Monday, July 29, 2013

The Most Boring Post of the Day...That Will Bring in the Readers for Sure!

Thursday I was knee deep into cleaning out the pantry.  On Tuesday while cleaning out junk drawers Peggy called about lunch.  I kept waiting for a phone call to rescue me from the task of cleaning and rearranging on Thursday but it never came.  We didn't really do proper organization when we last cleaned out the pantry and we knew that the baskets full of drinks wouldn't get pushed to the back of the closet. Hah!  We were wrong.  If it was out of date water, who knew, I took it outside and watered plants.  I was being all green doing that and if some plants start doing really well I can thank Smart Water and Propel water for the growth spurt.  Because I had to do to go to the pain thing Thursday night I stopped before the work was completed and resumed Friday afternoon.  We still have a shelf to work on but it can wait. 

We worked on the organizational chart of the kitchen till the generator guy came.  Roy has been investigating having a natural gas generator added to our home so that when the electricity goes off, we can keep cool and have lights.  This thing will run the whole house, with limited maintenance and we won't have to run all around town looking for gasoline to run the thing.  Generator guy was knowledgeable but very long winded.  If he hadn't left when he did I was getting ready to call our home phone and tell him the call was for him to get they guy to leave.  Roy is doing more research before we make a decision on this. 

This morning the door guy came and put a storm door on our back door.  The guy did a great job.  Our next job; to tackle moving the rug over a few inches in the family room.  It has been bugging me for months and today was the day for the move!  That lucky Roy....  Anyway, we got the rug moved and the furniture arranged a little differently and all is feeling right.  When it cools down later this evening I think we are going to trim the hedge out front.  In between all these fun chores I've read, napped and watched a bit of the Toddler & Tiaras marathon.  Oh with some WWII from the Military channel.  This is one of those Saturdays that we enjoy, where you get stuff done and off the to do list and get to relax all in the same day. 

I have been reading some fun and memorable stories on an alumni FB page.  Lots of stories on Bellaire football week and several stories of growing up.  Some of the people I remember and some not so much but all the stories are from the neighborhood.  Any reference to a particular place and I can picture it like it was yesterday. 

It is now Monday and the gripping tale of organization goes on.  The Thanksgiving/Christmas dishes are now located in one cabinet.  All paper goods are together so I don't buy more when we have people over.  I'm getting ready to tackle the china storage/I don't know where else to put this cabinet.  It's looking like I'm going to have to get onto the floor for this one.  Will keep phone handy in case I haven't fallen yet I can't get up.  I'm done for if I ever lose my upper body strength. 

We went to First yesterday to hear Afshin Zarafat.  He is always so good!  Neither one of us had any interest in going to Life Bible Study so we decided to go to Life Brunch/Breakfast study.  The none of us is Roy and me, Afshin had to stay and preach the 11:00 service.  He didn't know about brunch.  Peggy came along since Bill had to go to a work site and she needed a ride home.  We had a great breakfast and there was some Bible study going on because we discussed the gates of hell.  Two or more thing going....

When we got home I totally zonked out and took a 2 1/2 hour nap.  I was not even productive but did watch Duck Dynasty marathon and then the National Geographic special on the MOB.  Very interesting.  Since I had taken the long nap I stayed up late and watched Laverne and Shirley. 

This is the most boring post ever and maybe you can use it for sleep purposes.  These kinds of posts are mainly for me because at the end of the year I have the year's blog put into book form which makes a very nice journal of events. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

A LIttle Joint Pain Music, Please.

I know you are going to be so jealous when I tell you what I did last night.  I went to the joint pain management seminar at Houston's Methodist Hospital West.  We learned last night that the new branding of Methodist Hospitals in the Houston area is adding Houston before Methodist because there are eighty plus Methodist named hospitals in the United States.  The lady that did the introductions of the two doctors gave the details of the new look brand of Methodist Hospital.  By the looks of those around me, I was the only one enjoying the information and the story of arriving at this decision. 

Dag nab it, I'm here about pain.  No I am here about MY pain and I will talk to anyone and everyone who will listen.  And the free food...  Oh and to learn about pain management....was probably the story of 95% of the people in attendance. 

Before the seminar you could do the flexibility test.  I flunked but barely.  If you know me at all you know I do not get down onto the floor because bending the knees to get back up is well...embarrassing and difficult.  Trooper that I am, after the brief spiel by the tall and fit young woman, I got down on the floor to do the test.  Difficulty number one, please straighten your knees.  Uh, this is straight.  No straight and flat on the floor.  Sweetheart this is as good as it is going to get.  I did what she told me to do and I flunked by .6 of a point.  Hey I flunked higher than I thought I would.   The sporty girl watched in shock as I maneuvered myself into a position to get up, I am so tempted to write gracefully but that would be hyperbole.  When I finally stood up and dusted myself off I said to her this is what volleyball, softball and tennis will do to you.  Fun while young, hell when you are older.   Then I was sent to the physical therapy area and I was hoping that they were going to work out the kinks in me but I was handed a couple of fliers informing me how I can stretch.  That's when I did old lady thing number one; I asked a question so that I could tell her of my own situation.  I almost hit myself when the question slipped out.   I was instructed to help myself to some delicious snacks, little sandwiches, fruit and cookies, but I only helped myself to some Crystal Light Lemonade.  This so could have been taken for a church informative function because that's the menu we served religiously...ha ha...  I went inside the conference room and selected a chair on the back row.  Again, I could reference church seating.  Scored some pens, paper and a little ice like pad.  I need more than a 6 inch pad, I need about seventy of those to stitch together.  The second time I went old lady was, dropping my pen and while attempting to pick it up my arm got stuck between the chairs.  After some wiggling around I was finally able to rescue my dignity and gain release for my arm. 

For the longest time I was the youngest participant there.  Mainly older types, gone gray, complete with walkers.  Also at what point do you stop caring what you wear?  They looked like little old robotic people eating their snacks and when they were finished, they sat there with their mouths wide open looking off into space.  Kind of reminded me of the birds outside the window that open their beaks and puff up to look big and strong.  This was not the look these people were going for.  The doctors were very informative and I learned a lot.  I mainly went to get a glimpse of the doctors and their personalities so I can make an informed appointment.  At some point in the presentation Roy came to the seminar, not for pain management but for plans of going to dinner together afterwards.  Roy is a little squeamish when it comes to medical things, low gag reflex.  He could not watch the power point slides of before and after joint replacement or this is what frozen shoulder looks get the picture.  He spent most of the time looking to the side wall.  The first doctor had better graphic slides.  Too bad Roy wasn't there for those. 

All in all the presentation was good and I think I know which doctor I am going to call for an appointment.  They need to learn how to wrap up a seminar and only take so many questions or should I say so many questions that related to the person who was looking for a free diagnosis.   They don't know it but they could learn to shut it down from a meeting at church or from politicians.   Although I didn't want to because I thought it looked rude, we left and headed over to Tony's for some Tex Mex. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Can You Judge a Book By Its Cover? Part 2

A phone call from a friend with a lunch invitation when you are knee deep in cleaning out kitchen junk drawers is always welcomed.  I am even embarrassed to write plural on junk drawers.  A kitchen should really only have one, we have or rather had two and a half.  One drawer did keep hot pads and trivets in it along with to go menus, Chapstick, Christmas light replacement bulbs and a sack of nails.  Oh there is other stuff but I think you are getting the picture with this brief listing of items.  Being the faithful friend that I am, I accepted the lunch invitation with my two friends.  We met at Zoe's,  I am loving the egg salad sandwich there.  I can't help but think every time I order an egg salad sandwich, I think of Todd, Lisa and Mrs. Loopner from SNL long, long ago.  ***And this is where I stopped to watch clips of Todd and Lisa.  This doesn't surprise anyone that I never got back to the blog post****

After watching a little bit of old SNL clips, I started reading while waiting for Roy to get home.  I stopped in at Home Goods after lunch yesterday.  New idea of organizing the pantry and they have about the best on prices for storage type items.  I also found a floor lamp that I loved but wanted Roy's opinion.  I was taking a chance not buying it right then and there but knew if it was meant to be, it would still be there later in the evening.  Stopped in at Sprouts to pick up dinner and a few other things and then returned home to finish up the drawers but not before starting a blog post and then picking up a new book and thumbing through it. 

