Random Acts of "Kindness"

HEADACHE

Our grandchildren were in the backseat of our car as we headed to church on Sunday. They must have had too much sugar because they were full of spirit. So much so that I got a headache. At church service — the sung songs were accompanied by drums and guitar, than a big bongo set of drums. My head DID NOT LIKE the drumbeat. I exited the area and went out into the great space. I noticed the trays for communion were being assembled and re-entered the main church area. After communion, the next song was announced. I LOVE to sing it, but it is high energy and my head was providing its own drum beat. Once again I exited.

A young, tall male came out into the space. He did not look well. It was very apparent that something was wrong. He stayed by himself in one of the corners for awhile. When he was ready to rejoin the assembly in church, he passed by where I was sitting. I remarked that I could tell he was upset. He confided that it was the anniversary of a friend who had passed. I shared the story of chia tea. I was making a new batch on the anniversary of my father’s passing, when I noticed a magazine article detailing the benefits of the spices used in the brew. I mentioned that his friend was in a better place but could still interact with him if he was observant. I had just made another batch of chia tea on my son’s birthday. Often I’m rather slow to notice things. Later in the day I realized that even though my father passed over in 1995, he was still taking care of his family.

Monday, I was watching a channel on PBS. I wanted to watch another station and asked my daughter’s remote to change the channel. It is a marvelous piece of equipment — when it works. THIS TIME IT DIDN’T! I tried four times before giving up. PBS was having a membership drive. Over the past few days, I had watched two different programs on health — the benefits of vegetarian cuisine. Monday’s program was by Dr. Mark Hyman. His plan was not as limited, combining both meat and vegetarian food. Since my body seems to NEED meat, I was interested. The program was followed by “The Coast Of Ireland” — seals, whales and puffins.

It probably will come as no surprise when I mention that Costco had Dr. Mark Hyman’s book “Food, What the Heck should I eat?” when I visited the store. It is also no surprise when I say that I bought a copy.

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FOYER

I thought I remembered having a French easel. I thought I had stored it in the foyer. Lots of stuff is stored in the foyer. In order to find the easel, I had to remove a lot of stuff. The easiest place to start was with our coats. Now I’ll admit that most of our coats how hung out with us for more than a year or two. In fact, I found our youngest daughter’s high school jacket. She really liked that coat and wanted it back. No problem — I wasn’t going to donate it anyway.

I found winter gear from when I used to cross country ski. Lets not talk about how many years ago that was. Will I get my skies out again and go out and play in the snow? Doubtful but you never know. What I do know for sure is that it would be a minor miracle if I could get my body into the outfit. Donated!

I would love to say that I had a huge pile of coats to donate but I try not to lie. When I wear a coat that belonged to one of my daughters it is as they are giving me a hug. All the coats were hung up and I still have more stuff on the floor to investigate.

I found my French easel along with four bags of stuff and a box full of painting brushes and paints. One of the bags held books that contained photos of many of my paintings. A gentle reminder that once upon a time, I was able to paint. One of the bags held a lot of my beading supplies as well as 7 magazines. No wonder I couldn’t find my pliers. They were all together hanging out. I looked through the assortment of beads and stuff. At this point and time I have no idea what I had planned to do. I have no idea how long that bag lay hidden — waiting for me to find it. I looked inside the box. It contains many brushes and some oil paint. It would be a good box to travel with. It has a compartment for the board canvases. I still have 2 bags and the French easel to investigate.

I remembered a field easel that I had at the camper and wondered if I could get one for home. It is light weight and easy to move from one place to another. I don’t have a craft room at our house. My craft room and office is usually the dining room table. I didn’t want to have a painting camping out on it.

Saturday I went to an art show. A friend of ours was invited to show his wire sculpture. It was PACKED! I wandered through the room twice before I found our friend. And then, it was only because I asked for directions. I took advantage of the opportunity and spoke to many of the artists. I recognized some of the techniques that I have seen demonstrated on public television.

