BOOM – F is for Front

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Aaron started work a year ago at a hotel about ten miles from our home.

He has worked the breakfast shift, been the pool cleaner, done housekeeping and even swept the parking lot during winter snows. Apart from one day when we had a level three snow emergency and he couldn’t leave the house he has never missed a day or been late.

His regular job on Saturday and Sunday is doing the laundry. These are usually busy days and sometimes he has to work overtime. He never complains.

Since school stopped he is now working a full forty hour week. Yesterday he was  excited because he is being trained on the front desk.

He was working night shift starting at eight in the evening and home at four thirty this morning. When he came home I heard the garage door open. He let Dibley out and when I sneaked in to check how it had gone. He was talking to Dibley telling him to be quiet and he’d see him later.

In just one year thanks to this job he has grown in many ways. Not just the basic skills of cooking, cleaning, making beds but also the growth in self confidence that he can make a living and work hard.

It makes us very happy for him and to see him grown into the lovely young man that he is.

Blessing # 371 – Life Lessons

 

BOOM – E is for Eggheads

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There is so much talk in the USA at the minute about low carb diets that we decided we’d give it a go as one of our family experiments.

We are not even for one moment attempting to go Keto and eliminate all carbs as we like our milk and yogurt too much for that.

For the past two weeks though we haven’t had any breakfast cereal, rice or pasta which is like a revolution in our house. Bread has been restricted to just a few occasions and we’ve had potatoes once.

It really is quite a challenge. We have been making morning smoothies, eating lots of salad which is good, fruit is limited largely to tomatoes, oranges and strawberries and we have gone nuts when it comes to snacking. Not a single potato chip, nachos or French Fry has passed our lips.

Desserts are a big challenge. We’ve had strawberries and cream so often we are unlikely to accept any invitation to a Royal garden party in the near future! Sugar free puddings are OK but we did crack a few times and eat ice-cream.

Meat of course is easy especially for a carnivore like Aaron. It’s the old ovoid option though that has become the new staple

We are boiling, frying, scrambling, omeletting even egg drop souping them! They are really quite versatile and with a good dollop of butter or blue cheese dressing quite tasty too.

So what do we miss most? Probably the pasta for Aaron, the rice for Krishna and the spud for me.

We are not counting calories and Krishna and I have stayed stable on weight but Aaron has dropped some. No yolks though we still plan to scramble to beat him through a combination of  diet and eggercise!

Blessing # 370 – Cracking Up!

BOOM – D is for DADS

 

Well that worked out well to have D on Dads Day!

Its lovely to see all the posts of friends and family on this special occasion when we celebrate Fathers.

Some are young and having their first experience of this moment others are old hands at being Dads but will be thinking no doubt where did that time go since that kid was just a baby?

Aaron and his Dad do quite a bit together. Talk politics, shop, cook and take in the world.

Never though have they gone hunting. That is until today.

When Aaron came back from work he found a snake in the garage so off the two went to find the beast.

 

Alas it is still on the loose but has contributed to one of the more memorable Fathers Day “outings”

I’ve just finished reading Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. It is the sequel of To Kill A Mockingbird Bird. A surprising book it gives some more insights into one of the most iconic Fathers in literature Atticus Finch and the relationship he has with his daughter.

 

Aaron and I went to visit Monroeville where Harper Lee lived and wrote these books. This visit made the book even more impactful as it was so easy to picture the scene of each event.

The book uncovers differences in opinions between father and daughter and ends in a huge argument. It is most likely that each of us goes through a similar passage at some point in our lives.

What is reassuring is the role the childless Uncle Jack plays as peace maker. He explains that at some point all children see that their Father is human. This invariably involves some difference of opinion and some friction. The key according to Uncle Jack is to listen and not to run away!

Keep hunting if not for snakes for justice!

Blessing #369 – Growing Together

 

BOOM – C is for Catherine Cambridge

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Downton Abbey the movie is set to come out this September and it would seem the King and Queen will make an appearance. Counting the days!

