Sunday, November 30, 2014

40 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 22

When my thoughts churn ceaselessly, I am grateful for the distraction of creative activity, the better if coupled with listening to some diverting story, though I will say Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus does little to soothe the soul.  I think I must have missed Titus on my first run through of the Shakespearean canon, because it's so memorably gruesome that it would have left a scar. Good ol' Will's tragedies often conclude with multiple deaths, but this tale is so loaded with rape, murder, deliberate disfugurement, adultery, cannibalism, betrayal and torture that it surpasses all the rest.  Four pairs of sons are killed--two have died before the curtain rises, and on their tomb another two are sacrificed, two more are beheaded on being wrongly accused of murdering their brother-in-law [meanwhile his wife is raped (and her tongue cut out and her hands lopped off) by the last two brothers, who will eventually have their throats slit in retaliation, their blood mixed with their entrails and fed to their mother]. Titus is tricked into chopping off one of his own hands in a futile bid to save his wrongfully accused sons' lives.  He manages to kill the evil queen after he feeds her a pie made of her sons, and knifes her cuckold husband.  Prior to this fatal meal, the revengeful one-handed father kills his tongueless, handless rape survivor daughter, and is himself killed thereafter. Finally, the queen's lover (the father of her bastard child) is half buried in the earth and left to starve to death.  There are only about four major characters that survive when the curtain falls--Titus' brother, son, grandson, and the unfortunate baby of the dead queen and her tortured paramour.  I'm not sure all this bloodshed made me less anxious, but I did get a few more pieces of jewelry made in the meantime. I wish I had another week to prepare for these DC shows!  I don't have nearly enough things made.  I need a massage (and a facelift and liposuction...the only thing I can semi-afford is the massage!).  I am not looking forward to the long drive north on Tuesday, but I am looking forward to seeing many of my DC friends once there.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Unanswered Prayers (Or) 40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Day 21

There's a country song (which I may have referenced before) that contains the line, "sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers," and today I have been considering how "many dangers, toils, and snares" I've either come through or avoided entirely by virtue of the Almighty's not returning an affirmative to some of my cherished wishes or heartfelt entreaties.

There are many fond desires that I have enjoyed being fulfilled in larger  measure that I could have imagined, from chances for travel to glimpses of the weird or beautiful which stun me.  And then there are those moments in which the motto "God is my shield" seems to burn itself into my brain, when I meet a "what if" of the past and find it terrifying in its current aspect, an illustration of how badly off I could have been, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and otherwise, had only my tendencies at the time been permitted to express themselves.

Truly, the lines of my life have fallen in pleasant places.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Dinners (Or) 40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Days 19 & 20

This was my first Facebook birthday, and I was pleased that so many of my real friends and virtual comrades wished me glad tidings on my personal Ruby Anniversary. I, personally, am horrible about remembering birthdays of any except immediate family members, and so rejoice that others were reminded automatically (as I have been about their own important dates).

Mums and Freya (a choir friend from church) and I went to Columbia, SC, on Thursday for my dad's side of the family's Thanksgiving celebration. John had been supposed to come with us, but had been on call all night and had only gotten three hours of sleep by our noon departure time, so we left him to rest. The usual gargantuan potluck included several traditional Greek dishes (spanikopita, lamb, baklava), as well as the standard turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, green beans, and so forth.  I took tiny portions and had still only made it 2/3 of the way through the buffet when my plate was full to overflowing. It was all delicious. Before everyone (about 40 people--at least 15 of the family were elsewhere) launched into the 10+ dessert options, my mother lit the "4" and the "0" candles on the cream cheese frosted cranberry cake she'd made for me and everyone chimed in on "Happy Birthday" with several older relatives later exclaiming that they thought I was much younger. Which of course I am in soul, though not in body!

