Monday, December 30, 2019

I'm not cut out to be a football fan

I've never paid attention to football in my whole life; I have zero interest in that game, or any other, unless we're talking about high school games, but only if it's a school I care about.  I've always wished Kansas City had a decent football team, though.  I don't know why I care, but I do.  Every year finds me hoping they'll have a good season, just once in my lifetime.  They made the Super Bowl once, back in the very early days of the team.  But Cliff didn't even like football back then, so I was clueless.

Then, out of the clear blue of the Texas sky, came Patrick Mahomes.  Suddenly they were contenders, and the whole team was magically transformed into a group of incredibly skilled, coordinated players!  I still don't understand the game of football, but I try to watch every Chiefs game this season.  Here's the problem:  If the scores are close, and our opposing team gets within two points of our team, I begin to get cold feet.  Instant depression hits and I avert my eyes from the screen whenever it appears the opposition is about to catch up to us.  If they do catch up, I pout and stop watching the game entirely.

It's just too much stress on my aging system.  The constant worry that Mahomes will get hurt so badly his career ends makes my stomach churn, although I remind myself maybe he could switch careers and play baseball if he was too broken to be an effective football player.  Then I'd have to watch a series of slow, boring baseball games to see him in action... if you can even call that "action".

But enough of my Monday morning thoughts.

I spent a little more time doing searches at  I find it funny I can search out small-town newspaper articles from around Taylor Country, Iowa, and find my parents and sister mentioned many times.  But Cliff's family, originally from Versailles, Missouri, stayed out of the limelight entirely.  I can't find his relatives down there mentioned.  

The things my family got in the paper for. though, were far from remarkable.  Here's an example:

That's obviously before my time, since only Maxine was with them.  My parents never in their lives left me with anybody else until I was twelve or so.  I went to every Gospel meeting, Sunday School, fourth-Sunday singing, basket dinner, and funeral that ever took place in my parent's lives.

Oh, as a side note, the "Margaleen Spring" mentioned is where my mom got my middle name, Margaleen, which I hated all my life until around sixth grade when I realized I never had to use it anyhow.  If asked for a middle name, I just gave the initial.

Here is an article, printed February 10, 1944, in which I'm not mentioned because I hadn't been born yet; I made my appearance on July 7, 1944.  But I was there, and when you read it, you will realize this is just one more reason I'm lucky to be here.  I don't remember ever hearing this story, although I'm sure I did.  Mother left no interesting stories untold.  That's my favorite thing about growing up in her care... the stories and family history she related to me as a child.

Our little girl is visiting us, so I wanted to get this blog entry in.  My work here is done.


Saturday, December 28, 2019

A story from my husband's childhood

I just today learned that I have free access to through my library's website.  I typed Cliff's dad's name in a search and found a story in the old Kansas City Times that Cliff has related to me many times over the years; it's right here in print, from January 3, 1957.  Cliff said he was in school when it happened; they told him over the Intercom his house had burned, and that he was supposed to go to a neighbor's house when he got off the bus.  He would have been twelve years old.

Cliff says it turned out pretty good for him and his siblings, because they received the only bicycles of their young lives after that fire, donated by kind people.  He had two banty chickens in an outbuilding that ended up starving to death because they were not there to feed and water them; he recalls being very sad about that.

His little sister, Ina, is mentioned in the article; she died later the same year.  (That's wrong; I misread her age as 3 years, but it was 3 weeks.)

Thursday, December 26, 2019

We had a nice little Christmas around here

Last weekend the oldest granddaughter and her mom came to visit.  At some point, Amber asked if I was planning anything for Christmas.  When I told her I was not, she seemed disappointed.  I haven't been feeling the greatest some days, but I decided maybe I should do something, since someone was asking.  

"I guess I could make you guys some chicken-and-noodles and mashed potatoes," I said.  "I just don't want to do a bunch of casseroles and fancy desserts and stuff."

My ex-daughter-in-law and granddaughter could happily live on nothing but noodles and mashed potatoes, and said that would be great.  As Christmas approached, I wondered if the other local relatives had plans; in the past, some of the family had to show up at two or three Christmas dinners on the same day, which took a lot of fun out of the whole thing.  However, my main problem was that I never know these days how I'm going to feel when I get up in the morning (nothing serious, just acid reflux that isn't responding well to any treatment).  

That, and I have absolutely no Christmas spirit left in me.  

Tuesday morning I awoke feeling pretty decent and decided I'd better invite all family living in close driving distance of our place.  In which case, I knew I'd better round out that meal of pure starch a little bit.  I made the barbecue meatballs that were such a hit a while back, green beans, a simple Jello poke cake, and one pumpkin pie.  I believe that was the whole meal.  I sent word out to the troops, and yesterday, Christmas day, we ended up with thirteen people, all adults.  Because it was spur of the minute, I didn't ask anybody to contribute any food.  I don't think anybody left hungry, though.  Oh yeah, I made cinnamon rolls early in the day and we had those for breakfast around 9 AM. 

Almost all the food was gone when it was said and done, and I sort of kicked myself for not making a couple more dishes.  But it went well for a spur-of-the-minute affair, and we had people around us all day.  That must have been good for me, since I'm feeling pretty good today.  

The grandson took all of Christmas week off, and he and Cliff have been working on the inside of the barn they're remodeling every day in unbelievably warm weather.  I hardly saw Cliff except at mealtime and after the sun went down up until yesterday.  He hasn't worked this hard since he retired!  It's good for him, though.  The grandson keeps him motivated in doing things, so he isn't sitting out the winter inside the house (like I am, except for my walks).  

I told Cliff I haven't blogged in almost a week, and he suggested I take some pictures of their barn project.  They've done some pretty heavy stuff in the past few days!

They've poured concrete across the back inside of the barn and are working on pouring the sides.  Cliff tells me those low concrete walls are called stub walls.  They are using pretty primitive methods to do this:  It involves Cliff running his brother's concrete mixer and Arick carrying concrete to where it's needed in a bucket.  Hard, heavy work.

This is what I saw when I went out to take some pictures.  As you can see by their clothing, the warm weather has left us.  The guys think it'll be OK to pour a little more concrete today, though; the low tonight is supposed to be around 30; then it will warm up again.  This job is slow-going!

The plan is to put a concrete floor in the shop, and then Arick intends to put a two-post asymmetric car lift to make it easy for him to change oil and work on cars.  (It ain't cheap, folks, but the grandson thinks it'll be worth it.  Doesn't cost me and Cliff a dime, so it suits me.)

I finished John Grisham's book, "The Reckoning", in record time.  I believe it's my favorite of all his books I've read so far.  Reading the reviews, though, I see a lot of people didn't like it.  Different strokes for different folks.

That's all the news from around here that's fit to print.  I bid you peace.

Friday, December 20, 2019

It's warming up for Christmas

The snow began disappearing fast once the sun got higher in the sky yesterday, and it's supposed to be highs in the 40's and 50's right up to New Year's Day.  I was able to take Gabe out for a walk yesterday, finally.  We both miss our walks when the weather isn't cooperating.  Gabe was so anxious to get out there, he didn't even run when he saw me get his coat.  He just stood there and let me put it on him.  That's a first!  I guess he figured if that's what it takes to get outside, he'll cooperate.  

I recently bought myself an Echo Show.  I didn't think I'd ever buy another Amazon Echo device of any kind; the Echo and the portable Echo Tap (which is no longer made) were plenty for me.  That was before I started using for so many dishes.  I'd take the iPad into the kitchen with it displaying my chosen recipe, but it would often turn off before I could get through the recipe, even though I had the iPad set to stay on for ten minutes (yes, I could have set it for longer, but then I'd forget about it at other times and it would use up the battery too fast).  When the Echo Show went on sale for Christmas shoppers, I ordered it.  Unfortunately, the recipes didn't work so well for me.  I'd say the exact name of one of my saved recipes, and the crazy thing would give me every recipe except the one I wanted.  I decided to send it back.  But then...

