Thursday, August 31, 2006

Changing Seasons

Sometimes I blog to think something through, sometimes to share a thought or a discovery or a sermon, sometimes to highlight an injustice, sometimes to share something funny and sometimes just to write because I like to write, and I like to take pictures. Sometimes I blog because it is my life. This is one of those, so you've been warned.

About two weeks ago I sat on the deck with my mother, as we often do. It was a warm 82 degrees. But there was the feel of autumn--that indefinable something that lets us know summer is ending. It's a dryness in the air, a certain crispness to the breeze even when it is warm. I had just purchased a pot of chrysantemums and decided to take a picture of my mother, looking bright in her purple pants suit. "Fall is coming," she said just before I snapped this picture.

One week ago I was returning from a very quick trip to Minnesota where I had gone to help my daughter paint the nursery-in-the-making. We had a good time shopping for paint and various items to decorate the room--and a few maternity clothes too. She showed me ultra sound pictures and we laughed together over one that clearly revealed a tiny foot (but large in proportion to the leg). "She is going to have big feet!" and "Look, you can even see the arch and the high instep." Another showed her face in profile and we agreed that she has her daddy's (not tiny) nose! It was remarkable and exciting.

As I was driving home I got a call that my mother had tripped over the garden hose and fallen, raising a horrific lump on her head and splitting her palm wide open. She got stiched up in the ER, but the next day, after a bad night of confusion, we admitted her to the hospital. Yesterday she was discharged to a nearby nursing home. They will be doing a bit of occupational and physical therapy, but the biggest problem is confusion. I'm not at all sure she will be coming home, though she is planning on it. Last night we took her little cat in for a visit and the two of them snuggled up contentedly. I wish I could have left the cat with her.

Today I visited. She thinks she has been there a week and I have not stopped in. She seems to think every voice in the hallway is me, and the staff reported that she was searching for me all day.

I do not know if she will improve. I washed all her bedding and cleaned up her room a bit, but I do not know if she will ever spend much time in it again.

This happened quickly. And not quickly.

This morning I photographed berries and flowers in the backyard. Glancing at the deck I thought of the day, earlier this summer when we sat on the deck and I posted about it here. The flowers are changing. The seasons are changing. My life is changing too.

I'm trying to take one day at a time. I'm all right.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Silver Cliff Part I: The Mandolin Man

Hey, Mr. Mandolin Man, play a song for me....apologies to Bob Dylan...

A couple of weeks ago we spent three days near Silver Cliff, a "wide spot in the road" quite far north of the city of Green Bay. It felt like I finished the week of vacation that was interrupted last time. This time there was no "public" to speak of, just a bunch of people (about 30 lodges) playing "make-believe" (see the post below--I used to like to do that and I guess I still do) and having fun together. Much2Ponder and her husband, Little Too Much, went too, as well as J. and M. who are new to our church but not to fur trade reenacting. Wisconsin's "north woods" consists of miles and miles of forest and an occasional meadow...dotted here and there by tiny towns. It extends across most of the northern areas of the state. We drove through deep woods to the site, a beautiful place far from lights and traffic and noise. More about that later, but this post is about The Mandolin Man.

The Mandolin Man is not singing here. He is concentrating.

One sunny morning I strolled down the row of lodges and heard music with an Irish lilt. I stopped, and there sat an old man who looked like he was too frail to stand up. His skin, which looks pink enough in the picture, was white like parchment. He sat under the awning of a small lodge, plucking a mandolin like a professional, along with a younger man playing a fiddle and another playing a guitar.

Intrigued, I stopped. The Mandolin Man was clearly in charge of the trio of musicians. He looked fragile, but charmingly dapper in his vest and derby. "May I sit and listen?" I asked. No response. He looked right at me, so I spoke a bit louder, "MAY I SIT DOWN?" No response. His wife kindly said, "He doesn't see you or hear you."

I thought that was strange, and I wondered how a blind and deaf man could still play together with others so beautifully. "Have a seat" she offered, and I did, tucking my long skirt around me on the wooden bench.

When the song ended the old man seemed to see me for the first time. "Hello! I beg your pardon, madam" he said. "When I play I see the song in my mind. I did not realize you were here. I see the notes; I see the frets and the strings of my mandolin; I see and I hear just the song, understand?" I didn't, but I said I did, to be polite. He was a delight to talk with, and he even, somewhat reluctantly, allowed me to inspect his instrument--a beautiful, custom-made and hand-painted creation of gleaming red wood . He breathed a soft sigh of relief when I gently handed it back to him. He told me he had been playing the old songs, Irish and Russian mostly, for many years. After about half an hour I reluctantly left, but I could hear the music as I walked back to our lodge.

