it went from this:

The washer drum with only a tiny stain.

to this:

Stain-less and looking great!

Now for the next task:  catching up on all the laundry!

Note:  No compensation, financial or otherwise, was received for this blog post.

Related Articles
King Richard & the Sharpie Marker, Part 1

Sunday, July 08, 2012

King Richard and the Sharpie Marker, Part I

This afternoon, while discussing a change of location for our clothes dryer with my husband, I noticed a black smudge on the inside wall of the washing machine drum.  King Richard speculated that the stain might have come from a pen that he left in the pocket of a shirt that he had included in the last load of laundry.  Slightly panicked, I checked the dryer, where that last load of wash had just finished its cycle.  When I opened the dryer door and removed the clothes, this is what greeted me (see photo at right).

Sharpie marker vs. dryer
After a few seconds of dismay, I just laughed.  What else could I do?  I called my family from the house (our dryer is currently in the garage), so they could enjoy the sight, too.  We all laughed, even my husband.  After cancer, what is so threatening about an appliance full of scribbles?  Frankly, I'm a little surprised it didn't happen when my daughter was younger.  Following the adage, "There is no problem so big that it cannot be solved," Katherine the Great and I headed to the Internet for advice, landing on the suggestion of Krud Kutter Graffiti Remover.  Unable to find any today, I tried removing the marks with rubbing alcohol and acetone to no avail.  Consequently, I now have solvent shopping on my list for tomorrow.  I will let you know how I fare.

Oh, and it wasn't a pen that did the damage to our dryer, as you might have suspected from the photo.  No, it was a Sharpie marker:  the large, wide-tipped, industrial-strength variety that King Richard uses at work to write on big cardboard boxes, shipping containers, and the like.  You gotta love a man who does his own laundry.  :)

Note:  No compensation, financial or otherwise, was received for this blog post.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Finally On the Same Page

Thus far on 7MR Restoration, I have chronicled a few ideas about what I would like to see on the inside of our house, some interesting products that I have encountered along the way while looking for remodeling ideas, and some qualities of my house that I admire/enjoy.  Well, the other day while King Richard and I were in our Toyota Tundra, talking on the way to a destination so memorable it slipped my mind, I finally realized that he WILL NOT help decorate or improve the inside of our abode unless and until the outside is finished.  Hmmm.  He swears he has been saying this for years (really?).  Apparently, it only took twenty years for me to hear him. His logic for refusing assistance is sound:  it makes no sense to decorate the inside when the outside isn't sealed against the elements.  How can I argue that point?  The result of this watershed conversation is that the home improvement projects (at least for the time being and at least for this summer) will be focused on upgrading the exterior of our home.  Read more.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Annunciation Day

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the liturgical calendar, today is Annunciation Day, the day the Church remembers the announcement of the birth of Christ to His mother, Mary, by the angel Gabriel.  Given that we celebrate Christmas, the commemoration of the birth of the Son of God, in December, it makes sense that we would remember His conception, if you will, nine months earlier.  So why didn't this remembrance occur on March 25th?  Read more.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

This Little Light of Mine

The other day, I discovered this version of "This Little Light of Mine" while I was searching for some Gospel music.  I must admit, I didn't think The Boss sang this kind of stuff.  I kind of like it.  Enjoy!  Read more.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Pork with White Wine

My daughter is such the food adventurer, but she tends to favor dishes with a bit more fat and calories than I can tolerate while trying to lose weight.  Thankfully, at my suggestion, she has been experimenting with some healthier fare...Read more.

Monday, April 02, 2012

My Best Friend's Kids

Over twenty years ago, when King Richard and I moved to Connecticut from southern California, my husband became "Sea Dad" to a younger sailor who was new to our command.  Through his wife, Miss Sandi, I met Koalagirl.  For a long time now, these two women have shared the honor of being my best friends.  Radically different from me in many respects, they continue to challenge and support me in all I do, hopefully making me a better person in the process.  As often as I can, I try to do the same for them.  Last night, I had the opportunity to do just that by attending the latest musical production of Broadway Kids and Company, "Crazy for You."  The oldest children of Koalagirl had primary roles in the show.  Her son played the lead, Bobby Child, and her daughter played Lottie Child, the mother of the lead character.  Yes, you understood that correctly, the sister played the mother...and she was great.  See for yourself the great job they both did in this photo, snapped by their mother.

Photo taken by Koalagirl.
The brother went above and beyond in this performance, singing, tap dancing, waltzing, and doing a lot of physical comedy (i.e., fainting, pretending to be inebriated, etc.), something he hadn't really done before.  A few years ago, he did an awesome job as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast, also done with Broadway Kids and Company.  I enjoyed his performance then, but as Bobby Child, the young Mr. Ivins really stepped up to the plate, weathering with grace the heavy responsibility of being the lead.  He really has grown into a confident, talented young gentleman.

All other accolades aside, both kids did a fantastic job and I would like to congratulate them on a job well done.

Related links
Zach Ivins Magic
The Amazing Zacchini