Saturday, July 23, 2016

IT REALLY HAPPENED, I SWEAR IT DID

                                  IT REALLY HAPPENED, I SWEAR IT DID
                                                                            T. Wieland Allen
     Yes, it really did happen just the way that I am going to tell you.  I was amazed and I know you will be amazed, also.
     The temperature had reached 100 degrees outside, 115 with the the heat index.  It was so hot but I had to make a run to a store that had some things on sale.  It didn't really seem that hot to me, but after purchasing my good buys at my favorite store, I only had one short stop to make before going home.  Since it was so hot, I decided to stop by the drive through at McDonald's and get a large diet Dr. Pepper, which I occasionally do if I am out shopping for a good while.  Besides that, it was happy hour at McDonald's and the large drinks were only $1.09, a real bargain. I could almost taste that Dr. Pepper and feel the cooling effects of that first drink through the straw. 
     I ordered a large diet Dr. Pepper at the proper place, the faceless, windowless structure.  At the first window with a real person visible, the young lady told me that the diet Dr. Pepper was flat and do I want a substitute.  I told her that diet Coke would be fine and paid her my $1.09 plus a nice tip. 
     On to the next window I went, adjusting my taster to take the first sip out of the diet Coke, wetting my thirsty palate, as they say.   The pretty girl at that window told me that the diet Coke was flat.  I remarked that I thought it was the diet Dr. Pepper that was flat.  She said that both were flat.  I asked how long they had been flat and she said a week or longer.  What an inconvenience since that McDonald's is on a busy highway and there are always cars backed up in the drive through line. 
    The pretty girl asked if I wanted to substitute anything.  I didn't want that much sugar if I had a regular Coke or Dr. Pepper, so I told her that I would just take one of their good iced coffee drinks instead.  Eager to please, the pretty girl disappeared from the window and was gone for about a minute.  Then she appeared again and asked what kind did I want.  I asked what kind they had, expecting her to say a caramel frappe or a mocha frappe or some other tasty drink.  Instead she said, "Decaf or regular."  I was impressed that they had begun to have decaf specialty drinks, the frappes of which I am so fond with their thousands of calories.  Elated that they had decaffeinated specialty drinks, I told her decaf and waited for her to ask which flavor.  Her face disappeared from the window again.
    When her pretty face appeared, she said that it would be just a minute.  I complimented her on her hair which was piled high upon her head in a long braid and her neckline had been tattooed with a razor, meaning that there was a pretty shaved design in the hair on her neck.  She was grateful for the compliment. 
     Suddenly I saw someone, probably her supervisor, appear beside the pretty young lady carrying a small McDonald's Styrofoam coffee cup in her hand.  I surmised that she was going to make a frappe of some flavor for me there at the drink dispensers out of the cup of coffee. 
     Was I ever wrong.  The supervisor took the top off of the cup of coffee and added a big scoop of ice, put the top back on and handed it to the pretty girl with the elaborate hairdo.  As she handed it to me I was stunned, but told her how much I appreciated her going to that much trouble for me.  She remarked that it was her job to please the customer. 
     I was still thirsty and the ice had melted in the coffee, producing weak coffee with no cream or sugar.  What a bummer.  There were cars behind me, several of them, and they were getting impatient, so I drove away letting the pretty girl think she had made my day. 
     I was reminded of the time when we had first moved into town and my husband had a few hours to spare from work one day and asked a new neighbor to go with him to have a cup of coffee at the Walgreen's store which had a soda fountain at that time.  They sat at the counter and my husband ordered a cup of coffee.  His friend said that he wanted iced coffee.  My husband noticed a confused look on the face of the waitress.  The waitress brought my husband's cup of coffee to him, went and got another cup of coffee for his friend, grabbed a piece of ice from the dispenser and plopped it into the coffee that was sitting there in the white cafe style cup.   Unfortunately, my husband's friend was not as gentle with the lady as I was in my situation.   
    Some things are not serious enough to make a fuss over, iced coffee being one.  We can either laugh about the naivete of people later in a strange situation or we can make a scene at the time.  I have always made it a habit to laugh about things; in other words to go with the flow and flow with the go.  
    Both waitresses had done what was logical to them.  Actually in my situation it was my fault that I had not made it clear that I wanted one of McDonald's  specialty coffee drinks, frappes, instead of a hot cup of coffee with ice in it. 
     I got my specialty drink.  I made my own out of the cup of coffee from McDonald's, some almond milk, a teaspoon of stevia for sweetening,  a dash of Hershey syrup and plenty of ice to replace the melted ones. 
     Where there is a will there is always a way.
     I'm wondering if it ever occurred to the young girl with the fancy hairdo or her supervisor that what I was really wanting was a summer specialty frappe drink instead of a cup of hot coffee with a scoop of ice floating around in it.  Something was missing in the translation, evidently. 
    It was my translation, not theirs.  I will be more specific next time.
    My frappe was much lower in calories than the McDonald's frappe.
    It worked out better in the end.

