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Posts Categorized: Self-Control
When Kevin, and then Jeremy, were at TCU, I used to visit Hulen Mall in Fort Worth pretty regularly. It was sort of on the way to the university—just a matter of where one turned off I35. There was a Container Store in front of the mall, and right across the street there was a Border’s Bookstore. Lots to do. After graduation, Kevin moved to the Cultural District; Jeremy eventually moved over there, too. Kevin and April still live in that area. Jeremy and Sarah married and moved to Brooklyn. The Border’s moved much closer to Kevin and April. Then, that store closed down, and The Container Store moved into the old Border’s spot. So, all in all, I don’t have much reason to visit the Hulen Mall area any more. Until yesterday. I was on my way to hear a speaker at a Fort Worth library which was really close to the Mall, and I’m on a quest to find a skirt with pockets, which turns out to be a much more difficult task that any sensible person might imagine. Maybe it is nonsense, but I tried.
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I guess there’s always been some sort of disconnect between generations. The older folks have to get used to new-fangled things like cars instead of horses and buggys. And, televisions instead of radios. And radios instead of, um, people sitting around campfires and telling stories and sharing news. Mail instead of smoke signals and drums. Microwave ovens. Computers. (Insert red-faced angry emoticon here.) Emoticons instead of actual words.
Actually, I’m fond of computers. They make my life easier in lots of ways. Until they don’t.
And we’ve had a computer in the house for about 35 years. (Ollie, Mollie, Gollie, can it have been that long?) The first one was barely more than a toy, but I did a lot of writing on it. Then we bought an Apple II from a school friend of Kevin’s who was getting a new computer. Then, we bought, TA-DAH, a Mac Classic. The screen on that computer was about one-fourth the size of what I have now. THEN, we got an IMac. THEN, it got stolen. THEN, we replaced it with a new IMac, but it was RED. And then David got his own IMac (blue), and we were a two-computer family.
That was two or three computers ago, and I cannot even tell you what I have now, except that it’s bigger and faster. (Not great big, just bigger.) It came with “El Capitan” software. Then the word processing program said it could upgrade but I would need to upgrade my operating system and … (insert imagined conversations between me and Jeremy here) … so I did, rather accidentally, start the upgrading process to install the Sierra operating system and it always take so much longer than I expect, so I went to bed. Then, the next morning, THERE’S A NEW BACKGROUND PICTURE ON MY COMPUTER.
I liked the previous picture. Apparently, the previous picture actually was El Capitan. And the new picture is (you know this already, don’t you) actually Sierra. That’s how far behind the curve I am with many things “computer.”
THEN the phone said: new operating system; upgrade now! Or something like that. So I did. And, TA-DAH, I can’t find stuff on my phone. So, in a royal snit I called Jeremy. “I can’t find anything. Nothing’s where it’s supposed to be. This is making me NUTS!!! Who’s responsible for this? I know Steve Jobs died. Who’s running things now? Who is it that I want to go to Seattle and throttle?!?!?!?”
I suppose some folks, the younger, hipper folks, who grew up knowing how to use a computer the way my generation knew how to do things our parents couldn’t, even though nothing comes to mind right away, they like all the changes, and like changes all the time.
Both sons are basically kind and patient with me when I phone them for help. And when I phone them for help, it’s because I’ve tried and tried and cannot find the solution to whatever problem I may be having, so I’m not particularly patient. I don’t want to be walked through some scenarios and look for things to try, I want it TO WORK. NOW!
Even so, Jeremy sent me a schematic for computer problem-solving. And, as you can see, there are notes on Post-Its that tell me how to do things. Still, I call, because there’s always some new thing I need help with. Which led us to a conversation about what sorts of phone calls Tim Cook might get, from his mom. “Hello? Tim, honey? HELP ME!! I can’t get this silly computer to: a) send a photo; b) send a letter; c) balance my checkbook; d) show me how to get to the zoo; e) 30,000 other things. Choose one. Or all.
When Kevin was here over Labor Day weekend, he was doing something on my computer (10 years old), and remarked how slow it was. Indeed. And he looked up new computers and said, “If you order this by 5:00, you can get it tomorrow.” What! Huh? “The beauty of it is that I’ll be here to set it up,” he went on. So, long story short, that’s what we did.
Please go ahead and click to get the whole image. Yes, you’re seeing right. There’s the new computer, and on the shelf above, the old computer and a television. I’m in the process of moving things from old to new and making sure nothing important gets left behind. So, yes, there are two screens, two keyboards, and two mouses (is the plural for more than one computer mouse mouses or mice. Mice just seems wrong.)
And, as Kevin was putting all the computer stuff together, he said, casually, “you know there’s no disc player.” WHAT?!? How do I play CDs? DVDs? Apparently, I’m supposed to download music and get a streaming service. Really, I prefer going to the library and checking stuff out, for free. I’m sooooo not a modern girl. When we ordered the computer, we got an external disc drive, too. I can only make a limited number of changes at a time.
Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy?
Psalm 127:3 (The Message)
And so helpful, too.
