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helen's picture

I'm Barry's wife, a great thing to be! I have worked as his editor and try to make sure that his material is comprehensible to more than experienced physicists. On this page you will find links to parts of our home life. We are involved with giving geriatric horses a home in their last years. In return, they give us great compost for the vegetables and other plants we grow. They also keep the back half acre 'mowed.' We figure it's a fair deal.

Other than that, this page is for some 'mini-blogs," just some things that occur to me occasionally.

You may see me referred to as "Penny." That is my nickname -- since I was about 3 years old. Why? Long story, but the essence of it is: my hair is copper-colored!

We were married October 21, 2000, in Adelaide, Australia

our wedding picture


Our Place and Our Animals

March 24, 2019

The summary of the report on the Trump investigation came out today. The left is quite upset, to put it mildly. As I thought about it, and the left's reaction, through today, something occurred to me: this is very like the reaction of evolutionists to the data showing that evolution could not happen. "But it happened because all the scientists (news media) says it happened. They can't be wrong!"

No, neither Trump collusion nor evolution happened because that is what anyone says happened or wants to believe. In both cases, however, those who do not like reality are saying, in effect, "Damn the facts; full speed ahead."

February 11, 2019

Something occurred to me regarding the Pope's agreement with the Islamic leader. When I read it, I noticed that the written agreement proclaimed it was God's will that there be many different religions. Think about that. The Pope just called Jesus a liar. Jesus said HE is the truth, the way and the life and NO man comes to the Father but through Him. Evidently the Pope disagrees. And that's enough said about that.

Christmas Eve, 2018

It’s been awhile.  It’s Christmas Eve, 2018.  First, to clean up some old business.  I have a very hard time believing that was a heart attack last May.  All tests have come back with a “maybe, a little bit of problem here….”  So I quit the tests and I’ve been quite fine since.  To borrow from Popeye, “I yam what I yam.”  God’s in charge and being tested for all the “maybes” is not only a nuisance, but quite expensive.

Barry is doing pretty well, all things considered.  He started on a new medication a month or so ago and is learning to balance it with the others.  It has given him some more energy and it’s great to see a little perkiness there again.  He is still very tired most of the time and refuses to admit the pain, but that limp and the bleeding hands give him away.  His puns are still terrible and his grin still very big.

Now, here is the reason in my heart for this post.  I heard from some relatives today that I had not heard from in many years.  A few years ago they were intimately involved in a situation that was enormously painful to me – a betrayal of trust essentially, which had repercussions which can never be fixed.  And they acted like nothing had ever happened.  So we chatted for awhile on the phone. 

When I got off, I realized that talking to them in that manner, and hearing them act as if nothing had happened, brought back a lot of pain.  I want so badly for things to be better.  I want so badly for them to apologize so I can say, “I forgive you.  It’s over.”  And when I realized the pain their lack of saying anything caused, and how badly I wanted the forgiveness I am so willing to give to be asked for, I realized that is how we are with God, too.

It was a hard and needed lesson.  How many times do we just assume God will forgive us for whatever and go on our way?  How many others have we hurt, intentionally or otherwise, and not asked for forgiveness?  The others may not offer forgiveness, but we can offer apologies.  God, however, is always willing to offer forgiveness.  That piece of THAT relationship can be restored.  Maybe we are too proud.  Maybe we are too embarrassed.  That’s like preferring sickness to healing, though. 

So it’s a strange Christmas Eve for us.  I’m glad there are no guests this evening.  Barry has been remarkable – but, then, he always is.  A blessed Christmas to you all.  May the Prince of Peace reign in your hearts.

May 25, 2018

Well, we're getting older. I had a minor heart attack a week ago. On a beta blocker now and something to make the platelets slippery. Tests coming up.

My side of the family has heart trouble on both sides, so this is not a surprise. But it is definitely an inconvenience! The pain started at 1 a.m. Saturday morning. I thought I had slept 'wrong' on my right arm because it hurt. I turned over, and the pain started spreading. When it did not quit, I alerted Barry and he called 911. OK, young men who want an old lady to change out of her nightgown into something lighter. Give me a break! I know they have seen naked bodies before, but not mine! Oh well....

