Remembering Miracles Can Happen

This is a bit of a follow-up to the Faithfully Thinking post I shared on Friday. I shared these couple of paragraphs on my Instagram account last week. I wrote a little more about this incident here on the blog last year.

Last year I was in a hospital room with a woman I didn’t think was going to make it through the night. Her oxygen kept dropping but despite what we were seeing in the news, every effort was being made to keep patients off ventilators. Her supplemental oxygen was increased but the numbers still kept dropping into the high 60s, low 70s and sometimes in the mid-80s. I knew all these numbers were bad. She and I had been able to talk some in between her throwing up and falling into deep sleep from the effects of the illness. A few times she even apologized to me for falling asleep, which was of course silly. The poor woman was fighting off a nasty illness and trying to breathe.

One night the nurses begged the woman to use a BiPAP. She tried but her breathing became even worse. The nurses left the room discouraged but not yet ready to rush her to ICU. Instead, they increased the supplemental oxygen to high flow and hoped it would work. They monitored her stats from the nurses’ station.

I stood and walked to her side of the room. Laying my hand on her shoulder I began to do something I very rarely do – pray out loud for her lungs and for her oxygen to come back up.

I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe it would just be comforting to my roommate if nothing else. In minutes, though, the numbers rose dramatically until her oxygen was at 98. I was floored and delighted. I broke down and went back to my bed to try to rest.

I left her there a couple days later, still worried I would later find out she died. When I called and asked to talk to her a week or so later, I was shocked to hear her voice, free of the oxygen mask, talking clearly and happy that she was going to be released the next day. Her lung did collapse after I left and before she was discharged and she still has COPD, which she had before, but I texted her to wish her a Happy Thanksgiving yesterday. She texted back. Like me, she’s grateful to have spent her Thanksgiving at home. I am planning to stop in for a visit to her sometime in the next month so we can remember that miracles do happen.

Sunday Bookends: Pretty Christmas lights, making pies, and a lot of Christmas movies and shows

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What’s Been Occurring

Last week we had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I was so glad to be there with my family after spending last year’s in a hospital room, alone, with a burly nurse who was really nice but not who I wanted to spend Thanksgiving with. The ambulance drivers and ER nurses and doctors were nice too, but again…not family. 

This year we had a small gathering at my parents and it was the best thing ever – for me at least. I couldn’t stop feeling giddy inside because I was simply there. Little things that usually annoy me – okay, fine. Some of those things still annoyed me but they annoyed me less because I was alive to be with my family! Whoot!

Earlier in the week we went over to help my mom make an apple pie for The Husband’s birthday (he’d rather have my mom’s apple pie than cake any day – the same as our son) and Thanksgiving. We made two apple pies and figured we’d have the second one for Thanksgiving and skip the pumpkin pie since there was only six of us. My husband is given one whole  pie for himself.

Dad decided we needed a pumpkin pie though and made one Thanksgiving morning.

On The Husband’s birthday we visited a local Festival of Lights, per his request. This is a light display set up at a golf course about a 35 minute drive from our house. We had visited it in 2020, missed it last year because we were sick and then recovering so this year The Husband said that’s what he wanted to do for his birthday.

The display is massive with trees wrapped in lights and various displays set up on the grounds. You drive through it slowly and take it all in. I wish it could be done twice but, alas, they charge $30 for one drive through. This year it was completely worth it as they had added even more to the display than when we visited in 2020.

I invited our neighbor and her granddaughters (friends of Little Miss) to come with us and it made the night even more rich and fun. The giggles and squeals of the little girls in the back was a little overwhelming at times but also wonderful to hear.

We encountered a dead deer in the road in the other lane on the way to the display. On the way back our neighbor, who is in her late 70s and gets up very early in the morning, dozed off as she said she probably would. She was maybe out for ten minutes but we thought she was still out when suddenly she said, “Don’t forget that dead deer up here!”

We all about wet ourselves because we thought she was asleep. Luckily, someone had already moved the dead deer out of the roadway because it was a large deer and missing it would have been hard to do.

Friday was a lounge-around-the-house day for the kids since they I had given them the rest of the week off school. Little Miss had a friend over. They decorated our tree for us, which we didn’t expect to happen but it was nice to have that job done for us.

Saturday The Husband and The Boy went to see Wakanda Forever (Black Panther 2) and Little Miss played with her friend again.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I haven’t been reading as much as I want to be so I am still – yes, still – on the same books I’ve been on for a month now.

I hope to finish Love and A Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray this week so I can continue on some Christmas books, including Shepherd’s Abiding, which I am reading off and on.

I am taking a break from The Father Brown collection for now.

I’d like to read or finish the following books for December:

Shepherd’s Abiding by Jan Karon

By Broken Birch Bay by Jenny Knipfer

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Christmas in Absaroka County by Craig Johnson


America’s Favorite Christmastown by Dawn Klinge

Knowing what a slow reader I am, I doubt this list will be accomplished, but we shall see.

What We watched/are Watching

Last week I watched another Signed, Sealed, Delivered movie, White Christmas, Brokenwood Mysteries, a show called Still Standing, the movie Enchanted, and started the follow up movie to A Christmas Story on HBO Max.

What I’m Writing

I am working on a short story that I hope to share on the blog before Christmas. It will feature Alex and Molly, Robert and Anne especially, but also some of the other characters from Spencer Valley. That’s all I can tell you.

I’ve also started another book and would love to finish it in time for a spring release.

This week on the blog I shared:

What I’m Listening To

 I’m not actually listening to a lot right now. Anyone have any suggestions?

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments or leave a blog post link if you also write a weekly update like this.