I noticed I could choose to have my Amazon photos shuffle through the screen; that means ALL my photos, over 20,000 of them, because every picture I've ever put on any computer or device goes to Amazon photos.  Why so many pictures?  Well, back when I was a lot more faithful at blogging, I took lots pictures for my blog; I'd take far more than I needed, just to make sure I had some good shots.  Unfortunately, I'm lazy.  So I never deleted any of the extra ones.  At this point it would be such a monumental task to sort them out, nobody could do it.  But now, that's paying off.  Cliff and I check the thing every time we go through the kitchen to see what's showing.  Oh, the memories!  There are lots of pictures from my horse-riding phase, too.  There are shots of dogs that died too young on 224 highway; those make me sad, but they remind me of the good times, too.  It's the same of the pictures from the past of grandchildren, or the child we were babysitting for five years.  Oh yes, and our motorcycle days!  Our road trips!  Relatives and friends who are no longer with us!  (Too many exclamation marks, I know.)  

So I decided to keep the Echo Show for that purpose alone.  Of course, it also works like the other Echo devices, answering questions I might ask; but that isn't really necessary, since the Echo in the living room can hear me from the kitchen just fine in this little trailer house.  In fact, I had to give the Show a different name,"Amazon", to keep two devices from answering me at once.  Crazy situation, I know.  BUT...

This morning I decided to go back to the Amazon website and look at some of the questions people asked about the Show:  One question was this:  "How can I watch my Youtube videos on the Echo Show?"  Someone answered, "You just get on whichever browser you choose (Silk or Firefox) and go to Youtube."

Well, I figured if that works for Youtube, it should also work with Allrecipes.  

It does!  Boy, am I glad I didn't return this thing.

I'm going to have to give up Amazon for Lent, though, because I'm haven't been sticking to my usual budget.  I've never been one to observe Lent except for going to all the Friday night fish fries at local Catholic Churches, but I may as well start now.  

For whatever reason, I'm going to cut back!  (Aside to Cliff:  Stop laughing and shaking your head.)

Yours truly,
the Spendthrift.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Sunshine aplenty on shopping day

After nighttime temps around 20 degrees and four to five inches of snow on the ground, not to mention two days of school closings, the sun is shining so brightly on the snow it feels as though it might blind us.  Sunshine is always a mood enhancer, even if it's still below freezing outside.  The roads are reasonably clear, so we went to Blue Springs shopping after stopping by the bank to get some cash.  My little bit of social security money arrived a week ago, but it usually all goes for bills.  When Cliff's money shows up, we get our spending money for the next thirty days.  

Yesterday the little girl we used to babysit came to spend the day with us, since there was no school.  It had been a long time since we'd seen her, and we enjoyed her company thoroughly.  She put together most of a small Lego set I'd gotten for her some time ago, a Christmas-themed train, while I did very little to help her; I just sat there and watched her put it all together.  For lunch, she asked me to make her a peanut-butter-and-honey sandwich made into shapes, so I used the plastic sandwich-shape cutter that makes two dolphins.  When we stopped babysitting her, I put the box of sandwich shapers in the back porch, thinking to pass them along to someone.  Now I'm glad I kept it, since she has asked for shaped sandwiches more than once when she visits.  It seems like she sort of goes back to the past when she's here, asking to do activities and eat foods she remembers from when she was here regularly:  the good old days, I suppose, to a six-year-old child.  Her dad said she was asking to come today too, but we really needed to get out, get some money, and just be out of the house awhile.  And I've gotten enough age on me now that being responsible for a child two days in a row is pretty tiring, even as much as we love her.  It does make me very happy she wants to come and see us, though!

We only went to two stores today:  Aldi and Walmart.  I usually get a lot of produce at Aldi; I love fruit, and they often have the best prices on oranges, grapefruits, grapes, and so forth.  I got a pair of pajamas for ten bucks.  Last week I bought some house slippers there.  Cliff couldn't believe they have things like that.  

I noticed this morning in their ad they had spiral-cut ham that was $1.99 a pound last week marked down to 85 cents a pound.  I've never bought Aldi ham before and was hesitant to take advantage of the low price, but as Cliff and I stood at the meat case looking things over, I asked a lady who was picking over those hams if she had tried that particular kind of ham before:  "Oh yes, they are delicious!" she answered.  

She was an older lady and looked like she ought to know good ham when she tastes it, so I bought one, a 17-pound ham for under $8.  

There's a certain atmosphere in Aldi's, a camaraderie amongst the shoppers, many of whom are senior citizens (at least on Wednesdays, the day Social Security comes in).  You don't see a lot of disgruntled folks there... unlike Walmart, where you have to watch out or you'll be run down by an angry person pushing a shopping cart.    

I have to confess that all those bargains didn't really do us much good.  Cliff made the mistake of mentioning Tuscano's, the best Italian eatery you will ever encounter.  So we spent more to eat one meal than we paid for the groceries we bought today.  We don't go there often, though, and it's always a treat.  The place has expanded like crazy since their start-up. 

We don't do gifts at Christmas any more, so we don't have Christmas shopping to do; of course we don't expect to receive gifts either, although one granddaughter still gets us our favorite flavored popcorn each year... and I'll admit we do enjoy it.  I no longer send Christmas cards, either.  To tell the truth, it always feels like a relief when the whole season is over.  

We came home after our Italian feast and made coffee; Cliff turned on the television and there was the impeachment hearing.  He was surfing the Internet, but left the TV on.  "Are you watching this?" I asked him.  He said he was, although his eyes stayed on the laptop screen.  

He asked if it was bothering me.  

"Well, I don't like to hear angry voices yelling and arguing," I said.  "It makes me feel bad."

He was enjoying it, but turned it off anyhow.  Poor guy doesn't even get to listen to TV when he wants to.  Now I feel like the wicked witch.

No I don't.  I can only take that sort of thing in small doses.  It has nothing to do with who wins and who doesn't, it's just the noise of arguing I hate.  

I guess that's it for today's news from Woodhaven Acres.  


Monday, December 16, 2019

A walk in the snow

I hadn't gone for a walk for at least three days until this afternoon.  With the snow we got yesterday, plus a little more today, we have stayed in the house.  Oh, I've been outside to feed the cats, walk Gabe, and shovel off the sidewalk and porches.  Cliff hasn't found it necessary to step outside since yesterday morning, and that was just to take me to church, a trip I cancelled on the way there.  

I've really been catching up on my reading.  I finished the book Cliff insisted I read: "This is Going to Hurt" by Adam Kay; he's a British fellow who spent years becoming a doctor only to walk away from it after the grueling processes he went through with little sleep and very low pay.  There are a lot of laughs in his story, but it's also sad at times; it makes me wonder if it's ever safe to put yourself in a doctor's care.  

I've finally gotten back to reading "Tears in the Darkness" by Michael Norman; it's the book about the Bataan death march that I started reading perhaps six months ago, during the period when I couldn't get myself to settle down and read anything.  I'd return it so the people waiting for it could have their chance, while putting another hold on it so I could finish it later.  It would show up again on the iPad, I'd return it and place a hold again.  That's what I was doing with every book I started until I weaned myself off Facebook.  I'm zipping right through the books now, with John Grisham's latest, "The Reckoning", waiting in the wings.  We didn't care for his previous book, "The Rooster Bar", but this one sounds like something I'll enjoy.

I did go for a short walk this afternoon; I knew I wouldn't be able to do the whole course I normally walk, what with four or five inches of snow on the ground, plus the fact I was wearing Muck boots.  But it was good to get out in the fresh air for awhile.  I didn't take Gabe; he just went to the groomer last week and his hair is so short I was afraid it wouldn't be good for him.  I bought him a coat... yes, I've turned into THAT kind of dog owner... but he hates it.  I wish I'd gotten a sweater instead, because I think it would have been warmer, as well as more comfortable for him.  But for now, the coat will have to do.  Amazon has been getting too much of our money lately, and I intend to fix that.

