Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Blessings

There were a lot of blessings this year. Probably more than 2013 of them, but I won't list that many because this is a blog, not War and Peace Part Deux. 

I'm blessed by God. He has surrounded me with people who have taught me a lot this year, and also made me think, laugh, and love much more deeply than I used to!

I'm blessed because we have a house. We also have a mortgage for the first time ever, but it's a true blessing because it isn't like rent- the payment will never go up and when we're done, we'll own this sucker.

I'm blessed with my husband. Fantastic guy that does way too much sometimes- Like paint the kitchen two days before we have more than thirty people over for a party. Or make pies in the wee hours of night (which is about 9:30 pm for us morning people) just because he wants to. 

I'm blessed with my kids. They voice their perspectives often, giving me a lot of my material for my book. I get unlimited hugs and occasional kisses (only on the cheek or forehead from my son, because he's saving himself for his future bride). My son is tall enough now to get the stuff that's too high, and my daughter is flexible enough to get the stuff I drop. 

I'm blessed for family and friends. Some have become both!

I'm blessed by my readers. Your feedback and uplifting comments really make my day, week, month and year!

Have a fantastic New Year- may it be a blessed one!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Down the Home Stretch

It's almost Christmas. 
It's almost New Years. 
And I'm almost ready.

I had many, many goals set for this month. I have achieved one goal, one-half of one goal, and one-tenth of another. Maybe two-thirds of another goal. Let's just say I'm a smidge backlogged.

What was the one achieved goal you ask? I finished my Christmas shopping. I'm usually done by November. I wasn't done until last week.

Some cookies were baked. The ones that were are now half gone and I didn't even eat any! After all, classmates and teachers need to eat too. I still have two mega batches to do, but not anywhere near the one-thousand I usually make. And no, I'm not kidding this time- that's how many I usually make! It's Christmas Eve-Eve, and I'm still baking.

We decorated the living room. The cats de-decorated the living room. We decorated the cats and duct taped their butts to the wall. Okay, the last part isn't true, but I really wanted to do that- but I like the little goobers too much, dang it all. At this rate, we might be finished decorating by New Years.

We're keeping Christmas on the down-low this year. Not a lot of fundage to play with, so keeping it simple is not only the spiritual ideal, it's a necessity- unless we rent the kids out to help others unload their goodies or set up one of those hanging kettle things and hand them bells to ring. 

Other goals are: 

Having the house clean. Fat chance with all the new decorations- I mean cat toys all over the floor. It's a hazard just to walk, no less clean!
Set up for a Christmas Visit Party. Make goodies, bake more, and have something for everyone without going broke. Some people have dietary limitations, so being the hospitality oriented people we are, we'll be serving water from a local spring and organic grass grown in our backyard. It's organic because my son never mowed the whole dang summer.
Fold all the laundry before if topples and kills me. If I don't, the family will come home to find a huge pile of clothing with only my hands and feet sticking out of it- and the cats sleeping on the top.
Not go stark-raving bonkers. So far I've been able to hide my neck twitches by playing Michael Jackson music and pretending it's a dance move when the family is home. 
Finish gift wrapping. This should be done in 3.2 seconds, since everything the kids are getting will fit in one box- all of their dirty laundry they left on their floors throughout the year. And a Christmas Tree scented hanging thing I bought at the car wash to keep the stench at bay. 
Okay, they won't be getting that- but it felt good to write it!

And last, but certainly not least, I'll have my book written by New Years!
Yes, the book is in it's final stages before I send it out to be critiqued, and hopefully ready to send to an interested agent by the end of January. I'm so excited! I won't tell you the title yet, but it's a lot like the Erma Bombeck series of books- funny little stories and my perspectives on life as a woman. By this time next year, I'll be an author!
How do I know this? Because I'm hopeful, and if the agent doesn't take on the book (foolish mortal!) I'll self-publish that sucker. Either way I'm going into print sometime in the near future.
I'm so excited!

But for now there are edits, to make, cookies to bake, and cats to shoo away from decorations and laundry. 

It's the Home Stretch, and when the new Year comes, I'll start it off with a resounding nap!

I hope you have the best Christmas ever! 

Monday, December 16, 2013

When Does The Madness End?!?

In the past two weeks, my incredibly insane (but lovable) husband took on tasks I've been needing for the past year. He finished the renovations of the kitchen (cabinets and shelving), put up shelving in our little office space in the living room, and shelving in my sewing room. In two weeks. 

And yes, we have a lot of books and gadgets that we need shelving all over the house!

Everything was finished up this past week. I am ecstatic!

I was also insanely busy putting stuff away in my new cabinets and shelves- and I'm still not done!

Now I have a clutter-free kitchen because (almost) all the big gadgets are on the shelves and not the counters- including a deli slicer, mixer, food processor and the rice cooker. The cabinets are filled with all of the boxes, bags and baking ingredients that have been littering the counters forever. 

And yes, I really do use those items a lot in my kitchen. Especially after I found out I can cook barley in the rice cooker- we have a ton of it!

I can now put away all of my books in the sewing room (which is a lot, since he had to fix the first set of shelving after I put too many books on it and broke the dang thing) ), and the counters are becoming clutter- free for cutting fabric and unfinished crafting projects.

The office space now has room for me to put things where I need them without them falling off the desk (with the cats' help) in piles!

When will the madness end?!?

Having jobs like this finished and implemented feels a lot like that first spring day, when you open the door, looking at the sunny brightness, hands on hips as you take your first deep breath of warm fresh air. Ah, what a great feeling! A very nice pick-me-up right before the Christmas chaos.

The best part? Now I have room for bake Christmas breads and cookies!

Wait a second....maybe there was a method to his madness after all? Hmm....

Monday, December 9, 2013

Had It, Lost It

I was a reasonably sane person before I was married.

I was still fairly reasonable before the children.

Now I am totally insane.

The good kind of sane, not the kind that sends you to the loony bin in those snappy looking white shirts with the long, lockable sleeves.

I used to be punctual. Now I'm a raving lunatic convinced that the space/time continuum is out to get me, and that my husband and kids were put on this earth to make me late for everything. And now that I'm older, my own body betrays me with last minute potty stops.

I used to be organized. Sort of. Let's just say I knew what stuff was in what pile. Now I'm dealing with people who have no clue how to put back scissors, tape, or my favorite pen, and don't have an inking of it's current place of residence.

I used to be able to sleep. You know, the kind of deep sleep that couldn't be roused by an earthquake. Now that i have kids, if I can't hear them breathing from the other side of the house, I wake up in a panic. 
Any slight noise (including 'nightly noxious emissions of a gaseous nature') will rouse me, wondering if an ax murderer came into the house- and if I should tell my husband to go check whilst armed in his tidy-whiteys.

