October 17, 2008

A Visit from Mom and Dad Hjelle

David and I just enjoyed 5 full days with his parents here in Ithaca. They drove out from Minnesota and arrived at our place last Thursday evening. It has been an enjoyable whirlwind of 5 days. I thought I’d tell you a little bit of what we did and add a few photos.

Friday our highlights included walking the gorge, eating downtown, and visiting the Cornell bell tower to see the Chimemasters at work. We also checked out a few of the libraries close by.

Friday Breakfast Preparing for Friday lunch.

Saturday we tried to go on the planet walk (a walk, less than two miles long, that is a scale of the solar system) hosted by Bill Nye. But found out that it was Sunday instead. So mom and I went shopping while Dad and David walked the planet walk a day early. We met them to go to the Farmer’s market and discovered that they were carrying a tent they got at a free sale. We shopped the rest of the afternoon, went out for supper and came home to check out the tent. We also Skyped with Jon for a couple of hours.

New Tent! It looks really good! It might look like there is a piece missing, but David decided not to add the poles to the fly. I’m excited for next summer! (Josiah and Kelly, we have our own tent now!) And it was Free!!

Sunday we went to church and headed back down town to do the planet walk. On Saturday we weren’t the only ones thinking about doing the walk on Saturday, there were at least 10 of us confused people, when we got to the Commons we knew we had the right day. There were about 500 people there!

Bill Nye at Saturn Bill Nye introducing Saturn.

group photo Breaking for Lunch after the walk. We are still all dressed up for Church.

Monday we took a campus tour and ate lunch on campus. We did a lot of walking and toped it all off with a trip to the Diary Bar! Yummy Ice Cream! A photo by Bebee lake:

Bebee Lake

Tuesday we decided to split up and do what Mom and Dad wanted to do most. So Mom and I did a bit more window shopping. Dad and David went to Wilson Lab Synchrotron. We both enjoyed our own activites and it made for a more relaxing morning for all of us. On the way home we stopped by Ithaca Falls. Beautiful!

Ithaca Falls

David and his Parents

Ithaca Falls 2

It was a good, full week. Usually every day when we got home we were pretty tried. Mom and I were anyway. But it was so nice to spend time with them and show off some of the finer points of Ithaca.


In Christ,


A photo to leave you with: David

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September 12, 2008

A book worth Reading

This summer I reread a book titled “Brother Andrew, God’s Smuggler.” I can’t explain just how much it has impacted me. In order to do that, I’d also have to give a synopsis of the book and tell why and how each part has impacted me. How I longed to hear Baas’ playing. My fascination and jealousy of Andrew’s monkey. The miracles I rejoiced in reading about. The example of Mr. and Mrs. Hoppy. My desire to go to a school like the WEC and be pushed to be a real Christian. Knowing that Andrew was a real average person, yet is being used by God, and God is constantly proving Himself to Andrew and providing for him.

In short, the story is about a man named Andrew who grew up during WWII, had a desire for adventure, found God through scripture, let God radically change his life and, ended up being a traveling missionary to Communist countries.

The three biggest thoughts that linger are: 1. My desire to live my life in a way that God has an opportunity to do big miracles. 2. Thoughts about living more simply, and what if we ever had to flee from persecution. 3. How much I take my Bible for granted, and am so glad and honored that I am able to read my own Bible as often as I desire.

To give an example of this last thought, and to share a piece of the book, here is a quote.

“Our last Sunday in Russia we attended a Baptist church in a Ukrainian village not far from the Hungarian boarder. The singing was stirring, the prayers fervent. But when it came time for the sermon, the pastor did a strange thing. He walked off the platform, borrowed a book from one of the congregation, and took it back to the pulpit. It was the Bible! We had heard that there were ministers in Russia who did not have Bibles of their own. But this was the first time we had seen it with our own eyes.

“After the service the pastor invited us to join him and his elders in his study for a brief visit. The visit began, as it so often did in Russia, with an attack. We had learned that this was a safety device, since all pastors knew that their actions were observed. …

“At any rate, we got to talking about the Second Coming of Christ- by far the most popular theological topic in Russia- and the tone of our conversation immediately changed. I drew out my own Dutch Bible out of my pocket to follow the references he was making and when he was through, laid it on the desk.

“I noticed almost at once that he had lost interest in the conversation. His mind was taken up with the Bible! He picked it up and weighed it in his hand, unzipped it, started at the Dutch words he could not read, zipped it up again.

“Then he put it back on the desk. Not as I had put it down, but with great percission. He set it down on the corner and slowly ran his finger along the edge so that it was aligned with the desk. And then-his voice distant, talking more to himself than to us- he said, “You know, Brother, I have no Bible.”

“My heart broke. Here was this important man, the spiritual leader of a thousand souls, who did not own a copy of the Bible.

“All of the ones we had brought with us were gone-and then I remembered. The little Ukrainian picket Bible! ‘Wait!’ I shouted. I jumped up from my chair. The Bible societies would just have to take my word for it [that large Russian bibles etc could be printed in full in pocket size]. I raced outside to my car, threw open the door, got the little bible from under the seat, and ran back to the study.

“‘Here.’ I shoved the Bible into the pastor’s hand. ‘This is for you. To keep.’

“The translator repeated the words, but still the pastor did not understand.

“‘Whose is it?’ he said.

“‘It’s Your! To Keep, to own.’

“When Hans and I left that day, our chests ached from the embraces of that group of elders. For now their pastor had a Bible of his very own. A Bible he did not have to return at the end of the service. A Bible to pick up whenever he wanted. A Bible to read and to love.”

Oh, how often do I neglect my own copy of God’s word because it is so common to me? What a privilege it is to have it!

In Christ,


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August 30, 2008

A New Semester

Where has the month of August gone? After all the traveling we did this spring, and the mess with our car, it was really nice to just “relax” this past month. I don’t know how much relaxing we did, the month sure has flown by.

