My Favorite Things

Handmade Tales

Automation has made it possible to produce so many objects — from bread to shoes — without the intervention of human hands (assuming that pressing a button doesn’t count). What things do you still prefer in their traditional, handmade version?


It used to be less expensive to sew a dress than to buy a ready-made.  Not any more.  If you watch the sale racks and know your colors and styles, you can make out like a bandit. I love getting a $100-dollar-outfit for $5.  Of course, I have to wait until the right season rolls around to wear it, but still.  So no, I don’t prefer handmade to storebought when it comes to clothes. 

Hmmmm.  Quilts.  Handmade quilts are just incredible.  And they’ve become an art form, so there are some truly unique and wonderful quilts out there that you would never put on your bed.  They’re for hanging on walls and displaying in galleries.  Yes, handmade quilts are better.

Traditional knitting.  I love handknitted sweaters, afghans, scarves.  I love the knitting process.  It’s relaxing, soothing, and restful.  There’s someting about the rhythm of plain knitting that helps my tense muscles loosen up.  I enjoy complicated knitting, too, because I love seeing the pattern take shape.  I love the feel of the yarn in my fingers.  There are so many really cool yarns out there now, lots more variety than when I started out so many years ago. Yes, definitely, handknit over mass-produced.

Bread.  I’ve already rhaphsodized about homemade bread here so I won’t repeat myself.  Nothing better in the whole world. Yes, absolutely handmade wins over store-bought. 

Apple pie. Chocolate chip cookies. Counted cross-stitch. Crocheted doilies. Needlepoint.  I made a doily that looks a lot like this one.  Doilies always make me think of snowflakes.  

Thank you notes.  Nothing will ever be better than a hand-written, personal, on-paper-in-an-envelope-with-a-stamp thank you note.  Writing them is an art. We’re losing it, and that’s sad. 

There are some things that technology just can’t replace, and I hope we value those things as we should.  I grew up in an age when it was still very common to can and freeze produce from your own garden; to sew your own clothes, to bake your own bread, to write personal letters with pen and ink, to have flowers grown by hand in your own garden.  I know there are still lots of people who do these things.  May we pass them on to our children and grandchildren. 

Long live handmade!



190 Days Later

Back on January 21st, we asked you to predict what day #211 would be like. Well, July 30th is that day — how have your predictions held up so far? If you didn’t reply to the prompt at the time, is this year turning out to be as you’d expected?


I wasn’t doing Daily Prompts in January, so I didn’t make any predictions.  I’ve lived long enough to know how useless it is to try to make either predictions or resolutions.

So here’s something I didn’t expect:  Dryness!

No, we’ve had plenty of rain this summer.  Not that kind of dryness.  Another sort altogether, which if you had the kind of hair and skin I did for most of my life, you’ll understand.

I grew up in the Clearasil and Noxema era.  It was about all they had to offer for those of us who  suffered–and I don’t use that word lightly–with oily skin, oily hair, and acne.  We were also told not to eat chocolate and spicy foods.  No chocolate?  What’s the point of living??

I really did have a bad case of acne.  Often had the big hard cysts around my jawline and the back of my hairline. I even sprouted a chin cyst the size of an almond on my wedding day.  Good grief.

So you learn to cope.  You wash your oily, lank hair every day, even though you mother warns you that you’re going to wash the life right out of your hair. Pssshh.  That didn’t happen. You use scrubs and facials and all sorts of harsh stuff on your poor face, only to be told years later that you have sensitive skin and should use only the most gentle cleansers.  Live and learn, right?

Well, it’s all drying up.  Finally.  I have to use facial cream, especially on my forehead and around my eyebrows, which have a tendency to be scaly.  I wash my hair maybe every other day, which is a lot like being on vacation 🙂 And to top it off, my hair has gone from string-straight to curly over the last few years.  All I do now is wash it, scrunch it with mousse or whatever, let it dry, and fluff it out.  Amazing, after all the years I went from bobbie pins (1950’s) to rollers (1960’s) to hot curlers (’70’s and ’80’s) and perms (off and on all through the years) to round brushes and blow dryers (’90’s to now). The time I spent then, compared to the time I spend now, is waaaay different, and I love it. 

