the stuff dreams are made of

Stuff and I get along well. I welcome stuff to my house, stuff enters, looks around, likes what it sees and stays. And stays and stays and stays and in the meantime I have some new stuff and the old stuff is wearing out its welcome.

Lately I’ve been trying my hand at de-stuffing. I feel moderately inhospitable getting rid of stuff that has made itself at home. But it doesn’t pay rent, doesn’t clean up after itself, and some of it is developing severe personality disorders that are making the possibility of eviction easier.

Take these dolls.


The first one belonged to my mother in law. (Both are pushing 90. My mother-in-law is by far the better looking of the two.) Look deep into the doll’s eyes.
I dare you.

I call her “Soulless Lou.”
Actually I call her Soulless Sal but some lovely people I know are named Sally so for purposes of preserving friendships she’ll be Lou. I believe she turned down an opportunity to appear on “The Walking Dead.”

Second is a little lady I refer to as “Scabbers” for obvious reasons.

She is probably about 110. She belonged to an elderly neighbor who had no children and thought I’d like the doll. Scabbers isn’t particularly horrifying until her eyes—which still function—start blinking, and don’t stop.

The last doll is mine. One of the few toys I have from my childhood. She is about 60. Her name used to be Judy but now it is “She-reminds-me-of-the-little-possesed-girl-from-the-Exorcist.”

My kindergarten-aged grandsons slept over last week and refused to go to bed till the doll formerly known as Judy was out of the room.

My de-stuffing has caught on a snag. A doll my parents bought me when I was a toddler. One from my beloved mother-in-law and one from a sweet neighbor who is now in heaven. How can I evict them?

I don’t have an answer yet.
But tell me.
Is it my imagination, or are they suddenly just a little closer to the edge of the sofa than when I first set them down?

Dusty you are…

When one’s 6’5” bearded teddy bear of a son—the baby of the family—and his lovely fiancee say, “Can we have our wedding rehearsal dinner at your house?” what is one to respond?
One and one’s husband say, “Of course!” And begin the list of everything needed to get the house and yard ready for 40 guests.

Husband and son handle the groundskeeping, I am supposed to handle the housekeeping.
But a year of Covid and chemo mean the house has not been particularly well kept.
Tidy? Yes. Healthy? Hopefully.

On the recommendation of my daughter-in-law we called in the cavalry.
“The cleaning crew who come in for me are awesome. Their boss is willing to do a one-time-only deep clean. English isn’t her first language so texting works best.”

Texts flew for a couple of days and so did I. One doesn’t invite a cleaning lady into one’s house without cleaning first, correct? (My husband says, “I don’t swat all the mosquitoes outside before I call in mosquito control, do I?” Men don’t comprehend the complexities involved here.)

The big day came and so did the small, sturdy cleaning team leader. I walked her through the house, watching out of the corner of my eye as she frowned at my 1001 knick-knacks, ran a practiced finger around the inside of the tub, and glared—there’s no other word for it—at the plethora of bookcases.

Finally, the reckoning. I waited anxiously, having abandoned hope that she might compliment the results of my panic cleaning.
She poked what seemed to be innumerable keys on her phone calculator.
She poked a few more and punched in one last number with an emphatic finger.

With an expression that hovered between judgmental and pitying, she said,
“Little dusty. Upcharge.”

Image by Katie Phillips from Pixabay

We have our years, and we have our years

We taught our boys the “Now I lay me down” prayer when they were about 2 1/2.

“Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray the Lord my soul to keep
Guard me Jesus through the night
And wake me with the morning light.”

By the time our middle son was three, he wanted to branch out with his own requests.
He prayed regularly for Pete.
He didn’t know any Petes.
Although his paternal grandparents had a friend named Pete and 31 years later Pete is still going strong, so who knows? The prayers of a child, right?

And this little toddler son of ours often began his prayers with “Lord, we have our days and we have our days.”
It’s become a family motto for the past three decades.
We do indeed.

Lately I’ve been saying, “Lord, we have our years, and we have our years.”
This past year was a doozy.
It started after Memorial Day, 2021 when I was literally hours away from death.
The Covid that barely skimmed my family hit me hard.

In the ICU, after having my heart shocked into submission and being pumped full of who-knows-what and gallons of blood drawn (I’m sure that is barely an exaggeration) and having X-rays and CT scans all night long, we found out why I was so sick.

I have an underlying comorbidity.
Unbeknownst to me—because apparently I’m rather clueless—megalosplenatic lymphoma had extended my spleen to the size of a basketball.
Biggest spleen the oncologist ever saw.
I was a rock star at the hospital.
Nurses, interns, other doctors would poke their heads in my room and say “Can I feel your spleen?”
Honestly, words I never expected to be directed at me.

So began a year of one kind of chemo that had no effect on my spleen but gave me ugly, painful mouth sores, rigors (severe, uncontrollable trembling) and some nausea.
Then another kind of chemo, several CT scans, more blood draws from my pincushioned arms, oodles of naps, countless prayers from loved ones and even strangers, and way too much anxiety and “what if” thoughts.

And then a follow up appointment yesterday.
While I’ll always have lymphoma, for now the chemo did its job.
My oncologist didn’t use the word “remission” but did say my family would have to put up with me for good while yet. Wonderful words that had seemed too much to hope for.

We have our years and we have our years. This one showed me that when my faith burns low, the prayers of God’s people warm me. When I’d rather huddle at home, if I drag my droopy-bodied and scraggly-haired self to church, I experience joy. I’m taken out of myself and my worries and fears and brought into a foretaste of glory divine.

This year demonstrated that I’m pretty weak. And guess where God promises that HIS strength is made perfect?

This year cemented the truth I’ve professed for ages but never internalized to this degree: God uses His people to care for His people.

And this past day reminded me that no one but God has my days numbered. So instead of worrying about how many more He may have planned for me, I best get moving and love every minute of today, while it is today.

Praise God for this past year.
And please, God, if it’s your will, can this coming year be rather uneventful?

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

On Beyond Avocado Toast

This makes year umpteen I forgot to cancel my WordPress site.
It links up (again) to the umpteenth year I’ve promised to be a better steward of money.

Some perfect year we’ll eat avocados before they rot in the windowsill.
I won’t buy items from Amazon and forget to return them until it’s too late.
Or buy too many flowers from the greenhouse when I have no room and try to cram 24 zinnias in space recommended for 16 and spend the summer watching them fight over soil nutrients and sunlight.

But this is not that year, my friends.

I have WordPress for another year and I’ll try to post more than once in the next 12 months.
Of course I would love to have you stop by.
I’ll be prudish and nice and hopefully practice brevity and you can decide if what is here is worth reading.
Let’s do our bit to keep the blog corner of the world alive and kicking. And keep my resolve to be a better steward of my resources.

Anyone got a good recipe for avocado mush?