* I'm HOW old???

When I was four years old, I thought 14 was so OLD! I adored a neighboring teen who was kind enough to teach me how to wash dishes. That might not seem very special, and I prefer the dishwasher today, but she was patient and sweet to me, something I didn’t experience at home.

I always loved my ‘old’ teachers. One day, I was talking about how old my third grade teacher looked. I remarked that her skin was so browned and lined because of all the kids who had been talking to her; I assumed their ‘hot air’ burned her face. (My face burned when my mother repeated that anecdote to her!)

As I approached my 30th birthday, I struggled through each day. Seriously depressed, I had this belief that I would die at 30. I certainly tried to make that a reality. But my dearest teaching widower was patient, loving, and praying for me, and at 38, I met Jesus and was set free from depression. My life was forever changed, as was my view of aging.

A couple of years ago, my extremely talented sister and brother-in-law surprised me with a birthday cake. And there I was, a youngster on top of it, with real icing on my face!

Today I am 70 years old! I still think I’m relatively young, perhaps just past middle age?

* The Sunshine State (4)

After such a terrific time with relatives in Florida, it was hard to leave. I walked the Orlando airport to get my fitbit steps, exposing myself to folks hacking and sneezing into their hands. Yikes, folks. Use your arm!

I did see a coterie of stunning women, all in a line, heading for service as flight attendants. If my dearest teaching widower had not been working on his paper, seated in a galaxy far away, he’d have told me to put my phone down. But I couldn’t resist.

On the flight home, a passenger next to us coughed into the air unceasingly. Our front yard was filled with dozens of flags and spray paint, like someone planned to excavate every buried pipe and cable. Our house ‘smart thermostats’ had reverted to 49 degrees, which was a real shock to our systems (and I got very grumpy). I caught a nasty bug and was bedridden. When I graduated to the couch, I tripped over my computer cord and fell really hard, smashing a dish and landing on two body parts that had already survived surgery: my knee and shoulder.

BUT, the trip was fabulous and we can’t wait to return!

* The Sunshine State (3)

My dearest teaching widower (DTW) and I were really spoiled on our Florida trip. Our Sunshine relatives made this such a memorable time.

The Sun Rail was a delight! A three-story light rail with great views and touristy places to visit. It’s too bad that our local (North Carolina) light rail plan was such a dud. The GoTriangle organization spent $190 million and still needed $237 million plus a change of heart from Duke University/Carolina Railroad. The project was abandoned last May. Ah, well.

It only cost $3 for us to ride. I refuse to say whether my DTW and I paid the senior fares.

* The Sunshine State (1)

My dearest teaching widower (DTW) and I just took a trip to Florida, where the sun is brighter and the traffic lights self-propagate. Of course, I ignored the laughter and took photos. Everything in Florida is worth photographing.

We visited relatives whom we have designated as our ‘go-to’ family during the zombie apocalypse. We would be safe here, unless I accidentally shot my DTW. I did accidentally shoot the chain holding the target in place. Quite a fancy bit of accuracy!

Did you know there are alligators about 50 feet away from me? Hiding and biding their time…. And no, I am not a boy! It’s just the angle.

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* Christmas Fibbing

Caution: SPOILER ALERT

I love Pesnsitivity’s blog and she was hosting Fibbing Friday last week. I’ve missed every Friday since I first heard about this silly blogging challenge, but maybe this week!

There is a fib, though, and it has to do with Santa Claus. My dearest teaching widower (DTW) was talking to me about the impact of that fib lie on many children. As a curious child psychologist, he has often asked folks how they felt when they learned the truth that Santa wasn’t real. Many adults can tell you the exact time and how deceived they felt.

I remember feeling a great sense of betrayal as I read about that sham in the newspaper. (I was four years old and it was part of my father’s “I-hate- that-you-can-read-but-prove-to-me-that-you-can-read” endeavors.) I tried to protect my younger sister from finding out, so I played along for years. I think she already knew but I hated to see her suffer. Of course, we had so many other dreadful things happening at home that Santa Claus was a mere blip on the radar of betrayal.

