Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Slice of Life: Three Things Tuesday

1. Quite a few years ago, I told my BFF that I wanted to make it to 80 years old. (Since my parents died at 68 and 69, that seemed like an achievable goal.) She replied, "Yes, and I'll bring my 40 year old son along to sing Happy Birthday." She also said something about us being in the nursing home, but I prefer to forget that bit. 

2. After I moved to North Carolina last year, I started using a tin for chocolate chips that commemorated the 75th anniversary of the chocolate chip cookie. It turns out they were first created in the late 1930's by Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House restaurant in Wakefield, MA. The recipe first appeared in her cookbook, Tried and True, in 1938. Wakefield sold the rights to use her recipe and the Toll House name to Nestle in 1939. My tin dates the 75th anniversary of the chocolate chip cookie to 2014 (probably because it was made by Nestle). I've recently revised "I want to live until I'm 80," to "I want to see the 100th anniversary of the chocolate chip cookie in 2039!"

3. And just yesterday, I revised that date once again! My husband was in Oregon for the 2017 total eclipse of the sun. At the time, I planned to experience the 2024 eclipse somewhere in the path of totality, but life got busy and I moved to North Carolina and forgot to plan a trip so I could experience the totality of a solar eclipse. So now I want to live until 2045, the next time a solar eclipse will travel across significant portions of the continental United States.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Everyday Miracles

Sorry for my late arrival to SJT on Saturday afternoon. When Bob offered us the topic of miracles for our April reflection, I admit to feeling challenged. I didn't think I had any personal miracles to share and struggled to find a way into this month's topic. 

I planned to write this post yesterday, but I was involved in an accident while taking my grandson to pre-K (He's no longer in preschool, according to him.). Someone was waiting at a stop sign to make a left turn onto a busy street. Suddenly a large SUV was coming at me. I was in the second lane. I swerved and he hit the back panels of my car, just past my grandson's car seat. Praise God, everyone was okay. The driver said the other lane had stopped and motioned for him to go on. (The insurance claims person said this happens all the time.) I'm grateful for the turn lane in the center of the busy street so that I was able to swerve and resist a full-side impact. Some may say I was lucky, but I'm grateful for the impulse I had to swerve and credit it to a prompting I received from the Spirit.

And then this morning, I remembered an experience I had as a teenager with my father. He was adding a spacious family room onto our home. This had been a dream of his for many years. On this unforgettable day, the pre-assembled rafters had finally arrived. My dad should probably have waited for another adult to help him with this project. But ever the eager beaver, he figured out a way for me to push the rafter from the new room to him on the roof of house. The way was via a nail in the rafter. I had a plank of wood and would raise the triangular shaped rafter to him via the nail. And wouldn't you know? The plank slipped and the rafter came barreling down. I ducked my head. When I saw the whack in the siding, I knew I had angels watching over me that day. If I had it to do over again, I would have lain flat on the flooring as the rafter swung down toward me. But I never got the chance to do it again. My mom insisted that my dad recruit a man to help him with the remaining rafters. 

I like this explanation of miracles that I found in a March 2019 article, "Finding Miracles in Everyday Life," in The New Era, our church's youth magazine: 

 "According to the Bible Dictionary, miracles are “manifestations of divine or spiritual power.” With that definition, let’s open our eyes to the many miracles that surround us—miracles that we might not even recognize.

We definitely see God’s hand in the lives of His people through the miracles in the scriptures. But we can also see His spiritual power when we receive an answer to a prayer, strengthen our testimonies, or have a change of heart.

Still, there are other miracles that we tend to forget: The sun rises and sets each day; small seeds grow into mighty trees; the many components of our body work together, enabling us to breathe, run, dream, and eat. Inspired advances in medicine and technology are happening every day, and we can now communicate with almost anyone anywhere. God’s power can be seen in every detail of our lives."

We have three grandsons who joined our family through the miracle of IVF. We are grateful for each of them every day. I was part of the army of believers who fasted and prayed for our scientific community as they worked to create the COVID-19 vaccine. How remarkable that it was produced and ready to be administered in such a short time. A modern-day miracle!  

I Face Timed with my son last night. He and his wife are visiting London. I get daily updates and pictures of their adventure. I don't understand how the technology works, but I'm thrilled to live during a time when inventions allow us to connect instantaneously, even when separated by the Atlantic Ocean. 

