Thursday, March 27, 2008

Canker Sores

These seem to be an issue for my family. I have one in my mouth right now, and I can't get rid of it. I'll go ahead spare you my usual accompany photo for my post today. :)

Here's the scoop straight from WebMD:
What Causes Canker Sores?
The exact cause of most canker sores is unknown. Stress or tissue injury is thought to be the cause of simple canker sores. Certain foods – including citrus or acidic fruits and vegetables (such as lemons, oranges, pineapples, apples, figs, tomatoes, strawberries) – can trigger a canker sore or make the problem worse. Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like Motrin, is another common cause. Sometimes a sharp tooth surface or dental appliance, such as braces or ill-fitting dentures, might also trigger canker sores.

Some cases of complex canker sores are caused by an underlying health condition, such as an impaired immune system; nutritional problems, such as vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid, or iron deficiency; and gastrointestinal tract disease, such as Celiac disease and Crohn's disease.

A sister in our church says that taking Lysine helps prevent them. My family always used a blue tip match by pressing the unlit tip right on the center of the sore. (You're right. It does hurt. But, the sores sure go away quickly.)

I know there have to be a ton of wives' tales and home remedies out there to get rid of them. I've seem many online today. But, do any of you have a remedy to share? (In the meantime, I'm going on a hunt for matches.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Taking Out My White Sandals

(This was supposed to be posted on Monday. My apologies.)

After going to church on Sunday, I was flooded with memories of Easters past. A particular trio of little ladies were dressed in their best Sunday best.... beautiful dresses made by Mama Tracy, of course. Little Rian Elizabeth needed some help from Sister Tasha so that her photo could be taken, and Tressa and Abigail were able to stop their activies for a few seconds so I could capture them.

Yesterday's weather made me laugh. There was a huge drop in temperature, and actual CHUNKS of snow came down. Not the usual snowflakes, mind you. But chunks. So each of these beautiful little ladies came equipped with a snow white sweater made by Grandma Zimmerman.

Easter was always that time when I could finally wear those spring colors again.... the pinks and peaches and light greens that I just didn't feel right wearing with clunky brown and black shoes in the prior weeks. But, once it reached Easter, they seemed fair game again.... especially in an ensemble with my sandals! No matter the weather!

All too often, however, we'd have an Easter like yesterday. COLD. REALLY COLD. And, no matter how cold, I was "bound and determined" to wear my white sandals I had been waiting all winter to wear. I'd try to remember where I had stashed them on that very last day of semi-warm weather back in the fall when I had last been able to wear them....or dig to the bottom of my shoe pile looking for the worn-out white leather. If we "thought ahead", I'd find them late, late the night before Easter and Dad would be able to use that weird white bottle of shoe polish (you know, the bottle with the wet sponge on the end) to spruce them up. I watched with fascination as they turned from grey and cracky to chalky white and cracky. To me, just like new.

Despite the weather, I was wearing those shoes. And, I'm ashamed to admit, many of those Easter Sundays, I sported white tights with my white sandals. Sometimes, I even wore plain knee socks with those sandals - as exhibited here. I firmly deny all responsibility - as the tights were the expectation by Mom if the weather was cool, and I was taught that Easter was the time to break out the white shoes. Too bad these two great independent thoughts often resulted in a bad combination.

Aaron and I would receive jelly beans and Reese's Peanut Butter eggs - our absolute favorite. After becoming sick of chocolate through a bad experience with plain MMs, I had an aversion to plain milk chocolate for several years. So, Aaron and I could always tell our baskets apart because his had a chocolate bunny and mine had a white chocolate bunny. I remember often looking at my shoes to make sure they were whiter than my bunny. If they were, I felt it was going to be a particularly good Easter.

I have no idea why I did something that dumb, but that's what I did. I find myself saying that more and more these days.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Exceptional Courage

Just wanted to ask for prayers for a close friend who will be having major surgery on Monday. She is a very supportive co-worker who is wonderful to remind me that God is watching over me each day. I just wanted to ask those of you reading this if you would pray that she be reminded in the coming weeks that the same is true for her, that she may be blessed with quick healing, and that she may have exceptional courage while approaching her surgery and recovery.

