Archive for July, 2016

Parker Palmer’s graceful little book Let Your Life Speak is the best work I’ve ever read on discernment and vocation.

In six chapters and just under 120 elegantly written pages, Palmer presses home the point that vocation emerges from within us and that we must listen carefully to our own lives if we are to discover it. Taking on someone else’s concept of calling or subjecting ourselves to an external and alien set of values and objectives will do violence to ourselves and to our usefulness—Palmer would probably avoid the word—to our community and our world. Throughout, the author’s rooting in Quaker patterns and rhythms is evident, but this book is anything but sectarian and will be welcomed—indeed, has been welcomed, for it was published in the year 2000—by readers of many faiths and perhaps of none. (more…)


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I got my driver’s license 41 years ago and have been waiting for this product ever since.

No more cutting a hole in cellophane to hang a little tree from a knob and hoping you cut the hole to just the right size. You snap the little clamp of these gizmos into position to break the seal and allow the aroma to flow, then you clamp it onto your car’s heat/ac vent. You adjust the amount of aroma you want and the air flow circulates the secret through your car.

91HlIorCzzL._SL1500_Really, you wonder why one of us didn’t invent this twenty years ago. It requires no rocket science, just somebody who was able to ‘see beyond the little tree’.

I’ve used two available scents. Linen ‘n Sky is right down by aisle, bright and fresh but not froo-froo or flowery. My wife finds it strong unless set on the ‘low flow’ setting.

Another review commented that s/he smiles every time she sits down in her car and sees this product doing the good thing that it does. Me too, different car, same smile.


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Power turns the heart of those we would never expect capable of using it wrongly. Power moves hands that had previously been clean in darting, surreptitious ways. Power corrupts good men and good women.

When Jehoshaphat was reforming the kingdom of Judah, he set the bar high for those who would wield power in the context of local disputes. He seemed to anticipate both the blessing and the bane that come with distributing power among men who are but flesh and therefore susceptible to its distorting force. (more…)

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Our Midwest backyard is full of birds, bees, squirrels, and others of God’s great creatures, but we always want for more. I first saw this concept at an Amish store in upstate Indiana and—shortly after returning home to Indianapolis—sprang for the NiteangeL product.

It’s so beautiful—I note more than one reviewer calling it ‘cute’—that my enterprising wife has coopted it for decorative purposes. It’s now cradled in a flower-filled space that used to be a bird bath (also coopted …), so I don’t know that we’ll get all the residents that can be expected to come to it when properly hung. Apropos to one reviewer’s note that there’s no nail or hook, mine does have an insert in the back from which the Insect Home can be hung from a nail.

The workmanship strikes me as everything that was promised. Given the creative purpose that our NiteangeL is now serving, I’m contemplating buying a second one for the bugs. So far, a satisfied customer.

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When our standard single-cake suet feeder mysteriously disappeared from our backyard (the crime remains unsolved), I took a chance on this nice roofed double-cake suet feeder. The results have been good.

41RY-gXSMiL._SL500_SS80_.jpgIt took our birds (house finches, various species of woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals) a while to figure out how to maneuver their way into the right stance for getting at the suet, probably because the roof and its overhang briefly confused them. But then it was open season. The advantage of stocking the feeder with two suet cakes seems to be in reducing the need to re-stock to roughly half as frequent a job as it was before. That is, having two rather than one suet cake doesn’t seem to attract more birds; it just means that roughly the same number of birds have more supply to work on, so it lasts longer.

The quality and workmanship are very good.

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First it was an invasion of (very welcome) grandkids, then my our son and six other Army officers (including the groom …) showing up for a wedding. We needed another bed to fit to accommodate an existing mattress and we went for the product as an inexpensive fix to our periodic population surges.

51FFrnibB2L._SL500_SS80_It worked.

The frame is very easy to put together. I concur with reviewers who have noted that a mallet is handy but not required. All the pieces fit together correctly. The concave curve the wood provides flexible and therefore cushioning for a reasonably full-bodied sleeper. Everybody who has used this bed has slept great without their attention being drawn to what’s under them.

The only indication of fragility came a week later when I was leaning with one knee on the bed while installing a screen in the window behind it. With my 200+ pounds pushing down on that one knee, I managed to break one of the slats. I cannot imagine this happening to a person sleeping on the bed, so it’s not a flaw in the product, rather a recognition that this kind of wood-slat bed is not identical to a traditional metal frame, box spring, and mattress (nor is the price!).

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We brought a gorgeous hammock home from Nicaragua two years ago, and I always had the idea we’d hang it the old-fashioned way, between two trees. But no two trees on our property cooperated by spacing themselves at the proper distance. So I did a little research and we sprang for this fairly economical Best Choice Products hammock stand on the theory that a hammock stand is essentially a hammock stand and there is little reason to pay a premium for a ‘deluxe’ model.
We are completely pleased with this product. It’s extremely easy to assemble and just as easy to adjust the chains on each end to the needs of your particular hammock.Quality of the materials seems very good, although we haven’t had time to see it weather under the elements.

We’re happy campers. Or loungers. Or swingers. Or something.

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I first met Drakkar Noir cologne about twenty-five years ago when a Venezuelan saleswoman all but assaulted me with her sprayer as I entered a Caracas department store (this was when Venezuelan shelves still had products on them). As I recall, I extricated myself from the situation by agreeing to buy a bottle of the dark elixir.
Drakkar Noir has been a standby scent for me ever since.My work takes me across cultures on itineraries that make Planes, Trains, and Automobiles seem like a quiet evening at home. I need a scent that is not overpowering and certainly not flowery or potentially effeminate. Drakkar Noir fits the bill. It’s a quiet scent, and quite versatile.Then comes the matter of size. I had to hunt around a bit before finding this sturdy (think airport baggage handlers) little 1-ounce dispenser.

I keep a bottle of this permanently in my travel shaving kit. It never fails me.

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As an avid birder and a bit of a skeptic about most marketing, I confess that I’m not sure that birds care that much which brand of suet they’re fed. We live in Indianapolis and have used many kinds of suet. The birds have not turned up their beaks at any one of them.
So I typically order on price, taking into account that Amazon Prime membership eliminates the shipping cost.Heath Outdoor Products has been a hit with three kinds of woodpeckers, countless chickadees, nuthatches, tufted titmice, and a motley assortment of other birds.

Plus, its economical. We and our birds are satisfied customers and will continue to order this product at this price point.

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This is a great, economically priced product.

41QDWILuPlL._SL500_SS80_Having recently seen the effects of 15-year-old Lasik surgery wane and moved (back) to eyeglasses, I’ve rediscovered how annoying it is to have smudges on my sense. Truth be told, I used to use a shirt-tail to wipe my glasses back in my Philistine stage. Part of being a certified Grown-up may well be carrying something decent with which to clean one’s glasses.

This product is it. Because they’re microfiber, they collapse down into a very small space, which makes carrying one of these in your pocket a breeze. They clean the glass surface extremely well. And the price is right.

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