Posts Categorized: Joy

I’m Trying to Become a Weather Believer

I know that weather forecasting is an imperfect science and those weather folks are doing the best they can. But, because it is an imperfect science and they are sometimes wrong … really wrong, I’m bad about discounting their advice. For example, I’ve killed trees and lawns by trusting that the expected rain will actually fall. Conversely, I’ve sent perfectly good plants to their early demises by not believing that the temperature will drop below freezing. NOT THIS YEAR!!

Many of the plants on my back patio are new this year, having been purchased to replace those that didn’t make it through the first freeze last year. I’ve tried to be a wise and good plant mother to them, and they all look pretty good. So I’ve been following the weather rather closely. And, according to the weather app on my phone, Thursday night the temperature was supposed to drop to 30. Actually, it’s not supposed to get down to 30 until 6:00 a.m. the next morning, but the high temperature for the day was at 9:00 a.m. (low 40’s), so I bundled myself up and dug out my long cuffed gloves and went out.

Everything else has to stay outside. We have a garage, which can keep the plants from freezing, but there’s not enough light, even if I keep the garage door up.

Several years ago, in our previous yard, I had some upright, white bougainvillea (yeah, I really like bougainvillea). Before a freeze, I went to the nursery to ask about how to protect them. “Put plastic over them?” I asked. “First,” the nurserymen said, “cover them with a sheet. That helps heat stay in. Then, cover that with plastic. Plastic alone can damage the plant.” I did that, but those plants aren’t really meant to be in the ground in Central Texas.

But, I remembered the “sheet, then plastic” advice, and went with that.

Sometimes, I can get away with just moving plants close to the house, because it’s a little warmer there, out of the wind, so I started with that.

Everything’s nestled all snug in their beds. The temps are supposed to be in the low to high 50’s for the next two days, but the overnight temps in the mid to low 30’s. And in a week, the high is supposed to be 70 with a low of 51. I think it’s just the beginning of my winter plant dance.

 

Flowers and grass fade away,
but what our God has said
    will never change.

Isaiah 40:8 (Contemporary English Version)

 

Things like:

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

Luke 2:10-14 (New Revised Standard Version)

‘Tis the Season–at Least We’re Getting There

It’s been a rather long and rather full couple of months. I’ve had a big writing assignment and been spending lots of time at the computer. And, well, there was Thanksgiving. Ish.

One of Peter’s favorite places to play is “behind the pillows.” It’s a hideout, a home base, or, this day, the library.

We’re fortunate to have Kevin and April and, of course, Peter, nearby, and therefore get to spend some, and sometimes quite a bit, of the holidays with them. This year, we had our holiday time earlier, rather than later. They came on Sunday afternoon. Peter and I spent Monday together, while Kevin, who was having a work-at-home day, and April, who had some accounting homework, went off with David to have a quiet, boy-less place to work. And the boy and I played (and I did some work).

He’d come with a runny nose and congestion and a cough. The sort of thing, I suppose, that’s “going around.” All morning, we took turns playing together, and then him playing alone while I did some work I needed to finish. After lunch, I kept hearing him hacking away, and then it got a little quieter. When I went to investigate, I found he’d created a nice, soft napping place, just right for little boys somewhat under the weather.

We’d already decided that, if we wanted them, well, Peter, to be able to help decorate the tree, it would have to be Tuesday evening, before they left to go back to Fort Worth on Wednesday afternoon. We planned a festive pre-tree-decorating dinner. Grilled cheese sandwiches and soup.

April and Peter put the tree together, and then I remembered that there’s an order about where things go and how they go. So I had to send April back out to the laundry room for Box 4. (Box 6 has the ornaments, and the tree’s in a big cardboard box.) Box 4 has lights.

First, the lights that go in the window have to go in. But, you can’t plug them in, because they’re the kind that turn on at the same time each evening and stay lit for six hours. They get plugged in at 6:00 pm, usually, but we forgot, so they went in at 6:30. Now, they turn on automatically each evening at 6:30.

