Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Time to give Fur - Cuts

Each summer I always trim my guinea pigs' fur.  (If you do this be very careful not to trim whiskers!)

Last night was my annual "Fur Cut" night.  I had so much fur off the three of them, it almost looked like another guinea pig!  I should have taken a photo of that!  It was pretty impressive to see how much extra fur these guys had!

Here is Baby Crockett sporting his new 'do.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cool Springs Park, Rowlesburg, WV

This is the first in a new series I'm doing on my blog of some of the things to do in the North Central West Virginia and Western Maryland area.  I decided to make Cool Springs Park the first post because I think it is one of the most interesting places I've ever been and it amazes me how many people who live in this area have never been there! It is located near Rowlesburg, WV and is about 11 miles from my home.

From where I live, Rowlesburg, WV is almost entirely down a mountain.  Because of this, our car gets 81.5 miles per gallon on our descent to the park.  (Let's not discuss the gas milage on the way UP the mountain!)

The park has a lot of trees, and parts of it are just beautiful.

But the real fun is for kids!  As I was there yesterday, I heard a little boy looking at all kinds of old  farm equiptment that is rusting through the park and exclaiming "Wow! Look!" at everything he saw.  Supervision is a must at the park because of the rusting equiptment, and children can play on the equiptment.  Also there are animals at the park that wander around.  Yesterday I saw some donkeys or burros.  They were big with hooves and looked equine-esqe but were not horses.  Because they can wander around you need to watch where you step!  There are fish you can feed as well.  (The store next to the park sells small bags of fish food for 10 cents a bag!)

These guys were in a cage.

In addition to farm equiptment to play on you can play on trains!  What little boy wouldn't adore spending time in this park?

It's not just children who love playing on the old tractors.  This guy was running all over one of them!

I used to love playing in the caboose when I was a child.  I didn't go inside yesterday to see how it has weathered the years, but do remember standing in it when I was little.

There is also an old-fashioned water wheel in the midst of the park.

Across the road there is a teepee up on a hill.  I've heard there is a geocache hidden right behind it, so if you're into geocaching then you might want to try and get this one, but one word of warning, the hill is very, very steep.  I've never walked up there myself and used to marvel when I would see people at the teepee!

Before you leave be sure and stop in the store and order a foot long hot dog.  They have great food, and the atsmophere is none like you'll find anywhere else.  There are taxidermied animals who keep watch over you and some of the most unique items ever sold in one place.  When was the last time you ate at a place with a cow on top of the building?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Book Review: Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan

FTC disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

To call a book a “must read” may sound cliché, but I skipped lunch and dinner to finish Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God. A Broken Mother's Search for Hope.
 in one day. As an avid reader, I often read a book and then not think much more about it, but this book is so amazing it will be one I never forget.

As it starts, Christopher Yuan admits he is a homosexual to his parents. His mother, Angela, in a desperate attempt to “fix” him, tells him he needs to change or leave forever. Christopher decides to leave, and Angela realizes she made a mistake and goes on a relentless pursuit of him, as does God for the both of them.

This book is not your typical church testimony. There are drugs, homosexuality, HIV, and a prison sentence. But this was Christopher's life.

Early in the book Angela becomes a Christian. She prays fervently for her son who rejects both her and her God. Until he reaches rock bottom and lands in prison for drug dealing. At which point he starts reading the Bible and even playing piano for a men's prison choir.

This book is full of coincidences. Or more likely God opportunities. When Christopher is going to be released from prison and wants to go to Bible college and his parents meet the president of Moody Bible Institute is just one of these amazing events.

While this book would be a great resource to those in the middle of these issues (drugs, homosexuality, or the parent of someone dealing with these issues), that's not the core focus of this book, in my opinion. To me, it's how God can change someone's life even when you think that would be the last person to allow God to change them.

Christopher mentions the verse Acts 17:28 “For in him we live and move and have our being.” He says that Christ is above all, he isn't defined by anything except that he is a child of God, and the goal of the Christian life is holiness.

As for marriage in his future? Christopher says that he used to think he needed to be attracted to women to desire marriage, but he has realized he only needs to be attracted to one woman. The chapter entitled “Holy Sexuality” is alone worth the price of this book.
I enjoyed how Angela would write one chapter, and Christopher would write the next. It flowed well and it was wonderful to see the events from each of their perspectives.

This is definitely one of the best books I have ever read. I hope that both Christopher and Angela Yuan will write more in the future. I hope to see this book become an instant Christian classic. It is a book that is sorely needed today, and it even includes a study guide should it wish to be read and discussed in a small group setting.

