A Quote to Remember

November 28, 2007

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This is a quote from Rick Warren, the author of “The Purpose Driven Life.”  I think it speaks for itself:

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.

Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.

Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.

Painful moments, TRUST GOD.

Every moment, THANK GOD.

All I can say is, Amen 


I Didn’t Inherit the Ironing Gene!

November 27, 2007

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Mama was a wonderful “ironer.”  When Mama ironed a shirt, it was PERFECT when she finished.  She had a system for exactly how she ironed one every time:  collar first (underside and THEN top), then sleeves, both sides of the front and finally the back.   Dress shirts were starched before they were hung out to dry by soaking them in a pan of starch on the stove (longer the “soaked,” more the “starched”).  There was no spray starch, of course, and there were no steam irons.  So a sprinkling bottle was used to sprinkle the clothes to be ironed after they were taken off the clothes line, and was also used during the ironing process if more dampness was required. 

When Mama took the clothes off of the clothes line on laundry day (By the way, in my opinion, NOTHING is better than sleeping on sheets that have dried in the sun — the smell is incredible.), she brought the basket into the house and sorted out the clothes that would be ironed, which was pretty much everything but underwear and socks.  She then sprinkled the to-be-ironed items with water from the sprinkling bottle (for many years the one she used was one I had made for her in Blue Birds that was a Coke bottle covered in festively-colored papier-mache).  After they were all sprinkled, and each item was rolled, she stacked them on a shelf in the refrigerator (they looked a little like a stack of logs) to await ironing day, which was always the next day. 

On ironing day, Mama would spend hours standing at the ironing board, ironing just about everything we wore.  But, this wasn’t just idle time as I remember it, at least when I was a pre-schooler.  Mama was a great story teller. So, as she ironed, she would tell me stories about when she was a little girl, and bible stories and fairy tales, and she would sing to me and teach me the words to the songs, and she would teach me words to nursery rhymes and poems.  I will always remember the opening line of one of her favorite poems, said in a “dialect,” but I have no idea which one — maybe German? :

“I haaav von fauny ettle poy.  ‘is name is Yokub Strouse.  He vuns ‘n jumps ‘n smatters t’ings all o’r my nice clean ‘ouse.”

And, one memorable day, she taught me to snap my gum!  When I think back, that is pretty amazing because Mama was lady-like, and I don’t honestly remember ever hearing her do anything as crass as snap her gum.  In fact, I really don’t have any memory of her CHEWING gum.  But I do remember when she gave me gum, it was either the tiny pieces of Dentine, or just a part of a stick of Juicy Fruit, so I guess in tiny little amounts like that, you can have a piece of gum in your mouth and it’s not obvious.  Anyway, I’m guessing that that quick little lesson may have been a momentary lapse in her normally good judgment, and she may have rued the day she taught me that annoying habit.   (I swear, to this day, I can type my fastest, while chewing gum and snapping it.  It somehow helps my typing rhythm!)  

Now, reality check, because Mama didn’t mind ironing, in fact ENJOYED ironing, that meant that I NEVER had to iron when I lived at home.  So, although she did our laundry for the first two years Hubby and I were married, I DID have to learn to iron, but, thank goodness, clothes had already started to get more wrinkle-free, notably the polyesters in the ’70’s, so I never did have to do much ironing.  It pretty quickly diminished to doing just a dress shirt for Hubby to wear to church on Sunday, with other especially wrinkled items only done as needed.

For a few years after high school, (until we had small children to take up all our time) a group of my friends and I would get together once a month for an evening.  I remember when we were all newly marrieds, at one of these get-togethers, the subject turned to ironing.  Our friend, Joanne (who I always thought of as a perfectionist, and this confirmed it) said she ironed everything she and her new Hubby wore — including underwear!  I may not have been a great ironer, but I was always pretty good with a wise crack, so I said, “Really!  My hubby presses his OWN underwear. . .”  I allowed a brief pause for comedic effect, as they all looked at me in disbelief (they KNEW Hubby, and couldn’t picture him pressing ANYTHING), and then I continued,  “. . .every time he sits down.”  While I was joking, Joanne assured us she wasn’t.  I never looked at her husband in quite the same way again — knowing he was wearing boxers with creases pressed in them.

