I want to be like the balloon lady

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I’ve read stories of people who pay for a person in line with them at a drive-thru, or pay for another customer’s meal in a restaurant, but I’ve never had it happen, or made it happen. Today I was able to observe a random act of kindness.

I was at the Dollar Store to get two items, which turned into five, but that was better than most trips that turn into ten items.  As I get into the only line open there are six people ahead of me. Each one had a story, a life, a reason to be at the Dollar Store. The two older ladies who were checking out together shuffled slowly just like Mom used to. The next lady told the cashier to add a pink helium balloon to her order as she went over to get it. Then she turned and gave it to the toddler sitting in the shopping cart behind her. It was such a sweet, spur of the moment gesture. After they left I noticed the woman in front of me only had one item – some googles. Like the kind you might use in a chemistry lab at school. She began digging around in her big purse and could not find her wallet. She told the cashier she’d have to come back. That was my chance to follow the example of the balloon lady. I paid for the goggles. Such a simple act, a whole dollar plus tax, but I wondered, would I have even thought to do it had it been another day without the balloon lady in front of me? I want to think I would have.

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Puddles or Living Water?

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Oak Mountain State Park – February, 2017

“My soul thirsteth for God, though I misinterpret my thirst, and, like a hot dog upon a road, try to slake my thirst by lapping at any puddle of dirty water that I come across in my path. There is no satisfaction there. It is in God, and in God only that we can find repose.” –   Alexander Maclaren

I can visualize this so well. Yesterday as Ruby and I were on our return route at Red Mountain, we passed several puddles on the south trail. As she walked through them, her head went down to get a lap or two of water, orange from the clay. I didn’t stop her, knowing she would only get a smidge of a taste, and knowing that I’d already given her fresh water when we’d taken a break a little while before this.

How often do I take those little tastes of “any puddle of dirty water” when I have a spring of Living Water to slake my thirst?

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water – Jeremiah2:13

A Small Flood

 

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I have no idea who this is…

“Someone dies and a little trickle of indestructible keepsakes appears, to swell the flood. This steady influx is not counterbalanced by any comparable outgo.” – E.B. White

I am still fighting this flood. The trickle began when my mother-in-law died and I became keeper of the family photos and what little history there was. Before I could make much of a dent in sorting and such, my mother died. That is when the keepsakes really began to swell the flood. If I had not been there to rescue some, my brothers may have put them all downstream. Now I am still dog-paddling through photos, documents, letters, and the occasional surprise. There has been a lot of outgo, though. Some has been passed on to family members and some has hit the trashcan. Yet still I have items in three different closets that often just overwhelms me.

I thought I’d have it all sorted before this summer ended. It is a daunting task at times. When I come across the fourth copy of a genealogy chart, I have to be sure it is actually a replica and not a different one before it gets tossed. When there are numerous copies of the same photo, I have to decide who else might want a copy and contact them before I toss it. It seems never ending. And for what?

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My great-uncle Sim. Maybe related to Jed Clampett?

I hope to pass it all down to my next of kin one day. I want them to get it in an orderly arrangement so they don’t have to think about it and won’t have to make all these decisions. I want it to just flow right down to be perused at their leisure. To give them a sense of family history. A sense of belonging. For that’s what it’s done for me, though it hasn’t been easy. Fresh grief doesn’t make it any easier, either.

 

Wise Purchases

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I don’t always make wise purchases. Like the time I got gallons of peachy paint only to get them home and realize it would make my house look like Publix.

Or the time I went along with my husband’s idea of buying a double kayak, which he went out in with me maybe three times in the water behind our house. It was too large for me to tote anywhere on my own and we eventually ended up selling it to someone who bought it as a graduation gift for her son.  I don’t remember whatever became of all the peachy paint.

But, I want to tell you about three things that WERE wise purchases and have and still are serving me well.

First is my trusty backpack. I have had it for 15 years and it’s still going strong. It was first purchased for a trip to Ireland, and has been put to use ever since for hiking, carry-on for plane flight, trips with grandkids, to the library, and even to work some days. It’s thin enough to flatten in the bottom of a suitcase it needed. I purchased it from the Rick Steves website, where you can find the updated version.