Friday, July 15, 2016

THE DAY FROM HELL, I MEAN LITERALLY THE DAY FROM HELL

                       THE DAY FROM HELL -- I Mean Literally the Day From Hell
                                                       T. Wieland Allen
     Actually the day from hell started the night before the actual day when I discovered a tiny bump on my abdomen.  It was itchy one minute and painful the next minute.  Thinking that was a clever mosquito to be able to get under my lawn mowing shirt that I wore trimming the hedges that day, I immediately thought, "No, mosquito bites don't look that angry immediately."  Well, could it be a tick that I have dreaded finding on my body ever since my dear husband died.  He was my tick investigator.  Now, no self respecting  woman in her right mind would ask her adult son or his wife to inspect her in embarrassing private areas, especially the private ones of an 80 year old mom.  In fact, checking myself for ticks and moles is a real adventure because the cataracts on my eyes are not "ripe" enough yet to be removed, so I use 2.5 dollar store glasses to read and try to find ticks and troublesome moles on my body.  Sometimes the glasses are not strong enough for me to distinguish black moles from ticks on those private areas.  So I switch into  my contortion act, twisting and turning as far as I can with a magnifying glass in one hand and a pair of tweezers in the other hand.  I always think about being so glad that my two loving sisters are not around to see me or they would be laughing hysterically and being no help at all.
   You see, when female aged bodies change it causes body parts to sag in all directions.  On my mole/tick adventures I have been known to tie particular parts of my body up high with a soft sash in order to see under sagging skin, inspecting every possible hiding place so I can tell my young, handsome dermatologist that I was a good girl and followed his orders perfectly.  If he could only see an elderly woman in her efforts to follow his directions he would get a good laugh, too.
    Sorry for the digression, so now back to my literal day from hell.  After finding the little bump on my belly (to heck with being proper) I put on some of Paw Paws Salve, which always works, and went to bed.  The day from hell officially began at 3:00 a.m. that day, July 14, 2016.  I woke with real pain around the area of the bump.  Upon inspection with my trusty magnifying glass, I saw that the bump had had babies during the night and there were three bumps.  The babies had blisters on their heads.  Oh, no, those buggers were not mosquito or ticks bites, they were the much dreaded shingles.  I ran to the kitchen, got some ice, put it in a plastic bag and slapped it on the fevered blisters around which redness was now prevalent.  The pain stopped immediately.
     Back to bed I went but sleep was impossible.  I made plans in my mind for the day for going to the Urgent Care facility at 8:00 a.m. in order to get to my dental appointment at 10:30 to get a root canal and cap.  Not my favorite thing to do.  During my awake time I planned to also call the dentist office before I left home for the Urgent Care to inform them that I might have shingles and since it can be contagious to anyone who has not had chicken pox, telling them that I might not make it to the dental appointment.  I got out of bed at 6:00 a.m. in order to dress, make the phone call and get to the doctor early in order to be the first patient.  Heaven forb
id that I would miss the adventure awaiting me at the dentist's office later.
     Sure enough, after examining me the nice doc at the Urgent Care said I had an early case of shingles.  Bummer, just what I had suspected.  Since I had his attention and no one else needed him at that moment I told him that I had had some lower back pain that I assumed was from pulling a child's wagon up a slight hill in my yard loaded with large bags of gardening mulch, one at a time of course.  The nice doctor asked me if I had had any problems with eliminating urine lately.  I told him that I had more frequent needs to urinate, but I have been drinking more liquids lately since I work outside a lot.  He ordered me to urinate into a plastic container in the bathroom and quickly came back to tell me that I had lots of bacteria in the urine so I had a UTI, not unusual for women my age but no less painful in the lower back.  He told me to cancel my dentist appointment since I was  contagious with shingles to someone operating on my mouth and he told me that I needed to go home and rest because my blood pressure was dangerously high.  He commented that he wasn't surprised at the high numbers since I was anticipating an extensive dental procedure and had shingles as well as a UTI.  He gave me four prescription scripts and told me to go home, take another BP pill and get some rest.  To be honest, when he told me the high numbers of my blood pressure I was concerned, too, and, as my handsome clever husband used to say, I'm usually fearless.  
     I went to Walgreens, left the scripts and went home, sat down to rest when I remembered that the lawn needed mowing.  I called two friends who help me in the yard with trimming trees, etc, and asked them if they could mow my yard the next day so I wouldn't have to worry about that.  Joan said that she and Steve were working in my neighborhood and would be there in a few minutes if that was okay.  Yea!  She never fails me. 
     They arrived and did a cracker jack job on the lawn while I rested in my recliner and got the BP down a little by doing deep breathing exercises after taking another pill.  My efforts were rewarded and it's a good thing because hell was waiting at the door.  Joan and Steve completed their task, I paid them and they went on their way.  Finally, I thought, now I can have a stress free, relaxing time the rest of the day.
     Back to my recliner I went with two full glasses of water, following the package insert instructions on the new pills, an antiviral one for shingles and an antibiotic for the UTI.  I picked up the newspaper to read, knowing that I would go to sleep and get some rest, having awakened at 3:00 a.m.
     The phone rang.  I started to ignore it, but am I glad I didn't  It was Steve, the yard helper, and he screamed into the telephone, "Tommye, close your garage door and head for the basement.  Ninety mile an hour winds are headed our way. They are five minutes away."  That storm was not predicted at all, just came up out of the blue.
