Moving on Up…Yet Memories Abound

Dear Reader:

Yesterday reality hit hard….Luke and Chelsey are moving. Not far, mind you, maybe five minutes away…but we all know that there is a big difference in seeing your neighbor every day and/or visiting with them occasionally. Luke says he will always be at my beck and call-literally a phone call or text away… especially when the recessed lights go out in my happy room and he has to bring a stepladder to replace them. 🙂

Chelsey will keep checking on “Little Big Red” too since it appears to be undergoing a depression in the form of some kind of insect attack…Chelsey is coming back over to check on our plant…she loves the big red geranium since she was the one who cloned it successfully. Right now we have some medicine on it…hoping it will help get rid of the parasites.

Luke and Chelsey physically moved out a few weeks ago….leaving their furniture at the house while it was being shown and sleeping on air mattresses. So unselfishly I am extremely happy for them that they got to sleep in their own bed last night.

They are closing on their Rainbow Road home this Thursday so it was time to remove everything with the contract sealed and the paperwork in. I took lunch over for them while they worked. I know intellectually that they will be in and out like they have been the past few weeks…in fact  they have still been bringing amazing suppers…but emotionally the house seems so empty without them.

I knew we needed to add a little humor to the situation…near the end of the long tiring afternoon…re-enforcements showed up to move the last of the heavy stuff. When I saw this card…I knew it was meant for them…to put a smile on their tired faces.

A retired school teacher, don’t know her, is moving in and I am sure we will be good neighbors …it is just hard to let go of a special relationship, the one that Vickie and I had with “the kids” as we called them affectionately. They kept us young!

Yesterday I got a catalog from Leaning Tree showing the wide diversity of cards they have. I do believe they have some of the funniest ones I have ever seen…so I went through picking out some I wanted to order. To finish today…let me share a couple of smiles with you through these sample cards.

This one brought back memories of me with my foot stuck up the air (last fall) and my heating pad on in “Old Faithful” my recliner…actually it was and continues to be… a pretty hot date! 🙂

 

 

This one just made me laugh out loud…so typical and so funny!

 

 

 

 

I think this card should be the poster card for this special benchmark year of the Ya’s!

It says: Your special bedtime birthday story:

“A long long long time ago but not too very far away…you were born…and now you’re old…The End.”

 

So until tomorrow…“You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.”
Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

I fell in love with this sympathy card….it says it all.

Happy Birthday to my Berkeley friend and social studies co-hort for years! Carol Poole! We always did fun birthday lessons showing how on the day we were born….other lucky people were able to share it with us…like a Franklin or a Jefferson or a Helen Keller…everyone born makes history in their own way!

Mandy and John had a back-to school gathering for the children before the reality of another school year hits this week! In spite of the crazy weather…the kids played dress-up, danced, and even managed to get in a swim when the sun tried to get out in Mt. P later in the afternoon…all in all a very successful send-off for the kids!

Some random snapshots….

On the way home a little after seven and the half-rainy, half-cloudy, peeks of sun day….the most beautiful display of God’s handiwork emerged below as I crossed the Don Holt bridge and slowed down for a large tractor truck taking up two lanes to get settled in his lane….a God Wink Show!

 

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When the First and the Last Stories Come Full Circle

Dear Reader:

Isn’t this a wondrous idea? Jo sent me a copy of it (title sketch) which I was finally able to open on my Messenger. (it is acting up.)

I began thinking that as many stories as I told in class…I usually started the class with them but not so much ended it the same way. Now as I contemplate upon this…I should have ended the classes (especially on Fridays) with a “cliff-hanger” about an historical person, place, or thing we were studying at the time and then have the students bring in their own imaginative ending to the story on Monday.

*Once a teacher always a teacher…the ideas just keep coming.

As far as memory retention goes…we always remember the beginning of anything…lesson, story, movie… the best…it is most easily recalled, followed by the ending…the part we least retain is in the middle.

For a teacher this was and is not good news….especially after one summer when  many teachers  took brain study classes on student retention…realizing by the end of the course that the crux of our lessons for each class were found in the middle between the introduction and conclusion. The part least retained or remembered.

So how to get around this? Break the lesson up into small palpable bites with several beginnings and endings throughout the lesson.

For small children…the idea of early primary grades having their teacher save the last half hour of the school day for a story is phenomenally important in  small children’s retention. The last story....don’t we all remember begging our parents to read us a last bedtime story before we fell asleep. It was our favorite ritual of the day.

