Friday, February 26, 2021

I had to laugh.  I was just looking around at things on here and my Stats said one day 12.5 people visited my blog.  Another day it was 7.5.  Tell me, how does half a person come and read?

 When she was a little girl

they told her she was beautiful

but it had no meaning
in her world of bicycles
and pigtails
and adventures in make-believe.
Later, she hoped she was beautiful
as boys started taking notice
of her friends
and phones rang for
Saturday night dates.
She felt beautiful on her wedding day,
hopeful with her
new life partner by her side
but, later,
when her children called
her beautiful,
she was often exhausted,
her hair messily tied back,
no make up,
wide in the waist
where it used to be narrow;
she just couldn't take it in.
Over the years, as she tried,
in fits and starts,
to look beautiful,
she found other things
to take priority,
like bills
and meals,
as she and her life partner
worked hard
to make a family,
to make ends meet,
to make children into adults,
to make a life.
she sat.
Her children grown,
her partner flown,
and she couldn't remember
the last time
she was called beautiful.
But she was.
It was in every line on her face,
in the strength of her arthritic hands,
the ampleness that had
a million hugs imprinted
on its very skin,
and in the jiggly thighs and
thickened ankles
that had run her race for her.
She had lived her life with a loving
and generous heart,
had wrapped her arms
around so many to
to give them comfort and peace.
Her ears had
heard both terrible news
and lovely songs,
and her eyes
had brimmed with,
oh, so many tears,
they were now bright
even as they dimmed.
She had lived and she was.
And because she was,
she was made beautiful.
~ Suzanne Reynolds, © 2019

Thursday, February 11, 2021

After a day's walk everything has twice its usual value. ~ George Macauley Trevelyan

I learned early on to love walking. As a little girl, if the weather was cooperative, I would go out for an evening walk with my mother once the dishes were done.  We lived in a small town and we'd choose a different path every time we went out, usually in the 'gloaming' of the day.  That means the same as dusk or twilight but I like to use the word when I can just because I like it. I liked the sense of invisibility of that time of day.  My mother and I would stroll down the streets and gaze into peoples' windows but never felt like we were being snoopy.  Back in those days it didn't seem as if people felt the need to close their blinds and curtains to conceal themselves from the world.  We just enjoyed looking at the different things people had on display.  Plants, knickknacks, photos and paintings, pretty lamps. It was a good way to wind down at the end of our busy days.  My mother, from cleaning and taking care of my brothers and me as well as children she babysat and Foster Children we gave shelter to for many years.  Me, from the busyness of school and friends and lots, and lots, of outside games with all the many kids there were in our neighborhood. The only thing that kept us both inside was rain. I loved our walks, too, because it was usually the only time I ever had my mother to myself.

I wish I could measure the footsteps I've taken to this point in life.  I doubt they would equal the amount of heartbeats my heart will pump in my lifetime if I live to my life expectancy.  Around two billion, give or take a few.  When we break down and compartmentalize in our brains the many mundane things we do and take for granted each day it is mind boggling to me. We sleep almost 230,000 hours in our lives. We eat 90,000 meals. We grow 591 miles of hair. Back to footsteps, a person will take 216,262,500 steps. Imagine that.

God has been very good to me.  I've had a few bumps in the road where I've had surgeries but my overall health is very good. I take no prescriptions, I get up and out of bed every morning with a few aches and pains but I generally feel good.  I've nothing to complain about, really, outside of a fractured foot that's keeping me from my almost-daily walks.  It seems to be healing quite well so I hope to be out again soon.  Living in Michigan, walking in the winter can be a bit of a challenge but the only things that hold me back are ice and below-zero wind.  I love the briskness of a cold, dry day where the hairs in my nose even fuse together!  Now, that is cold!  After having lived the first 57 years of my life in the Pacific Northwest where it rains...and rains...and rains endlessly -- or so it seems -- one of my life's treasures has been moving here to the Upper Midwest and experiencing 4 such different and diverse seasons.  I can remember my mother, who grew up in New Hampshire, gazing out the window  at the rain with her forehead resting against the glass with such a faraway look in her eyes and saying, "Oh, how I miss the four seasons!"  I didn't realize until I reached adulthood myself just how much the weather of Grays Harbor County and the Portland area affected her moods.    Looking back I can see that she was a very depressed person, but what do you notice when you're a child?  Especially one as active as me who was rarely inside unless it was time for dinner or time for bed.

My walks now are taken along a certain route I've established.  I usually head out the door between 8 am to 9:30, after I've done my daily chores and have nothing pressing me for time.  The city we live in near Detroit is very pretty, if you can believe anything of close proximity to Detroit can be pretty. But it is, and it's very safe.  I've become such a fixture people will talk to me along the way and are always so encouraging.  They've seen the weight loss I've had,  see how faithful I try to be in doing it usually 4 days a week.  Each season is incredibly beautiful here, especially Fall with all the hardwood trees.  I never knew Nature's colors were so spectacular until I experienced my first leaf season.  Dear Hubby and I also took a week's vacation to the Upper Peninsula that year and oh, the beauty was enough to take our breath away.  I have lived here 10 years now, and I have never been back to Portland in all this time.  I have no desire to go.  I tell people that when I moved here I felt like I had come to the home I'd always dreamed of but never knew still existed.  Dear Hubby and I say living here is like living in Beaver-Cleaver-ville.  It is.

I am a solitary walker.  I've tried a few times in the past to have walking partners but it never lasted long.  I didn't like trying to coordinate schedules but what I really didn't like was the pressure of feeling I needed to talk.  I am not the best conversationalist at any time.  And to me, the quiet solitude of being alone is very therapeutic for me.  The only exception is when Dear Hubby comes along.  We can chatter the whole way.  We can say barely a word.  It doesn't matter.  You get to know yourself pretty well when you walk.  You have lots and lots of time to think. You don't have to impress anyone or even speak to anyone if you don't feel like it.  You just get out.  You do it. And the benefits are endless. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

 I find this extraordinary as I'm doing my devotions. As well as my Bible I read many different essays in many different devotionals by many different people every day. What I marvel at is how all of what I read on a particular day in each one, some even written decades ago, can be tied together with a common thread. If I'm feeling overwhelmed, many will say in their own way how much I need to slow still...listen to the voice of God. If I'm content they speak of the joy of the Lord or remind me of how much He loves me. And it makes God so real to me. All is God-orchestrated. I don't just pick my Golden Nuggets and other things I post out of the air. God is right here and makes it very plain what He wants to go forth. How blessed I am to be His vessel. How blessed I am to call Him Friend.