     Oh, Lordie, I thought, this is surely a day from hell for me.  I wanted to sit down and have a good cry, which is a great stress reliever, but I didn't have time.  I grabbed a plastic bag of frozen peas out of the freezer, strapped them to the shingles which were hurting, found a sash quickly and tied the package to my belly.  I grabbed a bottle of water, two automatic light bulbs I have for such occasions, a battery operated radio, my cell phone and ran down the stairs to the basement, grabbing from the garage on the way my hubby's bike helmet.  The tornado warnings all say to put a helmet on your head in case the upstairs falls into the downstairs or basement and conks you on the head, killing you.  Putting the bike helmet on my head and getting settled in the basement, I started laughing hysterically.  I had visions of myself if the upstairs did fall in on me, with lying here dead and being found with a plastic bag of mushy peas tied around my waist and a bicycle helmet on my head.  I laughed until I cried.
    Then I remembered reading years ago about the woman whose washer was in her basement and she carried a load of clothes down there to wash.  She decided to take off her workout clothes and add them to her load of washing so she striped and added the clothes to the washer.  She spotted her son's football helmet and knew he would need it that afternoon, so she put the helmet on her head since she was carrying the clothes basket back upstairs filled with already folded clothes.  Suddenly the basement door opened and the meter reader walked in.  There she stood, nude with a football helmet on her head.  They stared at each other for a minute and then the meter reader said, "Lady, I don't know what team you play for, but I'll root for your team any day."
     Remembering that story kept me laughing while the tornado sirens blared outside for a long time.  I was still laughing 30 minutes later, still thinking about being found with the bag of mushy peas tied around my belly and the bicycle helmet on my head, as well as thoughts about the football team.  I could feel all stress leave my body from the literal day from hell.  I'm sure it does not sound like not your favorite kind of day, either.
    After the all clear whistle, I went upstairs and deciding to sit in my recliner after looking out of windows and seeing that the wind was still blowing but nothing like the way it was when I was in the basement.  While down there I could hear things hitting my house with a bang.  I saw no visible signs of any big trees blown down so I just decided to enjoy the low blood pressure, the pain free belly as long as I had something cold strapped to my belly, no pain in my lower back from the UTI as long as I sat on the full body vibrator I had put on my recliner.  It was so peaceful. 
    As I sat there I remembered that God said to count it all joy when tribulation comes your way.  Ah, such was the necessary laughter that I experienced.  Then I remembered that God's Instruction Book insinuates one tribulation at a time, not five in one morning, and all of them from hell, definitely not from heaven.  I found out that the joy that came from laughing so hysterically lowered my BP so much that I was tranquil after the storm instead of fearful. 
     God said that if we are joyful during tribulation that it will produce patience in us.  I can see that, because after that day from hell and then laughing at the circumstances worked good things for me.  I will remember to be joyful the next time tribulation comes my way from hell, just hope it is one at a time, not five in the same morning. 
     With the power still out that night, I knew that I had to write this story to encourage other people that what God says to do will work every time.  I wrote this story by hand, no computer with the power out, and I felt like Abraham Lincoln who studied as a child by candle light.  I had a battery powered light bulb that gave me enough light by which to write. 
     Remembering also that Jesus said that in the world we will have tribulation, but He said that we should rejoice during our tribulations because he overcame all the evil in the world which confronted Him, yes, even to crucifixion and death.  That is a promise. I experienced overcoming multiple tribulations that day, not to the extent Jesus did in his life, but knowing that the incidents were sent to defeat me, the gift of joy caused laughter and the laughter defeated all of the bad incidents.
    As I perused my property, there were only small twigs and leaves covering the yard, no problem to clean up.  My huge heavy umbrella by the outdoor tables and chairs was blown out of its heavy iron holder and deposited by the wind only a few inches from the pool.  I would have loved to have seen that huge angel protecting it from ending up in the pool.  Even though I was lacking power until the next day, there was very little inconvenience.  If there was, I didn't notice it because I was tranquil and peaceful, still enjoying periods of laughter at the thought of being found in the basement decked out in the package of mushy peas tied to my waist with the bike helmet on my head. I believe God gave me that vision to cause me to start laughing hysterically, having joy in the midst of several tribulations of that day.
    Oh, yes, there is one other thing that turned out great.  With the power out, the fridge was silent.  Inside the freezer were four Braum's chocolate/caramel ice cream bars rapidly melting.  Somebody had to eat them before they melted.  The good news is that I gave myself permission to indulge after not only surviving the literal day from hell but learning some things about joy and laughter.  The ice cream bars made a great evening meal.  That indulgence topped off the day, and I ate the slightly melted, messy ice cream bars with no guilt at all, just delighted that I could.  Actually the circumstances demanded that I reward myself.  God had rewarded me with joy and laughter.  I like his reward equally as well, if not better.
    The package of peas lost their medicinal effect of helping the pain as they had gotten hot from the feverish blisters.  I had seen a plastic bag of old dried up spaghetti in the freezer.  Before it defrosted I applied it to the shingles blisters.  They weren't particular as long as it's cold.
     My electric power came on the next day.  "All is well," is one of my favorite sayings.  Someone wrote a song that said that,  'It is well with my soul."
     It is well for my soul, for sure.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

