Saturday, October 22, 2005

Bits and Pieces

- I love the Vet school sense of humor: On a supply door, a picture of Dracula, with the caption, "Looking for blood?" ...A picture of a hugely disgruntled-looking English bulldog, with the caption, "THANK YOU FOR CARING." ...I went past a small table outside the small animal recovery ward, on which was a life-sized plastic rat with a thermometer stuck in its mouth. On a small piece of paper in front of it was written, "Sit, rat! Stay! Good boy!"

- At some point I am supposed to get a phone and a computer. I tentatively broached the subject with one of the computer guys, who giggled merrily and only said, "When's your last day?"

-DW, my professor, was out yesterday with a sore throat. I sent him an email wishing him to get better, and he wrote back saying that his throat felt like he'd gargled with rusty razor blades. That's what happenes when you have a razor-sharp mind.

- We've had a little platoon of small moths in the house lately; I think they are wool-eating moths, but oh well. Last night Rich had a small glass of port but didn't finish it. Later he found two moths drowned in the dregs. I commented that at least they died happy.

- We've had rain here and the weather is in the upper '40's and low '50's. I love rain in the makes the colored leaves shine like jewels, and feels so English that I find myself reverting to tea. One only wants to curl up with a cuppa and an absorbing book with a cat on the knee, venturing outside only long enough to get a snootful of leaf-scented wind, a drop or two of rain on one's glasses, and enough of a chill to make the tea taste like ambrosia.

I'm glad to be alive; thank You, Lord!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

You Saw It Here First.

Here is the first published illustration that I have done in over 25 years:

It will appear in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. What are you looking at? Well, it's a picture of what you would see if you had a horse being operated on for Morgagni's hernia. This is when there is a congenital hole in the diaphragm, usually on the right side, allowing the transverse colon of the horse to occupy thoracic space along with the heart and the lungs. Interestingly, this can happen not only with horses but also other animals and people as well, and the depiction of this situation in the horse was why the article was being published. So the rim of the hole is the diaphragm, and what's visible inside it is the hernial sac. Sometimes the sac is removed, but because it's so close to the pericardium (the membrane enclosing the heart), surgeons frequently decide to leave it there. The lumpy thing in foront of the hole is the colon that has been removed from that place. It was placed inside the abdomen where it belongs. The hole was closed up with surgical mesh and sutured in place. The dotted line is the location of the xiphoid process, which is a little 'peninsula' at the end of the sternum. The horse was lying on its back for the surgery.

I love this job. Wait'll you see the eyeball I just painted.

A Hobbitty little blessing.

A couple of days ago, Rich came to me, "Come see something."
"Is it something that will make me feel bad about myself?" (Sometimes he shows me things that make it evident I haven't been doing my job, but usually he doesn't care about that; I'm the one that feels guilty about it.)
"What? No,of course not, silly. Just come see."

We walked to the front door and this is what we saw on our front yard:

Puffballs! Now, while Rich was at prep school, Euell Gibbons came in and speak several times to his class. Gibbons imparted Very Important Knowledge about wild edibles to those kids and Rich never forgot it. But I reminded Rich on one tiny thing:

"Didn't Euell Gibbons die of stomach cancer?"
(clearing throat)"Well, yes, he did." He got on the Web and did a little research just to make sure he wasn't about to murder his family, and this is what he found:

Description: Depending on their size, puffballs have been mistaken at a distance for everything from golf balls to sheep.

These round or pear-shaped mushrooms are almost always whitish, tan or gray and have no stalks. The interior of a puffball is solid white at first, gradually turning yellow, then brown as the mushroom ages. Finally, the interior changes to a mass of dark, powdery spores, Size: 1" to 12" in diameter, sometimes larger.

When and Where: Late summer and fall; in lawns, open woods, pastures, barren areas. On soil or decaying wood.

Cautions: Each puffball should be sliced from top to bottom and the interior examined. It should be completely white and featureless inside, like a slice of white bread. There should be no trace of yellow or brown (which will spoil the flavor) and especially no sign of a developing mushroom with a stalk, gills and cap (see page 9). Amanitas, when young, can resemble small puffballs, but cutting them open will quickly resolve the question.

Cooking Hints: Remove outer skin if it is tough, then slice, dip in batter and fry.

Here's a close up of what Rich picked:

We cut it open, and sure enough, the little pear-shaped thing with no real stem, looking like a tiny tan balloon, was white and uniform all the way through, just like a slice of Wonder Bread, or a marshmallow. So, we are going to try these, batter-fried. If you never hear from me again, watch the news reports.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Picture time!

Here's a picture of Our Dear Daughter, on her way to a dinner with the youth group. And of Our Dear Son...OK, taken 2 1/2 years ago, but he really hasn't changed except he has sideburns and slightly longer hair now. That's what happens, at a minimum, when they go to College. We're happy he hates the thought of getting pierced!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Two Good Things, More or Less...

Now that I have settled down more or less into a routine of illustration at the Vet School added to the other daily things I do, sometimes I begin to wonder if I am not overdoing it. Thomas a Kempis has been saying some things recently which give me pause for thought on this:

"If for pity's sake or the purpose of a brother's benefit an accustomed exercise (personal prayer or study or devotion) is at times omitted, it can easily be taken up for later. But if for weariness of mind or negligence it is lightly relinquished, that is blameworthy enough, and the hurt will be felt....certain resolutions must be made, especially against those things which most hinder us...Care must.. be taken that you are not slothful in common duties...Seek a proper time for yourself and think often upon the blessings of God. Leave aside mere curiousity. Read such matters as may sting your conscience [That's why I'm reading you, Brother Thomas!] rather than merely fill your time. If you will but withdraw will find sufficient and proper time for profitable meditiations..."

I have less time now, and I guard it jealously. I am more protective than ever of my evenings, I need Rich more than ever, and I spend most of my time at home doing housework, cooking and laundry. Always I am thinking ahead to the needs of my family, but I am also diligently trying to work hard at my illustration. While at school, I am always thinking about how I can best redeem the time I have there so as to get the most out of it. I am a pretty aggressive student about prosecuting my opportunities, I think.

Yet there have been a few times when I have filled my devotional times with other "urgent" matters: getting the crockpot ready to start, seeing to it that I get exercise on a fine day, or taking care of some matter that I know is important to Rich though not crucial. I could have gotten in to school a little later, but I went without my devotion. All of this seems to warn me that some things in my life may be inordinate.

I have tried to examine my reasons for doing as I do and as usual it comes down primarily to a lack of faith in the ability and willingness of God to provide for our future. But there is also wicked pride in me: I want to be known for something other than my ministry to my family. There are always two faces to everything, and that is what makes it so hard: it is so easy to decieve and excuse myself; indeed I am quick to assume that my motives are always sinful. But it is not evil to desire to put my abilities to work, and I would do what I do even if I could not get a regular job at it. I simply love what I'm doing. I believe that we are called to be diligent to do well whatever we put our hands to, as unto the Lord, and not unto men, so I do work hard. Am I though, working as unto the Lord, or for my own glory?

"Who can discern his sin? Forgive my hidden faults!" Psalm 19

It is not impossible that God should allow me to do something I love, even to be paid for it. But it has to be impossible that whatever I do should distract me from His purposes, from His glory, from whatever He has to say to me.

Oh God of grace, may Your disciplining hand always rest on me, and may I remember with peace and gratitude Elizabeth Elliot's words: "All God's refusals are mercies!"