Yesterday we went shopping. As I stood in line at Wal-Mart, I noticed a natural red haired woman waiting ahead of me. I admired an Easter cross she was buying. “Its for the cemetery,” she said. I replied that my family’s bones might be there, but they weren’t. “Where are they?” she asked. “Right here” I replied. She shared that her brother in law was always around when she bakes. Her brother in law’s sign is a cardinal, her husband a robin. Both accompanied her when she had her cataracts removed. I think of aunt Connie when I see or hear a cardinal.

IN THE WEEDS

Once upon a time, I thought I had a good, working memory. I seldom wrote notes. I knew I would remember. Then something unexpected happened. I AGED. Although I still have a working memory — sometimes. I often forget what I’ve done the day before or the week before. Just for giggles, I write down the things I do each day. It helps when I’m trying to track stuff I’ve done. Then I get busy and don’t write things down. Then it is a memory test. I don’t win often enough.

Two things occurred recently that has brought this into my attention. Since I’m no longer working, and we are living a quieter life, I don’t bake except for cookies at Christmas. A couple of weeks ago I remembered a pineapple angel food cake that I had eaten years ago. At our younger daughters house, my grandson and I made the cake. I didn’t have good directions and although the cake wasn’t a flop, it wasn’t a success either.
I found the recipe for the cake on the internet and made it at home. This time it was a success — but my husband didn’t like it. It has a cool whip topping — not to his liking. I decided that I would make a chocolate cake with bought frosting for his birthday. Many years ago I remember a hint I was given that would improve a packaged cake. But I didn’t write the hint down, why? I would remember. Then the few people I called didn’t remember the hint either. I made the cake following the packaged directions. It was a success.

Then my second memory test of the week — I remembered making balsamic potatoes with pork that my family really liked. I knew I had made it in the winter but I couldn’t find a note as to what I had used or when I had made it. I finally found a date — November 26. But I hadn’t jotted down a note as to where I had found the recipe. I hadn’t jotted down a note as to what was in it or how long to cook it. Was I hoping I would remember. I was WRONG!

Late at night, I pulled out my huge white cookbook that I had compiled years ago. I keep adding recipes I find that I like to it and thankfully, I had written down the recipe and put it where I had a good chance to find it. The pork and potatoes were a success.

NUMBERS

Until my body parts started acting up, I never paid attention to my age. Sadly problems with my knees, and getting up out of a chair or out of the car brought my age into my attention. Then I fell — twice within a very short time. Going up or coming down the stairs. Thankfully I didn’t do major damage to any of my body parts. Now I go up or down rather carefully — paying attention to what I am carrying. I also hold on to the railings more often. I think the first fall was caused by carrying to much weight in both hands. I’ve determined the second fall was caused by the surface of my slippers being worn. I’m not sure they were the real reason. I haven’t regained my confidence or my speed navigating the stairs. Most days my knees are working better depending on the weather.

Then I got sick and lost more of my balance and energy. I’m still surprised that walking up to our church was too far of a walk for me. I determined that I was going to take Robin for at least one walk every day. Then the weather shifted, the snow came and the ice. Safety became a factor. Each day brings us closer to Spring. I’m hopeful that while I won’t be able to run up and down the stairs like in previous years — they won’t become a major handicap. In order to remain in our house, I have to be able to do the stairs.

Age isn’t the only number I haven’t been paying attention too. I don’t remember the ages of my children or grandchildren but I have solved that problem. I have their age and birth date on strips in my daily calendar.
I have strips for the birthdays of some of my friends so I remember to send a card.

The last anniversary of my blog came and I underestimated the number of years I had been writing. Because of my daily calendar, I usually know what the date and day of the week is. When we are in the country it is easy to lose track. Especially when we don’t have any specific plans.