MISMATCHED, SMISHSMASHED AND HAPPY
                                                             by T. Wieland Allen
    Okay, I admit, it's time for cataract surgery for Me.  Doc said I would need the surgery this summer and I thought, what does that young whipper snapper know?   My hubby and I were his youth sponsors at a church when he was a preteen and a teenager.  Then I remembered he said that he is going to retire in a year.  Maybe he does know what he's talking about.  Figure it out, age-wise that puts me "up there" in years but not too up-there to stop mowing my huge lawn with a walk-behind mower, edge the lawn, trim my long hedges, take care of a large pool and big house, still hold down a 3/4 time job -- not a part time one but a 3/4 time one -- and I write three blogs, teach a Bible class every week, co-chair a neighborhood association and occasionally I will -- I'll be honest -- I tell people how to live their lives.  I haven't been hit, run over, chased, cussed out or assaulted for any of my advice yet.  So I live a full and exciting life.
   You ask what was the shocking occurrence that caused me to agree to have cataract surgery soon?  All of my friends have had their surroundings brightened by having that surgery at least ten years or more in the past so I'm a Johnny- come-lately in that area.  It took an incident that would be embarrassing for a much younger person but was hilarious to Me and shook my jolly tree, because I usually get the best laughs every day by laughing at myself.
   The crowning revelation that I might benefit from having the lenses in my eyes replaced with inter occular lenses so that I might see better came after I had run a few errands in the morning, had done some cooking, had taken a meal to a neighbor who is recuperating from hip replacement surgery, and then I had mowed the front lawn.  I decided it was time to ready myself for bed and I sat down in a chair to remove my sport shoes, which used to be called tennis shoes but nowadays they are called sport shoes.  You know what I mean, the sport shoes that are the everyday attire of most people my age, those seniors who are ten and more years older than you and those who might be at least ten and more years younger than you. 
    After untying and removing the shoe off of my right foot, a leather New Balance sport shoe, I untied the left shoe and immediately said, "Well,  Mr. Reebock, where did you come from?"  Yes, I had on two different sport shoes, the leather New Balance one and the mesh fabric Reebock on the other foot.  I had been walking around in them all day.  At least they were both white, albeit they were made of different fabrics and were different styles. No wonder an old hip injury from a car wreck had started hurting again that day, the sole on the New Balance was a good inch thicker than the Reebock.  Yep, I laughed and laughed at myself after addressing the Reebock shoe with such honor by calling him Mr. Reebock.
    Reviewing my day and dreading to even consider that someone I knew had seen me, I remembered that I had gone to several dollar stores for some colored napkins and party supplies.  Whew, I was safe there.  The patrons at those stores are glad everybody walking those aisles has shoes on their feet.  One time I was shopping at a dollar store and a lady was there shopping with a shoe on one foot and a sock on the other foot.  She could have been kin to Diddle Diddle Dumplin' who went to bed with one shoe on and one shoe off, I didn't know.  If Ms. Dumplin' had seen me with two entirely different shoes on my feet, she would not have even noticed the mismatched attire.   She would have thought I was going to a ball because both of my feet were clad with shoes, mismatched ones but both feet were covered, anyway.  The sign on the door said no shirt, no shoes, no service.  It didn't say a word about the shoes needing to match. I was safe all the way around.
    I have heard that getting older is not for sissies.  Personally, I love my life more and more as the years pass because all inhibitions can go to you- know-where, all sophistication can be exchanged for humiliation without a tear or regret, and I can wear purple, shocking pink and lime green together and at the same time, as well as unintentionally wearing unmatched shoes. 
    The scary part is that I always think I look smashing, classy and youthful.  Well, maybe not youthful because young people nowadays only wear jeans and black shirts all the time.  At least I add some color to the world.
    I am looking forward to the cataract surgery.  Everyone tells me that colors will be brighter and sight will be better.  I'm just eager to see good enough that I don't put on mismatched "old lady shoes."  
    With new eyes I guess I'll have to get a different ideosyncrasy.  I'm sure there are some unused ones around.  Life wouldn't be much fun if I couldn't laugh at myself.  I entertain myself royally every day.  Try it.  You'll have a smile on your face all the time and people will think you are a simpleton.  Actually you will just be laughing at your mature intelligence of thinking you are really clever and funny; plus, you don't give a darn what other people think, which is the biggest perk of getting older.
   A clever lady made a fortune off of a book called, "When I Am Old I Will Wear Purple."  Well, I one-up her -- I wear purple, lime green and shocking pink all together, and at the same time.  If you see a lady wearing outlandish colors, it might be me.  Check her shoes and see if they match.  If they don't, it might actually be me.  I will be happy in my own little world of color and eccentricity.  My motto is this:  When I am old I will just be me.  That's my gift to the world and my reward to myself, to be me and be worry free.
    Come to think of it, I have a relative, a Brother, who told people to love their enemies and do good to them.  He told us not to return evil when evil is done to you but to return good for evil  Now, that was revolutionary in a world in which striking back at someone who injured you was par for the course.  You were considered to be a sissy if you didn't defend yourself; but His practices were completely opposed to the accepted behavior at the time.  He told people to bless people who cursed them instead of returning curses to them.  Wow, talk about  eccentric.  It's still considered revolutionary behavior.  That would get you killed. 
    Oh, yeah, it did.  It got Him killed.  But He fooled His enemies, He didn't fight back, He died and He rose from the dead.  That put His enemies in an abnormal place, which was to be completely in awe. So I come by My eccentric actions honestly.  It's a family trait that I share with my Brother Jesus.  He even hung around with his friend John who ate locust and wore animal skins instead of clothing, and John told people to listen to his friend Jesus and do what he taught. I've heard of nonconformists but that guy was ridiculous.  Of course, he lost his head as a result.  I mean literally lost his head. 
     I'll never be beheaded for being myself and I'll never be killed for wearing the colors I choose or wearing mismatched shoes.  I might be ridiculed but I'll just tell people that I am eccentric like my Brother and his friends.  That will really confuse them. 
     I have found that when I do bless people who curse me, when I do good to the people who do mean things to me, when I refuse to fight with people who are different and hold differing beliefs than I do, I become very happy because I don't have any enemies anymore. 
    I wish I could get that message to politicians today.  I bless them every day, pray for them and hope their judgmental, toxic words don't come back upon them and curse them, as my Brother warned. Unfortunately for them, they always do.  I choose not to listen to poisonous rhetoric because it poisons me.  My mind is too precious to allow it to be contaminated.  
     Practicing My Brother's eccentricity of being kind and loving to everyone has worked for me because, when you do, everybody plays on a level playing field in life and happiness is guaranteed. That's what my Big Brother says.
           

