Sunday, October 31, 2010

Here's Something Extremely Rare...

...... a decent picture of me. :)

(I'm in the center, Tom's to my left and Darcy is to my right.)

Usually I hate most pictures of me, you know the ol', "Who is that chubby, washed-out old lady??" thing, but in this photo I may just look a tad younger than my 51 years. And that's the shocking part. heh.

Johanna must be one magical photographer, indeed.


In the photo we're standing beside the American Falls at Niagara Falls on the U.S. side. Oh, and that's Canada (Niagara Falls, Ontario) behind us if you're not familiar with The Falls.

When Your View Is Snatched Away

I'm still remembering our September vacation. It makes me smile, even all these weeks later.

Except for one thing.

When we visited Tom's parents in their senior community of duplex houses, we saw the most appalling thing. Every ninety feet (or so), there were these concrete block 'dumpster buildings' being constructed. Ugly grey, three-walled and probably 7 feet tall, and that's without their soon-to-be-constructed pitched roofs.

And where did they construct these monstrosities? Just feet away from the living room picture window of Tom's parents' duplex as well as others here and there. Gah! Now their view of lovely trees, lawns and the sky is blocked by the harsh lines of concrete blocks.

I should have taken pictures to show you, but I didn't.

We couldn't believe it. I mean, their previous dumpsters were small and took up so little space on the curb. In comparison, they were barely noticeable. But now! Ugh. Those new structures practically stand there as citadels, what with their ventilation window reminding us of those openings in forts through which troopers would shoot long rifles.

In fact, one of our relatives (not Tom's parents) said he would be tempted to use that window for such a purpose in this case.

Gah. I told Tom and his parents that, had that happened in front of our house, I'd have been livid. I'd have thrown a huge fit. Tom's mom said that's just what she did, but oh well, there was nothing anybody could do. The powers that be, the owners of the complex, had come up with the (lousy) plan.

What a test! Could I pass that test? Well, definitely not without tons of Grace's help. What a challenge to forgive those who stuck concrete blocks in front of my only living room window. Would I be able to keep my sunny attitude? Could I think of a creative way of decorating that nearly floor-to-ceiling window within the rules of the complex? Could I rearrange such a small space and perhaps hang one of those wallpaper mural sheets (if that was allowed) and use that as a window to the outdoors, instead? Could I create a room so sweet and pretty that a ruined view wouldn't matter?

Only with much help from Grace. Much, much help. And I've a feeling that every bit of practice I've had from learning to receive from Grace would be squeezed into play in that type of situation.

I do love windows, their view, their light, especially. And well, some tests are harder than others, but all are passable with aid from God and Grace. But for me, this would be a really tough test, indeed.


Philippians 4:13 (Amplified Bible)

"I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [a]infuses inner strength into me; I am [b]self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency]."

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Of Old Drive-Ins and Ways of Life

We keep having these magical weekends.

Yesterday Tom and I drove through the countryside to two estate sales, some yard sales and I found 3 Fiestaware cups (lovely Evergreen ones) for fifty cents each and matching plates and the perfect little bookshelf  for our front porch. 

I'd asked Tom to build one for me just the day before so, hey, I made his life easier.

And then we went to Reid's. Or I should say, and then we went back to the 1950's. Wow. How have we missed this place all these 17 of our New York years? I mean, they have $1 hamburgers, $1.25 hot dogs, $1.10 French fries and shakes are $2.00 or less and an indoor dining room with retro Reid's photos and with a big window overlooking the woods and outdoor tables. The building is from 1946 and is in a country-ish setting and well, it's our new place. Not that we need to visit there all the time, but hey, it's perfect for our yard sale weekends.

It's yet one more retro destination which zooms us back in Time. And you know? We've discovered lots of those here in Western New York, but the hilarious thing is that, according to newspaper journalists, magazine writers and old friends these old vintage drive-ins with food at cheap prices Do. Not. Exist. They're gone forever just like women who wear aprons and happily live as homemakers and families like June Cleaver's and farmers with white farmhouses with barns and stone fences.

