Posts Categorized: Joy

It Was a Dark and Stormy Afternoon

I was returning Peter home last Monday. Rain was forecast for Fort Worth most of the day, but we pioneered on with our plan, which was to visit a nursery first, then go to Central Market grocery store and have some lunch and play on the nice playground they have there. (I know, most grocery stores don’t have playgrounds, but this one does.) We did go to the nursery, and I bought some thyme and Peter gave me some germander to buy. Then, on to Central Market.

 

They have lots of prepacked foods, for people who come in and want to get something quick to eat. For the vegetarian boy,it was pretty much a peanut butter sandwich. He lunched in the race car cart while I did a little shopping. (The race car cart is oversized and a challenge to navigate up and down the aisles. But, very cool for a 4-year-old.) We took our groceries to the car and then I moved the car closer to the playground. To our (well, maybe just my own) disappointment, they have redone the playground, removing the very interesting play structures, one that had a suspended plank bridge connecting two platforms (with sides, for safety), and another that had a curved tunnel-type slide, and a third, which I cannot recall very well, but there were three of them that could accommodate lots of kids. Now, there’s a play structure that does have several manipulative sorts of gadgets, like steering wheels, and a double slide, and steps. And a few kids can play and work there without feeling crowded. Then, there’s a slide. Yes, just a slide. And, between those two things, there are two kid-sized (man-made, which is fine) boulders, for climbing on. I suppose that the other play equipment was getting old, and, for safety’s sake, and lawsuit protection, it might have been time for replacements. Sigh. But, there were kids there and Peter had a good time.

Meanwhile, the weather. Things were good, nice temperature, cloudy enough to not be too hot. Good. Until, abruptly, a big gust of chilly wind blew through. I called Peter over and said he could play for five more minutes; feel the wind, see the sky, it’s going to rain.

About a minute later, the two moms called their kids and said they needed to leave. We all raced to our cars. Peter’s house is very near. By time we got his stuff into the house, and, well, chatted a few minutes, it was raining so much that April took me out to the car with an umbrella.

On I30, on my way to I35 (we were stopped for a moment, so I could safely shoot a photo)

On I30, on my way to I35 (we were stopped for a moment, so I could safely shoot a photo)

 

By time I got to the highway, there was LOTS of rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was pretty much the situation until I was quite a ways out of Fort Worth, then, no rain, and we could clip along at regular speed. A little north of Grandview, we had to all move into the right-hand lane. There had been an enormous wreck. I could only see one car. I didn’t know if there had been others involved and they’d been removed, but the car there was terribly damaged. It was up against a barrier in the center median, smashed on the back and sides and front. Whomever was in the car had been removed, and there wasn’t any debris left on the road (and there surely would have been debris). I’d have taken a photo, but, seriously, I was driving!

The skies cleared and the temperature went up, the further south I went.

For you non-Texans--You can see where Fort Worth, and Hillsboro, and Waco are. Grandview is right about where that 35W sign is, south of Fort Worth. And West is about where that highway 77 is, between Hillsboro and Waco.

For you non-Texans–You can see where Fort Worth, and Hillsboro, and Waco are. Grandview is right about where that 35W sign is, south of Fort Worth. And West is about where that highway 77 sign is, between Hillsboro and Waco.

On the way up to Fort Worth, I had realized I hadn’t filled up the gas tank before I left Waco. It was about 3/4 full when I noticed it, so I knew I had plenty to get there. I’d planned to fill up before I left Fort Worth, but by then, it was pouring rain. As I was entering Hillsboro, the tank was 1/4 full, but I thought maybe I should go ahead and fill up, so I wouldn’t be anxious as I drove on.

And this is actually, truly, I’m-not-making-this-up what happened:

The car said the outdoor temperature was 76°. The skies were clear. The air was still. I pulled into a gas station/convenience store on the north side of town. I turned off the car. I got my credit card out of my purse. I got out of the car and walked around the front of it, to the gas pumps. I swiped my card. As I picked up the nozzle, kabam! A giant, chilled wind smacked into me. I had started the gassing-up process, so I filled up the car, struggling to hang onto the gas pump and stay upright myself. The tank wasn’t empty, so it didn’t take quite so long to be full. I replaced the nozzle, and, no thanks, no receipt, and struggled to the other side of the car to get in. E-GAD!!