Earlier this year I bought a book at our church's bookstore, The Road Trip by Mark Sayers.  An interesting read but I stop and start it, not sitting and reading chapter after chapter.  Guess that is because it is a road trip book, and road trips have a lot of stops and starts.   Several chapters are devoted to how the car and the resulting car culture changed from fifty years ago changed the landscape of viewing life from a more home concentric view to the constant open road of opportunity.  Until reading the book it never dawned on me that sixty or so years ago no one would have given the thought any time to go to a church outside of the neighborhood.  When Robert Schuller  started the drive in church and had many guest speakers come, he saw the numbers went through the roof when Norman Vincent Peale spoke.  This was a culture changer that has influenced us even in this age.  Being driven by numbers and a positive, feel good message.  The author asks the question can a line be drawn from the car culture to the always connected culture of today and he believes yes, a line can be drawn and linked. 

The cultural changes can also be linked to, "Can You Judge a Book By Its Cover?" post I wrote several days ago.  Until I read Andy Stanley's book Deep and Wide I didn't quite understand the why and what for multiple church campuses.  He gave compelling and truthful reasons for expanding.  Even when objections are raised for multiple campuses we are assured by the local church we attend that our church isn't doing this like everyone else' and unfortunately the response is, yes, you are.  A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with a friend and she shared her church's vision for multiple campuses and it is very different and outside of the formula than what we are seeing now.  I'm excited to see how this will happen and if their way becomes the formula in the future. 

I also read about a women's ministry in another state that is doing less events and more hands on ministry.  The story behind the change is, the women's minister realized she wasn't helping younger women by having table top events and the like exclusively.  She chose several of the older women in the church she respected and admired, not necessarily her friends and not the usual ubiquitous types.  Together, they prayed and studied and asked the Lord how to make this shift from the long time formula of women's ministry.  It is a work in progress but I look forward to seeing how this will happen.  It takes some time to get everyone accepting of change.  The other night the brilliant thought came to me that women's ministry should be not one big umbrella type organization but there should be a separate division for mothers, singles, and women involved in the business world.  I don't fit into any of those groups, so I wouldn't have to be involved.  :)

Formulas are not bad in themselves.  Look at Nicholas Spark and John Grisham.  They have made millions writing in the formula that works for them.  We the readers, love their style and come back again and again, but when we want to branch out there are other well versed authors out there whose narrative is very different and thought provoking.  Starbucks has a formula but local coffee shops have found an eclectic vibe that can pull us away from the predictable flavors into an experience.  That is how Starbucks began, personalize service and wanting Starbucks to be your third place after home and work.  It was an experience and can still be but many have decided they want something more than the predictable. 

And this is where I find myself, tired of the predictable.  Looking for something more than formula.  That means I have to look deep inside myself and see how I have fallen into the formula in my own life.  Do I use the same devo?  Am I having a quiet time in the same place at the same time?  Am I really having a quiet time?  And really, am I mixing it up a little.  Mark Batterson says change of place + change of pace= change of perspective.  Am I using God given gifts for His purposes?  Do I think the direction I'm leaning toward is too small and unimportant or do I believe that it is important work? 

Looks like I will be writing a part 3 to this post and the book cover post. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Can You Judge a Book by Its Cover?

Several years ago I watched a program on C-Span.  Impressed?  Don't be because it may have been the only program I've ever watched on that channel.  The subject matter was books, so now you see why it interested me so.  More specifically it was about choosing book covers.  It was a behind the scenes look at meetings and discussions of choosing book covers that grab attention and draw readers and non readers in.  The discussion lively as each person presented their covers and explained the concept behind them.  Until that point in life being all intellectual and watching C-Span I never really ever thought that much about book covers and thought they didn't have anything to do with my choice of books.  That wasn't exactly true.  Years ago I would go into a bookstore, like Crown Bookstore which has gone the way of Border's but long before but after B. Dalton's, and would start in the fiction section alphabetically by authors at A.  I would diligently continue my title reading to authors whose names started with Z.  It was a time consuming process but back then bookstores were just selling books, the experience of a book was for your home or at a library.  This is where they wanted you to procure, pay and leave.  You sat on the floor while thumbing through and considering books.   There wasn't coffee or chairs or quiet nooks.  I was quite successful at acquiring interesting books, some very collectible now, and my choice overwhelmingly by default went to the Southern genre.  The book cover grabbed my attention and my practice back then was to read the first page, then around page 99 and then a page toward the end of the book to see if I found this author interesting and worthy of purchase. 

The New Yorker had an article on their blog site, The Decline and Fall of the Book Cover, posted by Tim Kreider.  Tim, yes I refer to him as if I knew him, is an essayist and published author.  He shares his frustration of working with the publisher, editors and professional designers of all things book covers because the author and designers do not always agree with the message from the cover.  His editor dispatched him on a mission to the bookstore to notice and review non fiction book covers and report his findings.  He researched and came to these conclusions.

The main principle of design- in books, appliances, cars, clothing and everything are
  • Your product must be bold and eye catching and conspicuously different from everyone else's but....
  • Not too much!
He goes on in his blog that book covers are beginning to look too similar to one another.  His estimate is at 65% alike.  Basically the covers break down into text on white background, a single object set against white background and the face of the author which means the writer is a celebrity or a media personality.  The author also notes that book covers for children, teens and young adults holds mystery, imagination, creativity in the design but books for adults are pedestrian at best without all the fun and intrigue. 

I guess like almost everything that is successful or comfortable it becomes a formula.  After a while the newness or trend morphs into comfortable and known reality.  I mean really, please, someone come up with something besides a PowerPoint presentation.   Let's morph from lap tops to iPads or something.  This has nothing to do with anything but the Lifeway guy that spoke at the SBC pastor conference , Lifeway used to be known as the Baptist Book Store, used an iPad for notes while speaking and it is ironic that he places a huge emphasis on technology but Sunday School quarterlies are still being produced and the content is severely lacking.  My whole life the Sunday School quarterly has been less than stellar and even as a child I believed they gave the job of writing them to people who weren't good at anything else so why not write a quarterly because ever so few, even back in the day, read them.   

With e books becoming more often the reading of books choice, book covers may go the way of pay phones, newspapers, and all other communication venues that have fallen out of favor and into oblivion. 

I can't help but think about growing spiritually and has it become formula fed and formed by church?  Have I personally found the formula that makes it easy to walk this walk, easy because I have reduced living life in the power of Christ into compartmentalization of ideas taken here and there from Christian resources that makes us look good but utterly shallow.  I think I will answer or attempt to answer these questions in part 2.  And part 2 may not be the next post I write or it just might be. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Mixing of Cardinals and Rebels

This weekend I have felt like a teenager again.  OK, a teenager with bad knees and a heart monitor.  But you know what is keeping me feeling young and teenager like?  Well, it's the fact that this past week my face has been visited by a few strategically placed breakouts.  Really?  Pimples?  It's just like out of a TV show or movie, big event coming up, major breakout.  The event?  High school reunion.  Yes, Bellaire and Westbury, arch rivals in the long ago, had a joint reunion (no not that kind but maybe who knows) maybe that should be written a combined reunion of Classes 1969-1973.  Saturday night several hundred Westbury Rebels and Bellaire Cardinals got together at a small venue Blanco's.  Beth, Mimi and I decided we would arrive early so we could get a table with enough seating for all of us because we had several others that would be joining us.  We ended up going outside after a bit because we couldn't hear each other because of the band.  By the way, the band was really good. 

I think all of us that saw Beth a couple of weeks ago were so surprised that she came back for the reunion.  I would have bet money she wasn't returning.  Good thing I didn't bet.  She came over on Friday afternoon and we headed out to Brenham to see Mimi.  We left the rain in Katy and had great weather for the drive.  Mimi was outside her home to greet us and thus we were off to a great evening.  We sat and talked for a while and then we decided we better go eat.  What a treat was ours at Nathan's BBQ. 


