Reading and Current Events

I have a message every Friday from Book Bub. I signed up a couple years ago. You tell them your favorite genre and they send you suggestions of books from free to $2 or $3. Their self-description reads: ” BookBub is a free service that helps millions of readers discover books they’ll love while providing publishers and authors with a way to drive sales and find new fans. Upon joining, members receive unbeatable deals selected by our expert editorial team, handpicked recommendations from people they trust, and real-time updates from their favorite authors. BookBub works with all major ebook retailers and devices, and partners with thousands of the industry’s leading publishers and authors to promote their books. BookBub was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.”

So currently I am reading “Light From Distant Stars” a novel by Shawn Smucker. Last night I read “Cohen wonders what it’s like to monitor so closely the mortality of strangers, to watch as death gathers them up, sometimes slowly, stretched out over days or weeks, and sometimes in a moment, before anyone can catch their breath.” As most of you know this virus mortality is taking an enormous toll upon the health care workers. Even the fictional medical TV shows are portraying their difficulties with so many people dying alone with only the health care worker to hold their hand and comfort them in their final time on earth. Yes, they are heros.

Isn’t it interesting that this book published in 2019 about a man’s father dying struck so close to home in Ohio in 2021?

Predictions are that a total 450,000 Americans might die before mid-February. Thank goodness most who are diagnosed have mild symptoms and are not likely to die from Covid-19.

So what is a woman to do? Have not been well for several days. I can’t tell if I have had mild food poisoning and a sinus infection or Covid-19. So this morning I went to get tested (Monday 1-18-21). They did a drive through test. Came to the car and swabbed my throat. When I called my daughter to tell her I was tested (so if it is positive she won’t be surprised) found out her household is not well either. Her husband ran a low grade temperature yesterday and isolated himself. The teenage Grandgirls did not feel well when they went to bed. Being a day off school they were sleeping in as usual. Emily has had Covid, but not feeling well herself. So either we all have sinus infections, or whatever. (Update: one Grandgirl tested positive.)

I have no fever, but our friends in New Mexico tested positive and never had fevers. If my test is positive (2-7 days for results) I might list my symptoms for you. I have not had a combination that screams YES! for Covid-19.

I have five of the above.

Try to stay well! Here are some ideas I have collected about Covid. “Wait it out. Be patient. Try to stay alive.” “What can’t be cured must be endured.”  

Donkey Trail 1990

Stubborn Beast

90-6-25 Donkey Trail ©Molly Lin Dutina

“While traveling on the road of God’s will I hit a dip in the road and got jostled off the path. The dip occurred where the Lord asked me to do something, but fearing His will I inwardly said, “No!” Francis of Assisi was familiar with me when he called himself “Brother Ass.” I locked my knees, dug in my heels and soon resembled a stubborn donkey that must be pushed, pulled and cajoled to be made to move. Blind to my disobedient nature and still pouting before the holy ways of the Lord I decided if He really loved me, we could compromise on another way.

“I stepped onto the Treadmill of Debate, a perpetual conveyor belt going nowhere but in circles. Fearful and resistant to God’s will I asked, “Why?” and presented Him with all of the “What-ifs” and “If Onlys.” I formulated brilliant reasonings for resisting His ways, deluding myself and dropping further and further away from His light.

“Until I accepted His will, relinquished my ideas and gave all things over to Him I could not continue on the adventure of serving God. As usual, when I actually arrived at the point of resistance it turned out to be so unlike what I had imagined might occur, that later I wondered why I was so silly and donkey-like not to yield immediately in trust to Him. My efforts to control led me onto a futile treadmill going Nowhere. God’s mercy urges me to let Him direct my steps and enjoy His fellowship in the Now Here.

“Help me to trust You more, Lord. I want to live present to You in the Here and Now for in this experience alone is my salvation. As I begin to err, thank-you for taking me off the highway and into Your discipline. You truly are “able to keep me from falling and to present me without blemish before the presence of Your glory with rejoicing!” (Jude 24)”

Gratefulness

Every January I try to make English Muffin Bread. It makes terrific toast, and who doesn’t like warm toast in January? With all the purging and packing going on in this house as we prepare to move it has been a challenge to get the bread made!