It was and continues to be the perfect way to end any day of the week….so don’t you think it is the best way to end a child’s school day too?  A class full of excited children anticipating the last half hour of school with relish and happiness! Returning home with their heads full of imagination and dreams?

For me…storytelling was the catalyst that broke up the retention problems in social studies… it could bring boring random historical facts into colorful energized personal stories from the past…people who lived in that period of history re-telling it through first-hand accounts.

With the Lion King returning this summer to popular crowds…the movie theme throughout is still about the circle of life…and that relies (most importantly) on the circle of stories we hear and re-tell…from the beginning of our existence to the last story we tell or hear at the end.

One of the funniest stories to come out of Ireland, much to many a tour guide’s delight in the re-telling (guaranteed to elicit spontaneous laughter, chuckles and tickle bones) originates from an old castle atop the Cliffs of Moher.

*(I asked Anne if she remembered seeing the castle, actually the tower is all that is left, O’Brien’s Tower, and she said we were so caught up in the cut-outs of Eva Cate and Rutledge “bungee jumping” from the cliffs we missed the castle …or tower.)

So here goes…

Conor, a tour guide, told the group a funny story about the guy who built the original castle. His name was Cornelius O’Brien and apparently he had an eye for the ladies, despite being married.

 

The story went that he built this fabulous new castle and took a young lady, not his wife, out there to show off his latest building. Word got back to his wife that he was misbehaving despite her warnings after the last time, so she took her soldiers and followed “poor” old Cornelius out to the castle on top of the cliff. 

She found him in a compromising position and took her revenge as she promised she would. Her soldiers did her bidding and threw him into the crashing surf below…and the castle forever more was known as ‘the last erection of Cornelius O’Brien’! 🙂 🙂 🙂

*(My favorite home-spun author, Miss Effie, would have ended a story like this with “Whoo Whee!!!” (And start fanning while grinning!)

So until tomorrow….I hope everyone has a fun, relaxing weekend…with lots of laughter and chuckles…personal anecdotes are always a favorite.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Yesterday marked an ending for Jakie….his last day at his pre-school at the Citadel Square in downtown Charleston. Mandy said he seemed a little confused why his teachers were so emotional…the church session voted to close the day care at this church sadly.

This school year Jakie will be with Eva Cate at James Edwards elementary school in the four-year-old CD program…he just misses the cut off age for the kindergarten school year. We are happy about that….another year to grow and develop.

Grandmother of the Year, in my book, Lori, took the girls for a back-to school outing….to go eat at Vickerys...a favorite spot on the water.

 

 

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Hanging by a Thread

( Painting/PX by Artist Errol Jameson)

Dear Reader:

A few days ago I read one of the articles from Awakin Weekly..titled “Grateful for Nothing.” (Now that is a phrase catcher that will draw one to the explanation behind it.)

I usually compose an excerpt from one of these articles that touch me…but this particular message just hit a home run for me…the entire message. See if you feel the same way…I loved it.

“If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance your life is relatively safe — so safe that safety isn’t on your mind. So when nothing happens, you don’t feel particularly grateful. You expect to be safe, just as you expect the light to go on when you hit the switch on the wall. But when you expect to die or you expect your home to be destroyed, “nothing happened” is a miracle.

That’s our challenge: to allow our hearts and minds to be touched by gratitude without the presence of a hurricane. To appreciate life and the grace by which we wake up each day and go to sleep in safety. To recognize that our personal safety is a gift and something we have little control over. We may survive a hurricane and have a heart attack the next day.

*Our lives are all hanging by a thread. It makes us nervous to think about it, so we try not to. But that thread has held us up since we were born. And once in a while it’s good to notice it so we can be thankful for it.

“Nothing happened” isn’t particularly exciting. It’s not as entertaining as a good movie. It’s not intellectually challenging, nor is it adorable like a baby kitten.  But when you expect the worst and nothing happens, it’s worthy of celebration.

A celebration of the fact that despite all of our problems and aches and pains and financial challenges and relationship conflicts we’re alive and we’re breathing and at the moment, we’re safe.

So take a moment and sit back. And breathe in “nothing happened.” And breathe out a breath of thanks. Gratitude for just being able to breathe. Now that’s really something!”

