Living proof that the Universe has a sense of humor.

Today I am grateful for the cross I have to bear.

Posted September 17, 2014 | Daily Gratitude, Lessons I've Learned, Notes to Self, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life | Leave a Comment

Carrying Your Cross
This is one of my favorite stories. I first heard it many years ago. For some reason it popped into my head today.

Carrying a Cross

By Paulo Coelho. Source: spiritual-short-stories.com

“In a certain village in Umbria (Italy), there lived a man who was always bewailing his lot. He was a Christian, and found the weight of his cross too heavy to bear.

“One night, before going to sleep, he begged God to let him change his burden.

“That night he had a dream; the Lord led him to a warehouse. “Go ahead and change it,” he said. The man saw crosses of all sizes and shapes, with the names of their owners. He picked an average size cross – but when he saw the name of an old friend written on it, he left it aside.

“Finally, as God had permitted, he chose the smallest cross he could find.

“To his surprise, he saw his own name written on it.”

I am convinced that we are each uniquely equipped to handle the challenges we face. We have the crosses we are meant to bear.

I was messaging a friend with some medication-resistant health issues. I asked her how one of them was going, and she replied, “It’ll always be shitty.”

I responded: “I don’t know what to say except I’m hoping that one day things WILL be better for you.”

She replied, “I’m built for chaos. Might as well go with it.”

I’m grateful that I’m “built” for the challenges in my life. However much easier or better I may perceive someone else’s life to be, I know that if I went into that warehouse that the cross I’d choose would have my name on it, too.

Today I am grateful that I was able to help a friend see her great-great-grandfather’s picture for the first time.

Posted September 16, 2014 | Daily Gratitude, Photos & Photo Galleries, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Life | 2 Comments

SerendipityMy gratitude post yesterday was about learning to read and how a book I found at my grandparent’s house got me interested in Roanoke history.

In addition to write about it here, I posted photos of it on Facebook. I got a comment on the album from Linda Goin, who I consider to be a friend even though we’ve never met. She told me that her great-great-grandfather had been on the Roanoke Police Department. She’d mentioned to me some time back that she wanted to visit the Roanoke courthouse see what she could find out about that side of her family.

I took a couple of minutes this evening, flipped through the book, and found a photo of William Charles Adams Allen, “W.C. Allen, Jailer.” I scanned it and sent it to her.

W.C. Allen, Jailer, Roanoke, VA Police Department, 1916.

William Charles Adams Allen
Jailer, Roanoke Police Dept., 1916.

Linda was delighted. She’d never seen a photo of him before!

I was able to help someone see what her great-great-grandfather looked like. That’s pretty amazing, and all because I happened to think about this book when I was writing my gratitude post about reading, took some photos, and published a post about it here and on Facebook.

Now how cool is that?

Today I am grateful I can read – and how I discovered that history happened to “real” people

Posted September 15, 2014 | Cool Stuff, Daily Gratitude, My Family - Past & Present, Products Mentions & Reviews, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Life | Leave a Comment

1916 History of the Roanoke City Police Department

History Roanoke Police Dept.
Roanoke, Virginia

Today I am grateful that I can read. I don’t remember not being able to read or who taught me, but it isn’t something I take for granted. My life is a much better place because of it.

When I visited with my grandparents’ house in Roanoke, I used to pull a book out of the shelves and read it. In the attic was a collection of original Nancy Drew books from the 1920s when she had titian hair, ate luncheon, and drove a coupe.

I found a love of Roanoke history when I found an old book, The History of the Roanoke City Police Department, published in 1916 and signed by my great-grandfather, John Wilder Cure. The book is fascinating not just for the pictures or the events described, but also for the language used and the biases and stereotypes of the time. It wasn’t until then that I realized that history happened to “real” people.

1916 History of the Roanoke City Police Department

1916 History of the Roanoke City Police Department

Jno. W. Cure

My great-grandfather’s inscription – Jno. W. Cure

I’ve never seen another copy, although I imagine there’s one in the Virginia Room at the main Roanoke City Library, but I’ll bet it doesn’t have the chocolate smudges on it from when my 12-year-old self read it while eating the Hershey’s Miniatures my grandmother kept as snacks for us.

Today I am grateful that Carvins Cove is as good for hiking as it is for kayaking.

Posted September 14, 2014 | Beloved Spouse, Daily Gratitude, Hiking, Kayaking, Photos & Photo Galleries, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Life | Leave a Comment

The Carvin Cove Fire Trail

The long and winding road.

Finally! A cool day with relatively low humidity: the perfect day for Buffy and I to take our first hike of the “fall” season.

We went to Carvins Cove. Not only is it a great place for kayaking, but there are also lots of hiking trails. We took the “easy” one: the 5.8 mile round trip from the parking lot up the fire road with a detour to a view of the cove and back. I say “easy” in the sense that the fire trail is easy to follow. Topographically, there were enough ups and downs that by the time we got home, we were both happily exhausted.

A lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I hope you all had a great Sunday, too!

