I Cannot Live Without Books

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This sign hangs in my library/office.  And it is true.  As a young girl I discovered books and my love for them has never faded.

As a child, there was Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.  Through Charles Dickens I met memorable characters such as David Copperfield, Pip, Oliver Twist and of course, Tiny Tim and Scrooge.

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As a teenager I loved the books by Grace Livingston Hill.  Hill’s books were romantic stories where the heroine was either a Christian or came to be a Christian in the course of the story.

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Then I found mystery books and loved Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson along with Agatha Christie’s detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

My favorite book as a child was Hurlbut’s  Bible for Young and Old.  Here I met characters like David, Daniel, Deborah, Ruth and had my first introduction to poetry through the book of Psalms.  As you can see, this book is well worn.  Although I do not read it now it sits in a favorite spot on my bookcase.

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When I had my own children I bought them more books than toys.  Through the years my collection of books continued to grow.  Even when our budget was tight, I always found room for a book.  One friend told me if I sold my books, I could get completely out of debt.  But there was no way I could survive without my books.

Last year when we downsized from a nine-room home to a five-room condo, I knew some books would have to go.  But how to decide what to keep, what to give away.  We donated over ten boxes of books to a local Christian school.  It was painful to part with them.

Now I am down to just three bookcases.  No room for more.  Yet I find myself still buying books.  Appealing to my husband to help me stop this obsession with books, he came home from local yard sales this week with more books he found for me.

My favorite category of books is biographies of the leaders of our nation.  From our presidents George Washington to Theodore Roosevelt to George W Bush to others who  like Henry Clay, Benjamin Franklin, Sojourner Truth, Marie Curie, Jeannette Rankin and Frederick Douglas played a big role in our history.

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Of course, I always love books on Christian beliefs.

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I am always reading at least two or three books at the same time.  Many books I read more than once.

Right now my stack of books to read include:

  • Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg
  • Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw
  • America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laaura Kamoie
  • Daughters of the Church by Ruth A Tucker and Walter Liefeld
  • President Lincoln, the Duty of a Statesman by William Lee Miller

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I need to get through them because I have two books on order from the library.  Novels about the early history of Mackinaw Island.  And one of my favorite bloggers has written a novel, The Kirkwood Scott Chronicles- Skelly’s Square.  On order from Amazon  I definitely will put that one at the top of my list of books I must read.

Books are my friends.  They take me to places I will never be able to visit in person.  They introduce me to people whom I will never meet.  They challenge me with new thoughts and ideas.

What about you?

Do you love to read?

What genre of books do you like?

What is one of your favorite books?

 

 

 

 

 

How Bad Can It Get?

I have often shared how my husband and I love Scrabble.  For us it is almost an addiction.

For those who follow my blog you have already read about this, but if you are new and interested, here are the links to my stories behind our addiction.

Confessions of a Scrabble Addict!

I Owe My Scrabble Addiction to an Out-of-work Architect

My Addiction has Returned

This past weekend we realized how much we do love Scrabble!

Our power went out this past weekend.  After fifteen hours without any electricity, service finally came on again, only to go out again in three hours.  We had planned to play a game of Scrabble after supper.

When we started the game it was still light out and with the curtains all open we had no problem seeing the board.

Most Scrabble games take anywhere from one to two hours depending on the number of players.

But not for us!

Our games go on forever.

First, we have a “super Scrabble” board.  This board is much larger than the normal game and it has twice as many tiles.

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Second, we are very competitive and not only want to win but want to get as high a score as possible.

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So each play may take minutes as we rearrange our tiles over and over trying to find the right word to get the most points.

We also play defensively so we need to play where our opponent does not have a chance to play on a triple or quadruple spot on the board.

So as the evening proceeded the sun slowly descended in the sky until it was dark both outside and in our house.

Did that stop us?

Not at all!

Out came the candles and the flashlights and we continued on in the dark.  This only slowed our game down more as we could hardly see our tiles.

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Over four hours later we finally finished the game and used our flashlight to find our way to bed.

Oh – by the way – I won!

 

 

The Streets of New York – in the 1980’s

This past week my husband spoke to the residents of the Teen Challenge Center in Saginaw, Michigan.

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This is not the first interaction we have had with this organization.

Our first experience with Teen Challenge occurred in 1985 in New York City.  Just one year after we were married we spent two weeks at the center in New York working on the streets with Christians from all over the United States.

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This center was started by Dave Wilkerson.   A pastor of a small church in Pennsylvania, in 1958, after he saw a photograph in Life Magazine of seven teenagers who were gang members and on trial, he felt led by the Holy Spirit to go to New York and share God’s love with them.  When he entered the courtroom and asked to speak to them, the judge had him removed from the courtroom.

His burden for the young people caught up in the gangs became so strong that he began a street ministry to the young in New York.  His work with the gangs was very successful and he founded Teen Challenge to continue that work.

His story was made into a movie The Cross and the Switchblade in 1970.  By today’s movie standards the movie itself would not measure up to the acting and directing skills of today.  But the message is powerful and if you have not seen it, I encourage to look it up.