Thursday, January 22, 2015

 AGING EARS, YOUNG HEARTS
                                                         T. Wieland Allen
   My Bible study sisters and I have been meeting together for praying and studying the Bible for 35 years.  We feel like we have grown up together. We usually end up laughing for a long time as well as executing the primary purposes for meeting together.  Last Tuesday was no exception.
  At the meeting were Jane, 83 years old;
  Dorothy, 81 years old;
  Cathi, 65 years old;
  I am 79 years old. 
  Blanca is the baby of the group and she is 55 years old.
  Marcia was not in attendance but she is 79 years old. 
  Esthela has been meeting with us lately and she is 30 years old.  Esthela occasionally brings her four month old baby with her.  He is a dream child, a wonderful baby.
   Every week that we meet, before we begin praying together, we voice our prayer requests and then we pray in agreement for every need that has been mentioned.
   I had mentioned that Jan from Oklahoma City, who is 65 and also a member of the group, had asked us to pray for her daughter who has a chronic bladder or kidney infection every three months or so.  I also mentioned we need to pray for my niece Joy who has chronic bladder infections and is recovering from one currently. 
   Blanca, who is from Mexico and has a very strong Spanish accent said, "Tell them to make a tea out of the hair of an ear of corn and drink it. It will cure them." 
   I don't know if it was because of the four month old baby who was there with us or not, but I heard her say, "Tell them to make a tea out of the hair of an umbilical cord and it will cure them."
   Dorothy heard her say, "Tell them to make a tea out of the hair of a gourd and it will cure them."
   Puzzled, I asked, "Where do they get the hair off of an umbilical cord?"
   Dorothy said, "Yeah, where do they get the hair off of a gourd?"
   Jane says emphatically, "You can buy it at any store."
   I said, "You mean you can get the hair off of an umbilical cord at any store?"
   Cathi, who is very astute and wondering if she needs to find a younger group of friends, said, "Yes, seasonably you can buy corn with the hair still on it at any grocery store."
   Dorothy said, "I've never been in any store that has a gourd with hair on it."
   Esthela said, "You can even freeze it and keep it." 
   I asked, "Esthela, did you save the hair off of your baby's umbilical cord and freeze it?"
   Blanca and Esthela were both emphatic by this time about being able to buy corn with the hair still on it which must be dried and then boiled in water and drunk until the infection is gone.
   I was still muttering, "I can't believe you can buy the hair off of an umbilical cord in any store.  Surely you have to go to someplace like Whole Foods."
   By that time Jane and Cathi were thinking Dorothy and I had developed dementia since the minute we started giving our prayer requests because we didn't know where to buy corn with the hair still on it.  Looking at Dorothy and me they both emphatically said, "Of course you can buy corn that still has the hair on the ear at any store," which was echoed even more emphatically by both Esthela and Blanca.
   Dorothy said, "Well, I've never seen the hair off of a gourd anyplace."
   The young ears of Blanca finally figured out that we hadn't understood her heavy accent and said loudly, enunciating distinctly this time, "C-O-R-N.  C-O-R-N.  We said the hair off of an ear of
C-O-R-N."
   Oh, corn, Dorothy and I finally understood that they were saying the hair off of an ear of corn.
   Jane was still saying, "You know, that brown hair that is sticking out of the end of an ear of corn.  They are saying that you can use it to brew a tea." 
   By this time I am glad I finally heard the right word, that being corn, or I would have been really grossed out thinking that there would be brown hair growing out of the end of an umbilical cord.  Dorothy was still trying to visualize hair growing out of the end of a gourd, but she caught on when all four, Esthela, Blanca, Jane and Cathi, said in unison, "C-O-R-N, the hair on an ear of C-O-R-N."  
  "Oh, corn," I said. 
  "Oh, corn, Dorothy said.
  If they had said the silk off of an ear of corn, I might have understood.  Nah, probably not.  I would have been visualizing a piece of silk hanging off of the end of an umbilical cord. 
  We have prayed for some weird things and now I'm wondering if, in the past, we've prayed for the right things or not. Oh, well, God knows our hearts and He can figure out what we mean.
  What are we going to be like when we're 90?     
  Get ready for some real miracles.  We have great faith and have had some miraculous results from our prayers.
  God loves our Prayer Posse so much, he grants our prayers whether we know that we're praying for or not.  He discerns the intents of our hearts.  That's something to be grateful about, for sure.
 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

