wocketinmypocket

Looking for the unexpected in the mundane.

Growing Up

The conversation at the supper table was all about what we want to be when we grow up. Of course, the children have no idea what I want to be when I grow up, since they hold the erroneous assumption that I have now reached what I want to be and it’s all downhill from here.

Gregory likes art and books, so he may be looking at a life as a librarian or a teacher. Olivia wants to be a nurse and Rita is dithering between being a doctor or an artist, presumably once one side of her brain gets precedence over the other side. Alex isn’t saying, because he is old enough to know that he will change his mind, most likely. The other children say he will be an engineer or a preacher or an inventor or something leaderish. :) As for Addy, she is earnestly anticipating a career as a peaceful Indian. She also has grand delusions about all the amazing presents she will give us all once she grows up, chests of gold and jewels for the ladies, cars for the boys, anything they want. Given her current circumstances, she had better look for lost pirate hoards when she gets big.

I was struck by something. In my somewhat sheltered childhood, I never mentioned any of the things they said they want to be, because it simply wasn’t done. (Actually, I do remember the librarian dream, because I couldn’t imagine any happier place than surrounded by books.) Higher education wasn’t done. People stayed close to their roots and happily raised families very similar to how they themselves were raised. I think the simplicity tended to an almost idyllic peacefulness. Sometimes I wonder what I would have chosen to study if I would have had the option of going to college. But I was much too conventional to push for anything that would have rocked the boat. It was part of the culture and I didn’t really consider venturing outside of the safety of our world.

Did you ever have a moment when you wondered, “This? This… hard work… is what I spent all that effort growing up for?” And you want to tell the children to just slow down and enjoy their Ranger Rick and Legos and being told what to do and when to go to bed. Not to sound negative, or anything, but there are times when I wish to run from responsibilities, to stop being the tired middle-aged person with all this stuff on her mind and this back log of things that need to be done, the passel of grubby children needing attention.

At those times, I hear this voice in my head, (It might be Elisabeth Elliot or Sally Clarkson or Rachel Jankovic or even Marabel Morgan…) “Stop whining,” it says. “This is life, all this stuff that needs to be done today is life, and you get to live it. What did you want? A useful sojourn in a coffee shop, scrolling through social media and posting gorgeous pictures of your outfit and your new sunglasses?” If I don’t feel sufficiently chastened by this inner voice, I want to be sassy and say, “No, but I would take a cook and a maid so I can at least be lazy over coffee and finish this book.” Then I laugh at myself and set myself to the task of learning to enjoy the things that need to be done. I make it a practice to look into my children’s faces, wash the grime off tenderly, feel the different bone structures, sense the miracle of these little people. And I look for things to laugh about.

Last week our blueberries came, the ones Gabe ordered for containers on the deck. Tophat blueberries, they are called in the catalogs. I called him, excited, and said, “The ‘tow-fat’ blueberries are here!” He was quiet in a Huh? kind of way, then kindly said, “Honey. Those are top-hat blueberries.” The resulting fit of giggles grew into near hysteria. It was precisely what I needed to release some of the stresses I was having a hard time dealing with.

Maybe someday I will be grown up enough that it all comes effortlessly. I hope that when I get big, serving others joyfully will have become my default mode. Raising a family certainly should give us enough practice, not?

I mentioned that I am reading Sally Clarkson’s new book, Own Your Life. I am being challenged to identify sources of chaos in my life, things that divide my heart and make me unthankful, interruptions that I bring upon myself. For this season, it is a very convicting read for me. I am taking it chapter by chapter, searching my heart and letting God’s Spirit speak to me. When I am done with the book, I will do a review. :)

Chin up, my friends. The best is yet to come! Oh yes, it is!

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and now, just for fun… artist unknown.

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Hello, April! Oh Wait, That Was a While Ago

I opted on loading up the children’s bikes for a trail ride/walk this afternoon at Blue Knob instead of collapsing on my bed for a nap. Now that we are back, I have been trying to decide whether to read “Farewell: the Greatest Spy Story of the Twentieth Century” or write. Maybe if I am really efficient, I can do a bit of both. :) Gabe’s shift ends at 9:30 tonight. There should be time before he gets home.

