Focused Friday

Today’s theme in my daily meditations book is about more gratitude, less coveting. Yes, I said coveting. If that doesn’t highlight my twelve years of Catholic education, nothing does. The word means wanting something belonging to someone else. The nuns would really delve into this sin with detailed explanations. Envy is the cause of coveting. Coveting is wanting what your neighbor has. Not something like it, what he has. It could be material things, a job that seems perfect, or even a wife that you think should be yours. It always got tricky for the good sisters to try and explain adultery, we just weren’t supposed to do it, whatever it was. (The other thing they never explained was the meaning of virgin, but I digress).

At any rate, here we are, trying not to covet a neighbor kid’s bike, dolls, hula hoop, parents, or anything about his or her life. I’m unsure if it was envy that struck me while I was a single mom, and I saw how some women I worked with treated their husbands. Not so much Envy as empathy for the husband, being talked about behind his back, being damned for not putting lettuce on the sandwich he made her for lunch, and all the while demeaning him. I often said, “Gee, I’d be glad if someone would make a sandwich for me.” I didn’t understand why some really nice guys could be treated so badly. Of course, there may have been a perfectly good reason for the wife to be as she was. But maybe there wasn’t. I suppose it’s the same reason some really nice women are mistreated by their husbands. They don’t know they deserve better. And that’s a topic for another day.

Photo by Vera Arsic on Pexels.com

After years of going to the office Christmas Party alone, I learned you could tell the couples who were arguing in the car on the way to the Party. It was a formal affair, I loved wearing a gown I created with my trusty sewing machine. Everyone was dressed beautifully. And there were so many who didn’t have a good time. I was grateful to be alone when witnessing that. It can always be worse, and I already left the worse. I would never settle again. Not permanently. Many times, my choices weren’t ever after, and it was ended before it went further. My theory is it takes three years to see exactly how someone is before you can begin to think about if they could be someone you could spend your life with them. I’d never live together before knowing someone three years.

The Babe sold his house after we were engaged, and he moved in about four months before we got married. That worked well. I did think long and hard if I was ready to “give up” some aspects of life alone. Yes, I was. What I’ve gained in the past 22 years is immeasurable. It’s what I was waiting for, warts and all. They happen. He still says he would never think of standing in the way of what I wanted to do, especially with my writing. He says it’s important to him because it’s important to me. He may not understand it, but he supports it. That’s what love looks like, folks. That’s what unconditional love looks like. I’m lucky, so is he. For all this, I’m grateful.

Sounds Easier Than It Is.

The more I write, the more I think about all of the things I’ve had to reject to find the me that was buried for a long time. Some people never get there, some may not want to, some don’t know they need to. I started noticing little things in the 1970s to question. Not big things, just things that were always done a certain way, and nothing changed it all. Something as simple as household products. At that time, my mom always used Tide. She still uses Tide to this day. She has never wavered from Crest toothpaste, either. She was never tempted by a new and improved product. Ever that I remember.

By comparison, my ex-mother-in-law was always trying new products. Shampoo, detergent, soap, you name it, she tried it. I always considered that adventuresome. You never know when you might find something worthwhile. It can be different and still be fine.

The same goes with people. I did not have to be a copy or a clone of my mother. Neither did my daughter need to be me. We each need to find our own person inside, whoever they are. Growing up, the more I questioned, the more resistance I met. When a person becomes who they need to be, it’s met with resistance from those surrounding them. It’s only natural. Besides, if they happen to look at themselves, they may see they’re unhappy in who they are, too.

As I straighten my notes and prepare to write more of my book, which describes the stages a young woman struggles through to become herself, I need to remind myself how fortunate I was to be able to figure out the same things for myself as my character Katie does. The rest of the day will be work, cooking something for a change, and relaxing with the Babe and dogs by the fireplace. I covet nothing. I covet no one. It’s a great place to be.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back tomorrow. I appreciate your time and hope something wonderful happens for you today. Make it your choice to get the most our of your day, week, and life. It truly is up to you. Be Kind. Be Safe. Be Courteous.