I returned from my Seattle trip to beautiful blossoms and the unfurling of green leaves everywhere, my first spring in North Carolina. I'm glad for the rebirth of nature each spring, another miracle and manifestation of God's love. Here are a few pics I snapped on a return drive from my daughter's home this morning. I revel in the colors of spring: beautiful light green leaves,  pink blossoms, and the blue skies.

From the article I cited earlier: "The Lord performs both seemingly ordinary and extraordinary miracles in our day. . . However, we should not overlook the everyday events that act as reminders of God’s hand in our lives. Sometimes we just have to recognize them!"  Thanks, Bob, for this April invitation to look for the miracles in our lives.

It's Spiritual Journey Thursday, an open gathering for bloggers 
who write monthly about our spiritual journeys.  
asked us to consider this question: 
What are the everyday miracles in your life?
Click on Bob's name to read responses from other SJT friends.

Sunday, March 31, 2024

SOL 31/31: Celebrating with a tricube and an acrostic!

Slicer friends,
gather round.
Story threads
connect us,
bring comfort.
day of March,

Rules for a tricube:

  • Each line contains three syllables.
  • Each stanza contains three lines.
  • Each poem contains three stanzas.
And from my archives,
an Easter acrostic 
written for NPM and SJT
in  2017.
Everlasting joy
As we praise the God who
So loved the world 
That He sent His son.
Every soul has cause to 
Rejoice!  He is risen!

-Ramona Behnke

I like noticing where my poetic impulses come from.  You'll recognize some of the words come from John 3:16 and the song "For God So Loved the World."  "He Sent His Son" is a song in our children's songbook that I love.  "Rejoice, The Lord is King" and "He Is Risen" are two favorite hymns, made even more meaningful during this Easter season.   I look forward to the glorious Easter promise of the empty tomb which assures us of the gift of the  resurrection to all, "Because He did, so can we." For those of you who are celebrating this holiday, Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 30, 2024

SOL 30/31: Rounding Up Four Weeks of Slicing

I frequently do an analysis of the topics and types of writing I've done on the last day of March. This year I'll do it a day early since tomorrow will be an Easter slice. I arrived at a significant milestone this year. I missed not one, but two days of slicing! 

I had decided that I wouldn't participate this year since I was doing a lot of traveling in March. But I made the mistake of reading a few slices two days in and decided that I needed to participate. So I jumped in on March 3rd and have now completed 28 days of writing. 

The lesson I'm taking away this year is to never let perfect be the enemy of the good. A missed day does not mean you failed at slicing. It means you missed a day and picking up again is progress in the right direction.

Here's a breakdown of topics for my 2024 slices for March:

Travel slices - 9

Friend slices -7

Books/book club slices -6

Poem slices - 5

Grandchildren slices - 4

Borrowed ideas from other slicers - 4  (Top 3 Lists, Tricube, Double Etheree, Leigh Anne's Word Buffet))

Slices about slicing - 4 

Nature slices - 3

Technical challenge slices - 2

The total does not equal 28 slices because some slices filled more than one of the above topics/categories. I have one slice that received no comments (March 16), probably because it was around the time my commenting problems began and it wasn't rescued from spam until the following day. If you have slices that received no comments, let me know. I would be happy to stop by.

This is my thirteenth year to participate in the March Slice of Life. Thank you Two Writing Teachers for creating this challenge and providing the space and support for us year after year. And thanks to this magnificent community for sharing stories with me and encouraging my writing life.

Friday, March 29, 2024

SOL 29/31: Top Three Lists

With only three days left to slice, it seems the perfect time to share a post of Top Three Lists. I've enjoyed these lists as a way to become better acquainted with fellow slicers and make connections. I've shared thirteen in honor my thirteenth year of slicing.

Ways to Spend a Rainy Day - Read, Nap, Watch a movie

Places  - Libraries, Bookstores, Museums

Collections - Mugs, Quotes, Heart-themed Christmas Ornaments

Middle Grade Books - The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z, Three Times Lucky, Gossamer

British Crime Series - Vera, Shetland, C.B.Strike

Flowers - Daffodils, Roses, Peonies

Cookies - Double Chocolate, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Molasses Crinkles

Masterpiece Theater Series - Call the Midwives, All Creatures Great and Small, Unforgotten

Authors I Want to Hear - Ralph Fletcher, Jason Reynolds, Sharon Draper

Poets I Enjoy - Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Ted Kooser

Influential Educational Books - Lasting Impressions (Shelly Harwayne), Read Write Teach (Linda Rief), When Kids Can't Read (Kylene Beers)

Presenters - Naomi Shihab Nye, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, Janet Wong (Can you tell that I love poets?)

