Monthly Archives: November 2015

Ten Weird Things for Which I’m Thankful

ChairBlessPillowLike millions of Americans, I give thanks to God during this season for His over-the-top gifts: my family, my country and whipped cream garnished with pumpkin pie. Sometimes I pinch myself (not too hard) to see if I’m dreaming.

God’s lavishness shouldn’t surprise us. Jesus, who stretched a boy’s lunchbox meal to fill a hungry crowd of 5,000-plus, wasn’t satisfied to provide enough. He served such a feast that his disciples filled 12 baskets with leftovers.

I, too, am stuffed with good things from His hands. I gather blessing fragments, odd little bits and pieces of gratitude, into my blessing basket to share with you. And, since gratitude has no expiration date, never loses its flavor and contains no carbs, I’ll munch on them throughout the holiday season. Here, in no particular order, are 10 weird things for which I’m thankful this year:

  • If this indispensable website were not available, I might have to look outside.
  • My tin measuring teaspoons. They bring back childhood memories of baking with my mother.
  • Our neighbors’ Christmas decorations. When my grandchildren arrive, they will enjoy Christmas wonderland without our stringing one light. Nor will we have to haul the little ones to a light display, enduring multiple coat-hat-mittens-potty-before-we-leave-then-buckle-into-car-seat drills. Thank you, neighbors!
  • All octogenarians. Along with nonagenarians and centenarians. They make me feel young.  
  • Newspapers and magazines. I love the feel, smell and shine of paper, the rustle of turning pages. Will future generations miss the sensation of snuggling up by a fire to read a good book without a power button?
  • Our umbrella stand. We keep umbrellas handy for November Noah days. Unless we left them in the car. Or at work. At church. Or in Hawaii.
  • Our household financial system. I, the math-impaired, write checks, and Hubby balances. Instant excitement in a marriage.
  • Wearing jeans on Thanksgiving. I am not cursed with a hundred layers of petticoats. No smothery long, black dress. No white, starched Pilgrim collars at our house. Just tons of faith, food, fun, and naps in front of TV football.
  • My children’s name choices for their progeny. No Draco or Gaga. At least, not yet.
  • Servers. An Emmy to those who fake shock when I claim the senior discount.
  • Breath mints. The rest of my world is thankful, too.

Ten weird little blessings, and I’m just getting started. Like Jesus’ disciples, I might fill 12 baskets before I’m done.

What weird little blessings fill you with gratitude?


















Mission Impossible: Bathroom Break

Mission impossible?

Mission impossible?

No room brings out the competitive American spirit like the bathroom.

This especially rang true during the ’50s and ’60s. Back then, the national ratio of people to bathroom was 76.5 to one.

Desperation can teach a child much. I learned early that the early bird got the bird bath — with hot water. While my siblings remained comatose, I rose, rocketed down the hall, slid through the bathroom door and locked it. Safe!

I rationalized my territorialism in that I always had to clean the bathroom before I used it. I deserved to wash my face without a stopwatch running.

Why couldn’t Mom see this? Even if President Lyndon B. Johnson answered nature’s call at our house, a leaky toddler would kick him out—every time.

My dad also trumped everyone’s bathroom rights. He required five Reader’s Digests to bathe. He ran water to the top! In our hallway vigils, my siblings and I heard snoring, but no one dared bang on the door, slip threatening notes under it, or unlock it, using a hairpin.

When we finally moved into a house with two bathrooms, my espionage days were over — until my selfish parents claimed one for their exclusive use. How could they condemn me to sharing with subhuman sandbox dwellers who never remembered to flush?

So I deduced how I, too, could indulge in uninterrupted Roman-style luxury. On weekends, I scheduled my bath for midnight. So simple. So sinful. I discovered the forbidden joys of reading in the bubbly tub. Unfortunately, the library objected when their Nancy Drew collection returned soggy. My parents nixed my midnight ritual.

Fast forward a few decades. Contrary to my firm teen conviction I would die under such conditions, I survived. In fact, my childhood training has helped me meet numerous bathroom challenges, including: dormitory communal bathrooms, early marital adjustments, potty training, family campouts, Prom Day and cranky plumbing during my daughter’s wedding weekend.

As a lifetime reward, I now possess my very own bathroom, with 24/7 access. Abundant hot water, toilet paper and fluffy, folded towels. No covert operations.

With the holidays’ advent, however, a beloved invasion will ensue. Can I meet the bathroom challenges of living (albeit temporarily) with 16 other people, ages one to 83?

Yes. Nothing takes the place of experience.

Besides, I now own two-and-a-half baths. Plenty of stringy towels. I’m armed to the teeth with 347 Charmin double rolls and Liquid-Plum-r.

Before the onslaught, however, I will fortify myself with the ultimate bath. I shamelessly fill the bubbly tub to the tip-top. I break out the guest towels and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Now, where’s that Reader’s Digest?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Old College Buds

O my God, old college friends warm the heart. Sometimes we have thrived; other times, survived. We have produced seven children and 13 perfect grandchildren. Together we unzipped our 60-something disguises and celebrated Your goodness with thanksgiving and two-dip sundaes! OMG, even a forthcoming week of salad can’t dim our joy.          


