Thursday, August 27, 2015

A few years back I bought a fingertip towel at my favorite fabric and craft store. It’s dark brown, with gold- and copper-colored embroidery, with the message: “A Season of Thanks.”
Obviously I bought it in the fall, when all the autumn and Thanksgiving items were for sale. In my house, though, that towel stays in the stack for constant use. It’s always a season for thanks.
In November you will notice on Facebook people begin posting 30 Days of Gratitude. Today, at the end of August, I’m starting my list of Gratitudes. Here are a few:
My oldest daughter recently moved from the Phoenix area to Flagstaff, AZ—elevation 7000 feet. The move included herself, her two cats, and numerous bits and pieces (actually boxes and boxes) of belongings she would need while she teaches at Northern Arizona State. I am grateful for her safe arrival and for her securing a teaching position. Things seems to turn out right, just in time, for her.
My Ohio daughter is hosting a garage sale today and tomorrow; I am grateful for such an excellent venue for my downsizing project. I hauled a carload to her last week (we meet at her work site in the evening on her meal break), and tomorrow I’ll go to her home to help staff the sale. We'll have all day to visit--a bonus!
Most Sunday afternoons I visit by phone with my youngest daughter in Minnesota. We share our joys, concerns, and everything in between. Solving world problems? Piece o’cake. Like most young career folks, she is always involved in various projects. I’m grateful for this time of sharing, and we both look forward to our Sunday visit.
My son’s home now houses two families—himself and my daughter-in-law, and their son and his wife and two children. My grandson received a medical discharge from the army, so I am grateful my son and daughter-in-law provided a safe and secure place to live while their son and his family work out a new life journey.
A close friend recently underwent heart tests at IU Medical Center in Indianapolis; a change in medications is making a big difference at the moment. I am grateful for medical personnel who watch patients carefully and recommend specialist treatment.
I am grateful for friends who check on me from time to time via phone, snail mail, email, texts, and visits. Their care and concern warm my heart.
My final Gratitude is to God for allowing us to have a cooler-than-normal summer and sending us the start of the autumn season a little early. We’ll no doubt have some hot days in September—that’s a given in Northeast Indiana—but Autumn is just around the corner.
Do you have reasons to be thankful, any season of the year? Write them down. Read over your list from time to time. Add new reasons as they come to you. And have a wonderful week!



Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hot days. Cooler nights. Cicadas chorusing. Fog some mornings.

Flowers wilt in the sun, lawns turn brown.
Doesn’t sound especially attractive, does it? But August was always a welcome month for me. I knew if I could get through its 31 days I’d get to go back to school.
Nowadays, school starts long before the first of September. Some school districts in my area welcomed students August 4th, others on the 6th. Some of my great-grandchildren began their school year on the 18th. And these are not year-round schools.
One of my Eeeek moments comes in August, when I realize I have only four months to be ready for Christmas. (I know, I know—it’s ludicrous to think about the end of the year when we have another month of summer ahead of us. However, we all know how time flies. . . .) Back to holiday prep: making gifts, baking cookies (fewer these days, but still…), choosing and practicing music for whatever services I’ll be playing. Not to mention decorating, which is on the lines of minimalist these days.
And before I get to Christmas, I have other high points: birthdays in September, November, and December. So I send cards and notes and gifts. Thanksgiving dinner in Ohio with several of my family members. I bake the gluten-free bread and take something else, probably a veggie tray. And then there are the special lunches and church programs, and figuring out how to cram in One More Thing when the calendar is already bulging. Any wonder the mind boggles?

It’s pretty easy to get overwhelmed just thinking about what’s on the agenda for the next few months. If I can remember to take time to enjoy each activity, as it arrives, instead of thinking of it as a chore, then life is a lot less stressful.
Here are some of my coping strategies:

·         Make lists. (You know I’m a list-maker, but Thanksgiving and Christmas call for mega-lists.)
·         Don’t sweat the small stuff. (If the house doesn’t get cleaned every week, call it small stuff and go on with what needs to be done now.)
·        Simplify. (Although I love making gifts and even shopping for them, I’ve learned that to be practical, I really should give some of my family cash instead of a wrapped gift. Because I don’t know what they have, what they need, or what they like. Cash is always a welcome gift, in my recollected experience as a young mom with responsibilities.)
·        Take charge of your life. (If somebody else seems to have everything under control, does three times what you do, works a full-time job, and still looks neat and pressed . . . well, I’m sorry, but people like that aren’t in my world. I don’t keep them out, I just don’t attract them. But if you have to deal with them, don’t let their uber-organized life make you jealous. Do your thing. You’ll live longer and enjoy it more.)
·        Finally, take time to, um, smell the cookies baking. Read a different author you’ve been wanting to try. Put your feet up, drink a cup of tea, and sample the cookies while you read. Do whatever it is you like to pamper yourself--a long walk, fishing, shopping, picnicking in the park with kids. And while you’re relaxing, take time to give thanks for all you have, all you’ve been given, and all you are able to do.
Happy Holidays!



