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Disrespected

I have a friend, we'll call her Becky.  Becky is about the same age as me.  This morning Becky signed in to her online bank account to discover that floating rumors had become a reality... her direct deposit paycheck was not in her account. 

Although it was no great secret that the company she worked for was experiencing a serious financial shortfall, it had never been officially acknowledged, and no one believed that paychecks would take the first hit.  Surely the power that be had a back up plan, or funds set aside for just such an emergency?  And if not, what about a short term bank loan?

Becky drove to work in silence, wondering what news the day was going to bring.  Her coworkers arrived shortly after her, and were equally stunned when she let them know that their pay had also likely gone missing, two weeks worth of work done, uncompensated.

A few minutes later the supervisor who managed their branch of the business arrived.  Becky said "We have a serious problem this morning." 

"Yes," he replied, "we do."  He went on to tell them that there had been talk of payroll failure last Friday, but when he left he believed that sufficient funds had been received to cover it.  He was wrong, his paycheck wasn't in the bank either.

One would think that the company owner or the chief financial officer would surely have some kind of message waiting for staff upon arrival - at very least an email apologizing for the delay and letting them know things would quickly be made right.  But nothing was forthcoming, not one word.  Becky was now as much angry as she was stunned.  Surely the hardworking staff deserved better treatment than this!

Less than an hour later the chief financial officer called to inquire about funds deposited from the weekend.  He and Becky had a cordial phone relationship, as he called her every day for this information. Becky provided the amount of the deposit, which was not nearly enough to cover the semi-monthly payroll for the staff at the home office and it's five branches.  Payments had been trickling in lately, and they both knew it was lucky there was a deposit of any kind. 

Becky then told him matter-of-factly, "We didn't get paid today," stating the obvious. 

"I know, but it wasn't our fault" he said without explanation, then added, "the checks should be in your accounts tomorrow." 

"I hope so," Becky replied soberly, and ended the conversation before she said something she would regret. She relayed this information to her coworkers and the office manager.  He told her that the home office was promoting the story that the payroll processing firm was to blame for the payday error, however he had it on good report that the real issue was lack of funds, as suspected.  The rest of the day passed with everyone working studiously at there desks, heads down.  There was little of the usual socialization.  No one felt much like conversation.

Becky waited, silently simmering, hoping that surely her manager would pass the word along to the owner that something needed to be said to reassure employees.  Although he agreed with her in principle, it didn't happen.  The day ended without a single official word to employees about not getting paid.

Becky had long since promised herself  that she would no longer work for employers that didn't respect her or value her contribution to their business.  She had some bad ones before, really bad, bosses that made life miserable.  Now here she was again, backed into a corner by a boss who was clearly hiding out with his head in the sand.  "Probably embarrassed," as the manager had put it. 

Becky feels that she and her coworkers had been disrespected by not receiving any advance notice that they would not be paid, and now no effort had been was being made to explain the situation or offer information about how it would be remedied. Had she been thirty or even forty, Becky would have given her two week notice today and started job hunting. However, my friend Becky is now sixty, and knows all too well that  jobs for older women are hard to come by.  Becky's only option is to continue working where she is, at least for the present. 

Becky believes that honesty is essential to good leadership, that communication is always the best answer, and that ignoring problems never makes them go away. She suspects that her employer is going to learn all this soon enough. She is praying that she isn't pulled under if the ship begins to sink.

Thankful Thoughts - June 28th


It's Saturday and I woke of feeling grateful this morning.  There are many reasons for that, here are some of them...

1.  I woke up with Papa Bear beside me, knowing that we have the weekend to spend together.  He only gets one Saturday off work each month, and it's such a blessing to have more time together, and for him to have some time to rest and relax.  Working on your feet six days a week when you are sixty-one is hard.  I am grateful he will have the next three days off, and then another three day weekend next week due to Independence Day! 

2.  Before the days of the Internet I didn't have very many people in my life outside of coworkers and a husband that wasn't very kind or loving.  Through the miracle of blogging I've met so many amazing people. It has changed my life entirely!  Just as the quote says up there, I am so thankful for all the people in my life who are loving and kind, and who inspire me to be more like them.

3. I am so very thankful that the surgery to repair the detached retina on my niece's eye went very well, stopping the hemorrhage and swelling.  It will be a period of weeks and months before we know the final result of restoring her vision, but I am trusting God will return her ability to see clearly.

