Tag Archives: Friends

Little Joys

Everyone loves huge joys, the take-my-breath-away, can-this-be-me, yippee-yahoo-yaaaay! joys. Some people even become speechless. (A lover of words and hyphens, I’m not one of those.)

Many, though, experience bits of gladness that barely raise adrenaline levels, yet light blahness like a candle’s flame. For example:

  • Being the very first to stick a spoon into a jar of peanut butter.
Image by sebastianhausi from Pixabay.
  • Discovering an in-law’s dog chewed your shoes already destined for the trash.
Image by wixon lubhon from Pixabay.
  • Putting away groceries without remembering what you forgot.
  • Buying avocados at exactly the right stage of ripeness.
  • Almost spilling something purple on a friend’s white carpet but recovering in time.
  • Seeing someone else has reloaded toilet paper. She may have been a burglar, but wouldn’t you like to shake her hand?
Image by Carola68 from Pixabay.
  • Baking brownies with crispy edges and gooey middles — though someone will inform you they are too crispy. Or too gooey. Which doubles the little joy, as you can eat them all yourself.
  • Discovering you really did leave your phone at home, rather than at O’Hare.

Maybe that last qualifies as a big joy, an end-zone-dance celebration. But other small joys make a difference:

  • That someone held the door open for you when your arms were full. And didn’t let go too soon.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay.
  • That your car, even more hostile toward winter than you, started at first try.
  • That a human hug is something computers will never replace.
  • That rain doesn’t have to be shoveled.
  • That no one cares whether pink or blue baby sleepers are politically correct. At least, not in Indiana.
  • That you finished a book delightful as a hot fudge sundae — and no calories!

“It doesn’t take much to make you happy,” critics might say.

As if everyday happinesses don’t matter. As if little joys collected throughout a lifetime don’t add up to something substantial.

On the contrary, they shine in a person’s face, walk and talk. In memories of them long after they pass on.

That is no small thing.

Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What little joys brighten your days?

What’s in a Name?

Image by CCXPistiavos from Pixabay.

How did your parents select your name?

Perhaps you, like Hubby and I, are a Baby Boomer. Tradition ruled, and many infants were named after parents and grandparents. Later, the plethora of Juniors and Roman numerals would confuse every computer on the planet.

One-syllable, biblical boys’ names often prevailed, e.g. John, Mark and James. Hubby, one of thousands of Stephens (also biblical), always met other Steves at school.

Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay.

According to the Social Security Administration, the top 1950s names for baby girls included Mary, Linda, Deborah and Susan. My schools teemed with them. I met only two other Rachels, their names spelled differently from mine. Pastors’ daughters too. Sigh.

My mother, Betty, disliked associations with Betty Grable and other brazen hussies of her era. Her children’s names would be biblical and different.

We were different, all right. No respectable Boomer bore names like Nathanael, Rachael, Aaron and Jonathan.

Yet, Mom named our sister after a singer, Janis Paige. Why couldn’t I have been named after Debbie Reynolds? Instead, I received not only a little-old-lady name, but Mom handed me an additional “a,” as in “Rachael.”

The nurse “helping” her with my birth certificate frowned. “Not the correct spelling.”

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

I want it spelled that way.”

Later, Mom told me I was “Rachael.” I spelled my name her way into adulthood.

When I applied for a passport, though, I discovered my birth certificate said “Rachel.” That “a” provoked hostility that rivaled the Cold War’s. Eventually, I plowed through bureaucracy to pay for the name Mom gave me.

My mother may have borne the popular name, “Betty,” like pin-up Betty Grable, but no movie-star names for her kids!

Then Jennifer Aniston played a character named Rachel in Friends. During 1990, “Rachel” rated 15th in girls’ names.

When Rachael Ray hosted cooking shows, even computers stopped rejecting me as an alien.

Nowadays, in grocery stores when a stern mother commands, “Rachael, put that down,” I still cringe and return the squash I was planning to purchase to its shelf.

I miss my name’s uniqueness. Maybe I could smear it with individuality: ®àĉhæɬ.

Recalling the Great A Controversy, maybe not. Such a hassle over one silent letter.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay.

Shakespeare, whose name has been spelled 80-some different ways throughout the centuries, would agree. “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

I bet the IRS didn’t like him, either.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: If you changed your name, what would it be?

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!

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!

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: Lovin’ My Neighbors!

