Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bella


This is Bella.  She is a 6-month-old goldendoodle, or something like that - one of those eco-friendly hybrids.  I recently dogsat for Bella, and we became fast friends.  She has three favorite games:  Chase Me, Come Find Me Then I'll Pounce On You, and Fetch: The Two-Player Version.  They're all pretty self-explanatory, except for her version of fetch, which is the same version all dogs play when they haven't quite learned yet, or won't admit they know, that the whole point of the game is for the dog to run around, not the human.

Bella LOVES mischief.  The stairs to the basement at her house aren't carpeted and are a bit slick, so she's afraid to go down them.  Comet, a cockatiel, lives in his cage in the basement, so I carried Bella down the stairs a few times so that we could play and keep Comet company.  When I first met Bella her mom told me about the stairs, but I thought B. was only scared to go down them, not up them.  So after our first play session in the basement I went back upstairs, and Bella sat at the foot of the stairs and whined.  "Come on, Bella, you can do it."  Whine.  "Come on, girl!"  Whine.  Convinced that she just wanted a free ride, I decided to wait her out and puttered around upstairs.  She continued to whine, trying out a few variations to see if one was pitiful enough for me to come get her - then she was silent.  I looked, and she was no longer at the foot of the stairs.  Uh-oh - that got my attention.  I immediately headed down the stairs - "Bella?  What are you doing?  Okay, I'll carry you up.  Bella?  Bel-" as I walked past the pool table, she rushed out from under it and "attacked" me, and Game #2 was born.  I'd been out-smarted by a 6-month-old dog.  Little stinker.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

it's baaaaack...

My uncle (the one I now live with) gave me this necklace for Christmas years ago as a joke.  (It's very faux.)  Isn't it...unique?  Let's hope so.


The thing made a few rounds to various family members, including a male cousin, but I had blissfully forgotten about it for the last year or more.  Then last night, my aunt handed me a gift and said, "Here's your present," and I said, "Oh, thank you!  You didn't have to do that...AAAAAGGGGGHHHH!!!!"  Okay, I laughed, but it was horrifying.  Now I have a whole year to keep it, remember I have it, remember where I put it, and figure out a way to give it back.  Suggestions welcomed.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

could grandpa be spoiled?

Poor Grandpa.  He's extra chatty today and I'm trying to buy car insurance online.  I can barely do that with no distractions, much less the TV and chit chat.  But I want to be with him - we both like that - so I just keep saying "Huh?" and "What?" and Grandpa keeps repeating everything.  He's resting now - I think I wore him out.

He had plenty of energy to demand his dessert, though.  When he finished his soup he said, "I think I'll have some white on brown."  "Okay, just a minute," I said, as I - okay, at this point I was just waiting for a picture to load on Facebook.  Grandpa allowed a minute to go by, then started banging his soup cup on his TV tray.  "I'm coming, hang on!" I said, and he laughed.

After lunch he worked on a word search puzzle.  "Okay, now I'm looking for 'pinch.'"  "You need a pinch?" I said.  "Yes.  I mean NO!"  Later:  "I can't find 'howl'.  I need 'howl' and 'pinch'."
"Are you asking me for help or just talking?"
"I'm howling for help."
I looked for a bit and pointed to the H in 'howl'.  He circled the word then said, "Now 'pinch'."
I pinched him gently on the arm.  "Hey!  I didn't say pinch me!"
"You said 'pinch'!"
"Yeah, well you'd better watch out when I find it."

middle age is...

Middle age is when you have to yell to your Grandpa because he's hard of hearing, and he has to start yelling back.

Middle age is when you're young enough to play Twister with your niece and nephew, and you're old enough to feel it the next day.



(I'm the one with her rear in the air.  That's niece and nephew's mama on the right!)


Monday, December 20, 2010

stuff I saw that made me cringe

I was so proud of my fellow Wichita drivers the other night as we all drove, cautiously, through the flashing yellow lights instead of stopping at them - good job, everyone!  Then there were two sets of lights working normally, then there were two sets of flashing red lights, which about half of my fellow drivers drove straight through, and I couldn't blame them!  Are the EMTs bored?  Does the study have anything to do with who has the stupidest ideas in the city planning department?

Naturally, since the city's playing mind games, today we stopped again at all the yellow lights.  And even though I'm wearing my monkey slipper socks that my niece gave me because they make me happy, I lost it, threw my arms out, and shouted my wisdom to the universe, "IT'S YELLOW!  KEEP GOING!!!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

stuff I saw yesterday that made me think

A very thin man with a long-ish white beard walking and pulling a small oxygen tank.  I've seen him pass by Mom & Dad's house before when I'm here with Grandpa.  Yesterday he stopped and spent some time blowing his nose and wiping his face with a few handkerchiefs or large Kleenexes.  I wondered how old he was.  What is his story?  Does he have AIDS?  Cancer?  I admired his strength and persistence in taking regular walks, especially in cold weather.

One of those big flashing traffic signs that finally explained why some stoplights had been flashing for a few days:  "TRAFFIC LIGHTS...FLASHING YELLOW...FOR STUDY."  Good, I thought, I hope they're studying the people in front of me who keep stopping at them!  Since when did Wichita become a city full of overly-cautious drivers?

On the trial cable channel, a teenage boy (the defendant? a friend of the boy who was killed?), lower lip quivering as he listened to the prosecutor give his closing argument in the murder trial, sitting directly in front of a man, head back, sleeping with his mouth open.  So near to each other, yet at that moment, so far apart.

A swan sitting in the grass along a city street between the curb and a sidewalk.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

a few new "boys"

I've been so thankful to have a few new "boys" to play with and cuddle since losing my own.  My cousins have 2 boys (3 if you count the human).  Once in a while the dogs come play over here.  Diesel is a toy fox terrier who loves to fetch.  Or maybe he feels compelled to fetch.  Aren't most terriers Type A?




Again!

I bought that toy for my own dogs - they loved squeaky toys, but you have to push hard to make this one squeak, so they decided it wasn't worth the trouble.  I'm glad it's finally getting some love!

Axl is a doberman with a heart that is about ten times bigger than his brain, I think - which is why I like him so much.  His favorite game appears to be catch the shadow.


When we first met, I couldn't for the life of me figure out why the dog kept staring at the ground.  Then I threw the toy for Diesel and saw Axl move out of the corner of my eye.  I moved again, and he pounced.


After he pounces, Axl tries to bite the shadow - keeps slamming his nose into the ground - then digs at it.  A couple of times I was having so much fun watching him "attack" and dig that I didn't notice the hole he was creating.  That's a big no-no.  I stopped him, checked to see if anyone was looking, then shoved some of the dirt and grass back.  If my uncle asks, it was a giant squirrel.


