Friday, November 25, 2011

Fat, Lean, and In-Between

Jack Spratt could eat no fat,
His wife could eat no lean.
And so between the two of them,
They licked the platter clean.
~ Mother Goose Nursery Rhyme

The day after Thanksgiving has many of us thinking about fat, or lean, or something in-between.  I don't know about you, but I had two pieces of pie yesterday; and I didn't need either one of them.  (Boysenberry and Dutch apple, in case you were wondering.  :) 

Of course, the original purpose of the holiday was to give thanks, but in recent years it seems to be more about food, food, and more food.  We are all seeking that magical, mystical "balance" that everyone seems to expound so sincerely, but few of us seem to practice in reality. 

However, on Thanksgiving and throughout the holidays in general, we apparently abandon the whole concept of balance and just turn into little self-indulgent piglets.  Of course, that could just be me.

Would that life's balances were as simple as the nursery rhyme above.  One fellow did not like fat, his wife didn't like the lean, and it all worked out just dandy between the two of them.

Fiddle!  The LOC* and I have never achieved that particular balance and I don't expect that we will anytime soon.  For example, he likes liver giblets in his turkey dressing:  I hate liver in any form, except for the vague hope that my own will keep functioning as it should.
(*Lovable Old coot)

I like celery in my dressing; but the LOC isn't crazy about it.  And for that matter, I like "dressing" prepared in a separate baking pan; whereas the LOC prefers "stuffing" which is actually put into the bird and baked in that manner.  Me, not so much.  Fortunately, we both like onions in the dressing or that would be a whole other dilemma.

So I don't know where this whole Mr. and Mrs. Spratt legend got started, but I am pretty sure it is apocryphal.  Meanwhile, on to the left overs ...thereafter, we move on to planning the next holiday meal.
                                                * * * * *
Hope you and yours did a fine job on that whole "balance thing" yesterday.  But if you fell a bit short of that lofty goal, take comfort...the rest of us didn't quite achieve it either.  Maybe next time ... Marsha

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The LOC Is Sick - Alert the Media

Sick Man with a Thermometer in His Mouth Clipart Picture by Dennis CoxYesterday I arrived at our little half-acre of heaven a bit later than usual; because on my way up the hill, I had stopped at the local wood-burning stove store to buy a new fireplace tool set. 

I knew right away that something was amiss because the garage door wasn't open, there was no Holly barking a greeting, and no LOC* waiting in the doorway with a smile.  (*Lovable Old Coot)

Instead, both the LOC and Holly, the resident Lhasa Apso, were stretched out in his recliner, with a blanket over him, and with Holly on top of both the blanket and the LOC.  As I walked in he feebly said, "Feel my forehead."  This is never a good beginning to a conversation, now is it?

Sure enough, he had a fever, and he pitifully lolled his head to one side to look up at me and said, quite unnecessarily, "I'm sick."  His reddened eyes confirmed his own diagnosis.

There is nothing quite as helpless as a grown man who is sick.  I have known three year-olds who can fend for themselves with more efficiency than a adult male with a cold.

"Have you taken any Tylenol for the fever?"

"No, I was planning to do that just as soon as I felt well enough to walk into the bathroom and get it out of the medicine cabinet", he said in a tone that implied that effort would be tantamount to ascending Mt. Everest.

"Would you like for me to turn up the thermostat?  Are you warm enough?"

"No, that's okay.  Holly has been keeping me warm."

Now I am flooded with a guilt-trip; because I am down the hill taking care of my son who is seriously ill after a difficult surgery, which means I am unavailable to take care of the LOC, who clearly could use some TLC himself.  How to be in two places at once?

"Would you like me to make some fresh coffee?"

"No, I am sticking with my green tea for now."

Yes, I have read all about the antioxidants per cup of green tea, etc. and I'm sorry but I can't stand the stuff.  Even the smell nauseates me.  But the LOC likes it, so good for him.

"Okay, can I get you anything to eat?"

"No, thanks.  I'm not hungry right now.  And I don't think I could eat anything that would go well with the cough syrup I've been taking all night."

Turns out he has been swilling that stuff all night like a lush on a bender, and is barely cogent.  Like I said, I've known three-year olds....

God bless his pointed head, I did what I could for him for the next three hours before I had to head back down the hill (about fifteen miles door-to-door) where K. was still bed fast and waiting for me to bring him some dinner.  Clearly I am spread a little too thinly, and I only wish my dress size reflected that reality.

I phoned the LOC later in the evening to check on how he was doing.  A little better - was the report.  Now if only Holly does not come down with the sniffles, maybe we will make it through this week. 

