Friday, August 11, 2017

FAMILY BLESSINGS OR FAMILY CURSES

FAMILY BLESSINGS OR FAMILY CURSES
                                                                     T. Wieland Allen
   Do not tell anyone about this, please.  I won't swear you to secrecy, but please do not tell my kids about what I am about to tell you that I found in my house recently. 
   First let me tell you about My family.  I come from a family who laughs at everything.  It's a family tradition, most often resulting in being a blessing but a few times it's resulted in being a curse.  We laugh heartily at everything, people falling down stairs, mistakes made by pastors or choirs in churches, and most of all our own silly mistakes.  Instead of persecuting ourselves for obvious mishaps, we have the habit of laughing hilariously at ourselves.
   I remember my dad being on a trip with his 82 year old professor friend who had stumbled over his own feet and then tumbled down an entire flight of concrete stairs at a state library years ago.  My dad had marvelous restraint that time because he helped his elderly friend up, helped him to the car, drove him to their motel and helped the professor into his room.  Then my dad entered his own room with dignity, but upon entering to his safe space Daddy fell on the motel bed in hysterical laughter for 15 minutes.  It's just the way we are put together.  Life is laughable to us.
    I have been known to laugh at myself when nobody else is around to laugh with me or at me.  I am subject to make mistakes when cooking because I am a highly goal oriented person and I try to accomplish three or four things at the same time. Years ago I was baking a cake from scratch -- you know, with multiple fresh ingredients -- and I reached into the cabinet for the vanilla, always the last addition to baked goods, but instead of getting the vanilla I grabbed the Liquid Smoke bottle instead and measured a teaspoon of it, pouring it into the freshly combined sugar, butter, flour, cocoa and other ingredients mixture. Suddenly I got a strong hankering for barbecue pork sandwiches.  After letting the mixer do its job of combining the many ingredients, along with the liquid smoke, I realized that we were not having cake for dinner and laughed and laughed at my mistake.  That unbaked cake batter ended up in the trash and I dashed to the store for some of their commercial cookies with the proper seasoning. Our guests for dinner that night found my story as funny as I did and they forgave me for having store bought cookies instead of my special moist chocolate cake.
   In fact, just this week I reached in the fridge for a new bottle of vidalia onion and tomato salad dressing to put onto freshly cut home grown tomatoes for dinner but instead I grabbed a bottle of Head Country barbecue sauce.  My daughter caught me just in time to avert a disaster.  Ruining my son freshly picked home grown tomatoes by dousing them with barbecue sauce might not be a laughing matter to other people like it would have been to me. 
    My oldest sister was visiting us years ago when we lived in a two story house.  She kind of pranced with dignity when walking, much like our mother.  One day I was sitting in the living room just in time to see her turn from the first stair landing onto the second landing, missing the first stair, landing on her buttock and bouncing with dignity all the way down the ten carpeted stairs to the bottom.  I couldn't resist.  I laughed and laughed at her effort to be dignified, even in bouncing down each step on her rear end.  Fortunately, she was not injured but I'm not sure that she ever forgave me for laughing so loudly at her less than dignified descending down the stairs into the living room.    
    Now to the current situation which caused me to laugh and laugh at myself which I ask you not to publicize to anyone that I know.  Here's the scenario:  My daughter and granddaughter came to my house for a five day visit.  I cleaned and cleaned inside and outside of the house with meticulous efficiency, I thought.  I moved things and swept under and behind most of them, I thought.  I was really very proud of my clean house, I thought.  My oldest son, his girlfriend and his two grown children came for several meals and we always gather in the den which is in the middle of the house.  We moved a few chairs around to make sure everybody had a place to sit.  I did not see any surprises during those five days.  Thank God I didn't. 
    A few days later, after the family guests left for home, I was recuperating from a minor operation so I was sitting in my usual reclining chair in the aforementioned den with my arm elevated, per the doctor' instructions.  My cell phone was almost out of power, so I went behind my chair to plug it in.  Beside my chair my eyes landed on something that I had not seen while cleaning the room during the last week.  Huh, I thought, what in the world are those two pieces of white fabric?  They had not appeared into my range of sight while I was cleaning the room days earlier.  I bent down carefully to pick up one of the pieces of white fabric and realized that it was one of a pair socks which had been hidden from view for who knows how long.  It was so stiff it felt like it was petrified.  I picked up the other sock and it was equally as petrified, stiff as a board.  Upon quickly smelling the socks I realized that they were a pair of socks that I often remove from my feet after I mow the lawn and sit down in my recliner before I take a shower.  There was an aroma of what used to be called lady's "glowing", but those socks were not lady's perspiration.  They were petrified with just plain old SWEAT.  Take my word for it, both socks were stiff.  No telling how long they had been under the small side table which is loaded with books.  I always move the two reclining chairs and the table between them to sweep, but rarely do I move the side table because of its weight.  Yes, ma'am and yes, sir, the socks were practically petrified, they were so stiff.  They weren't necessarily dirty.  They were just two practically new white socks which stood straight up in the air when I held them up, petrified stiff with dried sweat.
   I sat down in my recliner and laughed for ten minutes at the thought of someone other than myself finding them when the house was full of people.  How embarrassing would that have been.  Oh, no, knowing My family we would have all had a big laugh at my expense.  My face would have been red, but I would have been laughing right along with them, just like I still laugh alone by myself today at the image of someone else locating the petrified socks which were stiffened by my sweat who knows how long ago after mowing the lawn.
   How long did it take to stiffen the socks?  As I said, only heaven knows.  They could have been there a month or only a week, but long enough for them to dry completely and cause them to stiffen.  I could bend them, but they didn't soften.  They stayed right where they were bent.  Now they are in the washing machine waiting for a full load so that they will be back to their normal clean, white, soft condition. 
   Being born into a family that laughs at everything is a wonderful family trait.  It keeps people in the family young and vibrant.  Both of my parents lived into their 90s, still laughing until the last breath.  I don't remember either one of them ever having a good laugh at finding two petrified socks in their house a few days after their kids and grandkids left.  If they ever did, I know they laughed about it.  I can guarantee you something equally as bizarre happened to them and they laughed.
   Maybe I should not use so much of my trusty orange scented house spray.  Maybe if I didn't spray so often I could follow the scent of sweaty socks and find them under the side table before guests come to visit. 
   Thank God nobody acted like they were offended by a stinky aroma during the five days they visited.  Oh, yeah, the socks were petrified and a person had to hold them close to the nose to notice the aroma of good old lawn mowing sweat.  Fortunately they were new socks, so that was a plus.
    I found out that good old fashioned sweat is a substitute for laundry starch.  There is a minus to it.  The aroma of the dried sweat keeps people away from you.  If that's your desire, to escape from people, try socks petrified by dried sweat.
    I trust you not to tell anyone in my family about my finding the petrified socks after they left to go home.  Now that I am in my 80s they watch for any signs of dementia.  They must never find out about the petrified socks.  I want it to be our little secret.  I will take it to the grave and I trust you to do the same.
    Hope you got a laugh.  After the laugh, shhhh ----- please don't tell anybody.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