It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not. ~ Attributed to Hanoch McCarty

 I cannot tell you how often I have limited myself from doing something without first attempting to do it.  For example...computers.  They intimidate me. They frustrate me.  They cause me a lot of embarrassment because I have to go to someone else to help me get out of a disaster I've created. I don't know why but it's like major brain-freeze hits me and even though I know I should know how to do something, my mind can't seem to move beyond a certain point.

Well, this morning I actually managed to do something with my blog without having to crawl to my daughter -- digitally -- and asking her to tweak one more thing.  If anyone ever comes to read my blog I don't want them to have to use a magnifying glass to be able to see the font size.  It was at its default size which others may not have any trouble seeing, but with my aging eyes it was pretty much discernable only by squinting.  I don't want that to be something others will click away from without reading.  I had asked my daughter the other day if she knew how to change the font size but she said it was something she'd need to look at and figure out for me.  I'd bugged her enough already so I told myself, "All right, you moron.  You can figure this out!" So I sat down this morning and hit the "Help" button and typed in "Change Font Size." Lo and behold an answer in a forum popped right up (Thank you, Fabrizio!) I followed his simple (SIMPLE, mind you!!) instructions and breezed right through it.  The only thing that took time was figuring out how to save the changes.  There used to be a "Save Changes" button on here years ago. Not anymore. After fiddling a bit I happened to notice a little floppy-disk type icon way down at the bottom right corner on the page.  I hovered over it and it said "Save" so I thought well, ok.  I'll try that. And glory be, it worked.  Yay, me.  You don't even remotely know what a big deal that was for boosting my confidence.  There's hope for me yet. 

 A year ago December I began walking for my health.  Not that I was sick or even feeling bad but I was carrying around a lot of weight I didn't need.  I have walked myself up to 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 miles per day, an average of four days a week.  I have dropped around 40 pounds and would still like to lose another 10 or 15. Even so, my blood pressure is great, my heart is healthy, and I feel wonderful.  I don't take any drugs except Tylenol for my back pain.  As well as walking, I have changed my eating habits and I drink lots of water.  I still have snacks here and there but instead of eating a whole bag of Cheetos in one sitting I'll eat maybe a cup measure or two of them.  I've gone down from 2XX-3XX to a 16 and I'm almost ready to go down one size further.  Talk about a new lease on life!  They tell us old folks to just relax and go with the flow as gravity begins to take its toll and physical ailments slow us down.  They say it's so much harder for us to lose excess weight.  Well, I'm here to tell you that's hogwash.  Walking is the best exercise there is.  Not only do you reap the physical benefits but it does so much to improve your emotional and psychological well being.  You get out and enjoy the beauty of nature, you have such peaceful time to yourself.  Someone asked me, "How do you do it?"  I told them you open the door and you stick one foot out on the porch, and then the other.  Oh...and shut the door behind you so you're not tempted to go back in!

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning. ~ Ivy Baker Priest

My darling daughter tweaked my old blog yesterday and gave it a fresh new look.  I don't know what I would have done without her.  The last time I touched the layout was probably 20 years ago.  I no longer have the patience or the want-to to mess around with anything like that, so she stepped in and had it done within 20 minutes.  It must be nice to know how to do all that stuff instead of stumbling and bumbling around trying to figure out technology myself.  When I bought a computer around 10 years ago the young salesman told me, "This computer and all the others on sale here will be dinosaurs within 6 months."  He was polite enough not to say that I would be too.  Ha. Ha.

At this point in time America is in pretty sad shape. Deplorable shape, actually.  Through this past year with the COVID pandemic and political, economic, and social unrest we've basically fallen apart at the seams. As with my Facebook account, I won't fill my blog with any of that.  My remedy for it all is to pray like crazy and hold on because I do believe we are in very dire times with a rough ride ahead of us.  The atmosphere no matter where you go is oppressive.  Unsettled.  Stressed.  Overwhelming.  The hardest part is having no control over it as we watch our Constitutional Rights being taken away at an alarming rate.  Oh, Lord...what kind of life will my grandsons have as they continue to grow up?  In a world where boys are not boys and girls are not girls -  from what I understand they will now be 'theybies' as they enter this world and shall be known as that until the 'theyby' figures out which gender they are. On their own. How did this happen??  I don't know if this is "official" or not but God help us if it is.  If we think our children are confused now I am just gobsmacked by this latest lunacy.  And it is lunacy. I helped care for an elderly neighbor before she died a year ago November and I can't tell you how often she would say to me, "Oh, I am so glad I'm almost at the end of life and not at the beginning!"  Her wish was to live to be 90 and she did.  She died just a few days after her 90th birthday.  I have to say I'm glad I'm closer to the end, too.  I'm tired of having all this crazy rhetoric thrust down my throat.

I've always been clumsy and prone to accidents.  I attribute it to being left-handed in a right-handed world. We Lefties are constantly making adjustments throughout our day.  I am totally left-handed outside of doing 10-key right-handed.  I was forced to learn that at a job I had in the 1980s when computers were first coming on the scene.  My boss was too cheap to buy me a left-handed keyboard.  I had to take an adding machine (do you remember those?) home, open up the Portland phone book, and key in telephone numbers.  This, after working an 8 hour day and coming home to a husband, two young children, and household responsibilities.  I would dream of numbers at night.  Seriously. But I learned.  I wasn't at super-speed level like one of my coworkers, but I was faster than most and also very accurate. I think it took about a month to become fairly proficient.

Less than 10% of the people in the world are left-handed.  I also have green eyes.  Only 2% of the world's population have those.  I tell Dear Hubby I am very unique.  Ha.

