November Twenty-eighth; Perfection Not Required

Today was my turn. My turn to help out in the nursery at church.

I love helping out in the nursery, taking care of the two and three year old kids so their folks can enjoy the service. I love those kids because they are so much fun and so creative. But first, I had to get there. I had to wash my hair, I had to decide what I was wearing, I had to get a move on. I have gotten out of the habit of doing things early. Oh, and if you read last night’s blog post, you saw where I had worked more on the inside decorations. Doing that meant moving things around. Try as I might this morning, I could not find my glasses. They are basically bifocal glass on top and readers on the bottom.  I wear contacts so I didn’t have to have them to drive, but Bible study is difficult when you can’t see up close. I carried a pair of regular readers with me just in case.


Those kids were such fun. Even though this morning there were only three that didn’t lessen the creative expression. We ate pretend food, we built with blocks, we taught and reminded of the concept of sharing. After an hour spending time with the children, I always walk away a little different. A little more uplifted, a little more inspired.


Looking out my window it looks as if it is going to rain. We need it, there is a fire burning on a mountain top here in North Carolina. Everything is so dry. If it doesn’t rain I may not wait for all the leaves to finish falling before I go out and mulch up what is covering the yard around the house.
I really need to get the rest of the decorations and lights in place. I also really need to get motivated.
I think that we deal with that a lot, the need to be motivated. Knowing there is something that needs  doing, something waiting to be accomplished, but there is zero desire. Whether it is physical exhaustion, lack of desire, not feeling the intellectual prompting to complete the activity. No matter what it may be. Its also really easy to come up with excuses. Don’t have the time. Don’t have the tools. Can’t do it alone. Don’t want to be made fun of because it may not turn out perfectly.

I believe that we use those same excuses to not share our faith. Fearful of doing it wrong. Fearful of the reactions. Fearful of speaking alone. While with every act, with every word we share. People see how we treat others. People hear how we talk to others and what we say. We don’t need to sound like Pastors or even scholars. We simply need to share what we know from our own life. Through our words yes but mostly through our actions. Through love for our neighbors.


As we are still in the month of recognizing our gratitude and thanks, I am grateful that I have avenues to share, a use for vocabulary to express my thoughts, neighbors to love. A God who loves me no matter how imperfect I may be.

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Day 331; Footnotes In Progress

Cat food. I was going for cat food.


Over two hundred dollars later, I have cat food, and dog food and people food and finally the clear plastic to cover the door to this room. I also have a bank account that took a serious hit. I will say though that the back of my car was nicely filled. What did my son say about this? That I need to start doing some heavy couponing. I will agree that I need to do something, but I doubt it is using a lot of coupons because I really don’t know that I can get enough coupons to make a difference.


My mother had asked me to look for some ice cream for dad as he was out. He wanted a container of chocolate-vanilla and thankfully, I found what he wanted. I got home, I put away all of my cold stuff and then carried the ice cream to dad.

Back home again, I finished putting things away and prepared a pot of coffee. I was going to rest a minute and then start working on decorating the house. When my phone started ringing. I began getting calls from unknown numbers. I don’t answer calls from numbers I don’t recognize. Then my son calls wanting to know if I’m home and why I wasn’t answering the phone. It was him, using coworker’s phones. I just asked him why he used other phones and he explained that they were using music from his phone playing through the radio at work. In the end, he needed me to bring him some stuff. So much for coffee.


I collected what he needed and headed out. I feared that the road I usually take would be crowded with holiday shoppers, so I took an alternate route. Taking a side road, crossed the main road and off onto a road that should have brought me up behind where he works. I obviously missed a turn. I’m talking to myself wondering where on earth I was going and where was I going to end up. I ended up taking the long way around and had to make another left- like any good NASCAR driver and then turn into the back lot to see my son crossing the lot from another part of the dealership. Delivering what he needed, we chatted a second and I was off and moving again.


Home again, again.. I saw the coffee was still kind of warm since I really wasn’t gone long. Turning the coffee pot back on I decided to go ahead and see what I could get done. I brought one box at a time inside and began emptying them carefully. My son came in as I was working and helped me carry the heaviest box inside. Before he got comfortable, I asked him to help me bring in some firewood. Once that was gathered, I returned to my decorating. After I got so far, I stopped long enough to prepare our evening meal. My son had said he was hungry and kept wandering through so I figured I’d better prepare something to keep him from gnawing on furniture or something.