A few items of news. We have a new neighbor! The trailer next to our has been empty for as long as we have been living here. A cheerful lady moved in just a few weeks ago. We enjoyed watching the progress of her move and were able to meet her as she brought in her last load of things.

I praise God because she is the nice “back yard neighbor” that I was hoping for. I was a little nervous that we would have younger students next door and I’d be too shy to welcome them, and then resent their being so close to my “back yard.” I have been praying that God would have someone move in that would be nice neighbor, and He has answered my prayer. I look forward to getting to know her better.

David and I did go to the New York State Fair last Sunday afternoon together. If you want to hear a bit more about it, check out my new blog on the Jar of Wood webpage.

Now we are getting back into school mode. It is nice not being a first year student. Instead we are able to welcome this year’s first year students and try to make them feel more comfortable. It it nice to not be learning everything all over again: where the stores are, where churches are, how to ride the bus, etc.

This year does start a bit different though. This year David is starting as a Master’s Student, instead of a PhD student.

David has been doing some wrestling about his schooling. It has been hard for him not be catching on to this student thing as quickly as he hoped. Even this summer when he didn’t have to worry about classes things seemed to be going slow for him. It doesn’t help that his interests tend to be all over the place and difficult to focus on a single topic. (Last line added by David.)

One week was particularly hard. He was really ready to quit, to leave and not be sad about it at all. After much praying and thinking, he instead decided to switch to the Master’s program. If his advisor approves, he has the option of switching back to the Ph.D. program again later.

David is seeing how much competition there is in upper level schools, and it doesn’t attract him. Instead he likes the idea of teaching at smaller schools, or community colleges. I am glad. I think it will fit us better.

Here we go, into another year of school!

In Christ


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July 28, 2008

Good bye Old Car, Hello New

So, after 6 weeks of being without a car that we could drive, we finally have a new one! Horray!!! On Friday evening a friend of ours came and took our Escort away for us.

escort car

Last night we were able to pick up the volvo that we had looked at a month ago.

volvo car (If we are tired in the morning, we have a hard time spotting our car, it blends in so well to the trailer…)

I am so glad to be able to run normal errands again! David went with me to the local grocery store on Monday, and got to see first hand why I have been missing my regular grocery store. The prices are much more expensive and the check out lines were veeeeerrrrrrryyyyy slow. When I take the bus to the the store, I have just about a half hour to get groceries, check out, and be back to the bus to go home, or else I’m stuck there for another hour. We took 15 minutes or less to get the food we needed, and then waited in line for over 10 minutes before we got to the check out ourselves. At our regular store, the checkers often are taking the items off the belt faster than I can take them out the cart. A nice, no nonsense type of store. And cheaper.

Besides being able to do my regular errands again, we are glad we were able to get a wagon. It’s a bit bigger than our old one, but Lord willing we will be able to fill it up with kids some day. Now we are glad we can offer space to our friends when they need rides.

In other news, David is busy like usual, and worn out. He would appreciate prayer for real rest and recuperation. It’s been a busy last two or three months. He has been able to slow down a bit at home this past week, mostly because he was sick. He is still tired and trying hard to keep up with the work he has to do.

I’m doing well. Maybe trying to take on too many things and projects, but I am enjoying it all very much. Carving is going well. I am pretty steady with orders. God has been blessing my work and sales. Dutch lessons are going well. Slow and steady. The trailer gives me a lot of work to do. I am constantly cleaning and hoping to do more painting. The garden is growing beautifully. Of everything I planted, only the lettuce and endive didn’t survive. The peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and beats are doing very well!

front yard

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Ice Cream Truck!

I’ve never seen the mythical ice cream truck. You know, the truck that plays music that identifies it from all other trucks in the world, and attracts all the neighbourhood kids for blocks around.

I had read about Ice Cream Truck in the “Family Circus” comic, but I have never seen one before.

In Fredericton we had the ice cream bikes that would hang around the Kiddie Pools in town, so I figure the truck must really exist too. But I didn’t have any proof.

Last week Saturday it was hot inside our little trailer, so hot and sticky that I was craving ice cream all day long. This past Saturday I went berry picking for two hours; when I was done I was thinking ice cream sounded really nice, but we still didn’t have any in the house.

Yesterday, Sunday, I still wanted ice cream. I was a bit crabby too, which wasn’t nice for David. We were having one of our involved conversations that happens to all married couples. We were trying hard to wind it down but it wasn’t easy when I was moody.

All of a sudden we heard this weird music coming up the hill from the entrance of the trailer park. I thought, “What in the WORLD is that?!” and, “Why would some one being playing ‘Do your ears hang low’ so loudly? I know there are kids in the park but….” Then David said, “Hey! Ice Cream Truck! Do you have any cash?”

The funniest part of this was that during our conversation I had said to David three or four times, “I really want ice cream.” and “I almost want to go to the store to get some ice cream.” David even said that if it would make me happy he would go to the store for me and buy me some ice cream. It was shortly after he said that that we heard the music.

So off we went on my first ever “Ice Cream Truck Chase.” Ah, the dilemma, which way should we go down the park? What if it’s coming up one side while we were going down the other? Would it even come up to where we live? It’s a small street. What if it was gone before we got there?

God is funny some times, I think he likes to make his children smile. The truck was nicely coming up the road as we were going down it. David and I had a nice stroll around the park while we enjoyed our Blue Bunny Ice Cream bars. (Yes, it was Blue Bunny too!)

We couldn’t help but wonder if God was just having fun with us. Wanting to lavish his love and grace on us in very unexpected ways. This is the first time I’ve ever seen or even heard an ice cream truck. It wasn’t something we expected at all in our little trailer park. It came just when I was longing for ice cream, and just after David offered to buy me some. How nice that it was coming to us at the right moment.

Thank you God for Ice Cream Trucks!

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July 11, 2008

Vacation in Ohio

Two days after David and I returned from our trip to Minnesota, we rented a car to take our vacation in Ohio. I didn’t want to go. I was tired from the last trip. I wasn’t ready to turn around and head on a second one. I wasn’t ready to be social. I didn’t want to make the effort to pack. I was rather upset that we were not able to buy a car to take with us. And to top it all off, it was David’s birthday and I didn’t even have a gift for him.