We met each morning as a group sharing a simple breakfast and then a time of worship.  Afterwards we broke out into smaller groups of about twelve or fourteen.  We spent a few minutes sharing how things were going for each of us and then we hit the streets of New York.  We partnered with member of local churches as we walked the streets talking and sharing with those we met on the streets and in the subways.

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This was our team.

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This woman was in her 70’s and we were so impressed that an “old woman” like her would join us on the streets of New York.  (Now I’m 71 and my husband 79 – maybe she was not so old.)

For someone from the Mid West this was quite an experience.  This was not the New York of today – but the New York of the 1980’s.

The city was near bankruptcy.  With the introduction of crack-cocaine, there was widespread drug addiction and violence.  Our team was told when we walked down the streets in Manhattan to always have the woman walk on the outside with the man next to the building entrances.  They said women had been pulled off the street into drug dens.  Some neighborhoods we entered we told to not take pictures because we might get shot for taking a picture of a drug deal going down.

Walking in Manhattan we saw signs like this everywhere.

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Stores like this were everywhere.  Our team moved among this neighborhood inviting people to our evening services.

 

Graffiti was everywhere.

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My husband on the subway.  In the 1980s, over 250 felonies were committed every week in the system, making the New York subway the most dangerous mass transit system in the world.

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On schools

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On stores

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Even on churches

What was really sad to me was when I saw beautiful murals that the local population had painted – and they did not even respect their own community – but painted graffiti on the murals.

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There were burnt out cars sitting on the streets and we often saw people sleeping in them.

 

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Each day we walked the streets in a different community and each evening we held street services in the area where we had spent the day.

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And how did all this walking the streets, holding services, meeting the drug addicts and homeless people on the street work out?

We will never know for sure in this life.  There were many different reactions.

  • While holding a service in Washington Square, a young man came up to the area where the musicians were playing, turned his back to us and mooned us.
  • In Manhattan a young man cursed at me and told me to “mind my own business.”

But then there were:

  • Several homeless drug addicts listened to us and came back with us to the Teen Challenge Center where they stayed and committed to the 12 month program to beat the drug habit.  Again, I have no idea how many stayed with the program but I do know the Teen Challenge program in New York has had a high success rate helping people beat addiction.  It was good to see the ones who came back with us in the beginning of our two-week stay.  To watch their eyes go from a blank, glassy look to a clear, coherent look.  To see their listless walk become a brisk lively walk.  To see the dull expression on their face turn to one of hope and smiles.
  • One young man my husband talked to had never heard that Jesus loved him.  After praying with my husband, he wept with joy.  We did not leave these people after such an encounter.  The local churches we partnered with continued to mentor and help them in their attempts to turn from cocaine and to begin a new life with Jesus Christ.
  • On the subway one day we found a pimp beating up on one of his “girls.”  Scared to death, but unable to ignore this, our team of 14 stepped in between the pimp and his “girl.”  He threatened us but we did outnumber him.  He got off at the next stop and we took the young girl with us back to the shelter to help her get free from prostitution and start anew.

The years have gone by and we often wonder about some of those we talked to, shared that God loved them, that there was hope and offered help.  Where are they now?  Did they stay with the program, with the local churches?

We will never know in this life, but I think how awesome it would be to meet one of them in heaven some day and hear their story of victory over cocaine.

So thankful that New York City did finally clean up much of the city and I hear today it is a beautiful place to visit.  Doubtful that I will never get back, but thankful for the two weeks spent on the streets of New York City in the 80’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Döstädning – Death Cleaning

When I wrote this post I was only thinking about downsizing to make life a little easier. I had no idea that it would really pay off when we moved several months later – not just to a new home, but to a new state. I recently read statistics compiled by The SpareFoot Storage Beat that were amazing: there are between 45,000 to 52,000 self-storage units in the USA – much more than there are McDonald’s or Starbucks stores. The annual revenue for the industry is $38 million. Almost 10% of households rent a self-storage unit. BecomingMinimalist.com shares that 65 pounds of clothing are thrown away annually by typical Americans. Having less is proving less stress for me!

Grandma's Ramblings

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I have been “death cleaning” but did not realize it!

Over the years I have watched my friends fret as they anticipated turning 30, 40, 50 or 60.  I never understood why they got so up tight.  To me those milestones were just another birthday.

But this spring I turn 70 and that is a milestone I find hard to accept.

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70 – I can no longer count myself in the middle age group.  I’m old!

Thinking about this milestone in my life I have found myself looking around at all my “stuff” accumulated over the years and suddenly it just seems like too much “stuff.”  I have had an irresistible urge to clean house – to declutter.

While I certainly expect to live many more years I have looked around and thought:

Why am I hanging on to stuff I no longer need, want or use?

Why leave all…

View original post 387 more words

My Husband Has a New Love

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My husband and I have been scrabble addicts since 2008.  We have books recording every game we have played for the past ten years.  During the summer we usually play two or three times a week but in the months when Old Man Winter blows his breath around our house, we play every day.

You can check out my original admittance of our addiction in my post:

Confessions of a Scrabble Addict!

