28 March 2006

May I Refresh Your Cup?

As a part of our homeschool unit on Honor, we've been learning about etiquette and manners. One way to honor others is to treat them with kindness and gentility. And what better way to practice kindness and gentility than to invite your friends over for a tea party?

19 March 2006

Tupperware Drawer Blog Parade

Meet my Tupperware drawer.

- Nice and low to the floor, where Anna can strew it's contents far and wide.
- Slightly disorganized, which gives me a weird sense of freedom- to have at least one area of my kitchen that doesn't have to be neat. :)
- The only actual brand name Tupperware in the entire drawer is a set of Mickey Mouse popsicle sticks. A throw back from my youth. Ahhh, the liquids my brothers and I attempted to make popsicles out of...
- Why show you my Tupperware drawer? Because we can't be serious ALL the time.

If you own a blog (and don't mind a giant plastic speed bump in your oh-so-serious blogosphere), introduce the cyber-world to your Tupperware drawer! Leave us an invitation and your blog link in the comments area.

You'll be glad you did. I'm just sure of it.

11 March 2006

Pottery, Pain and Pastiche

I found this porcelain dish at Goodwill for $1. Perfect for a homeschool object lesson.

Job was a man who lived in Uz. He was honest inside and out, a man of his word, who was totally devoted to God and hated evil with a passion. He had seven sons and three daughters. He was also very wealthy--seven thousand head of sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, five hundred donkeys, and a huge staff of servants--the most influential man in all the East!
GOD said to Satan, "Have you noticed my friend Job? There's no one quite like him--honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil."
God considered Job a beautiful and useful piece of pottery. Worth showing off! (We showed off our dish by serving grapes and apple slices in it.)

Satan retorted, "So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does--he can't lose!
But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He'd curse you right to your face, that's what."
My paraphrase: "Of course you keep the fancy china on the top shelf and handle it with kid gloves. Try puttin' that puppy in the oven and see what happens!"

GOD replied, "We'll see. Go ahead--do what you want with all that is his. Just don't hurt him."

One useful and beautiful piece of pottery + one hammer=

Sometime later, while Job's children were having one of their parties at the home of the oldest son, a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys grazing in the field next to us when Sabeans attacked. They stole the animals and killed the field hands. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened." Disbelief.

While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, "Bolts of lightning struck the sheep and the shepherds and fried them--burned them to a crisp. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened."

While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, "Chaldeans coming from three directions raided the camels and massacred the camel drivers. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened." Shock.

While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, "Your children were having a party at the home of the oldest brother when a tornado swept in off the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they died. I'm the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened." A flood of tears.

If we were crying over the loss of our $1 porcelain dish, how was Job feeling?

"Why does God bother giving light to the miserable,
why bother keeping bitter people alive,
Those who want in the worst way to die, and can't,
who can't imagine anything better than death,
Who count the day of their death and burial
the happiest day of their life?
What's the point of life when it doesn't make sense,
when God blocks all the roads to meaning?
"Instead of bread I get groans for my supper,
then leave the table and vomit my anguish.
The worst of my fears has come true,
what I've dreaded most has happened.
My repose is shattered, my peace destroyed.
No rest for me, ever--death has invaded life.

You made me like a handcrafted piece of pottery--
and now are you going to smash me to pieces?
Don't you remember how beautifully you worked my clay?
Will you reduce me now to a mud pie?"

God had other plans for his highly- prized- and-now-shattered-Job. The Maker was not finished with the clay.

God said to Job, "Where were you when I created the earth?
Tell me, since you know so much!
Who decided on its size? Certainly you'll know that!
Who came up with the blueprints and measurements?
How was its foundation poured,
and who set the cornerstone,
While the morning stars sang in chorus
and all the angels shouted praise?"

"And have you ever ordered Morning, "Get up!'
told Dawn, "Get to work!'
So you could seize Earth like a blanket
and shake out the wicked like cockroaches?

"Have you ever traveled to where snow is made,
seen the vault where hail is stockpiled,
The arsenals of hail and snow that I keep in readiness
for times of trouble and battle and war?
Can you find your way to where lightning is launched,
or to the place from which the wind blows?

