Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Feliz Navidad! Frohe Weihnachten! Merry Christmas! Joyeux Noël! חג מולד שמח Krisimasi Njema! С Рождеством! สุขสันต์ วัน คริสต์มาส! Veselé vánoce! Весела Коледа! Καλά Χριστούγεννα! Buon Natale! Häid jõule! Feliz Natal!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Gift Has Already Been Given!

Everyone is aware that this year is a little tight financially for many people. It's got people to thinking about Christmas, gift giving and what's really important. I think this is a good thing. Everyone loves gifts, of course; most people love giving nice ones as well. But is this really what makes people love Christmas so much? I don't think so.

There are a lot of things we do at Christmas time. Giving gifts is one thing. Singing carols, baking cookies, making candy, and visiting family are some more.  Also, decorating and shopping and going to parties and feasting together. But these are still not what we love about Christmas. These are things we do to celebrate what we love; tokens we give each other to celebrate what was given to us.

Because the Gift has already been given! Christmas, as Linus tells it so famously in A Charlie Brown Christmas, and as the Bible even more famously proclaims, is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord. "And the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord.' " (Luke 2:10,11).  He already came; He already walked among us, brought us Hope, and then died for our sins and rose again! Everything that gives us so much joy in the celebration of Christmas ever since that Holy Night is because of Him; the general happiness, giving spirits and soft hearts we feel at this time of year especially. Of course, some people will point out that we don't know for sure that Jesus was born on December 25th. It is true that we don't know the day He was born. But we do know that He was born, and this is why we celebrate. 

Gifts are an integral part of the celebration of Christmas. God gave us the greatest Gift of all time, One that brought peace on earth and to men's hearts. The Wise Men brought gifts to the Christ Child. And we give gifts to one another in honor of His birth; we give ourselves to Him also.  So for Christians, what is really important? The cost of the gift we give? The amount of people we give gifts to? The gifts we receive? Or the fact that we are remembering the Gift God gave us in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ; the fact that we offer ourselves back to Him Who made us in the first place? "For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16).

This year is a great opportunity to remember what it is you are really celebrating at Christmas time. It is easy to get caught up in everything you think you have to do and not even enjoy Christmas anymore. But it doesn't have to be that way. God already gave us everything we need to celebrate. A Baby in a manger. Peace in our hearts. Hope for eternity. The Gift has already been given. What more could we possibly need?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

More Really Good Stuff

Good things happening! We've been decorating for Christmas. There was even a very obliging cold front that came in the day we put our tree up; it was all grey and overcast, rainy, windy and downright cold! Well, by our standards, anyhow. Probably because it was a change, it was lovely. It shouldn't be too hot to put up the Christmas tree, but many years it is. When you want a Slurpee afterwards, in front of a fan, instead of hot cocoa in front of a fire, you know you live in Florida! We actually got quite a lot of rain this weekend, which was a gift in itself. Great way to begin Brush Fire Season!

My Mother-in-Love and I went on our annual Shopping Trip with Lunch for my birthday. We had a great, girly-girl time and she bought me the loveliest outfit. She got an amazing silver jacket - I was calling it her Jetson's jacket - but she can totally pull it off. The woman's got style! She gave me good guidance, too, on fashion for ladies. I was pondering whether I could wear a certain, perfect outfit or whether I would get too hot, and she said, "Sometimes a lady just has to suck it up and be hot, if she looks good!" I love when the older generation teach the younger... like Aunt Ruth, who told me frequently (when she was in her 80s), "I won't worry! Worry causes wrinkles!" And my own mother, who always looks beautiful, told me once, "Do the best you can, then go eat chocolate." Works for me!

Thanks to all of you, especially Sara, who recommended Elizabeth Goudge. I am nearly done with "Valley of Song" which is simply enchanting! It is not easy to describe - the closest I could come might be to call it a fable - but it is charming and beautifully written, and I hope to go get another of her books at the library tomorrow.

My nieces have been taking ice skating lessons, which all by itself is pretty cool considering we live in southern Florida. They had a recital/show Sunday afternoon (lasted 3 hours!!!); it was a hoot. Like all recitals, there were lots and lots of tiny cherubs in darling costumes who performed all kinds of antics other than the ones they'd rehearsed. The show was perhaps a bit ambitious for the ones who could barely stand upright, actually. But unlike most recitals, there were also some amazing skaters whose names we will probably all be hearing before long. The show was based on movies, such as "Peter Pan," "Grease," "Annie," "The Sound of Music," and others, so (with the exception of "Annie") there was some really good music. And the coup de grace was Todd Eldredge! Not only did he perform, but he is going to be coaching here at our humble skating rink in between his own tours. Pretty cool! Unfortunately, one of my nieces sprained her ankle right at the end. She'll be alright, and she at least waited until she was done with both dance lessons and skating lessons. But I was sorry because I know it hurt.

Speaking of being hurt when it could be much worse, I do have something I am praising God for today. A very close friend of mine (since sixth grade!) has twin daughters; one of them was in a motorcycle accident yesterday. Someone pulled right out in front of her, and she had to lay the bike down. She skidded sideways and went right under a large pickup truck. But it never touched her. She has some painful road rash, some badly bruised bones in her foot, ankle and shin, and a few other cuts and bruises. But other than that, she is fine! Her mother, who has never been in favor of the bike, says God must have wrapped her in bubble wrap. The bike frame is bent, inexplicably. Her mother is even grateful for that, since presumably the bike cannot be ridden now. The other twin just got married - in a beautiful white dress and pink high-top tennis shoes! Tickled me.

Well, I have got to quit gabbing and go earn my keep, clean my house, and finish my library book. Until next time!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"It's the Most-Won.der.ful Time... of the Year!"

I love this time of year. Everyone seems so much happier and kinder and softer, somehow. And there's more going on than just good old, wonderful Christmas. Yesterday was the last day of Hurricane Season. In my part of the world, that's a big deal. (Of course, today is the first day of Brush Fire Season. Ugh. Always something).

Yesterday was also my 49th birthday. (That's me at one year). One more year to be in my 40s; then I'll get to reset the clock and start over. Since I'm going to live to be 100. I'll only be half way there next year. I love my birthday. I had a very nice one. It started on Saturday when I opened my front door to find 8 poinsettia plants on the porch, from my middle son. They now reside on my dining room table, and they look smashing! Such a cheerful plant. And it's RED!!! Lots of other nice things occurred, I had a lazy, spoiled weekend, and yesterday I enjoyed myself thoroughly. (Thanks for the card, Connie! So sweet!). I had chips and salsa with leftover turkey and a chaser of M&M's while watching an old Hee Haw rerun, for lunch. Then I took a lovely, leisurely bubble bath in my Wonder-Tub. Man, I love that tub. More about it another time. I also cleaned my kitchen and stuff, but I enjoy cleaning my house. Last night we watched "Operation Petticoat," with Tony Curtis and Cary Grant. Still funny after all these years (1959 is when it came out. A year before I did!).

Thanksgiving was wonderful, too. Everything turned out perfectly. And there were lots of leftovers. We all worked hard leading up to Thanksgiving Day. But we were totally lazy for the weekend afterwards. I don't do Black Friday shopping. I'm too tired from cooking and cleaning. And besides, there's nothing I want badly enough to fight the crowds for it. Also, I'm broke. So instead, I slept 'til noon, ate a huge leftover lunch, lounged in my tub, and visited with my hubby.

We watched the new Star Trek movie this weekend. Got it from Netflix. It was kinda cool seeing their version of how the original crew - Cap't. Kirk, Spock, Scotty and all the rest - first got together.  I've also been reading some good books by Deeanne Gist. "A Bride Most Begrudging," and "The Measure of a Lady," which is my favorite. I'm about to read an Elizabeth Goudge book that Sara recommended. I am going to post again soon. Bye for now!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving

From the first year of our marriage, Thanksgiving took on a different feel each year. The first year, we "borrowed" my little brother, and had a picnic on the beach in Naples, Florida. Then we went to play on a water slide. When our own kids were small, I cooked for a week, with them playing on the floor at my feet in our tiny kitchen. I made my own stuffing, special rolls that took two days to make, pies, everything I could think of. We invited all of the family plus a recent widow from church. The day turned bitter cold, highly unusual for Southwest Florida, so we had to bring in space heaters. I remember my little boy being so puzzled when he overheard me saying we needed an extra leaf in the table to fit everyone around it. He finally caught ahold of my skirt to ask, "Mommy, how will putting leaves on the table make it bigger?"