That was Tuesday, thankfully on Wednesday David didn’t go to work so he could help me with all the last minute packing. That ended up being all the packing. It was 2 pm by the time we got into the car to leave. Then we realized we didn’t even know which way to leave town! David very diligently figure out how to get to our destination in Ohio, but didn’t look at how to get to Ohio from our house. Understandably, that is usually my job. It was quickly remedied and we were on our way.

After all that, this was one of the most relaxing vacations we have ever been on.

David and I went to Ohio to visit our college friend Josiah, and meet her boyfriend Adam; Kelly and her husband Don were there from Michigan. The last time we saw any of them was at Kelly and Don’s wedding two years ago. I know a lot of other college friends were invited to join us, but most of them were too far away to join us.

So, what did we do? We talked, for three days. It was so refreshing and relaxing. We did do a few other things, like went to see Wall-E, went swimming, had a barbecue with Josiah’s bible study. Mostly, we sat and talked. Some times we were inside because of the rain. Sometimes we were out side listening to and watching the fireworks from a distance. Often us girls were working on some type of project; Josiah embroidering, Kelly crocheting, and I was sanding spoons. Don was content to watch us. David made a pretense of carving, but that didn’t last long. Adam played guitar. Josiah, Kelly and David did some too, but not as much as Adam.

It was really nice just to catch up. It was nice to not have to go through all the small talk of who we are, etc, all that had been taken care of by 3-4 years at college together. We did have to get to know Adam and Don a bit, but they fit in so well that it didn’t take very long.

I can’t explain just how nice of a vacation it was, but I can post a few photos. You can find them in “Highlights of 2008” under photos.



In Christ


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June 30, 2008

Grandma’s Funeral

David and I have just returned from a trip to Minnesota. David’s grandma passed away last Monday and we went to be there for the funeral on Saturday.

This is the first time we have been back to MN since we moved to Upstate New York. It was really nice to see David’s parents again, as well as his brother, uncles, aunts and most of his cousins. It was also refreshing to be outside of the almost anti-American, Ithacian atmosphere for a few days.

The trip was a bit of a whirlwind. I was able to see Heather and her baby Judah for a short visit.

meeting Judah

It was wonderful!! She picked us and Jon up at the airport on Thursday and brought us to her house where Dad Hjelle was waiting. I was able to hold Judah for a while. He was in such a great mood! Heather and I have been talking on the phone lately, so it was really nice to see her again.

At Grandma’s Mom, Dad, and Mom’s brothers and sisters-in-laws were going through Grandma’s stuff to see what should be done with it.

Sorting photos (Pat, Mom and Pat sorting Grandma’s photos.)

Closet Stuff (Marty, Dad and Dale cleaning out the closet.)

They were nice to let me join in when I could. There was a lot of stuff to go through, and a lot of stuff they didn’t need or want, I was glad to pick up a few things to add to the history of our family. I have a lot of keepsakes from my family, but less from David’s family.

The funeral was nice. I was very glad that Dale, Mom’s brother, shared some memories about Grandma since the pastor didn’t know Grandma very well. David and Jon played Amazing grace on their trumpets, and a trio sang “What a friend we have in Jesus.”

grandsons The grandsons were the pallbearers.

It was a good to be able to go. David and I were both glad to be there. Glad to see his family again. Glad to see the extended family. Glad to say good-bye to Grandma. Glad to know that someday, we will see her again.

Grandma (Photo taken July, 2007, our last visit with Grandma before moving to New York.)

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June 17, 2008

To kiss or not to kiss?

First Kiss

I was responding to an e-mail I received a few weeks ago and share the story of David’s and my decision not to kiss until our wedding day. I thought you might like to read it too:

David and I talked a quite a bit about the kissing thing. When I met him, “I kissed Dating Good-bye” was a popular book. I had just broken off a relationship that had been too physical, and I thought that if I didn’t kiss a guy, then we would be less likely to get into any other physical trouble too. So, I made a promise to God that my next kiss would be on my wedding day.

That was good for David. He wasn’t sure how to act in a dating relationship. He wanted to remain pure and keep the relationship pure. Waiting until marriage to kiss seemed like a good guide line to follow.

The reason I think it worked for us is not because we didn’t kiss, but also because we went slow in anything physical. Unfortunately, a person can have a goal to not kiss, and still get into a lot of trouble physically. We took things slow all the way around. It was months before we held hands, or hugged. I think that made the bigger difference for me. It forced me do what I didn’t do in previous relationships. We worked on communication. We talked a lot. Because of that, and because we desired to put God before everything else, we have a strong foundation in our relationship.

A lot of people didn’t understand our decisions, or even agree with it. That was ok. I know I needed it at the time.

That being said, I do feel I missed something in not kissing before being married. I thoroughly enjoy the ooey-gooey feelings. I missed not having that with kissing, since the first kiss was in public, and then we had our wedding night.

What I do wish we could have changed, if we changed anything, is that I would have liked to have our first kiss be a small peck type kiss by ourselves before the wedding, and leave it at that. But more important to us than the kiss was the promise we made to God, and that is why we didn’t.

Since writing this e-mail, I have had a lot of thoughts about how would we raise our kids where it comes to dating. I’ve had a lot of thoughts about setting guidelines, where should boundaries be, etc. In the end, all I could really rely on was that God is in control. I know David and I will desire to teach purity and good character to our kids, and maybe in that we will also give a few guidelines to help them out.

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June 10, 2008


Yup, that’s right. I failed. My qualifying exam for the Ph.D. program at Cornell, and, despite a hard year of work, I failed. (This actually happened in the end of May, but I figured it was still worth writing about.)

In some ways, it is actually relieving. Academia sometimes seems to be 90% trying to seem smarter than you really are. It’s somewhat nice to be relieved of some of that presumption.

