A Day of Learning

I’m one of those weird people who loved school. And now, all these years later, I still love it when I get to spend a day taking classes and learning stuff.

This morning I was up early boiling water, getting dressed, and carefully packing the salad I made last night. I made enough tea to put in my thermos and my travel mug. I knew the chances of tea being offered at the writers’ conference were very slim. I was out the door a little before 7:00.

My travel mug is so good that my tea was still piping hot after my drive of over an hour to get to the community college where the conference was held. This was a new conference for me—quite local and certainly the smallest one I have attended. However, there was no deficiency in the quality of the classes offered. As Spencer’s buddy Britton would say, they were “top qual.”

Two of the speakers were people I know, so I expected good presentations from them, but the others were excellent also. I even won a door prize—a bucket full of romance novels, along with a drink and some popcorn.

My lunch strategy worked perfectly. I got my box lunch (a sandwich) and removed the meat and cheese to add to the salad I’d brought from home. The chips and cookie I brought back for my husband. I could just as easily have fasted, but I’ve found that sometimes it makes people uncomfortable when everyone else is eating, so I just made sure I had food I could eat.

After lunch we had a couple of excellent classes—but I found myself struggling to stay alert after a poor night’s sleep and early rising. It was several minutes before I had my “duh” moment when I remembered that I had brought a thermos of nice hot tea to deal with that very situation! I was so glad I did. The tea helped.

It started raining after lunch and rained for the rest of the day, at times very heavily. I got pretty wet walking out to my car when the conference ended, and had to drive more slowly and carefully than usual because in some places there was enough water on the road to make controlling the car a challenge.

I made it home in time to cook supper. My sinus infection has returned, so I’ve been medicating myself all day and am hoping for some improvement tomorrow—because I have a ton of grading to do and right now I don’t feel alert enough to do it . . .

Grocery Shopping & An Ugly Cake

Today was my grocery shopping day, and for the first time since my surgery I didn’t have someone to come with me and do the heavy lifting. However, I am still not allowed to do any heavy lifting. So the process was a little more time-consuming than usual. Instead of loading all my groceries into bags while still in the store, I wheeled my cart out to the car and loaded them into the trunk. Some I put into bags and some were “loose.” Then, when I got home, no one was home to help me unload, so I made many, many trips between the house and car to at least get all the perishables brought in and put away. Later on my husband brought the rest in.

My Friday student didn’t come today, so I was free to go to Walmart to pick up a few last things. I made a big batch of spaghetti sauce (and the spaghetti, of course). I made a salad and some garlic bread. And I baked a cake. It’s a pound cake, so it didn’t need fancy icing. However, the glaze I made was too thin and it ran down the sides very quickly. My thought was to thicken up the remainder of the glaze and add a second coat. This time it was too thick. The cake was very ugly. It must have tasted all right, though, because I didn’t hear any complaints.

Socializing

I know I often mention the fact that I am an introvert—and I am. I just happen to be an introvert who really loves people, as long as I don’t have to deal with too many of them at once.

So today was a great day, because this morning my neighbor Kim came over for tea and we had a nice visit until lunchtime. And this afternoon my friend Robin came over for tea, and then we went to our favorite bookstore/coffee shop together too—where I happily drank even more tea!

I finally took a big bag of books to the bookstore so I could start my “store credit” account, since I go there so often—and since I really need to weed out my massive book collection. I spent some of my store credit before leaving the store, actually. When I went upstairs to check out the poetry shelves, I found a new addition: a slim volume of A.E. Housman poems that was published in 1936. I like Housman. The book was a little pricy, because it was an old hardback, but my store credit brought it within my price range. So I walked into the store with probably about 30 books and walked out with 2 (I also found one for my husband). It could have been worse!

What with all the visiting, I got quite a lot of knitting done on my new project. So far I am enjoying it, but it hasn’t gotten tedious yet . . .

The Mint Lady

An experience I had a few days ago keeps bothering me, so I figured I should probably write about it. I went to Hobby Lobby to buy some beads I needed for my sewing project. I had Lucy with me, so I told her I’d be in and out very quickly while she waited in the car.

