All posts by dscales24

I am a wife, mother, and grandmother who enjoys sharing life experiences through writing short, lighthearted articles. These are intended to entertain, inspire, motivate, and inform my readers. I hope to receive responses in which readers tell me if they relate to the articles and share with me ideas that my writings generated in them.

My Geranium Piece

I have not written about geraniums for a while. I have been too busy tending my plants to write about them.

Multiple pots of red geraniums adorned my yard and patio this summer. The plant pictured below held pride of place on my patio table.

At its peak, this geranium’s leaves and blossoms demonstrated perfection in a pot. They were healthy, vibrant, glorious.

I took this photo during the plant’s post-peak state. Its blossoms and leaves are waning.

Like my geranium, I am in my post-peak years. Not that I want to sound fatalistic, but I am waning.

My body does not move as quickly or as agilely as it once did. My brain processes thoughts more slowly.

That does not mean I am finished with this life, or have become useless.

My geranium, for as long as it can, will continue its work of producing blossoms.

And I will continue my work.

I will nurture my four wonderful, precious, amazing grandchildren.

I’ll tutor ESL students, encourage neighbors, and lend a helping hand to friends and even strangers.

Most importantly of all, I will prepare for entrance into the spectacular world that awaits me after I leave this one, thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice.

Keep moving forward, whatever your age. Do what you do best. Help others. Honor God.

I’ll end this missive with a quote attributed to American baseball great, Yogi Berra. “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

WEEDING

I have become an avid weeder.

My husband does 99% of the yard work, and all the heavy labor.

I have taken on the responsibility of removing weeds.

Below are photos and descriptions of weeds I tackle, along with some life applications related to these weeds.

Nutsedge (Watergrass)

These V-shaped, light green weeds spring up within the yard and grow faster than the lawn grass.

As weeds go, these are fairly unoffensive. I could pull them up, but I look at them and say, “Meh.” (My preteen granddaughter taught me saying meh to those weeds indicates  my indifference to their existence.)

I compare these weeds to other things I choose to accept: the clutter that accumulates on my kitchen island, my grandkids’ habit of using the word butt, and the saggy skin on the underside of my arms.

I may not like these things, but I will tolerate them.

Spurge

Our yard is a hotbed of these weeds. They crop up everywhere: in cracks in the driveway, between the bricks around flower beds, in sunny spots and shady spots, and everywhere else.

The one good thing about them (if weeds can have a good thing) is their ease of removal. Their spindly, pink-white roots lift out of the ground on my first tug. I rarely walk to the mailbox without stooping to feel the thrill of doing away with one.

These weeds represent my ever-present and annoying bad habits:

  • Leaving the dishwasher lid down and banging my shin at least once a day
  • Pulling on loose cuticles until I make my fingers sore
  • Having to unload the dryer before I can put in a load of wet clothes
  • Throwing the empty muffin mix box in the trash and then having to get it out three times to check and recheck how long I’m supposed to bake the muffins
  • Forgetting to take my 9:00 a.m. dose of medicine until 11:00 a.m., which means I can’t take my 1:00 p.m. dose until 3:00 p.m., my 5:00 p.m. dose until 7:00 p.m., and my 9:00 p.m. dose until 11:00 p.m.

It is an ongoing job to purge both spurge and bad habits from my life.

Dandelion

Ah, the dandelion!

It first shows up with a colorful yellow flower the grandkids pick and bring in as a gift for grandma. Then it develops a feathery puffball the grandkids pick and swing through the air, planting more dandelions.

Finally it spreads its thick green arms across the surface of the ground and dares me to try to pull out its long, white root.

I go after these monsters with a heavy-duty, metal digging stick, and still I don’t always remove the whole root.

These embedded weeds are like ongoing irritations that keep me aggravated but are beyond my ability to eradicate: pop-up ads on my computer; goose poop on sidewalks; political wrangling; dust; loud pick-up trucks; squeaky, wobbly shopping carts; and houseflies that never sit long enough to be swatted.

Dandelions will never be eliminated. Neither will the frustrations of daily life. I should accept that fact and stop letting them make me miserable.

Crabgrass

See the discussion of the dandelion above. Different weed, same vexation.

