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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Catching Up

My goodness, it has been quite awhile since I sat down to chat! There are two French words that seem to fit my condition right now - malaise and ennui.

mal·aise [ mə'leiz, mæ'leiz, mə'lez ]

1. general feeling of being worried or unhappy. a general feeling of being worried, unhappy, or not satisfied
 1a. feeling of being slightly sick. a feeling that you are slightly sick, although you cannot say     what exactly is wrong

2. situation of not operating effectively. a situation in which a society or organization is not operating effectively

en·nui [on’ wi]

a feeling of being bored. a feeling of being bored and having no interest in anything

These definitions are copied from the dictionary references in my MS Word program. When I looked them up in my old dictionary, malaise is more physical and ennui is more the mental state of mind. I am not worried about anything and not exactly unhappy or unsatisifed, and not really sick, but just not up to par. Know what I mean? And I have no reason to be bored as I have plenty of my favorite things around me that I can do, and one is writing my blog. But for some reason I seem to have lost interest in doing much of anything but laze around. It sounds a little like depression, doesn't it? But I have no reason to be depressed either. I do think I can contribute these feeling to one main thing, and that is sugar overdose. I have been eating far too many sweets to be healthy recently. And since I am addicted to sugar, once I start with it, it seems impossible to quit and I just crave more and more. I know it is not impossible to quit as I have done it before, but it is very difficult. And I know that it makes me sluggish both physically and mentally. And it magnifies the physical aches and pains that are always with me.
So anyone with a brain will say, "Then why don't you just quit?" Easier said than done, at least for me. So then I wonder, "Am I deliberately trying to punish myself? Why am I sabotaging myself? I know what I have to do, so why don't I do it?" I wish I had the answer. If I slam the door on my finger, it hurts, and so I try not to do it again. I know sugar hurts me in many ways, so why do I continue to do it? Help! I need to slap myself and wake up right now.
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I have not updated on my garden for awhile either. Let's see, was it a week ago, or more, when I got tired of having the tray of seedlings on top of my kitchen sink? Anyway, the threat of frost was over so I bought some more potting soil and got them planted in pots and tubs out on my patio. I also planted a few green beans and radish seeds, and more flower seeds. I even put the romaine and celery butts in dirt. The romaine is not doing well but the celery seems to be doing ok so far. The 12 tomato plants are doing nothing. Actually there are only about 3 plants that have survived the horrible winds we have had since I planted things. Since the moss roses were so tiny I am not even sure I can find them back. I don't understand why those plants I started inside are not growing at all. The lettuce from seed is also not growing much but they are still green. I did put some radish seed in with the lettuce plants and they all sprouted immediately and are growing like crazy. Can anyone tell me why all the plants that were started inside are doing nothing? So far the strawberries that I planted are doing nothing as well. One morning I saw a squirrel pulling at the cocoa fiber pot liner. It had a huge ball in its mouth at last, then hopped down to the patio table, adjusted the ball in its mouth and took off. No wonder the liner is disappearing!! And now the other day I saw a robin pulling on some of the fiber, then jumped in the planter and sort of nestled in the dirt a bit and left. So now I know why there are depressions in that dirt, too. I love my birds and squirrels, but COME ON! After going to all this work (and it is work for me) I am not so sure I will attempt this again next year. At least not the part of starting seeds early. I think I need to just stick to my needlework. I enjoy that much more, including the results of the hard work. One more thing as far as gardening - I also took my Boston fern and the pot of begonias that I kept in the house all winter and hung them outside on the double shepherd hook. Then it got really windy for several days and beat them all up. I was really proud of how well I kept that fern going all winter, the best I have ever done. I am sure it will come back again but they both are looking pretty sad at the moment. The storm we had Sunday night, with 73 mph winds that broke many trees all over town, and the deluge of rain that came with it, did not help either. But they are still out there on the hooks. Amazing they did not blow away.
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Memorial Weekend was pretty quiet for me, as usual. My two daughters and twin grandkids did come for a few hours on Sunday afternoon. I asked them if they would pick up all the twigs that were in the yard for me, and they ended up with a garbage can full again. But that was before the storm. Now there are many more and larger ones to pick up. At least I was lucky in that they are all dead branches and not half of a green tree like so many in the neighborhood had down. I am very thankful that I was spared.
I am also very thankful to the mystery angel that came and mowed my lawn Saturday evening. I have no idea who did it yet. Hopefully someone will eventually step forward and admit to doing it. But if not, I can still praise the Lord for sending this person. The grass was really getting long and I was dreading the thought of mowing. We had a hot and humid week, plus very windy, and I don't do well with mowing in any of that. The forecast said it would be cooler and dry on Monday so was planning to mow then. The forecast was right, but I didn't have to mow.
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I just got back from a long break. I went out and tackled the limbs and twigs on the lawn in two sessions. I got a large garbage can packed full plus a good stack of the bigger limbs that were too long or thick to get in the can. The two full garbage cans and the stack are all on the south side of my garage, in line where my landlord can plainly see them. I am depending on him to take care of it all. He like to use it for campfire wood. Sure wish he would do the picking up, too, since he gets to use it all, but that isn't going to happen. He can't be blind to seeing how hard it is for me, since he saw me working at it today, but that doesn't seem to matter to him.
Now that I have that job done I am done for the day as well. There are dishes to wash but they will wait for me. And I could do a load of laundry but am not desparate for what is in that load, so that can wait as well. I got the bigger load done on Saturday and that is the one I needed the most, so all is good for now.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Faith Friday (another long one)