Axl is smart enough to figure out where I live, though, which happens to be a former sun room at the back of the house.  So when I stop playing and come inside, Axl comes to the window and watches what I'm doing and whines for me to come back out and play.  Of course, I love it.


To see more of Diesel and Axl, and the most ridiculously cute baby I've ever seen - oops, I mean one of the most; your baby was cute, too - visit http://thedreheradventure.blogspot.com/ 


Bronco is a mastiff who belongs to a student's family.  I will never forget meeting him; they live out in the "country" and the dogs roam freely.  I arrived for our first tutoring session, parked my car, leaned down to get some stuff from the floor on the passenger side, sat back up, and found a dog standing right outside my car door, staring me straight in the eye.  Having a huge dog suddenly appear at eye level can be a bit of a shock, so I sat there for a few stunned moments until I heard N's mom yell to his brother to go rescue me.  But the only danger I was in was getting slobbered on.  Bronco is extremely mellow - he just oozes good vibrations, man....  He's also very loveable, and hard to resist.  He likes to shove his head into your lap and against your chest so that you'll pet him.  He's done this a few times while I've been working with N. at the table, and I respond as if I have the attention span of a two-year-old: "The first thing we're going to do today, N, is-....Look, a doggy!"


And here's a couple of self-portraits of another favorite boy of mine, my student N.


He's smarter than he looks.

more "fun" with grandpa

Apparently my relationship with Grandpa has progressed (digressed? regressed?) to the point that we no longer need to greet each other with pleasantries.  Yesterday he greeted me with "ugh," today when I said hello he looked up at me, smiled, and belched.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"fun" with grandpa

This morning as I walked in behind Grandpa, Dad said to him, "Somebody's here!"  Grandpa said something that sounded suspiciously like "ugh," and I raised my eyebrows in an "excuse me?" look.  Dad said, "You'd better be nice to her!" and Grandpa said to me with enthusiasm, "Why hello!  You look natural!  You must be from Wichita!"  I spent a few moments trying to figure that out.  In appearance, I am very natural when I'm with Gpa - no makeup, don't bother much with my hair, etc.  (I do wear clothes.)  I thought maybe this was Gpa's way of saying, "Good morning!  You look like crap!"  But I couldn't figure out the Wichita connection.

"Huh?" I said.

"You look natural!  I've seen you someplace before!"

"Oh, you mean familiar?  Yeah, you look familiar, too," I said in a pretend disappointed, I'm-tired-of-looking-at-you tone.

Grandpa laughed.

males and females

The Bald Eagles have returned to the Twin Lakes area. This past week the pair returned and started working on their nest. (Dec 4, 2010)

From today's Wichita paper, re: a pair of eagles nesting here: 

"Griffin said he has seen the male eagle carrying sticks to the nest, some as long as 8 feet and two inches in diameter.

"'It's like he is taking a roof beam in, he has to fit it just right,' Griffin said.  'It may take him 15 minutes to get it just so.  Sometimes he will whack her (female eagle) with it in the process.  And, after he leaves, she picks the stick up and puts it in another place.'"

One reader commented, "I think my wife moves my sticks, too."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

random act of kindness

Made my daily pop run to McD's today.  When I paid, the cashier looked at the quarter for a few seconds before getting my change.  I realized, oh no, that's the quarter with the national park on the back that I was going to give to Grandpa!  I only discovered the other day that they started doing nat'l park quarters this year.  Grandpa avidly collected the 50 state quarters, so I think he'll like this.  The guy handed me my change on top of the receipt, and I crumpled it all into a ball and tried to hand the guy a dollar and said, "I just gave you a quarter with a picture on it - I've been saving it to give someone.  Can I-"  He smiled and said, "Yeah, I know - I gave it back."  And he had - in addition to the change!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

movement in grief: state of being, part 2

I've been missing the dogs more lately.  The extra focus on family that comes with this time of year has me hurting for the loss of my "own" family, Chester and Oliver.  Come to think of it, God, I miss my job, too.  Teaching those children, some with severe/multiple disabilities and some who struggled to read, was more than a job; it was a vocation.  And a way to define myself.  As long as we're on this topic, I miss my house and my yard, too.  Sure, I grumbled about taking care of them, but you know I was glad to have them.

I guess the anger that comes with grief has arrived.  I didn't realize it until, while driving to Mom and Dad's on Thanksgiving and thinking of other relatives, I began to cry and yelled, "I want MY family!"  Thank you for that, by the way.  It released tension and made me more aware of how I was feeling, what I was going through.  Sometimes I wish I were less aware of myself, but in this case it helped.  In a strange way it helped me release more of my self.

Sometimes I wish I were so different from the way I am, so not different from "normal" people who are married, have kids, have jobs, and own houses...oh yeah...a lot of people don't have those things...those things are gifts, not things we're entitled to...and the loss or absence of them can be a gift, too, when you, or even just the possibility of you, fills up the space.



"Being Trees in Autumn"
by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

These trees in Buddhist saffron robes,
renouncing everything,
becoming naked without fear,
in wind that is a part of them,
disclose a beauty in this death,
become new shapes, interior.

To live they cannot hoard;
this losing, too, is growth.
New shapes emerge, new vision clears.
Surrender strengthens in the soul
another song.

This emptying is confidence
in spring, but more—a faithing
in the growth that’s come before,
a counting of the gifts
and then releasing one by one,
so as to give again,
knowing growth is not a season,
but is in the root of things.

This is no losing,
but a becoming.
Coveting such openness
of limb and heart and hand,
such bareness in the singing,
I only now discover that I want
this wind, blowing where it will,
within.

state of being

Had a blessed few minutes this morning of being unself-conscious.  Of being unself.  Of being.  I wasn't doing centering prayer or anything to get to that state.  I just sat down in my "prayer space" and I was there - one with God, no worries, no self talk that usually runs in the back of my mind (I don't pray enough, I don't exercise enough, etc. etc.).  It was a tremendous gift, but the gratitude for it didn't last long.  Pretty soon I was getting down on myself again because I'm not unself-conscious more often.  And that takes you right back to self-consciousness and ego worship.  Aaahhh, I'm back.  I'm familiar with this place.  But I hate it.  And that feeds it.  Ever tried to make yourself not think about yourself?  Yeah, it's a mess.

Which is the point - I can't make myself do/be anything.  Take being centered and unself-conscious, for example: I can participate in the prayer, relaxing, etc. but it also depends upon God's participation, his gift of that time and space.  His grace.  I grew up as and in some cases still am a white, Protestant, American from the midwest.  It's in my blood to try to achieve something, by myself, by working hard.  It's difficult to let my self go.  I've put that burden, that yoke, down a gazillion times, but I keep tripping over it, so it's faster and easier to just carry it and walk, without looking where to place every step, and move on to the next task that must get done and must have my help.  :/  And right there is an example of how writing is so helpful to me - I didn't realize, or I see in a new way, how I've been doing that just-carry-the-burden-and-get-the-job-done thing until I wrote it.  Time to let my self go again and watch where I walk.

