Sunday, September 30, 2007
End of a nice weekend
Don and I went with Leslie and Landon (Bubby) to see a rodeo this weekend. We missed the Greased Pig event, but did manage to spend some time at the petting zoo, caught the Mutton Bustin', and most of the Bull Riding. I think Bubby liked the petting zoo best.

Nothing quite as sweet as a baby checking out babies.

Shuffling Bubby in the Grandstands, trying to buy a bit more time. Notice Don's brand-spanking new smile. He's happy to finally be done with dentist appointments, after five months of them! He said he thinks he smiles more now. What a nice side benefit to all that work!

Sarah's menu planner is making life much easier, and we're eating more variety. Tonight - pork tenderloin, couscous with carrots and chickpeas, and green beans with tomatoes. A glass of wine instead of dessert.

Some home repairs got done, a bit of yardwork, a few sections of picket fence are whiter and I made a bit of progress on Landon's birthday quilt. Overall, a wonderful weekend. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.


  posted at 9:19 PM

Saturday, September 29, 2007
Absolutely Giddy!
You can add this to my FALL INTO READING list. The minute I saw this I ordered two. One for my mother-in-law, who will celebrate her 95th birthday a week after it comes out, and one for me to read and pass on to SARAH. I've been waiting with bated breath for it come out. A brand new Father Tim series - be still my heart!

  posted at 10:09 PM

Friday, September 28, 2007
Bonding with Katie Couric the Hard Way
Do you love the picture, or what?! For any of you who've been reading here awhile, I mentioned a few months ago about all the fun things we had lined up for Fall. One of them was dual colonoscopies.

NOTE: If you're squeamish, or in your 20's, feel free to move on. However, if you're 50 + or have parents 50+ who need to do this, my whole goal is to alleviate some of the apprehension I had. I'm not going to get real graphic here anyway, since it wasn't enough fun to give a blow by blow detail. Of course, childbirthing stories defy this theory, don't they.

Our family doctor started bugging me two years ago - I was hitting that magic 50 and needed to have this done. Colon cancer is the #2 cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and is very preventable, with this screening. I put if off for a year, then the next year was just nuts. Finally I decided there was no good time for it, I just needed to suck it up and schedule it. It took over two months to get the appointment when I finally called.

For anyone looking ahead at having this procedure, or is so apprehensive they've put off scheduling it, I hope sharing my experience will make it less scary.

As my appointment got closer, here's what I had to do. On Wednesday I had to stop eating at dinnertime. At 10 pm I had a snickers, and thoroughly enjoyed every bite of it. On Thursday I had to go on liquid diet for the day. Coffee, sans creamer, juices with no pulp, gatorade, popsicles, broth and jello. I chose blue and yellow to brighten my day. I thought I'd be starving. Somehow when you know you don't really get to eat, you just get over it. I made sure and filled my day with enough to keep me busy. I spent the entire afternoon on fun errands that I'd been looking forward to - buying a new planner for 2008, a trip to Barnes and Noble, that sort of thing.

When I got home Thursday evening I had to mix up a solution, add some flavoring, the coldest water I could get, and begin drinking it in 8 oz gulps every 10 minutes. A girlfriend had told me previously to add a container of Crystal Lite Lemonaid to it. You drink 4 liters of this stuff. The first half wasn't bad to get down. The second half took some grit on my part. The faster you can drink it, the better, because taste aversion grows with each glass.

Within an hour of starting this stuff, I settled into our 'powder room' with a book. I got most of it read last night. It was not a gut-wrenching experience, just time-consuming. By late evening I was out of the shower, in comfy pjs, watching Survivor that we'd Tivod and enjoying a last cup of broth and a bowl of jello.

Friday morning, a sip of water to swallow a pill, swish my mouth so I don't knock over anyone in the hospital. At 9:30 they took me in, took away my clothes, gave me a little gown, and an IV. At 10:30 they introduced me to the doctor, I laid on the cart, snuggled the pillow and went to sleep within seconds. They turned the lights out in the room. By the way, for any of you who have difficulties with anesthesia, it's not that. It's just light sedation, less dangerous, and you recover much quickly. So I slept for 25 minutes. I think it helped me relax to not get enough sleep last night. I was sleepy to begin with.

When I woke up a short time later, in a different room, some sweet nurse was offering me a cold diet Pepsi, which tasted like heaven. The doctor came back in and told me they'd found one pin-sized 'tag' up in the upper intestine. There is an alternative procedure, called a Sigmoidoscopy, and it would not have caught this. They also told me I have diverticulosis, common as you age, and not to be alarmed about. Just add a few more bran muffins to my diet. This surprised me since I eat pretty healthy and include a lot of fiber in our diets. Diverticulitis, on the other hand, is when infection is present, and is of concern.

The nice nurse told me when they heard 'toots' from my room they would give me back my clothes, and another Diet Pepsi for the road. I imagine the men enjoy this part a bit more than we ladies do. But I wanted to go home and the diet Pepsi sounded good, so I obliged. I'm hoping I don't run into the doctor or any of these people in the grocery in the near future. It was not my more shining moment.

There was never any discomfort, no pain. Honestly having the IV inserted was the worst part of my time at the hospital.

When they took my blood pressure right before I was wheeled in, it was up dramatically. I'd dreaded this, was nervous about it. I left knowing I won't dread it next time, was thankful my doctor pushed me to have it done since they did find something, and feel good about doing all I can to stay around as long as possible with those I love.

After I'd scheduled this, as I had too much time to think about it, I was comforted by three things - I've delivered three children into the world, I've lived through a root canal, (both of these qualify you to endure any pain thrown at you) and Katie did it. Her husband died of colon cancer when he was still relatively young and she made it her platform to push. So thanks Katie for encouraging all of us to honor this temple he's given each of us.