Yeah- that will scare off an ax murderer- especially if my husband hasn't had his 'nightly noxious emissions' yet.

I used to be able to eat. Okay, I can still eat (quite a lot, actually), but it's what I eat and how I eat that's changed. No more leisurely munching on breakfast and reading a book; I have a husband and kids now, and my morning is spent cooking breakfast, making twenty-thirds for my son, and then sitting down to a meal of cold eggs and warm iced tea.
Either that or I have to forage for something I can wolf down in 2.3 seconds, because some emergency came up- or my husband made family plans that require us to be up on a Saturday at the crack of dark.

I used to have a schedule. I still do (sort of), but now there is a lot more space for scribbling out and rewriting stuff because the family doesn't tell me anything until the last minute. Like half-days at school, overtime at work, and certain people inviting fifteen-hundred friends over for dinner- and all I have is a brick of cheese and two eggs. Oh, and they'll be here in fifteen minutes.

I used to have a clean house. Now I have a 'drop zone' of school bags, work belts and totes filled with church sheet music littering my recently cleaned floor. Off come the shoes and socks, scattered liberally about the living room like confetti at a wedding as they head for the nice clean kitchen to get a very messy snack.
Coats never go in the closet- they are now re-purposed furniture coverings that the cats also deem as 'their new favorite sleeping spot'- and therefore irremovable because these little animals have the ability to become liquid and refuse to get off of them. Cats also contribute their fur to help insulate the rugs and furniture, and the only way to remove it is through a paint roller covered in double-sided duct tape. Or burn the house down. 

So why does all of this come to the self-diagnosis that I'm insane? Because I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love these messy people that make me late. I love the cats and their purrs- even as they steal my food right out of my fingers. Who else but an insane person would put up with all that- and still be happy?

Okay, not always happy when in the middle of it, but when I get a chance to breathe....you get the idea.

I had it, I lost it, and yet....I've still got it- and it's better than ever!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holiday Planning For Those With No Cents

It's happened to all of us.

Just last week it was spring, and now we're smack dab into November- otherwise known as The Holiday Panic Attack.

You look at your bank account and the computer laughs at you. You have enough left after bills to get 30 minutes on a parking meter, but not enough to actually buy anything. So here are a few hints and tips to help get you through The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (other than Back to School Days):

Christmas gifts:

What can you re-gift? Look around your house for things that you no longer need or want but can serve as a great gift for someone else. That old ceramic dish with the chip you used for nuts would be perfect for Aunt Methuselah's new ashtray (the chip serving as the holder for the 'cancer sticks' she uses). 
What about that ceramic owl Granny Gertie gave you eons ago? It would be perfect for your cousin's new house in the boonies! Wasn't she having trouble with birds in her garden? Just drill a few holes in that sucker and add some sturdy rope, and you have a great gift!
Or if you're a crafter, take a look at all the stuff you haven't used in a while. Pom-poms can be made into art nouveau- ever see that painting with all the dots? Same theory, different material- and it's soft too!

As for the kids? Collect their dirty clothes they were supposed to wash weeks ago, wash and fold them, then wrap them. Won't they be surprised Christmas morning!

Christmas baking:

Bake from Scratch if possible. Homemade cookies are cheaper to make from scratch than those store-bought rolls of dough, so let's see if you have enough ingredients. You can always improvise with cake mix, pancake batter or biscuit mix, as long as you have something sweet to add, like small candies (leftover from Halloween), jimmies (or sprinkles), or chocolate chips. Or take a hammer to the fun sized Hershey bars- whatever works! 
Do you already have store-bought cookies? Great! Make a lightly sweet frosting made with cream cheese and heavy cream to put in between two cookies and let them sit in the fridge overnight. The cookies will be soft, and no one will know the better (especially if the cookies were a little stale)!

Christmas dinner:

Have a freezer potluck. Those that insist on coming over must bring something, and you spend the day before the event clearing out your freezer and defrosting. 
The best thing about potlucks is that anything can be served- including BBQ ribs, hamburgers, and those chicken nuggets that were on Manager's Special. 
Have everything 'casual'- that means paper plates and plastic forks- so you don't have any clean up and no one will know you're on your last ounce of dish soap. 
Have someone bring something to drink or make a gallon of 'Christmas celebration tea' with all of your odd tea bags. Feel free to spike it with any leftover alcohol for after dinner.

Do all of these things and you'll not have to spend a dime- and still make everyone happy!*

*writer's note- this post is purely satire- though when in desperation I have considered doing some of these for just me, my husband and the kids! ;P

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dream or Vision?

I was asleep.

The world was covered in clouds, and as I listened to the news on the radio, people were beginning to panic for the lack of sunlight. If this kept up, how could we grow food? Famine was eminent.

There I was in my bedroom, contemplating ways to punch a hole in the clouds. Helicopters with large swatches of fabric? Huge fans? I was laying in bed wondering when I felt something in the room and sat up, looking towards the ceiling.

A pair of huge corporeal hands reached down for me, taking my hand in both of His, lifting me towards the ceiling. I felt my spirit lift from my body as He brought me towards Him, like a daughter to her Daddy.

I'd always wondered what I would really do if the Second Coming happened in my lifetime. Would He even take me? Would I be begging Him to forgive me? Would I be frightened of his wrath? I could definitely picture myself reacting like Hercules when Zeus first appeared to him in the Disney movie! As a Christian, I should have been sure that I would go to heaven, but you never really knew until the day came...right? After all, we're all sinners- and though I'm not the worst of the lot (at least I hope not), I'm certainly not the cream of the crop either!

As He lifted me to the ceiling, all I could see was a ghostly pair of arms and hands, not His face. Yet I knew it was Him. God came for me.

A floodgate of relief and gratefulness made me cry out only one thing. "Thank You Jesus...Thank You." Tears came unbidden; I choked back a sob as I headed for the ceiling, and to Glory. I was going home.

Or so I thought.

Just as I'd reached the corner of the ceiling (and wondering what it would be like to actually go through a wall), I felt my spirit pull back gently back into my body as I began to wake up, my heart racing from the experience, tears wetting my pillow. I woke up elated, yet a little disappointed that it wasn't real. Or was it a hint of what was to come? I got up to write this post, my heart still thumping as if I had just been running.

My heart is still racing as I write this at nearly three o'clock in the morning. I have to keep wiping away tears so I can type!

I've had visions in the past, so I know the difference between visions and dreams. This was no dream.