You can read a sample here:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I'm no longer 12 years old!

I considered calling this post "My Church Split" but usually "church split means something else entirely.

I'm in a Wednesday night class at church with mainly 18-23 year olds.  Never mind the fact I'm the same age as some of their mothers. . . and for the most part I feel like they are my peers.  I really do try to avoid words and phrases such as "USSR", "When I was your age", "video cassette recorder" or even "I remember the first time I got on the Internet".  I almost slipped the other night and said I had a 20th high school reunion coming up this summer.  Some of them weren't even alive 20 years ago.

Anyway, after church a group of us were sitting around goofing off.  "L" asked if anyone could touch their palms to the floor instead of just touching your toes.  I may be obese, but I am flexible.  So I said, "You mean this?" and demonstrated.  "L" asked me how I did that.

Well, I couldn't just leave it at that.  You would think 20 years of life beyond my friends would teach me something, but no. . . .

I just HAD to show off how I could sit on the floor and put my foot on my head.  Impressed the teenagers.

So then someone else showed off a yoga pose that is difficult, and I said to no one in paticular that I used to be able to do splits really well and hadn't tried in years.  (I'm sure you're seeing where this is going.)

I have never had any athletic prowess whatsoever, but I discovered in jr. high that not everyone can do splits.  Overweight even then, I did splits better than some of the cheerleaders.  I was able to on my left leg in front split get totally down on the floor. Of course this was 25 years ago.

So I tried a split at church.  Was about 3 inches off the floor.  Made an "oooooh" noise that could be translated as "I'm middle aged.  This was a stupid idea" when  my friend "T" noticed me and called out "Wow!  You CAN do that!"  I, of course, was thrilled that I impressed a 20 year old man who is extremely in shape.

I was still thrilled with my accomplishment when I took some Aleve later.  Wasn't quite as thrilled with my split the next day as my muscles ached from being stretched like I hadn't done in a very long time!

I really think I need to remember I'm no longer 12 years old and should take a second thought before trying to do something I did 20+ years ago even if it did impress my friends!  LOL

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cleansing the Word

I posted this status on my Facebook update last night:

And for another edition of "How do I do these things". . . I just got shampoo all over my Bible and I wasn't holding shampoo nor was I in the shower. Grrrrrrrrrr

I got some funny comments:

Wow!?? I feel a radar report might be in order

Does you Bible smell nice now? And what poor timing, with The Rapture so soon

I may regret it, but I'm curious as to learn as to how this happened.

You don't have to cleanse the Word. It's already pure:)

Ok, you started this. Now you have to finish the story.

The word is water, but I still think this is out of line.

The story isn't that great as my status, but I'll share. . .

My church had Far Western Campmeeting for our district at our church on Thursday and Friday.

Without Internet last night (and the night before that, and the night before that) I decided to see if I could pick up a connection from my neighbors last night in my bathroom on my iPod to check my e-mail.

I had at some point set some medicated shampoo upside down in the widow to get the last of it to the top so I could use it.  Unknown to me, some leaked onto the window sill.

I set my Bible down -- directly into the shampoo.  So it was all gooey.  I dampened a washcloth and cleaned off my Bible.

So, like I said, my Facebook status was much more interesting than the actual story.

Certainly not as entertaining as what I did at church Wednesday night, but that's another post, hopefully later tonight since I've not been on much this week!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When you get TMJ from cleaning your purse!

In a recent post I mentioned how I got TMJ a few years ago from cleaning out my purse.  I was asked for the story so here it is:

I found a great deal on a hotel stays.  I always wanted to go to Williamsburg, so I played around with dates, and was able to book a room for four nights for $60 TOTAL. So my mother and I headed off into a dreary, rainy Williamsburg experience.  It was cold, and rained our entire trip.  There's not much to do in 40 degree rain in Williamsburg!

We did go to Virginia Beach to the IMAX theater, see the ocean (sitting in the car while it was raining!), a used book sale, and to visit an online friend of mine.  The only other thing we did besides eat out was I went to Sabbath service at the synagogue in Williamsburg to get a little Hebrew practice.

Well, on the day before we were to come home, I was sitting on my bed cleaning out my purse.  I leaned back.  I was sitting at the top of the bed and if  leaned back, I should have only leaned back on the bed in a half sitting, half lying position.  However, that isn't what happened.  Somehow I was propelled a couple extra feet and went over the bottom of the bed head first.