This is a copy of an article I wrote for my church newsletter a few months ago. This has been such a busy and tiring week that I have not had the time or energy to work on anything for the blog. We had our early morning Bible study this morning and now I am basically taking the rest of the day off to rest and recuperate as much as possible. There is a mini family reunion tomorrow night with some California relatives and I don't want to show up like a zombie, which is sort of what I feel like today.

I hope this article gives you some food for thought and reflection. I am not sure that I totally got across what I meant to say here but it is the best I could do at the time. I often have so many points in my mind but they don't always show up in the words I say or write. Maybe that is God's way of saying those points are not what He wants me to tell others right now.

Are you Wearing Your Armor Today?

Ephesians in a Nutshell

After looking at the February church newsletter and reading the article on how Satan attacks us, I knew I had to write this. You see, I had been mulling this subject over in my mind for about the last month, thinking that I might write something on it, but also had a couple of other ideas. So seeing last month’s article confirmed that this is what I should do. The previous article is the perfect lead in to what I want to tell you, so I hope you have read it. If not, dig out that copy and check it out, or borrow one if you do not have it anymore.

I know most of you have learned the pieces of armor in Sunday School and maybe some adult Bible studies, but I would like you to take another look at it, and see if you find something new. I know I did when we recently studied the book in my Friday morning group. After we finished the study I kept getting more and more of the full meaning of what Paul was saying to the church at Ephesus, and to us, and that is what I would like to share with you now.

First, we must understand what Ephesus was like at the time Paul wrote this letter. Ephesus was a very large commerce city and a Mecca for Artemis, a popular goddess of the times, as there was a huge shrine for her there and people would come long distances to worship her. There were many magicians practicing their magic, and I don’t mean the kind of magic like pulling a rabbit out of a hat. And there was much witchcraft, casting spells, and all kinds of the occult life. People living there made most of their livelihood making and selling idols of Artemis. In other words, Satan was in control in Ephesus. Is the world any different now? I don’t think so. Just looking at today’s movies, TV shows, and what is on the internet is enough to convince me that Satan has a good foothold on what is happening in this country alone. We don’t have to go to Ephesus to find these things, they come right into our own homes every day. So we need to hear the words of advice from Paul as well.

In spite of the conditions in Ephesus, we find a small group of believers living in the midst of it all. It is quite understandable as to why Paul needed to remind them to ‘stand firm’ and to not give in to Satan’s attacks, right? They are the minority, and probably heavily persecuted by unbelievers. I found it quite interesting that the first thing he tells them is a long list of the things they have in Christ. He reminds them that God chose them to be his adopted children long before creation ever took place. I am now going to change the pronouns of ‘them’ to ‘us’ from here on out. We were chosen, we are adopted into God’s family. We have redemption and forgiveness of sins. We have obtained an inheritance and have been given the Holy Spirit as the seal that we will receive what God promised.

I love to give detailed information but since I said this is a nutshell, I will try to be brief. This seal that God has put on us (the Holy Spirit) is to insure that we will reach our final destination (heaven). It means that Satan cannot thwart God’s plan no matter how hard he tries. And boy, does he try hard! We need to understand Satan’s character – he is a liar and a deceiver. He is the used car salesman that makes a heap of junk sound like a really good car, but when you get it home it falls apart. His lies are so close to the truth that they sound right to us and he catches us unaware. Each and every one of us are vulnerable to his sneaky lies, so it is necessary to know the real truth in order to recognize that they are lies. Paul tells us to expect trials and tribulation. Just because we are sealed with the Holy Spirit does not mean we will have a perfect, peaceful life. We are living in a world that hates God and all who are His, so they will be tough on us as well. We will have to stand up to them and their accusations.