The tree-shaded fire road around the cove.

The tree-shaded fire road around the cove.


OMG! What is that bright thing in the sky!

A "Crick" Feeding into the Cove

A “crick” feeding into the cove.

Buffy surrounded by flowers and allergens. (Achoo!)

Buffy surrounded by flowers and allergens. (Achoo!)

Our obligatory dual selfie.

Dual selfie with Buffy: Beloved spouse and handsome hiking buddy.

Today I am grateful for Stripey and the peaceful feeling I get when we cuddle.

Posted September 13, 2014 | Beloved Spouse, Cats, Daily Gratitude, Lessons I've Learned, Photos & Photo Galleries, Random Observations, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Life | 2 Comments

This afternoon Stripey and I took a nap on the couch. Beloved spouse took pictures.

Stripey & I hold paws.

Stripey likes to hold my paw in her paws while we cuddle and nap.

Not all cats are as cuddly as @ThatStripeyCat. There’s nothing like a purring, soft, snuggly cat holding your paw in hers to make you feel like all is well in the world.

I’ve grateful for my cuddly kitten and for that feeling.

I’m also grateful that my beloved spouse was there to take pictures  :-)

Stripey & I take a nap.

This is how we sleep at night.

You can see all the photos that “Papa Kitty” took of us in Stripey’s Facebook page album, “Mama & I take a nap.”

Today I am grateful for Target.

Posted September 12, 2014 | Beloved Spouse, Cool Stuff, Daily Gratitude, Products Mentions & Reviews, Random Observations, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life | Leave a Comment

TV with Googly Eyes from Target

Am I watching it, or is it watching me?

Where else could you get a new TV and a pair of Halloween googly eyes after 9 PM on a Friday night?

I’m also grateful for Target because I’ve never seen anyone there who belonged on the “People of Walmart” website?

I’m also grateful to my beloved spouse who helped the Target clerk put the TV in the car, carried it in from the car, and set it up for me.

Now I can actually see the words on the screen!

Today I am grateful that my vacuum cleaner sucks.

Posted September 11, 2014 | Beloved Spouse, Daily Gratitude, Lessons I've Learned, Products Mentions & Reviews, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Life | One Comment

My 30-year-old Panasonic upright vacuum cleaner

My 30-year-old Panasonic
upright vacuum cleaner

When someone says, “This sucks,” it’s usually a bad thing. Not so with a vacuum cleaner! Vacuuming is my second least favorite household chore (just behind dusting), so if I’m going to do it, I want to use a vacuum that does the job.

The workhorse pictured here is every bit of 30 years old, and it still sucks as well (or better) than any vacuum I’ve seen. The only maintenance it’s needed has been a result of my abuse. My beloved spouse replaced the cord with a longer one when I broke the plug trying to get the cord to stretch longer that it should, and he replaced the belt when I ran it over something I shouldn’t have. Other than the plastic bumper being a bit chewed up (from my banging into things), it’s perfect.

I’ve looked at other vacuum cleaners out of curiosity rather than necessity, and I’ve never found one that has the features that I love on this one:

  • It’s fairly light compared to many of the new ones, so it doesn’t have to be “self-propelled”.
  • it has a beater bar for sucking cat hair and crumbs out of the carpet.
  • It adjusts automatically to the height of the floor surface.
  • It has a hose with attachments mounted on the handle. They’re easy to access, and I can clean the cracks and crevices while I’m vacuuming instead of having to go back and do it later.
  • It has a bag that’s easy to change, and I can order replacement bags from Amazon. (Amazon is my friend.)

I’m grateful that, like my iron, I’m more than getting my money’s worth from this vacuum cleaner, and I’m very grateful that I don’t have to try to find or pay for a replacement. Call me crazy, but I’d rather not have to pay buckets of money for a larger, heavier, self-propelled, manually adjustable vacuum without a bag or attachments.

. . .

Robot VacuumNOTE: When I moved into my apartment, I brought “the old” vacuum above. My beloved spouse had gotten a robotic vacuum, and he kept that. The robo-vac is a nice idea, but it isn’t as smart as the vacuum cleaner on The Jetsons.

Today I am grateful for “New Food Day.”

Posted September 10, 2014 | Daily Gratitude, Food, Products Mentions & Reviews, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Life | Leave a Comment

Stripey sniffs her New food A while back I wrote about my Stripey-cat and her New Food Dance, which she does to celebrate my opening a new bag of cat food.

Now that I’m on the Diet-to-Go meal delivery plan, I get to do a New Food Dance when my week’s meals are delivered on Wednesday.

I don’t have a photo of myself doing my New Food Dance, but I did take some photos so you can see how the Diet-to-Go delivery plan works.


Every Wednesday, FedEx delivers my meals for the upcoming week.

DietToGo Food Delivery

Twenty-one frozen meals in a styrofoam cooler packed with dry ice and frozen air. The company determines how much ice to put in by the shipping time, distance and forecast temperature from Lorton, Virginia, to its desination. Weight: About 30 lbs.


