surnames, oh how they interest me

He knows my name
I recently finished a book called Pillars of the Earth, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The story transpires during the Middle Ages in England. One of the fascinating things about the book was watching names evolve. Common sense explains a lot of our surnames, but until this book, I'd never given it much thought. As I read I was fascinated time and time again with the development of surnames.

Back when there were fewer people, they described a person by where he lived or his work or something else, and gradually dropped the in-between words.

John the cook. John Cook

John the bishop. John Bishop

John the fisherman. John Fisher

John the shepherd. John Shepherd

John the weaver. John Weaver

John who reads. John Reader

John who is strong. John Armstrong

John by the hill. John Hill

John the cart driver. John Carter

John the wagon driver. John Waggoner / Wagner

John who runs the mill. John Miller

John who turns the wool to felt, a process known as fulling. John Fuller

John the son of Jack. John Jackson

John who lives by the forest. John Forest

John who lives in the woods. John Woods

John the tailor. John Taylor

John the jack-of-all-trades (a wright). John Wright

John who works on boats. John Boatwright

John who works on carts. John Cartwright

John the blacksmith. John Smith

John the foreman. John Foreman

John the baker. John Baker

John the knight. John Knight

I finished that book several weeks ago and I'm still analyzing names. Something about it captured me. Does this fascinate anyone else?

money trivia


I read these little statistics on Get Rich Slowly and found them mildly fascinating. I am soooo not normal. If I ever have $104 in my purse, something is up, like I'm travelling or about to make a "cash only" purchase. Here are some stats:

96% of women carry a purse or a wallet. (I'm normal).

61% of men carry a wallet, while 6% use a money clip, and about 20% carry cash loose in pockets. (Gordon's normal, so are most of the men I know).

The average purse or wallet contains about $104. (I'm so not average).

13% of American adults use a piggy bank, while 28% collect change in a jar.(What? Only 13% have a piggy bank? I have a lovely pink piggy bank and it stays pretty well stocked with coins. That's how I pay for all my little things. Since only 13% have piggy banks, I guess I'm not normal in this department either).

Just over 15% of Americans keep a serious stash of cash around the house — about half of these hide it, while the other half keeps it someplace obvious. (Occasionally, I will have a stash hidden, but my idea of a stash is 20 or 40 bucks. Ha).

Another third of the population keeps a small amount of cash on hand for emergencies. (That's Gordon's job, not mine :).

More than half of us don’t keep any extra cash in the house at all. (Finally, I'm normal).



baby nadia


Sometimes the news is remarkable and oh, so sweet. Take this newborn in Russia. She is the 12th baby born to her mother. Her name is Nadia and her birth weight was 17.1 pounds. Hokey Dina. Amazing.

the new seven wonders

Years ago in Junior High, I did an essay on the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. I think I still have it. Bozo-brain teacher gave me a B-. It was easily an A. Anyway, the "wonders" of the world have always intrigued me.

Last year I learned there is another list being compiled. This list is the New Seven Wonders of the World. I quickly cast my votes and encouraged all my family members to do likewise. I thought it was a cool way to influence history.

Well, today they released the winners of the New Seven Wonders contest. Of course these don't replace the ancient seven wonders, the are merely newer.

There were 21 contenders for the prize. I'm mildly disappointed by some of the results. As you'll see, only three of my choices made the cut.

The contest has been in the making for at least six years and received millions and millions of voters.

The winners are: (imagine the drum roll here)

• The Great Wall of China (I voted for this one) 
Great wall

• Petra in Jordan

• Brazil's statue of Christ the Redeemer

Christ the redeemer

• Peru's Machu Picchu (I voted for this one)


• Mexico's Chichen Itza pyramid


• The Colosseum in Rome (I voted for this one)


• India's Taj Mahal


When I voted, I easily chose my first five, but I struggled with the last two. I did some reading as it was an important decision for me. My seventh choice was difficult, and unfortunately I don't remember what I finally decided on. In all honesty, my seventh vote could have been anything as they were all equally impressive, but none stood out like my first six.

