Thursday, May 23, 2019

Our Neighbors Are Moving Today

Sometimes (often?) God places people in our lives as invitations for us to choose a softer, kinder, more light-hearted way of being. 

A Top-5 favorite post of mine, one from 2004.


One cold January morning in 2001, our 92-year-old neighbor died. 

I watched them carry his sheet-draped body from his front door just outside my sunroom windows, where I've seen a few neighbors whisked away by ambulance never to return, then later, their loved ones dressed in black, coming back from funerals.

Al's house stood empty for 18 months. Dark windows at night. No life there just below my own window sills, no paper boy leaving the newspaper. Only eerie silence.

In February of 2002 I experienced sinus problems and they eventually turned me into a slug, a real sloth. Months later I dragged myself to a doctor, got some antibiotics and began to feel better. But the godsend book, Sinus Survival, helped most, for I took the author's natural, common sense advice and have felt like my nearly-normal, semi-healthy self since.

(I'm getting to the part about my neighbors moving away. Honest.)

Those six months of being a slug meant our yard suffered. Tom doesn't do yard care--that's my department--so by August, the month I finally began to feel better, our yard resembled travel pamphlet photos for Death Valley.

Enter: our new neighbors.

Mario and Audrey walked through Al's house with a realtor that August and after an hour, Audrey knocked on our front door. Tom answered and the first thing Audrey said after 'hello' was, "Are those your weeds beside the driveway next door?"

Well, uh-oh. The previous spring I'd dragged Tom over to that side of the house to show-off my beautiful perennials at their blue and white peak. We'd had a wet Spring and they were gorgeous. But now, three dry summer months and sloth-like-Debra later, they were gone. Dried up. Wilted. But he didn't know that.

"You call those weeds?!" he asked. The gasp in his voice sounded a bit like offense. 

Tom came and got me and I talked to Audrey out on the porch (she apologized for offending Tom). I told her I'd been sick and the yard had suffered the most, and yes, those were our weeds out there.

Well, Audrey and Mario bought the house next door. And so it began.

Audrey is like Ray's mother on Everybody Loves Raymond. She looks like her, speaks like her. At least, that's what I told everyone, because, hey! She does.

All winter I anticipated the following Spring and a tremendous reunion with my yard. This Spring I would have energy! I'd plant tons of flowers and wear my gardening dress. Have romantic, quiet times alone out there beneath the towering lilac bushes and I'd sing little songs. Watch the birds snack from the feeders.

Finally Spring returned and I skipped out to my yard. I dug around the little yellow daffodils with a fork from my kitchen, fed them fertilizer granules with the fork, also. And then, there came the retired Mario. He stood over me. 

"You're using a fork? I've got some garden tools if you want to use them. Come over and use them anytime. Oh, you prefer to use a fork? Are those daffodils? They sure look short. I've never grown daffodils. Are they hard to grow? Is that as tall as they get? I always thought they were taller. Oh? They're miniature daffodils? I didn't know they had such a thing. You can borrow my gardening tools anytime. They're just sitting there. They're better than a fork."

And on and on.

My romantic visions of quiet, Victorian-like dreamy mornings in the garden were dashed. Day after day Mario was out in his yard, too, just when I was. 

He'd come over and talk--every time. Or if he wasn't there, then Audrey was, saying things like, "Do you mind if I ask you a question? Why do you always wear dresses? I told my daughter, 'The whole world wears pants, but Debra still wears dresses.'"

Oh my. I became sneaky. I started creeping out in the yard before the sun had even finished rising. I gardened on tip-toe. I needed time alone out in my garden and in my shadowy yard, I got it.

But you know? After a couple weeks, I missed running into Mario and Audrey. I'd gained a sense of humor about our earlier conversations and now I missed them. (Go figure.)

So I returned to the later hours out there, you know, when Mario and Audrey would be puttering across the tiny hedge. And then hey, we began sharing our extra garden vegetables. Audrey gave me some squash and I didn't know how to tell her, "No thanks, I'm pretty sure I hate squash." My conscience wouldn't let me toss it, either, so I cooked it with onion and spices and loved it. 