Gunny has a story from his childhood that he likes to tell about me and ironing.  On a Sunday morning as we were getting ready to leave for church, I noticed that the little tie he was wearing (that his Daddy had tied for him) with his little dress shirt “just like his Daddy’s,” had some wrinkles.  So, because we were in a hurry, I told him to come into the laundry room and I would run a quick iron over his tie, without him taking it off.  He was just tall enough that his necktie was right at ironing board level, so I plugged in the iron, told him to lay his tie on the board and I quickly ran the iron over the tie.  Unfortunately, little Gunny had laid his little fingers on the edge of the ironing board too, and I hadn’t noticed, so I did run INTO some of his little fingers, but I didn’t iron OVER them as he likes to tell the story. 

Because Gunny was a Marine for 20 years, I KNOW he knows how to iron, and he is usually well groomed, but one Saturday morning when Hubby and I were on our yearly visit to the town where Gunny and his family lived, he showed up at our beach condo in a verry wrinkled t-shirt and shorts.  I guess he could tell that I had noticed, so, he casually commented that something strange had happened a few minutes ago.  He said he had actually very carefully pressed his clothes before he left the house, but that a “wrinkle bomb” had gone off in his pocket on the way over.

And, finally, Hubby likes to tell people that when he started wearing a dress shirt to work every day that, of course,  had to be ironed, I would always iron them one. at. a . time. — on an as-needed basis.  Actually, he swears that I would wait to see if he got up in the morning, before I ironed a shirt, because if he died, I didn’t want to have ironed a shirt unnecessarily!   

We finally solved the problem of his ironed shirts soon after he started working in a job where he wore a dress shirt and tie to work every day, thus needing 6 or 7 pressed shirts a week.  I think we both realized very quickly that that was wayyyy more ironing than I was capable of — and still be a happy person.  So, we started sending his shirts to the laundry about 20 years ago, and that has always been money well spent.  It was a win/win — he had nicely pressed shirts, and I wasn’t “grumpy ironer.”

So, I didn’t inherit Mama’s wonderful ability to iron (or LOVE of ironing) — but I did inherit some wonderful memories of the stories, songs and poems that Mama taught me while SHE ironed! 

Thank you God, for the wonderful memories that blogging has encouraged me to remember.  May my memories cause those who read this, to recall similar fond memories of their own that they may not have thought about for a long time.   


Dear Santa, Here’s What I Really Need for Christmas!

November 24, 2007

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Readers, I want something for Christmas that I would guess none of you have on your list, but once I tell you why, you may just want to think about ADDING  it.  I want a dictaphone.

For those of you who don’t know, a dictaphone is a a piece of equipment that has been in offices for years and years. (I’m sure there’s a newer version around some offices still today.)  With the ones I remember, the boss dictated into the microphone of a dictaphone that was on his desk, and then he gave his secretary the machine’s tape and

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she put it into a machine on HER desk and, using ear phones and a foot pedal (so that she could stop, start and back up the tape as she typed), she would type the letter for the bosses’ signature.  I didn’t have alot of experience with one when I was a secretary, but, I think I now have a use for a dictaphone that could make it a valuable addition to my life.

So, right after you thought “What the heck is a dictaphone?”  Did you then think, “Why the heck does she think she NEEDS a dictaphone?” 

Welll, here’s why.  Since I have started doing this blog, I am always looking for topics.  Although I already do have a list written down, I always feel better if that list is growing rather than getting shorter.  My reasoning for that is that you can never tell when you will be struck with permanent writer’s block, so you’d better be collecting all the ideas you can before the “well runs dry.” 

As it turns out, apparently my mind works on this project while I am asleep (Why not?  We’ve already established that my memory runs out of my ears when I lay down to sleep at night, so logically, that means THAT’S the time when there is plenty of room for ideas for blogs to rush to the front and be recognized!). 

Many times I will wake up during the night with a near brilliant idea for a blog.  And, many times, when I wake up in the morning, I REMEMBER that I had a near brilliant idea during the night, I just can’t remember WHAT IT WAS.  Rats.  I hate it when a near brilliant idea gets away — maybe never to be seen again.  So, during the two plus months I’ve been blogging, I’ve mulled over what I can do to “capture” these elusive topics. 

I’ve heard of people who keep a pad of paper on their bedside table, and when they wake up during the night thinking of something they want to remember, they write it down.  That sounds great in theory, but I would think in practice, the whole process of raising up on an elbow, prying your puffy eyelids open, turning on the light, locating the pen, writing the idea down (without benefit of glasses or contacts), and then making a trip to the bathroom (because, of course, if you’re already awake, you might as well go), would realllly be disruptive to a good night’s sleep.

