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I got a call this week. The number that popped up looked familiar. Then I realized it was MY number. I’m surprised I recognized it. When I answered I received a recorded message that Verizon had detected suspicious activity related to my phone. Therefore it would be shut down for a period of time while they investigated. If I wanted to reactivate my phone I should dial pound, something something something.

I did my best to remember the instructions, repeating them over in my head while I scrambled to find a pen. I tried calling David to see if my phone worked. It did not. So I followed the directions and got a recording from Verizon giving more instructions. Quickly I followed them before I forgot. Star something something something.

Holy cow! If a bad guy had indeed hacked my phone, all kinds of chaos could ensue. I couldn’t think of what that would be, but it worried me.

I checked the incoming call number again. Yep… still my number. I put my phone away for a bit wondering what to do. Eventually I tried calling David again. This time the call went through and we decided to follow up online that evening.

When he did, he was politely informed by a technician at Verizon that it was a scam directly targeting the…

I can’t say it.

It was a scam targeting the… elderly.

Owwwch.

I’ve always prided myself in not falling for ignoramus stuff like that. I am well aware that the Prince of Persia does not desire my presence at his gala. But this time…

I’m so elderly.

In my last article I proudly told you how to remember if you’ve added all the ingredients to the dish you’re making. I shared my great recipe for Cranberry Pumpkin Bread… and left out the pumpkin. I didn’t even catch it until my friend Crystal commented.

“Okay dear. Where’s the pumpkin?”

Who in their right mind would leave the pumpkin out of the pumpkin bread?

Before that I also bragged to my daughter about our new oxtail. Now we can listen to music through our sound bar which when connected to our phone will play anything we want with amazing sound. I can say, “Alexa, play Toby Mac.” Suddenly I’m doing housework at a high rate of speed. I can change things up by saying, “Alexa, play instrumental hymns” and immediately I’m peacefully transported to the magical land of Hobby Lobby.

My daughter laughed and I wondered why. “Mama,” she informed. “It’s not an oxtail. It’s an aux cord; A-U-X like auxiliary.”

Suddenly I am old again.

Downright elderly.

Oh well. I think I shall plug up my oxtail and request something by Elvis. Instantly I will be young and the house shall rock. Hopefully I won’t fall and break a hip.

And if the phone rings and my number pops up, perhaps this time I will have sense enough to let me leave a message.

What Was I Doing?

Today marks a very special season. No, not Autumn… though as I write it is September 22.  Now is also the time when all things pumpkin arrive. A Facebook friend of mine posted a picture of pumpkin baloney. Ewwww…

No thanks.

However, I do have an awesome recipe for Cranberry Pumpkin Bread. Along with it comes a bit of advice for those of us moving into the “What was I doing?” phase of life. Thankfully, the burning questions that haunt me no longer involve life changing decisions. I picked my handsome man about a hundred years ago. We didn’t decide to have kids. We just had them, one right after another until my kind neighbor, JT asked me one day. “Don’t y’all know what causes that?” By the age of twenty five all that was settled.

We still wonder sometimes where we’re supposed to land in our golden years. We’re not quite into golden yet. I think we’re closer to the Rust-Oleum years: that magical time when everything we own could use a good coat of paint. Honestly I don’t care where we land, just so it’s together. No, the burning questions that haunt me are more like, “Did I add baking soda and salt to the batter yet?”

I find myself counting egg shells to figure out if I finished what I started. Just because my beloved calls me from the other room to observe the replay of a fantastic tackle by my favorite linebacker Luke Kuechly, doesn’t mean the pumpkin bread should go without eggs. One cannot go leaving stuff out all willy-nilly and expect proper results.

So I’ve found a solution. It’s as good as having a dish by the door for your keys. That way you can always find them. You’re gonna love this.

Spread all the ingredients in the recipe to the left of the mixer. As you add them to the batter, move them to the right. Seriously, it’s the only way I can keep up anymore.

I remember one time when we were out of black pepper. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember to buy it. When finally I did, I went to put it away and found two other boxes. Apparently I had remembered it three trips ago but forgot I remembered.

I’ve learned not to interrupt David in the middle of a story. If I do, he forgets what he was saying and I don’t get to hear the rest of it.

Bless our hearts.

The other night I woke up and thought, “Denzel Washington!” I couldn’t wait to tell David the next morning. His excited reply was, “Huh?”

