I just realized that while my blog is called Gourds are Gorgeous and Organic, I have a collage of buttons in green and red and white, which are not at all gourd colors. Nor does the address: bodene have anything to do with gourds. I have some major consistency (is that the right way to spell the consistency of which I speak?) issues here people.

I also spoke last week (OH, so optimistically) of posting photos. But, my hard drive is full and our burner is broken which means I haven't been able to upload any photos to our computer in a while. Alas, poor Yorick!

Things are being done and projects are being tackled, but mostly people, I have been sick. The yucky, deceptive, vicious crud. When the pines are dusted with the chartruese pollen, I am made sick.

Spring is wonderful, but certain portions of spring are very, very bad on this allergy suffering woman. My mother in law has a beautiful yard, planted with gorgeous flowers, backed with a stunning rye grass field and ringed with pine plantations. Need I say that the very MOMENT I get out of the car to visit her in the spring, I begin sneezing and the rest of the visit is spent one of two ways: Option one: sneezing and blowing my marathon/sprinting runner of a nose on whatever is handy. (Generally rough paper towels, 'cause the angel soft just doesn't hold up). Option two: take any of those remarkable otc anti-histamines and promptly go to sleep for the duration of the visit. Not only am I insanely allergic to spring, but I am insanely sensitive to any and all antihistamines. I talking about weak, floppy limbs, fuzzy-headedness, inability to operate machinery, sleeping for days on ONE DOSE.

If I were a super hero, I'd be Paula the Immune. I never, ever, catch anything contagious. I could go into nasty bathrooms, empty trash cans, mop floors, baby-sit snotty children (wait, I did all of that in college!) and never get sick. But, all the evil axis of anti-superheros would have to do to bring me down is dust me with pollen and rye grass and/or slip some benadryl, zyrtec, claritin or allegra into my beverages. Then, I'd be a goner.

Yep. So . . . I am sick. I feel okay as long as I'm sitting or lying down. The moment I stand up, it's all over. This isn't very conducive to caring for children or keeping up with laundry. Johnny keeps taking off his diaper and wetting the bed. I'm out of crib sheets and who knows when they'll make it into the wash--the line is so long. I have learned that you can make up a bed with a sari, or a king size fitted sheet if necessary. I can laugh at tomorrow however, 'cause the kids are going to my moms and she has clean crib sheets. Lord-willing, I can down some nyquil or other miracle drugs and sleep this sinus crud off.


Carpe Spellcheck

As Program Director for the past four summers, one of my greatest responsibilities was developing our Bible themes. The biggest portion of that was writing and directing skits for Joshua, The Exodus, Noah and Joseph. Fortunately, God has given us a pretty incredible narrative and generally dialogue to follow. Lots of times, I did a bit of cutting and pasting from the NIV online. Other times I typed from an open Bible.

After staring and reading and poring over parts of scripture so intently, I have often found myself laughing over the way things are translated, or the content of scriptures. "That seems acceptable to me" is something Moses said often. I liked that so much I said it all summer when people asked for input or permissions.

Sometimes, scriptural typos occurred. (My fault completely!) This summer, on the first day of camp, when I was most nervous and anxious about how the skits went, I looked down and realized I had not corrected a glaring typo. (Apparently spell check had not been ever used on the scripts).

We were at the beginning of God establishing a covenant with Abraham. For some reason, we had not practiced with the "voice of Yahweh" and Benton was backstage reading the lines as Abraham was onstage. I was in the back of the pavilion following along with my script.

"Abram, Abram" read Benton.

"Yes, Lord?" said Myles as Abram

(Hmm . . . going well, great, hmm--oh, drat! I forgot to fix that, but surely Benton will catch it . . . )

"Do not fear, Abram, for I am your Shilef, your very great reward" reads Benton

(NOO!!! I am literally rolling off the picnic table. Tears are running down my face)

Benton and the campers thought "Shilef" was some Hebrew word, I'm sure. "Wow that Paula is sure staying authentic to scripture," I'm sure they were thinking, "she's using Hebrew."

That passage is forever tainted now. I've heard it preached at least once since then and I definitely got the giggles.

So, Tuan: as you prepare the skits for the summer: read over them carefully! Lest David slay Goliath the gnat.


