Thursday, February 26, 2009

Since the death of my friend some days ago, I've learned something important.

See, I was finding it odd and sad that after over 200 people read my post about losing her, only 6 left their condolences and just two online friends sent me an email sharing their concern.

Maybe I didn't say clearly enough how devastated I was. 

I'm not always good at sharing how I really feel about things, though I try to be transparent. But this time I needed to know people cared that I was hurting over the loss of my friend-- and that my world has changed forever. I can never write to her again or hear from her. She's gone and though I have other friends, no one else is her.

Yet here's what I'm thinking, too. Maybe I'm reaping what I have sown, for I want to say that I leave bereavement comments at blog posts at least three-fourths of the time, but maybe it's closer to half the time. It feels like more, but I'm trying to be honest today. In fact, I'll apologize to you now if you've written a bereavement post which I read, yet did not comment upon. I mean it--I'm sorry.

But this is what I know for certain--from now on, 100% of the time, I will leave a note when I read any post where someone has lost a relative, a friend or a pet. 100% of the time. 

And here is a secret. If you are worried about not knowing what to say, well, stop worrying. Because it doesn't even matter what you say. All I wanted to hear? I just wanted to hear, "I'm so sorry you lost your friend." Or, "I'll be praying you get through this." Or, "I'm sorry you are hurting right now."

That's all. 

I just wanted to know that people cared that I was aching inside. And too? That as somewhat of a teacher in this blog, I'd taught my readers to speak their kindnesses. 

And for those of you who took that time, I am more grateful than you will ever, ever know. Your simple words were like apples of gold in pitchers of silver and they were like a balm upon my wounded heart.

God put verses like those in the Bible for more reasons than we know.


"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

Monday, February 23, 2009

During my senior year of high school my gym teacher was Mrs. Gakle (pronounced Gay-klee). Mrs. Gakle definitely was the 'marching to a different drummer' type of person and I liked her. Cheerful in a way that some of my classmates called goofy, she was the only gym teacher I'd known who didn't wear a cranky mask. Only once do I recall her snapping at a group of girls, but they were acting snippy and deserved it. The rest of the time she flitted amongst us with joy and smiles, making each of us feel special for our abilities, however miniscule.

It was at this school where I earned my gold medal at a gymnastics meet in which both schools were so tiny and I was so average a gymnast (I couldn't even do a back handspring!). Yet Mrs. Gakle made me feel like Nadia Comăneci and Olga Korbut morphed into one. She gave all of us quiet nobodies, hope.

After graduation I went hundreds of miles away to college where I wrote probably 500 letters to folks out of extreme homesickness. I wrote to Mrs. Gakle and felt honored when her first letter arrived. College life was torturous for me, but Mrs. Gakle's letter cheered me and she praised my writing ability, making me feel like the next Emily Dickinson. (She was also an English teacher so I sent her my poems.) Thus began an intermittent exchanging of cards and letters which would last nearly 30 years.

I married that following November (I still have a serving bowl which Loana--as she signed her letters--gave us) and settled in that lovely mountain town where I'd graduated high school. Occasionally I'd spy Loana at the supermarket while wheeling my baby daughter around in the shopping cart and we'd chat a bit. She would tickle Naomi and make her laugh and once I discovered her in front of the dairy section where she exclaimed about how much she loved yogurt. From that day on, I loved yogurt, too.

When my daughter was four, I wrote to Loana and invited her to our home for lunch during her school lunch hour. Even today that boldness shocks me--I was a shy mouse who viewed teachers as Perfect People. But Loana accepted gladly and so I polished our new mobile home and set the table with the nicest of our wedding china. She brought me a sweet bouquet of flowers which I placed in a vase and we talked about our daughters (she ,too, had an only child, a daughter, age 12) and about the high school, but mostly about Life--what was good and right about it.

Tom and I bought a house in town and twice more I invited Loana to lunch. She always brought flowers and always our conversations made me feel unique. We'd speak of sowing good things in order to reap them and after her departures, a peaceful haze descended upon our rooms the remainder of the day.

Then Tom and I moved to Nevada, later New York, but Loana and I kept in-touch. Her Christmas cards were the photo kind, usually of her beautiful daughter and her enclosed letters described the exciting adventures she had alone, with a friend, or with her husband and Kathleen over the summers: visits to other states to meet with old friends or helping build houses for the needy or taking a dance class. She even traveled alone to New Mexico to snow ski and took a sailing class, later, where she almost got caught in the lines during her solo. She fed the wild animals in her yard, shoveled snow off her roof when necessary, sang in the community chorus and faithfully attended her church.