I voted for:

The Great Wall of China
The Colosseum in Rome

The Acropolis in Athens


The Pyramids in Egypt


Stonehedge in England


Machu Picchu in Peru

I don't remember what my #7 was.

These should have won, but I'm going to be a good sport about this.

you deserve to know

I copied this directly, I am only reporting what I read.

"Boogers are mucus (myoo-kuss). Mucus is the thin, slippery material that is found inside your nose. Many people call mucus snot. Your nose makes nearly a cupful of snot every day. Snot is produced by the mucous membranes in the nose, which it moistens and protects.

When you inhale air through your nose, it contains lots of tiny particles, like dust, dirt, germs, and pollen. If these particles made it all the way to the lungs, the lungs could get damaged and it would be difficult to breathe. Snot works by trapping the particles and keeping them in the nose.

After these particles get stuck inside the nose, the mucus surrounds them along with some of the tiny hairs inside the nose called cilia. The mucus dries around the particles. When the particles and dried-out mucus clump together, you're left with a booger!

Boogers can be squishy and slimy or tough and crumbly. In fact, boogers are a sign that your nose is working properly."

I hope you enjoyed that.

last words

This is the last of earth! I am content.
~ John Quincy Adams, US President, d. February 21, 1848

See in what peace a Christian can die.
~ Joseph Addison, writer, d. June 17, 1719

Is it not meningitis?
~ Louisa M. Alcott, writer, d. 1888

Oh, I am not going to die, am I? He will not separate us, we have been so happy.
Spoken to her husband of nine months, Rev. Arthur Nicholls.
~ Charlotte Bronte, writer, d. March 31, 1855

I'm bored with it all.
Before slipping into a coma. He died 9 days later.
~ Winston Churchill, statesman, d. January 24, 1965

Now, oh Lord, set Thy servant free.
~ Nickolaus Copernicus, astronomer, d 1543

Trust in God and you need not fear.
~ Jonathan Edwards, theologian, d. 1758

Never heed! The Lord's power is over all weakness and death.
~ George Fox, founder of the Quakers, d. 1691

Come my little one, and give me your hand.
Spoken to his daughter, Ottilie.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, writer, d. March 22, 1832

I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark.
~ Thomas Hobbes, writer, d. 1679

Farewell, my children, forever. I am going to your father.
~ Marie Antoinette, queen of France, d. 1793

My soul I resign to God, my body to the earth, my worldly goods to my next of kin.
~ Michelangelo, artist, d. 1564

Lord, help my poor soul.
~ Edgar Allan Poe, writer, d. October 7, 1849

I love you Sarah. For all eternity, I love you.
Spoken to his wife.
~ James K. Polk, US President, d. 1849

Here am I, dying of a hundred good symptoms.
~ Alexander Pope, writer, d. May 30, 1744

It matters little how the head lies, so the heart be right.
~ Walter Raleigh, professor, d. 1618

Lord open the eyes of the King of England.
~ William Tyndale, reformer and scholar, d. 1536

Life, life! Death, death! How curious it is!
~ Daniel Webster, statesman, d. 1852

Go away. I'm all right.
~ H. G. Wells, novelist, d. 1946

Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.
~ Oscar Wilde, writer, d. November 30, 1900

The machinery is just worn out. I am ready.
~ Woodrow Wilson, US President, d. 1924



I like trivia. These are some of the latest things I've learned. I hope they're all true as I hate it when someone corrects me.

Honey is the only food that does not spoil. Honey found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs has been tasted by archaeologists and found edible.

Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature.

Ohio is the only US state without a rectangular flag. Ohio's flag is a pennant.

Swans are the only birds with penises. (Don't ask me. I don't get it either.)

Teeth are the only parts of the human body that can't repair themselves.

The first graves in Arlington National Cemetery were dug by James Parks, a former Arlington Estate slave. He is the only person buried in Arlington National Cemetery who was also born on the property.

The only active diamond mine in the United States is in Arkansas.

The only river that flows both north and south of the equator is the Congo. It crosses the equator twice.

The only wood used by famed London cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale was mahogany.

According to the Kinsey Institute, the biggest erect penis on record measures 13 inches. The smallest tops off at 1 3/4 inches.