So by now you must be wondering why I’m going on and on about numbers. Recently I was at the store, getting ready to check out. The elderly woman behind me had a cart piled with one brand, one flavor of frozen dinners. I stared at the cart — I was amazed to see so many of the same kind in a cart. I didn’t count the exact number she had. When I asked if that dinner was really good — she replied that she didn’t cook any more. I answered that I still did. Even if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to eat the same thing night after night. I can’t even eat the same foods week after week. I have a good friend, who is now on the other side — Thursday was pork chops and Friday was take out pizza. If I knew what the rest of the week was I don’t remember.

I mentioned that experience to my husband. He calculated that I have cooked over 20,000 meals in my lifetime. And I’m still cooking!

OLYMPICS

I really don’t watch a lot of sports — some football in the winter, ice skating and hockey. But I LOVE to watch the Olympics. Especially the opening and closing ceremonies. This year I was prepared to watch the opening ceremonies. EXCEPT I was TIRED. I had only gotten 4 hours of sleep the night before and my body decided sleep was more important than television. I saw a few minutes when the ceremonies began. Children were leading the way. When I woke, the USA athletes were entering the arena. I saw a couple of countries then fell back to sleep. I missed the lighting of the flame. I have to admit that I wasn’t very happy that I had missed so much of the opening.

Strong winds delayed the skiing. I was able to watch the team ice skating, both days. I enjoyed it, I was able to stay awake. That has not continued. Because of coughing, I’m not getting enough rest. I watch the Olympics in our bedroom, upstairs. Lights off, under the covers. It doesn’t seem to matter if the lights are on and I’m on top of the blankets. I’ll still fall asleep.

What amazes me is that so far I have been awake to watch both the first and second gold medal won by the USA. The first was snow boarding, a 17 year new participant, one of seven children — all family members attending. He was so excited. It was a joy to watch. His first two runs hadn’t been exceptional but his third was unbelievable. And then the wait, will the last runs beat his score.

The second was also snow boarding. I’ll admit that I have no idea what the description of each jump (?) is. The announcer gets very excited. Has almost lost his voice. I slept through most of the runs for the second gold medal. I found myself awake in time to watch the final run.

Hopefully I will be awake for the ice skating. At least I understand the descriptions, even if I can’t tell one jump from another. I have enjoyed watching some of the cultural bits from the country. I was awake for the story of a group of aged women who dive for abalone from the bottom. The story goes that the men went to war and the women took over the diving. Sadly, I didn’t have my glasses on so I missed most of their ages and story.

It is also lovely to watch both the North and South Korean people competing as one nation. My prayer continues to be for world peace.

COUGHING

I did my best. When my son started coughing, I did my best to NOT CATCH whatever he had that was causing the problem. I was already coughing — admittedly it was a different cough — dry. I knew the cause — it was the blood pressure medicine I was taking. A friend of mine told me it made her cough too. At first the dry cough wasn’t too bad. Then since my blood pressure wasn’t decreasing, my doctor doubled the dose. My cough also increased. I was coughing so much my back started hurting.

Then my husband started coughing. The cough sounded similar to our son’s. My husband has emphysema, which often evolves into pneumonia. I didn’t like his color, I didn’t like the way he sounded. He didn’t think he needed to go to the doctor. Thankfully I had a well being doctor’s appointment scheduled for that week. He wasn’t better so he accompanied me. Meanwhile I didn’t like the way my cough sounded. It was no longer dry. Thankfully my husband’s lungs were clear but the doctor prescribed medicine for him anyway. My lungs were also clear — I got a new prescription for blood pressure medicine. I picked up the new medicine. The pills for my husband immediately worked to improve his condition. Sadly I was correct about the sound of my cough. It deepened and intensified. The weather in our area became much colder and snow was predicted. I thought the cough was just a cold and if I took care of it, drank plenty of fluids, stayed inside, it would soon be gone. I WAS WRONG.

