So Much for Pride

When we went to a baby blessing in an inner city ward, I felt flattered when the sister sitting next to me began to fawn over me, complimenting me on what I was wearing.  I had, after all, taken some extra time to get ready that day.  “You must be a visitor or a missionary or something.  I can just tell by the nice way you’re dressed!”

“Well, yes, we are visiting today,”  I said, trying to sound properly humble. In reality, there was pride swelling up in me, maybe even a little of that haughtiness (or stiff-neckedness?) I’d been warned about.

Another sister  in the row just in front of us, helped me out. “I totally recognize that white skirt,” she said happily.  “I almost bought one.  You got it for  $7.99 at Ross, didn’t you? You see them all over.”

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I’m Thankful I Can Complain

Several years ago a couple of small commuter planes collided over a neighborhood west of us. That night our local news showed a woman who’d had a large section of tail from one of the planes crash through the back portion of her house, completely demolishing her bedroom. She explained excitedly that she was inside her home and was walking down her hall toward that very bedroom when it happened. “I was that close! That close!” Then she added, “I’ll never complain about anything again!”

Coincidentally, I’d been frustrated earlier that day because we needed a new bedspread and no store had the one I wanted in the correct size. How maddening! Now as I watched the news, I had an entirely different perspective. Having a slightly worn out bedspread really didn’t matter that much. 

Here in America, I’ve noticed we like to complain. I came across a piece called “I am thankful” that’s been making the rounds, and decided to write my own version.

I have the luxury of complaining about . . .

1. My country and our government and leaders, because I have freedom of speech.

2. My weight, because I always enough to eat and easy access to stores and super markets that have shelves bursting with food and products I need.

3. The price of gas, because I have something to drive. (It isn’t a Mercedes but it gets me where I want to go.)

5. Bathrooms that always seem to need to be cleaned, floors to vacuum, and yard work that never ends, because I have  a place to live.

6.  Laundry to do because I have clothes, and linens, and towels, but more important a family nearby.

8. Clutter and too much stuff, because I have the means to buy things I don’t really need.

8. Having too much to do, because I have a way to make a living; can go to a church that keeps me busy doing good things; and participate in other organizations and projects that bless my life.

9.  Road construction, because I live in a place that fixes roads and makes improvements.

11. Going to the dentist and doctor, or going to the hospital for tests, because I have dentists and doctors available to me and the best  health care in the world.

12. How my life is going, because I have the freedom to choose what I will do each day and the opportunity to better myself and to  pursue happiness.

 

Being Green —Yeh, You Tell Em

I got this by e-mail and I’d love to give credit to the feisty person who wrote it, but no author was given. Also, the paragraphs disappeared all on their own, I’m not sure why.
Being Green
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green thing’ back in my earlier days.” The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.” She was right — our generation didn’t have the ‘green thing’ in its day. Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day. Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But too bad we didn’t do the “green thing” back then. We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the “green thing” in our day. Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back in our day. Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the “green thing” back then. We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the “green thing” back then. Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the “green thing.” We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint. But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the “green thing” back then? Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person… We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off…especially from a tattooed, multiple pierced smartass who can’t make change without the cash register telling him how much.

A Reminder

I can’t remember what we were doing yesterday morning and why my husband and I didn’t turn on the morning news. I probably unloaded the dishwasher and made some breakfast. I took a shower and washed my hair and got dressed. I messed around a little on Pinterest, tried to remember how to post a picture on a blog post, made a few phone calls, paid a couple of bills,  then folded some laundry.

It wasn’t until later in the morning that I found out that something horrific had happened—that somebody had opened fire in a movie theater in Colorado—that many people had been injured or killed. I don’t even remember how I heard. Did I flip on the radio as I ran errands? Even then, however, it didn’t really sink in. It was like I was running around in this oblivious little cloud, doing my everyday little things. Around noon when I got back home, our neighbors called and asked if we wanted to go to a late lunch with them. It looked like that could work out, and we made arrangements.

On the way to the restaurant and in the restaurant, we pretty much  just talked about normal things and mentioned what had happened in Colorado, but that was it. It was almost as if we were trying to avoid the topic. It wasn’t until later that night that I turned on the news and caught some of what had apparently been on all day. When I checked Facebook that night, someone had posted a television station’s synopsis, and I tuned in to that. As I watched and listened, I finally began to feel the impact of what had happened. I finally began to feel the pain of those who’d lost loved ones, those who were suffering, those who were in emotional shock. I finally began to empathize. And as I watched people in Colorado being  interviewed, many said basically the same thing: Life is uncertain. We don’t know when our loved ones will be wrenched from us. We don’t know when we ourselves will be taken from this earth. Their words served, once again, as a reminder.  Life is too precious to take for granted.