Thursday we worked on house things. I was getting tired in the late morning, but was determined to mix that bread! I had looked for a CD to inspire us while we were cleaning the pantry and could not find it. As my energy flagged I needed music to spur me on! Finally found the recording I wanted on You Tube music. If you every need a musical motivator try “Hooked on Classics.”

Muffin Bread is one of our son’s favorite foods. Measuring the flour with Mom’s flour scoop, I remembered how much she liked that bright yellow scoop. I think perhaps she got it through Gold Medal Flour? In the 1950s plastic kitchen items were uncommon. I am so grateful to have her flour scoop. It makes me smile.

Meanwhile, Hooked on Classics moved to Liebestraume by Liszt, the only piece of classical music that I remember my Dad liking. I was using a Kitchen Aid mixer. I only bought one a few years ago. (Wish I had owned it when the kids were growing up and I was baking all the time!) I remembered my daughter asking for one on her wedding registry.

Next thing I knew Hooked on Classics was playing the Wagner wedding march! All of these within a few minutes! You see, Hooked on Classics arranges the most memorable portions of classical music and puts those portions to an up tempo beat.

So much gratitude! Fatigue from cleaning the kitchen pantry, because we are going to move to a new house. Our son on an even keel and knowing he would enjoy his muffin bread. Our daughter, Emily’s wedding and stable marriage. My mom’s flour scoop all these years later. My dad’s favorite love song, because that is what Liebestraume means. My wonderful husband who has been working EVERY SINGLE DAY towards packing and cleaning up the holes in the walls and preparing for our move. Occasionally I can talk him into a day off, but not every week.

Before I knew it the bread dough was rising and I was out walking the dog! When was the last time you had an avalanche of gratitude in a short, intense burst? Did you give thanks?

Psalm 107:8-9 (NIV2011)  Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,  for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Psalm 107:8-9 NIV

January Flowers

January is the month to purchase flowers at Kroger’s. They had roses for $10 a dozen. I ordered the color I liked through Click List. They were gorgeous! There is no certainty these days that roses will open in a lovely fashion, or wilt and bend over, or stay frozen in the pose of the bud. These opened gradually and in a remarkable fashion. Especially at $10 a dozen! I also splurged and ordered a bunch of tulips. They did not have the small bunch I ordered, so they queried the proposal that I mighty want to accept the larger bunch in its place. Well, certainly! Especially since they only charged me the smaller bunch price.

The wonderful thing about tulips, once they are cut – they are the only cut flower that continues to grow after being cut. (I think I learned that from a weatherman on TV.) So I made arrangements of the two flowers.

Four days later the arrangements looked rangy. The tulips had grown, as Tim Hedricks told us. So I cut the tulips back and changed the water, letting them bloom on!

Aren’t they sweet? Too bad they have no fragrance!

I liked them so much I bought the two flowers again this week, although in different colors! They are especially soothing as we tear up the house, take down photos and favorite things off the walls getting ready to show this house. We have lived here about 15 years. Last time we moved we had lived there 30 years. Raised two kiddos there. So this is not as emotional as leaving where the babies grew up. We do have some wonderful memories here, though. As I went out to walk Lucky last night I remembered the Peter, Paul and Mary song that started, “This house goes on sale every Wednesday morning And taken off the market in the afternoon.” Written by Tom Jones. Now Taylor, if you read that, it’s just a song! You know we intend to move!

I counted in the bedroom. Bob had about 20 nail holes to patch. And my favorite deep purple wall will need painting according to realtor advice. The realtor wants to meet in about 4 weeks and show the house March 1. Seems too early to me, but we are adamant about a clause that gives us two weeks to move out AFTER we close on the new one.

Glad we did not wait until we were any older to do this! Every evening we are weary and making lists of what else needs to be done. Quite a pandemic distraction!

