Thursday, September 29, 2016


(When I don’t have anything to write about)

There comes a time in a blogger’s life—sticking my neck out, saying this applies to all bloggers—but there comes a time when there’s absolutely nothing to write about. Nothing that excites the writer. Nothing that might intrigue or provoke or encourage the reader.

This could be a sad time. After all, if my mind refuses to be stimulated by what surrounds me; if my life is so boring I can’t dredge up a topic for a few hundred words; then why am I a blogger at all?

Good question, don’t you think?

So today I’m celebrating Life’s Miscellany.

You know about Miscellany, all the Stuff we experience, the little Odds and Ends of life. If we had an empty drawer, we could toss in all these Bits and Pieces and call it the Miscellany Drawer. (I like that term better than Junk Drawer.)

So—what’s in my virtual Miscellany Drawer?

1.       Yesterday I received a box from Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts—an online purchase of sale fabric. I received a total of 11 yards of flannels: 3 yards of a choo-choo train print; 3 yards of a mottled blue; 3 yards of a mottled khaki (I prefer to call it old gold—much warmer sounding than khaki); 1 yard of mottled purple; and 1 yard of mottled green. These will become, in the adept hands and humming sewing machines of Heart & Hands, blankets for the NeoNatal ICU of a local hospital.

2.       Monday morning The House Guys came—they’re stripping off the siding; repairing what needs to be repaired; wrapping the house (I asked about ribbons and bows, but those appear to be extras I didn’t order); and eventually, when the foregoing are completed, drilling holes for blowing in insulation, then putting new siding on. We’re currently experiencing off-and-on rain, but so far it’s been mostly off during the day and the project moves apace.

3.       This morning I emptied another box of music—mostly copies of hymns that I put in my three-ring worship binder so I’m not searching desperately for the next piece I have to play. And now that my organ-playing is back to subbing for the permanent organist, I don’t need as many copies. I do need organization, though. This morning’s box was Advent-Christmas-Epiphany music. It now resides, happily, I trust, in a tote with Pendaflex hanging files keeping the various types separated. And excess copies have been discarded.

4.       I now have three or four larger empty boxes (banker’s box size, if that means anything to you) to use for transporting my donations of books, etc. to the library.

5.       In looking for one thing, I found something else. Remember the endless ball of yarn? It became a little blanket, 18x21 inches. And yes, there’s a little yarn left. (I told you it was endless.)

6.       Yesterday I got my picture taken for the new church directory. Why is it that being photographed is such an ordeal for some people? I’d rather go to the dentist than have my picture taken. Even if I had to have a root canal. (That’s not nearly the agony of sitting or standing and having the photographer ask me to say goofy things to get me to smile.)

7.       This is the last one. Here in my town we’re having the Free Fall Fair. It’s the county fair, with judging of animals, projects, and other 4-H events; plus non-4-H competitions of baked goods, art, needlework and quilting, woodworking, collections—practically anything you can think of. There are even some good eating places (I’m not a fan of curly fries, elephant ears, or cotton candy). But the carnival side of the fair doesn’t appeal to me at all. By Saturday night, when all the music is at full blast from downtown (several blocks from my house), I’m ready for it all to go away. Maybe my new insulation will create the sound barrier I need.

That’s it. My current drawer-ful of Miscellany.

The best thing about Miscellany is that we have variety in our lives. It may not be what we desire or would go out of our way to find; it may invade our lives or pull us away from something we’d rather be doing.

Today I celebrate the variety—the little things and the big things—that keep our lives infinitely interesting.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


When I started posting these thoughts on Thursday’s Child three years ago, I considered calling it something like “The Time Has Come.”

The phrase is from Lewis Carroll’s verse, “The Walrus and The Carpenter,” a part of Through the Looking Glass. I read the whole poem, and decided I didn’t especially like the way it turned out.

But “The time has come” stuck with me. And it’s apt, in all seasons of our lives.

