Saturday, March 22, 2008

The First Pedals of Spring

It would be a potent symbol for the heavy-handed oppression of older sisters... except that he's smiling.

Hang on, Aiden! Hang on for dear life!

Calling the Shots

One side effect of not owning a car during my first year of college was that I played a lot of pool. On Friday nights, while the rest of my classmates were out making good on the "ring by spring" guarantee, I headed over to the rec center and chalked up a cue. I got good enough that eventually, the games progressed from playing "slop" — accepting any erratic motion of the balls as acceptable plays — to "calling the shots" — you verbalized the outcome of your shot before you took it, and if you didn't make what you called, you were penalized by having one of your previous balls put back on the table. (We played mean.)

Now, I tell you that story, in order to tell you this one:

Back before we had kids, Deborah used to sit down with me, and tell me her plan for having children. I used to just stare at her as she rattled off the plan, which went something like this:

OK, I'm going to get pregnant at the beginning of the school year, and so I won't have to take any time off, and spend the summer with the baby. I think I'd like a girl the first time. Then, maybe two years later, we'll have another kid. And also, I want twins. Wouldn't that be great? Two for the price of one!

I tried explaining that it didn't work that way. You didn't get to specify when, or the sex of the child, and you certainly couldn't specify twins. But Deborah stubbornly refused to listen to reason, and went ahead and brought two wonderful little kids into the world, almost exactly on target with what she'd predicted. So when Deborah told me she was praying for twins next, I listened. And a few weeks ago, Deborah walked into the living room, and pointedly picked up a pregnancy book and started reading it.

"So, what were the results?" I asked, suspicious.
"November 9," she smiled, "twins."

That's not exactly the sort of prediction you can glean from a simple home pregnancy test. I had zero evidence. I knew it was true anyway.

But even with that, for the last week or so, I've been going about, joking that "Deborah says we're having twins next, but that I want to see the ultrasound before I buy the minivan."

It was funny, it made me sound sane (and Deborah a little less so), but... a little part of me died every time I said it. I knew it was true, but I was hiding it. I was trying to play slop.

I knew it partly because Deborah asked for it. And I knew it partly because God asked me if that was OK. After a few years, I started answering "yes..." and then a little while later, "yes," and then "yes!"

So does God do what I want? Did he need my permission? No. What do I make of Deborah getting exactly what she asked for, every time? Is she so in touch with God, that He gives her exactly what she asks for? Yes, and No. It's more complex than that, and it's simpler, too. God wanted to give us twins, and gave Deborah the desire to pray for that. Her 100% record of getting what she's prayed for isn't the result of her getting God to do what she wants. Her prayers were God bringing her to desire what He wanted.

God's been taking me to task for playing slop.

So: Twins, corner pocket, late October or early November. There. I've called the shot — although the balls are already in motion, and the stroke was never mine to begin with.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pushing It

A five-town tour on Route 5, wherein Andy pushes his luck, and a few other things, as well.

It was above freezing. The roads were clear. I had a free afternoon. There was only one thing for it: go riding!

Bundled up, I zipped from Winona Lake through Pierceton (where Deborah teaches at the elementary school) to Larwill (where Deborah teaches at the middle school) and on to Route 5, which is one of my favorite roads, partly because it goes so many interesting places, and partly because it gets there in interesting ways. Straight lines are boring, and straight is the norm for most roads in northern Indiana.

In Larwill, I paused to finally get a picture of what Deborah and I call the NotAStore. I'm not entirely certain what this place really is, but there are about 50 lawn ornaments out front, and a large sign proclaiming,


Freedom of expression through lawn ornamentation is not without its perils, apparently.

From there, I buzzed through the twisties (well, what passes for twisties around here) to South Whitley, only to find my favorite burger joint, Carol's Corner ("at the stoplight in South Whitley!") was still closed, but promising summer jobs soon. Pity. I could have done with a cheeseburger around then. Their food is good, but it's more the fun in getting there, and the cool outdoor-drive-in-ness of it all. But 40° was apparently a bit too cold for the standard Carol's Corner Waitress Uniform, so I turned my wheels northward again.

As I passed through Larwill again, I noted that diesel fuel was now at $4.25 per gallon, and reflected that, at that price, there wasn't much savings to be had by switching to some of the new diesel motorcycles I'd been reading about. I eyed my trip meter (most motorcycles have no gas gauge) and made a mental note to stop in Cromwell to fill up.

On I plunged through the long shadows of the trees covering the rare ridges in this part of the state.

After ten miles or so, for the fun of it, I followed a sign I'd never followed before, and wound up in the bustling metropolis of Etna, and pulled into a gas station. It was closed. And, from the looks of it, closed for good. The pumps still read $1.24 per gallon — don't I wish! — and the orrery-like cluster of gears that ran the display was just visible through the weathered pane.

As I was looking over the foreclosure notices, a man whose beard and hair would have done Dumbledore proud poked his head out of a house down the block and hollered if I needed anything. Just stretching my legs, thanks. Which wasn't quite true. At that point, I was more interested in the weathered old station, and the forlorn, once-busy character that seemed to glow in the afternoon sun.
(I've got more photos over here.)

Several long and rutted dirt roads later, I found the highway again, and arced around the graceful corners that bring you into Wilmot. Wilmot is pretty much two bends in the road, a dozen houses, and a lake, but it does have the very cool feature of having a working water-powered grain mill.

We'd stumbled upon this place years ago while we were out motorcycling, just the two of us, and we'd gotten a tour. Today, though, the place was silent, waiting for Spring.

Puttering into Cromwell, I made for the local gas and deer check-in station. But even a hundred yards away, I could tell something was wrong. The windows were bare of their usual fluorescent sale stars. There was a "for sale" sign in the window. No gas. I checked my tripmeter. 158 miles since the last fill-up. No problem. I had 60 miles left...

At this point, you need to understand three things:

  1. I used to own a smaller motorcycle that got 85+ miles per gallon, and would go to the reserve tank at exactly 220 miles, every time.
  2. I wasn't on that motorcycle.
  3. Back in January when the bike got soaked on it's side, the gas gauge "idiot light" stopped working.

Which means that if you only vaguely remember how many miles you get to a tank, and you've been using more gas because of the cold weather... you're likely to do what I did a few miles later: stop at a gas station, use the bathroom, and leave.... without buying gas.

I was still within sight of that gas station when the engine started sounding a bit different, a feathery, fluttering sound from the exhaust in place of its usual bark. I was on the main road again when it sputtered, and I realized exactly where I'd gone wrong. I whipped the bike around and tried to make it back, but it was no use. I pulled in the clutch, and rode it out as long as I could, but I still ended up pushing the bike over a mile back to that same gas station.

For once, I was glad that Indiana is relatively flat!

For additional photos from this trip, I've got several on The Other Blog, arranged by town: Larwill, Etna, Wilmot, and Cromwell.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pimp My Blog

I don't usually do this, but it's for a good cause. All my readers who are going to seminary (all two of you... that I know of...) should have a look at Going to Seminary. New site, good thinking, lots of helpful information. Now go. Shoo. Have a look.

ETA: OK, I didn't win. It's a good site anyway.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Upside Down

Ever since she was very little, Fiona would squeal with laughter at being turned upside down. And she'd want to do it again, and again. Well, now she can do it for herself (with a little help from the furniture) and is teaching Aiden the joys of Upside Down, as well.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Chez Winona with Fiona and Aiden

Always include your children when cooking. It just tastes better.

Sunday, March 02, 2008