Monthly Archives: September 2023

Seasonal Trade-Off

Image by Tikovka1355 from Pixabay.

As a kid, did you ever trade your lunchbox Hostess cupcake for a classmate’s homemade cookies?

Then realized the chocolate chips were sneaky raisins. That your classmate’s mother considered sugar the devil’s invention.

Some of us seem destined for the short straw.

This month, though, we Hoosiers trade summer for autumn.

This flower child will miss petunias’ glorious, subtle fragrance. Hummingbirds and butterflies mooching off zinnias and cosmos. Hubby won’t miss mowing grass, but if the scent could be bottled, I’d buy 10.

If frost must clear out my flowers, fall’s show-off foliage more than makes up for the loss. Especially as I’ll be done with endless watering, weeding and feeding my gardens.

Instead, I’ll be raking, right? Seasonal trade-off.

And I gladly give up a hog farm’s stench on a 95-degree afternoon for fall’s clean crispness.

During summer, we don’t mess with coats or matching gloves. Also, we don’t lose them in three different places. During autumn, though, my old friend, last year’s parka, welcomes me warmly on chilly days.

Foodwise, I already miss sweet corn. I also miss potato salad, made with my mother’s recipe. She kept her signature dish in the same summer-only category as white shoes. I’ll probably do likewise.

During summer, I buy six kinds of fruit. To continue that during cold-weather months, however, requires a second mortgage. Weekly.

Still, who can reject fall’s trade-off? Apple crisp and caramel apples, or pumpkin pie and other yummy pumpkin spice foods? Plus, comfort food abounds.

Other seasonal trade-offs:

  • I’ll miss: nightly cicada concerts and fireflies’ light shows. Welcome: mosquitoes’ demise.
  • I’ll miss: sitting on restaurant patios. Welcome: sitting beside fireplaces.
  • I’ll miss: barbecue fragrances pervading my neighborhood. Welcome: woodsmoke that says, “I’m keeping someone warm.”
  • I’ll miss: our ceiling fan’s breezes at night. Welcome: quilts and flannel jammies.
  • I’ll miss: flip-flop freedom. Welcome: favorite boots.

I will happily exchange:

  • Flab-revealing tops for flannel shirts.
  • Fruit processing at 10:30 p.m. versus consuming it in a cobbler at 10:30 p.m.
  • Multiple daily baths to dispel sweat, bug spray and sunblock for single baths whose effects last more than an hour.

Unfortunately, we’ll trade air-conditioning costs for heating bills.

Still, doesn’t the seasonal trade-off seem fair?

Although good-for-us virtues, like those healthy cookies, lurk during both seasons, summer and fall taste good.

Image by Valentin from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What seasonal exchanges will you make?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Allergic to Technology

O Lord, You have gifted some of Your people so they can operate five devices at once.


mage by fancycrave1 from Pixabay.

I, on the other hand, consider Ziploc® bags high tech.

OMG, have You reserved a special niche in Heaven for those of us who prefer the simple life?    

Macaroni and Cheese

Image by Hucklebarry from Pixabay.
Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay.

An all-American dish, right?

Nope. Historians believe a 14th-century Italian cookbook, Liber de Coquina, contains the first written mention of pasta and cheese. Americans can thank Thomas Jefferson, who brought a macaroni and cheese recipe and pasta maker home from Europe.

My grandchildren aren’t interested in mac ’n’ cheese history. They simply want to fill huge emptiness inside. Grandma boasts two recipes: their great-grandmother’s, plus one recently discovered on the Internet.

Unlike many 1960s homemakers, Mom didn’t cook the 19-cents-a-box food made popular during the Depression. Instead, she boiled spaghetti, then added inexpensive margarine and whatever cheese had escaped five-kids-in-the-house foraging.

Image by pixel1 from Pixabay.

Her recipe proved invaluable during my Hubby’s medical school years. Once, I looked up from saying grace before one spaghetti-and-cheese supper to see my work-weary husband face down in a plateful of our entrée.

Fast-forward several decades, when he invited students for a cookout. Would they consider my spaghetti fetish — and me — weird? Risotto or gnocchi might boost sophistication ratings, but costs would skyrocket.

Cheap won. I prepared mac ’n’ cheese — not only popular with students, but later, with our grandkids.

Not everyone welcomes different versions, especially as cheese enthusiasts rarely compromise. Some insist on American or cheddar. Discerning palates may require brie, smoked Gouda, or goat cheese.

Others, if stranded on a desert island, would refuse the stove-top version, as real mac ’n’ cheese demands an oven-baked crust.

A recent San Francisco macaroni and cheese contest’s entries might raise Midwestern eyebrows, with additives like nutmeg, mustard and even cinnamon and sugar. Vegetables took center stage: mushrooms, tomatoes, brussels sprouts and that darling of the veggie world, kale. Some added fruit, such as figs.

Image by Hans from Pixabay.

The judges, including Smithsonian Magazine writer and cheese merchant Gordon Edgar, awarded first place to a dish featuring aged Vermont cheddar.

The cultured audience, however, chose a different entry — and were shocked to silence when the winner revealed his main ingredient.


Image by Peggy & Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay.