Paul says we need to walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Think about being part of the royal family, which we are, and how we represent that family, and to act accordingly. So what does that look like? Paul goes into a long list of things that are part of our sinful nature that we are to ‘put off’, the things we all know are wrong – lying, cheating, etc. Instead we are to ‘put on’ the new nature that He gives us, created in righteousness and true holiness.

We, as a church body, are to work together in peace as we all believe in the same God, have the same Holy Spirit, and we believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior. We should not be arguing and fighting amongst ourselves. When we do that we look just like the rest of the world. But even more than that it gives the devil a chance to get his foot in the door, and then we can end up getting in deeper than we wanted to.

Then Paul talks about personal lives. We need to make sure our marriage is good. We are to not only keep ourselves in good shape, but take care of our spouse as well. Both partners have to work at keeping the marriage and present a solid foundation so that Satan can’t come in like the wolf and blow the house down. Then he talks about the relationship between parents and children. At your job, do good work, put in your full time doing the work and not goofing off. If you are the boss, treat your workers with respect.

Now, Paul finally gets to the point of his message. Ephesians 6:10 says, “Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.”  If we try to stand against the devil with our own strength, we can’t do it as we are much weaker than Satan is. That is why we need to put on the armor. Who gives us this armor? God does. And we need to put on every piece of that armor in order to stand against the devil’s wiles.

I can bet that most of you can rattle off the list of those pieces of armor – belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of the gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up the emphasis seemed to be on the belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet and sword, not what they represented. We don’t actually put on such things. The most important thing to remember is that God has given us many things to stand firm against the devil. We just need to put them on. And those things are truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God. There is one more piece that is not given a name and that is prayer. We could call that our ‘walkie-talkie’. It is our direct connection to the general commander of the army – God.

So how does this all apply to us? First, we need to know the truth that is in God’s word so that we can discern the truth from deception. Read the Bible and study it. Righteousness – right living, doing the right thing even if others aren’t. The breastplate guards the heart.  Jesus gave us His righteousness on the cross since we are not righteous in ourselves. But we can do our best to live as God wants us to, and the more we practice that, the less we have to consciously think about doing the right thing because it has become a habit. Peace – we need to be at peace with ourselves, others and especially with God. If we are not getting along with any one of these three, the door is open for attack. There is a chink in our armor where one of the devil’s arrows can pierce through. Satan will always attack at the weakest point and that is why we need to make sure we have put on all the armor.

Faith is called the shield for good reason. We need to hold our faith out in front of us like a shield. It should be easy for others to see our faith, and to hold on to it when we are having some really tough times. We depend on that faith to carry us through that battle line. It is our faith that puts out the fiery arrows. Where does our faith come from? God. Remember I said God has given us the armor.

Salvation – naturally we know that God has given us that. We just need to remember that when we are attacked. God has already saved us and given us eternal life. Jesus has defeated death and Satan, and freed us from the grip of both. Then we can pick up that sword of the Spirit and stand firm and defend ourselves. To me, the sword of the Spirit means that the Spirit will give us specific words from the Bible to use against Satan. Remember that Jesus used God’s word against him when he was tempted in the wilderness, and Satan had to walk away.

And remember the last thing, the prayers that keep you connected to God. They should be constant, not only during a difficult time, but at any time.

How about you? Do you have your armor on today? I hope you are reminded of these things when you have a problem, big or small.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Faith Friday (long)

What's so amazing about grace? We all know and probably have sung the song "Amazing Grace." But do we really understand what we are singing? Do we understand what grace is? I think we need to know what it means in order to understand just how amazing it is.

I just finished reading the book "What's So Amazing About Grace?" by Philip Yancey. I have about 11 flags sticking out of the book where there are statements that got my attention. There are really many more than what I flagged - a very thought provoking book that all should read. It has been around awhile and was voted book of the year. I don't know which year but it was published in 1997 so it has probably been read by many before I was able to borrow the book and read it. If it were not borrowed I would have many sentences underlined.

