Monday, December 31, 2018

Christmas day I was sick.

I woke in the morning feeling a little funny in the tummy. Not too off, though. We FaceTimed my daughter and her husband in Florida and the three of us here in South Dakota sat down with the two of them in Florida and opened gifts together. We had a fun time.

Afterwards we started to gather our things together to leave for Sioux Falls to spend the day with my brother and his family. We'd be picking my mother up on the way.

I was feeling a little punkier all the time and finally decided not to go. Tim, of course, didn't think that was a good idea. He suggested I could sit in the back seat of the car and sleep on the way to my brother's home, which is a two hour drive. I declined. I knew this was not that kind of not feeling well.

I'm glad I chose to stay home.

I slept all day. In bed, getting up only to use the toilet. Three times. That's it. No food. A occasional sip of water. I knew I should be drinking more - knew that I would be dehydrated, but couldn't bring myself to do it. Every muscle, every joint in my body screamed in pain.

I ignored all noises from my phone until about 5:00 pm when it rang incessantly. It was Tim. They'd hit a deer about 45 minutes from home, on the way home. Everyone was fine. Good. I went back to sleep.

He called again. Gave me the details. Nice. Of course, being sick as a dog, I was happy they were all okay, and that's all I cared about. I could tell that Tim was very shook up. He said that our daughter Katrina was taking care of the details, so I knew all would be fine. He didn't need me. I wanted to go back to sleep.

The next morning at 8:30 I get a phone call from my loving husband. "How are you feeling?" he wants to know.

"Ok," I respond. Better, but not exactly okay, is the real answer. He continues, "I know you're sick, but I will feel better when you've called the insurance company and done a follow up with them and the sheriff's office and the body shop. Then I will know that everything is being handled. You'll have to get another car for us to use, too and find out if ours is actually totaled and if it is start the process of getting another car."

Seriously? Can't I just die in peace?

Apparently not.

After an hour or so, I do manage to get out of bed, shower and dress. I do manage to make a few phone calls and get another car lined up for us to use. And yes, our dear little Poppy is totaled and so I start the process of finding another one, which, fortunately, the salesman was able to locate. Poppy, Jr. She'll be here in about a week.

I'm just so thankful that my husband is so considerate when I am sick. (Please note the sarcasm.) I used to think I wanted to die before him, so that I wouldn't have to clean out his storage sheds. Now I'm not so sure. Number one, he no longer has the sheds and number two, I don't think I want to die still having to take care of all the details of our life together.

I think I'll let him die first. That was when my time comes, I might be able to die in peace.


Thursday, December 27, 2018

More to this Story?

I don’t believe I will ever get this figured out. 

Last week my dear husband came home from work and told me that a man we know, Fred so and so, wasn’t doing very well. 

I knew that he had been sick for quite some time, with cancer. However, he has still been working - I’d just seen him at work the day before. So my response to Tim’s comment was, “Is that right?. He was at work yesterday, cheerful as ever.”

Tim acknowledged that he, too, had seen him at work that week. And that was the end of the subject. 

A few days later we were eating supper and Tim said, “I guess Fred is home now.”

Since this comment was totally out of the blue and unrelated to anything else and didn’t contain a last name, I asked, “Fred who?”

He filled me in with the last name.

“What do you mean, he’s ‘home’ now?” 

That’s when I found out that the week previous, when Tim had told me he wasn’t doing very well, that he had been taken to the hospital in the Twin Cities, had been told that there wasn’t much they could do for him, and now he was in Hospice and back in his hometown. 

WHAT?

We went from “Fred’s not doing very well” to “Fred’s on his deathbed” in four days and you knew this all along, but just didn’t tell me? You led me to believe that he was still working and was just struggling a bit more than usual? You knew that he’d been taken to the hospital in the Twin Cities and didn’t pass that information along? 

I was shocked and more than a little displeased. Tim didn’t seem to think he had messed anything up. I just shook my head. How oh how does this world manage to function with men in charge? It certainly explains why everything is so messed up, that’s all I can say.