In other ways, it isn’t surprising to me. I’ve never been very strong in long-term memory of stuff I’ve learned in classes, and undergrad engineering was four years ago. My work at Interstates was only tangentially related to engineering, and I hadn’t seen anything other than high school algebra for quite some time. It’s been a crazy year sometimes—trying to remember differential equations, linear algebra, basic physics, and much more that I learned once upon a time. Nonetheless, I’ve been able to remember a lot (by God’s grace), and ended up doing fairly well in my classes—even if I spent all my time on classes and little on research. Fortunately, that’s changed for the summer, and I can find out if I like research after all.

Also, fortunately, I get another chance. My advisor thinks I can pass next time, and I think so, too, with a bit of work. Unfortunately, it isn’t until January. That leaves more time than I’d like to have it hanging over my head, but that’s ok.

The most challenging part has been a conversation I had with my advisor about whether grad school was really my passion or not. I’m actually quite appreciative of his wisdom: he wants to make sure that I am spending my time in graduate school doing something that I’m passionate about. I don’t know if I am. I’m passionate about following Christ, but little else seems worth spending gobs of energy doing. We’ll see what this summer brings. At this point, I believe that God has brought me to grad school and back into engineering for a reason—but I know that it may not be the reason that I expected.

God is good, and I am trusting Him for all things. We’ll see what the future holds.

Speaking of trusting God, our mechanic just recommended that we junk our car and get a new one. Enough is wrong that his estimate for repair is to pass inspection. So we have some serious thinking and praying to do about that, too.

On a completely different note, I ran across two very interesting articles today. The first regards global warming. Apparently, a new paper proposes that clouds may provide essentially “climate control” that keeps the levels of warming from greenhouse gases in check. It is expected to be controversial, but I think it demonstrates that there is so much in science that we don’t really know. Ironically, science knows much more than most average people seem to thing and much less than scientists tend to insist.

The other interesting article dealt with something at least as controversial: evolution. Apparently, a guy has been watching bacteria for like 20 years (or 44,000 generations), and observed not just the usual micro-evolutionary changes that happened across all his bacteria, but also a change that happened in just one population—they gained the ability to metabolise citrate. I hardly know what that means, other than they can eat something that wasn’t useful for them before. The article notes that this ability used to be a way to differentiate this species from others. (Of course, I’m not sure that there is a good definition for species in biology.)

This is interesting to me, as I’ve realized that I’ve learned very little about evolution in my education. I’m having to learn: our lab does a lot of work with computer algorithms based on evolutionary ideas. And they work surprisingly well, even evidencing what I am rather forced to call “creativity.”

Now don’t hear what I’m not saying: I don’t know what to think about evolution. I don’t believe science just because it is science, unlike so many people around graduate school here. I know that science can be very biased, despite its best attempts at finding truth. But, I also know that Christians sometimes throw science out the door because it is “just science” or because “science is an enemy of religion.” I don’t feel that creationist, intelligent design folks, or evolutions have done a very good job on their debates about the topic: we don’t keep any distinctions between science, theology, and philosophy very clear.

That said, I am far more apt to believe in a six-day creation than I am in materialistic, naturalistic evolution. At the same time, however, I am starting to wonder if there is an option that does justice both to the Biblical text (without just reinterpreting words for the heck of it) and to whatever scientific evidence is truly credible (which may not even be most of it, I don’t know). I guess we’ll see if I have any new insights by the time I’m done with grad school. This should be interesting. :-)

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June 07, 2008

Much Mint


One of the delights I have found in our garden this spring is the presence of mint. I knew that whoever planted the garden last had planted a lot of herbs. I’ve always liked the idea of having a herb garden, but because I can only identify chives, I didn’t know what to do with everything that was already planted. This spring, after cleaning out the garden last fall, two of the herbs came back. Chives and mint.

The chives I knew. I have since learned that there are at least two types of chives, garlic and regular. The ones we have are garlic chives. They are a bit stronger than regular chives. I also have a bit of regular chives too, I picked them up from an empty lot down the road.

The mint was easy to identify by smell. Now that I know I have mint in the garden, I have been doing a little bit of research about it. Did you know that mint is good for digestion? There is a reason that restaurants give out mints after meals. I never knew that.

A neighbour that lives on our street also showed me where there is some spearmint growing in the back yard between our yards. Since no on is living there right now, I decided to help myself to a bit of it. I actually found two kinds of mint in the neighbour’s back yard.

Did you know that there are so many kinds of mint that even experts may have a hard time identifying them? That is because they cross pollinate so easily.

I also read that mint could help ease menstrual cramps. So I tried it this past month. I did help for a while, and I did take less medication, but it wasn’t the miracle drug I was hoping it would be. I’ll try again next month. Until then, I think I’ll learn how to use it in baking.

Here is one of many great web pages on mint: Herbalcuisine.

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June 02, 2008

Garden Photos

Here is a photo progression of what has been happening in our yard.


This is what the front of our trailer looked like the day we moved in. We hadn’t even been inside yet at this point.


Here is a photo of our garden in the winter, after we had pulled out all the plants in the garden. I was sad to pull out plants that I knew were valuable, but I didn’t know what they were or what to do with them. David convinced me to start from scratch in the spring.


Here is a photo of the fence Mindy and I worked on just before I went to New Brunswick for Dad’s birthday. Also, notice that the bush on the right is gone. David took it out for me so I would have more garden space for veggies.


Here I am wanting to plant the garden, but it’s still a bit early, so instead I am playing with a less expensive idea to redirecting the rain that comes off the front of the trailer into the garden (the broken pieces of pot under the hardest hit areas of run off). I’ve also built a trellis for my cucumbers or peas.


This is where the garden is at today.

*I added a bit of fun willow branches to the fence to make it more filled in.

*I’ve added a second trellis so the peas and cucumbers can each have their own trellis.

*I have Vinca (Impatients) planted in the long green planter on the ledge of the trailer. I also have Cinnamon Basil in the terri cotta planter.

*I have tomato and sweet basil planted in the bucket on the trailer hitch.

