A Review for Hidden Manna on a Country Road

Hidden Manna on a Country Road: Seeing God’s Daily Provision All Around Us by Sarah Geringer

Sarah’s insights are profound though camouflaged in ordinary natural settings that we tend to overlook. I live in rural Missouri so I easily identify with her revelations. I appreciate the scriptural references, the meditative tone and the prayers. Reading Hidden Manna is allowing me to ‘exhale’ and embrace my present with much more hope and expectation.

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A Walk in the Park

Happy Take a Walk in the Park Day! Celebrate March 30 by getting  that derriere upright and moving in the outside air. Outside offers doors and windows to opportunity and insight – benefiting body, mind and spirit.

It doesn’t cost  a penny to walk in your own yard or neighborhood. Though it costs a few more cents than usual to drive to a city park, paved walkways and faces met in passing offer safety and social benefits. Fancy shoes and duds are not necessary. 

Feeling sluggish and unmotivated? That’s the best time to  walk. Increased energy is a welcome by-product and brains appreciate it, too.

Some stress management recommendations make me feel more stressed  trying to get it right. Walking actually combats stress instead of creating more, so it’s worth the effort to get up and out. In spite of myself,  blood pressure lowers and the blues take a break. 

With the simple focus on what my senses perceive along the route, walks in the park can promote mindfulness. Decreasing sensory overload doesn’t have to be a chore.

When mobility is an issue from time to time, opening the window by my chair and turning off the noise makers, or sitting on the porch without a device in hand relaxes my body and mind and gives my spirit a chance to balance.

Our world is distressed –  the one right here  – as well as the one ‘out there’ and dealing with it all takes a toll. I will think I’m managing, then wham…I’m not. During walks I find words for my prayers, feel the miracle and joy of nature, find my emotional footing and carry on.

“To be admitted to Nature’s hearth costs nothing. None is excluded, but excludes himself. You have only to push aside the curtain.” Henry David Thoreau

For Close to Home column in March 2022

A view across our community garden in Doniphan, MO
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Rambling Brainstorms

I  lived in Doniphan for several years but for about 30 years I worked within the city limits.  Now I spend tons of time here. I acknowledge that it’s easy for folks like me – boomers with idle brains and time –   to spout off ideas when they don’t have a clue what all is involved. There are rules, policies, regulations and restrictions galore for every aspect of life. 

Today, count me among those who have hair brained ideas and good intentions who say, “Why don’t THEY…?”  Really good ideas come from brainstorming sessions involving more than one caffeinated hopscotching mind. Maybe my thoughts can be like rocks kicked around until rough gems are spotted.

If you haven’t noticed, we have a lot of green spaces in town, with the prospects of up to a dozen more, thanks to FEMA funding and those pesky policies. Are there ways to utilize some of the spaces so they become more than just another lot to mow? Could  green spaces be assets for residential use and destinations for visitors? Do city officials bear the total burden of deciding or could DNAP or the Chamber have worthy input?

Here are only a few of my rambling thoughts. (I have a 300-word limit.)

*Dog parks – Dog walkers could unleash four-footed pals for play times. Poplar Bluff has one for small breeds and one for larger canines.

*Labyrinths – I’ve walked several of various sizes. Thick sod could be laid in different patterns/sizes. Mow right over. Hospitals and churches use them. Eye appeal and value.

*Connected attractive walkways lined with our beloved dogwood or redbud trees. (I love walking the oval in the community garden).

*More community gardens – maybe with themes/sponsors that morph into lighted displays at Christmas.

*Durable benches here and there.

What are your thoughts on this?

For Close to Home column in The Prospect-News March 2022

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International Be Happy Day

While skimming the wacky bizarre calendar to satisfy my curiosity and search for topic ideas, I sometimes stumble onto information new to me. Coming up is International Be Happy Day, an actual global holiday sanctioned by the United Nations. Each year the UN  selects a theme for this special day on March 20. 

With so much affecting the globe, it seems an insurmountable task to promote happiness worldwide.

But it isn’t impossible. It starts with one – one individual taking  personal responsibility for that emotion – and realizing it is easy to share.

