Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Best and The Worst of Me ??

I just returned home from Sunday morning church services and I am still pondering one of those "ah ha" moments that we have from time to time, when church is not just routine but relevant in our lives.

The pastor led a prayer in which the following phrase was included:

"Lord, you who knows the best and the worst in each of us..."

Immediately, as my head was bowed and my eyes were closed, an incident came to mind in vivid detail - and it was, to my thinking at least, "the worst of me."  I did not break any of man's laws, but I violated God's law and in my mind it represents the nadir of my life. 

I cringe any time the incident comes to mind, and then immediately remind myself that God forgave me long ago, and He does not even remember it anymore, according to Isaiah 43:25.
This unwelcome recollection did not surprise me, as it has come to mind unbidden from time to time, over the many years since it occurred.  It is a clear reminder that Satan is truly the "accuser of the brethren."

What did surprise me was what did not come to mind regarding the other part of the prayer, "the best of me".  Nothing came to mind.  I could not think of a single thing that represents the best of who I am.

How is it that we can so quickly recall the worst thing that ever happened to us, or the worst behavior we ever engaged in, or the worst thing we ever said to another human being, but cannot recall a single thing that would represent the best of who we are?

This is not humility.  Jesus was humble and yet did not hesitate to tell listeners plainly that he was "the Son of God."  Some considered that arrogance, but Jesus knew it was truth.

What is this strange blank spot in my consciousness, and perhaps in yours,  regarding any "best attribute"?  It may be the vestiges of shame, which causes us to overlook our better behaviour, because we know all too well what the dark side of our own nature looks like.

It may be false humility, which hopes that others will be able to see in us what we choose not to see in ourselves.  That "aw, shucks, who me?" nonsense.

But it could be, hopefully it just might be, that deep in our spirit we do recall that "there is none that does good, no not one."  (Romans 3:12)    Not unaided, all on our own anyway.  It is why we need a Saviour.

I sincerely hope it is the latter and not one of the former mind-sets.  However, only God knows.  Oh, but wait, that is the beauty of the whole thing.  Really, truly, God does know, what is good and true and worthy - what He has placed inside of each of us.

My goodness, I am suddenly encouraged.  I know the worst of myself, but only God knows the best of me, because only He is qualified to determine what that is.  He is the best judge of character in the universe and I can trust Him to judge me rightly, despite all my failures and flaws.  And "God does not show favoritism."  (Romans 2:11)

Yes, I am well and truly encouraged.  Hope your time of worship this week encouraged you as much as mine did for me.  Until next time .... Marsha

Friday, October 28, 2011

Moving Marathon

For those of you who have never stumbled in here before, we just moved for the first time in over twenty years.  It has been a daunting effort.  And I certainly cannot complain as the *LOC has done the lion's share of the packing and unpacking. (*Lovable Old Coot)

The view out the kitchen window
I on the other hand, have popped in from time to time, and placed a little item or two that appealed to me.  The little welcome ceramic in the kitchen garden window appealed to me.  The LOC didn't even notice it was there for two days.  Of course that could be because he was knee deep in boxes in the garage.
The stained glass window by the front entry way.

Sometimes I just admire the little details that made this house so appealing in the first place.  This window is just what I would have chosen myself, if I had been building this house.  I love roses and I love stained glass, so a window of stained glasses with roses as the artistic theme, well, it just makes you think this is the house we were supposed to "find."

However, while I am bringing new favorite things in, or admiring the ones that were already in place when we got here, the LOC is still out in the garage plowing through the flotsam and jetsam of our lives.  I'm inclined to just ditch it all and start fresh. 

Not very practical, I suppose.  But very tempting.

Your priorities get strangely skewed when you unpack.  I have not yet found the Claddaugh ring the LOC bought me when we were in Ireland earlier this spring.  And I have no anxiety about it at all, although it was fairly expensive.

But I was uneasy until I found the little plastic coffee scoop that my mom used every day of her life for decades.  Technically, it probably isn't worth ten cents, but it is worth a great deal to me.

Meanwhile, the LOC is finally feeling more "at peace" as he finally found the box that contained all his USB ports, thumb drives (quite frankly, I have no idea what it is you drive with only your thumb), his HDMI cords (apparently those are nearly priceless) and all the other mysterious treasures that make his day.

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So whether you are finding new treasures, or enjoying old ones, hope you are enjoying this evening.  Until next time ...Marsha

Finally - Two Pictures of Our New Place !!

View from the Living Room
Cozy and Just My Size

Okay, so obviously I do not have the mechanism down correctly quite yet.  But I do finally have pictures uploaded onto my computer and have (after trial and error) been able to post them on this page.

I thought I would at least show those of you who have been asking for pictures of our new home, two photos:  The picture of the woods is from our living room window; and then a shot of our new kitchen.

More to come, when I can work out the glitches! 

Until next time ... Marsha

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tossing a Teapot

Vintage Teapot ClipartToday I did the previously unthinkable.  I tossed a teapot.  A pretty tea pot and a good cup of tea are more than just refreshment to me.

They are symbolic of many things in my life.  Family history, comfort, beauty, and friendship.

I had my first cup of tea when I was thirteen years old.  It was given to me by the woman who would, years later, become my mother-in-law.  Tea making was a frequent activity in her kitchen, and there were certain rituals which surrounded it.  Her name was Lucy.

Today it surprises me how many women do not know the difference between a teapot and a tea kettle.  The former is what you steep the tea in after you have boiled the water in the tea kettle.  Lucy was adamant that you must first begin with fresh, cold water.

You should boil the water until the tea kettle whistled.  Now truly, so many years later, I can tell you that a whistling tea kettle has to be one of the most cheerful sounds in the world.  Why anyone would substitute that moment of cheerful anticipation for a cup of water popped into the microwave and zapped for 60 seconds is just beyond me.

Yes, I know we are all busy and in a hurry.  But some things are more than worth a few extra minutes.  A well-brewed cup of tea is one of them.

Additionally, Lucy never (and I do mean never) used tea bags.  For her, tea meant one thing:  loose leaf Lipton Tea.  
It is still my "tea of choice" although Earl Grey, Twinings, and several others are fine teas also.  Alas, I may soon have to fore go brewed loose leaf tea, as there is only one store in our area which still carries it.  Tea bags are now the norm, more's the pity.