We laughed until we thought we might wet our pants and here we were mature ladies, uh well older ladies, acting like we did when we were in high school.  The time got away from us and Beth and I didn't leave Brenham until 11:30 pm.  It was 2:00 am when I went to bed.  Roy stayed up waiting for me to get home.  His reasoning is; he is not known for making sense or good decisions when he is awakened in the middle of the night.  So in case we had a flat or an emergency, he stayed up.  Good thing he bargained with Dish and we added back the channels we cut out several months ago for a better price.  So glad he did because he had MacGyver to keep him company.  Instance two of a teenage weekend, staying out really late past my curfew, ok I just threw that in I don't have a curfew, and then sleeping in on Saturday.  Instance three, I did nothing constructive all day.  I read, then crammed for a test...again I jest, checked and texted on social media and tried to forget that my face had breakouts.  Then I whined life is not fair, slammed a door and pouted.  No, just tried to forget about the breakouts, I didn't do any of the other. 

So I am back to the reunion, which was quite a lot of fun!  There were a lot more people there than they had expected. Westbury had blue nametags and wrist straps and Bellaire had red.  Really, all of us, friends who have kept up with each other, looked so young and everyone else was like so old.  The 70's lifestyle was not good on a lot of people.  Roy said the place ran out of beer, not that we helped with that, but the food truck you could buy tacos and such from was really good. 

Such a fun evening with long time friends.  We saw others and visited with them as well but we always would come back to this spot and start conversations again. 

 Mimi, Marty, Beth and I hung out together a lot in high school.  We were trying to figure out last night how we met.  Marty and I met Mimi through Beth.  Beth and Mimi can't remember how they met but I'm so glad they did.   I knew Beth from 6th grade and I remembered Marty from junior high school history class.  She was giving an oral report on Amelia Earhart and dropped all her note cards into the trash can.  She recovered and gave a good report.  Well, I think she did.  No, she did. 
 Beth and Marty have had and still do, a huge influence on me.  Beth reached out to me when I was a junior and invited me to a Youth Group party at her church.  I saw something that night and I realized I hadn't a clue about being a Christian and even though I was raised in church and had made a decision when I was 6, I knew it wasn't valid.  Beth and Marty took me under their wings and along the way we became such good friends.  Loved the serious and loved all the laughs.  If you are a friend with me now and like how I do life, you can thank these two.  I have such gratitude and love for them.  I looked at these pictures last night and thought about where my life would be now if these two hadn't been a part of my life.  I don't even want to think about it. 
 And then comes Roy, the love of my life!  I mean really, he went with me to a high school reunion and didn't even complain.  He is the best!  I am more in love with him today than the day we married.  I would also like to point out I am his hot wife, I was burning up when this picture was taken.  The breeze had gone away. 
 Roy and me with Bobby and Marty.  Bobby and I had a great time talking last night.  He and I both share heart journey stories only his situation was more serious and I t looked like to human perspective, he was not likely not to recover from.  We both know too well the maintaining the energy thing.  We talked about our friendship and we marveled at the grace of God in our lives. 
I am the most fortunate of people to love and be loved by these friends.  I am blessed to have known all these friends, for a long time.  Yet we stay eternally so young.

  Which leads me to the last of my teenage feeling weekend.  We overslept and missed church.  I even slept in longer than I did on Saturday.  Love it when aches and pains don't wake you up and when the heart monitor doesn't go off in the night.  For just a bit I felt 17 again.  But, I am thankful I'm not 17 anymore and that life turned out better than I could have ever asked for because at the age of 17, I just wasn't too sure. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Story of Life's Remembrances by Another Brought Me to This Place

Funny how someone else's story of growing up in the country or in a rural setting conjures up wonderful love filled memories of spending the summers with my grandmother.  I think I started going when I was 6 or 7.  Back then and before me, back then, she lived in the country.  There had been an apple orchard on the back part of her property.  I never had been allowed to go back there in all the underbrush and old apple trees.  I wanted to but really I wanted to have someone along with me for that adventure.  Close to the apple orchard were several plum trees.  Grandma and I would go back and pick the ripe plums and put them in the lap of her apron.  Sometimes we would sit down on the rickety back porch steps and eat them.  Sometimes we brought them in and made an abbreviated  form of jelly.  Her side yard was huge.  She had some flowerbeds with a mirrored glass globe on the pedestal.  I loved looking into that globe and see the distorted colors and trees and the distorted reflection of me.  I truly believed the distorted image was who I really was.  In front of the flowerbeds she had those old timey metal lawn chairs.  Sometimes in the evenings we would sit there, taking in the beauty and always making mention of the cars that went by too fast for a two lane road.  She would always say, oh it is shift change and either everyone is in a hurry to get home or they are late to work.   The trees in her side yard were huge, some of them were apple trees.  Sometimes in the afternoons I would take one of her quilts and lay it out in the shade.  I'd have a sandwich and maybe some lemonade to accompany me while I laid on the quilt reading and many times writing in a beat up composition notebook.  I dreamed and day dreamed.  Back home I would have never done this.  I'd say the crowd that I ran with wasn't this sophisticated but I didn't run with a crowd.  Reading on a blanket didn't transfer into life at home.  I was deathly afraid of the boys who lived next door and I had every right and reason to fear them.

