Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday's Letters in Flight Mode

I'm linking up today over at The Sweet Season to do Friday's Letters, although it looks like Ashley hasn't posted for today. She has some beautiful wedding photos on there for anyone who would like to gawk from afar.

Dear Bloggy Friends, I'm sorry to have gone AWOL for so long.  It's been a combination of reasons for which I've not written.

Dear quilting hobby, you've become more of an obsession, a great source of happiness. Moreso than writing for the past couple of months. Not that you'll ever take the place of writing because you two are separate and noninterchangeable expressions of creativity.

Dear Husband and Children, thank you so, so, so, so much for giving me the gift of airfare and time away --a whole week--to go visit Barb, my dear friend of 40 years.  To have a friend that long and to keep close in heart is a cherished gift. Getting to spend time face-to-face, eyeball to eyeball, is a rare treat for us. She wanted more than anything to ring in her 50th year by having me come visit.  You made it possible and I'm so very grateful.  I will be celebrating that I am NOT 50 yet and oh, how I love to rub it in her sweet, smiling face!

Dear Airplane, I board you tomorrow.  Yay!  Goodbye, BWI, hello Wichita!

Dear Suitcases, I fear I don't know how to not stuff you like a belly on Thanksgiving.

Dear Need, apparently I don't understand your definition when it comes to packing.  Do I really need tennis shoes, flip-flops, wedges, AND shooties? Do I really need to accessorize?  Do I really need both silky sleeveless PJ's and long cotton pants with long sleeves? You tell ME. I might not listen, but I'll hear.

Dear Laurie, I am so looking forward to seeing you again.  How the Lord made our paths cross via the internet and then via the roads to your home in Kansas was quite a pleasure. He's in the business of blessing us like that, isn't He?

Dear Uncle Norman, it will do my heart good to see you again. As my dad's oldest and only brother, did you know that you've always been a hero to him? Every time he talks about you, it's how talented you are, how you saved his life in a  sledding accident where he landed in a pond.  Oh, yes, It's a Wonderful Life has the same plot, and you guys lived it in that moment. I hope you still have your red '66 Mustang convertible. I want another ride around town!

Dear Clock, once again you keep on tickin', regardless.  You wait for no one. And so, I must obey the hands that spin round and round, reminding me that in less than 22 hours, I will--if the Lord wills--stepping from the terra firma of Maryland to the skies over  the heartland of America. Oh, how I love to fly. The feeling of soaring through the clouds makes me feel closer to God. And knowing that if the plane should crash, I will be in His presence without suffering first. What could be better?

Dear Bloggy Friends,  another note to you: I do still visit your blogs, although if I am on my iPad, it's been a challenge to comment if I have to edit my comments for any reason. I am impatient when it comes to glitches. I seem to hit glitches moreso with that gizmo than on my laptop. Do know that I haven't forsaken you.

And please let me know it's mutual.  A little comment love keeps me keepin' on here!

Dear Family, let me end with saying I love you very, very much.  You mean more to me than you'll ever know. I pray for you daily that you would experience God's presence, His peace, His joy, His comfort--whatever you need.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Of Grace, Grass, and Getting Older in the Hodgepodge

It's Party Time in the Hodgepodge. Our hostess is having a birthday ! Click on this cute little button and go wish her a happy one, will you? This is the 190th HP and that may have aged her just a tad to come up with 7 questions every week 190 times.

1. I'm celebrating a birthday this week so a question relating to aging feels appropriate. Douglas MacArthur is quoted as saying, 'You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair." Would you agree? If not why not?

A very happy birthday to you, Joyce. I hope it's full of lots of big and little things that make you smile and feel loved. 

As for the quote, wow. I'm writing this at 4:43 a.m. because I can't sleep, but is my brain awake enough to process such things as faith, doubt, self-confidence, fear, hope, and despair--and to analyze whether I'm old or young in relation to each? I feel like I need a graphic organizer in front of me, and paper and pen to hash out a thoughtful answer.  

Somehow I can say a lot without actually answering the question, though, huh?  

How about a concise (is it too late for that?) answer, shooting from my very ample hip?  Jesus  tells us to have faith as a child--and that comes from believing deep down that the Heavenly Father loves you and wants only the best for you.  Doubt, fear, and despair, by contrast,  are all byproducts of faulty thinking--believing lies instead of truth about God and about oneself.  The longer you live believing lies, the older and more debilitated you'll be spiritually.  

If that doesn't make sense, chalk it up to a fuzzy head--mine, not yours. 

2. What remarkable feat, interesting piece of trivia, or historical event occurred on your birth day and month? Not necessarily in your birthyear, just the same date/same month.

