I’ve mentioned previously that here in my late fifties, I’m finding that my experience of time seems to expand and contract like elastic. In some ways time is going way too fast, and in other ways what seems to be short is actually quite long.

Our fridge light has been on the fritz for several weeks. Initially it blinked intermittently – a truly obnoxious situation when one is bent down, peering in, and trying to figure out what needs to be used up first. For a while I tried to ignore the problem, but eventually I decided that the bulb must be about to burn out and I should just go ahead and replace it, for crying out loud. I put “appliance bulb” on the Walmart list, but the day before that shopping spree, I happened to look in the dishwasher and, SURPRISE! I already HAD a spare appliance bulb. Wowza! One point for the homemaker who at some point in the past had planned ahead.

I unscrewed the old defective bulb, screwed the new one in, and… it did the exact same thing. Ugh. The bulb was clearly not the problem, so I figured I’d save the new one; I just put the old one back in. Then after a few more days of intermittent blinking, it started just not coming on at all. This exasperated me, but I thought to myself, “I really shouldn’t be so frustrated about this. I mean, we have a great fridge. We have lots of food. Am I really justified in complaining because the fridge doesn’t automatically light up (and stay lit up) when I open the door? How ‘entitled’ is that?!?” 

I asked Scott to look into it (no pun intended), and he did all same the things I had done with the same results, so we just lived with the strobe effect for a few more days. Until the day I discovered that our treasured and much-enjoyed pineapple dip had turned blue, buried back in the fridge where we never saw it because it was too dark in there. After a moment of appropriate and respectful sadness, I threw out the dip and told Scott that it might be time for us to suck it up and actually pay Mintex a service call to come fix the silly thing, before something even more important succumbed in the darkness. Following which comment he said in a questioning tone, “We shouldn’t be having a problem with it. It’s a new fridge. We haven’t had it very long. Maybe three or four years.”

To which I replied, joking, “It’s probably closer to ten years! Hey, look on the side.”

When we bought the fridge, we had taped some paperwork about it, maybe warranty information(?), to the left (far) side, the side you can only see when you come up the cellar stairs or walk out of the pantry. Scott studied the left side of the fridge and eventually said, “Hmm.”

“Hmm?!? What does ‘hmm’ mean?”

“It says here we bought it on April 26… 2010”


Timeanddate.com tells me that was 9 years, 5 months, and 18 days ago!

Scott did do something to the light – screwed the bulb in more firmly? – and now it’s working perfectly, but our “new” fridge is getting pretty close to ten years old!


Our A and B getaway, continued

I’m so determined to get this written relatively quickly because I’ve learned that if I don’t write about a trip within about a week, the chances of me remembering what I wanted to say and making time to say it just get slimmer and slimmer.

We knew rain was expected on Sunday when we’d be leaving Gracie’s Place Cottage and driving home. The idea of driving some two and-a-half to three hours on curvy country roads in the rain didn’t sound all that fun, so we were strongly motivated to enjoy as much other outdoor stuff as we could on Saturday.

We’d conquered two town squares so far, and Scott – Scott?!?! – suggested that since we were already in Izard County, well, at least 1/4 mile into it, we could drive over to the county seat of Melbourne and snag another one while we were in the area. I’m always game for a scenic rural drive that might involve a town square, so we did it. Now, I must warn my fellow travelers that there is truly nothing on the stretch of Highway 9 between Allison and Melbourne. No towns, no traffic, no billboards, and almost no houses; just a winding, scenic, two-lane road that can’t be traversed at an average speed above 40 mph. In fact, there was literally only one section of about half a mile that had a dotted yellow line. ALL the rest was double-lined, and the 19.6-mile drive to Melbourne took the better part of an hour.

As we finally came out of the woods and approached the town, we saw a yard sale.

Since I began intentionally decluttering my life a few years ago, I have been practicing avoiding yard sales (book sales are another matter), and I believe I have mastered the skill. There was a day, especially when the kids were young, that I would occasionally stop at one and  actually find good deals on things we really needed and used – along with an array of junk – but I am not in that season of life now. Now my goal is to get rid of something every day, not to bring more in! So the yard sale on the edge of town did not tempt me at all. We saw another one less than a mile farther along; it was obviously a clear, sunny, Saturday morning in Small Town, RA (Rural America).

As we drove around looking for the center of town, we came to a stoplight, and at that intersection there happened to be two yard sales in the parking lots of two businesses on diagonal corners. Melbourne-ites clearly had their pick of yard sales that day! But little did I know.

