The Flawed, The Broken, and The Beautiful /Written by Janice Tindle

I recently found myself inspired by a bit of broken pottery. That pottery made me think about the value we place on inanimate objects. Who knows why a certain object has a special attractiveness to us. We see it, we like it, we want it. And before we buy it, we look for flaws. If we find any, we must then decide whether to turn our heads and walk away or to love it flaws and all. But what is beauty, if not in the eye of the beholder?

I remember once seeing a nature show about the mating rituals of birds. There was a male bird who collected blue objects. He had bits of things, all in blue. He had paper, string, flowers and a shiny piece of broken blue glass all lined up at his ground nest in hopes of attracting a female. It was hilarious to watch him dance around and display his blue objet d’art, paying particular attention to his piece de resistance, the bit of broken blue glass. She was not impressed, but he was unaffected by the rebuff, choosing to wait for the one who loved his blue things as much as he.

Yes, somewhere, in the world of humans, that blue glass broke and was discarded. But does everything that’s broken have to be discarded or rendered less than? There is a Japanese word, kintsukuroi. It means, “to repair with gold,” the art of repairing with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is beautiful for having been broken.” It is loved with the flaw. The flawed is not valueless, it’s priceless. When I learned of this, I began to question how I approached disappointments in life, especially when it comes to beloved broken items like pottery and glass, and more importantly, regarding my life. But first let me tell you about my art.

Many years ago, I found a lamp at a thrift store. It was dirty with a damaged shade, but I saw through the dirt that underneath was a beautiful glass pitcher embossed with gold with a hand blown handle. I bought it , dismantled it, cleaned it, and suddenly I had an extraordinarily beautiful piece that glistened when the sun shone on it! I admired everyday. It was one of my favorite pieces. Well, one day, we had a small kitchen fire in our house and a lot of things were smoked damaged and had to be thrown away, but the glass things could be cleaned, so my pitcher was saved! However, when the restoration company was doing their work, the front door was open with the screen door in and the storm door glass was against the opened door. Suddenly, a gust of wind blew into the house, knocking the storm door glass down taking out the beautiful pitcher! It broke into many pieces. I was heartbroken. However, I just couldn’t bring myself to throw it away! Where would I ever find another one? So I glued it. But it was not the same. The sparkle was gone. So I went to the craft store and bought all the gold craft items that I could find, and set to making it into an art piece, my version of kintsukuroi. I get just as many complements, if not more on it now, as I did before it was broken. It is flawed, yes, but it serves as a reminder that life can still be beautiful in spite of it’s flaws and disappointments. In fact, is not the way in which we deal with life’s blows cause us to become even more beautiful to those around us? The woman, who goes through a mastectomy, the girl on dialysis, the man who survives multiple operations, the widow and the beleaguered caregiver. Are they not more endearing to their loved ones for their courage, determination and indomitable spirit?

I am a traumatic brain injury survivor. I suffer from inner ear damage that makes life difficult. I have vision problems and segmental Dystonia. For many years, I saw my life as broken, and it is, it will never be the same. But, as painful as my reality is, and as great the degree of my loss, I am still able to write. I am not making a living as a writer, but I am published and some people enjoy reading my stories. This is my kintsukuroi, writing in spite of pain and adversity. I see it as a thing of beauty in spite of being flawed.

Also, I think of myself as that little bird with the shiny blue piece of broken glass. He didn’t mind that it was rejected, he loved it because it was blue. It made him happy to look at it, to own it, to display it, hoping that one day, the right one would come along and love it. And if no one does, that’s okay too. He had has little blue art collection to inspire him. Broken can still be beautiful. It’s all how you look at it.

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Why Resale Shopping Is A Better Shopping Choice /Written by Janice Tindle

Someone made a comment about feeling bad about getting a deal at a thrift store. They felt they were taking advantage of someone else’s misfortunes. Perhaps someone died. Downsized. Had to move away or into a nursing home. All true. Those things do happen. But sometimes people just choose to get rid of stuff. They get tired of it. Redecorate or remodel, take in a parent or a child goes off to college. Children grow up, people gain and lose weight. Garage sales have leftovers and some just give up their life as sellers of second hand wares. Whatever the reason, a treasure ends up in your hands. Be happy!

At resale stores you can find items you just can’t get anymore. It is a place to find vintage jewelry, old records, pottery and glass that was once made in the USA. It was made to last and stand the test of time. You appreciate that. You collect it, cherish and treasure it. It makes you happy.

Perhaps you buy there to sell elsewhere. That’s OK too. Because you are selling to someone who also appreciates the things of yesteryear or a good deal. Either way, it is good for the planet. Better to resale something and sell it a dozen times than to make a ton a stuff that won’t last very long and end up in a landfill. Let’s face it, they just don’t make things like they used to anymore. Things are purposely made to wear out so you must throw it out and buy another. This is not good for the planet.

Another reason is you can save a ton on children’s clothes and toys. This way, you have the money for those items that must be new. I grew up on resale. It was great! I was never told something was too expensive or that I couldn’t have it because it was just like one at home. So when we did go to the retail stores, it was special. I learned to care for and treasure my possessions.

Shopping resale also helps those in need like the disabled and disadvantaged if that store employs or sets aside monies for them. So you are also helping your fellow man, which is a good thing.

Of course, if you go into it with the idea of being greedy then, these words are not for you, and you may need to reexamine your life. But that’s a subject for another time.

So be joyful at the resale store and try to buy only what you really have to have and not clutter up your house so that it looks like a junk store. Otherwise, when you pass, some poor slub will have to lug all your junk down to the thrift store! So when you go to the resale shop this weekend, why not do a good clearing out and donate to a charity shop where it will do some good instead of collecting dust in your basement or garage. That being said, I think I will do just that!

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A Token Of Love /Written by Janice Tindle

“I’ll never take it off!”

Mary Elizabeth giggled with delight as he put it on her wrist. It was the most beautiful bracelet she had ever seen. It was so well made, it looked like the real thing. But she knew her beloved James could never afford real pearls and diamonds. Even so, it was for her, a treasure beyond words.

“It will have to do, until I can get you a proper engagement ring.”

But she didn’t respond. She was too transfixed on her gift, as she moved it around her wrist. James was pleased. He had spent all he had on the Jomaz piece. The man at the store had been right. She did indeed love it! But not solely because it was beautiful, but because it came from her James. And anything he would have given her would have been perfect when accompanying the words,

” Darling, I love you. I don’t want any other girl but you. Will you be mine til the end of time?”

The year was 1947. James eventually did purchase an engagement ring and she wore the bracelet on her wedding day. They had five children, four boys and a girl. When the girl, Molly was sixteen, her mother told her,

“When I die, this will belong to you, my darling.”
” I’ll never take it off, Mother!”

And so they lived happily. They celebrated their golden wedding anniversary with their children and their families. In the family portrait Mary Elizabeth was sitting down front next to her beloved James hand in hand , the bracelet on her wrist. When they cut the anniversary cake, she told the photographer to be sure to get a good shot of the bracelet.

As the years went by, they grew older, but their love remained as fresh as it was in their youth. When she turned ninety, Mary Elizabeth passed away. Her beloved James had gone two years earlier. Her children and her grandchildren and her great grandchildren were at her side. With tears in her eyes, Molly unclasped the bracelet and slowly put it on her wrist. She kissed her sweet mother on the cheek and whispered,

” I’ ll never take it off”.

Molly was unmarried at the time her mother died. She wore the bracelet as a symbol of the love between her parents. Perhaps the reason she hadn’t married was that it was hard to find someone as wonderful as her father. He had raised his sons to follow his example and they too had watched the blessed union and learned. They all chose wonderfu women. But Molly was having a harder time finding the right man. Every time a man would show her some interest, the bracelet was there to remind her that true love was worth the wait.

Then one day it happened. Joe entered her life. He was good and kind and had all the qualities her parents would have wanted for a son-in-law. Molly fell in love. Soon they married and just like her parents and her brothers, Molly had found a good mate. But they had only one son, from Joe’s first marriage. So who would wear the bracelet next?

She thought long and hard. There were many nieces and sisters-in-law. Which one was worthy? They all were. However, Molly wanted to give it to her son for his bride when he choose one. So Molly came up with an idea. She would start a new tradition. She went online and found a beautiful vintage bracelet for each one. She invited them all to her house for a luncheon and presented the gifts. They all loved the idea of having their own family tradition to pass down for generations to come.

Molly lived a good life with Joe. They made it to their twenty fifth wedding anniversary. Molly did just as her mother, devoted her life to her family. Then one night Molly passed away in her sleep. Her husband took the bracelet off and handed it to his son, Joe Jr. He too, is slow to marry, waiting for the right one. As a result, the bracelet now lies in a velvet box waiting for that special someone who’ll say;

“I’ll never take it off!”.

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Wray; The West End Eagle /Written by Janice Tindle

She came and left like the wind,
She would circle high, swoop and descend,
In a whirlwind she would appear,
She could be far, yet in an instant, near.

Under sunny skies, she sat on eggs,
Under mist and fog, those were her days,
She never wavered, twenty-eight years,
Now that she’s gone, we give way to tears.

For she was mighty, the Queen, regal,
Our beloved Wray, the Catalina eagle,
She was in a class by herself, world-renowned,
Never could a replacement for her be found.

She had dalliances with three formidable mates,
Steadfast and true, but with unfortunate fates.
They produced and cared for their tiny eaglets,
Never a falter, a life lived without regrets.

Because of Wray, the eagle population grew,
Her courage and bravery, we all knew was true,
Atop Catalina, she soared over boats that would roam,
From this protected island that she called home.

And now she has flown up and away,
Oh! How we wish she were here on this day,
Upon her nest on the West End peak,
Feeding her brood tenderly with her beak.

Those piercing eyes, white head and tail,
That exceptional mother that would not fail,
Her pinions protected, her call was strong,
They fledged on Wray’s Rock, so as to belong.

The skies fill with offspring,from the sea, they fish,
Life goes on in the West End nest, Nature can’t resist,
Somewhere out there beyond the great unknown,
The genes of Wray’s legacy will find a new home.

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Jesus Knows Me Well    by Janice Tindle

In my solitude I pray,
The pain is so crippling, so I lay,
The softness of the sheets touch my skin,
There is an excruciating fire that burns from within.

Jesus knows me well.

To his Father I pray,
So I can make it through this day,
I wait for help to come from the phone,
A doctor, a medicine, as I sit all alone.

Jesus knows me well.

I meditate on his life on earth,
There is nothing to compare with his rebirth,
None of us know what he knows in heaven,
We celebrate him with wine and bread unleavened.

But Jesus knows us well.

He sees the suffering and pain,
He has his Father’s Kingdom to reign,
He has proven his loyalty, down to the end,
He sees his subjects that he will soon mend.

Because Jesus knows.

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“I’ll Be With You In A Minute!” /Written by Janice Tindle

I was sitting on a park bench some years ago, enjoying a nice summer day while taking a break from a hospital visit. I don’t remember why I was there, but there was a lovely park across the street and I decided to take my lunch under the maple trees. The area was filled with hospital employees, so I figured I’d be safe.