This dish, even in its many variations, will endure. When my family needs comfort or celebration food, mac ’n’ cheese will be there for them.

Americans’ political views are even more diverse than our versions of macaroni and cheese. But acknowledging differences, can’t we lean on the basic recipe, our comfort and celebration for almost 250 years?

I want that to be there for my family, too.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: This Book Shouldn’t Be Banned from the Library

O Lord, sometimes I read Bible accounts that seem as if they should have been voted off the flannelgraph!

Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay.

But, OMG, You tell the truth about humanity and good and evil.

Image by CCXPistiavos

One big reason why I believe You wrote them!

Image by Congerdesign from Pixabay.

September Love Song

Love songs about summer’s end have been around forever. Frank Sinatra’s “September Song.” The Happenings’ “See You in September.” Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.”

Our elder daughter and her guy sang their own love song while planning a September wedding.

September 22, 2001.

On September 11, I was juggling homework for an unfinished degree, younger children’s activities, and wedding terrors: what if it rained on the kids’ outdoor reception?

Then I learned the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had been bombed.

Bombing? In the U.S.?

Like other dazed Americans, I viewed the carnage on TV.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

And wept.

We prayed for victims’ families and rescuers who died. We cried some more.

Our daughter moaned, “Everyone’s so sad. Maybe we should postpone our wedding.”

God gave me the words: “Honey, the world needs to believe life goes on. Love goes on.”

She and her groom stuck to their date.

Planes’ grounding caused endless difficulties. Would flowers and dresses arrive? Could out-of-state relatives attend? The worst: Our daughter’s job had taken her to Colorado the week before the wedding. Stranded!

Maybe rainy weather wasn’t our biggest problem?

Burglars also ravaged our bride’s apartment. A bomb scare occurred at our younger daughter’s college. Two hundred geese invaded the park where the reception would be held.

“Terrorists and goose poop,” I groaned. “What next?”

Image by Elsemargriet from Pixabay.

What happened next? A wedding. The bride found a way home. My mother attended, though we had to answer a machine-gun-carrying soldier’s questions at the airport. The ceremony took place in the church where our daughter first believed in Jesus.

At the reception, people ate, danced and laughed. Laughing felt good.

Even the geese — who feared the white tent — remained across the lake, looking picturesque as if we’d rented them.

Alan Jackson’s song, “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” was a September song he probably never wanted to write.

He sang it, anyway.

Our children never planned to marry amid national grief.

They sang their love song, anyway. It continues 22 years later, despite many challenges.

In his song, Jackson speaks of God’s gifts: faith in Him, hope and love. But the greatest of these, according to the Scriptures, is love.

God’s love can conquer the opposite trio: arrogance, despair and hate. His love can conquer all.

Even terrorism and goose poop.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What helped you survive 9/11?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Ha! They Were Wrong!

O, Lord, You know that 22 years ago, I found it easy to listen to voices that predicted we wouldn’t survive the terrors of 9/11. OMG, all seven of our grandchildren, born after that date, remind me that pessimists aren’t always right. And that You. Are. Good.  

End-of-Summer Confusion

Recently, my pastor, instead of dismissing the congregation after the benediction, seated us.

Image by erge from Pixabay.

How could he? Everyone had closed their Bibles and grabbed their purses.

“We have a problem,” Pastor said.

A million-dollar error in our building project? Heresy in the articles of faith? The closing of Cracker Barrel?

He said, “We don’t know when summer’s over.”

For weeks, the church staff has trumpeted program changes in bulletin, website and email. Though Pastor performed the parental equivalent of holding our faces in his hands and articulating new schedules s-l-o-w-l-y, we’ve asked spouses. “Um, what time does church start?

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.

Past decades, summer exited after Labor Day. As for equinoxes — spring never arrived in March, so why bow to September’s equinox for summer’s departure?

Opening school early has shaken our culture. Back-to-school sales start before the previous school year ends. Indiana’s General Assembly passed school-excuse legislation so county fair winners could participate in the state fair.

Once upon a time, children sent to bed during broad daylight assumed they’d committed major sin, or their parents suffered from psychosis. Now, kids consider such craziness normal. Soon, they’ll consider cleaning their rooms as natural as microwaving pizza bites. No wonder everyone worries about this generation.

Image by 1195798 from Pixabay.

This summer’s weather has reinforced bewilderment. Droughts during June fried Midwestern fields and gardens. Unheard-of July rains rescued us and produced bizarre green August lawns.

Early last week, night temperatures fell into the 40s. Before Labor Day, they soared into the 90s.

Should we rev up the air conditioner or the furnace this morning? How about this afternoon? This minute?

Covering all seasonal bases, we snuggle under blankets every night. Turn on air conditioning, start ceiling fans and open windows. No wonder we’re befuddled. We alternate hot chocolate and snow cones.

Besides all this, baseball, basketball, tennis, golf and football blare from screens. Aaaaugh!

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay.

Let’s switch from Daylight Savings Time now, instead of November — absorb maximum confusion like a sucker punch and be done with it!

Or next year, we could once again mark Labor Day as summer’s end. But 100-degree heat waves might bake us for two more months.

We’d be more confused than ever.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: How do you handle summer’s supposed end?