Coffee Chat: A New Season
It looks like a birthday cake doesn't it? And I suspect from the clearness of that brew it's tea, but that's okay with you isn't it? I bought a Peach Green Tea a couple of weeks ago on sale. I liked it well enough. I confess having had black teas all my life, a green tea tends to look 'weak' in my opinion but I know some really prefer it. I think it will make a lovely iced tea this summer. But that is another season isn't it?
I have seasons on the mind at the moment. There are all sorts in this world you know: spiritual, physical, natural, emotional. There are seasons of plenty and seasons of drought. There are age related seasons. There are seasons for prayer and for answered prayers. Right now I feel very strongly that this is a new season in my life but I haven't quite pinned it down to tell you what season that might be. It doesn't feel like a physical nor natural season. But there are, as with all seasons, little signs of the new season.
I've been unable for nearly two weeks to make any headway at all with Swagbucks. I have counted on that small earnings each month but as of right now I'm not even one tenth of the way to the next gift card and this month is nearly done. I tried hard last week but I missed the daily window for the work to go quickly and smoothly. We spent a whole morning and portion of the afternoon away from home one day. Then we had unexpected company come in to stay and it's just rude to sit for an hour or two on the computer while a guest is with you, or so I think. I tried to work while he and John visited all the next day/afternoon but it was no use.
The day company left I was ready to jump right on Swagbucks and did and my computer locked down. I mean to the point that Windows wouldn't even open! I worked all day long with the thing and finally was able to restore the previous settings. I thought I understood what caused it, but it was an all day process to get it fixed. By then it was end of the day and time for Shabat. I've made it a point to do no surveys nor Swagbucks on Sabbath, so no point in even trying.
I am convinced I'm meant to let that go for now. I've already stopped doing NFS surveys due to some crediting problems that went uncorrected despite repeated requests. John stopped drinking Coke products and switched to Diet Rite. Coke points are rare birds these days and I finally entered in all that Tammy sent me. I have points to spend for a $10 gift card, but any new earnings will be extremely slow to add up to that amount again... these were all my little earnings venues besides the booth which is more miss than hit. So I'm wondering just what is in my near future for earning pin money?
I've felt as well that God wants to provide things for me. It's not a matter of not being able to afford anything, because there's been a little money to spare of late (and there's another 'seasonal change to speak of in a moment), but each time I go to spend on something I know I must have (like shorts for this summer), I feel a strong sense of the need to wait. So I wait. And lo and behold, out of the blue I am given just what I need. Just today I got a text from someone saying she had a pair of new shorts that didn't suit her but she felt would suit ME and so she was putting them in the mail! That's just one example of many such incidents of late. You all know how often I've been 'given' something I needed in the clothing department this year alone.
So as I said, our money is another area of seasonal change I've noticed. We've had some challenging years over the past ten years but three years ago we told God we were going to trust Him in every area of our lives. Immediately we were hit with a series of expenses that lowered our bank balance and challenged us to trust despite the circumstances. We trimmed outgo, we instituted new saving methods, we changed our grocery shopping, we did it all. Our balance just insisted on hanging in there at that all time new low level and did not rise. When the county didn't give out raises again last year, we sighed, hung our heads and changed some more things. Every time we prayed over our finances, John would pray that God would 'refill our reservoirs'. And then we got hit with that medical crisis last Spring. I told John at that time, "I guess if we're going to trust God in this, we're just going to have to dig in and trust him regardless of how many hits we take." John agreed and we did what we had to do. That meant we continued to trim outgo wherever we could and we kept our faith steady when we had to take out a loan to pay a bulk of medical bills that hit all at once and we've had to hold hard to faith when bills came in and had to be paid a bit at the time.
When I renewed my health insurance at the end of last year, though the coverage remained the same, my premiums rose by half again as much as they'd been. We shook our heads and said to each other, "We've gone this far. We won't quit trusting now." John has been taking half shifts here and there, no more than two a month which helped cover the extra costs we've faced this year. That alone was a blessing. Then we were given a monetary gift which enabled us to pay off that loan and incidentally cover two more medical bills that showed up around the same time. I was able to put a little money in savings and refresh that account. Most recently we've been watching our bank balance slowly rise. Our 'reservoirs' are refilling!