Thistle

The thistles in my yard are like dandelions or crabgrass, but with thorns. Several times I have reached to uproot a thistle with my bare hands. I always regret it.

Thistles represent my significant troubles, the things that keep me awake at night. They are prickly on the surface and deeply rooted. sicknesses and heartaches among the people I love, COVID-19 and its aftermath, the pitiful condition of the world my grandchildren will inherit, and irredeemable personal regrets.

Setting my mind on these things is as painful as wrapping my fingers around a thistle plant. My only protection from the anguish they bring is prayer.

Did weeds exist in Eden? I think not. Will they exist in the New World we call Eternity? No, neither the literal nor the figurative ones.

For now, both my yard and my life are weedy.

CLEAN-UP TIME

I am fortunate to have a woman come and clean my house once every two weeks.

The cleaning done by this capable and careful woman has many benefits. I will focus upon only one.

Knowing she is coming on Saturday morning forces me to pick up and put away clutter before she arrives.

I can’t expect her to clean my house if clothes, papers, toys, dishes, etc. are in her way. She does not know where these things are supposed to be stored, so I store them before she arrives.

This reminds me of an episode of one of my favorite television sitcoms, The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Rob (Dick Van Dyke) and Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) Petrie, as you may remember, lived in New Rochelle, New York.

This funny and attractive TV couple enjoyed an upper-middle-class existence in the early 1960s.

In one episode, Laura decides she needs to hire a maid.

In their inimitable way, Rob and Laura spend days cleaning, picking up, and otherwise preparing for the arrival of the maid. They would be embarrassed to allow the woman to see the usual untidy condition of their home.

At one point, Rob looks around at the immaculate state of their house and says, “We never needed a maid. We just needed the threat of a maid.”

So, the knowledge that a cleaning woman is coming forces me to tidy my cluttered house.

As unlikely as it may sound, pondering this situation led me to make a spiritual comparison.

Many people recognize a need for God, but they feel they must first clean up their lives.

They cannot, they think, approach God in the sinful condition in which they currently exist.

They are, in a sense, correct.

A holy God cannot tolerate the presence of sin. Thus, our sin must be removed before we can enjoy a relationship with Him.

But we, as mere mortals, cannot achieve spiritual purity on our own power.

We need Jesus to do that for us.

Jesus did not come to earth to save cleaned-up people.

He came to save sinners.

Sinners come to Jesus. He cleans them up, keeps cleaning them up, and makes them presentable to God.

Here is my suggestion to anyone who recognizes a need for God but doesn’t know where to go to get started.

Go to church.

Avoid cults and cultlike groups. (Some cults have the word church in their names.)

Ask a churchgoing friend to take you to church with him or her. Find a church that preaches Jesus and His lovely grace.

I came across this the other day and want to share it with you. I don’t know the author, and the piece has no title.

I’m calling it Go to Church Anyway.

Warning: The piece contains grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. (Groan)

TOOTH #28

I am in the middle of having a root canal done.

For those who may not know, getting a root canal is not a one-and-done procedure.

First, the unhappy patient suspects a problem exists with a tooth.

She then consults her dentist, who examines the suspect tooth, takes x-rays of it, and then delivers the unwelcome news that a problem does exist.

In my case, my dentist referred me to an endodontist.

The endodontist examined the tooth, took x-rays of it, and confirmed I needed a root canal.

It’s tooth #28, the rotten scoundrel!

Well, not rotten. This tooth has never shown signs of decay.

Apparently, an insidious, destructive process within the tooth’s root has been ongoing.

“It happens,” the experts say.

Unhappily, my tooth requires more than a run-of-the-mill root canal. It needs an apicoectomy, which requires two incisions, followed by sutures, in the gums.

You can watch a YouTube video of the procedure, but why in the world would you?

I have endured the first part of the procedure and will see the endodontist a second time in late June. After that, I will return to my regular dentist, who will place a crown on the tooth.

That is, I will have a crown placed if all goes well.

If things go awry, the tooth will need to be removed.

I am more than angry at tooth #28.

For most of the tooth’s existence, I have faithfully brushed it and flossed around it twice a day. I rinsed it with antiseptic mouthwash. Twice every year I took it to the dentist for routine cleaning and an exam.

Despite my faithful nurturing, it has turned on me.