As parents, my DTW and I resolved never to tell our kids that Santa lie. We explained that it was a belief for some families. We said it wasn’t okay to tell other kids what to believe since that was the responsibility of their parents. As a teacher, I always took the same stance, especially not allowing kids to torment others about this societal fibbing.

My DTW, who is always thinking about deep stuff, worries that if kids can’t trust their parents about Santa Claus, can they trust them about God? To me, the bigger issue is that my parents were supposed to represent God to me. So I grew up believing that my heavenly Father is deaf, cruel, powerless, and untrustworthy. Now I know the truth about him, how he chased me down with his love. And I still believe we should ditch the Santa lie.

* TToT: 2019 is almost over!

Thanks to Kristi and her co-hosts for this week’s Ten Things of Thankful. 2019 has been a tough year, with a record number of trips to the emergency room, lots of job changes, surgery, and illnesses. A wise man once said that we should be thankful with the cards we’re dealt; there may be some Jokers in the next hand. Well, he didn’t say it quite like that, but I’m ready for a new hand of cards.

I’ll begin my ten things by saying I’m glad to have recovered from a nasty sinus infection (#1). And my dearest teaching widower (DTW) created a silver lining by looking after me (#2), keeping me outfitted in tea and chocolate (#3).

We are going to see the Star Wars movie tonight (#4) and because of all the cough syrup I’ve taken (#5), I won’t disturb the crowd.

On the home front, I was well enough today to chase a herd of deer out of our front yard (#6) but it was too nippy to add seeds to the bird feeders (#6 minus 1…oops!). I have a special Christmas party planned for a special student tomorrow! It’s gonna be fantastic (#6 again, plus #7).

Another benefit of being ill is binge-watching TV with my precious teaching widower (#8). I’d highly recommend Blue Bloods, a fine series about the (fictional) Irish-American Reagan family and their commitment to law enforcement (#9).

If you’re a sci-fi fan, you may enjoy The Expanse as much as I do (#10). My DTW has deserted me on this one. It’s a gripping series about life on Earth, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt (centuries from now). I think my DTW can’t stand that flashlight technology will never improve….

Both Blue Bloods and The Expanse are streaming on Amazon.

It’s great to be back in the blogging saddle. Thanks for joining me!

* Victory before the victory

What on earth is ‘victory before the victory?’ Is it systemic cheating as featured in the movie Bad Genius? Is it positive self-talk? A new type of name-it-claim-it hysteria?

No, no, and no. Thank you, Kendrick: victory before the victory is a faith-based moment (or even years) when I praise God without knowing the outcome. For me, it’s giving over but not giving up. Praising Him no matter how miserable things look.

I had a serious knee injury at school that left me in a wheelchair for years. I HATED being in a wheelchair (although I did love racing through the hallways). I couldn’t walk more than 20-30 feet on my own. After the first year of despair and much prayer, I said, “Jesus, you bought my body with your own. This is your knee so it’s your problem. I want to be healed but if I must live this way, it’s up to you to keep me. Keep me from bitterness and angst and despair.” I should have added, “And impatience!”

Despite knowing that this was His knee, I perpetually complained about the school wheelchair and grocery store wheelchairs and being below eye level and people staring at me and people asking me how I was doing and people thinking I was healed because I could walk a short distance. I was bugged by relentless kids who said said, “Aha! I saw you standing up!” And I was bugged when I got my wheelchair stuck between tables in the cafeteria. Duh!

But I was content with the disability, even if getting around was a hassle. If this is how things were going to be, God was still in charge and promised to work it for good. Not my problem to fix.

My dearest teaching widower (DTW) and I made three annual trips to the beach after my injury and surgery. My DTW tried to pushed me through the sand the first time and was smart enough to realize that wouldn’t work the next time.

On the third trip, I decided to make it to the stairs by myself. He asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” I was a bit grouchy as I explained that I couldn’t go too far! Duh!

So I made it to the sand. Very slowly. I walked 30 feet, then 50. I called my DTW and said, “Uh, I can walk!” He asked if I wanted him to come with the wheelchair. He cautioned me to call immediately if I collapsed. I kept walking. I called him back after I’d walked a quarter of a mile and over his objections, I walked another quarter mile with a big smile on my face. Miraculous!