Second is my Brita water bottle. I’ve had it for about three years, not sure exactly. I actually found it marked down at Publix, but it can be ordered online. It goes with me when I travel. I take it empty through security, then fill it on the other side at a water fountain.  I’ve ordered refill filters via amazon. It’s also used when I hike.

My most recent wise purchase is a hiking stick. I ordered it for hiking, but soon after had knee surgery. I used it to hobble around at work for a short while and now use it whenever I hike up and down any inclines. It’s super lightweight and folds up into its own little bag.

Today I await delivery of what I hope is another wise purchase – a new laptop.  I don’t have a desktop, so it IS my desktop.  My old one (Asus) has served me well but in laptop years I think it’s older than me. If it’s like dog years it’s 70. I use my chromebook (Lenovo now) on a very regular basis, but there are somethings I just can’t do on it, such as edit photos. I’m excited to see if this purchase (Lenovo) will magically improve my writing and photography skills. Time will tell.

 

Habitude

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I can not recall ever seeing this word before today.  Websters has this to say: habitual disposition or mode of behavior or procedure.

To me it’s like a portmanteau. Like a Spork. Like Forky. But, I digress.

My husband is a man with definite habitudes. I see it more every day. The tomato juice every morning. The laying out of clothes in the evening. Those unsavory (to me) two – just lasagna or chili – Atkins meals for lunch.

But it’s funny how I am wondering what my own habitudes are. I like to mix things up. Try new items on the menu. Rotate my perfume. But and yet, I have a few habitudes. Like the way I vacuum the house on a rotating basis. And carry my iced coffee in my favorite insulated cup to work. And take photos of little plastic toys when I hike.

But I think I’ve overlooked the first part of the definition – the habitual disposition. Oh boy, that’s a hard one to talk about. That’s where I know I need a “Habitude Adjustment”. But for now I’ll leave you with a gallery of my little plastic guys. Maybe one day you’ll find one on the trail somewhere.

Thoughts inspired by MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY #2

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“Ashamed of herself as mothers are when they realize they have passed that point in life when they want more from their daughters than their daughters want from them.” – Frederik Backman

I hit this point many years ago. It has taken a while to settle in my heart that it’s a natural progression, this growing away from our mothers. And sometimes there is a point where we tip back towards them. I was still in that tipping back that comes when the empty nest makes you realize your mother’s nest has been empty a long time, when Mom died. Now there isn’t even a nest for her except in memories. Yet, I try to follow in her footsteps and reach out to those I know are lonely. I have a long way to go, but I have Mom’s example to guide me.

And all is not lost on the mother/daughter front. Sure, I yearn for the days when they were young and occasionally thought I hung the moon. But, I see in them a spark of Mom’s kindness and know that they will always tip back to me now and then.

 

Thoughts inspired by MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY

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This is the third book I’ve read by Fredrik Backman. Not sure if this or A Man Called Ove is my favorite.  This one is story with lots of characters, which gives me hope for the book I’ve written that all is not lost. It’s main character is a child, but every character is a rich part of the story.

“…. because the people who reach the end of their days must leave others who have to live out their days without them.” — Frederick Backman

There is death in this story, but it it necessary for the story, just like in our lives. I am living out my days without a number of people who I wish were till here. I wish Cathy was here because her sense of adventure and love of music matched mine. I wish Debbie was here to leave me long, drawn out messages on voicemail. I wish Betty was here to enjoy watching me eat Key Lime pie and to tell us that “Larry says Hi!” And that Larry was here to say Hi and listen because he was always interested in everybody. I wish Charlie was here to teach E how to fish.

I wish Mamaw was here so I could ask her about what happened in 1938. I wish Great-Aunt Marie was here because where she was love was. And I’d even like to hear her burp again. I wish Dad was here to teach his great-grandkids all his nonsensical sayings. I wish Mom was here for so many reasons, I can’t even begin. So I’ll just say she was the one who always asked how Loretta was doing. And she would have liked Ruby just as much.

So I live out my days without them. I take Ruby now on my adventures and listen to lots of music with my husband. I think of Betty every time I have Key Lime anything. I’ve reached out to other relatives, some of whom I only recently met, to ask about 1938 and many other things. My brothers and I carry on with Dad’s sayings, and Mom’s jokes. But my voicemail still stays pretty empty.