What’s One Degree?

That depends on the subject. I can tell you, having just gotten unbundled, when it comes to outside temperature, one degree is pretty darn cold, but it is north of zero, which makes a difference, at least psychologically. I took the time to go through the dress-for-cold routine this morning before heading out with dogs, trash and recycling; it’s one of those things that makes winter in the country more work.  I walked around the kitchen last night looking for a spot to move the coat rack in from the back porch so when I go for my outside clothes they’d at least be as warm as the kitchen, including my ski bibs (can’t bring myself to call them snow pants) and despite the enormity of this old farmhouse kitchen, I’m not seeing a spot that will work for a coat tree loaded with water-proof gear, two ski jackets, bibs, the Ugly Coat, you bet, that one has a name of its own and is loaded with family humor.  Accompanying the coat tree are the baskets of mittens, hats and scarves, including that fun face-mask hat, you know, the kind bank robbers wear.  Then there are the serious boots, which along with the Ugly Coat, do not go into town; maybe the boots on occasion, but the coat, not one time in the eight years I’ve lived out here; its name is most accurate, but it has its place in life here at the Homestead.

  Yes, folks, mid-January and we’re finally entering what’s supposed to be a cold spell.  It might be that temperature is relative at times – what’s cold for me in church has other women fanning with their bulletins and men shrugging off their jackets. When my South Carolina daughter complains about cold, we’re talking about 50 degrees – absolutely balmy compared to this.  

Back to one degree; looking at the night sky through my telescope, a one-degree correction isn’t necessarily all that much.  Ask a ship captain and a one-degree course correction might just prevent a mishap, though I’m not a sailor so that’s speculation. 

Just as in life, sometimes it’s a small thing – a low number, that will sink us if we let it. One degree above zero is unpleasant, but manageable and there is a positive; it’s not 30 below and the sun is shining bright and skies are beautifully blue.  It is more work, everything seems more challenging, but look around.  I had luncheon plans for today and woke up dreading having to get dogs out and trash up to the road early, and then thought about what I was going to wear to my lunch so I wouldn’t freeze.  Lunch is cancelled because my friend’s father, confined to a nursing home, is causing concern and she was heading to see him.  So I’m spared from going back out, which I don’t mind at all, but I’m missing time with a special friend and know my friend is traveling a couple hours in vicious cold to see an ailing parent.  Kind of puts my complaint of one degree into perspective, doesn’t it?

Be blessed and when feeling challenged, try to bless others – you will feel better for reaching outside yourself, I promise.  And with what regular readers will recognize as a theme comes the admonishment to please, let those you love know for sure you love them, speak it often, cherish the times and memories as you never know when just one degree in time or space could change your world for a lifetime.  Be blessed, stay warm!!

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Encourager, Encourage Yourself

Today’s title is a spin on the old proverb, “Physician, Heal Thyself,” words Jesus quoted in Luke 4:23According to Wikipedia, the moral of the proverb is to attend to your own defects before attending to others.  And knee-deep in defective thinking is exactly where I found myself for about 12 hours, beginning last night and ending in the last half hour or so.

I’ll not relate the litany of events that led to this sorry state.  Late last night I poured out the pitiful tale to one of three people I can call after 11pm.  We actually commented that it was very unlike me to be so morose.  That may be, but you wouldn’t have known it if you were on the other end of that midnight phone call.  So now I conduct personal therapy, putting my thoughts on paper (figuratively speaking).

Why publish the story?  In the interest of transparency, I’d say; I know transparency is a buzz word, but I like it.  Everyone has their moments; it’s how you address them that matters.  Being known among friends and family for speaking positively, applying a positive spin where it can be applied and admonishing others to do the same, it’s only fair to admit to missing the mark from time-to-time.  Besides, then I get to say that all those little truisms I toss off to you all were used on myself last night and early this morning when I awoke still in the depths.  Oh, yuck; bad enough to end the day in the depths, but start today that way, too?  This would not do. 

