Sunday, October 30, 2005

Walton Thoughts

I grew up watching the tv series, The Waltons. 

I was addicted, actually, and the addiction lasted into my adult years.

It's funny the different reactions you get when you mention The Waltons. Anything from an instant smile and a dreaminess in the eyes to disgust or even anger.

When the show first aired in 1972 the producers were deluged with thankful mail from thousands of viewers who appreciated the stirring up of memories from their own pasts. People loved the wholesomeness and the hope splattered over each hour-long episode.

But other letters came, too. Ones which condemned the whole project as being pure make-believe and unrealistic. Too sentimental and manipulative of viewers' feelings. Reviewers sat high on their thrones and tried to rip The Waltons apart from its seams. They'd watch an episode or two and then dismiss the whole thing.

You can read more about both sides here.

I guess I get tired of people who, from their own frame of reference, judge what is real and what is not. It bothers me that those who had lousy childhoods now try to convince us that all people have lousy childhoods and that, if you spent time in every home, you'd find some form of dysfunction. And that the Good Old Days are over and children today are automatically doomed because of how this world has evolved.

It's the simplest thing on Earth to be negative, especially as you grow older and see myriad bad things happen. It's easy to rain on people's parades and pop all their balloons and expect the worst. 

Any moron can do that.

But it takes a brave and strong person to swim upstream. A courageous person listens to a lot of blathering negative naysayers, then just goes about his life looking on the bright side. You know, being led by the God of all hope.

The world is bigger than each of knows and there are, even today, real families who resemble The Waltons. I knew many while I was a child in the 1960's--you know, those years when, if you believe just what you saw on tv, were full only of violence and free love and hippies and drugs. But no, even then we had Walton-esque families who said grace before meals and who got along and had fun, even though they had very little money.

I know, because I was in one of those (imperfect, ok, but still good) families and lots of my friends were in those kinds of families, also.

And even later after I married and had Naomi, newspapers and books and tv cried loudly that you just couldn't have The Good Old Days in your home because they were long dead.

But Tom, Naomi and I went ahead and had them anyway.

And maybe that's why, yesterday, I ordered the first season set of The Waltons DVD's. Perhaps I ordered them to stir-up the memories I have experienced first-hand for the last 46 years. You know, those types of experiences many movie and tv reviewers say never, ever happened in the first place.


"But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound..." Romans 5:20


Saturday, October 29, 2005

Reading The Signs

Gee, I hope nobody thought my last post was really saying vacations are bad. Oh my, no! To further explain what I meant, please check out my paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 3:

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
2 a time to go on vacation and a time to come home and go back to work,
a time to travel and a time to sit on your own porch swing,

3 a time to swim and a time to pay your bills,
a time to frolic and a time to mend your socks,

4 a time to watch movies and a time to look into your spouse's eyes,
a time to visit a museum and a time to visit the sick,

5 a time to eat in restaurants and a time to weed your garden,
a time to buy cool stuff and a time to give away cool stuff,

6 a time to go sightseeing and a time to see what needs to be done around your house.

Well, you get the idea.

Basically, I was on vacation for 27 days--nearly one whole month.

Somewhere I crossed a border-- a God-designed border--and that always means trouble.

There is God's Way. His way leads to peace.

Then there is Debra's Way. Her way leads to one steep, winding rocky road. Debra's way leads to an annoying, nagging feeling that something just ain't right.

There truly is a time for vacation--hooray!

And there truly is a time to come back home.

And done in their correct time, both are wonderful.


Friday, October 28, 2005

Full-Time Vacation not a good thing.

There is a Berenstain Bear book called, Too Much Vacation, and when Naomi was young, she loved that book. And also when Naomi was young, the three of us would come home from vacation, drop our suitcases, collapse into chairs and collectively moan, "Too much vacation!", each recalling that Berenstein Bear book.