Next, the lovely, lighted swag goes up, around the window. That can get plugged in, and it has a little metal snowflake that, when you gently touch it, makes the lights turn on (or off).

So April and Peter got all that up and ready. Then Peter took another nap. And, then . . .

Often on Christmas Day, we have crackers to open. Kevin and April had found some Thanksgiving crackers in Fort Worth.

Jeremy said could we not put everything on the tree, and leave some of his meaningful ornaments in the box, so that he and Sarah could add them to the tree when they come in December. So we sort of get to do this again. Meanwhile, the window lights are coming on each evening. But, I’m waiting a few more days before turning the tree’s lights on regularly. Even though I don’t think I’ll be growing tired of it all any time soon.

 

Arise, shine; for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

Isaiah 60:1 (New Revised Standard Version)

Time to dig out that recording of Handel’s Messiah!

What a Week . . . End

Peter has come for a visit the past two weekends. This past weekend was the regular Thursday-Monday visit, but the weekend before, Kevin and a friend had planned a campout (not for little guys, and just as well, the temperature was frigid and the wind fierce), so Peter came for Saturday and Sunday. He and David went out to breakfast, as usual, but, alas, they could not visit the Mayborn Museum, as they usually do. Because the Mayborn is part of the Baylor campus, and on the river side of things, just across from the giant football stadium, and as parking is at a premium on game day, the museum is closed when there’s a football game. They came home from breakfast at loose ends. “What’ll we do now?”

The last time Peter was here, on a Sunday, we went to the library near church, because it’s the only one open on Sundays. We found some friends from church who were using the computer in the children’s part of the library. There were some interesting things to do. So, to the glum men of the house, I suggested that we might try going to the library. Oh, yes! Yes! Yes!

This past week, I picked him up on Thursday after school.

He took a long time to fall asleep Thursday night (all the excitement of a trip to Waco)! David said that at 12:15, Peter came wandering to his office and talked about a dream. “He said he was flying in an airplane,” David said the next day.

“And he fell out and the wind blew him to safety?” I asked. “Yeah!” he said.

But Peter easily went back to bed and fell asleep quickly. And slept until … 4:15, when he appeared at my bedside. “I’m hungry,” he said. “Do you want your Nutella kolache?” I asked. “Yeah,” he said.

We went to the kitchen, and he ate about half of it.  “That’s all I want,” he said. “I’ll eat the rest later.” He told me about the airplane dream and then walked back into the living room and got on his air mattress. And went back to sleep. He woke up again at 8:50 Friday morning, which put us a little bit later for zoo arrival than usual. We typically like to get to the zoo parking lot by 8:45 a.m. (it opens at 9:00), so we can get a good parking place under a little bit of shade, so that the car’s not so hot when we leave. But, now, in November, that’s not really problem.

One of his most favorite things to do at the zoo is to play in this dirt, which is in a little artificial wishing well. He pretends we’re making stew, and we gather leaves and small sticks and pebbles, and he stirs (not much, because the dirt in there is pretty tamped down) and stirs. This time, he ran across a quarter and a penny. “No,” I said, anticipating the question. “You cannot take this money. People put it in here and made a wish. We are not allowed to remove it.” He covered it back up before we left.

When we left the zoo, we stopped at the snack bar for something to eat, and he chose a small bag of Chex Mix. Notice how the bag says “Savory?” Traditional Chex Mix is “Savory.” Peter does not, apparently, like “Savory.”

We went to Wal-Mart for stuff for the rest of our meals. We checked the Chex Mix area, and, it was as I feared. There is no such thing as “Regular” Chex Mix. There is Chocolate Chex Mix and Bold Chex Mix and Honey Nut Chex Mix and Muddie Buddies Chex Mix. Even the Cheddar Chex Mix says “Savory” on it. (And the chocolate/muddie buddie/Honey Nut varieties seemed like a no-go for his folks.)

I suggested that we make our own. We visited the cereal aisle to look for possibilities. We settled on Rice Chex, Rice Krispies, peanuts, Pretzel Goldfish (which we had to get at Target), Cheerios, and I gave in to yogurt raisins. I added cashews to the list, after seeing it in another recipe, but he said no. And, we already had some cheese crackers to add. And that’s it. No spices or flavorings or butter. No baking and stirring every five minutes. Just the ingredients, all stirred up together. We had it for dinner Saturday night.

