Yesterday I stopped at the Credit Union to drop off the quarters, nickels and pennies I had rolled up over a rather dull week-end. (The dimes are sitting in a red chicken bank not full yet.). I told the cashier it was the sum total of my week-end. She laughed. We are trying to keep our sense of humor these days. Yesterday it did melt a lot which was great, but it meant a host of new problems. The water created from melting snow has no real place to go. The ground is frozen so it runs off or puddles and forms ice-skating rinks on your side walk.
While I love my new porch, this winter has revealed a new problem. The metal roof causes the snow to melt when the sun shines on it. The snow slides off right on to the steps leading to my front door! Not that I have a lot of company, but I have to get out there before the ice freezes on the steps. Gr-r-r! I have a phone call in to the man who puts on eave troughs. I need him front and back but there is no use to expect him until the Spring thaw is complete.
At least I don't have my neighbors' problem. Their water hook up to the street froze. There is a back hoe and a jack hammer trying to get through the ice and snow and cement. You always hold your breath and home the evil fairy of house problems doesn't look your way while creating havoc elsewhere.
Early this morning (for me) I headed out to the Water and sewage treatment plant. The City is having issues with the engineering firm who designed and built it and a law suit is pending. There were three lawyers and three engineers plus a couple of us from the city council listening in. I think someone who is bright could work out a joke somewhere in that (What happens when three attorneys and three engineers are together?) The engineers are explaining the problems with the system and the attorneys are trying to figure out what language he is speaking. That is what it looked like to me. I didn't stick around very long. We have a council meeting re: this afternoon.
Then I sat down to work on a sermon for April 8th in Broadus Montana. The first Sunday after Easter in the Gospel of John is the story of Doubting Thomas in the final verses of the book. Good time to talk about faith, belief and trust. It will take some re-writing before it is done, but at least the framework is now there. I am hoping that I can leave Broadus that day and head east to Sioux Falls to visit Myron and Marilyn and then on east to visit others. The way home I will swing north and say "hi" to Samantha and Alex in St. Paul. Samantha recently got a new job with Twin Cities Public Television. So happy for her.
The days march into March. I will turn 70 on the 11th. Wow! I remember an old PEANUTS strip when Charlie Brown tells Linus his father turned "30". Linus responds, "Do people really live that long?" Good response to the way I feel some days.
God is good all the time.
It is cold today. It has been cold. According to the weather man who lives in my smart phone it will be 28 degrees on March 1st so there is hope, Not only has it been cold, but it has been long and cold. Thanksgiving 2017, my nephew and family were here and it was a delightful week-end. We had to put on some warm jackets for the Parade of Lights, but it was a pleasant evening. After that it was lock-down winter time!! Fortunately I had some help from a couple gentlemen from the church and I had a snow blower and a leaf-type blower I could use depending on the amount of snow we got. Snow removal went pretty quickly although ‘Nanook of the North’ 2.0 was definitely my mode of dress and the way I looked after an hour in sub-zero temps.
Monday, Tuesday and today we have had frigid temps, but blue sky and sunshine and that helps. There has been a lot of ice as well so all as older folks have been taking it slow and easy.
I was visiting with a friend today who mentioned the snow pack in the Big Horns and the West is higher than normal this year so that probably means we can prepare ourselves for some flooding this year again. We have had some high water the last few years. Living along side a major river makes you more alert to those things. It is also amazing to watch what in the depths of summer is not much of a river compared to other areas of the country, at Spring flood rolls out of its banks and spreads across the countryside throwing up huge chunks of ice that dam up and can cause a lot of trouble. When the ice on the river starts to move it goes so quickly. I remember years when in February the ice slipped out quickly and overnight, but this year that isn't apt to happen.
Being house bound and not having a busy schedule like last year I have had more time to think, read, knit, visit, write letters and do some of those little jobs that never get done. Recently I have started to make a short list of things that need to be done. Right now I am looking at my list and it is down to dig out the door to the shed and shred a stack of paper that has been sitting next to the shredder far too long. This morning I hauled a plastic sack of aluminum cans to a drop off point down town. I must admit to a smug satisfaction when I can cross these items off. Of course there is no danger of ever running out of things to do. I should add dust the book cases in my living room!!!