Too much driving/riding/staying up late. Too much living inside a tent, too much swimming and fast food and museums and hiking and getting lost and folding maps.

Basically, too much thinking only of ourselves.

And then yesterday, once again, I had that Too Much Vacation feeling. Oh, I hadn't been in a tent these last 10 days, hadn't traveled or visited any museums and it was much, much, much too cold to go swimming anywhere.

No, but I'd been thinking only of myself. "How little can I get away with doing today? And what else can I do for myself that will make me more comfortable/happy/entertained?"

Then yesterday I got sick of it. Enough is enough and I'd had enough.

Enough vacation.
Enough movies.
Enough recuperating time after my parents' visit.
Enough pampering myself after the teeny little chill I had.
Enough thinking I'd had it rough.
Enough procrastinating of my chores and responsibilities.
Enough treating myself like royalty.


Why do we think full-time vacation would be a good thing? We are naive. We haven't learned to love our work, our days, our normal life. 

For ten days I think I forgot that I do, indeed, love both my work and my days.

Or perhaps it was more a case of having to be reminded just how good I have it. And sometimes, in order to remember, you have to first forget. You have to sail away into something that looks good, but in reality, would be too sticky-sweet if you had a steady diet of it.

And that's what those ten days were--too darn sticky sweet. I have the extra two pounds to prove it. 

And there is something else we forget--real joy is found in giving to you and you and you--not to me, me, me.

Yum, today!  My Normal Today tastes better, more glorious, than a million vacation days. There's a lot to be said for a wholesome, balanced diet. There's a lot to be said for giving of oneself rather than to oneself.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Flakey Days

...that's what I'm having--Flakey Days.

The day my parents left, I felt as though for two weeks I'd been swirling around in a whirlwind and then suddenly--whack! I slammed my head against a stop sign.

And I've been flakey ever since. Zombie-like. Just a plain ol' lazy, movie-watching slug.

It doesn't help that I think I caught a chill on Saturday while I sat in our old-fashioned supermarket sipping coffee in my wet-from-the-rain coat and hair and clothes and feeling chills go up and down my spine. Whenever we go from highs of 80 to highs of 40 in just days, my blood rebels by turning to icy slush.

I bought new warm pajamas yesterday (and stayed in them all day) because I'd been cold ever since that supermarket morning. They helped. After three days, my blood finally warmed-up.

Then today I went with Tom for his two-or-three-times-yearly injection for his back. I always drive him home from those because it's 'the law', not really because he needs me to. But it always requires that I wait for him for three hours. 

Of course, I could take the car and go shopping, but the traffic in that area is more insane than most areas, so I stay put. A year ago they added a tiny little coffee shop to the doctors' building so I buy coffee and read my books and watch people, most with braces and crutches and bent backs, walk past me. I do try to pray silently for most of them but after three hours of sitting and waiting I must admit I get antsy and I just plain want to get out of that place.

I am human, after all, and lately I've felt extremely human.

But today I am seeing lights at the tunnel's end and I feel a return to normal approaching. I am starting to care about things and people and computer life again. Always a good sign. Maybe it's because I'm finally feeling warm again. Finally feeling recovered from having hit that stop sign. Finally recovering from the whirlwind.


Oh, and a special thanks to each of you who recommended the suspense movies. I must be pretty well caught up--I'd seen all but one which you recommended! Either that, or it's a matter of us all having the same great taste in movies.

Tom and I watched a terrific one the other night. I'd mentioned that we usually don't watch rated R movies, but this was so-rated because of violence (I can close my eyes) and language (the handy dandy TV Guardian handles that for us). The movie is called The Impostor. After we fast-forwarded the opening credits, er hem, they could have left that part out, blush, the rest of it was extremely suspenseful and had us on the proverbial edge of our seats. 

An amazing thing--I figured out part of the ending minutes before it arrived--amazing, because usually I am so dense and so clueless and always so surprised by most endings. But this one I did figure part of it out-- and the other part took me by surprise, yet didn't. (One of those things where I will spoil it for you if I say anything else.)