I have formed new friendships over that first cup of shared tea.  The warmth, the sense of peaceful communication that accompanies a cup of tea is just different from that of other shared beverages.  For example, coffee drinkers may enjoy one anothers' company, but you rarely see people drinking coffee who look relaxed.  They generally look like they are amped up and are talking a mile-a-minute.  A cup of tea has only about one-third the caffeine of coffee.

Of course, it is just my opinion, but I think people having tea together tend to smile more.

It stands to reason, that with my life-long love affair with all things "tea" I would collect teapots.  I have one from a visit to Windsor Castle in England, one from Mt. Vernon, the historical home of George Washington, and many others.  They each have a little story, or family history, that goes with them.

One of my favorite teapots was given to me by my daughter, on her wedding day.  It was a "thank you" gift to me, and I cried when I opened it and read the accompanying card, after she and her new husband had departed for their honeymoon.

But today, I tossed a teapot.  We are in a new house, with new opportunities and new challenges, and when I unpacked one that had been broken years ago and glued together more than once, I asked myself why I was holding on to a broken teapot.

It was no longer usable, the glue might fail and someone could get burned.  It wasn't very pretty either, as the glue seams now showed plainly.  And goodness knows, I have plenty of other teapots to display for just the joy of looking at them.  So I tossed it in the recycle bin.

Ecclesiastes says there is a time to keep and a time to throw-away.  It was time.  There is a time to toss away old, worn out, broken things which no longer serve us well.  This applies to more than just teapots.
                                               * * * * *

Hope you are keeping the good things in life and tossing out the things that no longer serve you well.  Until next time ...Marsha

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Visiting the Neighborhood

We are still in the middle of unpacking and it looks as if it may go on for a while.  I am hoping that New Year's Eve (of 2015) will find us settled in, but if that is to happen we are going to have to pick up the pace. 

At this rate it could be years before we find the spare light bulbs or the extra bed linens.  We did find keys ... to things we have not owned for twenty years!

In view of my current time constraints, today I thought I would offer a few suggestions for good places (blogs) to visit where friends of mine share their thoughts.  Each of these writers will give you a smile and/or offer something to think about.

Until Next time ... Marsha

Sonja over a bits and pieces always has something fun to share or some well-honed wisdom to offer.

Clint at Lyrics of Love and Lore is fun to visit, too; although sometimes he is full of baloney.  :)

Janette at Janette's Sage shares good thoughts.

Denise at The Quiet Quill offers thoughtful insights and warm glimpses of family life at their house.

Rick Watson at Life 101 usually will offer a few good chuckles about life in the south.

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There are lots of additional blogs that I also enjoy, but time did not permit me to list them all.  Please accept my apologies to those I regularly visit, but did not list today.  Catch you another time.  :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Stilettos -They Can Kill You (Wrinkled Brows)

Stiletto:  a slender dagger with a blade thick in proportion to its breadth, a pointed instrument for piercing holes.

Clearly, from the two definitions above, stilettos were never intended to be worn as footwear.  As body armour, perhaps; as a weapon of self-defense, possibly; but as fashion?  I have heard it said that it must have been a man who invented these instruments of torture; because  you notice you never see a man wearing them.

Actually, this is untrue.  According to Wikipedia (that bastion of intellectual veritude) the inventor was a woman name Kristin Wagner, although there is some disagreement as to the very first maker of these things.

They came to mind today only because we have a guest staying at our house and as I placed an extra blanket on the guest bed, because the nights in the foothills are getting chilly, I could not help but notice a pair of black patent leather stiletto heels sitting by her suitcase.

My knees almost buckled in what must have been the podiatry equivalent of post-traumatic stress syndrome.  How many board rooms did I walk into over the years dressed in high-heels, while all the other attendees, all men, of course, were wearing Florsheim's or Ferragamo loafers?  Certainly something a good deal more comfortable than those loathsome stilettos.

Health-wise they are disastrous.  The very definition of a stiletto heel dictates that at the base of the heel stem where it meets the floor, it should be no wider than one-half an inch!  Really?

If you asked any sane woman whether she might like to just hop up and balance her entire body on the tip of her nose, she would justifiably look at you as if you were deranged. 

And yet, trying to balance your entire body on a half-inch diameter spot under your foot doesn't make a whole lot more sense, if you ask me.  (Of course, now that I come to think of it, no one did.)  I'm just saying.

Every foot doctor will tell you they are bad for your feet, bad for your back,  bad for your posture, .... bad, bad, bad.  I am telling you, women, Manolo Blahnick and Christian Louboutin (you know, the guy who makes all the soles of his shoes bright red) are NOT your friends.

Now don't get me wrong.  I have spent my fair share of filthy lucre on footwear.  At one point in my corporate career I had a different pair of shoes for every suit I owned, and in colors that were the height of fashion.  I like a well-coordinated ensemble as well as the next woman.  Well, I did before I retired.  These days my idea of an "ensemble" is a clean pair of jeans and a polo shirt with a sharp looking pair of Reeboks.

Where was I?  Oh, yes.  Those awful dagger-heels that will give you bunions the size of cantaloupes, plantar fasciitis, hammer toe, and probably dropsy, too - although admittedly I do not really know what dropsy actually is.

Sensible shoes.  The very phrase makes some women who fancy themselves "fashionistas" shudder at the thought.  Okay.  Fair enough.  It may be true that only lonely librarians and women of a certain age wear sensible shoes.

But I've got a news flash for you.  At least they are not making Dr. Scholl's richer than he already is, by buying corn plasters, toe splints, ointments, callous pumice, etc. by the gross.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was from a woman giving a lecture to a bunch of us professional women during a seminar.  She said, "By the way, ladies, whatever else you do or don't do for yourself over the next few years, for goodness sakes, stop wearing those awful high heels and buy some good looking, but comfortable shoes.  Twenty years from now you will hunt me down to thank me."

I took her suggestion to heart and began from that day onward to select more comfortable footwear.  Do you know that stiletto heels are often associated with "foot fetishes"?  Now that cannot be a good thing.  And I am telling you that wearing your soft, fuzzy slippers for an hour or so before bedtime, isn't going to undo the damage to your feet you inflicted upon yourself during eight hours at the office, or wherever you labor.

