Saturday Soliloquy: More Changes!

On Thursday, our son and his wife had settlement on their new house. They’ve been with us since mid-February, so when they actually move in to their new place, I think it’s going to feel a bit empty here for a while. Not that I’m unhappy about all this, you understand. They’ll be only 20 minutes or so from us.

They won’t need a therapist. After all, they have MEEEEeeeeeee 🙂

The next big thing is that their shipping container will be delivered to their new place on Monday, and once that’s unloaded, they can start setting up housekeeping for themselves.

Mike came home from work a couple of days ago, feeling extremely tired, and a little dizzy. He’s been sleeping a lot, feels better now.

Yesterday, I came home from teaching at our homeschool co-op feeling extremely tired and a little dizzy. I had trouble staying awake on the drive home, so I started singing at top volume just to stay alert! I slept for two hours once I got home, then slept nearly nine hours overnight. Feeling better today, so far. Glad I’m not the one moving and setting up housekeeping Lots of work.

It’s been over 28 years since we moved into this house. That’s the longest I’ve ever lived in one place. I dread the very idea of packing up 28 years’ worth of STUFF. Terry and I both talk about starting to sort through and discard what we no longer use, but so far we’ve done very little in that direction. Maybe we’ll make it a New Year’s resolution. Uhuh 🙂 Seriously, my main motivation is not wanting my kids to have to deal with all of it. There’s a lot we could take care of now to save them a huge headache later.

I know we’re not alone in this. Feel free to tell me what you have done or plan to do if you’re in the same situation we are. Maybe I’ll get motivated to actually get started.

Saturday Soliloquy: “Tempus Fugit”

Time flies.

There are, though, days in which the hours seem endless. I remember thinking that each day before Christmas seemed twice as long as any other day of the year!

I also remember “old” people saying that the older you grow, the faster the time seems to go.

We know that’s just not true, but honestly, at my age I’m looking back on 75 years. I have children ranging from 44 to 52! My oldest grandchild is 25, the youngest 13. I was 25 just a few days ago! When did I become an OLD LADY?

You should see all the cartoons of old ladies that are available online. This particular drawing caught my eye:

That blue hair! Do older women still like to put a blue tint in their hair to make it look whiter? Of course, nowadays, young women use every color in the rainbow in their hair. I actually think it’s kind of cool, although I would never do it myself. I’m too lazy to keep it up 🙂 This one is just a tad too extreme, even for me!

Just to show you how I lose track of time: About ten years ago, I purchased a printer to use in my counseling office. It scans, copies, produces awesome colored prints of photos–oh, and it prints nicely, too. The other week, I was looking for ink cartridges for it. The salesperson who helped me told me that they wouldn’t be able to order that size cartridge, because that printer is obsolete. Very few people come looking for that size cartridge.

I was astonished. “But, I just bought that printer. . . . .well. . . . . oy. About ten years ago.” I still think of it as my NEW printer. But the world of electronics is always coming up with new stuff, so that sometimes it seems that the day after you buy it, it’s obsolete!

So, all this rambling has no particular place to go. Just thinking about time, and how dependent we are upon our clocks and schedules. Has to be that way, quite a bit of the time, or nothing would ever get done.

One of the things I look forward to in heaven is that time won’t matter any more.

Saturday Soliloquy: Busy Day

I usually write these in the morning. Just now realized I never got around to it today. I’ve been busy. Not with anything out of the ordinary, but lots of extra conversation involved. Takes up time, talking does.

I gave Terry a haircut. He doesn’t have a lot of hair, but it seemed to take forever. I used to cut his hair once a month, along with our three sons. Now it’s just Terry. Which is a good thing. If it were still the three boys as well, I’d STILL be cutting hair 🙂

I don’t even remember, really, what all I did today, Which gives me pause. Shouldn’t I remember? I mean, there was nothing earth-shaking about any of it, I’m sure.

Well. What an exciting start for a blog post.

Truth is, life just wasn’t very exciting today. Not every day is exciting, and that’s probably a good thing.

Tomorrow should be a good one, though.