That was a lovely meal. I put kernels of corn on each plate, and then passed a basket around. Each person said what they were thankful for as they put a kernel of corn in the basket. All of us had a hard year that year, but we all found something to be thankful to God for also. It reminded me of what the first Thanksgiving must have been like, when the settlers had barely survived the year and had winter coming in fast.

One year my husband's Grandmother made the trip down from Indiana and we all went and had a picnic in the park, then played games. She seemed so delighted, and couldn't wait to go back up north and tell her friends how she'd spent Thanksgiving on a beautiful Florida day. My husband's Aunt Ruth spent her very last Thanksgiving meal with us; I used the special dishes she had given us. She was so happy, her eyes were sparkling.

When the kids were old enough, we began volunteering at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving day. I'd put chili in the crock pot for our meal, or we'd have taco salad when we came home, exhausted from serving hundreds of turkey dinners to grateful, hungry people. The boys were assigned something like cutting the pies; they worked hard, and so cheerfully.

At some point the boys decided they wanted a big, traditional family dinner. I still have some of the name cards they made for each family member's plate, complete with drawings of Indians, pilgrims or turkeys. They each had their favorite foods, which I would try to incorporate; this led to a really big menu! It didn't help any that one didn't like turkey, only chicken; hubby only liked ham. Some like pumpkin pie, others only apple. I just make it all.

I learned to make amazing rolls, but could never get the hang of gravy. One year when the boys were old enough, they went to KFC to buy gravy for our Thanksgiving meal. It became part of family lore when they related that the young clerk had asked them whether the gravy was "for here, or to go?" One admitted he'd almost said "We'll have it here. Do you have straws?"The one son who doesn't like any gravy but white has learned to make his own.

Even my son's cat, Patience, tried to help. I was cooking away one Thanksgiving morn, when I heard a sort of strangled sound behind me. I turned to look, and the cat, looking like a little Pilgrim maid in her black and white coat, proudly laid a squirrel down at my feet. She seemed quite startled and upset when I screamed! She snatched up her gift and began running all over the house with it. Later, she tried again, with a lizard!

Now we usually have a big, family meal with the grandparents invited, and they pitch in with some dishes. One year our oven quit working the week of Thanksgiving. I did all my cooking in a toaster oven, while my mother-in-law roasted the turkey. That actually worked out pretty well! Another year when our son was remodeling our kitchen and miscalculated the timing of some repairs, I had no kitchen sink, no running water, and a huge mess. We all got to work and pulled off the meal that time, too. I think that was the year my son and husband spontaneously decided to cut a large "window" in the wall between the kitchen and living room hours before Thanksgiving dinner. I had mixed feelings. I had wanted that window through there for years; but not necessarily on Thanksgiving day! But it let so much light and air in to the kitchen, and I wasn't isolated. I ended up truly thankful for that window.

I am busily cooking and baking this year's meal. It isn't that hard to plan, because even though I'd love to make something different every year, no one will go for that. Well, actually, they don't care if I make new stuff - as long as I make all the old stuff too! So I'll probably just stick to the same old things, tried and true, beloved and anticipated. That's okay, though. Some things never change. Like the love of family. Like the gratitude we have to Almighty God for His provision throughout another year. As this Thanksgiving of 2009 approaches, I am most thankful to be His child. He has provided all of my blessings, and He is the best blessing of all. Happy Thanksgiving, and may the Lord make us truly thankful.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The October Thing is Always in November

Last night we enjoyed the 20-something anniversary of the October thing. Only it is always in November now. It began in October and kept sliding forward year by year until  it settled in to the second weekend of November, or thereabouts. But everyone kept right on calling it The October Thing. It is always on a Saturday night. That hasn't changed. The whole family goes over to the lot my parents own on the banks of a small lake, where they've strung lights, set up a few tables and chairs, and my step dad has a lovely campfire burning. All the children can't resist playing in it. They start with sticks, then surreptitiously sneak other things in to it, like paper plates, until they get caught and get in trouble. Of course now it is the younger kids. The older kids play other pranks.

Everyone brings some food to share. We never coordinate, so we never know what it will be. Last night it was mostly cookies and chips. But there was also my sister's incomparable devilled eggs. And my brother brought "long tailed frog," also called "swamp lizard." Some people call it alligator meat. Because, of course, that is what it is. I had the tiniest piece I could find, just so I could honestly tell you I have eaten alligator meat. Nope, it doesn't taste like chicken. Maybe like pork... I guess it is "what eats the other white meat." A very mild, rather chewy meat.

The main course, though, is hot dogs that we all cook on forked metal cooking poles. I cook mine until it is bubbling, but it is usually still ice cold when I bite in to it. Last night I got it done really well. That was a first. It doesn't matter, really, because the main event is roasting marshmallows. Everyone has their own special way of doing it. One young niece likes to cook them, but not eat them, so she is always going around begging everyone else to let her cook theirs. Her special technique is to catch them on fire, blow them out when they are bubbly and blackened on the outside, then present them to the recipient. I like to get them toasted medium brown all the way around so they are a little crispy on the outside, and melty on the inside. Perfect! My once a year treat. My step dad always makes his hot spiced cider, too, and has leaves it on its own special table in a tiny crockpot.

We talk about all kinds of things. We talk politics and religion and sports, hunting and fishing, video games, tell funny stories and plan future get togethers. My brother brought his pet raccoon last night. It loves to drink soda out of his cup. A teenage niece recited "The Man From Snowy River," Australian accents and all. Sometimes we sing, and one year a son who'd had a dancing lesson taught the box step to a younger cousin.

Gradually, later then they'd intended to stay, different families begin gathering up chairs and children and heading for home, usually taking chips or cookies with them. Everyone is full of marshmallows and root beer, and smells like smoke after our once a year, micro-camping family adventure. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Health Care Reform or Health Insurance Reform?

I know feelings run strong about the Health Care Reform bill that passed the House and is being debated in the Senate. Everybody has their own take on it, at least partly based on their own experiences, and that's alright. In fact, I am very interested in what you have to say about the matter. I think the best solutions come from listening to a wide variety of opinions. Not that any one is asking me to decide the solution, but I know we can all learn from each other, and I want to learn from you.

I wrote an article about what I see as a need for Health Insurance Reform for Associated Content that you can find here and after you read it, please leave a comment, either there under the article, and/or come back here and tell me what you think. Whether you agree or disagree, I would like to hear how you see the issue and why. Or, if you post about it on your own blog, please tell me here so I can come and read it. Thanks!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Holidays and Baseball

Now that Halloween is behind us, is everyone ready for Thanksgiving? I love Thanksgiving. The family, the feasting, and the special time to all give thanks to God for His incredible blessings.

We had a wonderful visit with our son and daughter in law. They are very happy newlyweds. We really enjoyed watching the World Series together too. Our new daughter in law really knows her stuff as she played the position of catcher on her college softball team, and she added interesting color commentary. She is rooting for NY and I am rooting for the Phillies, so that made it fun, too. I like a lot of the Yankee players, though. It is a friendly rivalry. I try not to miss the World Series; it is the one sporting event I always try to make sure to see. It is funny how many connections I have to different family members, old and new, through baseball. My first real memory of watching baseball was with my Grandmother, who loved the Cincinnati Reds.

It is that wonderful season of holiday celebrations, family time, worship and incredible food! Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Favorite Costumes From My Childhood

Ruth thought it would be fun to do a meme on favorite costumes from our childhood, and I decided she was right - it would be fun! Plus, I found pictures! I was a strange kid...

In this first one, I was five. I am the Frankenstein on the right, wearing my dad's pants. I guess my sister is Morticia. We used to go to the rich neighborhoods for candy and we could fill two big bags! Although I have no idea how she could walk very far in Mom's high heels.

