Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Your Turn to Weigh in

No, don't worry, I'm not talking about a scale! (After birthday cake this weekend, I'm certainly not going anywhere near a scale!)

What I am talking about is hearing your ideas.

I was asked tonight if the following poem is a riddle and if so what the answer is.

Poetry can be interpreted different ways by different people. What do you think? Is this a riddle? If so, what do you think the answer might be? Is it not a riddle? If not, what do you think the meaning could be? (This is not a test, and I am not an English teacher. There is no wrong answer here, so don't stress, OK?)

The Bee is not afraid of me.
I know the Butterfly.
The pretty people in the Woods
Receive me cordially --

The Brooks laugh louder when I come --
The Breezes madder play;
Wherefore mine eye thy silver mists,
Wherefore, Oh Summer's Day?

(Emily Dickinson #111 c.1859)

(Context for question: My youngest niece will be reciting this poem Friday, March 2, and it would be nice for her to have some background on it if she is asked questions. Can you help her out? If you know me and are shy about commenting on a blog, feel free to email instead. Thanks in advance to all responders.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

End of an Era

Well, our last single-digit child just hit double digits today. Now we are a household of double-digiters until one of us hits the century mark.

Happy 10th birthday Caleb!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Quote for Thought (1)

We know too much and are convinced of too little. Our literature is a substitute for our religion, and so is our religion.

(T. S. Eliot 1888-1965)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Practical Joke

Look, I was hungry, alright?!

Soup sounded good, but you need quite a bit of soup to fill you up if you're hungry, especially if the soup you have left over is just chicken broth and vegetables.

My family had already eaten, so I had a choice in how to prepare this meal for myself. I could heat it up in a pan and then serve it to myself small bowl after small bowl - thus making a pan, a ladle, a bowl and a spoon dirty - OR I could heat it up in a large bowl and eat it out of that - fewer dirty dishes, same amount of food. That sounds practical to me.I thought nothing of it, but when I sat down at the table my husband was absolutely aghast and got out a camera to take a picture of the shocking sight.

I thought it was practical; he thought it was hillarious, so there you have it, a "practical joke"!

(I must admit, I do look like quite a glutton, but, come on, it's just chicken broth and vegetables! Besides, I'm a mathematician. Finding short-cuts is what math is all about! It's what I do! You got a problem with that - meet me outside! I'll be there just as soon as I'm done with my soup.)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

My Colorful Life

At the end of November I was bemoaning the loss of color with the fall of leaves. Yet by early February my daffodils had begun to blossom. What a great place to live! Color to color -- vibrance of fall to brilliance of spring -- with only a brief interlude of barrenness to help us appreciate it even more!

Friday, February 16, 2007


There's just something I love about trees!
I can't help but be "INTRIGUED".

When I saw this tree on my brother-in-law Dan's blog, I asked if I could share it on mine too. He sees this every day on his way to work (in Kolonia, Pohnpei, Micronesia).

He feels it looks like the tree is trying to crawl over the wall.

What do you think?

(All sorts of possible movie scripts are running through my mind -- one possible title: "The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth." Look out! The trees are claiming their inheritance! Another title could simply be "The Trees" -- kind of like Hitchcock's "The Birds." Then again, perhaps this is a kind, gentle tree like Tolkien's Ents. I hope so!)

To read about life in the tropical paradise of Pohnpei check out Kaselehlie!

To view previously posted tree pictures, click here or here or here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Post in Four Parts


I have a LOT to share today, and I'm going to put it all in one post: a post in four parts.


Move over Christmas stockings! My youngest son -- whose "love language" is definitely "giving and receiving of gifts" -- has come up with a new holiday tradition: Family Valentine's Bags.

For the last few days we have had lunch-sack sized brown paper bags scotch-taped to the wall of our living room, one for each of us, for the insertion of Valentine's gifts (as bags got heavy they fell, but that problem could be solved by more and more -- and more and more -- -- and more and MORE scotch tape!).

We have done this for a couple of years now, and I think it is here to stay in our household. Perhaps others of you will want to add this to your holiday traditions.


Hello baby!!

I found out today that my "nephew to be" is a "niece to be" -- as far as can be told right now. Best wishes you guys! You are in our thoughts and prayers daily!


Well, it really is true that people who choose to do stupid things blow it for others.

My son who is a freshman in high school has had bus service -- to within a bit less than a mile of our home -- all year. In the last few weeks more kids than usual have been riding the bus. One of these students, a girl, was misbehaving so badly and would not obey the bus driver at all to the point that the bus driver had to turn the bus around, return to school, and radio ahead to have school officials there to meet her and escort her off the bus. Now, to reduce the number of students riding (and get rid of her and the few problem students who have recently begun riding), a strict three-mile policy is being enforced. That means only students who live 3 miles or further from the school have bus service.

