Sunday, December 31, 2017

So Long . . .

The house where I grew up has been torn down.  Grandma and Grandpa Wheat are gone, and I hear their house has been remodeled - modernized.  The pear tree I used to climb is missing from the back yard. No more jars of home-canned pear honey on homemade bread. Downtown Jewell has a gap-toothed smile where I remember a thriving business district.  A grocery store, James Clothing, Callie's Dry Goods, Jewell Variety, Belden's Barber Shop, Stapleton's Cafe, the Legion Hall that held poppy day lunches and UNICEF trick-or-treating, Bartsch's TV repair - when TV's weren't considered disposable - the Lumber Yard, two gas stations, and the mystery of IK's pool hall, where I was never allowed to enter. Two churches are boarded up.  Dr. Plowman's officer is abandoned. Many of the beautiful homes I remember have been demolished or are crumbling.  In some cases new homes have replaced the old, but not always.  

The schools are closed. The lights on the football field are dark and grass grows long and thick on the track.  The outfield of the baseball park is now a residential area. There are no ball games, no rehearsing marching bands, or school floats in the parade.  There is no variety store candy case to browse, no window displays of school jackets and Converse high-tops.  Even the playground equipment is gone - likely considered too dangerous by today's standards.  The tornado took the Tastee Freeze and the "South Place" - the family homestead where I had dreams of a log cabin in my golden years.

There are still touches of the familiar.  The car wash is still in business, but there are no lines of teenagers on a spring day. Ice cream is now served in the post office lobby where I bought air-mail stamps for letters to penpals - long before email - and waited anxiously for a reply.  The park is refurbished - better, but still different.  The bank is in the same location - updated, and without the library and meeting rooms below.  The library has a beautiful new home, but with less atmosphere and without the inescapable eye of Mrs. Kelly.

Most of all my parents are changing.  For that matter, so am I.  Aging, declining, forgetting.  Over the past months while I have been spending extended time in Jewell to help care for Dad, I have been mourning all of this loss.  I'm tired of my childhood being torn down.  I want to cling to my memories; resuscitate them; actually squeeze them so hard in my mind that they come back to life.

But God says, "Forget the former things.  Do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing."  Ironically, even as I mourn this passing of time, I'm ready to put 2017 in the past.  I don't care to dwell there any longer.  Welcome, 2018!  I can't wait to see the "new things" God has in store.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Hard Pressed But Not Crushed

A while back, our son commented that he didn't read my blog anymore because I used to write funny things, but no more.  "Where's the funny, Mom?"  My answer was that he and his sister flew out of the nest and took my "funny fuel".  I was half serious.  When they were home or in college, it was therapeutic for me to take their teen-age challenges and peculiarities and turn them into humor.  However, life doesn't seem to be that funny these days.

  The last few years have seen major changes for us.  We purchased a business, both of our children moved to Kansas City (nearer us - woo hoo!), our son got married, our daughter entered grad school . . . and my parents began to decline.  In our seven empty-nest years, I have made it a priority to "be there" for my adult children - whether they needed a hand at moving, recovering from surgery, throwing a Halloween party for fifty foster-children, or decorating a new home.  I finally have them both within 100 miles, and had plans for frequent visits. 

Then, in June my Dad spent a couple weeks in the hospital due to kidney failure.  Fortunately, he has returned to his home and to moderately good health.  However, the illness and hospital stays advanced his early stages of dementia and he is no longer able to live alone.  My two sisters, who both live less than 20 miles from Dad, handled his care for several months, until it became obvious that he was not going to return to totally independent living.  Assisted living or nursing home care are still a ways in the future, so we now have a rotating care schedule that has me traveling several days a week.   

Mom is slipping, also.  A totally different form of memory loss, but just as difficult in it's own way.  So far, she is able to continue living alone - just a mile away from Dad - with daily visits and assistance from one of her daughters.  My youngest sister has carried most of this load because she is only a few blocks away, but the time is coming when we are all needed to allow her to stay in her home.  

"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."  Exodus 20:12  I feel blessed for the opportunity to honor my parents by caring for them, and try not to look any further down the road.  God is in charge of the length and form of this period of honoring.  In the mean time, I condense my "other" life - home, husband, work, church, children - into the remaining days and try to squeeze in some time for myself.   

The "Sandwich Generation" - pressed between the roles of parent and child.  "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."  2 Corinthians 4:8-9


Sunday, October 22, 2017

And the Winner Is . . .