Well, we're being lied to by cynical people who don't get out much. 

I see all these things constantly--they're still around for me and for anyone with the gumption and optimism to find them. Which makes me wonder if I'm being fed this type of news from ignorant, biased reporters, how many other lies am I being told and how are they affecting the way I view my world?


Never give-up looking for what makes your world a better place.

"You can't believe everything you read." ... copied


Friday, October 29, 2010

Seeing Deeper

Before I start this post, there's something I forgot to tell you about our train trip. Namely, not once--not even one time!--did I have to whip out my driver's licence. And remember, we traveled by train from New York to Nevada and back again(!) And nobody ever searched my suitcase or made me remove my shoes or twirl around with hands upraised or any other nonsense which, well, makes me hate flying. It was as though Amtrak never even heard of terrorism which, alas, made me feel as though we were traveling back in the 1930's, ever so far from 2010.

Loved that.

Anyway, also while on the train, we swished past some backyards which were heaped full of rusty junk. Old cars, appliances, boxes, bicycles, pans, glass, etc. And always I would wrinkle my nose and think, "Good grief. How can they stand to have a yard like that??"

But then we arrived home and discovered the show, American Pickers.

Wow. That show is my current favorite-of-all-time (hopefully I won't lose you because I said that) and the most incredible thing? Now when Tom and I drive past the very occasional wildly-cluttered-with-rusty-stuff yard, both of us point and exclaim, "Ooooh! See that? Can you imagine what treasures those people must have? See their barns? Don't you wish we could look around inside them and buy some stuff and then sell it? Oh, that would be fun."

All because of a tv show, Tom and I now view messy yards in a whole new light. And because of the people who Mike and Frank have introduced us to on American Pickers, we have compassion for those types of collectors and yes, hoarders, as well. The people we've met on American Pickers are some of the sweetest, old-fashioned folks ever.

What a lesson! We've been reminded to look past the What and to see the Why--and the Person--instead. To view the Who, beyond the Do. To keep in mind that the heart is in the deepest part of a person and cannot be totally seen and understood just by seeing his or her outsides. Nor by viewing his or her backyard, either.

What matters is how we see what we see.

What really matters is compassion.


"The greatest of these is love." ... From 1st Corinthians 13


And yes, I wrote that first paragraph because of the new airline search rules which go into effect today. Gah. As if I wasn't already feeling violated enough the last time I flew! :(

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Of Thoughtful Communication

Being online. Isn't it wild?

I mean, you send a long, newsy, witty, chatty email to a friend or relative, asking thoughtful questions about their days and telling them what's new with you, your family and your life, perhaps sending pictures, even. But what you get back (if an email comes back, even) is maybe, "Hi. Got your email. We're ok here. Love, Moomoo."

Communication. The good kind requires time, effort and practice and I'm, frankly, still working at it, but I like to think I'm better at it than I was, say, five years ago.

It's tempting to go all bonkers and steamy-eared about the people who never seem to 'get it.' The ones who whine, "It's just too hard to write more than two sentences. My brain freezes."

Yet as with many areas in this life, I think what matters is that we keep asking ourselves, "How well am I communicating? How thoughtful am I toward others?," rather than ranting, "The people in my life are thoughtless, clueless clods and they can just sit waiting for another email from me till they get dusty. So there."


Want to know the instant, easy way to become more thoughtful and a better email writer/communicator? Just remember this one simple Bible verse:

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Write the kinds of emails/blog or Facebook comments you'd like your friends to write to you. Ask the kinds of questions you'd like someone to ask of you. Write as often as you'd like your friends to write to you.

Show the love toward others you'd enjoy receiving from them. But, yes, tweak it all a bit to meet their custom-made needs, which requires some real listening on our part.

But I can do that. You can do that. I think we all can do that, especially with some practice. And patience. And doing it all as unto God, for He designed us to live that way and He knows it's all possible with Him.


Want to save money on groceries? Here's one of my favorite lists of how-to's.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Meeting God At The Spa

Okay, okay. So Tom and I didn't really go to a spa yesterday. It just felt like we did.