 More often than not, most of the time we sat on her front porch.  My uncles, her sons, had screened it in for her.  I can barely remember what it looked like when my grandfather was alive.  He would sit on the steps of the porch and I would bring him a leaf from the yard.  I must have been only three or so.  In my memory he looks like General Eisenhower but I think that is only because of his bald head.  I am not too far off in that description of him, but when I see pictures, he is clearly much older looking than the pictures in text books of the General and then President. 
Grandma and I would sit on the glider.  I don't remember if we talked or if we just enjoyed watching the world go by and we didn't have to be a part of it.  She never learned to drive and was dependent on others to take her to the Kroger.  The butcher at Kroger had grown up with my mother and some said he had been sweet on my mom.  I would look at him and wonder what life would be like with him being my father. I liked his name, Corky.  Usually if it was a week night for a shopping trip my Uncle Robert took us but if it was a weekend Uncle Charles and Aunt Mary would take us and then we stopped at the Dairy Queen. 
Off the dinning room was an alcove of windows and below the windows were bookshelves crammed full of Reader Digest books and stacks of magazines.  Grandma had two rocking chairs.  One was an old wooden rocker with no arms.  The stain and shine were nearly worn off and one of the back staves was missing.  The rocking chair by the bookshelves was really an outdoor type rocker made of aluminum and cedar wood.  I loved sitting in that rocking chair gazing across the side yard, across the field filled with wildflowers over to Ruthie Blackburn's house.  I would line up those Reader Digest books in the order I wanted to read them.  I remember being introduced to the stories of Pearl S Buck and the condensed version of Mr.Hobbs Takes a Vacation.  Truthfully, sometimes it was difficult for me to find stories that were halfway interesting to me.  I brought books with me and Grandma always let me buy some comic books when we went to the store.  That was a treat for me but looking back now I see what a sacrifice it was for her to buy me those comics on her limited budget. 
Ruthie lived to the right of my grandmother and I wish I could remember the people that lived on the left.  I think their last name started with a B.  I was halfway scared of them because I had heard my parents and Grandma talk about them because the Mr. drank.  He went to the Tavern and also had beer in his house.  At night I would lie in the dark bedroom and peep through the blinds and watch the inhabitants of that house.  I wanted to be prepared in case anything wild happened because liquor was not found in our house and my knowledge of drinking came from TV shows and movies.   Nothing in all those summers did anything happen.  Through the window I could see them drinking beer and watching TV.  If anything they were just noisy, maybe because they were loud or maybe because all the windows were open for the evening summer breeze. Sometimes the Mr. didn't go to work the next day.  It was always quiet around their house on those days. 
My grandmother let me explore every nook and cranny of her house.  Between the two bedrooms ran a long closet.  My grandmother's dresses hung to the front of the closet and the rest of the closet was long and dark with no light.  There were boxes stacked along each side of the wall.  One afternoon as I was exploring the dark closet I came across a box that advertised the benefits of health that were contained inside under the lid.  There in the box was some kind of water bottle or material that retained heat.  It was squishy and it was red and I ran out of the closet crying because I thought I had found my grandfather's heart in that box.  Grandma assured me it was not his heart.  I think I mainly kept to the findings and exploration of her back porch from then on.  There were all kinds of interesting tools and do dads out there.  I rescued an old wooden medicine cabinet off that porch and it hangs in our home today. 
Very rarely did I ever go into the basement.  The stairs didn't seem that sure and a dark basement contained secrets, or so I thought, that needed to remain in the dank dark.  The noisy furnace was down there.  The only reason my grandmother went down there was due to the washing machine was there.  As she grew older and the steps became more difficult, some one finally thought to bring the washing machine onto the back porch.  I wouldn't go into the basement but I would help my grandmother hang up the wash on the clothes line in back of the house.  I had to be careful back there because an old well only covered by wood and some kind of composite material was a little unsafe.  Naturally, I was mesmerized by this well but kept my distance only because I thought the well might just drop into the basement and I have already shared how afraid I was of the basement. 
I think I stopped spending summers in Illinois sometime in junior high school.  By then my grandmother had sold off some of her back acreage to a church who planned to locate out that way.  A subdivision had been built where there had only been farm land.  My cousins loaned me a bike and I would ride through the subdivision to look at the cleared land where the apple orchard used to be. I rode on all the back roads but knew enough to stay off the road in front of the house with the shift workers returning home or going to work.  Even as a child I worried every summer what would I do if Grandma died when I was there.  She seemed ancient but I have a feeling she was maybe just a little older than I am right now.   Those summers were such a gift and I think I had some inkling how much those summers meant and how they would shape me. 
When we began to furnish our home so many of my decisions were based on the feeling of warmth and cozy of my grandmother's home.  She did not have arts and craftsman style just a few odds and ends of an old couch and an even older horsehair chair.  The one beautiful piece of furniture she had was a secretary.  The top filled with theology books and commentaries that had belonged to my great grandfather. Some of those books had been bought "on time" and the record of payment was scratched in pencil with paid in full in ink.  The desk had cubbyholes full of interesting papers and pens.  My grandfather's five year diaries were there too.  I would read them looking for any mention of my mother or of me.  He copied poems and cut out interesting things from the newspaper.  He loved a good quote.  Maybe this is where my love of journals, pens and quotes came from.  I know my grandmother's collection of condensed books help cultivate my love of reading and reading while surrounded by books. 
When this evening began I no more thought I would sit down and write these words.  Funny what reading a short story of a long ago can do and cause the same rippling effect in others. 

Adventures With a Monitor...Not a Hall Monitor

The rain went away too soon.  I think the plants and grass in the yard could have taken a little more but I am thankful for the rain we received.  Some of the brown patches in the yard are disappearing back into the lush green of growing grass.  Across the way the large brown areas along the water feature have greened up nicely.  Ah, life on the prairie....

Yesterday was my every other Wednesday to be out of the house.  I scheduled my appointment with Cheryl to take care of some of that time.  Stopped in at Barnes and Noble just to check out a few books that I've read reviews about online.  Headed back to the prairie and realized I had not eaten lunch and I was feeling a bit light-headed.  So I went back to Zoe's for an egg salad sandwich.  Then I went over to Home Goods.  Really, 9 times out of 10, I should just get a basket because I almost always have to return to the front of the store and retrieve one.  I walked around the store looking at stuff.  I have some really cute cards that Dena brought back from Scotland and decided to frame them.  Almost all of the frames were not equipped for wall hanging.  There among the frames were shadow boxes with cloth pads and stick pins.  I got the brilliant idea of pinning the cards in the shadow box for a cute presentation.  Of course the next thing to do, go back to the front of the store, get a basket, and go get those shadow boxes.  Right next to the shadow boxes were display stands, how convenient!  Only one fit the box.  I'll have to keep my eyes open for another stand since I bought two boxes.  Another aisle at Home Goods that I usually make a trip down is the lotion and soap one.  I love those huge bars of fragrant soaps.  And I did my usual rescue duty of bringing home journals to a good home.  I will never use all these journals but I hope that all the journals will be used one day.  Once I left Home Goods, it was a quick drive through for a Diet Cherry Diet Coke and then a quick drive by Dena's to check on progress.  Work is being done on the park space across the street from her.  Drove by our home and Chris was still there, so I fueled up Sequisha and made a CVS stop.  I made the decision to go on home and go inside whether Chris was here or not.  Surprise!  She was gone but Roy was home. 

It was also adventure with a heart monitor yesterday.  Every once in a while a different screen pops up on the Blackberry, other than the beating heart and diagram that reminds you where the electrodes go.  Little did I know that it had been this way all night.  Hey, there weren't any phone calls asking if I was dead since they weren't getting any readings.  So I called yesterday morning to see about getting this monitor to...are you ready?  Give me a beat...Janet Jackson.  Anyway, so the outsourced guy from a foreign land is trying to tell me what to do and I am struggling because I am having a dickens of a time understand him and I am having a dickens of a time trying to accomplish these simple requests.  He then tells me always call...never attempt trying to solve the screen issue on my own.  Last night, screen does it again and I follow directions.  Again, outsourced guy tells me completely different stuff but some of the same instructions.  He told me that even when I don't think there is any readings being transmitted, they are.  If they are not getting my readings they will call me.  Ok then...  Also, the monitor part is not the most durable thing.  The back of the battery box keeps coming open and horrors, yesterday in the bathroom at the office building where Cheryl is, the back of the battery comes off and goes one inch over the bathroom stall wall line...with someone in the other stall.  I quickly grab it, wash my hands and then try to replace it back into its original position.  That means pulling up my shirt and exposing all those wires across me.  If unknown person in the other stall is looking, is she freaking out that this heart monitor is something more sinister?  All I know is  I get the heck out of Dodge and quickly make it to the safe confines of Cheryl's waiting room.  Typical, that a person covered in electrodes and wires would be going to a therapist's office.  Oh adventure....

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Full Circle, Full Life

Rancho De Five got a few showers this afternoon.  I can hear thunder so I haven't gone out to get the garbage can yet.  The rain came at a great time because the lawn care man was here yesterday putting out fertilizer and stuff for cinch bugs.  Little did I know this time two or three years ago I would even be concerned with such things. 

It seems like life is coming around full circle and it feels like this season is about to wrap up and change is on the way.  Final steps with the monitor for my heart and so far all the reports have been good.  If I can just keep up with remembering to wear it, no I wear the monitor it is the Blackberry that transmits the data that I cannot keep up with.  Also with four electrode wires all over the place, it is easy to button the wires in the buttons on shorts, capris and pants.  Think I am coming down with a bad case of the whiplash due to the shortened wires. 

