Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Owl-o-Ween Hodgepodge

It's a treat each week to go door-to-door, virtually speaking, through this fun little meme called the Wednesday Hodgepodge.  No costume, shoes, or warm coat required!  Thanks, Joyce, for handing out questions every week like they're candy corn. 

In my case, the answers tend more toward corn. 

Anyway ,trick or treat!

1. What's something you're dealing with that might be described as tricky?

Quilt borders.  You'd think that it would be as easy as measuring the four sides of the perimeter, right?  Well, think again.  Getting the thing squared up is job one, measuring (in three places TWICE) and then the opposite ends. Easier said than done.

2.  What's your treat of choice?

I have so many treats of choice. Yesterday my treat was a mani-pedi. Today my treat was a new pair of  hot pink flannel PJ's.

3. Did you/will you carve a jack-o-lantern this month? Which real (living or dead) or fictional 'Jack' would you most like to meet in person? Why?

I didn't carve a pumpkin, but our kids did. The one above is by our youngest son  (11) who  carved  this Oriole Bird logo jack-o-lantern.  I can't get over his drawing skills, for starters, and then to translate that iinto carving skills.  My great grandfather had artistic ability like that. He used to take a piece of tin and carve an outline of a 10-point stag using nothing but scissors. No drawing. Just tin and scissors. The genetic component of this talent never ceases to astound me. 

My daughter Sarah carved this cute owl: 

Steve and Ambrey carved a happy face together. 

Ben and Dee shared the knife to do a Ravens pumpkin. 

All together now: 

Which "Jack" would I like to meet?  

How about Hugh JACKman ???    Yum. Isn't he a treat for the eyes??   

4.  In your opinion, what's the grossest sounding word in the English language?



5. When did your heart last skip a beat? 

Sunday. It was around 9:30 a.m.  I was in the shower,  and I thought I heard my husband fall outside the bathroom door.   He had been sick and dehydrated all week and we were getting ready to go to Patient First instead of church.

I heard a loud "THUMP!" and then  "Zo!"  I turned off the shower immediately, scared that my man was on the floor with a head injury. (He fainted last winter after being dehydrated, and hit face first on the kitchen floor).   But this time it was not a fall.  He thumped on the locked bathroom door, asking me if he should go alone or would I be ready soon. Strange things happen when your head is covered in shampoo and your ears are filled with water spray.

FYI: do NOT scare me and then ANNOY me or you MIGHT end up with a head injury! Just a fair warning.

6. Monster Mash by Bobby 'Boris' Picket, Michael Jackson's ThrillerWerewolves of London by Warren Zevon, or Ray Parker Jr.'s Ghostbusters...your favorite 'scary' tune?

Mooooooonnnnnnnsterrrrrr Maaaaasshhhhhh!  

7.   It was a dark and stormy night when Hurricane Sandy reached our town  a year ago. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

My mom is going to have outpatient surgery today for her knee and I had every intention of sitting with my dad. But he called tonight and informed me that the doctor's office brochure discourages patients from having more than one family member in the waiting room. Space http://joyce-fromthissideofthepond.blogspot.com/limitations.   That irritates me. Really does.  I wanted to be physically right beside my dad to give him comfort and company and right there for my mom when she comes out of recovery. But instead, I have to wait at home for the phone to ring.   I assured them I'd be here praying. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pumpkin Patch Blessings

I love it that our four kids and the boys' wives enjoy doing things together, just the six of them sometimes.  Just when my boys thought that their Mom was the only crazy female who wanted to drag them all over creation to celebrate the seasons--and bother someone for a picture on top of it---they found wives who do the same.

God's sense of humor.

Last weekend one of the daughters-in-law initiated a pumpkin patch day for the sibs. They went out to the fields and gathered some, snapped some wonderful photos, and went back to Ben's to do some carving.  (Ben is the super tall one.)   I just adore this picture and count my blessings when I see it.

Friday's Letters, the Yikes and Yucks Version, EDITED

Stupid me!!! I linked to Half Past Kissin' Time, but that is Friday Fragments, not Friday's Letters. Oh, boy , do I have egg on my middle age face right now.  I didn't realize this when I posted. My apologies to the hostesses. I don't have time to rewrite, but I will say, if my post were a cake, I'd call it Fragments Frosted with Letters.

Having issued my embarrassment paragraph by way of introduction,

here's what my UNedited version said.....

Friday's Letters from Half Past Kissin' Time is a fun meme to participate in.