4.  I am thankful for a fun lunch with one of my former supervisor's yesterday.  We had a lot of catching up to do and the time went by so fast.  I really like her.  I felt blessed that being twenty-five years younger than me, she still enjoys my company enough to invite me out to lunch.  I am also thankful for some really good things that are happening in her life.

5.  I am thankful for a work week that ended with me closer to being caught up with paperwork than usual.  The last couple days were not as fully booked with appointments and it gave us all a chance to breathe.  We are gratefully looking forward to the short workweek next week too!  How nice that Independence Day falls on a Friday, giving everyone a long weekend. 

6.  I was so thankful for our weather on Wednesday this week, it was cooler (in the low 80's) and overcast all day with a light breeze.  It was so much nicer than the usual sweltering sun, a perfect day to be outside!  It made me remember how nice summer can be, and I have to admit that it made it hard for me to return to the office after enjoying my lunch at the nearby park. :-)

7.  I am thankful for the automatic icemaker in  my fridge. I laugh at how spoiled our lives truly are, remembering the days of filling metal trays with water, then carrying them carefully  across the floor to the freezer, trying not to let them slosh.  We had several, but in the summertime they were used sparingly, because it took time to make more.  I don't remember us ever buying bags of ice except for picnics or large gatherings.  Now we just open up the freezer door and there it is, always plentiful.  I am thankful for life's little luxuries.  I know that there are people everywhere in our world who would be grateful for just having clean, safe water to drink, that humbles me. 

8.  I am thankful for what I don't have anymore... a controlling relationship!  I watched a coworker struggle this week with a partner that controls her life in every way, in effect giving her no real life of her own.  She knows it, and it makes her very sad, but she is not yet ready to break free of it.  I remember living that way, and my heart goes out to her.  We talk a lot and I am hopeful that one day she will see that her life doesn't have to be like that.  I am thankful beyond words that my new life with Papa Bear has set me free from that kind of  tyranny.

9.  I am thankful for the Visa gift cards John won in a sales promotion at work.  They will enable us to have needed brake work done in my Escape.  I smile in the knowledge that although we don't have a great deal of money, we do our best and God provides a little extra help now and then.
 
10.  I am thankful for the amazing blessings of hope for tomorrow and each day after!  Even on days that are not so great, or times in my life where it seems that everything is going wrong (and we all have those times), I have a sold faith that tells me it is going to be okay.  Given time and prayers, life will right itself again and there will be a new day bringing reasons to smile again.  Hope is essential to life, we need it to find the strength to go on.  Hope is wonderful, and it's something we can share!
I'm linking up with Lizzi at Considerings for Ten Things of Thankful ... 
drop by, check out the awesome posts, and add a list of your own!
Ten Things of Thankful
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
If you enjoy creative writing and want a place to share your efforts,
 join me for Two Shoes Tuesday this week!

What I Meant To Say

I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures today, where the word we are Pondering this week is "mean"...  

If I said it, I'll own up to it, and I probably meant it.  However, the problem is often that what I meant to say isn't at all what came out, or maybe it is that you didn't understand what I meant by what I said.

Confusing?  Yes, it sure can be!  We have such enormous vocabularies, our brains have stored up more words and their meanings than we can possibly count, yet when it comes to human interaction we are often reduced to bumbling, mumbling, and stumbling in our efforts to convey our thoughts and feelings to each other.

If a situation is emotionally charged, it can sometimes be easier to resort to written communication which requires a bit more thought than shouting at each other, but it can also be argued that the written word is devoid of the physical gestures and facial cues that help convey the sentiment behind our words. Was the author angry, sad, hurt, confused or just being reflective? 

I think most of us have found ourselves in the situation of having said something that we thought was reasonable and clear, only to have the other person respond with confusion, hurt or even anger.  Times like that can be so frustrating, obviously something went amiss. 

I am a fairly open person, and tend to speak spontaneously.  That is good and bad.  It doesn't often leave people wondering what I'm thinking, but at times I have a tendency to say too much, just as Maxine refers to in the quote up there.  Truly, we don't need to say everything we think, and it is  probably better if we don't!  "Is it kind?  Is it necessary?  Is it fair?"  Good tests to help filter our words, so that we not only say what we mean, but say it in a way that won't offend or do more harm than good. 

