Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Man From Africa


Photo Courtesy
I don't know which African country this twenty-something man was from. For this post, it may not matter. I would have liked to have known, though, to show him respect, and that I cared. 

He was new to the store where I shop. From first glance I'd say he was shy. At second glance, I decided he was being polite to a lady who was talking a lot. You know the polite body language: the smile, the nod, the periodic eye contact while still doing the job. 

I assumed the words he chose to say while working were the suggestions he received in training. Having sat through my fair share of those training sessions, the experience seemed to go that way. 

So.

I decided not to talk on and on about whatever and bore him with chatter about this and that. Good grief, some customers may as well break out the 8-track tapes (now there is an old saying. That was even before my time!!)

When my turn came, this young man did a great job ringing up my order, he smiled, and I said hello. He rang up several items AND THEN said, "So what is your career?"

Wow. That was a question I did not expect. Good grief, I could have given a seminar to answer that question. But. I restrained myself. I simply said, "I am a writer."

That was when the magic happened. He stopped. Looked up at me with eyes that showed he was genuinely intrigued. "What do you write?"

Ugh! My plan! He asked questions that would spark long answers in any writer. BUT. Again I kept to my plan to not talk this man's ears off. I said, "I write mysteries."

Now this would have been a great place for him to end the conversation. He could have thought: well, I asked polite questions. My boss should be happy. I can finish this order then move on to the next.

He instead said more. "Tell my about your most recent book."

Go ahead and laugh. No way could I answer that question in only a few words. I explained the story line in about fifty words. Talk about restraint!! He looked up again and said, "So, where do you get your book ideas from. Dreams?"

Okay. That last question indicated he had heard that answer before. When I said, "No. They don't come from dreams. This particular story involves a physical problem that a family member has and it has a chef. I have a family member who is a chef. Both components could be verified using our own experiences."  He looked surprised, totally expecting the dream answer.

He said, "Do you happen to have that book with you? Could I see the  book?"

What his eyes and words communicated was a genuine respect for the writing career. Maybe once upon a time he wanted to be a writer. Maybe he likes books. Maybe...he  thought writers were people to respect. Whatever... it made me feel good.

What he didn't know was I respected him, too. I have done the work he was doing. I know how hard it is. He did the job well and was genuinely friendly to people. He is an asset to our community and we are blessed to have him.


Now that I think back, this conversation had a lot of great key components. None of them planned. He asked a question, my answer sparked his interest. The answer was not long, just enough to get his interest. He asked more questions. The responses were kept to just what he asked, which resulted in his curiosity to ask more.  This...friends...is how we tell people about a living God who loves them. No, the topic this time was not about God, but maybe another time. 


This post has been brought to you by the one word-ShortSimpleToThePoint




Tuesday, August 8, 2017

New School Rule Causes The Children to Be Hungry



With all the allergies kids have today, schools are faced with a new problem: what to do when a child forgets his or her lunch.

Even up to the 2016 year schools offered a peanut butter sandwich to a child who forgot their lunch or had no money left in their lunch account.

Unfortunately, there are children with peanut allergies. A child with a severe peanut allergy can have a serious reaction if even near anything that contains the product or has been made in a factory that makes peanut products. 

Also, there seems to be many children who are now allergic to milk products. Since the school is not sure if a child might happen to have a milk product allergy, staff cannot give one who forgot his or her lunch any milk.

The current list of food related allergies has grown quite long.

So, for the safety of the child who has forgotten their lunch, some schools in the state of Arizona no longer provide food for these children. The whole day.

Horrible, you might say?

Well, to add fuel to the problem, the schools, feeling bad about this decision, have asked teachers to donate part of their salary to fund lunches for the children who forget their lunch or who have no money left in their lunch money account. 

Four different on-line sites report starting salaries for teachers in Arizona to be $34,000 or less. 
www.teacherportal.com | www.teachingdegree.org | azcapitoltimes.com | www.12news.com

These teachers are also expected to supply their classrooms with supplemental materials. 

Arizona teachers are said to be among the lowest paid teachers in the U.S. in the sites listed above. 

So the choice has become this: the children who forget their lunches go hungry or the teachers must pony up part of their salary and have less to feed their own family because the district doesn't have the money.


Good grief. Talk about a conundrum. 

Somehow I have a feeling Arizona is not the only state with this issue.