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When I was in elementary school, a lady at church had weekly choir rehearsals for children who sang in the kids’ choir in Children’s Church. I remember going, sometimes, and what I recall most is learning the round “Scotland’s Burning.”
“Scotland’s burning! Scotland’s burning! Look out! Look out! Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! Pour on water! Pour on water!”
We were pretty good at it.
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I spent most of the day outside Monday, and I felt calmer and more focused and more centered and, just happier.
I know that things, politically, running-for-officewise, are only going to get worse, as state and local campaigns begin in earnest in the coming weeks. People will be arguing and blaming, exaggerating and posturing (see definition 13), and, well, lying (not everybody, but some of the bodies). Things will become more and more tense as we wend our way to November. By election day, I know that I’ll be weary of it all.
I think we could all benefit from spending some time out of doors.
All the candidates, over the next weeks and months, should be required to spend time outside. Even those candidates who have to be guarded by Secret Service agents. Maybe especially those candidates who are under guard all the time. You can’t tell me that the Secret Service folks don’t have the power to empty out a park so that a candidate can walk around, safely, enjoying the trees and the flowers and the clouds and the blue sky, completely uninterrupted for an hour or so each day.
AND, don’t tell me that they don’t have time for wandering around each day. As busy and overworked and over scheduled and frazzled as they are at the end of every day? They NEED an hour of contemplative, uninterrupted thoughtfulness. It could be the key to making some good decisions, formulating some helpful strategies. And if it happens outside, all the better.
It could be early, early in the morning. Watching a sunrise or two each week? Who wouldn’t find that inspiring! It could be late, late at night. Tracking the phases of the moon over four weeks time? That can only improve a busy, over-worked candidate’s appreciation for orderliness and careful planning.
We, as the ordinary folks who are the targets of all the television, radio, and online politicking, deserve messages from people who have put in thoughtful, sensible, and honest information that will actually HELP us make good decisions. And candidates can’t be thoughtful if they’re spending all their time in planes, trains, and automobiles, and inside halls, auditoriums, and smoke-filled-rooms.
Here’s the scenario I want to hear about: A candidate gets out of a heavily guarded limousine, on the way to a political function. At the door, the candidate is stopped and a federal official says, “I’m sorry. You can’t speak here, yet. You haven’t logged in your hour of outside time today.” It’s akin to toddlers and naptime. They’re just so much easier to deal with and so much more pleasant to be around if they’ve had their afternoon naps. Same with a candidate, I think. Sooo much nicer after an hour outdoors.
Umbrellas and rain boots are all right. Big coats are okay; winter’s on the way. And they don’t even have to walk around. They can sit comfortably in a nice, covered pavilion. They can relax, resting on a little bridge. However, riding from hole to hole in a golf cart can’t count. (Honestly!)
AND–they have to be alone. COMPLETELY alone. No aides. Nobody with papers in their hands. Not a schedule in sight. NOTHING. Just the candidate and the sky and the clouds and the flora and fauna of wherever they happen to be at that point in their political travels. Trees or large cactus plants. Ocean or creek. Trails, lakes, little ponds. Flowery meadows, flashing seas,* purple mountains majesties, amber waves of grain.** Whatever nature happens to be wherever they’ve traveled to or wherever they live. An hour. Every day.
Now that’s some campaigning I can get behind.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:11 (New Revised Standard Version)
One hour. Outside. Every day. Alone. Okay. Maybe they don’t have to actually be completely alone. If security isn’t an issue, there can certainly be other people in the park—picnicking, hiking on a trail, lolling by the beach. But nobody else who’s part of the campaign and all its parched places. At all.
*From the hymn Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee, text by Henry Van Dyke
** From America, the Beautiful, text by Katharine Lee Bates
I think I’ve mentioned before how much I like to shop at Target. And how I understand that they are using all sorts of marketing techniques (which I know I don’t even recognize) to get me to shop there. I just know that when I walk in the door, I want to shop. But I’ve been a little reluctant to venture in the place for the past couple of weeks. (Oh, I’ve gone, all right. I just go fast.) It’s BACK TO SCHOOL time!!
And because many, many people feel the same way I do about Target, there are lots of moms and dads and teens and kids milling around. In all areas of the store, not just the school supply aisles. (Yes, I saw the article last week in the paper that said that Target’s sales had slipped the past quarter, or so, but, frankly, it looks like we’re making up the difference here in my Target.)
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Well, at our house, it’s the grandchild. He’s our one and only. And it’s just as great as people have said it would be, and as I suspected it would be. Which doesn’t mean that we don’t have our moments…
But for every disagreement there are many, many more moments of delight and joy and charm.
And of course, at grandparents’ house, things can be a little more lax. Vegetables at most meals at home. Vegetables at some meals at Mimi and Grandad’s. At home, a regular, specific bedtime routine beginning at about 7 o’clock: bath, book, bed. In Waco, well, at 7:30 or so, it’s: bath, ice cream and Nutty Bar, two or three or four books, and bed. And things rock along pretty well for all three of us.