Here I am eight and wanted to do my own costume. I wore my step dad's bathrobe, an old wig I liked to play with, and my sister used some sort of makeup pencil to draw a villain's face. Then I practiced making scary faces. I actually won "Ugliest" in a costume contest. I was so proud!

I am ten in this picture with my siblings. I don't know what my brother was, besides cute, and my sister looked adorable as a cat. I chose to be a bookworm. That's right, a bookworm. I have a box around my middle made to look like a book. I have no idea what the black material is, and the "cap" was my mother's tube top! I pretty much gave up on costumes after this one. Until my kids came along!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Recipes for Rose Hips

One way to prolong summer after your roses die, is to find ways to eat roses! Rose Hip Jelly, for instance, is fairly easy to make. For Rose Hip Jelly, you will need the following:

Rose hips
apple juice
paraffin (for sealing canning jars)

Remove the stems and wash the rose hips; then for every cup of rose hips, add two cups of water in a large pan, and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes. Using a potato masher, carefully mash the rose hips in the water, and simmer for 10 minutes more. Carefully pour the mixture in a glass or stainless steel container and set aside for 24 hours. Strain the juice through a cheesecloth bag or a fine strainer. Don't push the mixture too firmly or the jelly will be cloudy. Put the juice in a pan and for 2 cups rose hip juice, add 1 cup apple juice and 1 box pectin. Bring this mixture to a good, rolling boil. Stir in 4 1/2 cups granulated sugar. Boil for 6 or 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until jelly is thicker. Remove from heat and skim off the top with a slotted spoon. Pour in to sterilized canning jars. Cover with melted paraffin (follow the directions on the box). After the paraffin sets, put the lid on, label or decorate the jar and store in a cool place.

Or perhaps you would prefer Rose-Hip Soup. Directions for making the soup are fairly simple.

3 cups rose hips
Extra water if needed
3/4 cups sugar
dash salt
Thickening agent, such as potato flour, cornstarch or tapioca, mixed with water to make a paste
1/4 cup chopped almonds
whipped cream

You will need to place 3 cups fresh, well-washed rose hips in 3 pints boiling water. Cover and cook until tender, straining by forcing the softened hips through a sieve. Take 4 1/2 cups liquid from this process, adding cold water to finish out the amount if necessary, and return to pan. Add 3/4 cups sugar and a dash of salt. Mix 1 1/2 Tablespoons potato flour with a little water to form a smooth paste, and stir it in to the mix to thicken the soup. Or, if you prefer you can make a paste with cornstarch or tapioca. Either will work as a thickener. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour into a soup tureen. Sprinkle 1/4 cup chopped almonds on top. Chill soup. Top with whipped cream and serve.

Whether you prefer stopping to see and smell the roses, wearing the lingering fragrance on your skin, or allowing the essence to fill your mouth, roses can continue to delight the senses all the year round.

UPDATE: Ok, I should clarify some things. A post by the lovely and fascinating Protege about the rose hips that grew in her part of the world reminded me that I had some old recipes of Swedish origin that used rose hips. I haven't actually made these with my own rose hips. For one thing, any roses using pesticides probably shouldn't be eaten, and also, if you prune the roses for more blooms, they don't have a chance to form the hips. If you go here and here, you can find out more information, recipes and warnings.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Zis and Zat

We are supposed to have a cold front soon. That means it will be in the high 80s. We'll take it. It is already cooling down. One day last week, it was 95 degrees. The next day it was 94, and the day after that is was only 93! We measure progress in beads of sweat per square inch of skin.

Hubby and I went to a musical comedy at Broadway Palms Dinner Theater. We saw "Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels." We've never seen the movie, but with Michael Caine and Steve Martin, it is probably funny. We enjoyed the stage version, for the most part. A bit naughty, but mostly just fun, and very lively. Very well acted, sung and danced. They do a good job with their casting. I also knew one of the actresses, so that's always cool. Last year, we saw "The Wizard of Oz" there and she was in it as well. And one time we saw "The Sound of Music," and one of the nuns was a friend of our son. Just adds an element of fun. One of the songs in "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" was called Zis and Zat, thus my title today.

I've been going to a Bible Study for women in a nearby neighborhood. I enjoy it immensely! Such sweet, Godly women, and such solid study of the Bible. Not a book about the Bible, but the actual real live Bible itself. It is like a drink of pure water for the soul. I love God's Word, reading, learning and living it, and it is a joy to find sisters of a like mind.

I've also been doing a lot of writing, for a place online called Associated Content. A fellow blogger, Susan of Girls in White Dresses, told me about it, and I'm having a lot of fun. Not only am I honing my skills, but I'm getting paid to do it. When they accept something they pay for it, and you also get payments every time someone goes to view something you've written. If you'd like to see what I've been up to, go here to my profile page. Feel free to leave a comment so I'll know you were there!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pranks at the Power Plant - Time to Reminisce

Back in the late 1970s I worked as a temp at a power plant. Most places I could have earned around $2.50 an hour as a secretary so I was thrilled with my $4.50. Until I found out that the position, being union, started at over $7! Not to mention phenomenal perks and benefits. These people were well cared for. They complained all the time though. There was constant friction between union and management. My position, for instance, was only supposed to last 2 weeks, but ended up lasting 5 1/2 months because they couldn't fill the position due to a union requirement that the person hired had to know shorthand. Even as a temp, I had to know it. But the person rarely if ever had to use it. They found that most people who know shorthand don't want to lose the skill, so they wouldn't accept the position that didn't actually use it. Fortunately I was perfect. I could honestly say that I knew shorthand. But I could only drrraaawww shorthand if someone spoke very slowly. So it worked out.

They were pretty serious about their union stuff tho. Once I tightened a loose screw on my desk with my fingers and got a lecture because I had "cost some union guy his overtime." Um...okay. I remember the management guys being nice, serious, mournful looking worn out and nervous guys while the union guys seemed to always have a good time. They certainly found plenty of time for pranks. My tasks consisted of keeping and distributing supplies, running the switchboard and doing whatever I could to help the secretaries with proofreading or typing reports and things. I was also basically the receptionist, although you don't get tons of visitors at a power plant. The media sometimes, when there were nuclear plant controversies and such. I also made announcements over the loudspeaker.

One day I was in my little room and one of the other girls came running in, pulling the pocket door shut behind her and locking it. It seems one of the young men had been chasing her around with a lizard. Just then the lunch buzzer sounded, and she knew he would not waste any time going, so she confidently opened the door - and let out a scream! The fellow had indeed left, but not without tying the lizard to the door frame with a long string so that when she opened the door she was eyeball to eyeball with the dangling lizard! She got revenge later when he and a few other guys were repairing something down below our second story window. She got a few of us together and we all dumped large glasses of ice water out our window on the count of 3. Those guys might have been macho when it came to lizards, but they did some screaming of their own!Sometimes people took it too far, of course. One poor guy cut off part of his finger in the metal shop. A quick search did not turn up the missing part, so he was hustled off to the hospital. When he came back to work, he was greeted by the grisly sight of the end of his finger, tacked to the bulletin board with a R.I.P. note taped above it. He was NOT HAPPY!

There was one woman in particular though, who soon held the title in prank playing. Her name was Joyce. Someone told me she had formerly been a nun but was too high-spirited to stay in that profession. She definitely kept things lively. One girl would come in every morning to the kitchen, grab a foam coffee cup off the stack, get water from the tap, and turn to lean against the sink, drink her water and visit a few minutes. One day she found the water dripping all over her, from tiny pin holes Joyce had put in the bottom of the cup. The girl was good natured about it, threw her cup away - and grabbed one off the OTHER stack, thereby repeating the whole prank again! Naturally Joyce had done the top cup in each stack! Another girl was going on a hot date immediately after work one Friday. She brought a fancy long sleeved shirt and dress pants to change in to, and left them in a bag in the women's restroom. We all made sure to linger long enough to see her come flying upstairs, run in to the bathroom and - yes, sure enough frustrated screams erupted moments later, the word "JOYCE!!!" among them. Of course we already knew that Joyce had been at work with her needle yet again. This time spending her lunch break sewing the shirt sleeves together just below the cuff and the pants also! Another time she photocopied a rather risque picture from someone's calendar of a naked man lying on his side between a campfire and a motorcycle with a bottle of whisky rather strategically placed. She tacked it above the desk of the secretary to the President, who didn't notice it until her boss brought a bunch of visiting big-wigs in to introduce them to her. They kept glancing above her head while they were talking to her, and when they were gone, she looked to see what they'd been so interested in!