‘Tis The Season Cinema: White Christmas

This week for the ‘Tis The Season Cinema Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I watched White Christmas. We pushed off our blog posts for it until today since we were both busy with family events for Thanksgiving, though Erin had a lot more going on than I did.

If this is your first time here, Erin and I have been watching Christmas movies since the beginning of November to get into the holiday spirit.

If you haven’t watched the movie White Christmas here is a little background without giving away the story:

The movie begins in December of 1944, during World War II, with Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby entertaining fellow soldiers at war.

The movie moves forward after that to Kaye and Crosby becoming an entertainment powerhouse duo who tour for years, have a fight, realize they’ve been working too hard and too long, and then later meet a couple of lovely ladies who are also singers/entertainers. To make a long story short, the four of them travel to Vermont to have a white Christmas and while there learn that the owner of the inn they are staying at is their old commander from the war. They then learn that the inn isn’t doing well financially and work to bring the inn back for their commander by holding their show at the inn.

While this movie is a Christmas movie, it isn’t all Christmas all the time and there is an actual plot instead of just one Christmas song to the next.

For those who don’t know, White Christmas was originally written by Irving Berlin for the 1942 movie Holiday Inn (which is on our list to watch in December). Holiday Inn also starred Bing Crosby. The song was first publicly performed by Crosby after the movie and later recorded by him, though he wasn’t that bowled over by the song to begin with (and probably hated it by the end of his life when he had to keep singing it).

(Off the subject a bit but I often get Holiday Inn and White Christmas mixed up in my head since there are two male leads in both movies and Crosby is in both movies.)

Wikipedia writes this about when the song was written: “Accounts vary as to when and where Berlin wrote the song.  One story is that he wrote it in 1940, in warm La Quinta, California while staying at the La Quinta Hotel, a frequent Hollywood retreat also favored by writer-director-producer Frank Capra, although the Arizona Biltmore also claims the song was written there. He often stayed up all night writing. One day he told his secretary, “I want you to take down a song I wrote over the weekend. Not only is it the best song I ever wrote, it’s the best song anybody ever wrote.”

I don’t know that I agree the song is the best ever written, but it is one of the most popular Christmas songs ever, and also very sweet.

As for the movie, which was released in 1954 we kick right off with the song about seven minutes into the movie, setting the tone for a sentimental and sweet ride, with a little bitter mixed in as you are forced to think about our soldiers and how they had to fight or be stationed overseas during Christmas and other holidays. As always, the singing of the song, while American soldiers look heartbroken in the audience, made me tear up again this year.

According to that same Wikipedia article (yes, I was lazy and looked things up on Wikipedia which isn’t always the most accurate site), Bing Crosby once told his nephew that the hardest thing he ever did was perform White Christmas in December of 1944 in a USO show with Bob Hope and the Andrew Sisters in front of 100,000 GIs without breaking down. Many of those men were killed two days later in the Battle of the Bulge.

There are many happy moments in the movie, though, even if some of the background is a bit tear-inducing. I would definitely call this one a feel-good movie, but not so feel-good there isn’t some depth in it. It’s, of course, a musical with plenty of impromptu songs and dance routines, especially as they rehearse for the big show to be held at the inn.

Kaye and lead actress Vera-Ellen were well-known dancers and actors at the time. They sizzle up the screen with their moves. Vera-Ellen always fascinated me because she looks like a real life Barbie doll. The cynical side of me wonders if she ate properly but I’m guessing her thin stature was from all the dancing.

I read in an article on Good Housekeeping that interestingly, Rosemary Clooney played Vera-Ellen’s older sister, but Vera-Ellen was actually seven years older at the age of 33. Bing played Rosemary’s love interest and was actually 25 years older than her, which is a bit creepy when you think about it. Rosemary did look a lot older than 26, though.

Another piece of trivia from that article was that one of the most famous scenes, when Crosby and Kaye dress up as Rosemary and Vera-Ellen, was actually not in the script. Crosby and Kaye were goofing off and it was written into the script because the director thought it was hilarious. Crosby and Kaye also thought the scene was hilarious because they kept laughing throughout.  

White Christmas is not only sung at the beginning of the movie but also in a large routine at the end, which produced the classic image of the singers in their white suits with the red trim (Santa suits in other words).

I would say this movie is the number one reason that people all over the world think they have to have snow on Christmas. It was hard for me to accept as a kid when we traveled to North Carolina and didn’t end up with snow for Christmas day, except for one year when they had a freak snowstorm.

Luckily, living in the North, we have White Christmases more often than not. Of course, it is nowhere near as romantic as the crooners make it sound when they are singing along about it on the train on their way to Vermont. When we are shoveling out our driveways we don’t sing, “Snow! Snow! Snow!” in perfect harmony. We more often mumble the words and follow them with some other choice words while flinging our shovels back in the garage.

I made a cup of cocoa to sip while I watched the movie, which I watched alone this year since we’ve seen it as a family several times and I was sure the family would want a break from it this year.

I might make my husband suffer through It’s A Wonderful Life again when we watch that one, which is a movie I like, but he doesn’t. Too bad for him. Ha.

To read Erin’s thoughts about the movie, see her post on her blog.

Up next for our ‘Tis The Season Cinema is Muppets Christmas Carol, if you’d like to join and blog with us about it.

The finishing list for the feature is:

Dec. 8: Holiday Inn                                                                           

Dec. 15: It’s A Wonderful Life

Dec. 22: Charlie Brown Christmas and Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas

Faithfully Thinking: When All You Have Is God

It’s hard to write about something you don’t want to write about.

Over and over I heard this in my head when I start to write: “No one cares, Lisa. No one cares.”