A flurry

Today has been busy and creatively fun. I got hyper (and I do mean hyper) inspired by a blog that Elizabeth (Sanford) Smith linked to. The Nester has reminded me that decorating can be fun, immediate and doesn't need to be put off. She also inspired me to "mistreat" my windows. "Mistreatments" are basically curtains in a flash--instant gratification, little to no sewing and perfect for people who change their minds and don't really want to commit to one single lined curtain for life! I highly recommend you folks check out her blog. I made a fake roman shade for J/A's room in less than five minutes (with ironing) today. Does it "work" as in go up and down? No. Do I care? Not at all. I'm just so glad to have something pretty on that window.

See, I'm a perfectionist, which means that had I actually sewn the blinds, I'd have spent days on them. With little ones, I would be snatching time here and there, letting the house go and just exasperating Tuan. So, there you go, fake roman mistreatments preserve domestic bliss!

Tuan had today off--so nice!-- we went on a date last night and got some project materials. Today was one of those "perfect" days. It was a good combination of projects, good coffee and rest. Plus, the house is mostly picked up. I even polished the kitchen sink. (Tuan brought in a dirty bottle after I had finished, so I just hid it to keep my sink pretty--terrible, huh?)

Speaking of everything and now the kitchen sink: I am achingly longing for a new faucet. Ours is a hideous builder's standard faucet that seems to be designed for catching gunk. Why women aren't contractors, I'll never know. A woman contractor would never settle for unadorned hollow core doors, flat paint in a home where children live, or nasty faucets. All that to say, is I'm hoping and praying for a pretty faucet to stumble across my path at a junk store or Hudson's.

Finally, I am motivating myself to blog more: particularly about house, projects, children and our culinary adventures in the kitchen. Hopefully I'll even post photos. For those of you who read my blog (and I know you do!) I would love it if you would de-lurk. Some folks I know of and others I don't.

The point of my blog is to share things, so really and truly, don't be embarrassed to admit that you barely know me and read it. I read all kinds of folks blogs. Now that I've said that, I'm going to go on a delurking journey through the blogosphere.

Goodnight and happy Sabbath!


on a lighter note . . .

I have a sweatshirt which I treasure for its sentimental value. It's a Land's End Cobble Cloth Crew. I dreamed of owning that shirt for years and Tuan surprised me with one as a Christmas gift just before we got married. He also had it monogrammed which was so thoughtful. But every time I wear it, my hair feels dirty, so I avoid it. Strange.


Quitters never sin and sinners never quit?

That makes no sense, but, nevertheless. . . .

I just finished beginning to prepare for my Sunday night Bible study. Some of my readers may remember from a previous post that Tuan and I have been involved in the "kids" ministry at Mount Olive Pres for several years. We have always had a core group of covenant kids and a steady stream of kids drifting in and out. There's a remarkably transient segment of Mount Olive's population and our pastor there is so good about finding kids who need to come. Recently though, we've had a surge of pre-teen/teenage girls from the community faithfully attending. This has led to my undertaking a girl's Bible study with them, while Tuan is continuing in our Old Testament journey with the younger kids.

May I just say it is hard? The closer Sunday gets the more I dread going. My "girls" are a mix of two wasp (white anglo-saxon presbyterian) covenant children who attend private school and five to eight mostly African American girls from the community: broken homes, sketchy theology (if at all), difficult cultural differences . . . . The list goes on an on. To make it even more difficult, I have poor hearing and miss a lot that is said.

I chose our material in a hurry: Susan Hunt's Becoming a True Woman. It's ideal for covenant girls growing up in a church with a good Women's/Titus 2 ministry, but for most of my girls, I feel foolish even trying to explain that we are supposed to look at life with a "biblical framework: creation/fall/redemption". Nevertheless, we plug away at it.

Did I say I dread going? I would much rather nap all afternoon than get the kids up from naps at 3:30 in order to get to MO on time and deal with teenage girls. I have to fight the urge to dread Sundays because those are KidZone days. Why am I doing this? When is God going to bring a youthful energetic couple to MOPC so we can have our Sundays back? Is this even making sense to them?

