Blogging 101, Day 16: Make a Prompt Personal

(Today’s assignment: publish a post based on your own, personalized take on today’s Daily Prompt)

Today’s prompt is Ring of Fire.  Here’s the description:

Do you love hot and spicy foods or do you avoid them for fear of what tomorrow might bring?

Hot Lips

It was early September.  We had just moved from Michigan to Pennsylvania, new territory for us.  The weather was so different! In Michigan, there was already frost on the pumpkins. We had gathered as much as we could from our garden, mostly the root vegetables that didn’t need to be canned or frozen. 

In Pennsylvania, however it was still summer-hot.  People were harvesting tomatoes, corn, and a variety of other tasty plants. Because we were new in the church family we had come to work for, many new friends shared their harvests with us.  They were generous, bringing bags, boxes and baskets of fresh produce.  I canned a lot of it, and we loved using all that goodness in our meals every day. 

One day, a friend brought me a basket of tomatoes and peppers.  “Theyre sweet peppers,” she said.  “I sure am glad you like them, because we have more than we can handle!”

I cooked up a big pot of stew that afternoon, filling it up with fresh tomatoes and peppers.  It smelled absolutely wonderful. However, after I had cut and chopped and seeded, I noticed that the palms of my hands were starting to burn. You have to understand that I was pretty young, inexperienced, and had never dealt much with fresh peppers before. 

When Terry got home, I was holding my hands under cold water. “What on earth–did you burn yourself?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “After I got the stew going, I just started to feel my hands getting really hot.”

We tried to figure out what it was, but couldn’t. 

Until, that is, we sat down to eat. We each took a mouthful of the stew at the same time.  If you can picture us, sitting across the table from each other, looking at each other as our eyes grew wider and started to gush tears, our faces turning crimson, then both of us rushing to the sink where we spit out the stew and ran back to the table for water,water, water!  

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When he could finally talk again, Terry said, “Well, I guess we know why your hands are burning!  Didn’t you know those were hot peppers?”

“She said they were sweet!  I’ve never grown peppers before, how was I to know?”

Right about then, the phone rang.  It was my friend. “Linda, I just realized that I put a handful of hot peppers in that basket.  Just wanted you to know, they’re the long thin ones. You only need a little tiny bit when you’re cooking, and make sure you wear gloves when you chop them–and make sure you clean out all the seeds.  Enjoy!”

 

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/ring-of-fire/

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/101-make-a-prompt-personal/

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Daily Prompt: Pride and Joy

(What’s Your most prized Possession?)

I’ve never had an urge to have lots of stuff.  There are some things I would not want to give up:  My piano, my organ, all my knitting and quilting equipment, my music center, my photograph albums.  Of course, my most valuable possession, if you want to call it that, would be my faith in God. Second to that, my husband, children, and grandchildren.They keep me supplied with lots of pride and joy.

I don’t want to write about any of those things, though. What came to mind, as I thought about this topic, is that I’m really proud of my age.  I’m almost 67.  That means I’ve been through all the stages of life except the final one, when I will go to meet my Savior.

In the meantime, I’m very comfortable with my greying hair, saggy baggy skin, facial lines, and turkey wattles.  I just figure that aging isn’t an option;Image it’s not for sissies, but you may as well enjoy it the best you can.  There are lots of good things that come with age.  See, we have to be attractive when we’re young, because we’re so dumb about life (even though we don’t think we are!) that youthful charm is the only thing that attracts people to us!

With age comes  an acceptance that life isn’t perfect, and that’s ok.  With age, if you marry and have children, usually comes a grandchild or two.  That’s well worth waiting for!  And even if you don’t get to be a grandma, you probably have nieces and nephews, or close friends with children whose lives you can enrich.

With age, you get to sit down more, and no one gets upset.  You even get away with outrageous ways of dressing or doing your hair, and people will smile at you. When you’re a teen dressing outrageously, you’re just rebellious.

With age, grannies can enjoy being around handsome, engaging young men without anyone worrying that you’re trying to attract one of them.  You just get to enjoy the fun of a healthy friendship.  In fact, you can be friends with itty bitty children or the very ancient. All the lines that society draws between the generations tend to fade as you age.

