Friday, August 10, 2007

Betty, and Visits

A quick note about Wednesday, when we had guests: Laura was so kind and generous to bring dinner. Part of that was fresh baked buns. Of course, I couldn't eat those, so I put some of yesterday's hash-browns in the broiler for my starch.

The smoke and some shouts reminded me that I had put them in there. There were flames. Not really big ones, but the kids were certainly excited about it.

As I shooed kids away from the oven, grabbed a pot holder, Matt said, "I'll get some water!" "No water, I said." The burning wasn't so bad that I couldn't eat most of the potatoes.

I started blowing out the flames. "I've got the water!" shouted Matt. "No water!" I told him.

Louisa opened the doors and I took the pan outside. The kids were fanning the smoke alarms, which all of a sudden realized their duty to warn us.

The flames were out, I set the pan down on the concrete to cool.

SPLASH, soggy wet hash-browns all over the concrete. "I got the water!" said Matt.

GRRR. Well, he was trying to help. "Matt, I said, 'no water.' The fire was not so bad. I'd hoped to eat the good stuff after the pan had cooled." The sudden flood of cool water warped the pan.

Well, it was the kid's first oven fire. I did have another one in 1994 when a year and a half old Jeremy left a toy car in the broiler of our gas oven in Chicago. We found out after I'd started baking.

I scooped up the potato/grit/dirt sauce and threw it away; brought the pan back in. Opened the windows to evacuate the smoke.

"Just like home," said Laura.

I fried up a potato. The dinner was great, thank you, Laura. I hope the theater of the event wasn't too much.

Wed eve' Lonny called and said they'd had to take Betty to the Hospital this afternoon. Her memory is going and she's not taking it well. It's very hard on Henry. Lonny said that she's in the nursing home in Bagley this evening.

Thursday morning, Louisa and I went to see Henry, we took him to Bagley and had devotion with him and Betty. Betty didn't recognize me at first, but she asked Louisa right away about her new baby sister. We stayed until about noon and brought Henry home.

After dinner (noon meal in N. MN) Louisa and I went to do visits in Thief River. Evelyn was home, but Ruby's family moved her to Bemidji late last week. The move was rather quick, and we don't have an address yet. Ruby's memory is failing also. Her family wanted her close to them so they could check on her every day. Evelyn hurt her foot last week, rather severely, but she is doing better and is able to walk about--as long as she doesn't over do it. When we finished up devotion, Ray and Blanche stopped by to visit Evelyn, and another neighbor popped in for a bit.

Louisa and I went off to TRCC to have devotion with my shut-ins there. Annie was in the dining hall but somewhat incoherent today. I gathered Shirley and Mable into Mavis' room. Louisa claimed the bed and played with the features of the bed. One of Mavis' grandsons is getting married this weekend. She had to show Louisa her beautiful new blue dress for the wedding. Mavis' back is much better with these steroid treatments she's been receiving. She hopes to go to the wedding with just her walker and O2--leaving the wheelchair in the trunk of the car.

Mable is doing better now. Her illness seems to have passed. But she's walking a bit more delicately yet.

Shirley is able to walk with a walker now. Therapy has done really good things for her after knee replacement surgery. She's not dancing--yet. And therapy hurts quite a bit. She has problems with low chairs and couches. She's off the strong pain meds she had been given last week.

Please keep all our shut-ins in your prayers.

Louisa and I didn't get home until 7:30.

Just before we got home, Mary had received a frenetic collect telephone call from a man who claimed to have met me last week at church. She gave me the name. Well, we had no visitors at Mt. O, OP, Naz, or St. Petri. And the name was not of any of the guests at Nathan's baptism. He needed to speak with a pastor or someone because there was an accident and a death. Mary gave him the number of one of our deacons. The man said he'd call back.

He didn't call back.

When Mary told me this I suspected a con artist. One can never be too sure, perhaps the person and his story was legit about the accident and such but that he'd dialed the wrong pastor. It was a cause of some anxiety because we couldn't assume this was a con. But neither could we figure out any way to try to help.

Friday, Alyssa came to do the bulletin. We called the deacon to see what he knew. The deacon said he'd received two calls at that time in the evening from one phone number he didn't recognize. The deacon had been outside at the time and missed the calls. The first call was a hang-up. The second on the answering machine was the request to accept collect charges. The deacon called the number on his caller-id. It was a motel in Florida. But the motel didn't recognize the name.

A con.

For those who haven't had the privilege of this kind of con, here's how it works. The con artist needs to identify his "mark" --the sucker who will give him money. This con uses an immediate tragedy and plays upon the urgency and the possibility that his mark might mistakenly think he has some familiarity with the con artist. So the con artist looks up people who he thinks are charitably minded and might have too much on their plate to remember a recent name.

The phone rings:
"Hello, will you accept a collect call from (random name)?" (Con artist in the background says "there's been a terrible accident."

The mark accepts the charges.

"Hi, this is Random Name, there's been a terrible accident. I'm from SomeNearbyCity, and met you/your pastor last week when I visited your church. (voice all trembling) I'm calling on a police courtesy phone, there's been an accident, he's dead. Can I talk to the pastor?"

The mark can hear the sounds of traffic and street noise in the background because the con artist is using a phone next to a busy road. To the mark it sounds choppy, urgent, and vaguely terrible.

The con artist then says he's a t SuchandSuch location--which he already knows, would be impossible for the pastor to get to--and asks for some physical assistance, like a ride home and to borrow a car. Actually, the police will provide a ride home for someone in an accident if their family can't get them.

The mark, says he can't possibly get there.

The con artist asks for some money to be sent so he can afford transportation in the next week, until insurance comes through. The hope is to have some money mailed or wired to the con artist.

The address will usually be unrelated to the con artist--like a mail-box that he knows he can go through before the person who owns the mailbox gets home from work. The con artist has spent a total of 5 minutes on the phone, and can get $50 or more dollars per con.

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