Monday, May 30, 2016

A Classic "Awfulizing" Event

The term "awfulizing" was introduced to me by
my cousin Sarah.
I feel that you will find it most useful if you are
 anything like me (and Sarah.)


"Awfulizing" probably needs no explanation, but
I shall go ahead and explain anyway.
It involves mentally making the worst out of any
situation in which one finds one's self.
I found myself with a grand opportunity to
awfulize last Saturday night.


As usual, I was headed to bed a leetle late.
I walked into my closet and...uh oh!
The carpet was wet right down the middle.
I mean really wet.
I consider myself quite good (I rarely am) at
figuring out what the problem is.
But this one had me totally stumped.
It was too late to call anyone, so the
only thing left to do was go to bed and...
you guessed it...awfulize.


Here I go...
The first and worst scenario was a slab leak.
That happened in the kitchen a few years ago,
and it was truly AWFUL.
Yes, jackhammering up the floor in the closet
where my best clothes are.
All that awful concrete dust.
Would I just cover the clothes, or would I have to
take them all out?
Where would I put them?
And cousin Sarah is due here Thursday to
see "Dolly!"
Ohhh!  The mess would be worse than awful.


At some point I attempted to go to bed.
Five minutes later I remembered that I had
glanced up at the ceiling of the closet
and noticed a long water stain.
Had it been there before?
I didn't remember ever seeing it.
So I got up and went upstairs to make sure
the water heater pan was not overflowing.
Nary a drop in it.
How could water get from the upstairs to
the middle of the downstairs closet anyway?
I went back to bed.  But not to sleep.


Back in bed I wondered:
Would the ceiling in the closet collapse, 
(water from above) 
or
would I wake up and step out of bed
into ankle deep water in the whole house
(water from below)
in the morning?


Back in bed again--this time I think:
I am such a dummy!
I just need to turn the water off!
 I could get by without water tonight.
Only problem--I DON'T KNOW HOW!


After having thought of every possible bad scenario,
I somehow, some way drifted off to sleep.
 I awoke to an intact ceiling, and I
stepped out of my bed onto dry ground.
The closet carpet was significantly squishier,
but I was able to get ready for church and go!


As soon as I left church, I called my #1 line of defense:
Rob, my beloved son in law.
Rob has built houses, but I was just sure
(still awfulizing) that since I could not figure
this problem out, he would not be able to either!


Oh me of little faith.
Rob came.  In short order, Rob conquered.
All while I was in Granbury enjoying Hello Dolly!
I still do not understand, but it had something to do
with a drain in the water heater closet upstairs,
but having to do with the air conditioning,
 being stopped up.
I think.
Rob had even found a fan and had it busily
drying the carpet when I got home.
What a relief!!!



All that anguish.  All that wasted sleep.
I am just NEVER going to awfulize like that again!
(I somehow sense that none of you are believing that...
as well you shouldn't!)
























Friday, April 15, 2016

Advice on an Anniversary



Jack's funeral was six years ago today.
It was so perfect.
Everything about it--just perfect.


Terri had prepared the most wonderful slide show.
It featured every aspect of Jack's life.
Dr. Gary Smith, who was Jack's friend as well as
his pastor, spoke the perfect words.
Susan and Rob sang beautifully.
Terri honored Jack with a touching eulogy.
And Jay read "Jack's Psalm."
Psalm 112.
I wouldn't change a thing--about the funeral.


So what would I change?
I would have told him all those things we admired
about him earlier and more often!
I found that Psalm sitting by his bedside
in the last week of his life.
I wish I had found it while he was
still working so hard to provide a comfortable
life for us.
I think he would have been surprised and pleased
that I thought he had influence and honor.
That his good deeds would never be forgotten.
And he would have gotten such a laugh over Rob's
comment about the last verse:
Evil-minded men will be infuriated when they
see all this; they will gnash their teeth in
anger and slink away, their hopes thwarted.
Rob said this could represent their competitors,
suggesting some of the better known ones by name
(just among us!)
Oh, yes.  Jack would have loved that.


Love somebody?
Don't just tell them so.  Tell them why.
Tell them now.  Before it's too late.
Maybe that's out of your comfort zone--or theirs.
Do it anyway.


When darkness overtakes him, light will come
bursting in.
He is kind and merciful--and all goes well
for the generous man who conducts his
business fairly.


The Living Bible Translation 




Thursday, April 7, 2016

My Preacher Story

I should probably call it a "sermon illustration,"
but my favorite pastors readily refer to theirs as titled!
(I think...I hope)

Since I am first and foremost a Christian traveling
through this life in my temporary home,
I often find deeper meanings
 in daily things that happen to me.
For example...today.