And I don’t get zits any more, either. Usually.

hot rollers     Fashion brunnette with hair rollers

Normal? What’s That?

Back to Life
After an especially long and exhausting drive or flight, a grueling week at work, or a mind-numbing exam period — what’s the one thing you do to feel human again?


Just had a very busy long weekend. I wouldn’t call it grueling, just very busy and mostly in a positive way. We had the grandkids on Friday and Saturday, and that was just fun. We don’t do this terribly often, and I’m always reminded why God made it so the young women are the moms of little kids. I had four of my own, and I don’t remember being that tired after just two days. They’re extremely well-behaved, not a problem in any way. They’re just busy 🙂

Sunday we were privileged to hear David Gibbs of the Christian Legal Association speak in the morning church service. Wonderful sermon, clearly spoken.

Yesterday, Monday, Terry and I drove out to Gettysburg. About ten years ago, several other women and I formed a very tight bond over the internet.  I’d met two of them face to face, but never had met Judy.  We’re spread all across the country, and it’s not easy to get together.  We met Judy and her husband in Gettysburg, and had a long lunch while we enjoyed seeing each other face-to-face for the first time. Perfect weather, good company, good food, good times. 

But it’s a 2 1/2 drive there, another 2 1/2 hours back, and I was very tired. A good tired, but still.  I’m not a kid any more. 

For me, the one thing that sets me back to rights is my own bed, my own pillow, and a good book to fall asleep to.  Luxury. bed

I don’t ask for much 🙂


Been There, Done That!

Road Tripping

‘Tis the season for road trips — if time and money were out of the equation, what car-based adventure would you go on? (If you don’t or can’t drive, any land-based journey counts.)


Here’s the road trip we took in May and June.

You can see pictures and read about our trip here and >here<a href="; starting on May 25 and ending on June 9.

Who’s Your BFF?

On Bees and Efs
Do you — or did you ever — have a Best Friend? Do you believe in the idea of one person whose friendship matters the most? Tell us a story about your BFF (or lack thereof).

This is a topic that always leaves me wondering if I’m weird. Okay, yes, I have a friend who is one of my heart friends (I like that expression a lot better than BFF!) and who I would consider a “best friend.” She gets me.  I get her.  We communicate without words. I always look forward to lunch with her. We can go several weeks without any contact, but we always pick up right where we left off. I treasure her friendship, and she knows it. 

We both have other friends that we love and treasure.  Some of them are mutual, some are not. We don’t live in each other’s hip pockets. For me, one of the best things about true friendship is a loose hold. We don’t live in each other’s heads.  We don’t question if each has been out with another friend.

That’s my point, I think. Through my life, until the last 20 years, I’ve moved around a lot. It’s not easy to maintain “heart friend” relationships with people you never see.  I’ve had many friends that were, I guess, my best friends at the time. Life moves on, however. Things change, people change, distance changes, interests and even beliefs change. 

On Facebook, I’ve had the pleasure of reconnecting with some old friends from high school, college, and even pre-high school. That’s wonderful.  I’m delighted to have them in my life again, people who knew me when I was still in some very formative years and wasn’t always sure who on earth I was or wanted to be; people who were patient with me then and who don’t hold it against me that some of my inner struggles spilled out onto them.

I’m rambling. Well, it’s MY blog 🙂

Best friends include my husband and my kids. My husband has put up with a lot, and loves me anyway. My kids have seen me at my worst-than-worst, and love me anyway. I love having adult children.  It’s a reward. And of course, adult children often produce life’s best reward, grandchildren.

Friends have spiced up my life with many different flavors.  I’m grateful.


We all have songs that remind us of specific periods and events in our lives. Twenty years from now, which song will remind you of the summer of 2014?


I’m going way back to the ’70’s for this one.  Many times this summer as I’ve driven to or from work, or watched out the window at home, or best of all, fallen asleep  at night, it’s to the sound of rain. Last night, we had a gullywasher around 7 p.m., and it rained off and on the rest of the night. As I dropped off to sleep, comfortable in my wonderful bed, snug and dry and floating, a sudden gust of wind and rain put the Amen to my last conversation with God for the day.  I don’t remember anything after that until my alarm went off this morning. Absolutely lovely.