Exceptional Courage
Does courage become my attitude, when I'm swept up by the storm?
Am I running into battle, holding firm unto the Lord?
You see, my courage is contagious when I take time to follow through;
For, as I walk inside HIS Kingdom, I'm being set apart for truth!
So, when I find that I am frail; and sabotaged by fears;
I'll put my trust in Jesus and I'll give Him all my cares.
I'll align myself within His Word, I'll stand steady, strong and firm;
Resisting every flame of hell and it's fires sent to burn
For I AM a mighty warrior, and I'll stand faithful in my walk;
Rebuking opposition and bowing down before the Rock.
You see, I'm called to be courageous inside the darkest storm;
Finding victory in each battle and strength within the war.
It's the hand of God upon me that will lead me safely through ~
It's listening to HIS voice and abiding in HIS truth.
For He IS my only answer, when I'm lost inside the storm;
When the powers of hell are raging, and I'm weary, tired and worn.
It's HIS courage that lives within me that revives me once again ~
To overcome the turbulence and ride the tempest winds!
Yes, His Spirit gives me victory in the midst of every storm
When I learn to stand in courage and put my trust upon the Lord!
-Terese Holloway

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Filing A Complaint

When any fit of gloominess, or perversion of mind, lays hold upon you, make it a rule not to publish it by complaints. ~Samuel Johnson

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain. ~Jane Wagner

Untold suffering seldom is. ~Franklin P. Jones

Learn to accept in silence the minor aggravations, cultivate the gift of taciturnity, and consume your own smoke with an extra draft of hard work, so that those about you may not be annoyed with the dust and soot of your complaints. ~William Osler

I can't complain, but sometimes I still do. ~Joe Walsh

It is no use to grumble and complain; It's just as cheap and easy to rejoice; When God sorts out the weather and sends rain -Why, rain's my choice. ~James Whitcomb Riley

The people who live in a golden age usually go around complaining how yellow everything looks. ~Randall Jarrell

Man spends his life in reasoning on the past, in complaining of the present, in fearing future. ~Antoine Rivarol

The tendency to whining and complaining may be taken as the surest sign symptom of little souls and inferior intellects. ~Lord Jeffrey

Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, be happy that the thorn bush has roses. ~Proverb

Php 2:14 ¶ Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

1Ti 6:6 ¶ But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

Just some reminders about what a wonderful blessing contentment is and how easily one can fall into the pit of complaining. It is so common that we sometimes forget what a sin it is in the eyes of God. May I strive to not only rid my own life of this tendency but also be an encourager in helping others seek contentment in this world. Both can be difficult tasks, but scripture shows this is an important part of living a godly life. I cannot overlook it nor diminish its importance.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Not Once

Thanks to my green stone necklace and the slight hint of pine green in my skirt, I wasn't pinched today. Not even once. What a relief!

That also might be because my co-workers were trying to stay away from me because I was attempting to speak with an Irish accent for the last 10.5 hours.

Yeah... now that I think of it, that's more likely to be the real reason.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sing Loud, Sing Proud

Our Sacred Harp/Shape Note group was interviewed and featured in a local paper in St. Louis, the West End Word. Unfortunately, our visitors came on a night when a huge storm was expected, so I was part of the smallest gathering I'd ever seen at our singings. And, that is reflected in the picture included in the article. Very unfortunate. But, we still had a great time singing. If any of you blog friends can come up for a visit, I hope you will schedule your trip around the 1st or 3rd Monday of a month so you can sing with us. I would love to introduce you to our Sacred Harp friends - as they are wonderful, wonderful people.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

You Could?

Today, I spoke with someone on the phone. He was really frustrated. REALLY frustrated. I mean, I could hear him stomp his feet and imagined his arms were flailing all around. I'm SURE his face was turning red. His part of the discussion built up to the end when he pretty much yelled, "And you know what? I COULD CARE LESS!!!"

That probably wouldn't be the best time to point out the error of this phrase, right?

Don't worry. I didn't. But, I wanted to do so. Instead, I literally bit my tongue and - as always - tried not to laugh. I rarely succeed.

There are numerous ways in which we flub up our words and pronunciations and grammar, and there is no crime in that. We're human. (I do it all of the time here on the blog.) But, it isn't common to find a phrase that is used by numerous people which is the exact opposite of what they mean to say.

I have been in a few meetings through the years where I haven't been sure if a participant really meant to use the phrase. It can take a while to figure that out because we hear it used incorrectly so often.

My cousin Stephen has the tendency of not using exactly the right words to explain himself. We have a good chuckle when we get together and tease each other about everything. At Christmas, he told me that he could care less about something. I told him I think he meant to say 'I COULDN'T care less.' He told me he couldn't care less about what I think about what he should say. It serves me right.

