FLY ZAPPER

House flies have been around since time began and they have always been a nuisance. When I was a child we always had several fly swatters handy and in a pinch we could use a rolled up newspaper with almost the same efficiency. Before DDT was known to be harmful and was banned from use, my father would spray it on the porches and around the house to cut down on the number of flies. Back in those days, many persons living in the country didn’t even have screens on their windows so flies were a real problem. As far as I can remember we always had window screens but they zoomed in each time the door was opened and with several children in the house the doors were opened way too often. Many persons also sprinkled lime around to keep flies, and odors, in check.

If the flies were really bad, sometimes my parents would pay us a penny for each fly we annihilated inside the house. In those days when one could buy a candy bar or a coke for five pennies, killing two or three dozen flies was on par with winning the lottery. My cousins had the same deal going with their parents until it was discovered they were ushering the flies inside before killing them. Oops! So much for their easy money.

Flies haven’t been so bad in recent years even in the country. Where we lived in Arkansas, surrounded by farms on all sides with all manner of animals, we didn’t have to contend with many most of the time. Here in my apartment in Texas, the windows have safety locks so they can only be raised an inch or two at the most. That’s good except when fresh air is desired inside the house for I must then leave the door to my patio open and it doesn’t have a screen. So sometimes I get a fly indoors along with the fresh air.

One of my daughters-in-law got me a fly zapper. I don’t know how many are familiar with this contraption but it was new to me. It looks somewhat like a tennis racket with criss crossing wires. It has a battery and one must hold the on button while swinging the zapper through the air. When it connects with a fly there is a slight pop and viola, a dead fly! Quite an improvement over the simple but effective fly swatter. Don’t you know we children would have racked up the pennies with this handy device….and had lots of fun doing it! Oh my, what’s next in the name of progress?

A RELUCTANT SPENDER

I’ve just come to the realization that I need a new chair. The one that I consider ‘mine’ and that I gravitate to on a daily basis has become less than comfortable. My lower back has been giving me problems but it never dawned on me that my chair might be the culprit…until last week. The chair still looks good [that’s what comes of buying a quality article to begin with] and it’s still usable so I’m very reluctant to spend the money for a new chair. Afterall it’s only 20 years old, barely used, right? Besides it was a birthday gift from my husband.

I guess I’m a reluctant spender. I think, ponder, fret, reconsider, and reconsider again before I finally decide to purchase an expensive article and then nine times out of ten I talk myself out of it. It must be the Scottish heritage in my makeup that causes this phenomenon. My husband was by no means frivolous, he always had two or three savings accounts plus cash stashed in different places around the house but if I wanted something he made sure that I got it despite my objections; I had to be careful about even letting him know I wanted something.

Now that he’s no longer with me I’m finding it extremely hard to make a large purchase. My children tell me to spend my money and be comfortable without thought of leaving any for them but it’s hard to break old habits and overcome the ‘frugal’ gene. I’m not sure that’s even possible or that I even want to.

Anyway, I’m in a quandary now, should I or shouldn’t I? It wouldn’t take much to talk myself out of it. What would I do with my old chair…the one that still looks good? How would I get my new chair home? Alright, I do know about deliveries so that’s not an argument. But there’s the matter of looking for and finding just the right one…the right size, color, fit, etc. It seems more of a chore than I’d like to embark on by myself so the matter is settled. I won’t buy one right now but I’ll continue to think about it, until my back gets a lot worse and then I’ll…..reconsider.

I MISS HIS SMILE

Tomorrow it will be a year since I lost the love of my life, my soul mate, my prince charming, my best friend, my confidante, the better part of myself. It’s been a long year of pain and sorrow and tears. It’s been a year of many firsts, a year of self discovery and learning, a year of healing. It’s also been, oddly enough, a year of joy for the way my family has rallied round me surrounding me with encouragement, love, patience and help.

Gone is the daily validation of my worth from my most ardent admirer. I must now draw on those by-gone days, remembering the admiration in my husbands eyes whenever he saw me and his sweet words of praise for everything I did. Will 55 years of those memories be enough to carry me through the rest of my life? I sincerely hope so but I find myself searching deep within to see if what he believed of me is really true or if it was only a figment of his imagination; so far the evidence is inconclusive.