Supper done, the kitchen cleaned up and the night winding down. I’m still not finished with my decorating. I still don’t have all of the lights up outside. But, slowly and surely, I’m getting it done. It would be easier without quite so many interruptions but once I do get it done in spite of the interruptions, I’ll feel that much better more proud of myself and accomplishments.

I hand painted this long before my son came along
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November Twenty-seventh Canine Companion

Bella


Before my husband passed away I had found someone with a German shepherd lab mix puppy for sale. My son and I drove across town to see the puppy and then bring her home. She was the last of the litter and also the runt. We brought her home on Mother’s Day. My husband wasn’t home when we found her, he was out driving that big truck somewhere cross country. When he got back he couldn’t understand why I would desire such a dog but I told him that I wanted her to go with me on my hikes and photographic quests. He shrugged and asked me what we had named her. Because I knew the reaction I would get I told him, Doctor Bella Pepper, because I always wanted a doctor in the family. Bella for short.


It didn’t take long before my husband fell in love with her as well. He tried his best to get her to like him more but that wasn’t happening. She loved him, but not quite as much.

Bella has proven her intelligence, love and dedication to family many times over. When she was six months old I took her for a hike at a nearby trail. Up until that point she had never growled at anyone. A man came up behind us and she immediately took a dislike for him and growled very low and very menacing. The guy hurried on and disappeared down the track. Where we were walking the track made a very large circle that at one point divided and went into the woods. There was a very high growth of briars at the dividing point. The same man suddenly appeared from the woods and again, Bella let him know in no uncertain terms he was not welcome. He left quickly.


She showed us that she loved us and car rides. Any excuse or opportunity, she was in the car and waiting. Even if the ride was only down to where my husband had that big truck parked. Even though I had thought that she wouldn’t get on the bed, my husband had her on the bed often, usually calling her up onto the bed just as I was drifting off to sleep and he knew I wouldn’t say anything.


Then, my husband died.

Bella watched for him to return but also seemed accepting that he wasn’t. She also became very attached to me. She was always very close to my side, following me around when she hadn’t done that before. If I sat down somewhere, she was by my side, if I was walking in the yard, she was on my heels. When I went to bed a night, she was on the bed. She would lie on my husband’s side of the bed for a while, then when I grew still, she would move down and curl up at the foot of the bed to sleep. She loves hiking and if she suspects that I am considering a hike up the local mountain she is standing beside where her leash hangs looking from me to it to the door. She’s very patient on the drive up right until we get almost to the parking area of just as I park. Then she becomes vocal wanting me to hurry. Did I mention her intelligence? On the hike up, she knows when to move out of the way, when to wait on other park goers or on me.


She is my guardian, letting anyone she isn’t comfortable with know to stay away. She’s also kept me safe simply by her presence. A big, black dog that some has thought to be a wolf. (I’m sure alcohol was involved there) She doesn’t like when I go up on the roof of the house, watching my every move from below.


She has as many facial expressions and emotional actions as a person. You can tell when she’s happy or feeling left out.


She’s a dog, but she’s more than that. I’m so very happy and thankful we found her way back then. I will never understand how people can abandon a dog. Once they have been in your family, they are family. Granted, not all dogs are super intelligent..Molly..our other dog is not as intelligent as Bella, she’s this big, goofy, insecure mess who a super big love bug. Each dog has their individual purpose and personality. They love and depend on their family. They do not understand when they have been dumped. They love us, how could we do such a thing? They aren’t just dogs, they are family.

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Day330; Footnotes of (Back) Up On the Rooftop, Don’t Fall Off

So much for total avoidance.


I was sitting here making a mental list of all the things I thought I would do today. I wanted to finish decorating the inside of the house and get the lights up outside. That meant I would have to go down to my folk’s place and get there extension ladder. I had that mental list of many things waiting to be done. Then…mom called. Mom needed to go to the big box store to get something for dad. As soon as my son had come in and had his lunch and left, so did mom and I. We weren’t gone long, but long enough to get an idea of what was coming traffic wise. It wasn’t pretty.


