Posts Categorized: Love

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!?!

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.

…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.

 

Oh, They Tell Me of an Uncloudy Day

Many, many years ago, I went to San Antonio as part of a team doing Sunday School leadership training. I was also asked to be a driver, picking up a woman from the Waco area and also a woman in Austin, on the way down. We arrived Friday afternoon, taught a session on Friday evening and another one on Saturday morning. Lunch was provided for all the team members before we headed back home. There was a storm approaching the coast, but things were all sunny in San Antonio, so we stayed, too, and had lunch. As we left the church where the training had taken place, the sky was darkening. It wasn’t a hurricane, by any means, or even a tropical storm. But there was a lot of rain. A whole lot of rain. Pouring, drenching, buckets of rain. We crept along, in a line of cars, cautiously and carefully, all the way from San Antonio to the north side of Austin, almost 100 miles. The rain was only marginally less when we let our Austin passenger out. And, the rest of the way to Waco, my remaining passenger and I relished the idea that we’d be getting some needed rain, too. It was one of those “almost no rainfall all summer” years.

We drove on towards Waco, and, about five miles away from the city limits, the rain stopped, the clouds dissipated, and the hot summer sun shone down on us. We were so disappointed!

This past weekend was, of course, quite different. We got two days of steady, gentle rainfall. The temperatures (which really haven’t been horribly hot) dropped fifteen degrees or so. The weather was great. I sat on the front porch and read. And, when the rain stopped, early this week, I worked in the yard, every day. And I felt guilty the whole time, because I know exactly why we are having such nice weather.

Everyone I know who lives in coastal Texas is doing all right. There’s been some inconvenience, some necessary traveling, some lost trees, some spoiled food because the power was out. But they’re all doing okay. No one I know has lost property, lost vehicles, lost pets, lost loved ones. And here’s the scripture that accompanied the devotional I read Thursday morning, the verses under the heading: “Rules for Christian Living”

 

Let your hope make you glad. Be patient in time of trouble and never stop praying.  Take care of God’s needy people and welcome strangers into your home.

Romans 12: 12,13 (Contemporary English Version)

 

Timely words, as we pray for some uncloudy days.

 

 

At the end of last week, Peter came for a visit before starting Pre-K this Thursday.

 

Here’s the Wikipedia reference for the song Uncloudy Day

Here’s a video of the song, refered to as Unclouded Day

 

 

 

 

 

Learning Curve? It’s More Like a Learning Ski Jump!

My most recent phone. It's pretty. And, of course, I needed a case that would let the prettiness show!

My most recent phone. It’s pretty. And, of course, I needed a case that would let the prettiness show!

I dug my heels in for a long time, avoiding a mobile phone. I just didn’t feel that I needed to be only one touch away from having to talk/listen at any time in any place. Until Kevin and April got iPhones and brought them to show us, and I was overwhelmed by what all the “phones” could do. They’re really less phones than little bitty computers that I can carry around. And take photos with. And look up stuff with. And get directions with. And, really, it’s not anything that you or anyone else, worldwide, don’t already know about.

I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit that I can’t actually recall how many phones I’ve had. Only one had to be replaced because I dropped it. Several times. Once on concrete. The others I’ve just gotten because some family member has said something like, “You’re due for an upgrade,” or, “The new phones are out!” That sort of thing.

All that said, I still struggle with knowing exactly how and what to do for one thing or another. For example:

Two or three weeks ago, I went online one Thursday evening to put up the week’s blog post, and I couldn’t get onto the website. That’s the sort of thing that I absolutely do not know how to navigate, so I phoned Jeremy in a panic. He tried from his computer in Brooklyn and had the same result–can’t get in! He said to hang up, and he’d work on it and call me back.

I opened up a word processing document and started writing so that, when he figured out what to do, I’d be able to cut and paste the post into the web site. I was pounding away (actually, it’s not really “pounding” any more, is it; it’s keyboarding, or inputting), writing out words, making paragraphs that I hoped I’d be able to post. And, while I was typing, I thought someone next door must be mowing, or edging. The sound was so loud that it created a vibration strong enough that I could feel it in my fingers, as I typed. I reached out and touched the window sill, but it didn’t seem to be vibrating.

Here's my desk. This is what it looked like, while I was waiting for Jeremy to phone me back. The phone was RIGHT THERE!! Next to me on the desk.

Here’s my desk. This is what it looked like, while I was waiting for Jeremy to phone me back. The phone was RIGHT THERE!! Next to me on the desk.

I typed on along, and then I heard a text ding and saw the text slide across the upper corner of the computer screen. From Jeremy: “When one is expecting a call, one generally stays by the phone. Or brings the phone with them.” I picked up the phone (which was indeed vibrating, which is what I had been feeling in my fingers on the keyboard).

