ordinary… mostly

"We have nothing to offer each other, except a haven." — K. Nafziger



Ornaments of joy

You may have your color-coordinated Christmas tree with classy ornaments. Not us. These are our favorites…

Continue reading “Ornaments of joy”


I love Christmas in Mountain Maryland

Here are some fine people enjoying the holidays in Mountain Maryland. (Especially check out that large, festive group at the end! There seems to be some family resemblance.) Maybe it’s time I get there, as well!

(For those of you wondering, that was filmed in Cumberland on Thanksgiving weekend. My family and my sister’s family gathered at my parents’ house. Alas, I was working and had to stay at Laurelville. But I’ll driving to Mountain Maryland soon!)

A child of the poor

Who is this who lives with the lowly,
Sharing their sorrows,
Knowing their hunger?
This is Christ, revealed to the world
In the eyes of a child, a child of the poor.

“Child of the Poor” by Scott Soper

A light

Date night!

The Ordinary Family has just returned from an evening out and about. The girls went to the home of a family friend where they learned how to make gingerbread houses out of sugar cubes.

(I suppose those houses no longer qualify as “gingerbread”, but you get the idea. You can imagine how wired they were when we picked them up, having spent a whole evening building things with candy.)

Meanwhile, Ordinary Spouse and I relished this blessing of together time and drove to a nearby Panera for coffee and cards. We played Five Crowns.

Five Crowns

Five Crowns is a rummy-like game where the low score wins. Let’s take a look at that score sheet, shall we?

Score sheet

There are a total of eleven rounds, with three to thirteen cards dealt, depending on the round.

And the final score? I believe I see it there at the bottom…

Final score

Yep – your eyes do not deceive you. Three for me. One hundred forty-two for Ordinary Spouse. It was pretty much a blowout. My fingers get tired just typing her score.

Now… you may recall that Ordinary Spouse awards herself trophies when she wins. (If you haven’t seen these examples, you really should take a look.) And since I had such a resounding win this evening, I thought maybe I’d get a nice trophy. But, no – she drew me that tiny star at the bottom of the score sheet. I had to squint (or use the zoom on my camera) just to see it.

My trophy

But because she is in the Christmas spirit, she added a hook so I could “hang it on the Christmas tree.”

I love you, too. ūüôā

This week in and out of the forest… 28 November 2012

We are deep into fall and moving rapidly toward winter. The weather seems to have settled into a routine of chilly temperatures and partly cloudy skies:

Five-day forecast, November 28, 2012

The moon is full at night, which makes for some compelling long-exposure images (even with an old, relatively cheap camera):

The sky at night

Outside, the animals are busy preparing for winter. Middle Daughter managed to take these great pictures of one of our close neighbors…

(You’ll note the snow in these pictures. Although we don’t have any snow as I write, the sight of flurries has now become common.)

Neighbor mouse

May I come into your house?
I’m sorry little mouse, but we’ll kindly ask that you not come into our house. You wouldn’t like the cats anyway.

Mice aren’t the only animals who find human buildings attractive…

Carolina wren
Image by Ken Thomas

On Monday, we had a pair of Carolina wrens in one of the Laurelville buildings. I have no idea how they came in, but Oldest and Middle Daughters joined me in freeing them. If you care to learn how we got them out, Oldest Daughter has described the process on her blog.

I suppose I can’t blame the animals for wanting to come inside. After all, everything is becoming festive!

Our Christmas Tree

We decorated the tree Monday evening, and tradition dictated that we enjoy chocolate pudding cake when we finished!

Youngest Daughter has now slept under the tree for the last two nights, and Middle Daughter joined her on the second. Their sleeping bags are still on the living room floor, so I’m guessing that they’ll be there again tonight.

Ah – the holiday spirit!

Cambodia, part 13a – Thanksgiving, Advent, and Christmas: my pre-Cambodia thoughts

(or “Jesus is coming: What do we expect?“)

I’d like to frame this part of the story of my family’s trip to Cambodia by introducing (belatedly!) Christine Sine’s invitation to other bloggers to join her in some Advent and Christmas reflections.¬†I’ve been following Christine’s blog, Godspace, for a while, and I was intrigued in early November when she proposed a “synchroblog”. There would be two questions for everyone to consider:

  1. On November 23rd: Jesus is coming: What do we expect?
  2. On December 28th: Jesus came: Did we get what we expected?

I say “I was intrigued”, but as it turns out, I was also too busy getting ready for the trip to participate in the blogging part of the exercise. However, the question of expectations stuck with me all throughout our trip preparations. My thoughts (mostly without actual answers to the questions) went something like this…

What do I expect? I really have no idea. I’m about to immerse my family in a foreign culture at the beginning of Advent. The season will be stripped of all of its cultural baggage that it carries here in the United States. We will see both poverty and riches. There will be many things that my children can’t fathom right now – things that they’ve never been exposed to before. There will be things that I only begin to imagine. How will they respond? How will I respond? I have no idea, but I’m looking forward to the trip…

A few days later, with the question still bouncing around my brain, I read CNN’s story on Wal-Mart’s Black Friday Deals:

They may as well call it Black Thursday. Joining a slew of other national retailers, Wal-Mart said it too will open its doors nationwide on Thanksgiving night.

Not to be one-upped by Target, which recently announced it would open at midnight on Black Friday, Wal-Mart said it will kick off its Black Friday deals at 10 p.m. on Thursday.

“Our customers told us they would rather stay up late to shop than get up early, so we’re going to hold special events on Thanksgiving and Black Friday,” Duncan Mac Naughton, Wal-Mart’s chief merchandising officer, U.S., said in a statement.

You could follow my link to read the rest of the story. You may not want to. My reflections on Christine’s original question continued…

What do I expect? I’m still not sure, but it’s got to be better than this. The Black Friday shopping tradition in the United States has always left a bitter taste in my mouth. For one thing, it glorifies our already out-of-control consumption. For another, we ignore Advent. We skip past the season of preparation. Shucks – we even skip past Christmas. We go right to the part we like: the gift giving of Epiphany. And we conveniently ignore the part that comes afterward: the flight to Egypt and the killing of the young and innocent in order to maintain power.

And now, we’re just going to rush through Thanksgiving as well. Why don’t all these retailers just stay open all day Thanksgiving? Wouldn’t that be so much more convenient for all of us? A four-day shopping weekend to kick-off a whole month of consumption?

I am so glad that I will not be in the country when all of this is happening.

And all of that was in my mind when I had this thought a few days later…

What if it’s satire – this early store opening on Thanksgiving that Wal-Mart is doing? What if they’re actually being prophetic? What if their intent is to so exaggerate this Black Friday thing that it becomes a mirror that we hold up to ourselves to see our own selfish greed – our need to consume more and more and more. And what if we’ve all missed the satire?!


Anyway – those were the thoughts that I carried with me to Cambodia.

Up next: Thanksgiving in Cambodia

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