I turned 19 while I worked there and I have to admit it was a fun place for a young person to work. I even managed to get in a few pranks of my own. But I think this post is long enough. Don't you?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Five Words, Five Insights

The lovely Beverly at Dancing With the Daffodils shared a meme where she had gotten five words from someone else, then wrote what they made her think of, thereby revealing something of herself to us. She invited me to play, and sent me my five words. I have expounded on them below. Enjoy! (And if this is something you'd like to try, let me know and I'll come up with five words for you to write about!)

Moment - It has been my experience that life can change in a moment. When things are good, I savor them thoroughly, because I know they might change. When things are bad, I don't despair because I know they will not stay bad.

I have also been learning to live in the moment. I have struggled in the past with thinking of all the things I should be doing with the result that no matter what I was doing at the time, I thought I should be doing something else. I never felt accomplished or satisfied because there was so much more to do. My husband has worked hard at teaching me to enjoy the process. When I am working on something, I am trying to give myself permission to concentrate on it, focus so that I can do a good job, enjoy the process and take a moment or two to bask in the satisfaction of a job done well. I get at least as much done as I did before, and probably more because it takes a lot of time to stress and worry!

The best moment is still to come! "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52)

Finish - When I am finished with my life, I want my Savior to be able to say "Well done, good and faithful servant." I have a problem with finishing things, though. I'm much better at beginning. I begin a story, a diet, an exercise program, a garden - but too often I'm on to the next beginning, before I finish the preceding one. I guess learning to live in the moment will help with that.

Sound - I have discovered that I am very sensitive to sound. People's voices either soothe or grate. I don't make judgments about people because of their appearance. But I've been known to do it because of their voices. My boys used to complain because my ears are so sensitive they felt like they got in trouble just for talking. I felt like they were re-enacting WWII in my living room. Luckily that's what they make "outside," where boys should be, for! (Having said that, though, I really love the sound of my sons' voices). My ears physically hurt if sound is too loud. I speak very softly. I get in trouble all the time because people can't hear me. When I try to talk loudly, or I get mad and yell, it hurts my throat. My favorite sound is my husband's voice.

Carry - I loved carrying my babies. I mean after they were born, carrying them in my arms. I didn't want to use a baby carrier. I wanted to be the baby carrier. I did use a snugglie so they'd be right there even when I needed to be hands-free. When I had two babies a year apart, I would carry one on each hip to balance them out, or one on my back and one on my front. I loved the feel of them, little living bean bags, warm, fragrant, cuddly bundles of love.

Fact - I am not an overly emotional person. Not most of the time anyway. I'm pretty pragmatic and just kind of deal with what is, rather than moaning about how I wish it was. There are blessings to be found in just about everything, if I look for them. So I like facts. That's why I'm a Christian. When I look at the facts they all point to the word of God being True, just like Jesus says it is. Truth and fact are not exactly the same thing, but something can't be true and not be a fact. Now granted sometimes it doesn't seem that way. It can be a very hard truth, counter-intuitive or hard to understand. People say that's where faith comes in and they are right, but not for the reasons a lot of people think. It isn't that you have to have faith because something isn't true, but because it is and you can't see it. It is pointless to have faith in something that isn't true, and that's a fact! "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Evidence, not just wishes. I have studied the Bible all my life and I've verified enough of it as fact that I can confidently have faith that the parts I don't understand are true.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Patrick Swayze, Dirty Dancing and My Friend Heather

I was so sorry to hear that Patrick Swayze died. I loved to watch him dance. We watched Dirty Dancing for the first time in its entirety a few weeks ago. (I'd seen snippets on t.v. before). I wasn't at all sure it would be our kind of movie, but it was actually pretty good. I especially enjoyed, what else, the dancing! I went to school with one of the dancers and was very close friends with her sister, Julie, in middle school. Her name is Heather Gerdes and I met her when she was a 7th grader with waist length hair. I spent time with her talented family, even went to their rehearsal and a recital once, so I guess I "knew her when." She was featured quite a bit, even dancing briefly with Patrick Swayze at one point. I knew she'd gone all over the world to teach dance and do choreography after the movie came out. I found a bio of her here. Apparently she's a script supervisor now. We enjoyed the movie much more than we expected we would, and I was impressed with how often she was shown. I thought I might post about it some time, but then when I heard that Patrick Swayze had died, I decided to pay tribute to him as well. I knew him only as an actor and dancer, but my heart goes out to his family and friends who really knew him as a person.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ode to Bread (and Lawry's!)

I love to make bread of all kinds. It is so much heartier and more flavorful then store bought. It has texture and substance and it smells wonderful. Plus it is fun to make. I used to do all of my bread making completely by hand. Kneading large balls of dough for up to 10 minutes at a time is quite a workout! At some point, my husband used his entire bonus to buy me a top of the line Kitchen Aid stand mixer with a bread hook and large bowl with my name engraved on it! It became my new best friend.

Sometimes I make just loaves of plain, white bread, transformed by being hot, crusty and fresh. Whole wheat and grains of various kinds make a hearty bread that is practically a meal unto itself. Cinnamon-brown sugar raisin bread is more of a dessert than a staple. I make my own pizza crust, too. But I think maybe my favorite is garlic bread! First I make two long loaves of French bread. I mix and knead the dough in my amazing mixer, let it rise for an hour, then punch it down and form it in to loaves. After it rises some more, I pop it in the oven until it is golden.
Then for garlic bread, I would mix Lawry's Garlic Spread with a stick of margarine, heating them both until they melted. Cutting the slightly cooled bread down the middle, and then across the sides into pieces, I would carefully spoon the hot mixture on to the individual pieces and after it soaked down in to the bread, back in the oven it went to crisp up a bit. Unbelievably good with spaghetti and meatballs, this bread was a major hit in my house. It was good with salad the next day, too!
But then Lawry's stopped carrying the spread. Yikes! What to do, what to do. I tried just using the minced garlic mix they sell in jars, but that didn't have the right texture because of the bits of garlic in the oil. I started making Parmesan Garlic Breadsticks, and they were very good, but not as good as our former bread. Finally, a tad discouraged, I resorted to just having store-bought bread with butter while I gave it some thought. But this past week in the grocery, my husband decided to try to find something else that might do. And lo and behold, he discovered four jars of Lawry's Garlic Spread! Naturally we bought all four! We are hoping very much that Lawry's saw the error of their ways and decided to begin making the spread again, but one can't be too careful. But for now, I have my spread; so tonight is spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread! The sauce is homemade and simmers in the crockpot all day. The meatballs (yes, of course, from scratch!) are in the oven as we speak. The french bread is rising. Later I will boil the noodles (no, I did not make them myself, although some day I intend to try). A few veggies or a salad and we have a winner! Here, have a cyber bite!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sunset Beach

This past weekend, we headed out to the beach for a sunset stroll. We've been going about once a week since spring and it is a highlight of the week. As soon as we step out on to the sand, I can feel my blood pressure going down a few notches. Taking a deep breath of the salty brine, we walk along the shore, seeming to keep pace with all manner of boats skimming across the bay. There are sailboats, yachts, Coast Guard cutters, barges, speedboats, Sunset Cruise boats, and many more.
My honey holds my hand, making sure I don't trip on driftwood, leaving me free to gaze clear to the horizon. Mullet jump while seagulls, herons, and other sea birds wheel and dive, their raucous cries filling the air. Often the tide is low, leaving tide pools to explore, full of baby horseshoe crabs, starfish and living shells. Often we will spot a dolphin swimming parallel to the shore fishing for dinner.
Lots of people come to fish for dinner as well, some with poles and some with nets. Others paddle kayaks and canoes, swim, look for shells, fly kites, sail, walk, and picnic. Sometimes the sky is clear and blue, with blazing sun; other days storms blow in, stirring up the waves in to froth and making interesting patterns with the clouds.
When the sun gets low enough, all eyes turn to see what colors it will bring this time. Sometimes it is delicate, pale pastels, edging the clouds and turning the sand pink where the tide has filled little pools on the shore. Other nights it is a bold orange and melts like butter down in to the sea. We watch in awe until the last bit of color is gone, then turn toward the magnificent moonrise to head home, sleepy and content with the beauty God has provided.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Knights and Door Knobs

My youngest son spent the long weekend in Ocala at a King's Coronation, as well as Carnivale. The Society for Creative Anachronism crowned the King of Trimaris and celebrated the new Queen's birthday. The SCA (linked here) basically is about all things medieval. Every winter there is a Medieval Faire, (where jousting is my favorite activity) - this is an extended version. Everyone dresses in period garb, and people feast, ride really big horses, dance at a Masque, have sword and rapier fights and tournaments, shop in booths full of handmade items, learn juggling, archery and knife throwing, and play a wild game of living chess. A very fine way to spend a weekend!

