Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I didn't realize that most of a month has gone by since the last time I blogged! Now February is close to its end and tomorrow is Ash Wednesday!

I won't ask you what you're giving up or taking on during Lent this year. It's a highly personal thing. I would just encourage each of you to give it some thought. We're so used to hearing about the "giving something up" part that people have become very inventive about their sacrifices during this period of preparation. But somehow I think that giving up lima beans, liver or brussels sprouts kind of misses the point of this spiritual discipline.

Taking something new on also seems to be a more recent development in some churches as the companion discipline to sacrifice. Both components have their place -- for example: I give up disorder and take on steps to orderliness to bring peace of mind and also to make myself ready to help others. That's pretty much where my intention lies this year.

This came to me full force recently (See the Feb. 1 post) and I realized that my slobby ways aren't just a hindrance to me living my own life, but also curtail my ability to serve others. It keeps me from opening up my home and practicing hospitality, and it also prevents me from being prepared to act quickly in other situations, should the need arise.

So, during this Lenten season I will be working on this from both approaches, and through study. My study may not be a typical Cokesbury curriculum type study; there are several books that address certain components related to an overall spiritual discipline and response that have my attention right now. Maybe I'll blog more about them over the next few weeks, but at the moment I cannot promise that. I want to see how things develop before I make that commitment to anyone else.

One other thing -- I am working on getting more rest and going to bed earlier. And it's about time for me to make the trip to bed to end this day.

Bless you all and remember that Jesus loves you. Please take a second to say to yourself -- say it out loud -- "Jesus loves me." Use your name -- make it intensely personal. Say it and believe it, because it is the truth above all others.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Premio Dardos Award

Thank you to Jill of All Trades for this award!

Here's the text that accompanies it:

"This award acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write. Awards like this have been created with the intention of promoting community among Bloggers. It's away to show appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web"

Now I am supposed to select 15 other fellow bloggers to pass this award too and contact them. I am going to have to think about this.... I'll get back to you1

To Jill of All Trades


Hi! Does this look vaguely familiar?? I saw your post about your dad's place and did a double take!

Living Frugally

Or, Authentic Living.

It's authentic to live within our means. We're not putting on a misrepresentation of who we are when we stop spending money we don't have. It's real. I'm broke, I don't spend. I don't charge. I don't steal from my future for something today that will a) be gone before it's paid for or b) will be in the way of me living my life tomorrow.

I'm sure we've all tightened the belt lately. Not many of us can say we're better off today than we were as we celebrated the millennium (remember that? what a big deal we thought it was? Remember all the Y2K crap?)

Now, I am not advocating the hording of toilet paper and bottled water -- I think people who do have a plan of preparation and wise storage of resources probably have a great idea, if the storage for the future doesn't impair life today.

What I am advocating is common sense and reason. Live well, in all senses of the phrase. Plan for old age. Plan for illness. Plan for hard times. Don't waste. Don't throw away money. Don't waste your life.

Several of my blogging buddies have been posting about their budgeting efforts over the past several months. I'm pretty sure I have, too.

Now and then I'm going to start throwing out some ideas about how to cope with less money. Here's a short list of things I am doing. I know these won't work for everyone, but they have become a necessity for me as much as just a plan of coping:

1. Give up cable. I gave it up when I moved here in June 2007. I don't watch TV. Not only do I save the $40 or $50 or whatever amount that cable costs a month, but I'm also not exposed to advertisements for products I "just can't live without." Sure, I missed the Super Bowl ads, but I don't need to create a demand for Pepsi or Budweiser in my house anyway. (Just don't interfere with my Diet Coke habit and no one gets hurt.

2. Eat at home. One small blessing of living here is that I can come home for lunch. On average, that saves me $7 a day for lunch these days -- unbelievable! That's roughly $140 a month.

3. Cook instead. From scratch. It's fun, it's relaxing and man, doesn't it taste better than the other stuff? YES. It's also cheaper and probably healthier. (Do not look to me as a source for healthful eating information. Let me serve as your "horrible warning.")

4. Create energy efficiencies. Go green. Compact fluorescent bulbs save a ton of money. I don't use old-fashioned bulbs any more. Take advantage of "green" give-aways where these lights are given out as promotional items. They will last for years. Arbor Day and Earth Day are coming up. Find a group promoting either of these and there's a good chance you can get at least one free bulb.