Who would ever have dreamed back in Downton times or even a few decades ago that our future Queen would be a woman born into a regular middle class family.

The Duchess of Cambridge certainly looks regal when she is all dressed up for state occasions but she is even more beautiful when she has on her jeans and sports boots.

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Always smiling she now seems to be focusing her work on a few major issues including mental health and the importance of getting children outside to play.

Some recent coverage on the iconic British children’s program Blue Peter shows her talking directly to youngsters. She speaks to them in such and endearing way it’s almost as though she is talking to her own kids.

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Many years ago when I was a kid watching this program Princess Anne went on safari with Valerie one of the presenters. For the time this was a real eye opener and we were glued to the TV to see their travels.

Seeing HRH with the children this week fishing for tadpoles and talking about “Froggies” really was  touching. The kindness and gentleness she shows is so genuine.

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She behaves like a lovely Mom not just for her own future king but to everyone in the country.

Blessing # 368 – Fairytale Princess

BOOM – B is for BREWING

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So soon we are back to B but only for today. What better subject for a summers day than the tale of the Belgium monks who are going to start brewing beer again after 220 years.

Its strong stuff that Belgium beer I remember drinking two bottles of it as a student working in Holland and the next thing I knew it was the next day!

A beer on a hot evening is hard to beat though.

When we lived in Connecticut our house was in a forest so it didn’t matter too much what the lawn looked like. I’d cut it on Friday afternoon when we got home from work while Krishna would do the heavy yard work. I absolutely loved to get completely covered in dirt and then stop and drink a Bud. By the time I’d finished a few more may have slipped down the gullet.

Beer may not be everyone’s poison but almost everyone has one brew they love. It might be their morning coffee or maybe a cup of tea.

Whatever the connotation the word BREW brings joy universally and puts a smile on almost every face.

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Why don’t we brew wine? It’s just as sparkly!

Blessing # 367 – Liquid to Love

BOOM – A is for Airlines

Thanks for the comments and suggestions on next steps for Banter.

The one I’m adopting came from our friend and pastor Dave. He had the idea of the alphabet and linking a blessing to a different letter each day.

Well who would have believed what popped up on Facebook this morning! A photo posted three years ago of some fancy footwork in the sky.

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Obvious then what the subject should be Air Travel!

The first memory I have of anyone taking a flight was when I was nine. My Mums brother Hugh who lived in England died and she wanted to go to his funeral. Such was the cost she had to borrow money from another brother Robert to make the trip.

Next time we talked of flying was when a school trip to Switzerland was planned. I was fourteen and the trip cost my Mum and Dad about a months wages but they sent me. We flew to London on British Airways and then to Zürich on Swissair and it was beyond super exciting.

That was just the beginning of many more journeys including a very memorable one that my parents took with me. I was doing my Ph.D at the time and got an award to go to a conference in Amsterdam. My Mum and Dad decided to come too.

We took a puddle hopper from Belfast to Amsterdam. It was the first time in his life that my Dad put foot on a plane and he had that seat belt on so tight he could hardly breathe.

Times have changed so much since the launch of good old Budget airlines like EasyJet and Southwest. Travel is so much more affordable and accessible to many more people. You no longer need to be one of the super rich to think of taking a trip by air. We joke about these airlines sometimes and they even joke about themselves but they do such a great service and have great safety records.

No doubt we each have our favorite airline. Mine happens to combine National Carrier and budget very well. It is good old Aer Lingus.

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Their staff are great. Always extra well groomed Stewards in crisp clean uniforms looking as though they really love to serve you.

Whether  it’s Champagne from Waterford crystal up front with Irish salmon or a glass of white in row 40 with whatever meal is left on the trolley I feel right at home when the shamrock is on the tail!

Blessing # 366 – Opening Skies

BOOM – Booming!

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Today is a big day for Banter. This is Blessing #365.

It has been easy some days to find a blessing on others there has been a need to dig a little deeper.

Quite honestly at the beginning it was just a bit of fun. Progressively it became more of a mission to see if a full year could be achieved.