“IT DIDN’T RING,” I said (a little loudly). “It’s right here on the desk next to me and IT DIDN’T RING!!!” (This is an issue I often have with my up-to-date, modern children. Sometimes, often, the phone doesn’t vibrate when it’s in my pocket, so I don’t know when they’ve called. And now, when I was anxiously waiting for a phone call, it did. not. ring!)

“It’s there next to you?” “YES!” “Screen up or screen down?” he asked.

“Screen down,” I said. “Well, Mom,” he said sort of gently, or maybe just amused. “People put their phones screen down when they want to not be disturbed.”

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME!” I said. (I was pretty irritated by everything and yelled rather a lot that evening.) “ALL THE TIMES I’VE SAID TO YOU GUYS THAT MY PHONE’S NOT RINGING AND NOBODY EVER THOUGHT TO TELL ME THAT?!?!?!?!”

I really, seriously rely on the computer/phone intelligentsia in my family to help me navigate through all the iPhone problems. Because, despite what they say and think, it is not intuitive for me. Even after all these years. I can do all sorts of things on the phone. I am stymied by all sorts of other things on my phone.

“And why does it do that,” I went on with Jeremy. “Putting it screen down seems natural to me.”

“That’s because you’re old,” he said. And he’s right. On several levels.

When I think about how I used to hold a phone receiver (you know, the kind that’s attached by a cord to the big ol’ dial-on-the-front phone itself), when I said “good-bye,” I took the receiver from my ear and put it, business-end down on the phone. Which is the natural motion for me to use when I’m done with an iPhone call. I pull the phone away from my ear and put it, business-end down, on the desk/table/bed. And then, unbeknownst to me, it goes into “do not disturb” mode.

My most recent phone. It's pretty. And, of course, I needed a case that would let the prettiness show!

There’s a solution to this. When Kevin and April and Jeremy were here for Independence Day, Kevin took over my phone for a few minutes and diddled around and handed it back. “Call her,” he said to one of the others.

See that small, dark circle in the phone’s top left-hand corner? That’s the viewer of the phone’s camera. The little white circle next to it is the flash, in case a shot needs extra illumination. Whatever Kevin did makes that light flash like a strobe when I get an incoming call. It’s a little hard to miss.

And that is what those intelligentsia are for.

 

Good judgment proves
    that you are wise,
    and if you speak kindly,
    you can teach others.

Proverbs 16:21 (Contemporary English Version)

I guess I need to work a little bit (or a lot) on speaking kindly, even when I’m frustrated. Or feeling stupid. Or overwhelmed. Or mystified. Or … I could go on and on.

 

Years ago,  Kevin and April got new phones that had Siri (the app that you talk to, and who talks back to you, for answers to questions and for information). Kevin was really enjoying asking and getting responses and showing us what all that Siri-girl can do. At one point, he said, “Hey, Siri, text April and tell my wife I love her.” And Siri said, “Texting April to tell my wife I love her.” Okay. There were some fine points to figure out.

The next morning, he and my sister and I were up, and he was still enjoying his new phone friend. I asked what was the difference between the iPhone 4 and 4s, and which one did they have (I do pay a little attention to ads and commercials). All full of his computery self, Kevin picked up his phone and said, “Hey, Siri. Tell my mother what the difference is between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4s.”

And Siri said, “I do not know who your mother is.”

iPhones are a lot of fun.

 

Tweaking Traditions

I’ve mentioned before how family traditions get started, continued, and sometimes, wrung dry and parched after a while. Our family pretty much embraces favorite traditions, as in the Fourth of July Flag Cake.

Another tradition that we continue is THE PHOTO. As in, “Wait, wait! Don’t cut the cake yet! We haven’t taken THE PHOTO!”

1980-Not everyone enjoys having their picture taken with the flag cake.

1980-Not everyone enjoys having their picture taken with the flag cake.

 

 

This was/is the original PHOTO. Jeremy, not even 3 years old, wasn’t a kid who enjoyed having his photo taken. He’s even decked out in the patriotic shirt, handed down from his older brother, that dated back to the bicentennial (1976). Kevin, age 7, was gamely trying to do his part. A few years later, as we were looking back at previous Independence Day photos, someone picked up the flag cake, before it got sliced and served, and suggested that it might be humorous to re-create the photo. And we did.

 

 

 

There was a photo every year and lots of interesting cakes. There was an ice cream roll cake, and cakes with fruit decorations, and many, many variations of red, white, and/or blue shirts. But this seemed like a representative selection. And I’m really happy with my leftover cake dilemma. And there was always leftover cake. So this year, I made some sugar cookie dough and cut long strips and a blue rectangle. I made strips with red glaze and sprinkles and white glaze and sprinkles and thirteen little white stars to go on the blue rectangle. (Not historically accurate, but I will be thrilled to hand over the job to anyone who asks for it!) Almost all of it got eaten up, right there at the lunchtime table.