Of course, Tim contends that I didn’t ask the right questions. Because if I had asked questions, he would have told me the details. 

And I say that anyone with any sense would have filled in a few details right off the bat. Like saying, “Fred was taken to the hospital.” Then my response would have been one of surprise,

“Really? Wow! I just saw him at work yesterday! He was so cheerful!” 

I mean, seriously, the entire conversation would have gone differently and I would have gotten the information that Tim was actually trying to convey to me. 

I suppose I should know this by now. I suppose after 36 years of wedding bliss (???) and a couple of years of courtship, I should have this figured out, and should know that pretty much everything Tim says is superficial and needs to be probed. Right? Wouldn’t you think I’d have that figured out? 

I guess I need to train myself to start asking, “Is there more to this story?” That is maybe all it would take. A simple question. 

Hmmm. New Years is approaching. That could be my resolution. A pretty simple one that I might actually be able to achieve. “Is there more to this story?”


Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Terri Practical Weber

I had a conversation with my younger daughter the other day that gave me a bit of pause.

She called me on the telly telling me she had a question for me. A rather vague question, she said, but she needed to ask it. 

And then she popped the question. “So, I am thinking about getting you a Christmas gift that is not exactly practical.”

My heart leapt. 

She continued, “I mean, it could be, depending upon how you choose to use it. But really, it’s not terribly practical. And I don’t know….”

I interrupted her, all excited, “Well, Alex,” I said, with more than a bit of sarcasm in my tone, “My middle name is not exactly Practical.”

OH MY GOSH! This was such exciting news to me! I might actually get a fun, dumb, exciting, not expected, surprise for Christmas. That would be so wonderful.

She totally missed my excitement and sarcasm. In fact, I don’t think she was even listening to me. So then she started to back off. “Well maybe it’s not the best idea. I really think you’d like it, and like I said, it could be practical, I think, but I’m not sure you’d see it that way.”

I quickly clarified that I would absolutely love to get a non-practical gift.

But I gotta wonder, where oh where in the world did she ever get the idea that I ever wanted a practical gift at Christmas or at any other time?

I am the kid in this family, for goodness sakes. I am the one who refuses to grow up! I am the one who buys practical things as I need them. I certainly don’t want them for Christmas or for birthdays. 

Now I know I married into a family of practical gift giving. I know that the tradition is to go shopping together and everybody picks out what they want and then someone else buys it, wraps it up and gives it to them at Christmas time. Or at the very least, we make out lists of the exact items we desire and give that to those who will be buying for us and then they buy from that list. 

This completely goes against my grain. In my opinion, there is no point in even giving gifts if we’re going to do it that way. 

Christmas are supposed to be like when we were kids. Or at least like when I was a child. On Christmas Eve my family would crowd around the tree, piled high with beautifully wrapped gifts for everybody. I never knew what was in them. 

Well, that’s not strictly true. One year when I was about eight or so, I peeked and found all my gifts before Mom got them wrapped. I tell ya what, that was the most disappointing Christmas ever, so I never did that again. I am definitely a quick learner. 

So, we’d all four kids dig into that pile of presents and about 3.2 seconds later we’d emerge from the pile of wrapping paper all aglow with the exertion of unwrapping packages and then we’d sit and sort through all the treasures and actually figure out what we’d gotten. It was totally glorious. 
Unfortunately, I also learned from my new family that the proper way to open gifts is one person at a time, one gift at a time, so I never let my kids just dig in and have at it. I totally regret that now. Bad, bad parenting on my part. If we are ever all together for Christmas again, we are going to have a present-fest. I will make sure there are dozens of gifts for each of them, even if it’s just a rock or something like that in each box, just so they can have the thrill of tearing through them at breakneck speed and be all winded and rosy-cheeked when they are done. So that they have to find their ways out of the deep pile of wrapping paper, and emerge covers with bows and pretty ribbon. That’s what Christmas gift opening should be like. Not this one present at a time, oh wait, we need to throw that gift wrap away and make room so we can see the next person open their present crap. 