Looks sort of like a little sausage wrapped in a bun, right?

Mama Kitty used to go on every walk with us.  I was surprised to see her join me today, though

Can you see all the varmint tracks leading to the pond?

I guess that's it for the day, since there's nothing going on around here except reading, eating, and sleeping.  Oh, and here's a thought:

P.S.  Cliff spent some time outside while I was composing this entry, and lived to tell about it.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Snow is falling

I guess I'll stop calling the people who give us the local forecast "weather-guessers".  They've been getting more accurate in the past few years.  Yesterday they said we could get anywhere from five to eight inches of snow today, and while I muttered "yeah, right" a few times, I was a little apprehensive.  This morning I got ready to go to my two churches as usual, since the snow was very light, not even turning the ground white.  Cliff warmed up the car for me and we headed to town.  Pulling out of our drive, he offered to come back and pick me up at the first church and take me to the second.

We were only about half a mile from home when I decided to use common sense.  Both churches are very small, and a lot of the attendees aren't spring chickens and will likely stay home.  The Baptist pastor at least will have family there to hear his preaching, but the Methodist preacher travels some distance to preach at two churches every Sunday, Wellington and Odessa:  Wouldn't I feel silly if I were the only one to show up, and it would be just me, him, and his wife in attendance; he might feel obligated to carry on as usual with two people in the congregation. 

So, I told Cliff to forget it; he turned the car around and brought me home.  Gabe was happy to see me return so quickly.  I got back in my warm, comfortable flannel-lined jeans, an insulated shirt, and a sweatshirt and began to wash the dishes left from my cooking yesterday; our tractor club's annual Christmas dinner was last night.  There's always so much good food with those people, I seem to end up bringing most of what I take home.  Yesterday I decided to make barbecue meat balls, a recipe of my sister's.  Most of the recipes I use for holiday dinners are family ones.  I never realized what an almost sacred thing these recipes are to me until last night.  The meatballs were a hit; a fellow sitting across from me at the table said, "Boy, these meatballs are good!  Did you make these?"

I told him yes, and mentioned it messed up too many dishes in the making of it because the many many meatballs (three pounds of beef) had to be browned before I put them in the oven.  A lady sitting at our table said, "I have a recipe for meatballs:  I don't have to brown them; you can just put them in the oven to bake."

Did I thank her and ask for the recipe?  Oh no, I was sitting there thinking, "Surely she doesn't think I would trade MY OWN SISTER'S recipe for another one!"  I said, "Oh, really?", trying to sound interested.

That's when I realized I'm a family-recipe snob.  All the things I simply must have with a Thanksgiving dinner must be made!  Christmas dinner without my grandma's noodles?  That can never be!

And now I'm chastising myself for not getting that recipe, because the lady is an excellent cook.  I may ask her for it next time I see her.  But I'm telling you, nobody's recipes can trump those of my mother and sister, because nostalgia is involved.  Still, I should give them a chance; what could it hurt?

Just my thoughts as I sit here missing church, trying to pass the time.


Friday, December 13, 2019

Perhaps I'm strange for a reason

Through the years I've had cause to wonder whether I might be "slightly autistic", or maybe have Asperger's (now known as autism spectrum disorder).  I'm not a "huggie" person, yet I don't really mind if someone hugs me.  I am socially awkward.   It's hard for me to look a person in the eye; I have to force myself to do that.   Often, I do not feel empathy when I ought to, although I had endless empathy for the little girl we babysat for five years; I even cried with her when she was sad.  I know when some event is an awful, devastating thing, but the feeling just isn't there for the general population.  I don't (can't) cry at a funerals... not at anybody's funeral, ever.  I feel awful about that, because I know you are supposed to cry at the funerals of people you love, and I always wonder if others think I'm terrible. 

I've lived this long without people killing me, so I won't be going for a diagnosis; but I'm fairly certain I have some aspect of autism spectrum disorder, and I think it may be getting a little worse as I age.  Various noises have always bothered me, mouth noises for instance.  This is not easy for Cliff to live with, nor, for that matter, me, because I often don't mention when something bothers me.  So he might be innocently eating nuts (or anything crunchy) while I'm sitting right beside him crunching just as loudly on the same food... but HIS crunching drives me crazy.  I sit there mentally lecturing myself, since it makes no sense that I feel this way.  There's a name for this problem, by the way:  Misophonia.  

Monday used to be my favorite day of the week:  I didn't understand it at the time, but when my kids were at home, I got the most incredible relief when they left for school.  They weren't bad kids except for the normal "sibling wars", so there was no reason for me to be so relieved once they left.  I felt guilty.  Somewhere along the line, by the time they were in high school, I figured out that my relief was for the silence that filled the house after the kids turned off the television in the morning.  

Some people, Cliff for one, can put a radio on their favorite station and leave it playing in the background all day long.  I can't do that, even if every single song is hand-picked by me!  After a half-hour or so, it's all I can stand.  I love to read, but if there is any music or conversation or television noise, I can't concentrate at all.  I need silence.  

And yet, in the evening when Cliff is in the house, I have no problem with the television noise, although if he's watching football (or Two-and-a-Half Men) I might put on a headset and listen to a podcast. It's like I'm programmed to be able to stand the television in the evening, but not during the day.  

Maybe Waylon Jennings wrote this song for me!

Today I'm thankful for my husband.  He's lived with my very strange mannerisms for fifty-three years and still loves me like crazy.  If nothing else caused me to believe in God, this one fact would do the trick:  two people, one with whatever it is I have and the other with a lot of baggage, from totally different backgrounds, somehow met, merged, and lasted this long.  Only a higher power could have made this marriage work. 

Yours truly,

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

What have I missed over the past few years?

Yesterday I was reading my current book when I came across a perfect quote for me as I cut back on social media:  "I wondered then and still wondered what giants we miss by not looking."  That's from "Virgil Wander", by Lief Enger, also the author of one of my all-time favorites, "Peace Like a River".  

How many wonderful sights have I missed while I was spending time scrolling down the Facebook wall?  Perhaps my creativity will come back now:  I used to write a poem every day, just to see if I could, but that pretty much went by the wayside.  And the books I've missed out on!  For the last couple of months I have not been able to settle myself into reading any book all the way through, because no book was getting my full attention.  I'd get pulled away by the lure of Facebook, wondering what I was missing; I might get a quarter of the way through a good book that had been on my hold list for two months, then have to stop because the library "only" gives me three weeks to finish a book.  So if I wanted to read the rest of it, I had to put it on hold again and wait.  In other words, I had lost interest in reading!

I suppose reading is another form of escapism, but it's much healthier than social media, and I'm learning new words and new ideas.  We can learn things even from works of fiction.  I'm really not putting down the Internet in general:  the knowledge to be found online is endless and amazing!  But social media is not the place to learn anything except maybe how unkind people can be.  It is a great way to keep up with family.  I understand why some of you think I should just enjoy it.  That's like telling an alcoholic they really don't have a problem, though.  If it's causing me to miss the joy of everyday life, if I'm so crippled by it that I can't finish a great book, then I'm wasting my life; as you know, I'm old enough to realize there can't be that many years left for me, and I want to actually be aware of things around me.

I've decided not to leave Facebook, though, because now when I go to check what's going on there, it's downright boring.  When I stopped over-posting, there weren't many things for friends to comment on or "like"; obviously my posts were fueling my desire to see the reactions of others.  Now when I scroll down, it's a yawner for the most part.  My new rule for posting memes, pictures, or anything else is three a day.  That doesn't include the times I might post a comment on someone else's status, but I find I'm doing much less of that anyhow.  "The Donna Show" is over, with the exception of my blog.  And from what I've seen, blogs aren't really of interest to most people any more.  I heard a comedienne on TV say, "Are blogs even a thing any more?  Weren't they just for people nobody would listen to, so they made a blog?"  

