Posts Categorized: Patience

…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.

 

 

It’s Probably a Wart

Goofy looking nail spot. Do not be alarmed by the big lump on the side; that’s just my old lady arthritic joint.

A few weeks ago I noticed a spot on my left index fingernail. I thought I  probably bumped it on something when I was working out in the yard, or doing housework, or playing with Peter, but it didn’t go away. And as the nail grew out, the little spot stayed in place, but the bottom of the nail was looking really strange. So couple of weeks ago I called my doctor to see if I could get in to get it checked out, and they said the doctor’s schedule was full, but I could see her physician’s assistant. Two weeks ago, I went in to make that visit, and the young physician’s assistant looked at my nail and said, “I’ve never seen a skin cancer on a nail before. Well, I’ve seen them in photographs in my textbooks, but I never seen one in real life, so I’m not sure about this. I’d like a doctor to look at it.” When she went to see if she could catch the doctor between patients, she returned looking a little bit alarmed and said, “The doctor is dealing with something way more urgent than what’s going on in here, and I am just sure that she’s going to want you to see a dermatologist, so I’m going to go ahead and make that referral for you. Our office will call you when I get that set up.” And sure enough the very next day, I had a voicemail that said they’d set up an appointment with the dermatologist, and it would be on the 13th at 8:50, but I should be there at 8:15 to do paperwork. So I went on Wednesday to see the dermatologist.

She got out a big, big magnifier and looked intently at my finger for several minutes and said, “The good news is I can tell you this is not a melanoma which is the very worst kind of cancer. It might be a different kind, called Squamous cell carcinoma, or it might be a wart. It looks more like a wart, but I can’t remove it right now because I’ve got patients all day. And we have to numb you up, which takes a while. When can you come in?” “As soon as possible,” I said. “Can you come back this afternoon?” “I certainly can come back this afternoon.” They checked her patient schedule, and said could I come at 3:15 and I said, “Sure.”

The doctor suggested that I take some Tylenol right before I came. That would help, not because the procedure was going to be painful, but afterwards things could be painful as numbing agent wore off. Plus, she would give me a prescription for an additional kind of pain reliever. So I ran some errands, picked up some dinner, and showed back up at 3:15. Despite the fact then I’m in doctor’s offices and stores all the time, I still neglected to bring a jacket or sweater with me. They put me on a couch sort of table, which was very comfortable, with a pillow under my head and my feet elevated. I asked, “Are there blankets here?” and there were. I was quite cozy when the doctor came in and did the first round of numbing with some sharply pointed needles poking here and there around my finger. “Now then,” she said, “we’re going to give you some time to get numb, and I’ll be back,” and she left. I had a very nice little nap.

When she returned, the nurse added a wide arm to the bed to support my own arm, and the doctor said, “Let’s see how numb you are. Can you feel that?” I could feel various pricks as she was putting in more numbing agent. “What about this?” “Yes, I feel that. Yes. Yes. Just a little bit. No. No. No.” Soon, I appeared to be all completely deadened. Knowing that, she went to work. She said, “I’m going to take your nail off, and we’re going to take this wart off.”  She said “I’m digging and digging and digging under here, and I don’t see any evidence of anything else growing under there. I think I’ve got everything.”  Then, “We are going to send that to be biopsied, just so I will know for sure.” She kept on working and explaining, “I’m only lifting up one side of your nail. The other side is attached, and I put your nail back down. I’m going to use a suture to attach your nail back onto your finger. It will look a little strange, but that is going to keep your nail down, in case it gets caught on something. We don’t want it to get torn completely off!” When she was done, she wrapped everything up in lots of gauze and sent me on my way.

All wrapped up and ready to go!

It didn’t take very long, and of course it was painless, as I was wildly numbed up. I had to make another stop at Target for an antibiotic I’m supposed to take. Then back home. I felt fine and did some work and a crossword puzzle or two and found that I could type pretty easily with the bandaged finger. When the numbing seemed to be wearing off, I took one of the pain pills and went to bed. In a couple of hours, I woke up to to the real world. My finger was really, seriously painful. I got up and took another pain pill. I slept on and off until 7:00. I got up and took another pain pill and went back to bed and slept until 11 and got up and had breakfast. It’s still a little uncomfortable. I’m supposed to go back in 10 days for them to take the stitches out. All in all, it hasn’t been that bad. I’d rather know what it is (or isn’t) and deal with it, than ignore it and hope it’s nothing.

