Friday, September 10, 2010

It Can’t Be That Hard

What is this man doing?


It’s obvious that Snowy is wondering the same thing.


Look at a few pictures and see if you can figure it out. (Note: The watermelon in the middle of the counter has no bearing on the eventual outcome of this project.)

IMG_7853 IMG_7857 IMG_7872 IMG_7874 IMG_7875 IMG_7884


The project required a hole to be cut inside a cupboard . . .


. . . to make a place for this big white thingie to reside.


Steve used this technique to mark the circle he was going to cut. Pretty clever, huh?



Has anyone guessed what his project from two weeks ago was?

Steve installed a reverse osmosis water purifying system. (Water in our area is not the best for drinking.)

I never dreamed that anything could be quite as complicated. However, Steve is seldom cowed by complexity. His famous line when approaching any sort of home/mechanical project is, “It can’t be that hard.”

Well, four hours and one messy kitchen later, Steve had succeeded. Our water is osmosively pure. It tastes great. The kitchen has been put back together.

And Steve is busy looking for a new project. Maybe he’ll consider training a certain daughter as his assistant!


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Steve's Inimitable Take on Marriage

Just as I promised, today I'm featuring a guest writer here at Smithellaneous, one that I am well acquainted with and can recommend to you for wise and insightful advice on marriage. I also happen to know that he is married to a really fabulously wonderful woman.

(And might I just add that if you leave several thousand comments saying how much you enjoyed this piece, he might even be compelled to guest post more often!)

And now, I present to you . . . . Steve Smith.

Ok, so, um Queen Rebecca has asked (commanded?) me to respond to a great question written by a Smithellane-ite about, “How we stay happy together” with associated germane tips and/or advice.

Firstly, our marriage is not perfect; no such marriage exists. But our marriage continues to grow. That-being-said[1], we do hereby and forthwith step down off of any and every pedestal of perfection. Only Jesus gets that prize.

Secondly, both of our parents and their parents were married 50 plus years (some 60 plus years!) before one of them died. That is quite an example. None of them was/is perfect but they were/are committed Christians who also know how it is to “run with feet of clay.”[2] They persevered through hellish times, forgave and put up with each other and overcame daunting obstacles.

Thirdly, Becky and I were friends before the bonfires of romance kindled and we remain best friends to this day. This does not happen by accident, but by intention. “Good marriages may be made in heaven, but they are maintained on earth.”[3]

Fourthly, we have sought out Christian marriage counseling during several seasons of our marriage. The first was during a time when we were stressed by the behavior of others that threatened to tear at our love. And then there was Sarah’s cancer journey. Eighty percent of child-cancer couples divorce. We sought Christian counseling individually and together because the thing was bigger than we. Us. (Not sure which usage is correct.)

Fifthly, we make the bed together almost every day; we learned this from Dr. and Mrs. Charles Cookman, (Charles Cookman is the late leader of our denominational state office. His wife's name started with an “E” but I can’t remember it.[4] I do remember, though, that he always called her “My Queen.”)

Sixthly, we both love words, reading, songwriting, singing and communication in general. This helps to keep conversations lively.

Seventhly, we insist on a family meal, sans electronic entertainments, several times a week. We do our best to ignore the phone during meals, too.

Eighthly, we have both needed forgiveness from each other and have both given forgiveness.

Ninthly, we both try to not nag each other with the little stuff. We praise each other in front of others and never, ever, criticize each other publically, even in fun.

Tenthly, we have both learned to laugh at ourselves.

Eleventhly, I like the sound of this word. It kind of bunches up on the tongue when I say it. Maybe I just made it up. Hopefully I will receive royalties from Webster’s Dictionary for it.

Twelfthly, we are both committed to helping the other to fulfill their dreams and God-given potential. (Hey, Beck. . . about that two seat roadster. . .and the flying lessons. . . )

Thirteenthly, we waited a few years after marriage to have kiddiwinkies. This helped us to get to know each other and to do some growing up. Which we needed.

Fourteenthly, we do not bring up negative stuff at the dinner table. Dinner is a time of renewal, celebration, rest and connection. (This one could have been part of the seventhly part, but I’m getting paid by the word.)

Fifteenthly, we write stuff in our greeting cards to each other at birthdays, holidays, etc. How can I expect Hallmark to know what I want to say? Besides those cards are often filled with smarmy rhymes.

Sixteenthly, we have maintained healthy boundaries with extended family.