By the way, my definition of "self" here is very different from what it used to be.  But I don't feel like writing about that right now.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Other6

Just found a neat online community at http://www.other6.com/home.aspx  Where did you find or need to find God today?  Per the Sacred Space website, "This site is based on 'examination of consciousness'—a prayerful review of the day intended to help people recognise God in their daily lives."  

Saturday, November 27, 2010

advent 2010

I've enjoyed the gift of a growing appreciation of and participation in the season of Advent over the past few years.  There are a number of books, websites, and other resources to use as we celebrate this time of year.  Currently I'm enjoying:

http://www.sacredspace.ie/
The Jesuit Communication Centre in Ireland puts out a booklet of daily readings and considerations for Advent.  They also have guided retreats for Advent that you can download and follow.  Also scroll down the page and take a look at their online prayers and "Living Space," commentaries on the daily scripture readings from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP); I was pleasantly surprised by the level of thought (or prayer, I should say) they put into the entries.

Simply Wait:  Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent by Pamela C. Hawkins
Hawkins gives a theme for each week of Advent:  anticipation, hope, patience, and obedience.  Each section is divided into "Responding to the Word," "Readings," and prayers.  I have been looking forward to using this book all year.  I was captivated by the first page:  "ANTICIPATION...Wait with this word for awhile before you turn the page.  Let Anticipation settle into your thoughts.  Let this word soak into your life.  Let it spread across your imagination as you look toward Christmas.  Do not hurry.  Wait.  And when you have taken some time with this word, turn the page."

In previous years I've also enjoyed the book Watch for the Light:  Readings for Advent and Christmas, a collection of daily writings from various authors.  I love the diversity of the authors and the selections, from Meister Eckhart to Sylvia Plath, Bernard of Clairvaux to Annie Dillard, etc. etc. etc.  Readings go from Nov. 24 to Jan. 7, the day after Epiphany.

You might also enjoy this website:  http://www.ekklesiaproject.org/ which offers a variety of readings from the diverse body of Christ.  The Advent reading includes the scriptures for the week from the BCP. 

You can find the BCP online at http://www.bcponline.org/ - scriptures are under "The Lectionary" - we began Year A on Nov. 28, the first Sunday of Advent 2010.

May we all be able to pay attention, wait, listen, and receive what God has for us in this time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

yelling with grandpa

There seem to be only 3 or 4 different commercials on the channels Grandpa likes to watch, and they are played over and over and over.  We're all sick of them.  Today for the millionth time, the lady on the Medicaid commercial said, "Sign me up!"  Grandpa looked up from his puzzle and yelled, "Somebody sign her up!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

fun with grandpa

Today when I got to Grandpa's he asked me, "Do you know what Thursday is?"  I decided to tease him and said, "Yeah, it's Thursday."
"But do you know what day it is?"
"It's Thursday."
"Yes, but do you know what special day it is?!"
"Yes, it's Thursday."
"OH COME ON!"

Saturday, November 20, 2010

living with people versus living alone

1.  You have to wear pants.
2.  You don't have to wear a bra if you walk slow enough.
3.  You have to shower more often - or at least think about it.
4.  They come up behind you and whistle and scare your pants right back off.
5.  You get to pay them back.
6.  If you move in with family, you get to see your relatives more often.
7.  You get to see your relatives more often.
8.  People eat your food.
9.  You get to eat their food.
10.  They throw your food away; the food that you just bought 4 days ago!!!
11.  They feel bad and you get to play mind games with them.
12.  You need to consult with someone before you buy milk, or you need to be prepared to drink a lot of milk.
13.  You can't eat/drink shared food items straight out of the carton - you have to actually dirty a dish.
14.  They block your car in the driveway.
15.  You get to practice precision driving skills at 7:00 a.m., or you get to wake them up.
16.  They share or do all of the yard work - hallelujah!
17.  On Sundays they bring in your paper and bake cinnamon rolls - and share!
18.  They change the oil in your car, then give it a thorough cleaning-out. 

(I highly recommend moving in with at least one retired person.  It also helps if they love you and you love them back.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

fun with grandpa


Today when I went into Grandpa's room/space at Mom & Dad's house, I was a bit groggy from a fitful night's sleep.  Grandpa was extra perky.  "That," he said, pointing to his book of word search puzzles, "almost fell out of bed."  Grandpa likes to tell silly jokes, so I thought this was one of them.  "It did?" I said.  "How?"
"Huh?" Grandpa said.
I put the book on his tv tray.  "Are you still working on #10?"
"Yeah.  Can you count that high?"  (giggles)
"Ha ha."  I shove Grandpa and open the book to puzzle #10 and point to it, "So how did this almost fall out of bed?"
"Huh?...No, this," he said, holding up his mechanical pencil, "is almost out of lead!My brain's so big it clogs up my ears.  It's fun to make a non-senile elderly person wonder if he's becoming senile (eye roll).


Grandpa talks to himself when he's working on his puzzles.  Today he said, "I can't find 'DEEP'...it's so deep I can't see it...(checks word list)...D-E-E-P.  P-E-E-D.  Peed."  "There you go, Grandpa," I said, "just look for 'peed.'"  Grandpa giggled.

Grandpa asked me to get out his remote-control car the other day.  I turned it on and handed it to him, and he immediately did a beautiful parking job then made sure I knew how talented he was.  I say he got lucky.

 
 
The other day he was looking at the "Kansas Most Wanted" pictures in the paper.  Just as I opened my mouth to say, "Are you in there?" Grandpa said, "You know, you should be in here." We did find two Andersons, though, so we decided the paper must've printed the wrong pictures.

As Grandpa's physical health has declined over the past year, the list of things he can no longer do continues to grow.  But yesterday he told a visitor, "I am really fortunate.  I have people to bring me meals and I get to fill up this trash can every day (pointing to one by his chair) and someone else empties it."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

just checking

Every once in a while, I like to check on the laws of physics and make sure they still apply.  There's "new math;" who knows, maybe there's new physics.

1.  If I drop this big, heavy box into this trash bin with some sawdust at the bottom, will the sawdust fly up and into my eyes and mouth?  Yep!

2.  If I stare at this green light but am lost in thought and don't move, will my car move forward anyway, since it's got 150,000 miles on it and it's seen plenty of green lights before?  Nope.  Will my fellow motorists appreciate this experiment?  Nope.

3.  If I put on my pull-over hoodie backwards, will the hood swivel around to its proper place, or will I pull the hoodie down only to find that the room's suddenly turned solid blue?  The latter.

