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Jun

Ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? I just read about it today, and I can’t decide whether I’m comforted (because I think I’m ignorant) or disturbed (about all of the things that I don’t know that I don’t know).

You can read about it, here.

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Jun

I have a thing for old stairs. Don’t ask me why.

old stairs

These are old stairs. Please ignore the graffiti.

These particular stairs were kind of annoying, though. They were too shallow, and too wide. I think they were made that way so that horses could walk up them.

Really.

walking down old stairs

Some people walked down the old stairs like horses, but some decided it was easier to walk down the smooth slope on the side. Like this.

smooth slope

I confess that, until that moment, I had never considered the difficulties of riding a horse on stairs.

I did have a friend who adopted a greyhound who didn’t know how to go up stairs . . .

So the Perugians (is that what they’re called??) live in a city on a hill with stairs built for horses. Naturally, it could be difficult to navigate the city using modern transportation. I think that’s why we parked in a garage and walked all over.

car in Perugia

But the locals seem to be managing just fine. One more picture:

laundry

Can you imagine how annoying it would be if you dropped a sock, though? Or other things . . . how embarrassing!!

Jun

It’s too tempting.

Perugia

This is one of those times when I almost regret taking pictures. I think the pictures are supposed to bring back happy memories. They do bring happy memories, but they also bring discontent thoughts.

Really, who wouldn’t want to live in a walled city with a nifty tile roof, surrounded by green trees and a beautiful blue sky? Here’s a closer look in case you aren’t sure.

Perugia, closer

I think it looks amazing.

However, being a debater, I have to look at both sides. So, observation 1–lots of those old houses probably don’t have air conditioning. Observation 2–it’s hot there in the summer. Observation 3–look at the next picture.

Perugia, the crowded side

Observation 3–the houses are crowded, there’s graffiti, there’s lots of stairs, and I still don’t see a grocery store. That makes me feel a little bit better about not living in Perugia.

More about the stairs later.

Jun

When I was kid, we would go on long road trips to visit my grandparents. As we drove through different parts of the country, sometimes I would wonder, “what would it be like to live here?”

I always worried about those people who lived in the mountains, on curvy roads, surrounded by lots of trees and rocks. Miles and miles from the nearest grocery store. What happens when they run out of ice cream?

I’ve always said that my dream home is located on a country road, five minutes from a Wal-Mart.

So anyway, about landscapes. I grew up in lower Alabama, which is relatively flat, and has lots of trees. I didn’t think that we had lots of trees until I visited northern Illinois, where my husband grew up. They have not so many trees.

We had trees, but it was pretty flat, so you usually couldn’t see very far because the trees and buildings got in the way. I think that’s why I always wondered what it would be like to live on a mountain. Unfortunately, my phobia of living more than five minutes away from a grocery story always stunted my imagination on that subject.

Perugia landscape

This is the view from a high point in Perugia, Italy. I think I could get used to seeing this every day. It’s a great view, but there’s plenty of civilization. It’s not really in the mountains, but it’s got the highest hill in the immediate vicinity. Hence the great view.

Unfortunately, things are a bit crowded. And I don’t remember seeing any grocery stores. They probably look different in Perugia, so I didn’t recognize them.

Another Perugian Landscape

Still, isn’t that nice?

Jun

I like old places.

I’m going through some mission team photos tonight, and I came to this photo.

Old Street SignThis is a street sign from Perugia. Well, it’s sort of a street sign. The “street” was more like a passageway, and it was inside the citadel. Anyway, I think the sign is saying that this is the way to the plaza and a particular church.

I think it’s much nicer than our road signs.

This next picture encapsulates many of my pleasant memories from Italy.

corridorI loved walking down open corridors like this. The shade gave us a break from the heat, but we could look out as we walked along, and sometimes we could feel the breeze. And some of us might have wished that we were princesses gliding along in beautiful dresses, sipping iced tea and eating baci.

And then some of us might have remembered that 1) eating too many baci would make us fat and 2) our modern-day “normal” lives are much more comfortable than any princess’s life. Even princesses had to worry about intruders storming the castle. That’s what the citadel was for (protection, not for tourists).

I still wouldn’t mind having a corridor someday.

Jun

SLCBookMy friend slc makes books, like the one in the picture. I always love her books, but I’m especially intrigued by her newest creation: a neckheld book.

That’s right. A book, held by your neck. Also known as a book on a necklace. Or should we call it a neckbook? Check it out!

