A New Normal (in One Room, Anyhow)


Last week I talked about waiting, and I mentioned that we were waiting for someone to come give us an estimate on new flooring for the living room, kitchen, and maybe the bedroom.

Our wishes turned out to be a little ambitious.

What we had saved would take care of the living room alone, and–after three or four years (maybe longer) of being totally out of debt–we weren’t about to even do a one-year interest-free arrangement. That would still have meant being obligated to spend money we didn’t have yet.

We also had to compromise on the specific wooden flooring we’d originally wanted. But the laminate we settled on looks great and will serve well. Why spend enough for a floor that would outlive us?

Today’s (this past Tuesday) the big day–a lot sooner than we’d expected–and two quiet Latino men are in the midst of the installation. Fortunately, THEY do the furniture moving. But we still had to move breakables, spillables, and other miscellaneous small stuff. I dread having to put everything back in place later.

        

I must admit I’ve been fascinated watching the men as they work. And just as fascinated at how much Spanish I’ve forgotten since high school and college. But one thing hasn’t changed. I still can’t listen fast enough to comprehend even the Spanish I would recognize if I saw it in writing. Spanish is indeed a beautiful language, but those words seem to connect in what for me are incomprehensible ways.

I envy Kathleen. She got to go to work today while I sit here with my laptop at the end of the counter where I normally sit to eat breakfast. Right now I have one foot draped over the pen we were smart enough to keep when our miniature dachshund, Happy, no longer needed it otherwise. She keeps jumping up and barking (not necessarily in that order), but I think my foot gives her some assurance.

As of this moment, I’d say the guys are more than half done. If it weren’t for corners, heating vents, and a place where the cable comes through the floor, it would undoubtedly be a straight shot.

Nonetheless, the new normal is coming. The six-by-six rug we ordered last weekend–we wanted a splash of color–is due today, and it can’t take but so long to put everything back in place.

I hope.

Here’s the finished job. We’re thrilled!

Do you have a tale of some home improvement you’ve done and had done? Please leave a comment.

~*~

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Parable of a Walking Stick

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I enjoy walking. In fact, it’s the only kind of exercise I do. I’m not concerned about building arm muscles or tightening abs. I just want to strengthen my heart and keep it functioning properly as long as I can.

You may also know that I like to use walking sticks when I walk. As a fellow who could trip over a line in the floor, I’ve found walking sticks to be a simple–but necessary–thing for me to keep in the car and beside the front door as well.

Although I don’t use one for non-exercise walking, I foresee that changing in the near future. Why chance an unnecessary fall?

Although I have a couple of purchased walking sticks, the two in each of our cars are ones I lovingly made. So are the three or four by the front door and the dozen or more sitting out in the shed.

Several months ago I noticed a piece of tree branch lying in the drainage ditch while I was walking through our neighborhood. My first thought was, “Good grief! That’s seen better days. Too bad. It’s the perfect length. But would it be sturdy enough and not so dead it would simply snap in two?”

After passing it by several times and thinking the same thing each time, I finally stopped and examined it. I couldn’t break it.

So far, so good. It was strong enough. Maybe that piece of a branch wasn’t totally unusable after all.

Probably half of the bark was already pealing off. What could be easier than to remove the rest?

So I brought it home, finished stripping the bark, and cut off the worst of the nodes where smaller branches had been attached. Then I did my usual sanding with coarse sandpaper and then with fine. I applied one coat of linseed oil–boy, did that bring out the grain!–and three coats of polyurethane. Maybe a little excessive, but I not only wanted to protect it against rain and other water, but also to give it a super-glossy sheen.

Then I fitted a rubber tip on it. (Furniture tips are a lot less expensive than cane tips.) I couldn’t tell you the number of compliments I’ve gotten on it. I love telling people the story of how I turned an otherwise useless length of tree branch into a thing of beauty–and something that’s extremely useful as well. Something to lean on when needed.

The left-hand pictures below are of a piece of branch I rescued earlier this week. The only thing I’ve done to it was to break off enough of the little branches to get it in the car. The right-hand pictures are of the walking stick I’ve been talking about.

             

I believe God sees us when we’re broken, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually–and useless to anyone, including ourselves. He sees the potential. He knows what it will take to rejuvenate us and turn us into something more beautiful and more useful.

How easily He takes us into His perfect hands and strips away the useless parts, cleans off the rough places, and puts on us a special finish of love, mercy, and forgiveness–and we end up shining like never before.

Only under God’s workmanship do we become useful for other people to lean upon as the walking sticks He knows they need for their journey.

Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Aging Gracefully: Fitness Tips for Seniors with Limited Mobility (guest post) – Conclusion

Thanks to Kaki for last week’s guest post and today’s conclusion to what she shared last week.

Kaki is the Vice President and co-owner of Ames Walker.  After graduating from Virginia Tech she went on to work for Pepsi for several years before joining the family business.  When she is not working she enjoys running, hiking, traveling, Virginia Tech football & spending time with family & friends.

 

Aging Gracefully: Fitness Tips for Seniors with Limited Mobility

 

Benefits of Exercise

Exercise has many benefits, both mental and physical, for older adults. Here are just a few of the things that can happen as you start to exercise.

  • Exercise reduces the risk of:
    • falling and fracturing bones
    • dying from coronary heart disease
    • developing high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes
  • Exercise can help improve:
    • blood pressure in some people with hypertension
    • stamina and muscle strength
    • symptoms of anxiety and depression
    • physical signs of stress
    • joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis
    • thinking and memory skills, especially verbal

Tips for Exercising as a Senior

It can be hard to build a fitness habit at any age, but it’s far from impossible. Plus, it’s never too late to start. Follow these three tips to help kickstart your new fitness routine:

  • Start slow: If you’ve never exercised before, don’t try to do too much too soon, especially if your mobility is really limited or you’re contending with chronic conditions. Even just five minutes of movement a day can be a good place to start, and then build on that as you are able.
  • Do it daily: Trying to be active every day, even if it’s not an official workout, will help you build the habit faster. The sooner you build the routine, the less likely you will be to stop exercising. Many seniors like to exercise in the morning, before the day can get away from them, in order to stay on track with their daily goal.
  • Listen to your body: It’s normal to feel a little soreness and discomfort as you begin a new exercise routine. However, stabbing or joint pain isn’t normal, so if you start feeling that, stop exercising immediately to avoid exacerbating it. As always, you should consult your doctor before beginning any fitness routine, and check in with him or her if you feel any pain.

Exercising as a senior comes with certain considerations, but there are a wide range of activities you can try, no matter your level of mobility. Seniors of any age and fitness background can start with as little as five minutes of stretching a day and then build up from there, even if they are currently wheelchair-bound. Follow these tips and exercise ideas to start your fitness journey today.

 ~*~

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Habit or Obsession?


I suspect you would agree that each of us does a number of things daily out of habit–without even thinking about them. I imagine we also do at least a few things quite intentionally. As if obsessed about it.

When does an obsession become a habit, though? Or vice versa?

I think back with some embarrassment to this obsession from my post-college years. I started scheduling practically everything I did in fifteen-minute increments. If something took longer  than I’d allotted an adequate number of fifteen-minute slots for, I got seriously bent out of shape.

In order to track my time properly, I had to start on one of the quarter hours. Oh, my! If I was five minutes past one of those times getting on the road for a trip, irritable wouldn’t adequately describe my state of mind.

That was definitely an obsession–one I’ve long since outgrown.

Let me share a few other things that I’ve done in the past or I’m currently doing.

  • I used to always take a hot dog for my lunch before I retired. I continued to do that years after retirement. Then I suddenly desired to have something different. For the last several years I’ve been eating peanut butter sandwiches. Not just on weekdays, but for Saturday lunch and Sunday supper.
  • When dressing, I sit on the bed to put my left sock on first and then my right one.
  • When my Harry’s razor blades are a few days later than expected in arriving–I use one a week and change them on Sunday–I’m apt to email Harry’s and ask why they can’t be more consistent in their shipments.
  • When riding with my wife I tend to keep my eye on the speedometer. Even though she’s never gotten a speeding ticket, she tends to push the limit. I don’t hesitate to let her know I doubt the police might not be as tolerant of the excess as she thinks. A speeding ticket is certainly not in the budget.
  • While visiting family out of town, I’m apt to pick up my guitar and play quietly while other people talk. If I hear something I want to comment on, I do. Otherwise, it’s just me and my guitar.
  • After I take clothes out of the dryer–yes, I do the laundry–I do three things: clean the filter, set the dial to optimum dry, and throw a clean dryer sheet inside the machine. I get mildly irritated if I have to one of those things the next time I use the dryer.
  • When I buy a carton of my favorite frozen yogurt flavor, I allow myself exactly half a cup per day, confident that amount of sugar won’t hurt. If I get really daring, I use a half-cup container, not a bowl.
  • I don’t like crispy bacon. I’m not going to be rude if served overdone bacon at someone’s home, but I’ve been known to ask for different bacon when eating breakfast out.
  • My mother always watered the grape juice down with water when I was a kid; that’s what I got used to. So when I started buying grape juice a year or two ago and found the taste of straight juice unappealing, I started watering it down slightly, too.
  • I always wear a nice leather man-bag when I go out. I have too much stuff to carry in my pockets: small notepad, pen, and pencil; hearing aid batteries; emery board and nail clippers (I have to have my fingernails just right for my guitar playing); a comb; two business card cases; a flash drive; and the coins referred to in another bullet point. Oh, and–of course–my cell phone. I feel absolutely naked if I forget my man-bag.
  • Ditto if I fail to have my cell phone with me when I go out, even though I rarely use it for anything.
  • I keep two one-dollar coins in my man-bag for emergencies. I don’t cheat and use them for anything else just because I don’t have any other money on me at the time. I wouldn’t even think of doing that.
  • At bedtime, I have to clean my hearing aids and put them away before I brush my teeth. The two things have nothing to do with one another, but I get mildly frustrated if I do them out of sequence.

