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Archive for February, 2014

Feb 27 2014

The Cardinals Arrived

Posted by Mugs @ 8:38 pm in Nature Print This Post Print This Post

In the midst of the big snowstorm two weeks ago, the cardinals arrived at the feeder all at once. I was amazed to see so many male and female cardinals together.

When I dumped seed on the ground, the other birds came as well.


Feb 26 2014

Bread Ends

Posted by Mugs @ 12:21 pm in Family Print This Post Print This Post

As a parent, I did not intentionally set out to spoil my youngest child. I got older and had less energy for the day in/day out, year in/year out effort to guide my children’s behavior to the “acceptable in public” standard.

I could stay on top of it for the first child and the second child, but then the third child arrived to wear me down. The last child had five people telling him what to do, so I backed off a bit.

I made small choices to make his life easier than his siblings lives. His siblings noticed it all and reminded me at every opportunity:

“It’s not fair.”

“You never let me do that.”

“He should have to help.”

“I had to wait until I was older.”

Because I pack lunches for Dale and the kids, we go through several loaves of bread each week.

(My friend Dines has never gotten over the shock of discovering that to make sandwiches for everyone in the Manry Clan, we nearly use an entire loaf of bread.)

Several times a week, a “bread end decision” must be made.

Growing up, both my parents claimed a great love of bread ends. If my mother is anywhere in the vicinity, she will always offer to take the bread end.

Because I make Dale’s lunch the night before. I have to be close to the end, for him to get stuck with a bread end or two. Josiah was the most likely bread end victim because he never complained. (Cody complained, however, whenever he decided to eat half of Josiah’s sandwich.)

Abby never lets a bread end stuck on her sandwich go unremarked, even when I put the soft side out to trick her.

(Putting the soft side out never works.)

Since Josiah is off at college, Gabe is now the most likely bread end victim. He grumbles now and then, but grumbling is part of his daily routine, so it’s easy to overlook.

Zeke loves bread, and I had never given him bread ends. Years ago, Mom made him cinnamon sugar toast for breakfast and he was immediately won over. Most mornings, he requests cinnamon sugar toast.

(I do realize this is not exactly a healthy breakfast. He does eat some fruit in an attempt to balance it out. The Manry Clan is not exactly known as a “for the health” family.)

On Monday morning, I miscalculated and made all the lunches before Zeke woke up. I was expecting him to eat cereal or a leftover waffle.  Instead, he decided to eat cinnamon sugar toast. There was one slice of bread and one bread end left in the bag.

Zeke sat down at the table, saw the cinnamon sugar toast on his plate, flipped one piece over and stared for a long time at the bread end.

Slowly, he turned towards me with a look of shock on his face.

Feb 24 2014

The Silence of Solitude

Posted by Mugs @ 12:08 pm in Nature,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

My walk through Longwood Gardens at the start of February was a solo exploit. I had dropped Abby off for her weekend of fun and had left Dale home with Gabe and Zeke. Dale and the boys were supposed to survive on corn dogs, but Dale was disgruntled that he was stuck at home while I was staying, yet again, at a fancy hotel. He took Gabe and Zeke out to 5 guys and the barbecue joint.

During my get-a-way, I found myself alone. This was jarringly odd for me. I grew up in a large family, and 3 months after I left home for Army life, I met Dale. I’m almost always with someone: family, friend, or pet.

It was strange to walk past all the friends, couples, and families and not be a part of a group. As I watched their interactions, I recalled similar scenes from my life.

I noticed a grandpa lift his grandbaby up and down to kiss the baby’s cheek repeatedly.

I observed a toddler brother and sister playing hide and seek under the chairs. Immediately after the sister climbed under her chair, the brother crouched down and said, “I found you.”

“No. You have to look around first, before you can find me,” she replied.

I saw a baby with a pacifier in his mouth and listened to his disgruntled noises to let his Mom know how unhappy he was with the situation.

I moved out of the way as three little kids raced up and down the steps of the tree house chanting “Nana Nana Boo Boo” at one another.

I watched a boy walk along the edge of the nicely shoveled path and step his left foot on the path and his right foot in the snowbank over and over and over again.

I witnessed the delight on a toddler’s face as she ran her hands through the kids play fountains and soaked her shirt through.