Thanks to my diuretic, I needed to go to the bathroom, and as My Faithful Chauffeur tooled along the main drag, I was looking for anything akin to a McDonald’s (they always have great bathrooms, but unfortunately Melbourne is McD-less) or even a gas station with a convenience store. We did see one of those, but it looked pretty seedy, so we continued on, and as we did, amazingly, it seemed like there were yard sales in EVERY parking lot in town! I mean on every corner and in between every corner! In steadily increasing urinary desperation, I told Scott to pull into Dollar General; at that point, any bathroom would do. Several people were waiting in line at the check-out counter, and when I asked the lone and very busy clerk if they had a public restroom, he just nodded, pointed, and quickly handed me a purple plastic ruler with a key on it. I found the restroom and when leaving it, as instructed, re-locked the door. As I returned the key to the clerk, I thanked him and then commented in general to the folks still in line, “There sure are a lot of yard sales in this town. Do y’all do this all the time?”

One lady said, “Yep. Every year. The first weekend in October and the first weekend in April.”

“Wow!” I replied. “We’ve never seen anything like it!”

And as we continued our search for Ozarka College (quite small but seemingly adequate) and the town square (here’s the Izard County courthouse)…

…we counted yard sales. Get this: we verified – in this small, remote town of 1813 people – at least 32 (thirty-two!) yard sales on one Saturday morning. That was truly amazing, and I’m guessing that since the total population of Izard County is only 13,686, with Melbourne being the largest city in the county, the whole county must come in to Melbourne twice a year for its yard sales.

As we drove back “home” to Allison along Highway 9, looking for a nice spot to stop and have lunch, we pulled off at a sign for a historical marker and started down a nice paved road. I will say that Izard County is not known for its abundant signage. We stopped briefly at Devil’s Shoulder and surveyed the Devil’s Gap trailhead, but decided that for several reasons we really weren’t up for a hike. At my urging, we continued down that road (I later learned that it was Mt. Olive road) despite Scott’s repeated comments that we must’ve passed the historical marker or maybe there wasn’t a historical marker and we probably ought to turn around. Some three miles on, we turned a corner and saw the white frame Mount Olive Cumberland Presbyterian Church, organized in – can you believe it? – 1826(!!!) with a historical marker in its side yard. So there! I felt vindicated. As the crow flies, that church building is only a quarter-mile from the White River, where we saw a number of folks fishing for trout.

There being absolutely no bathrooms – or woodsy areas far enough off the road(s) to provide any privacy – at Mt. Olive or anywhere between Melbourne and Allison, we hurried on home, ate lunch, and rested a while. But by 3:00, I was itching to try the Stone County museum again. Assuming its volunteer showed up, it would be open 1:00-4:00 that Saturday, and that would be our last opportunity to see it. Scott is always kind and and accommodating to me, but on this trip he really outdid himself; we drove back into Mountain View to the Stone County museum, and, lo and behold, it was open!

We wandered around the interesting displays for a few minutes until the volunteer docent, Don Thomas, a wonderful elderly longtime Stone County resident, greeted us and asked where we were from. “Near Branson” launched him into a series of stories about Stone County, Arkansas history in general and his own family history in particular. It was fascinating to hear newsy historical details from someone who had experienced them personally.

Don comes from a family of missions-minded Ozarkian Christians who, way back when, had had the goal of establishing and growing a rural church that would thrive to the point that it could send out people to other rural areas of Stone County and to plant a like-minded congregation. And it just so happens that a Flatwoods, a substantial church there in Mountain View had been planted by the Missionary Baptist church he currently attends out in Fifty-Six near Blanchard Springs Caverns. Way back in the day, it seems that believers in that area were more concerned about congregations of growing Christians than about denominational labels, and it turns out that the Fifty-Six Missionary Baptist Church had been planted by a group of folks sent out from the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Calico Rock. And the Calico Rock Cumberland Presbyterian Church had been established by a handful of people who went out from the Mount Olive Cumberland Presbyterian Church which we’d been standing in front of just a couple hours earlier!!!

Not only that, it turns out that Don’s great-great grandfather (born in 1822), was the man who in pre-Civil War days had owned the land on which the city of Branson (founded in 1882, incorporated in 1912) now sits. Calvin Gayler is listed as the first permanent resident of Branson and is buried in the Branson City Cemetery down by the railroad tracks. I haven’t scoped out his grave yet, but I thought that connection between our Stone County, (AR) museum guide, Don Thomas, and our own fair tourist town was very interesting.

