Archive for September, 2019

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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