 

AND, he wanted to make Rice Krispie treats, and we should get some marshmallows. Fortunately, I had already gotten some at Central Market in Fort Worth, before I picked him up. I cannot get the kind I need (vegetarian) at HEB. I haven’t looked at a health food store, but I might could get them there. (And, if you’re confounded by the problem, Peter and April are vegetarians, and regular marshmallows are not vegetarian. Read the label for the solution to that conundrum.) So he went home with a plastic Glad box of snack mix and one with Rice Krispie treats.

Sunday morning–time change, and he was up reasonably early, which made getting to church easy.

Monday morning, he showed up at my bedside at 5:50, which is just about the time that David gets up. He was surprised at how early Peter was awake, but, really, it’s about the time that he would usually get up (at the REAL 6:50!). (I AM NOT ANY KIND OF FAN, AT ALL, OF TIME CHANGE!) David got up, Peter went to play, and I got up and started Peter’s laundry.

I wanted to visit a nursery I like in Arlington before delivering Peter back home. I pulled off 35 a little before I thought I needed to, to put the address into the phone so I could get good directions. We stopped at a gas station for me to do that. Peter needed a restroom, so we went in. Then we walked up and down the aisles, looking for a snack for him that I was willing to purchase. We finally whittled it down to pumpkin seeds.

At the counter, as I was opening my purse for money for the seeds, the clerk looked down at Peter and said, “I like your hair.” He looked up and said, “Thank you.” She looked at me and said, “Can I give him a cookie?” Now really. What was I going to do?!? Say no!? Which was like being rude to a kind person who wanted to give a gift to a child. So I said, “Yes.”

 

 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.

Proverbs 31:17 (New International Version)

I may not be quite as vigorous or strong as I used to be, but I can still pick him up. When I really need to. But it’s hard for me to carry him around. However, at the nursery, there were these little carts for people to pull around to put their plants on. With a long handle on the front. And, in my case, a boy sitting among the plants. And, for the most part, uphill. Which might explain why, yesterday before I started walking on the treadmill, I took one of the pain pills I take when I’m feeling extra sore. But we’re talking about my arms here. Right!?!

Autumn Update

The first time I handed out apples for Halloween, was, I think, the year before Jeremy was born. David was taking Kevin around to family and friends, and I was home with the porch light on and apples in a bowl. Most kids seemed happy about the apples, but not one. He knocked on the door and I opened it and held out my bowl of apples. He looked down at it and said, a little angrily, “Apples! I don’t want an apple!”

“Well, that’s all I’ve got,” I said. And he turned around and stalked back down the sidewalk to his dad, who was waiting at the curb.

What did you say to her?!?!” Dad yelped. And I shut the door with a bit of a smile. Halloween is a nice time to learn manners and appropriate behavior.  And I’ve persevered.

This year, I bought four bags of apples for Trick-or-Treaters. I emptied three of the bags into a basket to take to the door. I didn’t count the apples, but it seems like I maybe gave out about one-and-a-half bags worth.

The weather forecast was dreary, but the rain had fallen late in the afternoon, and by time kids came, things were just damp. I think our house might have been the only one on our block with the porch light on.

A group of three or four came early, and then there was quite a lull. But, later, there were several doorbell rings and small groups of children, all ages, and all dressed up.

I’m still a little amazed that most kids think that apples are a cool thing to get for Halloween (and I’m determined to be the lone voice of reason in a sea of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups–which I would eat six of every day, if I was allowed that sort of thing–the Reese’s, not apples).

One little fellow, the smallest of his group, the ‘way smallest of any group, stood solidly by the door as his companions reached, one by one, into the basket for their apples. For every apple they put in their bag, he put another apple in his little plastic pumpkin, saying, rather zombie-like, “Apple! Apple! Apple! ” with every one. I finally stopped him, because I was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to get safely down the steps without falling over sideways from the significant weight of his apple-filled pumpkin.

