Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Of Blogging Kindred Spirits




Tom and Naomi went online two years before I did. 

Those were back in the days when I believed the modern online world was certainly not for me. I made assumptions based on what other people told me rather than making up my own mind after checking facts. 

But then I got some sense.

I went online for myself and discovered more kindred spirits in one year than I'd found in the previous 40.

And everything changed. 

I stopped thinking of myself as a, well, freak of nature and the only person left on Earth who actually respected June Cleaver, enjoyed being an apron-wearing homemaker and who took notes from 1930's woman's magazines while humming along to Big Band tunes.

I'd always been like that. As a child I was out of kilter with friends from school, church, the neighborhood and even my own family. Only rarely would I find someone a tad like me. Most times, people shook their heads or gave me lectures about how I, really, should become more like everyone else, even throwing in Bible verses to prove their point(!)

But then, as I said, I went online and found other vintage-loving folks like myself.  At last we've found each other and at least we are happy in our own little retro world.  ツ

Yesterday, thanks to MN, I found yet another nut--, uh, kindred spirit. She is Amy and lives on Petticoat Lane in Blogland. Her post/essay, Modern Retro Housewives made my heart sing and dance and even more free to be the Retro Housewife I truly am.

And for those of you dear kindred spirits who visit with me here in my retro Blogland home, I just had to share Modern Retro Housewives with you. After all, the best things in life are meant to be shared, especially with ones friends.



******

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Time For Dreams





Somewhere I read, "Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is to take a nap."

Amen.

And similarly, sometimes the most spiritual thing I can do is take a little break from this blog. Taking time to come away, ponder things in my heart.

One of my ponderings? Photography. For ten years I've toyed with becoming a photographer, but not until now, this year, has the time felt right to begin.

If there's anything I've learned, it's that, with God, timing is everything.

In my life, nearly always He's given me dreams years before He meant me to birth them. I've watched Him do that with other people, also, especially with mothers smack dab in the middle of their mothering years. They're surrounded with tiny, apron-pulling children and a huge, new dream--but almost no (visible) way to chip away at the new ideas.

No, but many ways to carry out this current one--this dream of raising children--if they'll but knock, ask and seek.

I think it's a test. Will we run ahead on our own, on only a far-off vision? Race impatiently, insecure in our current life? Or will we wait for God's blessing, His grace, and His way--and His timing?

I think, with God, the forming of our character to match His, well, that will always come first with Him, rather than our riding wild and undisciplined with our dreams. 

'Our gifts can take us where our character cannot keep us.' Heaven forbid that we become another member of the list of shipwrecked dreamers, especially if we also dragged down other souls in our sinking.

Grace. Following Grace is key. 

Many years ago Tom's Dad told him never to force anything when working with tools, otherwise the tools could break. Over and over Tom repeated that advice to me when he caught me frustrated, trying to yank and force tools, batteries, hammers and nails to fit or work or twist when they were created to work other specific ways.

And well, dreams are like that.

There's a time, a birth date, for each dream, a season to grow and mature while we wait. And then times to place our toes in the water or later, to swim in the deep. Seasons to ask for help, other times to work alone or sit back and meditate about what to do next. 

But heaven help us if we get the times all mixed-up!


******

"My times are in Your hands..." Psalm 31:15

"Where there is no vision, the people perish..." ... Proverbs 29:18


******

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Taking Out The Trash




In my family, I'm the one who rolls the trash can to the curb on Thursday mornings.

Do you think I mind? No, not on sultry, never-did-cool-down mornings or even the snow-heavy, ice-blowing ones, because --always--something happens when I turn back toward our house with its lamps glowing gold at the windows.

Always, home memories fall upon me like pixie dust.

There's just something about those windows. I stand before them with my long coat thrown over my robe and hesitate to move lest I shake those sparkling memories.

It's those windows, I think, which act like eyes to my memory and remind me of mornings so sunny, the light came streaming inside and made all our furniture look new and as though I'd planned all along to have it blend together like magic.

The windows remind me of times my family laughed together and were so one in spirit that the harmony was tangible, sweet and lasted for days and we smiled instead of argued and didn't need words to convey that this home, for these days at least, contained a peace no one wanted to wreck.

And it comes to me that the (many) shelves of books waiting inside, ones I only dreamed of having 15 years ago, books which are no longer a far-off dream, are sitting like other worlds there behind glass.

And I remember the company-- families, couples-- unhurried around our dining room table, sharing meals and thoughts and compliments and later times I, home alone, played Big Band music to fill the house and pretended it was the 1930's, dusting the oak stair railing in my apron, or sitting and reading 1920's cookbooks and issues of Good Housekeeping when bolero jackets were all the rage.