For example:
#1. My current house project—insulation and new siding—starts next week. That’s a reminder that I need to deliver boxes of books, DVDs, and CDs to the library for their monthly Friends of the Library sale. Yesterday I actually made the trip, with five fairly heavy boxes of stuff in the car. (I’m always thrilled with strong-armed women who come out and empty my trunk. Once was enough for me to fill it.)

#2. The time has also come for me to buckle down and put my foot on the sewing machine pedal. Christmas gifts don’t get made without a little physical effort on my part.

#3. Today, September 22nd, is the first day of Autumn. Yard work awaits—trimming back the peonies and hostas, cleaning up the landscaping beds (the birds are messy eaters; they leave a lot of seeds on the ground and I now have little patches of grass under the feeders, plus one little sunflower); picking up fallen sticks and limbs before they’re covered in leaves. Or, that white stuff. You know, snow.

It occurs to me that there’s nothing like a deadline to provide motivation.

In another sense, the time has always come—it comes every day, every moment.

We make choices. We ponder where we are in our lives, where we’ve been, where we’re going. We consider what we might have done differently. Or if there’s a way to un-do something we now regret. (I’ve found un-doing most often requires forgiveness—and we talked about that a week or so back.)

One of my favorite quotes comes from Maya Angelou, an American poet:

   “If you don't like something, change it.
   If you can't change it, change your attitude.”

The time has come to take inventory of our lives—think things over; get rid of negative thoughts; adopt some happier ways of coping. Change what we can. Change our attitude, if that’s all we can do.


Here’s a closing thought, also from Maya Angelou:

   “I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere 
   is good done everywhere. For a change, start by
   speaking to people rather than walking by them 
   like they're stones that don't matter. As long as 
   you're breathing, it's never too late to do some good.”

We start where we are—in our small town or city, on vacation or on the job, with our families or complete strangers. There’s no reward for doing good, except that we know we’re doing the right thing.

And remember—my way of doing good in the world may not be your way.

The time has come . . . .

Thursday, September 15, 2016


You can always tell when the season is shifting, because I blog about transitions and change. Here’s the latest batch—they’re all visuals because I don’t have anything new to say about change.

 C. S. Lewis, known to many as the creator of The Chronicles of Narnia, became a Christian late in life and wrote many books about faith.

Maya Angelou is known for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, as well as for many volumes of poetry.

Rumi was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic.

My  story--my life--is in my hands. Staggering thought, isn't it?

One early morning gratitude--mumbled while your eyes are trying to open, before the morning jolt of caffeine, before your feet hit the floor--just one expression of thankfulness can make a difference in how your day starts, continues, and ends.

Change is taking place in my neighborhood. In the past eight months, three houses have sold, three more are on the market with Realtor signs in their yards. (We've managed to go through six different Realtors--another three or four to go and we've covered them all in our county.) This is remarkable because the whole street--one block long--has only 13 houses. 

Of the current occupants, only three were here when I moved in 31 years ago. We don't change quickly, but when we do--wow! Look out, world!

I expect to be here several more years--probably not 31, given the age I've attained. And I've made changes to my house; more coming shortly when the guys arrive to blow in insulation and re-side the house and garage. These changes I welcome because they'll make my house warmer in winter and cooler in summer.

Since change is inevitable, you--and I--might as well try to embrace it.

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, September 8, 2016


My list-making frenzy came out of living a life full of “Haftas.” You know the kind of thing: I have to do laundry tonight before I go to bed.” Or, “I have to get to the grocery store before it closes.” Clearly this was long, long ago, before 24/7 grocery stores.

The underlying message ran along these lines: “Something Awful Will Happen If I Don’t!”

Really? Something Awful? Like:

-         On the surface: My kids won’t have clean jeans to wear to school tomorrow and the other kids will make fun of them. Or: We’ll have a blah meal that nobody will eat and all that food will be wasted.

-         Down one level: People will think I’m a bad mom and wife. People being my kids, husband, neighbors, complete strangers who see my underfed, poorly clothed children straggling from the bus to the school building.

-          At rock bottom: “They won’t love me.” Whoever they are.

Not a pretty scenario, is it?