What are your thoughts. Ideas. Suggestions.

This post has ben brought to you by UnsolvableProblems

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ever Wonder How Today Became National Night Out Day




Have you ever wondered how one day out of the year becomes National Night Out Day or National Raspberry Cream Pie Day or any other special celebration day? By the way, today is National Night Out Day and National Raspberry Cream Pie Day, so take your special one out tonight and enjoy a piece of raspberry cream pie. Yum.








Well, near as I can figure these celebrations not only keep our economy from recession, it also helps us remember. 

Sometimes we're remembering 
something yummy
someone special
someplace we've been
a cause
someone we love
a first
a graduation

all sorts of things worthy of remembering

This week, hubby and I are remembering the day we walked down the aisle and said our wedding vows. He had the silkiest soft black hair that day. Sadly, time stole those gorgeous strands, but he still has dreamy brown eyes. 

God has blessed us over time way more than we could ask. A home. Kids. A garden. Stability. Solid marriage complete with jagged edges. Adventures to some really awesome places. Good church. Friends. 

We've had our fair share of troubles. Homeless for a time. Cancer. Theft. and more.

But even in those storms God was by our side. He has been our tower of strength. Our peace. Our comfort. Our joy.

To help hubby remember this all important day, I put a reminder on the calendar. (I put the same reminder up for the kids and my birthdays. He never misses a one.)

Now I wonder if you can figure out the color I used in my wedding. The hint is in this blog. Go ahead. Take a guess.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Individual vs Corporate, A Declaration of Independence Right in My Backyard

In search of today's topic I happened upon a book of quotes (Quotations for All Occasions, editor Catherine Frank). Inside I read:



Photo by Mary Vee
 I know of nothing that makes one feel more complacent, in these July days, than to have his vegetables from his own garden. What an effect it has on the market-man and the butcher is a kind of Declaration of Independence. Charles Dudley Warner 1829-1900

I am very happy to announce my first, big crop of raspberries grown in my back yard. I filled a quart container with raspberries this morning. Yep, a whole quart. I've been working on this raspberry patch for three years reaping token berries. This year--this year I have a quart of raspberries, next year I am expecting a heap, this of course is a clearly defined amount. 





Photo by Mary Vee



In celebration, I watched the prices at my local store...a soaring, disappointing price, then, just like Charles Dudley Warner's quote said, I didn't buy any. Instead, my family and I feasted on our own bumper crop.







Photo by Mary Vee



I've strung up the tomatoes to keep the ones changing from green to orange and soon red from weighing the plants down to the ground.








Photo by Mary Vee



This crop will be another first. I'm hoping to can 10 quarts more than last years, a time when I canned 0 home grown tomatoes. Ooo, yummy spaghetti sauce for this winter.










7/17 Photo by Mary Vee



The butternut squash is crowding the tomatoes. This is my first time growing these delectable vegetables. I have plans to make butternut squash soup. I will cook them, turn them into soup then can them for winter. For now, I'm gonna have to do something about those squash plants crowding the tomatoes.










7/17 Photo by Mary Vee
One of This Year's apples




I'm really enjoying my farmer Mary experience. I've kept it simple. Started small. Hoping for big success and look forward to enjoy eating home grown. This is my declaration...even in its smallest measure...of independence.










7/17 Photo by Mary Vee
One of this year's Pears
7/17 Photo by Mary Vee
Blackberries still thinking
about being this year's crop.















While corporations provide much of what is on my table, there is nothing better tasting than fruits and vegetables home grown. God has been so good. His blessing are new every morning and their fruit is tasty.



This post has been brought to you by the one word-HomeGrown  

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Fishing Blind


Photo by Mary Vee
 
I was surprised to see a fisherman out this morning. 

Thick fog hung over us and the lake. I looked out my window and barely saw the water. A small object came into view....this fisherman.

I wondered how he saw the narrow steep dirt path used by boaters to launch rowboats and canoes onto the lake. And how he chose this spot to settle.

He must feel chilled. The moist fog gives a sticky, cold feel to the skin. And he is out there alone.

At least an hour or more would have to go by before the sun warmed the air and dissipated the cloud.

Threading the worm on the hook had to be a challenge. Tracking the bobber after casting would be nearly impossible. He'd have to go by feel.

Not by sight.