So do yourself a favor.  The next time you are tempted to blow a wad on instruments of self-torture, stop (or at least hesitate) long enough to ask yourself this:  Will my feet thank me tomorrow?

If the answer is "no" - keep walkin'.  :)

Until next time  - your sensible brogan-wearing compatriot - Marsha

Note:  Wrinkled Brows is an occasional Monday series on a word or quote of interest (perhaps only to me).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Peace That Upholds - and Holds Up

Jesus promised us peace.  He was very specific about it.  "My peace I give you."  He said he would share his own kind of peace with us.

What kind of peace would Jesus have, do you think?  My guess is that it would be the kind that reflected his relationship with his Father, the kind that knew the beginning from the end, and the kind that understood momentary afflictions work a far greater "weight of glory."

That kind of peace upholds us when we are weak, and holds up even during the tough trials.

Today, I was aware of "that kind of peace" as I waited for them to do another procedure on my son at the hospital.  And I was aware that many of you were praying for us.  It was a special kind of awareness that I have not encountered too many times during my Christian walk.

There is no specific way to describe that kind of God-given peace in a tough situation; but my best try would be that it feels a bit like resting after a hard day's work.

I felt like I was resting even in the middle of the process.  No, the day did not go particularly smoothly.  The medical transport was a bit late arriving, and every minute counted as the necessary personnel were not available in the afternoon, so the morning hours were precious.

Then the admitting personnel did not have our doctor's orders, could not find them, and did not expect us (this despite the fact that I had called to confirm both yesterday and again this morning .)

So, no, this peace was not about "smooth sailing."

And his PICC line could not be salvaged as we and the doctor had hoped.  It had migrated too far from the desired location and needed to be removed, and a new one place in his other arm.

So, no, this peace was not about preferred outcomes.

I do believe it was about answered prayer though.  While we did encounter confusion, and to be honest some incompetence, when it really counted the technician who placed the new PICC line was extremely competent.  God knows when competence really matters.

And the sense of peace just grew.
                                          * * * * *
K. is tired, I am tired.  It has been an exhausting two days.

But the peace that passes understanding keeps holding up.  That is because of the Prince of Peace. 

Blessings to you tonight, and may you have peaceful rest.
...until next time ...Marsha

Short Fuse - Long Day

Living in the midst of a long-term family illness is always a challenge.  Every daily detail, whether significant or not, must be planned and scheduled around the issues to do with the medical situation.  Many of you also experience this, or have in the past.

Yesterday Murphy's Law (everything that can go wrong, will go wrong) was working just fine, thank you very much.  IV supplies were in short supply, thanks to another nurse who used the last of the a) syringes, b) saline bottles, c) heparin, d) dispensing picks, e) take your pick.  And, of course, she did not tell us.  So, surprise!  As we prepare to do his infusion.

This necessitated another call to the IV infusion pharmacy alerting them to add "whatever" to the order they were delivering later in the day.  Then the UPS driver arrived, unexpectedly (he was the due the day before, so we were grateful he came, but still) with wound vac supplies.

Then the PICC line to his heart, that delivers the high-powered antibiotics to fight the infection in his bone marrow, "migrated" - that is, moved an inch or two and now here we are today, facing a long day in the hospital ER.  While it will be a non-emergency visit, it is Saturday and that means any regular appointments are not possible and we must wait, for however long the powers-that-be decide to let him lay in the lobby on a gurney, until someone can do an ex-ray of the placement of the line to determine whether it must be removed and a new one placed in his other arm.

He is definitely running out of body parts to puncture.

Called the medical transport people yesterday to schedule this unanticipated ride to the hospital via gurney, only to be informed that they had no vehicle available at the time we were requesting.  They could come two hours later, and warned us that we will likely have to wait two hours from the time he is finished at the hospital, before they can pick him up.  Oh, goody.

And on and on it goes.......  and where it stops, only God knows.  But He does know.  That is all that keeps us going.

I am not the energizer bunny, much as I try to imitate one.  And K. has been battling various medical emergencies for over 25 years.  I have tried to be there with him through each one.  This time, I have a front-row seat for each and every day for the past three months, and for the next three also, as we have been informed that it will be at least that long.  That was the news for this week.

I have often said, "The years may fly by, but the days can be very long."  Today may seem interminable, but it is not.  It will end, and God will still be God, and we will still be depending upon Him.

Checklist for K.
His health insurance and ID cards
His water bottle
An extra sheet to help with gurney transfer
Small blanket - hospitals are COLD
Call ahead to assure they are expecting a gurney arrival
Confirm PICC line nurse available
Assure Wound Vac battery viability for length of stay
Call medi-transport to confirm vehicle available

Checklist for me:
Water bottle
Crossword puzzle book & pencil
Reading material
Cell phone
Snack bars
Ibuprofen (those hospital waiting room chairs kill my back)

Okay - we are "good to go" - may the force be with us!  :)  Actually the only true force in the universe - Our Heavenly Father - is with us.  Thankfully!

Until next time - hope your "to do list" is more fun than ours.  :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Paradise Found

Paradise Found Wood SignWe are now officially living on "our half-acre of Paradise".  No, really, that is the name of the town we moved to last week, and we did buy a house on a half-acre lot.

I'll bet some of you thought I was kidding when I wrote about our half-acre of Paradise a few blogs back.

The town welcome sign says:  May you find Paradise to be all the name implies.

Yes, it is rustic.  So much so that it does not even have a Wal-Mart.  It is only a little mountain village.  It has no Red Lobster, but it has the ComeBack Diner.  It has no Olive Garden, but it has Annie's Country Kitchen. It does, however, have the Paradise Symphony which is playing next Saturday evening. How I wish I could attend.

If only I could, or rather if only the *LOC had time to show me how to get the pictures I have taken of our new surroundings onto this blog, I would be glad to share the view with you.  But alas, he is buried up to his neck in his office.  Poor man found a stapler and a pen yesterday and I could hear his "whoop" of elation all the way down the hall. (*Lovable Old Coot)

If that sounds a bit odd, you must remember that others helped us move; and when you do not pack and label and unload your own stuff, well, it can be a challenge finding things.  You may run across an egg timer, but hunt in vain for an entire box full of silverware.