HOW IN THE WORLD DID I GET HERE

                                    HOW IN THE WORLD DID I GET HERE?
                                                  T. Wieland Allen
    I honestly don't know how it happened but I got to this place so suddenly, it seemed.  It's almost like I was Rip Van Winkle and woke all of a sudden and I was at the most dreaded age for women, old age.  Now, mind you, I don't feel aged.  My face doesn't show it, my mind doesn't betray me, and my productivity doesn't mirror it.  But, unfortunately, the number of years that I've lived often say it.  LOUDLY!
    Honestly, I have refused to get old, preferring to say I am mildly and slowly aging.  In fact, when my oldest child became 59 the other day, it was a shock to my self image because I feel 30, have the energy level of a 30 year old and lie to myself, telling myself that my body can do the work of a 30 year old, which I most often  do, being very healthy.  Now, I'm not a health nut, just a person who takes good care of my body, soul and spirit, preserving all areas of my life wisely.  My parents lived until their middle 90s in great health, living a lot and laughing a lot because of good stock, my mom used to say.  I want to honor their memory by doing the same thing.
    On the event of my oldest child's 59th birthday it occurred to me that the next number is 60 and the idea of having a 60 year old child is almost terrifying.  It denies the fact that I still think that I'm only 30.  It might be a miracle that a 30 year old woman could have a 59 year old man child, but I believe in miracles so I'll claim that one. 
    On that fateful day of waking up with the realization that I am a real senior citizen, I chose to switch my mind back to lying to myself and telling the aging woman in me that I'm still young and vibrant.  Lying to oneself is easy because nobody else lives in your body to refute the lie.
     Then the Rip Van Winkle rude awakening happened.  I was getting ready for bed that night (a habit that everyone does automatically without deliberately being conscious of what we are doing ) and in the middle of my nightly change from clothes into pajamas, I suddenly had an awakening as if waking from a dream, and I suddenly realized that I was routinely wiggling into a pair of -------- Depends. 
      How did I get here, in need of Depends?  As they say, a girl's got to do what a girl's got to do.  As a matter of necessity, Depends are a blessing when a person's bladder decides to activate at strange times and as a surprise to the owner of the bladder.  With me, it happens only at night.  Thank God it doesn't happen in the daytime or I would really feel aged.  Maybe a person's bladder, as it ages, becomes self determined and just does its own job without the participation of the owner, which for me is at night.  It's not a big deal, just some mild leakage that has been a real surprise to me for a few months.  I ignored it for a while, thinking it would go away, but it became clear that there are supplies at the store or pharmacy that are made for just such times when a person's bladder become rebellious and has its own off and on switch, much to the chagrin of its owner.  I decided to some day in the future buy the supplies that are made for people who have a bladder that has developed a mind of its own.
   Being a real bargain seeker, I have a store that I frequent regularly.  Listen, it's a real bargain store.  When My dad was the age that I am right now, I took him shopping at that store and he bought a Hart, Shaffner and Marx three piece suit for $10 which fit him perfectly.  As he checked out and proudly paid his $10, he discovered that there was a bonus under the jacket, a beautiful white thick men's  belt.  Now, the belt had been out of style for years, but Daddy surmised that it would surely come back in style in a few years.  He died with the much treasured white belt still hanging in his closet, unworn.   But, still, he got the joy of finding a real bargain and feeling like he had cheated Mr. Hart, Mr. Shaffner, and Mr. Marx out of the $700 price listed on the tag.  
   For me at my current shopping spree at the same discount store, I noticed some big packages of Depends, even though I had not really decided to buy any yet because, if I did I thought, then I would turn into a wrinkled, derelict, stooped, babbling old lady who had lost control of all bodily functions.  Maybe I thought that buying Depends would be a signal to my body of, okay, it's time to stop functioning  properly now.
    But, the price was right at the bargain store, only a couple of bucks, so I placed the package of Depends under the other purchases in my basket so as not to reveal my need for them.  I planned quickly in my mind that if the checker commented on them that I would tell her that they were for my mother.  She wouldn't know that my mother had gone to heaven a long ago.  I didn't have to lie since the checker wasn't the least bit interested in my purchases and was less interested in my bladder.    
