Posted in Family, Forgiveness, Running

Forget and Forgive: Leaving Behind iPhone Chargers

imageThis is a little story about leaving behind phone chargers.  How many of you have done this?  I bet if I could magically retrieve every forgotten charger, I could stretch out the cords to lasso the moon.

Last weekend my husband, two teenage daughters and several family friends traveled to Hershey to watch our Meadville Boys’ Basketball Team compete in the state championship game.  Neither Harry nor I are big basketball fans, but we wanted our kids to get to experience this event with friends and support their team.  It was a quick, pricey trip, and even though Meadville lost, we had a great weekend away together.

Moments after our five hour drive back home, Cara realized that both she and her sister, Elena, left their chargers at our hotel. My husband’s charger broke, so among the four of us, we only had one to share, mine.  

Who can count how many times my kids and their friends leave chargers places?  I can’t really scold my girls though, since my husband and I both leave a trail of various other things behind us.  It’s very frustrating to be a forgetful family, but we’re all working on it. The biggest consequence is losing an item and having to waste time searching for it or paying to replace it, which my girls did and will continue to do.

Since Elena’s phone was at 23% battery power, and she was leaving the house soon, she recharged first.  Cara was at 9% and wanted it before her phone died.  An outrageous battle initiated by Cara over the coveted charger broke out, so I confiscated her phone.  

Cara is typically calm, especially over something as trivial as battery percentage, but she couldn’t control her mood.  After all, she is merely the full-time daughter of a part-time sunshine who is prone to heated temperaments.  I’m sure being up all night hanging with friends during our getaway was the cause of some of her irritability, so I’m certain she suffered what I call: SLEEPOVER-HANGOVER.  Crashing after too much fun is no excuse to mistreat our household though.  

After a busy, exhausting trip, running was not on my agenda, but that’s what I did shortly after unpacking all of our stuff.  I was angry over the petty sibling rivalry especially after treating them to a good time that was all about them.  Ungrateful, I thought, as I laced up a new pair of running shoes and ran six miles away from our bad moods.  

It was one of my fastest and strongest 10ks, and I chalk it up to my adrenal gland anger more than the new Asics.  Exercise is the best way to exorcise my own unquiet spirits.  Thank God I can recharge by plugging into an endorphin outlet (More about this in a future blog.)  

I raced back home and entered a serene scene.  My girls befriended each other again, our dog snored on Harry’s lap, and the drained phone rested on the counter along with the silly yet sincere notes from Cara.  The source of her apologetic inspiration came from this recent meltdown over a forgotten phone charger.  

“I’m sorry for being a butthead, fam.  I love you all.  I don’t even have an excuse today since it’s Saturday, and I am only a walrus on Tuesday, Friday, and sometimes Monday.  But on Saturdays, I am a jar of peanut butter, so this one was all my fault.  I made multiple mistakes, and I apologize for them.  I hope you can forgive me and like your gifts!    —Love Cara”

In our house, arguments and outbursts happen.  Thankfully, remorse and apologies do too. These notes and re-gifts (i.e. batteries, candle, and lotion from our kitchen junk drawer) were a funny, endearing way for our teen to end the quarrel and recharge our home with peace and forgiveness.  

Posted in Nature, Springtime

Dear Mother Nature…I Must Voice this Complaint

Dear Mother Nature,

I want to start by saying I love you and all that you do, but I must voice this complaint from Northwestern PA. Three days ago, the calendar marked the start of spring, yet I woke to a fresh layer of snow.  Also you blew my garbage can over, again; you did that two weeks ago and caused me a lot of problems, remember?  In case you forgot, read White Trash All Over the Place.  

I know you have localized weather-helpers all over the world to sprinkle out the appropriate temperatures, precipitation, and wind chill, so the newbie in charge of the Crawford County area is not doing her job! I fear she may have seasonal affective disorder, like so many of my neighbors craving vitamin D.  I hope your employee can get out of this confusing slump where she drops snowshine instead of sunflakes.