Always, she loved her job and the people she worked with now as a counselor, instead, first at the school where we'd met, later at two schools nearby (a difficult change at first, not her choice, but she wrote, "At any rate, I find out I love kids no matter where they go to school.")

Years passed (as they do) and Loana's daughter married a man with two small children and she was thrilled--instant grandmotherhood! And after 48 years in that school district, she retired. I still sent her Christmas cards and family letters, but I'd not heard from her the last few Decembers. Then a few months ago a friend from high school emailed me that Loana wasn't doing well physically so I sent her a card with an enclosed letter and wished her well and sent my prayers.

Yesterday I read on a hometown message board at Facebook that Loana passed away last week. I emailed my friend and she said, yes, sadly it was true.

It's hard to tell you how I feel... My memories of Loana are all happy ones, but I am sad. I wandered upstairs today and pulled out two faded hatboxes and searched for her old letters and read them. They were so alive! They read like old-fashioned books from the days when people were more into people rather than things. Every sentence rang with the vitality I think convinced me ages ago that Loana would always be here.... that she would always take those adventurous vacations, always be there for her daughter, her sister and her many friends, always be there in a community where everyone knew her and smiled when you mentioned her name.

The world is poorer now without Loana. Yet I think she'd want me and all who knew and loved her to take over for her--to carry joy around wherever we go, to never fear adventure and to enjoy living. To encourage those who feel invisible, to travel places, new and old, and to visit the people we love before they, too, leave us without another chance to share laughter and Life with them.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

So. For nearly 30 years I've stocked-up on groceries and supplies each autumn. We've always lived in snow/ice/blizzard country and I've always hated risking my life just for a sack of groceries, so hence, the stocking-up.

This was the first autumn where I didn't do my huge Organizing Of The Pantry Supply yet this was the autumn I needed to the most because 1.) We now live in the center of, well, Nowheresville, ten miles from the nearest real supermarket (ten miles is a lot when you're talking snowy roads), and 2.) We have only one car (is that inconvenient at times? You betcha. But it saves us tons of money) and Tom drives that aforementioned car to work. Now, when he works night-shift he sleeps during the day so technically I have access to the car. Alas.

Anyway, I have my excuses as to why I skipped the stocking-up thing, but I'll spare you my whining. Yet here's why I'm most regretting my lack of foresight--always before Tom drives home from work he'll phone and ask me if I need anything from the store and sometimes I'll foolishly say that --yes--I need eggs. Or cat food. Or oatmeal.

Why is that a reckless thing to do? Because Tom will then arrive home with the eggs--and a cherry pie. He'll walk in the door with the cat food--and Hostess cupcakes and a tub of sherbet. He'll come in with the oatmeal--and two candy bars, one box of chocolate truffles, four ding dongs, a bag of Doritos and six Hershey kisses he grabbed from the bowl at work.


For the record, I have no willpower. God created me without one ounce. And so all winter I've been getting rounder and I now resemble one of those nesting dolls, minus the scarf over my head. And those tv doctors and fitness trainers may quip all they want about how it's our own fault that we're fat, but that's not true in my case. Nope. In my case, it's Tom's fault.

Well, I was growing tired of waking up nights feeling all guilty. I was sick of pleading with Tom not to bring home any snacks. I've tried everything over the years,I've had him sign contracts, I've threatened to throw away what he brings home (but even he knows I don't believe in throwing away non-moldy food).

But finally I came upon a plan. I decided to appeal to his spirit of competition and propose that we have a race to see who can lose five pounds first. He liked that idea. Only problem is, we can't decide on what the prize will be. Tom suggested that the winner gets to choose the next four movies we get from Netflix, but I told him, "Hey. If I'm gonna try losing five pounds, the prize had better be something more substantial than that." 

So we're still mulling that over.

And you know? Already it's made a difference. Tom called the other night and said he got his yearly bonus and didn't I want to celebrate with some sherbet or something? (Our problem for years has been that we celebrate with food and with our happy kind of life there is always something to celebrate.) But I told him, "No thanks. Go ahead and get some for yourself, but bring nothing home for me." And that's what he did--he got a little container of sherbet for himself. Ah, all those extra calories on his side of the scale, not mine!

The miracle? I wasn't even tempted this time. 

I think it was my making a Life Decision. And maybe because I'm gonna need to be in great shape to dig my Secret Garden this year or that I'm turning 50 next month. But mostly? I think it's because God is here with Grace to help me lose the weight for such a time as this.

