Broken Promise

Today, Mother Nature promised me rain and then didn’t deliver. When I was out shopping at Aldi this afternoon, the sky was filled with dark clouds, and the sound of thunder filled the air. We need rain so badly, and I was really looking forward to it. However, soon after I returned home, the clouds moved off and we got no more than a few stray drops of rain. Grrrr! So I had to water my plants after all. Normally we get a fair amount of rain in May, but not this year.

I had my class this morning, during which my students were dismayed to learn there is another whole week of class left! At least they get a three-day weekend thanks to Memorial Day.

I walked in the gym again and I think that’s going to be my strategy for the foreseeable future. I miss being outdoors, but I don’t miss the heat and humidity. I find I can walk much faster on the air-conditioned track, which means I get a better workout. And adding distance is a lot easier too—I just have to add one or more circuits around the track!

This evening Lucy and I went shopping at the “old” Walmart we used to go to before one opened much closer. She needed to find some work pants that “our” Walmart didn’t have. It’s so weird going back to the old store. It’s been totally reorganized and I don’t know where anything is anymore.

Lots of things on my “to-do” list for tomorrow . . .

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A Rite of Passage

Today I took my youngest son to the credit union to open his own checking and savings account. It’s hard to believe this is the last time I have to do this! Now all he needs is a job to keep that account healthy.

Today’s class was the student favorite—where they get to make (and eat) a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and write about the process. When I have a lot of girls in class, they sometimes refuse to eat the sandwich. I did not have that problem with an all-boy class!

I also ran some errands and started a sewing project. This evening it was still very warm so I took my walk early, while the university gym was still open, so I could take advantage of their air-conditioned track. It’s the most boring walk in the world, but I was able to keep up a good pace and did not get too hot. I’m sure I’ll walk there more often over the coming months.

A Routine Day

Well, today was definitely lower-stress—for me, anyway. My husband had to get up at 3:00 and be at work by 4:00 to train some new employees who work the 4:00 a.m. shift. He got off “early” this afternoon but had still worked over ten hours!

Meanwhile, I just had my class to prepare for and teach. One of my students came early for some catch-up instruction. I am loving this all-boy class.

This afternoon we had to take our brand-new ceiling fan back to Lowe’s. I had ordered it online and we picked it up on Sunday, only to find out that it was defective. When Walter tried to install it, he discovered that the motor did not spin freely. So they took it back with no problem, but then I had to come home and re-order it, which means another week of waiting for the living room to have an overhead light and airflow again.

I struggled with a headache all day today—once a common occurrence but now very rare and very unwelcome. Hoping to wake up feeling better in the morning . . .

The Coffee Flood of 2018

So, sorry about not posting last night. I was cramming for today. I had my paragraph class to teach this morning, and a presentation to give at our writers’ meeting tonight. Our fearless leader, Vickie, contacted me on Sunday to let me know her husband was in the hospital and thus she would not be able to lead tonight’s meeting. So I had two days to come up with something to say!

At the same time, I did not want to miss my watercolor time either—and it’s always the same day as the writers’ meeting. So I worked very hard last night and this morning to do my grading and class prep and pull stuff together for my presentation also, and by lunchtime my class was over and I could go to my watercolor thing with no guilt.

I’m not sure why I keep going to the watercolor sessions. I do not do it enough to ever get better, but I still enjoy it and I still have hope that at some point I will magically acquire some skill. Today there were just four of us, but one of them was an actual professional artist who had some great tips for us. It was relaxing and enjoyable, even though Lucy had borrowed my watercolors and not returned them to my art bag, so I had to borrow our hostess’s paints.

I had realized rather belatedly that since Vickie wouldn’t be at the meeting this evening, it would be up to me to provide coffee and water and snacks. Now as you know, coffee is not my thing. We have a coffee maker and a coffee grinder but I do not interact with either device at all in the normal course of events. So I asked Jasper to clean up the coffee maker for me. Then I packed it in my big basket with all the accoutrements and some snacks. I received instructions on how to make a pot of coffee. It seemed simple enough.

The first bump in the road came with the realization that the library had double-booked our meeting room. I couldn’t get in to set up before the meeting because another group was already meeting there!

