Friday, November 30, 2007

Cracked Up

"You crack me up" used to be a frequent expression (maybe it still is) and it had a slight nuance to it that I think insinuated a slightly quirky action on the part of the person who "cracked" you "up." I think expressions are fascinating, especially the history of where they came from. I remember living in Ghana when we had to have local expressions explained to us. Expressions for similar things to ours, but differently worded. But that's not the point of this post. "Cracked" as in cracked hands is my point.

This is the time of year when I welcome the cold weather. I like it to be consistent, day in and day out so I know what to wear ahead, rather than listening each morning for the temperature prediction. But the downside of the weather is the chapped and cracked hands. They come almost instantly. Believe me, I have tried all kinds of creams, ointments, white-glove sleeping, liquid Band-Aids, gloves for dishes, and still the pain continues. Where I work, each crib is considered a "room" so we must foam our hands with alcohol foam before and after we touch a baby, and as we go in and out of a mother's room. Disastrous to the hands.

I use my hands all the time, and value them tremendously. The arthritis that has set into my thumbs (from overuse undoubtedly) is disconcerting at best. Add to that the constant cracking, especially in my thumbs, makes using them painful.

So my nighttime routine is lotion, antibiotic cream, and often Band-Aids (that only will stay on at night). I'm always open to new ideas for my cracked up hands.

Good Will Among Old and New Couch Owners

I don't feel at all offended that someone asked if our new couch came from Good Will. It's extremely cottagy and cozy. I even like that the transfer of our old loveseat across the street to its new home, and the arrival of the "bride" both occurred after dark. Kind of gave it an air of intrigue. The uptown girl who owned the couch got very sentimental as it went out the door. Ten years is a long time to sit on a couch. I understand. So I emailed her a photo of her couch in it's new home. "You made my day," she wrote back. That's all on the "bride," but I thought it was kind of a sweet little story. I'm glad I sent her the photo. Above: the bride's old home and new home.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Old Trucks and White Slipcovers

The old truck rattled down the road as we headed uptown towards the city. "No power steering," Spouse declared of the dated pick-up we had borrowed. The wheel was very hard to manage. I came back with, "Didn't you used to drive a school bus?" "Yes, but I think this truck originally had power steering which is now gone. That's a whole different game than just a truck originating with no power steering!" (yes, we are old enough to remember those.)

My lap was so piled high with tarps and old bedspreads and shower curtains that I could barely see the road ahead of us. We were on our way to pick up our new gently-used couch. Someone had taken mighty nice care of the couch I had always dreamed of owning, but never even considered for the cost. Good ol' Craig's list.

Then the thought occurred to me ... here we are at our advanced age still borrowing trucks to pick up old furniture. Has a shiny furniture truck ever stopped with a delivery at our house? I don't think so--the only new furniture we bought was years ago--a couch and chair--which I'm sure we picked up to save delivery charges.

But this is the way I prefer it, really. It's like buying a used car--let the depreciation set in and then go for it. I looked over at Spouse, trying hard to manage the steering, and realized how much fun it's been all these years. There's a thrill in looking and then finding old treasures. Pieces with history who still have enough life in them to make more history in our house. Conversation pieces. Not to mention how much fun it was to see inside the fetching arts and crafts-style bungelow––where our couch resided––nestled under the city skyscrapers (where the young professionals now want to live.)

So I guess that's us. That's who we are and who we will always be. And I'm very content with that.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cold, cold rain, lots of it. "It's a British sort of day," we say. Time to fire up the kettle and make some hot tea.

Not Your Everyday Green Bean Casserole

When I put a spoonful of Youngest Son's greenbean casserole on my plate, the lima beans mixed in with the green beans were a surprise. "Oh, something new," I suggested. Apparently the full story is that when he went to make the casserole, they were lacking in green beans, so he creatively substituted the limas. We were around the Thanksgiving table of Youngest's Son's wife's family. We decided this might be remembered as the "lima bean" Thanksgiving. Little did we know what more was coming.

A beautiful ceramic centerpiece was opened towards the end of the meal to reveal small envelopes tucked inside, filled with the tithe of a money gift given to our host family. As we each took and opened an envelope, we found an amount of money to share with someone in need. There would undoubtedly be a story for each of us to tell as we put our money to work. "The Gift that Gives Back." Now this would be a Thanksgiving to remember!

