Thursday, October 19, 2017

A WEEK OF GOOD THINGS

Some weeks are in the Super class. Some weeks are, let's face it, the pits. And some are just in-between/okay/nothing special.

In the week since our last visit, I've had several good things happen. Such as:

Last Saturday I drove to Ohio to make strawberry jam with my daughter. We had a delicious time! There was--amazingly!--a little left in the pan after we filled all the jars, so we sampled it with toast with our lunch. Homemade strawberry jam--to die for!

The Tree Man, Dan, came with his helpers and trimmed back several large limbs on one of my big maples. The operation removed some already pulpy limbs; others had overgrown their boundaries and were threatening cars parked nearby. The best news was that what's left (it's a very big tree, obviously old) is quite healthy and should withstand further storms.

An email notified me that some gluten-free cookies I'd ordered will be shipped tomorrow, a good two-to-three weeks early! [Note: They came yesterday! I sampled them this morning while I wrote in my journal. Gluten-free shortbread--excellent with coffee.]

Yesterday, my quilting buddy, Jane, and I took a road trip; we went to Shipshewana, in the middle of Amish country, for a look-around at Yoder's Department Store (definitely department store--lots of everything, including plenty of our favorite thing--fabric). I found exactly the colors of flannel I needed for more NICU blankets. Jane picked out great print fabrics for pillow cases that will go to Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis.
A Tiffany's special--Tues & Thurs

Our road trip included lunch at Tiffany's, a home-cooking, family style, mostly Amish restaurant in Topeka, Indiana. My grilled chicken salad (the chicken is grilled, not the lettuce, you understand) was so large, I didn't eat much supper last night. I won't say we go to Shipshewana (only a few miles from Topeka) in order to eat at Tiffany's, but the two go together like a horse and carriage.

Work on a healing quilt is nearly at an end. Only a few more finishing touches and I can deliver it to a church friend who had a cancerous kidney removed. After it goes to its new home, I'll post a photo of the quilt.

-----
I've now made some decisions about Christmas gifting in my family. This has been a frustrating subject for several weeks, mainly because no ideas rose up and demanded to be The One Best Gift for whoever. 

Another deciding factor--besides time slipping away rather quickly--is that I've been asked to sub on the organ for the Christmas Day service. I couldn't say yes quick enough--that's my all-time favorite service to play. Now I have a few weeks to go through Christmas music from years gone by and pick out the piecesI want to play during the service, in addition to the hymns and carols already chosen.



-----
Outside my window as I write this, the sun is making long shadows in my neighbor's yard; trees are dancing a little in the breeze. The temp made it into the upper 60s by late afternoon. Grass is still green, and, alas, so are the leaves. We haven't had enough cold weather or a hard enough frost to color the leaves (so I've been told) and the ones that are falling are either all brown or still green.

But the sky is that pure October blue I love. 

Life is still good.





Thursday, October 12, 2017

CHECKING IN...



 I'm a little late reporting my reading for the past three months, so here's the score:

JULY:
16 mysteries (all re-reads)
  1 non-fiction (a new quilting book)

AUGUST:
12 mysteries (again, re-reads)
  3 non-fiction (another new quilting book and two memoirs)

SEPTEMBER:
  6 mysteries (yes, re-reads)
  1 sci-fi
  1 non-fiction


Total for 3 months: 40

-----
The two memoirs are: 

What Comes Next and How to Like It, by Abigail Thomas
  Abigail Thomas would not be everybody's cup of tea, but I was entertained by her rapid-fire short pieces that chronicled a long friendship.

Leaving Church, by Barbara Brown Taylor
 Taylor is an Episcopal priest who left parish work for a different kind of ministry. I'm told that she later returns to parish ministry so I'm looking forward to the next volume. She's another one who doesn't pull any punches--her life is not always exemplary, and she doesn't gloss over any of it.

The non-fiction in September was The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown
 There's a lot of information about rowing, but if you can plow through it, you'll hit gold yourself when you practically sit in the boat during the Olympics. The story follows all nine boys in the boat from their early years to college, through their training, and on to the Olympics, then afterward. Lots of good photos. And if you know anything at all about history, you'll appreciate what they did in a difficult time. Olympics in 1936 Berlin? 

-----
Mysteries are from my own bookshelves: W. J. Burley (Supt. Wycliffe series); Agatha Christie (Miss Marple); L. A. Taylor (various stand-alones); Josephine Tey (also various titles); Jacqueline Winspear (Maisie Dobbs series).

-----
Here's an update on our local library, damaged by fire on July 2nd:

Restoration has begun. Restorers have estimated 95% of the furniture can be restored. Paintings also. Books will be treated in special rooms of ozone (there may be other treatment as well).

In the meantime, a temporary library location is now operating out of a retail store area recently vacated. All new purchases by the library (they are constantly purchasing new materials in all media) will be catalogued and then available at the temp library.

