Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

All my life, I have loved roses. My father, husband, and I have all planted and tended them. I love seeing them and having some cut roses in the house. I planted three rose bushes in front of the bird bath this spring.

As you will see if you search my blog posts, it is also the case that I like all kinds of critters. My dear Dad used to feed the birds; he was known to sit on the back stoop and restrain the cat while feeding a cracker or something to a visiting squirrel.

Well, I love to feed the birds and bunnies. Every day I take out clean water for the bird bath and leave heaps of birdseed on the driveway. I also take out a bowl of small carrots for the dear neighborhood rabbits who love to visit.

There are a few young bunnies who, along with their older family members, show up to nibble on the goodies I leave for them.

But recently, I have been perturbed off! The doggone rabbits have eaten two of the three rosebushes I planted nearly to the ground, and on the largest of the rosebushes, they have eaten off ALL of the flowers and buds.

The dear little bunnies will NOT have access to the rosebushes! My eldest brother has come to the rescue. The work is still in progress, but we have the materials needed to finish the job.

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A Delightful Surprise

My phone seems to have a mind of its own of late, and the other evening I saw that it had auto-dialed the bugler who played Taps in 2021 at my husband’s burial. I quickly hung up the phone.

But when he learned someone at an unknown number had tried to reach him, he decided to return the call and find out who had called. I told him what had happened, that I had not meant to call him, but that my phone auto-dialed by mistake.

I explained that he was the bugler at my husband’s graveside service. His wife had accompanied him that day. I gave him my name, the name of the cemetery, and then mentioned the reception held in the fellowship hall of a nearby church. I had hired a caterer so that all the attendees could take some time to nibble food while talking to friends and family who knew and loved Ron.

All of that jogged his memory. I thought that would be the end of our conversation, but no, it wasn’t. He took delight in sharing news of the adventures he and his wife were having. He talked about health issues that were resolved. But what particularly cheered me was that he had a fun event booked shortly. He was looking forward to playing in a Polish dance band in a few weeks.

What a delightful conversation that sprang from my auto-dialed mistake!

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Prayers Answered

As some of you may know, I have been married twice. I excel at guilt, and the breakup of my first marriage after multiple decades together still can weigh heavily on my heart.

Ron worked for a time in the same office where I had a part-time job. Eventually, he moved back to his hometown, nearly two thousand miles from where I lived.

One day I got a call from the receptionist to ask me if I could come and claim the flowers which had arrived for me. Who would send me flowers? Well, it turned out that the receptionist had shared the news with Ron that my mother had died.

I responded to his gift with a thank you note. But instead of reading it and tossing it out, he wrote back with questions that seemed only polite to answer.

What I hadn’t counted on was that he was unstoppable. Once he began, he never stopped writing letters, usually chock-full of questions.  His questions to me, with descriptions of his beloved home state, friends, history, jobs, and every other topic under the sun, kept flowing. Once we began, we never stopped writing letters to each other.

We learned about each other through those letters. We were friends, but over time that friendship grew, and eventually, he and I married. He had two daughters, nearly my own age, and I had one daughter still in high school. We wrote letters to each other during all the years we were together.

The letters between us touched upon every aspect of our lives. The Good Lord seemed to watch over us as we corresponded and talked to each other via snail mail and phone. No subject could not be tackled together.

Shortly after Ron’s death, I started to re-read our letters to one another. But I didn’t get very far. They were so emotionally overwhelming that I had to put them away for another day. I wanted to read them, but I could not. I couldn’t read them without grief raining down on me.

For sanity’s sake, I put them further away. Then, as my aging brain is wont to do, I forgot where that place was. Off and on since that time, over the past two years, I have hunted for the letters and have never been able to find them.

Recently one night, I cried in frustration and asked the Lord’s help to find our letters. The Good Lord heard my prayer and led me straight to them. Five minutes later, in a place I would never have thought to look was that vast treasure trove.

I have our letters again, and this time, my tears are tears of Joy & Thanksgiving! Thank you, Jesus!

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Eager Friends, Happy Heart

I come by my folly honestly. From the time I was a little person, I remember my father feeding the birds every day. I mentioned that in an earlier blog post which you can find here:

Lessons From Earlier Gardeners

I didn’t notice this gang of hangers-on when we first moved here. I don’t quite know how long ago I started paying attention. There is joy in giving gifts to others — and I have regularly greeted them with words, often telling them that their daily meal is compliments of my dear husband and inspired by my father’s example.

The little birds are very skittish. They make a lot of noise, but as I near them, they instantly become silent. I buy two 18 pound bags of birdseed every ten days or so. I also stockpile carrots for the visiting bunnies.

Thank you, Lord, for the visiting rabbits, these delightful birds, as well as their increasingly chubby squirrel friends. I am cheered!

