Well, today was kind of a let-down, because Mary and Jordan left this morning and it rained all day. I was up at 6:30 and went out in the rain to pick up a few things for breakfast and tomorrow. When I got home, I tried to get Jasper to help me put stuff away, only to find him lying in bed in tears. He had a massive “crick” in his neck and couldn’t move. He was not able to get up and say goodbye to Mary and Jordan, who had breakfast, loaded up their car, and left in the rain.

Then, when they were several hours down the road, they found out that the house guest they were expecting to arrive tonight had been in a car accident in Indiana. She was not hurt, but her car was totaled and she didn’t have transportation. So instead of going home to Nashville, Mary and Jordan drove all the way to southern Indiana, picked the girl up, and then headed to Nashville. That is a lot of driving for one day!

Meanwhile here we got housework done. I worked on autoharp stuff and did some schoolwork and wrote some words. The pressure is off on the writing because I have surpassed the 50,000 word goal for this month. Jasper gradually felt better and by late morning was up to going out to play with his friends.

I also made a run up to Target to buy lights for the tree. Every year I buy a couple of strings so we aren’t left short if one of the old strings bites the dust. I thought I was shopping “early,” but I ended up getting the very last two strands of lights that match the ones we already have.

The tree is up but there is nothing on it.

We are still eating Thanksgiving leftovers, by the way.

Thanksgiving Recap

I am writing this entry with the hope that I will be able to post it sometime. Our internet has been so sketchy that I gave up trying to blog the last couple of days. I called our internet provider again on Wednesday, and a technician helped me switch “channels,” which he believed would solve everything, but it didn’t.

Obviously, Wednesday was mostly taken up with preparing for Thanksgiving. I was so grateful to have Mary’s help. She came shopping with me in the morning and we checked out the new gluten-free store here in town. It had some surprising things in it and more variety than any other place in town.

Mary also made a gluten-free pumpkin cheesecake to take to our church social in the evening. Our church as a tradition of getting together for thanksgiving and a pie social the evening before Thanksgiving. Although I love the idea, it does make preparations for Thanksgiving so much more stressful, because in addition to having to make extra pie, I lose two or three hours of preparation time. It was good to spend some time with our church family, though.

One thing that made my day was that as we were leaving the church,  a girl who is visiting her family for Thanksgiving, and is a former student of mine, approached me. She was once one of my most enthusiastic Masterpiece Literary Society members. She proposed that I pick a book that she and I would both read between now and Christmas, and when she comes back for Christmas we will have our own little literary society meal to discuss the book. O happy day! I need to get busy picking a book now . . . .

Mary and Mercy teamed up to make two pies when we got back from church on Wednesday,  and I worked on assembling our breakfast casserole (also gluten free, of course). Thursday morning I was up before everyone else, getting the casserole in the oven. Now that our kids are older and have their own agendas, we rarely have a family breakfast anymore, so it was especially nice to have everyone there around the table, having our traditional breakfast of casserole and oranges.

Then, of course, the cooking marathon began. Jasper helped me make the Swedish Hazelnut Apple Torte (since he had made it for Harvest Festival). I made Brazilian cheese bread for us gluten-free people since I had already made rolls for everyone else. Lucy helped with some things but Mary was my right-hand girl. I don’t know what I would have done without her, since I am still struggling with an upper respiratory infection.

We had made the decision to have our meal much later in the day than normal, so that we would have time to call Lina in the afternoon, but alas, her phone network was down and we were not able to get through.

Late in the afternoon we had our paper airplane races.

11-26-15 airplane throw

I did not have time to make an airplane this year, but I did take a break for a few minutes to go out and call the events and take some photos. This year Jasper won for distance, Walter won for airtime, and Mary won for style.

11-26-15 Airplane winners

We finally sat down to dinner shortly after a 5:00. I had to make some hard choices to keep my blood sugar from going into the stratosphere. It was a good meal! I’m thinking next year maybe I’ll just make the Brazilian cheese bread to go with the meal, since it’s naturally gluten free and it’s also delicious.

Jordan and Jasper teamed up to wash dishes after the meal, and then we assembled in the living room to watch a movie together, something else that rarely happens these days.

It was a tiring but good day, and I even got some words written in between cooking tasks.