All was going fine until a woman dressed in a business suit came and sat down on the opposite side of the bench. She was carrying a rather large tote. She didn’t look homeless, just odd. Odd like even though she was at the opposite end of the bench, it felt like she was right up against me. The bench as facing the hospital and I figured this was a good time to go back, but traffic was rather heavy, it being lunchtime, so I sat there waiting for a chance to make my departure. Then something strange happened. Her phone was apparently ringing, I didn’t hear it ring, but she did. She started muttering and rifling through her tote bag. “Hold on!” “I’m coming!” She said, rather loudly.

Why was this strange? Three reasons. One, it was the eighties, two, the woman produced from her tote a pink princess landline phone and became to talk and three, none of the hospital employees were paying a bit of attention to her. It was surreal. If it had been a cell phone, everything would have seemed quite normal, as her conversation was very animated and intense. She was clearly concerned about someone. However, even in this day and age, what happened next was certainly not normal. As I got up to leave, as any person would at this point, she grabbed my arm, and without looking at me, said, “I’ll be with you in a minute.” Now, I was in her world. How did I get here, and more importantly, how do I get out? I was staring at the hospital across the street. All I had to do was stand up and walk across. I tried again. She grabbed harder! “I SAID, I WILL BE WITH YOU IN A MINUTE!” she was very perturbed and was now telling her “friend”, all about me. This was getting scary. So I watched the traffic for a quick escape. Finally, there it was, a break in the traffic. I bolted across the street like a horse out of the starting gate! I had made it across, no thanks to all the hospital staff, who’s eyes I was trying to catch.

Once inside, I told the security guard about my ordeal. He asked if I wanted to press charges, as he would have to call the police. I said no, I was a bit unnerved, but I had to get back to my business. He said his job was just in the hospital grounds and the city owned the park. In was of no matter, but I found it curious and a bit disturbing that no one in the health care system was at all concerned with the woman in the park talking on the pink princess landline phone.

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The Invisible Wheelchair /Written by Janice Tindle

You’ve seen it going passed by you at a snail’s pace,
You’ve snarled your lip at the humped over state,
You didn’t see her face, for around her, an air of despair,
You never ever acknowledge the invisible wheelchair.

The weight of a thousand doctor visits hang from her bones,
In her blood runs the toxins of pharmaceutical drones,
She walks with a gait that brings aches in her neck and spine,
But she smiles to the cashier and answers, “I’m fine.”

She’ll go back to her home and lay down after your incision,
She sighs for she knows she is held in silent derision,
It is of no matter, there’s not much to be done,
But to carry on with the dawn of each rising sun,

You saw her stand by you, but you just stared at your feet,
As she stretched for the product too far from her reach,
After all, she is able-bodied, she can get it herself,
She should just move more, just reach for the shelf.

Why can’t she just do what we all have to do,
Life isn’t easy, you have your trials too,
It is you that should try harder and stop to consider,
Wheelchairs are worse when the onlookers are bitter.

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Valerie; You’re Gonna Make It After All! /Written by Janice Tindle

Last March, I wrote a piece about America’s sweetheart, Valerie Harper, who had been given a terminal cancer diagnosis. Things looked grim. But not Valerie! She went on an unprecedented whirlwind of interviews and appearances, talking to her beloved public about her medical condition. She shared everything! Her attitude was uber positive and she plunged into a yin and yang approach of work and cancer treatment. Now, she announces she is doing well! So well, in fact, that she continues on with the business of life and show. And it is wonderful! Congratulations Valerie, well done!

If you do your research, you will find people defy the odds everyday. If you are told to go lay down and die, and you listen, you probably will. But if you decide to fight against your disease or at least attack it with the same gusto as you are in the creation of your existence, you’ll at least have some quality of life.

The thing I admire in Valerie is how she approached this situation more like a journey than a destination. She has helped countless individuals change their thinking about, life, living and dying. We, especially at this critical time, need a better way to approach our own healthcare. We have to own it. Embrace it. And above all, advocate for our future.

If Rhoda had gotten cancer in the 70’s, she may have put up a good fight, to be sure, but would she have survived as well as Valerie? For that, we can be grateful for real life and advancements in medical care and in research tools like the internet. It’s true, there were natural formulas that were available then that people still go to today, but would Rhoda had found anything in time? It was literally a race against the clock.

Thankfully, Valerie seems to have found her formula and it’s working! We are thrilled, excited and so pleased that she is sharing herself with us along the way. Even though I do not get the stations that her recent programs have been on, I am sure I can find them online. I would rather be missing her programs than missing the actual woman herself.

She has arrived. Not just for the people who already loved her as Rhoda, but for the nation who applauds her for being Valerie! Yes, she’s become the perfect blend of Rhoda and Mary, and she’s gonna make it after all!

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The Chocolate Squirrel /Written by Janice Tindle

It was a warm, sunny Spring day. Easter had come and gone and the neighbors had all put their trash out for pick up. It was not uncommon for the crows to poke through plastic trash bags and this reason, an ordinance was in effect to put trash out in the morning. However, there was trash out before the scheduled time. So it came as no surprise to me when the crows got into my neighbor’s plastic bag. They pulled out all manner of things, taking what they wanted and leaving the rest. They chose to leave behind one very large chocolate rabbit. Why it was in the trash is a mystery, but it did not escape the notice of one very curious squirrel. As I sat watching from my living room window, I saw the squirrel eyeing the rabbit. First, he poked at it and ran away. Then he was back. Perhaps he wanted to make sure it was dead. It had a yellow ribbon around it’s neck. He went for that first and disappeared. Soon he was back and started to taste the rabbit.

Yowza! What was this sweet delight? He jumped up and down with excitement! The squirrel had discovered the joys of chocolate! Sweet bliss! He had no idea that nuts came chocolate covered, that surely would have blown his little mind! He took another taste of the chocolate. This was too good to be true! Now, I don’t know if he had fallen in love with the chocolate or the rabbit, but he was going to have it at all costs! I watched him try to carry the rabbit off with him! Not only was it twice as big, it was all slippery because it had been laying on the warm asphalt driveway. The squirrel was getting covered in chocolate! But his perseverance was paying off, for he had nearly made it across the street when a car came up the hill. What to do? The squirrel was erect and panicked, leave this treasure, this warm delectable or die with it? He was frozen in indecision! Finally, as if jarred from his hypnotic enticement, he came to his senses and ran to the safety of my yard as the car sped by running over his beloved rabbit leaving only chunks in a brown puddle of dreams. I swear to you that when he saw what the car had done, I actually saw his shoulders drop and his head bow low. He stood motionless for a minute deciding his next move. Then he gingerly made his way out to the street and began to retrieve his mangle mess. Was the dream over? Would it taste the same?It DID!
He began to gather all the pieces to the other side of the road. Unfortunately, more cars came and he was forced to repeat this ordeal several times. All the while getting more covered in chocolate, eating as he went and experiencing the joy we humans know that makes all large troubles small ones! He was now into a full on sugar buzz, jumping and dancing around in some weird kinetic dance, flipping himself up, over and around my neighbor’s split rail fence.

After all the pieces were safely across the street, he made the greedy little choice to try and collect the melted chocolate in the street. But how? There was only one way, EAT! And eat FAST! By this time I felt sure I was going to witness death by chocolate one way or another, but having thoroughly saturated himself, he set off to take the pieces to his home. He was almost comatose by now, and with each trip he took longer and longer to return. He was wobbling and swaying like a sailor out on leave from a year at sea. I don’t know how he did it, but he got all the pieces during that long,warm Spring day. Exhausted, he left behind a chocolate trail from street to post to rail. In one last attempt, he stumbled over to the chocolate puddle in the middle of the street and looked down at it like a he was leaving behind the treasure of the Sierra Madras. He hung his head to sigh with regret, resigning himself that the spoils were no more and turned toward home.

He was just an ordinary gray squirrel living in the suburbs and on this one day he found the mother load. And only I was there to tell the tale.

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Dangle The Carrot /Written by Janice Tindle

You can dangle the carrot all day if you want;the smart bunnies will always find the land with the choicest clover.

I have personally observed this in our own backyard. We have an organic yard, so bunnies in the evening mist are as common as our dandelions. Which they also love. They can become so engrossed in the tasty yard salad, that if you sit very still, you can watch them on into the night. It is peaceful and serene, their little white tails showing up as they hop from morsel to morsel. However, there was one evening, many years ago, that was so extraordinarily that it left my husband and me completely enraptured.

We were sitting at the edge of the property on two park benches facing each other talking and enjoying a perfectly quiet evening, when all of a sudden, out of no where, there was a flurry of fluff and the most unusual twittering, a delightful sound, difficult to explain, but it was undeniable happiness and excitement! Then, before we could even turn our heads, they came dashing around our feet, three bunnies, in mad pursuit! They ran and raced like torrents, completely unconcerned by our presence. What we witnessed was something we would never see again. It was a mating ritual. Two males crying for the affection of a rather well nourished female. They moved with lighting speed from our yard onto the neighbor’s hillside and back again twirling around our feet and zigzagging through the benches making the most amazing tittering sounds as if they were in some drug induced mania! They tussled and frolicked in wild abandoned! They jumped high in the air and twirled around, spinning and twisting their bodies in what I could only describe as pure and utter joy! This went on for an hour or more! My husband and I sat motionless, except to briefly catch each other’s eyes, with a look that said, “This is unbelievable!”

If they knew we were there, either they didn’t care or it was worth the risk. I was hoping for a moment to sneak away so I could go inside and grab the camcorder, but they were in full swing and I didn’t want to spoil it by alerting them. They got so close, we could feel their soft fur running around our ankles. Sometimes, they would stop, just briefly to catch their breath, and off they went again, in a place of sheer and utter bliss!

And then it was over. She chose. And off the two of them went over the hillside side by side, leaving the third bunny in tow.

After it was over, we just sat there, staring at each other, grinning. We knew we had just witnessed one of life’s and nature’s ultimate joys. Bunny love. Profound, intense, and full of merriment! By far, one of my most precious moments anywhere at anytime and my husband and I had shared it together. It’s ours. While the whole world went on, there in a 20×20 area, we had for a brief interlude, arrived in Paradise. I can’t remember a time before or since of any experience as poignantly satisfying as that heightened level of unbridled glee.

To make matters even more wonderful, Mr. & Mrs. Bunny made a home under the arbor my husband had made that year for our 20th wedding anniversary. Upon hearing the story, a widowed neighbor, who was a dear friend, named it, The Love Arbor. And so that is its name and it stands the same. Generations of bunnies have continued to make their home under my husband’s gift to me. Each Spring, it gifts back to us baby bunnies to enjoy. When we see them we smile and recall the day we saw it all begin. The day love came to stay in our field of clover.

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The Organic Sinner /Written by Janice Tindle

In the book, Critters: Adventures In Wildest Suburbia by A.B.C. Whipple, published by St. Martin’s Press, 1994, states on page 41, paragraph 3, that ” C. Merriam Hart, a Naturalist, reported that a squirrel hearing a musical instrument or recording often drops whatever it is eating, stands upright, and leans forward, moving it’s head from side to side in rapt absorption as it listens to the melody. ”

This is just one example, but it seems to me that animals have more to them than just instinct and survival mode. They love, they play, they cry, they grieve, they show joy, happiness and affection and they let you know in no uncertain terms when they are angry, perplexed or frustrated. It would, after seeing an animal clearly being moved by music, be impossible for me to kill and eat it without regret.