And there was that unexpected company. I know of at least two visitations that are upcoming and it will necessarily mean I need to be prepared, but somehow I feel it's important to get that guest room set up so that it's not only comfortable but permanently ready to be used at a moment's notice. Considering that we only seldom have company and the current spate is unusual I don't quite understand this intuition but it's there all the same.
There are some nice changes coming my way, namely my son and his wife and child are moving back to Georgia and should be within easy visiting distance once more. So there's that sense of anticipation. Mama should also be moving into a mother-in -law suite in my brother's new home sometime in the next couple of months. Change may not exactly be occurring in my life but it's swirling all about me, and it is going to generate changes in my life soon.
Anyway, all of these things combined just make me feel sure that I've moved into a new season. True it's all a series of unrelated things which somehow feel as though they are relative, but it's as clear to me as the new buds and new leaves outdoors. A new season has come.
About our guest, it was John's cousin who stopped in. The cousin's work is seasonal. He works at this and that all through his 'off season' but every few years he takes some of his savings and hits the road for a few weeks in early Spring. He visits this person and that and plays golf along the way and when he's tired of travel he heads home, just in time to begin his usual job. Personally I think the way he travels sounds like fun. I'd just replace golf with visits to antique shops and thrift stores on my version of the wandering tourist and probably toss in a few visits to historical points of interest, lol.
So this was his year for visits and we were surprised to find him upon our doorstep, but pleased. He stayed here. We weren't able to offer him accommodation when he was last down our way five or six years ago. Now here's where I got caught out. I'd put cleaning the guest room on my list for the week. I'd even felt I should clear it up last Sunday but I put it off and did so again on the next two days when it came to mind. Well, I should have minded myself. The floor could have used a good solid vacuuming and the room wanted a good straightening up. Truth told, even with stripping the bed and remaking it, vacuuming and picking up overall took a mere 1 hour Friday after he left. One hour, sigh. That didn't make it perfectly nice but it made it perfectly presentable. I have a bad habit of using that room as a catchall when I'm clearing out other areas of the house. I have a small pile of things that must go to the shed now and I mean to take them out there before this day is over.
I also noted something I'd paid attention to when we had our last guests (Sam and Bess in December). There's no place to put a suitcase so that one might unpack what is needed readily. There's no dresser or vanity in that room either so dressing is hit and miss if a mirror is needed. I'd simply forgotten that until I noted Tom's bag sitting on the bed and realized our guest must have had to set it in the floor at night. Now I simply loathe things on the floor in the dark of the night and I consider it doubly dangerous in a strange house. It's such a safety issue! So that must be remedied.
John had noted during the visit in November when Katie and Matt were down, that there's no hook in the bathroom where one might hang clothes. He'd said he wanted to remedy that. He'd also though some narrow shelves at the sink might be a help, you know a place to put a toothbrush or comb. And just Wednesday when we were out we looked at hooks and discussed the merits of this one and the price of that one and decided to wait a little longer, sigh. Well...I have rued all our putting things off this past week!
If I failed in those areas, I did okay in others. John had just said to me this past week that he felt I was much more relaxed about company. Now truth told, the last guests we have had happened to be very easy guests who didn't expect nor demand much and were very familiar with the ways of the household. But we'd never had his cousin to stay before and I was anxious about it. However, because of John's remark earlier in the week about how pleased he'd been to find me so relaxed with recent guests I felt it due him for me to keep my anxiety under wraps and just act cool as a cucumber. I can't begin to tell you how wearing that was.
It was hard work, and I mean that honestly. Especially when you consider that I was pretty much planning meals on the fly. I'd not taken all the meat from the freezer to thaw earlier in the week as I ought to have done, but just two chicken breasts. No matter how you look at it, two regular sized chicken breasts (these are ones I cut myself from whole chickens so definitely not the super sized sort) are going to feed two and my mind simply would not think how to stretch them. I did have the remains of a corned beef and a turkey breast roast I'd cooked early in the week in the fridge. I'd meant these to be sandwich meats and that's just what they were. Despite my desire to do the Southern thing and overfeed my guest, I reined myself in and just served meals such as we'd normally have. That meant sandwich suppers and a regular, not company style, dinner at midday. In the end, I guess it all looked relaxed enough to John but yes, my mind did all sorts of shenanigans.