I Am Thankful for:

…The taxes I pay, because it means I am employed.

…The clothes that fit too tight, because it means I have enough to eat.

…A lawn that has to be mowed, windows that have to be washed, and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.

…The spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.

…All the complaints I hear about the government, because it means I have freedom of speech.

…The lady behind me in church who sings off key, because it means I can hear.

…The huge piles of laundry, because it means my loved ones our nearby.

…The alarm that goes off early in the morning, because it means I am alive.

 

I didn’t write this. Once again, I wish I knew who did. I’d like to give him/her credit.

Again, I love this because it makes me think about how I look at my life.

Things I Wasn’t Going to Say When I Got Older

Here are some things I told myself I would not say when I got older.

1. I still feel like the same person inside that I was when I was twenty-one. I may look old, but I’m still young inside. 

I remember my grandmother trying to explain that to me when I was a teenager, and no, I didn’t get it. I’d just think,  No, you’re old. Now I find myself saying it, and my grandchildren look at me and I can tell they’re thinking something like, You were never young. That’s impossible. Still, I feel this urgency to convince them that what they see is not who I am inside.

2. To a child: You were just this big when I saw you last.

When people would say that to me I never really understood how they could know me if I didn’t remember them from Adam (or Eve) . By the way, I actually had an old family friend of my parents’ say something similar to this at my aunt’s birthday party. She said to me, “You’re all grown up!” I responded, “Well, ummm, yes, I’d say so.”  I was fifty-nine.

3. When I was young I had to walk everywhere, or I had to …(take your pick.)

The old “and it was uphill both ways,” joke is right on target. I find myself trying to convince my grandchildren how bad we had it. The grandchildren don’t get it. They don’t relate to gym suits and how we’d have to wash and iron them each weekend. A couple of times I forgot mine on Monday mornings and I’d race back home to get it (uphill, of course.) Gym class was like boot camp.  School was a lot harder back then. I know it was.

4. I remember when (fill in the blank) first came out ( or was first invented.)

For my grandmother it was cars; for me it was televisions, then  colored televisions, and more recently, of course, computers and cell phones. The response to a statement like this is going to be, That proves it. You’re as old as dirt.

5. I’m having trouble with my ……….(a particular part of the body, say the right shoulder.)

I used to think it was really boring to hear about older people’s health issues. Now I really want to hear about such problems and I relate and empathize. But that’s now.

6. To a child, as I am holding my thumb between my fingers: Look, I’ve got your nose!

How dumb do you think I am? I clearly remember thinking when an adult would say this. Then I actually found myself doing this the other day. I couldn’t believe it. It was like I felt compelled to reach for this child’s nose and pretend I was holding it between my fingers. It was like I thought it was expected of me. Well, the little girl just kind of half-smiled and said something like, “That’s a really old joke.” She was right.

7. Yes, well, my children all have Phd’s and my grandchildren always win state in reflections etc. etc. etc. 

You get the picture. Brag! brag! And you’re right. Now I do it. But hey, did I tell you my daughter . . . And did I tell you my grandson . . . It’s just that it’s so astounding  when our offspring do things we wouldn’t have even dreamed of being able to do—things like participate in sports or “get” science. I have daughters and granddaughters who get up on stages and then actually do something after they are up there.  I even have children and grandchildren who dare to get on ski lifts or who dive right from diving boards into water. They don’t even hold their noses. How can I not brag about that?

8. When my daughter (or son) was little she/he did (or said) this or this……(and you tell a cute little story possibly in baby talk while the grown up person is sitting right there.) 

I find it embarrassing when my mother repeats the cute little things I said when I was three or four. First of all I spoke in Dutch and nobody can understand it, so she tries to translate it and it makes no sense. Secondly, it was zillions of years ago. And so you would think I would not bring up what my son said after he’d played soccer a couple of games. He is after all, thirty-three now, not three. I still continue to tell it, and he groans, “Oh noooo, not this again.”

But if you want to hear the story, let me know! I can message it to you!