We all want to be understood.  When I tell you about something important to me, I harbor the hope that you will not only understand the message and what it means, but also where I'm coming from when I say it.  I hope that you will understand what it means to me, how personal the issue might be. I hope that you will overlook the abruptness of my response, and the rough edges of my language, and seek the deeper meaning my words are trying to convey. 

I believe that when I ask "What did you mean by that?" it  is a fair question.  It means that I'm not certain I understood your message or the motivation behind it.  I am seeking further clarification so that I don't jump to the wrong conclusions and respond in a manner that I will regret later. 

"Don't asks if you don't want the answer" is probably a good rule when you want to know what someone meant by what they said.  If you ask me what I mean, I will try my best to explain, and I will do so honestly.  I will spend as much time as it takes to try to reach an understanding.  I hope you would do he same for me.  I can deal with the fallout from honesty, what I cannot deal with very well  is the uncertainty of vagueness and what you keep hidden from me.  Please don't do me any favors by keeping things from me, because really you aren't... go ahead and tell me what you mean!
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Head on over to Brenda's place and see what others are Pondering today!

Bart's Reward

~photo by Papa Bear~
 
My name's Bart.  That's me sitting up there on the platform.  Mr. Ader named me after his plow horse, he bought me when the old horse died.  He said he needed to be keepin' up with the times.  I guess he was so used to Bart's name by then that he figured it would be easier to keep on using it.  That's fine by me, I figured that it meant he was kinda  proud of  me, since everyone said he used to boast about all the work old Bart could do.  
 
I was something to see when Mr. Ader brought me home some sixty years ago, straight from the factory with a shiny coat of paint and brand new tires.  His wife came out of the house still wearing her apron to take a picture of Mr. Ader standing next to me, and a couple of his neighbors dropped by to take a look and check out my fancy electric starter and three point hitch.   "Top of the line" Mr. Ader had said proudly, his chest all puffed up and his thumbs hooked behind the straps of his bib overalls. There were amazed at how much power I had!
 
I proved my worth to Mr. Ader time and time again over the next thirty years as we planted and tended cotton fields together on his little farm here in west Texas.  In good years we were in high cotton, and I loved pulling that wagon for the cotton pickers to fill.  There were some hard years too, when we lost the biggest part of it to drought, or grasshoppers or hailstorms.  Those times I could see the worry in Mr. Ader's face, but he had a powerful lot of faith in The Almighty and always said that God was gonna make it up to us the next year, and usually He did.  
 
About the time I was getting old and had been repaired, mended, and wired back together about as many times as tractor could be, Mr. Ader was getting well along in years too.  He decided it was time to give up farming and retire. That was the last time I was ever put to use.  It was a sad day for all of us when he and Mrs. Ader moved to a little house in town.  I saw a tear roll down his cheek when he patted me before they drove away.  I know it was his way of thanking me for all the work I did, and I was glad that I had served him well.
 
 Mr. Ader's son moved into the farmhouse with his wife and their four kids.  He bought a bunch of fancy new equipment including a tractor that was huge compared to me.  It had an enclosed cab, and I heard it even had a radio and cool air.  Wow!  Mr. Ader wouldn't have known what to make of all those fancy gadgets and gauges!
 
I  was parked behind the barn along with old implements I used to pull, and I sat there for the next several years slowly rusting away.  Then one day old Mr. Ader showed up with a big tractor trailer and said he was gonna take me someplace real special.  I couldn't wait to see what he had in mind.  We drove down the road to the little town where he was living, and he pulled up at a little park on the edge of town.  I was surprised to see a big crane waiting for us next to a steel tower like the kind they use for water tanks.  Mr. Ader supervised as they fastened chains around me and that crane lifted me high into the air like I was light as a feather.  It swung me over and set me down gently on the platform of that tower, then they removed the chains. 
 
I heard Mr. Ader telling the folks that had gathered to watch what was happening, that I was a symbol of the early farming in this part of the country, and that he never would have made it on the farm if it hadn't been for me.  He wanted people who drove by or came to the park to play, to remember this part of our west Texas history, and that's why he put me in a place of honor way up high.  He said it was my reward for all those years of working so hard.
 
I really like sittin' way up here... I can watch the sunrises and the sunsets, and they're pretty amazing here in west Texas!  I can see a lot of what's happening around town too.  Mr. Ader drops by every now and then and sits on the park bench down below.  It feels good, just like the old days when we were together on the farm.  You know, this retirement thing has turned out pretty good for both of us after all.

