Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The kid is growing. He, being an only child, gets
all the milk and is strong and happy. His mama kind
of likes him.

I've been thinking and here is the end of all that
thought. When life gets less complicated and I have
more time on my hands I should buy a better camera
and create a book to be published.

The title will be: A Year of Sunrises from the Front Porch

It will have to have a sequel of course: A Year of Sunsets from
the Back Door

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The extended family to which I belong all have a touch
of pyromanianism in them. When those who have long since
moved from Fern Nook come for a visit, it would not be a
complete visit without a bonfire. It can be 10 below
zero, no matter, a bonfire is the order of the day. It
can be 110 degrees-we must have our bonfire. If not, we
might go home full, but we won't go home happy.

Even when I lived in the big city we had bonfires. I don't
know if it was legal or not, but Dad would often make one
in our back yard, and even, from time to time, in the circle
we lived in. We lived at the junction of two short streets,
and there was a rather large circle, like a cul-de-sac that
held our house and several others. It was a great place for
four-square, only we played it using 10 or 12 squares at a
time. It was also a great place for fires. The cars driving
by could easily avoid the fire and the kids had great fun
roasting hotdogs and dancing like Indians around it.

Dad now always has a bonfire pile building up in his field.
Uncle Jim, as recently mentioned, burns leaves 24/7. That
is not exactly a bonfire, but it IS a fire at least. But
this weekend must take the cake for fires for us.

We started Friday night with a bonfire behind our shed. Since
I was going to the grocery store anyway, Hattie asked for
hotdogs, buns, and the makings for s'mores. And she emphasized,
"Make sure you don't just get one Hershey bar, we need at least
two." I came home with two big bars. We had a lovely fire.

Then all yesterday afternoon, Tyler, Hattie and Kent spent burning
off part of a field Tyler is working to get in shape as a food
plot. He's been working on it in his spare time for weeks. His
arms looks like he has been through a war zone. They are rather
ripped up from the brambles. I highly recommend ripping up
brambles as a way for young people to get out any aggression they
may feel building up.

Last night, though, we had the King of Bonfires. Joel has been
clearing out his woods for a few years, and he spent the last
few weeks going out and gathering up the branches and throwing
them into a pile. It was huge. It was glorious. At one point,
I felt like I was being watched and I turned to find three cows
right behind me. They were fascinated by the fire.

It's been a lovely weekend.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Up and Down the Gravel:

1. G'ma Opal had a leak in her kitchen sink yesterday.
Hattie was down there while Dad was trying to work
on it. I don't know if it got fixed or not. I do
know that there was some problem with finding a bucket
or container that could fit under the leak to collect
the drips.

2. Speaking of leaks, our pipe outside of the well house
froze this week and the pipe inside of it sprang a leak.
Kent spent Monday morning replacing those. We have it
(the well house) insulated inside and out, and we have
a light hanging inside to keep it from freezing, but
the cold was just too much I guess. Anyway, the cows
have water again and are fat and happy.

3. Jim is busy burning leaves. Jim is ALWAYS busy burning
leaves. As Hattie says, "He burns leaves 24/7." Well,
I guess he works in a few other things as well, like, say,
looking after G'ma Opal.

4. Billy is back in The Big City for school. It is harder for
him to come home weekends this semester. His schedule and
his work load both are in the way.

5. Mom finished her second treatment of chemo in The Big City.
She came home with a new wig. She is good at collecting
wigs. This one is grey, but I've not seen it on her yet.
She is in the midst of her "bad" days, mostly due to the
white blood count shot they give her the day after her
chemo treatment.

6. While Mom and Dad were in The Big City, Tandy came over for
dinner. The first night I made Hungarian Goulash. This is
made with round steak and onion and green pepper in a think
sauce with sour cream and lots of paprika. I could be buried
in Hungarian Goulash. Tandy, (at whom I am poking very gentle fun said, "Thanks for dinner, it was
okay, but I like chicken and dumplings better."

Oh, if we could all be so very honest like that. On the other
hand, maybe it is better that we are not.

7. The Kid goat continues to thrive. He looks just like his

8. My Missouri Conservation calendar reminds me this morning that
watercress is green this time of year. We must grab the next
warm day and load up G'ma Opal and go and gather some from
Cave Springs. The Irish would add watercress to their potato
soup. I tried that once; it tasted fine, but the kids had a
hard time eating green potato soup.

9. The Psalmist reminded me this morning in Psalm 124:8
"Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth."

Monday, January 21, 2008

The view from my front door.

This is why I like waking up in the morning.
Last week was filled with meetings and trips to the
Big City. I will catch up with what is going on up
and down the gravel, but for now, here are a few family
pictures to tide you over.

Friday, January 18, 2008

This morning we went dictionary hopping. We were trying
to trace Paul's second missionary journey. We have the
Bible maps, but we wanted to understand it more completely.
The commentary we were reading said Paul went into Asia Minor.
Kent said, "So, Laurie, (because I am the geography nut) just
where is Asia Minor."