Then, when we did get in, and I set up the coffee maker, it became obvious that the cord would not reach to any outlet in the vicinity. By an amazing coincidence, our chaplain, Jerry, had an extension cord in his car, so within a few minutes I was in the coffee-making business . . . or was I?

I filled up the reservoir, put in the coffee filter, turned on the coffee maker—and disaster ensued. Coffee spurted out everywhere except into the carafe that sat waiting for it. Jerry started giving his devotional and I looked over and saw the coffee maker sitting in a lake of coffee. I had to rush over to do something before we had a coffee waterfall onto the carpeted floor.

Fortunately, I had brought a hefty stack of paper napkins with me. I needed almost all of them. While Jerry spoke, I was sopping and mopping and throwing away the sodden napkins every few seconds while the infernal machine continued to spew out piping hot coffee. I realized what had happened. The plastic basket which holds the filter (and lets the water out only through the hole in the middle) had not been put back into the coffee maker when Jasper cleaned it for me. So the water dripped through the filter all over the place.

When the machine finally had sucked up all the water and spewed scalding coffee out all over the counter, there was enough in the carafe for maybe two or three cups of coffee. I wiped and wiped and wiped! And after all that, only one of my six victims was brave enough to actually drink the coffee. Everyone else opted for water.

Needless to say, I was not at my best when it came time for me to speak. I was, as Anne of Green Gables would say, “well in body although considerably rumpled up in spirit.” I blundered through my talk and that’s about all I can say about it. Everyone was very kind.

All Creatures of Our God and King

All Creatures of Our God and King

Francis of Assisi

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

Refrain

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!

Refrain

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.

Refrain

Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.

Refrain

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!

Refrain

And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.

Refrain

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!

Refrain

 

Congratulations All Round!

It’s been a whirlwind couple of days. Yesterday I was able to get almost completely packed up before my class started at 10:30. Class ended at 11:30, and I was pulling out of the driveway at about noon.

It was supposed to take just under five hours to reach my destination in Oklahoma, but thanks to roadwork it took five and a half. I just had time to check into my hotel, change clothes, and dash back out to the car to drive to Oklahoma Baptist University.

Two young ladies had just graduated that afternoon—two young ladies who are dear to my heart. These sisters were both in my beloved Literary Society all the way through high school, and also took my English classes. When I received the invitation to their graduation party, I knew I had to try and make it.

It was so good to see them both and to have a chance to visit with the whole family (we went to church together for many years). I am so proud of both girls and am confident they will excel in whatever they do.

When I returned to my hotel room, I had every intention of going to bed early after a nice hot cup of tea, but instead I got sucked into a documentary about Princess Diana, whose wedding I watched 37 years ago, right after getting back from my own honeymoon. I knew from the time they got engaged that Charles did not love her, but I always wondered if she knew it back then. (She did.) Still, I got up at 2:30 in the morning to watch the wedding on the TV in the house we were house-sitting in at the time.

So anyway, after staying up till midnight, it was hard to wake up at 4:30 this morning to watch Diana’s son Harry get married. At least I was in a hotel where I could just stay in bed to watch! I really enjoyed it. When they were safely hitched, I took a nap before getting up to have tea and check out.

The drive between here and Shawnee, Oklahoma, is stunningly beautiful and goes through several Native American tribal territories. Much as I long to visit (or revisit) foreign lands, I readily admit that my own country is full of awe-inspiring natural beauty. It was kind of an emotional trip because I was listening to the entire soundtrack of Les Misérables as I drove, and part of my drive was along the Indian Nation Turnpike, and I came to a toll station right in the middle of Jean Valjean’s touching death scene. There were tears. Listening to the music made me want to read the book again, even though I’ve read the unabridged version three times already. I still think it’s one of the most powerful redemption stories ever told.

When I got back to town, I stopped at a couple of places before continuing on home. It was good to walk back into my own house! After recovering from the trip (with a cup of tea, of course!) I went on my walk and watered my plants. Jasper did it for me yesterday, and they have grown visibly!

A Sale, a Class, a Meeting, and a Shopping Trip

This morning I was up early and drinking tea early to fortify me for the forty-five-minute drive ahead. Yesterday, my friend Kathy texted me about an estate sale starting today. She had seen some mention of blacksmithing tools and thought we might be interested. Because I had a class later in the morning, I knew Jasper and I would need to be out the door by 7:00 a.m. so we would arrive at the sale as it was opening and still have time to get back.

