April 3, 2020

Saturday 9: Could've Been

Saturday 9: Could've Been (1987)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This wistful song is about a love affair that ended. What song reminds you of a long-ago love?  Piano Man. I dated a guy in college, a fraternity brother, whose fraternity ended its weekly Friday night parties with Piano Man. He was always the guy in the center of the circle getting us all to sing along.

2) It was written by Lois Blaisch, a singer-songwriter who performs at clubs around Los Angeles and has sung outdoors at Disneyland. Would you prefer to attend a concert indoors, or outside under the stars?  Outdoors.

3) This week's featured artist, Tiffany, appeared on the TV talent show Star Search when she was just 14. She came in second. Though she was disappointed, she admits she learned from it. She studied the singer who won and says it made her a better performer. Can you recall a time when you weathered a tough time and came through stronger?  There have been many difficult times in my life and all of them have made me stronger, but it's my faith and learning to lean on God that has given me peace.

4) Early in her career, she toured Alaska, opening for country legend George Jones. Have you ever visited our 50th state?
  No. I wouldn't mind seeing it if I ever have the chance, but it's not been on my wish list. Too cold.

5) Tiffany provided the voice of Judy Jetson in 1990's Jetsons: The Movie. Which cartoon did you enjoy more: the space-age Jetsons or the pre-historic Flintstones?  I watched both, but I always like the Flintstones more.

6) In 2007, she appeared on VH1's Celebrity Fit Club and lost 28 lbs. Are you making an effort to stay fit during this stay-at-home period?  Not really. I need to start fighting the urge to become a total couch potato...hard when are not supposed to leave the house except for groceries or medicine.

7) In 1987, when this song was popular, Aretha Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What's your favorite Aretha song?  Respect.

8) Also in 1987, third-generation race car driver Marco Andretti was born. Are you a race fan?  Nope.

9) Random question: Do you find it easy to sit still, or are you fidgety?  I'm fidgety, but it's because things start to ache if I sit still too long.


Thanks to Sam for today's questions! Join the fun here.

C is for Childhood Chores

Click here to visit the Challenge
Nearly everyone had chores to do as a child and nearly everyone has definite opinions and feelings about those chores. I thought it would be fun today to talk about the chores we had and what we thought about them...or rather our parents' handling of them. 

For myself, I can't say that I look back with any particular fondness when it comes to the chores I had growing up. My adopted father was a stern task master and rather controlling, so when he expected a job done right it meant he expected it done exactly the way he would have done it. I rarely lived up to that standard. I can't say if that was out of stubbornness or not. I suspect some of it was.

The first half of my childhood, up until I finished elementary school, passed without much in the way of chores. I was expected to make my bed daily, clean up my room when it got so bad my mom told me to, and pick up after the dogs out in the yard. 

It was the summer I turned 12, just before starting jr. high, that brought big changes. All of a sudden I had dishes to wash, grass that needed to be trimmed after my dad mowed, my own bathroom to clean, and garden chores...as well as the chores I'd had before.

When I was in 7th or 8th grade I got a "brilliant" idea (probably from Teen magazine or something similar) to create a contract with my parents in order to earn an allowance. I made a ridiculously long list of chores I would do and listed the price I would do them for (very, very low) and I signed that I would do them every week and my parents signed that they would pay me every two weeks.


What was listed in that contract, you ask? Well, I can't remember the specifics, but it amounted to washing the dishes daily, doing all the ironing (and people still ironed EVERYTHING back then), and cleaning the entire house on Saturdays. Though not in our contract, I still had to clean up after the dogs, trim the grass, and work in the garden.

It didn't take long for me to resent my chores as Dad quickly established a routine of inspecting my work and finding fault with it. Groundings were the punishment for a less than perfect job and he found something wrong nearly every week. I was once grounded for two weeks because while I cleaned the entire house, I didn't dust the tops of the baseboards. 

Garden chores were in a class of their own. Dad loved gardening and planted a large vegetable garden every year of my life. I knew that every evening during the gardening season I was expected to work with him and Mom after supper. If and when the gardening chores got done I could join my friends for kickball, tag, or whatever the evening's game was. 

My jobs in the garden were watering and weeding. Dad wouldn't run a hose to the garden to water. I had to fill watering can after watering can and lug them the 100 feet or so to the garden. Weeding wasn't an easy job, either. No hoes for us! We pulled those suckers by hand...the entire 1/4 acre garden...and there couldn't be a single weed in sight when I was done. Other garden chores came as the vegetables were ready for harvest. Picking things like beans and peas was always my job...as was snapping the beans and shelling the peas. Sometimes I could get my friends to help me snap a bushel of beans if I could work out a deal with my mom to take us to the lake to swim when we were done.