We eat squash all the time now.

Sometimes Audrey stood under my sunroom windows and talked with me. She raved about our beautiful spring flowers which she enjoyed from her kitchen windows. She invited me inside her house to see the wonderful improvements her carpenter son made and gave me old magazines she'd bought at a yard sale because she knows I love old stuff. She called me just to chat. 

Mario said I was a hard worker (made me feel like Hercules--in a good way) and we even found the world's best carpenter by way of Audrey and Mario. He was their grandson, Glen, and he built our remarkable, best-in-town carport.

And on Tom's graveyard shifts? I realized it was comforting to look over at their lighted windows on dark nights and know that Mario and Audrey were inside, cozy and together.

But today Audrey and Mario are moving. It's a long, sad-ish story (nothing we said or did, though. heh.). My sunroom windows are now playing the scenes from Mario and Audrey's Moving Day.

They're moving only twenty minutes away to a home in the country and they've invited us to come visit them anytime. Already, we're looking forward to that first visit, so that's good news.

But I'll miss Audrey and Mario and learning lessons from living next door to them. Neighbors like them cannot easily be replaced.


As man draws nearer to the stars, why should he not also draw nearer to his neighbor?
...Lyndon B. Johnson

Our backyard those two Mario and Audrey years.


Back to 2019--

You know how I enjoy reading obituaries from the town where Tom and I met and married? Well, one obit this week had paragraph after paragraph listing what all this woman had accomplished: her jobs, her committees, her children, her hobbies, her travels, her ---

I began to roll my eyes, actually.

But the next obit? Much shorter, simpler and this line melted my heart--

"She loved her life with her husband, Gil."

Oh my goodness. Put that in my obit, ok? Except yeah, add 'God' and change Gil's name to Tom, instead.  ツ

Such a sweet sentence, one which paints a lovely, affectionate picture. 

Happy sigh.


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Pick A Post Day

While doing 'damage control' upon my oldest posts (correcting thousands of majorly embarrassing writing flaws and deleting posts written by Cranky Preacher Lady. Er hem.), I discovered some posts which stir pleasant (or bittersweet) memories (and dare I say lessons?) these 14, or so, years later.

So on this fine, sunny day (at least here in New York), feel free to choose a post, below, which sounds intriguing to you, ok?  ツ


My Aunt Marian  (From December 14, 2006)
Remembering my favorite aunt.

The Thing About Words (From April 27, 2006)
Words. They can hurt, yes, but also heal. Literally.

So, Like, What Are You Afraid Of?  (From November 18, 2004)
How is fear holding you back from what God created you to do?

What I Did On My Blogging Vacation (From August 22, 2006)
Lots of redecorating photos, including those from a dollhouse. Oh, and this! (Man, where are all those cute things today? Still packed away in our basement 7 years later? Oh dear.)

Blogging Hope. (From December 22, 2004)
The importance of sharing hope with others via blogging or any form of social media.

Enjoying the Empty Nest (From May 9, 2006)
Many ideas of new adventures after your children leave home.

Backyard Dreamin' (From May 16, 2006)
In the mood for some springtime photos of my long ago yard?

The Day We Flew The Kites (From May 1, 2006)
A favorite story I found in a dusty little book. Some days stay with us forever.

Of Mice and Me (From October 8, 2006) & The End of An Era (From May 26, 2005)
Remember when I kept pet mice? Hmm?

Whatever There Is To Be Done (From May 18, 2005)
Learning to love even the mundane daily stuff is vital--there's so much of it!


Oh! And one of my so-very favorite things so far about 2019? 

American Idol.

Seriously. Both Tom and I mega-enjoyed this season, but especially me. Each episode felt like eating favorite desserts and I loved the songs, voices, laughter, suspense and the fresh young faces. 

And although I, personally, wished 4 of the kids could have won, still, it wasn't about winning or losing. Well, not to moi. For me it was about young adults sharing their beautiful voices with others to lift them up and make their lives (in this bad-mannered, sad world), brighter.