It was an MRI place, one I told you about months ago, but this time I had my camera with me---this autumn the camera stays inside my purse so I can stick it out of our speeding car's window and take tons of photos like this:

And this:

Er hem. Anyway, the nurse even gave us the same lovely, tiny waiting room just for ourselves, the place with the perfect lighting (though the little chandelier wasn't working):

... and the beyond-comfy chairs and pleasant blue walls.

Well, they escorted Tom to his MRI then I had that closet-sized room to myself.

Oh wow.

What is it about that room that makes me feel God's always there waiting for me, welcoming me to a new secret place with Him? Well, partly, it's the music. The perfect soundtrack music for my book was playing. The Quilter's Apprentice, my 50 cent rummage sale find was incredible reading while I snuggled in the chair. Already I'd enjoyed my free (actually good) coffee before the room became ours, otherwise, perhaps it all would have been too perfect. Perhaps.

That blue room with its lighting and music and sink-down chairs feels like the warmest hug. And echoes with whispers, too. Whispers which, well, uhm, whisper, "Relax. Feel safe. Drop your heavy thoughts and leave them on the floor." So that's what I did--and came away limp as Raggedy Ann.

Man, I need a blue closet like that here at home. :)

But right now? That ain't gonna happen. Our upstairs guest room is kinda-sorta like that (kinda), but Naomi and her cats and fish are up there now until to-be announced.

Yet I do have my formica table in our dining room window. There's no blue walls or perfect lighting or squishy chair there, (though there's a chandelier and my own good coffee), but you know? It's still special, it still works for me because God waits to meet me there. I pull out my chair and hear Him whisper, "Here I am." And actually? That's all I really need, anyway.


Thanks so much for each of your comments about our yard sale rug and other stuff! It's fun sharing that sort of thing with others who also enjoy the hunt.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Yard Sale Adventures

For ever so long I've wanted a rug with certain autumnal colors and today we found one. And for just $10. Well, it was originally $15 but good ol' Tom asked if they'd take 10.

Wow. It's a huge rug and fits perfectly in our dining room and now I'll have autumn in there even on the snowiest of days. (Our old rug was well, old. Too small. Stained. It 'had had it', as my mother would say.)

(Looks like we're living in the 1920's, doesn't it?) :)

And see the rooster, below?

He was free at a table across the street from the yard sale where I also found this:

There I was holding this sketch and staring at this girl's face and the owner, a woman, came up behind me and asked, "Do you like that?" I replied, "Yes, it's lovely." Then she said, "You can take that."

Wow! I thanked her and she went on to tell me and her friend beside us that she'd bought that sketch at a gathering of Buffalo artists in the 1960's because she found the girl's face beguiling.

I find it beguiling, too. And now I keep her sketch below one of Naomi, one created by her art teacher in high school:

Then last week I bought these two scarves at a sale for just 25 cents each, entwined them, then placed them amongst these dishes.

And lastly, here's the tin which a man gave to me at a yard sale last week, the tin and it's assorted contents.

And ok, it's scratched and has no lid, but hey! It looks nice in my kitchen and it was a gift. From the yard sale man? Well, yes. But mostly I see the tin, the sketch and the rooster, the scarves and the $10 rug as gifts from a God who is taking very, very good care of us. As He always has and always will.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Of Amazing Normal

Oh, amazing yesterday.

I made breakfast for us and our visiting friends then they left early, around 8:30 for NYC hundreds of miles across our state.

I straightened the kitchen, put dishes into the sink to soak and then Tom and I watched an old episode of American Pickers (since the History Channel had neglected to put up the new one) and sat there eating leftover cherry pie.

The sun burst out from behind the clouds and I stripped the beds, did laundry and made a quick lunch for Tom since he had mega errands to run and would not return until near 5 p.m.