 

One of the unexpected bonuses is that I learned how to dictate on the computer, so that my words, pretty much the way I have said them, pop up on the computer. I didn’t know it would do punctuation (but you have to say the punctuation), so I’ve had to go back and do that, and there were some run-on words and things I have to edit. But when you think about all of the typing that would’ve been required to do this with the storage (yes, the computer thought I said “storage” instead of “bandaged”) finger, it’s a wonderful new discovery and skill.

 

Later Jesus and his disciples were at home having supper with a collection of disreputable guests. Unlikely as it seems, more than a few of them had become followers. The religion scholars and Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company and lit into his disciples: “What kind of example is this, acting cozy with the riffraff?”

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.”

Mark 2: 15-17 (The Message)

 

I’m grateful to have in my life the people who help me in all the ways I ail.

Fashion-notsta

It’s a miracle that the folks at Target let me purchase clothing any more. The number of things I return far outweighs the things I keep. The challenge is that I prefer to try on clothes in my own bedroom instead of the dressing rooms at Target. More space, better lighting, and the presence of things I already own, like shirts and jackets and skirts and tops, that I want to try on with the new items, to see if they work well together.

I have noticed, in the recent seasons (spring and summer and, coming up, fall), that some dresses I brought home, expecting them to work, have not. There seems to be a trend to long skirted dresses. Not all, but some. And, I like a longer skirt. As a senior adult woman, I like my skirts to at least make it to my knees. And I rather like the ones that hit me mid-shin. I’ve brought home several of the longish dresses, and taken them all back. Here’s the problem:

They’re all too long. Seriously too long. As a senior adult woman, I know that I’m a little bit shorter than I was as a young adult, but I’m still on the tallish side. Then I figured out what the problem was. I’m wearing the wrong shoes.

So, that explains things. I’m sure those long dresses look lovely on those young ladies who are walking around in those tall, tall shoes. I hope they’re saving up their pennies for their podiatrists. Well, when they have to get a podiatrist.

 

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
    they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the Lord,
    they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
    they will stay fresh and green,

Psalm 92:12-14 (New International Version)

 

I’ve had three doctors’ appointments in the past three weeks. And the urgent trip back to the doctor about those pesky, stinging bugs (seriously, I can still see the puncture marks!). I’m only seeing the kidney guys once a year, now, and the podiatrist said, “six months away” for the next appointment, instead of the usual four. At the primary care doctor, she was looking over my lab work and said “creatine (a kidney-related number) is 1.2.” “That’s good, right?” I asked. She looked again, at my GFR, which is my kidney function, which tanked five years ago at 15.7%. “Your GFR is 43%” “ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!” So, five years of: no bananas, no tomatoes, no potatoes, no anything-else-that-is-tasty. Apparently it’s working.

 

It’s Harder to Take a Photo of One’s Own Arm Than I Thought It Would Be

Taking a photo of one’s leg is easier, of course, because you have both of your hands for holding the camera/phone and pressing the shutter (or whatever that part of a phone’s apparatus is called). If you’re wanting an arm in the photo, then a single hand has to hold the camera/phone at the right angle and press the shutter/button. Harder than I thought. And, of course, why would I actually want photos of my arms?

Last week, Thursday and Friday evenings and Saturday morning, I was at church with some preschoolers, having Fun with Friends. Saturday morning, we were out on a small patio area next to the playground, making paint footprints. As the last kid was getting his feet washed off, another child opened the gate at the bottom of a fire escape. I walked over and reminded him that the gate is supposed to stay shut. I closed the gate and reached down to fasten the latch and suddenly felt a BIG pain on my wrist. I looked and there was this insect jabbing a long stinger into me. I reached over with my other hand to swat it away and saw ANOTHER one of the things on my other arm.

 

I yelped to the other teacher that something was biting me and we needed to get back inside. Fast.

I've had a couple of people say, based on my description, that they think they've seem something similar, but no one know exactly what it is.

I’ve had a couple of people say, based on my description, that they think they’ve seem something similar, but no one know exactly what it is.

 

This is the, um, essence of the insect. It seemed like a mosquito on steroids. But the more I’ve thought about it, it wasn’t biting like a mosquito, it was stinging like a wasp. It’s body was long and very thin, and that stinger thing was really long, and really painful. I think the whole insect was about an inch-and-a-half long, but really thin.

