Monday, May 14, 2018

Kids are so funny!

Me, explaining to 3 yo that her grandparents are on vacation, so we can't call them easily: "Grandma is in a cottage in England right now."

3yo, in a very serious, solemn voice: "She probably got captured!"

Apparently 3 yo thinks her grandparents are either super spies or superheroes.

Me: "Emmy, who captured Grandma and Grandpa?"

3yo: "Grandpa didn't get captured. Only Grandma! By Hydra!!"

Then she called the police on her TV remote to report it so they will go rescue her. She says Grandpa didn't get captured because he stayed at home.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Did I just read that?

From the Times Call today:

"Longmont was among the most-battered areas of Boulder County by powerful gusts that reached as high as 80 mph Tuesday afternoon, downing power lines and trees that caused thousands to lose electricity, multiple roadblocks and damage to at least one home."

Those are some trees--they cause thousands to lose electricity, to lose roadblocks, and to lose damage to their homes?

Monday, April 02, 2018

Easter Post, a day late

My favorite chapter of scripture, for Easter. With a few notes (in italics is my words) thrown in so you can understand how I read this, and hopefully why I love it so much.
Isaiah 53/Mosiah 14
Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? (Indeed, to whom? to me? This is answering that question--who gets to see the arm of the Lord in their lives?)

For he (Jesus) shall grow up before him (God) as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground (not an easy, silver spoon kind of upbringing, so we have something in common there); he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him. (Jesus was not beautiful. I suspect Satan is. Why not Jesus? Perhaps so we follow Him for the right reasons? But also to emphasize that the glory and wonderfulness of Jesus was not his beauty.)

He is despised and rejected of men (so He gets it when we are, too); a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief (I saw a modern translation that rendered this "familiar with pain."  But no no no! Grief is pain plus something else. for him to be acquainted with grief means He didn't just become familiar with the concept, but He met the experience of Grief personally--He understands); and we hid as it were our faces from him (are we ashamed of Jesus because He is not appealing to the world, either in body or in doctrine?); he was despised, and we esteemed him not (esteemed him not is such a great phrase--not just we didn't pay attention to Him, but we gave him no esteem--we didn't think He was worth honoring or listening to, but nevertheless....).

Surely he has borne our griefs (Surely has two meanings: indeed, and reliably, unfailingly, without hesitation, trustworthy--like a sure-footed donkey that can safely and surely carry you down a steep mountain road or bear its load without faltering or complaining; I prefer the second definition in this verse), and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isn't that beautiful? And also painful to read? Jesus was hurt for us, and his pain heals us.)

All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord (God) hath laid on him (Jesus) the iniquities of us all. (Nobody is exempt from needing this healing. We all need it.)

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb so he opened not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment; and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgressions of my people was he stricken. (He was cut off young--his life was tragically ended, and He didn't even try to protest or defend himself or talk his way out of it. Why? For our transgressions.)

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no evil, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (Such ultimate unfairness. This is so profoundly unfair. So He gets it when life is unfair to us--our unfairness doesn't even rise to the level of the unfairness He faced.)

Yet it pleased the Lord (God) to bruise him (Jesus) (Why would it please God to hurt Jesus?!  Because it was a fulfillment of His plan, and imagine how pleased God was that Jesus did it--because if Jesus had agency, and He must have, then He had the choice Not to go through with it, and He didn't want to at one point. So this makes me think of God as a super-pleased parent, that His son did this amazing and impossible and glorious thing and saved Everyone); he (God) hath put him (Jesus) to grief; when thou (me!) shalt make his soul (Jesus) an offering for sin he (Jesus) shall see his (Jesus) seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord (God) shall prosper in his hand.  (We become Jesus sons and daughters by making his soul an offering for our sins--in other words for accepting His offering paying for our sins, in accepting the healing). 

He shall see the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied; by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. (this is the summation of the Atonement, and it's wonderful!)

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death; and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (I just love the phrase poured out his soul unto death--such a sacrifice, and He did it for me.)