And maybe no one does care about the time last year when I was in the hospital with Covid and I felt closer to God than I ever had before or since, but I’m going to write about it anyhow.

For the last couple of weeks, I have been thinking a lot about how there was a time I thought I wouldn’t be here to enjoy the smallest joys in life.

I’ve been finding myself stopping in the middle of a frustrating moment with my child or pet or husband and taking a deep breath and letting it out again, my shoulders relaxing as I remember how lucky I am to be here with them, enjoying life.

When you think you might never come home again, you find yourself noticing the simplest things and smiling. You stop on your way in to the house after Thanksgiving dinner with your parents and look in the kitchen window and watch your daughter and your cat and your husband and smile.

You tip your head back and you look up at the sky and just sit for a few minutes in the silence, grateful for your feet on the ground and the breeze on your cheek, even if it is a cold winter breeze.

I’ve been interrupted, distracted, and thwarted every time I’ve tried to write this post.

I’ve typed, deleted, typed and deleted again.

I’ve reworded, taken it apart and put it back together again and then I deleted it all again.

Apparently, this post is something someone doesn’t want me to write, which is why I’m going to write it anyhow.

When I’m done, I won’t like how I wrote it and I’ll want to rewrite it again, or maybe even delete it, but I’m not going to. I’m writing this while the chaos of my house is going on around me and it may not make sense, but I’m writing it, posting it and hoping it encourages someone, shows them that God is with us in the small and big moments, even when we feel like he’s not.

On this day last year I was admitted to the hospital with Covid after my oxygen dropped. I didn’t feel like my oxygen was low while I had Covid. I was tired and weak, but I could take deep breaths. While I had Covid I read about oxygen dropping and some people not noticing it because of something called silent hypoxia.

 I had been reading too much about all the bad that can happen, quite frankly, partly because I’d had a fever for eight days and couldn’t get it to go away and partly because I was worried about the rest of my family.

My pulse ox was lower than it should be on the morning of Thanksgiving, but not super low. Just not coming up past 95, which I had read could mean that things might be getting bad. An ambulance ride and a visit to the ER confirmed my oxygen was even lower than what my home pulse ox was saying. I was hooked up to oxygen and transferred to a hospital 45 minutes north. I was relieved when I was transferred to that hospital because originally they had thought they might need to transfer me three hours south.

I knew if I was 45 minutes north my family would be able to visit me. Three hours? Yeah, that would have been a lot harder.

In the ER I was started on an anti-viral that would keep me in the hospital for five days. I didn’t want to do it or stay in the hospital, especially when it looked like my oxygen was responding well to a very small amount of supplemental oxygen.

Oddly, a sense of peace settled over me as if I knew God was going to be with me. I won’t say I was totally calm the entire time. I did wonder if I was going to die, but the nurses were very reassuring and my stats were doing well.

I started out my stay in the hospital in a private room but was later moved to a room with a roommate when they needed the room for a male patient.

I detailed a lot of this last year in a post I shared shortly after I was released from the hospital, but during my stay I found myself listening to worship music and praying not only for myself but for the woman next to me who was in much worse shape. There was more than once I thought the woman wouldn’t make it. At one point I stood and walked to her bed, laid my hand on her shoulder and prayed for her while she fitfully slept, fever and exhaustion overwhelming her.

The nurses and respiratory therapists had been trying to encourage her to use a cpap and had also been increasing her oxygen while decreasing mine.

When I laid my hand on her and prayed, the numbers on the monitor began to rise. Her oxygen level had been in the 60s at one point ,then the 80s and as I prayed it rose to 98 and the woman was able to rest some.

The night I was preparing to leave I was being given my last dose of antiviral when my blood pressure rose. The nurse in charge didn’t want to let me go home, which was a devastating thought to me. I knew that I needed to be home with my family to heal. I began to panic, which, of course, wasn’t helping my blood pressure.

I silently asked God why he was doing this to me. Why was he having this happen when my blood pressure had been doing so well while I was in the hospital?

My roommate was sitting on the edge of her bed behind the curtain, breathing hard, waiting for a nurse to come and help her to use the portable toilet next to her bed.

I felt like I needed to pray for her, tall her how she could talk to Jesus any time she needed to. I felt weird even thinking about it. I am not a bold Christian. I am not someone who walks up to someone and asks them if they know God. I had already prayed with the woman a couple of times and she had told me she appreciated it. This time I prayed over her and told her how she could talk to Jesus and ask him into her life while we waited to see if my blood pressure would come down.

It didn’t come down but the nurse finally agreed to let me go home if I would monitor it at home, call my primary care doctor the following day and return if it continued to rise. I agreed to all of this and was sent home.

Relying on Jesus to be with me when no one else could was what got me through those five days and it was what got me through the next two months while I recovered.

This Thanksgiving I couldn’t stop a giddy feeling bubbling up inside me as I remembered where I was last year. Before dinner I hugged my son several times, telling him how happy I was to be here with him, with the whole family.

I wished I could explain to them what it feels like to be handed your life back when you think you’re going to lose it. I wish I could explain it better even now. I wish I could convey to anyone who reads this what it is like to be dragged to the bottom of an ocean and just when you think you can’t hold on another moment you’re dragged up to the surface, bursting from the water, taking a deep breath and feeling the sun warm against your skin again.

I wish I could capture in a bottle that feeling of thinking you’re life will never be the same and then realizing that it never being the same isn’t actually a bad thing because it’s going to be even better now that you have been shown what it means to live again.

For the last year I have had many moments of fear. I have had many moments of questioning if I will catch Covid again and if my lungs were damaged or if my oxygen will drop again. I have questioned what is wrong with my health or what my future will mean. Each time the fear hits me, though, I try my best to remember the peace I felt those five days in the hospital. I remember a voice I’ve heard more than once saying, “I saved you then, I’ll do it again.

