A Phone Message

I had been out running errands all morning long. As I carried my groceries into the kitchen, I was pondering what I had in the fridge for lunch. Casually I glanced at the answering machine, not expecting to see a flashing light indicating there was a message. But there it was, a pulsing red light. I figured it was my mother, she is usually the only person to call on the house phone.

However, it was not my mother’s voice that echoed through the speaker. It was a man’s voice. One I’d never heard before. It took my brain a moment to react to this surprise. What was that he was saying? He is trying to contact a person, someone I’ve never heard of before. This person has listed my husband and me as a contact? She gave our number? This is a legal matter that needs to be resolved? The words plaintiff and case number swirl around throughout the message.

This whole message unsettles me. First, I have never heard of this woman he named. Second, we have an unlisted home phone number. So how did this stranger get access to that number and why did we get selected to be her contact? I contacted my husband to see if he knew this person. He did not, but he reported that he had a similar message last spring.

I wish I had been home to be able to talk to the person who called, but he did not leave his number. Now when the house phone rings, I wonder is it someone I know or will this be another call looking for an unknown person?

Celebrating Through the Week

Sunday: My husband noticed the combination of colors of the burning bush next to our garage. “This bush looks like Christmas,” he announced. He was right, it did look like Christmas. It’s too bad at Christmas it won’t look like this, so I saved the moment with a photo.

This year the word Christmas brings a smile to my face. My son and his family will be coming home to visit, this will be their first Christmas in Missouri. I can’t wait for Christmas!

A burning bush in October, has all the colors of Christmas.

A burning bush in October, has all the colors of Christmas.

Monday: Library book sale! Need I say more? I spent an hour flipping through the book bins wishing I had more money in my pocket and space on my book shelves. But the fun was not over yet, I was meeting my gal pals for Mexican dinner. Good times and good food helped to brighten their week of parent conferences that would begin on Tuesday.

This line continues around the building and

This line continues around the building and

through the parking lot.

through the parking lot. Isn’t it great so many want books?

Tuesday: I headed south to spend a day with fourth through eighth grade teachers to talk about Common Core State Standards. My headlights caught the first frost on the grass sparkling like a million diamonds. I knew no photo could capture that view. But as I pulled out of my subdivision, the sun was just beginning to emerge. Now that was a view I could snap.


The road south is full of hills (these are the Ozark Mountains) and valleys. I love the way the clouds sit in the valleys.


Wednesday: I headed back south to work with teachers in the elementary building. No spectacular sunrise or fog, but it was a great day of learning.

Thursday: I celebrated the luxury of time. Even though temperatures were cool, I was able to soak up a few warming sun rays on the patio.

Friday: I worked at the library sale. My job was to straighten and organize the tables of books. Of course in the process I found a few “must haves” to add to my bookshelves. I also found a few that I would like to have, but Saturday is half-price day. I tucked them away and prayed that no one would find them in the back of the box.

Saturday: As I was getting into the car (to go to the book sale), my husband said, This car is us. I don’t have a bit of buyer’s remorse.” Those words were music to my ears.

At the sale I discovered two of the three books I tucked away were still there. However, I made up for it as I found a couple more that needed to be mine since they were half-price.

So you can see, there was something to celebrate every day. I wonder what next week will bring?

It Wasn’t Easy

It was time. Time to say farewell to my car. This car served us well. It was the car bought during my last year of teaching, so it was to be a retirement car. Not our usual sort of car, but one bought because it would be fun. It was a  two-door convertible, not the most practical car, but a fun one. After 130,000 + miles, we decided it was time to let the convertible go.

Two years ago, we bought a Scion IQ to run around town, which would let the convertible rest. However, after one trip of forty miles, a problem was discovered. My husband has arthritis in his knee which became inflamed due to the height and depth of the seat. He would be unable to drive this little car. I knew it had to go, we don’t need a car that will cause pain when driving.

So now the search is on. My husband LOVES cars. He can read about cars all day long on the internet. He spends Sundays wandering around car lots peering into cars, studying the posted sticker, hoping the dealer left one open so he can explore the interior. (In our state car lots are closed on Sunday, so you don’t have sales people chasing you down.)

He is the person friends and family turn to when they want to buy a car. He can tell you the pros/cons, price you should pay, options you should consider, reliability of this vehicle, and those thoughts only scratch the surface of what he knows. However, when it comes to purchasing a vehicle for us, he has so many facets to weigh, it becomes a nightmare.