Sunday morning, there were red areas on both arms. But Sunday evening, there was swelling. And itching. I had some cortisone cream I used. And I bought something else to use (Tricalm, which helped, but just a little). I didn’t get much sleep Sunday night, and called the doctor’s office first thing Monday morning. I couldn’t get in to see my doctor, but, if I could come right away, I could see her Physician’s Assistant. I went right away.

I got a prescription for a stronger cream, but no oral antihistamine. That causes a rise in blood glucose levels, which, as a diabetic, I shouldn’t take. I skittered on to Target to pick up the cream and hurried on home to use it. It did help.

I slept much better Monday night and Tuesday the swelling was almost gone. And that made it easier to see exactly where the stings were.

And, with much less swelling, it was clear to see where the puncture marks were.

But today, Thursday, as I write this, things are very much better. I didn’t need any more cream on Wednesday or today. There’s no more itching, but still some redness. And, of course, I really am grateful that I’m the one who riled them up, and not one of the preschoolers.

Meanwhile, there were friends and there was fun.

ART-

 

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about.

Psalm 1139:14a (The Living Bible)

 

What wonderful minds and bodies we have! We have brains that learn and are creative, from our beginnings to our ends. Our bodies know how to grow and heal. We are wonderfully complex!

The Square of the Hypotenuse . . . or, A Useful Thing I Learned in Math Class

Here, it's the slanty side, labeled "c." In Right Triangle Land, the hypotenuse is always "c."

Here, it’s the slanty side, labeled “c.” In Right Triangle Land, the hypotenuse is always “c.”

I don’t know if it happened in some regular math class, or in Algebra or in Geometry, or in all of them, but at some point I learned the term “hypotenuse” and what it meant–which is: In a Right Triangle (which is any triangle that has a right angle [90°]), the side opposite that right angle is called the hypotenuse. And I find the idea useful when I’m walking in parking lots.

When I’m shopping, let’s say at Target, and I leave the store with my bag(s) and maybe a cart, I’ve got to walk across two lanes of parking lot traffic to get to the parked cars. The drivers in those lanes are, of course, or at least we hope of course, driving pretty slowly. One: they’re trying to be careful of pedestrians entering and leaving the store. Two: they’re trying to find good parking spots. Hmm. I think finding the parking spots might be their first priority, and the shopping public a little further down their list of concerns. But, ordinarily, no one is speeding in that space in front of the store’s entrances. (And, there are a couple of stop signs, too.)

When shoppers leave the store, they usually head precisely toward the spaces where their cars are parked, because the shortest distance between two points is a straight line (also a Geometry fact).

 

IMG_4212Let’s say that some guy parked his white car in the spot that’s way over on the left side of the photo. He may have parked there because he’s got to return something, and the Customer Service counter is by that closest door, the one at the front of the right-hand side on the photo. He returns his merchandise and then thinks that he might like to have a latte from the Target Starbuck’s, so he walks on down there. Then, he thinks he’s hungry, too, and a pretzel would be tasty. The snack bar is right beside the farther door, so he gets his pretzel and walks out that door. Then, he realizes that he’s gone out the wrong door, but it’s early in the morning and not blazing hot, yet. So he starts walking toward his car. He walks in a straight line (that being the shortest distance), from the door to his car, i.e. diagonally across the whole length of those lanes. And, if I and someone else are driving up towards him, and a couple of other cars are approaching from behind him, we’ve all got to stop and wait for him to make that long walk. We might be able to inch up some, but basically, at some point, his walking is slowing down both lanes of car traffic. Instead, the more helpful route would have been to leave the building and walk straight across that lane where cars drive (see Side a, above). Then, he could walk down Side b, towards his parked car, still having to cross the distance between the lines of parked cars where vehicles might be driving, but there wouldn’t be quite as much traffic slow-down. Or, he could have walked all the way down the sidewalk in front of the building (side b) and then across the busier lanes (side a). And, obviously, at 8:30 in the morning (photo time), it’s not much of an issue. But, on a Saturday afternoon. Ollie, Mollie, Gollie. It really would help a lot!

IMG_4215

Same thing at the HEB grocery store. There is a much wider space for cars driving back and forth, coming and going, searching for the best place to park. But the grocery store shoppers often have filled-to-the-brim carts and sometimes lots of family members, some of them rather short. Walking straight across instead of opting for the lengthier, diagonal route, would be safer.