It is Thanksgiving this week, and I am thankful.  God knows my heart.  But right this moment, my thankfulness may be more along the lines of the old quote from B.F. Skinner (famous behavioral psychologist) who once said,

"If, at the end of the day, nobody died, nobody went to jail, and nobody threw up, it was a pretty good day."
                        * * * * * *
Hope everyone is doing well at your domicile.  Until next time ...Marsha  (not in jail, and not throwing up ... so far)

Monday, November 21, 2011


I love comforting sounds.  Some are musical; give me a good Peter White CD or a riff by the Rippingtons, and I am going to smile for thirty minutes.  Vivaldi's Four Seasons also makes me feel good.

The sound of a baby chuckling - now that is guaranteed to make even the crustiest old curmudgeon smile.

When I step out on the front porch in the morning to retrieve the newspaper, there is one little bird that is always perched on the top of the light pole across the street and he or she is just warbling away at the top of its teeny weeny little lungs, and standing there I can greet the morning with a grin.

But few sounds are more comforting to me than the sound of the dishwasher whooshing away in the kitchen, as I read a book or watch a program, or fold laundry, or whatever .... because whatever else I am doing, I am not washing the dishes!  Oh joy!

Have you ever heard of Josephine Cochran?  She invented the first mechanical dishwasher, in Shelbyville, Illinois.  When I stumbled upon that fact I thought to myself, "Of course a woman would invent the dishwasher.  Men were perfectly content to marry one."  :)

When I was growing up, dish washing machines were virtually unknown.  Oh, sure, they had probably been invented (since the wheel had proved to be such a big hit); but no one I knew owned one.  By the time I was in high school, my mom was inclined to respond to any question about owning a dishwasher by simply pointing to me or one of my sisters and saying, "Sure I have a dishwasher, and she is right over there."  Not original, to be sure, but she was not kidding.

There were the nightly after-dinner wrangles about who was clearing the table, who was washing, and who was drying.  Now I don't mind sweeping, mopping, ironing or most other household chores.  But I hated washing dishes.

I didn't like the feel of the dishwater, with all that yuck floating around in the dishpan, regardless of how much liquid soap you squirted in the pan.  Yes, we scraped and rinsed first but it just wasn't enough.  And we were not allowed to wash just a few pieces, dump the water and fill another pan with fresh water and more soap.  (Girls, we are not made of money around here.  Fill that pan and put the dish washing liquid in it once.)  Yes, maam.

I hated that slimy feeling that became more pronounced as the washing proceeded, and by the time you got to the pots and pans, I could hardly stand to put my hands in the water.  Uggghhh!

Even our first new home did not come with a dishwasher.  It was still considered a "luxury."  Excuse me?  Mink coats, 10-carat diamonds, Jaguars are luxuries.  But a dishwasher?  Pullleeeaase!

I had three children before I was finally able to get a house with a dishwasher.  I was over the moon.  Tickled pink with my own good fortune.  And I have never gotten over being sooooo thankful to have a dishwasher.

So this evening as I sit here listening to the gentle whoosh-swoosh of the dishwasher, watching Wheel of Fortune with one eye, and typing this with the other; I can smile.

And when I think of the upcoming holiday, with stacks of pots and pans and dishes and glasses, etc., knowing full-well that the machine will be washing every last blessed one of them ... well, I can really smile.  It makes me thankful three full days early!
                                   * * * * *
Whatever you are listening to this evening, I hope it is something that makes you smile.  Until next time ... Marsha

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Are You Doing for Thanksgiving ? Part II

Harvest Turkey Thanksgiving House FlagYesterday we talked about being thankful "in" all things, not necessarily "for" all things.  And I will be the first to acknowledge that this is easier said than done.    

For those of you who do not follow the bouncing spot around here very often, I have been staying at my son's house while he recovers from a very tough surgery.  

Once a week we go to the wound clinic where the doctor assesses his progress.  This past week, as the nurse worked on K.'s surgical dressing, she chatted merrily away and finally got around to the upcoming holiday.

"So what are you doing for Thanksgiving?  Are you going anywhere?" she asked us.

I saw K.'s muscles tense up, but he didn't say a word.  I sat there mortified and mystified.  This woman is an intelligent, hard working professional.  She cannot be stupid; but what in the world was the matter with her?  We have been coming here every week for four months, via medical transport with K. laid out on a gurney, like a turkey on a platter, and she can ask this?

I tried to smile and stammered, "Well, I will be cooking dinner at K.'s house, as he hasn't been going too many places lately."  She finally realized what she had said, and then laughed it off. 

I am sometimes, too often quite frankly, amazed at the density people display when dealing with another person's long term challenge.  It is as though they somehow think the problem "comes and goes."  It doesn't.  It is there - every day - every hour - every minute.

