Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven" by Jack Prelutzky

"The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven"
by Jack Prelutzky

The turkey shot out of the oven
And rocketed into the air;
It knocked every plate off the table,
And partly demolished a chair.

It ricocheted into a corner,
And burst with a deafening boom;
Then splattered all over the kitchen,
Completely obscuring the room.

It stuck to the walls and the windows,
It totally coated the floor;
There was turkey attached to the ceiling,
Where there'd never been turkey before.

It blanketed every appliance,
It smeared every saucer and bowl;
There wasn't a way I could stop it,
That turkey was out of control.

I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure,
And thought with chagrin as I mopped,
That I'd never again stuff a turkey,
With popcorn that hadn't been popped!

~ Jack Prelutsky ~

(I read this poem for our Providence home school co-op Thanksgiving assembly on November 17. You can enjoy edited selections of our program at

Monday, November 24, 2008

Providence Thanksgiving Assembly

Dear friends,

Last Monday (November 17), our home school co-op, Providence Home Educators, presented a simple Thanksgiving assembly during the history classes. My purpose in organizing it was just to get the kids singing and to think about our gratitude for our country!

The Pre-K through 2nd grade classes sang two verses of "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and one of "America the Beautiful." The 3rd-6th graders sang "For the Beauty of the Earth" and "Come, Ye Thankful People." The 7th-8th graders performed "In God We Still Trust." All of the students recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and I added in three poems as well as introductions for each song. We also said farewell to one of our co-op families as they move out of state. It wasn't a fancy production, but everyone seemed to have fun!

I posted edited audio selections from the program, accompanied by photographs and captions, on our co-op blog. Here is the link: Providence Thanksgiving Assembly 2008

Virginia Knowles

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A little good news!

Hello friends,

I just talked to my mom and she said that my dad has been cleared to go back to work (he is a computer guy) on December 1! This is quite a bit earlier than expected. He can also take off the hard neck brace, which he hates, since his cracked vertebra is almost healed. He is doing really well in his recovery from his traumatic brain injury last month (see the next post down) and he sounded cheerful when I talked to him on the phone tonight. He often walks down to the local track and goes around a few times, though he is not allowed to jog yet. They don't know when he will be allowed to drive since he may need to pass muster with a doctor from the Motor Vehicle Administration.
My daughter Mary stopped by for a while this afternoon, and we all had fun joking around. She is enjoying her new job as a copy editor at the Orlando Sentinel. One of the stories she just edited is one by my favorite Sentinel columnist, Darryl Owens: Eagle Scout's dream comes true, even after he succumbs to cancer. She has to go to work on Thanksgiving (late in the afternoon) while her husband Ryan is out of town visiting his ailing grandmother, so she's coming to our house for our feast. (She's fixing the mashed potatoes from scratch, as she always has!) Next year, Mary and Ryan are planning to go to Israel and Europe. They didn't have much of a honeymoon since she started a Wall Street Journal internship right after their wedding. Mary also told me that she has a new post on the Dow Jones summer intern blog.
Well, that's about it for right now!


Saturday, November 8, 2008

My Trip to Maryland and Photo Albums On-Line

Dear friends,

I just got back on Friday evening from a trip to my parents' house in Maryland. I went up for several days to try to help out in the wake of my dad's traumatic brain injury nearly four weeks ago and my grandmother's hip replacement last Monday. My dad is recovering well, but he gets frustrated at being so restricted and supervised in his activities. I feel for him. Thank you for all of your prayers!

Things were pretty quiet there compared to our busy home with several children. My main purpose was just be there as an extra pair of hands and eyes. I didn't do anything particularly spectacular around the house -- just dishes, laundry, a little cooking, fetching things, going to the end of the driveway to get the paper, taking the compost down to the back of the yard, staying up until midnight to let the nighttime home health aide in, etc. My Grandpa Hess, who is the family baker, taught me how to make English muffins from scratch and admonished me to always open them up with a fork instead of knife to make sure I create the nooks and crannies. Probably the most noteworthy household chore I did was to clean the refrigerator, which is hard for my mom to do since she has arthritis. I also drove Grandpa Hess over to the hospital to see his darling wife a few times, and enjoyed taking him out to lunch to Red Lobster for his 96th birthday on Friday.

Thoroughly enthralled with the gorgeous autumn colors that we don't get in Florida, I took dozens of pictures of trees and birds and everything else I could find in my parents' large yard. My mom has several bird feeders hung within view of the front windows, so I spent quite some time observing the squirrels, chipmunks, cardinals, yellow finches, blue jays, house finches, tufted titmice, chickadees, red headed woodpeckers, etc. Mom also saw a deer down near the garden on Friday, but it wasn't there when I went out with my camera a few minutes later. I also took pictures of family members and things around the house that I like, including a few things that I had made in years past.