Tonight - 1 margarita, chips and salsa and anything I want off the menu at Old Mexico! I feel like I earned it, and plan to enjoy every single bite. Again - Colon cancer is the #2 cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and is very preventable, with this screening.


  posted at 1:12 PM

Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Max Knows and So Does God
The little flipchart that sits on the antique kitchen cupboard, said this for September 22:

Loneliness. Could it be one of God's finest gifts? If a season of solitude is his way to teach you to hear his song, don't you think it's worth it? So do I.

Then, with the theme started, as the days rolled by, it went on:

Father, help me understand and accept that a lonely season can bring me closer to you.

And finally,

Rest from loneliness. Why? Because God is with you.

The Scripture Max Lucado referred to is: Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 17:4

Of all the issues women battle, and there are a slew of them, loneliness must be in the top five. Lack of self-esteem is bound to be up there too. But loneliness - it seems to creep into all our lives from time to time. It's no respector of position in life, financial status or stability, education or lack thereof, married, single, childless or a houseful, in a crowded room or all alone. As I think about it, going back to conversations with the various men in my life, and realizing the person who wrote this devotional is a man, maybe it's something all humans face on a regular basis. Or at least during seasons of our lives.

Sometimes, for long stints of time, the days are full, the phone rings, invitations are extended, there are places to go and people to share the experiences with, and life feels full. Then those other seasons, or moments, come - when you walk into the room, give the room a sweep and there's noone to chat with, or stand by, or sit with. Or the invitations don't come, and the phone doesn't ring, you hear about the party after it's over, and the days aren't so full.

After you go through this season a time or two, you know it won't last forever, and it will come again. Life is like that - waves - sometimes gentle and others so fierce you feel like they'll tow you under and deliver you up on the beach a bit waterlogged.

Maybe it's just supposed to be that way now and then. If we are in fact sojourners, foreigners, aliens in this land, our destination another place, then maybe we're never supposed to feel completely at home, or completely complete while we're here.

So Max tells me, us, to rest. Rather than sit at home in my own little chair, nursing hurt feelings of not being included in this or that, I'm to go to the One who is always there, who has my picture on His fridge, who always has time, always cares, and loves me just exactly the way I am. Tell Him how I really, really feel. Know He understands and cares. And leave it with him. Rest from picking the hurt back up, heading out the door determined to fix it myself.

Surely the One who hung on a cross, forsaken by His own Father, surely He's enough, even on my loneliest day. If every emotional need I had was fullfilled by this world and what it has to offer, what are the chances I'd turn to the only One who is enough. Is it possible, do I dare hope that maybe, just maybe I'll eventually grow up enough to see it - the loneliness - for the gift it is, if it drives me to Him.

It bears repeating: Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 17:4


  posted at 10:38 PM

Tuesday, September 25, 2007
A Perfectly Oiled Machine...

Yes, things are running along quite well. Dublin seems to prefer Cottontelle Double Rolls too.

He said he was really sorry, and promised never to do it again. Dogs don't lie, do they? That's what I thought.


  posted at 10:42 AM

Sunday, September 23, 2007
Fall Into Reading 2007
Katrina, over at Callapidder Days, is back at it, encouraging us to read more. Or maybe better put, to be more purposeful in our reading. I'm all about purpose and plans. So with no further ado, here's what I'm stacking next to the bed, from now until December 21, when I'm supposed to have them finished!


Good Grief, Lolly Winston.
Blue Shoe, Anne Lamott
The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger (this one is highly recommended!)


Merle's Dog, Lessons from a Freethinking Dog, Ted Kerasote
Dog-Friendly Dog Training, Andrea Arden
You Are a Dog, Terry Bain
The Case for the Real Jesus, Lee Strobel (hot off the press, highly recommended by Sarah)
Conversation Peace, Mary A. Kassian
Simplify Your Space, Marcia Ramsland (hot off the press)
Surrendered Wife, Laura Doyle
Charlotte Mason Companion (never-ending quest for knowledge!)
Guilt-Free Living, Robert Jeffress. (Thanks, Mom.)
Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (recommended by my mother, Judith)

That's it - 13 books, 12 weeks to read them. And go camping, and paint a room or two to prepare for the holidays), and bake, and all the other gazillion things the holiday season brings with it, and rake leaves, and..... I think I can position a book on one hip, turn out cookies and wrap gifts all at the same time, right? Right.

I'm always a little heavy on the non-fiction, but some of them are really FUN books! Some I'll likely skim, and the few fiction I chose looked great to me. My solution to this somewhat lofty goal is to constantly have a book with me, reading whenever I'm stuck in traffic, grocery lines, doctor offices, over a bowl of soup at lunch, in the tub, before I turn out the lights. Some are short. "You Are A Dog" is only 159 pages. Totally doable I think. Of course I also think Diet Coke cancels out a Snickers Bar. If you read more when you're held accountable by someone, run over to Katrina's place and sign up. For me, life's so much sweeter with my nose in a book!


  posted at 9:30 PM

Friday, September 21, 2007
Cookbook Winner Is......
I threw all the names who entered the giveaway for the set of three cookbooks in a hat, and here's who came out! Karen, at Simply A Musing Blog. Is that a clever name, or what?!

Congratulations Karen, I hope you'll enjoy it. I'm glad to know it's finally going to get some use. No cookbook should spend it's life on a shelf, minus butter smears or flicks of tomato sauce here and there.