Or when I sat on the front porch wicker chair on October afternoons watching leaves deepen to red, then dance while falling and feeling the pulse of God in my heart and throat until I could barely breathe.

You know, memories like those--they're the ones which swirl all together in that fairy dust.

Did we only have good times here inside this house these thirteen years? Of course not.

But the best, sweetest and warmest memories,those are the moments which rain down upon me when I take out the trash on Thursday mornings like this one. It's only the beautiful memories I see dancing in our lighted windows when I turn back toward our house, all while my neighborhood sleeps.



******


"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things..." Philippians 4:8

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

In Front of the Candles


Bundled up in my long black coat and on my way out for an icy-cold walk yesterday, I found a card from my good friend, Wilma, inside my mailbox. I ripped it open and laughed right out there in front of my house. I couldn't believe how much this picture resembled me sitting in front of those 15 candles in our fireplace during those three days of no electricity and no heat!

Well, me as I see myself inside my head--always looking twenty years younger than I look in real-life.

Anyone else ever do that? And then shock yourself when you actually look into a mirror?

I guess that's just one reason why it needs to be "well with my soul". So that no matter how much I change on the outside, things on the inside will remain unshaken, at peace and confident--in God. Basing how I feel about myself upon such a changeable thing as how I look--a risky business, indeed, one not endorsed by the Creator.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My Rebellious Side




You probably think I'm some sweet, complacent--nice--person.

Huh!

I can be very rebellious. In fact, being rebellious even makes me smile--at times.

Just how rebellious can I get?


We have a dishwasher, but I never use it. I wash dishes by hand using a natural, toxin-free laundry detergent.

I sometimes watch Dr. Phil (deal with it) and Oprah even though many of my friends would rather die than watch them.

I'm approaching 50, but am growing my hair long anyway. It's about halfway down my back. I plan to keep it.

I do not like parties, potlucks or most situations where there is only small talk and big, noisy crowds (and I'll make excuses to avoid them). Exceptions would be the baseball games at our nearby stadium and estate sales (where, even though I love walking through old houses, I still slip away if people stand close, breathing down my neck).

Sometimes in emails or in this blog I tell people how I feel about certain things, even though I know darn well I'm going to offend some of them.

I don't let people talk me into things I don't want to, or feel I shouldn't, do. I've nearly always been good at saying 'no.'

I moved to New York with my husband and daughter even though no one else thought we should (and have proceeded to have the time of my life for 13 years).

I raised my daughter differently than the way I, myself, was raised.

I'm decorating my house with old furnishings even though most people I know prefer new.

I read tons of kids' lit. even though most of my friends stick to adult books. 

I've never once regretted dropping out of college.

I wear aprons nearly every day. For many years I wore only dresses, no slacks. (But now I wear both.)

Sometimes I eat an apple without washing it first(!)

My, my. I'll bet you never thought I was such a rebellious woman now, did you?

Actually, some of these things are humorous, but you'd be surprised at how many controlling, er, people I've irked, frustrated by my decisions. 

Really want to be used by God? Sometimes He'll use us to show others what's inside their own hearts just by being who we are. (Will they judge us? Will they gossip? Will they toss us aside because we're different?) 

We don't have to like being used that way, we just need to be willing to let God use us however He sees best, even if that means we are misunderstood in the process.

Sometimes, that's just Life with God.  Deal with it.



******

The Lessons of Waiting




I used to hate to wait for pretty much anything.

Sometimes I still hate to wait, yet waiting is a Good Thing, for I learn lessons while I wait.

Probably the list of lessons would fill both sides of a page, but here is one:

While I'm waiting, I learn whether I really want what I believe I want--or not.

Lightweight example 1: When I bid on books or jade-ite or aprons on Ebay, I never actually place my bid on Ebay, itself. No, instead, I place my bid for the item through Auctionsniper.com. Why? Often while I'm waiting for the auction to close, I change my mind (no, really!). I realize I no longer want that book, that piece of jade-ite after all. Or I find the item cheaper someplace else. And well, it's a breeze to change your mind at Auctionsniper--you just use your cute little index finger to push the delete button. Change your mind at Ebay, and well, good luck!

Waiting gives me time to decide what I truly want, helping me to make right choices and save money, time. 

Lightweight example 2: I keep a wish list at Amazon.com and you know what? I'm surprised at how often I delete books and cd's from my wish list after a few weeks have passed. Or it amazes me that some items remain on my wish list for months because I chose to buy something else with my monthly allowance instead. When something lingers on my wish list for a couple years, it's a sign, for me anyway, that I don't need/want it after all.