EDAN AND MEME'S EXCITING CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE

“There are so many nice people in San Francisco,” is a direct quote from my granddaughter Edan when she was only four years old. While playing at a park that was close to her house she had struck up a long conversation with the young mother of a six month old baby, telling the mom that she really needed to let the baby go to day care because Edan, herself, had had so many happy experiences at Miss Carol’s Day Care. Later, on our way back to her house, she voiced the declaration to me about there being so many nice people in her birth city. I agreed with her completely. On the uphill walk back to her house, that four year old urban child of the City, said, “Meme, let’s talk British all the way back to my house.” Having had no practice in talking British, I did the best I could. I occasionally commented “bloody good”, the only phrase I could think of, as Edan conversed like British royalty. Now that Edan is eight years old she is riding a bicycle like she was born on it. It took a while for her to master it, but she “owns” it now, as they say. However, there are limited places in her neighborhood where she can ride her red Schwinn with ease because of the steep hills. We must descend long hills to get to the park which is several blocks away. After you descend, of course later have to ascend them in order to get home. The day after Christmas, we decided to go to the park for some fresh air, having not left the house for two days. Baking sweet rolls took up most of Christmas Eve day and opening presents took up most of Christmas Day. We left for the park with Edan pushing her Schwinn bike down the steep hills with MeMe relatively close behind her. I was having to walk at a fast pace to keep up with her young, adrenalin driven legs, which it seems to me haven’t been completely still for several years. We stayed at the park for a long time with her riding her bike in the park and also on one unoccupied tennis court after asking permission from a young couple who were volleying the ball back and forth on the other court. She didn’t want to disturb their game, but they were amenable to having her ride in circles and figures 8 on the vacant tennis court. She rode the bike with a look in her eyes of being free as a bird. As the sun began to set in the winter sky, it became apparent that we needed to start walking the bike up the long, steep hills back to her house. Edan looked at the heavy bike and said, “MeMe, there’s a back way that is shorter. Let’s go that way to my house.” This was news to me, having been at that park with her many times. She pointed to the “short way home” that was up a steep hill which looked like a mountain to me. There was evidence of a seldom traveled trail up the steep hill which started with five steps made from railroad ties. I told her that I was up for an adventure if she was sure it was a shortcut. Edan struggled to lift her bike up the first step but made it. That bike was an unusually heavy one. She again was able to lift it up the next wide step. I helped her lift it up the succeeding three steps and then we walked up an incline on a rugged trail that was only about two feet wide. I suddenly realized that we were going up a very, very steep hill. It looked like a mountain to me, the one on which I had seen young adults rappelling down a sheer cliff next to the park many times. I began to figure out that this was the same steep hill that lent itself to rappelling. My assumption was that we were going to cross the hill rather than climb it to the top. By this time I was doubting whether Edan’s assessment of this being a shortcut home was accurate, but I continued to assure her that I love adventures. We took turns pushing the bike up the primitive trail, welcoming more railroad tie steps when they came. By now it took both of us to lift the bike up the wide and tall steps, with Edan in the front and me in the back of the bike. The areas without steps were becoming more rugged as we ventured upward. Darkness began to fall quickly, as it always does in winter. It was obvious that we were climbing higher and higher up rather than across, and the top of the hill was nowhere in sight. There were no other “adventurers” in sight, either. If there were, it would have been difficult to see them because of the thickness of the trees and bushes. We were still on a narrow, rugged trail so it was obvious that it led somewhere. Edan knew where it led and she encouraged me over and over with assurances that we were almost to the top of the steep hill. By then I had complete ownership of the bicycle since we were still ascending slowly and my eight year old companion was eager to get to the top. Each step I took was a struggle since I was lifting and pushing the bike uphill. Suddenly Edan said inquisitively but with genuine concern in her voice, “MeMe, do you always breathe so hard when you are on an adventure?” I listened to myself breathe and realized that I was not huffing and puffing, I was merely huff, huff, huff and then huffing. I deduced that I was having trouble breathing because of the height, the lifting of the bicycle, but also the fact that I had a lung operation 25 years ago and the upper quadrant of my lung was removed. No wonder my labored breathing was beginning to alarm my precious granddaughter, as I sensed the concern in her voice. At that point I had the fleeting thought that we should leave the bicycle there in the denseness of the terrain, ascend the rest of the trail and if someone stole the bike, I would buy her a new, lighter one later. While entertaining that thought, I spotted a huge boulder ahead of us upon which we could sit and rest until I regained control of my breathing. I started to yell at Edan who had run ahead of me to see how far it was to the top of the hill, but I couldn’t get enough air to yell very loudly. I could see her ascending the hill like a young doe eager to reach the top. I stopped pushing the bike, stood there in the darkness, examined the trail to make sure I wasn’t on the edge of the tall hill and liable to slide down with red bike in hand, when I heard some sounds behind me. I turned my head toward the sounds and saw three young men hiking toward me. With what breath I could muster, I asked them to carry the bike the rest of the way and to accompany Edan and me up the hill. They were delighted to help us. If I could have kissed them I would have, but I was using my wide open mouth to breathe in what air I could. All I could do was huff, huff, huff, huff. A few minutes later the crest of the hill appeared, just like Edan had promised me that it would. We both thanked the boys profusely. I sounded like a locomotive as I sucked in air, but was able to get a few thank you words out of my mouth aimed at them. I told them to expect something wonderful to happen to them because of their good deed. Edan rode her bicycle on the sidewalk a very short distance down the hill to her house with me joyfully but laboriously speed-walking behind her. After all, I needed to restore my image to her of being a cool grandma who was still breathing. She burst in the door to her house and yelled, “Mom, MeMe and I almost died,” with emphasis on the word “died”. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how frightened she must have been. Of course she was. I was breathing loudly like the Little Engine That Could up that ominous hill which must have sounded to her like I was going to expire at any moment. I told my eight year old climbing companion that the three boys who rescued us were angels because they appeared out of nowhere and helped us. She grabbed onto that assessment easily and agreed that they were angels. We found out a few minutes later that Edan’s dad had gone with a flashlight to find us because of the darkness of the cold winter night. Fortunately he came upon some people who told him that they saw a woman and a child carrying a bike up the steep hill. I’m surprised they didn’t say a “stupid” woman carrying a bike up the steep hill. They might actually have said that but I was spared the actual truth. We have laughed and laughed about it. We call it our Christmas of 2014 Adventure. I’ll never forget it and I know Edan will not. Before bedtime, she had already told the story two times to relatives on Face Time. She was a brave little girl who will in the future only take the shortcut home when she is with her mom and dad, sans the heavy bicycle. I will remember that I do get winded when I climb four or five flights of stairs speedily because of the lack of having two full sets of lungs and that I also get winded when I climb up steep hills or mountains, especially carrying a bicycle which is meant to be ridden, not carried. I often think I am a 79 year old woman living in a 30 year old body. That new adventure cut me down to size a little bit, even through it was a true joy experiencing it with my precious and loving granddaughter. We will both remember it for years. The angels appearing as young men came just at the right time. We must remember to always entertain strangers because they might be angels of which we are unaware. The three of them helped Edan and me at the end of our adventure, lightening the load of the bicycle and accompanying us to the top of the steep hill. To quote a wise little girl, there are so many nice people in San Francisco. The adventure turned out to be enjoyable, even though I doubted at the time that the trail was a shortcut home. It really was. After we left the rugged trail we descended the hill only a short distance from their front gate. Yes, Edan, I must remember that I do breathe hard when I am on certain great adventures and I will make provisions for that. There are limitations to having had part of a lung extracted. That is hard for me to admit. I know what the readers are thinking; and, no, I didn’t have my cell phone with me. It wouldn’t have been such an exciting adventure if we had been able to call ahead for assistance. Next adventure, I will. I promise. Besides that, Edan had everything under control. She usually does. She didn’t have a problem on the adventure. It was her air sucking grandmother who had the problem. I don’t ever want to stop having great adventures with my grandchildren. Not ever. I’m ready for the next one!

