Tag Archives: Autumn

Okay, So I Didn’t Lose the Weight

Image by Julita from Pixabay.

My summer dieting resolutions have proved as successful as last January’s, despite my good intentions.

Daylight saving time is more conducive to exercise, I said. I’d shed winter weight like a parka.

Summer gardens produce tons of fresh veggies. Fruit, a nutritious food that actually tastes good, abounds. Easier to eat skinny, right?

I implemented self-scare tactics: Beaches would sound a bloat-float warning upon my arrival.

Other aids would help my effort. Spending hours in endless construction zones would create a slow burn, turning calories to ashes.

Plus, the stars were in weight-loss alignment. Stars or satellites? Not sure. I’m not picky about astronomy.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay.

I did consume fresh veggies. Also, berries, cherries, peaches and watermelon. And, um, ice cream.

Come on, I live three blocks from Ivanhoe’s, a legendary drive-in touted by The Huffington Post as Indiana’s contribution to “The One Thing You Must Do in Every State.” True Hoosiers don’t live by broccoli alone.

Image by Loulou Nash from Pixabay.

To my credit, I exercised. Dragged along — er, encouraged — by Hubby, I hiked miles across rugged terrain. We paddled lakes, cycled bike paths and, despite bloat-float warnings, frequented beaches. We even swam in the water.

Given those “vacations,” would you choose half a bagel for breakfast?

Also, even the word “s’mores” forbids limiting me to one.

As for swimming — beach alarm aside — possessing a built-in inner tube isn’t a bad thing. When out-of-shape arms don’t keep one afloat, fat to the rescue!  Safety first, I always say.

Besides, the holidays are three months away. Cooler weather will encourage exercise. As temperatures fall, so will my ice cream intake. Really.

Also, plenty of road construction remains to burn off excess calories.

Image by Siggy Nowak from Pixabay.

Baggy sweaters will hide my summer-acquired inner tube, lessening motivation to diet. But fear not. I’ve created new scare tactics.

Shopping trips with dressing room mirrors always diminish my appetite.

Even better (worse?): the yearly checkup. I plan to share my innovative medical theory with my doctor. Doesn’t it make sense that we who carry more years should outweigh the young, who carry only a few? I’ll inform her the stars are in weight-loss alignment during autumn. She shouldn’t be picky about astronomy.

I’ll promise that now it’s fall, I’ll drop pounds like trees shed leaves.

Besides, there’s always January.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Is it harder to lose weight during hot or cold months?

Classic Post: Weird Things for Which I’m Thankful

This post first appeared on November 22, 2017.

No doubt, our Creator appreciates gratitude for freedom to worship Him, for family, friends, food and shelter. But my cornucopia also bursts with weird things for which I am thankful, including:

Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay.

Avocados. As a missionary kid in Mexico, I picked them up like apples under big trees. I still am a guacamole junkie. How many other fattening foods are good for me?

Shots. Immunizations don’t rank as my preferred activity, and certainly not my grandchildren’s. But because of shots’ protection, holiday hugs and kisses induce only mild winter plagues.

Black, washable pants. They love sparkly holiday tops and simple ones. They’re immune to stains and grandbaby spit. Roomy in the rear, they don’t desert me after the holidays, as many of my clothes do.

My piano. I don’t own a grand or even a baby grand. But my little Baldwin comprised our first major purchase after Hubby finished medical school. I thought we should spend his first paychecks on practical items. He insisted, “You miss having a piano.” Whenever I play, it still sings a love song.

Our baby trees, whose lanky little branches and colorful fall foliage inspire me with lavish dreams for their future.

Image by lovini from Pixabay.

Our camper. The one Hubby purchased when I was too sick to fight it. Even sitting idle, it sets us free. Already, we picture days in the green woods and s’mores around campfires on starry nights.

Gummy worms. Incredibly lifelike, they possess magical powers. When decorating a grandson’s birthday cake, they enable me to resist eating it.