I kind of digressed there.  Back to accidents.  I have flopped and tripped and fallen more times than I can count misjudging things, usually with little or no damage to myself.  So far.  Then about 1 1/2 weeks ago I was at a local market.  I had my right hand free but a couple of items in my left hand.  I decided to buy some ice cream and as I opened the freezer wide and reached for a carton on the top shelf I realized the outside of the carton was frosty and I couldn't get a grip on it.  It fell off the shelf and landed squarely on the Great toe of my left foot at full force.  The container was frozen solid and the impact was agonizing.  Don't ask me how my brain works, but instead of going to the doctor right away I decided to see if icing it and rolling my foot on a ball or a frozen bottle of water like I do with plantar fascitis flare-ups would make it feel better. Nope, so on Monday I went to the clinic and found out I have a hairline fracture that runs from the middle of my Great toe, down around the large toe/foot joint, almost to my instep.  I have to wear a walking boot for the next two weeks, then see the doctor again.  You wouldn't think it would be, but wearing this boot is exhausting. It is definitely crimping my style.  I want so badly to get out and do my exercise-walking   --  3 1/2 to 4 1/2 miles per walk, usually 4 days a week  --  but I'm stuck. The one saving grace, so to speak, is here in Michigan it's very cold right now, 'real feels' down around 10-15 degrees with bitter wind. We've been having light snow showers off and on for the past couple weeks but little has melted.  It's icy in a lot of spots, and I wouldn't be walking anyway.  

So...with my very distracted brain that has so much on it right now, I'm trying to catch up on reading.  I'm making  some progress.  Instead of reading each page 4 or 5 times I'm down to 2 or 3. 

Monday, January 25, 2021

"Have You Seen My Glasses?"

I'm not going to really change the name of my blog, not after all these many years, but from this point forward in my mind it's going to go by the above-named title.  This is what the phases of life have brought Dear Hubby and me to -- learning to adapt to the Golden Oldie Years.  Let me tell you, they creep up fast.  One day you're young -- or you still think you are -- and then you're not. Fact of life. Get over it.

One thing I am going to do is go back thru my Facebook archives and transfer some things to here.  Things get lost very easily there.  Or blocked.  Or you're told your content isn't up to their standards. Or they decide they just don't like you period and you come to your page like one friend of mine did, only to find your page no longer exists.  This, my friends, is what our First Amendment Right has come to in what used to be the United States of America.  I've been doing a lot of pondering over what our Country's new name should be.  I'll let you know when I come up with one.

Throughout all of 2020 I tried my best to keep my Facebook page upbeat...peaceful...a sanctuary to come to amongst all the poison, hatred, and divisionism the vast majority seemed to harbor. That grieved my heart.  The one time I posted something, an interview with a physicist about her take on the Virus early on, one of my family members, not even a blood in-law...wrote the most awful message to me on Messenger accusing me of trying to form a conspiracy theory.  Told me, "Shame on you!" like I was an idiot 2-year-old.  Told me she no longer respected my Christianity, that I needed to "come to this online seminar with her virtually" to be enlightened to her way of thinking which was the right would open my mind.  Said she prayed for me every day that I would see the truth.  My take on that was "Please don't pray for me because I don't think I have any interest in serving whatever your concept of God is."  Of course, as a Christian, I couldn't say any of what was inside of my head.  I had to turn the other cheek.  Which I did.  I said, "Point taken," and left it at that.  I have never ever ever in 45 years of being a Christian been so viciously attacked by anyone.  I could handle all except for attacking my character...that hurt more than I can begin to tell you. 

Ah well.

Water under the bridge and all that.

Oh, but it taught me yet again how a quiet answer turneth away wrath.  I could have come back at her with both barrels blasting, but God gave me the grace to just move on. I can live with my conscience.  She, if she even has one, might not be feeling so good whenever I come to mind. I dunno. It's not my concern anymore.  But once words are out of your mouth you can never ever ever take them back.  Ever.


End of story...


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

 Dear Hubby...remember him? going to the doctor today.  He was born with a defective and deformed kidney but no one knew it at the time.  It wasn't until he was 20 and began having some major pain and problems that his mother took him to the doctor.  This was back in 1973 when medicine seemed pretty advanced but most diagnosing was done with tests and x-rays. Since he was urinating blood and in excruciating pain it didn't take long for them to realize there was something drastically wrong with at least one of his kidneys.  His urologist performed surgery, trying to correct the drainage...instead of removing the kidney.  They removed kidney stones, some of them the size of golf balls, and tried to fix the problem the kidney had in emptying. The poison build-up was what was making him so ill at times. It was given a 50/50 chance of being successful.  

Along came me into his life.  He told me about his physical problem but I wasn't too concerned because he seemed healthy and was able to work and do everything else a young man in his 20s could do.  After our daughter was born we went on a fishing camping trip along the Cowlitz River and he went outside to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  When he came back in to the trailer, his face was ghostly white even in the gloom and he told me he'd just urinated a stream of nothing but blood.

We went to see his urologist.  The news was grim.  The kidney needed to be removed. It was, and he has had 45 years of excellent health since then.  

A few weeks ago he mentioned he's been having a lot of tenderness and discomfort on his right side where his remaining kidney is.  It goes.  He told me it might be a good idea to see a urologist here in Michigan to establish some kind of  medical relationship with one in case anything goes haywire.  All his medical treatment had been done in Oregon in the mid-1970s and his urologist had died years before.  I found one who appears to be a very good urologist here, and Dear Hubby went to see him.  Dear Hubby appears to be in such good health the doctor asked him what he was doing there -- a good sign, I'm thinking. When he told the doctor his past history he's taking it pretty seriously now. He did a thorough exam and had us send away for Dear Hubby's medical records.  He'll have them today for the appointment...SHOULD have them, since they were being sent by FAX and not by any mode of delivery or the USPS.  We know how abysmally slow all of that is anymore. He's scheduled to have an MRI at the end of the month and we'll move on from there, whatever path the results take us.  Like my mom used to say, "Don't borrow trouble."  "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof," is another good one. 

 99% of what we fret about never comes to pass anyway, and then when it does we face it, pick ourselves up by the bootstraps, and move on.


Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Pilgrim Path

Outside the Window....

