Monthly Archives: November 2022

Weird Things for Which I Was Thankful — Even in 2020

Image by Daniel Roberts from Pixabay.

(In this edited version of my newspaper column, I recall a Thanksgiving when COVID ran rampant.)

Have your children or grandchildren watched “Sesame Street’s” Oscar the Grouch? I worried, lest my offspring adopt him as their patron saint.

Fast-forward to 2020. Thankfully, my children don’t live in trash cans. Nor is Oscar their role model.

I, on the other hand, sound more like Oscar every day. So, this Thanksgiving, I choose to be grateful, even for weird things.

Thank You, Heavenly Father, for the following:

  • I don’t have to mask when I talk with You.
If praying with a mask seemed difficult, singing in the church choir was harder!
  • Because of COVID-19, I rarely try on clothes in stores. No multiple mirrors!
  • Squirrels playing nut-soccer on our roof don’t weigh 400 pounds.
  • Delivery drivers bring life’s necessities — like apple cinnamon air freshener and SunChips® — to our doors.
  • Potholders that aid in taking golden turkeys from the oven have not, unlike everything else, gone digital. I haven’t had to recharge one yet.
  • Not all gas pumps show videos.
Image by Artsy Solomon from Pixabay.

I also thank You that my husband has never, ever refused to open a pickle jar.

  • We use clean water I didn’t haul a mile.
  • Though some idiots — er, futurists — drool over human interfacing with technology, my Internet still has an off button.
  • Leaves filling my yard are not poison ivy.
  • I rarely worry about charging hippopotamuses.

Thank You, too, God, for pie. Any kind but mince.

  • Also for the fact no one has written or performed “Medicare Supplements: the Musical.”
My niece’s pie looked much better than mine, so I used her pic.
  • For the color periwinkle.
  • For the rustle and fragrance of a real book that keeps me up late.
  • For phone calls from Little Brother. When I was a teen with a boyfriend, and he a brat with mirrors, I wished him 2,000 miles away. Eventually, my wish came true. Now, I cherish the bittersweet joy of hearing his voice.
So thankful that the COVID situation improved so I could travel and visit Little Brother out West.

Finally, Lord, I’m thankful for my two-year-old grandson who sings in the night.

You hear that, Oscar? Probably not, as you have clapped your trash can lid on tight.

Image by Maaark from Pixabay.

Stay there, if you want. But if you change your mind, gratitude’s an excellent antidote for grouchiness.

Even for you, Oscar.

Even for me, this Thanksgiving of 2020.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: For which aspects of COVID’s wane are you thankful?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer

O Lord, thank You for little things that hold our tiny lives together: paper clips, zippers and Velcro. Band-Aids, superglue and Gorilla Tape.

But OMG, the Creator who arranges miniscule atoms, yet spins planets on one big finger, we need You so much more!

Home Ownership: The American Dream?

For Hubby, me and our newborn daughter, our rental house proved a sanctuary.

Apartments worked for Hubby and me — until a percussion major moved upstairs. Then, upon expecting our first child, we learned our complex was a drug trafficking center.

We rented a house.

The only upstairs residents were squirrels. They pattered across the roof, but none sold drugs or played xylophones.

We possessed three whole bedrooms and a garage. No more scraping ice off car windows. Hubby and I began to succumb to the American Dream. …

However, the driveway didn’t shovel itself. Our house boasted a real yard — whose grass never stopped growing. Flowers I planted attracted real weeds. We purchased a shovel, mower and garden tools. Lawn chairs. And …

The infinite to-buy list should have warned us about home ownership.

But tired of paying rent, I longed to choose the colors of walls and carpet. Bang nails to hang pictures without asking permission.

Our younger daughter welcomed her new brother to the little ranch we built. Thank goodness the water and sewer system had been connected!

So, we built a little ranch in a new addition … where roads hadn’t been completed. Also, water and sewage hadn’t yet been connected to the town’s system. During that inflationary era, the special 12 percent mortgage seemed cheap, compared to an earlier 21.5 percent prime rate.

We brought two newborns to that ranch. Mysterious stains marred my carefully chosen colors. I spent years watering grass and breastfeeding babies. Neither was ever satisfied. I also discovered I wasn’t handy. If I banged a nail into one wall, a gaping hole appeared in the opposite one.

The American Dream?

Our home for 24 years.
Before we knew it, the toddler had a prom date.

One other house we owned ate water heaters and softeners. Another featured a pillow-soft porch roof, as well as a toilet that randomly ran over and soaked anyone playing Ping-Pong in the basement.

We occasionally considered living in a grass hut in Bongo Bongo.

Still, Hubby and I have called all three houses “home.”

Home, where our babies took first, shaky steps. Where they learned to watch for traffic as they walked to school. Home, where we took prom and graduation pictures. Home, where they and their children now come for holidays.

Home is the only place where Hubby and I can put feet on the furniture. Where we can blow up and make up. Bake brownies, eating them all without anyone judging.

Image by Hans from Pixabay.

Our American Dream is no HGTV superstar, but at this address, we can be us.

At home.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What home-owning adventures have you experienced?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Beyond Blessed

O Lord, sometimes, book signings can be a real bust. But OMG, what joy to share one with special writing friends and many dear hometown readers. Despite the first season’s snow, they dragged out of warm beds on a cold Saturday morning and blessed us with their presence!