Dear Blogging Friends,  I have been MIA here because I've had quite the week, medically speaking.  On Monday morning, after 10 days of escalating headaches, my pain reached an 8.5 on the 0-10 scale, there was tingling in my right arm, I couldn't take any noise or light. Tried to get a doctor appointment but they were booked solid. Patient First doctor did a quick neurological test and sent me directly to the ER for  a CT scan.  That was about 11:00 a.m. ;  I decided I was too scared to be alone. So...

Dear Hubby,  thank you for dropping everything at the office to come sit with me in the ER.  You are always what I want near me in a crisis.  By noon, the pain was at its peak, but at least I knew you were there.

Dear  Daddy, what a surprise, what a comfort to see you walk into my hospital room by 12:15. Have I ever told you how much I adore how you always dress up for hospital visits? The quintessential chaplain, you sported your suit jacket and tie  for Mama last week for her surgery, and this week for my episode.  They say a girl loves a man in uniform, and I just love the threads you rock.

Dear Diagnosis, they labeled you a  migraine.  I have to say, after losing two friends to brain cancer in the last two months, I was nervous as you-know-what to hear your name. When I couldn't knock you out in 24 hours with ibuprofen,  an ice pack ,  and a dark room, I had to take action.

Dear Nasty Stomach Bug, I say it is HIGH time to get out of my husband's life. Within hours of being released from the hospital, I have seen you level this man.  He's been a freezing cold, convulsing leaf one minute and a burning hot muffin the next.  For four days straight!  He has been seated on the throne longer than Louis XIV.

Dear Marriage Vows, the "in sickness and in health" line that were part of you? Yes, we have faithfully kept you, but much prefer the latter.  However, it sure is nice to know that covenant means something to people when the "going" gets tough. Or frequent. Or both.

Dear Nikon camera battery, I guess the orange light that tells me you're charging actually means nothing.  I went to pop you into my camera this morning to take a picture of my Middle School son dressed as a baby for Spirit Week. You wouldn't work. Zip. Zilch. Zero charge. I am guessing that after 7 years,  you signed a DNR order?    I sure did want to get a picture of Joel with that bib around his neck. We made it ourselves last night and it's rather adorable, if I say so myself.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's Nacho Hodgepodge; It's Mine.

This is Volume 146 of the Wednesday Hodgepodge, thanks to Joyce and the crop of questions she is able to pick from her "mind fields."  (Oh, that pun bombed.)

Moving right along...

1. What was your biggest worry five years ago?  Is it still a worry? 

Losing one of my parents.   No, I have peace now. I truly believe that God will be All I Need when that time comes. 

2. Yesterday (October 15th) was National Grouch Day...what makes you grouchy? What cheers you up when you're feeling grouchy?

Too little sleep, people who sit at green lights in front of me, calling folks to the table for dinner and they don't come right away,  the neighbor's barking dog (which I've mentioned here about as often as she barks), being hungry, not understanding directions, people who take forever to make a decision, listening to too much small talk or to someone dominate a conversation. 

What cheers me up?  Comedy.  Listening to comedians on Youtube at nights till my face hurts.

3.  In one word, how does it feel to be photographed?   


4. Besides your parents, who would you say had the greatest influence on you in choosing your life path?  Explain. 

A high school teacher, Miss Yarnall, who taught English, French, and home ec, was a missionary to Africa, was an Army nurse and (much later) the school nurse at my Christian high school .  I didn't realize at the time how much influence she had on me. She passed away last year at the age of 90. 

5. The crisp days of autumn are here ...what's something you like to eat, but only if it's crisp?


6. What's the most useless object you own?

My memory.   

Nah, I guess I don't OWN it. It's on loan like the rest of my parts.
Um, useless tangible object I own?   a big ole TV in my son's closet.  Too heavy for hubby and me to carry, and no one thinks about it when the buff sons are home. 

7.  Share a favorite fall memory. 

     In September of 2002, I was healed of a freak pelvic injury I sustained while giving birth to my last child--an injury that required me to use Depends, a walker, a round-the-clock nurse (ie my hubby), and a lot of pain medicine. 

     One month after my MIRACULOUS, INSTANTANEOUS, SUPERNATURAL  healing, we took a trip to New Hampshire to visit dear friends, and while there we hiked the White Mountains.  I don't think I've ever said, "Thank You, Jesus!" more times in a single day than I did that day as I  took step after step, up the mountain, down the mountain, pain free.  I hope I never forget that exhilarating gift.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Today, after school, after I reminded my boy to put the dishes away and his clean clothes, he did so and then plopped down at the kitchen table to do homework.  