Buck up, baby!! Yes indeed, those were my words to myself before 6 a.m., and while not instant, with the help of determined thinking and the counting of blessings, aided by lively music and reaching out to share a positive story with a family member, I started coming around.

What’s changed?  All the things that led up to yesterday are still real – hassles, disappointments, frustrations; they haven’t been miraculously fixed or removed, but my attitude has been adjusted.  I still have to deal with the messes, but whining or crying won’t help.  As was mentioned in that late-night conversation, what are these challenges compared to a malignant brain tumor; get over yourself, hon 🙂  Just  letting you know I try to hold myself to the standards I have for others 🙂

Follow the links; listen to two of my favorite pick-me-ups:  He Reigns and Blessed Be Your Name!  Sing along, dance around your kitchen. Make it a fabulous day remembering two last things:  God’s mercies are new every morning and we will rise up like eagles!    BE ENCOURAGED!!

 

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Hasta la Vista, Bio!!

     Regular readers know I’m not a big movie buff, can’t sit that long; I have a few all-time favorites, though not what you might expect. First is Gone With the Wind, followed by the original Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day.  It’s from T2 that today’s title is taken – that classic movie moment when Schwarzenegger is literally terminating the bad guy, takes off his shades and says, “Hasta la vista, baby”, which has become an iconic movie line

Within moments of completing my last biology assignment late yesterday, I was deleting, terminating, if you will, all record of having taken that course.  Usually within a day or so, I burn a CD with all the papers, essays, whatever, and it’s my record of the experience.  Not this one – I couldn’t wait to wipe away all evidence of its existence; even the textbook is already goneAnd in the process of delete, delete, delete, the words “Hasta la Vista, Bio,” popped into my mind and I laughed out loud!!  My nemesis is no more.

What was the problem?  It was a combination of the course and the instructor and I can hear some eyes rolling and see a smirk or two.  Truth is, it was absolutely the course design, vindicated by the fact that midway through, after losing several group members to dropping the course and numerous emails between instructor and remaining students, the instructor actually admitted that the course was being redesigned and would be a 16-week course in the future, not 8 weeks as I had it.  I felt from the start that the work load was excessive; that was validated.  Additionally, the tests, three and four a week, were complex, confusing and virtually impossible to complete in the allotted time.  Enough said.

It’s done, gone and once this is posted, will never be mentioned again.  I’m pretty good at accepting what is, as opposed to what I would like and am not big on whining.  So I’ve done my time, that required course is history – well, it’s still biology, but no more for me – ooh, bad joke, but that’s okay, I made one – yay for me!!

The lesson here?  You knew one was coming – persevere.  While Scripture would be appropriate here, what is coming to mind is a line from an old Stone’s tune (must be that kind of day)  “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.”  What I needed was to pass the course and that I have done, in the process getting the first C of this college career.  Do I like it?  You know I don’t, but I reached a point where I believed, as I told the instructor in an email, that the ROI on the course was negative.  That being said, how much more effort was I willing to expend?  The end result was expending enough effort to get that C and accepting that I do not need to be an A student.  Who cares, really, besides me and perhaps the lesson is that my ego and pride needed attention.  Gotta love the way the Lord works in our lives.  I’m not claiming to know the mind of God, but it wouldn’t surprise me if our Heavenly Father, in His infinite wisdom and what I believe to be a fantastic sense of humor, too,  put me through this to teach me a bigger lesson than biology.    Point taken, Father, lesson learned and I say with joy and laughter, HASTA LA VISTA BIO!!!   Have a beautiful day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Another Special Day

     What a blessed woman I am – two special days in one week.  Today we celebrate my firstborn child, Erin Lee, born 27 years ago tonight, just just shy of midnight, changing my world forever.   I knew she was going to be Erin Lee, no ultrasound needed or taken; it wasn’t that common then.  When I told my obstetrician that I was embroidering her Christmas stocking and already had her name across the top; he reminded me that the odds were 50/50.  When I told him that I was working on her first Christmas dress – red velveteen and white satin –  he just shook his head.  And then she was born, four days overdue, in typical fashion, making a dramatic entrance in her own time – Erin Lee –  I just knew. 