An average person uses the bathroom six times per day.

In 1945 a computer at Harvard malfunctioned and Grace Hopper, who was working on the computer, investigated, found a moth in one of the circuits and removed it. Ever since, when something goes wrong with a computer, it is said to have a bug.

Midgets and dwarfs almost always have normal-sized children, even if both parents are midgets or dwarfs.

Offered a new pen to write with, 97% of all people will write their own name. 


A - Animals. I love them.
B - Bran Flakes, my new vice.
C - My maiden initial
D - Dogs, Lucy and Bear
E - Elaine, a friend I had lunch with
F - Forsythias, I miss forsythias.
G - Gordo, my Babo. I appreciate him.
H - Heaven, won't that be nice!
I - Indifferent, my emotion of late
J - Johnny Cash, he's been on my mind.
K - Kathleen is Hannah's middle name. When she was 6 weeks old we met a vicious Kathleen and Gordon hasn't liked the name since.
L - Lacy our cat, may she rest in peace.
M - Mena, my home town
N - New medicines, I'm sleeping too much because of them.
O - Orangutan, I have got a good orangutan story but I'm too embarrassed to tell it.
P - Paint, what color shall we paint the living room?
Q - Quilts, I love quilts.
R - Rivalry, two of my girls are really into it.
S - Sewing. I cut out a camo skirt for Rachael today.
T - Trust in the Lord Valerie. Trust in the Lord.
U - Unmotivated, I'm looking forward to it passing.
V - Vegetable Stew, it's for supper.
W - Weary, I feel a little weary.
X - Xcess weight? Nuh, uh. Not here!
Y - Youth Group, "Amazing Race" was Friday
Z - Zimbabwe. I saw an East Indian doctor last week and he asked if I was from Zimbabwe. 

traffic circle

Rachael and Deborah had orthodontist appointments this morning. I chose a sunny window to sit and think profound thoughts. The profound thoughts eluded me, but I enjoyed a reminder of the past.

From the forth floor window, I looked down at the traffic circle below. I'd never looked down on the dreaded traffic circle.

Before moving here, I'd never encountered a traffic circle. I have friends who will drive blocks out of their way to avoid a round-a-bout. I joke that when I'm driving through a traffic circle, I close my eyes, accelerate, and hope for the best.

This morning as I looked down on the traffic circle, I remembered one of my earliest traffic circle experiences. I was taking my foster daughter, Angel, to the dentist; a dentist in this same complex.

I approached the traffic circle with significant trepidation. Gordon had prepped me on traffic circle protocol; the inside lane always has the right of way. This detail still baffles me. Obeying directions, I chose the inside lane. I kept driving around the traffic circle like it was an automobile merry-go-round. The third time past her dentist's office, 8-year-old Angel astutely asked, "What are you doing?"

I answered, "I'm trying to figure out how to get out of this traffic circle alive."

Traffic circle Notice how the yellow lane can pull in front of the red lane. This is the part that gets me.

The idea behind a traffic circle, is to keep traffic flowing. There are no stop signs or traffic lights. Four or five roads intersect and everyone keeps going. The outside lane yields to the inside lane.
People say it makes perfect sense and stuff like that. I guess maybe there is some merit to that, but I've seen many "near misses."


As usual, I'm not guaranteeing accuracy, but here's some interesting trivia.

The word "listen" contains the same letters as the word "silent".

"Almost" is the longest word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.

55% of people yawn within five minutes of seeing someone else yawn. Reading about yawning makes most people yawn. Did you yawn when you read that?

The term "devil's advocate" comes from the Roman Catholic Church. When deciding if someone should be sainted, a devil's advocate is always appointed to give an alternative view.

The word 'news' did not come about because it was the plural of 'new.' It came from the first letters of the words North, East, West and South. This was because information was being gathered from all different directions.

Alma mater means bountiful mother.

The most common name in the world is Mohammad.

The term, "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye" is from Ancient Rome. The only rule during wrestling matches was, "No eye gouging." Everything else was allowed, but the only way to be disqualified was to poke someone's eye out.