Situations can be overwhelming, circumstances dire, but with the flip of a focus switch some ordeals can take a backseat to smiles and fun if just for a while. It is not uncommon to feel guilty for carrying on when others in the world are suffering, but we don’t want to put aside our traditions that include family, friends and neighbors. While we carry on, we can search for ways to draw attention to  and contribute to solutions for world-wide issues. Donations to charitable groups help them serve hurting populations. It may seem like a small contribution, but every bit helps.

It is said  that music is made by the spaces between the notes. I recently heard a  guest on a radio talk show suggest that the making of history is like that. Sure, major historical events like hurricanes and tsunamis, wars and pandemics, make it into the history books. But so will records of  the daily lives of the world’s peoples. There are still weddings performed, babies born, birthdays and anniversaries celebrated, gardens planted and harvested and inventions patented around the world during and between horrific upheavals.  Culture is also part of history. 

“Keep Calm, Stay Wise, Be Kind.”  That’s the UN theme for March 20, 2022.  It certainly can’t hurt.

For Close to Home column in The Prospect-News for March 2022

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Time Shuffle

We will set  clocks to ‘spring’ forward at 2 a.m. on March 13 this year. 

That is not an accurate statement, now that I think about it. I am one of many who, in times past, managed to set only one clock correctly before going to bed the night before Daylight Saving Time kicked in. Then I would spend weeks, maybe months, playing guessing games with the other clocks in my life – on the stove, in the car, on entertainment devices, etc. That was less challenging than figuring out how to reset them. 

Now I can still play the guessing games if I want to, but I seem to pay no mind to most clocks these days. The important one – the one on my phone – changes all by itself in the middle of the night. Because I am a natural worrywart, I still play guessing games the next morning. Did it really change? How do I know? It’s futile to use anything but another phone to verify.

Research shares steps we can take to make our physical adjustment a little less frustrating.

*Try going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier a few days before the switch. For some of us that will mean turning off our screened devices a bit earlier as well.

*Don’t alter other routines and times. Stick to the same meal times, exercise regimens and social outings. 

*Enjoy some sunshine in the early mornings if possible.

*If napping is routine, take naps earlier in the day and keep them short – no  more than 20 minutes.

*Four to six hours before bedtime, limit beverages like caffeine and alcohol. They can interfere with sleep quality during the transition to the new time.

Happy Daylight Saving Time, says no one ever. At least it isn’t a Friday, the 13th.

(For Close to Home in The Prospect-News, March 2022)

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Poem from a Treehouse

Fashioned pristine

By One Supreme

With love so keen

For you and me.


Stunned by the sheen

Of the lush green,

A treetop scene.

So pure and clean.


Rather obscene

Man can be mean,

Not to demean

Though it has been.


Mankind’s a fiend,

Easily seen,

Easy to glean.

What is serene?


Nature’s blasphemed – 

A dirty stream…

A fading dream…

By some unseen.

AirBnb Getaway Treehouse, Cassville, MO: The view from the back deck. I’m not cut out for beach bumming. I’m more of a forest wanderer.
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Go Figure!

Get comfortable in a favorite chair, book in hand, cat in lap…and the phone rings from the adjoining room.

Decide to use cash instead of card, come up one dollar or one dime short. Use card.  Get back into car and see one dollar in cupholder or one dime on the floormat.

Be almost asleep with pillow fluffed perfectly, covers and temperature just right, cat happy with his spot when brain flashes message…forgot to take blood pressure med.

Buy assorted flavors of Chapstick to have multiple tubes for purse/coat/car. All get misplaced except the one liked least. When other tubes are found, they are all in the same coat pocket.

Clear stuff from car to vacuum. Forget to put umbrella back in. First outing, downpour happens.

Texts habitually interrupt 20-minute power naps. Change nap schedule. Doze off. Receive text.

Some days a bed head self looks better than the fixed-up self.

Out of an ingredient for a favorite recipe. Make do and discover the modification is better.

The only local grocery has been out of canned biscuits for weeks.

Figure out the craving after filling up on stuff that didn’t satisfy.

