* Three Things Thursday

Nerd in the Brain is a continual source of inspiration for all things nerdy and clever.  Every Thursday she posts these fascinating glimpses into the giggly life of a nerd.  Between her and Lizzi, who gleans gratitude from even the rough patches in life, I should be able to scrape something together, right?  Even if my week has been a bit glum?  Here are my scraps for the week:

Scrap one:  I reinstalled Windows 10!  My previous installation had deleted all my files and ruined almost every app.  Why on earth did I try it again?   Because I hate to be defeated by a computer program?  Yes and no.  Sadly, I can’t control how Windows chooses to update.  Because I adore any new techie thing?  YES!  And Windows 10 now works beautifully.  It’s faster than my previous OS and I have a new persona to aggravate.  Dearest Cortana.  I have yet to determine how she compares to Siri.  Did you know you could once get Siri into a silent snit if you asked her whether she has been born again?

Scrap two: As craft-challenged as I am, I was hesitant to guide a student in creating a Cherokee village.  I figured it would look like Godzilla Meets Wooden Huts.  (No contest there.)  Surprisingly, the village is not half bad.  Yeah, that’s weak.  That’s why we call this a scrap.

Scrap three:  Today is my dearest teaching widow’s birthday!  Just to keep him in shape, he got to move the treadmill so I could reach my rock collection trapped in an out-of-reach closet.  I HAD to get that rock collection because 4th graders study rocks and minerals.  Plus, I LOVE rocks.  Almost as much as tech stuff.  My neck was set into a downward position until I started taking all these fun photos for Jennifer’s Color Your World challenge.  But that would be my 4th scrap, so I’d better stop while I’m ahead.

* Cloudy with a chance of silver

Thanks so much to Lizzi, who always manages to make me smile.  Her indomitable spirit seeks out the silver linings in every week, even with tonsilitis!  I’m scanning 10 clouds, searching for my ten things of thankful.

Cloud 1:  The deer have finally eaten everything I’ve planted in the back yard.  All my ground cover.  They have also started on our MAIN landscaping at the front.  The cost in physical therapy for my back; all those plants, soil, and fertilizer; the time invested in hauling and digging soil for DEER-resistant plants?  The flood of water when it rains?  Exposed tree roots?  Silver lining:  No more unpleasant surprises in the back yard- it’s all gone!  And I do love working outside.  Exercise helps my brain form new neural connections.  The deer are also chubby and happy.

Cloud 2:  I have not made much of a dent in my organization of hoarded teacher supplies.  Silver lining:  I am getting better at Cookie Jam, my go-to game when I feel overwhelmed with debris.  Also, I now have multiple stacks of STUFF instead of one apparent landslide.  And I’ll probably need every item one day.

Cloud 3:  My dearest widower is pre-diabetic.  SIlver lining:  He’s PRE-diabetic.  I got him a special fitness watch for his soon-to-be birthday.

Cloud 4:  My dearest widower remarked that he is not going to record everything he eats on his app.  I guess he noticed how long it took me to note his breakfast and lunch today.  Silver lining:  He will still work on his exercise goal and we’ll also see how little he actually sleeps.

Cloud 5:  I had my hair highlighted because hair can be so deadly boring.  I am not thrilled with the results.  Silver lining:  My dearest widower LOVES my new look!  WOW!

Cloud 6:  As spring arrives, I must face my continual dilemma with sunscreen.  I finally found a product line that does not shred my skin to the bones.  Unfortunately, it makes my face completely white.  Silver lining:  The zombie look is in.  I also laugh hysterically when people try not to look at my deathbed skin color.zombie-147945_960_720

Cloud 7:  If you google ugly feet, mine are on the third row of ugly.  Warm weather is coming and other women get to show off their tootsies.  Silver lining:  None of my students would recognize me if I didn’t wear clodhopper shoes.

Cloud 8:  My clodhopper shoes are remarkably ugly.  Silver lining:  My constantly changing hair color  and white zombie face keep kids looking up, not down.  And I’m taller than all of them.

Cloud 9:  I am shrinking.  The older I get, the shrinkier I am.  Remember the dreaded shrinks from Roald Dahl’s “The Twits?”   Silver lining:  My dearest widower also has the dreaded shrinks.  I would say that he’s shrinking proportionately faster than I am, but that would be mean.

Cloud 10:  I find myself  continually forgetting why I have traipsed upstairs or where I put my phone.  Silver lining:  I watch folks in their twenties do the same thing.  And my dearest widower’s memory is proportionally worse than mine, but I won’t mention that.


* On the positive side

Many thanks to Lizzi and her challenge to find 10 silver linings in the myriads of clouds swirling about.  Lizzi’s focus is the aging process.  Ha!  She doesn’t know the half of it.  My sister once shared this tidbit: “Remember that you look younger today than you ever will again.”  Not much solace in that if you live to look young, which is an oxymoron but serves as silver lining #1.

