December 13, 2010

Communing with Mother Nature


An Exercise in Stupidity

You can take your pick after you read this entry.

Taking one for the team, I volunteered to venture out to the farm last weekend to check on the chickens and kittens and make sure all was well at the cabin. Normally, this is not noteworthy. But, this weekend, the outside temperature registered a bit low:

Look again.

That is not 38 degrees. There is a little decimal point in there.

It was THREE POINT EIGHT degrees Fahrenheit at 6:00 Sunday morning! (That's -15.6 degrees Celsius for those of you across the pond.) This is significant because we have to come up with our own heat when we're at the farm. The cabin is not insulated.

But, I survived. The wood stove and oil burning heaters did a great job of heating the cabin.

Plus, the inside temperature was balmy:

December 8, 2010

Wanna See Something Obscene? Go Ahead. It's OK.

Good. You're taking the leap and reading on.

Since my children (ages 22, 19, 12, and 9) were young, I have asked my mother and other relatives (you know I mean you, GodCarol) NOT to give them so much at Christmastime. Hubby and I barely get them anything for the holiday because we know that so much is going to pour in from near and far.

Well, Grandma has tried, but she still can't bring herself to give them nothing but her presence on Christmas. GodCarol (our eldest's godmother, hence the name) has not been able to refrain either. I imagine they might have thought that I was being falsely humble.


I was tired of seeing so much nice clothing go to waste.

Which brings us to the obscene part:

This is a receipt from the Goodwill where I recently dropped off 28, count 'em, 28 bags* of items for donation. And mind you, this is not the first time, and, probably not the last, that I've gathered up unused and slightly used clothing and stuffed animals for the Goodwill, but it is by far the largest number.

I admit that I may have had more since my youngest has used all the hand-me-downs that she could and has no one to hand them down to anymore (Deo gratia). And, I admit that I have been in a "get-rid-of-it" mood lately. But still, 28 bags seems obscene to me.

There are two consoling facts about this milestone, however.

One, these things will go to people who can use them. I'm glad of that.

Two, my sis-in-law, who spent the better part of a day helping me go through all of the clothing, was so overwhelmed by it all that she cried out, "I will never give your daughters any kind of clothing ever again!"

Yes! Someone understands!!!

Grandma and GodCarol, you watch out! I may have to subject you to cleaning out the girls' room when you're here!

*These bags were 30-gallon, kitchen garbage-sized bags, not the puny plastic bags one gets at the grocery store.

December 1, 2010

An Irish Blessing

On November 18th, a good man left us. I know he was a good man even though I had never met him.

Arthur Bartholomew McGuire was the 14th of 16 children and he was born on January 3rd, 1926, in rural Nebraska. He married and raised a family. His first born, Erin, is my dear friend. So, when I heard about his passing, I attended his funeral.

I was struck by a number of things.

Estimating roughly, there were close to 1,000 people in attendance. The spirit of the mass was one of Irishness, faith, family, friends, humor, and love. Those Irish seem to have cornered the market on combining these qualities. Dennis, Erin's brother, gave a wonderful eulogy to his Dad. It was filled with laughter and tears, with emphasis on the laughter. "God took Dad's car keys." I learned that Artie was good, kind, funny, and loving. He'd probably agree with the following:

But I know even more about Artie than what I learned at the funeral. I know him through his daughter. She is the kindest person I know. She is a month younger than yours truly, celebrating her birthday just yesterday. In her half century on the planet, I know that she has had plenty of cause to be angry, upset, resentful. Haven't we all? But even in the face of terrible injustice, she has a way of putting a good face on things. She gives everyone the benefit of the doubt. She turns all things with a positive spin. She adds humor to the most difficult of situations. When I imagine her, I cannot picture her without a smile on her face.

Fortunately for thousands of international students over the years, Erin is a teacher. And she is usually their favorite teacher. (I used to compete with her, but haven't been a colleague of hers for some years.) I know because they say so in written evaluations, in person, on Facebook. I counted the birthday wishes on her wall yesterday...a whopping 103! (Sorry to cyberstalk you, Honey.) And I'm sure she had as many more wishes in other venues. And I'm not at all surprised. Her warmth and humor are contagious. Her sincere attention to, and interest in, everyone she meets is boundless. (No, Erin, I am NOT exaggerating.)

I just have to wonder what a different place the world would be if there were more people like Ernie in it.

Happy birthday, Dear Friend. Here's a little blessing for you, who are a blessing to so many! :)

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.