Archive for February, 2015

The world isn’t flat, and neither is the carpet

My mom came home from the hospital today.  She’s been there for over two weeks, following a collapse that caused a broken ankle.  She had three surgeries in four days (one cardiac “procedure,” one minor surgery, and one major orthopedic surgery), and when you are eighty and not too terribly spry to begin with, that can really zap your strength.  She’s also had something like 10 days of rehab therapy, which I understand has been both helpful and exhausting.

She’s got a 15-pound cast on her ankle/foot and she can’t bear any weight on that foot for at least six weeks.  Their home is one level, but all entrances require several steps, so Dad built a ramp in the garage to get her into the house in her wheelchair.  That was fine, but once inside, the challenges began.

While she had been able to negotiate a bit with the walker and wheelchair in the rehab unit (which had hard floors and wide doors), at home she can’t really move either one alone on the carpet.  And the bathroom doors which have been just dandy for 40 years will accommodate the walker only with difficulty and the wheelchair not at all.

So it sounds like they are somewhat discouraged but also determined to figure out how to make things work.  I may be going down to help them for a while (they live several hours away), and I know that God has grace for what appears to be a difficult situation.  It hurts to know that they are having a tough time, but I am still very thankful that Mom’s five months of collapses were finally diagnosed and treated (she needed a pacemaker, which is now in and working well), and that she has had good medical care these past couple weeks.

If anyone happens to have any creative ideas on adjustments that might make it easier for Mom to get around (hopefully without ripping up carpet or removing walls) please let me know.

The joy of labels

Some of us relish unusual experiences.  Today Jessica and I worked at the church for a while, coming pretty close to completing a major task we started on yesterday.  Jessica’s helping our pastor as interim children’s minister for a few months while she’s home, and she’s been working like a mad woman to get some systems figured out, set up, tested, and functional before she leaves in a few weeks.  To that end, she’s done a ton of organizing, and yesterday and today, we worked in what has become the “children’s ministry supplies room” sorting reams of construction paper, zillions of pipe cleaners, an unbelievably large collection of children’s safety scissors, and what appeared to be a gross of glue sticks (plus LOTS of other stuff).

Today we finished up the more fun part:  labeling everything and putting signs on cabinets to direct the various workers where to find what they need to do what they in ministering to the kids, because as we all know, “It’s for the kids.”

It was supremely satisfying to get the boxes and bins positioned for maximal effectiveness and then label everything clearly.

Due to remodeling through the years, the light switch in this particular room is currently positioned behind a crib that is almost maximally distant from the door, and reaching it requires one to navigate a maze of toys and supplies that used to be used when the church ran a preschool (which it no longer does) and which are stored in this same room.  So in addition to tamer labels like “Puppet Props” and “Game Prizes” and “Cotton Balls and Q-Tips,” I also got to make fun signs with arrows, saying things like “Light Switch is in Back Left Corner Behind Crib” and “Light Switch That-A-Way.”

Jessica and I just has a grand time, as we are both embarrassingly beavish when it comes to decluttering, organizing, and labeling.  However, Pastor Barb was at the church after we left, and she said we did a great job.

Maybe the only thing better than making labels is having someone else appreciate them.

7 Wonders

It’s a game.  It’s a game I understand in theory, but can’t quite get my head around.  At least not well enough to win.

Thankfully, I am not an intensely competitive person, at least when it comes to games.  I enjoy a lot of them, and generally, whether I win or lose doesn’t have much bearing on my enjoyment.  However, this evening, I felt so very mentally slow!  I couldn’t seem to remember which little symbols meant I had to have that resource to buy what was on the card and which ones meant I was gaining that resource by playing that card.  And no matter what I did, I always had a lot fewer resources and much less money than everyone else.  And I couldn’t seem to complete any stages of my wonders.  And even when I worked hard to beat Josiah in the military fight, he won.  And to top it all off, why on earth the “ore” looks exactly like a beehive simply escapes me!

So I lost twice, but we laughed a lot.  I am pretty good at laughing with others, even at myself.  The bonus tonight was that even though I kept losing the game, and even though the water heater’s turned off, and even though the extra car is out of oil, IT IS STILL SNOWING, and we got to play 7 Wonders in front of the fire.  Ahhhh!

Do rejoice with me

It is SNOWING in Walnut Shade!  It’s coming down pretty heavily and it’s so very beautiful.  I am thankful to God, and Jessica is very happy to be here and get to see it actually coming down and sticking.  This doesn’t happen very often in Hong Kong, so we all count this as a blessing.  There has been snow on the ground for thirteen consecutive days, although as of this morning, it was only visible in a few shady spots.  Now it will be ALL OVER THE GROUND, and I will smile.