 I can’t stop the feeling that I’ve been given a gift, that God yanked me from my comfort on Thanksgiving Day of 2021, tossed me into one my biggest nightmares, held me close while there, then ushered me home and whispered, “Never forget how I was there for you in the hospital. It’s exactly how I am there for you now.”

Thanksgiving Day is to remember what we are thankful for. How fitting that God gave me an experience that will never let a Thanksgiving go by without me remembering one of the biggest reasons I have to be thankful.

Sunday Bookends: Snow returns, Charles Bronson movies and fathers in my reading

It’s time for our Sunday morning chat. On Sundays I ramble about what’s been going on, what I and the rest of the family have been reading and watching, what I’ve been writing, and some weeks I share what I am listening to.

What I/we’ve been Reading

I have started my annual reading for Shepherd’s Abiding by Jan Karon. I love this sweet story about Father Timothy Kavanaugh who finds a nativity set that he wants to repaint and fix up for his beloved wife Cynthia. Sigh. It’s just such a sweet story.

(If you haven’t read Mitford before, Father Tim is Episcopalian so he is allowed to marry. *wink*)

I am also continuing with the Father Brown Collection by G.K. Chesteron, which is a collection of short stories. I’m a mood reader so I read a story and then switch to a different book for a bit.

I’ve also started Love and A Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray and am enjoying it so far. It’s about a woman who has taken a job at a church but doesn’t feel she belongs there. It is the first book in a three book series.

At night I have been reading Paddington Races Ahead with Little Miss.

I am also reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain off and on during the week with The Boy, who is reading it for school.

The Husband is reading…. Oops. I forgot to ask before I scheduled this and he’s already asleep.

What’s Been Occurring

I rambled about what has been occurring on a post from Friday and not much more has happened since then. In that post, I shared that we had our first official snowfall earlier in the week, only a couple of days after it was in the low 70s. Last night we had more snow, but only about an inch and a half.

This week we are looking forward to celebrating The Husband’s birthday by attending a festival of lights display about 45 minutes from us and then a quiet Thanksgiving with my parents. We are also looking to five days off from school since the kids seemed to be burned out on lessons. Yes, already burned out. This early in the school year.  

What We watched/are Watching

The Husband and I watched two Charles Bronson films this week: Mr. Majestyk and Red Sun. They were both very good. Red Sun featured a bit of female nudity that we weren’t expecting and Mr. Majestyk featured swearing that was tame compared to the movies of today but still swearing. That’s just a disclaimer for anyone who is sensitive to those aspects of movies.

I also watched two Hallmark Christmas movies. Sign, Sealed, Delivered for Christmas made me cry and Trading Christmas made me smile. I own Trading Christmas because it is just a light movie I enjoy watching. Both are on Amazon.

I also watched The Christmas Carol Goes Wrong for the ‘Tis The Season Cinema feature with Erin from Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs.

This week Erin and I will be watching White Christmas and posting our impression of it on Saturday. Please feel free to join us and post your impressions as well.

What I’m Writing

I’ve started writing a new book while I am editing Shores of Mercy, but I am not ready to share it yet and not sure I will share it on the blog or not this time. It’s going to be different than my previous books, in some ways, and it is not part of The Spencer Valley Chronicles, or any series. I can tell you that the main character is male, over the age of 50, and it will be one point of view, third person. I’ll keep all of you updated.

This week on the blog I shared:

A Chat and a Cup of Tea or Something Warm

‘Tis The Season Cinema: A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong

Special Fiction … Wednesday? Mercy’s Shore Final Chapters

Educationally Speaking: Fall Homeschool Update

What I’m Listening To

While I am watching Christmas movies early, I haven’t yet started Christmas music and won’t do that until December, most likely. When I do it will be the Michaels – Smith and Buble.

I found a Youtube video of worship music being played on a guitar that I’ve been listening to while I write.

Now it’s your turn

Now it’s your turn. What have you been doing, watching, reading, listening to or writing? Let me know in the comments.

A Chat and a Cup of Tea or Something Warm

Welcome to another chat and a cup of tea blog post. What can I pour you? A cup of coffee? Tea? Cocoa?

I’m having tea with honey today. Well, a little bit of honey because I am actually almost out of honey, but at least the tea is warm.

I thought I would share this post today because I finished up the serial story I usually share for Fiction Friday.

(Full Disclosure: Again, I will mention I fully stole this blog post idea from Erin at Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs and I am not ashamed to admit it.)

Would you like a snack with your beverage?

How about cookies? Oh. I don’t have any in the house.

I have crackers. That’s about it right now, but I’ll be sure to have cookies or better snacks next time.

Do you have snacks with your tea?

I don’t normally myself.

So last night I watched Signed, Sealed, Delivered For Christmas and sobbed through half of it. I guess it’s what I needed this week to remember all I have and all I could have lost last year. I watched it on my laptop while my daughter watched something else on the main TV and the boys did their own things. A couple of times The Boy and The Husband walked by and looked at me curiously. The Boy actually stopped and hugged me and then showed me a funny meme because he figured I needed cheering up. I wasn’t depressed, though, just touched by the movie.

I watched it on Peacock, but I believe you can also watch it on Amazon through their Hallmark channel.

 I felt like I needed happy things yesterday after becoming very down about the state of our word, and the sort of odd night I had Wednesday.

The odd night turned out okay, but it was a little draining, so I welcomed the mental break Thursday evening.

Now the story behind the odd night because I know you want to know (ha).

