Monday, 23 July 2012


Hi, Friends!

We're not officially "moving", but...we're redirecting most of our little efforts to L.B.'s blog.
You can follow us here! 

Much love,
L.B. and E.

Thursday, 21 June 2012


L.B. and I returned home almost two weeks ago. Sometimes we are not the best at finishing our documentation projects, but we promise you that the remainder of our vacation was delightful.
            We are now embarking on the second adventure of this summer: 
The One With E.'s Mother-Dentist Extracting Her (E's) Wisdom Teeth 
            L.B. has it easy this time. He doesn’t even have to open his mouth. (Which he can’t, by the way.) Though he has graciously (ha) agreed to join me for the After Party. Of course. We’re planning to forage for smoothies and watch movies.
            But the After Party must wait until after The Present Procedure. Minor oral surgery is not horrible compared to some procedures, but everyone has their own cross to bear, and for the next twenty-four hours, this one is mine.

I feel so afraid tonight.
The night before is always agonizing.

Granted, I’m not paralyzed by fear. Today I cooked up two batches of pureed vegetable soups for my recovery time. I reorganized the living room. I accidentally broke a lamp. I taught my violin student this morning. I even recited several positive affirmations about having my wisdom teeth removed. (I am my mother’s daughter.)

But I still feel afraid, even though everyone tells me not to feel afraid. I think it is that kind of fear that you cannot reason or positive-think away. Perhaps because it is a very real and natural response to the knowledge that you are about to undergo something that will inevitably cause you some pain. I can’t avoid it. General anesthesia is not an option for me, so I will have to consciously experience the procedure, though thankfully with the use of a local anesthetic.  

I have never had my wisdom teeth removed before, and the unknown is terrifying at times.  Especially when the unknown is dappled with little bits of known. Little memories of past experiences involving pain.

…Perhaps this anxiety is similar to how one feels before giving birth for the first time? …I wouldn’t know.

This will be a new experience!

Little Bear is little, and I am little, too.
Little Bear wears trousers, and I wear trousers, too.
Little Bear is filled with fluff, but I am filled with flesh and bone and blood.

We do not feel like equals tonight.

But Jesus was of flesh and bone and blood, 
(Or He…still is?)
And His flesh was pierced and He bled.

…And in a very small way, my flesh will be pierced and I will bleed, too.

Maybe this is what it means to share in Christ’s agony and suffering.

Oh, I know, it’s not the exact same thing. Hopefully I won’t feel the cutting…But I must still wait for the operation tomorrow, and I still feel some dread and fear.  A bit of fear. And a bit of hope. Perhaps enough to make me courageous. 

Oh well.

I’m excited for the After Party.
And Little Bear and my sister will be waiting for me.

But until then, tonight brings waves of A Bit of Agony.

Until tomorrow.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Days 2-4*, or Of Strawberries and Lake Water* or Simple Pleasures* etc.

*L.B. and I are on better Title-ing Terms...He agreed to stop being so persnickety if I agreed to work on my Title Composing Skills. Deal. 

L.B. and I have been having a marvelous time on our holiday here in Minnesota. I wish you all could share in the lovely delights I have experienced during my stay. Lovely quiet delights. I couldn't have imagined a better way to spend a vacation.

My friend took me Strawberry Picking in her backyard garden, and we picked enough berries to make a Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble for dessert that evening.

L.B. came along, too. 

Strawberry Trousers!

We spent our afternoons swimming in Lake Minnetonka...

And in the evenings, we ate cobbler and sat on the porch overlooking the beautiful stretch of backyard. (How nice! They have a true "stretch" of yard. I think our California house has a small plot of yard, though it is better than no yard.)

Splendid, no?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Day 1! or Arrived! or Lakes and Ponds! or Gas Is So Cheap Here!*

*All unsatisfactory titles, at least according to L.B. (Who is now named The Peanut Gallery, at least in my book. At least at least at least. Why don't you come up with them yourself, eh?)
**UPDATE: L.B. finally gave me a suggestion:


((And then he fell asleep before he could tell me the translation. Curse you, Bear! Who washes your trousers? ME! That's who!)) 
Titles aside, we are here and we are happy.