Lots of apples remain, which is not as much fun as an apple basket full of Butterfingers, but better to have around. We may need to make applesauce in Sunday School.

Meanwhile, the fall plant report.

As long as the earth remains,
there will be planting
    and harvest,
    cold and heat;
winter and summer,
    day and night.

Genesis 8:22 (Contemporary English Version)

 

 

And, I suppose, squirrels.

 

Hey!! Who’s Quarrelsome and Fretful!?!

We’ve been having a little trouble with the garage door opener. Actually, that’s not accurate. We’ve been having a LOT of trouble with the garage door opener. For weeks.

It’s been erratic, unreliable, and the cause of some shrieking.

I changed the batteries in the remote. Not helpful.

I traded the remote I had with the one that Kevin and April had, thinking that, being used less frequently, it might work more efficiently. Nope.

When Peter was here recently, we returned home from a trip to the zoo; the garage door would not go up. I finally phoned David and asked him to please come home and see if he could let us in the house. (His car has a built-in remote button, which, for some reason, works better. Not always perfectly well. But better.)

He opened the door for us. We went in and I unlocked the back door’s storm door and checked the door’s locks to be sure my keys worked well in them, since we never go in and out that door. One lock worked but the other one didn’t.

Peter and I went out again, and the garage door went up and down as it should. So, things were back to their erratic normal.

And things were reasonably fine, until last Sunday.

I got home from church; the door would not open. Not. Not. Not. There was lunch after church and David was staying to lock up, so I knew he wouldn’t be home for a while. So, I went around to the back door, where the storm door was still unlocked. I opened the storm door and tried both locks. NEITHER ONE OF THEM WOULD OPEN!

I really needed a bathroom, so I went to the grocery store. And then I did a little shopping.

When I got home, I said to David, “Tomorrow, after work, I need you to go to Home Depot and purchase three new sets of locks that are keyed to each other, and I need you to replace all the locks. (One of the locks on the front door also didn’t work.) And, tomorrow, I’m calling the garage door opener people and having them come out to replace this one (which was installed in the early ’80s.)”

And he said, “If we replace the garage door opener, won’t that solve the problem of the locks not working?”

And I said, “THINGS NEED TO WORK!”

And all those things came to pass. Well, sort of. It seems that locks are only sold in matching pairs these days. So, the keyed-together locks are going on the front and back doors. Actually, the one on the back door is done, and, as I write this, the ones on the front are going in, too.

Monday, first thing, I called the garage door people. Then, as long I was in the mood, I called the plumber, because the shower head in the bathroom I use just fell into my hands a couple of days earlier. And, while, yes, I can shower in the other bathroom, THINGS NEED TO WORK!

And, one of the sprinkler heads had broken completely off, and I thought we might could make it until cooler, wetter weather, but why not to ahead and call those guys, because THINGS NEED TO WORK!

 

 

It is better to live in a desert land, than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman.

Proverbs 21:19 (English Standard Version)

 

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. What is the first thing you will do? Won’t you sit down and figure out how much it will cost and if you have enough money to pay for it?

Luke 14:28 (Contemporary English Version)

 

This is the garage door going up. I should have been taking my blood pressure during all of this. I suspect it’s right at normal now.

So, we solved that quarrelsome and fretful woman problem by sitting down and figuring out how much it would cost to repair and replace some things that badly needed repairing and replacing. And nobody has to go live in a desert land.

First, Chik-fil-a, then the Mayborn, then the Zoo, then cookies, and so on and so on and so on

As soon as Peter’s parents seemed interested in Peter’s new Pre-K school, I went online to look at the school calendar and discovered when the Monday holidays were, put them on my own calendar, and, as soon as seemed appropriate (a day or so after school had begun), I mentioned it to Kevin and suggested that we begin to think along the lines of “when can Peter come to visit again?”

And so, Columbus Day it was! I picked him up, as has been the norm, at school’s end on Thursday (because, really, even though there is school on Fridays, it’s Pre-K and there isn’t going to be a visit from college reps or big “we-hope-you’ll-get-into-the-university-of-your-choice” testing). And isn’t a trip to the zoo just as educational? I think SO!