Sitting by a fire that evening, I thought about his single-minded focus on his mandolin and his wonderful music. How could he not even see me?

My prayer, God, is that I may seek you first, with the same kind of focus. That I will see and hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. I don't want to shut people out, but I do want to be able to turn my heart to you with no distractions. I want you to mean so much to me that all else fades, like the old chorus says:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in his wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of his glory and grace.

And when that happens, Lord, may my life provide spiritual music as sweet and uplifting as the music of the Mandolin Man.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Easing Back Into the Blog

Many things have been happening, and I have had no time to blog. Thanks, Rev Abi, for tagging me for this meme--to extol the God-prints in my life. It is just the ticket to get me thinking about what is valuable.

1. A friend who has blessed me:

I can't mention just one...let me think...

Loretta Q., a beautiful Navajo/Hopi who was my buddy all through junior high and high school.
Pat M., who was my friend when no one else wanted to be, and who in a roundabout way led me to my future husband.
Maggie from Maryland, who prayed and encouraged and laughed with me.
Ruthie H. who helped me think and see in new ways and who led me to CBE.
Many cyber-buddies who have enriched my life, TL, Dr. Platypus, Jeannie, Galina, the Rev Gals and more.
Pat (much2ponder), who is my sister-in-Christ, my friend, tells me the truth, and loves me.

And many more.

One who is coming to mind right now is my old neighbor, George B. George, are you out there somewhere? I moved away at age 11, but before that we were companions in many make-believe adventures. We turned an old chicken coop into a house, a hideout, a ship, a dungon, a teepee, a fort, and more. We played cowboys and indians, pirates, Robin Hood, school, Hansel and Gretel....George was a sweet, smart and funny boy who was belittled and not valued much at home. I loved him and I missed him when we moved away, and I've never forgotten that he never made fun of me, never made me feel inferior and never took joy in someone else's pain. I hope he grew up to marry a lovely woman who saw his value and his good heart. He would be about 55 or so now. How strange!

2. An unexpected gift:

My husband and my family. There was a time I thought I'd never find anyone.

3. A kind word shared with me recently:

All the comments to my "Juxtaposition" post below.

4. Something that makes me stop and praise God:

Music. And nature--sunshine, birdsong, the smell of grass, flowers, frost--sometimes even snow.

5. Something I’m looking forward to:

That is easy! The birth of my first grandchild, Trinity Ann, due January 2nd. More about that in a future post.

6. A particular part of me I’m pleased with:

That is hard. I'm not pleased with much about me. I'll joy in being alive, learning new things, seeing new things, thinking in new ways.

7. Something in my life I wanted but never expected:

To be a pastor.

8. A place that moved/moves me:

The mountains. I grew up surrounded by them, and I miss them greatly. I love being in mountains, and I actually feel physically and emotionally better when I'm several thousand feet up. I don't see mountains often, but they actually can make me teary-eyed. One of my devotions in "Ordinary Time" (see sidebar) is about that. I'll post it when the time comes.

9. One thing/person that always makes me smile:

It used to be my sister. Now she is a victim of Alzheimers, and thinking of her makes me cry instead.

Nancy, a woman at my church, always makes me smile. She is full of joy, even in adversity. She cries easily, but she smiles easily too, and her smile lights up the room.

10. Most recent “love note” from God:

I have a hard time recognizing those. See number 6. I know that God is sending them to me all the time. A song...nature...a sense of God's presence in worship...people.

And now it’s my turn to tag: You feel like playing? Go for it, and let me know.

Thanks, Abi, for helping to turn my thoughts upward.

Monday, August 21, 2006


What nice comments to my last post. And thanks to all who remembered us in prayer. I'll be away from the blog for a week or so, but will have things to share when I get back.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


What a strange time.

My mother is increasingly confused and her memory is slipping away day by day, it seems. She recently had another small stroke--not enough to incapacitate her--just enough to take another piece of her functioning. She's having a series of these.