Tomorrow will probably be my last appointment with my therapist.  Not because I am normal now, ok that just made me laugh, but because she is retiring to the country with her husband.  She will now help the cows and the chickens feel good about themselves and deal with changes.  Depending on tomorrow's conversation, I might try to fit another session in before she shuts down everything in August.  Cheryl saved my life, at least my emotional life and I am eternally grateful for her good work.  Many a time I have quoted her and then say I paid thousands of dollars for this and I am giving it to you for free.  Of course you get what you pay for but I can't help but think that someone has been helped and restored with the wise words of Cheryl.  It is not unusual to be with a group in Bible study or just a group of friends and someone will say something that seems very Cheryl like and it never fails we all huddle up afterwards and say, do you see Cheryl?  Of course if we mentioned our discovery of fellow clients or patients or whatever we are called to Cheryl she can neither confirm or deny our existence.  Through the years Cheryl has helped me make some very wise decisions and when I sputtered, stopped and started again, her encouragement was the fuel I needed.  She helped me see my unrealistic expectations and so thankful that she got me to make less visits to my fearless zone.  Oh my, there is a lot that can go wrong there in the fearless zone, not to mention all the energy that it took.  I learned from Cheryl that emotions take energy and being so limited with energy due to my heart, did I want to give limited energy to being fearless and I might mention being  dumb, but she used a professional counseling term not dumb. There were those times when I lived for that encouraging hug when leaving her office.  Yes!  I could make it another week.  The past few years I have just needed a few 5000 mile check ups thanks to her good work and foundation from several years ago.  Just last month  a couple of incidents that would have put me over the edge a few years ago became just another episode in the long line of episodes.  The drama was just that, drama that didn't hold any meaning and wasn't going to affect the day to day good life we have.  Even as I began this heart journey, her counsel kept my eyes on recovery and not getting bogged down in the unknown and the uncertain.  Cheryl helped me go through the grief process of my mother's passing, the delay of her service of several weeks, hosting the family dinner afterwards in our home without any church or outside help, and facing the rigors and unrealistic expectations that would be directed toward me by a family member.  I was not caught by surprise when everything began to happen and unravel. Whatever emotions and feelings I had were wiped out with a series of incidents that once again dashed hope but validated the knowledge and erased any sense of believing we are loved when there is a lifetime of evidence to the contrary.  She gave me the tools to make one of the most courageous decisions that I have ever made in my life and I have not looked back.  Thank you seems like it isn't enough but I am so very thankful for Cheryl. 

This week my friend Beth is coming back to town for what looks to be a rather haphazardly planned high school reunion but hey, our class didn't even have a 40th reunion, so I am not complaining.  Beth and I are going to drive out and see Mimi Friday evening.  Then Saturday night is the reunion.  Can I tell you that Roy is just so excited to go. 

We are excited about the season of friends moving out here to Rancho De Five.  When we moved out here two years ago we knew Peggy and Bill and I knew a handful of people from CBS.  Oh and smattering of other friends from church, but you know what I mean.  With David and Emily getting Cincotized and with Dena moving out to the Rancho in about a month...we are blessed. 

The season of too few restaurants to choose from out here is coming to a close as well.  Several really great places will be out here, maybe even by the beginning of 2014.  The Grand Parkway to 290 will be open...

Full circle, full life...

Monday Randomness

Just some randomness on a Monday.

I really should be doing other things besides blogging this afternoon.  Oops, just got a call that I am not in range of my monitor, no not a crime related monitor, heart.  I have to charge it at least one hour during the day and I left it in the other room charging.  I'll be right back.  OK, I'm back and I'm wired. 

I started following a few anonymous parody accounts on Twitter.  Most of them have to do with church work and ministry.  They are funny and spot on when it comes to insights into working at a church.  I especially enjoy the ones that have to do with being an assistant to the pastor and other staff types.  A great use of humor to convey realistic encounters and adventures with the called and the congregational called.  So I found other humorous accounts to follow, senior adult types, church volunteer types, youth workers, youth pastors, pastor's wives, running church facility types and I guess you are getting the picture of all the 'types' out there.  I especially enjoy the humor of Back Row Baptist.  But I may have to stop following so many of these guys because it fuels my cynical side and I really have to battle cynicism daily.  I thought yesterday's sermon was really good, the second part of the series on what to do when you are overwhelmed based on Psalm 142.  One of the points our pastor made was God will take the misery you are experiencing and turn it into ministry.  So true, but I can't help but think of all the ministry that turns into misery and God has nothing to do with it.  I love this quote by Christine Caine, "The more free you are the more inclusive you become. When you are bound by fear, doubt and insecurity you default to exclusivity and control!"  That's a good word!  I'm thinking back to my early days working full time at the church and there was a staff member that I could never figure out what their job entailed, yet this person had the most storage space in the office suite and for what I had no clue.  They had trouble keeping an admin because this person ministered out of insecurity and if anything made them look bad in front of others and mainly this was due to their own incompetence, they would find some specious reason to fire the admin.  This person exerted a lot of wanting to control everything yet they sat at their desk all day long doing nothing.  One year this person told their admin she could not go to the staff Christmas lunch because of some 'deadline.'  Believe me, unless you are in the music and worship/preacher departments, most all other ministries are on a holiday schedule and most staff if they have vacation time from the year are out of the office.  Fortunately, a senior staff member stepped in and stopped this ridiculousness.  I just checked Twitter and there is some funny stuff being said, so I won't un-follow today.  Maybe I should change my thinking when I read these and avoid cynicism.  Just a side note this said staff person is long gone and has been for quite some time.

Tomorrow night summer Bible study wraps up.  The subject, Godly friendships led and facilitated by Becky Kiser.  She's done an awesome job with the format of the study and she makes sure we all have a lot of fun while we are at it.  I cannot help but think that in my life I have been given the privilege of having some of the best friends in the world.  There have been a few stinkers along the way but the good outnumber the not so good.  In the easier world of social media relationships one has to be very committed and determined to spend time, face time or at least phone time with your friends.  Don't limit yourself to friends that are like you.  There is a whole lot of joy and fun with hard work and patient understanding to having friends that are nothing like you.  Also, realizing that I have a few very good and close friends, the next tier is friends and the third tier is acquaintances.  I used to try to spend quality time with all levels all the time.  I was worn out trying to keep things evened out.  Jesus is our example, Peter, James and John-close friends, other disciples and some of the women who followed Him-good friends.  Not talking ministry here but His relationship with those the closest to Him. 

Here are some friendship quotes that I have read in the last month.  I think they speak for themselves without any other comment:

Friends who shame you, friends who harbor grudges against, friends who expect or demand certain performance from you, friends who are disappointed in you as a person, friends who won't forgive you, friends who don't/won't/can't give you freedom, friends who get angry with you and close off emotionally from you, and friends who expect/need certain things from you are saying, "I have placed you on a platform of performance expectations, and if you don't meet my expectations, I want nothing to do with you."
Leigh McLeroy
“A holy friend is one who challenges the sins we have grown to love, affirms the gifts we are afraid to claim, and helps us dream the dreams we could not otherwise dream.”
May you have--and BE--a holy friend.
The real treasure in life isn't things but relationships. Sadly, most people don't figure this out until retirement.
 Well, it's Tuesday so the randomness continues.  Maybe it should continue into a Tuesday type of thing.  Ok, it's decided.  Happy Tuesday everyone!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Soak, Sip, See and Sentimental

Saturday night.  Roy is out riding his trek since the temp is relatively comfortable from the brief rain that graced Rancho De Five.  We should really be working on another fun and exciting backyard project that we may or may not disagree on.  Oh, we agree the project needs to be done, we disagree in how it should be implemented.  We picked a non busy Friday afternoon to go to Lowe's and get the rest of the needed materials.  It is a tad awkward to have a discussion with almost every clerk in the store asking if we have found everything and did we need any help.  OK, when the woman clerk sided with me on what should be done, I was happy, happy, happy but when the last male clerk came up and asked us how we were doing, I regretfully said something kind of smart Aleck like and responded something like, we don't need help finding any product but we do need help on the work, style and completion of said product.  No one came up and asked us if we needed help from then on.  I apologized to Roy for making that remark to the guy.  So are you on the edge of your seat?  Do you want to know what major project we are discussing?  Get ready for the big let down, soaker hoses and soaker hose placement.  Yes, once again I make everyone jealous by the exciting life we lead.  So I relinquished my idea of how the placement of said hose should go and deferred to Roy's idea.  Yes once again the Baptist Faith and Message comes to the rescue, said me never ever.  Oh I submit but I am not going to credit a document for the decision, it's obedience to the Lord.  That and I was tired of the discussion.  My attention span was way too short for this one and I needed to rally the last bit of energy to focus on light bulbs.  Again, don't hate me because of this wild, exciting life we lead. 

Oh, Roy just got back from his ride and has gone outside to tackle the soaker hose project.  I know he will do a good job and I will have an ice cold Coke Zero for him when he comes inside. 

