Archive for the 'PSR' Category

It’s 2020 and this is a rant

I just want to say something that is not news to anyone and that everybody reading this post has likely heard already many, many times before from many, many other people.

And here it is.

I am So. Very. Deeply. Weary. of coronavirus affecting and controlling so many aspects of my life and the lives of those I care about. It enrages and infuriates me. I am finding it nearly impossible to catapult my ongoing, ever-increasing, over-sized dump truck load of coronavirus anger.

The end.

Ecclesiastes 3:6

“… a time to keep and a time to throw away,”

In my more reflective moments [confession: that adjective “reflective” conjures up mental images of my yellow neon walking vest] – you know, those times when one looks for what one could or should learn in or from a given situation, I’ve been considering keepers and discards from the infamous spring of 2020.

I’d like to hang onto the truly gorgeous, mild, and long-lasting weather and the pleasant result that we haven’t had to run the furnace or the air conditioning in well over a month; maybe going on six weeks. Those savings on our energy bills are a boost for which I’m really thankful, but I’m more than ready to ditch the overall financial pressure of no business income combined with major business outgo. And God is gracious and kind.  = )

I’m also eager to lose the red polka-dot mask that fogs my glasses and hides my smiles, the inconvenient six feet between me everybody else in the world who has a different last name, and the blue gloves I now wear while doing anything church-related – printing and folding (yikes!) bulletins, preparing visitor bags, handing out anything and everything, making salsa to feed sixty. I want to reclaim hugs with close friends and handshakes with veterans.

I’d like to see men with haircuts and the familiar going-to-work traffic passing our house on weekday mornings.

I want to maintain neighbors out walking, waving to neighbors, learning names of neighbors’ dogs, and talking with neighbors. I’m terribly embarrassed to report that it wasn’t until our pastor gave every family $20 and told us to use it to do something for somebody who’s unchurched and invite them to our drive-in service that I had my first-ever conversation with our neighbors across the street. I made a big batch of cookie bars and took them over when I saw them out working on their entryway. We had a great conversation, they loved the cookie bars, they brought my dish back full of what their family calls “That Dam–d Orange Salad,” = ) and we’ve been smiling and waving and calling out to each other ever since. They moved in fifteen years ago.

I’m so very done with events, appointments, commitments, trips, and milestone celebrations being canceled, and I’ve had quite enough of temperature checks, health questions, and hand sanitizer stationed everywhere.

I’ve learned that no matter how hard I try, I can’t get my weekly Walmart and bank run down to less than two and-a-half hours, but I’m determined to discipline myself to convert my current pattern of going ONLY once a week and ONLY at 7:00 AM into a long term habit.

I’m a red-blooded, independently-minded, sometimes hot-headed American through and through, and I while I understand the reasoning behind at least some of it, I am realizing that I deeply resent being suddenly and ubiquitously told what to do, when I’ve been privileged to spend the first 59 years of my life making – for better or for worse – my own choices about what to do. This has been a big one for me. “Sit here.” “Stand there. No, not there.” “You can’t push your cart down this aisle that direction.” “You can’t touch that.” “You’ll have to sanitize it first.” So I’m much more than ready to regain my freedoms, but I wonder how much of this will just become the new normal, like security screenings at airports have been the accepted normal these past 18+ years.

But really, as a working-part-time-from-home wife, mom, and homemaker, not a whole lot has changed for me. Shelter in place has generally been my norm anyway, and the few direct changes have motivated me to examine my priorities and manage my time better – both healthy processes. The toughest part has actually been All. The. Social. Activity. I really do like people, especially one-on-one, but the constant (or at least much more frequent) social commitments have been draining. For a while there, we had some Zoom meeting or the other nearly every night, and I was truly weary. I’m doing better now, but it can still be hard to stay in touch with one’s own family and one’s extended family and one’s church friends and one’s unchurched friends all on a fairly regular basis when one’s capacity for what it takes to make those connections is limited. Since my capacity is unlikely to increase significantly, I’m choosing to say no more frequently.

I’m enjoying my morning prayer and workout time in my modified no-impact “elliptical.” I’ve tried a few new recipes, some of which will be keepers, and that’s been fun. I’m trying to create a rhythm of life that allows me to mentally “breathe.”