There are many more lessons one gains during the waiting process we so often despise. 

But God knows the wisdom of waiting. He knew if we got everything we wanted instantly, poof! We'd not really appreciate anything. And well, our lives would be crowded with things, people and recognition we wanted on a whim or thought we'd die without.

We'd be weighted down with mistakes and junk, instead of walking light and free with the One who knows us like the proverbial book. He has a plan for each of us, one too important to be pushed back a few years because of moods and  flights of fancy.


******


"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." ...Matthew 6:21

Monday, October 23, 2006

Walking Into a New Season



"To whom much is given, much will be required and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." Luke 12:48


******

Sometimes I don't feel quite right, restless, like something is wrong, but I'm not quite sure what it is.

Oh, not shaken and depressed or anything, just unsettled, unsure of what's missing to the point where my peace just isn't what it once was.

For me, usually that means a whole new season is coming. Perhaps, it's even here.

And that sounds exciting when I write it down like that, but usually a new season means deeper humility (ever been humbled by God?) and areas of obedience, ones where it appears I can no longer get away with anything, not if I want to walk in contentment, peace and joy on normal days.

To step up higher, I must go to those deeper places if I want to keep growing. Always the choice is mine. It's these choices God gives me which throw me sometimes, all this freedom to do my own thing or His. The way He never forces me to do anything, but always invites me, instead.

But it's the peace which comes only from obedience which helps me choose His ways and the history I have with Him, also.

When there's a changing of seasons, the worst thing I can do is to make a wrong turn or try going only where I have gone before. What I have done before will no longer work in this new season. That's the whole point.

No, there are new things to learn and old ways to shed. New ways to become and there's only One Person who can lead me through all of that. Only One Person who can initiate the journey in the first place.

And all that's left is for me to cooperate.



******

Sunday, October 22, 2006

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night...


...so I took pictures of my tower room.

And yes, my camera came with a flash feature, but if I used it, you'd be able to see more clearly the dreadful curtains (which I'm trying to replace). And besides, that stark light just ruins the whole cozy effect on this, as I said, dark and stormy night, complete with rain lashing at the windows.


Have you ever seen the movie, Holiday, with Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn? Well, the playroom in that film has the feeling, the aura, of what I'd like for this tower room. (If you're familiar with the Melendy family of The Saturdays, the playroom in Holiday is the fleshed-out version of it, down to the piano and trapeze. One has to wonder if Elizabeth Enright was inspired by Holiday's playroom and wrote about it a couple years later--watch Holiday and judge for yourself.)

Anyway, considering I have none of the furnishings of either Holiday or la playroom de la famille Melendy, it looks like my imagination will be exercised to the maximum.

But that's a good thing. It's usually an enchanting thing when I can look at things through the eyes of my imagination and be just as pleased as if I were peering through at the perfect room in the house of someone else.

Not to mention it's always a lot less expensive that way.



******

Storm Story




Though I'm mostly avoiding the newspaper, lately I've been reading about our October Surprise Storm (the one we were not warned about, which made it worse). 

Today's issue carried lots of peoples' storm stories, and I especially liked this one which I'll share, below. It reminded me how often we (especially as mothers) try to spare our children from work when in reality, we're keeping them from growing-up with a sense of responsibility.

Young Man on a Mission

Lisa Carney of Williamsville was stunned when her husband put their 11-year-old son, Brent, in charge of the fireplace after their power went out.


"Relax," the husband told her, "the kid's a Boy Scout."


She gasped as she watched her son tear up an old newspaper to use to get the fire going.


"I'll supervise closely, and by tomorrow, I'll be taking care of this and everything will be fine," she thought to herself.


Carney was amazed as she observed her son carefully tending the fire, day after day following the power failure.


"A man on a mission, without complaint, he would rise from under the warm blankets and endure the cold for wood," she said.


"When the power went back on Tuesday night, I was surprised to see disappointment in his face," she said. "I kissed the top of his head and asked him what was wrong."


Brent told her: "You know what, Mom? I really didn't mind the last five days."


Carney told her son that had he been a big help to his family.


"Now you think you are going to go back to being treated like a kid, huh?" she asked.


"Yeah," he sighed.


She then suggested he now scoop up the ashes in the fireplace, wondering if he would complain.


"OK, Mom. I've got it," the boy said without hesitation.


"I guess my October surprise is that my son is growing-up," Carney said.


*****


You can read more of our storm stories here and here

Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Bit More Normal


Today feels more normal for me. I'm sure your prayers have helped--thanks!

While still in my robe this morning, I rearranged my tower room and this picture shows my favorite corner. 