Later, Spouse beat Youngest Son in a game of ping-pong. Competitive streaks being what they are in the male species, a second game ensued. As Spouse forgot his age and sprung for a far ball, his body kept going into the wall, hitting his forehead on the light switch. End result: almost-a-dentist son stitching up father, closely observed by dentist father-in-law holding a strong light. A nice even row of six stitches––he did a good job. Now there will be several stories for history to tell about this Thanksgiving, and much, much to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Giving Thanks

Originally uploaded by podso
The Lord is God; 'tis he alone
Doth life, and breath, and being give;
We are his work, and not our own,
The sheep that on his pastures live.

Enter his gates with songs of joy,
With praises to his courts repair;
And make it your divine employ
To pay your thanks and honors there.

from Psalm 100, by Isaac Watts (1674-1748) in THE PSALMS OF DAVID, written in 1719.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It's the Little Things

I take joy in the little things of life. One of the most exciting things that has happened to me this year is that I got a light put in a long closet under our stairs. It serves as sort of a pantry, and catch-all, and all that in the dark for the almost ten years we have lived in this house. Imagine––great storage, endless possibilities, but only visible with a flashlight or one of those florescent tube lights where the batteries are either falling out or wearing out. Very frustrating.

When an electrician was doing some other work at our house, I asked him to put a mere lightbulb in the closet--with the old-fashioned pull-string. As simple as can be, but the delight it brings me everytime I enter that closet is ... well, amusing, I guess. Now I can really organize, and get to things easily ... just with a pull of the string. I don't think I'll live long enough to stop appreciating the wonder of light in that dark place.

That could be a sermon illustration right there, couldn't it ... how the Light of the world illumines our lives and makes something of them. But right now I'm not preaching, just appreciating one of the little things in my life.

Tea With Milk and ...

I was privileged to be a part of a tea for young neighborhood girls put together by my friend Barbarona. The table was an array of goodies, adorned by ornaments of the fall season. Ten or so girls sat around sipping tea, some of whom were from homes where they face challenges that young girls should not have to face so early in life. So it was a joy to share in a tea party with them, indulging in some of the finer things of life.

Barbarona shared the gospel story with them, and also about the death of her dear friend, Rosie, who used to help with similar teas. Some of the girls remembered her. Then we used rubber stamps, glue, and markers to make Thanksgiving cards for someone special in their lives. It was a whole bunch of fun for all of us.

Today it is a year ago that Rosie went to be with her Lord. My guess is she's had a few tea parties in heaven by now, that is, if she cares about them anymore. I'm thinking that they pale in comparison to being in God's presence, don't you?

Friday, November 16, 2007

can it be?

I'm not great at backing out of parking spaces. It hurts my neck to look around and it seems something is always blocking my view. So I back out cautiously. The other day at the grocery store I looked around and saw nothing in my view and backed out.

"STOP!" A man's voice called out, not too loudly, not too hysterically, but firmly. Where had he come from? And what should appear in my rear view but another car backing out right into mine. The older man waited while I pulled in, let the other lady back out, and then backed out. Like he was supervising or something. Then I didn't see him again, and began to procede out of the parking area. I saw him again near the exit, standing by his car, as if making sure this silly woman could actually drive. So he undoubtedly saved me from at least a "fender bender." I always like to think of these experiences as possibly encounters with angels. After all, it seemed he "came out of nowhere!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Do It For Me

In recent years I have started decorating for Christmas pretty early. I get it all out in the spare room and do a little at a time. But it seems harder and harder for me to lug out all the stuff and decorate, especially since I am on my own now to do it (though I still try to reign in some of the young folk to trim the tree). And while our house used to be filled to the brim with relatives, Christmas is getting quieter and quieter as babies have come, expanding families, and making it hard to travel and all fit under one roof. So this year it will be just us, an occasional pop in from my mother living nearby, and some in's and out's from our children. Maybe a small party or two as well, since we love to practice hospitality.

So, wondering if I had it in me to drag it all out and decorate this year, I suggested to spouse that I pare it down even more than I already have in recent years. Spouse does not have a lot of great memories of childhood Christmases, so Christmas with our family in our cozy house means a lot to him.