No one gets upset if you forget things–even if you forget what you forgot  🙂 Image

People will joke about your failing memory, and offer to go look for your glasses or your hearing aids or your cane. They help you up, they help you down, they offer you their chairs.  See how useful old people are?  We make the young feel invincible!

I find that my grey hair is a great asset to me in my counseling practice. People come into my office and see this greying, round little granny and think, “Well, she’s been around the block a few times.  Maybe she really can help us.”

And of course, everyone likes to make jokes about old people. The Lockhorns have been favorites of mine since I was very young, and had no idea that all the jokes were absolutely true!  Here’s one of my favorites:  Poor Loretta always taking it on the chin.  Every once in a while she gets him good, though, and that makes me happy

 Image“So what is this really about?” you may ask.  Why am I writing about aging as being my pride and joy?   Well, let’s see.

For one thing, I’ve made it this far fairly intact and with a functioning mind and body.  I’ve had a few parts removed and some replaced, but I’m getting along pretty well.  That’s something to be proud of.  I’m still working, and most of the time enjoying myself doing so. I work as an independent contractor, so my hours are mine to choose, and I take off when I need to.  I can still cook, clean, and do my laundry. My husband has taken over the grocery shopping since he retired, and that’s just fine with me.  He’s more willing to spend time shopping for the bargains than I am, and he does a good job.

I no longer feel the need to be involved in every single thing.  Time was, not only was I involved, but I was also usually in charge. Don’t need to do that now. Don’t WANT to do that now.  Don’t need to spend the livelong day planning out everything that needs to be accomplished, then running like made to check everything off my list.

I think my biggest joy is learning contentment.  That doesn’t mean I’m delighted and/or passive about things I don’t agree with; it just means I can go ahead and be content, joyful if you will, in spite of circumstances.  I’ve learned that life is what you make it. As Abraham Lincoln said, most people are just about as happy as they choose to be.  As I age, I’ve chosen contentment more often than I ever did  back in the day.

And as I grow older, I grow closer to heaven. When you’re young, you think more along the lines of all you want to do and experience before you die.  I’m not being morbid at all when I say that I’m ready to go;  it’s just that death holds no dread or fear for me now, and I look forward to seeing the Lord Who has walked with me through these 67 years.  Joy.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/pride-and-joy/

Blogging 101, Day 15: Content Loves Design

.Fun assignment today.  For the two years I’ve been writing my first blog, I’ve been telling myself that I need to investigate all the neat tools and options available at WordPress.com. So–here I go!

All right, so I played around with some color changes, font changes, and a new header. My theme is “Sorbet,” so I figured my new header is appropriate.  I’m not sure, though, that the other changes are going to show up because I haven’t purchased the customizer program, and probably won’t.  When I have a little more time, I’ll continue to play around with features  that are available with the theme–or maybe I’ll change the theme again–love being able to do that so easily.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/101-content-loves-design/

 

Blogging 101, Day 14: Deeper into the Blogosphere

(Today’s assignment: spend some time reading through the topics you follow, and follow five more blogs and/or topics that intrigue you as you read.)

Five more?  Oh boy.  I’m already behind in my blog-reading. BUT!  I started this, and I will finish it according to directions!  I’ve already learned so much, and met some cool new friends.  So here goes!

New blogs I’m following: 

http://betsybeadhead.com/

http://nathanmillican.com/

http://mikeseaman.wordpress.com/

http://yumfoodrecipes.wordpress.com/

http://offdutymom.wordpress.com/

I tried going for a little more variety this time around, and I think I’ve done pretty well 🙂

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/101-deeper-into-the-blogosphere/

Blogging 101, Day Thirteen: Build a Better Blogroll

(Today’s assignment: share links you love with a widget.)

Easy one today.  I know how to do this!  I think I’ll go with the grid this time, though, which shows pictures of the writers or whatever they’ve used as their profile picture.  I’m a visual person.  It helps me to see faces that I can connect with names and content. 

All done!

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Can’t Sleep

This is what happens when I can’t sleep. I write.