We're off to visit Gettysburg for the weekend, only a few hours' drive from us. Sunny, in the 80's here this weekend, so it should be a great trip. Stay in a hotel, no cooking, sleep late and a beautiful drive across the hills of southwestern Pennsylvania - what's not to love about that! I'll be back on Monday to share my Fall Reading list with you. Happy Weekend everyone!


  posted at 8:00 AM

Cookbook Giveaway is Here!
If you'd like to enter to win the cookbook, go here. I'll draw Friday morning, 9/21.


  posted at 8:00 AM

Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Pillow Thoughts & Pumpkin Creamer
Note: To find info on the Holiday Organizer, click HERE. I'm still working on link colors, etc.

The alarm goes off, I hurry to reach out and take a whack at it. Classical music or not, it still signals time to get up. Snuggling back in, I feel around for the cat, give her a morning snuggle. She's going to need it to put up with that new puppy. Then we lie there just a bit. Somedays I get right up, oversleeping is just too big a possibility. Other mornings, five minutes of pillow thoughts is a good way to step softly into my day.

What day is it, what day of the week? Hitting on that, I move on. What do I have to do today? What do I get to do today? Today, my favorite - haircut day! I start my new study of Ruth tonight, with a teacher I've never studied under. It's going to be great, I just know it. What else?

Where do I need to go? Work out, since I skipped it on Monday and we belong to a gym. Walmart, fill the car with gas for our Gettysburg trip this weekend. Pick up a tag for Dublin, to show he lives here now, if heaven forbid, he escapes the fenced yard.

What do I need to do? Pursuing the elusive goal of 'domestic goddess', the upstairs needs vacuuming and some potty-swishing. I think I'll bake those zucchini chocolate chip cookies, using the chocolate caramel chips I found at the grocery last week. Chicken soup to take to sewing tomorrow, because MaryAnn is too busy with more important things, like a new grandbaby. Check out the Holiday Organizer I read about at Ordinary Life Artist earlier this week, and start to fill it out. Continue to work on my Master Menu Plan. It's a dragon to slay, for sure!

How 'bout cyberspace? What needs to be done out there? Reservations to be made at the Lodge on the Lake for our fall trip. Look at the website Sarah sent me, for my Fall study plan, check out what to do about my hurting feet, work on my template a bit and read some sweet posts, catching up with friends.

Phone calls? There's Charlotte, my dear friend with enough accent to turn your ears on end. I played the message again last night, just to enjoy it one more time. Check in with Dad - how's golf, the weather, family there?

Lying in bed, all this running through my mind, the day stretches far and wide ahead of me, just waiting for me to get up and go grab it. What a gift it is to have purpose, plans for my days. The past twenty-five years have gone quicker than I ever imagined they would, likely the next twenty-five will also. Twenty-five years from now I will be an elderly woman, how sobering is that?! Many of today's activities will no longer be possible, at least they won't come as easily, to me. "Miah, it's time to get up and go grab the day." We'll start slow, breakfast for all the four-leggeds, bring in the paper, set out coffee for hubby, and grab my Bible. Pour some coffee and add Pumpkin Creamer.

I don't want to miss a bit of it, not even the smell of coffee with pumpkin creamer.


  posted at 8:59 AM

Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Ridiculously Reverent
This is my buddy. Landon and I have a play date once a week, and I've been anxiously waiting for today to arrive. Later this morning we'll go to the public library for "Book Babies", a weekly 20 minute program of finger puppets, snacks, a song and a story. When I excitedly told my husband about it, he laughed. Twenty minutes? It takes longer than that to get him in the car seat, drive to the library, take him back out, buckle him back in, drive him home and get him inside. His mommy is a teacher, with a bent toward reading and books, and you have to start somewhere. Twenty minutes is about right at this age. I don't think they pay librarians enough to go longer than 20 minutes with a room full of one year olds.

Weekly time with Landon often involves driving around town on errands, with Baby Einstein playing in the DVD player. I make animal noises, singing Old MacDonald ad nauseum. I've discovered you can only make a few pig noises in a row before you tend to choke. We've developed a few 'games', running my hands up and down his tummy, grabbing rolls of fat and squealing while I ask him, "whatzat?", playing Peek-a-boo. Putting his stuffed moose on my head and letting it fall onto him brings big grins and belly laughs.

He's not quite walking yet, so we're on the floor a lot. We practice his throwing arm, tossing plastic blocks into buckets, beating on various surfaces with anything that resembles a drumstick. Wooden spoons work nicely. We clap, give high fives, yell 'hip-hip-hoorah' over anything worthy of celebration. Almost everything is a 'doe' right now, the cat, the dog, leaves on trees in the yard, flowers. I did get a 'meow' out of him a few days ago as we studied a refrigerator magnet. When he puts my sunglasses on his face, leans back, and waits, I say "Mr. Hollywood" and his grin stretches to the edges of his little face. A game only he and I understand.

Very little in the house is sacred, hands-off. If it's relatively sturdy then it's up for grabs, becoming a toy, albeit briefly. Tupperware stored in the lower cupboards, measuring cups and spoons, pots and pans make great drums! For one day a week, it's all about this little boy and the time we spend together. When naptime comes and I put him in the crib, he scootches his little rear up in the air, grabs his favorite toy and blanket, shoves his thumb in and settles down immediately. After three months, the crib at our house feels familiar enough for a good nap now.

Our cupboards and fridge look different since his arrival. We have more cheerios, puffs, apple juice, prunes, sweet potatoes with apples. Sippee cups, little forks and spoons, and plastic dishes that will survive being tossed across the kitchen (the dogs will handle most of the cleanup on the floor). Laundry baskets with toys, baby videos on shelves. If you walk into our home, and take a quick look around, you'll realize quickly we are grandparents.