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wild Tiger Lilies
Weed: n. A plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, especially, one growing where it is not wanted in cultivated ground.

Weeds make a good metaphor for “undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome” parts of our lives.
Consider, for example, a broken ankle. Or, if you prefer, a sprained wrist. Nothing too terribly disabling, but definitely undesirable, and probably unattractive (my wrapped ankle looked twice its normal size), and thoroughly troublesome (hopping is a darned slow way to get anywhere).
Something less physical? Okay, how about a too-full calendar, making it difficult to find wiggle-room in your busy life?
Or an unexpected happening—emergency surgery for appendicitis, sudden death of someone you know well, storm damage to your school/church/home?
Every community has a business that specializes in weed control or weed eradication. They come in, and, for a generous donation from your bank account, wave their poisonous wands, and your lawn is—or will become—weed-free.
Don’t get me wrong—I love seeing my green grass uncluttered by dandelions in various stages of undress or clover creeping from corner to corner. Beautiful as these weeds are, they attract bees, and bees seem to like me more than I like them.
But I do wish I could like weeds. Along the roadside as I drive to Fort Wayne, I see fields of mustard, long swaths of chicory, clumps of tiger lilies, trumpet vine doing its invasive thing on somebody’s old shed. I actually love Queen Anne’s Lace and wild purple coneflowers. And sunflowers, wild or domestic, always make me smile. Maybe their distance from my life as they flourish along the highway makes them more acceptable.
I’m not crazy about the weed metaphor in my life. I can’t hire somebody to come in and spray chemicals on my life to remove all the physical, mental, emotional, and psychic problems and frustrations that assail me. But after all, I’ve learned, they’re part of Life.

Chicory--great in coffee
If we look at the upside of weeds (I assure you there is one, for at least some of the weeds), we can see they may have positive uses.
Did you know:
·         Wild mustard is edible?
·         Chicory root dried and ground makes a coffee substitute? Or added to ground coffee, makes the signature chicory-coffee of New Orleans?
·         Red clover can be extracted into an herbal remedy? (Also bees love red clover, and help themselves to the nectar for later transformation into honey.)
·         Queen Anne’s Lace is also called wild carrot, and parts of the plant are edible?
Queen Anne's Lace
·         Dandelion leaves, snipped early in spring and wilted in vinegar and bacon drippings, are tender and sweet?
·         Dandelion leaves after maturing making a wonderful salve to use for itching insect bites?
·         Sunflower seeds feed birds?
So far I’ve not found anything edible about wild tiger lilies or trumpet vine, though both are lovely to look at. Maybe that's their reason for being, to add beauty to our lives.
Red Clover
Consider the places where weeds literally grow: along the roadside, in abandoned fields and yards, in gardens (flower or vegetable). My Grandpa Jenkins must have spent a lot of time and energy keeping his humongous garden clear of weeds so the vegetables could grow and mature. As big as the garden was, he used a hand-plow, walking behind it and pushing it between the rows. His big straw hat kept his head cool. Weed control had to be a never-ending process.
Weeds in our lives may be less visible. Bad habits, neglect, lack of consideration for another . . . we don’t want these characteristics, but they may be lurking in an abandoned corner of our lives.
Too bad personal weeds aren’t as readily seen as roadside weeds.

Do you have weeds in your life? Are they poisonous? Or merely irritating? Do they cause you to be less than the person you were meant to be?
Weeds. They’re everywhere.
[PS—For anyone who’s interested, my car needed a left front wheel bearing and is now a happy auto. As am I. Thanks for asking.]


Trumpet Vine - offering a sip to a

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Many, many years ago, someone wrote for the first time, “Life is so daily!” We all understood what it meant. Life repeated itself, every day (or nearly every day) (or it seemed like every day), and we grew weary.
Yeah, well, mine isn’t quite daily, but it’s often enough to make me take a deep breath and sigh. My car—lovely old (going on sweet sixteen) super-duper, big (think chest freezer on wheels) and protective, my best traveling companion for over nine years—is giving me fits. This post will be quite short because I need to call the nice people who love to see me drive in; I’m guaranteed income on wheels.
The obvious answer—I know someone will comment on this—is to buy a different car. With my brand of luck, it will be an exchange of my problems for somebody else’s.
Think I’ll wait to see what my guys say out at the garage.
In the meantime, till I post again, have a lovely week. Enjoy the summer weather (if that’s what you’re having—we are, finally). Take a deep breath. Stroll around the neighborhood and admire other people’s flowers and lawns (they did a lot of work you didn’t have to do, right?).
And give thanks for problems, great and small, for they’re what keep us on our toes, exercise our brains, and deliver us from the pitfalls of accumulating too much money.
Life is still daily. We can't change that. So--celebrate it!
‘Till next time. . . .

Showing off my CLEAN car!