A World Upside Down

Our world is upside-down, and I think I’m getting a little slap-happy being stuck at home most of the time. For instance, a commercial came on TV the other evening. The announcer said something about a “… Lindt chocolate bunny…”

Brent: “I bought two of those.”

Me: “Uh-oh! You didn’t leave them together, did you?!”

Brent: >blank look<

Me: “Wait, that could actually work out better… they’ll make more chocolate!”

Brent (gently pats my head): “Your braid is too tight.”

Yep, we can sit around watching TV and there’s chocolate in the house. We can go outside, take care of the lawn and flower beds, and ride our bikes. We can go buy groceries when we need them. Obviously, sheltering in place isn’t giving us too much trouble.

But our hearts go out to those who are ill, grieving, or under serious hardship.

People need hope.

As near as I can figure, that could account for the higher-than-usual interest in Easter this year. This pandemic puts us face-to-face with our own mortality like never before. The COVID-19 virus is killing people, not just in the US, but all over the world. As we wonder “Who’s next?” it’s natural to ask, “What’s next?” 

Looking back to the first century, we see the nation of Israel turned upside down, facing all kinds of hardship and restrictions. Kind of like our situation, except this was because of Roman oppression rather than a disease.

Along came Jesus, teaching people how very much our Creator loves everyone and wants to free us. His followers expected him to free Israel from the Romans, but he was more interested in freeing individuals from their own twisted human nature.

He came to give his life for every one of ours. And he did, on a Roman cross. Ah, but then he burst from the grave, defeating death once for all. He offers abundant life on earth and a future in glory to anyone who will trust in him.

While our 21st-century world is upside down, let’s all observe the safety guidelines, both for our own sake and for others’. But also remember the one who overcame death itself. He promises to be with us through any hardship, and cares about everything you’re dealing with.

Even if it’s just that your braid is too tight.

Thanks for reading,


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Processing… Processing…

You know you have an appliance problem when you have to plaster them with notes to yourself. Case in point…

Spring-latchy thingsWhen I cook at home, I’m prone to shred fingers along with carrots. My sliced potatoes are like snowflakes: no two slices alike. Clearly, I needed a food processor. Thanks to the recommendation of my favorite food blogger, Beauty Beyond Bones, I gained the confidence to choose one: a 14-cup model from Cuisinart.

In due time I got the goods and opened the box to free the various components from their Styrofoam straitjackets. It seemed awfully complicated. Each part featured a lot of metal springy-latchy-looking things. Clear plastic tunnels kept the latches out of my reach.

Just as well. I was sort of afraid to touch them anyway.

I turned to the instruction book.

It offered page after page of instructions and safety warnings, including how to use the assembled processor, how to clean the assembled processor, and lots of things NOT to do with the assembled processor.

That would’ve been great… if only there were some hint about how to actually assemble the processor.

The picture on the cover* shows the assembled appliance from the front. You can’t tell a thing about how the parts fit together, let alone how to latch them without breaking something.

I went to their website. Surely they’d have helpful demos, right?


Barely visible rod

Okay, never mind. How hard can it be?

I fitted the lid onto the bowl okay, then inserted the pusher into the large food tube.  I didn’t notice  at the time, but a metal rod runs downward along one side. I unknowingly positioned that side toward the center of the lid rather than sticking out over its edge.

Looks good. Let’s try shredding some carrots.

inserts 4-inch carrot lengths into small center food tube; poises pusher above them; pushes “on” button

Nothing. Yes, it was plugged in. I checked. Twice.

Great. I have a food processor that won’t process.

One more time, let’s look at the manual.

Uhhh… where is the manual?

Honestly, it was right there, and then I couldn’t find it. I have never seen it since.

With a few unflattering remarks, I turned back to the “assembled” processor and used the trial-and-error method. As it turns out, the food pusher, the kingpin of the whole operation, was facing the wrong way. The rod on the side has to stick out over the edge of the lid. If you push it down (and you have to use some serious muscle), it forces its way into the latch tunnel on the bowl. This somehow positions all the latchy things in a way that signals the processor it’s “Safe To Turn On.”