I became a mother when I was all of 20, and spent 25 years raising children. When our first grandchild was born, our youngest was still at home, starting his senior year of high school. I wasn't sure how I would feel, grandparenting when I was not quite finished with the first round - my own. Raising babies had been a struggle for me, not coming easily. Between being young and working full time with the first one, to having the next two pretty close together and dealing with temper tantrums over a new baby's arrival, to colic that lasted for months, hours spent with little ones had often felt long.

Nobody can prepare you for the unconditional love that is immediate, when your child has a child. It doesn't matter if you 'like babies'. You love this one, and the next and the next. You begin to pray for their future, for their safety, for strength and wisdom for their young parents, for the big choices they'll have to make in life. You realize it's a privilege to leave an imprint on their lives, treasuring the one they leave on your heart.

You learn very quickly that loving these little ones, whether it's on the phone listening to newly learned French words, or discussing how to make letters or a recent pirate birthday party, or spending time driving down the road singing Old MacDonald and making oinking sounds, or playing Peek-a-Boo - it may well be the purest form of worship and praise you put forth all week. Only God could take the times when we're being ridiculous, and turn them into a reverence for things holy, like spending time with one of His gifts, a little boy with a toothy grin and leftover lunch on his face.


  posted at 7:54 AM

Sunday, September 16, 2007
Sewing Lessons
Memories of my mother, sitting at her Singer, sewing Barbie clothes are still so clear. One dress in particular, a black clingy get-up, with a 'fancy' black net petticoat underneath seemed like the most lovely thing in the world. Later on I realized Mom was sewing them to make money to purchase Christmas gifts for my siblings and me. I remember her machine humming away, the pedal down on the floor between her feet, and the big wheel on the side that she turned back and forth as she sewed. Everything about sewing called my name. I didn't 'want' to learn to sew, I had to.

It all began with a birthday gift - Barbie, when I was in third grade. She had black bobbed hair, white pearl earrings, her lipstick, shoes and bathing suit were all fire engine red. She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. Ken eventually moved into our house, there was a wedding to make them respectable, and they lived together in the black plastic carrying case, with the pull-out drawer that held those little shoes. There were hangers above it with all her garments. The Childcraft book's instructions provided hours of fun, making Barbie furniture for them out of various items found around our house. They eventually went the way of most toys, lost in a move when I was thirteen. I'd played countless hours with them, and mourned the loss when I realized Barbie didn't survive the move. Not Ken - for some reason I never really missed him. For my fiftieth birthday, my mother replaced Barbie with one just like her, purchased on Ebay for about $60 more than the orginal one cost. Sometimes I think ahead of the hours Addison and other future granddaughters will spend dressing her, playing on the family room floor, with outfits I've sewn. Maybe a black clingy get-up with a fancy net petticoat...

I began sewing because Barbie couldn't live in only a swimsuit - she wasn't that type of girl! She needed proper attire for shopping, going out into the world. Mom made me some outfits, but eventually I wanted to learn to sew them myself. I remember taking newspaper and laying it on the living room floor, drawing a circle, with another circle in the middle, and then cutting a slit up the side. Whallah! A skirt. It just needed a bit of sewing.

Of all the practical lessons my mother gave me, sewing is the one I treasure most. That black Singer sewing machine had to be a luxury for her, and now that I own a couple of my own precision machines, I know thread tension is a touchy thing. Yet she let me sit down and learn to sew, making little skirts and shirts and such. Eventually when I was a bit older, I took Home Economics and learned courduroy has a 'nap', which will make your clothes look half upside down if you cut the fabric out wrong, pleated skirts and silk blouses are not beginner projects, and sometimes when you sew something and end up throwing it in the trash, it's okay if you learned something in the process. Zippers and buttonholes are not for the faint of heart, but with practice can come out respectable. I learned to sew over the years, and it's a love that has not only stayed with me, it has grown over the years.

This week, inspired by another blogger, Anna at Pleasantview Schoolhouse, who loves all things domestic and is learning to sew, I went to Ebay and bid on a box of 78 patterns, unseen. They arrived this weekend.

It was like a little Christmas party for one, opening up the box. The patterns ran the gamut from babies, children, teenagers, women to a few for men, and one wedding dress pattern was included. I loved that it had been used, at least once. I sorted them by size and type, and refiled them in the box, setting aside a few that I'd like to use this fall.

These two have long skirts and capris that will be fun to make. The tops could be made, cut out long enough to fit someone 5'10". Stores rarely offer that. Some things never go out of style, or if they do, then I'm comfortable throwing fashion to the wind sometimes.

Some were so old, they dated back to the 30's and cost 25 cents. Just looking at the artwork, and realizing whoever those garments were made for is now collecting Social Security, gave me pause to think. Patterns now cost anywhere from $8.95 on.

I had fun looking over some 'little girl' patterns, making plans for Sarah and I to someday sew little sundresses, etc. for Miss Addison. So far only one granddaughter, but she's a dandy!

This one? It just tickled me. We don't have any men in our family who could really use any of this, thank the Lord! Still, I'll keep it just for the laugh value. It reminded me of Sonny Bono for some reason. Or maybe even Donny Osmond way back when. Or Inspector Cleauso?

As I went through all 78 of the patterns, I was struck that I can sew every single one of them. After 45 years of time spent at various machines, there was nothing in the box that was beyond me. Not that I'm offering to make anyone a wedding gown! Still, it did make me newly thankful for a mother who cared more about letting her daughter learn a life skill than whether her thread tension got messed up a bit. That I will remember, as Sarah begins to learn to sew, then a few years down the road, Addison. No matter the cost of the machine, some things cannot have a value placed on them. And machines can always be adjusted by the friendly repairman!

