This time I won a few . . .

It’s always a good day when you gain more than you lose. And the week just past was pretty good for me. I learned a couple of new things and re-learned a couple of golden oldies.

Saturday morning I lit my water heater. A first for me. I live in a 1940’s era house that had an old water heater when I moved in 15 years ago.  Every time the wind blew a little bit the pilot light went out. Since said heater was old, to relight it meant to lie on the floor with a fireplace match or something similar (my youngest son rigged a bent clothes hanger with a go-fer match). Then the process was to hold down the button while poking the lit match into the center of the tank and hoping after the task was complete you still had a full head of hair.

A couple of years ago, I bought a new water heater. Imagine my vexation the first time the wind blew out the pilot light! Admittedly, it was hurricane force winds that also broke tree branches, not the slight breeze that had accomplished this feat in the past. But still!

Not to worry. The new little beauty has a striker, similar to the one on a gas range, that relights the pilot. Eventually.

This past week was windy, but mild. Those stiff breezes should not have had enough energy to blow through the vent and extinguish the flame, but I noticed Friday afternoon that the hot water wasn’t hot.

Since the directions for the relighting of the pilot were printed on the bottom 1/4 of the tank, sitting on the floor was necessary. I did all the things it said: turn knob counter clockwise to “off”. Then turn clockwise to “pilot.” While holding the button in, push the striker once a second for as many as 90 seconds! Italics and exclamation point mine. Supposedly, before 90 seconds passed the monitor light would commence flashing to let you know the pilot was on. Do you know how long 90 seconds is?

I was not sure I was brave enough to do this, but determined to conquer, I held the button down with one hand and pushed the striker with the other. The pilot caught on the 37th strike!  Thankyoulord.

Another challenge met this week: I learned how to work Sudoku. I love crosswords and other word puzzles but I have never mastered the number game.

My children are all in the “There’s an APP for that” generation, so at Christmas, my daughter, Kathy, put a sudoku app on my Kindle Fire. On it I can play the easy easy easy game (that lights up the number when it’s put in the wrong place). I have played it every day.  Last weekend I tried to solve the sudoku puzzle in the newspaper, using the same strategies. Sure enough, (after several hours and lots of erasures) I had success. All the numbers lined up correctly. Now that’s something I thought I would never be able to do.

The things I relearned are a little personal to go into here, except to say I may have once again become aware of the truth of certain cliches: “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” But it’s not all small stuff. So “choose your battles,” otherwise when something important comes along you won’t have energy to respond because you have ruptured your eccrine gland sweating the small stuff.

I also re-learned the admonition: Never rent a movie if the last word in the title is “2”.

One Week To Live

footwashing

What would you do if you knew you had only one week to live?

Would you go away? Would you go home?

Would you do some last minute sinning, or some last minute repenting?

Would you be sad? Angry? Hopeful? Afraid?

How would you spend those final hours?

Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. (John 13:1)

With one week to live, Jesus chose to wash his disciples’ feet. He did the work of a common slave, ministering to those who were closest to him. He washed their feet (John 13), he comforted them (John 14), he encouraged them (John 15-16), prayed for them (John 17), and then he died for them.

He spent the last week of his life fulfilling his purpose; he spent the last week of his life being a servant.

…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:28)

You and me, we have a week to live: this week — and most probably hundreds more.

I want to spend this week fulfilling my purpose, doing that which is most important in terms of eternity: serving Christ by serving others.

. . . . . . . . . . 

This post for Holy Week is from my son Steve May’s blog, found at http://stevemay.com/

Happy Leap Day

Leap Day

 

Tomorrow is February 29, a day that comes around only every four years. I say, this is a special day, right? That should be reason to celebrate.

My friends Rhonda and Gary were married on February 29. I can’t remember if this is their 8th or 9th celebration. They say they chose Leap Day because it would be an easy date for Gary to remember. However, I’m thinking, since at one time there was a tradition that it was permissible during Leap Year for the woman to propose . . . maybe . . . no . . . a woman asking a guy to marry her is pretty much permissible at any time now, so never mind. In Greece it’s considered unlucky to marry on Leap Day. But it seems to be working out well for Gary and Rhonda.

I don’t know anyone who was born on February 29, but it happens. In fiction, Gilbert and Sullivan, in their comic opera Pirates of Penzance, used the novelty of a leapling (Leap Year baby) as a plot twist. Frederic, our hero, was apprenticed to a band of pirates until his 21st birthday. However, since he was born on February 29 that date wouldn’t arrive until he was 84 years old.