And here are a couple of more photos that we’re happy about.

 

Six days before Passover Jesus went back to Bethany, where he had raised Lazarus from death.  A meal had been prepared for Jesus. Martha was doing the serving, and Lazarus himself was there.

John 12:1,2 (Contemporary English Version)

I used this a couple of years ago, for a July 4 blog. I like it. I like the idea of Jesus sharing meals with the people around him, with whom he had friendships. I like when we have meals together with friends and family, too.

 

 

 

 

growing

 

Sometimes, I sort of miss the baby. I miss being able to pick him up and nuzzle his cheeks and carry him around. I miss holding him while he slept. I miss being able to catch up to him, when he was toddling away and all I had to do was walk fast. Those days are long gone.

Instead, I get to listen to him read books. He can walk on the treadmill. I insist that I stand behind him, with my feet on the edges, while he walks, but he can hold on by himself. I get to paint with him, because he still would rather paint with company, instead of painting alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Train children in the right way,
    and when old, they will not stray.

Proverbs 22:6 (New Revised Standard Version)

I once heard Charles Swindoll talk about this verse. He said that adults often approach these words as meaning that they are the ones who decide a child’s “way.” Instead, he said, our job is to be with our children, study our children, appreciate our children’s abilities, and help them become the people that God means them to be. If a parent has always dreamed of having physician in the family, then it might be hard to accept a teacher or writer or businessperson. Between home and school and church, children need to have all sorts of experiences to help them discover what interests them, what challenges them, what intrigues them. It’s a joint effort.

IMG_3864Meanwhile, if the thunderstorms forecast for Friday morning don’t materialize, Peter and I are going to put on our overalls and do a little yard work (in case Peter decides on horticulture).

 

Geology Rocks

This is the view down my street, looking from south to north. Front yards all flat.

This is the view down my street, looking from south to north. Front yards all flat.

This is the backyard, looking towards the north.

This is my backyard, looking towards the north.

At our house (which is my childhood home), the front yard is flat. But the back yard has a slope. It always has. We used to roll down the hill. (We were much smaller then, and it seemed like a hill. It’s more of a slope.) The first summer my family was in the house, we, with our neighbors, played kickball in the backyard, from our yard and into the neighbors’. (Erase the hedges and fence and trees and grass.) Home base was about where I stood to take this photo. First and third bases were about at the lot line, and I cannot even remember where second base was. Far into the neighbor’s yard, I guess.

We didn’t really think about the hills in the yards. All the lots that backed up to ours were flat. Almost all the nearby streets were flat. Just a few blocks away, there were hills. When I went to ride down Wooded Acres, there was an amazing, glorious, steep hill; a wonderful speedy ride down. But, then, a tedious, strenuous ride back up, which usually ended in a walk back up. If I went the other direction from my house, from my flatish neighborhood, there were hills, too, but not as steep. And if I got a good fast ride down, I might be able to get enough speed to propel me back up, with just a little bit of pumping to get me to the top.

And we never really thought about the sloping backyards and flat backyards. That’s just the way the yards were.

 

 

JoAnne was a geology major at Baylor. For one semester. Doing some research for a class, she came across some interesting data. It seems there’s a fault running through our backyards. It shows up in some geological maps she was pouring over. Not a giant fault. Just a small, gently sloping, hill-rolling fault. The kind that most neighborhoods should have.

For more than a month, I’ve been working in the yard, almost every weekday. Trimming things, and pulling weeds, and planting things, and spreading mulch, and just sort of cleaning up. At my age, I need lots of time to do even the simplest kinds of yard work. But, as I walk up and down and up and down and up and down my sloping back yard, I’m beginning to feel the difference in my leg muscles. And as I clip and dig and haul, I think my arms are growing stronger.

Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;

Isaiah 40:4 (New King James Version)

Fill in the valleys,
    level off the hills,
Smooth out the ruts,
    clear out the rocks.

Isaiah 40:4 (The Message)

I love the King James Version of this verse because it’s part of Handel’s Messiah and I cannot just read it. I sing it in my head when I see or hear these words.

I love the Message version, because it communicates to me that I am the one who should be doing the work. So as I work physically, smoothing out the flower beds, clearing the rocks out of the garden, I can think also of the work I could and should be doing metaphorically, smoothing out rough places in people’s lives, making difficult situations easier, removing obstacles. Maybe it should be a change in attitude. I know the slope in the yard makes it more difficult to mow, but, it’s a great way to strengthen thigh muscles, and a perfect place for little kids to practice their rolling skills.

 

 

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.