There is excitement, joy, immense gratefulness and a peace in me that didn't exist before. I hope that it stays in my heart until He calls me again. I know He will call me. He just assured me of that.

And I will answer. With open arms.

Thank You, Jesus. Thank You.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Perimenopausal Perks and Perils

As I sit here in a puddle of my own perspiration, I decided to look into the possibility that I might be perimenopausal. Maybe. Let's take a look at the list and address these issues shall we? Maybe this will explain your own symptoms (if you have any):

1. Hot flashes, hot flushes, night sweats and/or cold flashes, clammy feeling. Ah yes, the 'I'm hot- I'm cold' thing that usually happens in the middle of the night. Hot flashes in the winter are great! Everyone cuddles up to you, and you now possess the ability to roast marshmallows and hot dogs over your head. You are your own self-sustaining heat source, and can keep tropical fish without needing a heater for the tank.
As for the cold flashes, they only happen in winter- never in summer like it should. 
2. Irregular heart beat. This only happens when there's a really good sale and you have a coupon or the kids do something particularly stupid. Not sure this one is even a symptom!

3. Irritability. No! Really? If this is true, I've been perimenopausal for decades

4. Mood swings, sudden tears. I thought this was PMS- or motherhood. Or because the kids ate the last Hershey bar.
5. Trouble sleeping through the night (with or without night sweats). Wow, this one's a shocker. Hot and cold flashes and sweating like a racehorse in addition to heart palpitations- and we might have trouble sleeping? Who wrote this stuff anyway?

6. Irregular periods; shorter, lighter periods; heavier periods, flooding; phantom periods, shorter cycles, longer cycles. Way to cover your own butt, Mr. Medical Advice Guy. Why not just say you have no idea what will happen and leave it at that?
7. Loss of libido and vaginal dryness. Seems to me these are linked, and not separate symptoms at all.

8. Crashing fatigue. Otherwise known as 'The Kids Are Grown And Now You Can Sleep'. This isn't a symptom, it's a blessing!

9. Anxiety, feeling ill at ease, dread, apprehension, doom. Of course you have this! The kids are grown and making their own mistakes decisions! Duh.
10. Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, mental confusion. You've just gone from being the hub of the team and now that team is becoming self-sustaining- therefore you are no longer a multi-tasker. So when you're doing only one thing at a time, you keep thinking you should be doing five other things as well, and it feels weird.
11. Disturbing memory lapses. How can they be disturbing if I don't remember them? This also might be a blessing to some who are tired of remembering stuff- and the main reason people invent schedule apps.

12. Incontinence, especially upon sneezing, laughing; urge incontinence. And this is different since puberty...how? And urge incontinence- what the heck is that? Oh I know- it's when you just get to the bathroom and right before you get your skivvies down your bladder yells "Oh boy! A toilet!" and you yank everything down quickly before you soak the stall.
13. Itchy, crawly skin. This isn't a symptom- this is from all that sweating you did back in #1. Get a shower, you'll feel better.

14. Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons, increased tension in muscles. Especially when you kick off your shoes at your husband from symptom #3 and mess up your ACL. Don't ask me how I know this.
15. Breast tenderness. Again, we've had this since puberty, Mr. Medical Guy. Sheesh.
16. Headache change: increase or decrease. Yes, but is the decrease from lack of kids and an increase when your husband retires, or is Mr. Medical Guy covering his medicinal butt again?

17. Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea. In other words, SBD's that can kill a rhino in full charge. Gastrointestinal distress my Aunt Fanny. This stuff should be used by the army- there would be no wars.
18. Sudden bouts of bloat. Sudden? I've been waiting for my bloat to stop for twenty years! There is no 'bout'- it comes and it stays!

19. Depression. You have all this stuff above happening, and then they say you might get depressed? Are they kidding? 

20. Exacerbation of existing conditions. Really? This is a symptom? All this means is everything listed can get worse. Whoop-dee-stinkin'-doo. Stop using the fancy words to sugar-coat the wonderfulness of female anatomy please. We all know things are probably going to get worse, because out bodies are giving in to gravity, thank you very much.

21. Increase in allergies. Which makes #12 even more special.

22. Weight gain. Oh please, don't get me started. I can blink and gain weight- I don't need to be perimenopausal! 

23. Hair loss or thinning, head, pubic, or whole body; increase in facial hair. Already losing a little hair on the top of my head- lucky for me my hair is curly and I don't have to do comb-overs. However, I'll worry about facial hair when my nieces and nephews start calling me 'Uncle' Beth. As for the 'carpeting', that can go bald as a cueball for all I care- less stuff to get caught in the elastic of my Depends.

24. Dizziness, vertigo, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance. I think this is only from the shock that after caring for your kids for the past few decades, you realize you have no money left in the bank and you have to go back to work.
25. Changes in body odor. Why does this never sound like a good thing? 

26. Electric shock sensation under the skin and in the head. That's just the tracking microchip your kids installed in the back of your neck after you got lost the first time. You weren't lost- we were just taking a vacation without the kids!

27. Tingling in the extremities. That's just your husband getting frisky. Feel free to smack him with a pillow so you can go back to sleep.

28. Gum problems, increased bleeding. What does this have to do with the ending of egg production? You stop bleeding in one area and have to bleed somewhere else? Crazy!

29. Burning tongue, burning roof of mouth, bad taste in mouth, change in breath odor. You just ate a jalapeno burrito with extra onions and Limburger cheese because your taste-buds are dying. Duh.

30. Osteoporosis (after several years)- Changes in fingernails: softer, crack or break easier. I can bend mine now, and this is supposed to get worse? Maybe if I let them grow long enough I can turn them into origami art and sell them on Ebay. The fingernails, not my bones. Apparently my bones will be so riddled with holes, future cultures will use them as flutes. I shall live in infamy.

31. Tinnitus: ringing in ears, bells, 'whooshing,' buzzing etc. You forgot you left food in the microwave. go get it and shut the door. Problem solved.

That's the list, and frankly, that's enough for me to crawl under the covers (unless I'm having a hot flash) and scarf down all the chocolate in the house until it's over. Unfortunately that could be years from now, so I have to plod on and act like I'm not on a hormonal roller coaster heading for the looney-bin.

Lord help us all.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

God's Imponderables

There are some concepts about God we humans just can't fathom.

I think He does it on purpose!

Why make the flea? Does it really have a purpose? It invades your pets and homes, sucks blood and makes itchy red bumps, then falls off to make eggs and more little parasitic babies. But why? Or did He make them after the Fall of Man to show us the error of our ways?