I’ll tell you about tomorrow. Sometime 🙂

Saturday Soliloquy: Mats

Since I couldn’t do much else for the last month or so, I’ve been busy crocheting mats for the homeless. I figure it’s a good way to use the time when my back keeps me from too much other activity. Here’s my latest effort:

These mats are made of plastic shopping bags, donated by various church members and other friends. We cut the bags into 3-4″ strips, then loop them together to make “plarn”–plastic yarn. I can usually put out two mats in a month, but this is my third in that period of time. It is the 31st of all my mats. Our assistant pastor takes them and sees that they are distributed among the homeless in the Pottstown area. Many others make mats, and they are also distributed in homeless areas in and near Philadelphia. As the weather turns cooler, some will ask for a mat to use as a blanket. They are surprisingly warm, providing comfort where there isn’t much else that does provide comfort.

This ministry is called AIM, Angels in Motion. Here’s a link to their website:

You can easily go to You Tube for many videos on making plarn and making the mats. They can be done with a crochet hook (I use Size N) or with a peg loom, which gives a softer, more cushiony mat.

If you think you’d like to do this, there are a few things you need:

1. An ongoing supply of bags, People bring them to my church and leave them in a designated bin. I also get bags from other friends who know what I’m doing and want to help.

2. You need an outlet for your work. Sometimes the Salvation Army will take them to distribute. Homeless centers, pregnancy care centers, community centers are all possibilities. My assistant pastor knows a couple of police officers who keep a mat or two in their police cars to give to the homeless.

3. I use a rotary cutter (like you would use for cutting quilt pieces) and a craft cutting mat to make the strips. Some prefer to just use scissors.

If you enjoy more color than is normal with the donated bags, there are places at which you can buy bags for pennies apiece. I like the Store Supply Warehouse, but there are many other options out there. I have a friend who gets bags for me that make my mats a lot more fun to work on. I love color 🙂

Keep in mind that some states have already banned plastic bags, so this effort may not be something that will last a long time. In the meanwhile, it’s a great way to repurpose all those bags to benefit those who need the mats.

And–some people are creating all sorts of other things with plarn. Tote bags, purses, macrame plant pot holders, and so on.

Each mat is 36″ wide and 72″ long. Of course, you can tailor them however you need to. Each mat uses between 600-700 bags, on average. This will change depending on how you make them.

Please do your own research, if you are interested. There’s information all over the internet 🙂

I almost forgot: As the weather grows cooler, the homeless also need warm socks; if you have blankets you no longer use that would fit in a mat, that is most helpful; also, knit or crochet hats and mittens. It’s a great way to use up your yarn stash 🙂 Also, lots of people attach a gospel tract with each donation.

Saturday Soliloquy: October is so Beautiful!

I could post hundreds of pictures showing the glories of October. Today we have, once again, that gorgeous autumn blue sky, mild temperature and freedom from the haze, humidity and BUGS that hover all summer!

I’m always sorry to see this month come to an end, although it can last well into November, too.

Right now, I’m thinking about Halloween. I’m not going to dwell on the negatives. There are plenty of them, but we’ve heard it all before and I just don’t feel like going there today.

Memory takes me back to a more innocent time when we were kids. We made our own costumes out of old bedsheets or whatever else came to hand. We got creative without spending money. I don’t remember anyone going to a costume store just to go trick-or-treating. I’m sure it happened, but not in the neighborhoods where I grew up. Halloween was not high on the profit list back then, with lots of orange lights and yard decorations, never mind the theme parties and costumes–and masks! My word! I understand that today, Halloween is second only to Christmas in retail success. Amazing.

We were lucky to live in neighborhoods where the houses were close enough and numerous enough that we could walk to go trick-or-treating. NO PARENTS EVER took their kids from house to house! We’d have died of embarrassment! Best of all was the apartment buildings, where older folks looked forward to the little urchins invading their hallways and ringing their doorbells. Some of the best treats came from there–fresh-baked cookies and brownies, fruit, and loads of candy. And popcorn balls! Boy, did I love those things!