Anyway,The Impostor was just right. At least for us.


Monday, October 24, 2005

The 'To Be List'

Everyone (ok, me too) talks about their own To Do List as though it's the most important thing.

But I'm switching lists. I'm moving over to a To Be List.

A To Be List frees me. It stretches out Time because it takes time to become who God created you to be. It takes time to get to know Him and be changed by Him. It takes time to gain wisdom and to learn to walk by obedience instead of by what seems right to your head.

It takes a whole bunch of time to become all you can be.

You can't really become who you were meant to be by following a To Do List. Well, I can't, anyway. What I do and who I am are not always the same thing.

If I spend more time becoming who I was meant to be, I'll spend less time nagging others to follow their own To Do Lists. I'll become more concerned whether I'm doing right--it leaves no room, really, to poke and prod and frustrate others by my ordering them around. It gives me a relaxing break from feeling like Boss of the World. 

At least, that's what I've found. If I'm careful to be kind to Tom then he becomes more careful to be kind to me. Rather like, if I'm always nagging Tom, then he starts always nagging me. Only, responsive kindness adds up to an incredible life and responsive nagging leads to, well, to a whole different place--a place I hope to never return to.

The To Be List. It amazes me that I seem to accomplish more while following it, that the more I let God change me, the more I get done because I'm being led by His way of seeing and doing things, not mine.

God's way of seeing and doing things leads me to better places--and like I said, I hope to never go back to leading myself.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Asking a Movie Favor

I must have movies on the brain this week.

Tom and I love mystery/suspense type films. Do you have recommendations to make our searching easier? We'd rather not watch ones which are rated R (I know, that cuts the list in half, easily). Yet, if the R rating is because of the language only, that's ok because of our handy-dandy TV Guardian DVD player. It knocks out the vast majority of the language. (The best $49 we ever spent.)

So what are your recommendations in the suspense, mystery or time-travel movie categories? Please list as many of your favorites as you can in case I've already seen one or two which you mention. I'll look them up on the Net and read about them and then I can send Tom to the video store or library with a list. What a time-saver that would be.

I can't wait to see what you recommend!


Friday, October 21, 2005

Speaking of Movies...

There's a new movie out which I will definitely buy when it comes to DVD. It's showing right now in very limited areas, not my area, of course (darn).

It's called The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio.

When the book first hit the stores, I read a review of it in our Sunday newspaper then leaped down our stairs to our computer where I promptly bought it online.

It's a true story of a mother of ten children in the 1950's who made the best of a bad situation. Instead of just whining and complaining about her difficult life and her alcoholic husband  she did something about all of them. Cheerfully.

I like people like that. People who can create a good life out of a bad one because they search for the good. I like to spend time with people like that, but sadly, I find few.

I want to be someone like that. Today, there are more than enough negative, sour, I'll-yank-you-down-with-me people out there. 

Here is Roger Ebert's review of the movie. I'm glad Roger liked it. There must be a blue moon out right now, because only once in a blue moon do Roger and I love the same movie.

This may sound odd, but hey! It's true. If you were to ask me to list my Top Five Favorite Books of All-Time, the book from which this movie was made would be on my list.

Each time I reread this book, I complain a little less because it hits me-- I have nothing to complain about. This mother, Evelyn, could have rightly complained about her life and sunk beneath murky ponds of depression--but she chose higher roads. Higher roads.

And those are the roads I wish to travel, also.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Loving Normal

I am feeling better.

I no longer have that just-been-hit-by-a-train feeling. You know, the one which comes after you go careening around on adrenalin for two weeks.