What about the avocado? Did He really have to make the pit so big? Why not just make a smaller...whatever-it-is so the seed wasn't so huge? And just what the heck is an avocado anyway? It is a spreadable fruit, a slimy vegetable , or just some form of plant butter? No matter how you slice it, it's just weird.

Let's not leave out the animal kingdom! The platypus has to be the strangest animal ever. Mammal that lays eggs, has a duck bill and a beaver's tail. Methinks God did this just to mess with Darwin's mind, just when the scientist thought he had God down to a formula. Okay, I can't really blame Him for this one- and it just goes to show you that God does have a sense of humor!

The anglerfish (that really scary/ugly/weird fish in Finding Nemo)- why did God make that thing? Was it to help catch prey? The little fishies see the pretty light, then when they finally see the anglerfish's face, they're shocked into immobility for easier consumption. Maybe the prey gets to think 'Man, is that thing uuuugly!' before it meets it's demise, but  the ending is the same- though I have to admit, God did the right thing in putting that critter in the deepest, darkest part of the ocean.

And what about us? Science says we're only using 10% of our brains. Why? Maybe Adam and Eve had the full capacity of their brains. Of course if they did, we might not be in the mess we are now. But then again, maybe they did, and because they chose not to utilize their grey matter, God said 'Let there be stupidity' and took most of their brains away from them until the Second Coming.

Unfortunately, we'd have to wait for the Second Coming to get these answers. Everything in God's time you know.

Do you have any imponderables about why God made what He made? I'd love to hear them!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Milking Chickens

There are just some things I'm not suited to do, no matter how hard I try.

I write. I write about everything under the sun. I write family fun, chaotic adventures, children's stories, craft how-to's and epic fantasies. But that doesn't mean I should be writing about all of them.

I'm like a chicken that wants to give milk. She can try again and again, but all she'll get for her efforts is an egg. That's because she wasn't meant to give milk, even though she wants to.

So it is in writing. I've been told I have a gift for quick and witty satire, funny poetry, and poignant blog posts (at least on occasion!) I'm good at the short stuff- not the long convoluted plots of epic fantasy novels, or memoirs. 

Let's use the recent awards ceremony as an example. What did I win first place in? The short stuff. I won third place for children's story- the only project that took several rewrites before I considered it 'polished', yet it still isn't ready for publication! Even when I do write the short stuff, people find it funnier in the telling than the reading- One agent said 'Your writing is better suited for stand-up' and after the initial shock, I think she might be right- at least in part.

So I had to go back to basics. What was I was made for anyway? I was made to make people laugh. When I see someone looking sad (or just plain stubborn), my goal is to make them guffaw, chuckle, or at least crack a smile. Belly laughs make my day, and God has gifted me with enough bluntness and ironic truth in my humor to make people think afterwards.

I'm the chicken who wants to give milk, but knows better.

Oh I'll still work on some of that writing to hone my skills as a hobby, but my focus will be on what I do well. Even a series of short 'bloggish' type stories can make an excellent book, so that's what I'll work on. Other projects can wait and be used to sharpen my beak.

And be proud that I can lay some pretty decent eggs when I have to!

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Reverse Dalmatian?!?

It all started with a haircut.

I needed one. Desperately. But I' a mom, so I usually wait until I look like a curly 'Cousin It' before I go- just to make sure the money is worth it.

My husband had other ideas. 

He didn't want me to look like the Shaggy D.A. for an upcoming writer's conference. He wanted me to actually look nice. So he made me an appointment at a new salon instead of the cheapo one I usually go to- and hate. 

Why do I go to a salon I hate? Because the price is right. I just hold off going because I know their idea of 'trim' is my idea of 'bald'. Since I have hypothyroidism, my hair (at least in the back) grows slower than the I.Q. points of Congress. Yet the front grows really fast, hence the 'Cousin It' persona. I was seriously thinking of doing a comb-back; like a comb-over for guys but mine would be brushed back like Lady Godiva to hide the fact that the back of my head was a complete mess.

Reluctantly I went into the salon, expecting to look like a shorn sheep. An expensive shorn sheep.

After making everyone in the salon laugh (it's good to make the people in charge of your hair happy), I asked with a smile if she knew what I meant by 'trim' vs. 'trimming the dead ends.' This is a trick question! But she answered (and showed me via my own hair) just how much a trim was- less than a quarter of an inch. As for the dead ends? 'Oh, you don't need to worry 'bout that- the trim will take care of the dead ends.' she said.

Finally- someone who understood me!

I relaxed a little and let her do her magic.

My hair is naturally curly. it's also not dyed. I don't like messing with it for fear of it falling out from all those treatments. If I was going to go gray, I wanted it to just happen gradually.

At least until I saw my first flash of platinum reflected off of the salon lights. Twice.

As she cut my hair I noticed a small blaze right in the front and center of my forehead- and another tendril on the right side, in the dead center. Not a scattering of hairs, mind you, but a single curl in the front and side of my head.

I had gray spots!

If I wasn't gasping in shock, I'd have thought it was kind of pretty. It was almost platinum-blondish type white (which is cool) instead of that dull kind of white reserved for zombies. But they showed up in spots- not gradually.

Dear Lord, I'm a reverse Dalmatian! 

I wondered if maybe shaving my head would be considered the new 'sexy' for women. Probably not. I couldn't even get those tendrils cut, because I'd have holes in my head! Oh why, why, why couldn't they just scatter all over my noggin instead of gathering in one spot like old ladies to a Bingo hall?

At this point, I'm still not going to dye my hair. It's still curly and fluffy, and the hair-dresser did a great job on it! I'll be going back to her until I die.  

As for the spots? I'll have to get used to them- but at least it makes good fodder for writing!

Monday, October 21, 2013

And The Winner Is...ME?!?

Color me flabbergasted. 

I attended the West Branch Writer's Conference in Jersey Shore PA (try to write that address in the GPS without confusion!) It was fantastic, and I made a lot of new friends as well as contacts. 

It was the closing ceremony that was truly the whipped cream icing on the dark chocolate cake for me though- I'd forgotten that I'd entered several of the writing contests weeks before.

I was happily going over my paperwork and plethora of business cards when I heard the announcement.

"And the first place winner for the Blog Post contest is...When Superman Cannot Fly!"

My ears perked at the familiar title. Tears sprang to my eyes as they read the post I'd written just two days after my husband's accident just over a year ago. It was really hard not to let those tears flow. But many other writers did cry. 

"This award goes to...Beth Brubaker!" Applause as I stood up (still not crying) and sat down again. But Nooo...they wanted me to go up front and get my award. A sob escaped me. "You people are going to mess up my makeup!" making many giggle as I limped to the front (yes, my knee is still a bit wonky). I also got to pick a free book from a selection as my prize.

