Get Used to Disappointment

Having just recently watched The Princess Bride again, this quote came to mind today.

When I was young, I developed this hilarious theory that if I wanted something badly enough, I would get it. My belief in this ludicrous premise was strengthened by the fact that it often seemed to hold true. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I must have been so obnoxious in pursuit of my desires that my parents gave in out of exasperation!

When I grew into my teens, I had matured to the point where I believed prayer could help get me what I wanted, so I would pray fervently that God would supply me with whatever it was, whether being allowed to attend a specific event or a good result on a test—but I still believed there was some kind of magic that translated my deepest desires into reality. And of course God is not a genie who simply grants wishes.

In reality, if this puerile belief had any validity, we’d all be rich and radiantly happy and also gorgeous, right? And I personally would have been living in Africa for the last twenty-five years and also have become a bestselling novelist.

Still, I am immature enough to feel rather sorry for myself when something I deeply desire is denied me. There is still that inner child hoping desperately that if I just want it badly enough, I will somehow get it. Instead, I find I must get used to disappointment—over and over and over. It never gets easier, does it?

Maybe it would be easier to take if at some point we could look back and say, “Oh, now I get it. God didn’t let me have that thing I wanted because it would have kept me from experiencing something even better.” However, I have not found that to be true very often. Many of my biggest disappointments remain meaningless in terms of long-term outcome, and sometimes the grief comes back when I least expect it.

So . . . yeah. Right now I’m facing two separate disappointments, and it may take me a few days or longer to reach a place of acceptance.

A Life Well Lived

Yesterday I went to a funeral home visitation and today I attended the funeral of an extraordinary man. I did not know him well personally, but his daughter-in-law Robin is one of my closest friends and I have taught eight of his ten grandchildren in the last couple of decades. He was something of a renaissance man, with a host of practical skills. Almost every time I saw him, he was fixing or building something! Over the years, he and his wife have been very kind to me personally.

So of course I made a point of being there to celebrate this man’s life with his family, most of whom I know and have watched grow up. This is the kind of funeral I “like” to go to, because the focus is on remembering someone who lived a long and admirable life and who has now gone on to his well-earned reward. Other funerals I have attended have been full of regrets and mixed emotions.

One of the lovely things about being there with the family both yesterday and today is that I was able to spend a few minutes visiting with a young lady who is very special to me. She is one of the eight grandchildren I have taught, but unlike the others, she moved out of state to attend college and never moved back. She has since gotten married and moved even farther away, so it had been some years since I had seen her.

I taught her through all four years of high school and every minute was a joy. It is always such a thrill when I encounter one of my former students and find him or her thriving!

Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise

One of my lifelong favorites . . .

Immortal, Invisible

Walter C. Smith

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great Name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, Thou rulest in might;
Thy justice, like mountains, high soaring above
Thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all, life Thou givest, to both great and small;
In all life Thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish—but naught changeth Thee.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore Thee, all veiling their sight;
But of all Thy rich graces this grace, Lord, impart
Take the veil from our faces, the vile from our heart.

All laud we would render; O help us to see
’Tis only the splendor of light hideth Thee,
And so let Thy glory, Almighty, impart,
Through Christ in His story, Thy Christ to the heart.

 

Jasper and the Auction

It’s OVER! And it went considerably better than expected. Jasper and Walter went to work today, and I stayed here and did housework and made brownies and talked to Mercy. I went in search of some fake autumn leaves to use as decorations on the cookie tray, and found some at the store across the street.

By the time Jasper got home, I was arranging the tray. I was able to fit 28 oversized cookies on the tray!

We had to be at the convention center an hour and a half before the auction started, but it ended up being good because Jasper was able to get his “official” photo taken right away. We looked at all the stuff for sale and then Jasper got some supper while I sat and knitted. Knitting is my go-to anxiety reducer, and my anxiety level was off the scale. There was not a single person there that we knew.

Jasper was #51, so we had to sit through numbers 1-50 before they called his name. It was very stressful. Remember, Jasper’s cookies had placed third. The first place food entry (a cake) sold for $500, and the second place entry (toffee) sold for $300. Jasper and I were thinking we’d be thrilled if he even got $50 for his cookies. So you can imagine how gobsmacked we both were when his cookies went for $450! I admit that I cried from relief and happiness for Jasper. He will now be able to buy his own blacksmithing forge!

Meanwhile, while we endured the auction drama, Walter was here setting up for the chai party by himself until Daniel came to help him. Lucy and Spencer arrived home shortly before we did. It’s a cold evening, and the fires are burning!

Parting Shot:

10-28-17 Jasper with cookies

Jasper with his PRIZEWINNING cookies!

The Travelling Panic Chip Hunt

Today was my least favorite kind of Friday. Normally, after grocery shopping in the morning, I can relax a little in the afternoon and maybe even visit with a friend.

This morning, I went to Aldi, where I was insulted by a passive-aggressive New Yorker (not a common accent in these parts).