So the answer to the question? To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? Remember, the Lord throughout this chapter is Heavenly Father, not Jesus. And to whom is His arm revealed? To us. Through Jesus and His atonement.

We so often see this chapter as Isaiah prophesying about Jesus' death so that when it happened, it would be recognized because it was foretold. But in getting caught up with the prophecy-come-true aspect of it, we miss the promise-of-salvation-to-us aspect. This is a beautiful promise of salvation, a wonderfully poetic description of the atonement and its purpose, being to save us. With his stripes we are healed! When we accept His gift, we become His seed--and what is your seed if not heirs to your kingdom, and also beloved? Tied up in this chapter is an explanation of the unfairness of Jesus's lot in life, but also the beauty that comes of it.  I just love this chapter. Reading it brings a reverence, calm, and centered-ness to my soul that it needs. It helps me feel connected to Jesus.

So then I discovered today that it connects very nicely with Isaiah 54, so I'm putting that here, too, so you can read it in the context of Jesus and the atonement. It's like chapter 53 was Jesus and the atonement with a focus on Jesus's experiences, and 54 turns that around and is about the results of the atonement from our experiences--the promises and blessings and what life can look like for us because of Jesus: what does it mean to become His seed, and what does it mean to have the arm of the Lord revealed?

Isaiah 54

Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.

Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitations: spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes;

For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.

For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.

For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.

For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.

In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer.

For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.

For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.

O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires.

And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.

And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.

Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.

Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.

I won't paste more here, but I encourage you to read on. Chapter 55 is an invitation to come and join and become Jesus's seed.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

lavender oil for fibromyalgia?

Learning about lavender oil, and reading a summary of the research here:

Turns out it treats nerve and muscle pain, brain fog, anxiety, and sleep problems.

Sounds like fibro, doesn't it?

and remember this blog post?    The one where I was pondering on acetylcholine and coenzyme-A?

Well, it turns out that lavender oil is involved in the acetylcholine system, just like coenzyme-A is.

They've found if you use anti-opioid medication, anti-nicotine medication, or muscarinic receptor blockers, it blocks lavender oil from working. That means it works through the same neurological systems in the body as opioids (blocking pain) and nicotine. Those receptors (the nicotinic and muscarinic receptors) are part of the acetylcholine system, too. But there is no sign of "central adverse effects."  It's not bad for you like nicotine or opioids. Those systems in the body help control nerve impulses, which seem to be out of whack for people with fibro. In many, many studies, lavender reduces pain and speeds healing from all kinds of pain and all kinds of injury, including reducing pain and duration of migraines, menstrual cramps, and menopause, and reducing pain and increasing mobility in back pain patients.

It also apparently causes wounds and injuries to heal faster and minimizes inflammation in the body. All of those things seem like they would help people with fibro.

Memory problems caused by dysfunction of the cholinergic systems in the body (acetylcholine again!) can be healed by lavender oil, including reducing symptoms of mental decline like in Alzheimer's (at least in rodents). It can cure brain fog, apparently.

It helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer and better. And it can apparently help prevent and cure neuronal damage. Also helpful for fibro.

"Cholinergic system is suggested to play a role in lavender analgesic, antianxiety, antidepression, and anticonvulsant effects of lavender."  There's that acetylcholine again!  I need to learn more about this system.

It also interacts with the dopamine systems (D3 receptors) and the GABA-a receptors, and "enhances inihibitory tore of the nervous system" (which is great if you have an overactive nervous system!).

Overall, it appears that lavender oil helps regulate the nervous system. And since recent research is indicating fibromyalgia "pain is primarily maintained by a dysregulated central nervous system," regulating the nervous system might be a good first step to helping fibro. (

Lavender reduces activity in the the pre/post-central gyrus and frontal eye field of the brain. The pre- and post-central gyrus are the parts of the brain that control sensory information. Fibro is widely considered a disorder of sensory input, so it makes sense that something that interacts with the sensory part of the brain might interact with fibro as well. The sensory information is integrated in the temporal gyrus. Interestingly, in a study released this month, researchers report that they found that "FM patients had reduced connectivity within default mode network, between middle/inferior temporal gyrus and visual cortex." These are areas in the brain the lavender directly affects. (  Lavender apparently affects the brain waves in a way the makes them match the brain waves of people who say they are "comfortable."  What is fibro but constant discomfort? 