Anyway, so this year, I think I might be getting a fun gift. Not an electric toothbrush or screwdriver or book or slippers. All gifts that I truly love, I truly do, but I think I might be getting something fun and silly and worthless and something that is just, well, non-practical. 

I’m already happy just thinking about it. 


Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Who Am I Kidding?

Who am I kidding?

That’s what I want to know.

For the past three years I have been dreaming about reopening a little shop. I’ve continued to do some custom framing on the side - after closing my framing and gift shop in 2004 I kept all the equipment for custom framing - and have done a little here and there for myself and for others. But I haven’t had a supplier for product. Which meant that once my inventory of mat boards and length moulding was used up, I was pretty much out of business.

So then I contacted my old supplier, who is still one of the leading wholesalers in the industry. They have pretty strict standards on who they sell to and I wasn’t even sure that I would qualify - not having a real storefront with real business hours. But they agreed to take me on and so I decided it was time to get back into the retail world. 

Except that a full year went by and I still didn’t have an actual retail space set up.

I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to convert one bedroom in our house to a retail studio. I wanted to set up an area for people to be able to come to select mats and frames for their artwork and such. I also wanted to display my handcrafted items in this same space. I would be open by appointment and by chance, as well as having actual store hours a couple of days a week. 

The problem was that I could never quite get things into order to accomplish this goal. For one thing, I was never home long enough to do it. For another, we’ve been doing this house remodel that is dragging on for what seems like centuries and everything is in shambles. Who wants people walking through their home when it looks like a cyclone has just gone through? Even I don’t relish that thought.

A few weeks ago, however, I received an email from a potential customer - a new customer. Someone who didn’t know me, who was not familiar with my work from the 18 years I had a business in town. She had questions about my experience. She wanted to see my studio. So, with more than a little trepidation, I bit the bullet and set a date to officially open. 

After all, there’s that old adage that one is never financially ready to have a baby, right? I figured this was kind of the same thing.

And then Tim and I set about getting things into order. We contacted the carpenter to see if we could get things moving along. And Tim and I actually got motivated to work at a much faster pace on the remodeling things that we could be doing. 

Which is awesome! Except that in the process of doing more carpentry/remodeling work, we made an even bigger mess. Seriously. I don’t think my house has ever looked this bad. 

And so my first day of being open the new framing customers showed up. And so did some drop in customers. All went well, I had a very successful first day, but oh my gosh, it was so embarrassing. Incredibly embarrassing. 

And I don’t embarrass easily, so that is saying a lot.

But the worst is over, and the house is still a mess. But we are actually making progress and my goal of having it done by Christmas may be realized. Of course, the goal was for Christmas of last year, but beggars can’t be choosers, now can they?
All in all, what this brings to mind is the new saying that is rapidly becoming very popular: “Nevertheless, she persisted.” 

Seriously, I think it was written just for me.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Solitary Helper

One thing I have discovered about myself is that I prefer to work alone.

This tends to surprise most people, as I am a rather social person. And a very chatty individual. But when I am working on a project, I am quiet and focused and I don’t like interruption. 

When I was in high school we were expected to be silent and attentive to the teacher during our classes. If we were given a reading or study assignment, we were to read or study soundlessly, not disturbing others, using our minds and not our mouths. 

I struggled with this. Sitting still and studying was not something I did well. In fact, remaining mute while the teacher lectured was also not something I did well. I preferred to be otherwise occupied, either chatting with one of my classmates, reading a novel or writing in a journal. Listening to the instructor was just, like, well, so boring. 

Except during art class. During art class we listening to the instructor, which was interesting, and then we were to set about our art project. And we were allowed to visit in hushed tones while we worked. 

Art was the one class that I seldom talked in. Because when I am busy working on art, I have to hold my tongue in such a fashion that talking is not possible. 

But really, when I am entranced in an art project, I don’t talk. I don’t hear. I pretty much zone out the entire world. So I prefer to be by myself. I’ve tried listening to audio books, but I don’t hear most of what they are saying, so that doesn’t work. If someone wants to tell me something, I have to stop whatever it is I’m doing and seriously focus on them in order to pay attention to them.