Going through that dusty, musty box of patterns - it felt good all the way to deep inside me, where that little girl in me lives. Thanks Mom. For pretty dolls, black clingy dresses with fancy net petticoats, and so much more! xoxoxo


  posted at 10:04 PM

Saturday, September 15, 2007
Anyone in the mood for cooking?
I've been meaning to do this for awhile. The Mrs. Practical in me realized this set of cookbooks has been sitting on my gift shelf for years. I thought my sister, Barb had given them to me, so I hung onto them. Finally I got up the courage to ask her if she had, and if so, would she be horribly offended if I gave them away because I've never used them.

She's not the least bit offended, she didn't give them to me.Which means I have no clue where they came from. They're about 10x12 size books, obviously boxed as a set. Each cookbook covers a different country - Italy, France and Mexico. I just do not use them, they don't have that lovely cellophane on them that would allow me to give them as a wedding gift or something along that line.

So I'm wondering - would anyone out there enjoy them? I hate hanging onto things I'll never use. So if you think you could put them to good use, leave me a comment. I'll pick a winner next Friday morning before we head out to Gettysburg, and put them in the mail the following Monday. They're a bit heavy so I'll likely send them parcel post. I'd like someone to enjoy them. xoxoxo


  posted at 3:18 PM

Friday, September 14, 2007
Blind, Bull-Headed and/or a Bit Clueless
Computer issues. Internet issues. Spam. Spyware. It's a rocky road I seem to live on, here in cyberspace. Something is always wrong with my computer, or my connection, or my upload, or download. Often I'm needing to clean something, or load a new program to fix the program I bought last year that I'm now told is 'crap', or switch this, add that. For the most part it baffles me, makes my brain hurt and I just don't want to think about it all. Mental laziness.

I could climb up on Santa's lap and give him the list, all I want is for everything to work perfectly all the time with no effort on my part. Take the computer, hand it across the counter, come back two days later, give them my credit card, and take home what was once a sick, straggling 12 x 12 box of metal, that is all better now. If I don't have to understand what was wrong and how it got well, all the better. Give me the shot, don't tell me where I got the disease.

Several months ago, honestly maybe 6 or more, I started getting mail from Verizon telling us about 'the new thang' - Fiber Optics. I could download this faster, upload that with less effort, much better speed. It's always about speed. I don't want my life to go faster, I want it to slow down a bit, so I can take a minute to smell the roses. I don't do YouTube, or download pirated movies, or listen to our church sermon on podcast. I actually sit down in a seat, listen and take notes the old-fashioned way. So I threw out the mail. For months. I saved one piece of paper, filed away in the 'Money Matters' file because they promised a savings. Yeah, right!

Then they took it a step further in our hate relationship. They started calling me. I like to think of myself as a nice person, but if the Caller I.D. says 'Unknown' or 'Out of Area', I answer with a growl that grows as they start their spill. Then I hang up, usually after being a bit rude, truth be told. I think they phoned several times and I was short, rude and ended the call.

Next, a young man in a shirt and tie appeared on the doorstep, with his Verizon badge on. I wouldn't even open the door, told him I don't care if it 'saves me money' for why on earth would a company charge me less for something, lose money to give me better service. Ludicrous! I patted myself on the back for being so clever as to see through their ploy, and shut the door. Score that zero for Verizon, another one for Smart Bev.

My computer issues have continued to grow over the past months, with me finally taking the computer to the Geeks, coming back a few days later after shelling out over $300, going home and it was worse. The program they'd loaded to deal with my Spyware had slowed everything down to a dark molasses trickle. Another trip and $45 later for a wee bit more RAM and I was back in the car, on my way. All was well!

It got worse. We had a monsoon rain storm a few days ago. Everything finally screeched to a halt, no uploads, downloads, etc. After an hour phone conversation with someone likely across the world named Bernard, we realized our home phone lines are junk. That only matters because we have DSL which runs through my phone lines. I did not know this. Likely if anyone ever attempted to explain it, I cut them off or hung up on them, or closed my front door in my typically charming way. When Verizon sent out the 'fix it guy', he tested my phone lines, removed ceiling tiles, dug around the garage, and finally told me there is one phone outlet in the basement rec room that has a great signal (the one my husband installed a month or so ago). So the router moved down a floor, we're moving at breakneck speed through cyberspace, but he told me the phone lines in the rest of the house are fine for talking on, but pitiful for cybercafe talk. He asked, has anyone talked to you about Fiber Optics?

He was so gracious, as I pulled out my one saved piece of paper, when I told him I'd thrown out multiple papers, hung up on people and shut the door in their faces, because I just didn't want to think about it, consider it, try to understand it, and whether it might be beneficial to our family. He told me it would lower our bill $20 a month, explaining Verizon spends millions a year to maintain the DSL lines and Fiber Optics don't require maintenance. He also told me almost everyone else on our street switched awhile back.

In two weeks they will be out to install the Fiberoptics, with a new router. My cost is $29.95 and he said I truly won't believe the difference, and when the rains hit again, and then the snow storms, or ice storms, it won't matter a whit because Fiber Optics are not affected by weather, and all that static on our phones? It will also go away, after we've removed the filters that are no longer necessary. So I won't have to run around the house trying to find a phone that is static free, or stand on the deck when it's raining trying to hear the non-telephone solicitor who just called.

Stubborn, prideful, unwilling to listen or consider, how ridiculous that a company would give me something for nothing, lower my costs, improve my life, fix the problems that have plagued me for months and months?! I cringe to consider that the last $300 repair to speed up our internet was possibly completely unnecessary. "She looks well to the ways of her household, she considers a field and purchases it......" Maybe she answers the phone, reads the mail, listens to the man at the door.