It was still a warm and wonderful afternoon, so we returned to the lovely Mountain View City Park and enjoyed three games of cuppers (yes, we were traveling with both cuppers and cornhole boards; Scott in particular likes to have options), the final one of which I won decisively – cupping with the VERY last washer of the game! Nice and satisfying.

And as we left town for the final time, we noticed quite a crowd on the courthouse lawn. It looked like a small stage was set up and maybe they were having a concert or something. Hey, a free concert on the grounds? Maybe we’d get to hear some pickin’ and grinnin’. It sounded fun, so we parked and pulled out our bag chairs. Yes, we had those with us too. No, we never travel light. We also had a flip-top box of games packed below our dry food… Anyway, the folks on stage were singing some country-sounding song about love. Some guy was holding a boom mic that was as fuzzy as a sheep, another couple guys were holding up a reflector, and somebody had a professional-looking TV camera on his shoulder. I figured this must be a big deal concert, and maybe some local TV station was getting footage of it for the evening news. But then, IS there really any TV station local to Mountain View Arkansas? Well, when the song ended, some stocky smiling guy with long hair and a beard said, laughing, “So we record it and then we do it thirty more times.” Now, that sounded odd. Who ever heard of a concert where they did the same song 30 times?!? The singers wandered away from the stage, and the guys who’d been holding the reflector traded it for a huge translucent thing on a hinged frame, which they moved to different locations, I think in an effort to focus onto the stage sunlight with no shadows. Then some lady behind us struck up a conversation with me, and I asked her what was going on and she said they were recording a movie! We sat around for about 30 minutes while nothing was happening and then left.

[Update: I later corresponded with someone from the Stone County Leader newspaper in Mountain View. She told me that she thinks the movie they were recording is called “Falling In Love In Mountain View,” which hopefully some television network will buy and show somewhere at some time.]

What we found between the courthouse and our cabin was really something else!

To be continued…

Getaway, Day Two (Friday, October 4)

After ending my birthday by not setting an alarm and then sleeping for nine glorious hours- ahhhh! – we packed a picnic lunch, a few games, and set out on what we hoped would a fun scoping expedition. Scott had learned that there was a swinging bridge in the area, and the day before we had seen a sign for “Swinging Bridge Road,” so that was our first stop.

Our cabin, Gracie’s Place Cottage, was located about a half-mile up a steep dirt road that cut off the highway at the east end of the Highway 9 bridge over the White River, where Sylamore Creek flows into it. The White River is the dividing line between Izard County on the east and Stone County on the west. Our cabin was in Izard County, and the swinging bridge over Sylamore Creek was in Stone County. We were hoping to be able to park near the swinging bridge and spend some time walking around, skipping rocks, and enjoying the area, but because it turned out that every square foot of land around the bridge is privately owned, posted, and inaccessible, all we could do was roll down the window, take a picture of the informative sign, and drive across the bridge. This post (by someone else) includes pictures and describes the interesting history of the bridge, which is evidently one of only two wire-cable suspension bridges in Arkansas still open to vehicular traffic.
Next we headed into Mountain View to explore the town and visit the Stone County museum. I also wanted to find the little bakery that we’d taken the kids to for breakfast-y treats during our camping trip at Blanchard Springs in 1993. We did find the white water tower near the square that I remembered, but as best we could figure, the bakery must’ve been torn down and has been replaced by apartments. Towns can change a lot in 26 years. So can people…
We found the history museum, but it wouldn’t open till 1:00 PM, so we went back to the square and wandered into the courthouse to ask where we could get an Arkansas state highway map. The paper kind. I’m old school. How and why we’d left our map in our cabin was a mystery that could not be solved. They had free maps (I took two, one for the car and one for the house) and gave us directions to the city park which was billed as a good place to walk and “really pretty.” With thirty minutes to kill before the museum opened and not yet hungry enough for lunch, we went for a walk in the park, and it was indeed most lovely. Scott pointed out an unusual tree that I thought was possibly bald cypress and might have the scientific name of taxodium distichum. 
I had not brought our tree book, but being a true tech whiz (HA!), I whipped out my cell phone and looked it up on wikipedia. (Yes, I do realize that wikipedia is not a definitive reference source, but hey, I wasn’t writing a research paper.) And YES! Not only does the above photo show a bald cypress tree, I even spelled its scientific name correctly!!! Pretty impressive recall, when you consider that that piece of information came from a botany class I took 40 (can it really be forty?) years ago as a freshman in college! That although I almost daily walk into a room and can’t remember what I went in there to get.
Back at the Stone County museum at 1:10 PM on Friday, October 4, the sign out front said CLOSED, although the sign on the door said “Open Thursday-Saturday 1:00-4:00 PM, April through October.
Hmm. We were sorely disappointed, but after waiting around till about 1:25, Scott made some calls and we eventually learned that the museum is staffed by volunteers; evidently that day’s volunteer was a no-show. Maybe we’d try again Saturday.
We drove out to Blanchard Springs and had a nice picnic while playing Sequence and reading a bit of our cherished tome,  The History of the United States: A Christian Perspective, by Robert Spinney. Then we took a short walk to the spring. It was impressive, and due only to prohibitive signage, Scott resisted his extremely strong urge to climb up behind the waterfall, muttering, “It just screams to be climbed.”

