Naming a thought ramble is becoming harder and harder. I even contemplated numbering them starting with the new year. Then my daughter mentioned it would be harder to find once they were written and not having a title — possibly generating less interest. A gift — constructive help in making a decision. Didn’t help with the title though. Often I receive feedback or information that helps with a decision. Often it is a gift that I don’t acknowledge.
It is easy to recognize gifts that come wrapped in paper — harder to recognize gifts that arrive on the wind or unwrapped. We received an unexpected Christmas card from a friend. Seeing the card, seeing her name brought a smile to my face. Her husband passed a few years ago, they had moved out of our neighborhood and I lost track of them. I still had to write our Christmas letter. A gentle reminder that time is passing.
Often I recognize gifts that are found in the stores — I’m reminded of product I need to buy when I see it in another cart. If the item is on sale, I’m happy. I acquired an instant pot unexpectedly when I found it on sale at Aldi’s. We returned from out of town and we stopped to pick up milk, salad and bread. I noticed the item on their sales sheet. Lovely surprise.
Often I read something that is of benefit to me. Or I hear it on the radio or television. Maybe I meet someone walking down the street or in a store whom I hadn’t seen in a while. All of these are gifts. They bring a smile to my face or laughter.
Filling the car with Gas at Costco has been a challenge the past couple of weeks. The number of cars waiting overflow the lot and wind down the street. When I inquired as to the best time to fill up, I was told before 10:00 or after 6:00. They were getting three truckloads of gas a day. My husband dropped me at the store, and joined the crowd waiting to fill up. Finished shopping, I sat at a table while I waited. A young boy was enjoying his hot dog and we talked about Santa. They left and I invited an older oriental woman to join me. I must have commented on her age and learned we were the same age. I shook her hand and she replied “you look so young.” What a gift. I wasn’t feeling very young when she said that on a cold, dreary winter day. It brought a smile to my face. A gift — forgotten except I wrote myself a note.
Maybe that is the key — write down the unexpected gifts that arrive — beautiful weather or just sunshine after a dreary day, a birds song, a phone call, or meeting on the street, a sale, a compliment — the list goes on and on.
It is hard for me to put my relationship with God in words. To say that He/She has my respect and gratitude is a true statement. To say that I am ALWAYS GRATEFUL is also true. To say that I am obedient to the plans for my life is often up to debate. When I was young, I told God that I would have as many children as He/She gave us. I had three children born and a couple of miscarriages. I said that when the children were in school. That was it, I was done. And God laughed. Our youngest daughter was born.
Today is her birthday. All of our children have been a blessing. The job of our youngest was to keep me young and with her children, they are trying their hardest. I have to admit that I argue with God. I used to feel guilty but I read somewhere that God likes a bit of spunk, within reason. Well, I certainly have spunk.
My recent debate is my job of writing the blog. I have had a thought ramble publishing every week for OVER six years. The problem is that I always want it to have some influence of Spirit. The second problem is that my brain seems to be asleep or in hiding. I have suggested that I quit or at least take a break for a time. One of my suggestions was that I could reprint some of my earlier thought rambles. I’m not sure how any of my suggestions have been received. I have often mentioned that I neither see or hear “my friends in high places.” God is in the highest place!
Today is my youngest daughter’s birthday. I wasn’t in the mood to send her a sugary sweet card this year. I looked at many cards that made me laugh but she is TOO YOUNG for them. She told me I should have sent them anyway. I found a card that passed the sweet test and mailed it. This morning I sent her an instant message “Sing with me, ….” I don’t have a smart phone, just an old flip. I seldom access Facebook, looking at the thought of the day, not spending much time. This morning I followed suit. AND WAS AMAZED!
Just for me, balloons, music — “Happy Birthday with a picture of her daughter taken years ago when she had braids, eating corn on the cob.” Of course I sent it to my daughter.
The only words I had: “Thank You.”