I checked the temperature as I left Hillsboro, and it had already dropped four degrees. I often stop in West, a few miles down the road, to get fruit kolaches for breakfasts and sausage and ham ones for lunches. Not that day. I was a little afraid of the vicious wind that was chasing me. But, it was slower than I, and when I got to Waco, the car’s thermometer said 81° and things were still. The storm made it to Waco in the night.

Springtime in Texas. Sometimes there’s a nice gentle rainshower, and I can sit on the porch and read and enjoy it. More often than not, it just roars through.

 

But they were no sooner out to sea than a gale-force wind, the infamous nor’easter, struck.

Acts 27:14 (The Message)

When I was a teen-ager, a friend and I had back to back piano lessons, the idea being that we could (and we did) learn two-piano duets by overlapping our lesson times. One springtime afternoon, I was in my teacher’s den, waiting for my turn. The teacher’s mother had come for a visit, and she was sitting in the den with me. As we sat, the light began to fade. The backyard got dark, and a newly arrived wind was whipping the trees’ and hedge’s limbs and leaves in a frenzy. I was pretty much in a “whatever” mode, but the teacher’s mother was beginning to seem panicky. She looked at me, wide-eyed, and said, “Is this a Blue Norther?!?!?!” “Well,” I said, looking outside, “I guess so.” I don’t know what she’d heard about “Blue Northers,” but it must have been pretty scary. Maybe they were infamous. But, she seemed to become a little calmer. I guess my complete lack of interest made her think we were going to be all right. Good thing I didn’t say, “Oh, it could be a Blue Norther. Let’s just hope there’s not a big ol’ TORNADO on the way!”

Anyway, I have lots to be grateful for these days–lovely new plants for my yard, good springtime rains so we don’t have to turn on the sprinklers yet (I love it when God waters my yard for me), safe travel without any sort of collision, and a grandson who lives close enough for us to enjoy frequently.

 

The Fauna and Me

David’s been gone all week to a museum meeting in Abilene. Museum meeting weeks (twice a year) mean “household work” weeks for me. Sometimes I paint a wall. Sometimes I clean out a closet or two. (Museum meeting weeks sometimes generate lots of bags for Goodwill). I might strip furniture. I might work on photograph albums. This week, I worked outside in the yard.

The weather was great. I got lots and lots of work done. I have this great pair of overall shorts that I bought in a resale place that April likes. They’re a size 26, I think. So, they’re huge and really comfortable. There are pockets for my phone, my glasses, my keys, my pruning shears, and two or three more, just in case.

It’s springtime for sure! In addition to time spent with the flora in my yard, some fauna showed up.

And the flora part:

I pulled weeds and did some edging and planted some things, but mostly (at least it seems that way) I picked up sticks. There was a storm Saturday night and the pecan tree dropped a few boughs. I trimmed some hedges. And, I haven’t been keeping up with the number of twigs and branches that die off in the back hedge and get blown and broken off. I took three bags of hedge pieces to the city’s recycle place on Thursday. (City residents are allowed to drop off yard waste two times each month.) And Friday …

 

A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there,
    sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next?
Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life,
    poverty your permanent houseguest

Proverbs 6:10-11 (The Voice)

 

Or, for me, too much napping means I can expect weeds where I want grass to be, grass where I want flowers to be, and sticks all over the place!

Meanwhile, I went to the library last Saturday and checked out several audio books to listen to while I worked. I recommend My Happy Days in Hollywood by Garry Marshall, who directed and produced television programs like Happy Days and Mork and Mindy and movies, such as Beaches and Princess Diaries. It was fun for me to hear the stories of the programs I’ve enjoyed watching over the years.

We Took a Little Trip

There was a family wedding in Tulsa last weekend, and we went. I did have to have a small conversation with David about travel. The wedding was at 1:00 in the afternoon, and the reception was at 3:00. Travel time from Waco to Tulsa is about 7 hours, which meant we really could not leave Waco on Saturday morning and get there in time for the wedding. And, we would not be able to enjoy the reception and visit with relatives and be able to leave and drive home on Saturday night. I reminded David that he is, um, well, a senior adult now, and cannot safely drive that distance in the middle of the night. We would have to leave home on Friday afternoon and return on Sunday, and spend both Friday and Saturday nights at a hotel. That’s what we did, and it had a deep Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom! Quite enjoyable.