Meanwhile, hubby and I shopped at Lowe's for doorknobs and deadbolts. We were about to settle for the cheapie knobs when, in the ta-da, nick of time, we discovered an amazing sale on really primo ones. They had been $60 a piece, but because that brand is being discontinued in this store, they were going for $7.50 each. The "cheapie" ones we had been prepared to buy were $8.50! So we did good. These are heavy, solid brass, and very classy. Not to mention how much easier they were to install, according to hubby. Often Lowe's has clearance sales of unbelievable proportions, esp. on Sundays.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September is Back and So Am I

I thank you for your kindness in bearing with me, after what may have seemed like a melodramatic statement when I posted last. I wrote it in the impulsive aftermath of an emotional night. My dislike of August has nothing whatsoever to do with the weather, but with a deep sorrow. After all these years I had thought it would not be so sharp. Indeed I get through some Augusts almost unscathed. Other years I am blindsided by what amounts to a tsunami through my heart. I would have liked to say a tsunami of my soul because to my writer's ear it sounds better. But I cannot because despite my pain, God has kept my soul firmly in His grasp. But as anyone who has a hidden sorrow - and I am beginning to think that is all of us - I needed a time of solitude and renewal. Prayer and Scripture, physical activity and creative endeavors have helped me with my grief. After all, God says precious in His sight are the death of His holy ones. We who are yet clothed in weak flesh need sometimes to rediscover that death is not the end of life.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I Hate August!

I will see you all in September.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Mother of the Groom is Back!

We are back from the most beautiful wedding I've ever attended. Visually, it was stunning, but I am talking about content here. There were opportunities to praise God together for blessing this young couple; the vows they wrote spoke of love being a commitment, not just an emotion; they had communion together and received a blessing on their marriage, as well as admonishment on what God expected of them according to scripture; and their care of and concern for their many guests was heart-warming.

When the cake was cut, they fed each other very gently, which I thought was sweet. (I was told that this ceremony symbolizes trusting each other and taking care of each other).
Since the groom is 6' 5" and the bride is 5' 2" the couple's first dance was a source of amusement, but it was also really sweet, and they looked tremendously happy together.
Then came the part where the mother of the groom (that would be me) dances with her baby boy. I thought I would be nervous, but once I was looking (wwwaaayyy up) in to my son's shining eyes, I forgot anyone else was in the room. I couldn't help thinking of when I used to stand him on my feet to dance, or later, when he was about 6 and loved to be a little gentleman and dance with me in the kitchen. I have to say I enjoyed this time thoroughly even if I can't dance - it just didn't matter. I got in a nice hug after, too.

Some of the wedding party managed to sneak out and adorn the car and the honeymooners left for the Canadian Rockies.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tomorrow Is Another Day

"Our car broke down. After bumming rides everywhere for weeks, we had a mechanic come here and he put in a new starter - but the old one broke teeth off the flywheel so it's a pain to start and it cost plenty! It dies all the time.

Our washer broke down, for the third time in 3 months, with the same problem each time - and all the Sears people do is bug me about getting a maintenance agreement. If they'd just fix the thing right, I wouldn't need a maintenance agreement!

Our plumber-friend fixed our toilet so it wouldn't leak out the bottom and now it's leaking somewhere else. He told us someone needs to take it out and shoot it. He spent all afternoon putting in new valves in the shower and tub (he had to cut a hole in the wall) and when he got it all in, it shot water out because there is a pinhole, and it has to all be taken out and returned, exchanged and put back in again. But he can't do it until Monday, then we have to take it back Tuesday and he'll replace it Tuesday night. Monday is also when my washer guy is coming, as well as when the week of Vacation Bible School begins (I teach). Also the tax job came in so hubby will have to work long hours. He had to work today, his day off, (fixing the ROOF at the shop!!!) and also get our flat tire fixed, so he came home with a headache, but then had to help the plumber all afternoon, so he had a migraine when the plumber left, and it was also too late to go to the grocery, so we can't go to church tomorrow, because no one can take a shower and we have no food. We had to call people to see if they were willing to cover for us by teaching two classes, passing out materials for Sunday School, doing the attendance stuff for all the classes, rescheduling a meeting. The fan is shooting flames out the back. The tape player ate a Bible tape and ruined the player. Our son broke the key off in the front door lock while I waited on the step with groceries. I had a nightmare, cut my finger and punctured my hand with an ice pick. To top it all off the wood in the back of my chair broke so my bottom sinks way down and my knees are even with my nose."

I was going through some things and found this journal entry from at least 20 years ago. Even though it probably didn't seem funny at the time I wrote it, it sure made me laugh when I read it today. What a bad week we were having! But everything turned out ok in the long run and we got through it. Other problems have been far more serious, devastating even, and God brought us through those as well. As a veteran camper, I really relate to the verse about God's Word being a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). One time we were camping at a place that was over-run with armadillos. They are pretty cool, prehistoric looking little beasties by day, but trust me, you don't want to step on one in the dark of night. We had a little lantern, and if we held it just right, it would illuminate the spot where we were about to step. We had no idea what might be outside of that spot, but we knew that for that one step, we were not going to tread on any armadillos. So often that is how God leads us. One step at a time and no idea what else is out there, threatening or beckoning. I don't know what the future holds, but I sure know Who holds the future.

I will be out of the loop for a few weeks, what with vacation and my son's wedding and good stuff like that. But I know not everyone has things to celebrate right now, and that there is a lot of unhappiness and uneasiness. I thought I would leave you with this thought.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jer 29:11 (NIV)
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5&6

Monday, June 29, 2009

School Daze

Why, you might ask, would someone who loves to learn as much as I always have, hate first grade so much? But I despised it.

I went to 6 schools in my 12 years, 4 of them in the first 5 grades. But that didn't affect first grade, of course. I suppose I was too young emotionally to handle the full days, though. Usually children begin with half-days in Kindergarten, and so far I was no exception. But my afternoon Kindergarten classes lasted a grand total of 2 weeks. Ten sleepy afternoons, following swimming lessons, a few teenage girls attempted to acquaint my wide-eyed classmates and me with the foreign concepts of sitting quietly in our chairs until called upon, raising our hands to speak, and writing our names on simple coloring pages. There may also have been singing. I only wanted a nap. Then, at the tender age of 5, I began the full days of first grade. But the work was no problem. Upon hearing that I was to go to school, I insisted on being taught to read. I felt it would be the height of embarrassment to show up at school unable even to read. I was highly motivated - my mother says I learned by osmosis.

Unfortunately being able to read actually became an obstacle to my happiness in school, however, because the other kids were constantly asking me questions, for which answers I would incur the wrath of the teacher. And the teacher was my real problem. I was positively terrified of her. In this particular school there were known to be 2 first grade teachers - the nice one and the mean one. In what was to become an unfortunate pattern in my school life, I got the mean one. I was only slightly apprehensive because I tend to get along easily with people and I felt perhaps she'd been misunderstood. Alas, she had not.

