Mark Twain and B. Basinger

An empty chair. A row of books. My teacher is gone, but her story and Mark Twain’s tales remain.

From Twain’s Life on the Mississippi:

I still keep in mind a certain wonderful sunset which I witnessed when steamboating was new to me. A broad expanse of the river was turned to blood; in the middle distance the red hue brightened into gold, through which a solitary log came floating, black and conspicuous; in one place a long, slanting mark lay sparkling upon the water; in another the surface was broken by boiling, tumbling rings, that were as many-tinted as an opal; where the ruddy flush was faintest, was a smooth spot that was covered with graceful circles and radiating lines, ever so delicately traced; the shore on our left was densely wooded, and the sombre shadow that fell from this forest was broken in one place by a long, ruffled trail that shone like silver; and high above the forest wall a clean-stemmed dead tree waved a single leafy bough that glowed like a flame in the unobstructed splendor that was flowing from the sun.

There were graceful curves, reflected images, woody heights, soft distances; and over the whole scene, far and near, the dissolving lights drifted steadily, enriching it, every passing moment, with new marvels of coloring.

I stood like one bewitched. I drank it in, in a speechless rapture. The world was new to me, and I had never seen anything like this at home.

Also, from Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer:

Barley-corn, Barly corn, Injun meal shorts,
Spunk-water, spunk-water, swaller these warts! (LOL)

Twain was/is fun, clever, morally and politically forward-thinking. Still! I love Jumping Frog and Huck Finn. I love the things he said and the wisdom he conveyed through innocent eyes. He gave me pride for my home state instead of disdain for its bumpkins and isolation. Twain is a bright spot in Missouri history and Billie Basinger gave me Twain.

My junior high English teacher, Billie Basinger, died a few years ago. I posted this picture for those who knew her as a memorial of the lives she touched.

mark twain books 2.jpg

I only knew Ms. Basinger for two years. I knew nothing about her personal life or how she died. I only know she passed from cancer. But this intelligent woman, this great teacher, gave me an island of words and ideas in a sea of wheat fields.

If we can’t thank our teachers, if we can’t show them or others how much they make a difference, then we will stop having teachers. People who work for less for longer than any other important people-saving profession.

In other countries, teachers are paid at the same rate as doctors and lawyers. Teachers care just as much or more and they do it for not as much money. At least, at the very least, thank them every chance you get.

Ms. Basinger taught in a small district, in a rural area. She definitely did it because she cared.

Thanks, Ms. B. You made a difference is so many lives. I’m a writer today because a few people like you cared.


Trash! (Not the Voss)

FYI: I do NOT buy fancy water. I bought 1 or 2 bottles of Fiji for my daughter (in her entire lifetime) because she likes the bottle. But I don’t like paying for something that is usually free everywhere you go. Bottled water does taste different IMO, but not enough to justify buying a bottle of plastic and adding to the world’s trash problem.

BTW, just as a side note–regarding trash. Yesterday, my family and I were running around town, checking off our weekend to-do list (I usually don’t exit the house on Saturday to avoid people who go anywhere on Saturdays, but we had stuff to do): mailing letters, acquiring new running shoes, cleaning the car that hasn’t been cleaned since vacation! And we dropped off our donate-ables to the Red Racks in downtown Lee’s Summit.

Before we left, we were gathering all of our old clothes for Red Racks (some things don’t fit any more since I lost 100 lbs!) and shoving them into a trash bag. Everything fit inside the bag except an old coat. So my husband zipped the old coat around the trash bag. It looked like a scarecrow. LOL This made it easier to carry everything we had to take. So I started calling the coat-bag Trashcrow. Then as we stepped out our front door, I asked my daughter to grab Trashbuddy. We all laughed. She scooped up Trashbuddy and hugged him all the way to the car. D’aw! Shoulda taken a pic.

Then we stopped at our apartment complex’s trash bin/recycling area and my husband noticed tiny paw prints on the sidewalk. He theorized that raccoons, AKA Trash Pandas, were probably coming across the field and dumpster diving. So, lots of talk about trash animals and people. I just thought it was funny.

But we try to be mindful about trash. <<<—Ah, there’s my point.

Plus, we had to run our errands on Saturday because my husband takes the car during the week for work and we only have one fuel-efficient car. So, we’re trying to do our part. Sort of. This is just planet-ruining, white-suburban, privileged trashguilt-talking. So. Onward. We stopped at TJ Maxx (yes, we’re Maxxinistas) for the shoes.

We had a gift card from Christmas and my daughter needed new shoes. I’ve been shopping several times in the last two days, but I’m seriously NOT a shopper. If you get a gift card, you have to use it. They don’t give you cash any more. Remember the days you could buy some chapstick and get all of the money back?? Yeah. Anyway.

So, I’m standing in line, holding onto the shoes, waiting for the registers to clear and I see some Voss (made in Norway) water.