For the past year I’ve been living each day with a strength not wholly my own and when I’ve truly needed it I’ve had an additional boost from somewhere…a guardian angel? from my husband? I like to think it’s the latter for he told me in one of my dreams that he’s always with me. And so he is, my memory is full of him, he’s ever-present in my mind’s eye. I’m also surrounded by pictures of him and the things he took such pleasure in building for me such as the grandfather clock, the tables and the many boxes. I have one of his guitars, and a CD with him singing the songs he loved and courted me with so many years ago so he can still croon to me anytime I desire. As a special bonus I have the memories of him that others continue to share with me, and these usually contain something to make us laugh. I do hope people keep sharing their memories [and pictures] of him for that’s such a positive thing for me and it helps keep his memory fresh.

Most importantly, I have our children who remind me so much of him; some of them through looks, some through speech, some through hobbies and interests, some with their sense of humor, some with their common sense and work ethic, some with their money management skills and some with their optimistic outlook on life. I’m trying very hard to be optimistic too so when next I see Bruce I can settle that question about myself in the affirmative once and for all.

To end this year of change I’ve gotten a daring new hair cut; sometimes I like it and sometimes, well, not so much. I think whether I like it or not depends on which of my two selves is most dominant at the time. My old self wants things as they always were….safe, predictable, pampered and protected. My new self rather likes being independent and in charge of things even though many times it’s lonely and scary. I guess in a way one might say I’m in a state of flux, evolving and changing, not because I want to but because I have to. I’m no longer chiefly a wife and mother, I’m becoming an individual person in my own right. What the end product will finally become is yet to be determined but somehow I think I will be a better, stronger, more well-rounded and complete person.

I just wish loosing Bruce wasn’t paramount in effecting these changes. I miss the sound of his truck turning in the driveway; I miss having breakfast with him on the deck; I miss star-gazing with him in the evenings; I miss bird-watching with him; I miss taking road trips with him; I miss knowing he’s lying beside me at night; I miss his humor; I miss his smile and twinkly eyes: I miss his juicy grilled hamburgers; heck, I even miss all the grass he perpetually tracked in!

I do hope this next year will bring more healing and less tears; more joy and less trepidation; more self-assurance and less doubt; more reaching to the future and less clinging to the past. My tears may never be far from the surface but I hope to find peace in remembering the happy times I shared with Bruce and in knowing that he’s patiently waiting for me. I know that someday he’ll greet me again with that approving smile and mischievous look in his eyes. But I wonder….with all the changes I’m making inwardly as well as outwardly, will he still know and like me? I believe he will, I think he’s with me through every change I make.

OH HOW I LOVE SPRING!

Is there any other season that brings such happiness, joy and hope? Spring is alive with promise for the future with the greening of the grass, new leaves on previously barren trees, flowers bursting in profusion from trees, bushes and mother earth herself; butterflies in abundance and birds nesting let us know that this is truly the season of new life, new beginnings. The first sightings of Blue Bonnets have been seen  in protected spots here in my area of Texas. That is certainly a heart warming and anticipated event.

In previous times I was privileged to watch the new lambs frolicking in the pasture next door sporting their shiny patent leather shoes. The new foals and calves were also entertaing to watch as they gained control of their spindly shaky legs. We’d anxiously wait for the first shoots of polk salad and count the days till we could finally find enough to pick for a meal. It seemed that the first picking was the epitome of hope realized, of winter finally left behind and a bright new canvass of life before us.

Spring is also appropriately host to the greatest story ever told, Easter. The Atonement and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ gives us continuing and enduring hope. The grave looses its sting and finality; we have the promise of rising and living once again just as Christ did. What greater promise or joy for the future could we have?

As we contemplate these events this spring season, I hope we will catch the excitement and joy of the gifts that are ours because of such a selfless act of love for us. And let us determine to pass on love and hope to our families and friends. Let us lift up the hands that hang down and gladden the hearts of all we come in contact with. Let us mend the fences that might be broken or compromised, remembering that this is the season for new beginnings. Spring, oh how I love spring!