Yesterday I stopped at the Nursing Home to visit a friend who just turned 100 years old. I had a conflict on the day of her birthday party — of course. But I went up to see her in the morning so I could wish her well. Yesterday she was reading the paper when I came in. What a delightful lady and still so interested in life and living. She had two maiden aunts who lived to be nearly 100 so we decided it was in her Scandinavian DNA.
It is always fun to watch how life goes on even on the coldest of days. Last night I had a city council meeting and tonight the Library Board meets. The Eastern A basketball tournament is meeting in Billings so lots of folks have headed up there in spite of roads and weather. People come and people go. People move out of town for various reasons but then someone new moves in to take their place.
I got my latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens today and of course their cover is about gardening and Spring! I admit to looking around and thinking about some minor changes. I am thinking about having someone build me a box for flowers that is something I can work with standing up this summer. Have to see if I can find someone. The April calendar is filling up with various events. All good things.
Lots of wintry weather again —- snow, wind but temps are at least higher than -10 degrees for the most part! Some days seem positively balmy, especially after some really cold. Guess Mother Nature is going to acclimatize us in spite of our complaining.
Streets were an issue yesterday. The city was cleaning the street onto which I exit going onto the main streets in town. I needed to cross the stack in the middle. I thought I could make it with my clearance -- well, you know what happened. I got stuck in the middle of the street pretty much stopping traffic on both sides!! Fortunately there were three young men who were "Good Samaritans" they stopped right away, had shovels and got me out in no time. Really appreciated the help. I thought, "Somebody's mother did a good job of raising those boys." Three separate young men in three separate outfits! I was blessed. I laughed to myself and said being on the city council was no help! I had to tough it out like everyone else.
Then, something curious -- I put a brand new square of suet out for the birds. A couple of days later it was gone. Either it fell out and the squirrel was waiting to catch it as it fell or some unsuspecting woodpecker got his beak in too far and flew off with it stuck in. (I don't think so!). But it was a mystery. I replaced it with a new one which is still around at least at this point.
I got a slow start this morning. I sat up much too late working on the foot of a sock last night. It came out a little small around the instep. Next pair I will have to work on that problem. I have figured out how to turn a heel and have it come out pretty well so I am pleased with that. Years ago my goal was to knit mittens on three needles to have a tube. I am going to have to try tube socks and see how that turns out. Fun to have a little challenge. So I was slow getting out to the medical center where they were doing the yearly blood draws. Of course lots of us retired folks. I was late as most of them were there at the 7 a.m. hour. Then it was to head to the grocery store where there were folks from the blood draw making one more stop before heading home. It is funny some times when that happens. Another popular stop in the daily routine is the post office. Always see someone to visit with there.
I submitted my blog on clotheslines to the local paper where it was printed. Really enjoyed the comments from folks as it seemed to bring back many fond memories. One item I had forgotten until a couple of people mentioned it — that the sheets were always hung on the outside lines and then the family’s underwear on the inside lines. Even out in the country someone said they did that. Modesty! When you think about the part clothes lines played in our lives then the expression, “airing your dirty laundry” has more meaning. A woman’s laundry was a source of pride.
The Glendive Agri-Trade Show had a good turn out the week end of the 10th of February. Maybe not as many people as in past years, but again it was cold, snow and the roads in the area were wicked. The Cowbelles roast beef meal is always the hit of the show and folks come out from warm houses just to sample it. It is always so tender. Jenny Rice lives north of town near Savage MT. Her caramel rolls are something people would walk miles for. So like church suppers, people look forward to these community events. Now that Lent has arrived the Knights of Columbus will start serving their fish dinner on Friday nights. That is always a treat as well.
Going to try and fix chicken enchiladas for lunch tomorrow and then have a friend to share it with me.
Life is good because God is good all the time.
Well, I was off and running about 7.30 a.m. today. I was preaching in Richey and Circle at the yoked parish in those two communities. I admit to it being something of a lark since I hadn't been out of town for quite some time and was looking for anything that even smacked a little of an adventure.
The weather was March weather to me -- squalls -- sunshine, then clouds, then blowing snow. Someone else said must be time for lambing and calving. Didn't see much in the way of traffic -- two oil tankers, couple pick-ups with snow mobiles in the back and a huge semi-load of hay. If the truck was pointed in the right direction it wanted to head north so suppose that was to Jordan.