I made my way back to my seat when they announced the next set of awards. "Third place award for Children's Story is....Four Pigs Planting by Beth Brubaker!"

I stopped. What? I won again? I looked at the announcer, still not sure, and she grinned at me- I turned right around and accepted my second award- and another book.

This was unreal!
My table greeted me with grins and pats of appreciation as I sat down, dumbfounded. At least until I heard yet another of my titles.
"First Place for Advanced Poetry goes to...Lament to Sugar!" A professional poet read it, almost laughing because he was reading it for the first time. It also made the audience crack up! They didn't even have to announce my name at that point for me to feel great- I was just so dang happy I got people to laugh!

"The award goes to....Beth Brubaker!"

By this time people were looking at me with a mixture of joy and 'How is she doing that?' as I made my way up to the front once more. This was crazy!

 I sat down, feeling both elated and incredulous. I had entered only four submissions and three won prizes! Can anyone ask for more? Then everyone looked at me in surprise as my last entry was announced. "Second place for Personal Experience goes to....Mischief Managed, Lesson Learned by Beth Brubaker!"

What?!? The cheers were bigger this time as I collected my award and another book. The biggest cheer was from my friend Angela Schans, aka Christian Barbie, the wonderful lady featured in the winning submission!

I sat down for the last time, basking in the glow of many happy faces as they finished the announcements. One lady (whom I didn't know was also one of the judges) whispered jokingly in my ear 'You might want to let someone else win now!' I laughed and whispered back 'I have to- I didn't submit anything else!' Both of us had to stifle our snickers, and we traded business cards.

Four submissions. Four awards. Two of which won first place. Who does that? Even as I sit here I still have a hard time accepting it! Angela and I had prayed that morning for wonderful surprises, promising contacts and new friends, and boy did He come through!

I sometimes wonder just what God has in store for me, and that maybe what I have in talent amounts to a pile of horse poo. But if God has His way, the horse poo can become the best fertilizer, making everything around it flourish and grow! I hope that if I ever feel like my writing is headed for the pasture again, I'll remember to look on my wall and remember this day.

God is good!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Body Malfunctions vs. Romance

Romance used to be fun.

I remember well all those wonderful romantic movies where nothings were whispered, touches were ever-so-gentle, and you could actually hear what your movie beloved was saying. Of course the beloved actor had a mike and a sound set, and didn't have your good ear plastered to his chest.

It's also not the time to suffer from nose whistles, lung squeaks and sudden sneezing fits.

No my friends, reality includes real bodies doing real things- usually right in the middle of a romantic moment.

It started when I was sixteen. I had a boyfriend (please note I said had), and he was busy kissing me. However, I felt a sneeze coming on and tried to warn him and rapid taps on his back, but he just thought I was in the moment and didn't stop.

Dizzy Gillespie would have been proud had he seen my boyfriend's face react like a car's air bag- and thanks to my excellent seeking skills, it only took a few minutes to find his eyes, but they popped right back in easy-peasy. After that he threw himself backward if I even twitched an eyelash. 

Then there was the time of the first kiss with my husband (before he was my husband). Our eyes closed in wondrous delight as our lips met, and I heard the oh-so subtle whistle of my nose.


Oh yeah- that's romantic. especially when you feel his lips curl into a barely suppressed grin as he's kissing you.

Or a time when you're just enjoying being with your sweetheart, and you lean against his chest with a sigh of contentment, and right before you finish exhaling...


The moment is ruined as your head (still resting on his chest) starts to bounce from his laughter.

Then you get older and things get even better.

You're in the middle of a hug, and you know he just murmured something loving and profound into your hair, but you have one ear to his chest and the other is blocked by his hand as he caresses your head, so all you heard was 'Meef merf morphenten'. You freeze, trying to decipher just what was said, yet afraid to break the moment by asking 'Huh?!?' 
Or worse yet, you actually do ask (in that throaty voice you use only for these instances), and he repeats it in that same murmur- and you still didn't hear it. Now if you ask again it will really break the romantic moment so you just smile and hug him, hoping it was something special and not a reminder to get the car fluids checked.

Then you spend the rest of the night wondering what the heck he said.

Romance used to be fun. Now it's just something to laugh at while your body betrays you. Sigh.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Theory of Messitivity

It all started with a broken dish.

I had just swept the kitchen floor that morning, and as we all know, the moment the floor is clean, something gets spilled or shattered on it. For us it's usually the former (99% of the time it's an entire gallon of freshly made iced tea), but this time I heard a crash. 
My husband yanked out a dish, and another dish (that was probably part lemming) decided to leap from it's perch and throw itself into oblivion. This particular dishware doesn't just break either- it shatters into a million itty-bitty shards- all over my nice clean floor. 

And of course, everyone is barefoot.

From the baritone bellow from the kitchen, It's my fault for having stacked smaller dishes on top of the larger ones. Not the guy who yanked out the dish in haste- Nooooo, not him! I was given a lecture about organizing (still being yelled from the kitchen to where I was on the couch), and while he was doing this, I kicked off my shoes in...um...joy, expressing my, um...appreciation for his, erm... helpfulness,  sneakers hitting the ceiling with a loud thud as I thrust them from my feet.

After the dish shrapnel was removed (with no injuries!), I replied in dulcet tones (that I'm sure the neighbors could hear), that perhaps he had a plan for solving this little dilemma, because stacking the big dishes on the little ones would defy physics. He said he would fix the situation that 'made' him break a dish while I put my sneakers back on and went for a walk to contemplate all the good things in life- and scoping out spots where I could hide the body.

I came home to a kitchen cabinet that was bereft of any extra dishes- the smaller ones were removed, as well as half of the larger dishes. Even the cups were downsized- apparently everyone was now on dish rations to two a day, and cups were color coded so we could only use our assigned color. At first I abhorred the idea, but after he explained his 'Theory of Messitvity', it really was quite brilliant.

No more taking a fresh cup when you want a drink- wash yours and refill.
No more taking a new plate for snack number twenty-seven, and leaving it in the sink.
No more having to run the dishwasher twice a day for a family of four.
Hand washing dishes won't take as much time, because there shouldn't be more than eight things to wash at a time, not including silverware.
Less clutter, less mess, and less cost on electric and water bills.

I could also tag who left what mess because of the color coded cups! That and the money we'd save on bills was the clincher for me. I forgave him and he said he forgave me too- for what I don't know- I just let that one go at the time. Maybe it was because my shoes dented the ceiling a little. Pfft.