Linda's Bible Study

Ah, sleep. One never appreciates the beauty of sleep until the years begin to pile up. With the years, I’ve also gained achey bones, jumpy legs, and for the last five months, an awful sinus problem.  It’s pretty hard to sleep when you can’t breathe.

This whole mess started in January, when my Germany family came to stay for a week. It was wonderful to see them, so I won’t send them cold germs in an envelope or anything. A couple of the kids picked up nasty colds from relatives they’d seen in Ohio, and guess who found those germs.

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In the last maybe ten years or so, my colds almost always result in swollen tissue up high in my nose. Can’t breathe through my nose, and it’s not pretty. Mouth-breathing is something one should do only in private, and not in front of a mirror! So as the cold…

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Duke (my dad’s story)

I got to thinking about my dad’s stories, and this is one I particularly loved.  I worked on it several years ago, but have never submitted it anywhere.  Afraid of rejection, I guess.  I hope you’ll enjoy it.

Tip was a mutt. She wasn’t pretty at all. She was dirty white with brown saddles across her skinny back; her face was mottled with brown spots.  She had red-brown eyes, small and often bloodshot. Her muzzle was pointy, with white whiskers under her bottom lip. She had a deep chest, and her legs were long and suited for the wild runs across the desert that she loved so much.bShe had a long, narrow tail, brown, except for the white tip.

She had three loyalties.  The first was to John, who walked with her across the dusty flatlands as they hunted to fill the pot for supper. Usually they managed to scare up a jack-rabbit zigzagging across the brush.  Tip always caught up, barking with ridiculous ferocity as she cornered her prey. John would finish off the terrified rabbit with one shot from his rifle, and supper would be on the table within a couple of hours.

Tip’s second loyalty was to John’s mother, Ellen.  She went to Ellen when John was in school, looking for someone to pull the cactus thorns from her pads or pick the burrs out of her hide.  Ellen was the food source when Tip didn’t feel like hunting. She could always be counted on for table scraps, however meager, and she kept Tip’s water bowl full during the long, hot desert days. She was kind. Tip would have killed to protect her.

Tip’s third loyalty was to her pup, Duke. Ornery, mean as a snake, unfriendly to all comers, Duke lived under the shadow of Tip’s protection. Because John loved Tip, he tolerated Duke. But John could never break through Duke’s reserve and dislike. The dog refused to be petted, would never learn to hunt or follow obediently and quietly. Many times, he had frightened off rabbits and other small game with his aggressive barking and snarling before John could get close enough for a shot. John was frustrated by the animal, and more than a little scared of him. He was mean, a loner, and a puzzle to the boy whose dog was his closest companion.

John lived in a dugout in the Utah desert. The roof was sod, domed over the inside of the dugout just enought that you knew it was there as you approached. Inside, it was cool in summer and warm in winter, but those were about the only luxuries. John’s dad had moved his family there from California shortly after the crash of 1929, bitter at his financial losses. His search for work kept him away from home for days at a time, but John never minded. He loved the desert; for a twelve-year-old boy, it was paradise. He had an old pony, a good dog, a gun, and all the time in the world.

“Where you headed, Son?” ask Ellen as John pulled on his boots.

“Well, I thought I’d check some of my traps, see they’re all where they should be. I’ll take Tip with me. Maybe we’ll scare up a rabbit.”

“That’d be fine. We’ve had no meat for three days now, and I imagine you’ve had enough corn mush. Rabbit would be fine–just fine.  Your dad brought some fresh onions and potatoes from the farm market. A few carrots, and we’ll eat like kings tonight. Don’t be gone after dark, and pay attention to your feet.”

“I know, Mom. That’s what the boots are for–rattlers never strike much higher than the knees. Don’t worry so much. I know what to do. I’ll be fine.  I always am.”

Ellen sighed as she watched her oldest son hunch down through the low entrance to the dugout, carrying his rifle and whistling for Tip. He slung a game bag over his shoulder and under one arm, sure he would either find a rabbit in one of his traps or scare one out of the brush. As Ellen watched him go, she thought of all the normal things a boy would be doing in the city of her girlhood. Trapping rabbits for supper would surely not have been one of his activities.