I heard laughter, terse words, exclamations of joy, and exhausted cries in many languages. Yet, I was able to walk away from it all and find places of quiet.

Dale and I lead a Bible study for 20 -30 year old singles twice a month. A few months ago, they discussed how overwhelming loneliness can be, and I realized I had no point of reference for loneliness.

Even when Dale was gone for the years in Korea and Iraq, I had children and family and friends and the church.

I’m accustomed to the noise of groups. Although I enjoyed my quiet weekend away, I was perplexed by the silence of solitude.

Feb 20 2014

Sliding Off Into the Ditch

Posted by Mugs @ 8:42 am in Family Print This Post Print This Post

At first glance, we thought Abby’s slide into the ditch while driving the car was no big deal. The car still drove and the damage appeared minimal.

Just to be safe, we brought the car to the dealer to have it checked out. They repaired minor damage to the tire, and offered to drive it down to the collision shop for a once over. It arrived at the shop on Friday

“They give free estimates,” they said.

Thus began my own slide off into the ditch.

I drove over to the shop on Tuesday.

“Could you please assess the cost of repairs?” I asked. “If it’s close to the deductible, I’ll just pay it myself,” I said.

“Well, I don’t have a lift available right now. I took a quick look and I think you should contact your insurance company,” he said.

I contacted the insurance company and was told that although an SUV tried to run my daughter off the road. Her evasive tactics of moving over, hitting a patch of ice, and sliding into the ditch made her ‘at fault.’

I gave the insurance information to the repair shop guy.

I called on Friday, expecting the car to be fixed.

“I gave an initial estimate to the insurance company with what I could see when we put it up on the lift. There might be more damage when we take the bumper off. Your insurance company held me up. It took them 3 days to get back to me. I’m on top of it now,” he said.

I drove again to the shop the following Tuesday. The car was now up on a lift.

“Here you can see the damage. The parts are in. We’ll get it fixed. If your insurance hadn’t held me up, we’d be farther along. I’ve told the shop foreman this car is a priority,” he said.

I called later that week asking about the status of repairs.

“Well now that we’ve got the bumper off, we can see there’s more damage. I got to order more parts. I sent the insurance an additional estimate. We’ll have to wait for the new parts before the work can start. The new parts have to go in first,” he said.

I called in the next week.

“Got the parts, but with the weather and the snowstorm coming in, don’t know if we can get the work done this week,” he said.

(Meanwhile, the school sent us an email stating that Abby would be charged $20 for each day she rode the bus while the car was in the shop.)

I called Friday after the storm.

“Yeah, we were working on it, but we needed a small gasket for the water pump. No one local has it in stock. I ordered it, but until we get that, we can’t put the car back together,” he said.

I called the following Monday afternoon.

“The part just came in. We’ll put it back together and get it to alignment late this afternoon or first thing tomorrow,” he said.

I called at noon on Tuesday.

“Yeah, it’s at the alignment shop. Hopefully, it will be done in the next couple hours,” he said.

I wish I could say that whenever I experience inept, inefficient, and unhelpful service, I keep my temper in check.

“Does the next couple hours mean by 3:30pm? Because I will be there to pick up my car at 3:30pm. If it is not done, I will sit in your lobby until you give me my car back,” I replied and hung up.

45 minutes later, he called back. “The car’s all ready to go,” he said.

I went back to the shop, three weeks from my first visit, and paid the exorbitant price for repairs (the insurance had sent me the money directly).

Abby drove the car away. She had two piano lessons to teach that night. When she returned home, she said. “The left blinker clicks really quickly when I put it on.”

Dale looked under the hood of the car to discover the wires which operate the left turn signal and headlamp had never been reconnected. He plugged them in.

I would like to think that my slide off into the ditch is over, but in 6 months my insurance company will “reassess my rates.”




Feb 19 2014

Unemployed, Not Looking for Work

Posted by Mugs @ 11:57 am in Family,Work Print This Post Print This Post

I went to the doctor for an annual physical and the tech took down my information.

“Are you employed?” She asked.

“No,” I replied.

“Are you retired?” She asked.

“No,” I replied.

“Are you looking for work?” She asked.

“No,” I replied.

“Unemployed, not looking for work,” she stated.

“Did you just call me a bum?” I thought.

It’s true. I’m not looking for work. Yet, somehow work manages to find me.