Last Tuesday, Tom and I finished watching, Waking Up Wally. We both loved it-- extremely. It's the true story about Walter (Wally)Gretzky, father of hockey great, Wayne Gretzky. In the 90's he suffered a stroke and this movie is taken from his book about his long road back--or rather--the new road he's had to pave following the stroke. 

Tom and I cried (in a good way) through the whole thing and we both give it thumbs up--way up! There's some language (which our TV Guardian was unable to remove), but the rest of it is inspiring, enough to nudge anyone forward anyone struggling with self-pity.

Tom McCamus, the man who played Wally--wow! If I were handing out awards I'd hand him many. Only toward the end of the film did my brain remind me that Mr. McCamus, in real-life, did not suffer a stroke. His performance was that good, that incredible, and after reading a few reviews, it appears I'm not the only person who thought so.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Learning and Living Wiser




I'm floundering a bit. Still recuperating from our area's worst, most destructive disaster in 137 years of record-keeping.

Last night the D.J. on our local news station (a funny guy normally) said that, after receiving so many calls during the storm-survival call-in shows, he thinks most of us are going through a grieving process. We've lost 13 people, thousands of trees and the secure feeling we once had inside our homes (many families had trees crash through their roof, or their basements flooded, or electrical wires pulled from their houses or lost their electricity anywhere from 3 - 8 days).

I thought, "Yes! That would explain why I've just been sort-of wandering around my house, unable to step back into the pattern of my days and feeling sad for what appears to be no definitive reason.

I've not told you about the deaths, but since two of you mentioned using Coleman stoves, I just have to say this--Of the 13 storm-related deaths in our area, 8 were due to carbon monoxide poisoning. And actually, there were over 230 non-fatal cases of carbon monoxide poisoning reported by area hospitals. These sad cases happened because people used their gas kitchen stoves to heat their homes (the biggest cause of poisoning), or they didn't place their generators far enough away from their houses or they put them inside an attached garage (even with all the garage doors opened, that's still dangerous).

In one case, an elderly (91) tenant and his landlady died because they actually brought their generator inside their house and placed it in a downstairs hallway.

Our local news radio station over and over told people not to do those things. And perhaps I shouldn't even share these stories, but maybe they can help save lives.

One man died while shoveling the snow in his driveway beneath a tree which his wife kept telling him didn't appear to be safe. She helped him clear the driveway awhile then (begged) him to come inside the house with her and leave the rest of the snow till later. But he wouldn't listen to her and said he'd be in soon. Well, a huge branch fell on him. His wife, from the window, saw it happen, and she and the neighbors pulled off the branch from him, but it was too late. 

In the newspaper report she sounded so angry and frustrated because it didn't need to happen-- he could have shoveled later when it was safe (there was no place to go and businesses were closed anyway) and he hadn't listened to her concerns. I exactly knew and understood her same frustration--many has been the time when Tom gets it into his head to do something and there's just NO stopping him, no matter what I say or do.

Sigh.

Then today an elderly man died from injuries suffered from a fall from a ladder two days ago. Sigh. Elderly people and ladders--no! Don't risk it. 

People have helped each other like crazy and the 2,500+ electrical workers from out-of-state have aided people in neighborhoods, too. Had this older man asked (or kept asking), I'm certain he could have found someone to climb the ladder for him.

Such heartbreaking happenings, especially when it hits so close to home. There is a sense of grief very heavy in the air surrounding all of us.

But three days ago I finally got out of the house and over to the supermarket and as I stood at the check-stand I looked all around me at the people from my town. And I suddenly felt very proud of them.

In the 13 years I've lived here we've all experienced lots of record-breaking storms (though this one was by far the biggest) and still, our people bounce back. They allow storms to toughen them and make them wiser so that they deal with the next ones, better. 

They become stronger, not bitter and crushed and that's partly why I love living here.

And now I'm giving myself a break during this time of grieving, taking  time away and being gentle with myself. And chalking this up to yet another thing on the list which will help me be more sympathetic toward others who are going through something similar---

---so that I'll be able to give them something more than just a quickly-quipped Bible verse and a "God bless you." Any time I can allow hardships to mold me into a more compassionate person, my heart becomes larger and better able to give to others in their time of need, giving them I wish others would've done for me. For us.


******

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Comfort Books And Etc.



I felt a bit melancholy today. 

For two afternoons I've taken walks around our neighborhoods, walking mostly in the streets rather than the sidewalks, so to be underneath fewer branches which still hang precariously after that killer storm. The saddest part is seeing the piles of branches lining both sides of the streets, some stacked higher than 7 or 8 feet.

It's almost like a war swept through our town, a war which the trees lost and now find their golden-leafed arms and legs lying by the road, dead.