 

In Math Classdom, the hypotenuse is famous for its place in the Pythagorean theorem, which Wikipedia defines as:

In mathematics, the Pythagorean theorem, also known as Pythagoras’s theorem, is a fundamental relation in Euclidean geometry among the three sides of a right triangle. It states that the square of the hypotenuse (the side opposite the right angle) is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides. The theorem can be written as an equation relating the lengths of the sides a, b and c, often called the “Pythagorean equation”:[1]

 a^{2}+b^{2}=c^{2},

where c represents the length of the hypotenuse and a and b the lengths of the triangle’s other two sides.

The example we got in Math class was a triangle where side “a” was 3 inches and side “b” was 4 inches and the hypotenuse was 5 inches. So: 3 squared (9) + 4 squared (16) = 5 squared (25).

(If you’re at all interested in reading more, and who wouldn’t be, here’s the Wikipedia link.)

 

The inside of the Lord’s temple was ninety feet long, thirty feet wide, and forty-five feet high.

1 Kings 6:2 (Contemporary English Version)

The hypotenuse of that space would have been about  94.87, as per the Calculate the Hypotenuse of a Right Triangle website.

IMG_4208And, something that is not at all germane to this conversation, but look what I found on the front sidewalk this morning. It’s a cicada. It didn’t seem very healthy, but it was early in the morning, and he might have just been fresh out of his little pupating shell. I’ve seen several round holes in the side yard, by the ferns. Maybe it’s cicada coming-out-party time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Time for Everything, A Season for Every Activity

Here it is … Thursday night again. Well, I don’t know, of course, when you’re reading this, but for me, at the computer, it’s Thursday night. Peter’s been here since Monday, and we’ve had Children’s Bible Club each evening at church. I taught in the Pre-K room, along with two other teachers. We had five or six kids each evening, and we all had a very good time.

It’s Vacation Bible School (or VBS), but we call it Children’s Bible Club (or CBC), and it’s a long story why, but it’s the same thing.

We’d discussed earlier in the week how the play dough (green) seemed to be getting smaller and smaller, and how, possibly, we should make some more. So this evening, when the kids had all arrived, and before dinner came (yes, all the kids get dinner each evening), I pulled out the play dough ingredients and the skillet, so we could cook up a fresh batch. We had already decided on the color choice. Pink. When I had asked about color, two girls voted for pink, two boys voted for two different colors. The third boy abstained. So, the pink won.

We put all the ingredients into the skillet, and each kid who wanted to stir, got a turn to stir the play dough batter. (Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that that seems to make a nicer batch of homemade play dough.) When dinner came, I moved the skillet to a counter. I plugged it in, but it seemed to be wobbling. I looked, and one of the skillet’s feet was sitting on, oh, yes, my phone.

As an aside here, earlier, at the zoo, I sharply said to a mom whom we were walking with (and playing with her kids) that I was amazed by and disappointed in the women’s fashion industry. “Why, in this day and age, do clothing designers continue to put inadequate pockets in women’s clothes!?!” She agreed. My phone had fallen out of my pocket … not while I was sitting down (which does sometimes happen, when there’s an inadequate pocket), but while I was walking! That’s how shallow the pocket was. That is a BAD pocket. I have had that dress for a while, and I’m trying to be more careful and conscious when I buy clothes. But it’s REALLY frustrating. Anyway …

The reason my phone was on the counter was because it wouldn’t stay in my pocket. I had taken it out of my purse to have nearby, instead of being in my purse, hanging on a hook on the back of the door. So, I had put it on the counter. The skillet’s not that heavy and the phone certainly wasn’t damaged by having one of it’s feet on it for a few seconds. I lifted the skillet’s edge, by holding the handle, of course, because it was plugged in and beginning to heat up. I quickly picked up my phone.

And dropped it into the uncooked play dough batter.

And yelped.

Another teacher came to my rescue, and began to stir the play dough, so it would cook nice and evenly. I snatched up some paper towels, and began to frantically wipe off my phone. There are all those openings in the case, for me to be able to turn the phone on and off and the volume up and down and take photos. It took many seconds for me to pull the case off, but finally I could begin wiping the thing down. Both things down. I guess it only took a few seconds, because I was done and the case back on by time the play dough batter had become play dough.

 

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 (New International Version)

It’s been a week of extended laughing and dancing.