*The roses have been pruned and are growing like crazy, as well as the chives in front of the roses. Where David took out a bush, a root of the old rose bush that was also there is re-sprouting and growing.

*I planted a few marigolds to keep the rabbits out of the unfenced area.

*David helped me put up a little netting to keep the deer out, we used some willow branches for the posts.

*The part you can’t see yet is that all the seed are in the ground, and some a slowly coming up!

new garden

We also have official permission from the park to put in another garden plot. This past week David took out the sod and helped me plant a few flower seeds in this area. I received a lilly plant from the neighbour. The large yew was there and we just planted around it. The plants in the planters are mint, basil, and oregano in the planters on the sidewalk. Behind the yew bush I have Lemon balm. In the holes of the cinder blocks I have planted pansies. And the wine barrel has peppers, banana pepper and jalapeño pepper. The blue bucket is sitting there to catch the runoff from our gutters that don’t work. In the back I have a few wooden boxes that I hope to fill yet with onions and maybe potatoes.

And that is where we are in our gardening adventure. It has given me a lot of pleasure and satisfaction to be able to work so much with my hands and to work towards growing things myself. I’ve never wanted to be a gardener, but something changed over the past year and now I’m excited about it!

One last photo for you, of the new view from our front door. I have to put away the gardening supplies yet, but it is satisfying to be able to see a bit of garden from the inside of our house too.


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Inspired Creativity - Gardening

So, I started the post a few weeks ago, but for some reason I never posted it. Here is it anyway. It embodies my creativity spirts one and two.

“I’m not sure why, I think it’s spring, but I’ve been hit pretty hard with the creativity bug! A few weeks ago I was leaving the public library and a book caught my eye called You Grow Girl so I picked it up. I knew I wanted to do a bit of gardening this year. I’ve been thinking about it ever since we moved to a home with a bit of land. I so enjoyed making strawberry jam last year, that I can’t wait to try more things this year.

“My first inspiration has been to make a little fence around my garden. It was one of the first projects suggested in the book. It sure looked like fun, but was a lot more work than I bargained for! My friend, Mindy, came and helped me out evening and we got quite a ways done. I worked on it a bit more in the next few days. It’s not as high as I was hoping, but it will do for this year.

“I can’t wait to garden and watch things grown! I keep going out to see what other surprises keep popping up in my garden. So far the roses have been leafing beautifully, and the chives are coming back, as well as the mint. Can’t forget those dandelions either.

“I hope to plant cucumbers, peas, carrots, tomatoes, green peppers, lettuce and some flowers. Those are the seeds I have right now at least. Alas, I was told the day to start planting here isn’t until May 21st, I have to wait longer! I did start my green peppers today though, inside, and a bit of spinach too. I am so excited to see SOMETHING grow that I couldn’t wait any more. I am probably late on my green peppers though, I couldn’t decide if I should start them from seed or buy them in plant form first. I’ll try the seed and see how that goes.”

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May 21, 2008

Creativity Spirt #3 - Painting

(Note: Creativity Spirt 1&2 have yet to be written.)

After we moved into our trailer, I wasn’t very happy with the state we found it in. After taking over 80 pictures of little nicks and scratches and dents and stains, I did not care to keep a record of the rooms as a whole.

It has been 10 months since we moved in and we have had our share of frustrations with the trailer. Thankfully, there is a wonderful thing that happens to a person when they cease being a renter of a place and become an owner. (We are renting to own at the moment.) The ability to do what we would like to the trailer is very freeing!

This week, while David is gone, I’ve been working hard at painting the living room. It was the nasty dark brown paneling that is common for old trailer homes. Now it is a cheery light yellow and looks more cottage-like.

Here is a photo of one corner of our living room just after we moved in. The photo is highlighting the nice bumpy ceiling we have, but the dark walls are apparent also.


Here is the photo of my work in progress. Hopefully tomorrow I will be done the one wall on the right and can move the plastic and put the computer desk back against the wall. My sister is coming on Saturday with her daughter and baby, I hope to have the living room neat and usable again by then.


Enjoy! (do you like it David?)

In Christ,


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May 17, 2008

A few Thoughts on Prince Caspian


So, as I mentioned yesterday, David and I went to see Prince Caspian last night for our Anniversary. David wanted me to write a quick note to let you know, “Don’t waste your money.” He’s busy studying for his Qualifying Exam that is on Monday or he would write it himself.

If you are like me, you will go anyway, just because you liked the books and want to see the movie version. Of course, like just about any movie made from books, it’s not what you hope for.

“It’s a fine move as long as you are not expecting Narnia,” says David. (It’s fun quoting my husband—then I don’t have to think so hard.) “The first movie made me think of fond memories of Narnia, this movie didn’t. It’s a fun fantasy movie, and clean, but it missed the heart of the story that Lewis wrote.” David says he is still trying to figure out exactly why, and maybe he is missing the depth in the movie, but I agree with him. Narnia seems to have been lost in the movie.

I did enjoy watching it, for the most part, but was sad that it strayed so far from the book. It also missed my favorite part of the book. (Small spoiler warning, skip rest of paragraph if you wish.) Prince Caspian is not my favorite of the seven books, but the part that makes it worth reading for me is when Aslan makes a Holiday with Susan and Lucy. I love the redemption and freedom that people feel when Aslan comes and heals them or frees them from not nice situations. It is not existent in the movie. No nurse to be reunited with Prince Caspian at the end either.

David and I both agree that we are able to excuse a lot of the changes to the story, but when the silly pop song came on at the end of the movie, before it was done, we both groaned and felt the movie quality dropped to the bottom. Why must they ruin a movie by adding pop songs that don’t need to be there?

David wants to warn you to not waste your money. I don’t feel it was a waste, exactly, and I will probably go to all the movies when they come out, because I love the books so much. But I went to “The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe” three times and each time was able to be carried away into the land of Narnia. I won’t be doing that for this movie, that would be a waste of money to me.