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A wonderful surprise awaited me as I read some of the responses to this article by familiar names I see weekly …BUT this time there was another responder by the name of Ambika... I am thinking she must be “our” beloved Ambika for whom we pray daily (for her and her family and all the people of India stricken by this terrible drought.) Ambika’s response to this article was:

Every morning before i open my eyes to the day, i consecrate the day to my highest self. The rest of the day flows…..every moment with my master’s name on my lips. When my eyes close for the day i just say” Thank you Sai for this beautiful day”. A lot of stuff happens during the day. The good, the bad and the ugly. Each moment with HIS name on my lips.
After reading the article i get it that my days have been in gratitude. Reading this article…assimilating the truth and being able to respond… is this not a miracle ? This is a wake up realization.

So until tomorrow…Let me breathe in and out the miracle of life by the simple procedure of breathing…beautiful, life fulfilling breathing!I am alive!!!

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Another gorgeous evening last night and now recognition of the gift of safety in Boo’s Blessing…her beloved home!

 

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“I Will Be Your Friend”

Dear Reader:

Some of you might have caught this story on the CBS Evening News earlier this week but I just discovered it on my Kindness website. Sometimes I wish that one child could be assigned to each elected representative to keep their hearts in tact, along with their moral compass, once they take office. Our children appear to be much better at seeing right from wrong than too many adults these days and Blake is definitely a better problems solver at his young age.

Blake’s school in Georgia said the students could wear any t-shirt for their first day back at school with happy pictures or words that set a positive tone for the year…sports pictures were fine too. When his mother asked Blake what he would like on his bright orange t-shirt (favorite color) he told her to put “I Will Be Your Friend.

When his mother inquired more about his selection (he loves sports and she figured he would pick one for the front of the shirt)  he confessed to her that he had been bullied the year before when he started school and he wanted the new students to know that he would be their friend if they needed one…like he had needed a friend after his bullying episode.

His mother was so touched she put the incident on her work Facebook page (seamstress) and the response was overwhelming…everyone wanted a “I will be your friend t-shirt”….even schools began calling in  t-shirt orders for all their students for the first day of school.

“I have to brag on my son. I told him that as a back to school gift, I will make him any shirt he would like. It could have anything- a basketball theme, football, etc. which are all his favorites. He thought a while and said, “Will you please make me a shirt that says ‘I will be your friend” for all the kids who need a friend to know that I am here for them?” Never underestimate your kid’s heart for others! I love my sweet Blake!” #stopbullying

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Yesterday the two copies of a children’s book I ordered for each of my grandchildren’s households arrived. With the start of school right around the corner…I wanted all my “babies” to be aware and accepting of different children they will meet in school.

Emmy Award-winning ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis is helping families teach their children about diversity with a new children’s book

Like many people today author, wife, mother, Linsey Davis is disturbed by a growing wave of intolerance of others (as seen and heard on the daily news) who are different from the mainstream….whether by race, color, culture. She, like so many of us, firmly believes that it is important for children to learn early that different is not only okay…but diversity makes us stronger… combining all our strengths and different perceptions together to become a more united country with one shared vision of hope and acceptance.

I loved the little book, with all its rhyming jingles, and fun pictures showing children from  all backgrounds learning to play and respect each other.

I especially loved this picture (below) on a personal note. *Inside the front book cover, I wrote a little comment that my mother, their great-grandmother, Me-Mommy, only had one hand. But she raised three children by herself, while cooking, working, keeping house, and making sure her children were educated. She could do more with one hand that myself with two…even three if I had an extra one too. 🙂

Look carefully at the little girl doing a cartwheel…is there something different about her?

After looking at all kinds of diversity we find in our schools…different interests… athletic abilities, academic abilities, social abilities…besides physical or mental abilities and/or challenges… the book ends with the one thing we all share…no matter what.

                       ONE BIG HEART!

*Beverly had a good conclusion to “The best things in life are… a sound sleep.” A lot of us can agree to that ending…

So until tomorrow…

“Tomorrow is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Have a wonderful school year everyone!

*Just heard back from Ann Graves, our bell ringer who recently finished her chemo for breast cancer and then had surgery to remove any other stray cancer cells in the shrunken tumor….like Sis Kinney the report came back that the margins still weren’t completely clear and the surgeon will need to go back in and widen the margins to remove any other cancer….Ann said he had a great game plan and she feels confident  in his plan…just ready to get this second surgery over. Please keep Ann in your prayers for a complete recovery.

*At first I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears…we have had lots of thunder and lightning this summer but, more times than not, the rain has pulled a disappearing act…Yesterday afternoon, however, the thunder and lightning returned with the third missing party of the trio….rain! And Rain did its best to try to make up for all its previous “no shows.”

A great summer rain…:)

After the rain stopped shortly before sunset…the most beautiful light in the skies appeared and the smell of freshness consumed every fiber of my being… in cool 73 degree temperatures. Pinch me! I must be dreaming!