If you have a tough challenge in your life right now, you know exactly what I mean.  You eat, you try to get some sleep, work when you must, and every waking moment in between all those necessary life activities you are thinking about, sometimes fretting over, wrestling with..."what if this"..."what about that"..."what more can I do?".

So how do you get through it, whatever your particular challenge happens to be?  For me, it is by remembering that the One who knows me best and loves me most is also there, every day - every hour- every minute.  And He does not forget our circumstances, does not lose sight of the details of what we are dealing with moment by moment.

He can enable us to be thankful, regardless, provided we allow Him to do so.  In fact, His word clearly tells us that we should do so.  Why?  Not because He needs our gratitude, although He blesses it; but rather because we need to be thankful in order to maintain our clear flow of communion with Him.  Gratitude keeps the pipeline clear and free flowing.

So what are we doing for Thanksgiving?  I am baking a small ham, and also a turkey roast (not the whole turkey) as there will only be three of us - me, K. and the LOC*. (*Lovable Old Coot)  But when we bow our heads to say grace, I will be truly thankful in my heart for the One who gives us the gift of gratitude.  

Hope your Thanksgiving is full of thanks-giving.  Until next time ... Marsha
                                        * * * * *
"Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 
I Thessalonians 5:16 - 18 NIV

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Are You Doing for Thanksgiving ? Part I

Harvest Turkey Thanksgiving House FlagIt was 1959 and we had just moved to California.  My mother was cooking a bird for the holiday, but it wasn't our usual turkey.  We could not afford one that year; and someone had given my dad a duck so she was roasting it.  Or trying to. 

Mom had never roasted a duck before and was not quite sure about how to proceed.  Nevertheless, she basted and buttered as best she could and we were grateful for the gift.  As a child, I simply remember thinking, "Boy, this is odd looking meat."  It was so dark it was almost black.  It did not taste too bad, but it sure wasn't turkey either.

Life is like that sometimes.  You get used to turkey, preferably the light meat (you know who you are  ...  :) and then you get handed a duck.  You don't quite know what to do with it, but you do what you can.

I was sitting down in Sacramento a few months ago, "dining daily" as it were, on the light meat of life.  Good food, nice home, easy schedule.  And then whammo, a phone call, a trip to the hospital with my son, and I am handed a duck - and it is all dark meat. It's been a little stringy, too. (Just saying... )

As a fairly recent retiree, I had not cooked much lately.  Then K. came home from the hospital and I had to fire up the old range.  I have managed a few old staples:  pot roast with vegetables, goulash, spaghetti with sourdough bread, you know the usual stuff.  Clearly, I am no gourmet chef.

I have also had to learn to deal with the dark meat of life, again.  I am not mechanically inclined.  I can change a light bulb, but that is about it.  However, for the past four months I have learned to deal with a plethora of medical mechanics each day!  Now that, my friends is some dark duck we are talking about!

When life hands us tough stuff, most of us are tempted to wail away about our fate.  "Why me?" we whimper.  Well, sometimes I whimper; but maybe you are stronger than that.

And should anyone have the temerity to suggest we might want to adopt an "attitude of gratitude" - well, they proceed at their own peril.
Others scoff at the scripture that tells us to be thankful in all things.  Ah, but there is the point.  God knows our hearts, minds, and frail bodies.  He "remembers our frame and knows we are dust."

And the critical differentiator is not that we are instructed to be thankful "for" all things.  That is simply beyond our capability and understanding.  We are told to be thankful "in" all things.  I'm sure many of you have had this pointed out before; but it is important enough to repeat.

We are not grateful for pain.  But we can remain thankful in our pain.  We cannot be grateful for loss.  But we can become thankful during and through our losses.  We always have a choice - we can become better or bitter through our trials.
                                              * * * * *

As we approach the Thanksgiving Holiday, I hope your days are full of light and all good things.  Until next time ...Marsha

Note:  This is Part I of two posts on "What Are You Doing for Thanksgiving?"

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Have You Noticed ...???

Of course, it could just be me, but.....                 

Have you noticed that everything is further away than it used to be?  It is even twice as far to the corner ... and they have added a hill.

Have you noticed that the print in newspapers is getting smaller and smaller?  I heard that the newspapers are doing this to save money, so they can print more words on fewer pages.

I would ask someone to read it to me, but there is no sense doing that; because everyone speaks in a such a low voice you can hardly hear them.  Have you noticed?

And what about the fact that they seem to be issuing drivers' licenses to twelve year olds?    Then to top that, I went to the doctor yesterday and lo and behold, he was about fourteen.

And have you happened to notice how much your former classmates have aged?  I ran into an old classmate the other day, and she has aged so much that she didn't even recognize me.  Ridiculous!

And then, the final insult.  I was brushing my hair this morning and when I glanced at my own reflection I realized they don't even make good mirrors like they used to.  Have you noticed?