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The weather is just glorious these days. I have real flowers being picked out of my flower beds to put on the window sill! Hallelujah! Our girlies have dragged many of their play things out to the playhouse. Hallelujah again for their room, although not so much for the lawn! When the sun is especially warm they set up camp with blankets and sleeping bags in various places. Rita hauled this slab of moss tenderly down the steep path from the top of the ridge. She is a passionate nature lover, loitering to observe textures and colors after the others have galloped down the trail.

The guys spent a good deal of time outside yesterday, working on a garden shed. Last night they came in with sunburns, and I wished I had just left the cookie dough and gone out to help them. I had asked Alex to make cookies for the weekend, with extras for the freezer. He picked an unfamiliar recipe, one of those ginormous Sugar Cookie recipes that Amish ladies describe as “gma” cookies. Usually he is very efficient and speedily churns out the goodies, but yesterday he stalled and asked me if I would bake them now that the dough is mixed. I was clearing out cobwebs in the bathroom and said, “Yeah, just run outside” without looking at what I was getting into.

I found the Kitchenaid bowl nearly brimful of suspiciously runny cookie dough. Sure enough, the test batch ran out flat, like crepes. I guess the young man had gotten discouraged with trying to incorporate flour into such a full bowl, so I dumped out half, added a cup of flour, did another test batch, still runny, more flour, test batch, finally right. I baked all those, then repeated the adding flour/test batch steps with the second half of runny dough. By the time I had about 8 dozen cookies, I too ran out of stamina and froze the remaining dough. Then I looked at all those flat, flat test cookies and had a lightbulb moment. I would make a light butter cream icing with lemon curd in it for flavoring, then I would make sandwich cookies. All was well that ended well, as Ma Ingalls said so many times. But it took a very long time. When they were wrapped, I felt both satisfied at my brilliant solution for a problem and miffed that the day was half over and I still hadn’t cleaned anything in my house except the cobwebs in the bathroom. At least I would not be watching them all disappear in one day at the “gma”.

I have been making slow but steady inroads on my stores of stuff this past month. There have been books sold on Amazon. (Ouch.) I have cleared out desk drawers and organized old pictures. I have waded through the season change clothing swap for five children, and I survived. (Although I don’t know what I will do if they dig out gloves from the tote one more time.) This week I took my maternity clothes to Goodwill. (I know, I know just what you are thinking. If that happens, I will quickly tell you. :O )My Blessed Big Boy cleared out that freezer I mentioned a while ago, you know the one where the scrapple packs were stuck in ice. He organized it, and now I like to just stand and look in until I remember that I am wasting energy and quickly shut it again.

Of all the things I can already look back and know I did wrong in parenting my oldest, there is one thing I feel blessed to have gotten right, and that was to let the very active, hands-on, please let me try child… try. I tripped over him and his ever present watching chair so often when he was a toddler. I tried hard to bite my tongue when I knew he was going to make a huge mess, and then we would clean up. In retrospect, it was not wisdom on my part so much as a desperation to keep him occupied that led me to involve him in activities that were not really child’s play at all. That, and knowing that if he was right with me, I could see what was happening, even if it was inconvenient to trip all the time. Now I see that he has confidence to try big stuff, really useful stuff. I would stub my toes on that stool by the sink 20 times a day just to have a resident freezer-cleaner-outer.

One of the reasons I was so diligently managing my household stuffs was because my husband applied for a travel nursing job early in the year. The agency accepted him and we started looking online at the posts available, and my panicky feeling of needing to condense and simplify spurred me to action. If he applied to a hospital, we could expect a move within a month, with posts lasting 3 months and then another place. It sounded exciting, paid much better, and looked like an adventure. In idealistic youthful times I used to say we should try to get all our worldly goods into a Conestoga wagon, just to keep from accumulating too much chokey stuff. Well. Our house isn’t much bigger than a Conestoga, (just kidding)  but we do have a lot of stuff that would have to litter the trail.

As is turned out, the logistics of finding short-term housing with a family and a dog, as well as switching health care plans, etc. etc. turned it into not a wise move at this time. We were happy when Gabe found a job at the bigger city hospital just 1/2 hour drive away in Altoona. This is a trauma center, where he hopes to get a lot more experience with trauma, I guess. If you say “crisis” or “trauma” to me, I run the other direction to avoid fainting. He runs toward it. I am much happier not thinking about the internal workings of the pipes and tubes in the body. When he sits beside me on the couch and strokes my wrist, I know he is romantically looking for a good IV vein. Haha.