I was remarking to a friend that I can’t use the biometric access for my iPhone because my fingerprints are nonexistent.  “What happened to them?” she asked.  “They’ve been worn away by time and dishwashing.”  “Well, at least you can commit a crime without leaving fingerprints!” she replied.  See?  Silver lining #2.

I continued the conversation by suggesting that all devices should operate with retinal scans.  No more passwords to remember.  Then I thought about my deteriorating retinas.  My friend suggested silver lining #3: “Better to have your thumb cut off than your eye removed!”  Huh?  It took me a moment to catch up to her crime-mobster-thinking.

Lizzi felt old because she caught a glimpse of herself in harsh lighting.  Silver linings #4 and 5 come to mind:  Take off your glasses and stay inside with candle light.  I am gorgeous in a blurry, candlelit setting.

I was reading an article that advised older women to show off their lower arms and keep that wattled neck covered. They insisted no one has old-looking lower arms and wrists.   Are they kidding me?  I do look awesome in ballroom gloves to the elbows (silver lining #6).

My students occasionally stare at my wrinkles, droopy skin, and unfashionable but comfortable attire.  I get them back on track so fast it would make your head spin.  Silver lining #7.

The Glo-Minerals makeup collection costs a small fortune but their silver lining (#8) is some kind of light refraction trick that makes light bounce off wrinkles.  Or perhaps it simply blinds folks who look at me (silver lining #9).

I look vastly different from the 19-year-old who fell in love with a sweet young man who would become my teaching widower.  He says he loves me just the way I am.  And he means it.  SILVER LINING #10!!M and K

* Moment by moment

Many thanks to Lizzi’s Ten Things of Thankful this week.  I am ‘borrowing’ her moment by moment theme, which means I am blatantly plagiarizing my blogging mentor.  And she doesn’t even know she’s my mentor.  Outright stealing then.  Here we go.  I am so thankful for:

  1. Many moments of sheer joy as weather forecasters predicted snow.  More joy as the snow fell.  Prayers that no one would lose their power as the sheets of ice followed.
  2. My dearest widower who has fed the birdlings throughout this storm.  He used a metal rake and hauled himself, step by step, up the treacherous icy hill to the feeder.  My dear one has poured out pounds of seed daily for the chilled ground-eating flocks (and squirrels).  What a widower!
  3. The pleasure of watching the birdlings eat and eat and eat.
  4. Our power remaining on!  And the neighbor’s giant tilting tree has not fallen!  This oak started leaning after hurricane Fran and continues to tilt a bit more every year.  Yeah, not the best photo but Cee‘s blog is helping me!tree
  5. Special texts today from special friends!  Growing up isolated and warped, I never learned how to be a friend.  I am grateful for the women who have patiently loved me into relationships.  Still learning, still stumbling, but hands are always reaching out to catch me.
  6. My sister.  She also grew up in that crushing environment where we were pitted against one another for shreds of “affection.”  My sister somehow became a remarkable woman, generous beyond words.  Her life is a living sacrifice for those who desperately need love.
  7. Stacey, whose spunky spirit makes her oblivious to the little phonological glitches of her world.  One cute glitch: Stacey has heard her sibs and others talk about Plan B.  She hears Plan V, and drew a picture of same (with help for spelling ‘plan,’ of course).  When her sibs looked at it and said “B!  B!” Stacey continued to draw V’s with great joy.  She’s a survivor.Plan V.jpg
  8. Carrot cake, which my dearest widower and I ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the storm.  Not out of necessity.  Out of pure gluttony.  Oops, that’s an oxymoron.
  9. Awesome worship music.  My current favorite is Keeper of My Heart by Kari Jobe. 
  10. Chocolate.  Enough said.


* Ten Things of Thankful 136 (in small moments)

I was going to mention Lizzi’s post in my own Ten Things of Thankful (TToT), but then you would miss her writing. That would never do! How do I capture her writing? It’s a fluid river of feeling words, of delight in moments spent with others, of family, and of thankfulness. Her writing will wash over you and transform you, creating a healthy desire to treasure each moment in gratitude. And the honesty and joy of it will keep you from being frustrated that you don’t have her exact words or style, because each of us has own own gift. I believe her posts stir up a desire to use our unique gifts, our unique perspectives. I encourage you to try TToT yourself and lift up your words of thankfulness to the One who deserves all of them.


For no other reason than I seem to have had a plethora of them this week, I’m going to offer up small moments of great beauty or poignancy, which I took time to appreciate this week. I think in the grander scheme of things, we’re all so busy rushing around trying to get everything done (I know *I* am, at any rate – I won’t tar everyone with the same brush) we often forget to stop and absorb the moment, finding something within it to give thanks for – making the time to be present.