I really, really want to blog about the dentist in Iowa that fired his assistant because she was too cute but I think I will write about that another time.  So instead I will write about this heart monitor.  With the last one I wore in 2011, I began not wearing it at night because it is a sleep stealer but now the powers that be and I hope this data is not being followed by the government, and the high tech ability, they know when I am wearing and not wearing the monitor.  The cell phone that picks up all the data wirelessly and transfers it rats me out every time.  So alarms go off, loudly I might add and sometimes you get a phone call letting you know that they know you don't have the monitor on.  Uh, yea, so like I was taking a shower....  I may have to call them because the sticky pads are not treating my sensitive skin too kindly.  This monitor has a neck strap instead of a clip so you can see all the wires at times.  I have four electrodes on me.  Roy said he is so glad we are not flying anywhere any time soon but he has teased me that when we are out and about he just might have to yell, oh my goodness, there are wires coming out of that woman, she's wired!  And then he will hit the ground in the roll, duck and cover position that every baby boomer knows about and practiced the maneuver in elementary school.  Yes, my school desk with gum underneath it was going to save me from a nuclear bomb.  My biggest problem after surviving?  Getting the gum out of my hair. 

Today Peggy and I went to a Sip and See for our friend from CBS who had a little girl in June.  So much fun to see friends and even run into the Rachel who was the Spa Nordstrom manager back in the day about ten years ago when I was there probably, oh maybe weekly.  There were so many cute ideas and Pinterest gets all the credit and the glory.  I told Peggy we should have a non Pinterest styled party, but really that wouldn't be too big of a challenge for us. 

My friend Beth is coming back in town Thursday.  I am so excited!  She and I are going to drive over to Brenham on Friday to spend more time with our friend Mimi.  Ah, it is so good.  I have been giving thought to this and Mimi and I even touched on this in our conversation yesterday, there seems to be a completeness or a filling up with everyone getting back in touch after all these years.  Beth and I have always stayed connected but to see Mimi and Karolyn again...awesome!   There is something satisfying being with friends who knew you way back when and they validate the memories of not only having fun but being there with you in some very difficult moments and times.  And for that matter being with them in there moments.  Beth always teases me that I can remember so many things from back then and I finally figured it out.  It was one of the happiest times in my life and really, there hadn't been that many happy times before that.  I journaled and took it all in.   I even made a scrapbook that I would dig out for the occasion but alas it is in the storage locker, probably way, way back. 

I will leave you with this beautiful picture.  Over on a FB page of alumni of Albert Sidney Johnston Jr High, someone posted this picture from my senior year.   There I am wearing number 8.  It is our volleyball team picture and Beth is in the bottom left hand corner.  She was the team manager.  I think we had to climb the fence at Gooney Golf to have this picture taken.  Oh to be able to climb a fence...No, oh to be able to sit crossed legged like this again.  I can dream.....

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Once Again, Proceed

This arrived today, finally!  It is the heart monitor I have been waiting on.  To my surprise this one looks much different than the one I wore in 2011.  No wonder they are calling me tonight to help me with instructions and getting this thing going. I may need to review knowledge of any if anything I know of technology. Well, that's knowledge is not vast.  So for the next thirty days I will have all this attached to me.  It is exciting because to me this means I am nearing the end of this season of life and crossing over to the next season.  I am watching with great interest and prayer the journey Randy Travis is just starting.  Good old viral cardiomyopathy many times triggered by a respiratory illness.  That is how mine began.  

Cardiomyopathy "means a pathetic heart muscle.  "With good treatment, many people with cardiomyopathy may go on to have a normally functioning life. But this is serious and could be life-threatening.   If a person has a cardiomyopathy, I tell them to stop drinking alcohol completely, make sure they have a healthy diet, avoid taking any herbal supplements, avoid intense exercise and do more low to moderate exercise and get plenty of rest.  Many people will recover from this, but some never do, so they may need to be considered for a heart transplant.   Some of the signs and symptoms include shortness of breath or trouble breathing, especially with physical exertion; fatigue, and swelling in the ankles, feet, legs, abdomen and veins in the neck, the heart association says.
Other signs and symptoms may include dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting during physical activity, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), chest pain (especially after physical exertion or heavy meals) and heart murmurs. Heart murmurs are extra or unusual sounds during a heartbeat.
Treatments for cardiomyopathy include lifestyle changes, medicines, surgery, implanted devices to correct arrhythmias, and other nonsurgical procedures. The treatments can control symptoms, reduce complications and stop the disease from getting worse, the heart association says.

The above are quotes from an article about cardiomyopathy. 

Unlike Randy I did have a minor heart attack and the doctors also think I had a mild stroke because of my loss of coordination and balance and I did physical therapy to help regain everything.  Doing that helped tremendously but I still do not have my full range of balance back.  Uneven pavement or ground, mixed colors and shades of colors whack me out totally and sometimes for no reason at all, I begin to fall forward or to the right.  Just the old balance clock seeing if I am attentive.   This is a huge reason why I have not returned to the choir and the choir loft.  Not to mention all the different carpet styles and textures at church.  That alone sends me over the know the balance thing.  Since the ablation in March I have not experienced fatigue or as Daffy Duck says it, fat-it-gued and I have a lot more energy. 

And to celebrate the coming of the monitor I registered for a conference on joint inflammation and the options to keep me pain free at Methodist West Hospital in a few weeks.  Truly I am trying to live out my One Word for this year.  The word I chose is proceed.  Now, I am going to proceed to eat my sliced peach and continue reading my book. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Normal and Plot Twists

Did I mention in yesterdays post that July is the most expensive month, more than December?  Oh yes, I believe I did do a little ranting about that.  The flood insurance bill greeted me in today's mail.  Ah July, the hits just a keep on coming.  I really am not complaining, yes I know it sounds like it but I am so thankful we are able to take care of these July bills and will look forward to August when everything gets back to normal. 

Speaking of normal, I pulled this off my friend Sharon's FB page.  I LOVE this!

I was back out on the lunch circuit today.  I met my friend Margaret at Hollister Grill.  Why didn't those of you who are friends that live in the Spring Branch area tell me about this place?  Margaret and her daughters volunteer at the Faith Center on Wednesdays and this place is close by.  Oh my, it was good.  What I loved especially is the neighborhood feel to the place and since I spent a greater portion of last night watching old Bette Davis movies that took place in the late 40's, I really connected with the atmosphere.  The background music was a jazz combo.  It has cozy booths and tables.  I liked that several groups of older women came in for lunch and yes, my record of closing down the lunch crowd is back on.  Margaret and I were the last to leave when they closed at 2:30.  I went with the full on attention of eating a salad but the meatloaf was just too tempting to resist.  Margaret and I visited and caught up with each other's summer happenings.  She was in my core group last year, the best core group ever in my limited experience of being a core group leader.  Time went by too quickly but that is usually what happens when you are having fun.

Roy brought home dinner and after dinner we ran a few errands.  We also drove by Dena's house to check the progress.  Then we checked the progress of a street that will connect to 1463.  Yea, we are so cool.  Shall I go on and impress with Shell station, CVS and a return trip to Sprouts. 

Last night I watched two of my favorite Bette Davis movies, Now Voyager and Dead Ringer.  I remembered to DVR them too.  Now Voyager is best known for the light the two ciggies at one time and then hand the lit ciggie to the other person.  I've also DVRed Where the Boys Are.  Margaret and I were talking about black and white movies from the 40s and 50s.  There is so much depth both in what they are telling and by what they are not.  Movies didn't dumb themselves down like they do now.  Intellect was respected that at some point the theatre goer would catch onto the nuances.  It is fun to watch these old films several times to pick up the little inferences and plot twists. 

The plot twist of not staying up so late tonight is happening right now.  I can hardly keep my eyes open.  And no, I do not have Bette Davis eyes. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Whoa or Should That Be Woo Woo...All Aboard!

I met Emily for lunch at the BWC.  We had a late lunch to miss the humongous crowd around 11:30.  After lunch I went to Sprouts for a few things.  The music today was really, really good in the store.  I almost had to buy something else as I was leaving the store because one of my favorite songs was playing, Solid by Ashford and Simpson. 