And that’s all I can think of right now. Actually, I should mention one more. It’s that I told myself I wouldn’t keep repeating old stories. I have the distinct feeling I do that as well. Maybe it’s because at our Sunday dinners, whenever I say, “Have I told you the story about . . .” My children call out  in unison, “Yes!”

Then Why Do They Call It a Lemon?

Maybe you read my blog post about the lemon cake incident—one of my more embarrassing moments. Well, it turns out that the lemon is an amazing fruit that we should be eating more of. I knew it! Yes, that lemon with the bad reputation not only tastes good but it is extremely good for you! In fact, it’s suggested that we eat the entire lemon, not just the juice. Here’s something I copied and wanted you to be aware of: (By the way, I have no idea why it is printing out in this long narrow column. It is not nearly as long as it appears. It’s probably something I did that I do not know I did. Life’s complicated.)
Many professionals in restaurants and eateries are using or consuming the entire lemon and nothing is wasted.

How can you use the whole lemon without waste?
Simple..place the lemon in the freezer section of your refrigerator. Once the lemon is frozen, get your grater, and shred the whole lemon (no need to peel it) and sprinkle it on top of your foods.
Sprinkle it to your whiskey, wine, vegetable salad, ice cream, soup, noodles, spaghetti sauce, rice, sushi, fish dishes. All of the foods will unexpectedly have a wonderful taste, something that you may have never tasted before. Most likely, you only think of lemon juice and vitamin C. Not anymore. Now that you’ve learned this lemon secret, you can use lemon even in instant cup noodles.
What’s the major advantage of using the whole lemon other than preventing waste and adding new taste to your dishes?

Well, you see lemon peels contain as much as 5 to 10 times more vitamins than the lemon juice itself. And yes, that’s what you’ve been wasting. But from now on, by following this simple procedure of freezing the whole lemon, then grating it on top of your dishes, you can consume all of those nutrients and get even healthier.
It’s also good that lemon peels are health rejuvenators in eradicating toxic elements in the body.
So place your lemon in your freezer, and then grate it on your meal every day. It is a key to make your foods tastier and you get to live healthier and longer! That’s the lemon secret!
Better late than NEVER!
The surprising benefits of lemon!
Lemon (Citrus) is a miraculous product to kill cancer cellsIt is 10,000 times stronger than chemotherapy.
Why do we not know about that? Because there are laboratories interested in making a synthetic version that will bring them huge profits. You can now help a friend in need by letting him/her know that lemon juice is beneficial in preventing the diseaseIts taste is pleasant and it does not produce the horrific effects of chemotherapy. How many people will die while this closely guarded secret is kept, so as not to jeopardize the beneficial multimillionaires large corporations? As you know, the lemon tree is known for its varieties of lemons and limes. You can eat the fruit in different ways: you can eat the pulp, juice press, prepare drinks, sorbets, pastries, etc… It is credited with many virtues, but the most interesting is the effect it produces on cysts and tumors. This plant is a proven remedy against cancers of all types. Some say it is very useful in all variants of cancerIt is considered also as an anti microbial spectrum against bacterial infections and fungi, effective against internal parasites and worms, it regulates blood pressure which is too high and an antidepressant,combats stress and nervous disorders.
The source of this information is fascinating: it comes from one of the largest drug manufacturers in the world, says that after more than 20 laboratory tests since 1970, the extracts revealed that It destroys the malignant cells in 12 cancers
, including colon, breast, prostate, lung and pancreas …The compounds of this tree showed 10,000 times better than the product Adriamycin, a drug normally used chemotherapeutic in the world, slowing the growth of cancer cells. And what is even more astonishing: this type of therapy with lemon extract only destroys malignant cancer cells and it does not affect healthy cells.
Sooooo. There you go.
Note: I no longer remember where I got this and will let you know as soon as I remember. I’m guessing I was certain I’d remember and so didn’t bother to write it down.  Hopefully, among their many benefits, lemons help the memory as well.

How to Remove a Raccoon From Your Chimney

When my daughter and her husband returned home from a trip, they discovered they had lodgers.  A mother raccoon had relocated her family into their chimney. Since they hadn’t planned on renting out their chimney any time soon, or ever really, they realized they were facing one of those fun little challenges that comes with home ownership. My husband and I, who generally have ample advice to ladle out, had none to offer. The closest we’d ever come to a similar problem was when some kind of giant mole dug so many holes in our side yard, it resembled Swiss cheese.  Because that incident occurred so long ago that it seems like it was in a former life, neither of us had any recollection of what we did to get rid of the intruder. Luckily, our kids were smart enough to contact animal control, and here are the two suggestions an employee there gave them that I never, even in my wildest imagination, could have thought up.