                                          * * * * *
Seriously, I hope you noticed something happy today.  I am trying to pay attention to any small spot of sunshine.  :)  Until next time ...Marsha

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

And the Question Is ???

Lately my days are exercises in coordinating various medical issues so complex it seems to rival a NASA space shuttle launch.  I am acutely aware of this because this morning the pharmacist called at 7:50 a.m. requesting the next supply order for my son's daily IV infusions.

I'm telling you, I don't do well before 8:00 a.m. with that sort of request; so I put him off saying I would call back in a short while.  Phooey!  I hate being asked complicated questions when I have not even had my second cup of tea.

My family all know this is a critical, even watershed, moment in my day.  I will never forget the time my granddaughter, S., cautiously approached me one morning when we were sharing a condo on vacation.  I had gotten up early and was enjoying a cuppa when she quietly and softly approached and asked, "Grandma, is that your first cup of tea or your second?"

She was only five at the time, but she already understood the critical difference in my response time and mental acuity, between walking around bumping into walls (no tea, yet), being able to form a coherent sentence, but without any real content (first cup) and actually being able to respond to a question with some logic (after my second cup).

Smart child.  Smarter, clearly, than the pesky pharmacist this a.m., although admittedly I don't know him all that well, and have no wish to do so.  However, as with many other health care professionals these past months, we have become, if not buddies, certainly more than nodding acquaintances. 

If politics "makes for strange bedfellows" - then health problems make for "strange alliances".  For example, I must remember to inquire about the vacation - last week -  of the front desk lady at the clinic this week, when we go to see the doctor. This tenuous bond with the receptionist allows for a little flexibility on her part when we are scheduling appointments, which can be pretty daunting when you factor in all the other issues K., my son, has going on.

K. is attached - with a kind of "umbilical cord" (although no where near his belly button) to a machine called a wound vac.  This involves the cyclical ordering of two different types of supplies.  They are supposed to arrive automatically on a set schedule.  They do not.  Then I must call a sales rep in Where-ever-ville, New York to request supplies.  They may or may not arrive within one day or one week.  You never know.

Then we have the PICC (peripheral intravenous central catheter) which is placed in his upper right arm (previously one was in his left arm - guess next time they will stick it in his ear) which accommodates his daily IV infusions.  This involves supplies so complex I have lists and schedules and a matrix analysis.

I am not a nurse, I'm just a mom.  Nevertheless, I now know the difference between a dispensing pick and a port attachment. I can calculate the ratio of dispensing picks to saline solution bottles, and adjust the syringe order to take into account the number of those the home nurse, who comes to draw blood each week, will also use.  She uses five from the supply order and did not tell us this, until we ran out one morning just as we were preparing to do his infusion.  Oh, swell.

I know to instruct the pharmacist to include a bio med patch for the dressing change in the PICC line dressing kit.  Why it does not come automatically, I have never been able to deduce.  But it does not.  Without it there is increased risk of infection in the placement sight - which goes directly to his heart, for crying out loud.

Then there are the home health nurses, the wound clinic personnel, the doctors, the MRI technicians, the PICC line placement specialists, and on and on and on......

I realize, if you have read this far, you must be cross-eyed by now.  I'm with you.  Thus you may understand my pique this morning when the pharmacist called before 8:00 a.m. - and not insignificantly before my second cup of tea - foolishly requesting me to provide him with a full blown IV infusion supply order!

He has some nerve.  And he has no idea what kind of chance he was taking in intruding into my morning tea ritual.  Oh, well, "fools rush in where angels fear to tread" - don't they?

Right now, I need a third cup of tea, as it is shaping up to be that kind of morning.  The pharmacist can wait.  I'll phone Randy/Roger/Raul/Robert, whatever the heck his name is, when I can think.

Right now, I hear the tea kettle whistling.  Ahh sweet sound, wherein I know help is on the way.
                                         * * * * *
Hope your day began better than mine did.  And that no one named Roger/Raul or whatever called you with a complicated question before 8:00 a.m.  Until next time ....Marsha

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mendacity: Or Lack Thereof - Monday Wrinkled Brows

Last evening we went to dinner at the home of some new/old
friends.  They are new/old because the lady  (B.)is an old friend of the *LOC's, whom he had not seen in thirty years, and whom I had never met. Neither of us had ever met her husband (A.), so another new friend.  (*Lovable Old Coot)

They are "foodies" and pet lovers.  I could readily relate to the latter category, but admittedly struggle with the former.  One of their pets was a basset hound named Freckles and he was a sweetie.  Thankfully, he liked us, because B.  told us frankly that if Freckles disliked a guest they never invite that person back; because Freckles has impeccable instincts. 

