Thursday Thoughts

Religion from Roomba
In my blog post yesterday, I talked about the newest member of our family – Rosie Roomba. I neglected to show you a photo…..

Even as I was writing the post, Rosie was busy vacuuming our bedroom floor. When she finished, I went to check out the results…..

You have all heard of the people who see images of the Virgin Mary on their toast or in their mashed potatoes. Well, I think Rosie might be giving me spiritual messages. Can you see the cross clearly imaged into the carpeting? Hmmmm. Well, at least she’s not leaving me Satanic images.

I Spy
I probably go to my neighborhood King Soopers nearly every, sometimes a couple of times a day. While I always have good intentions, I rarely (and I mean RARELY) remember to bring my own bags, despite the fact that they are almost always in my trunk. That, my friends, simply means I’m too lazy to walk back to my car to get them. Anyway, yesterday I was making at the grocery store, and for a change, I had my own bag. It was sitting in my cart. I went through self-check, something I nearly always do. I had scanned the first item and laid it in the bagging area when the scanner (in her friendly female voice) asked me Do you have your own bag Dummy? Well, the truth is she didn’t say dummy, but she did ask me – FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER – if I had my own bag. I’m pretty sure King Soopers has joined ranks with Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Comcast and is spying on me. How else would she know that I had my bag with me? I wish I could use their spying tactics to make the world a better place.

Slimy Business
When Kaiya is anywhere around, there is likely at least TALK about making slime. And, much to her delight, her cousin Grace (who was one of the visiting dignitaries from AZ this past week) is a slime connoisseur. So, not surprisingly, this happened….

Aunt Bec was there to provide supervision. Cole and Faith are steadfastly sticking to Play Doh, thank you very much.

The Heat is On
I never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I’m about ready to have the temperatures cool down a bit. Today — when it was supposed to be a bit cooler — my car thermometer showed an outdoor temperature of 63 degrees. Day before yesterday, it hit 81. But just wait. The first cold and snowy day, you will hear Nana’s Whimsies complaining!

Ciao.

Can You Hear Me Now?

cole-kaiya-making-crepes

Cole and Kaiya making crepes. Probably after she couldn’t reach me on my iPad.

My 8-year-old granddaughter Kaiya sent me an instant message Sunday morning. Unfortunately, I was out of the house for a bit, and didn’t get back until after lunch. What’s more, to her everlasting SHOCK, I don’t have an iPhone, so I can’t get the messages she texts me from her iPad unless I am next to my own iPad. Kaiya and Mylee are endlessly stunned that I sometimes don’t pick up when they Facetime, for the same reason.

Anyway, here is what she texted me: Nana, what does TTYL mean (with no question mark because I have learned that NOBODY hip ends text messages with punctuation, and Kaiya is nothing if not hip. It simply isn’t done, except by me, because I was educated in the Catholic school system and would have had to write out I must use proper punctuation. 500 times if I failed to punctuate properly).

Her question took me by surprise, partly because I actually knew the answer. But I wasn’t sure whether she was asking because she didn’t know or if it was simply a test. You know, a Hipness Test.

I’m actually going to go with the first option, because for whatever reason, Kaiya thinks I know a lot. I hope she never learns the truth.

Anyway, TTYL (for those of you who don’t have a 13-year-old granddaughter with her own cell phone) means Talk To You Later. It’s a convenient way to finally end that text message conversation that seems to never reach a conclusion.

I will admit that the first time 13-year-old Addie ended a text message conversation with TTYL, I had to look it up. I could tell that it was the finale, but I didn’t know why. Up until that point, my urban abbreviation lingo was limited to LOL.

Pretty funny, huh?  LOL.

So, literally hours after she had asked the question, I texted back the answer. I never heard another word, so she probably found out some other way. From someone with an iPhone.

For reasons I will never quite understand, my grandkids think I’m high-tech. The joke’s on them. I write a blog, but I have no idea what that word actually means. I own two iPads, but I got one for free when we signed up with Dish Network. What’s more, I generally only use my iPad to read or look at Pinterest or play Majong Solitaire (a game they all think is old-school, but look over my shoulder as I play it and poke the proper tiles without asking me).