I take my daughter to Awana on Wednesday nights. We were running late because I dropped off food for my parents and four quarters for The Husband (who was at a meeting) to pump up his tire that was soft. I took Little Miss into the church and shut off the van and it started making weird noises – like an animal was running inside and thumping around. I turned it off and on a few times, and kept hearing it but couldn’t figure it out.

I decided it must be an animal inside the engine and pulled out my laptop to do some editing. That’s when my phone dinged and I looked down to see a message from The Husband telling me he’d blown a tire on the way home and was at my parents.

I joked with him to not breathe while there because my dad had had a cold. I immediately forgot I told him that because my mind was on the weird sounds in the car and how we were going to pay for the tire. So then I was thrown into a complete panic when I got this text from him:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 “Lisa, I can’t not breathe” but I was so distracted I read “Lisa, I can’t breathe.”

He had some chest discomfort last week from reflux and for a few seconds I really started thinking he couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t call him because there is no service at the church, only WiFi. I told him to call an ambulance, but he wrote back, “Lisa, I’m at your parents. I’m fine.”

All I could think is that he wasn’t fine because he just told me he couldn’t breathe.

I’m freaking out at this point – thinking I am going to be a widow, but also trying to figure out how he’s texting so well if he can’t breathe.

After I urge him to call an ambulance again, he texts back “Lisa! Read what I wrote again.”
I scroll back and read: “Lisa, I can’t NOT breathe. I’m at your parents. I’m fine.”

I started laughing and crying because at that point because I was so relieved and felt so stupid at the same time. I was also wondering if I breathed in some fumes or something that made me that even more airheaded than normal.

I was still worried about the van so I moved it to an area of the parking lot where there was more light. I then went into the church and collected Little Miss a little early so we can go pick up The Husband at my parents.

I came back out and the van wouldn’t start. No kidding, In the past I would have probably started crying but I guess the small amount of CBD oil I have started taking each day had kicked in because I felt like laughing instead. Here we were with both of our cars out of commission in one night. It was a bit surreal and odd and sort of like a sitcom.

Long story short, a guy at the church looked under the hood and said he thought it might be the fuel pump.

In the end the van was actually out of coolant, but I was able to start it at the church and make it to my dad’s where he filled it up and sent us on our way.

The Husband will get a new tire today and hopefully we will have a break from car problems for a while.

The day before the weird car stuff, I received a package from Bettie G., a lovely lady and writer I met here in the blog world. She’s retired from blogging, but still has wonderful posts on the blog, which she has kept up. She’s also written a wonderful devotional type book called Abiding In Him: A Life Together in Ministry, which is the story of her and her husband devoting their lives various Christian ministries.

You can learn more about the book HERE and purchase copies HERE.

It will be something I can read this weekend while we stay inside, away from the cold weather. We aren’t getting the snow that cities north of us our getting, thankfully. We aren’t supposed to get any snow again until next week and I am fine with that.

We literally went from temperatures in the low 70s to temps in the 20s and 30s within two days. Blah!

A couple of inches of snow fell earlier in the week and in the first thirty seconds of stepping into it, Little Miss picked up some snow, packed it into a snowball and hit me in the face with it.

Yeah. I’m so excited for four more months of this.

The cats, who normally spend most of their time outside, have been only going out for short jaunts and then running inside, taking turns laying on my chest. They both have horrible timing and try to snuggle when I need to be doing something, like finishing dinner. This morning, the youngest came into the bedroom and fell asleep on my legs for two hours.    

The whole time I kept thinking, “I should move,” but then I would think, “But she doesn’t get to cuddle with me often and this is sort of nice.” In the end I just laid there while I pulled some old blog posts together that I plan to edit and share again later, posted and commented on Instagram, finished a chapter of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and complained to my husband via text that I couldn’t feel my legs anymore.

It has taken me forever to finish this blog post because I have been interrupted by various children, pets, and thoughts (plus I had to warm my tea a couple of times), but that’s how life goes, isn’t it? We often seem to get interrupted.

I had to order heating oil this morning – that was another distraction, sadly. It’s $4.89 a gallon right now and we needed to fill our tank so that should be a fun bill.

Despite the financial worries and worrying about various family issues, I am looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. We aren’t ready for Christmas yet, of course, but we are having fun getting ready to celebrate it by buying decorations and watching Christmas movies.

How about you? Are you getting into the Christmas spirit yet?

What has been going on in your world?

‘Tis The Season Cinema: A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong

Shortly after we moved to our current house, my son and I were looking for a show to watch late at night and found a show called The Goes Wrong Show on BritBox. We clicked on it and were, quite frankly, bewildered by it.

It was a group of about seven people acting out a play and completely messing up lines, tripping off props, and being all-out insanely weird.

We weren’t sure if these people were really messing up their plays or if they were pretending to mess up a play, or  . . .what was going on.

We watched the first episode and laughed so hard that our sides hurt. Obviously, we eventually caught on that the whole show was meant to be a joke and that the actors were real actors playing fake actors on a show about actors.

Later we watched the episodes with The Husband and he laughed so hard I thought he was going to burst a blood vessel.

We watched the whole season and I have to say the Christmas episode was my favorite that first season. Flash forward to last year and we discovered this group — which we had since found out was called Mischief Theatre — had been featured in a special called A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong on the BBC.

Moving us up in the timeline to a couple of weeks ago and we arrive at the moment I suggested to Erin at Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs that we include A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong in our list of Christmas movies to watch for our ‘Tis The Season Cinema.  Comedy is featuring heavily on our movie watching list over the next couple of months because Erin and I both need heartwarming and funny in our lives right now.

With A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong we are getting more than just funny but also pure ridiculousness.