Now, you should also know, as a side note, that I cannot drink straight-up water any more. MiO I just had weight loss surgery. So, I was really curious if fancy, imported water was actually different and drinkable. It’s been a very frustrating experience not to drink water. Essential life-giver that it is. My stomach just gets crazy wobbly and immediately queasy. 😦

So, at $1.69 per bottle, with a functional glass bottle to reuse on a daily basis, I thought to give it a try. Plus, $1.69 is not a lot to pay for a glass bottle and water coming all the way from Norway. Right?

Well, guess what??? I can drink fancy Norwegian water with no friggin’ problem. I’ve tried American bottled water, but I still had the same trouble as I did with tap water. I assume it’s something in the water, not the water itself. Unpolluted? Some mineral additive? Water-soaked fish essence from beautiful Norwegian crystal-clear fjords? Idk. But I guzzled it and my stomach was fine!

This makes me happy/sad. Happy that I see now, my stomach is not allergic to water. LOL But sad that American water is somehow bad for my newly-cut stomach? I’m not buying fancy water, but now I know, it’s not me. It’s the tainted water here? My virgin stomach can’t handle treatment chemicals? Makes you think. Makes me think about Flint. Makes me think about our planet. Makes me want to move to Norway and work for Voss. You know, for free water. Possibly.

Stay thirsty, my Friends! For knowledge.

Did any of this make sense??? Hope so.

Country Roads, Don’t Take Me Home

I spent my youth
Away from Home.
Wishing my friends
Were sisters of my own.

I didn’t like family.
Dangerous love.
Beat up and tortured,
Push comes to shove.

We lived in the country,
Away from town.
If there are no neighbors,
Does abuse make a sound?

My heart goes back
To that scary place.
And my throat gets tight
At memories I chase.

It wasn’t all bad.
I remember some good.
Days spent hiding,
Deep in the woods.

Green creek banks
And rich, black dirt.
Flowers and water
To wash away the hurt.

But no amount
Of River or Plain
Can wash away
That mountain of Pain.

So many nights
Unable to dream.
Flashbacks fire
And tears begin to stream.

Scars that shine
In the cracked moonlight.
Open them again
Without a fight.

In my mind, I walk
With shoe-less feet
To my childhood house,
Down that lonely street.

I reach the drive.
Kick the stones.
Look at the mess.
Hate my bones.

Turn around, get out.
Don’t look back.
This is your chance
To bury the black.

Run! Run down
To the end of the road.
Stop. Take a breath.
There’s time to go slow.

I walk through the night
Away from the past.
I can see the dawn
Coming up at last.

This isn’t a race.
There’s no finish line.
Each step is important.
This path is mine.

Sunglasses and Swag

The post office has decided to finally deliver mail from December 2016. So, I found a gift card in a Christmas greeting from a dear, dear lady. Thank you so much, Secret Santa!

Very secret Santa because I didn’t know about it until a few days ago! lol

Grateful nonetheless.

So here’s what I got for myself.

Sunglasses with bling and two necklaces for my daughter and me to share! I feel lucky, blessed and very thankful. Christmas in April! Yay.

I don’t treat myself often, so this was a nice surprise. Plus, I needed a new pair of glasses. I have sun-sensitive eyes as I get older and I keep losing, crushing (sitting on) and dropping my Dollar Store aviators. I’ve broken and lost a couple.

But I’m still mad at the post office. :/ lol I mean, we were missing checks, urgent mail and important correspondence! Dang! What’s the deal, yo??

Bear Fruit

No. Not bear (growling animal) fruit. That would look like this.

bear fruit
Lillian Maggio, age 13-My daughter drew this. LOL

No. As fun as that is, today, I get to bear fruit.

Patience fruit.

I am a budding tree and this is the spring of my seasons. The time for flowers and growth and fruit.

There are several fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, loyalty, gentleness and self-control. Galations 5:22 These fruits are from Jesus’ spirit that he left on Earth to help us. As a kid, I never understood that the Spirit was Jesus’ spirit. I didn’t make the connection. Now I get it. I mean, I understood the trinity, but I just thought that God and Jesus were related and then they have a good friend, Holy Spirit. I mean, I knew that they were all one, but…yeah. Now, I got it.

So, after Jesus ascended, when He went to heaven for the final time (I know it sounds weird, Non-christians!), after a few days, He sent the Spirit. To help us. He promised His followers that He would send the Spirit because Jesus knew we would need help. ‘Cause we are so screwed up. He paid the price for our sins and now lives at the right hand of God. That’s His reward. We are separate now, as He has fulfilled His purpose. When we fulfill our purpose, we can be together. Yes?

I have this strange imagination and when I think of Jesus at the right hand of God, I picture God turning to Jesus and talking about me. They probably do this telepathically. Just FYI. I mean, it’s 2/3 of the trinity. Well. They probably conference-in the Holy Spirit, or something.

“So, tell me more about Martha.”