What I love about my blog is that I can look up any event I've ever mentioned here and see when it happened.  This is especially useful for finding out when surgeries took place, because doctors always want to know that stuff.  

Who needs a shrink, when I have myself to figure my problems out?

I think I'm done congratulating myself for working on a real problem; isn't it tiresome when someone gives up a habit or goes on a diet or supposedly improves her life in some way and won't shut up about it?  People on diets insist on telling everyone how few calories they've had, or how many pounds they've lost (but 90% of the time they put it back on when they get tired of dieting... been there, done that).  People who successfully stop smoking suddenly wonder why EVERYBODY doesn't quit smoking.  

So unless I backslide, this is the last you'll see about this.  What?  You don't trust yourself Donna?  

Nope, I don't.  I've had backsliding down to a fine art throughout my life, and it can happen at any time.  But if I do, my readers will be the first to know.

Yours from the former producer of "the Donna Facebook Show", now leaving primetime.  News at 11.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Social Media and children

I am no better than the next person:  Being Internet addicted myself (and trying now to step back somewhat), I allowed the little girl I babysat to use an iPad.  I limited her use of it, but I now regret even that decision.  I notice many people hand a cell phone to their toddlers while shopping or traveling in the car.  It would seem a wise decision, because the child is occupied rather than being bored.  We grownups pass time in that manner, so why not children?  But I'm becoming increasingly aware that one of the best things that could happen to the social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and all the others would be for them to shut down entirely.  

"Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and other tech elites consistently reveal that Silicon Valley parents are strict about technology use."says one article.  

Is there anybody who doesn't agree that social media is the number one cause for bullying and suicides in children and teenagers?  

I'm seventy-five, and I've been hooked for years... it all started with the chat room.  Lately I've been cutting back more and more, but it's difficult for me.  My two biggest Internet addictions are Facebook and Words with Friends, with Facebook being the number one problem.  I will probably keep WWF (because my time there doesn't rely on the approval of others), but I'm seriously thinking of totally leaving Facebook.  Even though I limit posts and memes, I'm still there often, scrolling down through my status to see what everybody has to say, and commenting on posts.  I've been known to say to Cliff something like this:  Wow, 75 people liked so-and-so that I posted.

Really, old lady?  You're that caught up in it?  

Yes, I am.  Many of you who use Facebook enjoy it without letting it take over your life, and I applaud you.  I found myself going on a walk outside thinking about what someone said on Facebook, rather than living in the moment..  

Recently we went to a Thanksgiving meal at a church where the preacher's kids have been home-schooled.  Nobody was looking at a cell phone in all the time we were there, as far as I know.  When I see people who can't leave the house for five minutes without looking at a cell phone all the way to the car, and then checking it even while driving, I realize what a mess we're in.  Some of us seek the approval of others on Facebook on social media.  We hope all our "friends" will "like" what we share and, in that process, perhaps like us in general.  It's no wonder so many people are depressed:  We're living our entire lives on Facebook:  When I travel, I post pictures on Facebook.  When I get a dog, he becomes a Facebook star.  When I fry green tomatoes, I show them on Facebook.  It's a captive audience, but when I think about it, I ask myself, "Who really cares how cute my dog is, or what I cooked for dinner?"      

Cliff, who is as far from a computer wizard as anyone could be, sometimes gives someone a Facebook "like" because hardly anyone liked  or commented on the particular thing they shared; he feels sorry for them.  It's a sympathy like!  When I think about it, even I will "like" a statement or meme just because I want to keep that person in my algorithm so their posts will keep showing up.  

As I consider leaving Facebook, I remember all the pictures I'd be losing; then I think of all the photos I have saved to Amazon Prime and realize the Facebook photos wouldn't be too much of a loss.  At my age, I'm caring less and less about photos anyway.

I sometimes post the link to certain of my blog entries on Facebook, but only when I think it's a fairly interesting post.  I won't be sharing this one, because then I'd hear from the people who think I'm wanting someone to beg me to stay; it would appear as though I'm seeking affirmation.  I may just try disabling Facebook for a month straight and see what happens.  One thing I've noticed since I cut my friend list is this:  I've gotten back to blogging a little more often.

Do you suppose there's a group called "Facebook Anonymous"?  I could really use that.

"Hello.  I'm Donna, and I'm addicted to Facebook."

Yours throughout the struggle,

Saturday, December 07, 2019


In the wee hours of the morning, I began thinking about Little Jimmy Dickens, who died in 2016 at the age of 94.  This took my peripatetic mind on a winding trip back to my early childhood, a safe and happy time of my life.  Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days and stay.

Mother purchased an old-fashioned wind-up Victrola record player from a one-room country school that had been consolidated with a larger school district.  I'm sure she didn't pay much for it, because my parents didn't have a lot of money.  She and Daddy placed that fine-looking piece of furniture in the living room, against the wall on the opposite from the stupid piano Mother had so hoped I'd learn to play.  

The Victrola came with quite a large collection of 78 RPM records, the only speed the turntable had; the records were as old as the player... raspy, scratched, and old-fashioned.  One such record was just a bunch of folks laughing:  It started out with one guy, then little by little others joined in.  I was fascinated by the fact that if you listened to it, you couldn't help but laugh along with them.  When kids came to visit, I played it for them because it made us all laugh together.  There was also a record with Indians singing and drumming to a native song, which I loved (because I liked Indians).  

The needles had to be replaced often; you bought several of them in a package at the local hardware store.  I remember this because I knew how to do it all myself.  I don't remember my parents ever actually listening to the Victrola, although I'm sure they must have.  But I played it a lot!  I remember turning the crank that made the turntable go around, with no electricity involved. 

Ours looked somewhat like this
I guess my parents must have listened to it, because Mother came up with the extra money to buy two brand new record albums.  An album back then held five or six two-sided records with a song on each side, in thick paper sleeves.  The album opened like a book and you would choose the record you wanted to hear.  

Now that I think of it, my mom may have bought the albums so she could write down the words for me to learn, because this was the same time period when she was always putting me in local talent shows.  Some lady played piano for me when I sang at these functions.  

I remember the songs in those albums well.  George Morgan was the artist on one:  he sang about candy kisses and rooms full of roses (his daughter Lori grew up to be a country artist, years later).  I liked George's smooth voice just fine, but I preferred Little Jimmy Dickens' album because his songs made me laugh.  I especially liked "Plain Old Country Boy", in which my favorite line was this:  "All I got was the north end of a chicken flying south."  

The Jimmy Dickens song that stayed with me for life, though, was "Out Behind the Barn".  It was one of the first country songs I learned to chord with, after I got a guitar; it made people laugh when I sang it, too.  The title may have been an omen, because Cliff and I now live "out behind a barn" in a trailer house.  

I looked online to see what years those songs would have been on the charts; the albums were probably put out in 1949 or 1950. because the songs I remember so well were on the charts in 1949, when I was five years old.  

At that time, 78-RPM records were about to go the way of the dinosaur.  But I got a few years of pleasure out of them.

What a great childhood I had!  Even today it makes me smile, thinking about those times.

On another note, good news!!!  Cliff went to the cardiologist yesterday to find out the results of his recent tests, which he passed with flying colors.  The only advice he received was the usual "You need to lose weight", followed by "I'll see you in six months".

I told the doctor the only measure we take to help Cliff lose weight is portion control.  We hope for weight loss, but it usually turns out to be "maintenance":  If he doesn't gain weight, we count that as a plus.  Then I told him, "Honestly, I am not going to tell him what he can and cannot eat; I am NOT his mother.  If we stick to low-fat stuff we miss the foods we love, and end up going out splurging to get something that tastes only about half as good as something I could have made at home."