I'm cooperating and leaning on both of them like crazy. Cooperation with God and Grace is a whole lot easier than going it alone.


And yes, if you're wondering, I do need to lose more than five pounds. But I'm thinking that aiming for just five would be a terrific way to start losing possibly more.


Friday, February 20, 2009

A Money-Saving Checklist

Here's a sort of money-saving checklist I made-up, questions regarding what I like to call Leaky Hose Spending. Since that's pretty self-explanatory, here's the list:

Are you doing only full loads of laundry? Anytime you can save detergent and water you're saving money. Do you really need to wash your towels or every article of clothing after only one use?

Do you really need aerosol cooking sprays when it's so easy to lightly grease a baking dish or pan with cooking oil? What else can you substitute using something you already have on hand?

Can you cut the amount of sugar called for in baking recipes? (I've used a third--or less- sugar in recipes for 25 years and we long ago grew used to the slightly different texture and taste.)

Can you go to the supermarket fewer times each month? It becomes a fun challenge to make dishes from your pantry and refrigerator when you're trying to avoid extra trips to the market, also cuts way down on wasted food.

Are you making your week's menus according to the sale items in your supermarket's fliers? Are you buying enough of a sale item to last till the next sale? Are you aiming toward never paying full price for most items?

Have you considered once a week cooking? This is great for busy women and can keep family meal times running smoothly and unnecessary trips to fast-food places, history. Find the how-to's here.

Is there a supermarket in your area which you've never tried? You may be missing out on some great deals. Would it pay for you to shop the sales at two or even three different supermarkets which are located near each other? Here's a website which may help you learn how to look for deals (and a whole lot more).

Are you borrowing magazines from the library instead of subscribing to them through the mail? Borrowing books and movies rather than buying them? Have you made a list of free (or super cheap) places your family can go for outings?

Have you looked into downsizing your tv cable hook-up?

Are you brewing your own coffee at home rather than buying it? Are you packing lunches for work rather than eating out?

Are you paying your bills on time, avoiding late fees?

And here's a side note: Ever wanted to make Time slow way down? Years ago Tom and I promised each other for one month we would not make one single unnecessary purchase. Wow. Longest month of our lives!  ツ

Seriously though, it did make us pause before making purchases after that month and ask ourselves, "Do I really need this?" And maybe that's the key to saving money--pausing and asking ourselves important questions before we hand over that cash.


I found an old friend on Facebook, read his info. page and saw under Favorite TV Shows he wrote: "TV is a waste of time."

Man, I hate broad, sweeping generalizations! I do know this same person is hugely into books. Well, I could say that some books are a waste of time--and I'd be correct. (So there. heh.) But would I ever say, "Books are a waste of time,"? Uh, nooooo.

And some music, relationships and sermons are a waste of time, but would I ever quip, "Music,relationships and sermons are a waste of time,"? Again, Uh, no.

Man, when will we ever walk in balance? 

Yes, TV can be a major waste of time-- of course! But you know? It was on TV where I saw travel shows about Italy,  France and Greece, all places where I'll probably never go, but all places which--now--my eyes have seen and appreciated because they appeared on TV.

And on tv I watched documentaries about our Country's history and saw people, photos, letters, battlegrounds, famous homes and so much more--things which took place way before I was born, things which I'd never see otherwise. History came alive for me after I found it so boring in high school.

It was on TV where I saw cooking shows which inspired me to cook that millionth meal. Decorating shows taught me how to decorate my rooms and inspired me to clear away my clutter. And on TV I learned which style of clothes I should be putting on this sorry figure of mine so it won't look so sorry.

TV news showed me what was happening in my world and my hometown. And in front of tv I prayed and cried for those left behind when their loved ones were killed.

It was on TV---, well, you get it. TV can show and teach me what otherwise I'd have a difficult time finding otherwise. TV is not the enemy--it's our out of balance habits with it.

Seek balance--with tv and all else. Don't toss babies with bath water (and all that). Mostly that's all I'm saying today.


And no, I'm not saying everyone must have a television in their home, ok? :) Please go back and read this if you think that's the point I was making.



Oh, I LOVED this. Liked it better than my own 'I Am From.'

Victim or Victor?

Yesterday I watched my favorite sort of Oprah rerun, a show about how to declutter your entire house in 6 months. But what I appreciated most was a certain thought they shared, one which for eons I've reminded myself:

You may not be able to control the chaos which is going on outside your home, but you can control most of the chaos on the inside.