I looked wise and sputtered a bit, then I said, "You know,
I am a little fuzzy on that one."

So I looked up Asia Minor. It is, according to Webster, a
"large peninsula in W Asia, between the Black Sea and the
Mediterranean, including Asiatic Turkey west of an undefined
line from the Gulf of Iskenderun to the Black Sea."

Okay, not so bad, we now know where Asia Minor is, more or

Then Kent continued reading. Paul was not allowed to go to
Bythnia or the Asian Province, he had to go to Mysia. "Laurie,
where is Mysia?"

"Ummm. Well let's see what Webster says, he was so helpful

Quick turning of the pages.

Mysia-"ancient region in NW Asia Minor, on the Propontis."

"Hmmm. I think I'll look up Propontis. This is getting as
clear as mud."

Propontis-"Ancient name for Sea of Marmara." Like that helps.

"Let's turn to Marmara."

Marmara-"Sea of sea between European & Asiatic Turkey, connected
with the Black Sea by the Bosporus & with the Aegean by the

Finally we got it. And now we know. But it was a lot of work
to get there.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

When Kent and the boys returned from the Reality Check
Conference in Chattanooga, TN, they brought me back a
special gift. They brought me a copy of the recently
released book the Discipline of Spiritual Discernment
by Tim Challies. (They even had him sign it for me.)

Who needs chocolates and flowers when there are books
to be had?

This paragraph, that I read this morning, give a good
picture of what Challies is getting at in his book.

"When we have rejected the doctrine of the sufficiency of
Scripture, we allow Christians to depend on things other
than the Bible as their guide to matters of life and faith.
In particular, people begin to depend upon mysticism, upon
ways of supposedly knowing God apart from the Bible. They
look inward for intrinsic wisdom rather than outward to the
Bible for its extrinsic wisdom. They forsake biblical reason
in favor of feelings, voices, visions, or other subjective
means of supposedly knowing God. This is a deadly error, for
spiritual discernment must be founded upon God's objective
revelation of himself in Scripture. We can only judge between
what is wrong and what is right when we know what God says
to be true. We can know this only from Scripture."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Newsflash Update:

It was not White Ears, but rather it was Curly Horns that had
the kid.

Thought you'd want to know.

Kent just popped in from feeding the critters and he
said, "Hattie, one of the goats just had her kid."

Hattie jumped up and asked, "Which one?"

"White ears."

Hattie ran to me with hands in a praying position and
pleading in her eyes, "Please, Mom!"

"Sigh. Okay. Put on something warm."

Language Arts will just have to wait, some things are
just too exciting to fight.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Maybe it's because of the New Year, but for whatever reason
I've been ruminating a bit lately over the purpose of this
little slice of blogspace. Everyone who write needs to have
a reason to lay their words before the reading public. This
blog has been in the sago sago tradition (that would be Cebuano
for "all mixed up"), or I could say in Tagalog "halo halo" and
mean the same thing but with different words. If I wanted to
use crosswordese I would say that this blog is olio (a mixed

There are words that define my life, but they haven't really
been defining of this blog.

I am a wife andmother, but this blog isn't all about mother skills
and marriage 101 skills, though I have been thinking about writing
a post with parenting advise in the near future.

I am a homeschooler, but I have seldom written about that. There
are so many good homeschool blogs and I never felt anyone would
really want my wisdom in that arena.

I am a Christian, but if that doesn't come through anyway then I
had better just throw in the towel and be done with it.

I am Reformed to a turn, and I am sure it is pretty obvious from
time to time, but this blog has never been about theology per se.

I love to read, but am greatly constrained by time, and there are
oodles of great book blogs around.

With all of this thinking, which has been just about as much as
my poor little grey tich of matter can handle, I have reached a

This blog is about the gravel road. It is about the little community
that used to be called Fern Nook and that is no longer on the map.
It is about a way of life that may not seem so different from the
rest of America and yet is in some major ways. It is about
rootedness, and family, and the little day to day things that go
on up and down the gravel. Because you see, while I can think
of a half of a dozen families here in Mayberry County that have
several family units living within a stretch of gravel, I don't
think many people other places can. I would like to preserve
a little of the way a 2000 and something family can live, with
computers and cars and modern conveniences, and yet with lots
of fresh air and freedom and family. And, for those who want to
keep up with G'ma Opal, and Mom and Dad, Uncle Jim and the rest
of the family, I want to be a mooring-in spot.

And so, for those of you who just happened to wander into this little
corner of cyberspace, you are welcome to stay and visit. You would
be just as welcome if you came on up, or down, for a visit in person.
I was staying one summer with G'ma Opal, years ago, when an entire
carload of relatives from Texas came for an extended stay. G'ma and
I were working in the tomatoes and saw them pull into the driveway.
We didn't have a clue they were coming. Eleven of them piled out of
the station wagon and though they were unexpected, they were not
unwelcome. We fed them and bedded them just fine. We'd do the same
for you.