Animals, as first stated in the book of Genesis, were created before the creation of man. It was the privilege of the first man, Adam, to name each animal. This must have taken a lot of observation on his part to get the name to fit the animal. Adam and the animals were vegetarians. It was only after the flood that Noah and his family were permitted to eat animals. The flood had changed the world! The fact that God now permitted the eating of animals may have been for the nutritional benefit of mankind. I have tried to imagine what that first meal would have been like. I can only compare it to my first experience with eating venison stew. I was a young girl and it was our custom to eat Sunday dinner at my grandparents house where we usually had spaghetti and meatballs. I had no idea my grandmother made them out of beef, pork and lamb. I’ ll get to that in a second. This day, my great uncle had brought her the meat from a deer he had shot. She made it into a stew, but did not tell us until we were engaged in eating. I was appalled! Not Bambi! I felt sick to my stomach! It was then she told me about the meatballs! So, at that moment, I was transformed into a vegetarian. I would never eat meat again!

However, being a vegetarian is more than just not eating meat, and I soon found myself anemic. So the doctor’s advice was to eat beef, which I did, but only beef for health reasons. In time however, I took on chicken, fish and turkey. But I drew the line at other animals for emotional and ethical reasons.

I would also like to point out, however, that humans had no longer lives for being meat eaters. The idea that vegetarians are somehow “better” however than meat – eating humans can not be true because at the time of the flood the Bible states that the people were very wicked. Being organic vegetarians did not create in them a pure, clean mind and heart, for they were destroyed by God for their wickedness. They were unrepentant sinners. Only Noah and his family proved upright and righteous. So, clearly, what they ate at that time, did not alter their ability to be obedient loyal worshippers of God.

What about today? Today, we are living in a contaminated world. And there is information that is out there that links what we consume with our eyes, ears, mouth, skin, lungs and conscience affects our heart and mind in both a literal and figurative way. And so those of us who want to be healthy put our time, energy and resources into living as clean of a life as humanly possible. Does this make us closer to God? It depends. A healthy person surely has more energy and a clearer mind to devote to God, but I have seen very ill individuals die with an unmovable faith in their Heavenly Father. Toxins can make it harder to control your imperfect sinful self, but only God knows the mind and heart of each soul. Nevertheless, it certainly shows respect for the vessel God gave you and for the Life he created by treating it as best as possible. The more we eat whole foods, the less likely we will be influenced by the corrupt system that houses the food industry. But again, remember, the people of Noah’s day? They were organic sinners. What they ate did not determine righteousness. Nor should we today believe that we will be less sinful by what we eat. It is whether or not we are pleasing to God that matters.

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The Treasure In The Trailer /Written by Janice Tindle

In a monetary sense, she wasn’t a wealthy woman. She lived in a mobile home in a mobile home park. Not one a fancy one, just an ordinary one, with vintage and new mobile homes living side by side.

My mother-in-law did have the very first spot as you drove in, so that was prime real estate if you wanted to be that close to the highway. It also had a large covered concrete patio. But as homes go, it was average.

She worked most of her life has a cleaning lady. A God-fearing woman, she could be seen through the kitchen window most early mornings and nights sitting at the table, studying her Bible. The other residents in the park called her, “the Bible Lady.”

At the age of eighty, she died. It was my job to go through her belongings and put the trailer up for sale. She kept odd things. Things that seemed to have meaning only to her and there was a lot things that quite frankly, no one else would want.

She did pay attention to her appearance however, and she had some nice things, albeit a bit quirky. Like her collection of wigs. As someone told me at the memorial service, “We never knew what color or length her hair would be!” She wore whatever struck her fancy that day. She was, in fact, a character. And a creature of habit. She followed the same routine every week and never wanted to venture far from home. She had to sleep in her own bed each night, so she made no trips that required over night stays. When we went to visit her, it was the same routine, dinner at her favorite restaurant and the same meal. This went on for years. So it was a surprise to find out something about her that I never knew.

In her things I found that she kept thank you cards. Not to send, which I am sure she did send them, but these were written out to her. There was a huge stack. I read every one. She had done many kind and thoughtful things for people, mostly in her congregation, but some were from clients whose houses she cleaned and the pet sitting that she did on occasion and the odd business. I also saw the ones she had kept from us. She was thanked for food a lot. She had given people the extra food she got from her food program allowance. I knew this because it was a prepackaged box that all the enrollees received, and she gave away what she didn’t use.

There were thank you cards for baby and wedding shower gifts, anniversary gifts and house sitting. Apparently, she socialized quite a bit, and she had thank you cards for those times too. They all had a similarity to them. She was loved. Not just by a few, but by many.

And so, she left a treasure behind that I have packed away in a box. A box full of thank you notes for a life of self-sacrifice, volunteering, and friendship. She lived life on her own terms, did what she sought fit, and tried her best to please her God. I don’t know that one could leave a more valuable gift behind than “the Bible Lady” left for us to find. That was our inheritance. A true treasure indeed.

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The Doll In The Box /Written by Janice Tindle

When I was a little girl, my Grandma had a China doll she kept in a box in the living room closet. It was a gift from her younger brother, Joseph. He had bought the doll when he was a sailor in the Navy in World War II. It was made of porcelain with a moveable head, arms and legs. Her face was painted with delicate features. In her tummy was a special device that when you turned her upside down, it said, ” Ma-ma.” She had real black hair cut into a page boy. Her dress was made of light green raw silk with pink ruffled trim. However, the silk was so thin that even though he had wrapped it and kept in his duffle bag, the sea air had rotted some of the silk. She let her daughters play with the doll, though always under supervision. I loved looking at her. She was so beautiful. 

When I was old enough, Grandma let me play with the doll. But time had not been kind to her and Grandma had to put in new string because the string that held the arms and legs together had rotted. I remember the day she tenderly made the repair. The arms and legs had metal loops for joints and she carefully fed the string inside the body cavity connecting the arms, legs and head. Also with time, the voice box stopped working, but Grandma  got it to say a simple, “Ma.” Her little wig came unglued and it too got repaired.

One day, when I was playing with the delicate doll, the string that attached her head came loose and her head fell to the floor and broke into many pieces. It was very sad. Accidents happen in life and once again, Grandma carefully glued the head together and reattached it to the body. She was still beautiful, but you could see the scars on her face where she had been glued. After that, Grandma decided it was best to keep the doll in her box and play with her without ever taking her out of the box. 

To me, she remained beautiful and well loved.

I am telling you this story because after I sustained a traumatic brain injury, I became like that China doll. I had many places that had become broken and my voice box didn’t work like it had formerly. My hair fell out and my limbs didn’t do want I wanted them to do. My scars were ever present and like that raw silk dress, much of my life appeared to be dissolving right before my eyes. And I was unable to ever leave my box.

Even now, as time has passed, and some glue as been applied, I am only able to appear in tact, as long as I don’t venture out of my box for long periods. After play, I must return to my box, or I too, will fall apart.

Life in a box is a small space, but it is still possible to survive. One day, I hope to leave my box behind, with a straight gait and a clear strong mind.

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The Dog That Didn’t Belong To Us /Written by Janice Tindle

My Dad was a tough guy. It least that’s what he wanted you to think. But he had a sweet, gentle side that few ever saw him display. However, I saw him display this side one early morning, when no one but my Dad was usually awake. I don’t recall what woke me, perhaps it was my dog’s simper, but as I got closer to the kitchen, I could hear my Dad talking to Sparky, our collie mix. He was rubbing Sparky on the belly and talking to him in the way that only a person who loves his dog does, ” You like that boy, huh? You like that? Good boy, good dog, good boy! You’re a good dog, good boy!” Sparky was laying at my Dad’s feet, enjoying the attention. Apparently, this was a normal morning routine that only the two of them shared, and just in the morning, because the rest of the time, he was a strict disciplinarian with the dog. And Sparky obeyed. Maybe Sparky loved him too. They didn’t see me as I backed away from the doorway.

Sparky wasn’t allowed past the kitchen. He would sit in between the kitchen doorway and the living room. He would try to inch his way into the living room, and all my Dad had to do was look and point and Sparky would back up. I used to sit on the floor next to my dog to keep him company. Whenever my Dad wasn’t around, my brother and I would sneak him in the living room. Mom let us. She loved that dog.

I had brought him home from a trip to a friend’s farm in Ohio. My great-aunt and uncle had taken me there for a visit. I saw that their dog had puppies and I fell in love! The mother was a border collie mix on a sheep farm. They thought the father was either the German Shepherd on the next farm or possibly a wolf, but he was the cutest round little puppy. I begged to keep him, and without asking my parents, my great-aunt and uncle let me bring him home. My parents were not happy, but what could they do? They could hardly return him. My brother, who had asked for a puppy too, also wanted him. We named him Sparky. It was wonderful. We had fun taking good care of him. But as he grew, we noticed he had a wild side, and he would lash out, and then it was as if he became ashamed and apologized by licking us. He had definite boundaries, and you could not change them. One was his body. He had areas you could not touch or brush. And since he had a thick coat like a collie with a mane, he would get matted hair that we had to cut out. He didn’t like that either.

Sparky grew and kept on growing. He was strong too. He would pull any chain off the post and take off down the street pulling the chain and the post behind him. Neighbors would call and say, “Come get your dog. He is in my back yard.” He had a big personality to go with that big body! Even though we had a big yard, he loved to run and visit the neighborhood, whenever he had the chance!

He loved spaghetti! He would eat it with tomato sauce and get the sauce all over himself! The other people food he went crazy over was pizelles! He would droll when we made them. He was highly excitable, and loved to jump up on folks that he liked by putting his paws on their shoulders and licking their face! If he liked you, he just HAD to show you! When my great-aunt came to visit, he would go nuts over her, crying, yelping and wagging his tail so hard his whole hind end would shake!

Sparky loved the snow, and would stay out until he had ice between his toes. Once, my brother and I built an igloo and he took it as his doghouse and wouldn’t come out. It was the cutest thing! In the summer, he would play with the sprinkler for hours! He didn’t mind being wet! His bark was three “woofs” in a row, a pause, then another “woof.” He would whine a lot too! He loved to be with people. He didn’t like being alone. When my grandfather walked him, he walked very nicely, but when I walked him, he pulled me everywhere! One time he dragged me through three yards chasing after a rabbit! I was a mess!

Even though we loved him so, my Dad knew something was wrong. Sparky wasn’t a city dog. He was a country dog. He was not meant to be on a leash. For example, we had a pool table in the basement. Sparky would grab the mop and run around and around the table pool herding the mop. This made him very happy. We didn’t understand he needed more than us. But my Dad did, so one day Dad made a decision without us that would change all our lives forever.

Dad would drive on his job to Burgettstown Pa. It was the country and without telling us, he had made arrangements to take Sparky to a sheep farm. Without so much as a good-bye, he loaded him up and took him away. We cried buckets. We were so upset with Dad. How could do this? It was heartbreaking.

We missed our dog terribly. But Dad said, as soon as Sparky saw the farm, he jumped out and went straight for the sheep and started to herd with the other dogs. How could we argue with that? Sparky stayed in the house with the farmer and slept in front of the fire at the foot of their bed, while the other dogs slept in the barn. (In our house, he slept in the basement.) They changed his name, to what, Dad never said. But one day, as we were watching the news, they had a story about sheep farmers and the farmer’s dog jumped up on the reporter and started licking his face! It was our Sparky! We were overjoyed to see him! Now, in those days, things were a lot different from today. There were no recordings or internet, nothing, just television and radio. So, if we wanted to find out where we was, we would have had to have tracked down the reporter at the station and got him to tell the farmer we wanted to come visit, but again, we had no way to get there. My brother said when he was old enough to drive, we would drive out ourselves and find him, but by that time, our dog would have been pretty old, so we never tried.