For me, those words spell encouragement and hope. I may not be out there making huge changes in the world, but I am in here, inside my house, making small changes which make me feel better, calmer and more in control of my life.

I'm rearranging my pantry, making more space for the items I am stocking-up. The more food and etcetera I tuck inside there, the more efficient and prepared I feel for emergencies. I'm giving away clothing and clutter in order to help others feel more cared for (and so I'll feel less crowded). I'm painting walls and furniture to feel more at home within this new home of mine and we are better insulating it so to feel warmer and save money while using less energy.

You know, that sort of thing.

We can deplete our personal energy complaining about the Times in which we live, or we can aim that strength toward making changes. 

Always, there will be changes we can make within our own homes. We need not feel helpless or hopeless there.


"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23 (Don't allow a bunch of fear, hopelessness and worry to get in there!)

Just because the world is falling apart, doesn't mean I must.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My (our) daughter recently turned 29 years old. Wow. I remember 29 like it was last month, yet I eons ago named it My Worst Year So Far.

I've already shared some of the details with you here and there.

As I emailed an old friend this morning, Naomi is a professional drummer and is always in one rock band or another and she waitresses on the side. Funny things happen when I tell that information to people in-person. Some smile (or half-smile), some shake their heads--then stop themselves, some begin a clucking sound with their tongue (then stop themselves) and others turn and peer at items in the room or stare at my eyes to see how I really feel about this.

(As I've said before, I'm a watcher and a ponderer so I notice these things.)

Naomi earned a two-year degree in music and then she was finished with schooling. She'd had quite enough of classroom life and books, she told us. Some people are not meant for traditional ways of learning as the world has mapped-out and Tom and I understood that. Though Tom actually returned to college while Naomi was there, (and hugely enjoyed being confused for Naomi's brother), he's not a true traditional learner and I'm certainly not one, either. We both prefer gaining our knowledge in obscure, offbeat ways--here, there, and everywhere outside of boring ol' boxes.

But I digress....

Anyway, Naomi is an amazing drummer, everyone agrees, not just Tom and I, yet she gets paid pennies, relatively. She's an excellent waitress (or server as they now preferred to be called), but well, you can guess the money she makes from that. Although she does receive wonderful tips because she's terrific at her craft (again, not just a proud momma talking), in fact, I love her serving stories, how customers will tell her she's given them the best table service they've ever gotten anywhere. How they appreciate her attention to detail, her smile and her kindness. (She's so sweet... she says she feels bad for people when she must hand them their high bill.)

What am I really saying? Life becomes sweeter, calmer and more pleasant when we stop trying to cram everyone into the box named You Must Do Things A Certain Way If You Wanna Be A Success. You know, the ol', " You must be a business woman, a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, a business owner," rigmarole.

For the truth will always be this: it requires a whole lot of differently talented people to make this world go 'round and if we were all office folk making the same wage, well, The World As We Know It would have spun off its axis centuries ago.

We need each other. We need all the myriad gifts, talents and abilities God places into each of us before He zooms us down into this planet to play our different roles.

And that's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Now, nobody go ballistic or get all offended at (with?) me, but I'm not watching 24 this season. Uh, no.

Well, I did watch two minutes of it last night and thought, "Same ol' same ol' same ol' stressed-out-Jack-kills-a-bunch-of-bad-guys-in-one-day-yet-again. Yawn. Been there, done that, the previous six seasons.

Anyone else feel the same way?

If so--and even if you still love 24--I've got a niftier, cooler, more amazing show to recommend. In fact, it's like 24, but in space. (And the characters are saner.) It's kinda like the old Star Trek series, but a zillion times better. And I loooove it.

What show does Debra love? She loves Stargate Atlantis.

No, really! (Hey, stop laughing. And wipe up the coffee you spit out all over your monitor. heh)

Stargate Atlantis (not to be confused with Stargate SG-1) has it all

Action, mystery, adventure, terrific story lines (stories! Not just solely shoot-the evil-guy stuff), sentimentality, loyalty amongst friends, humor, etc. It's more PG than 24. And the characters are written so incredibly well that you feel as though you've met them before. Like they live in your neighborhood or go to your church or--well, they're awfully real and developed (kudos to the writers).

When they occasionally kill-off one of the main characters? Oh! I'm awfully hot and bothered for days.

Colonel Shepherd--beyond cool. Put me on a dangerous, Wraith-crazed planet with him and Ronon and I'd feel totally protected and peaceful.

Ronon-- can run with a gun like he showed up in the delivery room as a baby with it. Beyond loyal and with an enviable, graceful strength (Tom and I often speak of Ronon's awesomeness).