     She was tiny, five pounds, thirteen ounces, and it truly was love at first sight.  I asked for her bassinette to be left in my room, not all that common then, but I couldn’t imagine them just whisking her off to a nursery.  I wanted to get to know this little miracle and that we did – gently dancing around the hospital room to the taped music I had brought along, forging an unbreakable bond.

     What I couldn’t possibly have known was the depth of motherly love that would overtake me instantly and continue to grow. We were talking about that just last week in a fun conversation about her impending birthday and nearing the age of 30, close to my age at her birth.  As I’ve had occasion to tell her over the years, there is absolutely nothing on the face of this earth that could possibly change the fact of my unconditional love for her; she was and always will be my Erin Lee. 

With her permission, I describe her as 105 pounds of pure spitfire, a force of nature.  She’s an artist in personality and temperament, unlike myself;  I’ve always been amazed at how she sees the world, from little on, with totally different eyes than mine.  I’ve saved samples of her art over the years; a fascinating  journey through the developing eye and mind of an artist’s view of her world, always a unique perspective.  It will provide the back-story when she’s famous, having her first gallery show.  In the meantime, three of her paintings hang in my home and I wear several pieces of her jewelry.

  An early reader, having completed the Laura Ingalls Wilder series at age six (a gift from her first-grade teacher during one of her many hospitalizations), she’s intelligent and articulate.  I used to joke that all the time spent in an oxygen tent paid off beautifully, the silver lining to the difficult days of chronic illness first manifested at five months.  With a gift for languages hearkening back to her early days of imitating Pepe Le Pew, the French-speaking cartoon character and a first-rate imitation of Lady, star of the movie Lady and the Tramp, this was a little girl who let you know, with a toss of her hair,  that she knew she was special and that is for certain.   When Erin Lee laughs, everybody laughs, it’s positively contagious.  She’s fiercely loyal with a wicked wit.  If you’re close to her, she may challenge you in ways that test your soul, but the result is always worthwhile; I’m smiling as I reminisce in these early-morning hours  

  My firstborn child is 27 today.  I am so very proud of the woman she has become and I am a better person for being her MummaLee.  Blessings, Erin Lee and thank you for the joy and sheer pleasure you’ve brought me over these 27 years.  I’d do it all over in a heartbeat.                                                                 

Erin Lee today          

 

 

Erin Lee by Erin Lee

       Joyeux Anniversaire,

                     Erin Lee

                     J’adore!!!

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Another TA DA!!

Readers know I’m a fan of TA DA moments, have written about them here before, but just what does it mean?  I think it’s something I picked up from a nephew, Colby, years ago.  When Col was young, he was fascinated by magic and eager to show anyone and everyone his latest trick.  He had put together a show complete with magician’s hat and cape and a very fun routine.  At the end of each trick, he’d say, “Ta da;”  it was too cute.  I don’t remember ever using the words before then, but since then I’ve made them mine.  A TA DA moment can be anything from a fabulous sunset to getting a well-deserved A in a tough class, to something that just absolutely makes you smile or laugh out loud. 

Yesterday was such a day.  I’ve been out here at the Homestead now for just about eight years and in that time I’ve become closer to a special woman y’all have heard about, my favorite Auntie Arlene.  I wrote about her most recently in July, commemorating her 93rd birthday.  I posted one of my all-time favorite photos, Auntie Arlene and me on the front steps of the Homestead, taken approximately 54 years ago. 

We’ve talked, she and I, about re-staging that old photo and one day recently at a get-together with her daughters, she said, “Should we do it today?”  That didn’t work out, but yesterday, a beautiful, sunny day, my cousin, Janice, called, said she was in town at her mom’s and how about we take that picture.  What a fabulous idea and within a couple hours, Janice, her twin sister, Jane, and Auntie Arlene, all 93 years of her, were here.  And TA DA time had begun. 