This morning, Bob called me from "above the Arctic Circle" (a snowbound farm in North Carolina) where he was spending Thanksgiving with his best friend and his family. He wished me a happy birthday and assured me that he was eating well.  My phone then started beeping with a steady chorus of message alerts from my Facebook timeline that would continue for hours, as other folks far and near acknowledged the day.  "Noonish" we went to John's sister's house for a barbecue meal with her family, followed by the lighting of candles on my second, "real" birthday cake, a six-layer rainbow-colored vanilla one with chocolate frosting and sugar lettering.  Yum.

Then I went to the gym to start easing off all the calories I'd accumulated over the two days...

Back home, I made several pieces of jewelry, talked to three friends on the phone for 45 minutes each, applied for two online teaching jobs (history), and was sorting out my mind regarding a surprising (and unsuitable) suitor when my other brother, Nate, called me with a final birthday greeting, nicely bookending the day.

These two days, I praise God for the friends and family he has given me!  They are faithful and fun.  I hope those now afar off will soon be brought near, as I miss them dearly.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Baking, Not Cooking (Or) 40 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 18

I've written before about how much I dislike cooking. Mind you, I love eating, but I'd prefer someone else to do the food prep and I do the washing-up afterwards. Hence, I usually exist on popcorn, steam-in-a-bag veggies, peanut butter apples, and other quickly-assembled one-step dishes. Many male bachelors eat better than I do, and I don't resent this--to each his or her own. But I really do like to bake occasionally, namely sweets in quantity, and this time of year I love to prepare my own specialty, baklava.  It's my contribution to the Greek(ish) side of the family's Thanksgiving potluck.

Baklava is the queen of desserts--it has everything: honey, sugar, spices, nuts and pastry, not to mention a ton of butter. I love it. Baklava is the apple pie of the Mediterranean--you can do all sorts of things to it and it always turns out delicious. Being a Southern Greek, my personal recipe includes pecans. Out of all the kinds I've sampled, I think mine the best, if I do say so myself!

I still can't Photoshop very well--I was trying to blot some distractions from behind my copper mixing bowl, and it came out all choppy.  At any rate, I chopped up pounds and pounds of almonds, walnuts, and pecans, mixing in some demerara and refined sugar, and hefty portions of cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg...

Melted a full pound of butter to brush over the filo leaves (every few layers got a generous sprinkling of spiced-sugared nut mixture)...

Cut the pastry into pieces (I couldn't decide what shape I wanted them, that's why it looks like a drunk with a knife had at the pan--I swear I was sober as a judge!) and stuck a whole clove in the middle of each, then baked it until golden brown...

Poured lemon and orange-infused honey syrup over the hot panful, and extracted a small corner piece for sampling (had to make sure that it was OK to serve, you know). It passed the test (in about three's hard to take a selfie of yourself licking your plate, though).

Today I am grateful that I don't have to cook everyday, and that so many of my friends and family members enjoy doing so instead!  Thank you to all who have served me and others faithfully in the preparation of meals plain and fancy, enduring the tedium of kitchen work, and creating tasty dinners day after day, oftentimes for decades, with many of us taking your considerable efforts for granted. I really appreciate it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Day 17

Well, tomorrow I'm applying for a job back up in the DC area. I've tried for other positions thereabouts and failed, but I cannot just quit making some effort.  Lightning might strike--God knows!

Rain has been falling since Saturday, and a tiny tornado ripped the roof off a storage facility just a block over from the consignment place where I have my booth. I saw some unfortunate renters trying to salvage sodden belongings out of the wreckage of their locker today. I don't think the mini-twister touched anything else besides a single Bradford pear tree near the post office; the tree was lying in the middle of the road, broken in half.  Despite weather delays, Mums and John got safely back from San Diego just an hour ago. I went grocery shopping for them this afternoon--the small print on the bell pepper stickers contradicted the claims in large print on the shelves beneath them...they were not all "product of USA", but the yellow ones were from Canada and the red from Mexico (NAFTA peppers!).