Teyla--one smart, capable woman who can take care of herself!

Dr. Rodney McKay--intelligent, funny, often cowardly, but can pull himself together and save lives when he has to.

Elizabeth Weir--a kind, practical leader who can get tough when pushed.

Tom and I have Netflixed these shows and we're nearly finished--darn! I want them to go on forever. Season 5 isn't out yet on dvd and it will be the final one (darn! again). 

There's talk of possible movies after the season ends, rather like what's taking place with Stargate SG-1.

Anyway, I've stopped watching so many crime shows and Stargate Atlantis has been a welcomed change. Tom loves these, too, but it still surprises him that I love them more (who'da thunk it?). 

But perhaps I truly like this show because it reminds me we must confront our problems, mistakes and fears and do something about them--lest they just return again to haunt, stifle and incapacitate us.

Again, if you like 24, I'm nearly certain you'll like Stargate Atlantis. I watch it with the same nervous ball inside my stomach. You know about that ball of nerves, don't you?  シ


Again, you can Netflix Stargate Atlantis.

Does anyone reading this already watch this show?


One of the special features showed folks who'd traveled to a Stargate Atlantis convention and whew! Lots of women my age there (and even older). Made me feel less nutty for loving this show. 

Alas, this 49-year-old lady is not alone in her enchantment.  ツ


Monday, February 16, 2009

Yesterday our sky was bright with sun so in the afternoon I threw on Tom's jacket by the kitchen door then sloshed around our yard. 

I picked up dead branches and some boards flung outside our new garage, boards which had messed with the whole chi, feng shui, whatever outside our kitchen window. (Note to self: next Autumn make sure the yard is picked up before the snow flies.)

I slid through some mud and wandered behind the barn to the Bunny Pasture where I'll create my Secret Garden--or start to, anyway--this Spring. Man, it's a huge area back there. And yet I insisted to Tom I would do all the work myself. Hmm. I may rethink that.

Or not. I don't know. It sounds exciting to work on a project so beyond my own capabilities--not so that I can say "I did it all myself" (though that may be part of it, I confess). But rather, if the dream inside my brain becomes reality, well, it will require a miracle and miracles are all about God. 

And I prefer being involved in projects which are all about Him.

But the worst thing would be for me to become overwhelmed and afraid of the whole huge project. Becoming overwhelmed and fearful is like inviting your body to become paralyzed. 

And who wants that?

Instead, may I respect the seasons and projects God has for me in their correct timing--and then be blessed with grace and strength while being obedient.


"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven..." ... Ecclesiastes 3:1

..." it's the joy of the Lord which is my strength..."

"I would have missed out on so many things in Life if I had not simply done them." Ann Kiemel Anderson

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Siren Prayers

(As I'm digging through 1,400 old posts so I can label them, I'm finding ones I'd like to post again (as you've noticed, I'm sure). Bear with me. :)

I dig in my garden and stop when the sirens sail and wail down the street at the end of my own... And I pray--every time I pray for those who are in trouble...that they will be helped and healed and will come to know Jesus--they and all their relatives, too.

And, also, I pray for the heroes.

This is what I began to do when my daughter first learned to drive. She would leave the house in our car and nearly always, within minutes, I would hear sirens down the street. What a test! And I would pray that it was not my daughter who was hurt.

But then God asked, "What about the others? What if others are hurt and leaving this world without knowing Me?"

And He was right. He is always right.

That was eight years ago that I began praying whenever I hear the sirens wailing down the street. Twice a day or sometimes six, but whenever I hear them--I pray.

Who knows? Maybe in Heaven strangers will greet me, folks I prayed for without even knowing their names. People I prayed for every time I heard the sirens.


Do you pray siren prayers, also? I'm just curious.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day to all my readers! 

May your day be happy and may it come with a blue, sunny sky. The sun, here, is trying very hard to shine through wispy clouds so that it can glow through our porch windows and enable me to sit out there and feel as though I'm outside when actually, I'm not. I adore porch afternoons with books and magazines and coffee. You just don't know how much (or maybe you do).

I asked Tom for a certain Valentine gift (he loves it when I'm specific) and he bought it for me--some of that amazing decaf McCullagh coffee I told you about. Our restaurant even ground the beans for him, a kindness, especially since we don't (yet) own a coffee grinder. Really, you must find some of this stuff especially if, like me, you can only drink decaf. Now I no longer need to grumble about that!