 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ 
This story was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are retire and reward.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!
Two Shoes Tuesday

Two Shoes Tuesday #84 - Retire or Reward

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
 
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through Saturday night. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

The June 24th writing themes to choose from are retire and reward  

Thankful Thoughts - June 21st

 
It's Saturday and that means it's time for me to tally up some blessings from the week for Ten Things of Thankful...

1.  I saw the above quote on Facebook this week and loved it, because I think it's so true. When we start noticing the little things in our life that we are thankful for, it changes our whole demeanor and approach to life... it makes us more positive, more cheerful, and much nicer to be around.  That in turn makes the world nicer for those around us... initiating an awesome chain reaction!   I am thankful for all the little ordinary things that make my life good and give me reasons to smile, even on days when there are some big things trying to weigh me down.

2.  I am thankful for the joy and smiles shared when our friend and co-host Christine from A Fly On Our (Chicken Coop) Wall met up with Lizzi of Considerings, the mastermind of TToT,  this week. From the photos, it was obvious they were having such a great time!  Nothing is more fun than finally meeting someone in person that you've gotten to know well online. Frosting on the cake!

3.  I am thankful beyond words for the drenching thirty-minute downpour of rain we had here on Wednesday night.  We needed it so badly, and the weeds in the yard loved it!  Yes... even weeds deserve a blessing now and then... we will chop off their head soon enough!!!  :-)  It also provided a free car wash to our vehicles which were covered in Texas dust, and made the world smell fresh and clean again.  Is there anything nicer than the smell of rain?

4.  I am thankful for good, thoughtful text conversations with both my daughter and a step-daughter this week.  I've been sharing daily with my sisters too.   Staying in communication with those we love is so important!  Balancing my time is hard for me, there never seems to be enough to cover all the bases, but I'm making time for the people that need me the most, I know I'll never regret the time and effort expended.  I am thankful that I am working on reordering my priorities! :-)

5.  I am so thankful for the faith and survivor spirit of my niece.  She learned on Friday that she now has a detached retina in her right eye, yet another diabetic-related vision problem.  Surgery will be done on Tuesday to repair it.  She is hanging in there and taking life day by day, even when it's scary.  I'd be thankful for prayers on her behalf on Tuesday too!

6.  I am thankful for Papa Bear's topic suggestions/requests for future Two Shoes Tuesday stories.  I am grateful that he is so supportive of my writing and enjoys reading what I write.  I'll be using one of his ideas, and a photo he took, next week... watch for it! :-)

7.  I am thankful that I've learned over the years that I don't have to be able to do things perfectly in order to participate and have fun with it.  Too often we shy away from doing something we enjoy because we don't think we do it well enough.  In fact I'm thinking of writing a post on that very subject.

8.  I am thankful for my new glasses which finally came in Thursday... Wow.. I can see clearly now! :-)  Sometimes we tend to let things go longer than we've should.  I've needed new glasses for a couple years now and I recognized the benefit of the new strong prescription immediately... far less eye strain, much clearer picture.  Grateful!! 

9.  I am thankful that Papa Bear is always there to listen when life situations are getting to me.  He is a great source of counsel and comfort and of course big bear hugs too!  I am thankful that I am able to express my fears and doubts, and then lay it down, knowing that what happens is in God's hand... hand much bigger and more capable  than mine.

10.  I am thankful for the little globe willow tree that we planted out front when we moved here. It is growing well in a climate that is hostile to growing things, and is managing to withstand the tests of  heat, drought, high-winds, and even hail.  I hope it continues to thrive and grow big enough to provide shade for many years to come.  My tree has a survivor spirit, that makes me smile! :-)

That's it for this week... time to get ready an early Saturday dinner date with the Papa Bear.  If you find yourself feeling down and out this week, remember this and start making notes for next week's TToT...
I'm linking up with Lizzi at Considerings for Ten Things of Thankful ... 
drop by, check out the awesome posts, and add a list of your own!
Ten Things of Thankful
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
If you enjoy creative writing and want a place to share your efforts,
 join me for Two Shoes Tuesday this week!

Catch A Falling Star

Today I'm Pondering with Brenda at BYG Adventures, where the writing prompt for this week is "catch".  Here's my story...
 