Below you’ll see  that old photo, taken when I was about two, along with a brand-new one taken yesterday!  I didn’t sit on her lap, for obvious reasons, but we did choose the same spot and amid all kinds of laughter, we took that photo.

 We  shared hugs and smiles and just reveled in the relationship.  And that, my friends, is a quintessential TA DA.   Is it important in the scheme of world events?  You bet it is in my world. I’ve said it before and will likely say it again – where we come from is important and tradition is the glue that binds us together.  And survivor that I am, the oft -repeated message here is cherish your loved ones and never miss the opportunity to let them know they are loved and cherishedLook for  those TA DA moments, create them whenever you’re able and tuck them deep into your heart!!   Blessings!!

Arlene and LeeAnn 54 years ago

Auntie Arlene & LeeAnn today

Auntie Arlene & LeeAnn today

 

 

 

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TWO DAYS!!

I’ve posted countdowns over the years, usually counting the days till I’m spending time with one of my daughters; that is the case today.  In approximately two days and and three hours, I will be hugging my Meghan.  She’s bringing her boyfriend for his first visit to WI.  Yep, meet the grandparents, my favorite Auntie Arlene, referred to often in this blog, as well as several cousins and a favorite aunt on her dad’s side, a woman we called Auntie Mama, and other special people in our lives who haven’t seen her in a year and never met the boyfriend.

Two days, what does that mean?  It means I’m busy, working my way through multiple lists and checking things off.  Some of you will get this, others will question my sanity, but regular readers know this is an inherited characteristic, one I’ve written about before, the things this woman goes through in preparation for guests or a trip of my own.  In fact, just had a call from my friend, Karen, who understands and has helped on occasion.  A number of years back, before my second brain surgery, Karen came out here, went through the clothes in my laundry room, steamed everything and reorganized and colorized my upstairs closets.  Again, I believe I got it from my mom, though she denies it.

So, all guest-room linen has been washed and line-dried outside, just the way Meghan loves it.  The bathroom cupboards, drawers and closet are in order, all the little storage bins washed, dried and reorganized.  The front porch is halfway there, there, my main desk is done – found lots of great stuff I’d forgotten about, everything now organized by event/date in zip-lock bags and two drawers of photos!  The living room is almost done, bookshelves dusted, vacuumed and straightened.

As usual, when you’re in a hurry or on limited time, things happen.  Couldn’t be more true of today.  Two days ago, something happened to my forearm; it swelled up, was red, very warm and very itchy, but this morning it was dramatically worse – moving up and around my arm.  Called my nurse practitioner, unavailable, and her nurse wanted me to go to the E.R. – not likely to happen so they sent me to a nearby clinic.  Two hours out of this busy day and no resolution yet.  Someone said long ago, “It’s always something” 🙂  Back home again and back at it. 

In two days Meghan will be here and all will be ready.  We’ll meet in Green Bay,  have six glorious days; lots of fun things planned, memories will be made.  This mother may not have chosen to have daughters living on opposite coasts, but regular readers know I deal in what IS, not necessarily what I would like.  It’s the only way I know how to do things – no worries, no fear, live the best you can in the moments you’re given.  Reach out to those around you, make certain your loved ones know they’re loved & cherished.

Two days and I’ll be hugging my Meghan, burying my face in her hair and reveling in the scent of my daughter.  Forty-eight hours and much to do; good thing finishing the mowing is on my list – another blessing – I get to head outside into a fabulous day, hop on the mower and soak up the warmth and sunshine, then time to turn up the music and dance my way through the rest of my lists! 

God is so good to us and I’m very thankful in advance for the blessings of the coming week; I’m sure by tomorrow my arm will be better and in two days…!

As the French say, c’est la vie...  🙂

 


 

 


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Power Outage!