Since Tom worked last night and is sleeping, perhaps I'll drive down to our local 50's diner and maybe drop in at our new tiny kind-of-like-a-supermarket. We'll see. We're not due for any more snow until next Wednesday (hooray!), the roads are all dry and there's that peek of sun with a balmy 30 degrees. 

So you know? In February here in Buffalo--that's certainly a whole lot to celebrate.

Again, happy Valentine's Day to you!


Oh, and I so appreciated each comment from you regarding my last post. Yesterday was a very hard day and I had to pull myself away from our local news which played this tragic story over and over for 13 1/2 hours. 

For those of you who took the time and effort to contact me, I appreciate your kindness far more than you realize.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Just a quick note, for Tom and I are heading out early to our former town for groceries and a quick stop at his job.

My sweet online buddy, Susan, emailed to see if we were ok after that terrible plane crash in our area last night and asked that I leave a note here in my blog.

And well, we are fine, just so saddened by the whole terrible thing. Clarence Center is twenty miles from us, though very near where Tom often sees doctors for his back. The tiny center of town there is like a walk back to the 1800's and it's in nearby Clarence where we like to go antiquing.

Good Morning America mentioned that Buffalo has a very small town, close-knit feel to it and indeed, it does. 

From Day One of our move here we felt that, and are still, 16 years later, touched by it. So this tragedy will be very hard on our whole community. Your prayers will be appreciated.

Life is so precious and so very fragile.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Receiving From God--How Sweet It Is

"Be still and know that I am God." 

Now, that's my favorite thing to do. But in earlier years? I didn't get it. I thought that you could only feel close to God if you...

...drove to Bible studies (lots of 'em)
and traveled to Christian conventions
and went to every meeting at church
and read chapters and chapters of the Bible everyday
(so you could make all those check marks on Bible charts).

And if you tried really, really hard--

to be a Good Girl
and said everything right
and did everything right
and performed extra good deeds to make up for your mistakes
and got all A's on your report card from God...

But you know? It was in 'being still and knowing that He is God' where my Life totally changed and Peace came and stayed. Grace, she came and stayed, also.

When I learned simply to receive from God instead of always trying to--

take and get
and earn and force
and cry and struggle
and beg and plead
to get something from Him

--that's when all became brand new. When I learned to receive.

Receiving instead of creating or following formulas on how to get God to do something for me, that's what made all the difference--

--and continues to do so to this very hour. How amazing I can be still and know God at my table with a cup of coffee and we can have a life-altering time. Right here. Right now on a Thursday morning at home.

It still blows my mind.


"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another." John 1:16

"Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him." Matthew 20:34

"I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ." Galations 1:12

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

King of Queens: Marriage Therapy?

Gasp! Another re-run, but something I need to remind myself of sometimes.


Okay, I confess. Tom and I often watch the show, King of Queens. In fact, Tom has been known to smile at me from his recliner and say, "Doug is my hero."

A scary thought, that one.

Probably my favorite scenes of King of Queens are the ones where Doug and Carrie argue. Why? Because their fights sound awfully familiar. I watch them wildly argue about nonsensical, childish things and right there on the screen, the folly and utter stupidity of it all hits me. It makes me giggle, for their arguments act like mirrors, reminding me of the loopy arguments Tom and I have had, ourselves.

Tom and I love Doug and Carrie because they show us what not to do and how not to be. 

They help us grow-up. They illustrate that self-absorption requires a whole lot of energy which could've been used for countryside drives, eating-out, sitting at the edge of lakes and having what one might call a good time. Fighting to get one's own way at the other person's expense, makes Life's Roads awfully rocky, indeed.

Basically, watching Doug and Carrie makes the folly of pride just so darn crystal clear.

Tom was 21 when we married and I was just 19. I always find it so sad when people who have been married 15 or 20 years divorce, sighting the reason as being, "We married too young." I always wonder, instead, truth be told, if it's more like, "We married young, and then we took too many years to grow-up afterward."

And maybe when Tom and I watch certain King of Queen reruns, laughing until we cry during Doug's and Carrie's fights, we're actually laughing at our own arguments. The ones we rarely have now because, having grown in years and in wisdom, we find they are just not worth the trouble anymore. (Not that they ever were.)

We've found that peace between us, as a couple, is a whole lot more fun and in little, silly, you-had-to-be-there ways, we have Doug and Carrie to thank for some of that.  シ


"When you are older you will know that life is a long lesson in humility." ... James M. Barrie


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Skipping Valentine's Day

February is my least favorite month, but boy, do I love Valentine's Day. Really. 