And, truly, he seems taller and stronger and, well, all the ‘ers there could be.

Thursday–meeting Granddad at the Mayborn for Late Night, which includes Waffle Fries before visiting the rooms. And, a quietish early evening for Mimi, who spent quite a bit of the day in the car.

Friday–ZOO! Freshwater Aquarium, playground, tortoises, grilled cheese at the cafe.

I took this photo and sent it David to see what it was. I got this in response: “In general, assassin bugs hunt on various types of vegetation, including trees, weeds and bushes. Assassin bugs are able to fly but they are poor fliers in general with some notable exceptions.
Although most assassin bugs are slow-moving and non-aggressive, they will use their rostrum in self-defense if handled carelessly. Such bites may be rather painful to humans because the bugs inject the same salivary secretion used to dissolve the tissues of their prey. This results in the death of a small area of cells at the site of the bite. The symptoms are an intense burning sensation, often followed by a small, itchy lump that may persist for several days. However, no true toxin is involved so it is rare for the reaction to last long or to extend beyond the site of the bite. Some bites occur when the bugs are purposely handled out of curiosity, but most happen through accidental contact while gardening or working in the open. The sharp pain associated with assassin bug bites is usually enhanced by the surprise accompanying the experience.
The beneficial qualities of assassin bugs far outweigh their negative potential, and learning to get along with these indispensable predators is in our own best interest.” BAD BITES!! You’d think I’d have learned my bug lesson by now!

Well, it didn’t bite me, and we were at home and ready to make some cookies for a friend who loves Halloween.

Also on Friday, Peter was talking to me about Columbus Day, and how it was a holiday on Monday and we should have a cake that said “Columbus Day” on it, and have it for breakfast on Monday, with hot chocolate. He is always full of ideas that are really rather stream of consciousness things, and I said, “Sure.”

On Saturday, he said, “What about our plan, Mimi?” “What plan?” Sign of exasperation. “Our plan of a Columbus Day cake and hot chocolate for breakfast!” “Oh, that plan.”

So Sunday, before going to the library to get another video, because the Bob video we got on Friday only had ONE Bob, and some other characters in other videos, and the library doesn’t open until 1:00, we went to Wal-Mart for cake ingredients, etc. And then when we got back to the library, there were some friends from church, finding some interesting activities on the computers, and we didn’t get home until 3:00, and then I had to be back at church by 4:00 for a training event, and when I got home a little before 6:00, we went straight to Kiddieland to ride the train and a couple of other things, and then we rushed home for a quick bath and some dinner, and enough time for a book before bedtime at 8:00, so I was up until midnight or so, baking and decorating that little cake.

At then at breakfast, David said, “I thought there was supposed to be hot chocolate,” and I said, “EEK!” and warmed up some milk and put chocolate syrup in it.

 

 

How can we possibly thank God enough for all the happiness you have brought us?

1 Thessalonians 3:9 (Contemporary English Version)

 

There’s another Monday holiday the first week of November. I have my hopes up.

“Come! Come! I Want to Show You the Pictures!”

That’s one of my new favorite sentences. (Along with “Your GFR is 43!“) My retina guy said it to me. (Yes, I have a retina guy. Well, he’s a Retina Specialist, to be completely accurate.)

I’ve been seeing a retina specialist for several years, in addition to my ophthalmologist (the spelling of which I always have to look up). Diabetes causes problems with, well, most parts of one’s body, but the blood vessels of the retina are particularly vulnerable. So, for quite a while, I’ve been going to the retina place, and a few years ago, the doctor said, “I’d like to try an injection to help with this problem.” Now, you might be thinking that he meant a regular ol’ injection, like a flu shot, or something like that. Well, yes, in that a needle is involved. But, really, we’re talking about my retina, so the injection involved is, yes, indeedy, in my eye. (Try to take a deep breath. Don’t freak out. And, really, try not to get diabetes.)