For a little background on the actor troupe who takes part in this Christmas special, according to Wikipedia, “Mischief Theatre is a British theatre company founded in 2008 by a group of students from The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in West London, and directed by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer, and Henry Shields. The group originally began by doing improvised comedy shows, but by 2012 they expanded into comedic theatrical performances that include choreographed routines, jokes, and stunts.

The company is best known for its performances as the fictional theatre company, The Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, who attempt several amateur performances that comedically go wrong.”

If you look up Mischief Theatre online, as I did after we became hooked on their television show, you’ll see that the cast are very accomplished stage actors, some of them having won Olivier’s and other prestigious writing and acting awards. Most of their work, incidentally, is performed live and is often improv as they interact with the audience during their performances.

On the surface, the entire performance of any of their shows seems simple and fairly stupid but when you think about the talent needed to recite the lines of the original play they are putting on (in this case A Christmas Carol) while also having to pretend to mess up their lines and other aspects of the play, you realize what talent these actors actually have.

The fact they only have seven cast members playing all the parts and remembering all the lines and where the various pratfalls need to happen make it even more amazing. Then there is the focus they need to keep acting, even with the chaos going on around them.

There are also storylines going on between cast members behind the scenes that carry on throughout the various episodes and specials.

In this particular special, the comedy group has taken over the BBC’s production of A Christmas Carol by kidnapping and dragging out the main stars, including Derek Jacobi, a famous British actor.  Actress Diana Rigg plays the narrator part of the time but literally has to “phone it in” because she is stuck in traffic.

Things, of course, go completely haywire and become even crazier when one of the actors believes he should be the lead actor and tries to knock out the director (Chris) to take over the lead as Scrooge. While trying to take out Chris, though, he injures other cast members or ends up destroying various sets.

Another pair of cast members are in a romantic relationship and things may, or may not, be on the rocks throughout the entire night, making the show even more entertaining. There is also a cast member who can’t remember any of his lines for most of the shows and in this one they think of a creative way to help him with that issue.

You can watch A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong in its entirety for free on YouTube:

Don’t blame me if you end up looking up their show and their production of Peter Pan Goes Wrong.

You can read up on Erin’s impression of this silly show on her blog.

Up next for our Christmas special features (the dates are when we are sharing our specials):

Nov. 24: White Christmas

Dec. 1: Muppets Christmas Carol

Dec. 8: Holiday Inn                                                                           

Dec. 15: It’s A Wonderful Life

Dec. 22: Charlie Brown Christmas and Emmett Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas

Special Fiction … Wednesday? Mercy’s Shore Final Chapters

Umm…whoops! I completely forgot I had promised to post the final chapters of the book Sunday night so here they are now.

As always, this is a continuing/serial story. I share a chapter a week and at the end of the story, after I edit and rewrite it, I self-publish it. To catch up with the story click HERE. To read the rest of the books in this series click HERE.

If you would prefer to read the book when it is all complete, you can pre-order a copy HERE on Amazon. It releases on January 31, 2023. There is also a link to the previous chapters HERE.

Chapter 36

Judi snatched the phone off her bedside table. So much for sleeping in this Saturday.

The caller ID said Evan, though, so she didn’t mind losing a couple hours of sleep.

“Hey, you.”

“Hey, you,” she said back, a broad smile tugging at her mouth at the sound of excitement in his voice.

“I’m back in town for a week, maybe more. I was wondering if you’d like to meet me out at the Tanner’s new pumpkin farm today. Maybe around noon?”

She rolled on her stomach, propping herself on her elbows. “That sounds very nice. I wasn’t sure you’d want to be around me again.”

Evan laughed. “You got all those flowers I sent, right? Of course I still want to be around you. I thought maybe I could buy you a donut and a cup of apple cider. Plus, it’d be somewhere  — um —neutral.”

She agreed to meet him at noon and spent the next two hours looking for the perfect autumn outfit. She spent another half an hour looking at herself in the mirror, adjusting her makeup, brushing her hair, then wiping some of the makeup off. Letting out a huff of breath she blew her bangs out of her eyes and shook her head in resignation.

“Don’t overthink it, Lambert. Just go.”

But she did overthink it. All the way to the pumpkin farm and in the parking lot, looking at herself in the rearview mirror. When a face appeared at her window out of the corner of her eye she screamed, then burst into laughter as she watched Evan lean back and laugh loudly.

“You jerk.” She laughed as she climbed out of the car and gently slapped his upper arm with the back of her hand.

“Sorry. That was just too funny.” His smile made her heart lurch. “You look beautiful, by the way. You don’t have to keep fixing your hair.”

Warmth spread up from her chest to her face. “Thank you.”

He tipped his head sideways to the entrance behind the store. “Care for a walk? I think the cider and donuts are back there.”

“Sure. That sounds nice.”

Leaves crunched under their feet as they walked. Judi slid her hands in her sweater pockets, her gaze drifting across a pumpkin field to her left, filled with pumpkins but also children swarming the pumpkins, loading them into carts, or carrying them to their parents. Beyond the pumpkin field were drying stalks of corn and a sign marking the entrance to the maze. Haybales were positioned at various places around the walkway, and she breathed in the scent of the drying hay, remembering her time growing up on the farm. During her teenage years, she avoided barn chores, using any excuse not to help with the milking, or shovel manure, or feed the calves. She was glad her dad had her sister and young men he’d hired to help him in the barn now, but a part of her did miss that time, a much more innocent time.  

“How’s work going?”

The question was one that used to cause her stomach to clench. In the last few weeks, though, she’d helped Ben draw up wills, help close sales for properties, and watched Ben calmly walk a woman through a divorce from an abusive husband.  Working for Ben gave her more of an opportunity to help others than any other job she’d ever had. She felt like she was actually contributing to society instead of floating through it.

