Eric Moved Out Today

Eric moved out today.  While I was at work.  I knew it was happening, but it wasn’t quite real.  I had been home for a little while, just settling into the weekend.  As I was washing my hands in the bathroom, I noticed it looked a little cleaner than usual.  Not clean, but empty.  All of Eric’s things were gone from the counter.

Mind you, I raised him as a divorced mom with a 50/50 custody arrangement.  I have watched him leave hundreds of times.  Or come home to find him gone.  I have been well trained for this day.  But there was always a toothbrush.

Today is different.  He won’t be back as my child.  He will be back as a visitor.  Someone who lives somewhere else.  A man.

I went to the kitchen to make a sandwich.  I buy him all the best sandwich ingredients.  Today I would make one for me.  Maybe not the way he likes it, my way.  I can.  I am eating it as I write, and it is good.

I remembered that he and his buddy, Dave, had changed the bed frame in his room for me, and decided to go and see how it looked.  It looked great.  All of his stuff was gone.  Granted, most of it is in the fourth bedroom, which is now his storage room.  So much stuff.  He has to stay at Dave’s house because he can’t find the bed.  This room only has furniture now.

The plan was for him to move into that bedroom because I will be hosting international students this year and the first one is arriving on Monday.  He has been reluctant to give up his room, though he did it voluntarily.  It only makes sense for him to have the smallest room while he is away at college.  He totally gets it.  He just put it off until the last weekend.

As I was contemplating how I would turn this space into a girl’s room in the next 48 hours, I realized that my fabulous office chair was there in front of me.  The one I splurged on years ago when it was on sale.  The one Eric sort of gradually stole from me, despite how much I loved it.  “Well, I get it back when you go off to college,” I had finally said.  Today.  I got my chair back.  It seems to be more molded to his shape than mine now.

So today is the day.  He will be back tomorrow.  He is only sleeping at Dave’s for eleven nights. Then he will go to college.

I will miss him.  A lot.  Yet we are ready for this.  I always wondered how it would be.  It’s good.  Even though it would have been nice if his school started earlier and my soon-coming students could come later, this little overlap isn’t a reason to not go ahead with our plans.  He has a very bright future and is eager to begin his training.  I would not hold him back for anything.  We have phones.  We can text.  We can call.  We can even send each other money.  Though I suspect that will only work one way.

In my mind, I hear the words, “Well done.”  I hope so.  I have held the greatest secret these past 20 years.  The world will soon know the man who I have had a hand in raising.  Such a privilege.  I can only defer to the grace of God.  He not only gave me a wonderful human being, he was there along the way through all of the years.  I sure did make mistakes.  Plenty of them.  Yet this wise, intelligent, responsible, funny, well-groomed, and talented man has emerged.  He isn’t perfect.  There are flaws.  He will figure it out.  I have so much confidence in him.

So this is my empty nest.  It will fill again on Monday, but for now, it’s just me.  I have survived.



It’s that time of year again.  Warmer weather.  I was in my back yard pulling weeds and once again got to hear my neighbor interact with her kids.  As I quietly pulled my weeds, I began to wonder if she had any idea what she sounded like.  Here are some observations, enhanced by what I remember from last year, and it doesn’t appear much has changed.

Tone of Voice
My neighbor has a special tone of voice that she uses with her kids.  It is frustrated and bordering on whiny.  I know she has another voice because I have heard her use it after the phone rings, or while hanging out with friends on Saturday nights.  Either her kids are constantly annoying, or she is in the habit of speaking to them as if they are.

Choice of Words
Nearly everything she says to her children is a command.  “Be quiet.”  “Eat your lunch.”  “We need to go.”  “Put your shoes on.”  I’m not saying she shouldn’t say these things, but I don’t hear her simply talk to them, or respond to them, or ask a question not related to the behavior she is seeking or correcting.

Based on the their names, which I won’t use, even though I really like them, she has a boy and a girl, and maybe a pumpkin.  The pumpkin occasionally delights her, though she can switch back to the annoyed voice in no time at all to speak to another child.

