Monthly Archives: August 2013

What do you think?

This is a story I read someplace years ago.   Because I remember it twenty or thirty years later, it obviously made a great impression on me.

“I was in a grocery store” a woman wrote.  “Pushing the cart around when a lady approached me and said, ‘Cheer up!  You look so sad.  Nothing can be that bad.’   I watched her bustle away as tears rolled down my cheeks.   My son had died four days earlier.  This was the first time I’d gone shopping and not bought  his favorite foods.”

Another story.  The writer had been diagnosed with a serious but not immediately fatal disease.  The first time she attended a support group for people with this diagnosis, she listened for a few minutes, then stood and said, “You’re all so depressed and depressing.  I’m not going to allow this to ruin my life.   You have to learn to  get over this.”  I didn’t read any more of the book.

What do you think about these stories?  I’m going to give you a few minutes to think.  Then, as usual, I’m going to give my opinion.


Okay, here are my thoughts.   There are people who believe we should be smiling all the time.  These people may have a mental condition or they may just be thoughtless and insensitive.   Normal people grieve.  Normal people don’t smile all the time.  Normal people are often in a blanced mood, neither up or down.  Normal people don’t tell others how they should feel without knowing their histories–or, even if they do know their backgrounds.  It’s not a bit hlepful.

With the second story, I truly believe the writer thought she’d sent a good and optimistic message to that group.  She hadn’t.   Any time we’re diagnosed with an illness, it’s unsettling.  Joining a support group is a healthy  step.  I have the same disease this writer had and learned a great deal in the support group I attended.   I wonder if the seriousness of this problem ever hit this woman or if she’s lived in constant denial.

My ultimate thought is that we love and support others.  We don’t judge others because we do not know what others are experiencing.  One of my favorite quotes is about:  Be kind because everyone you meet is facing a hard battle.

Paperclips and Panic

I  think of myself as open, flexible, quick to accept change.   The realization that I’m not always shocks me.  I’ve blogged on this before but it keeps happening.

The most recent example:   I had to fill out an insurance claim which consisted of several pages of information, a few documents to prove the claim,  and a dozen forms.      The instrucitons stated:  Do not use highlighter, staples or paperclips.”  Until that moment, I didn’t realize I was addicted to paperclips.   Oh, when I was teaching, I used clips to hold papers together and, as a writer, I clip chapters together but I hadn’t realized I couldn’t NOT clip  documents together, that not doing so left me anxious.   I couldn’t breathe.  My hands shook.  I’m also compulsive about following directions so it made me even more anxious to ignore the instructions and clip the papers together.  What to do?

After great agony and long consideration, I came up with a plan.  I organized the pages in the order listed on the instructions, wrote on the top exactly what the form was because  most of the forms were identified only as CLAIM FORM.  Then I numbered them all.  On the documents with more than one page, I labeled them with  A, B, C.   All this means that I had one section entitled, “Cancellation  5A.”

And I feel so much better.  I didn’t use staples or paperclips (okay, I DID highlight one thing), and followed directions.  Victory!


What makes you anxious that you know is silly?




Please excuse and understand any misspellings.  Like Jay Leno, I’m dyslexic.   He often states he’s a terrible speller.  I am, too.  Plus, I don’t recognize my mistakes.  I can proofread something ten times and either don’t see errors or, when I correct them, I make them worse.   I’ve had friends proofread which doesn’t help because, again I’m likely to add more errors.

And now the speller on the blog site doesn’t work.  Every time I run it, the messages comes back No misspellings.  I know that’s not right because I never write a paragraph without problems.

I try.  I really try to write cleanly.    I even wrote a section in the book The Overcomers about my struggles.

So now I’m going to run the spell check and reread this and hope you can decipher it and forgive me.

Howard’s Socks: the definition of creativity

 When I was a child, my best friend Howard Crampton Smith lived across the street in a house with a sunroom and a porch.  We spent long, warm days riding our tricycles on “Bumpity Road” and playing “Simon Says” and “Mother May I” on the steps in front of his house.   When we started Kindergarten at Border Star Elementary School, Howard and I walked together those few blocks and played together at recess. 

But the best thing I remember about Howard was the day he colored his socks. 

Our teacher had each student lie on a piece of craft paper on the floor while she drew around us.  Then we stated to color in that outline. 

It was when we arrived at the feet that Howard’s genius emerged.  Instead of being true to the plain black socks he wore, he decided to make designs on his socks, wonderful, outlandish, colorful patterns and shapes so fanciful no company would or could ever manufacture such  whimsy.  Thrilled by the concept, I followed Howards’s lead on the right sock but then realize that both socks should look alike.  Matching my fantasy sock was very difficult and quite boring.  Howard did not entertain the necessity of his socks being identical.  He blithely put himself in  fanciful socks which didn’t look the least bit the same.  They were magnificent.

When I contemplate creativity, I think of Howard and his fantastic socks.  I write books I love—but I will never reach the heights he did in Kindergarten.  

An old-fashioned love song

After George retired in 2007,  we moved to an apartment complex.   I’d often see a fragile elderly man walk down the sidewalk and head to the nursing home across the street–every day at the same time.  Then I’d see him walk back to his apartment a few hours later.   Sometimes when our paths crossed, we’d chat.  Speaking with a fairly strong Italian accent–a first generation American–he told me he visited his wife of sixty years every day.  Then he’d open his wallet and show me their wedding picture, a photo of a very young couple wearing formal but very dated clothing and looking extremely solemn.  

“She was the best wife I ever had,” he said every time he showed me that picture.  

The first time he said that I asked, “How many wives have you had?”

“Just one,” he said.  “And she was the best wife I ever had.”

