Trouble entering giveaway

The internet, says my husband, is not as nice a place as we’d like to think. It is more like a dark alley, and every second of every day, there are hands reaching out to rattle the doorknobs, checking, checking, checking all down the alley for any unguarded portal.

I hate that image, it gives me the heebie-jeebies; so I thought I’d share it with you.

Apparently in the past month, my blog has come under attack by an unprecedented number of spam subscriptions. In an effort to address that issue, we tightened some security settings and inadvertently shut down the comment section. Also our email sending service, as I informed you, went on the blink for undisclosed reasons of its own, and failed to notify my readers of the giveaway.

All that to say, it was the quietest giveaway I’ve ever started. The funny side of the story is that in my original post, I’d written “Today, September Farm is offering you a chance to win one of their Small Samplers free of charge. (Seriously, did I just see you jump out of your seat? I know there’s exciting stuff here, but my gracious. Calm down.) Each Small Sampler includes…”

I hit publish, and the next morning I awoke to no comments. Zero. Not one, and I thought, “Good grief, people, I didn’t mean that calm…”

Even after we figured out the email notification issue and I breathed easier and sent another email to let you know about the giveaway, it took us another hour or two to figure out that comments had been disabled. We fixed that (we thought) and are still hearing reports that commenting is not working properly. So our problems are not behind us.

How is it that I can lump along writing about nothing for weeks and things go fine, and as soon as I collaborate with someone else and care about it more, everything blows up as predicted by Mr. Murphy? Believe it or not, we are not doing this to exasperate you. But I’m so sorry if we’re succeeding.

I need you to do me a favor.

If you want to enter the September Farm giveaway and are having trouble leaving a comment on my blog, please email your comment to sharizook@gmail.com and I’ll take care of copying and pasting it to the right place.

If you’re not sure if your comment already posted, double check by searching the page. (Control + F enables you to “Find” text, including your name.)

If you are having trouble accessing parts of the blog, subscribing to my posts, leaving a comment, or otherwise living a happy life online, and you would like to help us solve the problem, please email my tech-support husband at ryan@zookcomputer.com. Your feedback helps us address the issues!

Most of all, thank you for hanging in there with us and our technology. Blogs are human too…

Or something.


As of Nov 14, the September Farm giveaway is closed.

Gifts of great beauty

So now that we are talking to each other, what should we talk about?

If I were a smarter blogger, I would have quickly followed up on your willingness to talk with a titillating post on a hot topic, like “Q: What do you think of The Shack?” (A: I don’t think of it at all. What shack?)

I’m not stupid, I’m just stubborn. And occasionally tongue-tied.

So this is a popcorn post – random bits of delight from my days – and then you can share some of yours with me.


First I have a few things to say about food. I found a new favorite cake: chocolate, with maple and buttercream frostings alternating. So yummy.

I’ve been eating my Grandma Grace’s peanut butter toast for breakfast (okay, my peanut butter toast made her way; I’m not stealing poor granny’s brekky). Take a piece of wheat bread and toast it. Spread with peanut butter and long slices of banana. Top with honey and cinnamon. I’m not sure if it’s *that good* because it’s *that good* or because I grew up on it.

This is my favorite lunch: a changing kaleidoscope of color, texture, and flavor. The best edible cure I know for gray days.

I’m spending lots of time with my family. I was watching this basketball game happen and they said “Do you want to play?” and I sort of laughed and panicked because I don’t know the rules. But I said yes, and it was actually fun. No one took pictures of that part, which on the whole is probably a good thing.

Then I found this on my kitchen counter, a teeny bouquet tied up with grass.

Only a six-year-old can be that artistic and precise with weeds, turning them into gifts of great beauty. I love that about her.

She is growing her writing skills too, and has spent much time on this paper just for the fun of it, imitating her big brothers’ assignments. (click to enlarge)

Spring has sprung in Meadville. Last fall I finally remembered to plant the bulbs for which I long in March, crocuses and tulips and daffodils and hyacinths, and I can’t wait to see more of them pop.

I am thinking often of Easter, remembering the wonderful things we did last year to celebrate. This year we are adding handicrafts in the form of glittery eggs from Dollar Tree strung on bare branches. I can’t stop looking at them. I never know how to decorate for this holiday, but if eggs are a symbol of new life, I cannot think of anything more appropriate for Easter than new life hung on a Tree.

Plus it makes the children busy and happy, cutting and twisting all that wire.

We revived last year’s mercy garden, with fresh things from the yard and gardens. On Easter weekend I will put a candle in the tomb.