The plan worked perfectly. We arrived at the ranch about ten minutes before the sale started. We were allowed to walk around and see the stuff that had been set outside, but no one could enter the barn before 8:00. There were quite a few people there before us. One of the first things we saw was a great antique anvil—but alas, it cost more than double Jasper’s budget. And the antique blacksmith’s fan was even more expensive, which was not surprising, because it’s a genius design and no one makes them anymore.

Almost immediately I spotted a vise, which was the one tool Jasper wanted and needed the most. The price was right, so I told him to stand beside it and be ready to grab it when 8:00 hit. There were also two specialty blacksmith tongs that he wanted, so when the sale opened, we picked up those three things and headed into the barn. Jasper was hoping to find a specific kind of hammer—and they had exactly what he was looking for! The icing on the cake was finding a functional angle-grinder, which was also on his wish list but which he hadn’t expected to be able to afford.

Fifteen minutes after arriving at the ranch, we were walking back to the car with our loot and Jasper was one VERY happy boy. And on the way home, I stopped near a railroad track where he had seen some waste steel lying around. He hauled a largish steel bar into the trunk and couldn’t wipe the smile off his face for the rest of the morning!

I couldn’t help thinking about the estate sale though. The man who died clearly loved to fix and make things. So many tools! And hunting and fishing equipment! I wondered what kind of man he was. Did he love his family? Did he have a sense of humor? Was he kind and generous? I’ll never know. His life was reduced to a large collection of “stuff’ with price tags on it. It’s a sobering thought, isn’t it? What will people be able to deduce about me from the stuff I leave behind?

Meanwhile, I had to rush to prepare for my class which started at 10:30. This is my paragraph class which I usually teach every summer. It will run until June 1. I think this is the first time I have had all boys in the class.

This afternoon I had a meeting with a retired professor who had contacted me about a manuscript he is hoping to publish. He is leaving town for several months, but I will be working on editing his work while he is gone.

After that I came home and made some pizza for the family. We had some leftover smoked turkey so I made my usual sourdough crust, but then I slathered it with barbeque sauce, added the chopped-up turkey, and topped it with mozzarella. It was a big hit! Mercy and Daniel were here to enjoy it with the others.

While the rest of the family ate their pizza, I drove up to Aldi to do the grocery shopping since I won’t have time tomorrow. It turns out Thursday evenings are a great time to avoid the crowds. I just don’t like going out in the evening!

When I got home I still had to water my garden and go for my walk. I feel like my speed might already be picking up a bit.

So today was busy. I did more than I wanted to do, but it all needed to be done. Tomorrow I won’t be posting because I’m making a quick trip and won’t have my computer with me. Full report on Saturday!

The Posh Haircut

When Mary was visiting, I mentioned that I needed a haircut, and that led to some of my kids banding together to give me a gift card to a classy salon for Mother’s Day. To be honest, I was a little taken aback at first. My hair care, apart from regular shampooing, amounts to plunking down $20 at the Walmart salon a couple of times a year to have it trimmed. I haven’t been to an actual nice place for well over 30 years.

But since I did need a haircut, and since my kids wanted me to go someplace nice, I figured, why not? Why shouldn’t I go and enjoy myself?

So, my appointment was at 10:00 this morning. I was the only customer at that hour. Apparently Wednesday mornings aren’t a terribly busy time in the salon business. My adorable stylist was a sweet girl named Zona. She kept offering me a bottle of water to drink. I wonder if I looked dehydrated?

Since the whole experience was a splurge for me, I paid extra for “deep conditioning” and I’m so glad I did, because otherwise I would not have had the experience of sitting in a comfy chair with five heat lamps pointed at my head! It looked like some kind of alien brain-sucking apparatus. It felt wonderful and relaxing though.

Zona was very careful with my hair and did a great job on the cut. My hair is kind of in an in-between stage. Nearly half of it fell out during the fall, and now it is regrowing, so the ends of my hair are very thin and wispy, and there are many short new hairs growing in. I had to have four inches cut off in order to have any semblance of healthy-looking hair.

I normally don’t bother having my hair blow-dried at Walmart, but it was part of the deal here, so I just sat and enjoyed it. My hair looked very straight and fabulous when she was done. Now I’m debating with myself about whether or not I should get a hair dryer. I have always just allowed my hair to air dry.