I've oftened wondered, even wagged my head a bit, at those who won't consider the Gospel, an offer of something for nothing, too-good-to-be-true offer of eternal security, but also a changed life here and now, something that will get you through the day, give you strength, comfort, shelter in the storm, a purpose bigger than yourself.. Is it just those who throw away the paper, hang up the phone and shut the door? Maybe they need a personal touch, that person standing in their kitchen, or the grocery line, or at a bookclub meeting, or waiting to drop off their kid at preschool, or on the golf course, or watching football together? Someone who is willing to do more than hand over a tract, or leave it in the bathroom stall?

And how 'bout those messages He sends me over and over and over that I miss? Those - 'your attitude stinks', 'you're harboring bitterness', 'are you no longer willing to serve', 'does charity begin in your home', the list could go on and on. How many of those have I thrown out, hung up on, or shut the door when they show their face in my life, sometimes through a sermon or devotion or scripture reading, or the well-meaning words of a friend who loves me warts and all.

I missed out on some cyberspeed, could have saved our family some money and used my time better. In the eternal scope of things, all that matters little. What does matter is the lesson offered to me. Who, in my walk of life, needs the Gospel to have some skin on it, a face, faith walked out? What else have I been bull-headed about, what am I not seeing, from the blinders I've grown so comfortable with I no longer notice them, and in spite of being in the second half of life, what am I completely clueless about?

Mercy, isn't this life a continual lesson, '101' in whatever He sees I need right now. Delivered through a nice guy who bothered to explain fiber optics to me, across my kitchen table. Grace, mercy, patience unending - it just never ceases to amaze me.


  posted at 8:26 AM

Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Rainy Days and Mondays Make Me Wanna Cook!
Last week, my daughter Sarah did several posts of her system for menus, grocery shopping, everything associated with keeping a family well-fed, with minimal fuss. I had a system. Hers is better. I've been working on tweaking mine to mimic hers. What's not to love when you raise the kid, they surpass you in an area and in turn they teach you?!

One of Sarah's pointers was to choose a few cookbooks to work from. She mentioned she likes to try new recipes. I second that. I'm easily bored, and figure the price is right for our guests, no matter what I serve. If we entertain I choose a new recipe. If it bombs I don't make it again, and pray our guests will have short memories.

After studying Sarah's post, I headed to our local library, walked down the aisles with my head cocked sideways, til I came across several cookbooks that looked good. After dragging them home, and spending some time going through them, I settled on these three:

House Beautiful: Welcome to the Table (Simple Recipes for Gracious Dinners and Parties). Author is Barbara Scott-Goodman. I was able to order this one, hardback, for under $2.00 at Amazon, with shipping it came to around $6.00. The author not only shares very doable recipes, but tips on setting the table, centerpieces, how to get everything served hot all at once, etc. It's a not-too-thick book that flops open easily on the countertop so I don't have to set heavy bowls or whatever on it to keep it open. For the most part, the recipes didn't require weird or overly expensive ingredients.

Perfect Recipes for Having People Over, author Pam Anderson. Pam is a pastor's wife, which makes me automatically like her, she wrote a previous book called Perfect Recipe which won the Julia Child Award. I paid $11.84 for this book plus s/h. It's fabulous! She starts with the main entree, explaining that most people choose that first, then she gives you menu suggestions (from recipes in the book) to go with it. She adds tips on serving, what season, what occasion, even if it can be prepared ahead of time, and what to do with the leftovers. Her recipes were very doable, some were more elegant for dining room guests, and others were spur of the moment food. I liked this book so much I not only ordered it, I ordered a copy of Perfect Recipe for $2.50. I fully expect it will be good also.

Finally, if you want something to hold the kitchen door open, then you should get this one: The Best of Cooking Light: over 500 of our all-time greatest recipes. Published in 2004 by Oxmoor House. It's a big book, alas it does not stay open easily, but it has great recipes in it. I was able to choose a week of menus very quickly by browsing it's pages. While the previous two books don't give nutritional information, all Cooking Light books do. If you're a Weight Watchers member, you can take the info and easily convert it into points. This one also had a whole section on meatless main dishes. They weren't weird, and not all of them were covered in cheese. We try to eat meatless once a week, but only one member of our family of two is very enthusiastic about doing so. Hence, a really good recipe is pretty important. Since the whole point is to cut cholesterol, throwing cheese all over something meatless seems pointless to me. This one ran a bit more, around $15.00 but it's huge and I expect I'll be able to use it enough to justify the $18.00 it ended up costing me. And there's always a door ajar, right?

It may still officially be Summer, but here in Pennsylvania Fall is creeping across the front doorstep. Rain comes easily, and today is much like a monsoon. Perfect day to cook! I used the Cooking Light cookbook yesterday to make homemade tomato soup with all the tomatoes sitting on the kitchen counter. It was wonderful and tickled my husband who actually grew the tomatoes! I know you can buy a can of Campbell's for about 75 cents, but that's not the point. I loved the feel of the whole process of peeling, chopping, seeding the tomatoes, running them through the blender, and watching the soup bubble away. When we ate it for supper, we both noticed it's much more filling than the canned version, and of course the sodium content was much better too. I think I used six large tomatoes to make a large kettle of soup.

Today I'm going to use a recipe I found on Dianne's website, Unfinished Work, to roast some of those tomatoes and later this week they'll find their way into Veggie Lasagna, Sloppy Joes and Meatloaf. All recipes are from these three books. It also feels like bread should be baking, so maybe tomorrow when the rain lets up enough to get something to rise, I'll try one of the bread recipes in the Cooking Light. (Note: Dianne's recipe for roasting tomatoes is linked at the end of the scone recipe. And yes, I'm making the scones tomorrow to serve my sewing group on Thursday.)