Well, I learned some things, though I won’t tell you how long it took me to get there:

-         Everything doesn’t depend on me. Nor is everything about me.
-         Others need to be asked for their help—they’re important people, too.
-          Apologize, when necessary.
-          Forgive myself for not being perfect. (Still working on this one.)
-          Remember what it was like growing up—I had to forgive adults and get on with life.
-          Change have to to want to; makes a difference in myself--now the item on my list is not an obligation, it’s a choice.
I have a few other words that have caused me to stumble over and over.

We’ve dealt with Hafta—with its messages of “Time’s running out!” and "You're gonna be in trouble!"

Hafta's sibling, Gotta, never seemed to carry the same urgency. “I gotta get my hair cut, it’s driving me mad.” “We’ve gotta get this house cleaned up. Soon!” Gotta items can stay on my list for quite some time—till I do nearly go round the bend and make an appointment for a hair cut, or company’s coming in an hour and just look at this mess! Some Gottas become Haftas. But I can live with Gotta. For a while.

Shoulda—ah, here’s one that ought to be banned from the English language. Shoulda keeps us living in the past. “I shoulda known there’d be trouble if I took that job.” “We shoulda kept the kids home the night of the party.” And saddest of all—“I shoulda visited my mom/dad/child/friend more often before death came.”

I shoulda known—how? Knowledge comes with experience, our own or that of others who share it with us. If we can’t change what happened, we can try to glean something from the experience to guide us in the future.

We can’t live well with regrets, and that’s what Shoulda invites. Remember when I said I had to forgive myself? That’s not a one-time thing. Take it from me: Forgiving myself—along with forgiving others—is a life-long practice.

I hope you have fewer Haftas, Gottas, and Shouldas in your life. If they get out of hand, make your own list of ways you can change the focus from have to to choose to. I hope it lightens your load.

And have a wonderful week!

Thursday, September 1, 2016


Job-hunting has long been off my list of Things To Do. But I remember advice that went something like this: “Know the things you’re good at, and offer them at the job interview. They may be exactly what the potential employer is looking for.” Something like that.

In other words, “Accentuate the positive.”

Well, okay. Having lived several decades with my own set of things I’m good at and things I’m not so good at, and having been retired from active duty (8-5, five days a week) for a decade, I’ve had ample time to investigate the other side of the fence.

Let’s agree to not call it the dark side, all right? These aren’t bad traits. They aren’t going to get us in trouble that involves jail, court hearings, sentencing, and workin’ on the chain gang.

These traits are the things we’ve learned to live with, and around, and through. They’re part of our lives. Most of all, they’re what make each one of us the person we are.

So, here goes.

Things I’m Not Good At:

#1. Making friends

Not a surprise, because we moved so many times between first grade and ninth grade. Any friend I made during a school year would be left behind the following June when we moved on.

My mother, an extravert, decided I was too shy, lonesome, and friendless. Her advice: “Go right up to one of the girls at school and introduce yourself. Be friendly!”

If memory serves, I tried that two, or maybe three, times. The response was raised eyebrows that seemed to ask, “So what?” (Perhaps I exaggerate. But it was not a good experience.)

#2. Playing on the team.

Any team. Any group. An only child don’t learn the essential skills of (1) negotiating, (2) compromising, and/or (3) beating up the opposition.

Instead I learned to be a solo practitioner—turned myself into a bookworm—made Good Grades my goal. The reward was a scholarship to college, where I again skipped the team stuff and lived in my cave (library).

#3. Any sport.

Not even swimming, which can be done solo. I’ve never learned to be comfortable in water that comes up over my knees, and even though I took swimming in college Phys Ed (and earned an A, the Lord knows why), I remained a confirmed landlubber.

Perhaps the issue with sports is not expertise, but competition. There was a time I could compete with the best of ‘em—for grades, skills, roles in the school play. Now competing for anything seems pointless. Is that wisdom coming with age? Or just age encroaching? (Don't answer that.)

#4. House cleaning.

Did you see that one coming?

The thing is this: I know how to clean house. My mother kept the cleanest house on any block we lived on, and I always helped with the process. In fact, like my mother (and many other people) I love to see the house cleaned up, spic and span, clutter put away, surfaces dusted, windows shiny. But I don’t love doing the work.