Seventeenthly, I am willing to go to a chick flick with her and she will go with me to see things blow up. However, she does prefer that the action flicks have character development. (Huh? Is that even possible?)

Eighteenthly, we are both active listeners and actively listen to each other; though she is better at it than I am.

Nineteenthly, I’m almost done.

Twentyteenthly, we discuss purchases with each other to help keep the spending in line.

Twentyoneteenthly, . . .this is how my sermons end. They just kinda wind down and peter out, generally leaving the congregation either stunned or comatose.

Twentytwoteenthly, I’m done.

[1] Dashes are one of my hobbies because they are cheap. . . for that matter so are ellipses.

[2] I’ve no idea who said this, but it makes me feel spiffy to do another footnote: collegiate-like, ya know?

[3] Author unbeknownst; I wish I had thought of it. If no one else claims it; I made it up.

[4] Oh, I remembered while trying to think of a witty fortheenthly; her name is Esther.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Special Surprise Guest Writer Coming Soon!

Check back in here on Thursday for a memorable post on marriage by a special guest writer. I don't want to reveal this person's identity too soon so I'm just going to give you a couple little hints.

His initials are . . . um . . . Steve Smith.

Did that give it away? Did you guess? Was that too much info? Hmmmm?

Well, come back again soon and see if you were right!

The Dreaded Willy-Nilly Non-Effective Rebooting Experience. And Questions and Answers.

Hurray!  I’m back online again! No more having to drive over to the church to check e-mail and post blog entries.  I am exceedingly happy to be back in business!

A couple of you had left suggestions about rebooting everything to get back online and you were exactly right with that advice.  However, I learned from our favorite computer guru that there is actually a certain order in which the rebooting has to be done.  Yesterday, I tried rebooting it all willy-nilly and got absolutely no results except for one continually, recalcitrantly, non-Internetted computer.

And so, in order to save you from the Dreaded Willy-Nilly Non-Effective Rebooting Experience, here are the step-by-step instructions in case you ever have need of them.  Thanks again, Wyatt, for once more pulling me out of the Computer Black Hole Of Abysmal Ignorance.  (Believe me, that hole is rather deep as evidenced the fact that he had to describe to me what the modem looked like!)

  • The small, square, black unit is the 'modem'  -- it requires a small, black, power cord, the telephone line from the wall outlet, and the yellow Ethernet cable.
  • The yellow cable then plugs into the WAN port on the back of the 'router'. This should leave 4 LAN ports open (next to each other labeled 1, 2, 3, 4).
  • Once all of the cables are connected properly, turn the power OFF to everything.
  • Now, start the process in sequence.
  • 1 - turn on the (black) modem only. When all of the lights are on steady, go to step 2
  • 2 - turn on the router. Allow the lights to come on before the next step.
  • 3 - after all lights are on, now turn on the computer and try to connect to the Internet.

And bingo!  I had wireless service again!


I haven’t answered questions/comments for a few days, so I’ll do that today.

Recycling/Garage Cleaning Post

Lesley said, “Can you get your car in the garage now? Around here, everyone's garages are jam packed with stuff and no one can get their car in them.  PS.  I am enjoying the bicycle hanging from the ceiling!”

Lesley, I’m afraid that our garage is barely large enough to fit a vehicle into, even when it’s completely empty.  So although I wish it were large enough for our cars, I’m just thankful to have a garage at all because it makes for a great extra storage room.

And as for the bike hanging from the ceiling, that’s an “extra” bike that someone gave to us.  We keep it around for when we have friends or family come to visit. 

Anonymous said, “Where I live (Ithaca, NY) . . . you have to buy sheets of "trash stickers" at the grocery store and affix them to the bags you put out for collection. If you haven't got a tag, they won't pick it up. Also, if you try to cheat and put out more trash than the tag covers, they stick a big fat "REJECTED" sticker on it. There's nothing more abject than having your refuse refused!

I LOVE that line about “nothing more abject than having your refuse refused.”   Yes, I guess that’s about as bad as it gets—having your garbage rejected!

GS in Canada wrote, “Thanks for all your comments on my question, everyone. It has been really interesting for me to compare the differences and it seems like while most people have the option of recycling, it is not always mandatory in most districts. That is a bit of a surprise to me, but I would have to assume that things are headed in that direction.