Oh today! I'll wash dishes (you should see my poor sink) and do laundry, read and sit in the sun on the front porch. I'll iron clothes in our new room with the French doors and then I'll read and write email and send little presents to others by way of Abebooks or Ebay or Amazon. Later, I'll walk in the autumn light to get reacquainted with my neighborhood and hopefully there will be a breeze to flutter the leaf shadows around on the sidewalk.

This sounds like small potatoes to many of you, but oh my. My Normal is so good.

And if you love your Normal, you have it good, too.

It's not enough to just be blessed. We have to know we're blessed and thank God for it during the day and night. That's when Life really becomes wonderful. You know, all wrapped up with gratitude.

So, do you love your Normal?


Monday, October 17, 2005

A Zombie Head Speaks

My parents left this cloudy, colored-leaf morning. I drove them to the airport at 8:00 a.m. and went through all the gamut of emotions you go through when you only see your parents every few years.

How you want them to stay in your home longer, yet you know that would lead to a disaster down the road.

How you love them, but at times they make you crazy with the things they tell you.

How you feel guilty when you feel anything negative toward them.

How you picture them as they looked when you were a teenager--yet when you actually see their faces now, you're always surprised and saddened at how old they look.

How you wish they could always stay young.

How you wish 'Family' was not such a complicated thing. How you wish you were the perfect daughter, but, always, you just are what you are.

How you wish your emotions would always behave themselves when you spend time with family.

And on and on.

Zombie thoughts. That's what I had on my way out of the airport, alone, wondering if the guy in the parking ticket booth noticed the tears in my eyes.

Zombie thoughts because I'm just so darn tired after 17 days of sightseeing with my parents--and yet wishing they were still here. But not still here. Still here, but not still here. Still here. But not still here.

Those zombie thoughts which are whining to me right now, "For heaven's sake! Lie down and take a good, long nap. You deserve it."


Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Question For My Readers

Here's something I've been wondering for the last couple years and well, the last couple hours, also--

Do most people, generally speaking, become more anti-social as they age (say, after they turn 45 or 50)? Or do most people become more social (sociable)?

I guess I'm asking for a number of reasons. In some ways, I've definitely become more reclusive and yet, mostly, I still love spending time with people--just not steadily, day after day.

And I do not like parties, good, bad, Christian, or otherwise. Even while I was young (eons ago) I never loved parties, but now I can come up with an excuse to avoid them with lightning speed. My quickness with excuses amazes me.

And too, I've noticed that Tom is much less social than he used to be. Much. Less. Social. (I'll spare you details, but I've noticed that many of my favorite people set him on edge after awhile.)

And I've seen that same trait in lots of other men, husbands of my friends, etc.

So what do you think? Is this pretty typical or just plain odd? Does it usually just depend upon the person and his/her personality? Or is it more like something which just tends to happen around 50 or so? Do anti-social, reclusive tendencies tend to go away, say, after 60 or 65?

I'd appreciate your comments concerning this. It's rattling around in my brain today because after spending 14 days with my parents in our house (and in our car), Tom and I today have been, shall we say, getting on each other's nerves bigtime.

(The details would probably be funny if I wrote about them, but right now, I'm not feeling much like laughing.)

For today, anyway, Pollyanna has left the building. 


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Tea Party With My Cat

I sat upstairs this morning in the room I am using while my parents are here. 

In front of the big windows framing tree tops with bird neighborhoods, we have a bistro table on which, right now, sits a ceramic lamp, a green chipped vase with dusty white flowers and two stacks of books. I sat on one side eating my breakfast muffins and drinking fizzy flavored water and Lennon, our cat, sat at the other chair looking at me. 

His eyes said he was prepared for a tea party so I broke off just a crumb from my muffin and sat it on the table in front of him. He politely stood and placed his hands upon the table, then leaned forward to eat the crumb. He sat back down on his chair, stared at me (he finds me fascinating), and asked for more.

Cats are marvelous. You can play your Glenn Miller big band music CD over and over and they never yell, "Oh for goodness sake! Can't you play something different for a change?" That virtue makes them wonderful tea party companions because you can sit silently and read your Victoria Magazine and dream or you can choose to talk to your cat, steering the conversation wherever you want it to go. 