On the inside cover someone wrote the following, "Grace is the church's great distinctive. It's the one thing the world cannot duplicate and the one thing it craves above all else -- for only grace can bring hope and transformation to a jaded world." Without grace, where would we be? What would we be? I hate to even think about not having grace.

Philip points out that all of Jesus' parables point to grace and tries to explain just what grace is. And he talks about the 'unfairness' of grace. Think about it. Look at the parable of the farmer who hires some men to help with the harvesting in the last hour of the day, while other workers had been working the whole day. These last men hired had just been hanging around the town square all day, doing nothing. And yet, at the end of the day, the employer pays all the workers exactly the same wages, whether they worked all day or just the last hour. Talk about unfair! At least the workers who toiled all day thought it very unfair, as would we.

" Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?"

Philip writes, "Jesus' story makes no economic sense, and that was his intent. He was giving us a parable about grace, which cannot be calculated like a day's wages. Grace is not about finishing last or first; it is about not counting. We receive grace as a gift from God, not as something we toil to earn, a point that Jesus made clearly through the employer's response."

Philip goes on to say that many Christians who read this parable identify with the employees who put in a full day's work, rather than the men hired toward the end of the day. We like to think of ourselves as responsible workers, putting in the full time required, and so deserve the full pay. And the late-comers do not deserve to be paid the same as we do. So we immediately say, "That's not fair!"  He continues with, "We are missing the story's point: that God dispenses gifts, not wages. None of us gets paid according to merit, for none of us comes close to satisfying God's requirements for a perfect life. If paid on the basis of fairness, we would all end up in hell."

Grace is again explained in the parable of the servant that had a huge debt to pay, so huge that it was impossible for him to ever pay it back, and yet the king is touched with pity and cancels the debt, letting the servant off scot-free. The servant must have been overwhelmed with gratitude, right? But then, he turns around and demands payment from a colleague who owes him just a few dollars, and ends up having him thrown in jail for not being able to pay. What an ingrate! He had just received a tremendous gift of grace, but he could not extend a small amount of grace to another.

So now I have to stop and think. I must remind myself of the wonderful grace God has given me by not making me pay for my sins. Do I extend grace to those who have hurt me in some way? Another word for it is forgiveness. What do we pray in the Lord's prayer? "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us." Hmmmm. Do I forgive those who have offended me? Do I forgive the clerk that overcharged me? Have I forgiven the person that said some words that hurt me?

Those are small things compared to the stories we hear about the father who forgave the man who killed his daughter, and there have been many other similar stories in the news, and we wonder how they could possible forgive someone for such a heinous crime against them. And yet they do. They do with the help of God. And the grace they extend to the guilty often has amazing results and we see a changed person. He still must pay for the crime, but he knows he has received a great gift of grace. So why do I hold a grudge for something so small as a few hurtful words?

On another page I marked this paragraph -- "Grace makes its appearance in so many forms that I have trouble defining it. I am ready, though, to attempt something like a definition of grace in relation to God. Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more -- no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciations, no amount of knowledge gained from seminaries and divinity schools, no amount of crusading on behalf of righteous causes. And grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less -- no amount of racism or pride or pornography or adultery or even murder. Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possible love." (italics - Philips, underlines are mine)

Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, and nothing we can do to make God love us less. There is nothing I can do to earn that grace, and nothing I can do for God to take it away. "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so." All little children know that song, but it is the adults who request that song more than any other. It is all I need to know. Jesus loves me. Jesus loves me, warts and all, when I am at my worst, while I am a sinner and not a saint. Jesus loves me. How do I know? Because the Bible tells me so.

Another page says this, "Tony Campolo sometimes asks students at secular universities what they know about Jesus. Can they recall anything Jesus said? By clear consensus they reply, "Love your enemies." More than any other teaching of Christ, that one stands out to an unbeliever. Such an attitude is unnatural, perhaps downright suicidal. It's hard enough to forgive your rotten brothers, as Joseph did, but your enemies? The gang of thugs down the block? Iraqis? The drug dealers poisoning our nation?

Most ethicists would agree instead with the philosopher Immanuel Kant, who argued that a person should be forgiven only if he deserves it. But the very word forgive contains the word "give" (just as the word pardon contains donum, or gift). Like grace, forgiveness has about it the maddening quality of being undeserved, unmerited, unfair."

And other statement, "One day I discovered this admonition from the apostle Paul tucked in among many other admonitions in Romans 12. Hate evil, Be joyful, Live in harmony, Do not be conceited -- the list goes on and on. Then appears this verse, "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay.' says the Lord."

