Three Thoughts for Thursday

Three Thoughts for Thursday

The end of summer, a new exhibit at the Louvre, and the Man of Steel's latest adventures in this week's 3 thoughts.


  1. The saddest day of summer is when the public swimming pool gets drained. It’s just so final.
  2. Several passersby on our Gravel Road have mentioned seeing the Man of Steel mow the lawn with a 40 pound pack on his back. Lest a rumor starts that I banished him and all his possessions to the yard, please note that he is training for a mountain climbing adventure. (I’m not making this up.)
  3. One of this summer’s exhibits at the Louvre in Paris is a Barbie doll retrospective. Can you imagine what her presence is doing to Mona Lisa’s smile?

What makes you sad at the end of summer? Leave a comment.


Top Ten Reasons There’s No Place Like Home

Top Ten Reasons There’s No Place Like Home

Ten reasons weary travelers look forward to coming home.My spring and summer gallivanting ended a month ago, and so far, staying put is all I want to do. Here are ten reasons there’s no place like home.

10. The people at here speak my language. Not just English. But midwestern English. As in talk about sweet corn, State Fair, heat, humidity, sleeping weather, and knowing how many miles you’ve driven by the number of gravel roads passed.

9.  When something is misplaced, I know it’s somewhere in the house rather than in another state, another country, or snuggled up next to the dirty underwear in my suitcase.

8.  It’s easier to stay organized at home than on the road because…

7. …everything is in its proper place. Except when #9 occurs, which is far too often.

6.  Iowa in August and September is so beautiful, I can hardly stand the thought of being gone for even a minute of it.

5.  Sunday worship with believers in other parts of the world is a blessing, but Sunday worship with our local church family is a blessing and a comfort.

4.  Cooking in our kitchen means being able to eat everything on the table, including dessert, without asking if it’s dairy-free.

3.  At home, when #7 rather than #9 is in effect, there’s time to think deeply and do what I like to do best–get lost in writing.

2.  Home is where I can Facetime often with two of my grandkids, play with the other one whenever we want, and share the day with our daughter and son-in-law.

1.  For 39 years, whenever I’ve had to travel without the Man of Steel, he’s the one who makes the house feel like home when I return.

What makes you say, “There’s no place like home?” Leave a comment.


Top Ten Effects of Digging a Trench Around the Basement

Top Ten Effects of Digging a Trench Around the Basement

A project to correct drainage issues around an old house can do more than dry out a basement as this list shows.An old house, even one that’s been kept in excellent repair, is a series of fix it projects. The summer project at this old house involves correcting some basement drainage issues. Step one in the project was to dig a trench to expose the basement walls around most of the house, which has resulted in these top ten effects.

10. The exterminator had dollar signs in his eyes when he gave a quote for termite barrier protection.

9.  This project, like all home repairs, will cost more than expected. See #10 to learn why.

8.  Someone sweeps up tracked in dirt several times a day. That someone is not the same person who tracks in the dirt.

7.  The heavy duty cycle on the washing machine is seeing heavy use.

6.  We prefer to think of the dirt piles around the house as creative landscaping.

5.  A trench where flowerbeds used to live means much less summer weeding.

4.  From the waist up, the Man of Steel is now very tan. Yes, that includes the top of his head.

3.  The basement feels drier already.

2.  The adults in the house stay alert when the 16-month-old is outdoors because large holes and towering dirt piles are kid magnets.

1.  A video of Papoo (aka: Man of Steel) operating an excavator elevates an ordinary grandpa to superhero status in the eyes of a 3 1/2 year old, machine and tool-obsessed grandson.

Are you doing home repairs this summer? What unexpected effects have you observed? leave a comment.



Three Thoughts for Thursday

Three Thoughts for Thursday

Back from Alaska, no more empty upstairs, and bathroom etiquette in today's three thoughts.

  1. I recently spent 10 days alone at our house while the Man of Steel visited his brothers in Alaska.
  2. Tomorrow my daughter and her family are moving into our empty upstairs.
  3. #1 & 2 explain why today is devoted to a crash course in remembering to shut the bathroom door before availing myself of the facilities.

What are your bad habits when you have the house to yourself? Leave a comment.

Muffin Mysteries for a Fantastic Friday

Muffin Mysteries for a Fantastic Friday

When the biggest mystery in the house is muffins in the microwave, does it mean the residents of the house have memory problems?In the four years since this post first appeared on Down the Gravel Road, memory issues at the Philo house have only gotten worse. So much worse that this Fantastic Friday’s muffin mystery is one I don’t even remember. Which is why it’s worth solving a second time.

This morning, I was up bright and early. At 6:15 I left the house to walk, my back exercises, Bible study, and breakfast already completed. Ten minutes later, my phone rang.

By the time I fished it out of my pocket and untangled the iPod ear buds wrapped around it, and I inadvertently pressing several buttons, the caller gave up. The screen said it had been Hiram, so I tried to call back. But somehow I hit the mute button and had to hang up. Eventually he called back, and after explaining I really hadn’t hung up on him twice, he remembered why he called in the first place. Which is a miracle in itself, as the rest of the story proves.

“Did you put muffins in the microwave this morning?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered, and then added. “And I ate them. For breakfast.”

“Okay,” he said. “So these in the microwave are mine?”

I pondered the question for a moment.
I didn’t remember putting more muffins in the microwave.
But the older I get, the more I forget what I’ve really done.
The older I get, the more I confuse what I only considered doing with what I actually did. And the older I get, the more reality seems like a day dream and the more my day dreams feel like reality.

That’s when I realized Hiram and I have been married for a long time, and he’s rubbing off on me. As my internal dialogue confirms, though I have spent the last 35 years pulling him out of the anti-memory-time-and-space vortex where he lives, growing older is gradually sucking me into it with him. My days as household memory queen are numbered. Maybe even over already.

Hesitatingly, I answered. “I don’t think I would put a second set of muffins in the microwave. And my stomach feels full, so I ate mine.”

“Okay.” His voice remained cheerful and unperturbed. “They must be mine. I just don’t remember putting them there.”

I laughed. “We’re pathetic.”

He agreed, and we both hung up. I slipped the phone back in my pocket and felt something long and stringy wrap around it. I pulled the phone out again, along with a tangle of iPod ear buds.

Where in the world did those come from? I wondered. Then I stuffed them in my pocket and walked down the road cheerful and unperturbed.

Just like my husband.