L.B. and I braved four hours in the metal tube and enjoyed looking out the window at the world below. (The clouds are so beautiful!)

We have already seen many lakes and ponds, (the boggy greenish kind that you rarely see in Southern California), and this morning I saw my very first Oriole bird.

The trees are all new to me. I feel like I am learning a new language... Birch Trees and Willow Trees and Cottonwoods...Where are my Sycamores, Bottle Brush, and Eucalyptus?
                  We are in a new land, L.B.

Yesterday we went exploring and saw the Mississippi River. L.B. was amused by the Minnesotans tanning on the grassy lawns, but I thought they were very clever to choose a grassy lawn over a sandy beach. Too much sand. (L.B. agreed.)

Everything we have seen thus far has been down-to-earth and delightful.

Tomorrow promises a visit to another lake. I am excited.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

"The L.B. Chronicles"

Otherwise known as "An Unsatisfactory Title", according to Little Bear. Picky picky.

We are up late (me: sleepy!) ((L.B.: "laksjdflkafjdldsAS!" translated: Your Fault For Not Starting Earlier.)) packing for our trip to the Midwest (exciting!), but I promised L.B. to chronicle our adventures on H.H.&C., so here is the first installment.

For some reason, both L.B. and I have been having a difficult time thinking and communicating in complete coherent sentences. Maybe we are just sleepy and excited and slightly anxious about being squished into a giant metal tube with 150ish other human beings. Don't think about it too much, L.B. At least you can fit in my pocket.

Our current dialogue (or lack thereof) runs something like this:

L.B.: LAKsdfjklajsdklajrkdfa. (translated: TROUSERS.)

Me: Clean out bag. Granola bar?

L.B.: lka3tljeLRGOI#$TAERFDJLK. (translated: WASH. TROUSERS.)

Me: Heavy Eyelids. Passport?

L.B.: laierlkjlkjalSDKFAbasofsteellaksdfjlk (translated: HAVE NO EYELIDS.)

Me: Pity.


Mostly L.B. is upset because I haven't had time to wash and mend his trousers. Sorry, Friend. Does he ever sleep? How do animals without eyelids sleep?

Off to finish packing. The Pa-Shuttle arrives at 4 tomorrow morning. Isn't Pa the best?


Sunday, 12 February 2012

Reflections on Home

I tend to associate “home” with safety, stability and peace. The earthly home, which includes house and family, should be a sanctuary from fears and anxieties. It should be a comfortable place. It must be a comfortable place.
                  Or so I hoped.
Recent circumstances have made me painfully aware that our experiences on earth, even in the earthly home, cannot be perfectly fulfilling since home on earth is not an end in itself.
                  Still, I held on to the hope that returning to the agrarian country life of yesteryear would somehow deliver the peace and stability that I wanted.
                  Did I never understand Little House on the Prairie? It apparently did not register to my eight-year-old mind that Pa, Father, and later Almanzo were all at the mercy of the elements. Laura’s account in The First Four Years depicts the raw and harsh struggle of the farming life. Man against nature, quite literally. Laura had more to worry about than whether or not she would live in a specific house.
                  Farming can sound idyllic, but it is a difficult life.
(Yes, I do feel somewhat embarrassed for not realizing this until now.)
                  This realization made me feel better about my own life in suburbia. I am well aware that business owners, researchers and dentists live difficult lives. But for some reason I considered those pursuits as somewhat lesser than that of the country homesteader. I may never want to be a business owner, granted, but I think I was wrong in assuming that my parents, who work in research and dentistry, love their work any less than the farmer.
                  Reading Andy Catlett by Wendell Berry helped me see the parallels between the farmer and the business owner. Both are self-employed. Both must take risks. Both can incur debt. Both often sacrifice their lives to keep doing what they love.
                  One of my favorite passages is where Andy reflects on his grandfather’s occupation and describes the struggles of the self-employed farmer:

