Random Acts of "Kindness"

Archive for December, 2012


I guess it is time I join the 21st century. I have been trying without success. When we were in Florida, I used my daughter’s I-Pad and did such a good job of screwing it up it took her 20 minutes to fix.

My son let me use his I-Pad. We took it on vacation and I was able to use the GPS. Thankfully, I didn’t get into trouble. He wasn’t with us to fix it. Thinking positive, I took it to the country with us. Although I didn’t crash it, I wasn’t able to do anything either.

I have a regular cell phone. It just makes calls and takes pictures. You can’t play games or get all the new apps that are advertised. It doesn’t have a GPS nor does it talk to me.

My grandchildren, ages 3 and 6 are very proficient with their mom’s I Pad. I’m embarrassed.

My husband gave me a Kindle Fire for Christmas. I won’t bore you with all my failures. In order to use it, it has to be unlocked. Really? My son showed me how — evidently I didn’t pay close enough attention. Five minutes later, I’m frustrated — looking for a window to evict it.

Once upon a time, products came with paper books that explained how to use them. I miss paper.

I am making progress. I have hopes for me. I bought a stylus which helps me to type, or enter a password. I actually was able to access my e-mail. Progress.

I like to read books, turn paper pages. I don’t know if I will ever be comfortable reading e-books. I’m sure my “friends in high places” are already proficient using the smart phones, I-Pads and tablets. I’m not planning to ask for their help.

Hopefully I’ll spend some time each day getting comfortable with the Kindle fire. Step by step — I’m stubborn — I’m hoping to make it my friend.


Every once in a while, I’m aware that I’m receiving “help” from “the other side”. Evidently, that is what is occurring now. Why we are seeing this indentation is beyond me. Back to my original thought, if it hasn’t disappeared.

They are ALWAYS very active in my life at Christmas. I was on target with the things I wanted finished for Christmas. I planned to bake cookies on Saturday and Sunday. GOD LAUGHED. I had a high fever and spent those days in bed. I wish I could say that I have completely recovered from the sickness but I don’t lie very often.

The cookies did get made but they ended up being in the oven longer than necessary and  received more color than usual. Sad to say, that seemed to be the case for everything I made that week. No longer with a fever but far from normal.

Fringe benefit, while sick, I lost a couple of pounds.  The trick will be to keep them off. Christmas Day, anyone wishing for a white Christmas in Chicago, got their wish. A couple of inches fell this morning.

Family Christmas — Despite sickness and car trouble, we gathered at our house and enjoyed the family. Both children made out like bandits. Our granddaughter told me, the doll house that I received as a gift, was going home with her. It was a FAVORITE. Our grandson, age 6 and 3/4 was able to put together a Lego following the blueprint. Both of us were impressed.

Just for the record, if this spacing makes it onto the blog, I DIDN’T SET IT UP, NOR CAN I FIX IT. Welcome friends.

Evidently they are not too upset with what I’m writing, it hasn’t disappeared yet.

I received two unexpected gifts that I can only credit with “spirit”. I received a check for the grand total of 72 cents from iuniverse as royalty on books that were published in 2000 and 2005. I don’t know which book was purchased. The fact that they are still available is remarkable.

The second gift came as an e-mail offer from our mortgage holder. Since I don’t often go on line I almost missed their offer to refinance our house at a lower interest rate at no cost to us.

If I was healthy, I’m sure I would be able to detect more instances where they were active in my life. Sometimes, it is meant to remain just between us.

Transferring my writing to the BLOG, the spacing corrected itself. I guess some things, as well as happenings are for my eyes only.


My husband told me that I look at the world through innocent eyes. I guess that he is right. I prefer to look at the good in a situation instead of the evil. There is enough sadness and evil in the world to focus on it.

In my neighborhood, the mailboxes have gone into hiding. Three boxes that were on the corners near my house have disappeared. Talking to some of the residents in our neighborhood, I’ve learned that they aren’t the only ones. More have disappeared, whether it is cost cutting by the post office or plans to repair them remain to be seen. It is no longer easy to mail a letter. I’m sure I could give our letters to the mailman, but I never know who he or she will be or when they are coming. I dislike leaving checks out in our mailbox, hoping they won’t land in the wrong hands. Therefore I go for a longer walk. Thankfully I’m usually able to do so. I hate to think of a world without mail delivery. I don’t want everything to rely on the computer. I LIKE hard copies of our checking account, and bills. I still miss information, but on line, I would miss even more.

I know that some of the problems the post office is experiencing stems from the use of the internet. To date, I don’t pay our bills on line or do our banking. I know that many banks are safe, but I have heard of too many instances when accounts have been hacked. So, not only do I have innocent eyes but I guess I’m old fashioned too.