Hospital ER was freezing. By the time they did my second series of blood tests and second EKG about five in the morning my teeth were literally chattering (my third request for a warm blanket was ignored). Against the doctor's strong recommendations, I checked myself out. I wanted home and my warm bed. I slept most of the day Saturday, took it easy Sunday and Monday, and was back to a pretty normal lifestyle by Tuesday. Wednesday at the cardiologists and he put me on the meds and ordered tests. Unless they show something dramatic, I don't see anyone until July.

Those are the stats. Here is something else: at no time did any doctor ask about my diet, my level of exercise, or about any supplements that might help. It was a doctor in Israel, a friend of ours, whom Barry emailed to ask for analysis of my tests and his suggestions. So I'm now on more fish oil and CoQ10 as well as olive leaf extract. American doctors tend to be so 'by the book' that you are really frowned on if you don't toe their line. I guess I'm not a very good patient....

When this happens, you do think about disability and death. I want to stick around because there is so much to do and Barry to help and....but if God is going to call me home, who am I to argue? I'm not afraid of death at all, but I don't want to leave so much work around here for others to do. I do love this life and all the activities involved. Slow down? What to cut out? If any of you folks pray for me, please pray for wisdom so I will make the right decisions about what to do every minute, hour, day of my life. Thank you.

July 31, 2017

I'm going to write a bit about this. Maybe it will help the ache in my heart.

I go in to make sure he is still breathing. This nap is longer than usual. He is in so much pain now. I have had a number of major surgeries in my life. I know pain. But when you are in pain, you are busy -- you can fight it, you can complain if you like, but you have to live it and survive it minute by minute. You are busy. But today, and for the past few years, I am, and have been, watching the dearest man in the world deal with increasing, unrelenting pain as porphyria destroys his body bit by bit. And that's the hardest. The palms of his hands are almost literally disintegrating. Welling up from underneath are reddish spots that then break open and bleed. The outer skin is uniformly cracked, dry, painful. Sometimes he can't even work the mouse on the computer. (We have found a few things that help, although there is no cure -- pure aloe is one. I have five plants here so he has it whenever he wants it. It is soothing on his hands. Aspercreme helps alleviate the pain. Calendula cream also helps. There is a prescription cream that also helps a bit.) A couple of years ago his left bicep detached at the shoulder. He can feel the right one is about ready to go now. His hips and knees hurt. He limps. We have an old wheelchair in the storage barn and I was cleaning it out before we got in a year's supply of hay and asked him if we should get rid of the old wheelchair, too. "No. I might need it. Walking is getting harder."

And I ask, "How are you? It's kind of bad, isn't it?" And he responds with a smile, "I'm managing. I'm all right." As he alway has been -- consistently gracious, smiling, patient. I've never met anyone like him. I wake up in the mornings much earlier than he does and look at him and wonder why, of all the women in the world, I was the one blessed enough to be his wife.

A year and a half before we were married, I spent quite a few hours in a coffee shop with Trevor Norman, Barry's dear friend and his co-author for the 1987 paper written for Stanford Research Center. Trevor told me then that he had never met anyone who referenced every minute of his life to Christ the way Barry Setterfield did. And he was right.

Barry's ashamed and embarassed that he cannot help around here the way he used to. The walk-through gardens and the animals were a team thing and we so enjoyed doing it all together. So I tell him, "I married you for your metabolism. You keep me warm at nights. Just keep that up and we are fine!" But the other day I had to cut his fingernails for him. It is too painful for him to squeeze the clippers himself. We have a carer's flat next to our house and the young couple there have learned how to help with Chris, our profoundly retarded adult son. The wife will come shave Chris and brush his teeth in the mornings while I am out with the barn animals getting all that taken care of. It is too painful for Barry to do that now. Barry still feeds Chris and changes his diapers, though.

But this summer has been amazing for him in a special way. People have always wanted to meet him and talk to him, and this summer we have had more houseguests than usual -- a retired NASA engineer and his wife, a man who trains pastors, some dear friends who stood up for us at our wedding and whom we haven't seen for years. The NASA engineer is fascinated by Barry's work and they are coming back for a week in a few weeks. A pastor here in town who mentors a number of our political figures comes every other week to talk to Barry -- or, rather, listen to Barry. I tease Barry and tell him he doesn't have a brain, he has file cabinets up there and he can pull out any verse or chapter in the Bible or long quotes from reports and books he has read. It's quite amazing, really. He is very respected for his Bible knowledge as well as for his work in physics and astronomy.