He explained, oh, so carefully, that they numb my eyeball. And then they put in, umm, some round thing, that keeps me from blinking. I guess it’s the same thing that they put in when one has cataract surgery, to keep that eyelid open and that eyeball exposed. Then, he says, “Look way over at the wall,” which exposes the maximum part of eyeball white, while keeping my eye from seeing that big needle approaching. And there’s a little bit of pressure, but really, it’s not painful. The worst part is that sometimes the injection creates temporary, dark floaties in my eye, which, at present, keeps looking like I have a strand of hair in front of my eye. But, it’s actually a little dark thing, floating around inside. It’ll go away. They always do. (Once, one type of injection caused a swarm of tiny gnat-like things that floated around for ages! They didn’t impair my vision, they were just a little annoying. And not painful.)

Anyway, back to the pictures. Each time I go to the retina place (which is monthly, these days) the first thing I do is go and sit down, put my chin in a cup sort of shelf (to hold my head steady) and look at the blue dot shining in front of me in a machine that takes pictures of my retinas. Actually, now that I think about it, the first thing I do is get my eyes dilated, so they can take those pictures. Those pictures, generated on a computer, then get sent down the hall to be looked at and evaluated by the doctor and staff, I presume for them to decide exactly which kind of injection I’ll need. I’ve seen copies of the pictures before. I don’t understand them. I believe what I’m told about them, and I believe that the retina staff does understand them.

Last Monday, I was sitting in the chair, in the examining room, when Dr. Castillo came in. He held out his hands to me and said, “Come. Come. I want to show you the pictures.” He led me out to the hallway, where a couple of other staff were standing, looking at the pictures on the screen. “Look! Look!” he said.

I looked. “I don’t really know what I’m looking for,” I said.

He pointed to the line of pictures on the left. “See. See these big, black spots. That’s what we are trying to shrink. Now, look here.” He pointed to the line of pictures on the right.

I did see. There were black spots, but they were flatter and smaller. Much smaller.

TA-DAH!!

And then I had to go sit back in the chair and get another injection. But, seriously, the bleeding, seeping spots are getting smaller. That’s preserving my eyesight. It’s a win/win.

As I got up to go, I thanked him for working so hard to help my eyes. And he said, “Thank you. Thank you for letting me treat you!”

“Do some patients not let you treat them?” I asked. He sighed and shook his head. “Yes, many.”

I just don’t understand. Okay, injections to your EYE!! It sounds horrible. What’s more horrible? Not being able to read. Not being able to drive. Not being able to understand what’s happening on the television/computer/movie theater screen.

I don’t understand my podiatrist’s patients who won’t wear their orthopedic devices, or do wear shoes that cause blisters which cause abscesses which leads to amputations.

I don’t understand my nephrologist’s patients who won’t stop eating foods that are hard for kidneys to process. Yes, bananas and tomatoes and potatoes and fresh oranges and pears and peaches are yummy (and, nutritious). And salty, crisp potato chips and corn chips are so very delicious. Sausage! Hot Dogs! I could go on and on and on. Not eat those things! HORRIBLE. You know what’s more horrible. Having to go to the dialysis clinic three times a week. Every week. For the rest of your life.

Vision loss and amputation and dialysis may very well be in my future. But I’m going to push that particular future as far away as I can.

and I praise you
    because of
the wonderful way
    you created me.
Everything you do is marvelous!
    Of this I have no doubt.

Psalm 139:14 (Contemporary English Version)

 

Meanwhile, on the fingernail front:

I also went by the dermatologist’s on Monday, to have the stitches removed.

…By Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

Possibly there are folks out there who don’t recognize this partial quote. (The title of this post) It’s Shakespeare, from the play Romeo and Juliet. The longer quote is:
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;”

The speaker is Juliet, and she’s unhappy that the young man with whom she’s recently fallen in love is from a family on the outs with her family. Her point being that his last name doesn’t matter; she loves him anyhow, in the way that the scent of a rose is going to smell just as nice, even if we called it, for example, “stench-plant.”

The name “Romeo” has come to mean a lover, a ladies’ man, etc. (you can look it up). I don’t know what Shakespeare meant by it; maybe it was just a common name in those days.