He cut my chatter short. "Just do it for me, only me," he said quietly.

Will do my love, with pleasure.

Monday, November 12, 2007

These are a few of my favorite things ...

... that is––small towns, back roads, old friends, old doors, windows, flowers (especially daisies), little boys (because I had them), my friend's homemade quilts, mailboxes (for what they contain), and tea with all its trappings. Of course there's more. Life is full of favorite things!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's been awhile ...

... since I was at a college basketball game, but we enjoyed an exhibition one this weekend. The school spirit was contagious. I loved the way they showed an electronic banner of just the eyes of the player doing the foul shot. I decided to become a fan of one of the players and chose #14 because he had the same name--Danny--and is about the same size--as the #14 on our college team. Since youngest son attends this school, maybe its time to more closely follow the team. Gives me something new to root for. After all, spouse was a ball player, so the game has always been close to my heart.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tooth Fairy

It's always fun to visit our married kids that live a few hours away. The leaves are trying to change color (the drought has obviously affected that to some degree), but the ride was pretty and the cool air refreshing. Even 24 hours out of town can give us a boost.

When we walked into the guest room we found toothpaste and toothbrushes on our pillows. (This younger and youngest son of ours is almost a dentist.) We used to put quarters under our kids' pillows when they lost baby teeth ... I guess roles have changed!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Originally uploaded by podso
A proper British tea! Friends sent this photo of their tea in Brighton's Grand Hotel. They were remembering a dear mutual friend of ours on what would have been her 80th birthday! How we wish we could have joined them! She was smiling down from heaven, we think, on this her first birthday there. I "just happened" to be drinking a cup of tea from a box she had given us, when the email arrived. It made it even more of an "event." Mmmmm ...I'll have a scone please.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Drawing Light Out of Darkness

Originally uploaded by podso
Nine years ago this month must have been a particularly difficult time in our lives. I remember it vaguely, and that a major computer crash topped it all off--both Spouse and I losing some important work. A note in my worn devotional book by the following reminds of that time, and God's faithfulness, for indeed, He made all things straight. I quote it here as it is as good for me today, as it was back then, and I love Robert Browning's poem at the end:

"If I believe in God, in a Being who made me, and fashioned me, and knows my wants and capacities and necessities, because He gave them to me, and who is perfectly good and loving, righteous, and perfectly wise and powerful,––whatever my circumstances inward or outward may be, however thick the darkness which encompasses me, I can trust, yea, be assured, that all will be well, that He can draw light out of darkness, and make crooked things straight."

Thomas Erskine (they wrote long sentences in the 19th century!)

God! Thou art love! I build my faith in that!
I know Thee, Thou has kept my path and made
Light for me in the darkness––tempering joy;
It were too strange that I should doubt Thy love.

Robert Browning

Friday, November 02, 2007

Where's Waldo?

MC Marathon 10-07 048
Originally uploaded by podso
Youngest son ran in and completed his first marathon last weekend in Washington DC ... 26+ miles! He trained long and hard for it. We are proud of him! If you know him can you spot him?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

on the line

on the line
Originally uploaded by podso
A young mother-to-be wrote me today that she had "started washing the cloth diapers" as she prepares for her son's birth. In an instant I was back to that time in my life. My cloth diapers were huge--the tri-fold kind--and they did dry faster on a line than pre-folded. My most vivid memory of dealing with them was when we lived in West Africa and a wringer washing machine did its thing (or we did it together--every diaper rung through the wringer, into the rinse tub, and back through the ringer again!), and then they were hung out to dry. Very often they were rinsed once, twice, or even three times by rain showers before they were dry. They sure were stiff to fold, but bleached nicely by the sun (that is, on sunny days.) Seemed I did diapers almost every day.

They had to be folded. I suppose they could have been stuffed somewhere in a bag and pulled out when time for a diaper change, but they needed to get to diaper shape eventually, so the tidy Dutch--or is it German--in me got to folding them when they were dry. I did find that monotonous job a time to focus on and pray for my babies. When I mention this to young moms considering the pros and cons of cloth diapers today, they add this idea to the plus side. The environment likes cloth too ...

Outstanding photo was googled from somewhere
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