The resulting spring-loaded array of parts looks like a medieval mouse trap and feels as if it could sproinggg apart with no warning.

BUT, five seconds after this discovery? I had a cup or so of shredded carrots.

I still can’t bear to leave the food pusher’s metal rod wedged into the latch tunnel. I mean, I can just feeeel the springs wearing out from holding their tension all the time. So I store the thing with the pusher sitting backwards. And knowing how forgetful I can be, I now have a Post-It note stuck on the pusher:

So, yeah, I’m letting this one appliance give me orders. I can only hope that doesn’t snowball into yet another mutiny.

Thanks for reading,


* Photo is NOT from the cover of the instruction book, as said book went AWOL somewhere along the line.


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The Year of the Barbarian, by Elizabeth Ann Boyles

Cover image credit: Amazon.com

This well-researched historical novel totally drew me in. Sumi, a samurai’s daughter in the mid-19th century, respects her culture’s traditional Japanese ways, yet finds them too restrictive. She has dreams beyond needlework and flower arranging–dreams that shock most of her relatives.

In The Year of the Barbarian, Boyles paints a lovely portrait of a girl who is curious about and intrigued by the Americans who are starting to work in her city–but at the same time, bewildered and even scandalized by their strange manners. Her curiosity and open-mindedness threaten her safety more than once. Worse, they could cause trouble for her family.

I highly recommend this book as a Great Weekend Read. And don’t miss Dragonfly Wings, the next in the trilogy.

You can get acquainted with the author at her website by clicking here.

Thanks for reading,

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Guest Post: William Patrick

Let’s Rise to the Challenge of Decency

Photo courtesy of William Patrick

This column by William Patrick first appeared in the Palestine [Texas] Herald-Press on March 18, 2020. I’m sharing it with the kind permission of Mr. Patrick and the Herald-Press.

Americans have a history of standing together in times of adversity.

On December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, recruiters had to turn crowds away. The response was that great.

Following the attacks of September 11, 2001, firefighters, first-responders, and ordinary people traveled to New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania to lend a hand in rescue and recovery efforts.

We Americans have a history of uniting in times of adversity – when that adversity has a face. COVID-19, a viral disease caused by the Wuhan coronavirus originating in China, has progressed to a pandemic in less than a month.

Friday, President Trump declared a national state of emergency. Reported fatality rates for COVID-19 range from less than 1 percent to 8 percent. People are confused, frightened, and panicked.

With no Axis Power to curse or terrorist regime to vilify, our panic has made every man for himself.

Retail outlets nationwide are running out of hand sanitizer, disinfectant, paper towels, and toilet paper. The Palestine Walmart, which stocks multiple brands of toilet paper, had nothing but bare shelves Friday. Frenzied customers even grabbed bathroom tissue off the pallets. Online entrepreneurs started hawking $2 bottles of disinfectant for $30. Hydrogen peroxide, typically under a buck, is going for $10 or more.

We Americans weren’t always like this.

My father told stories of growing up during the Great Depression and World War II. He’d talk about victory gardens, where people grew fresh produce for the community; he’d tell us about the rationing of basic items like sugar, butter, and gasoline. It was for the war. It was for our troops overseas. It was our duty.

Never did he speak of fistfights for toilet paper, or price-gouging for hand-wash. In his stories, Americans stood united.

The difference, I believe, is the evil in his stories had a face; it had an identity. Daddy wasn’t home, because he was overseas fighting the “bad guys.”

Today, social media spreads information and misinformation instantly across the globe. That goes double for panic. When my parents were kids, “social media” was water-cooler conversation and back-fence gossip. Now, without an identifiable enemy or reliable information, panic and hoarding have become the new normal. We want ours – never mind the elderly and infirm who may need the same.

Sure, times are scary. I have two toddler boys who attend daycare; my wife is an “at risk” cancer survivor. I’ve worried incessantly since this mess began.

But despite our fears, we must remain decent.

I want to tell my children how the community banded together during a troubled time; how we took care of one another, because that’s what neighbors do.

Today, I saw a social media post that offered aid to children without food while school is out. A local grass-roots organization, “Neighbors Helping Neighbors,” attracted more than 40 community volunteers who check on elderly and infirm neighbors.