After lunch, I went out to do some banking and to mail out some chai mix and pick up more envelopes. I packed the rest of the outgoing chai mix and took it back to mail, and then continued on to Walmart to buy all the stuff that Aldi didn’t have.

I did get a quick cup of tea before venturing out with Jasper in search of cinnamon chips. They are a vital ingredient in his prize-winning cookies, and I thought I had a sufficient stockpile to suffice if he were to win a prize and thus need to make a third batch. I was mistaken.

I had already looked at Walmart and been disappointed, so we stopped by another grocery store where I had seen them in the past. They don’t have any. I was sure Kroger would have them, as that is the “fancy” store we go to when we need something unusual. No cinnamon chips at Kroger.

I was beginning to panic, I’ll be honest. The cookies had to be made tonight, so there was no hope of shipping the chips in from somewhere. We stopped by Aldi to pick up something I had decided to get after leaving this morning, and then by a clothing store to get a nice shirt for Jasper, because he is supposed to be “dressed up” for the auction, and that is not something he enjoys or sees any point in.

I said a quick prayer before heading off to the next grocery store. There were only two more on the list and if they didn’t have the all-important chips we’d be in deep trouble. You can imagine my feeling of triumph, then, when store #4 DID have cinnamon chips! I bought four bags. They’re good for so many things.

Our chip hunt took so long that instead of making homemade pizza as planned, we had to stop and get takeout for supper. But that is okay because we have CHIPS now, and the cookies have been made and they look and smell amazing.

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I did want to let you all know that I am once again making and selling chai mix, this time to help raise money for Lina’s plane ticket home for Christmas. I ship anywhere in the USA, and chai mix makes a great Christmas gift!

The cost per bag is $6.60. Each bag contains 12 servings, so this works out to 55 cents per serving for a drink that I believe is better than almost any you can buy at an expensive coffee shop, and is delicious either hot or cold.

Local people can pick your chai mix up at your convenience once I have a batch ready. Out-of-towners will have to wait for me to mail it to you. Here’s how the postage works out:

It costs $7.20 for flat rate envelope which can hold up to 3 bags.

$13.80 to purchase and mail one bag

$20.40 to purchase and mail two bags

$27.00 to purchase and mail three bags

Local people can pay me in person when they pick up their bags. Others can send a check or use PayPal or Facebook to pay. If you need me to mail your order, BE SURE to send me your mailing address!

Two More Days

So, the Harvest Festival stress didn’t end today after all. There are two more days of it, because Jasper’s cookies won third place!

First we had to get through all the homework he put off while working on his projects, and then have our class. We served some of the “extra” cookies to his classmates and they were a big hit.

As soon as class was over, we headed up to the convention center to pick up Jasper’s things and see how he did. We were surprised to see his cookies sitting on a different table, and it turns out it was because they had placed. His pumpkin, sword, and knife all received blue ribbons and good comments. His pastel picture, on which he hadn’t been able to spend much time, received a red ribbon. So it was actually his most successful Harvest Festival to date.

What all this means is that on Saturday he has to make a new batch of cookies, plate them attractively, and then take them to sell at the live auction. Of course I will go with him, but this just means that two introverts will be traumatized instead of one. To do well at the auction, you have to be able to summon up some showmanship, and this is something we appear to be genetically incapable of. I just hope someone will buy the cookies!

After bringing everything home, I crammed for my homeopathy class and then headed that way. I was a little late because I couldn’t leave before Jasper got home, seeing as I needed to give him instructions about supper.

This was the last of my extra-busy Thursdays. Next Thursday is the last homeopathy class, but I don’t teach English that day, so after that it will just be English on Thursdays. Whew!

Deadline Met

I can’t quite heave a sigh of relief, but I can at least believe I’ll get to relax soonish.

Today was all about the mad dash to get Jasper’s projects ready by the deadline. His biggest project ended up costing WAY more in time and money than he had anticipated.

Meanwhile, I had a lot of class preparation to do for tomorrow and had arranged to watch a movie with Lina this afternoon.

After some mild panicking, Jasper did meet the deadline and we were able to transport his entries to the convention center this afternoon. His food entry is a batch of our “famous” molasses spice cookies. He also did a pumpkin—disguised as the Death Star from Star Wars. He did a fall-themed pastel picture for the fine arts division, and entered two things in the handicrafts category: the knife he made yesterday and a huge fantasy sword that he’s been working on for over a week. The sword is over 6 feet long and won’t fit in the car, so Walter had to transport it in the van.

Tomorrow after class we find out how he did and get to bring everything home. And that will be the end of it unless his food entry places (unlikely based on judges’ tastes in previous years).

Parting Shot:

10-25-17 sword

Here you can see how huge the sword is. His knife looks miniscule by comparison!

New Skills

First of all, Happy 53rd Birthday, Zambia! Wish I could be there to celebrate with you in person!

Today got off to a busy start as Jasper and I had to leave the house before 8:00. It was more than an hour’s drive up to Winnsboro, where Jasper would finally be having his blacksmithing class. The weather was very cool, sunny and windy—perfect for working over a hot fire for several hours. He was really looking forward to learning from Charles, whom we’ve been watching at various Renaissance faires for many years now.