A few years ago, he told me she’d died.  He still walked over to the nursing home to talk with friends, but his wife was gone.  He still showed me that wedding photo.  Every time he told me she was the best wife he ever had.

I think that is one of the best love stories ever.  How amazing for elderly couple who are sick and in nursing homes, who’ve been together for seventy or eighty years still love each other so much.  We believe love is for the young.  Wrong!  Love that lasts for years is the best kind. 

Yesterday I was told that he died ten days ago.  I never knew his name.   We called him the Italian gentleman and admired him for his care for his wife.  I can’t help but believing he’s now in the presence of not only his Savior but will be  with the very best wife he ever had.  And they will be together  throughout eternity.

Have you ever met a couple like this?  Did they inspire you?


A message from our cats: Don’t worry about what you look like

One thing I’ve learned from my cats:  they don’t care what they look like.   They don’t stand in front of a mirror and pat down a stray hair or cover their faces with makeup to blot out features they don’t like.  No, what they look like is, well, what they look like.

Scooter has a face that makes people laugh.  He makes me smile every time I see him.  He has a Groucho-like moustache.  Scooter believes he’s is the greatest, most wonderful, most handsome creature in the world and the fact that people laugh at his face doesn’t bother him at all.  He is THE cat and rules this 1200-square-foot apartment, his world.

On the other hand, Maggie has a round little tummy and a fairly large backside.  She’s not fat.  She just carries her weight a little low.   George always said that she looked like a cookie jar when she sat.  She does, a cookie jar with lots of room for goodies on the bottom.   And she doesn’t care at all.  Does not care.  She believes me and purrs loudly when I tell her she’s the most beautiful female feline ever.

I got a haircut three weeks ago.  A bad haircut.  It looks great in the front but it’s very short in the back.   I have hair that’s both fine and straight as well as wirey.  The back of my head looks like a roof with very badly laid shingles or, perhaps, a thatched roof with all the straw escaping.  My hair sticks out all over and it’s too short for me to fix.  I’ve tried gels and mousse but, once they dry, the gelled hair doesn’t hold and sticks up and out even more.

For that reason, I’ve adopted the cat’s point of view.  I don’t care.  I can’t see the back of my head so I’m going to ignore the mess and  believe that I look really terrific.

Besides, hair will grow.   In a month or two, it will be long enough I can get a hot roller in there to tame it.

For the time being, I’m avoiding mirrors.   

You put cheese in the brownies?

George and I spent many years sponsoring church youth groups.  At the church in Big Spring, TX, the kids–from fourth to seventh grade–loved my brownies, homemade and fudgy.  One Sunday, I didn’t have time to whip up a batch from scratch so I pulled out a mix.  To make it special, I cut up cream cheese into little chunks and stirred them in.  After I pulled them out of the oven, I took a deep breath.  They looked and smelled wonderful.  No one could figure out they were from a mix.

When I set the plate before the group, each took a brownie and studied it.  In unison they said, “What are those white things?”  I said, “Cream cheese.”  Again, as one, they looked at me in horror and asked, “You put cheese in brownies?”

They didn’t find this addition in the least bit special.  When I cleaned up the plates, each had a pile of tiny chunks of cream cheese.

Do you have a favorite story about young people and/or favorite recipes?  I’d love to hear them.

What do you do in the shower?

I grew up taking baths.  My mother said that was what “we” did.  I don’t know what that means except it conveyed the idea that soaking in gallons of water was the only way to become truly clean and that those who showered were covered with scum and unclean.   Oh, I took showers at camp.  In my college dorm, I took showers because I don’t remember there being tubs.  I went to college shortly after the movie Psycho was released so taking a shower was an act of courage.  In the sorority house, we had two tubs, located in the same small room–a literal “bath room”.  Cozy and a little creepy so most of us took showers.

I didn’t really become a shower fan until I had to get up at five-fifteen to get to work on time.   I’d always taken a bath at night and washed my hair in the sink in the morning, a great waste of time when one has to leave the house at six-thirty. 

It wasn’t until many years late after watching an episode of Friends that I discovered I really didn’t know exactly how one took a shower.  I mean, there are no classes in it, no pamplets or information booklets.  Yesterday, I googled how to take a shower and found pages of information with instructional sketches and pictures and explanations of how one takes a shower.  Amazing. 

I asked the question in the title of this blog NOT to elicite stories of unbounded lust.  No, I asked that because as I read those blog pages, I discovered that it’s a good idea to brush your teeth in the shower.  This cuts down on having toothpaste down the front of your nightie.    My question:  Do you brush your teeth in the shower?  If so, how did you know learn about this?  I’m feeling a little ignorant on this point.

I’ve just started reading the Jack Reacher books.  In the first book, this man travels for a day, walks fourteen miles, is arrested and spends the weekend in jail.  Four days without a shower or change of clothing and women still fall all over him.  He did, however, take showers in the third book and describes his three shower techniques in detail.   The shortest takes eleven minutes, a basic shower plus hair wash.   I can’t image spending eleven minutes in the shower.  What does one do?  Wait, I don’t want to know.  The second type of shower adds a shave and takes twenty minutes.  The third is an eleven-minute shower.  Then, he gets out of the shower with moisterized skin and shaves, then finishes the shower and washes his hair again.  A total of over thirty minutes.  With Reacher, it’s all or nothing.  For me, a waste of the morning.

Anything you’d like to share?


What day is it?

One of the problems with being retired is never knowing exactly what day this is.  My sister-in-law–who is retired but seems to do better with this than I–brought this to mind this morning when she asked, “Where’s your Friday blog?”

I hadn’t realized I’d missed Friday.  Completely.

So a quick apology.  I promise a blog for Tuesday.

If I remember what day that it.