Then again, a good fisherman doesn't need to see with physical eyes. Knowing when the fish bite, where they are likely to be, the temperature of the water, etc, is far more important. Based on knowledge and desire to do what is needed, the fisherman uses an inner sense to bring in a good catch. 

Oddly enough, when the mosquitoes are biting and the sun is low in the sky, that is a good time to fish. That is when there are row boats and canoes on our lake.

~~

The Apostle Peter was a great fisherman. His catches brought in enough money to support his family and mother-in-law. One night, he and his fishing buddies sailed to all the right places, dropped their lines like always, and caught absolutely nothing. Not one fish. They rowed back to shore the next morning a bit bothered.

They didn't have hardly any work since the boat was empty. No lines to mend. No fish to sell. 

Off to the side a small crowd stood listening to a man speak. Peter had nothing else to do so, he walked closer and saw the man was Jesus. Jesus eyed Peter and asked him to push his boat into the water.

Peter waited for Jesus to climb in then shoved off a short ways. The water amplified Jesus' voice helping him to speak to more people. At the end of the talk, Jesus asked Peter to row out to deep waters and drop his nets.

As a professional fisherman, Peter knew the conditions weren't right for catching fish. He knew the idea was crazy, BUT "because You have told me to, I will." 

Within seconds of dropping the nets in the deep water, they weighed heavy, pulling on the side of the boat. Peter called his friends, "Come close. Help us! We're going to tip over!" The friends came. Amazingly, the catch filled both boats to capacity.


Sometimes things happen in our day that don't make any sense. We can't see the reasons, but as long as we follow God's instructions, the end result will be good.


This post has been brought to you by the one word: NotBySight








Tuesday, July 11, 2017

So...No GPS


Photo by Mary Vee
Somewhere out west.

Summertime is a great time for road trips. Maybe it's time to slip in a visit to those far away family members just to say hey and 'sup? 

Those of you who have read my past posts know I am one who is easily distracted by a-mazing views. In my defense the distractions aren't always mountains and flowers, sometimes unique city buildings yank my attention. 

The time I visited my sister in, O, say, six or seven states west of my home depending on the route Google set up, I arrived in a huge city that sprouted out of the desert sands. Toll roads. Expressways giving birth to more expressways. 

One-way streets leapt out of dark corners with masked signs. I knew they'd steal every drop of gas in my car before setting me free on a road heading the direction I needed.

You might say, "Funny story. Where was your GPS?"

Well, yes, I have a smart phone with a great camera feature that I use for many photos. Our family is on a strict budget, which means a tiny data plan for emergencies only. So no GPS.

I wasn't foolish. I asked Google my route before I left home, printed out pages, and had screen shots. Theoretically, I was set. 

Until I hit construction.

And the detour.

And some crazy road that indicated west when it really went south. Who writes these things?

The point of surrender came. I got off the west road heading south and landed on some random road that pleased my car's compass. Good grief, I only wanted a western suburb of this mega city. It couldn't be that hard to find.

The hour was late.

Thinking my far-away family member might wonder if I changed my mind about visiting, I called. I chose the husband because he was a former truck driver, which meant he could figure out where I was based on my obscure description of the surroundings and help me find my way.

"You're where?" His country laughter turned into snorting. "How did you do that?" 

Good grief.

The repair to my wrong turn took another forty-five minutes before reaching their neighborhood.   

Dotting the scraggly grass along the winding driveway were nieces, nephews, a pet or two, the latest tractor,  my sister and her husband. Little did I know, the whole gang, several extended family members included, had planned to spend the evening with me. Supper had miraculously kept warm on the stove all that time. The kids looked hungry.

They opened my car door and swarmed me with hugs and smiles. Without missing a beat, we flowed into their home and straight to the dining room table, talking and laughing as we stepped on creaky floorboards and over pets.

Rewind a few minutes. As the car maneuvered the last turn onto their dirt road, I thought maybe they would be upset with me for getting lost. I wasn't sure how I would be received. I thought about all my mistakes that caused the problem in the first place...that put me in the pickle of being late a good two hours later than planned. Sigh. If I had received the silent or cold treatment, I would have felt deserving.

But they didn't. 

The reception was as far opposite as could be.

And you know what? 

This true event is so much like our journey here on earth...and our reception in heaven. God knows we are taking crazy life turns. He has a great map system call the Bible. Life, though throws ridiculous detours at us and make us feel stupid or disappointed in ourselves, etc.  