I don't know what to say about the Ferguson mess. I know there are white policemen that unfairly target black Americans (years ago, I blogged about the experience of the husband of my then-boss: while driving his package delivery truck, in his corporate uniform, he found a purse on the street, went to find a policeman to turn it into, and the racist--and terminally stupid...hello, a delivery guy in uniform complete with truck, not a likely suspect for purse-snatching!--white cop acted like the black man was a thief and ransacked his delivery truck!), and this has got to be identified and eradicated. But torching cars and businesses certainly isn't a constructive reaction.  And aren't thousands more innocents killed by fellow civilians than by police?  Where is the outrage and nonstop media attention there?  I realize I've been spared from some negative experiences simply by being born a white female, and developing empathy across racial and cultural lines can be really difficult. Somehow, I would like to contribute to spiritual and social peace and fundamental reconciliation in my own city.

I am thankful that in Jesus we can be one body, even if we come from different backgrounds, speak different languages, suffer from different weaknesses, and display different strengths. I am grateful for pastors who are determined to see the Gospel worked out into everyday living, from bridging ancient racial divides to providing for the poor, all the while keeping clear theology of our desperate need for the redemption and new life that only the Jewish Messiah can give.  We are seriously screwed up without the grace of the Almighty, that's damned sure.

Monday, November 24, 2014

40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Day 16

Several of my friends have given me birthday cards already, and Mums plans two cakes with numerical candles on them (there wouldn't be enough surface area for individual candles, and besides, by the time the last was lit, the first would have burnt level with the icing). Paxifist told me that I'd been milking my "40th" for years, referring to myself (echoing my father's habit) as a "forty year old woman" far in advance of the date. I love birthdays--probably because I'm a narcissist addicted to sweets who loves receiving gifts--and milestone ones like this can offer special opportunities for celebration.  Thanks to all and for all who indulge me thus!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Crisis Management (Or) 40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Day 15

The time between the call to 911 and the arrival of official help seems to stretch into eternity. Every second drags with wait, and bystanders are left anxiously shifting from foot to foot and wringing their hands, straining to hear approaching sirens. Our choir sang in morning church and I left after the offertory in the second service to drive home through the rain to lunch and a much-anticipated semi-sacrosanct Sunday afternoon nap. On the parkway, two stopped vehicles on the shoulder drew my attention to another, further up the wet embankment that was steaming. A small tree was wrapped over it. I pulled off and asked if anyone had called emergency services and if anyone was hurt.  The call had been made, and the involved driver was dizzy but ambulatory. I left when the fire trucks hove in view what seemed like ages--but was actually only a few minutes--later.  I am very grateful that we have a functional 911 system. I also realized that I need to get EMS training. I would like to be useful should I encounter situations like this.

Tonight June and I made it to the first half of the Thanksgiving service (it was in reverse order from normal, so we got to hear the homily) and then came back to my house so she could use my computer and Internet connection for an interview with an overseas organization hiring English teachers.  To my irritation, and her sorrow, the interview basically tanked when the guy asked her what the other half of her double major was in college (one was International Studies), and she told him "Bible" (she went to a Christian university).  You'd have thought she'd said, "The dissemination of bubonic plague."  He didn't even ask her any further technical questions, just ended the interview at  that point.  She was pretty upset, so I suggested watching a movie--the Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Suzanne Collins and the team of actors and technicians that made that movie got so many things right. I love the multiple historical allusions to various coercive imperial systems, from the Romans to the National Socialists to other more recent totalitarian examples. That the designers were wise enough to incorporate Napoleonic and Federal-style furniture (festooned with martial motifs) into the domestic sets was a perfect touch.  And Collins' characters do not emerge from their ordeals psychologically unscathed, but struggle with the emotional aftereffects of their forced violent behavior.  I think it was a good distraction for June, though I'm not sure how much my contextual commentary benefited her--sometimes I feel compelled to lecture, whether my would be audience is interested or not...