At last I understood: in the final analysis, forgiveness is an act of faith. By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am. By forgiving, I release my own right to get even and leave all issues of fairness for God to work out.  I leave in God's hands the scales that must balance justice and mercy."

In another place Philip says, "First, forgiveness alone can halt the cycle of blame and pain, breaking the chain of ungrace. In the New Testament the most common Greek word for forgiveness means, literally, to release, to hurl away, to free yourself."

I like that thought - to release, to hurl away, to free yourself. That is what forgiveness does. It does not condone the bad behavior or wrong done to us, nor is it done for the person who committed the offense. But forgiveness is for ourselves. We are releasing it, freeing ourselves, hurling it away. Hurling. To me that means throwing it as far as we can throw it. Of course, the trick it to not run after it and pick it up again! I can be pretty good at that sometimes. Philip goes on to say that he readily admits that forgiveness is unfair.

Moving on, Philip talks about legalism and trying to attain to ideal perfection, and I like this statement - "A man who professes an external law is like someone standing in the light of a lantern fixed to a post. It is light all around him, but there is nowhere further for him to walk. A man who professes the teaching of Christ is like a man carrying a lantern before him on a long, or not so long, pole: the light is in front of him, always lighting up fresh ground and always encouraging him to walk further.

In other words, the proof of spiritual maturity is not how "pure" you are but awareness of your impurity. That very awareness opens the door to grace." (underlining mine)

Further on in the book, Philip gets back to who is my enemy. "The abortionist? The Hollywood producer polluting our culture? The politician threatening my moral principles? The drug lord ruling my inner city? If my activism, however well-motivated, drives out love, then I have misunderstood Jesus' gospel. I am stuck with law, not the gospel of grace."

In his last chapter he states - " Having begun with questions -- What's so amazing about grace and why don't Christians show more of it? -- I now end with a final question: What does a grace-full Christian look like?

Perhaps I should rephrase the question, How does a grace-full Christan look? The Christian life, I believe, does not primarily center on ethics or rules but rather involves a new way of seeing. I escape the force of spiritual "gravity" when I begin to see myself as a sinner who cannot please God by any method of self-improvement or self-enlargement. Only then can I turn to God for outside help -- for grace-- and to my amazement I learn that a holy God already loves me despite my defects. I escape the force of gravity again when I recognize my neighbors also as sinners, loved by God. A grace-full Christian is one who looks at the world through "grace-tinted lenses." "

The following I think is a neat picture --
"Strangely, God is closer to sinners than to "saints." (By saints I mean those people renowned for their piety--true saints never lose sight of their sinfulness.) As one lecturer in spirituality explains it, "God in heaven holds each person by a string. When you sin, you cut the string. Then God ties it up again, making a knot--and thereby bringing you a little closer to him. Again and again your sins cut the string--and with each further knot God keeps drawing you closer and closer." "

One final thought -- "Once my view of myself changed, I began to see the church in a different light too: as a community of people thirsty for grace."

There is so much more in the book that is worth reading. I encourage you to find a copy and read it. I would love to hear what caught your attention and your thoughts on it. I know it has made me appreciate God's grace all the more, and to remember to offer grace to others.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I need help this morning. I am procrastinating big time again. It is days like this when it would be wonderful to have a partner again - a man to get outside and do the work out there so that I can concentrate on inside work that needs to be done. I have come to the conclusion that it is those two things that are keeping me behind all the time. I so often procrastinate because I don't have the energy I used to have, plus I know I will suffer later, especially with lawn mowing. And, when I used to be able to keep up with things, I had a husband who did the outside work on the yard, and keeping vehicles clean and in good shape. My last husband even liked to cook and wash dishes, and he always took out the garbage, not only from the house to the garbage can in the garage, but then took it all to the curb for weekly pick-up. But now I have all those duties added to my household duties. I don't like it!

I would like to use that time and energy to work on my sewing and other craft and needlework, to work at decluttering and a little redecorating, painting and refinishing furniture, cooking and baking, and the list goes on. I would like to be able to do that instead of being so tired all the time. Now I know there are other widows and single women my age that have never been married, and they seem able to get it all done. But it seems that I am not one of them. I don't like it. I don't mind being alone so much, but I would still love to have someone around to help with the work and the fun, someone to give me a hug when I need one, someone to perk up my spirits when I feel a bit low, someone to make me laugh till it hurts. Sigh. Sigh again.