As a part-time sunshine, I would help, but I’ve been laid off for months due to budget cuts.  They won’t recharge my sunrays until my job is reinstated.  I know you’re busy, but I would be grateful if you would put in a word to put more of us back in the sky.  My territory demands extra sunshines, and I’m ready to get back up there and do my thing.   

Anyhow, please help her heat the thermometer and send us some blooms, bluer skies, and bunnies. The only bunnies I have gotten near are chocolate ones, and I fear I’ll keep eating off their ears (the best part) if I don’t get some genuine spring weather here!

Thank you for your time and concern.  I look forward to a warmer forecast after you expedite a solution to this seasonal mix up.

Your loyal friend,

(Part-Time) Sunshine

P.S. I would appreciate you keeping this complaint confidential.  Your staff member may become my superior, and I don’t want to cause any dissent.  

Posted in Nature, Springtime

Hello, Springtime Greens. Goodbye, Winter Blues.

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Rebirth! Resurrection! Revival! What a wonder spring is. After slipping, sloshing, and slugging through another Northwestern Pennsylvania winter, I am thankful that we woke to the calendar start of a new season. So long, Winter.  Ba-Bye!!!

Heartwarming octaves of brave birds filled the morning.  It’s amazing how strong feathers and chirps are. Through the part-time sunshine, the snow burnt like marshmallows, melting into the grass of our future picnics. This splendid foreshadowing of warm blooms is sloppy, but it’s the start, a sign of winter’s end.

Free ice cream is another sign of the new season as many dairy huts and ice cream chains gave a free scoop, cone, or shake to hopeful repeat customers.  

Longer days, warmer temps, melting snow, frozen treats, busy birds, sublime singing, Spring is NOW our air. Open the windows of your heart, soul, and eyes to avoid missing its parade of blossoms, fragrances, and flavors. Wishing you longer spring days you dreamed of!

Name five of your favorite spring things?  Mine are:

  1. Strappy sandals and flip flops
  2. Mother nature’s rainbow spread all over gardens, fields, bushes, and trees
  3. The smell of fresh cut grass
  4. Seasonal fruit that tastes like candy
  5. Lenten Orthodox songs and services

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Birds on a Branch – Courtesy of SafariWallpaper.com

Posted in Review, Shopping

Is your Refrigerator Running? It was until you “fixed” it.

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After five weeks of recent Sears Warranty battles, we finally got a replacement refrigerator. The original was only seven years old but was irreparable.  I have a home warranty through Sears that I pay 39.99 a month for. In the end, I’m relieved that I got a new fridge, but this warranty has been far from hassle free.  

First of all, I feel like I was duped into purchasing this plan.  I called Sears last fall to set up a repair for my washing machine (another broken seven-year-old appliance).  At that time, I was offered this amazing plan that would cover appliances and items I didn’t even buy from Sears.  Yes, the nice lady named Barb said it would cover the microwave I got elsewhere and the swimming pool that came with the house.  If I would have asked if it covered my kids’ orthodontics, I’m sure she would have said yes.  

She was a smooth talker and had a quick answer to my myriad of questions, so before I set up the repair, I agreed to be transferred to the warranty department to hear more of the spiel.  Although it sounded too good to be true, I signed up. I was a sucker, a Dum Dum, a Chupa Chup.  

I quickly realized this warranty and service was bunk when Paul the washer repairman finally came to fix the leaking machine. The repair was given a window of sometime during my kids’ childhoods between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.  I needed to wait by my cell phone, landline, ipad, and laptop to get a more precise day and time; they never seemed to use the same contact twice. What a pain it is to be available at their convenience.  