And yet, this is also the man I can ask to pick me up two things at the store and he forgets three. A real talent. His puns are terrible and his laughter totally contagious.

This wonderful, funny, amazing man is still breathing. Thank you, Lord.

December 25, 2015 -- It’s Christmas Day, 2015.  We’re spending it quietly after a crazy few weeks.  Last night I noticed how much more Barry is limping now, and finally asked him if he wanted a cane – a nice, fancy one.  He finally said yes.  So I ordered one for him on Amazon this morning – a ton of five star ratings and it should be here Wednesday. 

I saw a picture where someone, trying to proclaim some sort of peace and unanimity, was holding a sign saying “We are all Muslim.”  No, my dear man, we are not.  Others who are sick of the mess this world is in, telling us “We are all God’s children.”  No, we are not.  We are all His creation, but we are not all His children.  And so many tons of messages proclaiming that the spirit of giving is the spirit of Christmas.  No, it is not.  The Spirit of Christmas is the Spirit of Truth, and, as sad as it is to say this, that will always divide people.

But isn’t the truth different for different people?  No, it is not.  What is true is real and all the feelings and wishes in the world will never change that.  Ethnicities and cultures cannot change that.  Reality is.

Happiness and giving and sharing are wonderful.  I would wish them for everyone.  Caring for others is an absolute necessity, and I often dream of doing more.  But what stands above and beyond all of that is Jesus Christ, Lord and God, Creator and Redeemer, and Judge.  He is the Reality.  He is the Truth.  And what you make of Him determines who you are – creation of God or child of God.  What you make of Him determines the way you live your life, apart from any race, color or creed. 

Here in the United States, so much of Christianity has become something like a club.  How different it is in the areas where Christians are persecuted and killed.  No clubs there – just the absolute determination to cling to the truth of Christ.  And so we pray for them, that God’s grace with will with them through these terrible times.  And we also pray for the churches here, that the people in them will want the truth more than entertainment. 

These are sad days now.  The world is so different from the one we grew up in.  My grandfather lived in horse and wagon days and saw the first automobile cross the western plains.  He lived long enough to see the first man walk on the moon.  I remember thinking what culture shock that must have been for him.  But I’m feeling it, too.  Some of my happiest childhood memories are of wandering down to the creek to catch polliwogs (and poison oak), lying on my back on the back lawn making pictures of clouds, playing jacks on the kitchen floor, wandering through the hills on my own.  My parents would probably be arrested for child endangerment now – we walked the train tracks to school.  So, yes, when I see 90% of the people, young and old, glued to their various types of phones today, playing games or texting or whatever, I also feel culture shock. 

While everyone is so self-absorbed, others are trying to destroy the world….and doing it in good part.  How sad.
And yet, and still, the Truth is still there.  Above and beyond all, reality is – not subject to any of this, but, I think, soon to judge it all.  In the meantime, we’ll continue doing our best, with a cane, with emails of thanks and encouragement, with animal rescue, with helping others the Lord puts in our path whenever and however we can.  For Him.

May 6, 2015 -- It's been a long time since I wrote here. I guess I'm not much of one for chatter. Our best friend died today. Hershel Nance was exposed to Agent Orange in VietNam and two years ago a type of blood cancer was found. Three rounds of chemo out of the hospital, well over 100 blood transfusions, and, finally, two attempts at stem cell transplant all failed. Sometimes you read about a death and it hits you for a moment and then life goes on. But sometimes it is someone who leaves a gaping hole in your life. We cannot yet quite fathom a world without Hershel. He knew how to fix and/or build anything. He would drop everything and be here if we had an emergency leak or other problem. He enclosed part of our patio for Chris. He netted an area where we keep hatchlings to keep the blue jays from getting them. He built the milking stanchion, enclosed an area for Teddy, painted the inside of the guest house twice when guests had left it rather messy. That's just a tiny bit of what he did. It was who he was that we will miss so terribly. From 'handyman' to, with his wife Joanne, the closest friends we have ever had, he would talk Bible with Barry, tease me unmercifully, listen attentively. He was a friend in the absolute truest sense of the word. We will always remember him with a smile and a tug at the heart. This is a quiet tribute to a fine, fine man.

April 8, 2012 -- Resurrection Sunday/Easter. Barry wasn't feeling good last night so he went to bed early. As a result, I did something I haven't done for years: spent a couple of hours in discussion on the net. I was primarily involved in a discussion about abortion, with some side trails regarding creation and then a recent creation. It is amazing what mental manipulations people will go to in order to deny God exists.