Those chores remained mine all through high school. The only things that changed were the ironing (that load lightened) and washing dishes. I hated washing dishes and once asked Dad why I had to do them. His response was that Mom cooked so I had to do the dishes. Oh, really? Did that mean if I cooked Mom had to wash dishes? Dad said it did. Mom probably wanted to strangle him, because from that day until I left for college I cooked nearly every meal. That turned out to be a chore I enjoyed and I got to be very good at cooking. Even my dad called me a good cook, which was really something.

Lots of people look back fondly at the chores they had. I can't say that's the case for me. The two exceptions are cooking and working in the garden. I did develop a like for both of those and while I still think Dad was too strict and overbearing, I've since learned how tough his dad was on him. I can at least understand why he was the way he was. 

So what was your chore experience?

April 2, 2020

Blessings

Sometimes they are the good things that come to us, sometimes they are the things that don't come our way, and sometimes they come disguised as painful events or circumstances. I am talking about blessings today.

It has taken me a long, long time to get even close to an attitude that many of the practicing Jews in Israel have, that of being thankful in absolutely every situation. The reasoning behind that is that no matter what is going on God has either sent it or allowed it. There is a reason for it. Am I perfect at thinking that way? Not even close, but I have learned a few things.

Those good things that come to us, they are easy to be thankful for. I'm talking about our comfortable homes, the jobs that provide the income we need to survive, the people we love and who love us, a fun vacation, the possibilities on this list are endless. The good things can big or small...someone is declared cancer-free after a long struggle is a huge blessing, while the sunshine on your face is a small blessing. The greatest good thing that has ever come my way is my salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Things that don't come to us aren't always recognized as blessings at first. Have you ever wanted something, wished, hoped, and prayed for it, only to not get it? Chances are you can look back from a point later in life and recognize that things worked out better without that thing happening. When I think of this type of blessing I think first of the punishment that is not coming my way because of God's grace and mercy. Second, I think of the times when the answer to my prayers was "No." Garth Brooks had a huge hit that talked about this type of blessing.



The last type of blessing is probably the hardest to learn to recognize. These are the ones we have to search for because they come wrapped in difficulty, pain, fear, and tragedy. These blessings are the silver linings in the storm cloud. These are the ones where you feel like your world is falling apart but you can look around you and find the good. 

Sometimes, though, we can't see the good until later because the bad thing set something in motion that took a while to become evident. An example would be be the mother who loses her child to a drunk driver and then campaigns endlessly to change laws and educate others. A great, good work came out of her tragedy that helped others. The challenge before us right now in the midst of this pandemic is to find the blessings and they are there if you open your eyes and heart to see them.

Some things that have blessed me during the past week and that I am very thankful for include...

Time in abundance. Time to spend with my husband. Time to read. Time to cook. Time to nap. Time to spend with the Lord. Time to watch movies and shows that have been on our list. Time to work on projects around the house.

Patience and good moods. Sometimes too much time and togetherness can make for short tempers. We haven't experienced that.

Financial grace. With both of us not working and unemployment still being held up by the large numbers of people signing up we could be in a pretty tight spot, but we are doing fine. We've talked to our creditors and everyone has been incredibly helpful and understanding. 

Finding a show we both like. This is huge. We tend to have very different tastes, but when I finally began to watch Longmire on Netflix, my husband watched, too, and is hooked. 

Warm days. We've only had a few that were truly spring-like, but the cold isn't quite as cold and doesn't last as long. Sunshine is becoming a bit more common. That lifts my spirits and (don't laugh) I think my houseplants look happier, too!

Health. I am very, very grateful that all of my family and friends (including blogging and Facebook friends) remain virus free.

All of you. I am always grateful for blogging friends who visit and comment and the community we've built, but these days make me especially thankful to have you in my life. We all do life together. We encourage each other, laugh together, mourn together, and do all the things that make friends friends. My life is blessed by your presence in it.

I am linking up with today with Rebecca Jo @ Knit By God's Hand




and the A-Z Challenge.



April 1, 2020

A Is For Author

I've never joined in the A-Z Challenge before, but with all the extra time on my hands this year I couldn't think of a reason why I shouldn't. If you'd like to join in the challenge of blogging a letter a day you can sign up here and the list of blogs participating is found here.

My subject today is...

Authors

Eclectic best describes my choices for favorite authors. Each has a unique way of telling a story, of drawing me in, of making the story come to life. Allow me to introduce you to a few of my favorites.