     After paying and on the way out to the car, I shifted things around in the sack and put that tell-tell package of Depends on the bottom of the sack and put the other purchases on top in case someone was at my house and would know my deepest secret, that I had to use Depends at night when my rebellious bladder refused to wait on me to turn it on and off myself. 
    That evening while dressing for bed, I opened the package and found that I had bought Depends of the wrong size and for the wrong gender.  In my effort to hide my purchase so as not to reveal my advancing age and slight problematic bladder problems, I had bought a package of Depends for men in an extra large size, extra thick and super absorbent.  Well, you can guess what my thoughts were.  No way I was going to march back into that store and exchange them for a smaller size.  No way in hell, I thought.  Not ever would I put myself through that again. 
    My next thought was that I would go ahead and try out the men's extra large, extra thick and super absorbent Depends that night and see it if would work.  In getting ready for bed I pulled one on and it didn't slip down off of my hips, so I knew maybe I could keep it on since I would be lying down and not going dancing in the Depends.  Heaven forbid. 
    The only thing about the men's extra large, extra thick and super absorbent size of Depends was that the super thick absorbent material was so thick that it hung down between my legs about two or three inches.  As I walked around the room seeing if it would stay on my body, I started to think that that thick material hanging down between my legs must be what a man feels like walking around with one of his organs hanging down between his legs, which was very, very uncomfortable.  I remembered what Yoko Ono said one time.  She said that men are so constantly angry because of having something hanging down between their legs all the time.  She said that it must be very burdensome because they are always adjusting and shifting it.  I fully understood as I walked around my bedroom trying to get used to the extra large, super thick and super absorbent Depends on my body. 
     Well, I didn't need that size, did not need that thickness and certainly did not need that extra absorbency for a mild occasional leak, but a bargain is not a bargain unless you use it so I was determined to use them until they were gone.  They served their purpose and kept me dry and allowed me to sleep soundly during the night.  I blessed the inventor of Depends after that first night.  My attitude toward them changed completely. 
     On my next trip to the pharmacy I will peek into the ladies feminine product section and see if they do make ladies medium size. thin, light absorbency Depends.  I'll have to buy some other products also so that I can cover them up in my basket so as not to identify to the world that I am not only a senior citizen but a leaky one at that.
      Nope, I will never change My thinking.  I still feel 30 during the daytime, but at night when I slip into the Depends my mind does a quick forward switch into reality and tells me that I am an octogenarian.  Maybe the time will come when I don't hide my Depend purchases and I will proudly display them on top of my other purchases instead of hiding them on the bottom.  I don't know why I feel like I am shop lifting or something when I buy Depends.  Nobody cares.  I need to stop caring.  Maybe writing this story will allow me to treat aging with grace instead of disdain.  Yeah, I like change so I'll do just that, change my thinking into thanking God for the dear person who invented Depends instead of being ashamed of needing them.  
   I must face the fact that I am dependent upon Depends.  It happens to all of us sometime if we live long enough.  It is a sign that we have lived long, wonderful lives.  I will celebrate my long life from now on instead of denying my age.  Other signs of aging are sure to come and I want to look at them as evidence of the great wisdom that we gain from years of living.  Yes, that's what I will do, rejoice in wisdom instead of being ashamed of the Depends. 
    I feel much more appreciative of aging now.  Thank you for helping me sort out the wisdom of aging by writing this experience.  I guarantee that you will think about my first experience of buying Depends when you are called upon to do the same thing.  
    Just be sure you buy the right size, though.  If you mistakenly buy the men's extra large, super thick and super absorbent ones, unless you you have a bad back and are use to sleeping with a pillow between your knees you are in for the shock of your life. Just remember Yoko Ono's great wisdom relating to bulky objects between your legs and get a good laugh.  Be sure you are wearing a Depend because, at our age, laughing and coughing often calls for changing our britches.
    Life is an adventure and it's gets more and more adventuresome as we age.                  
      
                        
       

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!