After we got home, I figured I might as well do the outside stuff. I went and got the ladder, which has gotten a lot heavier since the last time I carried it up here. I got it in place and then tossed my broom up on the roof. I checked each strand of lights that I was going to use on the roof/eaves area. Once I knew they were all good, I poured a cup of coffee in my travel mug and began the climb up onto the roof. This time I was very nervous for what ever reason. I think because my son wasn’t home and no one would know should I slip.


Once on the roof I began sweeping the new layer of leaves off and away. This won’t be the last time as the trees still aren’t bare. The wind blowing occasionally added another degree of difficulty. Sweeping the back part of the roof was easy as the wind was blowing the way I was sweeping. The front I had to wait for the wind to stop so as not to have the leaves blowing back into my face. As I swept, I noticed that my sweet dog Bella was watching me carefully. I know partly was her hope that I’d toss a stick down to her, but even when it was obvious no stick was coming, she watched every move she could.

After I had done all I was going to about the leaves I made ready to string the lights. Carefully. I carried the lights over to the edge of the roof and began slowly working my way across. Crawling, sliding, easing my way across as I am no fan of heights and even less of a fan of falling. Finally, I had the lights up all the way across. Everything else I dropped down into the bags that I had used to carry the lights up the ladder. Then, I grabbed my coffee cup and walked over to sit down on the roof and enjoy the view of looking into the woods behind the house. Just as I was relaxing I heard the dogs barking. Standing I looked to see a big delivery van coming down the dirt road. Oh…no. I had to get down and get down now. I just knew that van was bringing the replacement computer part my son had ordered. Just as I was hitting the ground the van was backing into my drive and my dogs were going insane. I managed to get them inside before the driver started walking toward the gate. I met him, thanked him and watched him leave as I entered the gate back into the yard. Deep, relieved, sigh. The last time something was being delivered I was up on the roof but my son was home. I neglected to tell him to get at least one of the dogs inside and before it was over, they were fighting. Can’t get the invader, trespasser, take it out on each other. Today, I prevented that.


I climbed back up onto the roof to get all of the stuff I had left in my hurry to get down. Once I was back down, I walked over and figured out how I was going to string the lights from where I had stopped. I strung them across the top of the carport entrance and around the corner, across the front of this room where the light strand ran out. Finding my drop cords I ran that over the tops of the windows and to the light fixture on the front porch. Testing what I had done, I saw that one of my lamps wasn’t lit up. These lamps are decorations from several years ago. They are designed light outside lamp posts. I had purchased twenty light strands and wrapped the lamps. I had replaced a strand on one lamp the other day, now I had another that had blown the entire strand. Swapped out, everything was now working.


I got nothing done inside. All of those plans. At least I got the lights that I needed the ladder for on the house. I’m hoping that I can get enough more of the lights working to wrap around the windows. Then get the lights for the bushes that ling my drive. I know at least most of those were working when I checked the other day.  If I get them all out, I’ll have to get my son to help me set the timer to get the lights along the drive to work on schedule.


Then, I have all of those boxes to move back to the building and out of the yard. And my decorations are nowhere near as elaborate as some folk’s yards. But I’ll do what I can and be happy with what I’ve done. Ladders, leaves and lights oh my.

Sitting here now, my back very unhappy with me, I still feel accomplished. I didn’t get everything done, but I got started and finished one part. What is the saying? A journey begins with the first step. I took a first step, I got part of the decorating done, I feel okay with that. Just as I feel okay with all the other little steps I’ve taken helping me accomplish the progress I have in other things.So I sit here tired, sore, but content. And the lights outside, look pretty good if I do say so myself.

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November Twenty-sixth; Thankful for The Things Waiting To Be Found

Day of madness..


Mom and I used to have a custom of going out shopping on Black Friday. I only recall one year when there was something she actually wanted to find. Usually, we simply went to get out and look around. We haven’t been the past few years for various reasons. Mainly it isn’t safe for her and I don’t want to put my mother at risk around people who aren’t paying attention and or don’t care. She needs to go out in a while, not for any sort of gift, but because dad is out of something he needs. I told her I would drive her. I need to find a chauffeur’s hat.