This summer I acquired a cookbook for my slow cooker which made planning meals an adventure. We were at the camper. The big question “Would my husband not only eat it but enjoy it?” Every new recipe I tried, he invited friends to eat it with him. Thankfully, each recipe was a success.
Now we are home, in the city. Lately the temperature is COLD. It is only November but the air feels like winter. Although I still use my slow cooker, it is more tempting to use the oven. My winter recipes I have made for YEARS. At first, it was like visiting with old friends — so happy to see them again. I hate to admit that I’m bored — wondering what I should cook for supper. In my defense — I have cooked for more years than I care to count.
To the rescue — a new toy — an instant pot. I have used pressure cookers over the years — for canning and also cooking dry beans. I never gave it a prominent spot on my stove. I debated getting an instant pot for over a year. I even bought a cookbook and looked at the recipes available. I successfully left the pot in the store. Until Aldi’s featured the pot at a more affordable price. Now it is MINE! I’m still learning how to use it.
I have successfully burned myself with the steam. I thought I was being careful! Not careful enough. I wasn’t sure how to set the pot for pressure. I couldn’t reset the time. The last time I used it I was successful. I learned that you can not set the timing lower than the regulated time for that item. Needless to say, I don’t have one of the more expensive models.
Still looking for a new recipe to try, I have acquired two new cookbooks. The recipes are outside of my normal range. I would like to eat the food of the world — my husband is content with the food of the United States — not spicy. The new cookbooks contain recipes from South America, Italy, India, Korea — the world. I can reduce the sodium, I’m not sure how I can substitute ingredients by I’m willing to try.
Since I got the new pot, we haven’t been home enough to try it. I made my recipe for chili — dry kidney beans, finished in an hour. LOVELY! I recently made a macaroni, beef and cheese dish. The entire dish cooked in less than an hour. Both the “boys” liked it. I have received the go ahead to make it again. I made a note to add more seasoning to the sauce.
It is the littler things that slip through the cracks!
Sunday was the feast of Pentecost — the day the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples in the closed room and changed their lives. I find that feast significant because I realized that I am celebrating my six year anniversary of Wandering With Spirit this month. I can’t say that the blog has changed my life — but maybe it has. If I don’t write on a regular basis, if I don’t have something scheduled to publish every week, my life becomes more interesting than I want it to. More things go wrong. I’m REMINDED that I have work to do. Since I am always on the lookout for a writing idea, I might pay more attention to my life.
One of my favorite sayings is: “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him/Her your plans,” I had been at the Garden the day before. I had many steps on my pedometer. I planned to do NOTHING. The phone rang at 8:10. It was I Dot — we have a transponder that allows us to speed through the tollway gates at a decent speed, not wait in line forever. It was a present to my husband a few years ago. Now I was told it wasn’t working. We would be charged a cash car rate any time we went through. Camping season is starting. We use the tollways a lot. I learned where an office was. I learned that the battery might have run out. The number I received for our credit card didn’t match. I had no idea where the number came from. The one thing I did know — WE HAD TO GO FOR A DRIVE AND SOLVE THE PROBLEM. It was an easy solution. The battery on our transponder had run out, we just needed a new one.
On the way home, I suggested we stop at Wal-Mart so I could try on some shorts. I’ve noticed that my old ones are slipping down. It is most uncomfortable. I planned to order from a catalogue, but in order to do so, I needed to know my size. I tried on a smaller size and IT FIT. My husband suggested I buy a second swimsuit for back up. I like to exercise every weekday at the camper. If my suit is still wet, it is too cold to wear again. I saw a swimsuit that I thought might work. It has to be one piece, two pieces DON’T WORK for exercising. The hanger had my size so I tried it on. I looked at the tag on the swimsuit — it was the smaller size. HAPPY!
I picked up frozen pizzas at the store. My husband put them in the downstairs basement for me — saving my knees. I found them on Friday morning in the fridge — not the freezer. When I asked him — he said I told him to put them there???? Saturday, we went to a steakhouse to celebrate Mother’s day. He drove a different way, and said that was how he always goes. ????