Grown Up?

Adult Visions
As a kid, you must have imagined what it was like to be an adult. Now that you’re a grownup (or becoming one), how far off was your idea of adult life?


Not even close.  

When I was a kid, it seemed to me that all adults knew everything.  There was nothing they couldn’t solve, nothing they didn’t know the answer to.  I thought my dad was The smartest, strongest, most fearless person in the world. I didn’t know he could make mistakes.  I really believed that when I was an adult, I’d be the same way.  No more fear, confusion, or being intimidated. 

Well. That was a nice fairy tale.  Of course my dad was just as capable of blunders as anyone else. I’ll always remember the first time I realized he wasn’t perfect.  He got lost in downtown Minneapolis, taking me to the dentist or the doctor, I don’t remember which.  We walked around the same area several times, with him peering at numbers above doorways on big city buildings. I wasn’t concerned until I started to recognize places we had already passed. We did find it, finally, but it was the first time I had to deal with the fact that my dad didn’t know everything.  And it was the first time I realized that maybe NOT all adults had all the answers all the time. 

I’ve learned that as we grow into maturity and finally into old age, the problems change with us. By God’s grace, we learn to cope with what each stage of life brings. And it is His wisdom that I rely upon, not my own. As a counselor, I know better than to trust my own intelligence. It is too easily influenced by personal opinions, likes and dislikes. 

As a child, I lived blissfully unaware of the dangers and troubles in this old world. By the time I was twelve or so, I’d begun to realize that  things weren’t as wonderful as I’d thought.  The good news is that each stage of life brings its own set of problems, but along with that comes its own set of joys. And growth.  Resting and trusting in God, knowing that He has it all figured out, gives me the peace of heart and mind to keep going forward. Day by day, step by step, with the peace that passes understanding that is promised to us in Philippians 4:4-8.

Land’s Sakes, I HATE Snakes!

Can’t Watch This
When was the last time you watched something so scary, cringe-worthy, or unbelievably tacky — in a movie, on TV, or in real life — you had to cover your eyes?


The music became eerie, with shivers of warning from violins and stealthy, quiet drumbeats. The camera panned across the woods at ground level. Night shadows created camoflauge for anything that didn’t want to be seen. Leaves trembled when noiseless creatures brushed through the undergrowth.  

The woman knelt on a blanket covered with  articles that seemed to have their own lives, although they were lifeless.  Central among them was a crude doll, shaped like a man, with one leg severed at the knee. As the woman chanted and made ritual passes with her hands, she suddenly stilled, eyes darting to her left. 

The unmistakeable crunch of heavy footsteps warned her that danger was approaching. She closed her eyes, caught up in her ritual and seeming to ignore the  steps as they came closer. Reaching out to her right, she flipped open the catch on a wire mesh cage. Nothing, silence, and I could feel my own pulse beating. 

I should have been prepared, but I never am. I should have known. I wish I had known. 

The creature that slithered out of the cage had a tiny, ugly head. The body that followed was disproportionately large, glossy, and muscular. It seemed to pour out, rather than to creep, and it kept on coming.  The camera began to flash from the snake to the feet of the approaching danger, back and forth, back and forth. The snake’s mouth opened until all I could see was fangs and throat. 

I was mesmerized, wanting to close my eyes but unable to do so. The woman remained as still as stone. The feet, wearing thick boots, stopped just short of the woman. The camera traveled up the legs, letting us see the man’s  jacket edge and his hands. 

Without warning, the snake uncoiled and struck just below the man’s knee on his left leg! 

And my eyes closed.


On Being Sixty-seven

From the Top
Today, write about any topic you feel like — but you must reuse your opening line (at least) two more times in the course of your post.


I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel.  People tell me I don’t LOOK 67.  I wonder what that means. People tell me I don’t ACT as if I’m that close to 70.  What do they think someone who is 67 should act like?  Is there a rule somewhere that I don’t know about?