I like to read real books. To turn the pages, and (Don’t tell Sister) sometimes underline or make notes on the page.  I like to send and receive Christmas cards. A couple of years ago, I sent out a Christmas letter with the card. One year, the cards went out without the letter. I heard from many of our friends and relatives that they missed the letter. This year a letter was enclosed. Just a short note of the joys and trials of the year. Hopefully more joys than sorrows. This year’s letter announced my BLOG.

I like the internett cards. They usually are animated and are fun to watch. But I can’t keep them or hang them on the wall. I like receiving real cards in return. Sometimes they contain a short note telling me how things are going.  Some years I hang them on the arches. Some years, life is too busy. I like the pictures of the growing kids. I always keep the cards for at least a year. Many times the person who sent it goes home before the next Christmas. Then the card goes into my keep pile. Not only do I have their name, but a sample of their writing and perhaps a short note. Of course, the subject of the card, reflects the person too. Sadly, my keep stack gets bigger each year.


When I was writing To Pap, With Love, I had trouble sleeping past 4:oo AM. My father thought his brain worked better at that hour of the morning, and even though he was retired, he set his alarm clock to wake up. My aunt Connie agreed. She liked to be up that early. I DON’T AGREE! I think I need more sleep. To respond to this early morning wake up call, I wrote VOICES. A thought ramble in which “my friends” discussed waking me up, and keeping me up.

This morning, this idea popped into my head. I have discovered that if I verbally acknowledge that I have gotten the message, we can proceed onto other challenges.

Imagine if you will — a group of family members and friends on the other side, gathered for a morning meeting. I seem to be their favorite topic. Let’s listen in as I imagine their conversation.  Many voices are heard.

“Well, do you think she is paying attention?”
“I could hit here on the head! She would notice!”
“No! Give her a chance; she has been traveling so much she is tired.”
“She should be rested by now. She has been home for three weeks.”
“It took us two weeks to get her writing, posting things on her blog.”
“She only wrote because you had Bob (at restaurant, man carrying for mother with Alzheimer’s) remind her of how important it was to share her stories. She didn’t know we were behind the message.”
“But she started writing again. Mission accomplished!”
“I could bop her on the head!”
“I helped; I caused the books on the bookshelf to cascade.”
“So, she just straightened them out, removing a couple, making it harder to fall.”
“But she looked at the notebook. She was reminded of the website for purchasing pet angel ornaments.”
“It didn’t penetrate.”
“I could hit her on the head!”
“Is that your only idea?”
“It WORKS! She tries to think of what she is missing.”
“She posted THE CHRISTMAS TREE on the blog from last year. She read it first. She remembered Tidbit when she walked to the post office. I’m sure she will look for a new angel for the tree.”
“She isn’t exercising, losing weight!”
“I reminded her of her cookbooks, all the low fat recipes to try!”
“I guess we still have a job to do! At least she is aware of some of the messages we were trying to get through.”
“She has to KEEP WRITING. Tell her new stories. We can help!”
“We just have to keep trying.”
“She REALLY NEEDS our help!”
“I can always bop her on the head!”

After I wrote this thought ramble, I went to Joann Fabrics after some material. When I picked up the bolt of fabric, it bopped me on the nose. I laughed. Was someone listening? Did they like it?


I’ve read that we dream every night. I suppose that I do, but most of the time I don’t remember them. Sometimes I wake very tired, and decide that I must have been VERY busy while I was asleep. Then there are a few that stay with me when I wake. Sometimes, they are very good dreams, puzzling sometimes — I don’t know what they mean. Or they are normal dreams — but they must have some message because they stay with me. Then there are those that are troubling, that wake me — glad that I’m safe, that it was just a dream.

I had one of those troubling dreams Tuesday night. Dark storm clouds roared in — I wasn’t home and wanted to make sure my family and pets were okay. I returned to the place we were staying and got everyone inside. That is when I noticed the building next door had been on fire, charred wood rubbed against our window.

Dangerous storm, charred wood — definitely woke me from my sleep. It took a few minutes before I realized it was a dream, we were safe. Then I went downstairs. I noticed a red light on our dishwasher — it was still on, even though I started the dishes at 7:00 P.M. As I approached, I felt heat coming from the unit. I had a hard time shutting it off. It wanted to keep running. Opening the door, I noticed the soap had not dispensed, there was no water in the tub. Somehow the heat turned on, and remained on for more than eleven hours. Everything inside was too hot to touch. Luckily we rinse our dishes, so I didn’t have a lot of food that was baked on. The dishwasher was loaded, everything needed to be hand washed and soaked to a)cool off, and b) loosen any food that had baked on. The edge of a cutting board melted, our son’s round glasses were now oval.

At 7:00 AM, I phoned a repair shop and was surprised when someone answered the phone. The technician arrived by 10. But the news was not good. Our dishwasher was more than 10 years old. He determined that the problem was the timing mechanism, which opened the soap, turned on the water, etc., in other words — ran the program. Next piece of bad news, he didn’t have one, it would need to be special ordered. The total cost of parts and labor was over $400.

