Scammed

This morning I mixed things up a bit and worked in the garden first (while it was still relatively cool) and then came inside to sit in the sauna and then take a shower. Except I didn’t, because I got a phone call. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered anyway because it was a local number and I have been expecting a call from an old friend.

Instead it was a scam call, claiming to be from Amazon, and wanting me to authorize a $1400 payment for the purchase of an Apple MacBook laptop. Uh, no. So I gave up on the sauna and spent the time reporting the incident to Amazon. So frustrating. But I do feel it’s important to report these calls or emails so that others might be spared.

Anyway, I weeded the rest of the garden and now have to decide what to plant in the empty squares. I also potted the lavender plant I got a couple of weeks ago. Anyone want to place a bet on how long I can keep it alive? I have never, ever, succeeded at growing lavender.

I got one hydroponics planter up and running again and planted with lettuce. I’ll wait a couple of weeks to plant the other one so the harvest will be staggered. Glad to have that chore done.

I worked more on my directory project and also made yet another test batch of spiced chai macarons. This time they have the all-important “feet” but many of the tops are cracked. I have less than two weeks to perfect them.

And I finished knitting another dishcloth. My supply was severely depleted after giving so many away at my reunion, but I’m building it back up. This has been my primary form of therapy for the last two years or so.

Finally—I have an unspoken prayer request. We as a family would appreciate your prayers.

Rescuing My Garden

Now that I am able to type at least a little, I have some catching up to do. On Sunday we had a very low-key celebration for Jasper’s 21st birthday. Lucy and Tanner came over and I made a big pot of groundnut stew at Jasper’s request. I also made a mocha cake with mocha icing. All of it was appreciated.

Yesterday (Monday) Jasper had his regular gaming night, and he wanted to take groundnut stew and rice and birthday cake to share with his friends. I am so thankful to have my impressive thermos collection as I could send the food hot. Somewhat to my surprise, he reported that everyone liked it. You just never know how some people will react to ethnic food.

This morning when I woke up, my finger still was too painful to use, but I forced myself to get out and work in my garden anyway. I am so far behind. Most of the plants I tried to start indoors didn’t do well, so everything is being planted so late outside. Only one of my tomato plants made it, but I found three volunteer tomato plants in the garden. So now I have four tomato plants but no idea of what kind they are.

I also did some weeding, planted some pole beans, and transplanted a bunch of volunteer marigolds (already blooming!) to where I actually wanted them. I deadheaded at least some of my roses also.

This afternoon I went to Lowe’s and picked up some more manure and a few plants because this evening I wanted to finally plant this year’s okra. I did not plant as much as last year, because of having to rotate garden beds and just not having as much room.

I also started cleaning out my hydroponics planters, which have been neglected since I pulled the plants out a few weeks ago. I miss having that light in the sunroom and I miss having fresh lettuce all the time. Maybe tomorrow I’ll finish the job.

I figure if I put some time into the garden every morning for the rest of the week, maybe I’ll end up where I should have been a month ago.

Meanwhile, Jasper mowed a yard for a neighbor, got the lowdown on another regular mowing job, and worked as a barista at an event tonight.

Typing is still painful, but by this evening it was at least possible, and I was also able to knit a little. Hoping to be even better tomorrow as I still have a long list of things I need to do.

Parting Shot:

Hydrangeas are just starting to get some color.

A One-Handed Day

Thanks to a return of my very painful middle-finger condition, I only had the use of one hand today, which means I didn’t get much done. I tried the new gizmo I got to help with the pain—some heated mitts. No pain relief. That was a little disappointing. Now I am tired of this one-handed typing. Hoping tomorrow will be better!

Sad Hearts Will Gladden

Some Golden Daybreak

Carl A. Blackmore

Some glorious morning sorrow will cease 
Some glorious morning all will be peace 
Heartaches all ended, school days all done 
Heaven will open – Jesus will come.

Some golden daybreak Jesus will come 
Some golden daybreak, battles all won 
He’ll shout the vict’ry, break thro’ the blue 
Some golden daybreak, for me, for you.

Sad hearts will gladden, all shall be bright 
Goodbye forever to earth’s dark night 
Changed in a moment, like Him to be 
Oh, glorious daybreak, Jesus I’ll see.

Some golden daybreak Jesus will come 
Some golden daybreak, battles all won 
He’ll shout the vict’ry, break thro’ the blue 
Some golden daybreak, for me, for you.