Either way is fine with them, as long as you toss an occasional muffin crumb their way.

One sunny autumn morning I had a pen light and I shined it everywhere along our walls in our sunroom and watched our cats' heads go left and right and left and right. I remember thinking, "This is one of the best things about life. This is Life, actually, and there's no other place I'd rather be."

I try not to forget things like this. Life is millions of small moments with just an occasional big moment thrown in. (It's not the other way around.)

And since there are millions of small moments, I want to make the most of them--not complain or wish they were different. May I remain awake for each one so that I'll miss nothing.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Vacation From My Vacation

Today will be special.

I'm meeting someone I have known for five years online. Wilma and I met on a Gladys Taber listserv and today she and her husband will come visit me, my house and my family, then the three of us will travel out to the countryside I love so well. I'll give them the grand tour.

I hope it will be grand enough--you never know if people will feel about things the same way you do, but knowing Wilma as I do. I'm thinking she'll enjoy it.

I used to be shy, fearful and rarely took chances, but eventually (after experience) the fear left and I became more concerned about God's thoughts rather than mine. Life changed, I changed and so did my world.

So today Wilma, her husband and I will travel over country roads and see the rainbow-tipped trees, cobblestone houses, farmland and horses. We'll visit the silent little book cabin in the 1910 voting booth, the one where you drop quarters for your books--clink!-- in a tin box by the door. The honor system still works out there in the country.

And we'll see more. Lake Ontario and Tom's and my 'private park' there on its shores. And the orchard fruit stand which was once featured in Victoria Magazine. I can't even describe that place and its barns to you--I would gush.

But there's no time. Now, I must start cleaning this house which I've told Wilma so much about over the years and cook some lunch for my parents and Tom for later and all the hundred other little things you do before you leave for a whole day.

And I'm wishing each of you a day as lovely as the one I know lies ahead.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Thoughts On A Merry-Go-Round

Yesterday on a cloudy, cool afternoon I rode a 1916 wooden merry-go-round with my parents. I chose a 'safe seat,' a little carriage with two benches, and I chose the back bench because you had to step over a little part and left the front bench for my parents.

But they each chose a horse to ride. I was surprised! Especially that my dad would pull himself up on a high wooden horse--all week we have been taking the easy route wherever we go because of his arthritis. But he, and my mom, each climbed up on a horse just fine.

So as the old-fashioned caliope music played (was it Meet Me In St. Louis?) we whirled around and around amongst the horses and little lights and then I looked up in front of me at the back of my parents and felt my eyes sting. "They are here today, but they'll not be here forever. Someday they will both be gone. But right now they are here and we are making another memory." Those were my thoughts.

Yes, those were my thoughts and I had to look away, had to gaze at all the brightly-painted horses around us. The bittersweetness was choking me.

My dad is nearly 70 and he is like a different person. Much more relaxed than he was his first sixty years. More laid-back. If only he'd been that way while my sister, brother and I were young. Part of it, just part of it, is because his doctor told him he must avoid stress or the arthritis will creep over him. He must view everything differently.

Many people, especially men, I've noticed, become much nicer, more pleasant people in their old age. I wonder if they see the difference. I wonder if they have regrets which haunt them when they lay down to sleep at night.

I want something better. I want to relax now while I'm only in my forties. I want to see the world through God's eyes--and I cannot imagine Him all stressed-out, shakey and irate in Heaven. I cannot see Him scared about the future or full of fear of what others will think if He does things differently than everyone else.

I want to have His heart and His eyes and His courage. And if someday my own daughter sits behind me on a merry-go-round, I want all of her memories of me to be sweet.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Alone Time

Oh my. I am remembering how much I love and need and crave Alone Time. I'm more of a loner than I already knew. 