Each February with all its snow and cold I need a warm holiday like that one. Even before February I buy heart postage stamps and Valentines, I wait anxiously then I address my Valentines to friends, old and new, near and far away.

Makes me feel 10-years-old and creative and all filled with anticipation and who doesn't love that?

But I'm not doing Valentine's Day this year.

Nah, it just didn't work out. I ordered some special Valentines from Amazon, some of the coolest retro ones ever, but they sent me a note (late) saying they can't find the ones I ordered and I could cancel or let them keep searching until March 5th. 

I decided to let them keep trying (those were some awesome cards).

Of course, I could have driven down to our drug store and searched for some average Valentines (they don't make 'em like they used to) or I could have created my own. But you know? I felt as though God was asking me to skip Valentine's Day this year. Why would He do that? I believe for these reasons:

1.) So I could remember that there will always be more to February than just Valentine's Day. He is always the best thing about any month.

2.) So I'd recall how important it is to be like mold-able clay in His hands and not the hardened stuff. Would it take an Act of Congress to make me release Valentine's Day this year, or just a whisper?

3.) So to check my attitude--will I fall apart with disappointment just because God asked me to give up one of my very favorite things? Or will I remain happy, secure and thrilled just because I know Him?

I know, sounds ominous just because my Valentines didn't show up. heh. But generally, for me, there's always a "why behind a what." And I enjoy discovering it.

Disappointment--wow! What a potential poison. I see lots of disappointment in Christian blogs lately---many folks are sad over the way our Country is being led and some call it righteous anger.

And there is that, I know. 

But here's something else I know: There is righteous anger, but there is not righteous worry. Or righteous stomach aches due to worry. And even righteous anger was never meant to become a lifestyle.

Just something to chew on, like an antacid today. シ


I just may do Anytime Valentines later this year. I wrote about those here.


Monday, February 09, 2009

Need some coupons for healthy products? The latest issue of Family Circle recommended this site, Mambo Sprouts. You'll find coupons for Kashi cereal, Stonyfield Farm yogurt, Clif bars and more.

I mentioned in an earlier post that it pays to learn how to make your own soup and white/cheese sauce. Something else? Spaghetti sauce. I've made my own for decades and saved tons of money and have avoided buckets of added salt. 

As with anything, recipes abound online.

When I was young, the thing to have at the mall was an Orange Julius. Now I can whip up an Orange Julius at home in about two minutes, a low-fat, low-sugar type. The recipe is something like this, below, although I never measure anything. I just make it.

This makes a smallish glass for two of us:

3/4 c. orange juice
1/2 c. skim milk (or 2%)
1 tbs. sugar (or less)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. yogurt--if you have it on hand. Otherwise, skip it.

Pour all in a blender at lowest speed for a few seconds. Easy! We love drinking this when we're craving some kind of a snack at night but have previously eaten all snacks in the house.

(Some of you will be tempted to leave comments about how orange juice and milk, together, make you sick. I get that already, ok?)  ツ

Oh, and for those who wondered, our ice-cream maker is made by Rival. There are only three pieces, it's the easiest thing on Earth to use and you store the tub part in the freezer so it's always ready to use when you're craving something cold.

And when you crave some hot coffee? Well, have you ever tried McCullagh coffee? Oh. My. Goodness. 

Our favorite restaurant in town serves it and it's always amazing, even decaf! They recently began selling bags of the stuff and I'll definitely have to get some. McCullagh has made coffee for 130 years-- tons of time to make it perfect, right?

(I've not found a place online to buy McCullagh. Let me know if you do, ok?)


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tom and I are going out to breakfast this morning--it will be our once-a-week-eating-out time. 

Although, I'd also like to go out for coffee and perhaps dessert later this week at our town's 50's diner, the one which almost always has one car (or less) out front whenever Tom and I drive past. They weren't doing well before the economy took this huge nosedive and now? Ours is such a tiny town, we have only one traffic light and no real supermarket, if that gives you any idea.

Anyway. Here is why I mention all that: We keep hearing about cutting back and cutting back! Everybody is cutting back on eating out and traveling and movie theaters and instead of using certain services, we're all trying to do things for ourselves. And of course, much of that is necessary. I get that. I do that.

But here's what I want to remind everyone, in case you've not thought of this already (you probably have)--

If we all totally cut everything back to the bone and never go out to eat or to a movie theater and never buy clothes or furniture new (only used) and never pay for upkeep and repair services to our homes, etc., well, the economy will suffer even more. More people will lose their jobs because there'll be no more demand for what they spend their lives providing for the rest of us.