I don’t know how old the children are.  I don’t hear their voices.  I am pretty sure they aren’t teenagers yet.  Probably preschool-ish.  I wonder how she will communicate with them when she needs to listen.

It probably isn’t fair that I keep quiet and then go inside and blog about her.   She sounds fairly young and lives in an apartment and I don’t hear a daddy’s voice on Saturdays.  The kids are fed and clothed and taken places.  I just wish there were pleasant interactions and a little more enjoyment of parenting.

I wouldn’t mind overhearing that on a Saturday.

I Wish We’d All Been Ready

Click here to see the video.

I got caught up in a video about NFC technology because it made me think about Revelation 13:16-17, which says,  “It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their forehead, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.”  I couldn’t look away.

It’s a long video, and to save you watching it to the end, (spoiler alert) it is selling a year subscription to a monthly newsletter for only $39.00.  However, along the way, it looks a lot like a fulfillment of this prophecy.  I am pretty sure he never read the Book of Revelation.  I don’t think a person could read it and then see this technology and not put the two together.  Especially someone as smart as he is.

I didn’t verify anything this video says, but I have noticed a lot of new devices that take credit cards everywhere.  I have heard of Apple Pay.  How long before this chip becomes so essential that it is implanted under the skin to make sure we don’t lose it, or leave it in the car?  I love technology and its advances, but this is really making me think.

On a side note, not so long ago, I was wondering if the tattoo craze was a way of getting people, even Christians, to be more open to taking “marks” on their skin.  It was just a passing thought, but people are going to have to go somewhere to get their chip implanted, why not their usual tattoo place?  Or their vet.  I just realized veterinarians have already been implanting chips for awhile.  So many things that seem unrelated could, in fact, be pieces of the puzzle.

In Revelation 14:9 and following, it becomes quite clear that we should not take this mark. The consequences are severe.  I don’t know if owning an iPhone 6 with an NFC chip in it would be considered taking the mark.  It says “on” the hand, not “in” the hand.  Though the Apple Watch and Google Glasses are pretty close to “on” the hand and “on” the forehead, but they can also be taken “off.”  It doesn’t appear that you can change your mind about the mark, so it is probably something more permanent.

If the doctor in the video is right and businesses will be mandated to have the equipment to read NFC chips by October 2015, this will be something we face in our lifetimes.

At what point do we opt out?  I was in high school when “A Thief in the Night” and its sequel came out.  Their terrifying interpretation of Revelation 13 and 14 was simple enough.  When you refuse the mark on your hand or forehead, they hunt you down and chop off your head.  (Video here.  The scene starts at 1 hour, 10 minutes, if you want to skip to it.)  It was scary and futuristic and I preferred not to think about it.

Now it looks like it won’t be frightening or forced on us at all.  It will just get more and more inconvenient to buy or sell without an NFC chip.  If Revelation 13:17 is right, it will become impossible.  The decision won’t come in a dramatic moment when our name is called and we are asked if we will take the mark or die.  It will just be the next new technology.  Not so different from the one before it.  Like the switch to digital TV.  One day analog was gone and we didn’t notice.

Revelation 13:18 says, “This calls for wisdom.  Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man.  That number is 666.”  I have no idea how to calculate the number, but I have a feeling that will come with time.  The idea of people voluntarily getting the mark was unthinkable in the 70’s, and now it isn’t at all hard to imagine.

Let’s pay attention to this.

A lot has changed since I’ve been here

I haven’t blogged for awhile.  A lot has changed on this site and I don’t know my way around in here anymore.  Hopefully I can figure it out again.  I have been getting tired of procrastinating, so I thought I’d just write something to get me going again.

Meanwhile, I might mention I finally conquered level 132 on Pyramid Solitaire Saga.  It bothers me a bit that I spent so much time on this, and that it really made me happy for a moment to accomplish it.  What does this say about my life?

I also cleaned out the refrigerator today.  My nose is a bit stuffy, so it seemed like a good way to take advantage of that.  Now it is much more obvious that we need to go grocery shopping soon.