Apparently Freckles does not have a mendacious bone in his long, low-slung little body.  We don't hear much about mendacity these days.  That tendency toward dishonesty, the little social fib meant to amuse, distract or entertain is par for the course.

The strict definition of mendacity is, of course, dishonesty or a lie; but the more nuanced meaning is the untruth told without the intent of really convincing the listener, but more of distracting or entertaining, such as "the tales of his adventures were offered tongue-in-cheek."

I engaged in a little mendacity myself during our visit and was not proud of myself.  However, I could not - simply could not - think what else to do.  Later the LOC called me on it, too; and that rankled.

My mendacity (almost sounds like a song title, doesn't it?  along the lines of "My Cheri Amour") came about this way.  B. was getting ready to cook our dinner.  She had many ingredients laid out on the counter, just beneath her high-caliber cookware which hung from a stainless steel oval rack overhead:  shades of Emeril, Rachel Ray, and the like.

Now I am from the Midwest and I know how to fry things.  I also can bake, and when pressed, I can occasionally saute with a certain flair.  But the sight of all those shining pots and pans hanging overhead (and everyone knows that only serious cooks hang their cookware overhead) already had me a bit intimidated.  And then she goes and pulls out a super-sized wok as she says with a lilting smile, "I hope you like Thai food.  No one has any shell-fish allergies do they?  We are doing shrimp and calamari."

The LOC says, "I've only had it once or twice, but I love seafood."  And I just murmured assent - mendaciously.  I've never knowingly eaten calamari (squid) in my life, and I only like shrimp deep-fried in a nice egg batter!

The evening progressed with lots of conversation accompanied by a wonderfully mellow Barberra red wine.  I only had about two or three ounces because I rarely imbibe, and am one of those folks for whom alcohol has only one effect:  I need a nap.  Since it is impolite to fall asleep in the middle of Thai food at new/old friends house ... well, you can understand.

Actually the vegetables - and there must have been about a hundred (now that was a mendacious assertion :) - in the platter B. served were delicious.  They were all home-grown, in their raised, organic beds right in their own backyard.  I tried not to think about what I was ingesting whenever I happened upon a bit of the calamari among the veggies.

Our post-dinner perambulation took us through their three distinct gardens.  One contains a patio, a koi pond with a waterfall, and wonderful shade trees; a second consists of the aforementioned raised vegetable beds; and a third is where they grow their fruit trees (for all the homemade jam she cans) and various dwarf trees like the pomegranate in a large pot.

Out front was a lovely grassy yard, with a bird bath and more shade trees, and with a nice horseshoe pit off to the side.  B. explained that their summer parties are all held outdoors and guests ramble through all three garden areas at their pleasure.  I could well imagine.

As we prepared to leave (I needed to get back "down the hill" to K.'s house where I am care giving while my son recuperates from surgery) B. insisted we take a jar of her pomegranate jam, which we were glad to do.  During the course of the evening, A. and B. had asked how I came to be staying at my son's, and thus were aware of his situation.

Therefore, B. also offered a container of her homemade vegetable soup for K. I smiled politely and said "That is very kind of you."  Later when I gave the container to the LOC, just before I pulled out of our driveway to head back to K.'s, he said, "But that is for K."  I explained that K. does not like soup, and I did not want to waste it; whereas I know very well that the LOC loves soup, especially vegetable soup, so this would be a real treat for him, during these days as he is making do mostly by himself.

This is when he "called me" on my mendacity.  "But you said K. would like it.", he challenged.

"No, I said 'That is very kind of you' ". I did not want to hurt her feelings.  But he was right, I had left the impression that the soup would go to K. Sighhhhhhh.....

You know, it is very hard to be a completely honest person.  I am just saying....
                                    * * * * *

Hope you are contemplating your integrity with more satisfaction than I am this evening.  I am considering how to engage in less mendacity going forward.  Of course, I could just be over-thinking this whole thing:  it's been known to happen.

Until next time, your less than totally candid, wrinkled brows friend...Marsha
Note:  Wrinkled Brows is an occasional Monday series on a word or quote of interest (perhaps only to me).


Friday, November 11, 2011

Two Ways to Be

In life it is sometimes said that there are two ways to be happy:  one is to have more, the other is to want less.

We often find ourselves trying to choose between two ways to be:

- stay here, or go there

- keep this, or give that

- earn more, or spend less

- accept more, or reject less

- try harder, or relax more

One of the truer things I have heard over the years, is that life is a series of trade-offs. 

We may trade adventure for security; or security for adventure.

We may trade time for money (essentially this is what we do when we work); or we may trade money for time (such as paying someone else to clean our house or mow our lawn) because at that point in our lives our time is more precious to us than money.

We must each make a series of choices each day.  How we choose to spend our time and resources ultimately determines the quality of our lives. 

