I try to be pretty chill about things, but I am getting less and less chill about a situation we’ve got going on. My husband’s evening job is cleaning a daycare center. They are supposed to pay him at the end of every month. Some months they are anywhere from one to two weeks late in getting the check out, which is very stressful when one has bills to pay. This month they outdid themselves. They still haven’t paid him for August, and now they owe him for September too. And I am having to scramble to pay bills that have been waiting all month for the check to come in.

I don’t understand how they can be so cavalier about this. I bet there’d be a mutiny if they paid their own employees this late! Surely they must understand that the whole reason my husband is working there is because we need the money? If I am ever a business owner (unlikely) I think I’d be obsessive about making sure my employees are paid on time. I’ve had too much experience being on the other side of it.

This morning I had my weekly grocery shopping excursion to Aldi, and then returned home. Jasper spent the morning wrestling with quadratic equations. This afternoon he mowed the lawn and this evening he is at a birthday party. He will be tired for work tomorrow . . .

A Very Small Group

This morning was cool and drizzly, so Jasper and I gave up on our plan to do school at the lake. I actually wore a sweater when I went to Walmart to pick up a few things. Not a very warm sweater, but still! I even turned on the heater in the car too. It was 64 degrees! In past years I would not have found this temperature chilly at all, but now I am more sensitive to cold.

I spent part of the morning processing sand. I had put out a plea for sand on Facebook and a friend dropped some by the house the other day. I only need about a cup. So I washed it under running water until the water ran clear, then I baked it in the oven until it was dry, and then I sifted it to get out all the little pebbles. What was left fit perfectly into the container I had bought for it.

I know you’re dying to know what I need a cup of sand for. I am getting ready to teach a class on historical writing implements at Writers in the Field next month. Part of the class will be a demonstration of how to turn a goose feather into a quill pen. And part of that process is heating the quill in some hot sand for a few minutes. I found a perfect tiny copper pot to heat the sand in at an antique store last week. I can heat it over one of my many tea warmers. And now I have the sand. I’ll do a trial run soon to make sure I know what I’m doing.

The reason I started a new knitting project yesterday was because I had signed up for a second small group at church—this one focused on crafting for charity. I thought I’d get going on something so I’d already have a project started when I went to the meeting tonight. I am knitting a scarf for The Red Scarf Project, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years (look it up, if you’re not familiar with it).

So anyway, I took my scarf and drove to the home where the meeting was to be held. The hostess was a woman I’d never met. I was the first person to arrive. After several minutes had passed, it became clear that I was the only person to arrive. Six ladies had signed up, but I was the only one to show up. So it was just me and my hostess. I like to think we both made a new friend tonight. She liked my red scarf idea and plans to make one herself. Meanwhile, we sat and chatted while I got several rows knitted on my scarf. I am knitting it as a tube so it will be double thickness. I want it to be very warm for whoever gets it.



Today was a school day and an errand day. I started a new knitting project in preparation for a social event tomorrow, about which I am quite nervous.

I picked a bunch of tomatoes which have ripened, but fear no one will eat them before they go bad. (I am rarely able to eat a tomato, much as I love them.) I am close to being ready to pull up the tomatoes and zucchini, and try planting some winter vegetables.

I took Jasper to youth group, went walking, and picked him up again. The temperature this evening was the coolest it’s been in a long time—only 70 degrees! That gives me hope that fall may yet arrive.


Creative Pursuits

Today was the one day of the month when I have two social events. This afternoon, I went to my watercolor class in a nearby town. It’s not so much a class as it is just a time to hang out and try to paint. I really need to practice more. It’s embarrassing how I keep going but don’t ever get any better!

Then this evening I had my critique group meeting, followed by our regular writers’ group meeting. I was a little distracted again by my brother Matt’s situation. He was released from the hospital today—almost unbelievable considering how much worse it could have been. His wife Brenda is an emergency-room nurse, so I am confident he will continue to get the best of care. I am so thankful he is still around.

I returned from my meeting to find Jasper missing from the house. Then I heard the telltale sound of hammer hitting anvil, and the mystery was solved. He has a light out in his forge enclosure, so he decided to spend the evening working out there. I supposed it is cooler after dark!

A New Experience & A Close Call

Yesterday we went to church as usual in the morning. It was raining again and I’m not tired of it yet! I am really enjoying our Sunday School class on Ephesians, even though I’m the only woman in the class.

In the afternoon I finished all my cooking and food prep. I made a big pan of lasagna and a huge salad to take to our first small group gathering.