On Saturday morning, David suggested that we visit the Oral Roberts campus. The campus is a walking only place, but there were generous parking lots. As we walked onto the campus, we stopped at a campus map to look for a geology museum that David thought was there. As we studied the map, a nice young woman stopped to ask if she could help us find something. We said we were looking for the museum. She said, “Um. I didn’t know we had a museum.” We waited for a second or two, and she said, “Oh, is it where the rocks are?” “Yes,” we said. And she was able to point out the building where “the rocks were.”

David said we really should go up in the prayer tower. But it didn’t open until noon, so, no prayer tower visit. We walked to the building where “the rocks were.” We went up the outside steps and into the only part of the building that was open. The only thing that was open up there was the campus book store. We went and asked an employee there about the museum, and yes, she did know where it was, and there was a way to get there from where we were, but she didn’t really know exactly how to do that. The best way, she thought, was to go back out the door, down those steps, and down some other steps, and go in the door down there. Which we did. And, sure enough, right there when we went in, there was a sign that said, “Elsing Museum,” and it opened at 1:30.

So much for “where the rocks” were.

As we walked around the campus, which is pretty, the horticulture was, um, unusual.

IMG_3122IMG_3120David said he thought that some of the plants were those that had biblical references. We saw a couple of trees that were new and interesting to us. I cannot find information on the ORU website. But maybe these plants are biblical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But other plants on campus were more intriguing.

I wondered if there was a horticulture degree at Oral Roberts, but I looked and, no, there’s not. Just some gifted groundskeepers, I guess. Maybe there’s a campus-wide contest each year, and they’re just getting ready.

This was on the grounds of the Chickasaw Nation Visitor's Center. Maybe interestingly trimmed hedges is just an Oklahoma-type thing.

This was on the grounds of the Chickasaw Nation Visitor’s Center. Maybe interestingly trimmed hedges is just an Oklahoma-type thing.

 

 

 

Anyway, the wedding was very sweet, and we got an opportunity to see some family that we don’t get to visit with very often. I got to chat with some preschoolers and hold a baby. And, on the way back to Waco on Sunday afternoon, we stopped in Fort Worth and visited with Peter (and his parents), read him some books, and got to see some amazing magic tricks!

 

Three days later Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at a wedding feast in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited and were there.

John 2:1-2 (Contemporary English Version)

 

The wedding we went to? Jesus was invited and was there, too.

I Was Lulled into Inaction . . .

. . . by the previous two winters. They were mild. And, whenever there was a threat of freezing temperatures, all the plants were just fine. It’s always warmer in my backyard than it is at the airport, ‘way out of town. So, this past December (I think it was), when low temps were forecast, I was an unbeliever. Oh, they’ll be fine I said to myself. And, the big cold front that was supposed to blow in after sundown, blew in a few hours earlier, and I went out and got a cute bougainvillea that I really liked. And I moved other stuff closer to the house, which has worked in the past. Then I came in, too chilled by the earlier-than-expected temperature drop to do much else.

And I lost most everything.

But, there’s some good news!

 

 The flowers are unfolding in the fields;
        the birds are warming up their songs,
 The cooing of the turtledove
        is heard throughout the land.

Song of Solomon 2:12 (The Voice)

 

 

IMG_3068This photo, and I am so not making it up, is a picture that my phone took of the inside of my overalls’ bib pocket. Really. I was working outside and heard the click of a photo being taken. I looked down and saw that the smooth side of a snap, on the inside of the pocket, was right in line with the shutter button on the phone (which was facing forward but upside down). So, there you go. The machines are beginning to take over. I hope they can live peacefully with the plants and flowers.

Christmas Yum!

Yeah, I know. Christmas is made of yummy things. Too many yummy things. But those are some of the memorable things of which Christmas (and other holidays) are made. It’s just not Christmas if we don’t have: Mimi’s cornbread dressing/decorated sugar cookies/homemade cranberry sauce/pecan pie/mashed potatoes with peas/pumpkin pie/sweet potato pie/____(add your own family’s favorite here)___. And, to be honest, nobody in our family really loves those vegetable-based pies; but I know some folks do.

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Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh, Christmas Tree!

 

How lovely are your branches! I love Christmas. I love the lights and the smells and the joy and the wonder and all the other stuff. Like lots and lots of other folks do.