“Denzel Washington. You know… we were trying to remember who played the guy in the movie.”

His eyes glazed over. “Movie?”

“Yes! Remember the new Equalizer movie we saw on television? That was Denzel Washington.”

He nodded. “Yep. Glad you cleared that up. I was pretty worried about it.”

Apparently things do not bother him as much as they do me.

Of course he’s never experienced Cranberry Pumpkin Bread without the eggs.

 

Cranberry Pumpkin Bread

Preheat oven to 350;

Coat 3 loaf pans with non-stick spray

  • 3 c. sugar
  • 3 c. plain flour
  • 2 t. soda
  • 1 ½ t. salt
  • 1 ½ t. cinnamon
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ c. veg. oil
  • ½ c. orange juice or water
  • 1 ½ c. cranberries [fresh or frozen] – about half a bag
  • Originally forgot to include 15 oz. can of pumpkin; add with wet ingredients before cranberries

Blend dry ingredients; add eggs, oil, juice; Fold in cranberries by hand. Makes three loaves. Pans are easier to handle if placed side by side on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 57 minutes until knife comes out clean. To prevent belly ache, share at least one loaf.

Hurricane Readiness

I didn’t think I was worried. But last night when I woke from a dead sleep to the sound of a mighty thunderous shaking of the ground, I was pretty sure it was either a tornado or Florence.

Visions of being interviewed in my lovely nightgown, with what little bit of hair I have plastered to my ample forehead skittered through my brain. Quickly I vowed NOT to say with every Southerner who has ever been asked about their storm experience: “Whoo-eee! It sounded jes like a freight train!”

Before I could jump up and ready myself for my television debut, I heard another noise: the glorious comforting sound of an actual train whistle. What I had heard in my sleep, what rattled the house was not a storm at all. It was just a regular ol’ train.

I peeked out the window. The rain had not even hit our area yet. The wind was picking up however and I was glad we’d put away all the yard chairs and such. You see, I am old enough to remember when Hugo tore through our county. That night I had woke to a similar sound but it really was a hurricane. Though it wasn’t supposed to come so far inland, Hugo hit our little town of Rockwell with a vengeance. Trees and limbs and debris were everywhere. Before the power went off I filled the tub with water since we were on a well. Quickly I baked biscuits and cookies, made coffee and tea, did several loads of laundry just before we lost electricity for well over a week. We ate everything in the house, everything in the fridge, and everything from the freezer that we could figure out how to cook.

I forget the exact date, but one winter around 2002 or 03, we had an ice storm that knocked out power for a month. Well… maybe not a month. I think it just seemed that long. It was so COLD! At that time we lived in Spencer and thankfully had a gas cooktop. I remember making coffee and pouring it into a mug. When the hot liquid hit that chilly cup, it cracked right in two. That’s how cold our house was. Our son-in-law Brandon was courting our youngest daughter so he kept us in kerosene. It was hard to come by during that time but he always had a way of finding it for us. We’d all huddle around the Kero-Sun, sipping the hot nectar of life and telling stories of times past. I remember us laughing a lot. We found out later that Brandon had power at his house. He just decided to stay in our guest room because he liked his future in-laws so much.

This time, in preparation for Florence we made sure we had the basic staff of life: coffee, creamer, and toilet paper. I don’t have to fill the tub since we’re on city water now. Flushing shouldn’t be an issue, praise God. But I did snip my zinnias and bring them inside. Three loaves of pumpkin bread have been baked and the floor is vacuumed. While we still have internet, I’ve seen some pretty funny stuff regarding our readiness.

Someone said, “Waiting on a hurricane is like being stalked by a turtle.”

My favorite is, “If you don’t quit eating all those hurricane snacks you’re not going to fit into that little rescue basket the helicopter lets down.”

As I write this, the rain and wind have picked up. Pictures and videos of some of our favorite coastal towns are being shared. Streets there are flooded and the pier we walked with the grandchildren just a few weeks ago has been washed away.

Oh how I wish we could wake to the glorious comforting sound of a whistle to find:

It was only a regular ol’ train.

Nice to Meet You!

I don’t put sugar on my Cheerios or butter on my corn on the cob. I don’t need it.

Then why do I put caramel syrup on my ice cream? I don’t need that either.

Obviously.profile7

These thought provoking questions plus other deep subjects shall be pondered:

Thursday, September 13th, from 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m,

At Attractions on Main, 2130 South Main Street, Salisbury.