I plan to hold onto getting outside in the afternoon, going down to the creek at least once a week, planning my day in 30-minute blocks (and creating a list of 30-minute options for some of those blocks), tending my houseplants, making gradual progress on our flower beds, and, of course, growing tomatoes.

I’m pretty sure there’s a verse somewhere in Ecclesiastes 3 that says, “Come what may, let there be tomatoes!”

Retirement and Redemption

Retired. Some readers may recognize – and will join me in a moment of reverential silence honoring the untimely passing of – this, my trusty gray bag chair.

My gray chair has faithfully supported me for at least eight and-a-half years, (probably more than ten, but I can only officially document its use as far back as September 12, 2011). It’s been to dozens of softball games, many picnics, and camping trips in Arkansas, Missouri, and Yellowstone National Park. It’s served at innumerable back yard cook-outs, on several gravel bars, and in creeks of all sizes. The members of our immediate family know and respect my fondness for this long-time, quintessentially dependable holder of both my bottom and my water bottle.

So when I went into the playroom today retrieve my gray chair and put it in the Durango, I was shocked and slightly embarrassed to find it… sniff, sniff… broken.  = {  Alas, one of the plastic thing-a-ma-bobs that connects the back to the frame had evidently suffered a classic, and in this case fatal, oblique fracture.

Neither splinting nor casting can facilitate an acceptable recovery, so on Monday my gray chair will be picked up and subsequently laid to rest by the fine folks at Raintree Disposal. Sigh.

Redeemed. Two and-a-half years ago, Scott and I took a WONDERFUL trip to Townsend, Tennessee in honor of our 30th wedding anniversary, and on that trip we did a great deal of biking, which we both enjoyed maximally. In fact, Scott bought me a dandy, retro, single speed, coaster brake bike for that trip in September of 2017. In January of 2018, my right knee started aching, and over the next two months, the aching turned into pain. On a major “Scott’s birthday” hike of (I think) seven miles in March of 2018, I clearly overexerted myself and significantly injured my knee.

I was barely able to walk, and Dr. Salmon diagnosed it as significantly inflamed and with a strained some tendon or the other. All the biking that fall, plus hiking without a brace had exacerbated my underlying (but till then unknown) patella femoral syndrome, which made my knee susceptible to injury by overuse and/or twisting. I was to avoid bending the knee more than 10 degrees until it was healed, take ibuprofen as needed for pain, wear a hinged knee brace to prevent lateral twisting of the joint, and do leg lift exercises to strengthen my quads, which were evidently too weak and wimpy to hold my kneecap where it was supposed to be. Well, Dr. Salmon didn’t use the terms “weak and wimpy.” But he expected significant improvement, if not nearly complete recovery, in about six weeks.

That’s not exactly how things turned out.

I ended up having to wear that hot, heavy hinged brace all day every day for nine solid MONTHS, till January of 2019, and to this day, I still do my quad-strengthening leg lifts every morning. And for the past year, I’ve been working out at the gym on a seated elliptical instead of on a stationary bike because the bike bent my knee too much. But Scott really wanted us to go biking on a nice day to celebrate his birthday, so a couple weeks ago, I did a rather tentative five-minute trial on one of the stationary bikes at the gym – with no knee issues.

And here’s the good news: Today, for the first time in two and-a-half years, I went on a bike ride with Scott! We did a truly delightful (and almost completely flat!) ride from Empire Park in Forsyth to Shadow Rock Park. We biked along lower Lake Taneycomo, past Powersite dam (completed in 1913, the first hydroelectric dam in Missouri, very interesting to me), along Bull Shoals Lake, and back again for a total of seven miles, and I had no problems and no pain.

So my gray chair has been retired and my knee problems have been redeemed, all in the same gloriously beautiful spring day.  = )

On my to-do list

I’ve been in something like a nesting phase for the past couple weeks, and NO, I am not pregnant!!! Sheesh. Now, that would be an immaculate conception, for sure.

Scott was away for a while, and during that time, I found myself working hard and fast to get things in order; all kinds of things but especially procedures. As in, I do the payroll for our family business, and between having one new employee start and some of them having new responsibilities and all of them having new pay rates, I had quite a bit of set-up to do before diving into my usual February 1 payroll procedure. It took more time than I anticipated, but I think I now have things set up to work much more smoothly going forward.

