Monthly Archives: June 2023

Her-His Recall

Image by Tanseer Saji from Pixabay.
Image by Vachagan Malkhasyan from Pixabay.

In 1971, I scored higher than my academic-superstar boyfriend on our biology test. Now my husband, he remembers the questions were poorly designed.

Our brains record events differently. We should have realized that then.

Years later, during 2:00 a.m. phone calls, Dr. Hubby remembered how to calculate complicated medicine dosages and IV percentages.

When babies wailed at 2:00 a.m., however, he never gained consciousness. If he had, nocturnal amnesia would have occurred. “We have kids?”

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay.

Yet, I appreciate Hubby, my medical consultant in mystery writing. Once, though, while eating out, I pumped him about undetectable, fatal drugs — and forgot to whisper.

“Keep your voice down!” Hubby hissed as big-eyed diners moved elsewhere. “I don’t do that!”

I should recall minutiae of mystery movies we’ve watched umpteen times. I remember what the main character wore. Or if she was pushed off a high bridge (I loathe heights). But Hubby, who never forgets a plot, reminds me whodunnit.

Helpful guy.

The I-see-it-my-way-you-see-it-yours list goes on. And on.

Hubby remembers campsite numbers and lake depths from every park we’ve visited. Which is north or south of what?

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

I remember trees. Lots of them. Water. Lots of it, too. And that the sun sets in the west. Please don’t ask me about the moon.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay.

Hubby always memorizes his parking spots. Unlike me, he’s never meandered for hours in a dark lot with ticked-off kids after a rock concert. Think of all the exercise he missed.

On the other hand, I still hear my late, penny-pinching father, urging me to turn off lights: “This house is lit up like Alcatraz!”

Hubby must have been raised in Alcatraz, because all-lights-on seems natural to him.

He does remember to schedule our cars for oil changes.

What, cars have oil?

Lately, though, both our memories are suspect. Name recall’s the worst.

I say, “Who did we have dinner with yesterday? You know, the flannel-shirt guy and the woman wearing cute boots.”

“That was yesterday?” He muses. “Weren’t we in their wedding party?”

“And they in ours. …”

Together, total recall?

Eventually, we nail it: Ned and Patricia. My brother and sister-in-law.

So what, if married life now consists of playing 20 Questions. With both his-and-her recall, we’ll get it right.

As long as we avoid biology tests.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What differences have you noticed in male-female recall?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Green Manna

Father, drought had caused our garden row of lettuce to falter, but You gifted us with this volunteer patch on our compost heap! Not exactly the biblical version of manna, but OMG, we fresh-lettuce-lovers will take it. Thank You!


Dad Was Different

No one will ever forget his laugh.

“Happy Father’s Day, Dad. It’s Rachael.” Holding the phone, I’d picture his ornery grin.

“Rachael who?”

“Your daughter, Rachael. Your own flesh and blood,” I’d retort, and the fight was on.

If we’d been polite, each would have suspected the other was up to no good.

A pastor for nearly six decades, Dad radiated his own style. Even his conversion sprouted in atypical soil.

A Depression child, he scavenged Louisiana pinewoods to supplement his meager diet. Dad hid outside churches where African-American worshippers sang joyous music.

Dad as a child. During the Depression, his search for food to fill his stomach led him to spiritual food.

Their lives were even harder than his. How could they celebrate Jesus? Dad couldn’t stay away.

Eventually, he graduated from a Bible institute, where he’d met my mother. They married and worked at a Navajo mission in New Mexico. Throughout decades, they planted/pastored small, independent churches in Mexico, Indiana and Oregon. Sometimes they lived in for-real parsonages. Sometimes in churches’ back rooms, a grass hut, and a mountainside, snow-covered log shack.

Even if churches paid him — a rarity — Dad worked construction to support five children. We counted off in the station wagon to ensure nobody was left asleep on a pew. I was number two.

Ahead of trends, Dad shrugged off ties and other unnecessary protocol. Having taught himself to play guitar, he led singing with his three-blocks-away bass voice.

Dad loved to baptize new believers.

Dad ministered as much outside church walls as inside. He drank coffee with troubled diners at Denny’s and introduced them to Jesus. He made Cracker Barrel servers giggle and hugged lonely Hispanic and Chinese restaurant owners, far from home. When someone was in need, he opened his thin wallet.

Once, in Oregon, he picked up movie-mad English hitchhikers who asked if Indians were on the warpath. Dad promptly arranged with local ranchers to stage a cowboy-Indian fight, complete with flaming arrows.

Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay.

Even more dangerous: Dad used a fishing pole to cast a jelly doughnut among his church members’ weight-loss group.

I said, “In Heaven, you’ll be perfect. What will you do then?”

He looked genuinely puzzled. “I don’t know.”

At 91, Dad did go to Heaven. His family — and his guardian angel — all stopped chewing our nails.

Dad and me on his 90th birthday.

But we miss him. So much.

Someday, I’ll stand at Heaven’s entrance, too. Jesus will know my name and give me a huge hug.

Dad? He’ll wiggle his mustache and say, “Rachael who?”

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How was your father unique?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: No, We Didn’t Start a Distillery

Clean water — I take it so for granted that despite the town boiling order (a broken main), I caught myself gulping from the tap. OMG, thank You that clean water soon would flow again.

But help me stay aware that for many people in the world, it won’t.

Image by Thomas Grau from Pixabay.

Road Trip: Grand Adventure

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay.

I missed Southern siblings and friends. I’d signed up for a writers’ retreat in Savannah, Georgia. Time for a road trip!