At this hour of the morning there is such a sense of calm outside.  Isn't it amazing how we can feel 'calm'? Not the 'calm' that is an emotion, like calm after chaos, but the sense of quietness and stillness inside the soul? When you can hear a distant train on the tracks, the warm furnace kicking on and sending up draughts of heated air that warm your feet tucked under the desk. A friend posted some photos yesterday of a drive she took along the Oregon coast, mentioning how calm the water was.  Smooth as glass, the sky all around nothing but pastels blending from shell pink to cream, to softest apricot and lavender. It soothed me, just looking at them. I once lived in Oregon, for most of my life actually.  I thought I would miss the Pacific but I haven't.  I grew up near it and took drives or weekends here and there to visit it and spend some time.  I have lived in Michigan for 10 years now.  Here, I have the stillness of snow hushing its way down to the ground. I have five Great Lakes, each so huge but each so different. A stormy day on Lake Superior can create surf every bit as wild and untamed as the sea.  If I get homesick, I go there.  The only thing missing is the salt in the air.  Even though I know that, I still find myself licking my upper lip to taste the salt on my tongue.

Day before yesterday I spotted a fat but industrious fox squirrel out in the back yard. He'd run a few steps and bury his nose in the snow, looking for buried treasure, disappointed time after time. I got a little container with some bird seed and opened the back door, rattling it in the clear plastic cup.  That got his attention and he sat up on his haunches, his tail twirling behind him like a windmill, and we had a staring contest for a minute or two.  Finally he edged forward.  I held the cup low. He came all the way to me, stopping every few steps to crouch down and spread his tail over his back.  Maybe he thought that made him invisible; I don't know. He got all the way to the cup while I encouraged him in a soft quiet voice, only to peer inside to find thistle seed that I feed to the finches and sparrows.  Disappointed again! Not his favorites, I'm assuming, because he dashed away and then went up on his haunches once more, giving me the type of disgusted look only an animal can give a human when we've let them down. I have to go to the store later.  I think I'll buy a bag of unsalted peanuts, see how he likes those.

I am 67 years old today.

Friday, October 25, 2019

"The clock only measures one tick at a time"

Do you ever consider how many crossroads we come to in our lifetime?  Choices we need to make that can alter our lives in huge ways...or not so huge.  Like Yogi Berra was known to say, "When you get to the fork in the road, take it."  Ah, but therein lies the dilemma:  which one do we take?  Sometimes the indicators, like when we made the decision  to move 2400 miles from all we'd ever known living in the Pacific Northwest to the Detroit area...the path before us was so clear it's a wonder it didn't reach out and slap us in the face. In almost 66 years of living I've come to a lot of crossroads.  I've made a lot of choices that have impacted my life in a lot of ways, some wise and some really stupid.  But all my life I'm one who gets up off the ground, pulls up my boot straps, and moves on.  I try not to let the truly stupid decisions I've made affect the rest of my life.  There are life lessons tucked away in every nook and cranny of our decisions and as I look back and examine them, a lot of the stupid choices bob to the surface.  This time, though, I can take what I've learned from them and apply them to where my life is in the here and now.  I once wrote a letter to myself on my blog from the perspective at the age of 50, I believe it was, to my 20 year old self -- or thereabouts. Oh, if only we had the wisdom and maturity we have at 50 to help us make decisions at the age of 20!  So I wrote a letter telling myself not to sweat the little things, to focus on the moment so that when the big things come along we're prepared.  As prepared as we can be.  I never dreamed that at the age I am now the lines of human decency would become so blurred.  The choices so muddled and confusing.  God help my grandchildren.  I shudder to think what their futures will be like and how the fork in the road is going to  become even more blocked by tangled branches for them to cut their way through.

Recently I've been faced with a whole new fork in the road.  Both of my parents have been dead for quite a while. My mom was 61 and my dad was 83 at the times of their deaths. You go through the various degrees of grief and move on.  Now it's getting down to my generation:  my oldest brother has just been diagnosed with Stage IV liver cancer that has metastasized to his pancreas.  With chemo he might live a year, without chemo 4-6 months.  I'm not sure how I'm dealing with this emotionally so far.  My main concern is seeing him make it to Heaven.  I wish it was clear cut and I knew without a doubt that he's ready to meet God but I'm not.  Oh, he can talk the talk and spout scripture like a Bible scholar.  But to say he walks the walk...well, that's where I start thinking he's on shaky ground.  But that is not for me, my brother, and God to figure out in the preparations needed.  It is totally between him and God.  Yet the uneasiness and uncertainty I feel is eating me alive.  I am a Bible-believing Christian and though so many "Christians" nowadays leave Christ out of Christianity --  they look for "the Power within them" and figure they're going to enter Heaven on their feel-good beliefs --  that's not what I read in my Bible, and I have read it through several times.  I don't want this to be a theological discussion.  I just want my brother to really search his heart and take care of any loose ends. Now is not the time for him to neglect broken relationships and devastating hurt he's caused in the lives of his children and grandchildren.  Do you see what I'm trying to say?  I'm not being his judge, I'm just concerned...deeply concerned.  He posted something on his Facebook page that gave ne pause, talking about how he and his wife have had to face persecution and abandonment by family for their beliefs.  In every life-drama they're always the victims...they can not see the forest for the trees and how their decisions, their "Christian parenting," have been done from their interpretations, not Scripture itself, and they have done a lot of serious damage. I think their kids and grandkids are going to have to dig their way through a lot of mixed emotions and bitterness to find forgiveness in their hearts. 

I dunno.

He's 6 years older than me and we have never been close.  I do love him because he is my brother. I know in my heart when my time comes to "walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death" I will focus on any righteous feelings I have about my life and ask the Lord to search me and see if there's anything else I need to make right.  Not focus on how righteous I think I am.  I'm very afraid that's where my brother stands at the fork in the road he faces now.  Oh, fervent prayer is that he steps off onto the right path.