I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel, being only one year younger than my mom was when my dad died. He had just turned 70.  He looked older, because he’d been sick for nearly 10 years. He had heart disease, and strokes, and he had been through some really scary surgeries. Of course, Mom aged a lot during all that. She worked so hard to cook  healthy food for him, most of which he didn’t really like but ate for her sake.  He was the center of her life for more than 50 years.

See where this kind of musing can take you?

I really don’t know how I’m supposed to feel.  I’ve been married for 45 years.  I have four adult children, and nine granchildren. Some of them are in their teens already!  I’ve had three careers:  Wife and mom, teacher, and counselor.  When I think back over the years, I realize how long I’ve lived and all that I’ve seen.  I was ten when the Russians put up Sputnik, the first space satellite.  It was a huge thing in 1957.  Seems like no big deal now.  What we didn’t have then?  Cell phones. Personal computers. McDonald’s. Drip coffee makers. Most of us didn’t have air conditioning. Most of us had only one car. Our rock and roll music was Pat Boone and Perry Como, and Flying Purple People Eater, Alley Oop, and Monster Mash. Elvis was pretty new, and actually pretty tame by today’s standards.  The Beatles hadn’t crossed the pond yet. The summer I was married, 1969, was the summer we first landed men on the moon.

I think I just feel grateful.  I’m in pretty good health, all things considered.  I have two artificial knees. That wouldn’t have been an option 50 years ago.  I have Type II diabetes, which I’m working very hard to get under control.  My blood pressure is a little high, also  working to get under control. Other than that, I’m good. My ticker is strong, my brain seems to be functioning well, and I have pretty good vision. Hearing is weaker than it used to be, but still not bad at all if only people wouldn’t MUMBLE 🙂

maxine hearing aids

I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about the world I’ll leave my grandchildren.  I fear for the kind of trouble they’re facing if our government continues in its present direction. Less liberty, more control; less freedom, less value placed on human life; more stifling of truth, more revisionist history, more hatred toward Christianity.

I know one thing for sure:  I wouldn’t go back and be young again.  I love where my life is now, and I’m looking forward to heaven more with each passing year.

Friday Counseling Issues: Abandonment, Part 5


A person who has been abandoned, whether physically or emotionally, tends to develop habits of self-harm. Usually, these habits involve substance abuse: Alcohol, drugs, cutting, sexual promiscuity, obesity. Because he believes he is not worth loving, he doesn’t care much about taking care of his health.



The tendency to try to bury the hurt and fear under alcohol, food, sex, or drugs is very strong. Of course, doing so only creates more problems and makes healing slower and more complicated.

Along with self-abuse comes the need for constant, excessive reassurance. This need is not, of course, restricted only to those who have been abandoned. We’ve all known people who seem to need to be told often and with feeling that they are ok, that they are loved, needed, look wonderful, have talents and gifts, and so forth. And we all know how draining it is to be in the position of the one who must always give the reassurance that is demanded, without ever getting anything back. The inevitable result of such a relationship is that sooner or later, the one who is always required to give reassurance will drift away to find a healthier relationship. Once again, the abandoned person’s self-perception is validated; she is not worthy of being loved, of having friends, of being cared for. In a twisted kind of way, she feels kind of good about being proven right.

Some who counsel in this area believe that abandonment and narcissism are closely related. That’s an interesting theory, and makes some sense to me. The truth is, when any of us focus on our misery to the exclusion of anything else, we are truly putting ourselves and our needs first and foremost. “No one else loves me,” goes the inner monologue, “So I will focus on loving myself.” Because no one wants to be around a person who is fixated on his own value, needs, appearance and popularity, he is quickly abandoned again. It’s a circular pattern, like a snake eating its own tail.

Self-esteem becomes part of the dialogue here as well, in psychological realms. If you’ve been following my Friday Counseling Issues posts for some time, perhaps you’ve already read how I feel about the whole concept of self-esteem. If not, you can go here. Scroll down to the bottom–I think there are four posts–and read to the top. My position is not popular in today’s mental health arena, just so you know ahead of time and won’t be too shocked 🙂

Next week, we’re going to look at some ideas to help yourself if you have abandonment in your history.