I was very happy with how everything turned out, and may even save up to go there again, but I’ve gotta say that for me, it was like walking into another world. This is the kind of place where women go and expect to pay a couple hundred dollars a month just on their hair. I do not belong in that world, but maybe I can try to visit every now and then! This is the best haircut I’ve had in decades. I’m so glad my kids thought of giving me this experience.

A Visitor & A New Dress

Today was one of those days that seemed pretty productive, yet I don’t have much to say about it. I ran errands and did more organizing. Jasper had his math tutoring session. Lucy’s bridesmaid dress finally arrived and it is beautiful! It also fits her perfectly, so I must have measured correctly.

This afternoon my friend Darlene came over for tea and as usual I talked her ears off. She is such a good listener and sometimes I feel like I’m taking advantage of her.

I went for a walk again this evening and as I feared, it was harder than last night because my feet ached a little before I even started. However, I made it all the way around without stopping and kept up a very steady (but also very slow) pace. I’m hoping these walks will help with my sleep issues also. Last night I forgot to take my usual sleep supplements but I still managed to fall asleep before 2:00 a.m., which is a real win for me.

I spent the evening reading through a manuscript which I might be helping with. I am enjoying it.

Hallelujah!

Today the doctor finally called to let me know that Lucy’s CT scan showed no sign of cancer. There is just one lymph node which appears to be a little inflamed due to Lucy’s gallstones. So there has been a lot of rejoicing in our house today!

Yesterday I treated myself to something special for Mother’s Day. In the afternoon I drove to the town of Marshall, which is where Lina went to college. Her former piano professor is retiring, and to celebrate his amazing career, several of his former students came back to the university to put on a recital in his honor. One of them was Lina’s dear friend Jennifer. Another was a former classmate of Lina’s and once a student of mine too.

Well. It was sublime. After suffering through no less than three botched renditions of Londonderry Air on Saturday, I needed some musical excellence. This recital exceeded my hopes, as I knew it would. Dr. Sulton is nothing if not a stickler for excellence. I reveled in pieces by Dvorak, Bach, Liszt, Ginastera, Brahms, Saint-Saëns, Schumann, and Rachmaninoff. All that beauty flooded into my soul and I couldn’t stop smiling.

The opening duet by Dvorak was a tour de force by a former student and Dr. Sulton himself, who stepped in almost at the last moment for another student who injured her finger. Later there was a fabulous rendition of Danse Macabre on two grand pianos. I admit I have a particular weakness for this piece and I was so tickled it was part of the program.

So anyway, it was well worth giving up part of my usual Sunday nap for. I had to rush through the reception but at least I got to hug Jennifer and Natalie and congratulate Dr. Sulton. I showed him the message that Lina had sent me about how grateful she is to him. He hates being the center of attention but he bore it bravely. It’s definitely the end of an era at that university.

On the way home, I tried to initiate a video chat with Lina (I have a phone holder on the dashboard) because it was already late for her, but we couldn’t get it to work, so she just called me on the phone and we were able to have a nice conversation for at least a little while before she headed to bed.

Mercy and Lucy teamed up to make the dinner I’d requested—my favorite spinach salad, and for once even Janet was able to join us. Mercy and Daniel and Janet left shortly after supper, and I was planning on watching a movie with whoever remained, but then Flynn was free for a video chat so instead I talked to him and met his girlfriend and then Mary eventually joined the conversation also. So it actually was a pretty great Mother’s Day.

Today the fun continued with a video chat with Lina since we didn’t get long to talk yesterday, and also a gorgeous bouquet from Flynn arrived. Added to the lovely roses from Daniel, I am now reveling in floral riches!

I also started organizing my cake decorating supplies because before long I am going to need them when I start making the flowers for Mercy’s wedding cake.

This evening, I went for a walk. Walking used to be my favorite exercise, until the arthritis in my “bad” foot made it impractical. But today, I just wanted to see how I’d do, now that there is so much less weight on my feet. I made it all the way around our campus “loop,” which is about a mile. I have walked that route literally hundreds of times in the past, but for the last few years I have not been able to walk that far—until now. It is a small victory, perhaps, but a victory nonetheless. My foot hurts now. I’m still not sorry I went.