The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.

Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

A survey of people's greatest fears had the following results: a.) Heights, b.) Snakes, c.) Spiders, d.) Public speaking.

Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of where they grew up.

hairy heartburn


A Johns Hopkins University study found a correlation between babies born with lots of hair and their mothers having heartburn while they were pregnant. Evidently, a hormone that relaxes the bottom of the esophagus - thereby causing heartburn - is also influential in fetal hair growth.

I love snippets of information like this.

My heartburn pregnancy was Stephanie. She had a good amount of hair.

just trivia

I read this trivia today. I won't vouch for its accuracy.
- "Stewardesses" is the longest word typed with only the left hand and "lollipop" with the right.
- Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.
- No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.
- "Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".
- Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.
- The sentence: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter of the alphabet.
- The words 'racecar,' 'kayak' and 'level' are spelled the same whether they are read left to right or right to left. They are called palindromes.
- There are only four words in the English language which end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
- There are two words in the English language that have all five vowels in order: "abstemious" and "facetious."
- TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the typewriter keyboard.
- All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill.
- A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.
- A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
- A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.
- A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.
- A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.
- A snail can sleep for three years.
- Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.
- Almonds are a member of the peach family.
- An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.
- February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.
- In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.
- If the population of China walked past you, 8 abreast, the line would never end because of the China birthrate.
- If you are an average American, in your whole life, you will spend an average of six months in your car waiting at red lights.
- Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.
- Peanuts are one of the ingredients of Dynamite.
- Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
- The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.
- The cruise liner, QE2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.
- The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.
- The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.
- There are more chickens than people in the world.
- Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.
- Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

why is it?

Have you ever noticed these things in the movies?

--All grocery shopping bags contain at least one stick of French bread.
--It's easy for anyone to land a plane, providing there is someone in the control tower to talk you down.
--The ventilation system of any building is a perfect hiding place. No one will ever think of looking for you in there and you can travel to any other part of the building without difficulty.
--The Eiffel Tower can be seen from any window of any building in Paris.
--People on TV never finish their drinks.
--A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds.
--During all police investigations, it will be necessary to visit a strip club at least once.
--Mothers routinely cook eggs, bacon and waffles for their family every morning, even though the husband and children never have time to eat them.
--Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant.
--Even when driving down a perfectly straight road, it is necessary to turn the steering wheel vigorously from left to right every few moments.
--If a phone line is broken, communication can be restored by frantically beating the cradle and saying, "Hello?, Hello?"
--Most people keep a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings - especially if any of their family or friends has died in a strange boating accident.
--During a very emotional confrontation, instead of facing the person you are speaking to, it is customary to stand behind them and talk to their back.
--Dogs always know who's bad and will naturally bark at them.
--If there is a deranged killer on the loose, this will coincide with a thunderstorm that has brought down all the power and phone lines in the vicinity.
--It is always possible to park directly outside the building you are visiting.
--Guns are like disposable razors - if you run out of bullets, just throw the gun away. You can always buy a new one.
--A detective can only solve a case once he has been suspended from duty.

in the news

Interesting things that grabbed me from the paper today:

-- By 2024 NASA plans to have a base on the moon. Yes, a place where astronauts will live. Now that is way out there.... The things that are possible. Wow.

-- Queen Elizabeth's English is changing. Since becoming queen in the 1950's many of her speeches are on film. AND there are people who analyze the Queen's speech patterns (and make money from it, no less). These "researchers" can prove that her speech has changed. In the past she would have said "citae" or "dutae." Now she says city or duty. I wonder if she is watching too much American TV.

-- In Johannesburg South Africa, a prisoner Vaselined himself up really slick-like and escaped out a prison window between bars. He was apprehended later. Imagine that, sliding between prison bars.