The LOC gave Holly (she is an "only dog" and knows it) a bath yesterday in our handy-dandy new laundry room sink.  But then realized he had no idea where her brushes were - so she had to just air-dry and now she will have Lhaso-tangles until we can either: a) find the brushes or, b) get her to the groomer.  We have an appointment for her, but they could not fit her in until next week.  Holly is not best pleased.

The movers got a kick out of her "attitude" - basically she runs the household - and one of them commented with amusement, "But she pulls it off."  She does, indeed, and woe be to those of us with only two legs who try to interfere. A princess of the realm knows her prerogatives.

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Breaking news: (but no pictures at eleven, until I can get some instruction on that USB port/import/thingie)

A friend stayed with my son at his house the other night, so that I could go spend a night in our new home.  Oh joy!  As we sat in the living room with the patio door open late in the evening, I could hear the frogs and crickets chirping and singing away.  It was the most peaceful sound in the world and I smiled all the way to my toes.  I cannot remember the last time I could hear that sound at night.  In the city where we lived for the past twenty years, "night sounds" ran to sirens and helicopters circling overhead.

Next, I had the pleasure of waking up in my own bed for the first time in months, and the view from our master bedroom window ... well, words fail me, and that does not happen too often.

The sun breaking through the pine forest right outside our window.  Deer wandering around next door. Pinch me, I must be dreaming.

And then to top it all off, we received a call from the doctor's office telling us that ALL K.'s lab tests came back with good improvement this week!  Thankful, thankful, thankful ! 
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God is good - when we know it, when we forget it;
when we believe it and when we doubt it;
when we hope for it, when we lose hope;
when we succeed, when we fail;
when we laugh, when we cry;
when we love, when we fail to love;
when we remember to thank him and when we forget to thank him - God is good all the time.  All the time, God is good.

My understanding, or lack thereof, has no influence upon his goodness.  His goodness, however, has every influence upon my understanding.

God bless you, until next time ... your friend in Paradise - Marsha

Monday, October 17, 2011

Heaven Help Us - In Other Words

When you have no helpers,
                    see your helpers in God.
When you have many helpers,
                   see God in all your helpers.
When you have nothing but God,
                   see all in God.
When you have everything,
                  see God in everything.
Under all conditions, stay thy heart only on the Lord.
                                ~Charles Spurgeon

My daughter once shared with me something her pastor had used in his sermon one Sunday morning.  It has stuck with me for years. He said,
            You don't know that God is all you need,
              until God is all you have.

Perhaps you have experienced this very thing; I have, and it made me more grateful than I had ever been before.

Just this last week, we truly needed "helpers" as we were moving for the first time in over twenty years.  Several of our family members were unavailable due to jobs, distance, health issues, etc.  But a family moving in across the street from where we were moving out helped us in surprising ways, and we were grateful.  And they helped despite the fact that they had a brand new, two week old, baby.  Can you imagine?  Talk about heaven sent.

For several reasons, we did not feel we could ask anyone to come help us.  However, without being asked, another family member who had only been to our home twice in several years, suddenly called and said he was on his way to help us pack.  It was a ten hour drive one-way; but he came and spent three days helping pack.  It was a direct answer to prayer, as I had been praying about some "moving help" for weeks.

On another front, though, my son is ill, and all the helpers in the world cannot help.  We need God to give us a genuine "heavenly assist" - because even the doctors can only do so much in this situation.  So I am focusing on "seeing God" in every doctor, every nurse, every day, every hour, while also remembering they are limited, but we serve an unlimited God. For nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37 NIV)

During my life, I have been blessed to be "the helper"  from time to time; but in recent months, I have needed some help. For me it is much harder to receive help than to give it.  And it used to almost choke me to have to ask for it.  Yesterday, it was as simple as needing someone to lift a 35 lb. bag of dog food out of the trunk of my car, where the grocery clerk had placed it.  Ten years ago I could have hoisted it out myself.  Not anymore.  One of my son's friends came by and gladly did it for me.

Thus, whether we are helping, or being helped, we are all limited in what we can do for each other.  But God is able to do all things abundantly above that which we can even ask or think.

I will strengthen you and help you...  (Psalm 41:10 NIV)

Where would we be without Him?  Heaven help us, I don't want to find out.  Blessings to you - until next time .... Marsha
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The host for this weeks IOWT is Jennifer at Scraps and Snippets.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It's Hard to Scratch A Knuckle - Wrinkled Brows

Note:  Wrinkled Brows is an occasional Monday series on a word or a quote of interest (perhaps only to me).

Itch:  an uneasy irritating sensation in the upper surface of the skin usually held to result from mild stimulation of the pain receptors.

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to satisfactorily scratch one of your knuckles when it itches?  It is an odd thing, isn't it?

As I was trying to drift off into slumber land the other evening, I noticed my ring-finger knuckle was itching like crazy.  I turned on the light and checked out my annoying digit.  No welt - so not a mosquito bite - no rash, no nothing.  Just itching.

I tried scratching it, but that just didn't seem to do it.  I tried rubbing it, too.  No joy in that either.

I gave some thought to why it is so hard to scratch a knuckle in such a way that it will actually stop itching, and I decided it is the wrinkles.  They prevent getting to the "root of the itch" if you will.

This is not like the spot between your shoulder blades, which can be scratched effectively, provided your arms are long enough.  Mine are not, so I usually have to enlist the aid of a back-scratcher.

But if you can reach that trouble spot, you can usually alleviate the problem.  Not so with itchy knuckles.  This also holds true for itchy heels, elbows and knees.  None of these areas can be effectively scratched in such a way as to stopping the itching.  It is a nuisance.  Fortunately, for me at least, it is a rarely occurring nuisance, but still.

Finally, it dawned on me what all of these spots have in common.  They all have naturally occurring wrinkles, or little folds in the skin.  (Of course, that could just be me.) Ah ha, that is the answer. 

While I lay and pondered the significance of this discovery, I suddenly thought, "Oh my goodness.  Those poor Shar Peis, how do they ever scratch an itch?"  You know, that odd breed of dog which have so many wrinkles everywhere that they are "so ugly they are cute."           