Saturday, November 22, 2014

40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Day 14

My Frankenstein's monster of a rug pad is finally sewn together (of scraps cut from the edges of the pad in my bedroom) and in use upstairs. I've cleaned up numerous piles that have been cluttering my house since the day I moved in. I am so grateful to have been unprecedentedly diligent today, and gotten several important items off my "to do" list.

I wrote three more literary agents about Ira's and my book (have yet to hear from any of the previous ten) today and noted with some distress that not only had my annual health insurance payment (more than $3800--it doubled under ObamaCare) posted, so had that for my car insurance (a little less than $400), leaving me, in one costly weekend, $4200 poorer--more than I've earned this year, as a matter of fact.  And, today I got a bill for an X-ray from a doctor's visit in the summer (almost $300).  And I don't qualify for unemployment benefits because I worked in one state while living in a second and have since moved to a third, which requires at least two years' residency of recipients.  Sometimes I think our government is determined to have me end up on the street.  At any rate, I hope that Anita's and my DC area jewelry shows are madly lucrative, or there'll be no way for me to pay my bills next month!

Friday, November 21, 2014

40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Day 13

How grateful to God I am for good health! I've been mostly headache-free since I moved back south, my fingers are all working, I'm in better physical shape than I was (not that it shows externally--my stamina has improved, and I can get through my weekly Refit class without gasping like a landed fish).  Even the cough which had been nagging at me for weeks has subsided.  Physically, I feel positively bouncy!  I know that, willy-nilly, my emotional health would be in a much more fragile state now than it is were I not in such good corporeal trim, and  this makes me even more grateful to the Almighty for this general condition of well-being!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Misery Loves Company; 40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Day 12

It's not that people who are miserable always want other people to be miserable too--the company that the sad crave is often just simple companionship.  I admit to being bummed today--everyone else seems to have a decently-paying, if not indecently-paying job, and I have no idea where to apply next, and Irina's book translation still sits in manuscript form in my Documents folder.  Thanks to the friend who gave me a hug after choir practice this evening.  For a moment, I was less lonely and isolated.

Mums and John are enjoying warm weather and sunshine in San Diego this week (he has a medical meeting).  I am grateful that despite my deplorable employment situation, I need not fear being homeless nor hungry.  And my car, bless its little Honda 6-cylinder engine, is still running like a top. And I've actually finished the pile of paper Christmas ornaments I'd been working on for months:

Decorating the satin-covered balls with ribbon, crystals and sequins are another ornament project, still ongoing...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Day 11

Today, I am grateful my pointer fingertips are sore, not from some sort of schadenfreude but because it means that I am almost done with the pile of paper Christmas ornaments that have been scattered around my house in various stages of completion since early summer!  Bending pins to make hanging loops is not easy on the hands, and snipping them with wire cutters has shot sharp steel bits all over my dining room area (an additional thanksgiving is that I've not stepped, sat or knelt on any this far!).   I look forward to vacuuming up the metal debris and a portion of the gold and silver glitter that has made many horizontal surfaces in my house twinkle madly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Day 10

Winter has arrived in Augusta, GA. Looking out the windows today, the weather was beautiful--clear blue, sunny skies--but setting foot out of doors was a severe shock--hats and gloves mandatory.  The chill kind of took the breath away (I have completely reacclimatized to the warm South, and this blast from the frozen North is a rude reminder of what I must endure in two weeks' time).

My thanksgiving today is for good insulation and central heating. When I was young, I would often fall asleep at night imagining Laura Ingalls Wilder's experiences in The Long Winter, when she and her sisters would shiver their way to bed in rooms where the exposed roof-shingle nails were covered with frost. On my first trip to Russia almost 20 years ago, we were told that the students at the university where we studied left their coats and gloves on indoors during the colder months.  And in the Korean War of 1950-1953, some wounded survived terrible injuries because their blood froze on exposure to the frigid air.  I am glad to be able to sleep where it's cool but not frosty, to not have to wear my coat indoors from November-April, and to not fear exsanguination whatever the weather (well, I hope to see Rachel and the NPV in DC, so I shouldn't celebrate that last just yet!).