So, we are planting a garden after all this year, instead of gallivanting across the country. Last week it seemed the soil was about ready so I went to Farm Bureau for pea seeds. Enroute it began to pour and I figured we missed our window of time. I bought them anyway, and found that the road was dry a mile from home. Good old sheltering Black Oak Ridge must have hustled the clouds to the east and north of us. It was a great day to plant since Gabe was home to exercise his super straight row making skills. The children and I dropped seeds as fast as he made the rows and we were done in short order. To celebrate, we had peas from the freezer for supper. I got out enough that everybody could have all they wanted because every year… Every year I do this. I get all happy about planting peas and feel smug when April showers fall on them. Then in June I bend and pick and pick and bend and wonder what is wrong with me and I will never grow peas again. But I do it every year because they are just so good.

Okay, I think it is time to return to the spy story before too much stream-of-consciousness spills out. Happy, happy spring to all!

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The Adventures of Silly Billy

We have a very old fashioned book on our children’s book shelf by that title. I picked it up at a library sale because it had cute illustrations, but every time I read it, I feel offended for Billy’s sake. In fact, the only reason I still have it is because it is so much fun to hear Addy request the “See-yee Bee-yee” story.

It goes something like this: Silly Billy wants to prove how wise he is, so instead of eating his bag of popcorn, he plants it. When he proudly tells his mother about it, she laughs and says, “Silly you are and silly you will be as long as you live.” His father says the same thing when he tried to make his hens drink hot water so they would lay boiled eggs.

Eventually Billy goes on a journey to prove his wisdom and all the people he meets and helps think he is amazingly smart when in fact, they are incredibly dull. He comes home loaded with the gifts they have given him, prompting his parents to change their tune and call him Wise William.

The book ends with Wise William dreaming of a way to get cows to make chocolate milk.

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This week my little girl asked me where her boots were. I knew, of course, and then she wanted to know which front porch. I was reminded of my outrage at Billy’s insensitive parents, yet it is so easy to leave an impression of “how can you be so dim?” even without saying a word. I can spot it a mile away when someone else does this to their child. Oh dear, yes.

It seems I am being tested along these lines a lot. The exasperated parental question, “What were you thinking?” is quite useless, because, sorry, they weren’t thinking.

That includes the little boy who puffed talcum powder in thick clouds in the bathroom because the mushroom plume was so fun to watch. It includes the episode of drawing a huge mural on the kitchen floor with a dry erase marker. In his defense, I had used dry erase markers to divide the floor into sections for different children to wash, but it is a different story when you let it dry. Oh, the scrubbing with scouring powder as the little boy sighed, “I am just always in trouble.”

I had to agree with him, since this came right on the heels of the episode where he had sneaked a bit of ginger ale and failed to close the top of the bottle. When the little sister carried it to me for a taste of her own, I grasped it by the top, lost the whole bottle, and we had fizzy pop all over the kitchen. Oh help and bother. Shades of Silly Billy’s parents came out of my mouth, I fear.

Maybe I should keep the book for myself, to remind me that the stench in the girls’ room emanating from a pillow case full of wild garlic shows persistence and creativity. Or that the syrupy concoction of vanilla and sugar and milk on the counter  with the sign “try me. I am good.” may be a great break though some day.

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Of Dreams and Syrian Refugees

Gregory has discovered a way to wake up when his dream is not to his taste. He says he figured this out one night when he was riding a motorcycle extremely slowly back and forth until he was so bored that he looked for a ravine to plunge into so that he would wake up and quit the dumb dream. I thought it was a good idea, right up there with how I figured out as a child that if I wanted to keep on with a good dream, I could concentrate really hard on falling asleep again and make it play out how I wanted it. :)

Last week I had a nightmare that haunted me for a long time. I don’t usually pay much attention to my dreams, because I have so many of them, and they are mainly bizarre. But this one was so real that I woke up exhausted, like I had been fighting all night instead of sleeping. It seemed, in my dream, that I was fleeing through hostile territory with my children. My husband had died and we were alone, without a safe place to hide. Over and over evil men would approach us and try to snatch one of the children. I cried out repeatedly for help in Jesus’ name, and we would be left alone for a while in our endless wandering. If I could have found a ravine to drive into to make it stop, I would have. In the end we were all chucked over Niagara Falls because we wouldn’t deny our faith.

I struggle to make sense of this sort of thing. Without over-spiritualizing things, I felt like God was saying, “This is really how life is, and this is the fight you put up for your children against evil principalities and powers. You don’t need to be afraid, because you have the power of Jesus, but you need to be aware.”