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The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things

Dear Reader:

Mollie sent us a “sneak peek” photo yesterday (from Sarah) of what is to come! It made my heart swell with pride and love. So happy to see Eloise smiling…she had a tough start but it appears Sarah, the magician, managed to win her over too! (‘Course Boo had a tough start herself! 🙂

While reading a novel yesterday…the phrase “The best things in life aren’t things” stuck in my mind and I found myself adding it to my quotes notebook that I always place beside me when I read. How true that statement is! *Just looking at my grandchildren’s picture reaffirms it.

I started thinking how easy it is to fill in the second part of that quote…depending on the day and feelings of the individual. We have all heard ‘take-off” phrases like “The best things in life are free” or “The best things in life are worth waiting for” or “The best things in life are simple but not easy.”

On any given day any of us can fill in the end of the quote with a desirable word or phrase we want at that moment. Try it and you will see what I mean.

“The best things in life are…touch.”

“The best things in life are…children’s laughter.”

“The best things in life are…a balanced check-book.”

“The best things in life are…friendships.”

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You see how I could go on and on, as well as you. Speaking of…I would love for you to share your own personal, at the moment, completion ideas of this popular phrase….it can be serious, funny, satiric….anything that pops up in your mind.

For example…yesterday I would have answered this quotation ending with …”The best things in life are…dark.” (I realize this wasn’t exactly the word you were probably expecting…but it was one I really needed yesterday.)

As ludicrous as it sounds…I simply could not face another hot, sunny day with no chance of rain for my wilting garden (in spite of my struggle to sweat to death while watering it) …I just couldn’t!

*I think I was having some kind of pre-ancestor cave man/woman syndrome. It was like when the climate outside gets too much…we just want to crawl back in our dark caves and hibernate. 🙂

For the first time in I don’t know when…the foremost thing I didn’t do was open the shutters and let the day in. I woke up with a slight headache and was just plain tired and not ready to get up. I just wanted to stay in a dark room and ignore the day outside. I craved coolness and darkness…no more 95 degree days with high humidity and the apparent or “feels like” temperatures in the 100’s…again! It is like we are stuck in a  “Groundhog Day” effect using heat instead of cold but still stuck.

Sometime during the day…another thought hit me…and I had to start laughing. “Oh no!” I thought to myself…I am turning into one of those creepy old people who lives in dark places that scare children away. (I remember disliking visiting elderly people as a child at Christmas with mother and cookie tins from the church…because the houses smelled musty and were always dark and spooky.)

I didn’t scare a child away yesterday…but sweet Gin-g came to visit…and I am sure she thought I must be really sick…I told her “No…I just decided to have a dark day” and I know she thought…”Am I in the right house?” Of course once I explained my day off from sunshine…she burst out laughing and said she enjoyed the cool darkness…she was sick of the weather too.

Today is supposed to be another replica of yesterday. But there is supposedly  a little hope that things might actually “cool” down towards the end of the week….”cool” , of course, being a relative term! As far as rain goes…we will just have to see if the invisible bubble over Summerville moves somewhere else and opens up the skies for us.

But hey, miracles still happen….Boo survives a stomach attack, Eloise starts smiling, all the photos get taken in time (before the sun sets) for the family album…so the weather will improve, at some point we will get rain again…along with blessings from heaven. Life is good.

So until tomorrow….Today the shutters will re-open, the sun will come in, and laughter and happiness will prevail.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

 

 

Walgreens did a great job making a collage of the family’s young astronauts to remember the 50th anniversary of the first moon walk

 

 

I feel like I have surely built up shoulder and upper arm muscles toting gallon cartons of water to the areas not reached by the hose…but these flowers are surviving because of it…maybe the next time you see me I will be on the National Female Body-Building Contest!

My lantana has played ‘peek or boo’ all summer….they bloom for about two weeks beautifully…then wilt and fade away…about three weeks later they are back out blooming beautifully and so on and so on and so on….maybe they can only take so much heat and sunshine in today’s new climate too! 🙂

My frustration with a seemingly endless hot beaming sun doesn’t transfer over to the moon, however….it was gorgeous last night peeking at it through the branches of an oak tree…and then turning around to the welcoming  lights on my porch. Home sweet home!

 

 

 

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A Different Gathering…One Involving Chances and Luck

Dear Reader:

Last evening was a “biggie” …my family is doing something for me and my upcoming  “benchmark birthday” that I have wanted for a long long time. It is one of those gifts that will keep on giving forever…and always bring a smile to my face.