The biggest question is: why do they keep coming back!? It boggles my mind. But the amazing thing is that even though up to the very point that we sit down around our table and I pray out loud that the Holy Spirit would open our eyes, ears and hearts so that we could see, hear and understand God's Word (while on the inside desperately pleading to God that he would help me in every way!), I am dreading it. But after we've prayed, even if the lesson is bumpy, I find that week after week there is some sort of encouragement during the lesson.

Sometimes it's just seeing that one of the girls is actually listening and making eye contact (!), other times it's just realizing that I am speaking but the words aren't my own, or hearing the girls pray for each other, recently we have seen a broken friendship on the mend. Amazingly, I find that the gospel spills out of my mouth every week--even when I haven't planned it. Each encounter with these girls could be my last. I wish I could shake them until they "get it" but I know that is the Holy Spirit's job.

I wish this was easier and that someone else would come and take over this ministry. Isn't that horribly sinful? God has given me such an opportunity for ministry and I want to throw it all away for longer naps and other selfish pursuits. So I ask you all to pray! Pray that seeds would be planted and perhaps reaped! Pray that amazing, miraculous, mighty things would happen in these girls lives! Our God is mighty and beyond our understanding. He can do ANYTHING! And please pray for me: for a different attitude, proper preparation, and a humble, repentant, unselfish heart. Oh, yes and for wisdom . . . . .


Quick-drying Pants aren't much good without other quick drying things. Disney's Animal Kingdom and the Magic Kingdom.

Ahh . . . Animal Kingdom. Saturday was our last day in the park. We set out on the last day with the full and complete understanding that we were going to be very foolish. Why? Because we were going to Animal Kingdom, then to the Magic Kingdom, which was open until midnight. Crazy, but okay. Did I mention our flight out was Sunday morning at 6:30? Did I also mention that in order to make that flight, we had to catch a shuttle at 3:30 am? So, yeah, we knew it was going to be a crazy day, but so worth it--Disney is not a regular thing for us, so our mindset was maximize, maximize, maximize!!!

My memories of Animal Kingdom are clouded by the haze of that entire last day, but I will say it is an incredibly neat place. The themes are carried so successfully throughout the park. We arrived at the park right around opening time and sped over to Expedition Everest--a great roller coaster ride! It was more intense than Big Thunder Mountain, but much more enjoyable than Space Mountain. Expedition Everest is in the "Asia" portion of the park. It's decorated like a base camp (in Nepal). There's hiking gear everywhere, prayer banners . . . It's very well themed. After riding EE, we trotted over to Dinoland, USA. It's an area of the park themed as a fifties-ish amusement park/midway. The Primeval Whirl roller coaster was one of my favorite rides. It was good old fun twists and turns and ups and downs. I screamed a lot, which I think Tuan got a kick out of. Okay, confession: I screamed and squealed on a lot of things and held tightly onto Tuan. : ) That's one of the things that made doing the parks with him so fun, otherwise, I would have been screaming and squealing to myself, which would make me look a little luny.

I digress. Anyway, we also rode the Dinosaur! Ride. You get in an off-road vehicle and travel to time to catch a dinosaur and bring it back. Intense and fun. Now at this point, we were trucking along, having a good time. It was, however, cold. This would explain why the line for Kali River Rapids was non-existent. For me, an attraction without a line is an invitation for fun. So, I admit, I drug Tuan along with me. The warning signs about getting wet just weren't taken seriously and we got on this boat with a family of four, who spoke another language. Tuan and I were wearing raincoats, but the family of four, who I believe were Belgian (no basis in reality for this, but it does seem fun to say you rode a wet ride on a cold day with some Belgians). The lady made me nervous, because she was wearing the tightest white turtleneck I've ever seen and we were about to get wet. Hmm. . . . fortunately for all of us Tuan got the brunt of the water features on this ride and she stayed dry. : ) The entire ride, if there was an opportunity to get splashed or dripped on, Tuan got it. The belgian children laughed at him and spoke in another language. As we were returning to the dock, Tuan was loudly advising people watching the ride from a bridge, "DON"T DO IT!!!!" DON"T DO IT!!!"

I loved the ride and providentially was wearing jeans which got soaked but kept everything else dry. Tuan had boasted about his quick-drying pants. Well, they dried quick, but got everything else that was not quick drying wet. I had to be especially kind and nice for about thirty minutes after that episode!

