Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

31/Oct/2017
by Denise Krebs
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Serenity

My one word for 2017

Serenity.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

This is my third blog post this year about my one little word–serenity. I introduced my word in January, and shared an update here this summer.

Today I feel encouraged because I chose to be committed to a couple of small things this summer, and those commitments are adding to my well being, my sense of serenity.

I decided to choose two goals that would possibly help me have more peace about the things I cannot change–particularly the politics of the United States at this time in our history. My goals:

  1. Take a challenge to read 40 books during the school year.
  2. Write 750Words at the start of each new day.

They seem fairly unrelated to our political climate. However, in 2016 and half of 2017, I was spending way too much time watching and reading political news. Instead I decided to read and write.

Recently, on 750Words, I broke my previous record of 62 days in a row, set in 2011. Today, I was up to 74 straight days.

It’s interesting how some outside lead measures have helped me to find serenity the second half of this year. Instead of searching for serenity, though, I write in the mornings, often praying for others and counting my blessings–10,000 reasons to say thank you.

In addition, I’ve read 7 books since school started, almost on par for my 40-book challenge. The frozen sea within me is getting chipped away.

I don’t have as much time for the news nowadays. Perfect. Instead of trying to say no to the drama and toxicity of our politics, as I had for so many months. I have said yes to writing, reading, praising, and reflecting. As a result I have more serenity.

 

17/Oct/2017
by Denise Krebs
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The Time of My Life

I nod my thanks to the driver of the black Yaris as I pull out of the side lane in front of him. “Go ahead. You can go in front of me,” he says silently. The busy mother with a young child at each hip hurries through the crowd to get to the bus stop on time. The girls’ starched uniform pinafores move like great church bells, their scurrying legs the clappers.

I’m sitting at the red light listening to the music my husband put onto the USB. Usually I don’t pay much attention to what’s playing, but this morning, this time, this song had such a sweet and melancholy effect on me. It is “Time of Your Life” by Green Day.

I thought of the story that brought us to Bahrain. We were in our late 50’s. No need to make such a radical change, right? But we did. It was so unpredictable. From the beginning it’s been right. Just right. A chance to meet and love people from scores of different countries. From backgrounds, languages, and cultures so radically different than mine. I’m learning so many lessons day by day. This sweet song spoke to me today.

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life

So take the photographs, and still-frames in your mind
Hang it on the shelf of good health and good time
Tattoo’s of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it’s worth, it was worth all the while
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life

Normally I walk to school, but today I drove because I needed the car after school. It’s just a 5-minute walk, so I always know if I will be on time when I walk out the door. However, when I drive I need to leave 20 minutes earlier to make it on time. Today, I missed the 20-minute mark. I was on the road at 6:48. Only 12 minutes to drive less than 1 kilometer. I share the road with many others–adults hurrying to work, delivery men loaded with parcels, parents and drivers darting with their young charges to get them to school on time.

As I sat in the long lineup of cars a few blocks from my school, my friend and colleague Victoria  walked by. She didn’t see me, and I didn’t even bother to roll down the window and holler at her to hop in for a ride the rest of the way to school. I actually considered how I might ditch my car and walk with her the rest of the way to school so I wouldn’t be so late.

The music played on. I listened to the Green Day song twice, and two other songs started and finished by the time I pulled into the lot behind school. I punched in about 5 minutes late. Not too bad actually.

I added to my photographs this morning–the still-frames in my mind that I take with me. So many beautiful images. The grandfather pushing the baby in the pram, as he lovingly gazed at the baby’s face more than the bumpy sidewalk he traveled on. The lanky fellow who tripped and stumbled a bit when he stepped off the curb. He caught my eye as I sat at the red light, and he passed an infectious belly laugh to me. Laughter and smiles. These are the sweet slices of life that I cherish.

It’s worth all the while. I’m having the time of my life.

01/Aug/2017
by Denise Krebs
Comments Off on A Wondrous Hidden Mud Puddle

A Wondrous Hidden Mud Puddle

I wrote the post below today for Teachers Write, but I thought I would share it here because it’s a slice of my life, though 20 years ago. I was thinking of Arizona a lot today because I baked a lemon meringue pie and because the weather is really hot and steamy here in Bahrain, a little like Arizona during the monsoon season. When I saw today’s prompt, this wondrous mud puddle came to mind.