We began this year as always playing almost every day in the cold, bitter days in January.  All was fine until April when my husband left me and Scrabble for his new love.

And it’s all my daughter’s fault.

In April my husband had major surgery and was in the hospital for several days.  After coming home he was supposed to remain quiet for six weeks.  In an attempt to give him something to help pass the time my daughter bought him a Sudoku book.

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To be honest I didn’t think he would use it.  He is not the kind to sit still for long and although he does for Scrabble there is interaction with me.  So I thought he would work one or two and then quit.

Boy, was I wrong!

He started on the ones marked “easy.”   Every time I asked if he would play a game of Scrabble, he would say:

Let me just finish this one puzzle.”

But one puzzle led to another.  And another.

I thought when he got to the ones marked ” medium” he would quit.  Not that I doubted my husband is smart, but I thought as they got more difficult to solve, he might get frustrated and quit.

Boy, was I wrong!

He began working five to six puzzles a day which left no time to for me or Scrabble.

I still held out hope that he would surely quit when he got to the ones marked “hard.”  I can never figure those out and I thought he would have trouble also.  That would surely lead to frustration and he would come back to me and Scrabble.

Boy, was I wrong!

He is skipping through the “hard” ones and is almost finished with the book my daughter bought him.  So – now maybe there is hope.

Boy, was I wrong!

Last week, in anticipation of finishing this book of puzzles, he went to Barnes and Noble and brought a GIANT Sudoku book.

I’m going to try one more time today to get him to play a game of Scrabble with me.

If not, maybe divorce court will be in our future.  (Just kidding, of course!)

Guess I need to find a new addiction myself.  My daughter gave me a word search book – maybe that will work.

 

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Queen of the Shade Garden

Along with our addiction to scrabble   –   (My Addiction Cost Me 27 Days in 2017)   –  my husband and I share a love of hostas.

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It started innocently enough.  We bought a house with a large above ground pool.  It was surrounded by lots and lots of concrete.  Concrete slab for the pool equipment and a large concrete slab with two ugly metal sheds.  There were no trees or flowers and very little grass in the back yard.

Since I hate getting water in my face in the shower, I was clearly not going to use the pool.  After one year of trying to keep the pool clean with all the time and money that required, my husband decided it was not worth it for the two or three times a month he would swim.

So – out with the pool and all that concrete!

Now what?

We decided to plant some hostas.  We had never grown hostas before but after my husband had planted so many trees in our background and it was very shady, it seemed like a good choice.

At first we had a small area of hostas under the trees next to the house.  But now it has grown until almost all of our back yard is filled with hostas.  The small patch of yard still left should be gone by the end of this summer as my husband is busy dividing the ones we have and transplanting them to other spots in the yard.

 

Hostas come in all sizes – from four-inch dwarfs to six-foot giants.  They come in different shades of green, blue and chartreuse.  During the summer they produce spikes of pink, lavender or white flowers.  While the flowers are beautiful, it is their foliage that makes them such a wonderful plant for the shade garden.

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Hostas came to America in the 1800’s from Korea, China and Japan.  Hostas are mentioned as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD).  They are mentioned in Japan as early as 710 AD.  There were originally about 40 species from Asia but today due to selective breeding there are about 8,000 cultivars.

If you are looking for a plant that provides beauty year after year requiring little care and lots of variety in flowers and foliage, check out the hostas, Queen of the shade garden.

 

 

 

My Addiction Cost Me 27 Days in 2017

I am addicted.  I have made my confession before.  Confessions of a Scrabble Addict!

I have tried hard to overcome it but I have not been able to do so as I reported in  My Addiction has Returned.

And now this year it has taken 27 days of my life.

We played 216 games in 2017.  It takes us about 3 hours to play a game.  So that amounts to 27 days playing scrabble.

We play on a super scrabble board which has twice the letters of regular scrabble and an expanded board.

We also take forever to take a turn because we are so competitive and try to either play a seven letter word which gives us 50 extra points or find a place on the board to give us triple or quadruple points.

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Winning with us is like a seesaw.  I get a couple of games ahead, then he comes backs, ties me and pulls ahead two or three games.  The most anyone of us has been ahead is five games.  When I get that many games behind, the adrenalin kicks in and I HAVE to catch up.

 

Keeping scores since 2008 we ended this year with a tie.  We each won 107 games with two tied games.  In the ten years of keeping score, I have won one more game than he has.  One more game in ten years.  What a tight contest!

So into the New Year we go!  Suspect mounts!

Will he be able to win more games than me in 2018?

Will I pull ahead even more?

For those who follow my blog and are tired of hearing about scrabble (which proves my addiction) I promise no more posts on this subject for a while (at least I promise I will try).

So just a few scrabble jokes to end this blog and start another attempt to overcome my addiction.

  • In Russia when a baby is born, the parents play a game of scrabble and the letters they pick up is the name of their child.
  • Scrabble is all fun and games until someone loses an “i”
  • the dreaded Old MacDonald rack – eieiooo
  • I accidentally swallowed some scrabble tiles.  My next movement could spell disaster.