Friday, January 11, 2008

I've not written about my mother's cancer because I know
that it will bring pain to some who read here.

Mom has begun chemotherapy again. Her cancer has returned
with a vengeance. When asked how she is doing, I respond,
"Emotionally she is doing very well; physically, only God
knows how she fares." We just haven't much information at
this point.

Her confidence in Christ and her future with Him is very
strong. If He brings healing, she will enjoy it; if He
brings her to Himself, she is ready.

On Wednesday afternoon, several elders from her church along
with her pastor, John Harwell, and Kent and one elder from
our church went to her home. She and Dad had asked them to
come in accordance with what James teaches us to do when we
are sick.

James 5:14
Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the
church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in
the name of the Lord.

They had a very precious time together.

This is no magic formula. It is a call to obedience. When we
follow the words of Scripture we are in God's will. When we
are in His will we can rest deeply in Him. It is not hype,
it is not emotionalism, it is a step of faith in the power
of Christ to save and to keep that which is given to Him.
Mom is His; she is in His hands. We will leave her there.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Sometimes it is commonalties that make for fun or
interesting reading and sometimes it is differences.
This morning, as I was readying myself for the day,
I was contemplating deeply (does one ever contemplate
not deeply?) one difference that I have from almost
everyone I know.

That difference is my shoe size.

I have to say "almost everyone I know" because my
sister, Becky, shares the same, or almost the same,
shoe size with me. I wear a size 2 shoe. That is a
size 2 in children's sizes.

I have always loved being part of a short family, and
I have felt it was a blessing to be among the shortest
of that family. I have one cousin who is actually only
4'8", which is an inch shorter than I am. Becky used to
be my height, but after having several children she seems
to have gained an inch on me. 'Though I suspect she only
has been measured in the morning. Uncle Jim, that fount
of much useful trivia, tells me we are always taller in
the morning before gravity has been working on us all day.
(He also told me that the amount of sunlight in a day,
when plotted on a graph makes a sine wave, with the tops
and bottoms of the waves being when we hit the winter
and summer equinoxes. I am a daylight and equinox freak
and I find that tidbit especially fascinating.)

How quickly this wanders off track. Back to the differences
in people's lives. I bet there are not many of my gentle
readers who have to throw away pantyhose because the velcro
on their size 2 left shoe tears it up when they cross their
size 2 right shoe over their ankle as their little feet are
dangling down from the pew and hanging several inches above
the floor. It is possible that those little legs get tired
of dangling and so, to keep from going numb, they are tucked
under one as she patiently listens to the wisdom from the
pulpit, then when she shifts positions, the velcro, which is
now actually stuck to the pew itself, makes a huge uncrunching
noise as it slowly separates.

This does not even compare, though, to the joys of shopping for
size 2 shoes. My choices in dress shoes are shiny black or white
patent leather with little silver flowers attached. I can go
with Cinderella or Bratz designs if I like. My tennis shoes
have the option of lighting up every time I take a step. (That
is not very helpful when you are playing Sardines though.)

The bright side to all this is that Kent married me for my shoe
size. He has always been very monetarily conservative and reminds
me from time to time that he always wanted a wife who could buy
cheap shoes.

I am proud to fill the bill, even if I don't quite fill the shoe.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A few days ago Dad and Billy were down at G'ma Opal's
house fixing her toilet. She was hanging around, probably
giving advise...because she will be cold in the ground
before she stops giving advise and opinions on things.

After they finished, she asked how much she owed them,
as if they would charge the 97 year old matriarch of the
family for an odd job like that.

She answered her own question with this, "Well, just
charge it to the ground and let the rain settle it."

Where does she come up with all her sayings?

Ah, the beauty of good old Ozarkian stock.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

You know you live in Mayberry when your son (in this
case Billy) goes under your home to do plumbing work
and comes out to say, "Well, I found two dead mice,
one dead rat, and a dead Barred Rock chicken."

We've not had chickens in several years, so this one
must have been dragged under by a fox...or a possum...
or a coon. I rather hope it was a fox, that is a little
more romantic, don't you think?

Friday, January 04, 2008

We were talking about how animals differ from humans. We
were focusing on the issue of morality. People were created
moral beings. God has written His law on their hearts, and
He has painstakingly laid out the law in written form so that
we might realize our desperate need for a Redeemer.

Animals, on the other hand are amoral. They do not have God's

So I said, "A mommy spider can kill and eat a daddy spider and
it is not murder." Long silence. "Happy mommy spider!"

Such little conversations and teasings weave through a family
an unbreakable bond.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

You know it's too cold in Mayberry when:

1. There are only 13 days left in bow season.
2. Your 18 year old son said sadly just the other
day, "Mom, do you realize I've not had my knife
in a deer this whole hunting season?"
3. Your 18 year old son lives for Christ, but loves
to hunt.
4. Your 18 year old son comes creeping into your
bedroom around 5 am and says, "I decided to just
go back to bed, so don't worry about thinking I
missed the's just too cold."