Half the fun was trudging back home with our loot, sorting it out, sometimes trading for candy we weren’t crazy about, like licorice. I like the red, but not the black. There was always someone who was more than willing to give me their red for my black 🙂

Back then, a regular-sized candy bar was only 5 cents. It was candy heaven for those of us who rarely got such a treat. Snickers, Three Musketeers, Milky Way, Hershey bars–all were plentiful, and I carefully preserved them to last for a long time.

In those days–roughly the early 1950s to early 60s–that’s all Halloween was about for young kids. It was fun, harmless, and innocent. Adults welcomed us, even looked forward to figuring out who was hidden behind the costumes and goofy masks. It never occurred to us to be afraid. There were so many of us out that night, and we all tended to stay in groups. It’s entirely possible that there were parents watching from a distance, but they never intruded or insisted on staying right with us.

It seems to me that we were allowed to cross streets on Halloween night, something that was not encouraged any other time. And we were expected to be back home when there were still lots of other kids out and about, heading back to their own houses. I don’t remember a specific curfew, but none of us had watches anyway. We just had a sense about when it was time to go home–probably when we couldn’t stuff any more treats into our bags or pillowcases!

We won’t have any little kids ringing our doorbell this year. We’ve lived here for over 28 years, and never had any trick-or-treaters. Parents drive their kids into town where there are developments with hundreds of houses; there are apartment buildings and blocks of older homes where people our age look forward to little kids yelling “Trick or treat!”

Stores are full of seasonal candy, bags of it with separately-wrapped pieces. I doubt anyone gives out home-baked goodies–too risky. And even if they did, parents would examine each child’s loot and toss out anything that could easily be tampered with.

It’s so sad. I hear stories every year about someone’s black cat disappearing. Worst-case scenarios do take place.

I’m very glad that I have nothing but good memories of Halloween. It was fun, innocent, a rare venture to beg for treats we would never ordinarily see.

It was just a lot of fun.

Saturday Soliloquy: A Relaxed Week

It’s been a quiet week. No medical appointments, nothing in particular going on–for me. It’s nice to have a week like that now and then.

THIS is relaxation 🙂

For our son and his wife, things are finally moving forward. She’s been working for a week now, and is learning a lot. At this point, she’s working from home. The company sent her a little computer and a couple of monitors, and she’s all set up in their room downstairs. We don’t see much of her from 7 a.m. until around 7 p.m. Long days, but the benefit on the other side is that there will be long breaks between jobs, barring unexpected circumstances.

Mike’s licensing for his job came through this week, and he’ll officially start working on Monday. He’s done lots and lots of training–they both have–to prepare for these jobs. Hours of study for which they have not been paid. But it should pay off in the long run, for both of them. Mike has one more license to earn before he can work as a financial advisor, which is his main goal.

This morning, they are off to look at a couple of houses. Now that they both have jobs, they’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage. I know they’re more than ready to be in their own home.

October is in its full glory this week. A little rain, but mostly those heart-squeezing days of the bluest skies ever, moderate temps, and low humidity. I LOVE October!

I sense that I’ve broken a barrier in my piano journey. Having been self-taught since I was ten, I’ve developed a lot of bad habits. Through the Piano by Pictures Academy program, I’ve gained an excellent teacher who is working patiently with me on things I should have learned years a go. This past month or two, we’ve been working very hard on rhythm and timing. Working with a metronome is new for me, but I’m learning a great deal from it. I’m working on a Beethoven sonata right now, and his compositions are ALL about precision! This is so good for me! I’ve played church music for so many years. Playing hymns and gospel songs for congregational singing gives a free-lancer like me a lot of latitude to embellish the written music. Not so with Beethoven. Here’s a video of the piece I’m learning, played by a virtuoso. I have a very long way to go 🙂

One of the most important things I’m working on is keeping my wrists UP, allowing more freedom of movement for my fingers, and improving accuracy. I love every minute of this. It’s like a reward at this end of my life for my 65 years of loving to play the piano even without the expertise I’ve always wished for.

Saturday Soliloquy: A Wonderful Week

Our son Ken was here for a week. He left around 5 a.m. and I’m already feeling the empty spot. Something snapped in my back on Saturday night, so I was a bit slow for a few days, but there were lots of activities–some of which I could actually enjoy in spite of my wonky back!