11-26-15 Thanksgiving board


A Family Outing

For the last two nights I was prevented from posting by lack of internet access. I apologize to those of you who missed the hymn on Sunday.

Yesterday morning Lucy and I made another trip to Aldi’s to stock up on some things. We bought two fresh turkeys and they are currently being brined in a cooler since we don’t have fridge space for them.

Today was the one day we had time for an outing, so we decided to make an excursion to the nearby town of Jefferson, which is one of our favorite destinations. Jordan stayed behind for a while to help Spencer with math, and the rest of us went on ahead. We spent over an hour exploring the big red antiques barn that we always go to. I was looking specifically for blue and white teacups, and I didn’t find a single one!

Lucy found a cat, however.

11-24-15 Lucy with white cat

And Mary found a Lion King Christmas ornament, still in the original box, for only $3. That made her day. She was kind of obsessed with Lion King as a kid.

Jordan arrived in time to go to the park with us for lunch. It was a perfect fall day–cool but not cold, sunny, and just a little breezy. After we ate our picnic lunch, Jordan and Mary tried out the swings.

11-24-15 M&J on swings

The park was full of decorated Christmas trees in preparation for some community event. It was fun to look at them. Each tree was decorated by a different person or organization.


Then we went on to the general store, followed by the fudge store. The kids picked out four different kinds of fudge and we brought them home to share.

Our final stop was the Excelsior House Hotel, where we always go to enjoy their enclosed courtyard and nice clean bathrooms! I took more photos of Mary and Jordan:

11-24-15 M&J in courtyard

I tried to get a lot of pictures of them today, because they have not had very many photos taken of the two of them together this year at all.

It was a beautiful day. Jasper and I had a robotics meeting to go to early this evening, and by the time we got back, Janet was here. She’ll be spending the rest of the week  here since the university students have the time off for Thanksgiving break. Everyone enjoyed the fudge!

Parting Shot:

11-24-15 Group shot

Arrival Day

Today was my favorite kind of fall day. It started off cloudy, but by midmorning it was sunny, cool, and very, very windy. By the time I got home from Walmart, Mary and Jordan and Lucy were already on their way here, which made the day full of happy expectation too.

Unfortunately, I still wasn’t feeling well. I had to rest for a while before attempting some of the many things I needed to do. Believe it or not, I was alone in the house for hours today! Walter and the boys were working, Mercy was off playing rugby, and Lucy of course was on her way here. I did some housework and quite a bit of work in the kitchen, and worked on hymns for tomorrow, and laundry. I had no internet so I could not waste time on Facebook!

Mary and Jordan and Lucy arrived late in the afternoon and it was wonderful to see them all. We had chili for supper–perfect day for it. And then the internet came back on! I had called this morning, only to be told that they have been working on the lines, which is why we’ve had such big issues the last few days.

The bad thing is that in all the focus on getting ready for Mary and Jordan, I forgot that I needed to go get more insulin, so I didn’t have any when I needed it tonight. Guess where I’m going tomorrow before church?


Way Out of My Comfort Zone–Twice in One Day

I promise you I actually planned to post last night. The only problem was I had no internet connection for most of the day yesterday and most of the day today. In fact I have no idea when I’ll be able to post this.

Yesterday I had a review class for Geography, and it actually ended up being kind of fun–for me, anyway. I don’t know if my students thought so!

All day yesterday I felt a little under the weather, to the point that when my class ended, I decided to rest instead of taking Jasper to the beekeeping meeting as I had planned. I assumed I must have made some mistake in my diet and went to bed believing that I’d be good as new when I woke up.

This morning when my alarm went off at 5:55, I rolled out of bed, staggered into the kitchen to make tea, and realized that I actually felt worse, so after testing my blood sugar I just went back to bed and slept till after 8:00. My plans for the morning went out the window. It wasn’t till 11:00 that I felt I might be up to the shopping excursion I’d planned for 9:00.

I went back to Aldi’s, this time with a big list of things to get for Thanksgiving. The moment I walked in the door, my heart quailed within me. The place was mobbed with customers, and as I tried to make my way down the first aisle, I was continually jostled, pushed, and overtaken. This is what is known as “introvert hell.” This is why I normally shop early in the morning, even though I hate going out so early. I hate being part of a mob even more.