Except that I wasn’t. I found my beads quickly enough, and made my way to the front of the store, only to find that there were very long lines at the two open checkout lanes. I took my place in the closest line, and found myself behind a lady who was quite obviously a church lady. You know the type—a woman of my own vintage, nicely dressed and radiating moral superiority. She was buying two bags of mints for a bridal shower, which she made sure everyone knew right away. I think maybe she was hoping someone would offer to let her cut in front of them, but no one did.

After explaining the reason for her mint purchase, she went on to complain about the fact that you can no longer get these mints in grocery stores. (I have also noticed this phenomenon and have wondered about it.) The complaining escalated from there. This woman did not want to have to wait any longer to buy her mints, and she let everyone at the front of the store know about it.

She loudly commented on the incompetence of the store manager. She criticized the courteous young clerks who were checking people out so slowly. Her frustration and displeasure leaked out in one toxic remark after another. My own desire to get out of the store increased considerably because I just wanted to get away from her.

A clerk who was about to go off shift saw the situation and opened up another lane next to my lane. She started picking people from my line that she thought she could check out quickly, since she had to leave soon. She did not pick the mint lady. She picked a couple of people who were in front of us, and then she skipped over the mint lady (who was now almost to the front of the line) and picked me.

While I was being checked out, the mint lady finally made it to the cashier and checked out about the same time. She flounced past me on her way out of the store, broadcasting her offended sensibilities all the way. My sweet clerk called out to her to have a great day, then turned back to me and rolled her eyes as she handed me my receipt. I think everyone in the front of the store breathed a sigh of relief when that woman walked out the doors, sparing us any more of her pernicious pronouncements. I’m kind of surprised no one applauded her exit.

I was tempted to apologize to the girl who checked me out: “I’m so sorry, but that lady does not represent me as a Christian, and I hope you don’t judge churchgoers everywhere based on her behavior.”

I returned to my car feeling discouraged. That woman, who should have been radiating God’s love and compassion, instead went into a mildly annoying situation and made it unbearable for everyone around her. People who had been patiently waiting in line became desperate people whose goal in life was just to get away from the mint lady.

Although I don’t think I’ve ever been as verbally obnoxious as this woman, I know there have been times when I have sighed in frustration when stuck in a long line. I now regret those times. It’s nobody’s “fault” when a bunch of people need to check out at the same time. Nowadays, I am more likely to let people in front of me if they seem to be in a hurry, because if it’s that important to them I’m happy to help them out. I’d much rather cheer someone up by letting them go first than have them simmering with impatience behind me.

The older I get, the more highly I value kindness, compassion, and patience. Did the mint lady’s mints taste any better because of the way she behaved in the store? Of course not. But a rather large group of people had to endure several very unpleasant minutes because she couldn’t just chill out and wait her turn.

Think how different the experience would have been if she had been positive and friendly; if she had been polite and appreciative of the young cashier instead of trying to humiliate him. She would have left a wake of smiles behind her as she exited the store, instead of disgusted eye-rolls. As I always remind myself—kindness and courtesy are free! It costs nothing to brighten someone else’s day. I hope I never am the “mint lady” in someone else’s life.

Wednesday

I always look forward to Wednesdays now because after my Wednesday student comes, I am free for the rest of the day and can get other things done and still have time for a nap if needed.

I am beginning to make plans for next week’s road trip and am working on some projects around the house as well. I took Jasper to youth group and then came home and waited for Lina’s return. She had a positive experience at the school in Houston and they are talking about having her back to teach again another day.

I finished one knitting project and started another. Both are prayer shawls which will be given away. After that I will make something new for myself.

And I finished reading the book I’ve been trying to read in between all the reading I have to do to keep up with my students. Tomorrow I get to be sociable.

Teaching

This morning I was busy preparing for and teaching my Tuesday student. Lina was teaching too—substitute teaching at the school where she originally did her student teaching!

The weather started warming up again today after a few days of unseasonable cold—but I remained cold anyway. I occasionally have days like that and am very grateful for cardigans.

Lina came home for a few minutes this afternoon before heading off to Houston, where she has a job interview tomorrow at a private school. But first, she drove down and had supper tonight at the Hobbit Café—where we had a very memorable meal back in 2005 after viewing the Lord of the Rings exhibit.