“It’s going well, actually. I still don’t really know what I am doing, but Ben’s been patient with me.”

Evan ordered them apple cider and donuts at the small concession stand and motioned toward a wooden bench off to one side. “How are you doing otherwise?” he asked and she noticed he positioned himself a good distance from her as they sat, practically on the other end of the bench.

“I’m doing okay, really.” She sipped her cider. “I’m sure Ellie filled you in on some things.”

He shook his head once. “No. She said it wasn’t her place to and I respect that.”

She sipped more of the apple cider, enjoying the tartness on her tongue as she considered what to say next. “I’m sorry, Evan. I don’t know why I reacted that way. Well, I do, but I shouldn’t have with you.”

He laid an arm across the back of the bench, watching her as if waiting for her to continue. Concern etched his face.

She cleared her throat. “One night a year and a half ago, a little more, a guy tried to get further with me than I wanted. I was able to get away from him but another woman, a girl really, wasn’t as lucky.” Tears pricked at her eyes. “I don’t know why he let me go and not her and maybe other women, but he did.” She laughed softly, a tear slipping down her cheek. “Of course, my knee to his groin probably didn’t do much to make him want to try to keep me there.” She drew the back of a finger across the tear. “I guess I didn’t realize how much it had all affected me. I tried to laugh it off, drink it off, and run away but it seems like it all has been catching up with me lately and hit me full force that night with you.”

He winced and reached a hand toward her, but then pulled it back again, closing his fingers into a fist briefly before letting the hand drop to the back of the bench again. “Judi, I’m sorry. If I had known, I never would have been so forward.”

“You didn’t do anything wrong, Evan. It was me. I tried to move faster than I was ready that night. I wanted to forget everything, and I guess I thought I could erase all the memories of him by being with you. I’m the one that is sorry.” She pulled her lower lip between her teeth briefly. “And embarrassed.”

“There is nothing to be embarrassed about. You couldn’t control that reaction, as much as you wanted to. I understand.” A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. “Well, I don’t totally understand, because I’m not you and didn’t experience what you did, but I can see how that could have triggered some negative memories.”

Judi reached out and laid her hand on his. “I just don’t want you to think that you somehow triggered anything negative. You didn’t do anything wrong.”

Evan kept his arm over the back of the bench and sat the cup of cider on the seat next to him. “What happened to this guy? Did you report him or anything?”

She pushed a strand of hair back from her face and hooked it behind her ear. “No, I never did. He’s going to trial for the other woman he assaulted, though. He’s somehow out on bail and called me a few weeks ago.”

Evan’s eyebrows lifted. “He called you?”

“Yeah and he doesn’t want me to tell anyone what happened, but I’m going to. This girl’s lawyer called me a while ago. Ben and I talked to him yesterday.” She drew in a shaky breath, startled by the emotion gripping her. “I talked to the girl a few days ago. Her experience was so similar to mine, from everything he said to everything he did.” She closed her eyes briefly against the tears. “I knew she wasn’t lying.”

When she opened her eyes, Evan’s jaw had tightened, and he swallowed hard.

 “I’m scared,” she said, her voice dropping to a whisper. “But I’m going to be with her in the courtroom. I don’t want her to feel like it’s her against him. It will be us against him.”

Evan leaned toward her, then leaned back again. “I’ll be there for you if you want me to be. I really want to hold you right now, but I don’t want to touch you unless you want me to. I talked to a therapist friend of mine and she said I shouldn’t try to make the first move in any way. I should let you tell me when it is okay for me to physically be near you.”

A smile pulled at her mouth. “You talked to a therapist about me?”

Crimson colored his cheeks. “Yeah, but I mean, I didn’t tell her your name or anything. I just told her a little bit about the situation and asked how I should handle it because I care about you and — yeah —” He rubbed a hand across the back of his neck. “I just told her I want to pursue a relationship with you, so I want to know how to help you heal from all of this.” He cleared his throat. “That’s why I thought it might be good to meet here where it’s a little more neutral.”

He cared enough to talk to a therapist about how to talk to her? Was this for real?

A small laugh came from her throat. “Evan McGee, I think that you really are as sweet as I’ve heard your brother is.”

He made a face. “Ew. Don’t compare me to Saint Matt. I’m not that good.”

She moved closer to him on the bench, touching a hand to his cheek. “Well, you are very close and that’s not a bad thing.” Leaning closer she lightly touched her mouth to his. “Thank you.”

He grinned, tipping his head closer to hers. “You’re welcome. And listen, we can take this slow and just hang out. We can go out to public places, or have friends over when we watch movies, or —”

She slid her hand to the back of his neck and pulled his head down to hers, pressing her mouth to this.

“Thank you,” she whispered several seconds later, her lips grazing his. “All of that sounds really nice. I’m not used to men being so nice to me so it may take me a bit to get used to it.”

He smiled. “That’s fine by me. I’m a patient man.” He pressed his forehead against hers. “Is it okay if I kiss you again?”

She tilted her face toward his and they resumed their kiss, pulling apart a few minutes later when Judi heard a voice call out behind them.

“Oooh! Judi and Evan sitting on a bench, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.”

Judi glowered at Ben. “Bench doesn’t have the same ring to it, you know.”

Ben laughed. “Yeah, I know, but you’re not in a tree.”

Judi glanced at Angie beside Ben. “How about you two? Any k-i-s-s-i-n-ging between you two?”

Ben held up a hand. “That, ma’am, is privileged information.” He gestured toward a hay wagon to the right being pulled by a tractor being driven by Alex. “Anyone care for a hayride? I’m willing to ride with you two, as long as you can keep your hands off each other.”

