Retired and reading


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The past three days I have gotten out of bed, moved to the couch, and read until the book I had started earlier was finished.  Yesterday’s book was The Christmas Train, by David Baldacci, a sweet little story about a cross-country adventure by train at Christmas.  As such things often happen, this very ordinary train trip ended up being anything but, and the spirit of Christmas prevailed.

Later in the day I started True Blue, also by David Baldacci.  This thriller kept me in suspense right up to the finish, with enough plot twists and turns to make me dizzy.  Whether you admire cops or not, this will keep you engaged.

And somehow I forgot to count the first David Baldacci book I read (several weeks ago), Wish You Well.  David Baldacci is one of my brother-in-law’s favorite authors, and he sent me a box with quite a stack of his novels included.  Wish You Well is the story of two children who go to live with their grandmother in Appalachia, and how they learn to care for each other under overwhelming circumstances.

One more that I read and reviewed, but didn’t count, was Eden’s Outcasts:  The Story of Louisa May Alcott and her Father, by John Matteson.  I read that during the Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge earlier this year, and reviewed it here.

Reading Challenge 2015 book count:  31/50.

Need and generosity


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Last Friday morning several of us from St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Visalia visited Pinkham Elementary School, continuing a tradition that began seven years ago when we began partnering with them.  Each Thanksgiving, as well as each Christmas, St. Paul’s provides several student families with not only enough food for a holiday feast, but staples and ingredients for several additional days’ meals.  It is a treat for us to shop intentionally for these families and then to deliver the food to school for them.

The custodian who was helping us unload the groceries was new to us, and unfamiliar with our routine.  As we were making the last trip from our cars to the teachers’ workroom, he made a comment that really made me think.  “It is too bad there aren’t as many generous people as there are poor people,” he said.

I really think there are.  The difficulty lies in pairing up the generous people with those who need help.  When I am downtown and see a homeless person stretched out in Oval Park, using his or her belongings as a pillow, I can safely assume that person needs help.  But driving past Pinkham School, located in a middle class neighborhood and looking quite prosperous, how would I know that there were hungry children trying to learn in those classrooms?  And yet nearly every teacher knows of at least one family that is hanging on by its fingernails, trying to make ends meet.

It is incumbent upon us to search out people who need our help — not just at the holidays, but all year long.  We don’t individually need to re-invent the wheel; there are agencies who can readily identify those in need, and have systems in place to help people without destroying their privacy.  But we, as individuals and congregations, need to do our parts.

Write out a generous check to FoodLink of Tulare County to help feed the hungry.  Better yet, call them and ask how you can volunteer to sort food or fund raise.  Donate food to Visalia Emergency Aid.  Offer to work in their warehouse during distribution times.  Take part in the Crop Walk Against Hunger in the spring, or the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.  Encourage your house of worship to be involved with the poor in our community, not just in overseas missions.

The need is there.  The generous people are there, too.  We simply need to act.


Kicking back


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Today I have been a slug.  As usual, I awoke several minutes before my alarm was to go off, but this morning instead of letting it go through several snooze cycles and then waking the girls for church, I simply turned it off and let them sleep.

I started reading Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler a week or so ago, a page or two here and there.  Then last night it grabbed hold of me, and I stayed awake too long reading.  It demanded to be finished today, so I moved from my cozy bed to the living room couch and continued reading.  I was totally captivated by this sweet love story, told in alternate chapters by the five main characters who grew up in a small Wisconsin farming community.

I am always pleasantly surprised when a male author gets properly into the head of his female characters, and Butler did this so very well.  My favorite character shifted as the story progressed, and I’m still not sure which one I ultimately loved the most.  But the key to the tale is how much they loved each other — childhood friends, rivals, lovers, buddies, neighbors.

I highly recommend Shotgun Lovesongs.  Give yourself the gift of time to read it. (By the way, it is now after 1:00 p.m. and my Fitbit reads 207 steps.  Definitely slug status.)


Reading progress so far:  27 of 50 towards my 2015 reading challenge.


NaNoWriMo continued


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Yesterday I bemoaned my lack of writing progress for the NaNoWriMo challenge I accepted earlier this month.  The end goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November, and there is a lovely web page where participants can track their progress (if they are making any, that is).

I have really only worked on my novel four days this month (including this morning).  I am living Judith Viorst’s statement that “You can have it all, just not all at the same time.”  I wrote this morning because I was supposed to be working on cards for tonight’s Helping One Woman dinner.  And I think in order to write, I should be “supposed to be” doing something else, which I will put off by writing.

Anyhow, The NaNoWriMo webpage has a progress tracker for writing, based on  the word count I post each day.  And according to their figures, I am in a world of hurt!  My progress goes something like this:

Your average words per day:  270

Words written today:  1271

Target word count:  50,000

Target average words per day:  1667

Total words written:  4599

Words remaining:  45,401

Current day:  17

Days remaining:  14

At this rate you will finish on:  May 4, 2016

Words per day to finish on time:  3243

Lifetime Achievement:  Total NaNoWord Count:  4599

Two statistics on this list really jumped out at me:  “At this rate you will finish on May 4, 2016” and “Lifetime Achievement:   4599”

Not only do I have a ridiculously long way to go, still being 45,401 words short, but I have also written 4599 words more than I had on October 31, 2015.  I may not –no, probably will not — finish 50,000 words by November 30, 2015.  But I have started, and am gaining momentum.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go make some greeting cards for tonight.