I deserve better treatment from this tooth.

The ingrate.

Ingratitude is an ugly business.

Maybe you have felt the sting of it when you performed a kindness and went un-thanked or were even rebuffed for your efforts.

Good parents experience the full force of ingratitude when a child, whom they have loved and tended for years, rejects and discards them. Think of the father of the Prodigal Son at the beginning of the story recorded in Luke 15:11-32.

Is there someone (Someone) who has treated you with kindness and grace to whom you are showing ingratitude?

I hope not.

Suggested Video:

HIS IMAGE

My mother loved birds.

She was a country girl all her life and could identify the birds of north Arkansas by their sights and sounds: mockingbirds, blue jays, redbirds, mourning doves, chickadees, whippoorwills, and others.

Shortly after Mom died in November 2016, I received in the mail a little package from my cousin, Sandy.

Sandy is an artist.

Inside the package she had mailed to me was this little hand-painted, stone redbird.

Sandy had included a note in which she wrote, “I was walking along the road the other day, saw this rock, and thought, I see a redbird in that rock. I’m going to paint it and send it to Debbie.”

How thoughtful of her! And how creative!

I love my little rock redbird and keep it on my desk by my computer. It reminds me of both my bird-loving mother and my kind, artistic cousin.

I cannot imagine seeing anything in a rock. I do not have the artist’s eye.

But in addition to reminding me of my mother and my cousin, this little keepsake reminds me of a Biblical truth.

When God created me, He made me in His image. And His image is total goodness.

That image of God in me gets hidden sometimes. Influences from sin, the world, and my own mortal nature mar it.

But that image is there. God is ever working to bring it forth and make it evident for others to see.

What an honor it is to know I am made, in some mysterious way, in the very image of the Creator and Sustainer of this universe!

If I allow God’s Spirit within me to do His work, God’s image will shine forth from me.

That requires both my willingness and cooperation. I must desire that image to be apparent in my life.

If I want it passionately enough, God will make it happen.

May you be blessed this week as you allow God’s image to be seen in you.

CHALKBOARD GIRL

I am a chalkboard girl in a touchscreen world.

From the time I entered first grade, I have loved chalkboards.

I liked the smell of chalk and loved taking erasers out to the playground to pound the dust out of them.

I even had a little chalkboard of my own and can still see it in my mind’s eye. In yellow paint across the top of that board were drawings of a ball, a house, a sailboat, and a flower.

Many times I set my dolls and stuffed animals in a makeshift classroom and “taught” them using that little chalkboard.

Though I hold memories of my own chalkboard and the ones that covered the walls of my school classrooms, I can’t remember the last time I saw one.

Chalkboards have gone the way of clipboards and carbon paper.

I won’t deny that in many ways computers have simplified our lives. More than simplifying them, computers have made it possible for us to perform acts that, back in the chalkboard era, would have seemed like magic.

Last Thursday, I talked face-to-face with a friend in Japan using Skype.

Yesterday I selected, ordered, and paid for a new bedspread using only my computer.

Later today I will pay bills, without leaving my house, using paper and a pen, or utilizing envelopes and stamps.

But I miss the simplicity of a chalkboard.

Mistakes were easily corrected, and starting over required only the swipe of an eraser across the board’s surface.

On chalkboards, I practiced long division and competed in ciphering matches.

Daily assignments were written on a designated area of the classroom chalkboard. The week’s spelling words were displayed.

Often the day’s date was printed across the top of the board, along with a reminder like Make Today a Good Day or Kindness Counts.

What person of my age never drew on a chalkboard a heart with a secret such as D.J. loves D.S. printed inside it?

Courtesy Pixabay

In a contest, computers would, without a doubt, outperform chalkboards. It seems there is almost nothing a computer cannot do.

But they can also be maddening and bring out the worst in their users.

My computer tempts me to say a bad word quicker than anything else in my house, except maybe my hot curling iron when it grazes my forehead.

Not even once was I tempted to smash a chalkboard with a hammer or throw it out my window.

Because many of you know I have obsessive-compulsive disorder, I will include one more graphic that includes a chalkboard.

It is one of my favorite OCD funnies.

HOW DO THESE THINGS WORK?

Have you noticed, as I have, that once you encounter an item or a word, that same thing crops up again and again?