Oswald Chambers

I have read his book My Utmost for His Highest for many years. This year I bought myself a perpetual page-a-day calendar with his personal prayers entitled Knocking at God’s Door. Here is the prayer for January 11:

Lord, the hilarious simplicity of trust in You seems almost levity until I remember You, and dare not not be glad! Spread joy and gladness all around us this day.

Oswald Chambers

Usually there are things of joy and gladness around me IF I will simply notice. When our children were young, say 1977-1987, we were able to purchase a small vacuum called a “DustBuster.”

A CLASSIC CREATION – – An original 1979 model of the Black & Decker DustBuster (pictured here), as of 1995, is a permanent part of the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., right next to one of Thomas Edison’s first light bulbs and Alexander Graham Bell’s first telephones in the National Museum of American History wing. The handy vac is celebrating its 30th birthday in 2009. (Image courtesy of Black & Decker / NOT for sale via The Times)

Today I learned from Wikipedia: “The design originated from the Apollo space mission, where NASA required a portable, self-contained drill capable of extracting core samples from the lunar surface. Black & Decker was tasked with the job, and developed a computer program to optimize the design of the drill’s motor and ensure minimal power consumption. That computer program led to the development of a cordless miniature vacuum cleaner.”

We got rid of that appliance years ago. Now we are going to build a new home that will have mostly laminate floors that look like wood. I found a good sale at Kohl’s and on the advice of a friend purchased a Eureka vacuum called a Blaze. It has a long handle and a floor attachments which can both be removed to create, yep! a ‘Dustbuster.’ Bob is using it right now as he patches places where we have hung photos frames, sands and paints the patch. No, it is not cordless, but it seems more powerful than the original one we owned.

Wikipedia continues: “By this time, (about 2008) it is estimated that over 100 million “Dustbusters” had been sold. “Dustbuster” has become a genericized trademark for a handheld vacuum cleaner in some parts of the world, due to its success as a design and worldwide recognition.” Just like we call facial tissues, Kleenex, and cotton swabs, Q-tips.

I find it so amusing that over 40 years ago we needed one to clean up after kiddos and now we need one to clean up after ourselves and our hairy dog! Yes, Beagles do SHED!!

Be glad and spread some joy today. Even if the gladness comes from a simple appliance like a Dustbuster!

Comfort

When I was 17 by family of origin blew up. I ended up in Juvenile Court and was made a ward of the state until my 18th birthday, several months later. My mother and stepfather were deemed unfit to finish raising me. I went to live with Becky’s family. She was my friend all through our public school years. Her Dad drove me to high school everyday, with Becky and her brothers. Those mornings Dwight was on his way to teach music at the elementary school where my cousins attended. Her parents attended the same Episcopal church where I attended. They had at least 5 kids and were willing to house me until classes began at University of Cincinnati.

Becky’s mother’s name was Maria. I admired her so very much. She was a tremendous comfort giver without trite sayings or false wisdom. Once when I was upset over the family blow up she drew me into her large kitchen. They had a huge gas range with a drawer on one side.

It might have looked like this.

In the drawer she kept her saltine crackers. They were never stale from humidity because of the pilot light in the range. They also were warm. She sat me down at the table, made some tea and brought out those crackers with jelly. I was comforted by her listening skills, but also by her comfort food.

Maria was a lovely lady of faith and artistry. Her home was a comfort. I saw her many years later with a brace on both wrists. She suffered from arthritis. My heart was saddened by her pain. She assured me the braces helped. I never dreamed then that I too would someday wear a wrist brace.

She told me once how her beloved husband, Dwight, courted her and brought her a bouquet of Sweet Pea flowers. I planted Sweet Peas and was able to take her a bouquet.

I miss her dearly and think of her often. She is one of those women I want to emulate. May God bless her soul and keep her close in heaven. I look forward to seeing her again!