4.  If I back down a hill without looking where I'm going and step in a hole, will I fall?  What do you think?

plan B...ra

Walked to and by the river Monday - I really need to get in better shape.  After a block or two, I remembered the benefits of interval training - changing or amping up your activity for short bursts of time throughout the workout.  So I decided to jog.  Well, I hadn't planned on running, so I'd left the house without a bra - just a t-shirt and sweatshirt (and pants, underwear, socks, shoes).  So as soon as I started jogging the "girls" started bada-binging all over the place.  Several cars were passing by at the time, so I put my arms up to hold everything in place.  Yeah, that didn't look weird at all - I felt like I was pointing to my bouncing boobs with those flags they use to land aircraft.  So that was the end of that.

Went walking yesterday, too.  Remembered interval training.  Forgot bra.  I have an index card taped above my doorknob on which I write stuff I need to remember to take with me when I leave the house.  My door's open a lot, so it's visible to others in the house, and my cousins and their young children are often here.  I'm hoping I'll just remember to dress appropriately without having to write "WEAR YOUR BRA!" on the card.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

little rockers

Mom and Dad bought me this little rocking chair for my first birthday.  I loved to sit in it and read like the grownups.  I've kept it ever since, not using it except as a sentimental keepsake for the past 35+ years.  When I moved in with my aunt and uncle, I didn't have enough room for it so I put it in storage.  A few weeks later I decided that was dumb - the rocker's store-bought, not made by some long-dead relative, now it's gathering dust and doing no one any good, and I have a picture of myself in it and that's sentimental enough.  So I brought the rocker to aunt & uncle's and put it in the rec room for my second cousins, A and B, to use and enjoy.  I'm liking this way of cherishing this "possession" much better than the old way.

So what do you think these pics say about our personalities?  Here I am, reading an ad for men's shoes.  (?)



Here's A rocking a baby doll:



And here's B watching Dora!



You know the Brave Little Toaster?  This is the Happy Little Rocking Chair.  Awww.

Monday, November 8, 2010

for the love of Benji and Ben and Sam

I started feeling the need for a dog fix this weekend and got one of the best I could've asked for.  We're always on the lookout for cheap/free movies for Grandpa to enjoy.  Yesterday I was "just browsing" in the movie section in Target (I'm getting much better at looking with my eyes, not my wallet) and found a collection of four Benji movies for $5.  With the combination of missing my dogs, being in Target, and finding a bargain, I was in no condition to resist.  Plus, I wasn't just buying it for myself, I was buying it for Grandpa, too!

I fell in love with Benji in the mid-'70's, an adorable, loving dog who could do amazing tricks.
Today, my "crush" came back.  Grandpa and I watched the first movie, Benji (only because "Gunsmoke" was pre-empted by a movie Gpa didn't want to watch).  I'd thought this was the movie where I'd first discovered Benji, but a look at the release dates makes me think I saw the 2nd movie, For the Love of Benji.  I was in 2nd grade, and I have a clear memory of leaving the theater that night with my parents and running into my teacher and her husband.  I'd made the shocking discovery that teachers were regular people in Kindergarten when I saw that teacher pass us in traffic.  But teachers also have fun?  They go on dates?? 

Anyway, I'm a bit relieved that this first movie wasn't the one I'd loved, because the dialogue and theme song were so hokey I wouldn't have been able to stand it had I not first loved Benji as a little girl.  There's even a slo-mo scene of Benji and his new dog "girlfriend" running through the park and drinking out of the same birdbath together.  Perhaps a clever spoof, but then who wrote the rest of the movie?  (The theme song won a Golden Globe, but that was in the decade that also brought us "Feelings" and "Muskrat Love."  Okay, I was a Captain and Tennille fan then, too, and I liked "Muskrat Love," and anything sung by John Denver, especially "The Garden Song," and I liked the ice skaters on "The Donny and Marie Show" and I had huge crushes on Donny Osmond and Lee Majors [the bionic manly man!]).  Oh well.  Grandpa and I had fun watching Aunt Bee from the AG Show play "Neighbor lady with cat." 

The movie I saw 30+ years ago, For the Love of Benji, is much more sophisticated than the first one, I'm sure.  According to someone on Wikipedia, "In this film, Benji is lost and becomes a stray animal in Athens, Greece, trying to reunite with his family while secret agents pursue him, trying to get a formula which was glued to his paw in order to get it past customs."

In spite of the sap, however, I ended up teary-eyed at the end of the movie today because Benji reminds me a lot of Oliver, and he was trying to save the kidnapped children and no one was listening to him and he made gut-wrenching sad puppy-dog faces.  I hate to ruin the movie for you, but it has a happy ending, and I got some of the dog fix I needed.

Later, my friend Ben called.  Ben is 3 years old (almost 4) and is the youngest son of a very close and old (in the good way!) friend of mine.  He and his brother Sam call me Auntie Kerri, and I love it.  Ben called me a few times last week to ask me to come over and play, but I had a cold and couldn't go.  He goes to preschool right across the street from my new digs and comes over with his mom to visit sometimes after school.  Today he called and I was honestly thrilled to tell him I was all better and just about to call him, too!  We played at his house and he told me everything about Legos. 


Actually, I doubt it's everything, because Sam has the ultimate memory for facts. I need to get into his will before he goes on "Jeopardy...."  Sam is the friend who will teach me next summer how to jump off a diving board all by myself.



I love being a grownup.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

it's going to be one of those days...

I can't complain too much, because a friend of mine woke up today to find her kitchen flooded and leaking into the basement, then the floor/ceiling fell in.  Great excuse for a new kitchen, I say!  I don't think she and her husband are at that stage yet.

After a month of living with my aunt & uncle, I decided to finally open some mail.  No one fun knows my street address, so why read it?  Well, I got a nice surprise from my car insurer - a check for $3.84 - woo hoo!  'What's this for,' I wondered, 'Being a super-duper driver?'  Nope.  "The attached refund is a result of the termination of your policy.  If you have any questions, please contact your agent."  If you are still breathing, please contact your agent.  If you no longer want to play fast and loose with the law, please contact your agent.  If you retain any sense whatsoever of the need for car insurance, please contact your agent. 

My former landlord misses me, too.  He wasn't too pleased with the condition I left the house in.  (I left it messy because the carpet had to be replaced anyway, and I'd found mold when I was moving, so I figured other stuff would need to be ripped out - really.)  He knew I wasn't expecting my deposit back, but he thinks I should pay more.  I'm going to send him copies of the receipts for the fence I paid for and a check for the difference and hope that ends things.  If not, I'll have to play the "at least I didn't leave a dead body, meaning mine, rotting in the house because of all the mold" card.  I've never played that one before.

Oh, goody!  Somehow I overpaid my final bill to the city by about $25.00.  I hope auto-guy sends me a check without chatting me up too much.