But … moving on. A while back, I kept reading in the newspaper’s television page about the program TURN, the story of George Washington’s spy ring during the Revolutionary War. Like: “Tonight on TURN, the spy ring finds a new ally.” That sort of thing. Finally, during season 4 (the final season), I got interested and discovered that the library had DVDs of the first three seasons. (Yes, I know. We’re archaic. My kids think we’re ridiculous because we don’t have Hulu.) I watched all those videos and then watched the fourth season on the AMC website.

Then I found, also at the library (how old-fashioned am I!), an audiobook edition of the book Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. I’m listening to it. All 13 hours and 19 minutes of it. I’m a little more than halfway through it, but sometimes I have to go back and start a chapter anew. When I’m listening to an audiobook, I’m almost always doing something else, like working in the yard or doing housework, and, at some point, I realize that I’ve been thinking about herbs and not paying attention to patriots, and I have to skip backwards a little bit. And, for this one, a book of Revolutionary War maps would have helped. And a complete list of all the characters. And which side they were on.

Which brings me to Benedict Arnold. The only thing I knew, and pretty much still know, about Benedict Arnold is that he was a traitor during the American Revolution. I think that may be all that most of us know. And some of us probably don’t know that much. But the name means “traitor.” As in: “That which we call Benedict Arnold, by any other name would still be a traitor.” Even knowing more about him and the positive things he did during the Revolutionary War (before he changed his mind about us), he’s still famous/infamous for trying to sell us down the river, almost literally, and would have, if the plot hadn’t been discovered. And the British guy he was working most closely with, John Andre, got captured and hanged. Arnold slipped away and got himself to a British ship and fought with those guys until the end of the war. And then, afterward, in England, tried to stir up things anew! Give it up, Ben!

It’s interesting, at least to me, maybe you, too, that there are names out there, that, when bestowed at birth may just have been names that parents liked, but they’ve come to mean something that no one might have imagined. Like Benedict Arnold. Like Adolph Hitler. Like Benito Mussolini. Like Josef Stalin. Like Caligula.

And there were other names, that have come to mean something that the name-givers (or name-takers) might not have expected. Or, maybe they thought, all the time, that those named would become so significant. Like Mother Teresa. Mohandas Gandhi. Martin Luther. Marie Curie. Johann Sebastian Bach. Alexander Graham Bell. Anne Frank. Francis I.

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. (New International Version)

A good reputation and respect are worth much more than silver and gold. (Contemporary English Version)

Proverbs 22:1

 

I guess “a good reputation” is what scripture means by “a good name.” Our actions, our behavior, and our attitudes, are what make our “names” good.

 

 

Aay Bee Cee Dee

Even now, when I’m putting things in alphabetical order, or looking through a dictionary for a word, I find myself quietly singing in my head: “H, I, J, K …” or whatever alphabet string I’m needing at the time. It’s ubiquitous. At least for me.

Most little kids receive alphabet books when they’re preschoolers, and alphabet books are a standard in preschools and at library story hours. We want little kids to become familiar with the letters of the words that make up our language, both upper case and lower case letters. And not just the names of the letters, but also the sounds those letters make. We sing them, we say them, we use them, we explain them (as in: “Yes, honey, I know it looks like it should say ‘takee,’ but it says ‘tayk.'”)

So we read those alphabet books, and all the other books, and try our best to plow that language into little kids’ brains so they’ll be competent readers and learners even before they start school and “formal” education.

When Peter was last here, he’d gone out to ride his tricycle in the driveway, the morning I was taking him back to Fort Worth. After a couple of days of hurricane-generated rainfall, the sky was still cloudy, but the streets and sidewalks were dry. “Look, Mimi!” he called.  “Come take a picture.”

On Amazon, there are pages and pages of alphabet books, with about 20 books listed per page. And that’s just on Amazon. We really want kids to learn the building blocks of our system of reading.