May

When my friend SLC at seemingly random sent a message saying that I could get a free spicy chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A, I was skeptical. I’ve learned that, when restaurants offer free food, people go crazy. Bad things happen. The chances of actually receiving the food are slim.

I signed up anyway.

The process was a little more complicated than I expected. Previously, with other restaurants, I would print out some coupon, and show up (only to find out that they’re out of food, but instead of telling you that, they tell you that your coupon is counterfeit even though it isn’t. Thanks a lot, KFC.). Chick-fil-A had a totally different approach. First, I had to choose my location. Then, I had to choose the date and time I wanted to come. THEN I got to print a coupon, and that coupon had my name and e-mail address. There was a link that allowed me to automatically add an appointment to my Outlook Calendar. The day before, I got an e-mail reminder.

Tim and I drove to Chick-fil-A today, anticipating our sandwiches. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were parking spaces available. Plenty of people were eating inside, but there was definitely room for us. The employees greeted us, and treated us like valued customers. [I guess that’s not unusual. Chick-fil-A employees are always impeccably polite.]

It was a wonderful experience. Kudos to Chick-fil-A for having a give-away, and for handling it excellently.

This is just another reason why I go to Chick-fil-A on a semi-regular basis, even though it costs a little more than other fast food places. I also love their lemonade. And their icecream. And the chicken.

Feb

Introduction:

My parents are out of town, and I’m staying with my sisters. Right now, my role is mostly taxi-driver and cook. My grandmothers both live nearby, so I’m also helping them however I can. Grandmama¬† is my mom’s mom. She’s almost fiercely independent, even though she is blind and can’t get around very well.

Story:

This morning, Kara and Stephanie and I loaded into the van and headed out to pick up Grandmama and go to church. As we turned onto her street, we noticed a police car. It was parked in the middle of the street, mostly blocking the way. Behind it were cars, people, and firetrucks. The policeman wasn’t there, but some neighbors were standing out in their yard. I rolled down my window.

“What happened?” I asked.

“A fire.”

“Which house? Do you know which house?”

They didn’t.

I squeezed the van around the police car, heart pounding. There were at least three huge fire trucks, and they were right in front of Grandmama’s house. I thought, “There’s been a fire at Grandmama’s house. She probably left the stove on and didn’t realize it. And if there was a fire in her house, she probably wouldn’t get out. She probably died in that fire.” I briefly wondered why no one had called us, but realized there probably hadn’t been enough time. There was still smoke in the air.

But the smoke wasn’t coming from Grandmama’s house. It was the house across the street. The back corner of the roof was black, and the house sported tyvek instead of siding.

I never did see the policeman, but people were out in their yards everywhere. I stopped and asked if everyone was ok. They were. No one was hurt.

I couldn’t get to Grandmama’s driveway, so I parked on the street by the edge of her yard.

I rang the doorbell. Soon she came to the door, I explained what had happened, and we walked across the yard to the van. Then we went to church, even more thankful for Grandmama than when we woke up that morning.

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Feb

Simplify. Declutter. Eliminate. Streamline.

These are big themes in my life right now. I’m frustrated by the amount of clutter (physical and mental) in my life right now, but my progress in simplifying has been halting, at best. Today, I was thinking about how I could simplify, and I had a very freeing thought.

You can’t change what other people expect from you, but you can change what you expect from yourself. Therefore, you can simplify by eliminating expectations for yourself. It’s something that you can do almost instantly, and the results are wonderful.

Think through your task list, and even beyond it to the “ought list.” The “ought list” is that impossibly long list of things you ought to do, hope to do, beat yourself up about, but know you’ll never get to. In my case, my ought list contains the beginnings of projects that sounded wonderful at the time, but no longer hold any interest to me. In many cases, the ought list contributes to clutter in my house. I save things that I ought to use for a craft, and books that I ought to read.

The crazy thing is–no one is telling me to read those books. No one else cares if I read those books. I’m the one that decided that I should read them, and now I don’t want to read them anymore. So guess what? I don’t need to read them. And I don’t need to make those crafts. In fact, I can cut my losses and get rid of the clutter associated with those “oughts.”

You can do it too.

Jan

On the drive to Italy, we were supposed to spend our time practicing Italian.

Mountain on the way to Italy

The drive to Italy

We had trouble concentrating, though. I heard a rumor that some people were listening to Pavarotti, too.

When we arrived at our host church in Fontannafredda, we felt very welcome. Why? Well, there was a welcome sign. (more…)

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