Dad did stop by to check in on him for a time afterward, but he never took us nor would he talk about it, but decades later, when my Dad had dementia, I got him on a rare day to let me in on all the details. You see, in his mind, he thought it would be easier on us and the dog if we just made a clean break. He didn’t understand our point of view. He didn’t give us the credit to realize for ourselves that Sparky didn’t belong with us. I realized later in life that Sparky never should have been allowed to go to the city to live. Often times people make emotional decisions when getting animals and don’t consider that what is best for the animal is the priority, not your want, but their need.

We never got another dog. Neither my brother nor I ever got another dog, but I wanted to, however I never quite made the move to owning another dog. Since I suffered a traumatic brain injury, I thought about getting a service dog, but I worry that I can’t take care of dog yet. Maybe someday, when the time is right, a dog will come into my life that will be all I need and this time I will make sure that he belongs in my home. Maybe the farmer’s family will see this story and let me know how things turned out. But no matter where he lived, there’s one place Sparky will always belong; in our hearts.

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The Curious Case Of The Disappearing Cough Drops /Written by Janice Tindle

The old man was sitting in his favorite chair in the living room watching the six o’clock news. He had been using oxygen since he was first diagnosed with emphysema and COPD. By his chair was a round side table with all his daily needs. A box of tissue, a bottle of water, the newspaper, a crossword book, his reading glasses, a pen, the telephone, the remote for his television and a candy dish filled with cough drops.

Everyday his nurse would come to take his vital signs, make sure he took his medications, and check his oxygen. She would also replenish his cough drop supply from a tin in the kitchen. ” My goodness, Mr. Brown, you sure use a lot of cough drops!” She said. “Really?” He gasped and then coughed. “You never put enough in the dish, they go so fast.” ” Everyday, I put in a handful.” She replied. “You should try to drink more water.” “Okay,” he said. She finished her tasks and bid him farewell until the next day.

Mr. Brown was nearing ninety years old and had no family left to speak of. He was receiving Meals On Wheels and had a woman from the county come in and do his laundry, some light housework, and make his lunch. His neighbor brought whatever he needed from the store. His medicines were delivered from the drug store, at which time he would always order a bag of cough drops. He got different kinds, but the herbal ones were his favorite. They always seem to go the fastest. Once a month, his great-nephew, who lived two hours away, would come to spend the day. He would fix what needed fixing and on nice days, they would sit on the front porch swing and visit.

But for the most part, Mr. Brown was alone. He had lost his wife ten years back, to what the doctor called, “natural causes.” It had been a strained marriage, because Mrs. Brown was strongly opposed to her husband’s smoking. She strictly forbid him to smoke indoors and found the odor so offensive, they set up separate bedrooms. So it was ironic that after she died, he was forced to give up smoking on account of his need for oxygen. Every time he craved a cigar or cigarette, he would take a cough drop. They also helped with his cough. So it was no real concern to him that he bought so many. However, what was curious, is that every morning when he sat down in his chair, the dish would always seen to have less cough drops then when he went to bed the night before. But because he was rather forgetful, he would forget about this curiosity soon after he observed it and figured that with all the people coming and going, he must have given them some or they had just helped themselves. At any rate, it went on without question and was hardly the focus of anyone’s concern because of Mr. Brown’s chronic condition.

Mr.Brown lived in his house another six months before he had to go into a personal care home. He had grown too weak to be home alone. He was happy enough there and for some odd reason he found that the cough drops he would have his neighbor bring when he came to visit lasted much longer than when he had been at home! Perhaps he was using them less, he thought, but again, with his memory failing, he simply forgot to wonder about his cough drop consumption.

It was no great shock when Mr. Brown passed away. His house and all the contents had been signed over to his great-nephew years before, and so the house was put up for sale. It was a good solid house, but nothing had ever been updated. So the new owners set out to remodeling the house that Mr. Brown had built.

Things were going along slowly for the new homeowners. They were doing the work themselves and hadn’t taken up living in the home. It would be two years after Mr. Brown’s death that the great cough drop caper would be solved. When the kitchen was being remodeled, the base cabinets were pulled out to make room for new ones. Underneath one of the drawers were hundreds of cough drop wrappers, all different kinds crumbled up into a sort of nest, if you will. Yes, it turns out Mr. Brown had not been alone after all. Unbeknownst to anyone, a family of mice, with very clear throats, had occupied the residence. Until now. And thus the curious case of the disappearing cough drops was solved. Too bad Mr. Brown didn’t live to tell the tale!

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The Caring One /Written by Janice Tindle

The light from the blue moon shone across the porcelain giving the bathroom an eery feel. He stared at his reflection in the mirror. There was an exhausted old man staring back at him. He was just fifty-three years old.

His wife’s cancer had taken a toll on both of them.

He opened the medicine cabinet door and stared at the bottles of pills. Which one would ease her pain tonight? The blue ones, the pink ones? He heard her moan from the bedroom down the hall. The white ones.

It seemed like a long walk down the hall as his bare feet touched the cold hardwood. He lifted her head up gently so she could swallow. As he lay her head back down she whispered, “Prayer.” And he said a prayer for endurance and peace so she could sleep. As he climbed back into bed beside her, he felt her body begin to relax. He wanted to sleep, but he usually only dozed, always on alert that this would be only a temporary ease to her pain.

The cancer diagnosis had been rather sudden and the battle had been going on for quite some time. From the start, the doctors had not been hopeful. Six months, maybe a year. But she was in her fourteenth month. Borrowed time. Borrowed nightmare and yet precious moments. He couldn’t remember the last time he slept through the night soundly. But tonight, a reprieve from the pain was apparent, so whether it was exhaustion or just relief, he finally slept and so did his precious wife of thirty – five years.

In the morning, she was feeling better and they shared a breakfast together off her bed tray. He read to her from the Bible and read her some cards and emails from loving friends. He gave her a sponge bath, a fresh nightgown and her morning pills. She settled down for a nap and he went to the kitchen to clean up. She was still sleeping soundly so he put some laundry in the washer, paid some bills and made some phone calls, all the while, checking in on her, happy that she slept.

By lunch time, she was not up to eating, so he made her some broth, which she sipped from a teacup. They talked about her plants, had he watered and fed them the way she did? He had.

That afternoon her sister came to visit and he asked her if she would be alright while he took a quick shower.

He let the hot water beat down on his aching back and let the tears fall. He was so tired, but not as much as he was terrified. But as always, he put on a brave face, because he knew she knew he was hurting too.

He shaved and dressed and made himself something to eat from the many casseroles brought by friends. He didn’t even taste his meal.

When her sister left, he laid down beside her and held her gently. While they lay there together, they thought of cheerful things with her, recalling memories of their wonderful life together. She wanted to see their wedding pictures, so he brought the album to her, holding her hand as they looked at them. Their love had grown more deeply over the years and she was more beautiful to him now then she had ever been. He was so proud and honored to have seen her strength not just now, but many times throughout their life together. He told her so. They talked of love and loving and fell asleep in each other’s arms.

It was the day of their anniversary. It would have been their thirty-seventh. She had lost her battle with cancer but had not lost his love. As he was sitting down to pay his insurance premium, he found an envelope addressed to him. It was in her hand. He hesitated, but then started to cry. That was just like her, to plan ahead. He opened it. “Happy Anniversary To A Wonderful Husband – she wrote, “My Dear Darling Husband, I want you to know how much it has meant to me to be married to you all these years. They went so quickly! Too quick! You did such a wonderful job of taking care of me not just these past two years, but always and it as been my honor to be your wife. Please go now and live a full and happy life, you deserve that! Thank you for all the wonderful years. Until we see each other again, Your Ever Loving Wife, Teddy.”

He was careful not to let his tears hit the card so it wouldn’t get ruined. He read it over and over again until it was burned into his heart. Then he put it back in the envelope and put it in the dresser drawer.

The sun was shining through the bathroom window his he stared at his face in the mirror. Today was another day. He shaved, combed his hair and went outside for a walk.

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The Power Of Politeness Is In The Word /Written by Janice Tindle

“My bad!” Have you been given this as a form of apology? How did it make you feel? Satisfied? Vindicated? Resolved? Did it seem sincere? Did it sound like any restitution was forthcoming? It is a feeble act of taking responsibility, an acknowledgment, and for that one should expect it to lead to the conclusion of the matter. But it just sits there. Why and when did the phrases, “I’m sorry,” and “I apologize,” become “old- fashioned,” or as it now referred to as “old school?” Sir Elton John wrote, ” Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” Why? The airwaves were once filled with apology songs and they were quite popular. But no more. It has become popular to be rude, even acceptable in some instances. You may say I am a fossil. Out of touch with today’s lingo and style. I am in fact, quite the opposite. More to the point, I have observed that being polite has slowly eroded into chic rudeness. Entertainment and commercials have became offensively impolite and ill-mannered. How so?

Well, let’s start with the meaning of rude. Rude (rud) as an adjective. According to Webster’s Dictionary it has many meanings. I will list them as they apply. “1. Being in a rough or unfinished state: crude. 2. Lacking refinement or delicacy: a: ignorant, unlearned. b: inelegant, uncouth. c: offensive in manner or action: discourteous. d: uncivilized, savage. e: coarse, vulgar.3. marked by or suggestive of lack of training or skill: inexperienced. Rude as an synonyms, rude,rough, crude,raw, mean lacking in social refinement, rude implies ignorance of or indifference to good form; it may suggest intentional discourteous behavior. Rough is likely to stress lack of polish and gentleness as in rough manners. Crude may imply to thought or behavior limited to the gross, the obvious, or the primitive as in crude joke. Raw suggests being untested, inexperienced, or unfinished as in turning raw youths into polished performers.”

So now that we fully understand the meaning of rude, how appealing does that sound as a personal description or a way to spend precious time in engaging in entertainment that promotes rudeness?

How much more appealing is it to be in the company of politeness? It doesn’t have to be accepted. If someone says “my bad,” I say, “excuse me?” I am always polite when I reply, In which they must then say, what they should of said in the first place, which is, ” Pardon me, excuse me, I’m sorry or I apologize,” as the case applies. It doesn’t matter to me that I may come across as “not cool.” What matters to me is how I am treated and how I treat others.

Try this as an experiment; Count how many times in the day you smile and say, “please or thank you, I apologize, excuse me or I’m sorry.” Do you laugh at rude behavior or dismiss rude language as stress-related? I think you will find that you feel more in control with more personal power and feel happier by using polite words. A polite word can create a pleasant environment and achieve positive results.

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The Pittsburgh Chair /Written by Janice Tindle

No, it is not a seat on the symphony board or even in the orchestra. I’m talking about the chair that is put out in the street to save a parking spot. Iconic tradition. It can be found in a few other cities, but no one does it better than the Yinzers. I really don’t how it came to be so revered and respected, but it has been around since I was a girl. I remember the day I learned to respect The Pittsburgh Chair.