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* Ten Things of Thankful from Lizzi

This is Lizzi at her best, although she might say her “worst.” When I first read her Ten Things of Thankful (TToT), I was hooked. This particular Sunday, as she looks both behind and forward, you can see why I admire this blogger. Lizzi is a terrific writer and that alone is worth a read. But her heart is so passionate and she writes unflinchingly about all kinds of tough situations, consistently humorous in the midst. Don’t be intimidated by its length (hey, we all like to talk, right?). She’s planning another trip to Murica! I’m still not sure why I thought Murica was in Spain. I mean, she made this fantastic journey to the US last year, marked by a clear map of the ocean and this country,and I STILL thought she was in Spain. I’d encourage fellow bloggers to ignore my geographic tics, read her posts, and sign on for TTof T.


In the beginning – the VERY beginning – the Ten Things of Thankful were used as justification to continue to the next day.

I was in my late teens, coming gradually out of the darkness and misery of bullying and abuse from what felt like all corners (in reality it was only home and school, but that was sufficient). I was mentally and emotionally spent, finding safety in dreams and wishing for death because it seemed preferable (if not easier) to quit than struggle onwards, towards a future which seemed as bleak as the past. 

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* Days of déjà vécu

Or in plain English, “Been There.  Got The Tee Shirt.”  This is my Ten Things of Thankful (TToT) post, inspired by Lizzi who also inspired me to cheat.  Since I usually do cheat, burying my thankful nuggets in the midst of ugly shells (like geodes), I’m highlighting them to make the sparkles easier to find.  Here we go.

Remember Deerland?  The hordes of deer who consider our yard their private buffet?  The hours of MY backbreaking work to plant a groundcover on an inhospitable hill?  Not to mention the cost of each supposedly deer-resistant plant?  Well, the king of the hill made his way past our bird feeder, snacking on my expensive lawn cover as he traveled.  I did not notice a single plant in resistance.  No posters, boycotts, tweets, and #kumbaya.  But what a beauty this king is!  His muscles rippled as he appreciatively ate dessert.  Of course I couldn’t get a decent photo; my dear widower was shushing me so we wouldn’t scare him off.  deer 2

I used to think the front yard was safe from pestilence, but this is what greeted me the other morning.  I was relieved that it wasn’t in preparation for my coffin!  I moved past quickly, just in case.

digging 1

And there was a digging bonus!  The holes were evenly spaced all the way down our yard (and street).  It looks like human ant hills, which excites the entomologist in medigging 2

I had a chance to admire a Montessori school in action this week.  Student-led projects, small class sizes, strong sense of community, hands-on activities.  It reminds me of my earlier days of teaching, before the era of inflexible bureaucracy and the testing quagmire.

To top off the week, we had a wild birthday celebration.  This photo with Darth Vader was taken even before the kiddos got to our house.  This group was ready to par-tay!


Most everybody was camera-shy, but we had a blast.  All six kiddos!  That’s more than 10 TToT!camera shy 5

* Raining thankfulness

Lizzi, the originator of Ten Things of Thankful, is safely back in England after a wild and wonderful trip through Murica.  I wonder if I am the only person who thought she had headed to Spain.  Duh.  I can’t wait to read her next post!  While I’m waiting, here is my TToT!

One: Rain, rain, and more rain.  Five inches and counting.  We were in drought conditions and I’m sure I wasn’t the only person praying for rain.  As our pastor joked, we almost expected an ark to sail past this week.  I am sad that some folks have suffered from flooding and wish we didn’t build in floodplains.

Two and Three and Four: Cam Newton, the Carolina quarterback, has come into his own.  The Panthers are 4-0!  Woohoo!  It’s been delightful to see this young man mature.  He was put in a very tough position as a rookie and seeing him sulk under his towel was not my favorite image.  Cam now smiles throughout it all and looks adorable, rain or shine.  I love that he gives a football to a young fan after each touchdown.  Most important of all, my widower and I enjoy Panther games with our son and his wife and friends, win or lose.camFive:  I wrote a review of a terrific book called “Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton” by Don Tate.  And Don Tate actually read and liked my post!!  I whooped for joy!  Already an established illustrator, Don Tate earned the Ezra Jack Keats Award for his first book, “It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw.”  By the way, I will be reviewing that book soon!

Six: I am considering adding “fairy strands” to my hair.  Just thinking about it is thrilling.  These strands are silk threads attached to a single hair, available in all kinds of colors and sparkles.  Don’t they sound perfect for someone who is easily bored with her hair (me)?  I have been checking out the pros and cons and it’s looking good.  I haven’t talked to my dearest widower about this, but he survived my two years of brilliant red and recent blast-from-the-past blonde.  Sparkling turquoise sounds sweet!