Phone Booths, Superman and Me

PhoneBooth IIDoes anyone else miss telephone booths?

Besides Superman, I mean. Doubtless, the disappearance of his dressing rooms has sent him scrambling for new ones, slowing his response times. No wonder Superman does not appear at cataclysmic events these days.

Critics have suggested he could save the world in street clothes. What? Everyone knows Superman cannot fly without his cape. However, even as a child, I wondered how blue tights contributed to his superpowers. Though I wore leotards from November through March, I never could leap tall buildings, no matter how many bounds I took.

I also wondered why passersby never noticed Superman disrobing. How could his mom allow that! Still, I understood his need for privacy.

Now, seeing a rare booth, I want to exchange pleasantries, even if the phone has retired. I close the door and remember when my phone wasn’t smarter than me.

I also recall when discussions of overflowing toilets, gall bladder surgeries and ex-lovers were conducted without audiences of thousands.

Not that I don’t appreciate cell phone convenience and safety. I can’t imagine driving alone at night without one, and even less, my daughters’ travel with car seats and diaper bags.

During college years, I spent quality time with 86 phone booths in Klamath County, Oregon.

My brother and I, working for a janitorial service, sprayed, scrubbed, and swept them. We took turns cleaning interiors and exteriors, as the desert sun turned them into roasting, rather than tanning, booths.

Paradoxically, they promoted community as well as privacy. Who, aged 35 and over, hasn’t borrowed a dime/quarter/dollar for a call? Or dug into a purse or pocket to help out a pal? Who hasn’t stuffed a booth with giggling girlfriends or guffawing guy friends to aid in calling the love of their dreams? Though mostly, we hung up.

With the advent of cell phones, however, plentiful phone booths have vanished.  Most teens will never conduct such a conference call, blushing with love, humiliation and camaraderie.

Few movies now feature a phone ringing at midnight in a shadowy booth, the hero answering a blood-freezing anonymous call.

Recyclers have thought of original ways to reclaim phone booths. Some cities have transformed them into recharging stations for electronic devices. Some have re-designed them into tiny shelters and/or restrooms for the homeless. Some literacy-minded citizens have converted booths into community mini-libraries, sharing books. Other cities, using the booths’ glass construction, have transformed them into aquariums.

Lovely idea, that. Very artsy. But I miss the phone booths.

Superman, wringing his cape and extracting wiggling fish from his leotards, no doubt misses them, too.

Poor guy needs suggestions for alternative emergency dressing rooms. In our rural area, he could use toolsheds, or, if desperate, hog barns. What could he use in yours?








Journey to the Magic Lands

“We got you!” My captors wave Nerf swords with a flourish. “Walk the plank!”

“May I finish my M&M’S first?”

The six-year-old captain, more merciful than the average pirate, considers my plea. “Okay. Then, jump!”

“Let the mean octopuses get you,” adds the first mate, a ferocious four-year-old.

I munch my final meal, then march to the imaginary plank’s end. Holding my nose, I leap into the green ocean – a flattened air mattress where my husband and I slept the night before.

I flail for my grandkids’ viewing pleasure.

The sympathetic two-year-old plunks down beside me. We play Bumblebee, a tickle song my mother played with her babies.

Bored with the lack of violence, the older pirates wave swords at my husband. “Now, you have to walk the plank.”

“No, I don’t.” Steve grabs a sword a pirate carelessly dropped. “En guarde!”

The delighted first mate fences with Grandpa in an epic match that menaces the world, shakes the heavens, and endangers my daughter’s lamps.

“You’re supposed to fall down dead,” I reprove.

“Unlike some people, I don’t cave to their every command.” As the first mate swipes at his head, Steve’s glasses fly off.

“Being dead is safer.” I stick out my tongue. “Bet I live longer than you.”

Our life expectancies fare better when we play individually with our grandchildren. The youngest and I have fun, no technology or batteries required. With a “Br-r-r-ooooom,” he powers beloved toy trains across the room and the world. My travel toothbrush holder, which he pops 37 times, provides easy entertainment.

Less easy: explaining to a two-year-old why he cannot eat all my toothpaste.

While he naps, the four-year-old enjoys solitude the way only middle children can. He battles Tyrannosaurus rexes and wicked aliens, brandishing a plastic McDonald’s spork. I cheer him on, providing kisses and Scooby-Doo bandages when our hero is attacked by evil sofas that dump him backward.

Baking cookies with my granddaughter inevitably turns into a sibling project. But we grab moments between school and Daisy Scouts. Together, we create little books entitled What I Like with illustrations. I draw a very bad portrait of Jesus. Having inherited Daddy’s artistic talent, she draws a better picture of Him.

Watching her print the accompanying text, I envision her writing the Great American Novel someday.

The middle child’s grown-up imaginative energy will help him battle evil in this world and, perhaps, on others.

Maybe the train fetish of the youngest will transfer to his developing an efficient national mass transit system. Impossible? This is my grandson we’re talking about!

Till then, fortified by love and M&M’S, we play, and Grandma dreams on.

How do your children’s or grandchildren’s games reopen magical lands to you?