And well, one needs comfort when one sees such tragic things which ought not to be.

So even though God is still the God of all comfort, I enjoy reaching for the occasional comfort book during such times. Probably my favorite comfort books are those by vintage children's authors such as Elizabeth Enright, Eleanor Estes or Catherine Woolley (and many more similar authors whose books grace my shelves).

But instead, today I chose a book by Grace Livingston Hill, my 1930's dusty hardback edition of The Christmas Bride. It was just right.

Now, I know how some of you feel about Grace Livingston Hill's Christian romances--I've peeked into your blogs when you wrote about her. But I've read Grace's books off and on since I was 14 and generally, I still find them comforting. Oh yes, they've got old-fashioned tendencies, ones such as, if a woman wore her hair short and painted her mouth with lipstick, Grace considered her to be a naughty woman, indeed. After all, these books were written in the 1890's through the 1940's and times were extremely different (and yes, Grace was about as straight-laced as they come). 

And even though most of Grace's books followed the same ol' pattern and you always know (from the beginning) who is going to end up with whom, still, in certain of her books, I still skip the entire middle and read the ending because the suspense is just too nerve-wringing.

So perhaps you've never heard of Grace Livingston Hill? Here are two great websites dedicated to her--just the old sepia-toned photographs, themselves, are enough to warrant a visit:

Here.
And here.

So what are your favorite comfort books?

And does anyone else have a current car book? As in, a book you keep in the glove box of your car so that, while you're waiting for your slowpoke spouse or activity-ladened children, you can have something to wile away the time. My current car book is Forty Plus and Fancy Free by Emily Kimbrough. A delightful, funny book, indeed, so much so, that sometimes I get perturbed with Tom if he returns to the car in a quick fashion. Often I've whined, "Couldn't you have taken longer?"

Oh, and just one more thing, non-book related. For those of you who printed a copy of my emergency supply list, I would add two things:

An old-fashioned telephone. Cordless phones will not work when the electricity goes out and cell phone batteries cannot be recharged.

And one or two battery-operated or wind-up clocks, at least one with an alarm. We have four battery-operated clocks on our walls and they helped to make life feel more normal during our electricity-less ordeal. Our battery-operated radio also had an alarm on it, so that came in handy since, because Tom had to still work each day, we both had to be up by 5:30 each dark morning (technically 5:15 for me).

Oh, and personally, I would never, ever just have an electric stove and an electric water heater. I listened to our local news station again today, the one with the call-in shows, and one woman said her family has not been able to bathe or eat hot food since last Thursday when the lights went out.

Oh my.


******

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What's In There?



"Deep calleth unto deep..." Psalm 42:7


******

So there I was, sitting inside my house for three days, mostly alone (Tom being at work 12 hours or more each day), except for Jesus, our two cats and the assorted mice in our walls which like to tantalize those aforementioned fat, lazy cats. We had no electricity all those days and I felt squeezed--and not really liking what came gushing out.

Because when you have no electricity you have, instead, tons of time on your hands, especially when your town has a driving ban and it's too dangerous even to step outside for a walk, due to limbs falling down right off the trees. And so as you sit there in your cold home in front of a few candles, wondering if you should risk the carbon monoxide thing anyway with your kitchen stove--well, as I said, you have a lot of time to think.

And you find out what it's really, truly, like way down deep on the inside of yourself. You discover how deep--or shallow--is your own well.

Mine wasn't as deep and bottomless as I had previously supposed.

No, I whined a lot. Complained. Murmured about the cold and the candles which I must keep lit, which felt at times rather like keeping spinning dishes balanced on sticks. I groaned about not being able to read my email or to whine to all of you here in my blog and felt sad about the trees our community lost and got morbid pictures inside my head of a treeless Buffalo next autumn. 

And I was disappointed that, until 8:00 that first night, none of our friends or relatives called to see if we were still even alive ("Does no one listen to the news? Or do they just not care about us?"). Then at 8:00, my online buddy, Saija, called and restored my faith in mankind.(Though, four days later, she's still the only person who has called. Hmm.)

So much of it has to do with that old issue of control. 

Yes, I could have used the time to catch up on all the books and magazines I'd been wanting to read, but well, I just didn't feel like it. I mean, the situation wasn't perfect--no perfect reading light, no perfect circumstances, no normal, usual pattern to my days. (I did reread L.M.M.'s Anne's House of Dreams by candlelight and that felt pleasant.) But still, when you can't control your situation--when you can't even make a lamp work--you see for yourself that you're not the it-takes-a-whole-lot-to-ruffle-my-strong-feathers person you believed you were just last week. 