I share a birthday with Mother Teresa.  That's worth celebrating.   Oh, and I googled "Important historical events on August 26." You wouldn't believe what made the list for 2011. Hang on to your ticket to the theatre--you'll need it for this drama.  I quote:

August 26, 2011--After losing a referendum on free school lunches, Seoul's mayor, Oh Se-hoon, resigns

Yup. He stomped his little Korean foot and shook his little fist at City Hall. "That's it! If we can't have free school lunches in this city, I quit!"

To that I say, "Mr. Se-hoon, only I am allowed to be a baby on my birthday. Not you. Didn't anyone ever tell you there's no such thing as a free lunch, anyway???"

(Pouting and shouting about no free lunches certainly sounds more like something that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford would do, but I digress.)

3. Describe a time or circumstance where you wanted to 'have your cake and eat it too.'

Oh, that's easy.  For my birthday, I wanted a new sewing machine (Janome Horizon 7700--for making BIG quilts and doing lettering and so much more than my great LITTLE machine does), and I also wanted a professional massage, complete healing of my right shoulder, a call from my parents, steamed crabs, and a chocolate cake with raspberry filling this year.  All the other things came late or I have faith they will happen.

Thanks to my hubby,  kids, and little sister,  I got the airfare for a trip to Kansas--and I'm so excited!!!  It's coming up in a very short time!  Why Kansas? Because my best friend of 40 years turned 50 last week and she said that's what she really wanted for her big 5-0.  (I rub it in that I'm a whole year younger!!!)

By the way, my BIL told me that the actual correct quote is "Eat your cake and have it, too," not the other way around. But who says that? 

4. What's something you do that makes you feel young? Something that makes you feel old?

What makes me feel young? Visiting friends from my youth or my kids' childhoods.

What makes me feel old?  Losing friends to illness, or seeing pictures of their kids who are as old as we were "back then".  In my mind, their kids should always stay the same age as when our kids were hanging out, right? You know, like 7 years old? 

5. When did you last do something that was 'a piece of cake'?

I have to give God a shout-out for this one.  I mowed the lawn.  Not a big deal to you? Let me explain why it was to me.

Last week I decided that I wanted to bless my road-weary/life-weary husband by mowing the lawn, and blessing my school-weary/soccer-weary son by doing the same. (It's a job they take turns doing.)  But ever since January, I have had this bad shoulder, which has improved with PT, but still, the thought of pulling that mower cable back--hard and fast--to start it? Well, that thought scared me. But I put my trust in God and said, "I believe that You will help me do this blessing, and I can handle a little pain with your grace."  Lo and behold, VROOM! I started that bad boy on the first try and it really didn't hurt! My hubby came home from Boston to a freshly mown front lawn.  

6.  Beef, wine, and cheese all improve with age. What's something else you'd add to that list? (not necessarily food or beverage) 

Um, you aren't talking about the beef I found at the back of the fridge, leftover from  the Carter Administration, are you?  

I think our appreciation of our health--mental, physical, and spiritual--improves with age. 
With every snap, crackle, and pop, actually.
7. If I were to have a giveaway when we hit Volume 200, what should I give away? By my calculations we'll hit Volume 200 on November 26th, the day before Thanksgiving, which means whoever wins would have whatever it is in time for Christmas.  

I know I'd said a planner (in your comment box) but the more of it, the more I realize I really don't use those things.  But I would use some pretty notecards, to-do list pads, that sort of thing.   I'm a sucker for pretty paper, especially monogrammed.  

Or a "hodgepodge" of stuff--after all, I like to EAT MY CAKE and HAVE IT TOO! and Have my Cake and Eat it , too! Yes, both.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Speaking of old, young, and pieces of cakes, my baby sister just had her 30-somethingth birthday a couple days ago, and HER baby (both pictured here) turned 1 in August. I just love this picture.  Those are such authentic expressions--my sister always smiling and her baby paying close attention to her.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ten-Word Answer Hodgepodge

Keeping this short today, September 10th, for your sake and mine. 
Just 10 words per answer. Can I do it? 

1. On Thursday we pause to remember a dark day in history-9/11. Will you mark it in some special way?

I'll discuss the 9/11 memorial that we visited in NYC.

2. Do you ever/still...listen to an actual radio? Watch a videotape (VCR)? Look up a number in a phonebook? Refer to a paper map while traveling? Set an alarm on an alarm clock as opposed to your phone?

Yes to radio and alarm clock. I prefer paper directions.

3.  Is it ever a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don't know?

Religion only if telling of Jesus' love. Politics? Slippery slope.
4. What's a dish you haven't eaten all summer, but come September find yourself craving? Have you made it yet this month?

Hadn't had Maryland crabs all summer. Finally satisfied craving Sunday!