Gratitude

I had a great opportunity yesterday. The VFW Post 2503 had a donation of items for use at the Victory Apartments. They are newly refurbished empty spaces from the former Grace University Bible College campus. Victory Apartments house formerly homeless veterans in our area. It is a beautiful use of old buildings and houses a beautiful start currently for fifteen veterans. Some are moving in next week, so we furnished four kitchens with some necessary items which included: 4 piece place settings silverware, four plates, cups, small plates, glasses, general use knives, 4 dishcloths, and 4 dish towels. It’s enough for a start. Many, many items are needed to complete the furnishing of the fifteen places open, and the addition of at least fifteen more later.

A high school friend, Margie Smith, and I reconnected through the wonders of Facebook. Also through the wonders of Facebook, I discovered her assistance with the Victory Apartments, and was eager to help out. Margie’s a great gal, and she has a lot of love to share about in the community with projects like this. It’s awesome we have people like her, making a difference, and leaving an impression. It’s great to reconnect with friends. We talked about more need for other items, and I do see the Post collecting them in the future.

The photos tell the story:

The apartments have nice kitchens, a sitting room of sorts, a bedroom, and full bath. I was touched beyond words after seeing the generosity of people giving our veterans assistance, which they work to deserve and to keep. There is a VA office right next door, mental health counseling in the same space, and resources of all types are available to the veterans. It is not only Vietnam Veterans served, there are several Desert Storm and Desert Shield vets, and others from Afghanistan, etc. Regardless of the era, they need our help and are very appreciative of it.

Certain criteria must be met to qualify, and continue a residency here. Their website is here. I am enthused about offering assistance right here, in my hometown, not half a nation away. We can see the help, it’s concrete, not abstract. I can see our Post offering more goods to furnish these homes for their brothers and sisters. More on all of that later.

Keeping in the gratitude theme, I received these photos last night as the grandkids and their parents were on the way home from picking up Josie.

Tracy, Gavin, Addison, and TJ. No one looks too happy about this little Josie girl, do they?

I had three little voice messages from Gavin on his GIZMO watch. He is about jumping out of his skin, and I know he’ll retain this excitement. It might be sketchy when he’s pooh farming in the backyard, but the responsibility is good for kids. It was for mine, too. As soon as their dad left, we adopted a puppy within six months. It was a great tool to teach responsibility.

As for me, I’m going to quilt a little bit until we go meet Josie. I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. It may be spent inside, it’s pretty toasty outdoors. Just be grateful for where you are now. But by the grace of God, we could all be in different situations. Be Safe. Be Courteous. Be thankful. I will see you all again tomorrow. Thank you for reading today. Try and think of a way to reach out and help. Donate items to the Open Door Mission, the Sienna Francis House, the Victory Apartments. Get involved while socially distancing. It can and it must be done. Wear your mask. Wash up.

Gratitude

I had a great opportunity yesterday. The VFW Post 2503 had a donation of items for use at the Victory Apartments. They are newly refurbished empty spaces from the former Grace University Bible College campus. Victory Apartments house formerly homeless veterans in our area. It is a beautiful use of old buildings and houses a beautiful start currently for fifteen veterans. Some are moving in next week, so we furnished four kitchens with some necessary items which included: 4 piece place settings silverware, four plates, cups, small plates, glasses, general use knives, 4 dishcloths, and 4 dish towels. It’s enough for a start. Many, many items are needed to complete the furnishing of the fifteen places open, and the addition of at least fifteen more later.

A high school friend, Margie Smith, and I reconnected through the wonders of Facebook. Also through the wonders of Facebook, I discovered her assistance with the Victory Apartments, and was eager to help out. Margie’s a great gal, and she has a lot of love to share about in the community with projects like this. It’s awesome we have people like her, making a difference, and leaving an impression. It’s great to reconnect with friends. We talked about more need for other items, and I do see the Post collecting them in the future.