A few days later I read an article about the struggle and privations that Syrian women refugees endure in their enforced homelessness in Turkey. It was like someone described my nightmare, complete with husbandlessness and evil men snatching the children. Maybe it was a dream to give me empathy so that I pray more. A few days after that I started a book set during the Spanish Inquisition. I am having a major case of story grip. But what is with this sense of deja vu?

Do you take dreams seriously?

Maybe you can tell me about that Niagara Falls bit? :)

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In Which We Take an Excess of Cell Phone Pics on the First Day of Spring

March is adolescent, I think. She doesn’t know yet what she wants to be, so she tries out winter and spring by turns, without any apparent reason. However, she charms us with her possibilities, and we love her. After all, seasons are amazing. The turn of a season has to be a little dramatic to make us properly thankful. I have been switching out snow boots and rubber boots the whole month, depending on the caprices of the weather. Last Monday Olivia and I took our first bike ride of the season, wearing just light jackets. The boys were begging to take the first dip of the year in the pond. That evening they went skiing up at the Knob. For weeks we have been planning to have a First Day of Spring party, only they call it “Back to Spring” which cracks me up.

Addy confided her not-so-secret aspirations to have lemon cake with tulips on top. She had to make sure we all knew since she is “too low” to do it herself. Yesterday Alex spent a few hours in the kitchen, baking goodies. We cleaned the windows and hung our happy flappies.

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Then this morning we awoke to this:

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We decided to make our own sunshine, since clearly, it was the first day of spring on the calendar. First we did school and started the laundry, of course. Always. (Or not.) Then we spent an hour making these, and it was fun, fun.

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As usual, I had a plan that I quickly scrapped and just let them loose with paper and stapler and glue gun. These are not true-to-tutorial  flowers, but I like them anyway.

Of course, everybody was hungry before we got our decor done. I have long ago scrapped exotic food for parties. Instead we just use ordinary stuff and pretty it up, use our fun dishes, and light some candles. Gregory helped me with the food this time. It was the spring party of our dreams, all but the tulips part, but Addy was okay with candies on her cupcakes instead of yellow tulips. :) The little pepper flower in a cucumber pot was her consolation prize.

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And yes, I ate one of those cupcakes. Solidarity is so important in family life, wouldn’t you agree?

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See out the window there? That is snow fuzzing down at an astonishing rate. But it won’t last long. That’s our mantra. This is my favorite kind of snow, the sticky, fairy-world kind. We dug the snow pants out of the box where I had tentatively stored them last week, and we went out to play in it.

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IMG_20150320_132008630_HDR This may be the result of too much Calvin and Hobbes.

Come what may, we know what we know about the calendar, and the dogwood wreath is staying on the door. (But the skis are going to the attic.)

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I Blinked

And here we are at March 12. I am not sure how that happened, but it is a month of life happening at amazing speeds. I love when things start livening up, when the sun puts out actual rays of warmth, and all the water outside turns liquid and starts to trickle to other places. On the last day of snow the children wanted one more sledding party before the great melt began. I did this (on a Saturday morning!!!)

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while they did this.

The thaw… It is such a glorious gift, disguised in a whole lot of mud, of course.

That is what I have been doing, I think. I have been taking care of mud. On the floors, on the coats, the snow boots, the insulated pants, the gloves, the… Well, I don’t mean to bore you. You are doing the same, no doubt. Just yesterday we were planning a little outing to Gabe’s sister’s house while he attended an Emergency Nurses Association meeting. The girls wanted to wear the new butterfly dresses. Rita’s got muddy before lunchtime when she took a little foray into the backyard. She ended up with a full scrub down in the tub, and I found a jumper with tulips on it for her. When it was time to load up the Suburban, the little girls took another (unauthorized) jaunt into the backyard. Addy fell, her dress and sweater became a ruin of brown smear and her face full of remorseful tears. When we got to my sister-in-law’s house, their over-eager puppy jumped up on everybody with muddy paws, so there we were again, but at least we tried.

I have been cleaning the mud on the dog here, too. She still has her crate in the basement to sleep. You know what dogs with silky medium length hair do when they come out of the wet, don’t you? “Oh, oh, oh,” said Jane. “Funny, funny Spot.” Only it isn’t funny when you are responsible to keep a semblance of order and cleanliness.