-- I am a minority. Over 80% of married mothers are in charge of the family finances. I find that fascinating. I'm very happy to NOT carry that responsibility.

for kicks

 (Me, 1991)

 This is fun. It's a name the first thing to cross your mind sort of thing.
Valerie 19911. Yourself: fun and simple
2. Your partner: upright
3. Your hair: frumpy
4. Your mother: warm
5. Your father: private
6. Your favorite item: prayer/writing journal
7. Your dream last night: Oh it was not a good one. I was infected by a disease by a doctor from my hometown. However he wasn't the villain. This horrible lady (she was sort of like Cruella DeVille), kept hunting me down and giving me electric shocks. Poor Dr. Stephens was getting the shock treatment too. I've tried all day to analyze this dream, all to no avail.
8. Your favorite drink: Coffee in the morning, water thereafter
9. Your dream car: perhaps a Honda Odyssey; I don't dream much about cars.
10. The room you are in: bedroom
11. Your ex: Kent
(This is me as a bride at 18 marrying the Kent, 1984)
12. Your fear: getting fatter and fatter
13. What you want to be in 10 years: a mother who is extremely thankful that her children turned out well and are lovers of God
14. Who you hung out with last night: my kids; after they were in bed, I worked a sudoku, then read
15. What you're not: thin
16. Muffins: coffee cake
17: One of your wish list items: I had to think here. I pretty much have everything I want, but refinishing our hardwood floors comes to mind after a few moments of thinking.
18: Time: "Teach me to number my days so I may gain a heart of wisdom."
19. The last thing you did: washed dishes
20. What you are wearing: sweatpants and a t-shirt
21. Your favorite weather: fall; crisp and beautiful,
22. Your favorite book: Bible
23. The last thing you ate: homemade cream of broccoli, potato, and cheese soup
24. Your life: content
25. Your mood: feisty
26. Your best friend: Stacie, Diane, Shelly, Debbie
27. What you're thinking about right now: Stacie


Villager 28. Your car: Villager Van
29. What you are doing at the moment: typing
30. Your summer: kind of a downer
31. Your relationship status: committed and married
32. What is on your TV: perhaps a remote control, perhaps nothing
33. What is the weather like: snowing, presently there's about 2 feet; it's not too cold though and, for that, I'm happy.
34. When was the last time you laughed: 15 minutes ago

back from arkansas

Rachael, Hannah, and I are home from Arkansas. We went for US Thanksgiving. There wasn't enough moola to go around for Deborah and Daddy, so Deborah offered, yes, she really volunteered, to stay behind. She was totally into the idea of having her daddy all to herself. It was pretty precious. In my ideal world, Gordon and Deborah would have been with us. But it worked out very well. They had a good time in Edmonton while the other girls and I had a good time in Arkansas.

The weather in Arkansas was thrilling and invigorating. It was around 60 degrees. My brother and I stay pretty warm. He said Mama's living room was auditioning for hell, which explained why it was so hot. I found myself a couple of times in shorts and a t-shirt, lying on Mama's front lawn, looking up at the sky enjoying the weather I grew up in.
(Hannah in backyard snow fort)

Hannah in snow fortMeanwhile in Edmonton, my beloved husband and youngest daughter were valiantly carrying on as usual, but in unusually cold weather. Evidently the mercury dropped to its lowest in weather-recording-history for the month of November. That would be -27 with a wind chill of -33 degrees Celsius. (I think that translates around -20 Fahrenheit.) 

Imagine the shock to our systems when we arrived to Edmonton's chilly temperatures. It took my breath away. Lucky for us, a heat wave rode in last night and now it's just -17 and forecasted to keep climbing this week. I'm glad. By the end of the week, -10 will feel near balmy.

My aunt chides me when I talk weather. "There are innumerable stimulating topics to be discussed. Let's not waste our time on the weather," she'll say. So with the reminder of how boring some find weather to be, I shall shut my trap about it. But it's cold here and I wanted you folk to know it.

I love going to Arkansas. Coming home is nice too, even if my dogs' pee freezes mid-stream.

you probably don't know...

