Killing, Maiming, & Rain

I bet that got your attention! My current work-in-progress is hurtling toward its conclusion and today I had to kill a character of whom I was very fond, and another was maimed. It’s no fun writing those things, but I knew what I had to do and I got a lot of writing in–4,464 words, to be exact, which is my best day so far this month. I now know I can finish this story by the end of the month. Only a few key scenes left to go!

The real news of the day was rain. Lots and lots of rain. I kept waiting for the rain to let up this morning while we were doing school, because I knew I had to go out and buy bread before lunch. However, the rain did NOT let up, even a little, so I had to go out in the downpour and drive to the grocery store.

By the time I got home I was soaked and chilled. The roads were more like rivers. I couldn’t seem to get warm until I changed into dry clothes and took a nice long nap. I am still fighting a respiratory infection and I figure naps are a great way to fight!

I also got some of my gift yarn wound tonight. Maybe tomorrow after I get it all done I’ll show it to you.

Meanwhile, Mercy has decided she won’t be ready to leave until Friday. Lots left to do.

Goodbye, Charlene

Sorry I didn’t post last night. What few words I had, I spent on my novel to keep from falling behind in my goals.

Three and a half years ago, Spencer worked hard all summer to make money to buy his first car, a Grand Am he named Charlene. He was so proud of that car.


That car took him to jobs at Hastings and Papa John’s pizza. It took him to concerts. It betrayed him spectacularly on his first big road trip to visit Mary and Jordan. But Charlene, who was kind of sketchy to begin with, finally developed some fatal flaws, and has been moribund for over a year. Last semester one of Spencer’s friends, who has the same model car, bought it for spare parts but then gave it back once he had taken what he needed.

So Charlene has been uglifying the road in front of our house for a couple of months now, and since Walter didn’t have to work yesterday, he and Spencer finally took her to the dump. There was time for one final photo:


And then she was gone. The day, however, had more car drama in store for us. The Suburban wouldn’t start. Walter got it going again, and Mercy took it out to run an errand, only to have the hood pop open while she was driving, so she pulled over and put her hazard lights on. Then Walter, who was running an errand in the van, saw her there and stopped to help. Somehow, during this process, the keys got locked in the car, so Walter came home to get the spare keys. By the time he got back, the hazard lights had drained the battery! Fun times in the rain.

Meanwhile, I had a class to prepare for, and I had to run an errand myself yesterday morning to get some paper I needed. I am still sick but taking meds helps! This semester I am teaching a class on essay writing and I have seven students, three of whom I had last semester. Only one of them is a kid I’ve never met before. They were all very quiet, but that is pretty typical for a first class. Hopefully they will be more willing to talk as we go along.

We finished off the day by watching a movie together. This morning I could no longer postpone the necessity of getting Jasper back to school. Lina and Mercy left early to get Mercy’s car aligned, and Jasper and I tried to get our brains back into algebra mode. It wasn’t easy for either of us, but we got through it!

I had to cancel my autoharp lesson because of my illness. The last thing I want to do is make my sweet teacher sick! But to my dismay, she won’t have another slot until March. I guess I’d better make sure I’ve made some real progress by then.

It was another rainy, rainy day. I took a nice long nap because I am really trying to get better and then I had to run an errand before sitting down with a nice hot mug of tea. Mercy is packing up to leave on Thursday and Lina will be going with her to help with driving.


My Anchor Holds

Someday, I hope I happen to be visiting a (very) large Baptist church when they sing this song. It really sounds best with hundreds of voices and I miss singing it!

My Anchor Holds

William C. Martin

Though the angry surges roll
On my tempest driven soul,
I am peaceful, for I know,
Wildly though the winds may blow,
I’ve an anchor safe and sure,
That can evermore endure.


And it holds, my anchor holds:
Blow your wildest, then, O gale,
On my bark so small and frail;
By His grace I shall not fail,
For my anchor holds, my anchor holds.

Mighty tides about me sweep,
Perils lurk within the deep,
Angry clouds o’ershade the sky,
And the tempest rises high;
Still I stand the tempest’s shock,
For my anchor grips the rock.


I can feel the anchor fast
As I meet each sudden blast,
And the cable, though unseen,
Bears the heavy strain between;
Through the storm I safely ride,
Till the turning of the tide.