Having just recently lost three friends in five months, I asked my   sixth grade son what legacy I'm leaving. He asked me to explain. I said, "What will you remember me for when I die?"

He thought about it and said, "For making me."   

I said, "For making you what? Do chores? Chew with your mouth closed? Hold the door for ladies?"

He said, "No. For making me.  YOU know...MAKING me?"   

Oh, the inflection with raised eyebrows cracked me up .

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Daybook, 10.15.13

The Simple Woman's Daybook helps put a bunch of life's happenings in one neat little post when the reality is, each happening could be its own post if only...


Outside my window... pleasant, sunny, mildly cool, with a clear blue sky, and a neighbor mowing grass..

I am thinking of the family, friends, coworkers and students of a teacher in our school who went Home to her Savior this past Saturday. Her brain cancer was only diagnosed a few months ago, but she said God had told her it was cancer before doctors did. She had such peace. She was a gentle, worshipful person.  In her dying moments, her arms were 
uplifted in praise and her last words were, "Thank You, Jesus." 

I am thankful... that I have the same peace.  It's been a year of loss, but I felt the Lord speaking to me last December that this year's overarching word would be "Peace."   

In the kitchen...  are some delicious tomatoes and squash from an Amish roadside stand, just waiting to be grilled tonight.

I am wearing...a purple top and khaki pants.  Like you care.

I am creating... three quilts and some gifts I can't show because certain people read my blog now and then. Ahem. 

But these fall fabrics are turning into a table runner for my dining room, 

while these fun, bright scraps will become part of a play quilt for my niece for Christmas.  ( My sister rarely reads my blog so I'm pretty sure she won't see this, especially she since is in St. Thomas with baby JB.   Even if she happens upon this photo,  it's just a teaser, right?) 

I am going...to drop off some notes of encouragement (secretly) to the sponsors of two friends who will be pilgrims on their Emmaus Walk. Have you ever heard of Emmaus, or been part of it as either a sponsor or pilgrim? 

I am wondering..."What is the legacy I'll leave?"

I am reading... . mostly quilting books and magazines

I am hoping...to pursue something that God has laid on my heart when He spoke to me recently these four little words: "Set the captives free." 

I am looking forward to... helping my daughter in her class again on Thursday.  I just love to go to her school; all her coworkers think I'm her older sister, not her mom. All her kiddoes cheer when I walk in, "Mrs. Z!" and make me feel like a rock star.

I am learning. a great deal from Beth Moore's Bible study on James. 
Today: Anguish can morph into joy. 
Around the house...a few fall decorations. My thoughtful husband bought some Indian corn and a little basket of mini gourds while shopping with my daughter. He said to her, "Pick out something for Mom. You know how she likes her little fall decorations."  Awww.
I hung the corn on a wreath I made. 

I am pondering... whether my mom will get good news or bad on Thursday, healthwise.  

A favorite quote for today..."Just think, Mom," said my 11-year old, as we got out of the car after school, "In just 4 short years, I'll be driving YOU around. Scary thought, huh?"  

One of my favorite things... is hearing birds sing.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  quilting class, phonics game with first graders, exploring membership class at church, memorial service. 


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Exploring Ideas in the Hodgepodge

1. The USA will mark Columbus Day this year on Monday, October 14th. What's something you need or want to explore (literally or metaphorically speaking)?

I have given this question ample freedom to move about the cabin of my mind since reading it yesterday. 

Nothing I NEED to explore at the moment, although my master bedroom closet could be described as other-worldly right now in its current state of disarray. 

 I would like to explore:
- the possibility of a world without bugs. I'm sure many of them are necessary to the ecosystem, but I do have some questions for God when I get Home.  

-the world of patents for some things I've invented when I saw a need  (as in the medical therapy eye bikini I wrote about yesterday). 

-the world of electrical wiring as a way to face my fear of death by shock.  I really want to replace the frayed wiring on the Singer sewing machine that I bought this past summer, and say, "I did it all by myself." I don't want to pay someone to do it, except that--and this is minor, I suppose--I'd rather not die trying.

 2. The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, Ursula from The Little Mermaid, or Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty...who do you most love to hate?