She is forgetting people she knows well, forgetting to eat, forgetting what day it is. Sunday she was quite distressed about this, knowing it was happening to her, but powerless to do anything about the fog in which she was enveloped. She said to me, "Something has happened to my mind. I am just blank." I explained what was happening, as simply as I could, but in about 3 minutes she said again, "Something is happening to my mind."

A very sad time, and a waiting time. Will she improve (she has in the past) or will she continue to slip away, bit by bit? I'm at home instead of at church because she is very confused this morning. I think I can go soon though. She is out in the sunshine pulling weeds--always a good sign.

A few days ago my pregnant daughter called. She'd just had her second ultra sound, and now we know

It's a girl!

So this little life inside her has a name, Trinity Ann. Mom-to-be laughed happily as she described how the technician would get things set, trying to get good pictures of organs. Then an arm or a leg would flail, and once the baby did a complete flip. The tech told her, "This is a very active little fetus. Get ready for an interesting time with this one!" Daddy had his first experience feeling a "bump" as he placed his hand on my daughter's tummy.

My mother had picked up the other phone, so she heard the conversation. After we hung up, she said, "So a baby is on the way? I didn't know that! Won't that be fun? We will all have the experience of seeing this little one grow." She had forgotten about the pregnancy.

"Yes" I replied. "It will be wonderful to have a little child around. And we will all see her grow up."

Hope springs eternal. My mother still somehow believes she will live forever. And she will--just not here.

It is a strange mix of emotions, this watching life about to begin and life about to end.


Is everyone else unable to post pictures, or is it just me?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

There Goes a Perfect Example!

Those of you who are reading this because you know me from the Egalitarian Christian Alliance (ECA), may recall me posting in the past about a former (I kept them anonymous) pastor of ours and his wife. His wife is now ordained and serving as one of the church's associate pastors. We attended this church for many years.

I have mentioned that I once preached a sermon there titled, "How to Support Your Husband" which included the point that the husband was the "priest of the home." When I found those sermon notes a few years ago I shed a few tears of shame and tossed them in the trash. But I digress.

This wonderful ministry couple are our friends as well as our former pastors. They were my classic example of a couple who lived as egalitarians, (equal partners, submitting to one another, no struggles about who was in charge, both leading as the situation called for it) but spoke as complimentarians. At one time I did too (obviously) or I would not have preached that very unscriptural sermon. After Ken and I learned "a more excellent way" (lol) we began to note that our pastor couple spoke of male authority, of the husband's "headship," of the wife's role and the husband's role, and of the wife's need to always submit to the husband, but (as far as we could tell) lived their lives as egalitarians. They have a great marriage.
Many AG people, including some of our leadership, at least theoretically support women in ministry but become very Southern Baptist in their thinking when it comes to marriage and male versus female roles in the home.

Note: The Assemblies of God has an excellent position paper titled, "The Role of Women in Ministry" and while the focus of the paper is not marriage, it briefly does support egalitarian marriage.*

It is really too bad that almost no one (including most of our pastors) seems to know it exists, much less has read it.
Well, all that to say....I've lost my classic example.

Last night...well, let me set the scene. SO is me (SingingOwl). The other names are out of my head, but the women are very real. Sue is my former pastor's wife. Of the four women three are married and one is single.

SO, Sue, Jane, and Betty are four pastors attending a one-day training which requires an overnight stay at our district campground. It is 10 p.m. and they are wearing comfy pajamas. SO's are pink and have sheep on them, since she is a pastor. SO, Betty, Jane and Sue are in their beds, conversing happily away about many things. Then...

Betty: Someone asked me how I could pastor a church and be submissive to my husband's authority. I said that at the church I am the pastor and so in authority, but at home I submit to him because he is the one in charge in our house.

SO: (thinking to self) Hmmm. I used to say that very same thing!

Sue: I don't believe that.

SO: (looks at Sue in surprise) You don't? (smiles) Me neither.

Betty: What? You don't?

Jane: Why not?

Sue: I think marriage should not be about who is in charge. I think marriage is partnership.

SO: Actually the Bible does not say the husband is in authority.

Betty: Sure it does.

So: No, actually it doesn't.

Betty: The Bible says the husband is the spiritual authority in the home, and that the husband is the priest in the home. He is the leader of the home.

Jane: Right.

SO: Actually it doesn't. There is no scripture that says the husband is the priest of the home. The Bible speaks of the Aaronic and the Levitical priesthood in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament it speaks of the priesthood of all believers. All. No scriptue says that the husband is a priest in a different way than the wife, or the children for that matter, if they are believers. No scripture says the man must always lead, for that matter.