5. What's something you know nothing about?

-what circumcision feels like
-keeping quiet with strong opinions

6. September is Classical Music Month. Do you like classical music? If so, what's your favorite piece?

I  ike it in limited doses. Favorite piece? Pachelbel's Canon. 
7. What's the oldest thing you own?

My grandpa's Baptist hymnal.  My father-in-law's yellow accordion.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Flying to Kansas in late September via Dallas. Wanna meet?

Thursday, September 04, 2014

A Boat + A Lake + Tubing = Fun

We took a vacation across many miles in August, and it was so worth it.  Just the three of us--my husband, my youngest son, and I.   My husband's oldest brother has a boat and he took us out to Brookville Lake in Indiana.

Tony drove the boat. Pat sat in the back and held her head down, hand on her bandana, not enjoying her maiden voyage on this new boat. The water was rough, the skies overcast, wind a bit whippy, and the temperature in the mid-70s.

Not ideal weather, but it was our only chance for the weekend we were there.

And my soul has been yearning for a boat ride on a lake for a few years.

(Gotta love boat hair.) 

Paul and Joel spent almost all their time tubing together on a huge 6 foot 8" tube.


What a fun father-son bonding time, hanging on for dear life.  Or just cruising along in the wake.

Meanwhile, Pat and I took turns worrying about all the people on jet skis.  And about whether Tony could see the boats in front of us when the bow of  our  boat was pointing skyward.

He could.
He assured  me this wasn't his first rodeo.
Or boating trip.

I guess my ideal boating trip includes maybe just three boats, the Coast Guard, and zero jet skis on a huge, placid lake.  Nonetheless, my soul eventually settled down while we made the memory that my son dubbed "the best day of the whole summer."  And, I think, mine as well.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

A Gymnast and God I Am NOT

What did I get for my birthday? Well, in addition to some lovely things and things yet to come,  I got a strained ligament behind my  left knee.

Or just a slightly painful feeling when I walk.

How did that happen? I thought you'd never ask.

It was just a case of me being me, I guess.

On my actual birthday, last Tuesday, I took my 26 year-old to his follow-up doctor's appointment at Hopkins hospital in Baltimore City because his wife had to work.  Three weeks ago he broke his leg playing paintball at a bachelor party (before drinking even began) and had surgery two weeks ago to put in screws and a plate.

He was on crutches, all six foot six inches of him.  FYI, the crutches weren't long enough, nor was the examining room bed,  but that's another blog post.

So I let him out in front of the Outpatient Center and then proceeded to find a parking space in the garage across the street.   I have a normal size SUV but the garage was built in the day of "compact cars" and we all know how that goes. As you pull into a spot, you inhale and hold your breath as if it'll shrink the ribs of your vehicle.  (It doesn't.)

After circling like a shark at a seal convention, I finally found a spot between a red beater Ford sedan and a late model green Toyota SUV.  I squeezed in (holding my breath) and made the choice to park closer to the passenger side of the red beater.

Then I opened my door.

Okay, Tight.  So I put my keys in purse and set my purse outside. Then I grabbed the bag containing my son's big ole XXL orthopedic boot and other stuff and set it outside my door in front of the purse.

Then I got myself out.   Sort of. Not really. I was stuck. I shimmied and scooted back in and thought I'll just have to back out and repark, that's all.  Well, good luck when you can't get to the keys in your purse.  And you can hear the phone ringing and can't get to that, either.  I'm coming, baby, just hold on!

So this is where the gymnastics began.  And I'm not a gymnast. I'm not even agile. Nor am I small.

My only escape was through the passenger side door.
Right leg  over the gear shift,
butt over the gear shift.
left leg over the gear shift.

 It sounds like three easy steps but there was a lot of swearing sweating involved. At last I made it out, snatched up  my purse and boot bag, and then went about rendezvousing with my son.

Fast forward past the painful part (not the least of which, for him, was my insistence on taking a mother-son birthday-at-the-hospital selfie) while waiting for the doctor.

After the 1.5 hour visit, I thought surely one of those vehicles would be gone and thus my re-entry fairly smooth.


So, once again, gymnastics time. I entered from the passenger door, and then used geometry, algebra, theology and Vaseline to get myself wedged back into the driver's seat.  Well, my butt managed to get into the seat, but my left leg was a different story.  The steering wheel had my leg folded in half, cutting off circulation. More swearing   sweating ensued.  I managed to reach the power seat lever and slide the seat back as far as it would go. Then my free leg had to be woken up before I could address my dangling right leg. Somehow I coaxed and pulled it into position, too.

At times like these, you realize there is a God and you're not Him.    And you realize that, honey, you are not even young anymore.  So my son is on crutches and I'm using   a cane.