And when I am asked to assist someone else with a project, well, I can’t do that either. The other day the carpenter was at our house to install some built in bookcases. I needed to be there to answer questions about how I wanted the project done. I spent an hour with the man, who is a wonderful, delightful, talented carpenter. It took every bit of my will power to stay there with him, to stay focused and to not run off and find something else to do. 

Mostly I just stood there while he talked (to himself, I think, since I wasn’t really paying attention) about distances, measurements, widths, and such. Periodically I would hear what sounded like a question, so I would tune in and figure out what he needed to know and give him an answer. Then I’d move off into dreamland again while he continued to discuss with himself what he needed to do. 

This is agonizing work for me. After he left I called my hubby and said, “I just spent the most horrible hour trying to pay attention to the carpenter.” Tim just laughed - he knows exactly how hard this is for me, because with him I am not so self-disciplined. When I am “helping” Tim, I always wander off to find something else to do and he has to come find me. This exasperates him. And it makes all of our projects take twice as long to do. But it helps me keep what’s left of my sanity, so I think it’s worth it. 

I suspect Tim would question the whole sanity statement, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Pass the Gravy, Please

Another Thanksgiving has passed us by, another one in the books. Where, oh where do the years go? 

It seems like just last year that I hosted the Thanksgiving meal for my side of the family  - the year that my older brother and his family were in an uproar because I didn’t make gravy. 

Little did I know that gravy is the most important part of a turkey dinner. Somewhere along the line I missed out on that crucial information.

It all started this way: I volunteered to make dinner and to serve it at our home for Thanksgiving day. My family agreed to come from various locations in South Dakota and Nebraska and the weather cooperated and everyone was actually able to make it.

After discussing the menu with my daughters and husband, we decided that I would make those yummy company potatoes instead of the traditional mashed potatoes. You know the ones I am talking about - hashed browns with cream of mushroom soup, green onions, sour cream, cream cheese and other wonderfully tasty and “healthy” ingredients all baked together. My family loves them but we don’t have them very often and decided this would be a good opportunity to serve them. 

And so I went ahead with the T-Day preparations. Pies, stuffing, potatoes, cranberries, Jello salads, bread, vegetables, a relish tray and of course, turkey. We all sat down to eat and everything was proceeding quite well until someone said, “Where’s the gravy?”

Nonchalantly, I responded, “I didn’t make gravy, since we’re having cheesy potatoes instead of mashed.”

Silence.

And then the explosion. 

You’d have thought the end of the world had just occurred. 

Apparently, one cannot possibly serve turkey without gravy. It doesn’t matter that there are no mashed potatoes to put the gravy on. This had not occurred to me and if it occurred to my husband and daughters, they had not thought to say anything to me. Which leads me to believe that one actually can eat turkey without gravy, but suffice it to say that my older brother and his adult sons all truly believe that it is sacrilegious to do so.

Holy Schmoly. 

This fateful Thanksgiving day occurred many years ago but it frequently gets brought up. When my nephew Justin introduced his finance to me, he introduced me as, “This is Terri. She is the one that didn’t make gravy for Thanksgiving one year.” Hmmm. She’d already heard about me.

But that’s okay. When shopping for their wedding gift I carefully picked out the gravy boat that matched the dinnerware on their registry. Now mind you, they hadn’t registered for the gravy boat. I’m not sure what that says about the new bride. Maybe gravy doesn’t register as highly important on her dinner menus, either. However, in addition to the gravy boat, they received several packets of gravy mix. I’ve never actually used a gravy mix and was quite surprised to see that you can buy so many different kinds of mixes. I also was unaware that you can buy canned gravy and jars of gravy. Because, you see, when I do chose to make gravy, I make it from scratch.
So this year I hosted Thanksgiving again, but only for my mother, my sister, my younger brother and his wife. No older brother and nephews. I totally intended to make gravy to go along with the mashed potatoes and turkey, but by the time I got to that point I was tired and didn’t feel like making gravy so I decided not to. Oh well. 