But guess what? 

God loves us so much. He is always ready to greet us with a warm smile, a hug, a sweet song, and acceptance. He loves to see us.

If you've been snagged by a detour, feeling lost, maybe scared and unsure, talk to God. He WILL listen. He WILL show you the way.


This post has been brought to you by the one-word: LostAndHugged

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Most Unique Fireworks



We stumbled upon these unique fireworks.

In my book, yah couldn't get closer to the intent of this holiday than this show.

To the south of us is a lake. It's a long lake with cottages and houses on nearly every inch of shore. Behind postage stamp-sized properties, are more houses. Roads leading to each residence are twined like a mouse trap. Be careful or you may not find the way out!



Anyway, my family heard the boom booms from our house. We hopped in the car in search for what we hoped was a fantastic show. AND IT WAS!!

In route to a little park, big enough for four cars, fireworks burst overhead. Boom. Boom. One after another exploding brilliant blues, reds, yellows, and more. Popping as fast as pop corn. Then the sound stopped. The air filled with smoke. Car horns blared. People cheered. Toy horns honked. 

We looked for a place to turn around, thinking the show was over. But it wasn't.

A series of new fireworks burst overhead then cheers, horns, and sparklers. What was this? 

We drove through the narrow streets to a tiny park, stepped out of our car and nestled on the rocky shore ready to see a spectacular show. 

To our left fireworks burst into the sky and reflected on the lake. Cheers rang. Fireworks burst from the right. Cheers. Fireworks from behind us, up the hill. Cheers rang. 

The best I could figure, any cottage owner who wanted to purchase an arsenal of fireworks did. When one show stopped, another started. In-between the mini productions, those who only had a few to display, set off one or two fireworks. 

It was a concert. Orchestrated by none. 

Unified by all. Cooperation. 

Cheering as loud as the fireworks. The lake echoing she sound like an amphitheater. 

Hundreds of lawn chairs lined the shore. Wet towels on clothes line. Kids with wet hair huddled in sweatshirts and lit sparklers in their hands. 

Oh, my. 

What a difference from the show where people passively gather in large masses and watch one show put on by one company. Yes these professional shows are very impressive. They really are. Coordinated music, announcers, huge displays.

But this all community participating show...the one where everyone joins in with whatever they can, (and some did big time) ...this was exhilarating. Inspirational. Moving.

I like the idea that everyone gave what they could and participated. This is what the pilgrims did to form our country. No one expecting. Everyone giving.


This post has been brought to you by the one word-
AllForOneAndOneForAll



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Even His Laughter Was Funny


Photo by Mary Vee
a lovely restaurant in Venice, Italy
not the location of today's post, though
I sat with a group of friends at a restaurant and because of the angle of my chair, I saw an interesting situation play out.

An older man and woman sat across from each other at a table. He told her a lengthy story during their meal, animating his words with his hands. He was so engaged in this tale he even laughed and snorted. I wish I could have heard what he said.

Anyway, the woman kept her eyes on him but barely responded. I thought, why isn't she laughing with him? Even if what he said wasn't funny, his laughter was funny. But she didn't say a word or laugh the entire time I watched. 

At the end of the meal she excused herself to the ladies room.

He paid the bill, and the waiter brought Styrofoam boxes holding what I assumed was the food they couldn't eat. He looked back toward the ladies room. Ah, the body language was clear. He had to use the men's room, she wasn't back, and the Styrofoam containers were on the table. He shrugged, left the containers, and went to the men's room.

While he was gone, she returned to the dining room. A look of panic/where is he/ why did he leave was on her face. She looked to the left and right as she walked back to the table. Once she saw the containers her look changed to judgement. Like, why did he leave these things unattended? She folded and unfolded her hands, keeping her eye on the back hall where the men's room was.

When he returned to the table, her stoic look did not change a bit. He warmly smiled and place a hand on her shoulder. 

Then they left.

Wow. 

They only other detail I haven't given was neither wore a wedding ring.

So. Maybe this was a blind date. I don't know. I was just taken with his efforts to engage her, to share things he enjoyed, to get her to smile.

Isn't that like what God does for us? Sometimes we are such stick in the muds not seeing his artistry in nature, the songs of creatures, His goodness all around us. I'm guilty.