What do you think? Maybe I’ve simply confirmed your suspicions that I’m at least a little weird, and that’s okay. I write quirky fiction, so I should have the right to be a little quirky, too.

Regardless of that, which of those things are habits and which are obsessions? Do you have any particular habits or obsessions you’d be willing to share in a comment?

Sometime I may ask my wife for a list of what she thinks I should’ve included in today’s list.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Walking on the Best Surface


Before my wife started having severe arthritis in one knee, we used to walk outside in the neighborhood whenever weather permitted and we had sufficient daylight. That allowed us to walk our miniature dachshund, Happy. Believe it or not, those short little legs did a great job of doing a full two-mile walk!

Unfortunately, I also have a problem that can make walking uncomfortable at times–never so extreme that I can’t walk, but bad enough to be conscious of while walking. And that slows me down. It’s been more of a issue since they paved our street a few years ago. The surface is hard, and each time I put my foot down I can feel the pain.

I do a lot of my walking at the mall now. Even though there’s concrete underneath, at least the top surface is covered with tile. Just a slight improvement over the street when it comes to reducing the pain. But even that slight improvement allows me to walk a little faster, and that’s good.

We recently joined the Y so my wife can swim. I go with her, not to swim–I’ve never learned how–but to walk. Our Y has a wonderful walking/running track overlooking the gym area. Sixteen times around equals a mile, and that eliminates a lot of guesswork regarding how fast I’m going.

 

 

The best feature of the Y’s walking track is the floor. It’s not spongy, but it’s definitely a body-friendly semi-soft material. Walking on it, I can do my two miles in thirty minutes without any problems. And without my pain being more than barely noticeable. Whoever designed the Y’s walking track to provide the safest and most pleasant walking surface knew what they were doing.

However, I know of one place that will provide even better walking facilities. and that’s Heaven.

The idea of streets of gold–that’s how the Bible describes Heaven as having–might not sound very appealing to walkers. After all, gold may be a very soft metal–especially pure gold–but would it be more comfortable to walk or run on than the Y?

I can’t answer that question from personal experience. But since the Bible assures us that Heaven is a perfect place– free from sin, pain, and all types of unpleasantness–I’m not worried about those golden streets. Since I won’t be bothered by my pain there, what difference will it make?

I’ll be too absolutely thrilled about Heaven’s perfection to even remember my former pain.

Do you have something you especially look forward to in Heaven’s perfectness? How about sharing a comment?

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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A Curse or a Blessing?

I’m not like my adoptive father in very many ways, but he sure hit that old cliched nail on the head about not liking telephones.

No wonder. As a minister, he was always being interrupted by otherwise well-intended church members who didn’t realize how much time and concentration it took to prepare two sermons a week–he rarely reused a sermon–and an in-depth Bible study for the Wednesday night prayer service.

No matter whether he was at church or at home, he couldn’t very well refuse to talk to a caller. But he sure didn’t have to like it.

I’m not sure whether he ever said this, but I’ll always associate this with him. “If I get to Heaven and find telephones there, I’m asking for a transfer to the other place.” A bit of an exaggeration, but that makes the point quite well.

I’m not a minister, and I’m not subject to the number and variety of calls he couldn’t get away from. But I still hate telephones, and it’s not just because of my father’s dislike of them.

When I graduated from college and got out on my own, I probably wouldn’t have had a phone except for not being able to call in sick without one. I didn’t get sick very often,however, so I rarely needed it for that purpose. And I don’t recall using it for very much of anything else.

I’d promised to write my parents once a week. Honestly, I often struggled to find something to say. If long distance had been free, maybe I would’ve called instead and let them do most of the talking. Oh, well…

After marrying my first wife, the phone got used a lot. Especially with the in-laws living far away. Unfortunately, long distance still wasn’t free.