Watch a new series that is the greatest…then discover no episodes beyond season one. How is a season defined these days with so many networks? How long till season two?

Throw away several single socks. Two days later, find missing matches.

Receive car back after extended service time. First outing, a blinker quits.

Lose a favorite pair of jeans. Months later find them on a hanger under a long skirt. Closets are overrated.

Boomers’ grandmas made desserts with magnificent meringues – in taste and appearance – without using blow torches in the kitchen.

I had some more examples. I will remember them after I submit this column.

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Beware of First Impressions

“You can’t judge a book by its cover.” That’s a phrase I’ve heard a time or two. My generation often assumed a variety of ‘truths’ based on appearances and language. It was drilled into me growing up that I had only one chance to make a first impression. 

School dress codes reflected the success of this programming. If my recollections aren’t too blurry, the rules for the boys seemed pickier than those for the girls. All I had to worry about during my senior year at Doniphan High School  was the length of my skirt. (I don’t remember if there were any rules about covering my midriff and cleavage. My raisin’ guaranteed that wouldn’t be an issue.) The boys had to tuck in their shirts, wear belts and socks and keep their hairstyles above their collars.

Making assumptions these days on first impressions increases the likelihood of missing out on great reads, for instance. A favorite reviewer of mine gave high praise to a novel she recently critiqued after noting she almost didn’t even open it. She found the image on the cover startling and made what turned out to be a totally false assumption about the plot. That’s taking ‘not judging a book by its cover’ quite literally.

We can miss out on much more than fabulous fiction if we fall into that narrow-minded first-impression trap. I’ve eaten marvelous meals in the humblest of settings, heard fascinating melodies and lyrics from genres I habitually shunned, been awed by the knowledge and expertise of rednecks, long-haired hippies and Gen X’ers, Z’ers and millenials!

What is most alarming are my beloved friendships that might have never flourished had I made snap judgments on first interactions. Wait,  just maybe I have that flip-flopped. I’m grateful they gave me a second chance at first impressions.

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A Valentine for Life

Happy Valentine’s Day, Life! 

   I love you as you are,

          Messy, imperfect,

Mixing laughter and joy

   With worry and strife.

You have stayed with me a while,

    Being awesome, teaching,

          Surprising, meddling

In my thoughts, keeping me

     On my toes, with style.

You march on with such patience

     For your lessons unlearned,

          Ignored, repeated.

At times you wonder if

     I have lost my sense.

I’m grateful you’re still around,

     Taking me as I am,

          Messy, imperfect,

Awed by your gifts of touch,

     Smell, taste, sight and sound.

Life, I don’t take you for granted!

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Though I enjoy life as I can amidst swirling pandemic clouds and virus storms, my road down memory lane is well-traveled. I won’t argue that with anyone. Many times I’m prodded by clever marketing strategies. Especially enticing to me are triggers targeting my sense of smell.

How many of you remember those days when air conditioning was almost nowhere?  Warm temps meant open windows and warmer Fahrenheit readings meant fans were running night and day, pulling steamy air out and inviting fresher and hopefully cooler air in. Summertime smells didn’t stick around. I have a few seasonal triggers associated with coconutty trails of suntan lotion, wet beach towels and the lighting of charcoal grills and fireworks.

It’s the mountain of scents associated with late fall and winter that initiates random mind aerobics for my memory muscles. My list would start with bacon frying, would include Pledge sprayed on my dustrag (part of my 50-cent allowance chores), the smell of freshly-cut Christmas trees and chocolate cake in the oven. Since my little sister was born in October, I could add precious scents associated with babies and the not-so-precious ones from stinky little brothers born mid-winter, the burning of wood inside and leaves outside. The long list interests only me.

These days scents of all sorts can be added to more than laundry detergent and candles. Like Chapstick. I grabbed a trio of lip ices labeled S’mores with tubes marked chocolate, marshmallow and graham crackers. I love all three. Should graham cracker smell linger? When it does,  a recollection of my happy s’more outings is quickly squelched by grimaces remembering…dare I say the ‘stench’ of dirty bath towels? On my lips, right under my nose, it’s a stench that lingers. That’s a memory road less traveled, for good reason.

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