One plus one didn’t add up. I was becoming concerned. On Sunday — Pentecost — I said a couple of prayers — asking God to “help” my husband. My father had Alzheimer’s disease. I REALLY DIDN’T WANT my husband to be affected. I decided that I wasn’t going to worry. Hands off — God was in charge.
Walking home from church — I noticed a shiny lilac object lying on the ground. I almost passed by. Then I backed up and took another look. It was a lilac sparkling gem in a hanging earring. It had a stopper to keep it from falling out of the ear. It reminded me that the night before, I had lost the backing on one of my crystal earrings but luckily the earring had not fallen out.
THANK YOU! Enough said.
I have to admit that I have never been to Ireland. I don’t know if the opportunity to visit will ever come. My mother’s father was from there. I have finally learned the county that he was from but since I don’t know his birthdate or any other pertinent information, and his last name was very common — I’m not trying to learn anything more. I’ve titled this thought ramble Irish Morning not because the day reminded me of Ireland but because I was having lunch with a dear friend. She is not only Irish but she came from across the water. For years she lived on my block, went to Mass with us on Sunday. But time passes and our bodies reflect the passing. She had trouble walking up and down the stairs in her house. She moved to a Catholic senior residence. Even though she is on the third floor, they have elevators.
She phoned a few days ago and invited me for lunch. Of course, I accepted immediately. Then she fell, and we postponed the date. Then the snow fell on rain drenched stairs and I didn’t like the crunch as I swept the stairs. And we postponed it again. The day finally came, cold but with sunshine — blue skies. If I gave serious thought to the meeting, I wouldn’t have arrived empty handed. Ooops!
Her residence has many opportunities for a person to stay busy. I passed a room where art work decorated the window. I recognized the name of a friend and stopped to take a photo. A woman passed by with her son and asked if that artwork was mine. I admitted that it was a friend’s, I wasn’t a resident. She had recently moved in and was having trouble adjusting. I had to share a story of my recent painting experience and a photo of the finished art work. She didn’t paint or draw. She used to sing but has lost her voice. I suggested she just sing to herself inside her head. She was on her way to therapy. I was navigating the halls, looking for the building were my friend’s apartment was.
SUCCESS! We had a pleasant visit but more snow and rain was in the forecast. I really didn’t want to get stuck out in the weather. I learned that she had had a stroke a couple of years before. Somehow I missed that information. Her son used to live on our block and shared information about his mother. He rented their house a couple of years back, and moved to an apartment. I no longer receive current news. She is doing well now — in her late 90’s. Not bothered by the aftermath of her fall.
Going back down I shared the elevator with a woman who had a lovely accent. When I asked, she admitted she was from Ireland. Walking down the hall with her, I voiced the question of a bathroom. Two gentlemen going in the opposite direction pointed to a sign on the wall. I told my companion that I’ve noticed that when I ask a question, I often get an immediate answer. I wondered if the same thing happened to her.
Leaving — I met the same woman I saw when I first arrived. She hadn’t slept well the night before and was heading to her apartment for a nap before supper. I mentioned that it must be hard, giving up her house, her car and living in a new place. There were people there from her parish but the friendship is just starting.
When I first began to write this blog, over five years ago, I didn’t expect that I would still be writing. If I had, instead of thinking of a title for each ramble, I would have numbered them. Coming up with a title each week, is often VERY HARD. This title was given to me on Sunday when a break in the clouds allowed me to take Robin for a walk without either one of us getting wet. I have noticed that often when I need to be out and about, the rain stops for a little while. I’m reminded of the time when I was writing To Pap, With Love. Every time I printed chapter 4, the story of our granddaughter’s first communion, the printer STOPPED. Many rewrites later, I discovered the reason for the problems with the printing. It wasn’t in what I had written or failed to write, I didn’t realize that the rain had stopped and we had been given a beautiful day. Once I understood the change in weather, the problems with printing chapter four stopped.