In addition, Evergreen Indiana--God bless them!--makes it possible for patrons to visit other nearby libraries who are also in the Evergreen program--to browse, check out, and then return either to the library where the material originated or--easy-peasy--to our own library system! What I miss most of all is browsing--actually picking up a book, reading the covers, the inside flaps, starting the first page (if the author doesn't catch me by page 3, I'm probably not going to be caught later on). Now--browsing is back!

Last I heard, estimates for restoration of the original facility extend to around 12 months. That's next summer. Something to look forward to!

-----
Autumn is slowly arriving in all its usual garb--not so colorful this year, at least not yet, so there's hope for a little while longer. We're hovering around the 50-degree mark, with frequent periods of rain--then whole days of sunshine and wind--then back to clouds and, eventually, rain. The last of the summer flowers are having a final fling, and the chrysanthemums are taking up the slack. In the meantime, the rain keeps the grass green.

Have a blessed week!

Last year's beauty


Thursday, October 5, 2017

HOME AGAIN . . .

Returning from vacation--arrived at the airport about 7 PM, was picked up by my driver, and 45 minutes later I was home. Luggage inside, door shut, shoes off . . . .

I was hungry--had good meals the day I left my daughter's house (and every day prior to that); she fixed a generous bag of cheddar cheese slices and apple chunks to go with my rice crackers so I wouldn't faint from hunger on the trip home. Didn't get to eat anything until after 4:30 while I waited for my connecting flight in Chicago. And then I could eat only half, not because of any time crunch, but because a few crackers, a couple slices of cheese, and half the apple chunks satisfied me. After all, I wasn't getting real exercise flying in planes. I don't count getting from one gate to another as exercise.

But walking through an airport can be tiring, especially when pulling or carrying luggage. And because I'd had breathing problems on the outward bound trip while schlepping my carry-on through the endless corridors of Chicago's O'Hare, I made up my mind to ride in one of the carts.



And what a ride it was!

Our driver was fairly young, Hispanic (I christened him Ricardo), and apparently his pick-up schedule was over-booked. He kept getting requests from his dispatcher to go to Gate __ to pick up one or more passengers. It would have been comical in a movie--we in the passenger seats of the cart, practically glued in, definitely not moving out of that cart. Looking at each other. Give up my seat? Absolutely not! What a suggestion!

Meanwhile, Ricardo is rapidly rising to greater heights of emotion--he's batting along at a great rate, calling out, "Excuse us! Excuse us!" to get walkers out of the  way. He runs down a dog, a whale, and a giraffe (all stuffed) and sideswipes pink kiddie luggage, sending it skidding to the far walls. I expect to hear him scream, "Incoming!" any moment. But I am disappointed.

Back to reality . . . . We start at Gate K with four people--go to Gate H to leave one and pick up two more--back to K to leave one we should have delivered previously--again to H for three more the dispatcher has conned Ricardo into (by this time we are at full capacity). My expectation is that we'll begin shedding our load at K, then H, then on to G (my gate, and that of two of my fellow riders). However, one of us is delivered somewhere else, so now we're down to two--both of us panting for G Gate. 

Then--not in the script--Ricardo is flagged down by a gaggle of women just off a plane and looking for baggage claim. (Little do they know they have a 3/4-mile hike ahead of them.) Ricardo explains he has passengers he has to get to their planes (still me and a woman headed for Springfield, MO). Finally he consents to take one woman who claims to be ill and about to pass out; and he explains, as we careen down the concourse ("Excuse us!") that he can take her only as far as an escalator down to baggage claim. Which he does. 

My seatmate and I are gallantly hanging on, not complaining (we are both seasoned women with enough sense to conserve our energy for travel--complaining might relieve our feelings and keep us from boiling over, but it wouldn't change the situation--except, most likely, to fan the flames).

So we sit quietly, talking from time to time. We share info: books we are reading--hers is sci-fi, mine historical mystery. Dogs--TSA K9 personnel walk ahead of us for a time, sans dogs); she tells me her little dog, never a cuddler, began jumping up on her and licking her neck under her chin; when she told her doctor (or was it the vet?) about it, she learned the dog was responding to changes/drops in her insulin levels, and thus saved her life.

We pass a Starbucks and she says, wistfully, "I could use a Starbucks right now." We both inhale deeply as Ricardo weaves through the crowd. She tells me she has lost 100 pounds over some period of time, maybe a year.

Our conversation is in snippets, small paragraphs, until we reach Gate G--I am first off, wish her safe travel, and check with the gate agent to see if I have time to go to the restroom. Learn that the plane is just arriving--I have loads of time. So I get to eat some of my crackers and cheese and apple slices.

And that's where you came in.

I still think it would make a good movie.