So he drove away and I hung blue sheets, shirts and damask dinner napkins outside to dry in a sunny, windy 48 degrees and came in and warmed-up leftovers and began watching a movie online called Neverwas, then paused it probably ten times while I sat-up the ironing board, retrieved the iron from the pie cabinet and then carried in some nearly-dry shirts and napkins.

Then I ironed and ironed and watched Neverwas (and felt sad about Brittany Murphy), did more laundry, hung more sheets then watched the movie, ironed, folded. I felt like June Cleaver. A lot.

And during a few moments of Dr. Oz, I learned that cranberry juice is better for you, more potent, even, than green tea. Oh, the happiness of that news since feeling bad about not liking green tea at all was a bummer. Hooray!

The autumnally-glorious trip to Niagara Falls on Wednesday was oh-so-fun and spending time with our long lost friends? Glorious. 

Yet you know? My yesterday, my normal ol' Thursday, was equally amazing. Don't you love it when your Normal Days are just as special as your Special Days?

It's possible, you know. Sometimes it just takes a few years to get there. Trust me, I know.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hanging Around Niagara Falls

Oh my, but we had a nice time yesterday at Niagara Falls with Darcy and Johanna!

It was soooo windy! (Or invigorating as I chose to call it.)

But oh dear, it all went by so very, very fast...... Thanks for coming to see us, Ladies!


And just for fun, tomorrow there will be an estate sale in the Southern Tier where they have this lovely old-fashioned barn:

Amazing, huh?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What I've Been Doing Lately

We have company arriving today!

Two friends of ours from Fallon, Nevada who we've not seen in seventeen years (because they moved shortly after we did) are traveling cross-country and will arrive around noon-ish. Following lunch we'll take Darcy and her naval-officer daughter, Johanna, to Niagara Falls and hooray! This is our last day of warmth, 60 degrees, before tomorrow when it starts spitting snow.

God's timing is terrific.

So anyway, I've been cleaning house and the yard and am being tested like crazy. You know, like when right after you vacuum a rug, the cat walks over and throws up on it. Or you wash the bath towels and suddenly they are needed for all sorts of cat-washing, water-spilling emergencies and must be washed and hung to dry again. Light bulbs burn out, you can't find that extra bedspread and something gets chipped and needs to be repainted.

I've had whole weeks of that sort of thing, tests galore, and it's been a test just keeping my peace. But I crave peace, so I keep on keeping on, trying not to complain, but often failing that test, too.

Alas, with all these tests I'm thinking it will be a great visit. ツ


Has anyone had any experience with Ad Sense? I'm considering adding it to my blog for a little extra income. But if it's going to be a headache, I'll pass. So let me know what you've heard or experienced, ok?

I've also considered returning to writing poems for publication and perhaps devotionals.

Many money-making possibilities exist out there. It just becomes a matter of staying pro-active, watchful and discovering which jobs God wants me to accept.


Monday, October 18, 2010


So last week, Tom and I drove past a Methodist church with a large sign: Huge Used Book Sale.

Oh my! Made a U-Turn, parked, tried a few doors before finding the correct one and then wow. We stood in the doorway of the fellowship hall and beheld what resembled an acre of books. Books upon tables for as far as the eye could see.

What a rush! The stuff my dreams are made of.

And more, the books were organized. Genre signs hanging from each table and since each book stood spine-side-up it was a cinch to peruse what probably added up to 2,000 books. There were even boxes of books beneath the tables, each book, again, spine-side-up so to be easily read.

Those Methodists were cool. They surely knew how to hold a book sale.

Hardbacks were all 50 cents and paperbacks were just 25. I bought five books, Tom bought three.

I've read three of mine so far and each was a delight. Perfection.

If you like kids' lit. you'll probably like these, too.

The Secret of the Marmalade Cat by Milton Lomask.
A daughter and her mother travel to the old motel they've inherited only to find many things going wrong, as though someone hopes they'll sell.

Pastures of the Blue Crane by H.F. Brinsmead
A 16-year-old girl in Australia, raised only in boarding schools, graduates then immediately meets the grandfather she never knew. They both have inherited a small old farmhouse on the Gold Coast from the father/son so they travel by train to the house-- one is determined to keep it, the other wishes to sell it for the money. (I loved this book! Positively devoured it.)