Step one: Place a radio or TV on high volume,  tuned to a talk show channel, as close to where the raccoons are hanging out as possible and leave it on for hours at a stretch. Okay, I can see that. Republican or Democrat, some of those bombastic hosts are hard to take for even more thirty seconds. I’m guessing, however, it isn’t their political views, but just the sounds of human voices in such close proximity that raccoons find disturbing—just like we humans generally don’t enjoy living next to noisy animals of another species: say barking dogs.

Step two: Spray ammonia  into the area where the raccoons are claiming squatters’ rights. Ammonia, explained the employee, smells a lot like urine, and because raccoons are notoriously OCD about cleanliness, they pretty much freak out about having home sweet home smelling like an open sewer.

To make a long story short, these two steps worked. As is often the case, however, it can be much easier to give instructions than carry them out.  Here are some problems my daughter and SIL ran into:

Problem Number one:  The raccoons were not the only ones who had to listen to the talk shows on high volume for hours at a stretch.

Problem Number two: Since raccoons do not drive small vehicles and therefore do not have little carports, it was hard to tell whether they were at  home. No matter who we are dealing with, possibly the worst time to spray something stinky into a residence is when the residents are  inside. Even when the residents are not inside, my son-in-law discovered, one of them can pop up in the vicinity and catch you. Yes, my son-in-law had climbed to the roof and was happily spraying ammonia down into the chimney, when the mother raccoon’s head popped up over the rain gutter. Adult raccoons are not the cute cuddly creatures they appear to be in picture books such as The Kissing Hand. They grow to be HUGE with razor-sharp teeth and talon-like claws, and this mama did not seem to be to happy about what my son-in-law was doing.

My non-wimpy, former fire fighter and wrestling champ son-in-law deduced quickly that in this particular instance, it might be wise to back slowly toward his ladder. Then he practically slid down the thing in his effort to get away from Angry Masked Mama.

Finding someone spraying stinky stuff  into her home, was apparently the last straw for this raccoon, and to my  daughter and SIL’s relief, she packed her bags, gathered her children, and evacuated the premises.  When I wondered aloud whether she would relocate to someone else’s chimney and become someone else’s problem, my daughter and son-in-law readily admitted that that was a distinct possibility that they didn’t plan to worry about.  And no, I don’t imagine there would have been any way to pin a little note even to even the smallest of the raccoons with instructions that read: “If I move into your chimney, have me listen to talk shows nonstop and spray my home with ammonia.”  Unless my daughter and her husband get a summons to appear on Raccoon Court, they have “washed their hands” so to speak (sorry, I couldn’t help myself)  from this particular home ownership challenge. If they’re like the rest of us, however, they can rest assured something else will probably pop up (or pop in) soon. I’m just glad none of us live in Florida.

 

A Veteran’s Surprising Story

My daughter is in charge of a July 4th neighborhood breakfast in their local park every year, and she thought this year it would be nice to display some veterans’ pictures and memorabilia. She and her husband stopped by the home of one of their friends,  from church, a Brother Borgstrom, who they knew was a Vietnam vet.  He hesitated at first. “I really don’t have all that much to display,” he said.  But then he added, “I do have a framed newspaper article that has a picture of my dad with his brothers.  You’ve maybe heard the story Saving Private Ryan. Well, my dad’s four brothers were all killed in World War II, and my dad was the only survivor. After so many of his brothers died, the military allowed him to come home.”

When the man told how the producer of Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg) had had contact with his family, my daughter realized that this man who was a grandfather figure to her kids, and who’d been her son’s primary teacher, was possibly the son of the Private Ryan depicted in the movie. Of course, the movie was fictional and could have been based on several stories. (Note: Google claims that the story of Private Ryan is based on the experience of a soldier by the name of Fritz Niland who also lost several brothers in the war, and others claim the story to be theirs, but in reviewing  the various stories,  the Borgstrom story appears to correlate most closely to the movie)

Our daughter’s family friend went on to tell her that quite a few families lost more than one child in World War II. A family by the name of Sullivan lost five sons in a single incident. (They were all stationed on the same ship which sunk.) We know that hundreds of thousands of families including my husband’s grandparents, lost one of their children. There were over 400,000 U.S. casualties in this war.