Our guest being John's cousin, I let him attend to conversation and entertainment and such while I worked out meals. I don't know any of the family besides Tom and his mother, Mary and John's brother George, so simply listening to their conversation was all I really could do beyond polite comments here and there. And when they weren't discussing family they talked over golf (not my forte), mechanics (intelligible but not my area either) and guitar (sigh, I hear all about that subject all the time so it was nice to let someone else listen on that one!).
But there was one last area of anxiety for me. Our guest stayed over until Friday morning which was the morning John returned to work. That meant I was going have to host on my own until he took his leave and that really made me anxious but what else to do? In the end, it went very well and I felt mightily rewarded as he said on his way out of the door, "You guys are nice people." I told John later when we talked what he'd said and added that was a high compliment as far as I was concerned.
We didn't do a thing over Easter weekend. I was a bad Gramma and didn't even follow through on my previous plans to send cards and small tokens to the grandchildren. Katie made it plain she thought Taylor too young to even acknowledge it. I wasn't sure what Bess meant to do with Josh. And my mind had ideas for all the others but...I thought of it while we were out on Wednesday doing errands but I had a low blood sugar episode which took me by surprise. Unpleasant surprise. It shattered my thinking to be honest and I forgot all about purchasing anything for the grandchildren and simply came home...and then Tom showed up at the door and that was that. You know those commercials where the tops of folks head blows off and there's purple smoke? That felt like my head Wednesday. What I really wanted to do was go crawl in the bed and sleep an hour or three. What I did instead was worry about what to make for supper and try hard not to doze off in my chair while we were visiting.
I told John that I hope, just hope, that perhaps next year, we can do something with some of the children for Easter. I'd love to have an old fashioned Easter with an egg hunt and a rabbit cake (although not a pink inside rabbit cake with blood shot blue eyes, lol). But that is a year away and can wait for it's right time if it's to be...
Easter was a fun time as a child. We got small Easter baskets and I'm happy to see that my children seem intent on following that tradition rather than this outlandish gifting that seems to be pushed as the current trend. Katie related the horror story last year of standing behind a woman at Target who argued over a $.01 difference in price...while she was spending $450 on Easter gifts! I simply cannot even imagine going that big at Christmas, forget Easter. I just plain prefer the simplicity and fun of Easter as we knew it growing up.
There was, of course, always the coveted hope we'd get the already packaged in cellphone sorts of Easter Baskets. Well we did one year and what a huge disappointment that was! Colored cellophane paper merely hid a variety of cheap chocolates and cheaper toys. The second most hoped for item was a solid chocolate rabbit and not the hollow one. That one was hit and miss. Coloring hard boiled eggs with food coloring, and trying hard to double dip and use white crayons or rubber bands to make designs on them was always a fun Saturday afternoon or early Sunday morning activity. Oh those eggs were so pretty! We'd eat hard boiled eggs for breakfast and deviled eggs as part of our dinner. Then there was hiding eggs, more hard boiled ones of course, and those packaged marshmallow fondant eggs with brightly colored sugar shells, and now and then the rare chocolate egg. I still remember when Granny got the plastic eggs that could be refilled and we enjoyed finding them but she learned quick enough that a warm Easter with chocolate filled eggs was bound to be a disaster and resorted to pastel M&Ms or Robin's Eggs in those. Oh the egg hunt was so much fun!
That and the new clothes, which we wore first for Easter Sunday and then all through the rest of the spring and summer to church. Do you all remember the joys of Dotted Swiss dresses in pastel colors? Lovely dresses in pastel colors with a white sweater or light linen jacket, which was never quite enough as Easter could be quite cold and often was. Do you remember white patent shoes? Little white Straw purses? Those lovely little Easter bonnets? And the boys always had new suits or pants and shirts with ties and sports jackets. I can still seem them with their hair all slicked down, looking like little men...
There was only one thing I really, really dreaded about Easter. The annual permanent.
My hair has always been fine and stick straight. My mother wanted me to have curls. She'd already strained herself in putting my hair up in curlers with Dippity Do. Then there was the experimental solutions of beer and sugar water. Being also tender headed made combing out these hairdos a true horror story for me. They tried pin curls and foam curlers and those horrid brush curlers that poked and stuck you. Finally it came down to a permanent wave and so each Spring, I had my hair clipped, pulled, set, stinky solution poured over and rinsing and then more clipping and poof! I looked like a French Poodle with a topknot...and felt about like one as well. I recall my first perm and truly my face in the photo is as miserable as I felt. It was not enough to be a plump little girl, when my mother longed for a slender waif...No, I was a plump little girl with really bad hair in her effort to bend my hair to her control. Ack...long way off the happy holiday memory!