There is no real focus to the Blog apart from finding a blessing. Maybe that’s enough!

What’s your opinion? Is that the way to go on or is it better to find something more specific to concentrate on?

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Maybe the funniest event of the day? Maybe the progress at the store and the cutest little finds.

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Let me know please what you think and what you like best. Variety or one theme?

The exercise has certainly kept me on the look out for things to talk about and trying to find a Blessing beginning with B has been even more interesting.

Should I stick with B or should I move to another letter?

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Z might be a good one. That should be a mental workout and a half. We might even get a little Zingiber!

Blessing # 365 – Hitting the Target

BOOM – Beasts!

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Having taken pride in my tactics to control them the beasts have returned to humble me once more.

Each bud of the Day Lilies that had grown like weeds was removed with such precision that you could believe it was done by a gardener.

They were just about to bloom too! As if to taunt me they left the stalk as if to say we only want the sweets you can keep your stupid salad.

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All the mint and Irish Spring soap in the world is no deterrent to these rascals. They ate every bud from the mail box all the way to the front door.

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While surveying the wreckage a few neighbors passed by. They were all suffering from the same overnight rampage. It must have been a Big Bucks wedding party or maybe a  celebration of that fawns birth.

One neighbor had captured the ring leader just before dawn today on security camera eating a hibiscus from a planter right on his front door step.

Another had lost every lily bud too and having tried ever solution known to man had given up the battle years ago.

Yet another fearing the next round of damage will be the hostas has applied enough liquid fence that she needs to keep her windows closed to keep the stink out.

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We decided that the only thing to do is chill. The critters will come regardless. The only way around this is to stop planting anything other than plants they won’t touch.

Mint tea anyone?

Blessing # 364 – Community Challenge

BOOM – Better at Below

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The week got off to a great start. The WordPress link with Facebook is fixed. Made me feel guilty as I’d pointed the finger at Aaron when it turned out to be a global Facebook issue. They didn’t explain the bug but I did say sorry.

When Aaron got back from work he went out with Dad to get new charger cables for the iPhones. Those things are about as robust as a stand of spaghetti.

Aaron has tried and tested an infinite number and reckons there is no difference between them. He buys them at a store called Five Below that he and his girlfriend frequent on a regular basis.

Today he got two cables but only realized when he was back home that he had grabbed one that was not for an iPhone. So a quick turnaround to make an exchange was needed. This time I went with him to discover the store he talks so much about.

It is really fun and very well organized just the sort of place teenagers would love. It’s filled with funny T-shirts, beach gear, things for phones and of course makeup, sports stuff and candy!

It has that brightness and sparkle that lifts the spirits, gives you a laugh and doesn’t do too much damage to the old Budget.

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We did a bit of shopping for the upcoming event this weekend but cannot disclose what it is. We hesitated on a pink Buddha but decided we’d hold that for a religious occasion!

Blessing # 363 – Fixed

BOOM – Battling

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Today was our monthly reunion with the Kairos graduates at the Ohio Reformatory for Women.

All of us who participate enjoy this time together reflecting on our faith and encouraging each other.

Some of the ladies have been incarcerated for many years. Typically when asked how they are doing their response is I am Blessed.

As volunteers we are humbled by the grace and faith of these women. Never more so than today.

One of the graduates is a woman in her seventies maybe even eighties and I have come to love her very much. She is an African American woman and has been in prison for many years.

I have no idea why she is there. It is most unlikely our paths would ever have crossed had it not been for Kairos. What I do know for sure is she is truly inspirational and it is an honor to know her. Today I sat with her which is always a joy.

She has been battling cancer for the past three months and today had a catheter in her arm with two ports. Her chemo is going well and she says she is confident that it will be successful because she has beat cancer three times before!

Each time I meet her I wish she could speak to all those outside the walls of this prison who are going through similar experience. Of course she can’t but I trust her determination and experience will be an inspiration to others on the same journey and will give them confidence to battle bravely and win!

Blessing # 361 – Soul Sisters