Wednesday, October 25, 2006

That Smell Reminds Me of...

My friend Hannelie recently posted about smells. Our sense of smell can trigger emotions related to memories we don't consciously remember. It also can simply carry us back in time to pleasant moments. The smell of fresh, moist earth, for instance, takes me back to my Grandma's cellar. That particular cellar was carved out of the firm clay soil of middle Michigan. The walls and floor were earth. Against the far wall, across from the door, stand some shelves. They hold a number of glass kerosene lamps. To the left of the door is a worn, wooden counter or table, where Grandma sorted eggs. She kept chickens for a long time, and sometimes I helped gather eggs. Grandma had regular customers who bought these eggs. To the right of the doorway is the well pump. It didn't look anything like a pump. It was not an old fashioned handpump, but rather an electric pump that brought up well water into the house.

My mom baked bread frequently, because she enjoyed the process, and we all enjoyed eating it. The smell of bread baking doesn't trigger that memory, however. Instead, it makes me think of snow days, when the kids were little and we were a family all together. On snow days, when school was cancelled, I liked to bake bread and make chicken noodle soup. Unlike grandma, I didn't kill and pluck my own chicken. Like grandma, I cooked a chicken, or whatever pieces I had in the freezer, with good vegetables to make a rich broth, and just before suppertime, I added good, thick noodles. Once or twice I made noodles like Grandma always had - a lot of work! It was (and is) much easier to pour in a bag of Kluski noodles. They are almost as good!

What smells and memories are entwined for you?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sick Babies and Short Weekends

I made beef stew today. It was really good, with plenty of good potatoes and carrots and onions, and I threw in Bisquik dumplings for good measure. MMmmmm. So DD and family came over to help eat it. The little guy was running a high temp: about 101 under his arm. He was so lethargic, and just wanted to be held, which was easy to want to do, considering how sad he was.

Mom finally gave him some Tylenol, and within 20 minutes he perked right up. Play-Doh everywhere, and he helped me sort the piles of paper that are left after paying the bills, and he was in a very good mood, unless someone suggested he might possibly consider saying "please" when he wanted something. Then all you-know-what broke loose and he screamed and cried and carried on... It was like watching Dr Jekyll turn into Mr Hyde. Poor little guy. He wanted to lie down and be covered with 17 blankets. No, that wasn't it...he wanted to drink chocolate milk...no, not that either...he wanted dinner -- nope, never mind, not that...maybe a pillow...or, I know! Put play-doh in and out of a paper bag for a while. Add some magazines. Be content sitting on the floor until...until...Dog Treats! He wanted dog treats! Not very many; just some. Except Mom was so darn unreasonable and took them away and then, of course, he had no choice but to get mad and cry and sob and hollar.

Meanwhile, I could use another day to get some more of this house cleaned up. I couldn't find the vacuum yesterday. I guess it had been so long since I used it... But there it was, at last, tucked in the back of the closet behind the coats with pillows piled on it. So now it is sitting in the bedroom where I can't miss it. And, as I said, I need a longer weekend so I have time to actually use it.

Women of Faith

They were funny, tender, bittersweet, dynamic, and inspiring. They were slick and glitzy and 'Hollywood.' They tottered around on 3 inch spike heels, urging us to take care of ourselves, and didn't seem to see any irony there. They spoke of their challenges in life, and God's help and presence in those challenges; and they spoke of the rewards God has seen fit to provide to them.

And 15,000 women, each paying $$ for a ticket, tote bags for $60.00, books and CDs for sale, the hotels booked up, $8.00 hamburgers $3.00 for 12 ounces of water inside the Rose Garden Arena where we were isolated from competitive pricing, I would say that much of Portland, OR also reaped rewards through the Women of Faith.

This long-awaited "conference" with my friends was nothing like I expected. First, to call it a conference is to imply that there is an exchange of ideas, and there was no exchange here. The speakers were excellent, mind you, and inspiring, but this was a Program, not a conference. We were an audience, not participants.

So, the seats were small and crowded, as is the tradition in any arena because it is important to crowd as many money-payers as possible into the space available; the comfort of those paying is the least important consideration. The steps were difficult to negotiate, mostly because there were so many of us there. The sound system certainly was in good working order. It is a week later, and my ears are still ringing. And of what value is it to pay sums of money to attend an event that is so ****ing large it has to be viewed on television screens even when one is there in person?

Never mind the part about the breaks, when 15,000 women descended upon inadequate bathrooms and food vendors en mass: good, Christian women, pushing and shoving and elbowing each other out of the way in their desperate need to be First In Line.

I think, as for me and myself, I will look for God in the flowers of my garden. I listen for God's voice in the song of the birds and the breeze sighing through tree branches. I will feel God's touch in the warm sun on shoulders or the rain falling on my head, or the hugs of my grandchildren. I will worship and pray in my heart while I stitch quietly at my needlework or while I talk to a hurting child or offer comfort to a colleague.

I probably won't go to another Women of Faith Conference, even when they have a surprise appearance by Dr Phil.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My Son-In-Law

Just about five years ago (in August) my DD began seeing a young soldier stationed nearby. I remember that she seemed to like him, and I remember telling her I thought he was cute. We were sitting on the back deck one warm evening. He was away with his unit, fighting fires up north. I was just one month out of the disaster that I had married.

So, we sat there in the dark, drinking diet Coke, relaxing, and talking about life in general, when the phone rang. Young soldier calling DD. "Oh, Hi-i-i..." she said, smiling. Later on he would tease her a little about that greeting. It wasn't long when he was back from the fire-fighting, and they began seeing each other regularly. In fact, within a month he came home with her one evening...and never left. They have been together ever since.

They are married now, of course, and have given me such a fun little grandboy. And this weekend my son in law turns 30. Happy Birthday, Sweetie!! I love you. I love what a good daddy you are, and I love how much you cherish my dear daughter.

Saturday, October 7, 2006

In plenty of time for Santa

It looks blurry to me. This is a photo of my latest Christmas stocking, finished tonight. Oh, and the black thing is my Maggie's big kitty bottom and her tail. She wanted in on the act. I began stitching this project last January, and took time off to do two other small projects. I hope this photo is clear enough to show how cute the design is.

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Assume Best Intentions

I get my feelings hurt. This has been a pattern for me most of my life. I'm quit to hear the subtle insult, the passive rudeness, the disdainful tone of voice...even when it isn't there. It is a side effect of low self esteem, and I come by it honestly - it's genetic. Or not. Nature vs nurture... it's how I was raised.

Well, I fight this constantly, and at the tender age of xx I may be making some headway in the battle. It isn't always about me. Figuring this out was a huge step for me. A random comment from a friend about 20 years ago showed me that there is a lot of ego involved in thinking people are always thinking of me and insulting me. That helped a lot in healing my id.

So another random comment a couple of weeks ago has given me a new affirmation. Assume best intentions. When people say things and I catch myself taking them negatively, I regroup and remind myself to assume those people have the best intentions. It has already gone some distance to relieving me of the burden of being hurt or insulted. It's kind of a relief.