Are we making wise trade-offs, or simply convenient ones?

Are we making conscious choices, or simply automatic ones?

How are we dealing with the unintended consequences of our own choices?

                                       * * * * * *
I don't know about you, but right now life is hard in my little corner of the world.  Probably no harder than in many of your lives, but I am facing some stern challenges, stretching me to the limits of my resources.  And thus, I am giving serious thought to questions such as those above.

Hope you are making good choices and are satisfied with your life trade-offs this evening.  Until next time ... your grandmotherly sensei...Marsha

Footnote:  If this post was too heavy for you, stay tuned for a discussion of navel lint in the near future.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr

God, grant me the serenity    
     to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace,
taking, as Jesus did
this sinful world as it is;
not as I would have it;

Trusting that You will make
all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
that I may be reasonable happy in this life
and supremely happy with You
forever in the next.

Amen  ~   Reinhold Niebuhr

I keep a copy of this prayer folded up in my Bible.  I read it from time to time, but  I almost always read it on tough days.  Today I read it twice.

             Until next time ...Marsha

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Little We Change

It has been three weeks since our move, and while several rooms in the house now actually resemble a home, there are still pockets of chaos here and there.  Stacks, piles, clumps.

Because we sincerely hope that this was our last move (except for when it comes time for "movin' on up" :) we are taking the time to sort things that have not seen the light of day in decades.  We are finally doing the "three piles" exercise:  donate, discard, keep.  The objective is to make the "keep" pile the smallest of the three.

And thus today I came across a list, from 1984 no less, of things I wanted to accomplish that year.  Some items on the list had to do with relationships, some had to do with budget planning, and some were simple household projects I wanted to take care of.

As I read down the list, I was struck by how similar it was to lists I have made just this past week or month or year.  I did not know whether to smile or sigh.  Twenty seven years have gone by since I wrote that list. 
  • New picture over the fireplace.
Just yesterday I gave away the one that used to hang over our fireplace in Sacramento.  Now I am looking for a new one that better suits our new home. 
  • Pray for healing and health for "X."
Still praying for that individual.  Relationships I am still working on.  Personal faults I am still trying to eliminate or at least minimize.

Oh, here was one that did make me smile.  It read: 
  • Lose fifteen pounds. 
Well, just recently I actually have, through no focused effort of mine other than "fetching and carrying" as I care for a family member with an extended health problem.

I guess what I realized most clearly in reading that old list on yellowed paper was that I have not changed very much in nearly three decades.  I hoped that I had, but I was kidding myself.

Briefly I recalled seminars I have attended, books I have read, papers I have written, all in the hopes of becoming someone other than who I was.  Someone "more than", someone better.

And yet here I am, looking at most of my life in the rear view mirror these days.  And apparently, based upon the lists I used to develop and the ones I still make; I am very much the same person I was in 1984.

How can that be?  I went back to school in 1987, obtained two college degrees, three national certifications, taught seminars, earned money, traveled far and wide, made an impact (or so I have been told) on a fair number of folks' lives.

And yet here I am.  Still pretty much the same me.

It now, belatedly, occurs to me that there is something a good deal more important than who I am, or who I was. A much more vital thing is to allow Him, to make of me what He will.  It is less about effort, and more about surrender.

How different might these past years have been if I had recognized that fact a little sooner.  Talk about a late-bloomer!

Hope you are moving in a good direction this week, and allowing Him to guide you in that effort.  I am still learning as I go... Until next time ...Marsha
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"But who are you, oh man, to talk back to God?  Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?" Romans 9:20-21 NIV

Sunday, November 6, 2011

So Excited - It's Giving Day!!!

I am so excited that today is finally here that I woke up at 4:00 a.m. and have not been able to go back to sleep.  (Well, actually it would have been 5:00 a.m., but daylight sayings time ended last night, so it is earlier than a sane person would ever wake up.)

We have worked and planned for this day for weeks now, and we are looking forward to having some fun today.  It is Giving Day !

As those of you who regularly stop by here know, we moved about three weeks ago.

Younger, stronger backs unloading our stuff.

The home we had occupied for the past twenty years had about the same square footage as our new place, but it was divided into more rooms.  We had a formal living room (although ours was always pretty casual), a family room (where Holly, the resident Lhasa Apso was allowed on the furniture) and a sun room (where the LOC*, and Holly, and I would loll about on rainy days as we listened to the rain drops beat on the roof. (*Lovable Old Coot)

Now we do not have a family room or a sun room, we just have one big living room and all the stuff that was in those other two rooms needed a new home.  So we are giving it away!

The LOC said we could have a yard sale.  Yes, and after lots of work in tagging and hauling things out to the yard and then hauling off everything that did not sell, we would have a little bit of cash to show for our efforts.  Some people enjoy that kind of thing.  I do not.