A few weeks ago, some folks across the street cut down a tree in their back yard, doing some work before getting the house ready to rent. The limbs and leaves and lengths of trunk have been out on the curb for weeks, waiting for the city to come and pick it all up. Meanwhile, I sent David there a couple of weeks ago to get two of the trunk pieces for Peter to use for woodworking. The garage gets pretty warm right now, but Peter did spend a little time out there with his new tools.
We went to Target Thursday, mainly for a prescription and some groceries. You can get everything you need there for a great lunch!
After post-lunch “quiet play time” in the living room (which is essentially Peter’s room, as it is where he sleeps and where all the toys are), I went to release him from there and we ended up playing for the next couple of hours. At one point, we pretend rode the TRE, which is a commuter train in Fort Worth that Peter and friends took a ride on for Peter’s birthday celebration, back in January. We walked around the house, on the TRE, and ended up in the guest room which was the “sleeper car.” (FYI, the TRE is a commuter train and doesn’t have a sleeper car, but, apparently, according to Peter, it should.) By then, I was pretty happy to lie down and close my eyes. After all too sort a time, Peter left. Eventually, I went off to locate him, imagining all sorts of unsupervised devilment that might be happening.
But he was sitting quietly in the living room, putting the cards from a Dr. Seuss game in a plastic bag that usually holds colored large craft sticks. He was a little miffed that I showed up, and he tried to send me back to the sleeper car, but I insisted that I had some chores to do. He was exasperated that I would not stay put. I have no idea what he had in mind for his next activity (w/out Mimi’s supervision).
For dinner, his idea was that we should have a BIG grilled cheese sandwich, that everyone could share. I couldn’t quite figure out how to do that, but I did make some homemade bread in the bread machine (oh, yes, I did, because it makes a taller loaf and I could make a bigger grilled cheese sandwich than usual). So, the three of us shared two big grilled cheese sandwiches. And ate the rest of the cucumber.
Then he and David went to the Mayborn Museum, which is open late on Thursdays, and they always do that when he comes. (I’m not the only pushover in the house.) Friday morning, we’re going on a first-thing-in-the-morning-before-the-temperature-gets-unbearable trip to the zoo, to see the elephants, giraffes, and orangutans, which we didn’t see last month when we went. Then, a stop by the zoo’s splash pad to cool off.
Saturday is supposed to be much cooler (well, in the 90’s instead of 104). David is supposed to help Peter practice kicking a soccer ball into a tiny, preschool-sized soccer goal, because he’s going to play soccer this fall. April ordered cleats for him, and they arrived this evening.
Grandparents are proud
of their grandchildren,
and children should be proud
of their parents.
Proverbs 17:6 (Contemporary English Vesion)
And my favorite thing he said this trip: When I went to get Peter on Wednesday, I had lunch with him and Kevin and April at their house. At one point, we were talking about our respective Sunday School classes (their kindergartners and my 3’s, 4’s, and 5’s). I said to Peter, “In a few months, you’ll be four!” “I know,” he said. “I’m so excited about being 4 years old.” “You’re really growing,” I said.
He became quite serious, and said, (with sort of choppy, delineating hand motions) “First you turn one. Then you turn two. Then you turn three. Then you turn four. Then you turn five. Then you turn six. Then you turn seven. Then you turn eight. Then you turn nine. Then,” (a brief pause, for dramatic effect, I suppose), “you turn ten.”
Kevin and I waited for a moment, then Kevin, said, “And then what,” expecting some more numbers, because Peter usually counts pretty reliably to about thirty. Peter looked at him, shrugged his shoulders a little and said, “Then you die.” I’m so proud.
I got the new tidying book, Spark Joy, from the library. It’s what I took with me to the urgent-care center last week. I read about half of the introduction and got re-tidyized. I know I’m not doing it the official TIDY way, but I absolutely canNOT take every item of clothing out of my closet and drawers, pick up each individual item and hold it close to me to determine if it “sparks joy,” and then put it in my closet (if it gets a “yes”). Conversely, I do NOT have time to hold each reject, one at a time, close to me and thank it for being part of my wardrobe and wish a fond farewell as I put it lovingly into the Goodwill bag. I certainly can, however, identify the places in my home where, when the tidy bug bites (as opposed to those other kind that send you to urgent care), I need to treat it. And the tidy bug has noticed my office/miscellaneous storage/can’t-find-any-place-else-for-it closet.
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I’ve looked at, and used, some of the YouTube tutorials about knitting, especially the ones showing how you graft one side of an object to another. I can sit and start and stop the video as I work my way across a knitted teddy bear’s head, for example. Watching someone, at least for me, is way more helpful that merely trying to follow written instructions. Last year, I saw one for a cute cake that looks like a Canadian flag when you cut out it into wedges. So all this past year I’ve thought that maybe I could make something similar, but for a July 4th cake. The tutorial made it look easy (don’t they all), but she did mention, at one point, that she had to make SIX cakes before she got it right. I neglected to take that into consideration.
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