Tag Archives: Family

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer

O Lord, this Thanksgiving, we give special thanks that our family knows You through Jesus. How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! (Psalm 133:1)—OMG, even if that togetherness is expressed through breakneck air hockey, euchre, Ping-Pong, and tossing sponge burritos at our relatives.

Cousins. That says it all.

  

Grandpa was beter at this than he thought.
And you believed this was the safer option? Think again!
The Carpetball Championship of the World!

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?

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?

Hey, Hey, Hayride!

Image by Matthias Böckel from Pixabay.

My first hayride at age nine in a creaky farm wagon — a 4-H outing — puzzled me. A novelty? No. Tractors prowled in fields surrounding our little Indiana town. My siblings and I rode in the back of a pickup at highway speeds, so burning up country roads at 15 mph didn’t shake me up.

Waving at farmers? Fun, but not extreme entertainment.

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay.

So, why did chaperones’ heads swivel as we chugged along? Just because they were responsible for children who had danced around a campfire, waving unfurled metal clothes hangers armed with burning marshmallows. Just because we’d consumed 10 s’mores apiece, why eyeball us like tractor hijackers?

By junior high, though, I’d figured out that mass sugar buzz didn’t cause the adults’ angst. Even clothes-hanger-marshmallow weapons appeared less threatening. The big concern: harvest moons, starry nights and chilly temperatures invited major snuggling.

And more.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay.

Chaperones blackmailed into volunteering wished they’d signed up to dig the school’s new basement instead. But they yelled, “Heads up!” and bravely dug seventh grade babes and their current Numero Unos — generally six inches shorter — out of the hay.

Meanwhile, skinny nerds like me took extreme interest in local soybean crops.

Those popular kids were stupid. Embarrassing.

Lucky dogs.

By high school, few stared at soybean fields, and no one waved at farmers. Our choir performed a wholesome, cheesy song at fall concerts — “Hey, hey, hayride!” Privately, we chuckled. Dumb old people would believe we were equally wholesome.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay.

The old people — aka our parents — didn’t buy it. Later, when our own children reached adolescence, we didn’t, either. Surprisingly, though, hayrides no longer seemed popular.

However, recent years have brought a hayride resurgence. Given helicopter parents and predatory lawyers, are wagons now equipped with car seats and airbags? Or is everyone swathed in Bubble Wrap?

Yet, hayrides have evolved to scary, elaborate levels we 4-Hers couldn’t have imagined. For example, a Maryland “family” attraction offers haunted hayrides in which zombies assail the wagon, even crawl aboard. Also provided: refreshments, bonfires, live bands, plus a haunted hotel, haunted corn maze, and a haunted circus.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

Give me the boring version, with only a full moon, crisp fall air, and burning up country roads at 15 mph.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you ever gone on a hayride?

This Is MY Hometown?

If you still reside in your hometown, changes might raise your eyebrows and ire. Soon, though, surprises make themselves at home, part of everyday experience.

Hubby (top row center) and I (bottom row middle) were high school sweethearts.

Visiting a distant hometown, however, shifts one’s universe. A once-busy shopping center has been conquered by Bennie the Bomb Fireworks. Why did town fathers allow trees to grow so big? That implies we’ve added rings to our girth, too.

My husband and I grew up in the same city, but our parents — and we — moved decades ago.

Now, new roads have sprouted like kudzu vines.

We’re lost.

Though I can’t find our motel, I’ve located the street where I failed my driving test. I remind Hubby that I’ve never received a traffic ticket, whereas I can point to the stoplight he ran to earn one.

Image by Helmut Jungclaus from Pixabay.

Hubby and I recall our accidents: mine, near the high school, watched by God and everybody; his, when a coal truck smacked his Opel two weeks before our wedding.

We cruise past former homes.

“They cut down my favorite tree!” I complain. Without my permission, yet.

“Our yard’s taken over by creepy little gnomes,” Hubby rants. “They’re by my room!”

Columbus North High School entrance, Columbus, Indiana.
Even the door was delicious.

We tour our old high school. Star Wars technology prevails, even in drinking fountains. The school now boasts a food court instead of a cafeteria. Too many choices! A few familiar areas comfort us. We recognize the classroom where we counted red-eyed and white-eyed fruit flies for our deep, dark genetics project. His locker’s still nearby — next to my ex-boyfriend’s. A nice reminder of how lucky Hubby is to have reversed the situation.

We visit the ice cream parlor where not only I, but my mother ate hot fudge sundaes after school. The store where Hubby rented prom and wedding tuxes. The restaurant where I, wearing the world’s ugliest uniform, served customers for a dollar an hour. The pre-McDonald’s fast-food restaurant where Hubby donned a folded paper hat and baggy uniform pants five inches too short.

Our 1975 wedding in East Columbus United Methodist Church.

We visit childhood churches that nurtured our faith in Christ. We reminisce about our wedding.