I think it is so amazing that I found an incredible photo backdrop I didn’t know I had, in the form of my dilapidated basement doors (above). Isn’t that smashing? You might see more of them in future. I always assumed foodie bloggers had cardboard backgrounds they stood behind their masterpieces… I didn’t know they carried the food outside and set it on top of their junk.

But talking of eggs, my son brought me a real trophy from his flock. “Imagine being a hen laying normal eggs and then having to lay this one,” he said.

She is doing well on bedrest.


What popcorn would you like to share from your days? Three pieces at random.

Happy Tuesday!
Shari

My mother

Confession: There is a whole new level of pain and beauty involved in seeing your mother without her hair. It was such pretty hair, long and thick and shining white. I miss it, and I miss the part of her that is not the same without it.

The first time she took off her hat to show me her shorn head, it was a jolt and a sickness, a thing wrong with the world that could never be made right.

But I also got a good look at her face. It seemed revealed, as though a skin had been pulled away, giving a glimpse of personality I’d never seen before. I’m a face reader, but I had missed a whole layer in my mother.

Once I went to a ladies’ seminar where each attendee was asked to bring along a sheet and a pillowcase, no explanations given. When I arrived at the registration table, I was told to wrap the sheet all around my clothes and put the pillowcase on my head, covering all of my body but my face. Every lady at the seminar wore that absurd disguise for half the day, and I was a little sulky about it and let some of my hair show. But the point was (and I liked it afterwards) to see how you felt about yourself, and how you viewed other people, if all you could see was a face.

Gone were the quick summaries – Oh, she goes to that kind of church – She has gray hair, so she must be over this age – Wow, nice dress – Okay, I’d never wear that together – She’s a trendsetter – That one’s Amish – All of it was gone. All you had were the faces, and what nice, friendly faces they were! Separated from all other impressions, they were more visible, more speaking, more important.

So with my mom.

She has common sense and grit and earthy wisdom and not-quite-kosher humor in that face.

And she is not well right now. But she is well cared for. It’s a team effort, loving a cancer fighter, and I am a small cog in the wheel with my four kids and my multi-faceted sickness germs to steer away.

But family and friends are offering incredible support. My siblings and their spouses send up love and texts and beautiful gift packages – my two nurse brothers stay tuned to her numbers and vitals – my remarkable sister with a cancer history of her own used her furlough to offer in-home support for a whole month – and my dad is doing everything else singlehandedly. Okay, not quite. There are many, many other givers: You know who you are. Thanks so much for doing this for my mom.

On the right is my mom with my baby, last summer. On the left is my mom’s mom with me!

We are very proud of her. And God is in the redeeming business.

Shari

Hello again

Gingerly
I feel down the length of myself
Like an animal after a tumble
Which critical parts am I missing?

But I cannot feel
And I cannot tell

My house is silent
Three big children off to school
Two toddlers who were with us, and are not
One baby sleeping
My head aches while my heart stands cool
Empty
Shell shocked
Riddled with child-sized holes

There is less confidence than there was a year ago
And more fear in dark places
A rough edge of paranoia

There is more quiet
A calm I did not foresee
I am so still
That the things unmoving swirl about me
Air, conversations, time
There is time
Though I do not remember the rules for how to use it

Slump
Went my days
And I went to bed late and got up late
And made lunch late and forgot to plan supper
There was no one to scream at me.
There is pain in my body
There is much I just say or go mad
And much I will not say
Believe me when I tell you
You will not see it all

Everyone says honest
But I am least of all the people I know
And I don’t remember those rules either
Too much? Too little? and
I have learned to smile.

I have walked through darkness
And found the unblinking eye of the heavens
I have lain down before it as in the last great sleep
And had nothing in my hand but pain
And been nothing in the world but a prayer

May my fear melt into the cauldron of his love
And new confidence be forged in him

Hello world.

Giveaway winner

Confession: I’m back. I just couldn’t take it anymore, all that Scripture reading and local community.

Just kidding.

But I did get my bathrooms cleaned.

I’m popping in today to announce the winner of our coffee giveaway for R&R Roasters. Congratulations, Rosalie, who said “I can almost smell the delicious aroma already!” Your faith has saved you, go in peace. And I’ll email you instructions for claiming your beans.

Thanks to all who joined the fun! Remember you can purchase the goodness for yourself.

Happy summer!

Shari

*****

Winner was chosen by random.org. Apparently it places a high value on faith as well.