Then we did something that was sad to me. We went looking for the spot at the end of the road where we’d had our first-ever camping trip as a family. As I think I already mentioned, it was site of the “It’s a BIBLE, Mommy!” incident, and I knew I’d know it when I saw it. But there was a problem: that camping area was marked “CLOSED!” In October, prime camping season. How very odd. Even the memorable bathroom was closed. The road was overgrown and crumbling, and here’s the picnic table at “our” site, being taken over by vegetation.

Scott insisted that I pose, leaning on my trusty walking stick, in shock and awe. Back in the day, our tent had been set in the right foreground.

We later found a couple of Ozark National Forest employees on break, and I asked them why that area was closed and so overgrown. It turns out I wasn’t the first person to ask. They, of course were young enough to be our kids, but they told us that in 2012, heavy rains had submerged that part of the campground, and around the same time 20 people who were camping at Albert Pike campground in the Ouachita National Forest in southern Arkansas died in flash flooding. Our campsite there at Blanchard Springs was up on a little bluff, some 15 feet above the river. The volume of water required to flood that site is almost unimaginable. Although no one was injured here, a camper (a vehicle, not a person) was washed away, and to prevent future risk to guests, the Forest Service permanently closed this part of the Blanchard Springs campground. The employees told us that lots of people have come back and asked about it and that “our” site had always been the most popular in the whole park.  = )

Before going back to our cabin for a nap, a sad Cardinals game, and yummy shish-ka-bobs on the charcoal grill, we stopped back in town (Mountain View) for a picture of what is now my very favorite propane tank of all time.

Over the river and through the woods

In honor of our 32nd anniversary last month and my 59th birthday this month (and let me just say that both of those numbers are, in the literal sense of the word, incredible to me!), Scott and I are taking a few days off and away in the general vicinity of Mountain View, Arkansas. We hit the road yesterday on my actual birthday, and it was an extremely delightful day.

We had a wonderful lunch in Harrison at Neighbor’s Mill. Although we’ve driven past it dozens of times, we’d never been there, and we’re so glad we stopped. I’d told Scott I wanted to eat my birthday meal at “some place different. I don’t want a heavy meal that puts met to sleep. If we could find a place kind of like Panera, maybe a neat little sandwich shop or something, that would be great.” Neighbor’s Mill was perfect – a soup, salad, sandwichy place that just happens to be run by Christians, and which serves up an amazing array of baked goods. We ate out on the porch, and my potato soup and Scott’s tomato basil soup were both quite tasty. We enjoyed our salads and left satisfied and not stuffed – just want I wanted. Well, before we left we actually made a couple more purchases.

On our getaways, we usually bring some food from home and then enjoy shopping at some local grocery to get the rest of what we’ll need for our meals at the cabin and picnic lunches. We often splurge on deli meat and smoked cheddar cheese, and we like to find some kind of special sandwich bread that’s more exciting than what we normally get at Walmart. Well, let me tell you that Neighbor’s Mill was the place to get bread! We picked out a Garlic Triple Cheese loaf that right now, at 9:00 AM, makes me think about lunch, just typing about it. And then, since it was my birthday we also picked out a slice of Italian Cream Cake to share last night after supper. It was amazingly rich and DELICIOUS.

I also collect town squares – the old-fashioned kind, county seats with courthouses in the middle – and we hit two without even planning to. First we found Yellville, the seat of Marion County.

Marion County Courthouse in Yellville, AR


The lighting is bad, but it does say “Marion County Courthouse.”

I was especially pleased to see that this courthouse is surrounded by a square full of real businesses with real live customers. In many towns, the “downtowns” and the “squares” are dead or dying, boarded up, vacant, and depressing, but not so Yellville! If we’d had time, I would have walked the square and checked out a lot of the little shops. = )  But get this: a sign in front of the courthouse advertised a book sale at the Marion County Library.