Let me share this a-mazing verse. It's a top ten one for memorizing. Say it when you wake every morning because God is so happy about you, He loves you SO much, He is singing!!
Talk about a reason to smile!! 

Zephaniah 3:17


The Lord your God in the midst of you is mighty
He will save 
He will rejoice over you with gladness
He will rest in his love
He will joy over you with singing


This post has been brought to you by the one word: GodSongs

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sometimes Technology Makes Me Scream



Photo by Mary Vee, Arizona

Today's late post is brought to you by a Mary Vee who has only seconds ago taken a BIG chill pill.

Good grief.

I opened the site to write today's post...whatever that topic was is long gone--wiped out by epic frustration.

Although I could open my blog's schedule and examine settings and other details, I could not get to the composition page. 



That's when I discovered my blog had been shut down.
That's when I discovered my blog had "expired".
That's when I discovered my blog did not revert to the failsafe address. The dorky one with blogspot.com in the address.

That's when I slipped into dysfunctional mode.

Okay, I am not a dork when it comes to technology. I have taught myself HTML survival and can modify mostly any code to look the way I want. I can find help desks. Follow directions. Sheesh I set up this blog with my own domain.

But today I wasn't expecting a spiraling demise. The system had breached my problem solving fortress before I had coffee.

I made one wrong turn after another slipping down so many rabbit trails.

I'm not going to lie, I had over twenty tabs open, hopping from one to the next trying to solve this problem that was NOT as easy as it should have been.

Thanks be to God, I still have a teen in the house. She took pity on me. I gave her thirty minutes to solve the problem and get this blog back on line or .... confession... I said I would just close down this blog even though technically, it already was.

I have my coffee. My yogurt. The domain is restored. And I am happy.

So...

Let's talk about the good technology that detected temperatures too high for air travel, cancelling flights from Phoenix. Did you know that smaller planes can not get the lift they need when the heat is 118 degrees and above? While those customers were inconvenienced they are alive to tell the story.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Celebrating





It's rare to have post day fall on my birthday. This year it did.

Having a summer birthday had some interesting advantages. All my siblings, and there were several, had fall or winter birthdays. Since my parents didn't have much money, anything expensive for the family was given as a birthday present. Made sense, right? Yep.

So, when summer came and the brood needed an inflatable pool out in the backyard, it appeared as my gift. Too awesome. Well, we all couldn't fit in the smaller pool at one time, but we managed to have a ton of fun.




There was also a few other perks given to the birthday person in our family. The honored one could choose one place to celebrate, pick what was served for the family dinner, and they got out of chores. 

I usually chose to either go miniature golfing with Dad, he always beat me, or have the whole family visit Aunt Betty. She is a funny, make you feel-good-to-be-around-her person. Her personality is one I still aspire to reflect.

Is there one person that God has put in your life, even for a day who impressed you so much you just wanted to be around them, visit them, talk with them, do things with them, hear them laugh, see them smile?

These treasures are reminders for us of God's goodness and what life is like with Him.The closer our relationship is with God, the more we want to be around Him, visit with Him, talk with Him, do things with Him, hear Him laugh (yes, God laughs), smile with Him, etc. because we just have a good and memorable time.

We are blessed.

And today I am so happy to celebrate my birthday with you. Because today you are the special person who reminds me of God's goodness.


Usually I give away books from other authors at this celebration. This time, I want to share with you my first junior fiction book.  It is a mystery, has a spry boy character who has to solve a mystery, and includes veterans.

With summer time coming there are sure to be moments when the kids need something to do while traveling or inside due to weather. Here is an excuse to turn the TV and devices off to read a good story. Join the fun with William Worthington Watkins the III. Great for grandkids, nieces  nephews, etc., too. Prepare to laugh. Only $5.99 in paperback, also available for Kindle.


  

Someone took cookies from the church kitchen platter, and William wanted to know--no, he needed to know who did it. He and Grampa had spent all afternoon making those cookies for the shut-ins and now the plate was half empty. That night, a wounded war veteran living at the home for shut-ins bit into William's cookie then told a story about the guys in his unit. In that story, Willam heard something that glued all the clues together. Themes: truth and forgiveness Juvenile Fiction - Mystery - Humor - Veterans

Hope your day is filled with great weather, fun, laughter and maybe a bit of spunk ;)

This post has been brought to you by the one word-Celebrate