Just to give you a hint these are some of the items that must be considered:

  • Safety, how did the car do in all the insurance crash tests?
  • Reliability, how reliable is this car, does it break down often?
  • Does this car have high ownership satisfaction on surveys?
  • What is the cost of ownership? This takes into consideration cost of insurance, gas, depreciation, repairs, cost of injuries from a crash.

If the car passes those tests, he gets down to personal preferences, such as:

  • Heated seats (for me, hotter is better)
  • Cup holders must be able to hold two 32 ounce drink cups and not rub
  • Will the storage area be tall enough for a rolling crate?
  • Does the storage have hidden out of sight capabilities?
  • It must have a sun roof (bigger is better).
  • Is it comfortable after a few hours?
  • Does it pass the knee test or does his knee begin hurting in a short period of time?
  • Is it fun to drive?

So now he has lots of boxes to tick when he begins the search. He lusts for a German made car, but deep in his heart he knows he can’t buy one. They are too expensive and they are costly to fix. No BMW or Audi or Mercedes for us. We won’t buy a car if there is no dealer in town. So that eliminates Volvo and Mini Cooper.

He has done his research and now he heads out to test drive. This is the only way he can determine if it passes the knee test. Car after car is eliminated due to the knee test. Only a few options remain. What car will it be?

He does all the legwork, so when it is getting close to a decision my input is requested or should I say required?  All along I give feedback as it is needed, but I’m not truly invested in any car search. A car is a car is a car. What matters to me is if he is happy with the decision. He can usually bribe me to look at cars with a promise of a meal out. 🙂

A decision is almost made. A car has moved to the top of the list, but it has a dent in the trunk lid. No dents allowed! However, he will be in St. Louis for a day. Maybe they will have the car. He spends the day looking at various dealers. Now we are weighing between two cars.

He picks me up from school and we begin the three hour ride home. He tells me all of the information he has discovered on his day in the city. We talk, we discuss pros and cons. I know a decision has been made. Now the question is will the dealer in town match the price of the St. Louis dealer?

Saturday my husband heads to the dealer. They match the price, a deal is made. Hallelujah the search is over! It wasn’t easy to find the car that meets our wants. So what did we get?

A Subaru Outback! I know we will have fun with the places it will take us :-)

A Subaru Outback! I know we will have fun with the places it will take us 🙂

Finding Reasons to Celebrate

What can you celebrate? Share your celebrations with the world at Ruth Ayres Writes.

What can you celebrate? Share your celebrations with the world at Ruth Ayres Writes.

Celebrating is about finding joy within each day. Sometimes we don’t think we have reasons to celebrate, but if we look closely, I know a reason to celebrate can be found. So every Saturday, I will take part in sharing a celebration from the week. Thanks Ruth for inspiring writers!

I’ve been sitting at my desk, days on end (it seems) creating plans for working with teachers. I enjoy my view (when I look up from my typing), because I can keep tabs of happenings on our street. Plus I get to watch nature change with the seasons. The maple is slowing turning red. Just the tips of the branches have color, but each day the color seems to slide along the branches, reaching to hug the trunk with its color. I also have holly bushes right outside my window. This week I noticed all the red berries. That made me smile and celebrate. Red berries mean bluebirds will be coming to visit and munch during the winter days. There is nothing more beautiful than their bright blue against the white snow resting on top of the green holly leaves.


I also celebrated the fact that I did not have to drive 170 miles home Friday evening. My neighbor needed to go to St. Louis on Thursday, so my husband was able to hitch a ride with him. He picked me up after my long day at school and drove home. What a blessing to be able to sit back and relax for the ride home!

Airline Fiasco

Remember when it was fun and exciting to get to travel on a plane? Well, those days are long gone. Flying now seems to be such a hassle. First you must arrive several hours before your flight and bid your people farewell since they cannot accompany you to the gate. Then you must wait in lines to pass through several security check points before you get to the gate. Of course my gate is always the last one in the terminal.

Now I have a tale that will make you shake your head.

Last week my brother-in-law, Tom, came to visit. He flew into St. Louis so he could spend a few days at his father’s, then they came to my home. He planned to leave from the Branson airport. These plans were made in July.

Monday he looked at his paperwork for his ticket and discovered he did not have a flight home. Oops! He had made an error back in July and just now discovered it. Immediately he called the airline but after waiting on hold for thirty minutes they could not help him. As they transferred him, the call was disconnected.