When we first started doing this, we would go slightly early. Not the camping out in the parking lot early or even join at the end of the line just before opening early. We always waited until the first mad rush had gotten inside. If we found anything, then we found it, if not, that was fine as well. There has only been one time that I went to crazy extremes for a gift. I had found out that a local big box was going to have a game system my son wanted. The hour they would be available was..early. I set my alarm for something like two in the morning, got dressed and slipped out of the house. I parked as close as possible to the door and made my way inside. I saw someone working there I knew and asked where the system would be. I was pointed in the right direction and took my place in line. I was in the second place. It didn’t take long before the line began growing and stretching back into the store. Even after a manager came out, counted those waiting. At one point he told them, sorry, this person is the last one we have a system for. No one left, they were determined and hopeful. Finally they began bringing out the systems. I got the one I went for and held it tightly as I quickly left. The sound of people wanting to buy it from me echoing in my ears. I have not tried or had to do anything like that since.


Now today, mom is waiting until after lunch to go. Waiting for the crazy to calm and for the day to warm up a bit. Waiting for me to give her a ride because traffic I know, is going to be insane. Finding a parking spot is not going to be all that easy either.


I wonder about our many searches in life.


As a youth, I sought friendship and fitting in. I found the friendship, but never felt as if I fit in. I did with the few, but not the many. As a young adult, I sought love. Instead I found everything but. Until I met my late husband. I still sought the fitting in that eluded me. As a wife, I sought being a mother. Only after giving up, did God bless me with a wonderful son.


As a widow, my search took many directions and paths. I had to find my balance, I had been cast adrift unprepared for the storm. Oh we had wills and life insurance, but it was the emotional balance and strength I had to find. I now had so many things I suddenly found myself having to handle. Thankfully I was able to find people around me who guided my steps and helped me along the way. Once all the formalities were done, it was as if I were standing on the edge of a precipice looking out into the unknown. Standing aboard a ship whose sails were tattered and torn while the winds buffeted the ship mercilessly. I had to find a safe harbor. It took family and friends bearing with me, listening and understanding. It took long walks, research and prayer. It took taking different routes at different times to find my way. 

As one among many who became unemployed I found myself once again on the hunt. I had to find ways to adjust and accept this new way of living. I had suddenly gone from seeming to live at work to not working at all. Not a paid position anyway. I had to fill those hours and seek a new balance.


 I had once upon a time, place the definition of who I was in my relationship with my husband and with my job. Now both were gone. I now had to decide how badly I wanted to discover the me that I may have never fully allowed myself to know. Who was I intellectually, spiritually, emotionally? What part did my creative side play in who I am? How could I discover all this and bring it all together? How did I rid myself of fear and stressful thinking? While I have made progress, I now understand this journey of discovery, is an ongoing, never ending journey. Every day as long as we search, we learn more and understand better. It all depends on how badly we want it, and to what extreme we will go to find answers.


I have found contentment. I have found that when issues arise where I am stressed or feeling alone, a long hike heals a hurting spirit. Getting out into nature and feeling the spirit of peace filling a heart running on empty. I have found that on days I can’t get away, I can sit and gaze out my windows, watching life in my back yard. Whether it is the cats, falling leaves or the sunlight playing across the ground. It is a nice dose of peacefulness.

 Have I found the fitting in? No. What I have found is that we are not fully meant to fit in. We are meant to be different, unique, special. Yes, we are meant to be a part of society around us, but in our own colorfully designed way. We each have our gifts to share and make life for all better. I have found, that when we lose some things, others are there to be found. Other gifts, lessons, adventures await.


 I have found that life is meant to be an adventure. Each new path offering opportunity to grow, to be better, to find ways to be the difference for those around us, making their journey better as well. If we seek. If we seek, we will find.

Life is an adventure waiting to be discovered. A joy to be had and treasured.
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November Twenty-fifth Plans and Recipe For a Good Day

A moment of lucidity.


I’ve been battling sleep and being sleepy all afternoon. One moment I’m watching a movie on television and the next I’m watching as the credits scroll up the screen. Currently The Wizard of Oz is finishing up and I’m somewhat awake and lucid. So I’m working on this during this moment of clarity.


