Lucky Man

20160518_161422.jpgToday I have a dinosaur in my pocket and it made  me think of Dad.

Moving through the dozen rooms of our child care center each day, I pick up stray items, dropping small ones in my pocket or purse to take with me to its proper place in the building.  Often I promptly relocate the items.  Other days they go home with me, forgotten, but eventually returned days later.

That’s how little blue man ended up as a gift for my dad.

When we learned dad was to have major surgery, there was little time to get things organized before flying out to be with him. Cleaning out my purse did not make the to-do list. Somewhere above Missouri, before landing in Kansas City, I discovered little blue man among the pens and paperclips that always sink and line the bottom of my purses. Laughing at myself for carrying such an odd item, I decided to present it to dad as a lucky man, for a lucky man.

We always teased Dad about his luck.  In his lifetime he won recliners, televisions, microwaves, and much more.  Not a gambler, and years before State Lotteries were the norm anyway, he won by signing up at every possible free drawing at fairs and business promotions.  So I told him this little blue guy, now dubbed Lucky Man, was to remind him how lucky he had always been, and would be as he faced the major surgery and subsequent cancer treatment.  He laughed and kept it in his hospital room among the balloons and cards. (I knew he’d like it; the goofy gene in our family definitely came from Dad.)

Lucky Man earned a permanent place on Dad’s bedroom dresser for the almost four years Dad battled pancreatic cancer, post surgery. Lucky years for all of us, to have more time together.

We are a family of faith, and credit God with that time, not luck.  For me, counting yourself lucky in life is mostly about deciding to be happy.  It is choosing joy, wherever it can be found.  Even in the midst of fighting cancer, that was Dad’s  choice, and it served him  well.







Spring Whimsy


 Happy that the recent unseasonable frosts spared my  daffodils and hyacinth, my mind wandered to the flowering season ahead, and to Eden long ago…

The book of Genesis tells us that Adam was given the job of naming the animals. Bear. Wolf. Lion. And so on.

I suggest that maybe (just perhaps!) Eve took it upon herself to name the flowers.  Heliotrope, Delphinium, Daisy, Honeysuckle, Lily of the Valley. Oh, I can imagine it.

Adam calls to Eve, “Come check these flowers out. They smell great!”  Eve inhales deeply, gazing at the red blooms.  “I will call this the Rose bush”, she declares.

Gently admonishing, Adam tries again to direct her attention to the wonderful scent.  “Eve, a Rose by any name would smell as sweet.”

But Eve demurs. “No, Adam.  A Rose, is a Rose, is a Rose.”




Spring Breaks

The winter has been full of work, writing limited to policies and memos. Too many deadlines to allow myself time to write for pleasure.

The deadlines continue, but on this lovely Spring morning I took a break, read some blogs, and discovered April is poetry month.

It brought to mind a poem I love. It reminds me of myself and Spring. Perhaps I will find time to share others this month as a much needed Spring break from policy writing.

She Never Finished Anything by Lenore Langs

was distracted from
her prayers
by the flash of a finch’s wing
decided to follow a regime
of monday cleaning
tuesday laundry
but took her coffee to the backyard for
ten minutes
on the first monday
and stayed all morning
watching the light change
on the leaves of the lilac


I’m So Glad You Thought of That!

Little things make me happy. Like foaming soap. So I entertained myself thinking about some of my favorite inventions. Not necessities, but simple things I enjoy on an almost daily basis. Here’s what I came up with, in no particular order.

1) Foaming soap. (I wasn’t kidding.) Warm Vanilla Sugar is my favorite scent.
2) Fans. Electric fans. I love to sleep with one on as many months of the year as my husband will tolerate. Add blankets, but keep the fan. I also appreciate the fan that quickly blows heat into a chilly car these Fall mornings, then fills the car with a cool breeze in the heat of the day. I’m a fan of air conditioning, too. (Oops, inadvertent pun.)
3) Cup holders. Really, how did we drive back in the 70’s? With a can of pop between our knees and the wind blowing hot air through the open window, that’s how. Cup holders are such a wonderful invention that cup makers adapted their designs to fit.
4) Ziplock baggies. I use them for so much more than food storage. They are great for keeping papers neat, clean, and visible. Ditto for kids’ books. They come in all sizes and are great for craft pieces. I use them all the time. And, if someone is car sick? ZIP and PITCH!
5) Insulated bottles you can fill with ice to keep a drink cold all day. AND they fit in my cup holder!
6) The little pill sorters for days of the week/times of the day. Never gave them a thought until I started helping take care of my mom, who takes 18 pills a day. Now I love them. Genius.
7) Task specific adhesives. Post-its. Glue dots for scrapbooks/card making. Super glue. Etc.
8) Sunglasses. Love the sun; hate to squint. I wear them year round. My daughter once told me she could describe me to someone trying to pick me out in a crowd anytime, “My mom? She’s the short blonde with sunglasses and a giant travel mug.”
9) The DVR. I was going to stick with lo-tech, smaller inventions, but I can’t leave this off my list. We watch what we want, when we want, without having to remember to record it, and we can pause it when interrupted and not miss a thing. It still amazes me. This week it caught reruns of Firefly and several season premieres I would have forgotten. Finding time to watch – still a problem.
10) Here’s another I can’t ignore. All forms of instant, written communication: email, instant message, tweet, text, etc., etc., etc. Truly amazing.