Speaking of the dog… Remember that research report that my son was laboring over? Well, she snitched it out of his desk and shredded it in an unguarded moment. That was a small earthquake in our household history! I did feel very sorry, seeing as he was on the third draft, with illustrations in his folder and everything neatly compiled, ready for the last draft. I felt so sorry that I told him he wouldn’t have to do it over, on one condition: he wasn’t allowed to storm about it anymore. That brought instant peace to the situation. We won’t have it to impress the evaluator this spring, but the dog ate it and that is that.

Another momentous occasion in recent local history was the felling of the backyard trees. A lot of our trees, both in the yard and the woods, are ash trees, and they are all dying. I am not so tree huggerish when I start seeing limbs falling after every storm and I see the leaves dropping already in July. Disgusting little ash borers. Gabe talked to different experts who all said the same thing. The ash trees will not recover. So. We cut them down. I mourn their 40 to 50 years of growth, all gone to smash in a five minute encounter with a  chain saw.  But. “You have to let them go, Sally Jane.” (And that quote is from Letting Swift River Go, not Dick and Jane. It is a great children’s story that deals with losses and changes.)

So the trees are down and what a tangle that made in the backyard! Rita built nests of sticks and blankets and lived out there for hours in the sunshine. She even got a little sun kissed on her nose. I washed all the blankets and little sleeping bags, and the next day she was at it again, only with a bigger stick pile to hold her off the ground better. I wish I had something she could hatch.

Gabe and the boys spent an entire day hauling firewood and brush out of the yard. While they were at it, the power line guy stopped in to talk about the trees and brush along the road, directly under the power lines. The last time they cleared that out I cried because that was my privacy fence. That was 12 years ago, and I guess I must have grown a bit since then, because I philosophically accepted the inevitable. “You have to let them go.” This one was a silver maple, leaning perilously toward the house in its declining years. I held my breath and prayed while he was sawing it down, but all went according to plan and the deck remained unsmashed.

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And this is how the sky looks, so I am happy.

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To My Friend with the Sweet Smile

You are a very brave person. Life has not been easy for you. In fact, you have faced staggering personal losses. There is often a lingering feeling of abandonment in the face of it all. You don’t understand the how and the why, and privately you ask God because it would be really nice to know.

And yet. Every morning you get up, and you choose to hope and to believe that the best is yet to come. You arm yourself with the fact that Love, though it is inscrutable, is there, holding you, healing you. Then you go out and face the day, smiling. You do things for other people that you have no obligation to do. You choose not to wallow in your right to be miserable, and so you bring cheer and comfort to others.

That smile. I love to see it on your face. But I know that it comes with a very steep price. You show us the reality that things which die will live again, that seeds may be buried in dirt, but they swell with promise and come up alive.

This day I want to honor you and to tell you that I know you are brave. May the sun shine warm on your face today.

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February Recap

It has been fun, and it has gone fast!

It has been bloomin’ cold, and it can’t really go too fast.

I read two books by Alexander McCall Smith, namely “The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection” and “The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon.” These are the Ladies’ Detective Agency series, set in Botswana. Not only do I love the African-ness of them, I enjoy the author’s insight into human nature.

We put in 20 days of school, four weeks of five days each, which was about all this little month could hold. (I was looking at the calendar and remarked, “Well, look at that. February has exactly four weeks in it this year.” Some people in the house thought it a rather blonde comment, but hey, it started on Sunday and ends on Saturday, all tucked in and tidy.) My son in seventh grade is struggling to find the relevance of a research report to his life. He hasn’t connected it yet, but it is coming along, probably about the time the third draft is done.

There are four pots of soil with hopeful seeds in them on my sunniest window sill. We covered them with plastic wrap to make little green houses. Cress, Mother’s tomatoes, Forget-me-nots, and Italian parsley. How is that for an eclectic mix?

We have had lots of skating parties and consumed gallons of tea and hot chocolate.

Yesterday I made my little girls butterfly print dresses. Things are looking brighter.

It has been a good month! Thanks for sharing it with me.

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A Tale of a Little Girl

When we found out we were expecting Rita, whom I call Daisy or Maggie or MARGARITE ELISE by turns, I wasn’t sure I could possibly manage another child. I had still not recovered from the neediness of the first six months of a medically fragile child. Another one? I couldn’t face the prospect. Oh, please, please, please, God, I want a baby, just let her be healthy and happy, please, please, please. I did that for the whole pregnancy.