Mina stood on the back porch wrapped in an old quilt, cradling a cup of steaming coffee in her hands.  It had been six months since her husband Chase had lost his battle with cancer, and she missed him so much at times like this.  She remembered all the nights they spent snuggling together on the porch swing, gazing up at the stars and making wishes for the years to come. 
 
 On warm summer nights Chase would bring out his guitar and sing to her...
Catch a falling star an' put it in your pocket
Never let it fade away
Catch a falling star an' put it in your pocket
Save it for a rainy day....


Tears begin to trickle down Mina's cheeks as she realized that none of those wishes were every going to come true.  Heartbroken, she headed back inside the house and closed the door behind her.  She knew that staying busy was the key to not drowning in her sorrow; if she let her mind wonder off, the pain became too much to endure.
 
Mina returned to the difficult task she had started earlier that day, packing up Chase's clothes so she could take them to the Second Chances charity store in town.  Every shirt she pulled from its hanger brought sweet memories.  She held each one close to her face hoping for some lingering scent of the man she loved.  
 
The red flannel shirt was one of Mina's favorites, nothing lit her passion like the sight of Chase wearing it.  He knew that and often teased her that she was more enamored with the shirt than him, and that maybe any guy in a red flannel shirt would do.  She would laugh and tell him that was impossible, no one could ever warm her heart like he did. 
 
As Mina slipped the red flannel shirt from it's hanger and folded it in half to fit the big cardboard box, something fell from the pocket, and landed on the hardwood floor.  Surprised, she bent over to see what it was.  
 
A small velvet box laid at her feet.  Mina had never seen it before.  Puzzled, she picked the box up and opened it gently.  Inside, she found a ring made of shining silver with two intertwining loops that came together in the shape of a star. In the middle of the star was a sparkling diamond.  Holding it up to the light, Mina discovered that the inside of the band was inscribed with words that said simply... "Never let it fade away."
 
Mina slipped the ring on her finger, not surprised to find that it fit perfectly.  Chase must have been planning to give it to her for their tenth anniversary that was only a few weeks away.  Mina knew that in finding the ring now, Chase was letting her know that the love they shared would last forever.  She closed her eyes tightly and could almost envision him standing there smiling. She could feel him close, and knew at that moment that she was going to be ok.
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Head on over to Brenda's place and see what others are Pondering!

What Summer Brought

 Summer was eagerly anticipated by all of Whisper's friends.  It meant freedom... endless hours of playtime, and no more school.  Things were different in Whisper's world. She dreaded summer and acted out for weeks before it's arrival, frustrating her mother who didn't understand. 
 
Just a few days after school ended, Whisper would be put on an airplane and sent to spend the Summer with her father who lived several states away. She loved her father and all the fun things that they did together; what she hated was the secret that he warned her not to tell.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 
This piece of flash-fiction was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are summer and storm.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!
Two Shoes Tuesday

Two Shoes Tuesday #83 - Summer or Storm

Two Shoes Tuesdsay

Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through Saturday night. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

The June 17th writing themes to choose from are summer and storm

Watch This!

Today I'm Pondering with Brenda at BYG Adventures, where the writing prompt for this week is "watch".  Here's my story...
 
From the time she was very small, Debbie loved to jump from high places.  She would fling  herself into the air from atop a haystack, a tree branch, or a swing sailing into the air.  "Watch this!" she would call out to her mother.  The little girl was fearless, but always managed to land safely, no bones broken... perhaps with thanks due to guardian angels working overtime. 
 
As she grew older Debbie put her love of leaping from high places to good use as she competed in gymnastics in the winter and swim meets in the summer, flying off the top of acrobatic pyramids and slipping effortlessly off high diving boards into the pool.  At each event she would scan the crowd until she spied her mother... "Watch this, Mom" the excitement in her eyes seemed to convey. The shelves in her bedroom were lined with ribbons and trophies attesting to her level of her performance.
 
It came as no surprise to her mother when Debbie chose to celebrate her 21st Birthday with the biggest jump of all... her first independent skydive.  "Watch this!" she shouted to the video cameraman just before she hurled herself out of the airplane and began the free-fall which would soon be followed by her chute opening and Debbie gliding to the earth, face glowing with delight just as it had when she sailed from the top of haystacks so many years ago.
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Head on over to Brenda's place and see what others are Pondering today!

Let's Pretend


Let's pretend it never happened,
travel back in time before it all got said. 
 