And as for me, my knuckle finally stopped itching, and I drifted off to sleep still empathizing greatly with those poor wrinkled pooches famous for their folds.
                                        * * * * *      
Life can be like an itchy knuckle.  An ill-defined uneasiness, not quite pain, but not something that can be ignored.  Inchoate hopes and dreams.  Unspoken promises we wish we had kept anyway.  Life is a Shar Pei, with lots of wrinkles built right in.

Hope you are in a good spot this evening, with nary an itchy wrinkle anywhere. Until next time ... Marsha

Friday, October 14, 2011

Absent - and the Dog Ate My Homework

You were all very kind with your comments and good wishes about our move-in yesterday.  Thanks so much!

By and large the Post-It Notes worked like a charm.  Only one lamp was broken in the mayhem, which I take as something of a minor miracle, compared to other moves I have made.  Did I ever tell you about the time decades ago, when someone who was helping us move grabbed a pot of cooked beans right off the stove and put in on the tailgate of a pickup truck that was pulling out of the driveway to go over to the new place?  If not, we will just save that little cautionary tale for another day.  Talk about gas up and go.

But you know it is always the "little foxes that spoil the vines" and just to double-up on the cliches, the devil is in the details.

My dad hated moving day, even though we moved often, because of the nature of his work.  He was also extremely superstitious and would not allow my mom to move a broom from one house to another, as that was supposed to be bad luck. 

Now everyone knows how irritating new brooms are. They just won't behave; they keep flipping stuff back in the direction you just swept because the bristles are too stiff, and you have to sweep the same area about four times with a new broom, as compared to one that is well broken in.

Poor mom (who did not have a superstitious bone in her body) probably hastened her own demise from over-sweeping because she could hardly ever keep a broom long enough to get it properly broken in.  Once she hid the broom, and thought she would be able to sneak it into the new place.  When dad discovered her deception, he about had a coronary and declared that everything from rickets to world famine was going to ensue all because mom had dared bring the darned used broom to the new place.

Now how did I get from our move to brooms to rickets?  Oh, yes, I was absent for a good part of the day yesterday (at the clinic with my son) and thus the LOC and the movers were left free to do their best....or worst...depending upon your point of view.

When I later returned for a quick walk-through, I found things mostly acceptable, but some details were disturbingly confused.  For example, lamp shades had been screwed onto the wrong lamps.  I politely asked the *LOC why he couldn't tell which went where by looking at the style of the finials?  (*Lovable Old Coot)

He gave me a look that said, "Lady, if you had been here during the last excruciating hours, keeping the dog from chasing her new friends, the squirrels and the three deer walking brazenly down the lane, and keeping the movers from attaching cables, wires and hoses to things that were never designed to accommodate them, you would not be asking me about finials.  What the heck is a finial anyway?"  (The LOC can say more with a look than most people can with a dictionary.)

Well, there you have it folks.  It is not pleasant to be present in the middle of a move, but it really does not pay to be absent either.  In any case, all finials have been restored to their proper location and all is well with the world....or at least the 1/2 acre of it that we now occupy.

Until next time...guard your finials as best you can, and if they get away from you...just chalk it up to experience! ...Marsha

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Post-It Note Sofas

Super Sticky NotesWhen the movers begin to unload our "stuff" tomorrow morning bright and early, I have left a little trail of clues for them.  A kind of 21st Century bread crumbs - Post It Notes.

I cannot be there when they unload, as tomorrow is clinic day for K. and I am needed there.

But the LOC* was not comfortable deciding where to tell the movers to put the larger items, knowing that if he got it wrong, he and I would be huffing and puffing trying to muscle them around by ourselves, long after the movers have departed. Trust me, this would not be a good thing for either of us. (*Lovable Old Coot)

Thus, he suggested that I draw diagrams and leave them where they could find them.  But my artistic skills run to the paint-by-numbers variety, and besides, diagrams can be turned around in the wrong direction and suddenly the sofa is sitting backed up to the bird bath.  You know what I am talking about.

So I decided to place Post-It Notes in each place a major piece of furniture is supposed to be deposited.  Let's hope it works.  Otherwise, the LOC and I have sore backs, frayed tempers, and lots of scuff marks on the new hardwood floors to look forward to.  I just hate scuffed up floors, don't you?

I must say, though, placing little colored squares where you envision the sofa residing isn't very satisfying.  I also tried putting pillows down in approximately the space a chair or sofa would require.  That did not seem to quite do it either.

Phooey!  Let's hope those beefy young mover-guys are fluent in both pillowese and Post-It Notes, or I may find my sofa on the roof when I get there.  Oh well, if so the LOC and I will just climb up there and sit a spell.  That would be kind of welcome after the chaos of the past few days.   * * * *

Hope your sofa is right where you want it to be this evening.  I'm hoping mine will be by this time tomorrow evening.  Until next time ...Marsha

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jam-Packed: The Move Is On

Moving van rental quote for moving service.Tomorrow the big move finally happens.  In some ways it has all come together pretty quickly. 

It is our first move in over twenty years.  Boy, have we accumulated a lot of stuff.  And that is mostly just what it is -  just stuff. 

The fact that I have now been absent from home for three months, living out of one suitcase shows just how little of that "stuff" is really necessary for daily living.  But I do miss some of it.

The LOC* told me that he wrapped my teapots carefully. And I appreciate that.  However, his son, who helped him pack up the kitchen, said he also packed jars - lots of jars.  We don't need jars.  I haven't canned anything since 1978. I don't want those jars, but the LOC* kept them. (*Lovable Old Coot)

J. said, "Dad, you are seventy years old, its time to get rid of the jars."  The LOC just looked at him and said, "But I might need them sometime."  Uh - huh. 

Then there is his mug collection, his DVD collection, his sports memorabilia collection .... need I go on?  I have heard that in every marriage it is likely that one is a collector and one is a tosser.  In our household, I am the tosser.  If I have not used it in the past year, out it goes.  My ideal dresser drawer is one that is only two-thirds full.

I like bare places in the floor space, open areas on the walls, and room to move around in the garage.  The LOC, left untended (which I most certainly do not intend to do) would cover every square inch of every wall in the house with family photos.  Every square foot of the garage would contain a box, a bin, or a piece of equipment.  He has a bicycle with two flat tires that he refuses to get rid of "in case he needs it in an emergency."  Really ?