Troubles almost ’whelm the soul;
Griefs like billows o’er me roll;
Tempters seek to lure astray;
Storms obscure the light of day:
But in Christ I can be bold,
I’ve an anchor that shall hold.


Christmas Club

Back when we were newlyweds, our credit union (to which we still belong) had a program called “Christmas Club,” as did many other financial institutions. You got a little booklet of payment coupons, and you paid a certain amount per week into your Christmas Club account. At the beginning of December, the credit union made the final payment for you and then you could withdraw the entire account to use for holiday spending.

Believe it or not, we used to put aside $2 per week for Christmas Club. Then in December we’d have $100 to spend on gifts for each other and a few special food items. That was a lot for us in those days before we had kids.

I haven’t seen any advertisements for the Christmas Club at the credit union for years. I have no idea if they still have that program. I no longer need it, because I’ve been organizing my own Christmas Club for a couple of decades now. I actually have a two-part program, and I’m going to explain it to you now because now is the time to get started if you aren’t already doing something like this!

Every month I put aside some money into an envelope for holiday spending. This is a budgeted expense, and I put aside the same amount every month. I never touch it till November. This particular fund is not for gifts, but for food and other holiday things like candy for advent, candles for the candelabra, and Christmas crackers.  We eat quite frugally all year long–simple breakfasts, peanut butter and jelly for lunch, and frequent meatless dinners. However, I like to put on a sumptuous spread for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and this fund allows me to do it, plus to have enough extra grocery money to deal with incoming house guests and adult offspring. I have been doing this for a long, long time. We always have eaten well over the holidays, even if our household size doubles.

The other fund I set up every year is my gift fund. Because our resources are limited, I have a budget for gifts. Each person gets the same amount allocated for their birthday and Christmas gifts.  So, to keep the math easy, let’s say there are six people in your family, and let’s further assume that you can only afford to spend $20 on any one gift. That means $120 for birthday gifts and another $120 for Christmas gifts. But you like to celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, so that’s a gift for you and your spouse plus your parents too. That’s three Mother’s Day gifts and three Father’s Day gifts which is another $120. And you like to give each other little gifts for your anniversary, so that’s another $40. But of course, you have friends and your kids get invited to the occasional birthday party, so you probably should budget at least another $200 for the year.

Add it all up and that comes to $600 that you will need to spend on gifts over the course of a year. So, you put aside $50 a month into an account or envelope that is designated strictly for gift expenses. As long as you stick to your budget, you will always have the funds you need to buy birthday and Christmas gifts. I have been doing this for a couple of decades now and it has been so helpful. I start looking for gifts way ahead of time because I know if I hit a really good sale, I can stay in my budget and still get something that would normally be beyond my means.

Today we got the tree put up in the attic and tomorrow I hope we can finish putting away the last of the Christmas things. Also, Flynn got a job!



Today was “taking down decorations” day. Lina did the lion’s share of it. The tree was divested of its ornaments, garlands, and lights. Tomorrow it should be packed up and relegated to the attic once more.

I also took Jasper to the monthly homeschool teen lunch. Today’s experience was more successful than most of the others have been, because one of his 4-H friends showed up. I am so glad he enjoyed himself.

Oh, and I also broke the 3,000 word mark for the first time this month! My main character rescued herself from certain death and had some other excitement.


That’s what you get if you live in East Texas. Weather whiplash. On Saturday morning when I went out to buy donuts, it was 16° with a wind chill of 12°! Today it was so warm—78°—that we went to the lake.

First, though, Lina took Mercy to get her car inspected and licensed. Walter through his tireless efforts has gotten it operational, but there were and are still several hoops to jump through before she can leave for Colorado.

When Lina and Mercy got back, we loaded up the car and took off for the lake—Lina, Jasper and I. It was a very windy and cloudy morning, but warm. By the time we got to the lake the sun had come out and it was a perfect day.

Lina and Jasper went on a walk while I fired up the grill. It was rather dicey with the wind being very strong. I had to hold onto the grill to keep it from blowing over! Once I had coals I made my foil pan and fried up the bacon I had brought. When Lina and Jasper returned, the bacon was almost done so I made toast on the grill and we assembled and ate our bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. So yummy!

I put apples on the grill to roast, thinking it would take at least an hour like they did last time, but I guess I had more coals or the wind made them hotter, because they were done in 15 minutes! We also listened to an audiobook and Jasper went on another walk. The wind eventually died down. The water rippled. Hawks soared overhead. It was a beautiful afternoon.