My apologies - life got in the way and I didn't get the winners of my Dewey's Readathon mini-challenges announced as intended.  But here they are - better late than never:

Readathon Memories Mini-Challenge - the winner is:


Sarah @ Reviews and Readathons

Reading Decades Mini-Challenge - the winner is: 

Tammy @ Mug of Moxie

Reading Decades Bonus Challenge - the winner is:

Maggie Wickham

Congratulations, winners!  I will be in contact to deliver your prize.  Thanks to everyone who entered.  I had so much fun reading through your entries, especially the Decades entries.  It is interesting to see what books have influenced people through the years.

And a special surprise - As expected, the majority of the entrants in the Decades Challenge were born in the 80's or later.  Only three readers began their decades with the 1960's, like me.  So, to honor readers who have been book lovers for 50 years or more, I am offering these three readathoners a $10 gift card from Barnes and Noble.  Congratulations to:

Jill L. @ Jill's Journey's 
Janet Goddell, @jangoodell
K. Olson @ Introspective Yarns

I will be contacting you as well for prize delivery.  If you entered the Reading Decades Mini-Challenge and listed 6 decades or more, and I missed you, please let me know.

Here are the answers to the Bonus round of the Decades challenge.  Readers were asked to identify the six books I chose, based on these clues:

1960's:  A young girl writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends.  When her notebook ends up in the wrong hands, her friends read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she's written about each of them.

1970's:  As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he'll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing.  But as the harsh winter sets in, the idyllic locations feels ever more remote ...and sinister.

1980's:  [This book] takes us back to the dawn of mankind and sweeps us up into the amazing and wonderful world of Ayla.

1990's:  With cats Koko and Yum Yum for company, Qwilleran heads for a cabin owned by a family friend.  Soon Qwill enters into a game of cat and mouse with a killer.  (Identify the series or the specific book.)

2000's:  In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit.  [This book] tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it. 

2010's:  After twelve years of wrestling with the conflicts of retirement, [the main character] realizes he doesn't need a steady job to prove himself.  Then he's given one.  As for what it proves, heaven only knows.  It's life as usual in this small town.  (Identify the series or the specific book.)

The correct answers are:
Harriet, The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
The Shining by Stephen King
The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jane Auel
The Cat Who... Series (Specifically, The Cat Who Played Brahms) by Lillian Jackson Braun
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
The Mitford Series (Specifically, To Be Where You Are) by Jan Karon

Thanks again to everyone who took the time to play along.





Saturday, October 21, 2017

Decades of Reading Mini-Challenge


Hello!  Me again.  Yes, I'm hosting a second mini-challenge.  This time around, we are celebrating our own reading decades.  For this challenge, tell me a book that represents your reading from each decade in which you have been able to read. (Decades on the calendar - 1970's, 1980's, 1990's, etc.)  For some of you, this will only require two or three books.  Since I'm a more "experienced" reader, I need six books. The book can be your favorite, one of a favorite series, a sample of a genre you liked, or whatever you feel describes your reading during that calendar decade.  For example, if you were born in 1984, your reading for the 1980's may be represented by the first book you read alone.  If you were born in 1987, chances are you didn't do any independent reading in the 80's, so you can skip that decade, or you can include a favorite story someone read to you.  For clarification - the book does not have to be published in the specific decade - it just has to be what YOU READ in that decade.


As in my previous challenge (Hour 4 - there's still time to enter, if you haven't) your answer can be in the form of a list, picture, video, poem, interpretive dance, or any other form you choose - as long as you can leave it, or a link to it, in the comments below OR in a Tweet using the hashtag #readingdecades.  

The winner will be drawn randomly at the end of the readathon, so be sure and leave me a way to get a hold of you.   The winner will receive a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card or a $15 credit at Book Depository.  This challenge is open internationally.

AN ADDITIONAL WINNER will be drawn from those who correctly identify the six books I selected to represent my six decades of reading, using the clues below.  The winner will receive the same prize as above, and will also be drawn at the end of the readathon.  Good luck!

1960's:  A young girl writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends.  When her notebook ends up in the wrong hands, her friends read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she's written about each of them.

1970's:  As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he'll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing.  But as the harsh winter sets in, the idyllic locations feels ever more remote ...and sinister.

1980's:  [This book] takes us back to the dawn of mankind and sweeps us up into the amazing and wonderful world of Ayla.

1990's:  With cats Koko and Yum Yum for company, Qwilleran heads for a cabin owned by a family friend.  Soon Qwill enters into a game of cat and mouse with a killer.  (Identify the series or the specific book.)

