Thursday, December 27, 2012

Letting Go Of Christmas

I may be the only person in the United States, if not the world, still listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies. I’m enjoying my decorations, too! We seem to be the only family in our neighborhood who turns on the Christmas tree lights at dusk every evening and leaves them on until midnight or later.

I really don’t mind being different.

The build-up to Christmas starts so early. By mid-September, if not sooner, you see trees and other decorations displayed in department stores and a month later, carols are playing, people are shopping and some start decorating – even before Thanksgiving. It goes on and on as the anticipation builds for three months. Shopping, cooking, decorating and getting together with family and friends. Finally, Christmas Day arrives. There’s the opening of presents, a gigantic dinner, friends and relatives stopping by, children's laughter everywhere.

And then, Poof! It’s over! There’s nothing left but a pile of paper, ribbons, and boxes to be discarded. Everyone is worn out and suddenly, all the gaiety and good will are gone. Some people want to get the mess cleaned up as soon as possible and put Christmas behind them.

What a let-down!

I had an e-mail the day after Christmas from my daughter, who lives in North Carolina. “I just want to get my life back to normal,” she said. She had already taken down some of her decorations but was reluctantly leaving her tree up a few days longer just to please her children. She inherited my mother’s “efficiency” gene.

When I was growing up, it was not unusual for my mother to take our tree down and have every trace of Christmas erased by late Christmas night. When the last package was opened, dinner was consumed and the dishes done, Christmas was over as far as she was concerned. I loved visiting my friends whose parents left their trees up until New Year’s Day!

And so... I drag Christmas out as long as possible. I seem to have inherited my grandmother’s “love of Christmas gene.” I don’t know for sure, but heard a rumor that, one year, she left her tree up until the first of March! Her grown children finally threatened to take it down for her if she didn’t do it. She really loved everything to do with Christmas – just like a child.

I don’t believe I’ll ever go that far, but I’m never eager to take the tree down. And when we do, I do it with tears in my eyes. There’s always the fear that it could be the “last” Christmas for me or someone I love.

So, as we approach the third day after the “biggest day of the year,” I’m enjoying Christmas music on the radio and getting ready to watch a Christmas movie. I can hang in there as long as the stations offer holiday fare!

I’m not ready to let go yet.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Don't you love it when you start with a piece of writing so rough you don't think it has a chance of ever making sense, but you change a word here, remove a word there, add a  phrase or two – and suddenly, right before your eyes, it begins to morph into something worthwhile – and your spirits soar!

That's what keeps me writing, I think – the possibility of a beautiful surprise today or tomorrow or somewhere down the road. I’m always waiting, expecting great words to flow effortlessly from my mind and become immortal.

When I was just a child, I used to lie on my bed and write poems and stories. I still have some of them. When I got married, my mother gave me two large boxes that were full of my early writings. My puffed up ego says, "Keep them. Someday you'll be glad you did." But the invisible sprite that sits on my shoulder trying to discourage me, says, "Throw them away. They're worthless!"

I've already reworked some of them and had them published, but many still linger in their original storage boxes, the paper growing brown and crisp from age, waiting, knowing that somewhere among them is that one phrase that will become immortal. Someday.

Ah... how sweet are the hopes and dreams of a writer!

How inflated the ego!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

And So This Is Christmas

And so this is Christmas?

It is now only one week until Christmas. I’m not ready. Many interruptions have prevented me from doing what I need to do. 

I make a list each day of what I’d like to accomplish that day, but at the end of the day, there are things I didn’t get done that have to be moved to the next list. 

I’m not making any headway and I’m getting frustrated!

Christmas is supposed to be fun. Exciting. A time of sharing, a time for loving and giving – but it seems to be more of a chore for me this year than it’s ever been before.

However, in a little more than a week, it’ll all be over. Looking back after a few days, it will seem as though it never was – and hopefully, I will forget how difficult it was. I’ll only remember the good things: getting together with loved ones, the laughs, the delicious foods, the beautiful decorations and, most of all, the reason we celebrate this special season every year – to honor the birth of Baby Jesus.

A few days ago, we all witnessed a terrible tragedy when many children and some adults were shot down by a deranged individual. Some of the children were little more than babies. It was a senseless act. Cruel. Mad!

As I mourn for them and those who loved them, I can’t help but wonder why a loving God allows such atrocious things to happen. As I ponder the situation and try to envision myself in the place of a mother who lost a young child – or even an adult child, I can’t begin to imagine the agony caused by such a horrifying experience.

Tears cloud my eyes. I bow my head and say a prayer for each and every one affected by the tragedy. And I realize that it doesn't matter if I’m on schedule or not. What matters is that I give my very best to this Holy season, cherishing my loved ones and being very thankful for all my blessings.

Who knows what the next year may bring? The next day? Hour? Minute...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Too Young To Die

My son’s best friend died a few days ago.