Some things about me that you may not know (probably don't know) and that may raise lots of questions in your mind. I am a very nice person and my background isn't as shady as these things may suggest. Be amused.
-I've had seven surgeries. Not bad for a healthy person, eh?
-I had a warrant out for my arrest in Wyoming.
-I have been threatened with jail two times; once in my hometown, once in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
-I smuggled Bibles into Vietnam and China.
(Me in Vietnam, 1991)047_47
-Oh yeah, I was threatened with jail in China too. The officer was carrying an AK47. I got caught smuggling Bibles.
-I've thrown-up in many public places and not always in a bathroom.
-The muscle that controls throw-up doesn't work on me.
-The most scared I've ever been was when Stephanie nearly drown when she was four or five. I didn't sleep for two nights, reliving it and thinking "what if."
-I miscarried a baby at 12 weeks.
-US Customs always treats me like a criminal.
-I've been threatened with deportation by both my countries.
-I've been quoted in an porn magazine. My quote was not pornographic.

i love fall

Things I love about fall:

1) the colors
2) the smell of decomposing matter
3) crisp mornings
4) bringing out the flannel pajamas
5) back to school
6) apple pies
7) fresh vegetables
8) fall decor; pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn
9) the crunch of leaves
10) shorter days
11) candy corn
12) warmer clothes
13) the return of soups and chili

the boll weevil

In 1915 the Mexican boll weevil invaded Alabama destroying 60% of the cotton crop of southeast Alabama. Farmers faced financial ruin and the community economy was at stake.

Desperate for a crop that would withstand the boll weevil, farmers turned to peanuts and were rewarded with unexpected prosperity.

The citizens recognized what at first appeared as tragedy, the destruction of their cotton crops, was instead the best thing possible for their economy. In gratitude they erected a monument to the boll weevil. In Enterprise, Alabama the monument still stands and its inscription reads: "In profound appreciation of the boll weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity..."

When I read the story of the boll weevil monument, I was reminded of two things. 1) All things are working together for my good, and 2) what is intended to harm me, God will use for good. (Romans 8:28 and Genesis 50:20)

"We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Romans 8:28

"God works in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform." William Cowper

"God works in a mischievous way, our blunders to reform!" David Seamands' father

David Seamands says that out of our biggest tragedies come the brightest triumphs! I believe it and I love it.

teddy roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt loved to sing. He was a very good singer with a deep voice.
One day he told his friends how he looked forward to heaven because he imagined a great choir there. "There will be 10,000 sopranos, 10,000 altos, and 10,000 tenors. It's going to be tremendous," he told them.

"But Mr. President," someone asked, "what about the basses?"

He replied with a smile, "I'm going to sing bass!"

100 things i love

summer rain
cotton dresses
comfortable shoes
living simple
country kitchens
hardwood floors
willow furniture
recycling junk into treasures
knowing God is in control
old stuff
fresh flowers
flea markets
puppy breath
a clean house
a place for everything and everything in its place
soft instrumental music
Americana decor
reading on cold evenings
God's grace
first big snowfall
white chocolate brownie from Moxies
quality bed sheets
scented candles
second-hand stores
flannel pajamas
quiet time with Bible and prayer
the feel of Lucy's forehead
fat babies
a full pantry
visiting in my mom's living room
baby yawns
manicured lawns
fall and winter cooking
braided and rag rugs
a good joke
ocean, river, and waterfall sounds
my siblings
Hannah's sense of humor
Rachael's responsible ways
Deborah's notes
transparency of others
walking Lucy
fall smells
Gordon's affection
Mama's comfort
Gordon's wisdom
Stacie's comfortability
reading a good book
blog comments
Christopher's gentle kindness
Stephanie's purity of heart
conversations with Jill
good food
having friends over for dinner
my soup tureen
white, sparkling clean bathrooms
a clean car
morning coffee
crossword puzzles
the way Gordon can fix anything
line dried clothes
Chanel Coco
No Bake Cookies
Rachael's way with children
Hannah's love for pretty things
Deborah's affection
the gift of prayer
hugs from Christopher
decorating frugally
lawn water fountains
family traditions
going to the library
watching Deborah and her best friend Kalyna play
seeing the girls laughing
learning how to do something new
spring melt
a bargain
days at home alone
knowing I've done the right thing
no debt
being good at something
nice old people who smile
anyone who loves me
decorating pictures

these girls are twins

These girls are twins. Really they are.