It was the 70’s. My grandfather used to have a big Buick Limited. It was huge. You could fit seven people no problem. Well, one very hot summer day my grandfather drove my grandmother and I down to Carson Street, why I can’t recall, but even back then, parking was at a premium. There was only one place the big boat would fit, and it had a chair right in the middle of it. ” Get out, and put that chair on the sidewalk!” said my grandfather to me in an angry tone. My grandmother protested! He proceeded, “They don’t own the street! Move the chair, Janice!” What was I to do? I ask you, and make my appeal, for it was unthinkable on my part to disobey, but one grandparent was saying one thing and one was saying another. The cars behind us started to beep their horns. The pressure was mounting. I had to choose. My choice was clear. My grandfather was at the wheel, he was yelling, the horns were beeping, my head was spinning! I got out from the big back seat and moved the folding wooden chair to the curb. I knew right away that this was a mistake, but sometimes a kid has to do what a kid has to do because as a kid, you hold no power. Well, I hate to tell you what happened next. As my grandfather was parallel parking, I was still standing on the sidewalk beside the chair. I wasn’t quite sure what to do. It seemed silly to get back in just to park only to get back out again. So I stood there. And then it happened. A man, in a sleeveless t-shirt and trousers came out of the house in front of the parking space. He was unshaven and holding a beer bottle. He began to scream! Words I had not heard before and was pretty sure that I shouldn’t hear.  He bypassed me fortunately and went straight for my grandfather. Words were said. Both sides stating their case to the other. Finally, my grandmother, who was not in the conversation suddenly ended it simply by saying, ” Carmine, move the car.” Then she told me to get back in. I was only too happy to obey. Without another word, my grandfather pulled the big white Buick out of the spot and off we went down the street. As I turned around to look behind me, I saw the man putting the chair back in the street. It was then the fear and reverence for the chair overtook me and I learned two very valuable lessons that day. One, my grandmother was a very smart woman, powerful in her own right and I ought to pay close attention to her from now on; and two, never and I mean NEVER, MOVE THE CHAIR! 

 

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The Pittsburgh Potty   by Janice Tindle

I was watching one of those real estate TV shows, when I first heard the term mentioned. The real estate agent took the couple down to the basement and there it was, just sitting there, in the corner, all alone. “And here you have, the Pittsburgh potty!” she said amusingly. “Where’s the rest of the bathroom?” the couple asked. “There isn’t one,” she replied, “but you can add one.” “Why is it called, the Pittsburgh potty?” they asked, staring at the lone toilet in wonderment. “Because, most of the houses in Pittsburgh were built with a toilet in the basement.” I laughed as I watched the three of them just standing there, looking at it like they had never seen a toilet until that moment. 

I grew up in Pittsburgh. It’s true, every house on my street had a toilet in the basement, but I had no idea it had the distinction of being dubbed as a city original. It was simply there. A normal part of my childhood. My grandparents put a curtain around theirs. My great-uncle made a stall, and my dad and uncle made a cement block shower and added a sink and walls. A full bathroom in the basement. La de da. They used it when they were doing laundry, had been working outside, or had to clean up from some dirty job. My grandfather had a pool table in the basement, so his buddies used it when they shot pool. As children, it was the only potty we used in each other’s houses, because we were outside playing most of the time. Of course, when we got older, we were allowed in the upstairs bathrooms of our friends. A whole new world of refinement!
When I married, we lived in many places before we bought a house. I noticed right away that there was no toilet in the basement. I regret we didn’t put one in first thing. It would have come in handy when working outside, doing laundry and a shower would have been great for cleaning up after messy jobs. But alas, we have no Pittsburgh potty! And we are the poorer for it, for the Pittsburgh potty is not only a piece of Pittsburgh engineering brilliance, it is a practical way to keep your house clean. Another little gem that makes this such a livable city! The Pittsburgh Potty. Gotta have one.   

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Light To My Roadway /Written by Janice Tindle

I don’t know if you have ever had to try to get something from city government, but it can be a real headache. A simple request often has to go through a lot of red tape, meetings, and mounds of paperwork just to get on the schedule for your request to be heard. So when I called the City of Pittsburgh for a street light to be installed in front of my mother’s house, I expected a long wait. However, I am a person who believes in what I call “the ten person chain of command.” I believe if you plan it right, you usually get whatever you want or need in ten phone calls or less. The first call is the most important call, so it must be carefully chosen, or else the whole thing falls apart and you have to start all over again. Well, this story is about a street light. The road in front of my mother’s house was very dark at night and you couldn’t see your way to her walk unless you were carrying a very bright flashlight. It hadn’t always been that way. One day, the street light was mysteriously taken down. We put up with it for a bit, thinking it would be replaced with a new one, but a new one never came. We heard a rumour that a neighbor was behind the disappearing lamp, however no one was admitting to making the call. So, after my great-aunt moved into the other half of my mother’s duplex, it became apparent that something had to be done. Now, quite elderly, the two had stopped going to evening worship services because they were afraid of falling in the darkness to get into the car.
My first call was to the mayor’s office. Start at the top and work your way down, it’s easier. They put me in touch with the right department and I asked to speak to the person in charge of street lights. To my surprise and delight, the man said, “Speaking,” I politely explained the situation. He then looked it up and told me that a neighbor had complained that the light was shining into her bedroom at night and she couldn’t sleep. (I would have suggested a sleep mask) but the city came and took it down. He gave me the address. I replied, “Well, I don’t think she’ll mind now.” “Why is that?” he asked. “Because she is asleep over at Calvary Cemetery, so I don’t think the light will bother her anymore. Whereas, there are two elderly widows of World War II veterans that would like to go to God’s house in the evening. Could you see your way clear to light their roadway?” He said, “I’ll see what I can do, but I can’t promise anything.”
One week later, we had our street light back in place, and two God-fearing woman went to pray, happy and grateful.
I sent the man a thank you card, because that’s how I was raised. A few days later, he called. I told him all was well. He told me he was touched by my card and he would put it with the others, if he had any. “I have lots of complaint letters, but just one thank you. I am going to keep it on my desk to remind me, that there are people who appreciate what we do.”
And so it was a happy ending to what could have been a frustrating ordeal. Be nice. It saves time.
“Your Word is a lamp to my foot and a light to my roadway.” – Psalms 119: 105.

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Tender Tears /Written by Janice Tindle

They sat on the sofa, side by side, holding hands.

“I miss you”, she said.

“I miss you too”, she answered. Their heads bowed together, as the tears ran down the two woman’s faces. “We have to find a way to be together more”, whispered the middle-aged woman.

“Yes”, replied the elder woman, “We must find a way”.

The sun had set and the room where they had been sitting took on an amber hue and was slowly turning dark. Neither of them reached to turn on a lamp. A heaviness filled the room that seemed to suck out all the air. The middle-aged woman fought to keep from falling apart and quickly changed the subject. “Would you like coffee?”

“Yes, please, let’s have coffee!” 

She stood up and smiled as she took on a cheery tone, ” Shall I make it?

” No,mother, you sit and relax, I’ll make it.” And she went to the kitchen.

Once there, she wiped her eyes and tried not to think of what was running through her mind. These were precious moments. There was no telling just how many of them there would be between them. The idea of losing her was beyond the capacity of her heart and unfathomable to her mind. And yet time is a virtual enemy. It moves against our will and swallows up whole moments right before our eyes. She realized that as she looked down and saw her hands. The youthful skin had gone and she saw the appearance of her mother’s hands. The hands that had held her, wiped away her tears, washed her clothes, made her meals, sewed on her buttons, combed her hair, signed her report cards, clapped at her accomplishments and scolded her when she needed scolding. Those hands now replicated at the end of her arms. Tears dropped onto them hitting the sun spots. No, there was no erasing time. And so she resolved to make the most of the time that lay before them, hoping it would be many more years filled with good times and treasured hours that would take her as far as time would allow them to go together.

“Coffee ready?” The elder woman called from the living room.

” In a minute,” her voice sang through a smile.

And the elder woman had too been alone in her thoughts. About the little girl who had grown into a young woman and now her best friend and her older years, courageous and strong, someone she loved with all her heart more than all others on earth, her pride and joy, her confidant and companion through her widowhood and lonely hours. She did not want to waste the time they had together with melancholy conversation. So she smiled the smile that lit her face with beauty and filled her tone of voice with charm. They spoke of happy memories and made plans to be together again soon, but the daughter saw that her mother was growing tired and said it was time for her to go before she wore herself out. She helped her on with her coat and kissed her cheek as she hugged her in a long embrace. And as her husband drove her mother home, the woman wept silent tears on account of how fortunate she was to have such an exceptional woman as a mother that everyone loved but no one as much as she.

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The College Next Door   by Janice Tindle

There were no hallowed halls, no marble floors or columns. No grand winding staircase nor high domed ceiling. No pendant chandelier nor moulded wood panels. But there were beautiful plaster walls and ceilings with plaster moulding. Inside those walls were two of the best teachers l would ever meet. Oh yes, they wore robes, but they were plaid and made of cotton. There was no echo, for there was just four rooms, and one could hear from inside those four walls from one end to the next. But within those walls I learned the most important lessons of my life. Homework? Yes. In fact, I’m still working on what they wanted me to complete.

My teachers have long since passed, but my lessons continue. With every year, I reflect on what I was taught and find new and wonderful insights into what they tried to instill into my heart and mind. They were not exactly Rhodes scholars, in fact, far from it, for neither ever finished high school. And yet, they were the wisest people I knew. They taught me life lessons, not academics. They taught me survival skills, not theory. I learned coping strategies, not philosophy. And I learned how to deal with people or rather how not to deal with people. But the thing I learned the most from them was Faith. How to have faith in God and faith in believing that everything would work out alright in the end if you followed what the Master Teacher told you to do. They taught me how to love what is good, right and just. They were my grandparents. I was fortunate that they let me learn from them with a full scholarship for as long as they lived, at the College next door.

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The One Legged Visitor /Written by Janice Tindle

The front door was open and it framed my view as he came on crutches up the walk. My cousin Carol was behind him. He wore a green dress uniform. I had never seen a real soldier before today. His left leg was missing up to his knee and his pant leg just hung there, empty. It made me nervous. And a little scared. After all, I was just a little girl. When my father saw him, he just said softly, “Oh my.” and hung his head. When they reached the door, my father opened it and let the soldier inside our home. He was big and handsome with shiny jet black hair and dark brown eyes. He called my father, “Sir”.

“Hi Uncle George! This is Jerry, my fiance’!” Carol was all smiles and gave us all big hugs. Jerry took a seat in my father’s club chair and Carol cuddled up next to him on the arm. He took off his hat and placed it on his right knee. Now you could really see that shiny jet black hair and dark brown eyes. 

He was from Oklahoma and spoke with an accent I had never heard before. I really enjoyed hearing him speak. But I didn’t understand the things that he and my father were saying. Words like, Vietnam, landmines, bomb blasts, Hanoi. I kept looking at that empty pant leg where a leg and foot ought to be. Especially since he was so big and tall and his other leg was there with a big black shiny patent leather shoe. Almost as shiny as his hair. Carol kept running her fingers through it as he talked, looking at him adoringly. She was in love, that much I understood. I had always known her to be a feisty, headstrong girl, and now she was a confident woman in love. She didn’t say much until they started talking about the wedding. She spoke fast in her Jersey accent and looked at my mother most of the time. Then they told us they were going to live in Oklahoma. She would find a job and Jerry would race greyhounds. Greyhounds? Now, this made no sense to me either. We went to New York City on a Greyhound bus. How and why would he race them with only one leg? Well, they explained that greyhounds were a breed of dog and there were dog races in Oklahoma and he was going to raise them. Oh. Kinda like a farm, for dogs. Okay. In my young mind this was an answer. 