And, in an interesting postscript, this evening as I was carefully inspecting the phone to be sure I’d removed all the pink, I discovered a little tiny switch on the side of my phone. “What’s that?” I wondered. It looked like it had some pink play dough batter in it, so I looked really carefully and moved it, and discovered that the pink was a reddish line when the switch was pushed down. When I did push the switch up and down, little pictures appeared on the phone’s screen, saying “Ringer” and “Silent.” Which explains why for ages I have not been able to hear the phone ring. I’ve complained to family members that I miss calls because the phone’s ringer isn’t working right! Sooooo, give me a call. I might be able to hear the ringer now.

The Writing Career, Part 2

I went back and looked at my manuscript database. “The Rain and the Rainbows” (the manuscript in question) had been sent out twenty-seven times. Nine periodicals had accepted and printed the piece. Eighteen periodicals had either returned it or did respond at all. I don’t know if that’s par for the course, or a birdie or a bogey (go here for golfing term definitions), but it doesn’t seem too bad to me. But my favorite entries are the “Requested” ones.

Apparently, editors of take-home church papers or leisure reading church publications actually read similar publications from other denominations. I mentioned last week that readers from one denomination aren’t likely to read the material from another denomination. On three occasions, I had requests from editors saying that they had read the piece in another church publication and would like to use it in their own. Could they purchase reprint rights, please? “Of course you can!” And, when one particular editor requested use of the piece, I said yes and didn’t even remind him that I had actually sent it to him, a year or so earlier, and he had sent it back with a “no thanks” note. No reason to be antagonistic.

And, editors being who they are, and with their own word and space limits, and their own denominational Bible version preferences, the piece is sometimes, or, always, a little bit different at each printing. But, here it is, in case you’d like to know what I got paid a whole dollar for, a few weeks ago.

 

 

The Rain and the Rainbows

For the second time in twelve hours, I carried my bags to the airline check-in desk. An unexpected closing of Dallas/Fort Worth airport the previous evening had meant an extra night in Nashville and re-booking on the far-too-early first morning flight. Rain was still falling in Texas, but the airport had re-opened, and we took off.
The sun was rising in a clear Tennessee sky, but soon, I barely could see the ground through the clouds, which became thicker and thicker as we approached DFW. We descended through the gray fog, and rain pelted the windows as we landed. I dreaded the rest of my flight home. A little 15-passenger commuter plane carried travelers from DFW to the small airport in my central Texas town. Sometimes bouncy on nice days, in rainy, windy weather, it was more like a bad amusement park ride. The vibrations and noise of the propellers prevented even a short nap on the 45-minute flight.
The storm clouds were unusually low, heavy with rain. So, instead of flying below the cloud cover, as usual, we rose up into the blue sky above.
I leaned back against the seat, too tired even to try reading.
Then, briefly, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a little rainbow. I looked more intently. Nothing there. I imagined it. But, there it was again. Then gone again. Now there were three. Then only one.
I watched the most amazing little sky show. There were scores of tiny arcs of rainbows, appearing, disappearing, re-appearing. Did the angle of the morning sun cause this? Or was it our closeness to the tops of the waterlogged storm clouds? Does this always happen when it rains?
How did I never know this? When it rains underneath the dark clouds, up above, the sky is full of rainbows.
I watched until the plane headed down through the misty clouds. We left the sunny sky, and raindrops again covered the small windows. At the terminal, we passengers jogged through puddles from the plane to the building. Damp from the rain, we waited for our luggage. The baggage handlers, the airline personnel, and the car rental agents were as gloomy as the weather outside.
They just don’t realize, I thought. It may be dismal here, and all we can see is the dreary weather. But up above the clouds, the sun is shining, and the sky is full of rainbows.
In Matthew, Jesus says “the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.” For me, it’s more like a rainstorm. I may be drenched and feeling weary and waterlogged, but the rainbows are up there shining. I know, because I’ve seen them.

 

God cares for you, so turn all your worries over to him.

1 Peter 5:7 (Contemporary English Version)

 

Things are different now, in most areas of publishing. So many print periodicals have folded and those that are still publishing are more selective. And, in the religious market, most have theme lists, which they gladly share with any writer who is interested. But there are hardly any who will just willy-nilly purchase something they might like, thinking that there will eventually be a place they can use it. So now, I think I’ll go see what the Mennonites are wanting in the next few months. They usually purchase what I send them.