Someone mentioned the resistance that these recycling programs create where they introduced and required. I totally agree. I was not an easy convert, but I could never go back. Even when I travel, I have a hard time not separating garbage!”


GS, thanks for summing up the whole recycling issue so well and thanks to ALL of you shared your recycling experiences from whatever state or country you live in.  I was amazed at how different things are from place to place, town to town, and state to state.   It’s quite encouraging to hear how many places really are taking the whole recycling thing a lot more seriously.

Hurricane/Camera Post

Lesley said, “What a bummer about the camera! I know exactly how you feel. It's like this 'force' : A picture must be taken!! What is that? And why do some people feel it and some people don't?

Lesley, I so agree with what you said about feeling that “a picture must be taken.”  And it is so funny that some people have that feeling and other people don’t.   I think that in a perfect world, I would have a camera surgically attached to my right hand so I’d be ready every single moment of every day!

(Let me just mention that Lesley has a wonderful blog chronicling her journey with her 14-year old daughter, Sarah, who is a beautiful young lady with special needs.  So many times, cancer kids--like our Sarah--get all the attention and all the sympathy and all the articles written about them.  But there are so many other children—those with autism, cerebral palsy, etc., who deserve that spotlight every bit as much.  Stop by the blog and enjoy Lesley’s wonderful photography and her inspiring love for her daughter.)

Anonymous wrote, “Glad you are heading inland. Did you have to board up your windows or is that just people on the oceanfront that need to do that?

No, we didn’t board up our windows and didn’t really see anyone else in Manteo doing it, either.  It could be that people only board up windows when there’s a Cat 4 or 5 storm headed their way.  I’m sure that’s one of the things we’ll learn all about as we go along.

“The Gods Must Be Crazy” DVD

Lizz said, “I remember that movie! It was always on TV while I was growing up! My brothers & I watched it so many times! Did Sarah like it?”

Yes, Sarah loved it.  She had no idea what to expect since it’s pretty hard to describe that movie to anyone.  But she was quite entranced by it, and laughed rather uproariously.

“The Aroma of Yesterday” Post

Becky from the UK said, “If you love historic buildings, you really should come to the UK at some point - where I live in what we call 'the Midlands', there are settlements dating back to the bronze age - the town I live in is one such area, and we have a church from the 13th century, a market house from the 16th century and residential houses ranging from pre-Victorian to modern new builds “

Becky, I am so jealous!   I would love to see buildings from the 13th and 16th centuries. Sarah has been saying she would love to go to England for her graduation from High School celebration; it is truly one of our dreams to travel to your wonderful country.


Happiness Post

Stacy asked, How do you and Steve stay happy together? Have any tips or advice? Thanks.

Stacy, that’s a complicated (but good) question.  In fact, I’m not even going to answer it right now because I want to give it a bit more thought.  More on that in a day or two . . .

Alrighty then!  That’s about it.  If you’re still reading, thanks for hanging in there.  I’ll “reward” you with a couple Snowy/Sarah pictures I found in my my archives yesterday.  They make me smile!


Sarah and dog DSC07190 IMG_0006 IMG_0137 P1010009 P1010034 P1010120 


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Broken Technology. Torqued Tails. Nathan.

Technology-wise, this has not been a great week.

About a week ago, Sarah’s computer lost its ability to go online. A couple days later my (dearly beloved) camera broke. Then today I was trying to plug Sarah’s computer directly into the modem thingie to see if it would go online that way. (It wouldn’t.) In the process of plugging, unplugging and re-plugging, I obviously committed an egregious technological sin that was unforgivable by the Internet Powers That Be because now I am suddenly unable to go online with MY computer!


I’m writing this blog entry at home on my laptop; in a little while, I’ll drive over to the church to access the Internet and post the entry there.

I love technology but sometimes it really gets my goat!

And speaking of goats, after being diagnosed with a “torqued tail” yesterday, Snowy is feeling a bit better today. (I know, I know. Goats have nothing in common with Snowy but I just felt like throwing a non sequitor at you.)

We have him on pain meds, which are doing pretty well at keeping him comfortable. Our biggest challenge at the moment though is not stepping on the Official Snowy Tail. Which normally points up. And is now pointing down. In fact, it’s not just pointing down, it’s actually dragging the ground. And since he has a habit of shadowing my footsteps whenever I cook, I am attempting to adopt the (unaccustomed) graceful, flowing movements of a ballerina in my fervent maneuverings to avoid Snowy’s own personal tail.