The photos tell the story:

The apartments have nice kitchens, a sitting room of sorts, a bedroom, and full bath. I was touched beyond words after seeing the generosity of people giving our veterans assistance, which they work to deserve and to keep. There is a VA office right next door, mental health counseling in the same space, and resources of all types are available to the veterans. It is not only Vietnam Veterans served, there are several Desert Storm and Desert Shield vets, and others from Afghanistan, etc. Regardless of the era, they need our help and are very appreciative of it.

Certain criteria must be met to qualify, and continue a residency here. Their website is here. I am enthused about offering assistance right here, in my hometown, not half a nation away. We can see the help, it’s concrete, not abstract. I can see our Post offering more goods to furnish these homes for their brothers and sisters. More on all of that later.

Keeping in the gratitude theme, I received these photos last night as the grandkids and their parents were on the way home from picking up Josie.

Tracy, Gavin, Addison, and TJ. No one looks too happy about this little Josie girl, do they?

I had three little voice messages from Gavin on his GIZMO watch. He is about jumping out of his skin, and I know he’ll retain this excitement. It might be sketchy when he’s pooh farming in the backyard, but the responsibility is good for kids. It was for mine, too. As soon as their dad left, we adopted a puppy within six months. It was a great tool to teach responsibility.

As for me, I’m going to quilt a little bit until we go meet Josie. I hope you all have a beautiful weekend. It may be spent inside, it’s pretty toasty outdoors. Just be grateful for where you are now. But by the grace of God, we could all be in different situations. Be Safe. Be Courteous. Be thankful. I will see you all again tomorrow. Thank you for reading today. Try and think of a way to reach out and help. Donate items to the Open Door Mission, the Sienna Francis House, the Victory Apartments. Get involved while socially distancing. It can and it must be done. Wear your mask. Wash up.

Wonderful Wednesday Afternoon

One thing I’m quite grateful for is the array of diagnostic testing available today for medical procedures. I remember hearing the phrase, “exploratory surgery,” many times as a child. It was what doctors did when they couldn’t see what may be causing a problem. It was quite frightening. It was the best they could do at the time. As time passed, marvelous inventions of diagnostic machinery helped doctors see inside the body and revealed what was wrong. It took a lot of guesswork out of surgery and diagnosis, recuperation, and recovery.

The modern age is offering unbelievable diagnostic capabilities, treatments and outcomes. I had breast cancer ten years ago. My survival is credited to very early detection. I had two lumps so small they could not be felt. Trust me, everyone tried(!) Not palpable. The only treatment I needed was radiation, which has left some bad aftermath, and a hormone blocker, which changed many things about my body. Weight gain was the lesser of the evils.

The medical breakthroughs of tomorrow should be interesting to say the least. I hope the breakthroughs will continue to be life saving, early healing, and ground breaking. As we continue to lengthen lives through better and more thorough care. I hope we also consider the ethics of lengthening lives to be lived that are merely people whose lives are prolonged simply as an experiment. I hope we consider the ethics of testing and treating people like lab rats. It’s not ethical to do that. It is not a way to honor our elderly or be caring towards our disabed.

While I have noticed a lot of changes simply because I reached the age of 65, it kind of makes me a little mad that a lot of things need to be pre-approved before I go have them done. One big thing is the injections the ortho doc needs to do again for each of my knees. Since I improved enough to not need quarterly injections last year, they might need more xrays etc., before I can go get the help I need. The problem I have is they consider each event a new occurrence of the issue. I certainly am not making it up that I need the injections. I also know I’m not letting someone go take them in my place. Fraud is prelevant in some health care situations and the administrators are just being cautious. Patience is needed all the way around.

Thank you for reading this very late post, and I hope to see you tomorrow. Have a good evening.

Thanksgiving Eve

Are you starting to prep any dishes for Thanksgiving dinner yet? I’m trying a new sweet potato dish. I’m prepping the dish today, and baking it tomorrow. There are all sorts of dishes you can do ahead of time. I’m going to google and find any others I can do ahead.