WOW! A book sale? In a library? In a small town? On my birthday?!? How great is THAT?!? So I climbed the courthouse steps – I do love an old courthouse, what with its worn steps and 1950s wooden office doors and a feel that reminds me of the Andy Griffith show – and walked into the county collector’s office (just because that was the first office I saw) and asked the friendly lady there where the library was, and she gave me directions.

Although I didn’t fully peruse the Marion County Library, like any small library it did make me sigh deeply and smile inwardly. Probably outwardly too. I have no idea how they made any money on their book sale. Maybe it’s like me decluttering my stuff at home; if a bit of money can be made, that’s great, but my main goal is for the stuff to just leave the premises and never come back. Anyway, they were charging $2.00 a bag. Not $2.00 a book, which would’ve been a bit steep but which I still would’ve paid, but $2.00 for a Walmart bag of how ever many books you could put in it! And if you wanted to a get a lot of books, they provided boxes – those big produce boxes that grocery stockers use when they’re setting out bananas or apples – and the books were $3.00 a box!

Scott is not an avid reader, so while I was leafing through the stacks, I was really surprised to see that he was too. I picked out two: a kid’s book that I thought was neat (but it’s out in the car and I can’t remember the title now) and The Summons by John Grisham. I’m trying to branch out into a bit of fiction, and this one sounded like I’d enjoy it. Scott, meanwhile had picked out several. I was initially shocked and slightly embarrassed, but he said he was getting them for the houses. Oh, the houses, our vacation rental houses! Well yes. So I picked out several more kids books for the houses that I recognized as good, while wondering aloud, “Do kids even read books anymore?” So we got a whole bag of books for a total of $2.00. Amazing.

We were headed to the general area of Blanchard Springs Caverns. I especially wanted to go back there to see the camp site of our very first family camping trip, the one where Jessica made her very loud middle-of-the-night “It’s a BIBLE, Mommy!” proclamation, and where Scott shoved a video camera in my face as I crawled out of the tent at dawn. We weren’t planning to tour the cave, but I will note here that it’s located at Fifty-Six, Arkansas, the naming of which we later learned “primary source” from a an elderly local volunteer historian, but that’s another story. Can you imagine living in a town called Fifty-Six? Its population was 173 in 2010, but had increased to 177 in 2017; the nearest post office is 13 miles away in the unincorporated community of Timbo.

Fifty-Six aside, our drive from Yellville to Mountain View involved about a hour and fifteen minutes on a very scenic (and we do like scenic) and very curvy stretch of Highway 14 that could legitimately be described as a throw-up road. Scott was driving while I commentated, and a good time was had by all. On that section of our drive we did have one experience that we had never had before. We were traveling roughly southeast from Yellville toward Mountain View, and at one point we passed a green highway sign that said, “Mountain View 20 (implied ‘miles’).” As we continued along Highway 14, about five minutes later we passed another such sign that said, “Mountain View 22.” Go figure!

Mountain View also has a town square around the Stone County courthouse. The courthouse was closed when we arrived, but I did document its existence.

Our cabin is up a very steep dirt road in the woods on the Izard County side of the White River. It is all wood inside and out,



and has both a great back porch with porch swing and a king bed that has so little clearance space around it (small bedroom) that I have to turn sideways to walk around it and is so high that I need a stool (provided) to vault into it!

Being vacation rental home owners, we tend to note either interesting features and great ideas that we might want to incorporate at Roberts Vacation Rentals or omissions and problems that strike us as funny. We’ve had a couple of the latter today. Now, we don’t care about these things; they are just funny to us. And while RVR rents out fairly upscale “luxury” vacation homes, this cabin is (like all the places we typically choose to stay in), by definition, rustic, woodsy, and not necessarily immaculate. But we found a half-full water bottle behind a potted plant on the bathroom counter,

and when Scott opened the freezer to get some ice, he found an open box of (originally 12) Great Value ice cream sandwiches. Six were missing (no problem) and five intact were in the box, along with one half-eaten ice cream sandwich. We ditched the half, grinned, and mentally noted the water bottle and ice cream offering as housekeeping “oopses.” Most cleaners make them from time to time, but RVR cleaners only very rarely. And we tell our cleaners to either ditch all food left by guests or take it home and enjoy it! And they do. Our guess is that “Ms. Lola” wasn’t going straight home and so couldn’t take the ice cream sandwiches with her. Or maybe she’s diabetic. She did leave us this note next to a bottle of bleach on the kitchen counter.