Oh, what a meeting, there in the skies 
No tears nor crying shall dim our eyes 
Loved ones united eternally 
Oh, what a daybreak that morn will be.

Some golden daybreak Jesus will come 
Some golden daybreak, battles all won 
He’ll shout the vict’ry, break thro’ the blue 
Some golden daybreak, for me, for you.

A Few Thoughts About Reuniting

You knew a reflection essay was coming, didn’t you?

Five years ago, I went to my very first high school reunion—the 40-year one. My class had been holding reunions every five years since we graduated, but I had never gone to one. At first, my main excuse was that we couldn’t afford it (and we really couldn’t), but I also was afraid of going. Terrified might be a better word.

Unlike many of my classmates, my time at that school was not wonderful. I might describe it as Dickensian—it was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Mostly it was very very grim. The “best” part was the lifelong friends I made. But my time there was marked by trauma and deep distress.

So, whenever another reunion was announced, I would be kind of glad I couldn’t afford to go. In addition to all my emotional baggage, I was deeply ashamed of the way I looked and so afraid I would be asked questions I didn’t want to answer.

Five years ago, when I had started traveling to Tennessee to cook for my parents, I knew I could plan a trip to see my parents and then continue on to the reunion in Kentucky. I forced myself to commit to it. I said I’d bring cookies, and once I make a commitment like that, I feel bound to it.

Still, on the day I drove to the reunion site, I was physically sick from anxiety and in fact I drove right past the entrance because I was too afraid to turn in. I drove several miles down the road before I got a grip on myself and forced myself to turn around and retrace my steps.

Of course, all my anxiety was for nothing (as is usually the case). I was welcomed with open arms. Several classmates shared their favorite memories of me, some of which I’d forgotten. Within a very few minutes, I realized what a terrible mistake it had been to withhold from myself the joy of being with these lovely people. Instead of protecting myself, I’d been depriving myself.

By the time I left that reunion, some healing had taken place, and I resolved to attend future reunions if at all possible. My friend Julie planned a “midway” reunion two and a half years ago, and I went to that one with enthusiasm. In fact I went early to help Julie with the cooking. And somehow, by the time I left that reunion, I ended up with the responsibility of planning the next one, although I thought I’d just agreed with a suggestion!

Which brings me to this reunion. This time, my anxiety was just over whether or not my classmates would have a good time and whether or not I’d remembered everything I needed to remember. I knew everyone would offer to help. I knew I’d enjoy every conversation, every hug, every smile. I knew I would be accepted. I knew our group is a judgment-free place.

For years, I’ve struggled to explain to people why these relationships are so deep and enduring. My standard explanation is that boarding school is so different from a day school experience. Your classmates are also your church friends and your sports teammates and your meal companions and your roommates and your surrogate brothers and sisters. Of course you form deep and long-lasting bonds. Who wouldn’t under those conditions?

All that is true. But at this reunion, I began to see a pattern that points to another layer of our shared experiences. I hesitate to verbalize it, because I realize some may disagree. And I’m not saying I have proof or am any kind of expert. But this time around, as I listened to various people tell bits and pieces of their life stories, something struck me that never struck me before.

Many, if not most of us, suffered various forms of trauma in our youth. All of us were separated from our parents, of course. Some fled their homes due to civil war or other violence. Some were pulled from a happy and contented life in their home countries to an uncertain and lonely existence overseas. Some lost a parent or sibling at a very young age. Some came from abusive or toxic homes.

So I wonder. What if a bunch of wounded, damaged kids found themselves thrown together in a place with minimal adult supervision, and what if they banded together and supported each other to help each other survive and thrive, despite all the circumstances that might have thwarted that outcome? Wouldn’t a dynamic like that lead to long-term, deep relationships? I think it would.

A Welcome Visitor

This morning was kind of relaxed but at the same time we had some getting ready to do, because we were expecting a guest. My friend Susan arrived midmorning, having driven here from Dallas.

Susan is one of the few college friends I’ve stayed in touch with. She was one of my suitemates in the dorm and we have stayed in touch all these years. Usually I go to visit her in Dallas, so it was a nice change to have her come visit us. We went to the local barbeque place to get our lunch and then brought it back to the house to eat. So yummy!

Later in the afternoon, we took her on a tour of the campus. She hadn’t been back in many years and there were quite a few changes to show her. She also enjoyed talking to Jasper for a while this afternoon.

I had hoped she would stay a little longer, but she felt she needed to leave this afternoon, so we said our goodbyes and she headed back to Dallas.