However, this gift was not an easy one to pull off…it meant everyone had to show up at the same time at a certain place on a certain day (or in our case evening.) No one could get sick at the last moment or have car problems or simply forget… or run into any other unexpected, last-minute life obstacle.

… Our chances of pulling this “gift” off last evening were up there with the famous quote from  Johnny Depp (Captain Jack Sparrow) in Pirates of the Caribbean (when everyone thought he was dead but he showed up again)…He described the strange phenomenon as  “Highly improbable but not impossible.” 

 

Barring any unforeseen incidents we were having a family picture taken by Sarah, Mollie’s talented friend, who is an amazing photographer. She needed to be…with five small children and four dogs…along with the adults. The picture was slated to be taken at 7:30 last evening, perfect light time as the sun began its slow descent above the Pitt Street Bridge Park.

I must confess the timing had made me slightly nervous…we didn’t have much time to play around before it got dark …hoping nothing would happen.

*10:00 p.m. Important Update..Upon reflection (I am now back home) the timing should have made me nervous because I was the culprit who almost blew the photo session! I rode over to the Pitt Street Bridge park with John, Mandy, Eva Cate and Jakie. We were the first ones there…nice and early.

While we were waiting on the others…John took some snapshots of the children and me….this picture of me smiling with Eva Cate and Jake was the last smile for awhile.

I have not had one stomach issue since my chemo medication was lowered last Monday….over a week ago…but Murphy’s Law hit…there was no public restroom at the park but thank goodness Tommy and Kaitlyn drove up at that time…I jumped in Tommy’s car because they live the closest.

Made it…the night was saved…but we were running close to the sinking sun…still we got the pictures taken.  Am so excited about the revealing of the upcoming professional photos….Sarah is amazing…calm, cool, and efficient!

So until tomorrow…Thank you family from the bottom of my heart for the extra effort it took everyone to make this birthday wish come true. I will never forget it. Love you all so much! And a special thank you Sarah for your professionalism and calm demeanor.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Love this photo John took while waiting on my return…God was definitely there last night to make sure everything everybody sacrificed to get this family photo session done for me paid off!

 

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As We Grow Older…the Importance of “Framily”

Dear Reader:

Yesterday was Youth Sunday…for many of our church’s graduating seniors it was their last Sunday at home before leaving for college or job opportunities or military service. When I first walked in…we were given a name on a cut piece of white fabric and then asked to write our name on another. The youth had also cut out and made cardboard hearts for every congregational member attending.

 

The name on my strip was EMMA….and along with the strip of material was a heart. At a certain point in the service my “neighbors” (sitting on the same pew as myself) all joined our strips together tying them tightly. A youth member then came and started tying everyone’s strips of names to a hanging symbol of framily.

 

FRAMILY – A member of your circle who is more than a friend but not a blood relative. Combining the words friend and family. Someone very significant in your life not in your family. Joined by hearts and souls, not necessarily bloodlines.

The youth were using this word to signify their peer relationships ( after years of being together in youth groups at Dorchester Presbyterian Church, attending Montreat Presbyterian summer camps and special retreats together in the North Carolina mountains) that they had grown so close they all felt like “framily.” Framily was also expressed by the loving and supporting relationship between the church youth and the congregation.

I like this word- “framily”-it made me realize that the older I get the more I understand just how lucky we are  indeed by the end of it… if we have friends as close as our own families AND if we have become close friends with our own family members. If so, then we have acquired both hearts and souls of loved ones in our lifetime.

When I looked up and recognized my youth member’s name, Emma, as she read the Confession of Sin during the service I knew I had gotten her name on my strip of cloth. The confession she read just seemed to fit where I am at the moment…so during a break in the service…I went over, told her I had gotten her name, and gave her the heart. I also asked if I could get a copy of the Confession of Sin she read.

Immediately after the service she came over and transferred it to my IPhone…we talked and she is seriously considering teaching…it made me very happy and with a hug I told her so.

So until tomorrow…I felt this confession about summed it up for me….”Remove any shortcomings so we may shine among those we meet.” At this stage in life that is what I seek more than anything. Let me get out of God’s way…and let Him use me as a vessel for His purposes.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

Luke and Chelsey brought me another delicious meal Saturday evening… homemade cooked amazing barbecue sandwich and homemade baked beans. Luke helped tie the long-stemmed sunflowers up off the ground….no doubt Luke and Chelsey are “framily.”

 

 

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