Apparently people with fibro have disruption in their alpha and theta brain waves. And lavender increases both alpha and theta brain wave activity. In addition, the connections in the posterior cingulate gyrus in people with fibro are wrong somehow (hard to read neurology research!), and lavender increases activity in the posterior cingulate gyrus. ( for more on brain stuff in fibro).

The nice thing is, lavender oil works in people like us who can't take fish oil.

So what does this all mean?

I have no idea. I just didn't want to lose my notes before I figure it out. Meanwhile, it might be a good idea to test lavender oil (silexan) on fibro.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Did I just read that?

Last sentence of a news article: "She has brown hair and eyes with tattoos on both shoulders and feet."

I just can't figure out why she has eyes with tattoos on her shoulders and on her feet.

Or does this mean she has feet?

This sentence needs some help.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Turning down the dream

A couple of months ago, I had a dream that I was approached by a top-secret spy agency who were recruiting. They thought I might be amazing as a spy, and they gave me some very cursory training and then I took an aptitude test. By doing what was right, being honest, answering with my gut instead of second-guessing myself, I aced their test and was immediately offered a job. Promptly the office was attacked by bad guys and the boss was killed, and I escaped with some of the staff. They were so impressed with my skills that they offered me an undercover position in England for a two-week mission. High pay. Only two weeks. Tim was facing immense stress at the time in his life, and if I left I would be abandoning him to face that stress alone, not to mention raising all 8 kids alone and working more than full time. I looked at the pay and the excitement and the fact that they loved me and thought I was amazing for talents that I valued (and that my kids do not), and I abandoned my family and took the job. Just for two weeks, and then I'd be home, I told myself, and it would make a lot of money for my family and take the pressure off Tim. So I set off and the training included doing things that I am morally opposed to, but it was part of the job....

I woke up with the distinct feeling that I had chosen WRONG. That my family is my mission right now, and leaving them for glory, excitement, praise, and to use neglected talents that I value would be a terribly bad mistake that could cost me my soul.

So a few days later, my dream job came up (a real-life kind of dream job--nobody would ever really hire me to work in a spy agency, even though intelligence analysis really is one of my dream jobs) in a museum working with artifacts and writing up info about them for displays and newsletters. The job was down in Denver area, doing local history work at a history museum. It's the job I've wanted since I was in high school. Writing. Physical history. Artifact preservation. Teaching. It's like all my talents rolled into one lovely position that someone would actually pay me real money to do--a good wage, too.

But I remembered the dream and its warning, and I didn't apply.

And then I forgot about that dream.

But I remembered today, after a week of being invited to head up or join the leadership teams for various committees, online groups, real-life groups--all fighting for causes I believe in and care about. All asking to use talents that I value and that often go unrecognized and unused. All accompanied by praise for things I want very much to be praised for (especially since most of the things mothers get praised for I'm a completely failure at!). It all sounds very exciting--a chance to use my brain to do cool things that sound important, to get praise from people for being smart, to analyze information and use my writing to lead people to better things and better ideas.

All this came because of opportunities I had last fall to help in a political campaign. And I suppose it would be the start of a path that could lead far and wide, to interesting ways to use my brain to do interesting things.

But my mission right now is not to save the world from political chaos or help run a myriad of interesting organizations fighting for important things, as much as I want to do those things. My mission is to restore order to my home, to put together foam puzzles that are going to last three days, and bake birthday cakes, blow bubbles, and help kids sculpt things using graham crackers and frosting. My job is to read stupid stories over and over and over. And to kiss imagined owies that don't really exist. To teach math and try in vain to keep house. And to love and love and love and love. And saying it out loud sounds like I'm choosing the stupid over the intelligent, the mundane over the exciting, the mediocre over the excellent. And by many measuring sticks, I am.

