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today is Nov. 29...

Sunday, November 29, 2015
...which is my mom's birthday. She died in 2009. I've been thinking about her all day, mostly because it is her birthday. I would call her and sing the Birthday Song if I could. It was a difficult relationship at best, and she could be a hard person get close to if she choose to keep you at arm's length. But if she wanted to befriend you, you knew you had a devoted friend for life.

I try to remember to put a little memorial notice in the hometown paper every year to celebrate her birthday, as well as a notice close to the day she died in January. Usually there is a sweet poem, or interesting quote or a meaningful Bible verse, along with a photo. But this year, the wording after her name and the dates, just said 'we love you'.

I was talking to a customer today who is 'way too chatty, always provides too much information about her family and personal matters. She was talking about her mom who came over and brought food on Thanksgiving - that she would not eat, and put in the trash, saying her mom does not keep her house very clean. Sort of 'trash talking' about her mom, who I know and: yes, she might be a tad off-center.

I know people like that, and am very wary of eating anything that comes out of the kitchen of a person who does not keep counters and floors relatively clean, or licks the spoon repeatedly while stirring. But I wanted to tell her: 'my mom's gone, you need to try to be more thankful while yours is still around.' So if you still got your mom, you should stop what you are doing, and call her - right now.

amusing four year old...

Friday, November 27, 2015
... belonging to the adult kids of my cousin. I saw the cousin briefly, yesterday when we were both in Decatur not celebrating Thanksgiving together. But in almost in the same place at the same time, close enough to have a little visit while we were holiday'ing with progeny, now fully functioning adults.

She always has photos of grandchildren to share, and occasionally a funny story. We saw a short video she had saved from when the son, wife and little peoples were visiting her home in October. That cute little girl has obviously been carefully observing as adults have been reading story books. In the video, the four year old sat in a chair, with the book in her lap, open for the viewers to see the illustrations, and proceeded to 'read' her made up story to  her audience. It was an adult book, meaning one with lots of text and very few pages that would interest the non-reader. Yet she proceeded to 'read' it to her 2 year old brother, expecting and assuming he would be totally riveted by her tale. She was so serious and determined to have him pay attention, it was hilarious.

Then her grandmother told about another time when the four year old was telling story, completely out of her fertile imagination. Making it all up out of her head, as best we know. It went on and on and on and the little one kept rambling about the characters she had invented. Then it suddenly came to an unexpected end, when she reported: "and then the government shut down". Where in the world did that come from? Obviously something she picked up from conversations amongst adults. As my mom would say:  'Little pitchers have big ears'... which means... I have no idea, but surely applicable here.....

dead days...

... is the week between Thanks/Fall break and finals for schools on the semester system. Apparently a period of time when instructors are limited in what they can demand from students headed into the final stretch. No papers or projects due during that week to give students a little breather, before they start cramming info. into their brains for the testing period that determines pass or fail. This is all new to me, such an oldster my higher education was done back during the 'quarter' era, as opposed to the more current/in vogue semester plan.

I thought dead days, or dead week, was that time between Christmas and New Years when you could take a deep breath and slowly exhale, without feeling like you needed to be more productive. A time when the hustle and bustle was over,  holiday shopping and gift giving were history. When there is nothing that desperately needs attention, no busy-ness on the agenda with a sense of urgency attached.  All that is left is the slowly creeping dread of knowing the credit card bill will eventually slip through the mail slot and it will be time to pay the piper.

I heard a hilarious message from someone on our church staff several years ago, based on 'dead week', when most of his fellow workers were taking vacation time, and he got left to prepare a sermon for the Sunday that fell in the middle of those two holidays. We were amused by a clip from the movie "Princess Bride", with Billy Crystal using blacksmith bellows to bring someone back to life. Though the person in question appeared corpse-like, the character Billy played insisted only 'nearly dead', and proceeded to bring the lifeless back from the great beyond. I continually hope to get a replay of that message each year, when we get to the Sunday that occupies a space in 'dead week'.

Eternally optimistic, always hoping church will be amusing as well as informative and enlightening...

over the river...

Thursday, November 26, 2015
...and through the woods... (delete the river part). Getting ready to travel for Thanksgiving lunch. Looking forward to family gathering. Having said to lots of customers in the workplace how sweet it is to have all your favorite people sit down to a meal. Can't think of anything I enjoy more. See there: it don't take much to make me happy.

I finished my squash casserole last night and put it in the oven just now. Had a hard time deciding how much to make - it's really good leftover, and I could easily eat it for lunch for a week. But only have a small 9 x 9 casserole dish, so hope that will be enough to feed the group that will show up with napkins tucked under their chins.

The pumpkin pie has been in the freezer for a couple of days, ready to travel. I actually made three. Came in from work yesterday with the intention of making two more, to give away to friends. So I stirred them up and delivered one to a friend who works at church, and the other to a couple who host community group/home church each week. Saying 'you can eat too much and still have room for a slice of pie, since it is mostly air'.

I had decided to make a couple more pies, and knew I did not want to stand in that interminable check out line. The place where people appear to not know Turkey Day is coming until the day before it arrives. So they all come barreling in the grocery store on the Wed. before Thurs. and buy these huge frozen turkeys  that take days to thaw. Somehow expecting to feed the crowd twenty-four hours later. Grocery carts brimming with enough to feed a battalion.