Thank you, thank you, inventors, whoever you are. Your idea brightens my days!

If you’re reading this, I’d love to hear what would be on your list.

I Don’t Count Sheep

P1010499We did a small remodel of one of the preschool rooms at our child care center over the Labor Day weekend: ripping out carpet, building a loft corner, and changing storage and activity centers. The kids love the loft. The adults love the hardwood floor, original to our old building, that was in fair shape underneath the old carpet. Many expressed admiration that we got it all arranged and ready for the kids in just three days. I explained that the physical work may have taken place in a weekend, but the “new room” had existed in my head for months now.

I don’t count sheep when I’m trying to fall asleep, but I often rearrange or redecorate rooms.

Some of the rooms I plan as I fall asleep end up as real rooms in our life, like our garage-turned-family room and living room-turned-bedroom suite. Others will never come to pass. It interests me to think about living in other homes and buildings, or in our own home in a new way. Since there is no urgency, it relaxes me – unlike thinking about things I really need to get done tomorrow – and I can sleep.

What would I take if we moved to one of these new little houses? A cabin? An apartment? How could a barn be turned into a home? What do I need to move/store/rearrange to create a guest bedroom upstairs? A craft room?

Let me count the ways!

Literally, No Thanks

It would please me to eliminate the word literally from general usage. It will be easy.

Say what you mean in a literal way. Drop the redundant use of literally at the end of your statement. “Hundreds of people were there,” can stand alone. Use a specific number if you really want to be literal about it.

Go ahead, create a hyperbolic description to make your point. Don’t ruin it by adding “literally” when you mean it figuratively. Misuse of this word is one of the little things that drives me crazy. Not literally – I usually just get irritated, maybe rant a little.

But hearing this sentence is what finally pushed me over the edge when it comes to the use of “literally”. (Hyperbole alert – I was not standing on a cliff and no bones were broken.) “That literally exploded my brain and blew off the back of my head.” Really. But it was a medical miracle, because that person with brain and skull missing just kept talking and talking and talking… It literally seemed they would never stop.

Marathon Love Story

I consider myself a regular customer at the Marathon gas station two blocks from my work.  I purchase gas at the pump there weekly and go inside to purchase a drink once or twice a month.  The owner and a couple of staff know me after several years of this routine.

Between the chilly drive in and the thought of rewarding myself for coming in to work on a Saturday morning again I decided it was a good day to stop for coffee.

As I was creating my own blend of artificially flavored French Vanilla Coffee with some Folger’s decaf, a gentleman who appeared to be in his late 80’s headed past me toward the counter.  Not exactly shuffling, but walking carefully.  I took my time before following him toward the counter, arriving there right behind him, and just in time to see the staff quickly open the register nearest this gentleman, telling him they always open it for their special customers.  The owner was at the counter a few feet back and winked, waving at me to come to her register.

Both clerk’s asked about his health, then inquired “And how’s the boss, today?”  To this he replied, “Not too good.  She ‘s not feeling any better, and she has me to put up with.” Everyone chuckled at this as he added, “Been putting up with me for 66 years now.”

The small talk continued as he slowly made his way out the door and to his parked car, and I wondered vaguely if he ought to still be driving.  Thankful my mom had given up doing so without complaint in her early 80’s.

The owner quickly whispered to me some of his family background.  It’s a small county and it turned out I know one of this man’s sons – the parents have been on a prayer list at our church off and on due to serious health problems.

“His wife has so much trouble swallowing after the treatments she’s been through, but she loves our slushies.”  She paused in her story.  “So he comes here every day to get one for her.  Has all winter.”

Our eyes met and we grew silent in appreciation of this dedication, this love that had endured and gone the distance.  66 years and counting.