So, my great idea is to put a dictaphone on my bedside table, with the microphone under my pillow.  Then when I have one of my “Einstein moments” during the night, I can  just wake up enough to push the button on the microphone and mumble a few key words into it and then go right back to sleep.  I don’t want to toot my own horn tooooo much here, but I think it takes a pretttttty keen intellect to be able to match up a piece of office equipment and sleepy ideas for blogs in this unique way. 

There are only a couple of “issues” I need to work out before my dictaphone arrives via sleigh.

First, I think I will have to devise a way to warn Hubby that I am about to talk into my pillow, so that he won’t be startled by a sudden pillow-muffled, low, raspy voice, mumbling disjointed words in the dark of night.

For this signal, I can’t use squeezing his ear lobe between two fingers — that’s already taken.  That’s what I have told him I will do if I ever hear someone in the house and don’t want to speak out loud, for fear of us being killed.  (If you are thinking, “The man is a Saint to put up with this nut job!” He would say, “Amen,”  and then he would smile.) And, since I haven’t indicated which ear lobe that signal is connected with, I don’t suppose it’s practical to just tell him THIS signal will be the OTHER ear lobe.  That might be too confusing, for a person to remember when suddenly awakened.  This is definitely one wrinkle I’ll have to work out.

Also, how will the words I mumble into my dictaphone be “translated?”  Wellll, I COULD do it, but, you know I”M RETIRED, so, I think Hubby should hire me a secretary to type up my ideas.  Having been a secretary, I can absolutely tell you that there have been times I have typed letters that COULD have been dictated into a pillow in the middle of the night (sometimes by someone who had also drank heavily)!

One shocking idea that Hubby put forth when I read this to him, is that maybe the ideas I think are “near brilliant” in the middle of the night, might actually, in the light of day, be pretty mundane.  (You can see why I’M not rushing to give him that “Saint” label.)

So, Santa, please send me a dictaphone, and I’ll work out the rest.    Thanking you in advance for your prompt attention to my request (one of my favorite “business-esque” phrases).  I’ll make sure the usual cookies will be waiting for you — Hubby’s favorite kind — chocolate chip.


Another Day at Blog Fodder Central (the Gym)

November 21, 2007

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When Hubby and I went to the gym this morning, there was an unusually large number of people there.  I think many of them may have been motivated (like us) by invisioning all the calories they are probably going to consume tomorrow, and may have decided to put some exercise “in the bank” ahead of time to balance out some of those anticipated calories.

At the gym, the machines (weight machines, tread mills, elliptical trainers, etc.) are in the middle of the gym, and the track runs around the outside.  So, while you are on the machines, it’s very easy to watch the people walking around the track, and since I am an ardent people watcher, I enjoy doing just that.  Some of what is interesting is the difference in attitudes.  Some people look HAPPY to be there.  They speak to anyone who makes eye contact, and are always ready for a little bit of conversation, and there is sometimes even a little perkiness in their step.  Then, there are some, who I can only guess are there because their doctor threatened them, because they do not look like they are happy to be there.  It sometimes looks like these folks are having to drag themselves around the track.  I feel sorry for them, because exercise is never easy, but it is sooo much easier if you can muster up (or even fake) a positive attitude.

Because I am a social animal, I have little conversations with different people regularly, but, hey, to me that just makes the time go faster — and it’s interesting!

So, when I was adjusting the handles on the Nu-Step (like a stationary bike, but your legs are out in front of you) this morning, I remarked to the woman on the Nu-Step next to me that, “Thank God for the saying ‘Lefty Loosy, Righty Tighty’ or I would NEVER be able to remember which way I was supposed to loosen a screw.”  That led to her and I having a discussion about all the sayings that our mothers taught us that still help us to remember important things like, “Thirty days hath September . . .” for how many days are in each month, and, “i before e, except after c” for spelling, and the alphabet song, to remember the order of the letters in the alphabet.  Thank God, Mama’s everywhere took the time to teach us those little tricks!

Somehow her and I then got on the topic of handwritten notes — a favorite subject of mine, and how they are not done nearly as often now, probably because it is so easy to communicate on the computer.  She told me that her husband is a professional calligrapher — and that sometimes he uses his calligraphy when he writes someone a note.  That’s pretty impressive.  If I rec… (i before e, except after c) … receive any handwritten note, it is a really big deal — I can’t imagine what a treat it must be to receive one done in calligraphy!  Nice lady — nice chat.  My 20 minutes on that machine just flew.