I spent the rest of the day working on a post-reunion project—a class directory complete with photos and contact information. It’s coming along nicely.

The Wrong Name

During the reunion, one of my classmates wrote me a check to pay for one of my books, and I didn’t look at it till I got home. Then I had to laugh. The check was made out to Linda Moran—my maiden name. I haven’t been Linda Moran for almost 41 years now. Fortunately, my maiden name is on my driver’s license and I was still able to deposit the check after signing it both ways.

Today was my grocery shopping day at Aldi as usual. We have company coming in tomorrow and a birthday dinner this weekend, so I did have to get some things despite all the leftovers I have.

My plans for the afternoon fell through, so I took a nap and then ran a couple of errands. Then I helped Jasper make some sourdough pizza bread to take to his game night—along with bags of leftover reunion cookies and muffins!

I actually had to leave before the bread came out of the oven because I had a writers’ meeting tonight. I hadn’t been able to go last month so I wanted to be sure to go this month. I always enjoy hanging out with my fellow writers. And I sold a book!

I also started work on a class directory, complete with photos. It’s shaping up nicely!

A Recovery Day & A Mystery Solved

I counted on having today to just recover from the reunion. I know it’s selfish of me, but I felt I earned it. I slept in, and then got off to a slow start. I drank a big mug of tea. Eventually, I started putting more things away and then went out to do some banking and put gas in the car. $4.07 per gallon—yikes! That was painful.

I took a nap. Then I had actual work to do, on a curriculum I wrote. The publisher asked me to add a little to it, so I had to do some research and take care of that. I also had emails to send and reply to.

One of the emails concerned four folding chairs. As we were going through check-out procedures at the ranch yesterday, I found four folding chairs in the game barn. Many of us brought our own chairs to supplement the seating available at the ranch. I felt certain that those four chairs belonged to one of my classmates who had forgotten to get them and take them home. By then, everyone had left except us.

I asked my husband to find room for those chairs in the car. I thought maybe they belonged to my friend Tamra, who lives here in Texas and is planning to visit me later this year. I figured she could pick up the chairs then. As we headed to Austin, I texted Tamra to ask about the chairs, and I eventually received an answer—they weren’t hers.

So this afternoon I sent an email to everyone who had been at the reunion the night we all hung out in the game barn, with a photo of the chairs in question. Walter believed the chairs belonged to the ranch and we were technically guilty of theft. I mentally made plans for a detour when we go to my uncle’s memorial service next month. I’m sure you can imagine my relief when I received a reply from the chairs’ owners—my friends David and Denni, who are probably back home in Florida now. Since we both have kids in Colorado, maybe we can still return them one of these days!

I am having to think hard about how to use up the leftovers we brought back from the reunion. For supper tonight, I dumped a bunch of taco meat into a baking dish and then added a can of chili to give it some moisture. I topped the meat with a layer of cheese. Then I mixed up some cornbread mix, adding an extra egg and a little extra milk, and spread that on top of the cheese. I topped it off with more cheese. In this family, there is no such thing as too much cheese. I baked it until the cornbread was browned with the cheese on top. My menfolk approved. I might have to remember this one.

This afternoon the doorbell rang and when I looked outside, I saw an unfamiliar white van in the driveway. Puzzled, I opened the door to find a man holding out a lovely flower arrangement and asking if “Linda” lived here. Turns out, my kids knew I’d be gone on Mother’s Day, so they arranged to have this lovely bouquet delivered today, after I returned from my trip.

I’m still a little stunned that they managed to fit so many flowers into one little teacup! I will enjoy them for however long they last, and then I’ll still have the teacup and saucer. Tomorrow, the pace picks up again.

Reunion Day 4: The Last Goodbyes

This morning was another quite early one, as I wanted to get my shower in before putting out breakfast for whomever showed up. I still had some frittatas, but I also had bagels and sausages and so many muffins! I begged everyone to take some muffins with them!

I also had Lois set up a sandwich-making station so those traveling by car could make sandwiches to take on the road. I urged people to take cookies, chips, and samosas. And Jim and Tamra, both from Texas and both with coolers, were encouraged to take all the stuff from the fridge that I couldn’t fit into my own cooler.

While people ate breakfast, I continued packing up food and Walter kept carrying stuff out to the car. He was such a huge help throughout the whole reunion. A champion chai-stirrer and cleaner-upper. He had never met my classmates before, so he kind of got thrown into the deep end, but he handled it pretty well. And they accepted him without question. Because they’re the literal best.