Sometimes Bill will be telling me something about my iPad or computer, and I just look at him as if he is speaking Swahili, because he might as well be. Interface? Gigabyte? Peripheral devices? URL?

So see? Really not high tech.

But I guess being high-tech, just like anything else, is relative. I, for example, have a Facebook account while Kaiya’s maternal grandmother doesn’t. The McLains’ other grandmothers have Facebook accounts, but my iPads have Minecraft installed on both. High tech.

And probably most important, since I bought Bill a new iPad for his birthday, we own a total of four iPads. We own so many that we may start using iPads instead of concrete blocks to build bookshelves for our family room.

Not really. TTYL.

Book Worms

Columbus1915

My nephew Erik’s family has a game they often play at dinnertime. One of the kids will start the game by asking something like, “Mom, what’s your favorite television show?” or “Dad, what’s your favorite place you have ever visited?” They then go around the table, each answering the particular question. Then the next person asks a question. And so forth.

It is, I presume, under this circumstance that my great nephew Carter, who is 8 years old, recently asked his mom a question that tickled her so much that she posted it on Facebook.  “Mom, what is your favorite smell?” She answered that she liked the fragrance of cinnamon and vanilla candles. “What’s yours?” she asked him. “I love the smell of a new book,” he answered. “I just love that smell.”

That is a child after my own heart. There is nothing like the smell and the feel of a new book. A hard back book with its perfect cover that creaks as you open the book wide. A paperback book that is smooth and unblemished with a perfectly uncreased binding.

Having said that, I will remind you all that I have confessed that I no longer read paper books, opting instead for ebooks every time. There are pluses and minuses about reading books off of my iPad. In the plus category is the fact that I never have to worry about running out of books. When I finish a book, I always have another book available. I can, in fact, carry with me many, many books. Also, I have a book at hand even in the case of an unexpected circumstance requiring me to wait since I have my kindle software on my phone as well as my iPad. If I want a book, I can get it immediately by going to Amazon and buying the book. And these days there are many books available electronically through the library, though it often requires a wait period. But that is also true of paper books.

But the minuses of reading electronically is that you miss out on exactly what Carter said he likes – the smell and feel of a new book. And please understand this fact: for book lovers, reading is a tactile experience. I love – well, loved – the look and feel of a new book.

The other day I was talking with someone about occupations. Being old and forgetful, I don’t even remember who I was talking to and why we were talking about jobs.

“What would you do for a living if you had it to do over again?” asked Whoever-It-Was-With-Whom-I-Was-Having-This-Conversation.

That’s easy. I would be a librarian.

I would suck at the part about doing research. Research makes me impatient and cranky. And, I know, I know, that’s probably the largest part of the job. But I would excel – EXCEL, I TELL YOU – at the part about talking about books and shelving books and checking out books. Touching books. Because I love books.

All of the above thoughts popped into my head recently because I had cause to actually enter a library building, something I probably haven’t done for over a year. That’s remarkable, because I am one of the world’s biggest users of the library. I have been since I was a little girl. I remember what it felt like to walk up the concrete stairs of our old library in Columbus. The steps were actually somewhat concave from the hundreds  and hundreds of people who had climbed them over the years. I remember what the old, heavy wooden door felt like as I pushed it open. And yes, Carter, I remember exactly how it smelled.

But I have little need to actually enter a library these days because I do it all over the internet. I reserve books. I check out books. I download books. I read books. I return the books. All on my computer or my iPad.

The 21st century is convenient and easy in many ways, but there are many things that I miss as I move into a more and more modern society.

Miracles

In the past few weeks, I learned some difficult news about a couple of my friends. One was diagnosed with cancer; the other – a woman of my age — learned that she has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. On both occasions I was nearly knocked off my feet. I reminded myself – once again – to never, NEVER whine and/or complain because I – on only two occasions — have had to go to the hospital and get a nasal gastric tube inserted. Life is all about perspective, my friends.