And guess what? 


Nobody even cared.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Stick your Labels

My friend Carol always tells me that we are a label happy society. That unless we put a label on something, we aren't content. Every so-called condition must be labeled.

At first I just listened to her ramble on; sometimes she would just be commenting, sometimes ranting. As someone who has always been labeled, I didn't give much heed to her ideas on this matter. I am, after all, one of these labeled people she is referring to. I have been labeled bi-polar. I have been labeled ADHD. I have spent thousands of dollars with doctors and counselors to get these labels. Interesting enough, I know I'm not bi-polar, even though they insist on continuing to classify me as such. I might be ADHD, but if I am, I consider it something to celebrate, not a curse at all.

But since I've begun to write for my local newspaper, the Grant County Review, I have been getting some mighty interesting feedback from my readers. As it turns out, all the interesting little quirks that I thought were so abnormal aren't so abnormal at all. In fact, they are very normal. Apparently the only abnormal thing about me is the fact that I am bold enough, or just crazy enough, to write publicly about them! Everyone else has the same experiences, they are just too embarrassed to share them.

Well now, that is very interesting. And here all these years I've thought there was something wrong with me.

Ok, maybe there is. Maybe telling others about my embarrassing moments qualifies as having something wrong with me. But I don't think so. I think I just like to make others laugh, I think I just like to share funny stories, because we all need more joy in our days. And all these silly, embarrassing moments are too funny not to share.

So I've decided that Carol is quite smart and has a good handle on the whole labeling issue. I've thought for a long time that all these kids that are getting labeled as ADHD and Hyper-Active are getting an unfair shake, because the label has a negative connotation, and it really isn't a negative issue. The traits that go along with these so-called labels are actually quite wonderful. We just need to understand that teaching children basic self discipline and respect for others will make a huge difference in their lives. And it can be done, despite a society that seems to think we can teach dogs to obey and do tricks, but can't teach our children how to sit still and behave in certain situations.

I think I'll choose to keep the crazy label, though. I kind of like being crazy. It makes life fun.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Clicking Away

I have this dear friend, Carol. I believe I may have written about her a time or two before. I’m very close to her, almost like a sister. 

Anyway, she lives a fair distance away, but we keep in pretty close contact. In the olden days it was via telephone and up to a few years ago it was via email. And then a couple of years ago, she finally joined the new age and got unlimited text messaging and so now we keep in contact via text. I love technology.

Anyway, she doesn’t travel like I do, but sometimes we do get to travel together, and let me tell you, it’s always a fun experience. Interesting, too, to say the least. For example, a few years ago, when she was working in the tech center at a bank, she was to attend a conference in Salt Lake City, Utah to learn about a new program they would be using at the bank. Her employer, of course, would be footing the bill for her travel expenses, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to go along with her. 

I mean, really. I would room with her, thereby I wouldn’t have any hotel expense. Obviously, I’d be on my own for airfare and meals and miscellaneous spending, but it would be an opportune time to visit Salt Lake City, to spend evenings with Carol and on top of it all, I had a classmate from high school, also named Carol, living in Salt Lake City, and we could get together and do lunch. A perfect excuse to take a little trip.

Carol booked the hotel. That was interesting. I mean, the bank was paying for the lodging. I figured she’d choose something nice, right? No. She scoured the internet for the cheapest lodging she could find in the vicinity of the conference. Seriously? “Carol,” I said. “You don’t want the less than $50 a night hotel. Really, you don’t. Those hotels are not nice. They aren’t. They are dirty and the beds are uncomfortable and the pool is filthy and you don’t want to stay there. Besides, the bank is not expecting you to get a room for under $50 a night. I don’t think you should gouge them. Being frugal is good and nice and ethical, but it is not unreasonable to get a room that is more like $100 a night.”

She wouldn’t buy it. Besides, she said, the pictures on the website looked really nice.