Monday, November 17, 2014

40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Day 9

My stepdad loves gardening. He even carefully sprouts and plants avocado pits, though they'll never yield avocados and resemble large plain potted weeds. His backyard is a jungle of camellias, roses, a banana tree (with larval green bananas which never grow more than two inches long), and dozens of other bushes and trees, including a high (approx. 14') leafy hedge around the perimeter.  As a general rule, he resists evening mild pruning, but the other day, he decided that the hedge needed serious trimming (the hope is that it will thicken if trimmed--at thrice the height of the average person, it's become "leggy"). Not a small task, and one one person could only carry out on a limited basis. After lofting an extension pole-clipper ten feet and sawing at the hedgetops for hours, he ran out of energy, and his neck was stiff. This morning, we found out that (unbeknownst to him) several branches had fallen onto the neighbor's pool cabana, which didn't thrill her, so while John was at work, Mums and I went into the thicket to start clearing out the debris (and get that which we could out of the neighbor's way).

The neighbor recently had a new 5' wood privacy fence constructed along her property line, paralleling John's 3.5' chain link fence, which sits eight inches inside. Since the bushes were so thick, there was no way to get a ladder among them, and so I climbed up and stood balanced on the top of John's fence, resting my bum against the wood beyond it and staying remarkably stable for all the yanking of vines and untangling of detached branches I was doing.  I got the greenery down from the heights and Mums hauled it out into piles in the yard. We worked fast for three hours without pausing, and there was only one mishap, when my foot slipped on the wet metal and I landed hard astride the bar above the chainlink. All I could think when I found myself sitting after the fall was, "Well, thank God, I'm not a guy." If I had been, I'd have been in agony for hours--if not days--from the impact.  As it was, I laughed, swung back up on the bar and started yanking down overgrown wisteria again.

Since it would probably be a bit tacky to list "lack of testicles" as my thanksgiving today, I'll go with blessings on the inventors of cut-resistant gloves and safety goggles.  Other than a few scratches around my wrists and a scattering of tiny bruises over my arms, I'm unscathed. I probably will find leaf and twig bits in my hair when I take my shower tonight, however.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Weekend Reflections, 40 Days of Thanksgiving: Days 7 & 8

I am grateful for friends who know that they can invite themselves over to my house of an evening, and for friends who invite me over to their houses on the spur of the moment as well.

Of course, advance invitations are nice, but I am glad to know people who are comfortable enough with me, and with whom I am sufficiently comfortable, to know that if the either of us wants or needs company, or a place to sleep, we can call on the other.

One of my friends came over and spent the night last night, and then another girl invited me to have soup with her after church tonight.

The friends who have hosted me in sickness (surgery recovery) and health, in wealth (ah, the good ol' days, when I had money!) and poverty (letting me stay after I lost my apartment last year), in happy and sad times, are numerous, and I praise God for each and every one.  Thank you for your gifts of hospitality, from couches to futons to beds, from home-cooked dinners to take-out to just letting me raid your fridges. Thank you for letting me stay with you in Chicago, Moscow, Mebane, Rockville, Alexandria, and other spots near and far--I hope you know you are always welcome wherever I am!

Oh, I cut open the largest of my two (unripe) cantaloupes yesterday, as the forecast suggested they might be frozen solid overnight:

Since it did look actually cantaloupish inside, I scooped out the seeds and ate it.

It tasted exactly like cucumber. Cool and refreshing, but not fruity. If I am still around here next year, I am going to plant my cantaloupe seeds much earlier!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Poor Introductions & 40 Days of Thanksgiving: Day 6

This afternoon, I went to a different branch of my local gym, which unlike the others did not have the local WiFi password posted on the wall, so I was forced to peek into the office and ask the manager what it was.  The manager turned out to be a handsome young man, and I only just stopped myself from blurting, "You look familiar. Did I babysit you when you were little?"