We are enjoying our time here and expect the next few days to be packed full of rest, relaxation, and no responsibilities!


Let there be light

On 9/11 the first two walnuts fell. One landed about halfway down the driveway, and the other must’ve hit the near side of the playroom roof and rolled down. It landed on the sidewalk just outside the front breezeway door. (Breezeway doors require direction or room affiliation, since there are four of them.)

Walnuts are much like tennis balls. At any time, if you unknowingly step on one, you are likely to lose your balance, and later in the fall when there are dozens or hundreds of walnuts buried under thousands of leaves, stepping on an unseen walnut is almost guaranteed to make one stumble and possibly fall. Therefore, particularly at this time of year, it is pretty important to be able to see those treacherous green balls. Especially at night.

We have a security light mounted up on the playroom above the garage door. It is motion-activated, but in recent months, it has taken to not coming on unless you stand on the driveway and wildly wave your arms – and even then, not until you walk some ten steps toward your vehicle. This is rather useless if you’re trying to avoid walnuts when leaving the house, and it’s even worse when coming home in the dark because to get it to come on, you have to exit your car and walk almost all the way to the door – carrying your whatever – while waving your arms wildly.

Why, you ask, don’t you just park up closer to the playroom/garage door? Two reasons:

  1. Farther up the driveway and near the playroom, we have two walnut trees. Birds like to hang out in these trees, and they consider these trees to be their toilets. If one parks at all close to either of them, one’s car will be liberally decorated with white polka-dots the next time one gets in it. Once in the past I counted 70 polka-dots applied to my just-washed Durango over one night. In addition, the walnut trees keep growing, so each year their reach (and hence the size of the avian toilets) extends farther and farther down the driveway.
  2. Farther up the driveway and near the playroom, we have two walnut trees. In the spring these trees produce yellow-green pollen in excessive amounts. Said pollen coats any vehicles parked within 50 feet of these trees. In the fall our walnut trees exude a sticky aerosol “mist” of sap that thoroughly coats any vehicles parked under or within “spraying” distance of them; which distance is affected by windspeed and hence cannot be accurately calculated. The result resembles the lumpy, glass that used to be used in bathroom windows. In addition, the walnut trees keep growing, so each year, their reach (and hence the scope of their nebulizer effect) extends farther and farther down the driveway.

So I keep parking the Durango farther and farther down the driveway. Worse, not only is my car-to-door distance steadily increasing, a couple months ago the security light decided that even when all my acrobatics DO cause it to come on, it will only stay on for a total of four seconds. After that, if I still want to see where I’m going, I need to repeat my wild arm-flailing routine. And now that it’s getting dark earlier, and the walnuts have begun falling, and the leaves will soon be drifting, I have told my husband that I would really like to have a motion-detector light out there that actually works.

My Hero gave me one! Yesterday he made a couple trips to town, spent quite a while on a ladder, persevered through MANY frustrations of various types for an extended period of time, and installed a glorious new security light on the front of the playroom! It works well, and one of our (hopefully quick little) tasks this evening will be to set its distance and duration.  Here’s a shot of it in daylight, just to prove that it really exists. I’m having trouble transferring pictures from my phone to my computer, so you’ll just have to trust me that it really does light up at night.


This new light makes me very happy!

There’s a right and a wrong time of day to…

be in the toyport!

We must’ve unknowingly picked the WRONG time.

A few days ago Scott and I had been talking about our mutual desire to do things together when he’s home. He really wants us to talk a lot, and that seems to be easier for me when we’re working or playing side-by-side than when we’re just looking at each other face-to-face. So we had tossed around some ideas of things we could “do” together, probably on most days right after lunch.

We had guests coming for lunch today, and while we sat on the porch waiting for them to arrive, I brought up to Scott the idea that maybe we could — in small, perhaps 30-60 minute spurts — work on the camper together. Why? Well the truth is that ever since our grand Yellowstone expedition in July 2018, the camper has been sitting in the toyport, full of junk and dirt on the inside and numerous broken components on the outside, and I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been touched in over a year.

Fast-forward to about 5:10 PM that day. I looked out front and saw that the Durango was gone (Scott must’ve driven it somewhere) and Scott’s wallet was on the dining room table (Scott surely didn’t go driving without his wallet). Looking around a bit more, I saw that the Durango was up near the shop, so I walked back there to see if Scott wanted help with anything. In fact, he did. He wanted me to direct him in backing up the Durango so he could hook up the camper.