Monday, we went to the Philadelphia Art Museum where Ken pushed me around in a wheelchair, and we enjoyed some amazing paintings. On the way home, we had supper at The Perk in Perkasie. The photo above was taken there. And so was this one:

Mike on my right, Ken on my left

Other activities took place, but I stayed out of things like going for a 45-mile bike ride. There was a day I would have loved it, but not any more.

My favorite was probably the concert we attended in Lancaster on Thursday night. We went the the famous Shady Maple Smorgasbord for supper. The we enjoyed The Collingsworth Family. They give a great show. The matriarch, Kim, is a fabulous pianist with a great story to tell of how she began to play. I’ll post a video of her work in a few moments. Here we are at the concert: Thanks to Janan for the photos.

And here is Kim Collingsworth with her own arrangement of the Hallelujah Chorus:

King of Kings! Lord of Lords! Hallelujah!

Saturday Soliloquy: Learning to Wait

A couple of months ago, when I turned 75, someone asked me what I’ve learned along the way. My first thought was, “I’ve learned not to tell people what I’ve learned” 🙂 But the question was asked sincerely, and I told the person I’d have to think about that. My thinking was that I’ve learned a whole lot of stuff, but she was looking for some gem of wisdom and not an encyclopedia of random trivia.

I haven’t junked all the vital info in my brain yet, but this tickled my funny bone. Age does have its down side, but humor is a great antidote 🙂

Anyway, learning to wait. Remember when Christmas was only a month a way and you really didn’t think you could last that long? The waiting seemed like forever. Or your first date was coming up, and you stressed about it for days, excited and nervous and terrified all at once. Or your first pregnancy seemed to stretch way longer than nine months. Well, three out of four of mine actually did keep me waiting for an extra two weeks. Rotten kids 🙂

I’m sure you remember the agony and ecstasy of waiting for summer vacation, and then waiting for the first day of school. Whether you loved school or hated it, you waited.

Maybe you weren’t like I was. Maybe you lived in the moment and just enjoyed each hour of each day when you were a kid, not worrying yourself over tomorrow or next week or next year. I think you were a little bit weird if you were like that. It has taken me a long time to figure out how to do that. In fact, I’m waiting right now for our second-oldest son to be here some time this evening, and I still have that sense of anticipation that I had about Christmas when I was little.

I really have learned, however, to take each day as it comes and to let tomorrow take care of itself. I do plan, prepare, and try to cover all my bases for the next few days, or weeks, or months–depending upon the event–but I don’t stress about it any more.

A popular song some time ago had the words, “Don’t Worry, be Happy.”

Matthew 6:34 says, “Take no thought for tomorrow; sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

We waste a good deal of energy by thinking too much of the next day or the next. We need to learn to deal with each day as it unfolds, to enjoy everything we can, and to quit worrying about something we cannot change.

At this stage of my life, I find myself eagerly awaiting heaven. Whether I go to meet Him in the air or I die before His return is not something I can control. So I live my life the best I can, always with the thought in mind that He could come for believers at any moment, or I could live to a ripe old age before I take my final breath. Whichever way it happens, the biggest event in my future is when I see Jesus!

I can’t wait! But I can 🙂

Saturday Soliloquy: Ramblings

It’s another gorgeous September day. We’ve had the AC off for most of the week, doors and windows open. I LOVE this time of year!

There’s a breeze that is rustling the leaves on the oak tree about 25-30 feet outside our front door. I love that sound. And birdsong! In the morning, I love hearing the choir our feathered guests create. In the evening, it’s crickets and tree toads. Wonderful. Psithurism is the name of the sound you hear:

So, of course, I had to look up the etymology of psithurism. It’s a good example of onomatopoiea, the word we use to describe words that sound like what they mean; Pop, Slice, Slither and so on. Psithurism is from the Hellenic Greek, and means to whisper, with the connotation of slander. The “P” is not pronounced in the example I googled. It’s comparable, I think, to susurrus, which describe sound of silk when it rubs against itself: “The silk dress susurrated as the lady walked across the room.”

Now, aren’t you glad you got that little vocabulary lesson today 🙂 I love words. But you already know that if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time.