We are celebrating Christmas at our house on the 22nd. I NEEDED a working dishwasher. I DIDN’T WANT TO WASH ALL THE DISHES BY HAND. I remembered washing holiday dishes for hours in my grandmother’s kitchen when I was a child. Her kitchen was twice as big as mine.  I wasn’t sure spending $400 on an older one was a wise move.

I considered buying the same brand that had given us good service for more than ten years. I like to support our local businesses when I can.  When I called our local appliance dealer, he said that was the last brand he would buy at this time, the company had been sold, the product was being made in Mexico and requiring more service calls than normal.

He had a dishwasher that would fit our needs, which was delivered and installed today.

Black, heavy storm clouds, burnt wood — definitely a warning. I’m glad we didn’t actually have a fire. I will admit that it was not the way I would have spent money two weeks before Christmas. But I’m spoiled! I like having an automatic dishwasher.

My “friends in high places” get excited around Christmas. They are always happy to help.


Our younger grandchildren are growing too fast. Daniel used to love Thomas the Train and other trains. He is into Transformers now. Isa has no interest in trains, unless her brother is playing with them. We have a few plastic trains that are sitting in a bin gathering dust. “CHRISTMAS IS COMING” The reminder is everywhere.

In the quiet years before more grandchildren joined our family, I collected quite a few Christmas Village houses. In fact I had a large display set up in the room off our dining room and a Victorian village on our dining room buffet. Once Daniel was born, the huge village remained in their crates in the basement but the Victorian villager remained on the buffet. After a few years, the Victorian village was retired and a fishing village took its place. Both Daniel and Isa LIKE to play with the people and horses in the village.

I gave their mother enough houses to set up a small village but the best space for them is too high for the children to play with. “Gramma, do you have some houses for me? Would you bring them to my house?”
This request found me digging through stuff in the basement. The houses were not that easy to get at but I did find a few. In the process, I also found a dump truck for a one or two year old child. More toys that were gathering dust.

How could I get them to some kids that would enjoy them? Questions, questions, questions — no answer. Until today. I had to go to the post office to mail a letter. On the way home, I decided to take a short walk, passing by a store that had a sign in the window about a Toys for Tots pickup the next day.

None of the toys I had were new, but they had received gentle love and were in good condition. I asked the woman in charge if I could donate them. She told me to bring them in, if they couldn’t be used by the Toys for Tots, she was sure they would be given to the Salvation Army. Either way, they would no longer be gathering dust in my house. Some kids would be playing with them.


I’ve mentioned that the Blessed Virgin Mary, in all of her names, appears to be involved in my life at various times. My mother’s name was Marie. I wonder if that is were the link comes from. Either way, tomorrow is the feast day of Our Lady Of Guadeloupe. My father had her face in a framed photo. I didn’t know who she was, but I liked the photo and clamed it for myself. Years passed and the photo became damaged. I searched in vain for a replacement. One day, I saw and recognized the face I had been searching for. It was on a photo of Our Lady Of Guadeloupe. Just another game of hide and seek.

While my grandchildren are getting too big, too fast, I am growing old too fast. I would blame it on the season, trying to get too much done. And hopefully that is all it is. Yesterday I was at the bank, taking care of business. I was at the teller’s window. The form I needed wasn’t at the desk. I reached for my glasses and  they were not in the case I keep them in. I looked to see if they were hanging from my neck. NOPE! I must admit I panicked. I gathered up my passbook, money and forms and told the teller I would be back. I NEEDED to find my glasses. As I left the bank, I realized my glasses were where they should be. On the bridge of my nose, over my eyes. Evidently the teller didn’t notice or just thought I was nuts. My story gave many people a laugh that day.


There is a well known saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will come. Evidently I was ready. High sugar has been a concern for awhile, not for me, but for my husband. I will admit that I knew carbohydrates: bread, pasta, white potatoes contained more sugar. But I didn’t know how to interpret the data.

Last night I watched a program on our public television station. The nutrionist gave a formula to convert carbohydrates to teaspoons of sugar. Total carbohydrates minus fiber divided by five equals the number of teaspoons of sugar in the food.  The goal — no more then 10 teaspoons of sugar a day. This morning, I looked at my husband’s favorite breakfast — English muffins with peanut butter and jelly and understood why his sugar numbers are up.

I won’t say “my friends in high places” are always around. Truthfully I never know if they are until they make their presence known. This week, for some unknown reason, stuff is falling off the high shelf in the pantry. I won’t mention how long some of the stuff has been up there. But why was it falling now?

Sometime in the past year, I heard a report that mentioned that as a person ages, they produce less acid in their stomach. One of the solutions given was to drink one tablespoon of unpasturized apple cider vinegar in a glass of water two to three times a day. I have been following that advice with good results.