Saw one deer, some large flying bird (eagle, hawk?). All of that in about 100 miles of highway.
Anyway it was just good to get out and see the country and the folks who live in the country, and to worship together on a cold and snowy Sunday morning. And I learned that the Circle Wildcats won the State C Basketball tournament. Go Wildcats! Power's in the East!!
Over the past few days I have been influenced by a couple of experiences to think more seriously about poverty. Let me say up front, there is nothing noble about being poor. To the 18th century middle class there was something cozy about a cottage out on the moor where one was away from the bustle of city life. But there was nothing easy nor uplifting about not knowing where your next meal was coming from, or how you would feed your babies or your livestock, let alone yourself and how do you keep your family warm and out of the elements. We who have everything should never "tsk-tsk" about the poor and speak knowingly about something of which we know nothing.
Sunday night I watched Masterpiece Theater on PBS and the program VICTORIA, about the queen of England during the 19th century. This particular episode focused on the Irish potato famine which ended in a million people dying and two million Irish emigrating to America in the 1830s and 1840s. Thank goodness the Irish were feisty and hard working and proud and when they came to America they injected a strain in our blood that makes March 17th an almost National Holiday in this country. But in the process one million men, women and children died of hunger. There was enough food for the Irish, but the English landlords were taking it from the tenant farmers and selling it to line their own pickets. The Corn Laws were to blame and eventually they were repealed
People who study poverty and hunger today tell us there is enough food to feed the world's hungry, but political discord keeps food from getting to those who need it most. Recently in South Sudan we were shown images of people picking up seeds off the ground or eating water plants to keep from dying. The specter of FAMINE is horrifying and much with us today.
There is a parable in the Bible called the Good Samaritan. It tells of a man beaten and robbed and left for dead alongside the road. Two religious officials walk by on the other side before someone comes who cares enough to help. Walking by on the other side is what we are too guilty of most of the time.
As if to highlight the famine in Ireland in the 1830s, I just finished reading Katherine Boo's book "Behind the Beautiful Forevers." Set in Mumbai (Bombay), India, it is a contemporary picture of terrible poverty in a land where the people walk with famine, death, and disease every day. "Beautiful forever" is the name of a slum near the air port of the city. The huge luxurious hotels cast their shadows across the slums where the people earn their living by sorting through the garbage of the hotels, finding what is salvageable and then selling it to those who recycle. Don't read the book unless you have a strong stomach.
It was 1975 when I was privileged to go to India and spend six weeks traveling throughout the country, learning its history and meeting its people. Wonderful, welcoming men and women. And we saw the slums of India. Acres of homes with tin roofs and raw sewage running through the streets. Looking out the window of the bus one day I saw a large body of water in front of a rural village. At one end a woman was washing her dishes and collecting water for her family and at the other end a cow stood placidly in the same water. The book "Behind the beautiful forevers" highlights a couple of families and how the new millennium gave them cause to hope that life could be better for them if they just worked hard enough. Some were Moslems and some were Hindus, but it didn't matter, every time they were able to put a little money aside, something happened to take it all away. Illness, corruption in government and politics, an accident, it didn't matter. Among the young people suicide was seen as a way out.
Poverty is a disease. We have to take deliberate action in attempting to improve the lot of people and it isn't done in one generation. It is easy to give up hope as the author describes, but somehow there seems to be the determination to rise above it and persevere.
Boo has received many awards in her writing career, mostly writing about poverty and how people live when they have nothing. It really is a beautiful book and one I found difficult to put down. I remember the overwhelming sense of despair I felt when I was in India, watching the children working and questioning look on the faces of the people as the bus swept past them. People living on the streets or trying to pursue a business in a tiny shop alongside dozens of other shops. The ownership of a sewing machine makes you a tailor and will allow you to feed a large family.
Once, as our bus passed a huge slum, I saw a red kite flying high above the shacks. A sign of hope in a pool of sadness.
For we who have everything, we must begin right where we are to meet and fight poverty. We cannot give up. Too many depend on what we do. There is a community of the world and we are called to give all to help our neighbor.