Betty: Well, he has the spiritual authority in the home.

Sue and SO together: You have authority too.

Betty: Well, where do they get that? Why do they say that then?

SO: Because, like the four of us, they heard it so many times they believed it without ever realizing that the Bible does not say that.

Jane: It doesn't?

Betty: There has to be order in the home. The Bible says the man is the head. He is the leader and the protector of the woman. I told my daughter that when she is in our home she is under her father's spiritual authority but when she marries that authority will be transferred to her husband, who will then be her authority and protector and leader.

Jane: Right.

SO: That's not in the New Testament. That is patriarchy, a flawed system. Just take a close look at those families in the Old Testament. They are God's people, but boy are their marriages and families a mess.
Love and respect will certainly require that our husbands be protective at us at times, but scripture does not say that his role is to be the authority and the protector. I agree that there must be order in the home, but it won't all fall apart if leadership and responsiblity is shared. We all want our husbands to be strong men of faith. But do you need leading all the time? And what about Jane here, who has no father and no husband?

Betty: Well, she is...

Sue: (emphatically interrupts) Actually, I can't stand that teaching!

SO: (surprised again) Really? Me neither.

Sue: I told my dauhter that stuff about their dad and their future husband. I set them up to be passive. Thankfully, they are strong girls. And recently I had to tell both my daughters that I was wrong to tell them that. That I meant well, but that I was wrong. Their husbands are not in authority over them. Marriage is not about authority. And their dad isn't either, except as a parent who cares and loves them. As parents, both my husband and I had authority in our home. We were partners in loving and disciplining and rearing our children.

Betty: The husband is the head. So he is the authority.

SO: gives a very short explanation of kephale (see footnote below) and how metaphors in English don't necessarily mean the same in another language, how the Pauline Epistles use words other than "head" (kephale) speaking of the leader, those in authority....etc.

Sue: Yeah! I was trying to remember that stuff!

Betty: Silent, seems a bit frustrated.

Jane: Silent, seems to be thinking.

SO: Sue, why did you have to tell DD 1 and DD 2 that you were wrong? I did the same with my daughter too, but what brought you to that realization?

Sue: I read a book by Dr. Barbara Caveness and Dr. Debbie Gill called "God's Women Then and Now." I read it and it was like a light went on, and I said to my husband, "You have got to read this! This is what the Bible really teaches. This is truth."

SO: Did he read it?

Sue: (Smiling) Yep! Men need to know this as much as women do!
SO: (grins broadly, keeps silent)

Jane: I might have to get that book.

Betty: I already have a copy, signed by Debbie Gill. But I haven' t read it.

SO and Sue: (in chorus) Please, read it!

The conversation turned to I mean the conversation turned to other spiritual things.

SO: Goes to sleep, thanking God with a glad heart, listening to Jane, Betty and Sue snore softly. ;-)

There went my example of a conservative, evangelical couple who live as egalitarians but speak like complimentarians.


If you would like to read more about what I think the Bible actually teaches about husbands and wives, (as well as women in leadership) go to Christians for Biblical Equality. The Statement on Men, Women and Biblical Equality changed my life and marriage. There are many excellent articles available there as well.

You can purchase "God's Women Then and Now" from CBE's bookstore (Equality Depot) or from

* The following is quoted from "The Role of Women in Ministry." The bold print emphasis is mine.

First Corinthians 11:3-12

The statement that "the man is the head of the woman" has for centuries been used to justify the practice of male superiority and to exclude women from spiritual leadership. Two alternative translations for kephale ("head"), debated widely by contemporary evangelical scholars, are (1) "authority over" and (2) "source" or "origin." Both meanings can be found in literature of Paul's time. Taking the passage as a whole, the second meaning fits as well as or better than the first meaning, leading to the summary statement of verse 12: "As the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things [are] of God."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Team Hoyt

All right. Thanks to Amy, I get it. The video posted below ("I Can Only Imagine") is of the Hoyts. If you watch this one first, and then go to the post below and watch the next one, it will all make more sense.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I Can Only Imagine

Have you been complaining about life recently?

This is a link to a video that made me cry a little, and then stop what I was doing and give thanks to God, followed by some other kinds of prayer for the people in the video.

You see, I have cerebral palsy, and with just a bit more pressure during my birth, these pictures could have been me.

