Posts Categorized: Peace

We Have New Neighbors

Mike and Sandy, who were lovely neighbors, put the house next door to us on the market a couple of years ago.

We got this card in the mail from the realtor, the day the new folks arrived.

We got this card in the mail from the realtor, the day the new folks arrived.

It didn’t take too long to sell. New neighbor Bill was pretty quiet. We didn’t see much of him, but he was friendly when we did, and he kept up his yard and didn’t let his garbage/yard waste/recycle bins stay out at the curb for days (which isn’t usual anyway on our block, but David keeps an eye out for that). But, Bill decided to move back to Seattle, and the house was for sale again. It sold really fast this time, to “a young couple with a kid about his age,” said Bill, pointing to Peter, when we strolled over there to chat. Bill left early last week and the new folks arrived a day or so later. I looked out and saw a young man, chatting with another neighbor out walking her dog. There was a toddler, about 18 months old. And I began to wonder what I could take over there.

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I’ve Never Been Particularly Good at Knowing What Two-Year-Olds Are Thinking. Why Do I Keep Trying?

Left side opened w/car inside; right side closed w/car outside

Left side opened w/car inside; right side closed w/car outside

This is how our garage looked, all my growing up years in the house where we now live. Well, except for the cars. Not for the years and makes of them, but just the fact that they’re there. My Dad would get up each morning, open the garage door and go out to get the newspaper, and leave the door open. After he left for work, it stayed open, all day, as did most other garage doors on our block. He closed the door each evening after dinner. The right-hand door wasn’t opened very often, as there wasn’t a car there.

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Having to Spend Each Day the Color of the Leaves*

Years ago, I read books by Don Aslett, a man who grew a college cleaning job into a huge cleaning supply industry

Some choices from Home Depot

Some choices from Home Depot

and authored several books about housecleaning, starting a business, organizing, de-cluttering, writing, and public speaking. You can find some of his books in libraries, bookstores, and of course, on Amazon. In one book (and most likely some others), he talked about how much of modern life is overkill; we have, and consistently seek, more, more, more, and more. He specifically mentioned paint colors. And, most pointedly, green. He quoted a number (and I am so very sorry that I cannot recall what exactly it was, but it was HUGE, in the hundreds), of how many colors of green paint one could buy at a paint store. “You don’t need that many greens,” he said. “There aren’t that many greens.”

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The AARP card, along with some gift cards from places I get my medications

The AARP card, along with some gift cards from places I get my medications

When I was 50, I joined AARP. It was like a joke. “Oh, I’m so old, now. I have an AARP card. Ha-Ha!” And I Ha-Ha’ed myself through the next fifteen years.



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Mozart Effect.ive

Years ago, sometime in the 90’s, I was watching Dateline and they were reporting on a study that seemed to indicate that test-takers did better on some parts of a test if they were listening to the music of Mozart. I was really interested in that.

thFor several years, I’d been writing preschool Sunday School curriculum. And I thought that listening to Christian music and/or hymns might help me write. It was not so. Not at all. The music was distracting, and I couldn’t get anything done. So I opted for quiet. Now, I thought I’d try a little Mozart. Kevin was with me at the music store when I was looking for some Mozart cassette tapes. (Here is a link to Cassette Tapes, in case you are so very young that you don’t know what I’m talking about.) I explained what I’d heard in the Dateline report and that I thought I’d try listening to Mozart when I was writing. Kevin said he thought I’d just been brainwashed by Jane Pauley (the Dateline reporter).


The idea caught on and, with all sorts of folks jumping on a bandwagon that didn’t really exist, the Mozart effect became famous (or, infamous) and all sorts of benefits were attributed to the phenomenon. There were books, there were recordings, and when all was said and done, there wasn’t really much research to support all the hoopla.

However, and this is really important, I put that first Mozart tape into the tape player, punched “Play,” and was able to write while I listened to the music.

So, whatever the research does or doesn’t say, it worked for me.

Last Monday morning, I had NPR on the car radio and something familiar came on. I couldn’t identify exactly the piece but I thought, “That must be Mozart.” For years, I listened to a variety of the composer’s music regularly, almost every week. Because …

When I began teaching at the community college, on the first test day, I explained about Mozart and the research that said that, maybe, possibly, there was a positive relationship between his music and spatial reasoning, and how I thought anything that might help people think a little better and more clearly would be an asset. So, I was going to play Mozart while they took their test. Another benefit, and not Mozart-related, was that in total quiet, any little sound, chair-squeaking, throat-clearing, pencil-dropping, makes a big, disruptive noise. Playing quiet music helps cover those interfering noises. Most students liked it.

One semester, I had a student who complained about the music. I hated to stop using it, because so many others said that it did help. I went searching for other Mozart tapes (and by that time, there were scads of them). I tried Mozart at Midnight. Not good. Mozart in the Morning. Nope. Mozart for Your Mind. Not that one, either. I bought Mozart for Mothers-to-Be. After playing that music while students were taking a test, that student brought her completed test to my desk and handed it in. “How was the new music?” I asked, hopefully. “What music?” she said. BINGO! It was so peaceful and soothing, she didn’t even notice it, much less be distracted by it.