For our first Christmas, we bought a tree at K-Mart. A tree in a box. There was a looming dock strike, and the most talked-about threat was not loss of jobs, not disaster for small businesses. It was, “There won’t be any Christmas trees!” Apparently, fresh evergreen trees are shipped to the Hawaiian Islands for Christmas. And we, not knowing anything different, went to K-Mart for a tree. It was one of those “bottle-brush” artificial trees. We had some ornaments that people in the apartment across from us had left behind when they moved. We’d been to a nice department store and, as we got to the top of the escalator, we smelled the smell of Christmas. We bought the aerosol spray. And we were all set.

The only thing we didn’t have was a tree-top ornament.

Our first non-artificial tree. A little scrawny, but it really did fill up the space better than the barely six-foot artificial one.

Our first non-artificial tree. A little scrawny, but it really did fill up the space better than the barely six-foot artificial one.

We used that tree for several years, then we bought a house and it had 10 foot ceilings. The old tree seemed too short for the new space.

David had been doing work for some folks, out in the country. He’d seen a tree he thought would work for us, and it needed to be cut down anyway. It was great. It made the house smell like Christmas. And instead of the miniature lights that were required, at the time, for artificial trees, we used the large, real Christmas lights that I knew from my childhood. (They were the handed-down lights from Mother and Daddy, so they may have been the lights of my childhood!)

A couple of years later, some friends bought some land out in the country and needed to do some clearing. They offered their place for tree-cutting for Christmas trees. And we went. But, here in Central Texas, the kinds of “evergreen” trees we have growing locally are Cedar Junipers. Yes, they are evergreen. Yes, they smell like Christmas. But they are rather ball-shaped, as opposed to the usual pyramid/cone type of tree that one gets at the tree lot. And, an enormous problem with going out to the country to cut a tree that’s growing out under God’s big, blue sky, is that they don’t look all that big, out there, in the wild.

We had those kinds of trees, for years. Big, full balls of Christmas trees that filled about a third of the dining room. They held several strings of lights and lots and lots of ornaments. But: 1) they do not really have “tops.” They’re a big ball. And 2) they banged right up against the ceiling. David put a big hook (like you would use for a swag light or a hanging plant) into the ceiling and tied the tree to it each year.

So, no tree-top ornament. For years.

 

I resisted the idea of an artificial tree for a long time, mainly because I still wanted those big-bulbed tree lights (you know, the ones from my childhood). A few years ago, I saw an artificial tree at Lowe’s. It had small lights AND big lights!! It cost about a hundred dollars, and I thought that was too much and didn’t get it. And I was instantly sorry. It would be less than the cost of ten trees over ten years time. I went back to Lowe’s and it was gone. I told JoAnne about my poor decision, after I’d been to HEB and gotten a fresh (sort of fresh) tree. She called me a few days later, after her family had gone to Tyler to visit Jim’s mom. “I’m standing in the Lowe’s here, and I think I see the tree you wanted. Do you want me to get it?” Oh, yes, I did want her to get it. It stood, in its box in the garage, for the whole next year, when JoAnne and Natalie were back, and we put it together, and plugged it in. Ta-Dah. An artificial tree with the lights of my childhood.

This year, both sons, both daughters-in-law, and the grandson were with us for Thanksgiving. On Friday, we got that great tree out of its box and worked together putting it up, plugging it in, and decorating. They brought in all the Christmas boxes from the garage, and opened them up to put out other decorations. Jeremy pulled a box from the large can that held the Christmas stockings and asked “What’s this?”

“It’s the tree-top ornament that belonged to my grandparents,” I said.

“Let’s use it,” he said.

“I don’t think it will work,” I said. The opening at the bottom is narrow, and the artificial tree, while not the stiff bottle-brushed tree of our early years still has a rather, um, bristley upright center.

“I’ll try,” he said.

“No, don’t,” I fretted. “It’s very old, and I don’t want it to break.”

“It’ll be all right,” he insisted. And he gently pushed it onto the top of the tree.

 

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Psalm 98:4 (King James Version)

Isaac Watts wrote the the words to “Joy to the World,” based on the second half of Psalm 98. It wasn’t meant to be a Christmas carol. But, aren’t we glad that it turned out that way. Our Christmas traditions, celebrations, and joy are gifts we receive and gifts we give others. Glad tidings to you and yours.