I know, I know. "But we're all running out of money for anything even resembling 'extras'!"

Okay. But here is how Tom and I look at things, we who are trying like crazy to pay off the money we put into our barn so we can get out of debt again--

--always, there will be that very real biblical Sowing and Reaping Thing. Always it'll be true that what we reap, we will sow and it is in giving that we receive. Sow to others in the midst of our own needs and we will reap good things. 

But keep and horde every last dollar out of fear? Good luck to Tom and me. Not only will we likely stack up more needs, but we won't experience the wonderful joy which comes from helping others keep going or stay in business.

Sometimes, I've noticed, we get stuck because we've not been giving out. We've interrupted the flow. And that's what sowing and reaping is all about--a flow going out so that fresh flows can come back in.

It is in giving in faith, in expectation--not in fear-- that we receive from the God who so wants to bless us. I've shared that before here and I'll share it again. Because it's oh so very true, even in 2009. Even in an economic recession.


"Give and it shall be given unto you, pressed down, shaken together..."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Saving Money On Food

I've still got those grumblers on my mind, you know, the ones from Oprah's money-saving-show message boards. It's sad how panicking and pessimism can make common sense dribble out of your ears.  シ

So hey. I'm going to address some of their questions and gripes by sharing a few more helpful hints here.

Some (defensive) women said they're into eating fresh, healthy food so how do you stockpile that in your pantry, huh?

Uhm, here's how: You grow a garden and/or you buy fresh food on sale. You read on the Internet how to freeze foods and how to can them. And you stockpile frozen fruits and vegetables (for canning or freezing) from the supermarket when unfrozen versions aren't in season. You make two casseroles at a time and freeze one for later.

It's not rocket science, folks. But it does require extra work, reading, research and organizational skills, something we frugal homemakers have used for years while women who worked outside the home believed we were just clowning around on the couch.  シ

How do you find coupons online? You just Google them. And if it takes a few minutes to fill out a survey first at a coupon site, you chalk it up to doing a little work for your savings. Fifteen minutes to save $10? Why not? That's like you're making $40 an hour. 

Why must everything come to us so easily? Work is a good thing. It keeps us off the streets (in more ways than one).

Where do you find the good coupons for healthier stuff? You look on food packages. You buy the Sunday newspaper for the coupon supplement. You look into refunding at sites like this and this and this.

What happens when you don't have money to grocery shop for a week and must make what you have stretch? You grab your clipboard and take a little stroll around your pantry and your refrigerator and you make a list of meals you can create with what you have.

I love to do this and since I'm always searching for excuses to skip grocery shopping (all that noise, effort, money!), I make-do, often.

Here's a partial, sample list of what I'd probably write on my Use What I Have On Hand List:

French toast (with homemade syrup)
Homemade soup (using leftover chicken and stir-fried vegetables)
Homemade macaroni and cheese
Homemade ice-milk (love our ice cream maker...I just toss in milk and fruit, a little sugar and some vanilla, then set it spinning)
Cold cereal, orange juice, toast
Chicken and rice and vegetables casserole
Vegetable lasagna
Tuna sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
Peanut butter on celery
Homemade yogurt
Fruit salad with nuts
Egg salad sandwiches
Homemade potato salad. Mashed or baked potatoes.
Homemade blueberry muffins

Ok, you get the idea. Don't begrudge making-do. That spoils the fun.

I hope you know how to make good soup. I've not bought a salt-injected can of soup in decades. Your own homemade soup is a zillion times healthier, tastier and cheaper. Start with a recipe online or just wing it. It's hard to ruin homemade soup. Practice until you become an expert.

Same goes for a white sauce and/or cheese sauce. Learn to make your own and you'll be able to make tons of creamy dishes without all the salt or fat of canned soup or sauces.

I've made my own cookbooks from recipes online and ones torn out of cookbooks. It's always ready when I am with my make-do recipes. I just have to open it.

Well, that's enough for now. 

If you can convince your brain that saving money is a terrific challenge worth conquering, well, you'll be farther ahead than you imagined. You might even keep it up when 'your ship comes in' and you're sailing pretty. 


Need recipes? Every recipe you could ever possibly need is online.

 There's no longer a need to buy expensive cookbooks. (I do, though, still buy old vintage cookbooks at yard sales for pennies because I love to peruse and dream through them. 

Occasionally--I've even been known to cook from them, also.  シ


"When the going gets tough, the tough get going." (Not whiny, heh.)