Another semester, in another class, a student related this story: She was taking Algebra in addition to my class. She had a couple of teen-aged kids and a busy household. One evening, she had some algebra homework that she had to get finished, but the house was full and busy and noisy. So she went off to a bedroom and turned on the radio to block out the family sounds. She said there was some classical music on. She worked on her algebra. She said she was able to relax and work and she finished quickly and easily. As she was finishing up, the music ended and the radio disc jockey came on, “And that was,” he said, “Mozart.”

“I wasn’t surprised,” she said. “I guess it does work.” Yes, I think it does.


Your singing will be like that on the night of a holy festival, and your heart will rejoice like one who walks to the music of a flute, going up to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel. 

Isaiah 30:29 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)


(Listening to good music may not really help with test-taking, but it certainly can make a heart rejoice. So, it might be a win-win.)


Last Monday, when I got home, I raced into the house and pulled up the local NPR website. 51ehtEqeg7L._AA160_They always have a link to “What’s Playing Now.” I clicked the link and read to identify the music I had just been hearing. It was Bach. One of his Brandenburg Concertos. Hmmm. I wonder if anyone’s been doing Bach research.









Many evenings, I don’t stay up and watch the television weather forecast. Sometimes, I don’t see any of the late news at all. I actually still read a newspaper most every day, and get my information that way. (We do still get a paper each day. And I scan it, reading the headlines and the first paragraphs at least, of most stories. David on the other hand, reads every single word! He’s paying for all those words, and, oh, yes, he’s going to read each and every one of them! But!! I’m not really talking about newspapers. I’m talking about the weather! ref: the title of this piece)

Anyway, Sunday night, I hadn’t watched the weather report. So, I don’t know what the forecast was. But, whatever it was, I was unprepared for what happened.

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Trees! Schmrees!

There was a hang tag on our front door a while back. (Almost a year ago, I also used the term “hang tag” in a post. The post’s content was about how much every day life had changed. My niece wrote and said, that, yes, things had changed. When she read the words “hang tag,” in her head, she said “hash tag,” and wondered where I was going with the information. No, it’s “hang tag.” At least today.)

The hang tag (remember, that’s what we’re focusing on) was a message from Oncor, our electricity provider, letting us know that they were going to be trimming back some tree limbs that were in danger of causing problems with electric lines, in case of wind or ice. Many, many days went by, and I presumed they had decided that our trees didn’t need any pruning. Hah.

Then they showed up. They politely rang the doorbell and told me (as opposed to asking me) what they were there for, and explained, and I said, yes, I remembered getting the information. And they took their big ol’ power tools to the back yard and went to work on the pecan tree.

There have been a few uproars around town over the past few years about the tree trimming, most recently in a neighborhood with many old, old oak trees. Trees that got decimated. People were furious; meetings were held; decisions were made. The electric company agreed to be more upfront with people, give more warning, and be more deliberate about what needed to be cut away and what could safely stay. But the upshot was that, to preserve continuous electricity, to have a safe environment underneath power lines, large tree limbs need to be trimmed.

There was lots of buzzing and whirring in my back yard. At one point, one worker came to explain something to me,

All the nice logs we have to outdoor decor and little boy hammering

All the nice logs we have for outdoor decor options and little boy hammering

and I saw a large chunk of tree lying on the ground. I pointed and said, “I want to keep that,” thinking that I could make a plant stand or something from it, and/or Peter could hammer nails into it. Not only did they leave it for me, they cut it into manageable pieces for me. A few small limbs needed to be trimmed from the crape myrtle tree and the hedge, too.

The pecan tree looked … not quite its robust self. “It’s okay,” I thought. From the street, it looked much worse. “It’ll look better when it leafs out,” I thought. Not much.

The solution is, of course, for whomever is working on that time machine to get busy and have it be operational, so we can go back in time to the winter of 1960 and tell my dad to NOT plant the tree so close to the back lot line! Move it in, by, maybe, 20 feet at least! Then, we will not have this problem. And I can give you a list of addresses of nearby homes whose 1960 (or so) owners also need a heads up.

I do understand that it’s all part of living in community. If I live in a house, isolated out in the country, my trees will be all right, pretty much wherever they are. If I live in a city, in a neighborhood, we have a responsibility to work together to make safe, appropriate choices for each other. Meanwhile, it makes for some pretty odd looking trees.


For you shall go out in joy,
    and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall burst into song,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12 (NRSV)

If broken human beings can come to Jesus, then I’m assuming that even deeply pruned trees can still clap their hands in joy. Hallelujah! Amen!

Comic Con

This is a short post.

"You can read this book to me, Mimi. 'Green Eggs and Ham' by Dr. Seuss." Yes, I can, *several* times a day.

“You can read this book to me, Mimi. ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ by Dr. Seuss.” Yes, I can. I can read it in a chair. I can read it in the air. I can read it in my lap. I can read it while I nap. I can read it in the car. I can read it from afar. What, oh, what will make me better? I can feed it to the shredder!

We’ve had a guest this week who’s taken up lots of my time.

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From New York


It’s fun to visit different places and experience different kinds of things and see how people live in different ways. In New York City, in November, there were all sorts of different and new things.

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