OH GOODY!  Due to "a changing financial services landscape" my bank has "made modifications to our account offerings.  Our effort has been designed around rewarding our customers for their expanding relationship with the bank."  Your bank's probably made changes, too.  Due to my "expanding relationship," my savings account now has to have a daily minimum balance of $300 instead of $200, or else it charges a fee (that's going up, too).  I currently have $7.00 in my savings account.  In a few minutes, I will no longer have a savings account.

That's why I don't open mail.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

fun with grandpa

The other day as I walked into Grandpa's I heard Dad say to him, "Kerri will get your pills."  Dad left and a few minutes later Grandpa told me, "I need my pills."  I was a bit confused, because he usually has his pills with breakfast. 
"You need your pills?" I asked. 
"Yes," he said.
"Have you had your breakfast?"
"Huh?"  (confused look on Grandpa's face now, too)
"You usually have your pills with breakfast.  Have you had your breakfast?"
"Yeah, I had my breakfast," he said, still confused.
"Well, did you have your pills with it like usual?  I don't understand what pills Dad was talking about."
"I need my PIL-LOWS," Grandpa said.  Poor man.

Today he needed a paper clip.  "Do you have some in your desk?" I asked, walking over to his desk/secretary - like a roll-top desk but not rounded.
"Yes, on the right side."
I looked around and eventually found them in a small jar on the left side.  I took out a paper clip (but Grandpa didn't see that), held the jar up, and said, "Do you want me to put them back where I found them or where you thought they were?"  (We can be very Type-A.)
"Huh?  No, I need a clip."
"Yes, but do you want me to put the rest of them back here, or here?" I said, pointing.
"No!  I want to clip these two papers together."  (an article onto a piece of white paper)
"Yes, but what about the rest of the paper clips?"
Chuckling, but also trying very hard to remain patient with me, Grandpa said slowly and clearly, "PICK. UP. THE. JAR. AND. WALK. OVER. HERE. AND. PUT. THE. JAR. DOWN. HERE. PLEASE," as he pointed to a tray by his chair.
I laughed and said in the same way, "I. KNOW. I. GOT. THE. CLIP."  I showed it to him and put it on his tray.  "I'M. TALKING. ABOUT. THE. JAR," I said, holding it up.
By then we were both laughing, and I don't know where they ended up.

He clipped the papers together, then he asked me to cut off the extra white paper around the margins.  (See?  Type A.)  He said, half-serious/half-teasing, "DON'T. CUT. THE. ARTICLE. IN. HALF. CUT HERE," he said, pointing, "AROUND. THE. ARTICLE."
"I'm going to go get the scissors and bring them here so you can watch me cut it."
Grandpa smiled, sighed with relief, and said, "Yes."
I returned with the scissors, picked up the article, and pretended I was about to cut it in half.
"No!!!!!!!!!!!"

We keep each other mentally fit.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

you know

You know you've got a problem when in the midst of looking up info. on focusing attention in the midst of multiple distractions, you get distracted yourself and forget wh

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

they've outsourced 911!

I got stuck in traffic today at a red light that wouldn't change.  Since it was taking a while, and the light happened to be at the bottom of an interstate exit ramp and cars were backed up onto the highway, I thought I'd call 911.  Maybe it was because I wasn't on a traceable land line, but auto-woman answered and said, "Please say the name of the city in which you have an emergency."  After a stunned moment, I said, "Wichita."  Then a real woman picked up and said, "You have an emergency in Wichita?"  I told her yes and then told her about the light at "I 135 and 13th."  She said, "I'm sorry; did you say an interstate?"  DON'T YOU KNOW?!?!?!?!?! I thought, but all that came out of my mouth was "Yes."  Apparently, I am polite to strangers even in an emergency.  I explained, and she asked another question or two, leading me to believe that she really wasn't local.  I'm sorry, but I'm old enough for that to be scary.


They've outsourced my brain!
Later I picked up a prescription and the cashier rang it up and said, "That'll be $7.32" (or whatever - it was generic).  I smiled, said "Okay," and just stared at her.  A few beats later, I said, "Oh! So pay you!"  In spite of the previous story I am going to blame this on my familiarity with technology and say I'm so used to paying with my debit card that I automatically (ha ha) waited for the cashier to push a button and the total to show up on the little screen.  But I paid in cash, so I just looked like an idiot.


Best news article closing:  "Mee is no longer suffering from the hiccups, police spokesman Mike Puetz said."


And in the TMI category:
I guess I'm also old enough now that needing to pee is not a thing to be taken lightly or put off until later.  I had to go so bad when I was driving home earlier that it was very distracting; who knows, maybe that light was fine...what mixed with yellow makes red?  Don't worry, I made it.  But it reminds me of one of my favorite stories:  when my brother was little (10 or 12 years old - okay, maybe younger) and newly potty-trained, he didn't like to interrupt playing to go to the bathroom.  He'd wait until the last minute, then we'd hear the pitter-patter of little feet running for their life, the sound of the toilet lid going up and slamming into the tank (he's polite in emergencies, too), and then the sound of pee along with a loud, little-boy sigh of relief.  He said I could post this.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

morning walk

When you live in Kansas, it can be easy sometimes to look at pictures of mountains or the ocean and feel a pang of envy - I did just the other day when I saw a picture of a cottage in Wales on a cliff overlooking the sea.  "Those people get to see that every day," I thought with wonder and disappointment in my homeland.  But this morning I took a walk and reminded myself of the unique beauty of Kansas; you just have to pay more attention sometimes.  One of my favorite Kansas sights, which I don't have a picture of yet, is the sun shining on golden wheat fields in a clear, deep blue sky.  It looks like you're in the Sahara, and when the wind blows the wheat really does look like "waves of grain."

I am excited to now live only 1/2 mile from the river that runs through Wichita (okay, there is a point when the Little Arkansas River branches off from the Big Arkansas River, but we just call it "the river").  I walked to and by the river with attention and an open, prayerful heart and enjoyed:


the river itself.  I had been walking fast for exercise, and there's a bike path that runs along it for that purpose, but I changed my mind and my purpose for the walk, since I hadn't seen or explored this place yet, and went off the path and closer to the river.  My heart rate and thoughts slowed as I neared the water and took in some of its quiet and peace.  I saw a couple of interesting pieces of driftwood, but my pictures do them no justice whatsoever, so I'll try again another time.


After walking along the river a short time I sat down to just soak it in and be with it.  I'm trying to remember more often to stop anywhere, when I can, and be still in that place until I begin to see, with my eyes and my spirit, what is there.  After a few moments in this place, I realized a butterfly or moth was feeding nearby, or resting, or doing some contemplation of his own:


I was reminded of the birds in the air and the lilies in the field and of Psalm 23 and God's care for all of his creation.  I remembered that while I have a part in taking care of the various things that come my way, their ultimate fate, or essence, is not my responsibility, nor my worry.