And then I made cookie dough brownies for a church event. I had kind of dreaded making them, because although they have always been a fail-proof family standby, the past few times they have not turned out, in a big and disappointing way. But this time, I adjusted the baking time and did not cool them in the fridge between steps, and they turned out perfectly.  = )  So I made notes on the recipe so I can repeat my success next time, but now the recipe sheet is so scribbled up that it’s hard to read, so I need to edit it and reprint it for my recipe binder.

I’ve also been making good use of my new analog planner – a wonderful Christmas gift from my friend, Rachael (THANK YOU, Rachael), which is truly perfect for me. I’m able to flip ahead and note things that need to be done weeks or months down the road, like refilling prescriptions and talking with Scott about seasonal business ideas, so I’ve been looking ahead and making those kinds of notes and also setting reminders in my phone.

All these things make me wonder what’s ahead; what it is that I’m preparing for and why. So far I’m clueless on that, but I am definitely feeling calmer and more “in charge” of my time. As a result, I’ve been able to at least scratch the surface of a few ideas and projects that I’ve been ignoring for way too long. Hopefully I can keep making progress. It’s 8:20 PM, and tomorrow’s to-do list looks pretty light. I do love white space, and maybe I’ll have time to tackle something that makes me feel productive and energized.  = )

Between two big events (or two little choices)

Today is Monday, January 20, 2020, which means yesterday was January 19, and makes tomorrow January 21. Today is poised smack dab between the Kansas City Chiefs’ winning a trip to the Super Bowl and the beginning of President Trump’s impeachment trial. Weighty times, these.

I stayed up late last night. Sometimes I do that when I’m really on a roll and getting something important done. That’s all fine and good, but then I like to have some time to relax (and often eat something yummy) as a reward for having completed whatever it was. It was that combination that had me getting into bed at 11:05 last night, and unfortunately, I was then up at one something and again at three something, probably thanks to hot flashes and/or a restless knee.

Anyway, as I climbed back into bed around 3:15, I remember thinking, “Ah! I’ve still got nearly two hours.” My alarm was set for 5:05, my normal getting-up time, and thankfully I fell back asleep quickly.

When I woke up, I looked at the clock, and it was – how can this be possible?!? – five FORTY-EIGHT. I got up, walked across the room, turned on the light and studied my alarm clock. Had I forgotten to set it? No. Was it turned off? No. Were the batteries dead? No. No, the alarm had gone off just like it always does. And let me tell you, my alarm is a force to be reckoned with! It goes off with ever-increasing intensity for something like a minute, and it’s loud enough, piercing enough, and painfully shrill enough, to, as the saying goes, wake the dead. To have slept through all THAT was quite the accomplishment.  = )

And it gets worse.

After doing my Bible reading (about 30 minutes), doing my stretches while listening to the first half of The World and Everything In It (15 minutes), glancing at my email (1 minute), and grabbing the outgoing mail, I usually leave the house at 6:00 to go to the fitness center at the RecPlex. This time works well for me for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that when I get there at 6:15, no one is using the one and only seated elliptical that I use. This means I can start my 25 minutes of huffing and sweating as soon as I arrive. There is one other seated elliptical next to “mine,” but it doesn’t work nearly as well for me, and in the past year I’ve only had to use it a couple of (inconvenient) times.

Well, getting up 45 minutes late meant that I arrived at the gym some 35 minutes later than usual (I rushed), and sure enough, a man I didn’t know was using “my” machine. He was very polite and asked if I wanted to use it, but it’s first come, first served, and he’d been on it for five and-a-half minutes, so I said “no, thank you” and then spent several minutes figuring out how to adjust the settings on the less desirable one.

It all worked out okay. I got to do my workout which is what mattered, but here’s what I learned: ALL my choices have consequences; not just the big ones that I stew over and pray about (or don’t). Even the little ones, like staying up late one night. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with staying up late, but I would have done well to think about the potential consequences. What do I want more? To get this certain task done tonight, or to work out on my favorite machine tomorrow? Many times either choice will be fine, but I should be purposeful in my volition, because I may not be able – despite my keen desire – to do both.

God has graciously enabled me to have much, but in some situations, I can’t have  everything I want. Notes to self: Be aware. Choose wisely.