I agree with the guy who once said, "If you go to enough yard sales, eventually you wind up with enough stuff to have one of your own."  :)  Don't get me wrong; I have nothing against yard sales.  I just do not have the time, energy or interest in hosting one of my own.  I'd rather give stuff away to someone who needs it.  And so would the LOC once he got into the swing of it.  He gave the people moving in across the street from our former home, a refrigerator, the big gas barbecue, his roll top desk, and other items we decided not to take to the new place.  They were a young family, who did not have much except for three young children plus a brand new baby, and they were thrilled to get those things.  Win,win.

So today, a couple of extended family members who recently lost pretty much everything they had and are now starting over, are arriving with a U-Haul to pick up our contributions to their new place.

Many years ago, my family lost everything we owned overnight.  It is a long story, and we will not recount it here, but we were suddenly left without (as I used to say) a chair to sit on, a bed to sleep in, or dish to eat from.  It was traumatic to say the least.

Many kind people gave us things to help us recover.  And some were generous beyond anything I could have imagined.  But I recall opening one donated box, and finding old clothes too worn to be worn, and even one sock  - not a pair, mind you, but one sock; and it had a hole in the toe!  I could not make this stuff up if I tried.

So I have always tried to be sure that when I give anything away, it is something that I would enjoy receiving.  If it is worn out, I recycle it or send it to the dump.  But I do not give it to another person.  To do so, for me, is disrespectful.

But today - oh, joy!  We are on a lollapalooza, bonanza of a give-away, and I can hardly contain myself.  We are giving away two wicker chairs, four small occasional tables, two lamps and a rocker/recliner.  Towels, sheets, bathroom accessories (we used to have three bathrooms and now we have two, so right there you have an extra set of throw rugs, soap dishes, towels, etc.)  Wall pictures, knick knacks, dishes, bedding, and a double bed.

Now my daughter, that would be Denise over at The Quiet Quill, will be thrilled to learn that we are replacing the double bed in our new, larger guest bedroom with a new queen sized bed.  Yea!!  She and her spouse have scrunched up for years, once or twice a year,  in that dinky little double bed.  No more!  :)

And the recipient of the double bed (and it is a good quality bed) has been sleeping on an air mattress on the floor for months now, so she is really excited, too!

An extra rocking chair, a candle holder, a floor fan (we now have two ceiling fans) ... and on and on it goes.  We gained an extra washer and dryer with our new house.  We already had new ones, so thus, we have this set which is less than five years old - good quality front loaders - to give away.  Isn't that just too much fun?

The LOC can hardly wait, as he will be able to really begin to sort out his new garage, once this stuff is hauled out of there. 

We have been blessed.  We know this.  And we are so happy to be able to share what we have with others.  Not just our stuff, but our hope and our joy in doing so.

So smile along with us today - it is Giving Day!  And we are excited.  Hope your day allows you to share something good with someone else.  Until next time ... your excited friend, Marsha

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nose Mitten Anyone?

Hand Crocheted Christmas Nose Warmer Holiday Cozy Mitten Cold Red Green White
It is nearly that time of year again.  The outdoor thermometer read 48 degrees a little while ago, and around here that is winter weather.  Forget fall.  You may recall that I posted not long ago that our area just skipped autumn this year and we went straight from summer to winter.

We have had rain, wind, sleet and epic hail already, and that was in July!  (Just kidding, but it was in early October.)

So summer is kaput.  Dead, done, and gone.  And this Saturday night we face another seasonal loss - daylight savings time ends.  :(

So now we enter that truly SAD time of the year.  No, not despondency, but Seasonal Affective Disorder.  You know, where you "get the glums" because your body does not get enough sunlight.  My mom experienced that, but probably one reason was because in the winter, she was always cold.  Cold hands, cold feet and a cold nose.

I inherited the cold nose.  Right now I must stop typing every few moments to hold my nose between my warm fingers just long enough to restore circulation.  Yes, we paid the utility bill, and we could turn up the heat.

But here at my son's home, where I am staying to help him while he recovers from a rough surgery, he likes it cool.  He has some medical issues that make this necessary for him.  Okay.

But "up the hill" (a few miles from my son's house, where we recently moved to the Sierra foothills) our house isn't any warmer. And why is that?  Because the *LOC likes it chillier than any normal human being should enjoy.  You could hang meat in our living room.  (I have considered hanging the LOC there, but why mar the vaulted, open beam ceilings with a big old nasty hook?)
(*Lovable Old Coot)

One end of our new living before the furniture arrived.
And so .... it is once again nose mitten time for moi.  They aren't expensive.  The one pictured above retails for about six dollars.  But it is hard to accessorize appropriately, when you are forced to work around a nose mitten.  My winter wardrobe resembles a mummy milieu...lots of layering and wrapping going on.