It was a miserable experience for me. The prices are great, and I know I saved a lot of money, but I was very close to having a meltdown by the time I was sacking my groceries in my reusable Aldi’s bags, which, it turns out, actually can hold more groceries than I can comfortably lift! It’s going to take me a while to recover from that experience. Maybe over time I’ll be able to figure out when the lowest traffic times are and schedule my shopping trips for those times.

This afternoon Jasper had a piano lesson, since we forgot all about it on Wednesday, and his sweet teacher was kind enough to offer to come over and give him a lesson today. We also worked on washing a lot of linens since Mary and Jordan (and Lucy!) are coming tomorrow. At least part of the floor of Jasper’s bedroom is now visible.

This evening, Spencer insisted that I get out of my comfort zone again, this time to get video footage of him and his friends playing at the university’s “accousticafé.” They have been practicing for several weeks for this performance. This was so uncomfortable for me, sitting in a room full of really, really loud college students listening to loud music. It didn’t help that I don’t really understand how my camera’s video function works. I hope I took the video I thought I was taking, but I’m not sure!

Spencer and his buddies did a good job, and I think the audience enjoyed it. My ears were ringing by the time they finished and I could escape. I guess I had this weird idea that maybe the audience would quiet down to listen to the music, but instead the atmosphere was just deafening all the time.

Tomorrow, an early morning excursion to WalMart, assuming I don’t wake up feeling as bad as I did this morning!

I have passed the 35,000 word mark, by the way. It’s easier to get lots of words in when you have no internet.



Stop Quitting!

One of the lovely things about living in a medium-sized southern town is that you get to know the people you do business with. Over time, you come to think of them as friends. I felt absolutely bereft when my two favorite postal clerks both retired, for instance. I had been going to them to mail letters and packages for over two decades. They knew all about my family and always asked about Lina and how she was doing in Africa. The new clerks are very nice, and I’m sure I will someday feel about them the way I did about the old ones, but I’m not there yet.


Today I had to run an errand to Hobby Lobby, and as I was leaving the store, my friend Regina was just going in, so we stopped to talk. Regina has been the manager at our local Hancock Fabrics for at least 20 years, and was an employee there before that. “I see they actually let you out of the store,” I said jovially. “Oh no,” she said. “I quit. Last week was my last week, and I’m retired now.”


What??? Regina was the primary reason I loved shopping at Hancock’s. I’m so fond of her I even forgave her for that one time many years ago when she asked when my baby was due and I wasn’t pregnant! She was so excited about Lina going to Africa. She has prayed for her and sent her things and every time I go to the store, we chat about Lina and my other kids. I am so glad I encountered her today, because I would have been so devastated to go to Hancock’s and simply find her gone. As it is, I’ve been in mourning ever since hearing the news.


I don’t know what I’ll do if the tellers at the credit union ever retire. A couple of them have been there for over thirty years!


Today I did actually have time to write and do a few other things like roast a turkey and get ready for my class tomorrow. I can’t believe Thanksgiving is next week!



Hell Hath No Fury . . .

Like a mother whose daughter has been mistreated by a perverted lowlife on a bus.

There will be another entry about today, maybe, but first I want to address what happened to Lucy today. Her Greyhound adventure went pretty well until she got to Memphis this morning. She had to switch buses in Memphis, so she made sure to be in the line early and get a good seat. Then they had to wait for another bus to arrive, and with it, an influx of new passengers. One of them was a young man who appeared to be of Asian Indian descent. He leered at Lucy as he walked past, then turned back after surveying the whole bus and sat down beside her.

She was sitting by the window, so she couldn’t just get up and move to another seat. Still, she had no way of knowing what she was about to endure. First, the guy immediately cuddled up to her, leaning against her. She didn’t know what to do. She thought maybe it was a cultural thing about not needing as much personal space, but she DOES need personal space, so she crammed herself harder and harder against the window, only to have the guy lean right along with her, maintaining contact with her body at all times.

All of her efforts to brush him off did not work. In addition to leaning on her for almost the entire five hours, he: stroked her thigh repeatedly and made it look accidental, put his head on her shoulder, stretched across her body multiple times to “take a photo” out the window, tried to get her picture, and put his arm around her when she leaned forward to try and get away from him (and refused to remove it). He also offered her cookies (which she was smart enough to refuse) and wanted to drink from her water bottle (no way). She was terrified. She thought he might be a human trafficker and that he might have a weapon, and she didn’t know what to do. By the time the bus arrived in Nashville, she was traumatized and just ran straight to Mary.