The dish I’m making will use sliced sweet potatoes (Slice width-wise after boiling and cooling), lay in greased pan, mix cranberries, orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, and some other spices, pour over potatoes and bake. Sounds easy. Baked sweet potatoes are great at a steakhouse in place of a regular baked potato. And no one else likes them, so I’m going to save portions of it for later. Yum!!

I’m also making the dressing ahead, and whatever else works out ok. No big deal. Last year, we purchased a new gas range, with five top burners (I love it!) and sure enough, it cooked so much faster than our old electric stoves did. I kid you not. We had to call our daughter and her family to come early. I’m hoping that does not happen again.

NaNoWriMo successful conclusion is still in sight. I believe 2,971 words per day for the next four days will put me in the “winner’s ” circle. It will be great to be finished. Don’t forget to enter my drawing for the Completion of NaNoWriMo. Just like the posts and comment on each day for the month of November, and you could have sixty chances to win. Use tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday to catch up!! You can read them while you’re in line waiting for Target to open! Be safe out there.

If you are a Black Friday shopper, do you know when it started?? The first recorded use of the term was in 1969, and had nothing to do with shopping. It signified the crash of the gold market on September 24, 1869.

History.com reports the city of Philadelphia coined the phrase to describe the crush of traffic and pedestrians from the suburbs out shopping the day after Thanksgiving. The cops worked twelve hour shifts in an attempt to control the chaos. Poor guys! Shoplifting was rampant. In 1961, the city fathers tried to rebrand the day to be called “Big Friday” since it had a better connotation. Didn’t work. Additionally, some businesses were also open on Friday after Thanksgiving, and many, many people called in sick, thus creating a worker shortage.

So, whatever you do, if you are out and about on Black Friday, take precautions. Hydrate, eat well, and be careful to stay out of the way of anyone who thinks a cheap TV is worth trampling people for. Keep an eye on your belongings, as thieves will mix among the shoppers like always. Be aware of your surrounding. And keep up being grateful for everything you thought of on Thanksgiving.

If you are traveling over the next few days, I hope the bad weather misses you. We got some slushy stuff and a bit of snow last night, so nothing bad. The sidewalks are tricky, but watch where you’re going, you should be fine. Walk carefully. Enter to win. Thank you for taking time to read today, and we’ll see you again tomorrow.

Two Within Twenty Four Hours

With last night’s late blog, and my starting much earlier this morning, you’ll be getting 4 chances to register within a twenty four hour period. Take advantage of it while you can! You can comment here, at the end, scroll way past the ending, and you’ll see a box for “Leave a Comment.” That is where you can comment.

I must share with you the photo Tracy took of Gavin with us last night. He was so happy we were at his concert. He must be deep in thought because he said, “I’m so lucky to have you two for grandparents,” and said that the last time we were together. Of course, some naysayers will say, “He’s just sucking up for Christmas gifts!”

I beg to differ with you. Isn’t that a nice phrase? Rather than becoming uncivil with a comment, one may choose to “Beg to differ.” And there were no hurt feelings or name calling involved. Let’s try and think “Beg to differ” instead of “Those stupid Republicans,” or “Those damned Democrats!” Let’s be above name calling and be civil.

Anyway, while begging to differ with you, I say I do believe some kids really do realize when they are lucky. And it doesn’t have to do with material things, they can actually feel the love someone gives them. And they appreciate it. And kids are honest, they will tell you what they believe. I love their honesty. It’s so pure.

So, call me crazy, I know Gavin meant what he said. He wasn’t schmoozing.

Gavin after his “The Giving Tree” program last night.

I’m still thinking about the message from the tree decorations my mom bought yesterday and the fact I’m getting a new Christmas tree for home this year, AND the fact that Gavin’s program was about The Giving Tree. I do believe there is a message there for me. I believe it’s telling me something about Christmas, giving, and the past. Maybe like Marley (In The Christmas Carol) I’m weighted down by something in the past about Christmases. Maybe I’m not giving as much of myself where I should be doing so. Maybe the best thing I can give myself is a different outlook on things.