It’s a book signing party, but mostly I just want to meet you.

I’ll have a limited number of books for sale, so if you’ve already purchased a copy of any of my books, please bring those with you.

Also, there will be a drawing at the end of the day for those who attend. I’ll be giving away a copy of my latest novel, Too Far Gone.

In a separate drawing, someone will take home Just a Little Cancer Journey; a collection of short stories I wrote while battling cancer.

But really, this is about getting to know you. For the kind lady at Blue Bay, I’d love to give you a copy of my cancer journey book for your sister.

For folks who write encouraging comments on my Facebook page and blog, I’d love to put a face with your name. Though I like the pictures of your grandchildren, I’d love seeing you!

And Terri in Kentucky, Robin in Illinois, and Susie Trailer-Park out west and Johnny Beekeeper; Plus Emily who always leaves me great reviews: please hop on a bus and come. Eddie the Cross-Maker, bring Marilyn and stop by for a hug! Cindy at the Post, I need to meet you in person! I think we share a brain!

To Barry who only gave me four stars on my first book: I’ve finally recovered! The bitterness is getting less every day. Stop by to see me! I promise… I’m over it! I’ll never speak of it again!

Dear Ann and Carolyn and Rhonda and Renee; Deborah, Crystal, Stephanie and Becky! Y’all have been so kind! Thanks for pushing me to step WAY out of my comfort zone to do this. It’s up to you guys to pray for a good hair day…. or just a good forehead day.

I’ll be looking for you all!  In fact, I CAN’T WAIT!!!

 

 

 

A Well Seasoned Man

I happen to be blessed with a well-seasoned man. Like a great cast iron frying pan passed down from grandmaw, he is durable, solid and can be counted on throughout the years. Best of all, he turns loose of stuff that could make marriage sticky.

For instance, when his wife tries a new cake recipe and it falls to pieces as she dumps it from the pan he says, “Mmmm… that sure smells good. Can I have a chunk while it’s still warm?”

When she jerks one outfit on after another trying to get dressed for church then stands in front of the mirror wishing she were twenty pounds lighter… well, he is wise enough to stay out of the way of that. In fact he’ll pour himself another cup of coffee and wait in the other room without reminding her of the time.

When finally she emerges, he does not comment that she is dressed in the same thing she always wears. In fact, he may be seasoned enough to say, “Your hair looks nice.”

A well-seasoned man can also discern when she is having a hot-flash from Gehenna. Wisely he will notice that she is frantically waving a magazine hoping to stir a breeze; that plus the fact that her reading glasses are fogging up. Without being asked he will take his eyes off the Atlanta Braves and rise to meet her needs. A small floor fan pointed in her direction shall cover a multitude of distresses.

The same well-seasoned man will also notice when she is suddenly wrapped in a blanket. Once Ozzie Albie catches the pop fly and throws the ball to Freddie Freeman for the double play, the well-seasoned man will, without a word switch off the aforementioned fan.

He is also observant enough to notice when she is weeping. Though the Braves are tied with the Pirates in the bottom of the ninth he will mute the television during the commercial break to ask,

“You okay over there?”

Instead of blurting out something truthfully ridiculous like, “You’re cryin’ over a chewing gum commercial?” the well-seasoned man just nods. He understands that she is connecting with the high school couple and the song which says “I can’t help falling in love with you.” He understands that she is hoping her well-seasoned man still feels the same.

There may be times when the woman of the house goes on a rant over something he cares nothing about. She might preach a sermon while he tries to concentrate on the game that is almost over. He may in fact lose track of the valuable words that stream from her lovely face and find himself yelling at the umpire behind the plate for his inaccurate calls.

When she stops speaking and asks, “What did you say?” the well-seasoned man will be wise enough to meet her gaze and smile.

“I said, ‘Your hair looks nice.’”

That’s when the well-seasoned woman will tip her head and inquire,

“Who’s winning?”

At that point she should expect a complete play-by-play recap and silently thank God,

for her well-seasoned man.

All Hands on Deck

My daddy is a great story teller. In honor of his eighty-fifth birthday, I’m retelling one of his. I naively asked one day if the ocean ever got rough enough to be scary when he was out to sea.

“Oh yes.” He replied with a laugh.