Last night was one of those nights when I didn’t sleep all that well. Waking repeatedly during the night to dose back into sleep only to awaken again. Finally just before seven in the morning, I decided to go ahead and get up and get busy. Every big cooking holiday I miss my old range that had two ovens, but age finally ended its usefulness. When burners begin exploding, and they can’t be swapped out easily, its time to replace.


I preheated the oven and went to put the ham in, only to find that the rack was too high. Removing the one rack I got the ham in and the timer set. Item by item I made my way through what I was taking to the meal. And actually cleaning up as I went. My original list was three things, ham, potato salad, dressing. I ended up with those three, along with, stewed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and okra. Next year, Lord willing will be even more.


While I cooked, my nephew and his son got the building ready. Years ago dad had this big storage building constructed and its perfect for gathering meaning mom doesn’t have to overly worry about her house.

We had a wonderful time gathering down at dad’s building. We talked, we laughed, we watched the kids play. I don’t know if anyone bothered to take any photos which I wish I had, but I was enjoying talking with my family. As everyone began to make ready to leave, it was a joint clean up effort. I loaded my leftovers into the back of my car, carried part of mom’s stuff back to her house with the help of my sister-in-law and nephew. Our mess cleaned up and things put away, I drove my car back up to my house and began unloading everything. Once it was all inside I then walked back down to my folks to talk with my nephew who was still there. I want to share part of the firewood I have with mom and dad and he said he’d help move it down there tomorrow. He’s going hunting in the morning, I hope if its not too terribly cold to get out there and get the lights up on the house. We’ll see.


When I got back home, I put the leftovers I brought home away and cleaned up what few dishes were left to be washed and put away. Then, I made the mistake of coming in here and sitting down. That’s when the game of are we awake or asleep began.


Consider this though..holiday meals and life comparisons.


We begin, awakening to what we are facing. Whether it is cooking a big meal, preparing the area, or preparing for relocating to another place, a career move, a lifestyle move. Plans must be put into place and executed. Just as recipes have that list of ingredients, how they are blended and then cooked, life plans should be followed in similar fashion.


As we go about life, taking care of our plans, if we make sure we leave nothing undone behind us it makes what is ahead of us easier. We don’t have to look back and make sure we don’t need to step back and take care of something. Just as I worked to clean up the dishes as I went, I try to take care of the small things along the way for any events I create or take part in.

Being able to gather with family and friends is a wonderful moment. You get to take part in conversations, the give and take of ideas and plans. Though the things going on at the time make gathering more difficult, it isn’t impossible.


Then, there is the all important time of rest. We push and push working toward our goals. Whether it is a big meal, or a big move. To be able to sit down and allow your body to recuperate just feels good. Right now, I am sitting here in my warm home, a cup of hot tea at hand while both dogs are asleep nearby. I have no idea where the indoor cat may be lurking. It has been a day that has gone wide open from the moment after opening my eyes until I sat down after getting back home.

I’m thinking though, when I was cooking today, as I went to make the gravy, the first batch was horrible. It was this seriously, lumpy mess that I refused to even pour into a bowl. I carried the pan outside, dumped the mess and then went back inside to try again. I washed the pan out, dried it and then poured the broth into the pan. I slowly added the flour, salt and pepper and began stirring. This batch turned out much better. Just like with this gravy, sometimes, when we start something in life, our first attempt may not work, so don’t give up. Clean up the mess and try again. A masterpiece may be waiting.

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November Twenty-fifth May we Remember, Realize and be Grateful

And it has begun.


I wandered into the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. I have fed the cats and added wood to the wood stove. I’ll have to check and see if the fire built back up as the wood had burned down to hot coal by the time I got up. The furnace running in the cool house. The dogs are in no hurry to go outside into the thirty degree weather.

The ham is in the oven, as soon as I finish my first cup of coffee I will return to the kitchen to finish my part of the meal. There is dressing to bake and potato salad to prepare. That near forgotten okra to deep fry and a gravy boat to fill. I have talked with various family member through the week through various methods to make sure we have everything covered. Its been confusing, frustrating, amazing as we sought to make sure we have what we need.


I’ll say it, I am thankful, grateful, blessed.


I haven’t always been in this position. I have sat in a cold house, no heat, no hot water and little food. I have been miles away from family and friends I grew up with. I sit here now, and in these early morning, sun peeking over the trees moment, I can look back and see how far I have come. I can look back and see how those dark times, those storms and valleys prepared me for this life, this time. I can look back, and see with clear eyes and compassionate heart those who struggle.