If you have read my blog for very long,
you probably know I am really crazy about my
bathtub!!!
It is a Bain Ultra Bubble Tub.
Instead of jacuzzi jets, it has many holes
all the way around for more air circulation.
We got the tub in 2005 when we
remodeled our bathroom.


Today, a mere 11 years later, I found the directions
for operating the features of the tub.
I discovered that I had only been taking
advantage of a minimum range of its capabilities.
The strength of the jets can be turned up
drastically, and they actually heat.
Surprise, surprise!


So how did I apply that to my life? 
Well, I have an instruction book which tells me
how to"operate" my day to day living.
It is called, of course, the Bible.
(A lady I've been in Bible Study Fellowship with
 frequently makes memorable acronyms for us.
 "Bible" is
"Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.")


How often do I plug along with pride,
more or less satisfied
 with what I manage to accomplish on my own?
The Bible is not only full of helpful instructions,
it is full of invaluable promises,
there for the claiming.


So while my bubble tub has been very nice,
for 11 years it could have been so much better
had I just read the directions from the maker.


And while I am secure in the knowledge that I,
Linda Jane Lynn Stovall,
am on the road to heaven, that road could have
been and still can be smoother
and more rewarding if I immerse myself
in God's instruction manual.
That, ironically, was my prayer request
for myself this week in BSF.


"Your words are a flashlight to light the path 
ahead of me, and keep me from stumbling."


Psalm 119:105
The Living Bible



Sunday, April 3, 2016

Get Out Your Bucket List!


I've got an addition you need to make to it!
It's not only in the good ol' US of A, it's
within driving distance of most of you!


Susan had a great idea that she and I needed
to go on a mother/daughter trip.
You know me--I'm always ready to travel!


Except...she suggested Branson, Missouri!
I said, "I don't want to go to Branson."
I've never been (and neither had she), but
I nixed the idea.
Then she told me about Moses, a spectacular
portrayal of the Biblical story.
Okay, I love Moses.
I've stood on ground where Moses stood.
I'm changin' my mind.


Her idea was that we make it a road trip,
since it is just a little over a 7 hour drive.
No flying hassle!
Okay again.  In fact,

"Yay!!!"


Susan called a friend and asked for hotel suggestions.
She suggested Big Cedar Lodge, which is
about 10 miles south of Branson proper.
Well.  I've been a lot of beautiful places--
The Greenbrier in W. Virginia, Mackinaw Island,
Jekyll Island, but...
Big Cedar is the most special of all in many ways.
It is unbelievable to have something so
fabulous tucked away only 7 hours from here.
And I had never heard of it in my long life.


The property is huge.
Finding our way around was daunting at first,
but once we got settled in we were
shuttled from place to place in one of these.



We stayed in The Falls Lodge.
This is the reception area!
 And this is the view from our room balcony!
That's a large lake in the background.
There are all sorts of water activities--
fishing, boating, water skiing, etc.


Our first activity was to take a golf cart ride
around the premises.
I thought this picture was pretty neat!
The waterfall with our shadow!
But here we are for real!
There was a lovely paved trail to travel on.
There are several picturesque covered bridges--
Waterfalls galore--
and a cave to pass through!
 (The sign says "Welcome to Lost Canyon Cave.")



Our first meal was at Devil's Pool Restaurant.
We were seated right by the fireplace!

I went totally crazy and ordered this:
That is heavenly smoked brisket with their special
barbecue sauce,
fancy mac and cheese (which I never allow myself), 
and coleslaw.
I took most of it back to our refrigerator...
where it remained when we left.



We had a mother/daughter package which included
breakfast, a spa treatment each, and the golf cart tour!
Breakfast was a mahvelous huge buffet.
We had massages which were great!


And then there was Moses.
We had no idea what was in store for us!
Here is the Sight and Sound Theatre:



I LOVE THIS!!!!!
I have a similar lion and lamb on my hearth.


Inside...

The study of Moses was my very first in
Bible Study Fellowship back in 2000.
I have especially loved Moses ever since!


The theatre is much larger than it appears here.
Our performance was completely sold out...
so much so that Susan and I didn't get to sit together.
For the first half I was here--center high in balcony,
and she was way down to the left in the third row.
At intermission we switched.
Live animals run down that center aisle you see.
Of course, I LOVED that!


Back at Big Cedar...
another animal.
A Baylor bear!

And beautiful tulips everywhere!




At sunset each night, a bagpiper plays and a
cannon is fired at
The Top of the Rock.
The cannon is just to the right of this beautiful
church, one of the locations where 
weddings may be held.


Here is the spot where we sat and listened,
by the pinion wood fire.

My prize picture!