Brother Borgstrom’s family story and the unbelievable sacrifice of his grandparents reminded me that I need to be thankful not only for our veterans and military people, but for their parents and family members as well. They too, are heroes.

Should We Stop for Those With Signs?

When I first saw someone with a Will Work For Food sign, I was so anxious to help that I nearly screeched to a stop. But then I began seeing more people with similar signs, and now there are so many that I no longer stop.  That generally makes me feel guilty because maybe some of those people genuinely need my help. I saw a man at a freeway entrance not long ago and wondered about my choice. When I met his glazed over eyes, I hesitated, but then continued. It’s a dilemma. In fact, when it comes to giving I’m a split personality. I’m the priest in Les Miserables, but other times I’m the constable.

As a landlady, it’s easy to become cynical. My husband and I have worked for many years, gone without, and have saved and so that we now have a little extra and are in a position where we can help others out. Sometimes tenants have genuine financial emergencies because of situations out of their control. We do our best to work with them. Then there are those who can’t pay rent because they’ve just bought a brand new truck and/or camper, or because they’ve gone on an expensive trip. To be honest, I feel a little less sorry for them. But even then I find myself thinking, well, haven’t I done dumb things and haven’t we all made financial mistakes? Often they have children who played no part in their parents’ decisions. Again, we try to go ahead and work things out with them. But after that the question becomes, at what point should we stop helping and at what point do we just refer them to the rental agreement? There have been times when we’ve just felt we needed to say, Sorry, we can’t do this anymore.

My daughter and son-in-law always go to great lengths to help those in need. They take destitute-looking people with them to lunch and treat them with respect and kindness. But then, not long ago, my daughter called me and said she felt “disillusioned.” She’d just seen a particular “Struggling Single Mom”  she’d often helped out, shopping in her grocery store. The woman had a guy with a ring at her side and their cart was piled high with non-necessities my daughter rarely buys because she can’t afford them. I felt sad for my daughter, but also sad for the woman who did not seem to see any problem with using the money she got from others for things she didn’t really need. I know; I know. That’s being judgmental.

Again, it’s complicated. If we adhere to Christianity, we want to be like Jesus who not only spent his life serving, but who died for us. We’re told to love our neighbor and reserve judgments for God.  Just about every religion asks us to live at least some form of the golden rule, and almost everybody, even those who do not believe in any particular religion, or even in God, believes in that rule.

When it comes to our government the dilemma is just as real. Should our government help all who ask for help? What if we as a country no longer have enough to give? Should we keep giving if we have to borrow in order to do that?

I can honestly say that it makes me happy when I give generously.  I need to give more to my church’s charitable fund which seems to investigate carefully where needs are greatest. I try to contribute to reputable organizations such as The Children’s Fund because I like what they stand for as well. I always feel a strong urgency to be discerning, however. Before I give to a cause I  try to find out what percentage actually goes to those in need.  I try to find out as well if the group I’m contributing to helps people to eventually become self-reliant, teaches them to fish, rather than just giving them fishes, in other words. Is asking these questions being judgmental or is it using good judgment?  The other day I didn’t investigate anything. I just wrote a check after one of those commercials for children with cleft palates. I couldn’t resist when I saw a child’s excitement at her beautiful new smile.

I need to be more sensitive as well to those around me who may be in need. Not everybody who needs help is out on a street corner with a sign. There are other kinds of signs and I need to look for them. Sometimes we need to read between the lines.

In a parking lot recently a woman with a baby in a stroller approached me. She wanted to know if I had any money to spare. She needed to find a place to live, she said, and claimed she’d fallen between the cracks. She was on some waiting lists, but it wasn’t as easy to get into some of those places as we’d all like to believe, she told me. I didn’t know whether to believe her or not, and had the feeling I was being scammed, but I wasn’t completely sure. If she wasn’t telling the truth, she was a good actress. She knew exactly what to say and that made me suspicious.  But there was the baby looking at me with large brown eyes. “I usually don’t do this when people approach me,” I said. But then I sighed and pulled out my wallet. “I don’t know if you are telling the truth,” I said. “But just in case you are, I’ll help you.”

I guess I will never know if the woman was being honest. I don’t like to be scammed, and she could easily have walked away and thought, Ha, another chump! I’ve decided not to worry about it. It doesn’t matter to me that much. As they say, it’s better to err on the side of compassion.