When it was time for them to leave, they said their goodbyes and we watched them drive off, Carol at the wheel. I would never see Jerry again. They did just as they had planned. They also adopted two children and Carol ended up owning a diner. I always thought my cousin Carol was an extraordinary person. Hard working and strong. A lot of power in a little package.

My father never did answer my questions about Vietnam. He said I wouldn’t understand. Now that I am older than he was then, I understand why he couldn’t explain it to his little girl. He didn’t want me know. And that I understand.

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A Singer’s Lament /Written by Janice Tindle

I miss singing. When I was growing up, my mother, a professional soloist, would play arias and the standards. My grandfather, a gregarious Italian who lived next door, would play opera, jazz, blues, swing, big band and all the crooners. My music was rock and pop. So I was exposed to a lot of different venues. I learned to love them all for what they brought into my soul. Watching my grandfather cry listening to Caruso and dancing to Benny Goodman was the window to his soul. Listening to my mother's lilt and phrasing gave me a rich education on what a singer can do. A singer has the power to evoke emotion inside another's heart while fulfilling their own desire to create a venue for their own passion, life experience and freedom of expression. The voice is the perfect instrument. You can take it with you wherever you go. With singing and only your heart to guide you, there is no end to the possibilities.

 I knew I wanted to be a song stylist. I loved the way the words swirled around in my mouth. I loved to form the notes "up into the mask", and feel them resonate in my face. I got high on the rise and fall of breathing through a song, feeling it swell inside my soul so that I could hardly contain my joy.

To sing a song for the first time is like riding a rollercoaster, you don't know how it is going to thrill you until the end and the rush is incredible. To sing an old favorite is like holding an old friend, warm, safe and easy. It didn't matter if it was on the stage or home alone, singing was my passion, my constant companion, my teller of tales, my heart's desire, my fantasy and reality. Singing was ME thoroughly and completely, ME. I sang when I showered, I sang when I cooked, I sang when I gardened and sang when I sewed. When I walked, I sang to myself. Before I went to sleep at night, I sang in my head. I couldn't imagine my life without it. But there is no greater feeling than to sing to God. I think that is the most special, when the tears would form and the satisfaction was complete. To feel the closeness and love in spiritual singing is like no other. And you don't have to be a good singer to praise God. But, I miss MY voice. It makes me tear up to say that because it was so much of who I was, who I still long to be.

I think of Julie Andrews, who lost her voice to a botched throat surgery, and Linda Ronstadt who lost hers to Parkinson's. And for most singer's, there comes a time when you feel yourself "start to slip". I remember Beverly Sills retiring while she still sounded magnificent. But I still had a lot of singing left to do. Three years ago, after a traumatic brain injury, I lost my ability to sing with any substance.

Even though I still try every day, the voice is not what it was, because I am not what I was. And personality is so much of what a singer is or is not. The "colors" in my voice are gone. The notes are less than ordinary. The soul of my singing is absent. And so is that wonderful release of thrilling joyousness.

So much of singing involves your whole being. You use every part of yourself. Mostly, a song is born in your brain. Right now, I can not conceive a single note that is not disabled in some way. Where there once was a fire, there is now only gray ash. 

But sometimes in the ashes an ember still burns.

 I will keep trying. No matter how lack lustre it feels. I will never give up. I will never give up. Never.

Update: In 2017, I made a video! I'm starting to sing again! It's slow, but it's something. https://youtu.be/R6oAsc25s8Q

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Cry Tomorrow /Written by Janice Tindle

I knew it was over. In the same way you know the end of the day is over. There was nothing I could do about it but watch it all disappear. Every laugh, every sigh, every whisper, every soft caress, every touch of the cheek, gone. In all the gentle words spoken, to all the tender notes sung, it was just, gone. In an instant that would drag out for years, despite my warnings, despite my urging to hold on and not let go, it was just, over.

And yet, I held out. Hoping, waiting for the sign that would never come, praying for an outcome that was impossible, longing for some sense of normalcy. “Oh, do something!” I screamed from within, but no one heard my voice. It was so far away, as if it was coming from a cave in a desolate cavern, long abandoned by the seekers of treasure. And yet, a treasure lay there, still, uncovered in the darkness, under layers of neglect, unnoticed and unexplored.

It hardly seemed possible to believe, after all this time, for things to go amiss so quickly when once there had been so much bountiful happiness and mature beauty. The ever- knowing heart, always on the watch, in the middle of it all, lost it’s way after all this time. It was not only sad, it was pitiful. It was not possible and yet, not only was it possible, it was real. It was happening and I couldn’t stop it, couldn’t redirect it, nor could I grasp the sense of why.

It, was, over. Gone, like the end of summer turning into fall, with it’s leaves turning from green into autumn’s hues, it was unmistakable. Could I not notice and wonder, what is to come after the tree stands naked and the colors vanish under a dark and gloomy sky?

There was no way to change it, and yet I tried. Swimming against the tide, hoping for a miracle, and at the same time knowing, deep down in my soul, it was over.

But I never cried. Not once. Not in the way most people cry. There wasn’t time. There was too much to sort out, too much to mull over, too much of too much of everything. And in the deafening silence of the long, lonely nights, I sat there, numb and terrified that morning would come and I would have to face another day as difficult as the last and it would never, ever be the same again.

And so I decided that each day, I would decide to cry tomorrow. Because the day was in and of itself so unbelievably painful, and intensely grief-ridden, that to cry would mean it was, really, truly, never to be repeated. It was one thing to hear it, but believing it and accepting it, was something else entirely and I was not going down with the ship until the crow’s nest sunk.

But, there was no denying it when it finally happened. I knew, it was over and I had to find some way to begin again. I had to gather all the bits and pieces that used to be me and go on. But where? Where do you go when you can’t take yourself with you? Where do you go when a direction, any direction is daunting? How do you find your way home when your home is gone?

Life with a brain injury is one of the most difficult experiences any soul can endure for one very simple and yet complicated reason; No one knows how to turn the you that is, back into the you that you were. You are living a Humpty Dumpty life and “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men”, are useless. There is no special brew, no cutting-edge surgery, no ancient Chinese secret. You are broken and lost within yourself. Even when you are surrounded by doctors, therapists and well-meaning souls, you are invisible. No one sees YOU anymore, because you’re not there. And you know it. The only way to survive it, is to decide to cry tomorrow. Today, there is work to do. Today, the journey continues. Today, you begin again.

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Tony Called /Written by Janice Tindle

 

 

The utility company. We’ve all had our bad experiences with rudeness, long holding times, waiting for them to show up, to turn the service on or off. Perhaps there was a dispute over a bill. We take our utility services for granted and we fall completely apart and start complaining when we lose them. We are the public consumer, ungrateful, impatient and irate. Based upon the news, at least, this is how I think we must look to the utility company.

But I have a different story to tell. It is about the water company and a man named Tony. This summer, The water company decided it was time that the neighborhood had it’s water lines replaced. This meant ripping up the street with huge, extremely loud machines. It was going to take the spring and all summer. For most of my neighbors, this was an annoyance. For me, it was agony.

Your see, I have a brain injury and I suffer from constant migraine pain. I have a sensitivity to sound. No, let me correct that. Sound, like that from construction equipment is nothing short of torture. I go into spasms, and my head feels like it is going to explode. I have had to endure noise in my neighborhood that actually made me feel I was going to die from the pain-inducing sound of motors.

I’ve hidden in closets, cowered in the basement, and huddled in the bathtub. I’ve used all manner of earplugs and headphones and taped pillows around my head. When I knew it was coming, I left and went to my mother’s house. But once there, it offered no guarantee I would escape the professional lawnmower service.

So, when the water company showed up, my husband and I become greatly concerned. “What were we going to do?” My husband decided to call the water company to find out what their schedule was, and more importantly, how to deal with the noise.

We were prepared to get little concern or help. But that was not the response we received.

My husband talked to a man named Tony, who immediately got on board with our situation. Not only did he have sympathy, he was empathic. He made arrangements to call my husband every step of the way to keep him informed as to where they would be and when and for how long. He also called all the contractor’s involved in the project, and told them they were to keep us informed. They did.

When he went on vacation, he had his replacement call. Whenever, they pulled off the job to go work somewhere else, Tony called. When they had problems, Tony called. Whenever there was any news of any kind, Tony called. We have a water treatment system in our house, so when they flushed the lines, we had to put in all new filters. He knew this, so when the time came, Tony called.

They started work at 7 a.m., so this required us to get up at 5 a.m., get me packed and ready with everything I need for the long fourteen hour day til my husband could pick me up, and take me home, where I would collapse into bed, to do it all over again the next day. Everyday, my husband would call and say, “Tony called,” and give me the update.

I spent most of the time laying on my mother’s couch with ice bags on my head. Sometimes, I would sit in the chair. And since I am also sensitive to light, she had the curtains closed and blankets over them. She had to awaken at 7 a.m., so this required much adjustment on her part as well. We have great love between us, so she was happy to help.

It took a long time and tomorrow it comes to an end. And Tony will stop calling.

How do you thank a man for going to such great lengths? Had he not called, we never would have known when or if they were coming and our life would have been well beyond the threshold of how much I could endure. Even with all the calls, I had many trips to the headache doctor. It was no easy task for any of us. And yet, I ask myself, “How many Tonys are there in the world who would take so much of their time and go out of their way just to ease the suffering of one individual? “He was always professional, he never complained, and was always ready to go above and beyond the call of duty. Just one brain-injured women, no one important to warrant such celebrity-status treatment. And yet, even so, Tony called.

 

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Peace, Liberty and…. Morgan /Written by Janice Tindle

In all our thirty years of marriage, we never had a complete bedroom suite. It was almost complete, but the bedroom was a bit of ‘this and that’ from the family, pieces I liked very much, but I was ready for a change. I didn’t think the “change” would be in US currency.

It happened one Saturday afternoon as I was browsing a consignment store website. They were doing an estate sale that day and had just what I wanted! A vintage, french-style bedroom suite! What a delight to the eyes! It was beautiful. I had to have it, but at what price? So, I called, and to my surprise, the owner answered. She said since it was late in the day, I could have it at half-price if I came right away. It was across town. So off my husband went in his van. The owners helped him load it into his van, and he brought it home. A neighbor helped him carry it in. At first, he wanted to put it in storage, until we could clean out the bedroom, but I knew that would only forestall the clearing out, so I had him set everything in the livingroom.

When they brought it in, I saw it was more beautiful than it looked online. Solid wood, dove-tailed drawers with cedar bottoms, hand-craved scroll-work and metal handles so ornate I could hardly stand my joy! They even had glass tops to protect the wood. However, it had a heavy build-up of polish and the drawers smelled like a cross between moth-balls and old lady sachet, but I was delighted and up for the challenge. I scrubbed and scrubbed. I used all manner of remedies to kill the smell, and finally decided on baking soda and newspaper. There was however, a surprise in one of the drawers.