He was only 55 years old. His problem started with a mole. A tiny brown spot. It didn’t look serious. In fact, it looked so innocent that he didn’t see a doctor right away. Even with much urging from the woman in his life, he resisted. “Please let a doctor look at it just to be sure it isn’t anything to worry about,” she pleaded. But he ignored her.

It’s a mystery to me why men refuse to go for medical help even when it’s possible they have a serious problem. Many illnesses, if caught early, can be stopped in their tracks. But too many men think it’s just not macho to see a doctor with every little pain. Sadly, countless numbers lose their lives because of such foolish beliefs.

Finally, the brown spot wasn’t tiny any more. It grew. And grew. And he realized it was time to give in. After a thorough examination and tests, the doctor said it should be removed. It was done. The growth was very deep as was the incision in his side. The pathology report confirmed their fears that it was melanoma! But doctors said they got it all and he should have no more problems.

And so... he went on with his life, working and playing and caring for the people around him. He had five children and an aging mother who lived nearby. They were a close-knit family.

About a year later, the tiny brown spot reappeared. This time he didn’t wait.

He saw the doctor right away. The news was not good. The melanoma had returned. All the treatments known to man were done but the growth persisted. Bigger and bigger it became. The man was finally told that the cancer had spread to his bones and there was nothing to be done. He had only a few months to live.

The pain was bad and quickly became worse until the only thing that helped was morphine. It hurt to get up, to walk, to sit. It just hurt. Continuously.

As the pain intensified, the doctor prescribed stronger doses of morphine. Finally, he couldn’t stay up. After a short hospital stay, his sister insisted he go to her house to be cared for by her with Hospice assisting. Reluctantly, he complied. After he was settled in, the first person he asked his sister to phone was my son. He wanted to see him right away.

For a couple of months, my son spent every moment he could spare sitting by the bedside of his friend. They talked and laughed about the things they’d done together over the years, and when his sister brought food for her patient, she always brought a plate for his friend, too.

As the time drew near, he slept more and talked less, but my son continued to sit with him all he could.

When he finally passed, only his mother and sister were with him.

Mr. H. and I went to his funeral yesterday. It was sad, like all funerals. But God always provides a good memory to help dim the pain of a very bad one. Thus, I’ll never forget the striking beauty of the dozens of red and white poinsettias that flanked the casket.

The first thing the minister said was, “Fifty-five years old is much too young to die!”

I agree.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Never Again!

I had to stop the world and get off today. I do this a couple of times a year when I work especially hard and wear myself out. After the reason for working so hard is over and I'm not stressed any longer, I sleep as late as I want, don't answer the phone and do exactly as I please for as long as it takes me to feel normal again. My family understands.

Four days of Thanksgiving preparations almost did me in! Okay, I’m a wimp. Many others do it, enjoy every minute of it and then go Christmas shopping early the next morning.

I could never do that!

By the time I bake five pies – assorted kinds – everyone’s favorite, with homemade crusts (the family won’t accept anything else) and prepare the rest of the food in massive quantities, I’m so worn out; I’d just as soon go to bed. I grew up with a friend whose mother did exactly that! Like me, she spent days cooking the Thanksgiving feast. When it was done, she put it all on the table for her husband and two children, said, “Enjoy!” and promptly went to bed! And there she stayed until late evening, when she got up, ate a bite and tackled the messy kitchen before going to bed for the night. My friend told me it was the same every year. The family accepted it as “her choice.”

As much as I’d like to do that, I don’t. I smile, sit down with my family and try to enjoy the meal it has taken me days to prepare. A meal I don't even like!

Then, when everyone is stuffed with rich foods, I look around my kitchen, which looks like a bomb just went off, and wonder if I’ll ever get it all cleaned up.

We don’t have just one meal time for everyone. Ours is like “open house” all day! People come and go at different times until late evening. Before I can get one mess cleaned up, others arrive, ready to eat. This goes on all day long. When Mr. H. and I got the last of the mess cleaned up last night, it was 10:30!

When I was younger, I took it all in stride and enjoyed the fact that everyone wanted to stop by to eat and visit... but as I get older, it gets more difficult to handle an all day affair like this. I think my family honestly believes I’ll always do it. Why wouldn’t they? I always have!

And you know what? Even though I complain every year and say, "I'm never doing this again," I probably will do it for as long as I’m able. Some things you just do.  

Providing nobody minds if I stop the world and get off for a couple of days afterward.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Christmas Music And Sunshine!

I’ve been counting the days for about two weeks, since I heard that my favorite radio station would start playing Christmas music twenty-four, seven on November 17th – today! I couldn’t wait to turn my radio on this morning and sure enough – one of my favorites, The Little Drummer Boy, was playing!

And it’s a sunny 54º. How could I be so lucky? Christmas music AND sunshine all in the same day!

Not many things make me quite as happy as holiday music. Some people get tired of it and think they start playing it too early, but I could listen to it year around.

It makes everything a little easier for me. For instance: Although I’ve done it for many years, I really don’t enjoy preparing the big Thanksgiving feast, but having the Christmas music playing full-blast while I’m making pie crust or chopping celery makes it almost enjoyable. I get so wrapped up in the music that things seem to go much faster and smoother.