We are going to our younger daughters this week. I usually take some apple cider vinegar with me. I transfer some into a smaller glass bottle rather than taking the bigger bottle with me. When my Floridian daughter was in town, she labeled my bottle as a urine sample. That bottle was up on the top shelf of the pantry. It no longer is. It is now filled and ready for the trip. Was that the message I was supposed to get? I don’t know.

Christmas is coming. “My friends” are ready to help! And we know I need all the help I can get.


I wrote this last year at Christmas Time, before the BLOG. I thought I would share it with you this year.

Every year, it seems that the decorations for Christmas arrive in the stores earlier. It used to be that we celebrated Thanksgiving before the stores decorated for Christmas. Then Christmas decorations vied with Halloween costumes for space in the store. This year, the battle began before the children went back to school.

I’m old fashioned. I will admit it! I don’t put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving although I will admit that I might begin making presents earlier.

One of my favorite decorations is our Christmas tree. When we moved into our house, our son was barely crawling and my husband did not want him eating pine needles so we bought an artificial tree for $25. Year after year we put the tree up, decorated it with ornaments, tinsel and garlands. The tree appeared real as the branches sagged and spaces opened up. Our son referred to it as the Charley Brown tree.

The year finally came when instead of putting it in the basement, it joined other trees in the alley and we purchased a new tree. I thought we would buy a smaller tree since our children were married. I wondered where we would put all the ornaments that I had accumulated over the years. I didn’t need to worry. Our new tree was taller and fuller. There would be room for ALL of our ornaments.

This year as I decorated the tree I remembered the year my father, aunt and uncle helped my husband and I make ornaments from sequins. The sequins have lost their shine but the ornaments are precious since my father, aunt and uncle are no longer with us. Since they aren’t breakable, they take their spot on the lower branches of the tree. Of course the six small angels are the first to take their place on the high branches. (I wrote the story of the battle of the angels in JOURNEY WITH ME, titled WINGS. I had always credited my father with the extra “help” that I was receiving. forgetting that my mother and brother preceded him by many years. LESSON LEARNED)

I usually have the job of adding the ornaments. My husband puts on the lights and the angel sitting on the top. The large silver ornaments go around the tree trunk to help reflect the light. They were a present from a woman long ago. Then I add all the small older ornaments that rest over the summer, wrapped in tissue paper in their own box. Some of them are very old and heavy.

I won’t bore you with a description of all the ornaments. The angels increased again this year. I had to get a chocolate lab angel for Mabel to accompany our other four footed angels. More of our friends moved to the other side. Sue gave me an angel bell to remember the angels that got their wings. Besides the angels from my story of WINGS, I have Irish, and Hawaiian angels — crystal, copper and plastic. I was delighted with all the angels that I found.

Many of the ornaments remind me of trips we have taken – South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Hawaii to name a few. Others remind me of milestones in our life. When Rusty, our Irish Setter joined the family; I decorated the tree with red apples, Silver EGGs, and clear bells made from wine tasting cups. The breakable ornaments took the year off.  I haven’t put the red apples on the tree but I haven’t tossed them out yet either. The eggs and the bells always find a spot.

Our son made an ornament when he was in Kindergarten from a gold tube. It is always is in view. A stable scene dates from girlscouts. I received an ornament when I was a milk mother; I don’t remember how many years ago that was.  One year, Terri, our daughter in Florida asked if we got the two penguin ornaments that her kids had made. Nope, didn’t see them. The next year I used the same box to send our presents to Florida, and I found two penguins.

Gifts from friends have a place on the tree. When TO PAP, WITH LOVE was published, a friend gave me a rising star. Speaking of TO PAP, I found two bears with the date 2002, celebrating the year that book was published. They are not the only bears hiding in the branches. I also found a couple of ornaments celebrating JOURNEY, from 2007. I realized another five years have passed.

My Aunt Connie knew how much I enjoyed the ornaments on our tree. She gave me a box of her ornaments the year before she died. Clowns, M& M’s and other storybook characters joined the group.

Of course, there has to be Santa – opening the refrigerator, sitting in a chair, riding a train, fishing, etc. There are also a lot of horses. Isa, our youngest granddaughter was very happy when she saw them – they were right in her line of vision. Imagine that. Daniel, our younger grandson, didn’t notice the super heroes; he is into Transformers now.

The tree is too crowded now for some of our older ornaments. The popcorn cranberry garlands stay in the box with the apples.  But there is still room for MORE!

New note: Walking to the post office, I remembered that we had another dog angel, so I ordered Tidbits angel ornament. Weeks went by. On Sunday, 12/2/12  I continued to trim the tree, adding our dog and cat angel’s. The doorbell rang, Tidbit’s angel arrived to join the others.

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