I can't honestly say I was singled out for her sharp words. I don't recall her liking any of us. We all got in trouble if we talked; but it didn't matter why. When confused classmates whispered desperate pleas for help and I tried to explain something, we both were called down sharply. Finally I learned to put my head on my desk when I had completed my work, shutting out the whispers and the tugs on my shirtsleeves.

The constantly sour attitude and sharp rebukes made me nervous enough, but had it ended there I might have adjusted. One day something occurred that cemented my fear and made every day an anticipation of disaster. We were finally at lunch, to be followed by recess - every child's favorite part of the school day. My friend and I were at the back of the lunchline, which was very long and very slow, and we began looking around us, and fell to daydreaming. Something brought my eyes back around to my friend, and with a start I realized the line had long since left us behind and we were standing alone near the door we came in at. "Go!" I commanded my friend, giving her a little push to emphasize my words.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, seeing how far back we were, and she hurried forward. As I lifted my foot to follow her, I was suddenly snatched up by both shoulders and shaken very hard. My head flew back and forth, tender baby teeth clashing together, feeling much like I imagine a field mouse must when an owl snatches it from the ground. As the violence of the shaking diminished, I could see the angry face of my teacher close to my own frightened one. "Don't push people," she screamed. Eyes wide with shock, I attempted to sputter out an explanation. Unfortunately I began with the words, "I wasn't-" and before I could get another word out, the shaking began again, much harder than before, as she yelled furiously that I was not to lie to her! "Ok," I gasped and she released me. I stumbled forward to get my lunch, stunned and rattled. Leaving as quickly as I could to go to recess, I discovered that the treasured plaything I had carefully placed in the toy cubby had been absconded with. Discouraged and unhappy, but afraid to complain, I went and sat under a tree. My mother was furious when I told her what had happened, and she tried in vain to get me transferred to the other class. She did discover that my teacher was very ill and that's why she was so tense.

Following closely on the heels of this incident was another, adding to the feeling of uneasiness because of the unnerving quality of it. I was sitting in reading circle with the sun streaming in, a little sleepy with the dull business of listening to other first graders stammer out their reading lesson. Suddenly the quiet was shattered by a shy, timid girl, who leaped to her feet, screaming. She danced frantically, slapping at herself and emitting little shrieks while we all watched in horrified fascination. The teacher rushed to the girl's side, trying to discover the problem. Just as she reached her, the girl burst in to tears and the teacher hustled her out of the room. We all stared in amazement at one another, totally at a loss as to what had just occurred. We were later informed that the girl had been stung by a bee that got inside her sweater. This episode did not make me fear bees, but my fear of my teacher became a bit mythical as I associated her with the bizarre episode.

One weary, dreary Monday morning, I dragged unwillingly in to school, weighted down by a very large, heavy cast on my aching arm, shattered in 3 places in an unfortunate incident at the Jaycees picnic over the weekend. It was my right arm, too, so all the careful work I'd done so far in learning to write had been completely undone. When I arrived, it was not my teacher who waited for me. We had a substitute, a very pleasant looking lady named Mrs. Whited. She explained that our teacher was going to be out for some weeks due to surgery and recovery, and she, Mrs. Whited, would fill her place as best she could. While feeling sympathy for the sick teacher, I can't say I was sorry to have relief from the constant dread of the school day. Mrs. Whited was as pleasant as she looked and I thrived under her smile like a flower in the sun. She was patient with me when I had trouble doing my work because of my broken arm, and she laughed when she found that rather than raising my hand for attention, I was just resting my heavy cast on the back of my chair. We got along famously. The crowning touch was the school-wide Student of the Month competition. I craved going forward in assembly in front of the entire school to receive the certificate and accolades given to the favored student. But our teachers had to nominate us. I had given up hoping, so I was genuinely surprised when my name was called. I went forward, beaming, and saw my new favorite teacher beaming back. Not long after that our regular teacher returned. Everyone in the class mobbed her to say welcome back. Well, everyone except me. I was over with Mrs. Whited having a tearful farewell.

There wasn't much of the school year left by this time, and perhaps our teacher was feeling better after her surgery, because there were no more particular incidents. As long as we stayed silent, and didn't complain at recess about the bullies, things weren't too bad. We even had an art project one day, and I enjoyed it so much that I remember it still. The owl I made is preserved as magnificent in my memory, the actual work of art not having survived to contradict my visions of grandeur. The owl art project done on black paper was the single good memory I had with that first grade teacher. She was almost nice to me that day! I've had a fondness for owls ever since.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Update on Gates

My friend, Karrie, continues to post here about the adoption of her little son from China. After many obstacles, Paul is in China right now, patiently plodding through all the many steps of officially adopting his son. They have a Skype account set up, so Karrie can see her new son as he plays. He's adorable! She asks for continued prayer for the process, the trip home, and Gates' acclimation to his new family. Thank you all for your interest and prayers.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Are Bugs Pretty?

No one thinks flies are pretty?! I'm shocked. I mean, look at the little guy, with his huge red goggles, his shimmery blue-green hide, and his little hook to hold on with! Though, to be honest, if he had been on my kitchen counter I'd of whacked him without a second thought. For me the demarcation line is inside versus outside. I've always been an outdoors girl, and I marvel at the beauty of all kinds of unusual things. Snakes, for instance. My mom says there's something heathenish about my fascination with snakes. But have you ever really looked at, say, a coral snake? They are really gorgeous. We have large indigo snakes here too. Once my young son was leaning against a tree by the pond and felt something on his leg. He looked down and there was a 5-ft. indigo climbing him! He did a frantic little panic dance and the startled snake dropped off. Evidently he'd never seen a tree behave like that.

I find many spiders and other unpopular creatures to be beautiful too. My sister and I loved ants when we were little and were always trying to make homemade ant farms, with moats around them. An awful lot of ants drowned themselves rather than stay with us! Maybe it's from growing up in Florida where you either get used to things or stay nervous a lot. We always did a lot of camping, so when we went swimming or canoeing, it was usually in a pond or lake, and there were often alligators nearby. Mostly they leave you alone, especially if no one has been feeding them. Unless they've been fed, alligators are pretty shy of people. I did get to swim with a manatee once, back before it was illegal to touch them. They have hides like elephants and faces only a mother could love. We have oodles of lizards and frogs. We watched quite a drama in our bathroom window one day. We heard what sounded like a girl screaming and ran to find the source. There were 3 frogs on the outside of the screen, but there was the glass of the window kind of trapping them. They were what was screaming! A snake was crawling up the screen, wanting to eat them. While he was trying to pick out the juiciest looking frog, a tiny spider started sidling sideways toward him, ever so slowly. Finally he reached the snake's head, climbed on and bit him right between the eyes! The snake jerked, then fell from the window. So the little spider saved all those frogs! Sort of made me think of the story of the mouse saving the lion.

I love watching all the little dramas unfold as long as the creatures are outside where they belong. Even birds, which are so beautiful and fascinating flying free, I've had no luck with inside. Once we had a parakeet named Midnight. It was basically psychotic. I figure it was because it was caged. Another time we came home to find a peach-faced lovebird clinging to our screen door. Someone's pet that had escaped, we thought at first. My son made a pet of it, and at first it was adorable. It would sit on his head and sing and act all innocent. Soon, though, it became an attack bird, refusing to allow anyone in to his bedroom except him - and then, it turned on him too. We came to realize that it had probably been booted out by it's original owner in self-defense! I use to like squirrels, too. Until one got down inside our bedroom wall! So, if any bugs could read this, the moral of the story would be - stay out of my house! The bugs in the pictures I posted were all found outside and left to live and let live, except the red and black one that I trapped in my kitchen! He was left in a jar to be admired until he expired.

(This was first posted when I began blogging a year and a half ago; Dishy's post about her daughter's little fly friend reminded me of this, so since almost no one was reading back then, I thought I could re-post it without boring anyone too much. All of these photos were taken outside of my house (the jar one was inside).

Monday, June 8, 2009

For Your Amusement...