This year, I’m still whining about the fact that my eldest daughter and her family, who have always been here for Thanksgiving, won’t be this year. I have other children and grandchildren who will be, and I’m grateful for each one of them. However, the way I feel reminds me of The Parable of the Lost Sheep. You all know it. It's about a shepherd who had a hundred sheep and one of them strayed. That shepherd left the other ninety-nine sheep and searched for the lost one until he found it.

Common sense tells me that I'm being selfish. My daughter has a family now and it’s okay if she cooks Thanksgiving dinner for her family one year out of her whole lifetime. But as I said in another post, tradition dies hard for me. It seems that the pattern our lives fall into is backwards. As we get older, we need and want our children around us more, but that’s when they’re busy with jobs and families and don’t have as much time for us. It doesn’t seem to bother them. They are living and enjoying their lives the way they desire but frankly, parents begin to feel neglected – as if they are just in the way!

I say these things from first-hand experience. I’m remembering what it was like after my father died and I was duty-bound to do all the things for my mother that she couldn’t do for herself. Sometimes I hated it! I really wanted to be at home with my husband and family, doing the things I loved, but she had to come first. I knew that, but honestly, it was sometimes difficult not to resent it. Knowing what I know now, I’m not sure I’d do things any differently. I hope I would.

My father had a million little sayings he enjoyed sharing at opportune times. One I remember well was, “If I could go back to twenty years old and know what I know now, I’d do things a lot differently.”

But would he have? Would any of us? I doubt it.

We live our lives the only way we know how, and yes, sometimes most of us live a little selfishly because we take pleasure in doing what we want to do. Unfortunately, we only begin to learn what we should have done after it’s too late to go back and change things.

So we vow to do better from here on out. Most of us do. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know where we’re going now and it’s okay. Life, in retrospect, has been good.

So, turn on your radio and enjoy the holiday music, sing, dance, be nice to others; smile at everyone you meet. You’d be surprised how powerful a smile or a kind word to a stranger can be.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Dazzling White World

Yesterday was my kind of day! It was a beautiful 47º and sunny. I had a dental appointment. As I drove to and from the dentist’s office, my fingers tapping the steering wheel to the beat of my favorite music, I couldn’t have been more contented! If I were in control of the weather, every day of the year would be just like yesterday.

No, wait!

I’d miss the snow! Some of the happiest times of my life were winters when my children were young.

At least once every winter – usually in January – it would snow – and snow – and snow. It almost always happened during the night and we’d wake up to a dazzling white world! Sometimes it was so deep that everything came to a halt! School was out, businesses closed and traffic virtually stopped. It was like being in a time warp – until all of the excited kids, and some adults, went outside to play in the snow.

In every neighborhood, parents and grandparents were busy building snowmen with their children/grandchildren. There was at least one snowman in every yard! Some people even made whole snow families! They also made snow angels, had snowball fights and went sledding. Our family joined the fun.

Retrieving our sleds from their hangers on the garage wall; we pulled them behind us as we climbed the steepest hill in the neighborhood. When we reached the top, we’d lie face down on our sleds and, with a little push, take off down the nearly vertical snow-covered hill, picking up speed as we went, and praying all the while that we wouldn’t lose control of our vehicle and veer off to the side of the road, ending up in the small creek that ran parallel to it.

After everyone was soaked and rosy-cheeked and very cold, we’d go inside, put on dry clothes, and sit by the fire sipping hot chocolate. Later, after dinner, we’d gather in the family room for TV or a game of monopoly and a big bowl of popcorn.

Those were unforgettable days. I’d like to go back there for a while, as long as I knew there'd always be days like yesterday, too. I'm very grateful to be living in the perfect part of the country for me. I'd be awfully bored stuck in a place where every day is the same.

I thrive on changing seasons!



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tradition Dies Hard

With Thanksgiving less than two weeks away, I can almost smell turkey roasting, yeast rolls rising and the spicy aroma of pumpkin pie wafting through the house. It’s time, once again, to honor a tradition that most of us have been paying tribute to since we were born.

I have a large family. For as long as I can remember, we have gathered on Thanksgiving for celebration. Like most families, we sate ourselves with the mouth-watering foods of the season, laugh a lot and enjoy each other’s company to the max.

But, although tradition dies hard for me, I must accept that this year will be a bit different. Due to work scheduling, my daughter and her family won’t be able to come. For the first time in her life, she won’t be spending Thanksgiving at the home where she was raised. She won’t have dinner with her parents, brothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews. Instead, she’ll prepare a nice dinner at her home for her husband, herself and their two children. They're sure to enjoy it; she's an excellent cook!

But our day won’t be the same without them.

There’ll be a very important link missing from the family chain. However, I’m sure we'll manage to enjoy the holiday regardless.

She wrote an apologetic e-mail this evening promising that it will be different next year. My answer was: “Who knows what a year may bring?”