Not getting my daily dose of hours alone, I'm seeing how much my Alone Time keeps me sane. Normal. Not only normal, but downright contented, happy and at peace.

My lack of Alone Time shows up everywhere--it's like I am springing leaks over every part of my body. It's as though the real me is draining away.

And I miss her.

But you should watch me sneak away. I've been hiding (a tad) during these days of my parents' visit, but I'll need to get away more often--I've not been alone enough. 

I have not swallowed enough Alone Medicine.

Please, never apologize for needing or loving Alone Time, ok? The need to apologize should, I think, lean more toward not spending enough time alone. Or feeling guilty about it.

But whatever. For me, I'll never again take my Alone Time for granted, but rather, celebrate, splash around in it, then sit back and sip and savor it.

God makes us the way we are for a reason and if we'll just cooperate--just admit (and live like) He knows best and we know nothing-- it will all come together.

And we will find it good.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Being Brave

When most people hear about being brave, they get certain pictures in their mind. Maybe they see themselves or others standing up for a cause or rescuing people as firefighters would or staying courageous in the midst of a tragic disease. And on and on.

I wonder, though, how many people realize that once you have children of your own, you must be forever brave. Incredibily courageous.

Oh, in all the obvious ways which probably come to mind, and yet in one other--in allowing your grown, adult children to make their own choices without feeling you must always try to talk them out of those choices.

You must be brave to let your children do what you never would have done.

You must be brave to realize your children are not you.

You must be brave to realize what did not work out for you just may work out quite well for your adult child.

You must be brave while watching your grown children flounder. You must be brave to live your life happily in God's peace even though your adult child isn't at that place yet.

You must be brave enough to have faith that they will find their own way and God will be there to pick up the pieces.

You must be brave to realize God loves your children even more than you do and only He can be with them all the time.

No matter what age your child, you must be brave. But once they fly away from the nest your bravery must kick in overtime.

Parents--some of the bravest people I know.


In case you're wondering--everything is fine with us and Naomi. We were even quite proud of her when we took my parents to visit her today. No, this came about from something else which stirred up all the times I have had to be brave as a parent.

Just thought I'd make a note of these things while they were still fresh in my mind.


The Saga Continues...

I'd better post something before you wonderful readers move on to more prolific pastures (blogs). I have missed being here and seeing your bright, shiney faces.

My parents arrived on Saturday (yes, Saija. They are here already). ツ 

We're having a great time, though we've not seen Tom much since this is his weekend for graveyard shifts so he sleeps all day. But I've driven my parents around most of our town and they're enjoying all the old houses. We even hit a yard sale in one of the loveliest old neighborhoods and were able to walk into just about the most amazing glassed-in porch we'd ever seen. It curved around the house and all the glass was in individual panes which looked out onto a tiny forest. Loved that.

We even went curb shopping. All our guests from out-of-state love to have us take them curb shopping after they've seen the amazing finds scattered around our house. But usually our friends like Tom or I to jump out of the car to pick out treasures lining the curbs (I wonder why? Heh...heh). Yet my parents thought it great fun to get out and search for themselves. They even tried talking me into taking all sorts of stuff, but I told them to wait until they see our upstairs room first and then they'd understand why my mantra is now, "Just say no!". Our big room upstairs is stuffed and jammed with unfinished projects which we've rescued from the curb. My 'Someday I'll Get to This Stuff' stuff.

("Just say no! Just say no!").

Today is my mom's birthday and while Tom sleeps I'll drive my parents to our local big-time vacation destination spot (I'll keep you guessing as to what that is). Then we'll return, drag Tom out of bed and then visit with Naomi and her cats in her new apartment.

Busy, busy, busy.

But I did want to say hello. And that I'm still here. And that I'm still thinking about you.

I'll pop in here each time I have a chance--this Blogland is rather my second home. Or perhaps, a second world for me. And it's a lovely place to belong.