"While very rare, the phenomenon is not unknown, though it does entail a very particular combination of circumstances at the moment of conception. First, both parents must be of mixed race. Second, the twins must be fraternal (each conceived from a separate egg fertilized by separate sperm) as opposed to identical (both conceived from a single egg and sperm). Third, each sperm and egg must carry the genes for a particular skin color (i.e., black/black or white/white). The odds against it are indeed a million to one. " (copied from www.urbanlegends).

The amazing conception happened after two eggs were fertilized at the same time in the womb. Both Kylie and her partner Remi Horder, 17, are of mixed race. Their mothers are both white and their fathers are black.

According to the Multiple Births Foundation, baby Kian must have inherited the black genes from both sides of the family, whilst Remee inherited the white ones.

The odds against of a mixed race couple having twins of dramatically different color are a million to one. Skin color is believed to be determined by up to seven different genes working together. If a woman is of mixed race, her eggs will usually contain a mixture of genes coding for both black and white skin.

Similarly, a man of mixed race will have a variety of different genes in his sperm. When these eggs and sperm come together, they will create a baby of mixed race.

But, very occasionally, the egg or sperm might contain genes coding for one skin color. If both the egg and sperm contain all white genes, the baby will be white. And if both contain just the versions necessary for black skin, the baby will be black.

For a mixed-race couple, the odds of either of these scenarios is around 100 to one. But both scenarios can occur at the same time if the woman conceives non-identical twins, another 100 to one chance.

This involves two eggs being fertilized by two sperm at the same time, which also has odds of around 100 to one.

If a sperm containing all-white genes fuses with a similar egg and a sperm coding for purely black skin fuses with a similar egg, two babies of dramatically different colors will be born.

The odds of this happening are a million to one.

(all of this was copied from the London Daily Mail)

Isn't this amazing?

ireland trivia

I've wanted to visit Ireland for a number of years. Stacie, Diane, and I have talked about visiting the Emerald Isle together, but that won't happen in the foreseeable future. So for now, I visit Ireland vicariously through trivia.

- 34-40 million Americans claim Irish ancestry. Irish ancestry is second only to German.

- Ireland is half the size of Arkansas.

- In some places in Ireland it rains 90 inches a year. That explains why it's so green, eh?

- In the 1600's Protestant English and Scottish families settled in Northern Ireland to bring Protestantism to the Irish. This was when religious tensions began. Still Northern Ireland is more Protestant and Southern Ireland is predominantly Catholic.

- St Patrick was kidnapped from his home in England and spent six years as a prisoner of the Irish. As a prisoner he was taken far from civilization to be a sheep herder. In his loneliness he turned to God for solace. After escaping and going back to England, he felt the call of God to return to Ireland as a missionary to build up the Christians already there and expand Christendom. To this point, Ireland was a pagan country with a number of its inhabitants worshiping nature. St Patrick strove to make Christianity more palatable to the Irish by combining nature symbols with Christian symbols. The Celtic cross, which is a popular symbol today, originated when he added the sun to the cross.

- March 17 marks the day of St Patrick's death around 461 AD

painting with tampons

Before moving to Canada, I had very little exposure to other cultures. I had a hard time understanding accents and I'm still weak in this department. As a newcomer, I often found myself in embarrassing conversations where I didn't understand. I will share one such embarrassing conversation.

I met a man who had just moved to Edmonton from French-speaking Quebec. He was a painter, so I called him for an estimate. He came and we discussed ideas. He became very animated and started shooting off various ideas quicker than I could process. He clearly wasn't just a painter, he was an artist. He wanted my walls to be a piece of art.

He suggested using a tampon. I didn't fall off a turnip truck yesterday, so I knew I must be misunderstanding his thick accent. He must have seen on my face my struggle to understand. He asked me to get him a tampon so he could demonstrate the tampon technique. (I was too confused to retort, "Thank you, but I know the tampon technique.")

Out of my comfort zone, I always resort to appearing like I have it all under control. I sprinted upstairs to the bathroom telling myself, "This is no big deal, act like an adult. He just wants to show you a painting technique." I returned with a tampon in hand and tried to appear comfortable with the idea.