You catch yourself acting as though, "If I can't have it my way, I don't want it at all." 

But by the next morning, after Tom left for work and another long, quiet day began, I took myself by the collar (figuratively) and said, "Debra! You are simply NOT going to ruin today like you did yesterday. Instead, you're going to stop complaining and spend this day finding the bright side of every tiny thing."

And big surprise--I had a much, much better day. 


I found a local news radio station and listened to people phone in with their storm stories and I counted my blessings and prayed for those people whose problems were much greater than mine. 

I thanked God that no trees fell on our house and that we still had hot water and a new-to-us-from-God stove top which worked. And I confess--I reminded myself that at least I didn't have a whole houseful of bored, whiny kids to keep entertained. 

Also, I felt grateful that our daughter was safe in her home and I wasn't sick and the majority of trees surrounding our neighborhood were still standing and we were pretty much all stocked-up on our emergency supplies and maybe I'd find lots of email from caring friends when I went back online.

And so went the next day, also, and both days ended up being much pleasanter than the first. Oh, they were no picnic, but I tried to nip each moan in the bud and the hours didn't feel like the eternity they'd been on Friday.

Complaining only ruins things. It shows a lack of understanding that others have it much worse than I do and that my eyes are on me instead of God and the people He gives me to help.

And besides, desperately missing electricity and all the technology it brings might just be a sign that I've based my happiness too much on a switch on the wall or a computer or tv screen or radio or stereo. 

May I get to the point--someday--where I believe with all my heart that if I just have God, everything will be all right. I've asked Him to lead me in that direction, even if it means sitting in the dark sometimes.




******


Silence and hardship introduce us to our real self.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Electricity (Or The Absence Thereof)




How incredible to get power restored to our house last night at 10:00 p.m.! 

We'd already gone to bed and were asleep, but I'd purposely left a lamp switched on just in case electricity came back , a little fan, too--both as a sign of faith and so that I could run down to the basement and take Lennon's insulin out of the chest freezer which we'd been using as a refrigerator during this emergency (worked out great. Tom would just bring home a bag of ice from his ice maker at work each night and I'd stick it on top of everything in the freezer).

Anyway, the lights! A miracle. We felt such joy. I thought, "Oh! I will never complain again for the rest of my life!" (Yeah, right.) 

Tom switched on the heater and after I got the insulin out, I ran to the computer. heh.  Suddenly we were both wide awake. Tom watched the football game, I read emails and comments at my blog and we both celebrated in our hearts that we had electricity again. I even remember thinking, "Hooray! Tomorrow I'll be able to do the laundry and vacuum the carpet!"

Oh, to always be that grateful for such simple tasks.

As Elizabeth mentioned in the comments of my last post, this kind of thing is a good reminder for people to check that they, themselves, are prepared for such emergencies. Sometimes the emergency preparedness lists you read are so huge and daunting, they discourage you from even trying to gather anything at all. But here is my simple list of the things we were most grateful we had on hand:

Flashlights and batteries. Both the regular type of flashlights and two which are shaped like a D and stand alone.

A radio and batteries. (I want to tape the number of our local news station onto the radio so I'll find the station right away next time.)

Boxes and boxes of candles (years ago Tom found around a hundred pastel candles on the curb, probably leftover from a wedding) and lots of matches. Also, many candle holders, though you can make makeshift ones if you use foil to hold them straight up inside a short glass, etc. Also, thick round candles last a long time--I use unscented candles since we have pets. (Scented candles have been known to kill pet birds.)

Cash.

A tank full of gas.

Canned and boxed food, juice and coffee. (One guy on the radio said he used his coffee maker to make coffee even without electricity, so I tried it. Worked great! I just heated it up a little more on the stove afterward.)

Insulin for our cat and syringes. Food for our cats. Vitamins for us and Tom's meds.

We also had bottled water, but we didn't need it this time.


If you have nothing else set aside, I'd have at least these. We have lots of other stuff in our emergency kit, but those things are the ones we used most often and found the most necessary.

And oh, I want to buy a little cassette player so I can play my old time radio show cassettes next time. Those surely would have helped time fly, especially when it became too dark to read.

And again, I am so grateful for wonderful electricity. I stood at my dream room windows after 11 p.m. last night and saw lights in the windows across the landscape of houses where there'd been just eerie blackness the last four nights.

Suddenly we were all connected.
Suddenly we were all celebrating the light.



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Found here. (If you go there, click on 'next' on top of the photo for more photos.)

I'm Back!



Oh my.

My poor area has suffered since Thursday night. I've never told you where I live but I will now-- I live in a lovely old suburb of Buffalo, NY and not only did 400,000 homes in Western New York lose their electricity last week, but hundreds of thousands of our huge, gorgeous trees were either damaged or destroyed. 

