Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Series of "It Could Have Been Worse" Events

Late Sunday afternoon I looked forward to fixing dinner for some good friends who were coming over for dinner and games. No matter what we eat, and whether we play Hand and Foot, Five Crowns, or Rummikub, the four of us always have a fun time together.

I poured a bit of oil in the frying pan and set it on the stove to heat before browning the chicken breasts. Then it struck me--it was time for a new profile picture for my Facebook. So back to the other end of the house I went to find John and ask him to be my photographer. He gladly obliged and spent probably five minutes snapping away.

Suddenly, the blaring belch of the smoke alarm roared through the house. I ran down the hall toward the kitchen.

Black smoke churned in the corners of the living room. I yelled, "I've got a fire!" and heard John running behind me as I entered the kitchen. Flames danced against the blackened backdrop of the frying pan. I used a towel to pull it from the element, and the flame burned out.

We threw open every window in the house and I ran around like a mad woman, flailing a towel and trying to push the smoke out the windows. John got fans started.

We surveyed the damage to the stove.

What a stupid thing I did, right? Turning the stove on and forgetting about it a minute later is not something I want to start doing!

But let me tell you about my husband's reaction. He is such a sweet man of God. He didn't yell at me or even raise his voice, nor did he call me any names. No anger at all, at least that I could see. I, of course, was apologizing all over the place as I tried to drive the smoke out of the house. He graciously helped clean up the immediate mess. We got the blackened wall above the stove cleaned up, and evaluated the damage. John got on line and figured it would be over $200 to replace the melted knobs,bubbled display, etc.

We managed to get things aired out enough to not poison our guests when they arrived. I served a delicious dinner, in spite of the accident and adrenalin of an hour earlier.

Then I went to make coffee to accompany dessert. The first pot started burbbling part way through its cycle, and we ended up with grounds in the finished product. Threw it out. Made a second pot. It not only burbbled, but overflowed, running down the cabinets, which appropriately had a coffee stain applied at the factory!

It seemed that everything I touched fell apart that evening. No one wanted to take a chance of being on my team for games that night!

The next day I went to Walmart to pick up the $138 monthly prescription that I have to pay for out of pocket. When I unpacked the bags at home I couldn't find the medicine. John and I searched all over, including my car. I called the store, but no one had turned it in.

I was heartsick. Not only had my mistake the day before cost us around $200, but now I was adding a $138 mistake to it. I didn't know how we were going to cover these unexpected costs, as at my age, I'm much too old to make money standing on a street corner!

An hour later the pharmacy called to inform me my bag of medicine had just been turned in to them. Praise the Lord! And John checked things out on the computer and found he could get replacement parts for the stove for just under $100. What an answer to prayer it was to have God take care of situations I'd created for myself.

(Just last week I had lost my Blue Tooth and had no idea where it could be. I did the usual search of my car, purses, and jacket pockets. Between my mom and John, they decided he should check the car again, and sure enough, he found it between the seats.)

I've tried to figure out why I'm suddenly "losing it." Is it just from getting a bit older? (No, I'm too young to get older!) Not enough sleep? (No, I'm sleeping well.)

Then I realized that for the past thirteen months I've been under a lot of stress due to various family situations. I've never felt the need to cry about the pain caused by these bad decisions made by others. It's not like I'm stuffing it inside, as I talk freely to friends about what's going on. But for some reason the tears won't come. I've decided the stress is coming out in my brain cells--that I'm losing them!

So I'll try to cope by paying extra attention to the things I'm doing, knowing that my mind can easily wander. I know the Lord will take me through even this, though I certainly look forward to the time when things settle down, perhaps by the end of summer.

Meanwhile, Christina told me I should go see a therapist. "It would be a lot cheaper in the long run, Mom!"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Feed the Birds, Tuppence a Bag

Don't I wish that it only cost a tuppence for bird food as it did when Mary Poppins was around! Where is that gal when you need her?

Spring has definitely taken up residence here in Western Oregon. We always have birds that stay over the winter and don't head south to Arizona with the other wimps, but it's so nice to see the return of those that have been gone.

Only problem? They're eating me out of house and nest! I have four different types of feeders hanging along the eaves of my porch, and it's almost a full-time job to keep them filled. A beautiful pair of doves spends hours a day browsing along the patio edge, nibbling on leftovers the finches, nuthatches, chickadees, juncos, pine siskins, and others are scattering from the feeders.

Today I reached a new level. I'm not sure if it's a high or a low--you'll have to tell me. The "sock" that the finches love to eat from was spilling seed. When I checked it, I saw that some little finch, badly in need of a manicure, had torn holes in the netting of the sock. So, as the Bird Woman of Ashberry Lane I felt called upon to take my needle and thread out there and do a little sock darning. (Like I asked, high or low?!) Yes, I know the easy solution is to simply buy a new sock, but I'm not going to town until tomorrow and I didn't want the bird buffet to be lacking anything today.

Reminds me of the wonderful verse in Matthew 6:26 where Jesus says, "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"

Or as The Message puts it, "Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds."

Careless in the care of God--what a great way to live!