“OK, but why?”

“So I can take it to get it fixed.”

Hmm. Now, one absolute truth about My Hero is that if he has an idea or receives some information before lunch, then before supper he will definitely take action on that idea or information. We hadn’t eaten yet…

But there was a small additional challenge in pulling out the camper: the canoe was hanging lower than the top of the camper, and it had to be raised before the camper could be moved, and there was no point trying to back up the Durango until that happened. This canoe-elevating operation involved Scott on a step-ladder, lifting one end of the canoe and while holding it up with one hand, moving the “S” hook higher up to shorten the chain. And doing this four times. My grand contribution to the effort was to stand there, hold the ladder, and tell him how strong he was and what a great job he was doing. (He is quite strong and he did a great job.)

I stood thusly in the toyport for an estimated eight minutes, during which I said at one point, “There’s a mosquito on your leg, but I don’t want to smack it lest I startle you and you fall!”

“Please don’t smack it,” he said, deep in lifting, holding, and re-positioning, and grunting slightly.

Once the canoe was raised and fairly level, he climbed down, surveyed his handiwork, commented that “there sure are a lot of mosquitoes out here,” decided we’d done enough for the time being, said he’d take the camper tomorrow, and moved the Durango back down to its usual spot on the driveway.

I’d been doing the smack and slap dance out there, and back inside, I found my arms, hands, fingers, and even knuckles covered with mosquito bites. In those eight minutes, I’d been bitten at least 17 times. Scott twice. Go figure.

Today I happened to see a piece on the news about seven people in – I think? – the eastern U.S. dying of some mysterious mosquito-borne virus, and the doctor who was being interviewed advised people to eliminate all standing water (remember Dr. William Gorgas in the Panama Canal zone?), use a DEET insect repellent, and wear long pants and long sleeves if they had to be outdoors in an area with a known mosquito population, especially around dawn or dusk.

Well! Maybe it’s common knowledge that mosquitoes are hungriest for supper about the same time as humans, but I must be uncommon. In any case, I am now officially avoiding the toyport and environs in early evening. I’d much rather fix our supper than be someone else’s supper!

Boxing day

During his missions update this morning at church, Scott showed a brief video testimony from a pastor in India who had been strongly impacted by Scott’s use of noodles to represent women’s brains’ tendency to connect every thought with every other thought and boxes to represents men’s brains’ tendency to compartmentalize their thoughts. Every time Scott shows that video here in the States, the audience laughs, probably because we can all relate to those differences. I am definitely a “noodler,” and I can be very easily distracted by how one thought leads to another, pushing me to break off from one ongoing task to start a different one, which I will partially complete before it conjures up yet another thought, which will send me rushing to do something else. Lather, rinse, repeat, all the live-long day!

I do a bit of volunteer work for our church, coordinating our helps ministry and creating its monthly calendar schedule, writing the weekly church bulletin, and being the point person for prayer requests. I truly like to do these various tasks, but a typical morning tends to go something like this: Debbie texts me a reminder that she will probably be out of town on October 13th and so will not be available to greet that day. No problem. I pause the Quicken entries I was working on to make that note on my master church calendar before texting her back a quick “thumbs up,” but with the master church calendar open, I am reminded that Pastor Barb wanted me to be sure to put the Life Chain in the October helps calendar AND in the bulletin for the next three weeks. I write Life Chain on October 6 of the master church calendar and then pull up next week’s bulletin. But wait: next week’s bulletin doesn’t yet exist. I pull up last week’s bulletin, make a couple quick date changes and save it as next week’s bulletin, thinking to myself that I will work on the bulletin on Thursday, but while I’m here I really should do something to remind me to put Life Chain in the next two bulletins as well. However, before I have chance to do that, I get a text from Richard saying that Amber, who had surgery earlier this week, has been re-admitted to the hospital with a possible impacted colon and to please have people pray. This is important, so I copy his text to an email, send it to myself, bring it up on my computer, pray for Amber, and send out a prayer request email to the church.

None of these tasks is huge, but taken together they have now occupied an amount of time and a number of brain cycles. As a result, I now have several tasks partially done, I need to rotate laundry, and I wanted to get to the post office before it gets too hot. But if I leave for he post office now, odds are I’ll forget to make a note about Life Chain in three bulletins, and if Debbie can’t greet on the 13th and I put in Charmaine, I’ll also need to schedule Tim to usher that day, but since he really needs to do some new-usher training with Patrick, who will be in nursery with his wife that day, I’ll need to re-work the other October ushers. But do I need to do that today? Not really. But should I go ahead and work on it while I’m thinking about it? Probably.