The Exiles by Hilary McKay
Four young British sisters (I believe the oldest is 13) are sent to live with their grandmother for the summer, a grandmother who they barely know and do not like. What's worse, the girls are voracious readers but they discover their grandmother has only four volumes of Shakespeare and a handful of cookbooks and there's no library or bookstore in town.

Oh wow. The Exiles was one of the best kids' lit. books I've read, ever! And a first novel, even, by the author. Each page was a delight, a perfect book to make my eyes twinkle anytime, any season.

Just thought I'd mention these latest finds.


I also bought The Day Must Dawn by Agnes Sligh Turnbull, which at a glance, looked similar to A Lantern In Her Hand.

Also, Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner, a story which takes place in Berlin.


Yesterday In Our Backyard

Oh, yesterday was autumnally glorious, all windy-blowy, sixty sunny degrees with laundry hanging on the line and rainbow trees towering over me, taller than any problem on Earth.

(Click on any photo to feel more like you were there.) :)

A corner of the 'ballroom' with the oak trees in their orange gowns.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Saving Money Game

Of course, when Tom was laid-off, my task became 'pull out all those money saving hints you used to do constantly but had slacked off.'

So now I'm back to cooking from scratch. And turning off the oven or stove top five or ten minutes early (depending upon what I'm baking/cooking) since saving energy equals saving $. And baking more than one dish at a time.

And I'm doing laundry at off-peak hours and hanging it outside to dry or inside on my trusty rack (something I've never stopped doing since long ago we gave away our drier).

And I'm clipping Sunday's coupons, mostly just for household and cat-related stuff since we're eating less processed food. I'm stocking-up on sale items, combining them with coupons when I can and shopping more often at Aldi's.

I'm keeping better organized so we can see what we have rather than racing out to buy more of what was simply buried around here. I'm taking better care of what we own so that it will last longer.

I'm using our basement chest freezer, freezing my garden produce and extra bags of frozen vegetables and loaves of bread, etc. from Aldi-type stores. Keeping it full (so it runs more cheaply), keeping it ready for winter.

I'm making my own coffee and pouring it into a thermos before our weekend yard sale trips so to not be tempted to buy coffee. I'm aiming at making our own snacks ahead, before those trips, and am sometimes making crock pot meals before we head out of the house so we're not tempted to go out to eat, even at cheap places (which is one temptation we too often give into, though lately, because Tom has been selling much through Craig's List, we do 'celebrate' those deals with a take-out meal. But hey.).

I'm turning off lights and dvd's players and chargers (when I remember). And keeping the thermostat as low as I can, wearing extra clothing to keep from turning it on at all on these cool autumnal days.

I'm paying our bills on time so to avoid late charges.

I'm taking fewer supermarket shopping trips, making the most of when I do shop so that my chances of buying unnecessary things goes down with fewer trips. I'm totally avoiding 'window shopping' since who needs all that temptation?

I'm saving our spare change in a pickle jar. We call it vacation money, but I do grab a handful of quarters on weekends to take with me to yard sales.

I'm asking myself, "Do I really neeeed this?" before I buy just about anything. Though if it's an item at a yard sale, something my quarters will buy, something I love but is more a treat than a necessity--I'll go ahead and buy it. The worse thing one can do is to say No!No!No! to everything unnecessary and thus become a fearful, God-doubting penny-squeezer who always feels deprived.

I'm using more imagination than cash around the house.

I'm still making my own household cleaners, mostly from vinegar and baking soda, buying vinegar in huge jugs, but of course. Vinegar is still my favorite fabric softener for the washing machine.

And I'm having fun at saving money. Making it all a daily game at which I'm aiming to win. And part of winning? Not letting myself become cranky, worried and jealous-of-wealthy-folks regarding needing to live this way.

Points get taken away for those.  ツ


Wondering when off-peak hours are for running your appliances? Here's a way to find out.