The next day God let me know that it's not a good thing to lose my temper- apparently in my enthusiasm whilst kicking off yon sneakers, I overextended my knee. This happened late last week and I'm still limping. Serves me right for completely losing my schmidt over some silly dishes. Let's just say it was the hormones and leave it at that.

In the meantime, we only had to run the dishwasher once this weekend, and the kids are learning that color coding works better than NCIS when it comes to who made what messes- especially when their sibling (or mother) didn't clean up after themselves!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Seeing With New Eyes

The other day my daughter made a new friend. She's a few years younger than my daughter, but they get along great, and played the entire day through. My daughter invited her to church, and this little girl got very, very excited!"I'm tired of babysitting my brother- I wanna go see God!"

I couldn't help but chuckle at her enthusiasm. I know part of it was she was getting out of babysitting duty, but there was a genuine excitement about going to go see God. And here I am, wondering sleepily about what we'll do after service was over.
Where was the excitement? The joy? The happiness that we were all 'going to go see God'? When did going to church stop being fun and more like an obligation? I wanted to see through her eyes!

I know I'm not the only one to feel this way...right?

So my prayer for me (and those like me) would be- 'Lord, please break my heart and let Your joy shine in so much that I am like a kid at Disneyland when Sunday comes around!' 

We told her what time we were leaving, and that we would pick her up- after asking her mother for permission.

Sunday came and we went to her house- but she was still asleep. My daughter was disappointed, but we told her that she can invite her friend again next week- at least until my husband saw her riding her bike past the church an hour later! He told her she could still come, and she raced home to change, and even brought her sleepover guest with her! My daughter was so happy to see them coming through the door I thought she would burst.

They stayed through the entire service and said they wanted to come back next week. Her mother was out the entire day, so we kept an eye on her (and her other friend) and let them play at the house for the rest of the day. They had never experienced a fire-pit cookout, so we broke out the hot dogs and fire-pit forks and had them over for dinner. We had a blast!

It was fun to see these girls experience new things, taking joy in all of it. I want to see more through their eyes- and I wonder if God does the same with us when we take joy in His work!

Take a look around and try to see everything with new eyes- it might just bless you in unexpected ways!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Flesh Isn't Willing

My body is plotting against me.

I look in the mirror twice now, because parts of me don't fit in there anymore.
I have to catch my breath when I blink too much.
That platinum blond hair is multiplying, looking an awful lot like a grey blaze on my head.
When I move things either hurt or make sounds like bubble wrap.
I can only see words five miles ahead of me if I'm driving, or twenty feet ahead of me if I'm reading.

The Spirit might be willing, but the flesh wants a nap. The Spirit keeps poking me to let me know I have things to do.

I'm fighting an epic war between my body and my spirit. The body has ways of prolonging getting to work, like the bathroom (again?), allergies that blur vision and fuzz up the mind, fat to make gravity a stronger force, and a mind that loves to be distracted by Facebook and computer games.

My spirit knows I have work to do, and does it's best to get me motivated, sometimes by dangling something shiny in front of me to get my attention. 'You can take a guilt-free nap after you're done!' it says in a persuasive tone, or 'When you get this finished, you can go on Facebook!'

Once it tried to tell me 'You'll get a great sense of accomplishment when this is done!' but I ignored it- the spirit learned that bribery works- at least in my case. 

The flesh is definitely not willing- unless chocolate is involved. Of course I'll have more gravity to deal with later on if I waddle down this road too often! Most of my bribes are spent killing off brain cells on the computer. 

One day the Spirit will win the war. On occasion, I even hope it'll win. Until then, the Spirit has a lot of nice shiny things to make me keep the house running and family fed. 

And yes, even make a blog post!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Which Way Do I Go?

Life choices are worse than driving with my husband. 

When I'm driving, he's the wing-man- he tells me where to go because I have no concept of where we are. He, however, knows his exact location at all times, which drives me crazy.

But this time all he can do is suggest where to go, because this decision has to be my own. Why? Because I'm at a crossroads in my life and need to figure out where I am on the stupid map.

Think of it as a big sign at a crossroads. It has all kinds of arrows pointing to new places, but you just can't decide which way you want to go. I'm sure you have one of these too!

Writer, speaker, humorist, comedian...all these as well as mom, wife, and domicile technician. Years ago I asked what God wanted me to do and He answered, but now I'm wondering if I should ask again- not for confirmation of what was asked, but because the choices have now changed.

The original request was this: 'If You want me to be a writer, please show me a cardinal (the bird, not the religious guy). If You want me to start a sewing business, please show me a blue jay. If You want me to do some thing other than these, please show me a white dove.' Two days later God showed me a cardinal. So I wrote. A lot.

Now I have more questions because writing is not the only direction I'm being lead. It was suggested to me by many (by both professionals and friends) that I do a series of YouTube videos or stand-up comedy. Stand-up is something that I've always thought would be fun, but I know better. That is not a job for an at-home mom, unless she stays local- and I want to reach millions. I'd like to do what Chonda Peirce and Ken Davis do. And Mark Lowry- I'd like to be his little sister!

I think me and The Big Guy need to have another chat.

My second rejection from an agent was also one of the best- she said if I wanted to write better humor, get a humor coach- I need a better way to get my personality onto the page- either that or do stand-up.

I understood what she meant when she said 'stand-up'- Stand up in front of people and let that personality of yours shine. But I don't want to do a series of one-liners and jokes- I also want to teach people and show them that if God loves a screw-up like me, He can love you too- and missing teeth is sexy. 

Not sure if the latter can be accomplished, but I can definitely do the former!

Now if I only knew what sign to follow....

Do you have a crossroads sign? What is yours showing you? Go on and tap God on the shoulder and ask Him where to go- He likes that. Probably better than my husband does when I'm driving (but not by much)!

Monday, September 9, 2013

His First Healiversary!

It's hard to believe a year has passed since my husband's accident. I never did tell you the full story.

Last year on the ill-fated anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, my husband was working with a chemical called caustic soda or sodium hydroxide- otherwise known as lye- but in it's almost pure state. He had been working overtime for weeks, and was physically and mentally worn out. A fact that came to light only when he had gotten distracted and mixed the chemical with the hot water instead of the cold.
In cold water, the chemical heats the water to near boiling- but when added to hot, it becomes super-heated and vulcanizes...which means the temperature shoots to over four-hundred degrees and spouts up like a rocket. Luckily my husband had the forethought to use the bucket in his hands to deflect most of the chemical from his chest, throat and face, but enough still shot up to hit the twelve-foot ceiling and rain down into his hair and scalp and into his eyes. The bulk of the spray splashed onto his thighs, belly and forearms.

