Spam hoard

Now that we have changed mail servers to a service that will let you acumulate spam, we will see how many we get before it starts emptying itself (30 days). Here, on day 9 we are up to 1300+… Any bets on the final count?


Today we observed the Sabbath (I know, that was yesterday), by going hiking at the Waterloo Recreation Area, and then having a little mini feast of flavors for dinner. I packed a bag with the makings for PB&J + water and some handy snack stuffs. I made sandwiches in the car, and B brought her own salad, since she is not a PB fan. Half-way in, B went back to the car to take a nap, while the kids and I visited The Bog, and went on another side hike. The Bog is an interesting place. We could see the obvious change from deciduous woods and swamp to acidic sphagnum peat bog in a matter of steps. The wood cover opened, and the ground was covered in fuzzy moss, pitcher plants, and shrubs. We also noticed orchids, which I have never seen growing naturally in North America before.

Pitcher Plant

Smiley & Cute

Lush swamp

Kids resting and waiting for photo-dad

The kids loved it all, and were pretty worn out. B had a nice nap, and it was a leasurely afternoon. When we arrived home I set about digging up something for dinner. I did not feel like cooking anything, but we had some baby portabellas, and a variety of cheeses and toppings. I marinated the mushrooms in a burgandy sauce, and then sauted them in the same with rosemary and whole cloves of garlic. I prepared a dish of tasties, consisting of gorgonzola, feta, and asiago cheeses, capers, marinated olives, and smoked ham, and brought out the toppings of hummus, mixed olive bruschetta, and what was left of our roasted red pepper and artichoke tapenade. With the 7 grain crackers for yum-holders, and some organic oranges for dessert, we were ready for our mini-feast.

Mini feast

Today I was amazed by the sheer variety of pleasures available to us through nature. Our needs are met, and even our desires for space, flavor, and recreation are satisfied. I am blessed, and I know it.

Routine change

During our hike on Sunday A asked if we could do this every Sunday. Our kids really like going to church, and that is the main reason that we continue to do so regularly. If we ask them who is in their classes, they only really know the kids that they also go to school with. They do not remember much from the Sunday school, except for the silly songs that they heard sung in a Barney voice. What they really get out of it is the routine, and the chance to see Grandparents. So when A asked if we could make it a routine to go hiking on Sundays, my initial thought was “Sure, that would be great!” Now, several days later, I am still not sure about the place of church attendance in our family. If we continue to go, and we feel that it is not actually a spiritual experience, but our kids are led to believe that this is what it means to be Christian, there will come a time when we will have to explain to them why we don’t mind if they keep going, but we are just going to go for a walk. If we decide not to go, and instead decide to do something else, we will be spending more casual-active time with our kids and have good conversations, but they will not get the standard Sunday school education. I know the bias is obvious. So I guess the debate in my head is more about which is more valuable for my kids to have as a basis for their ideas about living out faith.

It might be pretty clear that we do not have tons of strong relationships at church, otherwise there would be a greater pull. We are actually feeling rather displaced (out of place?) and are realizing that we are still the most “at home” when we are not, or when we are with others who are not “at home”. So in this city, where most every one has lived their entire lives within 50 miles of here, we often feel like strangers in a strange land. When we meet folks who are not from here, especially if they are not from the US, we feel comfortable. In the end it gives us an itch. An itch to keep moving, and to feel at home in the change of scenery. We fight it, but there is still something in us that does not want to fight, but just go.


On Sunday we worshiped at the Dahlem Center. It was a nice change to be out as a family, doing something we all enjoy. When we pulled up to the entrance, there was a big sign that announced that there would be a “Prairie Burning”. Ethan was immediately excited about the burning part, never mind that he did not know what a prairie was. We packed some tuna sandwiches, and ate in the car before we hiked. We really should have brought water bottles. The hike was beautiful, the kids were good (we will overlook the six-year-old fingers poking at the camera lens, and the blubbering that resulted). The burning started a little late, and we had already been out for two and a half hours. It may have been a little anticlimactic; about 20 minutes in, Ethan asked if we could leave.

As we hiked back to the car, the sun was filtering through the green leaves, and making the forest look full of the possibility of magic. The kids were tired out, and we arrived home with enough time to eat tortilla soup before the kids went to bed. I blended some coffee, and roasted a large batch with the heat gun and dog bowl. It is a wonderful blend of Columbian/Ethiopian Harrar/Zambian, and I decided that it was worth keeping a larger blended batch around. I am letting it rest for a few days, and it is smelling awful good.