If there's one thing I've learned from living so long, it's that everything changes - nothing ever stays the same!

And life goes on.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Bat Dance

My daughter phoned this evening to tell me about something unusual that happened to her. Last May, her children bought her a beautiful blooming plant in a hanging basket for Mother’s Day. Although she admits she doesn’t have a green thumb, she babied that plant all summer long. It hung on her porch right in the hot sun and probably would have “fried” had it been my plant – or anyone else’s, for that matter. It was her love and attention and sheer determination that made it live and flourish throughout the long, hot summer and into November.

This evening, as she patted herself on the back for keeping a blooming plant looking beautiful for so long, she decided it needed water. But when she reached up to water the plant, she got the biggest surprise of her life.

A bat flew out of it!

It was enough that its sudden movement almost caused her heart failure, but it didn’t just fly out of the pot and into the night... it flew right into her thick, curly hair! She said she was sure she entertained her neighbors as she danced around on her front porch screaming and flipping at her head with both hands, while trying not to lose her pajama pants that were a size too large.

Thankfully, the bat – not her pants – finally fell to the floor of the porch, seemed stunned for a few seconds, then flew under an awning and that’s the last place she saw the repulsive creature!

“I want it out of here!” She told me. “It can’t stay under my awning. What should I do?”

I was laughing so hard just imagining her little dance on the front porch that I undoubtedly said the wrong thing – trying to tease her.

“It probably won’t go anywhere.” I said. “It most likely has a couple of babies still in the flower pot.”

Now she’s very upset and won’t believe I was joking.

How do I fix it?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

One Day At A Time

It makes me sad that my beloved October is gone for another year! It seems
only yesterday I was jubilant about her arrival! I wonder why the things we love are so fleeting while bad things like illness and pain seem to last forever.

I have such a hard time letting go of my favorite things. Times. People. I want to hold onto them forever. I'm reluctant to move on – fearful of what tomorrow may bring. Yet, I try as hard as I can to live one day at time, existing only in this moment, this hour, and this day.

The idea is to make the most of each day, since we simply cannot know what will happen tomorrow.

I recently ran across these inspirational words and thought they might help me learn to let go, to move on and to truly live only one day at a time. I’d like to share them:

There are two days in every week
about which we should not worry,
two days which should be kept free
from fear and apprehension.

One of these days is Yesterday
with all its mistakes and cares,
its faults and blunders,
its aches and pains.

Yesterday has passed
forever beyond our control.
All the money in the world
cannot bring back Yesterday.

We cannot undo
a single act we performed;
we cannot erase
a single word we said.
Yesterday is gone forever.

The other day we should not
worry about is Tomorrow
with all its possible adversities,
its burdens, its large promise and
its poor performance;
Tomorrow is also beyond
our immediate control.

Tomorrow’s sun will rise,
either in splendor or
behind a mask of clouds,
but it will rise.
Until it does,
we have no stake in Tomorrow,
for it is yet to be born.

              ~Author Unknown

Monday, October 29, 2012

Men Are Different

Today was one of those days I try not to hate, but can’t help myself. There was not even a hint of sunshine all day long. It was necessary to have lights on in every room.

I kept trying to put into practice what my favorite doctor used to suggest.
When I’d tell him how a dreary day depresses me, he’d say, “Spend the day doing what you like to do; read, write, sleep, watch TV, and listen to your favorite music. Make no demands on yourself.”

“Just be!”

I loved the idea, but when I tried it, I always got sidetracked and started doing something else.

“You get distracted easier than anyone I’ve ever known,” said Mr. H.

I admit it. I do get distracted easily. As appealing as it sounds, it’s difficult for me to “just be.” There has to be a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day or I feel worthless and unhappy.

Men are different. Mr. H. couldn’t get distracted if he tried. His day doesn’t even begin until he's worked all of the crossword puzzles in the newspaper after breakfast each day. Nothing takes precedence over these! And in the evening, from right after dinner until bedtime, it’s non-stop TV! The only time I can talk to him is during commercials.

And a dark day like this one? Doesn’t bother him a bit! It’s just another day.

Let’s face it. Men don’t sweat the small stuff like women do. If I believed in reincarnation (which I don’t), I’d definitely want to come back as a man the next time. I think they hold exclusive rights to the ability to “Just be.”

Makes sense. The doctor who made the suggestion is a man!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Emotional or Clairvoyant?

Sometimes so many things hit at once that it’s not only tiring physically but also confusing mentally and emotionally. Exactly one week ago today, Mr. H. and I traveled to North Carolina to visit our eldest daughter and her family.

We had a wonderful visit, although our enjoyment was overshadowed somewhat by the fact that her father-in-law was in the hospital. Knowing this, we had hesitated to go, but our daughter and her husband, Mike, insisted, saying he’d be fine.

But on Saturday evening, when Mike received the news that his father had been moved to a Hospice facility, he decided to leave on Sunday morning and head for West Virginia to see him. We stayed until early afternoon, enjoying as much time as possible with our daughter and her children. We see them only about three times a year. That’s not enough.