Monday, December 15, 2014

POSTAL ENTERTAINMENT

People don’t expect entertainment when shopping, mailing or checking the post office box. I’ve learned to expect a chuckle or two from my post office visits. My first really enjoyable visit to the main local post office was in the summer when I went to mail my youngest sister’s birthday present. I had wrapped it in bubble wrap, put it in a small box, then put it in a larger box which was marked Priority Mail, one having a set price to guarantee fast service. Good planning on my part, I thought. It was early morning on a Saturday in the summer when I drove to the US Post Office in our Midwestern town, parked my car in an available space and walked in to get in the line of about five people who were waiting to be beckoned to approach whichever window became free of other mail patrons that day. As I waited in line, I recognized the face of one of the officials manning the windows, an older man -- I say older but he was probably fifteen years my junior. It would be more accurate to say he was older than the other mail officials manning the windows. I heard the mail official tell the patron whom he was helping that he wasn’t supposed to be working that day but was called in to replace someone else who was probably fishing rather than working that day. He was not a really happy camper at being a substitute but he was handling it with humor, which infused an air of joviality into the hot summer day. When I approached his window, he said, “Well, young lady, what can the US Postal Service do for you today?” I replied that I wanted to mail the box to my sister for her birthday and had placed it in the Priority Mailing box which cost $14.95. He immediately became my adviser of good financial judgment. He told me that there were boxes adjacent to the counter in which I would find similar boxes which were not for priority mailing and one would, in fact, only cost me $4.95 to mail and the box would arrive two days later than the Priority Mail one I appreciated his help but I was concerned about the people behind me. I voiced my concern, telling him that I didn’t want to interfere with the flow of traffic in the line of patrons waiting to mail their packages. He immediately said in a loud voice, “Do any of you nice people object if I save this young lady ten bucks this morning? “ What could they say, they were at his mercy so they all said, “Of course not,” “Go ahead” and voiced other affirming phrases. Having their permission I took a couple of steps and obtained the box I was advised to bring back to the counter. I expected to be instructed to repack my gift in the approved box, but to my surprise the kind man ripped open my box, took the smaller box containing the gift out, emptied the packaging peanuts into the new box, and proceeded to repack the gift, all the time assuring the waiting patrons that he would be ready to help them in a few minutes after he saved me ten dollars. When he closed the box, before applying the wide shipping tape to my new inexpensive box, he said to me, ”What’s your sister like? Is she a good sister?” I replied that she’s younger than me and I felt like I had raised her, and we are very close. He added, “But is she a nice sister or is she bossy like my sister?” That hit a nerve since I had on occasion accused my sister of being a little bossy but most of the time she is kind and loving. I informed him of that truth. He said, “Well, my sister is so bossy she made my life miserable when we were growing up, so I’m going to finish preparing this box for mailing like I would a box for my bossy sister.” He proceeded to wrap the wide tape around, around, around and around. By this time he had all the waiting patrons laughing with glee. When he finished, he held the mummified box up in the air and everyone cheered. To which he said, “That ought to take her a while to get into that birthday present. She will love you for whatever is in there by the time she cuts through all that tape.” I was laughing out loud by this time, definitely not expecting to be entertained as well as being saved ten dollars at the Post Office. Now that Christmas is approaching, I usually mail my packages at the Postal Service satellite office at a drug store closer to my house. My last box to be mailed was not ready until Saturday morning, having had to work on the last gifts for grandsons the preceding night. Early the next morning I went to the downtown, main Postal Office to mail the box since the satellite one is not open on Saturdays. There were several people in front of me but the same comical official was working in addition to a young lady at another window. While waiting for my turn I was lucky enough to hear the comical official finishing up collecting the money and stamping the legal appearing box of a person. I heard him ask, “Is there anything else I can do for you today, sir?” The elderly patron said, “Can you estimate how long it will take for that box to get to its destination? The mail official answered, “I can’t tell you any estimate. It depends on what kind of monkey is driving the truck and how many times he stops to wet his whistle during the journey,” with a twinkle in his eye. He continued, “Sir, you should have been here yesterday. People were backed up out the door all day long. Nobody had an easy mail endeavor and we were overloaded all day. I could hardly walk when I left work because of never having a break in the unreasonable demands of the patrons.” Then he said, “And I rarely do this, but my good friend Jim Beam and I had a lonnnnggggggg conversation after I got home last night. I felt a lot better with his help until this morning when I realized I shouldn’t have had quite so long a conversation with Jim as I did. “ Of course the patiently waiting mail patrons and I laughed, which pleased the comical official immensely. When it came my turn, I had to go to the window of the young lady. I have to admit that I was disappointed to have such a dull time, only mailing a box instead of have my own personal comic who has a way to make the waits at the Postal Office endearing instead of taxing. After completing all the mailing tasks, the young female official gave me a long tape out of her machine and said that I might want to fill it out and rate the efficiency of the local Post Office. As I assured her that I would do it, I heard the comical, older official say, “All you people be sure and fill out the form. If you are pleased with the service, be sure and put my name down. If you’re not pleased with our service, put Bruce’s name down. There’s no Bruce here and that will confuse the heck out of the officials.” After I got home, I filled out the form. I gave the service of the Postal Service a C- because I mailed a Priority box the 15th of October loaded with Halloween decorations for my granddaughter. It arrived at her house three weeks after Halloween. That box went into storage for next year. Even though I gave them a C- for service, I wrote on the form that I gave them an A+ for entertainment since my experiences with my downtown Postal Office get my day started off in the mornings with laughs which affect my entire day. The twinkle in his eye tells it all, kind of like Santa Clause’s twinkle when he delights kids by telling them they will get everything they want for Christmas. He knows better than that, but it makes the kids happy. Whatever that comical official tells me makes me happy, whether the boxes arrive at the promised time or not. It’s all in the twinkle! Merry Christmas