Speak Easy

Last night, my parents and I had a long discussion about regional phrases and words. It all started by talking about the chiffarobes in To Kill A Mockingbird. Of course, this led to a little teasing about our family's use of 'chester drawers' which we've discussed before here on the blog. I know there's an overwhelming amount of vocabularly here on the blog in the past two days. But, maybe, just maybe, you can sort these out if you're not quite clear on all of them. I know I wasn't last night.

colloquial - pertaining to words or expressions more suitable for speech than writing; in informal, conversational style.

euphemism - the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt (as passing away for dying.)

vernacular - using plain, everyday, ordinary language; the native speech or language of a place; the language or vocabulary peculiar to a class or profession.

cliche - a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse.

proverbial - of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a proverb; having become an object of common mention or reference.

idiom - an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements (as kick the bucket or hang one's head) or from the general grammatical rules of a language (as the table round for the round table) and that is not a constituent of a larger expression of like characteristics; a language, dialect, or style of speaking peculiar to a people.

platitude - a flat, dull, or trite remark, especially one uttered as if it were fresh or profound.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Chopping Chiffarobes

A kind co-worker loaned me a book on CD after we discussed how much time I spend in my car each week driving to and fro. It was "To Kill A Mockingbird" to be exact. I am slightly ashamed to admit that I had not yet read it, but I knew of the main story points. This week of commuting has not been a chore as it sometimes is. I need to get back to listening to sermon tapes, which used to be my constant car companion, and mix them up with novels every once in a while. It was sad to see that I had placed CD number 10 in the player this morning and had only one CD remaining in the box, so the story will soon come to a close.

Of course, as usual, I have been keeping a mental list of the words I've needed to look up once I arrive at home or work. And, as usual, there are many more on my list than I would like. My vocabulary is tiny (so please don't make too much fun of me!) I guess that's why I'm so interested in learning new words or looking up words to confirm I'm using or interpreting them correctly. Here are some I looked up this past week.

beadle (n.): a minor city official, lower in rank than either a sheriff or a policeman, whose main duties revolve around preserving order at various civil functions such as trials and town hall meetings.

calomel (n.): a laxative; often used as a cure for intestinal worms

changelings (n.): a child secretly put in the place of another

charlotte (n.): a desert made with fruit in a mold that is lined with pieces of bread or cake.

chiffarobe (n.): a large cabinet with drawers and a place for hanging clothes

fractious (adj.): mean or cross

Franklin stove (n.): a cast iron heating stove, invented by Benjamin Franklin.

impudent (adj.): To be impudent is to be shamelessly bold, as if you don't care what anyone thinks about you.

invective (n.): Invectives are abusive terms, curses, insults, and/or cuss words

obstreperous (adj.): noisy and unruly

palliation (n.): act of lessening the pain or fear and anxiety of something without actually making the fear and anxiety go away.

(n.): a bitter verbal attack

scuppernongs (n.): a sweet table grape, grown chiefly in the Southern United States.

smilax (n.): a bright green twinning vine, often used for holiday decorations.

taciturn (adj.): almost always silent.

unsullied (adj.): something that has been basically untouched or unused.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Old Times: Dress-Up and Play-Doh Barbershop

Last week, I headed to the Zimmerman household to watch 3 of the most adorable girls. Playing with them brought back some great memories of playing around the house with my brother when we were much younger, and I had so much fun.

The girls had received a new Play-Doh Doggy Doctor set. Tressa was very intensely treating the puppy's wounds, and the poor pooch seemed to have problems everywhere. I do declare, I've never seen a creature with more bandages than this!

Tressa was pretty much a band-aid factory there for over an hour. Just churning them out one by one.

In the meantime, Abi was busy with the Imagination Station, and she had opened up the bag of hats. She ran from the bedroom at least 25 times repeatedly yelling, "It's windy, Auntie Em! It's windy! It's windy, Auntie Em! It's windy!" There's no doubt she has been instructed by her mom and pop to wear a hat when it is cold outside, so in her make-believe world, she wanted to make sure I was protected. Tressa and Rian were given special protection too.

I have no idea how these bunny ears were going to block the wind for Rian, but she sure had a fun time wearing them and seemed ready for any stormy weather.

But no one was given more hats than I. Seems like Abi thinks my immune system is a little run down.