Why not fly?

I dislike heights. And oxygen masks. I’d rather wear a parachute.

Second, flights are delayed, cancelled and rescheduled ad nauseam. Would a camel prove more efficient?

Image by Christel from Pixabay.

But camels spit. Ergo, I drove.

Third, I felt old. I craved adventure.

So, I packed a huge suitcase. “Ha! No charge!”

Hubby couldn’t leave, so he demonstrated — again — how to operate Lavinia, my snooty GPS. With a goodbye kiss, I began my Grand Adventure.

Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay.

I conquered a high, Ohio River bridge without hyperventilating. Kentucky and Tennessee’s hilly terrain didn’t faze Lavinia and me. However, she now refused to talk, and I nearly bypassed my Tennessee friends. Eventually, we enjoyed our visit.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay.

Did Lavinia navigate the Appalachians?

No. We both freaked. Hoosiers shouldn’t be allowed to drive through mountains when roads under construction teem with a million semitrailers.

Whew! I arrived alive at my sister’s and celebrated a fun reunion with siblings.

Attempting to reach Savannah, though, I wandered in the wilderness. Not 40 years, but it seemed like 100, thanks to Lavinia, who still sulked in silence.

The elegant entrance to a Savannah home.
Fellow authors Gayle Roper and Janet McHenry and I at the Books & Such Literary Agency retreat.

Eventually (a key word), I found the Savannah retreat. Writing friends and I learned lots and cheered each other on.

I wanted the flattest route home — hopefully, without detouring to Kansas. Though a major storm occurred at night when every motel posted “No Vacancy” signs, the return trip proved easier. Hubby welcomed me, even with a huge suitcase of dirty clothes.

And a huge Visa bill. Given gas, hotel and food costs, driving hadn’t saved money. Semis nearly nosed my car over cliffs without offering either oxygen or parachute. I risked my life crossing bridges.

Siblings who once lived together wished each other on the moon, but now brave even miles through mountains to see each other.

Yet …

I’d embraced the freedom of the open road.

Mountains stunned me with beauty. I crossed five high bridges without needing an ambulance. Motel clerks, though unable to offer a room, refreshed this tired traveler.

Plus, the blessings of connecting with family and friends cannot be measured.

John Steinbeck journeyed with a friendly poodle and I with hostile Lavinia. Still, we shared joys he expressed in Travels with Charley. Though old, we risked adventure. I think Steinbeck would agree our journeys were grand.

But coming home was grander.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Was your last road trip a grand adventure?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Age Eleven Again

O Lord, lately, my preadolescent courage has kicked in. OMG, I’m so glad You watch over all Your children — even clueless ones who stand under creaky trees and those who take pictures (and also take out secret life insurance policies on their spouses?).          

Camper or Motel?

Image by Dim Hou from Pixabay.

Recently, instead of camping, my husband suggested a motel.

I was stunned speechless … but that never lasts long. “Sure!

Afterward, I pondered: Did I prefer our pop-up? Or the motel?

Setting up campers takes time, but provides exercise. Motels offer fitness rooms, but did we go there? Well … nobody else did, either.

Image by Dorothée Quennesson by from Pixabay.

Neither a motel’s walls nor our pop-up’s canvas filter out arguments next door. But as a fellow pop-up owner said, canvas walls provide little nighttime reassurance when, within inches of your pillow, something outside licks its chops.

Speaking of wildlife, our family never encountered a raccoon-skunk war in a motel as we did at one campsite. Once, though, in a Florida motel, a Volkswagen Beetle-sized roach zoomed across our room.

Then there’s the I-can’t-find-a-thing-in-this-place dilemma, common to both motel rooms and campers. Motel light switches save electricity (and company money) because no one can find them. But camping takes the marital game of Twenty Questions (“Where’s my billfold?”) to record levels.

Both motels and campgrounds feature mysterious showers — also designed to save money, as victims — er, guests — must decipher codes to obtain hot water. Or, in the case of campgrounds, to receive water, period.

Hikes to campground restrooms, however, trump any motel inconveniences — though stargazers claim nothing beats views at 2 a.m.

In the past, motels won the prize for cleanliness. However, because of recent worker shortages, no one cleans up after us but us. Sad.

Bottom line: Comparison of pop-up and motel rooms rests on expectations. Sleepers on a camper’s table gripe about aches and pains, but they expected inconvenience. If forced to sleep on a motel’s table, though, I’d gripe about more than a few twinges.

Image by Angelic Cooke from Pixabay.

Especially pain in my pocketbook. According to Smith Travel Research, a hospitality analytics firm, a hotel room’s average cost has climbed to $149.90 per night. A state park’s campsite costs $15-40. Cheaper, right?

Sure, if we omit costs of the pop-up and truck to pull it. And the awning and canvas walls we replaced.

Ultimately, is our pop-up worth it?

Image by Joe Plenio from Pixabay.

Yes. In the woods, air is fresh as if God just created it, whereas in a motel, I cannot open windows. Camping banishes clocks with their coulda-woulda-shoulda tyranny. Plus, motel personnel might not appreciate my firebug husband building a campfire in our room.

I love camping in our pop-up.

However, if Hubby wants to book a nice motel again — especially in January — I’m game.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Which do you prefer, a camper or motel room?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Geriatric Gratitude

Lord, thank You this last heat wave has subsided. It reminded me of 90-degree weather I, nine months pregnant, suffered before our second child’s birth — without air-conditioning, but with a toddler who daily needed up-close-and-personal supervision while climbing a jungle gym. OMG, Thank You that I’m old.

With air-conditioning.