They came crashing down because they were at their height of autumn glory and the heavy snow clung to all the leaves which normally, later in winter, would have been gone. The falling branches brought with them live electrical wires and telephone poles. 

Hundreds of streets looked as through a tornado had swept through them.

It's been wild. Tom and I were without electricity for exactly 72 hours. See the picture above? That's where I spent most of those days, there in front of the candles trying to stay warm. Though fortunately, it never got what we back here call super cold outside. And too, we still had our hot water so we did the ol' fill-the-bathtub-with-hot-water-and-close-the-door trick so we had a place to go to if we did start to feel chilled.

Or rather, I should say I. For you see, beginning Friday morning Tom worked three of his 12-hour day shifts so mainly I was alone for the whole outage. (He'd come home tired and we'd both go to bed around 8:30.) Mostly, the first day was the hardest--talk about technology withdrawal! I kept thinking, "Oh, if I could just read my email and take a peek at my blog just once! Just once!" And wanting to watch my dvd's and to read in good light, etc. And cringing at the sirens every hour and the chainsaws roaring and ripping apart brilliant orange tree limbs.

Earlier that morning I had to go out front with my black coat slipped over my robe and with a broom, push the snow off of our Japanese Maple which looked so sadly cattywampus-burdened. Fortunately I was able to save it, but our 30 - 40 year-old lilac bushes in the back, though I did take a broom to them, too, already had snapped in the middle bush.

The last two days felt better. The technology withdrawal eased, I didn't even care about the computer (well, I still cared about you) and I found a delightful local news station on our battery-operated radio, one which had phone-in talk shows where people shared their storm survival stories. The dj's were excellent at keeping people's eyes on the bright side and their hearts hopeful that help would soon be coming. Not to mention wonderful at keeping us from feeling we were shivering inside our dark houses alone.

Basically, Tom and I had it easy. Our area didn't get as much snow, less than a foot, I think. We don't have a sump pump,but tons of people now have flooded basements or have had to keep bailing the water from them every two hours. And if your basement floods, it knocks out the pilot light on your water heater which means you have no hot water, not to mention you can no longer walk around your basement after that, less you be electrocuted(!) And too, I'd just nearly completed the first phase of my winter pantry stock-up so we had tons of food and candles and batteries.

The driving bans are slowly being lifted, and although I've not left the house since last Thursday, part of me hesitates to go out today (Tom has the day off). Why? Because I don't want to see damaged or downed golden trees. Trees such as the ones I, just before the storm, added to my new blog here.

Please pray for our community. Power is being slowly restored, but some lives were tragically lost, people are still suffering in their cold houses and many elderly people are stuck in their upper level apartments because they cannot walk down stairs. 

And we've lost many of the trees which make our area the gorgeous place it is--especially in Autumn.


***
Want to see more about it? Go here and click on the link in the 4th paragraph. (You'll have to sit through a commercial first...). There will be two reports--be sure to wait for the second one if you'd like to see more film of the devastation (though it doesn't do it all justice).

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Guess What We Found This Time?


Yes, while driving around our neighborhood yesterday, we found this nearly-new stove sitting upon the curb. 

Guess what we just happened to need?

And believe it or not, this is the second nearly-new stove we've hauled home from the curb. We moved into this house 13 years ago and the stove which came with it, well, it was brown and so. Ugly.

Less than a year later Tom found a much nicer, off-white stove on the curb and lugged it home. All these years later it worked mostly ok, but the handle fell off if you didn't open the oven a secret way and the knobs were peeling, the chrome was all scratched, and well, the poor thing had suffered mightily at the hand of Naomi and myself.

This new stove works wonderfully, the door included.

So anyway, I just thought I'd share our latest curb story with you. And too, our neighbor helped us move the old stove out and the new stove inside just two minutes before snow began falling. Snow? Snow? So early in October? (Here's the scene from our front porch this evening.):

But even so, is God good or what?

P.S. I am so not making this up! 

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

When I Just Enjoy God




When I just enjoy God--

I don't impatiently want things and stuff--
I feel like I have all I need,
(I just want more of Him).

I feel calm (or excited),
Life feels great--
The future looks bright
(Because there'll be more time with Him).

When I just enjoy God--

The day feels wonderful
(Even though nothing much is happening).
I feel love toward others
(Even if they're not exactly loving me back).

I feel anticipation, optimism
Because I feel connected to the One
Who has everything under control--
And my room becomes a cathedral.

When I just enjoy God--

It's like the sun shines on cloudy days,
Any ordinary day can feel like Christmas morning,
Walking around the block feels like freedom
And Peace accompanies me wherever I may go.