Maybe someday this movie will take on the “Anne of Green Gables” movie factor. The first two movies of Anne of Green Gables are so good, even if they don’t follow the books exactly. They are able to stand on their own. Maybe Prince Caspian will be able to stand on it’s own too, if you aren’t expecting the book. …. Except for that silly, frustrating pop song at the end…. Groan.

Here is a link to a review that David kept talking about to me before and after the movie, from a Catholic reviewer at DecentFilms.

And if you like to twist your mind around something new, dealing with the Narian series, here is an article that has spurred conversation and debate between David and I.

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May 16, 2008

Celebrating Our Anniversary

Next week, in 6 days to be exact, is our 4th Anniversary. A wonderful 4 years it has been too! Not without it’s ups and downs, but a good, wonderful, healthy marriage.

Since David will be in California on that day, we are celebrating it today. Tonight we are taking the rare luxury of going out for supper together. We are going to Joe’s Restaurant. I was hoping for a pizza buffet somewhere, for old times sake (Pizza Ranch Buffet….. Yum!) but it doesn’t look like any pizza places in town do buffets.

After a yummy pizza dinner at Joe’s, David and I are going to the movies. That is also something we haven’t done much. I was about to say that we haven’t done since we moved to New York, but that isn’t true. We did see the movie Bella, and it was an excellent movie too! Tonight we are going to see Prince Caspian. I’m excited! Although no my favorite of the 7 books, I am looking forward to see it even so. David even bought us tickets already to be sure we would get in. What a wonderful husband!

And, this morning I took a liberty simply because it is our anniversary. I cut myself a small bouquet of lilac flowers from the bush next door. Thankfully no one lives there, so I wasn’t stealing them. It is very satisfying to have a small bouquet of spring flowers to brighten our little trailer.


I can’t wait for you to get home Handsome. Happy Anniversary!! ;-D

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May 15, 2008

In the few moments I haven’t been studying…

…I have had some chances to have fun with friends, particularly those from the Graduate Christian Fellowship Bible study that Rita and I attend. We’ve been studying Ezekiel this year, and, well, learned a lot of things and had questions about a lot of things. For the end of the year get-together, we made this video about certain possible misinterpretations of Ezekiel that might happen today. Pay attention to the Scripture references, and maybe you’ll find it funny. :-)

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

So now I need to get back to studying. I’ve finished my finals for the semester, but I have a qualifying exam on Monday, and then head to California immediately for a conference. Busy busy busy!

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May 11, 2008

Fiddleheads and Orioles

Today was a day full of surprises. Small ones mostly, but satisfying even so.

On the way home from church this morning, as we were driving up the road in the park to our trailer, we saw some funny flashes of orange colour close to the ditch in front of us. I said “Oh, Oh, Oh!” to David and he stopped the car so we could see what it was. They were kind enough to fly into the trees right beside the road so we could get a better look. It was a male and female Baltimore Oriole. My first since moving to New York. Seeing them was “Highly Satisfying.”

This evening David and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood and I heard a bird close by that I have been hearing a lot around our home. This time I was finally able to spot it! It was a Scarlet Tanager. Another bird I have only just glimpsed at once in my life. Another “Highly Satisfying” moment.

Then, while we were walking we came across a path in the woods that I thought might take us to the river. I had wanted to finish our walk by stopping at the river on the way home, so we took it.

Well, after almost an hour of walking we not only saw the river, but also a great source of fiddleheads (I had just asked the neighbours this week if they knew where to pick fiddleheads, too bad it was too late in the season to pick any), hills, trees, flowers, steep hills, deer, rocks and gullies and a lot of other fun stuff. Little did we know it, but just a short walk from our trailer there is a walking trail that rivals any State park trail! And we just more or less stumbled apon it.


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May 04, 2008

Visitors and Trips

David and I, maybe more I than David, have had an enjoyable past two months.

In March Jon, David’s brother, and his girlfriend, Eryn, came to visit for their spring break. I was able to have a lot of good girl time that I haven’t had in quite some time. Shopping, talking, and more shopping and talking :) I really enjoyed it. David and Jon got a bit of their computer time in too.


A week after they came my parents came for a few days after volunteering down south for the past month. They stopped by on their way up to Ontario to visit my sisters. We visited the Cornell Ornithology lab and learned a bit more about bird watching. Dad and I were particularly inspired. He bought a bird identification book, which happens to be the same one I have. Now we can compare notes easier.

Two weeks after my parents left for Ontario David and I also drove up to Ontario. We flew with my sisters, brother in law and one nephew, to New Brunswick for Dad’s 60th birthday. It was just for the weekend for everyone except me, I stayed a few extra days. There was a big fun party for Dad at the Holiday Inn in Mactaquac. He provided a bit of entertainment from some local comedians. And us kids all said a little piece too and put on a little skit. I’ll try to get a few photos up.


I was able to visit my Grammie a few times, as well as a few friends I haven’t talked to since David and I moved to the states. That was very enjoyable!

Interspersed in all of this, I’ve been helping out with the local Pregnancy center in it’s Abstinence program in high schools and middle schools. It has had it’s own awards, even though it has been very tiring and some what stressful. The abstinence message is not a very popular one in most schools around here.

David has been pressing on in his schooling. It’s been hard. He had two hard exams just before we left for Canada. Literally just before, I picked him up after his second exam and we drove to Canada from there. He still has a very busy month ahead too. A paper due tomorrow, which he is working on now. A contest at a conference in California in two weeks. His qualifying exam that might be the day he gets back from California, and regular exams before he leaves. We would appreciate prayers for sanity and perseverance for him.

As for me and what is happening this month, I’ll write more about it later, but in short I’m looking to do a bit of painting, gardening, carving and sewing. I’ve been hit with a creativity bug and can’t wait to get started!

That is what we have been up to in the past two months, and a little peak at what is happening for us in the next month. Lord willing life will slow down for the summer for David. He will be working on his research but won’t have to worry about classes.

We hope you are doing well! In Christ


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March 09, 2008

March 9, 2008

Sun Shine

Frozen Berries


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March 07, 2008


The news that a court ruled homeschooling unconstitutional utterly shocked me today.