But that is not going to happen, so I guess I better get started and see how much I can get done today. According to Flylady, this is Anti-procrastination Day, so I better take heed and get off my keister, get dressed, and start moving.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It Has Been Awhile

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Tell me where time goes. Like the old Timex commercial ~ it keeps on ticking, no matter what. I didn't realize that it has been a week since I posted last until I checked just now. Busy? Yes, at least some days were busy. Tired? A definite YES on that one! I have basically been either busy or too tired for my brain to think about writing much of anything. The lack of posts both here and in my groups are proof of that. Even now I am having a hard time getting motivated to motate. I sit here looking out my window and watching a small rabbit feeding on the neighbor's lawn, and about 5 robins searching for their mid-morning feasts, as well as one blackbird. And now, so quickly, the birds have left and the rabbit went scurrying further to the east and onto the next neighbor's yard. Come back, my feathered and furry friends! I love watching you!

I have been thinking about posting here on several occasions. Honestly I have. I have something I was going to work on for Faith Friday -- this past Friday. But was unable to get to it. It will be coming yet, and hopefully in time for this Friday. Today, what I am writing is unplanned. I am just writing whatever comes to my mind.

A little bit about the past week. Last Thursday I drove to a town 35 miles away to meet some of my high school girlfriends for lunch. We just started doing this since the first of this year, after celebrating our 50th class reunion last summer, and we try to get together once every two months. All the gals that live within driving distance try to come. This time there were four of us. Another had planned to come but she was not feeling well, and another had to cancel at the last minute as her son and family decided to come early for the weekend. These are such fun as we each remember different things that happened during our school years and it is really hard to break away to get back to our 'other life' of today.

Once I was home again, I knew that I could not delay mowing my yard, so changed clothes and started. Naturally this day got a bit warm and the humidity had really come up, so it was hard for me to push that mower, but there was just no getting out of it. I did manage to get half of it done, and decided the rest would just have to wait until tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning came. I had a few things to do inside before I headed out to finish mowing. I was just about ready to get my mowing shoes on when a lady from church drove in. My thought was, "My house is such a mess! I don't need company right now." But she just stopped to drop off a bag of rhubarb for me. We had just talked about that in church that Sunday, and she had gone out to get some for herself, and cut more just for me. I thank God for the little gifts He brings me! I have since made a rhubarb crumble dessert and still have plenty left for other goodies, which I will have to make very soon. This friend had not shut off her car when she stopped so I knew she was not planning to come in (another gift since my house was such a mess from being gone, etc).

I was finally able to get out and start mowing just before 11 am. It took me almost an hour to get the last of the yard done. I had a piece about 4x5' left and I ran out of gas. Literally. My body was also out of gas and I wanted to go sit and be done, but the mower also started to sputter. A good thing that I was fairly close to the garage and the gas can so didn't have to walk too far to get it. And then I was done! Hallelujah! Now can you guess? I looked at the lawn yesterday morning and thought, "That grass needs to be mowed already!" Monday. Just 3 days since I mowed it. How can that be?? Well, we have had lots of rain in the last while and that grass is now making up time for being so dry earlier this spring. I am holding off on mowing though. I refuse! I am going to make it wait until tomorrow.

So, all that mowing two days in a row took its toll on my body and I needed at least a couple of days to recoup. That also means I did not do much cleaning either. I did manage to get that rhubarb crumble made and a bunch of dishes washed, but all the carpeting needs to have a really good vacuuming. I am beginning to see wads of cat hair showing up all over. I guess Felix is shedding his winter coat. I also believe he is losing more hair than usual for spring and I think it may be the cheaper cat food I had been feeding him. So recently I got a bag of a little higher quality and hope that helps in the future. But for now, I really must get to vacuuming.

Another reason for my being so tired are a couple of very short nights. We have had a few nights when severe thunderstorms were predicted to happen in the middle of the night. And they did roll through, though most of the worst storms went around us. We did still get some rain and a little wind, but no twisters or hail here in town. Saturday night was one of those nights. I woke up shortly before 2 am for a bathroom call, and all was quiet. No storms had been through here yet. So thought I would turn on the tv and see what was on radar, and found out the weather service had just issued a severe thunderstorm warning for right here! The front line was approacing a main highway that is just 2 miles west of town so it was as good as here. Well, no going back to bed now! They were talking 60 mph winds, heavy rain and 1/2 dollar size hail! It turned out not to bad quite that bad, and no hail again in town. Not sure if there was any reported outside of town either. No wind damage that I know of either, but some heavy rain for a brief period. By then, though, I was so wide awake and ended up watching last week's shows that I had taped until 7:30! Then I was finally sleepy enough that I thought I might be able to sleep for awhile, and went to bed. And I slept until almost 9, which is the time I normally leave for church. Needless to say I didn't even try to make it there. I was afraid if I did I might fall asleep during the service, and that would not be a good thing! I don't like to miss the services but in this case it just seemed best.