Yeah, God is still working on my impatience. Duh!

* TToT: welcome to my neighborhood

Thanks to Kristi and friends for hosting the weekly Ten Things of Thankful blogging challenge. I’m a tad late but happy to share news from my world.

(#1) I’m so grateful that my dearest teaching widower (DTW) is back from New Orleans! I’m always discombobulated while he’s gone. I’m also wildly proud of him: He does so much to advance his field of child forensic interviews. Giving hurt kids a voice is HUGE.

(#2) During my DTW’s absence, I was both fascinated and annoyed with the bucks who roamed our neighborhood. Despite all the deer repellent I’ve sprayed lately, two big boys chased one another around our house. I managed to get a photo of one and then spotted a younger buck down the street (#4).

(#5) I have enjoyed walks around the neighborhood, carrying my phone for quick photos. This week I had an eye exam and was told I have “short eyes.” So grateful I also have long legs (#4). I don’t enjoy the pupil dilating drops but look how cool that is! Zombieland? (#6)

(#7) My Fantasy League experience has been much better than last year! Sadly, I am on the losing side right now, but we’ll see…. (Does that mean I’m back at #6?)

#8, #9, and #10: Thanks to clarkscottroger‘s Secret Rules (1.3?) which allow me to sink into gratitude for completing this challenge! Whew! See you next weekend, TToT’-ers.

* TToT: pebbles in my mouth

I can take my inspiration from Messy Mimi’s Meanderings for this week’s Ten Things of Thankful. It seems that we both had our struggles! Like right now, I cannot get the L in Thankful to join the rest of that link. I’d better go ahead with my list before I chuck the computer. I’ve numbered my ten things for which I’m thankful, just in case you can’t find them.

I wrote the book on how NOT to survive a trip to the emergency room. I thought I would do better the last time around. I took a nut mix (no, not me and my dearest teaching widower) plus water for the long night. [#1] I was relieved that its packaging did not set off the metal detector. [#2] In the end, though, my teeth were to blame for what happened. Sort of.

While trail mix may be delicious, you can’t just pour it down your throat. Of course, you are in the ER, so you’ll get medical attention [#3] about an hour after you choke to death. But your fingers must come in contact with the food, assuming you haven’t accidentally (or on purpose) chopped off your digits.

Everything in the ER is contaminated, including your pinkies, so the best policy is to wash your hands until they are bleeding. There was still some risk, but around 2 AM, I dug into my nut mix. [4] However, I have these tight-fisted teeth, the kind of molars that trap every irritating particle. I needed a toothpick, but you saw how the Swiss Army knife worked out on our last visit. I kept telling myself not to touch my teeth. [5] After a couple of hours, those nut scraps felt like pebbles in my mouth. It took all my willpower not to dig them out. [6 & 7]

Fast forward to a nearby person (uncomfortably close to the edge of our bed) waiting for his spouse to get medical care for her puking digestive issues. For some reason, he kept shaking our bloody hands! He crawled on the floor to hunt for his missing phone and then held out his hand. Again! So I used more hand sanitizer and then braved the nasty bathroom for additional scrubbing. [8]

And on my way back to my dearest widower, I did it. I plucked an offending nut from my teeth.

I got sick. I got really cranky. I got better. [9] My dearest teaching widower asked me today how I was feeling about retirement. [10] I growled.

* Do you feel like hurting yourself?

That’s the first question we get during our intake at the ER. No matter what. My dearest teaching widower had another medical emergency so it was Round Four. The follow up question is: “Do you feel like harming someone else?” I felt like killing someone as I pictured the interminable night ahead of us. The nurse stared at me as I stifled giggles.

No matter how you feel upon your arrival, the ER ‘rooms’ are cleverly designed to drive you crazy. Every hallway has been partitioned into these spaces where we listen to the intimate details of others’ misery. Some poor woman groaned for about two hours, begging someone to stop. A neighboring roommate talked incessantly to us about burial plots for several more hours. I tried to read but I kept hearing, “Do you have a history of vomiting at work?”

Eventually we were offered a choice, a no-brainer, really. Did we want to stay in the hospital for two more days or go home and come back. See ya later, alligator!