Well Paul came on a Friday, diagnosed the machine, ordered some parts, and came back a week later. We were given the same window of time, so either my husband or I had to take time off of work to be home while Paul worked his handyman magic. It would have been swell if  he fixed it during this second Friday visit, but that weekend the machine leaked again.  When he finally returned the following Wednesday, he accused me of overloading the machine and told me to use the heavy-duty feature at all times.  He tweaked something with a wrench and left.  The leaking stopped, but ever since Paul “fixed” it, I can’t use the light-load dial, an option that I chose to conserve energy and time.  

Annoyed, I called to cancel the warranty and just pay for whatever Paul did or didn’t do.  It was too late though, and I was stuck to the agreement like chewed bubblegum.  I was responsible to pay my monthly fee of 39.99 for twelve months.  Whether I wanted it or not, my funds would be withdrawn from my checking account anyhow.  IMG_0860

Fast forward to January.  The freezer and ice maker from our refrigerator unit (from Sears) broke, so I used the sticky warranty. The first available appointment ended up being on Serbian Orthodox Christmas Eve, Friday, January 6th.   My husband had to stay home and wait for John (not Paul), so I made the 90 mile trip alone each way to visit my family and church and then return to be with mine on Christmas.

This was a great inconvenience, especially since John (not Paul) didn’t even show up! The only notification we were given that this appointment was cancelled, was via email where it stated a new one was scheduled the following week!  Everyone we called about this had no answer for the repairman’s absence.  Another week of living out of our coolers.  

John came next Friday and said he had no idea why someone didn’t show last week.  I’m sure he was “someone” but didn’t say it.  Anyhow, he diagnosed the freezer, ordered some parts, and planned to return when they came in.  The following Friday, he spent the entire day “fixing” the unit.  He admitted to running into trouble since the two hour job turned into six.  He said to give the freezer a night to cool down and we could use it in the morning.  

Oh my my!  Do you know what happened next?  I woke to a warm freezer and even warmer fridge. Since NOTHING was wrong with the refrigerator until John touched it, it was still packed with food.  All of our groceries were ruined!  John nor Sears was responsible for the spoiled food that we had to throw away. It’s all in the warranty, you see.  

My husband and I made several calls and emails and got nowhere with the food replacement.  Food vouchers could not be awarded.  They suggested we turn it into our homeowner’s insurance.  I was afraid of premium increases for making a claim, so we ate (uhh, not ate) our losses.  How unfair is that?  A repairman breaks the thing that preserved my food and he isn’t responsible for the resulting loss which would have been a couple hundred dollars, easy.   

The other problem was that no servicemen were available until, you guessed it, next Friday! At this point, I requested a whole new fridge, but this couldn’t happen until John or Paul or some other dingleberry came back to assess it for another repair. This is the jargon from the terms and conditions:

How long will it take to repair or replace a covered item?

Once the service technician diagnoses the failure and the item is deemed eligible for coverage, repairs/replacements are usually completed within 1-5 business days, depending on the item to be repaired.

At one point, a customer service rep seemed genuinely concerned like she could help, and I had a glimmer, a blink, a wink of hope.  She put me on hold, go figure, and came back to say sorry.  Then she asked what else she could do for me. I politely told her to unplug her fridge for the night and requested she call me back in the morning. She never called.  I bet she didn’t even unplug her unit.  She probably went on serving Popsicles, unspoiled meat, and fizzy drinks with ice cubes.

A week later, John (UGH! Him again!) came back to attempt to fix his mistake. After four more hours of trying, he finally put the “cannot repair” seal on the deal.  Whoa!  He apologized but didn’t replace the food.  I thought I was being sly by taking pictures of his work truck to score the contact for John’s boss, but I was duped again!  The number was an alternate to the Sears Home Warranty Center and I talked to no boss.  I’ve had it with automated operators and incompetent customer service reps.  

It took another week to send out a replacement fridge, one comparable to the original discontinued unit.  So far so good and everything has been chilling with the new model, thankfully.  Maybe because it was delivered on a Thursday, not a Friday.  I’m satisfied with the refrigerator, but aghast at the time, food, and energy wasted on this claim.  When did groceries, appliances, and customers become so disposable?  