Sheesh, I'm getting to that age.

Mums and I went to a series of estate sales this morning.  I got a half-slip, a note pad, a tube of wood filler, and a bottle of spray adhesive (for making glitter stick to the paper Christmas ornaments which are still lying half-finished in the garage).  She got four almost new suitcases (ours are almost worn out), some old tools, a Polish pottery casserole dish, and a scarf. Combined, we spent less than $90.  A decent haul.

Grandmommy fell getting out of a chair a couple of days ago, but realized in time that her ankle wasn't supporting her and managed to angle her descent so she hit the couch rather than the floor.  She's got a sore foot, and some bruises, but is otherwise OK.  It helps that my aunt drove her to Jacksonville, Florida, to be with her newest great-grandbaby right after the incident, so she's been off her feet most of the time since, cuddling him and giving him bottles. I lay awake the other night thinking about ways to make her house handicapped accessible--I am so glad it's not immediately necessary!

Today, I'd grateful for the number of times my other accident-prone family members and I have been spared serious injury (whether self-inflicted or otherwise). A list of all the near-maiming and near-death incidents that we've survived relatively unscathed would be appalling in content and scope.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

40 Days Of Thanksgiving--Day 5

I used to think I had to maintain a spotless spiritual veneer at church. Then, I got hit over the head with the reality of my deficiencies and God's providence, and realized that in the midst of other Christians was the one place where I was truly comfortable letting my hair down. It's gotten to the point where I almost never use bad language except in front of believers (not that I go around cursing like a sailor in Sunday School or anything). But these people know I am fallible, and we share the same Father, and screwed up as I am and they are, by God's grace we are siblings, simultaneously dedicated to loving each other through the rough spots and tough times, and to knowing the Almighty better.  So, my thanksgiving for today is for my church. Not just my home church here in Georgia, but that in Northern VA I attended for 10 years, and for fellow Christians in general. I am so grateful for the people who have prayed for me, gone with me to the hospital, patted my back when I cried from misery, just hung out with me and told stories over long, pun-filled lunches. Even the people in choir who have refrained from obviously cringing when I bungle the contralto notes are ministers of grace!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

40 Days of Thanksgiving--Day 4

Side note: Chairman Mao's son died as a result of an air strike during the Korean War (he was serving as a Russian translator), not the Vietnam War--must remember to clarify this with my ESOL student next week!  The guy didn't know anything about World War I, either. To quote The Magician's Nephew, which some of his schoolmates are reading, "What DO they teach them in these schools?" Little history in China, it seems.

Today, I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to learn and to teach language.  I am so grateful to have studied French and Russian, and Polish and German (though I recall very little of these last two).  Knowing where I tend to mess up, where I've gotten lost in translation, has really helped me to appreciate where non-English speakers tend to get stuck in our language. Our articles are wicked, but at least not gendered like those in French.  Would that we had only to add a past-indicator word to a whole sentence like Mandarin does to indicate tense rather than conjugate a bunch of irritatingly irregular verbs.  One of these days my Chinese vocabulary will extend beyond Shehsheh-ni and Dobochiye.  And there is so much lexical cross-fertilization from English these days, from wholesale lifting of terminology to the "naturalization" of foreign words in pronunciation and spelling.  Explaining roots and relationships between words takes me on an historical tour through Greece, Rome, and terra Franca and Germanica.  I hope that my enthusiasm for language and history will be absorbed by the single Chinese student who remains to me (the Russian lady quit--truly, she didn't need me, just real-world practice), and that he will learn to see a world beyond just basketball and video games!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Day 3