I miss the old days of taking an entire afternoon to pull out the Play-Doh Barbershop kit that Aaron and I used to love. There was the barbershop chair, the little people with tiny holes all over their head (scalp), and the tiny little plastic scissors used to give one a haircut. I miss the old days of spending hours dancing around with our white gloves and neon clothes in front of the black lights in our bedroom. My apologies to my brother. I know these types of memories can be a little embarrassing for a guy. But, they are wonderful memories to me. Of course, what isn't a wonderful memory is the amount of time it took and effort it took to take a little toothpick and pick out all of the little dots of Play-Doh out of the men and women's scalp after each time we played with the set. Maybe that's why it seems so special now. Because we played with it so infrequently because of all of the hard work it involved.

The smell of the Play-Doh brought back tons of memories, and playing with the girls is a wonderful break from the hustle and bustle of life. They sure make me smile.... even while trying to balance 7 hats on my head.

Friday, March 07, 2008

A Big Opportunity

As I wrote a couple a couple of weeks ago, things are really changing at our workplace. We were once part of a huge world-wide company, and we were recently purchased by a smaller company. We were quite shocked with the sale, and some employees became uneasy about the future. But, from all interactions with the new owners, this new adventure seems like it will be a very positive one.

I had stopped my job search so that I might reap some rewards of celebrating five years at the company. But, with the sale, I wondered if this might be the forced push for me to obtain more challenging and more rewarding and more creative job somewhere else. The thoughts that were swirling in other employees' heads were also swirling in mine. 'Maybe the new owners will think this position is not needed....' or even more discouraging, 'Maybe the new owners will not think I'm suitable to stay on staff for any new opportunities that might arise.'

Little did I know that I had somehow made an impression on them. In the midst of basement troubles, vacation days, being out sick, attending my cousin's funeral services and trying to keep my sanity, I made an impression, and it was a good one. Because, as the craziness of the previous weeks started to wind down, the owner called me into his office and asked if I would like to take on the challenge of leading the Human Resources efforts. I won't go into all of the details, but I was thrilled and surprised and happy. This was a long-awaited answer to prayer, and I said yes. YES YES YES! And, I am so very thankful for this opportunity to work hard - for this site, for the new owners with whom I'm extremely impressed, and my co-workers who I care for so very much.

Setting up all of the Human Resources details is a lot of hard work and will involve many late nights. I would very much appreciate your prayers during this time of the company transition, and I want to thank those of you who have been praying for me regarding my job all along. I'm sure hopeful for the future!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Old Times: Rolling Odometers

You know what I miss? Rolling odometers. You know what I mean? The black and white kind which would move constantly to help you keep track of your mileage?

When Aaron and I were younger, Dad - from the driver's seat - would often make the announcement that we were approaching a special number on the odometer. And, Aaron and I would crowd around Dad's shoulders to try to get a glimpse of the dashboard. (This is before the days of mandatory car seats, mind you.) Mom would lean over too so to not miss out on the excitement. Now, that I think about it, that would have been a pretty funny sight if someone could have taken a picture of us... all of us leaning in to see those black and white number dials move ever so slowly.

So, Dad would let us know that we were approaching a big rollover. For instance, the odometer might read 23999... and the last dial would gradually move with every tenth of a mile. 4.... 5.... 6.... 7.... 8.... 9.... Then, it seemed so exciting to us to see all of those 9s move with that last tenth of a mile to read 24000. Or, we'd look forward to watching the odometer line up with several of the same numbers, such as 12222.

Even today, with our not-as-exciting digital odometers, I look forward to seeing those special numbers. Part of the thrill was gone, but it was still fun to watch a special number approach this week. And, I promise you, I was looking at the road the entire time this picture was taken. I have a bunch of blurry pictures and pictures which don't even contain the odometer to prove it.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Olives Stuffed With This Stuff

First of all, I've missed all of you bloggers and commenters.

Secondly, we had a discussion at church a week or two ago about pimento (or pimiento). Now, I know some of you are gourmet chefs, so please don't scold us for our ignorance. But, we didn't know exactly what pimento was. I had guessed it was some kind of red pepper and... it turns out that guess was correct.

pi·mien·to [pi-myen-toh, pi-men-toh]
1. the ripe, red, mild-flavored fruit of the sweet or bell pepper, Capsicum annuum, used as a vegetable, relish, to stuff olives, etc.

Thirdly, I've REALLY missed all of you bloggers and commenters.

Remembering Sheila

Two weeks ago, I walked out of the Sacred Harp singing to head toward my car and turned on my phone to call my cousin Sheila. She had called the night before to check on me because she had heard that I was having some struggles with my basement. Water had seeped in several times in the two weeks before due to the pouring rain we've had in our area, and she was calling to comiserate because she too was dealing with the same ordeal in her house. As usual, her voicemail message was funny, and as usual, she ended the message with some encouraging words and an 'I love you.' When she called the night before, I wasn't able to reach the phone because I was in the basement working on the water problem.