Monday, October 21, 2019

It's the little things God does that never cease to amaze me. I don't go over to my neighbor Donna's on the weekends but I always look to make sure the newspaper is taken in in the morning...that's her signal to me that she's up and doing ok. Well, this morning I didn't go to church because I wasn't feeling well. Usually her paper is in by 9:30 but when I checked at 10 it was still on the porch. I grabbed her house key that I have in case of emergencies and went over and tried the front door. Locked! So I went into the sun porch at the back to use my key, and as I opened the screen door a little sparrow started flying frantically around. It had to have been trapped in there since Thursday when I took out the recycling! I shooed him back to freedom, and found out that Donna was fine...she had gotten all caught up on doing a jigsaw puzzle! If I'd felt ok, if I hadn't gone to check on Donna, and if her door hadn't been locked so I had to go to the sun porch...I would never have found that little sparrow. It just goes to show how God knew where it was and it needed help. We are not too small for His attention, and neither was the little sparrow. I just marvel how He orchestrated it all. What an amazing God we serve!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Isn't it funny how easily we can become distracted?  I sat down here at my desk half an hour ago with the mindset that I was going to write on here again and in the process I thought of someone I hadn't thought of in a while and decided to check Facebook "first" before coming here.  Half an hour and about 10 side trips later, I finally arrived here. Now I only have a small window of time to write, not the hour I'd planned on.  Oh well.  My intentions were good anyway.

My little side trip down the road reminds me of what an organized mind for detail I once had.  I could recall names and faces from diaper-hood onward.  You needed a phone number?  I'd rattle it off for you.  I excelled at the jobs I had in Medical Records when I was younger because I had a photographic memory when it came to numbers.  I did fantastic playing "Jeopardy" from my living mind was an overflowing source of junk yard trivia. People playing any kind of trivia game would call me to see if an answer was true and I was always correct.  Always.

Well.  That was then, this is now.  My new reality the past few years is accepting the fact that the ol' mind just ain't what it used to be.  What gives me comfort is knowing just about everyone over the age of 60 is rowing the same boat. I'll open the pantry door and for the life of me I can't remember why I did.  I double-check and second-guess myself on just about everything.  I sometimes catch myself thinking as I'm driving, "Now...where did I need to go?"  I blame it on moving 2400 miles from Portland to a whole new region that I'm still learning.  But, reality I'd temporarily forgotten. It used to freak me out, until I read something Anna Quindlen had written about getting older.  She had gone to her doctor thinking she had early-onset Alzheimer's because she was forgetting so many things.  I loved her doctor's response. She said (and I paraphrase because I read it awhile back and can't remember the direct quote--typical, ha!) "Think of your mind as an empty file cabinet you started filling on the day you were born.  Every thought, every memory, has been filed into that cabinet.  At our ages, the cabinet is full to overflowing and sometimes it's just too much to keep track of."  Or something like that.  But it reassured Anna and it reassured me.  I love some of the funny memes on Facebook about people dealing with the same thing.  Makes me feel so not-alone when I go searching for my glasses and find them tucked up onto the top of my head five minutes later.  Or when I have to check and recheck a recipe when I'm cooking dinner, even tho I've made the dish many times thru the years.  Oh, it can be terribly frustrating at times, but just like with so many other aspects of growing old, I take it in good grace and humor.  I don't want to be one of those cranky, bitter old ladies who sits and complains about everything.  I don't want to feel the need to share the details of my bowel movements and every ache and pain with those around me.  They don't care.  Why should I?  You can sit and fret the rest of your life, or you can look at the days you have left the way the good Lord wants you to.  As a gift.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

I feel pretty silly, considering how many stops-and-starts I've had on this blog.  I've "retired" it and yet I keep coming back to it.  Last year...well, I think it was last year - who knows with how time flies! - I took several days to sit down and read thru the whole thing, choosing the posts I wanted to use for blog books to be made for my grandsons.  My plan is to give them their copies when they graduate from high school.  It ended up being quite the daunting task.  I had over 2000 entries!  I guess I'm a little longwinded when I sit down in front of a screen and keyboard, ha!  I pared it way back.  I had to.  As it stood, when I first started editing, each copy it would've cost several hundred dollars each.  I wanted to make only 3 for me and one for each grandson, but that would've taken it up to almost $1500.  I dunno about the rest of you, but I'm not made of that kind of money. So...I kept nipping and tucking and finally ended up with 249 pages.  That ended up being around $400 for all 3 but I could manage that tho I had to gulp a bit as I wrote out the check.  My Dear Hubby, wonderful man that he is, encouraged me from the very beginning and gave me his blessing.  Truth be told, I can't bring myself to read my copy yet.  It tells the story of the years I had with them from birth until we moved here to Michigan in 2011. We spent every week day together for around 11 hours a day. Even as I write this in 2019 I still have plenty of interaction with them.  I give rides to and from school when needed.  Rides to baseball practices and games. But they're old enough now at 11 nd 13 to be on their own at home on vacation days and holidays. I'm basically "on call", I guess you'd say.  And now that I'm 65 that's plenty.  If I had to start over at this age it would just about kill me, lol!  I definitely don't have the stamina and energy I had when I started out being a grandmother at 52.  I have been so very blessed, tho, to have the years I've had with them.  There is a bond there that is so precious.  In the years when we lived in Portland, Oregon, where most of this 'blog book' happened, we went on miles and miles and miles of walks and had tons of fun together.  It grieves me when I ask them if they remember any of it now, that they can remember the color of our house (blue) and stopping at the fire station to see and sit on the fire engines.  But when we moved here they were just becoming 3 and 5.  Their life has been here in Michigan.  If I'm still alive when they get their copies of their books it will be interesting to see if they spark any memories for them.  I left posts about me in there, too.  They tell me I'm an awesome and crazy grandma now.  I've always been a little off-the-wall...just ask anyone who knows I'm leaving behind some of the goofy  things I thought and said.  I also recorded a lot of personal things.  It truly is a family chronicle and I hope it means as much to them as it means to me. 

I sent an email to a friend yesterday and I told her I just can't seem to get it together to want to write much of anything anymore which she knows is not like me at all.  We've been best friends for 52 years and she's received plenty of letters and cards and suffered thru reading the silly 'teen love' stories I wrote all the way thru high school. Volumes and volumes.  Reams and reams.  I had an old turn-of-the-century black cast iron Underwood typewriter that weighed about 10 pounds back then.  I had hundreds of pen pals around the world where those old handwritten letters could take weeks to arrive at their destinations.  Now I sit here with my laptop, write an email or message, click a button, and they're delivered in nanoseconds.  I have so much arthritis in my hands now writing anything by hand is very laborious.  But, you know, the world has really lost something, no longer writing letters in one's own handwriting.  There was something so...personal...about receiving a letter in the mail from a friend or loved one.  Maybe that's why all my writing ambitions have disappeared.  There's not much of a thrill staring at a white screen and trying to make my words mean anything to anyone.  My email and their email and everyone else's emails all kind of melt into each other after a while.  I can't look at Liz's email or my friend Sue's email or my cousin Ginger's and even know it's from them until I see their name on it. But, see any handwriting on an envelope let me know there was going to be something fun and worthwhile to read once I opened it!