When I just enjoy God.

Monday, October 09, 2006

While Strolling Through The Park Today...


 I ate my lunch inside our car at the park and then took these pictures for you. Our town appears all dressed-up for a party







and isn't this cool? 

It's our old community swimming pool which was created in 1944 in memory of those who served in World War II. You enter through the doors below into a circular hall then climb the steps to the pool above. This is one busy place in the summer!

And here's the opposite side of the pool. You can kind-of see the slide at the right which was added many years later. I like the old-fashioned lifeguard chairs, especially when their umbrellas are added.
(Click to enlarge.)

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Oh! I just discovered a new-to-me blogger and she has taken some amazing Autumn photos (makes mine look like kindergarten, but then, maybe if I could ever get around to reading the camera's instruction booklet, my photos might actually look like something). Anyway, prepare to have your breath taken away here!

And of course, there's PhotoJenic... I come away from her blog any time of the year and always feel as though I've taken a vacation in the great outdoors.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Of Mice And Me





Your comments about mice in this post are making me smile. And they made me remember the mouse-filled part of my life.

***

Basically, it was all Beatrix Potter's fault.

I read that, as a young woman, Beatrix kept mice inside her bedroom closet and she'd carry them out to sketch and to play with them, also. 

She'd place one of the mice on a ceiling lamp rim and it enjoyed falling down upon her bed which she always moved just below the lamp. It was the mouse's favorite trick (although how Beatrix knew that for certain?).  γ‚·

One day Beatrix placed the mouse on the lamp rim and just as the mouse jumped, she realized she hadn't moved the bed to just below it. The mouse fell to the floor, Beatrix gingerly picked him up, then he died, slowly, within her hand.

She was devastated and felt guilty for a long time.

I thought about that story for a few months. It was a sad story, yes, but still, it was just a mouse!

And then Naomi brought home two pet mice when she was 20. The mice were cute--both little girls, one black, one white. She'd hold the tiny, hairy things and it would give me the eebie-jeebies just to watch her. I told her never in millions of years could I hold a mouse. 

Never say never. 

Eventually I did hold the black one --it was the funniest mouse; for awhile it was in a cage where it could squeeze its way out. When I'd come in to check on it? The silly thing would look at me then race to its cage and squeeze itself back inside.

And then around 20 months later, Naomi went on a road trip with an all-girl band over to England for a whole month and she needed me to care for the one remaining mouse--the black one. And oh dear--it died while she was gone. 

The morning I saw its still little body, I cried. And more--Beatrix Potter's story about her mice came back to me and suddenly I felt like our house was no longer a home without a mouse in it.

So I went and bought another mouse for Naomi, a white one. I even trained it to submit to being held. Well, Naomi returned from her trip (I'd told her over the phone about her mouse's demise) and after a couple days, she told me in a "well, uh, I hate to tell you this" kind of way. She didn't really want another mouse. 

So the little white mouse became mine. Two weeks later, she gave birth to nine more mice.

Oh dear. All of a sudden I was the caretaker of 10 tiny mice.

Fortunately, Naomi had extra cages because she'd also recently gone through a hamster stage (oh, the adventures with those). 

So there I was feeling rather like Beatrix Potter, herself. The keeper of 10 mice! Eventually I had to separate all the males--male mice are brats! Always one must be king if you keep them together, and they fought until there was nothing left to do but give each one a cage of his own.

The four female mice--now, they were sweet! They all got along, cuddled and took care of one another. (And I could make a little sermon out of those differences, but I won't.)

But then after a year and a half, the mice began dying, one by one, over a six month period. And with most of the deaths, I would cry. Especially when the mother mouse died, for she had been my first, my favorite.

Then I chose another favorite mouse, a male, and as he lay dying I stood over him, petted his tiny back and whimpered, "No, Little Mouse, please don't die." I prayed for him and still he died--and I sobbed. Just sobbed.

And two years after I'd bought the mouse for Naomi, we were once again a mouseless house. (Well, except for the wild mice I often hear over my head as I sit at this basement computer. Oh dear.)

Part of me wanted to start all over again--the part which loved how the mice acted happier to see me than most of the people in my life did. I especially appreciated them for that. 

I enjoyed holding them and listening to my old Bob Hope Radio Show cassettes while I cleaned their cages down here in the basement. They'd lived down here in their own little room.

But I just couldn't face all those inevitable deaths again.

Yet now, a few years later? Sometimes I toy with the idea of keeping mice again when we finally settle in another place (hopefully in the country). The mice were so cute, tiny and fun. So who knows?

I mean, like they say--never say never.



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