Thanks to a crack team of co-workers, he was shoved under a spray of water and stripped down so his clothing wouldn't melt onto him. Ironically, my husband was giving directions through it all, telling them where to spray and what to do until help arrived.
The EMT's came within five minutes, dousing him with eye wash, and getting him ready for the best burn center in the country- that just happened to be less than five minutes away. Within thirty minutes of the accident, he was bandaged from head to foot and medicated within an inch of his life.

That's about when I received the phone call.

He had been in work less than two hours, and I had just sent the kids to school. His co-worker (and cousin) came to get me. I'd called everyone I knew to pray for him before I sped off to the burn unit.

Those who know me know I tend to think of the worst possible situation first, to ready myself just in case. it's a comfort for me to do this really, because it prepares me beforehand so I'm not shell-shocked when the news comes. I knew if I imagined the worst, anything better than that is a good thing. It's much better (at least in my twisted little mind) than thinking everything will be okay and seeing that it really, really isn't.

By the time we got to the hospital (and I was assured he would live), I had visions of my husband looking something like a Mummy and a Zombie. A Zumbie. Anything better than that and I would be a happy camper. He was going to live and that's all that mattered.

When I entered into his room, I could not see anything but bandages from his toes to his nose. He had special lenses that kept his eyes closed and rinsed his eyes constantly. I could see fingertips but not much else. He wasn't a zumbie- he was a great big Q-tip.

And by day two he was a pumpkinhead. Second and third degree burns on thirty-five percent of his body tends to make a guy swell up some. At this point they weren't sure about his vision (or loss thereof), and he would definitely need a set of skin grafts. Maybe two.
The problem was that the areas they usually take from (the front of the thighs and the belly) were gone. Both thighs, belly and both forearms needed to be covered with new skin, and the only large enough surface skin left was on the side of his thighs.

He told me later it was like getting rug burn times a hundred, and hurt worse after the skin grafts were done, because no skin meant no nerve endings.

They had the eye wash lenses in for thirty-six hours.
They had the grafts done, then had to staple pig skin on top of that.
He needed to bathe daily and get a bandage change twice daily.
He was in the hospital for eighteen days.

We went home with two bags of medical supplies, medications, and salves. He was home for a month, with me wrapping his wounds twice a day, washing him and wrapping him in sheets at night. They even gave me my very own staple remover, because I did a better job removing them than the doctors did! 

He was back to work on light duty a month and a half after the accident. Then the real healing began.

My husband's vision wasn't the best before all this- 550/20 and 650/20. The big concern was that his vision had worsened. Test after test was done and every time they tried on his old lenses, he just could not see well in his left eye. In fact, his vision was worse when he put them on. 

When the eye specialist left the room, my husband looked at the eye chart out of curiosity. He was surprised that when he covered his right eye, he could actually read the letters. He could never read the letters without help before.

He called in the doctor and told him what happened.

The doctor gave him a new set of tests, as if he was a first-time patient. Then he looked at my husband's chart, then at the new test results. His vision had improved. A lot. And with each visit, both eyes kept improving. By the time six months had passed, the vision in his right eye had improved to 525/20. 

His left eye? 20/10. Perfect vision. 

It's not even a year since his accident, and the burn doctors have released him. He still has a little healing to do, but the scarring is minimal. None of the docs can explain why he healed so fast, and how he remained so positive throughout the entire ordeal.

But we know. God was with us through everything. My husband's faith in God kept a smile on his face, and hope in his heart- and no matter what happened, God was going to get him through it.

Happy Healiversary, Sweetheart!

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Good Hate

In most circumstances, hate isn't a good thing. But on occasion, hate can help you make changes in your life- as well as help those around you.

How? Let me tell you about my most recent adventure.

My family and I went for an overnight visit to a writing friend of mine. We had a blast playing cards and chatting with them while the kids played and played and played. My husband and I did all the cooking in exchange for beds for the night, so we brought a carload of fresh ingredients and made meals for all ten of us, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We ate like kings, and made enough leftovers to fill their freezer.

Life was good until I heard the words 'Let's go for a little hike'. My heart sank.

They live near the mountains, and having been on a hike called the Appalachian trail before with my own family (years ago when I was really stupid), I knew what 'going on a hike' meant- it meant I was going to hold everyone back, or be walking the trail by myself.

In the entire group of ten, I was the only one who was overweight. I didn't like being fat, but I was content as long as I had a sturdy chair under me and didn't have to move a lot. Everyone wanted to go, so off I went, already embarrassed and a bit angry because I knew what was going to happen.

Understand that I wasn't angry at my friends or family, I was angry at myself for being fat. I could have done something months ago, but my complacency mired me in my own muck- and now I was paying the price.

We started up the trail and already the guys were making a beeline for the next rise. My friend was pushing her toddler in a walking stroller, and wasn't even breaking a sweat as we made our way up.

Now my friend is a pretty classy chick, because she didn't complain about all of the others leaving us behind (yes, I said us). I knew she could keep up with them, but she held back and walked (and occasionally stopped) at my pace. 

She could have tried to coax me to go faster. She could have huffed and puffed because we were going so slow, or became impatient when I had to stop to nurse a hip beginning to suffer from bursitis (also in part because I was too danged heavy). What did she do instead? She admired the forest, thanking me for allowing her to slow down and enjoy the trail in a new light. 

And when we stopped so I could rest, she let her little one out to explore a pretty flower or a passing butterfly.

What amazed me is that she really was enjoying herself. She wasn't just being polite!

The hate I held in my heart could have easily turned to self-hate. I'm so very good at self-hate! I still felt horrible about holding her back, but the energy I put into the hate began to change. The hate turned to a hate for my sin, and not for me. Oh, I'm still not thrilled with myself (not by a longshot!), but the fire in my heart was becoming a fire for change.

I contemplated this on the drive home. I started thinking about ways I could make small changes, while setting goals for bigger ones. I also thought of ways we could do more active things as a family. But first I had to change me- and my attitude about myself.

I'm a sinner- other than that I'm just about perfect (not to mention modest)! 

And if the hate is a good hate, it will help me make better life choices because I hate the sin, not the sinner!

Monday, August 26, 2013

World Views

I've always wondered what God meant by 'You are not of this world'. 

A few weeks ago I went to a Christian writers conference and had a total blast. I could talk about God and life as a Christian because everyone else there was a Christian. I could hug a woman and not be thought of as gay, talk to those around me when something I'd heard touched me spiritually, and vent at why none of us had a million dollar best-selling book. Yet.