Yesterday, when I finally was able to sit down at the computer I discovered I had no internet service. Now what is wrong? Computer was working fine, but could not connect to the internet. So I couldn't read my email, post anything to my blog, do my daily puzzles on the internet, or any of the other things I normally check daily. The next thing is to call the company. No phone service either! I checked all the connections and they all looked fine. They all worked just before I went to bed the night before, and we had no storms during the night, nor was anything touched or changed. This is when having a cell phone really comes in handy. I asked the girl at the company if they had any other calls from town about a phone outage, and she said I was the only one. Talked to the techie and he could see I was offline but couldn't fix it, so had to write up a repair order and said someone would be out later. I never did see the repair truck come around so they must have been able to fix it at another location. I called them at 10:30 and it was finally back on between 2 pm and 3:30 pm, as that is when I noticed it was working again. I am so glad it was fixed again as that evening a long time friend called, who I had not talked to in  several months. We had a nice long chat of about 75 minutes, catching up with each other and each of our kids and grandkids, and our common friends.

I think I have procrastinated with that vacuuming long enough. The morning will soon be gone and I have yet to get dressed. So no more delays. I am off! I may not be running, since I can't do that anymore, but I can get moving. Until next time. . . . .

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Frustrations and Money Woes

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Yesterday was a big shopping day. I had to get my prescriptions refilled, fill the gas tank, and get groceries and some other necessities. Came home broke and worn out. I kept to my list for the most part, only picking up a couple extra cans for a pizza-wich recipe I like and can be frozen, making many meals for me. But then, I forgot to buy eggs. I was almost done shopping and happened to think of them, but instead of heading to the far end of the aisles to pick up a dozen, I headed straight for the checkout and totally forgot them again. I behaved myself as far as leaving the sweet snacks alone, except for finding two small angel food loaves on the day-old rack for 60 cents each. Since I had some fresh strawberries I thought this would be a nice addition for making strawberry shortcake. And that means whipped cream! I prefer the Cool Whip brand as I think it tastes better, and holds up better than the cheaper store brands. But I had not tried the Great Value brand at Walmart, and it was about 60 cents cheaper than Cool Whip, so bought the GV brand and give it a try. I am happy with most GV products that I have tried. (And no, WM is not paying me to say this.) One of the loaves will go in the freezer.

After also getting vitamin supplements that I was running out of, and cat food plus a couple other needed items, I ended up spending $153.35. And I had already spent $16.68 at Fareway for fresh produce, and $40 for gas, and $38 for prescriptions, bringing me about $10 over my budget for the month! And I still have to buy eggs and will need to get some milk in the next 30 days as I only bought 1/2 gallon yesterday. So which budget item will I 'steal' from? If this keeps up, I will keep digging the hole deeper and deeper. So I guess I will have to give in and take more money out of my investments.

To add to my frustration, I discovered I had been overcharged by $3 at the drugstore, and all I bought were my prescriptions. I am sure it was an honest mistake and the clerk happened to hit the 7 key instead of the 4 key, and didn't notice it. So back to the store I go today. Thank goodness it is in town here and I don't have to drive to the next town where I shopped for the other things. What is really aggravating about this is that this is the third time in as many shopping trips where I have been overcharged! The first time it was by $4.10 and I got that back on the next shopping trip. The second time it was around $1 so I didn't bother with that one, and now this one for $3. All this is even more frustrating since I am trying to keep my expenses down and within my income. The one good thing is that gas had come down 20 cents since I last filled up, which I had not expected since the news media kept telling us it would be $5 by summer. Yesterday I paid $3.599 for super unleaded (10% ethanol).

Arts and Amusements

(I just realized I never published this post which I meant to do a couple weeks ago, so here it is now.)