Thursday, September 28, 2017

WHAT DO YOU DO ON VACATION?


If you're a 40+ hour-per-week worker, your ideas may run toward:
- sleeping in till a decent hour
- taking little side trips in your state because you never get to do that until there's a break
- spending some time working on your house/cabin/boat/quilt/birdhouse
- eating whatever you like, whenever you like
- not cooking three square meals a day
- not shopping any more than absolutely necessary to keep body and soul together

If you're retired . . . well, that's a different kettle of fish. Do you even go on vacation?


Linden Hills Co-Op
Great mural on the outside wall

I did. I came to Minnesota to visit my youngest daughter. So far we have:
- been to the co-op for food
- been to Cub Foods for other food
- been to two used-book stores
- driven around three (or more--hard to keep track) lakes in the City of Minneapolis
- toured neighborhoods of old-money houses built when the cities were being founded (reminded us of The Great Gatsby era)
- bought and cooked pork roast, chicken (in various configurations), roasted vegetables
- spent an evening with my daughter's next-door neighbor, Jane, who provided wine, tea, coffee, and key lime pie, plus entertaining conversation; we took a platter of caprese to share (made with home-grown basil from a pot on the patio, served on little skewers)
- sat on the patio and talked; enjoyed a nice autumn day
Lake Calhoun
- read
- watched movies
- talked
- read some more, talked some more, watched more movies

That's my idea of vacation--don't need a new wardrobe, cruise liner tickets, itinerary made up by somebody else. . . .

-----
So  . . . how do you know you're on vacation?

Different sights, sounds, people, foods, scenery.
Different magazines and books in my daughter's digs.
No telephone ringing other than mine when my daughter calls me (we usually text, anyway).

Did you know you can survive without television? Microwave? Toaster oven? Socks you forgot to pack? (Of course you knew that . . . you've been on vacation, too.)

-----
Well, what's the point of vacation? A lot of the above can be experienced without leaving your comfortable rut.

Time away from a regular job may help you to reconnect with your self--your family--your interests that may have gone by the wayside. 

And if you're retired, you get a change of pace--new perspectives on people, life, yourself.

Thanks for joining me in Minneapolis!


At Sunnyside Gardens, across
the parking lot from the Co-Op



Thursday, September 21, 2017

WE'RE ON VACATION!

Whee! A week off! 

What'll you do with yourself? Sleep late? Go to the circus? Binge on movies and Ben & Jerry's?

If you don't have the week off, you can take a few minutes--the ones you'd normally use to read Thursday Child's latest post--and think yourself into your favorite vacation spot.

I'll be, in actuality, with my youngest daughter in Minneapolis-St. Paul, seeing the sights, riding the bus (no bus around here), taking a walk around the lakes within the city limits, stalking used-book shops . . . .

Next time I'll upload a few hundred of my photos for your enjoyment--if you can't come along, you can see what you missed! (That promise holds good only if I take the pics!)

Have a great week, look for the blessings, and we'll check in again next Thursday.




Autumn will arrive for sure while I'm away!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

LEAVING HOME

I'm not a news watcher, but I get plenty of information--'way too many videos--about disasters in the world. They come to me via The Weather Channel, which I consult daily for settling questions of wardrobe, heat or a/c in the house, and should I even venture out.

Last Saturday my long-time friend from college days called on her cell phone to say she and her two "kids" (Border collie mix dogs) were on their way from Tampa to Atlanta to stay with family. She had food, water, etc. for herself and the kids; what she needed was fuel for her vehicle.

While she drove, she told me about the oncoming traffic--squad upon squad of emergency vehicles, all kinds, heading into the disaster area, mainly the west coast of Florida, hard hit by Hurricane Irma.

-----
Her phone call brought it all home to me. These things don't happen in a vacuum. They don't happen to "other people" and so I can shrug them off, change the channel, and say how thankful I am that I live where I do, in northeastern Indiana, where we don't get hurricanes or tropical storms. (We do get tornadoes, though.)

The rector of our church has kept us apprised of the best ways to help disaster victims--through our own church's disaster relief program and other organizations, such as the Red Cross. And we pray each week for those families and homes and cities in the path of destruction.

-----

All of this causes me to think how I would approach leaving my home.

What would I take with me--not knowing how much space I'd have when I got to a shelter? (See photo at left.)

What would I leave behind--not knowing if I'd ever return, and if I did, would I find anything left of the life I'd had to abandon?

In past years, when tornado watches morphed into warnings, I grabbed a gallon of distilled water, a flashlight, sweatshirt, pillow and blanket, and climbed into the bathtub. My cell phone was always with me for updates. When the dog, Joy, lived with me, I took her food and water bowls into the bathroom, along with a few treats and some newspapers for her potty needs. Then I shut the door and we listened to the wind roar and buffet the house. (I still recall Joy's puzzled look--she had a lot of  facial expressions--as we spent an hour or so in this tiny room, me in the tub, she on the bathmat beside me.)

