Snake in Sink

Snake in SinkA snake has taken up residence in our upstairs bathroom sink.

The kid won it at a birthday party game last Saturday. It’s one of those that starts out as a tiny bit of plastic and you put it in water and it grows. This one also glows in the dark.

Unfortunately, having a snake in the sink makes other sink essentials like hand-washing, tooth-brushing and shaving more difficult.

I keep taking the snake out and leaving it on the kid’s desk chair. But it keeps coming back to the sink.

Last time it was a water-growing plastic lizard. The lizard lived in the downstairs sink. It died. The cats ate it. Maybe, if the snake moves to the downstairs sink, the cats will eat it, too.

Or, I suppose, it could move into the tupperware cake box.

What do you think? Where’s the best place to keep a plastic snake that needs to be in water?


slimeSometime last winter our friend Jeremie took a turn teaching the kid’s Sunday School class. Jeremie is one of three hard-core geeks in the congregation. He’s a graduate student and teaches physics at Clarkson University.

Jeremie thought it would be cool to use the Sunday School class as an opportunity to make slime. I can’t remember what slime had to do with the Bible. I’m sure it related somehow. But the sheer joy of making your own slime in Sunday School has long overshadowed any other point. Maybe the point is simply to rejoice that the universe is made in such a way that slime exists and that even you can make it.

I’m not sure which slime recipe Jeremie used. There are a few possibilities. But ever since, the kid has been wanting to replicate the manufacture of slime at home. Over the weekend, we finally did it.

Here’s the recipe we used:


  • 1 tsp Borax — Na2[B4O5(OH)4]·8H2O
  • 4 oz Elmers glue — (C4H6O2)n
  • 1.5 cups water — H2O
  • 8 drops food coloring (optional)

How To:

  1. In one bowl dissolve borax in 1 cup of water.
  2. In a second bowl, dilute the Elmers glue into a half-cup of water, and optionally, add food coloring
  3. Combine the bowls’ contents and kneed by hand until slime forms.
  4. Drain excess water and continue to kneed by hand until slime coheres and stops sticking to your hands.

Why this works:

Elmer’s glue is a polymer. Which means that it’s a bunch of molecules made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen that want to lock together to form a solid. That’s why, when glue dries, it gets hard. All those molecules lock together and become a hard piece of plastic. It’s the water in the wet glue that keeps the glue molecules from linking up. When the water evaporates (the glue dries), the glue molecules get to do what they want to do — the glue gets hard.

So, with just the glue and the water, all those molecules just flow around one another haphazardly. When you add the borax to the glue, the borax molecules form molecular slip-knots between the glue molecules, so instead of tumbling around each other haphazardly, the glue molecules link up in long strands that slide past each other through the slip-knots. This kind of slip-knot chemical link makes slime kind of like a solid, because the molecules aren’t completely free to go anywhere they want any more. But it’s also kind of like a liquid, because they are free to move around through the borax slip-knots. Cool.

You need to keep your slime from drying out though. Because without the water, those glue molecules are eventually going to stop sliding around and lock into place, just as if it were regular glue. Then you’ll have a solid chunk of — well — hard plastic.

The Trash Man Cometh

We live in a house provided by my wife’s employer. To save money, said employer doesn’t provide trash service at the house. Instead, we have to cart our trash 6 miles up the road to the church to drop it in the dumpsters there.

One dumpster is for trash. The other is for “zero sort” recycling. So, for close to four years now we’ve faithfully separated trash from recyclables and taken them over to deposit in the correct dumpster.

The other day, Brooke had a conversation with the church custodian. In passing, the custodian mentioned that when the trash company comes to empty the dumpsters, they dump both dumpsters into the same truck. The recycling goes in. Then the trash goes in right on top of it.

Gives new meaning to the term “zero sort”.

Steve Was Right

So it was a Thursday when I posted about how we hadn’t heard anything from the Bishop about moving.

The very next Sunday we were taking our Sunday afternoon naps when the District Superintendent called to say that our next appointment will be in Potsdam, NY. We weren’t allowed to say anything until the official “announcement.” (Methodist FISA thing.)

So, yes, we will be moving this summer after all. End of June.

We’ll miss the back porch here overlooking the river. Potsdam is a college town, though, so we’re looking forward to being closer to a wider array of activities.

The nearest real city is Ottawa, Ontario. So it looks like we may soon be spending a lot more time out of the country. As in, “Sorry, the kid’s not here today, he’s out of the country on business.” At least, it sounds impressive.

Rumor Mill

Every now and then I still get asked to fill in for a pastor who’s going away somewhere. Last Sunday I was in South Glens Falls filling in for our friend Regina, the QuakerPastor.

But that’s not what this is about. This is about what happened while I was away, after church here where Brooke is the pastor.

At the doughnut-fest in the church basement after the service, one of the church members who is older, whose wife passed away last summer, whose been sick for a while and not in church — this church member, let’s call him Steve, showed up (as was his habit before he got sick) not for services, but just in time for doughnuts.

When Brooke sat down to ask him how he was doing, he went through his litany of aches and pains, of how it was all he could do to take care of his horses and dogs. Then he asked, “So, have you heard from the Bishop yet about your being moved?”

Brooke had not. And as of today, we still have not heard anything about this. And if we haven’t heard, it would be highly unusual for anyone else to have heard. Among the Methodists, this sort of information is highly classified. Like NSA classified. You need to petition a secret Methodist FISA court to get it. (Not that Steve isn’t the sort of person who would do just that sort of thing.)

“No,” she said. “I wonder where you heard that?”

But Steve didn’t answer. Instead he changed the subject. (His wife was a lawyer, and he was her paralegal. Very cagy.)

“Do you remember when Caspar’s parents came to visit a couple years ago, and they came to church with you?”

“Yes,” Brooke said.

“Well, you know,” Steve said, “when I was talking with Caspar’s mother that day, she said it was a shame that Caspar had to give up the ministry so you could be the pastor here.”

“She said that?” Brooke asked.

“Why, yes, she did,” Steve said.

“Well, if that’s what you remember, I guess she must have said it,” Brooke said. “And I guess I should expect a call from the Bishop about a move any time now.”

I can understand Steve wanting Brooke to get the message, loud and clear, that he doesn’t want her to be the pastor here. Steve and his wife were devotées of the former pastor and objected to anyone replacing her.

When Brooke told me about it, I said, “You don’t suppose he called the Bishop’s office and asked for your removal?”

It’s been known to happen. But when it does, the pastor is supposed to be informed it’s happened that same day. It’s a Methodist FISA protocol. We were not so informed. I suppose sometimes “mistakes are made,” but we have no prima face evidence that they were in this case.

And of course, I didn’t give up the ministry so that Brooke could be the pastor here. It was not a career sacrifice. I gave up the ministry because it was the right time to get out and try some other things. When I made the decision to retire from ministry, Brooke asked for an appointment and the Bishop sent us here. Sure, it’s felt over the last few months like being sent to Siberia. But as soon as it thaws out and we can sit in the sun on the back porch looking across the river at the mountains, it’s going to be just fine. And I get to do what I like most days. We like it here. And, as it turns out, I’m still as much in the ministry as any pastor’s wife ever is.

I can only surmise that Steve came out of his hibernation to get the rumor mill going around the doughnut-fest that the Bishop and I, and even my mother, object to her being the pastor here and change is blowin’ in the wind. But we don’t expect to hear anything from the Bishop.

Not that it couldn’t happen, of course.