Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Magic Words

"Please and Thank You, They're called the magic words..."
Being around little kids videos can be a reminder of how important those words really are...especially where family is concerned.

There’s no telling how many times a day I say “Thank You!” to someone and really mean it. It even seems that I’m much better at prayers of Thanksgiving than any other kind. It’s hard not to feel thankful when the seasons are changing and all is well in my world. And yet, it’s kind of nice to have a special day to be specific about the things we really are thankful for.

I am not so good about saying, "Please", though. It just doesn't come as naturally to me. Part of that is that I value my independence immensely, and having to ask someone, even God, for help is kind of contrary to my nature.

We’ve had a complicated orchestration of our holiday this year. Trying to accommodate everyone’s preference and schedules hasn’t been as easily accomplished as we all would have liked, but that’s what happens when numbers increase and lives get more complicated. Babies need naps and unexpected things happen.

Monday night, the arrival of the LA crowd coincided with young Walker getting off work and my class which is somewhat mandatory attendance. Our second car is a truck…which I only ride in when absolutely necessary and NEVER drive. I was pretty sure that Sarah and Ned wouldn’t much like being chauffeured in a Dodge Ram either, so figuring out the logistics required my asking for a ride home from class, “Please!”, from some people I don’t know all that well and none of whom actually live near me. It all worked out,as most things do, and for that I am truly thankful to Debra who gave me a ride and the others who offered, even if it would have been out of their way.

I did a good bit of cooking in advance of the holiday this year, having had a pretty good stretch of feeling better than usual…probably the thing I’m most grateful for. It was wonderful to be able to pull homemade soup from the freezer and pop a batch of cornbread in the oven and invite a few extras over for a simple supper last night. Ditto on Lasagne tonight and some of the main side dishes for the big day, leaving only the turkey for me to deal with tomorrow with my daughters doing the things I like to do least.

Young Walker will be in charge of unloading the dishwasher, for which I’m truly grateful. He’ll happily bring extra chairs to the table and fill the water glasses. His dad has already done some yeoman’s work with pots and pans and grocery shopping for just one more thing again and again.

I hope I was polite enough to ask for help from my family with a “please”, but since I tend to be much more direct than polite society requires, I probably didn’t. I promise there will be many “thank yous” tomorrow, but mainly a huge one to God for my family and friends both near and far.


Sunday, November 7, 2010


A couple of people noticed that I changed my profile picture on Facebook and this blog last week. Son in Law John, who notices everything, took a couple of days to comment on it, and wanted to know what prompted it. I hadn’t really thought about it much, but I changed it partially because I was sick of seeing a picture of me made fifteen years ago in a house I don’t live in anymore.

The old picture was one of the few pictures of me that I ever kind of liked. It was made when I had to have one for a brochure when I worked at the church, and I've used it a few times. When I was getting my affairs in order before a kind of scary surgery, I decided it would be my obit picture, and have had it in a convenient folder on my desktop ever since.

Well, I didn’t die, so we haven’t needed the picture. I haven’t liked the way I look all that much lately, and most of my pictures in recent years are made at birthday events, surrounded by grandchildren, so I just hadn’t gotten around to a newer profile picture of me as I really am, one that people who actually know me would recognize.

Another sidelight to this has been my recent reconnection with old friends on Facebook, and I kind of worried that if I ever again meet one of them in person, which I hope to do at my 50th high school reunion, they would think I had misrepresented myself….something I would be loathe to do. So I had Walker take a bunch of snaps of me as I am now with several more pounds and lots more lumps and bags and wrinkles and strange brown spots on me, sparser eyebrows, and perhaps a less full smile, but as I am. (Except I chose a version without my glasses that made a wacky glare.) I picked the shot I disliked least and put it out there for anyone and everyone to see without any embellishments.

If I ever lose that twenty pounds, I plan to have a really good one made, but for now, what you see is what you get.

Tomorrow, I have to give a personal profile of myself at my Education for Ministry class. It’s a combination personal history and faith journey. I’ve been working on it for a while, trying to condense my sixty-six years into twenty minutes of things I’m okay sharing with people I don’t know very well. I guess I’ll present myself pretty much as I am…warts and all…and hope they care for me anyway. They seem like good folks, so I think they will. If they want more than a profile, though, they'll have to slog through two years of this blog.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Silly Stuff

I’ve been reading some articles about the current economy lately, and one of my least favorite gurus is a guy named Paul Krugman. Now I’m certain that Mr. Krugman has a wall full of certificates and diplomas documenting his ability to advise the nation on what we need, but the guy’s ideas make absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.

I’m not even sure what Mr. Krugman is actually proposing that sane Americans should be doing at this point, but it seems that he and some others are unnaturally afraid of “deflation”. Like most of you over forty, I can remember the runaway inflation of the 80’s and I’m absolutely certain that it was a really bad thing. It was the only time in my adult life that I could imagine needing help feeding my children. Of course, that didn’t happen, but the fear was there just the same.

Creeping inflation, on the other hand, has reached the point that taking my grandchildren to a movie takes a huge bite out of a hundred dollar bill, and is even more insidious. I feel like an old codger complaining that in the “good old days” I could buy a really nice lightly used car for $20,000, but that same car now would cost nearly $40,000. The truth is that I can fairly confidently predict that our budget will probably never allow for a really nice car again. I’m not whining about it, it’s just a fact of life, if the economy continues to inflate while our income doesn’t.

Could we just try a little deflation for a year or two, Mr. Krugman, and see where things settle?

I’m not an economist, but I do believe in the laws of Supply and Demand. Supply me with quality goods at a reasonable price and I’ll probably buy them when I need them. I might even buy a few things I want now and then, but only if I can afford them. If this leads to deflation, so be it. It probably means that the goods and services were being hawked at inflated values to begin with. This not an un-American idea, it’s only common sense.

The problem as I see it is that there are huge inconsistencies in our economy. Value and usefulness have been divorced from cost and it’s like Wonderland out there in Shoppinghaven.

My grandsons were dying for some sort of souvenir bands recently, and on a recent outing I bought them some. They amount to rubber bands in various shapes and themes, and they cost upwards of $5 a pack. They probably cost pennies to produce, and they break and soon become useless. I bought them, they were only $5 and I don't indulge the grandchildren often, but before the day was over there were tears over the silly things.

On the other hand, I can buy a comfy pair of well made everyday pants at Walmart for $10 which will probably last me several seasons. I couldn’t possibly buy the fabric and make them myself at that price. I would probably happily pay $20 for the pants, possibly even more, because they have value…and pockets!...but won’t pay even $1 for the silly Silly bands again…and I don’t think the kids will either. I know that by my spending money on that product, someone will reap some income from it...but at what real cost to our economy? We can't just keep printing and wasting money on things we don't need forever.

I hope our economic ship sets itself aright again, but I know it won’t happen by just printing more money for people to buy silly bands with.