Just kidding about the cane.

I'm in traction.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Back-to-School Birthday Hodgepodge

As a child, I sometimes lived in states where school started in mid- August, but I don't remember ever celebrating my  late August birthday in an elementary school class.  Cupcakes from home? Special banner on the front of my desk?  Or 25 kids singing "Happy Birthday" out of tune at the tops of their lungs? 

Nope. None of that stuff that teachers seem to do nowadays.  I  just don't think it was part of the school culture when I was a kid.  So last century! 

But when school started after Labor Day, my birthday was almost forgotten by everyone except family. Back-to-school hubbub trumped everyone's event calendar. 

Good thing I've put all that babyish self-centered nonsense behind me now that I'm an adult. 
Good thing I don't get excited about stretching my birthday from mid-August to Labor Day and beyond. Good thing I don't blog about it for three weeks in a row. 

Good thing  I don't rip open  all birthday cards like I'm ten. 
 You'd have thought so by the way I opened this one from Sally .

She made my day! A birthday card from a bloggy friend that came in the snail mail????? OVER THE TOP EXCITING!!!
Here it is!!! 

She wrote the sweetest message on the facing page. Please go say hello to her over at the 5 Henry's! She's a regular in these here HP parts and I'm so thrilled to connect . She's my West Coast alter ego. 

An-y-way.....all that to introduce THIS!!

1.  What's something you wanted to do this summer that you never got around to actually doing?  

Redecorating my master bedroom .  Just had other priorities including physical therapy for a shoulder that's hard to scrape faux finishes with. 
And yes, that was the worst sentence structure in grammatical history, but do I care?  Yes. Am I gonna rewrite it? No. It hurts my shoulder.

2. Share a favorite memory of your own back -to-school days as a child.

Clearly, it didn't involve celebrating my birthday at school. Did I mention that? 
I think it was the excitement of seeing who my new teacher was going to be and what students were in my class, where my desk was.    

When I became a teacher later in life, albeit a brief stint in actual classrooms, I looked forward to meeting new students--and seeing my new desk. (Hint: It was the biggest one. Yay!)

3.  What's one chore or daily task you prefer doing 'old-school' ?

In the school year (keeping with the theme) I enjoy taking my son (7th grade this year--i know, I can hardly believe it, either!)  to and from school.  I would miss that time (16 minutes each way) if he rode a bus.  This morning I prayed aloud in the car as I drove. I guess I was getting long-winded; when I was finished he said, "I thought you were going to start praying for John's dog's leg  and Susie's grandmother's knees."  
(You know, the prayer requests of kiddoes in Sunday School that take up the whole first half hour but we love that kids care so much about their neighbor's dog's leg?)

4.  Share something you've learned in life through the 'school of hard knocks'.

Want a list?   
I didn't think so. 
One thing?  That I am replaceable.

Or at least the things I do can be done by other people.

5.  As a child, did you mostly bring or buy your lunch for school? What was your favorite thing to find in your lunchbox?

Mostly brought it.  My favorite thing to find  in my lunchbox was a quarter. My mom always sent the most nutritious lunches (thanks, Mama) but almost never a sweet treat or junk food. I would take the quarter she meant for milk and buy an ice cream sandwich. (Hey, it was in the dairy food group.)

6. Football season is upon us which has me wondering... how big of a sports fan are you (not just football) ? On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being 'I scream at the players through my television screen' and 1 being 'is knitting a sport?' where do you fall in fandom? 

I'm a 5.  I can take it or leave it, unless the Ravens or Orioles are doing extremely well, but honestly, ever since Ray Lewis retired, I'm really not a big Ravens fan anymore, and I am not an informed O's fan either. 

I do prefer to have either a screen or some hand sewing in my lap no matter what I'm watching. 

7. Share a favorite quote you think might inspire students of all ages at the start of a new school year. 

"If you want to have friends, you must show thyself friendly and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother."  Prov. 18:24    

Two bits of wisdom in one small verse: 
       -Don't be shy and self-centered. Reach out and make others feel the way you wish they'd make you feel. Do it first. Everyone is just as nervous as you are, with just as many hang-ups. Get over yourself and be a good friend.
         -Jesus is that friend who sticks closer to you than any blood relative. 

8.   My friend Renee , the one with breast cancer, is in the hospital again, with blood clots in her arm and near her collarbone. Never a good thing, so please pray for her.  She has already lost her hair  (had it shaved) and also three of her  seven kids shaved theirs in support--including her eldest daughter who had long brunette hair.  Simply amazing love.   If Renee' is up to company tomorrow, I plan to visit her. If not, I'll see what I can do to ease her burden from afar (help homeschool for a day, 
take a meal, something).