So, there are two things I want to say about this. I have been in similar situations when I was younger, and I know that sometimes it is hard to know if someone is really harassing you or not. So if you are a young woman, let me spell it out for you:

–If a man leans on you, it is not okay.

–If a man asks you personal questions, it is not okay and you don’t have to answer.

–If a man lavishly compliments your appearance, this is a big red flag and not okay.

–If a man touches you in any way that makes you uncomfortable, that is not okay.

–If a man tries to touch your face or hair, that is not okay.

–If a man puts his arm around you, that is not okay.

–If a man tries to take your picture or a “selfie” with you, without your permission, it is not okay.

–If a man plays “footsie” with you, even if he makes it look accidental, it is not okay.

–If a man stretches his arm across your chest, regardless of his purported reason, it is not okay.

–If a man puts his head on your shoulder or in your lap, that is really not okay.

–If a man tries to make you talk about your “boyfriend,” or about sex, or about anything that makes you uncomfortable, that is not okay.

–If a man who has displayed any of these behaviors offers you food or drink, it is not okay and you should absolutely refuse them.

Now, in each of the cases above, the “man” we are talking about is a stranger who might be your seatmate on a plane or train or bus. However, most of the above behaviors are equally not okay when displayed by an acquaintance with whom you do not have a close relationship. Just so we’re clear on that.

Secondly, let’s assume that someday you find yourself in a situation like Lucy did today, and you feel helpless to do anything about it. Let’s talk about things you can do.

–The most obvious thing is to scream for help. “Help! This man is harassing me! He won’t leave me alone!” I would like to think that fellow passengers would come to your aid. However, as an introvert myself, I know this advice is very unlikely to be followed by fellow introverts, because we hate to draw attention to ourselves. So here are some other ideas.

–Excuse yourself to go to the restroom, but instead see if you can find another empty seat, preferably next to another woman. Tell her, “That guy’s a creep and he won’t leave me alone. May I please sit with you?” You can get your backpack or whatever when the bus gets to the station.

–Excuse yourself to go to the restroom, but instead go straight to the driver and tell him what’s going on.

–Tell the man to stop. “Leave me alone. You’re bothering me. Get your hands off me!” Say it loudly enough that nearby passengers can hear. If he doesn’t stop, complain louder.

–Enlist the help of fellow passengers by pointing out what is going on. “Did you see what he just did? He won’t stop! He won’t leave me alone!” (Again, this one is hard if you’re an introvert.)

–If, at any point, the guy produces a weapon, I don’t care how introverted you are–you have to act instantly. Yell as loud as you can, “This guy has a knife! He’s going to hurt me! Somebody help me!”

–I honestly don’t know what would happen if you called 911 and explained the situation. I’d like to think they would send someone to at least question the guy when he gets off the bus! But of course, you’d have to answer questions too.

In short, if your parents aren’t there to defend you, you’ve got to take your safety into your own hands and put an end to the harassing behavior as quickly as possible. Also, if you see someone treating another girl/woman like this on a bus, come to her defense. “Do you know this man? Did you say he could do that? Would you rather sit somewhere else?” We’ve got to help each other out!



A Sneak Preview, A Recital, and a Departure

So, I guess another blog entry fell by the wayside. This month, if I only have time to write a thousand words before I pass out, it’s going to be on my NaNo novel, not on my blog.

Yesterday I’m pretty sure stuff happened. I know I did grading and class preparation. I got some words written. I made spaghetti sauce.

Today was a busier-than-usual day. It was the “sneak preview” of the new Aldi’s grocery store before the grand opening on Thursday, and Walter wanted to be there when the doors opened at 9:00. It was pouring rain when we got up, and it continued to pour when it was time for me to pick Walter up from work.

We drove up there in the pouring rain, and I had to keep wiping the inside of the windscreen with a tissue, because it kept fogging up despite running the defogger on high. My husband refused to let us get a cart, and I understand his thinking, because we were there primarily to scope the place out. Like in every other Aldi store, the chocolate is right by the entrance. Walter had brought money specifically to buy chocolate.