Susan doesn't usually get quite as excited as I do
(does anyone???),
but she did about this trip.  
This was the perfect time of year to go--
uncrowded, and I imagine the charges increase
in the high season.
But...wouldn't it be beautiful in the fall!
I hope I've made you want to go.
I can't begin to capture the beauty in pictures
or words.

__________________________

But remember...if you click on the pictures,
you can see them larger!



Thursday, March 24, 2016

Frustrated to Tears

On March 6th when I left the 
Norwegian Breakaway,
I left my cherished little black Moleskine notebook.
 I had carefully arranged my treasures in the
space above my bed.
That's my pink Kindle in the center,
my iridescent travel journal on the left, and,
although it can't be seen, my black Moleskine
is on the right.
(If you click on the pic below to enlarge, you can just
see the outline of it.)
Big mistake.


Why did I take it?
Well, because it had my passwords written in it.
Sometimes I need them for the internet on the ship.
But...
it also had stories from days of Jack's illness.
Precious stories not recorded anywhere else.
I was heartsick.


As soon as I realized I had left it, I called Norwegian.
"No, we haven't received any information about it."
My room steward and I had been very cordial, so
I just knew he would turn it in.


Several days later I called Norwegian again.
The girl I talked to sounded strange and asked to
put me on hold.
When she came back she said she had not 
wanted to get my hopes up until she talked 
to her supervisor, but that it had been located
and was en route to the Miami office.
She said her supervisor would call when it arrived.


I subsequently got a voice mail from a man with Norwegian
 who said he was UPS'ing the notebook to me.
He was most concerned, however, that I send him
a check or a money order by return mail
for the amount of the postage!




The doorbell rang this afternoon.
It wasn't UPS, but it was FedEx.
I fought Charleigh-Girl off and went gleefully out
onto the front porch...to sign!


The very young man held my package but said
that it was C.O.D. (!) and that there was
no amount shown to charge me.
He fumbled, he scanned, and he called someone.
Very apologetically he told me that
he was going to have to take my package back!!!
He said he would get in big trouble with
Norwegian if he left it without collecting.


Well the whole world is in trouble with me!
Was it Norwegian's fault for not putting the amount
of the C.O.D.?
Or not trusting me to pay the postage?
Or was it FedEx's fault for letting the package
get all the way to me before discovering 
the mistake?


Ultimately I have to realize that it was
my fault.  I'm the one who left it.
I should have known better 
than to take it in the first place.
I should have noticed when I put it there so neatly
that it couldn't be seen.


And now I have to worry about not being here
tomorrow if it is re-delivered.
I have important appointments 
(hair and nail related).
Goodness knows it won't be left without the money!


**************************

Follow up the very next day...

I called FedEx, and talked to someone very nice and
sympathetic who assured me my package
would be delivered late today.
And here it is:

 That's my room number--10507


I will do no more complaining.
(But it was Norwegian's fault!)
It is a miracle I got this back.
My name was not written in it at all.
There is a timeline of Jack's illness on the
front page.

And I will never, ever take my "little black book"
on another trip!
But I may sleep with it under my pillow tonight.
"Thank you, Lord, for your undeserved favor
to me."








Saturday, March 12, 2016

It Wasn't Perfect--Again

As long as I tell you the good things first,
I don't mind sharing the little problems.
(Jack called them "opportunities.")
My trip was wonderful, but not perfect!


Hiccup #1
I got a great fare in December from AA
 but not a great seat.
I intended to diligently haunt the website to 
seek improvement.  I forgot.
So I was stuck in a middle seat.
When I got to the airport I asked for a window
or aisle, but the only one available was what I shall
lovingly refer to as "the latrine seat."
Yes, it was an aisle seat, but it
backed up to one of the lavs.
Surely the middle couldn't have been that bad.
Oh, yes it could have.

Hiccup #2  
Since this was a special event for me,
I bought close up tickets for my shows.
I didn't wait for "1/2 Price Tickets,"
even though it was right across from my hotel.
I forked over the dough, and
for An American in Paris,
this is who sat down in front of me.

Now I thought the hat would be the problem.
It wasn't.
Actually, neither was the hair--exactly.
She was tall and had such great posture!  See how far
 her shoulders extend above the back of the seat?
Couldn't she have slumped just a little
(or preferably a LOT)?
So help me, I was the only person dodging 
this way and that trying to see!
Now don't you dare tell me she is your cousin Boopsy
or your Aunt Flossie,
(although that is probably what I would do to you.)

Hiccup #3
This ship, the Norwegian Breakaway, was not
a good choice for me.
I wanted a studio (only 3 Norwegian ships have them)
and I loved sailing from New York.
I got those things and great food, but...
it is a mega ship, and one feels it.
Unlike Royal Caribbean's Oasis and Allure
 (both larger)
the Breakaway felt crowded all the time.
Especially the atrium area, where my favorite
event, the Celebrity Dance Off was held.