John settled into a comfortable, mile-gulping stride across the dry sod. Tip had come running at his whistle and walked beside him, her keen eyes constantly searching for suspicious movement in the brush.

“Hope that rotten old Duke stays away today, Tip. Wish I knew what’s the matter with that fool dog. Never did nuthin’ to him to make him ornery. He’s just pure red-eye mean, that’s all. Never there when you want him, always in the way when you don’t want him. Contrary mutt.”

Tip glanced up at John as he spoke, looking for all the world as if she understood and wanted to defend her pup. Tip was such a good dog. Loyal, obedient, a good hunter; she could run like the wind, but always came back to the whistle. Not like Duke, who ignored every attempt to train him to usefulness. Sometimes, John was sure, Duke glared at him with hatred and contempt.

John had learned to scan the ground around him as well as the near distance as he walked. He was alert to all the sounds and smells of the desert, and loved everything he saw. Long practice had made him comfortable with the isolation, and he actually enjoyed the solitude. It left him free to think, with no interruptions from younger brothers and sisters.

It wasn’t long before John and Tip came across the first of several traps he’d set. It was empty, so John checked the ground around for tracks and found nothing to lead him off on a rabbit chase. He had half-a-dozen traps, the spring type that clamped shut on an unwary critter’s leg. John always hoped he would find a trapped animal quickly. He took no pleasure in causing fear and pain. Life was tough on the desert. You had to survive, and John had become the main meat-provider for his family.

Tip and John continued to walk, checking the traps as they went and finding them all empty. Some days were like that, and all John could do was hope to find food on the way back home. They had one more trap to check when John’s sharp ears began to pick up a high-pitched whimpering. All his senses on the alert, John spoke sharply to Tip, bringing her to heel. He couldn’t identify the noise. It didn’t sound like any rabbit he’d ever trapped–sounded more like a hurt dog. As that thought crossed his mind, John groaned and kicked angrily at the ground.

“Tip, I bet that stupid pup of yours has gone and trapped himself. I wondered where he was all morning. Usually at least shows up for chow. What an eejit. I wonder how bad he’s caught.”

As John and Tip neared a patch of brush and rock, the whining became more frantic. Tip had run ahead and was barking wildly. She ran back to John, circled him, barked once, and took off again. She was just as frantic as the trapped animal, and John began to run as he came close enough to see that it was for sure Duke, his right foreleg caught just above his paw. He was lying very still, whining piteously. His rib cage heaved with his labored breathing. He was in a lot of pain.

John approaced the trap carefully. Duke was a mean dog to begin with, never letting anyone come near him. John wasn’t about to be bitten trying to help this ornery mutt. Duke growled, low and menacing, as John hunkered down to look the situation over. Tip stood over Duke, occasionally licking his caught leg.

John gingerly reached out his hand toward the trap, nervous about putting it within reach of Duke’s muzzle. The dog bared his teeth and raised his neck fur, but made no effort to bite. He watched John with unblinking eyes as the boy worked at the release lever, and when the trap popped open, the dog quivered in increased pain. He made no move to get up.

John stood, scratching his head. “Now what? Do I try to carry you? You’d probably take my arm off if I tried, you miserable excuse for a dog. Shoot! How do you help someone who’s so blamed mean?” John stooped and tried to scoop his arms under the quivering dog. Sure enough, Duke growled and snapped.

“Okay, that’s it. I don’t care if you die out here. If you won’t let me help you, you’re just on your own. Come on, Tip.”

As  John strode away, hot tears of frustration and remorse choked him and scalded his eyes. Why should he cry for such an ungrateful critter, anyway? Dumb mutt didn’t know enough to appreciate help. Let him be.

John carried his gun in his right hand, his left swinging freely as he turned his steps back toward the dugout. Tip hadn’t come right away, but she would. She didn’t want to leave Duke, but her first love was John. Soon she came trotting up beside him, bumping against his right leg to let him know she was back. Then, startling his heart right up into his throat, John felt the warm wet muzzle of another dog pushing against his left palm.  He walked straight ahead, letting the tears flow and releasing the lump in his throat.

He and Tip and Duke headed home.