 

 

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These Crazy Days Before Christmas

I don’t know about you — but I can’t remember a Christmas that seemed as full of stress as the one coming in less than a week. This morning there were more ornaments on the floor around my tree. Despite having cut the tree trunk at the big box store where I bought it, it has steadfastly refused to drink water.   

Decades ago, when I sent a gazillion Christmas cards, I would write them in September. I left the envelopes unsealed because sometimes a card needed to be changed due to some  event:

  • birth or death 
  • sickness or healing
  • promotion or retirement
  • children or grandchildren

Today, December 21st, I am still answering the cards that friends and family sent me. I hope they have a sense of humor, as it seems highly likely my card will arrive after the fact. Thinking of Charlie Brown’s Christmas seems appropriate somehow. But all the things worrying my frazzled brain need to calm down.  

Advent comes to a close in less than a week. Saturday is Christmas. Saturday, we celebrate. 

This from the King James Version of the Gospel of  Luke, 2:8-14:

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

 

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Ill Suited for the Task

In second grade, I started taking piano lessons with my aunt, my Dad’s older sister. It wasn’t negotiable. My three brothers had done this as well. I was a mediocre student at best, my aunt had little interest in allowing me to try some song that I liked, from a musical perhaps, and so I trudged on as best I could.

Finally, when I had finished 6th grade, I quit and went on to take organ lessons from a remarkable organist at a Methodist church not far from my home. It was the only way I could figure out how to get out from under piano lessons with my aunt.

I took organ lessons for a couple of years, then left that behind. I often received requests to play the organ for funerals during my high school years. Many good musicians had day jobs — I was a kid who wasn’t in the workforce yet, so I was available to play for funerals. I only played for one or two weddings and swore I would never do that again. But funerals were reasonably straightforward. Much of the service was spoken, not sung, and the hymns were generally well known.

Currently, I fill in for the regular organist at our church every third week or so. I no longer feel confident in playing the organ, so when I pinch-hit for Isaac, I do so on the piano. Even so, I generally screw up. A younger skilled musician has shared some tips to make the task easier. I will attempt that this coming Sunday. I am grateful, beyond measure, for the pay; and nervous, in equal measure, for the job.  Musically trained people are kind and withhold their comments while the congregation pays me for my attempt.

Long ago, I earned a Master of Divinity degree after training to be a Lutheran Pastor.  I was approved for ordination, but life intervened, and I have never been ordained a pastor.  Looking back, I think I did that task rather well, while musicianship I regularly fail.   Such is life. Sometimes we are asked to tackle jobs beyond our comfort zones.

Lord have mercy.  Christ have mercy.  Lord have mercy.

 

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A Purchase, A Waitress, A Pig, and An Accident

I have mentioned in the last two blog posts that my refrigerator with freezer, along with my washing machine, had died. I called and scheduled two appliance wizards to come and tend to these appliances. The washing machine was easily repaired and has been employed ever since catching up with mounds of laundry. The cost of repairing the refrigerator was comparable to a brand new one. So, after church this last Sunday, I went shopping for a new refrigerator. I was successful in that mission.

On my drive home, I realized that I was famished. Except for the Eucharist that morning, I hadn’t had a thing to eat, and it was close to 3:00. Instead of driving home, I went straight to our local Bob Evan’s Restaurant. My excellent waitress, Jessica, listened to my appliance tale of woe in addition to serving me a delicious meal and keeping my coffee replenished. It appeared that things were looking up.

I got home and decided I had had enough and decided to chill in our home’s Rialto Theatre. Unfortunately, at some point in the proceedings, I tripped with a bottle of Coke and, unfortunately, saturated an elderly, historical, stuffed pig.

Once upon a time, while they were courting, my father confessed to my mother that he wanted to raise pigs. So my dear mother made him a stuffed pig who was wearing overalls.

Before laundering Mr. Pig, I took out all of his stuffing, but even so, it took four rides in the washing machine to get him close to clean. So, I am now repairing him with some new filling and replacing the lost handkerchief as well.

A postscript might be appropriate. Although there was evidence in our home of pigs, our dad became an attorney.

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Feasting, Waiting, Anticipating

As I mentioned in my last blog post, my daughter and son-in-law and their children celebrated an early Thanksgiving with me. They came bearing gifts, and in addition to eating a Thanksgiving feast together, which they prepared, we celebrated Christmas by opening our gifts to each other.

One of the things they bought me was a Halloween vinyl tablecloth to protect the table from spills by little people and their occasionally klutzy Nana. It worked like a champ and quickly was wiped clean.

But then I realized that Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas, which was November 28th this year. Not to put too fine a point upon it, but I did not think the Halloween table cloth was quite suitable to cover the table for Advent.

So I did my best to adorn it with a beautiful tablecloth my grandmother embroidered decades ago. That linen seemed appropriate while we await the arrival of Our Lord.