(I've had this skit script since we performed it as a radio play in high school, and thought you'd enjoy it. I did not write it but it is possible that -
the author of the skit is a semi-retired pastor by
the name of Warren W. Wiersbe of Lincoln, Nebraska. He wrote it decades
ago while a youth worker with Youth For Christ. It tells about it in his
autobiography, "Be Myself." He's written about 100 books and been on
radio for years.
I haven't been able to confirm that yet. It is pure silliness and very "punny." Enjoy the melodrama!)


Announcer: The makers of Fatrical present (MUSIC) –Frontier Mortician…

Are you skinny and run down? Are you so thin you have to wear skies in the bathtub to keep from going down the drain? When you turn sideways and stick out your tongue, do you look like a zipper? When you drink strawberry pop, do you look like a thermometer? Then you need Fatrical—the drink that adds weight to you. Fatrical is not a capsule, it is not a solid, it is not a liquid—it’s a gas that you inhale. Fatrical comes in one delicious gas flavor—mustard. It costs only $4.95 a case, and the equipment for inhaling it costs only $5,678. This includes a 10,000 cubit foot tank, 300 feet of hose, three pumps, two filter tips, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Now for our story—Trigger Mortis, Frontier Mortician. The scene opens in the residence of Sam Alamode, wealthy rancher and owner of the Bar B Q ranch in Sparerib, Texas. Sam is dying and is talking to his lovely daughter Piney Alamode, whom he lovingly calls Pie…
Sam: Pie, honey, I’m dying again. Go call Trigger Mortis, the frontier mortician. Have hearse, will travel.
Pie: What’s wrong with you, daddy? What’s your ailment?
Sam: I swallowed the thermometer and I’m dying by degrees.
Pie: I’ll go call Trigger Mortis right now…
Announcer: Unknown to Sam Alamode, his head foreman, Joe Silver, is hiding outside listening to the conversation. He’s a full-bloodied Indian. And Sam always called him his faithful Indian companion, Silver. Sam doesn’t hear Joe speak…
Joe: Let old Sam die. I wish he would. Then I can get the ranch and be set for life. He’s always got some fool disease. Last week he swallowed a dynamite cap and his hair came out in bangs. Before that he swallowed a hydrogen bomb and had atomic ache. He’s suffering from flower disease—he’s a blooming idiot. Hey—here comes Pie Alamode’s stupid boyfriend, Arnie…Poor kid…he’s an orphan…little orphan Arnie. I’ll just sneak away…
Arnie: I haven’t seen my girlfriend Pie Alamode for two weeks. Boy, she has lovely eyes—one is brown and the other two are blue. Last time she rolled her eyes at me, and I picked them up and rolled them back. I remember the first time she kissed me…it made chills go up and down my spine…then I found out her popsicle was leaking. I’ll knock at the door. (KNOCKS)
Pie: Who is it?
Arnie: It’s me, honey—and I call you honey ‘cause you have hives.
Pie: Oh, my cookie…and I call you cookie because you’re so crummy.
Announcer: We interrupt this love scene to bring you a message from Peter Pan makeup. Use Peter Pan before your pan peters out. This is the makeup used by the stars—Lassie, Gentle Ben, and Phyllis Diller. Listen to this letter from Mrs. Mergatroid Fluglehorn from Liverlip, Mississippi. “My face was so wrinkled I had to screw my hat on. Then I used Peter Pan makeup and I don’t look like an old woman anymore—I look like an old man. I had my wrinkles tightened up, and now every time I raise my eyebrows, I pull my socks up. I give all the credit to Peter Pan.” You can be beautiful, too…Now back to Frontier Mortician. Trigger Mortis, the frontier mortician, is answering his telephone…
Trig: Oh, it’s you, Miss Pie Alamode…You want me to come to see your father? Well, my hearse has been giving me trouble—I think I blew a casket. I’ve got to quit using embalming fluid in the gas tank, because the motor keeps dying. Yes…yes…well, I have to finish my breakfast. I’m eating Shrouded Wheat and Ghost Toasties…Well, I’ll hurry right out. Goodbye – I must be shoveling off.
Announcer: Pie Alamode hangs up and goes to meet her lover, little orphan Arnie, in their favorite meeting place…the family graveyard.
Pie: It’s so romantic here in the graveyard. There’s the grave of my Uncle Earnest. Look…there are some maggots courting in dead earnest.
Arnie: Darling, may I have your hand in marriage?
Pie: My hand? Oh yes! In fact, you can have my arm, too.
Arnie: Here, I’ll put this ring on your finger.
Pie: Awwww, your face is turning red.
Arnie: yeah, and your finger’s turning green…after all, we’ve been going together for twelve years now.
Pie: So what do you want—a pension? Let’s do tell my father.
Announcer: This program is brought to you by the Double Insanity Insurance Company. Mothers, do you have children? Then protect them with a double deal policy. We pay $100.00 if your son is killed by a herd of white elephants going east on Thursday. If you lose an arm, we help you look for it. If you get hit in the head, we pay you in one lump sum. We have a double indemnity clause, too. If you die in an accident, we bury you twice. Now, a report from the National Safety Council. It is predicted that 356 people will die in accidents this weekend. So far only 135 have been reported. Some of you aren’t trying. Now back to our story. Joe Silver is plotting to kidnap Pie Alamode and hold her for ransom. He thinks Sam Alamode is dying, but he really isn’t. Trigger Mortis, frontier mortician, is on his way to the ranch…
Trig: Well, here I am. When you are at death’s door, I will pull you through.
Sam: Good to see you, Trigger…Can you give me a good funeral?
Trig: I’ll give you a good funeral or your mummy back. Could I interest you in our new layaway plan?
Sam: I’m a sick man, a sick man. The doctor told me to drink some medicine after a hot bath, and I can hardly finish drinking the bath.
Trig: You need some of my Whistler’s Mother medicine – one dose and you’re off your rocker.
Sam: Trigger, I can trust you, can’t I?
Trig: Of corpse, of corpse…have I ever let you down?
Sam: I don’t trust my faithful Indian companion, Silver. He has a sneaky look.
Trig: I happen to know, Sam, that Joe Silver wants to kidnap your daughter and keep her from marrying little orphan Arnie.
Sam: Trigger, we gotta do something. Think of a plan.
Announcer: Will Trigger Mortis think of a plan? While he thinks, here’s a word from Honest John Pendergast, the used car dealer. Honest John has bargains in used cars that you can’t afford to miss. Here’s an 1887 Essex—this is a revolutionary car—Washington drove it at Valley Forge. The tires are so beat that you not only knock the pedestrians down, you whip them to death. This car has low lines—in fact, it’s so low it doesn’t have doors—it has manhole covers. This program is also brought to you by Glum, the toothpaste that gives your bad breath the Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Are your teeth like the Ten Commandments--all broken? Do you have a Pullman car mouth—one upper and one lower? Then use Glum…Glum contains eucalyptus oil, flown in from Australia…this eucalyptus oil is the secret of Glum. Millions of users say, “Man, you Clipt us.” Be true to your teeth and they will never be false to you. Now, back to Frontier Mortician. Sam, Pie, Arnie, and Trigger Mortis are trying to figure out how to get rid of Joe Silver.
Sam: I have a splitting headache.
Trig: Have your eyes ever been checked?
Sam: No, they’ve always been blue. Trigger, why don’t we put Joe in one of your coffins and ship him out of the state?
Trig: A tisket, a tasket, I’ll put him in a casket. I was in love once, so I know what Arnie and Pie are going through.
Pie: You were in love?
Trig: Yes. I was stuck on a girl who worked in the glue factory. She had a schoolgirl complexion…with diplomas under her eyes. Her lips were like petals—bicycle pedals. Those lips…those teeth…that hair…that eye…
Arnie: Hey—here comes Joe Silver. Get your coffin ready, Trigger.
Pie: Daddy, lie on the bed and act like you’re dead.
Announcer: Sam lies on the bed and holds his breath. Trigger takes off his shoes and everybody holds their breath. At this breathless moment, we bring you the daily police calls. Calling car 15, calling car 15—Happy Birthday, car 15, you’re now car 16. Car 56, Car 56, rush to the Bungling Brother’s Circus. The fat woman has hay fever and is crying so much three midgets are about to drown. Car 23, car 23—return the 10-gallon hat bought for the mayor. He has an 11-gallon head. Car 19, go to the corner of 6th and Main. The Chinese cook has just committed chop sueycide. Back to the story…Joe Silver enters Sam’s bedroom as the other people hide.
Joe: So I finally caught you, you scoundrel. You’ve cut my check so many times I have to endorse it with Mercurochrome. I want to marry your daughter, Sam, and nobody’s gonna stop me. Sure, I’m tough…I’ve been sent up the river so many times I get fan mail from the salmon. The last time they caught me I got ten years in jail and two in the electric chair. Even when I was a baby people were pinning things on me. Now, I’m gonna get you.
Sam: Get him, Arnie.
Trig: Quick, I have the casket opened. Push him, Arnie.
Joe: Help! Help! You’re pushing me! (MUFFLED SOUNDS)
Trig: That takes care of him. Now I have to run for a body. A fellow in town swallowed a quart of shellac and died. He had a lovely finish.
Arnie: How can we thank you? You’ll come to the wedding, won’t you?
Trig: Yes, I plan to give you a tombstone for a present, but don’t take it for granite.
Sam: Thanks, Trig. By the way, stop over and we’ll play golf someday.
Trig: Don’t ever play golf with an undertaker—he’s always on top at the last hole.
Arnie: Now we’re alone, Pie, my love. Someday you’ll have my name.
Pie: I never did find out—what is your last name, Arnie?
Arnie: My name is Arnie R. Square.
Pie: What a lovely name I’ll have…Mrs. Pie R. Square.
Announcer: And as the sun sinks slowly in the west, we leave the lovers as they plan their future. Tune in tomorrow for a new adventure, brought to you by Bleeties, the cereal for old goats. Bleeties contains 55% iron, 22% copper, 78% steel, 14% bronze and 11% zinc. It doesn’t snap, crackle or pop—it just lies there and rusts. Bleeties isn’t the breakfast of champions—it’s for people who just want to get into the semi-finals. In closing, be sure to visit your local dime store where they’re having a monster sale. Haven’t you always wanted to own your own monster? We have vampires at special prices and they‘re excellent for curing tired blood! These are experienced vampires who all worked as tellers in blood banks. Now, tune in tomorrow for the first episode of the new story, “I Was a Teen-Age Spinster,” brought to you by the gardener’s magazine, Weeder’s Digest.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Happy (Slightly Late) Birthday, Youngest Son!