Finishing the tour, we agree: Our hometown is where we live now, not where we resided 50 years ago. However, this place continues to impact us. Nothing will change that.

Not even a gnome invasion.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Have you visited your hometown recently?

From Clackety-Clack DING to Tappety-Tap-Swipe

Image by Libel SanRo from Pixabay.

When my future husband graduated from high school, his parents gave him a manual typewriter.

If a fussy professor at our college demanded typed assignments, perhaps I’d ask to borrow his gift. I’d hunt and peck because I’d taken no typing classes. After all, I’d planned to major in music.

Image by G Johansen from Pixabay.

Unfortunately, I dropped out. My medical-school-student fiancé and I married when even fast-food jobs were scarce. No one paid singers, even if they knew 10 Italian songs and five German. Would the typing classes I’d taken at night help me find work?

Yes! We would eat.

However, I refused to sacrifice my lunch hour to type Hubby’s papers on my office’s Selectric. At home, the manual machine made me crazy.

He typed. In our one-room apartment. At night.

Clackety-clack … clack-clack-clackety-DING!

I buried my head in my pillow. Midnight came. One o’clock.

Clackety-clackety-clack …

DING!

My younger daughter, Christy, and me in 1982.

When I later worked at a medical center, my speed increased and I learned to spell words like “ecchymosis” and “telangiectasia.” Then I worked in a newspaper’s secretarial pool, where we typed obituaries and The Cow News (stockyard reports) on a word processor.

Weird.

No paper, carbons or correction fluid — yay! No “ding,” and clacks morphed into taps.

When our children were born, I quit typing. Little fingers would have turned my attempts into Sanskrit.

A decade later, though, as a church choir director, I wrote newsletter articles. Despite rusty skills, my fingers navigated a computer.

Amazingly, I found myself writing newspaper and magazine articles.

Now, having published more than 800 short pieces and 27 books, I type much faster than I write. This longtime marriage of mind and fingers works. Will I follow current dictating trends and break them up?

No way.

Several of my 27 books.

Hubby uses dictation, though, murmuring a pleasant background as I work elsewhere. His late-night sessions remind me he’s there. I like that.

What if we had to use manual typewriters? Clackety-clack-DING! 10,000 times a day? My predawn inspirations would prove fatal. He’d never live to teach.

If either partner wants to wreak post-spat revenge, the cobwebby manual still resides in our garage.

No. Let’s leave that antique in the garage, where it belongs.

Besides, even for this antique pair, making up is much more fun.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What was your first typing device?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Great Music and Great Food — What Could Be Better?

Lord, how blessed we are to see our handsome grandson march with his award-winning high school band!

Carmel High School Marching Greyhounds, Carmel, Indiana

And, OMG, thank You for the nearby food trucks, too. …

It’s the Car’s Fault

My driver’s education teacher, Mr. Doom, began our first session saying, “I don’t like women drivers.”

Neither did my license examiner, because I failed my first driver’s test. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

I’ve never felt comfortable with cars.

One friend, however, described his potential purchase’s power seats, mirrors and door locks with the tender awe he would a forever love. I asked if they had set a date.

Image by Cam Bowers from Pixabay.

Me? I’ve felt more excited about sump pumps.

Cars complicate my life. No parking space ever stretches wide enough. Cars hide from me. If I stop at McDonald’s, I know upon return, I finally will find my car sulking behind Kohl’s.

My cars overreact. For example, I was taking my son to a birthday party when I ran over a large box flattened on the road. My minivan resurrected this cardboard roadkill. It fastened onto the transmission, which emitted strangulation noises. (Have you ever tried to explain tardiness because a killer box attacked you en route?)

My cars also exhibit marked attention deficit disorders. One ignored big rocks lining a business’s driveway, catching its underbelly on them. As its wheels spun helplessly, I wondered if we would grow old together there.

Fortunately, the omnipotent secretary assured me of help forthcoming and rang a bell. The eager help, who thought she had summoned them for doughnuts, received the high honor of carrying my minivan to freedom.

I told them, honest, it was the car’s fault. Guys! They always believe machines first.

Image by Ryan Doka from Pixabay.

For years, I tried to understand their inner workings — both guys’ and cars’. But whenever I crossed a garage’s sacred portals, the Gods of Grease inevitably inquired if the right troyer rod’s connection was causing me problems. Had I brought the car in to have its emulsifier de-linted, and did enough air reach the cogschain?

I was more comfortable posing on a car than driving one!

Or something like that.

Finally, I found a repair shop that doesn’t lock up when I drive in.

I simply say, “Please winterize the car,” and they take care of it. Even if it’s July.

Some people are comfortable with women drivers, Mr. Doom. Even if the ladies are uncomfortable with cars.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Are you a car fan?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: No-Temptation Birthday Cake

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: No-Temptation Birthday Cake. O Lord, thank You that this pineapple upside-down cake turned out well for my husband’s birthday. And OMG, thank You that though it is his favorite, I can walk away from this cake without a pang.

But if it were chocolate. …