One thing I want to do is concentrate on the real meaning of Christmas. It has nothing to do with Black Friday (I honestly do not know when that became a thing!), with last minute bottom lines, how much money businesses make this shopping season, and with who wins the next debate. Those things don’t warm my soul or make me feel good.

So what is it I should do?? Be generous with the Red Kettles I see at shopping centers.

Be willing to help someone out. I am finishing a project for someone who is unable to. I will make time to finish their project for them. In keeping my word to another human being, I am helping others a lot.

Learn to graciously say, “I just can’t do this.” No explanation. Sometimes you need to know when to turn things down that you can’t possibly do and still function well. The wisdom to know the difference is worth our weight in gold.

There is a great deal of wisdom existing in the world, and I think some comes from out of the mouths of children. Their innocence is unbelievable at times, yet they can be wise beyond their years. Many little children are exposed to things they never should be.

When my oldest son was in kindergarten, a classmate came over to play. They played house within sight of me. I heard the little girl give a detailed explanation of a scenario. “You didn’t come home from work, and I went out with my friends to a movie, dinner, and drinks. You got mad I wasn’t home and I’m not going to tell you where I was.” This was really way too old for a kindergartener. I don’t like how it makes me feel at my age right now!

Sometimes, I wonder what happened to this little girl. She was a good kid but came from a really dysfunctional family. Alcoholism in spades, generational and it was severe. A lot of us had difficulties in our childhoods, and may still be shaking off the past. This year is the time to find out how to shed it for all time. The rest of our life doesn’t have to be how the first part was, especially if it was bad. It was there to shape us and teach us what to do or not do.

In the next week, many people will be gathering for their Thanksgiving dinners and “Thanksmas” and whatever else may be scheduled. Some will be happy gatherings, some may not. Whichever yours is, be sure you stop and think about what you have to be thankful for. Sometimes, it is hard to think of things. Just remember that there is good everywhere. We just need to look for it. There have been times in life when things have gone so wrong that I was thankful for the fact my car started. Period. Presently, my life is so abundantly blessed it’s hard to find things that are so wrong they will ruin my day.

Today, I’m grateful for Gavin, Joell, Addison and Kayla. They’re the best grandkids I could ever hope for. I’m grateful for a man like Dan who encourages me to be myself. It’s a relationship that is perfect for me. I’m grateful that my children grew into good grownups, and that they are independent in their lives. All mothers probably wish they could see their grown kids more often, I am no exception.

I’m so grateful that we have the home and environment we have. It’s a very contented, happy place. Our two dogs add considerably to it.

Think of what you are thankful for. Really think. You may even surprise yourself. Leave a comment on these things. Give us a like and you are on your way to chances to win the $50 Visa Gift Card. It will be given away on December 01, 2019, drawing will be at NOON. Thank you for reading, and please, come back tomorrow!

This Too Shall Pass

It’s all going to be all OK. I know it is. Just have to get through the next two and a half weeks.

You know the feelings you have when you’ve been dealing with things out of the ordinary (say, medical/health issues)? It’s been a very long six weeks, and this tough exterior is starting to crack. Yes, as together as we all think we are, we’re but mere humans and we get worn out, worn down, and wobegon. Don’t you just love the word wobegon? It brings to mind hearing Garrison Keillor and his stories told, painstakingly slow, as only he can. They were worth waiting for every word. He can make me laugh. That’s what I’m in need of right now, laughter.

I get a tremendous kick out of reading things that make me laugh out loud. Babe (Dan) just looks at me, then I say, “You’ve just got to listen to this.” Then I proceed to read sometimes an entire page to him from what I’m reading. Sometimes he’ll laugh, sometimes not. He never says anything, he just listens. That’s the Babe, always listening. It is one of his finer qualities, for which I’m eternally grateful. He’s patient while I carry on.

I am also listening to Peanuts Greatest Hits, by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. This is on purpose, it’s some of the greatest Jazz there is. Jazz always lifts my spirits. And even more so with Snoopy on guitar, Schroeder on piano, and Pig Pen on bass.