He chuckled a little and said, "These days I'm fighting weight myself," as he patted his not-that-big tummy.

On the way home, Cliff put it this way:  "I figure at the outside, I have five or six years left.  I don't intend to diet all the way to my grave."

We're happy and thankful that his heart is still doing pretty well, thirteen years after a four-way heart bypass.  But we'll be eating biscuits, corn bread, and even PIE occasionally.  Not every day... but we will eat what we love.  I do round out meals with a lot of vegetables and fruits, good healthy ones.  So there's that.  I know folks who hardly ever eat a vegetable, but I guess that is another thing I learned from my Mom, who once told me in regards to food, "I like anything that grows in the ground."  

Thank God for Aldi, where fresh fruits and vegetables are reasonably priced.

Yours always,

PS:  Further research tells me 78 RPM records were still made as recently as 1960.  I was listening to 45 and 33 1/3 RPM records long before that, as was everybody else I knew.  Around 1956 I received my first portable stereo record player for Christmas.  From then on, I went without my school lunches so I could buy Elvis records with my lunch money.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Oh ye of little faith

I apologize for the "poor me" post from yesterday.  As I've said before, there are concerns I really can't address publicly that involve someone dear to me, and it invades my thoughts often.  Being helpless in that situation makes my spirit sink with dismay and keeps me from seeing all things in perspective.  This will be my last time referring to it until it's all over.  Then I may explain, if possible.  It isn't anything about any family members, near or far.  

I need to get back to meditating awhile in the mornings.  It would be good for what ails me.

This morning I was doing my usual wakeup routine, catching up with Words With Friends.  My mood was in the dumpster.  Everything seemed hopeless, I thought, and now I had sunk money into one more useless printer.  As I sat there brooding, a question came to mind:  "Did I pray and ask God to help me figure out how to connect the printer?"

After all, I often tell Cliff how God helps me find stuff I've mislaid around the house.  Cliff chuckles about it; if he wasn't afraid I'd smack him, he'd probably reach over, pat my silly head, and say, "There, there.  You'll be OK."

So.  I thought back to the times prayers were answered and once again called God into the picture.  If the answer to my prayer was dependent on the amount of faith I had while praying, I'd still be sitting here sniveling and whining.  But God helped me in spite of the lack of faith.    

First I looked up some videos about installing the printer.  I did that yesterday, but I had not watched it patiently, with my full attention.  This morning I focused on the video, pausing it to consider each point before moving on.  I then took both the iPad and computer into the computer room, restarted the video on the iPad, and repeated each step as it came up, pausing it when I needed to.

In this manner I came across steps I had not followed properly yesterday and did those.  I still didn't have faith it would work, though.  

At the end, it seemed to have connected.  I found a poem I wrote years ago that I had recently sent to the father of a little girl my friend Carol and I once watched in the church nursery; the poem, written in 1992, was about that child .  Since it was on the desktop handy, I decided to try printing it.  The printer started clicking and whirring, and must have kept doing that for at least two minutes.  "It isn't going to work," I thought.  "I knew it wouldn't work."

BUT!!!!  Turns out this $20 computer simply works slowly, which is not a problem for me.  Finally out came the perfectly printed sheet of paper.

I had to apologize to God for my lack; I told him I'm pretty slow too, so this slow printer might be the perfect one for me.  And while my big concerns of late haven't been eased, except by my totally blocking them out when possible, I do have a printer that I can use without hooking it up to the computer with a wire or cable  The printer is in another room, but I can print anything from my computer while sitting in my easy chair in the living room.  I haven't tried printing from the iPad.  I can't see myself ever needing to do so.  But I downloaded the printer app, and it's nice to know I might be able to do that, at some point.  

Maybe God was just reminding me He can take care of the big, important things I worry about just as well as he can help me with a cheap printer.

Sorry about getting "preachy" here, but I have to give credit where credit is due.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

The ups and downs of my day

If you follow this mess I call a blog, you probably know I'm a bit emotional these days.  I'll have two or three days where I keep my mind off things, then a day will come when I can't stop thinking about somebody else's troubles.  Thank goodness I can walk in the pasture these days, because that's the best thing for the wintertime blahs.  Feeling the cool breeze on my face, walking over still-green grass and cushiony leaves, seeing the clouds in the blue sky:  sunshine, as well as the open air, is restorative.  I remind myself often as I walk to let worries drop away and just be present there in the thick of nature.  Otherwise my time would be wasted.  

During deer season Gabe and I walked along the highway in front of our house until we got to the park on the edge of town, then we'd walk around the park awhile.  Because there were people hunting on our property, I didn't think it was safe for us to walk there; besides, Gabe and I might have scared the deer away from the hunters, walking through the woods.  However, it was a relief when deer season ended.  

I had to be alert and watch for cars coming, which is something I'm not used to.  Then on the last day I tried to walk along the highway, a pit bull came running at us.  When I saw him coming, I picked Gabe up fast, because a larger dog will often attack small prey.  I did fear for my own safety, but I needn't have been concerned about that:  Silly dog frolicked all around me merrily. I intended to keep walking to the park, but I finally realized this dog wasn't going to go back home.  The worst part was that he kept bounding across the highway in front of cars, which could have caused people to veer off the road toward me and my dog!  Finally, still carrying my 18-pound Schnauzer, I turned and went home.  You'd be surprised how heavy Gabe felt by the time we got back home (with the pit bull still following us).

Our weather is lovely this week, with sunny skies and mild temperatures for December.  I went out to walk with Gabe around nine this morning with my coat unzipped and open.  As we turned to walk down our first and steepest hill, I stopped to take a picture of our shadows.
After our walk was over, the day began to degenerate.  Well, I guess that isn't true, because the day was still lovely; my mood is what went downhill.   

I needed a haircut, but I couldn't contact my hairdresser, Connie, who works out of her home, because her cell number was on my old phone but not my current one.  I eventually recalled the hairdresser mentioning another local lady whose hair she cuts.  I looked the lady up on Facebook and messaged her to get Connie's number.  So I did get my hair cut, and it looks just fine, thank you very much!

Anyway, that issue was bothering me for most of the morning.  Then I decided to set up my new printer.  Some of my worst memories are of experiences with the various printers I've owned; when I read online reviews of printers, one of the most common phrases I see is this:  "Makes a nice doorstop after it quits working."  And so far, it seems I have myself a brand new doorstop.

I gave it half a dozen tries.  At one point I was sure I had it, but I was wrong.  Honestly, I'm so moody lately I could have easily cried about it, but I just shrunk into myself and watched the last trace of joy go out the door.  

Pathetic, I know.  I kept the box this impossible printer came in, and if I have to return it, I will.  On the positive side, it only cost $20, so if they won't take it back I'm not out much.  

When I look back at these words I just typed, I realize what an insignificant problem this is.  And here I am inflicting my pitiful whining on my readers.  In fact, what I've written here is so ridiculous, I can almost laugh at myself now.  I make fun of people who take this attitude, and now I'm doing it!

As far as I know I don't have cancer.  We keep our bills paid.  We have plenty to eat and a roof over our heads.  I have a dog beside me who makes me feel better when I'm down.  And I am loved;  Cliff always has my back and keeps me out of trouble.  My stomach is behaving itself.  

Now I sit here thinking, Do I really want to post this mess?  I usually try to present the positive side of things, rather than whining.  

I guess I will post it just so you know I am capable of whining.  Tomorrow is a new day and if I can't post something worthwhile, I will keep my silence.   

Yours anyhow,



Tuesday, December 03, 2019

An excuse for unhealthy eating

As I've gotten older, I have a lot of stomach issues, especially when something is bothering me or when I'm depressed.  I have a prescription for Omeprazole:  I take two every morning before eating.  As long as I'm not depressed or don't consume the wrong things, it works fairly well.  But let me get in a funk and I might as well be taking a lifesaver candy for all the good it does.  If said funk lasts a few days, I can't help but eat less.  So I lose weight.  