(BTW, there is a delightful movie of Pirates, made in 1983 with Angela Lansbury, Linda Ronstadt [who knew she could sing opera?], and a very young Kevin Kline.)

A memorable Leap Year occurrence: On February 29, 1940, Hattie McDaniel was the first African American actor to win an Academy Award (Oscar) for her role in Gone With The Wind.

But back to celebrations. Perhaps I should throw a party. Serve food I can bear to eat only once every four years (if that often). Sushi, eel, anchovies, escargot, turnip greens, oysters, kale.  Some of that stuff I have never eaten. Can you guess the rest of the story?

In Anthony, Texas, population 5,000, there is a quadrennial birthday party for Leap Year Babies. It began in 1988, rather a whim of a council woman who felt the need to have her birth date recognized when it came around. The idea grew and grew and now there are 300 members of the Anthony Birthday Club of Leaplings, some living as far away as Europe. As many as can come every four years to celebrate with a town parade and festival.

So there’s our celebration! Of course, Anthony, is 950 miles from Arkansas. It sits in the shadow of El Paso, at the tip of Texas that juts out into New Mexico. Maybe not this year, but think about 2020. Who here doesn’t love a parade and town festival?

 

The Fourth Week of Advent

Mary, the Chosen One

God sent the angel Gabriel to speak to Mary. The message Gabriel brought? God wanted Mary to play a special role in his divine plan. Even though she was an unlikely candidate for the job. Females in Jewish society were not seen as persons of much value. They were often considered property. They had no rights of their own; certainly a woman would not be seen as one who could have a hand in saving the world.

How shocking that God chose a young virgin to bear God’s son. But, that’s the way it is with God. He calls unlikely people. God didn’t ask Mary if she was willing. He expected her to obey.

Mary asked the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, but he didn’t explain exactly how the Virgin Birth would work. He told her God would take care of things. God would be with her.

That was enough.

With a gigantic leap of faith, Mary accepted God’s call.

When God calls us to a task, may we be as courageous as Mary and Joseph.  May it be enough for us to know God will always be with us and that with God nothing is impossible.

 

It Takes Longer with Auto-Correct

Have you ever sent a text that said, “I love Y2K”? Well, I almost did. And if you have, then you probably have auto-correct on your phone.

I bought a new cell phone. I didn’t really need one except that my old flip phone was 10 years old, had lots of dead zones, and to text I had to punch 2 three times for C, once for A, and twice for B, etc. So, since my children are always urging me to move into the 21st Century, I purchased an inexpensive ‘smart’ phone.

My daughter, Kathy, set it up for me and on the wedding weekend we had short tutorials about usage.  I have really enjoyed being able to shoot questions or short messages via text.

What I have not enjoyed is auto-correct. FYI, this is a device in the ‘smart’ phone that thinks it knows what you want to say. It will finish your words for you without being asked and if you make a typo it will automatically correct it.  On the surface this sounds like a good thing but in reality ‘after’ might become ‘Afghanistan’ or ‘you’ become ‘Y2K’.

Now, I will hold my spelling skills up against the smartest a.c. But I will admit I make typos on my phone because the letter keys are smaller than the tips of my fingers and it’s hard to hit just one.

I needed to text my son the address where the wedding guests were housed. It was on Meline Street. I typed it carefully, slowly, accurately. Auto-correct changed it to Melinda. I tried again — malady — malign — melody.  Phillip needed the correct address to put in his GPS.  Just before being thrown in the toilet, the a.c. accepted ‘Meline’. What an exercise in frustration!

Recently, I saw a blurb on facebook: “Get rid of auto-correct. We’re tired of this shirt.”  Now that’s funny.

Yesterday a good friend at work asked if I would like a stylus, even though I do not have an iPad. I said sure, maybe it would work on my phone. OMIGOSH! This little stick makes all the difference in my texting skills. My peeps will receive no more bizarre messages.

Life is serene again.

Remembering the obsolete

Recently I received an email article (maybe you did too) naming all the things that will disappear from our lives during the next ten years (books, landlines, newspapers, etc.). I think I’ve found another item that might soon be gone: the electric can opener.

My twenty-year-old model gave out around Christmas and since then I have been making do with a manual twist-a-lot type. But with my age and a dab of arthritis and a smidgen of carpel tunnel syndrome, this is becoming more difficult. So, I took myself to Wal-mart in search of a new electric can opener, hopefully with a knife sharpener attachment.

I strolled up and down the aisles of small appliances: crock pots, rice cookers, pasta makers, microwaves, blenders, popcorn poppers, toasters, toaster ovens and coffee makers of every size and type. But nowhere among the shelves of various gadgets did I spot the can openers.