“That’s because they have one nice room and a pretty lobby. They take pictures of those and post them on the internet. It deceives people into believing it is a nice hotel. Trust me. You do NOT WANT THIS HOTEL.”

She booked it anyway. 

Her flight arrived in Salt Lake City ahead of mine. When I landed and shut the airplane mode off on my phone, I saw that I had a text message from her, “The lobby is really nice, but when you go back to the rooms, well, let’s just say that if you drop something on the floor, you will want to immediately dispose of it.”

Sigh.

That night as we were sleeping I was awakened by what sounded like a semi applying it’s Jake breaks at it was rushing through our room. Startled, I sat up and looked around. It was just Carol, snoring away. I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. She was determined to cut the entire forest down by dawn, from the sounds of it. So, quietly, I got my laptop out, arranged myself comfortably in my bed with pillows propped up behind me and turned on my side lamp, on the far side of the bed away from Carol, so as not to disturb her. And I started to work. 

You know how the keys on the keyboard make those little clicking sounds when you are typing? Well, I am a family rapid typist, and my nimble fingers were clicking away. After a bit, Carol woke and sleepily, but with a note of anger, asked me, “Please stop with that clicking. It has awaken me and is bothering me.”

I looked over at her with a stare of disbelief, which, I might add, was totally lost on her, as she immediately rolled over to go back to sleep.

Seriously? 

Sigh.

I shut my laptop, turned off the light, and laid down. Might as well try to sleep again. 


There shall be revenge one day, however. There shall be.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Wash Day Dance

This remodeling project is costing us more than we anticipated.

Oh, I know that is typical. It always costs more than one expects, right? There just seem to be hidden expenses that creep in and surprise people when they remodel, and why should it be any different for us? I knew that would be the case.

But the extra expense that is coming our way this week was not at all one that I'd projected. Not at all.

You see, we put in ceramic tile flooring in our home during this remodel. Took out the carpeting and linoleum and replaced it with tile. I must say, we've had it several months now and we are very, very happy with it. It is absolutely gorgeous, cleans up easily, doesn't show dirt (thank goodness for that), and, well, is just perfect in every way.

Along with the tile, I purchased some machine washable throw rugs for by the outside entrance doors to catch some of the grime that gets tracked into the house. I specifically chose machine washable, as I wanted to be able to wash them myself.

Yesterday we celebrated an early Thanksgiving with my family - just a small gathering of six of us. It has been a busy, busy fall for me, what with craft shows and this never-ending remodel project, and so the house is currently in the "a cyclone just went through two hours ago" decorating theme. I knew my usual dash and stash cleaning method would not even begin to work, so I just resigned myself to the cyclone look for the gathering. However, I did decide to throw the rugs into the washing machine so at least they'd be clean.

For three of the rugs, it would be the very first time they'd be washed. They are brand new additions to our home and this would be their maiden voyage, so to speak. Unfortunately, two of them proved to be unusually thirsty buggers that soaked up an amazing amount of water. This, of course, overloaded the washer, and set it to dancing.

I was upstairs, about as far away from the laundry room as one can get and still be in the same building. I heard the drums beating and the machine dancing and I took off running. Over the hills and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go... Well, not quite that fun. I rounded the corner into the laundry room, where the washing machine had reached dizzying heights of spinning and was pounding loudly as it jumped around like a crazy lunatic. I gotta say, I was more than a bit afraid to get close enough to open the lid to stop the frenzy. Gingerly I reached forward and popped the lid open and, thankfully, it stopped. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and took the offending water-logged pink rugs out and put them in the utility sink to wait until later to spin out on their own.

I rearranged the rest of the rugs and closed the lid and it finished it's spin cycle peacefully. All was well.

Until later when I went to run another load of laundry and discovered that the machine will no longer fill with water. Uh oh. My dear hubby dismantled the thing but couldn't solve the problem, and therein lies the hidden, totally unexpected additional expense due to the remodeling project: a service call and repair from our local appliance store.

Now who would have thunk that putting in tile flooring would have wielded a washing machine repair bill??

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Time is a Funny Thing

Time is a funny thing.