I carried extra pounds from the holiday season of 2018 until this fall, finally getting within two pounds of my "fighting weight".  Then came the stomach issues and the pounds magically dropped off.  I like to weigh 152 pounds; that was my goal.  But within a matter of a couple of weeks, unable to make myself eat much, I was 147.  

Not to worry, I've seen a doctor.  

I've gotten enough improved that I can now eat a normal amount of food when there's no acid reflux burning my stomach.  But I was still losing ounces a day.  Even the morning after Thanksgiving, when I had eaten everything in sight and plenty of it, I still showed a slight loss.  I was down to 147 pounds without really even trying.  

Yesterday I vowed to eat so many calories that I couldn't possibly lose weight overnight.  So I topped off a day of eating normally by eating a whole bag of Cheetos.  Not the small bag like people throw in their lunchboxes.  Oh no, a regular 8.5 ounce bag.

One of the reasons I managed to maintain my weight over the last ten or fifteen years is that I swore off chips of all kinds.  At some point last summer, I began to realize I do not like most potato chips, but I found out I do like Ruffles, especially cheese flavor.  Then one week Cheetos were on sale, so I bought a bag only to discover Cheetos were my new favorite food.  Who knew?  I used to make fun of my mom when she constantly snacked on Cheetos,, cheese balls, or the like; although she like the puffed kind and I like the crunchy ones.  Mother often had a can of Planters cheese curls laying on the empty side of her bed, so I assume if she woke up hungry they were her go-to midnight snack.  

So I occasionally bought more Cheetos, trying to be reasonable about my intake.  However, I had opened Pandora's box and there was no going back.  Yes, my friends, Ruffles and Cheetos were the ruination of me until nature decided to help me get back to controlling my intake by giving me a bellyache.

This morning I weighed almost 149.  Yes, the chips did their work in a grand manner.  Not only that, but my stomach is still in decent shape this morning.  

By the way, I don't mind my weight being 147.  I'm only 5 feet, six inches tall now, down from 5 feet, seven inches in my prime.  The thing I didn't like was losing weight every day no matter what I ate.  Losing weight for no reason is not a good thing; it's worrisome, because I was already troubled about other things, and the weight loss, along with the stomach discomfort, was giving me one more reason to fret.  It's amazing what the imagination can conjure up at such times.  

At this point an old saying comes to mind:  If I had known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself.

And that's your report from a woman who is now addicted to Cheetos and, due to a good sale, possesses four bags that will need to be given away if she starts gaining weight instead of losing it.

Yours pathetically,

Sunday, December 01, 2019

My Thanksgiving Day

After a couple of days of philosophizing in my blog entries, I'll tell you how our Thanksgiving Day went.  (Spoiler alert:  it was great!)

As we age, the holiday traditions gradually change:  My earliest memories of Thanksgiving take place at my maternal grandma's little house, stretched at the seams by more people than you would think it could hold.  Aunts, uncles, cousins.  Great food, especially the pies.  What could be better?  Then Grandma was gone, so my brother and sister would bring their families to our house in Kansas City, and my parents hosted the event.  Later on, it was my job to be hostess.  Of course, after Cliff and I married, there were often two Thanksgiving feasts, one on the actual day and one on the weekend after, because my family and Cliff's family each had their own.

Since the grandson bought our place, the group of people who gather here in "Cliff's shop" has shifted and changed somewhat, with our family blending with the Arick's wife's family, as well as some folks who aren't related to any of us.  It's taken awhile, but we now have one of the most comfortable groups ever to share the big day.  Because our ex-daughter-in-law is the mother of our two oldest grandchildren, she attends with her friend, Andy; actually, they'd probably come even if it weren't for the grandchildren.  She likes noodles a lot, and she still feels like family.  Usually granddaughter Amber is here, but this year she was sick, coughing her head off.  Our daughter's family is always here, but one of her daughters had to work.  Our son, of course, lives in Georgia and visits in July, when I try to cook many of the things we have on holidays.  So he's not in the Thanksgiving mix. 

Now that I think about it, it's about the same crowd that comes for the Fourth of July party.

The grandson brined and smoked a turkey that was delicious.  I told him from now on, he can have turkey duty.  He mentioned it was a pretty expensive process, but I said I'd chip in next time.  I made all the sweet things I love but seldom have an occasion to make:  Cranberry salad (not a salad at all, really, but a dessert); Buck Buchanan Sweet Potato Pie; some pretzels and peanut butter crackers dipped in white chocolate.  If you've never had the dipped crackers, it's a simple thing to make, but it tastes like you paid a lot of money for it at a candy store:  Spread peanut butter between two Ritz or Hi Ho crackers, dip in almond bark... some in chocolate, some in white.  Cool on waxed paper, and eat.  I've always hated the fact that the chocolate almond bark is imitation chocolate, but I've tried using melted chocolate chips instead.  That doesn't work.

Anyway, the food was great.  I ate more sweets than anything else, simply because I limit them severely, most of the time.

Here's a first:  As we were taking things out to the shop, the thought entered my head that maybe I should take my guitar out there too.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but I followed my urge.  I don't normally push myself in like that; once in awhile a relative will ask me to sing something and I will.  But I really don't like to insert myself into something unless I'm asked.  I was thinking, for one thing, about Heather's grandpa; I heard he listens to all those country music shows on RFDTV, just like we do.  He is hard of hearing, his health isn't the greatest.  I figured an old Loretta Lynn song might perk him up a bit.  

Well, I'm not sure Grandpa even heard the song, but I got a good response from a couple who, although not relatives, are like family to the grandson and have helped him out in numerous ways; they are beginning to feel like our relatives by now.  They live nearby, and are often here for our celebrations.  Jerry kept exclaiming, "I didn't know you could sing!"

This was funny to me, because I'm pretty sure 90% of people can sing; some of them won't, and some of them think they can't, but almost anybody can carry a tune.  (That 90% figure was a guess, but I just checked Google:  ten to twenty percent of the population can't carry a tune.)

Heather's grandma, Sandy, said, "Oh, it's been years since I've heard you sing!"

I sang them three songs I wrote, two that always get the best responses from folks:  "Million Dollar Car" and "The Old Home Place", along with one Heather requested that she'd heard me sing at Church one time:  "Patchwork Quilt".  Add those to the Loretta Lynn song I began with ("I'll Lose My Mind Before I'm Over You"), and that was it.  It was one more than I intended:  I've learned that in a group that is eating and doing a lot of visiting, it's best not to sing over three songs.  You lose their attention pretty fast after that.  

So.  Whatever possessed me to insert my singing into the Thanksgiving event must have been on target.  I'm reminded again of the debt I owe Journey of Faith Ministries for forcing me out of my shell and pushing me to sing my songs after many years of silence.  If I can get them to designate a Sunday, I'll go back and sing them a song again just because they did me such a favor.

On an unrelated note, I didn't take my phone or iPad to the shop, so I wasn't among the folks looking for the best Black Friday sales online.  I've removed notifications from Messenger and thus gotten rid of the annoying "ping" that interrupted me at the worst possible times; I unfriended over 100 people on Facebook.  Most were those who never interacted with me at all, but there were a handful of them I got rid of for different reasons having to do with stress on my part.  I force myself to eat meals without looking at the iPad, even if it's just to read a book.  I'm telling you, this Internet addiction is tough to beat when you realize how it's gotten its tentacles into every facet of your life.  Facebook though, has been tamed and brought under control.  The app has been removed from my phone and the iPad, so I can only access Facebook on the laptop.  

I still allow myself to spend all the time I want to on Words With Friends, though.  It is addictive, but it's manageable... and there's nothing stressful about it, unless you count those times when I can't get a single consonant for five straight plays.  

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving with people you care about.  