I also finally opened an email account at Google, replacing the one I had on yahoo. I ran into a lot of trouble with spam on my computer, and $350 later several people suggested I use gmail instead. They promise 'less spam'. Junk email or that smushed psuedo-ham stuff in the can, less of either is a good thing! The google email link is in my profile.

BTW, tonight is the Season Premier of "Biggest Loser", 8 pm Eastern Time on NBC. My absolute favorite reality show - hope, drama, defeat, triumph, along with motivation to eat more healthy myself - what's not to love? Happy cooking!


  posted at 10:54 AM

Saturday, September 08, 2007
Little Life Lessons Learned at the Mall
My daughter Leslie invited me to go on a shopping trip this weekend, telling me she'd tried to do some clothes shopping with her husband, and found it entirely unsatisfying. She needed a female to go with her this time. Men who shop for anything except tools or hunting equipment seem to either have no opinion, or tell you to just buy "it", in an attempt to end the trip more quickly, completely missing the whole process of browsing. I don't shop much, didn't really need anything, but it sounded like fun, and I'm always up for a mother-daughter outing.

So I have to back up a bit. Up here in Pennsylvania it rains easily. This time of year, once it begins it has a hard time stopping. Saturday is lawn mowing day, but rain was predicted all weekend, and Don's still recovering from a torn miniscus, so I thought I'd help out and mow the lawn Friday, while it was still dry. Then the deck, which is borderline on a good day, looked a mess - downright ratty truth be told. The stain was faded to completely bare in places, some of the wood is a bit beat up, and the flowers have passed their prime. Don power washed the deck a couple of weeks ago, which means he fought off the mildew to a liveable level, and it was my job to throw on some stain. We're hoping to have a few couples over for fall cookouts and I don't cook well enough to make up for what the deck looked like.

On Friday I started my day with a shower, getting ready for a fun appointment which will not be specified but all girls know what doctor appointment we shower for. I knew I was going to mow, but still you have to shower before your checkup. Back from the doctor's appointment, I pulled out the mower. After less than two hours I was done; I was also covered with sweat and dirt from the bare spots in the lawn that had filled the air on my passes over it. I headed inside for shower #2 of the day. For some insane reason, while in the shower washing my hair, I decided it was as good a day as any to stain the deck. I'd go out and get dirty again. I headed out in the horrible clothes I wear to color my hair, which was wet and somewhat stuck to my head. But who needs to look good to stain the deck? It's on the back of my house so nobody would see me. Two hours later the deck looked much better; it now only looks like it could use staining, rather than calling a demolition crew. My son-in-law phoned to ask if he could stop over with Landon for a visit. My hair had now dried into something resembling Bozo the Clown from the wings that had formed as I ran my sweaty hands through it as I worked. There was a band of sweat around my hair-dye stained knit top about a foot wide. I told him, "sure, come on over. I'm a bit of a mess." Bless his heart, he never said a word til right before he left since I'd told him I was leaving at 5 pm. He said, "so where are you going, because you're really dirty?" You have to know Jeremy to understand that one of the things we love about him is his bluntness. You never wonder where you stand with him, he makes it pretty clear. I told him I was going to Panera to work on menu planning. He left, and I headed upstairs for shower #3 of the day. I was so exhausted I did not, just could not, wash my funny-looking hair, but rather wet my hands and ran them through it, got out of the shower and dried it, smooshed some goo in it and called it good. I was too tired to care anymore than that.

This morning, still worn out, I looked at my hair, decided on the flat iron and some more goo, threw on some clothes and was off to shop with Leslie. Not only did my hair look less than lovely, it needed coloring. I'd been way to tired to even consider that yesterday, so I went with the semi-messy look to fluff the roots, hoping to hide them a bit.

We drove to the mall, and went into Ann Taylor Loft. I'd never been there. For some reason I thought it was a store for petites, and I'm 5'10. My older daughter, Sarah had recently suggested I check it out. Leslie agreed - it's a great store, so with two strong votes from my personal fashion police, we headed inside. After looking at the things we'll watch to go on sale, we headed to the 70% off racks. I found a few beautiful tops in chocolate/paisley but $55 is a bit steep to suit my checkbook the cheapskate in me. Nice women continued to haul armloads of clothing into a stall for me, and eventually Leslie and I ended up in stalls next door to each other.

So here's what I learned, overall. If you wear a size that has double digits, and if you wear underwear that is large enough to cover your entire head with room to spare, and if you were dumb and worked like a dog, completely oblivious to the fact that you're not as young as you used to be so that you have bags under your eyes and that general all-over worn out look, and you decide to go try on clothes, as least have good hair. If you have all the above going on, and you also have bad, bad hair, when you peel off everything except for the head-sized underwear you will think you look awful in everything you try on. Especially if your shopping partner wears size 4, and looks lovely even when her hair is less than perfect.

You will also come home armed with great incentive to eat salads a bit more often. You might come home, put those horrible color-your-hair clothes back on and tidy up your roots just a bit. Which is exactly what I did, because I can fix that in 45 minutes but the head-sized underwear situation will take a bit longer to resolve. Mowing the lawn and staining the deck in 24 hours - that won't happen again.

I would have loved to flop my tired bones in a scalding hot bathtub last night, soaking out some of the hurt. Showering and/or bathing FOUR times in one day? That's just crazy. I took two advil instead.