What's the plan?  Put the emergency on "pause" while he pumps up the bike tires?  I'm just saying.

Tonight, when I called to see how he was holding up, because I cannot be there and he is doing this solo now that J. has returned to Portland, he proudly but tiredly told me he had packed another fifty boxes today.  Another fifty!  Can we say jam-packed?

Thank the lord, the movers come tomorrow and he will be forced to stop and just leave some of it.  And the following day, all our stuff will arrive at the new house, just 15 minutes from where I am staying with K., and I can begin to sort - and toss - and sort - and toss - and .....  until we are no longer jam-packed.  I hope ...
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Hope whatever you are jamming or tossing tonight, you are doing it with a smile.  Until next time ...Marsha

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Dancing Street Sign Guy

I've been watching this guy for a few weeks now.  He is either really, really desperate to make some money, or just plain happy-go-lucky crazy.  Maybe both.  But he makes me laugh, and right now I take my chuckles anywhere I can find them.  

He has taken what could be, and by all accounts probably should be, a boring, humiliating job and turned it into something else entirely.  Exactly what he has turned it into, well I am not sure, but it is fun to watch.

He stands on a street corner near where my son K. lives, and variously displays, holds, dances with, caresses, and plays with a mobile phone sign - a great big one.  The sign is almost as big as he is tall.  There is an actual name for such a job:  sign spinners.  I have seen the employment ads.  They are also called "live billboards."

I have read, and heard somewhere, that the people who do the street-sign-advertising-dancing-billboard-thing get paid minimum wage; that is, unless they really move around with that thing and call a lot of attention to the sign.  In the latter case, I am told they can make around fifteen dollars an hour, or about double the minimum wage.

So this guy clearly is  motivated to move.  But he has taken it to a whole other level.  He lunges, then freezes in place, then twirls it, stands it straight on end, while balancing it on one palm (and this thing is about six feet long and two feet wide) then whirls it again.  All this action is accompanied by a variety of facial expressions ranging from goofy to faux-menacing.

He makes eye contact as the cars drive by.  He does not wink, or flirt in anyway, but rather he gives direction with his eyes, which seem to say "look at this sign" - "come on into the store" - "oh, come on, you know you want to" - "why not stop in and buy a new cell phone ?".

Then he plays a wildly energetic ditty on his sign-cum-air-guitar.  Some drivers honk encouragement and I have watched others give him a thumbs-up sign as they drive by.  He is just plain fun.

His build suggests he may be an athlete, or a professional dancer - he is muscular but very lithe.  And he varies his "look" from day to day.  One day it is aviator shades, a t-shirt and knee-shorts.  Next day it is a stocking cap, jeans, and combat boots.  He makes each ensemble look like a costume in his own little drama, played out before thousands of cars driving by his corner each day. 

The other day it finally struck me what he had managed to turn this odd gig into:  performance art.  I am not kidding you, he has.  He is entertaining and engaging all in the five seconds it takes to drive by him.

But there is more to him that a hat and a sign.  Here is how I know this.  Last week a mobile phone competitor had put their own street-sign-wielding-guy on the same corner.  He was short, a little chubby and not very well coordinated.  I happened to be stopped by the red signal light, so I got to watch this tableau play out.

The new guy tried a twirl with his sign.  It made one pitiful half circle and fell off his arm.  The "artful" pro clapped him on the shoulder in a friendly manner and showed him how to hold it so that it would whirl around two or three times before coming to rest in the upright position.   The other guy smiled, they exchanged a couple of words, and each went back to their respective sections of the corner.

The show was back on for the pro-guy as he lunged, laughed, and pumped his sign.  The other guy sighed and tried to make sure his was at least held up over his head for a few seconds.  After all there was money on the line here.
                                         * * * *

How many of us would take a job that required us to make foolish looking gyrations on a street corner, make it into an entertainment venue, and then even help out the newcomer as he tried to imitate us?  Not too many, I would venture to guess.

So here is this guy, doing what he can to make the very most of an odd job, and even demonstrating generosity and kindness while doing it.  I was impressed.

Just goes to show you, it doesn't take a large venue in life to make a positive impression.  Just some heart, a sense of humor, and a little kindness.

Until next time .... Marsha

Saturday, October 8, 2011

If Looks Could Kill, I'd Be Dead Right Now

Granted I was perhaps a smidge over the exact, precise, middle of the area in the exit of the restaurant driveway allotted to those going out.  Okay, I'll own that. I wanted to get K.'s take-out dinner back to him while it was still hot and was not paying strictest attention.

 In my own defense, there was no center line painted, and my bifocals sometimes interpret the world in their own way, regardless of where I perch them on my nose.

But the lady driving in was not exactly perfectly aligned with her own lane's dead-center; nevertheless, she gave me a look that would have done me severe damage, if not out-right killed me, if looks could do that.  Trust me, hers almost had that effect.  Scary!

I had never met her before, and I sure hope I never have to again.  Oh my, that look was just dreadful.  It was more than sour, more than irritated, more than resentful - but something less than human.  It was bovinely opaque but wolfishly cruel.

Uggghh!  It made me shudder as we slowly passed each other and she shot me daggers as though I had personally, deliberately, with great malice aforethought, just ruined her entire day.

Now bear in mind, I did not in any way impede her progress, nor do her any actual damage, nor even slow her progress.  I simply was "in her way" from her apparent visible reaction.

It was startling, this wildly exaggerated response, to what was not even a minor inconvenience.  And yet there was this expressed hostility to a complete stranger (that would be me - shivering in the Le Sabre's seat).

I drove home contemplating, what causes a person to take something so personally that they feel the need, nay the right, to glare daggers at another human being?

It simply escapes me.  Dear lord, what dwells in a heart that is that angry at the world in general?

You may be wondering, "Why does it matter?"

I would suggest that this kind of unwarranted anger, simmering so frequently just below the surface of our society in general, is what leads to road rage, drive-by random shootings and other unnecessary and yet increasing mayhem.

Now I am not a particularly mild-mannered individual myself.  I can be snarky, and stupid and demanding.  Can't we all?