We wandered through the Maharajah jungle trek and saw tigers, komodo dragons, birds . . . I was curious as to whether or not they gave the tigers live animals to eat. Disney people do not answer questions like that in a straightforward manner. "Let's just say, that if something flies in, it's fair game," said our hostess. I think that means the tigers get goats on chains like the Jurassic Park dinosaurs.

We also walked through the Pangani Forest Exploration trail, but I don't remember it. There were hippos and gorillas. Again, I'm drawing a blank! Our next stop was the Kilimanjaro safari. It was a really neat treat. You climb aboard these huge trucks and there is a neat ambiance to even the radio chatter as you ride through the park. We saw tons of animals: Giraffes, wildebeest, lions, rhinos, hippos . . . . It's an amazing ride!

Still a bit damp, we were also getting hungry and decided to eat at the Tusker House restaurant. It was another African Buffet. Since we'd had such good fortune with Boma the previous night, we decided to push our luck further. The food was good, but not as good as Boma. They did have great bread, however. My goodness they did! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Having hit our major destinations at the Animal Kingdom, we walked through Camp Minnie Mickey, saw Daffy Duck, took lots of pictures of benches--Tuan--and decided to head on to the Magic Kingdom. Tuan had missed out on the MK when I went solo, so we wanted to make sure he got to ride Space Mountain and I was wanting to repeat some rides.

I really, really enjoyed Animal Kingdom. Like the other parks there were things we skipped that I am looking forward to going back to. AK was something Johnny and Aubrey would have enjoyed as well.

We left he Ak at 2:30 (yeah, we got through everything pretty quickly). Since you can't get there from here, but you can get there from there at Disney World, we caught a bus to the Ticketing Transportation Center (TTC) then caught the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. So fun, except our train had to make a stop on the rail for about fifteen minutes. Who knows what was going on, but I did take note of the emergency exits, just in case.

The Magic Kingdom was fun. Knowing my way around made it especially so. Space Mountain had quite a wait, so we got a fastpass and went to Mickey's Toontown Fair, then by the Haunted Mansion (which had a super long line). and to Splash Mountain/BTM. Splash Mountain had a barely there line, but the BTM line was insane!!!! I think we waited over forty minutes. This was long for someone who was spoiled from visiting DW in non-peak season. We hung out, made phone calls, found out my sister was pregnant, played some lightsaber game . . . . . But in the end we rode and it was well worth it.

After riding BTM, we headed over to Liberty Square for the Haunted Mansion. The afternoon Parade was starting, so we perched strategically between the Parade and the HM. The parade was great (another Poppins sighting--what richness!) and ran from the parade to the Haunted mansion and walked right in. It was a great strategy. We followed the HM with Mickey's Philharmagic (gotta sit sometime) and then several things happened in some order I can't remember: we ate ice cream went to ride Space Mountain ( I rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority while Tuan did SM), then met up and rode the Tomorrowland Transit Authority again (!!!!!!), the Carousel of Progress, and headed back to Frontierland for Supper (at Pecos Bill), the Spectromagic parade (really, really neat) and fireworks.

By then it was late. We walked around the park via Adventureland and were excited to discover that Pirates and the Jungle Cruise had no waiting. (!!!!) The Jungle Cruise was surprisingly fun at night. Pirates is always fun. After that it was really late, so we ran through some shops on Main Street for final souvenirs and headed back to the room around eleven.

We packed up, showered and around 12:45 got in bed. The shuttle had to be caught at 3:30, which meant we needed to wake up around 2:45. Yuck. The smartest thing would have been to stay awake, but I crashed, then Tuan. We did make our shuttle, which ran late due to brake problems. We dozed on the bus, checked in, ate breakfast, I dozed in the terminal, then caught our flight, dozed in the air and landed in Jackson at 7:30 Sunday morning. I don't remember much about the airport as I was asleep (and drooling nontheless!) the entire time. Sleeping in small bursts over a six hour period is not at all restful and we returned home haggard with a children's Christmas program to put on that night. Still, we were SO ready and excited to see J and A. Although we were glad to be home, Disney was a really wonderful, marvelous trip. I'm looking forward to going back with the kids and sharing in all of the fun with them. Now I have better expectations of what we can do with them.
Thank you all for bearing with these posts. I wrote them mainly for myself, to remember. Now I can get back to recipes and things of Domestic Import.