Here are some of the photos on-line:

Another thing I squeezed in was scanning vintage photos and news clippings from my grandparents' photo albums, which are falling apart. I uploaded dozens of them onto Facebook. I figured that my siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins would enjoy them! Some are from the 1800s, and a lot from the very early 1900s, so really anyone might find them fascinating. I even found a big old pulpit Bible donated to a church by my great grandpa and grandpa, William and Lillie Brazier, and there were all sorts of neat clippings in it. I remember in January recording my father (using my MP3 players) as he spoke of his memories of them. This week I unearthed a picture of my great great grandmother Ida Wrislar that I had never seen, and since I didn't know anything about her, I asked my Grandma and Grandpa Hess to share their recollections, which I recorded. I encourage each of you to poke around and see what you can find out about your family history through photos, journals, genealogy notes, and personal interviews. What a splendid way to teach history! Check out my photos here:

  • Vintage Photos from My Mom's Family
  • Vintage Photos from My Dad's Family

    And finally, as an extra gracious and unexpected gift from God, I had the chance to slip away on Thursday afternoon for a grand adventure all by myself. I have so longed to get back to the National Gallery of Art for years. The last time I went, my young children distracted me from enjoying the art for myself. Last year, Thad took a few of the older ones when we were up for Christmas, but I stayed home with the little kids and missed it. I love art! It feeds the soul and reflects how we were created to be creative in the image of our Creator. I was amazed at how many of the pieces there had Biblical themes. I sat for the longest time just looking at Rubens' masterpiece "Daniel in the Lion's Den." I will write more about that sometime on my blog, but for now, I am sharing my pictures! I had to take most of them from a slight angle to avoid glare from the camera flash. I'll figure this out eventually!

I believe there is an art to paying attention and to receiving all of the gifts that God has for us. I hope that these photo albums on-line will give you a taste for how the Lord blessed me this past week.

Much love to all of you,


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy All Saints Day!

Dear friends,

I'm not Catholic so I don't quite know what All Saints Day means to them, but I have my own take on it. "Saints" is actually a word for all Christian believers, not just those who have been canonized in the liturgical church. And so, every November 1, I pause to thank God for all of saints who have blessed my life in the past 32 years that I have known Jesus. I could list all of the people here, but they would mean nothing to most of you. But I roll these names around in my brain and my heart, recalling each one as best I can.

There is much remembering to do, for there have been countless men and women who have nurtured me in the faith, taught me the Scriptures, set the real life example for me, and spoken such grace and truth into my life. When I trace God's gracious hand of Providence in my life, I can see them at the intersections, standing as road signs, pointing me this way or that.

I'm not going to write a book this morning, but I did want to share an example of one cluster of saints whom God used to lead me along the way. In April 1977, I had just moved to Baltimore from San Francisco. I had just become a Christian the year before and had not yet become part of any church fellowship. Coming in as a "new kid" at the very end of the school year is a tough way to make friends, but God had already given Anne Rittler a welcoming heart. When I sat next to her in chorus class, she befriended me and invited me to her church. Her parents, Don and Chickie, were so faithful to drive out of their way every week for over two years to come pick me up for Sunday services and youth group. At Timonium Presbyterian, the pastors, youth leaders, and Sunday School teachers laid such a firm foundation for me in the Scriptures, prayer, worship, fellowship, evangelism, and global mission. It is through TPC that I first heard about Teen Missions and went on summer outreach trips to Scotland and Israel. That's how I eventually ended up in Florida, where I met my husband, Thad. Like I said, this is just one example.

I write this to encourage you to think about those whom God has used in your life. Take the time to write a grateful note or two, even if it means you need to hunt someone down on the Internet. This past year, I finally managed to track down Rev. Jim Midberry, who had been my youth pastor at Timonium. He was really glad to hear from me, three decades down the road.

I also want to remind you that you can make a difference in the life of someone else. Be like Jesus to them and trust that God will use it, even when you when you don't see immediate results. You may not know for 30 years (or even until eternity reveals "the backside of the tapestry") how crucial your heart investment has been to them.

I leave you with the first verse of an old Anglican hymn, "For All the Saints, that I have loved since the InterVarsity Urbana '84 missions conference:

"For All the Saints"
by William W. How, 1864

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

(You can see the whole hymn and listen to the tune at: "For All the Saints" at Cyberhymnal. The painting here is "Les Jour de Morts" by William Bougueareau in 1859.)

Thank God "for all the saints"! And thank you to those who have been my friends all of these years! You are so precious to me!

Virginia Knowles
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