Our brown sofa. Thank God, Hubby talked me out of buying a red one. Otherwise, after eight years, it would present a less-than-artistic mosaic of peanut butter, jelly, pizza, mustard and gravy stains. Because of, um, the grandchildren. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

My neighbor’s yard. Raked and pristine, it gives me a goal to shoot for when I grow up.

Free chips and salsa. A highlight of dining in Mexican restaurants.

Image by Lilly Cantabile from Pixabay.

Laid-back drivers. People who drive sl-o-o-ow-ly on two-lane highways annoy me to the point I pray aloud to occupy mind and mouth. They even force me to notice the loveliness I miss when whipping by as usual.

Accelerators. Cars wouldn’t be much good without them, right?

Ditto for brakes. And headlights.

Paper towels. While living in Ecuador for two months, I missed them terribly. (Thank goodness, Ecuador did manufacture toilet paper.)

Our grandson at the beach.

Baby smiles. They always ruin a bad day.

A critic might protest, “Your list goes on forever!”

True. I never run out of weird things for which to be thankful, because my Creator never, ever stops giving.

He’s weird that way — and wonderful.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What odd reasons for gratitude pop up on your list?

That Between-Holidays Feeling

The calendar gap spanning Halloween and Thanksgiving gives me that between-holidays feeling.

Image by Michael Shivili from Pixabay.

Many, craving Christmas, skip it.

Me? I want to slow down. With no more scary skulls, spider webs and zombies, why not continue the fun of pumpkins, cute scarecrows and gorgeous leaves?

Another cause for celebration: colder weather brings comfort food — though the official Comfort Food Day is December 5. Do holiday authorities really think I’ll wait that long for chicken and noodles?

Fortunately, this influx of calorie-rich food is accompanied by baggy sweaters, lifesavers until New Year’s resolutions ruin everything.

Not all between-holiday positives are unhealthy. Though the growing season is finished, carrots, still residing in our garden, will bless our table. Tomatoes and peppers rescued from frost glow in golden and red splendor before patio doors. Why my parents ripened garden produce on paper grocery sacks, I don’t know. But following suit recalls their love of autumn and determination not to let food go to waste.

Rescue efforts during this between season include the migration of shivering, potted plants from porches to places inside. For plant lovers like me — and my longsuffering husband — this can prove challenging:

Image by zbuhdalu from Pixabay.

Me: I can’t let this begonia freeze. It started blooming again. My zinnias. My herbs —

Husband: How many pots have you brought in?

Me: So far, only 37.

Hubby: Where will you put them? What will we do with them at Thanksgiving? You know Tate [our toddler grandson] loves plants.

Me: Let’s hide them in our room.

Hubby: (resignedly) Gives a whole new meaning to “flower bed,” right?

Sadly, this between season doesn’t preclude yardwork. Not only should I trim perennials and compost withered annuals, but thousands of leaves wait to pounce on us. No raking deadlines are etched in stone, but this must be accomplished by Thanksgiving, right?

As should major indoor cleaning. My chaotic office — drafted as a “spare bedroom” during the holidays — couldn’t provide overnight accommodations for a visiting chihuahua. Our neglected home dictates a major cleanup. However, we have six grandsons, ages 3 to 15. Given Thanksgiving and Christmas family gatherings, why would anyone possessing a brain cell perform such an exercise in futility?

Wait.

I, too, have shifted to pondering the holiday season. Thoughts of cooking, shopping and wrapping cram my mind like too many ornaments on a gaudy Christmas tree.

Friends who are aliens already have completed shopping and wrapping. They’ve designed and frozen perfect cookies for Santa — plus enough for the entire state of Indiana.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

But I still sip pumpkin spice lattes when I can find them. Savor that rare, soon-to-vanish feeling of having some money.

Let’s enjoy between-holidays feelings while we can.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you in a hurry for Christmas?

Classic Post: These James Whitcomb Riley Days

This post first appeared on October 11, 2017.

Photo from Pixabay by Michelle Scott.

My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Baker, read James Whitcomb Riley poems, along with other Hoosier literature, after noon recess every day.

She brought poems and stories to life in a way that made my ears and mind tingle.

