Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Advent Emerging

   I love the image below by Rockwell. Do you see St. Nick's book has only the words "Good Boys" on it? The hysterical implication is all girls are good, but that good boys can be confined to a single volume.

   From previous experience, I proffer that good boys may be hard to find in art museums near Christmas, and that Christmas does not always bring out the best of good girls nor their mothers!
   As for Advent: It's been a month. J has worked 3 weeks straight, 12 hour days (at least) with 1 day off. He's ready for a much needed break; we are ready for his presence with us. 

   Yet God's grace sustains us. God's grace holds us close. It helps us do the next thing, share the next word, and shop and wrap joy. We walk into the dark holding the light.
       We began advent with our favorite German inspired advent walk.
       But we also began advent with the loss of another lamb.
      And the terror that comes with watching a cougar haul off a precious lamb while your son plays soccer nearby cannot be described. And it occurred within 90 minutes of sharing these words with someone I love:

The wolf will live with the lamb,
    the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
    and a little child will lead them.

  There is a battle between light and dark. Winter solstice has come and gone, and so too the darkness must give way to the light. The darkness hasn't a choice, dear ones. The light is coming, and it comes from a single source.

   Yes, this December, we have dashed the mouth of the lion. We overcame through Christ - it is He who shuts the mouth of the lion from our children, and pays the cost Himself. He is the Lamb of GodDo you see?

   Through Him alone, we celebrate amidst the pouring rain, dark days, and loss. Through the lashing wind and rain, He emerges, He is enough, and He is good.
      And His rainbows this month? There have been too many to count!
   And Sunday, we finally made it to a local tree farm to cut a massive Nordmann. She's 10' tall and drinks like an elephant. I do miss the fir smell which Nordmann's lack, but maybe this is your tree if you have allergies.
   Note to self: A tree with a 5" diameter base in a 6" diameter tree stand means watering every few hours. Brother has been using his hydrodynamics water works to keep her full up. It has been a great gift which has lasted years.
   We have settled into baking and are working on peppermint bark, chocolate gingerbread cookies, baklava, and chocolate peppermint crackles. The kids are really enjoying audible Cinnamon Bear stories while they bake, and make origami decorations for the Christmas tree. We are keeping it very low key this year for everyone. 

  More and more, we are moving toward home made presents and giving the gift of our time and presence. We cannot buy what truly counts. We can only give it.

   There will be a few small things under the tree. We will see if this and this is a hit. I hope so! 

    She offered up songs in the middle school Christmas Cantata. It was wonderful to see her sing with joy after being so sick last year. God is exceedingly gracious. 
   We took in White Christmas at The Gallery Theatre in McMinnville. Darling. They've watched a White Christmas too many times to count, and yesterday watched The Christmas Story. We are writing stories all around us, living stories, breathing stories, and we are being invited into the One's story.

   I keep coming back to Rohr's words during our advent devotional times: Jesus did not come to change God's mind about humanity, but to change humanity's mind about God.
   For those of you facing loss this month: One day, in Him, we will gain those we have lost. When the dawn of new time arises, our lanterns we will lay down. We won't need them - the world will give way to the Light. 

   Even now, all earth speaks to His birth and resurrection - if only we would believe. If only we would ask for eyes with which to see.

   Wishing you a blessed Advent, and the awareness and awe of His glory emerging. 

~ Kim

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Remedy by Thomas Goetz

      Miss Conolly's fall writing has been a fairly grim endeavor. Around here, a steady writing lull has only been exceeded by a steady rain. She did complete a paper on Vermeer and a fiction piece called Sweet Crime. Of course, a crook covered in sugar from head to toe and partaking of sweet shop doughnuts is a sweet crime indeed. I keep reminding myself that Rod and Staff 7 is a full grammar and writing curricula, and we are doing that. Thankfully, she just finished a book review for The Remedy. Enjoy!
The Remedy Book Report

     The Remedy, by Thomas Goetz, is about Tuberculosis and the quest to find a cure. On the whole, it is a very interesting book, but in some places, it is unfortunately necessary to wade through chest-high tediousness to get to the interesting parts. German physician Robert Koch, French chemist Louis Pasteur, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a medical doctor before he began writing full-time, are all included in this captivating book. With excellent documentation of medical issues that were controversial at the time, this book will interest both those with an understanding of healthcare and laymen alike. Learn about the origins of microbes, antiseptic, and  “germ theory”  in this enjoyable read!

All  Those Little Idiocracies
      Pasteur disliked shaking hands. Koch was seriously introverted. Conan Doyle was a doctor, even though he wanted to be  a writer. Everyone has their “thing”.  Often one’s “thing” is just that: a silly little thing. But these guys…. Well, Pasteur was a germophobe, of all things, yet he upheld the “germ theory”. He actually advocated for the existence of germs- and he did things (like dissecting anthrax infected carcasses) in his lab that were a lot germier than shaking hands. Dr. Robert Koch, for all the wonderful work he and his lab staff did, was completely, hopelessly, introverted. When he was called on to speak at a medical conference, the people in the front row had to strain their ears to hear him! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle practiced as a doctor, but what he wished to do was write! Of course, there are also silly things that whole people groups do. For instance, if you see a red lamp in Britain, you have located a doctor. Here’s another strange fact: It typically takes approximately 17 years for a lab breakthrough to become a common medical procedure, a reality that could certainly create some very annoyed patients. Everyone and everything appears to have something a little crazy defining them.

Everyone Has Rivals
Contemporaries, Pasteur and Koch were rivals from the time Koch became known for his discovery of anthrax baccillus. With national pressure thrown in, both of them raced to find the cause and develop a cure for diseases such as anthrax. Koch provided some rather heated words on the topic of Pasteur’s ability to grow anthrax bacteria, but Pasteur was the one to develop a vaccine for anthrax. While Pasteur may have used control groups in his experiments,  small-town, back country Koch was the one to develop the revolutionary lab procedures and techniques that are standard today.   It’s strange how things work sometimes. Even though they were both working for a common goal, Pasteur and Koch were personal enemies!

        When Robert Koch emerged from the German countryside, no one expected him

to build up his reputation, only to strike it down. Koch pretended that he had

found the cure for Tuberculosis, but what he actually found was tuberculin, a

substance that did nothing to strike down this particularly vicious disease. Sir Conan

Doyle realized the substance for what it was, and somehow learned through the

process of discovery that his destiny was to be the author of the Sherlock Holmes

series. Somehow amid all the scientific turmoil of the time, people were able to

document this time period for what it was: an amazing Golden Age of Discovery.    

That is the essence of Remedy,: the fascinating story of Sherlock Holmes, Tuberculosis,

and the race to find a cure for a deadly disease. Read on!
     Next up, she begins working on the biography of a woman mathematician. She will submit it in mid-January to the Association of Women in Mathematics Essay Contest. Tomorrow, she will need to take the leap to begin connecting with some women mathematicians. Write on!