So I have, of course, added these two friends to my prayer list of people who are ill. But I can’t help but feel as though prayer seems just so insignificant sometimes. I pray for miracles, and wait for the miracles to happen. They never seem to happen, unfortunately. As far as I know, my prayers haven’t brought anyone back from the dead.

I thought of my friends yesterday as I listened to the readings. The first reading was from first Book of Kings, and talked about Elijah bringing a poor, lonely widow’s son back to life simply by asking God to do so. And then, in St. Luke’s Gospel, Jesus raised the son of a widow from the dead because her crying moved him so.

Whaaaat? Maybe the problem is that I’m not a widow. Or maybe I’m not praying hard enough, or in the right way.

Or maybe, just maybe, my prayers are being answered in unexpected ways.

Beginning immediately after Bill was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I began praying every day that God would perform a miracle and cure him of the disease. Why not ask, I told myself. And every six months when we would go to see his neurologist, they would tell us he was doing remarkably well, but, yes, he still has Parkinson’s disease.

Finally, it occurred to me that while he wasn’t being miraculously cured of this thus-far incurable disease, he is still able to do everything he could do before. He might do it slower. He might need some help on occasion. Perhaps as time goes on, he will need more help. But God has given us a full seven years since his diagnosis to continue to live a good life. And we have grown closer, and I have learned a bit more about patience. All small miracles.

My friend who has been diagnosed with cancer posted a picture on Facebook recently of her and her husband eating breakfast al fresco at Denver Biscuit Company, one of her favorite restaurants. In the photo, her husband is looking at her and has his arm gently around her neck, and they are both smiling. It is the sweetest picture, and I cried for an hour after seeing it. In fact, as I write these words, I am crying. Perhaps the miracle isn’t that her cancer will be cured (though I hope it will be) but that the two of them will grow ever closer as she tackles her future.

I will keep praying for miracles because God can do anything. But I will try to stop sitting back and waiting for a dead man to sit up or a leper to be cured and appreciate the small miracles that happen every day.

Here are my miracles….

Family Photo

This post linked to the GRAND Social

Thursday Thoughts

Tech-less Thursdays
You might recall that as part of my Lenten fasting, I am refraining from most technology each Thursday. Here’s what I used as my criteria for what I’m not using: If I was going to a cabin in the woods with no television, no wifi, no internet, but with a kitchen, I would bring along books, recipes, and my crocheting (along with my project patterns). So, I am allowing myself to use my iPad as my book (since all of my reading these days is done via ebooks), and for my existing crochet patterns and recipes that are on Pinterest. I don’t use my iPad for anything else, such as email, Facebook (except to post my blog in the morning), or Pinterest (except to access existing recipes or crochet patterns). I’ve tried to limit my use of my cell phone, but frankly haven’t been great about that. So here’s what I’ve discovered: the things I miss most are being able to walk over to my computer to check activity on my blog or to look at Facebook (during Lent, I turn off my computer once I’ve posted my blog in the morning), and television. Oh, television. I would have told you a month ago that not watching television one day a week would be a piece of cake. It really isn’t. I guess I just enjoy sitting in the evenings and watching TV with Bill. Instead, I go into the bedroom and crochet or read, and listen to the sound of faint music because Bill watches American Idol. All-in-all, I have discovered that it has been harder than I suspected it would.

Spring Gardening
Not surprisingly, the gardening schedule is different here in AZ than it is in Denver, and most other parts of the country. While non-Arizonans dutifully plant their vegetable seeds and small plants in the spring and harvest in the summer and fall, that schedule doesn’t work in the desert. Remember, in July, when the green tomatoes on my plants in Denver are just beginning to turn red, it is 110 degrees during the day at our AZ home, and only getting down to the upper 80s or low 90s at night. Only the hardiest plants, i.e. cacti and succulents, can survive the brutal heat. So much of the vegetable planting is done in late fall and early winter, and harvesting is completed by May. For the most part, I am unable to garden very much here, as we only visit for a short time in the fall and tomatoes don’t have time to grow, sprout fruit, and ripen in the time we are here in the winter. But I do plant some things. This year I planted herbs in pots (parsley, thyme, and basil). When we first purchased our house here in 2010, Jen and I put in a little teeny tiny rosemary plant that we got at the grocery store in a 2-in pot. We put that in the ground as we knew it was able to withstand the weather conditions. Here is what it looks like today…..