On my walk back I was delighted to find St. Francis, carved by a local artist, blessing the day, the animals, my walk....The face looks a lot like one of my cousins, though, so that broke the mood a bit.  :)


And further down the road I found a great piece of art painted by students from a nearby grade school:


(They painted the word "Wichita" with a variety of faces looking through - here you can see the edge of the "c" and the "hita".)

Then I continued my walk in contemplative mode until my uncle tried to run me over with his truck.  Okay, we passed each other on the road and he pulled over to chat a minute, but first he swerved....

By the time it came to the edge of the Forest the stream had grown up, so that it was almost a river, and being grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it used to do when it was younger, but moved more slowly.  For it knew now where it was going, and it said to itself, "There is no hurry.  We shall get there some day."...

Christopher Robin...and Pooh...and Piglet and Roo...would lie down (on a bridge) and watch (the river)...and it slipped away very slowly, being in no hurry to get there....

Christopher Robin came down from the Forest to the bridge, feeling all sunny and careless, and just as if twice nineteen didn't matter a bit...and he thought that if he stood on the bottom rail of the bridge, and leant over, and watched the river slipping slowly away beneath him, then he would suddenly know everything that there was to be known....

From "In Which Pooh Invents a New Game and Eeyore Joins In" (The House at Pooh Corner) by A.A. Milne.  If you have never read this Poohsticks story, you simply must make the time to do so someday.  I have to include more:

"How did you fall in (the river) Eeyore?" asked Rabbit.

"I was BOUNCED," said Eeyore...."I was just thinking by the side of the river - thinking, if any of you know what that means, when I received a loud BOUNCE."

..."Are you sure you didn't slip?" asked Rabbit wisely.

"Of course I slipped.  If you're standing on the slippery bank of a river, and somebody BOUNCES you loudly from behind, you slip.  What did you think I did?"

..."But, Eeyore," said Pooh, "was it a Joke, or an Accident?  I mean - "

"I didn't stop to ask, Pooh.  Even at the very bottom of the river I didn't stop to say to myself, 'Is this a Hearty Joke, or is it the Merest Accident?'  I just floated to the surface, and said to myself, 'It's wet.'  If you know what I mean."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

but it was on SALE!

Ever had this conversation with yourself (or a significant other)?  I found myself arguing with myself this morning (except I didn't use "we"):

"Look at these labels I got!  Regularly $6, on sale for $1!"

"Do we need labels?"

"I don't know.  That's not the point.  They were on sale!"

"But why did you buy them if we don't need them?"

"You're not listening to me - they were on SALE!  I saved 83.333333%!"

"You would have saved 100% if you hadn't bought them."

"Aaagghh!  I'm sure I'll need them someday!  I'll find something to do with them!"  (I'm getting an idea right now....)  "Do you want me to take them back?"

"No, it's not worth the gas."

(Yay - I win!)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

joyful (and other) recent moments

Best sign:


These people got my attention; too bad I'm all stocked up on garbage.

(my) Best domestic efforts since...the 90's?
last night:  made dinner for 3!  actually cooked!  no one's ill!
today:  figured out how to tuck the longer panels of the curtains up so the room is lighter, and my changes don't look stupid!  (my uncle made me the "JOY" letters years ago - they've been a cherished reminder to welcome joy ever since)


Best rhyme:
Grandpa had whipped cream on lemon pudding instead of chocolate yesterday.  As I handed him the bowl, I said, "Here's your white on yellow."  "Quite a fellow!" he quipped back.  He is, indeed.

Biggest lesson:
As I tucked a big pillow behind Grandpa the other day in the recliner, I inadvertently pulled the back of his sweatshirt down too, which pulled the front of it against his neck.  "Aack!" he laughed.  "You're choking me!"  "Oops!  Sorry about that!"  Note to self:  don't strangle Grandpa.

Best sights:
Watching "Papa" (my uncle) stand behind and support his grandson as he walked on a pair of stilts for the first time.

This hand-cut design from China that a friend gave me:


Biggest celebration:
The rescue of the miners in Chile - what an amazing story.



"We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent, and God is shining through all the time."
Thomas Merton

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

fun with grandpa this week

Grandpa told me a joke about a man who got false teeth and couldn't stop talking.  He went to the doctor and found out they were women's false teeth.  I picked up a pillow, and he took off his hat so he could get properly (but still gently) bopped!

Later a friend showed up with gifts for me and Gpa from her recent trip.  I got a candle holder with a heart cut out on one side.  The friend said, "It's because Kerri's got a big heart."  I turned to Gpa and said, "What'd you get, a mouth?"  He smiled and kept unwrapping his own present (a ceramic bowl; I was close).

He's getting more used to the beard, but it's still a bit strange for him.  Yesterday he mumbled something about it and I asked if it was bothering him, and he said not really, he just doesn't like how the hair flaps in and out when he breathes.  :)

I had a jacket on with the sleeves pushed up and I asked Grandpa to push up his own sleeves for his lotion med.  "Wanna' box?" he said.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

fun with grandpa and misc. - 10/07/10

This morning as Grandpa got settled into his chair and went through his usual routine, I handed him the newspaper.  "Well, how did you know what to do?" he teased.  "Don't sound so surprised!" I said, then started to walk away.  Grandpa laughed and pointed to his wrist - I had forgotten his watch.  "Okay, I guess you can be surprised."  I think he enjoys my mistakes way too much.

Grandpa was telling someone today about how he used to walk a lot, but couldn't do as much now.  "At least I move around more than Winnie the Pooh," he said, pointing to a stuffed Pooh in a small chair, both of which hold fond memories for him.  The visitor said, "Winnie's tied to the chair!" (otherwise he falls out).  "Oh yeah, no wonder...." Grandpa said.

Grandpa looked through one of his photo albums this morning, then later as I was clearing his lunch dishes he said, "You know what?  I'm spoiled."  "Why's that?" I said.  "See that album?" he said, pointing to a different one, "I can't remember what pictures are in it."  "Is that supposed to be a hint?" I asked.  Grandpa smiled a cat-that-caught-the-bird smile (how does that phrase go?) and said, "Yep."


Odd sight of the day:  a truck towing a wood chipper with "Bandit Industries" painted on the back and, right underneath that, a "CRIME STOPPERS" bumper sticker.

Monday, October 4, 2010

there's a doctor in the house!

Well, I guess I can't call him my "stupid" little brother anymore.  Little bro has just completed his doctorate with hard work and high praise on his dissertation defense!  Congratulations, Brad!  We are all bursting with pride and happiness for you!

home

I think this move to my aunt & uncle's house was my twenty-second - somewhere around there.  It sure doesn't get more fun with experience, but I still enjoy some of the unpacking and arranging things, especially my books.  Someone told me once I was a "nester" - taking time and care to arrange my space before I work or live in it.