However, she enforced “rest time.” We had to lay our heads on our desks while she read, an indignity that smacked of kindergarten naptime. After all, we were nine-year-olds, soon to reach double digits.

We didn’t need any dumb rest time.

Decades later, I realized that after policing a playground resembling a crash derby without cars, then facing a similar classroom scenario, she might need the break.

Not all of Riley’s poems topped my “favorites” list. Braver classmates asked Mrs. Baker to read “Little Orphant Annie.” Why did they like those repeated references to “gobble-uns” that would get us if we didn’t shape up?

I already slept with my knees near my shoulders to avoid giant spiders lurking at the foot of my bed. Adding gobble-uns to my nighttime freak-out list didn’t induce much sleep.

Even more frightening, Little Orphant Annie had to do lots of housework.

The James Whitcomb Riley poem I liked best was “When the Frost Is on the Punkin,” which celebrates autumn in Indiana. That poem tasted good, like tangy cider, and still does:

“But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.”

Steve and I harvesting our homegrown pumpkins.

However, James Whitcomb Riley never would have received an A on a grammar test. He would have been the very first down in a spelling bee.

Mrs. Baker and other teachers deluged us with homework, tests and even demerits to ensure my classmates and I spoke and wrote correctly.

Yet my teacher read us his poems almost daily.

Grown-ups never made sense.

Despite my confusion, James Whitcomb Riley’s magic sang in my head and heart. A Hoosier like me, he wrote about the land and life I knew and loved. He instilled pride into us for who we were — kids in a country school in a county where farmers helped feed a nation and the world.

Photo from Pixabay by Adina Voicu.

His poems still resonate with me, especially on a crisp, fall Indiana morning with a shimmer of silver on my lawn, and gold, russet and scarlet leaves flying in the chilly, sunny breeze. James Whitcomb Riley still reminds me of all I cherish in my native state.

Even if he didn’t know how to spell.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Did your childhood teachers read to you? What was your favorite read-aloud story or poem?

Classic Post: Playing Hooky in October

This post first appeared on October 4, 2017.

Is there anything more fun than sneaking a walk when you should be hard at work?

Perhaps balancing the national budget, achieving world peace and losing four dress sizes rank above it. None of these, however, appear imminent. So, I pilfer little thrills, like kernels of candy corn, when I can.

Autumn’s tawny, sun-freckled face grins from every yard and field, a mischievous TP-er who messes with trees solely so we have to clean up many-hued clutter. Scraggly flowers, survivors with colorful personalities, mix well with show-off mums. Ragged, brown corn and soybeans look weathered and friendly as smiling scarecrows that guard small-town yards and grocery store produce sections.

All mellow and unhurried. Autumn urges me to enjoy its relaxed aura while I can.

Apple trees, however, awaken my laid-back senses. Loaded with plump fruit, they tempt me to borrow just a few.

However, calling my husband to spring me from jail isn’t the best way to celebrate fall. Forcing my steps past, I promise myself a trip to an orchard.

Squirrels, sociopathic larcenists, don’t worry about raising bail. They freely steal fruit, walnuts and acorns, which they hide in my flower pots — their personal storage units. Fall squirrels are like spring dandelions, fluffy and cute. I love both . . . in other people’s yards.

All paths lead to the elementary school, easily evidenced by a trail of kid stuff: a flattened baseball hat; a pink bicycle abandoned near a stop sign; a plain strawberry Pop-Tart®, no doubt rejected because someone wanted frosted chocolate with sprinkles. Scholarly endeavors are verified by broken pencils and crinkled homework. How long has this rain-faded permission slip lain here?

Rows of cars at the school speak of the commitment of teachers, administrators and staff. I pray for them, as the place — even when recess is not in session — emits energy unmatched by Hoover Dam turbines.

Ditto for Taylor University. A substantial portion of its science building’s energy needs are supplied by geothermal, solar and wind power. However, the pulsating between-class rhythm of skateboarders, scooter-riders, cyclists and joggers who don’t even notice they’re jogging prompts another energy question: Couldn’t the remainder be supplied by students, who regard midnight as the start of prime time?