My Illustrious Writing Career

There are systems in place for hopeful freelance writers who want to submit their writing to editors.

Publications like Writer's Market and Christian Writer's Market and Writer's Digest magazine have information

Publications like Writer’s Market and Christian Writer’s Market and Writer’s Digest magazine have information

Writers can look for submission guidelines with word counts, editors’ names, and web sites to discover theme lists for various periodicals and book publishers. Back in the olden days, pre-Internet, submissions had to go by snail mail, and there was a system for getting manuscripts to the proper places. First, count the number of pages in a manuscript (and also an author’s cover letter). Then check the user-friendly chart in Writer’s Market to see how much postage you needed. If a writer wanted the manuscript returned, just in case it was rejected (not a positive thought, but if a writer wanted to submit it to a different periodical or book publisher, then they’d have to re-type it), then the writer needed to include a return envelope with their own name and address and the proper postage for the return trip. And be sure the out-going envelope included enough postage to cover the weight of the manuscript and the return envelope. The Writer’s Market chart included both those postage needs. Sometimes I got manuscripts back; sometimes they seemed to come back faster than I thought possible, if someone actually opened the envelope and spent more than thirty seconds actually reading what I had so carefully written. Sometimes, I got the return envelope back, but it had an acceptance letter and a check!

For many years, however, most magazine editors want things e-mailed, and most book publishers want the synopsis and sample chapter(s) that way, too. Maybe they even want entire books e-mailed, which would take lots of time, I suppose, but it’s a good thing to save on paper and printer ink.

IMG_4023I wouldn’t have been able to say when the last manuscript I sent off the snail-mail way got stamped and mailed away. But, I was a little startled a couple of months ago when a manila envelope showed up in my mail box. I recognized it right away by the string of stamps running across the top. The mailing label, addressed to this house and with the same return address, was a sign of a submission’s included return envelope. I was mystified. I did not remember, at all, sending out a submission that way.

IMG_4025I opened the envelope and was startled, and pleased, to see writer’s copies. Apparently they liked what I had sent, and had printed it in the May 21, 2017 issue of an adult take-home paper. There was an acceptance letter and two copies of the paper. The letter said “Thank you” for the article and “enclosed” were my complimentary copies. And, yay, my payment was also enclosed. Hmm. Where was my payment? I picked up everything and shook the papers. And, yes, indeedy, my payment dropped out.

IMG_4026Yep. That dollar bill. That’s my payment. The postage I had put on this envelope was  $1.05. (And they’d had to add 14 cents to it, postage having gone up since I’d mailed it in the first place.) So, there must have been at least $1.05 on the original envelope, maybe a little more, since the return envelope was in there, too. So, I lost money on the deal. I looked back at the database I keep of manuscripts I submit, and I couldn’t find the information. I searched some more, and found a copy of the cover letter I’d sent with the original submission. February 10, 2010. The postmark on the envelope I got was March 3, 2017. So, seven years they kept the piece. Well, a little less. I don’t know how long the choosing, editing, printing process is. But, I can pretty much guarantee that it’s less than seven years.

 

Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men,

Colossians 3:23 (Revised Standard Version)

This particular piece has a long history. I sent it to the first magazine in February 1994. I got an acceptance letter in Feburary 1995. Once I’d sold it for “first rights,” and it was published, I could send it other places (in non-competing markets) with the information that it had first appeared in Catholic Digest in March 1995. Parents’ Magazine and Parenting are examples of competing magazines. The same people are apt to read them. But, in the religious market, the Baptists are unlikely to read things published by the Catholics and the Methodists are not apt to read things by the Jewish press. They certainly might, but they’re not as likely to read them consistently. Over the past many years, I’ve earned over $300.00 from that one piece. Most of the periodicals pay a bit more than a dollar.

 

 

Oh, My Aching Back!!

I thought I had sciatica. A sharp pain ran across my left hip, down the back of my thigh, and on through my calf. I tried thinking that it would disappear on it’s own. It didn’t. Walking didn’t help. My regular routine at Curves didn’t do anything to alleviate the irritation. It wouldn’t go away.

The pain wasn’t severe. At night, in bed, I could always arrange my leg so that the discomfort diminished; I could sleep. I could do what I needed to do. I just was uncomfortable all the time.

The physical therapy place is right by Providence Hospital. Apparently, there is no nice photo anywhere online.