The courts decision actually included the words, “parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.” What on earth? Forgive my outburst, but I hardly understand. How did the nation’s first children get educated? Doesn’t one suppose that most pioneer children were educated at home? (Please, let me know if that’s an incorrect assumption.) If the government insists on taking any and all responsibility for our children’s education, why don’t we let them take responsibility for some diapers and sleepless nights, too?

Ok, ok. To be fair, I understand at least a teeny-tiny bit. I’ve often said that people do not necessarily know what is best for themselves—and I think it is true. I realize, too, that there are many parents who really shouldn’t be home-schooling their children, for a variety of reasons. (Possibly including the parents originally involved in this case.) Finally, I can think of all sorts of children who I would rather not be homeschooled. Perhaps, for instance, the children of radical militants might well be better off if they were educated anywhere but at home. But that doesn’t change my opinion that I would far rather have a lesser educated society than to be force fed only the whims of the state!

Granted, the Court in this case is allegedly upholding a existing California law—a law that has been on the books for years, but not enforced. I guess I can give them credit for not legislating from the bench. But this law seems deeply misguided.

I hear echoes of Orwell. Or Huxley. Or Bradbury. Or Solzhenitsyn. Do you?

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March 06, 2008

Ithaca Weather

I feel I could have a daily blog just on Ithaca’s weather. Having lived here for just a few months, I think I’ve seen everything. Most days my blogs would be excited ones about how amazingly beautiful it is outside. At the same time I’ve wanted to write a lot of blogs about how disappointed I am in this winter weather. I thought we were supposed to be getting a lot of snow! We are in upstate New York after all. Don’t they get a lot of snow? Evidentially we are in the wrong part of the state for that.

Despite my complaint about the lack of snow, Ithaca weather is amazing. Well, it is for someone who loves all kinds of weather, especially the “bad” stuff. We’ve had drenching rains, glorious sunshine, peaceful snowfalls, high winds, gloomy clouds. Just about everything.

Today is a beautiful spring day. The rivers are melting, as well as the snow. Yesterday we had cold rain all morning. Two days before that we had a beautiful snowfall that transformed the sticks in the ground (trees) into a fairy land.

As disappointed as I am that we haven’t had many chances to go skiing or sliding because of lack of snow, I am glad we live in Ithaca. It really is amazingly beautiful!

Bebe lake

In Christ


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February 28, 2008

Helping the Homeless…with Technology?

I never would have expected slapping technology at the homeless would be helpful. In fact, when I first heard it, I expected that it would be a proposition that purported to help people by giving them technology when what they really needed was something like food. Or shelter. Or Jesus.

While those things may still be true, I’m impressed with Google’s plan to give homeless folks a free phone number with voice mail. (Kind of odd to find that news on MSN…but I digress.) As I said, I was at first rather skeptical. But then, as I read further, and realized that this was a tool that homeless folks could use to get a job (how do you schedule an interview if you can’t be reached) or keep in touch with their family, I was impressed. I am all for giving people tools that they can use to try make their lives work. No, it doesn’t solve all their problems. But it might help some…and I think that’s worth it.

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February 26, 2008

Our Trailer

I was just going through some photos we have and realized that we have a pretty nice one of the out side of our trailer. Then I thought that if I add this picture to the floor plan I posted earlier, you can have a better idea of what our home looks like. The kitchen is in the front. Enjoy!


In Christ,


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February 25, 2008


Inma makes me laugh out loud!

It is not often that a person makes me want to laugh out loud. Especially in Starbucks full of other people.

Inma is from Spain. Young, beautiful, full of life. She is learning English and hopes to be fluent before she goes back to Spain. The best part is, while she is talking, she uses a lot of gestures to fill in the missing words. She doesn’t hesitate to make a face to describe an emotion, or use her hands to better explain a story, or even to use sound effects to make her meanings clear.

The first week I sat and watched her as she used gestures, facial expressions and sound effects to tell her stories, and I wondered if it was just because she was looking for ways to explain her meanings that she was so dynamic.

The second week I asked myself why I don’t use these methods more in my daily talk to make a story more vibrant. I even tried a sound effect or two, but felt a little silly and thought I would just leave them to her.

I am realizing that although a lot of why Inma uses so many methods of getting her meanings across might be because she is still learning English, it’s more than that too.

She is bold. I am not. She likes to step out and talk English, even if she doesn’t know it well. I hesitate to do what I don’t know because I am afraid I will get it wrong and people might laugh. She wants to be understood and will do what it takes to make her meaning clear. I’d rather not even try.

I am not so bold, but when I am with Inma, I find that I am not thinking about myself or what other people think of us, and I find myself laughing out loud.

A good, loud, deep down laugh.

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February 23, 2008

A Long Overdue Post

I know that my writing here is long overdue. And, unfortunately, this post won’t satisfy most of you. I could write all sorts of things about our life in Ithaca and at Cornell since we moved here months ago—but, I hope it will at least appease some if I say that we really love it here. School has been great, though very busy, and we really love living in Ithaca. It’s a new experience: it is a pretty safe assumption that most folks here aren’t Christians, and, interestingly for me, no one assumes that I’m a Christian, either. It seems to bring new meaning to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)

Oh. I probably should add that I have found an advisor and a thesis project. I’ll be working with Dr. Hod Lipson at the Cornell Computational Synthesis Laboratory. I’m really finding that I think God put me here for a reason. Not only is it a melding of computers and mechanical engineering that is surprisingly enjoyable to me, but I am realizing that there are a whole slew of ethical and philosophical issues attached to working with robotics. In particular, how human-like can robots become? How can I explain my point of view as a Christian in ways that everyone else understands? How can I design robots that help humans use their God-given abilities more effectively rather than stunting them? Anyhow, I’ll have to write more about my future work some other time.

What I really started out to write was on a completely different topic. Perhaps you realized that since this post is in the Public Policy category. (But I bet most of you didn’t!)