Novels-in-Verse - Brown Girl Dreaming, Home of the Brave, Out of the Dust

This is my thirteenth year to participate in the March Slice of Life. Thank you Two Writing Teachers for creating this challenge and providing the space and support for us year after year. And thanks to this magnificent community for sharing stories with me and encouraging my writing life.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

SOL 28/31: I Miss Having a Firm Deadline!

As a retired educator, I miss the firm deadlines I used to have for pounding out my slice. One time that I enjoyed was writing in the morning before leaving for school. I sometimes found that finishing my slice made for a later arrival at school with less time to prep for the day. 

I wrote with my students during our Slice of Life writing time in class. I wrote in my notebook and then just had to retype it onto Blogspot (often with a few revisions) after school and hit post before heading home.

On particularly busy days, I would find myself at 8;30 pm (11:30 pm East Coast time), frantically racing the clock to finish a post in time. While it gave me a sudden surge of adrenaline, I was also filled with fear that I might not make the deadline. 

Fast forward a few years to  my early retirement: My absolute favorite time to comment and write is when I find myself wide awake in the middle of the night. That works well when I don't have early morning commitments and can sleep in. But more often than not, I do have something scheduled early in the day. And I try to be finished with my slice before evening rolls around. 

For a few days, I managed to write at night for the next day. Perfect way to avoid the stress of "What will I write thinking?" lodging in the back of my mind all day. 

This morniny I went to the library and then over to my daughter's home to read with the boys and play until their lunchtime. Since arriving home two hours ago, I've whiled away the time making a quick lunch, listening to the news, commenting, and trying to write a slice. 

I think Parkinson's Law is definitely at work here. This article from Work Life defines the term for us: "Parkinson’s Law is the old adage that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion. The term was first coined by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in a humorous essay he wrote for “The Economist” in 1955." Read his original article here. I find it amusing that this term was coined the year I was born.

Just a few minutes ago, I looked at the clock and decided I would definitely finish this post by 2:30. That deadline is almost here. I posted this at 2:28 and just finished revisions at 2:36. And so, I rest my case. I am a writer who needs a firm deadline.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

SOL 27/31:How to Spend a Gray, Mizzly Day

 Wake up earlier than usual to pick up before the housekeepers come at 8 am.

Arrive at daughter's house to stay with two grand boys while eldest grand boy goes to the doctor.

Look over tax forms before husband submits them.

Begin planning page for possible trips.

Receive text that another person can't make it to book chat today. The remaining three of us decide on rescheduling rather than heading out on this gray, mizzly day.

Join husband for a run to WalMart which is surprisingly uncrowded. (Who actually runs errands on a gray, mizzly day?)

Find a can of pumpkin in the pantry for daughter who is baking pumpkin chocolate chip muffins and has no pumpkin in her pantry.

Ask husband to run it over to daughter's house.

Call a friend who is not available, but will call back later.

Text another friend.

Think about where the green cutting mat might be that daughter wants to borrow so she can begin Ollie's quilt. 

Phone daughter. We ponder the mystery of our missing, green cutting mats. I fear that mine was lost in the move to Kirkland along with my laminated posters and the How to Eat a Watermelon poem that a parent illustrated and laminated for my classroom more than fifteen years ago.

Bake oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from dough balls in the freezer. 

Eat warm cookies with a cold glass of milk.

Sashay my way through several blog posts. For some reason, some of my comments are still disappearing even when I use WordPress reader. :(

Speak sternly to self. No more dilly dallying.

Write today's post so I can reward myself with the best activity for a a gray, mizzly day:

Stretch out in recliner with cozy blanket and read!

This is my thirteenth year to participate in the March Slice of Life. Thank you Two Writing Teachers for creating this challenge and providing the space and support for us year after year. And thanks to this magnificent community for sharing stories with me and encouraging my writing life.