It Just Wasn’t Norm’s Day

April 27, 2013 by Evan

Some days are fun. Some are boring. Some are productive. Some are crazy.

And some days just absolutely, positively require a blog post.

I can’t think of any way to describe yesterday other than just jotting down a rough timeline….

6:30 – We arise from deep slumber to a sunny, relatively warm morning.

7:15 – Breakfast of eggs, sausage, toast, and coffee.

8:00 – I start working on the yard. The big storms are finally over, so there is plenty of grass to mow. Jeannie does the dishes, starts some laundry, and feeds the chickens.

9:00 – Still mowing and edging. Our next-door neighbor’s house is vacant right now. The neighbor on the other side, Norm, 75, owns a landscaping business, so he’s been mowing the front lawn of the empty house. He owns all of the land behind us and has both grass and crop fields, along with two ponds. He’s outside today too, of course. While he’s making a turn, he drives his huge zero-turn radius riding mower over the gravel driveway. Rocks sing as they fly past my ears like bullets. I turn and duck. Thankfully, only one small one hits me in the back of the head.

10:00 – Still doing mostly uneventful yard work. There are holes all over the yard from soil that has settled under all the water. These need to be fixed. Jeannie starts taking leaves off of the garden area. She put them down last fall to keep the weeds away. She mentions that we should till soon. One of the neighbors probably has a tiller we can borrow.

10:30 – Norah goes down for her nap.

11:00 – These holes are annoying me, so I take a break and go get a truck load of dirt from the landscape supply down the road.

11:30 – Back with the dirt. I get about 3/4 of a yard of dirt moved from truck to holes.

12:30 – Norah wakes up. Lunch! Soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

1:00 – We make a run to Ace Hardware to get some flowers for the pots on the front porch, paint for the back porch, a kitchen sink faucet repair kit, some nails, and a little broom for Norah.

2:00 – Back home again. Jeannie talks to Norm’s wife, Pat, about a tiller. They have one we can use. Norm can get me started right away. I meet him at one of their outbuildings. He’s still on the riding mower. As he gets off (very carefully, since he can’t walk very well anymore) he tells me that “you have to almost be an engineer to operate one of these things.” Apparently they can be tricky to steer. He shows me how to get the tiller running and how to operate it. Off I go.

2:30 – About three turns into the garden, a belt breaks on the tiller. Norm is out in the field again, so I decide to go back to mowing, too. I’ll deal with the tiller later. I have a big wheelbarrow-load full of clippings to dump first. We usually put them on a pile at the back of our property. As I dump the load, I see Norm mowing along the edge of the pond, maybe 200 yards away. As I start to turn around to go back, I see the mower crash down the steep bank of the pond and dump Norm into the water. This is followed by a mild but quite loud string of curses. After standing in shock for a few moments, I hop the fence and start to run.

When I arrived, Norm was standing about knee-deep in the water. “They told me I should be more careful,” he said. The mower was sitting a about a 60 degree angle on the bank, just above the water, so I was worried it could still tip over on top of him. So I waded in and offered a hand. Things were going well until one of Norm’s knees gave out and he fell backward into the water again. This time he was almost up to his chest.

2:45 – Eventually we managed to get out of the water and up the bank. Before Norm was even on his feet again, he said “we could probably pull it out with the tractor.” Images of both the tractor and the mower at the bottom of the pond filled my head.

3:00 – When we got back to the barn we found some chain and Norm fired up the tractor. Pat informed me that she had been telling him to slow down. He had also gotten the golf cart stuck in the other pond.

3:15 – Still soaking wet, we hitched up the mower. It took a little time, but that tractor is a good one. Out came the mower, leaking gas and missing a steering arm. I fished it out of the pond.

3:30 – Before we could turn around and tow the mower back to the barn, the tractor ran out of gas. Pat, who had come by to watch, sternly reminded Norm to “watch his language.” I offered to go to the gas station, and Norm suggested I get a new belt at the same time. Seemed like a good idea, so we drive back to my place on the cart to get the old belt for sizing.

3:45 – Now in dry boots, I made my way to Rural King to pick up the belt, then to the gas station.

4:30 – Back home, Norm is nowhere to be found. I dropped off the gas, then asked another neighbor, Mark, if he’s seen him. Mark said that he hadn’t. But he did offer to cut down a couple of mulberry trees that invaded our yard. Since I don’t have a chain saw, I gladly accepted. Jeannie started dinner. Norah had been busy watering the flowers her dress, so she was not wearing the same clothes she had on when I left.

4:45 – Dinner. Delicious Greek chicken gyros made from scratch.