Early morning storms and those who know me know that I love BIG weather; that’s what began just before dawn. My dogs, however, hate storms, in fact, Shadow actually moves a chair to get behind and under it, where he whines incessantly.  Soleil, not the brightest dog on the planet, seems lately to take his cue from Shadow and now whines as well.  Maybe there’s a blessing in my hearing being less than its pre-surgery state.  How’s that for a positive spin?  We all know I love spin 🙂

Back to the subject at hand.  Being here at the Homestead, I often think of how things were, as my daughters say, “back in the day.”  My first thought when the power went out was whether a power line was laying somewhere, like between my truck and me or on the roof.    My second thought was no Internet, meaning no PC or laptop.  But I was still connected, as long as my cell phone battery held out.  No lights, no running water, affecting bathroom functions as well.  You bet, with a well and an electric pump, no power means not much water available.  I believe that’s enough said, but cell phone in hand, I was able to text my dilemma to my Meghan and post on facebook.  ErinLee will hear about it later; even now, it’s only 10 a.m. in her time zone and I know better than potentially waking sleeping daughters.

Back in the day, and I’ll have to ask my  favorite Auntie Arlene, how where things at the Homestead when the power went out? Did they light candles, perhaps an oil or kerosene lamp?  I’m fairly certain they weren’t concerned about an Internet connection and didn’t have a weather radio connected to NOAA or 24/7 meteorologists on TV.  Maybe they sang together,  played a game or read a book, maybe the Bible and prayed; I’m sure I’ll hear from cousins offering information.  

So I was out of touch, but thanks to the cell, able to post on Facebook and make a few jokes about passing the time singing the blues, accompanying myself on the piano.  There’s that spin again, but to be honest, I soon tired of bad blues and fell back to my standby, not rock’nroll, fan that I am; my first thought was not the old REO anthem, Riding the Storm Out.  A favorite that seemed appropriate during this morning’s big weather was the hymn, Jesus Savior Pilot Me with the familiar lyrics, “Unknown waves before me roll.”  That old seafarer’s hymn goes on to praise the Lord for piloting us through dangerous waters and storms.

Despite all our technology, there’s a raw power to the natural world that isn’t held at bay by anything humans can create.  When the power goes out, you best believe that there is a Power beyond anything on earth and cling to that life-preserver of hope.  Being me, ya’ll knew there was a message coming and here it is.  My faith is anchored on the One who has and will continue to get me through the biggest waves and the most fearsome storms.  My hope is that you already have or find your way to this lifeline as well. 

Be blessed and make it a fabulous day, despite anything going on in your life!

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A Special Woman Update 2012

This post is an update of the birthday post published last year in honor of my favorite Auntie Arlene, whose birthday is today.  Much of the post is not new, just made current.  I spoke with her an hour ago, wished her well, told her I loved her and we’ll get together in the next couple days.  Here is the post:

Today my Auntie Arlene turns 94.   Regular readers have heard of her and seen pictures on this site before.  What makes her so special?  For one thing, it is through her that I own the Homestead.  She married one of my dad’s brothers, Uncle Elmer ( a twin), years ago and they raised their family here at the Homestead.    I spend time with her as often as both our schedules permit.  That’s right, both our schedules. 

     Auntie Arlene has a full life, full of family and friends and as of just recently, twin great grandchildren, a boy and a girl, that she got to hold yesterday!!  The newest additions bring the grand total to 13 great grandchildren.  Arlene Buelow, daughter of a twin, wife of a twin, mother of twins, is now great grandmother of twins – how cool is that?? 

She loves pro football, especially the Packers and she knows stats, more than I do.  She challenges her mind against the contestants on certain television game shows,  remains current on civic and community events and continues to engage in lively debates;  for the two of us sharing a meal  (my lunch is her dinner and my dinner is her supper)  topics range from people to politics to religion.  She’s an encourager, a woman of strength and conviction – always ready to go to prayer over whatever the need may be.  And she lets you know she’s praying for you!

      I’m thrilled to be part of her life and to have her as part of mine.  We have a conversation or visit as close to every week as possible.  When I’m in school she’s pulling for me all the time, especially when I appear tired or frustrated; I know I’m in her prayers because she tells me so.  She knows about my health, my children, my life.  At 94 she’s seen a lot and has a beautiful, serene wisdom and grace.  She’s quick to share a chuckle and loves to show you the photographs of her expanding family.