It is one thing for me to imagine life without limits, but how must it be for these precious people?

Monday, August 07, 2006

On Being Pentecostal and Emergent

Thanks to a link over at Dr. Platypus' place, I read Bryan Thomson's' brief essay on being Pentecostal and Emergent.. I shouted "Amen, and Glory Hallelujah!" and did a charismatic bunny hop.

Okay, I didn't. :-)

But I knew a kindred soul when I read the article. If you are interested even slightly in how being Pentecostal or Charismatic and Emergent might work, you might want to take a look. If you think Pentecostal means (as I once thought) long hair, no makeup, legalism, shallow theology, and general goofiness, you also might want to look. At first your suspicions will be confirmed, but read to the end.

If you have read my profile or have read this blog for a while you know that I consider myself, among other things, to be a Pentecostal and a bit Emergent as well. My church is heading that direction--on purpose.

And here is some of what I posted as a comment to Dr. P.'s post (slightly changed).

Now THAT was a great article. Oh how I wish more people had his perspective. I hate to use the word “Pentecostal” sometimes. I know what images come to mind—and I’m about as far from Robert Tilton as I can possibley get without falling off the opposite edge.

I also deplore the “me centered” words of songs , and prayers, and much else. Our worship leader and I had a conversation about this once– but do you know how hard it is to find contemporary worship music that is COMMUNITY focused? (Almost impossible.)
But I love the way his article ends. I have one teensy weensy disagreement that is so insignificant that I won’t mention it. But I will mention that Leonard Sweet recently told some Pentecostal leaders that if we would get our act together and avoid the “fringe” elements (that almost seem to be the center)–okay that last part was me–anyway that we were ideally suited to reach a postmodern generation.

We are already experienced focused. Yes, a bit too much. A lot too much in some places. The hollering evangelists who have no depth will not get the job done, but perhaps some of us can do better.

I've felt God's presence in many places. A Catholic retreat center, an Ash Wednesday service at a nearby Presbyterian Church, a large gathering of women from several denominations (I was the only Pentecostal)--so many places. It is my personal belief that one of the primary ways we prepare our hearts and minds to "hear" God is simply to expect. Expectancy is a precious gift that I gained as part of my shift to the Pentecostal part of the Church of Jesus Christ. I hope I keep that sense of waiting for God no matter where I am. But I thank God that some precious Catholic Chariismatic women (mostly military wives) and a crusty southern (and very traditional) Assemblies of God pastor helped me gain that valuable awareness. Thank you, Lord, for those very different people who shaped my awareness of the work of the Holy Spirit.

I hope I never say "Gawd." If I do, and you are pesent, you can "smack me upside ma haid" as that same Pentecostal preacher used to say. LOL!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Chaplain's Convention Part Two: "One of the 1.6 Percent"

We are encouraged to attend the chaplain's conventions every year, but we had not been for about five years. I had forgotten what these conferences are like. The chaplains are a diverse group. There were many military chaplains present, looking sharp in their uniforms and sporting "high and tight" haircuts. There were health care chaplains, corrections chaplains and institutional chaplains. The group included a rodeo chaplain, a racetrack chaplain, a biker chaplain and more. It is fun to try to guess people's vocations by their clothes or hair. There is a fair percentage of women in our chaplaincy ministry. I wonder why that is more acceptable than women in the pastorate?

I intended to skip almost all of the meetings and spend time alone, but the main speaker was
Dave Roever. Dave is a Vietnam veteran who was horribly burned in the war, but he has turned his significant suffering into an asset. I love the guy, even though I don't agree with everything he says, and I had to listen to him! He is a man with a large, tender heart under a rather blunt, and very funny manner.

Then I discovered, to my delight, that Dr. Deborah Gill was a speaker. I've posted about her before. She has many impressive credentials, but she is warm and personable and has the most lovely and genuine smile. I don't know if I've ever met a person who personifies joy like this woman does. She is presently teaching at the AG seminary in Springfield. Anyway, I couldn't miss her either! And God blessed me in different and unexpected ways through both of these people. Here I am with "Dr. Debbie." I should have removed my name tag.

She sat at my table at lunch as introduced me to others by saying, "This is Pastor SingingOwl who is one of the 1.6% of female senior pastors in the Assemblies of God." (I did not know this.) She repeated that phrase a couple more times that day.