Are there any warranties out there that are hassle free?  

Posted in Inspiration, Review

The Shack: Part-Time Sunshine’s Review

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Like millions of readers, I enjoyed the bestseller The Shack by William P. Young.  Eight years ago it was a title chosen in my book club. This story profoundly stuck with me since, and I give the book 10/10 Shines.

Yesterday, I went to the movie theater and saw the film version of The Shack directed by Stuart Hazeldine.  I wasn’t sure how the film would live up to the book  (a reader’s constant concern), but I think it did it justice and give the film 9/10 Shines.  The pieces extracted and played out from the book worked for me on the screen.  

With that said, I recommend reading the book before seeing the movie. If you are looking for a better appreciation and comprehension of the multi-riddled, bizarre concepts of faith then this is the starting point.  Please note that this is not true dogma or theology and is a work of fiction. Even though The Shack is made up, I still think it conveys profound life lessons:

To try to be good

To avoid judging

To love all including enemies

To know you’re not alone

To forgive others

To forgive yourself

To have faith and hope

To be open to healing

The main character, Mack suffers the unfathomable loss of his little girl who gets abducted and is brutally murdered. His greatest pain comes from the guilt that he couldn’t protect her.  He is angry at the God he blames for letting this tragedy happen.  In the midst of his relentless grief, Mack ends up having an unexplainable, mystical experience to soften and soothe his darkened heart.

The Shack can be coined as religious, spiritual, hokey or all of the above.  The vision that Mack has can be viewed as a dream, a miracle, or a bump on a head from a tornado blown house (whoops, wrong story, but still another inspirational one.)  My vision of God doesn’t match Mack’s vision, but as a reader and viewer I don’t feel pressured to believe how he does.  

As a Christian, I am captivated by Mack’s journey to confront the haunting permanence of his daughter’s death.  I don’t know what in this mortal world, besides faith in another world–a better world like Heaven–would ever help me personally heal from such a thing.    

As a mother, I can’t imagine this heinous disaster, and the truth is, I’m not sure I could even begin to forgive something like this on my own; I am human and therefore a judge of good and evil.  The story pulls from the Bible and claims that God will judge and deal appropriately with all the wrongdoers.  This is hard to just accept in the face of tragedy, but I believe it is possible.  In this regard (and many others), The Shack could serve others as a resource of hope and fortitude.  

One of my biggest takeaways from The Shack has been the concept of the Holy Spirit as breath and wind.  When I became a runner, I embraced this notion.  I like to think I am out there wrapped up in the Holy Spirit.  

The Shack reiterates the Christian concept of a good God who is omniscient who is everywhere at all times.  Mack’s vision gives him a tangible way to feel and believe in the Trinity which is revealed to him in a multitude of ways: as a man or woman of any age or race; as an amazing garden or weeds of wildflowers; as a perfect meal, as a stick of poison (when alone, it’s deadly, but when combined with something else it heals), as the wind, as feelings, emotions, and knowledge.

Viewing The Shack inspired me to be a more vigilant and active Christian during this Lenten Season. The reminders of how to fight the good fight as a sinner are all there. 

On a personal note, I’d like to add that human beings crave living proof, yet faith is a belief that is not proven.  I think if you are open to accepting it, signs that inspire faith happen.  I have personally experienced God in unconventional ways too.  He has shown up just when I needed him in nature, music, and a plant that should have died ten deaths by now.  If I told you I last saw my father as a black butterfly, you may believe or doubt me, but it doesn’t matter.  This is my miracle which I find great comfort in. I have faith that it’s the most beloved of all the signs I’ve ever had from God.

What miracles have you experienced?  Share and help others shine on!

Posted in Health and Wellness, Running, Winter Blues

Get Outdoors!

Last week, I got slammed with a case of germ induced cruds: sinus headaches, dizziness, stuffy ears, dripping nose, coughing, and fatigue.  After seven days, I took action, laced up and made myself run, OUTDOORS.