Seven, Eight, Nine, and Ten:  Movies I am glad I haven’t seen or (hopefully) will never see: Steve Jobs, Pan, The Green Inferno, and Hotel Transylvania 2.

* Miles to go

Lizzi, the originator of Ten Things of Thankful, is wending her way across the states, visiting bloggers and having a terrific time.  I only just realized that “Murica” is AMERICA, so that sheds a whole new light on her Facebook posts.  I did think she was covering a lot of ground in Spain.  Another of those little glitches of mine!  Here’s what she says on FB:

This trip is proving to be one of unexpected and profound beauty, for so many reasons. My every anxiety has melted away as I’ve been welcomed into a new house and embraced by a long-known heart, every day.THIS is what it feels like for my soul to continue the process of shedding past darknesses and begin stepping into intense, bright, love-filled light. And there is SO much light here, in glorious abundance, and I am REVELLING in it. I want YOU to look at your life and see where YOUR abundance and light is, and do a bit of revelling. What is it that you’re grateful for today?


(Yes, the UK can be gloomy, weather-wise.  I remember the sun shone on a Wednesday one year.  Of course, much of that cloud cover was pollution.  “Nylons” would disintegrate on the clotheslines.)

Speaking of bright light, though, my dearest widower and I just returned from a delightful hike in the woods.  Research suggests that even looking at a picture of trees has health benefits.  So after our walk, now that I have wiped off the gloppy sunblock, been checked for ticks, changed my sopping wet shirt, and had a glass of iced tea. I am feeling quite relaxed.  I must admit that as soon as we returned to “civilization” (aka, sidewalks), I ended up leaving my widower in the dust.  We have always walked at vastly different paces.  We do a reverse of the Asian husband-and-wife walking order.  I prance and flit, while my walking widower savors each step.  That is pretty much the way we approach life.  I wolf down my food, read a hundred miles an hour, and love to to touch everything.  He is the deep thinker, the analyst, the great listener.  In other words, I adore him.  And he checks me for ticks.  True love.

* The bleeding edge

Lizzi is blogging Ten Things of Thankful in her current state of despair, still pushing on because she wants to make a difference, she wants to do all things well.  As always, I appreciate her willingness to share her struggles openly.  Lizzi hopes to change conditions for Jenny, one of many homeless in her area, so if you want to donate, click on that link to Lizzi’s current post.  All these journeys of all the people in the world, intimately known to the One who created us.  The One who saves us.  What comfort in suffering.

My own Ten Things of Thankful could only be written by an affluent woman who doesn’t trek hours each day, with gallons of dirty water on her head.  I am not trapped in the sex slave trade, I am not trapped in a body that can’t move of its own volition, I am not in an abusive relationship, and I am not starving in a refugee camp or in one of countless homes across this country where there’s not enough food.

With those disclaimers in mind, how could I possibly find even more for which I’m grateful?  More to the point, how could I possibly complain?  Complaints have come easily this past week.  Let me begin by saying that it’s all Microsoft’s fault.  It’s oh-so-true that if you upgrade to Windows 10, you’ll be on the “bleeding edge” of technology.  Literally.  When I first upgraded a week ago, I was thrilled with the renewed speed of Black Beauty (my champion computer).  There were new games on which I could fritter away time, and it looks quite lovely.  Then, unbeknownst to me, at 7:04 AM and 7:05 AM on August 27, Windows 10 (W10) upgraded itself.  Have you ever seen 2001: A Space Odyssey?  Remember Hal?  Well, W10 doesn’t bother to explain what she is doing.  Cortana, the evil twin of Siri, assures you that your documents can be found.  Just click on the link she gives you.  And all your photos?  EVERY BIT OF WORK YOU HAVE DONE IN THE LAST 20 YEARS?  Poof!  Gone!

passwordAnd then Microsoft has the nerve to tell me that I must prove who I am.  Only I don’t have my password document anymore and I can’t remember that password.  I am locked out of my home while it is being burgled!   Death to W10!

OK, so I have Memeo PREMIUM backup running and asked it to restore my files.  All 80,000 of them.  It spent 24 hours spinning its wheels.  Eventually I restored Windows 8.1, after multiple warnings that I might lose a few apps.  By then, I was losing my hair anyway, so what were a few apps?  Um, like no accessible internet browser?  No files?  And bits and pieces of both Windows, fighting to the death (of me!).  Even as we speak, I am downloading Google Chrome for the third time.  The first two times, Chrome did not know who I was!  Chrome and I were best buddies!  Do you know how many bookmarks and passwords I have saved on Chrome?  But I do have all my files and it looks like Chrome’s memory has returned.  Still, I am shocked to discover that these programs don’t love me.  They don’t even serve me.  After all we’ve done together!!  Bottom line: DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PC UNATTENDED.  Or buy a Mac.