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

As fast as time seems to go by these days, Daylight Savings Time hasn’t come fast enough to suit me. Whether you’re a fan of it or not, its with us again in just a few days. I, for one, am ecstatic; I love the extra daylight at the end of the day. When it ends in the fall I feel a definite sinking of my spirits which continues all winter long, only to be lifted when DST returns.

Daylight Savings Time is a change in the standard time with the purpose of making better use of daylight and conserving energy. I’m not sure that it actually conserves energy but I like it.
Clocks are set ahead 1 hour and it starts making sunrise and sunset 1 hour later on the clock. This process has been used for a hundred years.

Ancient civilizations engaged in a similar practice where they would adjust their daily schedule to the Sun’s schedule. The Roman water clocks even used different scales for different months of the year.

In 1784 Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay for the Journal of Paris on diminishing the cost of light, suggesting they could economize candle usage by getting people out of bed earlier in the morning, making use of the natural morning light.

George Vernon Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist, was a major contributor to the invention of DST when in 1895 he proposed
a 2 hour shift forward in October and a 2 hour shift back in March—the seasons are opposite in the earth’s two hemispheres. There was interest in his proposal, but obviously not enough because it never happened.

William Willet was a British builder who proposed something similar in 1905 and the first DST bill was actually introduced in The House of Commons but it had too much opposition and was never made into law.

Germany was the first country to implement DST in 1916 to minimize the use of artificial light to save fuel during World War 1; Britain and the US soon followed suit.

DST or “Fast Time” as it was called then, was introduced in 1918 when Woodrow Wilson signed it into law. Then in 1942 President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted it year round and it was called “War Time”. After the surrender of Japan it was relabeled “Peace Time”.

From 1945-1966 widespread confusion reigned because states could choose when and if, they would observe DST. Congress finally passed the ‘Uniform Time Act’ that stated when it would begin and end– from the last Sunday in April to the last Sunday in October.

After the Oil Embargo in 1973, DST was instituted for a continuous period of 18 months. It was shown to have saved the energy equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil each day. After the energy crisis was over, DST was changed back to the original schedule of March to October.

DST is now used in over 70 countries worldwide. Currently we follow the 2005 Energy Policy Act where DST lasts a month longer, starting on the second Sunday of March and going to the first Sunday in November. Most of the US follows this schedule with the exception of Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam.

I hail it’s return with happiness and wouldn’t mind it remaining in place year round though I know many people disagree, especially those with children who would have to go to school in the dark. However, since I lived in Alaska and went to and from school in the dark most of the school year, I don’t see this as a problem…it’s all in what one gets used to.

Whatever name it goes by, Fast Time, War Time, Peace Time, Daylight Savings Time, its one and the same and accomplishes the same thing; my spirit is lightened just knowing it’s near. The only difficulty I forsee is running the time forward on my Grandfather clock and that’s not a real difficulty just a small inconvenience, a worthwhile one I hasten to add. Anyway since we have no say in the matter we might as well enjoy it, I know I certainly will. What’s to be done with longer daylight hours you ask? Party on dude, party on!

WINTER DREAMING

It was easy to be lulled by the seventy degree weather though common sense told me that old man winter was lurking just around the corner waiting for us to become complacent before slamming us again. I knew it was too early for him to be done with us, but somehow after the spring tease the freezing temperatures are much harder to bear. I had begun to tentatively think of spring flowers and polk salad, though I don’t know where I’ll find polk salad around here. The thought is tantalizing my taste buds with memories of past springs filled with that delicious wild green. Polk salad has always been a special treat to look forward to with the warming weather. I guess I’ll have to forgo it this year but there are dozens of wild flowers here to enjoy. I’m anxiously waiting for the blue bonnets to pop up in the field across the street where I’ll have a front row viewing seat.

In light of the harsh weather in other parts of the country I have cause to celebrate, even if it’s colder right now than I’d like. I’ve determined that I’m like an addict of sorts, I get a few warm days and I just crave more. I have hopes that if I can bide my time, hibernating if necessary, till March arrives that the long-awaited south wind will have enough ummph to push old man winter back to the north country where he belongs.