But anytime I privately find myself muttering under my breath something about another person like "what an idiot" - and I have been known to do that - I immediately stop and ask for forgiveness.  Well, almost always.

I cannot know what provoked them, what burden they carry, what sorrow they bear, what fury they are trying to resist.

What I can do is say a quick prayer for them.  (And stay well on my own side of the driveway.  :) And then say one for myself,  asking the Lord to help me refrain from joining the incivility in today's every day life.  It is a little thing, but even if it is the least I can do, it is something.

Sometimes a "little something" is all we can do.  And occasionally it is even enough.  :)  Until next time ...Marsha

First the Peas, Then Marbles, Then Golf Balls

060608-15b.jpg (56026 bytes)As I mentioned a day or two ago, we skipped fall here in Northern California and went straight from summer to winter.  Two days ago it rained, then sleeted and finally just flat-out hailed.  First the hail was pea-sized.  Noisy, but generally not damaging.

Shortly, however, the sound changed and as I walked to the window I could see marble sized pellets bouncing all over the patio, yard, and sidewalks.  The racket was distracting and I began to wonder about body damage to the Buick, which is sitting in K.'s driveway, because his car is in his garage so I have to park outside.

Just about the time I was convincing myself that the Buick could weather (no pun intended) just about anything - those Le Sabre's are built like a tank, which is why so many little old ladies drive them - the sound got worse.

A few minutes later there was a knock at the door and one of K.'s friends came in to report that the hail was golf-ball sized over on his side of town.  He had come over to see how we were faring in the storm.

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The three of us agreed this storm seemed pretty unusual for the first week in October around here.  The next day the newspapers confirmed it was "historic" and had done a lot of property damage all over the area.  But we were just fine.
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Isn't life just like that?  Little irritations build up and before you know it it is "raining" pea-sized disagreements and you are wondering how the storm sneaked up on you.

About the time that subsides, the racket in your life suddenly ratchets up a notch, or two, and now it is serious trouble time, and you are doubling-timing it just to stay even.  You look back at the pea-sized troubles and think to yourself, "What I wouldn't give to have only those to deal with today."  But today has handed you marble-sized difficulties and you are running around trying to do damage control.

About the time the clatter in your inner-ear (where the rotten one whispers encouragement to all your worst fears) has reached mind-numbing levels, a friend contacts you to inform you that it is hailing golf-ball sized troubles over in their yard.

Suddenly you are conflicted:  part of you wants to empathize with their situation and offer to help, but you are still cleaning up from the marble-mess in your own yard.

And the other part of you cannot help but be grateful that your troubles were limited to marble-sized and you were spared the golf-ball whacking that your friend is reporting.

Sometimes there is just no place to hide.  Life is hard.  Scott Peck in one of his books (and I cannot remember which one, but he first wrote The Road Less Traveled and then several more which I read, but they are all a little blurred just now) once wrote about life being hard. 

He said that as soon as we give up on the idea that life should be easy, and just accept that life is going to be hard, the sooner we will be more effective in handling life's tough challenges.  You may not agree with his view on this, but I have found it to be more true than not.

However, even if Peck were off base, there is a greater authority who said pretty much the same thing; and then he offered even better encouragement.

Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NIV)

Well, thank goodness!  Now maybe I can stop fretting over first the peas, then the marbles, and who knows what next?

Hope you can take heart this evening, too.  He has already overcome and all we need to do is follow in his footsteps.  Until next time ...Marsha

Friday, October 7, 2011

Comfort Food

Lagasse Frito Lay Cheetos Crunchy Cheese Snack, 64 Bags/CaseYesterday, while standing in line at the checkout counter at Save Mart, the lady behind me smiled and said, "Can't forget those Cheetos."               

I smiled and replied, "Yes.  After the day I've had, I need comfort food."  She nodded knowingly.

The weekly clinic visit had not gone well.  The blood tests results were not encouraging, and K. was frustrated.  Me too.

Yes, the doctor had said "They will fluctuate.  It won't always be a downward trend.", but K. had been hoping that the inflammation markers, so critical to his recovery would, of course, plummet like a duck shot in midair.  Not this week.

Thus, the Cheetos.  And the vanilla bean ice cream, and the ingredients for another batch of corn bread.  Sometimes they help ... a little.

However, there is another type of comfort food, that always helps, much more than a little, and will last more than a lifetime.

In John 6:35, Jesus said, "I am the bread of life."  

One of the spiritual disciplines that I practice consistently, is that I do not read any other material before I have read the Word, first thing in the morning.  Usually I read two or three chapters, but occasionally, if I am in a hurry to get started on my daily tasks, I may only read a few verses.  But I believe it is important that my spirit be fed before the challenges of life begin to take their toll.

As many of you undoubtedly know, sometimes during the day you will encounter some issue that one of the verses you read just that very morning will address perfectly.  It is one of those little "comforts" that God sends our way just because He loves us.

As we are also in the middle of a long-distance move, as well as an ongoing family illness, I seem to need a little comfort food more often than usual.  The LOC* just called from Sacramento to ask about how to pack the lamps.  (Remove the bulbs and the movers will wrap the lamps.)    *Lovable Old Coot

Here is another comforting thing.  The LOC's younger son just drove 10 hours straight from Portland to Sacramento to help his dad pack.  Tomorrow they are going up to Penn Valley to retrieve the travel trailer and then haul it and two truck loads to our new house.

This is truly an answer to prayer, as I just did not see how the LOC was going to get all this done alone, and I cannot leave K.  We did check with the doctor again yesterday to see if he could be allowed out of bed, and in his wheelchair for ten minutes at a time a few times a day (this way I could leave for several hours at a time.)  The answer was "no". 

Hand me the Cheetos.  No wait ...

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Colossians 3:13 NIV

If you are also in the middle of tough challenges, hope you are taking time to ingest the Bread of Life.  And, of course, a little snack of Cheetos, ice cream or whatever tickles your fancy can't hurt either.

Until next time ....  Marsha

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Missed A Season

Here in Northern California this week, we seem to have missed a season.  Somehow, we skipped right over fall and went straight from summer to winter, in about one point two days. 

Last night it rained all night, today it has been overcast all day, and tomorrow they are predicting a deluge with 30 to 40 MPH winds.