The hotel floor was cement with thin carpet over it.  (With us paying $15 a night, you know this was no fancy hotel.)  I have heard accidnet victims say things seem to happen in slow motion.  That's what happened as I was falling.  I thought, "I'm never going to be able to walk again."

I landed on the floor, head first.  I think I blacked out for a few seconds because my mother said she was talking to me and I wasn't responding.  My first thought when I came to was, "Can I move my toes?"  I could, thankfully, and amazingly the only thing that happened to me physically was I developed a severe case of TMJ.  Even though this was two years ago, I still have pain from time to time, although my attitude is why tell anyone because there's nothing anyone can do, and you just make those around you miserable when you complain about pain. 

I had to use a straw to drink out of for days because I couldn't open my mouth wide enough to drink.  In fact, I actually had to dribble water from a straw into my mouth at one point because I couldn't open my mouth wide enough for a straw. 

Then for a few more days all I could eat was foods that didn't have to be chewed.  Baby food, apple sauce, mashed potatoes (and I became quite the expert on boxed mashed potatoes.  Betty Crocker Cheesy Mashed Potatoes are a favorite!)

I still have no idea how I fell off that bed.  Mom said if she didn't see it she wouldn't have believed it.  A friend of mine told me a ghost pushed me when I told her the story, and she insisted there are lots of ghosts in Williamsburg.  I have no idea what hapened, but I am just thankful I wasn't hurt any more than I was.

So, there's the story.  I'm afraid it's not as exciting as what Sara had hoped when she asked me to tell about it, but the mystery still remains how I fell off the bed onto my head in the first place!  I know I'm clumsy, but like I said if I had just fallen backwards, I would have been lying on the bed, but I was propelled a few feet further and then tell upside down.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Twenty Years Ago

How many of you remember May 12, 1991?  I doubt many, but I do.

I was home from college just two days and decided to visit a church I'd never been to.  Little did I know that someone I met there that day would become of my best friends and like a brother to me.

Donnie and I were both teenagers then.  (In fact, it was his birthday that day, too!  I joke that I was the best birthday gift he ever received.  I'm sure he thinks differently, though!)

This was NOT my first encounter of him, however.  When I was in junior high, my youth group was going to a concert.  We stopped at a McDonalds and I am convinced the guy all us girls were talken with by how cute he was -- was none other than Donnie.  I asked him about this once, and he said he did have a shirt like the one I described this cutie ordering, and yes, indeed he went to the same concert!  :) 

It sounds cliche, but it doesn't seem possible we've been friends for 20 years.  During that time he's graduated college and then graduate school, been ordained, gotten married to a wonderful person named Blythe I am also very close with, become a father to three wonderful children (who call me "Aunt"), started a church in New Jersey, and moved to Russia. 

When plans were being made to move to Russia, I was told by Donnie and Blythe that I needed to come visit, so I started saving for the trip.  While there, we were stuck in a traffic jam and I laughed about how if I had known that someday I would be stuck in a Russian Round-about with the cute boy at McDonalds, how thrilled I would have been as a junior high kid.  Instead, Donnie had taken me down to get my paperwork approved for my visit, and Blythe was at home with the kids.  Donnie and I were racking our brains as to where we put a video I had brought as a gift for their daughter.   Blythe had called and the kids were wanting to watch it, but she couldn't find it.  (The DVD was found a few hours later in the game closet.)

The majority of my suitcases when visiting were filled with gifts for Donnie and Blythe.  Other American friends of theirs asked me to buy some stuff and bring to them.  I took only about three sets of clothes so there would be room for all the gifts.  Even a clerk at the post office wanted to send over some Pop-Tarts and Oreos!  I could fit 50 pounds into each suitcase I took, and packed carefully, even having things on top that I could easily ditch at the airport if needed (Bag of Reese's cups, Twizzlers, etc.)  Thankfully each suitcase had exactly 2 pounds to spare.  (Of coure, my backpack weighed about 20 pounds and I had to carry that halfway around the world!)

It wasn't a problem taking snacks they enjoyed, but I wanted to find some way to take root beer.  This is something Donnie loves and isn't sold in Russia.  I thought I had figured out the solution to this by buying two 20 oz bottles (for $2 each!) in Detroit after I was through security.  However, they were confiscated in Amsterdam.  I even said, "They are my brother's favorite drink and he can't get it in Russia."  They were sealed.  I had the slip where I bought them in the Detroit airport but they were still taken from me.  I understand why, but I so hoped he could have one of those! 

