Thursday, August 25, 2016


School buses join the traffic. Kids with backpacks trudge toward the nearest bus stop. A heavy rainstorm has greened up our brown lawns almost overnight. The year is moving on.

Today is the last Thursday of August, 2016. Next week we’ll be welcoming September.

But before I let go of this month, I’ve been—you guessed it—making lists.

To Do
-put new expiration sticker on my license plate
-deliver items to Goodwill
-deliver boxes of books and videos to the library for its monthly sale

To Continue
-sort more boxes of music (started this project several days ago with a goal of one box at a time; and please don’t ask how many more I have)
-cut fabric for pillow cases and blankets for the sewing group at church; these items go to the Neonatal ICU at a regional hospital
-cut even more blankets for Frances (I wrote about her last week) who has already made 15 little blankies and phoned today to say she’s ready for more :-)

Keep on Top of
-Christmas gifts to make—one down, one in the works; more to consider: make or buy?
-yard work—trim bushes and peonies
-house cleaning
-regular exercise and walking

Ways to Cope
-meditate; pray (to lighten the load by sharing it with God)
-read (my escape)
-have coffee or lunch with a friend (to remind me I’m not the only one with problems and deadlines)
-a little retail therapy at a fabric shop (to lift my creative spirits)
-watch a movie or TV series I’ve not seen before (especially the oldies that have been discontinued)

Before August exits stage left, my town gears up for a Labor Day Weekend celebration of classic automobiles. Weekend is a misnomer—events begin the Wednesday before Labor Day and continue into the following week. Already the cars of the '20s and '30s, and the '40s and '50s, have begun arriving. The population swells to staggering numbers, and if you're trying to get anywhere in the city limits you have a challenge ahead of you.

September, after the Labor Day hoop-la, will bring its own demands (I foresee another list-making session). Days will grow shorter (we perceive them as shorter, but we know that’s only the amount of daylight). Temps will drop. Football fans sitting in the bleachers will be wearing sweatshirts and gloves and hats. I won’t need my sunglasses when I leave the Y at 7 AM. I’ll get up in the dark and go to bed in the dark. (Hibernation is looking good again this year.)

The 30 days of September will pass quickly—all the other months have done that as well—and we’ll be looking at pumpkins and ghosts and goulies. And the next thing we know, we’ll be carving turkeys.

I’m not in a hurry to usher out 2016. Don’t get that idea going. I've just learned, from years of experience, that there’s a lot of stuff ahead, time passes quickly, and we need to revel in what we have this very day.

So—it’s still August. Still summer here in NE Indiana.

Enjoy. Wherever you are.

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Today I want to celebrate the lives of three women who have crossed my path and left it a better road to travel.

First is a woman named Doris H. whose obituary I read a day or so ago. She lived in my town for many, many years, and taught third grade in various schools in our district. After her retirement from teaching, Doris volunteered in different arenas; the one I knew best was her work with the Stephen Ministry program in a church where I was a member. Doris and another member took intensive training so they could, in turn, train other members of the congregation in ministering to the needs of the parish. They both gave many hours of service to prepare other Stephen ministers who would work with people in need.

In Doris’s 94 years, she was foremost a teacher, an encourager to all who met her.

Iola's roses
Second in my list of amazing women is a woman named Iola W., who died a couple of days ago. She was 83, a native of Kentucky, and one of a large family. Iola was my neighbor for over fifteen years. Her love of the outdoors kept her from languishing inside during almost any weather. Even winter. During nice weather she could be seen strolling through the neighborhood, admiring other people’s flower gardens, stopping to chat. When the city street department worked in our area, Iola was out there asking what they were doing.

Nobody took offense, because Iola was a kind, loving soul. That is how I’ll always remember her.

My third woman is one I’ve never met, though I’ve heard about her and heard her voice on my answering machine. Her name is Frances K., and her age, I’m told, is in the upper-90s. In her younger life she was a professor of history. Until recent years, she attended Bible study at my church, but now her health is less certain and she has trouble getting around.

Yet, despite Frances’s health problems, she recently phoned a member of my sewing group and asked to be included. She has a sewing machine, she said, and she might as well help. So a small sampling of blanket kits was sent to Frances. In a few days, she left a message for me: If you’ll send me 10 or 12 more blankets, I’ll mail them all back together.

Frances, an amazing woman, is a doer.

All three of these women have been on my mind during the past week. Frances, of course, because she phoned. Iola and Doris because their obituaries were published locally, and memories of them flooded in.

What better mentors—intentional or perchance—could anyone have? A dedicated teacher—a loving neighbor—a woman who won’t let age stop her from doing her bit.

I lift up these women to you. And I hope you also are blessed with amazing women—and men—in your lives.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


I’m glad July is past and done. I wouldn't banish it from the calendar (I know some great people born in July). But I'd like to change its personality.

Nothing bad happened in July. But then, nothing great happened either, except visits with my daughters.

Weather was too hot—nothing new there, either. June had many hot days. August is already showing us 90-degrees, day after day.

My main complaint against July is that I had no energy. Picture permanent jet lag. Mega sleep deprivation. Get it?

Thinking about my less-than-fond attitude toward July 2016, I found other un-favorites coming into view. Such as:

Inclement weather—hot and humid; cold with harmful wind chills; hard rain (never mind that the ground is dry and grass is dead) that comes so fast it measures four inches deep on my patio.