I’ve also not enjoyed having my house cleaned for me—tried that a couple of times when health problems actually barred me from vacuuming and dusting and lifting anything that weighed over five pounds. Maybe I’m not tough enough to let other people come in and take over the cleaning.

I suspect, though, that the kernel in this nutshell involves the Accumulation of Stuff (yes, I know you’re tired of hearing about that).

#5. Miscellaneous.

Mixing with big groups. Celebrating with a lot of hoop-la. Evening meetings, no matter how vital the cause. Surprises (even good ones).

At my age, there’s a lot of “been there, done that” hanging about. Events that excite friends and family members don’t even make my Things-to-Consider List. Evenings, especially, find me grumpy if I’m asked to go out. Why? Because my energy levels are high from getting up (before 6 AM) till about 2 PM. After a short nap, I can manage some activity, but not going out in the evening.

And surprises—maybe I had too many surprises in my young life; nowadays, when I get a surprise that seems to be a good thing, I look for the kicker. How is this really going to play out? I ask. Surprise parties? Unh-unh.

So, you ask, how did those things affect your life?

Here’s how:

#1. Making friends. I’ve made several good and true friends over the years. Some friendships are still going strong 22, 40, 46 years later. We don't live near one another and see each other only a few times a year. But the friendships are strong.

I have newer friends, especially folks I’ve met at church and with whom I work on a regular basis. And it wasn't difficult. I didn’t have to go up to anybody and say, “Hi, my name is Judith Palmer. What’s your name?”

I'll never number my friends in the hundreds. Social media doesn't keep my interest. But being an introvert doesn’t relegate us to the loneliness pile. We may seem shy, but we’re okay. Truly.

Mountain Pose
#2. Playing on the team.  The jobs I’ve held relied on my ability to work alone—with minimum guidance. The skills I gleaned over the early years of my life found a place to fit in. Best of all, I learned some of the negotiating and compromise skills on the job.

#3. Any sport.  Still true, I’m not a sports player or fan. But! I’ve found activities that support good health for my heart (and other body parts): Walking. Yoga. Tai Chi. These can be done alone or in groups or with a buddy. In yoga and tai chi, especially, there is no competition; in fact, competition is discouraged.

#4. House Cleaning.  Whoever first coined the phrase “Clean enough to be healthy, dirty enough to be happy” deserves a special citation. I’ve heard it attributed to people’s grandmothers, mothers, and an author in the ‘50s or ‘60s (probably Peg Bracken or someone like her).

Thus, my house may never—well, let’s be honest here—my house will never be as clean as my mother’s was, but it will be a house in which I am happy to live, its windows will shine sometimes, its surfaces will be free of dust sometimes, and the clutter is disappearing bit by bit.

My only problem with Accumulations is that so many of them recall something, or someone, important to me: a greeting card from one of my kids, a letter from a friend who is now deceased; an art object or a quilt/wall hanging/pillow made by one of my kids or a friend; a gift from someone special; books I’ve treasured . . . .

What I’m learning about reducing clutter and downsizing is that perhaps, just perhaps, somebody else will enjoy what I’m giving away. Someone I don’t know, and will never meet, will open a book or listen to a CD or wear a sweater that once was an important part of my life.

#5. Miscellaneous.  Giving up evening meetings, noise and hoop-la, crowds—not hard at all. People have learned that I don’t do much of that kind of thing. As for surprises, I do enjoy little ones—like a new TV series (new to me could mean its seven years gone) that I’ve never seen, with actors who are superb in their roles; or a new book by an author I adore; or (please don’t laugh too hard) opening a box of fabric and re-discovering a lovely piece I bought some time ago, haven’t used yet, and am still in love with.

There you have it. Things I’m Not Good At. How they’ve assimilated themselves into my life.

Celebrate those traits that make you who you are. They may be positive traits. Or Not-So-Positive. Or just So-So traits. You don’t have to boast about them. Just accept them. Explore them. They’re you.

And have a wonderful week!