     We’re sharing lunch/dinner in a couple days.  I’ll take some new pictures of us and maybe post one here, but regardless, to me, Auntie Arlene is perennially as young and happy as she appears in that old photograph below on the left.  The photo on the right was “re-staged” last summer and we had a grand time doing so  🙂  Our newest fun time together is for me to bring my laptop and we go online together.  She gets a giggle out of seeing and reading the posts, understanding that this is on the World Wide Web and anyone in the world with an Internet connection can see and read about us.  We’ve gone to FaceBook and looked at lots of photos and she knows how Internet commerce is conducted.  I just called her again to do a fact check on her dad being a twin and told her that when we’re together next week, I’ll bring my laptop and show her this post; we laughed together.

                Happy94th Birthday, Auntie Arlene,  you are so loved!!  

 



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How Long O Lord?

Say it with the prophet Habakkuk! Believing as I do that our Lord has a sense of humor among His many attributes, I believe He’ll get my use of the title phrase. Sitting here home-bound by 18.9 inches of snow on March 23rd, I think it’s a fair question, don’t you? Not to mention that after the last “big storm” of the season, on February 20th, the starter motor of my fabulous, work-horse of a snowblower – electric start, self-propelled – burned out, dead, done, no start. Being so late in the season, I passed on replacing the motor till off-season. Big mistake as here I am facing a fairly large amount of snow, along with counties throughout the state, armed with nothing more than a shovel.

The photo shows what stands between me and getting my truck out of the garage. To be honest, I have help with that – usually – but back to that sense of humor. As things happen, the farmers that plow are having challenges with equipment and it’ll be awhile before they get everything cleaned up. Meanwhile claustrophobic woman, as many readers may remember, is sitting telling here herself not to be silly. Of course I can breathe and it’s all in my head so get over it 🙂 At least those who know me well will hear that I don’t coddle myself any more than I do anyone else so there you have it, as my father is famous for saying.
Being the positive person I try to be, I’ll tell you that the sun is shining brightly, the sky is a gorgeous blue and the temperature is twenty degrees north of zero – all a plus. But I will still ask how long and I still believe that the Lord is smiling right now and is certainly big enough to handle all my wonderings and I’m in good company. Besides the prophet Habakkuk, the Psalmist, David, asked a similar question.

I leave you for today with the thought that no matter what – a zillion inches of snow, brain tumors, family sorrows – no matter what, feel free to ask the questions and search for comfort! Have a fabulous day!

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It’s All Relative!

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve said those words since returning from my Christmas trip to ErinLee’s. In fact, I used the phrase fairly often out there, too! When we were all bundled up to take the ferry across Puget Sound or wrapped in hats, scarves and gloves to walk into the city, we laughed about how cold is cold. Cold to Seattle residents meant temperature in the low 40s. Cold out here at the Homestead means temperatures south of zero and even south of -30 degrees as they’re predicting for later this week. Then there’s cold where my Meghan lives. She calls to let me know she took her car to work instead of her motorcycle because it’s only 50 degrees. Only…

Our circumstances truly are relative. Things could always be more challenging, people more frustrating, you get the picture. So what makes the difference? Faithful readers know what’s coming – you bet, another discourse on positive attitude! I swear, I will never tire of promoting the positive. Do I ever complain? Do I ever whine? My study partner might tell you she’s heard something close to a whine. My girls might be rolling their eyes, but the point is where do you dwell? We all may venture into the negative from time-to-time, but it’s a choice to remain or move out. I choose to move out.

It truly is all relative. I’m looking at two fairly challenging classes, probably the most intense so far. Relatively speaking, I can do this; compared to facing brain surgery and serious illness, at least my neurosurgeon was the best and there were no “oops’s”. I have all my faculties intact and it’s actually therapeutic for this brain of mine to be challenged by studies. How’s that? Relative to living with the side effects of an “oops” during surgery, I live with a few side effects that do not prevent me from living out the plan! It is truly relative – have a fabulous week!

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