NPR Interview

I rarely comment on politics, but the events of last week hit those of us in the USA very hard. I heard this broadcast on Sunday January 10, 2021. I am only sharing a portion of it with you. I first met Bishop Curry when he was a priest leading an Associates Retreat at the Convent of the Transfiguration. His teaching and preaching deeply impacted my spiritual journey. If you care to listen to or read the full transcript go to https://www.npr.org/2021/01/10/955479453/how-faith-leaders-are-finding-hope-in-dark-times

“And finally today, we wanted to acknowledge that it’s been difficult for many of us to think about the events of this past week without a fair amount of anxiety or anger or confusion about what comes next. Perhaps you’re looking for some words of wisdom or comfort that can be heard above all the shouting. For that, we asked some of the faith leaders who we’ve talked to in the past on this program to share some of their thoughts for the current moment. We’ll start with Bishop Michael Curry presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

“MICHAEL CURRY: Three questions I’m finding helpful in these days of difficulty and hardship for us all. Sometimes it helps to just ask, what hurts? What’s wrong? And in this time of pandemic, it’s helpful to name where the pain is coming from. It’s important for those who are sick or who have died to remember them, to let their memory be a blessing. But then don’t stop there. After you ask what hurts, ask what helps to be better and to be more and to endure, to survive and even to thrive. And then lastly, but not least, what can I do to help? What can I do to be a blessing to somebody else? What hurts, what helps, how can I help – may well make all the difference when we live those questions.”

He ended with ‘when we live those questions.’ Are you willing to ask not only others, but yourself, those questions?

My friend Dianna was married for 60 years to Marvin. He died at home last week, under Hospice Care from cancer. I called Dianna this week to ask how she was doing. She has been his care giver for several years as he was dying. She said she is fine. Many people have called to check in on her, and for that she is grateful. One gal from our church went to her house and put cream on the bottom of her feet. Dianna cannot reach her one foot anymore and the doctor had said that cream would help the discomfort in that foot. Twice she told me, in amazement, about this gal who was willing to do that. I have gone to pick up her grocery order, but have never asked about her feet.

“Words of wisdom or comfort that can be heard above all the shouting.” This morning I remembered there was a prayer about conflict in the Book of Common Prayer. I am all for extemporaneous prayer; however, there are times when a written prayer helps me out.


O God, you have bound us together in a common life. Help us,
in the midst of our struggles for justice and truth, to confront
one another without hatred or bitterness, and to work
together with mutual forbearance and respect; through Jesus
Christ our Lord. Amen.

BCP #28. In Times of Conflict

Forbearance means patient self control; restraint and tolerance. I believe that the laws in our Nation are for the mutual good of the people. Father, stir our hearts to forbearance and respect for one another. Deliver us from the tendency to think violence can solve our problems.

We said repeatedly that the Pandemic brought situations in 2020 that we have never experienced in our lifetime. Most of us know that even with the vaccines, 2021 will bring Pandemic situations we never before imagined such as limiting medical care to patients, running out of oxygen supplies in hospitals, continued deaths. Now the insurrection on the Capitol building has brought another occurrence we never, ever wanted to see in our lifetime. God help us all to draw closer to You and find Your rest.

James 4:8 (NLT2)  Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

James 4:10 (NLT2)  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

Pour Out

There is an old nursery rhyme that with one hand on your hip and the other one extended, you recite, “I’m a little teapot, short and stout; here is my handle, here is my spout. When I get all steamed up then I shout, Tip me over and pour me out.”

Then there is the “adult” version with both hands on your hips, you say, “I’m a little teapot, short and stout; here is my handle, here is my…Oh damn, I’m a sugar bowl!” Bob Dutina’s absolute favorite, recited at least twice a month!!

No tea set is complete without a cup. Ray Bradbury had this sentiment.

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

Ray Bradbury quoted by Gratefulness.org

What is your plan for 2021 regarding “letting the beautiful stuff out?” Or do you have one? When I had two blogs going the other one was called Stand and Tip. I eventually realized that one blog would be better. Here is the poem that inspired me to begin two blogs. Perhaps I Could Ask You Just to Stand and Tip? ©1990 Molly Lin Dutina      

 
 1.
  