Charles showed him how to get the fire started and then talked him through his first project—a rod of steel which he had to hammer into a point at both ends, and then twist the middle into an attractive design.

His second project was making a little knife from one half of an old horseshoe, and his third project was making me a “steak turner” for turning meat on the grill. He learned how to stretch, shape, twist, and curve hot steel. There are many things he could make with just these basic skills. He was a very happy camper by the end of it:

10-24-17 Jasper & Shadowhawk

I have a feeling his right arm and shoulder will be pretty sore tomorrow, though!

Since I wasn’t sitting near the fire, and the forge is in the shade of a large tree, I became quite chilled despite wearing a hat and a hoodie. I was glad to get into a hot car and drive home!

On the way we had to stop to buy sanding belts for the belt sander. The list of supplies needed for Jasper’s projects keeps growing . . .

This evening I had my critique group and writers’ meeting, which I was able to attend for the first time since July. I enjoy spending time with other writers so much.

When I returned home, eager for a well-earned cup of tea, Jasper met me with the news that he needed to go to Walmart to get yet another necessary item—right away. I will be so glad when Harvest Festival is over!

 

A Holiday and a Deadline

Tomorrow is a big day. It is the 53rd anniversary of Zambian Independence, an event that we always celebrate with a Zambian dinner. Since more people can come on a weekend, we celebrated early this year and had our dinner yesterday.

The Zambian staple food is “nshima,” a cornmeal mush, this is served with a sauce or “relish.” Yesterday I made a chicken-tomato-greens relish to go with the nshima. We also made a big batch of mandazis, which are actually Kenyan, but they have them in Zambia too and call them “fritters.”

For dessert, I made some mango cobbler which we served with ice cream. We had only eleven people around the table this year, but it was a boisterous group. I tried not to feel too sorry for myself—of all those things I made, the only one I could eat was the relish, which I ate like a stew.

Our guests were all college students, and apparently they all had homework, for they left soon after devouring the cobbler.

Today the focus was on Jasper’s projects for Harvest Festival.  He was very ambitious back when he was signing up, and now there is very little time to get it all done—and we will be losing several hours tomorrow. I have lost track of all the trips I’ve made to get supplies at Walmart and Hobby Lobby. I’m sure there will be more to come. Everything has to be done by Wednesday afternoon.

Facing Rosacea

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Monday post on my health journey. I don’t really have anything new to say about my fight to keep my diabetes under control without insulin and to continue to lose weight and improve my health. I continue to be faithful to the plan and to see slow progress.

However, I have experienced what is for me a rather stunning success on another health front, so I thought I’d share it with you.

For probably the last ten years, I’ve been suffering from increasingly severe rosacea. At first, my face just looked sunburned all the time. Then it became rough and scaly, and I began having frequent breakouts every bit as distressing as the ones I had in my teens. At first my doctor thought I might have an autoimmune disorder (not exactly comforting!) but she eventually became sure that it was “just” very severe pustular rosacea.

As a result, I have become even more camera shy than I was previously. I can hardly stand to see myself in a mirror. I have doused myself with potions, essential oils, and herbal preparations. None of it seemed to help at all. I resigned myself to slathering my face with foundation if I knew I might be photographed (I am not much of a make-up enthusiast at all).

The one thing that has been more or less a constant in my facial regimen has been my soap. Four years ago, trying to deal with multiple skin issues, including fungal infections and painful reactions to every deodorant brand I tried, I switched to a new soap. This soap, Defense, has been a godsend in so many ways. My fungal infections cleared up and have never come back. It has eliminated the need for deodorant (shocking but true!). So I figured if it was so good for so many different skin issues, it was bound to help with my rosacea, right?

Not so much, as it turns out. Last month, before we left for Colorado, my face was getting worse. I could kind of keep it from getting too bad if I conscientiously washed it twice a day, but even so a crust had started forming on both sides of my nose. Immediately after washing, the skin would be smooth, but within hours the crust would begin to form again. I hated it.

So you can imagine my despair on the first night of our road trip, when we stayed in a motel, and I discovered I’d left my all-important soap at home. I’ve never seen it for sale in a store. I had to use the hotel soap that night, and to my amazement the crust was barely noticeable the next morning. That day I bought some facial cleanser and used it for the rest of the trip.

The crust was gone by the second day and it didn’t come back. My face stayed softer and smoother. Breakouts were less severe and less frequent, though still exacerbated by heat and/or sun exposure. I realized that the soap which has helped so much in other ways is not at all helpful for my face. In the last month, I have seen amazing improvement. I still have to be very faithful to wash my face twice a day if I don’t want to experience breakouts. After washing, I add a few drops of frankincense oil to my moisturizer. Some days my face almost looks normal and is barely red at all.

This is the first ray of hope I’ve had in many years. I don’t know if I’ll ever get my “real” face back, but for now I’m pretty happy with the progress I’ve made.

If you have any rosacea success stories, I’d love to hear them!