 I got my pie ingredients when I went in to work at 6:00.  And walked to the front of the store to pay as soon as they unlocked the front door at 7:00 (this from the person who swore to not to be buying food/ingredients on the day before Thanksgiving), so I would not be gnashing my teeth behind customers who had hundreds of dollars worth of goods. And was fortunately out of there before noon, at home stirring up the wonderful fluffy pumpkin pie to share with friends.

too suspenseful...

...a couple of movies I have taken myself to recently. One was yesterday, when I went to a matinee to see the latest (and I assume the final installment of the series) version of 'Hunger Games'. It may be due to my not watching television, and out of the habit of anxiety over invented/scripted crises. Or it could be that I am person who is just not well suited to worrying about things I cannot control. (Like the man I live with who frets over weather conditions and things going on all over the planet weather-wise that he sees on TV and can do nothing about except talk and worry.

I'm assuming it was the end of the story, since two of the major players died - and there is finally peace in the kingdom, with a ruler that everyone agreed upon. But there were places in the movie, sitting there in the dark, on about the fourth row, right in the middle too close to the screen so I could not duck down and hide from danger: I thought of leaving. I wanted to see it, wanted to know what was going on, but while it was happening I was really uncomfortable. Not wanting to insert 'spoiler' here, I will not give details, but there was a point when they were underground, in the dark and up to their necks in water, listening to creepy sounds, when I am pretty sure my hears skipped a beat or too.

The other movie recently viewed was The Martian. I think I knew the screenplay was based on a book. And now know I should have read the book instead, so I could just put in a book mark and walk away when I needed a breather! Like being shipwrecked times a gazillion. Knowing you will die from a thousand different problems - just not knowing which one will the that final zinger that will do you in. The character played by Matt Damon was a remarkably resourceful guy, as is anyone who qualifies for the astronaut program. But there were times when I thought: I need to be able to exhale and slow my pulse, breathe in and out, relax from all these problems piling on top of each other.

It all worked out in the end. He lived to mentor the next generation of potential space travelers. But it was maybe the sort of thing I should be viewing from the safety of my couch, cozily ensconced in the comfort of my own home. Protected from all dangers that scriptwriters dream up. Where I can cover my head with the blanket if necessary.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015
... is a non-profit I have been supporting for a couple of years. Making loans to people who are trying to improve their lives, and provide for their families. How it works: www.Kiva.com  (501c) serves as the 'middle man',a go-between that connects the haves with the have-nots. The individuals, or possibly groups of people, in places who do not have the means or access to traditional banks, will contact Kiva and provide information about themselves. And share plans/goals they have for their small business or cottage industry.

These individuals, the people asking for support, will be doing things like operating a lawn maintenance business, or running a small store from the front room of their homes. Maybe wanting to start raising livestock: chickens, pigs, beef, rabbits to sell to neighbors as a source of protein, and need fencing and food for their animals. Possibly wanting to purchase yard goods for sewing clothing, or an industrial sewing machine to produce goods faster.  But needing financial resources to get the tools for success.

I think I have loaned out the same $25 eight or nine times, and it keeps coming back. It's kinda' like "Flat Stanley" and his travels: my money has been to Samoa, Peru, and Kenya in Africa. I get a notice when my funds have been repaid, with the Kiva team asking me to put it back in circulation and send it out again. I tend to loan to females and often filter to find people who are sewing or doing native crafts for sale. Just personal preference.

I need to give credit to my kids for telling me about Kiva. I have long been interested in the principle of  micro-loans. I also believe that women with dependents, who are trying to run a business to provide for their families are likely to be reliable, dependable, and smart money managers. My twenty five dollars that has circled the globe several times is less than lunch money for the week. I say: why not brown-bag it, and put your funds into a Kiva loan?

We are so amazingly blessed, living here in under the protection of the US Constitution. In warm safe homes, with electricity and clean potable water on demand. Lots to be thankful for...


Monday, November 23, 2015
...is not seasonal event with me. I can always find something that I consider an opportunity to count my blessings. Usually little inconsequential mundane things that we seldom take the time to notice. If you have been reading for a while, you are aware of periodic musings that reflect on some of those things we tend to 'take for granted' until some thing occurs to catch our attention, make us aware.

Today, I wrote in my Little Book of Thankfulness this morning that I am thankful for: hot water heaters and indoor plumbing. I plugged in my little electric space heater that does a super job of warming the bathroom before I have to peel my layers off. And had nearly instant hot water when I started the shower. Surely you can bring to mind any number of places in the world where people do not have hot water on demand. Or potable water at all, walking great distances to a source where the water is not safe to drink, and hauling it daily to use for washing, cooking, drinking, basic necessities. Where in our culture, we have come to expect fresh safe water on demand.

When I got to work, I told my boss abut my Little Book of Thankfulness. Reporting he is in my book: how thankful I am for a manager who is an agreeable, reasonable, pleasant person to work for. He agreed that he has worked under people who could be difficult, demanding and hard to deal with.

This afternoon, I had a phone call. A story about someone who had a relative who got a DUI last night and spent the night in jail. So  in addition to all of the above: I am thankful for young adult daughters who do not drink to excess or much at all, and certainly do not drink and drive. And did not spend the night in jail sobering up - or call me to come and get them out. Also thankful for daughters who do not find themselves employed in places where they are required to take their clothes off to earn a living.