The policy has actually always been "on the books" but had not been enforced, as the bus was quite empty, and there had been no problem until recently. Now that this girl and a small number of others have chosen to be a problem, the policy will be VERY strictly enforced.

We live 3.1 miles from the main entrance of the school, so we should still have bus service, right?


The official measuring is being done from the "nearest 'safe' entrance" to the school from a student's home. According to the bus service, which sent out a truck to measure the mileage from our home today, we live 2.96 miles from the "nearest 'safe' entrance" -- and NO, they don't round up.

This "nearest 'safe' entrance" is actually not an entrance if you are coming from our home. There is a median dividing the road, which means that particular driveway cannot be entered from this direction. In other words, it is not actually an "entrance" from where we live. There is no crosswalk near this "safe entrance," and there is no sidewalk on the school-side of that road -- a very busy road, I might add. To cross from the other side to this entrance, my son would have to jaywalk, because it is also not at a corner. I'm wondering by whose definition this is "safe."

The bus service has let us know this is the city's problem for not putting in a round-about or crosswalks and gave us numbers to call the city (yeah, I'm sure the city is going to claim responsibility and put in an expensive round-about right away upon receiving our call!). When a student is hit by a car, I think there is going to be enough problem to go around -- and if that does happen, finger-pointing is not going to fly with the public.

All this thanks to the girl who was being a problem on the bus (whatever happened to disciplining the person/s who is/are being a problem rather than making others pay a price?). Her problem is now a problem for many.

What a pain.

Hopefully this problem, whomever it belongs to, will not go beyond merely being a "pain" to actually meaning injury or worse to a student.


My spring semester began today, so I am back to reality - specifically "Real Analysis II" affectionately known as "Real 2." (See below for a snippet from my notes today; I put this part of the post at the bottom, because I was afraid it would scare people off if I put it at the top.)

Another aspect of this semester will be doing a lot of reading and research and writing a book length manuscript in my class "Mathematical Logic and the Arts." I'm going to be plenty busy this semester . . . but good busy!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Out of the Mouths of "Babes"

This morning after church I saw two girls, somewhere between ages 6 and 8, walk arm in arm onto the sidewalk from the grass area.

I gleaned quite a practical fashion tip as one said to the other in an advisory tone:

"On Sundays when you plan to jump on the grass after church, you really shouldn't wear high heels."

Saturday, February 10, 2007

God's Language

"Philosophy is written in this grand book - I mean the universe - which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometrical figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it."

"Mathematics is the alphabet with which God has written the universe."

(quotes: Galileo Galilei 1564-1642)
(photo: Heidi 1987 Battle Creek, MI)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Pay it Forward

This goes from silly to serious, but it has a point. I don't know how to write about it without stringing all these thoughts together, so hang on for the ride!

A dear friend of mine traveled to England in the fall. She knows what an anglophile I am, and when she returned home she sent me an email with a photo attached. I downloaded the attachment with great anticipation. I assumed it would be a picture of Westminster Abbey or some other particular cathedral or castle that I love - or perhaps the home of one of my favorite authors. The following picture was what I opened:


When I first opened it I was shocked - no castle? no cathedral? not even a hedgerow? A car?! Then I looked more closely. Clearly she is reading my posts and knows how special the Azores are to me! It's such a cool thing to have friends who really know you and pick up on it when something is special to you, even when they are not with you - even something as obscure as a taxi in England with advertising for the Azores on it!

I was touched.

This surprise of a picture brought to mind two more serious things that have touched me very deeply this year. One of these is that while this friend was in England, she lit a candle for me in Westminster Abbey and prayed for me, remembering a burden I've long carried. Another dear friend visited Israel last year and wrote my name on a slip of paper and put it in the wailing wall also with a prayer for full freedom for me.

Both have made me feel my burden lessened by their care and carrying it with me and bringing it before God for me in very special ways.

I'm using a lot of words, but these actions have touched my soul beyond the ability of my words to express.

As these have come to mind, I have a strong sense of wanting to "pay it forward." I want to take what they have done for me and pass it on by doing the same for others. I want to remember those in my life who are carrying burdens of any kind, to think of them, and to remember them before God, and, in so doing, to help them carry their burden.

If you are someone I know of who is carrying a burden, know that I am thinking of you in this way and remembering you before God in my prayers.

If you feel so lead, I'd like to ask you to consider "paying it forward" for others too. What a precious thing we can do for each other!