When I was doing the weight machines, I saw a man who we have known for a long time.  We hadn’t seen he and his wife for years, but see them frequently now that we belong to the same gym.  They live in the same rural area of the county we lived in for many years, go to a neighboring Lutheran church out that way, and their daughter played sports for THEIR Lutheran grade school, against DD when she played for OUR Lutheran grade school.  (We got to know ALOT of people during the years DD played sports [from grade school through college] because we spent many hours in gyms watching games and developing what we were sure was “terminal bleacher butt,” and getting to know other parents.)  Anyway, he said, “Did you celebrate a birthday in your family yesterday?”  He caught me off guard for a second — then I realized he was talking about DD’s birthday, which WAS yesterday, and then I remembered why HE would remember that.  His wife and I were in rooms next to each other when I had DD — and their daughter was born on the same day.   An interesting link that will always be there between our two families.

Well, by this time, we had completed our workout, and it had gone realllly fast for me!  And, of course, that’s because I had been able to do some “people watching” followed by some “chatting,” topped off with some “reminiscing” — with some exercise and sweat mixed in.  

And then came the topper.  As we were walking out, I SAW THE WOMAN WHO WORE THE “ANGEL” SWEATS AND SHE SMILED AT ME AND SAID HI!    She has never been friendly before.  Hmmmm.  Makes me wonder.  Do you suppose she KNOWS WHAT I SAID ON MY BLOG ABOUT HER “G” DISAPPEARING INTO AN EXERCISE-INDUCED WEDGIE!!  And, she thinks it’s funny too!!!???

Naaahh, too much to hope for.  But, if she keeps being friendly, I may just have to walk up to her sometime and hand her a piece of paper with my blog address on it and just whisper to her, “You may want to read this, before you wear those ANGEL sweats again.”

What a fun place to go — and it’s good for us too!  (By the way, I’m pretty sure it’s not nearrrrly as much fun for Hubby, because he concentrates on — WORKING OUT!  What is HE thinking”)

If you haven’t already, may you find ways to make YOUR exercise fun.


A Wonderful Prayer for Thanksgiving

November 20, 2007

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I received this prayer on the internet today, and it is one that speaks to my heart, so I wanted to share it:

Heavenly Father, Help us to remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.
 
Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, seemingly disinterested young man who can’t make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.
 
Remind us, Lord, that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day, is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares .
 
 And, help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.
 
 Heavenly Father, remind us each day that, of all the gifts you give us, the greatest gift is love. And, that it is not enough to share that love with just those we hold dear. Please open our hearts not to just those who are close to us, but to all humanity.

Help us to be slow to judge and quick to forgive, showing patience, empathy and love.

In Jesus name we pray, Amen


Can You Help Sell A House?

November 19, 2007

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I received an e-mail from our Daughter-In-Law yesterday, asking for new ideas that she can use to help sell their house in Charlotte. 

So, I’m asking any of you who have had, or have heard of, success at selling a house in this awful market — do you have any tips for getting a house sold?

Gunny has already been with his new job, half-way across the country, for over a year, but she and their kids couldn’t make the move until she had fulfilled a one year commitment in her current location, and then found a job with her company (Lenscrafter) in the area of Gunny’s new job.  Well, now she has a job waiting for her (God bless the manager of that Lenscrafter region for realizing what a good manager she is and HOLDING the job for her), but their house in Charlotte has been on the market for over two months now and just is not moving!

When DIL asked the realtors (a two-woman team, who she does feel are doing everything they can) if the price should be lowered, they told her, no.  That it wasn’t because the price was too high, it was just that NOTHING was selling in that area right now.

Here are the things DIL is already doing:

– There will be open houses this weekend and next (Yes, Thanksgiving weekend.  The realtors say that a surprising number of people look for houses then because, especially if they are from out-of-town,  it gives them a four-day weekend to look.)

– One of the women who currently works for her in Charlotte just moved from California and told her that a trick used there is to offer a cash bonus directly to whatever realtor makes the sale — usually a set amount — like $1,000.  But, after DIL and Gunny discussed this idea, they decided to offer a percentage, to motivate a selling realtor to get the best price they could.  They are offering a half of a percent, which would be $1,700, if they sold it for the price they are asking.  Well worth it, if it motivates the realtors to “dig up” a buyer!

So, DIL is doing everything she can to get this house sold, but nothing has happened yet.  She says the hard part is that they aren’t even getting very many “looks.”  It is a great house, so it isn’t as if lots of people are seeing it and then saying, “No I don’t want to live there.”  It’s just that no one is looking. 