This morning I almost caught up with the sneaky HOA guy snooping around out front.  I just happened to be outside cleaning the bird bath and feeding the birds and when I went out front to pick up the paper, the HOA guy hightailed it to his car as I was asking him to stop a minute.  I've seen this HOA guy before and wasn't concerned this was a weirdo out in the green space or a peeping Tom.  He has some quick moves.  Really, why do these HOA people shrink away from face to face contact?  Notice I did not say confrontations.

Finally, yes finally, I heard from my cardiologist, rather his office.  I have been trying to talk with the nurse in charge of scheduling procedures and monitors.  I have left a lot of messages but somehow I think the messages never get to the nurse because the receptionist that works there is not the brightest bulb in the bunch.  Oh by the way, what Randy Travis has, viral cardiomyopathy is what I had (have) and thankful I am much farther down the road in healing.  He is 54 and I was 54 when it hit me.  Now back to the boring story of mine.  Actually, they were calling because they didn't have our correct address and they wanted to send a bill.  I only found this out when I asked about the monitor.  This person I was talking to actually checked the files, ordered the monitor and scheduled my follow up appointment.  Glory be!!!  Today, I got the bill and holy mackerel, it contained appointments and services from 2011 till March of 2013.  Good grief.  I knew we hadn't received a bill in a long time from them, but I thought maybe it was all wrapped up with the others, hospital and those who performed different services.  Uh, it would be so much better to keep up with invoices than surprising, your heart patient, with a huge, HUGE, bill.  It doesn't help that this bill hits in July, the most expensive month of the year for us.  All our renewals for anything related to the house come due, as well as car insurance as well as other things that are paid once a year. Termite inspection and related fees are due. Re-upping Am Ex...due.   My, my.  Apparently they think I work for the railroad or something. Then today the heart monitor people called and clearly this representative was outsourced and calling from a foreign land.  I could barely understand him.  I may or may not have agreed that his company owned my first born.  Ha first borns around here. 

On top of all the regular stuff due both Roy's car and Sequisha need new tires.  So last Saturday Roy's car got its new shoes and on Friday Sequisha will be getting hers.  How much more hers will be than Roy's car?  Should I get a Kick Start account?  Or write fund raising letters? 

Good thing I am not all that interested in the Anniversary Sale early access for fashion reward members at Nordstrom beginning tomorrow.   It's a good thing I have been rather penurious this year in our personal spending.  December pales in comparison to July only no Christmas gifts.  The gift is living in Rancho De Five.  Of course the gift diminishes a bit when any vermin show their ugly selves around but it has been about three weeks that nothing has been lurking about around our fence and flowerbeds.  Well except for the HOA guy today. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Reading, Writing, Playing Games With Purpose

It has been a while since I have been up early enough to see the sunrise of Rancho De Five.  I was not disappointed by the pink hued sky this morning.  Since the sky has clouded up with the hint of rain in the air (rain please come) I am so happy to have been able to catch that brief moment of the sun peeking into the day. 

Getting up earlier on a Monday morning has a purpose.  So now begins the wait of the A/C man.  They have postponed our A/C tune-up two times.  We are supposed to be the first call of the day between 8:00-10:00.  We will see because we signed up for this extra level of service for calls and the like.  So far, I do not believe we are getting our moneys worth.  Oops, spoke too soon, he is here.  O me of little faith. 

Saturday night one of my all time favorite movies was on, The Bad Seed.  At first I watched it all those years ago because it was so campy.  The first time I watched it was in college.   Over the top acting because it was filmed as if it were a stage play.  And it was.  There really is a lot of insight and thought provoking issues and events in the film.  Have the DVR set for a couple of favorites on TCM this week, Where the Boys Are and Now Voyager...oh and Dead Ringer. 

This summer we are visiting other churches.  Our usual habit has been every other week visiting and then attending our home church on the other.  Yesterday we went to Bayou City Fellowship.  We have been there before but Curtis' series of unlearning and relearning prayer sounded like something we wanted to hear.  Loved the whole service worship songs and sermon.  We also got to see lots of long time friends that now attend BCF.  Being out of church early and closer to our home was a major score yesterday.  We went to Midway BBQ and picked up some brisket and headed home to eat lunch.  Then we changed out the filters because you know, the A/C guy is here today.  We also needed to change out a light bulb in our bathroom.  It was not an easy nor pleasant task.  Too bad we didn't have any of those 10 year light bulbs around. 

I met Dena at Bassett yesterday afternoon because Sandra, designer, had put together her choices of furniture and fabrics.  Lots of fun and Sandra did an outstanding job.  Everything looked so beautiful.  I tried to be helpful as Dena made her final decisions.  Then we went to Dena's house.  Oh my, it is looking so good!  The cabinets, back splash, and granite look gorgeous!  Love it all!  We stopped in the sales office so Dena could ask a couple of questions and then we headed over to Victor's for a delicious dinner. 

Read this interesting snippet of an article from NPR:

A study published in the scholarly journal Neurology [subscription only] says that, although there is no cure for dementia, "reading, writing, and playing games" can slow the disease's progress. The scientists, led by Robert S. Wilson, asked 294 patients about their reading habits over the course of about 6 years, and then tested their brains for dementia after their deaths. The study showed that mentally active patients — ones who read and wrote regularly — declined at a significantly slower rate than those who had an average amount of activity. (Related news from the Shots blog and Morning Edition: "Finding Simple Tests For Brain Disorders Turns Out To Be Complex.")

I am feeling less guilty, ok, I haven't felt guilty about reading so much, but at least now I am reading with a purpose and giving time to writing on my blog...purpose.  Those quick games I play from time to time...helpful...with purpose. 

Heading to a warmer spot in the house.  Guess that is a good sign that all is well with the A/C. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Reunion 1972 in 2013 Style

This has been an enjoyable week.  Got a lot of reading in, had a great lunch with my friend Beth, breakfast with Roy at Black Walnut and shopping, July 4th celebration on Bain Lake and last night.  Beth, Karolyn, Mimi and I met here in Rancho De Five at our home, then went to Dekker's for dinner and came back here and talked and laughed the rest of the night away. 

Mimi, Karolyn, Beth and me right before leaving for dinner
At dinner Beth was taking a million pictures so Mimi and I had a little bit of fun

Ah Beth, you've been such a good friend to me all these years.
Karolyn having a fun time posing for pictures.

We had a blast catching up, remembering, un-remembering and laughing.  We looked through our senior yearbook, The Citadel, at pictures of long ago crushes, boyfriends and all the strange and odd or at least people we thought were strange and odd. Karolyn and I sang the school song of Johnston Junior High and we were spot on with the words.  I think we could have kept this party going till 1:00 am but we're a little older now and called it an evening around 11:00.  Just a couple more weeks until the official reunion.   
This morning I was playing around and put this collage together.  Really, we haven't changed a bit.  OK, maybe just a little.  Roy was so kind to point out that my face finally caught up with my nose.  Thanks dear, I was 16 when that picture was taken and if I had known you then you would have thrown me into an emotional tail spin.  Now, I just give you the look and you gave a valiant try getting out of that hole you dug.  I got a nice complement from Roy about my hair out of this. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Happy Fourth But Even a Happier Fifth