Middle of the road

Because my life has been quite full lately, I haven’t been blogging, and I really regret that, so before I totally forget one of the great things that happened a week ago. . .

IT SNOWED!!!  It snowed big time; nearly six inches of pure, cold, white glory!  I was SO happy!  We moved our life group to 4:00 PM last Sunday (instead of the usual 6:00 PM) because snow was expected, and it did not disappoint.

Monday morning I donned boots and related winter garb and went out to walk.  Amazingly, our road, a US highway that is always plowed post haste, was still virtually untouched.  Cars had gone by, but no snow plows.  (We call those snay plows in our family, but that’s another story involving Mr. Frumble.)

There were big drifts on the shoulder I frequent, so I actually ended up walking down the middle of the road!  How fun!  There was almost no traffic, so it didn’t matter.  I just moved into the thick stuff on the side when a car came by.  I took some pictures that morning which I need to upload and insert into this post.  Hopefully I will remember to do that soon, but feel free to remind me.

Now it’s Saturday night and there’s still plenty of snow on the ground in spite of our balmy high of 44 degrees today.  Not to worry, it’s expected to range between 25 and 30 all day tomorrow, so I don’t think there will be too much melting.  God sure must love me a lot!

Jeopardy question: What is 13.4?

Answer:  The gas mileage that your average, 11 year-old Dodge Durango (odometer reading 141,000) will achieve when pulling a flatbed trailer loaded with a 2006 Honda Accord up through the Ozark hills from Walnut Shade to Willard.

Bonus points if you also happened to guess that the driver of this entourage used hand signals(!!!) for all left turns because the left turn signal on the trailer would not work.

To the tune of “Three Coins in the Fountain”

“Three dogs in the stroller,
Each one furry, gazing out,
Pushed by one older woman
Who won’t let them walk about.”

This afternoon found me back in the Taney County Tire and Towing waiting area for a few minutes, being treated to more TV-for-people-with-no-brains, this time “Dr. Phil.”  While I sat there, somewhat disgusted by both the on-screen activities and our “new” car situation, in walked a 60ish woman, pushing a stroller.  I saw her come in to the main area and made a mental note that 60ish women aren’t usually seen pushing strollers; maybe this one was babysitting or raising a grandbaby.

Imagine my surprise when she wheeled her blue, three-wheeled stroller into the waiting area and I saw that it contained not one, not two, but three. . . DOGS!  Yes, she brought her dogs to the car repair.

They were very cute – maybe Yorkies? – long-haired terrier types and extremely well-behaved.  They just sat in their “PetGear” stroller, not moving, not barking, not whining, just looking around and smiling; one of them gazing longingly up at the small window.

Every now and again, something happens that makes me think, “Now I’ve seen it all!”  and three dogs in a stroller was definitely it for today.


Itsy-bitsy, teeny-weenie

We are vacationing in Newton County, Arkansas this weekend, and since our standby default location wasn’t available, Scott found us a new place. It’s quite different from Creek’s End. It’s a very small cabin sitting on a lofty spur of land overlooking, well, Newton County. If you’ve been to Newton County no further description is needed, but since it’s possible (and most unfortunate) that you have not, I’ll just say that in order to create this most lovely portion of the world, God took a whole lot of real estate, scrunched it up accordion style, loaded the hillsides with forests, added an impressive number of sheer solid-rock bluffs, and then dropped a delightful variety of rocky streams down into the creases between them. It’s simply gorgeous, and we’ve been coming here for more than 27 years. In fact, I am pretty sure that we’ve spent time in Newton County nearly every year since we’ve been married, and in some of those years we’ve been here multiple times. It’s the place we keep coming back to when we want to relax and be refreshed. Or when we bring a gang to hike at Lost Valley. Or when we look for elk.  Or when we float the Buffalo. Etc.

So, we’re staying in a cabin called Rocking Chair Ridge. It is quite cozy; roughly 32’ by 22’, so about 700 square feet. In that area is an open living room and kitchen, a bathroom with a small shower stall, and two bedrooms (one queen, one full). It is mostly paneled and decorated throughout with lots and lots and lots of bear stuff. Evidently bears are frequent visitors to the property.