To say I’m counting the days till spring would be an understatement; I’m sincerely waiting with bated breath for the first flowers, new green leaves, and first fruits of the season. I thrive on having something to look forward to so to bring spring a little closer during this dreary, cold spell, I’m planning my spring garden….in containers of course. Should I have flowers, cherry tomatoes, herbs, that long wanted lemon tree? My heart tells me to embrace them all and I might as well dream big.

As I sit here planning and dreaming of warmer days, I’m truly thankful my family moved me to Texas last spring or at this very moment I’d be ice-bound in my home in Arkansas again. No, in view of everything, I won’t complain at this snippet of cold air; it’s time for song and dance, hot chocolate and seed catalogues, homemade soup and bread, and maybe, oh yes maybe, a donut or two…with chocolate frosting.

TIME WARP

My days zip by so fast that I hardly have time to draw a breath before another week is gone. I’ve many things planned to accomplish each day but I never seem to have time to start, much less finish, any of them. I’ve come to believe that I’m in a time warp, either that or [perish the thought] I’ve become incredibly slow at everything I do, and I know that’s not the case….is it? Surely I haven’t become my mother-in-law whom I poked fun at for being so slow.

There was a time I could run rings around everyone else. At the peak of my life I cared for 7 children [all of them my own], had a reasonably clean house, cooked three hardy meals from scratch each day, did laundry for the nine of us, and then in my free time I’d paint an entire room [moving all the furniture myself], do the clean up, and move the furniture back in place before my husband arrived home from work. He never knew what to expect when he came home at night but he knew better than to come in after dark without turning a light on for fear of falling over furniture I’d moved around. Back then that was just a normal day; somehow that doesn’t seem so normal anymore. These days I barely have time to get dressed before it’s time to put my pajamas back on. I need to come up with a better plan, such as wearing my PJ’s all day or sleeping in my clothes so I can roll out of bed in the morning ready for the day. Some of my boys did that when they were young and the only drawback to that was their clothes looked slept in. We no longer have mostly cotton clothing that must be ironed to look good, synthetic materials are used a great deal, or at the very least a permanent press fabric. That should work well for me if I decide on that course of action.

Since this time warp has engulfed me, I’ve found a useful shortcut that allows me to breakfast before evening. I no longer make biscuits or anything else I have to cook, the secret is a straight-forward bowl of delicious cold cereal. I then have time to plan one cooked meal…and sometimes even prepare it. A pot of soup or something else that takes minimal effort and which will last a few days is all I’m striving for now. Yes, I really am sorry for making fun of my mother-in-law; they say what goes around comes around, and I’m now the beneficiary of that profound observation.

My new church time this year is 1:00 PM and I barely have enough time to get ready. I really may have to resort to sleeping in my church clothing when the time changes again next January to a 9:00 AM start time. Since I’ve been living by myself I very rarely wake on my own before nine…ten…or sometimes even eleven AM. I must use that hateful alarm when I need to set my trash curbside between six and nine AM….what a bummer, I do hate that alarm! I’ve wondered if I’ve gotten lazy or if I’m just catching up on sleep missed during the last 53 years when I had children constantly interrupting my sleep and a husband who slept fitfully, rising at four or five AM wanting [expecting] a hot homemade breakfast. The truth may never be known, but I’m not overly concerned since I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself.

I guess it should be no surprise that time seems to be passing so swiftly considering I’m sleeping away half the day combined with the fact that I am moving slower and taking longer to finish tasks. I have the distinct feeling however that there’s more here than meets the eye, that time actually is moving faster; even my teenage grandchildren have said something to this effect. What a difference a few years can make, when I was their age each day was a long expanse of time to fill with numerous activities with time left to daydream. I sort of miss those long, happy, carefree days with no end in sight. Today, the end is getting closer and closer and the days are getting shorter and shorter. Am I unhappy about this phenomenon? Not at all for there is a time and season for everything. It’s my season to slow down from such a busy life and enjoy the simple pleasures that can be found in the shortest of days. Who cares if I regularly sleep late or eat cereal for brunch? Who cares if I make one 30 minute meal instead of three gourmet ones? Who cares if I spend my time reading or daydreaming? Certainly not I, in fact it’s rather a relief to give up the guise of Wonder Woman. Now, if I can just figure out how to eliminate vacuuming and laundry from my existence, Utopia may be on the horizon.

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