Next step was to book a flight on the ipad. He discovered it would be $60 cheaper to leave on Monday, rather than Tuesday. He entered all the information needed, but it continued to say there was an error. We could not find the error.

We got out my laptop, but discovered that the airline said there were no seats available. We knew this was not true. We checked Orbitz, but the price jumped to $580. Then I checked Travelocity. Yes, they had the flight for $240 and seats were available. Breathe a big sigh of relief, he has a ticket and boarding passes.

He was at the airport in plenty of time, it seemed the crisis had been averted. But wait, what was that announcement? “If your boarding pass does not say carry-on, you must report to the desk.” What’s this all about he wondered, as they were beginning to board the plane.

“Sir, you must pay $100 to carry-on your bag since you did not book through the airline. Or you can go back out to the service desk and check your bag for $25.” Tom headed back out to the desk where one person had three phones ringing and ten people  waiting in line to check bags. He stood there for seven minutes and not one person had been helped. He went back through security and returned to the desk. The attendant was rather rude to him when he said he would just pay the fee. “You will have to wait until all the other passengers have boarded before I can process you,” the attendant said. So he was the last person to board the plane.

To make matters worse, there were several crying babies on the flight too. Fortunately, that flight was only an hour.

I could not believe that he had to pay $100 extra to carry his own bag on the plane. That’s ridiculous! I won’t be flying Frontier if I can help it.

Time to Celebrate

What can you celebrate? Share your celebrations with the world at Ruth Ayres Writes.

What can you celebrate? Share your celebrations with the world at Ruth Ayres Writes.

Another day, another challenge to share a bit of my life through writing. This time the focus is to revisit moments of celebration from the past week. I look forward to sharing these moments with you. Today I have three moments of celebration to share.

This past week I’ve been observing teachers in their shared reading block. It has been a joy to watch students tackling some challenging texts with no hesitancy. Their voices strong as they chime in reading with their teacher.

While away from home, I love to try new restaurants. The Blue Duck recently opened so my father-in-law and I went to check it out. It was a lovely late afternoon so we opted for the patio. We had a view of the Missouri River flowing by and marveled how the trees were still so green. He ordered a Merlot, I ordered Trivento Torrentes, a white wine similar to a Pinot Grigio (so the waitress said), but when she reappeared she was carrying two reds. “If you don’t like this we will get you something else,” she said. “I don’t know if the bartender poured the wrong glass or if I put it in wrong.” The next thing I knew, she was bringing another glass of white wine to the table, my original order. A celebration of a free glass of wine was shared.

The red is a Malbec, quite tasty! Really enjoyed the price today. :-)

The red is a Malbec, quite tasty! Really enjoyed the price today. 🙂

The final celebration was meeting up with my best gal pals for coffee this morning. We don’t get to spend a lot of time together, so we treasure the chances we have to get together and savor each other’s company. One pal had just completed a 10K and she got first place in her age group. Truly a reason to celebrate this morning!

Two friends I can count on for any and every thing.

Two friends I can count on for any and every thing.

What have you celebrated this week?

Mentoring Asparagus

Last spring my husband announced that he had bought a box of asparagus to plant in my mini raised herb/tomato bed in our backyard. Sounded like a good idea to me, since we both love asparagus and it is rather pricey in the grocery store.

He read the instructions on the box and went out to plant them. We were excited to see slender shoots of asparagus appear. They were thinner than yarn string. They were not to be harvested. We knew there was a growing period where we would not get any spears to eat. The one thing I did know about growing asparagus was you have to let the spears turn into ferns. Beyond that we are totally clueless on the care and feeding of asparagus.

Yes, I know I can google asparagus and have a mountain of information at my fingertips. I tried that route, but then became overwhelmed with terms and conflicting information. I clicked away from that option, but I had noticed a garden full of asparagus on my biking route. My plan is to watch that garden closely. Each day I ride by I am looking carefully to see if there are any changes with their asparagus ferns.

All summer they continue to grow. My mentor garden is lovely to look at, soft green fronds hang together to make a wall of ferns. My few plants fall over one another, as if they are pushy teenagers trying to get to the front of a line. I don’t know when, let alone if I will ever see enough asparagus to make a meal, but it’s fun trying.

There are two walls of ferns in this garden.

There are two walls of ferns in this garden.

My poor asparagus ferns who must fight for their position with tomato and basil plants.

My poor asparagus ferns who must fight for their position with tomato and basil plants.