Posts Categorized: Love

Angels Unawares*

A stranger was kind to me a couple of days ago. I thought it might make a blog post, and I thought of the quote “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

I looked up that quote, to be able to attribute it correctly. I put “kindness quotes” in the search engine, and got a page of poster-like things containing various quotes written in cute scripts and fonts, all attractively portrayed. The quote I was searching for appeared several times. It’s by Tennessee Williams from the play A Streetcar Named Desire, spoken by the character Blanche DuBois. When I looked for the context of the comment, I decided it wasn’t what I was looking for.

I found this: “You cannot imagine the kindness I’ve received at the hands of perfect strangers.” Somerset Maugham. This quote is from the novel The Narrow Room, and I can only find the briefest blurb about it, so, with no real context, I’m not sure it’s what I’m wanting, either.

I kept on looking at the quotes, which seem to be basically screen shots of posters. I found a couple I liked:

“The unexpected kindness of strangers when you’re having a stressful day just makes everything easier.” Lacey Chabert (actress, voice actress)

“At this point, the only reliable resource is the kindness of friends and strangers.” Robert Hayes (actor in such productions as Airplane and Sharknado 2)

“If you rely on the kindness of strangers, be prepared one day to pay them back.” Linda Poindexter

I’m unfamiliar with Linda Poindexter, and when I searched for her, I found that there are several ladies who share that same name. I think she’s the one who was an Episcopal priest.

I also like this non-stranger-related quote from her:

“If one drop of rain can find its way to the ocean, then one prayer can find its way to God.” Linda Poindexter

But, on to the stranger issue. I’ve mentioned before about how I occasionally embarrass Jeremy in New York by trying to chat (in a friendly way) with people in the grocery store, the way I do in Waco, Texas. Earlier this week, I said, “Oh, excuse me” a couple of times, when I rounded a corner from one aisle to another, and came cart-to-cart with another shopper. We smiled at each other and went on. Someone barrelled out in front of me and said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t see you.” And we smiled at each other. We just interact more, and in friendly ways, here in the Lone Star State, even though we are pretty much strangers to each other.

Which brings me to the kind stranger I met earlier this week. I was heading into church Wednesday morning, to help clean out a supply room. The wind was howling and I was shivering as I walked across the parking lot. I did have on a dress and extra shirt, a sweater, and a jacket (all buttoned up to my chin). A few people were walking in, too–leaders for the community college-staffed English and GED classes that we provide space for, Monday-Thursday mornings.

My heavy knit jacket–
I replaced the buttons recently. The button holes had stretched a little bit, and the buttons kept popping out.

The back of my jacket–
This is how the tie belt was tied when I bought the jacket, and how it usually stays.

A woman was walking a few feet ahead of me, and as we walked into the building, we were commenting on the chilly, blustery day. There are two sets of doors at the entrance, and as I walked through the second one, I realized there was another lady behind me. “Oh, exucse me,” I said. “I didn’t see you there.” We smiled at each other and walked on in. A few feet further, there are a couple of steps up into the main hallway.

“Oh, wait! Wait!” She said. I stopped and turned around, but she went on toward my back. Her arms were full of her teaching supplies, but, one-handed, she untied the fabric belt at the back of my jacket. She reached around and pulled one end of the belt and the other around my waist.

“Tie it,” she said. And then smiled in satisfaction when I’d had it snugly around my waist. “It’s warmer now,” she said. And I said, “Thanks.”

She went happily along to her classroom, and for the rest of the day, I made sure my belt was tied when I was out in the wind.

Maybe in Brooklyn, or other places, someone might have said, “Mind your own business!” Maybe in Brooklyn, she’d never have been so bold. And while I was a little startled, I took it in what I’m imagining was a loving concern. A kindness from a stranger.

 

Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:2 (Christian Standard Bible)

One of the poster screen shots had the “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers” quote, but attributed it to W.E.B. Dubois. Hmmmm. No, I didn’t think so. I looked up Mr. Dubois and found several quotes (none, however, related to strangers). I liked these:

“Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.”

“The most important thing to remember is this: To be ready at any moment to give up what you are for what you might become.” W.E.B. Dubois, PhD.

* The King James Version translation of Hebrews 13:2 says: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” When I was growing up, I always thought that “unawares” was a word that modified the noun “angels,” instead of the verb “entertained.” I didn’t really know what “angels unawares” were, but it sounded lovely.

 

New Year’s Reflections

The new year (I know, I’m a little behind) is a time for looking back and seeing how things have gone (or, are going).