In two and a half weeks, I’ll be hearing the Christmas tunes while I’m working on my novel. Last year, I didn’t put up a Christmas tree. Things weren’t going great and I just didn’t have any Christmas cheer. First time since I left home. It is way different when your kids are all gone, and no one wants anything but cash or gift cards. Sure, it’s easier, but nothing can make a person feel as good as picking out something with the gift receiver in mind. It is a good feeling. I miss the whole activity, shopping, wrapping, watching the person open the gift. Hopefully you get it right and they love it.

In the past, we have adopted kids through our church to shop for. Samaritan’s Purse had a very good program. When our granddaughter Addison went to Sunday School, we did that, and filled a red box for a little boy and a red box for a little girl. The photos and email’s about those children really make you think about how very fortunate we all really are.

Aside from Garrison Keillor, another humorous author I love to read is Bill Bryson. It all started with the movie, A Walk in the Woods. I read the book after seeing the movie, and the first half of the book, I laughed until I couldn’t stop. It was addicting. The Babe had a lot of passages read to him from that book. The second half of the book educated me about the National Parks and many things about these beautiful places I did not know. My family was all about learning from reading. I really appreciate that about that crazy bunch of people I grew up around. Always an adventure with them and a book.

The key to any reading experience at this point in time is time and quiet. With a puppy in the house, that’s about impossible. She explores a lot, and the doors to Babe’s office and my studio remain closed, as do the bathroom door, our bedroom door, and the laundry room door when I remember. Otherwise, the familiar search for Goldie, making sure she’s not squatting somewhere she shouldn’t, and saying, “What are you chewing on?” The Babe is doing great with taking care of her, it’s really lifting his spirits. That is so necessary for healing.

So for now, this is my circus and these are my monkeys, so to speak. It is a beautiful sunny day. I will find a stack of beautiful, happy music to hear while I write today, and all will be well, here at my little part of Lake Wobegon. It’s OK to visit there, but I don’t want to stay too long. That just isn’t me.

 

The Day After

Yesterday, my adrenaline must have been excessively high. Today, I’m wiped out, but very happy inside. The family wedding was beautiful. In the words of my late Aunt Carol, ” It’s just so fun to see a young couple so in love with each other, who have plans for their life together.”

Yes, it is. I had a blast sitting with my brother, eating cake and drinking ice water, watching the crowd of friends and relatives. Dan wasn’t feeling up to attending, so he stayed home.

The girls and young women who appeared single were belting out magical, love charged songs. You could tell they were wanting what they were singing about.

There were very few young men actively dancing. One young black fellow could really move with the groove of the music. The others were standing about talking, some were in line at the bar. My brother is going to take dancing lessons when he feels ready to meet some ladies again.

I have to say, he is a catch. Good job, devoted, reliable, gentleman (like our dad), and an all around good man. He lost his wife to oral cancer. We could feel her presence last night. He misses her terribly, and I do too. He finished raising her youngest two sons after her death, and had always been so good with all four of them.

Yes, I’m a bragging big sister. More than that though, he is a very good friend. I used to help our mom with him when he was a toddler. Yes, he was the pesty brother I wanted to make vanish when I was in high school, but no matter what, we would always be friends. And it’s such a gift.

Sitting with him at midnight at his wife’s bedside, we had some very deep discussions. I was honored he shared his thoughts with me. As I reached for his hand, I remember thinking, “when did he get into our dad’s hands??”.

The shoe is on the other foot, so to speak. Since that night, I’ve many times felt him reaching out to care for me. Life has taken us both to the place where I may need his help some day. We share a strange sense of humor, and many folks may not understand, but we are family. I tease him and tell him, “You’re the sister I never had!” Well, at least I had my own room!

Tim, left, Don, right.
My brother and nephew.

As unhappy as I was when he was born, I’m so very happy to have this great guy for my baby brother.

Hope you all had a good Saturday! Leave a comment, like my post and follow my page. I’ll enter you in my giveaway. $50 Visa Card Giveaway. Drawing held Dec 1, 2019.