When we finally got packed up, the three of them walked to the car with us. We gave hugs all around, said our good-byes and waved until we were out of sight. I fought back tears, as I always do when we leave them. Somehow, this lovely fall day only added to my despair. The joy I felt just drinking in its beauty – coupled with the sadness of leaving those I love were conflicting emotions that were almost painful. A dreary day might have been easier.

But a few miles out, I began to smile again. I listened to some of my favorite music, and had a conversation with Mr. H. about the visit, the way the kids had grown up and the sorrow of an almost certain impending death. We remembered that another granddaughter’s birthday was today and decided to stop at her house, just a few miles from ours, and wish her a happy birthday before going home.

Once again, thoughts of a happy occasion merged with a sad one, confusing my emotions.

The weather couldn’t have been more cooperative. My favorite month – October – was on her best behavior. It was a sunny, breezy seventy degree day. And the mountains! How can I possibly describe the magnificence of these mountains on this particular late October afternoon?

Varied hues of red, yellow, orange, rust, green and brown took my breath away. I snapped picture after picture from the car windows, wanting the breathtaking scenery of the three states we traveled in to last forever! My eyes had seen all the glory they could embrace and now I had to trust the camera to capture the rest of it. For a couple of hours I bounced back and forth from weepy and sad to an uncanny state of euphoria triggered by the intense beauty of these surrounding mountains!

I’d think of Mike’s father dying and relive the pain of leaving my loved ones and tears would flow. Then I’d survey the mountains of a thousand colors glowing in the sunlight and envision the beautiful face of our young granddaughter who was celebrating a birthday and I'd feel happy again.

I was as puzzled by my shifting emotions as was Mr. H.

“I have a peculiar feeling in my heart and soul and mind,” I told him. “If only I could put it into words!”

A man who knows when it’s best to keep quiet, he said nothing.

Shortly after we got home, Mike phoned to inform us that he was going to stay overnight; his father was worse than he’d expected. He passed away early Monday morning.

Yes, a lot can happen in a week.

Mr. H. and I were at Mike and Toney's house in North Carolina last Friday and everyone was happy. Today, exactly one week later, they were at our house and we attended his father’s funeral.

I can’t see how my emotional binge of last Sunday and the death of our son-in-law’s father could be related, but it's a well-known fact that highly sensitive people feel things more deeply than the non-sensitive. Some believe they're also extremely intuitive.
That would explain a lot, wouldn't it?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Time Flows Like A River~

Mr. H. and I are planning a trip to North Carolina this weekend to visit our oldest daughter and her family. We’re really looking forward to it! With everyone so busy these days, we don’t get to see them nearly as often as we’d like. It seems her two kids grew up when we weren't looking! Her son has already graduated from college and is working, while her daughter is in her third year of college. Seems like just yesterday they were coming to visit with two energetic toddlers who turned the house upside down!

We were always happy to have them visit, but when they left, we had to rest for at least two days! To say they were active kids would be an understatement. And I’ve never seen little kids survive on so little sleep. My daughter would not allow afternoon naps because that meant they wouldn’t want to go to bed at night. So all the sleep they got was from about 8:30 to 9 P.M. until around 6:30 A.M.

Well, no morning person this gal; that was pure torture for me! During the winter months, it was still dark when they woke us and I had to get up and start cooking breakfast. Then it was a whole day of playing games and chasing after them, making lunch and dinner and bedtime snacks. It’s just a good thing we were much younger then.

Somehow, we survived those visits, but as happy as we were to see their headlights as they pulled into the driveway, I must confess, we were sometimes just as happy to see their taillights moving out of the driveway as they were leaving, the smiling and waving continuing until they were out of sight. The love you feel for your children and grandchildren is genuine but it doesn’t stop you from getting exhausted, especially when their schedule is totally different from yours.

The years passed, the kids started school, began making friends and getting involved in their own activities, and the visits became fewer... and fewer. Guess what? We miss those hectic times! As we watched them grow up - from afar - we would love to have stopped time or gone back a few years. But, as you know, we can't do that. Once a day is gone - it's gone forever! The only way we can go is forward.

Now, we visit them about twice a year and, of course, we have phone calls and e-mail. And they always come home for the major holidays. These are wonderful times. The holiday memories will live forever in all of us!

We have other grandchildren who live closer and have spent more time with us, so we don’t have this feeling of “missing” so much of their lives like we do with the two who’ve always lived several hundred miles away.

And yet, they’ve grown up quickly, too. Time seems to evaporate. If only we could hold onto the special times forever. But we cannot. That's why we must squeeze every bit of joy possible from each day, and cherish each moment we spend with those we love. 

Remember, tomorrow, today will be yesterday!

Monday, October 15, 2012


As Mr. H. and I were driving home from a little outing this evening, we heard John Tesh on the radio offering one of his well-researched suggestions. He said if you have trouble with your eyes tearing up when you chop onions, just stick your head in the freezer for a few minutes. We looked at each other, paused for a few seconds, and then laughed aloud.