Father, so glad You gave us the idea for our neighborhood S’Mores Night. What a joy, to share each other’s lives on a starry night! Will there be s’mores in heaven? Not sure, but OMG, the evening was a teensy taste of friendship we’ll savor with You and Your children. Every. Starry. Night.

The Day I Faced Facebook

Image by Andreas160578 from Pixabay.

Scrolling through Facebook, I read family and friends’ posts. Accept friend requests. Delete one from someone who addresses me as “Warm Infant.” Perhaps the correct translation is “hot babe”?

Fourteen years after surrendering to Facebook, I sometimes wonder why.

When MySpace and Facebook first invaded our world, I imagined techno-geeks had invented one more way I could crash my computer.

I asked my children, “What is this ‘My Face’?”

Image by waterlilies from Pixabay.

I should have known better. They’d let their mother think an MP3 was a World War II jet. Why did I think they’d explain social media?

Image by PhotoMIX-Company from Pixabay.

Through the Moms’ Grapevine, I learned my grown children communicated with each other on Facebook. What?! When we lived in the same house for 25 years, I sometimes had to pay siblings to talk to each other.

What were they talking about now?

I learned they were displaying cute pictures of my grandchildren on Facebook.

I leaped into the 21st century … and accidentally signed up for Space Bookies.

Eventually, though, I became a Facebook member and read my daughter’s post: “When my mom joins Facebook, the world will end.”

My children had felt so safe. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

And they’d had no idea their mother was a warm infant.

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your social media story?

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: 60 Years? Seriously?

Lord, how can a person get lost in her hometown? Yet You helped me find and feast on lasagna with these friends with whom I once read Dick and Jane books. Played jacks and hopscotch at recess. Graduated from high school. OMG, what a fun evening You gave us — together again!    

Once Upon a Blizzard

This post first appeared on January 13, 2016.

We Midwesterners share a rich heritage of blizzard stories. Deprived tropics dwellers can’t appreciate our anticipation when The Weather Channel threatens wild winds, arctic cold and snow up the wazoo. Nor do they understand the joy of swapping lies — er, stories — of bravery amid Snowmageddon. A lifetime Hoosier, I have plenty to share.

A preschooler during my first blizzard, I recall my mother’s positive thinking. Despite three days in a two-room apartment with three little ones, she described the trees as “chocolate with white icing.” The Frosty we built resembled a malnourished alien, but we waved at him from our window. It seemed a friendly blizzard.

The second blizzard wasn’t. Winds howled like wolves, savaging electricity for several days. Cupboards emptied. Fortunately, shivering neighbors brought groceries when they came to enjoy our gas heat. Thirteen shared our three-bedroom, one-bathroom house. Survivor had nothing on us.

But we nine kids — playing infinite games of Monopoly, Candy Land, and the unofficial but essential Freak the Grown-ups — considered it fun. Our parents, with extended therapy and medication, finally recovered.

A young married couple when the Big One hit in 1978, our car refused to navigate three-foot drifts. My medical student husband hiked to a police station, catching a ride to a hospital. For three days, he, another student, and a young resident physician — aided by stranded visitors — cared for little patients on a pediatric wing.

Meanwhile, I baked bread. A nearby fellow medical student wife, whose husband also was missing in action, helped eat it. Walking home, I foundered in a sea of snow-covered landmarks. Only a faint traffic signal in ghostly darkness sent me the right direction. Then a tall shadow blocked my way.

Gulp. The only rapist crazy enough to be out in this?

“How’s it goin’?” he rasped.

“F-f-fine.” I squeaked.

He passed by. I slogged home. When the snow finally stopped, my husband appeared, fell over like a tree and slept.

Not content with that harrowing weather, we moved north near South Bend, Indiana, where blizzard stories abound even more than blizzards. Babies and emergencies ignored storm warnings, expecting my doctor husband to show up. How rude.

School snow days brought hungry hoards incapable of studying algebra, but well able to conduct snow wars outside our house. Once, I was trapped with snow-dueling middle schoolers, teens armed with boom boxes, and soon-to-be-separated college sweethearts — along with remodelers who braved the storm to sledgehammer walls.

Blizzard days two decades later prove far less traumatic, but can stop our lives cold. Yet even if I must search for leftover Christmas candles to light my longhand efforts, I’ll do my usual January thing: tell blizzard stories.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite Snowmageddon tale?