We were making good progress on cleaning out the guest room until he got to the paper.  Paper will always slow down a good organizing project.  Now it seems we are blogging and not making progress anymore.

It seems the only way to end a good procrastination is to procrastinate something else.

Grandma Mary

I’m not sure what my first memory of Grandma was. A lot of my early memories come from stories I have heard many, many times. Most of them include a mention that Grandpa had dark hair before I came along and I only remember it as silver. There was the time they were babysitting me and I went into convulsions. I sat on the floor heater with a bare bottom and burned a waffle pattern onto myself. (There are no scars to verify this story.) I climbed up into her cupboard and ate a whole bottle of baby aspirin and had to get my stomach pumped. I don’t remember any of these things, just the stories.

Grandma loved horses, and apparently, once she had a granddaughter, she had to get a horse for her to ride. The horse was named Nuisance and I was terrified of riding her.  I was so grateful when my cousin Randy came along and he actually enjoyed riding her, and I was free.

I remember her dog Tina and when she had puppies. Those puppies were the cutest things out in the barn in a box with a red blanket and a heating lamp.

The house out on the farm by the river was a huge place to play. There was a tank house. There were cows. We’d sit on upside-down buckets and ride in the back of Grandpa’s pickup.

I remember her kitchen, and my favorite cookies. They were store bought, but I knew just where they were. You opened the first cupboard from the kitchen table, the right side door, and they were on the bottom shelf. She also baked cookies, but I really liked those Taffy cookies. Once in awhile I can find them in the store, and they still take me back to Grandma’s kitchen. There was an old wringer washer on the back porch. Funny the things that stick in my mind.

She always had beautiful pictures on her wall. One of my favorites in on my mantel now. She liked pictures that told a story, and you had to look at it over and over again to see all of the details. When she moved out of her home, it was discovered that she had written my name on the back of the one of the girl holding a cat. I’m glad. I’ve always liked it. I guess she knew that.

She had a younger brother who had twin daughters who were about a year older than me. I remember playing in the back room in the house on the farm with Jeannie and Janet and a huge argument broke out. I was outnumbered, but holding my ground. I knew I was right! When Grandma came in to break it up, I don’t know how she stayed so calm! I was insisting her name was “Grandma” and they BOTH said her name was “Aunt Mary.” That was the day I found out that I didn’t know everything.

She saved everything. I guess I got that gene from her. Except my closets and cupboards are not as meticulously organized. As I’m remembering, I’m realizing I got into her cupboards a lot. I hope she didn’t mind.

When Grandpa and Grandma moved into town, they just lived a few blocks away. It was an easy bike ride. The memories from the house on 17th Street are much stronger.

She paid us ten cents a bucket to pick up walnuts in her back yard.  They were really big buckets, too!  I couldn’t do more than one.  We also got a dime for each A on our report cards.

She was crafty.  I remember going over there after school while she was making pin cushions out of large mixing spoons.  They were padded, then covered in velvet, lace, ribbons, and beads.  I thought they were so beautiful!  She had them on the bed in the front bedroom. They looked even more striking against the white satin quilt.  She also made Christmas ornaments with those same kinds of decorations on Styrofoam balls.  I have three of those.  I was over there often before Christmas and helping her make things, like frosted cookies.  One year we made Christmas stockings for each of her grandchildren.  We still use them.  They were made to last!  She had a lot of buttons.  I loved going through them.

She had a pretty calico cat named Lucy.

I was a nail biter, and she had a really hard time with that.  She was always giving me beautiful manicure sets and fancy nail products.  I knew it would mean a lot to her if I would take care of my nails, but I was twenty-four before I finally quit.  Of course, she was happy to see that I finally had some nails.  I still don’t keep them up the way she wanted me to.

She taught me a lot of things.  How to make a bed properly.  How to dry off after a bath.  How to put on a bra.  How to tie a belt into a bow behind my back.  It was important to her to hand wash undergarments.  Some of her lessons I took to heart, others were just too much trouble.  She was an absolute perfectionist when it came to her housework and especially the care of clothing.  She even ironed her sheets and Grandpa’s handkerchiefs.  Her linen closet was a work of art that could have been framed.