It. Was. Awesome.

I came home to the normal chaos, and felt at peace with God and family. I looked for local meet-ups for writers and got very excited when I saw one very close to my house. Off I went with great hopes of making new writing friends, Christian or not.

Things went downhill the moment I walked into the room. 

There were no introductions. The hostess of the meet-up turned this social event into a creative writing class. There was no mention of a class beforehand- it was supposed to be us writers getting to know each other- even if there were only five us.

When I mentioned I was a Christian, the room was silent. Painfully silent- like I'd said I had the plague. I assured everyone I wouldn't go swatting them with my Bible (especially since I didn't have one with me). No one would speak to me after that, and I wound up leaving 'class' because it was going to be three hours long with just creative writing- meaning she gave us an idea, and we wrote a story. Ugh.

I came away from the experience not even knowing a single person's name.

I'm beginning to understand what God meant by "You are not of this world.' We aren't. We are God's children, and people notice that. Sometimes that works in our favor, and often times it doesn't. We have a different view of the world because we know this isn't the end-all-be-all of life. There's something more after we leave here, and there's a great comfort in that.

People are so afraid to talk to us for fear of conversion (brainwashing), reprimand (We are clean while you are a dirty sinner), or life might change (because sin is fun and you like it that way).

And that is a world view. And yes, there are those few Christians that do act like that. But for the most part, all we want to do is let others know the love of God, and that we are with Him not because we are so sparkling clean, but we are covered in grime just like the rest of the world- we just know where the clean water is so we can get a decent bath!

As for sin? We all do it, that's why we're no longer in Eden. We were born into it, and sometimes revel in it, but we all want to be free of it. Maybe that's what makes us so different- we know there's freedom from it with God. Maybe not in this lifetime, but definitely when He calls us home. 

And that is the best view of the world you could ever have.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Wht Th Hck R U Syng?

Last week's post was about the evolution of communication. And now the pitfalls of that higher evolution- shorthand texts.

Yes I text, but I use actual words in full, unless it's a shorter version that even youth impaired individuals like me could understand, like info., ex., or even short text like LOL or OMG- where the 'G' stands for Goodness.

But not those weird misspelled words and short text that requires a linguist to decipher. Many misconceptions are posted online when the shorthand lines cross between the young and the young at heart. The internet is loaded with texts gone wrong- especially when they use spellchecker.

And even the spellchecker uses words I've never heard before!

The older generation tries to fit in with the cool, younger crowd by using shorthand text, and the results often reveal their folly...

WTH- What's That, Honey?
LOL- Lots of Love (not good when texting about the death of a pet or loved one)
BTW- BeTWeen
LMAO- Love My Aunt and Oncle (oh do please spellcheck this one!)
SITD- Isn't this a Venereal Disease?!? or SIT Down
SH- Be quiet
WEG- I have a WEdGie

You can see how this would cause complete communication chaos!

To the younger generations, please spell out the words for us older people so we understand you! In the meantime, send me LOL because IMHO and WEG! (darn underwear!)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Text Me Maybe?

It's official. I'm old.

The other day I needed to get in touch with some of the youth in our church ('youth' meaning the late teens, early twenties people), and said 'I'll shoot you an email'.

The response was less than enthusiastic. I got furtive looks from the guys, and wrinkled noses from the girls. 'Can't you just send me a text? I don't respond to emails anymore.'


It was then I realized we are all in a shiny new communications era. Emails were no longer responded to. Emails were too slow and boring. 


Let's go back in history, shall we? Back in the olden days (yes, even before I was born and electricity was discovered), people actually spoke to each other to communicate. You wanted to talk to your auntie Grunt, you hauled your hind end over to her cave and met her face to face- even if it was hundreds of miles away. Let's just say those important talks (like her special recipe for stewed mammoth), were usually reserved for the annual get-togethers in winter.

Then someone invented paper and we began writing to each other. This was much better, because you didn't have to meet face to face all the time, and it was faster- all you had to do was find someone going the same direction as the recipient's residence to pass along the message. Easy peasy.  Letters were like a mini book delving into the lives of family and friends. When a letter was received, you got excited like it was Christmas- the family would gather around as you read it by the fire, kiddies listening to the new stories of real life happenings with great interest.

Once the postal system came along, it was the end-all be-all of communication for a really long time. People could actually hear from each other in weeks (and eventually days as the system went from horses and cars to trains and planes), and a letter was still a very cherished thing- thought not as cherished as before.

Then came the telephone.

People could talk instantly- and the letter became the communications dinosaur and a lost art. No longer would we have to wait to speak to someone, we would just have to walk to the nearest town and let the operator know who we wanted to talk to- until we had a phone in our own home, saving ourselves a hike. Eventually we didn't even need an operator, and could call a friend if we had their secret code- via a phone number.

Though the phone is still the main way we communicate, the computer era has taken it to a new level. If someone was unavailable and their answering machine was full, you could always email- you knew when it was sent (just in case the person was lying that they never got it), and if it was someone whose calls you were ignoring, you could respond after you edited what you really wanted to say. You could even lie your face off in an email, and no none would be the wiser because they couldn't read your face!

But it also put what you said in retrievable writing, so you still had to be careful.

Then came the text. No longer do we need to read slow, boring emails when you can have a conversation by typing everything and sending it instantly. I can see if the other person was unable to talk, but why text back and forth when talking is so much more efficient? You know the other person is there because they are texting back, so why not just talk and save yourself from carpal tunnel?

The era of personal communications is lost. I see it every day. friends walking together down the street, both of them texting other friends or even each other. Moms texting their kids instead of calling, because calls get ignored. Texting is more private than conversation, so instead of overhearing interesting things on the bus, all we hear are little beeps and boops. Even I have gotten caught up in texting on occasion, though I try to resist it!

I'm sure the next new thing will be the video phone, like in the Jetsons- and our answering machines will have a cardboard cutout of ourselves with a pre-recorded message...'Hi! This is Beth. sorry I'm not at my desk right now, but if you leave your name and number and a brief video, I will tweet you as soon as possible.' Beep. 

After that? Maybe we'll be able to communicate telepathically, though I certainly hope not! I can imagine the tweets (which would then be only three words long) spewing forth faster the light itself between friends and family and even dear Auntie Gruntella, who would be most insulted if she learned her revised elephant stew was the worst thing you ever put in your mouth.

In some cases, it's really good not to be able to communicate face to face!

And if our young adults are any indication of how the trends will go, email will go the way of the dinosaurs- and really old, out of date people like me. Lost in cyberspace, like socks in a dryer.