Thanksgiving card created for Second Saturday Scrapping workshop last weekend.

Thanksgiving card created for Second Saturday Scrapping workshop last weekend.



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I’m tired!  I didn’t realize until my kids got back from their trip how truly tired I was…and I had forgotten that, when you are responsible for the safety of small ones, you really don’t completely sleep.  But now they are back, the weekend is over, and we are settling into our weekly routine.

I just went through my closet and pulled out the remaining clothes that have become too large (hooray!) for me, and the nicest ones are slated for a consignment store in town.  The rest will go to Rescued Treasures.  I once again have “breathing room” in my closet.

Yesterday’s lovely rainstorm has passed, and the weathermen say we received up to a third of an inch in some areas.  That seems rather puny compared to other areas of the country, where several inches of rain may fall in a single storm, but for central California it is huge.  Thank God for blessed rain!

My writing for NaNoWriMo is pathetically behind, but I am getting back on track today.  No more excuses, no more falling asleep at my computer the moment I sit down.  I’m making progress again.

Whatever projects you have on tap, I wish you progress (or a re-start) today.  Happy Monday!

Home alone


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I’m really beginning to appreciate how precious “alone time” can be.  After having my granddaughters to myself now for three days (minus my time at work, when sweet relatives cared for them), I took them to school, then came home realizing that I had three hours ALL TO MYSELF!

Then, of course, came the conundrum:  Do I hustle around working on projects and/or housekeeping, or do I simply give myself permission to veg?  Or perhaps I should tackle some of the NaNoWriMo writing I have been neglecting?

Not even being in the mood to make a decision, I started the second load of laundry for the day, turned on HGTV (in the living room, so I can only hear it), and sat down to play “catch up” with FaceBook for a bit.  Now a walk is calling me; I generally walk at night after work, after the girls are in bed, but can’t do that with no other adults at home.

By the time I get back from my walk, this load of clothes should be dry and I can start Round #3 of the laundry wars.  What next?  Who knows.

Kudos to those single parents out there who do this on a daily basis.  My heart goes out to you.

Home alone


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Well, Day #1 of Grammy and Girls:  Home Alone, has ended (for the girls, at least) successfully.  They stayed with their cousins while I worked tonight, and had a delightful time.  When I brought them home, we called Mom and Dad to say “goodnight”, and they were asleep less than five minutes after prayers.

I’m thinking about doing the same thing.  Morning came VERY early today, as Georgia and Nick hit the road shortly after 6:00 a.m.  They are safe and off the road in Oregon, and Georgia was raving about how nice everyone was, and how beautiful the country is.

Sweet dreams, weary travelers.



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Today marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month.  And I have accepted the challenge to write a 50,000 word novel this month.  If you do the math, that comes to about 1667 words per day; a far cry from my usual blog postings.  But I’m going to give it a go and see what happens.

I will probably share snippets along the way, but tonight I am bumbling and fumbling to get the whole thing started.  So although I will check in with occasional progress reports, it may be awhile before anything sees the light of day.  Think good thoughts!

My heroes


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Today was to be one of those truly rare days in my life — a Friday that was not a scheduled work day, and with absolutely nothing on my calendar.  I had loose plans to run a few errands and then go antique-shop hunting for Bone China teacups and saucers for next week’s program  on Tea Etiquette.  And somewhere in there I would be taking the girls to and picking them up from school.

Everything changed when I put my key into the ignition, heard one small “beep”, and everything in my Subaru went dead.  We quickly regrouped and Georgia drove everyone to school, then she and I returned for a quiet morning at home.  It was so nice to be able to sit and visit about any and everything under the sun, without time constraints.

After Nick got home from work, he and Georgia quickly jumped my car and it fired right up.  I still had no good reason to venture out, and pretty much forgot about doing anything else.  When my husband-who-lives-across-town called to see whether I had gotten a new battery, I realized I hadn’t even tried to start it again.  When I did, once more a quiet “beep” and then nothing.

So here’s my salute to today’s heroes, as Georgia and Nick went out after the pumpkins were carved and picked up a new battery for my car, then came home and installed it for me…even though his work day comes VERY early in the morning and it was already rather late.  I am so blessed to share my life with them and grateful that they truly “have my back”.

Tomorrow I will be back in the fray of activities, from dance class in the morning with Olivia to closing Olive Garden tomorrow night, and Halloween fun throughout the day.  And my Subaru will be equal to the tasks.

Sweet dreams.

Holiday clash


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Tonight after work I stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up red leggings and a red shirt for Olivia, so that she could be Olivia the Pig for school tomorrow.  I walked right into a holiday clash, as this picture clearly shows:

"Happy Halloween" in the foreground, with a Christmas tree in the background...Thanksgiving was nowhere to be seen!

“Happy Halloween” in the foreground, with a Christmas tree in the background…Thanksgiving was nowhere to be seen!


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