I seek quieter streets, where I can saunter, unmolested by the vigorous and motivated.

Instead, yards teem with home improvement projects and, on the town’s outskirts, farmers driving giant combines lumber into fields, braving clouds of chaff. All strive to complete their tasks before cold weather.

In the face of so much diligence, goofing off is downright tough. I head for home.

But that doesn’t mean autumn and I won’t try to play hooky tomorrow. …

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite goof-off season, and why?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Lovin’ Autumn

O Lord, I don’t need a newsflash to realize I’m past the green-leaf season of my life. I blossom only in ways and places I don’t want to. But thank You that our autumn years do not have to be blah. OMG, really? These can hold the richest colors of our lives? 

  

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer

O Lord, it’s that time of year in Indiana when summer and Indian summer engage in a polite tug of war. Windows open or shut? Air conditioning or heat? Ceiling fan or extra blankets? Though when it comes to falling temperatures, OMG, the seasons might prove more polite than we are. 

       

First Year on the Bus

On September days, I quadruple travel time, waiting behind school buses. The route doesn’t matter. My car is a bus magnet.

I’m never bored, though. A school bus at a stoplight entertains me more than Animal Planet.

I recall the first year Bus Number 3’s doors flapped open, when I scaled a steep stairway in early steps toward an education. I stopped dead at the top, nearly sending older brother Ned flopping backward.

The bus driver, Mr. Feeney, resembled a giant frog wearing a flannel shirt. Would he catch flies?

Nope. Shucks.

Instead, he nodded a silent greeting. When I dropped into a seat beside Ned, Mr. Feeney grunted, and my brother squawked. I was sitting on the boys’ side! I had violated The Aisle.

Why didn’t they color the girls’ side pink? I shrank into the seat behind Mr. Feeney. To my joy, a classmate soon joined me. Mary Jo and I sat there the remainder of the year. Why? With autumn’s arrival, the heater baked our ankles like apples.

Mr. Feeney often checked his big rearview mirror, from which he monitored the western hemisphere. He controlled our bus through the radio. When crowd noise reached 747-landing levels, he turned off “A Summer Place” or “Alley-Oop” or “Purple People Eater.”

Perhaps we six-year-olds found his big, red-and-black-checkered back comforting. Wiggly minnows in an ocean of big kids, we rode with teenagers big as God and my daddy.

Teen girls pushed cancanned skirts through narrow aisles. But these lost their goddess standing when I discovered their guy obsession. Didn’t they know about boy cooties? Still, I learned a whole new set of life skills, including “going steady,” by observing romance negotiations across The Aisle

            JIMMY’S FRIEND: Brenda, do you like Jimmy?

            (BRENDA hugs the window and stares at cows.)

            BRENDA’S FRIEND: She thinks he’s dreamy!

            (Snickers and catcalls from the boys’ side. JIMMY punches his FRIENDS.)

            (BRENDA’S FRIENDS giggle for 60 minutes straight.)

Undignified, almost indecent. Why didn’t Mr. Feeney do something?

After a girl bagged her male prey, official rules required she bring angora yarn aboard and wrap her prize: the boy’s ring. Those big, sparkly high school rings beat Cracker Jack® prizes every time.

Once, a lovesick couple sat together. The universe tilted. Mr. Feeney began to pull over, frightening the guilty parties into desperate dives back across The Aisle.

Now, waiting behind buses, I wonder if these children will follow one 50 years hence. No. By then, mothers will beam their kids to first grade.

At times, I wish I hadn’t spent hours riding school buses.

But think of all the education I would have missed.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Did you ride a school bus as a kid?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Do I Want August to Go Away?

O Lord, part of me longs for the return of autumn’s regular schedules and button-down “Let’s do this!” Not to mention, pumpkin pie and hot cider.

But OMG, when crazy August’s heat wears on me, please remind me that ice cream and other summer delights don’t.    

  

Me on the trail in Anthony Lakes, Oregon