Each evening the news announced the status of the flu — increasing in intensity, more people, especially children were dying. Both my husband and myself had gotten a flu shot in October. Neither one of us was running a fever. We were confident we didn’t have the flu. Normally I don’t take cough syrup but I went through ALL of the cough syrup in the house, even stuff I had for our grandchildren. For many reasons, I didn’t want to go outside — below zero temperatures and snow didn’t beckon. Except for coming downstairs for food or to cook I stayed on the second floor where it was warmer. Our Christmas tree remained up. When I was feeling better, I didn’t take it down because it occupied the space my son’s chair rested in. I didn’t want him by the windows. Then the tree stayed up because I didn’t have the energy to take it down.

Nine days of snow. Thankfully our son did most of the shoveling. My husband was feeling better, at 5:30 AM I was woken my the sound of shoveling. My husband wasn’t in bed. When I looked outside, I saw the top of his coat, dealing with the fresh snow. Under normal conditions, my husband LOVES to use the snow blower on the whole block. These weren’t normal conditions. But he took pity on our neighbors and didn’t start the machine. Both myself and our son expressed our opinion on his being outside shoveling. Our neighbors took pity on us. A few times our walk was shoveled. Once our front stairs were included. When all was said and done, we had more than 10 inches of snow. Normally I sweep the stairs. This wasn’t a normal time.

My back still hurt. I decided that Tai Chi — the gentle stretching would help it. Other than that — most days I got in less than 3,000 steps. I tried to get more sleep. Coughing didn’t help. Except for one day between the snow storms, I hadn’t been outside. When another big storm was predicted we traveled to the store for supplies — milk, bread ,and vegetables. Finally a littler bit of my energy returned. Enough to take off the ornaments and lights. To take down our Christmas tree. It was February — time for the tree to come down. I even got the stuff together to prepare for income tax.

I hadn’t been outside except for the store run in 10 days. I walked to our accountant — 7000 steps when I returned. I couldn’t believe how tired I was. His office was close to our church, a distance I normally walked. Both my back and knees HURT.

Caught — I was outside cleaning up the yard before the rain came. Working on the icy steps, shoveling a tiny bit of snow off our cellar doors. My son caught me. He had warned me not to go outside when the back was icy. Now he told me to put the shovel down. He would take care of the snow.

REPRIEVED

When I wrote my first book: “To Pap, With Love” — I had high hopes. I thought I would sell many copies myself. I applied for an Illinois Sales Tax number, so that I would be legal, and able to report my income. I hate to admit that I was mistaken. Since the book was of limited interest, the sales were also limited. I have learned that it has helped many people and has a life of its own, moving from place to place. It is still available on line. As is my second book, “Journey With Me.” Although of wider interest, it didn’t generate income.

For over five years I have filled out the State Sales tax form. Some years I have had no problems. Other years, a phone call was needed. I was happy last year when I noticed the number was expiring. Then I received a new license. It was renewed! WHY? I’m not making any money, no sales to report, no tax to share. I wrote another reminder and put it in my calendar.

The first week of January, I went on line to fill out the form. I had limited success. I found the correct form. But I was unsuccessful in filling it out. Then the page closed and I couldn’t get it back. It was the weekend. I decided a phone call was in order.

Today was the day to fill out the form. I found the page to log in. My name and the password didn’t match. I wasn’t sure where the problem lay. Did I use capitals in my name? How about spaces? I requested that my user name be verified. On to the password. Still no luck. I asked for a new password. Then I found a note where I had changed my password. By this time, the computer locked me out. Too many attempts had been made.

Thankfully I had a phone number to call. The recorded announcement said my call would be answered in two minutes. Sounded good, didn’t live up to the message. But I stayed on the line. Thankfully I did. When I explained my problem to the live person on the phone, she asked if I wanted to cancel my license.
DID I? You bet. She cancelled it as of 2016. No forms to fill out this year, or next year. YEAH!

Terry helped me with my query. I had high hopes when she answered the phone. And I was RIGHT! I ALWAYS ENJOY “HELP”!

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