Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chimney Sweeps

I have just had an encounter with a chimney sweep. It was entirely unplanned since my chimney was closed up last year in preparation for some unvented gas logs. I was expecting a man to install the logs that I bought last week and so when he called to say he was on his way I figured all was well. Boy was I wrong!

When I went to the door there stood a chimney sweep in a top hat and a ponytail. Obviously native American, not drug lord type ponytail. I was still assuming he was coming to install the logs so I didn't question his dragging in a vacuum cleaner and various tools, I just had the fleeting thought that I hoped he wouldn't make a big enough mess to need the cleaner.

When he said he was going up on the roof first to check things out I knew we were on two different wave lengths. I explained that the chimney had been closed up last year from both the top and inside the fireplace to correct a water problem, and I had assumed he was here to install the logs since that was what we had discussed when we made the appointment. He got this stunned look on his face and then said he had made a mistake and he had me in his appointment book for a chimney cleaning.

He is coming back tomorrow morning (with the logs) and hopefully they will get put in. It has been very cold lately and windy, and I thought last night that it would have been nice to have a little extra warmth without turning the thermostat up.

The thing that saved him from a temper tantrum was the fact that all the time we were talking he was cuddling Bella and talking baby talk to her. How can you get mad at a man who loves cats!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Count Your Blessings

When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
As sung by Bing Crosby

Last night I was sitting at my computer checking email, with the radio tuned to a local "golden oldies" station when I heard this song. It has been running through my mind ever since, although in my mind's eye it seems to be Rosemary Clooney singing it instead of Bing. (I realize I have just dated myself pretty well for those of you who don't know my age.)

And I started counting my blessings:

Besides the obvious ones, a warm house, plenty of food, clothes for all occasions, etc. I have some more intangible blessings that I sometimes overlook.

My closest parental relationship through life was always with Daddy. I guess part of it was from being the oldest, the only girl, and the fact that I never married so that "home" was always wherever Mother and Daddy were. But after Daddy died, when I started caring for Mother, we became closer than we had ever been, and that made it possible for me to let her go when her time came, with no regrets about what might have been.

Although most of my family is scattered across the country, I have a brother who when he saw a national news story about bad weather in Arkansas called me to check on me.

I have a church "family" that knows my name. Don't ever discount the importance of the fact that non-family members know who you are. If you name something, it is yours. I never realized how many people at my church knew who I was until Mother died. I got cards from people that I could not put faces on without referring to the church photo directory. And now that I am working in the bookstore, I encounter people on a daily basis who know who I am.

And speaking of the bookstore, how many people at my stage of life get the opportunity to try new things--and I have two new challenges. I am managing a retail operation that in its best times paid a fulltime manager and still came out in the black. My goal is to get it back to that stage, although with the changing economic climate, I don't know how successful I will be. I will at least get it cleaned up and inventoried!

And I have the chance to try my hand at editing some fiction, something else new for me. I guess every reader thinks they know how it should be done, and I am getting the opportunity to see if I really do.

So as we begin the holy season of Lent, I am going to follow the calendar supplied with my mite box because it will certainly help anyone count their blessings. See calendar at:

Sunday, February 3, 2008

This and that

I discovered when I got my passport out of the filing cabinet that it expired January 20, 2008. That means I have to have the dreaded passport photo taken. The last time I did that I had to have three different photos, taken at three different places before I got any that I would use. This time, I'll go to place number 3, it was more expensive but they did three poses and let me choose the one I wanted. I need to do this now because with all the horror stories I am hearing about the length of time it takes to get a new passport, I don't want to take any chances.

We have been having fairly typical Arkansas winter weather the past couple of weeks. One day with a high of 73 and then the next day we barely got above freezing. It was cold Thursday, warm Friday and Saturday, it is raining today and supposed to get cold again tonight. I like to lay my clothes for the next day out before I go to bed at night and at least three times lately I have had to redo it the next morning because of the change in the weather.

We having a raging controversy going on here about a U S Department of State employee whose wife is in a permanent vegetative state and he claims that the State Department has not kept promises made about medical care. She had a heart attack and fell down in the street in some underveloped African country. Her brain was deprived of oxygen for quite a while due to the circumstances of the attack. They used a special treatment in South Africa and then again when she got back to Arkansas that supposedly brought her out of the coma, but her insurance would not continue paying for it because they said she was not actually improving.

Anyway to make a long story short, the employee says that he was promised free medical care (to listen to him for life!) when he was hired by the State Dept. What no one (including this man) seems to understand is that the medical program of the State Department covers employees and their dependents overseas, but in the US they have to have health insurance. Also, State Department coverage for things when you come back to the US is for "service connected disabilities" and that does not mean the heart attack you had in Timbucto. It means injuries sustained from a bomb thrown at the embassy, or injuries sustained in an automobile accident when you are on travel orders, or illness from being stationed where some weird disease breaks out.

It drives me crazy the way our culture has decided that "the government" should take care of everything and protect from everything. Whatever happened to personal responsbility!