After several meaningless remarks, we agreed that we wouldn’t be trying JT’s suggestion because we’d rather have tears coming out of our eyes than have “eye-sicles” hanging from them.


Yes, of course. But anything that makes you laugh can’t be all bad, can it?

Here's another one of JT's offerings that's a little more serious:

Did you know you could be spending 40 hours every week doing something that’ll kill you? It’s sitting! Here are some ways researchers say that sitting damages our health:

      • It ruins your sleep! When you sit still for long periods, fluid builds up in your legs. And when you eventually stretch out in bed that fluid travels up to your throat muscles causing them to swell. And that can quickly lead to sleep apnea – where you partially wake up several times an hour just to breathe. Even if you don’t realize you’re waking up – you’re not getting quality rest.
     • It makes your rear end bigger! That’s because sitting puts weight on the fat cells in your rear – causing them to produce twice as much fat, at a faster rate, as when you’re standing. And worse – when we sit or lie on fat cells, they produce more triglycerides, the fat that increases your risk of stroke.

     • Sitting can turn your lungs into ticking time bombs! A study found that sedentary people have more than double the risk of developing a deadly pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot in your lung! That’s because any time you sit, your blood flow slows, and is much more likely to form clots that settle in your lungs.

The fix? Stand up! Experts say that every 20 minutes, you should stand up and stretch your legs for a minute. Also, get in the habit of standing up while doing mindless things, like talking on the phone and texting.

 That’s important to know, but consider this:

A friend gave me a morsel of information last night that tops John’s collection – for now anyway. It seems she had learned that a certain group of people in this country are said to wear “magic underwear.” According to my research, wearing the underwear has strong meaning to those who believe in it and is of great importance to their faith.

Now, I really don’t care what kind of underwear anyone wears, but, in my opinion, labeling it “magic” is going out on a limb. It’s supposed to protect them from evil; some even claim it gives them x-ray vision. Hmmmm...
 I’ll ponder that and get back to you!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

One Of Those Days

Ever have one of those mornings when you know right away that it’s not going to be a good day? Mine started as soon as I got out of bed this morning. The phone rang before I’d even had breakfast. That’s always a bad sign. If my phone starts ringing that early, it does something weird to the ringer and it keeps ringing all day!

It’s sort of like that button under the seat cushion of my recliner. Did you ever notice – when you grab a cup of coffee and get all prepared to watch your favorite TV show, just as you sit down in your chair, the phone rings! I’ve looked high and low for the button that activates that ringer so I can disconnect that bad boy! (Just between you and me, there’s one under the toilet seat, too).

So, after too many phone calls and my cat depositing a giant hairball on the living room carpet, I was not in a very good mood by dinner time.

However I tried to do as a popular TV evangelist often says: “No matter what happens, be happy on purpose,” she touts, with a smile on her face. So I forced a big smile and started rattling those pots and pans. Well, I must not be living right ‘cause this “happy on purpose” thing didn’t work for me. Everything I did went awry. I’m not sure I belong in the kitchen!

When I peeled potatoes, most of them had to be thrown away because they had black spots in them, but I was finally able to salvage enough good ones to make a “batch.” I put them on to cook and started cooking my pork chops. Wouldn’t you know it? They stuck to the pan like they were super-glued and when I tried to pry them loose, grease popped everywhere, making a big, greasy mess and burning my finger. I felt like throwing the chops away – pan and all! But remembering the words, “No matter what happens, be happy on purpose,” I plastered the smile back on my face and took on the next task – opening a new jar of cornstarch. What a disaster that turned out to be!

Removing the lid, I found a foil cover over the top of the jar. It had little tabs on it and I thought I could just pull on one of those and, Voila! Off would come the foil. Wrong! I pulled and pulled to no avail, and finally used a paring knife to pry one side of the foil up. When it finally let go, the whole thing sort of burst off at once and it was as if a sudden snowstorm had hit my kitchen! This fine, white powder, about the consistency of baby powder, settled all over the counter tops, canisters, coffee pot, assorted knick knacks – and me.

Mr. H. walked into the kitchen just in time to see me throw my arms in the air and yell, “Calgon, take me away!”

He laughed and casually asked, “What’s that mean?”

“What do you mean, ‘what’s that mean?’ ” I said. “Didn’t you ever hear the expression, “Calgon, take me away?”

“No,” he said, in all seriousness.

After going into a lot of detail about the Calgon commercial from a few years back, and explaining that all women understand the plea when they’re having a bad day, he answered with, “I think you’re making that up. I never heard of such a thing!”

“I am not! You just ask anyone,” I said.

He started laughing, making me angry, even though I realized we were acting like kids.

“What’s so funny?” I said, more than a little disgruntled.

He reached out, wiped at my face with his hand and said, “You’ve got something white all over your face.”

Breaking into a giggle, I told him about the cornstarch incident and he pitched in to help with a little clean-up before we ate our slightly over-cooked dinner.