I got a phone call from a long-time friend while I was writing this post. She called to tell me that another long-time mutual friend died last night. He had pancreatic cancer. I’m so thankful that he’s right this minute experiencing the joys of being with the Lord. No more pain, no more illness, no more struggle. His wife and family will always miss him, and their mourning is just beginning. It will be a hard time for them, but they have the certainty of seeing him again.

That news certainly changed the direction of my thinking. My friend and I shared many experiences together, some sad and others absolutely hilarious. We also share a strong faith and trust in God, which has kept our friendship alive over time and distance. Jesus is the bond that never breaks.

And with that, I think I’m finished here for today.

Saturday Soliloquy: A Change

There’s been a welcome change in the weather. We finally got a couple of days of gentle rain, perfect for soaking the ground. We could use more, but we’re thankful for what we got.

For me, the change is wonderful. We’re able to turn off the AC, open the doors and windows, for at least part of the day until the temp outside goes up over 80. Fresh air in the house is a pleasant change. And using the AC less should bring down the electricity bill just a tad.

Of course, not everyone is happy. Some like it hot. Some don’t like the rain, although they know how much we needed it. For some, cooler weather, especially rain, brings on arthritic pain or pain from fibromyalgia. I have that, but I’m far more bothered by heat and high humidity than by cooler and wetter weather–until winter sets in and it hovers between 20 and 30 and lots of dampness. That’s miserable.

Aren’t we a mess, we poor humans? No matter what the weather, some complain and others rejoice. We’re certainly a hard bunch to please.

Right now, our skies are clear. The temp is 63, with a predicted high of 83. A perfect day, really, and I’m loving having the house open.

Except–of course, there’s always an “except”–for the noise from someone’s leafblower; someone else is hammering on some kind of project; and a very noisy plane of some sort went over the house a few minutes ago heading for the little airport nearby. Loud enough to wake the dead.

There’s always something 🙂

I can’t write this today without mentioning the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Her 70-year reign sets a new record. Elizabeth I ruled for 45 years; Queen Victoria for 63.5 years. There have been kings who reigned for 50+ years, notably Henry VIII, James VI of Scotland, and George III. George III was King during the American Revolution, and was almost universally considered to be a little bit off his rocker. All three of those men ruled for over 50 years.

But back to Elizabeth II. It’s been interesting to watch comments about her. Most of them praise her for her calm demeanor at all times, even during heartbreaking times. Always a lady, always appropriate, always distinguished. Of course, the monarchs of the United Kingdom don’t have much political influence nowadays; and Queen Elizabeth never, to my knowledge, went beyond the accepted norm in that department.

I am not a Royals Watcher. I don’t keep up with all the day-to-day doings of the various princes, etc. I did, however, admire and respect Elizabeth II. I don’t know what those who have excoriated her, even calling her “The Snake Queen,” know that I don’t. It doesn’t matter. There will always be the critics who have to try to influence everyone else to their chosen opinions. They have not influenced me.

Well. It’s been an interesting week, with all the dreadful nonsense coming out of our own government; the awful financial condition of our country; the ongoing political messes stemming from the Mar-A-Lago raid, and so on.

I’m watching the immigration invasion–over 5 million illegal immigrants under Biden’s watch. The governor of Texas announced publicly that he was going to bus them to D.C. and other major cities that have proclaimed themselves “sanctuary cities.” Now, the mayors of those cities are calling for assistance, saying that Gov. Abbot’s actions have created a health crisis in D.C. The mayor of Chicago is shipping immigrants to the suburbs. With all her rhetoric, she doesn’t know what to do with them, either. As long as they all stayed in the border states, these mayors were all in favor of the open border. Now, not so much.

Well. I don’t usually comment much on current events. Guess I broke that mold today. So I want to state, as I have before: If you disagree, that’s fine. At least on paper, we still have freedom of speech in America. But this is MY blog, and I will not publish a comment that is profane, obscene, or hateful. If you want to disagree, you are always free to start your own blog 🙂

And now I need to get busy on meal-planning and grocery-shopping. Mundane, but somewhat comforting in the ordinariness of it.