Donnie and Blythe came home early last year when it was found out she was expecting!  Next month they are moving back to Russia for three years.  I'm going to miss them terribly, but at least it's only 8¢ a minute to call, and there is Skype.  Facebook is great for keeping up, and Donnie and I always play Scrabble over e-mail using a UK service, usually making 1 play a day.  There's a place we can put a note in with our play and often a few words will be put there about what is going on in our day.  "Having friends over for dinner" or "It's the 4th of July, don't you miss the USA today?"  It's not detailed, but a great way to keep in touch.

Now that they are heading home, it's time for me to start saving for my trip to Russia again.

Maybe May 12, 2013 will find me in Russia.  You never know.

Here I am with Blythe in front of the Church of the Saviour of the Spilled Blood.  The other picture is me with Donnie, also in Russia.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mom's Mother's Day Card to her Uncle

My mother has always been a bit unconventional.  My first day of school she forgot to take a photo of ME, but remembered to take a photo of the cookies she baked.  (And I think we sold that tray at a yardsale and I'd honestly like another one because that's what the Big Batch Cookie Mix cookies always were placed on.  Am I the only one who misses the Big Batch Cookie Mix?)

Anyway, with this being Mother's Day and all, I was thinking how I like how a few churches celebrate Mothering Sunday.  There are women who are infertile who going to church this day reminds them how much they want children and can't have them.  There are single women in churches who want to remain pure for marriage and don't have children but feel the clock is ticking.

And then there are the men who preform things a mother does!

My mother recognized this years ago, and she made a Mother's Day card for her uncle.  Judging from the handwriting of the children who signed it, and year my Great Uncle died, I would say she came up with this idea about 1970.

My mother always taught me to be creative.  I had a reputation some years back -- not a bad reputation, but everyone wanted to get a handmade card from me because it would always be funny.  This is because of Mom's influence. 

Her creativity isn't just left to cards.  Watch for her in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Answered Prayers: 101 Stories of Hope, Miracles, Faith, Divine Intervention, and the Power of Prayer  and Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada: 101 Heartwarming and Inspiring Stories by and for Canadians.

She also taught me to think of others who might be forgotten.  When I had a birthday party, I couldn't invite just the girl my age from the family who lived two houses away but I needed to invite all seven of the childrenn or invite none. 

So this Mother's Day in honor of my mom, wish someone a Happy Mother's Day who might be forgotten.  Call up the infertile woman at church and cry with her.  Give your teenage baby sitter a small gift card for ice cream with a card made by your kids wishing HER a Happy Mother's Day.  Even give your favorite uncle a Mother's Day card.  Mom did.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  And, Uncle Bert, I hope you have a great Mother's Day in Heaven.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My math skills (or lack thereof)

My guinea pig has been sick.  He's nearly well now, but while taking antibiotics, certain things happen to animals, too, when they are on antibiotics.

Well, my little guy had taken a full course of the meds to counteract the situation, and I needed to call the vet today to see if he would call in a prescription to Walmart because my little guy still needed some meds, and the vet's office is about 3 hours away on a good day.  I've had a vet phone in a prescription to a human pharmacy before, and in a situation where the vet is so far away, it's a huge convenience.  (I'm sure people are wondering why the vet is so far away, but very few vets are really qualified to deal with guinea pigs.  My vet is an exotics who is wonderful!)

Let me back up a moment.  In college I was diagnosed with a learning disability in math and foreign languages.  This surprises many people because I attempted to learn Hebrew on my own and that I am as good with stretching a dollar as I am.  It used to take me the longest time to figure out what 35¢ coupon tripled would be.  I usally work left to right in a math problem instead of right to left.  (For instance, I would multiple 30 by 3, then 5 by three, then add them together.)  I'm sure you can see where difficulty can come in when I am faced with a more complicated math problem.

Usually I am good in metric.  Living overseas one summer helped with that greatly.  My vet does everything in metric.  Today he asked me how many grams my little guy weighed.  Now kilos I can do.  He's about .85 kilos.  But ask me to think fast on my feet to do the conversion from pounds to kilos and then move the kilos to grams.  Oy vey!

Well, then I didn't realize I did this until after I got off the phone with him.  Dealing with CCs is new to me.  Add in most of the meds are being dosed in fractions of CCs.  I told the vet I gave my guinea pig 48 CCs of an over the counter med.  OH MY!  I should have said 2.8 CCs.  (Well, I was only about 45 CCs off!)

I'm really, really embarassed.  I bet my vet thinks it's a wonder I haven't killed my precious pet with dosing like that.

Next thing on my to do list:  get better at math when it involves CCs.