Cell phones came along far enough that we finally felt we could afford one, and I thought we needed one for emergencies. Even though the cost of extra minutes added up to more than the cost of the phone itself, my wife saw it as useful for everyday calling.

When she and I parted ways, I decided to buy a cell phone–mostly for emergencies away from home. But I still had a house phone, too.

I don’t know if I rarely use the cell phone because I’ve never gotten over my lifelong dislike of phones. Even so, I wouldn’t think of going out without it. My wife and I have turned the ringer off on the house phone. We’d give it up, but our Internet access is cheaper by being bundled with the home landline. Incidentally, we periodically check it for messages, but very few nuisance callers leave them, thank goodness.

I’m a horrible text-er. Very, VERY slow. But if I need to get a message to someone while (for example) I’m at the doctor’s office, I will text.

I’m tempted leave the ringer volume up at church since rarely does anyone call me. But the thought of “Sunshine of Your Love” starting up at top volume during a worship service makes me silence it. Sometimes I forget to turn the volume up again for a couple of days.

I’m the first person to admit phones can be useful. Even so, I can’t understand people’s addictions to them. And doing all that talking and texting? Not my idea of fun.

Ah, but the apps for smart phones are something else. It’s great to have a Bible on my phone and a GPS app to locate an unfamiliar place. Not to mention the ability to monitor the flight a loved one is on.

So are phones a curse or a blessing? I guess it depends in part on whether you’re like me and my father or like a typical teen.

Do you hate or love phones? Are you addicted to yours or is it simply another useful gadget? Your comments are welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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Political Correctness or Political Silliness?

Gracious! Am I really that old? Ancient!

I must be. Whenever I see the initials PC, my first thought is “personal computer.” I recall when an inheritance from my mother enabled my family to buy not one, but two personal computers. That was in 1994. I don’t recall the cost, but it was huge compared to what something comparable would cost today.

And those were desktop units, not laptops. That was before the days of flash drives, but those small “floppy drives” that weren’t at all floppy were still in use. And of course we still needed to use a dial-up modem to reach the Internet.

Nowadays, of course, nobody bothers with the “personal” part of PC, and only a few of us probably think first of computers when we read, see, or hear a reference to PC.

A few days ago, I was passing through Penney’s on the way to walk in the mall when I noticed that only one woman was holding down the fort at a gaggle of registers where two and sometimes even three women normally worked. My first thought was to pleasantly and sympathetically ask this lady if she was manning the fort by herself that day.

Manning? Oh, me! My bad! How thoughtless!

I didn’t say it, though, and I doubt seriously that this lady would’ve thought twice about my of “manning.” Why should she? Was I to have used–or even just thought–“womaning” or “personing”?

I don’t question the need to refrain from using offensive words. I’ve never used the n-word to refer to a black person. I’ve never even thought it, and I get upset if I hear it used.

So, is “African-American” the currently acceptable term, even though not all black people come from Africa? Nor do all of them live in America. How silly to refer to a black person in England as African-American? And if a word isn’t universally true, why should it be used at all?

Don’t get me wrong. I feel a very strong compulsion as a Christian to refrain from offending people knowingly.

But, gracious! Don’t I also recall a time when referring to a homosexual as “queer” was frowned on? Yet now, we have “LGBTQ,” if I recall the letters correctly, and I’ve probably left out some. Yet “fag” is apparently still considered offensive. (The Words with Friends dictionary doesn’t allow its use, even though it has definitions not related to homosexuality.)

Hmm. I’ll never be able to keep up with gay political correctness. Will the (very) old Christmas song referring to “don we our gay apparel” need to be rewritten, along with so many other things?

And don’t even suggest that we have to start referring to God as “She.” I can guarantee that the sperm that united with Mary’s egg to create Jesus did not come from a woman.

Yes, maybe I’m just too old-fashioned. I still believe in calling things what they are, avoiding anything that’s overtly offensive, but not fretting about much of the silliness that falls under the PC umbrella. Yet I’ve caught myself avoiding saying everything I want to say on this subject because I never know when the PC police might be watching and call me down on it.

I also grew up during the time when “you can’t legislate morality” was a popular saying. Designating certain behaviors illegal as one thing, but true morality is a matter of the heart. Or is it? According to the liberal PC-ers and other post-modernists, everyone’s morality would be different since they claim there’s no such thing as absolute truth.

Hmm. I think I’m better off continuing to think of PC as “personal computer.” It’s safer and less frustrating.

What do you think of political correctness? Do you have any particular dislikes? Please share a comment. We can all go down together.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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