Or at least I think it’s a funny thing. I certainly have a hard time with it, that’s for sure. 

Take last week. I needed to get up at 4:00 am, so I had decided I’d be sure to go to bed early, as in, midnight. Because of this, I was keeping tabs on the time, checking the clock periodically, to make sure I’d make my deadline.

I remember looking at the clock and seeing it was 9:00 pm. “Oh good,” I thought. “I have lots of time left. Three whole hours! That is great.”

And I proceeded to continue working on my project at hand, which is actually always several projects at once. I tend to get a little bored working on one thing at a time, so I will flit from one task to another and then to another and around again. I suppose everyone works this way, but maybe not. It’s just that when I am working on an activity my mind is generally thinking about another one, so I have to stop and piddle with that one for a while. And then, of course, I start thinking about something else I could be doing and so I meander off to work on that activity. This continues until I eventually think about the original project and wander back to it. 

Unfortunately this means jobs sometimes take longer to get done, but it definitely keeps my life more engaging.

At any rate, I was busy zipping from one task to another and the next thing I knew it was 2:00 am. Where oh where did all those hours go? I couldn’t believe it was that late - or early, as the case may be - already. And I still needed to wash up before heading to bed. Four AM was going to come awfully early. As I turned the light out and snuggled down under the covers it occurred to me that since I’d be getting up again in just over an hour, I’d probably be wise to not go to bed at all. It might be easier than trying to get up at 4:00 am. I’m not sure I even finished the thought, though. I just fell asleep.

A few days later I had arrangements to pack the car and leave for a town located 90 minutes away to set up for a craft show the next day. My plan was to be on the road at 5:30 that evening. I distinctly remember checking the time and seeing it was 4:00 pm and realizing I had 30 minutes to finish what I was doing and then start loading my beloved Poppy. (Poppy is my hamster-driven car.) 

The next thing I knew it was 6:00. 

How did that happen?

Seriously, how did it go from 4:00 to 6:00 in a matter of like, 15 minutes? 

Now you might be thinking, “This girl had best get herself a watch.” Except that I own and wear a watch already, so that doesn’t do me much good. It’s even a SmartWatch, but of course it’s really only as smart as the wearer, and sometimes the wearer isn’t smart enough to tell it what to do. 

I am pleased to report that these two incidents did lead me to rekindle the habit of setting alarms on my SmartWatch so that I get to bed in a timely manner or quit working on a task at a certain time. I’m also pleased to say that this benefitted me greatly this week: I put a pan of brownies in the oven and instead of setting the timer on the oven, I set the timer on my watch. My rationale was, “If you’re downstairs when the timer goes off, you won’t hear it.”

Huh. Downstairs? How about two miles from home? Yep. I was driving down the highway, heading into town when the timer on my SmartWatch started to ring. At first I couldn’t figure out why it would be making such a racket, then I remembered those brownies in the oven. Fortunately I was close enough to home that I was able to turn around and get them out of the oven while they were still perfectly wonderful for eating. 

Thank goodness for technology. Now, if I could just use it consistently….


Monday, November 12, 2018

Preparing for Advent

Yesterday I made a trip into Minneapolis.

From where I live in NE South Dakota, Minneapolis/St. Paul, which we call the Twin Cities, is the nearest big city - and it's about four hours away. I can get to the western edge of the metropolitan area in three hours and twenty minutes from my front door, but to get to the shopping areas, I've basically got to figure four hours.

And of course, depending on the time of day and the season, maybe even more time, to allow for additional traffic or bad roads due to the weather.

I love going into the Twin Cities. I seldom go to Sioux Falls or Fargo, which are the preferred shopping areas of most of my friends. And in all honesty, Sioux Falls and Fargo have most of the same big name stores to shop at, so it's not that I have to go to the Cities to get what I want - at least not in most cases. But there is something about Minneapolis/St. Paul that feeds my soul. Maybe it's the way it's laid out. Maybe it's the cars zipping on the freeway around and though the city. I really don't know why, but periodically I just have to go there to nurture my spirit.