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Giving Thanks, Receiving Blessings, Two Unsolved Surprises

My daughter and son-in-law, and grandchildren live some states away from me. Bless them, they made the drive, and we celebrated Thanksgiving together a tad bit early. It was extraordinary! It was so much fun to be together.

One day my daughter and I splurged and had pedicures while her fabulous husband took their two children to a nearby playground. We opened all of our Christmas presents together– because we won’t be able to be together at Christmas. What fun!

My daughter & son-in-law prepared a feast for our Thanksgiving dinner. But after all the work they put into that feast, I thought it might be fun to go out to eat the next day — which we did, to what I consider the best restaurant in town — Don Tomasso’s. We had a fabulous time, and the little ones loved it too!Now perhaps you should sit down. My daughter and son-in-law worked hard to get their vehicle packed so they could head home, where they will celebrate Thanksgiving with my son-in-law’s family. Before they left, however, we discovered that everything in the refrigerator and freezer had come to room temperature. Timing is everything!

The Good Lord blessed them with safe travel and all of us with a beautiful visit and outstanding food. As to the refrigerator and freezer, I had to throw most everything away. All of the meat and frozen food had thawed and was at room temperature. I called and got a service person to repair the fridge, but it won’t happen for nine more days.

It has been quite an adventure, which ended with me getting to empty these bottles and jars yesterday. In the bigger picture, this was merely a bump in the road.

After that depressing discovery, I needed a change of pace. I went upstairs to watch a show while I tackled the laundry. You’ll never guess. I think after the initial shock, I exclaimed with an expletive.

My washing machine, filled with my clothes, started to run, but rather than turning, it just made a grinding sound. I had to get a step stool to reach the plug on the wall behind the machine to stop it. The door is locked shut, and I can’t retrieve those clothes until I locate a repair person. I know who had serviced it before, but I could not reach that company and had to leave a message.

On this Thanksgiving, I will remember the wonderful visit of my daughter and son-in-law’s family with great love and pleasure. I will savor the memory of the delicious Thanksgiving meal my son-in-law and daughter prepared. I remember the phenomenal wine they gave me and the exquisitely tasty peach pie my daughter made. I will remember the gleeful joy of our early Christmas celebration and the fun we all had opening our gifts. I will especially treasure the spectacular Christmas gift that my four-year-old granddaughter embroidered for me with a Saguaro Cactus.

My wish for you this Thanksgiving is that you have a wonderfully festive day spent in the company of friends and family and that you save room for some pie!

 

 

 

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July 5th — Ohio Adventures

Today, July 5th, 2021, was a delightful day — you may not hear about it right away; however, I would like to write about it while everything is still fresh in my mind.

Last week I made plans to visit a dear friend I have not seen in ages who has been dealing with an exceedingly rare health issue. As our homes are over a hundred miles from each other, we planned to meet at a restaurant halfway.

We shared a wonderful meal, talked about everything that we could think of, and then it seemed time to head home. We hugged goodbye and got into our cars to leave — vowing we would do this again before so much time had passed.

I got in my car, ready to pull out of the parking lot and head home. Instead, I decided I wasn’t in the mood to go home. My parents always liked to escape to the hills in Ohio, where many Amish and Mennonite people live. They loved the hills, the pies, and truth be told — my Dad loved a store there. We always needed to stop at Lehman’s. I decided perhaps I needed to stop at Lehman’s as well.

Here are a few pictures of Lehman’s, in Kidron, Ohio — and then perhaps you would like to see the two items that I bought.

This is Jay Lehman, the Founder

There isn’t much you can’t find at Lehman’s!

Do you need a lantern?

Amish people don’t use electricity — so perhaps you need a mixer.

Maybe you need a rocking chair or oil lamp?

Perhaps you need a little help with your laundry. . .

Way back in 1982, when I got married, one of my college history professors & his wife gave us a gift of a hand-turned ceramic pot to hold honey. It had a long and happy life with us until, alas, it broke. Decades later, July 5th, 2021 — I found a new one at Lehman’s that seemed to want to come home with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second thing I bought at Lehman’s was something I’ll enjoy hanging either above the stove in the kitchen or above the window in the room behind the kitchen, which leads to the back yard.

On my way home from Lehman’s, I saw three boys — relatively young, alone in a buggy pulled by a single pony. The road we were on had no special lane for buggies, and it was a very hilly road, and hard to see what was ahead.  So I slowed way down, until I knew it was safe to pass.  The boys waved at me.  I didn’t get a picture of the boys I passed, but the children in the picture below are about the same age.

That isn’t out of the ordinary in that part of Ohio. One of the reasons that people in cars need to be especially careful.

This trip cheered me enormously. My friend and I decided that the next time we got together, instead of meeting at a restaurant, we would meet at Lehman’s and then go in search of some delicious Amish-made pie!

Every time I think about Amish made pies — I think of my Dad.  I think I have inherited my Dad’s love of pies and his love of the rolling hills in Ohio.

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