I figured that on a huge aircraft carrier he might not even notice a storm. The few times I’ve been out on the ocean I quickly realized that the sea is not for me. I recall praying something similar to “Lord, if You will just get me back to land, I will never gripe or complain again.” He answered my prayers even though He knows I’m a liar.

My question prompted daddy to tell us a story we’d never heard. His ship was near the Arctic Circle along with a fleet of US Navy vessels.  Together with the British Navy they were doing maneuvers during the Korean conflict. All their planes were in the air when suddenly a thick fog rolled in. It settled in and stayed for a very serious amount of time.

“It was so thick you couldn’t see any of the other ships. We were in real danger because planes were running out of fuel and the pilots couldn’t see to land. The captain came over the ship’s loudspeaker and called ‘ALL HANDS ON DECK!’

“Once we were assembled, the captain gave an order. It was really more of a request. He asked us to pray. Everybody bowed their heads. Within about ten minutes, the fog cleared and planes came dropping out of the sky. You’ve never seen such a swarm! It didn’t matter if they were Brits or American, they were scrambling just to land on any vessel before that fog rolled back in. There were over a hundred planes in the air above us that day. We didn’t lose a single one.”

It’s good for us to feel helpless at times. It’s important to recognize that we cannot control each situation to our liking. It’s wise to realize that in the grand scope of things, we are actually very small. Like tiny vessels tossed in an enormous angry sea we know in our soul that we need help. How amazing that the One Who created the vast ocean has invited us to call on His Name, and He hears us! With just a Word, the winds obey Him. The waves are still. The fog is lifted and suddenly, through no power of our own, we find ourselves safely home.

The age old request “LORD help!” is a very powerful prayer. Only when we come to the end of our own wisdom and resources, can we fully appreciate Who He is. And He doesn’t even wait for us sailors to clean up our lives before He answers.

How great is our God!

“’LORD help!’ they cried in their trouble and He saved them from their distress. He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves. What a blessing was that stillness as He bought them safely into harbor! Let them praise the LORD for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them.” -Psalm107:28-31

Misunderstood

Have you ever been misunderstood? It happens. Our oldest daughter Stephanie is one of the nicest people you’d ever meet. She is a pastor’s wife and lives in the farming village of Ramsey, Illinois. She’s so nice she apologizes when she bumps into mannequins. The other day we were visiting by way of text when I told her about an upcoming book signing party. She asked if she should rent a costume and stand by the road to wave people in. I told her that would be REAL nice. So she texted me back that she’d bring her chicken in a bikini suit. Only her text didn’t come to me. It went to the camp director for their church association.

Thank God there were no pictures.

I’m a nice person too… at least I think so. Writing the way I do, putting things out there for God and everybody to see, makes people laugh. However, not everyone gets my humor. I’ve been accused of being negative, careless, and ungodly.

Yep. It’s true.

I am all of those things.

But laughter is good for what ails us. So when I tell you the following, just know it is for medicinal purposes only.

We’ve been having some issues with… let’s say, our community. The neighborhood is changing. King James would name some of them “lewd fellows of the baser sort.”

I would not disagree.

I don’t like change of any kind and especially not when it involves my safe place. So David took me to the gun range. For the first time in my life I shot a pistol. The man-shaped target received bullet holes in his head and heart, plus at least one in his appendix.

I hope he knew Jesus because if he didn’t it is eternally too late for him.

I have to say I was happily surprised. I expected David to be a good shot and he is. But I never dreamed an old chick like me could do well in this area. The bad guy in the target never stood a chance.

Different subject: You know those “Thank You Jesus” signs in folks’ yards? I LOVE them! It makes me happy to tool around town and see one at every other house. I hope you don’t misunderstand. But since we don’t have one, I thought about sticking our bullet riddled targets in the yard instead.

An ounce of prevention and all…

I know. I’m awful.

Apparently God has a sense of humor though. The current series at our church is “Love thy Neighbor.”

I’ll be glad when we move on to something more practical… like Leviticus or Hosea. Maybe I’ll learn to be less negative… and careless… and ungodly.

Shameless plug:

If you’d like to stop by Attractions on Main, Thursday, September 13th to purchase a book or have one signed, I’ll have my negative-careless-ungodly self perched in a chair ready to meet you. My sweet friend Deborah Neely Bowman is opening her boutique to me that day.

Sorry. Stephanie will not be there in her chicken in a bikini suit. Apparently she had prior obligations… or so she says.