She was known for her zwieback.  I especially liked when she dried the leftovers.  She dipped them in her coffee, which always had milk in it.  She liked to tell the story of how she worked hard to learn to make perfect zwieback before she was married.  They are little rolls with a flattish bottom and a round ball on top.  It’s not always easy to get them through the process of shaping and rising without that ball of dough falling off, but she could do it perfectly.  After she was married, though, they kept coming out of the oven with the two parts side-by-side.  She was mortified, and it just kept on happening.  Finally she caught Grandpa in the act.  He liked them with more crust and would go behind her after they were in the oven and flick the tops off.  So the ones they ate at home were a little lopsided, but the ones she brought to church suppers were perfect.

Unlike most women of her era, she never made pies.   I didn’t figure this out, she told me later on in her life.  She always had wonderful desserts, whether cake, sherbet cake (my favorite), or cookies.  Never pie.  I don’t remember the reason.

Grandma really liked to season food with black pepper.  I didn’t care for it, and I’m still not a fan.  Food with pepper always makes me think of her.  I have an odd fragment of a memory of being in a restaurant and being brought a plate with a beautiful baked potato with a nice blob of sour cream on it.  One of my favorite things.  She reached over and shook pepper onto it.  I was stunned.  It was ruined.  I ate it anyway.  I never told her I didn’t like pepper.

I remember after she had surgery to remove her cataracts.  She was so upset to discover that her kitchen counter tile was speckled.  She did not like the speckles.  It didn’t look clean to her.

One Christmas, when I was in college, I stayed in her front bedroom because the dorms at school were closed.  This didn’t go so well.  I did a load of laundry and she discovered that I had included a little bit of everything, including undergarments, in a single load.  Her machines had never seen such horrors.  She gave me quite a lecture on how to sort laundry that day! Unfortunately, her laundry training never took hold.  For years I lived in fear that she would stop by while I was folding laundry.

This was a real fear.  I was sharing an apartment with roommates a few years later and I came home one day and my roommates nervously told me what had happened while I was gone.  Grandma had stopped by.  They said she had gone into my room and was going through my closet and my dresser drawers.  They didn’t know what to do, so they just waited for her to finish.  I never heard about this from Grandma, so it may be safe to assume that I passed inspection.  I guess I’ll never know.

When Grandma gave you something, you had to keep it and you had to use it.  She checked up!  I still have many things that she gave me because of this.  There are also many that I have not kept, and it’s finally safe to say so.  When I was a college student, moving around a lot, I lost some pictures she gave me that her brother Johnny had painted by number.  Forgive me, but I kept them in a dresser drawer.  The dresser was borrowed.  I’m pretty sure it was returned with the paintings still in it.  She would come over and ask about them.  Oh my, the quick thinking I had to do!  She still doesn’t know I lost them.  The life lesson here is if something is truly precious to you, don’t give it to your granddaughter who washes her undies by machine.  It just isn’t going to end well!

As she got older, visiting her still meant doing projects of some kind.  A jigsaw puzzle, organizing her state quarters, taking her shopping, or getting a hamburger.  When she was still able, staying for dinner meant a meal that, besides being liberally sprinkled with pepper, was getting cold by the time you could eat it.  This is because she always took time to pray for each of her children and grandchildren before she ate.  Quite possibly those from her second marriage as well, when she didn’t have company.  

She has been gone from us for awhile.  One visit, several years ago, she asked if Eric was my new boyfriend.  Other visits, she didn’t seem to know me at all, though there was one where she did.  I wish I could remember what we talked about that day.

One time I took her a gift.  A little stuffed dog.  I wrapped it in tissue.  She ignored the puppy and spent the whole visit smoothing and folding the tissue.  Her hands were moving in such a characteristic way as she folded it again and again into a perfect little square.  It was interesting that with the paper she was herself, and yet she didn’t know who I was.  When she ate her lunch, she cleaned her plate.  Apparently she had also forgotten that she was always on a diet.