Lina has two more interviews coming up in the next week or so, and we’d really appreciate your prayers that God would make it clear where He is leading her.

A Faire & A Birthday

It seems like a lot has happened in the last couple of days. But first things first: today is my son Flynn’s thirtieth birthday! We were so happy to be able to have a video chat with him and Tiffany this evening. We will have some sort of belated celebration when they are here with us for Easter.

Yesterday we had an unusual church service. Another church has been using our church building for the last few months, while looking for a new place of their own. Yesterday we had a joint service with both congregations together. It was good to see the sanctuary so full! I still didn’t know any of the music, though . . .

After the service there was a big barbeque dinner, but we didn’t stay for it because Lina and I planned to go to the Renaissance Faire, which opened this weekend. (The one closest to us.) So we rushed home and I hurried to get supper going in the crockpot and get into some garb. Garb is a bit of a dilemma for me. All my garb is way too big. So I wore a dress that I made for Mary many years ago, which is also too big, but less big than my own stuff.

I also wore a snood over my hair because that would have been period appropriate—married women did not wear their hair down at all. But I struggled with it because I don’t like the way I look in a snood! It was a chilly day and I actually ended up needing my cloak for much of the day.

So anyway, we drove over there and bought a late lunch before separating to browse around the various booths. It is always fun to walk around and see familiar faces. Lina and I met up again to enjoy two of our favorite music acts—Faire to Middlin’ and Triskelion. Triskelion confirmed that I am their biggest fan—I’ve been enjoying their music for 10 years now! So of course we took a photo:

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I love little faires like this where you can really get to know people. Later in the afternoon I got to watch a demonstration of marbling on fabric—something I have always wanted to do. Now I want to do it more!

I watched the evening joust as well. They have the same plot but different actors this year. Mordred is still much more fun to cheer for than Galahad. I don’t actually think of it as a joust at all. It is just a play on horseback. But I sure do miss real sport jousting.

Lina had no interest in the theatrical joust, so she followed one of the lane musicians and I joined her after the joust was over. Soon after that, we headed home so we could finish making supper. It was a great afternoon.

Today I had my class to prepare for and teach. We are close to the end of the semester and my students are getting rowdy! Only two more classes to go! So I am putting out the word about my summer classes and soon I should know how busy I’m going to be this summer.

All Things Bright & Beautiful

All Things Bright and Beautiful

Cecil F. Alexander

All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.

Each little flower that opens, Each little bird that sings,
He made their glowing colors, He made their tiny wings.

All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.

The purple headed mountains, The river running by,
The sunset and the morning That brightens up the sky.

All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.

The cold wind in the winter, The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden, He made them every one.

All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.

The tall trees in the greenwood, The meadows where we play,
The rushes by the water, To gather every day.

All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.

He gave us eyes to see them, And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty, Who has made all things well.

All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful: The Lord God made them all.

On the Mend

I am happy to report that I felt much better today after sleeping in this morning. Walter and Jasper went to their yard jobs, and Lina went out driving for Lyft. I realized I didn’t have some beads I wanted for my sewing project, so I combined several errands, taking Lucy to Walmart and a drive-through for lunch, and continuing on to Hobby Lobby to buy my beads.

Shortly after returning home, I left again to attend a book signing, although I already have the book and it has already been signed. I like to support my fellow authors when I can. Plus I had a great cup of tea and some good conversation!

The rest of the day has been divided between sewing on beads and grading papers. I finished the beads (because the deadline is tomorrow) but still have some grading to do. I’m making some good headway though.

A Slow Day

It’s been kind of a rough day, because I’ve been struggling with a very painful sinus infection, but I still had to get stuff done. I went grocery shopping this morning and Jasper went with me because I’m still not allowed to carry heavy bags. I kind of miss the days when he used to go with me every week!

After that I had to take a nap to recover before I went out again. I still needed to go to the bank and the post office and Walmart. Most of the rest of the day I haven’t done anything more strenuous than reading, because moving my head hurts. I haven’t felt well enough to work on my grading, which is what I really need to do. I’m hoping I’ll be able to do it tomorrow.

I did spend time doing a little bit of hand sewing, and will try to finish that tomorrow as well. Looks like the next couple of months are going to be very busy and I need to start making plans to fit everything in.