The Ceremonial Veiling of the New Food

The Ceremonial Veiling of the New Food.

The cooler is sealed by straps and wrapped in plastic. Scissors are required. (I’m not allowed to use knives to open things. (See What happens when you use the wrong tool: A photo essay to learn why.)

A sheet comes with the week’s menu listed in order: the delivery day dinner; breakfast, lunch, and dinner for five days; and, breakfast and lunch for the seventh day. However, you can eat them in any order you like.


I sort the packages out in reverse order by meal. Breakfasts go Thursday to Wednesday (front to back) in the upper right hand shelf; lunches in the same order in the upper right shelf; and dinners on the bottom left shelf. Although they come frozen, you store them in the refrigerator for faster cooking. I left tonight’s dinner – Harissa salmon on couscous with mixed vegetables – out on the counter so it would be thawed by dinner time.

My week's meals stored in order by meal.

My week’s meals neatly organized in my refrigerator by meal by date.

The Food

I got my delivery today before I had eaten lunch, so I took some photos of my lunch preparation. On the menu for today was a turkey and swiss sandwich with relish, cauliflower and tabouli [sic], and a can of V8 juice.

Here's how the meals come packaged.

Here’s how the meals come packaged. I use scissors to cut off the plastic wrap.

Ready for preparation.

Ready for preparation, which is key. I heated the sandwich in the microwave, then scooped the tabouli out of the container and put it on the plate. I poured the V-8 into a glass instead of drinking it out of the can.

Voila! My lunch is ready!

And voila! My lunch is ready. This wasn’t one of my favorite meals (the Michigan turkey sandwich I had for lunch yesterday was awesome) but it was better than anything I would make if left to my own devices – that’s for sure!


So far…

I am very happy with the meals, I’ve lost three pounds, and I feel better than I have in a long time.

I’m very grateful that I found this company and through it, a way to eat normally for the first time in my adult life.

. . .

Disclaimer: I am a Diet-to-Go customer. I was not asked to write this post, nor will I receive any compensation for doing so. I am simply sharing my personal experiences with this program.

Today I am grateful for my iron.

Posted September 9, 2014 | Cool Stuff, Daily Gratitude, Products Mentions & Reviews, Random Observations, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Brain, Welcome to My Life | One Comment

Black and Decker Iron

My 25+ year old
Black & Decker
"Old Ironside"

Okay, maybe it sounds goofy to be grateful for an iron, but if there’s anything I’ve ever gotten my money’s worth out of, it’s this iron. (And maybe my vacuum cleaner, but that’s another post.)

The iron I bought when I moved into my first apartment died after a tragic fall from the ironing board onto the cement floor in the basement. I’d had it about five years. I didn’t have a lot of money at the time, and I certainly didn’t want to spend what I had on a fer-pete’s-sake IRON. It did, however, need to be replaced.

My intention was to get the cheapest iron possible. However, once I got to the store (I didn’t remember which one, but it probably went out of business years ago), I couldn’t bring myself to buy a cheap iron. If I had to buy one, at least I wanted to like it…to the extent that I could like a household appliance.

I saw this Black & Decker model. It had lots of settings, a translucent tank so I could see the water level (I use the steam setting on almost everything), and a spray button for spritzing stubborn wrinkles. It also had a nice, slick Teflon bottom. It was $50, but I figured if I had to iron, I might as well “enjoy” it.

The Mangler

Not enjoying ironing.

I don’t “enjoy” ironing, but I don’t dread it, either. I consider that a “win.”

With no maintenance at all, this Black & Decker iron has helped me press everything I’ve felt the need to press for over 25 years and shows no signs of quitting anytime soon.

And it’s survived being dropped on the cement floor that broke the first one – more than once.

The iron I’m grateful I don’t have

The Mangler

The Hadley-Watson Mangler
Photo credit: stephenking.wikia.com

Unlike the ironing machine in the Stephen King story and John Carpenter movie The Mangler, it’s never attacked me.

If I’ve burned myself a little once or twice, it’s been a result of my carelessness – not any nefarious motives involving a demonic possession, belladonna, or virgin’s blood.

I’m very grateful for that!

Today I am grateful for Terry Aldhizer and her lovely photography.

Posted September 8, 2014 | Daily Gratitude, Photos & Photo Galleries, Today I'm Grateful for..., Welcome to My Life | Leave a Comment

Septebmer 4, 2014 - Sunset Over Mill Mountain

“Twilight Rainbow Moon & Star” – One of my favorite photos by Terry Aldhizer.

Her photographs brighten my day.

Like me, she loves to take photos of weather, sunsets, and clouds. Unlike me, she’s very good at it.

You can see her albums at www.terryaldhizer.com/Photography.php.

You can order mounted, framed prints, too, at 500px.com/terryaldhizer, but I can’t pick just one…or two, or three…. Yet.

Heck, I can’t even pick a favorite album between Weather, Sunsets, Twilight, and Night.

Thank you for sharing all your lovely work with the world, Terry!

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