Saturday, July 19, 2014

KARMA? NOW I BELIEVE

KARMA? NOW I BELIEVE T. Wieland Allen See, I’ve never had a problem believing that we reap what we sow, that what goes around comes around, and what you do to others they will do to you. But karma? Nah. Even though when I think about it, they are all the same thing. So if karma means that circumstances repeat themselves; then, yeah, I can attest to it as being real. Twelve years ago three of our grandsons from California were visiting us and the oldest of the visiting boys was getting ready to swing on a tire swing in the back yard. The tire swing was cleverly made to look like a horse. Grandpa had tied a heavy rope around it and tied the other end to a huge tree. We named the horse Prissy Sue. Prissy Sue was a thoroughbred, her craft festival papers proudly declared. Grandson Jarrett was going to mount the tire swing and have fun on the swing. As he put his hand into the mouth of the rubber horse to help him mount, he screamed “bloody murder,” as we used to say. There was a wasp’s nest in the mouth of the rubber horse and a wasp stung him on his hand. He wasn’t very old, so it was a real shock and the sting hurt the little guy badly. We immediately took him into the house and applied some of PawPaw’s Ointment to the area of the wasp sting. That was not a very good memory for Jarrett to have relating to his summers in Oklahoma. He was a trooper, though, about it. We were overly sympathetic about it since we were in charge of him and his brothers and felt like we had neglected our duties. I guess there was no karma necessary because we were compassionate toward Jarrett and his pain. Two years later our entire family was attending a family wedding in Sonoma, California. We were renting a big four bedroom house with three baths, a garage apartment, a giant kitchen, and a huge dining room which accommodated all ten of us. The living/den area, which the grandkids claimed as their own early on, had huge overstuffed chairs with ottomans which made into beds. All five of the grandkids had a ball playing in their own self adopted area. The house was an ideal place, very rural, with a large barn and many acres of land. The five grandkids explored the premises, loved being together, and enjoyed the rented house with its outbuildings. They became very adventuresome after they got over the fear that seven year old grandson Jesse instilled in them when he said he saw a bloody chainsaw in the old barn and he thought the chainsaw murderer was buried there. The youngest grandson, six year old Stephen, never ventured within 100 feet of the barn after that wild story. Their adventure on the second day that we were there was more memorable. Four of the five grandchildren came running into the house yelling and screaming that wasps were stinging Nathan, Sure enough, Nathan came busting into the door crying loudly, saying amid sobs that he had been stung many times. We treated him for eight wasp stings, gave him Benadryl and made him lay down and stay quiet for a while. After we quieted Nathan down, we asked the other four kids what had happened. They all talked at once and related an interesting story. It seems that the five of them were playing down by the pasture, standing behind the log fence bordering the pasture. We were told that there were some birds in the pasture close to the kids and Nathan bragged that he could hit one of the birds with a rock. The other kids included his cousin Jesse, his brothers Jarrett and Stephen, plus his cousin Lindsey, the only girl in the group. Of course they called him a liar and challenged him to try. According to all the kids, Nathan found a rock, threw the rock at a bird and, sure enough, downed the bird. According to them, all of a sudden out of nowhere a swam of wasps started toward them. The kids all took off running toward the house. What happened next was hard to believe, they said, but the grandchildren all agreed that it was true. They swore that the swarm of wasps flew right past the four of them and targeted Nathan as all five of them ran toward the house. Not one of the other kids was stung by the wasps, even though they were behind Nathan on the frantic run. The kids said that the wasps enveloped only Nathan and stung him. He was finally able to get away from them and run into the house with the other kids. The mystery was why the wasps targeted Nathan and only Nathan. He was the one who had thrown the rock and hit the bird. Maybe there is something about birds and wasps hanging together. Who knows? All five of the kids told the identical story. Fortunately, Nathan recovered from the eight wasp stings in time to enjoy the beautiful outdoor wedding the next day. I have told that story hundreds of times, even laughing along with other people at the image of poor Nathan running ahead of the other kids with the wasps chasing him and only him, even flying en mass past the other kids as if the wasps knew that Nathan had been the kid who had thrown the rock that knocked the bird to the ground. It was a funny image in our minds, kind of like a movie cartoon, and my telling the story has elicited many laughs from myself and other people at Nathan’s expense through the years. He didn’t seem to mind, seemed to kind of enjoy being the center of a funny story. So back to karma and my sudden belief in it. Ten years removed from Nathan’s experience with the wasps, the telling of the story came back to bite me, or maybe I should say “sting me.” I had been trimming my long hedge along the courtyard, enjoying every minute of it, looking forward to the end so I could stand back and admire the work I had done with my hedge trimmer and my new long pole chain saw which I use to cut the outer edge of the hedge that is too far for the hedge trimmer to reach. I was down to the last section of the hedge which is beneath a pergola which has Virginia creeper hanging from it, serving as a decorative vine. I love the Virginia creeper because it turns brilliant colors in the fall and the berries feed the birds in the fall and winter. In trimming the hedge I also have to trim the Virginia creeper so that it doesn’t hang all the way down but merely creeps along the top of the pergola structure. While trimming the last section of the Virginia creeper with the pole saw, getting ready to change equipment and trim the hedge, suddenly I felt a sharp sting in my upper arm. I grabbed my upper arm and a wasp flew off of my shirt. Suddenly there were two more wasps who came at me. One stung my other arm in two place. I started running to the house being chased by the wasps. Speaking of karma, while I was running to the house being chased by the wasps, I suddenly had the image in my mind of Nathan and his running ahead of the other kids while the wasps targeted him. It must have been terrifying for him. After reaching the house, running in and closing the door, I checked the places where I felt sharp pains and, sure enough, I had five wasp stings on my arms, two on one arm and three on the other arm. They hurt like crazy. I suddenly imagined how Nathan must have felt with eight stings on his little seven year old body. He was a tough kid to refrain from putting on more of a screaming scene than he did. Benadryl Topical Gel relieved my pain after a while and ice prevented the areas from swelling too much. PawPaw’s Salve finished the job, covering the bright red punctures with its greasy anticeptic properties. Karma? What goes around comes around? You reap what you sow? No doubt about it for me. The comments people make in jokingly saying, “It’s karma all over again,” fit this situation to a T. I had told Nathan’s story many times, laughing along with other people at the mental image of the wasps chasing him and bypassing the other grandchildren. Here I was ten years later being chased by wasps at my own house and also being stung. No doubt about it, it‘s karma. I took a long rest after making sure I wasn’t going into shock in case I was allergic to the wasp stings. Then I grabbed a can of wasp spray and took off for the courtyard where the chase had begun. I was loaded with arsenal and I was going to use it. Two wasps were flying around the before-mentioned area so I let loose long trails of the wasp spray, targeting the wasps. They were faster than the spray was, so they kept flying out of the area of the spray. My intent was to finish the job, only lacking one last section of the hedge, the one which obviously had the wasp nest somewhere in the Virginia creeper at the top of the pergola. I emptied the entire can of wasp and hornet spray on that small section of foliage. Just in case the wasps came back and wanted to play chase with me again and use me for their pin cushion, I put together a protective outfit. I donned my thickest down-filled ski jacket, figuring that if the wasps came back and wanted a better taste of me, even if they tried to sting me the jacket was so thick that their stingers wouldn’t make it down to my skin. I also put on a painter’s mask which covered my lower face. I found huge sunglasses of mine from the ’70s and wore them. I put on a small hat and then put a larger sun hat over that hat. There was no way those buggers were going to sting me again. I looked like one of the homeless people I see in cities wearing thick winter coats in the summertime. Maybe those coats are for protection from wasps and bees for the homeless people, too.

It worked for me. Don’t know if I looked so weird that the wasps were too busy laughing at my getup on a summer day to try to sting me or what, but I did make it through with finishing the job and cleaning up the clipped leaves without being stung again. Yes, it was karma all over again, as people jokingly say. I learned my lesson. Those wasps are persistent dudes. And, boy, are they fast. I must ask my grandson Nathan for forgiveness. He’s a precious young man and will forgive me willingly. I don’t want to run that race again with the wasps. Those dudes are fast. So karma is over. All is forgiven. Yes, even the wasps are forgiven. They were merely protecting their domicile. Buddha called it karma. Jesus said you reap what you sow. Maybe it is the same thing. I know one thing, those wasps are smart dudes. They knew who threw the rock and they knew who laughed about their chasing my grandson. They took their revenge out on both of us. Their brains must be bigger than the human brain. They learn faster and they never forget. I’m just glad loving grandsons always forgive easily, karma or no karma. Sometimes karma brings to mind good times with loved ones, so karma is not always bad. It cues us to write down the good times and the bad times, hoping we learn from the bad ones, and knowing that writing them down will help us treasure the good ones for years to come. Thanks to karma, or reaping what we sow, for bringing this loving occasion to mind, even though it came with stings of pain. They were worth it to bask in the heart warming memories of the unconditional love of grandchildren. Gramps was right, when people become grandparents they "turn just plumb goofy". We did. We became the goofiest of all. Maybe it was the over abundance of love that is shown to us. Whatever it is, I like being goofy. It's like being a kid again and you get to laugh all the time. Thanks, God, for the memories.