I love him now more than I did then, for now, sixty-some years later, I understand that his life had been lived in devotion to our place here and its creatures, as my own life, in its way, also has been lived. And I know now how to value his passion for good crops, good animals, and good work, and how to appreciate his grief when he failed to live up to his passion. For he had known failure, as he would acknowledge bluntly, as he acknowledged everything else. He had too rarely been free of the stress of debt, and therefore of haste and overwork. He had been compelled by the urgencies of debt to put his land too much at risk, and he and it had paid the inevitable costs. His life, his very flesh, had been shaped by weather, work, and the struggle to keep what he had and what he loved (Andy Catlett, 21).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

I think I love this passage because it mirrors, to a very small degree, my family’s experiences. We have something in common with farmers! All people, regardless of their occupation, face struggles and risks in life, and somehow this makes me feel better about not knowing where to find home on earth. Maybe instability is characteristic of the earthly home. Instability does not necessitate joylessness. 

I feel somewhat relieved, 
and I love my parents now more than I did. 

I hope I love my parents more and more. They are amazing people. 

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Snowy Owl News

Very interesting events taking place in the Owl World. You can read about them here. 

"Snowy" is a delightful word. Not quite the same as "snow". Less severe, I think. But just look up an image of a snowy owl and you will see that they look much more severe than their name sounds.


I have never seen an owl.

But sometimes I write about gimbles of Buddybird Owls sailing in their leaflet canoes.

Have you ever seen a Buddybird Owl?

I know one!

But just one.

One does not constitute a gimble.

Project Tree

It's happening, folks.

More details to follow.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

A Conversation with My Dad

Me: Dad, what do you think I'll be when I grow up?
My Dad: I think you'll be a God loving Christian feminist.
Me: ....

Turns out he wasn't defining "feminist" in the way I assumed, but still.


Okay, Dad.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Comfort Food

I'm always on the lookout for simple and delicious one pot meals, and I think I just found a new favorite!
Arroz con Pollo

Image Courtesy of Martha Stewart Online
My meal did not turn out as picturesque as the above image, but it tasted delicious. I am glad I splurged and bought some saffron. Yellow rice is so comforting. This entire meal is wonderfully comforting. Comfort. I can't think of a better word right now. Comforting nursery food. Perfect for a week when everything turns topsy-turvy on you.

If you pray, would you take a moment to say a quick prayer for me and my family? We would appreciate it very much. We are all working very hard to make ends meet, and we are all very weary. (As are many people in this world.)

May we all find some rest and a bit of "home" every day.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Party Time! (L.B. Style)

This is how it's done.

(Or, this is what happens when I leave my computer on at night.)

The Oatmeal Bear goes solo!

Joined by Mr. Totoro, who lives in an eternal state of shock, or so I think.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

We here at Little Brown House have had our share of troubling news during the first weeks of January. Little Bear tore his trousers, and my sister and I lost a dear friend. How devastatingly unnatural it is for a person to end his own life. To quote Sheldon Vanauken, we all feel very"sad". Sad and slightly confused. (Though I have promised to mend L.B.'s trousers.)

These are times when the often unbearably mundane tasks become comforting. Housework and homework give me something to do, and they remind me that I am alive. Perhaps I am finally beginning to understand what Aquinas and Augustine mean when they say that existence is good. It is good to be alive.

But since I have a tendency to get stuck in an overly-homeworkish-houseworkish rut, I gave myself the task of doing something new each day. It is too easy to limit myself to comfortable and familiar tasks like washing dishes. I am sure there are people in the world who ought to wash more dishes, but there are also people like me who must stop washing all the dishes. At least for a day. And they should try driving to Church on a different road.


Out of control.

Or not really. (Well, maybe just for me.) 

This morning I remembered how a fellow violinist, Phil, would pray before each rehearsal. He always began by thanking God for life and breath. It is a very simple statement, but I find myself repeating it throughout the day. Even on evenings when my washer floods the kitchen floor. (Like this evening.) I am alive and breathing, and I am jolly well alive enough to go clean it up.

It's not so bad, is it?