Rita slid into the world tranquilly, pink and round and undemanding. I fed her on schedule, changed her diaper, she fell serenely asleep on her own, asking for nothing until it was time for her next feeding. I could not get over the marvel of it. She was the perfect baby.

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About the time she became mobile, we realized that God did not give us  just a healthy child; He smiled and gave us the most cheerfully self-reliant little girl He could dream up. When she was two, people actually pitied me. Life got a lot better for me and her both once I settled it in my mind that she was not trying to make things harder for me. She was trying to save me work by doing everything by herself. This included pouring her own milk and spilling the whole gallon. More than once. Then she helped mop the floor and spilled the bucket full of water too. She rarely whined about being hungry. Instead she learned to pry open the refrigerator, get a pack of hotdogs, then slit them open with a knife so she could have a snack. She ate the top tier of a birthday cake in construction and more hidden bars of chocolate than I could keep track of. She walked to the garden and casually picked a pepper for midday gnoshing.

One busy day before she was two, I found her sitting on the big potty. She had decided it was time to be done with diaper nonsense. There was nothing but disdain in her mind for the baby potty, even though she nearly fell into the toilet more than once. She thought she could run her own bath water and wash her own hair with quantities of shampoo. And she most certainly could get dressed by herself! When we told her she was too old for a binky, she sturdily threw it into the trash can and didn’t bother about it anymore.

She visited the neighbors all by herself when she was three, and scared the wits out of me when she put on her life vest and went swimming in the pond. When her hair bothered her, she cut it off, and if the cuffs on her dress were too snug, she cut them off too. She found the Sharpies and drew a bunch of pictures, also decorating my Bible. The child hadn’t heard of limits. Everything I never thought of making rules about, she discovered. More than once I prayed for God to help me keep her alive. It was not malicious, all that busyness, yet I am fairly certain that the majority of my white hairs are courtesy of Rita Who Was Three. The only safe course was to keep her right with me. Out of sight was trouble. But she was unfailingly cheerful and played for hours and hours with sticks and grasses and all the blooms off my rose bush and every single peony bud. To my knowledge, she has never complained of being bored.

When she turned five, she kicked the training wheels on her bike and persistently rode and crashed until she mastered it. She nurtured her own little garden plot and transplanted and watered her flowers to death. Her most favorite creative outlet is fabric scraps and threads. (You should see the unspeakable havoc of my embroidery flosses and my button box.)  “Look what I made,” she grinned, and showed me a pocket she had constructed with calico scraps, threading her needle and knotting it on her own. I never showed her how to sew a seam, but there it was, marching unsteadily up and down.

This morning it was time to clothe the pet ostrich. It has handy dandy wing slits, but she is embarrassed at how the hat turned out. I took a picture anyway because I thought it uncommonly clever.

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The moral of this story… well, there isn’t really a moral. But if you have a little child who is unceasingly, unbelievable busy, running circles around you -the concerned parent- just give it a few years. They will actually make your life easier sooner than you think. Those same clever little fingers getting into every pie will become cleverly useful. She can now wash windows and fold laundry and sweep floors when the right mood hits her. I expect to retire in a few years and let her run the house.

(She likes “Daisy” best.)

 

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Wind in my Sails

It was a Monday morning after a really crazy weekend, this past Monday was. I had been away for two days, came home in time for church, fellowship meal and a Sunday afternoon where I did nothing more constructive than work on a puzzle.

Monday morning was an ocean of things to do, but Gabe was home, so it was less intimidating than it could have been. We hauled hampers full of laundry downstairs so that I could work on that while I wrote out the boys’ assignments for the week. I had to check the work they did while I was gone, so it took all forenoon, with Olivia trotting down to ask questions about her school every quarter hour or so. The little girls cleared the clean dishes out of the dishwasher, but they are no good at loading, so the stack of dirty dishes remained on the counter until lunchtime.

There were leftovers in the fridge, thankfully, but I felt like I was swimming in molasses when it came to making actual progress. Gabe had a lot of errands to run and work at his desk. The house was a wreck.

Then the mail came, and in it was a fat package from a friend that I know mostly from cyberspace.  It contained a lovely, cheerful bag “for putting things in” and a note of equal cheer.

It lifted me right out of the sticky swimming and put me into a boat with wind in my sails.

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Thank you, Carol!

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