And shouldn't we all be doing that in the ways God's chosen, individually, for us?

(Yes!)  ツ

(No one squeal or anything, but I'm considering watching all the AI episodes again via Hulu this summer.)



Thursday, May 16, 2019

Let's Get Practical

(Imagine a red line across that illustration. As in, "No panic here.")  ツ

"She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.

She is not afraid of snow for her household,
For all her household is clothed with scarlet.

She can laugh at the days to come."   ... From Proverbs 31


So! Remember when I shared Michael Snyder's post with you (in March) about the thousands of midwest flooded farms and how our grocery prices would skyrocket this summer?

And have you heard about this China tariff/trade war thing? Wow.

Well, has Ol' Debra's been stressed-out-wild regarding these? Nah, she's having a grand old time doing what normally is her Autumn stockpiling of goods.

Seriously, Grace is all over my household stockpiling/preparations, even reminding me of this from The Practice of The Presence of God--

Following Grace is a lifestyle of inside blessings flowing outward.

I'm scribbling (many) lists, ordering groceries online from Walmart, Target and being all squirrel-like in hiding my supplies away.

See these blue and white boxes from our guest room?

They're from Sammy's (crazy-priced) cat food, contain food for us and, hey. When you have a tiny house (with no pantry) and your heart longs to decorate and be a prepper, you mix both as best you can.

Like this morning. I keep boxes of food in our office (not very office-y, I know), and I finally spray-painted and labeled four of eight.

Now they blend-in much better. Well, to me (and I live here).  ツ

Gee, I love following Grace! She makes saving money, prepping, cleaning house and yard work such pleasant tasks, no worry, confusion or bad-tiredness involved. Everytime. 

Year after year, God and Grace make this crazy world beautiful to those who follow their leading.

"The most holy and necessary practice in our spiritual life is the presence of God. That means finding constant pleasure in His divine company, speaking humbly and lovingly with him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way."

--- Brother Lawrence

This will shock some, but I get it. I so do--

---Brother Lawrence

Another way I'm prepping for higher grocery prices? I'm saving lots of money by using Open Library instead of buying books. Lots. Of. Money. (Relatively.)

Earlier I told you about this place, but just had to mention again my growing love for it. What a blessing that they carry the quirky books our New York libraries discarded years ago!


Oh, and here are a few of our U.S. imports from China in case there's anything on this list you may want to stock up on now--

Plastics, clothing, shoes, socks, bedding, knitted or crocheted clothing.

(Walmart already is warning us. Go here. And here.)


So sad about losing Doris Day and Tim Conway, right? 

Fortunately I saw Mr. Conway in-person during (my one year of) college when a busload of us traveled to a Carol Burnett Show rehearsal. Forty-two years later, I still recall all details of that magical, star-studded evening.

Good-bye to a man who used his sense of humor to lighten our loads and cheer us through some difficult times. 


Oh, and in memory of my poor insect-killed lilac bush. RIP.


Exactly why I dress and put on make-up daily for my life around the house.  ツ


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

This and That. (Yes, Again.)

(Loved that. Needed that. Was helped by it.)


1.) On Saturday, Tom and I watched (On Demand) The Professor and The Madman. Oh! Interesting film, the true story of the Oxford English Dictionary's creation, which hey, might sound Dullsville, but certainly was not. Check out this trailer

Four thumbs up from Tom and me.  ツ

2.) Know why you'll never see me post meme's like these (well, hopefully)?

Because of this:

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love... By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another... if I have not love, I am nothing... If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen."   (Taken from John, 1 John and 1 Corinthians 13.)


3.) Want to perhaps swing your friends/relatives over to your way of thinking about, well, certain things? You might want to avoid this:

"If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other."   ... Galations 5:15

And try this, instead:

"The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness. A soft answer turns away wrath."   ... Proverbs 16:21, Proverbs 15:1

Hey, it can't make things worse.