While I am thankful for the things I have, my heart hurts for those who do not. As we spend this day being thankful, let us not forgot those who are lacking. As we push back the covers and leave our warm bed, in a warm, safe home, remember there are those who do not have that. As we prepare for the meal of choice today, whether home cooked or not, remember those who hunger and would be satisfied with something to fill a grumbling belly. As we gather with family, remember those who are alone.


As we are thankful for all we have, and I really do hope that we can stop and realize even if what we have is humble, it is more than many others. As we sit around a table over burdened with food, may we not be so self possessed that we forget. May we, as we offer thanks, make plans to also remember the least of these. The charities I mention are local to me, there are organizations all over designed and trying to help those who are in need. It is up to us to find them.

Support the organizations who are here to assist the struggling. Those who are escaping domestic abuse. https://www.kdmonline.org/

The many children who find themselves due to no fault of their own, in foster care: https://lotcarolinas.com/


The children and their families battling cancer: https://lovelikelauren.com/our-mission/ this is a local group, there is of course also: https://www.stjude.org/


There are those who are collecting winter wear for those, especially our children, who are in need. There are food banks who are in need. There are so many ways that we can help should we choose. Even if we have little, there are those with less. It is when we share from our limited resources that we receive the greatest blessings. https://biblehub.com/matthew/25-40.htm


There are those who will not be with family today. Those who will be out there for our safety and heaven forbid, get us to help should it be needed. The medical personnel working in the hospitals.  There are the truck drivers who are doing their best to get materials and goods delivered. There are those in the service to their/our country who are apart from family. When we give our thanks, may we remember them and be grateful.

My cup does runneth over. I know I am blessed in so many ways and I am thankful.
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Day 328; Footnotes On a Minor or Major Quest, in Search of Something

 “What are you doing today?” “Why, what do you need?”


And that set us off on another adventure. Just not immediately. My mother was still in need of a couple of things but she didn’t want to go out looking until it warmed up a bit. But, only if I needed to go out. After lunch, we headed out. We were going in search of the hard to find pecan pie and some kind of cooking spray that she wanted. Arriving at the big box store I grabbed a cart from the few that were waiting. It didn’t have that death wobble but it wasn’t going to be pushed easily. Mom found those single serving pies of the flavor she wanted, but after placing four in the cart, just on an off chance, we went around to where the larger pies were staged. The aisle was full so I left the buggy with mom and made my way to the freezer case of pies. And there they were, waiting for me to find them. Mom wanted two so two we got. Now she’s set for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The small pies went back. Now we had to find that cooking spray. I didn’t find the brand she wanted, but there was another that was basically the same, just with a different name. She was happy with that. Cookies, snack meals, a few drinks and another few things and she was done. I grabbed some cat food and a soda for my son, just so I had a reason to be there. As we were preparing to check out my son called. He was going to give me a hard time about being at the store when he also said a soda would be nice. Grabbing what he asked for, we checked out and headed for the car. Pulling out onto the boulevard I couldn’t help but notice how traffic was picking up badly. As I got close to the turn off for where my son works I knew there was no way I could just make the left I usually take. The traffic was bumper to bumper for as far back as I could see. Holiday traffic added to most likely an accident on the nearby interstate making it a mess. So I drove on up to the traffic light. A u-turn later I headed for the dealership where he works. Dropping off the soda I headed for home.


Now I sit here, contemplating the day’s events. It is somewhat amazing how life bounces along in a similar fashion.


We go off in search of something. Be it an item, a goal, a dream. We may not find the exact in detail something, but we find something close enough that we’re happy. We can take what we find, and make it into what we need and desire.


In the process of seeking one thing, we may find several other things that fit right in with our search. Adding them to the list and cart so as to make that quest more fulfilling and complete. One item, one accomplishment may be good, but add a few more and it gives the results more flavor, more excitement, more purpose.


There may even be times while we search, that we have to take that U-turn in our journey. Turn around, head back and find the results a few steps back. Knowing that even as things get in the way, block the path we would take, there is a way still yet. We need only to be willing to look ahead and double back to where we need be.