Given that it's Veterans/Armistice Day, I suppose I ought to list such folks as the subjects of my gratitude this evening, and so I'll do, but only indirectly.  I am thankful for my late father and grandfather, both of whom served in the military (Daddy in the Army and Granddaddy in the Navy).  Theirs were more constructive roles than one imagines of the typical military person: Daddy was a doctor and Granddaddy was a machinist, so they were each tasked with keeping things in running order, and continued to pursue such careers in civilian life.  They were both redeemed sinners, and though each struggled with his own demons were observed to be on a heavenward trajectory thanks to the Almighty's intervention in their respective lives.  I am really grateful for their love and care, their examples of faithfulness and diligence, and the positive results of their work observable even these years after their death.

Monday, November 10, 2014

40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Day 2

Dairy products. And sweets. I am thankful that I am neither diabetic (yet) nor lactose intolerant (thus far). Obviously, these things are well down the gratitude list below Grandmommy, but I thought it would be counterproductive to even attempt to order my appreciation (besides, I would not presume to establish a pecking order among my family and friends). So, I'll be alternating between serious and silly as I count up to my birthday and beyond!

I drink an average of more than 100 gallons of skim milk a year; 4000 gallons of milk is a bit less than two full years' worth of production for the average American dairy cow.  I don't like to think how much sugar I consume.  Grandmommy told me that an uncle of hers kept bees, and when he was a boy her youngest brother once ate so much honey in a day that he made himself sick--he never ate honey again for the rest of his life.  I similarly overdosed on sugar when I was 13, but though I no longer eat it plain, this unpleasant experience hasn't kept me from consuming it in all sorts of baked and frozen mediums!

I could celebrate this particular set of thanksgivings by having a cup of hot chocolate before bedtime, but I've already had a shot glass full of candy corn with a pint of milk while writing this post...

Sunday, November 09, 2014

40 Days Of Thanksgiving: Day 1

I was born on Thanksgiving Day, and will celebrate my 40th birthday in just a few weeks.  I had hoped to have a big party, invite all my friends to a feast accompanied by live music and gifts for everybody, and individually recognize all those dear folks who've blessed me with their comradeship thus far, but that grand plan was effectively skuttled by my severe lack of funds (maybe this can be realized if and when I reach the half century mark).  So, what to do?

Forty is a prominent Biblical number, often associated with trial or testing, which in turn is preparation for bigger challenges ahead. For example, the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert between Egypt and the Promised Land before moving into the latter, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting before beginning his earthly ministry, the Flood's rains continued for forty days and nights, Moses stayed on Mount Sinai receiving the Law for 40 days, Goliath taunted the Israelite armies at breakfast and suppertime 40 days before David took up the challenge, the Prophet Elijah traveled 40 days away from the wrath of Jezebel on the strength of divinely-provided food (an awesome MRE).  There've certainly been challenges over my first 40 years, but looking back, I've got a tremendous number of things to be thankful for, and so in honor of my own ruby anniversary,
I want to observe 40 days of counting my blessings.

Today, I am grateful for Grandmommy.  I got to spend the last three days with her, as the two of us drove to Marianna, Florida, to visit her 96-year-old sister in a nursing home there. Grandmommy always looks on the bright side, keeping her eyes on the Whom (God), rather than the why of what can be seriously trying circumstances. She always hopes and perseveres.  She is so cheerful and grateful for even small things, and her attitude and actions add beauty to others' lives on a daily basis.  I love her smile.  I hope I become more and more like her as I grow older!

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Cantaloupes Kaput

Alas, my cantaloupes have been killed just a few weeks short of ripeness.  I went out Monday to check on them and found all but three leaves on the vine withered from freezing. Aargh!

My body chemistry is meantime messed up so that I smell like marigolds.  It beats smelling like garlic, but it's really weird, as I've not been eating anything unusual, except scrambled eggs (three double-yolkers in a single carton of a dozen! Maybe it's due to the mutant eggs...). And it's not doing any good as mosquito-repellant because those have gone for the winter.