Let's pretend the tears were only raindrops,
growing roses in the flowerbed.
 
What's the point in us reliving sorrows,
recalling words that cut until we bled?
 
Let's pretend it never happened,
let's remember that we loved instead.
 
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
This post was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are pretend and pop.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!
Two Shoes Tuesday

Two Shoes Tuesday #82 - Pretend or Pop

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through Saturday night. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

The June 10th writing themes to choose from are pretend and pop

Thankful Thoughts - June 7th

I'm doing my Ten Things of Thankful list on the fly today since Papa Bear is due home in less than an hour, and then we're headed to Lubbock for an overnite stay and a visit to Joe's Crab Shack. :-)  I'm in a pretty good frame of mind today, so I think this is going to be easy.  The fact is, once I get started it usually goes quickly, my attitude improves with each thing I think of.  I bet it works that way for you too!  Here goes...

1.  I'm thankful for and thrilled about the new Ten Things of Thankful Facebook group that Lizzi has started!  I see great potential for more daily sharing and interaction, especially for those of us who really don't have a whole lot of time to post and comment.  I also have a couple friends who don't blog but are sweethearts and could really use a positive place such as this to connect and share!

2.  I'm so very thankful that God sent my beloved Papa Bear to earth sixty-one years ago today! If I never would have had the chance to meet him I never would have known just how awesome a man can be, and how very wonderful it is to be so truly loved! 

3.  I'm thankful that Papa Bear is a techie, and is never afraid to take on new electronic toys. My system is to let him get them first and figure out all the tricks, then when I get one he can teach me! :-)  I got him an iPad for his birthday (he got it a little early because I wanted him to have it), and he loves it, takes it along to work with him every day and reads his e-book at noon, which is a very relaxing break from the stress of his job.  I know a lot of people who are afraid to try new things, not having enough confidence in themselves to learn them.  I am that way with some things.  Papa Bear is never afraid to try anything, he figures things out for himself and learns quickly. I wish we could bottle and sell that!

4.  I'm super-thankful to discover that we have awesome vision insurance at work.  I've needed new glasses for about two years now and with tri-focal lenses the cost is high.  Recently I've had a lot of eye strain and trouble with things getting fuzzy at the end of the day, especially when you consider that I stare at a computer screen about ten hours a day or more on average!  So I gathered up my courage and made an appointment, dreading what the bill was going to be.  The total cost for an exam, tri-focal lenses, and really nice frames?  Twenty dollars!!  Seriously, that's all the co-pay was!  I did pay an extra $20 for them to photograph the inside of my eyes, with advancing age it's good to keep an eye things in there. :-)  I also paid $90 for glare/scratch protection which is guaranteed for a full year.  I need both, I'm hard on my glasses and the flickering lights of monitors is hard on me. So, for less than $150 I'll have some great new glasses that I can see much better with ready in about a week!  I did not get the very modern mini-rectangle heavy frames look.  UGH, definitely not me! I chose some large gold wire-rims that will work nicely for tri-focal lenses and compliment my chubby face. :-))  Money not needed for glasses enabled me to treat Papa Bear to an overnight out of town fir his birthday!

5.  I'm thankful that God is doing some wonderful things in the lives of the kids at Red Cloud Indian School that I've known since they were first-graders thirteen years ago!  Watching them grow up and being able to stay in touch with them through letters, phone calls, Bebo and now Facebook has been an incredible blessing in my life!  The first class graduated last year, and a second group just a few weeks ago.  I am so very proud of each and every one of them, and so pleased with the ones who are choosing to head off the reservation for college or a military career.  When you live in a depressed environment such as the rez is, it can be very hard to believe you can have a better life, and I am grateful that I can be a witness to all the wonderful things they are doing!  I'm also thankful that I am privileged to know them and their families and to be able to cheer them on!

6. This one is sure to make you laugh, but I'm dead serious... I'm thankful for nice soft toilet tissue!  The stuff they buy at the building where I work is like tissue paper, 1 layer thick and rough!  It can be a little irritating to say the least.  That got me thinking about my parent's childhood before the days of buying tp rolls from the store... torn pages from catalogs, and corncobs (seriously...OUCH) sound very unpleasant.  So I'll just continue to be very thankful that we can afford plenty of cushy TP at home!  And if we leave a roll on the roller by mistake, the furkids will be happy to unroll and pre-shred it for our convenience! :-))

7.  I am thankful for my niece's courage and survivor spirit.  She is 38 and facing some very serious diabetes-related issues with her vision and eyes.  It's scary, and I know she's scared too, but she hangs in there just as she always has through all the tough things life has thrown at her, and I have no doubt that she will find a way to manage this too.  I'd also be thankful for all prayers offered on her behalf!