I had a lot of mixed feelings. I don’t even know how we ended up in this small group. The only thing I signed us up for was the Sunday School class, which as far as I can tell is a totally different entity. Yet somehow, we were on the list so I kept getting updates about our first meeting of the new year, which was yesterday. The only people whom we knew would be in the group were our Sunday School teacher and his wife.

I was more than a little anxious. Many years ago now, at a different church, we had a very disappointing small group experience. We were assigned to a group of people whom we didn’t know, but who all seemed very nice. We hadn’t formed a lot of relationships at that church so I looked forward to getting to know everyone. We had dinner together every week and spent time in Bible study. When Jasper was born, they threw me a beautiful shower for him. I thought I had made some new friends.

Then, the school year ended and the small groups were discontinued for the summer. The first few weeks, I’d see our former small group members at church and greet them warmly. Every single time, I was rebuffed as if I were an annoying stranger. Their response conveyed, “Why are you talking to me? I don’t have to pretend to like you anymore because we’re not still in the same small group.” It was devastating. I felt like the entire last nine months had been a cruel lie. We haven’t been in a church-based small group since then.

So anyway, off we went yesterday, to a lovely property out in the country, surrounded by vineyards and beautiful landscaping. There were three other couples, including our hosts, and a young single man. Everyone was so kind. I felt more of a connection with these people than I have felt with anyone else at our “new” church. The group meets twice a month and I think we’ll continue to go. One of the couples has young children so I got to gaze all evening at their adorable little baby. They also homeschool, so we have that in common. The other wives are also interested in gardening (in fact they’re much more committed than I am at this point) so I was glad of that too. I’m kind of glad our kids encouraged us to go.

Meanwhile, shortly after we arrived at the house, I received a text from my brother Greg telling me that our brother Matt had been injured in a motorcycle accident. Matt has been an avid motorcyclist since his teens, and he and his wife were out for a ride (on separate bikes) when the incident occurred. So worrying about Matt added some anxiety to the evening. This morning he had a surgery to repair his shattered elbow, and I finally had a chance to talk to him this evening, after getting updates from Greg all day.

When he described the accident to me, I realized how very fortunate I am to still have my brother. He was hit by a large SUV, and he told me he has no doubt he’d be dead if he hadn’t been wearing a helmet. He ended up under the SUV and his legs were burned by radiator fluid dripping down. He has the arm injury, the burns, and many bruises and contusions—but his protective gear saved his life and kept his injuries from being catastrophic (he was also wearing a protective jacket and gloves). I’d appreciate your prayers for his swift and complete recovery.

This morning, as I obsessively checked my phone for news about Matt, I still had to prepare for and teach my class. What a great bunch of kids.

And this evening, Mercy and Daniel came over to help us eat the leftover lasagna and salad from last night. There is still enough for another meal!

My Diabetes Miracle #18: Wings

You know those flaps of flabby flesh that hang down from the upper arms of ladies who happen to be of my generation, and who also happen to be “traditionally built?” Perhaps you’ve heard them referred to as “bingo wings.” I saw one video where a man opined that those “wings” are where all the good recipes are kept, and I’m inclined to believe there’s some truth to that, because I have lots of great recipes, and I also happen to have an epic pair of bingo wings.

9-21-18 Bingo wing

Yes, that is an actual photo of my actual arm.

Even though I have lost so much weight, the bingo wings remain. They are just a lot less full of fat than they used to be.

I know they are unsightly, but recently, I have chosen to look at my wings a different way. I now call them “victory wings,” because they are evidence of the weight I’ve lost. My wings are visual proof that I have achieved some success. Once they were full of fat, and now they are like deflated balloons. They hang down like that because they’re empty—and that’s something to celebrate, right?

Sometimes, when I’m driving the car, I look down and see my victory wings hanging from my arms, and I grin and flap them around to applaud myself for what I’ve achieved. At my age, the chances aren’t good that they’ll ever shrink, despite all my fasting and the much-vaunted side effect of autophagy. So why not view them as a trophy instead of as a tragedy?

I bet in a pinch I could use them as a weapon too . . .

Whispering Hope

Here’s one I haven’t arranged for autoharp yet. On the list now!

Whispering Hope

by Septimus Winner

Soft as the voice of an angel,
Breathing a lesson unheard,
Hope with a gentle persuasion
Whispers her comforting word:
Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow,
After the shower is gone.

Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

If, in the dusk of the twilight,
Dim be the region afar,
Will not the deepening darkness
Brighten the glimmering star?
Then when the night is upon us,
Why should the heart sink away?
When the dark midnight is over,
Watch for the breaking of day.

Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

Hope, as an anchor so steadfast,
Rends the dark veil for the soul,
Whither the Master has entered,
Robbing the grave of its goal.
Come then, O come, glad fruition,
Come to my sad weary heart;
Come, O Thou blest hope of glory,
Never, O never depart.

Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.


Rainy Saturday

As usual for a Saturday, I didn’t even come close to doing everything I’d hoped to do, but I still got quite a bit done. It rained most of the day, which was wonderful, but it did mean that Walter and Jasper were unable to do their yard jobs. Jasper didn’t mind . . . he went off to play Age of Empires this afternoon.

I picked up a couple of food items at Walmart and throughout the day I worked on food prep for tomorrow. I chopped a ton of veggies and browned two skillets full of meat, roasted some nuts and boiled some eggs.

I also worked on a sewing project, did some revising of a writing project, wrote a quiz, and did some other preparation for Monday’s class. And went walking.

I went to Hobby Lobby, only to find that they don’t carry quill-pen-sized goose feathers OR sealing wax seals. Amazon it is, then. I think I almost have everything I need for the class I’ll be teaching at Writers in the Field next month. Soon I’ll be practicing all the stuff I’m planning to demonstrate.

I still need to slice up some onions before I go to bed. I’d rather cry tonight than tomorrow! (I’m a big believer in doing as much preparation ahead of time as possible.)

Shopping & Pizza

Today I went to Aldi for my weekly grocery shopping spree. I was able to get everything I needed and stay within my budget. When I returned home, I made a nice lunch for the family.

After Walter had already gone back to work, Mercy came over and we had a mother-daughter movie date. I had prepared a nice lunch for her too, and made her some homemade iced pumpkin spice chai. It was great to get to spend the afternoon together.

I made a huge “loaded” pizza for supper and Mercy and Daniel and Spencer all came over because we have other plans for Sunday. I always love having a full table.


My Diabetes Miracle #17: Weary in Well Doing

Yesterday I hit a bit of a bump in the road on my health journey. It wasn’t even a big bump, but I still want to talk about it. I spent much of the day in Jefferson walking everywhere, because all the places we wanted to go were in reasonable walking distance, and these days I no long feel the need to sit down every twenty feet or so.

A couple of hours after we got home, it was time for me to go to the gym for my regular evening walk—except that I didn’t want to. I wasn’t exhausted. I just didn’t feel like walking some more. I’ve been so good for so long. Maybe I was just tired of always doing the right thing.

But remember, when I started this adventure, I committed to doing whatever it takes for as long as it takes. So I got ready to go, climbed in my car, and drove to the gym.

During the very brief ride, I negotiated with myself. Since I had already walked so much earlier in the day, I should not have to walk the full distance on the track. Half as many laps would be plenty, right?

Then I saw the parking lot was really full, and I just drove right on past. It wouldn’t kill me to miss one night, right? I sometimes do miss a night when I have a schedule conflict. Of course, yesterday there was no conflict.

I got down to the end of the road and turned around. I managed to find a parking space in the gym parking lot so I had no excuse. I walked inside, still arguing with myself about how far I had to walk. I climbed up the stairs, took a deep breath, and set off on my walk. Every single time I came back to the starting point, I told myself, “I could stop now.” But I didn’t.

I kept putting one foot in front of the other, even though I really, really didn’t want to. I don’t know why I had such a hard time yesterday—but it was difficult. I had to call up every ounce of fortitude and perseverance I possess in order to walk the full distance I normally walk.

I knew this day would come—a day when I had a “legitimate” reason for not following through on my commitment, and no motivation either. And I knew how I would have to handle it. No excuses. No whining. Just knuckle down and get through it. I know myself too well to cut myself any slack here. Skipping yesterday would have led to skipping another day soon, and then a couple of days in a row, until exercise wouldn’t even be a habit anymore.

As I walked, I thought of all the parents I’ve seen who rush to help their kids when they experience difficulties. I’ve done it myself—jumped to help a kid accomplish something he could have done on his own with a little more effort. Or what about when a kid gets discouraged and we just let them quit whatever it is, instead of encouraging them to give it another try, to stick it out? How are they going to learn fortitude and perseverance?

There have been times in my past when things were really rough—times when I’ve questioned the likelihood of my survival and whether or not I even wanted to survive. But I was raised to believe that quitting is for sissies. So I didn’t. And because I didn’t quit those times when it really mattered, I had the strength to keep walking yesterday, when it was the last thing on earth I wanted to do.

Maybe it seems silly that I make such a big deal out of keeping my promises to myself, but it’s what’s got me to this point. It’s led to what I consider to be almost unbelievable success in turning my health around. So I’m going to go right on doing it. . . .