And just as we sat down – the phone rang.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Lovely Gift

I don’t hate you, September. But I’m delighted that you’re leaving.


Because, in less than six hours, when I tear your page off my calendar and dispose of it, I will automatically open a lovely gift: October!

October is the most beautiful month of the year where I live. The sky is never as clear or as blue as it is at this time. The air is crisp, yet sunny. But the sun we feel now does not even resemble the mid-summer sun of a couple of months ago. It’s not hot! Not humid! Not stifling! Instead, it’s bright and warm. Comfortable. Soothing.

Healing to body and soul.                     

I feel much better after sitting in the October sun for an hour or so in the afternoon – meditating, gazing at the clear blue sky, watching leaves ripple in the breeze as a few opt to let go and float to the ground early. The usual sounds are almost non-existent. There’s a feeling of expectancy. Have you noticed, with children back in school, the neighborhood is much quieter? You can sit for quite a while and hear nothing but distant traffic or perhaps the twittering of a bird who has delayed his journey south. I don’t blame him.

Nights are cool – perfect sleeping and dreaming weather!

I impatiently await the pumpkins, gourds and mums that will soon appear on doorsteps along with scarecrows made from dried cornstalks and straw; I anticipate heavy dew that makes everything twinkle in the morning sunlight, and most of all, I look forward to the magnificently colored foliage that gives off a special warm glow!

During less colorful times of the year: rainy seasons, continuous days of sunless skies, extreme cold periods with lots of ice and snow – whatever Mother Nature throws at us – all I have to do is close my eyes and visualize one lovely October day and all is forgiven!
No, September. I don't hate you. You are the doorway to the season that awakens my soul. But I must confess... I love you only because you are the prelude to my beloved October.

 My thoughts on October last year... 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Less Than Forty-Eight Hours

Wow! I can hardly believe it’s almost October – my favorite month of the year! Every twelve months, I go on and on about my love for autumn until I’m sure others get bored with it. But I’m convinced that nothing compares to the beauty of this spectacular season.

Not only is it gorgeous, but it’s a restful time, too. Everything slows down and we have time to relax, at least for about a month and a half – until it’s time to prepare for the big Thanksgiving feast... followed by Christmas shopping, baking, decorating and all the joys of the holiday season.

It seems to me that every year passes a little faster than the last. Perhaps that’s only because I’m getting older. I think we learn to appreciate things more as we age. As youngsters, teen-agers and young adults, we’re so busy living our lives that we hardly have time to notice the beauty around us, let alone appreciate it!

As I ponder life’s different stages, I consider what it might be like if some things were reversed. Imagine having the patience and appreciation when we’re young that we've gained by the time we’re, say... in our mid-50’s. Wouldn’t that be nice? And how much better behaved would our children be if we had them later in life when we have more patience?

Sometimes it seems that a few things are backwards. When we’re raising our children, we’d give anything for a little time alone, but when we’re older and they’re on their own, we often find ourselves sad and lonely, and wonder why they never spend quality time with us. So many elderly couples spend their aging years alone together – the way they started out. Ironic, isn’t it? And one day, one of them is left to carry on without the other. That’s the saddest time of life!

But in the immortal words of a well-known fictional character, “I can’t think about that today, I’ll think about it tomorrow.”

In less than 48 hours, lovely October will make her appearance. It’s impossible for me to think about anything else!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shall We Gather At The River

An old-fashioned baptism in the river today after our church service brought back some special memories of long ago and made me smile.

When my Aunt Betty and I were about ten years old, she attended church regularly at the little church in the coal mining community where she lived.

When I wasn’t visiting, Betty and I kept in touch by writing letters. It was a long time ago – before computers, e-mail and I-phones.

Here’s the way I heard about Betty’s baptism:

Dear Peggy,

I couldn’t wait to tell you – I was baptized today!

Last week in Sunday School, we learned about Jesus being baptized in the Jordan River. People watching from the shore were surprised when a dove flew down and lit on Jesus. The Bible says it wasn't a real bird but the Spirit of God. I can't quite understand how something that looked like a bird was really a spirit. I know parts of the Bible are too complicated for us to explain. Sometimes we just have to have faith.

What happened next was exciting. The Heavens opened up and God's own voice told Jesus how much he loved him and that He was pleased with Him.

After learning about baptism, I figured if I ever want to be a full-fledged Christian, it’s time to get myself baptized. I’m almost ten. So I decided to talk to Pastor Robbins.

At first, I thought he was going to try and talk me out of it, but after asking me some questions, he finally agreed to do it if neither of my parents objected. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to tell Mom and Grandma the good news.

Church service seemed shorter than usual this morning and, in no time; I was standing on the banks of Paint Creek at the old swimming hole waiting my turn to go into the water. The entire church congregation was singing, “Shall We Gather at the River.”

I don’t know if it was because I was cold or nervous, but it was hard for me to control my shaking body. Mom was standing in the back, but I could see her smiling. I kept looking at her to keep up my confidence. Grandma didn’t go because she has real bad arthritis in her legs and can’t stand very long, but when she kissed me good-bye, she said her heart would be with me and she’d be thinking about me until I came home.