James Rollins is the pen name used by former veterinarian James Paul Czajkowski. Rollins is a master of the action-adventure/thriller genre. After penning several stand-alone adventures, he introduced readers to the Sigma Force in Black Order and has continued to lead his reader on 15 more wild, seemingly impossible, yet based on some scientific fact, missions to save the world.

He also co-wrote the Order of the Sanguines series with Rebecca Cantrell, an  improbable, but thrilling trio of tales about a secret sect of vampire priests under the direction of the Vatican.

Rollins' books are consistently best sellers and the first Sigma Force book was to be made into a movie. There's been no word on why that fell through. It's a shame and I do hope Hollywood and Rollins reach an agreement one day as the Sigma Force novels would lend themselves well to action movies. Think Indiana Jones on steroids or Rambo with an advanced degree in science.

Fredrik Backman is a blogger, columnist, and writer from Sweden. He wrote the best selling A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, and its sequel, Us Against You.

None of these books actually sound all that exciting or interesting by plot description, but the magic lies in Backman's incredible gift for digging into the human psyche and creating complex characters that everyone can identify with. The reader experiences everything the characters do...bleakness, joy, hopelessness, hope, fear, loathing, uncertainty. Reading a Backman book is a rich and rare experience.

Janet Evanovich began her writing career using the pen name Steffie Hall and her books were the usual type of romance novel. Along the way, she found she was more interested in writing the action scenes than the sex scenes and evolved into writing romantic comedies under her own name with much success.

It was the Stephanie Plum series, however, that brought her to the top ranks of her genre. Stephanie is a Jersey girl who starts working as a bounty hunter for her despicable cousin and bail bondsman, Vinnie. Most of the time Stephanie plays the straight man to the crazy characters populating her life. The mysteries are fun, funny, and fast-paced reads. Perfect lighter reads to help you let go and unwind. Evanovich is doing something right as Stephanie has taken the reader on 26 laughter-filled adventures so far.

Evanovich also pens the Wicked series, the Fox & O'Hare series, and the Knight & Moon series...all rollicking good fun!

If you're looking for something to read and haven't read anything by any of these writers, give them a try. You can't go wrong!

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Springing Forward

Good morning and welcome to April! Happy April Fool's Day if you celebrate it. I do not...it seems to be that in recent years every day is a day for fools. Anyway, I'm linking up with Joyce for the Wednesday Hodgepodge. So glad it's back for a while! You can join in the fun or find links to other participating blogs by clicking the button below.




1. Has spring sprung in your part of the world? How can you tell? Did March come in like a lion where you live? Going out like a lamb or something more ferocious?  

Spring is beginning to show her face here in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. The grass is that incredible emerald green it only wears in spring and it needs mowed, already! My poor Poodle (she's a tiny toy) is up to her chin, but it's been so wet and rainy lately that we haven't been able to get it cut. Some of the flowers are beginning to bloom and the trees are budding out with dogwoods, magnolias, and redbuds wearing their blossoms proudly. 

March did not come in like a lamb. She came in howling on the wind and bringing snow. She was fickle at best throughout her days and while she gave us a few glorious, teasing days of sunshine and warmth toward the end, she left us, riding out again on howling winds and soaked us with flooding rains.

2. The last thing that caused you to spring to your feet?


My knee and hip don't actually allow me to "spring," but I'd guess something with the grandchildren is what probably made me get up the quickest. The little ones are 3 years and 8 months...those little fingers get into so much!

3. Do you have a spring clean to-do list? What's one chore on the list you've already managed to accomplish? What spring clean chore do you most dread?


I can't say that I really have a spring cleaning list. The need to do a major spring cleaning kind of went away along with coal and oil furnaces, I think. For the most part I just continue with regular cleaning. It is nice, though, to get the windows open in the spring and let the fresh air in.

While not spring cleaning, exactly, I have been chipping away at some long put-off chores during this time of sheltering at home. I've gone through the closets and donated several bags of clothing (I was brutal in thinning the collection this year), I've cleaned and organized the pantry and some of the cupboards, and today we are defrosting and cleaning the big freezer. (Yes, we were going to do it yesterday, but my husband wasn't in the mood...and I didn't really protest.)

4. Tell us something you've learned about yourself or the wider world as a result of social distancing/the virus crisis.


We are not as horrible and hopeless as the news would have us believe at times. I love all the wonderful stories that have been coming out about the kindnesses people have been doing and the creative ways they have found to stay in touch.

5. Something you love that's the color pink? 


Peonies. I love them and can't wait for my neighbor's big patch of them to bloom. They face our house and I probably get to see them and enjoy them more than she does. I'd grow my own, but they don't seem to like our soil.