I dreaded it and said so, and Elena, my twelve year old daughter, asked me why I was doing something I didn’t want or have to; I explained that life is filled with doing things we don’t want to but should because they are good for us.  This was my mini-lesson in self-discipline.   

I got out there and found stores of strength that I felt depleted of and was able to go four miles. I am pleased to report that after my run, my energy surged, my week-long headache disappeared, and I found clarity in my head.

Exerted movement is invigorating. Being outdoors can be too. Moving outside is healing, therapeutic, and medicinal. I must always remember this to battle the winter blahs of Northwestern Pennsylvania where snow comes and goes from October to April.

If you are struggling with any health or wellness issues, I swear by a little extra time outdoors. While there: move a bit, listen to some music, play with a pet, walk with your kids, talk to yourself, pray for your soul, restore your health, resurrect your zest, thank nature, keep your senses open, and seek wellness.

May the rest of your winter be filled with days of exuberance, outside painkillers, and thoughts to cheerlead you to personal health and wellbeing.

 

Posted in Recycling, Winter Blues

White Trash all over the Neighborhood

March 1st, 2017, certainly came in like a lion, roaring with windstorms and drooling with downpours.  Our neighborhood was strewn with broken tree limbs and debris.  Our driveway even caught a dismembered piece of soffit from our next door neighbor’s roof.  

It was garbage and recycling day and ours and many others’ receptacles were knocked out by Mother Nature. With their lids wide open, they lay like corpses in puddles of their own filth.

That morning I had just enough time to pick up our fallen cans and the spewed out trash bags before Marc the garbageman arrived.  On my way to work, the sky kept gushing out, pelting off of  the many 35 gallon trash cans still tipped over. It would be a tough day for the sanitation department.image

When I returned home, I put on my rain boots and headed out to pick up our sticks and
litter. Thankfully, the rain stopped and the sun peeked, but the wind still blasted. I was surprised to see so many loose papers all over my yard and beyond. It looked like a copy machine exploded.

As I started filling a small grocery bag, I realized that the papers all over our yard and beyond were from our computer desk. My husband cleaned out the clutter and threw the remnants in a big cardboard box. These scraps were my old lesson plans, homework, manuscript drafts, and other unneeded printouts. He dumped them into our big blue recycling bin right before wheeling it up to the top of the driveway.  Like a responsible recycler, he broke down the box that held the papers, neatly folded it, and slid it down into the bin. Who knew the bin would collapse and release our refuse like a fleet of airplanes?  

WE were the source of the neighborhood white trash, and our names, mostly mine, were written all over it. Yep, I went up a house to examine their pinetree that I hoped was decorated with crumpled origami doves.  No such luck!  I plucked and peeled away “Donna Lucas’s Lesson Plans” from our homeschooling neighbor’s property. The next house, got a mixture of my memoir and poetry; at least that stuff had my pen name, D.S. Lucas.  

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A Poem in a Tree, Poet-Tree

Because of the rain, the paper stuck like postage stamps to neighbors’ windows, houses, and sheds. I had to get a bigger bag and recruit my family to help.  I felt like we were on an Easter egg hunt, but there was no reward of jelly beans.  After 100 pieces of paper, I stopped counting and started swearing, in numbers, but that didn’t mother-fiving work. (FYI – It’s the kick off of Lent and I’m trying to give up swearing.  I guess I will have to tack on an extra day and start over tomorrow. Dammit, Donna!)

After slogging through eight muddy yards for over an hour, I’m pretty sure we retrieved it all and secured it in recyclable bags tied in a knot (what a novel idea.)  I even picked up a smashed grape pop can that I know was not ours. Just call me the good samaritan, the neighbor who will Adopt a Highway in her own backyard.  

Happy March.  As I watch another snow globe display out my window, I look forward to this month going out like a lamb and gracing us with litter-free lawns (and trees), perfect for Easter egg hunts, jellybeans included.