This weekend, my husband and I attended a play. The forecast was for rain, sleet and snow. Just what I wanted to hear. I thought we should leave early, give us time for delays and if we were early, we could do some holiday shopping. Traffic although not clear, continued to move at a safe speed. We had over an hour to shop. We found the presents we wanted for our grandson. I had HELP from my “friends”. I wandered down a clearance aisle and found two presents for my granddaughter that I thought she would enjoy. I didn’t know it was a clearance aisle. Checking the price on a scanner I was happy!
Earlier that week, I remembered the ginger cookies and mulled fruit drink that I purchased from Ikea. A phone call confirmed that the product was in the store. That day my husband and I drove out to the store. The weather was sunny, not warm but not freezing. The traffic moved. We purchased our supplies, enjoyed a cup of coffee and drove home with clear roads. The next day we had rain and snow and many accidents on the highway.
I often hear things in passing that is a benefit to me. Something that is on sale in the store, a program on television that I would want to watch, a reminder of things that I need to do. These tidbits do not only benefit me, but they benefit my family too. I stopped in the pet food store to tell a story to the clerk I know. While there, I asked about a knee cap bone that had been discontinued. Another clerk heard my query, and brought the last new knee cap bone in stock. Yesterday I was working on the clutter. I found blank note cards that are very appropriate for a letter my husband needs to send to our grandson’s school. I LOVE the “help” that I often receive!
We have camped at the same place for over 40 years. During that time many people have passed through our lives. As I wandered on my scooter for the last ride of the season, I visited many of the campsites where the people I have known have either gone on to the other side or have sold out to visit other venues. Sadly each year the list grows, but I have enjoyed the time spent with them. I know people who have sold because their friends are no longer there. Thankfully we are not dependant on others to remain camping.
Back in the city on a lovely Fall day, I wandered to the Garden. Once again I was lost in time. Remembering all the places I have visited — some with my daughters. I thought of one of my aunt’s that had passed over and regretted that we had never wandered the Gardens together. Was I a member of the Garden then?
Still in the city, on another lovely Fall day we wandered to Lincoln Park zoo. We didn’t know that the weekend was Fall festival. They had many rides for the children. I was sorry that we didn’t have any of our grandchildren with us. At the same time, I was glad — we wouldn’t have had the money for all of their rides. Watching the polar bear play in the water I remembered when my grandson at the tender age of 2, was delighted when the polar bear at the time came up to window to visit with him. Lincoln Park is a small zoo, I visited there as a child and enjoy it, possibly even more, as an adult.
It is hard catching up when we close the trailer for the season. I have to find homes for all the food and stuff we brought home with us. The mail goes on forever. In fact — I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of the pile. The pile might be for higher than from our most recent trip. It might have stuff accumulated from all summer.
Then there is the food supply. Stuff that I thought was on hand is gone! I looked all over the freezer for catfish fillets that I knew we had. I found two pieces. Not enough for the three of us. Recently I was remembering some of the unusual stuff that has occurred in my life. And remembering that my life has quieted down. OR HAS IT? This morning I received a message from my husband’s sister. Her husband passed a few weeks ago. When I went to look for the message — it wasn’t there. Instead I saw her beautiful picture on the center of the page. I wrote a note back that the message was undelivered. The top of the page said “secret.” I noticed that the first letter of every word in the sentence was capitalized. I was confused. Was I receiving “Help?” Who? Was someone teaching her husband tricks?
Since I didn’t know if the “secret” message reached her, I wrote another message explaining that I was confused. Later that day, I had an avalanche in my freezer. As I put back all the fallen food — I saw an unopened package of catfish fillets. Last night, I used up the bottle of sesame oil when I was cooking. I put the item on my shopping list. Before going to the store, I went to retrieve an item from the shelves in the basement and found TWO unopened bottles of sesame oil. Did I think my life has quieted down? Nope! It just goes in different directions.