Alzheimer’s is cruel.  Even though she died today, it isn’t something that just happened, we lost her quite some time ago.

Grandma, say hello to my baby girl there in heaven for me.  Enjoy your new teeth.  So many of your loved ones got there before you, and I know it is a wonderful reunion.  We will see you again one of these days.

TP or not TP?

Years ago I was a custodian for about a year.  My tasks included cleaning the bathrooms and keeping them stocked once a week.  The stalls each had spindles for two rolls of toilet paper.  

The thing I learned in this job is first, that people will always use the roll with the most paper on it, and second, that it’s hard to keep it stocked when there are equally partial rolls on dual spindles.  

It is such a difficult decision whether to leave them both, hoping there was the equivalent of a full roll, switch one out and toss out a half roll, or go for broke and change them both.  I tried leaving the wrapping paper on the full one, only to come back the next week to find two half rolls again.  It would be so much easier if one of them was empty and could simply be replaced with a full roll.

I realized that even though it is years later, as a blogger, I can finally do something about this!  Maybe this post will go viral, to the joy of custodians worldwide!

Please start making a real effort, when there are two rolls of TP in a public restroom, to always use the smaller one.  It goes against nature, believe me, but somewhere there is someone responsible for keeping that stall stocked.  While you are thinking of that person, take a moment to ask God to bless him or her.  Most likely he or she is in a difficult financial situation.

Even though that was a fairly decent conclusion to this post, it seems I have more to say on the subject.  

I could tell which stalls were the most popular by the paper usage.  While you are modifying your behavior based on this blog, keep in mind that the stalls at both ends get used the most.  Consistently.  My theory is that there are people who use the first one they come to, and there are people who go to the last one, thinking it is used less, or for a better sense of privacy.  With only two kinds of people, those who read this blog will become a new third kind, the ones who use the center stalls.

For those who are wondering, the title is a play on words, or an illogical nod to Shakespeare, whichever you prefer, and not at all the subject of this post.  Always TP.

That was another false ending.  One more thing.  I hope only one.  In a home bathroom, the goal is always to avoid using the last square of paper and therefore not be the one who has to put a new roll in place.  It could be the reason why humans are so prone to using the larger roll when there is a choice.  As a human, I fall prey to this goal as much as anyone else, but every so often I get filled with a rebellious sort of love and decide to put a new roll on the spindle while the old one still has a few wraps around it.  That way those who live with me can avoid that one-square-short experience.  

I leave the almost-empty roll on the little shelf right next to the properly installed full roll, but when I return, the full roll has been used and the partial one is still there, in plain sight.  Or I will get a new roll out of the cabinet and leave it on the shelf for the next person who will likely be responsible for changing it.  You got it.  The larger one gets used from the shelf.  

I hope this has been educational for you!


I come from a large family, and I am so grateful that at Christmas I don’t have to buy a gift for everyone.  The last few years we have been regifting instead.  We choose a gift from among our own possessions to take to the gift exchange.  I’ve already noticed something in my garage that might be just perfect for someone.  Actually, two things.  It will be hard to choose which one to take.  

The benefits to this plan are many.  We save money and hassle by not having to buy gifts.  We get to think about all that we have and how we already have more than we need.  We share something that is ours, not an impersonal store-bought item. In my case, I can give a nicer gift from my own possessions than I can afford to buy new.  This makes me happy.

We open the gifts one at a time and play a game where the next person in line, usually youngest to oldest, can either open a wrapped gift, or steal one that has already been opened.  When an opened gift is taken, the person who lost it can choose a wrapped gift or take an opened one.  There are some rules for how many times an item can be stolen and such so that we are forced to move on if a gift is especially desirable.  As the oldest, going last has the advantage of all but one of the gifts are opened.  When the last gift is opened, the person who went first gets a chance to steal, and that is the last round.  It’s a fun way to determine who gets what and we are generally pleased with the results.  If not, we are ready for next year!

We also have stockings which we fill with treats and/or small gifts for each other.  

It really is possible to enjoy a Christmas celebration without expensive gifts that nobody can afford.