Sooo, do you have any ideas?  If you do, please put them in the comments section of this post — DIL will read them there.

And, by the way, if you have an “open slot” in your “things to pray for list” today, please join us in praying for this house to sell, so that Gunny and DIL’s family can get back together! 

Gunny says he gets the question alot, “How does your family handle being separated for all this time?”  He says his reply is, “Welll, because we are a military family, we have experienced lots of separations in our married life.  So, we are better prepared for this than most families would be — but it’s still hard.”  So, the family is doing well, relationship-wise — but they would certainly like to  all be living in the same town again!

Dear Heavenly Father, Please help them sell this house, but keep them ever mindful that YOU have a plan working in their lives, even when they can’t see it.  And, help us all to remember “All things work to the good for those who know and Love God.”  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen

Update:  This post was written in November, 2007.  The house finally sold in August, 2009.  We are so thankful.  And actually Gunny and Dilly now say that the time they spent in a very small apartment with two teenagers and two Great Dane dogs was a valuable learning experience for  all of them.  All things work to the good for those who know and love God. Romans 8:28


“Things” For Which I’m Thankful

November 18, 2007
 

Liberty Designer Bath Hardware - Satria Toilet Paper Holder in Polished Chr...

Yesterday I talked about getting rid of “things,” but there are SOME “things” that I feel especially make my (our) life easier, and I’m glad to count them among our “valuables:”

1.  A few years ago, a friend told me about a Hot Shot, which looks a little like a very small coffee maker, without the carafe.  Since then, I have given many of them as gifts, and would never be without one myself.  They are only about $20, are made by Sunbeam, and are for the sole purpose of boiling 2 cups of water in less than a minute.  Wonderful for making instant cereal, hot tea and cocoa.  In the time we have had this nifty little device, I can only remember one time that I had to get out the big electric teapot because I needed more than 2 cups of boiling water.  But in most cases, 2 cups is enough for whatever we want to do.  An absolutely GREAT invention.

2.  When we moved into this house four years ago, we did lots of remodeling, and one of the changes we made was to replace the toilet paper holders with the new kind that you just slip the roll of paper on and off, without having to dis-assemble the whole thing.  This is especially nice because now Hubby doesn’t even mind putting a new roll on.  And, it’s simple enough even grandchildren can do it.  Hooray!

3.  For the twenty years we lived in the farm house, we had a detached garage.  It was only about 15 feet from the house, but when you are carrying groceries in from the car, and it’s raining like a son-of-a-gun, or it’s 20 below and blowing snow, with no sign of a let-up, that is a looong way to go!  In the four years we have lived here, I have never gotten over the thankfulness I feel when I drive home in bad weather and can pull into the garage, shut the garage door before I even get out of the car, and then carry whatever I have into the house at my leisure.  Wonderful!

3.  The TV in our bedroom that has built-in video and DVD players.  We had a small TV in the kitchen at the farm house that had video built-in, so I specifically lobbied for this one when we moved here, and it works out so well for me.  I have never been very good at the technology of using a VCR (who am I kidding — at ANY technology).  Anyway, the TV’s that have this stuff built in are so simple to use that even I can do it!  I love it, when I am getting sleepy, but don’t want to miss the end of something and can just press a button (I keep a tape in the VCR all the time) to record the rest, then turn off the TV and go to bed.  Knowing that tomorrow I can sit down anytime and find out “who done it.”

4.  City water and sewers!  On the farm, many a tense moment (always, it seemed, at the most inopportune times, like Christmas Eve!) occurred when the plumbing would stop working and we would have to call the wonderful guys at Golden Rule Septic Service to come “fix” it.  They were a black father/son team who were wonderful to deal with, and never told us they couldn’t come, even when it was on a holiday — they really did live up to the name of their company.  And, regarding well water — wellll, that’s about all I can say for it — it’s water.  It had a mineral taste to it, so we helped keep the local bottled water dealer in business by buying all of our drinking water from him.  I will always be thankful to be able to turn on a faucet, and drink the water out of it.  Also, no mineral residue in the fixtures.  Awesome.

5.  Computers.  They have changed our lives in sooo many ways — most of them good.  Again, the technology is beyond me, but as long as ours is humming along, it is a marvel that I am continually amazed by, and enjoy.  It definitely has expanded our world.

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for all the blessings in our lives — and keep us ever mindful that they are all gifts from you.  In Jesus name I pray, Amen