Poor editing—I’ve already blasted the misuse of the apostrophe, so we can let that one rest. There are many examples of poor editing of published books: nouns and verbs that don’t agree (“she don’t”; “we was”; these are not in the dialogue to indicate an uneducated person); missing punctuation that gives a confusing meaning; wrong words (hone and home are two that make my BP spike).

Assumptions—such as, assuming what is on the Internet is true; or, what is said in a TV show by a doctor/nurse/lawyer/teacher is gospel; or, people with advanced degrees know everything. (This last one is often assumed by the people with advanced degrees.)

Conclusions jumped to—If I fill my trash or recycling bin, I’m wasteful. If I keep things I might need someday, I’m a hoarder.

Car trouble. Need I say more?

You get the picture, without more irritating examples.

As I thought about today’s topic, I wanted to leave you with something positive. And how can I make something positive from a list of pet peeves?

Well, let’s look at the above list.

If I lived in Tucson, the weather would be beaucoup hotter than here in NE Indiana. Less humid, though.

If I lived in upper Minnesota, their winter would make the local one feel balmy. (International Falls is up there, somewhere, and it always has the nation’s coldest of the cold temps.)

If I lived in Seattle, I’d have rain many many many days, instead of the less-often ones here.

Poor editing—well, I don’t know what to do about that. I won’t give up reading. And I have no ambitions to be an editor.

Assumptions are difficult to correct. They undermine some folks. They’re ubiquitous. And—darn it all—sometimes they’re true.

As for Conclusions jumped to, don’t waste your time with me. I’m downsizing.

Car trouble—last night my car wouldn’t start; not the battery, so I fear something worse (as in, more expensive). Will know later today.

Here’s today’s take-away: If you didn’t have un-favorites, you wouldn’t have, or recognize, something better.

Weather reports from other parts of the country remind me that I’m fortunate to live here in the Midwest.

Poor editing—when I recognize this, I’m instantly putting out too much energy being irritated. My life is enhanced by good stories, good biographies, good information; I’ll redirect the energy there.

Assumptions—other people’s, of course—make it clear that we’re not all alike. Listening—really hearing what someone says—might enlarge my knowledge of how other folks think and act; I might gain understanding of new ways of thinking.

Conclusions you might jump to about me—don’t worry, I’m downsizing as fast as I can. And as “green” as I can manage.

Yes, I was really ticked off at my vehicle. Old Reliable wasn’t so reliable this time. The upside is: I do have a vehicle of my own (paid for, etc.), I still have a valid driver’s license, I know my way around my town and into Fort Wayne and even beyond, and I am so, so grateful for the privilege of driving.

Now we’re in August. School has started—the big yellow buses trundle down the streets and roads—kids walk to and from the bus stops, backpacks in place. The sun rises later, sets earlier. My surprise lilies did their usual sudden pop-up. I’m making Christmas gifts—one afghan down, one quilt to go.

Un-favorites notwithstanding, my cup runneth over. Verily.

Have a great week!

Thursday, August 4, 2016


1. A fertile spot in a desert where water is found.
2. A pleasant or peaceful area or period in the midst of a difficult, troubled, or hectic place or situation.
"An oasis of calm in the center of the city"
     synonyms:     refuge, haven, retreat, sanctuary, sanctum, shelter, harbor, asylum
"The park is an oasis filled with half a million flowers and thousands of lights."

I once received some good advice from a friend: paraphrased, it went something like this: “Do what you can to make your own little corner of the world a better place.”

At the time that advice was given, I was feeling a little sorry for myself. Probably 99.44% of the human race have at one time or another felt a little bit sorry for themselves. And there’s always somebody around willing to give you (1) good advice, (2) a hug, if needed, or (3) a kick in the pants. All three work.

I want to digress a little here—self-pity, though considered a negative state, isn’t all bad. It may be merely a transient state in which to examine oneself, one’s condition, one’s responses—a time of active self-care. Such a time can lead to healing.

You've no doubt heard this many times: “If we don’t take care of ourselves, we’ll have nothing to give others.” In recent years, this advice is given to caregivers who spend a large part of their time taking care of family or friends during a long, perhaps terminal, illness. Caregivers are urged to get out of the house; go to appointments on their own; take an hour or two for shopping at leisure, doing errands. Friends are always available to sit with the patient.

Think about it. An empty vessel holds no balm. We all need to replenish our inner resources.

There are many ways to fill the empty vessel—travel, study; creative endeavors; reading, music; movies. Escapist, you say? Well, maybe; sometimes; and that could be the best way to start filling the vessel of our lives again.

Escapism, like self-pity, is not a permanent address. It’s a place for stepping back; a breathing space. Some folks go on retreats—the kind where you aren’t expected to interact with a lot of other people. Some find solace and peace and healing in prayer or meditation.

None of this has to involve travel or money. Go to the local park and sit in the sun (or shade, if you prefer) and let breezes and bird song wash over you. Or go for a solitary walk, or take your dog with you; or walk with someone who also knows how to be silent. Whatever the season, there’s a place you can go to withdraw from noise. One of my favorite places is the public library. Amazing how other people’s voices disappear when I’m reading at the library.

Breathing space may be as near as your patio, or a quiet room in your house. Make your own oasis. You’ll return to it again and again. It’s a place to just be.