If I remember correctly, about 13% of our clergy are women, mostly serving as associate pastors working with children, youth or other areas. While I am glad for this, I also felt sad to realize that such a tiny percentage were senior pastors. When I mentioned that there are six of us in the Wisconsin/Northern Michigan district, I got looks of surprise that the number was so large! Large? One person said, "Well, I think there is one in ________." I forget what state.

Later we had the nice experience of sharing dinner with a young man who used to be part of our congregation in Wisconsin. His new wife joined us as well, and it was so good to hear of God's continued work in their lives. I forgot the camera, or I'd show you how cute they are. I love that guy!

Another meal was shared with our friends, Dr. James Hernando and his wife Moira. Dr. Hernando teaches Hermeneutics and New Testament classes at AGTS. As an undergrad at Trinity Bible College, he was the toughest professor I had, but I remember the most from his classes. We have remained somewhat in touch over the years, and we try to connect when we are in Springfield.

Here we are at sunset, standing outside a nice restaurant (the name of which I do not recall) where the music was subdued and there was nary a platter of okra nor a roll in sight. The food was good, and the company was too. Yes, there is a connection to the "1.6 percent of women senior pastors."

When my husband called Jim and Moira to confirm dinner plans they spent a few moments catching up. Of course, I only heard one side of the conversation. It went something like this. "Yes, we are all well...yes, I'm still at the prison....15 years...time are you two and the boys?...["the boys" are three impressive Hernando offspring, all grown and blazing a trail of brilliance]...our kids are doing fine...SingingOwl is pastoring a church...what?...Assemblies of God, of course....Jim, you know we have women pastors....well, yeah, not very many....

At dinner I couldn't resist teasing our friend a bit that his first reaction was to ask what kind of church I served. He said, "Well, I know we have women pastors, but it sure is unusual." I shared Dr. Debbie's 1.6 introductions. Later he said, smiling, "Well, since there are only 1.6 percent women pastors in the Assemblies of God, I have never had the privilege of speaking with one. Tell me, how is it for you?" I shared a bit and the conversation turned to other things.

I lay in bed later, thinking of the events of the day and talking to God about them. I realized that I was actually very sad. I did not realize that I really am quite so unusual. Of course, I think this should not be so. But it got me pondering...

Why was I sad?

Is it really a problem that 98.4% of AG pastors are male, or that only about 9% of all Protestant senior pastors in the USA are women? (The UCC and the Methodists are doing their part!)

If it is a problem, why? If not, why not?

I must stop and go to the grocery store and think of simple things like which ears of corn look the best.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Chaplain's Conference Part One: The Home of the Throwed Rolls

It is almost midnight, but since I'm not sleeping I decided to blog. I wonder if it is like counting sheep? I'll start with the silly stuff and move on the the serious stuff.

What IS that unbelievable racket?

Thursday morning we left much later than planned, due to some complications at home. Thus, we arrived in Springfield quite late, missing the "Meet and Greet." Oh phooey. (Not really. I was relieved, not being a fan of gatherings where I must mingle with strangers.)

We parked the van and stepped out into oppressive heat and humidity. Trees flanked the hotel entrance; the lobby glowed with warm colors and attractive lighting, and I could see glimpses of striking artwork. As I stepped onto the brick patio in front of the doors, I heard the sounds of classical music piped over a speaker. Waiting with our luggage, I stretched my back and thought, 'This is a very nice place. That sounds like..." Suddenly zzzzzzZZZZZZZZZaaaaAAAAA--a thousand cicadas simultaneously erupted in sound! I jumped in surprise. Chopin's "Nocturne" was completely drowned out by the insistent, LOUD buzzing. "Well, I'm back in the South!" I thought. "Wisconsin sure doesn't sound like this."


Some other observations on Yankee versus Southern:

WI towns are neat and clean. MO towns are less so.

MO yards have trees and grass. WI yards do too, but most also have flowers. I noted that very few people had flower beds or hanging baskets or pots of flowers. In Wisconsin, many home and every business or church or civic building has flowers at the entrance or on the porch. The police station has flowers. I suppose this is because we only see them for 3 or 4 months a year. We get tired of white and grey, and we want color while we can get it!

WI people have Labrador retrievers. MO people have hounds and terriers.

In MO the waitress asks, "Would you folks care for anything else? Some more coffee, or some dessert?" In WI the waitress asks, "Do you want anything else at all?"