Some old Saturday news

Back in October, I sent an email of home news to Scott when he was out of town. It documented a pretty amazing day, and I’m posting it here, even though it’s old news now, just because I don’t want to lose it.


Dear Scott,
Saturday was an amazing day, much too full to not tell you about, so I will now try to write it up so you can enjoy it too.
2:30 AM – got up
3:15 AM – took you to the airport
5:30 AM – back home, but had a VERY tough time staying awake on the drive; slept till 7:00, then stretched and went to work out and walk to the gate
9:15 AM – 2nd floor cleaning, including my traditional scrubbing of our shower curtain (a distasteful task that I discipline myself to always do on the very first bathroom cleaning after you leave)
Some desk work that I don’t remember
11:00 AM – showered, texted briefly with you
A good deal of planning for errand-running. I needed to go to the PO before it closed at 1:30, and I decided to go ahead and do a lot of shopping things. I wanted to take the printer to Best Buy. My mom’s birthday is coming up. I wanted to get her come coasters and a calendar (things she wanted) and/or maybe some dish towels. Her birthday is 11/5, but I’m going there 10/31, and if I could get the stuff together I could take it rather than ship it. Jessica had sent a list of some gift ideas for her birthday and/or for them for Christmas, and I probably need to get some or most of their Christmas shopping done before they get here. I wanted to go to HH to look for dip and to find out if they carry pretzels for Christmas. I wanted to look for cheap lamps for our house. I needed to get a book for the baby shower for Phillip and Nichole, etc.
So… from 1:00 to 7:00 PM, I made the following stops. (deep breath!)
– post office in Rockaway. When I came out I noticed that the left front tire, which I’ve been looking at in the driveway for several days and wondering whether or not it’s a bit flat (can’t tell for sure on the gravel) seemed to be OK, but the left rear one looked a bit flat (but only on the bottom side), so I thought that at my next stop, maybe I should check the pressure.
– Harter House. Pulled in the lot and decided to check the tire before going in. Finally found something that said they should be 35 psi. Left rear was 12 psi. This was not a good feeling, but there was a…
– gas station right there, so I pulled up to the free air thing and shoved it hard onto the stem and it whooshed but didn’t seem to be making the sound of air going in. In fact, it sounded like air was going out instead, even though I had the things shoved all the way onto the stem. I pulled it off and checked it again. 10 psi. This was a problem. I didn’t panic, but I knew I HAD to get air into that tire ASAP, so I left that gas station and went to…
– the Turkey Creek store (gas station/convenience store in front of Menard’s). I pulled up to their air thing, but something was wrong with it. The end of it just looked like a hose and I couldn’t figure out how to attache it to the stem. I wanted to cry, but did not. I went in and decided to pull out my helpless middle-aged female card. I asked the guy at the counter if they had any way to put air in a tire. He said yes and pointed to where I was parked. I said I had tried but was there anyone who could help me air up my tire? And another customer (45-ish man) said he would. The counter guy handed him a thing that you have to put on the end of the hose in order to hook it to the stem. That’s why I couldn’t do it. This man kindly aired the tire up to 35 psi and then said, “Ma’am, there’s your problem.” And he pointed to a nail in the tread of the tire. It was a good-sized one; the head of it was the size of my finger nail (ring finger). The nail was obviously holding in whatever air was in the tire. I said, “Oh boy. I’ll have to get that fixed, but I can’t take it anywhere till Monday.” It was 2:15 PM on a Saturday. He said, “You really need to get it fixed right away.”  And I replied, “Yeah, but where in Branson could I get that done today?” He straightened up and pointed across the way and said, “Well, there’s Big O Tires right there. They could fix it.” Amazing! And it looked like maybe they were even open. I thanked him for his help. He was so kind to me. Thought I was a tourist but I told him I was local, just not in Branson. Turns out we’re nearly neighbors. He lives in Whitetail Crossing (where the Hills used to live). He was as good as an angel to me. So I drove straight to…
– Big O Tires. They close at 3:00 on Saturdays. They fixed it for me and I had to pay $23.99. That seemed awfully high, but I didn’t really have a choice. I was desperate and I know God was taking care of me.
– Harter House. Got my dip, confirmed pretzels for December, and picked up some other canned goods and staples that were on good prices.
– Apple Tree Mall, up and down all those aisles, where I found these two lamps for $10 each. I will figure out which shades to put on which lamps and where to put them, but they cost less than getting smaller ones at WM. I felt successful. And my tire wasn’t flat on the bottom!  = )
– Calvin’s Used Books, where I looked for kid books but didn’t find what
I wanted. Calvin is much older but just as cheerful as he was 20 years ago. Some things never change.  = )
– Tuesday morning (Branson Meadows), where I saw some coasters, but none that were just right and got some kitchen towels for Mom.
– Kitchen Collection (Branson Meadows), where they had only one kind of coasters (not right) and nothing else useful.
– Best Buy, where I got an employee to carry my printer in while I was parked illegally. I had to wait in line for a short time (hoping my car wouldn’t be ticketed) at the Geek Squad place, because I wanted to get one of their 15% off on a major purchase deals for recycling a printer. The guy at the counter said that it looked like there wouldn’t be a charge today (Gee, thanks!), and handed me a receipt. I looked at it and said, “Is this what gets me the 15% off on a major purchase?” And he had never heard of such a thing. I decided to let it drop. Maybe I’d mis-read something online. But I was parked illegally where the other guy had told me to pull up, and I had a lot of other errands, and I didn’t want to mess with it, and mainly I just wanted the printer gone and it was, so I left.
– Books a Million, where I saw a number of kid books that brought back memories and so many I’d love to give Ezekiel, and got a Frog and Toad book for the baby shower. AH!!! It is one of my joys in life!
– Pier One Imports, where I strongly considered one set of coasters, but passed when I realized they were plastic, although they looked like wood.
– TJ Maxx, where I actually bought a set of wood coasters (made in India!) and found a perfect gift for Ezekiel. = D
– Walmart, where I looked for a calendar for my mom, but they didn’t have any.
So that was 15 stops in 7 hours. I arrived home totally exhausted, but then I entered all those purchases in Quicken.
Once I got all that done, it was late, but I needed to write a trip update, which I did. And then it was 10:30 and I hadn’t put away the groceries yet, but I needed to get up at 5:00 to take BUM so that it would be done before I went to get Virginia, so I went to bed.
The end of Saturday!
Much love,