Today Scott and I showered back-to-back; uh, time-wise, not location-wise(!), and he went first. He took his good old-fashioned time while I waited patiently. When it was my turn, I stepped in and turned the dial, and the water that hit me was FREEZING cold! But the stall being so tiny, I could not step out from under it, and I yelped. WOW, was it ever cold! I spun the dial quickly to the left, and the water went instantly to scalding hot, which I once again could not escape, and more yelping ensued. I finally found a tolerable mid-point and began my ablutions. BUT, a mere 14 seconds into the process—and I am not exaggerating—the water became, with no adjustment to the dial, lukewarm. Within 37 seconds it was cool, then cooler, (I began furiously rinsing soap off), much cooler, and then ice cold. I decided good enough was definitely good enough, and like The Peach, exited the scene (of my torment).

Scott apologized profusely for using all the hot water. I wasn’t angry; just cold. . . and curious. It seemed that the hot water had gone away awfully fast. I got dressed and asked Scott where he thought the water heater was, as there are no closets in this cabin. He said he figured it was under the cabin. That would be odd, but perhaps. . . ? In any case, I had to know.

And then he called out, “I found it! Here it is.”


“In the kitchen.”

And sure enough, there in the corner—between the refrigerator and the stove, beside the trash can, and just below the shelves that hold the breadbox, mixing bowls, coffee pot, toaster, and paper towels—was the smallest water heater I have ever seen. Scott bent down to read the fine print for me, and for the record, it is a Whirlpool, propane, TWELVE GALLON water heater. It’s so short it doesn’t even come up to Scott’s knees!

Just when I thought I had seen it all.

Amazing quote

For about as long as we’ve been a family – and at least for as long as we’ve had kids who could walk – we have had a family rule that goes like this:  “If you make a mess, you should clean it up.”  Some family members adhere more stringently to that rule than others.

A few days ago, I cleaned out the microwave.  I do this at least once and sometimes twice a week.  It involves removing and washing the rotating glass plate, taking out the little plastic support gizmo that the plate sits on, heating a damp, soapy washcloth in the microwave for 20 seconds, letting it sit there for about five minutes, wiping the crud off the six inner surfaces, and putting it back together.  It’s not one of my more difficult tasks, but for some reason it is one my more distasteful ones.  That might be because while there are several family members using the microwave, I am fairly sure I am the only one who ever cleans it. . .


So I cleaned the microwave at about 10:00 AM, and at about 7:00 PM, I opened it and saw that someone had exploded food all over the inside of said.  That was rather discouraging.  My cleanliness hadn’t even lasted 24 hours!  I even knew who the culprit was, because I could see the person eating the same stuff (ham and has brown casserole, I believe) that was sprayed all over the microwave.  The person – amazingly, My Hero – had clearly done a thorough job of it.

I then put on my bold, confrontational face, and asked Scott to please clean up his explosion.  (Note that these kinds of requests are still difficult for me, but I keep practicing, hoping experience will yield better results on the part of others, and fewer uncomfortable feelings for me.)

Scott was not disagreeable.  He got a damp cloth and started wiping it out.  I was thankful, but as he was finishing up, I wondered if he had tackled the worst part – the inside top of the beast.  It’s not visible, you know, even to a short person like me, and I was pretty darn sure it wasn’t visible to a 6-foot tall man, either.  So I said, “Hey, please clean the ceiling of it, too.  That’s where most of the ham missiles landed.”

And here’s what he said, having lived a half century on the planet and having had a microwave oven in his kitchen since Christmas of 1988:  “I don’t think I’ve ever seen the ceiling of a microwave!”

This thought just made me laugh out loud. . . and now I’m wondering what other features of our home he’s never seen.  = )

One got through

I am very fond of the US Postal Service, particularly the segment of it that operates within and out of the Forsyth, MO and Rockaway Beach, MO post offices.  Although I do get tired of wrangling with the somewhat less than efficient USPS website, I am thankful that, with effort, I can buy stamps and calculate shipping rates from the comfort of my home office.  And I am continually amazed that every day except Sunday, our national postal service manages to deliver some 660,000,000 pieces of mail, virtually all of it correctly.

Wikipedia, that truly esteemed source of knowledge, says, “The United States Postal Service employs some 574,000 workers, making it the third-largest civilian employer in the United States behind the federal government and Wal-Mart. . . Each day. . . the United States Postal Service delivers some 660 million pieces of mail to as many as 142 million delivery points.”

But any system can be fallible.

Today I received a letter in a sealed, hand-addressed envelope, sporting no return address, no postmark, and a non-cancelled, 49-cent stamp.  It did have our ZIP+nine imprinted at the bottom beside a series of bars, so it must’ve gone through some machine somewhere, but I suspect it slipped through a processing crack and never really should have made it to our mailbox.  It turned out to be a 2014 donation receipt from a ministry, and I’m guessing it was mailed somewhere in northern Virginia.  I’m also guessing our trusty mail carrier, Vanessa, brought it on out to us just because she’s nice that way.

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