You're seeing the couple live 
and just the lady on the big screen.
If you ever cruise on a Norwegian ship, look for this!
And go very early to get a seat.

Tendering is required to reach Great Stirrup Cay,
Norwegian's private island.
I usually love tendering.  
Just another adventure for me!
But these were huge tenders which were 
packed with over 300 people.
 This was incredibly s..l..o..w and h..o..t.
And the island was--no surprise--c..r..o..w..d..e..d.
 Then the reception area back onto the ship was too
small to accommodate scanning and checking the bags   
of anywhere near 300 people at a time.
Other ships use smaller tenders and zip them
back and forth efficiently.

Hiccup #4
I was forewarned about this one on Cruise Critic.
I cannot imagine the punishment which was dealt
to the person who designed the theatre seats
for the Breakaway.
There is a limited amount of cushion, behind
which is a board.  Yes, as in a wood slat.
If you sit back in your seat at all, your coccyx
(trying to be couth and not say tail bone)
rests on a piece of wood.
And there are a jillion of these things!
Yeah, I picture the designer weaving straw for
hut roofs in Outer Mongolia...
whilst being forced to sit 
 in one of the Breakaway theatre chairs!


Any trip from which I get home safely is a good trip!
I will still say, 
"I've never met a cruise I didn't like."
Howsomever,
I might not be so impulsive in my choice next time.










Friday, March 11, 2016

Sailing Solo in a Studio

It was a short taxi ride from the Doubletree to Pier 88
in New York City!
Here she is:
The Norwegian Breakaway
Nothing subtle here, but I LOVE it!!!

Got on board quickly and was able to drop my heavy
coat and my carry-on in my room, a studio for one!
Here's a tour I did of my little cabin after I had placed
everything in its spot.


I actually had two of these closets--plenty of space.

That's the shower wall on the right side of the pic.
It is full size and very adequate.

That's my wireless speaker and iPod on the window!
(Later I figured out how to open my blinds!
My room steward didn't even know!)


TV above. I kept up with the election nonsense progress.

I think our studio hallways are beautiful.

The Studio Lounge--only steps from my cabin door.
 Lattes, cappuccinos, etc. at our disposal!

We sailed past the Statue of Liberty,
which never ceases to thrill me.


Then we sailed under the Verrazano Bridge,
which connects Staten Island and Brooklyn.



My first room service:

Day 1 turned out to be most exciting.
I went down to the shopping area just to browse.
Two ladies asked me if I would like to have their two
tickets for the upcoming jewelry giveaway because
they had to leave for massage appointments.
Then I was given 3 more.
You know--the kind that look like this:

All of a sudden I realized it was time for the drawing
and I was still holding both halves of my tickets.
I had to squeeze through the throng of people packed
into the shopping area to get to the place to 
drop in my tickets. 
I can't even estimate how many people and tickets
there were, but A LOT.
This is a mega ship with over 4,000 passengers.
(And I think they were all crowded in there!)

So the girl said she wanted us to "make some noise"
if we had the numbers as she called them.
"Five," lots of noise, same with four and one,
cause we all had them;
then "Zero," and much less noise, then "Zero," again, 
and I kinda went numb,
then "Six."  
I, Linda Jane Lynn Stovall, had WON!!!!!!
I had 541006!
Here's my prize:
It's a tiny tanzanite and tinier diamond.
But the thrill of hearing MY number called--
that was HUGE and PRICELESS!

Some of my favorite things about Norwegian:
The fish on the hall carpet always swim FORWARD!
(Which helps only if you know which way you
need to be going!)

Your room card must be in the slot for the lights
to operate, making it easier to keep up with the card.
(I only lost mine once this trip!)

Ahhh.  The Mandara Spa.
Right down this hall!

 Beats you to a pulp!
The salt room.
Heated tile recliners.
H.e.a.v.e.n.l.y.


I guess you might be wondering about ports!
Yes, we did stop at 3, but I only got off at one.
It was Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island.



 My prize picture of the Breakaway from 
Great Stirrup Cay was the best thing about the port,
 along with...
meeting Charlie while waiting for the tender.
As our third friend Debbie took this picture,
she said I should start making up my story then!
Charlie was on spring break, lived in Philadelphia,
and works with the Wounded Warrior Project.

I'm out with my selfie stick trying to get me and
the Atlantis Hotel in Nassau.
It didn't look near that far away on my phone!


If you've hung in there with me,
THANK YOU!
I was not kidding when I said that traveling
alone would not be near as much fun
without friends who would look at my pictures!



If I were onboard, I would treat myself to a
latte and a cookie!