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!

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!


I like to send birthday and anniversary cards to people I care about, and, being old school, I use the kind that are printed on cardstock; the kind you put a stamp on and send via “snail” mail. However, most of the time I write my cards a month at a time and put sticky notes on them, telling me which day to mail them. That system works well for me because I can pull out my cards and labels and stamps, get on a roll, write the whole next month’s collection of cards in a couple hours, and then not think about doing them again for several weeks. It’s not that I don’t think about the people; I just don’t think about the cards. Well, I do re-read each card the night before I mail it. And I often pray for the person.

Anyway, I did my September cards today. Finishing my cards by the 25th of the month and balancing my checkbook on the 7th are two of my highly satisfying monthly events. I thought I was done with cards when I got to the end of September, but I flipped to October, just to make sure there weren’t any birthdays or anniversaries in the first few days of the month. When there are, and when I forget to flip my Monster Grid paper wall calendar to check the next month, I end up writing those cards late and mailing them late, and then they don’t get to the special person till after his or her special day. Bummer.

It turns out that I do have a friend with a birthday on October 1, so I was relieved that I had flipped, but as I looked over the October calendar, I saw something very strange. October 2 said “Patty Roberts #59,” but October 2 is NOT my birthday! Each year, usually some time in late December or very early January, depending on when our kids are here – being with them is always my priority – I transfer all the birthdays and anniversaries from the old calendar to the new one. Obviously, in January of 2019, I did not remember my own birthday! Silly me, but my trusty STAPLES Correction Tape saved the day. Hopefully my own birthday is the only one that was wrong this year.

A few things I’ve learned

  1. When geocaching, wear long pants, carry a walking stick, and keep a pen in your pocket.
  2. This summer’s weather in Walnut Shade is much like weather in Florida: raining heavily – but briefly – every day.
  3. It is important to hang the Irish Spring around your tomatoes when you first plant them. Waiting a few weeks can have devastating results.
  4. Intermittent problems, whether electronic, physiological, or automotive in nature, can be virtually impossible to solve; with the result that they are infuriatingly maddening.
  5. Two things that are extremely energizing and life-giving for me are getting things done and getting rid of things.

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