Think about it: we have one of two choices (please let me know if you are aware of another one!) -- either matter is eternal and self-organized to the point where sentient beings invented the idea of a deity, or, on the other hand, God is real and eternal and invented matter. I don't think there are any other options.

In his 1994 edition of the book The 2nd Law; Energy, Chaos, and Form (Scientific American Library), P.W. Atkins states the following: The natural tendency of energy to disperse -- that is, to spread through space, to spread the particles that are storing it, and to lose the coherence with which the particles are storing it -- establishes the direction of natural events...even if energy were to accumulate, there is little likelihood that it would do so coherently. Natural processes are those that accompany the dispersal of energy....As energy collapses into chaos, the events of the world move forward. (pp 62,63) Atkins spends the first half of the book describing the tendency of matter/energy toward dispersal and chaos. He then spends the second half of the book trying to work around that so that evolution can be upheld.

And this seems typical of many. Despite what they can see, what they know is true in their own lives, they prefer the lie.

But for those who prefer the truth, and follow it, they are led to Christ. And this particular day of the year we celebrate the triumph of truth over the lie, the triumph of life over death, and the triumph of our Lord's righteousness over sin. God bless you all -- He is risen, indeed.

February 29, 2012 -- it's my birthday today. Sixteen birthdays, 64 years. Not too many people get to be 'sweet sixteen' twice in a lifetime! But that's not what I'm here for. It's snowing out. We don't get snow very often here on the valley floor, and it's not sticking, but it sure is pretty coming down. When it clears, the mountains around us will be beautiful.

And it reminded me of something I've thought about a number of times before. When snow covers everything, it is all so beautiful. But the 'everything' is still there, underneath. Our lives are a lot like that, aren't they? We try to cover up our flaws and present a lovely exterior to the world. But what we are underneath is still there, and when the heat in our lives has been turned up, the snow melts and who we really are is there for all to see.

Best to keep the yard clean underneath the snow, eh?

Or take it a step further. Think of our bodies like the snow. They will disappear. Then, who we are underneath keeps on going. There will come a time when all covers are off. And the only way I know to keep beautiful underneath is if a person is born again in Christ and the Holy Spirit is quietly doing that business of transforming the person underneath. Then, when the heat is turned up in this life, or when the body is gone from us, who we are underneath will be even more beautiful than any cover we could have used or manufactured for ourselves.

Love and Servanthood: If you have chosen to love something -- chosen to commit to it or him or her -- that means you have become its (or his or her) servant. You work to accomplish the best for that to which you have committed, regardless of feelings from one moment to another. I realized that mucking out the horse stalls. We take care of Chris, our profoundly retarded son; we take care of the animals; we help our friends; we are there for our children and grandchildren. Love isn't a feeling, it's a choice to commit: God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son. And Jesus came as a servant.

The idea of 'falling into' or 'out of' love is silly. You don't fall into your choices. You don't fall out of them. In loving, we choose who our masters will be. Jesus said if we love Him, we will obey Him. It's a matter of choice: will He be my Master or will something or someone else? We are responsible for that choice, just as we are responsible for the other choices we make in our lives.

What, or who, we choose to love, is a choice. Love is not a feeling -- it just comes with a lot of them attached.


On Guinea Pigs: Charlie lived for almost seven years. The vet said he never read the book on rodents, for he wasn't supposed to live that long. Figure six years for a good old guinea pig. That means, at the rate of 50 cage cleanings a year, 300 cage cleanings for the little things for their lifetimes. And we want our kids to do that? How many adults are willing? In addition, the tiny little cages we get for them are not nearly enough room. We ended up buying a wire dog crate for Charlie, which he loved. The bottom was a layer of newspapers and straw on top of them. Plenty of room and some really cool hiding places we put in there for him. He got regular guinea pig food along with veggies and fruits daily. He loved bell peppers, apples, grapes, carrots and hay from the barn. We trimmed his nails and when he got old, the vet also trimmed his teeth. Until then, however, we gave him twigs and such from one of our apple trees to chew on, with which kept his own teeth trimmed.

In other words, the little guy, as cute as he was, was work. Consistent, faithful work. Please remember that when your child asks for a dog and you decide a guinea pig will be easier!

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