I was born way into personality type A - anal retentive, uptight, things have to be just so, etc.  I'm a bit more balanced now, 'though I'm still exploring this new, type B territory (such as chilling out a bit too much and forgetting to pay my bills...).  As I packed for the 22nd time, however, it was interesting to see that I'm still type A in that regard.  As a result of that, I didn't have everything packed when it was time to move, and a relative, who's more of a type B packer, (or maybe he just wanted to get it over with) helped me out.  I noticed these differences in our styles:

Type A:  Like items must go in the same box
Type B:  Put box at edge of table or shelf and use arm to sweep anything and everything into box, or put box on floor and use hands like an excavator (I had to look up the name of that thingie) to pick up whatever is nearby and dump into box

Type A:  Every little space in the box must be filled; this means you need to spend time looking around and thinking about what would best fit in that space.  Try a few different things to see which has the best fit.
Type B:  Once stuff is in box, close it

Type A:  Everything has to be arranged in the box so that all of its space is used efficiently (therefore you can get more stuff in it); re-arrange things a few times if necessary
Type B:  see above

Type A:  Tape box shut
Type B:  see above

Type A:  Label boxes according to rooms they go in or items in box
Type B:  What's a label?

Fortunately, at that point in the moving process, I was just thankful for the help.  I thought many times about just packing what I wanted to take with me and then leaving a sign on the front door that said, "Free stuff - please take!"

One day I was loading stuff into my car (we stretched the move over several days and smaller loads - I discovered that I like that way a whole lot better than one move with a big truck).  During one trip from the car to the house I stopped, looked at the front of the house, and thought, something's different.  Then I realized my shepherd's crook/plant hanger thingie with the bird feeder hanging on it was missing.  I was going to leave it at the house anyway, so I didn't care about it being gone, but I was curious.  I walked closer to the spot to look for clues, but my love for Sherlock Holmes hasn't translated into practical use, and I learned nothing about the plant hanger.  What I did learn, however, was that the front of the house, the entire front of the house, was covered in faint black mold spots.  You can't see them until you get up close.  Top to bottom, side to side, the spots were everywhere - the house looked like it had polka dots.  I looked at the other sides of the house and found more mold spots.  I'd known there were small patches of mold inside the house, but they didn't seem to be growing so I didn't worry about them.  Suddenly seeing that my house had the moldy chicken pox was a shock, and now I'm really glad I'm not living there anymore.  I told my mom that if I stop acting weird, it must have been the mold.  (I hope I don't.)

The next day, I was unloading other stuff from my car into my new digs, using the door that goes from my room into the back yard.  I walked out of my room and was heading to the car when I stopped short: that shepherd's crook and bird feeder in my aunt & uncle's back yard looked awfully familiar....  Later, I asked my aunt about it and it turns out my uncle had grabbed it along with the other stuff he was loading into his truck one day.  I never would have thought to bring it along, but seeing it there touched and encouraged me.  Now I have a reminder here of the yard I loved and good times spent in that yard, and it's wonderful.  It's right outside my back door, and later that day I sat down on the back deck to rest and looked at the crook and feeder and the tree it was next to and spent some time just "being" in my gratitude for God and my family and friends' care for me.  (I believe the tree was like that when a & u moved in; I enjoy it as a reminder that it's good to be silly sometimes.)


My room here reminds me in many ways of my room on my 2008 retreat: one room with bed, desk, and chair (plus a bunch of other junk now), attached bathroom, living with others, (although there's the itty-bitty difference now of a man also living on the premises - oops, I mean a great big difference), etc.  I even have my tree outside my window, except instead of reminding me of protection and blessing, this tree reminds me to be happy and that all is well.

The last couple of days at my old house my cat friend Ozzy came by several times.  He was a welcome and comforting animal friend since the dogs were gone.  On the last day, he'd visited earlier but was gone as I made the final trips to the car.  When I was ready to go, I shut the door and as I was walking to my car Ozzy darted in front of me, seemingly out of nowhere.  As I drove away, I saw him sitting up straight in the driveway, as if he was seeing me off and wishing me well.  Happy mouse-hunting to you, my friend.

ludicrous

This morning I read Psalm 23, then my eyes glanced over to Ps. 25:9.  In the New Jerusalem version of this Psalm, the first words of each verse are capitalized, and instead of "judiciously" I read, "LUDICROUSLY he guides the humble, instructing the poor in his way."  I can't tell you whether or not I'm humble (that's sort of a catch-22), but even as I realized my mistake I thought, "Boy, that's for sure."  I get in God's way a lot, too.

Friday, October 1, 2010

awkward moment of the day

So I'm at the library looking at audiobooks.  I squat down to look at the ones on the bottom shelf, and one of those sudden, really powerful nose tickles attacks me out of the blue.  I swing my hand up to rub my nose so fast that I begin to wobble, then I started to sneeze.  Now, another thing they should have told us in high school is that when you get older you might pee a bit when you sneeze.  So I'm squatting, one hand on my nose, sneezing, and trying to cross my legs so I don't pee at the same time.  It didn't work.

Ollie has a family!

I called the humane society to check on Oliver, and he was adopted 2 weeks ago!  He is such a fun-loving sweetheart; I'm so glad he has new people.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

pondering the deep questions

I saw a cop on a motorcycle today with four pairs of handcuffs hanging from his belt.  Where would he put everyone?

If I got arrested by a motorcycle cop, would I have to ride in front because I get carsick, or would that not apply?

Is arson wrong if it would actually improve the condition of the home?

Monday, September 20, 2010

fun with grandpa - 09/20/10

Today Grandpa and I were talking about birthdays - today is one relative's, he mentioned someone else's on Oct. 7, "and someone else has one on December 19!" 
"My birthday's on the 16th, Grandpa." 
"December!  December 19!" 
"No, December 16." 
"You changed it!"

Someone called and said they'd like to come over to visit Gpa today.  When I told him the visitor was coming, Grandpa said, "Good for him!  I'll give him a medal."

Grandpa and his male visitor had a nice, chatty visit - I was in the room, but worked on the newspaper's crossword puzzle most of the time.  Somehow their conversation turned to women and how much they talk!  Then they both turned their heads and looked at me.  I slowly raised my eyebrows at them and pointed to my SHUT mouth.  Well, it was shut until I stuck my tongue out at them.