There was a lot of hugging as people left one after the other. Soon, we were alone and just putting furniture back into place before leaving.

We headed back into town, because on the way to the restaurant on Tuesday, we had passed a place that sold baskets, and baskets are one of my many weaknesses. Besides, the baskets looked African to me as we drove by. So I talked Walter into taking me to check the place out, and I immediately was sorry I hadn’t known about it before the reunion, because the baskets were indeed African and I think my classmates would have enjoyed seeing them. I, uh, might have not been able to resist a particularly colorful one:

From there we drove to Austin for a brief visit with my Aunt Glenda (the wife of my Uncle Dan who died last week). It was good to see her and tell her a little about the reunion. My uncle’s memorial service won’t be until next month, so we’ll be making another trip then.

We said goodbye to my aunt and then drove home, arriving before 7:30 while it was still plenty light enough for me to water my garden (which was gasping for water!).

We feasted on a few leftover samosas and then worked on unpacking. There is more left to do, but I figure it can wait until tomorrow. I wanted to have this evening to write about the reunion while it is still fresh in my mind.

Reunion Day 3: Wildflowers & Barbeque

On Tuesday morning I didn’t have to get up and make breakfast quite so early. I had actually planned originally to fire up the outside grill and make a bunch of pancakes. But there was so much food left over from Monday morning that I just reheated some of it and added some sausages. No one complained!

A couple more people left that morning also, including Rhea and her husband Dan.

After breakfast a group of us headed to Wildseed Farms, a farm that specializes in growing wildflowers and collecting the seeds for sale. We enjoyed walking the path through their fields, even though the blooms were not very profuse due to a dry spring.

My friend Sonja at the wildflower farm

Others were sleeping in or checking out antique stores in town.

I had made reservations at a local barbeque place, so after leaving the wildflower farm, we headed there. We parked and got out of the car, and as we walked up to the restaurant I saw a pickup truck parked out front—and I recognized the driver. It was our classmate Jeff, who had told me he hoped to join us. I hadn’t seen him since 1977! We had a great lunch at the restaurant. Our group took up close to three quarters of the seats.

After that I had left the afternoon free so that people could roam around and explore the town if they wanted. It turns out that most of us just wanted to go back to the ranch and relax and keep talking. So much talking! Several took advantage of the swimming pool. I took a brief and much-needed nap before rejoining my amazing classmates.

Let me just pause here to sing the praises of my friends of 45 years. Sure, I did a LOT of work to prepare for this reunion. But once everyone arrived, I had constant offers of help. “What can I do?” “How can I help?” Dishes were magically washed and put away. Surfaces were wiped. Floors were swept. Trash was taken out. I never really had to ask for help. It was always cheerfully offered before I needed it. Oh, and I forgot to tell you that my classmates banded together with benevolent aforethought and gave me a special mug:

This handmade mug has an outline of Africa and the name of our school on it (RVA stands for Rift Valley Academy). That would be special enough. But what makes it super special is that the mug was made by a ceramic artist who also happens to be one of our former class sponsors—Jack Wilson. I already treasure it!

For supper Tuesday evening I made rice and a big pot of my killer chicken mango curry. My friend Denni had brought bags and bags full of premade samosas which just had to be heated in the oven (we couldn’t fry them because the burners were full of rice and curry). I had a couple of willing volunteers to take care of the samosas while I worked on the curry.

That was a great dinner. Everybody seemed to love the curry, and samosas were a huge treat for most of us. Afterward I had scheduled a “show-and-tell” time. This turned into a very special time of people sharing about some aspects of their lives, and also about how having lifelong friendships has been so important to all of us. It is so hard to explain to people who haven’t been to boarding school. Your classmates become your family, and those bonds can last a lifetime, just like the biological ones. We ended with a brief time of prayer for all of us.

Then there was more ice cream and fudge sauce and of course, chai. I hadn’t had anything to put the leftover fudge sauce in except a ziplock bag, so I just cut off a corner of the bag and let people squeeze the sauce over their ice cream. It worked just fine!

As people drifted away, I worked on packing up some of the food and kitchen items to save time in the morning. I knew some people would not be back in the morning, so the goodbyes had already begun. Several people bought one of my books and asked me to sign them. What a happy experience! I, on the other hand, bought a beautiful hand-turned wooden pen from my friend Sonja’s husband Bud. I find it so hard to resist beautiful writing implements, and this, along with the mug, is the perfect reunion souvenir.

Enjoying some curry