Oh well.

As usual I've just rambled on.  Isn't my mind a strange place, the way it meanders here, there, and everywhere, especially since I hardly ever end up writing what I thought I was going to write about to begin with. 

My day beckons me so I guess I'd better get moving.  It's a beautiful almost-freezing morning out there.  It's just teasing us, letting us know Winter's on the horizon.

Friday, April 5, 2019

If you would keep young: be cheerful, keep working, and love one another. ~Fanny J. Crosby

A few months ago I began helping out an elderly neighbor of ours.  Donna is 89 years old and still -- barely -- able to live independently in the home she's lived in for over 55 years.  Much against her wishes her family was seriously considering having her move to some kind of assisted living facility.  They had valid reasons:  she can no longer drive, her health is quite frail, and she was in need of someone to check on her on a daily basis to make sure she was up and able to get around.  That's where I quite unknowingly stepped in, going over to her house to give her a little Christmas planter.  A representative from a Home Health service happened to be there at her children's request, talking with her about different things their care givers can do --  for a price  --  to help her out at home. The woman was just wrapping it up when I arrived so I stayed to visit with Donna for a while.  She told me about the services offered by this company.  She had a choice of four things from quite a large list.  The appalling part of it was the price!  $1200 per month!  The helper assigned to her had to be guaranteed 4 hours per day 4 days a week, whether Donna needed anything done or not.  How on earth is an older person on a fixed income supposed to afford that?!  And who knows what kind of people work there, regardless of background checks.  Plus they're complete strangers to Donna.  She was understandably pretty upset.  As she was talking I had a light bulb go off in my head.  Why not offer to do it for her myself?  I'm right next door.  So I told her I'd be willing to do it to supplement my Social Security and I'd only charge her $400 per month.  She was so relieved, and so was her family who live about 20 miles away...not too far, but not able to get to her if she's in need of help right away.  Donna was happy to accept, and I've been going over on a daily basis, Monday through Friday, with her knowing if anything comes up she can call us any time on the weekend.  Some days I'm there half an hour...some days, like when we go grocery shopping, it can be 2 or 3 hours even though she only has a few items on her list.  Grocery stores overwhelm her but she likes to get out around people and get out of the house.  I take her to the bank, clean her house, doctor appointments, the hair salon.I take dinner over to her if we have a casserole, soup, or chili.  Mostly, I just visit with her. She is so hungry for companionship, and before I began helping her she could go weeks without any face-to-face contact with anyone.  My daily life is busy enough where I didn't see or realize just how frail she's become.  But now that I know, I can fit in time each day to make sure she's alright. Sure, she can tell me the same story over and over every day.  She gets mixed up on facts and does things like forget her house key in the outside lock on the front door.  I've had to call ambulances twice to take her to the hospital when her heart went out of rhythm and when she was bleeding from the bowels. Once, on a Saturday morning when something told me I needed to go check on her, and another time in the middle of the night when she called me and told me something was wrong and she needed my help.  I think I broke all records throwing clothes on and getting over to her house!

The sad part about this story is there are so many of our elderly who are in similar situations to Donna's.  Family so busy with the day-to-day hectic schedules they aren't able to do much more than call on the phone.  The older person needing help but too stubborn or afraid to ask because they're frightened their independence will be taken away if they do.  And foggy minds that can tell you wonderful stories about their lives in such detail from 60, 70 years ago but can't remember their keys or their purse or wallet as they leave to shop.  When I was in my later 30s in the 1980s I helped an elderly lady at my church in Portland for a couple of years.  She was 96 and still able to live independently but in need of help just like Donna.  There was an age span of 53 years between us and even though I knew by helping Leona the frustrations and helplessness she sometime felt, I was still young and didn't really take it all in.  I didn't really realize the challenges of the elderly.  Now, with Donna, there's only 24 years between us, my 65 to her 89, and now I do realize, quite soberly, that my future could easily be the same as hers in a few years.  It's a whole different perspective, let me tell you.

Two things both these ladies told me was they don't want gifts on special occasions at their ages.  They don't need or want gets down to just the necessary needs for the most part.  But what both had in common was loneliness.  They told me if only their families gave them the gift of time.  A simple phone call.  Stopping by to visit without being in a rush and in an itch to get away to the next thing.  They need to know they still matter, that they're still thought of, that their lives are still relevant.

That they're still loved.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Chapter Two: It's Never Too Late to Start Afresh

I haven't decided if I'm going to tell anyone I know personally that I'm going to begin writing on here again.  It's been niggling at the back of my mind for quite a while but I keep using the excuse that I'm too busy.  How do I find the time? Where on earth do I begin?  Since moving here to Michigan 8 years ago I tried to keep up my original version of this blog for a few years but my posts became skimpier and farther apart.  I realized I'd written myself into a corner and couldn't find my way out.  I tried about a year ago to start up a new blog but honestly, this blog had been my home for such a long time that I felt displaced and couldn't seem to find a comfortable groove.  I am no great shakes of a writer but when I do write I need to feel at home and that 'new' blog didn't have that feel at all. It felt like an extended-stay hotel suite. So... it just kind of dried up from lack of interest and lack of content.  You see, my original blog was written for two main purposes.  One, to deal with a lot of raw emotions and baggage from the death of my father.  Two, as a legacy to my two grandsons.  Their lives were chronicled on it from when I'd first heard of their conception.  A journal of their early childhood, shall we say.  I knew how fleeting time is by how fast my own two children grew up and the amount of things from their childhood I'd found I'd forgotten. I didn't want that to happen again, so I began writing it all out. I have since had it published privately and each grandson will receive his copy when they graduate from high school.