Here are a few (archived, pre-torqued) shots of the Torqued-Tail Dog and his Assorted Untorqued Two Siblings.





Um. May I just make one little teensy comment about how handsome, wonderful, marvelous and amazing that I think that fellow in the above picture is?

And may I just say that I really just sort of like him? Quite a lot?

You know, he and Sarah have caused me to love just about everything about being a mom--except for one little ol’ thing. The one horrid part of being a mom is that eventually those small and extremely cute infants morph into toddlers, then into children, then into teens, then . . . sigh . . . into college students. And then they go away. Which seems to be what happened to this particular Smith kid.

Can you believe that this Particular Smith Kid is going to be turning twenty-one years old on September 18th?

Twenty. One.

An adult. A real live, unmitigated adult. A grown up. A man. A “used-to-be-a-kid” person.

Throughout the past six months or so, Nathan has found that being a young adult can be sort of tough. After investing a whole lot of effort, he never was able to land a summer job and now, although he’s working a few hours a week in the mailroom at college, he’s still trying to find a second job to help make up for not having had a job all summer.

And then the air conditioner on his car just quit. Which is not a big deal if you live in Maine but if you live in Florida? It’s sorta hot there.

But even with all of that going on, Nathan still had the big brother, big hearted generosity to send his little sis a card and $20 for her birthday. Do you know how much $20 is for a struggling college student? It’s a lot, that’s how much! (Nathan’s girlfriend, Meagan, also included a gift for Sarah in the card—she is a wonderfully thoughtful young lady.)

If you’ll look on the left side of the card, you can see that Nathan took the time to fill almost the entire thing with a very sweet, heartfelt message to his little sister. Sarah, Steve and I stood around the kitchen reading it and got all teary-eyed and sentimental over it.

Have I mentioned that I like him quite a lot?

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If you’d like to send Nathan a card for his Big Birthday, his address is:

Nathan Smith

Southeastern University

1000 Longfellow Blvd.

Box 1724

Lakeland, FL 33801

Well, I guess that about sums it up for today. Snowy (Torqued Tail) Smith and I are getting ready to hop in the van and pick up Sarah from school after which I’ll head on over to the church to post this blog entry.

And after that, I’ll start cooking dinner while all the while concentrating on my lovely ballet moves which will hopefully keep me from stepping all over a certain torqued tail.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Camera Update

Just wanted to let you all know that a Camera Solution is in the works. I'll let you know more later in the week.

So. Very. Very. Happy.

A Tail of One Doggy

Snowy hasn't had a real good morning.

He was up with Sarah in her room and when she picked him up to carry him downstairs, he got it into his (very small) brain that it would be a fine idea for him to jump out of her arms. So he did. And landed on his backside with a great whimper and a wail.

And then his tail just hung down on the floor, all drooped and draggy, and he wasn't able to lift it or move it. He didn't seem to be in a whole lot of pain but was very agitated and couldn't sit down without popping right back up again.

Sarah, of course, felt terrible about it, and was crying over the fact that her little buddy had gotten hurt while on her watch. After two hours, when Snowy wasn't getting any better, Steve finally put them both into the car and took off for the vet, who was thankfully open until noon, even on Labor Day.

After the vet had examined Snowy she said that his tail could be broken and if it was, they might have to amputate it. Well, those are distressing words for a young "dog mommy" to have to hear and Sarah got even more upset. Steve brought her back home while they were sedating a very agitated Snowy in order to hold him still for x-rays.

So I was here at home, comforting Sarah and wondering how much an amputation would be and wondering how much money we could justify putting into our little guy, after paying for his hugely expensive kidney stone surgery last fall. (Sarah, bless her heart, offered to help pay for his treatment.)

Finally Steve called the house with good news. Snowy's tail wasn't broken, it was only "torqued." (The vet's words.) He'll need stay on pain meds awhile and in about a week, the tail should gradually sort itself out.

When Steve and Snowy arrived home a few minutes later, they were greeted by two dithering, doting females. Of course, Snowy wasn't aware of much of anything--his little, pink tongue was hanging out a little and, although his eyes were open, he wasn't seeing much. Sarah immediately scooped him up from Steve and hasn't let go of him since that moment. They're currently up in her room, snuggling in her big chair.

Because, as we all know, snuggling is the best medicine possible.

So thankful the lovely tail will remain!

Sunday, September 5, 2010