Judi scoffed and folded her arms across her chest. “With Alex at the helm. I don’t know if I’d feel safe.”

Alex looked over his shoulder and scowled from under his hat. “I heard that, Lambert. Even over this tractor engine, which just shows everyone what a big mouth you have.”

Judi hooked her arm through Angie’s. “Come on, Angie, let’s go find the pumpkin cannons instead. We can pretend we’re shooting them at Ben and Alex.”

“Hey!” Ben cried. “What did I do?”

Evan laughed. “I don’t know, but I’m glad I wasn’t included in that list.”

Judi fell into step with Angie, glancing over her shoulder at Ben and Evan. “You think you two will be able to work things out?”

Angie smiled. “Yeah, I think so. I hope so anyhow. How about you? Will you be sticking around the area for a while?” She winked. “Maybe hanging out with Evan?”

The light feeling in her step and the way her muscles had lost their tension was a foreign, but welcome feeling to Judi.

“Yeah. I think so. I hope so anyhow.”


“Hey, you still coming to dinner tonight at mom’s?”

Judi paused at her car and looked up at Evan, smiling. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world. I can’t wait to taste her cooking again. I have to do something quick before then, though. Meet you there?”

 “How about I pick you up. Say 5:30?”

“Yeah. I’d like that.”

After years of being fiercely independent, she wasn’t lying when she said she would like to be picked up. She’d also been liking Evan being home more in the last two weeks as he started a job with a local construction company.

She turned the music up as she pulled away from her apartment building, wishing the cold temperatures didn’t preclude her from sliding the window down. Half an hour later she pulled into a parking space and checked her hair and make-up, then laughed at herself. She didn’t need to worry about her hair.

She had a feeling he wouldn’t care.

The sanitary smell and squeak of her soles on the newly mopped floor reminded her of where she was and where she was headed. Her chest tightened. Hospitals weren’t her favorite place, and she wasn’t sure what reaction she’d receive.

She asked for his room number and if visitors were allowed at the nurse’s station.

The shades were open. Sunlight poured across his bed. She took a deep breath and straightened her shoulders, trying to recapture the confidence she’d once possessed. She pulled a chair up to the side of the bed and sat quickly before she changed her mind.

“Hey, Jer. You’re not looking so great.”

Jerry blinked the one eye free of the bandages, grunted through bruised and scarred lips, and lifted one stitched-up hand. Judi was expecting a rude gesture, but instead, his thumb raised slowly. 

He pointed at the notepad on the small table by the bed. She handed it and a pen to him. After a few long minutes of scrawling, hampered by bandages and fingers that didn’t seem to want to bend, he pushed the pad toward her. The letters were shaky and a couple were missing, but she got the drift.

I owe you more than one. Not a beer. A soda. When I get out of here.

A smile pulled her mouth up and she looked up at him. “You definitely do. How about a root beer float down at that new ice cream place on Main? Be warned, though, I might look light a lightweight, but I can pack it away.”

A raspy laugh came from Jerry and to anyone else it might have been unnerving, but to Judi it was one of the best sounds in the world.

Educationally Speaking: Fall Homeschool Update

Homeschool has been trucking along fairly well this year. Our days have been filled with more book learning than hands-on learning for the last couple of weeks.

Little Miss and I are still working with math and reading/English curriculum from The Good and The Beautiful. She’s not fighting me as often as she was last year when I say it is time to do our lessons.

For Science, we are using the space curriculum from Apologia’s Creation series.

We finished our history and are now doing individual unit studies. Last week we finished a book about George Washington Carver which I combined with videos and an art project where we recreated paintings of his. Well, I tried to recreate one, but she sort of did her own thing, which is fine as long as she was enjoying herself.

Next up is a unit on Native Americans and I have ordered a fiction book — Children of the Longhouse by Joseph Bruchac — that I hope will tell a Native American story in a creative way and allow us to talk about real-life events. I looked up a bunch of picture books about Native Americans but our library only had one of them so I’ll either have to buy them or look at larger libraries.

A couple of weeks ago when it was still nice enough outside for Little Miss to jump on the trampoline, we had an assignment in our reading/English book for Little Miss to orally relay to me a story she made up.

One day she spent three straight hours working on the book, using my computer, even with my messed up “s” and “w” keys which sometimes work and sometimes don’t. Since then she’s asked a couple of times to work on her book and wants me to publish it for her at some point, which I hope to do next year.

The Boy is still working with his grandpa a couple of days a week, which is part of his life skills education, in addition to his regular schoolwork.

For his book-based schoolwork, he is reading about Medieval History via The History of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bauer, Biology through Apologia, and classic literature in the form of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which he is actually enjoying. He also has math through CTC Math, which is an online program and grammar through FixIt! Grammar.

We have been trying to secure him a place at a school near us for next year that is similar to a trade school but seem to be being stonewalled because he is homeschooled and not enrolled, even though under state law we are supposed to be able to access those programs as well. The local school district will not return phone calls and it is very frustrating.

Hopefully it will work out.

The Boy is 16 now so we will be starting driving lessons soon, but first we will be studying the manual, which is now online. My husband printed it out for him, but The Boy isn’t in a huge hurry to get his license so we will take our time in that area.

I need to find a field trip for us in the next month or so and I think I’ll look into a couple small museums near us that have Native American artifacts. Winter seems to have started a little earlier with temperatures already in the high 20s or low 30s and our first snowfall coming yesterday, so any field trips will have to be inside at this point.

If you are homeschooling, how is it going for you? If you aren’t, how is school going for you children or grandchildren?