A wondrous puddle is hidden in the Bermuda grass most of the year. Who would have thought there was magic in that small bald patch of yard? The patch near the naval orange tree where the grass can’t grow has the approximate diameter of a large kiddy pool, but the comparison ends there. There is nothing tame about this piece of earth when the rains come.

Unfortunately, Mom never let them flood it with the hose. Otherwise they could have enjoyed mud baths all summer long, mud baths that were simultaneously exhilarating and restful. Mud baths that put grit in their teeth, long-lasting cakes under their fingernails, and the smell of magic in their nostrils. Instead, these girls were forced to pray for rain.

On this day, monsoon winds come. Dust is in the air. Finally, raindrops the size of 50-cent pieces splotch the deck around the pool and back porch. And, yes, the drops are even noticeable in the sticky caliche soil near the orange tree. The girls watch from the French door windows, willing the drops to keep falling. Please not another false rain alert is their unspoken prayer. So often the muddy drops end as a vain attempt to wash the dirt out of the sky, a tease of petrichor they can feel and smell even in the house. More often than not, in Phoenix, the summer rains stop not only before they wash the dust out of the air, but well before they fully wet sidewalks or muddy the hopeful spot in the yard.

This time, though, it’s different. The magic is working. Not just pitter patter. These drops are thunk thunk thunking on the roof, ping ping pinging on the tin cover of the A/C unit in the yard, and quietly invading the dry soil around the orange tree. It is a real monsoon rain. Finally. The season came late this year, but today rain will win the battle to uncover the wondrous mud puddle.

18/Jul/2017
by Denise Krebs
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Slice of Life – Interviewing My “Expert”

Yesterday I was considering doing some research about how to make a Mars Curiosity model for my Teachers Write Monday assignment. The assignment, by Sarah Albee, was to do nonfiction research, particularly to talk to an expert. However, I am spending my writing time this summer working on a children’s fiction story. Plus, since I’m hanging out at home with my husband after his eye surgery, he became my “expert.”

My Mr. Fix-it husband would know what kind of motor I needed and how to make the Mars model. I wanted it to be made of cardboard for a shout out of sorts to making, to Caine Monroe, Nirvan Mullick, and the subsequent Cardboard Challenge and Imagination Foundation.

Keith suggested I would need a base to hold the motor. He said you’d want to make a base out of plastic or something.

I argued. “It doesn’t have to be perfect. I’m not really making it. No one who reads it is going to know if it’s really feasible,” I said.

He acted like he didn’t hear me.

He found a rubber band car on YouTube. After watching the first minute, he said, “OK, here’s what Bailey needs to do. Make the base with straws and toothpicks, like in the video. You can use the bottle caps for wheels. This will be strong enough to hold the motor from the broken RC car he’s going to find abandoned at the thrift shop.”

“OK, maybe,” I said when I woke up this morning.

It was also after the part last night, when I snatched my Chromebook from him and gave the I-said-I’m-not-really-going-to-make-it-!-don’t-you-get-that-? speech.

So here’s a short scene from my story after my “expert” interview:

“Hey, Bailey, look what I found at work today!” Dad came bolting into the kitchen through the back door, the wooden-framed screen door bouncing behind him. Bailey was sitting at the round yellow Formica table–what Bailey used to call “our sunshine table”–munching Oreos dipped in milk. “Some gals ordered smoothies for lunch and they came with these jumbo straws. Perfect, right?” He held up two shiny straws, one peachy cream color and one lavender.

“Perfect?” Bailey said. “Dad, the Curiosity is like white, gray and black. How can these be perfect?”

“Oh, but look how strong they are. You can’t even bend ‘em. They must be close to a half inch in diameter. And heck, we can spray paint them black.”

“Black would be good. Won’t we need more?”

“I asked the women to save more for us. They said they order a few times a week. I had never even noticed them until I saw them in the garbage today. You know, after we watched that YouTube video yesterday.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think that was going to work,” Bailey was still suspicious about it.

“Let’s give ‘er a try after supper. What do you think? And, hey, why are you eating Oreos now?”

11/Jul/2017
by Denise Krebs
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My Husband

My husband talks a lot and makes me laugh. Here are some snippets from our Friday afternoon.

While I started the car in the stifling ground level garage, Keith carried the hefty, plastic shopping bag overflowing with garbage toward the dumpster. When he came back to the car, he noticed I had opened my sunglasses case and had it sitting on the center console, ready to grab when we pulled out of the dark garage. He started in, “Now, what am I going to do? You know that’s my job. Are you taking my sunglasses job? Now, I guess I’ll just have to do my other side car driving tasks.” I began driving through the cramped garage. “Watch out…Don’t hit that wall…Careful, there’s a car…Ooh, that was close.”