5. Keep driving the old car as long as possible. Keep it in good repair. My old car is about to turn 14. It's been through a lot, especially this past year. It needs a tuneup and as soon as I have the cash, it's getting one. And it will probably go a while longer. At this point I have to think of necessary repairs in terms of "how many car payments would this be?" Say a repair is going to cost me, oh, $600. That's two payments (or less). If that gets me more than two more months of service from this car, I'm money far ahead. My tags and insurance are much cheaper, and I don't have to pay all that new car expense with tag and title and license. OK, so the radio's not so great. Big deal. I'm only in the car five minutes each way to work.

6. I sew. I'm sewing more again because a) I can't afford to shop. b) there's no place to shop where I live anyway. To make shopping worthwhile, I have to travel about 100 miles to a major city. When I go, I make the trip worthwhile. But I budget for it now. I keep a list of things I "need" and then try to make sure I have cash when those purchases become essential.

7. Sales. Don't be a dang fool. If you see something, it's going to be on sale in a couple of weeks for half or less of the price when it first comes out. Yeah, I'm cheap. I get $4 prescriptions at Wal-Mart, and while I'm there I scout out the clothes -- mostly shirts, sweaters and jeans. The jeans I buy are about $17. But the tops? I usually spend $5 or so, certainly less than $10. Last time I was there I spotted a shirt I spent $15 for a couple of months ago, marked down to $4. I've learned!

8. My latest product recommendation is Debbie Myer Green Bags. They paid for themselves the first week after I got them. They keep produce fresh for a much longer period of time. No mor icky science experiments in my fridge, plus having fresh food inspires me to find ways to use it!

More another time -- share your favorite money-saving approaches in the comments!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Trouble comes knocking

I got home from church and was on the computer for a few minutes when I heard a persistent pounding.

I went to the front door -- no one was there, but I looked to my left and an old woman was beating on the front bedroom window. She was standing out there with nothing on but a nightgown so I ran down to her to ask her if she needed help.

Bare feet, bone thin. Her hair was just a tangled mess and she had a huge bruise all around her left eye.

I wrapped my arms around her and helped her shuffle into my house to get her warm. The police came to my door before I even had a chance to get back to my bedroom to get her a robe and some slippers. A woman officer came in first and I ran to get the robe and slippers. Then she needed to go to the bathroom, so I got her back there to let her go. Then we put her on the couch and wrapped her up in a couple of throws.

A man officer came shortly after that, and then the woman's daughter showed up and was just ugly -- saying that her mother was spoiled and mad that she hadn't gotten her way and so now she is going to a home.

I told the daughter we were going to talk to her mother for a while so she could just leave. The officers just looked at her like "you heard her."

A third officer came also. He spent some time down at the daughter's house and then came to talk to the other two officers. Kristina, the old woman, stayed with me and I just held her and hugged her and rocked her and patted her and tried to get her warmed up.

I talked to her to get her talking. She is 86, about to turn 87 later this month. She has some confusion but there were some things she was able to tell me that were clear.

The officers spent a considerable amount of time down at the daughter's house, which is two houses south of me. Apparently they agree with me that the situation down there stinks to high heaven, so they will have Adult Protective Services check things out in the morning. They did, however, interview the daughter enough to feel confident the woman will be safe there until APS comes.

The daughter's story is that the woman fell in the bathroom a couple of days ago and that's how she got the eye bruise -- she fell into a doorknob.The male officer seems to give some credence to her story.

The woman is bone-thin. Even through the robe I could feel her backbone. I would be surprised if she weighed 90 pounds. And she had to go to the bathroom again before she left. Hate to be gross about it, but there was nothing in the toilet either time, which indicates she has not eaten recently. The officer said her daughter told them she was on a medication she started today that gives her diarrhea.

I gave both of the officers my card. Funniest thing was Kristine said "I don't want this in the paper" when we were putting her on the couch. I told her I could promise her that, then I turned to the woman officer explained who I am.

Kristine was probably here an hour and a half or so and was still bone-cold when they walked her back home.

I am so upset but I know that if APS can get her placed somewhere in either assisted living or a care home things will be better for her. Her daughter is not capable of being her caretaker at this point -- and if she didn't punch her this time, I know she will.

And I will state that I don't believe the doorknob story. If that woman didn't punch her mother, I'm a monkey's uncle.