By the way, Ann Taylor Loft had great sales, and in spite of feeling fat and flabby and out of shape, with awful hair and bags under my eyes, I found a gorgeous pleated skirt originally priced at $69 for $3.88. Thanks God, I needed that!


  posted at 5:40 PM

Thursday, September 06, 2007
A Bit of This and That
In spite of being miserably unskilled at anything mathematical, I tend to be overly analytical. When I took piano lessons, the teacher finally opened the lid of the piano and showed me how chords worked, since my pea brain wouldn't couldn't just accept that they did. Being consistent, I overthink blogging. Here's a rundown of the quagmire I'm currently wallowing in.

Issue #1 - It's certainly not that I don't want to stay in touch with other bloggers, but all the living breathing people within a mile or so of my door keep me hopping most days, not to mention those I'd donate an organ to who live 1200 miles or 1500 miles away, in different directions. Finding time to be relational with a lot of bloggers is a struggle for me, and likely many of you.

Issue #2 - I read an article, 7 Habits of Highly Successful Bloggers by Jim Durbin, my sister Barb referenced, regarding Blogging versus Writing. The author said there's a difference, that blogging isn't writing. I see his points, but disagree a bit too. While I won't take time here to link ad nauseum, I've read some good writing out in blogland. For those who want to blog relationally, maybe it's not a struggle, although I think most of us are still trying to figure out the whole read/comment thing. For anyone who wants to 'write', relational blogging can take so much time, you end up choosing between 'writing', doing a meme, posting family photos, and doing the laundry or cooking supper or sleeping. And that doesn't even take into account that you might have a few other 'hobbies'. Finding time for it all baffles me most days. I've started a new blog just for writing on those subjects I'm currently overthinking, and haven't decided if and when to divulge it's url address. Still pondering that. Everyone needs a place to vent, and my girlfriends might find it easier to love me if it's on cyber-paper rather than to their ears.

Issue #3 - if all that isn't enough, when you combine being very analytical and tending to think (too) deeply - true family blogging can be a struggle too. I may be very misinformed, but I assume many of you can write when you have family issues, because they (family) either don't know you have a blog, or don't care and wouldn't read it anyway. My MIL happens to be almost 95, so I could vent as much as I wanted about her, but most of the rest of my family either blogs themselves, or reads my rants and raves here, at least occasionally, and knowing you have that audience can make writing difficult. Sometimes reading is too. I'm not sure it's healthy to see into each other's lives too much, and too often. If anyone out there can relate, feel free to leave me a comment so I don't feel completely alone in this.

Writing is a way for me to process whatever's going on in my little corner of the world, especially when it seems just a bit too much. I took some time to think through how I want to handle it, and don't have a complete answer. I considered deleting this blog, but decided against it for now. Deleting it would have been an easy out to some issues I need to work through. It is a means to keeping up with family and friends who are scattered over an 1800 mile span. Some are right here in our town, but we stay in touch this way. Other than our yearly Christmas card, it's the only way some friends will see that Don and I are aging remarkably well, and all our children are, like those in Garrison Keiller's book, Lake Woebegon, "smarter and better lookin' than average."

So if you've stuck with me this far, and keeping with the single clearcut purpose of this blog, on a cheery, non-analytical note, here are a few shots of what we've been up to:

Our son Dan flew in to surprise Don for his 9th no-smoking anniversary. He just showed up at the breakfast table, and Don was absolutely shocked. We had a great weekend, trip to Cabela's, Dan and Don had lunch alone, dinner at the Cheesecake Factory with Leslie and Jeremy, then Dan helped us celebrate Landon's birthday party before he flew back to Dallas. This was taken at Saturday morning coffee. Don took the day off when he found out Dan was here.

Our youngest grandchild, Landon turned the big one! Originally planned for the town park, rain threatened so the party was moved to our house last minute. This was taken in our kitchen, with about 30 people singing to him. He didn't know what to think of it all. The party eventually moved down to the basement for opening presents, and I was sure glad Leslie and I had cleaned it up a bit. It never would have held everyone in it's before stage.

This was taken at Chuckie Cheese, and it had been a good 20 years since Don and I were there. They've jazzed it up a bit, very techno-savvy. The evening ended with an ice cream sandwich/cake for Landon. He ate every bite, seriously, which explains why he hit his first birthday at a whopping 25 lbs. He didn't get his build from his skinny mommy.

This is what Papa and I gave him as his gift. Much cooler than the old metal wagons. It seats two, had backrests, seatbelts, and little holders for sippee cups. Perfect for pulling him to local football games.

Another shot taken at Chuckie Cheese, and at one year old, he already likes video games. Daddy Jeremy seemed to like the paper crown Landon wasn't so crazy about. He wore it the entire evening. You have to love a 200 lb. man wearing a paper crown. But then, who's going to tease him about it?

Then we added to the family of four-leggeds. We have an eight year old Golden Retriever, who's nice and calm. Son Dan and his wife Janae were given an opportunity to be involved in a ministry that required them moving to an apartment that doesn't allow pets. So we're foster grandparenting their dog til we move south in about two years. Dublin is six months old, weighs 60 lbs, and thank the Lord he's housebroken. He flew on two planes, arriving here a few days ago, so life is a bit more active at our house. Yesterday, Dublin's first day here, was also the one day of the week Landon hangs out with me, and at the end of it, after I served burned frozen pizza and bag salad, I thanked my husband for being a man who stands above most men. Bless his heart for unending patience with me/us. Then I hauled my tired body to bed!

But then, look at him. Who wouldn't agree to take him for a couple of years? He's a sweetheart, if a bit stubborn, which could describe most of us on a good day, don't you think.
Back again soon. xoxoxo


  posted at 10:00 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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