8.  I am thankful for Papa Bear's strong organizational skills.  One of the things he taught me when I met him was to always have an overnight bag packed and ready.  We keep one under the bed with all the necessary toiletries, and such, so that when we want or need to go somewhere quickly, all we have to do is add our medications, and a few changes of clothes, and we're ready to go!  No forgetting a toothbrush, or a phone charger cord due to last minute preparations!

9.  I am thankful for my awesome, caring kids who both gave Papa Bear something for his birthday, including a very funny card from my daughter about squirrels and nuts.  Squirrels are an ongoing joke between them, as she feeds them, and when he was young he used to stock the freezer with them for his mother to cook.   He always to fatten hers up a little more when we are coming to visit! :-)  Papa Bear's kids aren't big about sending gifts and/or greeting cards, and we all like to be remembered on our special days, so I'm proud of mine for realizing what a great guy he is and making an extra effort to show him that they appreciate how happy he makes their mom.

10. Ten already?  Wow, less than 30 minutes!  (Rest assured I could go on like this for hours, so ten is a good limit, must to the relief of everyone else's eyes!)  I am thankful and happy that I reconnected with four old friends from high-school on Facebook this week. Keep in mind I haven't been I high school for more than forty years!  It was fun to do a bit of catching up and to note that we've all grown a little chubbier around the middle.  We've shared some fun memories of days gone by!

That's it... I'm outta here, time to feed the furkids and get the cooler filled with drinks for the road!  Wishing you all a relaxing weekend.  I leave you with this thought for the coming week... Joy is not a destination... it is a choice, a way of life!
 
I'm linking up with Lizzi at Considerings for Ten Things of Thankful ... 
drop by, check out the awesome posts, and add a list of your own!
Ten Things of Thankful
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If you enjoy creative writing and want a place to share your efforts,
 join me for Two Shoes Tuesday this week!

Friday Four Fill-In Fun - June 6th

Feeling Beachie

I'm joining Hilary at Feeling Beachie for Follow Friday Four Fill-In Fun.  Hilary provides four statements with blanks for us to fill in and share on her blog-hop. Come join the fun!
 The Statements:
  1. ___ is the best time to ____
  2. I ___ the best____
  3. I feel _________ about sports
  4. _____ is better with ____
The Answers:
  1. Now is the best time to tell people that you love them. You may never have another opportunity!
  2. I believe the best way to live life is in a spirit of cooperation and service to others.
  3. I feel apathetic about sports.  I think that professional athletes are overpaid.
  4. Everywhere is better with free Wi-Fi! :-)

Fire Fountains


I'm linking up with Brenda at BYG Adventures today, where the word we are Pondering this week is "fire"....   

Fireflies... fireplace... fireworks... and firewater all came to mind, but my favorite connection to the word fire comes in the form of fire fountains.  Have you ever seen one?  They are amazing creations where gas line feeds are used to keep a flame burning in the midst of falling water, like the fire fountain pictured above.  As with so many opposites in life, one tends to think that water and fire could not possibly co-exist in beautiful harmony, and yet they do.  I could easily spend hours staring into one, mesmerized by the dance of these two sacred elements combined. 

Last year I wrote a story about my first encounter with a fire fountain, a moment in time that remains clear in my mind, although it took place forty year ago.  Some of you may remember it.  If not, you can read about it here..

Then head on over to Brenda's place and see what others are Pondering today!
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Clumsy As A Bear

One of the items on our vacation agenda last month was a trip to the Memphis Zoo.  Of all the  animals on display, my favorite was the polar bear.  I am in love with polar bears! Maybe it's because they are so beautiful in their luxurious white fur coats.  Other kinds of bears... brown bears, black bears, and grizzly's have always felt far more intimidating, though certainly the raw power of this huge white beast is formidable.  There is no doubt he could do serious damage if I encountered him in his domain; in fact, I would most likely meet my fate as a tasty dinner.  Yet still, I cannot help but watch him in total awe.