As it is right now, I have everything I need for my part of our Thanksgiving Dinner. Tomorrow we will gather and spend time as family. Another part of what we have been seeking, time as and with family. We have each gathered all we need to do our part. Tomorrow we will each prepare the dishes we are bringing. Tomorrow we will gather and talk, laugh and love. And yet, we will still be searching for something. We still will be taking the small steps, the u-turns, the gathering of one or more that bring us to where we wish to be, complete with everything that will make that possible.

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November Twenty-fourth Anniversary of the Unexpected

As I sit here on the eve of Thanksgiving Day,  I am going down the mental checklist of have I remembered everything? Knowing me, I really need to write that list down and check it more than twice just to make sure. It won’t do me a bit of good to start cooking tomorrow and be missing something. Be all that as it may, as I sat here, I was scrolling through the memories that showed up on my social media page. It is the anniversary of my retirement. My unexpected retirement.


For years, when ever someone would ask me when I planned on retiring I would make a comment along the lines of about thirty minutes before they bury me. After my husband died and I was still struggling to pay off what we owed, the comments remained the same. I wasn’t retiring any time soon. Maybe once I had things paid down to a more measurable level I could seek a less demanding job, but not until then. I had a love hate relationship with my job, but I also needed that job. I had bills to pay. The job was six minutes away from home, I had been there almost thirty years, I knew the job. It made it easier to take the difficult parts.


Never…say never.

Then, the pandemic.

Working a textile manufacturing job was tenuous at times the search for customers an ongoing challenge. Then the pandemic came along. Everything took a major hit. And by March, I found myself without a job. The extra unemployment money held me over as I waited for a call back that never came. One that I finally realized would never come. I had a decision to make.


Over the weeks that I had been home, my parents came to depend on me heavily. Especially my mother. I was her go for, I was her chauffeur, I was her confidant. She grew very accustomed to my being here for her. There are days when my phone rings repeatedly, calls from her that I know I am blessed to be able to take. My parents have some age on them, I have nothing but gratitude for their presence in my life.


I had used the time home to get a lot of things done that had been neglected. My yard and storage building became this amazing place once again. One that was welcoming and could be enjoyed without concern of what else may be lurking about.


As time passed, the unemployment eligibility was extended a couple of times. The extra money was also. I knew though that wouldn’t last forever and that since I did not have taxes taken out, I was in for a big tax bill to come. I had to make a decision and make it soon.


I could seek out a new job, but then I would not be here for my parents. Other family members live near, but they have their own responsibilities. They wouldn’t be here all the time like I pretty much am. I could seek out a part time job, but would I be able to earn enough? I was going to have to check into the retirement possibility. That meant making one of those phone calls that I so hate to make.


After all was said and done, I did take early retirement. I will draw off of mine until I reach full retirement age and then switch over to my late husband’s social security. Which, if we still have social security by that time, will be much more than what I’m drawing now. I simply have to wait two and a half more years.

Its been a year since that decision was made. Its been a year since the ‘ain’t happening’ happened. While I have commented often that dealing with the set, limited income is difficult, I’m not hurting or doing without. I’m constantly learning how to do better and make do with what I have. We don’t eat fancy, we rarely eat out and when we do it is always my son’s treat. I no longer buy things on a whim. That do I need this, or do I just want this question always asked before I put anything in my cart. Most often, the items don’t make it off the shelf. But the money thing, or any other difficulties, are overshadowed by the gifts.


There has also been the feelings of guilt. I’m doing something that my late husband had been talking about. He had planned on taking early retirement. He was going to do this, that and what ever else came along. We would travel and see the places that I dreamed of seeing. Now he’s gone and I’m retired. I’m not traveling much, only when my son says, ‘let’s go’ but that’s okay.

I have time to do things. I have time to get outside, to hike, to do yard or garden work. I have time for family. I can answer those calls and respond. I am getting and enjoying the gift of time with my parents that many don’t have. This has taught me much and especially a greater patience and deeper love. There is a peaceful contentment in the not working. The stress levels are pretty well not existent and schedules are mine for the making. I feel that I didn’t lose a job, I was gifted the opportunity to be here for this and for my family. The Good Lord knows what is going on and what the future holds. Whether it is a part time job, a lottery win, finally getting myself to a position where I can publish another book or that nothing changes and I’m still doing what I’m doing. The difference, I’ve learned to be content, accepting what is and watching for what might be.