The fingernail report–

Back in the fall, I had a cyst removed from my nailbed. It took forever to grow all the way out. If you’re interested, you can read the story.

It seems I’m always loosing plants during cold weather because I’m not diligent about taking care of them. Here’s:

The plant report-

Another year older

The boy report–

Three years from “head all the way below the bar” to “head all the way above the bar.”

So, my health, my yard, my grandson. Things that preoccupy my thoughts and time and energy. I could place a lot of “happy face” emojis here, but … I guess I’m still more a word person.

 

 

Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle.

James 1:17 (The Message)

 

This is how I feel sometimes–like rivers of light are cascading down on me, in the things that give me such joy and delight.

Christmas Perfect, or Christmas Memorable

If all your Christmases run smoothly, and everything’s perfect–just like it was so carefully planned, how do you remember one Christmas from another? Do they just blur together, in one big holiday collage of red and green and a tree and lights?

Not at our house. We live in RealWorldLand, where the best laid plans stay lying around, being balky and uncooperative, which means that we are often, at holiday time, remembering previous disasters/missteps/etc. Like, “Remember the time Mom put Snickers bars in the toes of our Christmas stockings, and we had the fire going on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning, and when we dug the candy bars out, they were all melted in their wrappers?” Stuff like that. Nothing particularly serious. Just memorable.

Jeremy and Sarah arrived the Friday before Christmas, from New York. They rented a car and drove to Waco from DFW airport. (Even though Jeremy really appreciates the public transportation in New York, he seems to have missed, a little bit, being able to drive.) We had a pretty relaxing time, doing some cooking (there were still some apples left over from Halloween, and they crafted some homemade applesauce, which was yummy, and for Christmas dessert, they made Apple Crisp). Memorable.

Jeremy dug through the game closet and pulled out games to play.

Jeremy and Sarah and I played a round of Ticket to Ride. Then we played again with David. I was in last place, seriously in last place, both times. Then, we played again with Kevin. I won. By a lot! Which proves that, while a little bit of skill is important, luck plays a significant part in this game. Memorable.

Also memorable this year, April wasn’t able to come. Peter had been sick, but was well enough to come (if you don’t count that fact that his ears were still stopped up and he often appeared to be ignoring us). April, however, was pretty sick, missed her own family’s celebration, and stayed in Fort Worth. We’ll remember that Christmas without April, but we hope it doesn’t happen again.

As I planned and prepared for Christmas dinner, I kept thinking, “Oh, I should have  . . . .” And I bought the ingredients. (And, I had actually baked and sliced two small turkey breasts for Christmas dinner ‘way back right after Thanksgiving, and put them in the freezer. Unusually ahead of time.) Quite memorable.

Kevin and Peter were arriving late afternoon on  Christmas, and we were cooking and getting ready for a good part of the day. The counter just kept getting more and more crowded. Just as I was putting some of the final dishes out, I suddenly felt really weak and shaky. I plopped into the rocking chair in the kitchen and said, “My blood sugar’s low.” “What do you need? What do you need!” “Juice,” I said. “There’s white grape juice in the fridge door.” They brought it over, and kept putting out food and arranging things. The turkey was heating up in the oven, and they kept asking what else was supposed to be out and where was it. Finally, it was just the turkey that needed to come out.

Some nice, sliced turkey pieces, lying artfully amid the glass pie plate shards.

 

Jeremy picked up the glass pie pan that was holding the turkey slices and carried it to the serving area. About three inches away, the pan slipped from the pot holder in his hand and crashed to the floor. Turkey and glass shards everywhere. Fortunately, some of the turkey was still in the oven. On another pie plate.

Jeremy looked down at the mess and said, “Was that plate special?” “Well,” I admitted. “It belonged to my mother … but I have the other one. There’s another one!” There was enough turkey for everyone (well, for the everyone who’s not vegetarian). Pretty memorable.

 

The kids worked on a desk/bookshelf for David’s office. Then they erected a small enclosed (plastic) greenhouse sort of thing, for me to use to keep my plants safe during the winter. Mem.Or.A.Ble!

And some things aren’t all that memorable; they’re just traditions that we like to keep up!

We went to the Christmas Eve service. Maybe we won’t remember the exact details a few months from now, but it was good to see family members who have come back for the holiday to visit. It was good to sit in the dark with my own family, and hear the songs and the story. It was good to see the candlelights all around the room. It was memorable.

 

Mary, too, pondered all of these events, treasuring each memory in her heart.

Luke 2:19 (The Voice)

Wishing you many memorable moments to treasure in your heart.

 

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.