On the end of one counter was a display of the manual type I already owned, but none that would give the ease of attaching a can and pushing a button to remove the lid.

I spotted a young lady straightening stock. Her name tag indicated she was an employee, so I asked where I might find what I was looking for.

I’ll digress here a bit to say that the employees (called “associates”) in this Wal-mart are excellently trained for customer service. Whenever I have asked one for help they have stopped what they were doing and helped!

The associate confidently led me around to the next aisle and stopped short.

“Oh, they were right here. I guess they’ve been moved. They might be on the Clearance shelves.”

“Clearance!?”

Are they being phased out? I know some food companies are moving to the pull tops on their cans, but don’t get me started on that. The tab breaks halfway through the process and since the top lip is too deep for a traditional can opener and the bottom is rounded, there is no way to finish opening the can without using a hammer and chisel.

Well, thankfully, the electric can openers were not in the clearance section and, after enlisting help from a couple of other associates, my young lady found them. On a lower shelf under about 150 blenders.

Three. That’s right three (3) electric can-openers (with built-in knife sharpener and bottle opener) for me to choose from. I quickly grabbed one before they became completely obsolete.

It’s hard to believe that in Wal-Mart, where you can choose from dozens of tablets, hundreds of shirts, shelves of pain relievers, a fleet of bicycles, and a garden center full of plants, the electric can opener may be going the way of the VCR.

March: In Like a Cold, Wet Lion

Who hasn’t heard the prediction of how the month of March might make its entrance and exit? In like a lion, out like a lamb. We grew up to expect it, much like the tradition around Groundhog Day.

However, according to the  2014 Almanac I received (compliments of Shelter Insurance), March just might have a mind of its own. This year, look for it to be in like a lion, out like another lion.

If  you wonder how the Almanac makes long-ranged weather predictions with 80% accuracy, so do I. I visited Mr. Google and asked the question.  The answer was “a formula that is a combination of solar science, weather patterns and meteorology”. So, I still don’t know –  because in school science was my worse thing.

The Almanac weather forecast for March 1-3 is for blizzard-like conditions across the Great Plains. Very snowy and cold in the Rockies. Rain or snow for Pacific Northwest states, then clearing and cold. Arkansas is not mentioned specifically but the local weathermen say we will be affected by all that weather west of us.

The last week of the month is predicted to have thunderstorms from Texas to Alabama that may spawn tornadoes. Storms from the Pacific states will sweep across the Northwest. There should be snow in New England with heavy rain to the south.

That sounds about right.

Out like a lamb? I’m afraid not.

Birthday Surprises

Today is my 80th birthday. I’m sure that you expect some deep words of wisdom from the vantage point of my advanced age. Well – not going to happen. This ain’t Tuesday and I ain’t Morrie.

I will admit that 50 years ago if I even thought I’d make it to this place I sure didn’t think I’d enjoy it.  I’m happy to be surprised about that.

My family held a birthday party for me last July when we met in Nashville, Tennessee for vacation. It was a surprise for me with cake and presents and fun, without the stress and pressure of everyone trying to manage a get-together in the Fall.

There was a second birthday event at lunch with my Red Hat Ladies on Thursday. It’s tradition that the birthday girl wears a red outfit and purple hat. After the servers in the restaurant got everyone’s attention by shouting and clapping, the Red Hatters played “Happy Birthday to You” on their kazoos.

Friday, at work, I was very surprised with a spread of brunch food, flowers and a card shower. I was touched that my co-workers found time in a busy day to honor me. This time I got the song in English and Cherokee.  Most special was when each said “something nice about Ms. Dorothy.” We almost had crying time.

Today has been relatively quiet. I attended church where I received a round of applause for reaching the 80th mile marker. I have more birthday cards than Walmart, 50+ friends have sent wishes on Facebook, there have been phone calls from family and a celebratory nap.

A great birthday!

Autumn

October is absolutely my favorite month of the year.

Breathless anticipation fills the dawn
On first emerging from my deepest sleep,
A sense of wonder that will soon be gone,
A fleeting pleasure never meant to keep.
What is the beauty I must see today?
Must know before it quickly slips away?
Ah, yes. My spirit soars! It is October.

The patio is cold to my bare feet
And moving wind chimes make their tinkling sound
As squirrels appear and hastily retreat
Through falling leaves of red orange green yellow brown.
I’ll breathe the crisp cool air before it goes
Pushed onward by the winter’s chilling snows,
Then wait the seasons through. For next October.

© Dorothy Hatfield 2004