 Lily pads at the pond                  
 Grow on stalky stems
 Leaves unfold an opened palm
 Cupped at center point
 Summer shower starts to drop
 Mercurial glistening spheres
 Gathering in the center spot
 ‘til bulbous weight smears silver drops
 Into glistening globs
 And tips the leaves so full
 To pour their contents overboard
 And rising from the spill
 Stately shielded lily-hands
 Begin the cycle once more
  
 Keep my stem flexible, Lord
 My hands open and cupped
 Eager to receive Your all
 Questioning not Your skill
 Only trusting the power of Your love
 To melt my rigid will
  
 Drench me Lord 
 In Your shower of love
 Let me gather and drink my fill
 Then spill over on those around
 And rise to await Your will
  
 Send water of Your Spirit
 To tip me over, pour me out
 Then wash over me once again
 Fresh cleansing by Holy Words
  
                 2. 
  
 Shine Your light through
 This enshrouding mist
 Color me with covenant this:
 Abiding presence and constant love,
 Indwelling grace that conquers sin
 Transfigured rigid I
 Yielded and bent
 In Your   service                                                                                                                                    
 Spilling forth rivers of living water                                                                                                         
 And giving rest to croaky voiced frogs       
 Who, when Spirit-kissed,
 Become priests and kings           
 Singing their praises to You.
  
 Perhaps You ask me just to be Your lily leaf, 
 Stand and tip 

Conundrum of Safe Shopping

So I place my online order and picked up went to get it 2 days later. I get home and my husband says “Wasn’t this buy one get one free?” Yes, those notebooks were on sale and we only got one. So what would you have done with this online order? Would you have ordered two and hoped one was free? Or would you have ordered two and hoped you did not get four? I called the curbside phone number and the person who would decide if I was due another notebook was out to lunch. So, I have one notebook and no definitive answer yet. And the receipt has yet to show up online. Grrr.

Placed online order at another store. Had extra time before my pickup slot. Decided to dust and straighten up the house. Get to the store and realized my coupons were at home on the table. Drats! So I went home, unloaded groceries, ate lunch. Went back to the store. Put on double masks and went in to get my almost $9.00 refund. Came out to the car, washed my hands, took off the masks. It was worth the drive, even with gas and mileage. I am the one who used to cut coupons, wait until they had expired and THEN take the coupons to the store.

I get so frustrated with these safety measures, but so far neither one of us is sick with Covid. We do have colds, but so what? They are not severe or loaded with possible Covid symptoms.

It has been said, “This, too, shall pass.”

Retailers are saying this is the new way of shopping. So much for saving the planet. Some neighbors get Amazon deliveries two and three times a day! Guess I am just an old woman who would like to browse through the grocery store again. Online you cannot raid the markdown bins.

Benefits of Beagle Walking

Remember “Twas the Night Before Christmas?” I know in school we were required to memorize it. Walking the dog in bright moonlight one evening, like Christmas night, I was thinking, “The moon on the crest of the new fallen snow cast shadows like midday from objects below.” I knew it was not the exact verse of the poem which goes “The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.” But OH the shadows from that brilliant moon.

This year one neighbor put up Christmas lights galore which were synchronized with music. It took him a few days to find the volume knob on the music. Every time I would step out with the dog in the evening I was blasted by the joyous chorus of Jingle Bells and other songs 3 houses away. When he finally turned the volume down, it became just pleasant caroling. The winds got the better of him and before Christmas Day most of his display was damaged or taken down.

AND BEST OF ALL!! Walking Lucky at about 2:00 one afternoon I heard them in the distance. Just one at first, but as they got closer multiple voices and YES! flying right over head was a flock of CRANES! I have seen them in New Mexico and we visited the large migration in Nebraska, but OHIO?!?! Turns out they are endangered here but have been making a revival. I did not have a camera or even a phone with me to catch a picture, but below is a photo taken in Nebraska when we went to see the great migration for ourselves.

photo by r m dutina

As you can see, there is no mistaking them for geese or herons as they fly with their necks extended, legs extended and have a huge wingspan. They also are really loud with their calls.

Keep looking for treasures in plain sight! Even when you least expect them. This beagle makes me go outside, even when I am reluctant to leave the warm house!