The physical therapy place is right by Providence Hospital. Apparently, there is no nice photo anywhere online.

At my regular checkup, my doctor showed me an exercise that might help and, more importantly, she said she would send me to physical therapy a couple of times. A few days later, therapy phoned and set up an appointment. Therapist Richard did a thorough exam, identified the problem (probably a bulging disc), and explained everything. He gave me a brochure with guidelines for a healthy back, and sent me to the secretary who set up eighteen appointments–three a week for the next six weeks.

The next visit, Richard led me through a few exercises and reviewed the changes I was making at home: how I got in and out of the car, how to lift things properly, and how I should squat instead of bending over to retrieve things I dropped on the floor. I never realized how often I do drop stuff on the floor until I had to squat to pick them up.

A spine with it's hip bones attached

A spine with it’s hip bones attached

In the therapy suite, there are numerous models of various bones and sets of bones. Richard brought over a spine for me to examine.

“If we can stretch out the vertebrae,” he explained, tugging on the lower part of the spine.

“It will give that bulging disc an opportunity to slip back into its place. That will relieve the pressure on it, and make the pain go away.”

He furrowed his brows a little and, with a bit of a question in his voice, suggested we try “mechanical lumbar traction.”

“Fine,” I said. “I want to get better.” He led me to a small room off the physical therapy gym, and we stood together in front of a exam table.

“This belt,” he said, pointing to a wide vinyl strap, “will go around your abdomen. It attaches to the top of the table. This one,” he said, showing me another strap, “will go around your hips. It attaches to this machine.” He pointed to a blinking box at the other end of the table. I looked at him soberly.

“Richard,” I said, solemnly. “This is a rack.”

“Well,” he admitted, “sort of.” And he strapped me in.


Richard explained that the machine would tug for 40 seconds, then relax for 40 seconds. It would repeat that cycle for 20 minutes. He handed me a call button. “You can press this at any time, and it will stop the machine,” he said. “In case it gets unbearable.”

“Is it going to be unbearable?!?” I asked, a little alarmed.

“Well,” he said, “some people feel a little claustrophobic. Sometimes.”

“Ah.”

With that, he walked to the door, switched off the light, and pulled the door closed.

The machine gently tugged for 40 seconds, then rested for 40 seconds. Tugged for 40; rested for 40. I snoozed.

Twenty minutes pass pretty quickly when you’re napping.

Next session, I was ready. I had ear buds and an audio book to listen to while I was mechanically lumbar-tractioned. I loved it. How many times does someone say, “Lie down. Relax. Stay right here for twenty minutes.”

It was certainly my most favorite part of therapy. Besides the rack, I spent time on the squat machine, strengthening my thigh muscles. Numerous exercises, machines, and routines were designed to strengthen my “core,” so my abs would hold me up straight and keep my back strong.

Sometimes, Richard would have me lie down on a large platform, on a pad, and say, “Just for fun . . . .” and then explain some wildly difficult and goofy exercise.

“Richard,” I would reply, “your ideas of fun and my ideas of fun are are as far apart as the East is from the West.”

One such exercise involved my lying, face up, on a long dense foam cylinder, about 6 inches in diameter, that ran from my neck to my hips. With my arms above my head and my feet on the mat, knees up, just balancing on the thing required all my concentration. Then he said, “Just for fun,” (not from where I’m lying, Richard!) “raise your right knee and bring you left hand down to touch it. Then, do that with your left knee and right arm.” As I worked with intense diligence to perform this maneuver, my arms and legs flailed about, and I often rolled right off that thing. I’ve looked online, through several sites that show how to use a foam roller for strengthening and for physical therapy. Out of all of them, only one suggested lying on the thing with it along one’s spine. And they were NOT lifting their legs from the mat.

“Do you ever film patients in therapy,” I asked.

“Sometimes,” Richard said.

“And then do you guys get together at parties and show them to each other and laugh at us.”

“Of course not,” he said, bristling. Hmmm. Maybe I believe him.

Anyway, I needed ten weeks of therapy in all. But I got stronger and the pain disappeared. I do my exercises regularly, and I try to remember to put bags and boxes and my purse on a chair or a counter or a shelf. Then I don’t have to squat down to pick them up again. I’m working on not dropping so much stuff on the floor. And I got a treadmill for walking, which is the best thing for spine health.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Psalm 139:13-14 (New International Version )

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).