Happy Fourth of July!  Independence Day!  Let Freedom Ring!  It is a wonderful holiday and when I was much younger I liked to celebrate the fact that my birthday was just one month away.  Roy and I started the day right by having the most important meal of the day, breakfast, at Black Walnut Cafe.  We headed over to Target and Home Goods afterwards and topped off the trip with Route 44 drinks from Sonic.  Shopping early on a holiday is the way to go.  Normally, I would have made the Target and Home Good run yesterday while Chris is here cleaning.  I was doing a much more fun thing, having lunch with my friend Beth.  Beth and I have known each other since the sixth grade.  We went to different junior highs but we met up again in high school.  I have written before of our fun, adventures and laughter.  As we've grown up over the years we still laugh, we still have fun but now we have great discussions and conversations.  Back before social media our letters to one another were long, filled with questions and our observations on the seasons of our life.  Beth has had a profound influence on my life.  I wish I could have been more like her in her approach to and free spirited life.  We met for lunch in the land of sugar at BJ's Brew House.  No brews but delicious salad and cobbler.  We closed the lunch crowd down which seems to have become a habit in lunching patterns of late.  She is here helping her parents unpack boxes in their new home.  Kind of sad knowing I have had my last visit to Beth's growing up house.  It was one of my favorite places to be.  We leaned on the bar and talked non stop to Beth's mom.  She laughed with and at us.  When Beth's parents traveled I would go over to their house and stay with her and I think her brother but I am fuzzy on those details.  I am thrilled that tomorrow night Beth, Mimi (Friend I had lunch with several weeks ago after 40 years) and Karolyn are coming to the house.  I haven't seen Karolyn in probably oh, let's see, forty years.  We just need Marty to join us and we might try to do face time with her.  We are going to go to dinner and then come back here.  I can hardly wait!  Tuesday I wasted my whole afternoon looking at FB sites of my junior and senior high schools.  Lots of fun pictures, lots of people I don't remember and the sad listings of those who have passed away. 

This picture brought back memories and probably the reason I am not very domestic minded.  The teacher on the left, Miss Watson hated me.  I can think of no reason why she felt this way.  No's coming back to me...never mind.  Anyway, there was some rule about putting on make up in the Home EC room and I got caught.  Miss Watson confiscated my silvery, glittery eyeliner and told me I could have it back at the end of the semester.  I responded, oh that's ok keep it.  I will just ask my mom to buy me more.  I promise, at the time, I was not trying to be a smart alec.  It was one of those times I said out loud what I was thinking only to realize, yes, I just said that OUT LOUD.  Miss Watson was not amused with me and sent me down to the Vice Principal's office, yep down to the office of the woman I called Mrs. Pickle Butt.  I am so glad I didn't say that out loud while being punished and my mother called to report in on my sassiness.  Thus, Miss Watson and I did not get off to the best start and later in the year in the sewing component, my mom made a B on the dress I was making.  I got the mumps, missed a week of school and Miss Watson gave me one night to complete my dress or get a F.  I forgot to bring home the arm hole facing and that's why my mother made a B instead of an A.  She cut the facing out of the extra fabric in the hem but in doing that we, like I really helped, made the hem be less than the three inches required.   My mother was a gifted seamstress.  Looking back I thought Miss Watson was so old but she was probably in her twenties by the look of the picture.  Thus, here is the picture of the teacher who caused me to loathe the kitchen and the sewing room.  I am happy to report that I stopped wearing the silver eyeliner after this incident.  I think I went onto some kind of shocking blue.  Miss Watson and I would really get along now because pretty much I put on make up in the morning and there is not much re-touching after that during the day.  There are those women who "fix their face" at the table after eating.  My mom told me that it is rude to do that and I guess Miss Watson took 'at the table' and made it into in the Home EC room. 

It is now the morning of the fifth.  The picture below is from Peggy's lake.  We went over there for a little bit late yesterday afternoon into evening.  Such fun seeing everyone.  We came on home and watered the plants in the front yard.  We only did that because the breeze was so nice and cool.  I had a headache almost all afternoon and it was continuing into the evening.   While we were out there I took a picture of the flag.  There is a guy in Rancho De Five that charges $50.00 a year for the six major kind of flag holidays.  He puts up and takes down the flag each time.  The little flag is from a Realtor.  Nice touch. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Kept Files and Other Abnormalities

I was named for my father's fifth grade girlfriend.  He also wanted to stick me with the middle name of Anastasia.  Thankfully, my mom talked him out of that idea.  When I was around 8 years old my grandmother told me that she and Grandpa had to leave the birth of my cousin Lois, who is forty six hours older than me, in Minnesota to come back to Illinois and pay the hospital bill for my parents.  She confided in me that the hospital didn't put me in diapers until the bill was paid.  I was mortified, although I don't think I knew what that meant at the age of eight, but I was more embarrassed than mortified when she first told me this.  To know that I was the only naked baby in nursery, oh my,  because I  knew that all the other parents had been able to afford, pay for and clothe their little babies.  As I grew older I kept this 'secret' to myself because I was embarrassed for my parents.  I didn't want them to know that I knew.  Even in the worst of times when my father and I were at war and battled everyday, I never blurted out, well, you couldn't even pay the hospital bill when I was born' and of course I would have left off the part about not being properly clothed and diapered.   Even though I liked to win arguments with him and I was not one who didn't use whatever means possible with words to win, in my heart of hearts it was too low of a blow to shout out this knowledge.  I didn't quite want to expose his lack of money at my birth, since money and the accumulation of it seemed to be the most important thing to him now.  It must have been in my late 40's that I finally said something to my parents about grandma's story of having to pay the hospital bill when I was born.  I could tell by the shock and surprise on my parent's faces that this story might not be true.  My father in particular was the most upset by this bit of newsy news.  He went to his home office and pulled out a binder that stored all my medical bills since, well since day one.  He took great care to show me the invoices and that he had paid the bill in full.  He had the cancelled check to prove his point.  What really had me worried was the fact he still had all my medical bills in a binder because it had been years and years since he had been responsible for their payment.  I couldn't fathom why at that moment but later as I thought about it, I knew it had come back to money.  Not see how much we loved you, we took care of all the bills.  It was our joy to take care of you.  No it was more like this is what you cost me. 

I am reading The Book of Peach by Penelope Stokes.  Great, easy summer read or so I thought.  I wasn't ready for this 'light' read causing me to contemplate.  The main character, Priscilla (Peach) is telling her story through journaling.  Not just journaling but doing so after a divorce and a move back home, to the south, to the old ways of her mother and Peach is trying to deal with all the emotions this encounter with her mother and town she couldn't wait to leave is having upon her. On a side note, most Southern stories are about place, leaving that place, finding yourself in NYC, LA, or Paris and then coming home because of a hole in your life or the life you found so fulfilling is now weighing you down or because you are down on your luck and home...your growing up home is the only place left to retreat into.  This quote grabbed me, not because I still want my father to love me or at least like me, because I don't.  That hope died a very long time ago.  Here is the quote from the book:

"...the principle of intermittent hope-how our psyches can be seduced by a fleeting moment of gratification into believing a miracle has occurred, that change has come to someone we desperately want to love us.  When the object of our longing reverts again to the old ways of cruelty or indifference, we cling to that shred of hope and make ourselves believe that we are loved, even with a lifetime of evidence to the contrary."

The principle of intermittent hope.  Who knew it had a name?  Who knew it was a principle?  I think there is a lot of us that have moved on from the intermittent hope stage and I also think there are more who find themselves smack dab in the middle of this phenomenon. 

In the midst of intermittent hope there might be some naming going on by the person who is cruel or indifferent.  Being named not after your father's fifth grade girlfriend but being labeled or named is a hard thing to process through.  If my fifty something self could tell my childhood through married young adult self is; don't listen, don't take it to heart, and don't give very much time considering if the names are true or not.     You might not yet know who you are but you for sure can know who you are not.  If you follow the Lord and are so inclined get out your Bible and read the Epistles.  That will point you in the right direction. 

That day that I revealed my secret knowledge of my birth, according to my grandmother, I also was shown just about every bill or invoice that had cost something, dental, doctor, surgery and the like.  It was organized so well.  A flipping through the files didn't take long to see what he was looking for.  Funny, when I turned 50 my father put together a binder of pictures of me.  First thing in the book, the hospital bill for my birth.  The rest of the contents pictures and such had no rhyme of reason to them.  High school was mixed in with childhood.  Class pictures and pictures from Illinois thrown together.  The years were not in order it was put together like, get this stuff out of my house.  It was the same old comparison of what was important, accumulating money or giving a heartfelt gift that one could treasure, only I wasn't the treasure.  Yep, sometimes silence and actions of the other give us a name.  We don't have to take that name.