Ironically in the 1980s I let a friend and hairdresser convince me to have my hair permed and I wore it that way for years upon years, until John finally begged me to stop. It was a good permanent, not a home perm gone wrong which is what I'd worn for years on end as a child. Still it was time to let that hair style go and so I had it all cut off into a pixie sort of style that John loathed nearly as much. Over the years he's come to terms with the fact that my hair doesn't look well long and I am happy with it short but feminine. Hence my current pixie like style. I like this haircut so much I refused to go through the annual growing out of the hair this past autumn and just stuck with the short style. I have not regretted it even once.
We stayed home from church Sunday. There were a couple of reasons. Number one was the overwhelming crush of folks that were expected to show up. If John had been off Friday we'd have gone to Friday evening services. As it was, church is pretty crowded in any given Sunday service but it's ridiculous for a special holiday. John worked Friday and there was no rest for him at all. He was so worn out Saturday night that he slept until nearly 9am on Sunday. Our ride to church is about an hour and we would never have left in time without a huge rush out of the door. I guess that rest was far more important than service. These long shifts really are hard on him. So we had a quiet morning at home with our traditional holiday breakfast of baby sausages with cinnamon rolls.
I was busy enough with housework Easter morning but we stopped at service time and listened to the live stream from our church. That was nice. I stopped work and came into the living room and sat and listened. The music service was awesome. The pastor's mike and the sound system were not nearly so well in tune as they might have been but I caught enough of his words to piece out his message.
Still, Saturday is Sabbath for us and Sunday is a routine work day. I was determined to make the day count. The rain stopped me going out to work in the yard or to try painting. So I culled books, which has been needed. I knew when I pulled that mere dozen from my bookcases a month ago that I really needed to do this task again and in earnest. So that was a job for Sunday. It wasn't easy but I was honest. There were books I have had on my shelf for years. Unread, yet. Books I haven't touched or been interested in since my 30's. Books that no longer suit my heart or life. At least 3 dozen books later...I actually had empty spaces on all the shelves. There are still more books I'd like to cull, namely the Grace Livingston Hill books. I love that author but some of the books are not favorites and have never become favorites. However, I sincerely want to read every single one of the less familiar books again and will cull as I go. If they don't speak to me I shall let them go then. And yes, I've just set myself the task of a powerful lot of reading.
I also cleaned out my clothes. It amuses me that now, having lived with fewer clothes, it suddenly felt I had a massive excess and yet, I still have less than one third the clothes I used to have. First I cleaned out the house clothes drawer. I discovered that some tanks that were too snug last spring when I cleaned out the closet, now fit perfectly, so I moved them back to the closet. Then I cleared the sweater drawer and closet. If it was too big or hadn't been worn in the past year, it went into the give away pile. I put things back in an orderly manner, culled a few purses and a scarf or two that I simply haven't worn and won't. I didn't put together outfits as I'd wanted to do, because all the trying on of things took way longer than I'd anticipated and it was dark and gloomy outdoors. Even this little bit of work with my wardrobe makes me aware that there are a few things I could seriously use. Black pants and perhaps a white shirt for instance...Basics really. But I'm going to see what I can make of what I've got, first. Sort of like menu planning, just start with what you have and see what you might do. Some outfits will recycle from last year...like this one. The skirt still fits well and I've a white tank and the blue jeans jacket to wear with it at present.
and this blue shirt still fits although it's looser... I keep hanging on to that orange purse, which I love but the straps are so worn it embarrasses me to carry it. I have looked high and low for belts, leather straps, etc that would match the purse. I think I need to just retire it and look for another tangerine colored bag.
This week I wore the blue shirt with a pale gray tank under it and added silver accessories with my brown bag. It looked nice that way as well. So that is two outfits for the season. Now to plan out others. Of course, I hope to make things look fresh and new to me even if they are the same things I've been wearing!
I had a rather large 'to do' list this week and I guess over half of it is now done, but there are still a few items upon it that I really want to attend to. So I suppose I must get up and get busy once more and send you on your way to tend to your own to do lists. See you all later!