And what Jesus says is so sweet and kind and generous. Undeserved grace. He tells God,

“Well, Dad, she’s really smart, loving, loyal and caring. But. She’s been hurt. Like, you know, everyone on the planet. She gets angry, impatient, rude, ungrateful and downright hateful.”

God, “Yeah. Got it.”

“But! She really wants to be different. When she prays, she usually means it. And she does love Us.”

God, “Cool.”

God is a lot like former President Barack Obama in my God/Jesus fantasy. lol Idk why.

So, the point of that is, I get that Jesus died for me. He would have died for me even if I was the only person on the planet. That’s pretty specific. I don’t deserve it, I don’t have to earn it, I just inherit the kingdom of God. Boom. Done. Crown. Thanks. Forever.

And I bring this up because the rest of the verse concerning the fruits of the Spirit is this:
Galations 5
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

The last line gets me.
No. 1–I belong to Jesus. (D’aw!!)
No. 2–I have crucified my flesh by belonging to Jesus!

I have hung my sin and flesh on the cross and it has died! I have nailed my desire and passion to the blood-soaked wood and it has passed. Through Jesus, through His spirit.

I get that when God looks at me, because Jesus died in my place, that all God sees is Perfect Martha. Martha scattered/smothered/covered in Jesus. He sees a perfect child. The best Martha I can be. That makes me happy. And much more able to be patient. I mean, Jesus died so that I could be impatient about how long the stoplight takes? No.

Anyway, how long did Christ wait on me? Still waits on me?

I’ve been waiting today. Waiting on everything. Waiting on my husband for 2 hours while he’s getting an eye exam. Waiting on sales clerks, recycling attendants, stoplights, scanners, waitresses, phone chargers, emails, post office employees (grr! <<–there’s that bear fruit again) and endless lists of things and people.

I tried to be patient. But I usually failed.

I mean, I didn’t go crazy on anyone. And I didn’t rag on my husband all day. And I didn’t complain to a manager, call an 800 number or even give someone an obscene look, word or gesture. I certainly didn’t ram my car into the plate-glass window of Discover Vision Center.

I just had impatience circling above my head. Dark and brooding. Hovering and swooping. Preying on my thoughts. Scavenging my kindness. Vulturous and hungry. Sitting on my heart like a black crow. Waiting for me to drop my joy. Picking at my left-over love. Choking down my generosity, leaving bitter bones of resentment. Impatience stole my fruit.

I should be grateful for people, phones and cars. I should be thankful for husband, money and luxury. I should chug down a large glass of gratitude and get on with my day.

I’m trying to remember that I’m not patient. The Holy Spirit is patient. And if I ever successfully exercise the ability to be patient, it is not through my own power.

2 Corinthians 12:9 New Living Translation
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

It is because I allow the Holy Spirit to live inside of me. For Christ to live inside of me. That’s how Christ lives. Through us.

I know some Non-christians don’t understand the living Christ. (I get it, this is another weird one.) But He lives in us. His Spirit continues through us. When we love each other and help each other and do unto each other, we make Jesus live again. That’s the living Christ.

But how many Xians do you know that channel Jesus?

Although. His spirit has lingered for over 2,000 years. Swell and ebb, live and die. The church (# of true Christ followers) and the Spirit, in this world, are like the tides in the sea. High and low, at any given moment. But the ocean remains. His teachings and mark and LOVE remain.

Paul said:
Galatians 5:14 NIV
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

And Jesus said:
John 13:35 NIV
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

I don’t see much love every day, neighbor to neighbor. Can I just say that I love seeing my nasty neighbor picking up her dog’s crap when I arrive home? See. That’s not nice.

I do see love at home though. I see it online. I see it in some of our leaders. I see it around the world. I find it in unexpected places. Sometimes, I don’t find it where I think I should or will. I see people trying though.

Love is still there. The ocean remains.

I will be patient.

No. The Spirit will be patient. I will submit to the Spirit. And I will bear fruit.

Baked Corn Tortillas

I accidentally ordered white corn tortillas from the store. (We have store delivery here in KC from Hy-Vee. Thank God!) So, I looked online for ways to use corn tortillas. They don’t taste good unless you cook them in some way.

I found a simple recipe to bake them and I made the recipe even easier. Take a stack of corn tortillas and cut them into quarters. Two cuts and you’re done. Use a sharp knife. Throw them on a sprayed shallow pan. Spray the tops with the same cooking spray and throw them in a preheated oven at 350°. Bake for 10-15 minutes. That’s it. I took mine out, spread them out on a plate with paper towels in between each layer. You probably don’t even have to. And you don’t have to brown them like I did, above. Super easy!

Enjoy warm or cool. They are better than bagged and healthier, IMO!

Wait! Look at my weight.

I am 352.2 today. 😀 I finally dropped. Ah.

Okay. You can go on with your day. lol

I wonder if I’ve entered simply “morbid obesity” and not super morbid obesity?? Don’t care really! Just a thought. lol I feel so much friggin’ better, y’all. Phew.

Total loss=161 That’s an Amy Schumer.