Rosemary 2016

And here is a photo of my beautiful romaine lettuce in a pot, after several cuttings, I might add……

Lettuce

…and All I Got Was This Crappy T-Shirt
Bill had pretty significant dental surgery on Friday. It required general anesthesia. Everything went fine, and except for the fact that he can’t chew on the right side of his mouth for four months (whaaaaat?), he is recovering nicely. We had seriously not been home for 15 minutes when our doorbell rang. “Who’s that?” Bill asks, as he always asks when the doorbell rings as though I am psychic or have x-ray vision and can see through the door. I’ll give him a break this time because he was only an hour out of general anesthesia. Anyway, it was someone delivering flowers. It being way past Valentine’s Day and way before my birthday, I couldn’t imagine why Bill was sending me flowers. Well, the flowers weren’t for me at all. They were for Bill from his dentist and his oral surgeon. Get well soon, the card said. A very nice thought, though I’m fully aware that a $50 expenditure on flowers is only a pittance of the thousands of dollars they will receive from the dental work. Still……

Bill's flowers

This Wine Tastes Like Cardboard
Bill and I have, well, let’s call it simple taste in wine. Quite frankly, we’re cheapskates. But the other day I was at our big, nice liquor store and decided to get a bottle of wine to share that evening with Bec, who was coming for dinner. I was going all out and gave myself permission to spend upwards to $15 on a bottle of wine. CRAZY! Anyway, I went to the area where they have their nicest wines and began perusing the bottom shelf where the prices are more affordable. I ended up buying a bottle of an Argentine Malbec that was only $9.99. I was willing to pay more, but they description amused me……

wine description

Inky and concentrated with robust flavors of black fruit, cigar box, and chocolate. Cigar box? Really? The dinner never happened and so the wine has yet to be opened. Until then, I will just sniff Bill’s cigar boxes.

Ciao.

Thursday Thoughts

They Like Me; They Really Like Me
I complain a fair amount about social media. It’s true I am wholly uninterested in reading about anybody’s political beliefs, no matter their party. I’ve gotten friend requests from people I’ve never heard of, but I simply ignore them, so no harm, no foul. Sorry if it’s from someone I should know, but I’m 62 years old and while I can remember my best friend’s phone number from nearly 50 years ago, I can’t remember the name of the people I met yesterday. But here’s something I DO like about social media. In the past few months, I have connected up via Facebook with some old friends from high school. They don’t post much, nor do I (except for my daily blog post), but I hear from some of them once in a while either on Facebook or my blog, and I simply LOVE that. After my post yesterday, one of those long-lost friends posted a comment in which he provided a tip that he thought might help me with my health issues. It seriously made me tear up. How nice to have friends from that long ago who care enough to take time to comment on my silly blog. Thanks to all of you who are paying attention to me still after all these years!

Hungry
After no food the day before and a process through which I cleared my digestive system fully in preparation for yesterday’s procedure, I woke up yesterday morning feeling tired and cranky. Even Bill noticed the difference. He’s used to the cranky part, but I’m generally well-rested. I told him I wasn’t quite sure what to expect following the appointment. But the good news is once the procedure was completed, I was given the go ahead to eat anything I wanted. We drove quickly to our favorite little breakfast spot – a family-owned café called The Little Kitchen — and got in under the gun for breakfast. Because I was breaking the fast. Get it?  I’m not sure when I’ve had a meal that tasted so good to me. I was unable to take anything by mouth yesterday morning prior to the procedure (which meant no food, no water, and NO COFFEE!). After breakfast, and three cups of coffee, I was a new woman. Well, not new, really, but the old woman that Bill is used to. Here’s proof that I enjoyed the breakfast….