I don't want to turn on my heat just yet, and so have been forced to pile more Grandmommy quilts on my bed to keep warm at night. It is delightfully snug, like an inverted version of "the princess and the pea," though, truthfully, one could probably pile rocks on top of the quilt layers and at this point I wouldn't notice anything, they are so thick and comfy.

I am glad my church has a YouTube channel, though it's certainly second-best to making it to services in person...but I slept through both morning and evening the day before yesterday.  In fact, I was conscious for only six hours between Saturday and Monday.  I haven't slept that well in ages.  Maybe it's the stack of quilts--nothing like twenty pounds of cotton pressing you into your mattress  to make for sweet slumbers.

I didn't have a single trick-or-treater come by my house on Halloween! I'd bought a large bag of candy, mostly stuff I don't care for (so I wouldn't be tempted), and now I'm stuck with all of it.  Perhaps I'll put a bowlful in my booth at the consignment mall.  And go to the Walgreens to stock up on the stuff I do like, now at a discount...

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Keeping Frost Off The Cantaloupes

A guy at the gym told me the temperature is to drop to 26 tonight.  I have covered my cantaloupe vine with two ragged towels and a tablecloth, and I pray that it and the two adolescent fruits attached to it survive. One is five inches in diameter and the other is six, and neither is ready to pick for another two weeks. Meteorological scuttlebutt has it getting warm again in a few days. I thought about sticking a tiny heater outside next to my flowerbed, but that seemed a little silly.

Mums and I drove down to south Augusta Thursday, to a swamp by the municipal airport (approx. 6 flights a day--a far cry from Hartsfield), to go bike riding. Perfect sunny, slightly cool, clear weather.  We saw six large (between 6 and 8 feet length overall) alligators sunning themselves next to a fenced pond. They looked fat and self-satisfied, their permanent snaggle-toothed grins leering up at us on the path 20 feet away. This was the first time I'd seen alligators hereabouts.

I've gotten several more rejection letters this week from job applications (no correspondence of any kind from the six literary agents to which I've sent queries regarding the translated manuscript).  And I've gotten a "you're nice, but no dice" phone call from two other places. One said they'd found a more suitable candidate, one was an international recruiter who'd initially been thrilled in print that I wanted to use their services to go overseas as a teacher. Then they'd gotten my full application, that included a nicely-worded personal essay and a formal lesson plan (which took days to complete). Those weren't what sunk me, but instead the two tick marks I'd put in the boxes nect to the "have you ever been treated for an emotional or mental disorder" and "do you currently take any prescription medication?" questions.  They could legally ask this (and my height, weight and age) because it was a foreign government form, not a US one.  I do have (totally managed) OCD, for which I (I joke, "almost obsessively") take medication daily--I even included a signed physician's note to verify these claims.  But it turns out that this particular Southeast Asian government won't accept any candidates who have pharmacologically-neutralized issues like mine. "They won't tell you why you've been rejected," the recruiter told me. " This is a 'dirty little secret' only associated recruiters know."  It was pretty much a kick in the teeth.  Rather than going through the recruiter, then, I submitted my paperwork directly to the government program website. I figured I didn't have anything to lose, and heck, they might as well reject me outright. In the meantime, I have a Sunday evening Skype interview with a recruiter for another country who doesn't anticipate problems, despite my stated psychological issues.  Sheesh.

I've agreed to go up to DC at the beginning of next month to help Anita with a series of holiday shows, both indoor and outdoor. I hope the weather will cooperate and that I'll have a lot of saleable creations to take up with me. Yesterday I spray-painted a huge quantity of paper ornaments silver and another lot gold. Once they are completely gilded, I plan to cover them with glitter and then seal them and attach loops of string so they can be hung up.  I will eventually post pictures of the results and of my sequin and bead embellishment of satin-covered styrofoam balls, some of which have ended up being really lovely!