Saturday, November 30, 2019

This random universe

In that last entry I posted, I talked about many of my childhood prayers being answered.  I received some comments on that particular story that made me re-evaluate what I was saying.  At least two of my readers mentioned in passing that they did not receive the pony they prayed for as a child; they are still waiting.  

Well folks, that left me speechless.  I assure you that my prayers were not answered because I was such a good, "religious" child.  Or because I prayed such a flowery, well-worded prayer.  I was a pretty bratty child, my main problem being my mouth:  I sassed my mother a lot, and sometimes threw fits on her when she asked me to do something.  By the time I was 13, I even went so far as to use those words no parent wants to hear out of her child:  "I hate you."  

Guess what?  I'm willing to admit those answered prayers might have all been random, for the simple reason there is no proving it was God.  I believe it was Him, but I won't try to make you believe the same as I do.  

My mother deserved a medal for not killing me.  Daddy just sort of stayed on the sidelines, he told me later, because of his temper.  He was afraid if he entered into the ruckus at all, he would hurt me.  So my poor mother was the enforcer, grabbing whatever was handy to paddle my behind.      

I'm just keeping it real here.  I believe God is present around me, but it's an unfair world.  I understand why some folks don't believe.  So much of life is random.  You can be driving down a freeway and get hit by a stray bullet.  Innocent babies get cancer and die.  Someone you trust turns out not to be trustworthy.  I have read the atheist point of view and even understand why they reject a higher power, but I personally choose to believe; yes, I make that choice.  I may not believe exactly the way you do, but I believe in God.  I love Jesus.  Cliff tells me I'm that way because it's all I knew as a child.  

Cliff and I are finally old enough to tolerate one another's very different beliefs, and we can be honest with one another and discuss things calmly.  

I'm reading a short non-fiction book called "Everything Happens for a Reason".    A woman who is a teacher at Duke University and has made a project out of studying the prosperity gospel for years gets stage IV colon cancer.  She writes about all those things people tell her to "cheer her up".  At one point she mentions how often they throw the words "at least" into a conversation about her cancer.  As I read it I remembered saying, "At least it isn't your right arm" to my daughter when she had to take desperate measures to relieve the lymphedema in her left arm;  lymphedema is one of the "gifts" breast cancer left in its wake.  

As I read this book, I wonder if I am better off not saying anything to a cancer patient ever again, since I'm famous for opening my mouth and inserting my big foot.  

So, my dear readers.  If my most important prayers were heard, the ones that seemed to have shaped how my life turned out, don't you ever think it was because I feel I am special in any way, or that God loves me more than He does you.  I will now tell you something that I also believe:  This world is pretty random.  Good and bad things befall us, and sometimes it's just the nature of the universe.  Yes, I do believe that both good and bad things can be "just random".   Miracles are few and far between.  You might just have to settle for the feeling of God's presence, guidance, and love as you walk through the fire.    

I've always liked the idea of positive thinking.  I've tried to be a positive person most of the time.  But I'm not in with the "name-it-and-claim-it" group.  You won't find me running around saying, "I am rich" as a way of making God pour money into my life.  I don't know how anyone can be a Jesus-follower and forget the fact that Jesus didn't even have His own house when He walked the earth, and his apostles were mostly destitute, hungry, tired, and mistreated.  Why are we any better?     

I say all that simply to get to this point:  If I were in charge of the universe, I would make sure every little girl finally got her pony at the proper time, right after she found her Prince Charming.  I would see to it that no innocent child ever had to suffer.  I would eradicate cancer.  Oh, and  I would make sure no mother would have to raise a little reprobate like me, who wouldn't behave.

And the world would be in a worse mess than it is now, because the natural order of things would be upset.  What I do wish for all my readers is peace of mind, whatever it takes to get that... as long as your method isn't killing you.  I want you to hang onto your precious life as long as you can, and I want everyone to find happiness in this messed-up but oh, so beautiful world.

This morning my heartfelt prayer is that you, my readers, will have a good day that brings you many reasons to smile.  Today is all we have.

Yours always,

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thankful for my life

I used to say Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday, and I suppose if I had to rate them all, it would still be a slight favorite.  But back when the kids were still at home or living nearby, back when I had all the cooking to do from the turkey to the trimmings to the pies, that's when I relished everything about it.  These days, the edge has somehow worn off, even though I'm not  doing that much of the work now (nor do I want to).  I wish I hadn't lost the excitement of fifty years ago.  Going back even seventy years, those times was great too.  All I had to do then was eat the wonderful meal:  By the time I was eight years old, I knew which dishes I could expect to find at Grandma's house on Thanksgiving, and I didn't so much get excited by the food as I did about seeing my cousins and aunts and uncles.  Good food was the norm in my family, any day.  

I enjoy getting together, of course, and seeing our family.  I just seem to have lost the excitement.  I thank God for every day I have, but I realize I have one foot touching earth and one stepping into eternity, so I don't get excited about many things these days.

I am at an age when I've realized I won't be able to do many of the things on my bucket list, since travel is so expensive.  Even the simpler things I thought I might eventually do are fading fast.  Example:  Ever since I read Ricky Skaggs' autobiography and developed a liking for bluegrass music, I have thought it would be great fun to attend a bluegrass festival, one that lasts for two or three days.  BUT... that would involve camping on the grounds: from what I've read, a lot of the entertainment at these festivals can be found on the campgrounds.  I understand random people get together and jam near their campers and tents.  What fun, to stroll from one group to another and listen to the songs!  But we're past the camping stage.

Of course, things like this don't always work the same in reality as they do in my imagination anyhow.  So perhaps I'm just being spared the disappointment of finding out it's no fun at all.

If you think I'm wishing my life had been different, you can think again.  I wouldn't trade lives with anybody.  There are things I would like to have done differently, but I love my life. 

When I was eleven years old, living on the Glen Wyant farm where Daddy was a hired man, I fell in love with the rural lifestyle, exploring the woods and climbing around in the barn.  It's as near to actual farming as my parents, or at least my dad, ever did in my lifetime, although we always lived in rural or small-town settings.  

After getting the news we were moving to Kansas City, I recall walking through the woods on the farm one day, praying I could someday have a similar place in the country, with woods to roam in.  I was sad when we moved to the city and settled into a two-room apartment temporarily.  I cried in private, remembering what I'd lost.  My other heartfelt prayer, one that I'd prayed since a VERY young age, was for a horse.  Of course, by moving to the city, that dream was lost for many years.

Nobody ever made me pray when I went to bed, and we only had prayers at meals when we had company.  But at some point I began to whisper a little prayer before I went to sleep, one of those rhyming prayers like "now I lay me down to sleep"; and then I'd throw in a wish at the end for something I wanted.   

But the only childhood prayers I felt with all my heart, spoken though tears and still remembered, are the prayers for a horse and the one to live on a farm.  And those are the ones God answered.  He set me up with a husband who, although he was raised in the city all his life, wanted to live in the country as badly as I did.  Oh, and He threw in the one other thing I was always drawn to when we lived in Harlem (Kansas City).  The Missouri River!   I could cross the gravel-covered levee and walk right down to the edge of it back then, or climb up to the ASB bridge and look down on it.  And while I didn't think to pray for a home near it, there was something comforting about the hugeness and power of it that touched my soul.  So God put icing on the cake when he moved me to Lafayette County onto six acres that magically became over 40 acres a few years later (another answered prayer).  I got my horse, I got my "farm",  the farm grew larger, and I rode my horse along the Missouri River many, many times.  

How's that for answered prayers?  I may not get excited about holidays any more, but I do get excited about how God answered every prayer I prayed as a child that was important for my lifelong happiness.  His first answer was always "just wait", even though I sometimes took that as "no".  Then, at a time when I'd almost forgotten those prayers, they were answered at the perfect times.