So yesterday was actually one of those times when I really did need to shop at a business that does not have a location locally, other than the Twin Cities: IKEA. I had ordered a cabinet from IKEA and needed to go in to pick it up. And I decided that this would be the day I did most of my Christmas shopping, too.

Boy oh boy, was I successful! I left immediately following church Sunday morning and got home at 11:30 that night. And I found almost everything I needed for gift giving this year! What a wonderful day. I couldn't believe how many people there were out shopping, though. One store had a line that must have had 50 people in it, all waiting to check out. Fortunately, the store was adequately prepared and the lined moved quickly, so I didn't have to wait long at all.

But I kept thinking, "It's only November 11th. It's going to get worse as we get closer to Christmas!" And said a silent prayer of thanks that I was doing my shopping now.

Today I spent a good share of my day unloading the haul in my car, taking price tags off and sorting through it all. Putting items away. Soon I will begin boxing and wrapping: I've vowed to get it done early this year because I really want to sit back and enjoy the Advent season, the time of waiting and watching for the coming of the Christ Child. In just two short weeks, Advent will begin, and I want to  delight in Advent and Christmas this year, instead of being all stressed out.

Advent always gets missed outside of church and it's such a shame. Christmas is so big and beautiful, we should spend Advent truly preparing our hearts for it. For me, Advent had become such a time of hurry, hurry, hurry that I had a hard time focusing on the preparation for the Christ Child.

I pray this year will be different.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

Do As I Say

Recently we installed a new garage door.

It was a much needed replacement. Our old one had cracks in every panel and each time we opened it sounded like it would be the very last time it opened.

In fact, sometimes it refused to open. It would struggle, loudly, to lift itself a few feet and then abruptly come to a halt, refusing to budge another inch. We’d hit the remote again and it would gratefully sink back into its resting position. With a little coaxing and some physical help from either Tim or I, it would grudgingly try again and finally get into the full open position so that we could either drive the car in or out of the garage, whichever we needed to do at that moment. And then our poor, tired garage door would happily sink back into its sleepy-time (closed) setting. 

Kind of like me, now that I come to think of it.

Well, anyway, we’ve known for a while now that we should replace it. Tim and I have been talking about it for a couple of years, actually. This is one of those household tasks that I consider a “man’s” job, so I leave the doing of it to him. I don’t know why, exactly, but there are certain tasks around the house that I consider a man’s work and garage door replacement happens to be one of them. 

Of course, this means that replacement of the garage door may never actually happen. Just sayin’.

Another man’s task is water heater replacement. This is a bit of a side note, but in a bit you’ll see where I’m going with it. A few years ago our water heater started to leak. A slow leak, but a leak, nevertheless. I pointed it out, repeatedly, I might add, to my dear, sweet husband, and suggested a number of times that perhaps we should get a new water heater. He gave me his standard response, “Yes, we should.” But then failed to act on it. 

Then came the day when the slow leak suddenly became a fast leak. As in, the basement was flooded with water and Tim was screaming at me to help him mop this water up because it was spreading everywhere and he couldn’t keep up with it and the drain wasn't taking it fast enough and water was going everywhere and we had a major problem and what was I doing just standing there looking at him and I needed to do something and I should be helping him and get some towels or something and there’s 80 gallons of water in this thing and they are going everywhere and the water is coming out too fast and……

And he’s madder than a wet hen and I just said, “Gosh, if we’d replaced this one of those times when I’d suggested it back when it was just a slow leak we wouldn’t be in this situation right now, would we?” 

Which of course just made him more angry. Surprise, surprise.

But back to the garage door. A month or so ago, Tim and I were standing outside and I mentioned that we really should be thinking about replacing the garage door. Tim gave me his standard reply, “Yes, we should.”

To which I responded, “So, do you want to do it now, while the weather is nice? Or would you rather wait until it actually breaks completely and it’s 30 below and the wind is blowing 50 miles an hour? Because I will not come outside and help you if you do it in those conditions.”

The next day Tim called and ordered the garage door.