The sun was low in the west when we packed up to leave, and we were treated to a gorgeous sunset as we neared home. What a lovely day.

In Which My Footwear Starts a Conversation

Yesterday (Sunday) I made my first airport run of this new year, going in to pick up Janet and her boyfriend. This is a 300 mile round trip, and yesterday it was a struggle as I was inexplicably tired.

So anyway, we got to the airport just as Janet’s flight landed, but there was a long delay in getting her luggage. I sat down on a bench at the gate where we had parked, and Lucy went down to wait with Janet and bring her back. The bench had four seats, the middle two of which were empty. I sat on one end and there was another lady on the other end, I’d say about ten years older than me.

After a good half hour of minding my own business and maybe dozing a little, the other woman spoke to me. “I just have to ask you a question.”

I nodded, wondering what was coming.

“Do you wear flip-flops most of the time?”

I don’t know what I expected, but that wasn’t it. Yes, I was wearing flip-flops, and yes, it was cold outside. It never occurred to me that someone would be curious enough about my choice of footwear to ask me about it! I admitted that I do wear flip-flops almost exclusively, and she reacted with great enthusiasm. She is a flip-flop wearer too, though yesterday she had donned sneakers because of the cold.

This led to us chatting for several minutes until Lucy returned with Janet and Aaron. You just never know!

We didn’t get home till almost midnight and I was very tired. I confess that I slept in this morning. Eventually, everybody got going. Spencer and Lucy had their first classes of the semester today. Spencer is taking a full schedule of college classes and Lucy is just taking two.

Jasper had a 4-H meeting this afternoon, and afterwards Lina and I went to Books-a-Million, where I might have picked up a few bargain books. I also wrote over 1300 words.

Staying Alive

We all have songs that are special to us, that bring back a certain time in our lives, a person, or maybe a special event. Today’s hymn is special to me because it kept me alive during a period of time when I did not want to live. It was one of the hymns I listened to over and over on the night I was planning to kill myself at the age of 17. Once I had made the decision to not go down that road, I made it irrevocably.

However, I did not magically acquire the will to live. I was sent away from everything and everyone I loved and put into an environment that I found stifling and unbearably lonely. I was dealing with so much grief and loss and no one ever said to me, “You are suffering from severe clinical depression and you need help.” I woke up sad every morning and went to bed sad every night. But this hymn was what kept me doing it. When my roommates were out of the room, I would sing this hymn with tears streaming down my face. I had to believe that God would not let me go—and He didn’t. The day came when I was able to smile again. Eventually, I had days when I woke up actually looking forward to something. I didn’t need to sing this hymn to myself quite so often.

Fast forward a few decades, to a few years ago when my father-in-law died. My husband and his siblings were going through the papers my father-in-law had left with instructions for his funeral. There was a list of hymns he suggested, and they were discussing which ones they should use. Some hymns had a star beside them. This particular hymn had three stars. I campaigned to have it included, and it was. My father-in-law was a very formal, distant man in many ways, but after he died I found that he loved this hymn as I did. That made me feel closer to him than anything else had.

I figured the chords yesterday and we sang it in church today. I love the tune and the words. It still makes me cry. Every time.

O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go

by George Matheson

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

In Which House Guest Season (Apparently) Comes to an End

For fourteen out of the last twenty-one days, we have had house guests. This is normal for the holidays, and we love it, but I have to confess that I am looking forward to returning to a more normal routine. Bri was finally able to go home today, where she will be frantically packing for her return to school tomorrow! Daniel was also able to move back into the dorm today.

It was 16° when I got up this morning with the intention of buying donuts for breakfast. After yesterday’s shoe fail, I was not willing to put on my sneakers, which are my only actual shoes. (I wore them to Aldi and by the time I got home they hurt so much I came close to actually burning them.) So, I kept on my socks and slippers, and drove to the donut shop. No one was the wiser as I stayed in the car and went through the drive-through.

In the afternoon, I went calendar shopping at Books-a-Million. I love calendars. We have a lot of them around the house most years. I found some I really liked. Two of my former students now work at Books-a-Million, and I happened to catch them both on their break, so it was nice to chat with them for a few minutes.

I also got over 2000 words written today, and chorded a hymn which I’ll talk about tomorrow. After I have to drive all the way to the DFW airport again to get Janet.