These efforts, and the people behind them, set the bar for how we should all behave. In this pandemic panic, we have an opportunity to show the world, and ourselves, just how decent and caring Americans can be.

Like our grandparents, let’s rise to the challenge.

Me again–

As near as I can figure, an inspiring piece like this is a breath of fresh air that can blow away some of our fear and ground us in a determination to do what’s right.

Thanks for reading,


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I’m Back, Y’all!

Ages ago, when last I posted, I vowed to rid my blog of ads before I published even one more post. I decided on an upgraded blog plan, but got sidetracked trying to acquire a personalized domain name (instead of tacking my name on in front of “…wordpress.com”). I thought that was a requirement for an upgraded plan. I also thought I had to pick a new theme / background / layout, and have the whole Cinderella-in-the-ashes-esque thing spiffed up and ready for the prince’s ball, before I could use the new plan.

I got so wrapped up worrying about hosting and domain registrars and security and what the heck are allllll these acronyms about, that I became paralyzed and basically hid in my office, working on my biography project and doing Sudoku puzzles.

That, and the occasional bike ride.

Okay, maybe more than just occasional.

Anyway, with the help of D. Greg Scott, my IT genius friend and novelist, I gained the courage to invest in a domain name. That done, I gleefully hustled back to WordPress to upgrade to an ad-free plan. Then I spent an hour wading through the instructions for attaching the new domain name to my existing blog. I got the steps done, but then found out it can take a couple of days for the connection to be complete. Great. Now I can’t post anything until the domain finds its way home, or whatever. So I spent another hour looking at different layouts.

Finally, the light dawned on me.

My upgraded plan has already rendered my blog ad-free.

The light of dawn is a beautiful thing.

I can post any time I please, thank you, with NO ads and without dressing the blog up all fancy-like. Who knew? I feel like I’ve been trying for months to knit some incredibly intricate new dress out of gossamer and mermaid hair… when all I had to do was toss the old one in the washer.

At any rate, I’m happy to report that I’m back, same old blog layout and all. And I have a guest post and some stories to share in the very near future. Thanks to all of you who have hung in with me and encouraged me.

Thanks for reading,


PS: If you see even ONE ad, please tell me.

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See those big rocks the builder had to remove before pouring the foundation?
I also need to root out something from my blog…

I owe a deep apology to my readers. You see, I knew WordPress placed ads in my posts as compensation for my free blog site. But I saw my posts only when I was logged in. Each post looks just the way I set it up, with one bit of text added near the bottom:

Occasionally, some of your visitors may see an advertisement here,
as well as a Privacy & Cookies banner at the bottom of the page…

By “an advertisement…” I assumed they meant ONE ad, maybe a nice little ad for cute dresses or a charming vacation spot.

I assumed that right up until a month ago, when I visited this blog without logging in first, to see it as my readers do.

Yikes. Will you look at alllllll those ads! The page was riddled with them. A banner at the top, flashing ones between my lovely (or goofy) photos, jumping ads that spring to different locations as you scroll, so you can’t get away from them.

Different users see different ads, but I found myself looking at gross cartoons representing gut bacteria.

Animated gut bacteria.

By the time I reached the end of the post, I realized
“I would NEVER subscribe to this blog with all these hideous ads!”

All that to say, I’m in the process of ending the abuse by upgrading to an ad-free plan.

Why am I just now telling you this, if I saw the problem a month ago?

I’m glad you asked.

Frankly, I was hoping to upgrade quickly and move on, barely missing a beat. But it turns out the process is more complicated than I thought. And I’ll have a different web address, which I’d better figure out how to connect to my existing content, besides letting everyone know how to find me.

So. All that to say, I’m truly sorry for flashing you with hundreds of ads. I’ll be back when I can give you ad-free content. I hope to accomplish that within the next month. Like the house in the photo, my blog is Under Construction, only without the Port-a-John.

Meanwhile, I’ve started a handful of new posts that I’m eager to share. Bicycles, appliances, travel, hometown adventures… what fun!

Thanks for reading and for bearing with me,

Posted in I Remember When... (my OWN stories) | 8 Comments