It was full of all sorts of old wonderful things. I looked everything over very carefully. I thought at first the owner, who I knew, had left me a bunch of estate sale leftovers as a throw-in. I love old things, so I carefully removed each item and examined it. Some silk ties, vintage handbags, handkerchiefs, some old japanese rice cloth, a fan, and then I saw them, some old family heirloom jewelry, and three dollar coins. A Peace Dollar, A Liberty Dollar, and A Morgan Dollar.

Well, clearly, these were not meant for me. Someone had missed clearing it out. I had two instantaneous thoughts, one; “Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers”, and two; “Return them”.

I knew the coins and jewelry were valuable. The other things, a small sum. I looked them up online. The coins were worth about $95.00 I thought. The jewelry was monogrammed and sterling. Clearly, things that had been worn by the family. A baby’s signet ring and bracelet, a Victorian perfume holder necklace, a pin made out of animal teeth, and a few other pieces. They were probably worth more at a Cash For Gold place. There was one just up the street. “Take them”, but no,why add to the temptation? We could use the money, for sure, but my conscience was far more valuable to not alter after I had worked so hard to develop it to be one that did not waver.

I returned to the consignment store with the items. She was stunned by my honesty and thanked me, but there was something insincere in her words. She said them with her back turned. I asked if I could keep the one handbag, and she gave me the box, but the jewelry and coins she kept. I explained I thought they were meant for someone as they were all together in a mesh compact case, and said I wanted them to go back to the family. She said she would return them. And off I went strongly suspecting she would not. But that was not the point. It was on her conscience now, not mine. As I left, she added, ” You know, you got a really good deal on that furniture”. Yep. she was going to pocket them.

Wait, who was I to judge her? Perhaps she would return them. But it was of no consequence, I knew I had done the right thing. I had my peace, my liberty and I was not going after my version of a J.P. Morgan fortune. I could sleep soundly in my beautiful new bedroom knowing I had done the right thing.

Looking back, the only thing I regret was not playing detective. I could have gone to the county website, looked up the address of the estate, then looked up the obit and found the family that way and returned to them personally. But who knows if I would have found them? Besides, what is done, is done. I learned quite joyfully that safeguarding your mind and morals is far more valuable and rewarding than selling out your principles for a few coins. I seemed to remember a famous story along those lines….

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Walgreens – Whoo-Hoo! For Seniors! /Written by Janice Tindle

So today is Walgreens 20% off sale for seniors. Whoo- Hoo! My husband, not me, should be very excited. The last time they had this sale, he got Just For Men hair color.  If he had started this some years back, I would have thought,
” Ok, let’s push back time.”
But no.
He waited until his hair was completely silver and young girls at the check out gave him the discount for seniors without even asking if he qualified. This did not make him happy. I was all for him coloring his hair BEFORE now, but, better late than never, so one Sunday morning I awoke to find a chestnut colored haired man had made me breakfast. Quite a drastic change.
” Do you think people will notice?” he asked.
“No”, I said, ” It was so gradual, no one will notice.”
He laughed.
” Well, I was getting tired of looking like an old man and it was cheaper than buying a new sports car.”
I couldn’t complain. He was right. He did look better. Only, it wasn’t his original hair color, but close enough. Besides, I’ve been coloring my hair for, well, forever. So now he has joined the ranks. He also had a little something on my breakfast tray. No, not a rose. A plastic container with my vitamins inside.
” What’s this?” I asked.
“Oh, it was in the box. The gloves were in it. I thought it was great. You could use it as a pill-box.”
” O- Kay…” I said. And so we did. And I got pretty used to it, even though I have a pretty Bejeweled one. Then one day the unthinkable happened. We lost the lid. Well, you would have thought it was the Hope diamond! We looked everywhere for that stupid thing. And now, I kinda miss it. Guess I have to wait for him to buy some more hair color. Which brings me to today. Walgreens is having their sale. And I have a coupon. Whoo-Hoo!

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The Siberian Iris /Written by Janice Tindle

Recently, my husband and I were hit by the flu and an upper respiratory infection that came invading like a band of Cossacks invading a treasured castle. They hit hard. And though we survived the attack, it left us plundered and pillaged of our resources. It will take a long time to recover, but hopefully, we will with time.
It was about the fifth day into it, as I was still in bed with a high fever of 103 F, that my husband happened to look out the window into the back yard. He was met with a happy surprise. A Siberian Iris blooming in the sun in all it’s glory. It had survived the unexpected snowfall that hit about the same time as the flu hit us. He had wanted to cut it and bring it in, but I said, “No, leave it lay. It won’t survive the cutting, but it may survive the snow. If it doesn’t, there’s always next year.” But it had, like us survived. And that got me thinking about how I came to have the iris in the first place. I had a dear friend, named Colleen. She and I were gardening buddies, shopping pals, and good neighbors. We did quite a lot together. She was a diabetic, and if she wanted to go somewhere, and didn’t feel well, she went anyway, taking me along, insulin on the seat of the car between us. If she got sick, I was to get her insulin. She was a very determined lady. And most of the time, I was frightened for her. Fortunately, I never had to give her insulin.
One day, when she was home alone, for whatever reason, she decided to go up to the screened in porch roof to the wisteria vine. Maybe it was to retrieve a cat or to check on a noise, or trim the vine she was trying so desperately to bloom, but she leaned a bit too far over a loose railing and fell onto the patio below. There she lay, in the shade, where no one could see her for hours. She suffered a head injury and was left partly paralysed. My other friend, Carol,and I, along with Colleen’s husband stayed at the hospital for two weeks as she lay in a coma. I had read where if you talk to them, really hit that right nerve, they will wake up. So, her husband and I literally nagged her awake. Her first words were, “Shut up.” And I knew she was going to be okay, at least in that moment. Eventually, she came home, but was confined to bed. She was a proud woman, so I cut her hair, did her nails,tweezed and shaved, lotioned and made up her face, so that she smiled in the mirror. I put bird feeders outside her window so she could watch them and I washed her two parrots in the shower and cleaned their cages. They sat on my shoulders and fingers to visit her and bit me more than once. I made her meals, cleaned her house, and cared for her cats. All the while, I was sleeping at my great uncle’s house at night to give my great-aunt a rest as he lay in a his hospital bed, dying of leukemia. If that wasn’t enough, I was stopping by everyday to visit my parents after my father’s stroke and trying to run a small business. On the weekends, I would garden.
Gardening was my love and still it remains. And Colleen and I had traded many plants together. When she finally died, seven years later, her husband raped and pillaged her garden like a parade of locusts. Not a tree, bush, flower, vine, ornament or stone was left. The enchanted little cottage that sat in the hollow became a barren wasteland and the colorful house was painted a non descript tan, like a vanilla cookie. I can’t say why he did it, but he did. The house was sold and he moved on. But her garden was not lost. It lives only on my property and more importantly, in my heart.
I had the flu when she died, and couldn’t go to the funeral, so I cried buckets of tears. And so, when my husband mentioned the iris, it all came flooding back, the memories and the symbolism. For she was like the iris, tall, and strong, beautiful and resultant, overcoming impossible odds. And as I thought of that iris, blooming in the sun, I thought sometimes the answers to what we seek are right there in our sight, blooming in the sun, just waiting for us to notice.
NOTE:Any resemblance to actual events is purely coincidental.

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VALERIE by Janice Tindle

(See my follow up at the end of this story)

The ice and rain spit hard against my window pane like a child spitting watermelon seeds onto a dinner plate. I read the news and it hit me just as hard. Ping. Ping. Ping. The sound of my heart. THREE MONTHS TO LIVE. My mascara was caught up in the tears as they fell onto the page and soiled the script. This could not be true! Stupid cancer. And yet here was this vision of exuberance, with dignity and grace as she invited all along for the journey far too many have travelled and even more fear to go. And yet, somehow, we followed, willingly, with optimism and support watching and waiting for the next words of wisdom. Where would she take us next?
Where she took us was into a land of wonder and communion. One body, one throng 18 thousand strong and counting up a mountain to stake a flag. For the valleys, she made for us bridges, so we didn’t have to fall into the pit of despair, no, it was not there. The bridge was strong and beautiful. She made it herself, to lift and carry the masses along, she, in her scarfed-head and joyous spirit, she offered reality and we offered hope and good will.
Along the way, there have been triumphs and tragedies, disappointments and heartaches, but she responded with positive commands and wistful beckoning. And we followed. Applauding. Laughing. Enjoying. And not one of us wished for an end to this amazing adventure that taught us and made us stronger. She was unstoppable. We were unstoppable. For where she went we, like Mary’s little lamb, were sure to follow.
And as we followed, we were reminded of why we moved effortlessly with her. The joy. The laughter. The beauty and grace. The incomparable spirit that would not let go.
In this world where so much is unknown, this much is fact. We humans of this earth, can carry on if we choose to. And choose to we must. For there is hope where there is life. And life is a precious gift no matter the circumstances, even with pain. In this world where so many fall down, there must be someone to raise them up, to heal their wounds, to listen to their heartaches, not casting them aside. And we as humans have an obligation to do these things to and for each other. To raise up. So I am respectful of this woman who chooses the higher ground to walk on, to tread lightly on people’s feelings and wash over the doom and sadness that could and does often fill our hearts in times such as this. Consider:Can you look at your circumstances differently so as to make the road you must walk easier?
And so we walk behind her, straining our necks, looking, peering over the masses to see, anticipating her next move with great excitement. Where will she take us next?
Hopefully, into ourselves, into our own reflection, for she is after all, one of us, just a human, as we all are, who all need to eventually walk our own road and stake our own flag. The question is, how will WE choose to do it?
This woman chooses wisely, with solace and all somberness, with truth and deep gratitude, with laughter and joy, this woman called Valerie.
(See my follow-up piece, Valerie; You’re Gonna Make It After All by Janice Tindle https://janicetindle.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/valerie-your-gonna-make-it-after-all-by-janice-tindle/

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Be Strong ! Have Courage ! /Written by Janice Tindle

Be strong, O heart, do not drop down,
Have courage, among the failings of your soul,
For yes, dear heart you can with God’s love surround,
The very venture you are trying to control.

With boldness, grab onto courage, let it lead your way,
Cause righteousness to be your Holy instruction,
Into the future forever and not just the next day,
Act with boldness and not fruitless self corruption.

Be strong O dear heart, do not drop down,
Take courage, among the failings of the bold,
For Yahwah your God is looking all around,
And will always have his hand open to hold.

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Grandma’s Lullaby /Written by Janice Tindle

It was a typical fall morning in Pennsylvania. The kind you anticipate. Crisp, clean air, all crinkling and spiced from rotting apples and dry leaves. Weather like this called for the planting of bulbs. Heirloom tulip bulbs, to be exact, generations old, white, pink, orange, and red, all handed down from my grandmother’s mother. I took a deep breath and looked up at the baby blue sky. the clouds raced by like the sails from the Australian cup. ” They are anxious too,” I thought, as I began to turn the soil.

My Grandma, a small, soft, round, sweet-faced woman, was sitting on a wooden folding chair with her cane between her knees. She held it like a scepter, or pointed with it, as we did now, for emphasis.

“Make four rows, here, here, here, and here. She said quickly.