The next day got away from me at work because of our company site being sold, and I planned to call Sheila on my way home from Sacred Harp. But, when I turned on my phone, the alert notified me that I had several messages. I listened to all of them - from various family members - which told me that Sheila had been rushed to the hospital that evening. As soon as I hung up from my voicemail, my cousin Bart called to tell me that Sheila had just passed away unexpectedly from heart complications.

Sheila with Bart and Mary at Grandpa's 98th birthday party.

I can't explain the shock I felt. Sheila and I have always been very close. My dad and mom have always been very close to her, too. In fact, they named me after her, so her middle name Denise is my middle name.

Some of my earliest memories are memories of doing things with Sheila. When Mom and Dad worked for some in-home sales companies and they needed to attend conventions, Sheila would always come along to babysit. We'd explore the area or play in the pool, or she'd teach us songs and poems. We used to sing "Miss Molly Had A Dolly" over and over and over, and I loved watching Sheila act out the song. She loved small children, and she ran a daycare business within her home until her passing. She would go on and on and on about each child as if each were her own, and she was so proud of them.

Sheila made several dolls for me through the years, and one even had a homemade fur coat and mittens. She went to the trouble of refurbishing a cherished doll, Susie, for my graduation, and I couldn't believe it. Sheila was always doing nice things like that.... sending a note, sending me a pansy figurine to add to my collection, or sending some Valentine's Day cookies. She had just done that the week before.

Sheila was so fun, and when there was fun to be had, I knew I always had a partner at the family events that would jump right in with me. It didn't matter how crazy it was. We'd talk and talk, and we'd laugh and laugh. But, then, when I needed someone to really listen and understand, she'd do that too and pray for me. She gave great hugs, and she wasn't afraid to say 'I love you' - both when times were tough and when I was up to something mischievous that she could really appreciate.

Sheila with Mom at Kayla's graduation party.

I can hear her voice saying, "Ohhh, Rog" or "Ohhh, Dennie" when my uncle or dad were doing something funny. But, my favorite was when she looked at her husband and said "Ohhh, David" when he was kidding her. That happened so often when I would visit Sheila and David. I remember always sitting in the backseat and leaning forward to watch them joke with each other while holding hands. It seemed they were almost always holding hands, and I loved that.

Sometimes, Sheila would say all of the "practicing" on Aaron and me in our younger years was really just preparation for her two daughters. She loved Brittany and Kayla so very much. VERY MUCH! That was for sure, and she protected them like a mother hen. When I teased her for being overprotective, she explained the girls were her babies, and the 3 of them were the best of friends. Since Kayla has moved down here to Edwardsville, their family has visited many times in the past year, and those are some special times for which I am very thankful.

It was several years ago when Sheila came to me and told me she'd just read an article about not waiting in life to celebrate. She said the story had made her think about our grandpa - whose 94th birthday was approaching - and wondered what I thought about having a party this year instead of waiting until his 95th to have one. So, Sheila and I moved forward with plans. It turned out to be a BIG party with all of the extended family invited to attend. But, that year and in the years after, some people have been mixed up at what birthday Grandpa was celebrating. They were sure that first big party HAD to be his 95th. 'Why would anyone have a big party for a 94th birthday??' I vividly remember standing in front of my family - while crying, of course - trying to explain why we decided to have a party that year. It was Sheila's idea and Sheila's hope that we would not put off celebrating and spending time and expressing our love to our loved ones because we didn't know how long we'd have to spend with each other here on earth. And, I vividly remember trying to put all of that into words while looking across the park pavilion into her crying eyes that day. What a wonderful memory and a wonderful lesson she gave me that year... along with so many others.

It has been hard to realize she is gone. In fact, even at her own funeral, something funny happened, and my initial thought was that I needed to go find Sheila to tell her about it because she'd get a kick out of it. It was quite a shock when I came to my senses. It just didn't feel right for the family to be together with her not being there because she was ALWAYS there when we had a family event. I know there will be so many more of those times of missing her in the future, and that's very difficult to think about. But, oh, what a wonderful time I've had with her thus far and what a wonderful time I've had recounting the memories. And, I imagine the experience she's having in heaven with our Lord, and, through the tears, I can't help but smile... just like I did every time I was with Sheila.