Who do you suppose carves canyons
for the downpours of rain, and charts
the route of thunderstorms
That bring water to unvisited fields,
deserts no one ever lays eyes on,
Drenching the useless wastelands
so they're carpeted with wildflowers and grass?

God, the Potter, was RE-creating his "Job clay" into something beautiful. Job was encountering the love and authority of his maker in a new way.

Job answered GOD,"I'm convinced: You can do anything and everything. Nothing and no one can upset your plans. You asked, "Who is this muddying the water, ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?' I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me, made small talk about wonders way over my head. You told me, "Listen, and let me do the talking. Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.' I admit I once lived by rumors of you; now I have it all firsthand--from my own eyes and ears! I'm sorry--forgive me. I'll never do that again, I promise! I'll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor."

We re-created our beloved porcelain dish into stepping stones for our garden.

GOD blessed Job's later life even more than his earlier life. He ended up with fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand teams of oxen, and one thousand donkeys. He also had seven sons and three daughters.
Job lived on another hundred and forty years, living to see his children and grandchildren--four generations of them! Then he died--an old man, a full life.

02 March 2006

If These Walls Could Speak

I didn't realize I had such a thing for houses until last month as I was gathering up some examples of pottery and sculpture to show our homeschool co-op. Along with the few mugs and bowls I still have from my college ceramics class, I found a couple of adobe- style houses I'd made that year. The college assignment was to take a form (say, a pear) and mutate it through 4 or 5 different stages. The result was a body of work that each resembled the other, but looked almost like a flip book. You'd be able to see the pear "move" and "change" from one piece to the next. I made a set of adobe houses. Only 2 are left though because I trashed the rest in a fit of wifely domesticity.

I also have *ahem* the other adobe house I created in my freshman art class in high school. That was 1986. The roof is broken off and the house certainly didn't turn out like I'd envisioned it as a 9th grader. It's actually pretty bad. Again, I nearly pitched it when I re-inherited it from my mom this year, but kept it for some strange sentimental reason. (And it looks really cool with a string of white Christmas lights glowing inside it.)
There's the small collection of wooden folk houses I bought at a flea market in Arkansas after Steve and I got married. 5 of them, plus the one I fashioned to match out of a hunk of leftover 2 X 4. The little neighborhood was the perfect size to place a handmade clay Venezuelan house sent to us as a thank you gift from some missionary friends last year.

I keep a small, snowy Thomas Kinkade house with our Christmas decorations. It came in a Christmas floral arrangement from my in-laws, and my kids love to switch on the light and watch the windows glow.

I didn't realize I gravitated toward human dwellings until I lined them all up and stood there looking at them. What began as looking for examples of pottery, ran smack into self-discovery instead. I mean, yeah, I intended for all my little wooden houses to be displayed as a group, but it was astounding to see that I actually have a habit, a habit, of collecting houses. This was all news to me.

So I started pondering this little piece of personal enlightenment, and then realized (you're going to laugh) that one of my favorite things to do when I can't fall asleep at night is to design houses in my head. Yeah, yeah, chuckle away, that's just me.

I have the California beachfront house, the lonely tropical island house, the snow covered ski cabin, the East Coast beach cottage, the Wyoming wilderness ranchhouse, the Hawaiian waterfall rambler and the cave-turned-into-a-domicile. Depending on my mood, I rotate which house I re-visit and tweak for the sake of my sleepy entertainment.
What's even more curious is that while these are my dream houses in the sense that I use them to GET to the dreaming and I'd sure not mind living in any one of them, they are not dream houses in the sense that they'd be featured on the cover of Town and Country magazine. Goodness, one of them actually has 1970's dark wood panelling on the walls! How did that get there? The ski chalet boasts an old shag rug that needs replacing. Who imagined that? (I'll have to speak to the designer and get crackin' on making some updates a la the 21 century.)

So, hey, I have no real reason to write this other than to admit to myself and to the world: I have a habit of collecting houses. Do I need a 12-step recovery program?