Breakfast after fast 2.16

Would You Like to Buy Some Girl Scout Cookies?
That is how I’m greeted coming out of nearly every store I visit these days. The girls are always so adorable, but I am forced to explain to them that I have two granddaughters who are Girl Scouts, and if I bought my cookies from someone other than them, there would be hell to pay. As it is, I purchased five boxes of Girl Scout cookies from Kaiya and five boxes of Girl Scout cookies from Maggie Faith. Both girls either Face Timed me or telephoned me and gave me their pitch. Thanks to both mommies who took the time to send them to me. Now I am faced with the problem of having given up sweets for Lent. But never fear, they are being safely stored in the freezer until Easter Sunday when the Lord will rise and I can eat Girl Scout cookies. Well, except for the Thin Mints, which Bill has slowly and secretly devoured. No problem, because they are my least favorite. But has anyone tried the new Savanna Smiles? They are like crack, I’m telling you. I had a couple before Ash Wednesday, and they are irresistible. The good news? Bill wouldn’t touch a lemon cookie with a 10-foot pole, so they are all mine, mine, mine. After Easter, that is. A peek at my freezer….

Girl Scout cookies

Speaking of Easter…..
I made a darling crocheted Easter basket that I am selling in my Etsy shop for a mere $15. Here are a couple of photos….

Bunny easter basket

austin easter basket (2)

Remember to stop by my shop when you have a chance. It’s called Nanas Whimsies Shop (no apostrophe, which offends my writer’s sensibility, but I’m not King of Etsy), and here’s the link.

Ciao!

40 Days

I have barely put away the Christmas wrapping paper. I mean that. Just the other day I put the last roll of wrapping paper bearing the images of reindeer and Santa into my bedroom closet (which is the Place Where Everything That Doesn’t Belong in the Garage Goes to Live).

And here it is – Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent. The first of 40 days and 40 nights (or so) of sacrifice and prayer in preparation for Christ’s death and resurrection. Put away my Christmas stuff, give a brief shout-out to Valentine’s Day, and start crocheting bunnies, all within about a two week period.

Every year (as you know if you’ve been reading my blog since the beginning) I give great thought to how I’m going to live my Lent. From the time I was a little girl of 7 (the so-called Age of Reason in the Catholic Church), I have “given up” something to show God how deeply appreciative I am of Christ’s sacrifice. Because not eating chocolate and dying a painful death on the cross are so much alike.

As a little girl, I always gave up desserts. That actually wasn’t that much of a sacrifice since Mom rarely made us dessert and we always gave ourselves Sundays off. As Charlie Sheen would say, “Wow. Winning.” But that wasn’t as bad as the year that Court, probably about 10 at the time, announced he was giving up chicken for Lent. He didn’t like chicken then and isn’t a big fan now. I put the nix on that idea very quickly. That was probably the beginning of Court’s spiritual plunge.

I love the gospel of St. Matthew read at Ash Wednesday Mass.

When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door. And pray to your Father in secret. When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance so that they may appear to others to be fasting. When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face so that you may not appear to be fasting.

imagesIt gives me pause, and the reason is that I always wonder if I’m being a hypocrite when I start talking about what Big Thing I’m going to do for Lent. Perhaps I should just keep it to myself.

But I write a blog, and I’m certain you are all interested.

I recently read something on Facebook which said something like could you live in a cabin in the woods for 30 days with no access to your phone, your computer, your television, your iPad, or any other type of technology.

Pfff, I thought. Of course I could. As long as I can read a book, er, on my iPad. And as long as I can check Facebook every day (well, a few times a day). And as long as I don’t have to miss Downton Abbey or American Idol.

Ok, so maybe I couldn’t do it for 30 days, but maybe I could do it for one day. One day a week. One day a week for five weeks.

So, that’s my challenge. I am giving up all technology one day a week for Lent. I will post my blog on the Day of No Technology, but will then shut off my computer until the next morning. And my phone. And my iPad (except to read since all my books are ebooks).

And no sweets, every day, even on Sundays. For old times’ sake.

Yikes.