Author Dan Fuller featured his coming-of-age western, A Rifle by the Door. I shared my new Christmas cozy mystery, Deck the Hearse.
Fellow writer Jody Stinson helped carry heavy boxes of books and kept things moving. What a friend!

Bunking It in Brown County

Years ago, our small church held an autumn retreat in the now-famous Brown County hills in southern Indiana. Once, my girlfriends and I persuaded the camp director — my mother — to let us stay overnight in a cabin without a chaperone. No volunteers, so she had little choice.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

That evening, we ate fiery cinnamon balls and SweeTartsTM until our teeth sizzled. We caked on blue eye shadow and painted our nails sinful colors. Transistor radios filled the cabin with crackly Top 40 songs. We posted a lookout for a boy raid.

Nobody. Stupid boys.

We debated who was cuter: Paul McCartney or John Lennon? We sorted boys we knew into categories: Hip and Drip. The church guys? Drips, of course.

The Beatles.

Conversation lagged. The wind moaned outdoors.

We rechecked windows. Those Drips would never pull it off. Losers.

“What if kidnappers come?” Janie quavered.

“Scaredy cat!” Laughing, I turned away so she couldn’t see me shiver.

Image by Alexa from Pixabay.

When someone attempted a shower, a hairy-legged centipede crawled out of the drain. Screeching, we scrambled to top bunks.

Then a mouse scampered across the beam over our beds. Screaming, we hit the bottom bunks with a championship diving team’s precision.

A faint light glimmered in our dusty window. Moonlight? The Drips?

No! Jack the Ripper finally had made his move!

We plunged outside into the dark woods, probably leaping over copperheads to escape Jack.

Image by Jacqueline Macou from Pixabay.

Mom, the little boys’ counselor, didn’t welcome us to their cabin. “Sleep, or return to your cabin alone.”

We slept. Sort of.

When my brother played morning reveille on his trombone (no trumpet player attended our church), we wished we’d never heard of Brown County. Given this cabin’s nonfunctional shower, we faced the day with greasy hair and back-to-nature fragrance.

Soon, though, we lost ourselves in stitching genuine Indian coin purses, eating hot dogs, singing and learning Bible lessons. Playing dodgeball, we smacked the Drips to demonstrate our everlasting hate and love.

All too soon, we said goodbye until Sunday school, when we would dress up and play nice.

Who knew that soon, Brown County church camp, with its fun-infested cabins, imaginary kidnappers and trombone reveille, would say goodbye, too?

For good.

Image by SeppH from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What camp memories do you cherish?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Yaayyy, Orange!

Jesus, I love the sparkly red and green that help celebrate Your birth. Frankly, though, just as those colors clash with orange, Christmas promotions gobble up Thanksgiving. No time for honoring You, the Giver of all good things. So, OMG, at our house, orange will linger longer!

Such a rebel. …

Must We Mess with Our Cell Phones?

Image by Esa Riutta from Pixabay.

When my car and I swerve to avoid someone hypnotized by a cell phone, I secretly wish for a water pistol. Though, even if I shot cold streams out the window, would the driver look up, confirming zombies have not yet conquered Planet Earth?

Only if I soaked her/his phone.

Image by Michael Hourigan from Pixabay.

My generation did not allow rotary phones to tyrannize us, right? Though how many Boomers refused to leave the house, waiting for a special person’s call. …

Nowadays, I grab my cell phone too often. I do know better than to text around younger generation pros. With help-this-old-lady-across-the-street compassion, some with speed-blurred thumbs offer to assist me.

Poor, overworked thumbs need a break. In fact, we should give data use, phone bills, and ourselves a break. What cell phone alternatives can help me break the habit?

Hubby and I have discovered one way: holding hands. On walks, we radicals converse, laugh, listen to cardinals’ songs and luxuriate in autumn beauty.

Image by Lenny Rogers from Pixabay.

Friends may walk together, too. Having only texted for 20 years, they may need to exchange photos for identification purposes. Soon, though, they’ll discover the joy of talking with a real person.

Other suggestions:

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay.
  • Wave at passing drivers. Imagine your town if all drove like you.
  • Splash in puddles for fun instead of being sprayed while texting.
  • Mentally rearrange someone’s outdoor furniture.
  • Plant an imaginary flower bed at a plain house. Enjoy landscaping triumphs without an aching back and dirty fingernails.
  • If walking past an elementary school, thank God you’re not the old woman who lived in a shoe. Or the unnamed wife of Feodor Vassilyev, eighteenth-century peasants with the Guinness record for number of children: 69.
Image by Janusz Walczak from Pixabay.
  • While in educational territory, mentally recite U.S state capitals you memorized in fifth grade. Mrs. Baker would be proud.
  • Hop with one foot on muddy ground, so school kids think a single-footed alien visited.
  • Search for cars dirtier than yours. Write congratulatory messages on windshields.
Image by SD5432SD from Pixabay.

I offer final, unsolicited advice to young cell phone zombies: The love of your life could pass while you’re playing Super MarioTM. Or watching cat videos.

Wouldn’t holding that special human’s hand — maybe forever — be much more fun?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What could you do instead of fiddling with your phone?