5:00 – While washing my hands, I noticed that the bathroom window was broken. Odd, I thought. On closer inspection, it appeared that a rock had hit it. I remembered the gravel incident from the morning and decided to check the other window on the same wall. Outer pane shattered.

5:15 – Still can’t find Norm. So I put the new belt on the tiller. While doing this, I first hear Mark yelling at his Doberman. “Izzy, come back here!” It’s a familiar sound. About ten minutes later, another neighborhood dog, a huge basset hound named Fred, goes running by. I found out later that he had broken his collar. By the time the belt is on, all dogs are caught and accounted for.

6:00 – I finished the tilling and drove the old machine back to the outbuilding. Still no Norm. But his clothes were hanging on the line.

6:15 – Upon arriving back home, Jeannie informed me that there were also a half dozen holes in our siding. It looks like someone sprayed the side of the house with a machine gun. “Poor Norm” she said. “He doesn’t even know how bad his day was.” This is also when I found out that the golf cart incident had happened early this same morning.

6:30 – We see Mark outside again and walk over to thank him for cutting down the trees. “I’ve told him to stay away from that edge” he told us more than once.

6:45 – We heard the tractor start up again. Off in the distance we could see both Norm and Pat, and I was worried they were going to try to hook up and tow the mower themselves. Thankfully they just brought the tractor back to the house.

7:15 – Norah goes down. Showers.

8:30 – Bed.

8:31 – Sleep.

The End

A Bit of Movie Trivia

January 12, 2013 by Evan

[Note: Sadly, the videos have been removed. I’ll repost them if I can find another source.]

Fans of the movie Seven Brides for Seven Brothers might know that some of the songs are lip-synced. Matt Mattox (the actor who played Caleb) was a professional dancer, but not a professional singer. His part in the song Lonesome Polecat was overdubbed in the final movie. But I found this video where you can hear his own voice in the song:

The actual voice in the movie is that of Bill Lee. What fascinated me was finding out that Mr. Lee also overdubbed the vocals in a song from another one of my childhood favorite movies, The Sound of Music. Here’s the song Edelweiss, as it was originally sung by Christopher Plumber:

Letter to My Teenage Self

September 17, 2012 by Jeannie

Dear Me,
There you are, 15 years old. As you look into the future, it’s probably a good thing you can’t see me at more than twice your age: you’d be terrified of the years that must pass before you will finally be that wife and mother you dream of now…
Your best friend now? She’s going to move away. You’ll keep in touch through the years, but you will make other friends. I promise. Two of your closest friends will be your little sisters. I know right now, at 8 and 10, the gap seems huge, but in a few years you’ll be quite the threesome. Oh, and your mom. Right now you clash a lot, but you’ll get past that and be really close friends. You’ll even be a birth attendant as she has your youngest brother… and a dozen years later, she’ll be by your side as you give birth to your first daughter.
You look pretty old-fashioned in that homemade dress. Your fashion sense will mature, but you’ll keep that love of everything old, especially books (my, what a library you’ll have in your 130-year old house!) And eventually you might learn that what you wear really isn’t as important as what’s on the inside. I know you’ve only been taught that since you could talk. Keep working on it. (This is to 30 year old me, too!)
You don’t have very specific plans for what to do after high school. If you thought about it now, you might do some things a little differently, but don’t worry… God has a way of using everything to shape you into the person he wants you to be. You won’t go to college. You’ll stay home until you get married (and keep sharing a room with your sisters). You won’t ever have a formal job, but the wide range of experiences you’ll get instead will be well worth it… volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, working on the farm, working for your dad in many capacities, doing freelance writing and editing and formatting.
And since getting married is on your mind a lot right now, let me tell you a few things about your future husband. You don’t know him now (so don’t worry about not knowing a lot of eligible guys). You will get your heart seriously broken before you meet him, but you’ll come out stronger on the other side. God’s getting him ready, but you won’t meet him until you are almost 28. Despite the advances in technology and the fact that both of you will be on all sorts of online networking sites, you’ll end up actually meeting in person. You, little country mouse, will end up living in Los Angeles, CA, and you’ll be just fine. You’ll end up letting go of so many dreams to marry this man, but it will be worth it, because you’re going to find a love beyond anything you can imagine right now. Don’t worry overmuch about the crushes you have on other guys in the intervening years. It’s part of growing up, you’ll learn from them, and once you meet your man, you won’t even remember how it felt to like anyone else.
And those dreams you let die? God will give them back to you in surprising ways. You’ll leave the big city to live in a tiny village in southern Illinois, in an old house surrounded by a picket fence. You’ll have a garden, a clothesline, a fireplace, and even a barn. And wonder of wonders, you’ll have a little girl with her daddy’s eyes and mama’s hair. It’ll be worth the wait, I promise.
Love, Me

Linking up at YLCF and chatting at the sky

The Scooter

September 16, 2012 by Evan

The video says it all….