 I basically started with no readership.  No comments.  No real direction.  Just a deep need in my heart to write about how I felt in my heart.  How much I loved my grandsons.  And how I was able to put to rest a lot of unresolved issues with my Dad, that I was able to make peace with him before he died.  It was very, very cathartic. And through this process somehow word got around and I began to get readers, many of whom became and still are very dear friends of mine.  Before I started writing this this morning I went to look over my stats to see if anyone is still reading this at all.  Very surprisingly...yes.  People still stumble across it.  Since I'm a techie dinosaur I really don't know how because it's been dead in the water for a long time.  Needless to say, that gave me the kick in the pants I needed to pick myself up by the bootstraps and dive in again.

So, okay.  With all that drivel out of the way, what do I plan to write about in my second chapter?  I think I need to write about growing older.  I am 65 years old now.  I am  receiving Social Security.  My grandsons are both in the "double digits" now.  My Dear Hubby is contemplating retirement.  I seem to get hung up on what one early commenter wrote, saying, "Why do you think anyone wants to read about your boring and paltry life?"  Well, I honestly don't know, truly.  I just write what I feel, share the ups and downs.  I'm a very fast typist so my fingers keep up pretty well with my thoughts and I'm capable of letting it flow out through my fingers just as it's 'speaking' in my mind.  I dunno.  It worked before and maybe now that I've come Home it will work again.

"A Shelter from the Storm"...I used that as my blog title originally because that's what writing has always been for me, an escape.  A safe place to retreat to.  I'm going to leave it at that.  No changes there. The good Lord knows we face challenges every day, no matter how old we are or where we are in life.  My Dear Hubby was reading something I wrote recently and he asked me, "Do you ever write on your blog anymore?"  I told him no, that I'd shut it down.  He said, "You need to start again." He seems to think I have talent and he said I shouldn't waste the gift God's given to me.  I dunno...I feel funny claiming any 'talent'.  I just write whatever comes into my head.

I don't know if there will be anyone stumbling across this new updated version.  I don't know if anyone will want to read about my boring and paltry life again.  But if you do drop in, please take the time to say hey so I know you're out there.  I'd love to make another new friend.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

Yep, I'm shutting 'er down.  I have taken this blog and put it into book form for my grandsons and myself, and I am leaving it here because it's still getting traffic even tho I haven't written on it much since we moved to Michigan in 2011. But what I set out to do has been accomplished, covering the early years of my grandsons' childhood and interspersing those entries with entries of my own.  My hope is I'm leaving behind books that will help them remember the 'real' me in years to come when I'm long gone from this ol' world.

Going thru and editing what to save and what to delete was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I thought so many of the moments I wrote about would be things I'd never forget and was stunned at how much I'd forgotten.  But what is so wonderful, so amazing, is I DID write it, and we will have this record in our family's time in history.  We were there...and leaving it on the internet it should live on.  But, as I learned...and it was such a hard blog sites can disappear without any notice, which is what happened with the beginnings of this blog.  I had switched over to Blogger when I began having all kinds of problems with Bravejournal and I had thought what I'd written would be there forever, only to try to go to it one day and finding it...gone.  Oh, the heartbreak!

I am going to start another blog...I have missed writing on a regular basis very much.  When I get it up and running I'll come back and provide a link to it if you want to follow my mental meanderings for the remainder of my life.  An anonymous commenter once left this on one of my posts:

"Who are you to think anyone would want to read about your boring and paltry life?"

With over a million views in its lifespan, I'd say somebody did.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Because I Can Never Forget This Ethiopian Flower....

(I originally posted this on 9/11/2009. I have decided that I will re-post this every year on the anniversary, just to keep the memory of this one beautiful soul my heart, in your heart. In everyone's heart who reads this.)

Here is a photo of a young woman who is now going to haunt me for the rest of my days. Her name was Eskedar Melaku. She died September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center. She was 31 years old.

She was born in Ethiopia and emigrated to the United States, settling in New York City to attend Queens College. At the time of her death she was assistant vice president of Marsh & McLennan
Cos. Inc., a global professional services and insurance brokerage company, ranked the 5th largest US company in the diversified financial industry. I also found in researching for this blog post that the company was located on the floors directly impacted by the first jet that crashed into the North Tower. It comforts me to know that she never knew what hit her. She was a successful young business woman, but that only touches the surface of who she really was. She was described in the many tributes I've read about her by people who knew her as intelligent, beautiful, radiant, authentic, full of life. Hard working. Kind. Thoughtful. Never a bad word came from her mouth. A beautiful soul whose quiet presence is missed very much. How much she was loved by those fortunate enough to know her. How I wish I'd been one of them.

Like everyone else on that day, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the attacks on the World Trade Center were taking place. I was standing at my bedside, folding towels before leaving for work, listening to Katie Couric and Matt Lauer on the Today Show on the TV behind me, Katie making some kind of comment like, "What does this mean?" before anyone really had a clue what was going on. I happened to turn to look at the TV just as the second plane was approaching and watched in horror as it slammed into the tower. I remember the icy cold tendrils of shock radiating down my spine, just as I feel them now as I sit here writing this. I never realized how this incident, this horrendous tragedy, would change the 'safe' world we Americans had always taken for granted, how America would never be the same. I said more prayers than I can remember that day, for those who perished and the loved ones left behind. I have said many prayers for them since. None of whom I ever knew personally.

But, now I do know one of them personally. Eskedar Melaku. And I know she'll come to mind on every anniversary of 9/11. And at many other random moments, whenever I hear references to that day. I will see that beautiful smile, those warm eyes. I will remember.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Don't simply retire from something; have something to retire to. ~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

Retirement is a funny phenomenon.  I reached 62 at the end of last year and we decided I should go ahead and start receiving Social Security.  So, I signed up for it and began getting my checks a few months ago.  I cannot begin to tell you how surreal it was to look at our bank statement and to see my very first check deposited into our checking account.  How did that happen?!  How have I become so...old?  Believe me, it isn't much because my husband and I decided years ago that I'd be a stay-at-home mom for our kids and, it ended up, half the neighborhood.  We have never regretted that choice.  But outside of working seven years for the Portland Public Schools I would make a little extra money here and there cleaning houses, doing a little day care...little jobs with little income that had little influence on how much I'd get in my Golden Oldie Years.  Oh well.