While observing the bear's movements from the other side of the glass observation wall, I remembered an expression from my childhood... "clumsy as a bear".  It's true that bears on land seem rather ungainly, lumbering along with their big behinds, knocking over barrels and wrecking havoc at campsites while searching for something (or someone) good to eat.  Yet, as I watched this beautiful beast slip into his swimming pool time and again in pursuit of food being dropped to him from out of sight above, I was struck by his agility as he moved gracefully through the water, never failing to make the catch even though the pieces of fish were small.  One time he actually caught the chunk of fish with his rear foot and nimbly lifted it to retrieve the fish with his mouth.  It was almost like watching a water ballet  as he dived and turned, and stood again to look up in anticipation of more food.  At one point he pushed off from the glass wall with his gigantic back foot, giving us a wonderful view of  it's underside,  much to the delight of children gathered along the glass to watch.  Clearly he was at home in his natural element and enjoying his time in the water.



I couldn't help but reflect on how this translates to our perception of people.  Sometimes they seem so ungainly as they move clumsily through life, and often times we fail to perceive their beauty.  Maybe part of this awkwardness is because our spirits must contend with the bodies we wear and find a way to negotiate life in places and situations that feel anything but comfortable.  It's unfortunate that we can't see each other as we are in the spirit realm, free and being what we were designed to be, in a place that will surely feel like home, just as water does for the polar bear.  


In the mean time, the next time I encounter someone who appears a bit ungainly, maybe I'll stop and take a second look, and see what grace and beauty might be found beneath the rough disguise.  

The Refuge

The little cabin  tucked back in the trees had belonged to Lana's grandfather.  He used to bring her here when she was young, and they'd spend the day together fishing in the little stream out back. Those days were bright spots in Lana's life, a life that wasn't often happy.  Her mama had what her daddy said was "mental problems"; she tended to scream and yell, and throw things a lot.  It was easy to make her angry, no matter how hard Lana tried to be good. She loved her grandpa for coming to her rescue, and she came to think of the little cabin as her safe place, a refuge from the scary world.

Those days were past now. Lana's grandpa had gone to Heaven, and the little cabin belonged to her. She came here from time to time when she needed to escape life in the big city, even though the drive took a couple hours.  When she sat on an old tree branch with her feet dangling in the water, all the sadness and weariness slowly slipped away. 

At the cabin Lana was able to forget that her mama was worse off now, and that visiting her in the hospital unit made Lana cry.  She forgot that her father had finally had enough one day and left them,  and that the man she had hoped to marry had decided that he wasn't the marrying kind.

Here, at her little refuge in the trees, Lana could breathe freely, she could sleep without having nightmares, and she could eat fresh-caught fish for her supper as the sun slowly dropped behind the trees. Night time found her curled up in the old rocking chair, where her grandpa had sat so many times. She read by the light of her propane lantern, and wrote notes to herself in the journal that she'd brought. It only took a few days now and then for Lana to begin to feel whole again, and to believe that it was still possible that her life could turn out good.

Lana prayed every day just like her grandpa taught her, and hoped and waited for things to improve.  She didn't know that God was already busy on her behalf, and the stranger about to knock on the cabin door was going to change her life in ways she couldn't even imagine.

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This post was written for Two Shoes Tuesday
where the theme choices this week are ring and refuge.
If you enjoy writing, come and join us!
Two Shoes Tuesday

Two Shoes Tuesday #81 - Ring or Refuge

Two Shoes Tuesdsay
Welcome to Two Shoes Tuesday...  a place for those who love to write!

There are two word prompts to choose from... you can use whichever one inspires you. You are not required to include them both. You do not have to include the prompt word, but please use it as the theme for your post. You are welcome to write a post for each prompt word, if you like. Posts unrelated to either word prompt will be deleted from the link list.

Your contribution must be in the form of an original poem, essay, or short story (fiction or non-fiction), and it must be a new piece - not something drawn from your other writings or archives.

Your link must go directly to your post for Two Shoes Tuesday, and somewhere in the post you must provide a link to Two Shoes Tuesday.  It doesn't need to be big or fancy, just a text or logo link at the end of your post will be fine. You can add a link anytime through Saturday night. 

Please take some time to visit as many of the other TST participants as possible during the week, we all love feedback on our efforts!  Feel free to email me at jts.2000@yahoo.com if you have any questions.

The June 3rd writing themes to choose from are ring and refuge