How to Write a Country Song

July 17, 2012 by Evan

In this video, learn why Andy Gullahorn had to kill a grandma. Also, why it was supposed to be a joke but no one laughed. Also, why so many country songs sound alike.

R. C. Sproul on Miracles

July 15, 2012 by Evan

Some of the theological topics Jeannie and I have enjoyed pondering together have to do with miracles and Cessationism vs. Continuationism. Neither of us have spent great lengths of time studying these topics, so our opinions are probably best kept to ourselves. But I recently came across this post by R. C. Sproul which, I think, at the very least clearly frames the issues at stake from the cessationist point of view.

First, he differentiates between miracles and the supernatural in general.

All miracles are supernatural, but not all supernatural acts are miracles.

With this view, God does still act supernaturally today, but not in miracles, which he defines as “an extraordinary work in the external perceivable world against the laws of nature, by the immediate power of God.”

Second, he says this distinction is important because miracles are specifically for the purpose of authenticating revelation.

If a non-agent of revelation can perform a miracle, then a miracle cannot authenticate or certify a bona fide agent of revelation. Which would mean that the New Testament’s claim to be carrying the authority of God Himself, because God has certified Christ and the Apostles by miracles, would be a false claim and a false argument.

So basically Sproul’s argument is this: The miracles performed by Christ and the Apostles validate the authority of the Bible. Therefore, if anyone and his uncle can still perform miracles today, this method of establishing authority doesn’t actually prove anything.

This assumes, of course, that agents of revelation are no longer with us. So this line of reasoning definitely ties the two together.

It’s a lot for a bear of Very Little Brain to process. What do y’all think?

Our Thoughtful Spot

May 15, 2012 by Evan

One of the very many odd things that we have in common is our love of Pooh Bear and his friends of the Hundred Aker Wood. We also love that Pooh Bear – even though he is a bear of Very Little Brain – has a quiet spot where he goes to think. This blog category is our thoughtful spot, dedicated to bears of very little brain everywhere.

Sharing a Laugh

March 27, 2012 by Evan
Norah and Jeannie Laughing

Norah and Jeannie

What I’ve Learned About Wisconsin

February 17, 2012 by Evan

Wisconsin was always one of those states I knew about, but never really thought about. It was “somewhere up there near the big lakes.” But then I met Jeannie, and found that Wisconsin was actually more or less interesting. Now I’ve spent so much time in “The Badger State” – and since I’m working here for several weeks – I thought I’d write about some of the things I’ve learned.


You know that “association game”? The one where someone says a word and you’re supposed to say the first thing that comes to mind? Well, before I knew Wisconsin my associations would have looked something like this:

Cheese, Packers, Beer

Now that I have family here, I obviously associate Wisconsin mostly with them. But my generic list has changed in other ways, too. Now it would look something like this:

Hockey, Hunting, Cold, More Hockey, More Hunting, Cheese, More Hockey, Packers, Beer

The Cold

  • At 15 °F, a “chewy” granola bar… isn’t.
  • At -20 °F, if you toss hot water in the air it will asplode…. supposedly.
  • My Southern California friends might be amused to learn that automatic car washes here are enclosed and heated. Ever think about that?
  • You haven’t really experienced iced coffee until you’ve left your cup o’ joe in the car overnight.

It’s Friendly!

Southern hospitality gets all the attention. But from my experience it can’t even compete with the northern Midwest. The people here are the kind you’d love to have as a neighbor.

The Accent

That stereotypical half-Canadian, half-Midwestern, half Scandinavian accent? Yeah, that’s what people here really sound like. It’s the hardest American accent for me to imitate, but it’s surprisingly easy to slip into it after spending a little time here. It’s all about the “oo” sound. But there’s no “eh?” here. That’s further north and west. Don’t you know. (Just kidding. That’s further north and west too.)

So there you have it. Some of the things I’ve learned about Wisconsin.

Boring Home Video

January 30, 2012 by Evan

Everyone knows that home videos are boring. So I’ll be sure to title them as such.

This is a short video of Norah’s favorite pastime. She loves watching the ceiling fan spin.


On a technical note, this was shot and edited entirely on an iPhone 3GS. Impressive, these gadgets are.