I've never seen  The Little Mermaid and I don't recall Maleficent. (Was that the name of the wicked stepmother?) So by process of elimination, and because I am a Kansas girl who has watched Wizard of Oz umpteen jumpteen times, I'm going with WWW.

3. Is open-mindedness a virtue?

Yes, unless it includes stupid logic such as being open to the idea that the world created itself, that unborn babies are just tissue, that calling right wrong and wrong right is just personal choice instead of sin,  or the notion that "all roads lead to God."  Jesus said, "Narrow is the road that leads to heaven, and few are those who find it."   

Keeping a mind open to differences of opinion, new ways of thinking, being willing to change when one is in the wrong--yes, those are some of the virtuous sides to open-mindedness. 
4. How often do you weigh yourself?

Till I get the lowest number for the day.  

Speaking of scales, I have to tell a funny little story. When my youngest was 3  years old, he was in the bathroom with me as I brushed my hair. He stepped on the scale and I said, "Look at you! 39 pounds already!"  He equated pounds with points, I suppose,  and said (too eagerly), "Mommy, now YOU  'tep on it and see how many points YOU get!" 

I felt like saying, "That's okay, honey. Mommy knows she's a real winner.  I wouldn't want you to feel  bad when I hit the jackpot."

5. This question comes to you courtesy of Rebecca over at Making Memories, so thanks Rebecca! 

Costa Rica was recently named the happiest country in the world on the Happy Planet Index. What's the happiest country in the world to you, and what makes it so?

Ten years ago I would have said the USA.  But now, not so much. When I think of happy countries, for some reason Australia comes to mind. Seems like everyone who talks like Indiana Jones is happy. 
6. Besides The Bible, what is one book you think should be mandatory reading for high school students? Why?

To Kill a Mockingbird, because it's a superbly written novel on the reality of racism, human rights, and the justice system in our country not that long ago.  
7. I went shopping at some nearby outlets last week, and while I was there, I picked up a couple of Christmas gifts. How about you? Have you started your holiday shopping yet?

Yes, I have a few things picked out that just "had their name on it" when I saw it. Little surprises for my girls thus far. And I am working on making some gifts as well.  Considering that I am also taking a quilting class that has "homework," the gifts may or may not be given THIS Christmas. Is that the Christmas you are referring to, Joyce? The one coming in 2.5 months?

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Thanks for praying for me, if you did, last week when I was nervous about my interview. I got the job as art teacher! It's very sporadic, not steady, but that's okay.  I didn't really want to give up blogging for making money anyway. Ha!

Besides,  at a recent funeral, I ran into an old friend/former colleague from the crisis pregnancy center where I used to volunteer 20 years ago. She said, "Zoanna, we could really use you again. Those women need Jesus, honey!"   I am exploring about (and praying about earnestly) returning to that counseling ministry again. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Today is my parents' 52nd wedding anniversary and they are even more in love than they were yesterday. That whole "in sickness and in health" vow has certainly be kept by them over and over and over, especially now that they're what some people call "old."

 My mom had eye surgery last week and came through it well, hoping it results in added peripheral vision.

 She had typical bleeding, swelling, and bruising around both eyes,  and the only ice therapy/cold compress the surgeon's office sent her home with weighs too much for sore eyes, it sits too high and thus freezes the forehead, it doesn't drape well, but it covers the nose, thus preventing proper breathing.

 It's obvious that the surgeon never had to recover in the same manner he prescribes for his patients.

She had trouble sleeping one night, and during that block of awakeness, she thought, "I bet Zo could use her creativity to design something better than this heavy block of ice that has no drape to it."

 Right she was.  I spent Saturday designing eye masks to her specifications:  lightweight, soft, fitted to cover the whole area of the eyes and bridge of the nose only, able to hold bags of crushed ice for 15 minutes without her (the patient) having to hold the pack on.

After seven prototypes, I finally came up with a design she really liked. It looks like a strapless bikini filled with ice in the 'cups.'

I call them Eye Bra Skis, a play on my last name.  Perhaps if I were to market them, I might simply call them Eyes Packs, but we were having a bit of fun.

When I fitted my mom with her first EyeBraSki, I told her looked good in a bikini.  She laughed and  said, "Well, I never have before."  And I said, "That's because you never wore it on your face!"   Oh, my , I thought she was gonna bust her stitches.

Laughter is great medicine until you're trying not to undo what's supposed to hold you together.

The Eyes Packs have 8 layers of 100% cotton--four in the front, four in the back, and hold a snack size bag of small crushed ice in each side. (Think pita pockets for the ice.)   It's just wide enough and heavy enough with 1/4 cup ice in each pocket to drape easily for 15 minutes.