“OK, wise guy, you can keep your job.” When I got to the door of the garage, I handed him my regular eyeglasses and waited for him to pass me the sunglasses. I put them on and pulled into the narrow alleyway, into the 110-degree heat. (It feels like 113, so the humidity isn’t that bad today.) “So, which mall should we go to?” I asked my husband, who is exponentially more opinionated than I about such things.

“Let’s go to the little fancy mall in the Seef district,” my husband said, “It won’t be so crowded on the weekend.” I turned the car toward the mall of our Friday afternoon walk.

As we rode along, I said, “OK, I have some advice I could give you about church today, if you are interested. About prayer.”

“Yeah, go ahead.”

“Well, when all the pastors and elders were in front praying for individuals, you were the only one I could hear.”

“Oh, no, did I leave my mic on?”

“No, the mic wasn’t on. I think you just need to work on your whisper.”

“Ah, I was projecting! I learned that in seminary.”

“Yeah,” I laughed, “but you shouldn’t broadcast the person’s prayer request. ‘God, help this sister get over her drug addiction.’ Just kidding. I didn’t really hear that.”

“You maybe just heard my voice above all the others because you are so in love.” I could sense him staring and batting his eyes.

“Oh, yes, that’s it.”

Lots more side car driving, “50…50…50…the speed limit is 50!” And later, “I would have gotten off at this exit.” That sort of thing until we arrived at the upscale mall.

“Oh, look, Denise. This place was named after us!” It was a chocolate fountain restaurant called Dip N Dip. We had to stop for a selfie:

At this point, I remembered my little writer’s notebook I was planning to carry this month for Teachers Write. I said, “Hey, I need to write down some of those things you’ve been saying that made me laugh today, but I’ve already forgotten on the way here. Maybe I’ll write about you today, funny guy. Can you remind me what made me laugh today?”

“Just write everything I say. You can actually record it. Keep the audio going all day long. That way when I die you can listen and laugh anytime, or cry maybe.”

“Oh, never mind!”

We took a lovely walk around this high-end mall. High-end, yes: For instance, I walked into one small shop with an “up-to-90%-off” sign in the window. I was curious. The first thing I saw on the rack was a long, single-knit teal dress with some embroidery through the middle. It looked like a prom dress. BD1780 was the original price, and the marked down price was BD178 (What? Almost $500!)

“Thank you,” I said, as someone came up to see if they could help me. “I just wanted to take a quick look.” I slipped out after looking at only one price tag. This place was out of my price range, even with 90% off.

When I told Keith about it, he said, “We’ll come back when it’s 99% off.”

It’s a good thing I don’t need a prom dress.

     *      *      *      *     *

On the way home, we enjoyed listening to music on a playlist that Keith created.

It has Beatles, Kansas, and lots of his other favorites–pop, rock and roll, and gospel. I’m not really big on music, but one day, I did say, “How about Gordon Lightfoot and Simon and Garfunkel?” My old time favorites. The next time we went in the car, he had a new playlist including some of my favorites.

Today, when “Rainy Day Lovers” came on, I asked him if he even likes Gordon Lightfoot.

“He’s OK,” he said. We talked about rainy days and loving.

     *      *      *      *     *

When we came back, I baked chocolate-dipped peanut butter cookies to bring to a dinner tonight.

Keith exercised and then came into the kitchen to drink water. Afterwards, he dug into the dish drainer looking for his coffee pots for tomorrow morning. “I’ve never seen anyone who can stack dishes like you. You are super talented in that area! No one else can stack like you, Denise!” He began putting some dishes away. He finally made it down to one of his coffee pots. (I think he has a half dozen). He shook the water out of the pot and gave me some advice, “You know, for dishes to dry, it’s best not to use the super burial method of stacking.”

     *      *      *      *     *

It’s a work day for him tomorrow, so he was ready for bed before me. “Good night,” I said. I wanted to stay up and finish this blog post before I went to bed. “I love you.”

“Yeah, that’s what she says now.”

“Thanks for making me laugh.”

“Yes, I am a Dad joke.”

That you are, but I wouldn’t want you any other way.

“Rainy day lovers don’t hide love inside, they just pass it on.”

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