Of course, one can always resort to wearing a ski mask.  But then you are apt to be mistaken for someone who has nefarious plans involving convenience stores and lines like "Just hand over the cash."  No, ski masks are not a solution.

Oh, I just heard the call from the back bedroom.  "Mommmm, could you turn the heat down, please?"  Well, sure, son, right after I don my nose mitten.
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It is a problem.  Oh, well, there are worse problems to have.  Better to have a cold nose than a cold heart.  A cold nose can be warmed up in a jiffy.  (Keeping it that way is another story...just saying.)

But a cold heart... not good.  Those can last for years, and create great pain not only for the "owner" of the cold heart; but for anyone unfortunate enough to be in their vicinity.

Hope you are warm and cozy this evening.  If not, for goodness sakes borrow a nose mitten.  But guard against that "cold hearted condition", 'cause that one is serious.

Until next time .... your nose-mitten-wearing fashion plate - Marsha

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Dog's On A Diet

stock vector : Refrigerator with chain and lock - diet symbolHolly, the resident Lhasa Apso, went to the vet this week.  She has had the same vet since she was born, twelve years ago last month.  Suddenly, because we have recently moved, enter a new dog doctor and the poor pooch is wrecked. The new doctor is a bit blunt - or to put it more clearly - she said Holly is too fat.  Period.  Not chubby, not chunky, just
 plain old  f-a-t.

This is just pitiful, because it obviously is not the dog's fault.  She isn't tall enough to reach the cupboard where her food is kept.  And it cannot be mine, as I am not the one who feeds her; not to mention that I have been largely absent for the past several months.  That only leaves one other potential culprit:  the *LOC.  Oh, dear, this is does not bode well for either him or Holly.  (*Lovable Old Coot)

He came home from the trip to the vet looking mildly non-plussed.  He took her in for an allergy shot, but he came home carrying a little measuring cup the vet had thoughtfully provided.  She suggested that he measure Holly's food; that is measure the amount he would normally give her, then cut that in half.

In telling me this sad tale, the LOC says woefully, "Well, we don't want her to starve, do we?"

I try not to smile and decline to point out that this seems highly unlikely, since she is carrying enough extra cargo on her little frame that it could see her through a six-month stint on the frozen tundra.  She could bunk with polar bears and not have to borrow from their food supply.

Okay, so now the dog is on a diet.  I sympathize with her.  I have personally tried a few of those voluntary food deprivation experiments from time to time and it was no fun.  Some worked fairly well, but most made no appreciable difference; unless you counted the difference in my daily mood as I fought the calorie curmudgeons.

The LOC and I try not to eat in front of Holly right now.  If we do, she sits up and begs quietly and politely (although she has a hard time balancing her rotund little body on her bottom).  She reminds me of a Weeble-Wobble.  Remember those?

If the expression in her eyes could be verbalized, I suspect it would be saying something like, "Please, people, how much harm could just one french fry do?"

I don't know how much longer we are going to be able to hold out on her.   And it has only been two days!  She may be pitiful, but we are the pathetic ones.

Wish Holly luck; because with the two of us taking care of her, she is going to need it.  I'm just saying ...
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Hope any diets you are managing are going better than Holly's.  Until next time ...Marsha

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Where Did I Put It ??

As I trotted down the hallway yesterday, I suddenly smiled to myself for two very good reasons.  First, I smiled because I was going along a hallway (level, ahhh bliss) rather than down a set of stairs; because that would most certainly necessitate going back up that same set of stairs at some point. 

Did I mentioned that I hate stairs?  Or rather, while I am relatively okay with them, my knees hate them? Our former house was two-story but our new home is all on one level.  Common sense reigns!

And I was smiling because I actually knew where something I needed was.  The little plastic bags were in the second drawer down near the dishwasher in the kitchen.  Hooray!

When you have just moved in and nothing is quite where you thought it would be, the simple fact of knowing where something/anything is can be satisfying.

But I would be kidding you if I allowed you to think this little scenario was happening regularly.  The fact is that we have spent the past two weeks digging through boxes, rooting through plastic bins, and scrounging through bags and baskets trying to sort out our stuff.

And we have a lot of stuff!

My grandmother's quilt?  Not quite sure where it is.
Yesterday's mail?  Did we put that in the glove box in the car?

While we are making progress in sorting through things, we still don't know where many things are.  We know they are here somewhere, but just where is anyone's guess.
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Fortunately, there is something a great deal more important that I do know exactly where I have placed it.  I know where my confidence for the future, both in this life and the next has been "put".

"...I know whom I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day."  II Timothy 1:12

Hope your confidence is well placed this evening.  Until next time ... Marsha