Yes, on this day, I was to do the planting. Grandma wasn’t up to it today. She was in her twentieth year of congestive heart failure. She had survived rheumatic fever as a child and had been crippled up with arthritis for as long as I could remember. Still, it was only in this last year, her eighty-sixth, that she had begun to slow down to a snail’s pace. And I’m sorry to say, that even now, in my thirties, I was still nervous and a bit irritated, that my Grandma was telling me how to do things.
“I KNOW how to plant bulbs”, my ego thought, as she pointed the old wooden cane at each bulb, but I said, nothing. The rest of me was happy to be out in the sunshine with her again. It was the first real interest she had in anything for weeks. My Grandma didn’t feel well, she didn’t look well, but her demand for precision was still in tact. I took that as a good sign.

“Put the bigger ones in the front row, the smaller ones in back. They need time to grow up.” She said.

She’d point with her cane, and I’d plant. There were one hundred bulbs, in perfect rows, in front of her patio. I was hoping that it would help her look forward to Spring. But she wasn’t happy. She wasn’t down in the dirt, so it wasn’t the same. We had always planted together, sitting side by side, on the ground, her hand over mine, since I was old enough to walk. Well, I waited for the usual scolding, about how I had dug too deep, or too close, put the wrong ones in the wrong holes, but here was none of that. There was no lecture about how I had not taken the proper care of storing the bulbs, or my random planting. This time; this first time, she had not one critique. I had pleased her.

I had finally learned, according to her standards. I learned the patience and joy of tenderly and precisely, placing each tulip bulb solidly into the richly prepared soil that was to become its new home. I had pleased her. She leaned down and gave me a pat on the head. It was golden, like a crown.

I could visualize the tulips, standing at attention like little soldiers in brightly colored hats. I visualized my Grandma and I admiring them in the Spring. I was already looking forward to the pride that I could feel as each one would open and testify about all the love that went into its care. Spring was going to be great, I thought. But I couldn’t get my Grandma excited. Her passion was waning.

The bulbs were in, and they were in correctly. I tried to get her to stay out and enjoy the day with me. But this woman, who lived for the out-of-doors, was tired.

It was one week to the day that my mother called us to come quickly to the hospital. I was concerned naturally, but Grandma was always beating the odds. It wasn’t as bad as they said, we thought. We all consoled ourselves in the waiting room, “She’ll come out of this, as she does.”

It had been an all night vigil. The entire family tenderly watched over her with the same constant eyes that she had always given to each one of us. I remember how she made a roast for the entire family. The care she took in marinating and in the blending of the herbs. The rich smells from her kitchen always filling the neighborhood. I breathed in deep and recalled the smell of roasted onions, potatoes and carrots. “Ahhhhhhh”, I said to myself. No one held a candle to her cakes and cookies. Her spaghetti and meatballs ruined any Italian restaurant experience. They were that good. I thought about her pizelles, steaming off the press, wafting with anisette, so strong my childhood dog Sparky sat in puddles of drool whining for a tasty treat. And her apple pie, apples so plump from our tree, and a crust so perfect, blue ribbons seem to just ooze from the juice.

As she lay there, with the monitor above her head, charting her heartbeat and pulse, I tried to think of my Grandma in her vegetable garden, How she had covered her tomatoes with old blankets to protect them during an unscheduled frost. The way her beans went in just so, and grew obediently up the poles. The way she fenced off the rhubarb so my father wouldn’t mow it down when he cut the grass. Oh, those rhubarb and plum preserves from her trees that we canned! How sweet they were on a wintry morning with fresh hot biscuits! As I listened to the sound of her heartbeat beating, ever so slowly, now, I recalled how she had at one time or another held us, each one of us, in her ample bosom as she was wiping away tears, or squeezing us with laughter, yes, lecturing us down some bad habit or other. I felt the knife of grief plunge into my gut and twist. Sorrow filled my face like a helium balloon. My shirt was soaked with tears.

She was holding out. She wanted to hold court, one last time, to say goodbye. She told us not to be sad. She told us she loved us, not to cry. But we were. We hugged her. We hugged each other. We became one in our love for her. Separate, though, in our aloneness. She meant something different to each one of us. Our grief was personal. But I, more than all the others, was an uncontrollable bawling heap of mush. In my head I began to comfort myself with the tune that Grandma always sang to us. I was only into the first line when I was called back into the room.

It was my turn to say goodbye, I was hoping to get the same kind of conversation she had with everyone else. What instructions would I be given? What important task, what words for me to carry in my heart for the rest of my life? It seemed that all the important things had already been said. She was the morals manager, the spiritual instructor, and financial coach. Everyone had been given a lesson to follow. But when my time came, I simply put my arms around her and whispered in her ear,

“Thanks, for being my Mum, “I said, choking back the tears. “Thanks for being my granddaughter”, she replied in a voice so low and weak, it could hardly be heard over those horrible beeps from the monitors.

I raised myself up to meet her eyes, now only half-open. Where were those precious words of wisdom? she beckoned me down again so she could whisper in my ear. This was it. Here it comes, the big awesome moment that is going to make this all bearable. And then she spoke.

“When the flowers come up in the Spring, put Miracle Grow.” To my surprise, I stopped crying, just for a moment, to smile.”I promise.” I said.

There it was. The profound moment. The big task. Put Miracle Grow! I felt tragically cheated! It was bad enough to lose my best friend, the one I lived to please, whose every word I hung on, to lose her, and be left behind with, “Put Miracle Grow.” “Is this some kind of cosmic joke?”I said in my heart. And then I realized, as I looked at her perfectly weathered face, that she had already told me everything there was to say. I had learned everything she had to teach. I had lived by her instructions all my life. I was a faithful child. I had made her happy. She had completed her work.

She half-spoke, half-breathed, “Prayer”. Her minister praised her for a life of faithful service and ended with a heart-wrenching prayer. She said, “Amen”. And closed her indigo eyes for the last time.

I took her hand in mine. It was warm, but unresponsive. I had to shut my eyes tight to make a dam for the tears. It was useless of course, and the tears flowed like the rain that made my grandmother’s golden garden grow. I began to sing, whimpering really, at first, until, a calm lay over my heart and I formed the opening line:

“Grandma made this song for you. The words are whiu-lu-lu. Hush-a-bye, now don’t ye cry, to the tune of Whiu-lu-lu.”

My family looked at me like I had completely lost my mind. However, my Auntie, with tiny tears on her wrinkled cheeks, quietly followed. Grandma’s eyebrows raised in recognition. I knew she was singing with us as she slipped away gently into death’s sleep.

Grandma died with regal dignity. Awestruck by her strength and courage, the medical team stood quietly sobbing outside in the corridor. It was the single most exceptional experience of my life. Her absolute conviction as she entrusted her faithful life into God’s memory was our final lesson. I know, just as those individual heirloom tulips will bloom for me, my Grandma will bloom gloriously in God’s Kingdom.

Outside the air was warm and still. The sky was indigo. It was an absolutely quiet dawn. – 2006

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O, THE OBSCURE SCALE INTRUSION /Written by Janice Tindle

Tawny, crisp, leaves ranked in a pile,
Of all my trees, this oak is my favorite.
When I look at it, I have to smile,
Every fall, its leaves turn gold, I savor it.

As time passes, they turn tawny brown,
The acorns are young, smooth and petite.
And one by one, they fall to the ground,
A tasty treat for greedy squirrels to eat.

An obscure scale has smitten my tree alas!
I am forlorn ,for the scale is hard to treat.
Treatments have to be given if the tree is to last,
And those angry squirrels will have nothing to eat!

But forget the squirrels, for my tree it does suffer!
For the scales suck the nutrients with profusion.
I could cover it with ladybugs one after another,
It’s a difficult condition and a nasty intrusion!

So i feed it and treat it in hopes it will survive,
I watch it for poor overwhelming infestation,
Because I want nothing more than for my tree to stay alive,
I’m under the gun and filled with indignation.

For if I can’t save my precious tree, my oak so dear,
It will die very slowly from this horrible obscure scale.
I shall miss it forever year after heartbreaking year,
And where it used to reside, the hillside will be forever pale.

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365 HOLY SCRIPTURES /Written by Janice Tindle

In January, a friend, who is very important to my husband and me, proposed a challenge for the new year. He said, to do something nice everyday for someone and gave a few examples on how to do so. You remember Oprah’s random acts of kindness, right? Well, I thought about it and said, “I was raised this way, It is in my nature, but now that I live with a traumatic brain injury, it’ s been a little harder. I try at the end of each week, to be able to say that I made a difference in someone’s life. But I decided to raise the bar. I thought, who better than God to help me make a difference? So, I decided to post a scripture everyday on my Facebook status every morning. Something well thought out and planned with a direct purpose and meaning in mind to touch the hearts and minds of the reader. That’s the purpose of the Holy Scriptures, is it not? So it gives me purpose to post, and fulfills the challenge, for by the end of the year, we will have all read at least 365 more scriptures than had I not posted any at all. I think that’s a kindness God would approve of from a brain injury survivor and if nothing else, I have deepen my appreciation for the sacred writings and drawn closer to God. “Draw close to God and he will draw close to you.”- James 4:8

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A PRIVATE WAR /Written by Janice Tindle

“There are Nazi’s in my head,”
Looking upward, his eyes filled with dread,
“But I won’t go where I’m led,
I’ll stay here and fight instead.”

My father spoke slowly and low,
There was only me, I was only to know.
I didn’t let my horror and sorrow show,
But I knew, it was time for him to go.

” I love you and your mother, so I fight,
Things they tell me deep in the night,
I won’t let them get me, I know wrong from right,
All I have to do is, keep out of sight.”

He was losing his mind to the tumor inside,
As big as an orange, on the left side.
It had to come out for I couldn’t abide,
My father’s private war in which he lied.

There can be no greater love, I think,
Than to rescue a loved one going over the brink,
The longer it was there, the further he’d sink,
I couldn’t just wait for his senses to replete.

And so the day came when surgery was here,
But my father would not live to see the next year,
He left us happily catching butterflies in empty air,
The Nazi’s were gone, and so, was the fear. JT.
(End of poem.)

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Janice Tindle

Mid-Atlantic Catastrophic Injury Fund

via Janice Tindle.

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The Soldier Who Wore Gray /Written by Janice Tindle

The soldier who wore gray,
Lay still in front of me,
There was no more reason left to stay,
The color he had worn ceased to be,
And the only thing left was his shadow of gray.

For many years he carried me,
Through trials, and storms and agony,
For many years I carried him completely,
Though he never realized my sustainability.

But from down the aisle, to down the block,
We had walked together in quiet harmony,
And though he thought he was our rock,
He was nothing short of constant calamity.

From the Solomon Islands, to the shores of home,
He kept his distance from the setting sun,
From the time I was born, he was never alone,
But now, in gray, his life was done.

He was frail and chiseled, his bones shone through,
A regalness I witnessed upon his face.
I was paralyzed in grief, there was nothing left to do,
But to bury the soldier in gray time would never erase.

{for my father, who died after a seizure from complications due to brain surgery. He had lewy body dementia, Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, a brain tumor and had a stroke. It was the honor of my mother and I to care for him for seven years. Since my traumatic brain injury in 2010, from a car accident, I have found myself drawing on those years for strength, understanding and endurance. I now know what it must have been like for my father. I forgive him unconditionally and love him more now than I ever knew I could, in the way I always wanted.)

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