And this is why, by lunch time for crying out loud, I’m still not done with the (frankly long-forgotten) Quicken entries!

And that is why I think I’ve got to figure out a way to Put. The. Church. In. A. BOX.

Yes, a box of squishy noodles is obviously just exactly what I need… so maybe I can make tomorrow Boxing Day!

Feel free to ask how that worked for me.  = )

Documentation of deeds

Sometimes I get to the end of a day and feel like I haven’t gotten anything done. Or I think, “I know I was busy all day, but I don’t seem to have accomplished anything.” At 3:15 PM yesterday, I decided that, while they were still fairly fresh in my mind, it might be encouraging to list all the things I had already done that day. Here’s my list.

– read the Bible
– worked out at the gym
– prayed while pumping the elliptical
– walked to the gate and back
– put Scott’s insurance card in the Honda
– picked tomatoes and watered them
– worked on cleaning the inside of the Durango windshield
– vacuumed the porch, living room, breezeway, and playroom
– swept the porch steps and a bit of the walk
– cleaned and filled the hummingbird feeders
– texted with Katie about what foods were probably still good after she’d been without power for 7 hours
– brought the mail in
– cooked up some fresh green beans but forgot to use olive oil and did them in bacon grease; not sure how they’ll be
– talked to Virginia about her lost church directory and printed one to take to her on Sunday
– sent out a prayer request for Nila
– made and froze two small meals of Calico Beans
– threw out part of a no-good watermelon and cut up part of a good one
– emptied the dishwasher and washed another two big piles of dishes
– listened to 1.5 hours of an audio book I really enjoyed, “One Summer: America, 1927” by Bill Bryson
– talked on the phone with Scott’s mom for 55 minutes
– typed up two recipes that have been on my phone for months and four more I’d clipped out of magazines
– saved the Josiah pictures from Scott’s time with him in California
– texted Kiesha about her move
– called Sister Jean about rides to connect group
– printed and folded 35 bulletins
– placed an amazon order
– emailed Kris about her dad’s test results
– called Amber and talked with Richard about his and her health stuff
– emailed Dina something that may encourage her about her daughter
– texted Tabitha back about a discipleship workbook for Bekah
– changed Charmaine’s contact from text to email for prayer requests
– texted Tamara to get her mailing address
And later in the day, I also:
– washed, dried, and stored lettuce and made a salad
– did my afternoon stretches
– started working on the October helps ministry calendar
– enjoyed a video chat over Skype with Jessica and The World’s Cutest and Happiest Grandson
– worked through two days of material in my Real Life Discipleship workbook
– talked with My Hero
– read for a few minutes (“Three Weeks with My Brother”)
So even though I sometimes feel behind and get frustrated with my seeming lack of productivity, this post is proof that — at least on one day — I really did get a lot done!

Jeopardy question: What is 40?

Answer: The number of tomatoes currently ripening on our windowsills.  = )

I remember when

I’m not pining away for “the good old days,” and I’m not wishing for things to be as they were, but with my 59th birthday approaching next month, I’ve been thinking back over my childhood and young adult years. Here are a few memories that have recently surfaced.

I remember when milk came in glass bottles that were left in a special box on our front porch. They had foil/paper caps on top.

I remember when major appliances (washers, dryers, refrigerators and freezers, ovens) and small appliances (irons, mixers, can openers) routinely lasted 20+ years; sometimes 30+ years!

I remember when gasoline cost 28 cents per gallon. At the service station, a bell would ring, the attendant would come out to the car, Dad would say, “Fill ‘er up with regular,” and the attendant would check the oil while the tank was filling. then he brought the ticket to the window on a little plastic tray. The driver never got out of the car.

I remember when paying with a store charge card involved the clerk putting your card in a special “machine,” stacking a multi-layer carbon paper “sandwich” on top of it, and shoving down (or sometimes across) a heavy handle that to imprint your information on the paper.

I remember those ghastly “edgers” with the sharp sprocket-looking blades that my dad ran, grinding along the edge of the lawn in the days before weed-eaters.

I remember when kids played outside, wandered through neighbors’ yards, and rode bikes blocks away from home, and no one thought a thing about their safety.

I remember when grocery items had individual price stickers on them.

I remember when banks gave suckers to kids.

I remember when telephones were wired to the wall, used rotary dials, and had nifty coil cords connecting the handset to the base.

Good memories!

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