The problem is that the ice sweats after about 10 minutes. So I double-bagged it. But then it didn't get cold enough for her.

 With my sewing machine at my parents' kitchen table, I was able to make three different EyeBraSkis with decorative stitches.  I have to stay my stitches look better than hers.  Perhaps
I'll pitch my invention on "Shark Tank" and make my millions making bikini-shaped ice packs for post-op or injured patients.  Or I might just be happy with my parents' appreciation of what they call "creative caring."  That's good enough for me.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Don't Squash the Hodgepodge

Thanks for making your way to my Hodgepodge answers.  Our faithful hostess, Joyce, is to be commended for cranking out the questions, week after week, month after month, season after season.  Let's get into it again, shall we?

1. What's one thing you learned in September?

That my friend, Diane, had been put in hospice.  She lost her battle with cancer on Thursday, September 26th. Her funeral was this past Monday.  She was only 58. I still can't really grasp it.  I still picture her as she was when we were homeschooling, encouraging each other on the phone that these days and years are of utmost importance. Our mothering matters to God. 

She is the second friend I've lost in as many months. But I will see them both again in heaven. Carol and Diane just beat me to the Finish Line.

2. Acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, yellow squash, zucchini squash, or blech! hold the squash... what's your favorite squash? What's your favorite way to prepare your favorite squash? 
I'm a pretty equal-opportunity squash consumer. My most frequently enjoyed one is yellow summer, simply sauteed with butter, sometimes onion, salt and pepper. But what I think is  a  real treat when fall comes is to have butternut squash. I slice it in half lengthwise, put it face down in a shallow pan of 1/2 inch of water, cover it with foil and bake it for about 40 minutes until it's soft. Then I doctor it with butter and brown sugar .  I know I should skip the brown sugar, but it's part of the definition of "treat." 

3. The older I get the_______________________________.

better I am at distinguishing the good from the better, and the better from the best in terms of priorities in life.

4. What's your favorite television theme song ever?

Ever?  Oh, my.  That's a hard one.  Although it had no words, I liked the theme music to The Waltons.  It ushered us as a family into an hour of family togetherness every Thursday night. It was rare that my parents watched anything but the evening news, so it felt special.   

5. What do you wish you'd spent more time doing five years ago?
Praying.  I did more trying to figure out, trying to learn, trying to control people and circumstances instead of praying in faith about the things that bothered me. 
One of the quotes  Diane had written in her  Bible, which her youngest daughter shared at the funeral, was this: "Instead of saying, "God, here is my problem," say, "Problem, here is my God!"  

6. What item do you most need (or want) to add to your wardrobe this fall?
A couple half zip-up sweatshirts. I've been wearing my charcoal grey (I think originally black) GAP sweatshirt like it's the only one I own.  Why? Because it is.  I have sweaters and cardigans  and long V-neck tees (my shirt of choice on a chilly day inside) but really need to get two more sweatshirts  in vibrant colors.  I'm thinking a cranberry and a coral.   

7. On October 2, 1950 the Peanuts cartoon was introduced to the world. What was your favorite cartoon when you were a kid?

In print?  Goofus and Gallant in the Highlights magazine.   On TV?  Speed Racer.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I have an interview tomorrow for a  part-time position as an art teacher at the local rec center.  I really 
feel most alive in the classroom and especially teaching art to kids.  One of my priorities now is to  be more active in the community,  not just in my own little world of home, church and school.  I would appreciate prayers. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Rooster Joke for Old Folks

Someone sent me this joke. Just had to share.

How many of us seniors have been in this boat?

A little silver-haired lady calls her neighbor and says, "Please come over here and help me. I have a killer jigsaw puzzle, and I can't figure out how to get started.."

Her neighbor asks, "What is it supposed to be when it's finished?"

The little silver-haired lady says, "According to the picture on the box, it's a rooster."

Her neighbor decides to go over and help with the puzzle. She lets him in and shows him where she has the puzzle spread all over the table. He studies the pieces for a moment, then looks at the box, then turns to her and says, "First of all, no matter what we do, we're not going to be able to assemble these pieces into anything resembling a rooster."

He takes her hand and says, "Secondly, I want you to relax. Let's have a nice cup of tea, and then," he said with a deep sigh ...........

( scroll down)


"Let's put all the Corn Flakes back in the box."