Several members were baptized ahead of me. When Mr. Clark bounced up and out of the water shouting, "Praise the Lord," I began to feel more confident. If being baptized made old man Clark that happy, it must be a good thing.

Finally, I heard my name. It was my turn at last! Deacon Roberts led me to where Pastor stood waist high in water. He placed a damp handkerchief over my nose and mouth. "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit," I heard him say, then before I could count to ten, I was under and back up again... sputtering and wiping at my eyes. I didn’t see a white dove, but I did see two robins chasing each other across the sky.

Then disaster struck. Even though Pastor Robbins was still holding onto me, what he didn't know was that my feet were in a slimy bed of mud and slipping fast. To keep from falling, I grabbed Pastor's neck with both hands and held on tight. He started slipping, too, and all of a sudden, he fell to his knees and I went under water a second time. Some men rushed in to help. Someone lifted me out of the water and I was so embarrassed! I’m certain my face was beet red.

Mrs. Webb waited with a dry towel but I could tell she was trying very hard not to laugh. I dreaded going home. News travels fast in a coal camp. Don (brother) will laugh at me till doomsday!

When I got home I ran straight into Grandma’s arms. I told her there was no dove; the sky didn't open up; God didn't say a word to me, and I was so embarrassed about pulling Pastor down to his knees.

Then I told her I didn't even feel like a full-fledged Christian and she said that maybe God thought I needed to be dunked twice and, most likely, He was testing my humility. I didn’t know what humility was, but Grandma said it’s the way we react when important events in our life don't go the way we expect them to.

I always feel better after talking to Grandma. I guess I really am a full-fledged Christian after all!

Wish you could have been here for my baptism.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It Has To Be Just Right

Some nights I can’t sleep. This is one of them. To be honest, I don’t know if the problem is that I “can’t” sleep or I “don’t want” to sleep.

Yes I do.

The truth is, I’d rather not sleep. I have too many things on my mind. I often wonder what clicks in my brain around 2 a.m. that opens my creative valve. And I wonder why music is better in the middle of the night than it is in the middle of the day. Now there’s something to ponder...

I remind myself how terrible I feel the next day when I stay up until four or five a.m., but right at this moment, I feel great so what does it matter how I’ll feel tomorrow? Aren’t I the one always telling others to live for the moment? One day at a time? Yeah, that’s me! So I should practice what I preach, right?

And so... with Patsy Cline belting out one of her classics, I start typing.

“Are you about ready for bed?” asks Mr. H.

“Yeah, soon,” I answer. Looking at the clock, I see it’s almost 3: a.m. I remember that I didn’t go to bed the past two nights until around 5: a.m.

I’ve got to turn over a new leaf, I tell myself. I’m tired all the time. No energy. Better sleeping habits would help, I’m sure.

I keep writing. A little blog post about the birth of my daughter’s baby. I couldn’t leave it in the middle, could I? I’d lose my momentum by morning.

It’s short and I finish it quickly. Now to find a picture. Sometimes that takes longer than writing the story. It has to be “just right.”

I finally add a picture of a sweet little baby – wrapped in white. So cute! I’m happy with it. I post it and link it to Facebook. Comments start coming in.

Others like it, too.

It’s an upbeat vignette that makes people happy. I like that!

I look at the clock. It’s 4:40 a.m. I finally call it a night. My last thoughts before drifting off to sleep are ~

What will I write about tomorrow?

How Much Is Enough?

Most of us, at one time or another in our lives, have wished for more money, but the longer we live, the more we learn just how unimportant it is to have a lot of money. I like this quote. "The best thing about getting old is that all those things you couldn't have when you were young, you no longer want. ~L.S. McCandless


Years ago I read an entertaining narrative told by the chief accountant of one of the wealthiest men who ever lived: John D. Rockefeller, Sr. Mr. Rockefeller was a very smart, shrewd fellow. You can get some idea of his attitude toward money from a little anecdote which is supposed to have happened. When someone asked him: "How much money is enough money?" John D. is said to have replied: "Just a little bit more."

Well, this rich Rockefeller eventually passed away. As his vast estate was being settled, someone inquired of his accountant: "Just how much did he leave behind?" Without a moment's hesitation, the accountant answered, "All of it!"

I guess that puts it into perspective for us, doesn’t it?

(John D. Rockefeller: Born - July 8, 1839, Died - May 23, 1937)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Day of Prayer

Before 911

In my little corner of the world today, it's a sunny seventy degrees; a fitting day to bow our heads in prayerful silence and recall what happened on this day eleven years ago – 9-11-01. It was a beautiful sunny morning, but we will remember only the sheer horror and disbelief we felt as we watched the news media play the shocking scenes over and over again. The memory of it will be passed on to children and grandchildren who weren’t yet born or were too young to remember. Like the memory of Pearl Harbor, it will be passed on and on and on. It shall never be forgotten!