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Archive for January, 2014

Jan 30 2014

Keeping the Fire Burning

Posted by Mugs @ 11:41 am in Family,Nature Print This Post Print This Post

Our heat pump keeps trying to heat our house, but this month we needed a furnace. Bitter cold and snow and more bitter cold and snow is more than our heat pump can manage. The pellet stove has been in constant operation, but even with it running all day long, we’re wrapped in blankets.

Each morning, getting out from under the down comforter to light the fire in the pellet stove takes more will than I care to muster.

“Please bring the Spring” I pray as I climb out of bed.

A shivering Zeke eats his breakfast next to his tiny portable heater. Abby plaintively asks “Why does it have to be so cold in this house?”

Gabe is the only one unaffected. I have to force him to wear pants instead of shorts to school.

This morning, Zeke asked me, “Where is the best place to be in a blizzard?”

I explained how you needed to be inside a structure that was powered by a generator and had a wood stove to keep it warm. I told him that the roof had to have a severe slant to keep the weight of the snow from collapsing it, and that you had to periodically go out on the roof to shovel the snow off.

The memories of Northern Minnesota and making it through the winter all came back: the wood splitting and chopping and hauling; the ice forming inside the walls, running from the shower to dry off next to the wood stove, the cars sliding off the road into the ditch, shoveling and shoveling and shoveling.

After Zeke had gone to school, I thought of a better answer.

“Where is the best place to be in a blizzard?”

It’s best to be in Hawaii watching it on t.v.

Jan 27 2014


Posted by Mugs @ 2:46 pm in Family Print This Post Print This Post

Dale has been retired from the military for over 3 years, and I still shop at the commissary (military grocery store).  Keeping commissary and military exchange (department store) privileges is a benefit of 20+ years of service. During the government’s endless debates on what to cut from military benefits, closing the commissaries is always raised as an option.

This idea always makes me sad. Some of my friends find my attachment to the commissary amusing. Where I live, I am surrounded by more grocery shopping choices than anyone could ever need. This is America, after all, where the excess of choice is breathtaking.

Within a 10 minute drive of my home, I can shop at these grocery stores: 2 food lions, shoppers, giant, aldi, walmart, and target. Instead, I drive to the commissary to shop.

Some of the local grocery stores have prices near to and, on occasion, better than the commissary, but it takes effort to track down the deals. I don’t like to make any effort when I shop. I like to grab the familiar cart, walk down the familiar aisles, look at the familiar choices, and buy the groceries at prices I expect.

(One mystery I have yet to solve is why the price of oreos will ricochet back and forth between $2.50 and $3.35. I know there are people who track the price of every item they buy, but I don’t have the brain space. All I track is the price of oreos.)

During the snow week, I didn’t want to drive to the commissary because of the icy roads. I went to the closest stores to buy the necessities. The difference in the price of meat made me grind my teeth. I didn’t go look at the price of oreos even though Dale considers them necessities. I figured he could wait until we thawed out.

In the non-military world, the clerk bags your groceries and you place them in your cart and push your cart to your car to load it up. In the military world, tradition is very hard to kill. The commissary has baggers to pack your groceries, push your cart, and load the bags into your car. The baggers work for tips.

I don’t mind the teenage baggers doing my work, but when the grandma baggers load stuff in my car, I feel like a lazy oaf. Today, after the grandma bagger finished loading my car, she asked if I had someone to help me unload it at home.

I must really look lazy.


Jan 24 2014

Third Snow Day’s The Charm

Posted by Mugs @ 12:08 pm in Family,Nature,school Print This Post Print This Post

Zeke enjoyed his time in the snow while the rest of us stayed inside and finished the pasta puzzle. The temperature has not gone above freezing, so Stafford County’s snow removal plan: “wait until it melts” has proven ineffective.  Schools have been closed since Tuesday.

When I lived in Colorado Springs, one of the newspaper columnists wrote that Colorado Springs’ snow removal plan was to have city officials drive with their car door open and drag their foot down the street.

I keep watching the Aquia Harbour snow plow driver cruise down my street with his plow raised. Having another go at the icy spots on all the streets until he gets rid of them or sprinkling sand around must not be the priority.

The temperature may get above freezing on Monday which will hopefully signal the Stafford County “all clear.”

Jan 23 2014

What Tomorrow Might Bring

Posted by Mugs @ 1:30 pm in Church,Family Print This Post Print This Post

For the last 20 years, motherhood has been my primary job.  I’m on a constant lookout for the things I need to teach my children in the hope of preparing them for life in the great big world.

Our Women’s Ministry team at church has a similar focus. We pray, “Lord, what would you have us teach the ladies right now. How can we minister to them this year?”

This past weekend, my Mom job and my team job combined with a get-away for the team and some single women from the church. We did an overnight in Richmond and were very spoiled by our gracious hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Kangas. (My singular friend has very hospitable parents.)

We discussed the book “The Sacred Search” by Gary Thomas. It is a book about what to look for in a future spouse. I’ve known I needed to talk to Abby about this, but have delayed it. Thankfully for Dale and I, Abby has spent most of high school focused on academics, friends, sports, and work. Unsuitable boys have been chased off by her ice queen stare and other boys have stayed ‘just friends.’ There have only been a couple boyfriends. (Cody doesn’t count.)

There is a strong probability that some boy will happen by in the near future and decide he’s found the greatest thing since sliced bread. I need Abby to be ready when infatuation overrides her common sense.

Along with Abby, two sister stalwarts of our women’s ministry, Robyn and Amanda may also ride off in the near future to lands far away. I know they need to be ready for who God may bring into their lives and I’m thrilled for them all. I can’t wait to see where God takes them and how He uses them to share the gospel.

Really, I am.

But, why then am I also very sad?

Oh life, and its bittersweet moments.

Jan 22 2014

Puzzling Snow Days

Posted by Mugs @ 12:00 pm in Family,Nature,school Print This Post Print This Post

My sister, Marie, who lives in the great white north called to mock me for the excessive number of snow days we get in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We Virginians can’t handle snow. Yesterday, the government and the schools closed for a snow storm of 3-5 inches. Northerners find this absurd, but southerners were in a panic. Snow plows and salt trucks are few and far between around here.

Dale and I figured it was a good day for Abby to learn to drive in the snow. (She was scheduled to teach piano and flute lessons.) She was doing well, even offering to help a kid with his car on its side in the ditch. Then, some nut speeding down the two lane road in a giant SUV forced her into a snowy ditch. Thankfully, she didn’t get stuck and the car wasn’t damaged. She drove safely home having learned the most critical of snow day lessons.

Virginians don’t know how to drive in the snow. It’s really best to stay home.

We spent most of the day attempting to put together the puzzle Dale bought me for Christmas. I used to love large challenging puzzles, but I gave them up because of the excessive number of hours they demand. I like puzzles with obvious differences.

Dale, however, thought it would be a great idea to buy me a puzzle of dried pasta.