Sometimes a Bible verse enters my mind, and the next thing I know the preacher mentions it in the sermon, or I see it displayed on a church marquee.

Why does that happen?

Lately, I have pondered terms common in today’s world that my grandparents never heard: email; bandwidth; bytes; unlimited talk, text, and data, etc.

If Grandma had ever heard me say dot com, she would have feared I had developed a speech impediment.

I wondered about new terms added to my grandparents’ vocabularies when electricity and telephones entered their lives.

For certain, they were quickly introduced to the terms electric bill and telephone bill.

Electricity brought to light (notice the pun) words like socket, light switch, meter reading, shock, outage, and plug and unplug.

Telephones made common such phrases as busy signal, party line, person-to-person, hang up, and please hold.

Such thoughts spiraled through my brain for several days as I vacuumed, pulled weeds, folded laundry, and waited for traffic lights to turn green.

Then, wouldn’t you know it? While reading a novel set in the 1920s, I found the following paragraph.

Life has all at once grown exponentially larger than I could have ever dreamed. Electricity, the automobile and now the telephone have made it clear that possibility is endless for an enterprising mind. I can only imagine what it  must have felt like to navigate a flat earth only to discover its roundness. (Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera)

How is it that I happened to read a book that dealt with the exact thoughts I had been having?

My thinking about electricity and telephone terminology could not have inspired me to head to the library and check out a book that featured the introduction of electricity and telephones into American life.

Could it?

I mean, the title, Call Your Daughter Home, does not scream, “Electricity and telephones!”

I borrowed that library book because my sister Pam recommended it to me.

Pam and I are linked, genetically, of course, but also by a preference for the same kinds of books. And our minds do tend to run along the same paths.

For example, I can be thinking about Aunt Betty, and Pam will call me and say, “I talked to Aunt Betty this morning.”

Maybe Pam had been thinking about electricity and telephones, then read Call Your Daughter Home, figured I too had been thinking about electricity and telephones, and gave me a call to recommend that book.

I don’t know.

How do these things work?

LIFE, AS WE KNOW IT

Like everyone else, Dan and I bide our time as we wait for the Covid-19 pandemic to end. We look forward to our lives returning to normal, whatever that means.

We have appointments to get our first Covid-19 vaccinations later this month.

On October 27, Dan had an aortic valve replacement.

Then, on February 1, he had spinal surgery, a laminectomy. This procedure is intended to relieve the nerve pressure that caused pain in his back, hips, and legs.

Therefore, Dan has spent much of the winter convalescing.

His back surgery restricted him from heavy lifting, and, until yesterday, I did all the driving.

During our 47-year marriage, Dan has done 99% of the driving when both of us are in the car. I don’t like to drive, and I appreciate Dan’s willingness to take the wheel.

Dan and I have differing approaches to driving. Dan’s goal is to arrive at his destination as quickly as possible. He takes the most direct route, gets angry at traffic lights that slow his progress, and critiques other drivers.

My goal, when I drive, is to arrive at my destination with as little stress as possible. This means I often take non-direct routes to avoid confusing roundabouts and the necessity of making left-hand turns in heavy traffic. I pay little attention to other drivers and don’t mind stopping at red lights. Those pauses give me a chance to put in the next CD in the audiobook I’m enjoying.

When I must act as Dan’s chauffeur, the patience of both of us is tested, but we persevere.

During our long marriage, we have learned to work out differences, work through conflicts, and work with each other, in general.

The operative word in that paragraph is work.

We enjoy watching birds eat from two feeders that hang off our back porch. Cardinals, sparrows, doves, and woodpeckers have entertained us during our forced semi-hibernation.

The birds ate together peacefully until yesterday when a flock of starlings descended upon our backyard. These big birds are aggressive and greedy. All other birds were driven away while these rude pigs of the bird world emptied both feeders before noon.

Today we bought a new feeder designed to discourage starlings. We also bought safflower seed, which starlings supposedly don’t like to eat.

We’ll see.

We haven’t returned to church on the weekends but are happy we can stream services.

I read a daily devotional from Mornings With Jesus. (I regularly get this book as a Christmas gift from my friend, Jan, and give it as a gift too.)

Dan has returned to his old hobby of creating string designs, and I am embroidering.