Twenty years ago last Sunday our much-anticipated youngest son arrived. Fun-loving from the start, he has also loved books apparently since birth, and is very well read. He used to enjoy acting, doing all the different accents spot on. He has always been fond of the water, swimming and boating, and playing soccer. He is a graphic artist volunteering in missions work. He can play a mean game of pool, since he is ambidextrous, but is also formidable at Chess, good at both offense and defense in the same game. Sometimes I wonder if his mind is also ambidextrous! He's talented, fun-loving, cheerful, serious, a great conversationalist, intelligent and a joy to his family.

I would have wished him a Happy Birthday earlier, but I'm having a little trouble with the concept of having no more teenagers. I keep having this dream where I am walking down a long, winding path, pushing my youngest son in a stroller. As we walk, he grows, until when we finally reach our destination he is a grown man, crouched in the stroller glowering at me, angry because I won't let him out. Of course, we all know what that means - time for grandchildren!

Seriously, though, I do wish him a Happy Manhood and since he's just as cool as he always was, I'm sure I shall enjoy this phase of our lives as well!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Gates Waits

A close friend of mine is in the endless process of adopting a child, nicknamed Gates, from China. The paperwork and red tape has been relentless, and now, at zero hour, the swine flu has thrown another huge cog in the wheel. Karrie could really use your prayers and support. I am linking to her blog here if you would like to read about her struggle and her beautiful, waiting child.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bolivian Flute Music

We had a lovely evening the other night. We were invited to an intimate little gathering at the Ten Thousand Villages boutique to hear a Bolivian pan flute musician named Efrain (pronounced Eee.fra-in). There were 15 of us scattered at little tables around the transformed shop. Lights were dim and cozy, textiles and tapestries softened the walls and ceiling, and incense wafted through the still air. My husband found a little rattan love seat that we could snuggle on to enjoy the beautiful music.

Efrain, a native of Bolivia, had long, jet-black hair and traditional, colorful dress. He played a mix of traditional folk music, self-composed instrumentals, and Christian songs such as On My Knees by Jacqui Velasquez, and El Shaddai. In between the songs, he spoke of growing up in a small village, his early love of music, and his journey toward playing music professionally. Eventually, he developed a deep faith in Jesus Christ and a ministry to be a witness to Him through his music.

There was an intermission featuring a variety of fruit, a chocolate fountain, coffee and cheescake. We all had a chance to chat with Efrain as well. We learned that he made all his own instruments, which included quite a mix of flutes. He innovated a finer bamboo mouthpiece for the pan flute, made single bamboo flutes and even aluminum flutes. He also showed us other instruments, like a 10-string one that resembled a ukelele. Efrain has played concerts all over the world, in venues small and (very) large. We were very priviliged to enjoy such a special concert. Thank you, Melody, of He, She and Me, for hosting the event!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Just Stuff

I had a splendid Mother's Day! First and foremost, all three of our "boys" (who are really men, but hey, I'm a Mom and they'll always be my boys), came over. We had a wonderful visit, both all together, and individually. We always have a great time when we get together, with lots of conversation and laughter. Then I always enjoy them individually as well. They are so unique and endlessly interesting. Our oldest son had Engagement photos to show us, that were just wonderful. I am putting my order in for several! He also gave me texting lessons, since I didn't have a clue. I'm really bad at it, as it turns out, but at least now I understand how to do it! You never know when I might need that information, and I appreciate the patient lessons. Then we had a good talk, which is a rare treat these days. I am so gonna miss him when he moves away to begin his married life.

Our middle son brought me some beautiful plants that I am so excited about! One is a Dipladenia, which I have been wanting for years, with big, pink, trumpet-shaped flowers. We got it planted yesterday, right where I can see it from the kitchen and back porch. There's another one with pretty, yellow flowers; I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it's beautiful. I love plants with yellow flowers. They are always just like sunshine. Hubby is making a special place for me to plant it in front of lattice. He (son) even brought a little pot of red gerbera daisies, that I'm keeping in my kitchen. They are so cheerful! He was the recipient of my practice texts, as well, and exhibited great patience with my silly messages. He is such a generous man.

Our youngest brought some beautiful Nepalese pottery. You light a candle in the bottom, and the little bowl in the top holds a scented cube (White Chocolate Berries! Smells heavenly). It went straight in to my new bathroom, for use during a leisurely bath. He was his usual cheerful, thoughtful self, which I find a very pleasant combination!

I am so proud of our boys, they are strong, sweet, intelligent, funny, amazing Christian men, and I love 'em to pieces. I am very happy and proud to be their Mother. I also enjoyed spending time with my own mother and my mother in law, both of whom I am cherishing more as the time with them grows shorter.

Thanks be to God, it is finally raining! It has been so, so dry. Spring is always dry, but they are saying this was the driest spring in 75 years, and everything has been screaming for rain. There have been such terrible fires, including the one above, behind the golf course and near the Nature Center, a few miles from our house. Roads have been closed, including major ones like Alligator Alley, which is the preferred route from the west coast to the east. Recently, when we were watering our poor, thirsty plants, hubby started noticing movement from every direction. To our amazement, small lizards began running over, along and beneath the fence, straight to the water. They were licking it off leaves and out of small puddles, and there were dozens of them. We've never seen that before! The summer rains are quite early this year, and we are very grateful. During the hot, humid days, the clouds gradually begin to build up larger and darker in the sky, until, with an impressive roll of thunder, the wind freshens and the rains come pouring down. I love storms, and I love the huge, fluffy clouds; I would be quite content in heaven just to float around on my own, special cloud for a few thousand years. For now, I'm content to watch them rolling lazily along above me, bringing the promise of much needed rain.
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