So how could I help but give thanks that God, in His mercy, answered the prayers of a little reprobate kid who always seemed to go her own way.  I still call myself "God's special-needs child", because I've stepped out of line quite a bit.  But don't ever think I don't realize Who arranged my life in such a way that all my prayers were answered.

That's my Thanksgiving.  If you, like me, tend to get a little down around the holidays, just think back to the prayers answered (or wishes granted, for my atheist readers).  

Most of us can come up with some gratitude.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

I've found my podcast

I had never ventured into the realm of podcasts until recently, on the long bus trip home from Sioux City, Iowa, with our tractor club friends.  It was dark; many of our group, older folks like me, were dozing, although I could hear random, quiet conversations once in a while.  Time was dragging.  I have trouble sleeping over four hours a night at home in my own bed, and I surely wasn't going to fall asleep sitting in a bus seat.  I thought about a person once telling me she and her husband regularly listen to a podcast about murder in small towns, where two guys dig up an old murder case from the past, analyze it, and make fun of the people in the town where it happened as well as the folks involved in the murder.  I reached down into a bag at my feet, pulled out the iPad, and clicked on the app for podcasts.  Before you start searching for it yourself, let me warn you this particular podcast is R-rated.  I listened to an entire episode and got a few laughs out of it, though.  Hey, I never said I was an angel.  

I can't understand why modern comedians think lewd talking makes them funnier, but I will listen to some of them... if they really ARE funny.  These guys made me laugh and helped the time pass, but I decided I'd look for a different podcast to call my own.  I wanted something relaxing, something that would make me feel better about life in general.  I'm not a prude, mind you.  But hearing someone say the F-word three times in every sentence eventually turns me off.  Still, I listened to a couple more.  Last night their little story was more than I could take.  It was about a murder, of course, one that really happened.  But it involved people who repeatedly molested children, even their own children.  This touched close to home, since there's something going on in a local town that, while it isn't THAT bad I suppose, troubles me deeply and has caused me some inner turmoil.  I stopped before the episode ended and decided I need to find a kinder, gentler podcast.  There is no way I can bear to listen at two guys laughing about child molesters at this point in my life.  

I was trying first one and then another when I remembered that one of you folks had suggested a podcast in a comment to a blog entry of mine.  I looked it up; it was from a reader who goes by the name of "Pudge" when she leaves a comment.  She suggested that I might like Sean of the South.  

I was familiar with this guy:  I've seen several of his columns shared on Facebook.  They are insightful articles that are worth the reading.  Recently I had even started following him on Facebook, but I didn't know (or care) that he had a podcast.

So when I awoke a few hours ago at midnight with a killer sore throat (no worries, I'm on the mend), I found the guy's podcast and made it mine.  I love a southern accent, although Pudge said, "I personally enjoy reading his creations more than listening to the podcasts because he lays on the good ole boy accent a little heavy."  

This guy tells simple stories about random people he meets, seeing the good in normal situations and average folks.  As Pudge said, he will bring tears to your eye, but they are the good kind of tears.  He leaves me thinking this old world isn't so bad after all.  He's written books, he does a newspaper column, he sometimes makes personal appearances, mostly in the south.  Look him up online if you wish:  He's totally rated "G".  

I'm grateful that one of my readers knew exactly what I needed at this point in my life.  I think I'll listen to another one.  It's 3:30 AM, and a long time before Cliff wakes up.  I believe Sean may even provide some inspiration for my journaling here.  

If you're tired of all the bad news these days, look him up.  You can read his words or listen to a podcast, but either way, you will end up a better person.  You might even find a laugh or two.

Gratefully yours,

PS:  For years I've had various readers tell me they were unable to comment on my blog.  While looking for something entirely different, I noticed a setting for "who can comment" and saw it was set for "those with a google account".  I changed that setting, so if you haven't been able to comment and are still a reader, you might try it now.  Maybe I've fixed that issue.  I'm not all that computer-savvy, and I seem to be forgetting a lot of things I used to know.  My one biggest regret about this blog is that I can't type an answer to questions in the comments directly to the person who asked the question.  

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Where everybody knows my name

I've mentioned before that I've been attending two of the churches in our small town each Sunday.  Stay with me here, I'm not trying to persuade you, my dear readers, to do what I'm doing.  I want to tell you what I've discovered about myself in the process.

How many times have my long-time readers seen on my blog the phrase "I'm a loner"?  Surely I've typed it into a few entries.  I've mentioned it many times on Facebook, and I tell people the same thing face to face.   But I'm learning something about myself during these last few months:  I may not be so much a loner as simply "socially awkward". 

Oh, I do value my alone time.  Growing up, I learned to enjoy my own company.  Throughout my first eight years in rural Iowa, there weren't many opportunities to play with other children.  Until I was five, I was my own best friend, and had no problem with that.  So once I started going to the one-room schoolhouse, I was already somewhat peculiar.  I know this because other kids didn't flock around me at recess.  One little girl told me I talked too loud (I still do, but at least that trait now serves a purpose, since Cliff is about half deaf).  Isn't it strange how a seventy-five-year-old woman would remember such things, and isn't it peculiar how it still hurts just a little?

And that's how the Internet drew me in.  I discovered a Christian chat room on AOL and made friends there.  Sometimes I even felt like the life of the party.  We began having chat reunions and met one another in person, so some of our Internet friends became real-life friends.  Many of those kind people have died now, but I still have Joanna, whom I claim as a sister.  We don't talk often, but we are there for one another when we are going through things.  I spent a week with her in her home near Washington, DC, and saw some of the local sites I would never have seen, if not for her.  She is much more than an "Internet friend".

The chat room group gradually disbanded; I left AOL.  Many years later, Facebook happened, and I re-connected with some of my old friends and made some new ones... online friends, that is, but there was once again that feeling that "somebody knows I'm here".  I went crazy, really.  A person can be very social online, and turn off the party when she's had enough.  I didn't have to clean house or entertain people to have a social life!  It was an ideal situation, I thought. 

All it really amounted to was this:  somebody knew I was alive.

It's worked pretty well for me all these years, but after stepping into these two small-town churches, I've realized something:  It's nice to have some real people to talk to, people who are glad to see me every time I walk through the door because when there are only fifteen of them, one person makes a big difference in the size of a crowd. 

I'll have to skip the Methodist Church this morning because the Baptist Church is having their Thanksgiving dinner after the service.  I'm taking Old Settler's beans, Cliff, and Heather, the grandson's wife.  Yes, Cliff volunteered to go to church this Sunday.  Why?  Because the preacher's wife said to tell him to come in and eat with us, since he comes to pick me up at church anyway.  

Cliff likes to eat, you know.  However, he said he didn't feel right just walking in for a meal.  So he is going to church too.  It'll be a one-time thing, I imagine, but at least the folks can meet the mysterious stranger who, along with my dog, is always waiting for me in the car after church.   I do hate being absent from the Methodist Church today, because I've made a friend who sits in the pew behind me every Sunday.  She was a school-teacher long ago.  We have some nice chats.  Her name is Patty.  She knows a lot about the history of Wellington.  Three generations of her family have attended that church.  She likes sitting behind me because she enjoys looking at my naturally curly hair, which makes her think about her curly-haired brother when he was a child.

As all these thoughts were running through my mind this morning, the theme song from "Cheers" came to mind.  Now, I didn't know all the lyrics to that song, although I never missed an episode of the show.  But I did recall the words in the title:  "Where everybody knows your name".

And that, my friends, is what draws me back to two churches of differing denominations every Sunday.  Not all my beliefs line up with either congregation, but it seems like God is in both of them, small in numbers as they are.  I keep my mouth shut about theological differences, because my opinion, after all, is just another opinion.  That and a dollar might buy you a cup of coffee.  But after sitting at home on Sunday for years or else going to larger churches where I felt invisible, there are two places where I am welcomed heartily and everybody knows my name... make that three.  And many of the people at a fourth one might vaguely remember me.