But every job has mundane and boring and stupid parts. I suspect that every job is actually mostly dumb stuff, but we do it to accomplish the goal or vision or mission the job includes. It's possible to see where these mundane steps are leading, so they're possible to tolerate. The trouble with mothering is we often forget the mission in the tidal wave of tedium, but that doesn't mean there isn't a mission or that we aren't actually doing it. A former army sniper told me once that he would sit in a tree for five days to get in one good shot at his target. Sounds exciting, except for the 4.999 days stuck in a tree just waiting and waiting and not even allowed to get down to sleep or go to the bathroom.

Really, someone else actually can do the intelligence analysis--and better than I, since politics and policy don't light a fire in my belly, although thinking and research do.

But the day before I die, I will not regret having turned all the fancy chances down, even if someone else becomes president some day because they took them instead of me. But I will regret doing the things that nobody else can do--mothering my children, being a wife to Tim, writing my novels, being a sister and daughter to my siblings and parents, making my quilts, writing curricula in the way that only I can, teaching and playing and building my home into a sanctuary from the world. I will never get famous doing those things. I will not change the world. Nobody will likely remember me who doesn't carry my blood in their veins.

This week, I choose the mundane. I choose to hold a puking toddler and a bucket and hope they connect. I choose playdough and candy houses and verbal horseplay with teenagers and failing at bedtimes (despite my best efforts) and messy floors and full bellies and music and laughter and forgetting to take the garbage out.

It's not fancy and nobody will notice me. I won't change everyone's world. Someone else is going to fight for truth and justice. Someone else is going to shut down tribalism and push for compromise. Someone else is going to work their way through the channels to an eventual political appointment or office. Someone else is going to get paid to think and write.

Not me this time. Who knows if I will get another flood of opportunities like this.

 But it feels like the right choice.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Making a paracord whip, the "recipe"

So now I want to make another paracord whip but sorting through the last "as I go" post is a pain. I accidentally used the heavier weight paracord last time, so the measurements are for that weight of cord. I don't know if that matters or not.

So here's the "recipe"

85" paracord, gutted (or whip length plus 13-16 inches)
Thin piece of metal for the handle, around 5-6" long
metal BBs
electrical tape

Short form instructions as a reminder: Gut the paracord, melt both ends, but melt one end wide like a funnel. Insert handle in narrow end and melt it in. Fill the rest with BBs down to about 12 1/2 inches from the end. Wrap in electrical tape tight and smooth to just past the BBs, making it tight enough below them that they can't move or fall out. When you weave the belly, weave to 2-4 inches past the BBs and then stop because you want the overlay to end with about 8" of paracord from the core hanging out to tie the fall knot with.

8' cord (or 1 times the length of the core plus 2 feet)
12' cord (2 times the length of the core)
two 17-18' cords (3 times the length of the core), alternately, one 18' and one 19'
Electrical tape
gut string from cord for lashing

Gut and seal cords. Weave a loop. Insert core. Weave around the core, dropping either at 1/3 or 1/2, then 2/3, then weave to end and past a little bit. Cut ends to stagger and wrap the end with electrical tape to keep it from unweaving. Or tie. Either way, leave the core strand at least 6" longer than the others for the fall tie (preferably 8-12 inches so you can weave the overlay down it some). Roll the belly against something hard (like concrete) with a book or board. Lash the transition tightly and then tape the handle three times in alternating directions (2" past the handle, 4" past the handle, and 6" past the handle) to strengthen the transition.

7' or 9' cord (gradual or steeper taper) (1.5 times core)
10' cord (1x core plus 4')
14' cord (2x core plus 2')
18' cord (3x core)
two 22'-24' cords (4x core or 3x core plus 4')
2' cord NOT gutted.
6' gut from a cord (for the cracker)

Weave around core. Drop strands every 1/5 of the whip. Weave past end but leave 6" of both core and the last four overlay strands (5 strands together, each at least 6" long). Attach fall and tie it all off with a fall tie. Make and attach cracker. Trim and melt all ends. Crack the whip.