Though I am registered as a Republican, I don’t attach a great deal of allegiance to that party. I am a Christian, first and foremost—and following Christ defines how I make my political decisions. Though I do believe that conservative policies (in the sense of small government and fewer laws, generally speaking—and, yes, I know, Republicans aren’t ideal here) are best, and that such beliefs are consistent with my faith, I am perfectly content accepting brothers and sisters in Christ with other viewpoints on the topic. In many ways, it is such disagreement that makes Christian fellowship truly a beautiful thing. In fact, to some degree, I think it is the sense of disagreement—but ability to compromise appropriately—that has help our nation prosper so greatly.

That said, I’ve been paying closer attention to politics this year than most. Perhaps, it is inevitable with the huge amount of publicity that the primaries are receiving. More probably, it is Rita’s fault, as she listens to talk radio often during the day. Today, though, I ran across a blog post which states better than I ever could my concerns about Barack Obama becoming president. Frankly, I do expect him to win. But I don’t trust him. I would far rather have an atheist or even a moderate Muslim as president than a man who claims Christ very openly but does not seem to acknowledge His teachings in some very critical areas (in particular, I think of an excerpt from his book—particularly the last paragraph. I hope and pray that I am wrong—and I guess only time will tell.

Fortunately, we serve a mighty God who is in control of all things—even when they don’t match our ideas of what He should be doing.

Anyhow, I need to get back to the work that I am supposed to be doing. I hope and pray all y’all are doing well!

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February 20, 2008

Our Home

I have been asked if I’ve posted any photos of our trailer yet. I haven’t. Quite frankly, unless you like seeing a lot of dark brown panelling, there is not a lot to see.

Ok, that isn’t strictly true. We have a nice white kitchen with red curtains. My work room is a nice cream colour, and the hallway is a beautiful bright yellow. Only the living room and the guest room are still brown panelling. Our dining room is half wallpaper and half panelling. Our bathroom has been covered by a nice wall covering that looks like tiles. And our bedroom is an ivory colour.

Unfortunately many of these walls do now allow for all my bright accents to shine, so I haven’t taken many pictures.

Instead, I thought you might enjoy seeing a layout of our trailer. Then you can still get an idea of what our home looks like.

Floor Plan

Also, as we are able to do some painting, as we did with the hallway, I’ll post a few before and after photos :)

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February 18, 2008

Happy Valentine’s Day!

(I know it is a few days late, but since it has been such a long time since I have written, I wanted to write an update first to let everyone know how we are doing. Now I want to tell you about my wonderful husband. :-D)

Every year for Valentine’s day I ask David what he wants to do. (Just a reminder that Valentine’s day is coming. He could surprise me with something if he would like to. I don’t mind.) I ask because I want to know what is expected of us on that day. Maybe we (or I, since David doesn’t care either way) don’t feel like celebrating this year, maybe we (I) do. I’d like to know for sure, and tell David my thoughts.

This year I wanted to celebrate. It has been a very busy year for us. We have tried to make time for dating, etc, but it has been less of a priority. We also haven’t been spending the same amount of money as we did in Iowa to get each other gifts or to eat out just for fun. This year, I wanted to celebrate Valentine’s day.

I told David that I would like a surprise this year, one that costs a little money. They have been rare of late. I was even kind enough to tell him what I would like to have, and where he could get it, so he wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time trying to think of something. (I’m a considerate wife.)

When David came home Thursday evening for supper, he knew I had been baking, he could smell it as soon as he opened the door. I made him chocolate chip cookies. His favorite.

David was sad that he didn’t have anything for me. The gift he was trying to get for me hadn’t arrived yet and he didn’t have time to think about doing anything else to surprise me. I didn’t mind, I knew he already ordered my gift, but as he was quite sad about it, I asked him to make me supper while I finished the cookies.

I left him to his work and went about my own until we sat down for supper. Lo and behold! This was my supper!!

Valentine's Pizza

David is not typically one to think of little things like decorating a pizza with hearts to let me know he loves me. I was completely surprised!

Thank you David, for loving me and wanting to make me feel special! I love you too! (You are the BEST!)

In Christ,


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February 16, 2008

Jar Of Wood

I am proud to announce that my new spoon website is up and running!! Please go to Jar of Wood to see the spoons I have been working on. I have a page of spoons that are ready for sale, as well as a few pages of photos of other spoons I have made. I’d love for you to check it out and tell me what you think.

Jar Of Wood

Just a note, we are working on getting Paypal added to it to make easier ordering. The web site is not quite complete, but I am glad to have it up to show off it’s colours. Didn’t David do a good job?! Merry Christmas and Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

In Christ,


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Welcome to 2008!

David and Rita in Windmill Yes, yes, It has been 2008 for over a month already, but as I was sick in bed when the new year rolled around, I would like to welcome it now. I think that this year promises to be a good one.

“Why?” you ask. Well, let me tell you.

First, I must say that God is Good. Last semester was a hard one, but God held us and lead us through it all. God has given us peace despite the challenges we had.

Secondly, David is enjoying school. He loves his lab and his research project. He is enjoying classes and although they make him busy, he has not been stressed like he was last semester. That makes us both happy! :)

Thirdly, I am working constantly and steadily on making spoons. Before the new year I had been working on my carving, but not very consistently as I was hoping to get an outside job. Now I have a goal of carving 4 spoons a week, which takes me at least 4 full days of work to complete. I throughly enjoy my time carving, and I am glad for the excuse to spend so much time doing it.

I did some counting and discovered that I made about 49 spoons in 2007. So far this year I have done 14 and have three waiting for the last steps of completion. It’s not quite reaching my 4 spoons a week, but close. I also received two new orders in the past two weeks, which is encouraging to me.

So, why do I think 2008 will be a good year? David loves his work, I love mine, and when a person is able to love what they spend most of their time on in life, it is a good thing. Also, we have assurance that God is with us and is blessing our endeavors. It was He who has brought us here, and when we are where He wants us to be, it is good.

So, here is to a good year! May God continue to bless it as He has. David and I wish you His blessings also.

In Christ


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