Sometimes I took my laptop with me, if I remembered.

-----
What would I take now, if I had to evacuate the entire house and go with people I don't know to a shelter some place?

First, obviously, myself. Medications I have to take regularly. Bottled water. Cell phone.

Beyond that, my laptop; a book to read (preferably one of those 500+ pagers I can escape into); clothes I like--hoodies, sweat pants, tee shirt, walking shoes with heavy socks. (I'd probably have to wear them, with no time to pack a bag.)

If I had sense enough to think of it, I'd take my cell phone charger and the hookup for the laptop. But if I'm in crisis mode, it'll be whatever I remember in the seconds I actually have to think about those things.

-----
When I was a teenager, I remember how much my clothes meant to me. Looking back at it, I think that was because I had very little in the way of possessions. My clothes were me. I had very few books at that time, very few LPs. The house wasn't mine, nor the furniture.

Now, I can walk away from all kinds of things, mainly because I've had a lifetime of accumulating books and music, clothes and fabrics and yarn, furniture and dishes and ornaments. And a house and car.

Yes, I'll miss some of them, if I have to leave them to their fate. But I had to go forward from a house fire, when I was 14, in which we lost virtually everything, and not grieve about what I no longer had. Grieving didn't  bring anything back. And every time I've moved from one house to another, it seems some things never turned up in the unpacking. (Maybe they went to where all the socks go when we end up with one black, one blue, and one gray.) I could do it again. If I had to.

-----
What it boils down to is this: All the things in our lives are just that--things. Stuff. We won't be able to take it with us when we die. We could leave it to our heirs--but do they really want it? 

I hope and pray you and I won't have to go through the disruption of our lives that occurs when disaster strikes. But if we do, then I wish us strength and courage to go forward from where we are. We can spare a thought to the memories we have, but turn aside from grief over things.

-----
P.S. - My friend in Florida is home again--no damage to her house! Thanks be!








Thursday, September 7, 2017

BLESSINGS

Today is September 7th. 

This is my anniversary . . . 22 years ago today I underwent surgery for cancer. For all of those 22 years I have been--and remain--cancer-free. That is the greatest blessing of all.

But it isn't the only blessing I have. Recent routine tests about my health--mostly heart concerns--revealed that slight adjustments to medications would assist my heart in its work. Who wouldn't want that? A slight tweak and I'm looking forward to renewed energy.

More energy--definitely a blessing!--means my walks at the Y can have more impact on my health--weight loss being one of the most desirable, making my doctors (and me) happy.

Over the Labor Day weekend my youngest daughter made her 10+-hour trip from Minnesota to be with me for the above routine tests. That was on the first day. Then she had two and a half more days to stay with me. Blessings? Absolutely! She loves to do "little stuff" around the house and yard. I didn't have much of a list this time--all the light bulbs were replaced at one of her earlier visits, and the smoke alarms aren't ready for their new batteries. But we found something to keep her occupied. That was in addition to cooking, eating, a little shopping (neither of us is a shop-till-we-drop gal), and lots of talking.

Another kind of blessing popped up when I began laying out fabrics to make a healing quilt for a friend who just discovered she has cancer. My daughter helped me arrange strips of fabric and we finally agreed that these were just right. This blessing isn't just about the right fabrics--it's about creating something beautiful, and healing, for a woman who already has enough life situations to deal with. It's about being a blessing.

-----

In 15 days we'll celebrate the First Day of Fall, according to my calendar (Labrador Retrievers on every page). Days are definitely getting shorter--as in, less daylight, more nighttime). Temps are running in the 60s for highs and 40s for lows--and this is only the first week of September. We'll have another period of warmth in the 70s or above, usually at the end of the month, about the time of the Free Fall Fair--either heat and humidity, or incessant rain; we try to appeal to all tastes in weather.

One of my blessings is cooler nights--a little heat in the house to take off the nip in the air, then both heat and a/c turned off during the day. My wardrobe runs to long-sleeved tees with jeans or long knit pants, light jacket or sweater or sweatshirt for the early morning visit to the Y (that parking lot attracts a lot of wind over a wide empty space). So far I've managed to shun heavy jackets and sweatshirts, and I've yet to don a pair of gloves. But that's coming.................

-----
If I were to count all my blessings, like the old-time hymn says, "name them one by one," I'd have no time left to recognize new ones. I'll be revisiting this topic again, never fear. Blessings abound.

-----
Blessings come in all sizes--gigantic to miniature. Blessings come in surprising ways, and from surprising directions. Blessings can be subtle, barely noticeable until afterward. Or they can be in-your-face, demanding to be noticed.

Look around. . . is there a blessing for you just around the corner?

Wishing you a blessing-filled week.