Inside: The unmistakable hint of fall, surviving gracefully when your Internet is down, and an all-around trying week!
The Unmistakable Hint of Fall
Summer, we hardly knew ye! Or at least that’s the way I feel on this end. The season of long days and living outdoors seemed to zip by, though it was wonderful while it lasted. But if I’m being perfectly honest, while summer and I are good friends, I’m head over heels in love with fall! Chirping crickets, small patches of leaves blushing, the scent of wood smoke in the air. Woolly worms moving at rapid pace, as if on a mission. I’ve been collecting these little hints of my favorite season for the last several weeks now. I’ve been greeting many a morning in sweats and long sleeve shirts. Twice I’ve turned on the electric fireplace to take the chill off. And all the while I’ve been smiling. Something about this time of year makes me feel so alive. I want to buy large bright orange pumpkins, just because, and take long walks in the woods. I want to wear my boots and sweaters and go apple picking, then come home with the spoils and make fried apples. I want to sip pumpkin lattes and read a good book at The Bean. And that’s just for starters. I found this cool (pun not originally intended, but, hey, why not?) fall bucket list which you can actually download and print if you run out of ideas. Apparently I’m not the only fall fanatic.
Surviving Gracefully When Your Internet is Down
Today my Internet has been restored! Halleluiah! (And I really do mean that.) It’s been a frustrating nine days of dealing with tech support chats, finding Internet sources to quickly jump on, do my business, and get off again. No leisurely searching topics or reading emails as I watch Hogan’s Heroes reruns at night. No double and triple checking of website posts and stats (hello, is anybody really reading this thing?) or looking up a recipe for tomato pie.
To say the least it has been . . . enlightening. I discovered that I spend (and sometimes waste) a great deal of time online–and I don’t even do Facebook. I also learned that I rely heavily on it for such things as daily devotional Bible reading in the version of my choice, to being able to check weather and bank statements multiple times daily, to keeping in the know with my friends and writing community and critique group commitments and clients from my editing business. To research topics of interest. (To be fair, our county does not have a public library system, so some time I might spend at a library researching is spent online.)
So now here’s the million-dollar question: What’s the takeaway? (I do believe this happened for a reason.) I know that I need more balance and discipline. If I’m complaining that there isn’t enough time to complete my to-do list, I might need to take a look at where I’ve been spending my time. If I’m scratching my head at the fact that other people seem to be able to read more books than I do, I might need to shut my laptop and avoid the Internet on my Kindle and read some of those books in my digital library. Or, heck, crack open something that has pages and an actual spine. Yeah, I might try that.
An All-around Trying Week
Mom and I said our goodbyes on August 28, the day before she embarked on a two-week stay with my brother in Colorado, and everything was pretty calm around the farm. I knew I’d be on daily chicken duty–feeding, watering, collecting eggs–as well as looking after her cats and keeping her flowers and garden watered. No sweat. But then a series of unfortunate events (no, not of the Lemony Snicket variety) happened, and life got busy, frustrating, and rather angsty–as in “Hey, God, aren’t You listening to me? Can’t You do something about all of these problems?”
As previously mentioned, we lost our Internet connection, which you’d think was our only communication with the outside world. Our cats mysteriously came down with something viral, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea, and I was quickly using up the spray cleaner and paper towels. We were suddenly low on funds, but we needed to make a trip to the store. I had an editing project due that I could just not make traction on, and I dreaded emailing my client to tell her. It was like every moment of my time was eaten up with something extra, and little annoying problems kept cropping up as I simply went about my day doing regular household chores. Then we headed out early Saturday and spent several fruitless hours trying to locate a DSL modem so we could make things happen quicker to restore our Internet–to no avail. In the middle of the running, Mike turned to me and said, “Oh, yeah, they’re collecting baby items to send to Texas. It’s only today and tomorrow morning.” He went on to explain our church had rented a U-Haul truck to drive down the items to flood victims.
I’d like to say my immediate reaction rivaled the Good Samaritan. It didn’t. I sighed, thinking, Great, one more stop. And I thought about juggling funds, figuring out how to do it, where to make this mad dash before we had to be at church. Then lo and behold, a Walmart Neighborhood Market seemed to sprout up from nowhere. I’d never heard of such a thing, much less expected to see it on that stretch of road. Apparently it was new. Then I remembered a Visa gift card I’d been holding on to like a miser, waiting for some perfect item to spend it on. I told Mike how we could pay for it, and we entered the market and went searching for the baby aisle.
Once there we debated what size of diapers to get, and then we just got one package of each. Then we picked up some powdered formula, thinking that would probably work best to hand out to flood victims. Then we picked up wipes, some regular, some for sensitive skin just in case. And, you know, a funny thing happened. With each item added to the cart, a feeling of joy swept over me. I kept blinking back happy tears, thinking how fortunate I was, how good it felt to be able to help people, and how thankful I was that I could be a part of it all.
“Sometimes I need to remember how good it feels to give,” I said to Mike, thinking how, ironically, I was really the one receiving the gift.
We headed over to the self-checker, scanning the items, and before the tally the opportunity to give $1, $2, or $5 to Red Cross relief efforts appeared on the screen. I pressed the $5, not knowing what the total was, and wouldn’t you know it, the gift card paid for it all with about a dollar to spare.
In the scheme of things, the problems I thought I had didn’t compare with people who’d lost everything and had to wait in line for common, simple necessities like water and food and clothes. I imagined some distraught mother having to keep a wet diaper on her child because she didn’t have any left. Sure puts life into perspective.
And I definitely needed that.
How did your week go? Tell us about it in the comments.