I am borrowing one of the titles for the theme of the day used in my favorite internet group. I hope that is okay. If not, one of you please let me know. And I enjoy Terri's blog with the various topics for each dayj, which is sort of like reading a newspaper or magazine with the same features that are in every issue. Since I like that format I hope to do something similar, though my topics will be different. And they may even change as the mood hits me.

For today, my mind is on my needlework projects of the past. It has to be the past projects as I am not working on any needlework at this time, not even the knit caps I am almost always working on and which are donated to Goodwill Industries for their annual Christmas Shoe Parties. Every year I also make an afghan or two to donate to my church's annual fund-raiser auction with the proceeds going to help pay off our debt of building a new handicap accessible fellowship hall. For the 2012 auction that took place February 1, I ended up making three. One was a knit baby blanket, one a variegated blue/lavendar crocheted afghan, and then I had a special order by a member that wanted an off white afghan to use when she was sitting on her new window seat, either reading or watching the birds and squirrels outside. She intended to bid on that until it was hers, no matter how much she had to pay for it. Below are the pictures of those three. They are not such good pictures because I had forgotten to take the pictures before I took them to church, so had to run down there with the camera later to get them taken before the auction started.

Above is the knit baby blanket. This is a quick and easy pattern using just 3 colors. To get the shaded stripes 3 strands of yarn are used throughout, then doing a number of rows with all peach, changing to 2 peach and one white, to 1 peach and 2 white, then all 3 white, then 2 white and 1 green, etc. It is done on large needles and simple knitting of each row. Very easy and quick. If memory serves correctly, I think the high bid was $45. Not an exceptional amount for this type of auction, but not a bad price either. I am sure whoever got it had to love it as I used a very soft yarn, and knit is always softer than crocheted in my opinion. I have to apologize to Julie who is holding the blanket since all you can see of her are her feet and the top of her head from the eyes up. LOL

The details of the blue/lavendar afghan can be seen a little in this picture. This is regular Red Heart yarn and crocheted. I think it brought around $60. I have seen them go much higher, but another woman donated 10-12 afghans this year, all the same pattern, just different color combinations. That was too much of a good thing for one year, and so none sold as well as they should.

This off-white heart crocheted afghan is the special order, though she only specified the color and not the pattern. It was done in 3 strips and then sewn together. It was fun to make and I love the way it turned out. This was the big money maker. The lady that got it paid around $275. But the auctioneer always picks one handmade item each year to have the bidders donate $25 per 'bid' and there were a lot of those bids. It ended up bringing in $1,000!! It totally floored me and thrilled me! It is the only one they announced who made it. Most years at least one of my afghans brings in some good money but never anything like that! And each year after the auction I wonder what pattern I can use to try to top the one from the year before. That is the hardest part! A few weeks later on a Sunday morning, the lady that bought it showed me a picture of the afghan on her window seat, and it fit in very well. She is thrilled with it, and says it is nice and warm while she is curled up there to read. I am pleased and very thankful that she is happy with it and that it raised that money for the church. Anyone have some ideas on what to do for next year?

Arts & Amusement

Here is a needlework project that is my pride and joy.

This is a counted cross-stitch project I did several years ago, and probably my best work of this type. So I thought it needed to be professionally framed. I couldn't get a good picture without the flash glare so try to ignore it. My lovely Boston fern is in the foreground - the one I almost killed off a couple winters ago. It is flourishing now, thank goodness. Last summer I hung it outside where it really took off, and I managed to keep it going this winter by putting it in a different spot in the house, and taking it to the bathtub and giving it a good shower and soaking quite often. 

 Here is one close-up that shows the details better, and the one below is just a little closer but the flash glare covers up a bit more of the stitching. I tried taking without the flash but the picture came out fuzzy, even though the light was good.

I have given away many of my projects as gifts but this one I am keeping! I hope my kids will keep this as a family heirloom. I should take pictures of the other ones I have and post those later.

Garden - Day 27

 We continue to grow! Look how tall the romaine is getting. The tallest one is one of the first three that I started. The next two taller ones are from the last 3 started, as is the shorter one in front of them. The celery is looking bright and green as well. The butt that was used to start it is slowly rotting away from the outside. I am wondering if I should put it in dirt now, or just leave in the water?

 A close-up of the impatiens doing well. There are more plants starting to emerge finally. The moss roses remain very fine and hard to see but they are growing and more and more coming up there as well.

This picture shows how tall the tomatoes and lettuce are getting. Looking pretty good, I think. I am hoping to get my outdoor pots and tub filled with dirt this week as the days and nights are warming up again.