After loading up on chocolate, we walked slowly through the store, while I scanned prices and compared them to what I am used to paying at Walmart. Every price that I knew for sure was lower at Aldi’s. Then we rounded a corner and there was the gluten-free section, and they had gluten free French fried onions. I came as close as I’ve ever come to yelling “Hallelujah!” in a public place. I love green bean casserole, and I don’t mind making the mushroom soup from scratch, but making gluten-free French fried onions from scratch is extremely labor-intensive and time-consuming. So I’m pretty excited about Thanksgiving dinner right now.

We made our way through the rest of the store and picked up a few more items before checking out. Walter was enjoying himself so much. Growing up in Germany, he went shopping at Aldi’s with his mom all the time. Now he can shop there in our town and get many of his favorite German goodies. For him, it is a BIG deal.

For my part, I have mixed feelings. I am glad to be able to get the German stuff and get other groceries for less than I’ve been paying. However, this means I now have to shop at two stores instead of one–and Aldi’s is not open early in the morning when I like to shop. On our way out of the store, we each got given a large reusable shopping bag with some goodies inside. It was a fun outing!

A little while after getting back from Aldi’s, it was time to go to Mercy’s voice recital on campus. It was still raining–pouring, in fact, so I had to borrow Jasper’s umbrella. Then I got to the gate and realized I didn’t know the code, so I had to stand there in the downpour and call my husband to get the code. When I finally got the gate open, I got the umbrella stuck in it!

It was a miserable walk to the auditorium, wearing flipflops and slogging through puddles of frigid water. My umbrella blew inside out twice. Then I got there, and I didn’t know where the classroom was, and I was panicking because I knew Mercy was singing first. Thankfully, one of Walter’s cleaning staff was there and able to point me in the right direction, and I slunk into the classroom right as Mercy was about to sing.

She did a great job! She has really blossomed this semester. Apparently, being a straight-A student isn’t enough for her, so she is now a rugby player and is taking voice lessons too! I was so proud of her. She did a great job of singing and projecting her voice. And she sang a song I grew up on–“Just You Wait” from My Fair Lady.

It was a joint voice and piano recital, so I also got to hear Mercy’s roommate play a great piano duet with her teacher, who happens to be my longtime friend Sherrye, and also Lina’s former piano teacher. So after the recital I hung about to visit with Sherrye a little bit and get caught up on her life. It was so good to see her.

Then I had to come home and finish getting ready for my English class. Still raining, by the way. After my class ended, I had a little bit of down time before heading out to my writers meeting, which I always enjoy.

Back at home, Walter very kindly installed my reading lamp in my office space, and put a shelf up for me too. Little by little I am making my area more functional!

At about 10:15 this evening, Spencer, Jasper and I left with Lucy to see her off at the Greyhound Station. Her bus was supposed to leave at 10:40 but didn’t even arrive until 10:55. It pulled away right at 11:00. It should be quite an adventure for her. Her first time traveling by Greyhound, and it’s an overnight trip with two transfers. She is going to visit Mary and Jordan and will come back with them on Saturday when they come for Thanksgiving.

Phew! It’s been a long day, and I haven’t even written any words on my novel!


Now Thank We All Our God

Now Thank We All Our God

Martin Rinkart

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.


The Halfway Mark

Today didn’t go quite as planned, because I felt a lot worse than I did yesterday. Lucy came to Walmart with me, and after we got back and had breakfast, I ended up lying down for quite a while. Jasper was still at camp, and Walter and Spencer had gone off to their yard jobs for the first time in weeks. Every Saturday has been rainy until today!

I had promised Lucy we’d have a mother-daughter date, so we went out for a late lunch and enjoyed browsing through a gift shop. After we got home, I was ready to lie down again.

Maybe you are getting the picture that it was hard to find time to write when I kept having to lie down! I did get a thousand words in before I had to give my attention to practicing the autoharp and chording two hymns for tomorrow.

Jasper came home late in the afternoon with a mixed review of camp. There were some activities that he did not enjoy at all, and he was rather horrified by some of the music that was played, but he did enjoy some of the things they did and apparently the food was very good! I was glad his friend Kristin was there with him.

Mercy had requested a “family movie night,” so when she got back from her rugby game (they lost), we had a pizza supper and watched a movie. I finished a knitting project and dozed off yet again during the movie, but afterwards I stayed up to write and made the 25,000 word mark, which is where I need to be if I want to finish on time.