What, I ask you, happened to fall?  We didn't get one.  A week or so ago it was over 100 degrees.  Today the high is about 60 to 65.

My gyroscope is completely out of kilter.

In the Midwest, where I originally came from, fall meant hazy days, with piles of colorful leaves all raked up for us kids to jump into, and the smell of wood burning coming from the chimneys.

Now, truthfully, I was more than ready to be done with summer, as it had been scorching for days.  I just wasn't quite ready for what passes for winter around here.

Oh well, nothing to do but gear up, because I am pretty sure we don't get a mulligan on the weather.

Hope your autumn is shaping up nicely.  Until next time...Marsha

Monday, October 3, 2011

We tried ..... But It Didn't Work ~ Wrinkled Brows

Note:  Wrinkled Brows is a sometimes Monday series on a quote or a word of interest (perhaps only to me.)  

"We tried to legislate morality and ended up enshrining hypocrisy."
.... Ken Burns as quoted in Parade, October 2, 2011 in reference to his new PBS series on Prohibition.

I really never thought much about the Prohibition movement, or even the fact that it involved an amendment to the constitution, which was later repealed.  It was, after all, from my grandmother's era.  But now that I have given it some thought, it was a pretty amazing chapter in American history.  I watched the first episode last night on PBS as perhaps you did, too.

But it was the Ken Burns' quote above that really stopped me in my tracks, because it resonated with so much of what I have observed in various religious institutions during my lifetime.

Talk about legislating morality, or trying to.  I was raised in one of the very strictest conservative Protestant denominations.  We did not drink (probably why Prohibition never interested me very much), nor dance, nor wear makeup, nor wear jewelry (except for a wedding ring), etc. etc. etc.  I bought a red dress once, and made the mistake of wearing it to church, only to be soundly denounced by some of the older women for looking like a "Jezebel."  It was very wearing - every pun intended.

As you can readily see, many of the "prohibitions" in my religious upbringing were directed more toward the women of the congregation than the men.  I found that galling, even as a teenager.  But I obeyed because we were taught that was the way to holiness.  Unfortunately, I don't think I obtained holiness, except for often feeling "wholly ticked off."  Legalism - believe you me the pharisees had nothing on us in that department.

Not long ago, I stumbled onto a website - which I do not plan to name here because it was so discouraging to read, and because the authors seemed to gloat over the fallen - which listed dozens of major scandals involving well known preachers over the past fifty or sixty years.  Talk about "enshrining hypocrisy" - and they did a bang up job of it.  Some of those they listed were "legends" in my youth and others were held up as "heroes of the faith", when they were mostly egotistically driven frauds.  Sad, but true.

I don't really have many heroes any more.  Too many turned out to have feet of clay.  I really, come to think of it, only have one and they crucified him.  But I can relate to him more and more, partly because he hated the religious hypocrisy of his day and made no bones about it.  Neither was he an abstemious prude; in fact, he himself said they called him a drunkard and a glutton (neither of which was true).

Nevertheless, he did not allow it to cause him to become alienated from his Father, nor bitter toward others, nor isolated from the fellowship of believers.  He recognized hypocrisy, named it for what it was, and then just went about his Father's business.

Now there is an example worth following.  Until next time ...Marsha

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Betwixt and Between

Have you ever had one of those days where you just didn't feel like you belonged anywhere?  Nothing seemed to quite fit, either in the clothing department, the food selection, the books available - nothing suited your mood? 

Sure you have.  We all have had those days.  And while they are a little uncomfortable, or perhaps "discomfiting" would be more accurate, we all know they pass and things get back to normal.

Right now, my problem is that there is no knowing what normal is, or when it ever will be again.  I have only been home once in three months (due to my son's illness), my husband (the LOC*) is doing all the packing for our upcoming move, because I cannot find anyone to stay with K. while I go home to help pack, and thus the home I had is no longer "home", and the home we have bought to move to, is not quite ready either.  (*Lovable Old Coot) 

So we are betwixt and between, and it is darned uncomfortable - or discomfiting.  I'm going to have to look that word up and determine which is more accurate.  Excuse me a minute, please.   

..............  Thanks for holding.  I'm back.  Yep - thought so.  It is discomfiting.  To thwart plans or to put into a state of perplexity.  Sure enough, that's me right now, I am discomfited. 

I have so many plans for the new place, but I can only visit for an hour or so at a time, before I need to be back here at K.'s house.  I am totally perplexed as to how the LOC is going to manage all this on his own.  While he is fully capable in many areas, "home organization" would not be counted among his top ten.  Of course, that is only my opinion, and I could be wrong.  I'm just saying.

He calls to tell me that he has trimmed all the front hedges and packed up all his jackets!  Whaaat???  There is an entire kitchen to be packed up, not to mention three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a living room, a sun room, etc. etc. etc. - and he is trimming hedges and packing his jackets?  Granted he has about a kajillion jackets, so that was no small feat, but it still does not rank above about 50th in the list of things that need to be done to prepare for the move.        

Betwixt and between.  Those are the times in life where you learn whether you know how to "steady down" and wait it out.  Between the job interview and the call which tells you whether or not you are hired.  Between the first inkling that you may be expecting another child and the confirmation that you definitely are pregnant.  Between the time the tests are run and the call with the diagnostic results.  Betwixt old friends who perhaps do not call like they once did, and making new ones when you get the opportunity to do so.

I wipe down the kitchen counters again.  I read today's newspaper, bake a pan of cornbread, just little things.  I am, these days, living what I think of as a very "small life."  One that is bounded by tight restrictions as to time and space.  I am, to be sure, betwixt and between.

So then, my choice is to either dwell on my "discomfiture" (odd word, isn't it?  but it is the right one) or be thankful for all the little things that I can do right now and remain as productive as possible.  I have many more choices than K. does, to be sure, so I have no room to gripe.

I remember my son's classroom motto (the high school special ed classroom where he teaches from his wheelchair when he is well) which is posted on the wall and reads: 
              Be present.      Be productive.       Be kind.

These are also good admonitions to me, while I am betwixt and between.

Hope you are not discomfited today and that you are fully present, productive and kind - both to yourself and to others - wherever your day takes you.  Until next time ....Marsha