6. Insert your own random thought here.


My Bible study group "met" for the first time since we've been under lock-down last night via Google chat. Isn't it wonderful that we have all these ways to keep in touch with the people in our lives these days? And so many can continue to work from home because of the technology at our disposal. I'm really not feeling all that isolated because of it. 

I know that's not true of everyone. My husband, for example, doesn't really embrace social media so he is climbing the walls. (Actually, he's taken up residence on the sofa with Netflix becoming his new best friend.) He has seriously lost all motivation. 

My Bible study teacher had a lot to say about the present circumstances last night. He advised us to view this time as a gift from God. A time to deepen our relationship with Him and also with our spouses and any other family that might be living with us. We should take this time to appreciate the world and our blessings in it. We should rest, reflect, recharge.


March 30, 2020

Tuesday 4: There's No Place Like Home

Happy Tuesday! Got another truly exciting day on tap. Bahahaha! Actually, we're doing super fun lock-in activity #385 (give or take, I may have lost count)...cleaning out the freezers and defrosting the big one. Don't be jealous, now. 

If you don't have your own freezer to defrost, you can just join us for the Tuesday 4. It's not as fun, but geez, we can't all live glamorous, exciting, thrill-a-minute lives.

Thanks to Annie for today's diversion!


1. Do you like the way your home is decorated or would you tweak things a bit if budget allowed?  I would be tweaking up a storm if I could. We are hoping to add a big family room onto the house this year. This whole virus thing may throw a wrench in the plans, but we'll see. 

If that gets done, we'll turn our current living room into a dining room. We'd also turn the bathroom in our bedroom into a powder room/laundry room to get the washer and dryer out of the hallway that would connect the new family room and kitchen. We don't need a tub in there since we redid the main bathroom and there's just the two of us. 

Of course, if we actually get all that done we're going to have to redo the kitchen. It's kind of like the kid's book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

2.. Do you have any plans/dreams to change anything about your home?  Oh, well, oops! I kind of got ahead of things. 

3. What style of furniture do you have or want to have in your home and why?  I think you'd have to call my style eclectic. I have modern furniture, antiques, and whatever catches my eye all blended together. It's the same style everyone in my family has always had. I've NEVER lived with matchy-matchy stuff. I just buy what I like or need and make it work.

4. Tell us about your ideal dream house or dream kitchen if you prefer.  My dream house would be a Craftsman bungalow. I adore everything about them.


As for my dream kitchen, it would look something like this...


Currently

I am...

Reading...The Last Odyssey by James Rollins. What if Homer's epic tales, the Odyssey and the Iliad, were true?

Listening to...Air Strike, a WWII movie that Tim is watching. I can't complain. I talked the man into watching all of Tiger King on Netflix this weekend. Did you get sucked into it? It is apparently the #1 show on Netflix right now. It's so popular GMA did a story on it this morning. The weird part? It's awful. The people are awful. The lifestyles depicted are awful but YOU.CAN'T.LOOK.AWAY.

Loving...being creative. I dug out my coloring/journaling Bible yesterday and colored several pages as well as drew one of my own. It was nice to have the time to do it. I also ordered a memory keeper planner from The Happy Planner people and it arrived yesterday. It's undated so I'm going to begin it on April 1. I have tons of stickers so I'm looking forward to having some fun with it and keeping a record of this unusual time in our lives. Oh, and I bought some Modgepodge the last time I was at Walmart. I might have some fun with that while I am stuck at home, too.

Thinking...that this period in time is a gift that's putting us back in touch with our families and what's important...and maybe it's a wake up call from God.

Feeling...healthy! And that's something to be thankful for these days!

Celebrating...that spring is really getting a foothold. Oh, it's too early to say winter is done with us in this part of the country (we've had snow at the end of April before), but many of our neighbors mowed their grass yesterday, we should mow ours today, the temperatures are mild (74 degrees yesterday!), and things are growing.

Grateful for...everything!

Weather...cloudy and 55 degrees today.

Enjoying...the slow pace of these days.

A quote I want to share...Actually this was forwarded to me in a text message and is more of something to think about than a quote. I don't even know who originally wrote it.

"In three short months, just like He did with the plagues of Egypt, God has taken away everything we worship. God said, "you want to worship athletes, I will shut down the stadiums. You want to worship musicians, I will shut down the Civic Centers. You want to worship actors, I will shut down the theaters. You want to worship money, I will shut down the economy and collapse the stock market. You don't want to go to church and worship Me, I will make it so you can't go to church."
"If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
Maybe we don't need a vaccine. Maybe we need to take this time of isolation from the distractions of the world and have a personal revival where we focus on the ONLY thing in the world that really matters. JESUS.