Not the photo I was looking for but still one from back then..
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Day 327; Footnotes of Being Comfortable with Changed Decisions and Let the Decorating Begin

Deleted–canceled–closed.


I was told about a site called givesendgo. It is an alternative to gofundme. Christian created and maintained. You can set up fundraising accounts for just about anything, self included. So I thought why not? It might be a way that I could earn a few dollars that would help supplement my social security. Yesterday I set up an account. Today, I deleted-canceled-closed that account.


I have mentioned before that I am very technologically challenged. I’m learning, or at least I’m trying to learn, but I have a way to go. I did manage to get the givesendgo campaign created and set up. The financial, collect the money part, no.  Every time I thought I had it, something else would pop up that held errors or incomplete information. There were things that couldn’t be verified even though on the same page it said it was. I went to bed last night thinking I’d work on it today. Even as I was frustrated, worried and unsure if this was what I really wanted to do.


I did look at it briefly first thing this morning but logged out without doing anything at all. I still felt uncomfortable about the whole thing. It isn’t that I don’t trust the site, it is that this doesn’t feel right for me. It did and didn’t feel somewhat like internet panhandling. I felt as if I were taking matters into my own hands rather than trust in the Lord to take care of us. I felt…..greedy. As it is, we have what we need. Groceries in the house, gas in the cars and the clothing we need. It was those sudden extras that had me concerned. Even as they are getting paid, just not as quickly as I hoped. With that being the case, with needs being met, wanting more, seemed…wrong.


I thought about it, and decided that I would put up my Christmas tree and if there had been no donations I would delete the campaign. It was given extra time because my mother called me many times today. First for our usual morning call and then five or six times more. My dad also called asking if I were busy. I ended up during the day going down to walk their dog and also to help dad move some stuff from the back of his truck to his storage building. I then came home and put the tree up. Before I decorated it, I went to check the fundraising site. Nothing. I know that I hadn’t advertised it, but that was mainly because of the unverified parts. Still, with no donations, I decided this wasn’t meant to be so it was deleted-canceled-closed.


Once that was done, I went back to the tree. I brought the box holding the ornaments and lights for the tree inside and began checking everything. The lights for the tree, decided that they were done and the only place the were going was the trash. Checking what was outside, I brought a strand of colored lights in and wrapped the tree. I then used three small strands of white lights as well. Garlands of beads and then the ornaments. One step at a time, photo documents along the way. Once it was finished, I stood back considering how it looked. I’m satisfied with how it turned out.


I love seeing the lights and decorations for Christmas, just as I love watching the flames of a burning fire. There just seems to be something magical. There is a nostalgic feeling that comes as well as the love and peace. I didn’t decorate anything else, nothing else was set out..yet. My son walked in and made a comment on my using both color and white lights but also wondered if I wasn’t a bit early. Someone else asked the same thing, wasn’t it a bit early? Just a day or two as usually I put the tree up and the decorations out after dinner on Thanksgiving.


Sitting here now, the dogs are inside, the official cat probably in my son’s room while the outside cats are playing in the leaves out back. I can hear them as they run about, glad that they have access to under the house and warmth. There is a fire burning in the wood stove and hot coffee in my cup. My son has eaten and all is well. I know, we are blessed. Even as I consider that fund raising site, I’m glad I closed that down. I believe it is the same reason I won’t upgrade to a paid site to where I could have that donation button. its the same reason I won’t ask for help from friends. I’m not comfortable doing that, it simply doesn’t feel right. Maybe if I were producing material that I felt was beneficial and helpful for others I would feel differently. Maybe if I were in a more dire position, I would feel differently. But I don’t want to act rashly and improperly. I don’t want to ask, for the wrong reasons. https://www.biblehub.com/james/4-3.htm 

I have what I need. I am learning to be content with having the necessities. The extras are not as important. The extras are materialistic clutter. I do wish that I could do more to help others, but I believe that will come when the time is right and proper. In the meantime, I do believe that I was right when I changed my mind and made the move to delete-cancel-close. God has made sure we have the essential, He will also provide and gift us with anything extra.

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