In MO the women wear skirts, heels, make up, and jewelry. In WI the women wear jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes. In MO the men wear golf shirts and slacks. In WI the men wear jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes.

Many WI people are overweight. This is a result of eating cheese and bratwurst and drinking beer. Many MO people are overweight. This is a result of eating fried chicken, mashed potatoes, country gravy, hot bread, chocolate cake and drinking sweet iced tea. (No, my matronly figure does not come from beer.)

WI people drink beer and Mt. Dew or Pepsi. MO people drink Dr. Pepper or iced tea.

MO towns have lots of churches. WI towns have lots of bars. I thought Springfield must be a great place to live, what with all the churches. But I also noted a slew of "adult" bookstores, and I saw that the strip club on the main drag in Springfield still seems to be doing a great business. Hmm.....

Our area of Wisconsin has lots of technical colleges. Springfield has so many institutions of higher learning (including the University of MO and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary) that I lost count. Perhaps all the colleges are the reason for the strip club? Sigh.

Churches in Wisconsin, for the most part, seem to be using the NIV or some other more contemporary translation. Many churches in MO seem to be of the "if-the-King-James-Bible-was-good-enough-for-Paul-it-is-good-enough-for me variety. Churches in Wisconsin are overwhelmingly Catholic or Lutheran. Churches in MO are overwhelmingly Baptist, Methodist and various stripes of Pentecostals.

A Visit to Lambert's

A not-to-be missed experience when visiting Springfield is a trip to Lambert's, "The Home of the Throwed Rolls." We arrived at noon on Saturday and waited and waited and waited some more. It's worth it, and the people-watching helps the time go by. In the first two minutes I saw two really sorry t-shirts. I guess sometimes MO women wear t-shirts too. One had two large jug pictures placed strategically on the front of the shirt. Whatever. The next was on a senior citizen, and my first glimpse was from a distance, causing my mouth to drop. Then I took a second look and realized it was a shirt, not the real thing. The shirt pictured a voluptuous female body, front view and back view depending on which way the wearer stood. The body was scantily clad in a crocheted thong bikini. Argh. I later saw two other large family members wearing slightly different versions of this charming shirt. DH looked, looked at me and rolled his eyes, whispering, "now that's attractive." They had several little girls with them.

Women, do not work at perpetuating stereotypes and making us look foolish!

We were entertained by the children, parents, teens and old people. It was fun listening to accents too, some southern, but not all. It is a big tourist place.

I cheated. I pretended to be taking Ken's picture, but really I wanted to capture this "Ozark" guy! He looked down just at the wrong moment, but you get the idea. Outside, he had been wearing a large, broad-brimmed hat, and he looked like a photograph from a book!

Inside Lambert's the walls are covered with a collection of license plates, and the place is a wonderland of antiques, old photos and interesting junk. The servers are good, the atmosphere is noisy and fun, and the dance-party music plays non stop. I decided the subliminal message was, "Come in, have fun, eat fast, move out." My feet tapped the entire meal to the mix of oldies, pops and r and b.

The food is so southern as to be stereotypical. It is wonderful. Well, it tastes wonderful. I hate to think of what it was doing inside our arteries. The menu includes lots of entrees and so many "side orders" I couldn't choose for a while. Then there are the "pass arounds" which the servers bring in tin buckets, calling out the selections as they make the rounds of the wooden booths. Choices include all-you-can-hold of fried okra (yum), fried potatoes, fried cinnamon apples, pinto beans, macaroni and tomatoes, gravy, sorghum (who eats that?) and the famous "throwed rolls." These come out of the kitchen piping hot. They are large, yeasty, soft--and the servers will not hand you one. They throw them to you. No exceptions.

Note the meals served in skillets, and the enormous glasses of iced tea. Ken is about to bite into one of the famous throwed rolls. (Why does he look like he only has one tooth?) Our friendly waitress informed us that in seven years at Lambert's she had only served 32 desserts. No kidding!

There was one BIG problem at Lamberts. What do you suppose was on the table to spread on the rolls? Margarine! That is just wrong. I mean, it's not like we are trying to avoid calories, what with the the fried everything and the size of the servings! Country Crock on those rolls should be against the law. Next time I may bring my own butter!

I'm at the exit, and I'm full. It is bad to go to this place too often, I've been told. I don't doubt it! I have lost about 10 lbs in recent weeks, and I probably gained half of it back.