2000's:  In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit.  [This book] tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it. 

2010's:  After twelve years of wrestling with the conflicts of retirement, [the main character] realizes he doesn't need a steady job to prove himself.  Then he's given one.  As for what it proves, heaven only knows.  It's life as usual in this small town.  (Identify the series or the specific book.)

10 Books in 10 Years

As part of the 10th Anniversary celebration, Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon is hosting a challenge to list one book published in each year since the inception of the readathon (2007-2017) that I would personally recommend.  Some years, I had so many to choose from that it was difficult to narrow down, and some yeTars I had to search for something I could recommend.  But here are some of the best of the past 10 years.


2007 - Still Me by Lisa Genova
2008 - Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
2009 - Under the Dome by Stephen King
2010 - The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard
2011 - Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
2012 - Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
2013 - Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman
2014 - Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
2015 - At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
2016 - The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly
2017 -To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon

Readathon Memories Challenge

Greetings Readathoners!  Welcome to Just One More Thing... for the 8th mini-challenge I've hosted here.  In honor of the 10th anniversary of Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon, your challenge this hour is to do the impossible.  Relax, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes.

All you have to do to enter this mini-challenge is tell me your favorite book.  (I can hear you all groaning.)  I know that is an impossible request so, to make it easier, I've narrowed the field.  Tell me the favorite book you read during each Dewey's Readathon in which you have participated. Please identify by month/season and year.  (Example:  Spring 2011, The Illustrated Tiddlywink Handbook)  For those of you joining us for the first time, just tell me a book you've already completed, or the one you're most looking forward to in the coming hours.  

Answers can be submitted as a simple list, a list with pictures, a video of you giving a synopsis of each book, a poem, interpretive dance --- whatever strikes you.  I ask only that you leave your entry, or a link to your entry, in the comments below, OR Tweet your entry with the hashtag #readathonmemories.

The winner will be drawn at random at the end of the readathon (or as soon after as I wake up) so be sure to leave me a way to find you.  The winner will receive a $15 Barnes and Noble Gift Card or $15 credit at Book Depository.  This challenge is open internationally.

Have fun - and thanks for the memories!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Lord is my Shepherd . . .

Image found on "Think & Let Think" 
Familiar words, but so easy to read or recite without really thinking about the meaning. Since this is one of the few passages of scripture - longer than a verse or two - that I have memorized, I was reciting it in my head the other night when I couldn't sleep.  The idea was to distract my brain from all the things it was pointlessly stewing over, and I was successful.  Instead, my brain began to stew over things like "What kind of table did He prepare before me, and why are my enemies present?"  "Aren't a rod and a staff just sticks?  What's comforting about sticks?"  "This oil on my head - is it some sort of deep conditioning rinse?"   After a long night of pondering these weighty matters, I sat out to dissect the oft-heard phrases and dig out the deeper meaning.  

If you've never used a lexicon in your Bible studies, you are missing a great tool for discovery.  A lexicon is basically a dictionary of the original language in which a book of the bible was written.  By looking up specific words within a verse you can get a clearer meaning than sometimes is obvious from the English translation. There are so many nuances that don't translate well in English.  You can also find where else within the Bible that same word was used and how else it was translated.  It fascinates me, and often surprises me.  If it doesn't fascinate you, well...you've either learned something new about me, or reaffirmed your previous suspicion that I'm a little different.  

I examined the lexicon entries for shepherd, fear, rod, staff, annoint, still waters and several more.  I also read several commentaries written by people much more learned than I.  Combining all that I learned in my research, and a couple things God highlighted just for me, here is my personal translation of the 23rd Psalm:

The Lord is my Shepherd – gentle, kind and sure.  Because He is my caregiver and defender, I have everything!  He makes me stop moving and rest when I need to.  He leads me to a safe, peaceful place and provides refreshing and cleansing.  He makes me whole and ready to serve Him again.  He guides me along the paths to where I can be useful to Him so that He may be glorified.  Even when I wander into a deep, dark valley, I do not need to be afraid, because He stays beside me, to guide and defend me.  His rod corrects my way and keeps me safe.  His staff of grace supports me.  Together they reassure me and give me confidence in His presence.  I feast at His table of abundance, set up specifically for me, in spite of my enemies, who watch in envy, but are powerless to interfere.  He pours out His undeserved blessings on me until my life overflows with them.  God’s goodness and mercy are unending.  I will follow Him gladly and fearlessly, wherever He leads, all the days of my life.  And when that life is ended, I will move to a better world, to dwell in His house forever.