We read and watch a little television.

I do a bit of writing. (I will have an article published in the Boomers section of The Daily Journal on Saturday, March 6.)

Dan naps and waits for his back to heal.

The highlights of each week are visits from the kids and grandkids.

This is life, as we know it, during the winter of 2020/2021.

I THINK HE WAS RIGHT

My mother possessed a great sense of humor.

In other posts, I have written funny things about her:

  • Her use of the mixed metaphor, “grabbing the mule by the horns.”
  • Her goofy antics (pushing through Wal-Mart a cart full of reduced-price tennis shoes, thinking she was navigating her own cart).
  • Her tumble down the little hill in her back yard when shooing a squirrel away from her flower bed.
  • Her kitchen snafus (forgetting to serve the dressing she made for Thanksgiving dinner, and failing to prebake a pie crust before pouring in the cream filling).

In all these situations, I didn’t laugh at my mother. I laughed with her. She could see the humor in her own mistakes.

One day she and I were discussing some random topic, and Mom said, “Well, Jesus taught (such and such) . . . and I think he was right.”

After a few seconds, we both started laughing.

Of course whatever Jesus taught was right. He doesn’t need our affirmation of His words.

At least, in my mother’s and my opinion, He doesn’t.

Not everyone, however, agrees.

Many people today are eager to explain away or completely disregard Jesus’ teachings.

They also claim God’s moral laws outlined in the Bible no longer apply.

The writings of the Gospels, according to them, are partly fiction.

The admonitions about righteous living found in the Epistles were only for people who lived in the Apostle Paul’s day, they say.

All people choose someone or something to be the authority for their lives.

My mother and I chose the Bible.

What have you chosen?

STUNG

Many years ago I had a friend I’ll call Dottie.

Dottie and I shared several similarities.

I loved her sense of humor.

One day, Dottie said to me, “Well, I’m ready to die now.”

“How’s that?” I said.

“I pulled out my kitchen stove and cleaned behind it,” she said. “And I finally dealt with some underwear I had been soaking in a bucket in my garage for weeks. I hated the thought that anyone who came to clean my house after my death would think I was a slob.”

I laughed.

Dottie and I discussed recipes and our kids, and we talked a lot about the number one topic of women: losing weight.

I shared with Dottie that I had held onto a black skirt I had worn in the past but had “outgrown.” I was trying to eat reasonably and exercise so I could again wear that skirt.

Happily, I reached that goal and wore the skirt to work one day. I stopped by Dottie’s desk to share my success with her.

“Congratulations!” Dottie said. “Now that you’ve lost weight, you just need to do something with that hair of yours and you’ll be looking good!”

Dottie had a way of doing that. She would utter what sounded like a compliment and then turn around and slap you with her next comment.

I’m sure my hand flew to my hair when she said what she said.

“I think you should get a perm,” Dottie said.

“No!” I said. “I hate perms! My hair soaks up perm solution like a dry sponge absorbs water. I always wind up looking like Richard Simmons.”

“You need to see my hairdresser,” said Dottie. “She is fantastic. Let me make you an appointment for a perm. You’ll love it.”

The appointment was made, and Dottie and I planned to meet for lunch afterward.

I visited Dottie’s hairdresser.

My hair soaked up that perm solution like a dry sponge absorbs water. I looked like a curvy Richard Simmons.

I met Dottie at the restaurant right after my hair appointment. Her mouth dropped open when she saw me.

“Oh, Debbie!” she said. “That’s awful.”

She laughed her loudest laugh. I tried to laugh but couldn’t.

Encounters with Dottie often ended that way. She would be laughing, and I would be failing to see the humor in the situation.

I haven’t seen Dottie for years, and I don’t want to see her.

Before you judge me too harshly, allow me to say if I did see her, I would be kind. I’d ask about her kids and grandkids. I might even ask if she had pulled her kitchen stove out for a good cleaning lately.

But I would NOT suggest we get together and renew our friendship.

The middle knuckle of the middle finger of my right hand has a knot on it. The knot resulted from a wasp sting I suffered back in the summer while I was working in the yard.

It was a particularly painful sting, and it left me with that knotted knuckle.

I plan to be more careful as I do yard work this summer.

I hate being stung.