4.) Just for fun--

6.) Oh! Did you know that some essential oils are harmful to pets? These, below, are dangerous for cats (check ones for dogs, here) --

  • Wintergreen
  • Sweet birch
  • Citrus (d-limonene)
  • Pine
  • Ylang ylang
  • Peppermint
  • Cinnamon
  • Pennyroyal
  • Clove
  • Eucalyptus
  • Tea tree (melaleuca)
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Lavender
(Man, all the good ones, right? Bummer.)

7.) Be still my heart!

8.) Oh! Keep forgetting to tell you 'my' coffee shop appears to be doing great now. Always other customers come in while I'm there and I heard Amy tell her uncle that, after the first year, they made a profit. So thanks for your prayers!

9.) Gee, it's good for former(?) control freak me to watch House Hunters. Nearly always the couple chooses the house they complained about the most, the one I think is nothing like their Must Have List, so that means I must let it go because it's none of my business.

Just. Let. It. Go. Debra.

Heh. Like I said. It's good for me.

10.) Finally and oh my! This video was special. But don't watch it if you've just applied your make-up or you're a man or woman at work!  ツ

A special thanks to Lynn for sharing this with me at Facebook!


And one more smile for today--


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Debra's World In Springtime. In Order of Appearance.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life..."  ... Matthew 6:25


My world lately?

First came my birthday on the 16th of March--

--which I stretched out a bit. Around the 27th, still I repeated to Tom phrases like, "Since it's my birthday month, I get to choose what we watch next On Demand (or where we go out for breakfast)." 

He'd always reply, "Birthday month?" But then go along with whatever I suggested.  First time I'd ever tried that, but Honey, it won't be the last!  シ

Then came the annual ice flow in the river down the street which mesmerizes me while sitting on the couch, watching. This photo was from last week(!), but now only an occasional ice chunk flows past.

 (Excuse the blurriness, we're talking major zoom on my camera from our porch, here.)

Then? Afternoons warm enough to sit out on 'Debra's Patio' which to you, looks only like a sidewalk, but to me, means the world after having (pretty much) had winter since 3 days after Autumn's official start. (Ask our weather guy. Even he said that.)

And yes, we have a largish front patio, but the sun disappears from that noonish, making it too cool (and sunless) these early Spring days. But again, hey. 'Debra's Patio' feels like the Bahamas' to me in early Spring. 

And from my chair? This--

Only a beginning, but ohh, I'll take it. Woo hoo! Green. Blessed, blessed green after 5+ months of grey and brown.

Then three days ago Old Rhodie burst forth as did Narcissus. (This photo is blurry because, well, it just is.)  シ

Now here's the sad part. 

My neighbor-gifted lilac bush began dying 2 years ago and this Spring? She's about 98 percent phhht.

Now, at first, I studied online what to do, but oh my goodness. This is how my brain received my research of what it was gonna require to keep Lilac Lady alive--

Spend lots of money on lilac food and chemicals.
Dig a trench around the lilac till you're sweating.
Add all the stuff you bought, re-shovel all that dirt.
Water, but not too much. Not too little either or you'll kill it!
Spend a few nights outside beside the lilac singing Kumbaya.

Then mornings and afternoons, face the sun and pray a memorized 24-line poem over the lilac.
Repeat (and repeat) until the lilac returns to life.

And well, uh, no. 

Any plant in my yard must be a hardy trooper who thrives on neglect. 

Some things just are the way they are and we must know ourselves well enough to realize that.

Otherwise we'll become all bedraggled, worn-out by age 50, having lugged around heavy guilt burdens God never intended for us.

Reader, know thyself, ok?
Know God, know yourself, what you can handle, what you can't.
Forgive yourself, your weaknesses, then move on.

And know peace.

"Be kind to one another (and I would add, yourself), tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."   Ephesians 4:32

"Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love!" 

---Sitting Bull

If we can't forgive ourselves our imperfections, how can we truly forgive others, theirs?



And just for fun... more quirky humor from my neighbor, Sue--