I was particularly interested in The Icky Bug Alphabet Book. I looked at the pages that were available to preview, and took issue with the idea that dragonflies and fireflies are “icky.” Earwigs? Oh, yes. But they do include a disclaimer that only two of the “bugs” they describe are actually “true bugs.” A couple of spiders are included–arachnids. And the rest are different kinds of insects, which, even though we call them “bugs,” are not actually true “bugs.” So, alphabet and science!

Anyway, The Dead Worm Alphabet Book may never make it to publication. Or, April and Peter may need to resort to collecting some live worms and try to arrange them into a few pages of living worms alphabet illustrations. I’m hoping to get some photography credit for my contributions.

Your words are a flashlight to light the path ahead of me and keep me from stumbling.

Psalm 119:105 (The Living Bible)

 

Being a fluent reader means being able to read, for ourselves, all the important books and articles that can help us learn and become the people God planned for us to be. We can read, for ourselves, the Scripture, the commentaries, the sermons, and all the resources that are available for us. And for a lot of us, it all started with an alphabet book.

 

Scrub-a-dub-dub

Pretty much the only thing I miss from our previous house (built in 1912), where we lived for 28 years, is the old-fashioned claw-footed bathtub. And it’s not like it was a reproduction-style old-fashioned bathtub, it was just an old bathtub. One drawback was that it did become another place where things got mislaid, as in:

“Mom, I can find my shoes!”

“Look under the bathtub.” And there was a pretty good chance that that’s where they would be. Or, if not the shoes, something else that was lost might have ended up there. Like a soccer uniform.

I didn’t really use it all that often, until I started teaching at the community college. My first semester, I had a couple of day classes. For the other nine-and-a-half years, I had at least one, and sometimes two, night classes. They did meet only once a week, but they were 3 or 4 hours long, and I wouldn’t get back home until 9 or 10 o’clock. And adding in the hour or so that I spent, on my feet, getting ready for class, and sometimes that much time after class, putting away materials we’d used, and cleaning up, I was pretty worn out when I got home.

When I did get home, I couldn’t go to sleep. Another instructor put that problem in perspective. “People with day jobs,” he said, “work hard all day, come home, eat dinner, relax in front of the television or spend time on the computer or read until time for bed. We, on the other hand, work for three or more hours, often on our feet the whole time, then pack up our teaching things, and head home. We are wide awake, full of the energy of teaching, and we need a similar amount of time to unwind. Which means that we’re not able to relax until ‘way into nighttime.”

He was spot on. I developed a routine for relaxing. I would arrive home and immediately turn on the hot water in the big tub and let it run for a few minutes. Then I would go to the back of the house and listen to the hot water heater, to be sure it was heating up. (The large tub required quite a bit of hot water, first to warm up the chilly porcelain itself, then to fill the tub with hot water.) I would sit in the room next to the water heater and read and relax. When I heard the gas go off, I’d stop by the kitchen and make half a pimento cheese sandwich and pour a glass of cold tea or water, which I took to the bathroom. I had one of those nice trays that went across the tub. I could put my snacks there, as well as a book.

Bath beads and bath crystals were important, too, dissolving in the warm, warm water and making the whole bathroom smell wonderful. I would then ease myself into the hot water, an inch or so at a time. I could completely submerge myself, up to my neck. I would snack and read and relax. The perfect end to a busy, tiring day.

In our house now, I actually can submerge myself in the bathtub, but I’ve got to bend and contort to do it. And, the inner edge of the tub is too shallow to support one end of a bath tray. I only have hot baths now when I’ve been working in the yard and feel really sore. It’s . . . a C or C- experience.

So, I usually just shower, in the small master bedroom bathroom. I’m reduced to trying to find solace in good-smelling soaps.

I regularly read the little environmental suggestions each day in the newspaper. A while back, it reminded readers that liquid bath/shower soap comes in plastic containers that are often not recycled, and put forth the idea of using bar soap, instead, since it gets all the way used up. So, I bought a package of several bars of Olay soap, packaged in individual recyclable lightweight boxes. And I bought some additional washcloths.

But, I’ve sort of fallen off, part way, the bar soap wagon.

 

Remove my sin, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7 (Good News Translation)

 

 

The best kind of clean.