Today we watched part of "My Darling Clementine" on TV. (Gpa is being very good-natured about the new fall TV season which does not include any episodes of "I Love Lucy"!  If they take away Andy Griffith too, we may have a problem.)  One scene reminded Gpa of a memory:  "I used to know a guy that drank so much one time he threw up and his false teeth fell into the toilet and he flushed them."  This sharing of memories is just one of the reasons I love to spend quality time with Grandpa.  :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

fun with grandpa - 9/17/10

Yesterday Grandpa asked me if I had any tulips.  I started to say no, when I remembered he used to pull this joke on me when I was little (two lips).  He also likes to tell his son to take an extra pair of pants when he goes golfing in case he gets a hole in one.  (When you're 93 you can get away with bad jokes.)  This a.m. Grandpa told me his tulips ate his cream of wheat at breakfast and he didn't get any.  I told him that was terrible, and for lunch I'd duct tape his tulips so he could have his soup.  "Oh no you won't!!!"  When he asked for pudding after lunch, he described it as having white hair.  "Where's the brown?" I asked.  "On the bowl."  So I turned the bowl upside down, put a dollop of pudding on its base and added a squirt of whipped cream.  "You said on, not in!"  He thought that was pretty funny; we're easily amused.

A woman we know is going on a trip and she asked gpa what he wanted as a souvenir.  "You don't have to do that," he said.  "Just bring me a quarter."  "A quarter?" she asked.  As if she had asked a dumb question, he replied, "Yeah, you know, the one with George Washington on it."

He was in the mood for silliness today.  Sometimes I help him get his sweatshirt on, and when I gathered up the sleeves and held it out to him today, he dived his hands through the neck hole and laughed.  Someday I'm just gonna' put the shirt on like that.  He got our favorite hospice worker good today - in preparation for helping him stand, she took the pillows he uses to prop himself up, put them on the couch, then went back to gpa, bent over, and asked if he was ready.  He whipped a water gun out from under the blanket covering his legs and got her good!  We practiced a little before she got there, and he fumbled a bit, but when it mattered he was like James Bond!  Naturally, when she asked if that was my idea, Grandpa ratted on me.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

having fun with Grandpa and a (brilliant?) idea

Grandpa and I are developing little rituals for some of the things we do every day.  When I ask him if he wants dessert after lunch, he usually says, "Yes, white on brown."  This means whipped cream on chocolate pudding.  Sometimes I pretend I'm going to give him mashed potatoes on brown gravy, sometimes I get the food right but decide to put white next to brown instead, sometimes I spray the white all over myself (accidentally).

After lunch I ask him if he wants his feet up in the recliner.  He's begun to spell or use acronyms for his answer.  "F U," he said a couple of weeks ago ("feet up").  After my shocked reaction to my grandfather telling me to f u, Grandpa changed it to "F U-P."  Today I asked, "Way F U-P?" and pressed lightly on the back of the chair, beginning to tilt him backward (don't tell my dad).  Grandpa laughed and said, "No no no no no!  F just level!"

Grandpa had a couple of visitors this morning.  After the second one left he said, "What a lot of visitors!  I'm ready for President Obama!"

Due to a combination of tough whiskers and very tender skin which makes shaving difficult, Grandpa is growing out his beard for the first time in his life.  He's not sure he likes it, but many of us love it - he really does look handsome - I mean, even more handsome.  Maybe I'll let my own grow out.  He's also started wearing his John Deere cap because sometimes the light in the room is too bright for him.  So now when I go downstairs instead of seeing a bald, clean-shaven man I see a guy who's ready to enter the high-stakes poker championships, if someone would just get him some sunglasses.

Speaking of beards, you know how in 5th grade or thereabouts they split up the boys and girls at school and give you "the talk" or show you "the video" about the wonderful changes your body has begun or will soon begin to make?  I think we should get another talk in high school.  I mean, I really could've used a heads up that someday my breasts would develop an irresistable attraction to my navel, that I'd walk into rooms and forget what I was going to do there, and grow facial hair.  If you watch enough TV you figure out the boobs thing, but chin hair?  Are you kidding me?!

ridiculous phone call(s)

My internet service provider cut off my service the other day because I hadn't paid them in a while (go figure).  This is yet another area in which I need to improve my practice in stewardship.  I think my move and the changes associated with it will help.  But had I paid on time, I would have missed this delightful experience:

Call #1:  paid the balance due by phone, then talked to someone in customer service who told me the reconnection would happen automatically in 10-20 minutes.

Call #2:  after 45 minutes and still no service, I called again and spoke with someone in tech. support, who transferred me to billing and gave me their direct #.  V. in billing was very helpful, and was looking into the problem when my cell phone either cut out or I pressed the "end" button with my cheek, which I have annoyingly done before.

Call #3:  I called billing's direct line but still had to go through the same beginning rigmarole with the chatty male auto-voice, who says things like, "Thanks.  I'll just look that up." and "What is the nature of your problem?  You can say things like...."  Finally I got to a human being, explained I had been in the middle of some process with someone in billing when we got disconnected, and asked if he could help me.  He told me the reconnection will happen automatically in 5-6 hours.  After a brief pause, I said, "I'm sorry, did you say hours?"  "Yes, ma'am, 5-6 hours."

I decided my need to watch old Seinfeld episodes was not dire and that I could pack boxes instead.  But the suspense was killing me; if I called again to see how long it would take, who would win best two out of three?

Call #4:  I called again and had a lovely conversation with auto-guy, who asked me for the fourth time:
"Please enter your account number."  I did so.  "Thanks.  I'll just look that up."  (I'd called them a couple of times before today, and since my last call they'd added new, disturbing beep-beep-boop-click-click sounds while auto-guy "looks up" my account.  I can't decide if it's scarier to imagine a computer actually doing this, like a Terminator prequel, or that the company views Americans (rightly or wrongly) as being too dumb or too impatient to wait through a few seconds of silence.)
"Now, so I can best serve you, please tell me in a few words what the nature of your problem is.  You can say things like, 'I'd like to know my bal-'
"Tech support"
"You said 'other.'  Is that correct?"
"No."
"My mistake.  What is the nature of your prob-"
"Tech support"
"Okay, tech support.  Is this regarding a problem with a modem, disconnection-"
"Disconnection"
"Okay.  Many disconnection problems can be solved by....Did you try this before calling?"
"Yes."
(Pause)  "Please say 'yes' or 'no.'  Did you tr-"
"YES!"

I finally got transferred to a human, who talked so softly I told her I couldn't hear her.  She apologized and apparently adjusted her headset at the same time I turned up the volume on my phone full-blast, because then I heard, "Can yoU HEAR ME NOW???"  I could, explained my problem, and she told me I actually needed to speak with someone in accts. receivable, and transferred me.  I figured the whole office must have watched Mr. Rogers tapes over lunch, because every human I spoke to told me I was a very special customer and they were thrilled to have my business; this last woman oozed so much happiness and gratitude that sap started dripping from my phone.  I wanted to ask, "Seriously?  Have you seen my account record?" but I didn't.  The woman in a/r said I was the second call that afternoon about being disconnected, blamed it all on their system, said her manager was working on the problem, and I should be able to get back online in 30-45 minutes.  She was right!

Now I just have to call them one more time to cancel service for good when I move - I sure wasn't going to mention that until they'd reconnected me.