I love quotes.  Bible quotes.  Famous people quotes.  Funny quotes.  Thought-provoking quotes.  I have a favorite website devoted to quotes and I glean most of those that I use from that site.  I was looking at it this morning under "Retirement" to see what I could use for my post title.  They're not very encouraging.  Mostly about living on less...much less...and the boredom that comes from suddenly transitioning from being so busy all the time to wondering what in the world you're going to do with the endless hours of inactivity stretching out in front of you.  This title caught my eye because outside of suggesting playing rounds and rounds of was the only one that encouraged me to do something with that time.  Volunteer.  Give away your time.  Go to your nearest elementary school and volunteer there...the staff will love you for it, and so will the kids.  I do that during the school year at my youngest grandson's school, and I'm known as Mrs. Cooper's Grandma to the little first graders I tutor to help them learn to read.  I volunteer at the Book Fair twice a year.  I'm going to sign up to volunteer at a hospice here in the city where I live.  You're giving of yourself...your talents...your strengths.  It keeps your mind active and healthy.  It keeps you in contact with people.  It gives you friendships.  It gives you a sense of purpose and a sense of usefulness.  A blessing is also there because you're doing unto others.

I don't want to wither away.  I don't want to sit here collecting dust.  I want to continue to be a productive part of society.  I want to contribute.

I want to matter.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love. ~ George Eliot

We are preparing to bid our daughter goodbye.  She's an adult, granted...but no matter how old they become, they're still our children.  And since we've had her with us or near us for almost 40 years, saying goodbye is not easy.  Not easy at all.

She will be leaving by train Monday morning to move back to Oregon.  Out of all of our family's monumental adventure of moving to Michigan a little over 5 years ago, she's the only one who's missed the Pacific Northwest the most.  Being single and working a very physical job on an average of 9 1/2 hours per day, when she's been home on the weekends it's mainly been a matter of resting up for the coming week ahead.  Even tho she likes Michigan she hasn't been able to establish any real friendships because of lack of time and energy.  She went to Oregon on vacation early in the Spring this year and stayed a week with her best friend of many years.  She realized just how much she'd missed her friend and also the beach and other amenities of Oregon.  They'd talked about my daughter moving back out there before, but this time they cemented the deal and she'll be moving on Monday.  She's selling and donating just about everything and will ship only the basics.  My daughter-in-law and I are spending the next few days helping her get everything ready.  She'll stay the weekend with her brother's family to spend some time with her nephews...and then she'll be gone.


Sure, there's Skype and texting and all that.

It's not going to be the same, tho.  Not having her nearby.  With just her leaving, it diminishes our small core group of family by one and leaves us with only 6.  I already feel the loss.  My "mother's gut" is feeling sick and my heart is very heavy.  But I can't hold her back.  I can't be negative.  I want her to spread her wings and fly.

Sometimes we have to love them enough to let them go.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing. ~ Eva Young

Yup, what my post title says is the truth.  No arguing there.  I am finding that getting back into the groove of regular writing is like coming back from a Rip Van Winkle nap.  Brain cells that used to snap to attention and produce post haste now just kind of...dribble.  But at least they're still there.  I'm putting sentences together into some kind of cohesive order.  Aren't I?  I am not going back and rereading what I've written the past few days.  I am very guilty of over-critiquing myself and I'll talk myself out of writing anything at all if I start that up.

Kind of like when I joined Weight Watchers a bazillion years ago.  I so desperately wanted to lose weight and I did.  A lot of weight.  Something like 60 pounds in 8 months.  I was the star of my class, the lecturer's little darling.  I was put on a pedestal so high I was set up to crash, at least with the way my mind works.  And boy, did I crash, hard.  I became bulimic and an abuser of laxatives.  I purged like crazy.  I did anything to keep my weight at or below my goal for maybe a couple of years?  I don't remember for sure...this was back around 1980.  Then the pressure of it became too much and I fell off the band wagon with such a loud crash they probably heard it in Baltimore all the way from Portland, Oregon!  My greatest enemy in my lifetime has been my scale and it has had a demonic hold on me.   Or I should say it did until a few years ago.  I know I'm never going to look like Cindy Crawford at 50 in a bikini.  I wouldn't want to.  Can you imagine the pressure on her to stay skinny?  But I still refuse to look when my weight is taken at the doctor's office.  I tell the nurse to just write it down...I don't want to know.  Deep down I think I'm afraid I'll jump on the band wagon if I do and it will be back to the races again.  Instead, I'm at what I call a 'comfortable' weight.  Not skinny and not fat.  Just "grandmotherly" and since I'm a 62 year old grandma, that's sufficient for me.  What is so sad is the stupid things we do to our bodies in our youth come back to bite us on the behind as we get older and my dumb choices have wreaked havoc on my digestive system thru the years.  You wanna dance, ya gotta pay the piper.  End of story.'s been a good but emotional day.  My little buddy Christian was over at our house this morning for the last time before school.  We had a long, very sweet hug before we piled in the van to head to school.  I dropped him off and then had a lovely breakfast with a dear friend and I'm sure that helped make the morning a little less emotional.  Around 11:30 our family gathered together at our grandsons' elementary school to participate in a tradition that's been upheld for many years where family, school staff, and the other kids in the school gather in the hallways to 'clap out' the 4th graders as they leave the school for the very last time.  Very bittersweet and especially emotional today because our daughter will be leaving to live in Oregon in a month and she and our grandson had a very tearful moment at the end.  It's great to make fresh new plans for your life...but the reality of goodbye comes knocking at your door too and I don't think my daughter knew before today just how hard that's going to be.  When we moved to Michigan we came completely intact as a family but now she's heading back all on her own.  Quite a different scenario this time around.

So as my brain cells...dribble...I am not going to be disheartened that my blogging audience who once upon a time was very healthy has faded away to next-to-nothing.  I never started this blog 14 years ago for that reason, anyway.  I began it to chronicle the lives of my grandsons and it has morphed into so many other things as well.  When I first began writing this all those years ago someone left me a very rude comment that almost caused me to quit before I'd hardly begun.  He said, "Who wants to read about your boring and paltry life anyway?"  You know who?  ME!