I stretched out my arm to hand him the tampon. Slowly and reluctantly he took it. He looked at it. He shifted his weight. He bit his lip. He shifted his weight again. Finally he spoke. "I think the word in English is sponge."

That is the day I learned that "tampon" is the French word for sponge.

more u.s. and canadian differences

I will continue my US and Canadian observations. My mom pointed out the language differences. There are many of those, way too many for me to address. But I will tell a few of my favorites.

When I was brand new to Canada we went to a home of friends that Gordon loved dearly. I really wanted to make a good impression. As the lady was working on the meal, I asked if there was anything I could do to help. She asked me to set the "serviettes." I had never heard the word serviette before. Nervously, not wanting to look like a country bumpkin, I turned and quickly studied the table. The only thing I noticed absent were napkins. Hoping desperately that I was right I added the napkins to the table. That day I learned what serviettes are. They are napkins.

Later, that same visit, I was told to make myself comfortable on the chesterfield. Somewhere I had heard that and knew it meant sofa. Many older Canadians call their sofa a chesterfield.

When I was growing up we called the knitted caps you wear in the winter tobaggons. This is hilarious to Canadians. Here, a tobaggon is a sled. A knitted cap is called a toques.

What is the last letter of the alphabet? If you answered zee, you would be wrong in Canada (and every other English speaking country other than the US). That last letter of the alphabet is "zed." Strange, eh?

A rain gutter is an eaves-trough.

Our one dollar coin is a loonie. Our $2 coin is a toonie.

What do you call the lace up shoes you wear for sports? I grew up calling them tenny shoes and a proper person would have said "tennis shoes." Here they are neither. They are "runners."

Coffee creamer is called whitener.

Your butt is your bum. Although everyone knows what butt is, people generally say bum.

Everyone calls urine "pee." I was repulsed by that when I moved here. That was a crass word in my family of origin. I got in trouble for saying pee. Guess what, I say pee all the time now. I said I never would, but I do. Doctors, nurses, lab workers, you name it, they say pee. "Are you peeing regularly?" "Here, pee in this cup?" "When did you last pee?" Pee pee pee. I can say it without cringing.

Oh yeah, you pee in a washroom, not a bathroom.

Macaroni and Cheese is called Kraft Dinner or KD. I've never adopted that one.
In the morning, you open a tin of coffee, not a can of coffee. A tin of tuna, a tin of cookies,...

When Rachael was a baby, I started hearing, "Does she make strange?" I didn't have a clue what that meant but finally figured out it meant, "does she get frightened easily by strange people or things?" Last week I actually heard myself ask a lady if her baby "makes strange." For the record, none of my babies made strange.

A baby takes a soother, not a pacifier. I used the word "binky" for pacifier when I moved here. I don't anymore. I say soother because that is what people understand.

Baby cheque. This is an expression every adult Canadian knows. On the 20th of every month, mothers get a "child tax credit." That's right, the government gives money every month to every mother for each child she has. It's a sliding scale based on income. It can be a lot of money for a lot of people. After Rachael was born I got my first cheque and was amazed to learn it was going to come every month. I happily said, "I love this country."

"Double double" is another phrase every adult Canadian knows. It means, "I'll take my coffee with double sugar and double cream."

As most people know, all Canadians get equal health care. It is not free as most Americans think. You have to pay for insurance, but if you cannot afford the insurance, the government pays the insurance for you. I wish I could tell you how much the insurance is just to give some perspective, but since Gordon's employer pays ours, I don't know. It too is based on a sliding scale depending on income. The higher income bracket, of course, pays more for the insurance. Good employers pay the insurance for their employees. Many Americans view this approach as socialistic and wrong. I do not. I wish America would implement it. I think anything less is criminal. The poor need health care too.

I heard Rush Limbaugh say that Canadians couldn't get good health care. I was highly offended by his stupidity, but then I find him offensive in general. I've had four surgeries, three babies, and a few other health issues since I've been here, and have always been amazed at the care I got. A homeless person would have received the same care. I am proud of that.

Well, that concludes part 2 of my essay. We shall see if more things come to the fore.